• Welcome to LydiaSchoch.com

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1. If you visit a new city, you immediately look for the nearest bookstore or library.

2. If you’ve ever taken a cruise, packing enough reading material is more important than remembering that extra outfit or having room for a souvenir.

3.You quote your favourite books without necessarily mentioning where those quotes came from.

4.You get excited when you meet someone who enjoys the same genre(s) you do.

5. If you’ve ever been hospitalized, you ask for new reading material when loved ones ask you what they can do to make your stay more comfortable.

photo of woman lying down on a stone wall while holding the pages of a book open.

6. You give baby-friendly board books as presents to families with new babies.

7. You’ve dreamt about your favourite characters or worlds.

8.Your local librarian recognizes you when they see you somewhere other than the library.

9. If you use online dating sites, your love of books is mentioned somewhere in your profile and you screen new potential partners at least in part based by whether or not they’re a reader.

10. Your pets get to have a story time, too.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in March

Note: I wrote this post in early March before Toronto began shutting down businesses and public places in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There were no restrictions on travel, spending time near other people, or park usage at the time of my visit. What April’s post in this series will be like still remains to be seen. I will do my best to visit it again if I’m still healthy and we’re allowed to walk through the park at that point. 

This is the second instalment of a monthly photography series I started back in February. Each month I will share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year.

As I mentioned last month, this is a slushy, muddy, and unpredictable season that has only grown sloppier and more unpredictable as climate change has disrupted our traditional weather patterns.

The  interesting thing about this part of the year is that we never know in advance what to expect. Will there be a blizzard? Will we have sunny, spring-like weather? Everything can change in a day or even over the course of a few hours while winter is slowly giving way to proper spring weather.

It turns out that the temperature on March’s visit was 10 C, exactly the same as it was on the day I visited in February. That wasn’t so much as coincidence as me not wanting to do this photoshoot when it was 0 C and raining outside. Ha!

Photo of a World War I monument at a Toronto park. There are bare tree branches in the background and dry steps leading up to the monument in the foreground.

The monument I blogged about last month had a reprieve from the snow and ice of February.

A dirt running trail at a park. Part of the trail is filled with mud and a little water.

The running trail I shared earlier has changed as well. It was less muddy when I visited it this time, although this is something that will continue to fluctuate quite a bit for at least the next month.

If you look at the background, you’ll see two people using that trail! Other than the reduction of snow piles, the biggest difference between last month and this one is that there were about a dozen other people and a few friendly dogs using this park during my visit.

Bare tree branches against a blue sky.

You’ll notice no changes in the foliage this time. Everything is brown and dead or dormant now. April is the absolute soonest I’d expect to see any greenery in Toronto, and it generally remains somewhat rare for most species until closer to the end of that month. Dead leaves on the ground.

You can still see leaves on the ground from last autumn.

A tree that is still covered in brown, dead leaves.

And some trees still haven’t released their leaves from last autumn. I hope this little one survived the winter.

A bird's nest in a dormant, leafless, tree.

One of the really cool things about March is that you can see last year’s bird nests in the trees. I’ve read that some species here return to the same nest every spring to raise another brood of chicks.

Sights like this aren’t possible once the trees have leaves again. You can hear the chicks peeping sometimes if you walk right underneath their home tree, but it’s hard to spot their nests in May or June. A dirty patch of snow on a sidewalk. There is a blue glove and many leaves stuck in the snow.

Yes, we still have snow here and there. If anyone is missing a blue glove, I know where you lost it!

Toronto can get snow in April, too, although it generally melts fairly quickly.

A photo of a park in March. The trees are bare and the ground is brown. But there is no snow on it.

We definitely have less snow than my previous visit, though. Look how clear the ground is. In month or two, I’ll be able to walk on it without getting mud all over my shoes. For now, I’m sticking to the mostly-dry sidewalk.

A dead tree. The top half has been shorn off and is lying on the ground. Was it damaged in a storm?

My final photo is a sad one.

One of the trees in this park didn’t survive our winter storms. I saw a couple of other trees that had sustained minor damage, but this one is unfortunately gone for good. The last time this happened, the city cleared away the stump and debris before planting a new sapling in its place several months later.

I hope to share photos of that new sapling whenever it arrives. If this happens after the conclusion of this series, I’ll write an addendum to it.

My Final Update on My Walk to Mordor

Photo of red, mountainous region that looks like Mordor
Photo Credit: Dawn Endico

Last spring I blogged about my plans to walk to Mordor. I updated my progress at the end of August when I was a third of the way through with it and again in November when I was about two-thirds finished.

For anyone who needs a refresher or wasn’t following me when this series began, Walk to Mordor is a free app that lets you chart your miles walked every day and gives you updates on where Frodo and Sam were when they’d travelled the same distance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As I mentioned in previous updates, my kilometres logged varied quite a bit once again for the last third of the journey. I came down with influenza for the first time in many years at the end of December. It was an unpleasant experience that slowed down my progress in this journey. Some days I only logged a kilometre or two of walking, and the recovery period took a while as well.

