Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Current State of Affairs

"...henceforward want nothing but a cup of good wine, a good bed, my back to the fire, my belly to the table, and a good deep dish..."

Rabelais, Fran├žois. “Gargantua and Pantagruel, Illustrated, Book 1

I prefer to characterize the simplification of life as not a reduction but rather a distillation - more than a mere diminution but instead a refinement. The process is not so much a downgrading as a perfection (though the etymology of reduce - reducere - extends to "bring back, restore" which is more positive than depletion). Filtering at least captures the extraction of essential meaning or important aspects.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

No Mooring

Apparently the theme of becoming detached - or setting oneself adrift - regularly haunts me. Oddly it is a metaphor for any number of associations or predilections I have had. In almost every instance, the moment I begin to dwell upon the topic the resulting alteration is invariably beneficial. There are for example certain unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking from which I have unhooked myself. As is so often the case the conviction to untether oneself from an accustomed practice is not usually either easy or convenient. There must normally be an attending problem before the removal is legitimized. The effect however is frequently that of a purge - not only a release but also a cleansing.

"A mooring refers to any permanent structure to which a vessel may be secured. Examples include quays, wharfs, jetties,  piers,  anchor buoys and mooring buoys. A ship is secured to a mooring to forestall free movement of the ship on the water. An anchor mooring fixes a vessel's position relative to a point on the bottom of a waterway without connecting the vessel to shore. As a verb, mooring refers to the act of attaching a vessel to a mooring. The term likely stems from the Dutch verb meren (to moor), used in English since the end of the 15th century."

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Budget of my Memory

When bicycling today I broadly recalled the people I have known. It revealed a homogenous though narrow conglomerate. I am evidently counted among those of kindred features. Though the ingredients are inescapable, the alliances are not. The separation of oil and water persists no matter the scope. Luckily for me I enjoy both oil and water but I acknowledge the distinction, the preservation of which is critical to sustain buoyancy.  Part of the resilience is truncation of memory. Commemoration of the past can become as fanciful as daydreaming about the future, both of which risk contaminating the present.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Getting one's priorities straight

Not everything is a good fit. The secret is getting out before it's too late or avoiding the problem altogether. When I was young and just starting to make my way in the world I mistakenly assumed that logic and reason were the best vehicles for accomplishment.  Now however my first inclination is to follow my instinct.  Perhaps the success of instinct is something which has unwittingly developed over the years. I am more persuaded that it has always been a good bet.  What on the other hand has not always been a good bet is that I actually pay attention to what my instinct is telling me. That's the real challenge with instinct - not its content but its application.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Just Chillin'

It was a dazzling day today but cold - around 54℉ with a wind from the north. I began my bicycle ride this morning with only a light hoodie over my Polo shirt. I felt under-dressed but toughed it out, hoping the sunshine and the sea grape hedges along Gulf of Mexico Drive would insulate me. It was wishful thinking for the most part.  When I reached Bayfront Park the wind was cutting full blast across Sarasota Bay so I wasn't long in heading back home - at least with the wind at my back.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Tech Day

Laundry was my morning project today.  Overnight there had been thunder and lightening.  The skies hadn't cleared when I awoke. So it was an opportune time to deal with domestic matters. Not until shortly after noon did I make it onto my bicycle for some exercise.  My preferred route is now southward along Longboat Club Road to the South Gate, then up Gulf of Mexico Drive to Bayfront Park.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Windy Day, Frothing Sea

Longboat Key is a barrier island.

"Barrier islands are coastal landforms and a type of dune system that are exceptionally flat or lumpy areas of sand that form by wave and tidal action parallel to the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen."

Though the barrier islands protect the mainland from erosion and storms, they likewise absorb the initial cause with the result that winds and wave actions are at times violent. Longboat Key is more susceptible to changing weather patterns than many other similar coastal landforms. It is for example considerably smaller (narrower) and further from the coast than Hilton Head Island, Tybee Island, St. Helena Island, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island or Amelia Island.  It is irrelevant for my purpose that a "key" is sediment atop a coral reef and that an "island" is formed by volcanic action or part of a continental plate. What matters is that these slivers of land are in direct line of weather and tidal conditions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

We're getting closer...

