Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Pedestrian Point of View

The word "pedestrian" refers to a person walking on a street or road. It also means dull. lacking in excitement, uninteresting, ordinary, boring .... you get the picture. While the dictionary definition contains two meanings, I can't help thinking about how very similar they are!

My "pedestrian" shadow

As a pedestrian I am boring, ordinary, dull ........ perhaps not even worth noticing when I am walking along the side of a road. I know how drivers think, because I am one myself. Boring and dull may even be an understatement. Pedestrians may be downright annoying! After all, as a driver, I am usually in a rush to get somewhere and having to slow down for those pesky, "boring" pedestrians is just a nuisance! What are they even doing out on the streets anyway? Cars rule right?

Well, since I have been doing some serious walking I see things from a new point of view. There are local trails that I could use, but I don't like to walk alone on them. I'm not crazy about walking in subdivisions and neighborhoods where there is less traffic because of the abundance of dogs (who I'm sure are very "sweet" to their owners, but their barks scare the crap out of me). So, that leaves walking down main roads (some with sidewalks, but some without) .... and of course. dealing with traffic.

So there you have it. My rant about being a pedestrian. Recently, my brother, was walking in the town where he lives and was hit by a school bus! He was in the pedestrian crossing area and he had a green light. The bus was making a left turn and hit him! Since then I have heard of several other people who have been hit while out walking on city streets!

My hubby has gone so far as to purchase me a neon vest to wear when I am out walking. I admit that I feel a little ridiculous wearing it while walking on a sidewalk, but he insists. I am also much more aware as a driver when I see walkers out and about. While the rules of the road are much better than they are in places where I have been in Asia (where traffic lights are often just a suggestion!) we still need to be reminded to be vigilant and SLOW DOWN!

Even though winter is approaching I intend to keep up my walking regime as much as I can. Dressing for the weather, layering, good footwear even hiking poles might be in order. I always carry a backpack with chap stick, tissues, water etc. and to use in case I want to take something off like a hat or scarf. Here are a couple of sites below with some good walking tips .... most we already know but it doesn't hurt to refresh!

Canadian Living Tips for Winter Walking

Great Walking Safety Tips

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WWI Silks

This past weekend I was visiting my husband's brother and his wife and admired something interesting they had in a frame. I had never seen these before! (please excuse the poor quality photos, the photographer wasn't so hot!)

My fascination with these led me to do a little research. According to my sister-in-law, these little embroidered gems were post cards from World War I. They came from her grandfather who fought overseas. Some of them have little pieces of paper with notes on them behind the embroidered designs. Thanks to Google I learned that they were created by French and Belgian women, embroidered on patches of silk and then sent to factories to be mounted on cards. They were very popular with British and American service men and often sent home to a loved one adding a little beauty to an otherwise grim situation.
When I saw examples of well preserved post cards I was surprised to see how colourful they were. I guess putting them in a frame was not a good idea since it caused a great deal of fading. (While the well preserved ones are nice, I kind of like the softness of the faded ones!) Below is an example of what they looked like about a hundred years ago. Check out the link for the Toronto Public Library!
Tous Unis WW1 silk postcard
View more cards from the Toronto Public Library
This video describes the history of WWI Silks and the popularity of them as collector's items.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Cooking everyday can be very boring and I am glad that I don't have to do it any more (hubby has taken over that job yahoo!) However, once in a while I get inspired to spend some time in the kitchen and be creative.
Laura Caulder's show "French Food at Home" is always an inspiration, even if she's cooking something that doesn't appeal to me. There's something about her "style", her "demeanor", a ....  je ne sais quoi (oh that's bad I know!). She's always dressed in a classy but simple dress, with cool music playing in the background while she uses basic ingredients to prepare a sophisticated meal. The whole atmosphere makes me want to wrap a silk scarf around my neck and hop on a plane to Paris!
I recently watched her episode on cooking "French African" dishes and I was inspired to make a tagine.

A "tagine" is sort of like a stew. Meat, vegetables and spices simmered in a "tagine dish" (above). It is very popular in North African countries, especially Morocco.  I made chicken with olives and lemon and included spices like ginger, cumin and saffron. Here is the link to Laura's recipe Laura Calder's Chicken Tagine . I served it with couscous and it was quite tasty, if I do say so myself! I did not use a tagine dish, just a Dutch oven type pot instead.

My attempt at Tagine!

I must admit that this is not the first time I've seen a tagine dish. Many moons ago, while travelling in Morocco, I recall seeing these exotic looking pieces of pottery (often elaborately decorated) in the markets and bazars. The food cooked in them was often featured on the menus in restaurants there. We rarely ate in restaurants in Morocco simply because we were travelling on a shoe string and mostly bought food in the market that we prepared ourselves at our "tent site".

