5 Circular Art Works To See

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope you’re well and in the mood to see something new. Remember last month I took you on a virtual walk to see several Wave-themed art works? This week on one of my walks, I looked for art works with a Circular theme or a ripple effect to make my walk more interesting.

I’m sharing five sculptures and murals in alpha order of the artist’s last name. Let’s see if you can spot the circles or circular motion in the photos below.

Toronto Twister from A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres

Toronto Twister, 2017, Alice Aycock.

Designed by Alice Aycock, the Toronto Twister from A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres for Pier 27 (2017) is one of my favourite sculptures. It’s made of aluminum powder coated white structural steel. The white colour stands out against the blue backdrop of the lake on a sunny day.

The Toronto Twister from A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres for Pier 27, 2017, Alice Aycock.

The Twister is 25 feet tall at its highest point. Behind it is a series of whirlpool field manoeuvres that look like giant flowers. I love the sense of strength and movements in this installation.

Between the Eyes

Between The Eye, 1990, Richard Deacon.

Designed by Richard Deacon, the giant Between the Eyes sculpture (1990) is made of zinc sprayed steel, stainless steel, cement, and granite face base. I used to think of it as two whisks joined in the middle.

Between the Eye, 1990, Richard Deacon.

For a hard steel structure, the curves did give me a sense of plasticity. On this sunny day, I approached the sculpture from two different angles, looking south to the lake and looking east through the end circle.

Metropolis

Metropolis nail mural, 1977, David Gerry Partridge.

Designed by David Gerry Partridge, the Metropolis nail mural (1977) is one of the most popular attractions in the lobby of Toronto City Hall. The mural consists of nine panels made of aluminum sheathing over plywood, with over 100,000 copper and galvanized nails. Yes, nails!

Side view of Metropolis nail mural, 1977, David Gerry Partridge.

I love Partridge’s unique sculpture technique using nails to design the Metropolis mural. Partridge passed away at age 87 in 2006 so this mural is one of his legacy art works in Canada.

Nautilus Gateway

The Nautilus Gateway, 1992, Judith Schwarz.
Shadow of the Nautilus Gateway, 1992, Judith Schwarz.

Designed by Judith Schwarz, the Nautilus Gateway (1992) is a steel and bronze sculpture. Schwarz, a Canadian visual artist, has created public commissions in both Vancouver and Toronto, Canada. I like both the sculpture and its shadow on the sidewalk.

Heavenly Waters

Heavenly Waters mural, 1997, Wyland.

Designed by the artist Wyland, the Heavenly Waters mural (1997) was #70 in Wyland’s Whaling Wall series of outdoor art. He started painting the series in the 80s and finished his 100th mural in June 2008 to share his love of marine life with 100 communities around the world.

I’m thrilled that Toronto has one of Wyland’s murals at an unusual location. It’s on the side of the Redpath Sugar Factory. On the left of the above photo is where big ships dock to load or unload sugar.

I love the circular movements of the whales and how the water colour gets darker in the depth of the ocean. The Heavenly Waters mural reminded me of the real whales I saw on Canada’s West Coast last September. Very happy memories!

Whales in British Columbia.

I’m grateful for a sunny day, a nice walk, and interesting visual arts. The experience makes me smile and feel positive. Thank you for coming along with me. I hope you enjoy the circular-themed art works through my lens.

How did your week go? What makes your day interesting? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. Forrest Gump’s expression “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” came to my mind this week. If we were having coffee or tea, I’d share what made me smile and feel positive since my Trumpeter swan sightings last week.

It’s also time for the fourth Wellness Weekend link-up in 2020. The optional prompt is Water Sports. I hope you join me and my blogger friend, Leslie, to share what helps you stay healthy these days.

Family and Friends

I did my round of calls, email, and texts to my family, friends, and neighbours. Everyone has a story and I’m listening. Sharing our thoughts and updates was like sharing a box of chocolates. We were able to make each other smile or laugh out loud. I feel grateful that I’m with a group of optimistic people and everyone is well so far.

