Category: outdoor (page 1 of 2)

Day 6

I am on the 6th and final day of my staycation.  I am left feeling like I did’t cross off enough To Do items, didn’t accomplish anything I should have.

And that’s the problem with staying home for a vacation. You’re continually torn. You’re constantly in a position where you see the stuff you should be doing/fixing when you’re trying to unwind and relax and do SFA, and feel resentful of the stuff you do/fix when you’re on your vacation dammit.

But it appears I am an equal opportunity slacker…I neglected both the things on the To Do list thatI should have done AND the relaxing things I wanted to do.

My novel is just as unwritten as before. Pages of letter paper are still blank. The half-finished embroidery project is still half-finished.  The sewing is still unsewn.


I went swimming in the river every day, spending time braced against the submerged rock in the deep spot, luxuriating in the feeling of the cool water sliding over my skin.

I spent an afternoon reading and napping in my hammock, listening to the crickets and birds.

I went for walks, for drives. I finished a knitting project and started another. I bought a crokinole board from the old gentleman at the farmers market who makes them by hand. I drove us out to Thornbury for ice cream and a walk along the water. I sat solo by the water towers and watched the sun go down. I felt sorry for myself at one point but managed to stop the mood before it could slide any further from alone to lonely.

I spent most of the time in or around the house. I love our house.

Keith asked yesterday while we were walking by the river, if it was fate or luck that landed us here. I said something flippant in answer, but it’s been on my mind. The better answer would be, it feels like fate, because I’ve never really been this lucky.

It feels…right. Right to be in our yellow house out in the boonies where most of our sparse-by-our-standards traffic is pickup trucks and farm vehicles. I love my commute through farms and fields and pastures, along rivers and the escarpment, where every view is lovely.

And I am grateful: to Keith’s mother who saved and invested so diligently to give us this nest egg, to Keith for so so much more than just embracing the move to this new lifestyle, to Side Launch for hiring me so I can live in this heaven, to whatever Fates or gods have landed me right here at this now.


Headed out to the Niagara region today to meet with two men at Niagara College; one is the head professor and the other is the program coordinator. It was a great meeting, and I got enough information about the program to set the hook in my desire to get in. There are only 24 spots and 150+ applicants every year, a statistic that my self-doubt had a field day with. The little voice whispered that I’m going to go through all this work for nothing, I should just accept reality and look for a job that won’t be what I want to do but will pay me for it. Because really, who gets to do the work they want to do in this world?

Dear self-doubt: bite me.


After the meeting, I killed some time by driving along the Niagara River, ending up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a ghost town compared to the summer theatre-town craziness. I think I counted maybe 8 cars and 20 people. But the the coffee place was open and the park at the lake was empty, so I was a happy little introvert.


Adventures in public transit

I went to the Learn2Brew event put on by the SOBs (Southern Ontario Brewers). It wasn’t far from my apartment; I could walk it in 20 minutes on a nice day.

But it wasn’t  a nice day. It was cold and grey and rainy. So I decided to take The Better Way.

Honestly, I should have known better. It took me 35 minutes to get there, and close to 40 to get back. Of COURSE I would *just* miss the bus then have to wait for another one.

I ended up being wet and cold anyway. It has just strengthened my resolve not to go outside until sometime Monday or whenever it stops raining. Whatever happens first.

Unplugged in July

Draft clean-up day part 2: I started writing this July 18th. The photos are Ryan’s, and have not been edited.

I’ve got a couple of trips to my nephew’s cabin planned this summer, a family one in July (now passed), and another in August with a friend.

The family get together was beyond perfect . The weather was flawless except for the one black cloud that rained buckets on me as I was leaving (I think it was trying to tell me to stay!). I got to spend time with nephew Ryan who lives in Halifax, and his fiancee Jenny. I swam with my great-niece and -nephew, went kayaking, boated, watched sunsets, drank good beer, waved sparklers and watched fireworks launched from the end of the dock, and laughed with my family over Uno (with the kids) and Cards Against Humanity (after kids went to bed).

I think the second funniest moment of the weekend was during the CAH game, when Ryan realized that he would have to read “an icy handjob from an Edmonton hooker” in front of his rather staid mother. The funniest moment was when we all realized that she was the one that played it to him!

There other standout moments. Matt, the nephew who owns the cottage, had arranged for a float plane to come to lake and give us rides. He had won the rides in a raffle the year before, and arranged it for the weekend we were all there by happy accident. He gave no indication of it until that morning; this is good as no doubt the anxiety that still lives in the back of my head would have been much more prevalent if I’d had time to think about all that could go wrong. There were a few white knuckle moments, but only a few. Excitement and delight drowned out the anxiety pretty effectively, so effectively that I went up a second time. I remember looking at the expanse of lakes and trees, at Silver Peak bumping up from the Canadian Shield, at the jagged coast of Georgian Bay, and thinking how incredibly lucky I am to live so close to this rugged beauty. I know many people who are passionate about their corner of the planet, but I couldn’t help but think how that would change if they ever experienced Northern Ontario.





