Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

Our family has a pattern — not yet a tradition — of skiing at Blue Mountain on December 24.  On the day before Christmas, the slopes are relatively quiet … and the people working the lodge and lifts aren’t yet stressed out by the holiday crowds that will arrive in the following days.  We haven’t been consistent on this event, because it’s only worth going if snow conditions are good, and pre-Christmas weather is variable.  In 2008, conditions were favorable,and we were on the road as the sun rose.  Since we ski irregularly, we rent equipment at the lodge for the day.  We’re not very practiced in getting dressed in the gear.

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As oldsters, Diana and I prefer the tradition of Alpine skiing.  Adam and Noah have been on snowboards in prior years.  Ryan decided to stick with skis, and followed his parents for the first few runs.

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Taking the ski lift up is more straightforward for skiiers than snowboarders, who have to release the binding for one foot.  After riding the lift to the top of the hill, Adam and Noah demonstrated the procedure of reattaching snowboard bindings while seated.

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Unlike prior trips sunny enough for sunglasses, this day was overcast and cold both in the morning and afternoon.  From a north facing ridge, the clouds were low on the views of Georgian Bay and Collingwood.

December 31st, 2009

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Friday night, and I really needed to get out of the house. I’ve been reading about pork bone soup, so I suggested to Diana and Noah — the only son at home that evening — that we check it out. We went drove up to Ka Chi in Koreatown.

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The interior is modest. The impressionist paintings on the wall were an interesting selection for a local Korean restaurant. We ordered the pork bone soup, and some dumplings.

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The pork bone soup tasted homemade. So homemade … that we’ve made similar at home. I guess that we’re untraditional in modern Western society, but traditional in our Chinese roots that we make soup broth from scratch. The taste of the Korean soup was a little different from ours, but that degree of variation isn’t unusual from cook to cook.

August 9th, 2008

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It was a dark and stormy night …. and we heard a crack outside out from front door.

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There’s two trees in front of our house. The big linden tree is city-owned, and was a little sapling when we moved into the house in 1988. When we had some professional landscaping done, a small tree — I’m told that it was a bean plant grafted onto a tree trunk — was put in to shade the kitchen window.

The heavy rain filled the leaves of the tree. The weight pulled the tree over. In the pouring rain, we managed to separate the broken branches from the trunk, pulling it to the side. The next day, we had a handyman with a chain saw cut the branches down so we could move them.

We debated what to do with a five foot tree trunk. Letting nature take its course, it sprouted a few days later. The tree is growing back.

August 5th, 2008

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Wychwood Park is a semi-famous enclave in midtown Toronto. Somehow, in all my years in the Toronto area, I’ve never been there. Maybe it’s because it’s up a hilly section of town, so I’ve avoided it on my bicycle. On a bright summer day, I decided to make this a destination, just to see what was there. I rode west on Davenport Road — bypassing a further climb up to Casa Loma — until I reached Bathurst Street.

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Near the northwest corner is plaque that begins: “… 12,00 years ago, meltwater from retreating glaciers formed Lake Iroquois …. The ancient shore remains as an escarpment overlooking the plain on which Toronto is built.”

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In an early private-public partnership, Davenport Road was constructed with tollbooths. The Tollkeeper’s Cottage dates back to 1835.

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Across Davenport Road, on the south side, is the TTC Hillcrest Complex.

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The Hillcrest yards are where streetcars are maintained.

August 3rd, 2008

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Toronto is a sufficiently large venue that jazz players visit throughout the year. In combination with other venues across North America and the world, though, there’s a long tradition of chaining musicians into compressed weeks, such as the Toronto Jazz Festival. For years, now, Andy and I have had standing plans to attend see world-class jazz together.

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I made a tactical error by not buying tickets in advance, so the tent was sold out. Andy and I were sitting at a picnic table way out on Nathan Phillips Square, too far to see, but easily close enough for amplified sound.

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I don’t understand why the jazz festival organizers decided to book three great New York-based guitar players on the same bill. I would have paid to see them separately, on three different nights. John Abercrombie was on first. Zooming out my camera to maximum (432 mm), I photographed images that I couldn’t see with my unaided eyes.

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Second on the bill, Mike Stern was next. He played a great set, but I’ had seen him play longer at the 55 Bar in NYC, 2 weeks earlier.

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On bass was Chris Minh Doky, who I’ve never seen play live, before.

June 29th, 2008

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I’ve seen Donny McCaslin play in a trio at Louis 649, and with Steps Ahead at Iridium. Since I was spending a lot of time in NYC this summer, I decided to see him perform in a quartet at 55 Bar. When I arrived, there was one seat the bar, right up at the front … and I had a nice conversation with the drummer’s fiancee.

The motivation for seeing the quarter was the sidemen: Adam Cruz on drums. Boris Kozlov on bass, and Ben Monder on guitar. Some of Donny’s tunes I’ve heard before, but in jazz there’s always space for different interpretations.

55 Bar, as usual, was packed. It’s a long, narrow basement with a few row of tables and lots of people standing at the back.

June 23rd, 2008

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