20191216_135553

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE – Pt.III

 

 

Sunday Dec. 15th dawned sunny, as usual, and I was excited to see my friend AJ (below) and his husband Tom who were meeting me for brunch at the famous Valley Ho hotel. Poor pneumonia-plagued AJ had mustered enough energy for a couple of hours of catching up, enjoying a great meal and showing me his and Tom’s fave hotel in Old Town.20191215_132650 20191215_132736 20191215_132708We saw a gingerbread version of the famous mid-century modern hotel (above) on the way into Zuzu’s cafe for our brunch. Isn’t it cute?  After our deelish meal, the guys showed me around the property, much of which has been preserved in its original form, complete with colourful wall tiles on each balcony, sexy lounges and outdoor courtyards….20191215_133514(0) 20191215_133255 20191215_132831 20191215_13305420191215_133607After being dropped off by AJ & Tom, the remainder of the afternoon was spent out on my balcony, enjoying the sunshine and watching the palm trees “dance the hula” in the high desert wind.

Next day, I decided on what genuine touristy experiences remained for me to explore so off I went for my morning latte at Barista Brothers to plan the next few days before returning to cold grey Toronto.20191217_11211320191216_135603bac12bdaf26e0111784ffb89e3c2967bI just walked around and watched for interesting photo opps, like this one of the colourful buildings surrounding the Civic Centre:20191218_125015And checked out the artful sidewalks near my hotel (below)…such civic pride makes me wish that Toronto took as much care with their public spaces.20191218_084500Just a few more days remaining on my holiday – I wonder what adventures remain?

20191216_135553

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE OLD TOWN – Pt. II

The second day in Scottsdale dawned sunny and with clear blue skies…as usual! Based on the recommendation of friend AJ, I headed out to Merci, a cute little French bistro located in an unassuming plaza about 10 minutes from my hotel. Off I went in the courtesy van….20191213_092841…and walked into the cute tiny boite where I enjoyed THE best Quiche Loraine and refreshing salad. www.mercifrenchcafe.com20191213_095146 20191213_100019Did a little shopping for family & friends then returned to the hotel for a swim in the heated pool and some sunbathing…had the perfect balcony for catching rays…and I stayed out there until the sun started going down. What a wonderful relaxing afternoon.20191213_143347 20191213_162438Day 3 started off brightly (again!) so I headed downtown Old Town and landed smack in the middle of tourist heaven – in front of famed Bischoff’s gallery & store where even their grounds contain stunning sculptures. I spent a great deal of time there on my last visit…20191214_103501 20191214_103337 20191214_103430I love their lemon tree out front and surprisingly, nobody steals any fruit so here it is, laden with lemons, surrounded by sculptures and cacti.  www.bischoffsgallery.com20191214_103717I hadn’t previously explored all the parkland behind so imagine my surprise when I discovered the Scottsdale Civic Centre located there along with several chi-chi restaurants, a performing arts theatre, the contemporary art gallery and so many fountains…20191214_104504 20191214_104954

The famous LOVE sculpture is also located there…20191214_105820After hiking around the grounds for over an hour, it was time to head back to the hotel so I could get ready for dinner, so I enjoyed another hour of sunbathing on the balcony and as the evening drew close, I was thrilled to see these amazing clouds that went from soft fluffy white cotton balls to gold. 20191214_161513 20191214_172133Dinner was amazing – I went back to Merci French Cafe to try their Beef Bourguignon and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never tasted anything so good. Mmmmmm. 20191214_181436Tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll be enjoying brunch with friends AJ and Tom.  AJ’s pneumonia was finally on the mend so he is making the heroic effort to get dressed up and come downtown where we’ll celebrate an early Christmas.

