open doors

One of my family’s annual rituals is to take part in Doors Open, an event that takes place across the province of Ontario every year between April and October. In Ottawa, it always happens on the first weekend in June. This year, doors were opened to the public in more than 100 locations.

There are participants in every corner of the city and for a few kilometres outside it. In past years my family has visited, among other places, the water treatment facility, the Ismaili Imamat (home of the Agha Khan in Canada), the traffic control centre, the City of Ottawa Archives, a mosque, the Diefenbunker (named after Prime Minister Diefenbaker, the Diefenbunker was meant to protect the Canadian government from nuclear attack. It’s now a cold war museum) and Canadian Space Services (a former NATO Satellite site).

This year, we went to three places.

Our first stop was The Mayfair Theatre.

Built in 1932 in the depths of the Great Depression, the Mayfair Theatre is one of Ottawa’s last two neighborhood cinemas, and one of the oldest surviving independent movie houses in all of Canada. It has the distinction of never having been owned by, or affiliated with, any of the major cinema chains.

The Mayfair is a gorgeous old building, full of interesting architectural details. We got to see everything up close, find out what’s behind the theatre’s balconies (answer: “nothing”) and find out the history of the creatures who are permanently perched on them (one is a costume worn in the movie Alien and the other, that looks like Elvis, is actually a villain from the Karate Kid). The best part was going into the original projection room, with all it’s film reels and projectors, side by side with “Christie” the new digital machine.

Daniel, my 10 year old, had what seemed like a hundred questions for the very patient theatre manager. After a while, I went to sit in the theatre itself, content to sit quietly and soak up the atmostphere (and enjoy the very modern air conditioning. It was hot out!). Before left, I was able to fish my umbrella out of the theatre’s lost and found (it had been left there by my film buff older son), ending the visit on yet another positive note.

After the theatre, we got in the car and drove to Rogers TV, where we had a tour of the studio and audio, video and editing suites. The tour ended on-set where visitors could use cameras set up around the set and pretend to be interviewed on stage. I was struck by how friendly and enthusiastic all the staff and volunteers were. One of the station’s on air hosts had a giant cooler and was giving out popscicles and ice cream sandwiches. I think some of the parents were a bit nervous about sticky fingers on expensive cameras but the staff all seemed very laid back.

daniel on tv

My sister snapped this shot of Daniel on camera.

Our last stop was at the OC Transpo Industrial Garage. I was the least enthusiastic about this visit but it may have been the one I liked best – perhaps because Daniel loved it so much. There were buses from the 1950s, through to the most modern double decker, a Para Transit bus (kids could sit in a wheel chair and feel what it’s like to be lifted inside) and various maintenance and emergency vehicles. There was even a bus with a bike rack, so we could figure out how to put a bike on the front of a bus (next year, it would be great to have a bike handy to get some hands-on experience). Daniel was determined to try every vehicle and we think he achieved that goal.

daniel drives the bys

Daniel “driving” an OC Transpo bus.

There were Doors Open volunteers everywhere but also OC Transpo staff, standing among the vehicles and inside the buildings, ready to answer questions.

Our favourite part was a mini-tour of the maintenance facility in a double decker bus. Our guide was funny, interesting and frank. He took a few good-humoured jabs at management but he was clearly proud of his work, as were all the staff working that day. The tour ended with a drive through the bus wash – a big hit with all the kids and adults.

This kind of event is the very best kind of public relations and probably a good morale booster for those involved. I can’t help wondering if there is some place in Ottawa about which I feel passionate enough to help with Doors Open next year.


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Prize-winning Frivolity



Hopping up onto stage
In front of a packed theatre of Big Lebowski fans
Dancing a wee solo dance of nervousness
And eventually taking third place for my costume.


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more light

By Peter H Reynolds.

Found via

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When Frivolity Fails: A cautionary tale.

I spend a lot of energy taming my over-reactive survival instinct.
Nudging myself away from security. In the direction of what-the-hell.

In the case of Acro-Yoga, my instinct was bang on.

  Base: Counter-balancing my inverted partner.
Dismount: lowered her to the ground, safe and sound.
  Base: Tada!-style.
Dismount: dropped full-force onto my head.

I’m still feeling some effects of this terrifying ordeal, one month later. And I’m feeling extremely grateful to have survived with brain, skull, spine and spinal cord in tact.

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let’s sing together at Gil’s Hootenanny

I’m not usually one to let anyone hear my singing voice but I have completely embraced this event, happening in honour of the late Gil Levine.

Despite the fact that I’ve been told since I was young that I can’t carry a tune, I love to be in the middle of a room of voices raised in song. It feels to me like being embraced. Usually, I start with mouthing the words and get braver as the event continues.

This May Day, I’ll sing right along with everyone else, in memory of a wonderful activist and lover of music. If you live in the Ottawa area, come join us at Gil’s Hootenanny in singing “Songs of Protest and Hope” on May 1st.



Gil’s Hootenanny, an evening of “Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope”: May 1st at the Glebe Community Centre


Ottawa activist Gil Levine loved folk music, especially when friends came together to sing. Every year since his death in 2009, Gil’s Hootenanny has honoured his memory and, as Gil was a staunch union activist, it is most appropriate that we gather on May Day to sing songs of protest and hope.


This year, Kristine St-Pierre, Mighty Popo, Three Little Birds, the Shout Sister choir, Maria Dunn, and Terry Tufts will bring us together in song. The Hootenanny is hosted by the Spirit of Rasputin’s Arts Society and is sponsored by CUPE and PSAC National Capital Region. All funds raised once the artists and expenses are paid will go to Spirit of Rasputin’s programming
throughout the year.


Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm at the Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Avenue.

Come sing with us and bring your friends.


Tickets are $10 each (kids 16 and under are free) and are available at the Ottawa Folklore Centre or on-line at




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the essence of frivolity


This video encompasses the concept of what it is we’re trying to do with this site. A woman knits hundreds of sweaters with no purpose in mind, storing them all in her house. Years later, hundreds of people come together to wear each of her sweaters and pay tribute to her in the most spectacular of ways.

Sometimes we need to do something not because it’s good for us or because we ought to but because it’s fun. And because it will put a smile on our face and on the faces of people around us.

And the thing is, sometimes when we take a chance and take the time to do something frivolous, we end up happier. We find out more about ourselves. We like ourselves more. It ends up being good for us, even though that was never our main goal.

Kind of ironic, no?

Life can be funny that way.


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to live by

From my friend Lene:

“Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: it’s good to be silly at the right moment.” – Horace

Posted in Musing |

Bingo Reading Challenge

I love talking about books almost as much as I love reading them. And it’s in my nature to keep lists of everything, including the books I’ve read.

So it makes sense that the Bingo Reading Challenge (a Random House project) would capture my imagination. Not only am I working at filling my bingo grid, I’ve started a Facebook group to talk about the books we’re reading (for the challenge or not). Want to join us? Let me know and I’d be happy to add you.

Not on Facebook? Then feel free download the bingo card and add your comments here. Most importantly, let’s get reading and talk about it. The publishing industry certainly needs our support and – more to the point – reading is fun!


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Episode 6: Making Things

Laurie shares plans to take on her inner critic and to play creatively in 2013.



(for audio, click below)

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Epsom Salt Bath…. Check!

Who said it couldn’t be done? I’m loving my ToFriv Checklist.

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