Friday, December 30, 2011

Restorative Poses

I have felt like crap for the last two weeks.  And I'd been feeling so smug about not catching what had been going around!  The version that's caught me: aching sore throat and cough-cough-cough.
I've been taking medicine like Neo Citran and discovering new drugs like Cepacol throat spray. Some of the best medicine though has been yoga.  I'm happy to say I've kept up my daily practise, sliding into a more restorative series of poses. 

One of my favourites is the supported bada konasana pictured above.  It is such a good chest opener, with added benefits for the hips.  I've also been relaxing into supported bridge, vipirita kirani (legs up the wall), supported forward bend.

So thankful to have a repertoire I can call on in sickness or in health.  Yoga Journal has some pointers here if you'd like to try the next time you're feeling 'under the weather'.

illustration supta-bada konasana
illustration restorative sequence

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cat's Table

Lovely, lyrical.  The Cat's Table feels and tastes like memoir, with detail richly drawn from the memory of senses.

The main body of the story takes place over a period of three weeks,  as three boys make their passage to England.  Dinners are sat at the lowly "cats table" with a group of eccentric adults.  

The dreamlike prose is extremely rich with metaphor. The ship's passage to another continent and culture, three archetypal boys in the process of losing their innocence and childhood, a prisoner allowed to walk at night, a deaf daughter who swallows keys, a garden apothecary.  A floating world.

Although said of a specific character, this sentence could apply to the telling of the entire story.

"Twenty-one days is a very brief period in a life, but I would never unlearn the whisper of Cassius."

If this were a photograph it would have blurred edges and sepia tones, but be matted on a modern mirrored surface and held in place with a water frame.  Or maybe painted on the floor of a pool, then filled with water.

Not the typical unfolding of a plot, a bit of a jumble, with past, future and present entwined. Several reviews say this is one of the author's most accessible stories.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Temperatures well above zero have kept this a green Christmas.  
Some mornings bring light frost.  
The surface of the pond freezes, melts, and freezes again.
Snowflakes have fallen, but melt so quickly.
My garden waits for its blanket of snow.

This rose was blooming on my front porch December 2nd

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas dinner 2011

Planning the feast ahead is always part of the pleasure.  Imagining the day it will come together with all its different courses and tastes; the festive table dressed and set with the best china.

The key to preparing holiday meals, I think, is to take the pleasure it offers.  If you feel like a kitchen slave, it not only robs you of enjoyment but I swear it is somehow reflected in  the flavour of the meal.  So I try to pace myself and not overdo, and to be in the present when I prepare the food.

Christmases past were drifting into my present as I was preparing this year's meal.   My grandmother's busywork in the kitchen, the long day's preparation and the hectic burst when everything was plated, served and devoured. Usually it was my job to set the table and do the dishes.  Our big family crowded around the table - ten of us - my grandparents, parents, and 6 brothers and sisters.

The older we got, the bigger we got, and it was hard to fit us all around the table, let alone the spouses and children.  Such a crowded house.  For almost two decades now, my birth family usually gets together well after December 25th.

Happily, my brother Dave's family and my family get together to feast on Christmas Day.  The kids get bigger each year.  

It occurs to me now that we should have been taking photos to mark the passage of time, but we've were too busy enjoying each others company.  Next year a portrait is in order.

This year our nephew Ryan was able to join us and round out the table so we made eight.

After dinner the "kids" spent time together while "the grown-ups" talked around the tree.  I mark this in quotes because the generations are no static thing.  My son is a young man now; my brother and I will be, in part,  children together forever...

The Christmas Menu was a meal rich with colour and flavour.  Truly, the best thing was the present company!

  • Baked Brie topped with sugared almonds, served with fresh figs
  • Salad of young greens, pomegranate, sugar mandarins, and brillo cheese drizzled with aged balsalmic
  • Prime Rib & Port Gravy
  • Apple and stilton bread pudding
  • Brussell sprouts, roasted chestnuts & bacon
  • Glazed carrots
  • Cake Opera treats
  • Tuxedo cake

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Such a cheery sight on a dark night.

My tree is full of ornaments from Christmas' past and present.  Different coloured, bright lights. This is no designer tree, but a tumble of memories with hopes for the future.

Hope we have a Very Merry!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Your conversations may be scintillating, but my book club can drink your book club under the table - Winter Solstice Wine Tasting 2011

Some of my fellow book lovers came over to my place to celebrate the Winter Solstice with a memorable wine-tasting.

