Thursday, May 29, 2014

Twitter, Tweets and Dandelion Seeds

I left work early today because it was such a beautiful day!! Actually, I did make an early morning meeting sponsored by our BIA on how to use Twitter to promote your business and other businesses or individuals in your circle(s), so I think that I can justify leaving an hour or two earlier at the other end of the day :) This morning's talk was quite fascinating and since I have had Twitter accts since 2008 and have never really used them effectively, this was a very good session.

Our presenter was Vicky @momwhoruns, who has built a business around helping others maximize their presence on this popular forum. We all met @TheChefUpstairs on Mt Pleasant, who had coffee and treats waiting for us - too bad I had just eaten. Vicky began her talk by telling us how she had met, Greg Heller, The Chef Upstairs. Apparently, a year or so ago, Vicky's car wouldn't start, after an appointment she had had on Mt Pleasant. She posted to Twitter that she was waiting for a tow truck to give her a boost. Because Vicky is a "Foodie," one of her 6,000 odd followers was Greg. He happened to be on Twitter at the time and responded with his address and asked if she wanted a boost. They met and have been friends ever since.

Vicky's enthusiasm for Twitter convinced me that I needed to use it more, so I am now building up my Twitter presence. However, I decided it was much better to work electronically outside in my garden, that way, I could hear the real "tweets" while creating some electronic ones. I also managed a walk through the cemetery today and realized that if I ever needed to make a new friend or two in the area, I could just post that I would be doing an hour's walk and welcome anyone close by to come along :)

The picture? Those wonderful wishes created by the ubiquitous Dandelion - they were everywhere in the cemetery today. I like to think that their seeds are like the messages on Twitter, spreading everywhere. I really have to get use to them (dandelions), though and try to put a positive spin on their presence, because they are not going to go away anytime soon. With Toronto's ban on pesticides, they might outlive everything, natural and/or digital - a potpourri of a day - See you on Twitter :)

Have a wonderful day!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Life Without Impatience :)

This does not mean a "patient life." This means that the ubiquitous, shade loving plant known as Impatiens, (sounds like impatience) will be few and far between for the next few years, in Toronto anyway, because of a blight, downey mildew. I can't imagine Toronto, without Impatiens. We have a lot of shade trees in the city, which form our urban forest. To have any colour in summer at all, most people plant the brightly hued Impatiens to add a little sparkle to the green.

OK, there are a few other annuals that will add some colour to the shade too. Begonia is one and the colourful leaves of Coleus is another. These have always taken a backseat, though, to the showy Impatiens. Not this year!! If ever there were a year to shine for these second cousins, once removed, it's this year and maybe the next four or five. Downey mildew is, apparently, very difficult to eradicate and most greenhouses must use a slash and burn process to eliminate it. It takes a while to come back from this sort of trauma.

Our floral situation reminds me of the patience of the "under study." There are few times in this life, when we really get a chance to shine and often it's because something has "happened" to the main performer. Then lo and behold, we get to have centre stage!! We have been patient and our time has come. Begonia has also been patient and now it's her time to shine, along with her quiet companion, Coleus.

Have patience and you too could be the Impatiens of this world....if this makes any sense and really we do have to try to make sense of it all!!

Have a sensible day :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Last night we drove out to Etobicoke to visit friends for dinner. They had moved, so we looked up their new address in Goggle maps to get directions. My husband, not a Toronto native, relies heavily on Google maps, I rely heavily on the Gardiner Expressway.

Gardiner eclipsed by a speeding Go train

I read the printout of the directions and started to laugh - Who takes Eglinton Ave. across town, especially when the destination is just north of Bloor St.? Anyway, on the map, it did look like the most direct route was Eglinton, to St. Clair, to Dundas to The Kingsway. It was convoluted, as Google maps often are. Anyway, since my husband was driving, I decided to let him make the decision - Google or Gardiner. He chose the Google suggested route.

Spirits of the night

With many twists and turns, we managed to get there. We even found the street maked, Florence - never heard of it and managed to miss the street marked, Old Dundas Rd - really just a slip road down to the Humber River.

