Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Gear for my Bike: Pannier, Waterproof Pannier Cover, and Rearview Mirror for Glasse

So excited that I found inexpensive waterproof pannier covers for the new panniers I ordered from Ebay last week.
Pannier cover
 Hopefully they won't be so cheap that they'll rip right away.  If they are, at least buying them will give me a chance to figure out the pattern so I can make my own set.  It basically looks like big pieces of waterpoof material with elastic, or maybe a pull tie.  I ordered them from this seller on ebay.
Panniers I bought on ebay.
 I plan to use them to cover the panniers I purchased, as seen in the photo above.  Both items are coming from China so will not get here for a month. It's August 25th now, so they should be in by the end of September.  The people who sold the pannier cover sent me an email saying they were shipped yesterday, and if they don't arrive by the 29th of September to contact them.
Take a Look Mirror
 I also ordered the Take a Look Mirror from Ebay.
It was located in the USA and arrived very quickly, within days of ordering.  I tried the mirror out for the first time on Bike Ride 14, a few days ago, and it works very well but takes some getting used to.  I wondered if people would react to it when they saw me wearing it, but the only people who gave me a hard time about them were my parents.  I don't care how they look to others; I only care about road safety.  Now I have a better view of what's coming up behind me, and that means a lot to me.  I think these are brilliant; so much better than the rear view mirror on my bike, which just gives me a view of myself, lol.

I found this Hilda cartoon online and cracked up, as that could be me and Benji and my bike...except I wouldn't be caught dead in a bikini, lol.  Also, my hair does have red highlights, but is more brown than red, lol.

I'm not feeling great today.  I feel achy all over and have been wheezing all night and morning, despite my ventolin. Normally when I feel like this, it means I'm coming down with the flu.  I sure hope not.  I had hoped to go for  another bike ride today but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I'll see how I feel later.  I can always try to ride, just in the neighborhood, and if I don't feel well, just turn around and come home.  I had planned on going to Fort Creek but my Dad says it's very hilly and there's no way I could walk hills today, let alone bike them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bike Ride 15, A Hungry Beaver!

I saw the cutest beaver yesterday evening at sunset! 

I was riding on Whitefish Island, which is near the Sault Locks canal.  You can see it in the map below.
My route
I had originally planned to do a different, longer bike ride, but when I drove to Fort Creek, where I wanted to hop onto the trail, I discovered my hatch wouldn't open.  My Dad banged into my trusty old Chevy Blazer with his much bigger Dodge Ram a few days ago.  He swore he didn't hit hard enough to damage it, but it turns out he had hit my spare tire and pushed in the door enough to make it so the latch on the hatch wouldn't release.  My Uncle Buck and cousin Wayne fixed it.  Wayne had to attach a chain from my truck to his tow thing, and I had to sit in my truck, pushing on the brakes while he gave it a few yanks with his truck. Good thing I had my seatbelt on or my head would have hit the windshield!  It was uncomfortable, but it worked, and I was able to open my hatch to get my beautiful bike out.  It was too late to ride at Fort Creek so I parked at the mall and biked over to the canal, and then to Whitefish Island.

The first part of the trail was dirt with loose gravel and steep but short hills, down, up, down, up.  There were so many twists and turns and the path was so narrow that I had to get off and push several times.  When I came to a turn with a wider path, I took it and headed left.  I was trying to get onto the circle that would do a circuit of the island but somehow missed it and ended up following a path that led to several wooden bridges over a swamp or marsh.  It went right under the International Bridge.

