Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy Canada Day

Saturday... six and a half hours on the same tack, fair winds carrying us to Fifty Point. The marina is  in a park, with hiking trails and beaches. Very picturesque.

This was a club cruise. We left at 9:30 in the morning, and people who had set out at 9:00 missed the breeze and ended up motoring. They arrived at 3:30 pm, we arrived at 7:00 pm. As we approached the harbour, there was a beautiful ribbon of light traveling towards us from the horizon.

Sunday was spent biking into Grimsby and then back again. After that we enjoyed the company of fellow Bluffers, playing bocci and enjoying a convivial meal. I'd estimate the cruise had about 13 boats trek there and back, and we got a chance to chat with some people and get to know them better. Turns out Nairn and Ann are from my hometown.

Monday we headed back and unfortunately the winds were not with us. It was ten hours bouncing up and down, the motor droning on and on.  White caps and swells up to 2 meters. Strong wind warnings in effect. If we didn't have to get back to work we would have stayed a few days to wait for more favourable conditions.

Maureen joined us for the return trip, and after about 9.5 hours on the water, as we were geting close to the club, a huge wave came over the side and drenched both her and Rob. Thankfully it was near the end instead of the beginning, because the two of them would have ended up chilled to the bone. With such cool temperatures it was hard to believe it was July 1st.

Sweet Tooth

Serena works for a spy agency and her first big assignment has a literary bent.

She needs to recruit a writer who will promote the cause, someone on the left who can speak to the right. Award them a generous pension so they can devote their talents to writing stories that undermine the fashionably liberal mentality of the times and shift popular thought.

Stories within stories. Serena reads his galleys, and some foreshadow events that are yet to unfold. She finds herself falling, and then deeply in love, holding a secret that will drive her lover away if she tells. Does she?

Characters in the story discuss the stories, giving different points of view on the probability of events and judging literary merit.

In addition to the short fiction within the novel, the characters mention other novels in passing that are now on my 'to read' list: The Rachel Papers, by Martin Amis and Swimmer in the Secret Sea, by Willian Kotzwinkle.

.... I think this may be my next pick for the BPYC Book Club.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sittin alone at home in my backyard...

Got home late from work, and gave Rob a call to see when he would be home. Of course, I fully expected that on such a fine day he would be out on the water and I wasn't wrong. I could hear the brisk wind blowing and I admit, I was a bit jealous when I heard Yondering was getting a speed of 6 knots.

Until I realized that would give me some time in the garden to just sit and relax.

In the front garden, the Nelly Moses is happily showing off on the front porch, enjoying its season. The first roses are blooming and in the pink. The peonies are  shedding their last.

The back garden is green, green, green. The Beauty Bush has dropped all it's petals and there is nothing but the potted annuals in flower, but the clematis are about to burst. Henry is recovering from his calamity last year, and it looks like he may have some company with Josephine and a jackmani.

Despite the heat, most everything is looking surprisingly lush, although Daphne seems a bit thirsty. I think I may cool myself off and water the garden at the same time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

First Summer Sunday

A very nice Sunday, indeed. Had one of those mornings where you wonder where the time went. Hanging out at home, just reading the paper, tossing in a few loads of laundry. Then it was off for an afternoon sail with Rob & Alex, and my brother Dave and niece Emma. A nice, light breeze and a flat lake. "Training winds." So Emma took the helm with a gleam in her eye. After the time on the water, we went over to Dave's for a barbecue with the whole family. Therese found this recipe at ....  a multiple prize-winner. Definitely a keeper, with absolutely delicious results!

