Category Archives: Music

Only Child finds solace at Harbourfront

Harbourfront Music Garden and sailboats

Harbourfront sailboats and corner of the Music Garden in Toronto

Lake, beach, music and gardens – all created some peace for me, if only for a few hours. On Sunday I went to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Outside the two-year construction clutter is gone and the remake shows. Walk, bike, streetcars and cars all have their separate place to move along Queen’s Quay. And walking on the beach – sand or boardwalk (cement or boards) is lively, yet peaceful. About the only so-called drawback is the juggler who attracts crowds that block the access along the boardwalk.

I sat on a bench facing the boardwalk and ate my packed lunch while watching the boats sail around in Lake Ontario and people-watched. People of all sizes, ages and in quite a variety of clothes. But all enjoying themselves. And not crowded but not just a few people either. Perfect.

After lunch, I strolled along the boardwalk over to the grassy area (note: it is fake turf but if you had experienced the lumpy clumps of grass a few years ago, you would not complain about the turf). I checked out the craft booths for the perfect turquoise pendant. A few came close but not just it. I am trying to replace the pendant that got broken when I fell thanks to some careless you-know-what leaving a paper wire out on the street.

From there I headed for a brisk walk west to the Music Garden. This is a unique combination of wildflowers and other perennials, trees, pathways and a grassy area with layered wide steps to sit on while absorbing one of the summer classical music concerts. Sunday it was Italian baroque played by four musicians from Montreal. C0mpletely captured all my senses for an hour and soothed my tattered soul and body.

After the concert (free, by the way), I took some photos of the garden and of the ships sitting in the harbour, including one of the tall ships which you can board to take a tour around Toronto Harbour. Because of time, I left this one for another visit.

Then, after a quick look at some of the displays along the way, I went inside one of the buildings. I knew what I would find – all one area has closed and boarded up shops. It looks desolate and out of the atmosphere of Harbourfront. It seems like it was forgotten in the remodelling of Harbourfront area. And you know what I miss most – Tilly’s – you know of the Tilly hats? I can’t afford Tilly’s prices but I loved wandering in the store and looking at and feeling the clothing. The cafe is also gone as well as other shops. Not good.

So I went outside and boarded one of the new LRT streetcars which are slowing replacing the old clunkers. I still like the old clunkers but the new ones ride smoothly and you don’t have to show your ticket or pass unless asked. This short run took me underground and into Union Station where I (finally after a long wait) boarded the subway – another LRT types car – which I like. And I returned home.

A good day. With my health issues I don’t have too many of those.

So, it is carpe diem – for all of us.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Harbourfront sailboats

Harbourfront sailboats

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Music, Music Garden, Only child, Peace and quiet, Sailboats, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child welcomes the return of vinyl records

thumb_record_vinyl_45_rpm_record_gerald_g__01Vinyl records are making a big comeback and that makes me feel happy. Not just because I kept my old turntable from years back. But because I see this movement as a sign that not everything technological is going to hell in a virtual hand basket.

During the last few years technology has been on a roller-coaster ride, bombarding us, with so many of us now plugged in 24/7. Every trend, every movement hits its peak at some point. Perhaps modern technology already has. When that happens, the equilibrium needs to be adjusted to a more even keel.

Vinyl records may just be what technology needs to get a grip, to maybe even (dare I say) slow us down. For the past few years musicians have been recording both CD and vinyl. That includes my son Martin and his band Beams. They have a 45 (yes, you read this correctly) with the required two songs – one each side – coming out this week. It’s not called a 45 anymore – but a seven-inch. For those of us old foggies with old 45’s, measure the diameter and then it will twig in.

Did I say old foggies? The vinyl revolution is grabbing all ages – both for recording and buying. While I still have my really old Sears basic turntable (don’t laugh, but I have to physically place and remove the needle on and off the record) there are newer modern versions being manufactured with the built-in feature of converting to digital.

The stats show that vinyl sales increased from 2013 by 71 per cent from 2013 in 2014 in Canada. That’s 400,000 pieces of vinyl sold. In the United States vinyl sales reached 9.2 million in 2014, an increase from 2013 of 51 per cent.

