Feeling a Little Blue … and Yellow

I started this post a few weeks ago, but it just never got any real traction.  Today I’m dusting it off and trying again.

I chose these photos for Thursday Doors because of the much needed splash of colour they were providing.

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I grew up in a yellow wood house – later covered with aluminum siding – and I think that’s why I seem to have a natural attraction to yellow houses.  Although these doors are rather ordinary by themselves, the total package is attractive to my eye.

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I could find nothing about the history of this heritage building, but obviously it’s seen several reincarnations

The blue roof on the above house is so striking with the yellow.  Carrying forward the theme of blue trim takes me to a heritage building from 1891.

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Main entrance – I love the detail on the centre post

I like the rounded features that complement this building … from the gentle arch on top of the door and windows, to the small overhang over the front step, and the wrap of the two hand railings down the stairs.

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The side entrance complements the main entrance around the corner

For a last splash of colour, this building always makes me smile.  Its boring utilitarian door is more than made up for by its baby turret.

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

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When Love Surprises

Earlier today I exchanged comments with Diana at Myths Of The Mirror and Bridget at The Happy Quitter about our life partners who are … shall we say … somewhat less than romantic.

I had described my husband of 33 years as Mr Practical, not someone inclined to indulge in *shock and awe* tactics on this day of romantic love.

I’ve been reflecting on this comment throughout the day and I’ve decided that in fairness to Gilles, I really should have called him Mr Unpredictable.  Just when I think I have this guy figured out, and I know exactly what he’s going to do and say, he does something so COMPLETELY out of character that I’m dumbstruck.

One of those instances occurred on Valentine’s Day about a dozen years ago.

A typical Valentine’s Day for us is pretty low key … an exchange of cards, perhaps lunch together … but this particular day was going to be over-the-top.

Our receptionist at work had been busy all morning handling deliveries of Valentine flowers, however shortly before noon, something very unusual arrived for me.

Just to be clear … NOTHING had ever arrived for me at work on Valentine’s Day during my entire career.

I wasn’t in my office, so the receptionist called my assistant (yes, I had both an office and an assistant …. I really miss having an assistant) who brought my *gift* to the office where I was still in a meeting.

There was a knock at the door and when I opened it, I was greeted by the smiling faces of a Barbership Quartet in the hallway.  I was handed a single long-stem red rose, and they then proceeded to serenade me with a trio of love songs.

In a busy office with over a hundred people, you can imagine the crowd that gathered at this unusual spectacle … including the spectacle of me dissolving into a tearful, pathetic mess.

Gilles earned HUGE points for that one and status as Husband-Of-The-Year from every woman in the office.

Needless to say, Mr Practical has never done anything like that since.

I like to think he’s just waiting until I least expect it …

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2008

 

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It’s A Struggle

For the past couple of days I’ve been browsing through my photo library looking for inspiration for a story.  Anything.

… but I’ve been coming up with nothing.  What do you do when the most creative thing you can come up with is … well, …. nothing?

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Reykjavik, 2015

I’m willing to acknowledge that February tends to be like that for me.  It’s cold, winter has been dragging along, and the weather is often unpleasant for getting outside for some fresh inspiration.

In Canada, during the month of February, everyday life can feel like a heavy burden – literally.  Gloves, scarfs, heavy coats and boots … and that’s just to put the garbage out. This week I had to put ice grippers on my boots to navigate the driveway to get the garbage cans to the street for pickup.

It’s enough to make even a hearty soul want to hibernate or pack up for warmer climes.

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Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida – Jan 2017

I regret I never learned to ski … or skate.  It’s almost a sacrilege for a true-born Canadian to admit to. Perhaps if I had, winter wouldn’t feel so long.

Just before Christmas, I desperately wanted to get a pair of skates.  For weeks it was all I could think about … but I knew that was just the broken collarbone speaking out of boredom.

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Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida – Jan 2017

So instead of embracing skating … and the likelihood of a new injury,  I spin for endless kilometers on my bike in my basement, going nowhere.

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Copenhagen – August 2015

… dreaming of spring.

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Toronto – Lake Ontario – February 2017

 

 

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Back In The Fast Lane

I mentioned back in October that I had taken a part-time job, but I hadn’t mentioned what exactly I was going to be doing.

I’m working as a data privacy consultant … as in, that person who writes those internet privacy policies you never read.  In most organizations it usually falls under the purview of legal, but not always … and I’m a case in point.

Although I can work from home, I decided at the beginning of the year to start a new habit of going downtown into the office once a week. The idea was that I would be more likely to hear about new projects and issues that might have a privacy impact and so far, it’s been working great.

I know you’re sitting on the edge of your seat just dying to know more {sarcasm intended}, but as you can guess, I had an ulterior motive in deciding to work downtown.