Saw some wildlife too – on the way back from Killarney for fish & chips and ice cream, a black bear loped into the road a ways in front of us. Matt slowed down when he saw her stop in the middle of the road and turn her head back the way she had from and bellow. Very quickly, two cubs bounded out of the brush at the side of the road and ran across the road toward her. She ushered them into the bush and we got a glimpse of all three of them looking at us as we passed.

I did have one hiccup…while I was unplugged, I wasn’t technology free. I’d brought my iPhone and put it on airplane mode, to take pictures and video of the weekend and make another little movie like the one  made when we were there for a weekend in February. On the last night of my visit, were all sitting on the dock, chatting and watching a truly spectacular sunset. Ryan, my brother Doug and I would occasionally get up and take a picture or two. I was sitting at the end of the dock to get a shot using the Slow Shutter app when my phone decided that it wanted to see what it was like at the bottom of the lake.


Yes. I dropped my phone off the dock. Insert a few expletives here. don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am particularly attached to it, and all of the data is backed up, which is the important part. Well, most of the data. Because there is no technology or cell service, the photos of the plane trip, the family playing and the sunsets were not backed up.

Luckily, Matt was far more quick-thinking than I was and ran to the shed to get goggles and had dove in after it before I had even remembered that I was still in my bathing suit. It was still on, which I took as a good sign, and immediately turned it off and put it in a container of rice. It was at about 5% battery when it went into the lake, so I wasn’t too panicky when it didn’t turn on the next morning. And while it did turn on when I got it home and plugged it in to my computer, it was stuck in a reboot cycle. It was easily replaced, and while I regret losing the pictures, I am very grateful that Ryan and Doug are sharing their’s with me.

FUNemployment, week 1

It’s been just over a week since I walked out of the school for the last time, and so far it feels just like any summer break I’ve taken over the last 12 years.

Well, except for the occasional stomach-dropping, headache-inducing moment of utter panic when I remember that I am an unemployed 51-year-old with no formal education and no real clue about what she wants to be when/if she grows up. But then I talk to Keith or call/text/email a friend who will patiently list my many positives for the umpteenth time until I stop hyperventilating and step away from the ledge.

But other than those moments, it’s been a fun week. School finished on the Thursday, capped by an evening out on a local patio, drinking with my soon-to-be-former colleagues. There were speeches for the staff departing; mine was given by Andy, my fellow beer-loving punk-rocker. It the longest, sweetest, most eloquent and had the added benefit of making the principal who fired me look like she had just taken a bite of an apple only to find half a worm dangling from the core. There were hugs at the end of the night, and promises to keep in touch in varying degrees of sincerity, which will likely not happen now that the only common ground has been removed.

I left the next morning for my writing retreat, feeling only very slightly hung over. I was on the bike, it was a sunny day and I was heading to a cottage on the shores of Georgian Bay to spend a weekend doing some of the things I like the best. It was a great ride along roads I’d not been on before with a stop at the Meaford waterfront park for one of the best burgers I’ve ever had from a chip truck. I arrived at Chris’s family cottage around 2, settled in, and sat on the beach for a while drinking in a view filled with only sky and water. Everyone else arrived, and the day was filled with laughter and workshops.

My sense of peace and equanimity went to shit sometime after breakfast the next day. My period started and I experienced cramps so painful that I couldn’t sit up for the morning workshop (I blame the Super Moon!), and spent the afternoon in bed cuddled up to a hot water bottle and letting the hormone roller coaster take me for a spin out of control. No writing, just crying. It wasn’t pretty. Bad-ass biker chick cover was completely blown. The day was saved by the kindness of the women around me – I can’t describe just how awesome they all were.

I couldn’t really get completely out from under the shadow of Saturday’s melt-down though. I had been looking forward to the weekend for months, and I felt like I’d blown it, wasted my money by not partaking.  I did get a few things written, but not what I’d wanted.

Sigh. File it under Shit Happens, and move on.

The rest of the week was moderately productive. Keith was working the Toronto Jazz Festival all week, so I spent my afternoons knitting and watching Torchwood on Netflix. I finished a pair of socks in 8 days – a new record that only sounds good if you’re a knitter. Otherwise, it’s just kind of sad.

The Headstones played on Thursday, a private event for the fans (like me) who had backed their new album on As always, it was a great show, but a bit surreal to be back in Lee’s Palace after a decade away. The scene of so many bad decisions  looked both bigger and smaller, vastly different and yet completely the same, proving once again that memory is a tricky thing.

I crossed over to the dark side on Saturday – I bought a Macbook Pro. It’s used and the battery is crap, but it’s got the software I need on it and I can do the programming I need anywhere. I’ve been working on it for three days now. I am still waiting for it to change my life.

Sunday was a lazy day – we went to a friend’s cottage and basically hung out on the deck and chatted about everything and nothing while listening to the wind in the pine trees.

