A Medley of Colours

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #19! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

A week of sunshine, blue skies and pleasant temperatures meant more time outdoors and less time indoors. Let me show you in pictures a few nice things that I’ve seen. My photos start with neutral gray then get more colourful.

1. ActiveTO

The City of Toronto has launched the ActiveTO weekend road closures for 2021. Starting May 1, on weekends, a few routes will be closed to vehicles and open to cyclists and pedestrians. The objective is to make more space for people to get outside and exercise while practicing safe physical distancing.

The ActiveTO weekend road closures mean additional cycling and walking routes for me, yay! Before May, I cycle on weekdays and stay home on weekends. Now I go cycling on weekends as well while the weather is good.

2. Architecture

I visited two historic buildings on the same street and the street name is Toronto!

Toronto Street Post Office, also known as Toronto’s Seventh Post Office, was built in 1851-1853 in the Greek Revival style. It served as a post office until 1873 and as a government office building until 1937. It was then used by the Bank of Canada until 1959 and by investment businesses to date.

In 1958, the building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. In 2006, it was designated a Heritage building by the City of Toronto. The building was sold to Morgan Meighen & Associates, an independent Canadian investment manager, in 2006 for CA$14 million.

Toronto’s Post Office 1853-1873.

Consumers’ Gas Company Building: The Italianate/neo-Renaissance style Consumers’ Gas Building was first built in 1852, as the Consumers Gas company’s head office at 19 Toronto Street. The company remained in this location for 125 years.

Consumers' Gas Company Building.
Consumers’ Gas Company Building, 1852.

3. Gardens

May is a beautiful time to be in Toronto’s public gardens where many spring flowers bloom. See my sample below (and the painted flowers on Simcoe Murals).

4. Simcoe Murals

The lead artist, Tannis Nielsen, who is of Metis/Anishinaabe and Danish ancestry, began the murals at Lower Simcoe Street underpass in 2017 and welcomed young artists from Toronto’s Indigenous community and other members of the local community to help paint the final artwork. Simcoe Murals were officially unveiled in September 2019.

The Elder/Honour Wall, on the west side of the underpass, consists of 28 portraits of Indigenous Peoples named by the local community while honouring the Indigenous Elders and leaders of the local Toronto community. Colourful flowers and plants adorn this wall.

Click on any image in the gallery to see it bigger.

The Water Wall mural, on the east side of the underpass, is inspired by the work of Josephine Mandamin, an Anishabaabewe grandmother who has walked almost 18,000 kilometres around each of the Great Lakes in order to bring attention to the physical plight of the planet’s greatest resource, water.

Gray, black, white, blue and green dominate this wall. Click on any image in the gallery to see it bigger.

Water Wall, Simcoe Murals.

5. Lake Beach

I’ve been going to various lake beaches since March. The water is still too cold for swimming so the beaches are nice and quiet, except for natural sounds from the waves, the wind, and birds. Here I find soothing neutral colours from pebbles, water, and gray feathers on gulls.

A lake beach.
A lake beach.
A gull.
A ring-billed gull.

Lakes, trees, and rocks are common elements in Ontario landscape. The rocks vary from small pebbles to big boulders. Many of them have beautiful patterns in shades of gray, rose, orange, or amethyst. Amethyst is the official gemstone of Ontario with many amethyst clusters found around the area of Thunder Bay.

Looking for nice rocks is just as fun as looking for shells, then let the rock stacking begin.

Lake and rock tower.
Someone built this rock tower.

I’m grateful for a beautiful week.

Linked to #LifeThisWeek, #ThursdayDoors, #SundayStills.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

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The Upside of April

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #17! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It’s been a good week with my eclectic cycling and walking excursions. It’s also month end when I reflect on what’s been happening during the month. I’d like to share some of my photos on my blog and link to a few photography challenges.

1. Spring Flowers

This week is the peak bloom period of the Japanese Sakura or cherry blossoms in Toronto. The people of Tokyo gifted 2000 Sakura trees to the people of Toronto in 1959 and we’ve been enjoying the gorgeous cherry blossoms every spring since.

Cherry blossoms.

Magnolia trees are also blooming. It’s amazing to see the trees full of flowers.

Linked to Jude’s Pink colour challenge, Becky’s Bright Square and Cee’s Flower of The Day photo challenges.

