Niagara Falls

Winter Storm

We got up with Alex at his normal school rising time of 6:30AM yesterday so that we could head out the door early for our drive to Niagara and beat the snowstorm. We succeeded. From Guilford to Albany, the sky was uniformly blue. Then it was uniformly grey. We did not encounter any snowfall until we were half an hour from Niagara. Our eight hour drive was uneventful, not too much traffic. More cars and trucks were headed east than west. We saw dozens of large utility trucks in formation headed east. We imagined that they were preparing to be in place to repair fallen hydro lines when the storm hit the northeastern states.

We listened to most of Fredrik Backman’s book, A Man Called Ove. We laughed out loud listening to this book even though it is also sad and touching about love and loss. Ove is a wonderful character. I heartily recommend reading this 2012 Swedish novel. I see he has three more novels. He appears to be publishing a new one each year. I look forward to reading these.

Now, more than twenty-four hours later, it is still snowing and is to continue doing so until noon on Wednesday. Niagara is finally getting winter. Not so, north of here at Cobble Beach where it is sunny and green. Home to golfing tomorrow, albeit still indoors.

I put my sourdough starter in the fridge today to give me and it a rest. I made blueberry bran muffins and oatmeal raisin cookies without the sourdough. I have resupplied my father-in-law with baked goods.

Time for a game of Hand and Foot. We have one more card addict in our midst.

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Grey Parkway Walk

January 28, 2017

A snowy grey day in Niagara. Brian and I went for a walk on the Niagara parkway north of Queenston. Everheart Country Manor in Queenston is still sporting Christmas attire, adding some cheer to a grey day. It gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor as a Great Bed and Breakfast. Two fisherman wearing red vests were spots of brightness on the very grey Niagara River. We noted that one of them was waving his arms up and down to create warmth. At least we assumed he was not sending out distress signals.

We walked 5.3 kilometres in an hour. Even with my cozy pants I was feeling a little chilly. It’s good to come in from the cold and sip on hot chocolate.

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival. Part of me says this does not feel like spring, but then what is a Canadian spring if not changeable weather with bitter cold one day and sunshine and warmth the next. I think March and April are good months to travel to warmer countries, but this year we are planning a trip to Portugal in September. This is not the best time to leave home but it is when we were able to book a kayaking trip across Portugal. We will be kayaking the Douro River from Spain to Porto September 3-12. We are studying the internet and books on Portugal to see what else we want to do for a few more weeks in Portugal. We are open to suggestions.

Meanwhile I want to commit to studying Portuguese so that I will be able to converse a little with the local people. We have the Rosetta Stone lessons to get started.

Changing Landscape

January 27, 2017

It has been snowing on and off in Niagara Falls today. We saw a little sun this morning but mostly it has been cloudy and cold. At 2C, no snow is accumulating on the ground.

We went shopping at Costco this morning, arriving shortly after the 10AM opening time. The parking lot was packed as was the store. Although I am not a frequent Costco shopper, I do not think I have ever seen so many people lined up for the checkouts. Am I missing some big gift giving holiday? Are people stocking up for a potential blizzard? Do people just like shopping. It is Friday, not Saturday; we did not expect such a big crowd. Is it this a new holiday?

Brian was so impressed with the Bose speaker that Peter had, that he bought one this morning. They were on sale at Costco, a good deal for his birthday gift.

This afternoon we went shopping at the Outlet Mall. We only went to our three favourite stores: Eddie Bauer, Solomon’s and Icebreaker. The salesperson at Eddie Bauer said, “I just love to see you two come in here. You are always wearing our clothes.” It is not as if we visit every day but we could well have been in once every six weeks in the past year. The best deal of the day was a pair of merino pants at Icebreaker: $229 for $19.99. And they fit! Yeah!

This week I was telling our friends about the pool and building constructed over the pool at our family home. The St. Peter Ave family property has been deteriorating these past few years with new owners who have not loved and cared for it as we did. In the past couple of weeks a backhoe has been busy. I went by today and took some photos. Although the house is still standing, the forty trees of the cherry orchard are gone as are the willows, plum trees, blue spruces and every shrub and tree from the front and back yard. Only the cedar hedge and a few cedars close to the house remain. The backhoe was excavating the remains of the swimming pool today.

The house will also be torn down. Plans are under way for the construction of single family homes and townhouses on the two and a half acres. The last orchard in Stamford which used to be mostly orchards is history. This is the third house I lived in that has been demolished: two in the past six months: this one that my parents owned for forty-five years and Brian’s and mine in East Linton. Our Calgary home was torn down to make way for a high rise condo. We have not been back to Calgary to see that changed neighbourhood.

