winter TO spring

The winter term has just finished up and spring term has begun. I enjoy this time because it is a chance to recharge, set new goals, and it is also a break from the regular schedule of classes. Because I had more free time, I made it to Toronto for two consecutive weekends to meet with friends and do various activities. You can tell it is spring when Toronto starts waking up with events of all kinds! May is also quite a birthday month and so there are many moments to celebrate being alive!

Two weekends ago I had opportunities to attend Pulp Paper Art Party, a launch for the sixth publication of Scapegoat, and the Gladstone GrowOp exhibition. You may remember that I went to Pulp Paper and Grow Op last year. I didn’t make it to Pulp Paper this time because I couldn’t find a place to stay on Friday night and also needed to finish up one last paper. I headed to Toronto on Saturday evening and met up with Farimah at Strada241, a great Italian restaurant on Spadina, for dinner. Afterwards we walked the backstreets southwest of Spadina and Dundas to find Unpack studio where the opening was happening. The book launch was for two different publications: Scapegoat 06 and Architecture in the Anthropocene. It was a lot of fun to meet new people and also see a few familiar faces. I stayed at Farimah’s place that night in Thornhill and woke up early the next day to give myself the hour it would take on transit to get to church. After church a group of us were gathering to get lunch, and then the Mugg’s offered to host us at their place. We had a fabulous lunch of salad and sausages and good fellowship. When we headed our separate ways, I decided to drop by the Gladstone Hotel to catch the last half hour of the Grow Op exhibition. Since there were only five minutes left by the time I got there, they let me in for free! I don’t have any photos of this weekend because I’m still without a camera, but here are pictures of my favourite Grow Op pieces: The first is called Crusher Run, triple mix and bark nuggets, a beautiful framing of layers of earth, and the second is Catharsis by Marie Pierre Daigle. I think the second one was part of a different collection on the third floor that was more related to textiles.

Next on the itinerary was to head to Parkdale to a bar called The Pharmacy to meet two girls from U of T who did their graduate theses in the DRC. They partnered with their research to propose a design for a vocational school in Nyalebbe in the Ituri province. It is located several hundred kilometers north of where I will be working in Beni. It was really great to hear about their experience. They created a studio called Reach Architecture in the process of doing this project and hope to build the school when they have gathered enough funding. I was lucky to have a place to stay with Jen from church for the night because it would have been very late to head home on the Greyhound that night. I left mid-morning instead back to Cambridge and ended a very wonderful weekend. I’m pretty sure I just recovered for most of that day!

The following weekend was slated to be just as full and exciting. On the Friday night I went to a party in the Loft that was made up of a lot of architecture alums who are working in Toronto but also a few others who came in from Cambridge. It was also a night of musical talent. We heard some amazing drumming, spoken word, and combinations of ukelele, guitar, and violin! It was fantastic! It only inspires me to play guitar even more and to hopefully write my own music and learn the violin some day. I stayed at the Logans that night and count myself fortunate to have a place where I could arrive late and let myself in quietly. The next morning I was surprised with a treat of a waffle breakfast because several of their friends from Grace had come to help Mike move some big boulders in the front yard. Then on a wim I joined a car that was headed to Guelph to check out Rob Hengeveld’s exhibition opening. I had most of the day to kill anyways so what was an hour drive to Guelph and then back? Rob is an artist from my church who does pieces that question the relationship between technology and nature. I really enjoyed his pieces. He had a sculpted hilly lawn that was being constantly mowed by a programmed milling machine. He also had a fairly large working roller coaster that had a mechanical wolf chasing a mechanical rabbit. My favourite was a fabricated elevator that almost looked convincing in a wall at the gallery, but instead of taking you to another floor, it brought you to level “P” for “paradise”. When the doors open you step out into a room that is transformed into a fabricated natural environment. The room is filled with different mechanical elements simulating nature such as mechanical tweeting birds and moving floating ducks on water. Once you are on the other side you can see that the elevator was completely constructed and that it simply pulls away from the original door, rotates, and then pulls up to a platform on the other side. I thought it was a great experiential piece that told an interesting story.

The next completely different part of my day was to return to Toronto and head to Yorkville to meet Vikkie, Rachel, and several of her friends at Babaluu for dinner and Salsa dancing to celebrate Vikkie’s birthday. Oh… not before I hung out at a very busy Timmie’s for two hours to kill time and transformed myself in their grungy bathroom by changing into my nice dress and putting on makeup! Now that’s typical nomad style! I’m glad I dressed up because Babaluu was very classy (at least for the dinner portion). We all ordered tapas to share and the food was delicious! At nine-thirty there was a teacher who began to teach some latin dance steps; there were too many people though and so I don’t think anyone learned much. I must say I had a better dance experience at the Plaza Flamingo when it was open and the Lula Lounge, two other Salsa clubs in Toronto. It was way too full in the place to even dance properly. Overall though it was still a nice evening to spend with some great people. I stayed with the Ellens that night which worked out because I was to join their Grace Gathering breakfast the next morning. We woke up pretty early and made delicious breakfast sandwiches and were joined by Rosy and the Muggs. Then we all headed to church together. After church I headed with the Wills to join the axe throwing party to celebrate Leah and Benissa’s birthday. I actually didn’t know Benissa until that day but I am glad I met her! The party was at BATL, the Backyard Axe Throwing League located at the Docks. I already knew there was such a thing because there was a small axe throwing club in the building where I worked for Philip Beesley in the Junction Triangle. It was way more fun and less scary than I thought it would be. That doesn’t mean that I was any good, but I did manage to sink several into the wood somewhere close to the center of the target. All of us got a chance to practice for a while, and then they arranged a round robin tournament. The action of throwing the axe is a similar motion to soccer throw-ins. My abs were sore for several days after! Whenever there was a tie, it would have to be broken by the competitors throwing the full sized axe. Those of us who never experienced a tie got to try throwing it at the very end. I managed to get it into the target even though it was dangling slightly. I would definitely do axe-throwing again! It’s a much more fun (though more expensive) party activity than bowling! That about sums up my two crazy Toronto transition weekends.

throwing axes

retrieving axesroar!

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