Consider Yourself Warned

My meager offering for today’s Thursday Doors is a single gate I found leading to a property backing onto an urban trail I was traveling a few weeks ago.

It ticked all the right buttons – a door (of sorts), unusual, and it appeals to my need of organization and order.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature normally hosted by Norm Frampton, but he is on a much-needed vacation, so this week’s hostess is Manja at The Mexi Movie.  Be sure to check out her post.  She always has a great collection of doors from Slovenia and Italy.

Posted in Around Toronto, Photo Challenges, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , | 80 Comments

Searching For Inspiration

I’ve been MIA for the past couple of weeks.  I wish I had a good story to tell – or even a bad story – but I have nothing to account for my absence, except simple inertia.

Today I was determined to snap myself out of this neutral mode, so I dragged myself out on my bike to explore a nearby urban trail that – horrors! – I had never been on before now.

In hindsight, I wonder what took me so long.

Brimley Woods

Green spaces are always balm for my soul.  Brimley Woods.

It didn’t take long before details were starting to catch my attention.

North Scarb Green Trail

Getting down the hill to take this photo was harder than getting back up.

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These guys were very entertaining when they realized I was taking photos of them.

I know I’ve said it many times before, but I am constantly amazed at the things I discover that have been under my nose for years.  We tend to drive the same roads over and over again in our busy days and often fail to recognize that there’s a nearby treasure.

For me today it was L’Amoreaux Park.  I knew it existed – I’ve seen it hundreds of times in passing.  What I didn’t know was that it was so large – crisscrossed with paths, a small wooded area, and a wetland active with birds of all sizes.

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The workers on the hydro tower can still be seen in the background

Now the wetland in itself might not be overly surprising, but what did cause me to come to a screeching halt was when I spied cormorants on an outcrop on the water.

Until my visit to Florida this past winter, I had never even heard of a cormorant, but I quickly became fascinated with this bird that held its wings out to dry.  It never occurred to me that they could be found this far north, however a quick google search confirmed that in fact they’re common.

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The sleek cormorants hanging out with the chubby Canadian Geese

This find made up for the excited moment I had a short while earlier when I thought I spied a Great Blue Heron standing regally in the water.  I leaped off my bike while it was practically still moving, trying to get my camera out before the heron flew away.

A half dozen photos later while I was praising my good luck, I realized it was only a wooden statue.  At least this LOOKED like a heron – unlike the 2 wild turkeys I mistook for deer on the golf course last week.

L'Amoreau5Then I promptly broke Cardinal Rule #3 of cycling – “keep your mouth closed” – and a bee flew into my mouth. Clearly this bee was equipped with the insect equivalent of my clueless GPS, otherwise it would have taken evasive action.

 

I spit that little bomber out of my mouth in a nanosecond, and thankfully I didn’t get stung, but my tongue was a little tingly for about an hour afterwards.  That would have been all I needed after getting stung by wasp on my foot a few weeks ago.

It’s too early to say whether I’ve actually found sustained inspiration, but hopefully I’ve successfully nudged myself out of the rut I’ve been wallowing in for too long.

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Adventure, Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 103 Comments

August In The Rearview Mirror

What happened to August?  One minute it was July and then in the blink of an eye, I found myself staring down the last handful of days in August.  I’m not ready for summer to be over so quickly.

This is a snapshot of the busy month that was August:

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French lavender fields at Terre Bleu

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The apiary with the constant hum and air traffic of thousands of bees.

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Hiking on the Trans-Canada Trail in Durham Region

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Exploring inner city parks – Taylor Creek Trail

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Finding a bit of small town history – 6th Line Cemetery Memorial for Scottish Dalhousie Settlers 1832

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Sitting in a kayak on Lake Simcoe on a warm Monday afternoon, waiting for the solar eclipse

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Crossing over the Wye Marsh on the Trans-Canada Trail in the Georgian Bay area

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The front yard is looking pretty good in the morning light, compliments of a wet summer

I can’t forget my fur-baby this month.  In the excitement of July, I missed him last month. Theo has been particularly tired these days.  The Mouser has been on active duty and I’m finding the evidence of his hunting forays in the pool most mornings.

