Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #39! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a mainly sunny week with daytime high temperatures around 19C (66F). I had a fun week that included a day trip to Niagara Falls. Today is the first day of October, a new month, so I took a look back at September and appreciated the month just passed.
Here’s my summary of what made September special.
Photography: I enjoy taking photographs when I go outside. I’ve shared many images of nature, buildings, flowers, murals and sculptures on my blog. Here are two additional artworks that I like:
Reading: I finished seven books in September and updated my Books in 2021 page. I love opening a new book and see where the story takes me.
Travel: My sister and I took a day trip to Niagara Falls and had a fantastic time. We enjoyed sunny weather, stunning waterfalls and beautiful flowers. Good food and good conversation again. More details in a future post.
Writing: I wrote five blog posts and enjoyed hosting and blogging every weekend in September:
Looking back, what made September special was the heartwarming social time that I had, either in groups with my family and friends, or one on one with my sister and my neighbour. On weekends, I enjoyed virtual coffee shares with my blogging community.
I’m grateful for all the good things that happened in September.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #37! 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 was a week of mostly sunny days with thunders, lightning and rain on Tuesday night. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 81F) although cooler in the morning and evening. The parks are still full of green trees and beautiful flowers like the flowers I feature in this post.
It was also the week before Canada’s Federal Election. Election day is on September 20. I went to cast my vote first thing in the morning on one of the advance poll days. There was no line-up. It felt good to get this important action item done.
One of my neighbours called and asked me to go for a walk with her. At 80+ years of age and living alone, B is active and sharp as a tack. She talked, I listened and we did a 3.2 km (2 miles) walk. She’d like to walk with me again next week.
The rest of the week went well. I cycled most mornings, saw herons at a conservation area, took several walks, played disc golf twice, completed my mind and body exercises, chatted with my family and friends, and did house chores, reading and writing.
I’m pleased to contribute to the #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.
I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.
I was pleased to discover Jon Tattrie and Paige Toon who were new to me. If I were to rate this batch of books, on a 5-star scale, I’d give 5 stars to Peace By Chocolate, 4.5 stars to The Giver of Stars and 4 stars to the other books. I linked the book titles to GoodReads.
While both The Giver of Stars and Peace by Chocolate are excellent stories of human resilience, compassion, kindness, love, family, friendship and community, I give an extra 0.5 point to Peace By Chocolate because it’s a true story of a family of Syrian refugees who settled in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The book is an easy read at about 200 pages. Does chocolate play a role in the story? Yes, Peace by Chocolate ships worldwide (this is not an affiliated link).
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #31! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a week of sunny days with fluffy clouds and fun activities. In this post, I’d like to share a new-to-me recipe and my walk in St. James Park.
Asparagus and Sausage Penne
This tray bake by chef Adam Liaw is a winner. I substituted asparagus for broccolini and penne for spaghetti. I skipped the optional anchovies and the red chili. It was an easy-to-make, quick and tasty meal. Sharing for #WhatsOnYourPlate challenge, hosted by Donna at Retirement Reflections and Deb at The Widow Badass.
A Walk in St. James Park
St. James Park is located at the intersection of King and Jarvis Streets in downtown Toronto. From spring 2018 to spring 2021, the park has undergone improvements and is a beautiful space to stroll and relax. The park layout has four entry plazas, one central plaza, plenty of benches and a formal garden. On the west side of the park is St. James Cathedral.
St. James Cathedral: The Cathedral Church of St. James is an Anglican cathedral. It is the location of the oldest congregation in Toronto, with the parish being established in 1797. The cathedral, with construction beginning in 1850 and opening for services in 1853, was one of the largest buildings in the city at that time. It was designed by Frederick William Cumberland and is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture.
Click on any image in the gallery to see it in full view. Sharing for #ThursdayDoors.
Arbour: The clematis covered wrought-iron arbour at the northeast entry plaza was added to St. James Park in the early 1980’s.
Lighting feature: The new lighting feature at the northeast entry plaza is a sculptural abstract interpretation of the St. James Cathedral in silhouette. It looks better at night when the lights are on.
