detroit

One of the best things about visiting Windsor is going to Detroit.  So while on my visit to Windsor, Steve and I went for yet another bit of rust belt city exploration (for more rustiness see my post on Buffalo).  We opted to take a 5 minute tunnel bus from Windsor across the border and were dropped off by downtown Detroit’s riverside.  Our bus driver told us that we were just in time for Detroit’s Downtown Hoedown.  I had no idea what that was but at barely noon there was already a long line up of country hoedowners waiting to get into the festival.  We stopped back at the hoedown for a rest at the end of the day, after having wandered through the gorgeous buildings of downtown Detroit.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some pre-summer festival food; BBQ ribs, and funnel cake.

Detroit skyline from Windsor

Skyline view of Detroit from Windsor. A very city-like landscape in comparison to Windsor's low lying skyline.

Detroit sidewalk

I do have to say that Detroit is beautiful.  Apparently it has even been known as the Paris of the US.  There is some gorgeous architecture, and detail to the old skyscraper buildings.  Promenade-wide sidewalks line the wall of buildings alluding to some past grandiose time in Detroit’s history.  We mainly stuck to Woodward Avenue and it’s neighbouring side streets.   The avenue was once known as one of the premier shopping areas in the US.  In 1925 the intersection of Woodward and State even documented having over a million people crossing in an 18 hour period.  A drastic difference in comparison to the bleak number of people on the streets that day.  Anyone we did see on the street was clearly headed for the hoedown.

Detroit Downtown Synagogue

downtwon Detroit buildings

Detroit

Like Hamilton, I do see a lot of potential for a Detroit urban renaissance.  There’s something fantastic about the already beautifully laid out landscape of this established city.  The downtown building density is ripe for prime urban living, people just have to start moving in.

Detroit clock

decorative, ornate, buildings Detroit

Aretha Franklin, graffitti, Detroit

Peoples Records Detroit

Record store with boxes and boxes of 45's of Detroit soul music.

 

My favourite stop of they day was to the Motown Museum.  A bit out of the way of downtown; we had to catch at taxi.  The cab driver; born and raised in Detroit, had never heard of the “Motown Museum” but when it was concluded we meant the Motown house we were on our way.  The cab driver was awesome and even joined us for the tour.  We had the most captivating tour guide and on several occasions he’d have the whole tour of about 40 people singing, dancing, hand clapping and finger snapping out classic Motown hits.

Motown House, Motown museum, Detroit, motown, hitsville USA

Me as I was just finding out that I had broken the zoom of my camera lens. In front of me is our cab driver taking a photo of Hitsville USA, post tour.

windsor

I went to visit Steve in Windsor, where he was doing a month long artist residency through the University of Windsor.  While visiting, I stayed in Steve’s short-term living accommodations in Sandwich Town (best name for a town ever!).  It is actually a part of the city of Windsor and  boasts some of the oldest buildings in the area.  Sandwich has some big ol’ beautiful houses, and they reminded me a little of what I would imagine grand manors in New Orleans to look like. The entire area of Sandwich Town had a whole different kind of feel to it that made me feel like I was a lot further away from home than just a 3 hour train ride.

Similar to Hamilton, Windsor’s is struggling through its own post-industrial era and as a result parts of the city have most definitely seen better days.  The downtown was pretty quiet and empty, except for an unexpected mid afternoon Sikh parade that had somehow beautifully integrated Scottish bagpipes with some traditional Sikh drumming.  An all together weird and unique experience of  Windsor’s downtown.

Steve Newberry, art, studio, Windsor

Steve’s art studio space in Windsor.  Great light, and so much room!

magnolia in full bloom, Windsor

Being the most southern area of Canada, spring was about two weeks ahead over in Windsor.  Trees were in full bloom.