“Thus the time went on, wearing a calm, bright look upon its surface. Letters came from England, letters came from Willoughby, and the days accumulated their small events which shaped the year." 

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

Monday, January 21, 2019

Rum Punch Party

Dear Fred and Donna, I trust you’ll forgive me for the social indiscretion of thanking you for your “Thank-you!” but I have to tell you how much I have enjoyed receiving your lovely - and quite unnecessary - gift. The Siesta Key ~ Toasted Coconut Rum ~ more than lives up to its Premium Small Batch interlineation. The mere bottle proclaims its worthiness - a weighty vessel reminiscent of a fine crystal decanter. More importantly to me however is that it is a “Florida Rum with Natural Flavours” - specifically distilled and bottled in Sarasota, Florida. I cannot imagine a more fitting memento of our first season on Longboat Key! The whimsical slur (“Finally a coconut rum that doesn’t taste like suntan lotion”) was not lost on me either! I am an inveterate sun worshipper!

As I mentioned when we spoke, neither Denis nor I drinks alcohol but - for the time being at least - I intend to preserve this singular gift as a favoured reminder of today’s celebratory event in particular and of our winter sojourn on this extraordinary barrier island in general.

Finally - congratulations to you both upon the completion of the new social room, an unqualified success by all accounts! Cheers! B&D

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Rip Tide

"A rip tide is a strong, offshore current that is caused by the tide pulling water through an inlet along a barrier beach, at a lagoon or inland marina where tide water flows steadily out to sea during ebb tide. It is a strong tidal flow of water within estuaries and other enclosed tidal areas.

Rip tides are typically more powerful than rip currents. The term rip tide is often incorrectly applied to rip currents which are not ideal flows. A rip current is a strong, narrow jet of water that moves away from the beach and into the ocean as a result of local wave action.  They can flow quickly, are unpredictable and are a result of the shape of the coastline.  By contrast a rip tide is caused by the moon's gravitational pull and is a predictable rip and fall of the water level."

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Maritime Study

"Maritime history is the broad overarching subject that includes fishing, whaling, international maritime law, naval history, the history of ships, ship design, shipbuilding, the history of navigation, the history of the various maritime-related sciences (oceanography, cartography, hydrography, etc.), sea exploration, maritime economics and trade, shipping, yachting, seaside resorts, the history of lighthouses and aids to navigation, maritime themes in literature, maritime themes in art, the social history of sailors and passengers and sea-related communities. There are a number of approaches to the field, sometimes divided into two broad categories: Traditionalists, who seek to engage a small audience of other academics, and Utilitarians, who seek to influence policy makers and a wider audience."

Friday, January 18, 2019

There's a call for you...

This place isn't la-la land but it unquestionably has the ingredients of a fanciful fairy tale. Getting a telephone call late in the afternoon from your former physician tends to knock things back into perspective in short order. The call  - jarring me while bubbling in the volcanic, churning hot tub - was from the office of the chap who installed my pacemaker about a year ago after my heart stopped. The good news is that it wasn't a medical call. Instead it related to the failure of my insurers to respond to his latest emission. This alone would not have been conclusive evaporation of my sunshine glow.  What bothered me was that it reignited recollection of similar confusion and bureaucratic delays I have repeatedly endured from the insurers and which I had been informed were concluded. Apparently they are not.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


I am stretched upon the chaise longue alone on the beach. The arid wind from the north buffets gently on my face, like a soft, fresh pillow. My torso, wrapped in a midnight-blue and apple-red fleece with the collar turned up around my neck, sustains the cool breeze while my leathern face tingles in the burning sun. The suntan lotion - Ultra Sheer dry touch - is soothing. I fall asleep, exhausted from my bicycle ride. People walk along the shore, their voices approaching then vanishing, their conversation like an ensemble of musicians, crescendo, allegro. When I open my eyes briefly the dazzling white orb blinds me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Made in Italy

It took time for me to discover that not all Ray Bans are made in Italy.  Some are made in China.  Surprise! Similarly forty years ago when I bought my first Rolex I thought I was getting something like a Timex but more expensive. The quality of the products has survived the years. Certainly there are other fine glasses and watches. For example, I have a high regard for TOMS®: One-for-One glasses (not terribly expensive but very durable) or Oliver Peoples (pricey but decidedly bespoke). For watches I've also bought Cartier and Breitling, both well made and good-looking. What matters is that the commitment to quality persists. Settling for compromise is not something that works for me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Special Luncheon on Siesta Key

