Our collection of photos from 2019 is here.

September 14th. My fiddle-playing has developed to the point where tomorrow we may be bold enough to stand in front of a mic, in front of a room full of other bluegrass musicians, and play some instrumental tunes based on early Scots-Irish dance tunes.  I'll play fiddle and banjo, a friend will play mandolin, and Deb will play her banjolele and/or tenor uke.  We'll probably recruit a guitar player from those who are in the room for the "slow jam".  We've prepared and practiced Angelina the Baker, Arkansas Traveler, Fisher's Hornpipe, Bill Cheatam, and L'il Liza Jane.
    I acquired my fiddle on March 1st - swapped it for a lovely Costa Rican guitar that I'd rebuilt from splinters after a friend put his foot through it and gave it to me.  Violin remains a challenge to learn, with microtonal differences in pitch depending on where you place your fingers.  At the same time, I learned to play banjo, beginning with a 4 string wooden top that Sol gave me, then a couple of five strings that passed through my hands, and finally I swapped an old water-damaged Silvertone guitar that I'd patched back together for a brand new Washburn 5 string which sounds great.  And several accordions came and went this summer, allowing me to settle on one ancient beast that I enjoy playing while I struggled to learn the Stradella bass button system.  I can play the bluegrass tunes on accordion as well, which might come in handy at music festival campgrounds although it isn't part of the bluegrass instrumental line-up for purists.
    Deborah has spent the summer transporting effects from her father's condo, and doing "triage" on them.  We took a truckload of his stuff to Montreal for his first wife and daughters, gave some away, and sold a few items.  It was a weekly trip for her, an hour each way.  I went a few times with the truck and helped her with furniture, tools and workshop hardware, boxes of books, etc. And I helped her value, advertise and sell some of the items, with a great many more still to be dealt with.  Deb is waiting for her lawyer (her father's old lawyer) to complete her application to the courts to be the executor of Sol's will, at which point - when it comes through - she'll be able to show and sign the paperwork to sell his condo.  Her brother Geoff has visited a few times this summer, from the Philippines, to attend the memorials and help with the estate process. 
   
    Sailing report: We had extreme high water levels in the lake for a second summer - the first was in 2017.  The upstream snow pack and rainfall was enormous and we suspect that it is our local effect from climate change.  We couldn't walk on our dock, which was slippery with algae, and the power to the docks remained shut off.  We finally got to step our mast at the beginning of August, and then we didn't sail the boat.  We went out a few times on different boats belonging to friends, but so far our own boat has remained in its slip.  Somehow between dealing with Sol's stuff, playing music, tennis, and taking care of the yard and garden, we lost the momentum that we normally have earlier in the summer.
    Tennis remains fun for me, and good exercise.  I had an annual physical ten days ago and my doctor brought up the possibility of reducing or eliminating my diabetes medication, since my diet has been so effective in bringing down my sugar levels.  I quit taking statins in February and my cholesterol remains low. From a one time peak of 244 lbs, I'm down to 230 lbs.  That happened gradually over two years, so it is from a lifestyle change rather than a "diet" per se.  I've been practicing the "sixteen hour daily fast" for two years - I only eat calories of any sort between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.  At 6 a.m. (right now) I make a pot of black coffee.  A couple of cups of that carries me through until breakfast at ten.  It was explained to me by a friend that his relative is a physician in Thunder Bay where diabetes is rampant in the indigenous community, and they've begun using this program up there a few years ago with great success.  Obesity exploded in N. America in the '70's, with television ads for snack-foods that people ate while watching those same commercials, drinking sugary drinks and alcohol (even fruit juices touted as "healthy" but packed with sugar) and super-sized restaurant food portions.  We spend our evenings now out at our nearby community centre, playing music three times a week.  On the evenings that we're home, the kitchen slams shut at 6 p.m.  It was difficult at first, but my mind and body adjusted surprisingly quickly.  Elevated ketones in my blood tests indicated that I was beating back the fat deposits every day during that final couple of hours before breakfast.
    The garden was slow this year because we had a cool and lingering spring, but when the harvest finally arrived we had the usual bumper crop of beans, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, raspberries, kale, swiss chard, cabbages, carrots, and beans, and an enormous volume of cucumbers.  As usual, we can't keep up.  Deb takes some to the food bank with her on Monday mornings, and freezes some for winter consumption. 

    We have blissful routine to our life, like the lotus-eaters but with fresh garden veggies instead.  We're mentally exploring a move to be closer to family or better winter climate, but won't take any concrete steps in that direction until Sol's estate is settled.  Then we'd have to embark on what feels like an enormous task, reducing our own belongings and packing what remains.  And before that comes a tough decision, since we can't easily think of a more ideal place to grow old than where we are already, with the friends, medical facilities, shopping and recreational resources that we have right in our own neighbourhood.  Faced with the enormity of the process of moving, we might simply visit family more regularly, and continue migrating to warm places during the coldest weeks of winter.  My only discontent with our current neighbourhood is a lack of musicians - we've cobbled together various groups of musicians but the flowering of the arts here is a bit sparse and desert-like.  I'd love to find a community where more people play and sing, at a higher level.  Here we do a weekly sing along, a weekly all instruments pop play along, a weekly vintage jazz play along, I have a seven piece jazz combo that meets sporadically, a winter country-ish group and now an emerging bluegrass habit, but musicians come and go and few are as musically active and competent as I'm able to be in my retirement.  So that'll be a focus of my search for new digs.

    As to winter plans, we stayed home last winter because Sol was frail, but we had talked about Brazil before making the decision not to go.  So we might go there this winter.  Or the Philippines...Greece...Slovakia/Croatia...but probably in the spring or fall, not in the coldest weeks of winter.  We're just beginning to try to decide where we'd like to go this winter.  I'm drawn toward New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras, and mostly for the music.  An option might be to tour around in the southern States in a travel trailer, looking for music festival campgrounds and other playing opportunities.  I'd pack my tennis racquet and hiking boots.

