Freddy the house panther gets some treats

This is Freddy and he is a fierce, furry handful. Not satisfied with dry kibble and fresh water, catnip, a selection of toys that would be the envy of kindergartens, and squeezing in a good 20 hours of sleep each day, Freddy MUST have his Whiskas Temptations treats.

MUST as in “your skin will hang in ribbons because you held the snack too high above his head” kind of must.

A MUST that can only be satisfied with crunchy little squares of mystery meatish ingredients that doesn’t explain why the heck this cat could possibly love them so much.

Seriously, have you read the ingredients? I tried giving him pieces of chicken breast. Nope. I offered yummy little strips of salmon jerky. Forget it. I even tried some healthy little crunchy heart shape meaty snacks. Go away. All of these other treats had ingredients I could gather from my fridge, freezer and pantry.

But nooooooo. Freddy the house panther wants Whiskas Temptations Now!!!

Bonus slow motion cat tongue at the end because cat tongues are wondrous.

Video was shot with my GoPro Hero 2 on a very cheap tripod. I recently drilled a hole into an extra GoPro Hero 2 case to make room to add an external microphone. So cheap, so so cheap microphone!

February is still here

And I’m utterly sick of winter. The cold. The snow. The boots. The damp mitts. This part of February feels like someone has driven an icicle into my heart and keeps twisting it. Sure, a bit melodramatic but what a tiresome month.

Image

Lose a hat, find a hat. That is February all over. I like monkeys!

The only useful thing I’ve done all week was replace the crummy OEM seat post my pretty & awesome mountain bike had with a rather nice 2 bolt Easton Havoc. Now, my saddle won’t slide around and no more terrible squeaking noise when I pedal.

I suppose I could share future news: I plan on sharing with THE WORLD all the neato bike routes in Toronto including maps, photo and video. The ins (into trails), the outs (out of trails), where the heck the washrooms are (if any), and places to snack (other than Dairy Queen although their Blizzards are worth the ice cream headaches).

Now you’ll have absolutely no reason whatsover to say “awww I don’t know where to ride my bike”. Nope. None. The maps and photos of the starting points and anything interesting along the way will be here.

*insert excited shrieks here!*

Until then I’ll try and get thru February.

 

Valentine’s Day Donut Massacre

In celebration of the feast of love that is Valentine’s Day… blahblah… love… affection… humblebrag re: super love life…. overpriced chocolates… whatevs feelings… blahblah… foreverness …

Here is a video of the real meaning of love, eating donuts together and not one bit of nutritional guilt is felt. Tough toenails about the death of three donuts. The one covered in sprinkles was definitely asking for it. I can tell because I can understand donut language. It is vile and full of sugar. Totally deserved the thorough chewing punishment I meted out.

I shot this video using my super, handy dandy GoPro Hero 2 camera in time lapse mode. Each agonizing, gripping chomp was stored as a 5 mgp photo which I then had the Time-Lapse app (from the Mac App Store) string together into a movie. Music and titles added in iMovie 11. Took longer to eat the donut than oversee the entire film making magic.

Happy Valentine’s Day! *pithy comment about twoo wuv here*

Time Lapse Cake

I decided to try making a time lapse video with my GoPro Hero 2 camera. Basically, I set up the camera on a tripod, set it to take one photo every 5 seconds. Then I baked a yellow cake! My only tech snafu was the battery ran out but that was my fault because I didn’t recharge it before setting up the shoot.

I found a neat program called “Time-Lapse” by http://www.microprojects.ca that arranged the string of photos after I picked the frames per second, the codec, and speed. Time-Lapse then created a Quicktime movie that I imported into iMovie 11. The “Time-Lapse” app cost $5.00 from the Apple App store and it was a breeze to use.

In iMovie 11, I added titles and music to the video.

The cake recipe was a yellow cake from Better Homes and Gardens. It was a tasty, tasty cake.

Alexander Muir Park

I’m a work in progress and so are my mountain bike skills (toddler level) and my video editing skills (at least I don’t need to use cellophane tape).