"Wine is sunlight,
held together by water."
- Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

The theme was Italian.  Grapes from Tuscany, Piedmont, Sicily - with a surprising majority from Veneto... at least 4 of 10 bottles.
"When it comes to wine, I tell people to throw away the vintage charts and invest in a corkscrew.  The best way to learn about wine is the drinking."
- Alexis Lichine
I learned a few things:  It is more than probable that Shiraz/Sirah originated from Sicily (Syracuse); Italy has more than 2000 grape varietals; and frozen grapes are an absolutely decadent treat!

So life's year begins and closes
Days though shortening still can shine
What though youth gave love and roses
Age still leaves us friends and wine.
- Thomas More
This was my 4th annual Winter Solstice tasting, with some new faces joining the table for the first time.

Different people voiced different favourites and I admit I was at times surprised.  Preference is such a personal thing. Even the naming of things... how can we be sure we all taste the same vanilla, raspberry or pepper flavours?
"There are no standards of taste in wine, cigars, poetry, prose, etc.  Each man's own taste is the standard, and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standards."
- Mark Twain 1895

Here are the bottles and pairings for future reference:

  • Prosecco Superiore,  Santa Margherita, Valdobbiadene, Brut; with chevre wrapped in prosciutto around breadsticks, served with fresh figs Kaarinna 
  • Prosecco Superiore, San Fermo, Bellenda, Valdobbiadene, Brut; pizza topped with carmelized onions, mushrooms and roasted pepper Niki
  • Pinot Grigio, Santepietre, Lamberti, Delle Venezie, 2010; smoked salmon topped with dill and lemon on crostini Wendy
  • Anselmi, San Vincenzo, 2010; with Lincolnshire Poacher cheese Christina
  • Shymer, Syrah-Merlot, Sicilia (Baglio di Pianetto), 2008; with meatballs and sauce cooked in Sicilian style Annika
  • Sangiovese Merlot, Puglia, Mezzomondo; with lasagna Grace
  • Serego Alighieri in Toscano, Toscano, 2008 (Bello Ovile); with shaved chocolate Brix Laura
  • Valpolicella Classico, 2006 (Cantina di Negrar); with shrimp Nicolette
  • Valpolicella Superiore, Ripasso, 2009 (Cesari); with bocconcini tossed in garlic scape pesto fresh from Jimmy's garden! and fresh fruit kabobs Carolyn
  • Barolo, La Pieve (2005) Dogliani; with Testun Al Barolo cheese and frozen grapes Diane
While waiting for designated drivers to show, we sipped Monte Antico, Toscano (sangiovese, merlot, cabernet savignon).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Really? There are wines from countries other than Italy?

Pinotage - signature grape of S.A.
Although it seems I've been favouring Italian reds, other countries have been filling my glass just as well.  

The Bean is a flavourful coffee pinotage from South Africa.  There is a notice on the bottle, "no coffee beans were used, abused, or mistreated during the winemaking process."  Very oaky red.

Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde, a great value white from Portugal - less than $10 - with a score of 92.  

Chateau La Tour de By, Cru Bourgeios Superieur, Medoc.... very tasty Bordeaux from France

When I win the lottery I'll go on a wine tasting tour, Around the World in 80 Bottles.  In the meantime I'll sip on the grapes and look at google maps.

Illustration credit

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Full Long Nights Moon - December

With the winter solstice approaching in another 12 days, we are due for even shorter days and longer nights.

Time to enjoy the comfort of the season, the twinkling lights, and the promise of a distant spring.

Light a candle to celebrate the Full Long Nights Moon, which became full at 9:36 EST this morning.

In the mood for a little classical entertainment?
Clair de Lune, Debussy's moonlight sonata... hard to believe this beautiful scene was cut from Fantasia....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Great Paintings

Great Piece of Turf - Durer
I was reading through the Globe and Mail selections of gift books and saw a title I couldn't resist - Great Paintings:  The World's Masterpieces Explored and Explained.

I picked it up on the way home tonight.

A tour of 66 groundbreaking works from galleries around the world, the illustrations are lavish with pull-out details that deepen appreciation for the artists' skills and talents.

The realistic, almost photographic watercolour of turf was created by Durer more than 500 years ago, but it looks surprisingly modern to me... it was one of the first great nature studies.

Arcimbaldo is here! And Michaelangelo, Raphael, Rothko, Tom Thompson, Warhol....

