From the monthly archives:

May 2009

There’s no denying it

by lulujane on May 29, 2009

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There is no denying it.  Essex County – the banana belt of Canada affords us the best of a climate that allows, encourages, inspires the growth, blooming of wonderful spring blossoming, flowering things. Tree peonies are my favourite.  They are luscious, ruffled, sensuous.  They are so beautiful that I swear I can  taste the deliciousness of them.  And this is just one of the spring bounty of flowers, blossoms and plants that tell me it’s SHOWTIME.

It is unfortunate that our Windsor city park workers are on strike right now as the gardens are in severe neglect.  My friend Bonnie has explained to me how sad she feels when she sees a neglected plant in a nursery.  While I don’t believe that everyone who tends the city park gardens would feel this way, my belief is that many of these gardeners are grieving the plight of these growing things that are normally nurtured and well tended.  I sure hope things work out so they are soon back to work, enjoying their day in the sun, taking good care of things that are waiting for their TLC.

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Two down – one to go

by lulujane on May 22, 2009

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The latest  mural installed on the east side of Mr. C’s Convenience Store building in the Pillette Village/Riverside (Olde Riverside Town) area of Windsor is entitled “Zephyrus”. The concept and design of this nautically themed artwork painted in Art Nouveau style was done by Jeff Hasulo. The artists are Vandary Chheng, Christine Dexter, Jeff Hasulo, Donna Mayne, Jo Anne Plante and JoAnne Weston.  This Employment Ontario project was sponsored by:  The Ontario Government, the City of Windsor and the Olde Riverside Business Association.

The artists are are now preparing the westerly wall of Riviera Pizza, next to Tim Hortons at Wyandotte and St. Louis for the final mural of the series.

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The subject of grocery carts removed from retailers’  lots has irked me for a very long time.  Now I have a chance to vent.

When an object is removed from an owner’s premises without their consent, with no intention to return it, this is theft.  Now think of a child bringing a bicycle home that doesn’t belong to him/her.  In most cases a parent would be angry and make them return it.  At least I’m hoping that’s what a normal parent would do. If the bicycle is taken without the owner’s consent, with no intention to return it, it is theft.  Call it what it is. Grocery carts are the same. On the flip side, I wonder how they would feel if someone took their bicycle or patio set as an example.  Do you think they would yell, scream and stamp their feet.  Call in the police perhaps? Without question.

The photograph shown here was taken at Village Court rentals on Tranby Street in Windsor.  Either a lot of thieves live there, or a small number of really busy thieves.  I live in a condo corp. and although grocery carts accumulate here, I have never seen such a large number of them grouped together off the site of the business who actually owns them.  The users at this Village Court location stole these carts in a non-discriminatory fashion – they weren’t just from one retailer. A quick glance revealed they were from at least different stores – Sobeys, Food Basics and Walmart. AND THIS IS JUST ONE COMPLEX.  I am wondering how many carts a store has to keep in stock, well beyond the needs of their customer shopping.

A recent newsletter from my condo association reported “when people bring shopping carts on our property, we have to pay to have them removed.  If this continues, this expense will add on to other expenses and make the condo fees higher.”

If the police stop cyclists for something as minuscule as riding on the sidewalk, I am surprised they wouldn’t stop obvious thieves who move grocery carts along the streets and roads as if they are their personal property.

Zehrs at Lauzon Parkway has recenty installed a system that locks wheels on carts when they are moved across an invisible line.  I have no doubt that serious cart thieves will find a way.  They are a determined bunch. I guess I will just have to check my condo corp corral for a headcount on Zehr’s carts to see if this has made any difference.

Does anyone know how much these things cost?

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dsc_0816smUrged to keep up with what is going on in our fair city, I showed up with many members of my family for the Walk for a Creative City, joining the Mayor’s Walk  for a stroll to the Riverfront Pavillion.

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This went off as scheduled, if  bit late starting, despite striking CUPE city workers who have already been out for a few weeks, and unfortunately, with no immediate end in sight.

To carry a sign or not?

To carry a sign or not?

Creative arts supporters showed their solidarity, with most people choosing not to carry a sign.

