Friday, February 27, 2009

cold front

It was 9C about an hour ago. Now it is only 1C with a windchill of -6.
I could feel the temperature cooling as I walked to the mailbox to send off my latest postcards.
By tonight it will be -15C, with all the rain from this morning freezing.
By tomorrow the windchill will make it feel like -24.
So far the weekend is looking nasty.

March - in like a lion?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

gagnez un cafe

It is Roll Up The Rim time at Tim Hortons!

And after only 3 coffees bought,
A coffee.
But still,
I WON something!

Every year from the last week in February until whenever the special cups run out in April, you get a chance to "roll up the rim" of your medium, large or extra large coffee cup and see if you've won a coffee, or donut, or money, or gift card, or laptop, or a 2009 Toyota Venza - oh, I'm breathless with anticipation. I am actually quite happy with the coffee and food. Since I've never won anything more than that, I keep my expectations low. In the coming few days, there will be calculations in the media of your chances of winning each of the prizes depending on which province you live in - and they will vary wildly.
Three years ago there was an infamous case of two school girls who found an unrolled cup in the garbage. The one who found it, couldn't get the rim rolled up but her friend was successful. They were surprised to see that it was a winning cup for the SUV. The parents got involved and a court case ensued over who actually won the prize - the finder or the roller-upper. Then, the school janitor claimed that it was his cup that was thrown out before he rolled up the rim and that HE should get the RAV4. DNA testing was requested to prove it was his. Eventually, after much debating and media scrutiny and derision and arguing ... Tim Hortons decided to get involved afterall and awarded the car to the family of the girl who found the cup. It was at least an interesting diversion for a few months.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

cheap cheep

After swearing to never set foot in the place. After going to the community meetings to see what the city was doing to keep them out of the area chosen. After bitching along with everyone else about the city eventually caving in to the demands because it became clear it was a losing battle we didn't have the money to waste on fighting any longer. I went into the new WalMart that opened a week ago.

It wasn't so much the WalMart that was the problem. We already have one at the top corner of the city and two others about 10 minutes away in neighbouring towns. It was the location. Right at the already busiest intersection. The one where everyone who wants to get in to, or out of, the GOtrain station to the east, or on to the highways one to the north and the other to the west, or downtown to the south, must endure long line ups to get through. The one that now has three new traffic lights within a half mile.

There about two or three items I go to WalMart to buy, because I haven't found them anywhere else. Or they are just so much cheaper. A few cents wouldn't make me trail up there, but a few dollars will. This allows me to buy more at the more expensive shops for other items.

But, out of equal parts laziness, curiosity, and a desire for my mango flavoured yoghourt, I went to see what the fuss was about. This much closer location is a SuperStore. I didn't realize that made such a difference from the other store that also sells food. This one is a full grocery store, with a deli counter and bakery and veggies and hot stuff and.... I was momentarily seduced. It was, of course all so clean and fresh looking as all brand spanking new stores are. I wandered the aisles and marvelled at the cheaper prices of their baked goods. Noticed that the fresh produce wasn't much cheaper. And that the dry goods were very limited in variety. But that, joy oh joy, they had my Dairyland Vanilla Mango yoghourt.

Then I spied their meat counter with the roast chickens (maybe $1 less, but smaller), and the packaged chicken. There were several that were marked "special" for $2.97. The chicken strips looked okay, the right colour, enough for three or four meals. I decided to pick one up. For that price, I certainly got a bargain. What I didn't get was any flavour. Even smothered in Butter or Korma sauce with extra onions, red peppers and broccoli and roast potatoes thrown in, your mouth asks what is this unidentified hunk of tenderness? Tofu had more flavour than these chicken strips. What did this poor chicken eat? It seemed such a waste of a chicken's life. Your destiny is to provide food but to end up as a tasteless morsel of blob ...

Are there even any nutrients in something with no flavour? (tofu excepted).
Am swearing once more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

urban animals

The city is no place for wild animals. Or that is how some people see it. That is why there are developments growing up on lands where deer used to be free to roam. Highways are laid where turtles need to cross. (or moose, and many others, but there are no moose in Toronto, well, except for the fibreglass ones still on display, but I digress...)

