Monday, November 17, 2008

Horizontal Tree

I discovered the Horizontal Tree when walking by the river on my way home one afternoon. I noticed a person lying on a branch, napping in the tree. As I walked by, she said something to me. It turned out to be a woman that I'd met the day before. It turned out to be the first of a number of afternoons we spent hanging out in there.
Perhaps "Horizontal Tree" is an inappropriate title for this tree. Like most trees it grows vertically from the ground, except that the bulk of it seems to have grown out instead of up. Its branches reach towards the river, and it is a dream to climb for those like myself who are curious enough to want to climb a tree, but not nimble enough to attempt such a feat under most circumstances. There are probably many more similar trees out there. I'd like to know about them.

Location: The north side of the Eramosa River, in Lyons Park. It is east of Gordon St. past the Ukrainian church, and well before Victoria Road. It is visible from the gravel walking trail.
Details: It can be muddy in the spring time, or whenever the water level is high.
Submitted by: aislinn thomas

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ricky Receptacle

For a few months I lived near Sunny Acres Park in Guelph. I would often walk by GCVI (Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute, the local high school) on my way to work. It was at least a month of walking along Arnold St. before I noticed that the garbage cans were special beyond the fact of their blue-ness. The downtown area has pretty average black metal garbage cans with an open top, and I appreciated the beat up blue garbage cans by the west end of the high school. I began to appreciate them even more when I took the time to actually read the flap. "RICKY RECEPTACLE SAYS THANK YOU," is written in raised text. Or as a friend pointed out, "RECEPTACLE SAYS RICKY THANK YOU."

It still makes my day to think about it.

On a side note, when I finally went by with a camera to document these garbage cans, there was a group of kids smoking beside Ricky. One fellow asked me what I was doing, why it was that I was taking a picture of the garbage can. I pointed out the flap. It turns out that he had never noticed the text either.

Location: Arnold St. between Paisley and Liverpool
Details: Every so often the garbage cans get moved to mow the lawn and so on. Every time this happens I worry that they are being replaced. There is usually a garbage can on the NW corner of Paisley and Arnold outside the convience store. It doesn't seem to be moved.
Submitted by: aislinn thomas

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jean's basement

I have spent hours in Jean's basement. Filled with a huge range of paraphernalia, it's entirely possible to become lost in there for ages. Shelves are filled with boxes overflowing with everything ranging from pointe shoes to scrapbooks, books, postcards, love letters, paintings, toys, photographs, school exercise books, clothing, instruction manuals to 1950s appliances, party-related odds and ends, dollhouse furniture, enamel jewelery making contraptions, board games, suitcases and tools. Most things aren't even in boxes, but in various piles corresponding to an intuitive if unintelligible organizational schema. And it's a welcoming basement, as far as basements go: well-lit, dry, comfortably haphazard, not especially smelly.

Maybe most basements are this enchanting, but I don't know of them. It's kind of like a gigantic and endearing thrift store, only all the objects come with stories that you can hear if you bring them up and ask Jean about them. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend it.

Location: Creve Coeur, St. Louis County, Missouri, USA
Details: By appointment. (Please contact Already Art if you'd like to arrange an appointment.)
Submitted by: aislinn thomas

Leslie Street Spit

The Friends of the Spit website has this to say about the Leslie St. Spit:
"The Leslie Street Spit is North America's most remarkable public urban wilderness. It is a 5-kilometre long peninsula, built by lakefilling, that juts into Lake Ontario close to downtown Toronto. Started 40 years ago, it was intended to be a breakwater for harbour expansion, which was not needed due to a decrease in lake shipping."
The website goes on to list the variety of wildlife (plants, birds, butterflies, etc.) that can be found on the Spit.

It's all very nice, but what makes it artful to me is the beach at the end of the spit. I rode my bike out there one day years ago, and was mesmerized by all the bent and tangled rebar in amoungst the weathered bricks and tiles. All the trash and junk that have been accumulating over decades is slowly transformed into these intriguing and beautiful shapes. I couldn't help but fill my pockets with the once-debris.

The site is still used for dumping building materials, so is only open to the public during certain times. It's a bit of a hike to the end of the spit--I recommend taking a bicycle if possible.

Location: the bottom of Leslie St. at Unwin Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada.
Details: open weekends (except Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's day) from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. April - October, and from 9:00 - 4:30 p.m. November to March. For more information on parking, and public transit access, see the Friends of the Spit directions page.
Submitted by: Anonymous

Friday, November 7, 2008

European Watch & Clock Experts

The European Watch & Clock Experts is a small, unassuming store with a bright yellow sign in downtown of Guelph. I have passed by it often for some time now, but only first went in about a year ago. My watch needed a new battery, and the gentleman who owns the store was kind enough to replace it, even though he was in the process of closing.

I was really intrigued by the giant glass jars he had that stored all the old batteries and mechanisms that he had recently replaced. These alone were really interesting objects. Add to that the huge variety of constantly ticking clocks that crowded the front part of the store, the framed certificates on the wall, and the decor. The truly extraordinary thing, however, was when at 5:15pm (or was it 5:30?) a good number of the many and varied time-keeping devices began making a strange collection of noises to signal that a quarter of the hour had passed. The noises ranged from chimes to pop and classical songs, bird calls, car engines, and so on. Over the course of about 45 seconds, I was treated to an bizarre and delightful cascade of sound (the clocks are just out of sync enough that the chimes are staggered). It was amazing.

Plan to go so that your time there overlaps the hour or half-past the hour in order to experience the audio component of this piece, although if my memory serves me right, at least some of the clocks go off every 15 minutes.

Location: 124 Wyndham St. N. Guelph, ON, Canada
Details: open Monday-Saturdays; plan to go to hear the chimes on the hour or half past
Submitted by: aislinn thomas