Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sadhana III - Best Practises

Almost a year ago, I started my first sadhana, and I was hooked. The next session was the April, 2013. There are only two each year, Autumn and Spring. I didn't hesitate to sign up for my third, which started this past Monday.

Thirty days straight, with a studio call for 6 a.m.  Marlene designs each sadhana as if it were one class spread over 30 days, with one day's teachings building on the next. She also mentioned this is her 64th consecutive sadhana, and noted that a couple people in the room were probably on their 54th.

After three sadhana, I am still the newbie in the group.

My intention this session is to explore the idea of Best Practises. Not only the physical dimension

Iyengar recently said,  “Asanas are to interpenetrate, not as physical exercise. Have I touched my mind? Have I touched my intelligence? Have I touched my ego? Have I touched my self? This is Sadhana... So that is why I go deep, and that is why I enjoy it” Andy Richter_The Blog

Yes, it is fun to 'improve' in the postures, but that's definitely not the only thing happening. There is great energy in the room, definite concentration. It would be great to take a thermal camera into one of these classes. I'll have to ask Brenda the yogi-photographer if she has ever considered it... it would be fabulous to see a series done well...  Energy in play.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

All Is Lost

2 points of view after watching
Wonder if we were actually at the same film?

So unrealistic.
Redford must have a horse ranch.
What's that guy doing solo sailing and being so unprepared?
First thing he should have done was plug that damn hole.
Why is he constantly putting up and taking down the boards in the companionway?
Where's his life jacket?
Gravity was way better.

Redford must have a sailboat, he seems to know how to handle the lines.
He sure looks fit.
Bet he gets a Best Actor nomination.
Well prepared for a solo sail - has all the right gear.
Good thinking to drop the sails.
Great repair job on the hull.
Good story - held my attention all the way through!
This is way better than Gravity.

.... Anyway, I'm definitely glad we saw this after the boat is 'on the hard'.
Here's hoping we never get struck by a shipping container in the middle of the lake!

Moon Chest

My favourite piece at the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the AGO was the Moon Chest. Beautifully crafted, the columns of quince wood perfectly aligned to wander between and gaze into and through. And by wandering, you create a new dimension. Shadows and light playing to create the phases of the moon... it was kinetic sculpture, my body in conscious orbit.

In another installation, I wandered past blocks of houses and wondered what they were made of, the medium looked so familiar... Upon closer inspection... tea. The whole idea of tea houses, and playing with the customs and ideas of tea. In fact, this was Pu-erh tea, one of the most expensive grades of Chinese tea. By locking it into this form, undrinkable. When it is undrinkable, is it still tea, or does it become something else?

There was also the snake, hanging from the ceiling. The very first time I saw this, I thought it was a playful image, something to delight a child. Looking closer, it becomes 800 backpacks strung together, representing 800 of the children who lost their lives in the Szechuan quake. The documentary, Never Sorry, chronicles in detail Ai's social activism and efforts to have the Chinese government acknowledge the children's names and identities.

Challenging perspective. Provoking revelations.

I always want to design a frame that's open to everyone.I don't see art as a secret code.
- October 26, Ai Wei Wei on Twitter

Ai Wei Wei website
Ai Wei Wei Twitter

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Popping Corks

I volunteered to tend the Bellini Bar at the White Party last weekend so I could practise opening champagne. I've always passed the chilled bottle to someone else to pop the cork, being a bit intimidated by the task. A chance to open 10+ bottles in less than two hours cured me of my apprehensions.

Six twists of the metal tie, and then turn the bottle - not the cork. Not a 'pop' but a smoky sigh. Very satisfying!

The blend for these bellinis was Kaarina's concoction: 1 oz pear nectar + 1/4 oz triple sec + fill the champagne glass to the top with cava and garnish with a slice of pear.

'white' bellini
If I would have done my research beforehand I could have shared the fact that the Bellini was invented sometime between 1934 and 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. Because of its unique pink color, which reminded Cipriani of the color of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini, he named the drink the Bellini. Wikipedia

I checked out some of Bellini's art and found Feast of the Gods. No saints, but plenty of revellers and a few pink-hued and contented nymphs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sail(s) Away

A friend took this photo of Yondering wing-on-wing along Adolphus Reach. Hard to believe this was just 9 weeks or so ago.