My sister, Rosemary, is coming to join us for a roast chicken dinner. I have chocolate chip cookies ready for baking.

I did not swim today. šŸ˜¦

Reykjavik to Niagara

Reykjavik to Toronto to Niagara Falls
By Taxi, Bus, 757 and RAV4
Monday, June 20, 2016

It rained all night. The rain made music on the sidewalk outside our window. The coffee tasted good this morning, not at all medicinal. Orange juice, Skyr, an apple and a cinnamon pastry was our breakfast. Skyr is an Icelandic version of yogourt, much thicker, more protein, more like fromage blanc, sold plain or including fruit.

We saw many horses in the pastures along the two lane highway to Thorsmork. The Norse originally brought horses to Iceland in the ninth century’s from these the Icelandic horse has been bred. There are about one hundred thousand horses here compared to sixty thousand sheep. Icelandic horses are exported for breeding. Once a horse leaves Iceland it is not allowed to return. No other breed may be imported to Iceland.

It rained all morning. Brian’s knee is puffy and sore; so, we did not go any where. We prepared our bags and relaxed on our bed, trying once again to upload the past few days of blogs. No luck. Although the download speed in Reykjavik was good; the upload was not. We tried at our accommodation and in restaurants to no avail.

While we were in Basar at our mountain hut, everything had an extra price. There was no WIFI. Cellular cost extra for ten minutes of use. If we wanted a hot shower, it was $6 for a five minute shower. We decided we could go three days without. An icy shower was not appealing. Our feet did get well cleansed in the icy river. We had a stove that burned coal and was kept hot with a large pot of water on it. This was refilled as water was scooped from it for tea, coffee and washing dishes.

This morning we downloaded a Neil Gaiman audio book to have something to listen to while hanging around the airport today, but we did not end up listening to it.

Eir, the owner of our dwelling showed up at 11 AM. We asked her to phone us a taxi for noon, the time at which we needed to vacate our room.

We only had to wait ten minutes at the bus station to board the bus for Kevlavik airport. Since we were the first ones on, we took the front seats, more legroom and a better view. The road to Kevlavik is not very interesting, mostly flat lava fields with no animals. I think the lava is greening with some rain from the past few days. By the time we arrived at the airport, it had stopped raining.

Kevlavik is a very busy airport. It is easy to see why they are building a big addition. Upon arrival or departure you have to walk through the duty free shop. You do not pay any tax in any of the shops at the airport.

We checked our supply bag and went for lunch. The fish and chips with salad was very good. We saw Serge in the restaurant. He had done a glacier walk yesterday and was headed back to Barcelona today.

We browsed through the shops and spent the last of our isks on chocolate, lava salt and small bottles of Icelandic vodka. None of the prices for the larger bottles of alcohol were very low, not low enough to buy any.

We had to walk to the far end of the airport to Gate 27 where there were no chairs. We lowered ourselves to the floor with our backs to the wall. After twenty minutes the flight monitor showed a gate change to 31 at the opposite end of the hall. The crowd began to move but our flight attendants at gate 27 had not been told of the change. One of them phoned to see what was happening. Sure enough we were herded to the opposite end. There we had to board a bus to go to our plane.

We had checked in online yesterday and were pleased to see that we could change to the exit row seats. We had not counted on our plane being changed. The end result was that we were one row behind the exit row and even though that row was empty we were not allowed to change seats. At least not for a while. Brian asked a third time and we were allowed to move forward. His knee was grateful. It also meant we were the first ones off the plane in Toronto!

Our flight was half an hour late leaving. The sun shone brilliantly above the clouds. Very interesting seeing the mountains and glaciers of Greenland. The next great frontier, Greenland will probably take cues from Iceland.

No food is served on our flight unless you purchase it. We were wiser now and bought a smoked salmon and hard boiled egg bun at the airport deli.

The lavatory light did not work. A tricky business in the dark.

I watched two movies, both comedies with tear jerker aspects: perfect – Blended and Life of a House.

A four hour time difference makes for a long day, but not as long as if we had come directly from Manchester. We came down through lots of beautiful white cumulus clouds. We landed half an hour late at 19:25. Brilynn was cruising the pick up lane for us. Got to her at 8 PM. We had too short a hug and she was off to take the train downtown while we drive to Niagara. Quite a temperature difference from 14 C this morning to 32 C upon arrival. 21C and raining in St Catharines. Upon arrival in Niagara the rain had stopped and the setting sun cast a rosy lining on the clouds. Bed seems like a good idea. It gets dark here!

