Wedding Bells Will Ring

There are a handful of events in a child’s life that can make a parent giddy with anticipation.  Marriage is one of them.

As the days tick down to son #1’s wedding in June, that’s exactly how I’m feeling, so please indulge me while I give you a sneak peek into what’s ahead.  In case you missed my post about their engagement, you can read about it here.

A few weeks ago, Gilles and I visited the wedding venue for the first time, and attended the menu sampling for the event.

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1871 Berkeley Church – now a special event venue

The Berkeley Church is a heritage building with a history dating back to 1871, but it is now a special event venue.  The church itself is much too large to host our event, but its companion building across the small courtyard to the right – the Berkeley Field House – is perfect.

Once upon a time, I might have been dismayed by this rustic and eclectic venue, but over the past few years, I’ve explored enough of Toronto’s heritage buildings to have developed a boundless love for these old beauties.

I was thrilled to discover it provided many wonderful doors that added to its unique character.

Berkeley Field House

The doorway off the courtyard with a doorknob that is about knee height.

I had forgotten my camera at home, so I had to rely on my new iPhone for all these photos.

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The same door from the inside

The Field House is non-descript from the outside – in fact with the grand old church dominating the corner – we didn’t even notice it was there. However, the inside of the building, and it’s accompanying courtyard where the ceremony will take place, is charming.

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On this bitterly cold afternoon in the fading light, we had to use our imaginations to visualize the garden in spring bloom – with its tall mature trees, small creek, and 2-storey treehouse.

Of course Jordan and Dempsey had seen it when it wasn’t buried under a layer of snow and ice.  We’ve been assured it is a whimsical oasis in the heart of the city.

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One thing I do know for sure, the food will be amazing – a tall order when the guest list includes those who are either vegan or celiac.

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The doors that lead to the kitchen – where magic will happen!

As the wedding details start to trickle out, it’s becoming more real to me.  The vibe of this facility matches the “elegantly casual” event that Jordan and Dempsey are planning.

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I am already visualizing the gathering of our family and friends to celebrate this special day – the music, the laughter, and above all, the love and joy that comes with a wedding.

I can hardly wait.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

Posted in Around Toronto, Family, Photo Challenges, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 88 Comments

Saved By Lightning

This week I’m featuring another tiny church – this time back in Athens.  It’s located on Philopappos Hill facing the Acropolis, and everything about this church seems full of contradictions … even the spelling of its name.

While the sign outside clearly calls it Ayios Demetrios Loubardiaris, Google searches result in other variations … the most common being Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris.

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Some sources say its history dates back to the 9th century, others say the 12th.  Some indicate that “loubardiaris” refers to “cannon”, others say “bombardier”.

No matter how you slice it, this is an interesting little structure wrapped in a legend that tells of a miracle.

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The miracle dates back to approximately 1658 – or maybe not, depending on the source of the story.

The one thing that is clear in all the stories is that there was an attempt to blow up the church, and the people seeking refuge inside it, using a cannon from the top of the Acropolis.

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From the title of this post, you can probably guess what happened.

Lightning struck the gunner, or the Commander, or the gunpowder shed, perhaps all 3 of them … depending on what story you read.  At any rate, he, or them, were killed and the church was saved.

IT WAS A MIRACLE! – or so the legend says – and it was thus named “Church of the Cannon“, or something like that.  If I’m being vague I’m blaming it on the various storytellers.

I guess that’s to be expected after 350ish years and various translations from Greek.  Everyone’s familiar with the game of whispering a phrase from person to person around a room.  It doesn’t take long for the sentence to morph wildly from the original.

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Behind the red curtain was a small dark closet-like room with a prayer altar.  

A major restoration of the church occurred in the 1950s that uncovered illustrations going back to the 16th century.

I don’t know how old the doors are, but they were unusual enough to capture my attention before we moved on.

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This tiny church and its surrounding courtyard was a quiet, cool oasis after a hot and sweaty climb up the hill.  I’m not surprised it has become a popular place for weddings.  It seems like a good omen to start off your married life on the site of a reported miracle.

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This post has been brought to you by Thursday Doors – a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t include a photo of one of the outside walls.  I’m reasonably confident this is a relatively new addition, but I love the texture and detail design.

