Dec 5th: We had another visit from couchsurfer Alexis from Vancouver, who was visiting Robin McKim at Marilyn house, and stumbled over our names in their guestbook.  He was surprised to discover that we know Marilyn, Andy and Robin McKim so well, and we were surprised to learn that he's been friends with Robin since they met in Australia; apparently they've bumped into each other serendipitously in four different cities around the globe...fascinating co-incidence. 
      Deb lunched with Rocio from Lima, we attended Moe Scott's book launch, and we had wine and cheese with Pat and Clare. 
      We performed a jazz choir mini-concert at the Starbucks with the fireplace at Waverley and Queen, which was enthusiastically delivered and received.  I did a bucket mute trumpet solo in the middle of Blue Skies, and Laura did a scat solo right afterward.  That was a fun event! 
      The HYC guitar circle is up and running and they have a good beginning set of tunes printed in booklets; I see a schism forming already along the lines of acoustic vs electric, but even more so because of differing tastes in music: country/folk western vs more modern rock tunes.  Maybe in time they might have to set up two separate nights, one for electric rock and the other for acoustic folk, pop and C&W.
      We had some hiccups with the new little Acer mini-laptop, returned the first one for exchange although I realized afterward that I might have solved its problems with Windows updates; I did overcome a problem with the operating system of the second one and also sped it up by doing that, and by dumping all the junk software that comes with the laptop, and removing programs from start-up.  The door-crasher sale price was certainly okay, though, and it works, for our needs, much better than the Playbook did.
      Other than those events, we're just watching the days shorten and grow colder, as our sports and musical activities all grind slowly to a halt for the season and our friends are beginning to prepare for their weeks of Christmas and New Year celebration with their families.

Nov 26th.  In the last two weeks it has been warm enough to play tennis until just the past two days.  Now it has turned cold, hitting minus digits overnight, although still 5 or 6 degree highs during the days.  That puts a crimp in tennis, but all our musical pursuits continue. 
     Lis came to check out the Tuesday jazz choir, which delighted me.  We made a new Chinese Peruvian friend named Rocio who is a vivacious, loquacious personality, great for keeping up her end of the conversation with Deb. 
     The main event for this week was Sol's 90th anniversary, which we held at the yacht club.  He blew away the clubmembers sitting in the Sailor's Lounge down on the main floor, when he danced down the staircase asking them for the broom so he could help us clean up after the party; no-one would believe this nimble, flirtatious, bowling maniac is ninety. 
      Deb's sister Judi drove down from Montreal with her sons Matthew and Michael, and they stayed overnight.  I hadn't seen them in ten years, so it was good to see how they'd grown.  They're a couple of fine young men, now.  There were lots of interesting people at the party, too - new ones, and some I hadn't seen for a very long time: Deb's cousins Nathan and Barry, and Gordie, Melissa and Brendon and their spouses and children, to name a few.  We pulled down the dart boards and had some fevered competition, and we stood on the deck in the cold wind and threw sandwich bread to the ducks, which delighted the little boys.  The winter ducks have arrived in Toronto, and the first I've seen are the Buffleheads, who have arrived in their best dress tuxedos.  There were eight of them in front of the clubhouse, but they never come close enough to humans to enjoy our bread offerings.  We had three spectacularly coloured Mallards with glossy green heads that came right up to participate in Communion, and then eventually an army of seagulls, of course.  We have resident swans, but they didn't attend the party.

Nov 13th.  The boats are both tarped, the plants are cut back and transplanting is finished in the garden; looking forward to seeing how it all comes up in the spring.  I had a pleasant tennis game on Friday, and it was 16 degrees over the weekend, but now it has cooled off and dips to zero overnight.  We made the most of the weather by gardening, doing our neighbour Marg's eaves for her, winterizing the outboards, etc. 
    We had Ian and Ursula over for
dinner on Friday, and attended the Commodore's Ball on Saturday evening, where we watched all our racers accept their awards and trophies - including Mike Bauer, who I introduced to sailing a decade ago.  He entered the Ontario 300 (mile race) as a newbie in his own boat this summer, and came first in his division.  His cup was as big as the Stanley Cup. 
    On Sunday afternoon we attended Silken's concert at the Telus Koerner Hall.  This was a bit disappointing because I thought I was going to hear her Madrigal Singers, but they massed four different university choirs and then added the Latvian Radio Choir, who dominated the program with their "modern" choral music.  They are renowned, but not by me ("to" me?); I think the guy who designed the program should be taken out and shot.  It always puzzles me that composers who spark no interest in the public at large and have faded away from consciousness since they created a short-lived media splash sixty years ago are still fed to concert-goers as "contemporary".  There were just three pieces that were okay, one even approached "thrilling", but that was the finale piece with massed choirs.  I do enjoy what these writers have to say about one of the composers, John Cage (ignore the content warning on the home page; just click on "I understand and wish to continue").  Good for an irreverent giggle.  Speaks to me about all of the featured composers, including the only two still living, who were present for the performance last night; one in his unkempt hair, Pee Wee Herman jacket and bright yellow pants, the other in her oh-so-Bohemian plaid skirt and boots.  Mind you, the serious Wikipedia entry about John Cage isn't much more assuring - he admits he has "no feeling for harmony", and his teacher Schoenberg describes him as "not a composer", but an inventor.  Supposedly a genius, and not just a bore who exploited unconventionality to its extreme, but that doesn't satisfy a man who has bought expensive fifth row tickets to a concert to hear actual music with melody, emotion, drama, a story, and soaring vocal harmonies.
    I spent some time reflecting on the flat, joyless faces of the choirs; their vocal and choral technique was certainly close enough to call perfect but their expressions ranged from vacuous to depressed; I couldn't help wondering if any of them listened to these songs on their iPods.  We did get to spend about sixty seconds with Silken in the hallway after the concert however, which was a pleasant, if brief, reconnection.  And she also sang extremely well, of course...
    Lara leaves for Vancouver tomorrow, to workshop a play; she's been very busy auditioning during her final days in Toronto - maybe she hopes to come back.  It's pleasant having her around.  The guitar circle at HYC is going well - a little too electrified last night, so we've decided to go completely "unplugged" next week.  And the jazz choirs are both still fun.  This is our repertoire for the salon on the 27th - I'll be playing the trumpet solo in Blue Skies:
The Nearness of You - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkyZdTFmACM
Blue Skies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9vbVR1eEZE
In the Mood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fMMzE_jzDI
Fly Me to the Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvjWJRJM8lY&feature=related
My Funny Valentine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saFJXLmlwos&feature=related
or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLhvKithr3s&feature=related
Slap That Bass by Larry Shackley; hopefully it'll be close to this one, one of the best ever recorded in my opinion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRo2Htl73bc

Nov 7th.  We got our travel vaccines, and we started up with the Tuesday jazz choir.  It's quite nice, well organized, and I have a trumpet solo already assigned; we'll have a "salon" at the Record Vault on the 27th. 
I'm singing tenor, though, which is - at least on one song - quite a long, sustained strain on my vocal chords. 
We did a temporary repair of the shingles on our shed roof; next summer I'll have to do a proper reshingling.  The shingles are getting really old, curled and brittle.
Deborah went to Montreal for the weekend with Sol and Marcy, and attended Luch's funeral.  Lara moved in here on Saturday for ten days.  I had meetings with Connie and Banuji about tennis house league for next year, with Chris about rebuilding the HYC website, and met Alan Harman re the Alma Foundation chores he wants done in Peru plus a discussion of the suitability of his Scotia McLeod socially responsible investing portfolio for AMSF. 
Started my Movember moustache a week ago.  Got a laptop from Lara that she was going to toss out, and cleaned it up; runs pretty well.  And we started up a guitar circle at HYC.  The first night was fun, exploratory; I'll try to get some organization happening next.