Three crocus colours

Family members and friends who are working shared their experience of working from home or how their employers arranged for physical distancing in the workplace. My nieces and nephews who are students shared their online learning experience and social life while schools are still closed. Friends who care for elderly parents shared how they’re managing it. My neighbours shared their early “senior hour” shopping experience.

Health

I’ve been diligent about my fitness routine to keep me emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy. Here’s what I do to stay calm and feel positive:

  • Daily meditation, 15 minutes/ day.
  • Deep breathing at meditation, yoga, bedtime, or any time.
  • Outdoor walks with physical distancing 5-6x/ week, one hour each time.
  • Strengthening workouts 3x/ week, one hour each time.
  • Yoga 3x/ week, one hour each time.
Gulls by the lake

My outdoor walks are like a box of decadent chocolates. I love my time by the lake where I see open space, hear the sounds of water and bird life, and feel what the weather brings. The birds and waterfowl are very active. Their antics and conversations made me smile.

Nature

Tulips

Nature continues to show her best in spring time and delight me with her transformation from one day to the next. Daffodils and tulips started to bloom this week, adding more colours to the existing crocuses and hyacinths. I feel grateful to be able to walk outdoors with my senses all engaged.

A bunny

Oh, I spotted a bunny in a bush. S/he moved slowly around for a while before hopping away. I live near the centre of the busiest city in Canada so seeing bunny in the wild is a rare sighting that made me smile. I usually see them in the suburbs or more rural areas.

Shopping

Grocery shopping has been like a box of chocolates. The grocery stores continue to tweak their directional signs, the queue location, and in-store procedures so every trip is a mini-adventure. The stock inventories are inconsistent. I never know what I’m going to bring home with me.

Basmati rice bag

Example: No long grain rice from Thailand? Buy Basmati rice from India. I’ve never had such a colourful rice bag with a zippered top before. Now I own one. The rice was good, and I have two rice brands to choose in the future. I feel grateful to be home in my familiar surroundings while having opportunities to try food products from faraway places.

Water Sports

Being close to one of the Great Lakes means I’m close to popular outdoor water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, power boating, and stand-up paddling. The season usually starts in May and ends in late September.

Canoes and kayaks

The bright colours of the canoes and kayaks made me smile. They look like cheerful chocolate wrappings. Even though it’s still chilly to be out in the lake at this time of the year, the canoes and kayaks lying in the sun are like a promise of the summer fun to come. Something to look forward to.

How did your week go? What helps you stay healthy? I’d love to hear your comments.

Click here to join the Wellness Weekend link up and share your wellness updates.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Life and Trumpeter Swan Sightings

Trumpeter swans

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. In my March Wrap-Up post, I wrote about keeping a routine. This week I took a few cues from nature and mapped out a number of activities that made me smile and feel positive.

Family and Friends

Three sparrows

Nature: Three sparrows stood on a wooden handrail and chirped almost non-stop to share their news. They were so busy “talking”, they let me take a group photo. Their brown feathers blend them well with their habitat.

Me: I made my round of phone calls and texts to touch base with my family and friends. Wished one of my dear friends a happy birthday. Sent an email to my friend in Finland. Had a fun virtual party with my extended family, and a good phone conversation with my cousin who lives in France to share updates. Also did hand clapping every evening at 7 PM to show my support for the essential health care professionals and front line workers.

Health

Canada geese and ducks

Nature: Two Canada geese and two ducks swam happily in the calm harbour. They are exercising or meditating while physical distancing, LOL.

Me: I did my daily meditation, three yoga sessions, and three workouts at home using my own body weight and a Theraband resistance band. Also did short walks outdoors by the lake when there was no one around, just the birds.

Leisure

Nature: A variety of spring flowers are showing up in different colours, shapes, and sizes. Each is pretty on their own. The skies change daily, from clear and sunny to clouds and short showers. Why not try different leisure activities?

Me: Nature is my endless source of art and inspiration for sure. What else did I do from home and all for free?