July 28th.  Sol died the day after I wrote my last entry.  Deb has spent the past six weeks dealing with his condo, arranging his funeral and his other affairs, communicating with his lawyer, the banks, the pensions and medical support agencies, her siblings, etc.  She's made trips every week to Brampton, sometimes with me and the truck and handcart, to bring home stuff to be sorted in our guest room and assigned to recipients - Marg's homeless clients, Deb's food bank volunteer gig, Value Village, etc.  Some of it goes to her Mom and sisters in Montreal when we next make that journey.  Contents of Sol's workshop have swollen the shelves of my workshop with extra tools, cans of screws and nails, clock-making materials, glues and wood-working supplies.  Sorting them and stashing them takes time; getting around to using them or finding someone else who can use them is a long-range future project.  I think I have fifteen handsaws right now, and the same number of hacksaws...multiple sets of screwdrivers, socket sets, hammers...then there are his electronics to deal with - iMacs and other peripherals.  Dozens of clocks - he loved clocks, the ones he'd made and the ones he'd collected. Fortunately he'd already given away most of the ones he'd made over the years - that was his favourite thing to make and give to people.  Deb plowed through a full filing cabinet of papers he'd saved, to make sure that she kept what might matter and recycled what won't.  We took apart his library - he was a prolific reader with interests that spanned history, linguistics and evolution, among other topics.  We are marking time now waiting for Deb to get approved by the courts as executor of Sol's will - the application was prepared by the lawyer but his desk is backed up and it may be September at the earliest before she is approved.
     Sol's brothers and nephews and niece were in town for his memorial service, Geoff and his two kids made it but Judy was ill and her two sons stayed home to take care of her.  Sol was remarkable for making deep and abiding friendships and for being a real charmer with the ladies, right up until the age of 96.  Deb planned and hosted his memorial in an art gallery in Brampton, spread Sol's ashes, and we attended a smoked meat luncheon the next day with Sol's siblings, nephews and niece. 
     Our garden is entering peak harvest season.  We're eating items from it every day - honeyberries are done but we're eating raspberries in our yoghurt now, zucchinis, cole slaw from our own cabbages, kale, beans, lettuce, radishes, carrots, green onions, etc.  The tomatoes are large but still not red - because of the cool spring, everything is about two weeks behind normal, so a photo of the squash vines covering the ladder pyramid in the middle of the garden at this time last year won't be duplicated until mid-August, but we'll have lots of incredibly healthy meals from our garden from now right through to November, and then all winter we'll eat what we froze because we had too much to eat through the summer.  We still have enormous bags of frozen beans from 2018 in the freezer!  And we were home all last winter.  I guess helping Sol eat up his meals-on-wheels kept us from keeping up with our own produce; he had a habit of accepting his weekly delivery of those and then going out to restaurants with his friends instead.  And there were items they'd deliver that he decided he just didn't like, so we wouldn't let them go to waste.
     The Noisy Parker combo did another performance for the residents of the Retirement Suites By The Lake in mid-June, and a week later Deb and I joined a large all-instruments jam at the foot of Lee Avenue in the Beaches, beside the boardwalk, with Josh Dielman from Scarborough Music.  That was fun.  I'm developing some facility with the fiddle.  I try to practice it a little each week, along with my banjo, clarinet and accordion; at our weekly Wednesday play-along I tend to play keys but also guitar or banjo, melodica and harmonicas.  On Mondays I play my cornet and baritone as well as keys for my "vintage jazz" group, and I play keys for the Tuesday evening sing-along.  A few too many instruments to keep up my chops on all of them with weekly practice, but I'm never bored - there's always an instrument to turn to that I haven't played lately.  The bluegrass group evaporated for the summer, the country combo did the same, and the Noisy Parkers are only meeting once a month until vacations are over - with seven members, it is difficult to get everyone together at once for rehearsals through the summer months.  We did manage a BBQ at Wayne's house, though, and one more rehearsal last Friday. 
     My uncle David was in town with Margaret for the annual meeting of the AMSF.  Deb and I picked them up from Marg's niece in Etobicoke, where we had a meal of Greek take-out with them, and we dropped them at the airport, so we had a nice visit.  Dave suffered a heart attack working too hard at packing and moving his stuff from his home to his new retirement condo, but he was sufficiently recovered to make the trip, being careful not to over-exert.  Marg has pretty serious breathing problems, and she remains quiet and reserved but mentally sharp as far as I could tell.
     The water level in Lake Ontario is finally receding to the point that we may actually get to step our mast within the next week, which will leave us two months of sailing for the entire season.  We may well begin a collection of photos to advertise and sell the boat.  Maybe we'll trailer around instead; or maybe we'll buy a small trailerable trawler so that we can be on the water for more of the season.  Or a trailerable sailboat once again.
     All our usual volunteer activities continue: the food bank, tennis, the music groups that we run at the community centre.  We will soon have everything settled with Sol's estate and Deb won't have to make weekly trips to sort out his effects.  So it feels like a sad time, losing Sol, but there's also that uncertain, apprehensive feeling of having to consider new choices, to write a new chapter in our lives.

June 9th.  We've had a very cool spring.  Nothing in the garden is growing quickly; the tomatoes, peppers and okra are especially slow.  Lettuces, radishes and green onions are doing well, and we should be able to eat some of the kale in a couple of more weeks.
     The floods of 2017 have returned with even higher water levels, so we haven't been able to walk safely on our docks and we haven't put the mast on our sailboat yet.  Instead, I've played tennis at least once a week, and I have six musical groups on the go.  The latest is a bluegrass combo, which is a good outlet for me to practice my fiddle and my banjo.  Deb and I went to Oshawa with Dan Taylor to the once-a-month gathering of the Pineridge Bluegrass club.  We won a draw - both of our tickets were pulled, back-to-back, with consecutive numbers - and our prizes were a couple of passes each to their bluegrass gatherings next fall.  We intend to have tunes ready to perform at the mic at their "slow jam" in September and in October.  I have a group, or multiple groups, for each instrument that I play now: trumpet, keyboard, melodica, harmonicas, fiddle, banjo, guitar...all except my accordion, which I just play at home, trying to master the Stradella bass button system, and my clarinet.  I got a Conn "shooting stars" trumpet that plays better than my cornet, so although I prefer the mellower sound of the cornet for traditional jazz, and its compact size, I'm back to using the trumpet for more accuracy and ease of playing.  I haven't taken my clarinet to my jazz groups, but I will if I can find another trumpet player.  Mike Thomas checked it out for me and proved that there was nothing much wrong with it - it didn't suffer from air leaks, it was simply a basic student model and not as easy to play as a higher end instrument.  I use my baritone horn as a low end harmony instrument to accompany our female vocalist in the Noisy Parkers jazz standards combo, whenever I'm not taking trumpet leads or playing keyboard, or singing harmonies for her.  I picked up an Eb horn with rotary valves, which is pretty cool and very shiny, a curvaceous silver instrument, but it doesn't play quite as nicely as my old beat up baritone so I'll probably sell it.  I bought and sold a flute, an autoharp, a couple of guitars, and one of the 120 bass button accordions, and made money on each of them.
     We had one mishap with our Suzuki.  It had been stalling, but would start again after a few seconds of rest.  No amount of investigation by the mechanic would uncover the reason.  One day it stalled and wouldn't restart, so we kept trying.  Deb got it towed home, and we tried in the driveway.  Then we got it towed to our mechanic, who informed us that whatever it had been doing before, this time it was a broken timing belt, and we shouldn't have kept turning it over.  We damaged the cylinder walls by doing that - they overheated with the lack of oil, and warped.  We cost ourselves a repair of over $3,000, about double what we might have paid.  Later we had work done on the truck which came to $1700, so it has been an expensive spring for vehicles.  However, the truck repair included new front tires for summer travel, and those tires are expensive.
     Deb's father has finally agreed to do chemo for his myeloma, having found a doctor he likes.  He's on a four-day session of pills right now, with Deborah supervising each day.  He has been growing more frail, confused and forgetful, and we're hoping this chemo will show us, and him, an improvement.  He hasn't been able to return to bowling and has given up on his woodworking because he's always tired and weak, and although he got his car license renewed, he doesn't drive unless Deborah's with him, as far as we know.  Deborah continues to drive out to Brampton once a week, sometimes twice a week, to take him to his medical appointments and take him shopping, and hang out with him for a day. They attended an information session about palliative care last week.  [Sadly, just a couple of hours after I wrote this early in the morning, Sol passed away from septic shock and fever - the nurse who was scheduled to call on him in the morning found him quite ill and relatively unresponsive.  He went to hospital in an ambulance, and died there just before noon.]
     I got talked into volunteering as maintenance convenor of my tennis club this year, so I've done some work on locks and lawn maintenance, and organized volunteers to help out.  Claudia has been an awesome garden helper - fast, strong, energetic and intelligent - so my own yard and lawn are in good shape and many plants are started.  We had a successful garage sale.  We organized a lot of stuff in storage, got rid of a lot, and raised a bit of cash.  We went to a dinner and a square dance at Janis' Unitarian congregation fundraiser.  The caller said she'd connect us to string band players in the city, which I'm looking forward to.  We've had one outdoor music playing event in the Rosetta McClain Gardens gazebo, and more are planned.  This coming Saturday is our Sailpast event, at which I'll play Heart of Oak while raising the flag, and then race up the hill to play with the Noisy Parkers at a nearby retirement home, then back down the hill for Sailpast dinner.  It's weird not to be able to sail out into the lake to salute the Commodore's boat in the traditional manner, but with the wacky weather we are experiencing all around the world, that's our new reality, it seems.