My bike on a bridge on Whitefish Island

Under the International Bridge
 I took a smaller path, to the right, and rode under the bridge into a field of flowers.  The path was going away from the open water and back to the canal though, so I turned around and went back to the fork and headed left instead, toward the rapids.
Rapids under the International Bridge
 I rode as far as I could, but then the path became impassible by bike so I stopped for a short breather and took loads of photos.
St. Mary's River
 The water was very high and I always worry about getting stuck in a flood zone if they let too much water through (it happened once but was nice because it was a hot day and the knee high water was cool, lol).
My bike at the end of the path
 The photo above shows where I had to stop.  There were too many boulders and rocks along the shore line for me to take the bike further. Right after I took this photo, my front basket came loose. I'd been carrying a cooler bag with one frozen bottle of water, one half frozen bottle of water, and one non frozen bottle of water inside, and the weight was too much for the little shower curtain holders that I was using to attach the basket to the bike handles.  Luckily I have a sturdier basket at the back of the bike, on the rear rack,  so I just put the cooler there instead. 
 I headed back the way I'd come, and paused to take photos of the swamp/marsh and it's cute inhabitants.
Cute ducks!
The ducks were very sweet and curious, and they all swam up to me hoping I had treats for them.  Sadly, I did not.  Next time I'll have to bring some bird seeds.
Bridge over swamp/marsh
 The long bridge over the wetlands area was so cool.  The water was high, right up to the bottom of the bridge, and I stopped often to watch the ducks and beavers.
Coral Townie by Electra
 My bike has taken me to so many pretty places, but I think this is the prettiest so far.  I love my bike!
Geese flying
 Sunset brought a slight cooling of the air, thank God .We've been having the hottest summer on record; almost every day is between 90-100 F with the humidity...something we are not used to in Northern Ontario,  Canada.  Normally 80 F is perceived of as very hot, but now it actually feels cool to me when it "drops" to 80.  It felt so nice that I stood here for awhile, enjoying the scenery, the geese and ducks and beaver and the absence of mosquitoes.  Usually a swampy area has tons of mosquitoes but this area was free of the pests; maybe because the ducks eat all of the larvae?  I don't know why it they weren't buzzing around, but it was lovely to be bite free.

 This one beaver lay there floating and eating the water plants for about half an hour.  It was so comical to watch him or her stuff his or her face with both little human-like hands. I had to use zoom to get these photos; the video at the start of this blog entry shows the little guy a lot better.
Sunset over the bridge
 The sunset was lovely, and when I left the marshy area for the clear water at the end of the (flooded) bridge, a flock of ducks swam over to greet me, and then quacked loudly because I had no food for them.
Curious ducks
 You can see from their wake that they made a beeline to me from across the pond.  So cute!
Hungry ducks
 When the realized I had no treats for them, most of the ducks swam back across the pond, but some decided to take a walk on the bridge, lol.
Ducks on a bridge
They were so cute and comical. I love how they shake their tail feathers when they walk.

Soo Locks Canal at sunset
 The last hilly bit of Whitefish Island almost did me in and I had to sit by the locks for a bit to recover from an asthma attack. It's my own fault; I shouldn't have tried to ride the bike up a very steep but short hill. It was too much for my lungs to cope with, especially on such a hot and humid evening.  After I could breathe again I walked across the canal on the little swinging bridge they have set up, and biked back to the hub trail near the mall.
Boardwalk near Station Mall, at night
I sat and admired the view and the bit of breeze coming off the river for a few minutes and then rode my bike back to my truck.  I passed my parents along the way (they walk along the boardwalk almost every night), and my Dad told me he has a tire shaped dent in the back of his truck, from hitting mine.  Oops.  Maybe next time he'll look before backing into the driveway.  Thankfully nobody was hurt, and neither vehicle was badly damaged.

I couldn't go for a bike ride today because it poured rain all day. I'm not complaining though; we so needed the rain. Maybe I can take the bike out tomorrow.  I want to try the Fort Creek portion of the hub trail.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I Bought Panniers!

I'm so excited!  I bought some inexpensive panniers from Ebay last night and they've already been shipped.

The photo below is from Ebay.
Bike Panniers from Ebay
They are water resistant but not waterproof, but I have no intention of riding in the rain, so that should be OK.  I can always spray them with a waterproofing spray, or cover them with something if I get caught in rain accidentally.  I'd also pack things inside plastic bags before placing them inside if I was worried about them getting wet.
I don't know for how long this link will work, as it's dependent on how many items the seller has, but these are the panniers I bought: 
Roswheel Bike Panniers on Ebay

I found a  few cool Youtube video reviews of the panniers.  The guy who did the reviews bought a lighter color, but I went with black in hopes they wouldn't show the dirt as much.


Yesterday I found Nashbar rear panniers for only $14.99 US, but I didn't order them because I figured they must be really cheap.  Today I thought, shoot, for under 15 dollars, I should order them anyway and maybe can use them on the front of the bike.  Even though I'd saved them in my cart, the price had changed and they were now $69.00!  Bummer; I should have bought them. I'll check for them again periodically and if they ever go on sale like that again, I'll snap them up.
Nashbar panniers

I am so excited, lol!  I am one step closer to being able to go on tour. It will take about a month for the panniers to come in, so I won't be able to go until late fall, or next year, even, but it's something to look forward to, and to dream about.  Even if I just do an overnight tour, it will be something new, something fun, something to look forward to.  Now if only I could find someone to go with me, lol.  None of my friends ride bikes, and making new cycling friends wouldn't work because I would not be able to keep up with them.  If I go by myself, I'll definitely have to buy a cellphone so I can make an emergency phone call if need be.