A group of fellow travellers that we were camping with purchased a tagine dish and used it to cook with at our camp site. The recipe they used is unknown ... let's just say it wasn't exactly traditional Moroccan fare!

A  picture I took of a fellow camper cira 1975!

 Calder's Episode on French-African Cooking featuring a Tagine dish

Lemon Confit was used in Laura's recipe and I actually made it! However, it has to sit for at least 3 weeks, so it will be a while before I can tell if it is worth the effort.

My lemon confit ... preserved lemons, basically lemons packed in kosher salt!

Here is Martha Stewart's" recipe/method of preserving lemons ..... Lemon Confit.
Martha Stewart's Lemon Confit Video

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Preparing a Camino Christmas List

It's Not too Early to Make Your Christmas List!

As you may or may not know, I am planning to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain next May. I have been doing at lot of research on flights, where to stay, how to get there, how long it will take etc., as well as WHAT to take. According to what I have learned the recurring theme is: take very little because you have to carry it! It is possible to have our packs transported to our destination each day, but I want to be able to do it on my own if I can. Or, at least I can carry my stuff on short days and have it transported when the going is longer or more strenuous.
One thing is for certain ..... there is a wealth of information on hiking the Camino! I'm even attending a meeting next month of a group of people who have completed the journey! While individual preferences vary on what items to put in your backpack (and indeed what backpack to take) I have come up with a few "for sure" items to put on my Christmas list.

Headlamp -

- to use in the aubergues after "lights out" and to light the way in the early morning! It allows you to have a light when you want both hands to be free for packing or using your walking poles. I saw this one on There are likely better ones but I don't think I would invest much more.
Headlamp from Walmart $17.99

Sleeping Bag

- found one at Canadian Tire for $23.99! It was very light when I picked it up. The details say it weighs 2 lbs, but it seemed like only 1lb. The zipper is only one way and the stuff sack was a little tight, but the price and weight were right! We won't need it for warmth since we will be sleeping indoors. Outbound Lite Sleeping Bag Canadian Tire
- here is another one recommended by a fellow who actually did the Camino with it. The company is in London Ontario and it costs $39.00 - (you'll pay $59.00 with tax and shipping) It weighs 660g (a pound and a half) I like the hood and the stuff sack and the two way zipper!
Lightweight Sleeping Bag Recommendation

Key Chain Flash Light    

The tiny flash light would be handy for looking into backpacks or finding your way to the bathroom with out disturbing other who are trying to sleep.

Utility Knife

- some kind of multi-purpose knife for cutting food, opening cans, wine bottles etc. I think scissors, knife and corkscrew would be a priority ..... especially the corkscrew!
Image result for swiss army knife canada

Quick Dry Travel Towel

- I haven't looked at many of these but my priority would be weight (as light as possible), drying quickly and of course the ability to dry me off after a shower! I saw some at Walmart on line for $19.00. MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) had them for $25-$30 .... I wouldn't spend that much. A loop to hang on a hook would be nice. A case might be nice too, but not if it adds more weight (a Ziploc bag would be just as good!

Hiking Socks

Next to your foot wear, socks are probably the most important. We will need something that wicks away moisture, dries quickly and is, of course, comfortable. Merino wool seems to be the most recommended material. Personally, I find wool very itchy (even a wool sweater with a long sleeved blouse underneath makes me itch!) However, apparently merino is very soft. I've also heard that there are some good synthetic alternatives out there as well. A friend gave me a pair of Icebreakers and, at first I found them quite tight (my ankles had a mark when I took them off . and my ankles are skinny!) However, I've been wearing them lately and they are quite comfy! I'm willing to give some other kinds a try and wear them during my "training" ... then make a final decision on what 2 or 3 pairs to take. Watch this cool video on merino wool on the "Icebreaker" website. Marino 101

Quick Dry T Shirts

Apparently I will be packing two (quick dry) T shirts. Sport Check had some to the tune of $25 - $30! I don't think so. I found some on Amazon for about $11.00 (even with shipping it would be cheaper). Anyway, here's what I'm looking for Quick Dry T Shirt. .... May try Winners?

Sooo ..... if you want to buy me a present???

Below are a few You Tube Videos that have some great info for myself and my fellow peregrinos. Great info and a lot to think about!

Bueno Camino!

(check out the videos below, especially the "packing tips"!

Money Saving Tips for the Camino

Packing Tips for the Camino

Two Weeks on the Camino

Friday, October 2, 2015


When it comes to art making, I've never been partial to landscapes. I enjoy viewing works of art that feature landscapes, but it's never been my thing! The Group of Seven depicted the ruggedness and colour of the Canadian landscape because they felt connected to it. I've just never felt that way about a "place" ..... until now!

I have finally realized that I am in love with The Bay of Fundy. It was not "love at first sight". It's more like a romance that has developed over the years. After all, I have seen the Swiss Alps, the Himalayas, the Greek Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam .... and they are all really nice. But (in my opinion) they don't compare to the Fundy shore!

