Summer Week 1 and 2020 Reading Update #2

Hello blog friends! How are you? I hope your day is going well. Come on in to my blog space so we can share a coffee or tea and catch up on our news.

If we were having coffee, I would share my first week of summer 2020 in pictures and what I’ve been reading in the second quarter of 2020. How have your reading habits been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you find yourself unable to finish a book or did you read more than usual?

Summer Week 1

The first week of summer brought warm temperatures, mostly sunny, brief periods of rain, heat and humidity. I got all my exercises done (meditation, language lessons, strengthening workouts, yoga) and enjoyed my walks by the lake or in a park.

My sister met me for another coffee date on Friday. We sat outside chatting, sipping coffee, listening to bird songs, smelling the light fragrance of flowers in the air, and relaxing on a beautiful sunny day with some clouds and a light breeze.

Here’s a look at my Summer 2020 Week 1 in pictures:

Gull by Lake Ontario.
Hello gull! It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.
Sailboats, lake view and maple trees.
Watching the sailboats in the harbour from under shades of maple trees.
Bright and showy daisy.
Bright and showy daisy.
Mother duck and two young ducks.
Mother duck and two young (teenager) ducks. Did the other 4 to 6 ducklings survive?
Beautiful green space, perfect for a picnic by the lake.
Beautiful green space, perfect for a picnic by the lake.
Fragrant rose bushes.
Fragrant rose bushes attract many bees. Watch out for the bees and the thorns.
Lake view with clouds and sailboats in the distance.
Lake view with clouds and sailboats in the distance.
Bright red flower.
Bright red flower.
A patch of pretty white daisies.
A patch of pretty white daisies.
Another beautiful day with white clouds and a light breeze.
Another beautiful day with white clouds and a light breeze.
These pretty peachy roses brighten up any day.
These pretty peachy roses brighten up any day.

Library Curb-side Pickup

In my 2020 Reading First Update in March, I mentioned that Toronto library branches have been closed since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The library has been offering excellent digital services during the lockdown. Fast forward 12 weeks later, starting on June 8, Toronto Public Library re-opened for curb-side pickups by appointment.

My first curb-side pickup appointment went well. I was the only person there. The library staff wore a mask and asked me to place my library card on a table then step back to maintain a safe distance. He verified my account, delivered two brown bags of books to the table and stepped away. I picked up my library card and the book bags to go. All in less than one minute. Nice!

Books Read in 2nd Quarter of 2020

Books read in second quarter of 2020.

Here’s what I read from April to June 2020 by author’s last name:

  1. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.
  2. Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox.
  3. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory.
  4. An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson.
  5. Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt.
  6. How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green.
  7. Dear Life by Alice Munro.
  8. Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker.
  9. Embers One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese.
  • Number of books read: 9 books in the second quarter of 2020. This brings my Year-to-date total to 27 books from January to June 2020. My goal for 2020 is 36 books in various genres. I’m getting there.
  • A book by an Indigenous author: Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese is an excellent book to celebrate June which marks National Indigenous History Month. The book is full of wisdom packed in 176 pages.
  • A book that made me laugh: An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Two totally different novels, each with brilliant comedic moments.
  • A book by a Canadian writer and Nobel Prize winner: Dear Life by Alice Munro who illumines the moment a life is shaped in this collection of short stories.
  • A book about a real person: Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox who has been living with Parkinson’s Disease since his diagnosis in 1991, and Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt, a Pulitzer Prize winner.
  • A book I picked because I liked the cover: How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery and nice illustrations by Rebecca Green.
  • A book about romance with strong-willed female lead character: Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker and The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory. Both authors are new to me even though they’ve each written several novels.

Other readings

  • In addition to physical books, I also listened to actors’ readings of Chapters 1 to 11 of Harry Potter The Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling on Wizarding World web site.
  • May was Short Story month so I switched gear and read the first ten of the 73 short stories available free online. I hope to find time to read more of these short stories. I like the variety of writing styles and the stories themselves.

Week 1 of summer 2020 was beautiful. The weather forecast for the coming week is sunny and warm. I look forward to spending more time outdoors and doing something fun to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st.

How did your week go? What book(s) are you reading? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

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

Life with Flower Plants

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your week is going well. Come on into my blog space for a coffee or tea. We’ll catch up on what’s new since we last talked about May.

On Friday, Toronto Public Library announced that beginning on Monday, June 8, library users can start reserving times for curbside pick-up of holds at most branches where the service can be safely provided. I’m looking forward to scheduling time to pick up a few books. My default branch is still closed so the library has redirected my holds to another branch. I plan to bike or walk there with my backpack for my book haul.

The weather was great for the first week of June. Daily high temperatures were in the range of 23C to 30C (73F to 86F) with sun, clouds, and some rain. I’ve had several nice walks to local parks and by the lake. So grateful for the beautiful flowers, trees, birds, public art sculpture, and stunning lake views.

On one of my walks, I went on a photo hunt to find and take photos of ten different plants, ideally with flowers in different colours. I’m sharing the results of my photo hunt below. I hope the flowers brighten your day and bring you a smile like they did for me.

