Thankful for One More Splendid Day In November

….Nov. 29th proved to be an awesome day for a walk

I’m so happy that my husband and I could enjoy one more mild day in November and get out for our longest walk yet. We were in good company. I think half the neighbourhood decided to take advantage of this good weather.

One pleasant surprise was seeing the para sailors out with their kites on the water. I’m sure the Lake must be very cold but that didn’t deter these hearty souls from enjoying skimming across the water and flipping through the air.

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I said earlier that this is the longest walk we’ve done in awhile. My husband managed to make it all the way to the point and back which is approximately 4.6 kilometres. The cyclist, dog walkers and even the fishermen were out on Sunday. It’s a good thing we all took advantage of the good weather because the last day of November turned out to be cold, grey and rainy.

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A COVID Picnic in November

with this unusually warm and sunny weather in the last weekend of November we were able to get together with family for an outdoor picnic

Every time I say that we’ve seen the end of the good weather for awhile we get these amazing days. So we decided to make the most of it and I organized a picnic lunch with my daughter and her family who live in Hamilton. They thought it was a great idea and they drove to Toronto to spend some time with me and my husband.

I quickly drove to the deli up the street and picked up fresh buns, cheese, coldcuts and a few jam filled Polish donuts. I made up sandwiches and packed our lunches in separate bags and with masks on we started to walk to Col. Sam Smith Park which is about a kilometre from the house. After awhile we took off our masks and stayed socially distant from each other.

It was a lovely walk and we found a bench to sit on and Gaelan’s family sat on the rocks so we could enjoy our lunch. It’s these small pleasures in life that make for memorable moments and help make the isolation of COVID bearable.

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Water, Water Everywhere – November 27, 2020

thanks to Jez for hosting Water, Water Everywhere https://jezbraithwaite.blog/2020/11/23/water-water-everywhere-52-fan-of-85/

The Pond in Col. Sam Smith Park

On our walk today I noticed that the water levels in Lake Ontario and the pond that feeds into the lake are considerably lower than what we’ve begun to consider normal. My husband and I were discussing the theories as to why this happens. With the polar ice cap melting we would expect it to rise so a lot of strange conspiratorial theories were being thrown about to our amusement.

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Humber College Through the Trees

….today’s walk with Kevin

While the weather is still somewhat pleasant and my husband is feeling relatively well, we’ve been taking walks together around the neighbourhood and over to the parks. Today we got as far Col. Sam Smith Park and headed up towards Humber College.

I love the grounds and the old buildings of the south campus. These building used to be part of the old psychiatric hospital that closed down in the the late 70s. The buildings were all restored to their former glory but instead of hospital wards they became classrooms and offices for Humber College. Some of you might even recognize one of the buildings that was used in the Police Academy movies before the restoration took place.

Now that the leaves have all fallen I found it interesting to shoot some of these old buildings through the branches for a slightly different perspective.

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A New Painting – Madeline’s Garden

this painting reminds me so much of my friend’s mother’s garden

I’m getting ready for a new show in January and I’m experimenting with a new technique of intuitive painting. You would never know that this painting was going to end up as a floral when I started. I think a lot of my paintings will go in that direction but because it’s abstract and intuitive it could take a completely different turn. Spoiler alert: the second painting is also a floral abstract but quite different from this one.

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First Snow and Christmas Lights

….pulled out the lights and strung them on the outside tree

On the weekend we cleaned up the garden and put away the lawn furniture. We took out the snow shovel and snow blower and put the garden tools and rakes back in the garage. I also found the outdoor Christmas lights and dragged them out as well.

On Saturday our eldest daughter came over helped me put up the lights. This has to be the earliest I’ve ever put up the lights. I’m usually the one who gets to it a few days before Christmas. This year because of COVID we decided to try and make the Christmas season as cheerful as possible seeing that there will be no Santa Claus parade, shopping mostly on-line or curb side pick-up and no family gatherings.

We’re planning on a Zoom Christmas for now. In Toronto we’re in lockdown again for at least four weeks. To keep our spirits up we’re planning on decorating as normal, doing a cookie exchange and doing drop off deliveries of presents and goodies.

