Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fluttering by...

Such a gorgeous winged creature!  It stopped by to rest in my backyard this afternoon, a thunderstorm in the air.

Question Mark Butterfly

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Babes AGM - 2012

There was a full house when Virginia and I arrived at Nicki's Friday night for the Annual General Meeting of the Book Babes.

Our book club started in 2003.  That's more than a hundred well-chosen books. The AGM started in 2007,  I think, and it has become the ritual time to pick the next year's selection, review a title or two, eat some wonderful meals, and most importantly enjoy each other's company.

Many of the books chosen over the years were ones I wouldn't normally pick for myself.  We are a diverse group of readers, and it has been enlightening to witness how great books are not necessarily unanimously enjoyed.  Hearing people's perspectives brings new understanding, dimensions and appreciation... not just to the books, but the friendships.  This is also a fabulous network for advice and support that goes way beyond literature.  I can honestly say this club - and these women - have widened my horizons and enriched my life in countless ways.

The itinerary

Back to Friday night.  Louise, Linda, Liz and Judy had already arrived  and a delicious dinner was being prepped (homemade pizza with arugula/strawberry salad).  Conversation and wine lasted well into the evening and no one was in a hurry to get out of bed the next morning.

Saturday, the weather was bathing-suit-on-the-dock warm, with some kayaking and a few swimmers wading into the cold Wineva Lake.

In the afternoon we were off to Louise's place down the road to discuss the May selection, a book called, "Running North - A Yukon Adventure," all about dog sledding and mushing. Laura and Debra arrived in time to join the discussion.  Unfortunately, this book was out of print and hard to find (nothing on kobo or in the TPL).  Our talk soon turned to the Ididerod and mushing in general.  Winter Dance in Haliburton has a sled run and it sounds like it would be fun to try!

The local radio station serenaded us again this year when Tim (Nicki's husband), played "Fever" for us on his jazz show.

Saturday night, another wonderful meal (salmon and pork tenderloin) more revelry, conversation, book talk, and even a bit of dancing...

Sunday morning we picked the books for the coming year, everyone offering two picks with the group democratically voting for the title of choice.  Nicolette skyped in because she was on call.

The book picks

Our reading list for the next year:

July  (Pat)At Home-A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
Aug (Miriam): Complications A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by A. Gawande 
Sept (Liz & Christina): The Sense of an Ending by Julien Barnes
Oct (Debra):  Why Men Lie by Linden MacIntyre 
Nov (Nicolette):  Life is About Losing Everything, short stories by Lynn Crosbie
December (Diane):  Solstice wine tasting
Jan (Virginia): Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Feb (Judi):  11-23-62 by Stephen King
Mar (Nicki): Half-Blood blues by Esi Edugyan 
Apr (Laura): Happiness Economics by Shari Lapena (hopefully  author can come)
May (Louise):  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese
June (Diane): The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
July (Pat): Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by S. Cain

things to try at home...
  • soft boiled eggs on a breakfast sandwich (use a pin to prick the small end of the egg and boil for 6 minutes); top on a toasted English muffin with tomato and cheese
  • salmon, potatoes and fennel grilled in foil (thinly, thinly sliced potato and fennel underneath the salmon, lightly seasoned with oil, butter, ginger, salt and pepper)
  • grilled pineapple wedges dusted with cinnamon powder
  • rice casserole (prepare up to 1 day ahead if desired:  cook rice, add spinach, pepper, mushrooms, cheddar cheese & then bake in oven)

    A Luna Moth
      dropped by to join the party Friday night...

      thanks Nicki for hosting another fabulous AGM!

      Friday, May 25, 2012

      Beauty Bush

      The daphne bush is fading and the beauty bush is just about to burst.  The first tiny blossoms are opening and the bees are already buzzing about - they seem to come for miles.

      If the taste is anything like the perfume I would love to try the honey a colony of bees could make from these flowers! 

      May 19
      fading:  bleeding hearts, daphne, tulips
      budding: beauty bush, roses, peony bush, clematis, sage
      blooming:  tree peony, first ten or so poppies, sweet woodruff, may apples

      Wednesday, May 23, 2012


      April 30
      I can't believe how much fun it is to have a kitten in the house!  We found this adorable creature on Craig's list April 29.  The ad said she was part Maine Coon, but given how much she is at home in the garden and how much she loves to climb,  I figure she may have some Norweigan Forest in her lineage (she's almost a twin of this purebred's photo).

      We went back and forth between two different names, Kiko (which means adorable in Japanese) and Griskit (the namesake of one of my mom's cats from long-ago).  In the end, the name Griskit (rhymes with biscuit) stuck with the majority in our house.