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Homeward Bound

Sunset on QEW

Sunset on QEW

Homeward Bound
May 7, 2015

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The three of us were awake when our synchronized alarms sounded at 6:30 AM. Our routine is so well tuned that we were showered, dressed, packed and on the street at 7 AM and it was daylight! A month ago when we started hiking at that hour, we were going by starlight. We did not go far to get breakfast. Margaret’s tostadas were disappointing white sliced bread. Brian and I opted for bacon and eggs which also garnered us a basket of bread cut from a baguette. I mostly enjoyed my freshly squeezed orange juice.

There were not crowds of pedestrians at that hour but motor city was whizzing by: cars, bikes, scooters and buses. We had a shoe walk to our aerobus. Too bad we did not know this shortcut upon arrival. Yesterday we asked three people for directions and walked for half an hour or more to find our hotel.

I learned from google that the Palau de Musica across from our lodging was not designed by Gaudi but by someone else in 1908, whose name now escapes me. No free wifi here at Barcelona airport; I used it up yesterday; so, I cannot Google again. At any rate, the architect won a prize for his design and the Palau de Musica has since been declared a World Heritage site.

There was a concert there last night. We heard the orchestra warming up while the concert attendees were entering. The concert did not begin until 9:30 PM; so, too late for us. It would have been interesting seeing the inside this building. We contented ourselves with pressing our noses to the windows and seeing the shapely glass stair ballisters.

Competing with the orchestra were students practising the scales at the music school one floor below us. Their violin and saxophone practices did not compare favourably with the orchestra. Fortunately for us, lessons stopped by 9:30 PM. The German soccer fans blew fewer horns but still made a racket in the street sometime during the night. It is probably good for us that Germany lost.

There is an International Auto Show in Barcelona for ten days and a Formula 1 race this weekend. I think this city has a very active schedule. Our bartender confirmed that the streets are always full particularly from March until the end of October.

7:46 PM ( Ontario time- 1:46 AM Spain time)
We did not sleep on the plane, either of them. We watched three movies. Brian secured an extra leg room seat for himself, the last on the plane to Toronto; so, we did not see much of him.

Our flight was half an hour late leaving Barcelona but the pilot made up twenty minutes of that flight. We were an hour late leaving Paris but arrived half an hour early in Toronto then sat on the plane for an hour. There had been a medical emergency on our plane and Public Health had to thoroughly check an individual before any of us or our baggage were released from the plane.

Our dear brother, Jim, picked us up at the airport and drove us to his house in Mississauga where our dear sister-in-law, Lynn, had prepared a welcome home feast for us. We enjoyed their company as well as Stephanie’s and Brilynn’s as we munched through sushi and pizza appetizers followed by delicious roast chicken, potatoes and salad followed by delightful fresh fruit salad.

Much as we were enjoying the company, we had to move on to Niagara as we were beginning to notice the time change.

We are now zooming along the QEW in light traffic on a sunny evening with a temperature of 19C.

We will drop Margaret off at her house and stay at Brian’s parents for a few days before going home.

The end of a wonderful adventure!

Tomorrow

March 29, 2015

Tomorrow is departure day for Paris and the Camino. It is also my father-in-law’s 93rd birthday. We are in Niagara this weekend celebrating that. I made a chocolate layer cake for the occasion. I used a different recipe and was disappointed to see the two pancake thin layers that I produced. I made extra icing and put sliced strawberries in the middle to make the cake look taller. Fortunately looks are not everything. The cake was very moist and chocolatey and tasted good, and there is plenty left for a few more desserts.

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Happy 93rd, Dad!

Happy 93rd, Dad!

We left home yesterday where all was white. Even our snowdrops which were visible for a day were buried in snow. By the time we got to Hamilton, the only snow visible was on north-facing slopes and tired old piles.

Although the sun shone brightly into Our Lady of the Scapular Church for 7:30 AM Palm Sunday mass, the outdoor temperature is only -7C and colder where the wind blows. Roma treated us to breakfast at The Queens with Rosemary and Margaret joining us. We arrived in time to find a table for six. There was a lineup at the door the whole time we dined.

I checked out Margaret’s backpack contents last night. She was doing her final laundering before packing again. I am still reconsidering my list. Brian and I will dump our packs today and reassess our contents one more time.

We are delighted with the many good wishes from friends and family far and near. We are ever hopeful that we will have a “buenĀ camino”.

Home Again

Cobble Beach

March 2, 2015

The sun is setting, casting gold upon the western horizon and hues of pink and blue over frozen Georgian Bay. A three quarter moon is brightening high over the bay in a cloudless sky.

