Some excellent reading & music

Texture magazines

This morning, in my long run which effectively completes my training for the half marathon in Montreal on September 25, I ran with my Eers earbuds in playing this week’s Discover Weekly playlist put together by Spotify.  This is exceptional for me to run with music but since I needed to stretch my distance out and I would be running alone for two hours without a companion, I thought that doing this to jazz music would help “diminuer les ennuies”.  And so it did – I finished 16 km of running with 8 songs left still unplayed in the 30 song playlist.  If you use Spotify, clicking on the previous link will open up the playlist that I enjoyed this morning.

After returning home and being greeted as a hero by Carol for accomplishing such a distance (my training for this major run next Sunday has been, admittedly, spotty, I showered, brunched (oh, how I love running for the way that it makes everything taste better) and then rested my weary bones with some reading.  In a similar manner that I use Spotify to find any and all music that I want to listen to, just this week, I signed up for the magazine service put out by Rogers which gives me unlimited access to a whole panoply of magazines.  My iPad is the ideal device to read on.  I have these magazines listed as My Favourites: Bicycling; Canadian Business; Canadian Cycling; Canadian Running; Consumer Reports; L’actualité; National Geographic plus these from same publisher – History, & Traveller. Continuing: New York Magazine; Popular Mechanics; Québec Science; Popular Science; Rolling Stone; Smithsonian; The Atlantic; Travel & Leisure; Vanity Fair; Vélo Mag; Wired; The Official Program of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and, finally, Zoomer.  Missing from this list are weekly or bi-weekly magazines like Time, Newsweek, McLeans, The New Yorker, Billboard and People.  I opted for the Basic $9.99 per month subscription that includes only the monthly magazines.  From a point of view of costs, I simply cancelled my New York Times digital subscription (too much of the American election) which cost me $14.99 per month.  I am quite happy that the $10 per month gives me access to a fair slate of Canadian content including magazines en français that will help me expand my vocabulary.

Am I reading?  Yes!  Besides the reading from the library, much of this also coming across my iPad as e-books from the Montreal Library, the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Québec, and the Ontario Public Library system.  Thank you Baysville Library for access to the e-book wealth of an entire province.  My Goodreads links to my updated reading list with very short reviews for my completed books.

Now back to Québec Science magazine’s fascinating article on the history of the Saint Lawrence river.


Mountain top reading

Mount Royal picnic site

Me voici dans les environs ou il me plait prendre mon petit-dejeuner-le-matin de temps en temps.  L’arbre dont son nom j’ignore (en francais je viens d’apprendre les noms des arbres et c’est un bouleau!) Je continue – cette arbre, le bouleau, est fixe dans une niche [ je pense c’est le bon mot] entre un plateau [??] de roche ou je me trouve assis.

[Hey, my incredibly awkward beginning to this blog – in the original version – seems to flow much better when I expressed it en francais.  Malheureusement, je suis assis devant le clavier chez mes parents et icitte, les accents, grave et aigu, les tres mignons cedilles sur les c, sont cachees qq-part et c’est pas ecrire en francais sans les accents. Pas de tout, pas de tout, pas de tout.  Et puis….. je retourne a mon originally-blogged language which is Capital E-nglish (with a little help from our German friends).]

[This is the original beginning to the mountain-top reading blog of Sunday, August 4 re-written when I saw that the original beginning had language that just-didn’t-flow, way-too many commas and well, it just didn’t please me in the way that this place that I sometimes eat breakfast at and linger and read at…not a great linguistic construct, that, but at least it’s a parallel construct…this place pleases me, but the description, not-at-all.  Here, I’ll bring my breakfast hot-from-home, and, when my schedule permits, I continue here and read books.  The birch tree which is rooted right in the middle in a small space between this large flat rock reminds me of a large rock along the Dickie Lake Road which has a similar birch growing, somehow, in a small space.  At first glance, both trees – the Dickie Lake birch and the one pictured here – seem to be growing right out of the rock.

