Finding my own way

Exploring a new city can be quite daunting. My epiphany moment today was deciding to relax. Not to focus on getting to and visiting as many touristy things as possible, but to be true to myself and experience the culture, life and vibrancy of this city. The positives: I may not feel comfortable speaking the language but I know enough to find may way around, and this may be a different province and culture but it is still Canada. That settled I started out on not just a physical journey but one of spirit and quest.

My morning had started by finishing the book I was reading, “The Murmur of Bees”; the English translation by Simon Bruni of “El murmullo de las abejas” by Sofia Segovia. A soul stirring event that set my mood for the day. (Review on Goodreads).

Then out for the morning Mount Royal Challenge. With some experience of the paths and clad in suitable attire I was able to use some of the less formal routes up. Even though it was fairly early the mount was active with walkers, commuters, riders, runners and questers like myself. Bravely I greeted mainly in French, and then began to play a game of spot the English speakers.

Being off the beaten path allowed me to share these curiosities and treasures.

With spirit refreshed and challenge offering food for thought I was ready to locate nourishment for the body; a self indulgent pastry for breakfast.

After breakfast I was ready for further discoveries and action. I headed in a northeasterly direction, along Ave du Parc until I arrived at the memorial of Sir George Etienne Cartier. It is indeed an imposing art work, and set in surroundings that invite you to sit and relax, work, pause and rest. Hopefully the message of,”Canada must to be a country of freedom and all freedoms must be protected by law. ” can still be held today but I fear I may have to use the cliché, “It’s complicated”.

Walking away from the statue, continuing first North to St Laurent then east along S Laurent described as the “most with-it street in Montreal”. “A true reflection of Canadian Multiculturalism.”

I’m in!

I walked, and browsed, enjoyed the murals, wanted to, but resisted, entering every cafe, restaurant, and tea/coffee shop I encountered,but trying to memorize them for later consideration. I deliberately put my camera away, this time was for enjoying first hand, for indulging my senses in the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the fabric of this clustering of people. The camera in my amateur hands would not do justice to this place. At a later date, when I have tasted more, shared and received more, perceived more and understood my place more, I will use the words God gives me to sing and dance the rhythm of Boulevard du Saint-Laurent.

Later, thoroughly replete with experience and needing a good cuppa I chose a bagel cafe. Unfortunately although the bagels looked amazing, they didn’t suit what I needed at that time. However I did enjoy a cup of tea. Then the camera came out again to add this picture to my collection of possible Little Teasers….. But that’s another story.

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Day one: Mount Royal challenge

This was my holiday break within my Canada visit. My family duties were changing as they managed the new routine of work, school, day-care and weekends. Time for me to adventure into pastures new whilst in my beloved country.

After the day of travelling, and wanting some time to adjust I had mentally thought to just relax, spend time in the hotel, enjoy some me time and catch up on writing and correspondence. However, after days of wishing that spring would come more than one day at a time, yesterday dawned as such a day. Far too nice to spend indoors. So, aimed with snacks, reading and phone I chose to explore the immediate area, which just happens to be Mount Royal. I did sit and read for a little while, but then itchy feet wanted to explore and shake off the uncertainties of yesterday’s realisation that this is a different Canada a different culture and the realities of yes, a different language and all that goes with that.

Who can resist the call of green spaces, trails through woodland, a spot of climbing and the promise of views, history unfolding and stories of man made monuments? Not me that’s for sure.

Upwards in more ways than one I took on what was to become an uplifting experience. With each step I became quieter in spirit and began to enjoy the familiarity of walking in nature. This was the rooting and grounding I needed. Gradually I became more confident to acknowledge and enjoy the people sharing the paths with me. I realised that these paths were everyday routes to work, school or just daily forms of exercise.

I easily slipped back into Sue mode and enjoyed noticing people. People going about their everyday business, riding, walking, jogging or running the paths. People with families enjoying time together on a beautiful spring day.

There was a man with his two children, sitting on some rocks at the top of a steep path down, absorbed in his books and papers, whilst his children played, regardless of the danger. To them there was no danger in the familiarity of a favourite place.

