Category Archives: Personal Life

A Photo Essay In Memoriam of a Tree

A tree with a damaged trunk. It’s branches are straight and covered with green leaves. From February of 2020 to January of 2021, I published a series of posts showing what one of Toronto’s parks looked like in every month of the year. Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, NovemberDecember and January to read those posts.

Two of the trees in that park had been badly damaged in an ice storm in late 2019 or early 2020, and I chronicled their response to losing branches and having their trunks damaged in my early posts. In May of 2021, I shared an update on them. One seemed to recover pretty nicely while the other was deteriorating.

I am both sorry and relieved to tell you all that as of the end of July 2022, the tree that never recovered was cut down by the city.

Here is a photo of that tree in June of 2020. Even from some distance away you can see the massive wound on it’s trunk from where at least one large branch was torn away. I am not a botanist or an arborist, but it otherwise looked good in 2020. It still had most of its branches, and they stood up straight and firm.

For the sake of comparison, here is a photo from May of 2020 that shows many branches it lost. I’d guess it was about a third of them.

A large tree that has a massive branch lying on the ground. It’s probably about a third of the size of the tree’s other branches.

In retrospect, I wonder if the tree was sick before this storm. You often see small branches torn off during storms, but generally not such large ones in healthy specimens.

A large tree that has huge cracks in it’s damaged trunk.

In August of 2020, a large crack began to form in the trunk.

A tree with a large hole in its trunk. The branches have begun to bend downwards. it looks very unhealthy.

 

A month later, the remaining branches began to bend. I no longer felt safe walking underneath it and took all of my future photos by zooming in from a safe distance. Many of those branches were big enough to kill you if they fell on you.

A tree that has a large, dangerous hole in the trunk and drooping branches. the leaves have begun to change colour for the autumn.

 

It’s hard to see in this photo, but by October of 2020 the damaged portion of the trunk began to look wet and like something stringy was growing in it. Maybe it was some sort of mould or moss? I quietly observed from a distance, but things were not looking good.

Zoomed-in photo of a deeply cracked and mossy trunk.

Here’s a zoomed-in photo of it from 2021. It’s hard to see, but it looked pretty bad in person.

The  deterioration continued from there slowly but steadily each month.

A sickly, large tree with many drooping branches.

The tree did sprout new leaves in 2021, but they were noticeably more sparse than they had been in previous years. The branches began drooping more heavily as well.

An arm-sized branch that has fallen from a tree.

2021 was the year when branches began falling from the tree over and over again. I’d held out hope that it would recover in 2020, but by last year I was seeing more and more signs that it may not.

A tree stump covered in sawdust.

As of late last month, a stump and some sawdust is all that remains of that beautiful tree.

Yes, this was a good decision. The danger it posed to visitors to the park was growing stronger with each passing month, especially for anyone walking near it on a windy day.

With that being said, I will still miss hearing the wind rustle its branches and the shade it provided on hot days. When it was healthy, its branches were so large they even provided shade for the picnic table you can see in the distance of one of the above photos which is kind of amazing when you consider how small trees are at the beginning of their lives.

I wish it could have survived. May it Rest In Peace.

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Real Life Event That No One Would Believe

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.

An empty city street that has warm sunlight streaming down onto it and the brick wall of a building on it.
This isn’t our street, but it evokes the same emotions as you’d find there.

This story happened about five years ago when my spouse and I were walking down the street on a warm, sunny day on our way home. We were as alone as people could be on a busy city street when the weather is nice and everyone is out and about.

Suddenly, I felt and heard something hit my right forearm. (It didn’t hurt, but it was a surprise). My spouse heard and felt it, too. It may have brushed between us and bumped both of our arms, but neither of us could see anything on the ground below us even after searching diligently.

“That was weird,” we said as we proceeded to go home.

The last few minutes of our walk were ordinary. After we’d arrived home, removed our shoes, and washed our hands, we heard something scuttling on the walls.

I’m being precise when I choose that word. It sounded like an agile little mouse clicking sharp nails against the wall as it climbed up and down it impossibly quickly. Our heads both moved in the same direction as we followed the sound up and down over the wall and then over to the door where it made a scratching sound on the door like it wanted out. It was eerie.

”Do you want to get out again?” my spouse asked it.  There was more scuttling on the walls while he opened the front door.

“We didn’t mean to bring you home with us,” he said. “You’re free to go.” The scuttling sound rapidly moved around wall around the door as if it was leaving, and it was gone.

Let’s eliminate some possible explanations for what happened:

No, neither of us were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other mind-altering substances. We don’t imbibe the latter at all.  I used to enjoy a glass or two of wine once every few years, but I now have medical reasons to avoid it entirely.

There were a few other people on the street that day who were half a block away, but even if one of them had thrown something at us I can’t imagine what invisible item or creature that scurries up walls and can probably fit into someone’s pocket realistically exists in our world.

Yes, we sometimes hear sounds from other apartments when people move furniture or drop things, but these sounds were very clearly coming from inside of our apartment only a few feet away from where we were standing.  I could hear the sound of individual little nails on its paws (talon? hand?)  tapping against the wall as it ran around looking for an exit.

 

So that is my odd little story. If anyone has a rational explanation for it, I’d love to hear it. I sure haven’t been able to figure it out.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What You Do When You’re Not Feeling Well

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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.

This week’s prompt didn’t specify what sort of illness we might have, so I’m going to assume it’s a contagious and common one like a cold or the flu that we’ve all experienced multiple times in life as opposed to diseases that only a small percentage of people have personal experience with.

These are the steps I tend to go through when I feel these sorts of viral illnesses sneaking up on me:

A thermometer and some pills lying on a white surface.

