Trash Walking

disposables, keepers, treasures

ROM Stairway

ROM Stairway

My friend and I took our boys out of school for the day to enjoy the wonders of the Royal Ontario Museum. Here they are, eagerly heading out to explore. Wonder filled day!
I know that the figures are blurred a little, but I still really like the feel of this picture. It’s a keeper.

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Bert and Ernie would definitely not approve of littering!

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left overs from May two four

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Why I Love Trash Walking at the Beach


I was speaking with a friend this morning, when I dropped my son off at school, and I mentioned that I was going to “my” beach to do a bit of trash walking.  I laughed at how excited I was to be doing this, because, I guess it is a bit weird to want to pick up garbage.  But I haven’t been out to the beach in a week or so, and I do so love to trash walk there, strange as that may seem.  Why?  Here’s why I love to trash walk

1.  It’s kind of zen…walk, bend, pick up, photograph, repeat.  I don’t really think about much of anything when I do it, other than that I am doing it.  My mind is clear, and I am focused on the task at hand.  I’m helping nature, in my own small way.

2.  It’s something I can actually do, with really no planning or permission, or organization required.  I just do it.  I keep a couple of buckets and pairs of work gloves in my trunk at all times (easy, now that the Tonkas are not longer there 🙂 ), so that whenever and wherever I happen to be, I can go for a trash walk.  So simple.  I have attended rallies to protest tar sands expansion in Canada, and to further the cause of protecting our environment.  I even organized one.  Very gratifying to be part of that movement but the results of these actions are yet to be known, and I sometimes need immediate results to keep me hopeful about the big issues. Picking up bits of plastic and garbage, I am able to see what my actions have done.  I can measure and document the results of my actions.  I have raised money for other causes that are dear to my heart, and have felt great about doing that.  I know that others have benefitted from the funds raised, but sometimes, I want to see the benefits.  Trash walking lets me do that.   I have “chalk bombed” messages in my neighbourhood, but I have no way of knowing if anyone read the messages, or if they give them even a second thought.  I hope so, but I just don’t know.  With trash walking, I know.

3.  It gets me outside.  At the beach!  In nature!  Out of the house, away from the computer.  Away from self doubt.  Away from worrying about money, or my family, or my health, or whatever else happens to be on my mind.  Don’t get me wrong, life is good, but we all have our times when we worry about something, right?  The doing something takes me away from the worry.  And, did I mention I am at the beach!  If I ever win “the big one”, I will definitely get myself a little beach house! 

And boy, will that beach be clean!  Today, in about 2 hours I picked up two large bucketfuls of the usual assortment of crap. Small bits of single use plastic and styrofoam, straws, 2 lighters, 2 diapers (REALLY, people?), coffee cups (Timmies.  I am in Canada, after all), water bottles, pens, duct tape (a lot of that today), 2 pair of socks, plastic bags, candy wrappers, food wrappers.  Some of it was definitely litter from park guests, but some came in on the waves, from who knows where. 

4. And finally, I love beach trash walking because I do sometimes, find cool treasures.  Beach glass.  I love beach glass!  I always keep my beach glass.  Image

Mainly, I have green, brown and white, but I am always hopeful of finding a rare pink or blue piece.  I am secretly jealous of my little friend Adam, who found a pink piece of glass on his beach last summer.  Adam is becoming a great trash walker, and it is so cool to hear about him picking up litter when he is out and about with his mom.

A dime.  That’s only ninety cents short of a dollar!  My earnings for the day! 🙂 

A yellow flag on a bamboo pole, with a little bundle containing a flower, a leaf and a nut (chestnut, maybe), carefully wrapped in a scrap of fabric the same colour as the flag.  Part of a religious rite, I am guessing.  Hindu?  If anyone reading this can enlighten me as to the meaning of the flag, please, leave an explanation in the comments, because I really do want to knowImage

So, Trash Walking at the beach was my morning.  And the writing of this was my afternoon.  All in all, a most satisfying day.  I hope that yours, whatever you did with it, was just as great.




List Lesson

Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with a post.  Either I have no ideas at all, or my ideas don’t seem like they are “right” for a post.  This post is a response to a Daily Post prompt from Girl in the Hat

Here is my list of things I am grateful for or that somehow make me happy, in no particular order.

I may use this list to help me develop more posts as I go along with my blogging.  That’s the point of this challenge, I think.