It’s probably a good thing that none of the good guys in the Lord of the Rings saga caught the flu while they were travelling. They would have been in for a pretty miserable time if they had. Although maybe the elves would have had a secret remedy for that illness?

Pandemic Distraction

Finishing up this trek was a nice distraction, especially during the last part of it when Coronavirus began shutting down so many places to go in Toronto. I’m quite lucky to be able to work from home, but the days do feel long now that I only leave home for walks and occasional visits to the grocery store or drug store.

Reading updates on where Frodo and Sam were and what they were doing in the last third of their adventure has been a wonderful distraction. The challenges we face are obviously quite different from theirs, but I’m seeing interesting parallels between their journey and what we’re all facing this spring.

Like Sam and Frodo, we live in dangerous times where the future is uncertain. All we can do is put one foot in front of the other and do our best to keep pressing forward.

I Recommend This App

Screenshot of progress on Lord of the Rings walking app. It shows that all destinations have been reached. I’d definitely recommend checking out this app to anyone who is interested in the fantasy genre, keeping track of their fitness goals, and/or getting distracted by something useful.

As I mentioned earlier in this series, this is something that can be used for competitive or  non-competitive purposes. There are no time limits on how long you can use it. People who want to push themselves to walk or run more often can do so, but it’s also accessible to folks who move at a slower pace or who don’t like the idea of turning exercise into a competition.

Reading the plot updates is reward enough. There was no need to add any extra layers of pressure to this game, so I’m glad the developer kept it so simple.

The image in this section of the post shows what the screen looks like after you complete all of the challenges. It was nice to see that long, green list of completed challenges.

One of the things I did have trouble with while participating in this challenge was remembering to log my kilometres walked every day. The app doesn’t have any sort of notification system to remind you to do that. Sometimes I’d have to log several days to a week’s worth of activity. Once I got very behind and logged about a month’s worth of data at once!

With that being said, this is a free game, so I wouldn’t expect it to have all of the bells and whistles that a paid app would have.

If anyone knows of similar games out there, I’d sure like to hear about them. It’s never too early to start planning for amusing things to use next winter.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things to Do in the Spring

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I’ve been looking forward to this prompt for weeks. Spring is my favourite season, and it’s the nicest time of year in Ontario in my opinion! Some of the things on this list aren’t currently an option this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic and how much Toronto has been shut down to contain the spread of it, but my hope is that I can do all of these things next spring.

But all of items on this list are either free or inexpensive. As I’ve said on this blog before, I’m a frugal, minimalistic person who is easily amused. There simply isn’t a reason for me to spend a lot on entertainment the vast majority of the time.

So what tops my list of fun stuff to do in the spring?

Parks. Yes, I gave this as an answer last year for the Favourite Things to Do in the Summer prompt. I enjoy visiting parks even more during mild spring weather for picnics, walks, outdoor exercise, and maybe even a few minutes on the swing set if there’s a swing available.

The nice thing about this time of the year is that the sun hasn’t reached its full strength yet. While I always need protect my skin and eyes for medical reasons, I can spend more time outdoors now than in July or August.

Photography.  I love walking around and looking for new subjects for my photography hobby. Mild weather makes it easy to keep wandering until I’ve taken as many pictures as I want to before heading home to sort and edit them.

Festivals. There are very few parades in the spring in Toronto, but this is the beginning of festival season. I love getting out and about after a long winter spent mostly cooped indoors. There’s nothing like feeling the warm sun on your back as you listen to music or eat a delicious meal there.

Vegan Restaurants. I’m not vegan, but I love visiting vegan restaurants because they’re some of the only places on Earth I can go and order dessert due to my milk allergy! I usually don’t order  a full meal at them. A bowl of cashew ice cream or a brownie is more than enough to satisfy me. It’s cheaper, too, to have dinner at home and only pay for dessert when I’m out and about.

Farmers’ Markets. Have you noticed the food theme of this post? I honestly hadn’t thought about how many of my favourite things involve food in some way before I started writing it. But I think it’s a good idea to buy fresh, local produce at farmers’ markets to support local farms when possible. There are also some foods like gooseberries for sale there that I rarely see at conventional grocery stores.

A duck and her three ducklings swimming in a pond.Streams, Lakes, and Ponds. If Toronto were near the ocean, I would have added that to this list, too. Whether I’m paddling on them, sitting quietly on a ferry gliding through them, or watching from the edge of a watery place as duck families swim by, I love being near water no matter what form it takes. (Swimming isn’t on this list because it’s usually too chilly to swim outdoors in Ontario until summer begins).

Doors Open Toronto. Every spring, Toronto has a weekend where all sorts of historical buildings open to the public so we can see their architecture, get a glimpse of their areas that normally only staff members can see, and learn more about their history. This is the sort of nerdy, educational event that I adore.