Education, the 2010-2011 season approaches.

I just received a tweet saying that descriptions of the courses offered by the Continuing Education department at the University of St Michael’s College for the 2010-2011 season are available. See them here. If you find any of these interesting you should look at their blue card program that allows you to take as many of these as you like for a single payment of $500.

With regard to other education options some preliminary research suggests that seniors may get tuition waivers at some universities. When I have more information I will post it here.

Are you aware of education opportunities for seniors with reduced or waived fees? Please tell us about them in the comments or, if you prefer, email me at retiredintoronto [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Solitude

“… isolation, willingly embraced, becomes the gift of solitude …” – Linden MacIntyre, The Bishop’s Man.

I was fortunate to grow up with a wood lot as my friend. Between the ages of 5 and 10 I was allowed to roam freely in the large wood lot within a hundred meters or so of the house where we lived. The quote above implies making the best of a forced situation. That was not my situation but in a way it sums up my feelings about solitude. I love being alone. Not all the time but often. The quote also reminds me of the role attitude plays in life. The difference between being alone and being lonely.

A while ago I wrote the following while remembering those years spent living by the wood lot.

By the time he was eight years old he lived in two worlds. One included other people, his parents, sister, friends and extended family. The other did not. Although this other world could be summoned at any time its true nature was most evident in the 10 acre wood lot where it was born. He was not master of his domain nor king of all he surveyed, he was part of the whole. Equal and kin to the trees, plants, animals, insects. Here he experienced joy, peace, wonder, warmth, comfort and sometimes sadness or melancholy at the loss of another living thing.

In spring tiny streams would appear. Their waters trickled and burbled through the undergrowth. The water was so clear that he was aware of its presence only because of the magnification it provided to what lay beneath or the occasional ripple as the droplets journeyed home together.

And the taste! Cold! Smooth! Thrilling! A hint of metal and earth. Sip from your hand then lie back in the undergrowth and savour.

He was eight and the world was perfect.

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An unplanned break.

Photo by retiredintoronto

It wouldn’t surprise me to find some people thought I’d left blogging behind and moved on. That’s not the case at all. Sometimes life draws your attention down a different path for a while. That’s the situation I find myself in but I hope to be back blogging in the near future.

In the meantime – What interesting, affordable things do you have planned or would suggest people take part in in and around Toronto this summer?

I’m looking forward to Afrofest and the Muhtadi International Drum Festival, all things being back in order.

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Painting a scene with words.

There has been a pause in my entries here. I guess that will happen from time to time.

Words

I am reading The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels. (Thanks “N”.)

Often when I read I make notes of phrases that make me pause for a bit. Today this caught my attention.

Slowly he unlaced his boots and dropped them in the passageway. The sound held all his weariness.

For me those few words conjured up a wealth of image and meaning. I am in awe of people who can write like that. I know, and count as friends, some people who fit in this category. I am thankful they have crossed my path.

Do you have examples of short passages that explode into a life of their own? Please share them in the comments. (If you would like to share and prefer more privacy please feel free to email me at retiredintoronto [at] gmail [dot] com)

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Podcasts

I used to spend a lot more time in the car and that’s where I listened to the radio for the most part. Now I spend most of my travel time on the TTC or walking. My mp3 player has an FM radio function but that doesn’t work on much of the subway line.

Podcasts to the rescue.

I’m a big fan of Spark, a CBC radio program that explores popular technology and culture. I listen to the Spark podcast faithfully. In addition to the weekly broadcast you can also find the full unedited versions of most interviews.

Much of the CBC programming is available in podcast format and is available at this CBC site.

Because I have lots available from years of collecting I find little need to download music. I turn to podcasting mostly for interview or lecture format items. In addition to the CBC a good source for that type of listening is the NPR directory.

The most musical podcast of interest to me is Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap. Of course it really is a show talking about music and that’s why it’s included here. The show airs on CBC but is not part of their podcast feed. Fortunately I found a feed here.

I now find, when I am in my car for more than a short trip, I often plug my mp3 player into my radio and listen to a podcast. It avoids the hit and miss inherent in listening to the radio in the car and allows me to interrupt a program and restart it later.

Do you have some favourite podcasts or podcast sites that you would like to recommend?

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Mmmmmm . . . Bread

Lately I’ve been making bread. I’ve tried this in the past but with little satisfaction. Either it was a lot of work or as expensive than store bought bread and not better quality. The most disappointing were the attempts at using bread making machines. Sure it was the least time consuming way to make bread but the results were never better than store bought bread and if you used the prepackaged method there was no cost saving. The best you could say for it was that the house smelled good.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across the video below and thought I’d like to give this a try. The preparation is easy and not time consuming. The bread, so far, is delicious. I have only tried two recipes and have not yet tasted the second. It is in the oven as I write this.

Based on watching the video I purchased the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book and dove right in.

I use a rectangular storage container to mix the dough. It is a better fit in my fridge than a pail would be. I thought the pizza stone was going to be the expensive item but the only one I could find was $12 and came with a metal rack for lifting it in and out of the oven. I’m happy with the results. I found the stone at Kitchen Stuff Plus on Yonge Street north of Eglinton.

In the video you might notice that they use parchment paper and remove it as the bread is put on the cooling rack. The book suggests that if you are using parchment paper you remove it about two thirds of the way through the baking process. Both methods work but I liked the bottom crust better when the paper was removed during baking. Now I have changed to preparing the loaf on a nonstick cookie sheet and placing it directly on the stone. It makes getting the bread in and out of the oven easier and gives a nice finish to the bottom of the bread.

Years ago we got electronic scales as part of a promotion and never really used them. The Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book gives measurements in both volume and weight. I’ve found the scales, with the set to zero function, a great way to measure the dry ingredients.

My regular grocery store carries all purpose and whole wheat flour but not much else. I went to a local bulk food store to find rye flour and found a lot of other ingredients that I’ll want to try down the road. The one thing I haven’t found yet is caramel colour powder. It’s a key ingredient in pumpernickel bread and I’m too lazy to make the homemade substitute. If you know where to find caramel colour powder in downtown Toronto please let me know.

So, there you have it. I have a new skill that makes efficient use of my time and is easy on the pocket book. Oh, did I mention that the house smells great?

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Piano Master Class

Last week “G” and I attended a piano master class in Walter Hall in the Edward Johnson building at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. For those who may not know a master class is where students come to play for an acknowledged master in their field of study. The master then provides feedback. In the case where the master class takes place in front of an audience, as happened this time, we all benefit. It helps the performer improve and makes us a more appreciative audience. I have no formal music training and find these events fascinating. I have only attended one master class prior to this but I’m going to put them higher on my list of priorities.

We heard 4 pieces, 2 Bach and 2 Chopin. The master was Angela Hewitt who won the Toronto International Bach Piano Competition almost 25 years ago. She has an extensive discography and is a world renowned expert in her field.

I can truly say I enjoyed the master class more than I would have enjoyed a concert.

One of the things I follow online is the UofT Faculty of Music calendar. That’s where I learned of this free event.

What music education events do you know about?

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