And the vinyl presses can’t keep up with the demand. The old companies have to expand and upgrade or give up, but new ones are popping up. It is an expensive venture. I’ll let Ben Rayner, in his Toronto Star article, January 24, 2015 bring you up to date at

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/2015/01/24/vinyls-pressing-problem.html

But this vinyl movement might signal the way of the future, the answer – combining the old with the new. Think “radio.” Yes, radio; you know that audio device that’s been around for longer than me. Radio was the main way people found out quickly about events in World War II (The other modes around then, print news and film newscasts shown in movie theatres were not so up-to-date).

When television became very popular, pundits said radio would die. It didn’t. I’m sure the same has been said about both radio and TV since the Internet got going and spawned more and more technology.

Not true. Radio and television, while still operating on their own (somewhat. I’ll clarify that in a minute), are also connected to the Internet. You can watch TV programs online. Radio programs are broadcast online, often live-streamed. And there are online only radio and TV channels. For those of us who still like to watch our TV on an actual TV instead of online (the screen is larger for one thing), cable companies and the like offer program packages. There is also satellite TV.

True, a lot of the broadcasting companies for radio and television have amalgamated. But there is also more diversity on what is broadcast with all news stations, all sports stations and my favourite, an all classic music radio station (96.3 Classic FM for those who want to know).

Maybe this combination of old and new technology is the answer to the frenzied technological mess we are in. Maybe this is how the world gets back its technological equilibrium. And none too soon – before anyone else texting while crossing the street collides with a moving vehicle.

Now, if only all other extremes in the world (like the weather) could find their happy medium.

Meantime, my son’s band Beams will be holding a launch party for that seven-inch late this Thursday evening (January 29) at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Check it out at http://beamstheband.com/shows/

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under 1960s, LPs, Music, Nostalgia, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Sign of the Times

Only Child says road construction sign of life’s discord

Only Child’s front garden – headed for some destruction?

Last weekend I did a lot of walking in downtown Toronto and was appalled at all the road construction. Supposedly it is to improve Toronto’s streets and sites. But as I slogged through the heat along Front Street West and down York Street I couldn’t help wonder if underneath it all there is a more serious sign. If you throw in the extreme weather conditions worldwide – more severe thunderstorms with flooding, tornadoes, forest fires, and the worst drought since the Depression in the mid-1930s, you have to wonder. No, folks, I’m not talking the end of the world, although some people believe that will happen later this year. I mean the extensive invasive construction and extreme weathers conditions  just might be signs of the clutter, overwhelm, and disharmony in people’s lives throughout the world.

It didn’t used to be so much construction at once, although I remember as a five-year old, poking my head out the front door and seeing the whole street dug up for pipe replacement.

Now, Union Station – Toronto’s railway hub – is going through a big renovation. From the diagrams displayed inside the station’s big hall, the future looks great. But the process is taking a long time and producing a spill-out of more construction nightmares. The actual entries to Union Station and maneuvering around inside appear tolerable. Front Street outside is something else as the islands of gardens in the middle of the street were removed last year and this summer more of Front Street is one big long hole while sewers, etc. get updated. In June, the construction and the extreme weather created a flood inside Union Station and the subway platform below.

This weekend, yet another street where streetcars run, entered the construction act – to upgrade the tracks and prepare the area for a partial pedestrian walkway for Toronto’s Harbourfront. These streetcars (as well as those on Spadina Avenue) use a dedicated track line. The buses don’t. So, we have people, cars and buses (when they come) jamming streets and sidewalks. I gave up on waiting for the bus transfer from the subway (up the stairs, around the corner and down the street) for the walk to Harbourfront. Along with many others, I trudged through heat over to York Street and then some shade under the Gardner Expressway (which has had chunks of cement falling down in various places) and finally to Harbourfront. I was trying to make it in time for the classical music concert in the Harbourfront Music Garden. So I walked in the heat and humidity over to the west end of Harbourfront. As I arrived (late) and started through the gardens I could hear the “music.”

Somebody was insulting an accordion, hitting random chords of discord. I decided to skip the concert and wandered through the gardens. Here, beauty appeared and I found areas of the garden I hadn’t known existed. Truly this is an oasis of calm (except for the occasional sound from the concert popping through). When I walked back to Harbourfront Centre proper as I passed by the main outdoor concert stage, my ears were hit with more discord in sound. Another sign of the discord everyone seems to be experiencing in their lives?

