Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All you need is chocolate.

Photo credit: rhymes with orange photography
I am still basking in the afterglow of the love and joy that abounded at my son and new daughter-in-law’s wedding two weekends ago.  Am I just biased or was it the most beautiful, heart-felt, wholesome, genuine, marriage ceremony and reception I have ever witnessed?

Of the more than 100 guests, 30 family and friends travelled from Ontario to be here. The table decorations were creatively designed by my son, and skillfully executed by my mom and sister (including hand-painted, rustic table signs, named after coastal islands). My two other sisters jumped in to help with floral arrangements in the reception room as well as making the aisle markers out of antique sheets of music (love songs of course) and filling them with roses, lavender, and sage. The music was home-grown (we even got the bride up on the stage for the first time ever to sing a tune). The usual suspects who perform at our annual fundraiser for Duncan’s scholarship fund were all there to play fabulous dance music for the night.

I was astounded by the thought and care that went into the planning.  There wasn’t a detail missed.  Probably the biggest challenge for the celebration was to include Duncan in the festivities but in a subtle way that wouldn’t overshadow the bride and groom’s special day.  His presence in spirit was beautifully acknowledged with a toast to brotherhood (accompanied by the obligatory shot of Jack Daniels) and one of the musicians played his guitar. A very close family friend provided a beautiful sampler of top-notch chocolates for each guest (one of which was flavoured with JD). The message on each tiny box of chocolates was “All you need is love”.

I learned so much about my son in the week preceding the wedding.  Who he really is as a soul totally shone (pun intended) in so many wonderful ways.  The care with which he made sure every detail was thought out ahead of time was very touching. I was privileged to be right in front of him to catch the look on his face when he first saw his lovely bride making her way down the aisle.  The depth of love he has for her is obvious (and she for him).  And he chose a song that I had recorded years ago for our mother-son dance. I was incredibly touched by that. I love that kid so much.

It was a beautiful and inspiring day and one that will remain fresh in my mind for a long time to come.

Arriving home has been quite an about-face.  My roommate has moved out – I now have the place to myself – and the level of interaction with others has gone from 10 to 0.  I’m used to running at about an 8, so this is a new world for me.  As well, with no “work” to go to, other than my kitchen desk, I am removed somewhat from the madding crowd, and to top it all off, my son and his wife are moving to Calgary this weekend. 

So I find myself with a business I can run from anywhere in the world, no close family to keep me here, and all the cottages where I live are up for sale.  Everything is up for grabs right now! The world is truly my oyster and it is quite exciting to think of the possibilities!

For now, however, I shall stay put and get used to the quiet.  Any decisions I make at this point must be made from love, not fear.  I have to resist the urge to “do” something just for the sake of doing something. And, as if the universe knew I needed some advice, I received a card that was drawn for me…

Patience is quiet hope and faith that things will turn out right. We trust the process of life. We are not hasty. We do not rush or allow ourselves to be overcome by pressure. Patience helps us to endure things we cannot control with a peaceful heart. We respond to mistakes or delays, not with judgment but gentleness. We recognize the lessons that come through waiting, and receive them as gifts unfolding with Divine timing. Patience brings acceptance. It calls us to be still in the moment, to be restful and to listen deeply. Patience soothes our souls. (Thank you ML!)

I shall be patient.  I know that all you need is love (and chocolate).

Authentically yours,


P.S.  Can’t leave without a little tune…


I can’t think of a better place to have a West Coast wedding than the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa and Resort in Parksville on Vancouver Island. The setting was absolutely perfect.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Surrounded by men on my recent journey to France I learned a few things. They kiss by 3’s in the south and only on 2 cheeks in the north. But they kiss…each other!   How lovely!

And almost every Frenchman I met in the countryside has great biceps that definitely were not sculpted in a gym. But I digress. I want to talk about the generous nature of men and in particular my dear friend Aarin who enticed me to take my recent trip to France and a new friend James who welcomed me into his home so graciously.

Words like never and always are infuriating to me. Use them frequently enough and you will find me poking holes at your generalizations trying to pluck out that one exception that dissolves the rest. And so when at a wine tasting Aarin was using exactly that kind of vocabulary talking about the grapes we sampling, I was momentarily taken aback.

I have spent my life blowing up boxes. Was I being now asked to enter another one, albeit a tasty one?  Was acceptance of some of the extremely rigid rules of growing grapes the price of admission to the club? I decided to stretch my thinking.

What if breaking rules simply because they were rules was actually an act of adolescent rebellion? Perhaps you first have to know what the rules are in order to decide to ignore them. 
And what if rules are not inherently bad or constricting but can actually create standards that offer consistency in a world of massive variables.
When I look at all the rules in wine making AND all the exceptions to the rules it makes my head spin. 

So where do I learn more? Cue the music. Enter James Dunstan, writer and wine importer who lives part of the year in Vacqueyras in the beautiful Southern Rhone part of Provence. Wine has been produced in this region since the 15th century and the photo above depicts just how charming the village is. 

James has become my hero of the grape and his knowledge of wine and passion for quality seems to surpass famous American wine critic Robert Parker's penchant for high scores.  James was not only a fountain of information, he invited us into a world of mouthwatering sensations that while focused on wines also included music and conversation and superb taste treats from the local countryside.  His gift pairs his love of musical tracks with the perfect libation, and we reveled in this ambiance at his glorious home.

I tend to translate names into verbs when I am struck by the remarkable in a person’s character.  So while ‘Do a Grace Kelly’ means to take the high road, and ‘Do a Buns and Marty’ means you jump both feet into the next adventure that presents itself, ‘ Do a James Dunstan’ means you are going for the best. Be it a gorgeous wine, a simple luxury, a decadent treat or creating a moment that will resonate in memory, his taste for quality and a full bodied experience of sensual pleasure is to be appreciated.  Check out his blog at 

There is a lovely wine we enjoyed later in Paris called  L’Empreinte de Saint Mont 2011 . Its label reads. ‘ Laisser dans le temp une idee precise du plausir.’   It means, know the moment that pleasure enters.   This motto reflects my experience at James’s table. Pleasure and gratitude seeped into my pores. The delight was auditory, gustatory and held the resonate zing of meaningful connection.  This is how to live! 

Thank you gentlemen.  My heart says "Merci beaucoup."

Branded by the senses:

Authentically Yours,