Wednesday, February 29, 2012

delightful and sweet

So, how did you spend your extra day?

I started mine by spending it in bed with George Clooney. Well, I was in bed and he was on the television. He was wearing a suit with an opened shirt and no tie, so I was a little confused about the dress code, but I thought I should make an effort and so wore my silky pyjamas. I actually met up with him the night before, but I didn't read the schedule properly and didn't realize he was on Inside the Actor's Studio for 2 hours. Fortunately the show was repeated overnight, which was a little awkward, but it was George after all, so I made it work. He was charming and delightful, and I went to work with his lovely smile in my mind, making me smile.

I don't get the chance to meet up with too many people when I am at work. At certain times as night blends into early morning, you meet the same dog-walkers who will acknowledge you and the same joggers, who will not. It is rare that I actually see any of my customers, which I guess is partly the point - you wake up and your newspaper is sitting at your door as if delivered by elves or spirits. But occasionally, if there is a delay and I am a little later than usual, I may run into someone as they open their door.

Such was the case one time when an apartment door opened just as I was about to drop the paper. We laughed at the synchronicity of the meeting, and through the doorway I caught a glimpse of the most amazing sunrise. I was invited inside to have a better look out over the lake. He had a telescope positioned for watching the ships that slowly pass by. We chatted amiably and I have seen him maybe three other times over the past eight years. He always takes a holiday for a couple of weeks at Christmas and again in the summer. He doesn't cancel the paper when he is away, but instead leaves a note with the dates, which is generous as I still get paid for the paper. For some reason he thinks my name is Sasha. Not sure where he got that idea (though it could be from my sloppy handwriting after writing out several hundred Christmas cards). He is also the sort of man who uses your name when he speaks (or writes) to you and it has become embarrassing to correct him, so I let it go.

So, when I got on the elevator this morning and there was a man who looked vaguely familiar, and he said good morning Sasha, I knew it was the nice man from #704. I was idly wondering what it was he was carrying in his hands when he offered an explanation.

"I was just down in the laundry room"

Okay, it wasn't much of an explanation, but by now I recognized the small appliance.

"It is just so noisy, and I don't want to wake my wife" he further explained "so I take the coffee grinder down to the laundry room to grind the beans".

Is that not the sweetest thing?

Yes, waking to the smell of fresh ground coffee is certainly preferable to hearing the fresh grinding.

And waking to George Clooney's smiling face can make the day brighter.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

greenhouse gardens

The area I live in is called The Golden Horseshoe, which wraps around the very western tip of Lake Ontario from Niagara to Toronto and beyond in the shape of a horseshoe. It is the most densely populated area in Ontario and has about 20% of the population of Canada as a whole. It is also the most industrialized, though the land here has been claimed to be the best fruit growing soil in all of Ontario. Burlington used to be full of farms and fruit trees (especially apples) and there were many greenhouses, both retail and wholesale.

I don't remember how many wholesale greenhouses were still around when I moved here, but one by one they have all fallen to developers.
Now there is only one left within the city.

This is all that is left of the Unsworth Greenhouses

with the paneless wooden frames decorating the front of the old farmhouse

Although, I am sure the age of the growers had as much to do with the selling off as the value of the land on which they sat.
having wandered inside this Gracious Retirement Living centre that replaced the greenhouses (since I used their parking lot so I could take the pictures, I thought it only proper to pay them an informal visit) I am now reviewing my retirement plans and savings.....

another in my ABC's Wednesday of where I live

Monday, February 27, 2012

grave post #9

I went back to the cemetery of the Holy Sepulchre. It was too windy to take photos outside, so I went inside the columbarium. This place is huge. Here is but one of the several chapels.
I wandered and read and tried to take photos ... then tried not to get lost. Then tried to avoid the mourners of a funeral in another chapel that seemed to have ended.
I was looking for some familiar names and found one, though I have no idea if he is connected to the Commisso's who used to own a chain of grocery stores in this area. There were birthday cards and fresh flowers left for him.
I never grew up with grandparents or grave site visits, so the whole idea feels odd to me. And yet so touching.

Particularly, this family's idea, with recipe cards for writing notes.
To see other grave notes, wander over to Taphophile Tragics

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sunday Stamps

lepus arcticus aka arctic hare or polar rabbit 
they look like rabbits but have shorter ears and can stand up taller and are adapted to live in the tundra regions of Greenland and northernmost parts of Canada, like Labrador and Nunavut. this is another in the cute baby animals series Canada is producing

lepus europaeus aka brown hare, eastern jackrabbit
is adapted to the temperate, open country of northern, central and eastern Europe and western Asia, which could be why both Russia and Belarus have honoured him on their stamps.