The view from my picnic table looks down over a large picnic area which is situated just above (or behind) the chalet and the belvedere.   I can sometimes be distracted by others in the vicinity doing various martial arts, or throwing frisbees or playing catch with their kids.  But in the morning, at 8:30am,  it has the advantage of bird sounds and amazing light, and I climbed maybe 160 metres of elevation (with my bicycle) to get here, so I have an appetite and am already somewhat focused for my reading.  Not many users in this large area in the morning and the other users of this area, if any, are usually alone and into their own meditative pursuits.

What am I reading up here?  Well, if it’s in my Goodreads recently, I may have read parts of it here.  Last summer, which was before I discovered the advantages of this particular picnic site spot, I was bringing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on my bike rides up the mountain.  But this summer and fall, I’m reading novels – literature, I hope.  Right now I’m reading a Michael Crummey novel set in the fictional outport of Paradise Deep in Newfoundland.  And then I have my regular 4 track Bible reading program which in September has me in Isaiah, Proverbs, Luke and Hebrews (some top notch Biblical writing, to be sure).  I’ve been reading a 1950’s Short History of Christianity by Martin Marty and “Credo” by Hans Kung.  Books like that I’m not reading in a hurry, but at a pace where I can contemplate what the author is really saying.  There is another book that is so complicated that I have to be in a spot where I can really concentrate before I can make any progress in aligning my thinking with that of the author.  This would be my best reading spot and probably the one where I am least likely to fall asleep mid-page.

And this is me re-establishing my Sunday blog on the Labour Day weekend, 2016.

Prepared for a cottage vacation



The above view is a good summary of what I expect of my 10 or so days at the cottage this summer.  Taken from the hammock where I read, read, read, it looks over the water where I swim, swim, swim and when conditions are right – Windy, mais pas TROP venteuse – I set out on my Laser sailboat.

Today, I am all packed, as when I did the wash yesterday I assembled the appropriate clothes directly into my suitcase.  I kept telling myself that this year I will keep my expectations of what I am going to do at the cottage simple – besides the above, we’ll be eating, running or walking a lot (1/2 marathon to prepare for this fall) and after expending all that energy, sleeping so soundly, like only the cottage environment allows me to do.

Other years I may have included non-traditional cottage tasks, which strangely, I never accomplished.  Some of them:  Learning another language, making speakers – an alternative sound system for my truck, doing calling for an August market (this year it is Sept. 10); so many projects / so little time – the cottage is not conducive for THAT!

It is always a pleasure to make the 6-8 hour drive to the cottage.  Because of the anticipation.  Passing familiar places that you just see once a year.  Much of the route is itself cottage country.  Once past Ottawa we’ll be passing lakes on the left and the right, past Round Lake (Camp Mishewah – camp of my youth), through Algonquin Park, and stopping to provision along the way (but not over-doing the food purchases this year).

And arriving – unloading the trunk – it is all going to be in the car trunk this year – but for the canoe paddle which must go in the back seat. It will be such a quick unload; and then we’ll put clothes in a drawer and pull out one of three bathing suits and swim in the lake – just for fun – we’ll leave the laps of exercise up and down the shore for tomorrow.

To throw you off my trail a bit...
To throw you off my trail a bit…

Bees welcome here

Butterfly on salvia sauge flower


There are small things that make me disproportionately happy.  A bee, whether bumbly or the honey-making variety, checking out the flowers in my garden pollinates satisfaction in my soul, and it has come to be one of the goals of my gardening.

The bee magnet of my garden, without contest is the salvia sauge.  At the peak of its flowering, perhaps mid-June, the small violet flowers – last year more toward purple, this year closer to blue – are beautiful to look at.  It is a beauty whose glory lies in the collectivity.  Go to the Mandevilla flower if you want a solo star, but the bees and the butterflies won’t come for these more tropical blooms, they come to work on the small, grouped flowers of the salvia sauge.

Today, they are a month past their prime, but they are more than a fleeting attraction for these industrious insects, they are a regular stop on the bee tour of the neighbourhood.  I could run to get a camera, because at the moment that I am writing, past 4 pm, a honey bee works at the white flowers of my prolific genoa basil plants.  If this is not enough, a bumble bee now works the salvia sauge and makes passing acquaintance with the basil, as well.

God has ordained Sundays as my day of rest.  As an adult, I acknowledge my need for a day set apart unto the Lord.  God is not a man that he should slumber…

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.