Although there is a focus on Western and European art, the Qingming Scroll is here, and so is this Cypress Tree.  Akbar's Adventures with the Elephant, too (1561)

The Dance - Paula Rego
I'm looking forward to hours of unhurried pleasure as I rediscover some familiar faces and get introduced to some new.

This is the first time I've seen anything by Paula Rego. I like the fact it can be interpreted as a dance through the stages of a woman's life, from childhood to old age.

And it has a full moon in the sky, one of my favourite subjects.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Started Early Took My Dog

What a great title!

Quirky.  Funny.  Poetic.  Not necessarily words I'd normally associate with a mystery novel.

Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson was the Book Babes November selection, chosen by Nicolette. Nothing controversial here - all of us liked the book, which is the fourth in a detective series.

Nice touches.... Jackson, the central character, has a surprising penchant for poetry which was gained in some dark days of his personal history.  The novel ends with the Emily Dickinson poem, 'Hope is the thing with feathers'.

  • What he discovered was that the great novels of the world were about three things - death, money and sex. Occasionally a whale.  But poetry had wormed its way in, uninvited.  A Toad, can die of Light!  Crazy.

Great descriptions of English abbeys and National Trust properties which make me want to make a visit just to take in the scenery, like watching wild deer grazing out your cottage window or passing by Jane Seymour's bench.

  • ... the ruins had touched his soul in some inarticulate and melancholy place, the nearest thing to holiness for an atheistic Jackson.  He missed God.  But then who didn't?

Satiric observations nicely sum up the state of modern affairs:

  • "Western civilization had had a good run but now it had pretty much shopped itself out of existence."
  • "You go to sleep living in a prosperous country and you wake up in a poor one, how did that happen?  Where had the money gone, and why couldn't they just get it back?"

The plot is artful, if a bit gruesome, involving the murders of prostitutes and stolen identities over two different generations; told out of sequence in a nonlinear fashion. So sometimes it is a bit difficult to figure out which decade you're in or which character has the stage. Reading this on the kobo was challenging because it wasn't easy to thumb back and double-check previous pages.

If this were a film, it would definitely suit film noir.  I'd pick Guy Ritchie to direct and Hugh Laurie or Robert Downey Junior as Jackson.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Vino Italiano

While we were in Tuscany good wine was so accessible.  Even the supermarket shelves boasted amazing labels: amerone, barolo, chianti, brunello.

And so affordable!  At a restaurant here I recently paid $30 for a half litre of a red because it came from San Gimignano. I'm sure there it would have been less than ten euro for the entire bottle.

I don't think I'll ever forget the tasting we went to at the farm Tenuta Torciano to sample the featured local vintages: white Vernaccia San Gimignano, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunellos, Super Tuscans, Vin Santo, and a balsalmic aged for thirty years.

While there we picked up a few bottles to bring home, including a Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico Geneste.

I'll be sharing a bottle of the Montalcino at the Winter Solstice wine tasting this year.  Just sent the invites off to the Book Babes and I'm already looking forward to it!  The theme this year is, of course, Vino Italiano......

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seeing Red

Haven't been to an opening night in ....  I can't remember how long.

Lucky for me, Kaarina's date wasn't able to make it so I tagged along to the Canadian premiere of Red.

This Tony award winner had an outstanding script and I enjoyed how red was punctuated in the lighting: during a scene transition, on the character's fingertips;  at the end of a burning cigarette; in the warm glow of the hot lights.

The stand-out scene for me was when the actors flung themselves at the canvas with their brushes and turned the blank white slate into a red scream.  Live, and in less than three minutes. It was literally breathtaking (the actor playing Rothko was left panting).  To me this is a central, powerful metaphor.  Most of the time the characters talked about, looked at, pondered, paced, mixed, poured... yet so little time was actually spent in the physical creation of the art itself.

The dynamic between the artist and his assistant was fascinating to watch.  Rothko was cruel, self-absorbed.  The assistant was a blank canvas.  At the play's end, the young man is given his freedom and sent off into the world.  Like a Rothko painting, perhaps?

Orange Red Orange - Mark Rothko
I enjoyed the production, the direction and the actors' interpretation so I was surprised by how nasty the Toronto Star review was the next day in its attack on the Director. It seemed so vitriolic it made me wonder whether the reviewer had some snub he was trying to settle.  The Globe and Mail was far more generous. The National Post a bit less so.

In the play, another scene transition saw copies of Warhols, Jasper Johns, and Lichtensteins dance across the stage. Rothko felt these pieces unworthy to displace his work and saw them as meaningless representations that demanded little from the viewer.

