Pandemic Pursuits

‘Equilibrium’ a mural by Okuda San Miguel

Thank you to all the readers who wrote me personal notes encouraging me to continue with my blog. It was heart warming reading your comments and made me realize that in these times, people appreciate glimpses into other lives and welcome distractions.

I had hoped for a more social time this January but my life is no different than it was a year ago. I have coffee in bed while catching up on the day’s news on my phone and then do a brief session of meditation followed by my exercise routine based on a variety of exercises picked up over the years. It includes stretching, a few yoga postures, lifting light weights and some cardio exercises. It’s not very strenuous I must say but it keeps me reasonably fit. I’ve been keeping up with my Italian by taking some online courses and one of the concepts presented to me was the use of ‘dead time’ to improve one’s language skills. That is to say, listening to the language while engaged in something else that doesn’t require much thought so while doing my exercises, I listen to the news and podcasts in Italian. Of course, having already read the news in English, it’s not hard to follow in Italian and it’s a great way to improve one’s vocabulary. So if any of you are trying to learn a language, I advocate it.

I live in a small apt. on the 40th floor of a building and though I have a large balcony with a wonderful view, I feel a need to go out for a walk everyday regardless of the weather to prevent myself feeling trapped indoors. One of my routes takes me past the building at the top on the south west corner of College and Jarvis Streets. It is a 24 storey student residence and the mural is by a Spanish street artist, Okuda San Miguel, the tallest mural he has ever done. At the very top is a Pride flag as the building is close to the gay village of Toronto. Immediately below is a winged figure with a bird and flowers in reference to the Allen Gardens which it overlooks. The gray faces in the trio of faces, represent wisdom and history while the brightly coloured central indigenous face represents research and innovation. The multi-patterned figures holding a globe represent cultural diversity and at the very bottom is an exploding star, Kaos which is Okuda’s signature geometric shape . It is a glorious piece of work even on a dull gray day like the one on which I took the photo. StreetARToronto (StART) is an innovative program started about 10 years ago in the city in an attempt to reduce graffitti and vandalism replacing it with vibrant and colourful community-engaged street art. The mural above was partly funded through this project.

My daily walks have introduced me to several beautiful murals which I never would have come across otherwise. The one of the woman holding the staff of Aesculapius, the god of healing in Greek and Roman mythology, was done last year by a group called The Dreamers on the side of the Pembroke Inn as an ode to Healthcare workers at the height of the pandemic, who sadly are still exhausted and run off their feet. Unfortunately, the artists are not always mentioned so I can’t tell you anything about the mural in the middle. However, it makes me happy when I see it! Another of my pursuits is some volunteer work I have taken on but more about that in my next.

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