Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CANADIAN ICONS - "the bun" and Gordon

In my post REALITY CHECK  (click to read, I'll wait)...

I wrote about ageing, Justin Bieber aka "the bun" (yes the sweater in the picture is that old) and his memoir, and ended the post with, "I'm waiting for his memoirs. I hear their coming out next week. That should be exciting!"


The concept alone cracks me up. Watch it for a laugh. It's hysterical!

Friday, October 22, 2010


I have been back to Ontario since Oct 5th and I must admit I'm pining for the island. Though the lake, which I am so fortunate to live near, is beautiful, I find myself looking for signs of life: a spray of water of a whale cruising through the straight, the barking of the sea lions basking in the sun, the curious gaze of playful seals checking me out at dockside, the opportunistic bald eagles keeping watch at Seymour Narrows for fish that have been churned up to the surface by the furious waters, the drama of the seals and salmon as they fight for life at Miracle Beach and the comings and goings of seaplanes, barges, fishing boats, sea taxi's and zodiacs.
Curious seal at the float homes in Victoria
Lake Ontario, in comparison, is my meditative place even in stormy weather and I have yet to slip into the closure that fall brings. I have been to the lake only once since my return probably because of this. Part of me wants to keep the activity alive, but I know that that's not possible. It is the nature of nature to change and I resist it every year.
on our hike to Elk falls
Only this year I look outside myself, beyond the lake for mountains covered in coniferous green in the distance as far as the eye can see assuring me that only wild things live there. But, to the immediate south the lake dips into the horizon, the lights from the distant Niagara region to the south-west glimmer at night and the CN tower is a beacon signifying the density of Toronto in the south-east, growing by the minute; its buildings reach up to the sky. And, I do not look to the north as I know miles and miles of suburbia with its groomed lands, strip malls, shopping centres, and other man-made distractions separate me from any sign of wild things.

And, though this brilliant autumn has been blessing and dazzling us with splashes of luminous oranges, yellows, reds and golds, I am immune to its charms. The proliferation of deciduous trees that makes this season so stunning is exactly that which creates the skeletal, barren canvas of winter hibernation to come.

And as we head into the time of inner reflection and reckoning I wonder what transformations will occur before we burst forth into the renewal of spring.

The one small consolation that in about 20 months I will be return to the home of my heart and spirit serves as a beacon to warm the cold winter months to come.
view from Mount Washington
THANK YOU VANCOUVER ISLAND... see you in the summer of 2012

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birdie, Birdies

This picture has been in my head for days now, calling to be posted. One sunny day while walking in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park I came across this scene that just demanded I take pic.

Which got me thinking about this cartoon that I had drawn after watching people feeding the pigeons.
copyright Nance Thacker 1985
all rights reserved
click on image to enlarge
Now, the guy in the photo wasn't feeding the ducks. They just seemed to be enjoying his company and I could see that the feeling was mutual which is what made it so sweet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just dropping in

Last weekend while working on handstand during a yoga workshop I enjoyed playing with balancing and attempting to extend my ability to maintain the inverted position. Handstand brings such a fresh and lively perspective to my body and brings out the kid in me. I love the dynamic interplay of:
  • the 3 3rds of the body - the legs/pelvis, the core and the shoulder/arm regions
  • the skin, the muscles and the structure of the bones
  • the bandhas and the breath
  • the hands and fingers; the feet and toes
Working with my toes to get a good contact
Once toes are established I begin to slowly and with control descend to the floor
reaching really, really strongly through my arms
getting my fingers and hands in place
gathering skin to muscle, muscle to bone
and feeling the rope with my toes
Contact made, I begin to play with balance
notice how my feet are drawing back
I push my hands into the floor, firm up the core
and bring my feet forwards
Dynamic interplay back and forth as
balance is attained
just another view
toe bones touch and legs work together as one
Bear in mind that I am proficient in balancing in the centre of the room for brief periods of time and descending into handstand from the ropes enables me to have the benefit of subtle support and feedback provided by the grip of my toes on the ropes and the padding at my back body. I am in no danger of falling backwards as I am able to come out by bringing my legs down in front of me with control.

