Ontario Visit: from Drag Race to Lakeside

The last two weeks were a mix of big city crazy to sublime quiet. The only factor that did not change was the heat and humidity. Thank goodness for AC in the house and the truck! Even when there thunderstorms it was still hot and humid with the added drenching.

My daughters treated me to a show of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Roadshow. I am unsure if that is the actual title although it makes sense if it is. My eldest drove us to Toronto, we met up with my other daughter, had lunch at the New York Cafe, (I had the single serving of French Toast – what a great idea to offer that choice) across from the Danforth Music Hall where we would see the show, and had enough time to wander around Danforth a bit. The show was great, all the audience gave a big round of applause for the Canadian favourite, Brooklyn Hytes – I do wish I could have shown him dancing en pointe!

Very unassuming theatre. Pretty sure it is not where the stars perform. The queue started early – no seats on the main floor.
Unfortunately it was so dark that none of our photos did justice to the performers. If anyone has a chance to see a show do so! Even if in a grungy theatre.

We saw my younger daughter off at the GO Station before heading back to Kingston. Halfway there we stopped for dinner in Point Hope, a lovely little town with some great old buildings. Dinner was at Turtle Jack’s because we loved the name. I never did discover why it is called that. Then a very quick walk to admire some of the architecture. I am crossing my fingers for a return trip. especially if there is a chance of getting some better photos!

Bank of Upper Canada erected in 1857. Now the Carlyle Bistro and possibly a boutique hotel. If I had seen this earlier we might have eaten there instead.

Port Hope Town Hall
The following day was a time to hide from the exhausting heat, read and literally watch the flowers pop out much like popcorn does. The morning had started with perhaps five fully opened heads to then be a burst of colour by the end of the day.
A summer school group headed out on Gould Lake.
A restful view at the lake after the hectic city – once all the canoes had passed by. Also where I discovered I really did need the bug spray I had bought!

More adventures to come it’s a trip to Ottawa, and probably Niagara Falls as well as more forays into Kingston if I can avoid the heat!

Expenses: (oops, forgot to put in the ones for when I was in Smiths Falls) Museum $5.00; lunch $11.25 (just me so quite extravagant); insect spray + sundries $12.22 (although my daughter bought more I think I will need my own); Starbucks account $20.00 (this was over a few days to cover what my daughter in Victoria had used – points & money); bottled water $4.00 (gasp, gasp); lunch in Toronto for two $19.00; groceries $7.30

Although it appears I have wantonly spent my limited funds this was over a period of roughly three weeks. I am still well within budget. Just as well considering I have some upcoming travel expenses.

Ontario Visit: Smiths Falls

That name is not a typographical error. It seems the town went through a number of spellings before officially taking on Smiths Falls. Although once the bustling home of Hershey’s kisses, Victor Record (they pressed the iconic first Beatles album), a ploughshares & munitions factory, and a Railway link to the rest of Canada, and the Rideau Canal, the town centre has lost much of its lustre over the years yet continues to attract boaters and tourists for its locks and beaches.

Sad to say the Hershey’s factory shut down in 2009. It sat empty for ten years before being resurrected as a marijuana plant that may also soon be offering edibles. Pot kisses anyone?

I walked along the lovely parkway that skirts the canals where there were some pretty snazzy looking boats. None of the locks were operating when I visited. I checked out the 4 storey Rideau Canal Museum, considering its size the exhibits are somewhat misleading. Then, thinking I might also have time stop at the beach I walked under the beating sun to the Heritage House Museum.

I cannot effectively encapsulate the delightful private tour I was given by the exceedingly knowledgeable Justin, a young university student who provided information through wit, fact and passion. I spent two hours listening, discovering, perusing, learning and even teaching, that I could have easily expanded to a longer visit. My donation of $5.00 was certainly well worth it!

To round off my day, after my daughter picked me up we went to Creekside Pub for dinner where there was live music. I was a little pink, tired, and happy. A sign of a great day!

Trinity United Church.

Being unfamiliar with Sunday services I did not enter any churches. This one certainly caught my eye.

My attempt to show the force of the water – the walkway is cordoned off with with a screen covered in ivy; ropes; cement blocks and signs.

Travel in much earlier days along the canal meant being ready for all occasions!

The bridge across is fixed, still rather scary.

The narrow gates terrify me. The hook is used to help push boats going astray and, I assume, for fishing out hapless fishermen.

View from the Rideau Canal Museum lookout. No fee to visit this Parks Canada Museum.

When I asked if one section opened it seemed unknown – look at what we discovered! This is a carpenter’s toolbox. I expect my guide might have known about it but it was fun to think otherwise.
The lid. The curators do not know who the initials are for. However, it is a piece from the same period of house.
Cast iron stove crafted in Smiths Falls. Note the train engine on the front.

How often can a visitor ask to see the bottom of an antique piece? I still have not figured out what it says. A teapot given to new staff by the 2nd family to own the home. There were a number of artifacts visitors are encouraged to inspect more closely – in the hands, or under the watchful eye, of the guide of course!

To round off the day, Creekside Pub, Sunday music on the patio with Jordy Jackson (he has an album Can’t Cruise Without Country)

Ontario Visit: looking up & smelling the roses

First, the only rose bush I came across is in my daughter’s front garden which has yet to bloom from its tightly fold bud. Anticipation. There is, however, an abundance of lovely, sometimes fragrant blossoms in the country outside of Kingston as well as in the city. These in addition to the now familiar streets, lakefront and architectural pleasures that abound in the downtown core. There is also quite decent internet to be found.

After three days of ease in the relative quiet of the countryside it was high time I caught a ride to town. The farthest I had gone since arriving was to a small general store that is a five minute drive away where I bought coffee cream and, wickedly decadent, two small cinnamon rolls. I had no choice, they were packaged together. Not that there was much to choose from by mid-afternoon. Although I do not know if the store owners do their own baking the selection has the look and flavour of being local. Other than that foray into the world I had been catching up on my reading – finished yet another book, am now down to three, one of which I have started, walks every day, feeding the animals, enjoying the weather before it becomes sweltering, and just taking it easy.

My daughter’s peonies had been tightly closed the day I arrived only to suddenly pop into full bloom nearly overnight.

By my fourth day I needed internet that would not constantly shut down at the slightest twitch of a finger or the swaying of a single leaf. The property is surrounded by tall, densely leaved maples that block out the signal. There is something about the configuration of the land and house because the neighbours next door and across the street seem to have no problems. My plan was to edit a paper (I tend to ignore my own errors), while I had a coffee and muffin at SB, then go for a walk before calling (or texting) for a ride. There are not any buses, taxis would eat my paltry budget in two days and walking or riding a bike are nearly impossible.

As mentioned, I am now quite familiar with downtown Kingston. Once I was on a walk it felt rather like coming home. I then wondered what could draw my attention in an area I had thoroughly explored over the past few years. I walked along Confederation Way along Lake Ontario before being enticed by a patio adorned with lush foliage and flowers. After admiring this patio surround I realized many of the small patios had similar arrangements to entice would be customers. I tend to think this is two fold: primarily a way to encourage patrons, as well as throwing off the heavy mantle of winter. What better way than to sit in a comfortable patio chair, umbrella overhead, flowers, and bees buzzing, sipping a cold drink, a perfectly brewed coffee or enjoying a meal without a care in the world.

I then did what I always do, and recommend to anyone when visiting new places – I looked up. I had seen some of the cupolas and bell towers that adorn many of the older buildings and of course churches on previous visits yet never really took cognizance of them. Despite passing by Hotel Dieu Hospital many times, including going there to have my arm casted I had never noticed the rather large, if somewhat dilapidated, cupola with the cross atop it. Perhaps it was how the sun slanted across it. This occurred just as I was to step inside the Kingston Public Library, that had been closed for two years for renovations; across the street is the Greek Orthodox Church, a simple enough structure enhanced by a beam of sun streaming down.

Hotel Dieu Hospital was once run by the Catholic Church.

A two hour stop at the cavernous library, yet full of light (they need more stacks to dull the echoes) to get away from the encroaching heat – the sun and I do not always get along – and to work on that edit, I was more than ready to find lunch and go for another walk. To save money, using the App my daughter has, I went back to SB, where I know they have a small variety of protein boxes that I can eat. I would have brought my lunch if I had not left the house at 6:30AM! I did have a granola bar that I ignored until my blood sugar plummeted when still at the library. (I do try to avoid such events) Sated I continued my meandering.