Ps. 121: 4-8 ESV

Bright view

 A bright view to light the cold, rainy days to come…

…for where there is light, beauty will rise from the earth. Spring-hope, summer-fruition, will come again.

I have seen this light, tasted the fruit, thus I believe. Blessed are those who have this bright view faith in midst of dark days.

Nature will succeed

…with or without my help.


    Much of my garden work (serenity therapy) in the spring season involves taking the life that is already happening and arranging it so that it might have a future.  So far in May / June 2015 I have moved around plenty of sweet pea and today I played God with a maple seedling which had established itself in the wrong neighbourhood.  My street is lined with maples and all the cars, sidewalks and fertile soil that happens to fall under those maple branches were littered with billions (my block alone must account for millions) of maple keys.  Some windy day brought keys into the in-ground planter in my back terrace that the wall-climbing vine happens to draw life from.  It’s not a spot that has resources to expend on anything other than said vine, but the maple sapling that sprang into life here had already 8 fully-developed leaves balanced above its crooked trunk before I took notice of it.  I imagined a future for it, but certainly not there – a mere 4 inches from the brick wall.   I called into service a rather large pail, cut some drainage holes in the bottom, got a spade under the still compact root ball and introduced the maple to its new interim home.

I don’t have a history of tree-sapling transplantation, but my father, while he owned his two acres of Waterloo Township (to become South Woolwich eventually) transplanted many maples, many pines, willows, fruit trees and a black walnut tree or two.  He loves elderberries and I believe he even imported a bush or two to grow at the edge of the backyard swamp, hoping that he would enjoy better access to his beloved pie-berries.  I seem to remember that the elderberry bush took in the damp soil there, but no person was fortunate enough to enjoy the wild fruits as the sometimes pond / swamp neighbourhood was the delight of many birds and one or more of those species enjoyed the elderberries while they were still green.  By the way, happy father’s day 2015, dad!  I’ll be calling you before supper tonight and comparing my elderberry memories with yours.

This spring I’ve been transplanting like never before.  It’s been 5 or 6 years since I planted my first dollar-store Life_from_a_crackpacket of sweet pea seeds.  Since then I’ve been reaping dividends on that investment as the vines which climb the fence bordering my planters hold their seed pods through the winter and then self-seed the following year. Last year McGill put up a huge trellised barrier between the driveway running past my garden and the little-used terrace area of the student residence.  My imagination soon populated the barrier with the surplus sweet pea plants that literally sprang up out of the cracks between paving stones, but the reality that I had to overcome was that, on the McGill side, there was 12 inches of concrete at the base of the trellis and on my side there was the driveway and then 30 inches of concrete before the trellis structure began.  I called into action some discarded corrugated plastic drainage pipe which I cut open and tucked one side between the top of the concrete and the bottom of the trellis.  This hanging planter could hold plenty of soil for the sweet pea vines that I foresaw taking over this huge trellised square footage.  The trellis panels, all greenish-yellow treated wood, were not entirely an eyesore, but the sweat peas, if they could wind their way up and eventually dominate the structure, would definitely improve upon my terrace view.  I succeeded in this plan to a small extent, but the drainage-pipe planters didn’t hold up so well and soon looked shabby so I’ve decided to take a different tack this second year.  It involves a bit of guerrilla gardening as I am placing small planters sitting on the 12 inches of concrete on the McGill side of the wall.  I see that the sprinkler hose has been set up by McGill (not in use yet due to almost daily rain this spring) so my vines, still crouched at the bottom of the trellis wall will enjoy consistent watering through the heat of the summer.  Some of the candidate sweet pea vines that I am using to conquer McGill’s wall sprang from seeds that took root between the paving stones on my garden terrace.  Left alone these vines would never get to the stage where they climb the adjacent fence as when the heat of summer comes the vines would be scorched off, having very little root to draw water from.  I’ve found that when I pull these plants from the cracks they have enough of a root structure that they can be transplanted into the planters which, once proven, will make their way to the base of the wall.  It takes a special kind of will-to-live to spring up in a crack and I’m counting on that same vitality that nature has in spades to be put to use to improve my neighbourhood.