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Hours
Ready In: 13 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 12
6 pounds pork spareribs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons garlic powder
5 tablespoons pan drippings
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cups ketchup
3 cups hot water
4 tablespoons brown sugar
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup wood chips, soaked
1. Clean the ribs, and trim away any excess fat. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup salt, ground black pepper, paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Coat ribs liberally with spice mix. Place the ribs in two 10x15 inch roasting pans, piling two racks of ribs per pan. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Bake uncovered for 3 to 4 hours, or until the ribs are tender and nearly fall apart.
3. Remove 5 tablespoons of drippings from the bottom of the roasting pans, and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in pan drippings until lightly browned and tender. Stir in ketchup, and heat for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring constantly. Next, mix in water and brown sugar, and season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to achieve desired thickness.
4. Preheat grill for medium-low heat.
5. When ready to grill, add soaked wood chips to the coals or to the smoker box of a gas grill. Lightly oil grill grate. Place ribs on the grill two racks at a time so they are not crowded. Cook for 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Baste ribs with sauce during the last 10 minutes of grilling, so the sauce does not burn.

Pranayama workshop

By the end of Saturday's workshop at YCT I was reminded of a few fundamentals and inspired to incorporate more yogic breath into the course of every day.

Bramhuri (bee) breath helps calm a racing mind... whenever I do it, I remind myself to do it more often!

Other things I'll try to do more often
  • Indulging throughout the day to return to equilibrium, as required.  Even 5 minutes or 20 breaths can help to do the trick.
  • adding a short breathing break during the afternoon slump at work to help refresh body and mind
  • adding another short break at the end of the day, when I get home but before getting dinner on the table
  • different postures in pranayama (seated on floor, on chair, back to wall, back to bolster)

Don't strain the breath; take the basic shape so breath can come.
For energy, extend the inhale.  Retain and hold that breath.
To relax, extend the exhale. Pause before beginning the next inhale.

I couldn't hear all the instructions properly, so I promised myself that when I got home I'd check out how applying Bandhas might help: Jlandhara, Mula, Uddiyana. More internet research led me to sitali, something done in hot climates that might help reduce  effects of hotflashes... can't hurt to try a little bit to see if it helps.

Luckily I have access to great teachers at YTC to help answer questions, but in the end I think you just have to try and see what works best for you in the situation you find yourself in, and you can only do that if you DO that.

In future I will have to learn to ask for a spot closer to the front, even with my hearing aid I didn't get as much out of today's workshop as I could have... I found it very, very difficult to hear Marlene's detailed instructions and strained to listen from my spot at the back. Then I just surrendered and hoped a few familiar phrases would float through, and that I would entrain with the breath of other bodies in the room.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Full Super Moon - June

Sounds impressive, but there are actually 4-6 super moons a year, on average, when the definition is:

…a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, moon and sun are all in a line, with moon in its nearest approach to Earth.
- Richard Nolle of the website

In fact, June 2013 presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth until August 10, 2014, at which time the moon will be a scant 5 kilometers closer to Earth. The full moon will come even closer to Earth on September 28, 2015 (356,877 kilometers) and closer yet on November 14, 2016 (356,509 kilometers). November 2016 will feature the closest full moon until November 25, 2034! Maybe this helps you see that supermoons – while interesting – are fairly routine astronomical events.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice

Celebrated the summer solstice by enjoying a wonderful meal on the BPYC deck with foodies Caro, Dick, Maureen, and Rob. Other dinners were being prepared and served by fellow bluffers around us, giving the patio a festive air as sailboats floated in and out past the gap.

We brought our telescope along and took a peek at the almost-full-super-moon. It looked like it was glowing from within. Absolutely beautiful!

The meal's theme accidentally became Salad Days.

First a 'deconstructed' Greek salad: delicious cucumbers plated with heirloom tomatoes, dressed with fresh thyme and oregano, drizzled with a Greek dressing. Served alongside ashrind goat cheese (Albert's Leap), nicoise and dry cured olives, and baguette crisps.

Second, perfectly prepared salmon served on top of a bed of greens, fennel and orange. Maureen found the recipe in a back issue of the LCBO Food and Drink magazine (see below). Curls of orange zest added a colourful touch and delivered a flavour punch. Heinz wandered by from another table, offering hot red peppers stuffed with feta. One or two small bites were like a punctuation mark between courses.

