The One with the Plinth

Lately, I’ve been revisiting (ok, binge watching) all the “Friends” episodes and realized none of the episodes had titles. On Netflix however, they’ve title them. For example: “The one Where Phoebe Runs”, or “The one with Ross’s Leather Pants”. So this blog is lovingly titled, “The One With the Plinth”.

The story of how I got the plinth is this… Where I work on Carlaw Ave in Toronto, is a plethora of interesting businesses. One little boutique shop was moving from one hallway to another, selling some of their merchandise and displays. To my joy, there was a waist high, black, plaster column, for $20.00. How could I say, “no” to that? It was weeks later after having it in front of my desk, beside my desk, in the board room, etc., that I finally Ubered it and myself to the studio in Liberty Village.

The photo shoot happened some weeks past now, but for some reason I’m still going over the photos. Oh believe me, I’ve started to edited them. Even printed and framed 2 portraits. I have many successful images from this shoot that mesmerize me. I  going to let modestly hit the fan here and say, I feel this shoot is the best one yet.

Designing this set in particular, was quite fun, especially the task of affixing the ivy and berries to the plinth. In the end I’ve managed to have things look natural. I have to admit buying and collecting these items aren’t remorse purchases as one would think when you make up the excuse, “Yeah, I can use this for my sets!”. They have been used again and again, becoming interracial supplies that make up a repertoire of props and designs. When Nadia exclaimed, “It looks like a painting!” after taking one shot of the background, I knew this shoot would turn out well.

My hairstylist, Kai came to the studio with a more Gibson Girl look in mind. It completely blew me away. She is an amazing person. Having spent the morning with me, she had another job in Mississauga doing make up for a group of acrobats. When I hire her now, there’s no discussion. It’s not necessary. She knows what I want and what will look good. And I know she enjoys the fruits of her labours when I send her photos of the finished product.

For one hopeful reason, I won’t mention because I might jinx it, I’ve started hunting for antique frames. For those who follow me on Instagram, you would have seen them already. The feeling I got when the image was in the frame sent shivers through my whole being. It sounds silly, but there was a visual connection, a remembrance of seeing myself thus. This feeling was completely different from looking at an original photograph of a stranger from that time. I don’t quite understand it myself.

Be sure to check out my third Instagram account, The Anachronist Project. If you’re not already, please follow.

Stay tuned for my next blog, “The one with the Chair”.

 

 

Home Sweet Home – July 14

The Magic Wine Wine Bus Tour

*my apologies for this and subsequent blogs being over due. It’s been a busy trip so far.*

“What are we going to do before the wine tour?” We asked each other in the morning.

The wine bus would pick us up at the Wolfville Visitor’s Center so it made sense to park the car there and shop along the main drag. At one consignment shop, I bought a new purse large enough to organize my wallet, camera, lens, and laptop, yet another perfect Mary Poppins’s bottomless pit. I found it at an opportune time. My small day bag was a stretch to fit all of the above and with so much weight, the strap dug into my shoulder. I transferred everything on the counter right before the sale clerks eyes. She watched to the end, exclaiming when I neatly slid my phone neatly into a side pocket, “You even found a place for your phone!”

At the same store I bought a fantastic autumn duo flannel plaid shirt and wool knit vest. It was displayed together and I didn’t want to part with either of them. The lady (who I think was also the owner) was good enough to give me a bit of a discount on both. It will look very nice with warm black tights and high rubber boots for an outdoors, Kate Middleton look.

Shopping and lunch wasn’t enough to kill time so we found a bench in Wolfville park reading until it was time to go. Before I left Toronto I started, “The Life of Pi” I don’t know why I resisted it so long, maybe because it was all the rage. The writing is witty and humorous for such a serious situation you can’t help but laugh. I lounged on the grass atop my grandfathers CN red wool blanket under the trees and thought I have to discover a small park like this when I get back to TO. Greenwood for swimming, somewhere else for reading.

The wine bus is an antique double decker bus brought over from England. I don’t have to tell you, we sat at the top level. Robert, the driver, drove it from Halifax each morning, a two-hour drive, if that. It was very daunting being at the front. You’re in the overhang above the driver so it looks as though there isn’t enough room to clear the ditch on a sharp turn and it looks as though you will hit that tree sapling when the bus is parking even though you’re 3 feet away from it. But the low branches of trees whipped into the top window when the bus surged forth on its way from winery to winery. Because it was so hot this day, there was no thought of closing said window.