  • Visited art exhibits at the Virtual Museum of Canada.
  • Wrote one blog post to wrap up March.
  • Read the thought-provoking Dear Life book by Alice Munro.
  • Took daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo.
  • Watched Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterwork in The Gold Rush movie.
  • Watched the amazing Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre (Russia’s most famous theatre).
  • Watched an incredible Cirque du Soleil Premier show at CirqueConnect.

Trumpeter Swan Sightings

About ten days ago, when I was at the Toronto lakefront, I saw two Trumpeter swans flew by and heard their call to each other. This week I got to see them up close in the marina, right under my feet. Their black bills distinguish them from other species. I saw the tags, P24 and T63, on their wings.

The bright yellow numbered wing tags mean the Trumpeters are from Ontario. They are tagged by volunteers, often when on their winter feeding grounds. The two swans lingered near me for a while then swam away gracefully.

Two Trumpeter swans

Did you know that the Trumpeter swan is North America’s largest wild waterfowl and that it was almost driven to extinction early in the 20th century? The All About Birds web site gives an excellent overview of Trumpeter swan and clear audio of their unique sound.

Biologist Harry Lumsden began a provincial reintroduction program in the early 1980’s to re-establish the Trumpeter swan population in Ontario. With a lot of staff and volunteer efforts, the restoration of the Trumpeter swan in its former habitat and range has yielded good results.

I consider myself fortunate to be so close to these magnificent birds and to spend a few moments captivated by the sights and sounds of a pair of Trumpeter swans. They made me smile and gave my week a nice ending.

How did your week go? What wildlife have you seen recently? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

March Wrap-Up

Hello blog friends

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. March started smoothly for me for the first twelve days, then on Friday March 13, things started to change rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the grim news unfolded around the world, I felt grateful to be home with my family. We made adjustments to our routine and prepared to stay in for the long haul.

I chose my photo of a row of colourful Muskoka chairs in the sun as the header image for this post. The sunshine is welcoming, and these chairs provide relaxation. Imagine we’re gathering in a wide circle for a coffee chat and it’s my turn to share my month of March with you.

Family and Friends

I’m grateful that my family is well, I’m well, and my friends are all well so far. We stay in touch by phone, text, or email as usual. There were two family birthdays and my friend’s mother turned 94 in March. I made sure to say happy birthday to all three.

Keeping A Routine

On or around March 13, we started receiving daily updates and urgent news about the virus spread in Canada, Ontario, and Toronto. The government started closing public schools, libraries, community centres, borders, etc. and advised people to stay home and keep a safe physical distance from others to slow the spread of the virus. More restrictions came as March progressed.

Since I had planned to be in Spain for the last two weeks of March, my home calendar from March 16 to 31 was blank. After my flights were cancelled, I decided to keep the routine that I had before the pandemic, with some adjustments due to the circumstances. I feel that this structure gives the day purpose, adds positivity to the day, makes it possible to manage time, and gives me a sense of achievement.

Lake view

Health

Throughout March, I continued with my health activities and felt good. This included daily meditation, outdoor walks, strengthening workouts, and yoga. I also kept my bedtime to get about 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and greeted each morning with a smile.

When the gym, yoga classes, and swimming pool were closed, I moved my exercises to my living room and alternated the dates: Strength workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Yoga on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I used my body weight and a resistance band for my workouts. I did shorter walks outdoors while practicing physical distancing and stayed closer to home.

Arts

Before March 13, I viewed three interesting glass art exhibits by Nadira Narine, Jared Last, Rob Raeside, and one clay and porcelain exhibit by Amber Zuber.

After all non-essential businesses were closed, I viewed public art that are available on my outdoor walks. Spring has arrived and nature provides subtle beauty everywhere I look.

Purple croci

Blogs

I wrote five blog posts in March, hosted the March Wellness Weekend link-up, and maintained my usual blogging connections. I also did the monthly back-up of my blog content and media. What’s new was an interview that I did for one of my blogger friends. It’s to be published in May so watch this space.

