Sunday, August 30, 2015

August in the backyard

The back garden seems to be thriving despite the fact that I've been away for more than half of August.  Alex and Karl kept it watered in our absence.

The Henry clematis suffered a mishap a few years ago, so I planted two replacements last season. The replacements seem to have evaporated, while Henry I has rebounded.

The native bunchberries I planted in the spring are also showing off white flowers with a pinkish tinge. Small and delicate, they seem to be liking their new home near the cedar.

This is the first year I've actually seen berries on the Jack-in-the-Pulpit. I hope this beauty stays healthy and grows a colony!

berries on Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Griskit contemplates

Little Baha

The last few times we've been out we've visited 'Little Baha,' just off the spit for a night at anchor.

When facing away from the city skyline it feels like we are far away from a metropolis, but then with a little swing of the hook you see the CN Tower and the bright lights of the financial district in the distance.

There have been 7 or 8 boats overnight, but no noisy partiers. It is quiet enough to hear crickets.

We've taken Griskit on these short excursions, trying to get her more accustomed to the boat. She tolerates it during the day, but we can see her become more alert and at ease when it gets dark, and she prowls the upper deck. She's good company when we're anchored, but definitely prefers a flat lake.

2 minutes before getting seasick (waves 1 meter)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Super moon - August 2015

The Full Sturgeon Moon on August 29th is the first of three super moons in 2015.

I wonder if it would be a good night for fishing?

order the T-shirt at Design by Humans

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stephen King: On Writing

On Writing is part memoir and part advice on writing (and reading).

This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. 
- Second Foreward

I've gained a better appreciation for King over the years as I've heard of his support and advice to young writers.

His popular success has also been a bit of a curse, as critics dismiss his work from the category of 'literature". I love his short stories and ability to hold a reader's attention.

The memoir portions of the book come across as honest. He makes no apologies about his working class background, or about his struggles with alcohol and addiction. He also cautions against deliberately turning toward a genre simply to make money. "It's morally wonky, for one thing - the job of fiction is to find the truth inside the story's web of lies, not to commit intellectual dishonesty in the hunt for the buck. Also, brothers and sisters, it doesn't work."

Stephen King recounts in vivid detail when he was struck by a car in '99 and seriously injured. "It occurs to me that I have very nearly been killed by a character right out of one of my own novels. It is almost funny."

Frank, direct, and full of great advice.

One of his first editors advised, "When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story... When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story." Or, as King rephrased, "write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open."

King says he takes a book with him wherever he goes, "The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows. Waiting rooms are made for books - of course! But so are theatre lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone's favourite, the john."

The first edition ended with a recommendation of 100 books, the second edition with another 80. I was pleased to see Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake), Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) and Yann Martel (Life of Pi).

Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

Last Days of Ptolemny Grey, by Walter Mosley is told from the perspective of an old black man suffering Alzheimer's, fading in and out of memory and consciousness.

Ptolemny is given drugs to help him recover memory, with the foreknowledge the gift will likely shorten his life. Still, he makes his deal with the Devil. The altered consciousness doesn't change who Ptolemny is at his core, but his improved mental capabilities help him execute his sense of justice.

Characters from Ptolemny's past become visions and in lucid sdreams he rewrites history. Waking life becomes dreamlike, an odyssey where he uncovers fragments as though a detective in his own life. It is a treasure hunt that will benefit future generations.

It is also a love story, told with a yearning that he was forty years younger and Robyn twenty years older.

Samuel Jackson is working to help bring the book to screen through HBO, but there's nothing on imdb just yet.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Zen in Frenchman's Bay

What a great day! This was Wendy's first trip as skipper to Frenchman's Bay and Grace and I were more than happy to crew. I was both honoured and inspired to be part of the 'maiden' voyage.

We set sail a little after 9:30 to arrive at noon. Ports was a great restaurant with an unobstructed view of the bay - and of Zen, perfectly tied to the floating dock and waiting our return. Hard not to love the view! The fish and chips were tasty, too.

We motored home. Wendy clearly loving the action at the helm, calm and confident in waves between 2-3 meters. Conditions were rough enough to bounce one of the shrouds from the forestay, but the bimini and dodger helped keep us dry from the frequent spray.