Theo

Changing Seasons is a monthly photo challenge hosted by Max at Cardinal Guzman.

Posted in Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, The Changing Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 95 Comments

A Touch of Whimsy

I was looking in my photo library for something a bit different for this week’s Thursday Doors, and then I remembered this wonderful little find.

It was the day I went looking for the Cadbury chocolate factory.  I had taken public transit to avoid driving downtown on a Friday afternoon … life is too short to drive anywhere in Toronto on a Friday afternoon.  I took a walk from the subway through a park I had never heard of before.

Dufferin Grove Park is a pretty little green space, and based on the many people in the park on that hot afternoon, it is also a very popular meeting place.

A refreshment kiosk was located near a children’s playground, and what an interesting kiosk it was!  It’s called Cob In The Park, and its name derives from the mixture of sand, clay, and straw – known as “cob” or monolithic adobe – used as the building material.

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In 2004, the Toronto Public Health department required that a proper washing station would be needed if a refreshment stand was going to operate here on a regular basis.  A local resident conceived the idea of the earthen courtyard and in 2005, armed with permissions from the City, she directed about 500 volunteers during the process of building the Cob.

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I really wanted to move that board before I took the photo, but I didn’t want it to appear like I might be trying to break into that storage compartment

As if the mosaics covering the Cob weren’t pretty enough, rustic doors made from reclaimed wood and decorated with old pieces of cutlery were used to secure the various little cubbyholes used for storage.

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Dufferin Grove Park

Complete with a rooftop garden – again, I really wanted to move that trolley!

I avoided taking any photos of the actual service area because of all the small children around.  I felt like people were throwing me enough distrustful looks while I attempted to surreptitiously grab a few photos, without appearing to include children in them.

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Such are the challenges of a blogger with a camera.

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

Posted in Around Toronto, Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 79 Comments

Walking in Sunshine

Last week was a bad one for me … the kind of week where my goal was to get through it without hurting myself – or someone else.

It was a week of insomnia.

The garage made an unexpected jerk-move and leaped in front of me while I was trying to back out … smacking up the front-end of my car.  Yeah, I know.  It doesn’t sound right to me either, but I’m sure that’s exactly what happened.

A still-unidentified allergic reaction left my right eye red-ringed and swollen almost completely shut.  Meantime, the lack of sleep made my left eye twitch uncontrollably.   I looked outright scary.

Which brings me to the late night romp on the roof of the house with a flashlight in one hand and a broom handle in the other.  The broom was for self-defense.  I was alone all week and of course that was when one enterprising raccoon decided to climb on our roof and tear the cap off one of the vents.

It did occur to me as I crept along the roof, in my pajamas, in the dark, to confront a raccoon, that perhaps this could end badly.  The only good part in the entire escapade was that it was so dark outside, I couldn’t see exactly how high up I really was.  These things always seem to happen when Gilles is away.

No.  Last week wasn’t a good one, and I wasn’t a happy camper.

So, this week I decided to shake the stink off from last week and go on a field trip looking for a sunflower farm.  What could be better for lifting the spirits than spending some quality time driving down a peaceful country road and photographing fields full of bright yellow sunny heads?

Yeah, well, it didn’t exactly work out that way.

Oh, the driving up and down country roads part was pretty accurate.  My GPS – aka The Bitch – took me on a convoluted tour of the entire countryside before finally deciding to have mercy on my frazzled soul.

But it didn’t get better from there.

I had missed the peak bloom of the sunflowers.

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Look lively, Bob.  We have company!

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Company?!  Oh dear, we just had a shower and look a mess!

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I don’t see anyone.  Are you sure there are people here?

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Yoohoo!  I’m over here!!

