Day Two – Meeting my Brother and Niece, a Toronto Adventure





My brother Peter and niece Kathryn arrived 10ish this morning, and after a few hugs, we jumped in Pete’s car and took off for a day of Toronto driving adventure. We looked at amazing buildings, including Casa Loma, a real castle in a residential area. We drove along the lake shore, including the CNE grounds and saw where they have Medieval Times. (Feasting and Jousting). I was thrilled to get a couple of good photos of the front of the ROM, including the Foo Dog statue by the main doors and the ultra modern attachment to the side of the old style main building. I love that mix of old and new architecture. We finally managed to find a little beach were we could take a few family photos. We were also blessed with a few wild swans while there. It was a great day. I only wish Sandra and Michael could of joined us. Hopefully next time.

I love how beautiful and visually stimulating Toronto is. I hope to return someday and spend more time exploring the wonderful things it has to offer. I would so love to make a trip to the ROM. The traffic however, wow! I would be totally terrified to drive there. It can be terrifying to even be a passenger. The driver that took us to the airport got us there in record time by going mostly around 135 km an hour! I tried to look out and up so as not to throw up from fear of dying.

Next, Paris!




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Day One – To Toronto We Go

The first day of our trip has been a mixed bag. It started strangely with a taxi driver who only had one arm, so could not help with the luggage and did not know the way to the airport. Then we were separated in security which took what seemed forever.

On the upside we enjoyed relaxing in Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge, having coffee and a light breakfast. Our flight was the most comfortable and relaxing I have ever been on. I am sure I am spoiled from ever wanting to travel economy again. It was a pleasure to have a seat I actually fit in with lots of leg room. We had our own flight attendant who kept our wine glasses filled and served us a delicious gourmet lunch on china dishes with real silverware. I felt totally pampered.

Traveling by private transfer from the airport to the hotel, we got to experience a Toronto rush hour traffic jam. Our driver tried an alternate route which took us along the lake shore and the CNE grounds. I really enjoyed that part of the trip. I think that ride was as long as our flight. Downtown Toronto is really something. I was overwhelmed with the amount of sky scrappers and the architectural mix of old and new. There are 100’s of huge towering condo complexes that must have 1000’s of units in each one. I felt like I have come from a small town to the big city.

Our hotel is huge and right on the corner of Bay and Younge. Our room is disappointing, kinda of small and ordinary. I would be okay with that, but the bathroom is really horrible. A disgusting stained tub with rusting drain. Yuck. That prompted me to walk the 3 blocks down Younge Street to Eaton Centre to buy some flip flops to wear in the shower. Eaton Centre is a huge 4 story shopping mall that was really crowed with 1000’s upon 1000’s of people. Younge street is a lively mix of old style bars with blaring neon light signs, like Zanibars, quainter eateries, street performers and musicians and even a sit in protest. Jeff and I went out for a late night dinner to the Elephant and Castle which was pleasant and the food was great.

I am snuggled into bed now, which thankfully is super comfortable. Tomorrow I get to meet my brother and then back to the airport we go to catch our overnight flight to Paris. I am very excited, so I hope I can sleep. If not I will get out my art bag and do some watercolour painting and doodling.

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My Art/Writing/Smashing/Journal for our Paris Trip

My Life Writing mentor and friend, Joanne Klassen, gifted this writing journal to me, for my trip to Paris a couple of years ago. I have altered it to accommodate, writing, art journaling and some smash booking. I did not want to take more than one book with me. I divided the journal into a planning section, then a 6 page section for each day of my trip. Each section, has a tab with a title page with some of my stash of Paris photos and clippings. Then 5 pages to write in and smash my receipts, ticket stubs and other memorabilia on. The last page of each days sections has a sheet of watercolour paper to art on. I am taking a small travel art journal kit with me, that has a water solvable palette of Peerless water colours, Neocolours and Inktense swatches, water brushes, glue and a few other necessities. I plan to spend a lot of time sitting in cafes, on the river bank or quays and in parks writing and painting.

Paris Journal
Inside  cover of my Paris journal
Paris map in my Paris journal
Planning section of my Paris Journal
Watercolour paper in Paris Journal

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My $5.00 Homemade Art Journal.