We arrived home around 2PM after stopping for groceries in Owen Sound. The drive from Niagara was on mostly dry roads although we saw lots of blowing snow and skies that went from cloudy to threatening to a mix of blue and clouds as we got closer to home.

American Falls

American Falls

Beautiful ice tapestry

Beautiful ice tapestry

One of my favourite views of the Falls...at the brink

One of my favourite views of the Falls…at the brink

Happy 90th, Mom!

Happy 90th, Mom!

Home again!

Home again!

A Warmer Sunday

Our birthday celebrations continued starting with Roma going to mass with us at Our Lady of The Scapular this morning. It has been very difficult for Roma to go to church since she broke her hip last June; so, this was a big deal.

Roma was happy to receive a number of phone calls. She also received two bouquets of flowers and two miniature orchids; now, the house is fragrant with flowers and colour. I made her a photobook, “Celebrating 90 Years of Roma”. The next time you are in the neighbourhood, stop in for a visit. Roma will be happy to show you her photobook.

Brian and I went for a walk along River Road, from the lower bridge to the falls and back. There sure are a lot of sidewalks covered in snow. With today’s milder temperature, -3C, that made for lumpy, bumpy, slushy sidewalks, and challenging walking. The American Falls have so many ridges of ice that there are smaller falls springing out of the main falls, cascading over, around and through the bluish green ice mounds. Thousands were walking between the American and Canadian falls photographing and making videos using every imaginable device, mostly digital, Go-Pros on sticks, IPads, IPhones, cameras of every size. Brian and I did not take any selfies, there were plenty of those happening. Brian remarked that there will be a generation with no photos, as all these digital photos will be lost in cyberspace rather than in photo albums or piled in drawers and chests.

We met Margaret and her walking crew by the brink of the Horseshoe Falls. They had walked in the opposite direction starting from Dufferin Islands.

We finished our day and our celebrations with a lamb dinner at Margaret and John’s. Margaret prepared appetizers: cream cheese stuffed mushrooms and nachos. Brian and I prepared the main course: leg of lamb, carrots, corn and mashed potatoes. Patrick brought Greek salad and Rosemary made her awesome carrot cake. Now we need to walk more!

In other parts of the world we are assured that spring is arriving. Near Shipston-on-Stour, Ian is golfing in the rain, possibly stumbling over new lambs. In Bournesmouth, Mike and Jill are collecting frog spawn and are going to name tadpoles after us. Next we will hear they have engaged a silversmith to make crowns for our froggy heads. In the UK and in France camellias and all manner of bulbs are blooming. The latest weather report from northern Spain shows +15C! Four weeks from today we fly to Paris….whether spring is in Ontario or not!

Celebrating Birthdays

We are in Niagara Falls this weekend celebrating Brian’s mother’s birthday. Roma is ninety on Sunday, March 1st. Her actual birth was also on a Sunday, born “full of grace” on her mother’s birthday. Meme Yvonne also enjoyed ninety birthday celebrations. Fine genes! Rona was born on the same day as the Charlevoix-Kamouraska earthquake, the tremblings of which were felt on the flats of Atholville, New Brunswick, in the family home where Roma was born.

Roma...90 years young

Roma…90 years young

Happy Birthday, Margaret!

Happy Birthday, Margaret!

Rosemary, Margaret, Rona Lynn, Patrick

Rosemary, Margaret, Rona Lynn, Patrick

We had lunch at Ravine Vineyards in St. David’s, where it was Winter-licious time. Three course menus were presented. Brian and I enjoyed the beet and goat cheese salad while John and Roma savoured the beef rib and vegetable soup. I went for the lighter trout on quinoa while the other three ordered the huge burger, with bacon and cheese, and a plate full of fries. Roma ate more of her plateful than John did. All of us asked to have our desserts boxed to go….two brownies and two almandine tarts with pear. Thanks, Rachel, for your good suggestion to dine at Ravine. We followed lunch with wine tastings in their tasting room next door.

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

Instead of eating our desserts from lunch, we went to Rosemary and Frank’s to celebrate Margaret’s birthday with cake at Rosemary’s. February 28th is Margaret’s birthday. Margaret was born on Dad’s birthday, that is, on his February 28th Ā birthday. He was actually born at midnight of February 29th, but it was more fun to celebrate his birthday every year rather than every four years.

Rosemary thought her delicious coffee cake was not elegant enough; so, she also made a platter of chocolate dipped strawberries, brought out Nanaimo bars and purchased a tray of cream-filled pastries. Thank you, Rosemary for decadent dessert!