Stratford Day Trips

pull up a chair

My day trips to Stratford always start the night before by getting my fluids ready – a travel mug with my personal mix of cranberry juice, coffee, & water – for drinking on the way there. For the drive home – A water bottle that is about 1/3 cranberry juice & the rest is water – plus a couple of snacks: a granola bar & a banana. I pick out a cd to listen to in the car – something that’ll amuse me & my partner. Last trip it was a compilation of Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald etc. 

motorcycles that buzzed beside us for an hour or so on the highway – like a pair of affectionate puppies

Before we leave in the morning around 9 a.m. I’ve already had breakfast, checked my email, meditated some, showered. We’ve taken the same route for decades – up the DonValley into the 401. Some days there are so many big rigs we can’t see the overhead signs :-(. Around 10:20 I’ll start in on my travel mug special. 

For the last many years that has been a constant expansion of the 401 so traffic often gets funnelled into fewer lanes & there is always a bottle neck just past the airport, & another one as we approach Kitchener/Waterloo. We make our first stop at a Tim Ho’s by the Conestoga Doon Campus – ballers are ready to be emptied to make room for Tim’s. I like their RedEye.

We take the New Dundee Road from there turning to a country road that takes us through Haysville, to another road through Shakespeare – where we stop at the Shakespeare Pie Shoppe for – pies! they made great seasons fruit pies & also excellent meat pies. Next stop lunch Stratford. We usually arrived by 11:30.

Most often we lunch at Features – good, unspectacular, reasonably priced food. Bacon & eggs are my go to there. This past year they changed location by a couple of blocks to bigger, brighter space. Once a season we go to Bentley’s. They do a great grilled cheese. 

If there’s time a stroll & a visit to the remaining bookstore before re-parking near the theatre of the day. Usually a visit to the gift shop, where, to be supported, I often force myself to buy a t-shirt lol. The drive home is usually twice as long for the same distance 😦 Traffic getting to Toronto is terrible. Made worse by big rigs that block overhead sign. That’s when the cd of the day does its soothing work. 

I usually take lots of photos with my camera & also cell pics to send to friends. They always envy the Pie shop shots. 

tarts galore at The Shakespeare Pie Shop

We’re already planning our shows for the Stratford 2023 season. Spamalot for sure, Richard II – a Shakespeare I’ve never seen, at least one of the other  Shakespeare & maybe Frankenstein. I feel a tingle in my bolts just thinking about it:-) 

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a short piece inspired by Haysville

The Petition

We had driven through Haysville many times on our way to Stratford. It was one of those small towns with little for tourists to do except maybe stop at the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. There wasn’t even a service-station with a Tim Horton’s.

The village became a bit of a joke because of the  ‘Children of Haysville’ sign on the edge of town: 

In the years we’ve driven through we’d never seen a child, or an adult for that matter. Never seen anyone go in or out of the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. The only car we ever saw in either direction was our own. Once I did notice some clothes drying on the line. All white, gently undulating in the afternoon sun.

We joked that if we stopped we’d never leave. We always stuck to the child-suggested speed limit then floored it when we got past the village limits.

This time there were yellow plastic streamers wrapped around the trees on either side of the road. We drove slower than usual.

Stapled to a plywood board tied to one 

of the trees by the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant was a large piece of paper. 

We stopped and got out of the car to see what it was.

It was a petition to halt an expansion of the highway to allow for larger trucks. A widening to extend the road on either side that would result in destroying the many hundred-year-old trees which had been marked with yellow.

We signed the petition. The Happy Pie Shop was closed for the day, so we got back in our car. 

The car wouldn’t start.

Rocky Road To Stirling

We recently went to Stirling, Ontario, to see a summer theater production of The Rocky Horror Show. I haven’t driven out this way since my last workshop at Loyalist, in Bellville. Weather was perfect. Our driver got a little turned around looking for a lunch spot, which we did find, but time lost meant we didn’t get to Stirling with time to do more than park & get into the theatre for an excellent show.

clear skies as we drive along
endless blue
Trent River locks
W. Front St. Stirling
stained glass in Stirling Festival Theatre lobby
box-office deco decor in Stirling Festival Theatre

https://www.stirlingfestivaltheatre.com/history/

small-town architecture
anyone want to open a b’n’b?

