Nature Photo Challenge: Patterns

Here a few patterns from my portfolio for the nature photo challenge. The bigger challenge was using my iPad to import the photos.

Norovirus. Not to be dismissed quickly

I recently came down with a bug 🐜 of some kind. It might have been food poisoning or it might have been norvovirus. It’s the first time I have been sick since 2018 and it’s the first time I have had a stomach bug since living in North Africa in 1975. So it took me…

Volunteering- Be very careful about what you choose.

I’ve had quite a few volunteer experiences since I retired in 2017 and I am here to report on them all. I did a post on volunteering when I first retired. Nothing like real life experience to see how things work.  Baby boomers are not your grandparents volunteers who beavered away at rummage sales and…

Going back in time.. to the 1500’s …

Reviews of ancestry and DNA websites. My initial curiosity in ancestry was tweaked by a search for a great grandparent who was a notable person in New Brunswick, according to stories from my family. I then discovered a family tree in Geneanet that detailed some of my ancestor’s life. From there, I become curious about…

Cook books reviewed by bloggers

New publications serve up classics and more, with flair! I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who loves to read a cookbook from cover… Constantly Cooking’s 2022 cookbook gift guide Another bloggers pick: The cookbook of the month club. Recipes tested by friends: A review of Mediterranean cookbooks:…

The Challenges and Opportunities of 2022

It seems like the year has Zoomed by, and I mean that literally and figuratively. I just Zoomed off a French language meet-up as I couldn’t understand.  But I have been able to understand the DuoLingo conversation groups I have been attending every Wed for the past year and half and I have met many…

Books We Love : NPR

Here are 400+ great reads from 2022 handpicked just for you by NPR staff and trusted critics. — Read on This book list has the ability to open a link to your local library and you can borrow or put a book on hold including Ebooks. Or there are links to AMAZON. This is…

White from coast to coast.

White is the theme for this weeks #Sundaystills so I am taking you on a cross-Canada virtual tour strarting in Saint John NB. White is an easy pick in Canada because we have winter which lends itself to lots of pictures of ice and snow. So let’s begin. One of the iconic images of Canada is the backyard ice rink. This one was beside my brother’s house in Saint John NB, as is the house across the street, decorated for Xmas.

Moving west, the next stop is Ottawa in winter and spring. The Rideau River runs through Ottawa and freezes over in the winter. Skating on the river is a popular winter activity. The city hosts WinterFest which includes a bed race on the frozen river, ice sculptures and some unusual creatures. Ottawa is well known for its tulip festival in May/June.


Our next stop is Niagara Falls. What could be whiter? Along with a stop at Niagara Falls I went to wedding at a winery. Nothing says white like a wedding, right?

Moving across the country, the next selection are natural history photos on the west coast. Vancouver is well known for its early flowering cherry trees, magnolias and rhododendroms and is well worth a trip in April/May. 

White is a common colour on water birds. A close look reveals a wide range of patterns in nature.  Trumper Swan, common merganser and widgeon wings, all in the Courtenay BC area. 

The paths I’ve travelled. City sidewalks

#Sunday stills

Terry Webster Schradt posts a weekly photo challenge and what better way to fill up guarantine time than culling pictures on your computer. I figure this will be a weeks worth of work.

So here are photos of some of the paths I’ve taken. I am an avid walker and have taken lots of pictures along the way. Let’s start out in Mexico. You never know what you will encounter on the sidewalks of Mexico but it is sure to be colourlful.

The sidewalks in Toronto are a little European in flavour and you also may be suprised by encountering sculpture or weddings!!!

Moving on to Ottawa, the seasonal colours are one of the distinctive features of the landscapes. There is a unique walk around the parliament buildings that few people take.

Vancouver sidwalks are often wet, but if you look carefully you will find little and big surprises.

Transitioning Back to Vancouver

Home # 1 and # 3

Home # 2

Home # 4

I have been surprised at how busy and crowded everything is in Vancouver. The bus is crowded at all hours of the day. My friend tells me the skytrain is even worse. The busses are full of people with strollers and walkers.   No one offers me seat. It’s challenging jumping off the door at the back of the bus. And the traffic is so slow everywhere. It makes more sense to walk down to Cambie and Broadway than take the bus or car. All the cafes and restaurants are full at all hours of the day.  Even the yoga classes are full in the middle of the day.  But enough whining.   I am in my warm and cosy condo after a year and a half of being a nomad on Hornby Island. I moved house there about 10 times. That just got to be too much. Hornby Island is under a lot of rules and regulations and that limit year around rentals by the Islands Trust.   There are some people who ignore the rules and there are some who don’t. Finding a long term rental has been challenging although I was just offered a short term cat sit recently. However my experience last year of 6 weeks of fleas put me off any future cat sitting.   I miss the social connections I made on Hornby. It is so cool to go out everywhere and have people speak to you even if they don’t know you. I am sorry I stayed in Vancouver so long.

artist Maryann Beckwith, Saint John NB

Peaking behind the Bamboo curtain.

