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Connecting to the good life

I recently viewed an illuminating study that speaks to the ethos of what I naively set out to prove with my 200km challenge: the age old wisdom that good relationships are the key to health and happiness. In the following video Robert Waldinger talks about the longest running study on human happiness know as the Grant Study.

Click here to listen to Robert Waldinger on what makes a good life.

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The Beauty of Life

As yet another full moon illuminates the sky I reflect in awe at the happenings of my day. I was so fortunate to have an old friend come and visit recently and spent the previous night surrounded by good food, good wine and great people. All this reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Nancy Carmody, “I am thankful for the mess after a party because it means I’ve been surrounded by friends.” This quote I feel epitomizes an important priority in life: that you always be in good company.

Which brings me to today, I was manning the Broken Stone tasting bar. All day if felt as though I were reconnecting with old friends. Many couples came through that had dinned with me at East and Main and those who hadn’t, connected with me on a science and math level. One group in particular came in and had a lovely chat with me about the makings of beer and wine. The man was wearing a T shirt with the periodic elements Beryillium and Erbium spelling out Be Er. I complimented him on his witty shirt and found out that he was a chemist. I had been periodically (no pun intended) working on my analytical chem homework and a question discussing normality vs. molarity has been stumping me so I asked him what the difference between molarity and normality was. To my amusement he himself turned to his wife to ask what the difference between the two was. It took us only a few minutes of conversing to remember the difference and determine the correct answer but had they not shown up I’m sure I would of frustrated myself with my incomprehension of such a simple question.

Every time I’m at the winery I cant help but leave with a feeling that I’ve accomplished something. Meeting so many different people and having the pleasure to glimpse into their lives for the moments they spend sipping wine at the tasting bar I can’t imagine any better place to be. In closing I like to think of this post as an ode to the simple pleasures in life and the enjoyment of each others company.

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A Peek at Kiwi Pinot

I wrote a guest blog for Broken Stone Winery about my time at a winery in New Zealand.

20160225_080739 (1) A rainbow graces the sky as Aurum vineyard is protected from birds by a massive net.

For a change of pace, we’re posting a travel note from our assistant winemaker Candace Battig.  It’s hard to believe that just as our vines prepare to bud, the Kiwis will be just finishing their harvest.

“Summer 2016 has come to a close!   That is  — if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.

This past Winter, with the vines put to bed and all quiet in the vineyard at Broken Stone Winery it was the perfect chance to hop down to New Zealand to see what grape growing is like down there.

Kiwis are famous for their screw tops and sauvignon blanc wines — but if you look closer you’ll find they also make remarkable Pinot Noir.  On the south island of New Zealand, Central Otago has made a name for itself in the past 30…

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The Universal Uniqueness of the Market

In the the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of staying in three different countries. In each country the market has served as a starting point for catching up with friends new and old.

I think there’s nothing more special and important than sharing a meal. Food as something we put into our bodies is a very personal experience. To share in this experience with other people is bonding. Think of how you catch up with old friends or even meet new ones, I bet often it’s over food.

The market is the perfect starting point for creating a meal. I love observing and engaging in the etiquette of the market. The people and the products are all unique but the atmosphere and connection is universal.

In February I was in Vancouver where a friend introduced me to the Granville market. A permanent island market just off set from the centre of Vancouver. It was bustling with activity and energy. Filled with fresh seafood, cheeses and a wide array of produce. We enjoyed local oysters and fresh seafood on the wharf, and we both left with a unique piece of pottery made by a potter from Salt Spring Island.

By March I was in New Zealand attending one of the famous Saturday Nelson markets. March is fall in the southern hemisphere and that means harvest season. The smell of fresh produce and home baked goods filled the air. This market I had the pleasure of experiencing with a new friend, a fellow traveller. We bonded over our love of good food as we perused the market collecting ingredients for a meal we would prepare and share later on in our hostel kitchen.

Last but not least, April has allowed me to catch up with friends in Australia. I was treated to a visit to the Victoria Market which supplied us with everything we needed for a Botanical Garden picnic. The Victoria Market was especially delightful due to its size and the variety of goodies available. There were permanent installments of bakers, butchers, and cheese producers among others inside. While farmers, artisans and vendors set up shop in the transient outside area. Now this was a market you could really lose yourself in for a day.

Each market was unique in its own right but all had the same universal result of bringing friends together and serving as a base from which our stories could unfold.

So why not enjoy a market with friends this weekend? I know I will.

Happy perusing!


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Winter Solstice

The winter solstice: the shortest day and longest night of the year.

The solstice has long held significance in the annual cycle of many cultures. Astronomically signifying a reversal of the suns ebbing presence in the sky and traditionally signifying the start of a long winter ahead. There are many mythologies and traditions linked to the winter solstice. In temperate climates the winter solstice was the last feast celebration before “the famine months” when starvation was common. People came together in celebration sharing food and stories of the year past. The tradition of communities gathering is universal across all the different cultural manifestations of the winter solstice. In light of all these social celebrations I have been mulling  over the social synapse of our human community.

Humans are social beings. Our brains and our individual identity develop while resting on social connectivity. From birth our brains are built not only by genetic preprogramming but also by lived experiences guided by our caretakers. Our ability to bond with them and create a loving secure attachment strengthens the networks of our social brain creating one that is strong and resilient. If we instead have a neglectful and insecure attachment, the networks of our social brain are not strengthened. As a result the the brain is vulnerable to stress and dysregulation. These early experiences have a disproportionately strong role in molding the the networks of our brains. Even though we have individual genetics, how we develop is strongly influenced by our community and their interaction with us through the social synapse.

The social synapse is the medium that links us together into families, communities and societies. It’s the space between us that we fill with gestures, words and touches such as smiles, hellos and hugs. These sensorial cues are received by us and interpreted by our brains. The interpretation of these cues tell us whether someone is friend or foe, happy or sad. We revise our emotions and actions based on these cues so it’s important that we are able to accurately read them. You don’t need to understand the science behind these complex mechanisms in order to appreciate them but if you are interested in learning more look up limbic resonance, regulation and revision.

This winter solstice I ground myself in the thought that we exist simultaneously as individuals and as part of a community. We are all an integral part of our community and our actions, no matter how individual we think they are, affect and are affected by those around us.

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New Moon (n): The moment when the Moon and the Sun have the same ecliptical longitude.

I have been neglectful of posting in this space but assure you I have been hard at work in my garden and at the vineyard. In an endeavor to make up for this absence I have decided to make this post one of photos.


Chardonnay grapes in the vineyard


My Garden in June


My Garden in July

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Starting a Vineyard in Prince Edward County in 13.5 Easy Steps

Check out Tim’s guide to starting a vineyard and sign up to follow Broken Stone’s Blog and the story of their vineyard dream.

1) Have a dream and the commitment to make it happen

2) Either have a big budget or a long time frame in mind.  It will cost $20,000 per acre just to set up the vineyard, $6,000 per acre each year to maintain (assuming you do most of the work), and it won’t produce any grapes for four years.

3) Find a good site.  Check the weather maps.  Acquire or lease some land.  Make sure it’s well drained.  Grapes like to have their feet dry.  Some would say that a moderate South-East slope is best.

4) Decide on which varieties of grapes to plant.  One of the biggest decisions affecting cost, effort and chances of success is, Hybrid or Vinifera?  Hybrids are easier to grow for a number of reasons, including better suitability to our climate and disease resistance, so if you are keen on organic farming or biodynamics, hybrids…

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