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Shhh!  Be quiet out there!  If you wake everyone up, there’ll be hell to pay!

Sunflower Farm

Too late.  It’s going to be a long day.

Posted in Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, photography, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , , | 129 Comments

The Tower of Port Hope

The doors are ordinary and rather battered, but the building they are attached to is definitely not.

Port Hope8All along the St Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, there are numerous communities with a rich history from the 1800s.  The town of Port Hope east of Toronto is one of those.

I discovered this old water tower in Port Hope by accident, while looking for an award-winning bakery known for its Canadian specialty – butter tarts.

It turns out that finding the building was the easy part. Trying to unearth the history of it was an entirely different matter.

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When I searched for “Tower of Port Hope“, I got links to a retirement residence located next door.

Further poking around the interwebs, I found “Greenwood Tower“, but it only provided information about the motel located on the property and not the water tower itself.

Finally I stumbled across a reference to the “Belgrave Water Tower” and found an article about the history of this wonderful 1877 building.

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Although in disrepair, the building is still stunning with its fan design of wrought iron in the lower windows,

… the ornate railings along the roof of the extension of the first floor,

… the widow’s walk and the balustrades around the windows on the third level

… and let’s not forgot those circular spoke windows on the top level.

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Although I couldn’t see inside the tower, it is said to have a wooden circular staircase that winds up to the 4th level, and deep below the tower is a brick-walled well that is 10 feet across and drops down about 75 feet (3 metres and 23 metres respectively).

It was built on a 30-acre estate known as Belgrave, and the tower provided water to the house and surrounding gardens.  I’m obviously talking about a local businessman with serious wealth.

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It may look derelict and abandoned, but a family of feral cats currently call the tower home. Pretty fancy digs whether you’re a cat or not.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.  Check it out and discover a world of doors.

Posted in history, photography, Things I Like, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments

Grim Reality

I am just one of so many blogs written by retirees – our focus on maintaining an active and relevant lifestyle.  We are not ready or content to sit back idly with our thoughts locked in the memories of our youth, watching the world go by without us.

We are carving out new chapters.

However, there is another side of retirement that is rarely talked about – that grim reality of aging.  We start to lose those near and dear to us.

People who have shared adventures with us.  People who have made the world a brighter place for having been a part of it.

I was lucky to have taken early retirement in my mid-50s.  The past 6 years have been full of laughter, new discoveries, and escapades … but I’ve also attended a shocking number of funerals and memorials.

Yes, there is the inevitable passing of the generation before us … our aging parents and those of our friends … but with greater and alarming frequency, I am saying farewell to a friend.

Each occurrence creates a tsunami of emotion, reflection, and yes – even fear.

Today is one of those days.

Shortly before dawn on this gray summer morning, another friend slipped away.  He left behind the broken hearts of his family and friends … and so many memories of his ever-present smile.

Rest In Peace, Lester.

Posted in Memories, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | 113 Comments

Shades of Lavender

Although I haven’t been blogging much lately, I’ve been stockpiling stories and doors like a hoarder.  Although I hadn’t planned a Thursday Doors post, I couldn’t resist sharing a door I found unexpectedly this afternoon.

French lavender is currently in bloom.  I had flip-flopped several times this morning as to whether I wanted to make the 90 minute drive to a lavender farm called Terre Bleu north-west of Toronto.

I finally just jumped in my car and went … and I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a door.

Terre Bleu

I’m still puzzled as to why a farm that is wrapped in multiple shades of lavender would be called “Blue Earth”.  Perhaps Terre Lavande just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

To echo the sentiment of the door, may all your worries be behind you.

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

Posted in Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, photography, Things I Like, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , | 86 Comments

A Chocolate Failure

Don’t let the sign fool you.  Welcomed, I was not.

Cadbury

It all started while on a walk with Helen on the Trans-Canada Trail east of Toronto.

