Confessions of a Street Walker – part 18


It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


So this was my Monday walk. It ended up being just over 10 miles. The Stoney Creek Mountain. Fairly rural. What pleased me was that I found a great place to park. A Catholic Cemetary was a good place to leave my car whilest I coddiwompled down the country roads.20190819_090213

Only one of the roads was fairly busy but the rest of them were quite pleasant to walk down. I saw another abandoned house that I really wanted to investigate further but I didn’t.

20190819_092438 (1)

The waist-deep weeds covering the driveway implied abandoned.

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I was too chicken to think that I was trespassing but there were no signs and that does seem to imply permission.

Now I am rather a sign-follower. If someone went through the trouble to put up a sign then they mean it, yes? But a larger-than-imagined number of streets that I walked down on this project of mine were guarded by clear signs that said that no one was to trespass.
S-16156Abut maybe they really mean this:no-trespassing-vintage-metal-signs-home-decor
There were some streets that just did not want non-residents to be there but what about almost invited guests? Can a pizza guy deliver there? Can I go to look at a house for sale on that street? The sign implies that I can’t.

What about the ‘Authorized Parking Only.’ signs? Our church even posts ‘Authorized Parking Only’ signs. Does that mean that they will tow any car that has not received authorization? I suppose it means that they CAN tow me away if I want to park there. And just how do I go about getting authorization when the building is closed? These signs feel quite threatening and I am not usually one to challenge them but the need for me to walk down that ‘no trespassing’ street is greater than the threat it implies. That in mind, I am always respectful of the homes and businesses that I wander past or through when I walk.

I used to park in a grocery store parking lot and once got a clear letter stuck to my windshield telling me that I should never park there again because I was not a customer. The next time they saw my license plate in their parking lot I would be towed. This was in an area with a shortage of parking but I used to park early and walk for two hours and when my walk was over I would buy some groceries from that store. I confess that I was a little miffed by that and I guess I won’t ever park there again.

Next : The Mystery of the Yellow Bowl.


Confessions of a Street Walker – part 17

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.



Continue with me on one of my typical walks. Wednesday, August 14th – part 2

This walk included me waddling my way up and then down our escarpment. Some of these mountain accesses are hardly safe to walk up or down but Fifty Road seemed pretty safe. There were a couple of spots where I felt that I should hug the guard rail as a car went by but I did not have any close calls.

Hamilton – City of Waterfalls is a tag line used often. Because of our escarpment, there are plenty of places that water ends up spilling over to the lake-side of the city. Some are rather scenic and some are basically drainage ditches that wander down to Lake Ontario – eventually. Going up and then down Fifty Road I spotted three places which would probably be classified as waterfalls even if there appeared to be very little water flowage happening but it has been dry lately.




I don’t know if any of them had names but I did find one closer to the top that did. Google Maps promised me that I would be walking past the ‘West of Fifty Upper Cascade’


The problem was that it appears to be on private property – actually someone’s home – but Google said that it ‘closes at 11pm’. The sign said ‘No Trespassing’ and that is a sign that I do try to obey. (more confessions about that in the next blog) I never did find a pathway to the cascade although it is possible that you can get there by following the Bruce Trail which cuts across the road halfway up the access. Maybe one day I will tackle the Bruce Trail.

There are some clever retaining walls alongside the road. In this case, smaller rocks can work like big rocks when they are trapped within wire cages to keep the rocks from falling on the road and erosion from happening. I thought that these stones looked interesting because of the splotches of white.


I confess that I picked up a pretty one that had tumbled out for my ‘pretty rocks from neat places’ collection.

After the escarpment access was conquered I wandered back to the car. Before I got there I did step into quite a dip in the shoulder without noticing it ahead of time. My knee buckled and I wobbled with arms windmilling but I did not fall.  It was a close call but I was able to perform a rather athletic  ‘she’s gonna fall-no she won’t-oh yes she will’ dance before I was able to right myself. I’m rather proud of that actually. A good reminder to keep my eyes on my pathway.

