Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Loving Manitoulin Island, Turning 30 and Not Owning a Car

Manitoulin Island

We have just returned from a week's vacation in Manitoulin Island. This is our second year running and we were wooed anew. S's friend from CEGEP in Montreal had moved out there 7 years ago and has not looked back (check our her blog). We are finding ourselves with the same "problem."

Manitoulin Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake in the world. And that translates into: very special. Being an island, there are 2 ways of getting on and off: the Chi-Cheemun Ferry ("big canoe") or the swing bridge at Little Current.

Its culture and communities are sharply shaped by its geography. The island is virtually ringed with clean beaches and there are many lakes, and even islands within the island. There is excellent fishing, camping, hiking, cycling, horse-back riding, boating...and on and on.

Ever heard of "island time?" Well they have that too.

It is also home to the only Unceded Indian Reserve in Canada, so while it is part of Canada, it has never been officially owned by anyone other than the native tribes. There are two major pow-wows every summer which we landed smack in-between so we'll have to plan better next year.

Dividing Lake Huron from the Georgian Bay and North Channel, Manitoulin Island may seem remote and disconnected from the globalized, urbanized, technologically driven culture that is radically shaking up the world. And it is and it isn't. This is a place of contradictions and surprises.

Collectively, the Haweaters (an endearing name for Manitoulin residents as the Hawberry is their own special berry), have officially banned any franchises or Big Business from setting-up shop on the island, with the only exceptions of the LCBO, gas stations and a couple grocery store chains. All the rest of the business are locally owned and operated. It's much like walking back in time.

There are a great number of artists and crafts-people living on the island. In addition, many successful writers, editors, publishers, businessmen and others who are in a position to work from home, have moved to Manitoulin, or at least just spend their summer months there.

So the message is: this is not just a quaint, rural back-water farming island. There is a lot going on. It is connected.

If you've read this far (thank you) and you are wondering where in the name of our Great Jehovah are the pictures? You can find them on Picassa:


Turning 30

On July 13th, I entered a new decade: my 30s. Relieving you of any suspense, there is not much to report in the way of celebrating.

Being on the island was a great gift.

It was more of an inward than an outward kind of day.

Living Without a Car

Returning to the city after such a lifestyle contrast can be revealing. What I first noticed coming back into the city was how automatic everything seemed. Thousands of people choosing to spend their time parked on the highways trying to get out of the city for a weekend. So much traffic going nowhere.

The pace of the city, while Toronto is not comparatively very fast, it is mechanical and industrial. Not natural. Many people looking haggard, stressed, boxed-in.

Buildings are tall, people making their nests in the sky. Quite normalized in the city.

So little green. So that when there are some trees, the eye greedily focuses in and drinks in the colour before it disappears.

All this said, I find that living without a car is like a breath of fresh air. It removes you from the mechanical grind. There is more freedom, more possibility and a slower pace as small walks from point A to B allow time for the body to move and the mind to reflect.

We chose to buy our house because we can walk to the beach in 25 minutes (5-10 minutes by bus). There are many parks close by where Henry can meet children and dogs and can splash about in little wading pools and water parks. We can do all this without a car, whereas in Manitoulin, unless you're a hard-core farmer or are willing to ride horse-back to get your groceries, we would be completely dependent on the automobile.

So as in most aspects of life, there are trade-offs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010

This blog continues my quest to learn about the 2010 Nobel Prize winners. Having looked at Physics and Chemistry already, it is time to focus on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Robert Edwards was awarded the 2010 prize for the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy. Basically, he found a way to treat infertility.

His efforts first garnered global attention in 1978 when his efforts resulted in the first "test tube baby."

And now, approximately four million individuals have been born as a result of IVF.

My take on IVF in a nutshell:

I don't like it. Despite that being infertile can cause trauma.

The world is currently overpopulated. Babies grow up to be adults who are no longer sacred and desirable.

And really, that's as far as I'm going to explore this topic. Your comments are welcome though!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day and First Word?

Surprise surprise I am exhausted. So many 1st world problems I have. With happiness, a house, husband, child, good job, health and living in this wonderful country, what might be so taxing? To put it simply, maintaining all of the above. And I dare to dream of having more.

But for now, I will praise Canada for being a country where a turbaned child in tighty-whiteys gleefully swam in the clean but frigid waters of Ashbridge's Bay amongst a crowd of bikini-clad teenagers, large extended picnicking families, twenty-something buff volleyball players, break-dancers, elderly strollers, babies in strollers (Henry), couples drinking illegal beer on the beach, rollerbladers, cyclists, skateboarders, joggers, sandcastle-enthusiasts and on and on. Canada is a wonderfully diverse country both in its geography, people and cultures. It is not any one thing. It is difficult to define, but wonderful to be a part of such a fluid, malleable society.

This morning Henry and I went to the park while S cleared out the weeds and dead plants from our back garden. At the park, we ran into a mother, her 11 month old daughter and their dog "Parker." All morning I had been pointing out the "doggies" to Henry and now as we introduced ourselves, Henry was able to get up close and personal to the dog. As we were talking, Henry said "doggie" as clear as a bell. The other mother and I snapped our heads towards each other in disbelief.

"Did he really just say his first word?"

And so, it remains to be seen whether or not this sticks. If it does, the answer is yes. If the answer is no, then Henry is just an odd duck!

Later, we had a BBQ with Henry's aunt and uncles, followed by a walk to the beaches. Below are a couple of pictures.