Note: This is my digital diary. 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. 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.
slideshow of garden flowers and produce, and other topics
December 25th, Christmas Day. For the balance of October
we helped Evan and Connie set up their cradle, attended haul-out
to give them confidence, and taught them to wrap the boat in
tarps for the winter. They had a scare at Haul-out when
the sling crew got the back sling under the motor stub and
didn't realize it until the boat was in the air. It was
dusk, they were the last boat, and one assumes the crew were
tired and eager to go home, but it was still a dangerous moment
for the integrity of the hull. I was already waiting by
the cradle for the boat to arrive, and it hadn't occurred to me
that the sling crew wouldn't put the rear sling on the marks
we'd indicated. They'd always done it correctly in
On the 22nd we got Winston to do oil changes
on the RAV and the truck, but he took about four hours and
didn't have or couldn't find the simple set of tools he
needed. I took lots from my own tool boxes, and helped
him, but it seemed that he just doesn't have his wits about him
anymore. His garage is in disarray, and time has run out
for him to get it all organized again, I suspect. One
vehicle got a new filter but we had to return the other.
I played my last house league games, and we
got our flu and our seventh covid shots. We had regular
dinners every week or so with the three couples we usually do
those with, and we began bringing in produce: peppers in pots,
cherry tomatoes, etc. We cleared our eaves and put the
back door on. Dr. Nicholas gave me another stamp of
approval for my endocrinology test results. On Nov 18th
Samuel Troncoso from Chile arrived for the afternoon for turkey
soup and a visit. He was studying English downtown for a
month. That evening we saw Connie Kaldor live at St.
Paul's church on our old street, at an Acoustic Harvest concert.
On Dec 6th we performed our second annual
Holly Jolly concert at the community centre. We still
don't have the promised video from the concert (same problem the
previous year). We had a roti re-connection with Moe and
Jennifer, and attended a semi-annual seasonal dinner at Jackie
and Don's. We went to the travel clinic and got treated like
pin-cushions, having many vaccine updates. I think we've
had ten in the past two months, some in preparation for our
winter escape and others just for general health because
previous ones were ten years or more before. I converted
my RRSP to a RRIF because I'm now 71, and that is
required. Who knows why?
We're having a quiet Christmas, by
choice. The temperature is unusually balmy. There
will be highs of six and seven all week, and we will go each day
to Rosetta McClain to stretch our legs by walking the pathways,
and feed the squirrels. It's the only place we know around
here that we can find the aggressive little American red
squirrel along with the Eastern Greys, which are more often
black than grey. I enjoy them both, with a slight
preference for the red squirrels but the grey squirrels are fat
and bushy, well fed by visitors (and by us) so they are
particularly handsome with their gray and brown coats and
luxuriously bushy tails. There are also lots of Northern
flying squirrels in Ontario but we never see them because they
are nocturnal. I'm not sure if any live at Rosetta
McClain. We should have Eastern chipmunks as well, one of
five kinds of chipmunk in Canada, but we rarely ever see
any. Eastern greys are ubiquitous at our house, where they
treat the phone and internet cables behind our house as a
We'll still have two music events for this
week between Christmas and the New Year, and then the
four-a-week routine will return. On New Year's Day
afternoon we'll attend the annual levee at HYC. Then our
minds will stray toward our month in Guadalajara, which will be
our winter escape this year. We'll begin planning and
packing well in advance.
Oct 15th. On the 4th we taught Connie
and Evan how to drop the mast, wrap it and put it on the mast
rack. On the 8th we had a Thanksgiving dinner at HYC, in
the tradition of Barb Bruyea. The tradition disappeared
during the pandemic, and was restored by Linda Jarrett, who
bought two 20 lb turkeys. All the guests brought side
dishes. Deborah cooked up one of our squashes to
contribute. The next day we had another turkey that Deb
cooked for my birthday, and we invited Ian and Ursula; however,
the bottom element of our oven cracked (the crack had begun six
months earlier) and we had to take our turkey to their house for
Ursula to finished it, but we had a good dinner and game of
Chicken Foot back at our house. On the 11th Lissie and
Noah were here for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We
sat on our verge while Noah slept in the car, and ate birthday
cake that Ursula brought me the day before.