May 3rd. Two months since my last entry.  I've had some fun collecting new instruments: two 120 bass accordions, a flute that needs new pads, an Oscar Schmidt autoharp that is intended for resale and a baritone sax that I bought and sold.  I wanted to play it but it needed a major overhaul.  I learned a lot about saxes in the process, and doubled my money.  I electrified Sol's homemade wooden top banjo with a 4 magnet pick-up he'd given me, and it sounds pretty good in a combo - clear, good banjo sound and good intonation for single note improv and melody lines.  In March I bought a 5 string banjo in a very good banjo soft case for $100 from a guy in the west end.  A couple of days ago I added a fibreglass bamboo circular tray to the back of it - it had flanges for a resonator but it was an open back banjo when I got it.  I just screwed directly through the screw holes in the flanges into the edges of the tray.  It sounds louder, clearer, with good tone, and is more comfortable against the body - so voila, a $1.61 resonator!  It's completely satisfactory until I come across a real maple resonator somewhere, maybe in a country garage sale. Mike Thomas is assessing my clarinet; I might sell that one and look for a better one.  I've repaired a few guitars for friends, and sold a few that I picked up cheap and repaired.  I sold my surbahar, but I'm hanging onto the veena until Baradwaj can see it in August.  I should practice it.  I picked up a lovely old cornet - probably a Conn but there is no stamp on it anywhere - and sold my Tristar.  The new cornet is enjoyable to play, a perfect weight and balance, and with lovely tone.  Slow valves, though, that need constant attention; but I enjoy playing that and the euphonium.  My Huttl trumpet is back on the shelf for now, and maybe for good.
     My musical life has continued to build here in the east end of the city.  We have a dozen singers and musicians every Tuesday evening and a dozen in the "all instruments" group on Wednesdays.  The Sunday afternoon Don Montgomery group moves to Monday afternoons at Birchmount this coming Monday,  The Thursday afternoon county music 4 piece combo continues, as does the Friday evening seven piece Parker jazz combo.  My fiddle and accordion practice continue, although I have no outlet for playing those yet - Dan Taylor is building his chops on mandolin, so we have plans to play together but I'm not really a good enough fiddle player yet, being an adult beginner.  I might go with him to a couple of monthly Oshawa bluegrass Sundays.  I plan to build some sets for a duo with Deborah that we can pull out while traveling or at local opportunities - the yacht club open mics, for example.
     Launch Day came and went without a hitch (except for Jeff Mowbray and one other guy on the dock crew who fell into the lake!), but we seem to be experiencing a repeat of the high water that we had in 2017.  The docks may soon be underwater again.  I'm not sure when we'll get the mast up, but I'll try for next week.  Terrible flooding has happened in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  In Quebec, entire subdivisions were built on a lake bed behind a dike which failed.  What a cautionary tale that is.  I did have to replace the fuel fitting from the gas tank hose to the motor, which was an interesting learning experience.  Don and I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't run.
     Our first helper of this season, Meryem, came from Morocco, activated her Canadian permanent residence visa and stayed with us for ten days.  She might return in September.  She was an excellent worker, and we got the spring yard work done and the garden prepped.  At the end of this month, Claudia Zink will arrive from Austria.  We have the usual spring luncheons and dinners coming up with the Canadian Power Squadron and with RTO.  Tennis has begun - I had my first Thursday evening scheduled doubles games last night, after Monday was rained out.  Pickle ball is an option three mornings a week now, if rain keeps me from tennis and gardening.
     Health-wise, I'm down eleven pounds in two years as a result of my "sixteen hour daily fast" discipline, and I'm completely off the Crestor medication now (there's a good possibility it was never necessary, actually) - so my health picture continues to get rosier.  I had my third once-a-decade bout of diverticulitis and will follow up on that with a specialist.  Deb has been to Montreal, where Sylvia had her 95th birthday.  We saw Deb's aunt Helen's granddaughter Jessica star in Chicago, at the Newmarket Theatre...I dragged my feet about going, but really enjoyed the show.  Sol is still upright, his pacemaker pockets have healed and he is doing fine without them - just as frail as you would expect for a 96 year old with a tired heart and myeloma.  He's having trouble keeping up his weight - no appetite - but has refused chemo and treatment for high calcium levels.  He still drives - just got his license renewed; his younger friends still enjoy visiting him, he's been able to hang onto his girlfriend, and hopes to be able to bowl again, but has folded his woodworking activities.  I'm supposed to go and pick up his table saw and other tools shortly.
     So, that's been our spring so far.