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Posted in history, Photo Challenges, Things I Like, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 75 Comments

Church of the Redeemer

There is a tiny church on Bloor St in downtown Toronto, dwarfed by the high-rises around it.  My attention is always drawn to it whenever I’m in the area, and yet I don’t know why exactly it’s held such appeal to me over the years. Perhaps because it’s an anachronism at this bustling city intersection.

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When I first moved to Toronto out of university, I had a large client in this area and passed by this church every day in the cold of winter.  It seemed fitting that it was on a cold winter day that I finally answered the call of this heritage building and stopped in to visit.

Up until now, I didn’t even know its name – The Church of the Redeemer.

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The original church didn’t have the 3 doors we see today.  In this old photo from 1885, evidence of the church’s rural beginnings are apparent, as well as its single front door.  I don’t know when the entrance was eventually changed.

Church of the redeemer - 1885

From tayloronhistory.com

I was surprised by how small the church was on the inside.  Only after my visit did I learn that the back portion of the building had been sold many years ago.

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What touched my heart in this simple and unpretentious church were the plaques that lined the walls, of soldiers from the congregation who had fallen during the 2 World Wars.

WWI casualties lined one side of the church, with WWII casualties on the other.

These two wars have now been consigned to the history books, and yet these plaques seemed to be shouting out to me.  I’ve seen plaques like these in other old churches, but  that day I was deeply moved by them.

Two plaques, hung side-by-side, and I assume they were brothers.  I appreciate that this has been a scenario planned out over and over through war after war, but it is a loss no parent should have to endure.

We pay them homage to remember their loss.

There were only 2 of us in the church that day.  A woman sat unmoving in the back row staring straight ahead of her, seemingly oblivious to me.  She contributed to the heavy, sad mood that seemed to permeate the building.

Long shadows were cast on the floor from the sunlight streaming through the door windows.  To the side in the small aisle, a shovel and bucket of road salt stood ready for the next snowfall.

While I stood quietly in this oasis of solitary contemplation, the busy city traffic continued to whiz by.

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It’s interesting how a building can impart a mood.  On this particular day, I had been feeling light and happy – having just been dismissed unexpectedly from jury duty – but the Church of the Redeemer was a melancholy place.

I did not linger long.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

 

 

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Take Me To The Chapel

Several weeks ago another blogger, Rebel Girl, introduced me to a book called Top 150 Unusual Things to See in Ontario by Ron Brown.

I’ve been seduced in the past by the promise of similarly titled books, only to be disappointed by their mediocre content, but I was willing to give it a look.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.

Even if I  never planned to actually visit any of these places, the book was an interesting read.  However, the accountant in me needed to know how many of them I had already visited, and more importantly, what was out there in my home province that I needed to put on my must-see list!

In answer to the first question, I’ve already been to 19 of the 150 places and things in the book.  Most of them I have blogged about at some point.  In fact, the West Montrose “Kissing Bridge” which I wrote about here is on the book’s cover.

However, there was one item in the book (#89 to be exact) that captured my attention because it was right in my own backyard – so to speak – and I had no idea it existed.  It was a particular rock formation on the Scarborough Bluffs which geologists have named The Dutch Chapel.

Now, I’ve taken literally hundreds of photos of the Bluffs over the past couple of years, and I have never seen anything that remotely resembled the photo in the book.

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Nope – this isn’t it.  I need to be looking further west.

Intrigued, I HAD to check it out – but it wasn’t easy.

As some background, I think most people are familiar with the famous Toronto skyline … flattish, lots of glass and concrete …

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I admit not my best photo.

… but what you might not know is that at the far east end of the city, about 18 km (11 miles) from downtown, are the Scarborough Bluffs.  It is a limestone escarpment about 15 km (9 miles) long, and at its highest point, it rises about 90 metres (300 feet) above the shoreline.

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I love the Bluffs.  They are the closest thing to “mountains” in this area, and they have been a frequent backdrop in a lot of my local exploration.

… but pillars of stone?

After much trial and error – in the bitter cold – I finally found a view point from the top of the escarpment that overlooked the apparently famous pillars.  Unfortunately, because of the instability of the cliff, access to the edge of the Bluff is completely fenced off – often from several metres away.  Signs every few metres warn of the danger.

Dutch Cathedral

In addition, I don’t have a zoom lens for my camera, and this was the best view I could get of the Dutch Chapel … absolutely nothing like the spectacular photo in the book.

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I went back home discouraged and half-frozen.

Armed with a new plan, I returned the next day, this time to approach the pillars from the bottom.

