Wednesday, July 27, 2011

45 days to Tuscany!

Casale Rosanna details
Just paid the balance on the villa in Tuscany for September!

Poking around with some online Italian lessons, the one from the BBC is fun and interactive.

Also reading Every Day In Tuscany, by Frances Mayes.  I love it so much I will likely pick up the other titles:  Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany.  The memoir is a great slice of life with lots of details about food, gardens & wine.

My copy is all dog-eared:
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  • I'd like to stand up and quote Cesare Pavese:  "A gulp of my drink," he wrote, "and my body can taste the life/ of plants and of rivers." (p. 31)
  • The brilliant yellow lemons rival the beauty of the dangling orange persimmons, kaki, in many gardens,  Before the first hard freeze of November, back the pots go into the limonaia... I learned to mend my vase...   I thought it was the ultimate in thrift when I saw huge lemon trees in pots held together by wire.  Even small geraniums on steps would often be wired (p.60).
  • I miss the balcony when the jasmine, lemon, and tigli, linden, scents collide and seem to emanate from the moon. (p.61)
  • I don't need a celestial paradise; I'll take my immortality here. (p.62)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Winning by losing

illustration credit
When the emphasis is on what you can't have, there is just one massive black hole needing to be filled.

I quit smoking 10 years ago, and it was tough.  Since then I've put on about one pound each year.  Not a gi-normous amount, but still, I think it's time to take it off. :-)

When I quit smoking, I must have attempted 1000 times.  Agony!  I still want a cigarette, to tell you the truth.  I still dream about smoking and when I do, it is a nightmare... one of those dreams within a dream, where you think it is real, then hope it is a dream and can't really be happening, and then realize with horror it's actually real, and then wake up with total relief!  Usually I get this dream once or twice a year, after I've been hanging out with smokers.

Anyway, tangent.  What made me successful over the last ten years was wanting health and wellness, and wanting to save money...  In other words, thinking about what I would GAIN by quitting.  Focusing on abundance vs. deprivation.

So... right off the bat, trying to 'lose' weight just doesn't resonate.  Automatically setting myself up with a not-too-enjoyable proposition.  I LOVE food!  I NEED food!  Why would I want less of something that brings me so much pleasure?

I guess there are many keys to this dilemma.  What will I gain by losing?

Better health + a more youthful 'Real Age' + more energy + feeling better in my own skin.

I know, I know, I'm ranting.... and googling about the notion of willpower:

In the meantime here is something to smile about, a re-enactment of the famous kid's Stanford Marshmallow experiment. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

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Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter 5
I walk down another street.
~ Portia Nelson ~

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seretonin Overdrive

Wow.  I am totally blissed out.  Day 14 of my holiday, another 12 to go.  Time was going really slow, now it seems to be racing ahead of me.

I am squandering my Time: rocking on the boat, bike riding, kite flying, listening to waves, looking at the city lights, going to the beach, just hanging out,  following my own rhythm, losing track of Time.

Flew this so long today the image is there even when I close my eyes.
I must have said "Awesome!" 50 times today, exclaiming at the scenery & the taste of things.  The feel of the night breeze on my bare arms, and stepping into water on the rocky shore.  Such a handy adjective, verb, noun. Chant.

This is Awe-some awesome Some-Awe some-awe

from this perspective it seems the boat is on a dangerous precipice, but it was pleasantly bobbing along the shore.

Earlier this evening.
4 nights straight enjoying the breeze on the pier... essential with such hot days!

View from the boat - the lights on the CN Tower put on a constant show....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New discoveries on the Island

Started this Island Holiday with Maureen, Dick &  Caroline anchored on an island inlet and toasting the full raspberry moon with champagne.  This is the first time we've ever anchored overnight on the island.  Tucked around the corner without a view of the city, Dick remarked we could be in the Thousand Islands.  It sure felt secluded!  Until the party boats promenaded by with their colourful lights.

The next morning, Caroline pointed out some diving ducks and we looked them up - canvasbacks?  teals?  black ducks?  Not entirely sure,  but it was fun watching the adult coach the ducklings to dip and disappear.
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Our sailing companions headed out in the afternoon but we stayed awhile, swinging on a hook, before heading out for a late afternoon sail in favourable winds.  We even did some wing-on-wing.

After a breezy tour around the island, we dropped anchor again and I assembled a delicious meal from left-overs in the icebox (chicken on iceburg lettuce with oranges, almonds & St. Augere cheese).