March 3rd.  More weeks than usual have gone by since my last diary entry.  We went to Sol's for a daytime New Year's celebration, but ate Deb's turkey soup rather than turkey.  I foolishly agreed to "Maintenance" on the exec for my local tennis club, which will use up some of my free time this year, but the main inconvenience popped up when they scheduled an exec meeting that will prevent me from attending my jazz combo rehearsal this coming Friday.  I feel like an idiot, allowing conflicts to develop for my evenings, which I should always reserve for musical activities. 
     Pickleball continues two mornings a week, and the community centre musical evenings also continue.  The winter has been cold and unpleasant, but the music has made it more tolerable.  Don Davies got a Thursday afternoon combo going at my house, with Carlos, Martin and me.  We have thirty odd tunes that we could do for the yacht club audience.
     Sol, the main reason we stayed home this winter, has had two pacemakers installed.  The incisions wouldn't heal on either of them.  Now he's being tested for infection of the heart before being allowed to go home (infection may have traveled along the electrical leads) and myeloma was suspected as the reason the incisions wouldn't mend but we haven't heard anything more about that.  His cardiologist was astonished when they lifted the bandages on the second incision.  He said he's done 400 pacemakers and has had four infections - and two of them were in Sol.  Sol has been in hospital twice in the past two months, for a week each time - but he's still there now, on his second stay.  He's relatively cheerful, under the circumstances.  Deborah talks to him on the phone every day, deals with the doctors, and drives to Brampton frequently to visit and support him in other ways, but he'd like to go home, obviously.  Sucks to be 96, but so far, at least, he still finds it preferable than the only alternative.
     Deborah's health is ok and so is mine.  I'm off Crestor now completely, for a two month test period - cholesterol readings in late March will  determine whether this was a wise decision, but I maintain that I've never had a high cholesterol reading and shouldn't have been prescribed with this drug to begin with - doctors look at a stout person and automatically take a CYA approach before they've even done any testing.  But there are side effects to every drug, including statins.  I dodged a prescription for Jardiance the same way - no high sugar readings and no prior testing, so why was it prescribed?  My angiogram came up pretty clean.  "It has other benefits", says the young cardiologist...but reading research reports and getting a second opinion from my endocrinologist convinces me otherwise.  I'm not in the position of most people my age, who take drugs to counteract an undisciplined diet. 
     I've actively sold and traded quite a few items through the winter, mostly through FB, some through my web page descriptions.  It has become a hobby.  I'm getting rid of decades of accidental accumulation in my house, as well as items Sol is diverting to us.  In addition, every Tuesday Deb and I visit two Variety Village stores and come home with things we can use in the house, and things we might find a buyer for with a suitable mark-up for our time and gas and risk of investing capital and not being able to get rid of the items.  Sometimes I see things that correlate to things I already have that I'm trying to get rid of, and that might convince a buyer to take them away - for example, I found an Earl Scruggs banjo instruction book that helped me sell my five string banjo; and I had ten Scrabble boards and not nearly enough letter tiles to go with them, so I've brought home Scrabble games, carefully counted the tiles, and resold them with the special plastic game boards that had none.  So far we've discovered that some games - new, factory sealed - sell well, but in particular, Scrabble games, for some reason.  Some pet stuff found new homes.  Some tools have sold, some instruments and some children's items.  I have some Toys and Games that I might have to let go for close to what I paid, and a number of Sports and Fitness/Camping and Cottage items that should fetch a decent price in the spring and summer.  Almost everything should be easier to move in the spring/summer, because people are more inclined to leave the house, and to drive, when the weather is sunny and the roads are dry.  Maybe I'll do a garage sale on the driveway to unload more low-end items.  I've catalogued almost all of Sol's and Rod's CD's, and when that's done I'll move on to electrical connectors and books.  The CD's might be a sort of currency, swap-able for guitar/banjo/uke/fiddle strings, for example.  That's the theory, anyway...
     As a result of these activities, I have a new fiddle, a new dundun and a new accordion - the accordion is just passing through; I need one with more chord buttons.  But the fiddle is intriguing.  I want to keep playing clarinet but I'll have to find a better one.  Mind is not easy to play - ok for practicing at home but sometimes frustrating.  Laurie says it leaks too much air.
     Deb and I played for Doly Begum, our local NDP MP - and of course we played and sang "Hello Dolly".  We also went to a free movie - Deb has several free movie coupons lined up as a result of her Carrot App fitness program, where she records steps on her smart phone.  We saw Beale Street, which wasn't as good as I'd hoped - a little bleak, but it was a window into the lives of some people in black communities.  We manned the CPS booth at the Boat Show, mostly focused on selling radio courses. 
     One Sunday morning we played for Janis Daly's Unitarian congregation - it was Deb's "professional debut": she got paid $50 for joining us with three songs that fit the theme: Folsom Prison Blues, I Shall Be Released, and Mr. Bojangles.  The theme was "The Wrongly Convicted in Canada", and the speaker was the son of the woman who wrote a book about Steven Truscott in the 1960's that challenged the Canadian court system and exposed the flaws in the trial.
     Peter came for a day and a couple of evenings, and we attended the Mad about Plaid social event at the yacht club together.  He almost went home with my FG 260 12 string guitar.  Speaking of Peter, it is his birthday today.
     And that's it...actually we've stayed pretty busy, obviously.    
    
December 29th.  2018 is almost over.  We have not had much snow yet - in fact, yesterday the temperature hit a high of 13 degrees.  But it is back down to minus 6 this morning, and the long range forecast is for normal January averages, about minus six in the morning and minus two in the afternoon.
     Until the Christmas season caused a suspension of activities at Birchmount Community Centre, I played pickle ball every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and I've drawn Don Davies and Jim Sawada into that activity as well.      
     After a stress-echo treadmill test, I had to take a week off from pickle ball for a follow-up angiogram, which turned out to be blissfully positive, given my risk factors - no sign of heart disease requiring treatment, and nothing more than the majority of the male population at my age.  It was a weird experience - I could feel the wire traveling up the artery in my arm all the way to my heart to inject the dye for the x-rays.  The positive outcome means that I don't have to wonder any longer if there's a hidden issue, a condition that will strike unexpectedly.  All my gardening, sports and travel remain relatively risk free from a coronary perspective, and the diet and lifestyle I've edged my way into over the past decade should maintain my risk-free condition.
     I set up some web pages to display things we want to get rid of, to downsize.  We picked up a few things we wanted at Variety Village: guitar stands, for example, and a couple of guitars that I was able to repair, and a few things that fit with things we already have, to make them appealing to someone else to buy - for example, a brand new book on playing a chromatic harmonica to go with the Chromonica I want to sell. We ordered a Kmise banjolele from China, for Deb for Christmas, and got it for a surprise bargain price.  To our shock, it arrived by air, within days or our order, on Christmas Eve. 
     I'm listing all the CD's and DVD's I have that Sol and Rod both wanted to get rid of, and trying to sell them online.  The money realized goes into our charitable giving budget, but it is a big job to research values and list them all.
     Deb has spent a lot of her time recently visiting her Mom in Montreal and driving to Brampton to help her Dad.  Sol had a heartbeat of 32, so he got a pacemaker that didn't heal completely and he also picked up a touch of pneumonia, so he has been on antibiotics.  Deb is driving to Brampton a couple of times each week, taking him to appointments and supervising his diet, because he hasn't been eating well and is down about ten pounds.  We took him out for breakfast a couple of times, the last time for his 96th birthday.  We won't go anywhere this winter, at least until we're quite certain that Sol's health is stable and improving.
     We've visited friends and had friends over here - Lawrence and Joan, playing various board games; Ian and Ursula; Marg.  We attended Jackie Davies' annual Rotary lunch at the Royal York and won some wine and other stuff in a raffle.  Then we had them here for turkey soup.  Rod Smith came back into town for visiting and medical appointments so we reconnected with him at Bill and Jan's, and also with Sheila Brand.  We had Christmas dinner on Christmas day at Ian and Ursula's.
     I spend a lot of time practicing on different instruments - lately the focus has been piano, but our musical activities continue so I'm still playing trumpet, clarinet, banjo and guitar.  I continue to spend a lot of time collecting and working on charts, especially for the new community band, which has been gathering strength.  We had ten people last week, and one no-show, so we should have been at eleven.  More people will continue to come out, and for the two instrumental groups it'll be like a snowball gradually increasing in size.  I'm not sure that the vocal group will thrive in the same way, it is still small but we are still meeting.

