Pat Blythe – Eyes on the prize….Speak Music….and music

The eyes are windows to the soul. A rather romantic and idealized thought. Whether that’s true or not, at the moment mine are not… least temporarily. No matter how hard we work at it and struggle, our bodies, inside and out, begin to crumble as the years pile on. On the whole, we (as in all of you and me) exercise (okay somewhat), we try and feed our body good stuff (jujubes and chocolate don’t count!), we drink in relative moderation (I’m outta ice cubes and mint again!) and, well, the air we breathe…..that’s out of our control and so is the aging process.

I’m a photographer, a writer and for almost 40 years now, a telecommunications specialist. All three of those professions need eyesight…..really good eyesight. I’ve had glasses perched on my rather Patrician nose for my entire life (minus the seven years when no one realized I couldn’t see without some super serious squinting….I am the queen of squinters). Damn!! That’s where those lines came from!!!! Anyway, thousands of dollars and untold pairs of glasses later, years of the “four eyes” mock and the ever popular “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” chant (they lied) I have segued into the cataract stage. Sigh……(long pause)…………………………………

Photo taken at Cherry Cola’s by Colleen Thornton

Well, there’s actually an upside….a silver lining! For the first time in my life I won’t need glasses to see into the distance…..not the future…..that distant stop sign ahead! My face will be well, naked….buck naked! Exposed! Nude! Uncovered! Undressed! That’s precisely what it feels like when glasses have been a permanent part of one’s wardrobe for….well we won’t get into specific numbers but suffice to say it’s been a looooong time. I will still need those readers everyone perches on the tips of their noses but no more uber expensive lenses and frames and for that I will be forever grateful. My astigmatism in both eyes (once both are done) will also be corrected.A sampling of glasses styles through the years……

So here’s what I’ve learned…….

Although cataract surgery is free (there’s that socialist medical coverage thing we Canuks have) the eye measurements are not ($200 in cash or cheque) which, come to think of it, is very strange considering you can’t have the surgery without your eyeballs getting measured. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing….and never mind they don’t accept Visa. When was the last time you wrote a cheque or carried around large amounts of cash stuffed in an envelope? I digress. Everything else is covered including the standard lenses.

Choose your door…….

Yes, folks, you have choices AND whether you want to see into the distance or up close and personal. Called IOLs (Intraocular Lenses) they are soft, bendy silicone or plastic discs about the size of a small button. They are used to replace the focusing power of the eye’s natural lens. Cataract and old lens out….IOL in. Before IOLs, you needed the standard Coke bottle bottom lenses to see after cataract surgery. There was no lens replacement. I cannot begin to imagine……

So, behind Door Number One is the basic or standard IOL….the one covered by OHIP. This baby is spherical in shape. Not only is the eye’s natural lens aspheric, no two eyeballs or lenses are exactly alike. Although the standard lens is fine for the majority, for those of us who do a lot of night driving, it’s not the optimum solution.

Behind Door Number Two is the “premium aspheric IOLs” called Wavefront. The Wavefront lens more closely resembles the eye’s natural lens shape and provides sharper vision in low light conditions. According the Canadian Ophthalmology Society, “Investigators comparing traditional lenses to Wavefront lenses reported that wavefront-corrected IOLs permit better reaction times than standard IOLs when elderly subjects were tested in a night-driving simulator.”


Next up is Door Number Three and here we have the Toric lens. These guys correct astigmatism and your vision, whether you’re near-sighted or far-sighted. I could never figure either one out so I called it short-sighted.

Door Number Four has a hefty price tag. But if you’re looking for “multi-focal” or “progressive” lenses which, much like my current set of spectacles, allows you to see near and far depending on how you tilt your head or move your eyeball, these baby’s are for you. I’ve heard they can be a challenge to get use to. I’m a good candidate for motion-sickness (a family affliction on the English side) so I took a pass. I didn’t even look at the price tag.

Yep, I’ve gone with Door Number Three and when all is said and done, will be “short-sighted” no more. ….and oh yes…..naked! Walking around fully exposed will take some getting used to. Cost….$580/eyeball. About the same as a new pair of glasses, except, this will be my last pair. Reading glasses……Dollarama here I come! I’m both excited and nervous.

From the website, “Our goal is to create a festival for music lovers and music-makers who are kind, or want to be kind.”