Some of Rothko's paintings were exhibited this past summer at the AGO.  Over the years I've come to appreciate abstract expressionism, and can even claim a visceral connection with many.  Like Orange Red Orange, which I interpret and react to differently, depending on my mood.  I can't say I've ever been moved to tears, though:

Pop art, relying on figurative imagery, was the antithesis of Abstract Expressionism. Whereas Warhol often utilized "found" imagery in his paintings, Rothko used abstract forms and colour - although he denied being an "abstractionist" as recalled by Selden Rodman in his book Conversations with Artists.
Mark Rothko: "You might as well get one thing straight... I'm not an abstractionist."
Selden Rodman: "You're an abstractionist to me... You're a master of color harmonies and relationships on a monumental scale. Do you deny that?"
Mark Rothko: "I do. I'm not interested in relationships of color or form or anything else."
Selden Rodman: "Then what is it you're expressing?"
Mark Rothko: "I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on - and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate those basic human emotions... The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!"
(Selden Rodman, Conversations with Artists (NY: Capricorn Books, 1961) pp. 93-4)
Despite his denial of being an "abstractionist" Rothko and other Abstract Expressionists had fought hard over several decades for public acceptance of abstract art - through exhibitionsprotests and writings. When Pop reared its figurative head in the early 60s, Rothko saw it as a step backward rather than forward. When Sidney Janis presented many of the Pop artists (including Andy Warhol) in his 1962 exhibition, "The New Realists," Rothko, along with Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston and Robert Motherwell, resigned from the gallery. Guston's daughter Musa Mayer recalled that "Overnight, it seemed, the art world changed. My father was in despair over the selling of art, over the slick, depersonalized gloss - not only of Pop Art, but of Minimalism as well - that was taking center stage in New York. Art was no longer struggle; art had become marketing."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slow Food

Bacchus by Caravaggio
Spent a wonderful evening enjoying a long, slow meal and lingering at the table with Caroline, Maureen, Dick and Jim. It was Rob's and my turn to host, and the theme was 'Italian'.  Everyone bringing a course (or two) and fabulous bottles of wine to share.

Six hours to do Bacchus proud.

A rogue cricket had gotten loose in the house and was chirping loudly.

Between courses we went out on the deck to enjoy the unseasonably warm evening and take in the night air.

Bursts of flavour.  The portions were small enough to leave us wanting just a bit more, so at the end of the six courses we weren't over-stuffed. 

At one point Caroline and Rob brought my grandfather's self-portrait oil painting up from the basement and we hung it in the living room where he now looks wonderfully at home.  

Much merriment! And now plans for New Year's Eve....


  • antipasto - platter of tasty salamis, cheeses, olives & artichokes
  • primo - silken handmade ravioli stuffed with 2 different delectable fillings... mushroom and two cheeses
  • secondo - sweet and sour caponata and Tuscan chicken
  • salad - young greens + Pecorino brillo (light and fruity) served with pomegranates, and aged balsalmic
  • cheese  - tallegio + pecorino with truffle + brillo
  • dolce - rainbow sorbet with limoncello and blackberries - full of colour 
  • finish with espresso + biscotti + shots of limoncello

wines paired were barolo and chianti classico,
Fontanafredda Barolo
Montegiachi Chianti Classico

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

O Henry!

For Susan, who so kindly enquired after Henry.  He is still valiantly hanging on but the cold morning frost is causing him to wilt.  Such a desperate romantic, I have to admire his flagrant disregard for winter.  

November 23rd, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Golden beauty

This morning when I looked out the back window I couldn't believe the colour of the hosta by the pond... so very golden.  For many years I've admired it's summer foliage and slug resistance,  but I can't remember seeing it so brilliant in the fall.   Well positioned by the pond, even Ganesh seems to appreciate its heart-shaped leaves.  What's not to love?

Henry continues to astonish, and here it is November 18.

It snowed just north-east of here yesterday.  Frost blankets the earth at dawn.

And so the seasons turn.

Henry's still hanging in.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn glory

I am a lazy summer gardener, too many competing interests - sailing becomes a priority. So I have cultivated a garden with all-season interest and look forward to my plants displaying their autumn glory.
Henry astonishes me when he shows up in November, I have yet to take him for granted.  Here he is, November 13th (clematis)

Do these plants make my hips look big? (rose hip)
White and green ruffles - such presence! (cabbage)

Friday, November 11, 2011

On loan from Paris

On loan from Paris, the exhibit of Chagall and the Russian Avant-Gard was drawing crowds this blustery grey November day.