Since I came back to Vancouver, I have shifted my teaching English from on line to in person. I have had the opportunity to meet more Chinese students in person. The students are very picky about their tutors so maybe I will have better luck next year.

I had some awesome adventures last year meeting 7 blogging friends from all over Canada and the US in person in Parksville.

I attempted to sell my condo in Vancouver and learned more lessons about real estate in Vancouver.

  1. Do not throw money at the problem.
  2. Do your research about real estate agents
  3. Wait until prices rebound or drop the price.
  4. Buyers are picky these days. No one likes a port-a-potty in the neighbour’s back yard.
  5. There are an increasing number of rules, regulations, licences and fines about rentals at all levels. Which I discovered when the City fined me $ 1000 for not having a business licence to rent out my condo for 4 weeks.

I’ve had time to do some painting and drawing on Hornby and have had my work in a couple of shows which has been fun. I have been inspired by the landscapes and beach combing on Hornby.   I appreciate the feedback from friends and strangers who have enjoyed the photos and commentaries on my blog.

I hope 2020 will be more smooth sailing for everyone especially for my friends sailing around the world. As the Queen says.. “ It was a bumpy year”.

Ebike reviews and vendors v2

E-bikes are complex topic due to the multiple technical specifications and types of e-bikes.   The short story is to read the research before shopping.   I have listed a couple of sites that have reviews with or without rating by users. Once you see the best bikes, you can narrow it down by price, size, features and location, although some vendors sell online only. Check for dates of reviews as this area is rapidly evolving and there have been some casualties. Make sure the vendor is still in business. Prices range from about $1800 to $10,000. With so many models there will probably be a few that will not survive. Just because the bike has a review doesn’t mean it’s the best.

Here is a link to a sizing diagram to help with picking the right size.

Here is a link to a custom fitting service in Vancouver

Types of Ebikes from Montague

Class 1: Pedal Assist / Pedelec

The most common type of electric bike is the pedal assist or pedelec. The rider pedals the bike normally while a motor provides assistance, increasing the power transmitted to the rear wheel. The pedaling takes far less effort than it normally would, even in high gears, which allows for higher speeds and effortless climbing over steep hills. Settings can control the amount of assistance the rider desires but to be considered a Class 1 e-bike in most of Europe, the system cannot provide assistance over 25 kilometers per hour (kph) or approximately 15 miles per hour. In the US this class is limited to approximately 32 kph or 20 mph. A class 1 designation allows these bike to be used on most roads and paths where normal bikes are allowed and do not require any additional licensing.

Class 2: Throttle

Much like a motorcycle or scooter, a throttle operated e-bike propels the bike forward without any additional pedaling from the rider. Most can provide a variable amount of power depending how far the throttle is pushed. These are much less common than their pedal assist counterparts as many countries have laws that prohibit them entirely. The European Union requires an e-bike only provide power while the pedals are moving forward, so throttle e-bike are most common in the United States and China where little legislation exists to limit their use. Common

Class 3: Speed Pedelec

The design of a speed pedelec is similar to a standard pedelec but as the name implies, they allow for a higher top speed of 45 kph or approximately 28 mph . In many areas this class of e-bike is considered a motor vehicle requires its riders to be licensed.

Bikes also vary by placement of battery and type of battery and the length of time you can ride on the battery.

Review sites

I found 4 sites that review or ranks models of ebikes. The first two EBR and Momentum Mag appear to be paid for reviews. A bike vendor Cityebikes has made recommendations on the models it stocks.   Finally there is the Amazon customer rating. I found some of the Cityebikes site rates of the highly rated models in the EBR site so there is some congruence in the ratings.

  1. EBR   The reviewer charges a universal service fee for reviews. The reviews are quite detailed and you can compare models. Another useful feature of the website are videos of people taking the bikes out of a test drive and then going over the bike features in a video.

The top reviewed bikes on this site available locally or online

Step through or low bar.

City Bikes for pavement

  • Rad Power Bikes RadCity Step-Thru see above
  • Rad Power Bikes Rad City Review $ 1499 US. However these bikes are in short supply.

