Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Heat Wave in Ontario, Snow in NSW, Australia

My friend Megan, who lives in the lovely village/town/hamlet of Crookwell, New South Wales, where it's the dead of winter, is currently visiting Ontario, where it's the dead of summer, so to speak.

Her hubby sent this link to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald to show her what she's missing: Snow! (Here's Canada Snow that she left!)

But after enduring and worrying about drought for some seasons now, heavy rain is more 'welcome' than not, and should go a long way towards filling up a few cisterns in the area.

The photo below shows Megan's Studio, on their farm, near Crookwell. You can see how arid the land usually is. When I first visited, I arrived after dark, and my first proper view was the following morning, around 6 a.m. The views from the porch over the rolling hills and valleys made me think I was somehow in Africa. In the distance, sheep moving in the pre-dawn light added to the magical 'wild kingdom' feeling.

Megan is an artist, and one of her talents is with textiles -- wool, mohair, silk and much else -- which she knits or weaves into wonderful garments. On her last visit to Canada, she had just begun knitting a wedding gown with full floor-length skirt from the finest alpaca. She has been known to raise her own goats,sheep,alpaca, etc, then shear them, clean, spin and dye the wool (in natural dyes she makes from barks and leaves and stuff), then knit, crochet and weave a garment she has designed herself. It's a wonder she hasn't started raising silk worms, though I suppose it's just a matter of time. I am in awe!

Her current foray into wearable art are her detachable collars made from wool and / or mohair, like this one below:

. . . And this one, in mohair, dyed midnight blue:
Seeing these photos reminds me I should get scanning my own photos of this area. After I put these photos of Australia on my site, I got busy with other things, and it slipped from mind. This summer for sure!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

End of the Waterfront Festival, Picnic, Fireworks, and Dynamite End to Powerhouse

Update: for 2008 Canada Day fireworks see this blog post
Crowds are heading home after the 2007 Mississauga Waterfront Festival. The tall building to the right in the photo below is the Waterside Inn.

The pedestrian walkway parallels Lakeshore Road West as it crosses the Credit River. I clicked this photo from the second level of the lighthouse, looking east towards Toronto.

From the same vantage point, but looking towards the northeast over Lakeshore Road and the river, you can see the festival tents and booths in Port Credit Memorial Park.

Incidentally, CTV will be doing a live broadcast from this area on Friday from 11:30-1:30 p.m. for the community picnic. Think I'll wander over then and see what's up. Or maybe on Sunday night, when there's to be a huge fireworks show after dark, same spot.

The on-again, off-again demolition of the nearby Lakeview Generating Station powerhouse is set for first thing tomorrow(Wednesday) morning, winds permitting. If it's not too hot, I might pop over and watch something big being blown up.

Last night, as I was walking back to my car with a bagload of groceries, I could see a forest of masts rising a block away. I thought to myself, 'Anyplace where I can see ships from the supermarket parking lot is a good place to be!"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mississauga Wildlife :: A Walk in the Park

When you live in Port Credit, there's less of an urge to head north to cottage country to experience the natural life. Just west of where the Credit River enters Lake Ontario, there are lots of parks and natural areas that are host to a variety of wildlife, some benign, and some, such as the coyotes in the area (sign, photo below), with a caution.

On the Waterfront Trail, just as it enters Saddrington Park, I heard a crackling sound in the underbrush that fills much of the lands owned by Imperial Oil. This large green space is totally fenced, with a barbed wire top, and many signs telling us to stay out. (It was here that I saw a coyote loping along the other evening.) I stood still, looked for the source of the noise, and saw this deer. It was only about 10 feet from the trail, but on the other side of the fence (center, photo below).

Here's a close up. You can see how serious this fence is. I was the only one on the trail at the time, but other walkers came along. We watched the deer make several fruitless attempts to find an opening in the fence before it headed out of sight, into the center of the green space.

Over by the Port Credit lighthouse, just under the bridge that crosses Lakeshore Road, passersby stopped to watch these nesting swans.

Here's a shot of the Toronto skyline. The CN Tower, just to the right of the rusting tanker, makes a good reference point to give some idea of the distance from Mississauga to the heart of Toronto.