Books

I read six books in March: Celestial Bodies, Bad Move, Elevator Pitch, Love Walked In, A Better Man, and Snowmen. The list of the eighteen books I read in the first quarter of 2020 is here.

Home

Since I had planned to be in Spain for the last half of March, I didn’t do grocery shopping before mid-March. As a result, after my trip was cancelled, it took me several visits to the different supermarkets to get our usual groceries. Fresh produce was fine while some dry goods were sold out.

My local grocery stores started adding more sanitizing stations, redirecting incoming shoppers, placing markers on the floors for physical distancing, more frequent disinfecting of common surfaces, and reducing opening hours.

With the extra time gained from not going to any event, I experimented with two recipes: clafoutis and sugar-free banana muffins. I used blueberries for the clafoutis instead of cherries. Both recipes turned out delicious and I’d make them again. My thank-you to Suzanne and Malcolm at Picture Retirement blog for sharing the banana muffin recipe.

Learning

I continued my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. It’s part of my “keeping a routine” strategy. There is no excuse to lose my streak of daily lessons while I’m healthy at home.

Movies

Before March 13, I watched one good movie, Jojo Rabbit, with my neighbours. After March 13, we postponed our movie nights until further notice. Surprisingly, I haven’t had to reach out for any movie DVDs yet.

Music

Before concert halls were closed, I attended two wonderful classical piano recitals, one by the highly-gifted 9 year-old Sunny Ritter from Austria and the other by Lisa Tahara, Jayne Abe, and Victoria Yuan who played amazing two hands, four hands, and six hands piano.

Sunny Ritter

Travel

I had five trip cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Spain in March, two in Ontario in April, Iceland in May, and California also in May. No sadness though because the best place to be during these turbulent times is Home.

The airlines, hotels, and rail company that I dealt with have been great with updates and automated cancellation process on their web sites. I’m grateful to receive either full refunds or travel credits for all five trips via electronic means with no phone call or in-person wait times.

Volunteering

Earlier this year I had signed up to volunteer at two running race events, one in March and one in early May. The organizers had to cancel both events. After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, I volunteered to call my elderly neighbours to chat. We’ve also been doing hand clapping or pot banging from our homes at 7 PM every evening to show our support for front line health care and other essential workers.

So that was my March. Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

31 Things I’m Grateful For in March

Duck in a calm lake

March was such a turbulent month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Where I live, event cancellations, business closures, and school closures have been happening since March 13 to slow the spread of the virus.

The Province of Ontario has ordered all non-essential businesses to close since March 25 until further notice. The City of Toronto has cancelled all events and festivals until June 30. This means my family and I are prepared to live our new “normal” in a much quieter city for the long haul.

I had planned a trip to Spain, leaving on March 16. Fortunately, the airlines cancelled my flights on March 12 and gave me full refunds. I was able to cancel my hotel bookings without penalty. I’ve been feeling grateful every day.

Since March has thirty one days, I thought I’d list 31 things that I’m grateful for:

  1. Being at home.
  2. Being healthy.
  3. My family: Everyone is well.
  4. My friends: Everyone is well.
  5. Access to clean water, fresh food, and a warm home.
  6. Access to a phone, a computer, electricity, and internet service.
  7. Quiet time to reflect.
  8. Opportunities to cheer up my friends.
  9. Opportunities to help my elderly neighbours.
  10. The first signs of Spring, a new season.
  11. The trail by Lake Ontario.
  12. Outdoor walks to exercise.
  13. The changing weather: sun, clouds, and rain.
  14. The clear blue skies.
  15. The sounds from birds, ducks, and swans.
  16. The warmth of the sun on my back.
  17. The soft petals of spring flowers.
  18. Meditation time.
  19. My resistance band for strengthening exercises.
  20. Yoga practice time.
  21. Free public art to view.
  22. My blogging community.
  23. Books to read.
  24. Free online concerts to listen to.
  25. Free online shows to watch.
  26. Free online courses to take.
  27. New recipes to try.
  28. Home-made meals with my family.
  29. Being an introvert.
  30. My morning coffee.
  31. My afternoon tea.