On Friday the 13th we dressed up a bit for a
New Members party at HYC, which Connie and Evan attended.
There were fifteen new couples in the club this year, about a
ten percent turn-over of members. We're all getting
On Saturday the 14th we took the subway
across the city to the Old Mill Hotel, where we played fourteen
tunes for Ian Darragh's birthday party. There was a grand
piano in the Home Smith Bar, so I played that and only took my
trumpet and melodica along. Malcolm and Elizabeth joined
us, and Ian sat in for all the tunes with his guitar and with
his flute for one of them. It was fun, and I still have
chops on the piano, but we found that the grand piano was a
little too loud to accompany the strings - a modern keyboard is
preferable, because it has volume control, is more portable and
can generate other sounds besides piano.
It has finally turned cool, especially in the
mornings, but temperatures remain fairly high now and probably
for the balance of October, so I haven't stripped the tomato
plants or taken much else of the garden apart. I'll try to
do a little each day. Rumour has it that temperatures will
be higher than normal right up to Christmas because of another
massive El Nino. Apart from the garden and a few medical
appts (we had our seventh covid "update" booster last Thursday)
there won't be a lot going on from here until a BCC/BBNC
Christmas concert scheduled for December 6th, at which we may do
some of the same tunes we did for Ian's party, along with some
others that the BBNC Glee Club has been practicing.
Oct 1st. Toronto: our Goldilocks summer continues into October - daily highs of 25 (27 forecast for tomorrow), nights in the high teens (we continue to sleep with the bedroom window open) and no downward slide forecast until almost Thanksgiving. There is an annual wave of mauve asters in my garden, but we're still harvesting much of our supper each day with more maturing. Beans, carrots, squash, indeterminate cherry tomatoes...no let-up. Deb still picks a litre of raspberries each day.
Yesterday we drove to Lakefield Park Campground (trailer park) and played music with the HYC guys for three hours. Two hours drive each way plus packing, setting up, tearing down and unpacking made it a pretty full day. The park residents enjoyed it. They brought their camping chairs to Carlo's parking area and the street past his trailer and applauded generously. At four we quit because the campground kids dressed up and visited every site to do trick-or-treat. It's a month early, but the park shuts down and the community of people there breaks up for the winter, so this is an annual celebration for them and for the kids.
Sept 22nd. I'm attending (via Zoom) my
last HYC budget meeting and Elections meeting as I write this.
On Sept 11th we had our last official sail on No Egrets,
coaching the new owners on their first sail. We will have
to teach them how to drop the mast in October, be there for them
as the boat gets hauled out, and launched in the spring.
We will be "Life Members" at HYC going
forward, able to enjoy the facilities without keeping up boat
maintenance and expense or paying any fees. It feels odd
to go down and see No Egrets at her slip, like seeing an old
friend or a family member that no longer lives with you.
We took Ian and Elizabeth there for a hike around the island and
a BBQ burger on the 16th.
On the 17th Lionel and Silvia arrived.
Lili and Delio joined us for supper and crockinole on the 18th,
and on the 19th they took Lionel and Silvia kayaking. On
the 19th L and S hiked the 5.3 mile Rouge Valley loop trail up
one side of the river and down the other, and then made Deb and
me a tasty dinner, in true couch-surfer tradition.
Apart from that, as Deborah wrote to Silken
earlier today, "We are fine - doing music/jams 3+
times week, keeping fit with either tennis (Steve) or zoom
classes (me). Enjoying the garden produce - we are having an
amazing raspberry production this year, and tomatoes, zucchinis,
onions, beans galore, buttercup and butternut squashes, carrots,
swiss chard, amaranth/callaloo, lettuce, kale, anise/fennel, a
variety of hot peppers, ever-bearing strawberries,
honeyberries/haskaps and arugula."
Sept 24th I took apart all my squash vines and
delivered a wheelbarrow load of buttercup and
butternut winter squashes to the back door for
Meteorologists are scratching their heads
over the summer we've had. There have been heat
emergencies, fires, floods and climate trauma all over the
world, including Canada, but not in Toronto. This has
been Goldilocks summer - "not too hot, not too cold, but just
right" - and the harvest is astonishing and bountiful.
The usual July heat wave didn't arrive until September, and
August temperatures are extending right now into October.
