Sunday 30 June 2013

Spencer Gorge/Webster's Falls Conservation Area, Dundas, ON

Since Borer's Falls is so close to Spencer Gorge and Webster's Falls, Gord and I drove over after our hike.

Thousands of people have come to enjoy the waterfalls and surrounding lands the Websters purchased in 1819. Family gravestones can be viewed just north of the Webster’s Falls parking lot. From the lookout near the falls, you will notice a cobblestone bridge crossing Spencer Creek. Built in 1936 and restored by Greensville Optimists in 2000, it draws visitors from all over to view its unique and lasting structure. 

The landscaped park around Webster’s Falls was bequeathed by the Knowles family to the Town of Dundas, then transferred to HCA in 2000. The park was designed as an English country landscape with low stone walls aligning the creek, an arched cobblestone bridge and viewing platform.

The conservation area was busy with people walking around, looking at Webster's Falls and picnicking.

Here is Webster Falls ... it is 30 metres (98 ft) high.

Borer's Falls/Rock Chapel Walk, Flamborough, ON

It was such a nice sunny day so Gord and I headed to Flamborough (about a 50 minute drive west) to hike around the Borer's Falls/Rock Chapel Walk ... we'd never been there before.

With more than 100 years of history, Borer’s Falls was originally used to provide water power for the Rock Chapel Village Sawmill. Borer’s Falls is 15 metres high and can be seen year round. This mill was run by the Borer family. After years of land clearing throughout the area, the creek’s flow was altered to the point where it could no longer power the mill. Borer family descendants still live in the area today.

The trail is part of the Bruce Trail (885 km [550 mi]).

The Bruce Trail begins in the Niagara Peninsula of Southern Ontario in Queenston on the Niagara River, not far from Niagara Falls. From there it travels through the major towns and cities of St. Catharines where it passes through wine country near the Short Hills Bench. It continues due north through Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Halton Hills, Walters Falls, Owen Sound, Wiarton and finally Tobermory.

After we parked, we walked to Borer's Falls.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Book ~ "The Sweetest Hallelujah" (2013) Elaine Hussey

From Goodreads ~ Betty Jewel Hughes was once the hottest black jazz singer in Memphis. But when she finds herself pregnant and alone, she gives up her dream of being a star to raise her beautiful daughter, Billie, in Shakerag, Mississippi. Now, ten years later, in 1955, Betty Jewel is dying of cancer and looking for someone to care for Billie when she's gone. With no one she can count on, Betty Jewel does the unthinkable: she takes out a want ad seeking a loving mother for her daughter. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, recently widowed Cassie Malone is an outspoken housewife insulated by her wealth and privileged white society. Working part-time at a newspaper, she is drawn to Betty Jewel through her mysterious ad. With racial tension in the South brewing, the women forge a bond as deep as it is forbidden. But neither woman could have imagined the gifts they would find in each other and in the sweet young girl they both love with all their hearts. Deeply moving and richly evocative, The Sweetest Hallelujah is a remarkable tale about finding hope in a time of turmoil, and about the transcendent and transformative power of friendship.

It's July 1955 amidst racial tensions in the southern U.S.  Blacks aren't allowed in the same places as whites ... whites have washrooms in restaurants whereas blacks are given a Dixie Cup and told to go out back.  Whites risk having their tires slashed, messages painted on their doors and worse if they associated with blacks.  A very sad time.

Betty Jewel is black, a former jazz singer and dying of cancer.  Knowing she doesn't have a lot of time left, she needs to find a home for her ten-year-old daughter, Billie.  They live with Betty Jewel's elderly mom, Queen, bakes pies for a living.  Cassie is white, a widow and fairly well-to-do.  Needing to do something, she works part-time at a newspaper.

Betty Jewel and Cassie come together when Cassie sees an ad that Betty Jewel has placed in the newspaper looking for a mother for Billie once she's gone ... she wants to write a story about it.  The women become good friends despite their differences.  Each has solid support system ... Betty Jewel with her friends, Sudie and Merry Lynn, and Cassie with her late husband's family ... who are leery of their growing friendship.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I started it a few weeks ago and wasn't really getting into it (I got about about 40 pages into it) ... I put it aside for a couple weeks.  I'm glad I picked it back up again because I ended up really liking it (maybe I wasn't in the mood for it at first?).