I don’t think my view of the Dutch Chapel improved by being at the bottom of the escarpment, and I’m still puzzling over the thought that this resembles the architecture found in medieval European chapels.  Personally, I don’t get it.

… and except for the spikes on top, I wouldn’t exactly call these ‘pillars’.  Perhaps the problem is that without being close enough, the perspective on size is completely lost.

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I did however, discover there is a small beach at the base of this rock formation that I never knew existed.  Perhaps I’ll get a better view in much warmer weather when I can actually access the beach without the risk of getting soaked in icy water – like the unfortunate stranger who attempted it ahead of me.

In the end, I got tantalizingly close, but was frustrated by my lack of a zoom.  Guess what piece of camera equipment is now on my wish list?

Jan 2018 3

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If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what the difference is between a cliff and a bluff.  Well, according to Mr Google, a bluff IS a cliff, but with a broad, curved face usually caused by erosion, and found along a river.

While a cliff has a steep vertical drop, bluffs have more of a slanted slope. That slope may be quite steep, but not as sharp as a cliff.

I learn something new every day.

 

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , | 90 Comments

Just Horsing Around

Although I still have many Greek doors waiting in my photo library for their turn in the spotlight, I’m taking a detour today.

The doors I’m featuring in this post may be rather simple and unremarkable, but the place where they are located is not.  That place is Awesome Acres.

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Awesome Acres is a horse farm owned by a friend, and former work colleague, I’ve known for 20 years. Recently I went to visit her and see the newest additions to her farm – 2 miniature horses.  The friendly little mares join the 4 regal Freisians Cathy already had in her stable.

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One of the newest additions, Caly.  This miniature is in foal, expecting an even tinier miniature in April.  According to Wikipedia, when that little one is born, it will be about the size of my 20 lb cat.

Since her retirement a number of years ago, Cathy has taken her love of horses and developed it into a not-for-profit business providing therapeutic riding for children and adults with disabilities.

Awesome Acres is an accredited centre with the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association.

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The stall door in the background is so much shorter than the door in the foreground because it is for the miniatures.

Therapeutic riding provides many benefits, including development of balance and coordination, improving muscle strength and concentration, and helping to build self-confidence and a sense of achievement …. not to mention that some people just find it easier to connect with an animal than with another human being.

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The barn is a place of wonder for a non-horsey person like me with all its saddles, straps, and whatnots.  The little flap at the bottom of the door is for the barn cats.  This is a heated room where their food and beds are located.  I’m thinking it would be comical to watch my Theo trying to squeeze in that opening.

The last year had been a rough one for Cathy – losing 2 of her horses, including her much-loved miniature, Gilligan.  He was popular, particularly among the children, providing rides in a little cart he would pull around the large paddock.

Adding the 2 new mares to her stable has been a huge boost for her, although Gilligan’s name still graces the door of the stall.

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Welcome to Jeana, the 2nd newest addition to Cathy’s family.

I could fill this post with endless photos of Cathy’s very friendly and photogenic horses …

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yes, that would be nice.  We are very pretty.

… but this post is supposed to be about doors, so I’ll end with the stable entrance – intended for humans.

Cathy's farm

This post has been brought to you by Thursday Doors, a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

Posted in Friends, Photo Challenges, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , | 98 Comments

Changing Seasons – Year 4

I’m back for a 4th year of Changing Seasons – a monthly blogging event that celebrates the changes in our world throughout the year.

Depending on where you live, weather certainly can play a huge part in those changes, but so do all the other activities going on in our day-to-day lives – obstacles, victories, or simple survival.

Thank you to Max at Cardinal Guzman for giving this feature life for the past 3 years, and to Su Leslie at Zimmerbitch for picking up the torch from Max.  Perhaps this year you’ll consider joining in too.  You may discover a texture or pattern to your months that you never knew existed.

For many of us, the weather has been THE big event this month, dominating a lot of blogging space.   In my corner of the world, January has been a roller coaster ride of frigid cold, followed by a teasing melt, and then back to Arctic conditions.

It hasn’t been a pleasant month for outdoor activities.

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A walk down at Bluffers Park on a “mild” day.  The cold wind off the lake made picture taking unpleasant.

Perhaps it was just as well that I had a busy month of obligations that often kept me house bound, but in spite of that, I still managed to brave the cold on more than a few occasions.

The following photos are some of my winter time adventures this month.