There was the young artist, seated with his inks and paper, working on interpreting the scene in front of him, noticing the play of light and shadow, the movement of leaves in the breeze and the powerful stillness of the surrounding height.

There was the man, seated on a bench, in quiet meditation and thought. To him Mount Royal was home and had the sanctity of refuge and familiarity.

There was the dog trotting along obediently behind his master; ignoring the urge to go and follow enticing smells and calls from the underground in favour of walking in faithful communion with his charge.
There was the family with the young baby, whimpering her protest at being carried along in the warm sun, uncomfortable in over protective clothing and bored with this activity.
Here was a youngster, who seemed happily detached from his family, playing happily in the dusty soil, because of the inquisitive nature that drives to understand why making tunnels in the dirt with your head feels so good.

Arriving finally at the destination for today, the Mount Royal chateau, I entered the coolness of the building to have my breath taken away by the open space splendour.

sdr

This was the summit for today. I knew there was so much more for me to enjoy, more secrets to uncover, more lessons to be learned. But I had reached the pinnacle for this occasion. The majesty of the building and the glory of that space fulfilled my sense of longing and adventure for this day, but the promise of more to come gladdened my spirit. However there was just one more beautiful surprise awaiting me….

I chose not to linger at the observation point, which was now quite noisy and busy. My eye was caught by the sight of a lone figure, standing to one side, just her and her camera. Intrigued I walked over slowly and quietly, pausing to ensure I did not disturb her ,’prey’.

Readers that know me will wonder at the discovery I made, that this was what was being filmed so avidly. Down in the wooded undergrowth this little fellow was happily showing off his true colours. Thanks to the wonders of close up photography, at least as much as my Huawei P20 will allow, I am not as close to him as it appears, otherwise, my unexplainable fear of birds would have prohibited the quick shots I did manage before making my retreat.

Now it was time to descend back to the hustle of practical life. But not without making this promise/challenge to myself. That I would explore Mount Royal every day of my stay here. Partly for physical exercise as recent injuries have meant I cannot do my usual exercise routine, but mainly as an exercise in creativity, spiritual and mental stimulation.

Mount Royal: challenge accepted!

Mount Royal challenge.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Sue v Mount Royal




Magical ‘mist’ery tour

Yesterday was the day to explore the area that puts the word Falls in Niagara Falls.

I hope that if I lived here, I would never take them for granted, yet unless you work in that area, it is not that easy to fit in regular visits. But yesterday was the day. A route was kind of mapped out, activities sort of planned, but a lot depended on how the weather was going to be.

It was a misty morning, with some promise of sun later on in the day. My main aim for the day was to just enjoy the Falls as a spectacular nature show. No hype, little tourism stuff, and with the exception of one extravaganza not much money spent. I love walking, so on with the walking gear and off we go!

The first point of interest was the battlefield memorial site at Lundy’s Lane.

In commemaration of the 1814 battle of the Anglo-American war of 1812. It actually closed as a stalemate as both sides were unable to continue due to lack of reserves, however it allegedly was a strategical victory for Britain. However it was recorded to be one of the bloodiest battles, with fighting taking place in almost hand to hand contact and unorganised skirmishes. Point to ponder why is the memorial site artistically beautiful when war is ugly?

Further down Lundy’s Lane I had the first glimpse of the famous revolving tower restaurant, a landmark of the Falls since 1965.

View showing skyline tower in distance surrounded by the morning mist.
Skyline Tower Niagara Fall

One misty morning views of the falls

Taken just at the rim of the Falls. Notice the ice still flowing.

Deep calls to deep
    at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42: 7-8

Join me in more adventures hopefully when the sun comes out. Here’s praying that The Son shines in your soul today.

Sue




A walk at bedtime

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!

The Lamplighter

Robert Louis Stevenson

This is actually the end of my walk for that evening, at the end of Philosopher’s Walk. It was really quite peaceful and my mood suited this scene. Knowing that just a few paces away Toronto was in transformation. The rat race home yielding to the excitement and enthusiasm of the city at night.

Spot the dinosaur!

Church of the Redeemer

As I walked by this church going East, all was quiet. Impressed by this imposing building I paused to add this view to my collection of beautiful buildings in Toronto.

