Saturday, August 27, 2016

Death by Water Bottle Cage.....

In addition to lists and puns, I do like the odd challenge - "odd" being the operative word. Nothing too daring, but something just a little beyond my grasp, so I have to stretch - but, not too much.

This is why I found myself on Fisherman's Wharf, in not so sunny San Francisco, renting a bicycle to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, it wasn't really my idea, but when the challenge was proposed, I thought, "why not." My daughter, you see, wanted to go the San Francisco. She graduated with a bachelor of community design (BCD) from Dalhousie and has decided to visit all the cities that were studied as examples of good community design in her courses. San Francisco was one of them.

She is also a baseball aficionado and wants to watch games in all the iconic baseball parks. As a result, we have been to Boston - Fenway Park, New York - (the old) Yankee Stadium and now San Francisco and (the new) Candlestick Park. Yes, it's not actually called Candlestick anymore - too bad, but the view is still awesome - right out over the bay and the boats still hover in the water just outside the park, trying to catch the fly balls that sail, as it were, out from right field!!

But I digress. We need to get back to that bike rental place on the wharf. Fortunately, the bikes were all the right size. They had helmets, of course, for the riders and water bottle cages!! Now you have to know that, although every one presumes that a water bottle cage on a bicycle is convenient, the positioning of them is often not. I hadn't realized just how inconveniently placed mine was, until I tried to dismount, suddenly. Yes, I almost impaled myself on the cage, which, fortunately, didn't have a water bottle in it, at the time, or things might have been a lot worse!!

Needless to say, there was no time to go back and change the bike, so I had to manoeuvre my body rather delicately up over and around bottle cage, bicycle seat and whatever else was in the way, to protect myself from losing my virginity for a second time!! All this I had to do while also negotiating throngs of walkers - with or without dogs, other cyclists - many of whom decided to stop at whim, mindless of anyone else in their path, and, of course, the odd stroller or three - one actually had several children and a dog attached - alas!

Fortunately, once we were clear of the pedestrian clutter, we had only two significant hills to climb. The bicycle traffic was busy, but not as busy as I knew it could be later in the day or on weekends. The actual biking itself was not that strenuous, it was all the other flotsam and jetsam that one had to navigate, while keeping the lower part of one's body away from the "snapping" cage.

There were, however, stretches of pure bliss over the bridge - all well worth the hassles - and the coasting downhill into Sausalito was epic!!. OK, I was terrified, because it was a very steep hill with a narrow bike path, that was actually just the shoulder of the road, but the cars were few and kind, so I made it in one piece, even if everyone behind had to slow to a crawl :)

More on sunny Sausalito and the return journey next post!!

Have an awesome day!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Let's Play Ball!!

I'm not what you would call a sport's person. The only physical activity I do, apart from gardening, is biking. I don't play, or even watch, tennis, golf, soccer, etc. and you would never catch me in a hockey arena. However, I do like baseball. To me it's a sport, that's more mental then physical. That is,

An old picture of the Dome

1. It has statistics. I think that it has more statistics than any other sport, I know. Well, the very few I know, anyway. I remember once, a long time ago, having an announcer quote a statistic for the number of times a pitcher's hat fell off during an inning. Now that's detail!!

2. It has history. My father always watched the world series. I knew that I could spend time with him, if I watched too. This is how, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees were, for a time, the only teams I ever cared about and our favourite was always the Dodgers.

3. Unlike hockey or football, it's not a body contact sport. It's more about speed, stealth and timing. I love seeing a well played "double play," a speedy stolen base, or a surprise snaring of a line drive. Plus, nothing matches a running dive or jump for a fly ball, that could go out of the park, except for a well placed glove.

4. It has rules, in the sense, that Chess has rules. Where to stand, how to swing, when to run and when not to run, fair balls, fouls balls, etc. these are the building blocks of the game. Break a rule and you are penalized. Know an obscure rule and you could win!

