Sunday, September 24, 2017

Yoga Camp!

A weekend get-away with Liz, Anita, Denise and Chris to the Queen Elizabeth Y in Honey Harbour. Nicki was there, too, with a separate group of friends.

A few weekends a year the YMCA welcomes adults. We signed up months ago to the camp, and I'd been looking forward to it but didn't know quite what to expect.

Yes there were yoga classes, but it was just as much about the yoga of connecting with friends, walking on pink rocks, paddling at sunset, meditating at sunrise, trying Qi-Gong, going on nature hikes, eating great food, forest-bathing, swimming, standing on my head on a paddle board and tumbling into the water, trying archery for the first time, singing at a campfire, going kayaking, crafts, lichen-looking, stargazing, birdwatching...

Being a sailor it has been many years since I've spend a summer weekend with such fabulous weather in a cabin on land. So lovely! We stayed in the same bunks the kids would sleep in, narrow beds with plastic mattresses. A trough outside to wash up and brush your teeth, a separate building for toilets, the main cabin for meals.

It sounds funny but I felt busy dawn to dusk. There were scheduled activities throughout the day, with meals served at designated times. No dishes, no cooking!

One sunset we took the war canoe out for a paddle. There must have been twenty of us out for a leisurely tour, enjoying the sound of the water licking the side of the boat and the beautiful colours of the sky.

I love the pink rocks of the Canadian Shield! Sculptured by the wind. Smooth and hard. In the morning we did Qi Gong on the rocks, followed by meditation.

On the nature walks, I couldn't believe people were walking so quickly past the moss and lichen. I had brought a magnifying glass in my pocket so I could see it up close, and even tugged a field microscope along. The microscope went unused but the magnifying glass opened a window to a miniature world.

On the nature hike, I did learn how to recognize the call of a phoebe and got a good view of a millipede. Too short a walk though, and too many people scared away a lot of the creatures. On another walk, they came across a rattler and a hognose snake. There were sightings of porcupine and fox, but not by me.

The weather was unseasonably warm, so I finally got to jump in the lake. I tried standing on my head on a makeshift paddle board - didn't last very long but it's something I've always wanted to try. A few other firsts as well - archery, kayaking.

So much fun! Hope to go again next year with the same group of gals.

Sailing holidays 2017

For so many years we have been sailing east to Waupoos for our holidays, but this year was different. Due to high water levels, some of the eastern reciprocals were unpredictable. So we went West, stopping for a few days at Toronto Island before tugging on mooring balls at Smuggler's Cove, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Lots of great sailing, and plenty of summer storms to keep our eyes turned up to billowing storm clouds. No swimming for me this year, the water was too cold when it was clean and too high with e-coli when it was warm.

Weekend get-aways were often literally just around the corner, admiring the chalky bluffs..

Hope to get in at least one more sail before the end of the season!


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First time we ever stayed at Smugglers Cove. The US border was close enough to swim - but the current way too strong. The little clubhouse is actually a trailer on a dock - so charming, and the members welcoming. Wineries and plays at the top of the hill. This year we saw The Madness of King George, and tasted wine at Reif Estates and Two Sisters. A great holiday, only 5 or 6 hours away.
I always admire the Bluffs, but often as we are passing by on our way to somewhere else. High waters meant we felt more confident bringing our keel boat closer to the bottom of the Bluffs, but we also used the dinghy to get closer to explore.  Less than a half hour away from the dock!

It still blows me away, coming into Toronto Harbour at sunset, with the tall glass and metal on one side and a natural green haven on the other. A place like no other.

Stormy weather is always a source of entertainment, especially when safely tucked into our slip. In August we moved to L dock, a whole different view.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Full Harvest Moon - September

Late summer days, sudden storms. 

Such abundance - bursting red field tomatoes, nubby dark green cucumbers, peaches the colour of a sunrise, bright yellow corn.

officially full September 6, 3:04
Harvest Moon, Painting by Samuel Palmer

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Nova Scotia

We traveled to Nova Scotia the first week of August for a family reunion on Rob's side.

Most of the time we spent in Halifax, a short walk from the harbour.

Tall ships were in! We managed to visit these gorgeous boats four straight days, including the parade the day of their departure. What a view! The layout of the harbour meant we were only a few hundred metres from the ships under sail, as they dipped their flags and shot cannons. More than 25 vessels took part in the regatta. Favourites were the German Alexander Von Humboldt II (3 mast bark), Spanish El Galeon (galleon), American Eagle (cutter), and of course the Canadian Bluenose (schooner). One of the highlights was being on board the U.S. Coast Guard training vessel 'The Eagle' just as they were orienting young recruits: expectant, hopeful, scared, confident expressions in a sea of faces.

