woman-friendly portrait studio...
turns out Josh and I were not in Stratford alone.
We had a Journeywoman angel to watch over us. Her
name is Irene Miller, a member
of our Journeywoman Network and a wonderful photographer
who lives in the area. When she heard about our
birthday plans she wrote to ask how she might help
in the planning stages. I, in turn, visited Irene's
website and was so impressed with her work that
I immediately commissioned her to 'shoot' a birthday
portrait of Josh in the Stratford costume of his
second floor studio is located in a Victorian (former)
furniture factory on 163 King Street. It's easy
to see that she has had great fun decorating the
premises. Irene loves antique chairs; she's rescued
them from auctions and estate sales then prettied
them up and welcomed them into her elegant Parisian-style
working space. She keeps champagne in her fridge
for clients that come to be photographed in her
Elizabethan and vintage clothing collection. Subjects
like Josh get juice and cookies and the affectionate
company of the building's resident cat. Our relaxed
photo shoot took less than an hour, my grandson
thoroughly enjoyed the process and the fabulous,
finished portraits were delivered to our hotel that
very evening. I'm thinking of coming back with my
girlfriends. All of us preening in vintage wear
for Irene's camera should be a hoot. Tel: 519.271.6500
Sessions by appointment only. Irene's fees are very
has several excellent toy shops that kids will love.
Happily not one of them is a 'big box' store. Their
stock is unique and their service the attentive
friendly sort you might find in a much smaller town.
We toured each one of them looking for just the
right gift to bring home for Josh's younger sister.
& Company (6 Ontario Street) bills
itself as 'Canada's most unusual toy store' and
I agree completely. The fun starts even before you
walk into the shop. Imagine zany 'electric pink'
and 'florescent green' sun umbrellas perched over
board game tables set outside on the sidewalk. Walk
in and you are surrounded by toys, floor to ceiling.
It's hard to know how to start but that's where
one of the 30 toy experts (high school students)
take you in hand, find out what you need and walk
you around to pick your pleasure. Looking for a
magic trick? Family and Company has it's own little
theatre tucked away in a corner where tricks are
performed and explained. Teenage DJ's spin records
and announce 'in store' contests. Staff walks the
floor choosing winners and handing out candy treats.
Grandma made a note to come back all my herself
to do her December holiday shopping. Website: http://www.familyandcompany.com/
Soup (119 Ontario Street) is the perfect
little spot for gifts that both young boys and grownup
men will appreciate. It's owned by a cool guy who
loves unusual things and he'll happily explain 'stuff'
to the youngsters that are interested. Josh loved
the t-shirts that change color in the sun, the blog
lava lamps, all the brain twisters and the survival
whistle a young explorer can wear around his neck
($1.99). Yes, grandma bought him one.
Holiday Store (10 Downie Street) is huge
and filled with a sense of celebration and wonder.
As you walk in the door Christmas displays and decorations
are front and center. What fun to shop in August
and see a huge Santa at the entrance and Father
Christmas in amongst the displays. The toy department
is filled to overflowing and includes one of the
largest selections of board games I've ever seen.
For those who are Monopoly fans, there are countless
unusual versions available. The staff is polite
and best of all, some of the games and puzzles are
left open ready for young minds and eager hands
swans are just five minutes away...
kept one of the most famous Stratford activities
for last -- feeding the swans who swim just a five
minute walk from Ontario Street. Stratford's first
swans were released onto the Avon river in August
1918. Of course since then the swan population has
grown considerably. Several of the swans are even
considered royalty -- descendants of Queen Elizabeth
II's royal herd. I imagine that almost anybody,
young or old who visits Stratford walks (or in Josh's
case, runs) beside the picturesque Avon river to
see these famous swans and to feed them. Josh and
I just loved the experience and I named my grandson
the Pied Piper of Stratford because he dropped kernels
of corn as he moved and the hungry ducks and swans
formed a long line behind him picking the path clean.
soon our birthday celebration drew to a close. At Pizza
Pizza we feasted on pepperoni topped slices and
mystery purple pop in a bottle (don't tell his mom) and
headed for the train station. Josh slept most of the way
home. He may have been tuckered out but he was definitely
a happy little boy.
A week later a copy of The Stratford Gazette
came by mail. In it was an
interview Josh and I did with journalist, Tori Sutton
about our 'fun filled' stay in Stratford. I smiled and sent
it off to my girlfriends.
words on grandmothers...
loved her home. Everything smelled older, worn but
safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the firniture.'
(Susan Strasberg, 1980)
home without a grandmother is like an egg without
(Florence King, 1989)
a flower, a flower opening and reaching for the
sun. You are the sun, grandma, you are the sun in
(Kitty Tsui, 1983)
was a kind of first-aid station, or a Red Cross
nurse, who took up where the battle ended, accepting
us and our little sobbing sins, gathering the whole
of us into her lap, restoring us to health and confidence
by her amazing faith in life and in a mortal's strength
to meet it.'
(Lillian Smith, 1984)