For more photos of Mississauga, see my photo web site for the pages for Mississauga and Streetsville.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lake Ontario Shoreline at Mississauga

A few evenings ago, I went for a walk along the Waterfront Trail where it passes Rhododendron Park, near where I live, in the Port Credit area of Mississauga. Swans and geese were a'swimming, and the waves were rolling in, making an audible splash when they hit the shore.

An unpleasant odor permeated the area, so I looked up from the viewfinder and glanced down near my feet.This is what I saw:

Lake Ontario algae Mississauga
The waves were rolling a thick green sludge onto the shore; the clever birds were bobbing on the waves about 10 feet out, well out of reach of this sludge.

I hate to think this is raw sewage, come directly into the lake. Perhaps it's the result of some algae bloom affected by the recent hot spell. In any event, it's really gross, and unsettling, and a darn shame.

I've sent the photo to those who might be able to identify this mess, which really detracts from the clean, outdoor-sports image Port Credit works so hard to cultivate.

Update on algae:
See comments below, plus another summer has brought the same algae phenom -- still not pleasant but apparently normal. See more Lake Ontario shoreline pictures at this post and by searching labels.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Summer Palace in Beijing Gets New Name??

Each week, the Toronto Star publishes travel photos sent in by readers, under the heading Where in the World (shades of Conde Nast Traveler!) and other readers can guess where each photo was taken. Just for fun -- no prize involved -- answers the following week.

Last week, one such photo was of the Summer Palace, in Beijing -- basically a no-brainer for anyone who's been to China. The Summer Palace is included on many tours, and very recognizable. Not as much as, say, the Eiffel Tower, but close.

This is the Summer Palace (my photo).

So I got a start when today's paper came with another installment of reader photos, and the answer to the previous week's Where in the World?

And LO! The lovely Summer Palace is identified as the Temple of Heaven. Uh Oh!

This is the Temple of Heaven(also mine)

The wrong cutline information means two things (at least):
  • Don't believe everything you see in print, and always check other sources;
  • The travel editor is on the road and the gremlins put out the paper.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Time for The Mississauga Waterfront Festival!

(Update : See Waterfront Festival 2008 blog post)

Photo :: Credit River, Dragon Boat Racers
The festival takes place a few steps from this point on the Lakeshore.
(K. Zabawa photo)

This weekend (June 15-17, 2007), the Port Credit area of Mississauga hosts the annual waterfront festival. While I am glad to now be living within an easy walk of all the fun and shows, I am a little dismayed, too, since prior plans for the Friday night have me altering my driving route to avoid the crowds!

The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. on Friday night (shortly before I have to drive to east Mississauga and the Lakeshore, right through all this traffic), with shows starting at 6 p.m., and winding up with Tom Cochrane (show starts at 9:15, and the park closes at 11 p.m.) With any luck, I will be back to Port Credit to catch the last of the show.

Saturday, the gates open at 10 am. with the first show starting at noon, and the final show -- featuring Chantal Kreviazuk -- is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m.

On Sunday, the gates open at 10 a.m as well, but the park closes at 7 p.m., shortly after the final main stage show with Jim Cuddy.

If you'd like more information, call the festival hotline at 905 891 0002. A weekend pass costs $15 (adult) or $10 (kids3-12 and seniors). Children 2 and under get in free. Get your tickets at Shoppers Drug Mart or online at

See you there!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Interested in Living Abroad? Caveat . . .

When you are doing some online research, there's a site to watch out for :: Inter Nation al Liv ing. I came across this site when looking for information about real estate and long stay options for Uruguay.

I fell in love with the Punta del Este (photo, below) and Montevideo areas when I was there, and was seriously contemplating a long stay return.

So, naively, perhaps, I signed up for updates, thinking I could always cancel.


When 'helpful email notices' began arriving several times a day, for destinations far from my wonderful Uruguay, I clicked to cancel my subscription.

Didn't do a blind bit of good. Reminds me of the Cl ass mates site -- and to get rid of them, I had to close my ISP and get a new email. Same thing with this place.

So if you are interested in getting several emails each and every day from this site, then by all means, sign up. Otherwise, give it a miss. Wish I had.

Emirates Airline Adding Toronto in October 2007!

