Friday, July 31, 2009

critical mass toronto


eastbound on bloor

down university

down university

after years of wanting to, andre and i finally joined critical mass - a massive, group bicycle ride that stops all traffic due to the sheer number of cyclists on the road. the event happens in many cities around the world on the same day. originally the movement was started to try to garner attention to the lack bike lanes in urban areas. in some cities like budapest, upwards of 50,000 cyclists come out!

it was so liberating to be able to bike in the middle of major thoroughfares during rush hour with no worries of getting cut off, having cars turn into you or 'door prizes'. also the sense of community was huge. there were cyclists of all sorts, from the spandex road bike riders, to the fixies, to people on vintage bikes and even kids - everybody happily bicycling together.

it was also interesting to watch as the veteran critical massers would ride ahead and block traffic for the safe passage of the rest of the group through intersections that had turned red. veteran critical massers were also quick to diffuse situations with angry drivers by performing trumpet solos or 'come on leave it alone, let's keep on riding.'

during the ride, we encountered a lot of smiles, some puzzled looks and even angry drivers. there was even an incident where a man rammed his nice honda fit into a cyclist! and sadly, despite police help through some intersections, a girl was later ticketed.

until riding with the group, i never realized what a politically charged event this was. some even calling it a 'protest' against cars. others call it a celebration of clean air and city living. either way it was great fun and hearing all our bike bells ringing through the streets was really nice.

when i'm back in vancouver, i definitely want to take part in critical mass! tonight, the expected turn out in vancouver is 3000 and police have basically told drivers to stay away from the downtown core.

some better photos of the event:
while waiting at a light on yonge
the talented trumpeter
a panorama

more links to other critical masses:
how a critical mass in new york became a violent encounter with police
critical mass vancouver info
history of critical mass and how to start one

Sunday, July 26, 2009

my hydrangea

now that i don't do container gardening in a contained, well draining balcony, i've learned so much!

i know people don't like all the rain that we've been getting in toronto, but it has been great for my vegetable garden and my hydrangea (pictured above).

i did kill a 'nelly moser' climatis, but i'll try again because climatis flowers are so beautiful! i was heeding my mother's advice of shady root environment and sunny vine location, but i didn't realize just how sensitive this plant is to watering! during one of he heat waves in june, after not watering for 3 days, i noticed that the leaves had completely withered and despite being brought back to life, the damage was already done and my climatis died a slow and painful death of browning leaves.

not to worry, i think i'll purchase another plant and get it settled in the fall. hopefully if all goes well it will start growing in the spring next year!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

we're a 2 beagle household again!


petey was found as a stray up north, but due to a vet nipping incident couldn't return to the shelter that he was staying at while waiting for his forever home. the policy at the shelter is to not adopt out dogs that have a biting history.... but marna and the group at big on beagles knew that the nipping was probably due to stress and didn't want to give up on this little guy!

petey's time at the shelter was running out and a second urgent call for a foster family was sent out so andre and i jumped on the chance to be his foster parents.

and what a sweetie!! petey has no training whatsoever, but he has a lot of potential!

petey, we're going to teach you some house pet manners and find you a home that loves you as much as elmo's family loves him!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

project kitchen


i look back at this pic and i just have to laugh. i can't believe i lived like this for months! all credit to D -- while i was enjoying toronto and new york last autumn, he was cleaning out our loft (ie. attic?) to make space for all our kitchen stuff to go into storage, ripping out most of the cabinets, and steaming off years and layers of wallpaper on all the walls and the ceiling. we bought a cheap ikea bookshelf that was used to temporarily store our essentials -- kettle, toaster, microwave, rice cooker and some dishes and pots and pans.

starting work

once we had finally decided on our kitchen design and had put in the order for all the cabinets and materials, the builders came in to do some of the major work. in order to support the new cabinets, two of the (very curved and crooked!) walls were stripped back to the beams, new plaster board put up, and a skim coat of plaster applied over all walls and the ceiling.

here you can see the plaster board has gone up!

also, our new kitchen was going to have a tiled floor, but in order for the tiles to lie flat and not crack, our bumpy and sloping floor needed to be leveled off. this meant taking up years and layers of flooring (lino, cork, even (sadly) the original floorboards), taking it back to the beams. supports were then added in places where the beams were sloping, and once perfectly level a layer of plywood was applied.

here you can see the plywood has been applied (and we have a floor again, hurray!)

the original victorian fireplace was also taken out and sent off to be restored to its original glory -- this meant removing years and years and coats and coats of white paint, all of which had turned the fine detailing into lumps of paint.

the victorian "sash" window also needed to be repaired -- so D took this out, replaced the panes of glass, took out the rotting bits of wood, and repainted the frames. but this did mean for several weeks we had bubble wrap covering a whole in the wall...!

we were soooo lucky with our builders. because of the recession, big building projects are now harder to come by. our builders (who would normally work on huge posh developments) needed the income of working on smaller projects, like our little flat. they certainly lived up to the reputation of polish builders being hard-working, conscientious, and perfectionists. they would start the day at 7.30 and sometimes not finish until 6 or 6.30, doing really exhausting physical work, and then before going home would take the time to sweep up, vacuum and clean so that we weren't stepping on dust everywhere we went. the only time i was in a bad mood with them was when they showed up at 7.30 on a saturday morning! crazy.

anyway, most of the new kitchen is in now, thank goodness. more pics soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

getting healthy

good food box!

my good food box arrived today and it was bursting with wonderful freshness! it's a super great program in toronto that delivers fresh produce on wednesdays to certain volunteer run drop off points all over the city! the produce changes from week to week, comes in different sizes and and has organic options as well!

i ordered the small box, non-organic option and i could hardly fit everything into my bike basket today! the contents were:
  • 2 lbs potatoes (white)*
  • 1/2 lbs tomatoes (plum)
  • 1 cucumber (english)*
  • 1/2 lbs bag apples (empire this week one of my favs)*
  • 1 bunch bananas
  • 6 oranges
  • 1 bunch lettuce romaine*
  • 1 bunch broccoli (more like 3)*
  • 2 zucchinis*
  • 1 bunch swiss chard*
  • * = local produce

plus it came with a mini newsletter talking about foodshare, the non-profit that organizes the good food box program, and 2 recipes for the feature of the week: zucchini.

foodshare was originally set up as an organization that helped food banks back in the 80s. now it is an organization that advocates healthy food for people of all income levels through education and a focus on food supply through local communities.

i found out about the good food box thanks to the nutritrionista's mailing list. the nutritrionista is a health food and organic store close to me on dundas street that opened up around the same time when we moved into this neighbourhood. ... and although, i can't eat a lot of the content this time because of a crazy homeopathic diet that i'm on (don't worry i'm doing it under the supervision of a naturopath) the box keeps my fridge stocked which means less take out and heading out to restaurants!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

happy birthday canada

happy birthday canada!!