November 16th.  We've suddenly had snow, a month before official winter.  It has been our coldest November in many years, after an abnormally warm October.  Our hardy tennis foursome collectively decided not to play outdoors this week, for the first time all year.  Instead, I have begun to play pickle ball indoors at Birchmount Community Centre.  It's more fun than I'd expected.
     Our community band grows from week to week (photos in the slideshow link) and our weekly community choir has met twice now.  It's a great group of very good singers who meet for "a drink and a song" at a local restaurant, La Scogliera.  We learned Happy on our first get-together, and In My Life the second week.  We have two fresh ones planned for the third week. 
     Yoshie came back for another visit and carved a Hallowe'en jack o' lantern. I had one rehearsal with the Noisy Parkers, and the Lady Pi combo played at Shraddha's Hallowe'en party and at Janis' Unitarian church this past Sunday morning, doing four popular and well-known WWI songs, including Pack up your Troubles and Tipperary, to which the congregants happily sang along.  This was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice at the end of WWI. 
     On the 4th we drove to Brampton and took Sol out for brunch.  Sol has a new pacemaker, and has taken to it well.  Deborah spent the weekend with him while he got used to it - he got it on Friday and went back for a check-up on Monday.  It healed up quite quickly.  Right now Deb is in Montreal with her mother.  She lives close enough to both her parents to be able to spend quite a bit of time with them.
     We thoroughly enjoyed having Circleman Tang here with us for six days in November.  She was very pleasant company and worked hard to pull plants and take apart the final vestiges of my summer garden, the remaining driveway planters, etc.
     I swapped a couple of musical items I don't need for a dundun, along with a shoulder harness and two mallets.  I also got Hohner Chromonica (chromatic harmonica) in C, in pieces.  Today I managed to put it together, replacing one missing bolt and nut and another missing harmonica nut, and a "bumper", and glued splits in the wooden comb, which was badly dried out.  Now I have to open it again and treat the reed plates and comb with Burt's Bees Wax to serve as a gasket, to reduce the air leaks.  I've learned a lot about the construction of harmonicas.  It was worth the effort - not only as a puzzle challenge, but also because this venerable old model Hohner still sells for $250 new and about $100 used on eBay.  When I fix the air leak I'll compare it with the Chinese C chromatic harmonica I bought in a little back alley shop in Da Lat, Vietnam - for $8!

October 21st.  Just got back from having our sailboat lifted out for the winter.  Yesterday I had a shift with Don on the tow boat, and the weather was warm (for this date in October, at least), and the sun shone much of the day, with no rain in spite of the forecast.  We only had one boat to tow, of a list of six or eight possibles.  I'm still playing tennis once a week, still playing with the big band until the end of October, and we haven't had a frost yet - and no frost appears likely in the forecast until well into November.  I've been binge-watching The Good Place on Netflix, courtesy of Lissie.  Hauling the boat is always a watershed moment in the fall.  Since the garden is pretty well finished, now we focus on mostly music until we get away from the bitterest cold of winter for a few weeks.  Might try a little pickle ball.  This evening I'll rehearse for a few tunes we'll play at Shraddha's Hallowe'en party.

October 14th.  After weeks of warmer than usual temperatures, particularly the night time lows, we have finally entered a phase of 30 year average lows, and much lower than average highs, so our days are pretty chilly.  Danielle and I took apart the main garden, and the driveway garden.  She worked very hard at taking the bean vines apart and dumping all the soil from the pots.  We ate a lot of produce, and froze a lot; the kale and swiss chard garden remains and we haven't had a first frost yet (probably coming in a few days, so I'll throw tarps over the swiss chard and the pepper plants), and we have quite a few winter squash to eat as winter approaches.
     The community band limped along.  It barely survived the transition into the dance student at the Don Montgomery rec centre, but I haven't been able to attract musicians in the east end who can do New Orleans style street band, or who want to.  I also have a long list of musicians who've answered my ads and expressed an intention to show up, but never have.  The musicians around here seem to be very flaky.  I will probably relinquish the space at Don Montgomery to Ed McAskill and see if he can hold the Song Circle together there through the winter; I'll play with him, and disappear during the cold months.  My own street band efforts will distill to Deb and me, Skip and whatever guitarist or other musicians we can find - I'll keep trying to attract clarinetists but not vocalists, unless they can sing in my key so that I can sing when they're not around.  I'll do that in my basement.  I feel that perhaps Shraddha's Lady Pi combo is losing momentum; we might lose Terry and Janis has multiple commitments.  We did a second Unitarian congregation gig on the 16th.  I don't know that Shraddha has the people skills required to attract and keep musicians - Sam Meli gave up on it when she presented him with serious homework on some tunes, sadly - and her attention is divided between multiple groups and activities while she also maintains a job and a young family.  Sam has a working R&B band, mind you, where he gets paid for gigging.   Lady Pi is a decent outlet for me to play keys, while I focus on other instruments in my own basement NOLA band, and we might have a singing group at the former Bo Peep restaurant beginning in November which will require some keys.  I might have to break down and take my trumpet to Grossman's on weekends, maybe pound some keys for them as well.  I'm covering for Lloyd in the SML big band for this month, but I don't want to continue in November, partly because of the desire to see the singing group start up - it is scheduled for the same night of the week.
     Mom was here for six days through the third weekend of September, so we drove out to visit Rob, Cynthia and Aiden; then over to Jennifer's; then to Brian and Theresa's, and Lorna and Dalyn (sp?) stopped in there for a little visit.  We met Theresa's granddaughter as well, whose name I've forgotten.  We visited Janice and Tom with Mom; Tom is in terrible shape, in a bed in the living room, and appears to be palliative.  Rob was also unwilling to get out of bed while we were there, but he claims to Mom that he's doing so now after a scare with a trip  to hospital and some poor blood sugar and magnesium readings.  He says he feels better since they prescribed drugs for his current condition.
     Deb's uncle Jack died and we attended the grave-side funeral on Oct 3rd.  He'd been ill for a couple of years. 
     Health-wise, my MRI sent me to a cardiologist with some minor plaque build-up ("calcification") in my heart arteries.  I had no inkling of that, since I play tennis and feel pretty healthy generally.  The cardiologist booked a stress test for Nov 21st and boosted my Crestor to 20 mg/day.  I'd been doing 2.5 mg per day, so that's a significant jump.  I have to monitor whether it causes muscle pain, wastage and weakness.  I have muscle ache, but I'm putting it down to a really bad cold that has lasted a solid week.  When the cold finally leaves me I'll be attentive to muscle weakness from high statin dosage, and maybe focus on doing my weights now that tennis and gardening are coming to an end for the season.
     On Oct 4th David Bruyea restored his mother's tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving pot luck dinner at HYC, so we attended and provided bean casserole and winter squash from our garden.  Sol and Elizabeth came to our house on the 8th, for Deb's Thanksgiving, and Danielle joined us at the table.  On the 7th, Silken and Julius stopped in for a breakfast visit - they were in town for the weekend to attend a wedding of a childhood friend of Silken's.
     On the 10th we tried to sail but were foiled by a failure to properly attach the uphaul shackle; might have to revisit the design of the shackle.  Deb says it is the second time she's been unable to secure it, and she thinks she did it correctly.  So we took off the boom and prepped the boat for unstepping the mast.  We would have done it the next day but I wasn't comfortable with how the motor was running and there were high wind gusts, so we put it off until the 12th.  That would have gone swimmingly except that Tony gave us the green light to jump ahead of him in the sequence and we had Mark (Patrice's surviving brother) and Tony helping us.  We forgot our routines, incorporating their help to slip pins on the shroud shackles and stays - for some reason, Deb went to the backstay instead of staying at the base of the mast on the mast step, which is her usual position for stepping and for unstepping, and I didn't twig to the fact that she should be there.  The foot of the mast slipped off the shoe and the top-heavy mast came swinging over top-first down into the cockpit where I was showing her that to release the backstay pins which she was fighting with, she needed to release the backstay block and tackle.  The top of the mast could easily have taken  one of us out, but we were very lucky - it missed us, struck a glancing blow off the catwalk, knocked the masthead light off and crimped the cable at the top of the backstay, but there was no other damage.  Lesson learned...I hope.
     It has been an eventful six weeks.  I've done lots of instrument repair, including learning to swap out the battery from a portable amp, and saved more than half of the cost of having a technician do it - for a new battery and the labour, they wanted half the original retail price of the amp, which is as much as the amp could be sold for, second hand!  It was a very simple job and would take me no time to do it a second time.  I've adjusted four guitars and two banjoleles, built bridges, etc, and strung Rob's electrics; now I need to get inside his Japanese one and find loose wires, clean pots, etc.  The beat goes on. 

