The current slideshow of photos is here.  If you've seen the earlier photos and you just want to see the latest, you can pull down the button bar on the google page where they are hosted to get to any new ones that you haven't yet seen.

    December 25th.  Early Christmas morning is a good time to catch up on the diary while the rest of the world sleeps in.  We've had quite a bit of snow in the past few days, and especially overnight, so I'll have to go outside later and push some of it around.  Deborah likes to shovel it while it is still falling, but I think it overwhelmed her a bit this time.  I generally wait and use a large sled shovel once the accumulation is finished, but I'm going to stall until later in the day because we have 45 km winds right now with gusts to 68 kms.  The snow is drifting, and wind chill can be severe.  We have some minus 14 Celsius days ahead of us in the New Year forecast, which will feel like minus 24.  It'll actually be minus 22 overnight, probably feeling like 32 below zero with the windchill factor.   This is 12 to 14 degrees below our thirty year historical average for this time of year.

    This past month, I got the surbahar strung, and bought a piece of Delrin from a nearby plastics business to make the sympathetic bridge, with a bolt ground flat on one side just behind it to hold the eleven strings separate from each other.  At the same time I came home with a block of Teflon and I cut a small piece off that to make a nut for a large dulcimer that Sol asked me to string and tune.  The nut extender I'd tried on the J&D came in handy for separating and guiding the strings on the dulcimer at the other end.  I did a lot of research into string gauges, both steel and nylon.
    Shraddha brought me two packages of veena strings that her friend picked up while on a trip to India, so I finished stringing the veena and began playing it.  The frets on the veena are set into two wooden fret rails, as an alternative to the bedding compound of coal dust, candlewax and beeswax that were originally used.  I didn't want to start messing with that stuff, and ten of the twenty-four brass frets were missing anyway, having fallen out long before I got the instrument, so converting it to guitar frets made sense.  The veena makes the seventh instrument that fell into my lap for free, that I simply had to spend the time to learn to repair and set up (four of them were various steel and nylon guitars). 

    I added an extra element to the surbahar. It came with a single bead on one string for fine tuning, which was a revelation for me - some sitars have more, and they are often called "swans".  I replaced my single bead with a five smaller ones, one on each of the main playing strings,  and one on the first chikari string, so I now have the same fine tuning capability on all of those strings, which saves time.  Sitar and veena players are constantly tuning while performing, which isn't easy with wooden friction tuning pegs.  I used a violin trick, chalking my wooden pegs to make them grip better, which also helps.

    I completed a six week free online course in jazz piano from a university in Britain, which was fun.  I learned a few things and was reminded about a few more.  These courses, when/if I can find them, are helpful refreshers.

    We went to Rodney's annual late November musician's party for the second year, and played all night for about five hours without noticing the time passing.  I took my new silver cornet, Sol's 4 string banjo, harmonicas, etc.  I used the silver cornet at swing band where I got called out to sub for Lloyd for four nights, and with my jazz combo group.  All our regular musical get togethers continued until a week before Christmas - the guitar circle, uke group, and the '20's repertoire with Shraddha to which Jack came out once.  I tried to get an a capella group going but couldn't find any local singers.  Greg brought his new trumpet over and we played it together once.  It was supposed to become a weekly thing until he got his lip into shape, but I haven't seen him back yet.  The trumpet was a retirement gift from the women in his life but I don't think his heart is really into it. 

    My finger style guitar skills took a leap this month.  I practiced daily toward a commitment to perform three tunes at the Tipsy Cow in Stouffville to a roomful of other much more capable guitarists, which is a daunting exposure.  Deb played her new tenor uke as my chord accompaniment.  An old teaching friend, Brian O'Sullivan, runs the monthly event, and he overrode our feeling of intimidation.  We almost snuck out without playing, but we did play, finally, and it was remarkably well received.  They weren't just being polite - we did music different from every other performer.  We played Vida Mia, a tango we'd worked on, and Ashokan Farewell because they'd never heard that one yet, and added some vocal fun with Fishin' Blues.  It was a feeling of accomplishment being able to carry that off, and being applauded and congratulated for it.  Afterward I counted off all the places we'd performed recently and came up with seven, I think.  This was the first time it was just the two of us.  A few days later we were back for a second time at Hirut, where we form a trio with Shraddha.  This time we played and sang After You're Gone (I used Sol's wooden banjo), Blue Moon and My Baby Just Cares for Me.  Our finger style chops are improving, and our confidence is growing.

    We began Skyping with Napoleon, an engineer who lives in Quepos, Costa Rica.  He's improving his English.  I'm supposed to be improving my Spanish, but I'm not capable of holding my end of a conversation yet so I still just study verbs and learn phrases online, mostly with youtube videos.

    We've done regular work at the yacht club, getting our hours in early for 2018 by helping with fall yard work and leaf collection, serving at social functions, etc.  We've had dinners with Sol, Ian and Ursula
, Mel and Marija, Laurence and Joan, and Marj.  We're going to Ursula's today for Christmas dinner, again. Moe and Jennifer have been unavailable.  I began a new feeding regimen, including a sixteen hour fast in each twenty-four hour day.  It seems to be working, slowly...which is supposed to be the healthiest way to lose weight, i.e. with a lifestyle change.  I don't have much actual flab over my abs, I even still have the remnants of a six pack but it's more like a two pack now. I'm thickening through the middle like most men my age, so I'm hoping this will be beneficial for my liver and heart.  I also got a last minute root canal therapy last week: examination and referral the week before, then root canal specialist on Monday, permanent filling and crown prep on Tuesday, and new porcelain/metal crown on Friday.  That was fast work, all in one week.

    So that's it, my last diary entry for 2017.  Time marches on.

    November 22nd.  In the past month we completed haul-out and returned several times to tarp the boat and prepare it for winter.  Marisa came for three weeks.  She's a Basque lady from Bilbao.  She was an amazing helper and house guest, and with her help we got the gardens ready for winter.  We visited Sol as he manned the memories table at Liz's synagogue on Remembrance Day, and we celebrated his 95th birthday in Brampton, in the party room next door to his own apartment.  I tuned his banjo to open G and learned the chords shapes well enough to sing and play the Little Rascals birthday song to him, with Deborah on her new uke.

     I got my nut extender for the J&D guitar and tried it out as a laptop steel, but didn't like it much.  Now it is back in traditional tuning.  I got a floating bridge for the Silvertone acoustic.  I had high hopes for adjustability, but it was far too high and I wasn't keen to cut it down.  My paint brush handle saddles have been working fine, on both steel strings.  I'll find another project to use the floating bridge on.  My surbahar strings arrived, so now I'm gradually easing myself into the adventure of stringing it and hearing what it sounds like, and maybe finding a few lessons on youtube.