Some animals have clearly gone through a remarkable adaptation. Think raccoons, with their deft fingers, keen eyes, nocturnal garbage hunting ways. They will never go hungry. Run over, yes, but starve, no. Do raccoons ever get sprayed from skunks if they both struggle through the same garbage bag?

Where I live there are thousands, if not millions, of rabbits. This could be partly due to the number of foxes in the area. This number is very low. Not a night goes by that I don't see a dozen or so bunnies. There is one fox I know of, but I haven't seen him more than 3 or 4 times in the last year. At one time, only about 6 years ago, there were many foxes to be seen. We even used to have a 3-legged fox who lived downtown. You'd see him loping up Brant St (the main street) almost every night, window shopping, crisscrossing the street from one bar to the next.

I have seen many possums during my nightly excursions, a few mice, toads, some cats and once, a beaver. The best sighting by far were the deer. The first time was winter just after a long ago Christmas and I was walking up to a house, newspaper in hand, thinking: I'm tired of seeing all these willow deer on front lawns when I suddenly realized, one of then was a real deer. He stood there looking at me and I stood there looking at him, barely wanting to breathe. After what seemed like hours, but was probably only a minute, he turned and walked up to the front porch (I should have given him the paper, I know) looked around, then left to walk around to the back. I walked to the porch, turned around and realized there were three more deer just standing on the neighbours' yard. This time I stopped breathing. These animals are HUGE. I have almost run into a group, which was more scary than amazing.

And now, there is a coyote in a beach and ravine area of Toronto that has become rather used to urban life. He has possibly feasted on a few cats (suddenly many cats went missing during a particularly sad month) and found himself a little chihuahua the other day. Now there is some talk of killing the coyote. But, most people in the area are aghast at the thought. It is sad for the little dog (and the missing cats) but the risk of a car hitting a dog is greater than being carried off by a coyote. And the risk of a dog mauling a child is much greater than a coyote attacking a child. And your cat, who roams out all night? Remember the songbirds? Yeah, it could easily have been your cat that got them. Besides, coyotes will help with the mice and rats and skunk population. And the feral cat population. Which will help the songbirds.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

SundayStills - architecture

My favourite - architecture - is this week's theme.
I still feel a bit self-conscious taking photos of people's homes
but really, if you are going to live in such houses and renovate them so beautifully, then perhaps it is an honour to have people come by and take pictures?
click on any picture to bigify for details

Below, we have an adorable Gothic Vernacular next
to a majestic Queen Anne Revival
Here is a better view of the seamless renovation and winter landscaping that begs a visit in summer.

And in case you thought the Gingerbread House wasn't quite big enough here is the east view.
This has been an ongoing project for years, and is still ongoing, as you can see. This side isn't quite as seamless as the other and the sliding glass doors and wrought iron railings are just so wrong.

And one more (because I had so much trouble choosing...)
Just in case you think I only like old things,
I find this remodel of an assuming bungalow on the corner up from the other two quite appealing. The window arrangements add so much simple character and match perfectly with the lines of the design. Even the shed doors in the small garden area have a zen feel to them.
Again, begging a visit in summer.
For more architecture views see SundayStills

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Photo Hunt - Warm

This week's PhotoHunt theme was WARM
and this, though not the best Scotch by any means, definitely is warming.
For more variations on the warm theme see PhotoHunt

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

go out and explore

There is a new atrium at the Botanical Gardens that opened last week. It looks wonderful, though still has a few bugs to sort out.