On returning along Bloor later on, a different scene was playing out. People were leaving the building, some carrying instruments and others had been in attendance to the concert.

I was sorry to have missed out on the event, however l was grateful to witness those leaving and to feel their delight and hopefully uplifted spirit from the music.

Community

This impressive Kirk Newman bronze sculpture stands outside the Manulife Financial Headquarters building.

Entitled Community it is designed to reflect the diverse and international presence of the company.

This view of the sculpture, taken as evening was descending, gives a warmth to the bronze. I have included it in this blog as it was part of my walk, however I am sure it will feature in another blog later on.

The evening walk was a brilliant ending to this day of adventure in Toronto. All too soon my mini-break was ending. I will return!




To words unknown

This is kind of an experiment which was fun to do.

I don’t know if it works or not.

You decide.

Out of my mind

I asked the vendor if I could live here.
This wordy paradise.
Yet not just words; pictures, art and culture
burst forth in linear structures reaching from floor to ceiling.
All the wisdom and knowledge I could possibly absorb was here.
First the random choice, because where do you begin?


Alpha: Aristotle, Aesop and Agatha are
Bold against the beauty of Browning and Brooks.
Chaucer lieth cornered with Caspar and Chocolat
Delights with Duffy, but is deadened by diplomotology.
Eureka enlightenment in Foreign folk tales
Gathers ghostlike in Hobbits dim hollows.
In medias Res find Ibsen with Ice Cube
Jauntily juxtaposes Kierkegaard and Lowry’s
Matchstick mementos of Northern histories
Orwellian portents parallel Queen’s rich Rhapsody
Stirring my soul to the ‘nth degree
Upwards I look now for Verdi and Wagner
Welcoming Xanadu, Zero and finally,
Omega.

I think I need to work on the rhythm in some places, but for now here it is.

One to grow on,

Sue




Firmament of His power

Psalm 150 King James Version (KJV)

150 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

This is the Psalm for today in the cycle of readings. As we read it together in church, I had the music playing in my heàd. As I put this together, I re read the Psalm, fitting the verses to the Tribute, then the glorious Agnus Dei was the musicians, “Amen” bringing us gently down at the end, falling in gratitude and thanks to our great God.

I hope you find praise, peace and prayerful gratitude also.

Thank you for joining me. May this be a powerful ending to your weekend and thoughtful preparation for the coming week.

In Him,

Sue




Narrow minded

Ha! That title grabbed you didn’t it.

During my recent visit to Toronto I seemed to be enthralled by buildings, or parts of buildings that presented a “narrow” view.

Here are the results.

Edifices come and go

Structures built

Reaching the sky

Man take time

Along this path of life

For narrow is the way.




Heavenly tastes and a taste of Heaven

Those of you who follow me on social media will know that I had an amazing day in Toronto, yesterday.

Too much to write about in a single blog. Tonight, as the title suggests, is all about food.

About a 20 minute walk away from my lodging is a “Second Cup”

I don’t usually eat breakfast, however, a ‘coffee’ break on the way to wherever I was going seemed just the thing. On entering I glanced at the new range poster and totally off piste for me – usually shunning any kind of cold drink unless it’s at least 25° – I opted to try the date and almond smoothie, made with Almond milk. The reasoning behind this rash decision; the idea that cold and smooth would feel nicer on my injured mouth.

It turned out to be a good decision. I enjoyed the taste, the texture was acceptable and it was more nutritious, satisfying than just a cup of tea.

Suitably refreshed, ready for more adventure I went on my way. Although brisk from a cool breeze, the amount of sun made walking pleasant. Exercise being good for body, soul and creativity, I deliberately shunned transport in favour of Shanks’ Pony.

Later in the day, I found this little jewel.

I looked, I read, I smiled, I walked on a couple of paces, I stopped, I retraced my steps, I went in.

This was a day of adventure and joy. This would suitably satisfy both of those. From the outset I was made to feel welcome, greeted politely and my order taken. By using the menu poster on the door, I did not need assistance in knowing what to have, however during my visit I witnessed them giving expert advice to others, displaying a thorough knowledge of their products.