     Tuesday night tennis has continued through November, and I've been called out four times to cover for Lloyd with the swing band.  I bought a $50 silver cornet from a guy on craigslist.  It is a cheap Indian-made instrument and doesn't get great reviews, but I have been very surprised with it.  It is an improvement on my old trumpet, sounds fine and has great range combined with my Vincent Bach #1 mouthpiece, so I'm enjoying playing tunes without having to fight with my instrument.  The other musical activities continue as before.  Wayne has spent one session with me preparing for a small combo at his house where he wants me to play keyboard for him, another sax player, and a bass player.  Greg came over for his first session with his new trumpet; maybe we'll work him into the mix somehow. 

     My main goal now is to improve facility with open G four string banjo chords and then transfer them to 5 string, for Dixieland, and to continue my efforts at fingerstyle guitar, to play at Hirut in December if I get a chance before we go to Costa Rica.  I'd like to find myself another guitar to play while I'm away for the winter.  Music will be my main interest and activity for the next seven weeks before we leave.  Except for dinners with the Sortwells and a few other people, there aren't many other serious chores or activities on my calendar.  Maybe a little snow shovelling, but - knock on wood - there's no sign of snow coverage yet, although the temperatures have been cold enough for that.  We're still eating tomatoes that are gradually ripening in the window, and our winter squash, carrots, etc, and our kale is still alive in the garden.

    October 22nd.  I gave Deborah a birthday present on my birthday!  Sol and Elizabeth came for a turkey dinner/birthday party for me, and after they headed home, Deb and I raced downtown to swap my fiddle, which had a sound post that I didn't know how to set into position (and I've never learned to play a fiddle anyway) for what appeared to be a Fender concert ukulele for Deborah.  I found it on a Facebook music swap page.  It was to be an upgrade from her soprano, which I find sounds too much like a toy.  The new one had a small crack in the back, but the soundboard was intact and it sounded fine, and I know how to repair cracks in guitars and ukes. 

     When we got it home I kept staring at it until I realized that it was larger than I'd have expected for a concert size.  Sure enough, a little research on google soon uncovered that it was actually a tenor uke, 27" long, made of mahogany in Indonesia.  All the examples online seemed to have pick-ups in them, but there was no sign of electronics on this one, yet there was a strap button with a hole through the middle, the right diameter for a 1/4" jack.  I plugged a patch cord into the hole simply on speculation, but I got nothing from my Roland keyboard amp. 

     More research taught me about "passive pickups" and the need for a "preamp".  The guitar amp I borrowed from John Hope has a preamp built in, I guessed, so I plugged it into that, and lo and behold, the sound filled the basement .  We'd lucked into a uke that retails within a range of $299 U.S. and $682 CAD.  Not bad for a Chinese fiddle that I'd gotten by trading it for an old sail that someone gave me.  The person with the fiddle wanted a screen that could be set up outdoors at a children's camp, and the person with the sail had no further need for his old blown out sail but was happy to see it go to a good use instead of landfill.  I swapped out the high G string for a low G, and Deb hasn't gone back to her soprano uke since this one came into our house.

     My Helpxer Vannesa and I spent one morning dropping limbs from the weed maple behind the shed, with Chow's help.  We cut and bundled the pieces, got it all to the curb and cleaned up the mess.  The next day, she applied Restore-a-Finish to our oak kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and to my surbahar.  We have ordered strings for the surbahar from Amazon, and are waiting for them to arrive.  Vannesa left after eight days, sadly.  She had someone in Victoria that her father insisted she needed to visit before returning to Mexico.  When she was here ten years ago as an eighteen year old on the west coast she suffered some sort of accident or illness and was in a coma for three months, and this lady took care of her.

     I spent a day working on my Jack&Danny guitar.  It is a shame - a very attractive, well-built Chinese acoustic with fine binding, of good size and with resonance and sustain, but a proper fix will probably require a neck reset, and at the same time I'd have to lift the top and add extra bracing to prevent the belly from pulling up again.  I'm not keen to put that much time into it, partly because I don't really like the sound of a steel string as much as the more mellow nylon folk guitar that I have, which was a much better guitar to begin with, before my friend put his foot through it and I rebuilt it.  The nylon strings are easier on my fast finger tips, as well.  However, the J&D isn't too far out of tune on the upper frets and I brought the belly down and eased off on the truss rod when I first got it, so I'll keep it as a slide guitar, which is something I didn't have in my collection.  I glued down the bridge which was lifting, and sanded down the saddle.  The open D tuning with lighter strings takes a little stress off the neck, so I expect it to remain stable now.  The action is still high but that's okay for a slide guitar and you can adjust the slide to get a perfect pitch.  I borrowed metal and glass slides from Jack and Charles, decided that I like the glass sound best on these light strings, and I used a glass cutter to make a slightly flared slide from a wine bottle top, which approaches the slight radius on the neck of the guitar. Now when I'm in the mood for some slide guitar blues, I have an instrument to pick up and use.

     On October 15th we had a power outage for five hours, caused by a short but violent storm that snapped a nearby power pole in half and dropped a few trees.  We ate cabbage stew heated up on our butane camp stove, and when it got dark we used LED flashlights and candles. 
During the outage, we had no phone service because Bell had cut our copper line while switching us to fibre-optic, to Deborah's extreme annoyance.  I missed the first hour of the AMSF conference call until I remembered that Sol had given us a very heavy emergency battery back-up which he had no use for.  I had thought that we had no use for it either, but I brought it in from the shed, and once we figured out how to plug our phone and modem into the correct outlets, we were back in business, phone-wise.   There was still enough charge in it for a few hours of service, but shortly after we'd hooked it up, the power came back on, of course.  I've left it plugged in and fully charged now, ready for the next outage.

     The past week has been busy with de-rigging our boat for the winter, setting up the cradle, dropping the mast, having our furnace serviced, and getting a new fibre-optic modem (the third since May!).  Yesterday I did my six hour shift in the tow boat with Don during haul-out, and this morning we returned to the club bright and early to have our own boat lifted out.  It's always a sad day in the year, but it went well for us.   I swear the crane operator was very new, and needed glasses.  It was a very slow lift and times across the board were higher than for previous haul-outs, so the lifts will all be a little more expensive, by ten to thirty percent in most cases.  But the weather has been great.  There was no wind (I shudder to think how slow he'd have been in windy conditions) and we've had highs of 23 degrees for the past three days.  Tomorrow's forecast high is twenty.  We will bring the motor home for winter storage, and tarp the boat.

