Under Construction

There is something compelling about a construction site and it should be no surprise that I often snap photos of them in passing.

I don’t think I’ve ever shared any of them before now, but I thought these discoveries from last weekend were very entertaining.

This piece of equipment caught my eye because it reminded me of the Canadarm used on the Space Shuttle.

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It amused me even more when I discovered the name of this piece of equipment is the *Putzmeister*.

I would translate Putz Meister to mean “Master of the Useless and Unproductive”, however I don’t think that was the intention.

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From what I understand, this equipment pumps concrete along the boom arm from the truck to the intended destination.  In spite of its very unfortunate name, it seems to be a very useful thing to have on a construction site, don’t you think?

Even better was when I spied the “Wacker”.  I can’t even think about this name without smiling.

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Many years ago, the Ontario government enacted a piece of legislation called Pay Equity.  It required employers to pay “equal wages for jobs of equal value”.  Companies like our’s jumped through hoops to implement a methodology that would ensure compliance with this legislation.

I sat on the Pay Equity Committee for my employer and spent endless hours over several months evaluating positions in the company for complexity, judgement, skills required, etc.

You’re probably wondering what on earth that has to do with construction equipment.

Well, one of the positions we evaluated from our manufacturing facilities was that of a *Whacker*. How would you like to have that as your official job title?

Needless to say, it didn’t require much advanced education or job complexity, but physical brawn was an obvious asset.  I don’t suppose I have to mention that we were often reduced to a giggling mess during these evaluations.  The Whacker was one of our favourites.

Admit it.  You too can’t resist sneaking a peak at a construction site.  You never know what you might see.

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Posted in Random Stuff, Outdoor Stuff, Memories, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , | 64 Comments

On This Day

Sixty-one years ago today a 32-year-old immigrant from Holland gave birth to a baby girl – her 4th child.

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It was almost a tragic day, for the child was strangled during birth by the umbilical cord. There were several frantic, tense moments before the blue-skinned baby finally took her first breath.

They called her Joanne Ruby.

My thoughts are with that young woman today, as they are every year on this day.  I’ve long believed that somehow we got it wrong and the mother should be the true celebrant of their child’s birthday.  Even though she has been gone many years now, my thoughts still turn to her.

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Her name was Johanna Henrietta and on this day, 61 years ago, she was in her prime with her life wide open before her.

Just as she was once young, grew old, and passed on, so will it be for her children, their children, and those still to come.

To her on this day I say, congratulations on a life well-lived and thank you for giving me mine.

 

Posted in Family, Memories, Musings, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , | 88 Comments

Stupid Doors

If you’re looking for beauty and inspiration, you won’t find it here today.  This post is all about the plain and ordinary.  Why?  Because I’ve been head-down painting every door in our house.  It’s not exactly been stimulating stuff.

We’ve lived in this house for almost 25 years and over that time, we’ve completed many renovation projects.  In the early years, one of those renovations was to replace all the doors, but eventually as each room went through various reincarnations, the doors were ignored for ‘another day’.

Well, you guessed it.  That day never arrived.

Not long ago, I made the mistake of actually taking a good look at our interior doors.  They had become a hodge-podge of slightly different colours often not even matching on the opposite side.  The only thing each one had in common was that they were looking worn and drab.

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I seriously thought this would be a simple two day job – maybe three – to paint the 8 interior doors.  Unfortunately, this project has taken on a life of its own.

I hadn’t taken into account little things, like how slow I was going to be.  There was the minor detail of learning how to remove a doorknob and then reassembling it again … only after I took a long tour through Gilles’ toolbox trying to find the right-sized screwdriver.

Did you know you can ‘lock’ yourself in a room if the door-without-a-doorknob closes? Do you know how to open it again? I learned that one too … although in honesty I should admit it’s only because Gilles let me out.

The doors are all freshly painted now in a single matching white. Not “Antique Lace”, “Bit of Sugar”, “Spun Cotton”, or any other variation of *white*.  They are just white, plain and simple.

You’ve probably already noticed my new problem.  The door frames no longer match the doors.  Apparently I’m not finished painting after all.

Stupid doors.

I realize this is a sad excuse for a Thursday Door post, but – as you’ve likely discovered in the past – I’m not adverse to stretching the interpretation to suit myself.  Misery loves company, so maybe the next time you visit you could pick up a paint brush and lend me a hand.

So, I’m guessing you’re wondering why I haven’t included a photo of my clean white doors.  Well first of all, in my new self-imposed restriction to only take photos in Manual mode, my learning curve has been steep and rocky.  My previous 10% success rate has plummeted to 1 … and even then, that one is usually less than ok (as the above photo will attest to).

Secondly, do you really need to see a plain white door?

Do I sound grouchy?  Blame the doors.

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

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Some Like It Hot

Gilles and I were running errands together yesterday and decided to head out to the west end near the airport to check out a restaurant that a recent article suggested had the best samosas in the city.