My core is strong enough that with the benefit of: mula and uddyana bandha; even, focused and controlled breathing, I can draw the floating ribs and the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) towards each other, filling out T12 and creating lift and lightness in the pose. 

As I descend my fingers are spread and the contact of my hands are slightly clawed (this is an old gymnastics technique) so that the finger tip pads, the base of the fingers and the heels of the hands provide a solid base from which ample feedback to and from the rest of the body is exchanged thus enabling the subtle movements required for balance to take place. The fingers and the muscles in the arms communicate with each other as do the toes and leg muscles.

From gymnastics I know that the more you "push" into the floor, the more lift you get. So, pushing into the floor drives awareness into the core/T12 and through it into the legs and feet. Conversely filling out T12 enables the hands to drive into the earth as the legs shoot upwards to the heavens. Activating the legs and feet reflexively activates the arms and hands and vice versa. The skin draws into the muscle and the muscle into the bone; I feel tall, long and lean (though I am none of these things) and it feels exactly like diving from a 3 metre board (I used to dive in university). Ahhh, what a lovely feeling!

Unfortunately it is almost impossible to write about the work without dissecting what is really a dynamic, organic interplay of actions allowing the pose to take full flight.

For more on yoga with ropes check In the Bat Room and Just Hanging Out

Saturday, October 9, 2010

an A-1 farewell to Vancouver Island

Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1984
All rights reserved
click on image to enlarge

It was with great sadness but with a very satisfied and full stomach that I left Vancouver Island this past Tuesday. So what better way to end my tour than with a taste of culinary delights courtesy of the island and some of the fantastic restaurants I enjoyed.

At where else? My fave restaurant PAGGLIACCI'S in Victoria.
Melt in your mouth delicious!
The portions are much, much larger than I remembered — share it with a friend
On Sat Sept 18th my craving for a cheesecake fix could be controlled no longer so I trekked down to Pagg's. I took some pics of the outside and when I tried to open the door, it was locked. LOCKED! I pulled on the door like a person possessed, I pressed my face to the window in hopes someone was inside and had made a horrible mistake, but no. As I stepped back in disbelief and horror I noticed the sign on the door CLOSED FOR YOM KIPPUR. Duh! I was staying with a Jewish friend, had even enlisted to help out for the evening's celebration but somehow this one detail had skipped my mind, such is the power of this cheesecake.

I walked the street unconsolable until I passed by the gem you see in the pic below, the DUTCH BAKERY & COFFEE SHOP. When I landed in Victoria 34 years ago I stayed at THE RITZ. No, not the Ritz Carlton but a seedy dive on Fort St. Its only saving grace was that it was next door to the Dutch Bakery. What a find that was for me! It's homey atmosphere was so welcoming; their fantastic, reasonably priced, freshly made sandwiches and yummy baked goods so consoling — which is still the case today. My day was saved as I left the shop lighter in spirit with comfort food cookies in hand to shore me up for the evening festivities to come. Read a little bit about this lovely spot here

The next Monday night, still full from cheesecake, Rod and I and our host headed off to PIZZERIA PRIMASTRADA in the Fairfield neighbourhood and split Marinara and Funghi pizzas between us. OMG... to die for! The crust is heavenly and the flavours so subtle and savoury as to make a pizza a mystical experience for the taste buds.
On our way up island the next day, Rod and I stopped in at THE PIER BISTRO in Sydney B.C. (HI MARLENE). Rod was hungry but all I had in mind was toast (of which there was none at that hour of the day) and coffee. So I settled for coffee and agreed to munch on whatever Rod ordered. He had a seafood chowder and crab cakes. Well, fortunately for him the meal came with 2 of the most perfect, savoury crab cakes I have ever tasted. One was a meal for me and I took my time letting each bite melt in my mouth. Though I love crab I've always found crab cakes to be a hit or miss affair; mostly miss as they are too dry due to too much filler lending them a sawdust feel and taste or too moist, loaded up with cream cheese or whatever people load them up with. These were a little taste of heaven. And though I don't have a link for it I can tell you it is on 2550 Beacon Ave in Sidney, tucked at the end of the pier with a fabulous view of the ocean and mountains beyond, a "fish cam" (not too busy under the pier that day) and 24 hr surveillance.