I purchased one package of 10 file folders, $1.25, one yellow snakeskin gift bag, $1.25, one roll of decorative tape, $1.25,  and one roll of two sided adhesive tape, $1.25, all from Dollarama.  A couple hours of work and I have  a new art journal.  I fell in love with the yellow bag and that is what inspired me to make it.  I still have to figure out a closure for it, but I don’t need to use it at the moment, so that can wait.

Yellow file folder art journal 1image

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File Folder Art Journal

My latest large size art journal I made from file folders from the recycle box at work and a family size Cherrios box. It is still a work in progress.


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Rainbow Warrior Woman Promise Tree and the Dance of the Giant Peacocks – A Creation Myth

Friday, March 24, 2013 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm At Peg City Yoga Studios

I am aware I am an extraordinary and gorgeous rainbow tree. I was born of a magical seed that was large, fist size, glassy smooth and rainbow coloured. The seed was carried to this magical forest and planted ever so carefully by Lori and Candace. As soon as it was planted, it took root and grew into the tree I am now.
My bark is smooth and delicate, not unlike blown glass. I am very, very, very tall, spiraling up from toes rooted in turquoise mineral salt soil. Up and up my rainbow coloured trunk spirals, getting wider as it spans out, my many spiraling branches spreading outward and upwards. They reach as far as they can up towards a tangerine sky.
I can smell the tangerine sky, sweet and juicy and the turquoise mineral salt soil, fresh and clean.
A soft breeze begins to blow and I start to sway and bend. My toes are firmly rooted in the turquoise mineral salt earth, but the rest of me, is dancing in the wind.
I am a rainbow warrior woman tree. Rainbows are the covenant of God/Goddess, a promise. What am I a promise of?
I am a promise of love, of peace, of acceptance, of warmth, and of joy and laughter.
I am a rainbow warrior woman promise tree, spiraling up from the turquoise mineral salt earth into the tangerine sky, dancing in the wind.
In the background I hear the flock of giant peacocks that live in my forest, they are dancing too. They follow the largest peacock, the one who is white, the one who talks and walks like Foghorn Leghorn.
“Pay attention to me boys! I’m not just talkin’ to hear my head roar. Now what, I say whats’s the next step? That’s right, two to the left, dip and then one to the right.”
They are hilariously funny, and I start to shake my branches in uproarious laughter. All the forest starts to laugh with me. The dance of the giant peacocks has brought belly splitting laughter and joy to the magical forest, where I, the rainbow warrior woman promise tree lives.

My intention for tonight: I want to take with me the sense of total magic imagination, joy and laughter that Candace created tonight.
Affirmation: I carry magic imagination, joy and laughter with me when I leave. I can recall them whenever I need or want to.
Observations: My handwriting when I wrote after our yoga and guided meditation experience was very different from my regular penmanship. It was larger and looser, more flowing on the page. I feel alert, rejuvenated and relaxed. I am very fascinated by what is in the center of the room. I was amazed at how different all the writing we shared was and how many common threads ran through each person’s myth.

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Where Did She Go?

© by Lori Gagnon, Nov, 2012 Winnipeg, MB

I am the studious competent worker
When did that happen?
I am the steadfast dependable one
When did that happen?
I am the one the one in the middle, the mediator
I have always been that!
Where is the one who is carefree, fun loving and spontaneous?
Where did she go? When was she lost?
I am the one conforming to the dress code
When did that happen?
I am the one breaking my back making a buck
When did that happen?
I am the one paying all the bills and keeping all the records
I have always been that!
Where is the girl whose stuff all fit in 2 suitcases and a couple of boxes?
Where did she go? When was she lost?

In my own mind, I am the gypsy girl who could move 3 times a year effortlessly. In my own mind, I still wear Indian cotton velvet tunics, thrift store 1950’s skirts and earth shoes, pink sunglasses and big wild jewelry hand made by some artisan. In my own mind, I am the one sitting on the sidewalk doing a chalk painting before walking in the park collecting fallen leaves for no other reason than they peak my fancy. I am wondering, where did she go and when was she lost?