20191216_135553

Adventures in Scottsdale Old Town – Pt.I

Having had such a wonderful time there last spring, I decided to again visit the friendly Old Town Scottsdale as a Christmas/birthday gift to myself – and it was the bestest gift ever! Last time I stayed with my old Aussie mate, AJ, with whom I worked at a Toronto TV station back in 1999; this time I booked myself into the Holiday Inn Express Suites (pictured below) located close to all the tourist action and very affordable for an 8-day stay.20191218_113254 20191218_113219I took a late night flight out of Toronto and arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport around midnight and after a 15 minute cab ride, checked in and slept until dawn, and this is what I saw when I pulled the drapes back in the morning…..sunshine,palm trees and the pool!!20191213_162438After a quick breakfast, my Day One adventures commenced…the hotel offers a courtesy van that takes you to and from whatever destination you request within a 3 mile radius and my first trip was straight into the touristy hub where I dropped in to say hello to Diana at the Scottsdale Jewels store where I previously purchased some great bling…I wonder if she would remember me?20191212_110646You betcha she remembered! What joy to be welcomed back with a big hug. Diana showed me lots of new fine pieces, native American handcrafted silver and gems and yes, I did quite a bit of shopping there including rings, earrings and even some mini Kachina dolls (currently sitting on my kitchen island bar, waiting to be located somewhere special along with some Navajo “fetishes” I picked up at the Gilbert Ortega Gallery).20191221_175325There’s so much to see, try on and buy at Scottsdale Jewels and Diana is always happy to give shoppers a tour of the turquoise, silver, coral, spiny oyster and even introduce you to the bears!20191212_110609 20191212_11115220191212_11061820191212_110604 20191212_111200Check out their website: www.scottsdalejewels.com and if you visit, tell Diana (and the bears) I said hi!

Next, it was down a couple of doors to the wonderful Mexican Imports souvenir store…so much fun & soooo much to see. Picked up a few souvenirs and the lovely ladies there remembered me from my previous visit. They have very affordable trinkets and nic-nacs. You can see more on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MexicanImports20191212_134155

Time for a sit down and a latte and I was thrilled to discover Barista Brothers, a modest little cafe & gelato shop run by fellow Aussie, Chase. When Aussies connect, it’s time for a real chin-wag (chat) about back home, what we miss food-wise, etc. and he was kind enough to let me sit and upload pics & posts to my social media…thanks, mate.20191212_140039More wandering around, checking out all the touristy stuff, before finding somewhere for a late lunch…20191212_142607 20191212_143223 20191212_142632…and lunch was fabulous at the kitschy but deelish Sugar Bowl diner- a legend for frugal foodies!20191212_144603 20191212_144834I had the turkey dinner special with all the fixin’s, thanks to recommendations from fellow tourists I met outside. Looked like something out of Happy Days…all pink vinyl banquettes and kitchen chairs – I definitely recommend a visit. www.sugarbowlscottsdale.com/

Once my hunger was sated, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for “Art Walk” in the evening – every Thursday during the cooler months, the gallery district hosts open galleries and artist studios, welcoming art lovers  with wine & cheese soirees, live music on the street and all sorts of “meet the artist” events. Oh my, there must be at least 50 indie galleries in a 3 or 4 block area, all offering contemporary and native American paintings, sculptures and stunning hand-crafted jewellery and silver work. So much to see and photograph, although the dark night and modest illuminations made it difficult to really capture the colour and energy of the event…but here goes:
20191212_193751 20191212_194757 20191212_201652I started at the Wilde Meyer gallery (below) where I had already purchased a miniature I saw online a couple of months back (see last pic in this series) – they have lots of beautiful works on display so join me on a photographic tour of their gallery:20191212_19221920191212_19234220191212_19231220191212_19251320191212_19270320191212_19253420191212_19245620191212_193248Thanks, Laura, for greeting me and wrapping up my darling little saguaro cactus painting for a safe trip home.  www.wildemeyer.com

I also loved visiting the R.C. Gorman gallery featuring the work of the late artist of the same name. And I fell hard for the local Navajo fine jewellery – I just had to buy a beautiful ring that kept calling my name! www.rcgormannavajogallery.com20191215_13503120191215_13495620191215_13501520191218_150712I must have spent nearly 3 hours wandering the streets that night, stopping to enjoy the music from artists such as Mike Randall pictured below doing his best Buddy Holly, along with his lovely lady in the most beautiful red & white poodle skirt.  www.comebackbuddy.com
20191212_190645 20191212_194518 20191212_193903Thanks to all the gallery owners & curators, artists and entertainers – I had a blast meeting you and dropping a few $s into the local economy, too!  Back to the hotel for a well-earned rest, all set for the next day’s adventures….