Next, a potato salad that was all about texture. Creamy dressing, a crunch of bacon, firm potato, lacy dill. Very tasty!

Then it was time for dessert. Alex, Aldo and friends arrived with perfect timing to share a decadent chocolate cake.


½ lime
½ lemon
½ orange
4 skinless salmon fillets, each about 6 to 7 oz (175 to 200 g)
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted
1 ½ tsp (7 mL) granulated sugar
1 small clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
Several grindings of black peppercorns
¼ cup (50 mL) olive oil
2 oranges
1 large bulb fresh fennel
4 cups (1 L) baby salad greens or romaine
½ cup (125 mL) slivered almonds, toasted
  1. Using microplane or other grater, zest lime, lemon and orange. Combine zests; set aside. Juice lime, lemon and orange; combine juices and set aside.
  2. To grill salmon, preheat barbecue to medium-hot. Brush tops of salmon with butter; place buttered-side-down on grill for 4 to 5 minutes or until grill marks are evident. Turn salmon; continue grilling for another 4 to 5 minutes or until a fork used to separate the flakes of flesh show a slightly undercooked centre for medium or opaque for well-done. Sprinkle each fillet with a pinch or 2 of zest (all zest will not be used). If serving cold, cover and refrigerate immediately for up to a day.
  3. To make salad, stir reserved juices with sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil; set aside. Cut rind off oranges; section. Cut off green fronds from fennel; finely chop some of feather part for garnish. Cut bulb in half; core. Using a mandoline or fine blade of food processor, finely slice crosswise into slaw-like pieces. Toss fennel and orange sections with dressing. (If making earlier in day, cover and refrigerate fennel mixture and dressing separately until ready to serve.)
  4. Line serving plates with salad greens; top with fennel orange mixture. Lay salmon, hot or cold, over salad and strew with almonds and reserved fennel tops

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Club Week

Two book clubs this week, back to back.

Couldn't help but see some similarities between the books. Coincidentally, both happened to be chosen by Margaret J. In each, the main characters are confronted by challenging circumstances and by the stories' end, have a shot at redemption. Not quite a Hollywood "happily ever after,"  but they're given respite. In each, the heroes of are saved by the love of their sport... transported (please forgive the pun) by something that gives greater meaning to their own solitary struggles. Both were simply and profoundly written. And perhaps most surprisingly, both were unanimously enjoyed (usually there are at least one or two dissenters with subject matter that borders on controversial).

On Tuesday, the BPYC book club was discussing Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese. This was a strong contender and 'People's Choice Award' in the 2013 Canada Reads.  The story was bleak: life as a native in residential schools followed by the downward spiral of an alcoholic. Death and abandonment. Childhood abuse and racism. In this novel, hockey was the sport that worked its magic:

 "The game is always the same, it's speed and power. Hockey's grace and poetry make men beautiful. The thrill of it lifts people out of their seats. Dreams unfold right before your eyes, conjured by a stick and a puck on a hundred and eighty feet of ice. The players? The good ones? They're the ones that can harness that lightning. They're the conjurers. They become one with the game and it lifts them up and out of their lives too."

The next night, I hosted the Book Babes in my backyard, and had chosen The Art of Racing in the Rain. This had been one of my favourite books of the previous year, which also happened to be a BPYC Margaret's pick (May 2012).  To say bad things happen to Denny is an understatement. False accusations of statutory rape, child custody battles, financial ruin, the death of a spouse to cancer and the death of his beloved dog. Yet the story is interlaced with joy, humour and wisdom. I like books that can be read simultaneously on many levels, and this is definitely in that category.

We joked it would make a great movie - a chick flick and a dick flick combined in one. Race car racing to appeal to men, a bit of romance to appeal to women, told from the point of view of a dog to appeal to dog lovers.  Here, it is racing that gives life lessons:

Your car goes where your eyes go. Simply another way of saying that which you manifest is before you.”

