Monday, 28 April 2014

Long Point - new for spring 2014

As cottagers are beginning to return to the Point I thought I would post about some things that are a little different this spring.
The Motel is gone. A couple of years ago a condo complex was proposed for the site of the old motel, on the corner as the causeway turns onto Erie Blvd. There was considerable controversy and the situation eventually went to the OMB and the proposal was rejected. However planning permission was given for a new motel. The old one was knocked down a couple of weeks ago and it is rumoured that the building will begin shortly.
The corner looks rather naked right now but it will be interesting to see the
building progress
Lots of trees are gone. After last winters major power outages (everywhere but in Long Point, we just had the usual short, sporadic ones) Hydro One has gone to town on the tree cutting. Some cottagers will return to find fewer trees than when they left last fall.
On the plus side - there is lots of firewood available.
I had been told that cottonwood poplars can fall without warning as they rot
from the centre out. This was the proof.
Deadline for bulldozing. This is only an issue for those of us that have a place on the beach. The storms of fall and winter blow large amounts of sand (often mixed with snow) off the beach and around the cottages. Every spring most, not all, bulldoze it all back onto the beach. This year we had a directive from the Ministry of Natural Resources to complete the work by April 15. There were, however, two extensions given - April 30 and May 10. This directive is to protect the Fowler Toad, a creature that is rare in Canada, although from Christine's research, there are plenty of them further south. George and I have always tried to get the bulldozing done pretty early as the walkway next door starts being used as soon as it gets warm and we want our sand moved and fence up before it's too busy. This year we were ready by April 20. The walkway has been bulldozed but we are still awaiting the guy to come back and finish off our work.
George always wanted to learn to drive the bulldozer but luckily didn't take up Keith's
(joking) offers to let him practice on our property.
Even at the end of April the bulldozer is digging up snow and ice. Many cottagers have not been able
to get their water going because its still frozen below ground.
To end with the customary cat photo......
Rasta reading ???? in the bathroom

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Long Point - spring visitors

Last week cousins from England visited. They had some time in Ottawa with Mark and the family, a week in a cottage in the Kawarthas (yep, in April, crazy Brits!), a few days in the Niagara area and 3 days with me at Long Point.
So what to do at Long Point in April? Of course there were walks on the beach and a wading incident to rescue a thrown glove.
Other visitors walking the beach. I think coming to the beach must be an acceptable
Mennonite activity as there are often long skirted and headscarved girls and  blue jeaned and
suspendered boys walking the beach.
The usual meals, games and conversations and a visit to the bird banding station at Old Cut.
An American Robin, so different from the British one, just after being extricated
from the net. Actually one of the thrush family (thank you the Jane St birders, again)
One of the volunteer banders, also coincidentally from England, examining a male
cardinal's tail feathers, to determine age. Cardinals are particularly "feisty" and this one
pecked everyone who handled him and the bag he was carried in and the tube he
was weighed in.
In contrast, the white throated sparrow was much more co-operative and so pretty.
They have the call that I associate with northern Ontario.
While we are on the bird theme we also visited Simon and Dan's boat after a visit to the Port Dover museum.

Danielle and Fiona attaching the name to the side.
The graphic on the stern.
And of course the final shot: Rasta doing what he does best.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Long Point - Spring chores

I will probably post more Paris pictures when I have no news from home but currently I am in the throes of spring chores. I returned from Paris to a cottage with no snow but still ice on the lake and ice under the sand.

First laker that I have seen, picking it's way through the ice.
It has been gradually breaking up during the last couple of weeks
At this point just ice along the nearest sandbar.
The prevailing current takes the ice towards the East, to go over Niagara Falls, and a westerly wind helps in that direction. However an easterly brings it to a halt or pushes it back towards the other end of the lake. I suspect the same pieces of ice have been back and forth in front of the cottage a number of times. I am so easily entertained.
Makes for some interesting shapes

Sorry, got sidetracked by the ice. The first chore, of course, was unpacking which Rasta insisted on helping me with.

