Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baby boom on Wingate Drive

I live on a quiet residential street. The days when the street was crawling with children is over apart from younger families moving in. Despite the lack of human children, Wingate is having a baby boom.

Our yard is full of baby birds, cardinals, chickadees, crows and a hawk family. The hawk family is very impressive and the crows wait for my neighbour Claudia to feed them almonds!

When I have my coffee outside, I am serenaded by a chorus of baby birds and I delight at watching them learn to fly and land on small branches which bend under their weight. Our yard has a pond and so there is always water, and of course plenty of bird feeders with assorted seeds to entice the youngsters. When the parents return to feed them, there is always a racket especially with the baby crows who seem to resent being treated like children and made to eat their suppers!

Our little tree was home to Henry the baby crow for a few days, until he learned to fly a little better and moved, presumably to my neighbours yards for almonds. I only fed them peanuts! Almonds are much nicer after all.

Crows are fascinating birds. I watched as one Crow dipped a morsel of hardened bread into a bird bath to soften. Claudia's pet Crow waits for her to feed him his morning snack of almonds.

Chikadees are the explorers and quickly discover all of our bird feeders. The more conservative birds have avoided our new feeders, but Chikadees are free thinkers and quickly tell the other birds about their latest conquest and discovery.

The Cardinals for the most part, rely on their looks. They appear to be the 'dumb blondes'. They enjoy being admired but when it comes to things like feeding themselves or exploring they are at a loss.

Summer is wonderful!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bastille day and a French garden party!

As a French woman who married an Englishman, I have always been intrigued with our fascination with food, and the English indifference to it.

Samuel de Champlain brought a chef with him from France as he explored and Louisburg was known for its cooking. I am not sure if he had a chaplain with him as the English or Spanish did, but he sure had his cook! In contrast the poor English who were stationed in Fort Henry had to live on boiled potatoes, spruce beer and some salty meat.

When Cyril and I used to canoe camp in the wilderness we were always struck by the difference between wild sites in Quebec versus Ontario. The Quebec sites had glorious fire pits and log seating but little sanitation. The Algonquin Park sites had great outhouses but pathetic fire pits and certainly no log seating.

Yesterday was Bastille day and I was at the French embassy. It was a celebration of food, with ice sculptures displaying delectable meringue cakes stuffed with fruit, there were masterful artistic displays of carved fruit and vegetables, beautiful cups with red white and blue sherbet, a hot and cold buffet and mountains upon mountains of cheese. There was a children's tent with colorful candied apples, jars and jars of assorted candies and caramels, chips and water. As for the adults, while the water did run out, the wine never stopped flowing!

For the champagne there was a beautiful cake with the French flag on it. The entire affair was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. There was also a group of chamber musicians playing Bach and a choir to sing. Wonderful.

I have been to similar affairs with the English. There are lots of speeches, a few monuments, an unveiling of something or other, and the food, if there is any, is never presented with such artistry and delicacy as do the French. The closest thing the English have to a French garden party is English high tea. English high tea is nice but has many rituals and traditions. The French garden party for bastille day seemed to celebrate only one tradition...and that is pleasure and gastronomy. All French are free to enjoy the pleasures of the vineyard and the table at this party!

The French truly understand that living and food is an art. Anyone who had taken a bite from a blue blanc rouge meringue biscuit while admiring one of the four melting ice sculptures with a glass of wine in hand will surely know what I mean!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How hot was it today? I worried my tires had melted!

Today I led a KNBC ride from Arnprior to Norway Bay and back. The heat was blistering and the humidity higher. I had two large water bottles. I drained them three times, drank at least a liter of water, had lemonade, coffee and a beer.

The ride itself is beautiful. We rode along scenic roads to Norway Bay. Well scenic. At Portage Du Fort there is construction with paving. I rode on fresh pavement. Memo to self...NEVER do this in hot weather. Our tires got coated and there were concerns that our tires actually melted. That is how hot it was.

At Norway Bay we stopped at the Pine Lodge. The S4 riders had ridden there earlier and had left one S4 rider , David who told me there was no food. The other riders, Linda and Bruce had simply decided not to stop and hammered on. I went into the restaurant and in short order. 6 wonderful wraps were produced or chicken, bacon, lettuce and cheese. They were great but I was not hungry.

Our ride speed was 27-32 km/hr. By the time lunch was produced, I did not feel like eating. I still don't and it is now 11pm. I hydrated and took eload tablets for heat stress. I even went for a swim at the beach at the Pine lodge, albeit short.

One of our riders, Nancy was having a hard time on the hills and with the heat despite our taking breaks in shady spots. Her face was dangerously red and I loaned her a buff to wear around her neck which I soaked in cold water. Tim and Steve and Irene seemed fine but all I wanted was more cold drinks.

I am not sure how to handle a longish ride in the heat but this is what I have learned.

1) Take it slowly, while riding fast was a lot of fun I think it put extra strain on us. We rode in a paceline to conserve energy. A paceline or a peleton is really the way to ride. It was a new experience for two of our riders.