Zen is a beautiful boat! It was fun crewing a vessel that was so different from Yondering. Zen is much younger, a 2014 Bavaria. She's a bit bigger, has more horsepower in the engine, and a main with auto-furling. No traveler meant that to do wing-on-wing the main was actually unclipped and positioned to the starboard side of the ship for the desired angle. It was interesting to experience all the differences under both power and sail.

It didn't seem long before we docked at about 4:45 to toast the day with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What are you reading?

Summer time.... and what are you reading? 

It has become somewhat of a tradition to get together with fellow book lovers on the deck at BPYC to chat about some of our favourite reads of the season. It was a perfect evening, with boats coming in and out of the gap as the sun set and the lighthouse blinked on.

Annika  suggested we co-host a raclette party, and everyone brought treats. Sausage, shrimp, fresh veggies.... One of my favourites on the grill was scallops and asparagus. Sides were quiche and salad. Cheeses included gruyere, swiss, and different types of raclette. Everything delicious!

It was a real pleasure hearing about everyone's summer reading. I especially want to pick up the bilingual edition of Neruda's book of poetry, Ode to Common Things.

Here is the list of books with links to details.

Laura B.

Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Anne S.
My Secret Sister, by Helen Edwards and  Jenny Lee Smith

The Madonnas of Leningrad, by  Debra Dean

Lisa S.
The Danish Girl,  by  David Ebershoff

The Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Chu 


Odes to Common Things, Bilingual Edition, by  Pablo Neruda /  Ferris Cook, Ken Krabbenhoft

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen
These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

Winter of the World by Ken Follett


The World on a Plate

One of my favourite books of the summer: The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes, and the Stories Behind Them, by Mina Holland, and winner of the Best Culinary Travel Book in the UK Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

When we eat, we travel. Treat this book as your passport.

I might not be buying a plane ticket to take me to Normandy anytime soon, but at least I can put together a meal to travel there in my imagination. Here is one recipe I am going to try as soon as the apples start ripening in the fall:

*Baked Camembert*
1 x 9 oz round of Camembert, in its box
2 tbsp of Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy)
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves only
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh bread and crudites to serve

  1. Remove the lid from the camembert box, unwrap the cheese and discard the wrapping before returning the cheese to the box. Pierce the top of the cheese with a fork and carefully spoon the Calvados all over it, followed by the rosemary and seasoning.
  2. Allow to marinate at room temperature for up to 8 hours.(If you can marinate in the morning before you wish to serve it, that's ideal), or for as long as you can short of that.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F and bake for 10-20 minutes. I like it super gooey in the center, so you can break through the white rind into a molten explosion of boozy cheese.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Floating Library

Lots of time motoring = lots of time to read.

Digging to America, Anne Tyler: I've always thought of the USA as the "great melting pot," but this cast a whole other point of view on first generation immigrants as they maintain cultural identity while adapting to new norms and honouring blended family traditions. The characters were all well drawn, but one in particular is interesting to watch evolve, as she learns to let down her guard and rest the suspicions that isolate her from a true sense of belonging.

Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins: The thriller was a fast-paced and fun read. With all the press you know going in the narrator is unreliable, but it's still loads of fun as the author twists perspective and plot to keep you second guessing.

Broken Promise, Linwood Barclay: After I read this, I passed it on to Rob, who guessed the perpetrators and motives by mid-book. Entertaining, even if it was a bit predictable. Looking forward to parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt: Even better after the second reading. I re-read this for the upcoming August Book Babes meeting. Loved it for all the same reasons as last summer, but this time around, knowing what comes next, I was better able to appreciate the author's technique and story telling.

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee: The cadence of the story is beautiful. Non-hurried. I've read this novel at least three times - high school, university, and now. Each time something new stands out. I wasn't going to read it as I've also seen the movie and the play, so thought I remembered all the lovely details. The narrative is told as a woman remembering the summers of her youth, and so it was an interesting layer, as I remembered different passages a bit differently. Beautifully told from start to finish.

Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread, Chuck Palahniuk: Short stories, not for the squeamish or easily offended. Brash, shocking, vulgar, in poor taste... perfect for when you are feeling a bit bored and cynical. A modern O'Henry.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cobourg - and on to Bluffers Park

Cobourg Marina
High winds from the south west made extending our shore time appealing, so we spent a full day in port at Cobourg. It's been awhile since we had breakfast at the Buttermilk, took a walk in the Butterfly Garden and down the Boardwalk on the beach, strollled along the Pier, and enjoyed the sunset view.