In the dead of winter, it would give me a reason to get out of the house and take advantage of being in the downtown core to visit some of its heritage buildings.

At a high-level glance, Toronto is a city of high-rise towers, but snuggled in between those towers, are wonderful relics of the past that could be completely overlooked amid the mountains of glass and steel.

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Former Toronto Stock Exchange built in 1937.  It now houses the Design Museum.

In spite of the punishingly cold winds over the past month, I’ve strolled the streets at lunchtime to snag a photo or two. Ok – maybe “strolled” isn’t exactly the best word since I have been practically half-running to prevent frost-bite.

I’m really enjoying the energy of being in the heart of the financial district again.  I haven’t worked downtown since my 20s when I started my career fresh out of university. It’s changed a lot.

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The Dominion Public Building was built in the early 1930s and is primarily occupied by the Canada Revenue Agency.  It is not an optical illusion – the building really is curved. The Canadian government recently put the building up for sale.  Interested?

All the above-ground parking lots have long disappeared as more towers have sprouted in their place.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but the traffic is heavier and even certain subway stations lack familiarity after undergoing renovations.

I no longer understand the labyrinth of underground paths, and after getting lost on several occasions, I have resorted to staying above ground in spite of the cold.

In my 20s, I rarely explored outside the immediate area I needed to know and now, over 30 years later, I’m discovering unexplored treasures …. like the Hockey Hall of Fame.

True, it wasn’t housed at this location way back then, but this old Bank of Montreal building from 1886 has been there all along.

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A few months ago when I featured Brookfield Place on a Thursday Doors post, I mentioned that there were 12 heritage buildings incorporated into the Brookfield office complex.

This former bank building is another one of those old structures that was swallowed into the massive complex.

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An interesting piece of trivia is that this building is one of several in the city reported to have ghost sightings.  The resident haunter is the late Dorothy Mae Elliot.  It is believed that she was despondent over a lost love and that she was killed herself on the second floor of the bank in 1953.

If you like ghost stories, you can read more about it here.

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I think I might need to add a Toronto ghost tour to my ever growing list of things to do.  I continue to be amazed at the things I discover in my own city.

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Doors As Art

I was going to park this post in respect for the message written today by Norm Frampton on Thursday Doors … until I got to the end.  So, as requested, this post is intended to highlight a little more of the beauty in the world rather than its ugliness.

Please go read Norm’s message today.

We’re surrounded by doors in our environment – exterior doors, inner doors, office doors, doors everywhere – but they’re often ignored by us as functional objects that simply provide privacy, security, or comfort from the elements.

That pretty well sums up my reaction to the doors I saw on my short trip to Florida … functional, not particularly note-worthy.  Sorry Florida, it’s nothing personal.

At least that was my opinion until we visited the vast John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.

The history behind this museum is rocky … a private collection left to the State of Florida in 1936, a long legal battle with creditors of the Estate, neglect and mismanagement, and finally put under the stewardship of the Florida State University in 2000.

It is now the State Art Museum of Florida.

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John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – photo from ringling.org

Not only is this museum massive in size and impressive in presentation, but I discovered it is an extraordinary place to visit if you love doors.

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We had time to visit only a small part of the building and it seemed that every door I saw was wonderfully different from all the others.

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Doesn’t this door look oddly sized for the space it occupies?

So. Many. Doors!

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… and given the chance, I would return to this museum in a heartbeat to see what other door treasures were in the rest of building I didn’t get to see.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by our Supreme Door Master, Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

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Posted in Photo Challenges, photography, Random Stuff, Things I Like, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 89 Comments

Panic In A Pasture

Earlier today I had a conversation with Ally Bean, via the comments section of her blog post on The Spectacled Bean, about an encounter between some cows and a turtle.  Spoiler Alert – the turtle was a total badass.

This inspired me to share a story of my own which involves a herd of cows while I was hiking the Bruce Trail in 2013 with my good friend, Helen.  For the tiny handful of people who followed my original blog, this story will look very familiar.  The incident happened when we had completed approximately 80% of this 900 km trek.

I should mention that on this particular day we were about half way through a 21km hike on a hot day through terrain that looked mostly like this:

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and this …

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I had stopped worrying that it was going to eventually happen …. and then it did.

We got lost.

First, let me say that getting lost was the single biggest concern I had (not counting snakes) in undertaking this adventure to hike the entire Bruce Trail.  The thought of being lost strikes terror in my heart.

Helen and I have ‘agreed to disagree’ on what constitutes ‘being lost’.  To me, being lost means you aren’t where you are supposed to be, and you don’t really know where you are.

