I did a little road trip to Detroit this weekend with friends from Flint. Hit up the downtown core including The Heidelberg Project, Belle Isle (which had a fantastic glass conservatory bursting with plant growth), did a loop on The People Mover, explored the local Historical Museum; a museum piece itself with cheery placards from more optimistic days-gone-by.
Detroit has all the glory of an older city with a surprising amount of art deco architecture still remaining. Recently I've been working through William Dendy's Lost Toronto, a book detailing outstanding architecture from Toronto's past that no longer stands. Detroit seems to have retained much of the period styles of architecture that Toronto lost - is this due to the fact that the former's economic decline started from the outset of the 50's, during a collection of decades when outdated buildings were pulled down to make way for modern (mostly) blandness? Despite its present condition and lack of economy present, Detroit's an interesting city, and one worth checking out.
Saturday evening we made our way to Ann Arbor's University of Michigan campus (beautiful, by the way) for a show at a local bar. Ann Arbor seems to have a similar vibe to Toronto, only on a smaller scale, and this is rather appealing. Did some crowd sketching, which included the perennial demographic of local hipsters and a fantastic dancer. Enjoy!
I came across this great tree in a front yard on Cecil St. a few weeks ago; it was gnarled and twisted and had so much character. Pleasantly situated across the road was an outdoor gym 'parkette' thing - genius. I'll translate the scrawled quote above as the penmanship's a bit dodgy:
If you are relatively happy with your life, if you enjoy spending
time with your children, playing with them and talking with them; if you
like nature, if you enjoy sitting in your yard or on your front steps,
if your sexual life is relatively happy, if you have a peaceful sense of
who you are and are stabilized in your relationships, if you like to
pray in solitude, if you just like talking to people, visiting them,
spending time in conversation with them, if you enjoy living simply, if
you sense no need to compete with your friends or neighbors--what good
are you economically in terms of our system?
You haven't spent a nickel
However if you are unhappy and distressed, if you are living in
anxiety and confusion, if you are unsure of yourself and your
relationships, if you find no happiness in your family or sex life, if
you can't bear being alone or living simply--you will crave much. You
will want more.
This past weekend I participated in a bread-making workshop in connection with U of T's Wine Before Breakfast community. A question that came up during the bread-making was 'What is your story of bread?', which is one I haven't dwelt on before. Amidst all the other stuff that goes on in life, bread isn't generally something that occupies my thoughts.
My first answer was recounting bread as remembered from grade-school days and the role it played there. The holy grail of bread in that setting was Dempster's White Bread (no crusts if you were picky like that) - which was not what we packed in our lunches. Dempster's brown bread ruled supreme in our house, coupled with the menu options of cheese & meat, honey & peanut butter, or peanut butter & jam - make sure there's butter on it first - and the crusts and loaf ends ('pluskes' we called them) were all fair game. I ate a sandwich every day in my lunch in grade school with the exception of 'pizza day' and 'hot dog day'. It got pretty boring by the end. Sometime later, possibly when I was in high school, my mom received a bread-maker for Christmas and after that the house was filled with tall, square loaves of whole wheat, white, cheese, and raisin breads (with very tough crusts), homemade pizza, and best of all, cinnamon buns, the last of which were often saved for special occasions like Christmas or Easter morning.
So that was my first answer.
But my second answer, which wasn't recalled at the time, is from my second year of living in Toronto after graduating, hunting for sustainable work and trying to make ends meet. Marcia, a chaplain from Wine Before Breakfast and its companion community Graduate Christian Fellowship, would urge me to take any leftover bread from those weekly events, and this helped enormously in making meals stretch throughout the week.
I've since found my footing but immensely appreciate the simple act of nourishing generosity demonstrated there.