CN Tower and Skydome through glass

After a lovely visit, we asked our friends for the best way back. Definitely, the Gardiner, was their immediate reply. I smiled, in my "see-I-told-you-so" smile, as we headed pretty directly to the Gardiner. No sooner had we entered the point of no return - the on-ramp, when we stopped dead! The two open lanes (one was closed for construction) were narrowed down to one because of an accident. It took us an hour to get home, when it had only taken us half an hour to get to our friends via the circuitous Google route. My husband was not happy :)

A steady crawl home.
I busied myself taking night pictures of the Gardiner. As you see there were moments, when we were moving.

Have a great day!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

It Never Ceases To Amaze Me.....

....the more I know, the more I know, I don't know - said by someone famous and a quick Google search tells me it was either Aristotle or David Byrne - take your pick. Someone posted to my FB wall today about the origin of the Vulcan sign - "Live Long and Prosper." It was actually created by Leonard Nimoy himself from the sign for the Hebrew letter, Shin.

Here is a more detailed description from the blog, "Eve Out of the Garden." When Leonard was a boy, he attended Synagogue for the Jewish high holidays and "peeked" during a blessing, while the rest of the congregation covered their eyes. For the blessing the Rabbi formed his hands in the sign of the shin, which is actually the first letter for the name of God, Shaddai, in Hebrew, as well as, the first letter for Shalom, a greeting.

And here is an interview with Nemoy discussing the origin of his sign on Youtube. I'm sorry I can't imbed the video; you'll have to click the link. What is implicit in the interview is Dr. Spock's opinion of all the trekkies who feel that they can connect with him via the sign. Yes, they can make the hand signal and know that it means "Live long and prosper." However, very few, if any, know the true meaning of the sign.

There is deep and then there is really deep. I now know why I sit through several hundred cat and dog videos, because every once in awhile the cosmos sends me something that is really worth knowing. Thank you.

The picture? From a sign in Paris. I took it because I knew at one point I could use it in a post to illustrate an "I have seen the light" moment. I have a feeling, I may be using it often :)

Have an inspiring day!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On the science of laundry baskets.....

I rarely do the laundry. I have written about this before - my mother never ironed and I have taken it one step further and rarely even do the laundry, much less iron it!! The kids and my husband muddle through and we wear grey a lot. If cleanliness, as far as laundry is concerned, is next to godliness then I'm an atheist - sorry - yes, I'm also Canadian.

So this morning, when my husband asked me to go down two flights of stairs and bring up the laundry from the dryer, I was a little shocked!! Then I remembered yesterday's post about Raok (Random Acts of Kindness) and I thought, "OK, I can do this." I also wasn't about to say, "This is not my job," because I had just read a post by my local councillor about a bus driver who left his bus, with people on it, for 30 minutes and his union didn't think that anything was wrong!! What about all those people trying to get to their non-union jobs on-time??

But I digress - back to earth or middle-earth - the washer and dryer are in the basement. Fortunately, there was an empty laundry basket there and I was able to load, with some pushing and shoving, the entire contents of the dryer into just one basket. They really should make laundry baskets the size of washing machine loads, because that's what the kids put in the washing machine - overloads!!

Smaller laundry baskets would also mean that they would fit, while being carried, through a standard doorway, without skinning the knuckles of the transporter. I like the curved, fit-on-the-hip ones, but these are for small light loads and for transporters with waists. Actually smaller baskets lined up at the top of the stairs and labelled - whites, coloured, delicate etc. might be a solution to the overloads and the grey.

I know, God really wants me to, not only be a believer, but also to have a more organized laundry system. He works in mysterious ways :)

The picture? I never mind pegging out - in Europe anyway :)

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Raok stands for Random Acts of Kindness. I got a post to my FB wall from someone new last night. I'm never really sure these days how I get the feeds I do, but I think this one came about because I am a member of a blogging group, to which I post occasionally.

Anyway I was humbled!! Here is the link to a blog by Jenny Cole, who is a very organized Raoker. That is, she sets about everyday to add a little kindness to someone's life and to hopefully make the world a better place. Someone sent Jenny a book which has 365 random acts of kindness in it - as if she needed it. Now I could use this book, partly because I don't wake up every morning deciding how I am going to make someone else's day better. I wake up just hoping that I can make it through my day!!

