Halloween pumpkins


Cat pumpkins!

These are just small pie pumpkins that I bought at the grocery store.


Contra dancing, December 27

I took Andie to contra dancing at St. Barnabas, where we met Ian and Erin. The band was from Michigan and it was quite good. Andie danced the last dance, among others, with her father. As usual, she was the best dancer among us. I stuck to the male position as it’s confusing to keep switching and there’s always a shortage of men at the dances.

Erin was quite shy about dancing, but we eventually got her up and going. I think she enjoyed it.

I took some fairly good pictures and even a couple of videos. Unfortunately I lost them while transferring them to the computer.

Oh, yes—the Toronto Country Dancers have a new sound-mixing control panel. It looks something like the one below (minus cat).

funny pictures of cats with captions
more funny cats

Orillia Kids of Steel triathlon

We’re back from Andie’s first triathlon, a Kids of Steel tri in Orillia, Ontario. The swim was in Lake Couchiching, but in a very controlled area: a shallow beach with the course marked by buoys. No leg of the swim was more than 50 metres long, so for the 300 metre swim the older kids did 25 out, 50 across, and 25 in, with a 50-metre run to the start of the next round, for three rounds. Andie started at the back and was kicked a little by slower swimmers as she tried to poke by, so she hung back. She takes weekly lessons at the Bronze Star level and has a strong front crawl with a tendency to lift her head up to breathe.

Then it was off to the bike ride, a 5-km out-and-back that the older kids did twice.

And then there was a 3-km run, also made up of loops and partly on city bike trails. Here she is with a respectable sprint finish.

The day was much longer than we expected. We arrived about 2.5 hours early for the scheduled start, which gave plenty of time to line up for race kits, get numbered, and put Andie’s things into the transition zone. Then we found out that the only people starting then were those aged four or five years. The kids went off in waves and Andie’s group was more than two hours later than we expected. Then they sent out three age groups together so there was a big age range, 12 – 17, and a big difference in sizes.

A suggestion for next year was to let the later kids register and set up later–but I’m not sure how that would work, logistically. Still, Andie had a respectable swim, bike, run and I think she enjoyed the accomplishment.

Barn dance in Guelph

Yesterday, for a treat, I took Andie to Guelph for a barn dance. At 17:30, I got ready and picked up my son, then drove to Hamilton and picked up Andie from her mother, and then we went on to Guelph. We found the church, which was a fine old limestone structure, paid our fees, and went in.

The evening started with barn dances, then a contra dance, then reels, and a couple of waltzes. It was a lot of fun but hot. The band was Relative Harmony and the caller was Judy Greenhill. Rick, who is in the band, and Judy have moved from Toronto to Guelph.

Relative Harmony plays a wide variety of folk music. For contra dances, it has a Celtic flavour.

Relative Harmony is an acoustic trio comprised of Rick Avery (voice, keyboards and guitar); Judy Greenhill (voice), our son Jonathan Avery (violin and percussion); and on occasion, our daughter Katie Avery (violin). We perform a wide variety of British and North American folk music.

At the end of the evening, I retraced the route to Hamilton and then Toronto.

Bike ride, June 15

It was thundery in Toronto; in fact a bolt of lightning sizzled, spit, and cracked over my head this afternoon. But in Hamilton it was warm and fine.

I picked up Andie in the afternoon and we went to the Hamilton lakeshore trail. We biked from the 600-m mark to the end, up around 8 km, and a bit beyond.h When we looked back, we could see the big bridge where we’d started. The weather was glorious. We saw lots of red-winged blackbirds. Many of them seemed to be trying to perch on tufts of goldenrod. I wonder if they are staking out nesting sites for the second brood of the season. And we passed a turtle crossing the path, so I had to go back and take another look. It seemed to be heading for a swampy area that might not always be wet. Did it go down to the lake to lay eggs? Or was it just out for a stroll along with the cyclists, roller-bladers, walkers, and wheel-chair rollers?

Just after we turned around to come back the wind changed and rain threatened. We booted it back fairly quickly. We stowed the bikes in the van and went for a burger and milkshakes and some delicious, soggy french fries.

After our supper we walked back to the van. And we saw the biggest dog… it was an English Mastiff that weighed 250 pounds. According to its owner, it’s unusually small for the breed. I asked Andie to stand with the dog for scale.

English Mastiff

Perhaps you need more than one picture to see how big this dog is. Here he is with his owner.

dog, mastiff, with owner

The dog was well behaved, but when he decided to go somewhere he was hard to hold.


The man himself was fairly tall. His companion, in the background, was dwarfed by the mastiff.

Here is the dog with Andie again.


Here’s a link to a picture of a large mastiff. Just scroll down until you come to it.

Notice that this multi-use path is wide enough to be shared. It’s about twice as wide as the paths in Toronto. People could walk four abreast and we could still get around them on the path.

Bike ride, May 24

It’s Victoria Day and a Saturday and the weather is beautiful. I went out with LotStreetWiz, who was doing a short, medium effort run as part of his Ironman training program. We drove to the Don Valley and took to the multi-use paths along the Don River. This is only the second time I’ve ridden my new bike. It’s as light as a feather compared to my old Trek, which I’ve been using for most of the last ten or fifteen years both for commuting and occasional pleasure rides.

There were lots of families cycling and walking, plus a few runners. We didn’t go very far, and it was hard at first to keep the bike down to running warm-up pace. Then we decided to cut short the run and we rested at the Forks of the Don, where the east and west branches come together.

I pulled up some dog-strangling vine, an invasive weed that has invaded the valley in the last few years. Across the river from us was the wreckage of a wood & iron bridge carried downstream in the spring floods a couple of years ago.

Don Valley, Toronto, sunny day, wreckage of old bridge

The point on the right is between the two branches.

Forks of the Don

Beyond the point, you can see the west branch of the river fading into shadow.

other branch of river beyond shore of this branch

Just upstream is the confluence of the east branch with Massey Creek. Here and there in the valley, a pink-flowered bush is blooming.

Pink blossoms on a bush, Southern Ontario

I biked a little further. I looked at the giant “elevated swamp” sculpture with its solar-powered waterfall, from the old Don Road bridge.

Art project eco-swamp in Toronto\'s Don Valley

Here’s the old Don Road bridge.

Don Road Bridge in Don Valley, Toronto, with sun shining through

Here’s a view through the columns to the railing of the old bridge over the east branch… [My God! That’s why they call creeks “branches” in the States and you can get “bourbon & branch water” to drink! Or is it “runs”?]

Old bridge over Don River in Toronto

The sparkling water of the east branch goes under the old Don Road bridge. Here’s a look through the fence.

Here’s a look over the fence.

Don River in sunlight

This is my bike on the other side of the bridge.

Old Don Road bridge, with bicycle

Beyond the bridge is the Don Valley Parkway with a smattering of Saturday-afternoon traffic.

When I got back to LotStreetWiz, he told me that he’d seen a handsome black-crowned night heron at a shallow spot further up the river. I went back and checked a couple of gravel-bars, but I didn’t see it. Then I powered back to the car.

birds, black-crowned night heron, perching

Serious fun: Contra dance spring weekend

The Contra Dance spring weekend is almost here! Visit TCdance.org for details.

Location: Eastminster United Church, 310 Danforth Avenue
Dates: 2008 April 11 19:30 – April 15 16:30