Then there was laundry:
Just checking that its spinning correctly
After the post travel chores there were the spring cottage chores. Primarily; the snow fence and plywood boards had to be removed so that the area can be bulldozed. There is a deadline, set by the Ministry of Natural Resources, for this, so there is some urgency to this chore.
Neighbours helped me remove the snow fence and some of the boards during the
 last snow storm of the season (we hope!)
Christine and Jason came down for the Easter weekend and helped me remove the rest of the plywood
wall and the posts that held it in place.
With some furniture moved out of the garage we enjoyed the first, well
 deserved, drinks on the deck

And finally, if you wondered how Rasta felt about being at Simon and Danielle's for 2 weeks.
He caught 3 mice, harassed the dog and got them up early. Back at the cottage, he
 has now adopted the downstairs bed as his own.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Paris 2014 continued

I am going to continue to live my Paris trip a little longer by doing a few more posts. I took so many pictures and would like to put some more up on the blog.
Looking up one of the support pillars in Notre Dame. It is an immense space and there are
so many paintings, windows, sculptures, carvings that its easy to forget to admire the
building itself.
Massive wooden and wrought iron doors into Notre Dame
The front of Notre Dame is covered with statues. I'm sure there's a reason this guy is
holding his head.
Somehow the produce seemed more vibrantly colourful than at home, perhaps because
it doesn't have to travel as far as much of it is grown in Spain (in greenhouses) and in
Northern Africa.
Christine has always had "a thing" for Vespas so I took this shot for her. Later in the trip I saw
2 that I wished I'd taken a picture of. One was all dented up and had obviously had some close
calls. Next to it was one with a bulls-eye target painted on the side. A Vespa owner with a
sense of humour.
If your the youngest cooks helper you get sent out for the baguettes.
These beautiful water fountains were all over the place. I am not sure if they were just for decoration, for
washing your hand or for drinking water. This one was in the flower market on Isle de la Cite.

Fountain in the Louvre courtyard with the pyramid entrance through the arch.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Paris 2014 - Day 14, just walk and absorb Paris

First I'll catch you up on last night. A little background; Marie lived with Christine from September to December 2012, while she attended one semester of her Masters in Business at York University. Her friends, Perrin and Hermine were frequently there too (also attending the same program).  Marie and Perrin spent Thanksgiving at the cottage with our family. They are all from Paris. We met up with them last night at a restaurant near Chatolet.

It was what the British would call "cheap and cheerful". It was definitely not a tourist spot as there was no décor to speak of and it was jammed full of French speaking young people. The menu had some of the usual food we have been seeing at restaurants but also a section of Basque specialities. So had to try the cassoulet ;
This was a white bean in tomato sauce casserole with two large slabs of bacon also cooked in it.
On top, I don't know if they were also cooked in it or added after, were a sausage and a portion
of duck.
This was quite delicious but I couldn't eat it all. I asked Perrin if France had something like a Doggy Bag and she said yes, just ask for a Doggy Bag (but with a French accent) and, no, Un Sac de Chein was not the same, that was for pooper scooping.
Chris and Jason both had steak and I forgot to tell them about French steak, so it was not quite what they expected.
Marie had escargot and they were really just a vehicle for delicious sauce to
dip the baguette into.
Perrin had calamari.
The animated conversation slipped from French to English and often a mixture of both until Perrin said she really had to go because she had to work in the morning and we realized it was after 11. There were hugs and cheek kisses with promises to keep in touch and then we caught a bus up to the Champs Elysee but the only one still running didn't go all the way up to the Arche. We caught another bus to get to a Metro station and it took us around the, now lit, Eiffel Tower. During dinner Marie asked how we had found the Parisian people to be and I had given her examples of how helpful people had been to us. I had another example; as I was trying to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower through the bus window the bus driver pulled up to a stop at a light and gestured for me to go up and stand beside him to get a better picture.

Home via Metro, when we got a quick glimpse of the tower twinkling strobe lights, and in bed by 1am. Needless to say we slept in this morning.
Christine in her pjs leaning out our living room window, as I bring home the
morning coffee and croissants.
Today I just walked Avenue General Leclerc for about an hour and a half. I wandered in and out of stores, sort of looking for a particular souvenir that Chris wanted, but more to feast on the selection and colours and mentally gasp at the prices. This street is a Paris retail street. There is everything; shoes, luggage, clothing, purses, linens, household décor, cell phones, fromageries, boulangeries, chocolate, produce , meat, fish, banks, real estate agents and at every corner and often in between cafes and brassiers. Its a busy and fascinating street.
I walked so far up the street I actually saw a modern Metro sign
Rather than the old style like this
or this.
This last kind, art nouveau, from 1900 to 1912 (been on wiki again) has alternative entrance styles. There are 86 of this era still in use in Paris.