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Some people, just by their hand gestures, seem to be making a statement.

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From the beginning stages of the walk CUPE’s flag was close at hand.

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Lots of walkers shared the idea of a creative city.

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Mayor Francis making a statement at the height of the temporary CUPE blockade. After showing the strength of their numbers by blocking the walkway and shouting their frustration, the walk was allowed to continue without further incident.

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What a great day to take someone by the hand a go for a walk along our riverfront.

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Although things were looking serious for a time, they were eventually resolved peacefully.

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Part of my excitement was watching  lots of photographers positioning themselves for the best shot.

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And the debate continues.

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My son Todd had business in Manitoulin last summer. He told me “You would love it here mother”, so when I was feeling bored a few weeks ago I asked if I could self-invite to travel with him on his next trip there. Surprisingly that was only about three weeks distant on Mother’s Day weekend.

After driving with him and his workshop co-presenter to the presentation site on Monday morning he tossed me the keys to his manual transmission, fuel efficient car and told me to have a good day, having taken time over breakfast to enthusiastically outline a travel route and sight seeing map for me. My existing vehicle, a Ford Escape has an automatic transmission but in the past I have owned and driven stick shift, but it has been a long time.

Jerking a bit, I left the parking lot and went onto the highway. My first obstacle was a red light. My travel was to take me downhill and then toward a sharp right turn. Not being accustomed to the light touch required on the brake so it wouldn’t stall – and dancing between clutch, brake, accelerator, I kept stalling out. I felt frantic and helpless – my heart racing, on the verge of tears, I felt stupid. I kept trying. I didn’t feel safe. I waved the truck behind me to pass. Then a bright red truck pulled behind me. I waved him along too, but he pulled up beside and asked if I needed help. I can’t believe I said “no”.

Realizing I didn’t feel safe, the only option appeared to be driving back to the B & B and parking the car for the day. Once through the light I cut up a sidestreet thinking it was the path of least resistance. Wrong! A stop sign rested at the top of a crest. Once stopping, my feet and my brain did another frantic dance as I crept slowly backward, braking suddenly, and stalling out a few times. I felt afraid as a gully was getting closer to the rear tires. I could see a small group of men standing behind a building, one man breaking away walked toward me to ask if I needed help. I didn’t say no this time. We were about a block from the B & B and I asked if he could drive me there. Robert graciously took over the wheel, drove to the Robinson Street address and parked the car. This ended up being my base for the day.

I am solution oriented by nature and my first thought was that this was no problem. I would still be able to enjoy the day. I would rent a car. However, after making a few inquiries of local merchants I realized that the closest car rental was in Sudbury, about an hour’s drive away.

I worked hard not to be discouraged by this turn of events. My son was eager for me to enjoy my day. He was happy that he provided the opportunity for me to see this beautiful island where he imaged me lunching at a place he wanted me to experience. I was feeling bad that this would disappoint him too. For over an hour I was fighting back tears feeling that I was landlocked in a small area of Little Current when there were so many other things to see.

I am normally in good control of my life experiences and when things are out of my control, have learned to go with the flow as I anticipate new adventures that present themselves. I watch for surprises. This day was about letting go of the need to be in control, finding a way to enjoy the day with grace, and as it turned out, to benefit from many blessings through the kindness of strangers.

dsc_0149-2xThis started with the man in the red truck (who I think drove into the OPP parking lot) and Robert from Acme Motors http://www.hotfrog.ca/Companies/Acme-Motors-Manitoulin. Mother’s Day dinner with Todd and Celese (name of program) was at the Anchor Inn Restaurant http://www.anchorgrill.com where I was introduced to Kelly who would be catering their lunch at the workshop. This restaurant was the first place I thought of to ask about a car rental. While talking with Kelly I was fighting back tears. No car rental. No island tour. By myself. Nothing to do. Where do I go? What do I do? This kind, clear eyed lady, a stranger to me, offered her car for part of the day after her catering deliveries were done. In the meantime, she took me to the bar side of their establishment which also houses hotel rooms. We interrupted a young woman who was cleaning the floor in the semi-darkness as Kelly offered this space to me as a home base if I wished to use it. She pointed to a computer at the end of the bar and offered its use if I wished to do email. We arranged to connect later in the day to transfer the vehicle to me.

