Friday, July 31, 2015

Blue Moon - July

July 31 is a Blue Moon.

The next time skywatchers are likely to see a blue moon is in 2018 on January 31.

So enjoy!

Blue Moon
  • The song has been covered by countless artists, including Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Mel Torme, Theresa Brewer, The Lettermen, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Bobby Vinton, Billy Holiday, Sam Cooke, Rod Stewart, and Elvis Presley
  • Written in 1934 by Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart
  • Originally performed Glen Cray & the Casa Loma Band, it was a #1 chart hit
  • Although it has been used in many movies, including "Words And Music" (1948); "Malaya" (1949); "East Side, West Side" (1950); and "With A Song In My Heart" (1952), it was the only song by Rogers & Hart that was not actually composed FOR a movie or Broadway show
  • The only version ever to crack the Top 40 in the Rock & Roll era was one by The Marcels, who hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the song in 1961
  • Richard Rogers hated the Marcels doo-wop fast version of their song, which was originally intended as a ballad, to the point where he took out ads in the music publications urging people not to purchase The Marcels version of the song
  • To add insult to injury, a wildly popular doo-wop cover version by Sha-Na Na in the movie Grease in 1978 was extremely popular
  • Most people today don't even know the song was originally a ballad

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Garden

My staycation was a bit of a break to do some gardening. Mainly transplanting things here and there, and tending to much needed weeding. Most transplants really like their new homes, but others have already become compost. Survivors are the hostas and tovara, but sadly the anemone didn't quite make it. The painted ferns will bounce back, I'm sure of it.

Our three goldfish made it to four years old, spending winters in our basement. It was a pleasure to watch them glint in the sun and so it was sad indeed when the racoons (or was it opossum) scooped the fish out for fresh sushi. One morning we woke to see the fountain spout yanked out of the pond and the fish nowhere to be seen. Just a few scales remained on the stone bench. At least this time the were fully eaten - last time just the eyeballs had been sucked out and the carcasses left to rot in the sun.  

Blooming now:  Henry clematis, brunera, purple coneflower, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, Dahlia, bunchberry, nasturtium, day lily.

The mondivilla is very striking now, with flowers like red velvet. I haven't seen any pollinators attracted to the huge blossoms, maybe my timing is off. How else would there be so many continuous blooms?

Tested out the homemade Weed Be Gone solution and it worked quite well on the weeds that were growing between the paving stones.
Weed Be Gone
1 gallon of vinegar
2 cups Epson salt
1/4 cup Dawn dish soap

Mix and spray in the morning after dew has evaporated. Walk away. Go back after dinner and all the weeds are gone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Americas - Winetasting

Picturing the Americas is a fantastic exhibition on at the AGO. I first visited on my staycation, and was happy to return for a second viewing. An artist I want to learn more about is Tarsita do Ameral, who painted the canvas above and is known by her first name in her native Brazil.

This time I was at the gallery because Frank was celebrating the Americas with a winetasting. An exquisitely prepared meal with thoughtful wine pairings had me relishing every bite and sip. Everything was beautifully plated and presented, and the chef and sommelier introduced each course and then visited the guests at table to answer questions and make small talk.

I got a chance to try new combinations and ingredients that were brand new, thinking of simpler versions to try at home. Apparently you can pick up packaged sugar cane at Metro - an ingredient I'll keep my eye out for, since it helps make fabulous cocktails. Charred octopus with malbec was amazing, changing the experience of the wine by softening tannins.

Definitely will get some Cuvee Catherine for a summer celebration. The wait staff greeted us with this as we arrived and it was perfectly chilled to cool us down on a hot summer afternoon. The Sauv-Blanc was also a delicious surprise - great on its own and paired with the salad.

A wonderful evening with Kaarina, Grace and Kirsti, although I did pay for my excess the following day at work by moving a bit more slowly than usual. I blamed it on the heat.


