My Christmas Tree

christmas-tree-2008
Go on, laugh.

Feel better?

Story regarding tree starts now:

So my apartment is a small two room plus kitchen, bathroom, and a few closets. Not miniature by any stretch, but it’s a challenge to fit a full sized Christmas tree (whether it’s real or plastic) for the season, as well as to store decorations and the tree (if it’s the fake kind) for the other 11 1/2 months.

I went with my imagination and made this tree out of squares of felt I sewed together in a Christmas tree-like shape. The ornaments I bought at the dollar store with the exception of the pewter wolf and pewter cat. I purchased those at the recent One of A Kind Craft Show and Sale a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping to add a small and interesting ornament each year, but I have to be careful not to buy anything really delicate like glass balls or fragile wire creations.

I got a kick out of making the Christmas tree. It’s a little out of the ordinary and easy to change each year. Next year I’m going to pick up some LED lights to brighten up the room. I still need a tree topper but haven’t had much luck finding or making something that I really like. I found a few craft books that had instructions on how to make angels out of clothespins and tulle, or stars out of styrofoam and glitter paint. But none of them hit that happy craft spot. I’ll just save that spot on the top of the tree until I see something I love.

As far as gift giving goes I limit it to those nearest and dearest. My best friend is getting some treats and so is my mom. The Sweet Baby Cat and I decided to buy a 32Gb Ipod Touch for each of us when the Apple Store had their Black Friday sale in November. Ahhh! No puffy sweaters! Life is good.

Oh, the Ipod Touch is excellent. I love being able to listen to music, watch videos, have my favourite photos, and my contacts, calendar (oh disorganization, I’ll best you yet), and get to play games, roam the internet, have free apps galore (my current fav is VeganYumYum’s recipe collection – free! Go look!) and not have to pay for the accompanying cell phone costs when compared to the Iphone.

I’m tolerating the snowfall and cold weather with as much good cheer as a summer worshipper possibly can. I don’t like riding in snow and ice so my bike has slowly turned into a glorified coat rack. Geez, I feel guilty typing that out. I’m going to clean up my bike as soon as I sign off. But once Christmas passes I’ll be back to my winter whining. In the meantime I have to stave off the winter fat (and burn off the stubborn fat) by swimming, assaulting the walk/run track and the gym at the nearby communty centre. I’m already salivating at the thought of conquering the hill on Poplar Plains Road this spring!

Only 95 km away from beating last year’s kilometres cycled

And I’m going to ride past 1326 km this week.

That’s only an average of 13.57 km every day from tomorrow until next Saturday. No sweat, I’ve ridden that in week this summer. 

Last year it took me from April until December 2007 to ride 1326 km. That’ll mean I have another 3 month to ride my goal of 2000 km.

I’m hoping this winter will be mild so I can keep riding my bike throughout the winter. 

 

My bike on the Don Rive Trail this summer (with the new REI panniers).

My bike on the Don Rive Trail this summer (with the new REI panniers).

Had a great Facebook reunion yesterday!

 

I had a great day with Tracy wandering about Kensington Market yesterday. We managed a quick catch up on 20 years of missed experiences, had lunch, pie, and took photos of a car filled with plants and dirt and a couple of cats. We both posted photos to our Facebook pages and the conclusion I’ve come up with is we are still the same nutjobs we were in grade 8. Happy day!

 

It was a gorgeous day and Kensington Market had loads of people shopping and sightseeing. We visited a bike store (because I have a bike addiction), store that sold hats and purses (because Tracy has a purse addiction), Courage My Love to try on my hats and 1940s style gloves (and I tried on a lucha libre wrestling mask. It was surprisingly comfortable), a chocolate store (both of us are addicted) and then we settled with a couple of slices of pie on the patio of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky.

 

A really good use for a car

A really good use for a car

 

Bubbles! Gotta love bubbles!

Bubbles! Gotta love bubbles!

 

 

I had the chocolate pecan pie, Tracy had the mango cheesecake.

I had the chocolate pecan pie, Tracy had the mango cheesecake.

 

The pies never had a chance.

The pies never had a chance.

 

Cats are great sunworshippers. I can watch them for hours.

Cats are great sunworshippers. I can watch them for hours.

 

 

 

 

Another sunworshipper

Another sunworshipper

Facebook Adventure!

Today I am seeing for the first time in nearly 20 years a grade school and high school friend. We met up again on Facebook last year and we are finally seeing each other. This should be neat! 

I first met Tracy back in grade 8 on the first day of school at St. Maria Goretti school in Scarborough. We were both new registrants and I had a policy of sticking with the fellow new kids. By about grade eleven we’d gone our separate ways but I always had happy feeling for Tracy. She was a cheerful, smiling, laughing, chatty kid and after only talking online (I’m so bad with my cellphone) it sounds like she’s become a cheerful, smiling, laughing chatty woman. Yay! 