Oct 28th: Haul-out today.  We drove down to the club as soon as it was light, saved a Canada goose that was all wrapped up in fishing line with the lure in his crop, got him picked up and taken away by Wildlife.
Awelyn/No Egrets came out quick, slick and vertical and settled p
erfectly into the cradle - important at $30/minute for crane time. Then I helped a few other boaters while I waited to begin my second shift, and Deb ran home to get me some cough drops, parked on the bridge in an emergency vehicle lane to run in to me with them, and got a $250 ticket...expensive cough drops. And then the crew chief tells me, "Well, I've got several spare guys...why don't you come back in two hours and spell one of the other guys off then". Yeesh.  What a day.

I did my cold, wet shift on the docks yesterday starting at first light, putting on slings while the rain dripped into my shoes, until the crane blew a hydraulic hose at 11 a.m. and I sat for two hours until my shift was finally over. The day before, Deb and I dropped the mast on Tiger Moth - I'd spend several days doing the woodwork and washing it, taking photos to build a web page to advertise it in the spring.
My 60th birthday was on the 9th, but we didn't celebrate; Deborah says she's taking me to Ecuador and Peru for my birthday.  I got home late from driving cancer patients to treatment - doctor's appointments get backed up, radiation machines go down and need servicing in the middle of the day, etc.  By the time I got home I was no longer keen enough to go out for a free birthday meal.
Another evening, though, we had dinner with Laurence and Joan, and lunch again the next day - they brought over stuff we'd forgotten to serve, and we ate it at our house.  We met another couple at dinner, CBC alumni, and talked about our Peruvian travel this winter.  We've finally got the dates and flights and costs nailed down, and will purchase our tickets tomorrow.
The jazz choir is going well and the Beaches Jam group is now the RV All-Stars, meeting at the Record Vault beside the Beacher Café.  Last Thursday Rebecca Jenkins wandered into the store with her Mom and sister when they heard us from the street; they stayed for a half-hour, and sang Summertime for us; Rebecca did a harmony to her sister's lead, and I improvised a third harmony.
We continue to prep the garden slowly for winter - next job is to turn the soil while it is still soft and wet.  And we have to rush to clean our eaves and fill carboys with water tomorrow, because "Frankenstorm" is coming - Hurricane Sandy, which will meet the cold front we having sitting on us right now, and all hell will break loose, meteorilogically speaking.  We're expecting up to ten centimetres of rain (= another flood in the basement), downed trees and power lines.  Time to "batten down the hatches".

Oct 8th:
This weekend we had two couchsurfers, Alexis from Paris via Vancouver, and a former host of ours in Australia two years ago, Ben Holland, who is riding his Kawasaki across Canada - his third major bike ride through N. America. Last night's dinner was a Thanksgiving theme, four at the table: Deb's turkey soup from last weekend's turkey, the biggest, handsomest squash from the garden, and pumpkin pie. Neither of our guests had had pumpkin pie before.
The previous night's dinner and breakfast yesterday morning were savoury and sweet crêpes made by Alexis. It's turned really cold here for a few days, but we've been stuffed and content, telling travel stories, laughing about connections and disconnections between French vs Quebecois, and English...getting sleepy from overeating.
This week coming I'll be
cancer driving on Tuesday, the BBNC Christmas charity organization starts its operations for this season, I have to layout and publish a newsletter for the yacht club, get the boat ready for haul-out before it gets too cold - gotta get the mast off before they put out the cradles in the parking lot - and finish the woodwork and trailer painting I want to get done on the smaller sailboat in the driveway; and our usual round of jazz choir, ukulele jam, guitar circle, and socializing with friends, including a Peruvian theme dinner this coming Friday, where one of the guests will give us more info on our winter destination.  And I'll try to get a free dinner for my birthday on Tuesday from one of the restaurants that continues to keep that old tradition.


Oct 1st: The rest of September was very busy.  We had yacht club and tennis club elections and AGMs, an "unbirthday" dinner with Deb's Dad Sol (he'll soon be 90, I'll soon be 60), and also her brother Geoff, nephew Joseph, and her Dad's girlfriend Marcy. The kittens are growing, but still just over 700 grams, mostly, today; we figure they were younger than the Humane Society was told when they were turned in. They may need to be here for more than two weeks.  The rest of our time has been spent painting (back door, side and front door sills), doing boat woodwork and washing, and final sailing before haul-out, and harvesting our garden; soon we'll begin turning over the soil for winter, but we won't turn most of it until we get our first frost before November, so we'll have another month of flowers (cana lilies and chrysanthemums), and tomatoes, raspberries, swiss chard, arugula, etc., before that happens.  Another couchsurfer will come for three days this weekend, and we expect him to make crepes for us. We've been back to  jazz choir, and have been back once to the ukulele jam, but missed a couple of special performance and "theme" nights; and I'll be going to the living room jam this week, which has now moved to a room at the back of the Beacher Café.  The labrynthitis continues but isn't keeping me off my feet; I've played some long, hard tennis games with Don Davies and Jim Sawada.

Sept 21st: I appear to be suffering from "labrynthitis", so called because it affects the labrynth of passages of the inner ear.  There's no pain, but it makes you walk around like a dizzy drunk, with a touch of nausea from the dizziness.  Probably viral, and should be gone in a week, but it's an interesting ailment for me that I've never had before.
Other than that, there hasn't been much that's new in the past two weeks; more of a return to the familiar routine.  Tennis continues, with Frostbite League until the end of October; the jazz choir has met again for the first time, and I took Lis to meet our friend Sheila, the conductor of our jazz choir, for some vocal coaching - Lis is auditioning for a part in a community theatre musical tomorrow.  Our attendance at the ukulele jam is a bit sporadic, mostly because it is too popular and we have to arrive awfully early just to get a seat where we can see the screen; but it is usually lots of fun when we go - somehow it's just more fun playing and singing in a group than it is at home alone, even if you get more personally focussed skill development out of working alone. 
We got to see Lara this week, and fed her our special cherry tomato/basil/chopped walnut/chopped olives salad.  We had a couple of couchsurfers from Belgium and France, and took them sailing for a morning.  I'm back to driving cancer patients one day a week, usually to the Odette Cancer Centre.  We held a garage sale that went surprisingly well for a fall Saturday.  And we're actively communicating with people in Ecuador and Peru, and a friend who winters in S.E. Asia, to plan and decide where we'll escape to for the coldest months of winter.
The next few weeks will be spent continuing those activities while squeezing in some sailing days, and then preparing the sailboat for haul-out, as well as having get-togethers with as many close friends as possible while the weather is still lovely.

Sept 5th: a week of decompressing, and getting back into the swing of things here at home.  Many of our friends have returned to school this week.  We've been to the ukulele jam and an all-morning workshop called Ukulele Campuccino where the workshop leader served us capuccinos during the breaks.  This evening we'll go to a uke jam "theme night" - the Beatles.  Dozens of performers are clamouring to solo their favourite Beatles songs at the open mic. 
I played my last evening of house league tennis, a four hour round robin stretch - boy, was I sore the next day. 
We took our friend and neighbour Marg out for a sail. 
Deb and I are researching our winter travel - our destination is beginning to look like Ecuador, actually, which is a surprise for me, but the more we look into it, the more attractive it seems.  There are Helpx and Couchsurfing hosts who seem very friendly; and tourist accommodation and food costs are not too high in Ecuador. 
We'll hold a garage sale this Saturday and try to move more stuff out of our basement; over the summer, we've had a steady stream of buyers for items we've posted on Craigslist and Kijiji.  The next step is to build a web page to sell Tiger Moth, then maybe Awelyn, and then maybe our house...
We will host two couchsurfers for the weekend, a couple from Belgium and France who are touring Canada in a rental car.
Deb's latest recipe is a cherry tomato, basil, chopped walnuts and olive oil salad...delicious.  Cherry tomatoes and basil from our garden, of course.  And I've prepared my garden plan for next year - fewer tomatoes, more beans, eggplant, okra, and a new flower bed in the front for our hydrangea, German irises and some very tall, multi-coloured cosmos flowers that we've seen in the neighbourhood which bloom at this time of year and seem to do very well.  The blossoms last more than a month.  The only other blossoms we're still waiting for in our garden are two of the mums, which seem to bloom at the tail end of summer; which isn't terrible, because we've done well at having our perennials timed so that there's something fresh happening every month of the spring and summer.

Aug 27th:  Whew!  What a whirlwind month.  We drove from Edmonton to Osoyoos for Kenton's and Sarah's wedding - two days of driving with three days of being there in between.  Two of those nights were in a great bed'n'breakfast that Peter's Roni set up before they split up.  It was a great wedding, but the photos we took are shared with family in our private Facebook group, and on our hard drive.  We'll back them up and save them, but no point posting them here.  Same with the next set, of Lis' and Ryan's wedding in Nestleton, for which six of my family flew in from Edmonton and Vancouver.  Five of them slept here on my main floor - we didn't even set up our air bed and frame, because Heather and Ed brought their own air mattresses.  Between those and the couch, and Mom and Dianne sharing the double futon, everyone seemed very comfortable.  That's a record: 7 of us in this tiny cottage, and except for having a galley kitchen and one bathroom, we were comfortable - even all sat around the same table at once.  We could have put a couple of extra people in the basement, or in tents on the lawn, but it wasn't necessary.  We saw Rob and Cynthia and met many new people on Ryan's side of the family - his Dad Ian and Mom Wendy, grandparents Pat and Sheenia (sp?); and many people related to Lis through her mother Linda.  We met Jennifer and Kevin's Morgyn, and Owen, Shawn and Finton, and I played guitar with Aiden who sang to the crowd on the patio, along with Andy, a newfie relative of Linda's who had a fiddle and a very nice sounding guitar that I got to play. 
We saw Mom's brother Robert, and we got to take Mom, Dianne, Ed and Heather out for a sail on No Egrets, with a great BBQ picnic lunch at the club afterward.
Now we're going to rest and get back to our normal routine of tennis, music, and lots of sailing through September and October.  We'll gradually put the garden to bed for the winter, turning over the soil as the plants each get to the end of their production days, and setting up our compost pile for the winter, ready to lay down before we plant again next spring.  We're already planning which plants we'll put in, and where - less of this, more of that...and I'll extend the garden and create more new beds up front, as well.  Next year we might want to show the house, so we'll make sure it looks its best.  And I'll get the sailboats both spruced up and advertise them to be sold in the spring, too...we'll keep whichever one doesn't sell first for next season's sailing, I guess.

Aug 14th: Into my third day of dismantling my Dad's "Angolan" greenhouses.  I call them that because they were built of scraps of wood, plastic, metal and cast off windows - very third-world.  I'm filling my third bucket of screws.  It's like peeling layers of an onion - the main greenhouse was double-walled with styrofoam sheets between the walls for insulation.  Originally it had transparent roof panels that could be opened to reduce the heat inside and to improve ventilation to keep mold-inducing moisture down, but something - perhaps summer storms that threatened to tear them off - persuaded him to pile even more heavy windows and some metal bars on top of those, instead.
I'm sure that if he was watching as I chipped away at his construction, he must have chuckled; I'd once asked him how he was going to deal with all of his office and garden accummulation, at which he responded, "why, that'll be your problem, won't it?"  I couldn't be too annoyed at my task, though - my work dealing with his aftermath, after all, is "payback", "squaresies"...for all the pet cages (and Cleo's dog pen) that he'd constructed for us kids over the years.
The rest of my time is spent visiting siblings and friends, and reading some of the Angola library in Dad's office, which we'll have to get around to sanding and painting once the greenhouse situation is squared away.

Deep Thoughts, Aug 10th:  Rob recently asked me what my "faith" consisted of.  He might have meant, rather, "What do you believe in", but I did explain my "faith" to him in words that I think I'll record here as well, for future reference...that being what a diary is for: 

My faith is completely mysterious and unfathomable to most "believers".  It doesn't hinge on a personified God, or someone in the sky I can beg favours from, for myself or anyone else.  I believe in the knowable- eventually - but still unfathomable universe, possibly parallel universes, evolution for sure, and the gradual evolution of human knowledge, which is a form of cultural evolution that happens a million times faster than physical evolution but is leap-frogging humans into a form of species immortality if we handle it right -  glasses for improved eyesight, cars to replace legs, rifles to replace stones, factories to replace our hands and make useful new things with unimaginable quantity and speed. And of course, medicine.
We humans are the only ones left of several hominid cousins that went extinct, and we almost experienced species extinction ourselves five times - at one point we were down to only two thousand humans left in the entire world.  One group of us escaped from Africa, then there was an ice age that shut off the continent from the rest of the world, then it melted enough to let out another group, who passed through a land in Saudi Arabia near the coast of the Red Sea that they referred to as the Garden of Eden.  All those legends remain in various retold forms in the Bible and other places.  And all the other Bible stories, including most of those told about Jesus, existed in previous religions of Mithra and others.  The documentary Zeitgeist describes many examples.
So basically, all religions as far as I can see just tell and retell stories that make them feel good and function just like the creation stories of African tribes.  Doesn't make it wrong or bad...it's what we do, as humans, and it seems to be important to our psychological and social survival.  I'm fascinated by it all, a little above it, to be honest, and still open to continue to learn more about what people believe and why.  As for myself, I simply feel that there's a giant curtain between us and the afterworld, I can't pretend to see beyond it even well enough to be sure that the afterworld exists, or what form it might take...and it doesn't bother me.  The world I live in right now has been enough for me, and I'm awfully pleased and grateful for the experience.  If there's more afterward, that's just pure icing.

If I was a Muslim, I'd be a Sufi, even though they are derided by all other Muslims.

If I lived in miserable poverty in Pakistan and my only school was the Madrasa, and my neighbour would certainly kill me if I looked any further than his daughter's comely eyes (if I could even see them through the burkha), I'd demand my afterlife and my 72 virgins.

In Scotland a hundred years ago the miserable cold cottage and tough life of a coal miner, stone cutter or weaver of stockings would make stories of heaven seem awfully attractive, and missionary service in "the white man's grave" would seem worth the heavenly reward.  However, that very Protestant religious tradition continued for two hundred years and included an army of men and women from the New World as well, a great outpouring of sacrifice and sharing that sprung from their faith even when they were giving up lives of great comfort and security.  I don't share their Bible-based belief system, but I share their desire for honesty and universal justice and well-being; that might have been inculcated in me by my parents and society, I suppose, but I'm a humanist rather than a church-going believer.

I've had such a rich, adventurous, comfortable, sunshine-filled, visual, musical, sensual life that heaven can wait, as far as I'm concerned.  I can't imagine a place more lovely - if you pick and choose carefully and make the right choices at this marvelous buffet - than the world I'm living in right now.  I've had my heartaches and moments of guilt, shame or terror, and physical aches and pains (more numerous with age); but still, if this turns out to be all there ever was, it's been pretty mind-blowing.

Aug 4th - 6th: The overnight at Pat and Clare's up in the Muskokas was pleasant.  No music happened, but we met all of Pat's eight siblings, the Wilbur Gang, who had gathered for the occasion.  On Sunday evening we attended the Curry Invitational at the club - Deb made Ghanaian stew and added curry for a tasty new culinary invention. 
I began reading Angola Torchbearers by Maria Chela Chikueka; it's a good, fast read, and she
reminded me once again of the enormous load of work that Grandpa Sid accomplished during his years after WWII, as well as the whole history of Protestant missions in Angola.  That's a forgotten corner of rich, dramatic history with tremendous story potential.  I wish I'd read it earlier, but it's one of the stack of books that was waiting for my retirement.  I'm halfway through it already, and it is a pretty thick book.
We had a mid-week BBQ and music night with Don and Jacqueline Davies; did my cancer driving day, and went to the Corktown Ukulele Jam where I paid $8 for a glass of cider - sticker shock!  I'm glad I make my own ginger-and-lime beer for pennies a glass. 
We reconnected with our old friend Andrew Chung,  the gifted trumpeter and conductor, who has been accepted to teacher's college in September; did yard work at Rod's house while he is in Spain, studied mandolin on Youtube, and joined Ian and Ursula for their regular Friday Sausage Night event.  Blanca and Steve were there and we met Steve's "intended", Sarah, a vivacious young Scottish teacher who comes from the same neighbourhood as our ancestors - she had just picked up a new puppy from Lesmahagow within the last few weeks, in fact.
Now the weekend is upon us.  Carribana has exploded into happy colour and music in downtown Toronto (lots of views on Youtube and other video sources) - Mas Euphoria, it has been called, a great pun hinging on the mas bands and enormous floats reminiscent of Carnival in Rio - but I have taken on fourteen hours of OD duty at the club, instead. 
At odd moments down at the club, and in the evenings at home, we catch the highlights of Canada's Olympic showing in London, England.  Chris and Jennifer will join us there for a BBQ picnic, but there's a small craft warning so we won't be sailing today.  We'll transpose some songs for Chris, who plays guitar at the Thursday evening jam; his day job is Webmaster for the Toronto Humane Society.  Jennifer is a costumer for the theatre, currently based in Picton.  She also plays piano, and Chris recently bought her a keyboard. 
The weather has been stinking hot and humid until it broke a bit overnight, and we have some intermittent showers today with stretches of sunshine.  The drought on the continent has been compared to the one that led into the Great Depression, and there are many other eery economic similarities to that time.  In Toronto the drought has manifested as a prolonged heat wave, and most of the rain we've got comes in severe and sudden storms that result in fast run-off and soggy basements instead of a slow, gentle rain that soaks properly into the ground.  My success in the garden came from soil amendment, and daily watering with soaker hose
running under landscaping plastic that eliminates most of the weeds and sharply reduces water loss from evaporation and heat-baked soil. 
Straw is not a good mulch - not even for strawberries, I've decided; large grassy weeds seem to grow up right through it.  Wood chips might be better, but hard to obtain around here, expensive to buy by the bag, and I'm worried about creating an extra chore for myself when I want to lift the chips to amend the soil again later.  Black landscaping plastic is perforated for air and rainwater to pass through, it's cheap, readily available, and can be rolled up and trashed afterward - although I'm going to try to use it for more than one season.  Deborah says it is biodegradable, which eliminates one further concern I had about the stuff. 
Aug 6th: Just finished a huge unwelcome surprise chore: the city is replacing the water mains, and warned us that they might have to dig up my front bed of peony bush, tiger and stella d'oro lilies, canas, hostas, etc - right in the middle of our trip west.  They couldn't tell us for sure whether we had the requisite 3/4" water supply pipe already, and wouldn't know themselves until they opened up the mains under the road.  They'd reach our home on about the 16th.  So to be on the safe side, we had to enlarge the front bed in a different direction, and transplant many of those plants now, before they showed up to make a mess of the flower bed and front lawn.  That took a good few hours today.
Deborah can't cook fast enough to keep up with the produce we're getting, especially the tomatoes.  We're giving them to neighbours and friends, but we're also enjoying them every day ourselves: this morning's breakfast was salmon quiche with a salsa of tomato freshly plucked from the vine and sprinkled with green jalapeño sauce.  You could add a little grated ginger, chopped green onion, possibly a squeeze of lemon...but none of these are really necessary.  Yum...good to have a wife whose chief hobby is cooking, and a great kitchen garden. 
With global warming and the strange weather we've been having, I wonder what the future will bring.  A good little market garden along the lakefront for a constant, ready source of sweet water, with municipal water pressure if possible, seems like an ideal place on the globe to be.  I'm gradually extending my kitchen garden to take over more and more of the sunniest area of my back lawn (after all, we don't play soccer or croquet there, in fact we don't do anything with the darn lawn except continually mow it. )
This place is the same latitude as Rome, Italy, and has a very high average of sunshine hours and days. 
As the heat increases and the growing season extends, Rob's property seems perfect in several ways, and has made me wonder if I could locate one to buy that is quite similar, but closer to the services and attractions of the GTA, and if possible connected to the city's water and electrical supply.  That would also be better situated if one grew too much to eat and wanted to market the rest, even if just in a road-side stand, or trade it with growers of other fruit and veggies, fresh eggs...I could even see swapping some of my fresh tomatoes for a meal in a local curry shop, for example.  You could be on the grid and enjoy its benefits as long as they last, but successfully independent of the grid if it ever fails.  Beats the scary photos I've seen this summer of the dustbowl in the midwest.  And I'd be able to keep my sailboat at hand, do a little fishing, maybe even fish-farming.  I've seen great circular protein self-sufficiency ideas that include kitchen gardens, chickens and their manure, tilapia, etc.  Hmm...

July 27th:  Great week:  went sailing with Don and his grandkids, Jack and Mary.  Sold the sailing dinghy to Amos and his son Neil, a young man of about eleven who didn't say a word but beamed from ear to ear when he sat in the dinghy and Don took him for his first ride.  Karen Yan, a couchsurfer from Buffalo, stayed with us for two nights and we went sailing, had a good meal and a good visit together; she's talked us into visiting another host in Chautauqua soon, another retired teacher. 
Rod left for Spain, and on Thursday
Don came over and we raised the mast on Tiger Moth so I can begin to clean it and spruce it up, and probably offer it for sale.  That evening I went with Deborah to the Corktown Ukulele Jam, and had a blast - about 150 people playing and singing along to a screen at the front of the room, and a handful going to the open mic to perform. 
Yesterday we went to the home of Bill and Jan from our jazz choir, who live about four houses south of Queen Street, a short drive from our house.  We had a few drinks and snacks there, and then walked Queen Street for a couple of hours enjoying the Beaches Jazz Festival, an annual celebration (24th annual, this year) that spans at least thirty blocks and about sixty bands playing on the street which is closed to traffic to create a pedestrian mall.  We stood six feet away from  top musicians like Johannes Linstead and our old friend Mike Hawker (who we hadn't seen for a donkey's age), and many other bands playing jazz, latin, fusion, blues, rock, a 24 piece Salsa Squad, big bands and swing bands.
We've had tons of rain, the grass is greening and growing again; soon I'll have to break out the lawnmower once more.  Great for the produce and flowers, though; the tomatoes have come on thick and fast, we eat them every day and share them with friends every chance we get, along with eggplant, beans, swiss chard and zucchini.  The Greek "Bifsteak" plants have been a resounding success.  Deb's been making a delicious ratatouille. 
Today we'll have dinner with Sol and Marcy, and tomorrow we'll go to Uffington overnight for Pat and Clare's 40th Wedding Anniversary party: lots of guitar and fiddle music and great food in their lovely huge "cottage".  Definitely a week to commit to the diary, and look back on fondly.

July 18th: Deep thought for this week - I've noticed that there may be a disconnect between what I think I want to do and what I really want to do, evidenced by how I actually spend my time.  I think that I want to sail, to spend time being a sailor, yet for months my focus has been on anything but sailing - doing music, volunteer work, selling off belongings, monitoring investments, dealing with tennis club issues, staying connected with family, and gardening.  Is it possible that we know ourselves and what we really want far less than we think we do?  And that we have a self-image that is at odds with what really contents us? Perhaps the urge to sail is wrapped up in a desire for blissful escape from the noise of these other activities, yet the other activities are what actually give me a constant sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Still, it's been awfully hot, and some days there's been little wind; maybe during the second half of the summer the lake will turn out to be more inviting.  Sailing in September on Lake Ontario has always been lovely.
5 p.m., same day: heh, heh...or lol, as the kids would text these days...wrote the above, then immediately got a call from Don, and spent the entire afternoon out on the lake browning my forearms.

This evening Deborah is trying something new: she's gone to a "ukulele jam".  Apparently they'll put the chords and lyrics to a song on a screen at the front of the room, and they'll play it together.  I'd love to do that with a guitar group.  I betcha she'll have a few songs to perform for us at our next family camp-out.

July 17th: we endured a heat record today - 36.4 Celcius, which is 97.54 Fahrenheit.  As night fell, so did the temperature, two degrees every hour all the way down to a 22 degree low by one a.m.  I sat naked to the waist on the Muskoka bench under our tiny grove of four cedar trees, feeling secure and private inside our front hedge while observing our pleasant street of houses and lush trees gradually becoming an ink and watercolour night scene.  The wind raced past my arms and shoulders, chasing the thermals and gradually drying my fevered skin.  As I sipped my glass of Steve's Evil Pink Juice, a dove on an overhead wire spread his wings in the dusk and left his perch, highlighted by the streetlamp, his wings a blur like
a child's snow-angel.  My cat-who-will-never-be-tamed stayed within six feet, lolling on the grass and coming back for frequent rubbing and petting.  Together we looked past at the black locust tree towering above us and watched a spectacular show of lightning to the south.  It was a rapid-fire fireworks display, pyrotechnics only a second apart, but so far away that we never heard the thunder.  As the streetlamps illuminated the tree branches in rivetting contrast, I blessed my optometrist and reflected that there are many corners of the world that can be as fine as this one, and I've seen a good many; but none that are any better.

July 15th: What a week.  We sold lots of stuff on Craigslist and Kijiji, and I played music until I woke up one morning with a painful forearm, which I thought was a tennis injury, but I'd been taking a rest from tennis...and it was my left arm...how weird...finally realized it was from contorting my fingers into jazzy guitar chords, exacerbated by more piano playing than usual.  That boogie-woogie bass puts a bit of strain on the left forearm.   Seems like I'm getting too old to do much of anything I used to do, anymore!
Deborah has a new set of five foster kittens, this time from different litters, sans mommy cats.  They're only a week away from getting spayed and adopted out, but apparently they all needed a week's vacation from the shelter and their small accommodations while renovations happen there.  Here they share the spare room, and she lets them have the run of the main floor once in a while, so they're enjoying an adventure somewhat similar to the new homes they'll have eventually.
On Saturday we saw Odysseo with Rob and Cynthia.  That was a pretty impressive Cirque du Soleil kind of show focused on trained horses, trick-riding, and human acrobats.  Here's a six minute highlight reel.
Today Brian and Theresa drove down from Barrie to have lunch with us.  We'd considered going for a sail but there was the threat of rain, so we waited...sure enough, the skies opened, and we had a downpour of Biblical proportions, so much that the city storm drains couldn't handle it.  We got 75 mm in less than an hour.  Our weeping tile was beyond tears, emotionally devastated, couldn't take the pressure...I'm sure there are flooded basements all over the city; ours got a little soppy, too. 
Brian, who has been working twelve to sixteen hour days moving furniture for the DND base closing in Barrie, couldn't keep his eyes open, and had already fallen into a deep nap on our couch; Theresa and I walked in the garden and noted that my garden and lawn had turned into a rice paddy, the wheelbarrow was filled to the brim with water, and so was the cockpit in the sailboat on the trailer in the driveway.  Then Deborah came out wearing her rubber boots and said, "We have a problem."  Not that it was Theresa's problem, but bless her soul, she rolled up her sleeves, kicked off her shoes and helped us bail eight pails of water out of our basement, while Brian slept on, his snores indistinguishable from the thunder rolling around outside the house. 
Finally we finished what we could, he woke up, we ate fish and quinoa salad with Theresa's delicious peach pie for dessert, not to mention zucchini, tomato and swiss chard from our garden; and after a short drive over to the yacht club just to give them the quick cook's tour - didn't make up for not being able to go for a sail, I guess, but it was better than nothing - we said goodbye and they headed home.

July 8th: pulled a calf muscle playing tennis, so I might have to sit out for a few weeks; too bad, it's the only real exercise I stay committed to, week after week.
Went to Rob's yesterday, had roast chicken and Cynthia's delicious potato salad plus her homemade ice cream in honour of her birthday, and went to see Madagascar 3.  We met Buck, the new German Shepherd ("East German border guard dog").  Rob's new veggie garden is huge, like the envelope to my little postage stamp.  My garden is a little Findhorn, but his approaches commercial market garden status.  He will be able to host a healthy family feast in a couple of months.
The way home was a drive down Memory Lane.  We passed Gilchrist Lane, of course, on our way to gas up the truck at the duty-free gas station on Mohawk land; took the Belleville bridge off the island and turned immediately onto the road past the front of Albert College, the residential school I attended when I was fifteen and sixteen; through Newcastle, where our first boat the old steel collander Lomar was purchased in dry dock; and passed West Hill United Church on our way home through Scarborough, where Dad worked, and where he married Deborah and me.
Today (Sunday) Deb's father Sol and lady-friend Marcy came for lunch, and I spotted our first three ripe cherry tomatoes of the season to go along with Deb's salad (Rob's lettuce from our garden) and delicious smoked salmon and leek quiche.  Life is good.

This week's reflection, inspired by Richard Dawkins:  Man is the only creature in the universe, as far as we know, that has evolved a brain capable of abstracting the concept of permanence, and extrapolating that to human permanence in the form of immortality.  Having imagined it, he craves it, and is easily convinced that it actually exists.  Humans want to live forever, and failing that, they want heaven, and the reassurance of eternity – one of the central selling points of all religions.
The rest of the universe knows that there is no such thing.  Everything – the flower, the iceberg, the mountain, quantum particles, the universe itself – experiences change and decay.  Like everything else that we share our universe with, we are temporary, ephemeral beings.  We have but one quick chance to love who we are and where we are, and those we share it with.
That recognition ought to short-circuit a lot of the religiously inspired and sanctioned evil in the world, the teachings that trick young men into taking lives and giving up their own brief moment of worldly consciousness and joy.  Faith in an afterlife somehow devalues the life we have, and justifies too many evils perpetrated in the name of various religions.  How much precious life has been squandered, and murder abetted, by the belief in an afterlife?  If we all woke up to the transient priceless nature of what we all have, what a kind, friendly, sharing, blissful world we might begin to live in.

July 1st: our anniversary.  We've had a pleasant week of dinghy restoration, tennis, BBQ's with friends and family, the rest of our list of current summer activities, including gardening...we have zuchinnis almost large enough to pick, and enormous tomatoes that'll be turning red very shortly.  We're in the middle of a stretch of weather that hits thirty degrees every afternoon for four hours, higher with the humidex on most days, and drops to a low of only nineteen at night.  This stretch could last two weeks.  It's very pleasant as long as one plans one's activities around the daily heat peaks.
Yesterday we took Lis, Ryan and Lara out for a sail - a very brisk day on the water, 30 knot wind gusts, but Deborah was skipper and did fine on the lake under mainsail only.  The weeds were a big problem in the harbour, though.  We ate and drank at the club, walked around to see the other clubs, and then the three of them went down to the beach for a swim.  They claim the water was "freezing", but they seemed to have enjoyed their day, and I certainly enjoyed connecting with them all again.
Today we had supper at the club again with Ian and Ursula, and ate the first zuchinni from our garden - very tasty - and lettuce, with fish baked on the BBQ, and potato salad.   After dark there was a fireworks show at BPYC, so we wandered over, sat at a picnic table thirty feet from the ignition zone, and watched a great display just above our heads.

Thoughts I've had to work through this week:  Neil Armstrong was once asked by an interviewer, “If you learned that there was a malfunction on the air scrubbers in the space capsule and that in fifteen minutes the CO2 would rise to poisonous levels in the cabin, how would you spend those fifteen minutes?  Would you pray?  Would you speak to your wife and family on the radiophone?  How would you prepare for such an eventuality?”
Armstrong answered, “I don’t know what you or most people would do, but I’m damned sure I’d spend my last fifteen minutes trying to repair the air scrubbers.”
In doing so, I’m also pretty sure he’d trust the scientists at NASA, rather than looking around for little green men who might be saviours of the human race.
 When faced with a slim chance of survival versus a very much slimmer chance, why do so many non-scientists challenge conventional science and waste their time on “alternatives”?  In doing so, they risk their own lives and potentially mislead loved ones into doing the same thing.  What is it about humans that we have developed a logical mind unparalleled in the universe as far as we know, yet we are so willing to throw logic out the window and emotionally chase hope from the most fanciful and bizarre explanations of chemistry, biochemistry and medicine, not to mention the origins of life, the universe and everything?  I keep returning to the question, “Who do you trust, and why do you trust them?”  And yet...Richard Dawkins has helped me understand the psychology of people who believe the charlatans, the homeopaths, the witch-doctors, the snake-oil salesmen.  I still have no idea how one would begin to dissuade them, and I’m starting to wonder if it would be irresponsible to continue to try once you encounter resistance to your first attempts.  It seems to be a primal human response, instinctive and ingrained, that looks to “belief” rather than knowing, and may be an ancient way that humans are able to self-heal, to boost their immune systems – positive thinking, with a suitable placebo, can be, some say, up to 30% effective compared to other cures…lower than evidence-based therapies, yet well above a failure rate.  It’s a real puzzle, but clearly there are two distinct approaches to healing: faith-based medicine, and evidence-based medicine.  I would always choose the latter, but where a person distrusts and rejects evidence-based medicine, the corollary of the placebo effect suggests that a patient’s belief system might even be strong enough to short-circuit the benefit that evidence-based therapies might be expected to provide.
The key is that there is "a need to believe"...if science-based practitioners, bound by their honesty, tell you that statistical odds of success are quite low, but you need to believe you have a much higher chance of a cure, where would you turn but to those who have no scruples about teasing you with that hope?  It is my contention and fear that the realm of faith-based cures is riddled with unscrupulous and ignorant agents, and that sailing through those waters is like trying to dodge rocky shoals with no charts, but perhaps the appearance that those shoals seem closer to the safety of shore is what keeps the fearful and desperate - and those for whom faith is centrally important to their lives and belief systems to begin with - willing to take those greater risks.  That, and the sense that the "science" or "logic" behind them seems simpler to understand, and therefore the patient feels somehow more in control of their own destiny by embracing those beliefs.  That sense of control seems an important part of the formula for positivism.  And paradoxically, the embrace of belief, regardless of the validity of its basis, may buttress the immune system and lead to increased success for patients.  That would suggest that some combination of evidence-based and faith-based therapies should create the most fertile conditions for cures.

June 24th: This has been a busy week - partly with all the regular stuff: tennis twice a week, jazz choir, gardening, driving cancer patients for treatment, dinghy restoration, etc., but also because I went back to the Thursday evening living room jam group last week, and this week the choir performed at the teachers gala awards banquet (great dinner and wine, and I had to sing a short solo; we're hoping there might be video, but haven't seen it yet) and then for the past two days we've had our guests from Kentucky for their second annual stay in our house.  We had a visit from an old friend of Deborah's we hadn't seen for a few years, and then Ed LeMaster and his daughter Cathy stayed in our bedrooms for two nights while we shifted to sleep over on the boat down at the club.  During those two days we drove across the city to Humbervale for AMSF AGM meetings and meals, culminating in a BBQ at Marilyn McKim's last night.  I had to write up the investment porfolio report and deliver it first to the directors for questioning and approval, and then to the membership, and the meeting included a special remembrance service for Dad.  Today we get to rest, catch up to newspapers and other chores around the house, mow lawns and hoe weeds, etc.  We already have beans and jalopeño peppers, eggplant beginning to fruit, very large green tomatoes, new flame lilies, and our first red raspberries.  The strawberries are finished, but the lettuce seedlings Rob gave us are now large and providing regular salad greens.  The garden continues its evolution through the summer.

June 14th: my last entry was on the day my Dad used to celebrate his birthday.  I have thought about him almost daily through the entire winter, and he's a often a focus of moments of meditation, almost but not quite an obsession: who he was, what shaped him, what he really felt and thought about things (not always the same thing, of course), how he fought to see past the bounds of training and expectations to become more fully aware, more original, more authentic, more honest.  Remembering him as he was while mind and body were young, vital, bursting with confidence or at least a desire to live large and stamp his presence on this earth with a patina of significance; free from the weakness and anxiety generated by the disease that plagued his final years. 
    
Last Saturday Deb and I attended HYC's Sailpast.  We went out on my friend Don Davie's boat instead of our own.  Here we are luffing the headsail in salute to the Commodore - I'm on the bow, with Don's granddaughter Courtney in front of the mast.

    

At dinner, I had Deb's laptop at my elbow and we watched our goddaughter Una receiving four awards and her certificate of graduation from Gulf Islands Secondary School, live streaming over the internet.  Very cool.  She was pretty excited, with good reason: if she gets accepted into med school, one of the scholarships will pay her entire costs.
     The next day, Deb went off to Montreal for the week, while I gardened and played around restoring dinghies.  On Tuesdays I drive cancer patients to treatments, and this week that turned into a twelve hour day of negotiating rush hour downtown traffic over four trips, with a lot of waiting, napping in chairs and reading time in between.  It was good that my final client was very pleased and excited that his chemo response was positive; made it easier to feel good about my day by the time if finally drew to a close. 
     Life goes on: June concert, sailing, BBQ's and tennis.  Pretty soon we'll spend time with teacher friends who've been busy with report cards and end of year activities this month.  At the same time, I'm ready for a change, something new; balancing my age and energy level with some sort of new challenge.  I'm not sure what form it will take, but I'm watching the ocean like a look-out in the crow's nest.
     This week's thoughts: Meditation continued from last week's best thought had me thinking about what it is that we want to pass on, who we want to pass it on to, and why.  It doesn't have to be material; we live in a time when material needs of the next generation are well provided for, especially by the time we reach a ripe old age - much riper now than in previous decades.  Between welfare, health care, the good fortune of being born into a bountiful society, and the extra years to get themselves established before they watch us pass on, the next generation doesn't need much in the way of material support.  What's left?  Most of them, at their age, probably don't believe there's much else the previous generation can give them, but I know differently now, having lived through those years to this age.  By the time they make it as far as I have, they will often have wished for the body of wisdom, experience, memories, and a good example of how to live and how to die, that we ahead of them can and should provide - not foisted upon them, but left handy, lying around where they can lay their hands and hearts on it at moments of crisis and uncertainty, when they suddenly feel the need.
     I'll continue to live my life like an open book, recorded and available; and continue compiling family history for them.  There is a season in the lives of most people when they suddenly crave knowledge of their roots; I will make sure that there is much more available to the descendants of my siblings than there was to satisfy my own craving when it began to emerge. 
     Like I do, I hope they will all have passions and interests that keep them active and cheerful, as well as ways to "give back", to provide service.  If you belong to a club, you don't just ride on the coattails of others - you participate in the executive chores; and you don't just throw money at charitable causes, you give time and caring as well. 
     Equally important: You don't take friends and family for granted; you cultivate them, to make them into a garden of relationships that give you pleasure instead of a vacant lot full of random, barely noticeable weeds.  I've heard the resentful whine, "you can choose your friends, but you can't choose family"; but one can choose to be-friend family and make those relationships richer - different than friendships, quite often, but still interesting and emotionally enriching in their own way.  While young, the non-family relationships upon which careers, community and family-building pivot take centre stage; as we age, some come to regret the neglect of connection with wider family.

June 7th: Sailpast is this coming Saturday, a good annual festival at the yacht club that includes the first fleet sail of the season, a party at the clubhouse, dinner and a band in the evening.  Then Deborah is away for another week visiting her family in Montreal.  I'll spend the week doing yard work, playing music, driving patients to Odette Cancer Centre, and hanging out with a small group of friends who share music, sailing and tennis with me as common interests.  The jazz choir is preparing for our third annual performance at the Liberty Ballroom on June 21st.  It's a gorgeous facility, and our presence is rewarded with a great dinner.
     I went halves with one of my sailing/tennis buddies on a couple of old dinghies that the yacht club had to get rid of, so my latest project is cleaning and varnishing one of them, a little 7 foot Skimmar sailing dinghy, finding or making a sail for it, and probably then advertising to find a new home for it.  The other one is bigger, maybe 9 or 10 feet,  a good heavy flat-bottomed fishing boat, so it won't take much work to recycle, just a good cleaning and advertising.  Then I'll get to work on preparing the Tiger Moth for sale, so that I can fill its space in the driveway with a small trailer instead. 
     One of my sneaky pleasures is to waste time and a little gas once in a while by just cruising around nearby neighbourhoods, looking at other peoples' gardens and homes.  I don't covet them, although I would steal ideas if that was convenient.  But I've always enjoyed turning off the main road to explore residential architecture, and even when there were no famous sights to see in a small town "down under", our rental car saved the day by allowing us to cruise little old towns full of regional character.  Sometimes I'd wonder if the residents were suspicious, and if any had the local constabulary on speed dial, but we never got challenged, I must admit...a few hard stares, but that's about it.  So I keep doing it every so often, even here in Scarborough. 

 
Best Thought I've Had Today:

June 7th: Waiting to die: that's what I reflected that I was doing as I sat blissfully on the outdoor bench under the cedar tree in the front yard, listening to an orchestra of bird song and letting my eyes rest on blossoms, including the first yellow blossom on a lily we got from Heather. 
I hope that I have to wait a long time, but waiting is mainly what I'm doing now.  I'm no longer working toward trying to achieve, accomplish or build anything of significance; the best I can manage is stasis (musical, financial, fitness, gardening, friendships) and the occasional completion of a trip full of novel experiences to a fresh country on my bucket list.
Now, waiting is usually negative, frustrating, an anathema, especially to type A's and to young people hell-bent on accomplishment and new adventures.  My meditation this morning is that waiting might as easily be a simple, positive, zen activity.  If done well, it might be a blissful exercise in openness, awareness and appreciation.  It feels like a significant shift in mind-set, although I suspect there may be people who live in this mind-set all their lives, without really thinking about it.
Of course I'll stretch it out as long as I can...


Best Thought I've Had Today:

May 28th: Today's best thought isn't original.  I heard it somewhere a few weeks ago, and it has stuck in my head.  We believe that hope, trust and faith are essential to our well-being and to a successful outcome to our ailments; the placebo groups in countless medical trials confirm this confidence.  There's one element that seems equally important, and without which one wonders if the other three can even be authentic: an "attitude of gratitude".  For religious people, that applies to a creator, and all that s/he has created; for everyone, it applies to the days we've already enjoyed, the ones we still hope to enjoy, the magnificent systems of science and technology that mankind has built which sustain our health and pleasures, and the friends, family and elements of fun that fill our days. 
An "Attitude of Gratitude" provides a glossy shine to our daily existence.


May 28th: Simple pleasures: the garden continues to delight with fresh blossoms each day; today the peony has its first vividly pink blossom, and we've been eating strawberries already - usually we don't get those until June.  We attended the Retired Teachers AGM and luncheon, put in a few more plants, I built an Ugly Stick, attended lessons at "Youtube Guitar U" a few times, played tennis and got the tennis House League schedule created for the summer, and found time to sit down and read, which I haven't been very good at making time for.  The only thing that would improve the quality of my days is more connection with family and friends, who are all too busy - they should all retire! - and a musical outlet.

Best Thought I've Had Today:

May 25th: My garden is like a large green toy with gems of colour.  I take care of it and play with it a lot or a little each day, and like a kaleidoscope, it shows me something new and pleasing every time I turn around.


Best Thought I've Had Today:

May 21st: I'm shocked to observe how many people behave as though they deserve my admiration, a priori...as if it is one of the "rights" we learned that we had as children, just by virtue of being born.  Maybe this is one of the unintended consequences of our modern parenting and schooling approach.  Do we also have a northern aloofness that makes us seem prickly, stuck-up?  Or a barely warranted self-confidence in our knowledge, values and abilities?  People in southern cultures, as I travel, don't seem to display this attitude about themselves and others.
  If this bothers me in others, do they suspect the same of me?  I must try to watch for that, and guard against it.

May 21st: This has been a week of further reconnecting with old friends who seem to come out of the woodwork on the May long weekend and the sunny days leading up to it, which has been fun: Rod Smith; Laurence Wright; Greg Martin, Christine and Liam; Andrew Chung, who was just accepted into the music teaching program at York U (he owes me a Dim Sum lunch in return for my part in helping him get in, which we're looking forward to next week); and a little more time spent with Don Davies, who is a friend of the admirably "constant" sort.   We've also reconnected, of course, with the many tennis acquaintances who are part of the house league program that I run; and some yacht club "friendlies", as another old acquaintance used to refer to them, to distinguish them from people you know well enough and spend enough time with to call "friends".
     Deborah
drove her brother Geoff and her niece Kymberly and nephew Joseph to Montreal and back in our truck.  They spent three days there visiting her mother Sylvia and Fred, sisters Judy and Cynthia.
     I had my first orientation session at the Canadian Cancer Society, where I have volunteered to drive cancer patients back and forth to treatment.  They expanded my awareness of the nature and multiple causes of this cluster of abnormal cell growth diseases.
     Our gardening effort has tapered off now that the plants are in, and it's just a matter of a little weeding, watering and daily pest control - a few of Heather's Asiatic lilies are under constant attack - an infestation, really - by a scarlet lily bug - but most of my garden time is spent simply enjoying the daily development, keeping the lawn mowed, inviting friends over to view the results.  We used to look for opportunities for children to have their writing efforts read by others, especially appreciative adults - this was sometimes called "authentic writing", and the theory was that having an audience motivated children and improved their skills of expression.  I think of my gardening the same way - I don't just want to enjoy my own garden, I want to show off my efforts to others!  Maybe we could call that desire to share some sort of "authentic living".
     The boom and sails are on the boat, and it's getting a good cleaning this weekend - partly because we had two six-hour OD duties to perform at the club, one for ourselves and one we volunteered to do for a neighbour who couldn't be reached to do his right after ours.  It gave us an excuse to be at the boat and make some headway on the clean-and-shine.  That's how we'll spend the rest of today, until this evening's tennis round robin.  I think of the sailboat the same way as my garden, by the way - so if you want to go out for a sail, let me know...

Best Thought I've Had Today:

May 17th: If we are honest, most of us know very little about most things.  When ego doesn't get in the way, we turn to experts, or sometimes to people we trust might be better qualified to identify true experts.  The fundamental question for most of our decisions, therefore, should never be "What's the right answer?"  It should be "Who do I trust, and why?" 

Mother's Day, May 13th, 2012:

   The sailboat is in the water, the mast is up but I still have to put the boom and sails on and tune the shrouds.  The taxes are done and paid.  I completed and sent out the spring newsletter for the yacht club, the Halyard, and my tennis house league program is up and running - I'm running round robins until after the long weekend, and by then I'll have schedules made up for matches for the balance of the summer.  We've reconnected with some friends, and let the rest know that we're back in town so that they can call us when they're able to.  The Angola Memorial Scholarship Fund will have it's AGM in six weeks.

   Yesterday Rob and Cyn made it into "the big smoke" to see The Hockey Sweater with Elisabeth.  Afterward they came over to my house to see the garden Deb and I put in the day before, (plus the front flowerbeds I began last fall which are now turning out well), eat burgers and drink beer.  Earlier in the day we saw Jenn briefly, and met Aiden for the first time - a lovely young lady just graduating from grade 8 and already being called upon to participate in high school musicals.

   Deborah has driven the truck to Montreal this afternoon with her brother, niece and nephew in it, to visit her Mom and two sisters. I'm a bachelor until Thursday, but I have lots to keep me busy, as always - tennis, the market, jazz choir, darts, the garden, the boat(s), all of that. I'm going on Thursday morning to get "trained" as a cancer driver volunteer, and Thursday evening when Deb is back we'll go to the annual dinner of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, which is always a lovely dinner overlooking the marina just down the hill from us, and is free with the annual membership we pay - which isn't any more than the cost that the dinner would be on its own.

   I'll add some garden photos with the next entry.

Best Thought I've Had Today:

May 12th: If I've had the last word, the discussion wasn't really over yet.

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