Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sprouting Grass Moon - April 2018

I looked up in the sky on the way home tonight and the moon was almost full. 

... coming home from a fundraiser combined with birthday celebration for Marlene, turning 80 this year. The studio was transformed! Tables and linens, candles, wine, and all these people I have seen for years in yoga tights wearing fancy duds. A very special evening. Several of us ending up dancing to the band, a clarinet and accordion duo. How wonderful, how improbable, how unexpected. 

The April full moon is typically known as the Full Pink Moon or the full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and the Fish Moon.

The moon is officially full April 29, 8:58 pm

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Dramatic changes

After midnight, the night of the ice storm, I looked up through the skylight expecting to see the branches of the tree swaying in the wind, and there was - nothing. It didn't make sense. "Rob, the tree's not there?!"  "It's in the ravine. It fell across the deck and took down the fence."

The next morning I surveyed the damage. It could have been worse. Thankfully we tended to the most precarious limbs last spring, so there was no tree-fall our house. I did want to remove more of the tree at the time, but the arborist said they could only trim 30% due to city by-laws. We love our Toronto trees and require permits and inspections in ravine backyards due to urban forest regulations. We'll even need to apply and pay a permit fee to have what's left of the tree removed. While I think this is a bit excessive, I do appreciate living in "the city that's in a park."

We're now sorting out details with the city, neighbour and insurance companies. 

This spring and summer I will be keeping an eye on my shade-loving natives, whose habitat has suddenly shifted. Shady corners still abound so there will be lots of transplanting this season.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Easter celebration

A couple of Sundays ago my family gathered together on Easter.

This is the first time in years my mom and brothers and sisters celebrated on the actual holiday. And it was even more special as my mom has beaten the doctors' first prognosis.

Back in November she was told she had an aggressive form of lung cancer that, left untreated, could mean she had as little as eight weeks' time remaining.

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

Thankfully two of my brothers live with my mother, and my sister is just around the corner, so family is close by. I visit when I can and call to check in almost every day.

My mom chose Expected Death in the Home, or EDITH, as the local health integrated network describes it. She signed the 'do not resuscitate' instructions and a binder was left at the house with guidelines explaining not to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

After two courses of chemo and some strong antibiotics for an infection, she is so much better! She has even been able to drive herself to church a few times, but mostly, the priest and celebrants come to her with communion.

We celebrated Christmas in early December, anticipating she may not have been well enough by the end of the month. Then we celebrated again on Christmas day. And again in January, arranging a party for her 79th birthday. On the eve of her birthday celebration we raised our glasses and made a toast to life.

And here we are, toasting again months later. Easter. Life and rebirth. Spring. Being together and just being, together.

All the siblings brought dishes to the Easter feast. Something for the afternoon groaning board and something for the evening dinner. One of the dishes I made in honour of the occasion was pickled eggs, dyed red by vinegar and cabbage; sliced open they made a colourful sunrise. Bacon-wrapped asparagus was perfect for the buffet, pre-portioned packets easy to serve. Others brought turkey, potatoes, salad, bread, desserts. A communal meal.

My mom has a voracious appetite and enjoyed her food, sampling most everything and savouring each morsel. Eating is one of the true pleasures of life, with family meals reflective of our lives. Holiday meals with family don't always come together the way we hope, but this meal was more than I'd hoped for; one of life's blessings.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Canada Reads

Normally people offer two selections at the Book Babes AGM. Last June my 'picks' were Canada Reads and the book lovers good-naturedly went along with the approach. We each agreed to read one book on the list and share our impressions when it was my turn to host, come April.

Titles and defenders were announced January 30, 2018:

With a few months to go, my intentions were to read them all, and in bleak February I bought the book Precious Cargo, looking for an uplifting feel-good-funny read. The other titles seemed so serious and heavy, I would get to them later.

Mid-March, I found myself waiting in line with Virginia and Debra, to get into the CBC studio for Day 2 of the debates. I still hadn't read the other books but had a feeling Precious Cargo wouldn't fair well against the other heavyweight subjects. Speculation with strangers only reinforced the feeling.

Forgiveness was waitlisted for me at the library, with several hundred names ahead of me. I knew it was a strong contender, and hearing Jeanne Beker defend it so passionately I figured that by the end of the week it would emerge the winner. Still, I was rooting for Precious Cargo.

By the end of Day 2, Precious Cargo had been voted off, with Beker casting the deciding vote, saying it "just didn't have the gravitas of the other titles."

Why did most of the choices for Canada Reads seem like cod-liver oil, meaning that they might not taste very good, but would be good for you?  Does a book have to be 'heavy' to be great? Did one of the precious cargo kids have to be raped or die of a rare disease for the book to be worthy of a win?

At book club, I wondered this aloud. Nicolette and Debra echoed my view, however Nicki had read both Precious Cargo and Forgiveness and said the latter was simply better written. Mid-April, and I'm still on the waiting list.

Miriam had read The Marrow Thieves, Pat and Virginia chose American War. The only title that didn't get read by our group was The Boat People, which had actually been voted off the very first day. Virginia and Pat said enough to convince me to put American War on my reading list. 

Precious Cargo may have been voted off early in the game, but its sales have soared. Getting short-listed by this annual book battle boosts conversations between book lovers, overall readership and awareness of the authors and books, so there really are no losers.