Nearing the end of my walking adventure of the day I spotted this rock fence. Gorgeous. I would love to have one of these but they are entirely impractical for all of the work and money that it would take to construct one in front of our house. *sigh*


My final approach to return to my parked car was a riot of colour growing alongside construction sites. We work so hard in our gardens to grow things to make our yards pretty but look at this … and we just call them weeds. It was planted by no one but Mother Nature but quite appreciated by this walker.


You can see that my walk took about three hours – so I do not go fast. Just fast enough to enjoy the view and take in the sights.

Thanks for coming along for one of my walks.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 16

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


Come along with me on one of my typical walks. Wednesday, August 14th – part 1

I am currently finishing up walking all of lower Stoney Creek. I usually go on one of my longer walks once a week – typically Monday mornings. This past Monday was just over 9 miles and then I managed to squeeze another walk in yesterday.


This is sort of typical of one of my walks. I wish that I had taken more pictures over the last almost-five years but when picture-taking becomes the objective then I would get way too distracted. Walking is the goal but sometimes I just get the urge to snap something interesting – to me at least. I managed to take a few pictures on this walk.

So early yesterday morning found me near the outer boundary of the City of Hamilton and I crossed over into the Niagara Region. I pressed start on my walking app but didn’t notice that it was not on until I was quite far down South Service Road along-side the QEW. So I started it properly (the green dot on the above map) and continued on.


I passed a rather dead skunk (no picture – it was gross)


I let my route take me out of Hamilton because it was going to be shorter to just walk that way instead of doubling back to stay in Stoney Creek. Now this project has been confusing in regards to figuring out the boundaries. In 2001 the city of Hamilton amalgamated with a number of neighbouring towns to become the City of Hamilton at the same time they all maintain their own identities.

Stoney Creek is one of those towns but next to Stoney Creek, there are also smaller communities called Fruitland and Winona. So I was walking within the City of Hamilton – but I was not – I was also within the boundaries of Stoney Creek – but I was not in Stoney Creek – I was in Winona. I confess that it can be utterly confusing for those of us who live here – let alone people who are trying to travel through.

So I walked back into Hamilton (rather Stoney Creek) (actually Winona)Screenshot_20190814-121531_1

One of the roads on my route was called Coker’s Lane and years ago I recalled reading something about a huge tree on that road and I wondered how easy it was going to be to find it. I enjoy walking where trees are nearby. I usually try to walk on the side of the street where there is shade and love the sheltering branches that tower above. I usually smile upwards to let the tree know I appreciate it’s shade.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised to spot that oak tree. Nestled by the foot of the escarpment – there it was.


Pictures don’t really do it justice.


It was very easy to find because there was a plaque and everything.



I love trees.

I also saw a species of tree or bush that I don’t think I’ve seen before. It was half-way up the escarpment at the end of Reservoir Park Lane.


With rather odd-looking cones? fruit? seed?


Does anyone out there know what it is?

Stay tuned for the second half of my 8.14.19 walk…


Confessions of a Street Walker – part 14

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


Some of the country roads that I want to walk on yet have their challenges. Where to park? What about the narrow shoulders? How to best stay safe? I try to take advantage of long weekends to walk on roads that might otherwise be busy.  I was walking on the Stoney Creek Mountain and I confess that I parked in a country market parking lot that was guarded with stern signs stating clearly ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY – NO TRESPASSING – Authorized Personnel ONLY – Trespassers will be Prosecuted’ but no one was there to authorize me so I parked anyways, rebel that I am. With such strongly worded signs, I wonder where they expect their customers to park. I walked from the store to Highway 20 and jig-jogged to the escarpment edge and then back along Tapleytown Road. I wore a fluorescent vest and for the first time this year, I did not wear a jacket. Yesterday’s walk was mighty long and you can see that it took me almost four hours. I confess that when I am done walking I’m always happy to see that my car has not been towed away or stolen. Which made me think…how would I know if it was towed or stolen? I suppose I would have to first contact a store which is closed to find out if they are cranky enough to follow their own signs.


What I noticed on my walk that I did not expect was the high number of country properties that are gated and fenced and guarded by barking dogs who acted like they wanted to rip my face off.

I do not believe that I have ever put on more than 30,000 steps in one day until yesterday.


I am walking a little funny today.