Sculpture: The Robert Gourlay bust welcomes visitors coming into the park from the northwest entry plaza. Robert Fleming Gourlay (1778 – 1863) was a Scottish-Canadian writer, political reform activist, and agriculturalist. The bronze bust was created by Toronto sculptor, Adrienne Alison.
Playground: Families with young children enjoy the new market-themed playground that features elements such as the asparagus climber, giant-sized produce, a tower made of stacked farmer’s baskets, a merry go-round, a flexible seating platform under a tree perfect for story time and a small water-play area.
Pavilion: A new open-air park pavilion located on the east side of the enlarged central plaza. The pavilion, made of heavy timber columns and a trellis canopy with recessed lighting, is in part, inspired by the Gothic arches of the cathedral’s architecture. It’s suitable for a variety of community events.
The pavilion was officially named Michael Comstock Pavilion this summer. After a long lockdown, live music at an outdoor concert in St. James Park brought me tremendous joy. Below is the north view of the pavilion and the garden.
Garden: Walking trails traverse the grass and tree dotted area. The St. James garden in Victorian garden style was renovated in 2003 by landscape designer Wendy Shearer. It has several rose beds, shrubs, ornamental stone statues, and a fountain.
Seat Wall: The seat wall in the southwest plaza near the cathedral features a bronze silhouette of the architectural skyline of the area through several historic periods by Canadian artist Scott Eunson.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #27! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a typical warm week of summer with showers mid-week. Toronto’s cycling network has new routes, some are permanent and some are temporary pilots. I’m excited about new cycling possibilities and nice places to see, such as Berczy Park.
Berczy Park is named after William Berczy. Born as Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll in 1744 in Wallerstein, Germany, he later changed his name and studied at the Academy of Arts in Vienna, before sailing to the Americas in 1792. He was co-founder of York (now Toronto) in 1794 when John Graves Simcoe was Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.
Here are 5 things to see at Berczy Park for your weekend.
1- Gooderham “Flatiron” Building: The red brick building in the Gothic Revival style was designed by architect David Roberts and built in 1892 for George Gooderham, the president of Gooderham and Worts Distillery.
2- Flatiron Mural: Canadian artist Derek Besant created the Flatiron Mural on the rear wall of the “Flatiron” Building in 1980. It’s a beautiful optical illusion. Check out the amazing details and their ‘trompe l’oeil’ effects.
3- “Dog” Fountain: The park’s centrepiece is a two-tiered“Dog” Fountain with a unique and whimsical theme. 27 dog sculptures – and one cat – are situated around, in, and on the fountain, each spraying water from its mouth. A golden bone sits atop the fountain.
The fountain was turned off during the pandemic until June 11, 2021 when Ontario reopened. The flowing water is a welcoming sign that things might be returning to normal.
4- Jacob’s Ladder: Designed by Toronto artist Luis Jacob, the artwork encompasses two giant bronze hands, with a rope lattice suspended between the fingers, forming a whimsical string game. The rope lattice is to be installed. Once it’s in place, it’s perfect for climbing, swinging, or a backdrop for a play.
5- The William Berczy Family sculpture: The sculpture was designed by artist Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey and is in the south-east corner of the park.
Berczy became a well-known Canadian painter, architect, surveyor and writer before dying en route to England in 1813. His older son, William Bent Berczy, was a Member of The Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and a gifted painter. His younger son, Charles Albert Berczy, was the first president of the Consumers’ Gas Company from 1847 to 1856 and Postmaster of Toronto.
One more thing…The Garden in Berczy Park is lovely with a mix of plants, shrubs, trees and pretty flowers.
Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #26! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.
It was a warm and humid week with thunderstorms. I had a reflective Thursday July 1. It was Canada Day and the beginning of a new month. As usual, I look back at the previous month (June) and look forward to fun activities in July. Let me share what made June joyful with my nature-inspired photos.
Nature gave wonderful gifts in June: Sunny days, blue skies, green trees in parks, beautiful flowers in the gardens, sparkling water by the lake, fluffy white clouds, warmer temperatures, and some rain. Summer arrived on June 20 evening. I’ve been spending more time outdoors to savour all the good things that summer brings.