Tracy is also on my blogroll because she has a blog where she shares a photo and a glimpse into her day. 

Today we are meeting at Union Station in downtown Toronto and heading up to Kensington Market. I’ll bring my camera and share my photos later with details of our day.

Wrecked a favourite tshirt, saw a hawk

I guess that makes today a Good/Bad Day.

So I wrecked my favourite tshirt before I left for my bike ride. It’s my much beloved, much worn Mystery Science Theater 3000 tee I ordered from MST3K years ago. God, it’s such a soft loose comfy tee! It’s a shirt I love wearing whenever I go on a bike ride. Oh sure I have a couple of cycling shirts — space age sweat sucking material in an eye straining pattern. Great stuff. But my heart belongs to this humble tee. A good reason I attribute to the genius that was the tv show Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of the absolute best tv shows ever made! If you’ve never seen it, then get yourself down to your local video store and buy or rent an epsiode. Your life will change. First off, your life will no longer suck. Secondly, you’ll laugh and that is always good for your heart and spirit. Thirdly, there are loads of episodes available and you’ll never be sad again.

 

My poor beloved wrecked tshirt! I cry many tears! I hope I can wash you clean!

My poor beloved wrecked tshirt! I cry many tears! I hope I can wash you clean!

Stupid me! I poured 1/4 bottle of fruit punch Powerade all over it. I sprayed on some laundry de-stain stuff on it. I hope it washes out!

Earlier this week I saw a hawk sitting ever so casually on top of a tombstone in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Just sitting, enjoying the light  breeze. Probably planning to dive bomb a squirrel or a robin once he felt a little hungry. All I had on me to take a photo was my crummy cell phone! Ack! Ack! Lousy planning on my part. 

I went back to the cemetery to ride around the paths for an hour or so before supper. This time I brought by DSLR camera and I kept a look out for another hawk. Here is the one hawk I saw. I only managed to take a single photo because it was frightened off by a car starting up nearby.

 

Look! A hawk! W00T! Cool!

Look! A hawk! W00T! Cool!

As a bonus photo, two weeks ago I rode along the Don River Trail (a-flipping-mazing trail! Asphalt, no traffic, ok some freaky scary bridges. Try it!) and I saw a bunny rabbit. 

 

I saw this bunny 1 km south of the Pottery Road crossing.

I saw this bunny 1 km south of the Pottery Road crossing.

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s ride. I’m not sure exactly where I am riding. I thought of the Beaches but there is a jazz festival on and the place will be packed. I may have to give the Beaches a pass for a couple of days. 

Wish me luck with laundry on Monday!

It hurts too much to post

Basically my body hates me right now. I made it go on a 46 km bike ride and my back, legs, and backside are reminding me that’s the longest ride I’ve ever made them go on to date. They’ll thank me later when we can do a metric century in one day and be ridiculously proud of ourselves. But until at least tomorrow afternoon various parts of my body will torture me. 

Yeah…

So, I’ll do a proper description of today’s return ride from Yonge and Eglinton to the Leslie Street Spit via the Don River Trail tomorrow. I took pictures of the scary awful bridges on the way there, and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed (and really, that’s the only part of my body not hurting) and hope the bunny photos (BUNNY!) are good ones.

Riding your bike from Eglinton Avenue West and the Allen Expressway to Davenport and Dupont – the park route

It’s a quiet ride. The trail starts at the end of the Beltline Trail, south of Eglinton West station and meanders through parks and playing fields until it reaches the rear of St. Clair West station at Heath Street. Just think, approximately 30 years ago the city planned on carving up all of the neighbourhoods south of the Allen Expressway into downtown Toronto. We almost lost these homes, parks, and trails to a highway.

My bike near Glen Cedar Road bridge

Glen Cedar Road trestle graffit

Graffiti on the Glen Cedar Road bridge trestle - close up

 

If I am feeling adventurous I will continue to Wells Hill Avenue and St. Clair where the trail continues south east through Sir Winston Churchill Park. This leg is a bit tricky since the trail is narrow, steep and rutted for the first 100 metres or so. Once that part clears the path takes you under Spadina road and the trail changes from gravel to dirt to a weird concrete lattice to sand then back to gravel. The sand and gravel makes the ride soft and sludgy because it likes to grab your wheels and turn you about. The best thing to do is spin in an easy gear and be brave.  

Crazy concrete on trail to Sir Winston Churchill Park

Follow the trail up and then right and then down though the Roycroft Park Marshes. There are sunny hills, park benches, and shady woods right up till the exit at Boulton Drive. 

Boulton Drive has it’s own bike lane and goes down hill all the way to Davenport and Dupont Roads.

A totally fun ride that is hidden in the parks under Toronto’s busiest roads. 

Next trip: The Toronto Islands!

