Sunday, September 29, 2013

hooks - ganxos

Went away with the man and some friends for an excursion this weekend.....and it was marvelous.

It's going to take two posts to cover this, because first I want to talk about a town in Catalunya.  The town, Horta de Sant Joan is small, and fairly remote but had a couple of interesting things about it.

Now, I have to say, I was there for very little time.  Very little, so these observations are based on very little information.  Though, still interesting to me.

First thing that struck me as unusual was the number of dogs off-leash, even in the quite busy main plaça.  Most of them smaller and all of them calm and pretty friendly.  

Then we went for a walk, and I noticed these:  

 Weird, no?  And they slope upwards, like maybe, just maybe they were supporting some sort of curved beams, but there isn't really anywhere for them to land.  So I have NO idea what those are all about.  

Then I noticed that every house has one of these, or a version thereof:

See? Lots and lots of hooks on all the buildings.  Look below, see what they then do with them?

Guess why.....

All those dogs off leash?  Seems they like garbage, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever had ANYTHING at all to do with a dog.  So, in this town, which seems to have agreed to leave the dogs off leash, everyone has a hook on the outside of their house, on which they hang a bucket with their garbage in it at the appropriate time of day....

I would like to add that in this town of loose dogs, we saw a grand total of 0 dog poops on the street.  That's right.  None.

Wish I could say the same about where I live, and where almost every single dog is on-leash.

Oh, and there was this really nifty mailbox too:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Street art

Walking back from the Born market I started taking photos of street art, an entirely random sample of stuff I saw as I walked along.....

going to have to do more of this.

Olive oil in Japan...

Modern version of an Egyptian temple...

This guy seems to cover a fair amount of turf

Look closely....

There's that boy again....

and again

Kinda cliched this one, nearly didn't take the picture

This was actually a sticker, which I wasn't doing, my own internal rules, but I liked this one so much I had to.

Two from this one....

To be added to!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

BCN, lord I love this city.

Went into BCN today with a friend to check out the newly opened Born market.

Gonna get two posts out of it too, for my trouble!

So here's the Born market.  I actually learned a ton of Catalan/Barcelona history today.  For instance this is one of many markets in BCN, but they discovered after they finished it that it is was much bigger than it needed to be so they ended up making it a wholesale market, it is near two separate train stations and all the the north of the city making it easy for farmers to bring their produce in.

It was built on the remnants of a large part of the city that was razed by the Spanish military when Catalonia lost it's independence 300 years ago next year.  What is now the parc de la ciutadel was a giant fort built to subdue and control the local population and they razed something like 17% of the city to create a defense zone.  This was part of it.

In fact as an excellent finishing touch, home owners were forced to tear down their own houses.  Nice that, eh?

Here's some photos:

It was strange and touching and weird.  There are construction elements that are still in use today, that we have in our house now, virtually unchanged.  It brings it home.

It is weird how low the streets are, they just piled it all up and kept building, though much of the building material must have gone into the fort.

It is deeply deeply nationalistic and any Madrid politician will have kittens.  Really deeply political.

This leaves me on two levels.  One is that it is important to remember and know our history, I do not doubt that for a moment, and visiting it with a Catalan was also illuminating.  Felt very personal I would say.

At the same time, there is a very North American part of me that thinks sometimes history has to be let go, or we end up like parts of the Middle East or Ireland with long running hatreds that date back and back and back.

I know that each of these places has a distinct story and history, but I came away from the very political nature of many of the information boards with a sense of it not necessarily being a good idea to fan the flames.

The Catalans continue to impress me with their calm, with their determination for peace and democracy.  This felt hotter.

There are also quite a lot of angry Catalan old women.  If Madrid thinks this is independence thing is all from young people, or hot heads, they should be aware.  The grandmas are pissed.  This seems powerful to me.

Still trying to tease apart how I felt about all of this.

Personally I continue to be shocked by Madrid's brazen unwillingness to allow a democratic referendum. Honestly, it is shameful.

Independence itself, I can't vote.

I would like to see it happen, I would.

The Born exhibit.

left me:



slightly alarmed


impressed with their guts

totally worth going.  A new must see in the city.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The joys of bicycling

Nothing like a ride on public transit in the morning rush hour to make me love my bike all over again.

First of all, I've got to leave before I normally get up, then there is the far to liberally applied scents on al the women, morning breath, left over smoker's stink, leaking headphone music, shouted cell phone conversations, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, sweating and then there are the pick-pockets, the strange leering men, plus the crowds and the hot airless cars.

Give me my bike any day of the week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

and then the mountains

Got up this morning pretty early to go walking with the local mountain group....met at 7:30 and headed off to the starting point.  By far the most dangerous part of the day happened during the drive to the start...when we nearly got hit by a guy running a stop sign while looking at we know not what, but not the road.  Very near thing.

I was under the impression that everyone was going to walk as a group, and then we weren't, so I decided to see what I could do after a really pretty blobby summer.  Also probably to somewhat weary, as I have gone on long walks on Mon, Wed and Fri and rode the bike on Tue and Thur....that said, I didn't push very hard on any of those walks.

I did push pretty hard today, never went right into the red zone or anything, but pretty red in the face and puffy in places....

I felt fantastic.  Walked and walked and walked...pushed hard enough that there were moments when it felt long-ish, and then the descent into town - which was long - felt so good that I ran it all.

Felt fantastic.

Carried the darned camera the whole way and didn't take a single photo.......ah well.

Great walk.