Mountain or Trail bikes

Citecycles recommended

Step through Turbo-Como-3.0-650 $3799 CDN
Step through Turbo-Como-4-0-650b-Low-Entry $4399 CDN
Step through Turbo-Como-5.6-650b-Low-Entry- $5149 CDN
Step through/trail MOUSTACHE–Samedi-27-Open-Xroad 1 $ 3788 CDN
Step through/trail MOUSTACHE–Samedi-27-Open-Xroad 5 $ 5039 CDN

Momentum Mag E Bike reviews

Momentum Mag does not rank bikes, but the reviews do list the pros and cons of each model and it seems like reviewers have test driven the models. The reviews are helpful and informative. There are a few bikes reviewed that are available locally. These bikes did not get into the EBR site reviews. The products appear to be made locally.

Amazon highest customer ranking

sixthreezero EVRYjourney Women’s Step-Through Hybrid Cruiser Bicycle (24-Inch and 26-Inch) $ 3308 CDN

DJ Fat Bike $ 1899 CDN

DJ Mountain Bike $ 1899 CDN

Finally reviews for 2019 from Bicycling Magazine. 

The reviews are good but many of the bikes were not on Canadian websites. There was a list of bikes under $ 1000 US and a list of bikes for women.

Selected Vendors who have some bikes in the reviews and some bikes not reviewed. 

Canadian Tire and Walmart have the cheapest ebikes.

brand vendor   website
E prodigy Brentwood cycle Burnaby
TREK Trail bicycles Courtenay
Benno, Giant, Devinci, liv, yuba Mountain City Cycle Courtenay
Hyper Electric, T zone, Daymak Walmart everywhere
Junction Canadian Tire everywhere
Raleigh, Bulls, Moustache. Reise & Muller+ others Citrus Cycles  Ladysmith
Benno, EVO, Coal City Cycles Nanaimo,V9S 1H1
benno. OHM OHM Cycles North Vancouver,V7P 3S7  OHM
Surface 604  online  online
Urban cruzer COSTCO online
Voltbike  online online
BC EBIKE  online  online
EVO no list of vendors on site online
Giant  online online
Montague reckless Vancouver
benno, E prodigy reckless Vancouver
TREK. Elektra Bicycle Store Pacific  Vancouver
RADpowerbikes RADpowerbikes Vancouver, BC V5R 1W6
Turbo-como, CUBE, MOUSTACHE, BENNO, RALEIGH. Surface 640, Bull + OTHERS Cit-E-Cycles Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Victoria
Opus, elecktra, yuba, Raleigh, Evo FAIRFIELD BICYCLE SHOP LTD VICTORIA, BC, V8V 4N1
Benno, Electra, Marin, Evo Coastal Cycle & H20 Sports Victoria,V9B 1H8

And an online vendor with a variety of brands from $ 1000 that ships free world wide.  They have an impressive selection of inexpensive folding bikes.

Vancouver Chronicles

It’s good to spend some time in the city to see the both advantages and disadvantages of life on Hornby. I feel like I have come back into civilization. I stayed at the Ponderosa suites at UBC which was a great choice. The suites are brand new, with cable tv and free fast Wi-Fi access…. which is so much better than Hornby. Prices ranges from $186-$197 per night and parking for 7 days is $55 for a total of $ 843 for a 4 day stay. The suites are a 10 min walk to the Museum of Anthropology, the Chan Center and 2 art galleries. There are restaurants and Starbucks within a 10 min walk. The parkade is across the street. This building is not airconditioned, but it does have windows that open and a fan. If I was coming in the summer I would pick the other building that is airconditioned but a little more expensive.

UBC has been undergoing a lot of development over the past few years and now has a community village with lots of brand-new rental housing built and under construction, surrounding a small village style shopping area including one supermarket that was quite crowded last night. I kept bumping into people. The aisles are narrower than usual. UBC also has a brand new aquatic and fitness center with a daily pass available for $12. There are bikes to rent/share all around the campus and it is easy cycling. There is also a community center with language classes, music lessons, yoga etc. There is a puppetry exhibit at the MOA what I would love to see on behalf of my puppeteer friend on Hornby. The Georgia Strait is the best site to find out what is going on in Vancouver.

I was stuck that everything is paved and handicapped accessible compared to Hornby. If one was to live in Vancouver, UBC might be an option if you don’t care about spending time downtown.. and who does? UBC is a pretty self-contained neighbourhood. There are buses to the rest of Vancouver but not an express bus. It’s a long bus trip downtown. The skytrain cannot be built soon enough. All that student time spent on buses!!!! The nearest gas station is a few miles away. There are not many older people in the UBC neighbourhood. Everyone is young and fit. The UBC hospital has an urgent care center open 7 days a week from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm.