Every item on my list makes me feel calm and smile.

Thank you, my blog friends, for reading. I hope you and your loved ones are in good health and are adjusting well to the current situation. I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

2020 Reading: First Update

Greetings! I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping a healthy routine. While at home this week, I took an inventory of what I’ve read in the first three months of 2020. I use the Toronto Public Library 2020 Reading Challenge as a guideline to read more widely and add a few categories on my own to make my reading more interesting.

Last year I read thirty two books in the first half and thirty books in the second half of 2019, or 62 books in total. This year I had set a modest reading goal of 36 books because I was planning to travel frequently. Well, with the COVID-19 pandemic and travel cancellations, I may be able to read more than 36 books after all.

Here’s a look at my year-to-date reading listed by author’s last name:

  1. Celestial Bodies, Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth.
  2. Wherever She Goes, K.L. Armstrong.
  3. Bad Move, Linwood Barclay.
  4. Elevator Pitch, Linwood Barclay.
  5. Stand On The Sky, Erin Bow.
  6. Love Walked In, Marisa De Los Santos.
  7. Bone Black, Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  8. At The Mountain’s Edge, Genevieve Graham.
  9. Comics Will Break Your Heart, Faith Erin Hicks.
  10. And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini.
  11. The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary.
  12. A Better Man, Louise Penny.
  13. Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  14. Snowmen, Mark Sedore.
  15. The Art of Racing in The Rain, Garth Stein.
  16. 26 Knots, Bindu Suresh.
  17. A Delhi Obsession, M.G. Vassanji.
  18. Starlight, Richard Wagamese.

Number of books read: Eighteen books from January to March 2020.

A book originally written in a language other than my first language: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth. Altharthi makes literary history as the first female Omani author to be translated into English and as author of the first novel written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize 2019. She shares that extraordinary success with translator and Oxford professor Booth.

A book by an Indigenous author: Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle, and Starlight by Richard Wagamese.

A book that made me laugh: Bad Move by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star, a Canadian daily newspaper. I used to read his column and enjoy his humourous writing style.

A book under 200 pages long: 26 Knots by Bindu Suresh at 151 pages and Snowmen by Mark Sedore at 170 pages.

A book over 450 pages long: Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay at 453 pages.

A book for young adults: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks and Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.

A book to be made into a mini TV series: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A book with a dog’s view of life: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

A book written in three days: Snowmen by Mark Sedore. This is Sedore’s first published novel and the winner of the 32nd Annual International 3-Day Novel Contest.

A book that took me to other places in Canada:

  • British Columbia: Starlight by Richard Wagamese.
  • Nova Scotia: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.
  • Quebec: 26 Knots by Bindu Surash and A Better Man by Louise Penny.
  • Saskatchewan: Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  • The Arctic Circle from Canada to Russia: Snowmen by Mark Sedore.
  • The Yukon: At The Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham.

A book that took me overseas:

  • Afghanistan: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
  • India: A Delhi Obsession by M.G. Vassanji.
  • Mongolia: Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.
  • Oman: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.
  • The United Kingdom: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto library branches have been closed since March 13 until further notice. I look forward to picking up a few books that have been on hold for me when the library reopens. In the meantime, I have a few books at home waiting to be read. Knowing that makes me smile.

What about you? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Fit And Fun Walk: Waves

Greetings! This week I took a cue from Mother Nature and decided to do a Wave-themed walk to photograph wave-themed artwork that has been installed in the last ten years in downtown Toronto. The city has been growing so there are always new things to discover. On this beautiful sunny day let me share some interesting artwork with you.

The Real Waves

Here we are at the start of Yonge Street where the 0 km Toronto sign is located on the sidewalk. Yonge Street used to be listed as the longest street in the world in the Guinness World Records until 1999. Can you see the small waves in Lake Ontario and the shadow of the curved railings?