I was happy to share a favourite book and my backyard with the Book Babes. The Beauty Bush even held on to a few of its petals to honour the occasion.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Good advice

Words of Wisdom Everyone Ignores - but shouldn't
reposted from HuffPost OWN

She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).

That's what Lewis Carroll wrote about Alice, and it's true of most people. We go through life generally getting good counsel about what's best for us—and then vigorously ignoring it. This explains why I never run out of clients. It's amazing: Intelligent adults pay me for advice so obvious worms can follow it (this, as we'll see, is no exaggeration), then fail to act on it, then pay me to advise them again.

Here and now, out of sheer guilt, I've decided to spell out the best -- and, mysteriously, most ignored! -- advice I possess. If you follow it, I guarantee the results will be positive. If you don't, at least you won't be alone.

1. What leaves you feeling bad, do less of. What leaves you feeling good, do more of.
This one suggestion is all you really need to find your destiny, form loving relationships, achieve optimal health, and have the best life story in the bingo parlor during your golden years. And it isn't hard to remember, judging by the fact that worms easily take it to heart. Put a worm at the bottom of a simple T-shaped maze, with food in the left side of the top and a mild electric shock in the right, and it will develop fervent leftist inclinations. Yet many clever humans turn repeatedly to the very things that ruin our health and happiness: artery-clogging junk food, alcoholic lovers, soul-crushing jobs.

We do this because, unlike worms, we convince ourselves that there are good reasons to do ourselves harm. We say things like "I had a hard day; I deserve this industrial-size bag of chips." Or "You always hurt the one you love." Or "But I need the paycheck!" Yet I believe all human beings -- even politicians -- are born with the capacity for suffering and joy for a reason: so that we can navigate the world as well as a worm.

Notice that I'm putting the emphasis on how something leaves you feeling, not on how you imagine it will make you feel. Worms have to experience a maze several times before they start making optimal decisions. Once the experience registers, however, they trust it. Not so with us. We overthink experience -- and end up bedazzled by the same electricity that Tasered our last relationship, or disdaining the simplicity of things that reliably nourish us.

Today, try pausing before any action you take and recall how that action made you feel in the past. For example, writing often seems frightening or burdensome to me before I start, yet as many writers before me have said, I love having written. On the other hand, while nothing seems more appetizing to me than baked goods, I know that both wheat and sugar leave me feeling droopy and queasy. Just pausing to vividly recall the past result of each action helps me choose writing over procrastination and bananas over cookies. If you think through how each action leaves you feeling, you'll find yourself more and more able to choose those that add up to your best life.

2. To achieve bigger goals, take smaller steps.
As a teenager, I often injured myself trying to run mountain trails. Then I noticed that bikers downshift to climb hills. I began mimicking them, taking steps so tiny they felt inconsequential. This allowed me to run uphill quickly without getting tired, winded, or hurt. The one race in which I actually placed was on a mountain trail where I scurried along like a mouse on a mission, zipping past runners whose gazelle-like leaps were taxing their lungs and ruining their knees.

It turns out that the tiny-steps approach applies to any difficult thing, from schoolwork to parenthood to career. The bigger the task, the smaller my steps. If I feel myself tiring or avoiding tasks, I cut my steps in half, then in half again, until each step feels easy. Between steps, I give myself a reward -- nothing huge, just a ten-minute nap in the sun, a smoothie, some online window shopping.

My clients find this shocking. They want to achieve big goals, and they love those spectacular, gazelle-like leaps. One client I'll call Roberta planned to start getting up two hours early each morning, running to the gym, and lifting weights before work. She'd had this plan for five years. She hadn't acted on it once. I suggested that, instead, she get up five minutes early, put on gym clothes, then have coffee -- full stop. She thought this ridiculous (they always do), but it worked (it usually does). Roberta's five minutes in gym clothes grew to ten, then to 15, then to a Zumba class she loved. She's still increasing her fitness, one tiny step at a time.