I'm very excited, lol. 

I Want to go on a Bike Tour

I think I'm crazy, but ever since I first bought my bike, and saw that couple at the bike shop with their tandem bike piled high with panniers and towing a trailer full of gear, I've been enthralled by the idea of one day going on a bike tour.

The woman, I don't know her name, told me that they were cycling around Lake Michigan, and I thought that was absolutely amazing.  At the time, I hadn't gone on a bike ride for more than 3 blocks in years, and hadn't yet tried my new Townie by Electra.

I brought my bike home and surprised myself by riding just over 6 km (3 miles) on my very first ride, on July 13, 2016.  I took tons of photos and fell in love with my new bike, and riding. You can read about my first ride here, Bike Ride 1.  
Below is my favorite picture from my first ride. I'm using it as a screen saver.
My Townie Electra on our first ride, July 13th, 2016.

I loved it so much that I rode in 95 F heat with humidity, and it didn't affect my asthma!  Usually even walking a few steps in that heat triggers my asthma but for some reason, riding this new bike is fine.  My old bike triggered my asthma, and so did the one my uncle gave to my Mom and I.  This one fits me better; it's just the right bike for me. 

The next morning I went out again in extreme heat, but it was too soon as I hurt my nether regions badly and it took a week for the tender parts to heal.  I ordered special bike capris with a built in chamois and waited impatiently for them to arrive.  I hated them when they did, lol. To be fair, I only tried them once, on another super hot and humid day, and they were awful for that weather. I'll try them again on a cool fall day to see if it makes a difference. When they didn't work, I ordered a gel bike seat cover via my bike ship, which made all of the difference when it (finally) came in.  Now I can ride 13 km in 90 F heat without problems.  I've learned I cannot ride on days when it's hotter than 90 F with humidity, and this has been a record breaking summer for heat, so I haven't been able to ride every day, as I'd hoped.  

I went for as many rides as I could, taking copious photos (like I always do whenever I go anywhere at all, lol), and then blogged about them.  Then I wondered if anyone else was blogging their bike rides. Then I wondered if anyone blogged about bike touring, so I googled Bike Touring and found an amazing blog called Going Slowly by a lovely young couple, Tara and Tyler, who had gone on a bike tour around the world.  They kept a daily journal of their travels, filled with incredible photos.  I read their entire journal, which spanned years, and although we've never met, I now  feel like I know them, like they're my adorable young distant cousins.  I also ordered the PDF version of Tara's cookbook, but it hasn't been sent to me yet.  Perhaps they are on another of their adventures and can't get to it.  If so, I'm looking forward to reading about it :-). 

Then I discovered the website Crazy Guy on a Bike
and read some cool bike touring journals. 

Even though most of these people travel vast miles (kilometers, here in Canada) every day,  and they consider 50 km a SLOW day, lol, I started to think I'd like to go on a bike tour myself.  I was a bit bummed when I realized that they all have special, super expensive touring bikes, but lets get real; I LOVE my bike and don't want another (unless it's a recumbent; I'd love one of those, lol). As of this point, there's no way I could ever do 50 km in a day; it took me 4 hours to ride 13 km.  I think I could do 20 km a day though, if I didn't stop as often to take photos or rest. The other day, when I was riding on Topsail Island after dark, I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be so cool to be able to stop and camp here?"
Darkness falls on Topsail Island
Riding at night
Of course, it wouldn't be smart to try to stealth camp on Topsail Island, our very busy, unofficial leash free dog park, lol, but it would be cool to try on, say, St. Joseph's Island, which, I've just learned, is the second largest Freshwater Island in the world.  It even has it's own Cycling Guide.