After checking and responding to a few emails I emerged into the day, breathing in the blue of the bay, bluer sky and bright sun. Kelly had suggested with her pointed hand the direction I might walk to see a bit of waterfront scenery. Once I started walking I felt much better. I felt on task. I was doing something. I was moving. I didn’t feel stuck any more. And when I have my camera with me I am never lonely and always find jewels that capture my attention.

dsc_0147xWater, boats, docks, boardwalks are my thing. Returning to town centre I continued writing my story of the day. I chose a bench where I sat taking in the gentle breeze, conscious of the sun that warmed my hair. With my book in hand I happily followed the writer’s words into the world of her story and at lunchtime retraced my steps to the Anchor Inn Restaurant where I chose a menu offering from their sidewalk sandwich board.

dsc_0059-2xMy son is a strong advocate and educator relating to matters of climate change and environment, so when I went into the downstairs washroom I was conscious of, and impressed by the motion sensor light which illuminated when I opened the door, and extinguished when I left.

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I notice acts of kindness and generosity. Sitting at my dining room table I observed a man peeking in the corner doorway. He entered the dining room through another door and said something to the hostess about a wheelchair. There was no formal handicap access into the restaurant. Without question, the hostess walked to the kitchen and returned with two young men who opened the corner door, went outside, and carried the wheelchair with its passenger, into the restaurant.  I wouldn’t think this was a standard practice, but on this day it impressed the heck out of me.

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After lunch I went back to my boardwalk bench and by 1:30 in the afternoon I felt comfortable in my day, happy where I had been planted. I went back to the restaurant to see if Kelly had returned from delivering lunch. She wasn’t, but I left word with her staff to thank her for her kind offer, and let her know that I wouldn’t be needing the car. I was o.k. with where I was. When at dinner at the Anchor Inn Restaurant on Mother’s Day and on this day I found their staff not only friendly and helpful, but shining. Their smiles literally lit up the room each time I encountered them.

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Later in the day I returned to Todd’s car so I could sit comfortably and rest in the warmth of it. A short while later the owner of the B & B came out. She said she noticed me waiting and wondered if I would like to come in and have a coffee. I declined as I made a mental note of yet another kindness extended to me.

Near the conclusion time of the workshop I walked back to meet Todd and Celese. Todd caught a ride back to the B & B to get the car and we were shortly on our way. He was disappointed and I think he felt sad for me, knowing what I had missed.

I think my day was exactly as it was meant to be. I wasn’t meant to be running around.  I was supposed to be still, observing, taking in the natural wonders of the day, staying put, allowing myself to be vulnerable, teaching myself to ‘get over it’ and adjust my sails to the new course of the day. I was truly blessed and grateful that I was able to see and experience the kindness of strangers in Little Current, Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

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Art where everyone can see it

by lulujane on May 5, 2009

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A week or so ago I was walking east on Wyandotte Street East, coming up to the 5500 block near Prado.  I noticed that a fresh coat of paint was being applied to the west side of the Modrigal store building.  Silently I wished for a piece of art to be applied over this solid colour.

Today while walking in the same neighbourhood I felt excited as I observed a multi-coloured undulating wave along the wall.  A small group of people, some of them up on a scaffold were applying the finishing touches to the installation of pieces of a sailboat image over the wave.  I was grateful that I had my little point and shoot digital in my purse to record the moment.  In discussion with some of the artists I discovered that two additional murals are planned for this area of Riverside.

Bravo!

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Holy Rosary Convent Property

by lulujane on May 4, 2009

View from Riverside Drive

View from Riverside Drive

Before the recent purchase of the Holy Rosary Convent property at the corner of George Avenue and Riverside Drive in Windsor, by Academie Ste. Cecile from the Sisters of St. Joseph (London) I was fortunate to have been allowed to take some photos of interior spaces.

