Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reading Paris and London

In preparation for our upcoming trip, I've been immersing myself in fiction and non-fiction books about Paris and London.

***** The Frozen Thames, by Helen Humphries is a series of short vignettes around the 40 times the Thames has frozen in its recorded history. One for each year, beginning in 1142 and ending in 1895, when the London Bridge reconstruction increased water flow to make it unlikely the Thames would ever freeze again.  These aren't short stories so much as defining moments in people's lives, and their thoughts and relationships with the frozen river. The moments are plucked through time, providing glimpses of individual lives and circumstances. The Thames itself provides the setting and constant thread, but by the end of the stories it evokes an eternal presence.Illustrations throughout show how fashions and buildings and banks change, but the Thames remains.

**** The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce traces the footsteps of Harold as he walks his way across England in the hopes of saving a friend with cancer. I was worried it would be a bit too saccharine or melodramatic given its themes, but it managed a fine balance. The author is now telling the story of one of the other main characters in new book, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and I look forward to reading her story. So many of the characters could have their own novel - I think the author has tapped into a rich vein and would love to learn more about many of them, including those that make only minor appearances.

****  A Year in the Merde, by Stephen Clarke was a hilarious and irreverent account of a year a Brit spends in France, trying to open a series of tea shops and chase Parisian women. The real portrait is of Paris, though, the good, the bad and the ugly. Fabulous food and fashion, amazing views, 'Attitude' constant strikes, merde in the streets (in fact, over 600 people visit the hospital in Paris each year because of their slips in dog poo). His descriptions of certain places put them on my sight-seeing list, including the bookstore Shakespeare and Company that is across from the Notre Dame Cathedral.

** The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery explored the interior lives of a young girl and an unassuming concierge living in a Paris apartment. Both conceal their true selves and intentionally manipulate impressions to project themselves as less intelligent than they are; as they mull over philosophical ideas they also harshly judge most of the people who cross their paths, putting up barriers to intimacy and closing off any chance of real connection. Their hearts open at the end, and then... tragedy. This book had a real following a few years back, but I'm not a fan. However, I will likely look at the concierge in our Isle Saint-Louis apartment with more appreciation.

**** Tales of Two Cities, by Jonathan Conlin is a non-fiction work that examines how London and Paris have developed through the last three centuries. Each chapter examines how rivalry and competition between the two centres have created the Modern City as we know it today: The Restless House; The Restaurant; The Underworld; The Dance; Dead and Buried. Fascinating, if a bit academic at times. I was sorry Conlin didn't include a chapter about the Thames and the Seine, and how the cities are both defined by their rivers.

**** How Paris Became Paris, by Joan DeJean is also non-fiction. As far as this author is concerned, Paris is the origin of everything in our modern cities, and the rest of the world a mere copy. The Introduction is titled, "Capital of the Universe". Despite its strong bias and ability to overlook other major civilizations, I'm still enjoying the book. The importance and origins of Pont Neuf, the enchanted island of Ile Sainte-Louis, Place des Vosges.... my hope is that by knowing a little bit more about their evolution I will enjoy seeing the sites all the more!

***** DK Eyewitness Travel Paris 2014 and London 2014. The format of these books is great, with their pull-out maps, colour-coded pictures, and history timelines.  Lots of photographs! They are small and portable enough to put in my purse. Both have Guided Walks that will make strolling an even greater pleasure.

Just starting Paris, by Edward Rutherfurd. I picked it up earlier in the summer and read a few passages but put it back on the shelf. It was thick enough to be intimidating and I thought it might be Harliquin-Romance-like. Apparently it is more Mitchener than Barbara Cartland, tracing a family story through 700 years. I picked up the e-book version so I could read it on the flight over to Paris. He's also written novels about London and New York.

... Now, I really need to start planning my itinerary!

The Goldfinch

When I stacked my summer reading in a pile it was almost 24" high, and that's not counting the magazines and e-books. Yikes!

My favourite of the summer was definitely The Goldfinch, by Donna Tart.

An absolute pleasure to read. Character-driven, it raised some intriguing questions about friendship, beauty, morality, intention and fate.
The only truths that matter to me are the ones I don't, and can't understand... I don't care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here's the truth: life is catastrophe. (p.767)
With a denouement like that, you'd think the book is nihilistic and bleak, but it isn't. On the same page:  "Glint of brightness on a barely there chain. Patch of sunlight on a yellow wall."