In June, I continued to keep myself healthy with regular cycling, walking, playing disc golf, body weight training, meditation and yoga. I’m fully vaccinated and feel good to do my part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
It helps that vaccination uptake has been phenomenal in Toronto and the city’s mask mandate in all indoor public spaces continues to September. On Sunday June 27, Toronto set a world record after 26,771 doses were administered in a single day in one clinic.
On June 2, Ontario ended the province-wide lockdown and allowed the province to gradually reopen in three steps. We started Step 1 on June 11 and Step 2 on June 30. This means I can do things such as outdoor dining with my family and friends and get a haircut.
I love exploring my home city by bike and on foot. I can easily stop when I see something interesting and go when I’m ready. Here are three public art displays that I stopped to photograph impromptu.
What I enjoyed
Cycling on the Waterfront trail and Toronto’s bike network.
Walking on green grass in parks.
Smelling floral scents and identifying new plants in the gardens.
Watching young goslings by the lake and listening to bird songs.
Savouring summer fruits and the occasional ice cream.
Viewing public art and learning about the artists.
Visiting Heritage buildings and tracing Toronto’s history.
Taking photographs of places and things that I like.
Blogging and hosting Weekend Coffee Share link-ups.
Learning French and Spanish on Duolingo.
June was a month with many beautiful flowers in the gardens.
What I read
I read five novels and brought my total of Books in 2021 to forty five. Here’s my list with asterisk indicating new-to-me author:
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#21! 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 Distillery District is a favourite place to explore Victorian industrial architecture, heritage buildings, interesting art installations, delightful coffee shops, a distillery, a beer brewery, a sake brewery, delicious restaurants, unique art galleries, and specialty stores.
What began as the Gooderham and Worts Distillery in 1832 grew to become the largest distillery in the world. The Distillery District was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988. Let me show you in pictures.
The Distillery District itself is popular with locals and visitors alike. Upon entering the district, you’ll be greeted by hues of dark green and burnt orange. You can wander the ten pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets to see more than forty heritage buildings, the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America.
A good meeting place is at the clock in the main square where one can see the Gooderham & Worts Limited sign and the streets that branch out from there.
The Stone Distillery and fermenting cellar built in 1860, rebuilt 1870, takes up a long block on Distillery Lane. It’s the building with white-grey stone colour. Its original use: Gristmill and granary, mashing and distillation areas, and steam engine room.
On Trinity Street, on display is the Millstone that was brought from England in 1832 and used for grinding grain. There’s history everywhere you look and I was interested in reading the Heritage Plaques indicating the original function of each building and its date of construction.
Green doors and windows are consistent throughout the Distillery District. However, their designs vary.
Spirit of York Distillery has taken up residence in what was once the Gooderham & Worts malting room. Spirit of York produce gin, vodka and whisky using locally sourced water from Springwater, considered some of the purest water in the world.
At the intersection of Trinity Street and Distillery Lane is the gigantic Still Dancing sculpture, a twisted and colourful depiction of the area’s past as a distillery, designed by artist Dennis Oppenheim.
Along Gristmill Lane, there are three notable Love, Peace and Red Heart art installations by Toronto-born artist Mathew Rosenblatt. The Love sign is filled with love locks.
Also on Gristmill Lane, Michael Christian’s I.T. sculpture looks over the neighbourhood with a red eye alien stare from its post.
Aside from public art installations, the Distillery District is home to more than twenty art galleries, two theatres, and many specialty shops.
Cafés and Eateries
The Distillery District is a wonderful place for wanderings with a stop for takeaway coffee and cake. Café Balzac’s is a local favourite. Inside this coffee shop, you’ll find exposed brick, vintage posters and chandeliers. The shelves are full of colourfully packaged coffee beans and tea, while the counter is lined with cookies, pastries and cakes.
The Distillery District offers something for every taste bud. Examples: Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie, El Catrin Destileria, Izumi Sake Brewery, Mill St. Brew Beer Hall, and Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill.
In normal times, the Distillery District is packed with people. I appreciate the lack of crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic and Toronto’s lockdown.