Monster Bugs
like this Caterpillar who looks ready to chomp on the Living Wall (and the kiddies heads - who squealed with mock fear)

there were boards with insects from exotic Malaysia and Thailand and other tropical climes

which vied for attention with the giant fighting beetles

beautiful creatures that fly

there were live bugs to see
like these grasshoppers

and this monster (rose tarantula) who is apparently very soft and light as a feather and who would explode if she fell even 3" due to her internal organs just floating around that enormous abdomen

There were robotics to play with, levers to push, ropes to pull, knobs to turn, mechanical legs to move, movies to watch, bugs to colour, all aimed to teach about the physiology and anatomy and purpose of bugs. And there was food to eat
like these freshly made 'gourmet' chocolate covered crickets
that tasted more like chocolate than anything else
or so I heard.
go ahead click on any picture to make them bigger

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


On Sunday last, I came out of the grocery store to find a glorious full moon complete with halos and interesting clouds. And no camera. When I got home, I read that the next SundayStills challenge was to be ... the moon. I was so excited. Perfect, I thought. This will be easy (afterall, I work nights!) Wasn't to be. The moon barely even deigned to appear through the overcast sky. It didn't come to me, so I had nothing to offer on Sunday.

I didn't even have anything to offer on Saturday for the PhotoHunt challenge, the theme of which this week was: nautical. Perfect I thought, for HMCS Haida, the most decorated and successful battleship in Canadian history, is docked not far away. I could have made an effort, but I couldn't be arsed to get out find the energy to venture outside and look for it.

I was feeling a little down about my lack of energy. And my lack of enthusiasm.
I was tired of feeling lazy, but too tired and lazy to do anything about it.

Then, I read Delwyn's post and found she made me a postcard!
Violet has provided me with much joy through her variety of photographs allowing me to live vicariously in a stunningly different part of the world. She is warm and generous in her ongoing comments. I am glad I have met Violet.
You should see her other great hand crafted postcards, especially these ones.
She's over at A Hazy Moon and well worth the trip to her little part of the world.
So, today (Monday) I ventured outside. Into the throngs of people enjoying a holiday.
And took pictures.
But that is for tomorrow's post.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

postcards from the edge

Last week we received two postcards from Japan on the same day. I thought that was pretty neat. But then, yesterday came a post card from 47kms away - 2 cities over! The sender hoped I wouldn't be disappointed. Au contraire, thought I. Mississauga has postcards? I have discovered that Burlington doesn't even have any postcards. The few that are here are of Toronto or Niagara Falls somewhere else.

It's not like there isn't anything happening in my city to attract tourists. We have the Royal Botanical Gardens. There is the Sound of Music Festival, Ribfest, the Festival of Lights. There are conservation areas, movies and music in the parks, an Art Centre, museums, studio tours, craft fairs, and several running events, food events and kids events to keep the locals busy.

And we are less than an hour away from Toronto and Niagara.

but looks nothing like Slany which is an hour from Prague

blue sky and corn from outside Indianapolis

Petra from near Hamburg gave me a warm winter coat!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a long drive in the woods

I'm not often easily impressed by new electronic gadgets. It takes me awhile. But a couple of months ago I was introduced to an iPhone, and an iTouch. My SIL and I had great fun playing with it. When a friend was telling me about her GPS that she had to get for her new car (that she rarely drives), I tried not to roll my eyes. Really, isn't a mapbook good enough? I have a large Rand McNally for the Golden Horseshoe. If where I am heading is on the awkward bit like the page edge or worse, the spine, I draw myself my own version on a sheet of paper and that usually suffices. I can always Google it beforehand and print off the map.

Then I got to play with the GPS and found out all that it could do. Just telling me something will not convert me. I need actual visual, hands-on proof. I had to concede that the features like distance and traffic delays and where the nearest ATM or gas station is could be extremely useful. It even tells you where restaurants are and what movies are on at the nearest cinema.

So much detail at a touch. I've been in love with this gadget ever since.

Many years ago, on a road trip to Winnipeg, a friend and I were cruising along the blasted out rock and pine tree filled stunning forests of North of Superior when it occurred to us that maybe we should have topped up the gas in Wawa (or wherever it was we left several hours ago, I forget at the moment). We saw a sign pointing down a road to the right that said Logging Camp, Gas Station. So off the highway we turned and drove down the rutted track. And drove, and drove, and drove some more because we were not quite deep enough into the never ending stunning forest. Seriously, we weren't sure we would even make it to the logging camp. Finally, after many, many minutes that may have equalled an hour, we reached what was obviously the end of the road. We knew this because after the few buildings and the gas station and general store, the road looped around back onto itself. The station sold le gaz, the signs were all in French, the attendant only spoke French and didn't understand our attempts at communicating. We filled up, bought a snack and headed back to the highway. By then we both needed to pee and since we hadn't passed a vehicle the whole way we stopped and checked out the lay of the bushes... a big logging truck passed us. We reached the highway and remembered that we needed to turn right to keep on towards the Manitoba border. About 1/2 km up the road, around a bend was a gas station. With a restaurant. And probably clean washrooms.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday AMuse

