Being her own boss.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I go to the Good Life Fitness at Union Station. It’s busy, but I find the gym at that time – pleasantly – to be a solitary place. The people aren’t antisocial; there are smile, nods and quick hellos between regulars. It’s just that if you’re getting up before 6:00 a.m. to exercise, you’re there to exercise and you stay focused on that.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, Esther Gombor is at the Good Life, too. She is there to work out and respects that others are, too, but she also makes time for a quick conversation with the people she sees regularly. Having gotten to know her, I wanted to find out: “What gets you up and to the gym every day?”

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What have I learned over the past few months?

My Digital Strategy course at U of T that got me to start this blog is drawing to a close.

I’ve enjoyed the experience and my plan is to continue publishing posts and profiles thanks to the many positive comments I’ve received from readers. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying it.

But what have I learned? Take a look inside and you’ll find out.

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Falling for the falls

Beth and I recently travelled to Thunder Bay for our summer vacation. I had been to Thunder Bay once before, only long enough to see the Sleeping Giant and eat at the Hoito. Beth had never seen northern Ontario, and she wanted to change that. I would get to eat at the Hoito again. It was a win-win.

We had a lovely time in the city and surrounding region, enjoying the food and the sights, and it was a short trip to a nearby provincial park that was the highlight of our four days at the top of the great lakes.

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If it weren’t for scallop dragging … a profile of my father

Today, my dad turns 75. Quite the milestone. I’d say that it makes me feel old, but he’s the one at the three-quarters-of-a-century mark and so I’ll leave such comments to him.

I was fortunate a few months ago to spend a weekend with him and his wife, Cindy, at their home near Boston. I was taking a history course at Ryerson University and for our term paper we were asked to answer the question: “What global and local historical forces brought you to be residing in your current hometown in Canada?”

His decision to leave Campobello Island, New Brunswick, at 18 for Ontario obviously played a big part in my being born and raised here. And while we didn’t discuss historical forces, I did learn a lot about his life growing up and his choice to come to a new place.

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The weekend is for making bread.

A few years ago we were fortunate to have a bakery, St. George’s Organic Bakery, open up across the street from our place. They made muffins, croissants and a few other delicious treats, but their specialty was bread. Good, wholesome, simple bread. Location aside, it was my absolute favourite bread in the city. Full, round boules with a toothy crust and a light and chewy crumb. Yum, yum. It was bread-topia, and I visited frequently.

Then, about two years ago, they closed. I was completely surprised. I had talked with the owners from time to time and they always said they were doing well. They had a good wholesale business going and seemed happy with things. In fact, the “we hearby take all your chattels” letter didn’t appear on the inside of the door until two months after they closed, which would suggest that the rent was paid in full when they left. It remains a mystery and probably always will.

It was then that I said, “Well, darn it! I guess I have to learn to make bread now.” And learn I did.

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A lifetime of finding new music

Jackie Wilson has always loved music, and her tastes, like mine, have kept her searching for something more than what Top 40 hits have to offer.

Growing up in the north end of Montreal in the 80s, about all she knew was the British pop that was big in English Canada at the time: Joy Division and then New Order, The Smiths, The Cure. However, that all changed on a high school band trip to Boston in 1984.

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