2. Architecture

I visited the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, the oldest school still standing in Toronto and the first free school in the city. It was built in 1848 when it was known as the Ward Street School for immigrants’ children to attend. It is now a historic site and museum.

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 1848.
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 1848.

The school was a one-storey, red-brick building in the simple Gothic Revival style. The narrow peaked windows were trimmed with stone. The doors and window frames were painted green. Yellow bricks were inserted at the corners of the structure, around the main doorway, and in a solid multi-brick row near the roof line.

Click on any image in the following gallery to enlarge it.

Linked to Dan’s Thursday Doors photo challenge.

3. Sculpture

A trip downtown gave me the opportunity to revisit and photograph bronze sculptures that I like. Why photograph them again? Different time of day, different lighting, and different angles yield new results. Sometimes the art object is the same but its surroundings have changed.

Today’s picks: Immigrant Family honoring immigrant population in North America and The Anonymity of Prevention showing a worker working with a chisel and hammer with safety goggles.

Immigrant Family by Tom Otterness, 2007.
Immigrant Family, by Tom Otterness.
The Anonymity of Prevention, by Derek Lo and Lana Winkler, 2000.
The Anonymity of Prevention, by Derek Lo and Lana Winkler.

Linked to Sandy’s Friendly Friday: Hands & Feet photo challenge.

4. The Waterfront

One morning, on my way to Cherry Beach, I saw Toronto’s coolest new bridge over the Keating Channel. This area is under major developments and a few new bridges will be added in the next three years.

The Keating Channel is a 1 km long waterway in Toronto. It connects the Don River to inner Toronto Harbour on Lake Ontario. The channel is named after Edward Henry Keating, a city engineer who proposed the creation of the channel in 1893.

Cherry Street North Bridge.
Cherry Street North Bridge.

Toronto Harbour is where I take the ferry or kayak across the harbour to reach Toronto Islands for a good time and great views of Toronto skyline.

Lake Ontario shore line is 1,146 km or 712 miles long. I’m grateful for the many beaches that I can go to for fresh air and relaxation.

Linked to Terri’s Sunday Stills: Water photo challenge.

5. April Highlights

April started off with a province-wide lockdown until at least May 20. By April 29, vaccination has accelerated. Ontario anticipates all adults over 18 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by end of May. Here are my April highlights:

Health

  • I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • I feel fit from regular cycling, walking, body weight workouts, meditation, and yoga.
  • I stay optimistic in spite of the long lockdown.

Home

  • My sisters received their COVID-19 vaccines.
  • One niece got accepted into her first choice University with financial awards for her excellent grades.
  • Another niece and her boyfriend bought their first home and gave everyone in our family a virtual tour.

Leisure

In April I have…

Here’s the list of books I read this month with asterisk indicates new-to-me authors:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. *
  2. Cathedral – Raymond Carver. *
  3. Along for the Ride – Sarah Dessen.
  4. Someone Like You – Sarah Dessen.
  5. That Summer – Sarah Dessen.
  6. The Lost Man – Jane Harper. *
  7. The Other People – C.J. Tudor.

April was amazing. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I look forward to enjoying new explorations in May.

Linked to Denyse’s #LifeThisWeek.

How was your April? What are you looking forward to in May? I’d love to hear your comments.

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5 Themes For A Fun Week

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #12! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

The first week of Spring has been fantastic. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 12C to 20C (54F to 68F) with clear blue skies for most of the week. The mild and sunny days made all my outdoor activities enjoyable and me happy.

Here’s my 5 selected themes for a fun week:

1. Architecture

On sunny morning #1, I cycled to Queen Street West to visit several heritage-designated buildings. I’m sharing two of them with Thursday Doors photo challenge this week: Campbell House and Osgoode Hall. Click on my image gallery for more photos and history details.

Campbell House is the oldest remaining house from the original site of the Town of York, and is one of the few surviving examples of Georgian architecture left in Toronto. It was built in 1822 by Chief Justice William Campbell and his wife Hannah. It’s now a heritage house and museum owned by the City of Toronto government.

Exterior  of Campbell House.
Campbell House.

Osgoode Hall is named for William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario). The original building was constructed between 1829 and 1832. The iron fence around the property dates from 1867. The so-called “cow gates” were based on the design of cattle guards meant to keep out grazing animals.