The forecast the next day was for strong north west winds slightly off the nose, so we thought we'd get while the getting was good. We headed out 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, winds gusting to 23 knots. Hoisting the main meant we were able to travel about 6.5 knots. I snapped a photo of Rob in his winter woolly hat and foul weather gear.  August 12th?

Nine hours later, the welcome sight of the Scarborough Bluffs and the visitors' dock at BPYC. Hot enough once we were tied in our slip and out of the breeze to remove a few layers. It is summer, after all.

Race night! Lots of activity in the basin. This really is one of the prettiest ports in all of Lake Ontario.

We have another four days before heading back to work. Our vacation continues on home turf.

Scarborough Bluffs Basin
Day 11 - Cobourg
Day 12 - Cobourg to Bluffer's Park (9 hours)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Motor Home

Murray Canal East Inlet
We are not tempting fate and keeping the jib furled until we can get it properly fixed in our home port. So far conditions haven't been right to sail by the main.

All this motoring is giving us a bit of a taste of what it would be like with a trawler, put-put-put-ting along. Definitely not the same flying feeling, but pleasant enough.

The scenery is great. As we go past the homes and cottages along the Bay of Quinte I wonder about all those freshly mown lawns and green green grass. Wouldn't wildflowers be prettier, and better for the pollinators? If I had a waterfront property I would want to sit on the dock and admire the view, not ride a mower. But then, the size of some of these lawns, the owners probably have landscapers do the tending. I just hope they forego the chemicals and are making peace with their "weeds".

Into the Murray Canal and on the lookout for turtles sunning themselves. Basking. They look so content, even when they are stacked on top of each other, forming amphibian inuksuks. Maybe it is a defense mechanism, a way to hide from predators.

Around the corner and along the shore to Cobourg. Skies darkening. Listening to the radio for the weather report, and advisories to avoid touching metal during thunderstorms. Checking radar. Oncoming clouds. Beat the rain to the dock this time!

Day 9 - Waupoos to Belleville / Meyers Pier (9.5 hours)
Day 10 - Belleville to Cobourg / Cobourg Marina (9.5 hours)

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Three nights in Waupoos, enjoying sunsets and staring up into the night sky through the marine glasses admiring the Milky Way. The night sky crystal clear and stars densely packed in a sparkling canopy. Shooting stars, lots of wishes.

Strolled the island for a look at the wildflowers, and to catch a glimpse of the flock of lamb. Went for a swim in the chilly waters.
Cannery Row

Drinks on deck and swapping stories in the cockpit on boats. Lots of Bluffers here - Caroline, Alex & Aldo, Mike & Kaarina, Don and Mai Liss, Laura and Peter.

When Kaarina arrived in her car Saturday morning we went into town for provisions. Vickie's Veggies was a roadside stand with fresh produce and heirloom tomatoes that could've made the cover of Bon Appetit. Vickie herself was in Toronto though, going every week to the Brickworks. I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I want a taste of Prince Edward County when I'm back in the city.
Yondering at anchor

Saturday night the Wapouzis made their debut.  Caroline, Laura and I played our ukes to a Sunshine medley that included "Sunshine on My Shoulder", "Look on the Sunnyside" and "You Are My Sunshine." Our audience wanted an encore but all we had was Smellycat. We'll definitely have to add more songs to our repertoire.

Waupoos - Days 6, 7, 8

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sailing Holiday!

An auspicious start

A little prequel to the South Shore the weekend before our sailing holiday seemed like a good idea, so the last weekend in July we headed over to Wilson New York for an overnite. 

Mostly a motorsail, because we were eager to reach our destination before the coming storm.  Just made it, the wind and rain bringing us to dock at Tuscarora. The cooling effects of the rain didn’t last very long. Soon we were sweltering in the shade at Wilson Yacht Club, chatting with Mike and Kaarina and borrowing their ice hats to keep cool. Air conditioning at the Sunset Grill brought our core temperatures back to normal, the fish tacos and Bloody Caesars an added bonus. 

Heading out the next morning, the engine refused to start. The grinding noise the last time we started the engine may have been a clue. Or the horrible smell once we turned the motor off, reminiscent of stale cigarettes in beer bottles.  We figured the odour was a neighbouring boat, but in hindsight it was our starter.