The novel was a short course in art appreciation and introduced me to Fabritius, a Dutch master and pupil of Rembrandt, and his little Golfinch:
The bird looks out at us It's not idealized or humanized. It's very much a bird. Watchful, resigned. There is no moral or story...  I hear only too well what's being said to me, a psst from an alleyway as Hobie put it, across four hundred years of time... It's there in the light-rinsed atmosphere, the brush strokes he permits us to see, up close, for exactly what they are - hand worked flashes of pigment, the very passage of the bristles visible - and then, a a distance, the miracle... the slide of transubstantiation where paint is paint and yet also feather and bone... The magic point where every idea and its opposite are equally true...  (p.766)
Incidentally, the AGO has a Fabritius, Still Life: Fish. There aren't many to be found, so its a real treasure, and worth the trip to see it in person.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Last night, instead of a yoga asana class, teachers and students sat and spoke about the rich teachings BKS Iyengar left behind when he died on August 20th at 95 years of age. Fourteen books; studios in 72 countries; thousands of teachers; millions of students. 
Marlene was a life-long student of the man she refers to reverently and affectionately as Guruji. She and others told stories of the times they met and were taught by this great master. Very gruff and reprimanding when students did not grasp the poses, it wasn’t uncommon for him to yell, or to make strong physical adjustments, sometimes even pounding and slapping limbs into place.
Almost 30 years ago now, I first went into Yoga Centre Toronto. At that time the teachers were emulating BKS’s teaching style, to the point I thought it was Angry Yoga, not Iyengar Yoga. Early students continued with him in spite of harsh beginnings, and over decades the master and his teachers softened their methods and systematized the approach. Gita, his daughter, had much to do with this evolution.
I attended Yoga Centre Toronto in the early 80s and lasted a few months, returning to Iyengar yoga a few decades later, with Tina's classes in '99. I've been practising regularly ever since, and I can't imagine my life without yoga. It has affected me profoundly, and millions of others around the world. Iyengar was not the only teacher of yoga, but certainly one of the most respected. He had very humble beginnings, born into a poor family, sickly through his childhood and youth. He overcame these obstacles and more. Time Magazine named Iyengar one of the most influential individuals of the 20th century.

Matt, one of the student teachers who was in the class, shared some audio recordings of Iyengar’s voice as a young man and as an older man, chanting the invocation to Putanjali. The older voice was fuller, stronger, had more timbre and dimension. It reminded me of certain photos of Iyengar doing poses as a young man and then as an older man; as an older man he had gone more deeply into the pose.
Truly an inspiration, a great soul.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quinte Bay Cottage - Trent Refuge - Bluffers' Park Home Again

view from visitors' dock

Five days at Quinte Bay Yacht Club made Yondering feel more like a cozy waterfront cottage than a sailboat.

The weather was not favourable. In fact, downright nasty. Either way too windy, or raining, or high waves. So we stayed put for five days in Belleville. The window of our departure narrowing, and narrowing, and then almost disappearing. One option was to leave the boat and return to work, coming back the following weekend to sail home.

So... A week at the "cottage" to relax and unwind. We watched the entire Season 1 of Game of Thrones and the Shackleton DVDs. I tore through several novels.

calm before the storm on the Murray Canal
Luckily, for several of those days we had good company. Kaarina and Mike were there with Medina for three of the days and Mike fixed Medina's engine. And on Friday night, Lyn and Mike showed up on Sunglimmer. Great dinners were had.

Since Kaarina had her car, we were able to drive into Picton one day. At that point, I realized I hadn't used a credit card for 2+ weeks. I think that must be some kind of record. A situation that soon reversed when we visited a few shops.

Saturday morning Medina and Yondering set sail early. Or rather, we started our motors. The idea was to get through the Murray Canal before the next storm hit, tie up and overnight in relative safety, and then bite the bullet for a very long push back to Toronto. Hoping for favourable conditions.

This time, we stuck to the sail plan. Saturday night we weathered the storm with Medina also tied to the wall. Lots of fenders, lots of wind, lots of rocking. Sunday morning we woke first light and started our motor at 7:15 a.m., shutting it off about 9:45 pm in our own dock. Sunrise. Sunset.