Domaine de Grand Pre was the first on the list. I had been here twice before. The last time with a group of photographers I took around the mainland. You know who you are. In my early days of tour guiding, I missed out on the opportunity of getting a tour and tasting from the lovely folks who work there, so we paid full price for tasters then. The tours of the vineyards and wineries are always interesting and indeed it was lack of research on my part. This time, though there were some differences of opinions, I found the Magic Wine Bus tour online and will recommend it to anyone.

Pete Luckett is a famous local fellow, at least we claim him as such because he was almost the first on the map for redefining grocery stores. When we first started Pete’s Frutique, the only other company he was in competition with at the time was Sobey’s. He originally came from England, originally setting up a fruit stand outside at a Nova Scotia Farmers market in the winter. He sold his stores, to concentrate on his vineyard. I’ve been to Luckett’s Vinyard twice before, last time with the same group of photographers who kicked up a big fuss about going just before I was to get on the highway heading back to Halifax. Each year I go, Luckett’s keeps getting better. The most predominant image of Luckett’s Vinyards is the old phone booth brought especially from Pete’s hometown that was literally around the corner from where he lived. He places it in the middle of the vineyard opening it up for the public, allowing them to make one long distance phone call to anywhere in North America. Forget the rose! One of the exciting developments this time around, was a Buried White and Buried Red. Buried, you say? According to our guide, the only other country who does this is Switzerland. Pete had built a vault 8 feet underground up the road to house oak casks of white and red that sit untouched for 3 to 4 years. I forget which. The resulting flavor is smooth, subtle, smoky and earthy resting on the tongue like a note of pleasant music. It was $38 a bottle and I bought the Buried White.

Sharing the Gaspereau Valley with Luckett’s Vinyards is L’Acadie. It’s all organic with an almost always cool breeze that comes down the slope. Because of this there are no insects. Sheep are allowed to graze in the early spring months before much of the vine is grown from the parent plant and eat the leaves, thus naturally fertilizing the soil. Admittedly, L’Acadie is not my favorite of wines, though I did have a nice red that was heavy and black in colour. This too had a nice earthy tone (you may be getting to know my tastes in wine by now.) when swirled around it clung to the edges and slowly slid down the glass. I didn’t buy anything here.

At each of the afore said wineries, we spent an hour. I thought to myself, great, what are we going to do for an hour? Time few buy however, and before we knew it, we were heading to the Gaspereau Winery to pick up the last of our group. At this last stop, the three of us didn’t have time for a last tasting, but only a quick run-in to get my Good Cheer Passport stamped and a taste of Baco Noir. Jeremy, our Magic Wine Bus tour guide, kindly cajoled the girl behind the tastings table. I admitted to him that I don’t like reds, but all the reds on this tour I’ve tasted thus far this year in Nova Scotia are far better than any of the Ontario red wines I’ve had in my 13 years of living there. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Wineries and Vinyards in Nova Scotia are still relatively young compared to some in Ontario, though Pelee remains my favorite from that province. Oh, and the Patio 9 Pink in Rockway. If they have it anymore.

Home Sweet Home – July 13th

Wolfville, Canning, Blomiden, Repeat

First the Rose´. Ever since I’ve had Patio 9 Pink and learned the LCBO doesn’t carry it anymore, I’ve been trying to find its equal. I’ve tried several Ontario wines; Lady Bug, Rose, and some bubbly sweet stuff. None of these I’ve been paying attention to what winery they’re from, though they are stacked in a holder in my kitchen in Toronto. Not like that’s going to help me now. The last rose´ wine I tried, however was from Muskoka Lakes Winery. I had one sip and declared that it was awful! I had another sip to make sure and after pulling face, I sipped once more for good measure. I have never tasted a wine so vinegary, tart and to put it mildly only good for cooking. But whoever heard of using a rose´ for cooking? Unless you were to make a salad dressing. I sincerely hope that the batch was bad and somehow it turned while enrute in the store or something. But I will not be recommending it to anyone, I’m sorry to say. What about Blomidon Rose´? Well, it was mildly floral in the beginning, but ended on a tart note, with the slightest hint of a vinegar. Keep in mind I’m comparing this with the Rockway Winery’s Patio Pink which was floral, very smooth with a mild, yet refreshing, taste of an English Blend tea. What can I say? Everything I’ve fallen in love with has been discontinued in stores. But I can always rent a car for the day and drive to Rockway. Hike some of the Bruce Trail and hit the winery.