      Purrs like a small engine.

      In three weeks she has doubled in size but still seems far from full grown.  She has coils in the bottom of her paws that cause her to jump perpendicularly 3' up in the air without any hint of warning.

      She runs around without any apparent agenda, other than to burn off abundant energy trying to be everywhere  all at once.  She's a real climber - trees of course - but also shower curtains, screen doors, deck fences, and occasionally human legs (trousered or not).  She's a very social animal, and loves our company.  Hmm, I guess this makes her a social climber of sorts.

      Anyway, we love having her around, she's a great addition to the household!
      May 20

      Tuesday, May 22, 2012

      To and fro

      Great to kick back and relax and this long weekend we couldn't have asked for better weather!  Unseasonably warm, an early summer.

      We celebrated Queen Victoria's birthday by spending a lot of time to-ing and fro-ing between the boat and the garden.

      Friday night Rob and Alex planted the Red Dragon in front yard, which meant transplanting the barberry shrub.  Both look comfortable in their new home (the plants, I mean).

      Saturday we headed down to BPYC ready to trim the sails.  We met a bit of a challenge fitting the jib on the new furling so instead of sailing, we motored to an anchorage with a view of the CN Tower.  There were four boats on the hook and lots of night herons to keep us company.

      Back in the garden on Sunday afternoon to loaf and laugh at the kitten stalking, bounding and climbing about.  I napped in the sun.

      To the club for a barbecue and sleep on the boat, watching a few episodes of Larry Sanders on DVD.

      Waking Monday morning.  Yes!  A sail!  The new furling allows us to point more tightly into the wind, and it doesn't take as much muscle to bring in the jib.

      Home for dinner on Monday night.

      Then down to the Beach.  Prince Charles and Camilla were in town to preside over the fireworks scheduled at Ashbridges Bay,  and there was a wonderful display in honour of the Queen's Jubilee.

      Home again,  home again, jiggity-jig.  Sat out in the dark with a candle, listening to the whistle and pop of neighbourhood fireworks.

      Wonderfully sleepy, and so, to bed.

      Monday, May 21, 2012

      Happy Mothers' Day

      Alex and I spent the day potting, with the kitten discovering the ferns and ravine in the back.  She loves the greenery, running under the wild ginger, batting twigs and leaves.

      Rob came back from his boys' weekend bearing treasure:  a Red Dragon cut leaf maple to stand guard in the front; and a laughing Buddha to dance in the back.

      Happy Mothers' Day!

      May 12
      blooming: bleeding hearts, foam flower, euphorbia, Solomon's seal, tulips, sweet woodruff, daphne, lewisa, tree peony
      budding: poppies, clematis, peony bush

      360 Degrees

      Alex' graduation from university - cum laude yet!  Convocation is still a few weeks away, but why wait to celebrate?


      Up the CN Tower to the rotating restaurant, 360 degrees.  We went last Monday.

      The view was truly spectacular.  We timed our visit in the early evening, knowing the light would change on the scenery from daylight to twilight to sunset to evening.  Watching the ferries and water traffic, seeing the planes take off from the Island Airport, the downtown all a-glitter.

      We stuffed ourselves with three courses and paid the extra bucks for the touristy group shot, but really...

      The world at his feet, that is what I really wish I could give him. Isn't that every mother's dream?

      Friday, May 18, 2012

      Botanical Clouds

      The tree peony is putting on an amazing show this year!  When I came out the side door to head to work this morning I had to stop for a full minute to admire the flowers, as big as dinner plates. 

      Then Rob got out of the car and snapped some photos, sending them to me at work so I could enjoy them during the day.  "Botanical clouds" is what he labeled the .jpg - how suitable.

      The flowers have a light, delicate perfume and the blooms seem to have a strange, hypnotic power.

      Tonight as I was heading up my street I noticed an older man holding the hand of a child about three years old, walking up my driveway to get a closer look at the tree peony.  I think I surprised them as I followed just behind, catching them in the act, so I gave them a big smile to reassure them I didn't mind their visit to my garden. The grandfather said something in Japanese, and then "beautiful," pronounced in a slow, halting English.  "Enjoy!" I said, hurrying past so they would stay and enjoy the view.  I was delighted the two of them shared a stolen moment, visitors who obviously had such discriminating taste!

      Tuesday, May 15, 2012

      The Art of Racing in the Rain

      We were due for a funny read, so Margaret judged this book by its cover and The Art of Racing in the Rain became the BPYC book selection for May.  It wasn't exactly hilarious but it was definitely a fabulous read.  Uplifting and hopeful.

