Thursday, July 2, 2015

Full Buck Moon: July

July is the quintessential month of summer. Its full moon is known as Thunder Moon or Summer Moon, but its most common name is Buck Moon, to reflect the fact that bucks in the North American wilderness are beginning to grow new antlers - a vision of elegance and strength resulting from the ever-changing cycle of life.

Some bucks in honour of the the Full Buck moon:

Canada 2011 Native American Niobium Full Moons #1 - Buck Moon Deer $5 Pure Silver & Niobium BiMetallic Proof

2004 Silver $5 coin

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."

"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." I love that John Lennon quote! So apropos for sailing vacations.

Winds blasting to 40 and 50 kms an hour delayed our departure and changed our destination. Five days in Wilson New York turned into three days on Toronto Island. Not exactly what we planned, but...  love those island views!

Taking the helm on the way over, I kept pointing Yondering toward the island when we were on a starboard tack. Losing the wind when I steered in the direction I wanted to go. Telling myself, "Remember... let the wind fill your sails. It may take longer to get to where you are going, but isn't this nice, what's your hurry?" Yes, indeed.

Instead of our usual anchorage we tucked in around the corner to a slip park-side at QCYC. As soon as we were tied up we cycled one end of the island to the other, taking in the sites. Out to Hanlon's Point, out on the Pier, along the boardwalk, through Ward's, back over the bridge to Algonquin. Stopping here and there to enjoy the sights and walk the bikes. The plaque at Hanlon's reminding visitors that this is where Babe Ruth hit the first home run of his professional career. A symphony of sound: gulls reading graffiti on the pier shouting the carved hearts of lovers' names. The clackety-clack of the boardwalk as our tires play the keys. Chimes in gardens.

Watching the sun set from the cockpit as it changes into a sparkling view of the city skyline. The view of the city from the island is so spectacular I'm surprised it isn't over-crowded with visitors.

Later enjoying a bacon wrapped filet mignon with crumbled blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, roasted potatoes with dill, salad greens. Meals after a day spent outdoors taste so much better, don't you find?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

M dock.... garden?

This spring, it had become apparent that the garden at the base of M dock desperately needed some rejuvenation.  This fact was noticed by my next-dock-neighbour Laura B who talked to slip-mates, and then went to the Board with a proposal for renewal.  A call for volunteers and donations of plants and supplies went out – and quite a number of club members ended up in garden gloves one sunny morning, with shovels and trowels in hand.  Hours later, there was a dramatic difference.  The neglected space was beautiful again, with native plants for pollinators, new branches for birds to nest in, and colourful perennials to brighten the day.

The spirit of the club was so evident to all that morning as we worked side-by-side. The concept of "self-help" was demonstrated in the"what can I do for my club" action taken by these many members.  After the groundwork the night before, (several hours of weeding and tilling the soil to prepare it for planting by Laura and Ed) over a dozen club members participated in the project.

I donated a mugho pine and several coreopsis... plants I'd put in my home garden if it were sunnier.

All docks were represented with members offering donations of plants and/or the needed materials such as soil, sod and mulch in addition to their time and effort.  Many hands truly made light work.  It took some effort and we had to get our hands dirty but, we all had a chance to chat and get to know each other a bit better while having fun. We made our small corner of the world a better place for all to enjoy, members and guests alike.

Oh yes, Laura B. also prepared a very tasty drink called a Strawberry Shrub 
(a popular cooling beverage in Victorian times.)
4 C sliced and crushed strawberries
1 - 1 1/2 C of sugar (to taste)
1 cup of vinegar 

Combine the crushed strawberries and sugar.  Stir well and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to bring out the juices. In a medium saucepan bring the mixture to a low simmer for 10 minutes.  Near the end of the simmer add the vinegar.  Let cool then strain out the solids in a very fine strainer.  Refrigerate the syrup (should yield approx. 2C).  To use, pour into a pitcher, add Perrier or your favourite sparkling water, add ice and enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

To Have and To Hold

Since picking up the ukulele a couple of months ago, I’ve been fairly diligent about setting aside time to play most days.

The Scarborough Uke Jam (SUJ) is great  because I can play along and mostly people turn a forgiving eye and ear to my learners’  gaffes.  Blog TO mentions it as one of the Top 5 places to learn ukulele in Toronto.

I've been enjoying learning how to play this accessible instrument, but mostly I've been trying to teach myself via books and the internet. You Tube has been such a magic treasure chest, with Ukulele MikeCynthia Lynn, Ukulele Play Along, and some very talented players to inspire.

I wanted to accelerate my learning a bit, so signed up for a beginners workshop in June, taught by Paul B., the same person who leads the SUJ.

There is a saying, “practise makes permanent” and it’s true. My self-taught persistence has ingrained habits that are proving hard to break. At the first session of the workshop, Paul B. pointed out to me that how I was holding the ukulele neck with my left hand could make it difficult to change chords without a pause. When I tried the new position it seemed obvious why it would work better, but try as I might, I keep sliding back to the old fingering.

Here’s some good online advice I’ve come across about holding the instrument:
- Paul B. on You Tube giving a demo (he was the instructor at the beginners workshop and leads the Uke Jam at the Stone Cottage)
- holding exercises ("you don't want to be thinking about gravity when you should be thinking about music.")

So I am trying to bring the same level of awareness I’ve developed in yoga to how I hold the ukulele, but it is frustrating to have to continually remind myself to reposition the left hand. Lately, more than once I have fantasized about taking my cute little soprano and smashing it to bits, rock star style. Then I take a deep breath and remind myself about non-violence and non-attachment and try to refocus on the music.

After all, it’s about the music, right? Relax, find the notes, feel the rhythm.  

As to the question of how to hold the uke, the most important thing is to pick it up in the first place.