We don't have many (any?) of us under sail, so this one is special.

The mast came down today, and next week is Haul Out... already??!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Full Huntress Moon - October

October - the Hunter's Moon, is officially full October 18, 7:38 pm...

A good hunting time, with fewer leaves on the trees and a bright moon in the sky. Time to prepare the larder for the coming long winter.

Famous hunters include Diana, Goddess of the Moon and Goddess of the Hunt.

When I was a kid I imagined her, fierce and mysterious. Self-reliant.  Splitting her time between living on earth and somewhere on the moon. More mystical than mythical, and more real to me than the Man on the Moon, or a moon made of cheese.

When I delved into the mythology to learn she trained an army of women, and had a strange power over animals, how could I not be impressed?

She made me think my name less ordinary and turned my gaze up into the night sky.

Native tribes also called October moons Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon.

Art Deco Statue

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Time In Between

The Time In Between by Maria Duenas had us talking for hours. Ann M's pick for the BPYC Book Club was originally written in Spanish and a best seller in Europe before captivating North American audiences.

She is a fabulous storyteller. Mario Vargos Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize in lieterature calls this "A wonderful novel, with intrigue, love, and mystery."

Duenas has a Ph.D. in English philology, which is the study of language in written historical sources. Wikipedia explains it as the study of literary texts and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. I mention this because at the end of the novel, the author attributes her sources, which run three pages of dense text.

Yes, this is chic lit, but it is smart chic lit. Historically true to fact, it was interesting to learn about Franco's impact on people living in Spain and Morocco and the events leading up to World War 2 in this part of the world. It is as easy to fall in love with the scenery as it is with the characters.

Sira comes into her own during the course of time, evolving from a naive girl easily swayed by others to someone not only in control of her own life, but with enough personal power and confidence to influence historical events.

"I decided to change to remake myself altogether, unburdening myself of the old baggage to start from scratch... In the previous few months I'd slammed the door on my entire yesterday; I'd stopped being a humble dressmaker and transformed myself successfully into a whole heap of different women. A civil service candidate, heiress of a major industrialist, globetrotting lover to a scoundrel, hopeful aspirant to run an Argentine company, frustrated mother of an unborn child, a woman suspected of fraud and theft in debt up to her eyebrows, and a gunrunner camouflaged as an innocent woman."

The transformations begins very early on, with the quote above taken from page 142 of 609 pages. Still to come is the successful couturier and owner of an exclusive atelier, and later, a spy.

As a couturier she infiltrates high society and eavesdrops on the wives of the political heavyweights as they reveal their husbands' whereabouts; as a spy she makes dress patterns in stitched Morse Code to deliver secret information. The description of one of the gowns was so vivid I had to look it up... the Delphos, an absolute stunner.  You could say her two trades as a couturier and spy, are as fitting as this Fortuny dress.

Delphos dress

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thanks giving

Our honouring may not have been the best thing, the right thing, or the perfect thing, but it came Sunday morning.

The family gathered to break sod, dig a hole and plant a tree. Marion's and John's ashes were being laid to rest, side by side. Two small boxes didn't really seem to match the size of their lives.

Not many words were said.  Music played: Spirit in the Sky, Vera Lynn, and You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello.

But I felt Marion and John there with us, in the late morning sun.  I saw them in the kids' and grandkids' looks and mannerisms.

I love that they are laid to rest with a tree growing to mark the spot. It was Lois' suggestion, and on her property in Matawatchen.The invitation to spend Thanksgiving together and bury the ashes was appreciated.

Rob and I were keeping their remains in our den until the kids could figure out the best way forward. Marion's for more than a year, John's for more than a decade. We kept talking and trying to figure out the best thing to do, the right thing to do. Who ever knows? Likely that is why established rituals come in handy.

There really is no perfect ending, is there? Just endings, and beginnings, and all the stuff in between.

So, here's to all the stuff in between.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize!