Funny – strange and funny – haha.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 13

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


So on Saturday, May 4th I felt like a semi-professional street walker. I co-lead a Jane’s Walk down Barton Street. Luckily I was walking with Rachel who had a vast knowledge of the history of the area and the up-to-date news of the goings on that are going on. I was more or less tagging along but I hoped to add some interesting bits along the way and I had promised to reveal a secret that I had discovered about Barton Street. 

So Saturday morning dawned drizzly with threatened rain but I said I would be there and I was. It was nice that there was a group of almost 20 of us marching down Barton Street from The Lotus and the Bee to River Trading Company. I was happy to share with the folks about why Barton, though oft-maligned, became one of my favourite streets during my walking project. You see, during my walking project I was supposed to walk in that area but there had been some violence in the area during the night before. I questioned myself whether it would be wise to walk in an area that had a bit of a ‘reputation’ but I was humbled when I went for my walk there. It was just regular folks out and about. People crossing the street at the same time as I was or people who were walking their kids to school or homeowners putting out their trash or waiting at the bus stop. I only met kind people. 

* * *

Our daughters Laura and Karen and granddaughter Callie showed up for the Jane’s Walk, along with two Alice’s from our church. John and Mary Terpstra were there as well. John is a well-known local poet and I have attended a number of his readings (I am pretty sure that the word stalking did not come up – but I confess that it could have)

* * *

And now for the secret. At our starting point, we were across the road from a location that was mentioned in one of the stories in the second collection of short stories that I am a part of with my fellow writers of the Hamilton Mountain Writers’ Guild.


Our guild is divided into smaller groups and Neil Chopp is in my group. We read each other’s work and offer peer critiquing and feedback to each other. I remember reading Neil’s story The Endowment Effect and thinking that he was probably going to win – and he did. I confess that I am not a huge fan of horror stories but I was so captivatied by the story he wove. At one point in the story, he reveals what happens to the main character Lorcan.


Those words were spooky enough but when you are across from 307 Barton Street East you cannot help but look in the window. A little bit of misdirection and then you see it – next door – is the cup that you are looking for.


If you perchance look a little closer you see that the cup could not possibly be Lorcan because the cup is a ‘happy 50th birthday’ type cup and Lorcan would not likely be that kind of cup.


And then you remember that it is just a story – a made up story – intended to entertain us (and possibly scare the socks off of us) (methinks there are now a number of sockless people running around out there)

* * *

On our walk, we stopped at St. Matthews House and heard from Renee Wetselaar who talked about some of the meaningful ways that they were trying to impact their neighbourhood for good.

We saw murals and heard about the interesting businesses and social enterprises along with that small piece of Barton Street.

We stopped at the fire station. The firemen had kindly pulled out their big red fire engine so I could ‘touch a truck’ and we were able to say thank you to them for their service with a round of applause.

We ended up at the River Trading Company where I had some copies of our book available for purchase. I also lured them in with free laundry soap samples (see Confessions part 12)

It was a fun experience where I was able to walk and talk at the same time. Who knew?

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 12

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


My walk this week had me coddiwompling through Ancaster. It was a Monday morning and it turned out to be garbage/recycling pickup day. I remember a time when I would plan my walks around when it was recycling day because I was one of ‘those’ people.  The (usually) guy people who search the blue recycling boxes for bottles and cans of the alcoholic persuasion to be turned in to the beer store to collect the refund on the deposit. Quite often it would be guys who were a little down on their luck because most people are not that willing to work as hard as they do. They are often out there rain or shine – and early enough to beat the recycling truck. Not an easy task.

Now, I was not one of ‘those’ people because of collecting glass bottles and cans but I would pick up plastic containers that I could use for The Soap Kitchen.

To make a long story even longer – I run monthly workshops where I teach people to make their own laundry soap. It is eco-friendly, ultra low-cost laundry soap. When making this laundry soap I need containers that can hold liters and liters of the laundry soap to give away.


The containers we use can be any waterproof container but we do have favourites. Handles are best and clear containers are easiest to pour into and different sizes are useful as well. I provide all of the supplies for each workshop so I have to have a huge stash of containers ready to go. When I first started The Soap Kitchen I would find out which neighbourhood had recycling day and plan my walk accordingly.


