Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cutting for Stone

I couldn't put this book down. Nor could the other members of the GPL book club.

Author Abraham Verghese has undertaken a novel that is very broad and ambitious in scope. It sweeps from Asia, to Africa, to America, with the major parts in Ethiopia.

It is the story of a brilliant surgeon and a Roman Catholic nun who give birth to twin sons, Marion and Shiva. Sister Mary Joseph Praise dies in childbirth and Dr. Thomas Stone abandons the children, leaving them to his colleagues to raise. An unlikely family is formed, giving new  meaning to the expression, "It takes a village to raise a child."

Verghese weaves all the familiar themes--love, lust, betrayal, hope, commitment, dreams--into this compelling book.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Medical Benefits of Yoga

 A couple of years ago, I had a regular yoga practice. I felt myself becoming more limber and flexible with each passing day. Unfortunately, I have practiced less and less, especially during the past three months. When I heard about Tuesday's talk on the "Medical Benefits of Yoga" at the Guelph Public Library, I decided to attend.

I was not disappointed.

Dr. Alexander Audette delivered an interesting and informative presentation. He discussed the many benefits of yoga, which he considers the "finest therapeutic exercise in existence."

Some interesting notes...
  •  The inversions regulate blood flood, increase metabolism and improve hypothalamic function. I also learned that the shoulder stand and "legs up the wall" are excellent poses for anyone with hypothyroidism. 
  • The balancing poses increase strength and cerebelar activity. I have the greatest difficulty with these poses, but am determined to master them.
  • Yoga poses should be held for five breaths (about 20 seconds). 
  • The Jala-Neti cleansing technique provides nasal irrigation--a help to anyone suffering from sinus problems and allergies.
  • Hot yoga is not a good idea for anyone who is not young and fit. Most of us are not acclimatized to the warmer temperatures and can experience problems when we lose electrolytes. 
  • Drink coconut water to replace the loss of electrolytes.
  • Once a week is not enough. Dr. Audette recommends three to four yoga sessions a week. He practices each day for 90 minutes.
  • Dr. Audette learned yoga from a book. He followed the 300-week course in Light on Yoga. He recommends Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health for beginners. Both books are written by Iyengar.
  • Final note--"Yoga poses should be mildly uncomfortable."
I was inspired--next week I'll start up again!

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011


    My article, "A Money-Free Day," appeared in yesterday's edition of The Dollar Stretcher.

    The Dollar Stretcher is a group of publications dedicated to helping readers save time and money.

    Read the article.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Word on the Street

    In the past, I have attended Word on the Street in Toronto. This year, I decided to cut back on the driving and go to Kitchener instead.

    I was not disappointed.

    In fact, I found the whole experience a pleasant and enjoyable one. In Kitchener, Word on the Street takes place in the heart of the city at Victoria Park. The tents and displays are well positioned and allow the visitors ample room and opportunity to travel between them.

    I spent most of my time in the CTV Authors Tent. I enjoyed listening to the following four authors:

    While I had read about the Hamilton doctor who wrote novels, this was my first opportunity to hear Ross Pennie read from three of his books. The specialist in infectious diseases gets up at 6:00 a.m. each day and writes for two hours. This is his "Me" time.  He writes 400 words a day and then heads to the hospital. He read from his memoir, The Unforgiving Tides, and two of his novels, Tainted and Tampered.

    I was impressed by Sarita Mandanna, the young woman who wrote Tiger Hills. Her debut novel has been described as the the Indian Gone with the Wind  crossed with The Thornbirds. I enjoyed hearing about her journey as a writer. While working as a private equity investor in New York, she wrote between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. It took her five years to write this epic novel based in Coorg, the Scotland of India.

    Trevor Cole is an entertaining speaker. The former radio copywriter and journalist, read from his novel, Practical Jean. He likes to likes to shine a light on dark subjects; in this case, he wrote about a well-intentioned murderess who targets her friends.

    Iain Reid is an new writer. In One Bird's Choice, he writes about food, family and growing up. In his late twenties, Reid returned to his parents' house. A temporary arrangement stretched into one year. In this memoir, he pokes fun at his parents and his new lifestyle.

    While visiting the other displays, I stopped at the Human Library Tent. The Kitchener Public Library featured a group of  real people who volunteered to share their stories. I spent some time visiting with the professional astrologer.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    All About Emotional Eating

     Last night, I drove to the Country Hills branch of the Kitchener Public Library to hear holistic lifestyle coach, Jeremy Tracey, talk about emotional eating. The workshop was entitled "What's Eating You?"

    While I had heard much of the information before, I enjoyed listening to Jeremy's anecdotes and advice.

