So my dear friend recently pointed out that the previously shared logo must be a remnant from another time. It could not possibly have been designed in the past 10-15 years. And she was right! It turns out the logo and trademark “cover the earth” was first introduced by Sherwin Williams in 1905. It’s over 100 years old! So I guess there might be some sort of sentimental attachment to the logo. If only they kept it as authentic and harmlessly naive as it was in its original concept…there’s some kind of charm in those old school graphics.

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My yuppy sightings and Starbucks dramas have been lacking recently (probably because I’m now working rather than staring aimlessly out the living room window, alas). But Sunday morning made up for it, we got to witness the ultimate in yuppy impatience: a jittery coffee addict with a parking ticket.

It was about 9:30 am when Mr. Tweed jacket illegally parked his silver SUV in the usual spot, between the driveway to the alley and the side door to Starbucks. Usually these quick coffee park and runs go unnoticed (other than the pissed off truck driver blocked in the driveway, and the neighbours woken up his thundering horn). But today Mr. Tweed would not be so lucky: the parking officer was doing his rounds. After going in to get his morning fix, he returned to his vehicle and stopped suddenly upon finding a ticket on his windshield. Swelling with anger, his brown button coat began to burst open; he stormed back inside and pulled out an innocent young barista. Waving the ticket in her face he yelled on and on about how she personally cost him $50, “this coffee cost me 50 bucks! Why didn’t you warn me? Where’s the sign?” She quickly and casually responded by pointing upwards to the No-parking sign on the lamp-post. Meanwhile another Starbucks goer had just finished parking in the still illegal spot next to Mr. Tweed, and was heading into the coffee shop completely carefree of the scene taking place. Mr. Tweed continued to get louder, and headed back inside to find the Manager… desperate for someone who would listen to his temper tantrum.

Just as it got quiet, the parking officer conveniently sauntered out of the alley, pen and paper in hand. He wandered up to the newly parked vehicle and left a ticket on his windshield too. Mr. Tweed returned and took off in a wild rage, nearly slamming into oncoming traffic. The second customer came back out to his car and took up the ticket like it was an everyday affair… as if it were an extra charge for convenience. The parking officer was still around, handing out tickets, when a third customer pulled in. The officer turned him around explaining that this was a no-parking zone. The Van pulled out, disappeared until the officer was out of sight, then returned to the same spot.

All in all, the officer hit a jackpot for his monthly quota. Watch out yuppies…you can bet he’ll be back.

Streetcar Shorts

March 22, 2010

Riding the street car everyday, despite its relaxing and carefree nature, is generally anything but uplifting. It seems to bring out the worst in people: their selfish need to steal a seat, their ignorance towards those who need that seat more than they do, their herd mentality, and their apparent deafness that requires them to play their i-pod at some obnoxious volume. But, there is the odd time that I’m privileged to witness a truly heartfelt moment…

The other night Dave and I were boarding the streetcar on Queen Street around Leslieville. After having had a few drinks at a nearby Irish pub, I took the steps up somewhat…lets say…sloppily. Off falls one shoe, bouncing down the steps towards the closing doors. I sheepishly yelp towards the driver, “wait! my shoe….” The car goes silent and the driver holds the door as Dave climbs back down and retrieves the lonely black slipper. I stand awkwardly on one foot, center stage, awaiting my shoe. When Dave puts it before me I look up to a car full of truly concerned passengers. One hipster sitting in the second row grins and says, “I guess you found your prince charming!” How true…

It seems there are a few instances that can shake the everyday streetcar rider from their oblivious routine, igniting a shared sense of concern; I guess the potential loss of a pointy toed black flat is one of them.

One brisk day in January we went antique shopping in Hamilton, where by the way the prices are infinitely cheaper than Toronto. In our travels we found an awesome set of Pyrex bowls, one clunky metal lunch box (that we didn’t end up buying), a quirky yellow blown glass vase, and a “porceliron” kitchen table. Deciding that the table was classic and absolutely awesome (and a sweet deal) we swiped it up and took it away in the back seat of the car. After setting it up in our new apartment, I decided to climb under the table and do some research. And there was the stamp… “porceliron, sole manufacturer of porceliron, co. Frankfort, Indiana”. After some internet research, I dated my piece of wartime propaganda back to pre-1920.

When the US joined the war in 1917, Herbert Hoover became the head of the U.S. Food Administration and began to implement his campaign to conserve food. “Hooverizing” inspired new and old ways of providing food, recipes, and an overall outlook on the modern kitchen. The campaign encouraged vegetable gardens, and cutting back on meat. It boasted the slogan, “Food will win the War,” suggesting that housewives could make the difference right here at home. Today we might call a similar movement vegetarianism, but that would have been a terrifying term for a nation that prided itself in meat. So … the creative bunch ended up with delightful sounding recipes such as:

Mock Ham

from Helen Moore's 1918 cookbook titled, "Camouflage Cookery; a book of mock dishes"

Now, the table is related to this believe it or not. Food storage and efficient home cooking inspired kitchens that were resourceful, well stocked, compact workstations for the thrifty housewife. And out of New Castle, Indiana emerged the “Hoosier Cabinet”. It was an all-in-one storage and workstation that swept a nation of wartime homes. As it developed, the manufacturers went through a series of trial  countertops for the workstation. They started with wood; then seeking something more sanitary and durable, opted for zinc; and upon it being pronounced poisonous, joined forces with our beloved manufacturer out of Frankfort, Indiana. Porceliron is made of porceline enameled steel, and began to dominate the marketplace for not only Hoosier Cabinets, but kitchen tables and counters too. The tables were all the same; 4 square legs, a drawer on one side, and raised top edges to keep spills off the floor.