3. Lie down and rest for a while.
Speaking of health regimens, there's a big piece of getting fit that most of us shortchange: rest. The majority of my clients who complain of depression, anxiety, irritability, and weight gain are actually chronically tired. The problems caused by lack of rest can feel so intricate, but the solution is so simple: Lie down, dear. Just lie down.

If you've ever attended a meeting after lunch, you know the mild coma endocrinologists call postprandial dip, which makes you want to lay your head down and drool during your boss's PowerPoint presentations. And why not? Totally relaxing for just ten minutes can reenergize your body, sharpen your mind, and make you much less likely to weep when you can't find a stapler.
In many cultures, it's customary to lie down during the day. In ours, it's emphatically not. To get used to the idea anyway, try a yoga class or the Alexander Technique, which you can do on the floor -- any floor, even at work (instructions available online). If all else fails, just channel your inner worm.

4. When you don't know what to say, try the truth.
I won't lie: Investing in resting can cause social awkwardness. For example, an acquaintance I'll call Jill recently asked me to drive an hour (each way) to meet her for dinner. I was exhausted, and though I like Jill, I've learned the hard way that when I put politeness over basic needs, I end up feeling resentful, which damages the relationship.

When I suggested that Jill and I take a rain check, she frostily asked what could possibly be more important than a chance to connect with her. I tried to invent a fictional business trip or convincing symptoms of bird flu, but my perfidious mouth blurted the truth: "I want to lie down."
I felt Jill's outrage as she absorbed the fact that on my priority list, getting some rest outranked dining with her. Truth often has this effect, but despite the initial sting, it makes for stronger relationships. If I'd lied, I'd have misled Jill and angered myself. I want friends who want what's best for me, and Jill can either accept that or find someone who's willing to dine under duress.
No matter what your truth may be -- about political views, movie preferences, the desire to live "off the grid" eating roadkill -- calmly expressing it cuts a clear path through the jungle of social connection.

5. Free yourself from dysfunctional people by refusing to try to control them.
You don't even need to say it -- I can already hear you thinking: If I tell the truth in every awkward situation, there will be hell to pay with my mother/husband/sister/coworker/book club! I get it: There are people in your life who, for various reasons, don't want your truth. You may think you have to change those people to live in total authenticity. Don't even try.

I labored for decades to make sad people happy, rigid people flexible, aggressive people empathetic, and so on, before finally noticing that (1) this never worked, and (2) it drove me insane. Then I read codependency expert Melody Beattie's advice on how to deal with dysfunctional people: "Unhook from their system by refusing to try to change or influence them." This felt totally alien and absolutely right, and it works. The key, I've found, is to stay the heck away from the idea of "making" someone do, feel, or think anything. This is not your job. Your job is to maximize your own happiness, kindness, and health. Let others choose whether to follow.
At this point, I should note that Alice in Wonderland did take some of her own advice. She remembered, for example, that "if you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison,' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later."

You've already had enough life experience to notice when a situation, a person, or a task is marked "poison." Remember how much that situation hurt the last time, and choose one that feels better now. Take small steps, lying down often along the way. Tell the truth and stay in your own business. Anything else is poison. And if you actually use this seldom-followed advice, you may one day wake up and realize that your life has become a wonderland.

Martha Beck's latest book is Finding Your Way in a Wild World (Free Press).

Friday, June 14, 2013


Hanging out on a Friday night with Griskit on the boat. She is hyper-alert to the sounds of the halyards clanging and the geese honking. Her nose and whiskers are twitching as she takes in all the scents.

I wonder if she remembers being on the boat last summer? She was small enough to fit in the winch pockets, but this year she can barely nudge her head and shoulders inside.