Here are a few of the suggestions from the book -
1. Text someone goodnight.
2. Pay for someone's meal.
3. Record someone's favourite program.
4. Plant a flower in someone else's garden.
5. Stand outside of a weight watcher's meeting and tell everyone how slim they look.

The last one is a bit extreme, but I do tell people often how great they look!! In fact I even took out the garbage this morning, because my husband had forgotten to last night. This wasn't really a random act, this was a necessity.

Now, I do remember stories of wives and mothers who put little love notes in the lunches they prepared. This always made me feel very inadequate. Maybe I could just leave a nice note on a windshield, when someone has parked responsibly. This would be nicer than reaming someone out for parking in my parking spot at work. I do have difficulty seeing the other side of things. I guess he did have to take up two parking spots - mine and the one beside - to run down and buy a coffee. If he had parked on the street, he would have had to pay and extra .25 cents (parking) for the coffee.

Oops, there I go again - not so random acts of hostility, rather than very random acts of kindness. I'll let you know how the day goes!!

The picture? I always give away seeds from my wild tulips to anyone who asks.

Have an awesome day!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


No I am not about to give up everything and just leave or change directions without some thought to the matter. Yesterday, I posted about challenges and skydiving - a challenge, I am not about to take. However, I am approaching a turning point. My husband will retire in a year and a half and we have to make some decisions. Well, we actually don't have to do anything, really. We could just "retire." However, I need a project!! There has to be some purpose to the daily toings and froings and a goal to achieve!! I am obviously a person who cannot live in the moment without the future firmly fixed in the signage ahead.

Here are a few ideas that I will bring to the table for discussion, when the time comes.

1. I have always wanted to create a magical garden. Fortunately, my husband enjoys gardening too. It would mean selling the house and buying a place with land in an area where the winters are milder. If we stayed in Ontario, this would mean somewhere along the shores of Lake Erie. Hmmmm

2. I have always been interested in "doing" Art. But these activities would be more about me, since my husband doesn't have a hands on type of hobby. He reads or follows Baseball. We could, though, keep the house and not have to turf the kids out.

3. Experiment with living in another country, by trying to see, if we can afford to keep the house and still winter somewhere warm. It would be a project to document.

4. Take on a number of walking challenges, such as bits of the Camino or other famous walks. This would take some planning. Climbing all those stairs in France, suggested that I would really like to do long, but easy walks. I hope they exist!!

Well, I've started thinking about change. This is always dangerous. But I have time to ponder and mull over the "what ifs." I also have a garden, here and now, to get into shape!! Sigh

The picture? My unruly front garden (last year), where I just spent three hours yesterday, on three square feet of turf, digging out several invasive species including Lily of the Valley... and I want more??

Have a wonderful day!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Free Fall....

I've been out of the loop for almost three weeks. That is, I've been on vacation and life has been easy!!! It was all about spending money, not making money. It was all about easy choices - where to go, what to do, without worrying about the must do's of the daily grind.

Blogging was easy too. Writing about the lovely places you've been and the fun things you've done, with lots of pictures, is not work. Reality is work!! This is how I came to my screen this morning, brain dead. I now have to work at coming up with an idea for a post. Fortunately I have a network of on-line blogging friends, whose posts are inspiring. One of my favourite bloggers is Stephen King - that's "the other Stephen King," TOSK, who is also a published author.

Stephen's blog today was about expertise and how you get it, especially in writing. He linked to another blog from another writer, Kristen Lamb, who posted recently about skydiving and it's relationship to life :) Well, yes, I was looking for a topic and maybe another small challenge, however, I didn't really have skydiving in mind.

Kristen's post, though, reminded me of a friend who did an assisted dive at the age of 70. Barb has set the bar really high for anyone approaching that decade. I know with my ultimate fear of heights and my occasional fear of death, I will not be attempting this in the near future or even the distant future for that matter!!