Osgoode Hall was built over a period of 190 years, so as to accommodate the growing needs of its owners. A National Historic Site of Canada and a Heritage building of Ontario, it currently houses the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Law Society of Ontario.

Osgoode Hall.
Osgoode Hall.

Before COVID-19, I had done tours inside both Campbell House and Osgoode Hall. The impressive interior of Osgoode Hall includes the Rotunda with the original tile floor, heritage courtrooms from the late 1800’s, the Great Library with holdings of 100,000 volumes, Benchers’ Quarters, and Convocation Hall that boasts ten gorgeous stained glass windows covering 4,000 years of law. I highly recommend this tour when Osgoode Hall re-opens to the public.

2. Art

On sunny morning #2, I cycled and walked around to see outdoor public art: Two portraits at the Femme de Fleur exhibit by Apanaki Temitayo M, one Untitled display by Jun Kaneko, and Cracked Wheat by Shary Boyle.

I realized later that coincidentally, all four art items have a human body theme. The Cracked Wheat vase stands on two human legs. Click on the images to see their bigger version.

3. Beaches

On sunny morning #3, I cycled along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and checked out several beaches. It was a glorious day to be by the calm water. By lunch time, I sat down on Sunnyside beach and watched a group of mute swans. They swam, ducked their heads for food, spread their wings, etc. It was an amazing swan show!

Mute swans.

4. Disc Golf

On sunny morning #4, I cycled to the local 9-hole disc golf course and played my first disc golf game of 2021. It was a perfect day to play. Calm wind, pleasant temperature, and soft sunlight. I enjoyed playing while listening to birds, watching the squirrels, and looking at the lake.

5. Nature Trails

On sunny morning #5, I cycled to High Park, a big and beautiful park in the west end of Toronto. I explored nature trails, walked among tall trees, listened to birds, and watched the ducks in Grenadier Pond. Total bliss!

Nature trail in High Park.

Overall, it was a fun-filled week. I’m grateful that I’m able to do what makes me happy.

Linking with #LifeThisWeek, #WeeklySmile.

How did your week go? Which of the 5 themes would you choose? I’d love to hear your comments.

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Bits of Joy

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you have a few minutes for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. We had a mixed bag of weather this past week: Sun, rain, snow, and sun again. As I type this, Toronto is under lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus so I limit my in-person contacts and continue to go outside only for exercise or groceries.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, there are still many small pleasures and fun moments to enjoy every day. Here’s my bits of joy and photos to share with you:

Going for a Beach Walk

Sunnyside Beach

Sunday was sunny and beautiful. It was perfect for my bike ride to Sunnyside Beach and a walk along the sandy beach. I enjoyed views of Lake Ontario, blue sky, fresh air, bird life, trees, with very few people around at the time of my visit. This may be the last “warm” day of Autumn 2020. Two days after I took this beach photo, we got snow!

Baking

Monday was a rainy day. Having three ripe bananas on my kitchen counter prompted me to bake. I haven’t baked for a few months because it was too hot to think of baking in the summer. I used Jean Paré’s Banana Bread recipe and the loaf turned out really good. It was a tasty homemade snack to go with a cuppa while staying dry and warm indoor.

Loving the First Snow

Tuesday was snow day. First snow accumulation on the first day of December 2020! Just a thin layer by the lake and more snow elsewhere in Ontario. The snow flurries and snow flakes looked so pretty when I sat inside sipping my hot coffee. I love to go for a walk after the first snowfall when everything still looks pristine.

Cycling to a Park

Wednesday was sunny again so I went cycling and enjoyed a beautiful wintry day. I was glad to have my sunglasses with me as the reflections from the snow were blinding. How many Canada geese do you see in the above photo? There were many more of them by the lake than those I captured here. When we get more snow in the parks, it will be fun to go snowshoeing.

Speaking of blinding, on Wednesday around noon, while cycling, I saw a flash of blinding light then a fireball in the clear blue sky. It appeared and disappeared in seconds. The local news reported it was a falling meteor travelling an estimated 100,000 kilometers an hour. The American Meteor Society also received reports on this daylight fireball event occurred over Central New York. That was unexpected and pretty cool to see.

Hill without snow.
The thin layer of snow was gone by Thursday.