My walks no longer include container hunting because I have so many people collecting them for me. Arlene and Henry provide me with a steady stream of orange juice containers. Doreen and Minnie bring bags of containers when they come to the workshop. People hand me laundry detergent containers in the fellowship hall after church. They have to be rinsed out well and then they are ready to share with lots of people.

Since I no longer include laundry-soap-suitable container collecting on my walks I no longer take along large bags to hold the containers I would come across. But on Monday I was walking past a place that had some of my favourite containers (the Simply Orange brand) peeking out of the recycling box. I noticed that they were all tied together and I would be able to carry it easily. So I scooped them up and they accompanied me on the remainder of my walk.


Now I will confess that it may have looked a little odd with me marching down the quiet streets of Ancaster with the grand loot that I had accumulated clunking at my side but there it was.

I noticed a meter-reader in the court I was walking on and she could not resist asking if I was really thirsty.  Of course, I had to tell her why I was walking around with this treasure. I told her about my walking project and about The Soap Kitchen and she seemed genuinely interested. I think I remember that her name was Christine and she was so lovely to chat with.


 I really do meet the nicest people.


Confessions of a Street Walker – part 11

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

I try to be observant when I am out walking especially when I am in a previously unexplored area. I was out for a walk the other day and came across a mystery.
One that stopped me in my tracks.
I might say it left me speechless but anyone who knows me – knows that speechlessness does not often happen to me.
This is what I saw in the ditch.


Now, this puzzled me. What an odd formation of ice. How did it get that shape? What were those odd pointy marks on the top right of the ice?

I had to walk a bit further to finally figure out that the culvert had a build up of ice and, with a bit of a thaw, the ice escaped the culvert and slid downstream in the ditch with the sole purpose of perplexing me.


So, mystery solved.

The second mystery was equally perplexing. I wish I had taken a picture but I didn’t and since a picture is worth a thousand words we will see how many I will need to explain this to you.

After a significant snowfall, I noticed that there were strips of snow stuck to a long fence.

Snow on the fence

It was similar to the fence in the photograph above except the snow was a solid horizontal stripe covering about two feet off the ground to about four feet off the ground. The rest of the fence was bare.

*** *** ***

This perplexed me. How in the heck did that snow get there?

Why was it so much higher than the rest of the snow all around it? Were kids throwing snowballs at the fence in an amazingly accurate manner to create a solid strip of snow?  I pictured hordes of children lining up just to stick the snow to the fence just to mystify me. Why would the bottom and tops halves of the fence have no snow and the middle had snow solidly affixed to it? I confess that this had me wondering for days before I found out the answer.

When my hubby and I were going past the fence, I expressed my state of perplexity to my practical, commonsensical husband. He told me that the stripes were the result of large snowblowers blowing the snow at the fence.


Another mystery solved. It should not have confused me as much and as long as it did but I confess I am not always the brightest bulb in the chandelier.


Confessions of a Street Walker – part 10

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


If you’ve ever seen me walking and catch me laughing to myself it’s probably because someone is whispering in my ear. I often listen to podcasts while I am out walking the streets. I could listen to music but I haven’t figured out a good free music app yet.

There are times and places to listen to the eternity of stuff that there is out there waiting for us. I also think that too many people spend too much time on their devices and I confess that I must also include myself in that declaration. Sometimes communication with real people with real ideas can be lost to some earbuds and that can be a little sad.

That said, the three podcasts that I have currently queued are:


Radiolab – Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich take me places I would not likely find on my own and I always feel smarter after listening.


TedTalks – From economics to science to history to the future. It’s all told in easy to understand ways. I appreciate the content and the variety which challenges my mind.


Penn’s Sunday School – This podcast is from the talkative half of Penn & Teller – a terrific magic act based out of Las Vegas. I’m a big fan of Penn. I have a number of his books and his essays are particularly thoughtful. I have listened to each episode and Penn, Michael Goudeau and Matt Donnelly are especially good storytellers. Penn is an atheist and I’ve learned how to be a better Christian (well… person) from their conversations. The language can get quite salty (translation: there is plenty of swearing) but, for me, it’s worth my time to listen to their ideas even if they oppose mine.

Listening to these podcasts is sort of like listening to a really smart friend.

So while I spend time listening while I walk – I also spend time talking…to God.