Although I’ve been to the Distillery District on many occasions, I’ve still only scratched the surface. You could easily spend an entire day here. My walk began and ended at Cherry and Mill Streets. It was a fantastic outing.
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 #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.
Magnolia trees are also blooming. It’s amazing to see the trees full of flowers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Hello blog friends! After a few cloudy weekdays with occasional showers, the sun returns 100% this weekend. The daytime high temperature reaches 9C (48F) which is good for this time of the year where I live. The clear blue sky and beautiful tree branches make me smile.
Today I share my monthly review for November and three outdoor sculptures in downtown Toronto. I did an art walk to visit about a dozen outdoor art installations. I include three of them in this post and hope you find them interesting.
The Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor is located at Front and Simcoe streets. It reminds me of strength, base, mountain ranges, height, the Canadian Rockies…In yoga the Mountain pose (Tadasana) is one of the foundational poses. To me, good health is the foundation or prerequisite to enjoy life.
Throughout November, I meditate daily, cycle and walk outdoors most mornings, and alternate body weight workouts and yoga at home. I use Lunden Sousa’s videos for my targeted workouts on different muscle groups. New instructor and new exercises require focus to learn the correct forms and create new mind-muscle connections. I get to make incremental changes and do a range of motions. It’s all good.
The regular fitness activities help me feel stable and strong like the mountains. Here’s my numbers for November:
30 meditation sessions
21 targeted workouts
19 cycling trips
13 full body workouts
12 yoga sessions
The Our Game sculpture by Edie Parker shows five excited young hockey players climbing over the boards ready for action. It’s located outside the Hockey Hall of Fame building at the northwest corner of Yonge and Front streets.
The exuberant looks and smiles of the young hockey players make me think of happy times with my family and friends, and hockey reminds me of Canada where my home is. With COVID-19 still around, it will be a while before I meet my family and friends face-to-face or attend a hockey game in person.
Starting on November 23, the Ontario government prohibits indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, for 28 days. I’m grateful for technology to stay connected and share laughs with my family and friends while being apart.
The Dream Ballet sculpture by Harvey Valentine consists of three stainless steel statues polished to a mirrored finish. They’re installed next to Meridian Hall, a major performing art venue, at the southeast corner of Yonge and Front streets.
In November, I got to enjoy interesting public art installations, blogs, books, films, and language lessons:
30 French and Spanish sessions
12 outdoor public art sculptures
11 books (see list below)
5 blog posts
1 film: Still Alice (Academy Award and Golden Globe winner)
The e-books that I read in November range from 305 to 460 pages each. They are all very good with detailed plots and many twists and turns. The first three books are Baldacci’s detective Amos Decker series. Once I started reading book #1, I wanted to read the next two books in the series. Mission accomplished! The remaining books are well written by authors that I’ve read before and two new-to-me authors (Giffin and Miller).
Memory Man by David Baldacci.
The Fix by David Baldacci.
The Last Mile by David Baldacci.
Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert.
You Say It First by Katie Cotugno.
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.
Paper Towns by John Green.
The Sight of You by Holly Miller.
Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng.
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.
A shout out to my blogger friend, Liesbet Collaert at Roaming About blog who just launched her debut travel memoir Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary. I’ve connected with Liesbet for a few years via blogging. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog and the Advance Reader Copy of her travel memoir.
Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary is a captivating and candid book where Liesbet shares her life events and travel adventures when she was in her 30s. Her overland and sailing adventures with her husband, Mark, and their two dogs, take her readers to many exotic locations such as Central America, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, and more.
Life at sea is not always easy. Liesbet shares the challenges they faced, not only the logistics of nomadic living but also their relationship and well-being over the years while sharing a small space and being far away from their families. Liesbet’s choice to live a life less ordinary requires her to be flexible, resilient, and resourceful. I highly recommend this memoir.
I’m looking forward to December when the city centre is beautifully decorated. It’s a wonderful sensory experience to walk around and take it all in. My holiday plan is simple, especially this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to share it with you in the next couple of blog posts before the year ends.
How did November go for you? Which of the three sculptures do you like? I’d love to hear your comments.