Cooking for Ukraine

last Friday a good friend hosted a Ukrainian lunch

Patricia is of Ukrainian descent and loves to share her culture and food favourites with her friends. Last Friday she did just that and asked that we make a donation to a charity of our choice that supports the Ukrainian people.

The table was all decked out with a beautiful table cloth and a wheat sheaf. Before lunch we were treated to kielbasa and slices of buttered rye bread as we got caught up with the comings and going of our lives. This was the first time in over a year that we got together in person.

When we sat at the table we were greeted with a beautiful bowl of homemade borscht, followed by cabbage rolls and pierogies with sour cream and mushroom gravy. The meal was topped off with coffee or tea and poppy seed cake. A lovely meal and all for a good cause.

When I got home I found a charity that was matched dollar for dollar.

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If you’d like to donate to an organization that feeds the Ukrainian refugees here is a link for the World Central Kitchen, donations@worldcentralkitchen.org

I Got My Booster Shot on a Bus

….no kidding, it was a pop up clinic in the middle of a parking lot

Last Thursday I decided to go to one of the many pop-up clinics that are showing up in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario and try to get my booster shot a little earlier. I had managed to get an appointment for January 6th but with the kids coming over at Christmas I thought I’d try to get an earlier appointment.

When I got to the outdoor plaza at Dixie and Dundas, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place but I eventually saw the GO bus where the clinic was being held. After I parked the car I walked over to the line where people were masked and socially distanced. It was hard to tell how many people were ahead of me because the line snaked around rows of parked cars. Luckily it was a mild and sunny day.

Soon after I arrived someone came around handing out tickets to make sure they had enough doses and they announced that they had run out of the free testing kits. Half the line behind me left when they heard that. I quickly got to know the lady behind me and saved her place in line so that she could find a washroom. Most of the people in line were in their 60s and knowing where the closest washroom was was essential. We quickly got to know the couple in front of us and for the next five hours (I kid you not) we chatted up a storm. Not sure I would have stayed in line if I had known that the wait would be that long. When we got there they told us three hours, which was bad enough.

Did I mention that the sun was out and it was 15 degrees celsius when we got there? It was but it changed over the next five hours and it became cloudy and very windy. We prayed that the rain wouldn’t start because there was no shelter in the line. At about the 4 hour mark our legs were becoming quite numb and we started jumping up and down to keep the circulation going and warm up our feet. After five hours I finally I got my booster shot that took all of five minutes. I said good bye to my new found friends, Suzanne, Jackie and Warren and we all went our separate ways.

Am I glad that I got my booster shot? Maybe glad is the wrong word but I am relieved. It is one less thing to worry about for me and my family.

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A Tribute to Shirley

…Shirley was a long time cottager up on Big Sand Bay

Shirley O’Donnell passed away a week ago today. I saw her one last time back in August when we were both at our cottages. She looked well but clearly her health was not good. Her log cabin cottage was the envy of the beach. Over 40 years ago she had the logs of the cabin floated over to Big Sand Bay and rebuilt on top of the dune. Every summer she and her two children resided in this rustic cabin. She only had electricity installed in the last decade and like us used an outhouse for most of her cottage life. Several years ago she had a beautiful little building put up next to the cabin with a composting toilet and an outdoor shower.

On the weekend I got up early Sunday morning and took a walk to Shirley’s place and started to take photos of the view and the special little touches that made her place so special. The mist coming up over the lake was very mystical and I almost felt like Shirley was looking down on us and sharing the morning with me.

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The Beauty and Fun of Trash Collecting

…how can collecting trash be fun or beautiful?

On on our 30 Day Clean-up Challenge people have often commented that they couldn’t do what we were doing. I think one of the reasons why we were so successful and persistent on completing this project was because we could see that it was making a difference. The parks were definitely cleaner and ‘some’ people were making an effort to help keep it that way.

We also had fun while we were doing this. Sometimes it was like looking for buried treasure between the rocks and often we’d be amazed at the things we found. The lost wallet was returned to its owner and Trish also found a cell phone and was able to locate the owner.

After each haul we’d take a minute or two for photo ops. Trish loved posing in unusual stances, sometimes doing cartwheels and hand stands. I on the other hand was a little more conservative with my poses.
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The beauty of trash collecting in the parks comes from discovering the nooks and crannies of the park that I would never have ventured to before. I had never walked onto the rocks before and there were areas around the pond that I discovered for the first time. We also met a lot of wonderful people and we really came to appreciate the beauty of our environment.

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The Hazards of Trash Collecting – Part 4

….on our 30 Day Challenge Trish and I had a few mishaps

Collecting trash in the parks, along the beaches and in the rocks has its misfortunes. Luckily for us none of them were too serious.

Trash collecting can wreak havoc with your clothes:

Burrs were a constant problem.6-EA0-AD5-B-C3-B7-4-C84-85-AE-5-A2-BBF55697-E ACC70191-3-F13-413-A-AEFD-D36-E93-BE9-E82 153-B5-C4-D-72-E4-4-B56-B8-CD-B60476-E188-EF 3-C144-F3-A-28-AB-413-F-BBD4-D5-FE8-C41-ED99

Climbing over wire fences can cause tears in your tights.
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The insects can also be problem. The midges were particularly bad. Thanks goodness for face masks.
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Wearing proper shoes and gloves is very important. I learned both the hard way. On the rocks I pulled out a broken beer bottle and promptly cut my finger. Luckily I brought water with me and Trish had hand sanitizer. I put pressure on the cut and cleaned it out as best

I could. Once the bleeding stopped I put on my gardening gloves and continued to work.