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Ice skating in the snow at City Hall on New Year’s Day.

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Out for a walk in a local park to blow off some mental cobwebs, and – to my delight – encountering 5 deer in a clearing.

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I’ve passed this giant Inukshuk dozens of times in warmer weather, riding my bike along the lakeshore.  Only a steaming cup of hot chocolate made up for this bitterly cold walk.

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Helen and I managed only 1 trip out on the TransCanada Trail this month, and it was a ‘character builder’.  In this case, it took a couple of shots of fireball whiskey to bring back our good humour.

I haven’t played with the colour on these photos.  Life really has been a landscape of white with flat greys and browns, even on the sunniest of days.  Any spot of colour discovered in this monotony would jump out, begging for a photo.

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Cycling will remain a dream until much warmer weather returns.

I’ve had a full month making new memories, and the month isn’t even over yet.

Later this week I’ll be reporting for jury duty.  Either January will end in mind-numbing boredom as I kill time in the pool of potential jurors, or it will be an interesting blog-worthy experience. Who knows?

In the meantime, winter is here to stay for a couple more months, and Theo says to let him sleep until spring.

Theo

 

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Adventure, Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, The Changing Seasons, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , , , | 88 Comments

What’s For Dinner?

This is a rather unusual post for me, so I’m providing fair warning that its content may not be appreciated by everyone.

The scene for this story is the fish and meat market in Plaka – a neighbourhood in Athens built in a part of the ancient city that is said to have been continuously inhabited since … well, forever.  I’m talking about hundreds of centuries in the BC here.

I consider myself a reasonably well-travelled person, and I live in a large multi-cultural city, but I’ve never seen a market quite like this one.

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Gilles visited Athens on a short work related trip about 20 years ago, and besides the Acropolis, his strongest memory of the city was this particular market. To his delight, it was still there and everything he remembered it to be.

He was like a little kid in a candy shop – ooo’ing and ahhh’ing over the displays.

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Picture a huge cavernous barn-like structure, noisy and teeming with people.  The air was damp and cool from the long rows of ice-packed displays containing the largest variety of fishies and other “thingies” that I’ve ever seen.

The floors were wet and slippery from the melting ice, but that rank fishy odour characteristic of fish markets was surprising mild.  I gave a small prayer of thanks to the god of good ventilation.

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While Gilles was busy negotiating some fish purchases, I tried to escape the fish market and landed in the meat market.

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It was a new kind of horror.

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This butcher’s daughter shouldn’t have been squeamish, but it wasn’t long before I lost my appetite for anything that originally had eyes.  Be grateful that I spared you the images of cow tongues and veiny bull testicles.

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Oh?  You are looking for a door?  …. not to escape, but because it’s Thursday?

Of course … sorry, for making you wait.

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The cooler door in one of the meat stalls. Well? What were you expecting?

Tonight for dinner, it’s a vegetable stir-fry … and please don’t tell me carrots can cry.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

Posted in Adventure, New Things, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 143 Comments

Making Connections

Early last year I was rather out of sorts.

My husband still works full-time, and no one in my small circle of friends was available for weeks, even for just a cup of coffee.  During the winter months I tend to spend too much time indoors to begin with, and now I was spending more time alone than I wanted.

Inspired by Bridget at the Non-Smoking Ladybug, I began to seek out like-minded groups in my area, and ended up joining one called The Seniors For Nature Outdoor Club.  They are a non-profit organization run by volunteers with the purpose of keeping seniors physically active.

At first I was uncertain that this was going to be a good fit.  I’m not particularly comfortable meeting new people, especially in groups where everyone seems to know everyone else, and I don’t make new friends easily.

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Hiking on the Oak Ridges Moraine near Eaton Hall – Dec 2017

My life philosophy is supposed to be about reaching beyond my comfort zone, so I persevered, even though I would much rather have sat at home moping about how bored I was.

I have a high need “to belong” and decided that the best way to embed myself in a new group was to dive in head first.  As a newbie member, with only a month under my belt, I boldly approached the President of the Club and asked if there might be a role for me.

Timing can be everything, because they had an urgent need for a new Secretary on their Board.  I shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘why not?’ (actually there were many reasons ‘why not?’, but I chose to ignore all of them).

As a result, over the past year I’ve been busy.  Sometimes too busy – this is a very active group.  Their calendar of activities is full, and constantly growing with new outings scheduled on a regular basis.