For the last 21 years (minus two when I was overseas) I have ventured to Fundy National Park to "hike" with a group of friends. Every fall when we drive through the park and first catch sight of the magnificent visa of the Bay, I feel like I have "arrived" and all is well!

Whether I am in the "Park", Grand Manan, the Fundy Trail, or St. Martins, the feeling is the same. I am in awe of its beauty and bask in the uncrowded beaches and trails that provide a time to reflect and recharge!

The fondness I have with this corner of the world is due, to a great degree, with the yearly trek that I make with friends there and the good times that we have, free from the worries and responsibilities of the home front (if only for a few days). What great therapy it is to stroll along the ocean floor when the tide is out looking for little treasures, or to wander through a wooded trail chatting and catching up with each other's news.

me and Diane on the ocean floor!

the beach in front of our cabin

Our cosey cabin perched on a cliff offers us constant ocean views in the day and the sound of waves crashing as we drift off to sleep at night. It is also the scene of laughs, relaxation, tasty treats and, of course, lots of wine!

Our little "cabin on the bay" is not without its "mod cons" like satellite TV and a dish washer. This year we enjoyed watching CBC's "Quietest Concert Ever" featuring Serena Ryder at Herring Cove (one of our favorite places in the park!). Check it out on You Tube (link below).

The Quietest Concert Ever!
Watch the beginning of this video to see more great vistas and enjoy some great music!

okay ... this is beer, but you get the idea!

Cathy and Diane on the front deck solving world problems!

Sherry, Cathy, Nancy, me, Wanda, Diane (a few years back)

Sunglasses, jackets and whale bone!
Here's to many more Fundy adventures with great company!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spinsters Abroad

Spinsters Abroad  .....

You may think that I am about to tell you about my trip to Spain with two other women, but that would not be the case. The other day I noticed this interesting title at the local library and decided to check it out. It's not a "good read" in a page turner kind of way, but the details are fascinating!

Dea Birkett's book, Spinsters Abroad, Victorian Lady Explorers outlines and examines the journeys of several women in the Victorian era who traveled on their own to far away places where western visitors were a rarity. At first I thought that the tales would merely be about adventurous women traveling to exotic places, and, that was true. However, the really interesting part was their motivation for traveling and the satisfaction they got from living abroad. 

As spinsters (unmarried women) in Victorian England, their lot in life was to look after sick parents or be companions to aging relatives. Without a husband, they had little authority, freedom, or money of their own. No wonder they "bolted" when their loving parents passed on, especially if they were left with an inheritance! One poor woman, after caring for her ailing father, who became mad in his old age and left her penniless by giving her inheritance to an orphanage, had to contest the will. She immediately celebrated her win by sailing to Bombay!

I can certainly understand their desire to escape the restrictiveness of Victorian society. But, what fascinates me is that they remained in foreign, remote places for extended periods of time and felt quite comfortable and happy there. So ..... here's the the thing. European imperialism was spreading throughout the world and these women were respected (or perhaps feared )because they were European. Oddly enough they were at times able to travel more safely because, as women, the "locals" did not worry that they were going to bring war or begin exploiting their resources. 

They may not have exploited resources but they did exploit the locals. For these women explorers, "setting up camp" meant having others do it for them, and climbing to a high summit mean that they were carried there! In other words, these spinster travelers who were exploited at home, were now exploiting others. They finally had some control of their own ,,, pretty hard to give all that power up and head back to "dullsville" in England! 

I would certainly not recommend this book as a "riveting" read, but it was definitely insightful and a great glimpse into the lives of women in Victorian Society!

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Hate the "Happy Song"!

I Hate the "Happy Song"!

(This one's for you Cathy .... cause I know you will agree!)

I must preface this blog post by saying that I have made a private promise to myself to replace all negative thoughts with positive ones and to aspire to be as  non-judgmental as possible. Life's short, so focus on the positive, or at least try! However, I must make an exception when it comes to the "Happy Song".

I'm a big CBC radio fan. I listen to both Radio 1 (for information and interesting stories, book reviews etc.) and Radio 2 (for great music from a wide variety of genres ... from bluegrass to classical!) I love waking up to our local Information Morning show and "gently" hearing interesting stories and news.
However, for several months now, they had the great idea that they would play requests for a "happy song". People have been sending in the titles of a song that makes THEM feel happy .... they don't necessarily make ME feel happy. In fact most of them grate on my nerves and if I was a cat I'm sure that my fur would be sticking straight up! Lately they've started playing requests for songs that were popular during the year that someone was born in as a birthday greeting. I mean really .... does everyone want to hear that? 
Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum may be my guilty pleasure, but does EVERYONE want to hear it? Especially when your just opening your peepers. 

CBC I love you but the the "Happy Song" has got to go!