Urban Walk: Oceanside discovery

We tend to get a lot of rain leading up to Christmas, and beyond. Which is fine by me as I really do not enjoy snow and the cold. However, rain usually means no lovely Oceanside walks. Today was shaping to be the one day of the week the sun might make an appearance and I was not about to waste it!

My first stop before heading to town was for a coffee – no real (lactose free) milk for my morning cup was not going to put my in a bad mood. We have a Starbucks barely a five minute walk away. I drove, parked, went inside and ordered a flat white. A lovely drink for my roughly 30 minute drive. I collected my sister and off we went. Today she was able to go farther after a nasty fall a week ago – going for a walk with me. We decided to tackle the longer board and cement walk along the water.

We both made sure to use the treads on the boardwalk sections! The ocean crashing on the shore churned up quite a wake. However, the weather held to present us with glimpses of sunshine. And then a glint flashed off the bushes ahead of us. Someone had decorated the various bushes for all to enjoy!

All we need was a bench to sit down and enjoy
Like shiny, plump plums!
An invitation to all. I have a great school bell – will you ring in the magic on the 24th?
Kitten has lost her mittens? A kind soul tacked these to a lamp post.

Maybe ‘[she] found her mittens’. I was very tempted to claim them for me! However, that would have been a very Scrooge move, or for those who are younger than me, the Grinch, before they both grew hearts.

After a round trip walk of about six kilometres (part way back my sister informed me she had been ready to turn around much sooner) we went grocery shopping (for my sister and one of my daughters). I feel a bit like an elf.

More West Coast November: a wander through James Bay

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.

Fisherman’s Wharf. The always popular, colourful mix of houseboats and fishing boats where you can find eateries, artists, kayaks to rent, music, hopeful seals seeking a handout (I believe no longer allowed) and a mix of visitors. Mirror clear.
Art installation?
I have no idea if the bits and pieces were added before this stump washed up on our shores or if someone saw its potential. I love the tide surrounding the base.

A Retrospective – rising above the bleak

October 2020

**As I slowly return to writing my travel blog this draft nearly had me rolling on the floor in laughter and agony. The final sentence could not have been farther from reality for humanity. Yet, for me, beyond not travelling, life has not been too terrible.**

I started out saying I had not travelled this year. Then I cast my memory to prior to October, when I spent three months in Ontario, before everything seemed to go downhill. Thank goodness for that time! Even fitting in little at home adventures seemed to be lacking. Or I did not find them very exciting/illuminating/educational or any special nugget to hold onto. Can it be I am becoming jaded?

That question brings me to the tail end of October. I had minor surgery then. Nothing to really worry about beyond the anaesthetic and recovery. It did set me back a bit. Then I was hit with a dreadful stomach flu bug that held me down for ten days. I was so ill my daughter with whom I live considered calling her older sister, a nurse, to ask if I should go to the hospital. I only found this out when said nurse told me I should have gone to emergency. I survived. Lost about 12 pounds (necessary but not that way) plus another few when I ended up with a bad cold! I was a sad sack indeed.

Not to be held down I did manage to work a temporary retail job, first time in my whole working life I have done retail. It was fine. Would I do it again? I hope not. However, this was to help out with joint finances my daughter and I share after her hours were severely cut. ( **I did find another part time job. Little could I have known what a saving financial grace that would be, after the fact, after the world shut down) Little did we suspect the powers that be were massing together in an attempt to bring us to a complete halt.

Musa, our black cat (with a triangle patch on his chest) became deathly ill. We ended up with a massive vet bill – a piss poor ‘Cat Clinic’ (I had words with them and eventually the main vet) plus the animal emergency hospital – of over $3300.00! So much for me even thinking of perhaps a day trip up Vancouver Island. As we did not have the funds we borrowed heavily, and received some donations from family, friends and a GoFundMe. (Desperation means doing whatever one can) I think the latter only works if people already have a strong connection in social media or a strong work/community/friends source. This is not to say one should not try, rather it is important to have as many resources as possible.

The first ‘clinic’ had a locum vet. She and the staff working with Musa on his second visit chose to misconstrue what I told them as well as withhold drastically important medical factors from me. Musa was sent home, unbeknownst to me not a great prognosis. Fortunately I know the signs of a cat in urinary distress. Musa was taken to the hospital, immediately treated and carefully monitored. Two days later he came home. My daughter will be paying back the angel who loaned the funds with her student loan. Who cares if we will not be any further ahead – we have a healthy Musa!