I was struck by how much foot and bike traffic there is everywhere. You have to drive slowly and pay attention to cyclists and pedestrians everywhere. There have been a lot of changes in the lane markings, including bike lanes. It was a bit confusing finding the correct lanes… got honked at a few times! Download the Honk app for parking at UBC and Pay-by-Phone for city parking.

The thing that blew me away was the new Polygon high rise development called Cedar just outside of the UBC gates. Construction does not appear to have started but it looked like the site will be huge judging from the signs around the site. A one bedroom homes starts at $778,800. Two bedroom residences are priced from $938,800. The pictures suggest about 15 floors. It almost looks like a site for a whole new village.

I had a new adventure by attending my first rock concert. The line-up at BC Place for the Paul McCartney concert was like a tsunami but it moved quickly. I found the acoustics were pretty bad and the strobe lights prompted me to put on my sunglasses which helped. I guess it’s not about the quality of the music. I wish I had seen the Beatles in a low tech venue. The food choices at BC Place are terrible…burgers, fries, deep fried chicken and beer. I opted for the chicken but I should have opted for the beer. There was a constant flow of people in and out of seats during the concert as people either needed to tank up on beer or relieve the beer flow. The bus on the way home had a party atmosphere as everyone on the bus had been drinking and kept urging the bus driver to load more people!!!

celebrity spotting!

Winter sunset over the empty marina beside my townhouse @ Lake Ontario

Of all places.. Canadian Tire. I had to make the run to Canadian Tire today to get a ladder. I am all loaded up with ladder and a bike trainer in my shopping cart and who do I see but the Designer guys, Chris and Steve who have show on CBC and HGTV. It certainly reminded me I am at the media center of Canada. There are serveral large film studios close to the Canadian Tire location. Earlier in the month I saw the broadcast of e-talk Canada with Ben Mulroony which broadcasts from a street front location so passers by can see the show as it is being broadcast.

I missed the Olympic flame visit as I had to make another visit to Services Ontario to get my vehicle licenced. It was an emotional moment as I screwed the Ontario plates on my jeep. ;-(((

My work place is undergoing more changes. I work with a team of 4 people, one is leaving this week, and one may be leaving in Feb as her contract is not being renewed. There is at least one farewell lunch a week, with people having babies, going back to school or other opportunities. There is a wave going through the health care system to cut back on contract positions due to the e-health ontario business. Every day a new ‘problem’ pops that that was unforeen but none that I can’t handle. There are some big differences between the health care system in Ontario and BC around how services are organized and I think I would prefer to be in BC if I needed home and community care. Services in BC are under the direct managment of the health authority and this makes it easier to switch patients between one service and another.

one of many festive planters in front of high rise buildings

I am heading to New Brunswick for Christmas to spend time with my brother and sister-in-law in Saint John. I haven’t spent Christmas there for many years so it is a flashback to childhood.

For all my Investool friends.. I now understand why the people on BNN keep flogging Shopper Drugs. There is a store on every corner in Toronto but no London Drugs. I really miss London Drugs. I also see why they keep flogging Loblaws as they are huge here. Rogers is also the major provider of internet and cell phone services and they have a store across from every Shopper Drug. Service is terrible though. On a scale of 1-10 they are about a 5. Timothys is the upscale coffee of choice. It’s better than Starbucks who are just not on the map here. All the big banks have huge flagship buildings here. The longest lineups are at the dollar stores.

Fashion wise, baggy pants with crotchs at the knees, hoodies and sideways baseball caps are the uniform of the moment. My personal style is now a choice between my white or brown down coat.

I wish all my friends best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.

Winter sunset

I’ve been here for almost 3 months now.  I am finding my way around a little better.  I am have a few small successes at work. If only they knew what success was.  If only I knew??

I have been grateful that the weather has been mild to cool so far and I am enjoying the almost daily sunshine. 

There are lots of things that surprise me about Toronto.  The garbage on the streets are night.. there is a resident mouse in the office where I work that chewed through an apple I left in my drawer.   All the office buildings and condos have planters in front of them with elaborate Christmas arrangements of bows, boughs, dried flowers, berries or Christmas bulbs.  It’s feeling very Christmasy here. 

I went to see a condo for sale today but there are still bidding wars going on the force up the prices beyond the ‘comparables’.  I am just curious to see what’s on the market.  I might buy something later on.  I am still checking out neighbourhoods. Living downtown is ok.  Traffic is pretty slow and all the streets are one way.  Biking may be a better option in the summer.