Allium

Allium 'Purple Sensation' flowers
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ with deep purple and rounded blooms atop tall stems.

Anemone

Snowdrop anemone
Snowdrop anemone clusters are fragrant and festive.

Apple blossoms

Apple blossoms
Creamy and light pink apple blossoms at their peak are gorgeous.

Azalea

Pink azaleas
Bright pink azaleas offer a colour burst and flamboyant flowers.

Lady’s Mantle plants

Lady's Mantle plants with rain drops on green leaves.
Simple beauty to my eyes: Clear rain drops on green leaves.

Pasque flowers

Purple Pasque flowers
Pasque flowers with violet petals, yellow centre and feathery foliage are attractive.

Scilla Siberica (or Siberian Squill)

Blue Siberian squill flowers
Siberian squill blue star-shaped flowers form a carpet and beautify the ground.

Spurge Fireglow (Euphorbia griffithii)

Spurge Fireglow orange-red flowers.
These plants offer clusters of pretty orange-red flowers and deserve the name “Fireglow”.

Tulips

Deep burgundy tulips
‘Queen of the Night’ tulips present dramatic deep burgundy blossoms.

Wild Tulips

Yellow wild tulips
Wild tulips provide bright yellow flowers and a sweet fragrance.

Here’s my photo hunt in numbers: 10 photos, 10 plants, 10 colours (purple, white, cream, pink, green, violet, blue, orange, burgundy, and yellow). Proof that plant life has been wonderful here this spring. The blooms beckon bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

I look forward to walking around, exploring what else is blooming, examining the plants from the root to the tip, and taking photos. When I see the beautiful flowers, they make me feel happy and positive. They expand my interests in garden designs and plants as well.

I’m linking up this post with Terri’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge, Cee’s Flower of The Day, and other link-ups as listed here.

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

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

7 Tidbits about Chrysanthemums

As soon as November starts, the temperatures dip where I live. This means part of my regular walks is done indoor and I intentionally look for colours, the brighter the better.

One recent walk is to see the indoor Chrysanthemum Show at Toronto’s Allan Gardens. The gardeners do a fantastic job of putting on wonderful displays of a wide variety of chrysanthemums. I love the beautiful flowers and learn several fun tidbits about them.

7 Fun Tidbits about Chrysanthemums

1) Popularity: Chrysanthemum flower is one of the most popular flower in the world, 2nd place to be exact, next only to Rose.

Red chrysanthemums

2) Special Status: Chrysanthemums are the November birth flower, the 13th wedding anniversary flower, and the official flower of the city of Chicago. Japan also has a National Chrysanthemum Day, which is called the Festival of Happiness.

Pink and yellow chrysanthemums

3) Name and Location Origins: The name “chrysanthemum” is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower). Chrysanthemums are tropical flowers. They are native to Asia and northeastern Europe.

Basket display of chrysanthemums

4) Sizes, Shapes, Colours, and Varieties: Chrysanthemum stem can reach 5 to 15 centimeters (2 to 6 inches) in height. Flower can have 1 to 25 centimeters (0.4 to 10 inches) in diameter. Other than its traditional yellow colour, there are also other colours such as purple, lavender, pink, burgundy, bronze, white and red. There are 40 wild species of chrysanthemum and thousands of varieties created via selective breeding.

Gold and yellow chrysanthemums

5) Cultural Meanings: Chrysanthemum flowers have different meanings in different cultures. For instance, in Asia, Chrysanthemum is a symbol of friendship, luck, joy, optimism, and happiness. While in Europe, white Chrysanthemum is associated with funerals.

White chrysanthemums

6) A Good Indoor Houseplant: Chrysanthemum flowers contain a chemical called pyrethrum which is a natural bug repellent. These blooms also remove toxins from the air and are thus considered a good indoor houseplant as well.

Mums at Lena and the Swan pond

7) A Great Landscaping Plant: As a landscaping plant, the chrysanthemum makes a beautiful Fall display for the home garden. Chrysanthemums can dominate a growing area with the many varied shapes, sizes, and colors. I’m totally convinced when I see the display below.

Peacock-shaped display of chrysanthemums

I think chrysanthemums provide an outstanding climax to the season before the colds of winter arrive. I enjoy a wonderful walk to Allan Gardens. The greenery and flowers in the garden pavilions brighten my day.

How well do you know about chrysanthemums? Is any of the above tidbits new to you?

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

Have you heard about the Float’em Garden?

During my stay in Tofino, I walked along the main streets in the village and discovered the Float’em Garden. I thought I’d share the artist’s message and the story behind the objects in the garden with my blog readers.

About the Float’em Garden

The Float’em Garden is located along the sidewalk on Third Street between Campbell Street and Main Street in Tofino. It’s an outdoor public art installation comprised of eleven individual assemblages made entirely from marine debris. Pete Clarkson, the artist and a park warden, has been creating his unique marine debris art since 2000. The Float’em Garden was opened in June 2018.