That’s exactly what this small festival was all about…..communication through wonderful music, always remembering to be kind (and thoughtful and courteous). The brainchild of publicist Beverley Kreller, a musician herself, SPEAK MUSIC is a brand new, non-profit, Toronto-based music festival with all net proceeds distributed to a different charity each year.

Beverly Kreller

The festival’s inaugural event was held at the Tranzac Club this past weekend during Toronto’s first blizzard of the year. Sadly I didn’t make it past my front steps on Saturday as I watched cars manoeuvre and slide down Kingston Road while waiting to see if the buses were even running. Although it began on Friday evening, I’m not driving much at night these days, especially with messy roads so Sunday was it!

Julian Taylor & Kim Doolittle

Ken Yoshioka

Tranzac’s three main rooms, the Main Hall, Southern Cross Room and the Tikki Room were busy. With over 50 performers salted about, there was lots of choice. Good crowds with folks still coming through the door well into the late afternoon on Sunday. Volunteers were happily chatting up attendees and Kreller herself was bouncing among the rooms ensuring everything was in place and everyone was enjoying themselves. It was a friendly, cozy, intimate festival and a wonderfully relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening.

Spadina Girl – The Barrel Boys

All the artists donated their time. Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar, Julian Taylor, Chloe Watkinson, Blair Packham, Kim Doolittle, So Long Seven, Chloe Charles, blue grass group The Barrel Boys and so many more as well as workshops and an open jam. Check out the complete list here

l-r – Kyle Kirkpatrick, Nathan Smith, Tim O’Reilly, Ben Wright = The Barrel Boys

I was quite intrigued by a band called So Long Seven. A fascinating, extremely enjoyable, eclectic mashup of violin, guitar, banjo and tabla, they performed original material that captivated the audience and had them calling for more. I’m not sure exactly how to describe So Long Seven except to say they made me happy. Simple but true.

l-r – Tim Posgate, William Lamoureux, Ravi Naimpally – So Long Seven

Tim Posgate

Kekabeka Falls – So Long Seven

Referred to as a “music collective”, each individual performer is a respected musician in his own right. We have William Lamoureux on violin, Tim Posgate on banjo and bass, Neil Hendry on guitar and world-renowned tabla player Ravi Naimpally on…you guessed it….tabla. Humour, remembrance and a deep love of music shine through their performance. Songs about cats (Cairo), a potential renovation (One Day, Bigger Kitchen) and one in particular about frogs (the name of the song escapes me). I wish I had purchased their album Kala Kalo dammit!! New vinyl for my new turntable and perfect for either drifting off with the headphones or dancing around the house.

Ravi Naimpally

Neil Hendry

William Lamoureux

One of my favourite Toronto artists, Julian Taylor, performed with singer/songwriter Kim Doolittle and harmonica player Ken Yoshioka (who also plays a pretty mean blues guitar). Their rendition of Amazing Grace was gorgeous and had everyone swaying and singing.

l-r – Julian Taylor, Kim Doolittle, Ken Yoshioka – Blues Rockin’ Roots

Every possible instrument (well just about) was represented at the festival and it was fantastic to hear and see the melange. Accordion, stand-up bass, banjo, violin, tabla, flute, cajone, ukulele, the usual suspects….an inclusive festival…..all instruments welcome.

Under A Memphis Moon – Kim Doolittle

Back Again – Julian Taylor Band

This year’s charity was the Unison Benevolent Fund. Created by musicians for musicians, Unison offers support and funds to those who require some extra assistance. It’s an excellent cause and one that I, and DBAWIS, wholeheartedly support. To find out more about Unison click here

So the music selection today is rather laser-focused on, yep, eyes. I couldn’t resist. There are sooooooooo many songs sung about eyes. Here’s a sampling.

Green Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf

Temptation Eyes – The Grass Roots

These Eyes – The Guess Who

Ocean Eyes – Billy Eilish

In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel

Behind Blue Eyes – The Who

Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Brown-Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Looking in Your Big Brown Eyes – Inner Circle

Sexy Eyes – Dr. Hook

One of these days my column will actually be about what I was originally going to write about….some day.

All photographs ©2019 Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera unless otherwise noted
The photo of Bevery Kreller is ©Malu Baumgarten


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda Little Red-headed dancing girland the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES  to dance!

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