Friday, December 22, 2006

Kensington Market Festival of Lights

Photo by sjgardiner
Photo by Cornelius Crab
To the 20th annual celebration in Kensington Market to mark the Winter Solstice. "The Festival of Lights was created by Ida Carnevali in 1987 when a handful of costumed troubadours with trumpets and tambourines defied the mid-winter blues; this now legendary multi-cultural celebration welcomes thousands of participants annually. "
We were amazed by the fabulous stilted dancers, massive puppets, street performances and sheer number of revellers. Marchers carrying hand made tissuepaper lanterns inspired us to pledge to participate next year. See Red Pepper Spectacle Arts for more.
We duck into the King's Cafe to warm-up, talk business and have a vegan Chinese dinner.
The "Fried Bean-Curd and Veggies" was not what we expected when it arrived - this tasty dish was comprised of strips of crisp tofu layered on seaweed and garnished with steamed bok choy. The curried vermicelli noodles were a big hit. "Lightly fried rice noodles done Singapore style with bell peppers and an assortment of vegetables in a spicy curry sauce."
192 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2L6416 591-1340

City View Alternative School's Winter Feast

Carrying a vegan pasta dish, still warm from the oven, we arrive at City View Alternative School to find a team of parent volunteers busily organizing the annual Winter Feast. Every detail is well thought out and things run very smoothly. Some 280 people were expected to attend and it was "standing room only" near to showtime. A full program of entertainment from choirs singing in French and English to Break Dancing impressed the diners. Music choices ranged from Mary Poppins to Neil Young to Bach.

City View Alternative Senior School is located on the third floor of Shirley Street Public School near Dundas Street and Brock Avenue. The school has been operating for eleven years.
- The school serves over 60 grade 7 and 8 students drawn from across the city. The
majority are of English speaking backgrounds. Outreach is being done to increase the
number of students with different ethnic backgrounds.
- The school has three classrooms (one with computer lab and library), a
lunch/multipurpose room, an office/kitchen and a computer room - all on the third floor.
- The school shares the gymnasium and school yard with Shirley Street Public School
and has access to the pool, gym and ice rinks of the McCormack Centre.
- Open House for prospective Grade 7's for September 2007 is Tuesday, January 23rd,
at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Evangeline Residence Christmas Party

Kudos to Beth, Bev and others at Keele Street Christian Church for organizing the annual Christmas Party for the women of Evangeline Residence, many of whom attend services at our church. On Sunday we helped gift wrap the boxes of corporate and private donations of gloves, scarves, socks, shampoo, toothpaste and other items for each of the 72 residents. One church member kindly crocheted 72 pairs of slippers as she has done for several years.
We sang Christmas carols, chatted, gave out the gift bags and shared some goodies.
Looking around the room it struck me that many of the women fall into one of two categories; those new to this change in lifestyle who seemed bewildered and a little embarrassed; and those who have come to rely on the shelter system to keep them safe and off of the streets. It's difficult to imagine a sadder plight in either case.
I can't help thinking that although the Christmas gifts and socialization were warmly and gratefully received, there is more support that we can offer year round.

"The Evangeline Residence has served the women of Toronto for more than 100 years, in various locations. It can shelter as many as 77 women who are homeless for a variety of reasons. Abused women, refugees, post psychiatric patients, and mothers who need help reuniting and providing for their children come to the Evangeline Residence for help.
The Evangeline Residence ministers to the whole person – mind, body and soul in a way that affirms the value of each of the 1100 women who pass through its doors each year. They work to follow the example of Jesus who, “felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help.” Matthew 9:36, NLT" From the official website.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fran's Famous Rice Pudding