Art from recycled marine debris

Sea Chimes by Pete Clarkson
Sea Chimes by Pete Clarkson
Plastic Water by Pete Clarkson
Plastic Water by Pete Clarkson
From Sea to Tree and Little Bear by Pete Clarkson
From Sea to Tree and Little Bear by Pete Clarkson

Message from Pete Clarkson

Here’s an excerpt from Pete Clarkson’s message inscribed at the Float’em Garden:

I hope you’ll take a moment in this spectacular place to enjoy the Float’em Garden, and consider your own role in the marine debris story. As these objects remind us, there’s no longer an ‘away’ when we throw things away. Everywhere is somewhere, and the ocean is downstream of everything. The daily decisions we make – what we buy, what we throw away, what we value and support – can add up to a chorus of positive action. Let your actions show how much you care. We can all make a difference!

I find the Float’em Garden art installations visually interesting and the message behind the marine debris thought-provoking. It’s a good reminder that we are all connected and we need to reduce waste that is harmful to our environment.

Practicing the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

My family and I have made a diligent effort to practice the 3Rs in our day-to-day living. We follow our municipal waste reduction movement and help keep items out of landfill. Some of the actions that we’ve taken:

  • Borrow books or DVDs from public libraries.
  • Buy locally-grown fresh produce as much as possible.
  • Cook and eat most of our meals at home with no food waste.
  • Donate clothes and linen to recycling organizations.
  • Put recycling, organics, and garbage into the right bins. Blue bin for recycling, green bin for organics, and black bin for garbage in our city.
  • Read or subscribe online for news and community event notifications.
  • Re-purpose cookie tins and glass jars for storage.
  • Trade in old items when purchase their replacements (where trade-in is offered).
  • Use refillable water bottles.
  • Use reusable bags for grocery shopping.

We shop consciously, plan ahead, buy only what we need, and consider the impact of packaging when making purchases.

I wonder to what degree Pete Clarkson’s message and similar environmental reminders affect consumers’ shopping habits, especially around the holidays when people tend to have more purchases and more social gatherings.

How does the marine debris story from the Float’em Garden affect your shopping habits? How well is waste managed in your city? I’d love to hear your comments.

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

Fit N Fun Walk: Toronto Music Garden

One of my favourite go-to spots in the city is the Toronto Music Garden. I try to come here often and share it with any of my family members or friends who may be interested in coming with me.

The Toronto Music Garden springs from the imagination of renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and garden designer Julie Moir Messervy. Inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, the garden is made up of six “movements” whose forms and feelings correspond to that suggested in the music: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuett, and Gigue.

It’s a fun experience to listen to Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello while walking through the well-maintained garden and imagine the six movements.

1. Prelude section imparts the feeling of a flowing river. Granite boulders that came from the Canadian Shield represent a stream bed. Low-growing plants soften its banks. Circular designs on the ground and at the edge of the boulders represent the water movements. The trees with straight trunks are native Hackberry trees. This is the only section in the garden that is not a dance form.

Prelude in Toronto Music Garden
Prelude: An undulating riverscape

2. Allemande section imparts the feeling of a forest grove of wandering trails. The allemande is an ancient German dance. The trails swirl inward and move higher and higher up the hillside. A circle of dawn redwood trees and a small birch forest provide shades to the various contemplative sitting areas that look over the harbour.

Allemande in Toronto Music Garden
Allemande: A forest grove of wandering trails

3. Courante section imparts the feeling of a swirling path through a wildflower meadow. The courante is an exuberant Italian and French dance form. The trails swirl upward in a spiral form, through a lush field of grasses and brightly-coloured perennials that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. At the top of the swirling path is the maypole, with Celtic-patterned spirals and iron wheel, designed by Anne Roberts.

Courante in Toronto Music Garden
Courante: A swirling path through a wildflower meadow with a maypole at the top

4. Sarabande section is envisioned as a poet’s corner with a centerpiece. The sarabande is based on an ancient Spanish dance form. The trails go in an inward-arcing circle that is enclosed by tall needle-leaf evergreen trees. Japanese maple trees are also grown here. The centerpiece is a huge stone that acts as a stage for readings, and holds a small pool with water that reflects the sky.

Sarabande in Toronto Music Garden
Sarabande: A poet’s corner and its centerpiece

5. Menuett section imparts the feeling of a formal parterre garden of flowers. The menuett is a French dance movement. Its formality and grace are reflected in the symmetry and geometry of a circular pavilion. The pavilion is hand-crafted with ornamental steel by Tom Tollefson. It is designed to shelter small musical ensembles or dance groups.

Menuett in Toronto Music Garden
Menuett: A formal parterre garden of flowers

6. Gigue section imparts the feeling of a series of giant grass steps that offer views onto the harbour. The gigue, or “jog”, is an English dance. The steps form a curved amphitheatre that focus on a stone stage set under a weeping willow tree. In the summer, informal performances are held here.

Gigue in Toronto Music Garden
Gigue: Giant grass steps that dance you down to the outside world

The Toronto Music Garden is a magical place to visit in all four seasons. This past spring, look what I found at the garden:

Bird nest at Toronto Music Garden
Mama bird in her nest at Toronto Music Garden

I love that the Toronto Music Garden is open year-round, wheelchair accessible, and there is no admission fee. Free guided tours and concerts are available from June to September. I hope you enjoy the garden through my lens.

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