20191205_165806(0)

FRENCH POP ARTIST VIKKA CELEBRATES 1st CANADIAN SOLO SHOW AT TORONTO’S URBAN GALLERY

Although he was suffering a little jet-lag, French artist VIKKA came straight from the airport and walked through the doors of Urban Gallery last night to see his latest art project hanging on the walls…and it all looked great!20191205_161952 20191205_162024 20191205_180037The multi-disciplinary self-taught artist is showcasing his pop-art paintings, sculptures and photography in his first ever Canadian month-long solo show titled “In Memory of Witold and Max” – a visual tribute to his beloved grandfathers, both of whom were talented artists, too. He was joined by his sister, Bénédicte, who also assisted with translations, when necessary.20191205_170331

His colourful, surreal street art style canvases attracted a lot of attention last night and visitors marveled at the details and intricacies of each painting – you can stand there for half an hour and still discover new little embedded characters and features! 20191205_175951(0) 20191205_18000520191205_161937 20191205_162045There are a trio of paintings dedicated to 3 of his art heroes, Warhol, Basquiat (pictured above) and Haring; here the artists talks about these pieces, mostly in French but his passion transcends language!

Gallery Director Calvin Hambrook (below L) and Curator Allen Shugar (below R) were thrilled with the artwork which was shipped direct from France and only arrived earlier this week.20191205_172138In Memory of Witold & Max runs in Toronto now until December 28th – for directions and gallery hours, visit: www.UrbanGallery.ca  and to learn more about Vikka’s work, follow him on IG @vikkaartist20191205_180037 20191205_162127

 

20191202_180248 (3)a

Author Geordie Telfer marks 100yr anniversary of disappearance of Toronto theatre impresario Ambrose Small

Last night, December 2nd, author Geordie Telfer hosted a special reading of Hogtown Empire to mark the 100 year anniversary of the disappearance of Ambrose Small, the subject of his recently published book. Hogtown Empire Cover-v4The event took place at the prestigious One King West Hotel & Condos in downtown Toronto which was one of the very last places Ambrose was sighted on that fateful night in 1919. Held in the lower level Vault, once a secure storage for The Dominion Bank’s cash – now a party space, guests filed in greeted by welcome glasses of bubbly and lots of yummy treats.20191202_180511 (2)aThe performance started with an intro by Bruce Bell, Toronto’s leading historian who also wrote the forward for Geordie’s book. Bruce (pictured below) set the stage which his description of the city’s social make-up back then.20191202_194011 (2)Geordie then read multiple excerpts from Hogtown Empire, adding many humorous asides and sharing his thoughts on Canada’s longest running cold-case. He also treated the audience to a number of musical interludes featuring his original songs about Ambrose’s  upper crust society wife, his giant mustache and even a ditty about his famous racehorse.20191202_194335 (2)a 20191202_200627 (2)aThe audience included several local celebrities (Brian Kaulback from Murdoch Mysteries tv series and most recently, the movie Shazam!) …

Brian Kaulback (L) with Bruce Bell (C) and Brian's lady friend Linda (R)

Brian Kaulback (L) with Bruce Bell (C) and Brian’s lady friend Linda (R)

…and descendants of one of the key real-life characters in the book.  Also in the house was psychic medium Gaby who offered her impressions via channeled spirits about the place itself and about the possible “resting place” of Ambrose himself.  Geordie then personally signed copies of Hogtown Empire for his guests who posed with facsimiles of that giant moostache!!20191202_203540 (3)a20191202_205308 (3) b20191202_204220Psychic medium Gaby brought her handsome ex-pro baseball player hubby, Gabriel, who enjoyed the evening of mystery (below)20191202_203714 (2)…and even the One King West bar staff got into the spirit of the event (below)20191202_205938 (2)aMany of the guests stayed behind for even more photo opps with the author…20191202_211641(2)If you would like to learn more about the mysterious disappearance of Toronto’s millionaire theatre mogul and Geordie’s book, please visit the website: www.hogtownempire.com  You can subscribe to Geordie’s social media and listen to podcasts featuring interviews with Torontonians who have links to the impresario himself. You can also purchase your own copy (soft-cover or eBook) via Amazon.