Waves at the start of Yonge Street and in Lake Ontario
Waves at the start of Yonge Street and in Lake Ontario

The WaveDecks

Further west along the waterfront there are three WaveDecks named Simcoe WaveDeck, Rees WaveDeck, and Spadina WaveDeck. The WaveDecks are meant to give urban dwellers a feel for life at the lake.

Simcoe WaveDeck opened in June 2009. The design of this and the other WaveDecks was inspired by the shoreline of Ontario’s great lakes and the Canadian cottage experience.

View of Simcoe WaveDeck from the lake
View of Simcoe WaveDeck from the lake
Street view of Simcoe WaveDeck
Street view of Simcoe WaveDeck

Rees WaveDeck opened in July 2009. The wavy benches and wooden path are right by a small marina where canoes, kayaks, and sailboats launch in late spring through to fall.

Street view of Rees WaveDeck
Street view of Rees WaveDeck

Spadina WaveDeck opened in September 2008. It has received numerous design awards. On a spring day, it’s nice to sit on the curved bench facing the lake while mallards and ducks swim below our feet.

View of Spadina WaveDeck from the lake
View of Spadina WaveDeck from the lake

Wave Side Sculpture

From Spadina WaveDeck, we head north west to see the Wave Side sculpture designed by Toronto-based artists, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins. This artwork was made of stainless steel and was installed in 2011. It references a wake of waves, the ribs of a ship, and the shape of the waves inspired by ship curves.

Wave Side, 2011 by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins
Wave Side, 2011 by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins

Shoreline Sculpture

Now we head east to see the Shoreline Commemorative sculpture designed by Paul Raff, a Canadian architect and artist. This artwork was made of glass, bronze, limestone, and sandblasted brick and installed in 2014.

The text on the red brick wall states: “For 10,000 years this was the location of Lake Ontario’s shoreline. This brick wall stands where water and land met with a vista of horizon”.

Shoreline Commemorative, 2014 by Paul Raff
Shoreline Commemorative, 2014 by Paul Raff

Why Do These Waves Make Me Smile?

  • They are accessible and free to the public.
  • They enhance the public space appearance.
  • They soften the angles of concrete buildings.
  • They connect the land and the lake.
  • They are about water movements and water is essential for life.

I hope that despite the grim pandemic news you continue to stay healthy and find bits of joy in your day. I also hope you enjoy the virtual walk with me and find the artwork through my lens interesting. Be well!

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Looking Forward to Spring

Hello and welcome to the third Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020! I hope that despite the grim COVID-19 pandemic news, the new season entices you to do something that brings you joy. The link-up optional prompt is Spring Forward so I’m sharing the 5 things that I look forward to in Spring.

5 things I look forward to in Spring

1) Sunny days, longer daylight hours, and milder temperatures: On Sunday March 8, we started daylight saving time and moved our clock forward an hour. We had some gorgeous sunny days this week, with high temperatures reached 14C (57F). Although it was still on the cool side for the rest of the week, it felt very nice for outdoor walks.

A sunny day by Lake Ontario
A sunny day by Lake Ontario

2) Spring flowers in local florist shops and gardens: During one of my walks this week, I saw potted camellias, daffodils, forsythia, and tulips for sale at some of the local shops. Soon we’ll have pansies, cherry blossoms, and more spring flowers in our local gardens and parks. They bring cheerful colours to the city which has been mostly white or in muted colours throughout the winter.

Pink and highly fragrant Camellia Lutchuensis
Pink and highly fragrant Camellia Lutchuensis

3) Bird watching: We have a lot of mallards, ducks, swans, and Canada geese in Toronto Harbour. The long-tailed ducks are fun to watch as they dip and stay under water for a long time before popping up. The red-winged blackbirds have returned with their vocal chorus. Soon they’ll be nesting and become aggressive to anyone who goes near their nests. Bird watching will then take on a slightly different meaning 🙂

Mallards and American black ducks
Mallards and American black ducks

4) Spring outdoor activities: Time to swap skates and skis for wheels like bicycles or roller blades. I look forward to cycling and heading out on one of the dedicated bike paths in the city. Spring is an excellent time for cycling before the hot and humid summer weather arrives.