In a March 28, 1918 issue of “The Pittsburgh Press”, a porceliron topped table was selling for $4.98, an absolute steal sandwiched between ads for $5.00 “Smartly Trimmed Spring Hats” and “Sampeck” clothes for boys from $6.50 to $20.00. I’d say my $50.00 find was a bit of a rip off! “Over the Kitchen Table passes the family food and here if anywhere is the place for Sanitary Cleanliness”. Well spoken!

So here it is, our little piece of wartime history, bringing out the inner frugal cook in me…

LIGHTS! (cue dim and clouded daylight)

CAMERA! (cue snoopy unemployed neighbor in 4th floor window)

ACTION! (cue illegally parked yuppy in shiny silver Audi)

Out climbs yuppy #1 in a charcoal grey trench coat, hitting his automatic lock and heading for the door. He disappears into the dimly lit, all glass coffee shop. Yuppy #2 pulls up in an equally shiny silver Mazda and parks illegally next to yuppy #1, simultaneously setting off his car alarm. He runs out of the Starbucks to shut off the wailing alarm, then waits for the lady (who coincidentally scored herself a doorman by parking too close to his car). They retreat into Starbucks together. Approaching from the North, pedestrian yuppy #3 (a more respectable class of yuppy who visits Starbucks because it’s walking distance from home) leaves her two yippy Chihuahuas tied to the street lamp and goes inside. They continue to yelp in that high-pitched tone until she reappears in the window and opens up her laptop. As she settles into her morning email correspondence, her yippy dogs settle down too.

A shiny silver van pulls up and the back door opens. Out jump two teenage yuppies in puffy fur-lined jackets, slamming the door behind them. They throw their hoods up to protect their just “did” hair from the snow (for the 3 foot run to the entrance). Inside, yuppy #1 and #2 sit down at the table next to the lady with the laptop. Looks like yuppy #1 scored a morning coffee date with his suave and gentleman like demeanor.

The door opens and out come the teenagers, overpriced lattes in hand. The hoods go up and they head for the street car, 1st period algebra on the horizon. (exit yuppy teenagers, suspiciously without backpacks)

And for the finale… (cue delivery truck approaching from the alley behind the shop). The driver lays on the horn as he pulls up to the illegally parked Mazda that is blocking the alley. The horn is loud enough to wake up any over-sleeping apartment dweller within a three block radius. Yuppy #2 comes tearing out of the Starbucks, leaving her jacket and coffee behind. Note: yuppy #2 could not see the angry truck driver from her window seat, but she was well aware of who he was honking at.

The yippy dogs go nuts, barking and jumping at the delivery truck. If they could only just get a little more leash, surely together they could take out that monster of a vehicle. As yuppy #2 violently backs up her Mazda, she sets off the alarm again… out runs yuppy #1, holding the door for yuppy #3 who is coming out to calm her babies.

The truck grunts and bellows, screeching as it’s let free from the alley.

Exit yuppy #1, alarm now ceased, back into Starbucks to finish his coffee.

Exit yuppy #2, off to find a new parking space down the street (or possibly just doing a round then coming back to re-park in the alley entrance)

Exit yuppy #3, after retrieving her laptop and untying her dogs, she turns and continues south.

Moving Day

February 5, 2010

I have become a veteran of “moving day”. This is not to say that I’ve aquired particular skills in efficient packing or the lifting of heavy objects. Rather, I’d say it’s the opposite where every time I move I leave more behind, more to the last minute, and more flung loosely in the back seat of the car. If you consider lazy moving a skill…then I’ve mastered it.

I’ve been witness to all the kinds of moving I can think of: the traditional brown box, big truck, big deal move; the questionably illogical drive a U-Haul across Canada for school move; the overseas, whatever you can fit in your suitcase move; and most recently the 4th floor, no elevator, do-it-yourself move.

 And here I find myself, knee-deep in boxes and bags…trying to sort through the mess that is “lazy moving”. The real catcher is the combination of my lazy moving with my partner in packing crime’s, let’s call it… speed moving tactic. Here I am sloppily flinging unfolded clothes into grocery bags, while Dave is one step ahead, sweeping up half-empty bags and packing them in the truck like a Tetrus puzzle (not to be tempered with for fear of death). He and his brothers have been known to pack a mean trunk, the kind where you’re not sure if removing one box would cause them all to come toppling, or if it’s so tight that friction would keep it together. It’s a bit like Jenga… but nobody laughs when the game’s over.

 Here’s an inconvenient truth: the majority of the storage in our new place is in the kitchen (where the minority of our stuff belongs). We have empty kitchen cabinets, and books strewn across the living room floor. We are in desperate need of a ladle, but have nowhere to set up two laptops, two hard-drives, and two desk lamps. Does this say something about us?

 All of this being said, lazy moving has inspired some creative storage tactics for our new place…