Big thanks to One King West for providing such a unique space (www.onekingwest.com) and to Gaby’s colleague, Lynda, who offered tarot readings to many of the guests.

 

 

 

 

20191023_130859

RIDIN’ THE RAILS WITH CANADIAN DAYTRIPPERS!

Yesterday, the sun was shining bright as I joined up with the folks from Canadian Daytrippers to enjoy a railway trip along the York-Durham scene railroad. As the coach wound it’s way thru country roads, the passengers were lively and full of anticipation…

It only took about an hour to reach the rail-head in Uxbridge where we were set to depart for a 2hr trip with a 3-course luncheon served in vintage Pullman coaches.20191023_131122 20191023_13115220191023_160828There were several vintage trains and carriages on show in the rail yard (above) – who doesn’t LOVE trains??
We were soon off and running after a very careful boarding of those passengers with physical challenges. The railway station offers a special hoist for wheelchairs and walkers so everybody was able to enjoy the trip. We were greeted by the friendly staff who came around ensuring that our menu choices were confirmed – steak or salmon…mmm, yummy.20191023_142051Then off we rolled, gently winding our way throughout the York-Durham region countryside. Sadly, the sun disappeared behind a bank of clouds so the fall colours did not “pop” and the scenery took on a somewhat grey pall. But the company was animated and full of good humour, swapping travel tales, family histories, embarrassing situations and silly stories – nobody seemed to mind the unfortunate lack of scintillating scenery.  But when I checked out my photos later, I noticed that many of my pics took on an almost Impressionist-like feel…see what I mean:20191023_144744 20191023_144419 20191023_144827 20191023_145135As we chowed down, I noticed one of the passengers who REALLY enjoyed her lunch..20191023_145207More lovely countryside views on the home-bound leg of the trip, and as we pulled back into the Uxbridge station, we went past the legendary Ontario Northland carriages..20191023_15104320191023_161106All good things must come to an end so we alighted with laughter, smiles….. and several satisfied burps!20191023_161421Big thank you to all the railway staff, and especially our charming (and very patient) tour guide, Debbie, from Canadian Daytrippers (below).20191023_163019If you’d like to learn more about Toronto day trips with this groovy group that caters to seniors/zoomers, visit their website at: www.canadiandaytrippers.com. They offer evening group trips to theatre festivals, Niagara Falls events and unique experiential trips to the country…like this train journey, or the Muskoka Lake cruise I wrote about last month. See you on the bus!!