Catching up on my Fish-eye Lomo photos

In my quest to find ever new and exciting bike rides through Toronto, I found a challenging one you can find starting at Moore Street near Mount Pleasant Cemetery. It isn’t long, maybe 2 or 3 km to South Drive and Glen Road in Rosedale. But the trail at the start is steep and rutted, a little too steep and rutted for me and I walked 100 metres or so until the trail evened out. The last half kilometre is a doozy. I walked up a seriously rutted trail that I couldn’t possibly ride up. And I was eaten by mosquitoes. They love me. 

After a simply terrifying ride thorough the Moore Park Ravine, I found the Don Valley Brick Works Park. I’d heard of it, but never visited. 

(Okay, maybe the ride was terrifying only to me. I passed by a number of walkers and runners who looked perfectly at ease as they made their way through the ravine. But, in my defense, I’ve never ridden through the ravine before, and it was the day after the Don River and it’s creek brothers flooded portions of the valley and I’m not used to riding on slick elevated trails with a steep drop further down the valley. And I’m a sissy. There! I wrote it! I was terrified. Simply sick to my stomach as I rode cautiously through the valley. Everyone else was fine. I wasn’t. Sheesh.)

Don Valley Brick Works Park in Toronto

Brickworks building from the top a corrugated metal staircase.

Bit of river, bit of greenery, bit of blue sky.

I like the way the sunshine bounced off the lens. I have to remember that the fish-eye lomo camera takes better pictures the closer you get to the subject. Intrude, my friend, intrude.

After I took these photos, I continued along the trail on my bike. The trail is beautiful! Incredibly it’s smack in the centre of the city and you rarely feel like you are near a major highway. I felt fortunate to see a couple of finches, butterflies, a chipmunk, as well as hear some mysterious scrabbling in the bushes (I didn’t dwell, I sped up a little). 

Along side Bayview Avenue, and in the distance is the Don Valley Parkway

In the distance is the Don Valley Parkway.

I had a few exposures left on my roll and I knew I had to take a picture of a house on Shaftesbury Avenue that has a Tin Man and family sculpture on the attic balcony. Once again the lesson learned is get as close as you can to your subject with your fish-eye lomo camera. I may need to scratch that sentence on the back of my camera…

Tin Man family on balcony.

And a couple of shots of wildflowers growing on the side of the road:

Now I have to put calamine lotion on my bug bites and eat supper. I am starving! 

 

Hideous Furniture

My apartment building has a remarkable tenant turnover rate. Each month for a solid week there are people moving their belongings in and out of new/old units. This results in tons of sale posters taped on walls by the elevators in the lobby and concourse, selling mostly Ikea bookshelves, Ikea dining room tables and chairs, Ikea sofa beds, Ikea tv stands, Ikea closet organizers, Ikea kitchen utensils, and a lot of other Ikea branded stuff. Which is great for anyone starting out or someone who wants to complete their Ikea themed apartment, or people who love allan keys. Also for sale are old television sets, Pentium 1 computers, dot matrix printers, enormous Yamaha organs, and house plants that thrived and turned into house trees. Sometimes a bird comes up on offer, or maybe a lizard with a terrarium and Lizard Kibble, and even an aquarium full of tetras (one time, disturbingly, the poster listing an aquarium on offer stated “new owners not required to keep fish”. I shudder to think what the fishes fate was). Now and then there are fur coats, leather jackets, ski equipment, snow boarding gear, and now and then a gaming system for “low low prices”.

I’ve never bought anything listed on any of these posters. I have a small place and I really don’t like furniture that smells like someone else’s life. I’m also not a big fan of Ikea, but I am fascinated by the hordes of arguing couples who shop there on any given weekend. I’ve often wondered if Ikea has ever provided their employees with “couples training” to prevent divorces that could break out at any moment when people are choosing colours for couches and shaggy throw rugs. One thing is for sure, Middle East peace talks will never happen in an Ikea.Today was a treat! I was perusing the latest posters when I found this gem:

Hideous

It sounds like the furniture grew in the apartment from some ugly bright orange acorns and then took over the place.

No thank you.

Still Waiting For the 2008 Becel Ride for Heart announcement.

I’ve been waiting for the 2008 June 1 sign up for ages now. I’ve decided to ride the 50 km route, or if my training goes well, the 75 km route! Sooooo excited. I read someplace that the 2008 Becel Ride for Heart website will be up at the end of February.

My friends at work and I are ganging up to train together and ride in the Ride for Heart, we even have a blog Team F5f2shutdown although it is very bare bones because I’m taking some team photos this weekend at work. The team is named after the most important part of a cashier’s job — the shutdown at the end of the day. We hit F5, F2, and then choose shutdown from the menu when we are done for the day. The blog will list our training, photos of our sessions together, advice, encouragement, hints, photos of our ride together, and anything else we sort out.

The best part will be picking out our team shirts! And a mascot, preferably a cat.