     All our regular recreational distractions continue: uke and guitar circles for both of us, food bank volunteering and cooking up a storm of garden produce for Deborah, and
frost bite tennis league and jazz combo for me.  I'll be covering for Lloyd at swing band for a couple of weeks coming up, in his fourth trumpet chair.  I've spent a lot of time experimenting with different 4 string banjo tunings, deciding which of  them would be most manageable to play Dixieland and similar songs from the early 1900's, which Deb and a few other uke and guitar circle people often like to choose when it is their turn to call out a song.  I prefer the sound of "plectrum tuning" but I can't yet make those complicated chord changes in time, there are too many to relearn, so I'm back to Chicago tuning.  I enjoyed Irish tenor tuning for melodic work, once I discovered how intuitive and regular the scale patterns were on the frets.  The irregularity of the B string interval on guitars has always been a stumbling block to navigating melodies.  It is too painful to stretch your hands across those intervals to construct the Dixieland style chords.  I learned so much about the evolution of 4 and 5 string banjos and banjo history in the past few days during this process that I could easily give a seminar on the topic.

     We've been eating steadily from the garden.  We are still picking tomatoes and raspberries, even today.  We gave several squash away but we still have a dozen spaghetti and buttercups.  We have fancy multicoloured carrots that we pull as we need them, and we have cabbages that we turn into cole slaw in the summer and stew in the fall. We have swiss chard, kale and a few beans.  The long term forecast doesn't have our overnight temperature dipping to zero until sometime in November. 

     In early November we'll have a helper named Marisa, from Spain, who will help me pull plants and cover the garden beds with compost for the period of winter fallow.  My surbahar strings should soon arrive from India via Amazon, so I'll string that up and begin to experiment with melodies.  Learning traditional Indian music would take more study than I'll have time for, but Shraddha wants to try some Bollywood tunes, and I'm going to find some fusion ideas.  The Beatles used the sitar in some of their songs.

    October 8th.  Ian and Ursula came for dinner on the 24th, and Ursula brought me a couple of chrysanthemums.  One has fine pink blossoms which look more like pink daisies than the other mums that I have - a nice addition to the colour palette of my fall blossoms. 

     On September 26th, we picked up Mom and Heather at the airport.  It was the hottest day of the year, 33.6 degrees, and a record for that date.  They visited with Janice and Tom, and then with Tom Jr., and on another day we took them for a walk on the Boardwalk, past Leuty Lighthouse and though Kew Gardens, and introduced them to our friend Elizabeth.  On Friday the 29th we drove to Westport and visited Rob and Cynthia.  Jennifer, Kevin and the boys arrived six hours after they said they would, just as we were leaving, so we saw them only briefly.  Rob was much stronger than the last time I saw him.  He was able to sit in the living room and the dining room with us all afternoon, and talked constantly.  He weaned himself off the hydromorphone and has been using cannabis oil instead, which improves his appetite.  The next day we returned Mom and Heather to the airport, and attended a "Hallowe'en potluck" at the club - a month early and sparsely attended, but the food was delicious.

     The SBTC AGM was held at Cliffside Plaza on Sunday, and it was a contentious and fractious meeting.  We did finally end up with a new constitution and a new executive of good people, but not before the "mendacious malcontents" had their shot at disrupting the meeting and caused a lot of unnecessary aggravation.  Eventually it became clear to them that they were being received with scorn by the rest of the members, old and new, and they slunk away.  Meg and I stepped down, and Kristian Gravelle became the new president with Terry Giancroce as his vp.  OTA awarded me the Bruce Child's award, along with three other members on Meg's exec.  Meg deserved an award for her masterful steerage of the club through the challenges of this year, but I haven't heard that she got one.

After five hours instead of two or three, I finally got out of there and Deb and I drove our truck to Kenmore to visit Karen Yan.  While we had some hybrid batteries installed in the truck, Karen took us to Letchworth Park, the "Grand Canyon of the East", which was very pretty.  Upon our return to Kenmore, we took her out for Vietnamese food at a restaurant she goes to a couple of times a month, and then drove back to Toronto.

     I went sailing again with Jack Heeren on his day off, and we arranged to pick up our own Mexican Workaway helper, Vannesa, and one other from Britain, Melissa, who I delivered to Karen Burak's house in the west end. 

     I've played a lot of tennis, often four hours on Tuesdays and then a Thursday and Friday session as well with Dave Gracey and Colin, or with Don, Jim and Paul for a couple of hours.  Music has been fun - Shraddha comes over on Wednesday to work on some jazz tunes, and the guitar circle met in my basement this past week as well.  They brought electrics this time, which was a nice change from our usual acoustic gatherings.  Matthew's jazz circle met this Friday and we worked on Moon River and other tunes.

     Yesterday we met Saulo Vasconcelos, who reached out to me through Workaway.  We took him on a tour through part of Scarborough and down to the yacht club, and we served him a fresh salad from my garden and some of my homemade ginger beer.  It will be interesting to see if he is able to move to Toronto with his young family.  Saulo is a musical theatre star in his home of Sao Paulo, a city of 19 million people, where he played the lead in Phantom of the Opera.  He did the voice-over for Maui in the movie Moana, and has been a voice teacher and worked in the industry for many years, in Portuguese, Spanish and English.  He seems like a very fine, positive, friendly man who should do well networking his way into the industry here.    

     Tomorrow Sol is coming with his latest lady friend Elizabeth for Deb's Thanksgiving turkey dinner, and Vannesa will join us for that.  We had seventeen squashes this season, about two thirds of them spaghetti squashes and the rest were buttercup.   I cut open a spaghetti squash and drove a little piece of rind up under my fingernail, which will impede my piano and guitar playing a little bit.  Who'd have imagined a kitchen accident like that?

    Sept 24th.  We took Jana over to Karen's after only a day here, and then our German girl changed her plans, so we haven't had a helper all month, but there hasn't been a terrible amount of garden maintenance to do so it worked out well. I should remember to block my calendar for September every year - all I do is drag the hose around and water planters, once the weather gets dry.  We haven't had rain for a couple of weeks, and we're suddenly getting a long heat spell, four "heat alert" days of over 30 with humidex up to 40, back to back.  This is the latest heat wave we've ever had; the latest ever in the past was around Sept 6th and 7th.  It's weird, after the very cold, rainy spring and cool summer.  But the tomatoes are ripening and we have a bumper crop.  And we've eaten a constant harvest of beans, plus frequent helpings of kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, etc.  We have seventeen winter squash ready to bring indoors and roast once it gets cool enough that using the oven doesn't create hell in the kitchen.

