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.

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!

Bonjour Mr. Winkle. Je t’aime!

It’s a well known fact among my friends that I love animals — cats and dogs especially, but I love all of the urban, forest, jungle, desert, polar cap, deep sea, and mountain critters.

But I hadn’t met Mr. Winkle.

Ohh! Mr. Winkle! Your sweet fuzzy face makes me smile! Your floppy pink tongue is the most anerable thing this side of http://www.cuteoverload.com! Now, I must throw the budget to the wind and order a calendar even though we are nearly done with January!

Thank you, Jada, for introducing me to Mr. Winkle!

(BTW, if you can watch this without fainting in a heap, you have no soul.)