5. It has science. I have to believe there are more unique pitches in baseball, than shots on goal in hockey or soccer. Fast ball, curve ball, sinker, slider, or the maverick knuckle ball all push the boundaries of objects in motion. When hit, these pitches are further influenced by air pressure, wind, altitude and several other cosmic forces.

No, give me the subtleties of baseball, anytime, over the endurance of soccer, the rough and tumble of football or the noise of hockey.

CN Tower at night

Last night, we went, as a family, to the Roger's centre to watch the Blue Jays play the Kansas City Royals, winners of last year's world series. It was an evening of classic baseball. On a warm summer night, we had great food - popcorn, hot dogs, beer, exciting baseball - lots of hits, some amazing catches, home runs, double plays and nail biting tension, when Kansas City tied the score, late in the game. Fortunately, the Jays won before an ecstatic crowd of nearly 40,000.

Yes, for me, anyway, Baseball, especially at the dome, though we have been to Fenway Park and the original Yankee Stadium, is a great outing, particularly when the home team wins. Do I dare dream of another world series with the Jays in contention? Got my fingers crossed.

Have a great day.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Nature's Bistro

My husband and I biked another 20kms this Saturday along the Caledon Rail Trail. This time, we biked from Caledon East to Palgrave. Every section of the trail is not only lovely, but also has its own unique characteristics.

The special feature of this particular part of the trail is that it has one of the few benches on the entire 36kms of the linear park.  If you time it right, you can reach the designated stone slab about 12:00pm, just in time for lunch. I like to think of the spot as nature's Bistro.

Perched on top of a small cliff, our favourite "table" overlooks the credit river, which flows, at this point, through a broad valley directly below us. As the trail was a little busier than usual, we could nod and chat with the few people who passed by - a bit like being in a friendly restaurant.

Also, did I mention the flowers? They were everywhere. I couldn't imagine a prettier spot for a picnic of tuna sandwiches, seasoned with dill from the garden and cherries, which in another year might have come from our own cherry tree.

We really didn't need dessert, but Caledon East has a lovely little bakery. After we had biked back to the car, I left my husband to chose a pastry, while I chose a table outside, on the main street. It was a little busier than our table in the park, but it was interesting to watch the river of cars, go by.

Have a great day!!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The only constant is .........

.....change. Our neighbourhood is changing. Developers are moving in and buying up single family homes, planning to build multiple dwellings on the property acquired. Sigh! There are a few of us, though, who do not want to "sell out."

Our lots are very deep. For some, it's a chore looking after a long narrow lot. For me it's a challenge. I had originally thought, that if the price were right, we might sell and move to a 4-plex where we could give each of our children a unit and keep a pied-de-terre in the city. Then we could buy a garden with a house attached somewhere within driving distance.

However, I'm not sure that -

1. We could find just the right 4-plex.
2. The kids would want to live there.
3. We could find the right place out of the city.
4. I would want to drive to garden.
5. We want to retire just yet.

As a result, I decided to maximize the use of our garden. There has been a patch at the back which has been neglected for years. Now is the time to make it part of the overall plan. Here is what I did.

1. Had a tree company come in and trim up the trees to allow more light into the garden.
2. Brought in loads of Triple-Mix to enhance the soil.
3. Planted vegetables along with flowers.
4. Cleaned the weeds and overgrown perennials from a few of the back corners.
5. Planted more rose bushes.
6. Transplanted, rearranged and generally tamed the original plantings.

The pictures are a result of my efforts. I've been harvesting the thinnings of the lettuce and beet greens for salads and I am anxiously awaiting produce from the tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas and cantaloup, ymmmm!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Riding the rails.....

....or at least the linear park created, when they take up the rails. I have to give it to the person(s) who first thought up the concept of a linear park and to the people, who maintain those parks today. They are amazing!! The death of the short run railway, has been the birth of the extended bicycle path.

Last year we invested in two sturdy bikes and a bike rack. Cycling in the city is still too dangerous, for me anyway. So, we decided to get our exercise on the weekend, by cycling various linear parks about an hour's drive away.