Since Viridian gave us a choice of anything we wanted, I am dedicating this theme for Maggie May who asked last week "where are the rabbits"?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

where I succumb to the power of suggestion

The other day, Nora posted a picture on her blog. It was an innocuous photo, that had nothing to do with her post. She did mention to me that she had thought of me as she put it in her post after I wrote to her saying I now needed to go out and buy the product. The picture was of a litre carton of a Dutch custard called vla, nicely place in a lush green field. (I'd also like that green field, but apparently a snow storm is on its way). Vla comes in various flavours, like chocolate and banana, but by far the best flavour is vanilla.

I was introduced to vla when I lived in Holland many, many years ago. The family I was billeted with for for my first six months introduced me to many of the common Dutch foods, which had I been staying on my own (as I was for the rest of my time there) I would never had known about. Every night they had yogourt for dessert. every freaking night. This was back in the late 1970s and yoghourt was not as much of a staple food yet. It was also very different than any yogourt that we had in Canada. This was plain yogourt and not sweetened in any way and it had an entirely different consistency. We added our own sugar, which were large granules. Having been used to only refined sugar, these granules were a wonderfully tasty novelty and I added lots of them to my yoghourt. Then, one night a boat of this custard appeared on the table along with the bowl of yoghourt. Not being sure what the custom was, I watched as everyone spooned up the yoghourt into their plates (I seem to remember we used plates instead of bowls) and then poured a dollop of this custard on top. Then they gently swirled it all together. I followed suit. Yummy. Or to use the Dutch vernacular, lekker. Who would have ever thought of mixing custard and yoghourt together? The correct proportion of vla to yoghourt will yield a delectable flavour burst of tart and sweet.

It has become comfort food to me now, second only to warm rice pudding.

But Nora also asked, ever so innocently, in her email if, when I went to the Dutch Shop, I would also buy hagelslag, which are chocolate sprinkles. I hadn't planned on it. I have almost gotten myself sick of chocolate and Nutella over the Christmas season.
But then, I thought about how good that would be, on fresh, white bread with a thick layer of butter holding all the little sprinkles in place....

except I came home and realized I only had rye bread. and no plain yoghourt.

no worries.
I've been under the weather, I deserve comforting

thanks, Nora.
now I will just try to not think about how much I paid for this treat
(4.47 euros - go ahead, break my heart and tell me how much it really costs)

I tend not to look at too many of the items in this store since everything but the fresh foods is imported, it tends to be rather expensive. And pretty much everything of the other kitchen supplies you can now get here and not only in Europe. Except for this one thing I have been searching for in vain for years.

and there, on top of the deli counter, for some inexplicable reason was a jar full of these.

This must be the best kitchen utensil since the spoon - a flessenlikker, literally a bottle licker.

And on the link I added for the wikipedia explanation of vla I discovered that this implement was actually designed to get all that liquidy goodness out of the tall glass bottles it originally came in. Unfortunately, vla now comes in cartons which still makes getting all of it out difficult. Apparently it is almost unknown outside the Netherlands. I can't wait until I need it to scrape the sides of the Nutella jar.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From Me To You

a new video from Burlington's very own fantastic five ensemble Walk off the Earth

who also brought you this

visit ABCWednesday to see what else is from us to you

Monday, February 20, 2012

grave post #8

another shot from my snowy grave visit
hőseink emlékének         Commemorating our Heroes

To Commemorate Those Who Never Surrendered 

Hungarian Memorial

for other grave memorials, visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Stamps

The theme this week is animals as pets. So I have brought my box of postcards upstairs where I am cat sitting and watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on a big screen TV. In HD.
Who knew there could be so many different breeds of dogs?

So you'd think there would be more dogs on stamps....
but this is the only one I found, and he looks so sad.

as does this cat, though I guess he was instructed to look sad as he is from the animal rescue...

then we have these kitties doing the gazing upward and posing thing 
from in Taiwan 

and the Siamese cat staring with her bright blue eyes from China
but surely, this is the best pet to have...
a domestic white goose to take you on adventures as happens in The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlof, a Swedish author of children's books. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

See more pets by looking into Viridian's blog

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Emma's at the Estaminet

The Estaminet building is the longest running restaurant in Ontario. It first opened in 1910 by Emma Byrens and her husband, George. It has changed hands many times but since 1992 has been known as Emma's Back Porch.

There have been many fights discussions about the street where this restaurant sits, along with about a half dozen other not so historical buildings and developers wishing to tear them all down and build condos. It was a relief when the Estaminet Building was granted heritage status - and soon after, much needed renovations began.