Most people I've read about would cycle around the Island in one day, as it's only about 70 km to cycle around the outer highway.  It's a lot more if you add the inner roads through the Island.  I'm nowhere near being able to bike 70 km in one day, or ever 2 days, lol.  So it would be a great place for my first "tour", taking 3 or 4 days to do what others can do in 1 day, lol.  It would also be fun!
Here's a map of the area: Map of St. Joseph's Island

I have a sleeping bag, and I used to have a tent but God knows where it is now.  It may have disappeared in one of my many moves.  I found a cheap one on Walmart.com though,  so I could always get that one without too much trouble.  I'd need, or rather, want, a simple cookstove...or I could make one out of cans, I guess, and a pot for cooking something simple like ramen noodles or oatmeal, and for boiling water for coffee or tea or hot chocolate or soup.  I'd need panniers.  Gosh, I'd need so much stuff, lol.   I don't know if I'd have the guts to try to stealth camp alone though.  St. Joseph's Island has one camping site that I know of, plus a motel or two.  I could always stay there.
It's fun to dream about, anyway. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bike Ride 13, almost 13 kilometers, on a very Sad Day

My best friend's dad, Louie, died early this morning.  I heard about it when my friend emailed me at 10 AM.  She was in San Francisco, getting her daughter settled in her new dorm, but she had to cut her stay short and head back to get here in time for the funeral, which is supposed to be on Monday.  It's a 4 day drive so hopefully she'll make it home safely, and in time. I'm so glad her husband and dog are with her for the drive so she won't be alone.

Louie was a wonderful man, funny, big hearted, and he almost always had a smile on his face.  Then he got cancer, twice in two years, and the second bout was too much for his body to fight.  He's not suffering any more, and for that we are grateful, but it still seems so shocking that he is gone.

My heart goes out to Laurie and her Mom and brothers.  I can't even imagine, don't want to imagine, losing my Dad. Laurie had a chance to say goodbye, thank God.  She came to see him before they left for California, and he was awake and alert and they spoke.  Shortly after she left, he slipped into a coma, from the morphine, I think.

I felt icky all day, tired and lethargic and unable to move or do much, but then evening came and I had a deep desire to get on my bike and pedal along the waterfront.  So I drove to the mall, parked, hopped on my bike, and took off on a lovely long ride.  I started riding at 7:45 and finished my ride at 10:25...so close to 3 hours. I stopped a LOT to take photos, but only stopped to rest on benches twice, and didn't sit for long. Once was to cool down, and once to eat a granola bar.

Here are some photos I took this evening.

My route tonight
Above, you can see the route I took, there and back.  It's the longest I've ridden so far.
The first set of photos were taken at the Waterfront, along the hub trail that runs along side the boardwalk.

Bondar pavillion


Norgoma and my bike

Near Bushplane Museum
The trail goes down past the City Hall, Art Gallery, and Library, and then goes back to Bay St near the Old Stone House.
Old stone house.

Bush Plane
The path follows Bay St. until the turn for the Bushplane Museum, and then it follows the waterfront again.

Weird freighter

Behind old hospitals.
It goes along behind the old hospital,s and then comes out on Queen.  I followed the bike path, now on the street, until the intersection near my old house, Pine and Queen Streets.
My old house, second from corner.
My old house is the second from the corner.  I turned right onto Pine and followed it down to the Marina.

Add caption
The Marina was lovely at sunset.

I love watching the geese take wing.
The sun set, and the moon rose; almost a full moon.  It was beautiful.

I followed the path from the marina to Belleview Park.  Mac, Ben, and I used to walk here almost every night when we lived at the old place. We did this for years.

Belleview Park

Then I cycled through Belleview Park, past the duck pond and around the grave of the guy who used to live there.
Pond at Belleview Park

Bridge over Pond

Sunset over International Bridge

It was starting to get dark but I decided to bike around Topsail Island, the leash free zone.  I used to take Annie and Sandy and Mac, and Benji here, until Mac became too upset around other dogs.

Topsail Island

It got quite dark on Topsail Island once the sun set because there are no lights on the Island.

I quickly rode back to the Marina.

This cute little Chipmunk was sitting on the fence at the top of the hill on Pine, just before Queen.
I rode back down Queen and hopped back onto the bike path at the turn to the old hospitals.

Then I followed the path back behind the old hospitals to the bushplane museum.  The Yankcanuck looks like a ghost ship at night.

The fountain near the art gallery was all lit up again, and so was the bridge, in the background.

Time I got back to truck.

I was very tired when I got back to the truck and could barely lift my bike up to put it inside.  It just barely fits in my blazer.  I was very happy to come home, wash up, change, and settle into my recliner with a big Mr. Freeze.