Ambassador Bridge, Windsor to Detroit

Story goes that a second bridge was in the works to be built right next to the existing Ambassador Bridge to accommodate for the high traffic between Windsor and Detroit.  Houses along the area where the bridge was to be built were bought up, and then everything was put on hold.  The plans for the bridge have been stalled due to some controversial opposition and a law suit against the US and Canadian government from the owner of the Ambassador Bridge; 83 year old Manuel “Matty” Maroun (or as one of our cab drivers called him Matty “Moron”).  As a result the entire street for about 5-6 blocks, where the proposed bridge was to be built has all the houses boarded right up, lowering the property value of neighbouring houses and causing a bit of a fascinating yet eerie eye-sore.  How does this kind of thing happen?

abandoned house, Indian Road, Windsor

abandoned houses, Indian Road, Windsor

We decided to check out the Art Gallery of Windsor on one of the rainier days that I was visiting.  Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of their current exhibitions.  But regardless here a few photos of some of the spaces I was allowed to photograph.

Art Gallery of Windsor, contemporary art

Art Gallery of Windsor, paper cranes, origami

it’s been a while

It has been a while since I’ve visited you blog as it has been a crazy and busy last two weeks.  I will post some pictures soon from my trip to Detroit and Windsor.  But in the mean time here are a couple of shots of the VIA train that I took to Windsor.  I love trains! I wish that trains were more of an accessible and frequently used means of transportation here in Canada.

VIA train to Windsor

VIA train to Windsor

spring greenery train side view

 

another one bites the dust

Former Zig Zag Zebra, at 30 King St. east was taken down to the ground today.

In the short time that I’ve lived in Hamilton I’ve already seen far too many beautiful old buildings torn down.  King St. by Gore Park; the centre of Hamilton’s downtown core is walled by some of my favourite building facades.  The buildings remind of New York, they are 4-5 stories, have huge floor to ceiling windows, and would make amazing lofts, and studio spaces.  I noticed another architectural firm that is housed next to 30 King St. on the 2nd or 3rd floor  -could be a good thing?  When the architects start moving in, which they have been in Hamilton, you know that’s a sign, they’re usually the first ones in on the gentrification scene right after the artists.

30 King St. east, Hamilton

 

The Century Theatre (also known as the Lyric Theatre) was a building I had walked by a million times en route to the Hudson on King St. (currently Club Absynthe) for acid jazz, white russians, and pool, from back in the day.  Nearly a decade later it caught my eye when we were sussing out Hamilton as a potential place to buy a house and I thought of the old Century pretty much as a selling feature.  This old abandoned theatre was living evidence of what was once a prosperous city with a rich arts community (the city in it’s hay day boasted over 6 major theatres  -amazing for a city the size of Hamilton).  To me the building served as a backdrop and muse for the cultural renaissance that I believe Hamilton is in for.  The Century was demolished sometime during the winter of last year.  I’ve even been sentimental enough to take a couple of the “Hamilton” bricks that are left in the rubble pile of the former Century.

century theatre, Hamilton

century theatre, Hamilton

Century theatre, demolition, Hamilton

 

Last summer the old Victorian house around the corner was demoed.  It had been abandoned by it’s owner for years, and had become home to many raccoons and other pesky rodents.  Despite it’s scavenger tenants, I still used to dream about buying the place and restoring it to it’s former glory.  It’s now an empty dirt lot (soon to be brown field) that my neighbours currently use to park their car.

old Victorian house demolition, Hamilton

 

 

field trip!

Tonight is going to be a good art crawl.  I’m sad to be missing it, especially the Field Trip: a spring pop-up shop that the folks from White Elephant have organized at the the old Friendship Gift Shop.