Bike Share Station
Bike Share Station

5) Syrup, the sweetest sap, as in Maple Syrup: As winter wanes, maple trees’ sap starts to flow and the maple syrup harvest can begin. Throughout March we have festivals to celebrate one of Canada’s tastiest exports – maple syrup. Many public events unfortunately got cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, I look forward to enjoying one of the maple lattes at Second Cup Coffee, a Canadian coffee retailer and roaster.

Maple Fresh Coffee Brew, Maple Latte, and Maple White Hot Chocolate
Maple Fresh Coffee Brew, Maple Latte, and Maple White Hot Chocolate

Click here to join in on the fun and share your wellness-related post, or let me know what you’re looking forward to in spring. I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Glass Vessels That Bring Joy

During one of my recent walks in the city, I stopped by Harbourfront Centre to see an art exhibit of glass vessels. Glass vessels have been so integral in our lives. It’s hard to imagine what we would do without them: Drinking glasses hold our water and wine, vases beautifully display flowers, bowls contain tasty snacks, jars store our food, and bottles keep perfume and serum…Just to name a few.

At the exhibit, the work of two artists, Nadira Narine and Jared Last, caught my eyes. I’m sharing some photos of their collections. The items were displayed behind glass vitrines (another form of glass vessels?) so please excuse the glare and reflections in my photos.

Nadira Narine’s glass vases

At first glance, the vases look like they are made of clay but a closer look shows the beautiful glass work by Nadira Nadine. I like the warm colour combinations which likely come from her cultural roots as she was raised in Panama City, Panama.

Glass art by Nadira Narine

Her bio explained that she’s been living in Canada for the last seven years and she explores objects and memories from her childhood for the purpose of self-exploration and a sense of connection to home.

Glass art by Nadira Narine

Jared Last’s glass bowls

Jared Last’s bio explained that he’s a Toronto-based artist who has been working in glass since 2011. He holds a BFA in Glass from the Alberta College of Art and Design where he graduated with distinction in 2016.

Glass vessels by Jared Last

Jared’s glass bowls with deep colours and black wavy lines are eye catching. I think each of them is a conversation-starter. They reflect his interest in colour, pattern, architecture and the unique optical properties of glass to create both functional and sculptural works.

Glass vessels by Jared Last
Glass art by Jared Last

What made me smile when I viewed the exhibit?

  • The glass vessels are visually interesting with beautiful colours, designs, and shapes.
  • The displays give me ideas to arrange my own glass vessels at home: a single item, a pair, or a group of similar items.
  • I learn about the artists and their portfolios, and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.
  • Admission to the exhibit is free to the public, making art accessible to everyone.
  • The exhibit is on until June 7, 2020 which gives people lots of time to visit and revisit.

Here’s a glass bottle that I bought in Denmark during my travels. It continues to bring me joy:

My glass bottle from Denmark

What do you think of the exhibit? If you have a favourite glass vessel of your own, please feel free to share it in the Comments. Comments with links or images attached will be moderated.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

February Wrap-Up

February started off with a fun girls’ night-in at my place with my sister and nieces, followed by a wine and cheese party with my neighbours, several coffee dates and movie nights with my friends, and ended with a nice family getaway.

For our February girls’ night in, I prepared a three-course meal. My nieces played a few piano songs. We chatted and played Scrabble after dinner. We all had a lovely time and agreed to have the next get-together in April. I used to host big family parties. Now dinner for eight feels just right and I’m thankful to have a dishwasher!

In between the social gatherings, I completed all my health goals and enjoyed plenty of leisure activities. I keep track of the numbers for my own benefit. Details are below.

