Sunday, June 17, 2018

Clear Sailing

What a blessed beginning to the sailing season!

Beautiful blue skies, a flat lake, and gentle winds christened the shakedown sail on May 21. Taking the helm, I felt for the wind on my face to help guide me in pointing the boat to catch the perfect puff of the sail. After a few hours sailing we anchored just off the beach to listen to the burble and murmur of the crowd.

Rushing home after work on a Tuesday night, no other boats on the lake to enjoy the crisp wind and clouds in the sky.

Sailpast - the best in years! Rob emceed and looked so handsome as he delivered his address. The sun was out for the ceremony but the cool breeze kept everyone comfortable. Strawberries and mimosas to toast the start of the season, and new docks. The BPYC fleet out through the gap and sailing around the Commodore to luff their jibs. Caroline, Laura and Wendy served up a tapas feast and Kaarina and I poured Spanish G & Ts at the cocktail bar. After years of bad weather and circumstance, this day seemed absolutely perfect in almost every detail.

When Dave and Karen visited from St. Louis Missouri we took them down to the Bluffs and the boat,  and then over to Cathedral Bluffs for dinner and a view of the lake.

Dock party! Wendy again preparing a feast, this time an Asian theme, with potstickers and rice-wraps and chicken and skewers and and... Joanne had decorated a green alcove with paper lanterns that were illustrated with sailboats and faerie lights were strung.

Four hours on the lake on a Saturday afternoon, winds taking us over 6 knots, I laid down to look at the sky and found myself drifting in and drifting out of a welcome afternoon nap, warm in the sun.

Maybe the fact we can't enjoy this all year long makes the start of the season such rapture.

Looking forward with anticipation to summer days on the lake.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Don't give up, give in

The yoga intensive this week was 6 am to 9 am, before work.

The asanas and sequences were very demanding. Strong inversions and back bends; by the end of the week, strong inverted backbends. I don't recall most of the sanskrit names, but we were: doing chataranga dondasana to upward dog; camel (ustrasana); moving from headstand to a half camel; dropping back from shoulder stand to a backbend; moving from uttanasana to revolve with one leg in the air.

Some of the poses were demonstrated first and I wondered if they were in my range of possibility. We often worked with partners and ran through a number of attempts. I was grateful for partner support and surprised that by the second or third attempt, I could  do with minimal help.

Holding for long periods, I tend to rely on determination and sheer stubbornness.  Marlene has used the phrase "Don't give up, give in," many times; this week I felt more than once that I was passing through a wall and simply giving in. Euphoria? Endorphins? Sudden effortless effort.

Thursday night a massage and Friday I took a holiday, visiting the Toronto Botanical Gardens and then visiting a friend in palliative care. I couldn't help but think about how very briefly a flower blooms, a season lasts, our lives are lived. Moments ephemeral and eternal.

Don't give up, give in.

illustration: - Yoga Pose Paint Splatter One by Dan Sproul

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Curated Dinners at AGO

I love the curated dinners at the AGO. So much thought goes into the preparation of the menu, the visual presentation and the food & wine pairings.

Last November, Laura and I enjoyed the The Roaring ‘20s NYC curated dinner inspired by Florine Stettheimer, Painting Poetry. The menu featured classics from the era: Oysters Rockefeller; chicken consomme; waldorf salad; turkey roulade / pistachio, currant, potato; salmon scallop mousse / sauce mousseline, peas; and the sweet ending fruit salad and mint sorbet. Paired with gorgeous french vintages. So delicious!

This last week, I indulged myself again and Liz and I went to the Kusama #2 Curated Dinner. What a masterpiece of a meal! Each course seemed to surpass the last. I enjoy when the chef and sommelier introduce the course and provide additional context about the ingredients and preparation before the course is served. It builds anticipation and heightens appreciation.


