Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #23! 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 Warm Week
Toronto broke a record on Saturday June 5 when the temperature rose to 31C (88F). According to Environment Canada, the highest temperature recorded for June 5 is 30C set in 1940. The scorching temperatures and heat warning continued on Sunday and lasted through Wednesday.
I went outside earlier in the morning when it was cooler to cycle and walk. In spring season, I like to visit the gardens at least once a week to catch the new flower blooms before they disappear or get destroyed by strong winds or rain.
Here are something pink for Terri’s Sunday Stills photo challenge: Poppies, azaleas and peonies. The attractive Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) flowers have large, layered, crepe papery, pink petals with dark purple eyes and black splotches at their base. Have you seen them before?
On one of my cycling excursions I passed by the Canary District in Toronto’s West Don Lands. I took a cycling break and walked along Front Street East and Mill Street to see five interesting sculptures. Once I took time to examine each of them at different angles, I liked them more than at first glance.
Canary District was the site of 2015 Toronto Pan American Games Athletes’ Village. After the Games were over, the six buildings were converted to condo buildings, a YMCA Centre, and student housing for George Brown College students. Forty one plaques along Front Street promenade display the names of the participating nations at the Games.
Sunny days, gorgeous flowers and interesting sculptures. I enjoy my discoveries and feel grateful for this leisure time. Life is good.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #22! 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.
I know we are a few days into June already. In the first week of every new month, I usually look back at the month that was and plan fun activities for the new month. So what made May marvellous for me?
Temperatures quickly warmed up in May and it was like the switch flipped. Vegetation just go from buds on a tree to full leaf, and all of that happened within about 10 days. There were many beautiful blooms in the gardens in May as my photos show below. Click on any image to see it bigger.
I continued my health routine in May with cycling, walking, playing disc golf, body weight training, meditation and yoga. I’ve enjoyed more cycling on weekends in May thanks to 2 conditions: 1) Good weather and 2) Weekend road closures when a few routes are closed to vehicles and open to cyclists and pedestrians.
My family and friends are well. Most of us have received our first COVID-19 vaccine dose, some of us are fully vaccinated. Starting May 22, outdoor social gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed so I met my sister for a walk on a beautiful day.
On May 20, Ontario announced a three-step plan to gradually reopen the province through June, July and August based on vaccination rates and key public health and health care indicators. Things are looking up after a long lockdown. Hurrah!
What I did for fun in May
Explored the city by bike and on foot.
Walked in public gardens and smelled the scents of flowers.
Played disc golf in a beautiful park.
Watched bird families and listened to bird songs.
Visited Heritage buildings, art murals and sculptures.
Hosted 4 Weekend Coffee Share link-ups.
Started a small herb garden.
Learned French and Spanish on Duolingo.
What I read in May
I enjoyed reading 8 fiction novels in May and increased my Books in 2021 total to 40. Here’s my list of books with asterisk indicating new-to-me author:
Keeping The Moon – Sarah Dessen.
The Trespasser – Tana French.
Force of Nature – Jane Harper.
The Dry – Jane Harper.
The Survivors – Jane Harper.
Naïve. Super – Erlend Loe. *
Camp – L. C. Rosen. *
The Burning Girls – C.J. Tudor.
I’m now caught up with C.J. Tudor’s and Jane Harper’s published books, 4 from each author. This includes The Burning Girls and The Survivors, both were released in 2021.
May was marvellous! I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I hope you had a good May, too. I’ve blocked time for my health, home, and leisure activities in June. I look forward to making the most of every day.
What do you look forward to in June? Let me know in the Comments.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #20! 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.
This past week the weather was glorious, lots of sunshine and blue skies with daytime high reached 27C (81F), felt like 30C (86F) yesterday. Since I’ve been cycling, walking, exploring and having fun with photography most days, I have a backlog of things to write up.
Today’s post is about my walk at the Spadina Quay Wetlands and my Spring fun list update.
Spadina Quay Wetlands
Spadina Quay Wetlands is a gem located in Toronto’s waterfront area. It’s a thriving ecosystem full of plants, birds, butterflies, ducks, and fish. It’s complete with flowering heath plants, poplar trees, flagstone paths and a creek. Aside from nature, there is also art.
1. Birdhouse Sculpture
Artist Anne Roberts designed the Birdhouse sculpture on stilts that was installed in the wetland garden. This sculpture recalls the human activities of the Toronto lakeshore at the turn of the 20th century, with warehouses of the Toronto Electric Company, the corner bank, the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and clusters of ice cream parlours and boathouses attracting Toronto residents to the lure of the water.
When the water level in Toronto Harbour is high, water fills up the small creek where the Birdhouse sculpture is located and it’s not accessible to foot traffic. This spring, since the creek has been dry, I was able to visit the sculpture up close.
2. Bright Birdhouses
While walking around the wetland garden, I found these bright birdhouses. They made me smile.
It was a delightful walk at the Spadina Quay Wetlands. As an urban dweller, I appreciate this green space and enjoy seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.
Spring Fun List – May Update
Back in March, I wrote a Spring Fun List of things to do while in COVID-19 lockdown. Most of my activities are outdoors or online and follow public health protocols so I’ve been checking off a few items in April.
I’ve recently completed two more items (#3 and #7). Here’s my update and contribution to Leslie’s Spring link-up.
Cycle to explore parks, the lake shore, and the city centre: Yes, most days.