Turns out that another walk we had planned I can go on which I thought I wouldn't be able to as we don't leave town till AFTER I finish work!  (I couldn't find a substitute so thought that was that)  BONUS!!!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mar, check, Muntanya....tomorrow

Spent a good part of the day on and around tall ships.

How good is that!


Masts, and lines and blocks....

There was a beautiful Portuguese boat there, built in '37 that used to go over to NFLD to go cod fishing, she even had some of the traditional gear on her, stored in a dory like they would have used....

The Kruzenshtern, the largest sailing vessel in the world, I think, German built, the Russians got it as booty after WWII, amazingly huge, rather frighteningly so, all too easy to get hurt working that boat.  And looking into the galleys?  Go with the Portuguese ship for eats I'd say....though there was a smaller Turkish boat that won the food category hands down by the look of the galley.

Kruzenshtern's masts, riveted plate!  The crew are aboard for 3 months, then a new crew arrives.  We think they are trainees for the merchant marine.

Kruzenshtern again, note the cameras...mother Russia, with love.

This crazy band was playing all over the place.  The Brazilian boat had music playing, then closed up the ship and sat on the stern quarter with a drum set, guitars and beer.  Ahhh Brazil!

Tomorrow, a walk in the mountains.

Life is very good indeed.

Now I just need to make friends with a kind hearted sailor who owns an underutilized Laser.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Second day back on the bike....rode it to work and back on Tuesday, and then again today.

Have to say, after three months back,


Not to much the muscles.

Really it's all in the tush.

Monday, September 16, 2013


The emu nearly got us!

No seriously.  Chuck and I headed out this morning for a two hour walk (turned into three)....sort of exploratory as I was looking at different ways of getting to the same place.  

Anyway, I went tripping down this one trail, Chuck took off ahead of me, barking.  I figured there was a rabbit up there, and he disappeared around a corner.  

A few seconds later he reappeared around the corner, running, followed closely by a very large emu (are there small ones?) Seeing. Him. Off.

It wasn't going any faster than he was, but it wasn't slowing down either, and they were both headed straight for me on this narrow trail.

Now, one might as oneself exactly how one behaves when approached by a fast moving and annoyed emu.  I did. 

I figured it was less dangerous than a bear, not being an omnivore, and not as pointy as a horned cow or bull, but they can kick I hear.  SO....

Turned around and walked away.

Fortunately for both of us, probably all three of us, it stopped chasing us after a few more paces.

Why, I ask myself, why didn't I bring the camera?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Look what I found!

Can you see what those are?

What about now???

Cool, no?


Friday, September 13, 2013

Ai Wei Wei in TO

Just before leaving TO I went to the show at the AGO of Ai Wei Wei's work.

As you would expect, it was political, very.

It was also and a very, no massively wide range of mixed media.

It was a good show, though the AGO annoyed me in two ways.  First, they kept saying that Ai Wei Wei constructed the pieces, that he did the joinery work, that he put the bicycles together.  Ai Wei Wei is many things, but he does not, can not and does not have to to do all of the detailed work on all of the pieces he produces.  The sunflower seeds for example were made by a huge number of people.

His stools:

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries. Every family had at least one stool, which served all sorts of domestic purposes and was passed on from generation to generation. After the Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966, and the subsequent modernization of the country, however, production of these stools plummeted. Aluminum and plastic have superseded wood as the standard material for furniture. Out of 886 of these stereotyped and yet highly individual objects, Ai Weiwei, recruiting traditional craftsmen who possess the necessary and now rare expertise, has created an expansive rhizomatic structure whose sprawling growth recalls the rampantly proliferating organisms of this world’s megacities. The single stool as part of an encompassing sculptural structure may be read as a metaphor for the individual and its relation to an overarching and excessive system in a postmodern world developing at lightning speed.”— Curator Susanne Gaensheime

This doesn't detract from his work, but the way it was written up not only gives a false impression but fails to describe his process, which often involves hiring many people to engage in disappearing traditional art forms.


The thing about his work is that much of it references Chinese culture, or language or plays on words, which many/most viewers are not going to be able to understand, so providing some background information is useful.  Telling me what to think is, however, deeply obnoxious.  Who WROTE those things????

I stopped reading the second half of all the notes.  Should have taken a picture to give you an example. Dreadful.

and infuriating.

OK, on to my day....

Walking up the AGO, I looked down at the new building for the College of Art with the CN tower in the background.....

The facade of the AGO itself......

Inside the AGO....

And the first piece of his work....this snake made of knapsacks.  He has many many pieces of work about an earthquake that happened in China in which all (?) the schools in a town collapsed and thousands of children died.  The buildings collapsed because they were incredibly badly built, largely as a result of corruption.  Also the gov't was unwilling to say who died nor how many died.  Ai Wei Wei has also worked hard to find out the names of all who have died and one of the pieces in the show was a voice intoning the names of the dead children, that they could find out about.  There was a gigantic list that covered an entire wall.

Houses made of compressed tea.  Smelled amazing, and I am sure the multiple meanings of this are extensive.  Smelled amazing.  Did I already say that?

Stools as mentioned above.

This is made from wood rescued fro Qin dynesty temples, a lot of the work here was from this wood.

This also

This was made from gigantic cabinets and is the phases of the moon.  Very cool.

Made from rebar taken from the area of the quake, manually straightened and made into an installation

On the walk home I got thirsty and stepped into a Korean place where I had a carbonated milk and yogurt drink.  Much better than it sounds, it was mostly carbonated water, sugar, a bit of milk and 'yogurt flavour'.  Hmmmmm.

Walking home I passed through the University, frosh week was in full swing

Saw this guy doing graffiti

Cool day.