Behind the manicured gardens of Alexander Muir park, popular with wedding parties for photos, romantic picnics and solitary, contemplative walks, are some tennis courts and a lawn bowling green. And next to those are a nice little trail that runs along side a ravine and wraps around trees and under the Mount Pleasant Road bridge. The trail is mostly dirt and it’s quite a gentle ride so it’s perfect to practice my awful off road bike skills.

Enjoy!

Are you sharing an elevator with an arachnophobe?

The most difficult part of commuting by bicycle isn’t traffic, or pedestrians wandering off the sidewalks, or squirrels darting under my wheels or the weather. It’s getting an elevator in my apartment building with my bike. The apartment building has the worst elevator service I’ve ever enjoyed in my renting life: slow, often one is broken and out of service, the freight elevator is usually busy, and they are rather small in size. I can handle drivers who haven’t mastered the concept of signalling turns and I wear layers of cottonless clothing on chilly damp days to avoid hypothermia but waiting for an elevator is agony.

Last week I had a new and unique elevator experience. I was waiting with my bike in the lobby for an elevator along with a woman and her chihuahua doggie. It was a cute little doggie and she was wearing a rather fetching (ha! — oops corny joke, sorry) pink and grey argyle sweater with matching leash. I cooed at the dog for a moment but returned to the important task of staring at the elevator doors, coaxing it to the lobby.

When the elevator arrived, the door opened to reveal a middle aged woman holding a shopping bag. The dog lady and her dog were about to board  when the shopping lady screamed in shock and horror. I flinched. The dog lady flinched. Heck, the chihuahua flinched. The shopping lady hid in the far corner of the elevator until the dog lady decided to wait for another elevator. I got on with my bike and spent the next few seconds standing awkwardly with the cowering shopping lady. Considering the large number of dogs who live in our building, it must be sheer hell for this woman to get on an elevator and I felt bad for her, the dogs and the dog owners. I can’t imagine how awful it is standing in the elevator and hoping that a dog, even a tiny sweater wearing chihuahua, won’t get on the elevator.

I guess shopping lady felt the awkwardness and decided to break the silence and ask me some questions about my bike. Yes, I commute with my bike nearly everyday. It’s a lot more fun than riding the TTC. I have clothes for cold days, wet days, and sweaty humid days too. I think helmets are great too. Yup, my lights are bright and shiny.

Then she apologized for  screaming and panicking when the dog got on the elevator. I told her it was okay and I understood  she is afraid of dogs. She said a dog bit her badly as a girl and has never gotten over it. I made comforting sounds and asked her if she liked cats. No, but she does like birds and has a pair of finches. I cooed appreciatively.

I should have ended it right there. It was a good moment for the two of us and I absolutely wrecked it. The next thing out of my mouth was “At least she wasn’t walking a huge hairy spider on a leash” with a big grin. That drove the poor woman into a state of twitches and she slapped her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream. I’m guessing huge hairy arachnids are far worse because she was still twitching when I got off at my floor.

I guess that’s why people I know come to me last when they need solace, comfort and advice. I drive everyone to the therapist’s couch.

Here is a photo of some cookies I baked this weekend.

Choco-Oat Nugget Cookies

I made these tasty nugget shaped cookies from whole wheat flour, oatmeal flakes, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, cocoa powder, and a crumbled 70% dark chocolate bar. I save them to eat on my bike rides instead of granola bars or energy bars. Super tasty and cheap to make.

Todmorden Mills

I know it’s been …. forever since my last post. No excuses. Just busy busy busy. Still, I felt guilty so here’s a photo from Todmorden Mills. I went all freaky with the original colour — high contrast, deep colours, then in a new layer I took out the colour and erased some of the black and white bits to reveal the red bricks and some colourful stuff on my bike.

If  YOU want to ride your bike to Todmorden Mills in Toronto, then the long way is either north along the Don River Trail (if you are starting nearish the lakeshore) until Pottery Road. Take the walkway under the bridge heading east until you reach Todmorden Mills. If you are riding south from around Sunnybrook Park, then you wind your way to the Don River Trail also to Pottery Road, be careful crossing over to the walkway and follow the same route east to the mills. The easy was is to find yourself riding north on Broadview Road until Pottery Road (the corner where the delicious Dairy Queen is located) and simply follow the walkway downhill to the mills. And regardless of your route, your efforts definitely deserve a DQ treat. May I suggest the cherry cheesequake blizzard? I love that it so much my heart hurts that one isn’t in my hands right now.