Last year we biked The Caledon Rail Trail in short sections. This year we are doing the same trail in longer sections. In fact, last weekend we biked 10km along the path from its beginning in Terra Cotta to Inglewood, passing through Cheltenham along the way. That's three very pretty towns reached through rural fields and secluded forests on an almost empty trail!!

This weekend, we biked 10km from Inglewood to Caledon East, another pretty town a little closer to Toronto. The closer to a main centre you get, the busier the trail becomes, but it's still not crowded. In total we cycled about 20km a Saturday, because, of course, we have to bike back to the car, after reaching our destination.

The pictures - pretty spots along the trail and my wonderful odometer!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Jameses.......

Brilliant is the only word to describe the concept of the "Jameses," - a theatrical event, now on a world tour. It is:

1. A trilogy of three plays about James I, James II and James III, who ruled Scotland during the 1400s.

2. An 11-hour epic of amazing theatre - all three plays were meant to be viewed in succession, in one day.

3. Being staged at the decommissioned Hearn generating station near Leslie St. spit - just the perfect place. In it's crumbling state, the Hearn resembles an ancient castle, battered by the forces of time.

4. Performed by actors from The National Theatre of Scotland, who are amazing.

5. Written by Rona Munro, just prior to the referendum to decide, if Scotland should leave the UK. Plays for times of change - then and now!!

We saw James I last Tuesday evening. It was stunning!! The play fitted perfectly into a theatre, which featured on-stage seating, balconies and galleries made from old shipping containers, a five story ceiling, with supporting walls of poured concrete, and a haunting darkness in the absence of overhead lighting. I was transported.

The only negative was the portable toilettes. Really, when you are paying $100.00 a ticket, you expect something a little better than a dilapidated "Johnny on the Spot."

Still, the experience was worth the inconvenience - Luminato, you rock!!

Have a brilliant day!!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ile d'Orleans

Saturday was the end of our stay in La Malbaie. We left about 10:00am to drive the 2.5 hours back to Quebec city, with stops along the way. We gave Isle aux coudres a miss. It was another short ferry ride and I had already had three ferry rides on this trip.

Ste Anne de Beaupre was a disappointment. The grandness of the shrine was lost in the mile or two of tawdry motels, fast food outlets and tourist shops which flanked the basilica on either side. I realize that visitors need a place to stay, but it looked more like a theme park than a place of worship. Whatever happened to hushed silence and awe!!

We turned off the road to visit Montmorency Falls, which might have been spectacular, but we really couldn't work out the venue. The parking lot looked more like an industrial after thought and had the nerve to charge $12.00 to park in a muddy rut. From here, you saw the lower end of the falls and could climb to the upper levels, which, I understand, are even more spectacular. Somehow, I thought that this entrance should have had a little more ceremony about it. It needed more of a presence, if the falls were, indeed, as grand as the travel books said they were.

 I couldn't blame jet lag for my ennui, but I could blame the weather. It wasn't actually raining, but it was still very cold, windy and alas, threatening rain. We finally decided to visit Ile d'Orleans. It's a rural oasis on an island just a stone's throw from the centre of Quebec city. With its winding roads, whimsical farms, quaint villages, and period houses, it really could be a Disney theme park, but it isn't. It's real and they were selling local strawberries at roadside stands.

We were thinking of the island as a possible biking trail, but cyclists were given a tiny strip of the road, not a dedicated bike path and the roads were narrow, hilly, at times, and fairly busy. Many brave souls, though, were biking away, in spite of these conditions. It must be something in the French constitution, after all the biggest bike race in the world is in France!!

Fortunately, the evening was warmer. We were able to sit out at our favourite restaurant, Le Lapin Sauté, for - you guessed it - rabbit, in some of its many forms. The air was festive, the weather dry, the wine, good and our hotel close by.

Home tomorrow - have a great day!