1.  My happy childhood (because far too many have not had a happy one)

2.  My wife Karyn and my son Noel (who always encourages me, and who keeps me young)

3.  Being alive (I survived a brain aneurysm 4 years ago)

4.  Music (especially live music.  I’ve been to many, many outstanding concerts over the years.  That is a list in itself)

5.  The Smile Epidemic (an online forum for expressing gratitude.  Participating in their 30 Days of Smiles challenge really helped me through a rough time last year, and I still enjoy checking out their site to see what makes other people smile.)   You should check them out!

Here’s one of my 30 Days of Smiles posts


6.  My amazing Port Credit neighbourhood, and the friends I have made through my son’s school ( I could write a whole post about school yard laughs and fun, easily).

7.  Canada (We have our problems, but it really is a wonderful place, and I have faith that our problems will be resolved, with hard work, understanding, and compassion, and I really feel a shift in thinking here).

8.  My chosen family, and the traditions that we have created (There are so many wonderful people, we gain so much from being together). 

9.  Good reads ( I have pretty eclectic tastes, but I love to read something that is well written, whatever the subject or genre.)

10.  Seeing good around me  (It makes me so happy to witness the kindness of strangers).

11.  Being in nature (what isn’t to love?).

12.  Volunteering  (If you don’t, you really should try it.  I only wish I had realised years ago how good it makes me feel)

13.  Finding a “treasure” when trash walking (because that is the title of my blog, after all 🙂 ).

14. Discovering an interesting page or group on social media and following their posts. Gaining a new angle on a situation, making online friends in countries I will probably never see.

15.  Watching my son’s mind work when he is building something out of garbage, and creating with him.

Well, that’s 15.  It wasn’t hard to come up with them.   I could have kept going, for sure, and created a much longer list, because I really am so very grateful for so much.   The exercise definitely got me thinking about future posts!  I’d love to see some comments  from you here.  One thing you are grateful for, or that makes you happy.  Ready? Go!






Quiet Chats

Quiet Chats

A memory to be cherished. We camped this weekend, and it was lovely. Reconnecting with dear friends and unplugging from the world were just what the three of us needed. The campground was practically empty, so not much to be picked up in the way of litter, I’m happy to say, and the nights were so quiet we could hear the coyotes.
Here’s my sweet boy swinging as we spoke about how, sometimes, we need to listen to our inner voice. He gets it.

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Trash walk at the beach

Trash walk at the beach

One of my finds on the beach this week. The rest was the usual assortment of small bits and pieces of plastic. I kept this, because I’ve always wanted a beach house. Nothing fancy, just a tiny shack would be nice.
If someone would pay me for all the litter I pick up, maybe I could get one. Ah well, dreams…

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A little dab’ll do ya!

A little dab'll do ya!

Keepers and Treasures.
In the evolution of Trash Walking, and my blogging education, I have learned that it’s a good idea to have a weekly feature. This is mine. Each week ( I have yet to definitely decide which day, but will soon enough), I’ll post about a keeper or treasure and not about trash. Something or someone or some photo of a time that I treasure.

I treasure this Brylcreem bobble head couple because my dad was a travelling salesman for Beecham, the company that made Brylcreem. They would have been promotional items given to stores for product display, some time in the sixties. Dad must have known that his three daughters would like a set, and it would have been quite alright for him to bring one home. For years, they were displayed on a shelf of the family room bar (basement bar…how 70’s is that !?) in the place that my family called home.
Looking at them, I think of a young dad, off to work each day, shoes shined, shirt, tie, business suit, Brylcreemed hair, kissing each of his girls as he headed out the door. I always thought he looked so handsome! I think of a young mom, kissing dad goodbye each day, then getting us off to school, homework done, stomachs full, happy and healthy. After we were off, she would have had time to, as she always put it’ “do her face” before she got on with the rest of the day. Mom was always fashionably dressed and coiffed too.
I think of my dad’s career trajectory from office boy to vice president of the company. On a grade eight education! I think of how proud my mom was of dad, and how she supported him in his career, how she loved helping him succeed! I think of the annual conventions they attended, and how much they loved going. I think of some of the lasting friendships that mom and dad have had. They were friendships that began because dad was a salesman who people couldn’t help but like. They grew because dad and mom were people that others really enjoyed being around.
These bobble heads are keepers, and they have a story to tell. And funny, I never noticed this before, but they kind of look like dad and mom, back in the day.