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It grew dark, and I saw a creature skulking on the shore with a bristly back.  (Did I mention we were right by the water treatment plant?).  It was about the size of what I imagined to be a huge rat.  When it turned in profile, I saw the beak and realized with relief that it was a Night Heron.  In fact, a whole row of them.  We counted six silhouettes in the dark.  As they dove into the water, there was barely a splash.  One came up with a frog that it stretched like an elastic before swallowing it whole.

Today, made the acquaintance of a stoat on the docks at the Toronto Island Marina.  I can't remember ever seeing one before, but they've been around since the Ice Age.  Apparently you can tell the difference between a stoat and weasel by the length of the tail.
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At least three more days of my island holiday!  Right now I am docked at QCYC and looking forward to a cool shower.  Rob has had to head back to the city to work, and it won't be the same without him. Still, looking forward to some Island time!  Wandering in the gardens, taking in the view, and maybe making some new discoveries....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three recent reads....

Of three recent reads, my favourite is definitely Lapham's Quarterly, summer edition Food. I've spent hours enjoying the illustrations, essays and sidebars. Glancing at a single page brings hours of thought and imaginings.

Food has contributions from Emperor Julian, Duke Ellington, Hunter S. Thompson, Edo, and Charles Beaudelaire.  The illustrations are beautiful - including one of my all-time favourites from Arcimbaldo.

I've seen the quarterly on the shelf before but passed it up because it seemed pricey.  But how could I pass up one on this subject?  Certainly lots of "food for thought".

One sidebar offers:  Meal Plans Daily Menus at various institutions  through time and history(p 119); another offers the  William Carlos Williams poem, Icebox Note; and another Foreign Delicacies in Three Easy Steps, with recipes for fried tarantula, river pig, and maggot-ridden pecorino cheese (p.68).

Great quotes/toasts peppered throughout:
  • It is a hard matter, my fellow citizens, to argue with the belly, since it has no ears (Cato the Elder)
  • No lyric poems live long or please many people which are written by drinkers of water (Horace, 20 BC)
  • When men drink, then they are rich and successful and win lawsuits and are happy and help their friends.  Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever (Aristophanes, 424 BC)
  • Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die (Book of Isaiah)
  • He who eats alone chokes alone (Arab proverb)
Chop Suey, Edward Hopper (1929)

I felt obligated to read the The Sentimentalist when it won the Giller; I became obligated when it ended up as one of the Book Club selections. Not loving it. I find my mind wanders and I wonder what's going on as the plot unfolds upon itself. There is one bit I like, though, and that is the boat that was purchased with the intention to fix up and and then sits in the driveway for years. It moves when it is trailered from one place to another, floating along the driveway (and I imagine, sailing down the hiway). Reading this right after The Tale of the Unknown Island, the metaphor gains even more significance. I will go back to this again in August and give it another try....

Liz P. gave me Room as a gift, and I finally got around to reading it on the way home from Victoria. It was almost the perfect length for the plane ride. By the second chapter the first-person voice of the five-year-old was really getting on my nerves, but I persevered, hoping the two main characters would find their way out of confinement soon as I was losing patience. While the novel itself was inspired by real events, the insights of the five-year-old require a huge suspension of disbelief.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Full Buck Moon - July

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July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.  
- Farmers Almanac

......... also known as:  Raspberry Moon, Mead Moon, Corn Tassel Moon, and Whale Moon...
- Star Dance

And have you heard?  

"The full moon eats clouds"

Strait of Juan de Fuca

We stayed three nights at an amazing beach house right on the ocean, by the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The cozy cabin had a stone fireplace, dining nook with ocean view, a turret with a home office and windows that opened so you could hear the Salish Sea.  A friend of Rob's sister was generous enough to let us stay, so we cancelled the B & B we'd reserved on Saltspring Island to take advantage of the offer.
Literally a stone's throw away from the deck to the ocean.  What a vista!  Always changing with the tides, the light, the clouds. Bald eagles, seals and otters all making their appearances.

View from living room window
The otters were especially entertaining.  Six of them tumbled out of the sea, muscling their way along the beach.  Two with fish in their mouths.  Cavort was the perfect word.  We watched as they made their way out of the water, and across the highway; returning later in the day along the same path.