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Recap May 2022

They wouldn’t let me try it on 😦

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That Canada tops the list is unusual. That Poland (Witaj Polsko) & Ecuador (Hola lectores en ecuador) are in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello to my fans in Morocco (مرحباً أيها القراء في المغرب)!

Picture Perfect -119 sections, about 169,000 words posted so far with  20,000 approx to be edited then posted. These last sections took a fair amount editing, fresh writing & even some minor side plot development as I inch closer to the final big scenes now that the remains of the abducted children have been found. 

Watched an amazing documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company & becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking. A must see that is streaming on TVO.

Watched Midsommar, bound to be come a season favourite. The depth of research was gratifying & the ritual aspects of the story were spot on & thought totally imaginary felt authentic. When I watch it again I will skip to when they arrive in Sweden as the first act is dreary & quickly drained my sympathy for any of the characters. By the time they got to the commune I was happy with all of them dying. 

The extras on our edition of the DVD were banal though I was surprised that only one, of all the leads was American, as I assumed they all were until I heard their actual accents: Irish, Scottish, & that weird accent that is sort of Manx-African-Aussie. Sadly the soundtrack lp contains none of the Swedish chanting – so I didn’t buy it.

Read an excellent set of short stories: 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by Bracken MacLeod. Eerie, scary, inventive well-written tales that are Twilight Zone extreme with explicit gore & violence. Highly recommended for any horror fans.

May has been a month full of of activity, of breaking routines & getting dirty. Dirty digging in the dirt to get my garden ready for the summer. Some hostas were split & halves replanted else where in the garden. All the perennials returned, some worse for winter wear mind you. Loads of annuals planted – asters, alyssum, begonia, marigolds, snap dragons, impatiens, daisies, pansies, petunias, coleus, plus seeds are sprouting for four kinds of morning glory. It will a colourful garden for sure. 

a side & b side 🙂 bluer than they appear here

Getting back to my roots by adding some Stonehenge Preseli bluestone to my rock/crystal collection. Part of Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones made of bluestone that is only found is & was quarried from Preseli, Wales. I did an esty search & ordered some. 

Coming up in June is a day trip to Stratford to see Hamlet – after the excellent Richard III we saw in May I’m looking forward to this season’s take on Hamlet.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thanks 🙂 paypal.me/TOpoet 

Stratford Big Rig

Some pictures taken on a recent day trip to Stratford to see Richard III. The big rig photos were taken from a moving car hence the slight blur.

morning sky when we hit the 401
our favorite pie shop
too big for our cooler
washroom selfie at Bentley’s
outside the new Tom Patterson Theatre
gardens at the Tom Patterson
on the way home we got stuck behind this big rig – note it is wider than the road
big rig finally turns at 401 – it added 30 min to our drive home 😦
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Stratford July 2021

With an upcoming day trip to Stratford to see Richard III here are some photos from a day trip there in July 2021 to get away. We didn’t see a show but booked tickets to see Three Tall Women in October. https://topoet.ca/2021/10/01/ah-yes-i-remember-it-well/

For recharging your car not your cellphone
safe from glory holes too
no pee peeking
wash your own hands
one of the outdoor stages
tarts at the Shakespeare Pie Shop
barn on the way home
rustic farm house
Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy Stratford tickets, thanks? paypal.me/TOpoet

2021 Recap

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 445 to 468! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress. The WordPress map show my hits have come from over 70 countries around the world. USA still tops the list but that China & Bangladesh are in the top 10 is a surprise. Nigeria in the top 20 – but behind Malawi! Kazakhstan! Still no hits from North Korea 😦 My Tumblr is at 346 followers. 229 Twitter followers.

My top ten posts of the year include 2 out of the archives! Born To Be Blown – from 2014 – https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/; & Sydney Academy 2 from 2019 https://topoet.ca/2019/08/12/sydney-academy-2/.