She seems comfortable enough inside the cabin, and as the night wears on she is up in the cockpit, dipping her paw into spider webs.

Tomorrow we'll find out if she's still got her sea legs.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just sitting.

I'm sitting under the Beauty Bush, enjoying the perfume. I'm remembering when the bough was just a graceful arc over the deck partition, but now it is big enough to provide a bit of shade and even shelter from the rain. When it comes into bloom it is like an old friend returning to visit.

It is around 8 pm on a Sunday night, and only a few bees are still buzzing.

I started the day trimming, weeding, mowing, staking and transplanting, and heard a woodpecker hard at work as well, but didn't manage to see it. The racket it was making, it could have been a Pileated.

This weekend Rob and Alex were off to the Grand Prix and I was gallery-going, garden-hopping and enjoying the backyard. Soon enough we will become Boat People, and the glimpses I get of my backyard will only be before I head out the door to work.

I still have lots of dirt and mulch left over, when the poppies are done I'll fill in the area. I'm hosting book club here in a couple of weeks... maybe I can give garbage bags of mulch away as party favours?

In bloom now: Beauty Bush, peony bush, sage, chives, columbine

Just finishing: poppies, bleeding heart, ajuga, bugwort... I can still make out hellabore flowers

Coming soon: clematis, roses

The tree peonies are long gone, but the seed pods look just like velvet jesters' caps.

Cutting for Stone

This is one of the best books I've read all year. An incredible story, deftly drawn characters, striking images, international settings, and deep insights.

This is the first novel by this physician-professor, and I am putting Abrahan Verghese's other two books on my summer reading list.

Cutting for Stone plays on themes of duality and separation. Two twins, joined at birth and physically carved apart, losing their biological parents. The twins end up estranged and on different continents, until tragedy unites their lives forever.

This story is not bittersweet so much as it is about darkness and light. Fate guided by choice.

It was unanimously enjoyed by our Book Club

Verghese shares books that have been influential in his career:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Through the Garden Gate

Beautiful properties and gardens on the tour this year. Nicki and I wandered through gardens in Forest Hill and South Hill under cloudy skies.

Most of the addresses listed the landscape architects, but there were still a few properties where the owners did the design, took a hand in maintenance, or pampered their favourite plants like the roses or coleus.

Designs ranged from extremely formal and manicured, to "contained exuberance." Sculptures, stone benches, pools, terraces...  one home even had three Goldsworthy-style cairns. 

Hostas, Japanese red maples, rhododendrons, dogwoods, peonies, and early clematis were especially gorgeous at this time of year.

If I had room I might try a leatherleaf vibernum (bug-resistant), golden cedar, or Celestial Dogwood.

Eco Lawn - a low maintenance grass that is never cut.

Celestial Dogwood
Stachys Big Ears

Friday, June 7, 2013

Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer

Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer were in town to play with the TSO. his first music lessons when he was a 4-year-old in Bloomington, Ind. His parents, both psychologists, decided formal training might be a good idea after they saw that their son had strung rubber bands across his dresser drawers and was replicating classical tunes by ear, moving drawers in and out to vary the pitch. 
-Pearls Before Breakfast

Bell played Ravel's Tzigane, a perfect piece to display his virtuosity... it is available on You Tube here. If you watch you can see how he puts his whole body into playing. I swear, you can even see his ears twitch.

Bell and Meyer also paired to perform Concerto for Viiolin and Double Bass, a relatively new piece that debuted in  Boston 2012. The two have known each other since Bell was 12, and Meyer composed it with the two of them in mind.

There was a post-concert chat with Oundjian, Bell and Meyer.

Bell talked about the history of his 1713 Strad, which was brazenly stolen from the virtuoso Huberman when he left it backstage at Carnegie Hall in 1936.  It resurfaced 50 years later, perfectly intact, after the thief confessed on his deathbed.  His motive wasn't financial gain, but to enjoy possessing and playing his stolen pleasure.