After the concert we opt for dinner at Fran's Diner - grilled veggie wrap for me. I order the world famous (to die for) rice pudding for desert and convert two friends to the cause.
"The Fran’s tradition started over 60 years ago with Fran Deck and his wife Ellen Jane. Starting with a modest ten-stool diner at St.Clair and Younge St in 1840, the couple’s vision was one of serving unique high quality food throughout the whole day to their customers.
Over the years Fran’s became a Toronto institution known across the city and surrounding areas for its unrivalled home style cooking and warm welcoming atmosphere. Offering fresh food 24 hours a day it quickly became a gathering place for people from all walks of life. "
"The most recent addition to the Fran’s family is located right in the heart of the downtown core at the corner of Shuter and Victoria St’s. This location was designed to mingle the old with the new and it is clearly apparent in the d├ęcor. We are walking distance from the Eaton Centre, Queen St shopping, steps from Massey Hall, and the Canon and Elgin Theatres. Able to accommodate parties from 1-40 people, open 24 hours a day every day of the year.
200 Victoria St. (Victoria & Shuter. At the Pantages Hotel)"

Sing-Along Messiah

To Massey Hall for Tafelmusik's 20th annual Sing-Along Messiah:
"Tafelmusik is delighted once again to welcome George Frideric Handel[played by Tafelmusik Choir director Ivars Taurins] as guest director of its annual Sing-Along Messiah. Tafelmusik first asked Mr. Handel to take on this role 20 years ago, undaunted by the fact that he'd been dead some 227 years...Unlike the many crates of fine vintage claret that are a significant bargaining point in his contract, Mr. Handel has not mellowed with age, and his legendary rapier wit and fiery Saxon temper are as sharp as they were over 250 years ago. "
"The sheer joy you will feel as your voice joins a mass choir of 2,500 to sing the Hallelujah chorus may be the best Christmas gift you receive. Bring your own score, or purchase one at Massey Hall. Seating is by voice part, and non-singers[That's me!] are always welcome."
Mr. Taurins and the Tafelmusik Orchestra, Choir and soloists did not disappoint. The experience was in a word - heavenly.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Nativity Story

There were 25 of us from Keele Street Christian Church and 9 other people in the audience for a showing of The Nativity Story on Wednesday evening. Pastor Grant had posed the question, "Why would I see it?", in his sermon titled Strong & Silent:Joseph last Sunday. His answer was that because we are so familiar with the story we sometimes forget the drama of the story. He encouraged us to view the film in order to reconnect with the drama of it.
Through this film, one gets a feel for what life in Nazareth and Jerusalem would have been like at that time - the constant work needed to keep life and limb together overshadowed by fear of the Roman soldiers and King Herod's oppressive regime. I found the scenes with Mary and her Cousin Elizabeth particularly moving.
I realize it is difficult to collapse the timeline of the four gospels into a two and a half hour film, however I found the Magi storyline diverged too far from the scriptures for my taste.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


To the Bluma Appel Theatre to see CanStage's production Glorious! starring Nicola Cavendish as Florence Foster Jenkins. Cavendish wowed the audience with her portrayal of the wealthy socialite who has been characterized as the, "world's worst singer".
"From her recordings, it is apparent that Jenkins had little sense of pitch and rhythm and was barely capable of sustaining a note. Her accompanist can be heard making adjustments to compensate for her tempo variations and rhythmic mistakes. Nonetheless, she became tremendously popular in her unconventional way. Her audiences apparently loved her for the amusement she provided rather than her musical ability. Critics often described her work in a backhanded way that may have served to pique public curiosity." Source:
Strong performances were also given by Jonathan Monro as pianist Cosme McMoon and Dixie Seatle as faithful friend Dorothy and the comedic performance of Maria Varatisis as Maria the Mexican maid had the audience roaring with laughter.

The game's afoot Watson!

My husband requested some micro-film from an Alberta library for his book research so we went to the Toronto Reference Library. While there I checked out this interesting exhibit:

A Case of Considerable Interest - An exhibition celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection of the Toronto Public Library

October 18, 2006 - January 7, 2007
TD Gallery - Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street (1 block north of Bloor)
TD Gallery Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10-8; Fri.-Sat. 10-5; Sun. 1:30-5
For further information, call 416-393-7158
Check out the fun,interactive web page which will help you learn more about the collection and this exhibit.