The last night we had a fire as the tide came in and the sun set.  A seal kept popping its head out, lurking like a spy.
The last morning, a bald eagle soaring, looking for breakfast.


Bengal Lounge
Victoria is a young city - only about 150 years or so - but it is steeped in British tradition.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel is impressive.  Instead of taking in a traditional tea, the group of us went to the Bengal Lounge for Pimms.  Leather chairs, a ferocious tiger above the fireplace, Indian curry on the buffet.... I felt as though I had stepped back to Colonial India.  The cocktails tasted of herbs and were garnished with cucumber (Pimms Rangoon?)

A group of us stayed at the Huntington Inn, right inside the Inner Harbour, and an easy walk to downtown.

Gatsby House
One of the highlights was getting together for a pre-wedding meal at the Gatsby House (circa 1900) with  Rob and all his siblings, most of the kids, and most of the partners.  It was raucous fun, a memorable evening.  And all we had to do was cross the courtyard to lay our heads in our beds.

What truly astonishes me about Victoria though is how close it is to such majesty.  The forests are amazing cathedrals, the ocean is humbling.  Everything seems larger than life.  Wilderness is only an hour's drive from the capital.

Goldstream Park, French Beach, China Beach....  time spent gazing in wonder at just how green a fern can be, or how much a cloud can look like a wave (or is that vice-versa?)

My bags came home weighted with souvenirs - rocks collected along the beaches!

Goldstream Park
French Beach

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cause for celebration

We traveled to Victoria to witness our niece Meredith get married to Adam.  What a happy couple, and what a beautiful wedding day!  

Meredith is the first of our nieces or nephews to get married, so several relatives made the journey - including  Arden who is visiting from Australia.  It was a pleasure watching Alex with his cousins.   Such strong familial resemblances.

These kids... well, they're not kids anymore.  My heart is full of hope looking at them... they seem happy & healthy & wise for their years.  Their lives ahead.

A new generation.

And now I remember, being that age, when the older generation got all teary-eyed and wondered where the time went.  "I remember when you were just a baby," and they'd shake their heads, incredulous.

One of life's magic tricks, I find myself a time traveler this summer evening.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Rob and I spent Canada Day sailing, enjoying the cool summer day.

Dropping anchor, watching the sun set and the city light up at dusk.

I'm not sure what was more entertaining... seeing the big show or watching all the smaller flares light up along the beach.

Vasa 1628

I picked up 2 of these porcelain mugs for 50 cents apiece at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago...  now we keep them on the boat.

These are from some lucky traveler's trip to Stockholm and the Water Museum there... lucky for me they were clearing out their cupboards.

I love these little details with my morning cup of coffee:  puffed out sails, curly waves, cavorting gulls, flying fish, and  underwater deep sea divers!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Inuit Modern

Enchanted Owl
Spent a lunch hour viewing incredible masterpieces on display at Inuit Modern - AGO.

Prints, drawings and sculptures from the collection of Samuel and Esther Sarick.  What joy they must have had acquiring these treasures.

Taking it all in, in such a quick blur left me with dizzying mixed impressions.  I enjoyed the pace but fully expect to return to take my time and savour some of these pieces again.

There was a great variety:  a cribbage board dwarfed by player's pieces of caribou and bear; an early print of the Enchanted Owl stamp by Kenojuak Ashevak; the head of a female caribou with eyes of haunting depth; a playful drawing of a curtain of mosquitoes at a hunting camp; shamans dancing; spirits protecting mothers and children.

There are also the pieces that show the assault on the Inuit culture:  one of children sitting in rows reading from books, instead of in a story circle, jumped out at me as introducing a separateness of isolation and individualism.  There was another that contrasted square settlement houses with domed tents... a stark image that begs so many questions. And Sedna, the Inuit Sea Goddess, stretched on a cross like Christ.

The myth of Sedna, Inuit Goddess of the sea, is a myth shared by the Inuit and other North Pole peoples. After several trials and contests with her father over whom she should marry,  Sedna's father throws her in the sea from his boat and as she tries to climb back in he cuts off her fingers, one by one, so that she cannot grasp the boat. The fingers become the sea mammals and Sedna, falling to the bottom, becomes the goddess of the sea and sea life.  Aboriginal Spirituality
There were many manifestations of Sedna.  She must have been a personal favourite of the Sarick's.  And if you can't get to the AGO to check out Inuit Modern, at least check out this google gallery of images of the mythical goddess ...