Part of the whole experience was watching them prepare my hot matcha latte in the traditional method; blending the matcha powder into a frothy paste using a bamboo whisk and then adding the steamed milk. Unfortunately, the design crafted finish got squashed with the lid.

As they prepared my latte I noticed the tatami area and asked if I could sit there to enjoy my tea. Removing my shoes symbolised removing negativity, thereby sitting cross-legged at the table the tea ceremony came to me in peaceful surroundings. Perfection.

A taste of Heaven

This day was definitely a day to be led by the spirit of adventure, new experience and capturing the heart of Toronto. This last food experience is the epitome of that.

As I was walking in Trinity Square, downtown Toronto I was attracted, of course, by this old church building.

Curiosity, in this case did not kill the cat but rather fed her. On investigating I realised that part of the building was used as a cafe. Always ready to support ventures that use church spaces, and it possibly being a good time to break for lunch I went in. I was greeted with smiles from customers and staff. I was teased by the wonderful smells eminating from the kitchen, and tempted by the offer of vegan carrot and orange soup served with fresh, homemade bread and butter (oops not vegan, but I try!). It was not until I had placed my order that I heard the cashier tell another patron, no cash only I’m afraid.

Now what to do, here stands the lady who relied on plastic. Absolutely no cash in my wallet. Panic. “Oh don’t worry”, said the cashier, “you are welcome to eat with us anyway. Please return and pay then”.

Not at all was I made to feel embarrassed. This was not a statement made as if she was suspecting that I was in need of charity, even though from appearance with my poor, broken face she could be forgiven for thinking that. No, a genuine, warm welcome.

As I chose where to sit, I noticed the wonderful fabric of guests eating and sharing food here. Young, old, business, students friends, single travelers. All breaking bread together, some in silent contemplation, others in chit chat a few in deep conversation. Not a single electronic device did I see being used.

The soup was hot, perfectly seasoned and delicious. The fresh bread turning the simple bowl of soup into a gourmet meal.

Looking round at the company, the ambience, the setting and the warmth, I was in need of this charity. Not the physical need of food, but the emotional need of understanding that there is goodness in this crazy world. In spite of all the wrong we read going on around us, generally people are good. Just maybe, deep down, this is what we all want: to enjoy good food, in good company, in beautiful surroundings providing a sense of belonging, an ability to link our past and heritage with our present struggles and dificulties. This simple meal did feed my body, but the greater, more noble was the feeding of my soul.

Hmm I started writing this yesterday, WordPress not being cooperative, then just got tired finished it this a.m. Finally ready to publish. Thanks for taking your time to read it.

Enjoy life, live your day and connect with someone.

Blessings,

Sue




Hunter gatherer

View from Room 5.

Today is a hunter, gatherer day. I am back in Toronto for a mini-break, so today will be spent seeking out new treasures for the eye, tastes to feed the body and connections to quick the spirit. I will put my lovely Huawei P20 lite and my creativity through the paces, and return refreshed and buzzing with new stories.

God bless you all. Go out there and connect!




Devotionals: He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

Section of the altar scene at St John the Evangelist Niagara Falls https://www.stjohnsniagarafalls.ca/

I believe……On the third day he rose again from the dead.

I believe because of the accounts. Each writer may have written with a different perspective. Just as reporters write different stories and may report different facts and add their own view point, today, so the writers chosen to give account in the gospels and letters of the Bible, share different details of their own witness and encounter with Christ.

I believe because of the difference in these accounts which add up to give personal testimony of an alive Christ working in spirit with the people of His new church.

I believe and enjoy that belief with thousands of others across the world. Some personal acquaintances, others online others in what I read and hear.

I believe because I choose to believe with all my heart. Even in the depth of tragedy, it is that belief that stirs me, not as a temporary crutch just to get me through, but with my whole body, mind and soul I believe. It is my beginning and end. It is at the core of all I do. I work at that belief and choose to believe because for me it is the right.

I believe because I want to join in the dance. I want to sing with joy, clap my hands with the rhythm and step out my life with those around me. I want to do this not with an outdated principal, or a written code or even an unwritten but shared custom handed down from generation. I want to dance with a living, vibrant, supportive partner, who understands the clumsy feet, the awkward body and the mistakes I make in this choreography we call life.

Let us join the dance together.