Effective October 29, 2007, Emirates Airline will add Toronto as its second North American destination, joining New York.

I personally am very excited to hear of this, as I had wanted to fly Emirates from Toronto (via Dubai, the hub) to Addis Ababa last trip. A friend in the travel agency biz had spoken of Emirates in-cabin service as top of the line, and I was anxious to get some of that for myself. And Dubai and Abu Dhabi are high on my list of must-see places. As well, I could add on flights to Nairobi, and points south in Africa. It seemed a perfect choice.

But, at that time, I didn't want to have to go to New York to pick up the flight (Why add an extra country, and extra layer of airport hassles if you don't have to?), so I routed the conventional way via London's Heathrow, which has issues of its own vis airport security. As well, flights out of LHR can book up early over the busy Christmas season as Ethiopians return home for the holidays.

But come this fall, I have a great option, and I will start planning a great trip now!

Here's a photo of my reason for traveling back to Ethiopia :: The Black Family. You can read about their work in Bahir Dar on under travel in Ethiopia.

Right now, they are back in Canada for a few weeks on their annual repatriation visit. They are doing remarkable work in Ethiopia, and I support them wholeheartedly.

Update: March 2008 Bob and Sue and the girls are returning to Canada this summer, as the programs are now up and running smoothly with local staff.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Showers or Tubs :: Do Travelers Really Care?

I don't know about you, but at the end of a long day of walking, climbing, schlepping in and out of random buildings and generally being all hot, sweaty and tired and embedded with sunscreen and insect spray, all I want at the end of the day is a good soak in a proper tub. And when all I am faced with at my hotel is a shower, and a small one at that, I am truly disappointed.

Granted, there are worse things in the world, which don't need to be named here. But think about it: On my feet all day, carrying lord knows what in my pack, and they want me to STAND SOME MORE?

This hotel bath is in the Circle Hotel, Gonder, Ethiopia. (More about Gonder at my Ethiopia pages)

On a trip to Australia via Asia, I reveled in the deep soaker tubs at the Mandarin in Haikou (Hainan, China). The soaker tub in Hong Kong was a positive delight. Thailand (Bangkok, River Kwai) left a bit to be desired, but Australia definitely let me down.

Other than friend Teena's condo tub (bless you, Teena!) in Trinity Beach, Queensland, my hotels in Sydney, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island were shower only, with signs posted, saying, " for Heavens sake, don't close your bathroom door or stand too long under hot steamy water, or the smoke/fire alarms will sound when the steam hits the sensor." Or words to that effect.

Which they did, the alarms, that is, -- they shrilled whenever some poor fool forgot this warning, and, once, sent us all outdoors onto the rainy pavements at midnight. Overly-sensitive fire alarms are another issue entirely, but they do serve to remind travelers to keep valuables close to hand, and not strew suitcase contents all over the room, so that you can get out in a flash, should the alarm be non-shower steam related. I could hardly wait to return to Hong Kong just to have a proper soak.
Below is the wonderful bath at the Nexus in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Vent over. In my newly-renovated bath, there's a large, deep soaker tub that I do believe is calling to me. Yes, yes it is!


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Now in Port Credit (Mississauga) Canada

It's been a few weeks, but I am back on the blog now, from my new home in Port Credit (albeit in Safari instead of FF, which my techie guy Alec says to try for a bit. But in Safari on Blogger, I dont' see any edit tags etc in a menu bar -- just spell check and images)

We've been painting and sanding and packing and unpacking for what seems forever, but are making some headway* finally.

(*Headway = taking up the sheets of brown paper taped to the new floor (to protect the carbonized vertical bamboo from heavy traffic whilst renovating), and they are indeed lovely!) And I am a total pro in picking off the packing tape from boxes so they can be returned to the moving company.

This move feels the same as being on a trip: Living out of a suitcase with minimal articles of clothing; eating unfamiliar foods, drinking bottled water, no easy access to laundry facilities, fairly rigid daily itinerary, unfamiliar shops and banking, and most of all, expensive!

But as with a good trip, so with a move of residences :: You're more than ready to get home after a bit, and with a sense of having done something wonderful. And that is what makes both very worth while.

Dec. 2007 : new page added: Here's why I bought a condo in Port Credit.