Our first snow was pretty slim down by the lake but other parts of Toronto and north of the city there was quite a bit of snow. Most of it has now melted but I’m sure there will be lots more to come in the next few months.

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first snow by the lake

I’m glad we got the lights up when we did. It was probably the last nice day for awhile. Now that they’re up it helps boost my mood and I’m starting to pull out more decorations.

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My Favourite Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake

….a small but mighty winery

Part 2

You know a winery is good when the local restaurants all have their wine on the menu. We were introduced to Marynissen years ago when we first started visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake. On our last trip we learned that Marynissen was the first winery in Ontario to plant the cabernet sauvignon grape and now 48 years later they are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their cabernet sauvignon wine.

While there we sampled this special wine and I have to say it was spectacular. The tasting room is very unpretentious but the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. We walked away with a case of wine. Hopefully we can hang on to some of it for the holidays.

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A Short Visit to Wine Country

after the shock of losing my Dad and having to deal with the immediate paperwork we decided we needed a break

We were surprised that some of our favourite places outside the city were booked in the middle of the week, even during COVID. Toronto and the Greater Toronto area has more restrictions in place because of higher positive test cases so I guess people were looking for places, like us, to get away to.

We finally found a great old mill that was converted into an inn in the outskirts of St. Catharines. It was very close to all the places we wanted to visit and it had a fantastic restaurant on the premises. The Stone Mill Inn was located in a once very industrial area and my husband immediately recognized it because one of his father’s favourite drinking establishments was just around the corner. That’s a story for another time.

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We had dinner at the Italian restaurant in the Inn that evening and were pleased and relieved that the place was not busy. All the safety protocols were in place and the servers all wore masks. The food was fantastic.

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We decided to forgo the outlet mall on our first full day of exploring. We headed straight for Niagara-on-the Lake and made our first stop at the Wayne Gretzky Winery. A lot of wineries are now expanding their inventory to include beer and spirits and interestingly enough it was the whiskey here that we preferred. I’m not much of a whisky drinker but I loved the salted caramel whiskey. I guess some people would argue that salted caramel is an abomination to that classic spirit but it was flying off the shelf.

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Our next stop was the old town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We walked down the main street and browsed through some of the stores and of course we had to stop in the local bakery and pick up my husband’s favourite pastry, eccles cakes.

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Back to the Inn for another amazing meal and more adventures the next day……..

End of Part 1.

Poppies for Remembrance Day

….a time to reflect on my Father’s life

Dad always said that November was the hardest month of the year for him. It always made him feel sad, especially in the last few years of his life. He was a very young man, only 17, when he joined the army and he saw many of his friends die before his eyes. He often wondered why he was spared.

The other thing that I think he found difficult was the fact that he fought for the ‘other side’ and he knew that no one, here, would be thanking him for his service. He never talked about it but I know that it weighed heavily on him. I do know that he was always very grateful for the friendships he forged after the war, first with the Americans who helped him after he escaped the Russian prison camp and then with the English who gave him his first job.

Years later he emigrated from Germany to Canada with his new and growing family. He quickly got a good job at the Royal York Hotel in his chosen line of work. He was able to buy a car almost right away and four years after arriving in Toronto he bought his first home in Oakville. Dad always made friends easily with other German immigrants and Canadians alike. No one seemed to look down on him because he fought in the German army.

Over the years Dad pursued a variety of jobs but his happiest days were as an entrepreneur. When I was 16, Mom and Dad started their own fabric and sewing machine business and never looked back. Again Dad was at the top of his game when he was surrounded by people and both he and Mom had close ties with the business and local community.

As the years passed, Dad lost my mother while vacationing in Mexico in 1993 and then his second wife in 2017. When he turned 90 in 2016 we had a big party for him. Despite having lost numerous friends already he always made new friends where ever he went and yet come November he would always reflect on those who had died before him and he would fall into a deep depression.

Dad passed away almost four weeks ago. This Remembrance Day I will reflect on all the good times I had with him in my lifetime. It will be bittersweet. This painting is dedicated to you Dad.

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