Joining a Challenge

Dan at No Facilities blog has taken over hosting the Thursday Doors photography challenge. I decided to participate for the first time. My debut Thursday Doors entry in Beaux-Arts style is here. I look forward to sharing my selection of door images and meeting other bloggers who participate in the challenge.

Reading

I enjoyed reading a few e-books this week. One of them was Jill Weatherholt’s Second Chance Romance novel. It’s an easy read and a heartwarming story with happy endings. In addition to reading Jill’s book, I also read and agreed with the Second Chance Romance book review by Annika Perry, another blogger and writer that I follow. Both Jill and Annika have my admiration for their wonderful writing.

Selecting a Tree

I browsed and found a handsome evergreen tree for the holidays. No, I don’t plan to bring one home. I like the natural look of the first snow landed on the tree and its symmetrical shape. This is my digital tree all decorated and ready to go as my e-greeting card to my family and friends.

How did your week go? Any fun plans for the coming week? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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Summer Week 11: August Smiles

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space so we can share our news over a cup of coffee or tea.

Summer Week 11

Summer week 11, from August 30 to September 5 inclusive, delivered another stretch of good weather. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 82F) with mainly sunny days and some rain mid-week.

Beach Visit

I cycled to Cherry Beach early one morning to get my quiet beach time. Cherry Beach typically achieves annual Blue Flag certification where water quality is safe for swimming. It was nice to walk along the beach and listen to the sounds of water and birds.

Cherry Beach.
Cherry Beach

There are picnic sites, restroom facility, parking lots, and dogs off-leash area outside the beach entrance which make this beach popular, especially on summer weekends.

Cherry Beach picnic site.
Cherry Beach picnic site

Family Visit

My sister and nieces came to visit on Tuesday. We sat outside 2 meters apart by the lake to chat and catch up on our news. My nieces resume their university studies next week so I was glad to see them before they get busy with school.

Lake view.

Park Visit

On another beautiful day, I went for a long walk and paused at Larry Sefton Park. The United Steel Workers of America funded this park creation in 1977 to honor the memory of their director, Larry Sefton. I liked how the deep terra cotta wall provides a nice backdrop to the steel sculpture.

Larry Sefton Park

August in Numbers

August ended a few days ago so this week I completed my usual monthly review and month-end digital file back-ups. How did I do in August? Let’s see what the numbers have to say:

  • 1 family visit (and a repeat baking success: a coconut loaf).
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 2 canoe excursions here and here.
  • 2 coffee meet-ups with friends.
  • 2 movies: Cake and The Boy Downstairs.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 5 blog posts.
  • 12 yoga sessions.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 20 books (see list below).
  • 21 cycling trips.
  • 24 walks.
  • 31 French and Spanish online sessions.
  • 31 meditations sessions.

Overall August was an excellent month for me. I enjoyed the good weather, had coffee chats with my siblings and friends outdoors, did a lot of cycling, paddling, walking, exercising, learning, reading, and writing.

Reading in August

By switching to e-books and not visiting the library, I gained time to read and enjoyed twenty fiction novels in August. These novels are all really good page-turners and once I start, I want to read to the end. During the day, I’m active and on my feet a lot so by evening time, I’m happy to sit down and get lost in a book.

Here’s my list in order of preference:

  1. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes.
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
  5. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson.
  6. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.
  7. 9 Days and 9 Nights (sequel to 99 Days) by Katie Cotugno.
  8. After You (sequel to Me Before You) by Jojo Moyes.
  9. Still Me (sequel to After You) by Jojo Moyes.
  10. One Day in December by Josie Silver.
  11. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.
  12. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
  13. Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker.
  14. Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker.
  15. Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker.
  17. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
  18. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.
  19. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory.
  20. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Novel #1: The Sense of An Ending blew my mind. I read this e-book in one evening as the story is engaging and it’s just 160 pages long. When I finished, my reaction was “Whoa, I didn’t see it coming“.

Novels #1 to #5: Even though love shines in all the novels I read, the deaths of bright and young people in my top five novels made me feel really sad after I finished the books. I had to do long bicycle rides and long walks to clear my head of thoughts about grief and unnatural deaths.

Novels #6 to #16: I usually don’t read sequels or multiple books from the same author in one month. Breaking my own rule, I read and enjoyed the young adult fiction sequel by Katie Cotugno, the trilogy by Jojo Moyes, and the series by K.A. Tucker. Novels #11 and 12 are good thrillers.