Just because there is a road ‘close by’, it doesn’t mean it is going to be easy to get to that road, that you will know confidently what road it is, or which direction you should now take.  We were lost.

After several hours of plodding through a particularly difficult section of rocky forest, we approached a stile leading into a farmer’s pasture with a sign that warned there might be a bull in the field and to use caution.

We decided to move forward anyway … mistake #1.

Upon crossing the stile into the field, we realized there wasn’t a trail blaze in sight, so we decided to proceed anyway and follow what appeared to be “the path” … mistake #2.

After following this path for some time and still not seeing a trail blaze, we continued ahead in the belief it would eventually take us to where we wanted to be … mistake #3.

Then I noticed that things were about to get much worse.  Behind us was a herd of cows stampeding excitedly in our direction.  I’m not sure, but I think my heart might have stopped for a moment at this point.

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I resisted the urge to break out into a sprint (apparently running is not a good idea since it excites cows even more), and I scurried as quickly as I could to the nearest fence with Helen shouting behind me ‘they’re only cows’.

To my horror, when we got to the fence, we discovered that it was an electric fence – quite common on farms in this area.

At this point, I should note that people have different thresholds for stress.  I admit that my stress bucket tends to be rather small and, at that point, it was overflowing.

If not being able to find a trail blaze had been agitating me earlier, being sandwiched between cows thundering towards us, and an electric fence, now threw me into a full-blown anxiety attack.

In my mind, I had to make a choice between a close encounter with many very large excited animals, or the electric fence.  I chose the fence.

To my extreme relief, it was not electrified and a rather calm, and somewhat amused, Helen followed me.

I mentally apologized to the people whose property we had to trespass to get the nearby road (by the way, their pool area was stunning!).

On the road, we then had to figure out where we had likely ended up and which direction to go in.  It took a while, but I eventually stopped hyperventilating and could find humour in the mishap.

I took a lot of ribbing over this incident by people who insisted that cows are not dangerous.  I beg to differ.

I had visions of being trampled by a dozen, 1,500lb moo-sters who were clearly highly excited, and don’t have a reputation for being particularly smart. If you don’t believe me about the intelligence part, I refer you back to the video in Ally’s post.

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This bunch doesn’t look so scary when I’m on the road and there is a fence between us.

So, what choice would you have made?

 

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Adventure, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 102 Comments

Wild Water

I may be back in the frigid north, but my heart is still in the warm sunshine of Florida.

It’s not going to be much of a surprise when I tell you that the two highlights of my short visit to the sunny south both involved water.  The first was a stroll on the beach at Sharky’s on The Pier in Venice. I had heard about the restaurant and its neighbouring pier over the years and so a visit of my own was warranted.

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The water was surprisingly warm (southerners might have a different opinion on that one) considering how churned up it was from the wind storm a few days earlier.  I wasn’t however warned that those waves were going to be unpredictable and occasionally outright rogue.

Let’s just say my capri pants were pretty well soaked for the drive home.  Even more astonishing (at least it was to me) was the amount of sand that managed to insert itself in places it didn’t belong.

The next morning we drove down to the Everglades for two things on my To Do list – an airboat ride and viewing alligators.  Riding an airboat on the Everglades has been on my wish list since watching the TV Show, Gentle Ben, in the late 60s.  For me, it was a life both foreign and exotic.

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Image from http://www.imdb.com – 1967

I got my wish on both counts.  Before we had even stepped on the boat, a huge alligator came over to pay us a visit.  I was going to keep my distance, thank you very much.

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Big Gator on the edge of the shore to the far right

Besides the driver, my sister and I were the only ones on the boat and we had a blast.   I wish I could have taken photos of us flying over the river grass, but I was too busy just holding on.  Hydroplaning around corners was both terrifying and exhilarating.  As we skidded through the turns, I hoped that airboats could not be tipped over and was alarmed to later discover they can be!

If you’ve never been to the Everglades, I encourage you to add it to your adventure list.  It is as interesting to learn about as it is to experience.  I’m one of those people who thought it was simply a large swamp, but it’s actually a very slow moving river … 60 miles (97km) wide and 100 miles (160km) long.

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It’s a massive wetland ecosystem, home to many animals – including both alligators and crocodiles.

I didn’t know that there was both a freshwater Everglade, which is home to the alligator and river grass, as well as a saltwater Everglade which is home to the American crocodile and the mangrove trees.

We were in the freshwater Everglades and there was no shortage of alligators to be found. Even after the millionth sighting, I was still bobbing with excitement.

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One of the most surprising discoveries of the day though was that the Everglades is also home to panthers. The name of the Florida Panther Hockey Team is now starting to make more sense.