I made a few changes in my blogging routine to give me more time for actual writing 🙂 At the start of the pandemic blogging daily was an excellent way to get through the lockdown. Then it became work I had to keep up with & was no longer fun, so I cut way back.

In 2020 I did 322 posts; in 2021 I only 260 blog posts – of course having no live poetry readings or Stratford show to review reduced the quantity. Though on of the highlights of 21 was seeing Three Tall Women on stage in Stratford. Martha Henry’s tour de force final production.

Picture Perfect: Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I’ve been enjoying the slow process of edits & have made some major cuts in the final set of rough drafts. As usual my biggest issue is keeping names straight – what did I call that rcmp constable a hundred pages ago? I’m really enjoying creating the weekly graphic for each section. I do have an endless supply of frame & paintings that people have thrown out.

Like many people I’m weary of the pandemic, of people’s reactions, of the roller-coaster of restrictions, & now the paranoia. Is it allergies? A cold or covid? How ‘sick’ does one have to be to get tested? Who pays for it? By the time you get tested, have the results, early onset treatment is too late. How long before neo-citron markets a neo-covid hot lemon drink?

Highlights of the year: contributing a forward to Philip Cairns book Hollywood Poems; having some pieces of mine included in Pandemic Poetry. Extensive work on my garden. Deep house cleaning in a lock-down pandemic purge of the house top to bottom, in particular a basement full of stuff – some not touched since we moved into the house some 40 years ago. 

I did get used to zoom recovery meetings & now seriously doubt if I’ll go back to face-to-face. I do meet up with fellow recoveries for face-to-face conversations & sharing. Going up to my room for a zoom is much easier than getting ready an hour or so in advance to get there with the hope the TTC hasn’t shut down. 

What am I looking forward to in 2022? Good question. Travel out of the country is out of the question. Even for travel within Canada testing rules can change while I am landing so I might never get off the plane or end up living in a tent on the runway until I can get an appointment for the right test. But I am considering another week or so in Cape Breton if pandemic travel rules loosen up enough. Stratford has a tentative season with a couple of shows we’re interested in seeing but will it end up a repeat of last season’s open air productions?

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to pay for travel covid tests – thanks? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Standing On Guard

Most of these are ornamental statues that are meant to be more than decorative. All are meant to either attract good luck or repel bad luck. I see various sizes of the Chinese lions more often than the others. The courtier is a one-of-a-kind outside a hotel in Stratford, Ontario.

Chinese lions – Fu Foo Dogs
Fu Foo Dog close up
guarding serenity
meditation
griffins on O’Connor
happy to threaten you
Stratford courtier with cookies
or is that a hamburger
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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet


Recap September 2021

Stratford safety protocols

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 465! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA & Canada top the list is no surprise but India is back to third place while Sweden &  Bangladesh remain in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello Zimbabwe! 

Most popular posts were Pandemic Poetry Project (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/16/pandemic-poetry-project/); Sunlight & Shadows (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/13/sunlight-and-shadows/). My particular favorite was Tales of Brave Trending (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/19/tales-of-brave-trending/).

My Tumblr is at 350 followers. 226 Twitter followers. Picture Perfect: 86 sections, about 126,000 words posted so far with approx 66,000 remaining to be edited then posted.

A surprisingly great watch has been American Horror Show: Double Feature. All the usual throat slashing & blood drinking but this time combined with a sharp, merciless look at creativity & the sacrifices made to be productive. In this case a drug that unlocks a writer’s, painter’s blocked inner potential. If you are brilliant & blocked you become genius, if you are mediocre & blocked you become a sort of stumbling grey person. Intense performances with Frances Conroy stunning & Macaulay Culkin excellent. 

Finally got around to seeing Parasite – a visually & philosophically stunning film. Figuratively & literally the plot moves through cultural levels to a fugal climax that is breathtaking. The rich house set is an amazing piece of modern architecture – one of those sets like the astounding deco apartments that show up is 30’s movies but only existed in movies. The plot made me think of Dante’s Inferno as it takes us literally through the rings of Hell. 

