Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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2012 in 2012 Challenge

The Sore Foot Medal

The Sore Foot Medal

“I’ve done it! Yeah!”

I announced this to my walking group at the end of class the other night, and my friends came around to congratulate me. They all knew what was going on. For me, it was also a first in my life–I walked 2012 Km in 2012!

In January this year, many of us committed ourselves to this 2012 in 2012 Challenge initiated by our walking coach Lee Scott and our goal was to walk 2012 Km in the year 2012. The only rule was to exclude walking indoors (except for treadmill training), and walking from the car park to the shops or to the office. The idea was to power walk, or at least walk briskly enough to bring our heart rates up to achieve some health benefits. Hiking was acceptable too.

The Challenge started on January 1, 2012 and ended on December 22, 2012. Translated into actual walking routine, we were aiming for a weekly distance of 42 Km, and a monthly total of 167.76 Km. As ongoing reinforcement, we sent in our mileage at the end of each month, and the names of people who had walked 167.76 Km were entered into a draw for a gift.  We also received a gift coupon for shoes or clothing at the 800 Km and 1600 Km mark. By the end of November, some of us have reached the goal of 2012 Km. Several of us were still working hard. Due to my travelling earlier in the year, I was still walking in December. I knew I would do it, and that I could do it too.

During the year, I won a monthly draw and I loved the cap, the mitts, the shoe laces and a log book I received. I also bought shoes and clothing with my 800 Km and 1600 Km coupons.

The big day was our end of year walk that our head coach had  organized to bring people together to celebrate our achievements over coffee, tea and hot cider, as well as muffins and cookies. We gathered at Sovereign House, a building belonging to the Bronte Historical Society and ceremoniously walked 8 Km.

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Those of us who completed the challenge were awarded The Sore Foot Medal (see above) for keepsake. It was a lovely way to end the year in which I learned that my perseverance to walk 2012 Km has improved my fitness and maintained my weight. Challenge or no challenge in the coming year, I am already committed to leading a healthy lifestyle and to continue with my hiking and power walking!

Cheer Leading At The Boxing Day 10-Miler, Hamilton

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Who would like to participate in a race on Boxing Day?  There were over 800 runners and walkers out there in Hamilton, Ontario to take part in the Boxing Day 10-Miler, organized by the Harriers. Races in Hamilton had a long history, and this race was in its 92nd year. Three Olympic runners also signed up for this race.  I had chosen to  support my running and walking friends, including my husband by cheering in the race, and I could enjoy the race from a different perspective.

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It had snowed the night before, and the temperature was minus 1 degree Centigrade when the race started. There was a head wind giving a wind chill of minus 10 degrees Centigrade. The Start Line was on Hunter Street, next to the GO Station. The organizers were supportive of a walking division and gave the walkers a half-hour early start.

After seeing my husband and other power walkers off, I walked down to Bay Street in the city centre, bought myself a coffee and waited for the runners to come by. The police cruiser led the way for the front pack who took off way ahead of the others.

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The route was familiar to me since my walking buddies and I often trained on this route. At the end of Bay Street, the race course turned into the trail along the Lake to Princess Point. The racers would go up a hill of 500 metres (Longwood Drive), went through Westdale and turned up another hill at the Chedoke Golf Course to walk along the Niagara Escarpment  (I took this photo during our training walk last week.)

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After cheering the runners past, I walked back towards the Finish Line. What a change of weather we had, and this morning, the streets were wet and slippery. I took a picture from the bottom of the hill–up there in the background was the trail on the Escarpment and the racers would come down this hill, knowing that they were close to the finish, because literally, it’s all downhill from here.

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The route passed the back of the Hamilton City Hall.

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Further downhill and the GO station came into sight.

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Around the corner was the Finish Line, and there I was fortunate enough to get this candid shot of the snow plow clearing a path to lead to the Finish.

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I was well in time to see the first runner come in and it was a strong finish of 51:42, given the not so favourable climate and route today. Look at the awesome form the athlete maintained at the end of the race:

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I waited for my husband and my friends to come in, and we all enjoyed the generous treat of hot soup, fruits and cup cakes inside the YMCA building.

The finishers were awarded a snowman medal (so cute!), and there were really nice souvenirs available for the race this year. All the people I cheered on enjoyed the race in spite of the weather. Maybe I should contemplate walking it next year.

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Cookies for Christmas

When the children are old enough to bake, they become such a great help at Christmas time. We have eight     different kinds of cookies with contributions from my daughters and myself. We have been treating ourselves to these goodies since Christmas Eve, and on this Christmas Day, they will be placed nicely in platters to serve to relatives when they come around.

I enjoy the good food and the good cheer at Christmas, and my motto is: Indulge and then work out!