One of the beauties of this location is its proximity to the waterfront with a big patio looking out over the lake. But, it is a sports bar so the inside is what you might expect. And packed with people during sporting events and weekends. The Water Street Cooker located in the upper level is a complete change of pace with an upscale dining experience which I can't afford.

After going to several of the Save Our Waterfront meetings, one thing I learned is that if you pronounce the name wrong - and many people do - some life long Burlington resident will tsk tsk under her breath that it is esta'-min-et not e-sta'-mi-net (fr: e-stä-mē-ˈnā) a French word meaning a small (and sometimes shabby) cafe selling beer, wine as well as coffee and snacks. It may have been the same person, now that I think about it (and it always seemed to be a she), but at every meeting, it happened.

Another experience of Burlington through the alphabet for ABC Wednesday

Monday, February 13, 2012

grave post #7

A few months ago I was taking a scenic route home and decided to stop off in Kleinburg, a small town north of Toronto. It is a pretty setting, in between two branches of the Humber River with lots of hills. It is mostly known for being the home of the McMichael Gallery specializing in Canadian art, specifically the Group of Seven, but that will be for another post.
This post shows a rather quiet and unpretentious connection to history with this marker I found at the top of a hill beside a particularly nice house I wanted to photograph.

Who could possibly know that from this young couple a son would be born who would one day become one of the country's greatest Prime Ministers?

The church is no longer there, but up on the hill was a wall with several grave markers inserted

It wasn't until I had walked around taking random photos of the markers that I looked at it as a whole and realized the shape of the raised bed

was in a very large cross. 

it was tricky getting it all in one good shot, but I have managed to get an aerial view from googlemaps.

View Larger Map

and as an added bit of trivia and historical connection... February 15th will be the 47th anniversary of the Maple Leaf flag of Canada. It was Lester B Pearson who appointed a committee to resolve the issue of the flag debate and they were given 6 weeks to do so. The Maple Leaf we know today replaced the Red Ensign that had been the flag used by the government after WWII but which was never adopted as an official flag.

Check out Taphophile Tragics for more grave issues from the past.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Stamps

I haven't really been feeling much love this week, preferring instead to wrap myself in a warm comforter and lay down with a mug of some steaming hot tea beside me

 and missing my own dear Abby when I got this card earlier last week showing such love...

...dreaming of being in being in the City of Love when I got this postcard on Friday

so I dug through my collection to find some love...
and found this one from Japan (not on the same card as above)

and then there are these two LOVE stamps from the US
and there was the Slovenija stamp with love, but I showed that already but you can go here to see it again.
Find some more love at Viridian's Postcard Blog

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

downtown directions

continuing with my series of discovering Burlington through the alphabet, we have signs for DOWNTOWN.  first up, we have this gateway sign on Brant Street letting you know you are now DOWNTOWN. there are two of them that have been around for about three years or so.

then, just in the past few months, these signs started appearing at various intersections.
to be honest, I am not sure what the blue, green and yellow represent.
the really astute among you will notice that the Visitor Information is represented by a blue strip on one sign, but a yellow one on the other. City Hall is yellow on one and blue on the other. Central Park is green, so I guess that is meant for parks, except that the Waterfront, which is also a park, is not green
I find them really confusing, especially the one on the right as it seems to direct you in a direction that is not the most direct (especially for a cyclist and these are on the bike path as it crosses side streets) and once you have gone to the end of the street that is in the wrong direction (unless you were driving) there is not another sign that tells you to turn right. at the moment it would be easier to continue across the street and cut through the parking lots to get to the next intersection that will take you right to all the places listed here.
if you were in doubt, you could check the map that is also made available. I do wonder why these were thought necessary. maybe it will be for all the new people who will be moving into the condos being built

ABC Wednesday
signs, signs

Monday, February 6, 2012

grave post #6

 This is St Luke's Anglican Church, the first Anglican Church in Halton County. 
St. Luke's is the oldest church in Burlington. The land on which St. Luke's is built was given to Joseph Brant, the famous Native leader, for his services to British-Canadian forces during the American Revolution. Brant, who had been an Anglican since the age of twenty, gave the land to his daughter, Elizabeth, who in turn donated it for the construction of a church, the first of its kind in the area.

Some of the older headstones in the graveyard are in pretty rough shape, but with some, attempts have been made to keep them upright
there are even a few that have birth dates from the 1700s - a rarity in these parts and exciting to find!
an interesting observation is the lack of a surname on Elizabeth's and Sarah's markers - they are listed as being the "wife of"
it also looks as if the stones for both couples were done by different carvers. note the inconsistency of the upper and lower case in Elizabeth's marker and the different styles of dates for the Chisholms' and the variety of fonts on Sarah's marker

for other grave observations, head over to Taphophile Tragics