So what do I do to alleviate the routine, the hum drum? How do I keep life from being "boring?" I have tried, through my blogs, to elevate the ordinary, to look at what might be common and uninspiring and give it a new life. In fact, I even have a post on sieves. OK, it's exciting in the way philosophy is exciting. :)

Hmmmm - well, I have also rummaged in the corners of my mind for the not so ordinary. I actually have a post on the Ablative Absolute. Double Hmmmm. I guess it's time to ramp things up a bit and go for the metaphorical "free fall," whatever that may be.

Oops, I may have just written myself into a corner and the only way out is to jump. More thoughts on the leap in my next post.

The picture? I took this in a gallery that said "no pictures." However, I presumed that they meant of the art work there. At one point, one of the security people had left their post and a sculpture was casting an interesting shadow over the vacated chair. I couldn't resist. I really didn't have time to line up the shot or take a few more interesting angles. It is, what it is and it tells a story or makes a comment. It needs a caption, however. Please add one in the comments.

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back to Reality.....

We are now back home and the vacation seems like a dream, in the face of the reality of a house not cleaned in almost three weeks. My daughter had decided to park her bike in the dining room for the week that she was here on her own and my son, who was in and out, fed the cats and maybe watered the plants - they're a little yellow - in the time that he was here.

Foie Gras with Claret Jelly

I always spend and hour or so, even before unpacking, wiping down counters, sweeping floors, after I find the broom, and generally taking off a layer of grime. I know, somewhere along the line, I have failed as a parent!!

All this re-adjusting aside, we had a great trip and a safe return. Air Transat still doesn't fly direct non-stop to Toronto from Marseille, so we had to put down, for what should have been an hour, in Montreal. Passengers travelling onto Toronto were told (several times) not to de-plane, still an older couple left the plane with the first wave of travellers and were waiting for their baggage at the carousel in Montreal. They apparently travel with earplugs in and didn't hear the announcement, although all the literature and signage noted that this was a Montreal - Toronto flight!! There is a lesson here!!

Lappin' up the lapin - tenderloin of rabbit.

Unfortunately, because of this delay, we had to sit on the tarmac for an extra hour and a half in Montreal because we had lost our window for landing in Toronto and it had to be re-scheduled. Still we arrived home in the early evening, TO time, and could wonder at the blossoming of Spring, which it seems has finally arrived!!

Aix by lamplight and moonlight

For the most part, we had a great holiday, we were careful with our belongings and nothing was stolen. No one got lost, or if they did, they found themselves again and never mentioned the incident. There were no injuries, although my husband got a nasty cold, which he kept to himself, so as not to spoil the holiday for others.

We were only "ripped off" twice. Once in Cannes at a fruit market, where we ended up paying $14.00 for two small tomatoes and a pint of strawberries and in Aix-En-Provence, when the taxi, taking us to the airport, turned a 20 km ride into a 35 minute trip and charged us $90.00 rather than $60.00. Next time I will take the shuttle bus. Actually the person, who looked after the rental of our apartment in Aix, offered to call the cab for us, when we "checked in." There may have been some collusion here!!

I don't count the price of a coffee on the Champs Elysees, as a rip-off. We went in with eyes wide open and enjoyed every minute of it!!

Comparing France with Italy, last year's vacation, is very difficult. It's easier and cheaper to eat in Italy, in fact, over half the restaurants in France were Italian or, at least, served pizza and pasta. Italy is warmer, primarily because of its location, however, there were more markets and more food stores in France. The cheeses in France are softer and more varied and the bread, awesome!! French for me was easier than Italian and our son really got into trying to speak French all the time he was there. This is a child who barely passed the requisite grade 9 French in high school, with the assistance of a King's ransom in tutors - go figure!!

The pictures? Just a wrap up of the south of France!!

Have an awesome day!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

To Market To Market.....

......I love markets!!! My husband loves food markets and I do too; but I also love, love, love an artists' market. Here are a few pictures.

There were some paintings

Some clever recycling

Lots of whimsey

Food as art

Flying home today. Very sad to leave, but had a great time!!

Have a fabulous day!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Eventful Day

Sunday was both Mother's Day and my husband's 65th birthday. Over the years, his birthday has always been eclipsed because it falls, just before, on, or just after Mother's Day. I decided to forget about Mother's Day this year and make his birthday the focus of the day.