The Bank of Nova Scotia on Hollis was impressive, with massive gates, bronze embellishments and a soaring ceiling. We never did manage to get inside during banking hours, but it's still open for business.

The Maritime Museum was full of exhibits. A major portion of the space was given to the Halifax Explosion that occurred in 1917. I stood for a long while in front of a window with a small telegraph key. Vince Coleman died as he was using it to warn a coming train of the pending explosion, "Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys."[6]  Exhibits of wrecks at sea were fascinating.

The works of Maud Lewis were on display at the gallery, including the tiny house she lived in while she produced her work. Her paintings wallpaper the tiny room. It took hours of effort to remove the layers of wood smoke, nicotine and grime to return them to the surface. Such bright colours and cheerful subjects, painted by someone in pain, poverty and an abusive relationship. How she managed is truly an inspiration.

Downtown Halifax, there was construction everywhere and it wasn't easy to drive around, so we walked. Not much luck with restaurants. When I asked one server how long we would need to wait for a table, they said, "How should I know?" and I suggested they might be able to tell by whether the customer had been served or started their meal. At another place they had us wait more than a half hour for the fish and chips, but forgot one of the four orders; the batter was chewy and fish was mushy. Uggh. Best meals were at Murphy's the Cable Wharf Restaurant, where I had lobster and on another visit, bacon wrapped scallops. The Chickenburger, outside Halifax in Bedford was probably the most fun to visit, with its retro diner feel and neon chicken blazing on the roof.

There were fireworks every night we were there as part of Canada 150 celebrations, and we saw one of the best shows ever, that lasted more than twenty minutes and filled the night sky with smoke and colour.

We managed a day trip to Peggy's Cove. The further you got from the parking lot, the fewer the number of tourists. We spent at least an hour on the rocks gazing at the sea, and watching the waves crash and white foam froth. We also joined a small boat tour for a bumpy ride along the coast.

Lunenburg was lovely and not too busy during our visit. Colourful houses, quirky galleries, and a row of restaurants facing the sea. The Bluenose II wasn't in port though, she was in Halifax Harbour. We returned to the capital in time to watch the schooner sail out to return with the entire fleet  to Lunenburg.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Finding inspiration

I've been book binging on self-help & mindfulness books. While very informative, I am going to cut waaaaay back and stick to one or two chapters of a book a week.

More digestible that way, and probably more productive in the long run!

In the last month I've read or dipped into:
- The Beauty of Discomfort (Amanda Lang)
- The Ripple Effect (Geoff Wells)
- When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Pema Chodron)
- The Okinawa Program (Wilcox)
- Unplug (Schwatz)
- Savour (Thich Nhat Hanh)
- How to See Yourself as you Really Are (Dalai Lama)

As I was searching for the photo to go along with this post, funnily enough I came across this study "Reading Self-Help Books Can Make You Feel Worse." The research put self-help into two categories and found problem-focused self-help books often have the opposite of their intended effect. The books I've been devouring are focused on nutrition, mindfulness, and positive thinking and fall into the growth-oriented and inspirational category. Good books, good advice, and good reinforcement.


Turning to self-help books for guidance might seem like a good idea when you’re feeling down about life. But a new study suggests it probably won’t make you feel a whole lot better — and it could even leave you feeling worse.
The research, conducted by a team of psychologists at the University of Montreal, found that people who read self-help books show more depressive symptoms and higher sensitivity to stress than those who don’t read such literature.
For the small pilot study, the researchers tested 30 people for personality and mental health traits such as stress reactivity (the tendency to respond to a stressor, measured by stress hormone levels present in saliva), openness, self-discipline, extraversion, compassion, emotional stability, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms.
Half of the participants said that they read self-help books and half did not. The self-help consumers were divided into two categories based on which of two broad classes of such books they read: 1) problem-oriented books that discuss the nature of personal challenges, such as divorce, as well as means of addressing these challenges, and 2) growth-oriented books that promote “inspirational messages about life and happiness.”
The results, which appear in the journal Neural Plasticity, show that readers of problem-focused self-help books had significantly elevated depressive symptoms, while those who read growth-oriented material had greater stress reactivity than non-readers.
However, as the authors note, there’s a big “chicken or egg” problem here. In other words, we don’t know whether high stress reactivity and a tendency towards depression lead people to read self-help books, or, alternatively, if reading self-help books makes people more stressed out and depressed.