15+ hours coming home to Bluffers
Weather on Sunday was a bit of everything. Fog. Sun. Cloud. No favourable winds for sailing, although we did try to catch a breeze.

Luckily the lake was fairly flat for most of the trip, but bouncy around Pres'quille. The wind shifted directions from North, North West, North East. I think we even had a whisper of a south wind.  But it wasn't too strong, so we were able to make progress at 5 knots.

A few records were set with our Summer 2014 cruise of Lake Ontario.

Longest time in recent memory not using a credit card; longest time on a visitors' dock; and longest day motoring on the lake.

Stories for a winter's day.

Another 1.45 hours to go before tying up in our BPYC slip

What have you been reading?

Sailing and reading go together.  Okay, well maybe not actually reading while at the helm and taking and jibing, but on those long days motoring or staying in your cabin on rainy days. While I've been catching up on my reading, so have my sister BPYC Book Babes.

We got together last night to share some of our favourite titles of the summer. Now, of course, my reading list is even longer!

Here is a sampling of some of the books we talked about last night…
The saga of an American father and daughter who in July 1933 suddenly found themselves, and the rest of their family, transported to the heart of Hitler's Berlin. The father was William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered history professor from Chicago who, much to his surprise and everyone else's, was chosen by Roosevelt to be America's first ambassador to Nazi Germany; Dodd's daughter, Martha, was 24 years old and came along for the adventure, and to escape a dead marriage. At first this new world seemed full of energy and goodwill, nothing like what newspapers back home had portrayed. But slowly a pall of intrigue and terror fell over the family--until the cataclysmic weekend that changed them all forever.
Favourite reading chair this summer!
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
The Goldfinch is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.  Read Stephen King’s glowing review in the New York Times here
Unsinkable is Silken Laumann’s memoir
But there was a massive barrier in her path that she has never before spoken about, a hidden story much darker than the tale of her accident. Now, Silken bravely shines a spotlight on all the obstacles she has encountered—and overcome—in Unsinkable, a memoir that reveals not only new insights into her athletic success and triumph over physical adversity, but also the intense personal challenges of her past and the fierce determination she applies to living a bold, loving and successful life today.
Time after time, this courageous champion has proven to be unsinkable. Silken’s extraordinary story offers us an intimate look at the complicated woman behind the Olympic hero, showing how perseverance and optimism can allow anyone to embrace the incredible opportunities that often go hand in hand with adversity.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Marriage can be a real killer.    One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.    On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

Ann M.
The Frozen Thames, by Helen Humphries
In its long history, the river Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river.
So begins this breathtaking and original work, which contains forty vignettes based on events that actually took place each time the historic Thames froze solid. Spanning more than seven centuries—from 1142 to 1895—and illustrated with stunning full-color period art, The Frozen Thames is an achingly beautiful feat of the imagination…a work of fiction that transports us back through history to cast us as intimate observers of unforgettable moments in time.

Whether we’re viewing the magnificent spectacle of King Henry VIII riding across the ice highway (while plotting to rid himself of his second wife) or participating in a joyous Frost Fair on the ice, joining lovers meeting on the frozen river during the plague years or coming upon the sight of a massive ship frozen into the Thames…these unforgettable stories are a triumph of the imagination as well as a moving meditation on love, loss, and the transformative powers of nature.

Cane River, by Lalita Tademy
The "New York Times" bestseller and Oprah's Book Club Pick.
Lalita Tademy is a former vice-president of Sun Microsystems who left the corporate world to immerse herself in tracing her family's history and writing her first historical novel, CANE RIVER. Cane River is based on the lives of four generations of colored Creole slave women in Louisiana, women from whom she descended. Oprah Winfrey selected Cane River as her summer book group pick in 2001.

Harvest, by Tess Gerritsen
Boston’s Bayside Hospital is a long way from Dr. Abby DiMatteo’s humble roots, and she’s elated when their elite cardiac transplant team taps her as a potential recruit. But an anguished, life-and-death decision soon jeopardizes her entire career. She and chief resident Vivian Chao boldly direct a crash victim’s harvested heart to a dying seventeen-year-old boy-instead of the wealthy forty-six-year-old woman to whom the hospital had cross-matched it. The repercussions cost Dr. Chao her job, and leave Abby shaken.
Then a new heart suddenly appears, the woman’s transplant is completed, and Abby makes a terrible discovery. The donor records have been falsified-the new heart has not come through the proper channels. Defying Bayside Hospital’s demands for silence, Abby and Vivian plunge into an investigation that reveals a lethal unthinkable conspiracy. Every move Abby makes spawns a vicious backlash…and on a ship anchored in the waters of Boston Harbor, a final, grisly discovery lies waiting.