Blue Circus
What colour in the Blue Circus and Double Portrait.

I've long been a fan of Chagall but hadn't realized he was a Russian Jew who spoke only Yiddish up until he was 11 years old.  He had not even heard the word for 'art' in his small village of Vitebsk. This was the area that Catherine the Great had confined the Hasidic Jews, and it was rare for anyone to leave.  Higher education here was rare, and money was scarce, but there was a rich tradition of music.

Chagall nostalgically  painted many a fiddler on the roof,  inspiring the image of the film of the same name.

I learned Hasidic translates from the Hebrew as "loving kindness" and as part of the spiritual and mystic tradition God is seen as a spark of goodness living in all things.

Double Portrait with Wine Glass
I love the Double Portrait he created of himself and his wife, Bella.  Such a celebration of light and love.  She was his muse for 29 years, and when she died he couldn't even hold a paintbrush for an entire year.

He did go on to other loves,  dying more 40 years later in St. Paul de Vence when he was 98 years old.

I came across his grave there, not knowing in advance his resting place would be overlooking the countryside in Provence.  Respectfully, I placed a pebble in his honour.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Full Frosty Moon - November

The moon has looked full to me for a few days now.  Especially since the nights are getting longer.  The Full Frosty moon is peeking through my bedroom skylight and shining in my eyes, and it is glowing in the mornings when I sit for meditation.  Bright enough to cast shadows.

Today though, at 20:16 the moon is 'officially' full.

I found a fabulous site by googling moon music.  And another.

November is such a moody month, I think this song strikes the perfect chord.

Illustration credit

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great Value Reds

Good buys

It's getting into party season! 

These are two of my late summer/fall faves from the LCBO; not just for the price point, but great taste.

Italy | Drei Dona Tenuta La Palazza
VINTAGES 39958 | 750 mL | 
$ 15.00

Sangiovese is most readily associated with Tuscany, but that is not to say that the grape cannot thrive elsewhere. From Emilia-Romagna, in Central Italy, this example offers spice and red berry on the nose, followed by a palate that is dry and finely structured with a balancing acidity. Great length. This is a perfect match for gourmet pizza, or one of the region's famous exports, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (VINTAGES panel, July 2010)

Spain | Bodega San Gregorio
VINTAGES 15073 | 750 mL | 
$ 13.55

Driven by naturally low yields, the red wines of the Calatayud region are real rising stars of Spanish wine. The Grenache blend here offers delectable aromas of redcurrant, sweet ripe fruit and suggestions of dried figs, tar and leather. This medium-bodied, easy-drinking red is a superb value at this price point. Enjoy with veal marsala or rack of lamb.

Autumn colours

Witch hazel, sedum and weeping maple put on their fall dress

Toad lily - exotic, fragile looking, funny and sexy... that's a lot of personality!

Weeping maple... going out in a blaze of orange...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I quit smoking 10 years ago, as of November 2.

Definitely one of the harder things I've done.  It must have taken me over 100 tries, but eventually it stuck for more than a week, then more than a month, a year, and now... a DECADE!!!

I am still quitting, there are still moments, but I am so happy to have reached this milestone!

Illustration credit

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dia de los muertos

We've had a few trick-or-treaters at the door tonight.  So cute!  A little Harry Potter, 2 pint-sized Astronauts (twins),  a Zombie Princess, a stuffed dog, and of course a few skeletons.   We bought enough candy for 200+ kids, because we're used to heavier traffic.  Looks like lots of leftovers!

As much as I like our Halloween traditions, Day of the dead, celebrated November 1 and November 2 all over Mexico, looks like more fun.  Making offerings and celebrating the lives of those who have died and we miss, sharing a drink or two and reminiscing.....

illustration source

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Sail of the Season

dusk at anchor
The second weekend in October was our Indian summer, and Rob and I made the best of it as we sailed over to Toronto Island.  We weren't the only boaters taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, and motored past the last available space on the wall to drop anchor at one of our favourite Island spots.

Later the next day, we went beach-combing along the rocky shore, bumping into only two or three other people...  We had the view to ourselves, but there was evidence we weren't the only ones to appreciate this unique island park.

An aspiring Andy Goldsworthy had built a cairn along the shore with found materials. 

And there was an panicked love letter, wrapped in plastic and taped to a picnic table, "Hi!  Brazilian Girl!"  The writer had fallen in love on the ferry, arranged a meeting, missed the connection, and was desperate to find his lost love.  I wonder if he ever found her, or if he will be forever unrequited? I wonder if the cairn builder and letter writer were the same person, even though the stones and the picnic table were several hundred meters apart?