Field Trip: a spring pop-up shop, Friendship Gift Shop, James St. north, Hamilton

A great write up of the Pop-up shop and preview of the art crawl tonight can be found here.  Photo taken from http://hamilton.openfile.ca

 

I’ll be taking my own field trip to Windsor to visit Steve at his artist residency.  Windsor and Detroit, here I come! Stay tuned for more posts from my field trip.

in the ground

The seedlings are in the ground.  We planted a little early (last week), but I had faith that the weather would eventually warm up.  The seedlings seem to be holding up well in the raised beds.  Snow peas are peaking out, and so is the arugula and lettuce.

indoor seedlings

tomato spring plant

cucumber

So far we’ve planted from seedling, roma tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and eggplant.  Straight from seed we planted lettuce, arugula, baby bok choy, goose berries, snow peas, green beans, celery, and Swiss chard.

dropping stitches

Going to my first knit night…

1970's Vintage Knitting Book

1970's Vintage Knitting Book

 

Before heading to my first knit night ever I had to buy some yarn.  When you live in downtown Hamilton with no car any last minute options for yarn purchasing can be limited to mainly The Dollar Store.  Luckily a friend had recently tipped me off to a knit shop that just opened in Westdale called Fireball Knits .  I decided to take a little look.  Although currently their selection of yarn is limited, as the store has just barely opened, the owner, Elizabeth assured me that more wool would be coming in soon.  According to Elizabeth, in addition to selling yarn, Fireball Knits also offers all different sorts of crafty classes such as; yarn dyeing, weaving, drop spindle, spinning wheel, crochet and knitting.  They even sell spinning wheels! I ended up buying two types of yarn, and Elizabeth even pointed to a picture on the wall of the very sheep my yarn came from.

Last week I went to the knit night at The Brain, which has been host to a knit night now for an established amount of Wednesday evenings, (so established that it appears they even received a free plate of Portuguese nata custard tarts!).  There was a good show of knitters -about 15.  A friend taught me a basic stitch and I was well on my way to knitting a monster-green dish cloth.  I’m not going to fool anyone with my novice knitting skills, cast on cast off.

When I used to work as a librarian I saved some books from the discard pile, which I thought might come in handy if I ever decided to take up knitting.  It’s a good place to go for some knitting inspiration.  These pictures are from the book Knitting Techniques and Projects.

retro blue knit sweater and knee high socks

Knit two piece bikini

retro 70's knit picnic

knit argyle scottish knee highs socks

retro knit caps hats

retro 70's knit tunic

*The Brain, 199 James St. north, Hamilton

*Fireball Knits, 777 King St. west, Hamilton

things on shelf

Here are some things that are on the shelf in our bedroom.

Russian Nesting Doll

I picked this up for $1 at a rummage sale at a James St. Baptist Church

Japanese Kokeshi Doll

Ernie Pez dispenser

picnic

Lush green grass, and budding trees, who could resist this lofty patch of greenery?

Steve and I picnicked at Dundurn Park this weekend.  We packed up some fixings from the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, bundled up Steve’s grandma’s quilt, and headed out to enjoy the spring sun.

Dundurn Park, Hamilton, Ontario

Grandmother's quilt

Steve Newberry, Seema Narula

My latest favourite are these sparkling fermented teas from Ercilia’s Fine Food in the Hamilton market.  They are refreshing, bubbly and a little special treat above and beyond your regular tea.  I bet it’d be fantastic in the summer with fresh mint and some clinking ice in a glass.

Kombucha Wonder Drink

Kombucha Wonder Drink, Sparking Fermented Tea

meats, cheese, picnic,

I picked up the cheese from Sam’s Cheese and Meats.  Usually my default cheese is the raspberry cheddar, but for this picnic I opted for a smoked aged cheddar.  It went really well with the spicy fennel salami, roasted pepper, and greens from our Plan B organic food box.

meat, cheese

doors open hamilton

We did some informal Doors Open Hamilton wandering over the weekend.  The Art Gallery of Hamilton had their annual Spring Art Sale, which nicely coincided with doors open -free admission, and we got to check out a great new exhibit.  If you have the time I recommend stopping by the AGH to observe Diane Landry‘s installation Defibrillators -beautiful light, soft sounds, and mechanical operations.

Diane Landry -Flying School, AGH

Diane Landry -Flying School 2000, photo by Mike Lalich

Diane Landry, Defibrillators, AGH

Diane Landry, Defibrillators, photo by Mike Lalich

 

*Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King St. West, Hamilton

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