September 1st.  It was a very hot summer, made remarkable because the daytime temperatures were high but the night-time temperatures didn't fall to historical norms, so your body didn't have a chance for the core to cool.  We continued to survive with fans until Jack Carter showed up to street band rehearsal with an old air conditioner that we popped in our dining room window.  A few days ago we bought a small additional bedroom window unit because it was "debranded" - actually a Comfee - and significantly discounted in price.  It isn't too loud, tolerable for sleeping.   The unusually warm weather is forecast to continue through the first week of September, so we'll use it.  And it'll be ready for next summer, since the forecast is for steadily warmer summers because of climate change.
     In July since my last entry, we assisted with Goodwill Day again, then went for a sail with Jack, and then had Jack and Roberta over for a burger.  We brought Julia on board to play drums for Shraddha at Grossman's, since Terry had fallen off his bicycle and cracked a bone in his elbow when a dog ran out in front of him. 
     I got a $16 guitar from Value Village, brought down the belly and glued it together - cracks in the bridge and the neck - and restrung it with ball end nylon strings for less stress on the neck.  The result is a guitar with good warm sound, easy on the fingertips and gentle on volume, perfect for a parlour guitar or one you'd use to accompany ukulele players.  I also found an old washboard that Patricia helped me clean up: sand, varnish and paint, and we added some other noisemakers and a neck strap to it.  I'd embarked on this project because I thought that Deb could play it in street band, but she plays all the jazz chords now on her tenor uke, which is more important, so I'm not sure what the fate of the washboard is.  Makes a very pretty wall hanging, I suppose...
     We visited Shawn and Shanaz in Brampton, and saw David and Marg there, and Nancy and John.  We had a new members pub night at HYC.  I went to Dufferin Grove Park on a Thursday evening to experience Street Brass, but most of those musicians don't seem to have - in general - very good chops, so I haven't been back.  It is a long drive across the city to participate in that.  My own "street band" limped along all summer and never got to the point of being ready to play outdoors in public, but we attended the Song Circle at Rosetta McClain Gardens and had fun - some of those musicians had excellent chops, and there are always guitar players who can strum chord shapes and sing favourite songs, which provides a good musical base.  Deb and I did a few tunes.  During the Beaches Jazz Fest we went to the Mennonite church for workshops, Deb singing and me a New Orleans brass workshop; Deb also attended an annual uke jam there a few evenings earlier.
     Rod came for supper on the patio, brought burgers and beer, and showed us the new home he has purchased in Nova Scotia.  He has moved there now, and left stuff here for me to dispose of.  We met the members of the Scarborough Bluffs Community Association and attended their meeting at Cliffside Starbucks.  We met, Hector, Heidi, Bernard and others, and later in August we helped them stage a Movie in the Park - Jumanji.  Jacquie invited us for lunch at the exclusive National Club in return for helping her host the Rotary International convention members down at the yacht club. 
     I had an MRI to explore for the tenderness in my side, but it seems clean.  I'll have a follow-up appt to discuss it in September.  The latest curiosity is a touch of vertigo, when I bend forward or turn my head, but it can't be that serious because it doesn't stop me from playing tennis, so far.
     I finally began to make some serious progress on building a web page of photos and descriptions of things we'd like to sell or trade.  Maybe this will be a way to get better prices with less hassle than running a garage sale, although we'll still have to try to dump the smaller stuff at a regular driveway sale, no doubt.  For the amount of trouble it is, we might simply drop a lot of it off at the Salvation Army.  The other advantage is that an online garage sale can run through the fall and winter, while outdoor garage sales only happen on sunny days in the spring and summer.  And we have the structure in place now to add stuff we get from Sol and from Sylvia, which seems to be happening almost on a weekly basis now.
     I secured the ballet studio at the Don Montgomery Community Centre for my "east end street band" to continue through the fall.  We have been given three hours each Sunday afternoon, great parking and other facilities.  We've been meeting in my basement all summer and the repertoire is slowly gelling, so I'm optimistic that we'll survive the move and that we'll attract new members going into the fall.  I suspect the key will now be to maintain a good repertoire with charts that everyone can print out and depend on.
     The Lady Pi combo played Grossman's twice.  I didn't enjoy the experience either time, and have put my foot down that I won't participate in any future open mics in bars.  I have profound issues with playing for free while bar owners profit by selling drinks to attendees and often only provide stage time to musicians who will invite their friends and family, so that they will buy drinks.  The second time, the organizer wanted me to leave my keyboard set up for other musicians to use, which was really disturbing.  He hadn't asked in advance (I would have said no, obviously), and we had no plans to stay until late in the evening listening to other musicians play music we didn't really enjoy.  We also played at Janis' Unitarian church, and we've been invited back in September.  And at Sherry Vanderkoey's parents' 50th wedding anniversary upstairs at the Stone Cottage.  I hope we make a successful transition to doing House Concerts.  If Shraddha can figure out how to build out her repertoire with only a couple of hours of rehearsal each week (which doesn't even happen every week because of scheduling problems - this week Terry couldn't make Wednesday, and Janis took that as an indication of a week off instead of staying on top of her emails, so she didn't show up either), we might have enough tunes put together for house concerts, but I'm beginning to wonder if it can happen.  They are complex charts for the average musician, not as familiar as pop tunes and each has its own "personal stamp", which each band member has to learn to deliver through rehearsal.  We've reached out to several musicians without success to replace me on keys for the winter months, and we haven't located a jazz guitarist yet, although James Mason is a good possibility in October.
     I'm not sure what I'll end up being most satisfied with, but it might turn out to be a combination of "community music" with my Don Montgomery Music Collective and my own single or duo with Deborah.  Lloyd wants me to attend the big band rehearsal through the fall and cover players who are away, and the Noisy Parkers might continue playing together and even manage a gig or two.  And there will be another Song Circle in the gazebo two weeks from now, and at least monthly through next summer.
     Patricia arrived from Sao Paulo on August 3rd and will be with us for a full month.  It was supposed to be only two weeks but she didn't land another spot to stay and Deborah decided that she is quiet and polite, , and works hard enough on the tasks we give her, to warrant keeping her for the full month, especially since we haven't booked any help in September.  Mom is coming for a visit in September.  So in August, between the music and the garden, coming up with daily projects for Patricia and supervising her, we didn't use the sailboat.  I have to revisit my summer plans for next year: plant less, and get to spend more time down at the club when the weather is ideal for sailing.  I hope September will be a good month for that, but we'll also have Mom here for a visit for one week, and will drive to visit Rob, Brian and Jennifer, so it won't be all music and sailing.  I have "Frostbite tennis league", as I do every fall.  September will feel as busy as August did, even with no helper around.  Then we'll have a two week helper in October, a one week helper in November, and by then the garden will be completely put away for the winter.