Also watched Valley of the Dolls, again 🙂 https://topoet.ca/2021/09/26/valley-of-the-bras/ 

nice tongue action

Finished reading Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem (1928). McKay was part of the Harlem Renaissance & wrote several novels & books of poetry but his approach was ‘earthier’ & deemed not elevated enough to cast a favourable light on his race. The novel is a fun, fast slice of the night life, the work life, the love/sex life of the times by someone who lived those times.  His hero has a strong emotional bromance with another male character: Wiki tells us “McKay was bisexual; he pursued relationships with both men and women throughout his life. He never officially “came out” (nor did anyone else in his time) nor explicitly stated his sexual preference.” 

The highlight of the month was a day trip to Stratford to see Three Tall Women. https://topoet.ca/2021/10/01/ah-yes-i-remember-it-well/ 

The Tingler

as a boy

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

mot that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go you lying loser.

<>

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to some movie I saw

where some sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

<>

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

<>

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no fucking difference

<>

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now was a lie

and that’s the truth

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Stratford September 30 2021

Some photos taken on our day trip to Stratford to see Three Tall Women

endless sky
corn corn corn
leaves turning
autumn colours
Studio Theatre garden
Studio Theatre garden
Stratford town hall steps with orange T-shirts & running shoes
deco street lamp
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 


Pandemic Travel

all pics from Scotia Bank Arena

So we’ve entered another phase of pandemic life as we know it & in response covid has mutated to become more contagious – pharmaceutical companies are now pushing for booster shots – to save mankind while boosting their profits. The un-vaxxed surf their wave of ‘it’s my right to die & it’s my right to take you with me’ rational.

I’ve kept my eye on the loosening of travel restrictions & wonder who profits from the mandatory covid testing? In order to go you need a ‘fresh’ test, in order to come back you need another ‘fresh’ test but if you haven’t made appointments in advance you could be stuck. Will travel health insurance cover the cost of covid testing in the USA? 

Google says average price is $150. for tests in USA but can cost up to $850.00! There can be additional fees for collecting the samples, for transporting the sample to the testing facility. On top of which not all vaccines are acceptable so one has to make sure they have two of the accepted shots! 

All this is along with all the other preparations needed to travel: ie passport, hotel, airplane tickets, documentation to prove you have the above, proof of registration on some ‘return to Canada app.’ Do I have to travel with a printer to print out that proof? I’ll need an extra carry on just for all that stuff. Oh yes & a supply of masks. 

Speaking of masks I won’t be taking TTC, shopping at Farmer’s markets, eating indoors or attending plays without wearing one. As for travel plans for now I’ll just stay home & take a zoom tour 🙂

Whitney Pier Museum

I visit little local museums

dedicated to the industry of the area

steel workers    miners

displays about the various ethic groups

Jewish   Black    Ukrainian

old high school year books

pictures of teams   hockey   basketball

rows of mothers knitting for the war

soldiers returning   or those lost

churches that have come gone

business that survived  faded

as economies rose   dipped

the first black owned store in the city

families in fields picnics outings

Christmas parties in church auditoriums

faces turned to cameras

or sullen in front of raging blast furnaces

smeared with cold dust at a mine exit

men in groups workers comrades

sometimes everyone named

who’s your father a tree of discovery

<>

I sift through these

wonder about the real lives of these men

where is my history

I’m to assume each of them

had a wife   kids somewhere

they sweated worked for that dream

a house   garden 

no way to find out if any of them

sought out something in each other

no mention that 

Jack and John lived happily together 

in this house on Lingan Road

everyone knew but no one cared

<>

I don’t need to know the lives

of those famed homos of the past

Radcliff Hall Alan Ginsburg

the list gets longer 

as we allow history to reveal

what historians thought too sordid 

to bring to light

the sex lives of heteros 

are fine fodder mind you

<>

I look at these photos

what truths are unrecognized

no display of the same sex inclined

as if the queers in history

were not ordinary folks like these 

in little local museums of the closeted

2008

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee & donuts
– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet