Thursday, August 31, 2023

Gratitude #76

Since taking the month of July off, it's gotten a lot harder to make myself write a post. I've been sewing a little bit, but not much really and not anything so far I can show. I've still kept track of things I like, and things that make me full of gratitude. If you would like to write your own post, or read more of these uplifting posts, pop over to LeeAnna's blog Not Afraid of Color.

1. I'm grateful for trees. I've been a tree lover pretty much all my life, but a trip to Tofino, Vancouver Island in 1994 took my love to a profound level, one of awe and respect. I read Greenwood by Michael Christie, in July, one of the Canada Reads books, and what a book. Highly recommend. It sent me to the internet again and again, looking up various ancient trees of the Douglas fir variety for one. I found Lonely Doug, which you can read about and see in this brief article and also this short article. Tell me if you don't feel a deep sadness when you see this massive sentinel. And once again synchronicity strikes: a few days after learning and reading about him, this article,  BC big tree hunter documents grandest old-growth tree he's ever seen, showed up on my CBC homepage. It is worth a quick click on that link to view this indescribably humongous Western red cedar somewhere on Flores Island in Clayoquot Sound. The photos are locked.
Point Pelee National Park near me

Fir tree and Sky by Emily Carr in 1935-36

This painting hangs in the  National Gallery of Canada  which we recently visited on our trip to Ottawa.

2. I'm always so grateful for books, as you know. I read nine books this summer, several of which were terrific reads. I am currently enjoying my U of Alberta alumni book club's book, No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod, who I've just learned taught for many years at the U of Windsor, and lived in Windsor. The book opens with him talking about the tomato fields in Leamington along highway #3, which is my neighbour town! I just finished The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow, an excellent read. Ducks, Two Years in the Oil Sands, was a tough, eye-opening read, and I can see why it won Canada Reads, though I personally preferred Greenwood. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was another excellent read, as was Goodbye for Now.

I had to put State of Terror aside to keep on track with my book club book

3. I like this battery-powered light I bought at a local florist. I’ve used it twice during bad storms when the power was out for several hours.

4. I love outdoor live music, and being outdoors to hear it is even better,. I am especially grateful that I live so close to, a mere 8 km, this beautiful amphitheatre in such an incredible setting at Seacliff Beach in Leamington. 

We caught a couple of concerts this summer: Natalie McMaster and husband, Dan Leahy, and their entire family of seven kids, so very talented! We also saw part of (had to cancel part way due to a thunderstorm) Classic Albums Live, who this year did Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Anybody in southwestern Ontario who gets a chance to see this group, do it! They are very, very good. Since I found that link, I learned that they have performed all over North America! Check out the albums they have performed too😳

5. I loved having Brady here with us again this summer. This year it was 2.5 weeks and we started off by taking him to Ottawa and Montréal. Due to Covid, he never did get his grade 6 Quebec trip. Because I ran several trips to Quebec with my grade nines when I was teaching, I figured that it wouldn’t be too hard to take him there ourselves! Next time we will start in Montreal, so that we have more time there and spend a couple days in Quebec city as well. we managed to do quite a lot in the four and a half days that we had, two of which were a lot of driving!

Parliament Buildings of Canada (under major renovations)
Brady is standing in front of the Centennial Flame

Something I just learned when I looked up the flame, is that it was first lit in 1967, to celebrate Canada's 100th anniversary of Confederation. In 2021, it was switched from natural gas to biogas, and the fountain never freezes now in winter. The money people toss into it is given to people with disabilities, "some of whom have received over $5000." (Wikipedia) I looked into this a little further, and the money is for conduct research and prepare a report on the contributions of one or more Canadians with disabilities to the public life of Canada or the activities of Parliament." (Touristlink)

6. The intricately beaded coat below captured both Brady's attention and mine. This was during our visit to the National Gallery of Canada which is free between 7 and 9 pm on Thursday evenings. I like that, and we took advantage of it!

7. I was so impressed with our Ioniq 5 and, for the most part, the infrastructure throughout our travels, especially in Québec. Electrify Canada is the most reliable, and from time to time we get a freebie. Here was one of them, which I posted on Instagram, thanked them, and they responded! Yes we stopped a little more often than with an ICE vehicle, but 15-25 minutes was time enough to visit the bathroom, stretch our legs, maybe grab a drink or a snack, or chat with other EV owners. 

You can see this charge will take just 16 minutes total

Quebec is lights-out with their charging stations: downtown they were ubiquitous. Charging stations were on the sidewalks much like parking metres, so you park, plug in, and go run your errands while your car charges. Canadian Tire stores in Ontario seem to be on the ball with having good reliable chargers, Electrify Canada and/or flo. 132 kW is decent charging power, but 350 kW, as some are supposed to be, would cut your charging time from 25 minutes to maybe 10. So that is where we need to improve. I've been thinking for some time now of doing a brief blog post once a week telling one or two facts from my own experience of owning and driving an EV, just to help dispel some of the mis- and disinformation out there. What do you think of that idea? I'm not a gearhead, so it would be from a female owner perspective and experience! 

8. Montréal is a forward-thinking European-style city. You can take le métro from the suburbs right downtown, come up out of the abyss lol and in front of the exit, rent un vélo and pedal off into the downtown core wherever you need to go.

There are modern aspects as above, interspersed with ancient cobblestoned narrow streets.

Brady took the photos above and below. He was pretty impressed with the history all around him.

Although I've been several times, the Biodôme never fails to impress. Inside the former velodrome, which was constructed for the 1976 Olympics, are four huge biospheres you walk through, complete with flora and fauna from the specific eco-system. This stopped me in my tracks at the very end.

9. I loved that I got to speak French quite often, in both cities, and that Brady had opportunitie as well. He was in French immersion up until the beginning of grade 8.

10. I loved being visited by a beautiful monarch the other day in my back yard.
She flitted amongst the zinnias for some time. Magical. 

11. One last quick addition: we really enjoyed Muster Dogs on Netflix. Brady watched the final episode with us and really liked it too. Then he got us into Queer Eye, the new ones on Netflix. We loved the first seasons back in the early 2000s, and hadn't been bothered to watch these, but Brady got us started, and so we'll finish them once MacGyver is back from Alberta. He flew home with Brady and is out there for ten days. (I like alone time😉 ).

Okay, c'est tout; je m'en vais! À la prochaine!


  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time with Brady in Montreal and Ottawa.

  2. Look at Brady - so grown up! I've lost track of how old he is. Your trip sounds wonderful, and I just read aloud your paragraphs about charging your EV to my husband. What an idea - charging stations on the curb in place of parking meters. We would like an electric car, but the charging infrastructure in the US needs to be much better. Always interesting to see what you've been reading, too! I loved Station 11, and the rest I'll put on my library list!

  3. l have missed your columns but seeing as you have been spending time with that special guy, Brady, I understand perfectly. He is so TALL!! I can't remember how old he is or what grade he's in. I love all the pictures of your trip and am jealous of the EV charging infrastructure in Canada. I'm still not sure that exchange gas fired engines for electric is any better on the environment. After all the electricity has to come from somewhere. I love your book selections and will have to check them out.

  4. I love that you had such a nice time with Brady and I love when you do have the time to post; it's always so nice to catch up on what you are doing and enjoying! :)

  5. Did you see me waving as you drove by? Glad you enjoyed some time in Eastern Ontario.

  6. Nice to see you today Sandra. Lovely gratitude post, as ever.

  7. Hi Sandra! Your stack of books gave me pause, just seeing the title "Goodbye For Now." That was my mom's saying and I've found myself saying it more and more frequently lately. You just never know when it might be the last time to say goodbye. Look how tall B is getting!!! How fabulous that you got to spend time with your boy. That just makes my heart happy. I just love, love, LOVE the idea of hearing about your EV experience. I have been a big fan for years - 11 years of driving past a Tesla store twice a day, I pledged my next car was totally EV. My issue is the lack of charging stations. We do not have a single one where I live. Hicksville, I guess. Of course, I would easily charge at home but what if I, gasp, wanted to travel somewhere overnight? Anyway, I would be please to read anything you write about the topic! Okay, carry on. I hope you're enjoying your alone time, and the Lake. {{Hugs}} a bunch! ~smile~ Roseanne

  8. oh my word! so much goodness. Isn't Brady tall!!! Loved all of it, LeeAnna

  9. Oh, such a lovely post. What fun you had with Brady! It is such a joy to see them grow up and become interested in new things. I enjoy hearing about your EV experiences, so keep writing. I am in the market for a new car, but neither of our garages have one, so I may need to stick with a hybrid or wait just a little longer. Me time is nice...I have a velcro husband.

  10. Such an interesting blog post! You have shared lots of things that are new to me, as I have never been to Canada. How fun to get to speak French! I studied that in high school (back in the early 70s!), and attended a four week French immersion school one summer, in Maine. I'm certainly not fluent, but I love the beauty of the language. You've read some interesting books there too, none of which I've ever heard of, let alone read. I'd say you had a full summer, and I'm sure autumn will offer you a similar variety of activites.

  11. An interesting post Sandra but the first thing that struck me is how much Brady has grown - he seems to really dwarf you now! It looks like you have had a busy summer, how wonderful that you could give Brady some new experiences. I love seeing those huge old trees - plus all the other interesting places you've seen on your travels.