On another trip I was wearing my sandals. It was towards the end of the challenge and a lot of vegetation had grown in on the pathways. Everything seemed fine until I felt a burning sting under my foot. I quickly looked down and saw a wasp fly out from under my toes. Upon closer inspection we didn’t see a stinger but I did notice red ants in the area and I suspect it was an ant that bit me and not the wasp.
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Towards the middle of May as the weather warmed up it was important to wear sunglasses, hats and sunscreen. There were days when I felt I had been in the sun a little too long.

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The final hazard of course is falling. There were days that I wasn’t comfortable on the rocks and I soon figured out it was due to my low blood pressure. If I didn’t have my morning coffee before we left I felt dizzy on the rocks and I would stay on the pathways while Trish did her thing diving between the rocks to retrieve treasures deep in the crevices. Even on the beaches the rocks were slippery and on the paths rocks jutted up and were tripping hazards. There were a few times that I slipped or trippedĀ  but luckily I always caught myself before going down.

Trish was more adventurous and one day she tried to jump to a large rock for a photo op but she slipped and ended up in the water (only her shoes got wet).2116-ED66-FA85-4009-BB9-C-868-D582-D5238
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In the next segment I will talk about the fun and beauty of trash collecting.

The Ugly Side of Cleaning the Parks: Part 3

…now that I’ve completed my 30 days I can share the highs and lows of trash collecting

In yesterday’s post I shared with you some of the fun and more interesting things that we’ve collected on our 30 Clean-up Challenge. Back in early May, my neighbour Trish gave herself a 30 Day Challenge to clean our neighbourhood parks. I joined her on Day 3 and we pretty much went out every day for about 1 1/2 to two hours with our empty plastic grocery bags (for awhile we weren’t allowed to used our reusable bags in the grocery stores because of COVID 19) and on average we filled about eight of those bags during each trip. After a couple of weeks had to put out a call for more bags because we ran out. Several of our friends and neighbours happily gave us their extra ones.

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You might wonder where all this trash was coming from. Here’s the ugly truth. Most of the garbage in the parks and on the beaches and between the rocks was deliberately left behind. It wasn’t washed ashore by the waves. It was there because people were too lazy or inconsiderate, or both to walk 20 steps to a garbage bin. The garbage consisted of coffee cups, pop cans, beer cans and bottles, fast food wrappers and pizza boxes and empty cigarette boxes. Don’t even get me started on the cigarette butts that are littered around park benches and tossed to the curb from people’s cars.

Most people are picking up after their dogs but then some of them toss the full poop bag to the side of the pathways instead of using the park bins. Some of the other things that we’ve found are used condoms, a few syringes (luckily no needles), plastic baggies, fireworks canisters and golf and tennis balls.

A lot of the coffee cups and fast food containers come from the food chains in the neighbourhood. The biggest offenders are Tim Horton’s, McDonalds, Popeyes, Burger King and StarBucks. We’re trying to figure out a way to work with them to reduce the amount of waste from their products and ways to encourage their customers to be more responsible.89-BE0799-E0-BE-4-F48-98-D1-98-E79-B45-D9-ED
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In the next instalment of our 30 Day Clean-up Challenge I will talk about the hazards of picking up trash.

The 30 Day Challenge – Part 2

….our most interesting finds

Over the last 30 days we’ve certainly come across a whole host of unusual finds in the parks, on the beaches and between the rocks.

Lake Ontario is part of the Great Lakes in North America and provides fresh drinking water to over 9 million people in Ontario, Canada and New York State, U.S.. It is the 14th largest fresh water lake in the world and because it is so deep it never freezes completely.

There are days when the waves are so large you would think you were on an ocean. I bring this up because much of the garbage that we collected from the beaches was washed ashore during those days when the swells were huge.

Some of things that we found on the beaches and between the rocks were golf balls, styrofoam and plastic, old tires, chair parts, umbrellas, headless doll and a wallet with $20.00.88-B99001-EB72-439-E-B403-2-AD0-ADAA545-C
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When we started on this challenge May 2 we were wearing winter coats, hats and mitts and now five weeks later we’re in our shorts, tee-shirts and sandals. We always say that here in Toronto we go from winter right into summer.

Midges – Is there a way to repel them?

they’re back in swarms that literally get up your nose and into your mouth

It seems to be a particularly bad time for midges. There are swarms of them along the waterfront. This seems to be our second wave. The first one happened a month ago. The good news is that their lifespan is pretty short and they don’t bite.

Today on our hunt for trash in the park we came across an unusually nasty swarm of them. It was a very warm day and because we were working hard they gravitated towards us. Midges are are attracted to us by carbon dioxide in our breath and the smell of our natural body odour and sweat.

On Facebook one of my friends suggested the we apply Vicks Vapour Rub to our bodies. When I looked it up I did find a site that suggested that eucalyptus repels Midges because they don’t like the smell. Not sure that I want to go to a drug store for a jar when I know that they won’t be with us for much longer.

I have discovered that my COVID mask has come in handy for keeping those nasty little bugs out of my nose and mouth.E82149-EF-4817-40-C2-9-D7-D-E24-EA4-F7041-D
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