My favourite books of 2018

I know it is now coming up on the end of February 2019 but I was thinking about some of the books I read last year and thought I would share with you my top 3 favourites.

I started out 2018 reading Leonardo DaVinci by Walter Isaacson and what a great start it was. It is a brilliant biography of one the most creative minds ever to have lived. Beautifully written and filled with photos of his art and illustrations. A joy to read.

Another of my favourites was Red Famine, Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum. The book impeccably details Stalin’s policy of agricultural collectivism and the attempted destruction of the Ukraine peasantry. The ensuing famine and starvation is devastating and the struggle to survive is epic. Although the subject matter is difficult and some details are horrifying, it is an important reminder of the evils of Stalins reign of terror. Mankind should never forget.

My absolute favourite read of 2018 was The Road Not Taken, Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam by Max Boot. The book details the life of Edward Lansdale an American covert operative working first in the Philippines and then in Vietnam in the days leading up to the US build up there. Lansdale is a larger than life character, who some say was the model for Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. Lansdale followed a “hearts and minds” approach to counterinsurgency and had some initial successes. His attempts to convince leadership to follow this approach in Vietnam fell on deaf ears and the result is well known. A absolutely fascinating page turner. I struggled to put it down!

Bird watching

Earlier this summer this beautiful bird dropped by for a little splash and I had no idea what kind of bird it was.  I have never seen anything like it.  So I reached out through social media to see what I could find out.  Turns out it is likely a leucistic robin (meaning that there is a partial loss of pigmentation).  A beautiful creature and I was happy it dropped by for a visit!

Small pleasures

One of the things I missed when I moved from Toronto, was access to a good coffee bar.  I enjoyed going out for a good cappuccino or latte but unfortunately there was no such place in Fonthill…until now.

I am happy to say that the Font Coffee Bar recently opened on Hwy 20 very close to where I live and it doesn’t disappoint, the coffee is excellent! Please drop by when you are in the area.


Bird feeder activity

I enjoy looking out my window at the bird feeder and discovering all the different kinds of birds that inhabit my area of the world.  Lately this little one has been visiting and it is amazing to see how much he/she can load into those cheeks.  Somewhere in my back yard there is a winter retreat full of tasty provisions!


I spend most of my weekdays in the home by myself (with my pets of course but they mostly ignore me).  I know many others in the same boat and we all tend to leave the TV or radio on all day to “keep us company”. In my case I would listen to the news but lately it seemed to be all about Trump 24/7 and I was finding it particularly stressful.  So I searched for an alternative and discovered podcasts!  I now play my favourites when I am alone in the house or car.  There are an endless variety available to suit just about any interest.  I find them interesting and have actually learned a thing or two.  Some have even inspired me to learn more about a particular subject. Right now I am into the true crime genre.  A few of the podcasts I think are very good are Casefile, Somebody Knows Something, Most Notorious and Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo.  I also am a bit of a history buff, so have subscribed to the BBC History Magazine, History Extra Podcast. 

It is easy to listen and how great it is to learn something while you are washing the kitchen floor!

Autumn Pastimes

Another beautiful autumn day in the Niagara region. We have been blessed this fall with absolutely gorgeous weather, warm and dry.  I enjoy getting out for a walk in the country on days like this and in this region there are many parks and trails to choose from. Or just take a leisurely drive along the backroads and you will come across many breathtaking views.

Fun with photography

Just celebrated my 59th birthday and my husband gave me a 55-250 mm lens for my camera.  Spent a few hours playing with it in my backyard….

Losing a Pet

Two weeks ago my sweet cat Lucy passed away, she was 15 years old.  I had taken her to the vets several times over the past year or so because her behaviour was beginning to change. After running all the conventional tests, we could find nothing physically wrong with her. She was still eating, drinking water, using the litter box and socially engaged. I thought given her age she may just be on the decline cognitively and until she seemed uncomfortable or in pain I would just let her be.

The day she died was not unusual in any way.  Late in the afternoon she was lying on the floor soaking up the sun and when she got up to walk downstairs I picked her up and sat her next to me on the sofa to give her some love.  She was purring and I thought she had settled in for a nap.  After a period I time I went to get up and noticed that she had soiled the blanket she was lying on. And then it hit me like a brick…she had passed away right there at my side.  I was shocked and heart broken.

Losing a beloved pet is hard and now two weeks later my heart still aches. I do take comfort that she passed peacefully at my side. Even though I still have my other cats and dog, something is missing from my life.  It will take time before I feel quite like myself again.

I know that some find it hard to understand how one can grieve so deeply for a pet but for me I lost a great friend.  One who gave me such comfort and unconditional love and asked for very little in return.

My dear Lucy,  like all the other pets I have lost over the years, will live in my heart forever.  Love you Lucy!


Life is only available in the present moment.

It has now been two years since I moved out to the Niagara region and officially removed myself from the Toronto job market, thus effectively retiring.  You would think that by now I would have adjusted to this new life of leisure but that unfortunately is not the case.  The reality is that I still continue to struggle to come to terms with what not working means. Oh I do keep busy but that has not stopped me from feeling like something was missing from my life. Today my yoga instructor said something that really resonated with me.  She said that sometimes we struggle with a pose and it becomes particularly uncomfortable. This arises when we fight the limitations of our body at a particular point in time, rather than accept what we are capable of in the here and now.  Accept what is happening in the moment and it ceases to be a struggle. It starting me thinking about “struggles” in the broader context of my life and how this applies beyond my physical body. What do I need to do to accept myself and my situation, so I am not continually fighting against it?  I need to be more mindful of where I am at each moment in time.  Life exists in the here and now and I need to do a better job of experiencing that moment.  The never ending thoughts cycling through my mind of “what is next” or “is this all there is” has to stop or I will never be at peace. So I have committed to try to live that way…Will keep you posted!