Unthink, by Eric Wahl
In the tradition of A Whole New Mind and First, Break All the Rules, graffiti artist and corporate thought leader, Erik Wahl explores the power of creativity to achieve superior performance.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that creativity is reserved for the chosen few, the poets, the painters… the writers.
The truth is creativity is in all of us. It is about re-discovering the keys to unlock your fullest potential. UNthink is a book that pushes us beyond our traditional thought patterns. UNTHINK is a book to inspire everyone to rediscover that we are capable of so much more than we have pre-conditioned for. Because creativity is not in one special place – and it is not in one special person…
Creativity is everywhere and in everyone who has the courage to unleash their creative genius. 
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quinte Bay Yacht Club

There is not much to do in Belleville itself, but the Quinte Bay Yacht Club is a very comfy port. The club itself was established in 1876. This is our first time here in our ten years of reciprocals on the lake. Docks are first come first serve, and calls to QBYC on the radio always went unanswered, so we never really ventured past the town marina, but here we are. An easy bike ride to provisions, a farmers' market Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we are well-stocked on board with other essentials, like DVDs, books, and wine.

This will be our fourth night dockside at QBYC. The weather has been a bit iffy for long days sailing on the lake. I'm trying to reframe the last few days as using Yondering as a cottage getaway to catch up on my reading and watching DVDs.

We are watching the Shackleton DVD right now, the British television production starring Kenneth Branagh. Talk about sailing in nasty weather! The expedition to the South Pole on Endurance was a century ago. In fact, they set sail August 8, 1914, so it is the official month of the 100th anniversary.

Right now the scenes from Shackleton are showing a very treacherous stretch through icebergs. I know things are only going to get worse for Shackleton and his crew as they carve their way. They still have enough provisions at this point to toast with whisky on Christmas Eve and enjoy a full holiday feast. And this adventure in the days before radar and radio. What a story! Not just man against nature, but man against man, and ultimately man against himself.

Now Endurance is stuck in the ice. Shackleton has directed his crew to grab a pic or shovel and hack a path to open the ice. It's futile. They're still not budging. Now he's getting the crew to run starboard to port in the hopes of widening the path, and experimenting with getting the men to jump up and down to use the weight of Endurance to bounce their way out. Shackleton has reached the realization they are stuck for the winter. They will not operate as a ship's crew anymore but as a base station. Shackleton's challenge has now intensified exponentially.

His journey was remarkable not only for taking place when and how it did, but for the fact that despite it all, he didn't lose a single crew member. Some original shots and footage are intermixed here in this Restore It History clip on You Tube. A hundred years ago and still inspiring. I've been to more than one management training course that examines the incredible leadership Shackleton displayed.

As always there is more than one way to look at being stuck in Belleville. I could continue to curse the fact we're stranded and wonder why we even bother setting out in the first place, with everything that could potentially go wrong, and often  does. Howling wind. No wind. Torrential rain. Broken motors. These slight inconveniences in no way compare with the scale of adventures faced by intrepid explorers now and in the past.

Browsing Facebook today someone posted the quote, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (A bit of trivia, this is NOT a Mark Twain quote after all, but H Jackson Brown's mother...)

I would really rather that we had cast our bow lines a few days ago, and tried our luck at Gosport or Calf Pasture for a change of scene. At least we set out in the first place. As with anything in life, when you are sailing things don't always go as planned.

And besides, when the winds are right and conditions are fair, life is very very good indeed.

Hoping for a bit of that for the coming trip home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shore Birds

Green heron

It seems there are more herons around this year. I hope it's not my imagination. On our sailing trip we've seen herons almost every day, even in Belleville in the nasty weather when we were tied up, one was standing on the dock. Mostly blue, but we also spotted a few green, one of the few birds known to use bait to catch their fish dinner.

Kingfisher sightings were not uncommon. Saw one in Olcott, another in Pultneyville.