July 6th. Music and gardening have been the focii of my life for the past month.  I found Shraddha a drummer (Terry) and a bass player (Janis) so we now have a combo of four (Luc is taking sailing lessons with Marnie instead) and we're preparing to do a set at Grossman's three evenings from now on July 9th.  We attended on June 9th and watched Patrick Tevlin play with his Happy Pals; Shraddha got to sing a couple of numbers.  Yoshie arrived on the 16th and turned out to be an excellent house guest and garden helper.  Sol came on the 17th for Father's Day burgers. 
After lots of problems with internet buffering, we finally got a technician out and got our fourth fibreoptic modem.  We've had so many explanations of what could be wrong that it makes my head spin - none of their technicians on the phones seem to be talking on the same page.  But finally - after he left and problems persisted - I discovered that I got better video streaming by simply using a different browser, the Edge browser that is built into Windows 10.  So now I'm using Opera for some connections, and Edge for anything with video.  Too bad none of the technicians could tell us that during all the calls we've made to them over the past two months.
I bought a clarinet and I'm gradually getting better, trying to squeeze in at least a half hour learning session each day.  I got some musicians together for a Dixieland style street band finally, and we've had three rehearsals.  Joey Burk plays tricone steel guitar and James Mason the clarinet; we're hoping Wayne will join us on trombone this coming Sunday.  Last week we were joined by Janis and her friend Julia on drums.  We'll try to play together on July 15th at the gazebo in Rosetta McClain Gardens, at an acoustic instruments "song circle".
On the 25th we helped Jacquie and Don host a Rotary International convention dinner at HYC. 
I supplied seedlings to a lot of friends, and finally got all of mine into the ground, although I still have too many that are in smaller containers than they really need.  We got two truck loads of blue bins filled with expensive growing medium from Adam LeClair who was here for a year and then transferred back to Calgary - hundreds of dollars worth of soil, bins and other extras including herbs and large zucchini plants already growing in them.  Our whole garden is doing extremely well now.  We endured a week-long heat wave that just broke last night after rains that soaked the ground, finally, so the garden will look like Jumanji within the next two weeks.
On the 28th we attended the presentation and CD launch of Shelley Katz' Symphonova, which looks like it has the potential to be a significant new form of delivering music to the masses in small centres across Canada and around the world.
The Noisy Parkers managed a fresh rehearsal last night.  Andrew Chung gave me a serious trumpet lesson and put me back on my old studen 7C mouthpiece, which I almost immediately began to realize will give me more range and stamina than the Back #1 I'd been using.  He identified an air leak in my trumpet, and I repaired that and played it with renewed confidence; I'd been considering buying a new trumpet but he convinced me that there was really nothing wrong with the one I have.  I have trouble using the mutes on it, but perhaps I'll only use the mutes with my cornet, and I'll experiment to see what combination of mouthpiece and mutes works best for that.  The main thing that he taught me was how to get good air flow, and visualize distant points to blow toward for higher notes.
So, the summer is a-marchin' along and I'm staying busy and pleased with the garden and with musical events.  We've hardly had the sailboat out, but we'll do that tomorrow when we help to host the annual visit to HYC by the New Leaf home for intellectually disabled adults and their companion care-givers.  Then perhaps we'll set up a summer series of sailing days with friends who'd enjoy the experience.  We have no more garden helpers until the beginning of August.

June 3rd.  We've had two very good helpers in a row, John Han (Korean) for nine days and Chris Jeppersen (British, from London) for ten days.  They were both five star house guests and helpers, and the garden is in great shape now.  I'll spend most of my summer from here on playing music and tennis.  We have a young Chinese girl named Yoshie coming in mid-June who has spent a lot of time in Australia. 
    We finally got the boat rigged the day before Sailpast, which was yesterday.  It was a beautiful day for a sail, and we enjoyed the day.  The dinner wasn't amazing for the price, but they always hire a DJ and catering services, so all in, with taxes and such, it wasn't much to complain about.  There were tons of leftovers, and we ate some of those for supper today.
    We've had some trouble with the Suzuki.  Age is catching up to it, I guess.  I want to keep it until we have a chance to buy an electric vehicle at a price that makes sense, or a become a subscriber to an auto service that provides self-driving autonomous vehicles that you call up with an uber-like app on your smart phone.  We've put a grand into it in the past month and it is still stalling out on the road with some sort of fuel delivery problem.  Could be a fuel pump or filter, but with so many sensors talking to a computer, the sensors themselves might be at fault, and it isn't easy to know what actually needs to be replaced.
    Stef and Carolina arrived from Tunisia last night.  Carolina is a young Argentinian diplomat stationed in Tunisia, and Stef is her Dutch husband.  We stayed in their large home on an island in the Tigre Delta outside of Buenos Aires two winters ago, so this is a reciprocal couchsurfing stay.  They are super-hosts, with surfers on their list numbering somewhere near a hundred.
    Last Saturday afternoon my jazz combo, the Noisy Parkers (named after Matthew and Barb) played at the Retirement Suites by the Lake.  It was a pleasant way to do a concert, close to home with an appreciative audience, and home in time for supper.  I'm sitting in for Lloyd at the Scarborough Music Lovers Big Band, for their final two rehearsals, and I hope to attract a few of them to play in a "Skeleton Crew" during the summer months while the big band is on hiatus.  Shraddha has built them a new Facebook page, which we hope will re-energize them and get them a few gigs.  They haven't been very active lately beyond playing together in rehearsal every week.  A secret goal is to get enough of them interested in forming a small swing combo for Shraddha to lead.
    On the 6th, Carolina and Stef will move on, and Deborah will visit her mother Sylvia in Montreal.  She's having some medical procedures this spring.  Sol is still well, as far as we can tell, but he doesn't much like to drive anymore.  He still bowls, but I'm not sure how much woodworking he still does - but he made Deborah a bookcase while we were gone this winter, and brought it over to her upon our return.
    Spring photos are here..