Passed hors d'oeuvres and a selection of sakes

Blackbird Baking Co. Artisan Bread
Miso-Sesame Infused Butter, Sunomono

Beet-Cured Trout Gravlax, Horseradish, Dill, Lemon
Suggested Pairing: Raimat Albariño, Costers del Segre, Spain

Asparagus, Wild Leek, Sea Asparagus
Suggested Pairing: Domaine de la Villaudière Sancerre, Loire Valley, France

Lobster Broth, Seaweed
Suggested Pairing: Alta Maria Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, California, United States

Jack Daniel's 90 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye
Bone marrow, miso, sesame, spring vegetables.
Suggested Pairing: Caymus Red Schooner Voyage 4 - Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina vinified and bottled in Rutherford, Napa Valley, California

Rhubarb Sake Jelly
Shaved Foie Gras

Matcha Chiffon
Black Sesame Meringue, Miso Caramel, Hojicha Ice Cream

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Full Flower Moon - May 2018

Thoroughly enjoying my garden and the appearance of these all-too-brief blossoms. Daffodils, trillium and crocus have made their visits. Bergenia and bleeding hearts are fading fast. Forget me nots are winking and Solomon Seal in elegant display. Poppies about to pop and the beauty bush on its way. I am so blissed out, and loving every petal.

Tonight in the garden, the tree peony fragnance was as amazing as the blooms. Mayapples surprised me under their overhead umbrellas. 

The moon is full May 29 at 10:19 am

Saturday, May 26, 2018

21C Music Festival

21C Music Festival is now in its 5th year, however this was my first taste of the festival which celebrates newly composed music. 

I took in two memorable concerts during the week but as it is sailing season, declined the rest, tempting as they may be. Next year the festival will run in January and I'm planning to  immerse myself in the full series. These few hours spent in the concert halls will translate to many more hours of listening pleasure as I continue to explore the artists online and in newly expanded playlists.

Kronos Quartet with Jherek Bischoff
What great selections! Each piece that followed the next was something entirely new. The string quartet opened with the Middle Eastern arrangement Zaghala (2017); followed immediately by "stop motion animation for a string quartert"  by Canadian composer Lizee called Another Living Soul; Russian composer Sharlat's pencil sketch (which incorporated pencils as percussive instruments substituted for the bow). Other highlights were Kronos' interpretation of Janice Joplin's interpretation of George Gershwin's Summertime and Coltrane's Alabama.  Jherek Bischoff made it a quintet with his bass guitar as the group played Pete Townshend's Baba O'Riley and then presented Bischoff's compositions: Stranger, A Semiperfect Number, and Flying River. Totally unexpected was when they played Jimmi Hendrix Purple Haze.

I have until now associated chamber music with string quartet's and classical music, this concert pushed the boundaries in an incredible way. At one point the musicians were tapping bells with their feet and bowing with fluorescent coloured foam. Emotional conjurors, spinning playful fun, then mournful yearning. Fully memorable.

Kronos' 50 for the Future is commissioning a collection of 50 new works – 10 per year for five years and includes works with Laurie Anderson and Tanya Tagak. 

Anthony de Mare's Liaisons: Reimagining Sondheim from the Piano
This project invites composers to take a Sondheim tune from one of his many Broadway hits, and reinterpret and explore its musical dimensions in new ways. Between pieces we hear audio from the composers, and just after intermission watch an interview with Sondheim. 

My favourite was Wynton Marsalis as he described how he'd applied the call and response approach to his interpretation of That Old Piano Roll, using ragtime swing and then New Orleans ragtime stomp. According to notes, "the basic stride of James P. Johnson is answered by the jagged, obtuse style of Thelonius Monk".

One of the pieces brought entirely new sounds to the piano strings. How were they getting those unusual clangs and bell sounds I wondered? This was Andy Akiho's interpretation of Into the Woods, "My goal in reimagining this prologue was to orchestrate each character's personality with the use of prepared piano - for example, dimes on the strings for the cow scenes, poster tack on the strings for door knocks and narrated phrases, and credit card string-clusters for the wicked witch." Fantastic!

The acoustics in Mazzoleni Hall were perfect for the piano, but not so much for the speaking voice. From my seat at the back of the hall I couldn't hear very much as Anthony de Mare spoke or played the audio excerpts; I ended up pulling out my binoculars to watch the video. The accompanying notes would have been helpful if it wasn't so dark and I had remembered my glasses. C'est la vie.

The entire project is accessible online.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
As I was leaving the Kronos concert there was a group of women trying to shoot a selfie-video, so I offered to take their phone to catch everyone in frame.

Once in hand the group started laughing and saying Jane Bunnet and Maqueque, and that was when I realized I was filming one of my favourite ensembles.  Didn't think fast enough to ask for a photo of me with the group, so this one will have to live in memory. They were scheduled to play at the Atlanta Jazz Festival a few days later.