We like to occasionally buy a few dozen and freeze them for easy, last minute lunches.  We have a local place with an *ok* samosa, but not great.

The restaurant we found was a small, non-descript kind of place with both a hot food and take-out counter.  Getting carried away by the variety in the display counter, Gilles’ attention was captured by a tray of pepper pakoras.

Although Gilles likes spicy food, he doesn’t necessarily like over-the-top hot food and these appeared to be full-sized banana peppers.  I attempted to caution him that maybe they weren’t a great choice.

Now, Gilles can occasionally be …. how do I put this kindly? … pigheadedly self-righteous. Right now, any of you who actually know Gilles are vigorously nodding your heads at this understatement.

This was one of those times.

His response: “Bah.  How hot can they be?”

Me:  “What do you mean ‘How hot can they be?’ … we’re in an INDIAN restaurant.”

Gilles: “I’ll take six.”

By this point, the woman behind the counter was unsuccessfully stifling a broad smile, but I didn’t bother trying.  I was laughing out loud.  Six!!!!

Sweet India

So how were they?

The samosas were in fact the best we’ve ever had and definitely worth the trip to the west end.

… and you guessed it, the pepper pakoras were Holy Hell, Burn-My-Mouth-Off-Hot.

It was funny only because I was right.

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An Epic Journey

No one has ever suggested I plan too small, but this time even I am in awe of the adventure we are about to undertake.

“We” includes my long-time friend and hiking partner, Helen.  Since our retirement 6 years ago, we have hiked almost 1,200 km together, completing both the Bruce Trail and Oak Ridges Moraine Trail End-to-End.  Both of these trails are in Southern Ontario and reasonably accessible from our homes.

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Helen and I on the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, 2014

However, we have been challenged for a while trying to decide what our next adventure would look like.  We kicked around the idea of the Camino de Santiago, the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail, … but nothing ever really landed on two feet.

Until now.

In preparation for Canada’s 150th birthday this year, there has been considerable effort made to link together the vast network of recreational trails that exist across the country. With 91% of the trail complete and over 21,000 km of connected trail, we finally heard the siren song of the Great Trans-Canada Trail.

great trailIt is billed as the longest recreational trail in the world, and when fully connected, it will be 24,000 km long including urban, rural, wilderness, and waterway trails.

There is nothing quite like an audacious goal to get me excited.

At our current ages of 70 (Helen) and 60 (me), this goal includes a healthy helping of hopeful thinking, but why not?  Life should be a grand adventure.

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Helen and I on the Bruce Trail, 2013

Unlike our journey on the Bruce Trail, it is not our intention to start at one end of the country and work our way sequentially across to the other end.  Nor do we intend to walk the entire distance.  Whenever and wherever possible, our plan is to bicycle.

I’ve been pouring over maps the past several weeks and much to my dismay, neither the Bruce Trail or the Oak Ridges Moraine count as mileage on the Great Trail.

So far I’ve been able to identify only a modest 32 km of trail we have previously walked and will not be repeating for this journey.  At 0.15% of the trail,  it’s not even a blip on the map yet, but that number will start to tick upwards over the months – and years – ahead.

Our adventure starts next week.  It will be epic.

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Random sign from the Don Valley Trail – NOT on the Trans-Canada

 

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Adventure, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , | 135 Comments

Discovering More Yorkville

My recent stroll into Yorkville produced a number of great door finds and today I’m featuring a few more them.

Right next door to the heritage Fire Hall I featured last week, is this gem built in 1906 in what was once considered the northern end of the city.  It is now the oldest public library in Toronto.

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Walking through the nearby streets, there were so many photo-worthy doors and buildings, including the Heliconian Hall.

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It was built in 1876, in what was then a rural area, as the Olivet Congregational Church.  It was later purchased in 1923 and renovated as the new home of the Heliconian Club.

This club was formed in 1909 to support women in the arts and provide a forum for women ‘to meet socially and intellectually’.  It’s a non-profit organization and the oldest association of its kind in Canada.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Alumnae Theatre I featured back in January. Formed 10 years after the Heliconian Club, it too was created to support women in the arts.

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The Yorkville area provides an eclectic mix of galleries …

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… retail space, offices, and residences.

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As I mentioned previously, this is an affluent area and these are expensive properties.  A semi-detached home featured in Toronto Life magazine last year sold for $2.8 million.

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It might be too expensive for me to live or shop in Yorkville, but it is a pretty area to visit.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.  Check it out, participate, and fall in love with doors.

Posted in Around Toronto, history, Photo Challenges, Random Stuff, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , , | 76 Comments

An Assortment of Doors

It’s another helping of random doors for today’s Thursday Doors.

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Little Italy – Toronto 2015.  This door is battered, but the rings as door handles caught my eye, as did – what I assume are – boot scrapers on both sides of the door

I don’t even remember many of the buildings themselves … just their doors.