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Rainbow Woman

© by Bella Lori Gagnon, June 2012, Winnipeg, MB

I am as diverse as the colours in a rainbow.  Sometimes I am warm and bright, yellow and hot, the sun.  Other times I am orange and gay, bright and bold, a poppy blowing in the morning breeze.  Sometimes I am calm and mellow green, rejuvenating.   I can be passion red, vibrant, powerful.  Other times I am cool, calm, palest blue or intense peacock azure, a tropical ocean reef.  Sometimes I am very royal, all purple, violet and indigo.  I can be white, pure, cold and driven or I can black, dark, mysterious and magical.  I can also be the many shades of grey between black and white.  Soft cloud gray, billowing and enveloping, comfortable “sweats” grey, soft fleece against cold skin.  Then I can be dark, gloomy grey, piling thunder clouds just waiting to burst with dramatic forks, flashes and claps, driving rain and maybe some hail pelting down.  No matter what colour I am on any given day, I will open my arms to embrace my rainbow women.

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Pink Snow, Red Jelly

© by Bella Lori Gagnon, March 2012, Winnipeg, MB

Every spring, the crab apple tree in the back yard of the house I grew up in, would turn into a gloriously queenly profusion of sweetly scented pale pink blossoms.  That softly sweet smell, seductively hinted at something more to come, if one could only be patient.

The magical display would bless us for a few precious days and then it would happen.  A hearty spring wind would blow in during the early hours of the morning and it snowed soft pale pink petals. I would awake, and look out of the dining room window through sleepy eyes, to discover the green lawn had disappeared under an inch of the fresh pink spring snow.

It was to a young child, quite extraordinary.

Spring would run into summer, the pink snow long blown or washed away by spring breezes and rain showers.  By then, that crab apple tree would be loaded with small green fruit.  As the long hot days of summer meandered on, I never paid it much attention.  I was too busy; riding my bike, playing in my sandbox, trying to stay cool by spending hours running through the lawn sprinkler, skipping, and playing hopscotch and hide and seek with the neighbourhood gang.

However, as autumn approached, it did not escape my notice that the apples had ripened into a deep, almost burgundy red.  I always dared to eat a few, despite my Mom’s warning that they were sour and would give me a belly ache.  And so they were, sour that is.  I never ate enough to get the warned of belly ache and I thought them much better tasting than the berries off the honeysuckle bushes.  I was not supposed to eat those either, but I always snuck a few despite the, “they are poisonous” warning from a worried faced Mom.

When the crab apples started to fall off the tree, I along with my Dad, where given a plastic pail by Mom and we started to pick the crab apples.  I did all the lower branches where I could reach, and Dad and Mom did the higher branches.   Dad always insisted that we get every single apple so they would not fall into the lawn, rot, and make a mess.

I secretly kept a few aside and when no one was looking, I laid them along the sidewalk at the side of the house for the crows.   They did not seem to think them so sour as to get a bellyache.  They would gleefully eat as many as I would put there for them.

After the picking, the kitchen would become a beehive of activity, and I was always warned to stay out from underfoot.  The kitchen counter was lined with recently boiled jelly jars and a big pot simmered on the stove.  Mom, wearing the obligatory bib and skirt apron, would be busy pulling stems off the crab apples.   Then she would boil them up along with sugar and other, unknown to me, ingredients.  I would often watch from the back landing.   Sitting on the landing steps, I watched as she worked, seeing that wonderful smelling bright red goo that the apples had turned into, being ladled into all those small glass jars.

The wonder of the spring blossoms and pink snow had been painstakingly changed into red jelly, a treasure to be enjoyed all winter on morning toast or before bedtime on homemade biscuits.

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The Window

© by Bella Lori Gagnon,  2010,  Winnipeg, MB       For Sara

Through my good eye, the one that is not swollen shut, I watch the spring day unfold.  Through streaks of dirt, the sun’s light shines it warmth on my face, a healing force to the wounds and bruises it finds there.  I dare a small smile at the squirrels that are just outside my window.  They jubilantly chase each other through the trees that are sporting new spring greenery.  I am filled with a hard longing to be out in that sunshine, to be running free like those squirrels.  The front door a story below slams shut and swearing and heavy footsteps assault my ears.  I turn away from the glimpse of freedom the window has so fleetingly provided.  I now face my jailor in the doorway.  A drunken, brute of a husband, who after time at the bar with his friends, is always ready to lay a beating on.

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