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However, if there is going to be a sign advertising panthers, I’m going to expect to see a panther.  Unfortunately, they were a no-show and I was majorly disappointed.

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Running Away To The Circus

It was only 4 days … but it was all I needed to put a spring back in my step.

With Gilles going out of town for work, I was reluctant to stay at home doing nothing.  So a last minute plan was hatched, a cheap flight booked, and I was on my way to my sister’s Florida home packing a sense of adventure.

Two northern girls can pack a lot of fun into a few short days and one of those days was spent at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota.

I have never actually been to a circus … I mean the kind with animal acts.  I’ve been to Cirque de Soleil performances on many occasions – including this past summer to Luzia, but there was something about the animal acts that never appealed to me.

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August 2016

Combined with my ambivalence towards zoos, I always thought that perhaps I didn’t like animals and that was why the circus had no attraction for me.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized it was likely because I actually DID like animals.

I remember the circus acts on the Ed Sullivan Show and the big cats in particular bothered me.  To me, they always looked humiliated by the tricks they were forced to perform. As any cat owner can attest to, cats aren’t exactly easily trainable.  More often than not, it seems we are modifying our behaviour for them rather than the other way around.

What must it have taken to get those big cats to park their instinct?

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However, I had heard great things about the Ringling Museum, art collection, and mansion, so it seemed like a logical place to visit … especially after the news that the long-running Ringling Circus would be coming to an end in May.

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I quickly discovered that going anywhere on a January weekday morning in Florida means a gathering of people predominantly of the vintage variety.  Even worse is the realization that I am in that same demographic.

That, however, did not stop us from behaving like children and engaging in lighthearted silliness.

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My sister is the first to fold herself into the mini-car

What amused us the most however, was the crowd attracted to our antics and the line that quickly formed to attempt the same.  It only takes one to plant the seed and we soon departed to the sound of giggling seniors.

Fun can be anywhere you choose to find it and for these 2 retired sisters, it was a day at the circus.  I’m convinced that inside all of us is a child wanting to come out to play.

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New Year, Changing Seasons #3

For the past two years I’ve participated in Cardinal Guzman’s monthly photo challenge, The Changing Seasons.  I’ve enjoyed the exercise each month of reflecting on the photos I’d taken and giving the month a theme … that’s just my thing.  I’m always looking for a theme.

Well, I’m back again for another year of Changing Seasons and I hope you’ll enjoy my 2017 monthly journey … or better yet, join the photo challenge too.

So what can I say about January?

In summary, my month has been great.  Toronto’s weather has been all over the place from white-outs to balmy spring weather, but my mood is light because my injured shoulder has finally healed and I’ve hit the ground running with enthusiasm.

Outdoors has often been snow-covered and/or icy, but that hasn’t kept me inside for long (click on any photo to enlarge).

The seemingly endless days of grey don’t usually drag me down, but to counter-balance, I’ve been attracted to anything with colour that contrast against the moody skies and dirty snow … like all the great murals I found on the buildings in Midland, Ontario.

With the Christmas season of bright decorations behind us, any structure that shows a splash of colour seems to stand out at this time of year.

On cold and blustery days (and we had a few!), it’s been about hunkering down for some comfort at home.  Lots of cuddle time with my furry one and tinkering with new recipes in the kitchen.

As we approach the end of the month, I’m in the process of packing for a few days of warm, sunny weather in Florida and the company of my lovely sister … both a very rare treat for me in the dead of winter.  I’m looking forward to this radical change of season – even if it’s only for a few days.

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Check out Changing Seasons at Cardinal Guzman.  Maybe you’ll be inspired to share what your world looks like too.

Posted in Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, Random Stuff, The Changing Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 99 Comments

Thursday Doors – Riding The Curl

This week I’m featuring two buildings chosen because I was attracted to their rounded features.  My muse continues to play hide-and-seek with me and I just can’t seem to find words to knit together into a story, so the photos will need to tell their own story.

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1908 – Former Imperial Bank of Canada, now the entrance to a condo tower.  Photo Jan 2017

My understanding is that on the floor of the lobby of this condo is a mosaic from the original building containing the initials IBC (Imperial Bank of Canada).

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I know this doorway isn’t rounded, but I couldn’t ignore it.

I don’t know what the purpose was for this particular Chamber door, but on another building a few blocks away that also had a “Chamber” door, I found a plaque that suggested a clue.  It seems that the upper floor above the bank were used as meeting rooms for the early township council.

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York is a former municipality within the current city of Toronto

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1906 Convocation Hall, University of Toronto.  Photo taken Aug 2016

Convocation Hall has a seating capacity of over 1,700 and serves as a venue for major events.

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Convocation Hall – Aug 2016

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

Posted in photography, Random Stuff, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments