Monday, September 17, 2018

Yoga Camp Weekend

Just the balm I needed!

This is the second year I've made it to the Queen Elizabeth Yoga Camp weekend. It sells out quickly so we signed up as soon as the notice came out in April.

I shared a no-frills cabin with Liz and Denise, just a short walk to the outhouse and water station, with just a few more steps to the Big Camp. Chris was there too, bunking in a cabin with Campbell.

Delicious meals appeared without having to think about their preparation or clean-up. What a treat! As was sharing the table with friends.

There were so many different activities offered: yoga, qigong, hikes, meditation, rustic spa, massage, crafts, open waterfront. It was often hard to choose. 

Each morning I enjoyed qigong with the morning sunrise, followed by guided meditation on the rocks. I have been reading Thich Nhat Hanh on the topic of inter-being, so in seated meditation with my eyes softly focused I could wonder at how the rocks gracefully submerged under the water, the reflection of clouds above. A wonderful becoming.

I also relaxed with candlelight yoga, gentle yoga, yin yoga for neck and shoulders. I even fit in a short vigorous practice before a massage.

Even though it was mid-September the days were hot. Breezes were cool. The lake was the perfect temperature for swimming.

Rustic sauna
This is the first time I tried a "rustic spa" sauna. Fun! Slather warm oatmeal all over your body, smear olive oil and brown sugar on your lips and let it all dry. Then you need two buckets: one steel bucket to put rocks hot from a fire and the second for a bucket of water. Gather at least four friends and huddle yourselves underneath a tarp. Add water to the rocks - and presto  - rustic sauna! Sweat until you've had enough and then jump into lake to remove the oatmeal and feed the fish.

 The craft this year was making  holiday ornaments. Everything was supplied and all the wood was sliced and ready to go, just waiting for embellishment. Little momentos of a summer's day, set aside for the winter ahead.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

One remarkable woman

My mom was a remarkable woman who accomplished so much in her life. 

My grandparents were rightly proud of their intelligent and talented daughter, an excellent and well-rounded student who accepted the honour and duties of being the valedictorian for her high school graduating class. 

Marion met James Patrick -, fell head over heels, and married the love of her life not long out of high school.

As an only child, family was always important to Marion, and she would go on to be a mother to six, grandmother to 13, and great-grandmother to 8 (and counting). She loved us all, and did her best to be there for each of us. She even put aside funds for grandkids to help prepare them for the future and get them all off to a good start. She never forgot a birthday, and made sure every Christmas and Thanksgiving were special.

She made it a practice for us to try to focus on the positive. As kids growing up we said grace before our meals and nightly bedtime prayers. I remember we would often be called on to talk about what had gone well during the day, and what we had to be grateful for. When someone might have the audacity to say “nothing went well” my mom would say, “Come on, no one can live on God’s good green earth without at least one good thing happening to them during the day.” So she helped us to see the good each day could bring.

In addition to being a homemaker, Marion held lots of different paid jobs over the years: window dresser, graphic designer, advertising coordinator. She turned her creativity and dexterity to knitting and crochet and her designs were published in craft magazines. She worked as a child care provider for the Region, as a training specialist for Junior Achievement, worked for the Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance, and later as a provider at Home Instead Senior Care. Many of these positions called on her compassion, patience, creativity and diligence.

Always a spiritual person, she was also a valued and active member of the Catholic church community here in K-W. 

She made lasting contributions as a volunteer and said the years spent with the St. Vincent de Paul Society introduced her to one very large group of caring and committed Christians, who were concerned with the plight of the hungry and homeless, and willing to give above and beyond ordinary efforts. She recalled the seven years spent building and establishing Marillac Place as eventful, exciting, and exhilarating.

Life brings challenges to us all and Marion faced hers with courage and fortitude, whether it was the sudden death of her beloved husband, the loss of her good friend Lou,  the trials and tribulations of her family, or her own personal struggles with health.

Last November my brothers and sister accompanied our Mom to the hospital, where was told she had an aggressive form of lung cancer that, left untreated, could mean she had as little as eight weeks' time remaining. We were all devastated. 

The medical system kicked in and soon she received medical appointments and advice, personal service worker visits, pain medication, water pills, heart pills, chemotherapy, pleurisy treatments, MRIs, CT scans, and more. 

Mom chose Expected Death in the Home, or EDITH, as the local health integrated network describes it. She knew it would not be easy but also made a conscious choice to make the best of her remaining days.

Some days were easier than others, as she struggled with breathing and painful symptoms, confronting the daily conditions of living with a terminal illness. The diagnosis was both a blessing and a curse, because we knew her death was coming we were able to make special occasions even more special this past year.

We weren’t sure how much time we would have left with her, so our family celebrated Christmas in early December, and again on Christmas day. We got together again for New Years. In January, we celebrated her birthday. We gathered together at Easter, and again on Mother’s Day. A feast and groaning boards at every occasion. 

Mom had a voracious appetite and enjoyed her food, sampling most everything and savouring each morsel. 

Day to day she continued preparing meals for herself and others. As the weather got warmer she would sit in the carport and visit with family and friends, taking in the fresh air and view of the flower garden. 

She wanted her children, her grandchildren, great-grand-children and their partners to know she loved them, and told us often.

She was always happy to have family, friends and neighbours stop by. 

Regular visits from the St. Aloysius community meant the world to her, as she received Communion and was anointed with last rights. Also very much appreciated were the visits from associates from Marallac and St. Vincent de Paul Society.

These last few months I came to know my mom better, and understand the depth of her love and compassion. 

As she was reflecting on her life she wrote, “Life has taught me that we are all in this together and the Golden Rule of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is the rule that matters.”

She is an inspiration to all who knew her. Those that touch our lives .... stay in our hearts forever.

Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, Marian. Thank you. Your love will light our way.  Your memory will forever be with us.


Bickers, Marion,
Only daughter of John & Ada Schlachter, died on August 21, 2018. She will be fondly remembered by her children and their families; her daughter Diane and her husband Rob Cowan; daughter Kathy and her late husband Dan Emery; her sons David and his wife Therese; Michael and his wife Karen; Alex and his partner Sue Taylor-Binsted; and her son Patrick. As well as by her 13 grandchildren: Daniel, John, Alex, Eric, Christopher, Sarah, Leo, Jessica, Robin, Emma, Olivia, Luke and Jared and 8 great-grandchildren Nicholas, Destiny, Terry, Mercedes, John Jr., William, Autumn and Araya. Predeceased by her husband James and her parents.
Marion's family will receive relatives and friends at Henry Walser Funeral Home, 507 Frederick Street, Kitchener, 519-749-8467 on Sunday, August 26, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Prayers Sunday 4:30 p.m. at the funeral home. A funeral mass will take place at St. Aloysius R.C. Church, 11 Traynor Ave., Kitchener, on Monday, August 27, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. Reception to follow in the parish hall. Private cremation to take place. 
As expressions of sympathy, donations to St. Aloysius Church - Food Pantry or Marillac Place would be appreciated by the family (cards available at the funeral home).

August Full Moon

The moon is full August 26, 7:56 a.m.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sailing Vacation!

Yondering leaving Stella
Long awaited holiday on the lake! Three weeks!

A palette of blues. Big sky, open water. Uncluttered horizon. Change of perspective.

The cruising portion of the holiday lasted 17 nights, with most of the time spent at anchor (12 nights!).  I love being at anchor, just swinging with the wind and a nice breeze going through the boat. 

Dockside at Newcastle and the tiny municipal docks at Brighton, and marinas in Clayton and Belleville. Anchored at Cobourg, Half Moon Bay (2 nights), Waupoos Island (3 nights) and Stella (2 nights), CFB Kingston (2 nights),  Glenn Island (1 night), and again at Cobourg. Then it was home to Bluffers for a couple of days before a short stay on Toronto Island.

We managed to visit some new spots along the lake and returned to others we haven't visited in years. This was also the first time we travelled ‘outside’ from Brighton docks straight to Waupoos. Usually if we are travelling on the north shore we meander the Bay of Quinte, and it takes us 5 days - this route brought us to Waupoos in 3 (Newcastle, Cobourg, Brighton). Conditions were favourable, light winds and a flat lake. 

sunset views in Cobourg
We started out the trip in tandem with Caroline who was single-handed, and dropped anchor with other Bluffers as we coddiwompled about the lake.

An afternoon visit to Picton with Lynn and Mike to provision. They had a car in Waupoos, so we were also able to lunch at the Waupoos Cidery and stop at Black Creek for ice cream. And in Stella, we enjoyed another tasty meal with them at the ‘Back Kitchen,’ a non-profit enterprise on Amherst Island that is run by volunteers and staffed by paid students-in-training.

After Waupoos we crossed over to Clayton USA and began the trek back again. 

One of the highlights was definitely the visit to Clayton and the Antique Boat Museum, along with Boldt castle and the tour of the 1000 Islands. La Duchesse was Boldt's houseboat, acquired by the Lifesaver King and then became the Rand McNalley's summer home. So light, airy and breezy! They would tie La Duchesse up in front of their palatial island property and spend most of their time on board.

The only downside to the Clayton visit was the having to tie up. In sweltering heat there was no breeze and the view was a bit industrial from the transient boat dock. Otherwise the historic town itself was quite picturesque, with lots of great restaurants and restored homes.

We also returned to CFB Kingston and moored there. A short swim to the beach on shore and what a lovely view.

Jumping in the lake at least once or twice a day, floating in the chair or noodling about. The water in the Bay of Quinte / Glenn Island was a bit weedy and green, but otherwise the water was clear and refreshing. 
Clear sailing (or motorsailing) most days. The engine conked out on the way in to Belleville and Bill came to give us a tow into Crates marina (great service at the marina!). We went out to the Boat House restaurant there and enjoyed a nice meal that evening. Next morning,  the engine was a quick fix - nothing that a full tank of gas and proper fuel conditioning didn't solve. Another Catalina 30 was towed in that morning and not so lucky - their engine totally blew.

Then back to home waters again, from Belleville to Cobourg to Bluffers to Toronto Island.

On Toronto Island, we tied up to the wall so we could easily take our bikes ashore. Cycling is always a pleasure, checking out the beaches, pier, boardwalk, city and home gardens, lunch at the Rectory. 

We've had our summer vacations on the lake since 2005 when we got our first boat. Chatting with Mais Lis and Don back at our dock, she said sailing was 80% bliss. It's true, there are definitely moments of frustration and irritability and danger, but overall I can't imagine a summer without a sailboat now. 

We may do some renovations on Yondering to prepare for summers ahead. Ice isn’t lasting very long in the cooler which has us considering adding refrigeration to the boat. We wouldn’t be so dependent on replenishing and could stay longer without a visit to shore. The list of renovations grew on this trip: new upholstery, new deck seating, potential paint job, propane, some solar panels… 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Thunder Moon Moon 2018

There  has been plenty of thunder this week, with summer storms and torrents of rain. 

Hopefully this will clear the atmosphere as we  head out on our sailing vacation and want to avoid any bad weather on the lake. 

Provisioning the galley, packing, stocking up the library. Three weeks!

Rob and I will be traveling in tandem with Caroline who is sailing single-handed.
Heading east? south? west? 


"Full Buck Moon"–Algonquin
“Ripe Corn Moon” –Cherokee 
“Middle of Summer Moon” –Ponca
“Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken by Fruit” –Zuni
Full Moon: July 27, 4:20 P.M.

Monday, July 23, 2018

More light

So much more light this year without the tree. So much more light I was wearing sunglasses at the dinner table and we were sweltering on the deck - so we brought in a sun umbrella for some added shade.

More sunlight in my micro-climate means more watering and weeding is required, along with new possibilities for growth.

Right now it is raining and I'm sitting inside with the sliding doors open, enjoying the green of the garden and listening to the rustle of leaves and raindrops.

White floribunda roses in a pot on the deck add a light fragrance, and so do the spicy geraniums.

I think I will try to overwinter the roses and replant in a pot again next summer, I like their understated elegance and constant flowering.

The bergamot is one of my favourite additions this year. I've planted it at the edge of the retaining wall where it is attracting hummingbirds and adding a dash of colour to the summer landscape. It also makes a heady mix with lavender and rose petals when tossed into a milk bath for a rejuvenating soak in the tub.


Blue bauble

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Screech Owls

This last week I've visited Rosetta McLain Gardens five times, checking the progress on the fledging of four screech owlets.

The park is full of photographers with long lenses, all eager to capture the birds' image. The people on the ground cluster together and point while there is a soft whirr of shutters clicking when the owls shift position.

My first visit I nabbed a fledgling with my camera phone. The fuzzy image didn't do the creature any justice, although it does capture a preternatural vibe.

There was nothing spooky about the sightings. The owlets were simply adorable with their fluffed up feathers. I watched one in the nest sticking one big foot out of the knothole, stretching it's toes, and then testing the other foot, but I didn't see it make it's first flight.

Rob returned to the park with me on my second visit and we brought Alex and Penny along last night. 

The owlets have all fledged now and are branching - testing their wings on short distances, hopping branch to branch. The adults will feed the young meals of mice and small birds until they learn to hunt. The silence of the night would be broken by the sound of other birds defending their nests and the adult owls calling to each other with their soft warbles. Humans whispered.

In twilight, the owls become more active, but they are even harder to locate. Penny was great at spotting them all up in the branches. The long lenses all clustered in a different direction, we were able to marvel in another corner of the park. Eventually the photographers picked up their sticks and followed us. The owls don't seem to mind the humans; they must think us a curious species.

taken with our pocket Sony camera (Rob)
taken with our pocket Sony camera (Rob)

Saturday, July 21, 2018


I scheduled my staycation around Yoga in the City again this year, hitting the studio in the mornings with Marlene. An hour of pranayama, then a half hour break before two hours of asana. Really feel wonderfully renewed at the end of the week. I would like to do more maha mudra, when we did it in class it seemed like something I could spend a lot more time exploring. And for the 'twenty breaths' I am taking in my regular morning practice, why not bring more bhramari breath?

Food Meals from Mark McEwan's grocery were a special treat, no cooking required in the summer heat; although I did enjoy preparing an easy meal of duck comfit one night. Tried a few new Mexican restaurants, Playa Cabana on Dupont had great cocktails and Mariachi's on Yonge added crunchy and carmelized onions to their soft tacos for extra bite and texture. Douce France was a nice end to the yoga week, sitting on the patio in a bistro chair, eating a stuffed plum, and then grabbing some Parisian delicacies to take to Kitchener to enjoy with my mom.

I ended up hanging out in my own backyard most afternoons, just loving being there, in no real hurry. Reading a book and drifting off to sleep in the sun, waking up when the book fell and hit the  deck with a clunk, finding my page and then drifting off again.  Gardening in the backyard, planting some new clematis, monarda by the pond, purple ajuga on slope, moving some shade plants into the ravine (liverwort, solomon seal), transplanting ferns and hosta. Weeding and puttering. Watering. Getting dirt under my nails.

Sailing on the first weekend enjoying the dazzle on the water. Saturday a perfect wind and Sunday anchored at the Bluffs beach. Saturday the day with Rob, Sunday hanging out with friends. Caroline swam over to the boat; Alex dinghied; Aldo hung out for a bit on the swim ladder. Then back to the dock and a lovely dinner of lemon chicken on Caroline's boat.

 Fringe Theatre Festival added three titles to my
playlist, in different venues, so in a way I did get about to explore the city. I really enjoy sampling the offerings of these dedicated amateurs. There are moments of brilliance butting up against the not-so-fine, but that is part of the adventure. So much talent! There was venue in Kensington market, the Poetry Jazz Cafe, that reminded me a bit of Small's in NYC for its dimensions; no more than twenty in the seats but fantastic show where the actors were embedded in the crowd and the audience was able to order from a menu of different emotions to start the show. The Tarragon at Dupont and Theatre Passe Murraille were other destinations. This was a reminder that there is lots going on in the city throughout the year, with readings and open rehearsals to explore works in progress.

I started my vacation on a Friday, and drove to Kitchener to visit with my mom and sister, and returned the following Friday for another visit. Squeezed in a visit with Janine, too, an old high school friend; we've recently reconnected and it is amazing how quickly we've caught up. Going back to my childhood home brings mixed emotions, especially with my mom so sick and my sister's very recent diagnosis of M.S.  But I really liked sitting in the carport surrounded by the green space; the climbing hydrangea making a wall and the scent of rambling roses and the fragrant linden trees wafting into the space.  I am so grateful she is able to be there instead of in a hospital room. Mom now has Facetime installed so we visited throughout the week.......... I took my sister out for a birthday lunch and she was able to joke about her condition, saying she plans on buying a t-shirt that says, "I'm not drunk I have M.S." The second Friday I returned with some yoga gear and taught her a few poses, hoping she will start a regular practice of her own. My brother Pat was celebrating his 49th birthday and we had a few good belly laughs together, too, as he shared evidence from the Flat Earth Society about the fiction of the visit to the moon - he actually almost has me convinced of a conspiracy.

The last day of my vacation I went to Rosetta McLain Gardens to check out a jam with some local musicians. A few people from Scarborough Uke Jam showed up, so although I left my ukulele at home, next time will bring it, along with some charts. I've been meaning to check out this park for quite some time as it is a hotspot for birders. On the way out we went by a tree with three fledgling Screech owlets, and a birder was kind enough to lend me their binoculars. What a little fluffball! Three ready to leave the nest.I got a good look at one curious bird, poking it's head out of the tree and looking around. My phone didn't do the owlet any likeness however this is about the same age and stage. Absolutely adorable.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


I loved my Henryi clematis and when it disappeared from the garden, I missed it!

I tried planting it again on the fence but it just didn't take. Henry the 1st made a brief reappearance, and then vanished altogether. 

Now I've dedicated a trellis to Henryi the 3rd  in the garden, hoping he likes his new home. A few buds on the new vine show promise for fall.

I've also found some vigorous growers for along the fence and hope these white clematis thrive. There are some for early summer flowers and late bloomers for fall.

All white, for petals in the moonlight.

Jackmani Alba:  For the fence, closest to the red Japanese maple. Flowers June to September. This is fully hardy; flowers on last year's growth. It prefers to be facing south or west; I've placed north and east, hopefully its vigorous nature will adapt nicely. Large open single or semi-double blooms. Group 2, prune light. In early spring:
  • Yr 1: Cut back all stems to 30 cm (12") 
  • Yr 2: Cut back all stems to 1 m (3')
  • Yr 3: Cut back all stems to a pair of buds
Sweet Autumn Clematis (clematis terniflora): For the fence, above the chocolate boneset, which has plumes of white in fall. Vigorous twining deciduous vine produces fragrant creamy white panicles of flowers from late August to October followed by silvery seed heads. Ideal for fences or ground cover; considered invasive by some but when properly maintained, the vine can be a well-behaved asset to the garden at a time of year when pretty much everything else has stopped blooming. Prune back to 12" from ground in late fall to keep in check. 

Henryi: Group 2 clematis; blooms in late spring/early summer and again in fall. 6' - 10'. Deciduous climber. Prune in late winter or early spring; then prune again after the first flush of flowers.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Babes AGM

Life's circumstances shortened my participation at this year's AGM from a weekend to one day (June 25), but it was definitely one fine day, despite the rain and cool temperatures.

Nicolette picked up Debra and I, and on the drive up we listened to Louise Penny's The Brutal Telling on audio. I had also just started reading the book the book Still Life, by the same author. What an interesting experience! Reading the first in series, while listening to the fifth, as Chief Inspector Gamache solves the murder while in the Quebecois village of Three Pines. The same characters had grown and changed by the fifth, their lives evolving in the not-so-quiet town.

We arrived at Nicki's and walked over the stone road, past the pond with the singing bullfrogs, around the curve and down the hill to Louise's, where we discussed the first book over brunch with mimosas, quiche, limoncello mousse, and fresh fruit. Nicki, Louise, Linda, Laura, Virginia, Nicolette, Debra, and me.

A quick trip into town and then back to Nicki's. As he has done over the years, while her husband Tim was hosting his radio show he played two different versions of "Fever," teasing us for hot and cold flashes and afternoon naps.

A rainy afternoon, while we picked the books for the coming year. A tasty meal, and then back to the car for the long drive home.

Booklist 2018-2019

Sept 5, 2018- Diane: Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

Oct 3, 2018- Nicolette: Enlightenment Now by Stephen Pinker

Nov 7, 2018- Laura: Sixty, A Diary of my Sixty first year by Ian Brown

Dec 5, 2018- Virginia: Unearthed - Love, Acceptance, and Other lessons from an Abandoned Garden by Alexandra Risen

Jan 9, 2019- Debra: The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal JourneyInto the Dark Side by James Fallon

Feb 6 2019- Pat: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

March 6 2019- Nicki: Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

April 3 2019 Liz :Republic of Love by Carol Shields

May 1 2019-Miriam: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

June 22 2019 -AGM Louise: Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn

Honourable Mentions
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Mistakes Were Made but Not by Me by Carol Tavris
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Consumption by Kevin Patterson
The World As it Is by Ben Rhodes
The Break by Katherena Vermette
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende
Stranger the Dream by Laini Taylor
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Full Strawberry Moon - June 2018

In honour of the full strawberry moon, I propose a toast with a Strawberry Pimm's Cup.

Ontario strawberries are in season! Luscious and intensely flavourful - so superior to the imported cardboard fruit trucked from afar.

- 1.5 oz of Pimm's Cup #1
- .5 oz of London Dry gin
- 2 oz of tonic or gingerale
- 1/4 cup fresh strawberries
- dash of balsalmic vinegar reduction
- ice!

*The next full moon will be overnight on Wednesday and Thursday of June 27 and June 28. That's because the full moon occurs at 12:53 a.m. EDT (0453 GMT), so depending on which time zone you live in, the full moon will be at its best late Wednesday (June 27) or in the wee hours of Thursday (June 28).Jun 4, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018


Missed a few of the lectures this year, but was also able to take in a Thursday night when Cheryl had an extra ticket to spare.
Although I hadn't read some of the books I was still able to enjoy insights into the writers' creative process or approach to their work. Many of the books I hadn't read were added to my 'must read' list. 
Next year, it is the Thursday night series!
Tuesday, Sept. 5 Alexandra Reisen: Unearthed Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden
Thursday, Sept. 14 Gary Barwin: Yiddish for Pirates
Tuesday, Oct. 24 Kevin Patterson: News From the Red Desert
Tuesday, Nov. 7 Wayne Johnston: First Snow, Last Light
Tuesday, Jan. 9 Zoe Whittall: The Best Kind of People
Tuesday, Feb. 27 Iain Reid: I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Tuesday, March 6 Janie Cheng: Dragon Springs Road
Tuesday, April 10 Rachel Cusk (Speaker Sandra Martin): Outline; Transit
Tuesday, May 8 Anosh Irani: The Parcel
Tuesday, June 5 Moshid Hamid (Speaker Suanne Kelman): Exit West

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Thank you, Andy!

Andy and I worked together 30+ years ago and would often share stories over lunch. He was 15 years older than me and was a great source of advice early in my career, and a ballast for some early turbulent days on the job.

He also introduced me to Iyengar yoga on a few of those lunches, where we went to a nearby gym and he taught me the virtues of tadasana, finding balance on the heels and balls of my feet, holding my shoulders back and lifting my chest  Those lunchtime lessons had a profound effect, and although we lost touch, when I was looking to find a yoga teacher, I sought out someone who specialized in the Iyengar method.

We bumped into each other fifteen years later at the Yoga Centre, when I went to buy some wooden yoga blocks for home practice. He was looking forward to retiring from his government job so he could go into teaching yoga full time. And when life's turns brought me back to YCT as a student, I sought out his classes. On many Thursday nights I appreciated his acerbic wit and irreverent approach, and took a few workshops with him. When he decided to retire from teaching I asked for his phone number so I could take him out for a beer.

That little slip of paper stayed in my wallet for a number of years, and I came close to calling the number but never did. At the gala this year, I asked Stephanie how he was, because I knew they kept in touch. He was not doing well. In fact, he was battling cancer and in palliative care, but was taking visitors.

When I visited him, I was happy to see the Andy I remembered - wearing a long white beard, looking for all the world like a yogi reclined in a hospital bed. We caught up with each other, and swapped stories. Patricia, his wife, in their back garden, peeked from behind an arbour and raised a glass of wine in a photo. She had died a few years before and he still missed her. He talked about travels with his nieces and nephews.

I visited a few more times. I asked him for advice about preparing for retirement, and he talked about Steven Covey and 7 Habits and how a holistic view of all dimensions of a person - physical, spiritual, intellectual, social should all be taken into account, and not to neglect those dimensions. What is work giving you, beyond the pay check, that may need to be fulfilled?

There were always visitors in Andy's room. Family, friends. I bumped into people from the yoga centre. Andy didn't complain and spoke highly of everyone at the hospital, but he did say although the food wasn't bad, it wasn't great either. He enjoyed sushi and it was often in the room or on order, and I even brought some it along once, in lieu of flowers.

Treatment continued. Weeks went by. He learned he would never have full mobility and would be paralyzed from the waist down. He tried to plan ahead for the day he would be released from palliative care, and then realized that day wouldn't come.

Jane told me on a Friday, the last day of a yoga workshop, that Andy had made the decision to end his life the following Monday. I went to visit him that afternoon. I brought an audio speaker so I could play him a Monty Python song I thought would suit his irreverent spirit - "Always look on the Bright Side of Life." He smiled when I played it, and closed his eyes and listened, and when the words of the song came to, "Always look on the bright side of death, just before you draw your terminal breath," I realized that really was Andy, an eternal optimist. I put my hand over his and said, 'thank you.'

He died of natural causes the following day, lethal injection not necessary.

His funeral was the following week. There were many of us there from the yoga studio as he taught and mentored both students and teachers. There were also his family, his neighbours, his friends, people from the train club, wood workshop buddies, and someone from the Bladder Cancer Society. People got up to speak and tell stories of the time they spent with Andy and what a difference he had made in their lives. As they spoke I came to know more aspects of his person.

He was a man of many dimensions and led a full life. For his train buddies, he had become President of their association for a number of years. For nieces and nephews, he had introduced them to travel, ideas, and good food. For neighbours, he had provided a place to come together and share stories and drinks. He had become a spokesperson and ambassador for the Bladder Cancer Society and helped inspire and support others.

I am grateful we had a chance to connect again and I was able to learn more about his world and passions.

He introduced me to Iyengar yoga, and I will always be grateful I had a chance to let him know it made such a strong and lasting impact, and to thank him in person.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Clear Sailing

What a blessed beginning to the sailing season!

Beautiful blue skies, a flat lake, and gentle winds christened the shakedown sail on May 21. Taking the helm, I felt for the wind on my face to help guide me in pointing the boat to catch the perfect puff of the sail. After a few hours sailing we anchored just off the beach to listen to the burble and murmur of the crowd.

Rushing home after work on a Tuesday night, no other boats on the lake to enjoy the crisp wind and clouds in the sky.

Sailpast - the best in years! Rob emceed and looked so handsome as he delivered his address. The sun was out for the ceremony but the cool breeze kept everyone comfortable. Strawberries and mimosas to toast the start of the season, and new docks. The BPYC fleet out through the gap and sailing around the Commodore to luff their jibs. Caroline, Laura and Wendy served up a tapas feast and Kaarina and I poured Spanish G & Ts at the cocktail bar. After years of bad weather and circumstance, this day seemed absolutely perfect in almost every detail.

When Dave and Karen visited from St. Louis Missouri we took them down to the Bluffs and the boat,  and then over to Cathedral Bluffs for dinner and a view of the lake.

Dock party! Wendy again preparing a feast, this time an Asian theme, with potstickers and rice-wraps and chicken and skewers and and... Joanne had decorated a green alcove with paper lanterns that were illustrated with sailboats and faerie lights were strung.

Four hours on the lake on a Saturday afternoon, winds taking us over 6 knots, I laid down to look at the sky and found myself drifting in and drifting out of a welcome afternoon nap, warm in the sun.

Maybe the fact we can't enjoy this all year long makes the start of the season such rapture.

Looking forward with anticipation to summer days on the lake.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Don't give up, give in

The yoga intensive this week was 6 am to 9 am, before work.

The asanas and sequences were very demanding. Strong inversions and back bends; by the end of the week, strong inverted backbends. I don't recall most of the sanskrit names, but we were: doing chataranga dondasana to upward dog; camel (ustrasana); moving from headstand to a half camel; dropping back from shoulder stand to a backbend; moving from uttanasana to revolve with one leg in the air.

Some of the poses were demonstrated first and I wondered if they were in my range of possibility. We often worked with partners and ran through a number of attempts. I was grateful for partner support and surprised that by the second or third attempt, I could  do with minimal help.

Holding for long periods, I tend to rely on determination and sheer stubbornness.  Marlene has used the phrase "Don't give up, give in," many times; this week I felt more than once that I was passing through a wall and simply giving in. Euphoria? Endorphins? Sudden effortless effort.

Thursday night a massage and Friday I took a holiday, visiting the Toronto Botanical Gardens and then visiting a friend in palliative care. I couldn't help but think about how very briefly a flower blooms, a season lasts, our lives are lived. Moments ephemeral and eternal.

Don't give up, give in.

illustration: - Yoga Pose Paint Splatter One by Dan Sproul