Winds were light, but we kept the sails up, wing on wing, for the trip back to BPYC.  It took hours longer than it normally would, but I didn't mind a bit.

Early this morning Yondering had her Haul Out. She's in the cradle for the winter.

click to enlarge any photos below
Lost love

Andy Goldsworthy?

Yondering wih CN Tower in distance

Wing on wing is a beautiful thing......

Friday, October 28, 2011

Putting the garden to bed...

Admiring the toad lily, winter cabbage, snake root and late blooming roses.

Still, it's time to put the garden to bed.

Emptying the flower pots, putting the annuals back into the ground to over-winter.

Digging up the cala lilies, begonias, and peacock orchids to store the bulbs over winter.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breaking Bad

After watching a few episodes I feel totally stressed because the suspense is so incredible.  Yet I can't stop.  I'm totally addicted!  How appropriate for a series that looks into 'cooking' crystal meth.

Rob and I hadn't watched the AMC series 'Breaking Bad', but Liz was raving about it when we were on vacation.  So,  early October, we started into the Season One DVDs. Now, 26 episodes later, we're launching into the Season 3 DVDs.

Long form drama like this is so immersive, I find myself entirely caught up in Walter White's predicament.  As much fun as it is to lose an entire weekend to back-to-back viewings, it's going to be tough to withdraw to weekly episodes when we get up to speed with Season 4.

The two main characters, Jessie and Walt, make an interesting study in ethics, the power of intention and the philosophical quandary of whether the end justifies the means.   As they go about expanding their business and face hurdle after hurdle, you almost find yourself rooting for their success... or at the very least, their survival. 

Friday, October 21, 2011


For my birthday this year some wonderful ladies at the BPYC Book Club chipped in to buy a Kobo for me.

I figured it would take me a few books to get comfortable, so I started with a classic -  Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  I brought it along to Italy, loaded with The Prince (Machiavelli); The Inferno (Dante); and the Decameron (Boccacio).

There's a lot to like about my eReader.  The convenience.  How compact it is.  The adjustable font size.  Being able to highlight sections for later reference (perfect for the book club!).  Sharing eBooks with other readers in the club.  But mostly I like it because it was a birthday gift from some wonderful women.

It did take a bit of getting used to, but by the time I read Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay for our book club meeting this week, I'd gotten perfectly used to reading this way. 

Although the book this month was enjoyed by everyone, there were some common criticisms.  Why, o why was that romantic ending conjured up?  It seemed so superfluous.  The ending was so incredibly sacharine compared with the rest of the novel it didn't seem to fit.  Pressure from the agent to appeal to Hollywood?

I'll have to get around to seeing the movie while the book is still fresh in my mind.  This may be one instance where the film ends up being better than the book:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Low GI Diet

It seems every time you turn around there is contradictory advice.  Low fat, no fat, local, macrobiotic, high protein, low GI.  Yikes!

Sunday on CBC Radio I listened to a convincing anti-carbs argument from the author of 'Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It"
Today, Mr. Taubes is the world's best known spokesman for the "low carbohydrate" approach to nutrition.He claims that our decades-long obsession with counting calories and banning fat from our diet is actually the PROBLEM, rather than the solution to the obesity epidemic. All this has left the professionals at war with one another. And us left in the middle with no idea whether skim milk is a health food or a deadly poison.  The Sunday Edition

By coincidence, at my annual physical earlier this week, my doctor advised me to go on a low GI Diet, and cut way back on my starches.  I actually got a bit pissed off -  I just figured out this Weightwatchers thing!  The doctor must have mistook the look on my face for confusion, because she expanded a bit to say, a "no carbs diet".  When I asked her a few questions, like 'what about oatmeal in the morning?' she said only in moderation.  

Truthfully I've felt a bit sorry for myself the last few days because so many of my favourite foods seem to be yet again on some forbidden list; and because it seems I'm going to have to learn a new system and I don't know whether I really feel like it after just being three months in to WW.

Well, doctors aren't nutritionists, that's for sure.  Turns out the low GI Diet actually encourages oatmeal.  Pasta, not so much.  Foods on the GI Index with ratings that don't surprise me are: 'High GI', such as white sugar, flour, bread, pasta (which I don't much indulge other than pasta).  On the 'high' list that do surprise me are pumpkin, dates and watermelon.