Majestic osprey overhead in Waupoos, Little Sodus and Olcott. And we think we saw an eagle in Waupoos, fighting the osprey for territory. It actually maneuvered itself upside down and raised its talons in the air to defend itself against attack.

Mute swans, Canada Geese, merganzers, mallards. They spend so much time bobbing in the water. I find it a bit hilarious when they raise their back ends to the sky while they scrounge a bite.

Cormorants, spreading their wings and ruffling their feathers. As long as they aren't too numerous, I enjoy watching them strut and slap their wings against the water on take-off and landing.

Red winged blackbirds and bluejays are not really shorebirds, but I see so many lakeside they should be classed as honourary members.

And hours and hours of entertainment watching swallows' acrobatics in the air and their tightrope dances on dock lines. Loop de'loops. They were especially abundant in Pultneyville.

Ever present are the laughing gulls and elegant terns. Standing sentry. Diving into the water. Sadly, we watched one gull breathe its last on the dock at Fair Haven, after a fight to the death. It looked so soft but broken and twisted at the same time. Gulls are such scrappy, tough old birds. Although some of the rough weather grounded them, they bounced on top of the lake with the ducks. 

Waupoos gull

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Waupoos - Hay Bay - Belleville

Three nights total in Waupoos and then we dropped our hook in Hay Bay.  Upon our arrival, a snapping turtle swam around the perimeter inspecting us closely, the green moss waving on its back. Eventually it swam away and we jumped into the warm waters for a swim ourselves. The water was so tea-tree-green I wondered if it would dye my white bathing suit a different colour. A beautiful night to view the  Super moon, away from city lights, the moon so bright it was casting shadows.

We had planned to anchor at Sandy Cove Monday night. The weather forecast called for strong winds with thunderstorms Tuesday morning through to Wednesday. Not the best conditions to be at anchor. We adjusted our sail plan to stop at Sandy Cove for a swim and light meal before tying up in Belleville for the night. I took the helm for the next five hours, through Adolphus Reach, Telegraph Narrows and into Big Bay. Winds were gusty and variable, and had us traveling 3 knots to 6.7. Rob played the lines to keep us from heeling and knocking too much. By the time we reached Sandy Cove winds were gaining strength and we thought best to head straight to the docks.

After four days swinging on a hook we are now double-tied to the visitors' dock at the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club, feeling the short tugs and constant rocking, with the boat zipped up and properly dressed for the cold rain rain falling outside. This was one time on our vacation the weather report was accurate.

I always feel duped when we alter our sail plans to accommodate bad weather that doesn't materialize, which happened on a few occasions this trip, like when we delayed our crossing for an extra night in Pultneyville.  This is one time I'm definitely glad to have heeded the predictions. Unfortunately the forecast right now through to Friday is for bad weather, so we may be seeing a bit more of Belleville than we planned. Both of us need to be back at work next Monday, which leaves a window for the return of 5 nights and 6 days. The trip itself will take about 22 hours.

We'll have to see how things go and alter plans accordingly.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pultneyville - Little Sodus - Waupoos

Stayed one night longer in Pultneyville, then off to enjoy Little Sodus. So far we've been enjoying true reciprocals, meaning that we haven't had to pay to tie up at the docks. Fair Haven Yacht Club asks for $20 the first night, with a free stay the second.  Still, cheaper than a marina!

Of course, we had to visit the Fly By Night Cookie Company when we were in town, and loaded up on sugary treats. This bakery is run from someone's house and what a contrast with the rest of the neighbourhood. Fair Haven has lots of signs - 'no swimming', 'two hour limit' on the dock, 'members only' at the Yacht Club. But the cookie company embodies a free spirit, from the moment you walk up to the porch and see the wood columns carved into baba yagas, lions and gargoyles. Out back there is a green garden with a pond and charming book nook inviting you to browse. Leaving the house I noticed leaf patterns had been pressed into concrete to embellish the public sidewalk for the next block. No two leaves repeating themselves. I can't help but think the subversive artist has some connection to Fly By Night.

Thursday morning we headed back to Canada. Ten hours with strong wind on the nose, although we did get our sails in the air for n hour or two.