Aug 28th. In the past week we
completed the sale and transfer of ownership of our sailboat to
Connie Spence and Evan Jones. We're still providing
after-sale support to the new buyers, mentoring them into
their new club, etc. We'll revert to "Life Membership".
I took apart the squash pyramid made with old
wooden ladders, and harvested eight buttercup squashes from
it. I have another dozen on the gazebo frame in the main
garden and two or three more in the new middle bed in the lawn,
plus about eight butternut squashes. The summer squash are
almost finished but there are a few still coming.
Lionel and Silvia from Australia and Uruguay
will come for a visit for three days in September, arriving on
On International Play Music on the Front
Porch day five of us from the string band played in the Rosetta
McClain gazebo for a couple of hours from one until three, until
another group showed up to hold an engagement party.
They'd arranged to meet there at two but heavy rain kept many of
them away until almost three, so the early arrivals became an
audience for us, which was kinda fun.
July 8th. We served quesadilla to Don
and Jackie on May 20th. In June Jackie fell and broke an ankle, and some toes in the
other foot, as well as spraining it. She'll be getting
the cast off next Wednesday, after a month. She already
had a pin in the other ankle when she broke her leg in Malawi
a decade ago.
We got our squashes started, along
with many other plants, but the packet of buttercup squash seeds
seemed to be a mishmash of cucumber and yellow crook necked
squash rather than vining winter squash- which of course, we
only learned by early July when they grew enough to be
identified or to begin to fruit. On May 27th we put out
the cucumber, pepper and tomato seedlings. We ate
delicious sweet fresh green peas through the month of June and
that harvest continues; some plants are aging out now and I'll
replace them with more bush beans or tomato seedlings that are
too crowded. We've enjoyed hascaps for two months,
raspberries in late June and now July, including the golden
raspberries on the cane from Davin that is finally producing,
and strawberries that came from Marg's garden.
On the same day, we watched Christoph Chung
perform at St. Mary Magdelene church, trying to fundraise for
his attendance at Julliard. Today Andrew told me that he'd
achieved 80% of his goal, with the help of some recent private
donors. [Update: July 16th, Andrew says Christoph has achieved
his funding goal with the help of a couple of private wealthy
In early June we finally got the new AMSF
account set up for IECA funds to finance the schoolteacher's
salary; Eleanor came to our end of the city to visit her
favourite hairdresser, and stopped at our house to sign the
Music continued, six times a week for me
including two Jamulus sessions with Anne, and once a week with
the guys at the yacht club.
Tennis continued twice a week, but often both
games happened on a Monday. On the 3rd we had dinner at
We stepped our mast on the 7th, and attended
Sailpast on the 10th. We attended Ian Darragh's
presentation about the park he loves below his balcony.
Allen Scobie gave me a mini 5 string
"traveler's" banjo. I put a set of standard G strings on
it and a lower bridge - it came with a 5/8ths and needed a
1/2". It had to be tuned in C, and I'm not that thrilled
with it. I might research and source nylgut strings with
the correct gauges to tune it in A, which would work for playing
along to fiddle tunes in A and D. It is also easy to use
to learn claw hammer style. I might begin recording 5 string and tenor banjo and
guitar tunes just to have some videos of what I've
accomplished with those instruments; maybe also some fiddle
tunes, before I get old and inept.
We planted out squashes and cukes on the
13th, and had a ride on an electric "Trishaw" rickshaw that
morning as well.
We finally got rid of our copper phone line
after weeks of crackle; everything in the house is now fibe.
On the 23rd I bought income producing stocks
for the IECA acct, which was good timing. The market was
lower on that day, so now I'm showing a capital gain as well as
more income than we'd have had from a higher price. We
managed to get more stocks for the same amount of money.
Smoke from Quebec forest fires forced us to
close windows and begin using our air conditioners, and we also
bought an air purifier for the bedroom - I didn't like the
thought of breathing in particulates all night. Under PM
2.5 is the particulate size to worry about; our purifier cleans
down to PM 0.1 or 0.01, I forget which. The AQI (air
quality index) in Canada goes from 1 to 10+; we were at 6 and 7
for several days, and at 10 or 10+ for one day. Lately it
has been 2 and 3, which is considered low risk.
On our anniversary, July 1st, we went to
Arc's second annual Canada Day music party in Pickering.
Our Sunday family zoom calls continue. Medical appts have
been unconcerning and tests all positive, and today we'll get
another set of orthotics. Life proceeds in a
straightforward and generally unstressful way.
May 18th. By the end of 2022 the airlines were still in a
terrible mess of cancelled flights, stranded passengers,
ruined vacations and lost luggage. We'd had five
vaccinations for covid by the end of 2022 and had experienced
a fairly mild case of it ourselves in July 2022 - in addition
to one in January of 2021, I believe, that happened before
they were diagnosing the virus. That bout resulted in
organ damage for me, and triggered a rapid escalation of type
2 diabetes. We got flu vaccine both years as well, and
although covid had been increasing in China subsequent to
their lifting of lockdowns and restrictions, we hadn't seen a
spread of new and dangerous variants yet.
We decided to take a chance, and
indulge in some "revenge travel" - a current term for the
surge in people taking flights to vacation destinations.
The first obstacle was getting Deb's passport renewed -
staffing issues and long line-ups and wait times threatened to
scuttle any plans we'd dream up, but eventually everything
settled and we were able to obtain her passport.
Then there was the question of
choosing a destination. I wanted a place where I could
walk around a lot in shirtsleeves and that had enough
activities of interest to keep me from getting bored, which
happens to me on beach vacations if I'm not scuba
diving. We're both getting a little old for scuba
diving. So the museums, zoos and botanical gardens of
Mexico City seemed appealing. I'd learned how many
museums there are in the city, and that they are relatively
cheap and often free. The city is safe compared to many
other cities and to some other parts of Mexico, the people are
gracious and helpful, and the public transit system is
extensive and inexpensive.
We spent 33 days there from January 31st to
March 5th, and came home to spend a week building our large
album of trip photos and a
long diary entry.
Upon our arrival, we were confronted with a
snow storm and a driveway to shovel out, but our friends had
graciously fed our cat, shoveled a path for the mailman, and
checked on the house regularly in our absence. We
attended our music groups, which had survived our absence; Arc
and Linda kept the Wednesday evening one going. I have
six going throughout the week, including two on Jamulus with
Ann Delong, and one at the yacht club with Don, Carlos, Paul
and Martin. Deb joins me for in-person musical
activities three times a week at the community centre.
We chatted with Lily and Delio at our first
evening back, and made plans to meet on Thursday evenings to
speak Spanish socially for one hour, to melt away my frozen
oral Spanish speaking ability. We kept it up weekly with
games and conversation. I resumed my Monday evening
Meet-Ups to get more Spanish practice. Laurence and Joan
came for dinner upon their arrival home from Baja, and in
April we went to their house.
We tried to open a parallel AMSF acct at
iTrade to manage the cash infusion from Etta Snow's bequest,
but were faced with months of red tape and delay over their
cautious approach and lack of staff, who I assume were still
all working at home. Many requests that I made to move
the process along were met with "crickets" for weeks at a
In April Deb made her version of a
quesadilla in a pan which could be sliced and served with a
spatula. We had the Sortwells for dinner to test the
dish, and it was a success. We went for a sixth covid
We began yard work when the snow melted
away, took the tarps off the boat and got gas for the
outboard, serviced it and started it up. We launched on
the 29th, and I got to work the registration desk. I
germinated peas and planted them. Our green onions were
an early success as always, and I seeded lettuce and
radishes. We ate kale from plants that came back on
their own from the previous year's stalks.
In May I had a very successful medical with
Dr. Nicholas, continuing my careful diet and sixteen hour
daily fast. We mowed the lawns for the first and second
time, set up the back patio and opened the umbrellas.
Then it got cold again, but some of my beans began to sprout,
so I kept them covered to fend off the risk of frost.
Greg and Christine came for Deb's quesadilla and we taught
them to play Farkle. It has been a good month so
far. We tend to lean toward "retiring in place", not
moving to a nicer climate or better surroundings. It is
difficult to imagine that we'd be better off anywhere else, in
terms of climate, nearby access to shopping and medical/dental
needs, and a musical community. Now we just have to get
the boat sold, maybe also the truck, and spend more time
traveling locally, camping and playing campfire music, or
doing gazebo performances at Rosetta McLain gardens during the
warm summer days.