And if I think sitting out in my garden will help, I have to think again – at least for the front garden. In my walk along the downtown streets Sunday and in my walks in nearby neighbourhoods the past month, I’ve seen the big gas pipe movement – replacement of old pipes for presumably newer and better ones. And if they have to, they go on your property and dig, although for the lucky ones, it stays on the sidewalk, roads, and maybe the driveway.

Not for me. I have gas lines under part of my front garden (once a front lawn). Why would gas lines (except the one connecting to the house service at the gas metre) be under a lawn? Who was at fault – the house builder/developer or the gas company back in the day when the area was developed? Somebody screwed up. And I’m terrified they will be coming to get my front garden – if not this year, then next. I’m having nightmares and daymares.

I need to find out more and make a plan.

Does anyone else find the extremes in weather, and such occurrences as too much radical construction, etc. a sign that our lives are really out of whack and we (I use the royal “we” here) need to make some changes before it is too late?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Clutter, Extreme Weather, Garden Destruction, Home and Garden, Music, Only child, Road Construction, Sharon A. Crawford, Sign of the Times, Union Station Toronto, Walking

Only Child turns down the technology

Only child buzzed by too much technology

I think I’m all tecked out – at least for a little while. Now you have to bring in the technological gadget to get a part replaced. For example, for a new working adapter for my external hard drive, bringing in the old adapter isn’t enough – they need the whole external hard drive because the adapter comes with a new case and they have to set it up with your external hard drive. Ditto for a new battery for my wireless phone handset. If you don’t know beforehand, that’s two trips for one replacement. Then there is that social networking get together coming up next month. It’s in person but you can’t just reply “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” There are four categories to sign up for – some free, some not. And just now when I went to update my Firefox browser on my laptop (as “it” was urging me to do), “it” told me I had incompatible ad-ons that had to be updated first. So I closed the box. Too technical for me. I’ll have to bring my laptop to my son’s place so he can do this. Strange, as when this happened on my desktop PC, I had no problem updating Firefox. Could it be because the laptop is using Windows 7? Maybe. But I think it’s more that technology is getting away from us.

Stop the world, I need a break.

When I was growing up (back in the grey ages) our biggest technological gadget was the transistor radio – complete with its mono output and one earphone. But I loved taking it to the beach or sitting out in my mother’s garden hooked up to my transistor and listening to the latest top 40 hits – Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, etc. Check http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/transistor-radio.html to see what I’m referring to.

I still have one of the updates from the transistor radio – a Walkman, and it works. And yes, I still have some tapes sitting around. Of course, I moved on to CDs years ago, but I also kept my turntable, records, and as it turns out (pun intended) turntables and LPs are back in style. What does that say for our current technological state? Some of you might think “old foggie baby boomers.” True. But I also wonder if it is a grasp at something less mind-blowing technological, something a little simpler. True you can’t cart it around with you like an iPod, but I’ve heard reports the sound is something better from what you can get from today’s technology. Don’t know if that is true, but there has to be some reason many music artists are recording on both CD and LP.

Let’s get one thing straight. I don’t have anything against the iPod – except maybe some people’s penchant for turning it up so loud, their “music” escapes into the surrounding atmosphere. The iPod is today’s answer to the transistor radio – one way to drown out today’s outside noise and excess technology. The latter may be an oxymoron, but if you are strictly using the iPod listening to music, you are ignoring the constant buzz of e-mails, Twitter, Facebook, not to mention the in-person noise around you. Just be careful and attentive when crossing the street.

So for the upcoming holiday weekend (Canada Day, July 1 in Canada and July 4 Independence Day in the US) why not tone down the technology or even give it a temporary rest? Sure, listen to your iPod but send Twitter, etc. to another planet. Me, I’m going to the beach with a good book (print) and also taking that book out into my garden.

Staying wired almost 24/7 (excluding sleep time, for those of us who still get some sleep) is draining.
Happy holiday.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

1 Comment

Filed under Balance, iPods, Music, Only child, Stress