We have today celebrated the 3-month anniversary of our arrival on Longboat Key on October 15th last. It was just over a year ago that I first gleefully shared with our vagabond friend that we planned to follow his good example by descending the latitudes from further north along the Atlantic Ocean to Longboat Key, a barrier island nearby his abiding haunt on Siesta Key on the Gulf of Mexico.  We took the short drive today to his beachfront digs for a congenial gathering and what turned out to be (as fully expected) a singular luncheon and uplifting chin wag.

Monday, January 14, 2019

By the Sea

In one telling respect being by the sea is no different from being anywhere else; namely, one can become complacent about the privilege. I say it is a privilege because whenever I have become disassociated from the advantage (or fortuity if you will) - such as when I moved inland to Ontario after having spent three years at law school in Nova Scotia adjacent the Atlantic Ocean - I have invariably considered it a lost honour or at the very least a terribly nostalgic state of being. Leaving a maritime resort after a brief scheduled visit is always more sufferable but never less punishing. In any event the imperative to recall is that - like life in general - one must capitalize upon entitlement when possible.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Start of the Week

The preparation for performance can rightfully begin on a Sunday, as it did today. Last evening we had resolved to attend the first of three local clothing stores in search of casual shirts by no later than 10:00 o'clock this morning. We clung to our mission; and, the agenda got underway as planned. The first two emporia proved unsuccessful, one because it was closed; the other because it hadn't what was wanted.  The third however afforded precisely what was desired.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Salubrious Swim

The ambivalent sky today reflected the horns of my recurring internal dilemma, a wavering uncertainty matching the shifting gloominess and cheerfulness overhead and within. The psychic parallel continued as I rode my bicycle this morning along my customary route on the Gulf of Mexico Drive, transitioning between the sylvan corridors at the southern end of the island (reminiscent of the romantic scene in the movie My Fair Lady during the singing of "On the Street Where You Live") to the stock urban sidewalks at the northern end as one prepares to leave this tiny, private enclave. The conflict between mirth and solemnness could not have been more undisguised.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Lido Key Beach

Lido Key lies between Longboat Key and Siesta Key. Like Longboat Key and neighbouring Bird Key, Lido Key is primarily residential with the important notation of nearby St. Armands Circle (a collection of putative upscale retail stores) which however is actually an independent island. I rode my bicycle to Lido Key (4.7 miles) this morning to acquaint myself with the area. It is highly accessible and essentially a maze of quiet streets adjacent the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, with public beaches and facilities and a large park at its southern end. It houses the Ritz Carlton Residences which are unquestionably lavish. A late model Rolls Royce pulled out of the property as I rode by.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Where you go, that's where you're gonna be!

It was almost 9:30 am when I awoke this morning and slowly removed my sleep mask to verify whether the sun was shining. It was. Brilliantly! I grabbed my iPhone from the bedside table and checked the time.  Getting out of bed after eight o'clock in the morning rattles me (though I can't think why it particularly matters at this stage of my life).  It isn't that I imagine having important duties to fulfill.  Just the thought of "wasting" valuable hours perturbs me; I instantly calculate how much time has already been wantonly relinquished.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Moving on...

In my younger days the electric bicycle was not something I would have considered buying.  It seemed to defeat the entire project of exercise. However now that I have entered the seventh decade of life the drubbing allure is not so offensive. This evening thanks to some friends I have tried the device for the first time and I am impressed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas , also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season celebrating the Nativity of Jesus. In most Western ecclesiastical traditions, Christmas Day is considered the First Day of Christmas. The Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January, inclusive.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Lapse into the Vernacular

There are few places on the face of this earth (at least within the scope of my admittedly limited travels) to which I would assent so readily and willingly to lapse unequivocally into the vernacular as Longboat Key. The everyday voice of this tiny barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico is music to my inner soul, the quintessence of fervency. It is with uncommon gusto that each day I hasten to embark upon a repeat performance of my domestic bicycle ride up and down the island.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Race Horse Figure