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Cycling to Frenchman’s Bay – June 2017

I’ve been out hiking and cycling with them on numerous occasions.  They inspired me to learn how to kayak last spring, and put on skates for the first time in 30 years.  At the rate I’m going, it will likely be cross-country skiing next.

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Only 3 of us braved the -20C temperatures to go skating on Jan 2nd. btw – I don’t know how to skate. It’s been an adventure!

This energetic group of both men and women are redefining ‘old’.  These seniors are not moulding away quietly in a comfortable chair.  They travel extensively on multi-day hiking, canoeing, or cycling trips, and our 80-year-old President went downhill skiing last winter for the first time.

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Learning to kayak on the Grand River – July 2017

The secretarial role has turned out to be much larger than I expected, but it has made the monthly meetings much easier for me.  In a group with almost 200 members, I’m constantly meeting new people, but this formal role has given me a purpose for attending these general meetings … meetings for which I would likely have found a reason not to go.  Did I mention the part about needing to belong?

The more time I spend with these people, the more I like them.  I’m slowly starting to think of these strangers as friends, and the best kind of friend – the kind who inspire.

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April 2017 – Humber Bay Park

Sometimes I feel like a slacker in comparison, but if this is the new version of senior-ism, I’m all in.

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Attitude, Friends, inspiration, New Things | Tagged , , , , , , | 125 Comments

New Year, New Doors

For the last several years, I’ve had a shoe calendar on my fridge door.  I’m old-school. I like the visual of a large paper calendar in the busiest room in the house.

This year however, I decided it was time to make a change.  Replacing the edgy shoes are now images of beautiful doors with a thought provoking quote.  This month opens with a quote attributed to John Barrymore:

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.

That is my wish for all of you in 2018 … that happiness sneaks into your life and fills your world with boundless joy all year.

Now to the part about the doors.

Today I offer you a selection of miscellaneous doors found on the island of Hydra in Greece.  Even Gilles, who doesn’t share my enthusiasm for doors, began to comment on the sheer number of interesting doorways we encountered on this island (but I have a theory that door-mania is contagious).

These doors trigger happy memories for me – the least of which were warmer temperatures than the deep freeze we have endured the past few weeks.

Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.  I hope you enjoy.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.  If you love doors, this is a place for you to visit – or contribute your own favourite finds. Everyone is welcome.

 

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Wrapping It All Up

It’s been a frenetic month and I’m in a full out sprint to the finish line.

The month, the year, and Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons are all coming to an end.  The word is that Su Leslie at Zimmerbitch is picking up the challenge, so I’m not as sad as I might otherwise be.

This has been one of those crazy months where I thought maybe I wouldn’t have very many photos to work with for the month-end wrap-up.  I was wrong.

I managed to squeeze in a hike at the beginning of the month with the Seniors Club I joined earlier this year.  It looked like we would be primed for a white Christmas.

However, then a big melt rolled in just before the first day of winter and all our snow disappeared.

For months I had planned a ‘campfire’ in the backyard for December 21st , and on that first day of winter, the mild temperatures ended.  It was cold. Gilles would have said it was very cold, but with alcohol in hand, we braved the temperatures.

At least our martinis stayed cold.

Then the snow returned and even colder temperatures.  That deep freeze has locked in place and we haven’t shaken it since.  Since I can’t show you cold, I’ll give you more snow.

1st day of winter snow

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I can’t talk about December and leave out Christmas.  It was the usual frantic rush to shop, clean, cook, followed by eating, drinking, laughing … and even more cleaning.

In a few more days, all the lights and decorations will be packed away for another year.  I’ll miss them … at least until the days start to get longer again and the world doesn’t feel so dark.

But the best part of December has been being surrounded by those I love.

Christmas was a house full of family and friends.  Full of their laughter, voices in conversation, and very rarely … quiet.  As exhausting as it was, I loved it all.  That too I will miss as everyone resumes their hectic lives.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year, and thank you for joining me each month for my version of Changing Seasons.

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Because of Max’s beautiful photos of Oslo, I was inspired to visit his city in 2015.  Max was our gracious host for 3 hours as we toured his city with him.

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Christmas 2016

I have great memories of both this trip, and the 36 months of this photo challenge.

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Christmas 2015

Thank you, Max, for 3 great years of Changing Seasons!!

 

Posted in Family, Memories, Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, The Changing Seasons, Things I Like | Tagged , , , | 134 Comments