Nick opening the Champagne

I sent the kids out the night before for Champagne, since I wasn't sure what would be open on Sunday. I knew, though, that all the pastry shops would be open, so the kids went out again on Sunday to choose something that would work for a cake. They bought three little tarts, gorgeous confections in raspberry, chocolate, and strawberry, all smothered in cream. They were absolutely wonderful!!

Katherine guarding the treats!

Since we usually re-group around 4:00 or 5:00 o'clock at the flat, to get ready for dinner, I decided that we could do the surprise party then. Fortunately the skies had cleared in the afternoon and we could hold our little party on the terrace. It was special.

The birthday celebrant!!
We also happened upon two open air markets today. One was a crafts market and the other was full of wonderful antiques. Pictures in the next post!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Life in Bric-a-Brac.....

We arrived in Aix-en-Provence after a two hour train journey, ten minute shuttle bus ride and five minute taxi hop to more stairs!! Cheaper accommodation obviously means third, fourth or fifth floor digs without an elevator.

There are only 65 or so steps up to our apartment here, however, it is on three floors so there is another 12-15 stairs to get from the bedrooms and bathrooms (2) to the kitchen and living room area and then another 12-15 stairs to get to the roof or terrace.

The place is spacious enough except that the decorating style is at best, early clutter!! Every square inch of every wall, ledge and counter is filled with posters, figurines and just plain junk!! It's an assault to the eyes, after our very tasteful place in Cannes.

We are, however, two minutes walk from the market and right in the centre of the old town. There are bistros, bars, shops and monuments everywhere. It's picture-perfect-Provence!!

More outside pictures later.

Have a tasteful day!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cannes by Night

We have eaten "in" more here than we did in Paris, mainly because the view from our apartment is better than the view from most of the restaurants in Cannes. The kitchen is large enough to prepare food and the market, which is two minutes away, has more than enough easy to prepare basics, already cooked or cured pates, tempanades, sausages, cheeses etc and lots of just plain raw fruits, vegetables and tartares.

After dinner, if I'm not too tired from my 15 to 20,000 steps of the day, we often take a walk beside the sea.

Cannes is very pretty and a little quieter at night.

Although our back street still buzzes.

Saturday we catch the 8:00am train for Aix-en-Provence in preparation for our flight home from Marseille on Tuesday, sigh!

Have a wonderful day!!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Nice, Antibes etc......

We took two other day trips, besides going to St. Paul de Vence. On Tuesday, we went to Nice and Thursday, Antibes. Nice is the fifth largest city in France, so it is quite big with an impressive main street lined with lovely shops. At the bottom of this street is a wonderful square and beyond the square is the beach.

Small streets lead down to the old town and the famous market area bordered by delicious restaurants. Although the beach is more pebbles than sand, it is quite wide and very long, encompassing the entire arc of the bay, which is also edged with a wide promenade and a substantial city wall.

Unfortunately, it was overcast and windy, on the day we visited, so we didn't spend much time on the promenade. Once inside the city wall, though, it seemed warmer and we could sit outside for drinks and snacks.

Some people really love Nice!! I think that I have to go back on a sunny day!!

Antibes is much smaller with a really pretty old town, a large marina and a good beach. It is much quieter than Cannes, with elevated walkways along the ramparts of the stone walls and lots of narrow, winding streets.

The predominant language is British, though, with several "pubs" for those tourists, who may be feeling a little homesick! In Cannes, the language you hear most often is French.

Above is a church in Antibes painted in the colours of the Mediterranean. It will be difficult to leave!!

Have a colourful day!!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

St. Paul de Vence

Before we left on vacation, several people recommended that we go to the hill town, St Paul de Vence. The guide books also raved about it, so we set out by train and then by a bus which climbed into the mountains to reach the town. The place is really a "must see." It's a museum of tiny cobbled streets, carved out of rock, that wind up through rows of stone houses, which, on the main streets, are wonderful art galleries, tasteful boutiques and quaint cafes. Real people actually live in lovely apartments on the side streets, so there is also a "lived in" quality to the town, albeit, a very upscale lived in quality!!

