In an effort to remain somewhat balanced I try to seek out anything interesting when I have appointments, tasks or even simply going for a walk. The last two weeks I made some more little, and not so little discoveries. Spring being the most important! I wonder what April will bring other than showers.
A friend had shared a photo of a Christmas tree at Esquimalt Lagoon a few days earlier – one of those days when the rain held off. I had not been there for ages and thought this would be a perfect afternoon walk.
The only thing marring an otherwise enjoyable 30 minutes was all the off leash dogs playing on the beach. Perhaps that is allowed. Rather than leap away whenever one approached me I headed back to the relative safety of the curb side where cars park. I am happy to say I still enjoyed the ocean, the driftwood art ready for the holiday and the camaraderie of strangers also out for strolls. Even the dogs. (The captions are all mine) I never did find the tree.
As I was walking on the lagoon I spotted a gaggle of family. Two cars, both laden down with gifts, all passengers wearing their requisite masks. It was a distanced gift exchange! We are all doing our best to cope with what has been a very challenging year.
Driving home I heard the unmistakable vroom, vroom of a big motorcycle that then stopped at a stop sign, was that Santa riding to catch his sleigh? Beard and hair flowing as he sped off to the honks of ecstatic drivers. A fitting end to my Christmas Eve walk.
On my last day looking after my daughter’s cat, before going home to my two, I took advantage of the foggy yet fairly decent morning to walk along the coastline pathways. So many people think the west coast of Canada is too grey in the fall and winter – I say they are not looking for the gems. Although I have not left the island, nor gone beyond Greater Victoria, I can find so much to enjoy.
Canada Day is fast approaching, July 1st for anyone not living in the Great White North, and people in Kingston are certainly proud to be Canadians. Possibly having a Canadian Forces Base, originally slated to be the capital city all those years ago when the country was in its infancy, and just the fact we do have an awesome, relatively inclusive yet diverse population. (In other words we still have to work to do, but hey, we are still a young country). I digress, a great weekend leading up to a celebration.
This time last year we were doing last minute preparations for a wedding. First anniversary upcoming, nothing grand planned – after all, they have been together for nearly 27 years! This means I can spend time with my daughter, SIL and grandson without any of us feeling rushed or having to fit everything in. It also meant I had another day to explore on my own.
Once again I opted to go into town in the wee hours, this time arriving around 6:30am. I think the staff at the Princess Street Starbucks might have cringed when I walked in – no errors, friendly service and I was recognized. I have to expand my horizon. This day I took my book and a lunch. Two coffees later, plus breakfast that I did put on my card and points (5:30am was too early to do much beyond shower, dress, climb into the truck) and probably four chapters later, I was ready to wend my way to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University https://agnes.queensu.ca/ where there are five new exhibits and a newly acquired Rembrandt. Once more, I am not an artist nor an expert of any media. I just enjoy what others have created. It also helps that entry is free.
Although intriguing, and one of the exhibits I wanted to check out, I had to walk away from much of Let’s Talk About Sex because of the media used. I simply cannot watch screens with jiggling shots, they make me feel ill. Having to wear headphones and watch a small screen just about did me in. My favourite
exhibits were the Stepping Out https://agnes.queensu.ca/exhibition/stepping-out-clothes-for-a-gallery-goer/ and Puvirnituq https://agnes.queensu.ca/exhibition/puvirnituq-graphic-arts-in-the-60s/. Although a couple of the exhibits will close in August 2019 others are open to the end of the year and beyond. Best of all, there will be new ones. I urge anyone visiting Kingston to visit this gallery.
And then there is the upcoming Kingston Artfest https://www.artfestontario.com/kingston at City Park, an Annual 200+ artists/craftspeople/bakers plus, showcasing and selling their works, happening through to Canada Day, a lush, green space about a slow 15 minute walk from town, for all to enjoy; and the ongoing Music In the Park at Confederation Park across from City Hall, a fabulous setting and an hour of great music to dance, reminisce, or just listen to. A quick count of the summer line up shows at least 23 more one hour concerts! (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) Also the main stage for Canada Day celebrations taking over for July 1st.
By the time I was picked up I was exhausted but my day was not yet over! My daughter decided she needed to go out for dinner so, although I had already eaten, I went along to be company. What do nurses do when they have a couple of days off? They dance! (A few of the other women at the pub that night are also in the health field) Creekside Bar & Grill is a country favourite.