     On October 3rd we anticipate the arrival of another (different) Mexican girl, a 28 year old physical therapist, who will help me begin the process of taking the garden apart and setting it up for the winter fallow, with compost, leaves and clippings over the beds.  She'll also help to clean and do a bit of bright work on the sailboat.  The cradles will be positioned by mid-October, and haul-out is on the October 21st weekend, which will seem (as it does every year) much too early.  Sadly, with the heat we've had no significant wind for sailing for the past two weeks.  But our musician friends who like to swim in the lake - a couple of them live right at the shore, along "the boardwalk" - are delighted at the warm surface temperatures.  During this period of no wind, there have been no waves to stir up the water and bring cold currents up to the surface.

     Damianne (Rowena), who we stayed with in Prague, was in town and dropped over for lunch and a gazpacho, and a tour of my garden.  It was nice to see her again.  Sol came for lunch.  Ursula and Ian will be here this evening.  Yesterday we attended Greg's 60th birthday party (his birthday was on the 13th), at our old house.  We took our ukes and sang him a birthday song that Deb lifted from the Little Rascals.  He's built a fine little deck in front of the garage, surrounded by planters, which became a nice open stage.

     Other than that, the past three weeks have been filled with tennis governance angst, website and email list maintenance, lots of playing tennis and lots of music.  Elly began hosting the guitar circle at her house again, Elizabeth continues to host the uke choir, Shraddha came here to work on some favourites for the repertoire she's building, and Matthew convened the jazz combo again.  So there are always two nights a week and sometimes three or four that I get together to play different instruments, with different people.  Now, almost eight years into retirement, I reflect on the fact that music (not to mention gardening and tennis) always gives me "something to do, something to work toward", and that's what is often described as essential to a mentally healthy and happy retirement.  Gardening and league tennis, which continues until the end of October, takes care of the need for fitness, mostly.  I've just created a private Facebook group for players who want to organize games on dry days throughout the winter.  We often play well into December, and some players even get out during very warm spells in January and February, when it can often hit six or nine degrees - T-shirt weather for a winter-hardened Canadian.

    Sept 4th.  I finished laying down trumpet licks for John Hope's CD project, after three sessions, about ten hours of work.  I should hear the final mixed tracks in October.  In the meantime, John lent me a decent amp with reverb to play my electric guitar through.  I picked up a Yorkville bass amp with a broken volume potentiometer, located perhaps the last one of its kind in southern Ontario and got it all back together with the help of a friend who repairs amps, for a total of $45, which is probably a quarter of what they're worth second hand - they were $600, new.  Then Jack Heeren lent me a bass guitar to practice with.  So I've got, temporarily at least, some interesting musical toys.  I have too much stuff in my collection of musical toys right now; I might start selling stuff that doesn't meet my needs, and hunt for just one "best" guitar (like boats, that's difficult to define).

     We said farewell to Arianna, and then to Chiho who headed to New York on her way back to Japan.  Before she left, we took Chiho sailing and also to visit Jack Heeren's sound studio out in the countryside, which was very interesting...the House of a Thousand Pairs of Shoes...he's a contract Foley artist.  The studio has done major motion picture and TV series work stretching back 45 years.  We recognized dozens of film titles we'd seen on the studio shelves.

     We attended a pretty lame CPS BBQ, and regretted missing my guitar circle on the same evening.  We had supper with the Sortwells.  We had O Dock's Curry Invitation night.  We attended a uke gathering at Prairie Drive Park.  We watched the eclipse on the 21st, with our pin-hole camera shoe-box and also on the living room wall.  We had supper at the club with Don and Jacqueline, and went sailing on Jack's boat with Ian from the guitar circle.  We hammered out a new constitution proposal for the tennis club, with a survey monkey to get feedback from members

     The last thing we did was a  sail to PCYC on a club cruise last Saturday, the 2nd.  That was a wild, hairy ride, one of the hairiest we've been on.  It was a "yellow" day, and the wind was high and coming from the east, building up waves all the way from Kingston down the full length of the lake.  We rolled and surfed all the way there, and there was no tea for the tillerman because steerage was a full time occupation.  We had rigging problems as soon as we were out of the gap, and Deb had to steer while I tried to free a fouled halyard.  I almost got tossed from the boat several times.  We whipped down to Port Credit at better than 6 knots; sometimes we even hit 7 according to the gps, in spite of getting interfered with by the waves.  Approaching the entrance to PCYC, we turned into the wind to drop the sails but couldn't tame the head sail.  Waves kept pushing our bow away from pointing to wind, and the motor kept lifting way out of the water.  With the propeller racing every time it came up, and the gas sloshing about in the tank, we had trouble with the motor once we finally made it into their breakwall.  The motor kept stalling.  We scraped against the outboard of a resident boat and against the PCYC visitor dock wall.  Perhaps a bit of gunk from the bottom of the gas tank had found its way into our motor or gas line.  We spent a chilly evening eating a fantastic spread of hors d'oeuvres and drinking club wine, and slept overnight right there on the wall, outside the harbourmaster's hut.  We discovered that they were very short of slips because most of the PCYC boats that had signed up to swap places with us had turned back or stayed home, occupying their slips that we'd been assigned.  On Sunday morning, with high winds threatening in the forecast for Monday, most of our sailors decided to sail home to our own club, so we did too.  It was raining, but it  stopped as we got underway.  Thankfully, our motor started just fine and kept running smoothly as we motor-sailed until an hour away from home, when the winds picked up to the point where we could turn off the motor and sail the rest of the way.

     Just this morning we took on another Workaway helper, Jana from Tasmania, who was born in S. Africa.  She arrived on the 2nd, but we couldn't host her then.  She tried to find a Couchsurfing host but that fell through; there are a few flaky CS hosts out there.  So we rescued her from the Travelodge where she's been holed up for two nights.  We might take her over to Karen Burak's in a day or two, since we're also expecting a German girl on the 9th.  But Jana seems to be a nice person, and a hearty adventurer.  She arrived, mowed my lawn, and by noon she was headed down to experience the CNE.

    Aug 13th.  Usually I like to update our diary about every two weeks, but Deb has been pointing out that it has been almost six weeks since I did.  Since my last entry, Alejandra was back from Montreal for a week, and then left for Mexico to apply from there for her student visa.  She chose a flute teacher in Toronto.  Our latest word from her (this evening) is that the Canadian embassy or consulate, whichever it is, keeps asking her for more and more supporting documentation, and she's worried that she won't get her visa in time.  Our helper during the past two weeks has been Arianna from Milan, and she has been terrific hard worker.  She reshaped a few corners of my garden, moved composters, and extended one bed.  She is visiting Algonquin Park today, and she made the most of her opportunity to be a tourist in Toronto. 

     We finally got our mast off the mast rack by July 5th, and after a weekend at Elly and Gordon's cottage in Haliburton, we returned and stepped the mast a week later.  We got the boat out for our first sail of this terrible season, with Chris Moffat.  We took him out and Mishi waited for us at the clubhouse, and we had lunch together.  Yesterday we participated in Good Will Day, which had to be postponed from July because of the high water levels.

     Most of our days were routine, and involved a lot of gardening.  We've eaten many very fine, tasty salads with lettuce, kale, arugula, large cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow crook-necked squash, radishes, carrots, feta cheese..

     I did have one interesting bean plant in the main garden: it seemed to grow more aggressively than my other beans, and had many tendrils.  It took over my step-ladder.  Eventually I realized that the leaves weren't exactly like bean leaves, they had more of a heart "cleavage" to them...and sure enough, suddenly there were very handsome, dark purple morning glory blossoms on the plant.  My uncle Dave, with Marg from Mbereshi, stopped for a salad lunch and chat, and he warned me to get that out of there before it took over my whole garden.  I've now learned that no matter how beautiful, no matter how much I like them, morning glories must be confined to a pot.  This one probably arrived in my free spring city compost, which is mostly leaf litter and twigs.  I ripped it out but saved a bit in a planter for next year.  I have pink ones in planters growing up my front porch, where they work very well.

     I had to replace a cracked thermostat housing in the Suzuki, which was a long process. I struggled to find the reason for the leak.  It took me five hours and two trips to the parts counter, and a lot of cursing about the tiny hands of Japanese engine designers  who could fit their hands into spaces that mine couldn't go. 

     We made a couple of trips to the weekly Regent Park Festival.  We played drums in a circle with Rodney and friends, and saw a talented Canada Arts Council funded dancer who had a couple of equally talented and enthusiastic boys behind her who made us all laugh and applaud.  They might have thought that they were pranking the dancer, but they were so awesome to watch that she invited them to join her.  One was shy and backed away, but the other got right into it, to our delight.

     I did three sessions in John Hope's basement studio with Leo the sound engineer.  I played trumpet hits and phrases for him to build into his tunes.  He has about ten tunes that'll be mixed and published by October.  I heard a couple of the preliminary mixes this afternoon, and they sounded very good.

     The shenanigans by a tiny group of sour-faced older members of our tennis club continue - the tail trying to wag the dog.  Meg and Kristian had to attend a "tribunal" at STF to respond to their complaints, and we've had several exec meetings supersede my Tuesday night tennis.  We've had to come up with a revised constitution for the club which we need to present for a membership vote at the AGM in October.  On the positive side, I got to attend the ladies Rogers Cup matches at York University on "Presidents Day", with Meg.

     Someone gave me a bass amp, a Yorkville 200B.  The volume control was snapped off and I'm still trying to locate a replacement part.  I hope it'll be possible to get one from the Yorkville Sound factory in Pickering.  John Hope lent me a 100 watt Traynor amp with reverb that will give my Fender Jazzmaster a whole new reason to be played, compared to the little Marshall practice amp which was all I had until now.  My Roland keyboard amp has no reverb or effects.  Deb and I learned to play a tango, and I'm getting more fancy with my performance skills on some of the older jazz and blues tunes that I've enjoyed beginning to learn over the past year.

    July 1st, Canada Day, our anniversary.  For the past two weeks we've hosted Diana, a sixteen year old from Rivne in the Ukraine, while she attended language school in downtown Toronto.  She arrived on June 16th.  Last night we delivered her to her host for the next two weeks, Karen Burak, and Lissy was here for an overnight visit

     The lawn got mowed, and the weeding got done.  The garden grows slowly because we've had such a cold and wet spring, but it is coming along.  The one thing we didn't spend time on, which I'd expected to do, was the sailboat.  The water level has simply been too high this whole time.

     On the 25th six of us, mostly the uke players, performed at the Birchcliff Coffee Bar.  I have videos on my youtube channel that we posted to friends on FB.
     Other than that, life continued as normal, with the usual guitar circle and tennis activities, although the political action at the tennis court has been vicious, with a small group of selfish dissident members trying to hijack the agenda and force change on the democratically elected executive, calling them a "dictatorship".  Their complaints escalated to the STF and city level, resulting in the formation of a "Tribunal", which all sounds very courtly and legal, but is mostly just an inconvenience to those who volunteered their time to serve on the executive - a pain in the ass, quite frankly.
     Today we get to ignore all that. There is a "Canada 150" celebration at the tennis club, and also down at the island where the sailors from all the clubs are gathering at BPYC for games, steak on a bun, a piper, fireworks, and a campfire with guitars. 

     The next couple of weeks will be blissful.  The water level is finally dropping to the point where we can walk to our boat without getting our feet wet, so we'll put up our mast this week, and being to enjoy the sailing season.  It'll be a bit shorter than most years, four months instead of six - although in reality we usually don't sail much in May or October anyway, so perhaps I should say three months instead of four.  Sometimes I wonder why we bother, but that three months is always an extremely pleasant stretch of time.  We keep a boat all year round in order to use it for three or four months, and it always feels worth it when those months roll around each year.  Garden, sailing, tennis, music and musical friends...what more can anyone need to be happy?

    June 13th.  The water level at the yacht club finally appears to be cresting and dropping, although wind and swell on the lake can bring it back up above the docks periodically.  We expect our young Ukrainian Workaway helper Diana to arrive on the 16th, and we'll begin to focus on the boat: cleaning, putting up the mast, and taking it for its first sail of the season.  I had to do a six hour OD on Sunday because the COM thinks there might be some risk to people walking docks and getting on and off boats, which is reasonable given how slippery I found them to be.

     My garden is coming along well, but I've been disappointed with the quality of the city compost. I suspect they treat it with herbicide to keep weeds from taking hold while they are storing it, before delivering it to us.  I don't know how long that'll take to wear off. 
I'll have to amend the soil with mushroom compost next yea.  And I'm going to focus in on a narrower selection of plants that do well, that provide a lot of food for our table: carrots and radishes, cabbages, beans, summer and winter squash, cucumber, tomatoes, kale and swiss chard, primarily, with a few rosemary and parsley, our perennial sage bush and perennial chives, green onions, rhubarb, hascap and raspberries.  My own seedlings mostly failed - tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers...they all seem to suffer from various plant ailments and insect attack as soon as I put them outdoors - plus, no doubt, the totally crappy city compost soil.  Even though I mixed it with sand and slow release fertilizer pellets and soil from last year's planters, it just isn't a good growing medium.  My own compost created from kitchen waste and from leaves that I collect in the fall, plus my own dead plants in the fall, makes much better soil and the worm population is exceptionally healthy.  That'll be my focus from now on. 

     The flowers have done well this year.  Tulips proliferated and we have some gorgeous varietals, and some pink irises to accompany our purple German irises.  Lots of other flowers have come and gone.  We have a good lupin patch and the peonies are blooming within the past few days.  The locust tree is finally in bloom.  The hibiscus has a shoot but seems to be stalled for a month now.  Many plants that flower later in the summer are preparing themselves: dark tower, euonymous, clematis, and others.  Our first Arizona Sun is blossoming.  The cana and calla spears are up and spreading leaves.  I've added some photos to the Summer 2017 album.

     We went to Whitehorse for the first time, to Alana and Jonas' wedding on their lawn in front of the Yukon River, at Marsh Lake.  It was a short four day trip but we were impressed with the culture and scenery and we enjoyed ourselves.  I could see cruising around there in a motor home for a few weeks, as our friends Elly and Gordon did last summer.  We enjoyed seeing family members again - something that only happens once a year, generally.  Sometimes twice...maybe twice, this year. 

     Apart from that, we hosted Alejandra, a young Mexican flautist, and introduced Chiho to her as well.  They played crokinole and farkle with us.

     We met with Nick at the Birchcliff Coffee Bar and committed to playing some tunes for him on Sunday afternoon on June 25th.  W
e now have a set list and about half of our uke and guitar people, a core group, have said they will participate.  Shraddha and Deb and I played the Hirut fingerstyle open mic on May 3rd.  We did Sleepwalk and Ashokan Farewell as instrumentals, and sang Fishin' Blues as well.  We're hoping to take them three more offerings on June 20th.  I missed the jazz combo night, but there's another one scheduled at the end of this week.  Wendy Watt's partner Ian Baxter has been to two guitar circles, and is a bit hit with the other players.  I'm curious to see how our path will wind with people like him and Charles Gadsby around.

     We attended Elaine's choral performance at Providence Villa, the usual May RTO and CPS luncheons, and participated in Elly's street sale followed by Doug Brown's a few streets west of hers.  We did well and freed up a little space in our shed, but there's a lot of time I need to put into posting ads on Craigslist and/or Kijiji to get rid of other stuff that didn't move or that we thought too valuable to unload at garage sale prices.

     We hosted a couchsurfer from Montreal for two nights, Alexandre, and he took me to see an instrumental music concert at Danforth Music Hall by "Do, Make, Say, Think".  It was at a painful and medically insane decibel level, and he described it as music that creates mood without story, whereas I'm really into music that tells story as well.  It was an interesting experience but I couldn't understand the fan base willfully damaging their hearing by standing directly in front of the speaker stacks...kind of like people who keep smoking long after they've learned that it is going to kill them.

     My own musical adventures continue: I strung Rod's 12 string and enjoyed using it, and I strung my old Silvertone from Rob as a Nashville tuning "high strung" guitar.  I put two sound holes in Sol's 4 string banjo and was immediately regretful; now I have to find an attractive screen for the holes, and a metal resonator for the back, maybe an old Ford hubcap.  I"m still using Chicago tuning on it.  I'm thinking about Irish tenor tuning, since I have the string set for that.  I have a fiddle that I swapped for an old sail, currently having the sound post and bridge set by Christoph's music teacher.  Once I get it back I'll begin trying to learn a few fiddle tunes and licks along with my banjo tunes.

    May 20th.
The water level continues to rise.  Lake Ontario is the highest it has been since records began in 1918, mostly attributable to a heavy snow pack in all the watershed areas that feed into it and into the other lakes that feed into it.  

     For us it means that our boats are floating above the finger docks and we can't raise our masts because the electrical feed to the mast crane is under water.  People not wearing rubber boots get shocks through the soles of their boots when they stand on the mast crane dock, if the power is on.  We're going to have a land-based Sailpast event this year.  People walk out to their boats on wooden finger docks that are now becoming green and slippery, and the water is up to their calves.  We expect a few more centimetres before it peaks in early to mid June.

     However, although 40% of the Toronto islands are underwater and homes are threatened, the major trauma has been downstream toward the St. Lawrence, in low-lying areas of Quebec.  They have homes on flood plains that should never have been built, and they are now learning why.  There is a lot of anguish in those communities.  Montreal has declared a state of emergency: Montreal declares state of emergency as flooding continues | Toronto Star 

     Our computer woes have stopped for now.  A friend swished his fingers about in his repository of "junk bits" and came up with 4 gig of ram to replace the 2 gig that the local computer shop had claimed was all I could have on my motherboard.  With that, I decided to relinquish my status as the last surviving hold-out in the world who still likes the Vista operating system (don't laugh - I also have two computers that I still use with Windows XP on them).  I finally broke down and upgraded my operating system to Windows 10 Pro, a gift from my Microsoft journalist niece that's been sitting on my shelf for a year.  I'd been afraid that 2 gig of ram wouldn't run it, and I'd run into problems, not to mention an annoying learning curve.  That hasn't been so bad.

    Finally, hot on the heels of the other upgrades, we got an offer out of the blue from Bell, our ISP, to upgrade our "Fibe 15" service.  It had been what I called "fake fibre": fibre optic cable to the back of our property but the last tens of metres was the copper inside our house, so our speed was bottle-necked back to rarely faster than 15 Mbps.  Take our Fibre with an "r", they said.  "We'll run it all the way to a brand new modem inside your house, a free new modem, free installation, you'll get up to 150 Mbps download speed and you'll pay $2 a month less."  That sounded like an offer too good to be true, and you know what they say, "If it's too good to be true, it isn't true"...but this time it turned out to be true, after a few twists and turns. 

     We met a young Sri Lankan Canadian installer, Mano, who has spent enough time at our home to become a friend.  He began by installing the new modem in the basement at the back of our house.  "It's better than your old modem," he said.  "The signal will reach you upstairs."  It didn't.  It was terrible.  In the process of fussing with it and running a series of speed tests with my tablet, I discovered how vital proximity is for wifi signal.  We were getting stronger signal from our neighbours on either side than from inside our own house, and we had slow video and frequently dropped connections. 

     But Mano had given us his card with his personal phone number. "Call me directly if there's a problem," he said.  He probably meant because the creation of fibre optic ends was so finicky that they might not be successful, but we'd had such a good conversation about Sri Lankan history and his family's involvement in it that he reacted positively to my suggestion that the modem would have to be moved to our living room. 

     At no cost, he returned.  We ran fibre optic line together through the diagonal length of our basement and up through an old coaxial cable hole in the floor to a shelf on a lovely wooden magazine table that Sol made for us years ago. Mano hooked our phone directly into the modem, so we now have a completely redundant network of phone cable and jacks throughout the house; and since since the modem was now only two feet from my multimedia computer, I suddenly realized I could connect directly with ethernet cable.  Our brains get old. It took me two days to realize that 150 Mbps advertised by Bell meant to their modem, but that actual speeds within the house would be limited by the router, the wifi signal, electromagnetic interference and our own devices, the computers and the wifi adaptors.

     We'd been getting wifi in a range from 1 Mbps to 30 Mbps, averaging about 12.  With the modem at her elbow, Deb's laptop suddenly got 32 and more, and my ethernet connection, as I sat here typing this, just tested at 138 Mbps. Is it fast?  Blazingly fast.  My computer gets the ethernet cable because we use it to watch our news and tv shows from internet sources, but Deb is beaming over her connection speed now too.

     That's all the news that's fit to print except that this morning we are getting a new Workaway person for nine days, a 25 year old Mexican flautist who has played with the Monterrey orchestra and then studied for two years in Spain.  She's going to compare flute teachers in Toronto and in Montreal, and then choose a city to come and study in.  She'll use our home as a base for her Toronto research, and we'll help her navigate the city.  Among other chores, she'll help us put in the garden. I have trays of seedlings ready for her.

     Our front garden looks lovely - we're right in the middle of tulip month, and our tulips have proliferated.  We have dozens of blooms this year, in different colours and types, blooming at staggered times.  The iris buds have formed, the peony buds are being swarmed by ants (an important part of the blooming process, which surprises many people) and many of our other spring perrenials are in full bloom with others, like lupins, not far behind.  There's a very loud woodpecker who has adopted our black locust tree in the front yard.  I've been enjoying the sound of his drumming for days already.  As the summer progresses, we usually have a pair of cardinals, blue jays, and maybe some hummingbirds along with the other songbirds that populate southern Ontario.

     May 6th.  I got into managing the tennis club's email list, which involved a painful learning curve.  I discovered various aggravations like the fact that all previous email addresses had been entered without names attached.  The club exec wants to know who are new members for this year but there's nothing on the entry to indicate that and no way to isolate them even if an indication existed.  I've spent many hours on the email list and on building out the calendar for the season.

     Our woes with our own computers continue.  Deb put Windows 10 on her laptop but the machine is still very slow to respond to commands.  Mel Jandric sold me 4 gig of ram and helped me pop it in my multimedia tower, and gave me other advice; the machine is faster at booting and running even before fully cycled, but still has glitchy video issues, especially watching CBC news. Other videos are ok, so it's possible that Vista can no longer handle the video that they're putting out.  There are other possibilities as well, however, which is part of the frustration with computers.  There are so many possible causes of problems that you don't know which to spend your time and money on.  Lissy gave me Windows 10 Pro, and I'm getting close to wiping Visa and putting that on, but I'm also exploring the idea of using Linux on a dedicated machine for banking. 

     Sol completed the uke he was making for Deb, along with a few more clocks.  The sound hole is in the wrong place. I had to create a bridge for the bridge, so to speak, right across the middle of the soundhole, to make it work.  Other than that, it's a cute attempt, but not as useful or playable as his wooden banjo.  The banjo, mind you, is also too quiet but is quite adequate for use at, for example, a uke gathering in someone's living room.  I'm working my way slowly into banjo, shifting from Chicago tuning to open G depending on the song and whether I want to do finger rolls (on the 5 string), clawhammer, or just strum.  Sol is talking about moving into a retirement home.

     I also strung the old Silvertone with nylon, and constructed a bridge for it.  It sounds pretty good, but the strings have continued to stretch for weeks, to the point where I'm wondering if the tuners are actually slipping. The top E string popped its ball end (it happened with another guitar I tried to use them on, too) and I replaced it with an older nylon E string but that also broke eventually.  Further adjustments are required, but at least it proved workable.  Now I have to remove a lump of clay from inside (an old mud dauber wasp nest?), lower the bridge a bit, adjust the nut up a little and enlarge the slits to accommodate nylon string diameter.  The sound is quite good and it isn't coming apart, and the neck seems to be stable.  I'm not brave enough to put a set of original steel strings on it; there doesn't appear to be a truss rod.  But the neck is straight and the frets are well-positioned - with an adjustable floating bridge I get very accurate pitch graduation all the way up the neck.  I broke the nut trying to enlarge the slots, so now I need to replace the 43 mm bone nut with one slotted for nylon strings.

     My latest adventure is to puzzle out the reconstruction of two very classic Indian sitar type instruments.  Parts are broken and missing, and this challenge may be beyond me, but they were too beautiful to pass up.  I have them in my workshop now and will begin the research, which will include looking for musicians who play such instruments in Toronto to see how a properly maintained one is set up and played.

     The guitar circle got active again, and we're building a short repertoire for an open mic.  The uke group is doing the same.  We know someone through Elly who might plug us into ninety minutes of open mic at the Birchcliff Coffee Bar on a Sunday afternoon.  We went to Alan and Lorraine's for an introductory guitar evening for them, and had dinner with Lawrence and Joan on another evening.  The jazz combo just recorded a few tunes last night, so we might shop ourselves around as well, and I should soon have some video and/or sound files to share with friends and family.

     It took a while to line up all our ducks, but we've booked a flight, accommodation and a rental car in Whitehorse for the first week of June, for Alana and Jonas' wedding.

     Chiho Shinagawa stayed with us for twelve days and helped prep the boat for launch, which happened on April 29th.  We picked up city compost on their delivery days, and she mixed soil and charged my black planters.  We helped her hunt for a place to live for the summer, and she moved at the beginning of May.

     We attended the Ashbridge's Bay Canadian Power Squadron Dinner this past Thursday at a restaurant called Sarah's, down on the Danforth near Chiho's new digs. It was a
delicious meal, free with our membership, because we live close enough to get conscripted to form a quorum for their annual meeting.  A week later we'll attend the York East Division meeting for yet another free meal, and this summer we'll attend a BBQ down at Bluffers that York East will throw as part of a membership drive.  We're supposed to invite prospective new members and course participants.

     This spring has been an extreme rain event.  There is devastating property damage from flooding around Montreal.  The water levels in Lake Ontario are the highest they've been in a generation, and we expect our docks to be underwater at some point in the next two weeks as the rain continues to drain into the lake.  The docks at CBYC are a little lower than ours and are already underwater.  Deb and I have set an extra line to the shore, and lowered our fenders.  We can barely climb aboard the boat because the gunnel is so high above the finger dock. 

    The deer are quite brazen right now - Deb took a photo of one right at the end of the road onto the yacht club island, and Jack took photos of two more a few days later, one of them probably the same one, in approximately the same location.
     The rain appears to be mostly going to pass. The blocking weather system sat above us and continued to drop rain for a solid week but it should soon move slowly eastward and there is sun on its way from the west.  We've lined up three or four more young ladies to stay here and help me with the garden for the summer, and it looks like six months of blissful easy living ahead.  The main challenge might turn out to be filling a large trailer with the stuff from Sol's condo and moving it to our driveway.  He won't live here.  He finds our house too small (so do I!), but we're trying to convince him to choose a retirement home near us so that we can visit him more easily and therefore more frequently.  We'd be able to get him out if/when he can no longer drive, and spend time at our house enjoying my workshop in the basement, staying over once in a while in our spare room and enjoying the sunshine and flowers in our garden. 

     Deb's contribution to the diary:
he water level is creeping up. CBYC's docks are under water as they are the oldest club and built their docks lower. We have a few inches of clearance left and we went down today to adjust the lines to keep the boat from being damaged by the dock once the fenders are of no use due to being too far out of the water. Everyone in the club is vigilant and posts data on our Facebook page.

     "Apart from the rain all is well. Mostly. My sister (in Montreal) was found unconscious on Tuesday afternoon by her son, and revived by paramedics.  She was in diabetic coma, and is now in hospital undergoing tests. Rather stressful for my family but it seems to be under control at present, as long as she is in hospital. It is not the first time this has happened. It's the second time in about two years.

     "There is a leak under the toilet only when we flush, which might be just the seal. I have a bucket under it for now. Steve didn't want to deal with it when we had the Japanese workawayer here, and now the boat is encroaching on our time. Hopefully he will get to it. The girl has moved on and we are alone for a bit - until May 20.

     "We had a rat in the house today which luckily ran into the bathroom.  We shut it in and were able to catch it in a bin. It's now in the bin on our porch waiting to be dealt with.  Apparently we will have to let her go more than a mile away. I hope it is only one."

     April 18th.  Just got back from a weekend in Washington with Moe Scott and Jennifer Mitchell, who treated us to a room at their timeshare at Wyndham Resorts.  We arrived on the red-eye Air Canada flight from Toronto, and walked down King Street in Old Town Alexandria to the Potomac River.  We enjoyed the warm spring weather they get in Virginia much sooner than we get it in Toronto.  Their tulips are open and almost done, while ours have not yet bloomed.  On Saturday we got to visit the Smithsonian American History museum and toured with a docent, Mary Marec, who was so filled with passion and enthusiasm for her role that we could have followed her around all day.  Since I didn't grow up learning much about U.S. history, it filled in a lot of gaps in my superficial knowledge.  I know more about European and British Colonial history than about U.S. history, not surprisingly.  There are interesting intersects with U.S. and Canadian history.  We couldn't obtain timed passes for the new African American museum, but went to an the African art museum and the Sackler museum, and the next day we spent seven hours in the Smithsonian America Art museum which furthered my awareness of U.S. history as well as being a feast of creativity for the eyes and the mind.  I always marvel at what painters can do with light that photographers cannot, and that painters have known this since long before cameras existed. 

     I have created a short slideshow here, but I didn't bother photographing any paintings this time, although there were many striking ones.  The photos I did take may appear a bit disjointed, but they've been ordered according to my own internal logic.  Some are for sharing with specific friends who asked, for example, about Dorothy's ruby slippers, or have an interest in quilts, or woodworking, and other interests.
     During the two weeks leading up to that trip, I completed the trip diary of our winter trip.  Deb and I drove three hours to Westport, north of Kingston, to have an overnight visit with Rob and Cynthia.  Rob is much better than he was when we saw him at Christmas, but they both tell us that he is worse then he was six weeks ago when he was released from hospital to try and continue his recovery at home.  My strongest guess is that the medical morphine he is taking makes recovery too soft and easy for him, so that he's in a bit of a dream state much of the time with reduced appetite and reduced motivation to get up and exercise.  We need some pain and negative stress in our lives to give us something to fight against, and in fighting, build strength.  The old saying "no pain, no gain" is often quite true.

     We visited Sol and communicated with three Workaway helpers who will arrive this summer.  And we made arrangements to visit Whitehorse for the wedding of Alana and Jonas.  Our first helper will arrive tomorrow, and we will spend our days preparing the garden for planting and preparing the sailboat for launch, which happens on April 29th.

    March 30th.  We arrived home from Chile yesterday.  The first day was an awkward mix of napping and catching up on chores, opening mail and getting the vehicles running.  The parking brake on the Suzuki was rusted in place.  We had to take the left rear wheel off and pound it with a hammer to free it.  The 6 ½  year old battery for the truck, which began showing signs of age 18 months ago, was dead.  I bought a new one and installed it this afternoon, and we are back in full transportation mode.

    Deborah shopped, I dropped out of the swing band and we reconnected with the guitar circle.  We’ll meet tonight, and the jazz combo will meet tomorrow.
And it is snowing. 

     This is my digital diary.  It allows friends and family to check in if they're wondering what's going on in our lives.  It saves me from having to write the same details in multiple emails, and it keeps them up to date.  Older entries eventually get moved to the archives.  Why bother?  With props to my journalist niece for framing the concept, this is me being my own journalist.  Too many people live largely uncelebrated and die largely unremembered.  Everyone else is too consumed with their own lives to make a big deal of yours, so if you want to celebrate and you want to be remembered by current friends and maybe also by distant descendants, you have to record your own life.  You have to be your own journalist.  I have ancestors about which we are very curious but who left very little behind to help us know them.  I have a few friends who also blog about their lives and travel, and that helps to keep them in my thoughts and up to date on their lives, so I know that it is a positive and useful pursuit.