Arts

Mermaid ice sculpture

I viewed six visually interesting art exhibits:

  • IceFest 2020: An exhibit of about 35 amazing ice sculptures, with the theme Awesome 80s. I’ve shared some photos in my previous post and am sharing a few more of the ice sculptures in this post.
  • Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli. See Languages section below.
  • Building Black: Amorphia by Ekow Nimako. The exhibit comprised of eight West African masks made by over 50,000 black Lego pieces.
  • Colin Kaepernick Wants You to Know Your Rights exhibit: An exclusive Canadian debut public art installation, courtesy of Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, featuring freedom fighters representing the organization’s beliefs, from athletes to activists to lawyers, scholars and actors.
  • Making of A Legend – Works by D’Wayne Edwards: This exhibit is made up of Edwards’ signature footwear designs for athletic companies such as Nike and Air Jordan and memorabilia.
  • Ascension Tech exhibit by Yung Yemi: A multimedia exhibition that explores ancient ancestral teachings and pays homage to African history.

Blogs

I did my monthly blog and media back-up, wrote four posts, and hosted the 2nd Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020:

The next Wellness Weekend link-up is on March 15. Optional prompt: Spring Forward. I hope you join in on the fun.

Books

Books I read in February

I enjoyed reading six fictional books which took me from the rock and roll scenes in Hollywood, to crime near Chicago, dramatic family life in Afghanistan, brave Kazakh eagle hunters in Mongolia, to adventures during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon, and how comics break a couple of young adults’ hearts in Nova Scotia. Love is beautifully woven throughout each story:

  • Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  • Wherever She Goes by K.L. Armstrong.
  • And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.
  • At The Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham.
  • Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.

Health

Nike shoe ice sculpture

I completed all my health goals, slept well, and feel great:

  • Greeted every new day with a smile.
  • Meditated 15 minutes daily, 29 times in February.
  • Made 25 walks outdoors, average 8 km (5 miles) each walk.
  • Did 12 strength workouts in the gym, one hour each.
  • Attended 8 yoga classes, one hour each. Our regular yoga teacher was on vacation for two weeks. We got a substitute teacher and it was refreshing to practice a new combination of yoga poses with her.
  • Went swimming 4 times, one hour each.
  • Had 4 full rest days.

Languages

Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli
Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli

One of the art exhibits that I viewed was the Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli. I found the characters interesting. From top left of the above photo and clockwise: Exaspericon, Snark marks, Shrug sign, Disinterest mark, Worried quotes, Awkward pause, Disgust mark, Skeptical quotes, Affecticon, Elaticon, and Angry quotes.

I continue to learn French and Spanish daily on Duolingo, 30 minutes each time. In addition, I learned a few new fun words from assorted online articles, such as kakeibo, a Japanese budgeting method, and clafoutis, a French dessert that I’d like to add to my baking repertoire.

Movies

E.T. ice sculpture

February was the month of Oscar awards so my neighbours and I enjoyed watching four good movie picks:

  • The Good Liar starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.
  • Ford v Ferrari starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon.
  • Parasite starring Kang-ho Song and Sun-kyun Lee.
  • Knives Out starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas.

Music

Elton John and Madonna ice sculptures

Aside from listening to music from the 80s played by live DJs at the Icefest 2020 event, I attended three jazz and piano concerts with my friends:

  • The Tanya Wills Jazz Quartet played an hour of beautiful jazz songs from great musicians such as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, and Edith Piaf.
  • Emily Chiang and Megan Chang played an hour of piano for four hands from Beethoven, Schumann and Gabriel Fauré.
  • The Bedford Trio: Alessia Disimino (violin), Andrew Ascenzo (cello), and Jialiang Zhu (piano) played an hour of music composed by Beethoven and Frank Bridge.

Travel

My family and I took a three-day getaway about an hour west of the city. We stayed in a hotel, ate out, and met up with our friends who live in the area. The weather was cool and sunny, without ice or snow on the ground so we enjoyed walking outdoors. Even though we didn’t go far, the change of routine was great. Relaxation replaced grocery shopping, home cleaning, meal prepping, etc.

Love & Peace ice sculpture

So that was my February. I’m grateful for another enriching month. How was yours? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.