I want to steal that book title!

I would cross paths with my all time favourite Kingston coffee shop a couple of times, managing to resist temptation, a church with its bell tower appearing to be readied to have its bell removed or possibly returned, another church with all the doors flung wide open – I went inside to escape the heat and humidity that had snuck up, enjoying the hushed tones, cool depths and sweeping ceilings. There are probably ten churches within walking distance of City Hall. I may map out visiting any that are open to visitors. I made a point to walk by St. George’s Cathedral, they still hold weekly summer, lunch time concerts every Thursday. No lunch though.

This is on my extravagant spending list.

It was soon time to text for a ride. I even took a short break at the nearby Tim Horton’s -it has a dreadful reputation for having drug dealers and street people hanging about, the latter were across the street and I guess all the dealers were having a break elsewhere. I was to meet my ride across the street. A long day, arriving at the house after 4:00, yet productive with plans in my head for upcoming ventures into town.

Expenses: $16.94 medicine (I found out later my daughter has what I needed, oh well); $2.05 Tim Horton’s coffee & 2 Timbits. Starbucks card $7.65 (this will not be included in my budget)

Ontario Visit: weather, walking, wonders

Wanting to remain within my tight budget as well as having the freedom to choose or discard an activity can have ups and downs, as well as very worn out feet. I should preface this with the fact I do check out distances when I consider walking as well as the option of taking transit. Naturally, weather must also be factored in. To date I have been fortunate that overall the weather gods have been kind to me. Only a couple of steering hot days and two downpours. So, I got soaked yet managed to escape becoming sunburned. Being prepared is key. I do not carry an umbrella but do have a rain shell. I try to choose based on the weather forecast. I carry a sunscreen stick, water and a snack.I map out places for breaks (usually bathroom breaks) and wear sturdy, comfortable shoes. Fashion is far down my list of priorities, discoveries are at the top.

I made the insane decision to walk from my daughter’s place to Conestoga Mall. All I knew was it was basically a straight line and there would buses, Starbucks, and a breeze. Seemed like a great idea at the time. My final destination was the City of Waterloo Museum where a new, free admission, exhibit: The Sublime Mr. Seagram was opening that day. Two hours later, with a stop for coffee and a breather, thinking I would never do that again, I finally made it. Distance, over 9km. Before I even made it to the museum I was exhausted! I am definitely getting older.

The museum is tiny, which is how it fits so nicely into a small corner of the mall. Mr. Seagram was one of Waterloo’s founding innovators. With the 100th anniversary of his death this exhibit shows his life in business, horse racing, politics, family and local community engagement. Whisky and Horse racing made an excellent match. Mr. Seagram invented Seagram’s VO whisky, became the largest-selling Canadian whisky in the world. About all I will even consider drinking is champagne which means I have no idea what VO tastes like.

I was horrified to see the lettering on the bottle of whisky. Surely done many years ago.

The museum itself is worth a visit if already at the mall. I do not recommend going solely for that purpose. There is a lot of writing, which would have been fine if I was not so worn out. I would have preferred small cards be with the few artifacts in addition to the information on the walls. According to the website exhibits are changed regularly which would certainly entice me to go for another visit if in the area. I took the bus back.

It was not until the following day that I discovered there is an Earth Sciences Museum at the University of Waterloo that I had walked past on my way to the mall. Anyone up for dinosaurs? I arranged to go with my daughter later in the week. Meanwhile, I also found The Art District Gallery (free admission) that I planned to visit after another lunch concert.

Unfortunately my lack of photography skills caught up with me on this day. All I managed to salvage were photos of my travel companions eating plus one lovely piece of art I fell in love with. I am hoping my sensory memory will recall the beautiful voice of the soprano, Jennifer Carter, no need for a microphone for her! Her voice soared and surrounded the audience – it has been a long time since I have heard opera performed live, I had forgotten how much it can lift you. From the translations I took the theme to be about the various forms of love. Found, lost, spiritual, physical, waiting, remembrance. My body and soul needs were once more fed.