We had packed a lunch, which we almost didn't eat, because my husband decided that, if we could get into a very popular restaurant here, we would. Unfortunately, we needed reservations, so lunch was the ham and cheese sandwiches, in the backpack, that my husband had forgotten to take off on the train, so they were a little squished :) Although it was mainly sunny and warm in sheltered places, there was a strong wind blowing down the mountain and through the town. I wouldn't come here on a cold day. Some restaurants actually provided blankets for patrons at exposed tables.

The bus we took starts in Nice, although we boarded it at Cagnes Sur Mer. If you board the bus in Nice, you can usually get on, however, it fills up quickly along the route and the first bus that passed us was full. Fortunately another bus was added, or else it would have been another 45 minute wait and maybe another full bus. You avoid these glitches with an organized tour, but then, we would never have met Annabel.

Because of the irregular bus schedules, several of us at the stop in Cagnes Sur Mer were wondering, if there would ever be another bus. Since we were all in the same boat (err bus), we started chatting. We actually had a long conversation with a young woman, from Guatemala. We connected immediately, because our two youngest were born in Guatemala. Annabel told us that she was studying French cooking here and that her family owned a restaurant in the small town of Mazatenango. Our paths crossed several times that day and in the end, she gave us her business card, saying that if we were ever in Guatemala to be sure to look her up. Nicholas has already planned a holiday next year to visit Annabel.

Have an awesome day!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Ile St Honorat

A twenty minute ferry ride from Cannes is the tiny island of St Honorat, which became famous in 420 A.D. when a holy man named, Honoratus, established a religious community there. The monastery became a focal point for pilgrimages and it is said that even St. Patrick may have studied here.

The population of monks dwindled over the years, mainly because of raids by sacracens and pirates and the island was eventually sold to a famous actress, in the early 1800s. Fortunately, in 1857, the island was bought back by the church and a monastery was again established, which is still thriving today!

It takes about an hour to walk completely around Ile St. Honorat at a gentle pace, on a broad tree lined path. Day-trippers escaping the hustle and bustle of Cannes, picnic or sunbathe on the rocks along the rugged coast. There is a restaurant near the ferry dock and a small shop, which sells the wine, made on the island. The monks support themselves by maintaining vineyards, making wine and selling it to visitors like us. Or maybe visitors with more money than us because it's fairly pricey, but good. We had a glass, while waiting for the ferry back to Cannes.

Tourist among the monks :)
There is a similar, larger island, St Margarethe, slightly closer to Cannes, which allows cars and has a small marina, however, I wanted to go to St Honorat, because of the contrast. It was lovely!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Strategies in Cannes

Now that my daughter is here, we have to have plans. She hasn't the patience to wander around idly, reading menus and spending ages to decide where to go, what to do or where and what to eat. Last night we sent my husband out, as a scout, to find one or two places that would "work," before we all set out.

I was left at home to hustle the kids along or we might end up eating just before the restaurants close or maybe even after they close. That sense of timelessness is a state squandered by the young. I still build a little of it into my days, accept that I get up earlier to do it. Wasting time is a luxury, which is difficult to justify sometimes on a travelling holiday, with so much to see and do, however, you still need to relax!!

Here are some pictures taken, while idling around without a plan. The first one is our apartment in Cannes. The two top windows on the right are part of the large principal room which is a combination living room, dinning room and kitchen. It does have a roll out couch, but to have 6 stay here would be a little crowded!!

This is the view at dusk looking straight ahead out of those windows and below is the view to the left. I must have run out of time, because I don't have a view to the right. Another time :)

One morning, my husband and I walked up to a small church that is situated on a promontory above the harbour. It provided some interesting views.

Above is the more residential side of Cannes and below is the very commercial side. The white tents are not "open" as yet, but they will be after May 14, when the famous film festival starts. Our apartment rent will treble then, as will a lot of other costs, I'm sure. Fortunately or unfortunately, we'll be back home.

The large white building in the centre is the festival hall and casino. In the afternoon we escaped to  Ile St Honorat, just a short ferry ride away!! More on that tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!!