A Christmas Messiah at Knox Presbyterian Church

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The very fact that a church choir of about 30 vocalists can showcase a concert to the public of Handel’s Messiah is a testament of the calibre of its singers and their choir director. I am speaking of the Senior Choir of Knox Presbyterian Church in downtown Toronto. After I had purchased tickets for The Messiah in Burlington with the Brott Music Festival 2012, my daughter invited me and my husband to the Messiah performed at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto. I cannot be more thrilled with my second live performance of this beautiful oratorio composition this Christmas season.

The Knox Presbyterian Church was built in early 1900 and the Church officially moved to this site in 1909. The architecture of the building encompasses the simplicity yet decorative splendour of the Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival style.

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I looked around: the beautiful vaulted ceiling, the stained glass windows, the beautiful Casavant organ and the Christmas wreathes. I felt ready to enjoy The Messiah.

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The evening began with a short worship with prayers and hymns, which we sang to the accompaniment of the the orchestra. The Handbell Ensemble of the church gave a performance of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.The bells came in different sizes and the players sometimes switched bells to ring out the right notes with impressive agility.

The programme included reading of commentaries in between the recitatives and arias of the Messiah. The texts were based on the book entitled Understanding Handel’s Messiah by Dr. Kariano DiGangi, a former minister of the Church. I had not come across the book before; I liked the comforting and reassuring words. The choir delivered beautifully. I want to single out the duet for Alto (Chelsea Sauer) and Soprano (Anna Casurella) in He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd. The vocalists sang with professional calibre and their voices were so compatible with each other that their parts coalesce into one duet. Choir Director Roger Bergs conducted from the harpsichord. This certainly was a feat, especially the instrumentalists were guests invited to form the orchestra, and it was understandable that on the odd occasion the coherence of the choir impressed more than the orchestra.

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Only half of the Messiah was presented, and the concert ended with the chorus Life Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates and the Hallelujah Chorus. It was an evening of a musical as well as spiritual journey. After a short prayer and the hymn The First Noel, we left the church and walked into the winter night, ready to welcome Christmas.

It was also announced that the Easter portion of the Messiah would be performed next Spring. I will mark the date on my calendar.

KnoxDay     Knox Presbyterian Church, 630 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

Walking on Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice arrived in Canada on Friday, December 21 at 6:10 a.m EST this year. Snow was in the forecast, but when I woke up this morning, the ground was only slightly wet from last night’s rain. I had planned for a walk before the poor weather set in.  It was a cool morning and still dark when I headed out.  When I arrived at Princess Point of Cootes Paradise in Hamilton, the first winter sun was beginning to rise.

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I had not walked on this trail for a while and one thing that I distinctly noticed was a much bigger beaver dam. This was a feature I noticed earlier in the year on the Desjardins Recreation Trail. It was evident that the beaver and its family were not only around, but were making their home bigger with the unfortunate result of damaging the vegetation on the trail.

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As I continued on, I was surprised to see the ducks still out. Like me, they were probably taking advantage of the weather to have another workout before winter set in. I guess on my next walk, the water will be frozen.

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My walk this morning took me to Hamilton Yacht Club, and this was where I turned around.

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I have felt refreshed after my walk and both body and mind are ready to enjoy Christmas with its festivities and socialization. I often feel hopeful on the day of Winter Solstice. Tonight will be the longest night. After tonight, the day will begin to get shorter and this is certainly worth looking forward to.

Ristorante Julia: Dining “LataLiano”

My friends who lived in Oakville, Ontario recommended me to take my out-of-town friends to dine at Julia. The moment I opened the website of the restaurant, I was attracted to the Latin music in the background. “Latialiano”–this was how the website described the type of cuisine. We decided to give this “sensuous and savory Traditional Italian cuisine with exotic and fiery New Latin cuisine” a try.

The restaurant had a warm ambience, but the decor was neither Italian nor Latin, albeit Latin music was playing in the background.

(Source: torontorestaurants.com)

We ordered four different starters to sample. The Crab and Salmon Cakes came with a very generous helping of salad.

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The Crab Dip was delicious with the corn tortilla, yucca chips and grilled flour tortilla.

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The mussels chimichurri was aromatic and could easily be shared by two.

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So was the Latin skillet shrimp which has a tasty sauce with lime, garlic and oregano.

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For entree, two of us opted for the braised ribs, which was tender and tasty.

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The sweet potato crusted salmon for the two fish lovers was nicely presented and seared just right.

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We were quite full by the end of the meal and decided not to have desserts. Service was attentive and friendly. For the price, we had very generous helpings. The food was very good, although we felt that we were unable to pinpoint exactly what was meant by Latin-Italiano cuisine and the description of the food being ‘sensuous’ in the website was missing in the tasting.

Ristorante Julia, 312 Lakeshore Road East, Oakvile, Ontario.

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