Which brings us to yesterday, Canada Day. We talked about going out and doing something, seeing a movie or going for a walk, but inertia proved stronger than desire. I made strawberry jam for the first time since leaving my parent’s house and Keith made scones and coffee. We feasted on them all day as we watched odd movies like Sushi Girl (think Tarantino wanna-be), and finished them off as we sat at the window and watched fireworks around the city.



best of 2012

Yes, I know we’re already almost a week into 2013 – it took me a few days to go through the few hundred photos I took last year and then another day or so to re-surface back into this year. 2012 was a very good year and holy FSM, I did a lot of stuff for am old broad. Here’s to more fun times to come!



Apres-holiday stress was dealt with by heading to our favourite get-away spot, Pine Vista Resort. Favourite moments: going for hikes then warming up in the outdoor hot tub or by the fire.



It’s no secret that I love Niagara Falls. I love it even more in the winter.





The theme of February’s road trip was What do a summer beaches look like in winter?

Frickin’ cold is what they look like.


February was when I got my first pair of roller skates. Ten months later, and they’re still not really broken in.





March was too awesome for words. We spent three weeks in Australia, seeing friends we don’t see nearly often enough and to experience a place unlike anything I imagined.



I could have spent another few days exploring Uluru and area…watching the colours change as the sun set was one of the best memories of the trip.





Home and broke; luckily watching Spring happen is free.




April’s road trip took us to Niagara; we finished the day by hanging out around our friend Moose’s fire pit, drinking his beer.





Finally, a road trip on the bike. Felt so good to be on it after missing so much of last summer thanks to the rehab on the knee.



First skating injury – was talking while I was putting on my gear and forgot to put on elbow pads. Of course, as soon as I realized I’d forgotten them, I fell on my right elbow. Sigh.




I went on a writing retreat at a cottage on Lake Simcoe. It was grey and bleak, a perfect contract to the warmth and laughter inside.



Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time. We were riding through Coboconk and stopped to take in their summer festival which included a travelling reptile show. The woman who ran it was happy to let me hold this 2m long albino Burmse python. I really don’t understand why most people are afraid of snakes…but then I guess most people don’t understand being afraid of bridges.


July saw many small trips rather than a big one since we were still light on cash after Australia. We headed to Manitoulin Island for some camping, then to my newphew’s cottage on Tyson Lake, where we had nothing more pressing to do than go swimming or kayaking then watch some spectacular sunsets at day’s end.


We also headed to a friend’s cottage for a few days. this was my favourite view.





Headed to Oklahoma for Okie-Vegas and drank Keystone Light to stay hydrated (insert canoe joke here). It was so great hanging out and playing drunken silly poker. I was introduced to apple pie moonshine, which I liked a little too much.


I’ve been to Niagara Falls at least fifty times but have never done the touristy things. We went on the Maid of the Mist and Journey Behind the Falls, and I voluntarily went on the Sky Wheel. I almost chickened out, and the first orbit was a bit…tense, but I was able to smile and enjoy it by the third orbit. So glad I did the CBT!



We made one final bike trip before school started, riding along Lakes Huron and Erie. Good way to end the summer.



School kept me busy, because of course I did no prep over the summer. I made it out one night to meet an old friend for dinner, little knowing when we booked it that it was Nuit Blanche. the odd art installations, like this programmed Space Invaders added a nice bit of surrealism to the night.



It’s official!




The definite highlight of October was the weekend spent in Greenville, SC at Mastodon Weekend. Too many highlights to list, but being able to belatedly cross something off my summer list thanks to the efforts of the Fire God was one of the main ones.




Made it back to Pine Vista Resort for a weekend. We explored waterfalls, climbed over rocks, fed apples to horses and found Buddha in the woods.








This was the first year in 6 years that I could not go to the annual blogger bacchanalia in Vegas. I was in danger of becoming very depressed about having to be all adult when Heather decided to come visit Toronto for a weekend. We ate, we drank, we did touristy things including going up the CN Tower. It only took one martini to get me to stand on the glass floor. Now that’s progress!

While many people at school werre spending their winter holiday somewhere south, I went to Calgary. Where it was cold. And snowy. I hadn’t seen my brother & nieces in almost two years, and five days of hanging out with my family and seeing Joanada & Buddy Dank flew past too quickly.


The earliest I have ever seen a robin:



Road trip took us to Port Dover for the afternoon.



+10c/50f outside. While lovely, it’s really wrong. It’s not supposed to be like this in January. I miss winter.

That’s not to say I won’t take advantage of a spring-like day, and go for a walk instead of hit the underground gym in my building. Part of the 6km walk to Bloor Street then over to Broadview had me crossing the Bloor Viaduct, one of longest/highest bridges in the city. Didn’t feel even a flutter of fear.

A few years ago, they installed these cables and wires called the Luminous Veil to reduce the number of suicides. It apparently stopped people jumping off the Viaduct but didn’t reduce the numbers of suicide by falling; there are other bridges in the city after all.



I’ve gone to the gym every day since January 6th (well, except for the 3 days I was sick with the latest form of plague spread by the germ factories). I’ve been watching what I’m eating, and the scales tell me I’ve lost 10 pounds as of this morning.

So yeah, was feeling pretty kick-ass when we went out for a walk today. Until I hit the icy part of the path by the Don River, and slipped.

It’s hard to feel kick-ass with an ice pack on my knee. Sigh.



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