Bell was also asked about the time he took part in a musical experiment that had him busking for free in a Washington subway. Many in the audience had heard the anecdote and some were wondering if it were an urban legend. True story. The journalist published his article, Pearls Before Breakfast,  in the Washington Post, and described how almost no one stopped to hear this world class musician play. His total take was about $40.

I like to think I would've stopped, but more likely the odds are 50/50. After reading the article, though, I think the odds will increase I will pay more attention to buskers. It seems art sometimes needs a captive audience:

Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment? ....If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?
- Pearls Before Breakfast

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Food for thought

Came home from an interesting event, where they served mashed potatoes in martini glasses.

Different mashed potatoes - purple, white with skins on, white with garlic. Then, different toppings offered, like an ice cream bar with a twist: carmelized onion, bacon, sour cream, cheese. It was visually interesting and fun to eat!

For entertainment, there were dancers poised in the centre of a circle of 13 fans. The breeze lifted silk scarves into the air, and the dancers intertwined. Mesmerizing!

The backdrop was of Toronto's Waterfront City, at George Brown College, with Lake Ontario and sailboats in the back. Close to Sugar Beach. I felt I was a whole different place, yet the scenery remained familiar.

The location was the perfect context for the theme - what makes a "smart city" or "intelligent community?" In this year's 250+ entries, Waterfront Toronto and Stratford Ontario both made the international shortlist. Top communities of the year were drawn from the Smart 21 of 2013 by a team of independent academic experts. The intelligent community forum of the year award will be announced in New York City later this week.

Fascinating, visionary panels discussed topics related to Digital Inclusion, Public Private Partnterships (P3), Women as Leaders in Intelligent Communities, Open Data and 'm' government.  The ideas are still tumbling in my head, making me appreciate my Canadian citizenship, in a country where we have so many advantages and possibilities.

Yet, Canada is slipping. Just how much depends on who is doing the ranking. Conference Board puts us at 13 of 16 peer countries when it comes to innovation; Huffington Post reports we've fallen from 5th to 14th place for broadband speed. 

What we can do to regain position as world leaders? To compete, we need to stay connected. Ontario can be a player in the mobile revolution.

Food for thought.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Tapestry ran a segment called, "A Love Supreme: God in the Music of John Coltrane" and then a few days later I spotted the graphic novel by Pablo Parisi on a co-worker's desk.

The graphic novel format was the perfect medium for a Coltrane biography. It slowed down some moments to a second, and then punched  quickly through decades; telling the story out of sequence and then returning to a linear tale. It was a "fast" read, but far from forgettable.

I've been enjoying the sounds of Coltrane courtesy You Tube, of the albums A Love Supreme  and Blue Train.

Alabama is patterned after Martin Luther King's funeral speech for those that died in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing:
Midway through the song, mirroring the point where King transforms his mourning into a statement of renewed determination for the struggle against racism, Elvin Jones's drumming rises from a whisper to a pounding rage. He wanted this crescendo to signify the rising of the civil rights movement.
- Democratic Underground

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sail Past 2013

Rob was MC for the 33rd annual BPYC Sail Past. He did a great job setting the tone for the ceremony, adding a touch of humour here and there, and talking about the cause for our celebration:

And is there anything sweeter than wiggling out through the gap on a summer day, with fair and warm winds, and shutting off the constant drone, smoke and rattle of the engine to see the sails fill... and to continue on with only the sound of water splashing along the hull.

The ceremony ended with Mimosas and strawberries, and a toast to the season ahead, in line with the club tradition.

The fog down by the lake was pretty on Saturday morning, but it looked as though we'd spend the day on land, instead of sailing past the Commodore's boat. But by noon the sun was coming out and burning off the fog. By the skippers' meeting at 1:00, all agreed we were good to go.

Bagpipes sounded us out from the docks.

Some may have wanted stronger winds, but it was great to see all those boats on the water again, wiggling out and back in through the gap.