They also have ornate balustrades.

I couldn't resist taking this final shot. Its actually an RER (train) station entrance down by the Seine.

As for Chris and Jason: Chris received an e-mail a couple of days ago that she has a job interview the day after we return and she spent today working on the assignment that is part of that interview (the second assignment for this interview process - its intense) and Jason went to the Military museum. Chris has just left to meet him to climb the Eiffel Tower on their last night here.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Paris 2014 - Day 13, Jardins des Plantes

From an e-mail from Chris I found out that their day did not go as planned. It seems that the Louvre is not free on the 1st Sunday of the month from April to October. However Musee D'Orsay is, so they went there and Notre Dame and then up to their hotel.
This morning I set out at about 11am after my customary coffee. I had looked at both the bus and the metro routes and there were no direct, or even 1 transfer, ways to get to Jardins des Plantes from here. Also our apartment is just beyond the maps of central Paris in my guide book. However, I had a general idea what direction to go from Place Denefert Rochereau and figured going downhill would take me to the river anyway. It turned out to be quite easy as many of the bus stops have maps showing the main routes and "you are here" as well. Very handy.

I had read about pissiors and was surprised to see this one on my walk. Its a public urinal. When I looked it up on Wiki I discovered that I had a picture of the only remaining one in Paris. They were first installed in Paris in 1841, with the hope that they would prevent men from peeing on streets, in gutters etc. At their peak, there were more than 1200 in Paris alone (and other cities had them too). They have been replaced by sanisettes:
This is the one on our boulevard, across from the café. They are free and when you step
out they automatically sanitize (flush all over) before indicating they are available again.
George loved them! Very convenient and he didn't have to find a MacDonalds to use.
Unfortunately none of this has stopped public urination. In the (less than) two weeks I have been here I have seen a man peeing on the street (while his companion waited patiently nearby), in a train station and today watering the Alpine Garden.
The Jardins des Plantes is a lovely, large garden that also houses 4 buildings of the Natural History Museum (we visited them on a previous trip), Greenhouses and a small zoo.

I had read that there was a Labyrinth there and as I have used these for walking meditation in the past I hoped I could find it. It turned out it wasn't that kind of Labyrinth or even a Maze. It was a circular path up a small hill, with high(ish) hedges that ended in a little gazebo. Quite pretty but not what I had in mind. I walked up it anyway.

The Horticultural School is associated with these gardens and they maintain an area with all the plants named along neat little paths.
This huge yucca put mine to shame.
Iris in bloom
I think the label said this strange looking plant came from South Africa.
Art Deco greenhouse in the background.

After wandering this area I returned to the centre section to eat my lunch,
on a sunny park bench. I had picked up a small quiche, when I got my morning croissant, at the boulangerie.

The view to the South, towards the Museum, from my lunch bench with a huge pink flowering tree.
I think it was a flowering almond.

Looking North, towards the Seine
Many of the flowers in this central garden are identified.

The garden also contains a small zoo, Le Menagerie, named this because it started as the royal menagerie, moved from Versailles (see what reading Wiki before I post does). I didn't want to see it but I could see some of the inhabitants by just walking around it and the names of the animals were posted on this outside fence as well, so kind.
This wallaby gave me the eye. He knew I hadn't paid to see him.
I walked from the garden out onto the quai and along the Seine. There is an area here with sculptures, some beside the river and some in gardens alongside the quai.

I also wandered by some of the live aboard barges and 3 huge barges went down the river, one with containers on board and all with small cars on the back.

Can't help myself, I love talking pictures of Notre Dame, especially the back.
I walked past Notre Dame, past Shakespeare and Co, down Rue de la Huchette (where we had dinner the other night) and into Place St Michel with its huge fountain that seems to be a gathering place for young people doing break dancing.

Caught the No 38 bus and stopped for another coffee before coming back to the apartment. While writing this I have the windows open as it is sunny and warm. I can hear French spoken as people walk past. I can hear the traffic and the occasional police siren, so distinctive. I have a glass of red wine next to me. I am waiting for Chris and Jason to get here and then we are going out to dinner with friends of hers (Maria was Chris' roommate for 4 months while she attended York University in Toronto, as part of a business degree, and she and Perrin, also at York, came to the cottage for Thanksgiving that year) It will be nice to catch up with them.