Henry of Pelham 
sparkling rose made in the Champagne style

sugar cane
cachaca & half a lime in wedges muddled with white sugar, ice and sugar cane

mahi mahi & wahoo
pisco, passion fruit puree, simple syrup, lemon juice & eggwhite

summer squash & peach
gooseberry mash
raspberry vinaigrette
Cartegena  Casa Marlin   2012
crisp acidity and tropical fruit flavour

puffed tripe, local grains
malbec gastrique
Terra Rosa  Mendoza 2012 
The nose is full with ripe almost sweet blackberry fruit tones that are tempered by that 'stony' quality one finds in the high altitude and rocky vineyards of the Valle de Uco

blood sausage, grilled scallion, asado king oyster mushroom, fingerling potatoes, chimichurri
Ray's Station   Mendocino 2012
The palate has flavours of boysenberry, blackberry and wild cherry.

"I Had Too Much Ice Wine Sugar Pie"
pet de noones, plum chomeur sauce

Friday, July 24, 2015

Life After Life

Deja vu!

I felt like I've read this book before.

Life After Life is about someone who keeps being reborn into the same life. Each time a detail or two changes, and then 'darkness falls' until the start of the next chapter.

In fact, my BPYC book club read it a couple of years ago.

This time it was a Book Babes selection, with discussion around whether Ursula's ability to relive her life was a gift or curse, and talk about whether there were things (big or small) we would do differently if we had our lives to live over again.

Our heroine Ursula isn't fully conscious she is revisiting her life, but has a vague sense of foreboding and sometimes a compulsion or impulse that she acts on that changes the course of events. Small things, like choosing to walk on the other side of the street one day, or bigger choices, like pushing someone down a flight of stairs, or  plotting someone's murder. The book has such a fascinating premise.
Inevitably, metaphysics creeps in. We travel and return to the psychiatrist’s office where Ursula’s parents take her, at age 10, for sessions in which the conversation touches on reincarnation and the nature of time. When Dr. Kellet suggests that the moody, spacey Ursula may be remembering other lives and asks her to draw something, she produces a snake with its tail in its mouth. “It’s a symbol representing the circularity of the universe,” the doctor explains. “Time is a construct, in reality everything flows, no past or present, only the now.” New York Times 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Panamania at Nathan Phillips Square had me falling in love with Toronto all over again. To help kick start the evening, Canadian athletes paraded their medals and the crowd cheered.

The celebration continued with bright lights, fantastic music, and an eclectic and diverse crowd enjoying each other’s company and a beautiful summer evening.
Over six hours, the hot afternoon sun blossomed to sunset and then the colourful  lights of the stage and city shone well into the night. The crowd danced as a cool breeze kept people from overheating.
Five different bands shared their unique sounds and Rob and I listened to acapalla, bluegrass, flamenco, bomba, and Latin Jazz.
Too windy for fireworks to close the show, but otherwise a perfect evening!
5:30 p.m. – Retrocity – acapella & 80’s retro
6:00 p.m. - The Dead South – bluegrass & folk from Saskatchewan
7:30 p.m. - Amanda Martinez - "flamenco soul" 

8:30 p.m. - Plena Libre - a bomba group from Porto Rico

9:30 p.m. - Spanish Harlem Orchestra - 2 time Grammy winners from NYC

Dead South

Saturday, July 18, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See is the best book I've read so far in 2015.

Poetically written, with beautiful imagery and unforgettable settings.

Here is one of my favourite passages, describing The Hotel of Bees:
... before it was ever a hotel at all, five full centuries ago, it was a home of a wealthy privateer who gave up raiding ships to study bees in the pastures outside Saint-Malo, scribbling in notebooks and eating honey straight from combs. The crests above the door lintels still have bumblebees carved into the oak; the ivy-covered fountain in the courtyard is shaped like a hive. Werner's favorites are five faded frescoes on the ceilings of the grandest upper rooms, where bees as big as children float against blue backdrops, big lazy drones and workers with diaphaonous wings - where, above a hexagonal bathtub, a single nine-foot long queen, with multiple eyes and a golden-furred abdomen, curls across the ceiling. (pg 8)
I think I dreamt of the Hotel of Bees that night. Descriptions of the Jardin des Plantes, St. Malo, Paris streets, Museum of Natural History and grottos are equally captivating.

The book was so wonderfully written that I actually had to put it down every few pages because it activated my imagination so much I wanted to dwell where it was transporting me. I delayed finishing because I was enjoying it so much.

The characters, the plot, the language, the pacing were all masterful. Pulitzer winnerfor Best Fiction in 2015.