My daughter still needed lunch, I was tempted! Only had a very small bite.

Next stop was the Art District Gallery where a juried exhibit titled Solstice is on display until July 17th. The Gallery generally has art done by its members, and once a year invites other local artists to submit pieces. The gallery changes its exhibit every six weeks. My daughter and I spent a long time talking to the artist running things, I do hope we did not bore her! We had some common interests beyond art. I could not draw to save my life. As it turned out my favourite piece was done by her.

This was my favourite. I like the medium used as well as the cat in the tree!

While at the gallery we were told of two more. Kitchener has surprised me with just much talent is here! All in all a lovely, calm day made all the much better by spending the afternoon with my daughter. Next, DINOSAURS!

Expenses: Lunch at the church $8.00 Lost: the cord to my phone charger. I forgot to unplug it. Called, no sign of it. Fortunately I have another one and, considering one of my chargers is not working not a major issue. Just irritating.

Ontario visit: June 5 – getting caught in the rain

At the last minute I checked the weather forecast for the afternoon, grabbed my Mac in a Sac and headed out the door. I had three destinations. Via Rail to buy my ticket to Toronto for the following week; coffee; St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Although not initially a problem I realized I had forgotten to change into my sturdier shoes when I was more than a block from the house. I decided to forge ahead.

The Via station is a one person operation, I like the personal touch and it was important I have a manned station to use my e-vouchers. Sadly, the Kitchener Station will soon be fully impersonal. As it is the hours were cut. The clerk, perhaps they are still called stationmasters, he certainly was doing more than selling tickets – I did not think to ask, was very friendly and helpful. I used one of my $20.00 vouchers which meant I only had to pay the grand sum of $5.99! Onward to my second cup of coffee for the day.

A sign of visiting the same coffee shop too often is when the staff recall your order, and what you were doing the previous day. I had asked if my destination was easy to walk to despite the actual distance. My daughter called me so we had coffee together over the phone, then she ‘joined’ me while I walked to my final stop.

My knowledge of the bible is limited, however, I am pretty sure this depicts Moses receiving the Ten Commandments
I saw this window, and drew a complete blank. Aha! Joseph with Christ as a child.

Keeping in mind there are a lot of food items I am not supposed to eat (big grrrr) I had packed a salad although I was hoping to partake of the lunch. For the extravagant price of $8.00 I could have the full lunch: sandwich – thoughtfully pre-cut into triangles to allow diners a mixed choice – ‘pickles’ (or just the thin vegetable sticks); dessert & tea or coffee and of course the concert. everything served on proper plates and in mugs too. I rather liked the idea of ‘lunch and a show’. We were also encouraged to eat in the pews!

I tend to eat breakfast early, by the time I had my plate of food I was ravenous – there had been four sandwich triangles

What I had thought was an organ concert was actually a trumpet and organ – Piazzola, Pipes, Tangos & a Trumpet. If you can ever watch someone play the organ from behind do so – the solo organ, with fancy footwork, was amazing! I had no idea so much work was needed to play. Many cities these have summer noon concerts at churches that I highly suggest anyone try to attend. The music was fun, the audience appreciative, a lovely way to spend an hour.

The musicians were Debra Lacoste (trumpet) R; Ann-Marie McDairmid (organ) L. (Random audience member in centre)

They might have considered playing Copacabana (Barry Manilow) rather than Tico Tico (Zequinha de Abreu) as played in Copacabana the movie, with Carmen Miranda, to warn us of the weather outside! I am not a music aficionado, I just happen to know the Barry Manilow song and the movie!

I opened the door then rapidly closed it. Time to don my raincoat. Not that it helped much. It was a downpour. I most certainly did not like getting in the rain. Especially with significant changes to the transit system. Two stops were closed due to construction. By the time I sloshed onto a bus, and got back to the house I was soaking wet. My feet were still chilled two hours later.

I was quite shocked I spent so much money in one day! However, as with the previous day I do feel that the cost of lunch most likely went to something along the lines of a good cause.

Expenses: $5.99 one way Via Rail ticket Kitchener to Toronto; $14.10 drugstore (items needed); $8.00 lunch