20191022_225128

AUTHOR GEORDIE TELFER LAUNCHES “HOGTOWN EMPIRE” BOOK ABOUT NOTORIOUS 100YR OLD TORONTO COLD-CASE MYSTERY

Big CONGRATULATIONS to local author GEORDIE TELFER on his packed-house book launch last night held at Toronto’s Dominion Pub & Kitchen.  He entertained his guests with selected readings, music and original songs that told the tale of the disappearance of Toronto theatre mogul & millionaire, Ambrose Small (pictured below), who led a life of dodgy dealings and showbiz shenanigans.AS_Composite“Hogtown Empire” is a tale of money, deception and betrayal with a cast of captains of industry, socialites and would-be con artists. It’s the culmination of several years of research, interviews and scouring official police and news archival records, much of which led Geordie in different directions complete with red herrings and false starts.Hogtown Empire Cover-v4Here is an exciting true-crime adventure story. Ambrose Small and his wife, Theresa, were wealthy entertainment impresarios who owned a prominent chain of theatres in southern Ontario. On December 2, 1919, the Smalls banked a cheque for $1-million, a down-payment on the sale of their theatrical empire. That night, as dusk fell, Ambrose disappeared into the darkness and was never seen again. What happened? Was he murdered? Did he disappear of his own volition? No body was ever found and, as far as anyone can tell, he took none of his money with him. RipleyStyleSummaryAmbrose left behind his wife, his mistress, and his frustrated secretary. The case prompted an international man-hunt that spanned the globe and had renowned psychics of the day hearing voices and seeing visions. There were lurid rumours of infidelity and accounts of suspicious activities by Small’s enemies….so many enemies. The subject of films and TV shows, Canada’s longest running cold-case remains unsolved after 100 years.  20191022_213146 20191022_222941 20191022_223108 20191022_222849 20191022_222931Ambrose Small was famous for his HUGE handlebar mustache so we made sure all the guests had their very own moo-stash on a stick…which worked well for the sing-along during the “Ambrose Small’s Mustache” song. It also provided lots of laughs at the photo wall, too!20191022_223539 20191022_22424020191022_225152If you would like more information about this fascinating real-life unsolved mystery and to purchase a copy of Geordie’s book ($24.95), visit the official website: www.HogtownEmpire.com  The book is also available from Amazon.com or .ca   Geordie also hosts regular Hogtown Empire podcasts, also found on the website.20191022_203116And thanks to the Dominion Pub & Kitchen for the great service, deelish food and frosty drinks. Check them out in person: www.fabrestaurants.ca/restaurant/dominion

 

20191003_143531

OSVALDO “OZZIE” NAPOLI OPENS HIS 2ND SOLO SHOW @ URBAN GALLERY (runs throughout October 2019)

Yesterday, Sat. Oct 5th, multi-media artist Osvaldo Napoli launched his latest solo show E-POQUE at Toronto’s Urban Gallery.  I spoke with Ozzie earlier in the week and he shared his thoughts and inspirations for his current works…

We walked around the gallery together as Ozzie told me the stories behind each piece….20191003_140159 20191003_140226 20191003_140352Across one wall, Ozzie showed me his collection of “smalls” – each incorporating computer & tech salvage into the artwork to tell the story of humanity intersecting with technology.

20191003_140356 20191003_140405 20191003_140636 20191003_140759…and one piece in particular, Ozzie told me, focuses on the issue of cyber-bullying and how technology impacts the young via social media.

Ozzie will be in the gallery every Saturday during October between 3-6pm to meet with art lovers and share his unique perspectives on technology and the human condition.  URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto www.UrbanGallery.caIMG_215420191003_140217 20191003_140242 20191003_140327

20191005_134720

WELCOME TO TORONTO’S FALL “THE BABY SHOW”- EVERYTHING FOR EVERY LITTLE PERSON!

Well wasn’t that a fun time?! Not having kids of my own, I’ve never been around little people for any length of time but today I had a blast with lots of mummies, daddies and adorable tots at The Baby Show currently hosted in the Enercare Centre (Hall B) at Exhibition Place, Toronto. The show runs throughout this weekend – 1 more day left Sunday Oct. 6 – so hurry on down for all sorts of freebies, samples, information on baby’s health, food, furniture, fashions and lots of booths promoting support services for new mums and dads, too. Here’s the show’s Founder Sandy Pedrogao to tell you all about it…

Along with hundreds of families, I wandered around the aisles, meeting some of the vendors and learning so much about 21st century parenthood versus how my mum & dad raised me in the 50’s & 60’s…give the kid a cardboard box, some string and a wooden spoon and voila…there’s your toys, Glenda…haa haa!