Not even Saturday and I had already filled my plate, a mani/pedi spa day, gift from my daughter, the movie Aladdin, with Will Smith, and dinner out rounded out my Friday. Hats off to Ester at Landmark Cinemas for dealing with our wrong day tickets! We stayed up past midnight, had lots of laughs and planned for more weekend activities. A reminder to anyone at home or travelling the world, look for the little things, they might even be free and far more interesting!
Expenses: Dinner x 2, nail spa and the movie were a lovely treat from my daughter. I had loaned money to my youngest daughter, she returned it plus an extra $5.00 to cover any fees. Still well within budget! It was also the end of the month which meant checking in with finances for those boring bills that must be paid regardless of travels. Happy to discover I could add $200.00 to my budget! Technically this means I could spend an average of $10.00 per day for the month of July. (I still have $100.00 from June)
Since arriving in Kitchener I have kept busy with everything there is to do here. So I am always surprised when residents of the city have absolutely no idea what is beyond their regular routine. This includes my daughter and her husband! When the topic came up, the day after we had visited Victoria Park, I learned that rather than a lack of interest it was more one of not thinking about what might be happening or where to visit. I am probably just as guilty of that when at home except I no longer have to worry about work or academic deadlines. I decided to continue with my morning search of an activity on my last Sunday. To my delight that choice also put me on the trail of a historic site close to downtown Kitchener.
There are many small galleries in the area. I found yet another gallery about a 20 minute walk from where I was staying. The Uptown Gallery at Waterloo Town Square promotes local artists, with new shows every two months, as well as inviting non-members to showcase their work. When I was visiting the works were primarily paintings of various genres, art photography, and glasswork. Sadly my iPhone photo skills were too poor to showcase any of the paintings except for one exquisite glass plate I coveted.
The artist working the space that day asked me if I had been to Schneider Haus National Historic Site in downtown Kitchener – I had not. She was kind enough to look up their hours, open till 5:00 that day. Also the only day open before I would leave. I thanked her, hopped on a bus and headed downtown. It did take a bit of a walk as the site is not in the centre of town – which explains how I had missed it. It is relatively close to Victoria Park. In addition to the house there is another gallery, currently showing Storytelling in Stone (Sophie Drouin) a mosaic artist – also the artist who had directed me to the site without saying too much about her own involvement.
Schneider Haus is Kitchener’s oldest homestead dwelling (1816) built by Joseph Schneider, a Pennsylvania-German Mennonite, for his family. I asked what the difference is between Pennsylvania-Dutch, my father’s ancestors – Loyalists rather than any faith – and Pennsylvania-German. Nothing really except those saying Dutch as their heritage came to what is now Canada in the mid to late 1800s and settled further west. That fits in with my father’s family history.
Although costumed interpreters/historians representing life in 1856, which was when the second generation of Schneiders occupied the homestead, were present they discussed the history, answered questions, and pointed out various interesting items in the present day. It is always easier to learn about a place rather than having staff take on a character they may not move out of.
This wheel was in the upper room of the rebuild first house (tiny) where the girls (the Schneider’s had a ‘small’ family, 4 girls 2 boys) had room to walk back and forth spinning. The interpreter said the women averaged 20 miles a day spinning.
During my walk I came across two other buildings with some historic significance. Mutual Life Head Office (now Sun Life Insurance) the original building, an ornate symbol of “Waterloo’s first life insurance company”, with the new offices attempting to tower above. Despite the high glass new structure the elaborate work of the Renaissance Revival (1912) building never fails to draw my eye. I discovered the oak and maple leaves of silver along the low garden walls. I have no idea if the represent anything beyond being pretty.
Finally, for many people my age a sad indication of time marching by. I immediately recognized the sign outline, and the shape of blue roof – a glimpse into my past. (Eventually the roof of all these ice cream parlours were red and the only article about this particular store indicates it might have been at one time) This was a Dairy Queen, serving dipped chocolate ice cream cones for 62 years! To give that perspective I am 61. The first Canadian DQ opened in Saskatchewan in 1953. as a child we would stop at Dairy Queen (never DQ) for ice cream after the harrowing 100 miles from Prince Rupert to Terrace.
I had no idea my steps would take me back in time to thoughts of my ancestors and my childhood all the way from Ontario to Saskatchewan to northern B.C. by simply glimpsing an old store and visiting an old Haus.
Expenses: Giant ginger cookie (Sabletine Bakery) $3.63; Schneider Haus $5.65 (I believe this is the first time I have paid an entry fee unless my lunch were included since arriving in Kitchener – well worth it)