As restrictive as it sounds, "maintaining the race horse figure" is code for permissive indulgence. It is meant to be a joke. I stole the quip from James R. McGregor, one of my first and most faithful clients when I began practicing law in Almonte in June of 1976.  Jimmy had come home to Almonte from Sudbury where he had dug himself out of a mine vowing never to return. Animated by his awakening success as a real estate agent for Gale Real Estate he hauled his lumbering frame up the steep staircase to my 2nd floor antique law office to consult me about incorporating his own real estate company. This was especially poignant because it was on the very desk on which we signed the documents that Albert T. Gale had 40 years previously instructed his lawyer (and my predecessor) R. A. Jamieson, QC  to "do up the writings". I told Jimmy, “If we stick together we can go places”.  It proved to be an accurate premonition; but not a long lasting one. Within five years I was performing (at the request of the investigating police officer) the dubious honour as his Solicitor of telling his parents that an hour earlier Jimmy had died in a car accident on the Wolf Grove Road.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Tranquilizing New Year

The sudden arrival of cool, clear air has succeeded to tranquilize the advent of the New Year. Removed of its balminess the atmosphere is significantly sedated. One feels naturally more encumbered and less agitated when sporting a jersey. There was as well a noticeable quiet on the roadways and bicycle paths, a mark of the overnight evaporation of holiday travellers - no doubt but a temporary hush but nonetheless a welcome transition from the hullabaloo.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Bits and Bobs, Dribs and Drabs

Many, many years ago I met a gentleman in the financial district of downtown Toronto who informed me he practiced maritime law. I believe he worked as in-house counsel for an insurance company.  I don't recall the particular circumstances of the acquaintance (though it may have been in a bar at the King Edward Hotel) but I do recall being impressed by his uncommon undertaking.  The practice of maritime law was to me a rarefied and puzzling avocation. In keeping with my general interest in matters nautical - and residing as I am for the moment adjacent the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico - the relevance of maritime law has - pardon the pun - lately resurfaced.  My particular inquisitiveness revolves around shipwreck, a sphere popular in nearby Key West which has an unfortunate history of such occurrences due to its proximity to coral reefs only meters below the sparkling surface.  While I don't intend to engage in an examination of the applicable maritime law regarding shipwreck (and the entitlement to its trove), I felt a modest familiarity with the topic might prove informative (if not merely an enlargement of the customary language). What by the way has precipitated this enquiry was a comment from a woman in the grocery parking lot yesterday that she had noticed some flotsam and jetsam in the evening tide.  Her observation arose in connection with the recent recurrence of what is called "Red Tide".

Thursday, January 3, 2019


When addressing an issue the characterization of the question is as significant as the search for the answer. Consider for example, "What is a reasonable ambition in life?" Naturally there are a multiplicity of possibilities. But it occurs to me that the overriding direction is governed not so much by the end as by the start.  The primary starting point is age (young or old); and the common end is the preference for materialism or spiritualism. The age element differentiates between necessity and performance. The preference feature is for substance or perfection.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Red Tide (revisited)

When we arrived on Longboat Key on October 15th the ambient temperature approached 100℉ almost daily for weeks afterwards. Contemporaneously the air adjacent the Gulf of Mexico caused breathing irritation (frequently resulting in coughing).  There were also some dead fish on the shore (and the associated putrid smell). People were reluctant to swim in the sea.  All this pointed to what reportedly had been a common occurrence throughout the summer months - Red Tide.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Day, January 1, 2019

It wouldn't normally be adjudged anything but a moderately disgusting bodily function  - the sudden and unannounced eruption of salt water from the right nostril - but for one who has spent the day at the beach under the blazing sun, in and out of the sea, it is part of the purgative process that in differing manners so often characterizes the arrival of the New Year. This particular rendition for example contrasts favourably with the less wholesome event of rubbing one's eye with the palm of the hand laden with suntan lotion.  The salt water emission at least echoed the agreeable baptismal experience of swimming in the Gulf of Mexico to escape the post-New Year's Eve lethargy and to initiate the advent of the New Year, refreshed and decontaminated. How or when the sea manages to fill the cavity I haven't a clue.