Take walks to enjoy nature in Spring and free outdoor public art: Yes, most days.
View Toronto’s Cherry Blossoms and the annual Canadian Tulip Festival: Yes, I saw gorgeous cherry blossoms and tulips in Toronto. I viewed the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa virtually due to the province-wide lockdown.
Meet my family and friends outside: Pending. Starting May 22, outdoor gatherings for up to 5 people are allowed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, feel free to have a coffee or tea, hot or cold, and let’s catch up on our news.
Summer week 7, from August 2 to 8 inclusive, means we just passed the half point of summer here. We had heavy rainfall on Sunday, rain on Monday afternoon and Tuesday then sunny weather the rest of the week. The high temperatures ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 85F).
I cycled along the Waterfront trail from one to two hours most mornings this week. One of the parks that I stopped by is Coronation Park. Coronation Park was built in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI. It’s located at Lake Shore Blvd West & Fort York Blvd, just east of Ontario Place or Trillium Park.
Coronation Park highlights
Beautiful oak and maple trees: The park design consisted of grouping trees around a central Royal Oak, symbolizing the King. An inner ring of oak trees, known as the “Empire Circle”, represents the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and the Crown Colonies.
To the north, the Imperial Service triangle of trees represented the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army. On either side of the ring are separate groves of maple trees representing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian divisions, Siberian troops, and Corp Troops to the east and west.
Lake view: The south side of Coronation Park offers stunning views of Lake Ontario and the marina. It is a beautiful spot to sit along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and enjoy a picnic on a warm summer day. Coronation Park also has three softball diamonds on the north side and a nice-sized dog off-leash area on the east side.
Victory-Peace Monument: It’s a permanent war memorial built in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. There are two sets of bronze walls, arranged like ship prows. Between the walls are maple leaves. One is engraved “Sacrifice” and the other “Hope”. The walls surrounding it has artwork depicting information about Canada’s involvement in World War II.
Coronation Park is also a perfect spot for reading. There are benches, Muskoka chairs, grassy field, and picnic tables. The lake views, however, may be a distraction. I finished five books this week and really liked the funny dialogues and heart-breaking love story in Me Before Youby JoJo Moyes.
I got to see so many beautiful flowers on my morning walks. Some of them attract more bees and butterflies than others. The colour choices are amazing and they brighten my day. I’m sharing two photos here even though I took many more.
Considering everything, it was a beautiful and enjoyable week.
How did your week go? I’d like to hear your comments.
Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a chat, make yourself comfortable, and let’s catch up on our news.
From where I am, the heat continued during the third week of summer, from July 5 to 11 inclusive. The high temperatures ranged from 30C to 38C. With humidity, it felt like 36C to 42C (97F to 108F). We had some relief from a flash thunderstorm on Wednesday afternoon and short showers on Saturday.
Similar to my Summer Week 2, I got all my exercises, yoga, meditation, and language lessons done, plus a lot of fun and sun in week 3. I’m sharing a few of my favourite moments from my outdoor activities below.
I cycled on the Waterfront trail five mornings this past week. The trail hugs the shoreline of Lake Ontario and passes by many parks so I’m never far from the lake and green space, as well as local landmarks.
One favourite section of the trail is the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, a 130-metre long, pedestrian and bicycle through arch bridge over the mouth of the Humber River. The view from the Sheldon Lookout, steps from the bridge, is amazing.
I enjoyed two kayaking trips to Toronto Islands on Tuesday and Thursday. The paddling from the city side to the Toronto Islands was challenging due to boat traffic, i.e. Ferries, water taxis, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, etc. but I made it safely across the harbour and stayed paddling within the islands for about three hours each trip.
The water within the islands was calm. I was happy to see more egrets, cormorants, ducks, birds, and new sightings this week: A beaver and a few very cute baby swans. On my way back, the sunset over Toronto’s skyline created beautiful reflections. These moments made me pause paddling and just take it all in.
I walked every day this past week, except Saturday. It’s wonderful to walk along the waterfront boardwalk while listening to the sound of water touching the edge of the boardwalk, the sound of my steps on the wooden planks, watching the birds take off and land, and viewing the vast body of water spread out as far as the eyes can see.
Aside from the lake, a few favourite sightings in the local gardens were the tall spires of violet delphiniums, black-eyed susans, and purple coneflowers. Their bright colours and happy faces made me smile. I couldn’t resist taking photos.
I wrapped up the week with blogging, listening to one online jazz concert, reading four books, and watching two movies. The four books were three romance novels and one book on Happiness. The two movies, The Whole Wide World and The Big Short, were based on true stories. Also enjoyed ice cream, locally-grown peaches and strawberries. Yum!
I was a happy camper in summer week 3. The weather forecast for week 4 is warm with chance of showers on Thursday or Friday. The rain will be very good for the thirsty-looking grass in the parks. I look forward to making the most of week 4.
How did your week go? What were your favourite moments? I’d love to hear your comments.
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:
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
Here’s what I read from April to June 2020 by author’s last name:
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.
Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox.
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory.
An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson.
Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt.
How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green.
Dear Life by Alice Munro.
Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker.
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.
In addition to physical books, I also listened toactors’ 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.
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.
Lady’s Mantle plants
Scilla Siberica (or Siberian Squill)
Spurge Fireglow (Euphorbia griffithii)
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.
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
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.
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.
2. Allemandesection 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Toronto Music Garden is a magical place to visit in all four seasons. This past spring, look what I found at the 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.