Helen will stop and read every memorial plaque we encounter on our travels – without exception – and on this particular day we found one honouring the maker of the machinery that puts the caramel in the Caramilk bar.

 

Cadbury?  Did someone mention my favourite purveyor of chocolatey delights?

The only online references I could find to Mr Lester were to his 2016 obituary which appeared to now be closed to access.  I did however discover that Cadbury had a chocolate factory here in Toronto.  How could I have not known this earlier?!!

When it comes to chocolate, I tend to move swiftly and decisively, so without delay I embarked on the journey to an area of the city known as Dufferin Grove.

I found a very large, nondescript box of a building … and a large, imposing security guard.

“No, there aren’t any public tours except for school groups.”

“No, there is no public access to the factory museum except for school groups.”

“Please, I must insist you stop taking photos … especially of the signage.”

So I skulked away quietly.

Sometimes adventures end in disappointment.

Posted in Around Toronto, Random Stuff, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , , | 124 Comments

Summer Time Crazy

I’m sorry.

I know I haven’t been around much.

I blame summer.

Maybe I’m just trying to make up for last year’s failure when I moped around with a broken collarbone for the entire summer feeling sorry for myself.  Or maybe it’s just a quirk of us Northerners who feel compelled to squeeze out every possible minute of summer fun.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been too busy cramming in maximum summer activity rather than trying to keep up here in blogland.  You probably didn’t even notice I was gone.

I’ve been golfing for the first time in 3 years.  In spite of having taken many lessons over the years, I’m still horribly dysfunctional with a golf club … but it sure feels good to be back after such a long absence.

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On this 9-hole course, there is a water hazard on 7 holes and 5 bridges to cross to reach them.

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… that means I will lose at least 7 balls if I attempt to hit over the water.  It’s virtually guaranteed.

Although we’ve had some hot and humid days, they’ve been generously interspersed with overcast skies and rain.  Lots of rain.

Usually by the end of July, everything is starting to look scorched and brown, but this summer all the lawns and gardens are lush and deeply green.

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This is my front yard.  It’s flowering like it’s on steroids.  Needless to say, it doesn’t normally look like this.  Note to self – flowering plants LOVE lots of water … or maybe it was the compost …

With summer comes a lot of time spent around water on boats both big and small.

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… but not this boat though.  I thought that if I waved in a friendly manner, they might offer to take me out for a ride.  Sadly, it didn’t work.  This is the marina at Toronto’s Ontario Place

For the first time in about 13 years, I made it back north to The Island where we spent our childhood summers in a small cabin.  The small cabin isn’t there anymore – replaced by a 3-bedroom cottage – but the memories overflowed.

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It’s a small island of about an acre, surrounded by Crown Land and no other person for several kilometers.  For this city girl used to the constant hum of traffic in the background, it was odd to be back in a place where the darkness at night was absolute and the only sound was the cry of the loons.

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Prelude to a major thunderstorm that crashed through the area.  My sister and I sat outside on the veranda to watch the storm – something my mother would NEVER have allowed us to do.  She didn’t like the water, didn’t like The Island, and definitely didn’t like thunderstorms.

Speaking of water,  the Great Lakes are still unusually high with flooded shorelines all along Lake Ontario.  It doesn’t even look unusual to me anymore.  That’s a sad commentary.

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Toronto Harbourfront 

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… and yes, Helen and I are still making slow progress along the Trans-Canada Trail.

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Trans-Canada Trail along the shore of Lake Ontario east of Toronto in Pickering

There are still many more summer days ahead of us, so please forgive me if I’m sporadic in my visits.  I’m going to be busy trying to squeeze out as many memories as possible while I can.

Winter is coming.

This post is in response to The Changing Seasons monthly photo challenge hosted by Max at Cardinal Guzman.  This is my 3rd year participating in this monthly feature.

Posted in Active Lifestyle, Around Toronto, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Photo Challenges, The Changing Seasons, Things I Like | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments