Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Last 10 Years . . .

In spite of my Ontario Wanderer Instagram and Blog name, during this past decade I have wandered less than any other decade of my life. I have, in fact, only lived at one address, with Fleur-Ange Lamothe, for the whole decade which is the first time in my life that I have been at one address for 10 years. (During the other 6 decades of my life I had 21 other addresses in addition to being homeless for a few months; I  wandered through 32 states, all of the Canadian Provinces, one Canadian Territory and 15 countries.) 

During this decade I only wandered in 2 new countries and have done the majority of my wandering within 20 km of home. (Well, there was the 480 km walk that I did with Fleur-Ange and her friend Pauline from Montreal to Massachusetts in 2014….)

During earlier decades I spent a lot of time swimming, cross country skiing, biking, canoe tripping, hiking, leading wild flower walks and running in addition to working as a student, camp maintenance worker, lifeguard, swimming instructor, child care worker and elementary school teacher before retiring from work. 

This decade I have volunteered as a worker at an organic farm, been a helper in the Royal Botanical Garden Herbarium, volunteered with Fleur-Ange as a co-wild flower walk leader and continued long distance running. 

Other than being happy at staying at one address for ten years, I am most pleased to have finished 6 five km races, 11 ten km races, 1 twelve and a half km cross country race, 13 half marathons races, 5 thirty km Round-the-Bay races and 2 marathons.

I wonder if I can keep running for another decade.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

November Flowers

            The 8th of November was the last day I was able to get some good late fall wild flower photos. We got some snow the next day and a lot more on the 11th. We actually had a record snow on the 11th along with record low temperatures. There have been very few flowers to photograph since then, ie. only Witch Hazel shrubs that are blooming well above the snow. 

            Following are three wild flowers that I found on the Hamilton Waterfront Trail on the 8th of November:

            The Sticky Groundsel, (Senecio viscous), aka Sticky Ragwort or séneçon visqueux in French, grows under the 403 bridge next to the Waterfront Trail.

            I found the Mad Dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) or scutellaire latériflore in French, by accident as I was trying to photograph a sow thistle. The skullcap flowers are quite small and growing in rocks by the side of the Hamilton Harbour.

            The Thin-leaved Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), or symphorine blanche in French, grows in various places along the Waterfront Trail.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

November 3rd Road-2-Hope Half Marathon

        Here is the map of the half marathon course. The start is at the Arcelor-Mittal Dofasco Park where there is a large building with a gym, meeting rooms, etc.
            Kilometres 2 through 6.5 were against the wind this year. From km 6.5 to km 16 the route is mostly downhill on the Hamilton Red Hill Expressway. The last 5 km are along the Waterfront Trail with two way traffic about half that distance. 

            Here I am, dark and early, after being dropped off by Fleur-Ange who has been my official chauffeur for quite a few years now. It makes the race easier as I do not have to be at the end of the course to catch a bus even earlier.

            Even though I was early, there were already quite a few runners in the gym. The first bus had already dropped off the first set of runners. Nevertheless, I got to find a place to sit by the wall so I had support for my back during the wait.

            Most of the runners sat quietly, did some chatting and stretched while waiting for the races to start. Meanwhile, there was one runner who ran, skipped, hopped, and did various twisting steps for at least 40 minutes before the run. I did not see his number so I have no way of knowing if all that pre-exercise helped him in the race.

            The photo shows my long shadow as the sun is just over the horizon and the not so long lines for the porta-potties; not so long unless one really need to get there before the starting gun.

            I always line up near the back of the group of runners. 1. Because I do not like being in crowds and 2. because it feels like it takes energy away from me when I am passed and, conversely, I get a  bit of a charge of energy when I can pass anyone. (That happens less and less these days.)

            Here we are about 4 km into the run running against a 24 km wind. I saw several of the runners just ahead of me for most of the run.

            At this point in the run, we have gone just over 7 km and are starting down the expressway. The thin blue line above the trees at the bottom and before the more distant hills is Lake Ontario.

            The steeper part of the Red Hill Expressway has started by km 8 and the runners are spreading out more and more.

            Here is the reason for the name of the expressway. It looks a lot redder when all the leaves are green.

            Here is one of the "official" Road2Hope photos as I crossed over the bridge that goes over the Queen Elizabeth Way's 6 or 8 lanes of traffic. The noise is dreadful and it is always windy on the bridge so I took off my hat to keep it from flying away into the traffic below. Ian is hiding behind me as he is not an official runner in the race. He has come out two years in a row for this race to help pace me and give me encouragement. (Thanks again Ian!)

            Fleur-Ange took this photo of Ian and I as we ran along the waterfront trail about 2 km from the end of the race.