I am ready for whatever 2020 may hurl or gently offer.

Of course I was not ready for a pandemic. It put a near instant halt to so many plans. My workplace shut down. Being at a college it will not open in January as originally hoped. A move to Ontario was not only put on hold, it was killed. (Not too dreadful, I hate the snow) Musa is great. He hates us. We got another cat – rescued from Texas!

Sayyida

Musa nearly a year after being so ill.

Ontario visit: June 6 – 10 vignettes

As I look at the past few days I am astounded at just how many activities I managed to fit in as an audience member or actively join I . There was plenty to do which, at times, made choosing difficult. I mainly opted for daytime, or early evening events as I have discovered I am not comfortable with walking through downtown Kitchener on my own. Even if it is still light out. So, how did I fill my days?

To be honest, I was rather disappointed in this event. The music was fine, just not right for the setting.

The evening was a cello and either a violin or viola – size wise it seemed the latter.

Sunset Sessions, an evening, outdoor hour of ‘eclectic’ concerts (their wording). The two musicians had to contend with the fountain in the background before it was turned off. Then there were motorcycles revving up engines and careening down the street as well live rock music ramping up at a nearby bar. The session ended after 30 minutes. It did not help that the cellist seemed to be trying to hold back a case of the giggles.

I did bring my own lunch, the cookie bag was a free sample of a quartered cookie.

Musician: Jesse Webber

The following day was Live at Lunch, also at City Hall. An appreciative lunch crowd, perhaps 75+ people, at least half had brown bagged lunches. This fellow played and sang familiar, slightly up tempo ballads. City Hall also has a small art gallery that I thought to check out (having done so on another visit). This visit there were two small exhibitions – Fire and Water Show (Liz Skelton), and Sowing Seeds: a microscopic perspective (Gina Jacklin)

This one nearly invited me to jump in for a paddle – it seemed so happy.

Choosing just one was not easy. This is a close up to show the draw to touch. A sign does warn against it.

When I got home after the City Hall even I found a flyer for a Neighbourhood Day event the following day. The group, I, the Mountain were quite good and really seemed to enjoy playing for the small, local crowd.

Of course I had to go out that evening to have a Beaver Tail!

A book -mo-bike! What a neat idea! I even scored a book.

The 7th was extremely busy, a local park Neighbourhood Day event with song, games, free food: popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs plus lemonade, water and coffee. A warm up for the upcoming Cherry Festival, July 6th at, fittingly, Cherry Park. I was in Kitchener for this event last year, sampled Cherry ice cream. Sadly, I will miss it this year. Then the evening was Summer Lights Festival, five blocks of fun for all ages. Several small stages for music, magic and various acts; large size games including Jenga and chess; art displays and activities; a food truck court. It was nearly dark by the time I left and the party was just barely started.

I ended my weekend with a choice of at least three activities – World Refugee Day grabbed my attention the most. There were awards presented, short performances, a dance workshop, audience participation singing, a rather heart wrenching photographic art display – too many of the images are ones too often shown to us, yet nothing has really changed. I turned my focus to the uplifting art and messages of young refugee students – our future is the next generation. There was also food – hummus, pita bread, felafel, shawarma (I think that is correct) – I did partake, so hard to resist felafels. No wonder I feel as though I have gained weight!

Dance, dance, dance!

“I chose to draw cats…I like cats and they are cute. That is why I chose cats.” (Artist from the Philippines)

There is so much to do wherever you are, and it can be at little or no cost yet be so fulfilling. Get out there and explore, whether at home, a new city or a new country.

Monday will be my day of rest! As I had to walk the dog I am watching I did not mind too much that I had to make a coffee run in the light rain to the nearby Tim Horton’s after forgetting I had run out of cream. Nothing nearby was open at 6:30am.

Expenses: Heart Health for Women donation $2.50; hedging my bets for the next purchase of a Beaver Tail $6.78; toothpaste $2.25; Tim Horton’s coffee x 2 $4.00. Extra $5.00 from my youngest paying back a loan. To date I am still doing quite well.