M&K  had already headed for home, but luckily for us, returned to help us out of the Wilson Harbour and actually ended up towing us home. Ten hours across the lake, 3.5 knots.  We stopped for a swim and played our ukuleles along the way, and ended up tasting a few martinis at BPYC, with Yondering tied to the visitors dock.

Our time off work and planned cruising was to start in only 6 nights. Thankfully, the mechanic was available and the right parts found and installed.

… And we’re off on our ‘official’ holiday
Toronto to Cobourg – Day One

Starter fixed, engine running.  We provisioned the boat under the Blue Moon that actually appeared pink in the sky. Big and beautiful rising.

Ready to go, and out the gap. Let out the sails. The furling on the head sail seemed a bit sticky, so we tried bringing it in but it stuck. Tried again, and then again, and it furled closed. So we’re off to Cobourg.

Met Lyn and Mike at the docks and enjoyed a nice Italian meal. 

Around 10:30 pm, fireworks surprised us in the sky. We sat in the cockpit on Yondering and thought the timing couldn’t have been better planned.

Mast crane needed
Cobourg to Trenton – Day Two

The next morning, Rob fiddled a bit with the headsail. This time the jib wasn’t furling despite coaxing, so it was a manual roll and tie. No mast crane at Cobourg, so we figured we’d wrap the jib tight and head to CFB Trenton where we could rent one for a closer look - and hopefully fix - the problem.

The forecast scrawled in the board at the yacht club promised flat water, manageable winds at 10 knots, with chance of a thunderstorm in the evening. We motored away, trusting we would beat the storm.

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me. 
Mama mia! Mama mia!  Figaro
Day Two
We were literally just outside of CFB Trenton when all hell broke loose. The skies darkened and the wind picked up, blasting into the folds of the tied headsail and puffing the upper third like a big balloon, pushing us in a whole different direction. Lightning  was striking the hills in front of us and Yondering was heeled right over. Can keel boats tip right over? I thought we were about to find out.

I wondered whether I should go up on deck and try to tie the jib but another lightning strike kept me by the hold. Winds came up even stronger and I realized this was one of those moments when you are powerless to influence the outcome. Surrender to the moment and hope for the best. I was hearing parts of the Bohemian Rhapsody play. Scaramouche, Scaramouche will you do the Fandango?  It was surreal and exhilarating.

That's when the sail started to shred itself, tearing  a little and then a lot more. Probably the best thing that could have happened, because Yondering recovered enough for Rob to steer us into the club with the dock master catching us at the slip. When we were secured on shore, my legs and arms felt like I’d run a marathon. Adrenalin!

We still weren’t able to tie the jib, and the sail kept slapping and shredding all night. I felt I was in a tin can that was shaking back and forth, wondering if the wind was strong enough to pull down the mast. At the worst of the storm, we got out of the boat and headed to the clubhouse to watch lightning strikes on the horizon.

The mast stayed in place and in the early morning Rob was able to wind the remains of the jib back into place.

A Day at the Docks
Trenton – Days 2 and 3

We wandered down to the Galley in the Barracks for breakfast and Rob figured he would head back to Toronto and pick up the replacement sail in our basement via car rental. I opted to hang out on the boat and enjoy the scenery. I ended up reading, nodding off, reading, nodding off.

A thoroughly enjoyable day to catch up on reading and sleeping. 

We haven’t been to CFB Trenton Yacht club in years and I was happy to spend a second, much calmer night, enjoying the view. A wonderful spot on the Bay of Quinte.

Sandy Cove
Day 4

Having spent so much time at the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club last year, we motored right past.

Motored because although conditions were great, the new sail  didn’t quite work on the furling, or vice versa. We chose not to tempt fate and motored straight to Sandy Cove. Just three hours later we dropped our hook, the only boats there. By nightfall, there were nine.

More rain, and distant thunder. And one of the most impressive rainbows I've ever seen, glowing from one end to the other. Tall, perfect arches over the water, so massive we couldn't get the whole thing in one photo.

Prince Edward Yacht Club
Day 5

After about 5.5 hours motoring we nipped into the last available slip here, sitting in the cockpit to wait out a light summer rain.

Then a walk into Picton to replenish supplies. 

Picked up some MacFuddy Pepper Elixer, "infused with luck."  Tasty soda!