            Here is another "official" Road2Hope photo just seconds before I crossed the finish line.

            Another photo of me taken by Fleur-Ange while I was still waiting for my 2nd in the age-group metal. For some reason it took about a half hour for the word to get to the metal people that I had finished 2nd. Meanwhile, it was cold and very windy as one can see by the space blanket blowing behind me instead of keeping me warm.

            Here is my finishing metal, my 2nd place 75-79 age group metal and my prize cup for finishing 2nd. Now I am just waiting for the soreness to go away.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Some Fall Photos

Thin-leaved Coneflowers are still in bloom

This Great Egret was on the edge of Cootes Paradise

I often see Strawberry flowers in October
 but seldom see the fruit. 
(It was delicious!)

Most of the Mulleins have finished blooming
but this one lost its calendar

This is our now unused chicken coop 

The moon was showing only about 4 % 
on the 26th of October

We had a foggy run on October 26.
The bridge was frost slippery too.

A friend took this photo of me
on our fog run.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Re Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic

       I am taking a second course from the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic. This one is an "Introduction to British Folklore".

            The first section of the course is on British Ballads as collected by Francis James Child. It was suggested in the course that in many of the ballads, there was a practice of "leaping and lingering", where the ballad would move from one thought or place to another very quickly with no explanation and then linger at a new thought or place for a time before leaping again. As a creative quest, it was suggested that one might fill in a gap in a ballad in some manner.

            Back in the 60's, when I was singing folksongs with my guitar in various places, I used to sing a song that was made popular by Joan Baez. She identified it as a Child ballad called "Geordie". Due to my current studies on British ballads I have discovered that her "Geordie," was a new version of about a dozen versions that Child had collected. Her version was much simplified and much shorter. I have no idea who or when this new version was made. Perhaps it was Joan herself?

            Minutes ago I read in a Wikipedia article that there are "about 129 distinct versions - 40 from England, 27 from Scotland, 2 from Ireland, 52 from the United States and 8 from Canada." Amazing!

            Back to the task at hand: because there were two sites mentioned in the Child version 209F that I could identify, I chose to work with that version.

            Here is the complete 209F Geordie version from 

 ‘GEORDIE Lukely is my name,
  And many a one doth ken me; O
  Many an ill deed I hae done,
  But now death will owrecome me. O
209F.2  ‘I neither murdered nor yet have I slain,
  I never murdered any;
  But I stole fyfteen o the king’s bay horse,
  And I sold them in Bohemia.
209F.3  ‘Where would I get a pretty little boy,
  That would fain win gold and money,
  That would carry this letter to Stirling town,
  And give it to my lady?’
209F.4  ‘Here am I, a pretty little boy,
  That wud fain win gold and money;
  I’ll carry your letter to Stirling town,
  And give it to your lady.’
209F.5  As he came in by Stirling town
  He was baith weet and weary;
  The cloth was spread, and supper set,
  And the ladies dancing merry.
209F.6  When she read the first of it,
  She was baith glad and cheery;
  But before she had the half o’t read,
  She was baith sad and sorry.
209F.7  ‘Come saddle to me the bonnie dapple gray,
  Come saddle to me the wee poney;
  For I’ll awa to the king mysell,
  And plead for my ain love Geordie.’
209F.8  She gaed up the Cannogate,
  Amang the puir folk monie;
  She made the handfus o red gold fly,
  And bade them pray for Geordie,
  And aye she wrang her lily-white hands,
  Saying, I am a wearyd lady!
209F.9  Up and spoke the king himsell,
  And oh, but he spok bonnie!
  ‘It’s ye may see by her countenance
  That she is Geordie’s lady.’
209F.10  Up and spoke a bold bluidy wretch,
  And oh, but he spoke boldly!
  ‘Tho [thou] should pay ten thousand pounds,
  Thou’ll never get thy own love Geordie.
209F.11  ‘For I had but ae brother to mysell,
  I loved him best of any;
  They cutted his head from his fair bodie,
  And so will they thy love Geordie.’
209F.12  Up and spoke the king again,
  And oh, but he spak bonnie!
  ‘If thou’ll pay me five thousand pound,
  I’ll gie thee hame thy love Geordie.’
209F.13  She put her hand in her pocket,
  She freely paid the money,
  And she’s awa to the Gallows Wynd,
  To get her nain love Geordie.
209F.14  As she came up the Gallows Wynd,
  The people was standing many;
  The psalms was sung, and the bells was rung,
  And silks and cords hung bonnie.
209F.15  The napkin was tyed on Geordie’s  face,
  And the hangman was just readie:
  ‘Hold your hand, you bluidy wretch!
  O hold it from my Geordie!
  For I’ve got a remit from the king,
  That I’ll get my ain love Geordie.’
209F.16  When he heard his lady’s voice,
  He was baith blythe and merry:
  ‘There’s many ladies in this place,
  Have not I a worthy ladie?’
209F.17  She mounted him on the bonnie dapple grey,
  Herself on the wee poney,
  And she rode home on his right hand,
  All for the pride o Geordie."