    Some of his tips...
    • Anyone who consumes large amounts of sugar--baked goods, soft drinks--probably has "sugar bugs" and needs a cleanse.
    • Drink more water. To find out how many ounces you need each day, divide your weight by two. For example, a woman who weighs 120 pounds needs 60 ounces of water--between seven  and eight glasses--a day.
    • Experiment with different foods. The average person eats only eight different foods.
    • Try the following mindful eating exercise. Put down your fork or spoon after each bite and chew the food completely.
    • Journal. Jeremy recommends we ask ourselves the following questions while journaling: What do you want to eat? Why do you want to eat it? How does it make you feel an hour later? 
    • Try Tai Chi. The gentle movements help the body release energy.
    Jeremy highly recommends the following books...

    Your Body's Many Cries for Water by F. Batmangheldj
    Healthy at 100 by John Robbins
    How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Advice from Douglas Smith

    He certainly delivered...two full hours of advice regarding short stories.

    Doug has sold 150 pieces of short fiction in 30 different countries. While he writes mainly science fiction, horror and fantasy, I picked up many tips about writing and selling my work. I was especially interested in his advice regarding foreign markets.  He has sold second rights to many of his pieces previously published in English. And the foreign country takes care of the translation. He makes it sound so easy, the mark of a consummate professional.

    I found it interesting that he never revises his work. If a piece doesn't sell, he keeps sending it out. His main advice: "Always have faith in your work. Find a good home, preferably one that pays professional rates (at least 5 cents a word).

    Visit Doug's website.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Boosting the Immune System

    Kitchener based naturopath, Dr. Michael Reid, has a thriving practice in the KW region and sees many clients who are not satisfied with conventional medicine. He commented that one out of every four clients has a medical doctor who will only treat one complaint at a time.

    Some interesting notes from last night's seminar at Grand River Library in Kitchener.
    • One teaspoon of sugar can depress the immune system by 50% for 24 hours. Substitute natural sugars such as honey or stevia.
    •  If you eat baked goods on a regular basis, you will will be more susceptible to germs and bacteria.
    • Eastern medicine recommends that we eat vegetables according to the seasons.  In the summer, we should be eating leafy greens and raw vegetables. In the winter, we should switch to root vegetables.
    • Treat adrenal fatigue with herbs, glandulars, and vitamins. Be aware that it may take anywhere for six months to two years to improve immune function.
    • At the very minimum, take Vitamins C and D and zinc.
    • To get rid of congestion, try the Warming Sock remedy. Dr. Reid swears by it. Soak a pair of cotton socks in cold water. Wring out all the water and put them on before you go to the bed. Cover them with a wool pair of socks. By the morning, the socks will be dry and your congestion will be gone.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Visiting Eden Mills

    The weather cooperated and I felt inspired by the readings at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival. I especially enjoyed listening to  the following Canadian authors:

    While it wasn't the first time I heard Nino Ricci read, I still find him awe-inspiring. He read from the 20th anniversary edition of Lives of the Saints.

    Sylvia Tyson is the consummate performer. She delivered a well-choreographed reading from her book, Joyner's Dream, interspersed with a few of her songs. Definitely a class act!

    Johanna Skibsrud used this opportunity to launch her latest book, This Will be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories. While I didn't particularly like The Sentimentalists, I enjoyed listening to a short story from this collection. I will make a point of picking up her book.

    Hal NIedzviecki was a pleasant surprise. The Toronto writer read a short story based on a road trip he had taken with his parents.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Dinner with Writers Ink

    Last evening, five of us gathered at Symposium Restaurant for our monthly dinner meeting. The conversation was stimulating and we covered a wide range of topics--everything from editing to metaphysics. I enjoyed listening to Matt, a young writer, who read from his novel.

    I came away inspired and ready to resume my writing.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    The Debt

    Every secret comes with a price.

    This was clearly evident in the new thriller/political drama directed by John Madden. It was an exciting movie, full of crises and dramatic turns. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the time.

    Helen Mirren delivers a spectacular performance as Rachel Singer, a former Mossad agent and Israeli national hero. She is restrained and obviously burdened by her past. Jessica Chastain delivers an equally compelling performance as the younger Rachel.

    The movie straddles two timelines: Israel in 1997 and East Berlin in 1965. Rachel teams up with fellow agents David (Sam Worthington) and Stefan (Marton Csokas) to track down Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen) a  Nazi war criminal known as the Surgeon of Birkenau. The agents trap Vogel and plan to smuggle him out of Berlin to stand trial in Israel. All that changes on a fateful New Year's Eve and the agents make a decision that changes their lives forever.

    Definitely a must-see movie--you will rethink your definition of a hero.

    Watch the trailer.