I liked the writing style ... I thought it flowed well and was well-paced.  It's written in third person and the focus shifts between Cassie, Betty Jewel and Billie.

I liked the characters.  Cassie was a strong woman.  Even when advised she shouldn't hang out in Shakerog, a poor black area where Betty Jewel lived, she still does because her friendship with Betty Jewel is that important.  Betty Jewel risked her friendships with Sudie and Merry Lynn when they are suspicious as to why a rich white woman is suddenly hanging around.  Queen loves her daughter and granddaughter and turns to her faith to try and make things okay.  Billie is sad that her mother is dying and has dreams of meeting her famous dad some day.

I would recommend this book.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Book ~ "Hidden" (2013) Catherine McKenzie

From Goodreads ~ When a married man suffers a sudden fatal accident, two women are shattered - his wife and someone else's - and past secrets, desires and regrets are brought to light. 

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker, Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother - her ex-boyfriend - Tim. 

With Tish’s co-workers in the dark about her connection to Jeff outside the workplace, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the company’s behalf but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, our personal choices and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

On a Friday right after firing the man who had hired him, Jeff decides to walk home, gets hit by a car and is instantly killed.  When his wife, Claire, is told the news a couple hours later, she is understandably devastated.  Her friends and family (including Jeff's family) gather around her to help her and her son, Seth, get through it.

Tish and Jeff worked for the same company but in different cities.  They met at a conference, kept in touch and have gotten close through texting, emails and meeting again at other conferences.  Tish wondered why Jeff hadn't responded to her emails and texts all weekend.  She is also devastated when she learns on Monday of his death but, unlike Claire, she has to keep it to herself so her co-workers, her husband and her daughter don't realize the true extent of her grief.

This story tackles an interesting dynamic ... a man with a wife and a close female friend ... and the interactions between the two when he suddenly dies.

This story is written in the first person, with the point of view shifting around between Jeff to Claire to Tish.  This way we get to know each of these characters, what they were thinking and why they've done what they've done.  Each speaks of the past so though the story starts with Jeff's death, we get filled in on their histories.  It was an interesting style when it was Jeff's point of view considering we know he's already dead.  Of the three main characters, I liked Jeff the best and felt sorry that he was dead ... he seemed like a nice guy.  Though I should have been sympathetic, I couldn't warm up to Claire or Tish.

This is 200 calories

Wednesday 26 June 2013

J. Cole concert line-up, 99 Sudbury, Toronto, ON

As I was nearing home after work today, I came across a huge crowd gathered around 99 Sudbury in our 'hood.  Cop cars had blocked off the street around 99 Sudbury.

What was going on?

A surprise concert by J. Cole (apparently he's a rap singer) was announced today to be held at 99 Sudbury tonight.  400 tickets were available for $1 ... there was a crowd of about 2500 wanting them!  The doors opened at 6pm and apparently the line-up started at 3pm.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Crumpet's little man

I've been having trouble sleeping the last couple nights.

Both nights I listened to the bedtime tunes twice (so that's 90 minutes each night) to no avail.  Needless to say, it's been frustrating ... especially with Gord snoring next to me (grrrr!).

Just after 1am this morning, I heard glass smashing.  Eeeeeek ... was someone trying to break in?!

I got up to investigate and found this along with a broken glass on the floor ...

It's Crumpet's little man that she loves to toss up into the air and attack when it falls.  She must have been playing and it landed next to the glasses and knocked one over.

I had bought Morgan and Crumpet each one last year (they have about 30 toys on their toy shelf ... no, these kitties aren't spoiled!).

Here's Morgan's "Lil Buddy" ... neglected and like new.

Here's Crumpet's "The Vet" ... raggedy but definitely well-loved!