Loved these folks (below) from www.babynimbus.com who offer cute onesies and other fun things with doodles and pics from local artists. 20191005_145434I then met the charming couple (pictured below) operating www.thebabymamabox.com a monthly subscription box offering all sorts of samples and goodies delivered to your door. Boxes are customized for various age groups and also offer boxes just for mama herself. Products are hand-picked and mama tested so you’re sure to get the best.20191005_135656Here’s talented baker Walaa Alwan of Fantasy Cookies (yummm) who creates all sorts of delicious and oh-so-pretty cookies for special occasions like baby showers, christenings, baby’s 1st birthday…even engagement parties and wedding favours (get a head start on growing your family)  www.fantasycookieco.com20191005_141259(0) 20191005_141310Just along the aisle from Walaa, I ran into the crafty lady who knits & crochets cute critters for cute kids under the name www.monimon.ca  They are soooo adorable and it reminded me of toys my mum used to knit for my sister and me back in the 60’s – I still have a little penguin she made me….aaaaaw.20191005_141407www.mondobebe.com (below) offered a very elegant booth with luxury furniture and accessories for the most discerning babes. They have stores in Quebec and one a little closer in Mississauga.20191005_135953The Baby Brands Gift Club was a hive of activity as they gave out all sorts of treats, samples and informative brochures and magazines to show attendees. As you can see by the photo below, they were very popular!  Check out all the brand name products they offer at www.babybrandsgiftclub.ca 20191005_141524So I was thrilled (and surprised) that all the wee ones were quiet and I witnessed very few tantrums or crying. I guess the babies picked up on the vibe that this show was just for them! There were samples and contests for parents and lots of booths offering comfortable changing facilities as well as peaceful feeding areas curtained off to provide privacy and calmness.20191005_141138 20191005_145541 20191005_145206Congratulations to Sandy and her publicist Jakki for a successful showcase of all things baby! Follow them on Fcbk: TheBabyShowToronto  as well as Instagram: @TheBabyShows. Watch for announcements for their Spring show here in Toronto.logo

20190920_154954

CRUISING ABOARD THE “LADY MUSKOKA” VIEWING LUXURY WATERFRONT HOMES & COZY FAMILY CABINS

What a restful way to spend a late summer day out in cottage country. Last week I spied an intriguing ad in the Toronto Star promoting lunch cruises (2 3/4 hrs) with convenient coach pick-up in Toronto, courtesy of www.canadiandaytrippers.com  So I decided to join other like-minded folks and enjoy a leisurely trip and a fabulous 3-course luncheon aboard the Lady Muskoka.20190920_131040After about a one and 1/2hr drive north of Toronto, we arrived dockside to find our boat waiting, all decked out with flowers and food, courtesy of the chef from the adjacent Quality Inn. Bus was parked, a quick refresher in the hotel’s loos then off we went.20190920_132300As we chugged along the channel out into the lake, we were served a delicious selection of main courses, with a yummy fresh salad to start; they need to bottle and sell that salad dressing…yum! I chose grilled rainbow trout as my main course and it was…mmmmmm…so good. The mashed potatoes were the best I’d tasted in years! Sorry, no food pics ‘coz all my plates disappeared very quickly…haa haa.  I chose a great seat next to a big open picture window so I was able to snap away as the scenery went by. 20190920_142833 20190920_151243Lunch service completed, guests scurried up the gangway to the top deck to take in the full glory of Lake Muskoka and what a view we had…

The late summer sun was glorious and we all enjoyed the breeze coming off the water.20190920_15302620190920_151842 20190920_152309 20190920_154143After cruising around the vastness of the main lake, our captain guided us through some small channels, visiting the cozy more traditional Canadian cabins…20190920_153720 20190920_16191920190920_162529 20190920_162543Even  Bambi and his mum came out to greet us. I couldn’t believe these deer posed for us without darting back into the wood. I spied them as the boat came round a bend and everyone got their cameras and phones out…snap snap snap. I also alerted fellow sailors to some wild turkeys waddling across one cottage garden, fattening themselves up for Thanksgiving dinner…yummmm!

It was a great way to spend the day visiting all the little islands and fancy-schmancy homes lining the giant lake. Big thank you to the bus driver and Debbie, our guide and hostess-with-the-mostest from Canadian Day Trippers. Their one day get-aways are geared to seniors of all physical abilities (loved seeing all the kindness and care given those a little less physically adept) but everyone became “kids goin’ to camp” with lots of laughter and great conversations. I’ve found my tribe!  Next trip will be on the York-Durham Heritage Railway in late October to view the fall colours throughout the Oakridges Moraine. I cannot wait so why not join me?  www.canadiandaytrippers.com20190920_153159