I think I'm going to read it again before the summer ends!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Yoga in the Heart of the City - 2015

This is the sixth year I've participated in Yoga in the Heart of the City, the first being 2010.  I love the concept of a retreat within the city, and the time to take full mornings to breathe, stretch, strengthen and balance. One hour pranayama, 2 hours asana, and by the end of the week a sense of elation and rejuvenation.

I'm so glad I took the full week's holiday, versus the last two years when I followed the mornings with a full shift at work. Free afternoons left time to explore and savour some of my favourite activities with heightened awareness. Finding the 'yoga' in a ukulele lesson, a tasty meal, my back garden.

The last day of the intensive was restorative, and for lunch afterward I went for a bowl of Pho, one of the tastiest and most satisfying chicken noodle soups I've ever enjoyed. Then a massage followed by a nice hot bath at home. Ahhhhhhh. Or should I say, Aum.


Reminders for future Practise

  • Some days these come easier than others, but it is worthwhile to consciously choose to practise these attitudes rather than wait for their arrival.
  • Practise these attitudes not only towards others but also toward yourself. 

  • One of the simplest and most effective ways to approach pranayama is to lie back against a single rolled blanket that just catches the shoulders. 
  • Incorporate bhramari breathing into home practise!
  • Generally do pranayama before asana unless it has been a quiet practise, and allow a bit of a break for your nervous system before starting into asanas.
  • For energy, lengthen the inhale; for relaxation, the exhale. 

  • Warrior 3
  • More backbends!!!!
  • Also try the supported head stand from the cardiac practise (chair, blocks, bolster, planks).  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Yoga in the Heart of the City Every morning all week, heading to the studio for an hour of pranayama and then two more hours of asana. An intensive with emphasis on opening the heart.  Summerlicious! Great lunches in great restaurants, Frank (chilled melon and grape soup with sea buckthorn, kohlrabi + bulgogi po-boy pork belly, kimchi, apple, crispy shallots + soursop ice bar candied cashew crust) Jaipur (Dhall Balla Chaat + Grouper Konkani + Mango Mousse) Cocktails Trying a few new twists...  A Mad Dog (Hendricks gin with cucumbers). Amber Road (Bourbon and Aperol). Sloe Gin Fizz (sloe gin, gin and soda) Paloma (tequila, grapefruit juice, lime & soda). Art Picturing the Americas at the AGO is truly impressive, with epic canvases featuring landscapes from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic. The paintings that try to capture the scale of new territories are thrilling... what it must have been like 200 years ago, when there was still uncharted territory on the planet and quests to share new wonders. Also From the Forest to the Sea, celebrating the ecstatic art of Emily Carr, including watercolours and sketches, that brought me a new perspective on her incredible talents.  Theatre Kinky Boots was a riot! I loved how powerful the drag queen became when he dressed in women's clothes, versus how meek he was when trying to fit in as a stereotypical male. The play was adapted from an indie movie and was four years in the writing. The most memorable line for me was "You change the world when you change your mind." Ukulele A couple of 1-1 Ukulele lesson with Steve McNie. He's an exceptional teacher and I like his sensibility. The first time we got together it was almost like a yoga lesson in posture, alignment, and mindfulness. He made me laugh more than once, including when he referenced Monty Python's "Every sperm is sacred" to make the point that every note deserves your full attention.   Gardening Moving things here and there, weeding, and just sitting and enjoying the view.  Sailing The best sail of the season so far on July 11, we were out for hours and then anchored at the foot of the bluffs. The next day, we had a get-together with my brothers, sister and some nieces and nephews at BPYC as Rob took people out for a sail while I entertained on the spit. It was a wonderful day! July 18 was the BPYC fundraiser party for our charity, the Blind Sailors of Ontario, and also a chance to get out on the water for a day sail. July 19 was spent at anchor on the foot of the Bluffs, strumming a bit on the uke and loving the moment.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Full Buck Moon: July

July is the quintessential month of summer. Its full moon is known as Thunder Moon or Summer Moon, but its most common name is Buck Moon, to reflect the fact that bucks in the North American wilderness are beginning to grow new antlers - a vision of elegance and strength resulting from the ever-changing cycle of life.

Some bucks in honour of the the Full Buck moon:

Canada 2011 Native American Niobium Full Moons #1 - Buck Moon Deer $5 Pure Silver & Niobium BiMetallic Proof

2004 Silver $5 coin