May 19th.  Normally I do diary entries about once a month when I'm at home, but this time I let two months slip by.  I got right into sorting seeds, and started my peppers which take a very long time to get large enough for the garden (or my case, the planters, usually).  In April we had a late blast of winter, and we wondered why we'd come home so early; but at least there was musical activity, which had been lacking for us in Costa Rica.  Sol had made Deborah a bookcase, and he delivered it; and Jackie Davies used Sol's sister's paintings for a fundraiser, and invited Deb and Sol and me.
 
Deb spent a few days in Montreal visiting Sylvia and Judi.  Christine Martin had a 40th birthday party at the Tara Inn.  I worked with Shraddha and with Luc, trying to get something happening for Shraddha's tunes, to get her to the stage when she can perform at an open mic, but even more appealing, to collect enough musicians to create a swing combo so she can do dances at the Dovercourt.  I got her a chance to sing with the swing band, but I'm not sure if she'll continue; they just don't play out enough even for me, let alone for her.  They're an excuse for musicians to keep up their chops through a weekly rehearsal, and that's about it.  Shraddha's in Paris this weekend, trying to do live streaming of some songs on FB - I suppose just to say that she has; I'm not sure what the purpose is, actually.  But she'll learn from every moment that she puts herself out there, and it is amusing.  She has a half-hour open mic spot booked at Grossman's in July.

Guitar circle and uke circle have been very hit and miss since we returned, and also through the winter while we were gone - they might evaporate, but they had a good run.  The guitar circle lasted for five years.  It might be time to change things up, form different groups; Ian and Charles have got something going on, a band that is working on specific tunes instead of just exploring and playing different tunes cold all the time.  I will try different musical avenues myself, now.  I tried to organize an east end street band, got space at Don Montgomery CC, but so far not enough musicians have expressed interest, even three that responded to a previous ad.  Musicians are flaky, and it is so difficult to find any with enough ability to keep time, play more than four-chord changes on a chart, or play competently by ear.  I might have to just get out there with my cornet and begin accompanying people at open mics, ad hoc, until I make connections that grow into something better.  Wayne tried to get something going by writing charts and gathering friends, but that doesn't seem to be going anywhere either.  Once a week rehearsal with frequent cancellations is no way to build a performance.  I'll have to collect musicians in my basement, now that it's ready, who can agree on a full four sets of music and then rehearse them and practice them at home until we're ready to play in public.  The Parker combo, after five years of hit and miss rehearsals, is finally at that stage, and we'll do a retirement home on May 26th, but I need musicians who can do that in a matter of two weeks instead of years.  Lord knows I have enough charts collected for a dozen or more sets, whether pop or jazz. 

The Suzuki finally caught up to us, maintenance-wise, after fourteen years.  Still not a terrible cost, but we had to do some brakes and drum work, change the thermostat, and a rocker cover gasket.  Maintenance on our own bodies is still fine.  I have a little arthritis which flares up from my weekly tennis, and bothers my keyboard playing a little.  My doctor was pleased to note that I'd lost eight pounds over the past year, which I attribute to my daily sixteen hour fast while I'm at home, and the hiking around with heavy backpack that we did in Costa Rica.  Tennis started up again, so between that and gardening, I'm getting a little exercise each week.  We get out for dinners that are almost routine each year at this time: two power squadron dinners, an RTO luncheon, "sausage night" with the Sortwells, etc.  Lissie was here for a visit over the lunch hour yesterday.

Workaway guest Micaela Patano arrived on April 11th for two weeks, but the weather was horrible and she was more or less confined to the house.  She did housework with Deborah, mostly; after six nights, she decided to go and stay with her boyfriend's aunt and uncle instead, to kill the final week before leaving for Comox.  She would have been far from Toronto, out in Concord, but at least she wouldn't do any work; I thought she wanted to explore the city where she was born, but that didn't work out for her.  Afterward she wanted a reference, but she didn't take the lead by writing one for us and she hasn't written to me directly, so she's the first helper I haven't written a reference for - but she worked hard while she was here, in fairly miserable circumstances for her.  In May we had a Korean fellow, Jonghyn Han ("Jon") who was a very hard worker, polite and friendly.  We were pleased to have him, and got the yard and garden whipped into shape.  I was surprised that he didn't spend more time exploring the city as a tourist, but he was a fine house guest so it didn't cause us undue concern.  We'll see him through the spring - he wants to go for a sail, and also attend our jazz gig at the retirement home. 

April 23rd.  We visited Luc and Marnie's house for the first time - right across the street from Arnd and Stefanie's old house.  Luc has a beautiful old 1881 Bechstein 6' 10" grand piano in his long narrow living room, that he had restored.  He'd searched for six months to find just the right piano.  I'm envious, but realistically, it is too much volume for a small house, unless perhaps you use drapes and carpet to dampen the sound.  It works if you play trumpet or similar instruments with it, but not guitars or unamplified voice; and it isn't portable, obviously. But Shaddha came over as well, and we sang and played a few tunes: torchy ballads, jazz standards, a Spanish theme song from a Netflix series, stuff like that.  Good fun, and a good break from the 60's-70's repertoire of the guitar circle.  Admittedly, it isn't the music that Elly, Ian and Charles might enjoy, but they weren't there; perhaps the guitar circle group will split along divergent musical tastes, which might be fun for me - more challenging material, and more complex and interesting older songs

On April 22nd we took the tarp off the boat and did topsides cleaning and bottom paint.  I serviced the outboard and we mounted it.  We splashed the boat at the club on the 28th, and I also did a shift with Don Davies in the tow boat.  Finally in May the grass turned green and the garden came back to life.  We've enjoyed tulips, which arrived late.  In the week ahead we'll host another helper from Britain, Chris Jeppesen, and we'll focus on cleaning and commissioning the sailboat in time for Sailpast on June 2nd.


     Note: This is my digital diary.  It allows friends and family to check in if they're wondering what's going on in our lives - 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 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.