Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for April 2008

Recycling the City!

leave a comment »

Recycling may be good for the planet but it makes the city ugly. It’s a blight of visual pollution – a blight on its soul.

I just spent a couple of days in my old hometown – Toronto – and two things struck me…the garbage and the noise. But more about the latter, later.

Let’s start with the former.

Toronto streets and sidewalks are littered with city-mandated containers for the storage and disposal of the detritus of a Torontonian’s daily life. Boxes and bins, small, medium, large and industrial size clutters the curbs. Some of these blue, black, green, gray receptacles are filled to overflowing, spilling their unwanted waste out on and all over the neighbourhood. The piles grow bigger with the addition garbage bags, cardboard and boxes that don’t fit in the city provided containers, plus the old faithful plastic or galvanized garbage can. The raccoons must love it.

There’s a protocol to the position of the bins. They must be lined up close to the curb; specific distances apart so trucks, with specialized apparatus, can lift them, dump the contents and place them back on the sidewalk. Which, in theory, is a good idea. Except pickup happens during the morning commute and doesn’t account for parked cars. You can imagine what this does to narrow inner city streets. At least the ensuing tie-ups give the radio traffic reporters something to talk about.

Once emptied, the receptacles just sit or lie around. Usually until someone gets home form work. And it seems that the citizenry can’t be bothered to hide these bins. It helps if you have a garage. But in the older parts of Toronto they’re stashed on porches, side driveways, in the narrow spaces between row houses. Some of the bigger bins just sit on the front lawn. Smaller apartment buildings just leave them out front so tenants can fill them at will. In the trendy parts of town, the million dollar monster homes with their fancy landscaping aren’t exempt either.

Nobody seems to know what to do with these things. They’re soiled. They smell. They’re not pretty. They tell us this is what we must do to save the planet and keep the city from going further into debt. That’s all well and good. But garbage is garbage, no matter how you package it. And, like I said, it’s an ugly mark on the soul of the city.

In my simple part of the world, this hasn’t happened…yet

We have the regular blue and green recycling boxes.  We will be paying $1.50 per bag to a maximum of two bags per household, come June. If we have cardboard we take it to the landfill site (town dump). Any other household junk we load into our vehicles and haul it over a scale. We get charged. But it is convenient. The Boy Scouts have a giant composting site next door so anything organic and natural gets taken care of.

There were two sites. One closed recently. It was full. So, the other was expanded to handle the refuse of both towns. Surely a sign of things to come.

A short drive into the country will reveal homes with large lots littered with used up, rusted out cars, trucks, farm equipment, appliances plus sofas and easy chairs well past their ‘best-before-dates.’ Call it rural recycling.

So, cities, towns, counties, none of us are blameless. In ancient times they threw their garbage in the streets. We line ours up on the curb or leave it on the lawn.

I guess you can say our attempt to save our world is littered with good intentions.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 30, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Posted in thoughts

Laz and the Southampton Art Gallery

leave a comment »

Oliphorist Tree Bird – Visionary Award Winner

After Laz and Michelle became a couple, they knew their future together was somewhere far from Toronto.

Laz (or Larry) is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design. Scholarships and awards easily came his way in recognition of his talents.

As an Art Director he spent 13 years in the ad game in a couple of Toronto’s high profile advertising agencies. My son was his long-time partner and the other half of a creative team that won numerous national and international awards for their work. They were young, prolific, with a strong reputation in the Toronto ad scene.

Michelle spent a decade in the spa business. She learned how to do it all. From esthetics to massage techniques to aromatherapy she became an expert in the natural, holistic, approach to health and well being, as well as creating her own custom-made body products.

Eventually, they found their way to the North Bruce – to a new home and a new outlook. They left their big city life style behind and brought their talent and dreams with them determined to put them to good use in their own way and on their own terms.

Larry and Michelle found a home in the Oliphant/Wiarton area.

He opened LASARUSI STUDIOS and she opened MIRTH and life began anew.

Laz is indulging in his first love now. He says his work reflects his new surroundings. He describes his art as, “a mosaic of modern, traditional, impressionist and graphic elements working together in a unique way to express his perceptions and experience of the environment and the new world around him.” Laz, clearly hasn’t forgotten ‘adspeak.’

But dreams can become a happy reality. Michelle’s business is thriving. And Laz has emerged as a creative force to watch.

This past Friday (April 11), Laz presented his recent artworks at the Southampton Gallery as part of the 6th Annual ‘Feast for the Eyes’ juried exhibition for emerging artists in the greater Peninsula area. Not only was he asked to represent the event in a live interview on radio 98:TheBeach, he was also honoured with the jury’s Visionary Award, chosen from over 150 submissions. The Southampton Art Gallery presented an impressive display of local talent that night. It was good to see that Laz was a key part of it all.

Penninsula People

Now he’s looking forward to becoming a bigger part of the Southampton Gallery and Art School and is getting ready for the upcoming Shoreline Artists tour of artist’s studios June 21-22 and their annual art show in August.

Breaking into the Toronto art scene was not something Laz wanted. Finding a place and time of his own was. Ambition has its rewards when it takes a new direction.


•You can reach Lazarus Ioannou of ‘Lazarusi Studios’ at 519-534-5346 or email at for a home-studio tour or information regarding his art or design.

•Michelle at “Mirth Body and Beauty” can be reached at the same number. Email:


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 15, 2008 at 9:25 PM

Posted in Home Town

Southampton Spring

leave a comment »

These are the days we look forward to.

         When the work crews take down the snow fences on the beach. When they rake up the winter drift and leave it piled along the shoreline. When the lake ice melts out and the fishing trawlers come into the harbour from Port Elgin while their cousins sit dockside in their cradles waiting their turn.

         A few fishermen are casting off the bank or out trolling on the river. Some snow still sits in the bush, but it will soon disappear. The rain has seen to that. It has washed down the streets and widened ditches, creeks and streams flooding farmland and creeping up to the edge of the road. Returning ducks and geese are happy about their temporary wetlands. Migrating birds crowd the feeders. Robins scoot along the still soggy grass looking for worms. The crows are gathering loudly and stealing what they can for their nests.

         The town sends out their big brooms to suck up the winter sand from the streets. Can’t-wait-gardeners are sweeping the thatch from their lawns and moving mulch from their flowerbeds.

         Southampton is getting ready for a spring greening and preening itself to make way for summer…and the summer people.

         Some of them are here already. You can see them on weekends in their expensive vehicles – on their cell phones. Soon enough the sound of traffic on Highway 21 will be loud enough to break the winter silence that always settles on Southampton. The streets, usually empty by 4:30 PM, will be packed with pedestrians, cars, bikes and dog walkers.

         Locals will have to line up with the tourists to get into the bakery on High Street. Restaurants are already opening earlier and staying open longer. The shutters are coming off the cottages and summer homes. And the sunsets linger longer.

         Sleepy Southampton is waking up, shaking off its winter doldrums and getting ready for an exciting 150th anniversary summer. It should be quite a party.

         And, by the time its over we should be ready to hibernate…again.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 8, 2008 at 9:43 PM

Posted in Home Town