Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back in Stratford, Ontario

We are comfortably installed in Looking Glass House, our favorite B&B in Stratford, Ontario. The link is the the Canadian B&B site, but Looking Glass House has it's own website. I just can't find it quickly enough here. I like to book directly from Jean, to save her paying extra fees to booking agencies.

So why are we here again?
(Wow, the colors here remind me of the T-shirt
I bought at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN last year.)
Martin, who has been working non-stop this past year, except for 5 days off in June to go to the Publisher's Invitational 'Paint the Adirondacks' event, needed a vacation. I encouraged him to ask for time off or the year would end, and he'd never get it. He chose to come back to Stratford and the Shakespeare Festival, which we both enjoy tremendously.

We drove up yesterday, but our day started with a 7:30am trip to our trainer, Charlie. What a great guy he is. Charlie is our second trainer, the first being the infamous Brad, who kicked our bodies for at least six months before moving on to become a fireman. Brad had some great sayings, like "Pain is our friend. When no one else around, pain is still with us." And one day when he was five minutes late, he said, "I am late, so you will be punished!" Brad was quiet, but effective, and we loved him. It was hard to think how we would adjust to another trainer, but Charlie has won our hearts.

Charlie has an Masters in Nutrition and Fitness from Ohio University, and for his young years, he has had some major health issues involving surgery and several reconstructive surgeries. He is more outgoing than Brad, just aquired a cat (named Bentley), and at times I come away from the workout feeling that he wasn't too hard on us. Then later our friend, Pain, shows up; but, not as often as before. So Charlie is either easier on us, or we are in better condition.

Header image for homepage
The Topiary Park, Columbus OH.
The creation of sculptor James Mason
fashionged after Georges Seurat's painting.
After the workout, we drove into Columbus, OH, where I have been teaching a 7-week class in plein air painting. The class met in the Deaf School Park. I copied the above photo from the website. After painting for 4 weeks (3 of them in the rain with students sequestered under the new Main Street Bridge), the promise of a sunny day had me wanting to get the students out to a location where they could work with green and strong light and shadow. Everyone was thrilled to get into this park and work with amorphic shapes rather than the hard-edged city.

Once class was over, Martin and I stopped at the two large art supply houses in the area. The first was Utrecht, not far from the park. I bought one panel for painting, just 4 x 4". I need to paint some miniatures for two different shows. For one of the shows, the painting and frame can't be larger than 40 sq. in. This is even small for me! I needed more panels, so we stopped at Blick Art Supply on the way out of the city, and two of my students were there shopping.

They were looking for palette knives and asked which was the closest to what I use, the Lowe-Cornell J-2. Blick doesn't sell that brand, but we found the Blick #57 to be about the same. I was happy to learn that as well. And after lunch next door, we hit the road for the 6 hour drive to Stratford.

As the crow flies, Stratford is straight north of Columbus, but we drove to Toledo, Detroit, crossed the border at Port Huron, and then over dark, dark, roads of southern Ontario, to arrive in Stratford around 9:00 PM. We went straight to Bentley's. Martin had a Steak and Mushroom Pie, just to get in touch with his roots. He'd have liked a Steak and Kidney, but . . .

I went straight to bed, and we were both awakened at 7:00 AM by an alarm in another room. He got up to turn it off, but said the door was locked. He just hadn't turned the handle far enough.

Breakfast was a wonderful plate of apple pancakes and Canadian bacon with real maple syrup. Fresh fruit, carrot and nut muffins, butter, yogurt, orange juice, and coffe and tea. Been a while since I'd eaten some of this stuff, but it is always great. Jean delights her clients each morning with a delicious breakfast, and that why Martin loves this place. Jean also always has the written versions of all the plays that the Festival is presenting that season. Although there is a TV and CD player, we don't bother to turn them on. We read, and now, she has this wireless connection, so I don't have to drag my laptop to Balzac's Coffee.

Now, I'll just take a leisurely stroll to Balzac's for a large cafe au lait!

Today at 2:00 PM we see Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was written between 1599 and 1608, for Queen Elizabeth I. Quoting from Norrie Epsteins's Friendly Shakespeare, "Twelth Night is named for a holiday, about love and grief, their pains and their pleasures, and how the two emotions are often indistinguishable. Twelfth Night is festive, but it also skirts madness, dispair, sexual ambiguity and cruelty."

It also has one of my favorite characters, Malvolio!!! Quoting David Jones, "Malvolio's final cry of 'I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you!' casts an even longer shadow over the play as it is going to have its answer 40 years down the line when the Puritans come to power in England and every theatre in London is shut down."

Here is a link to quotes from the play. During this same period he wrote Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Othello, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra. WOW!!!!!

I'm sure that Olive Oil would say,
"Shakespeare, what a man, what a man."

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