2) Hydrate more. Before I rode from Arnprior I should have already consumed a few liters of water or electrolyte drinks

4) Despite wearing tour de france socks, I am not a tour de france rider and the ride was for pleasure..slow down Karine

5) It is harder to ride in high humidity and heat than the cold. With the cold, you get numb and shiver but you warm up with a hot meal. I find with the heat it is harder.

The ride itself was a wonderful ride taking us through farmlands, fields of barley and oats, and of course into the Pontiac region which is really lovely.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Petrie Island a hidden gem

On Thursday, as a result of a canceled bike trip, I took my Mother to Petrie island in Orleans. At first I was skeptical as I knew that the City had built a beach. I was expecting Moonies Bay in Orleans. I knew it was 'developed' and thus expected concession stands and the usual commercialization that follows development.

What a surprise. Petrie island is a nature preserve with trails, beaver lodges, an island for turtles, an interpretation centre and a lovely beach. It is clean and understated. There are two beaches that I found. The first, the larger beach is spacious with a volleyball court. The smaller is more private and shaded.

My mother and I set up at the larger beach. I put up a large Canada umbrella, and a chair for her and I went for a swim. My swim mask was not quite adjusted but my fins worked wonderfully. There were bouys to mark the end of the beach and I swam beyond them. No sooner had I come in then there was a moron on a ski do, roaring beside the bouys waving and proudly displaying the fact that he is further adding to pollution both with gas and with noise. It was as if he was saying "Hey folks look at me..isn't it wonderful I am ruining the planet and your experience with my shiny new toy which serves no function other than to annoy!"

The trails in Petrie island are suitable for biking and hiking and are well marked. There was an artist positioned near one of the trails putting finishing touches on an oil painting of the area.

When we were there, it was as if we were miles from anything although we were only 20 minutes from my Mother's home.

For those of you with children, I don't think you can do better than Petrie island. The little interpretation centre has books, displays, stuffed animals and a few skulls. It is large enough to engage even the most energetic youngster and the more academic minded could easily spend an afternoon looking at the books and displays and going out to find turtles, or beavers or warblers.

What a find!..Did I mention there is no admission fee?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Uniforms and sizes and the difference between men and women

I recently ordered 25 uniform sets for my bike team which has both men and women and made several observations. The manufacturer suggested that I get height, weight, waist and chest sizes for all of my team.

Now for a man, weight is what appears on the scale. No more no less. While they may wish to weigh more if they are bulking up, or a little less. They reported their actual weight.

A woman uses the same scale, but reads it differently. Women will report their hoped for weight or their wished for weight and argue they can squeeze into the uniforms.

A man will take his waist and chest measurement with no explanation. A woman will once again provide the measurements they want and once again, hope for the best.

The women on my team are educated and career minded. Yet they too have been unduly influenced by images of what they should look like. We should all look like Katherine Hepburn, or Halle Berri...or a Bond girl and so we project this and rather than giving a true measurement we project and hope.

The men's uniforms all fit. The only exception is for those men who are stout and short, or tall and thin. The women's uniforms are a different story. I have heard of shorts being too small, when there is not enough room for a molecule of water to get through the space between short and skin, jerseys being too large when again they are stretched to the limit and on and on. I suspect that the reason for this is because the women provided me with 'approximate' or hoped for measurements. Those who were honest, have uniforms that are a perfect fit.

a REAL conspiracy against women!

For all you conspiracy theorists out there, and you know who you are, here is an real conspiracy.

When I purchase cycling clothing, I am always attracted to the beautiful colours of women's jerseys and shorts but appalled at the high price and the terrible fit. I am 5'6". I do not have unusually long legs or stovepipe arms, I weigh 148lbs, so pretty average size. Yet women's cycling jerseys are invariably too short and the arms are made for someone with no muscle in their arm whatsoever, ie stovepipe arms. A lot of women, myself included wear sleeveless jerseys but when the sun is really hot, I prefer a sleeve. Even a capped sleeve, but a sleeve of some sort.

The shorts are even worse, while they are short, which is good, the bib shorts are far too expensive and the short selection limited. I have asked high end bike shops and their excuse is the market is smaller. Well, that is a good way to ensure that the market stays smaller.

Here is a tip ladies. There is NO difference between men's bib shorts or shorts and ladies other than the pad. The difference in the pad is not significant and in fact I find men's padding more comfortable and more forgiving.

As for the jerseys, the women's jerseys are far too short, the men's are a much better length and quite frankly better made.

I have found that this discrimination against women extends in other areas of women's fashion. Dress pants are a good example, why do women's dress pants have such TEENY pockets, poorly stitched seams and inferior belt loops? Simple, women have come to expect shoddy quality as a matter of course. Women's shirts are even worse. If they fit on the chest they are too long etc. I am not sure who or what they model shirts on, I suspect it is a giant sloth but I have no proof just suspicion.

We women do most, if not all of the clothing purchases. If my husband is any indication, most men would rather die than shop for clothing. Thus, we are a significant force in the market. Why then do we put up with inferior quality and overpriced clothing and sports gear?

Historically, women made their clothing. That is why tailors made men's clothing as it was assumed that women could sew their own. That was a LONG time ago. I think that the manufacturers should wake up.

Karine's Blog

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