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Mother’s Day Balloon

Last spring, I was trash walking along the stretch of beach on Lake Ontario that I have unofficially adopted. Tangled in the bushes at the edge of the beach was this.


It was probably about two weeks after Mother’s Day. The first Mother’s Day that I had not visited my mom with a card or a gift. Mom had passed away in December, and I was really missing her. I might have even been thinking about her at the time, because I do a lot of thinking when trash walking.
I picked the balloon up, and carried it along with the rest of the day’s haul. When it came time to throw it away, though, I just couldn’t. I don’t know why. Other than that it says Happy Mother’s Day right there on its shiny surface, it has absolutely no relationship to my mom. I never gave a similar balloon to her, and I never would have thought of doing so. It was more cards (sometimes homemade) or flowers for my mom. It’s not a pretty artifact. But still, I could not throw it away. It was given to a mother I don’t know, by a child I don’t know, in celebration of this special day. I hope that this mom and child did have a good mother’s day together, and I hope that the balloon release was just an accident. I’m glad that I found it. It’s in the trunk of my car, tucked away with various other bits of debris. I don’t pull it out and think of mom or anything, it just sits there. I think of her every day, and this balloon has nothing to do with that.   I’ll probably throw it out some day, just not today.

(I follow a really great organization on Facebook called Balloons Blow. Balloons Blow was founded and is run by two Florida sisters, who have a deep and lifelong love and respect for the beach, the ocean, and the all creatures who live there. Reading their posts about ocean trash and the harmful effects of balloon releases inspired me to pick up more, and are part of the reason I decided to write about the garbage I pick up.

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Tonka trucks! Cherished memories.



These are photos of my son Noel, taken 2 years ago.  I wanted to capture some shots with Noel and his collection of Tonka trucks then, because I had come to the realization that our Tonka days were almost over, that my truck obsessed kid was about to move to a new obsession.  Maybe one that I wouldn’t enjoy as much as I had this one. 

I drove around with all of these vehicles in the trunk of my small car for about 3 years. They were such great, social toys, and having them with us was a wonderful way to meet other kids.  They were the icebreaker at the playground, park or beach.  Even if we found ourselves at an unfamiliar playground, surrounded by strangers, all Noel and I had to do was pull out the Tonkas, and he had instant friends.  Suddenly four or five little boys would be building, hauling, demolishing and digging together, with hardly a disagreement among them.  It was so much fun to watch the cooperation, the industriousness, the joy, the fun.  My son is very generous with his toys, always has been.  Actually he’s generous with himself too, and he’ll introduce himself to kids and invite them to join him in playing, with a natural ease and sincerity that is beautiful to witness.  I think the Tonkas in the trunk had a big part in the growth of this side of my son.

These Tonkas were a really important part of our social life for a couple of summers, to the point where friends would know we had them in the car, and ask if they could get them out.  Or they would laugh at me and tease me about my trunk full of trucks.  Strangers would become friends, and as the kids would play, the parents would chat and usually find something in common, even if it was only that they both had sons who adored trucks. 

I didn’t pay much for any of these vehicles.  I got them all at either garage sales or second hand stores.  When we had no more room in the trunk for any more of these yellow and black beauties, I still found myself keeping an eye out for a bargain priced dump truck or digger, and mentally going through a list of kids who might want it.  

I’m posting this with keepers and treasures in mind.  Not because we will be keeping the trucks, but because I will always cherish the memory of a trunk full of Tonkas, and all that these trucks meant for us, for three years. 

By last summer, I knew it was time to take the trucks out of my car, but neither my son nor I could completely part with them just yet.  So, at some point we put them in to storage in Grandpa’s garage, and there they sit now. 

There’s a really cool park in Toronto, called Dufferin Grove.  It’s cool for many reasons, but one of the things I really love about it, is that it has toys there that are shared park toys.  People donate them, leave them at the park, kids play with them, finish with them for the day, and leave them there.  That is where I would like Noel’s Tonkas to end up.  To be used and enjoyed by lots of kids for a long time.  The trick this summer will be convincing Noel that this is a good place for his beloved trucks, that it is time to pass them on.  It might be a little hard for him, but I think he’ll be okay, knowing that they’ll bring pleasure to so many kids at one of our favourite places.


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