Next up is STEINER'S BAKERY a lovely little find in Campbell River and the host to these lovelies which we got hand dipped while we waited as they had sold out of them just moments before. And, though the restaurant is cozy, casual and inviting (I'd enjoyed my first dipped doughnut a few days earlier in its comfort) we took these to the spit to enjoy as we took in the scenery on a slightly overcast morning before heading out for more adventures.

So delicious were they that we picked some up on our way out on Tues morning to share with our in-laws at a farewell brunch that they hosted. I must give thanks to our brother-in-law Paul who makes the most delicious, light pancakes and flavourful french toast for the spread that he and Sue put out for us. Sorry no pics are available, my camera jammed up and sorry he doesn't run a restaurant, though he could.

AN UPDATE: I have been nibbling since I left Vancouver Island since I'd had enough food to last me for about a week...just in time for THANKSGIVING CHOW DOWN 2010.

Have a great one all! May you all be so blessed!

Monday, October 4, 2010

It was worth the trip

Every day something has occurred stirring such a profound gratitude from the depth of my soul that I have found myself proclaiming aloud or silently, "It has been worth the trip!"

Here are just some of those moments:
Sea Lions basking in the sun on our Eagle Eye Tour
An afternoon with Rod at Moose Falls just outside of Campbell River
Rod and I, Jean and Cliff take in the Market on a Sat morning:
delicious cinnamon buns, home-made pizza and doughnuts,
home grown produce and delicacies.
The Whisky Jacks at the base of Mount Washingtons entrance to Strathcona Park eat right out of your hand.
Miracle Beach where we witnessed Salmon (Chums) leaping for over 30 minutes.
A great day for the seals; for the salmon...not so much
There have been moments (too many to mention) with family and friends that will remain in my heart forever.

"It has been worth the trip!" Thanks to all who made our stay so memorable! I hope we can all say those words at the end of our life — wouldn't that be amazing! Seems like something to aim for.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goats on the roof AND MORE

Yes, there are goats on the roof.

This is what Coombs BC is known for and people come from around the world to see these guys. It is one of my in-laws favourite places not only for its goat appeal, but it is THE place from which to purchase “the best” (at least in my father-in-law’s estimation) local candied ginger. Sure it takes 90 minutes to get here from Campbell River but, what’s not to like – come here - satisfy your aw-w-w quotient and purchase a digestive aid all in the same trip. It’s worth the drive to Coombs.

I first heard mention of the “goats on the roof” from a local island girl when I came to Victoria in ’76, although back then it was merely the whimsy of an eccentric local to have his goats graze on his roof. A whole market has grown around the main house and more attractions have been added since our last visit in ’05.

The market in its country setting is stocked beautifully with vibrant fresh produce in a manner that would put Whole Foods to shame. Any type of freshly baked (though pricy) bread or smoked salmon you could wish for, you’ll find it here.

The slew of tourist kitsch, knick knack, Asian clothing, craft, and snack bars was present the last time I visited but new to me is the collection of massive soapstone carvings and the VW Museum which, for a mere $2. you can delight all things VW from restored beauties to photos, and any photo, album cover (check out the Beatles Abby Road Album) or ad in which a VW makes its appearance as centre stage or supporting role.

Another beautiful day on Vancouver Island! They say we’re in the rainy season, I think they lie to keep tourists away and have some time to themselves.