A Windy Day Bike Rider Deserves Lunch

Yes I did. It was a cloudy, windy Saturday in Toronto and I wanted something different for lunch than coffee and a cookie at Starbucks.

I decided to head to Charles Street between Yonge Street and Bay Street for a plate of okinomiyaki at the Okinomiyaki House.

I’ve never had it before but passed the restaurant plenty of times over the past 20 years. Today was the day I ate okinomiyaki.

Okinomiyaki and a Coke

Okinomiyaki is a savoury pancake filled with chopped onion and cabbage. I ordered beef so my pancake also had sliced pieces of fried beef too. On top a sweet and tangy barbeque sauce is spread along with a dollop of mayonnaise. It was delicious and only cost $10.00 Canadian with a can of Coke and tip.

Then I pedalled against the wind to get home. Ugh. So tired now.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and chilly so my bike ride will take me to Soma chocolate shop in the Distillery district for Mexican hot chocolate. No, I’m not bringing you a sample. Go there yourself and enjoy the spicy elixir.

Another critter captured on a memory card

I rode my bike 16 km (10 miles) today through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, along the Beltline, and down the ravine in the Cedarvale Park. It was a lovely day — a bit of sunshine, warmth, some cloud and cool breezes. I enjoyed today’s ride and managed to take a terrible photo of what I think is a Baltimore Oriole and a photo of an animal’s den.

 

I think this is a Baltimore Oriole

I think this is a Baltimore Oriole

The den is quite interesting. I only noticed it on the Beltline (I won’t say where exactly because I wouldn’t want someone finding it to ruin it. It’s not harming anyone along the trail) when I saw an animal zip across the trail. It went by too quickly for me to figure out if it was a small dog, a cat, or a rabbit. 

I wonder who lives here?

I wonder who lives here?

It’s pretty obvious an animal didn’t build and decorate this den by itself. Someone put together the den and set up a bed, food bowls, and water  bowls for the occupant. I only saw it because of the mystery critter zipping by 10 feet in front of me. When I rode past I looked to my side and saw the den. I had to get off my bike and look at both the den and maybe a glimpse at the den’s owner. No luck. But finding it was interesting, especially since I’ve ridden by countless times for years and never noticed it. Hopefully anyone who sees it leaves it be too. Luckily the brush will grow and hide the den very soon.  

My guess is a dog bides his time in this den while the owner is away at work. 

I took these 2 pictures with my Sony 4 meg point and shoot. If I didn’t have that I never would of taken a decent photo with my cell phone. Now, the thing is, the point and shoot took so long to do it’s little song and dance when it’s turned on, that I nearly missed taking the bird photo. I wasn’t even sure if I got the shot of the bird because I couldn’t tell on the camera’s small screen. The bird flew away a moment after I took this photo, but I had to wait until I got home and plugged the memory card into the computer to find out if I actually got a picture of it. If I had my Nikon D40X and the 55-200 mm lens I wouldn’t have this worry, and odds are a much better picture since I would’ve seen what I was doing through the longer lens. I guess I’ll be taking the D40X and the long lens out next time.

Please vote for my photo!!

Yellow Pages is having a photo contest and one of mine is in the running for May! They found it on flickr.com and I’d love to have more than 4 votes (although I love and appreciate each of those votes). So please vote for me!! Here’s the link:  http://www.ypgphoto.com/2009/may/toronto-on-laura-vingada/  

This is what the photo looks like:

I took it last summer. It’s a first bridge at the north end of the Don River Trail near Sunnybrook park. I think the Don River Trail is my favourite bike riding trail in Toronto. There is only 1 street crossing on the 12+ km from North Toronto to the lakeshore of Lake Ontario, it’s paved, has lots of critters, birds, and wildflowers, the Don River, and fairly flat for fast riding. I’m already looking forward to my next ride!