by Ozge Samanci, a Turkish born artist who creates a drawing a day for her site Ordinary Things, an online journal of her observations in comic form.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Stills - reflections

This week's theme is reflections
and I was a little concerned about finding any good reflections with all the snow around, but yesterday the temperature climbed up to a windy 10C and the comment on the street from everyone you met wasn't, "isn't it warm", but "I can't believe how much of the snow has melted"

Here we have a business park called Princess Gate, a glass stucture housing several offices and overlooking the highway and hydro towers. The first shot is facing west, the second is a closer view facing east.

Click on the images for a better view and in the second photo you can see the green church tower of 100 Huntley Street
find more Sunday Stills

Saturday, February 7, 2009

PhotoHunt - Bridges

Some of you may not have tired of pictures of snow.
So for you, above, here is your snow covered bridge.

Now, as for me, I have had enough of snow. I am ready for a holiday far away from the stuff. But, I've already had my holidays last summer in England ... which reminded me of the best bridge in Bath.

The Pulteney Bridge

view from the walkway of the Botanical Gardens

and with the city of Bath rising up the hills behind

with the weir in front

and the view of the weir from the bridge

and the sadly desecrated view from the other (north) side from the tourboat

Built in the 1700's by Robert Adam, it is one of only four bridges in the world lined with shops. Sadly it's original Venetian and Palladian design started its ruin within 20 years when shops were enlarged and windows cantilevered out over the River Avon with little regard to the elegance of the structure. Still, it's a magnificent bridge to behold.

For more bridges around the world go to PhotoHunt

Friday, February 6, 2009

five minutes more

My favourite alarm clock is broken. Actually, my next favourite is also broken. Even my least favourite doesn't work. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my anxious reaction to the rude awakening. Or my continual use of the snooze button, the best and worst invention on any alarm clock.

Now I use my cell phone, which has an alarm feature and a person on the other end who gives me a wake up call every night. I know. Shouldn't everyone get a wake up call from their place of work? And if I'm not there an hour later they call back to make sure I didn't fall back to sleep. Which sometimes happens (see above).

I used to always believe that if I didn't have my 9 hours of sleep I was useless. I've learned that I can indeed be useful on less than that. But it can be a struggle. Sometimes, I feel like I am always struggling.

My work schedule is so erratic that it is hard to have any set routine for sleeping or eating. It is a good thing I live alone so I can make my own schedule and change it on a daily basis.

I do not like being awakened by music, or inane drivel from the radio, which often just infiltrates into my dreams, nor one of those clocky deals where the night table accessory rolls around all over the room and forces you out of bed to find it and beat it into quiet submission.

No, my favourite alarm clock has a light that flashes for five minutes before a gentle alarm starts up which increases in intensity before the minute hand finally reaches out and slaps you silly.

Well, that last bit might be made up. I've not tested things that far.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

disorderly beauty

It started snowing again just as I got home this morning, the light fluffy flakes that float all around you and sit on top of one another looking so very pretty. I decided to take my camera for a little walk.

From my balcony,

to the end of my street

westward along North Shore, following the lake

(okay, I cheated and drove this bit)
to get to this spot.

Here we are facing east and that white bit on the bottom is actually Lake Ontario covered in ice and snow.
I haven't figured out how to make these pictures big so click on the image to see
The Trumpeter Swans resting on the lake just further out.
Now we turn our faces to the west, where there is a little sheltered bay

to see what we have really come to take delight in

Out of the way gull ... we're coming in

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Stills - go high, go low

look up, grapes falling from the ceiling

look down, into the fish pond
koi looking up
check out more Sunday Stills