      Told from the dog's point of view, the story offers a unique perspective from an immediately lovable character.  Enzo watches tv and believes his next incarnation will be human.  He covets opposable thumbs.  And he loves his race-car-driver Master, Denny, with unquestioning loyalty.

      Racing in the rain becomes an allegory for life.

      Certain phrases really stuck with me:

      To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am.  I am.  That is something to aspire to.  When I am a person, that is how I will live my life.

      "What just happened isn't important," Denny said.  "Let's think about what's going to happen next.  Get in your car."

      It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything.  And everything is you.

      "That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny."

      Unanimously enjoyed by everyone who came out to discuss the book.  Denny faces a trial and emerges with grace, but this is less of a morality tale than it is about fortitude and strength of character.  There is an ugly custody battle for his daughter, fought against the rich parents of his late wife.  The father-in-law is especially despicable.

      Strangely, the book was hard to find in the library and book stores, despite its history on the New York Times bestseller list (2008). imdb notes the title as 'in development' - let's hope it is a strong adaptation.

      Saturday, May 12, 2012

      Portraits of Dora Maar

      Dora Maar was a french poet, photographer and painter who ultimately became best known for being one of Picasso's lovers and muses.  She and Pablo shared their lives from 1935-1944.

      ... by Picasso

      ... by Man Ray
      ... by Dora Maar

      Friday, May 11, 2012

      Picasso's Picassos

      The Bathers
      The AGO exhibition features works from Picasso's own private collection, now in the holdings of the Musee National Picasso in Paris.

      Works from the blue period, rose period, experimentation in African, cubism, classism.

      I loved so much of the sculpture.  Quirky forms, motion in stillness, simplicity.

      I was astounded at the array of styles.  He was always changing, trying something new, evolving.  His sculpture borrowed from painting; and his painting from sculpture.  Even within his own 'periods' he experimented out of bounds.

      Ceaselessly prolific, he devoured influences and created innovation after innovation, inventing new styles that forever changed the course of modern art. He was a genius and knew it... 
      - AGO Exhibition  Guide

      Here are some of my favourite paintings from the exhibition.

      Bacchanal, Fauns and Goat

      Bullfight, Death of Toreador

      Man with straw hat and ice cream cone (self-portrait)

      Thursday, May 10, 2012

      It's my boat too!

      At the Boat Show this winter I picked up a book called, "It's Your Boat Too".  Maybe some of the women in my sailing club can relate? 

      The book aims to empower women to make the transition from passenger to a more active role by addressing common fears and self-limiting attitudes.  So when Wendy organized the Maritime Radio Course this winter, I signed up and got my licence. Hotel uniform romeo romeo alpha yankee! 

      The book is written by navy Commander Suzanne Giesmann and is full of tips and inspiration, but can be quickly summed up by the phrase, "Education, experience, and prevention:  these are the keys to serenity at sea."  

      I have to say I truly admire the women in our club who single-hand sail and dock their boats with confidence. Although single-handed sailing may not be on my personal agenda this summer I do intend to improve my docking skills.   

      So if you see Yondering dressed up with lots and lots of fenders flown over the sides, backing in and out of our slip over and over and over again, you'll know it's me at the helm.

      Perhaps some like-minded women can get together for drills?  Who knows, maybe we can even crew a BPYC boat for Women on the Water Regatta at the Island Yacht Club on June 23rd.

      See you on the lake!

      Wednesday, May 9, 2012

      May Flowers

      Alex and I hung out by the chiminea fire on Sunday night, the perfume of the lily of the valley and daphne strong enough to compete with the smell of smoke.  

      I love my garden in spring, the slow, fireworks show of blooms and leaves unfurling.
      foamflower is foaming

      in bloom
      • daphne
      • lily of the valley
      • solomon seal 
      • bleeding heart  
      • sweet woodruff
      • lewisa cotyledon
      • brunerra (Jack Frost)
      • foamflower
      • a few mid-season blooming tulips
      on their way
      • peonies (tree and bush)
      • clematis
      • poppies
      • daphne and sweet woodruff
      • lilacs

      in the wild ginger and mayapple

      pretty blue brunera Jack Frost flowers

      Sunday, May 6, 2012

      Full Flower Moon - May

      Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Supermoon!

      Tonight's moon will seem as much as 16 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than others this year...

      May is known for its Full Flower Moon, and I hope to be celebrating by dancing to the light of the moon at the Commodore's Ball in some golden, sparkly, high-heels.

      illustration credit