Monday, May 24, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Don't tell anyone, but I skipped church this Sunday.

We had this great idea.

It was the opening day of Ontario Place.

Ontario Place is an internationally acclaimed cultural, leisure and entertainment parkland located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The complex extends throughout three man-made islands along the Lake Ontario waterfront.

Ontario Place opened in May 1971 and featured a five pod pavilion complex, The Forum, pedal boats, a marina, restaurants and the world's first permanent IMAX® theatre, the Cinesphere. It has grown a lot since then.

It must be 20 years since I was there, and DOTH (Daughter Of The House) hadn't been for a long time either. We decided to get there just as the gates opened - anticipating that because there was to be a firework display later that night, most people wouldn't arrive until late afternoon, so we'd beat the crowds.

We were the second people to walk through the gates (no fanfare) and it was quite remarkable that there were so few people around. We had the place virtually to ourselves until well after noon.

It was a gorgeous day -- just a light jacket needed since it's down by the lake.

We made our way over to the bumper-boats:

and managed the odd bump or two -- it was fun having the place to ourselves, especially since we weren't the greatest of drivers!

We took the Wilderness Adventure boat ride, and got a little wet.

We walked through the pretty conservation area a few times:

"I know I'm bow-legged, but what are you?"

We enjoyed a lovely paddle-boat ride around the Cinesphere...
which led us through a pretty little tunnel...

Where this family was waiting to greet us on the other side...

We said "Hi!" to a pretty red-winged blackbird...and managed to snap some photos of an unusually still barn swallow

"I hear something..."

"What is it? WHERE is it?"

``It`s coming...

``There it is -- a helicopter!``

We had a lovely lunch in a lakeside reataurant.

By now the park was filling up, but it was the water park, Soak City, that attracted most of the attention. And no wonder -- this was fun:

See the big bucket at the top of the tower?  Every 5 minutes or so, it would fill up with water and begin to tip...

drenching everyone below...great fun for what by now was a pretty warm afternoon!

We had thought we might stay for the 9:30pm firework display, but by 5:30pm we were pretty exhausted.

We did get a rest in the Cinesphere before we left...quite an amazing movie, Wild Ocean.

It`s a very moving account of how, each year ``an unbelievable feeding frenzy takes place in the oceans of South Africa as billions of sardines migrate up the Kwazulu-Natal Coast. WILD OCEAN captures spectacular breaching whales, feeding sharks, diving gannets, and massive bait balls inside and up close on the giant screen.``
Well worth seeeing, if you ever get the chance - and definitely enhanced by the big screen.

We`d had lots of fun, but it was also lots of walking, and my feet were beginning to take the toll..., via a last meander along the lakefront, we made our way to the exit and home..

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Come This Far, But No Further!

So what on earth is DOTH (daughter of the house) up to now?!

Well, let me explain:

In April 2009 the Ontario Government issued an edict.

They "banned the use of more than 250 pesticides, and over 80 pesticide ingredients for cosmetic use. The ban, which is now law across the province of Ontario, bans the sale of pesticides 'for cosmetic purposes on lawns, gardens, parks and school yards, and includes many herbicides, fungicides and insecticides'".
DOTH, who is also GOTH (gardener of the house), has been simmering over this for a whole year. "You mark my words," she's been saying, "by next spring you will begin to see the downfall of our beautiful neighbourhood."

It's not that we don't understand the seriousness of using pesticides, when it comes to the health of humans and animals. It's more the double standards in this edict. Guess what are some exceptions to the ban?  Golf courses and sports fields.

Golf courses and sports fields?  That's not cosmetic??  And don't tell me (or DOTH, because you will REALLY get her going) that someone goes across the golf course, inch by inch with a little spray bottle in hand spraying dandelions. Of course not!  Pesticides are spread, en masse, across those huge areas of grass -- and on a breezy day, isn't that a whole lot more hazardous than, as she puts it, DOTH going from dandelion to dandelion with her little spray bottle of pesticide, spraying directly on each of the few dandelions in her garden preventing them from spreading?

One could say (and DOTH does) that this is so typical of governments -- over-reacting as usual. One can receive a fine and prosecution for breaking this law. Not sure if that will prevent Ontarions from going over the border to bring back some pesticides from the States. Even DOTH had this fleeting thought about taking over some empty Windex bottles to fill up... it was only a FLEETING thought.

The opening paragraph on the government's website reads:

"The McGuinty government believes the use of pesticides to control weeds and insects for purely cosmetic reasons presents an unnecessary risk to our families and pets, especially when we can have healthier lawns and gardens without chemicals."

The problem is, that getting a healthy lawn without chemicals takes an awful lot more work, and for busy families -- well, they are just not going to bother.

DOTH's prediction?  Well, this is what we found on our walk this evening:


To prevent boring you, I won't post the rest of the photos I took of dandelions in an otherwise beautifully kept neighbourhood:

Those who can -- and there are many retirees in this neighbourhood with more time -- are doing their best, but you have to laugh at one of the government's suggestion for weed control: "pull weeds by hand." Tell that to the guy who owns the weed-covered lawn above.

So anyway, having ranted a little on behalf of DOTH, this is what she was up to: horror of horrors! She had found a dandelion in the back garden:

She was threatening, "Oh no you don't -- you go this far and no further..."
and out it came! I have a feeling this is going to be a familiar sight around here.

Now -- how about those ants....

We've already seen many, many more anthills this year than we ever have before. Potato peels help, but without insecticide, I think by this time next year we will be inundated.

On a brighter -- much brighter note, isn't this a pretty picture?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catching Up

I began to panic a little. Hadn't worked on the book (not mine, but one I've been assigned to write) for a number of weeks. So many things crowding in and seeming more important -- but deadlines loom and stress was setting in.

I'd heard about a Catholic retreat centre about an hour away -- came well recommended. So I packed a wee suitcase, loaded up a bankers box with all my research, articles, notes etc -- took along my laptop and headed out.

It was slow week there, so the sisters had reserved the cottage for me at a very reasonable price. I was pleasantly surprised:

It was SO cute!
And I had it all to myself!

A tiny kitchen with everything necessary (meals were provided anyway, in the dining hall)

A comfy little bedroom with an on-suite bathroom

I'm glad I had anticipated there probably wouldn't be desk, so I had loaded up a folding table -
lots of room for it, and great to spread out all my stuff.
(my suitcase is underneath it to rest my feet on.)

Got TONS of writing done -- 21 hours solid, over three days. Feeling a little less stressed now!

And when I needed a break there were acres and acres of beautifully maintained lawns and walkways to explore, in every direction:

It was pretty isolated. The 'big house' was up a hill, a few hundred yards away - not so serious in the daytime, but it was a bit spooky by myself in the cottage at night -- especially in a thunderstorm with the lights threatening to go out, and 80km per hour winds roaring through the trees all around!

But morning came and the sun came with it... and I and the cottage still intact.

The sisters were very sweet and so very accommodating. I think I'll be back!

Oh, I almost forgot -- don't you just love this painting, hanging in the cottage living room:

(you might need to click, to enlarge and get the full effect)

It's called "The Cardinal's Portrait"
by Toby E. Rosenthal

Love it!