Inside front door

Inside front door

Front hall reception area

Front hall reception area

View from front hallway - upper door to chapel

View from front hallway - upper door to chapel

Entering the chapel

Entering the chapel

Closet space getaway

Closet space getaway

Guest room bathroom

Guest room bathroom

I walked the grounds and couldn’t believe how large this property is.  Even though the distance from the building to Riverside Drive is long, walking the property was the only way to appreciate the depth of this prime location real estate.

Facing Riverside Dr. from rear of lot

Facing Riverside Dr. from rear of lot

My in-house tour consisted of the main building areas, not entering the dormitory space at the back or the living accommodations of the small group of nuns still living there.

Particularly on the outside it was obvious there was a lot of upkeep and maintenance required to bring the property to an acceptable level of presentation.

Obvious area requiring upgrade

Obvious area requiring upgrade

I was worried when the heritage groups started kicking up dust and drawing lines in the sand.  If the pool of potential buyers was reduced by the restrictions placed by the heritage designation I was concerned that the nuns, not having a future use for the facility and being unable to afford necessary renovations, might not find a suitable buyer.

But they did, not only saving the building from potential demolition by new owners who might want to build a highrise, instead giving it new life as the Ste. Cecile Retreat House.  Hurray!

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I have been sitting on a huge pile of images that I shot inside the historic Walker Power Building in Walkerville, Ontario about one year ago.  I have been conflicted as I go through them.  I like things to be pretty, beautiful, strikingly significant and this is why I brought in Photoshop to help me work with them a bit.  I still haven’t gone through all of them, but it is my intention, over the next little while to post a few of them, a little bit at a time.

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Touring the interior of this building made me sad.  In my opinion the building is structurally sound.  My understanding is that tenants put up their own walls, creating their work spaces without regard for any codes that the building/fire department would require.  When the building was closed, many tenants left ugly remnants/broken furniture pieces, etc. behind them.  This feels disrespectful to the magnificence of this imposing structure.

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Motor on top floor formerly used to power the elevator

Motor on top floor formerly used to power the elevator

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I would like the building to stay, not be torn down.  The building is for sale, but so far, no takers.

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As I indicated earlier, more photos will come – this is my first offering.

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May 2, 2009 and Jane’s Walk

by lulujane on May 2, 2009

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Today was special for more reasons than one.  First of all, it is my eldest sister’s birthday.  And, I got to spend time with one of my younger sisters.  I picked her up at 7:45 a.m.  before we sped off to take in a couple of church yard sales.  We found some great deals before heading off to our 10 a.m. appointment to bottle some Cabernet Sauvignon.  After dropping her off, and fire brigade style moving her huge amount of ‘stuff’ into her basement, I headed to Taloolah’s Cafe on Devonshire Road to meet up with an enthusiastic group of people to do a walking tour of part of Olde Walkerville.  My son Tom and my daughter-in-law Jhoan were among the adventurers who showed up to explore this historic neighbourhood.

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The gathering came together to honour Jane’s Walk.  On the Scaledown website http://www.scaledown.ca/2009/05/01/windsors-janes-walk-tomorrow is a detailed explanation of the who and why of people showing up for Jane’s Walks to enjoy, appreciate and learn more about their local communities.

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For me, the walk was as much about the people as it was about the history.

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Many of us showed up with comfortably worn cameras, each of us interpreting the day in our own way.

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Following the walk, back at Taloolah I lunched with Tom and Jho where I found myself on a winding pathway of  lively, enthusiastic and sometimes serious communicating. I made a couple of new friends.

On the drive home, like it had a mind of its own,  my car skidded to a stop as it swerved into the left turn lane and then drove down the sloped driveway to the parking lot at Reaume Park.  Here, I breathed in and tasted the delicious sights of some wonderful spring flowers.  I took my time.

I think anyone would agree that today was a very special day indeed.

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Magnolias

by lulujane on May 2, 2009

The beauty of magnolias is fleeting.  I find that when photographing flowers, an always ready and willing subject matter, it forces me to chase the season.  Magnolia blossoms are some of the first of the season and ill weather can beat them to the ground, literally, or bruise their tender petals.  I work to find an individual personality in flowers, trees, blossoms and the like.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.  I am sharing with you here a few that were taken last week.  I was in bliss.dsc_0003x

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