Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Toy Shoppe of London (Ontario)

My granddaughter will be one-year-old come Thursday and so today my wife and I happily headed off for The Toy Shoppe of London in search of some small gifts for the little girl. We found a small, red rattle which we know she'll love. It's the right colour --- red. And she loves to shake things. Shake a rattle and it, well, it rattles. Perfect.

We also found a plush, bright red, ladybug. Need I say more?

And finally we found the perfect little book: Red is Best. Actually, we didn't find it. A lady at the store suggested it when we mentioned how much Fiona loves red. The book is perfect.

Speaking of perfect, The Toy Shoppe of London is almost perfect. There's a good reason why it has been a continuing success since the early 1990s.

Monday, August 30, 2010


This yellow brick Ontario cottage style building on the south shore of the Thames River in the west end of London is the city's former pumping station. Built in 1878 to house the city's waterworks, the pumping station took water originating in Coombs Springs, and collected in various holding ponds in the Springbank Park area, and pumped it to the city's hilltop reservoir. From there, the water flowed into the city distribution system.

The hydraulic pressure to pump the water was supplied by the Thames River and parts of the old dam are still visible today.

The pumping station was in use until 1967, at which time Lake Huron water became available.

An imaginative woman I know thinks the old waterworks building could be turned into a wonderful riverfront restaurant with summer patio. I wonder if the city has every considered doing a little placemaking using the old place. I think my friend is onto something.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kayaking on the Thames, London, Ontario

Last weekend I ran images from a local company's team building event --- a run down the Thames River starting at the Springbank Dam in London and ending at a small town west of town. My health has not been the greatest lately and so I am pulling another image from that day's shoot. Thanks for the patience.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My inspiration

What's in here?
My granddaughter is not quite a year old but she is my inspiration. She doesn't just sit on her keister and . . . Oh! Wait! Come to think of it, that's exactly what she does.

Pretty good, eh?
She can't walk, and she's not fond of being placed on the floor face down. This makes crawling difficult. So, she scoots about on her keister. And, she is not cool about her discovery of keister-scooting; she likes to take a moment, turn around, and flash a smile of pride. She gloats.

At 11 months she has become an explorer. She explores my home. She does her keister-scoot from bedroom to kitchen and all points in between. She has discovered where her tub-toys are kept, in the bathroom, and her thick-paged books, in the living room.

The little tyke can't do a lot but what she can do, she does. She squeezes every bit of pleasure from her days.

Like I said, she's my inspiration.

My tub-toys!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Water Strider or Pond Skater

Water striders on the still water at the edge of the Thames River in London, Ont.
Much of the following information was found on a U of T (University of Toronto) Web page.

Today's picture features water striders, the familiar semi-aquatic bugs often sighted gliding across the surface of the Thames River at the water's edge where the current is slow and the water almost still. These bugs have a novel body form that allows them to walk on water. According to the U of T, this was not always the case.

To achieve this gliding ability required the evolution of a unique arrangement of the legs, with the mid-legs greatly elongated. Scientists at the U of T's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology have discovered the gene behind this evolutionary change, the Hox gene.

U ot T research scientists found it not only lengthened the mid-legs but shortened the hind-legs, creating an unusual body form that allows water striders to glide on the water surface. They glide along taking advantage of the water's surface tension. They apply just the right amount of force as they skate along. If too much energy was used, they would break the surface tension.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Japanese Beetle in Ontario

A Japanese beetle sighted in Komoka Provincial Park near London, Ontario.
The following is from Wikipedia:

"As the name suggests, the Japanese beetle is native to Japan. The insect was first found in the United States in 1916 in a nursery near Riverton, New Jersey. It is thought that beetle larvae entered the United States in a shipment of iris bulbs prior to 1912 when inspections of commodities entering the country began. "The first Japanese beetle found in Canada was in a tourist's car at Yarmouth, arriving in Nova Scotia by by ferry from Maine in 1939. During the same year three additional adults were captured at Yarmouth and three at Lacolle in southern Quebec."

The brightly copper toned beetle is not very destructive in Japan, where it is controlled by natural enemies, but in North America it is a serious pest of about 200 species of plants, including rose bushes, grapes, hops, and other plants. They cause damage to plants by skeletonizing the foliage, that is, consuming only the leaf material between the veins.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canoeing the Thames (in Ontario)

It was interesting to see 8 kayaks and a canoe being launched just west of the Springbank Dam in London, Ontario. The dam is not for spring flood control but rather it is for keeping the summer water level in the urban river deep enough for canoeing and kayaking.

The dam, though, doesn't work. After an overhaul a few years ago it jammed and the question of who will shoulder the repair bill will be decided by the courts.

Yet, despite the failed dam, here were kayakers and canoeists about to paddle down the river from the dam to Delaware.

This raises an interesting question: Why is the dam necessary? Why is it so important to canoe within the city limits?

Clearly, canoeing the river just outside of the city is possible without a multi-million dollar dam.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A simple snapshot

It finally rained in London, Ontario. My grass is crispy brown and the local newspaper is running stories telling people to water their trees. Many trees in town are showing signs of stress. We still need another good downpour, or two.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

21st Century Suburbia

These apartments in the southwest of London, Ontario, make the claim that they are the finest in the city. Hmmm.

For the story that goes with this picture, check out my post on Rockin' On: the blog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A forgotten basketball court behind CPRI in London.
Last week I had a friend visiting London from Montreal. He asked to see the area where a bear was shot earlier this year. Yes, you read correctly, a bear was shot deep in Southwestern Ontario --- one of the most civilized areas of North America and an area not normally bear country.