We dropped anchor in Waupoos and saw the BPYC burgee flying on fellow Bluffers' vessels. First, a quick trip to shore to call in our return to Canadian soil. Failure to report can result in fines of $1,000 and seizure of your boat. I was surprised when Customs asked us to wait at the marina while they sent a car round to say hello. Half an hour later, two very hot looking Border Patrol officers arrived, in bullet proof vests and guns in holsters. They asked us if we had anything to declare. "Just cookies. Oh, and six cans of American beer." I wondered if we'd have to dinghy them out to the boat or bring Yondering over to shore for an inspection, but they gave us our clearance number and sent us on our way.

Back to the sailboat Medina and a night of conviviality. Carolyn, Kaarina and Mike, Lyn and Mike. Wonderful eats with each boat contributing treats. Caught between the sun and the moon as night fell, watching the sun set on one side and moon rise on the other. Last course? The cookies from Fly By Night. Magic!

I felt a bit sad the next morning watching Medina and Awful Beloved sail away. We'd only just arrived, but they'd already spent several days and were off to other adventures on the lake. Happily, Sun Glimmer dropped anchor a few boat-lengths away and after a swim, we dinghied down the lake for an ice cream cone at Black River Cheese. Another shared meal in the evening, stories of sailing and favourite anchorages, and an incredible view of moonlight on the water.

Here it is, Saturday already. Nine days in, almost halfway through the holiday. Doing a load of laundry at the marina. Lazy summer afternoon.

More than once on this holiday I have memories bubbling up from childhood summer vacations. Here's one. I am about nine or ten, and it is July 31st, and I'm perched on the front bumper of the car in our garage. Skinny legs stretched out to the back bumper of the other car. Heat rising up from the black asphalt below, hot glare. Suddenly realizing summer holidays are half over. Just loving the time in the sun and wanting time to pass even more slowly. Wondering if I will remember that moment in the years ahead. And here I am, remembering.

Full Sturgeon Moon - August

I don't think there are any sturgeon in the Waupoos neighbourhood to enjoy their namesake moon. But all the fish in the lake are probably drawn to the moonlight dazzle.

Rob and I were sitting on the back of Lyn's and Mike's boat looking at the sparks so bright, it looked like they were jumping to the moon.

The full moon August 10th promises to be the largest of the five super moons this year. Then the Perseid meteor showers peak between the 11th and 13th, but it will likely be difficult to see as many shooting stars with the moon so bright.   Gazing northeast toward Perseus and away from the moon should help.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Holidays at last!

It seems a long time, and it is. Last summer our sailing vacation was only eleven days. This year I have arranged for 20 days off in a row, and we're spending most of them on the water.

Beginning Day 5. I still wake preoccupied with thoughts of work, but they drift to other essentials, like weather and wind conditions.

In the North Country now. Olcott, Rockport, Pultneyville. Nostalgic little ports: Olcott with its carousel and expansive park lawns; Rockport and its private beaches; Pultneyville's historic town. Pick a decade from the last two hundred years and you could dress a set.

Rockport has a sign that reads 'Best Porch in America', but I soon met it's rival in Pultneyville. Rocking chairs, picturesque views of the sunset and boats bobbing in the water. Spaces to linger.

We're making good use of the dinghy, exploring green rivers inland. Olcott was so thick with duckweed it looked like you might be able to walk on water in places. Lots of fishermen, big rigs and small.Tributaries stocked for summer sporting.

And time to read without distraction! Hours on end to get sucked into parallel worlds while we're motoring from one spot to another. Devoured two books on the trip so far (Merde and the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry). Now in the middle of a thick Pulitzer (Goldfinch).

We are well provisioned and feasting on the first leg of the trip. I stopped off at McKewan's Gourmet Grocery before we left for a few "treats" and found myself at the meat counter where the butcher was extolling the virtues of Wagyu beef,... the steaks were beyond my budget at $72 lb, so I chose some decadent burgers instead. Along with some Korean-style ribs. When I asked how long this would last in an ice cooler, he said he'd vacuum pack the meat. Fabulous! What a difference it has made to lasting freshness.

I spent a full day prepping and shopping, and we are now well rewarded with memorable meals. Really great food, including Bizmarck Burgers, papparedelle and chorizo bolognese, salads and fruit. Last night an Indian meal with naan. We're making our way through the cooler and then will end up in the pantry.

Up early enough to see sunrise from the boat's deck this morning. Today, I think we are headed for Sodus Bay.