There are two large dining room tables in the main house where Joan and her husband live. This is always set with antique cups and saucers. Breakfast is two slices of toast a poached egg in the middle, back bacon, coffee or tea, and juice. All for $3.50. You sit at one of the said tables with other guests who are willing to divulge who they are, what they do, why are the visiting, who their children are and ask the same questions in return which are always readily answered. This morning, I made some Muskoka coffee brought as a treat, thinking that Nova Scotia was not yet one with the Jones’s in this department. I was pleasantly surprised when Joan brought out a local blend that was pretty amazing. There is a Coffee Museum somewhere around here. If I remember, I’d like to visit it tomorrow, before or after out Magic Wine Bus tour. Then again we only have one more full day.

After breakfast we walked on an trail that ran atop one of the many dykes in Wolfville that were made centuries ago. They date back the the early 1700’s when a group of French Neutralist ,aka Acadians, came to Nova Scotia to settle. They made dykes to recede the ocean to create the fertile land we know today. There are many sections of the Annapolis valley you travel along where you technically are on the the ocean floor. We drove along one of these causeways on our way to Canning and eventually to Mount Blomidon. My main goal for traveling this way was to find boats docked at a warf at low tide. We passed one beyond Kingsport. I was blessed to be in the drivers seat today. I can tell you, I took full advantage of it. I stopped where I pleased though not so much as to piss my Mother or my Aunt off. Thankfully both understood and somewhat enjoyed the view or otherwise kept themselves preoccupied.

On the way back we stopped at Foxhill Cheese House, just outside of Port William’s. Their main line in the store at this time was about 8 different types of gouda, two types of cheddar and one feta. They had some of the cheeses cut for samples in dishes, when I came to the cheddar I was confused about which one was really the aged and which not. Perhaps the labels were mixed up. The 4 year old cheddar was so very creamy while the mild was dry and less moist. You’d think it would be the other way around. At least to us amateur cheese lovers. The girl at the counter was willing enough to give Mom and I a little tour. It was actually a talk. She brought us to a large window that looked into one of the processing rooms where another woman was cleaning up. When I asked our guide about the two cheddar cheeses, she said it was all a matter of how they processed it, though she wasn’t able to go into much detail and sadly, I forget most of what she said. It was another hot day. But what I do remember her saying about the milk is that they pasteurize it at a lower temperature so it doesn’t kill off all the bacteria, some of which, actually healthy to you. I use a similar example of hand sanitizer. If used excessively, it kills the good germs. She said that their milk is popular to those who may get ill from milk provided by larger corporations. An industry standard set long ago by the money grubbing bastards which diminished the sales of independent farms. Now they are making a come-back. One thing I’d like to point out and you can laugh at me for this, it won’t be the first time, is that there is a difference of taste between milk from Nova Scotia and milk from Ontario. Whatevs. Take it how you will.

At the begging of the trip, we all decided that we wanted to go to the Wolfville Farmers Market. There were’t many vendors. Most of them were food participating in the $10 meals. I can’t say for sure if this was for this particular Wednesday or every Wednesday. There was Pad Thai, Greek, Schnitzel, Moroccan, Pizza, and others. You pay your $10 and get something akin to Monopoly money in $2 increments. Salad and bread are free and after collecting this, you choose a vender for a main meal (we all chose to Moroccan) and another or the same for dessert. I had saffron chicken with rice that had cabbage, onion and chickpeas as a garnish. MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm. When the owners asked how it was, I wasn’t kidding or exaggerating when I told them it was AMMMMMMMMMMAAAAAAAZING!!!!!!!!! Even Auntie Rie liked it and she it not the adventurous international foody type. Sorry Auntie Rie. I love you! We bought nothing more at the market, simply took our leftovers and left for Allen’s Motel where we ended the night with drinking, playing Phase 10 and golf.

At the end of the day we all agreed, that were we to live here, we would hover go to a grocery store, but travel from farm or farmers markets to buy our food. IN comparing them with Ontario prices, the cost to do this would’t be that bad at all!!