            According to Google Earth, it is about 50 kilometres from
Stirling to Canongate as the crow flies.

(Continued on the next blog entry . . .)


Re Carterhaugh part 2

From Google Earth
The portion of Scotland that includes
both Sterling and Canongate

            According to the "Geordie" text, Geordie sent a young boy from Canongate to Sterling with a letter to his wife who was in Sterling. He leaves at the end of 209.F4 and arrives at the beginning of 209F5. The boy arrives "baith weet and weary" in time for supper. I am not surprised that he is wet and weary as a 50 km walk, run or horse ride would take some time and effort. 

            (Having just participated in a trail run where some men and women ran 50 km on trails, I have some appreciation of the effort. I did 1/4 of the run, i.e. 12.5 km and that was a bit of a challenge for me. The winners of the 50 km run did the distance in about 4 hours but I am thinking that distance in Scotland would take a bit longer plus the 50 km was a crow's flight path not the path of a person through hills and bogs which would have been longer.)

            Following are some photos taken by a variety of people of some of the scenery between Canongate and Sterling and posted on Google Earth. The names of the photographers are on the photos. None are mine. I have taken the liberty of subtracting some "modern" buildings from the original photos so the areas look more like what would have been present in earlier days


Canongate Tolbooth
This building was built in 1591
It was a toll booth for the road going into Edinburgh
It was also the courthouse and burgh jail
So it would have been the place where Geordie
would have been, if the 209F ballad were based on truth.

            On the walk/ride to Sterling, there would have been many, many streams to cross. This one was just a a few miles west of Canongate.

            Barnbougle Castle was first built in the 13th century and was about 10 km west of Canongate. The body of water, called the "Firth of Forth" is a long fjord that was left from the last glacial period. Almost the entire distance from Canongate to Sterling is first along the firth and then along the Forth river.

            Much of the distance between Canongate and Sterling must have been through fields near the edge of the firth.

            Blackness Castle was built in the 15th century. (Sorry about the modern sailboats. They were too much work to take out quickly.) The castle was on the edge of the firth and just over 20 km from Canongate. It is on a bit of a spit into the firth so it might have been a bit out of the way for the trip to Sterling but then it might have been a good lunch stop.

            It spite of how it looks, the firth is getting narrower. This area is about 30 km from Canongate. Only 20 km to go to get to Sterling.

            This area is only 8 kilometres away from Sterling. The Forth River flows into the firth less than a kilometre away from here.

            This is the Forth River only a kilometre from Sterling. The hills in the background are larger now.

            When I found this photo, there was an old looking monument at the top of the cliff that overlooks the city of Sterling. When I discovered that it was actually built in the late 1800's I removed it. However, it was built to commemorate Sir William Wallace who was born around 1270 so he would have been a Scottish hero during Geordie's time so there is that connection.

            Not much time is spent lingering in Sterling as the heroine of the ballad leaves in 209F.7 and leaps to Canongate in 209F.8 to plead for the life of Geordie. (You can look at the photos in reverse order for her pony ride.)

           In this version, she is successful at saving Geordie. Yea!

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Butter-and-eggs Flower

aka Common Toadflax
Linaire vulgaire
(Linaria vulgaris)
[lin-AR-ee-uh   vul-GAIR-iss]

Monday, October 07, 2019

Elecampane Seed Head

Inule aunée
(Inula helenium)
[IN-yoo-luh  hel-EE-nee-um]

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Run for the Toad - 12.5 k Trail Race


Map of the run - note all the contour lines - 
lots of ups and downs

Pinehurst Lake - Colours are just starting to change
Frost on the windshield this morning!

Opening ceremonies for the last Toad Run to happen
12.5 / 25 / 50 km runs today

(Had some video coverage of the children's run but it is not working)

I started at the back of the pack. 
It took a couple of minutes to get to the start line.

Beautiful day for a trail run.
Only a little bit was out in the open.
Most was up and down under tree cover.

The steepest hill was just before the 11 km mark.

Tough climb!

Always nice to have encouragement.

My usual look of exhaustion
at the end of a race.

Wendy, Barb and I after the race.
Some of us had more time to recuperate than others.