I took my friend behind the Child and Parent Resource Institute facility where the bear was found and shot. The bear was too close to jogging trails, popular walking paths and recreational areas and when it charged a police officer it was killed.

We were surprised when we found the area near the river quite deserted. Later, an institute staff member told us to forget pictures of joggers exercising behind the facility. The area was quite deserted, we were assured.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Anime in London

In the Toyko district surrounding the Yamanote Line's Harajuku Station young Japanese dressed in a variety of costumes congregate every Sunday. Today a bit of Tokyo came to London, Ontario, as a group of local teens, many dressed in Japanese anime costumes, gathered for some cosplay.

Anime (ah-NIH-may) is the Japanese word for animation. Anime in Japan, unlike in North America, often deals with serious topics and not just children's stories. For this reason, Japanese people of all ages watch anime with some getting dressed as their favourite amime character in order to take part in cosplay with friends.

But it was not just the Anime cosplayers lending an international flavour to Springbank Park today. The Falun Dafa group was again in the park quietly meditating. Click here to see original post.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Southwest London Underpath

Hiking about in the southwest of London, Ontario, I discovered an underpass for suburbanite walkers, joggers and bikers. With all the development in the area, the far western end of Commissioners Road is getting quite busy. The underpass gets local folk across the roadway without interfering with traffic flow. On the first nice day, I'll return as the path itself is worth a picture or two.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A plus for London: Toronto

An armoured general guarded the First Emperor in the afterlife.
The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army is now showing at The Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM) in Toronto.

If one goes on a Wednesday the tickets are discounted. My wife and I, and another couple, took in the show this past Wednesday. It was excellent.

ROM: Go for the Terracotta Army; Stay for the dinosaurs.

As I have mentioned before in my posts, one nice feature of living in London, Ontario, is its close proximity to Toronto. We made the drive to T.O. in a little more than two hours.

Toronto is a classic "Nice-place-to-visit-but-I-wouldn't-want-to-live-there" place in my opinion. I say that having lived there for a number of years in my youth.

Just one of the many places to grab a bite in Baldwin Village.

But T.O. really is a nice place to visit. Between the ROM and the Art Gallery of Ontario lies Baldwin Street with the Baldwin Village bistro and patio saturated row of restaurants. After the show we stopped in at the Vegetarian Haven for a vegetarian dinner before hitting the freeway for London.

Toronto really is a fun place to visit and London is blessed to be almost the perfect distance from the big city. Close enough for a day visit and yet too far away to encourage daily commutes.
Giant pencils support the canopy in front of the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. As I said, Toronto is a fun city.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Falun Dafa in Springbank Park

Not knowing a lot about the Falun Dafa group I'll keep this brief. Falun Dafa, London, is part of the Falun Gong movement which has run into serious government opposition in China. They meet on Sunday afternoons in a London park for their exercises. Last Sunday they met in Springbank Park in the Byron suburb.

Falun Dafa is active at the University of Western Ontario, the local university in London. For more info on Falun Dafa visit: www.falundafa.org.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ah, to be young!

Some folk are quite dedicated when it comes to their exercise regimen. This young women certainly is. Our photo today shows this young Londoner in the middle of her Sunday workout. She is completing thirty repetitions of climbing and then descending a long, wooden stairway leading from a parking lot to the Thames River where it flows through Springbank Park.

For notes on how this image was taken see: Rockin' On: Photography.

Friday, August 6, 2010

One tough job!

The city is doing some work on the walkway beside the Thames River running through Springbank Park in London, Ontario. The fellows making the pavement cut wear dust masks but still . . . One has to wonder how much of the dust gets through the filter.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


It is amazing how beautiful a weed like this thistle can look when viewed up close. The field near my home is a flat, snow-covered expanse in the winter. Now, in mid-summer, it is turning into a veritable jungle with some weedy growth reaching ten feet into the air. At ground level there are thousands of different colourful flowers. It is different plot of land in August.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I'll be back! That's a promise.

I've got a good reason to get my health back.
Less than two months ago I was healthy. Oh, I've had health problems and serious ones. But teamed with the wonderful medical folk here in London, Ontario, I've surmounted the worst that has occurred.

Then in mid June in Sonoma, California, I suffered a serious V-tach event with my heart racing to 300 bpm. It took an emergency cardioversion (defibrillation) of 200 joules of electricity to shock my heart back into proper rhythm. I was given beta blockers to prevent a re-occurrence.

Then in mid July in London, Ontario, I went blind temporarily in my left eye. I was off to the hospital emerg again. I had suffered a TIA event, often a precursor to a stroke. I was given Plavix, a blood thinner.

Within hours I had an MRI of my head and neck to confirm what the doctors suspected, hardening of the arteries with plaque in my carotid artery. The good news: My arteries are clean. The bad news: I have micro bleeding throughout my brain.

Tuesday I must go to the Cardiac Institute and as the month progresses I have quite the number of medical appointments. What caused the V-tach event? Why is my brain bleeding? Am I reacting poorly to the blood thinner? Should I stop the Plavix? Was the baby Aspirin I used to take responsible for the bleeding? If I do stop all blood thinners, will I put myself in position to suffer a stroke?

I am beginning to feel as if I am starring in an episode of House.

All of this is taking a great toll on my free time. My blogging has suffered. My photography just isn't happening. And worse, I haven't been able to chase some very good local stories for Digital Journal.

Sorry team. I will be back doing my small bit for citizen journalism. Just give me, and my doctors, a little time. Who knows, maybe there will be a good medical story here. Now, I must go; It's time for my beta blocker.