Sunday, October 16, 2016

Full Hunter's Moon - October

This is the first Full Moon following September’s Harvest Moon. It rises just after sunset and sets around sunrise, so this is the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. Farmers Almanac

This is sometimes called the Hunter's Moon. This past month, Rob, Alex and I went for a day trip  to Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, exploring the rebuilt 1648 wilderness settlement. It was a beautiful fall day, but a fire still burned inside the longhouse, and there were furs of wolves and bears and rabbits. In the cookhouse, long dead carcass of trumpeter swans and ducks hanging upside down, bounty for a hungry day. 

The moon is officially full October 16 at 12:24 a.m.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

It was a beautiful drive to Matawatchen with Alex, Penny, Ryan and Rob. The fall colours on the winding roads were stunning. Crimson, orange, gold and canary. The sky a steely gray and then clouds lifting to blue.

Thanksgiving dinner with Lois and Mark, Brenda and Bill, Gord and Linda, James and Spencer. The meal was wonderful, but better still, sharing time with people we love around the feast, a big bonfire, some fireworks, a starry country sky. 

I'd never seen a peanut plant's flowers until Lois showed us the ones in her garden. The few plants were harvested, and we could see the peanut shells covered in dirt. I didn't know we could grow them in our short northern season. 

On the drive home we stopped at Pieters to pick up apples and cider. It's been over twenty years we've been stopping by the orchard, and we've seen it pass from Pieter to the Madambas's, and now to someone new. The family has sold their farm to someone else, and this was the last fall they were working there together before turning it over to new hands. 
We also stopped at a fruit and veg stand, and I picked up some salted black peanuts grown in Ontario. And lots of fall squash - turban, spaghetti, acorn.

The salmon were running in the Ganaraska River. They were very plentiful this year, I can't recall seeing so many people by the fish ladder in Port Hope. The crowd was taking photos and clapping when a fish was successful and made it to the next level. There were also salmon that weren't so successful... I watched as one fish slid back down three levels, tired from its journey, the carcasses of other salmon bobbing nearby. Sad to see, but hopefully mink and fischer and osprey will enjoy their own Thanksgiving feast after the crowds have gone.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Choice or design

Lately I've been reading memoir and nonfiction. About people thinking, and re-thinking the forces that shape our lives. On reflection I see another common thread, of choice: why and how we make choices, and how important those choices are. We aren't always choosing consciously or even aware of the choices we make, but they shape every day of our lives.

Sugar, Fat, Salt: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss
A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist investigates the food industry, and along the way we learn about addiction, food science, marketing, and the men and women that concocted processed foods. This was Nicolette's pick for book club this month. During our discussion, we talked about how some of the information may not be new but there were definitely interesting reveals, such as secret meetings between food giants, bliss points for sugar and human biology's insatiable desire for fat.

this is happy, by Camilla Gibb
The writer talks about living with mental illness, finding love and getting married to another woman, trying to conceive, her miscarriage, being left by the love of her life while she is still pregnant with their second child, deep despair, and then trying to build a life as a single parent. But it is also about renewing ties with a brother, forging a deep friendship, redefining family, and realizing 'happy' isn't always elsewhere.

A Good Death, by Sandra Martin
Recent legislation in Canada has made physician-assisted death easier to access, so this book is indeed timely. The author spoke passionately at the Heliconian about the right to die with dignity and the fact that we'll need to work a lot harder as individuals and as a society if we are to make a "good death" a reality. Now I have a signed copy on my bookshelf.

Misbehaving: The Story of Behaviour Economics, by Richard Thaler
This is an intellectual memoir by the author that inspired choice architects with the idea that people could be nudged into good behaviour to improve society and maximize wellbeing. There's an interesting interview with the author about the book here. Not sure I will finish the memoir, but I do want to read Nudge.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


We considered taking a cabin on one of the big cruise ships and simplifying travel arrangements, but decided to plan our own route to adventure in Hawaii. Rob said, imagine planning this holiday 25 years ago? Without the internet, we definitely would have needed a travel agent and wouldn't have had the variety of places to stay.

Looking for accommodation took many hours and hours of fun and frustration. Some places on Home Away and Air B & B look like the hosts had snapped a photo of their kids' bedrooms just after the toys were stuffed under the bed. The occasional review was bedbug-scary. In our virtual tour of the island we were looking for places where we could hear the ocean waves, get a great view of the stars, and get a sense of what makes each island so unique.

Now we have lined up our stays and there is a good variety, including a cottage on an exotic flower farm, an open-air lanai, and an ocean view B&B. The places are all bookmarked on my work computer and when I get stressed out or bored, I take a quick escape to imagine our stay, still months away.

This will definitely be a driving holiday! We will be visiting different places on four Hawaiian islands. After the long flight to Big Island, there will be short commuter flights between each. Several rentals have strict cancellation policies, which means we're committed, and that we'll be paying for the time we don't use if we happen to arrive a day late. Hopefully things will go smoothly, we'll make our connections and there will be no major volcanic eruptions before or during our vacation!

Makalani Oceanview Cottage (Kona) 
Stained Glass Cottage (Volcano Village)

Hana Cabana (Hana)
Moana Lani B&B (Lahaina)

Courtyard by Mariott (North Shore)

Zen Root (Kilauea)
Waimea Plantation Cottages (Waimea)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Let's Sing!

Florence Foster Jenkins lived in New York and in the 1940's, when she herself was well into her 70's, decided to rent Carnegie Hall and perform opera to rally the troops. There is a great documentary, A World of Her Own, on You Tube about the rich socialite with dreams exceeding her talent. Stephen Frears directs Meryl Streep in the recently released version of the Hollywood film. There is a line in the movie that I love, "They can say that I can't sing, but they can't say that I didn't sing."

I saw the film the night before attending my first singing lesson. I showed up to the night class along with the other forty hopefuls. Many seniors, several middle-aged workers, and ten or so young adults. During introductions we heard from people who had been told they couldn't sing in grade school, and now, here they were in their sixties and seventies, figuring, why not? There were others who already sang in church choirs and were looking for some professional voice coaching. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I shared the Florence Foster Jenkins line above.

Going to the Scarborough Uke Jam is fun, and partly because we sing our hearts out as we play. None of the players in the BPYC Uke band, Lost at C, are exceptional singers, but we sing (and beg our audience to sing along with us).

So far I've been to two night classes and there has been some of what I expected... vocal exercises and funny faces and deconstructing songs to look at phrasing (where to take a breath). Also a bit of the unexpected... stretching exercises and yoga to help free the chest, diaphragm, jaw and neck.

I'm not ready to rent Carnegie Hall by any stretch, but then, neither was Florence.

For now I will stick to the shower, uke jam, and strumming with 'Lost at C'.

October 1 is International Music Day.  I think I'll celebrate with a few stretches and singing in the shower!