Finally! I'm happy the first Canadian to win is Alice Munro. She's long been known by Canadians and international authors, but her short stories deserve to be more widely read. And she deserves the $1M+ that comes with the title.

Soon after the news broke, media outlets around the world began clamouring to speak with the media-shy Munro. The author granted only a handful of interviews before her publisher, Random House of Canada, issued a statement saying she was "dazed by all the attention and affection" and would be saying nothing further.
Of her own work, Munro has said: "I want to tell a story, in the old-fashioned way — what happens to somebody — but I want that 'what happens' to be delivered with quite a bit of interruption, turnarounds, and strangeness. I want the reader to feel something is astonishing — not the 'what happens' but the way everything happens. These long short story fictions do that best, for me." Huffington Post
Reading the Globe and Mail this morning, I connected with Russell Smith's insights:
A great deal of talk since Alice Munro's Nobel win has centred on her being a Canadian, but she represents something else that's just as weird and importnat:  the short story.
There is great irony in short stories reaching the podium now, at a time when they seem to be at thier nadir in popularity. Every publisher will tell you:  they don't sell. Most of the major publishers have an unofficial no-short-stories-policy (unless of course, you're Alice Munro).
Munro herself is incredibly subtle. Her simple and direct sentences convey troubling information indirectly, obliquely. They describe, rarely explain. The stories contain secrets, and so do the perspectives of her narrators and protagonists; the secrets - often quite murderous - take some time to be perceived.
In my previous posts I've proven myself to be a fan, holding Munro as the standard for short fiction. It feels like a friend of the family has been honoured!

Dear Life
Unaccustomed Earth
Double Feature
My Mistress Sparrow is Dead

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October colours

The leaves are too pretty to rake. I'll wait, and then sweep them into the garden. There is so much colour this time of year.

Blooming now: standard hydrangea, toad lily, sedum, phlox, nasturtium, tovara, and late roses. The perennials in my garden are in the purple/rose spectrum. The nasturtium match the colours of the fallen leaves, yellow, orange and red. Still lots and lots of green.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Sail

Counting down to Haul Out. Only 2 1/2 weeks left, and lots of preparation. Which means tonight may have been the last sail of the season.  Hoping that is not the case, but if it was, it was the perfect end note. Very pretty. A sliver of a moon coming up in the sky. Nice waves. A good wind.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

This one gets 7.5 out of 9 stars... if we base it on the total number of attendees at Book Club tonight who liked it vs. not. The half star is someone who was a bit agnostic, who couldn't quite condone the parental guidance.

It's easy to connect with the story because it is so well told.

The cover photo of this book almost says as much about Bobo as the pages within. She looks ready for either a good fight or a good laugh, it could go either way. Ready to take on the world. Rough and tumble. In your face. Finding her voice.

There are great photos throughout the book, including one that shows the toddler loading a gun. Any of them would have made a great cover but I'm glad this is the one that was chosen. Bobo actually looks a lot like my sister in this photo, at that age.

I loved the book. The language is plain, poetic, brash. The memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family, but also a dysfunctional country, is told through the eyes of a young child, non-judgmental and highly observant, with a flair for the dramatic.

The opening lines perfectly set the stage and introduce the characters:

Mum says, "Don't come creeping into our room at night."

They sleep with loaded guns beside them on the bedside rugs. She says, "Don't startle us when we're sleeping."

"Why not?"

"We might shoot you."


"By mistake." 

Fuller says she was influenced by Michael Ondaatje's memoir, Running in the Family, where he lovingly tells the story of deeply flawed people. I'm not so certain Fuller's telling is entirely loving, for the scenes she chooses to share of her mother paint a bigoted, self-centred manic-depressive drunk. A well-bred one though, who reads Shakespeare to her children in the womb. With her many flaws, the mother is amazingly resilient. She braves the deaths of three of her children, runs a farm with an absent husband (who is away at war much of the time), and brings up her girls in a dangerous world. Mum had strong literary ambitions for her daughters, wanting them to write, but not surprisingly wasn't particularly happy when her daughter's memoir was published in 2003.