How is that for a walking partner? The Creator of the Universe and I have some pretty great conversations (albeit they will be considered by most as one-sided).

I pray for myself and the people I know. I pray about things I am thankful for and things that trouble my soul. I believe that He hears my prayers. I often pray for the homes I walk past or the neighbourhoods that I walk in. That thought fills me with a sense of community and a sort of contentment. It’s not really about letting God know what’s happening on this blue dot in this space and time – He already knows but it sure does feel good to talk to Him. But then again, I don’t have to be walking to do that.


Confessions of a Street Walker – part 9

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


This walking project has me walking outside in all kinds of weather. I have had hot-sweating-from-pores-I-never-knew-I-had walks and I have had cold-snot-freezing-in-my-nose walks.

I have been rained on. I have been snowed on.
I have been hailed, sleeted and blown upon.

Our wacky Canadian weather can mean that I’m sometimes not dressed appropriately for a walk outside but that doesn’t stop me. What does stop me is ice and slippery snow. Hamilton had it’s first significant ‘snow event’ over the weekend and most of us are still digging out. This puts quite the kibosh on walking for me as I’m not a fan of walking when I can’t even find the sidewalk. I know that later this week I won’t be able to take some long walks so that, pretty much, left today. So just how will I be able to walk the 10 miles I have committed myself to walk this week?

Early this morning I got my hubby to drop me off at Limeridge Mall and I joined, once again, those intrepid folks who call themselves ‘mall walkers’.


For a time, years ago, I used to walk with Tina Kennedy at the mall three times a week. The mall doors opened at 7am and we would join the mall walkers on their way past Sears and down to the Bay and sometimes circles around the food court. Around and around we would go.

Back then, they would be shorter walks so that I could be back to make sure the kids got on the school bus. They were able to get themselves ready but I liked to be home to watch them get on the orangy-yellow bus that would give me my daily freedom and quiet.

Today I didn’t get to mark off a newly walked-upon-street but I did get a ten-mile walk done even if it did take me more than three hours.

My MapMyWalk app did have problems with following my steps because this was not the route I followed at the mall.


I was reminded today how enjoyable mall walking was. Water fountain nearby. Washrooms close. Stores were not open yet so there was no temptation to shop. Out of the elements. Friendly folks.

20190121_111150A couple of the friendly folks – Hollis and Heather.

But I confess that those elements have grown on me. Fresh air. A gentle breeze. Sunshininess. New things to look at. I am looking forward to spring already and January is not even over yet. * sigh *


Confessions of a Street Walker – part 8

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.


Maybe you know what chuffa is … or maybe you don’t.

From The Urban Dictionary: chuffa

noun – the erroneous bull**** of a script for a movie. Bruce Willis coined the phrase and uses it when shooting films when he gets rid of the unwanted dialogue or actions.

Kevin Smith: “Bruce Willis was looking at the script for scenes 4 & 8 and goes, ‘Chuffa. Chuffa’ and starts ripping out page after page. …
I’m shocked and I ask ‘what’s Chuffa?’
And Bruce says, ‘Chuffa’s chuffa.’
So I go, ‘okay, I really don’t know what “chuffa” is. What is it’?
Then he says, ‘It’s “Oh, what a nice picture. What a cute dog. Where’s the ****ing bomb?” It’s that bull**** that slows down the entire movie.’

Now in writing terms, I think that chuffa just might mean some bits of writing that might not quite fit in anywhere. It isn’t a whole section of the story or it might not be moving the story along. They are just little bits that, if put in with the rest of it all, just might mess things up. But sometimes, you grow fond of the chuffa.

* * *

When I was asked if my husband is supportive of all of my walking I have to answer yes. Although he has said that he also likes to see me walking around the house…


….pushing a vacuum.

* * *

My relative…who could remain nameless, but won’t…brother-in-law Harry has been jogging for many years. When his family moved to a new community he was shocked to hear a rumor that a suspected naked man had been spotted running through the neighbourhood. He was even more shocked to realize that, since his jogging garb that summer consisted of beige shorts and a beige t-shirt, it was possible that he was the fully clothed – unidentified naked jogger.


* * *

I confess that, sometimes, chuffa is my favourite part.