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2016 – University of Toronto.  Apparently an emergency exit only.  It opens only from the inside.

Another battered old door found in Port Perry, a 45 minute drive away.

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The door might be in disrepair, but the window gracing the top with its decorative arch is still gorgeous.  Photo from 2016

This door was attached to a wonderful old building that originally served as the Town Hall, jail, and court house for the Port Perry area. It is now a theatre for the Performing Arts.

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Lastly, I found this lovely pair of side-by-side doors while strolling through Yorkville last weekend in downtown Toronto.  I really like the transom window on #62 and little faces on the decorative molding under the overhang.

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Photo 2017

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by the Head Door Man himself, Norm 2.0.

 

 

 

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In A Yorkville State of Mind

In my last post, I traveled downtown to the Ice Fest in Yorkville, but I had an ulterior motive in venturing into this area.

On my list of Toronto heritage buildings, there were several in the Yorkville area that I wanted to check out.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

The one building I was particularly interested in visiting was Fire Station, 312.

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When it was built in 1878, I’m sure that 5-storey clock tower would have been very impressive to the countryside around it.  Today however it is dwarfed by the city towers that surround it.

Station 312 is one of the oldest fire halls still active in Toronto and quite simply, I think it’s cute as a button.

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The Coat of Arms over the tower door is from the Yorkville Town Hall which was destroyed by fire in 1941.

According to the historic plaque on the building, the symbols on the Coat of Arms represent the occupations of the first councillors of Yorkville – a brewer, a brickmaker, a carpenter, a blacksmith, and a butcher.  The whole thing is rounded off with a beaver on top – Canada’s Official National Animal.

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Yorkville was later annexed into Toronto in 1883 and is now one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the city.

If you plan to go shopping there, prepare to dig deep.  In a 2015 article, this area was ranked 21st in the world of most expensive shopping destinations.

Posted in Around Toronto, history, Random Stuff, Things I Like, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 81 Comments

Winter Festival Season

February tends to be the month when Canadian towns, both big and small, celebrate with various winter festivals.  These celebrations have been historically important for communities to thumb their nose at the dark and cold for outdoor fun, games, and attractions.

It’s not any different for a city like Toronto.  Like all large cities, Toronto is actually made up of many small communities, each with their own personality.  This past weekend, the Yorkville area celebrated with their 5th annual Ice Fest.

It was my first.

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All week the city had been basking in unseasonably warm temperatures – more reminiscent of April than February – but I worried about whether my first Ice Fest would be a bust.

I worried for nothing –  temperatures plummeted back into the freezing zone just in time for the artists to display their handiwork.

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The theme for this year’s Ice Fest was Canada’s 150th Anniversary being celebrated this year.

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There was a party atmosphere throughout this high-end ritzy neighbourhood.  Dance music was already blaring, food stalls were open, and crowds were starting to gather in spite of the early morning hour when I made my way downtown.

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I found myself smiling happily – in spite of the cold wind.  I had zero expectations, and was wonderfully surprised.

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Canada’s having a birthday party this year and you’re all invited.

Posted in Around Toronto, Outdoor Stuff, Random Stuff, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 88 Comments

Filler February

We’re closing in on the end of the shortest month of the year and it’s time for February’s version of Changing Seasons.  I know it’s been said by many people before me, but the best part of February is the fact that it is short.

Credit goes to Ally Bean for the inspiration for this month’s title.  In a comment exchange one day she said that February was just a filler month until spring arrives.  I rather liked that description.  It fits February perfectly.

This month’s story is all about the weather and its radical swings.

Warm. Cold. Snow. Rain. Spring-like temperatures.  This has not felt like a normal February at all.

I suspect Mother Nature has been dipping generously into the grape juice and then randomly spinning the old weather wheel for her amusement.

How crazy has it been?  These 2 photos were taken exactly 7 days apart.

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Sunday Feb 12th

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Sunday Feb 19th

One day I thought it would be a great idea to venture down to the lake to capture some photos in advance of a huge oncoming ice storm.  High winds had whipped up Lake Ontario into a frenzy and much of the surrounding vegetation was already encrusted with ice.  The roar from the wind and waves was deafening.

before-the-icestorm3It was a brilliant idea … at least until the freezing rain started much earlier than I expected.  By the time I got back to my car, I was wet and half-frozen.

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When sun came out, the temperatures soared well above normal and Lake Ontario took on a completely different look … enticingly blue and inviting.

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From gray days of ice and snow …

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Gilles with his new toy

…. to days of brilliantly blue skies.

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theoChanging Seasons is a monthly photo challenge hosted by Max at Cardinal Guzman.  It’s never too late to join the challenge and capture nature’s changes from month to month where you live.

Posted in Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, Random Stuff, The Changing Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 118 Comments