Novels #17 to #20: Just because I place the books last on my list, it doesn’t mean #17 to #20 are not good reads. I like all the 20 novels that I read in August. I’m glad to discover new-to-me authors and appreciate all the hard work that these authors put in to write their books. I hope my reading contributes to the overall encouragement for them to write more.

Conclusion

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. My family and friends are safe and well. I continue to follow public health measures to stay safe and well, too. I look forward to making the most of September.

How did your week go? How was your August? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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Summer Week 5: A Grand Day Out

Kayaks at Trout Pond

Hello blog friends! Glad to see you. Come on in to my blog space, make yourself comfortable with tea or coffee (hot or iced) and let’s have a chat.

Summer week 5, from July 19 to 25 inclusive, was mostly sunny and warm. The high temperatures ranged from 26C to 31C. With humidity, it felt like 30C to 36C (86F to 97F). We had severe thunderstorm and lightning on Sunday afternoon and intermittent showers on Wednesday. The rain water turned the grass in the parks from yellow to green again.

Kayaking to and within Toronto Islands

On a hot and sunny day of the week, I had a grand day out kayaking with my small social bubble. We paddled from the city side towards Hanlan’s Point (lower right on the map) and weaved our kayaks to Trout Pond (top right).

Source: City of Toronto, Toronto Island Park map

We explored the aquatic plants and bird life in and around Trout Pond and Lighthouse Pond. I saw white water lilies, baby turtles, small fish, ducks and ducklings, geese, swans, dragonflies, terns, and many other birds. We kayaked and swam in the ponds for a while as the water was so nice.

White water lily on Toronto Islands

Around 1 PM, we left our kayaks by the shore and had a nice picnic lunch on a grassy area under a few big trees. There was a lovely light breeze all afternoon. After lunch, we walked to Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, Gibraltar Point Beach, and Gibraltar Point Sand Dune.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

The Gibraltar Point lighthouse, which now stands inland because of shifting land masses, was built in 1808 to protect ships coming into Toronto harbour from washing ashore during storms. It’s the oldest landmark in Toronto, the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Canada.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

It is said that the Gibraltar Point lighthouse is haunted. Its first lighthouse keeper J.P. Radan Muller, was murdered by two soldiers from Fort York. The ghost of of J.P. Radan Muller returns every summer, and on hot summer nights, his howls can be heard from one end of the island to the other.

Gibraltar Point Beach

With a blue sky and a sandy beach, it’s hard to believe we’re only 15 minutes from downtown Toronto. Gibraltar Point Beach is perfect for taking a swim during the hot summer. The City of Toronto has advised people to practice physical distancing at a beach or park (or can receive a $1,000 ticket).

Path to Gibraltar Point Beach
Path to Gibraltar Point Beach. The water was clear and felt great on a hot summer day.

Gibraltar Point Sand Dune

The Toronto Island Sand Dunes are home to several rare plant species and have been classified as an Environmentally Significant Area by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Dunes are fragile so visitors must stay on designated trails and boardwalks, and respect vegetated areas.

Boardwalk at Gibraltar Point Sand Dune.
Boardwalk at Gibraltar Point Sand Dune

Egrets and Herons

Late afternoon, we got back to our kayaks and paddled to Long Pond, then towards Centre Island and Ward’s Island before heading back from Royal Canadian Yacht Club marina to the city side.

I spotted two snowy egrets and two great blue herons in various areas of the islands. Click on the photos below to enlarge them. Can you see the egrets and herons?

Snowy egret on Toronto Islands
Snowy egret on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on a tree trunk on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on a tree trunk on Toronto Islands

It was tricky to paddle quietly to get as close to the birds as possible, then got my phone out from the pocket of my life jacket, and balanced myself in my kayak to take some photos before they flew away.

The egret and heron sightings filled me with a sense of awe and ended my grand day out with a big smile.

Snow egret on Toronto Islands
Snowy egret on Toronto Islands
Grey heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands

Conclusion

Summer week 5 was fantastic. I got all my outdoor and indoor activities done. I broke my own ‘personal best’ record of the number of books I read in a month in 2020. Eleven books so far with five days left in July. The weather forecast predicts sunny and warm days for this coming week. I look forward to making the most of summer week 6.

How did your week go? What made you smile? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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