Enter the Dragon’s Lair: Part 2 – We gain a cat

Email excerpt Sep 25/01: The following is a message for Crispin and other kitties in the know.

hi, my name is cotton and i am 3 months old.  i have studied english for about 4 days-[retty good arent i.i decided to let her invite me into her home.  she keeps muttering about being too old for babies.  she also says i miao too much when i want her, but i keeplosing her.

Yes, we have a kitten, three months old.  She finally figured out where her litter box is-we use sand stolen from the construction area going on within the school. She was a gift from a student of mine.  He said her mother only had the one kitten so I think she was either very spoiled or very neglected. She has finally started to purr and seems to think the mosquito nets are for her personal pleasure.This means locking her out of the bedrooms at night.

As I continue down this journey of reminiscing I love coming across these little gems. We were still in Xin Cun, still encountering all sorts of problems and still wishing, at times, we were elsewhere. We had indeed been landed with a kitty. I was of the opinion that Chinese parents told their children that foreigners love to be given pets. (It had happened before and would again) As if there was not enough on my plate already! Naturally the attack on my emotions would only work if my own children were with me. The little boy was clever, he brought the cat to school (I never did find out how he smuggled it in) and he had a Chinese teacher who spoke English translate for him. I thought they were laying it a bit thick when I was told the boy would be beaten – another ploy for sympathy I would encounter more than once – if he brought the kitten home. However, heartstrings were plucked. We had a kitten. We had also gone away for a few days so I must have been feeling magnanimous.

Cotton rarely posed for us. She was always quite skittish. I have no idea why the photo was black & white other than probably my poor translation skills in either buying film or having it processed.

Oct 3/01: P.S. Tell Crispin there is Kitty food here, about $1.00 (yes, CDN) per small can, I hope Cotton stays small!

Oct 7/01 (email to my eldest daughter): We have a cat now. Her name is Cotton. She is as much a scaredy cat as Bailey!  She refuses to go onto our balcony or even sit at the window in the living room. Her favourite new trick is to climb our mosquito nets and sleep in the top as though it is a hammock.  It is quite disconcerting to have a kitty hanging above one’s head. I have to discourage this because she is getting too heavy and will leave gaping holes in the netting-great for mosquitoes intent on nibbling at our toes!

Canadian Thanksgiving. It seems I had been very ill with probably bronchitis, this would be a problem throughout the years I lived in China, so we missed Thanksgiving Day. However, the next day we were treated to a lovely feast and given the leftovers. I said it was probably because we had a fridge. Or the fact I had three children.

Oct 9/01: So Cotton gets a fish head for dinner tonight. I hope she doesn’t complain about the soya sauce and stuff on it. Cotton is growing very fast.  She has decided she prefers cat food to fish heads or shrimp.  

Her fur was so white that capturing a candid photo was nearly impossible! She had lovely eyes. (When we gained our second cat, Mozzy, Cotton taught him the high art of grooming – he never appeared to be dirty even after missing for 21 days. That is another tale)

At the time the currency exchange was roughly 1CAD – 6CNY. Which does not sound like a lot until it is added up. Even $30.00 for cheap cat food in Canada was a lot of money! I have a vague recollection of earning no more than 5000RMB per month. If housing had not been included money would have been extremely tight. However, Cotton lifted our spirits as only a young cat can do.

Oct 18/01: Message to Crispin and all the other Kitties from Cotton

SHE keeps telling me i am too fussy because i like to have my kittypan cleaned more than once a day.  SHE does not like cleaning up after me.  AND SHE says i should not sleep on the net over their heads. i like it but SHE says i am too big. isn’t big good?

Response from Crispin: Dear Cotton; Of COURSE Big is Good.  You should tell Her that i[t] must be that the net is Too Small.

My youngest daughter and Cotton hanging out away from everyone.

Readers will discover that one of the ways my family manages to stay somewhat sane is due to how besotted we are with out kitties! These excerpts were often near the end of emails I sent bemoaning my lot in life. Usually along the lines of my children not listening, my students not listening and Administration not listening. Cotton listened, purred, and kept me company. She was with us for less than two years.

Before we discovered that Cotton was unwell Mozzy joined our family when he was barely seven weeks. Cotton was a wonderful foster mother to him.