Hauling out the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the night to vacuum up pieces of glass didn't help me sleep either, btw.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Redpath Waterfront Festival, Toronto, ON

Gord headed to Hamilton this morning for a belated Father's Day celebration with his son, Ken.

It is such a nice day so I headed down to Harbourfront to check out the Redpath Waterfront Festival ... it was the official launch of the Tall Ships 1812 Tour.

I started at the west end and walked eastward.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival, Toronto, ON

Gord and I attended the fourth annual Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival today ... it was from 4pm to 9pm.  We've been to the other three.  This one was held at Wychwood Barns (Christie/St. Clair W).  The last two years it was held in our 'hood.

It had been raining all day but stopped about 3:00pm (yay!) ... then it got really humid (boo!).

A ticket was $50 and your mug and all your samples were included (we got our tickets months ago).

This is once we got in at about 4:30 (there was a ten minute line-up to get in).

"Adopt a Pet" postage stamps, Canada Post

When we went to the post office this afternoon,  I bought some stamps.  I don't use many these days but it's good to have some handy.

I saw they had some promoting adoption of pets ... so of course, I bought them!


Trius wine club - June 2013

We picked up our box from Trius at the post office today (we weren't home when they tried to deliver it Monday).

Gord and I have been members of the Trius Wine Club (formerly the Hillebrand Wine Club) for over ten years.

Every month, 2 bottles of our best wine will be delivered to your door along with Winemaker Craig McDonald’s tasting notes and Chef Frank Dodd’s recipes.

The cost is about $40 a month and it's only available in Ontario.

Here's what we got this month ...

  • Artist Series Gewurztraminer 2010 ($11.45) ~ We love Gewurztraminers!  The recipe included that pairs with it is Sweet Pea Soup with Minted Ricotta
  • Trius Red 2010 ($22.95) - The recipe included that pairs with it is Spice Rubbed Chicken Barbequed on a Can (sounds like beer-can chicken, which is yummy!)

As usual, Morgan enjoyed the box!

Friday 21 June 2013

Dog & Bear Pub, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at the Dog & Bear (Queen W/Dovercourt), which is in our 'hood.

Friday's special is fish and chips and a beer for $15.

It was quiet when we got there about 6:30ish but was getting busy when we left.  We sat at a high top by the window.

I ordered the special ... here's my beer, an Amsterdam Blonde.  Yum!

Happy Friday!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Hyatt Regency, Montreal, PQ

I spent the last few days in Montreal and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency.

I'm not a fan of this hotel but (1) it's close to the Montreal office of the company I work for and (2) the other hotels I checked out were booked because of Les FrancoFolies de Montreal.

I had booked a king room but there were none available when I checked in so they gave me a room with two double beds on the 11th floor ... this was apparently an upgrade because (1) it's on higher floor and (2) the view isn't of office buildings.

Les FrancoFolies de Montreal was right outside my window so I could hear and see a lot, which is cool.  The receptionist had assured me that the music would be over at 11pm but it wasn't ... the last bands came on at 11pm and played 'til midnight.  Good thing I'm a night owl!

Here's the view during Les FrancoFolies de Montreal Tuesday night ...

... and the same view yesterday morning.

Here's my room:

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Les FrancoFolies de Montreal, Montreal, PQ

Les FrancoFolies de Montreal is happening in Montreal from June 13 to 22.

Established in 1989, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal is a large annual music and performance festival held in downtown Montreal, featuring over 1,000 French-language performers from all over the world, as well as attracting over 500,000 visitors.

Many of the performances are free to the public and are held on various stages in and around the Place des Arts section of Montreal's "Centre-ville." Other performances are held at nearby theaters and require that tickets to be purchased to attend.

It focuses on popular music performed chiefly in the French language or by performers from Francophone countries. Musical styles such as rock, pop, chanson, hip-hop, rai, folk, punk, and many others are featured during the festival's nearly two-week run.

I don't speak French but I still enjoyed the acts.

Here's what I saw yesterday ...

These dancers were great ... it was like Stomp in rubber boots.  They danced at suppertime.