Step 1: Denial

No, of course I’m not sick! My sore throat and stuffy nose must be due to allergies of some sort even if it’s the middle of winter and everything here in Ontario is frozen solid.

This stage usually only lasts for a few hours or a day at most.

 

Step 2: Why? Sigh! 

Why did I have to get sick this week? Doesn’t my immune system know I have 1,043 things to do (or, even worse, that I was looking forward to a relaxing vacation)?

 

Step 3: Grudging Acceptance.

I suppose I will give in and accept my fate as germy sick person, but I do not agree to be cheerful about it. Harrumph.

 

Step 4: Naps and Soup

Schedule permitting, let’s squeeze in as many naps and bowls of warm, soothing soup as possible.

I almost never eat soup when I’m healthy, and of course I do eat other foods when I’m sick, too. There is something about soup that’s extra appealing when I’m sick, especially if it’s chicken noodle or a soft version of beef vegetable that’s friendly for a sore throat or upset stomach.

If my symptoms include a fever, this is when I start taking my temperature a few times of day and writing down the results.

 

Step 5: Ugh, This Cough Is Never Going to End

Is it pneumonia, consumption, or maybe even something worse?

I think I should spend inordinate amounts of time on WebMD looking up every symptom and seeing what the worst case scenario is for them just in case.

 

Step 6-9: Slightly Better, Slightly Worse 

Why am I coughing more today? Why am I coughing less today?

How soon can I exercise? How much can I exercise? What does the Internet say about how quickly I can go back to normal habits without risking the rare cases of heart damage that happen when people exercise too soon after a viral illness?

Shall I google it all a dozen different ways over the next couple of weeks until my cough disappears completely?

 

Step 10: I am Actually Well Again! 

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. There’s nothing like feeling like your old self again.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Unique Talent You Have

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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.

A sketch of a heart in an otherwise blank notebook Not everything in our world is poetic or beautiful by any means, but my unique talent is finding the poetry and beauty in situations that at first glance do not seem to have a silver lining in them at all.

I’ll give you all a few examples of what I mean.

Years ago, I needed to go through some medical tests for a potentially life-threatening health condition that I was ultimately found not to have. While the technician was performing the ultrasound and taking notes of what she was finding, I quietly came up with pleasant thoughts about how the thump of my heart on the monitor sounded like something you’d expect to hear in a submarine as it dove deep into the calm, blue sea.

When my spouse and I went through financial trouble many years ago and had no money to spare for frivolities of any sort, I made taking long walks my chief form of entertainment and imagined that all of the trees were whispering delicious forest secrets to each other as the humans passed by unobtrusively below. It was honestly just was much fun as going to the movies or buying junk food and other things we couldn’t afford!

More recently, there were some protests here in Toronto earlier this year that clogged up some of our most important streets in the hospital district of the city. I imagined the sound of their angry voices on megaphones and the incessant beeping of their vehicles passing down the street while on their way to their destination were a warning from some future version of Toronto where such things were now commonplace.

This isn’t to say that i ignore the very real troubles we all go through or expect other people to think about scary life events the same way I do by any means. I simply find it easier to deal with them if I can make up whimsical stories about them in my head once I’ve done everything I can to change the situation.

Why worry excessively if there’s truly nothing else you can do in the moment? I think it’s better to look for the good in those moments if you can.

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something “Lucky” That Happened to You

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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.

Toronto Ferry at Toronto island. The CN tower and the city landscape are in the backrground. It is a semi-cloudy summer day and the lake water is nice and placid.
Toronto Island and the Toronto Ferry with the city of Toronto in the distance.

About eight years ago, my spouse and I spent the day at Toronto Island with some relatives who were visiting from out of town.

If you’ve never been to Toronto Island, know that it’s a large public park  that also has other amenities like a petting zoo, beaches, restaurants, bike and boat rentals, and a small amusement park.

It’s the quintessential place to spend a day with your entire family when the weather is nice. There is something to do there for everyone no matter your age or interests.

After spending several happy hours exploring the island, we hopped on the ferry to back to the mainland. There were between 50 and 100 other people on the ferry, including infants, disabled people, and senior citizens.

The ferries here move quickly on the water to save time, and they only slow down right before they approach the dock.

For reasons I’ve never been able to ascertain, this ferry didn’t slow down. It slammed into the dock instead, sending multiple people crashing to the floor because they were either standing up at the time or weren’t physically strong enough to remain seated. One of the people who fell was my own father!

My mother, who was a nurse back then, immediately leapt up to see if anyone needed medical assistance. We feared the worst given how hard and abruptly the ferry slammed into the pier and how many people were onboard who could be at higher risk of being seriously hurt by falling.

Miraculously, no one needed first aid. A few people who fell might have woken up with a bruise or two the next morning, but that would have been the absolutely worst of it to the best of my knowledge. No one needed my mother’s help after all.

I was very lucky that day, and so was everyone else onboard.

(Yes, I have taken the ferry once or twice since then. Don’t let this story scare you off if you haven’t tried this form of transportation yet. It’s usually perfectly safe, and you get a marvellous view of the city during the ride as well).

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something New You Learned Last Year

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. Last year I learned some new tricks that helped me avoid fainting after receiving vaccinations. My body has never liked needles, so I have a long… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Wintry Gifs and Photos

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl I’m going to be achingly honest with all of you here. The winter holiday season is hard for me for a few different reasons. One, I have seasonal depression that usually kicks in by early November when Ontario’s days grow short and our sunlight is weak and brief at… Read More

A Photo Essay Update on Damaged Toronto Trees

Last year I shared photos from one of the parks in Toronto once a month to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is an update to two trees in that series that were badly damaged in a winter storm in early 2020. Click on February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October,… Read More