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With Love From + Spies + Bad Steak

Good Morning (3:38 am) Kelowna, British Columbia

After two years and nine months of not seeing our daughter, it was time. 

After the tears of joy subsided, we spent time enjoying each other’s company and many meals together already. Indeed a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.  

Flying from one side of the country to the other had me thinking about the carbon footprint associated with our flights. So, late last evening, I started to research how we might purchase carbon offsets. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to make a decision. I hope to have it figured out before we leave the province. I look forward to doing a deep dive on the issue. 

Purchasing Carbon Offsets. A little background reading for those who are interested. Read Here. 

Thinking of Trees

The tallest tree, a 124-year old Douglas Fir in Wales standing taller than a 20-storey building, was damaged in a storm and would be cut down. The Natural Resource Wales commissioned, Simon O’Rourke an artist, to carve it.

Simon O’Rourke. “I loved working on the hand sculpture; it reminded me just how small we are compared to some of the living organisms on this planet,” he says. “All in all, a humbling experience!”

Simon used a chainsaw to carve a giant hand emerging from a tree stump. Beautiful. 

Other than doing the sites of interest when travelling, I like to do three things. 

1. Peruse used booked shops, such as the one I stumbled on yesterday.

Robbie Rare Books

2. Antique shopping. 

3. Focused Thinking Time

I am looking for a used copy of When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. 

Science is beginning to confirm the intuitions of mystics throughout the ages that we share a kinship with animals. Elephants Weep explores the emotional lives of animals.

While here, I will purchase Finding the Mother Tree a new book by British Columbia author, Suzanne Simard

From Amazon. ~ In her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees. She brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths—that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life.  Forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

In antique shops, I seek old unique bone china or porcelain creamers. My collection is up to 8 or 9, and each has a story. 

When intentional with the creamer I use adding a wee bit of milk to my Organic PEI Breakfast Tea; the creamer usually conjures up a memory or two. Fun or weird? You decide.  

A habit I am trying to install into my daily routine is thinking time and listening time. No books, no music. Just silence. Quiet reflection time in prayer. 

Tom and Linda from Florida suggested I read a book by Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence. I enjoyed the book and highlighted much of it. Ruth takes us on her journey into solitude and silence. 

Being Alone In Your Thoughts Is A Skill You Can Learn—an article I enjoyed reading this in the Psyche newsletter this week. 

From the article.

About ten years ago, psychologists at the University of Virginia and Harvard University began exploring this question by inviting volunteers to spend time in a room void of all distractions (except for an electric shock device) and to occupy themselves with their thoughts. Their findings, published as a series of studies in 2014, were striking: 67 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women opted to intentionally shock themselves rather than spend a short time alone with their thoughts. Subsequent work has confirmed that people generally report low-to-moderate enjoyment following an experience in which they are given full freedom to sit and think.

From the article

Overall, our findings demonstrate that when people are asked to think enjoyable thoughts, they don’t necessarily think of meaningful ones, thus detracting from their pleasure. Furthermore, when asked to think about meaningful thoughts, they don’t necessarily think of enjoyable ones, again undermining their pleasure. This suggests that most of us do not have an intuitive sense of how and what to focus on to derive the most pleasure from our thinking experience.

Fortunately, these results point to a couple of scientifically backed ways to make thinking for pleasure enjoyable. So, now that you are coming to the end of this article and you have a few minutes to spare, why not spend some time with your thoughts? 

Here’s what I can recommend for optimising your enjoyment:

  • Your goal should be to have a good time; make it your intention to focus on events and aspects of those events that bring you enjoyment.
  • When conjuring topics, choose ones that are both meaningful and pleasurable (e.g., social events and accomplishments).
  • Before the thinking period, write down these topics so that you can glance at them if you feel like you’re having a hard time staying focused.
  • Set out a specific time for your thinking breaks; that is, choose to engage in the activity when you feel motivated to think for pleasure, but stop if and when you feel like it’s becoming too cognitively demanding.
  • As with all things, practice – you will get better over time and, the more you do it, the more you will anticipate thinking for pleasure to be enjoyable.

The thoughts we create shape our lives; hence, it is to our benefit to occasionally spend some time thinking for pleasure. While initially challenging, with a bit of practice, we have at our disposal the cognitive abilities to derive pleasure from simply entertaining our thoughts. In a world in which the external environment demands so much of our attention, I believe we could all benefit from occasionally retreating inwards to derive both meaning and pleasure from within.

Earlier this year Lyn from Texas suggested I read Red Notice by Bill Browder. It was a page-turner for sure. Thank you, Lyn. 

I am now in the middle of another page-turner, Agent Sonya by Ben MacIntyre

From Amazon: 

This true-life spy story is a masterpiece about the woman code-named "Sonya," one of history’s most influential female spies. Hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI, she evaded all of them and survived as well the brutal Soviet purges that left many of her friends and colleagues dead. Her story reflects the great ideological clash of the twentieth century between communism, fascism, and Western democracy. It casts new light on the spy battles and shifting allegiances of our times. With access to Sonya's papers and her intelligence files from multiple countries, Macintyre has conjured a thrilling secret history of a landmark agent. This one-of-a-kind woman altered the course of the Cold War and helped plunge the world into a nuclear standoff that would last for decades.

Family is awakening, 6:08 am. I get to cook breakfast for the gang. So THANKFUL.

This morning, while writing, I have been listening to Wood Winds by the Danish Quartet. Sample listen here: 

Watch a little here: 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and to all Canadians celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope yours is as special as mine. 

With lots of Thanksgiving love from Kelowna. 

Bruce missing Millie. 

ps. Your Morning Smile

I told the waitress my steak was bad.

She picked it up, slapped it, and threw it back down.

She said, "If it gives you any more trouble, let me know."

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Nancie Stevenson - October 10, 2021

I save your blog to read on Sunday nights. I like to take my time. They are so enjoyable and thought provoking. Nancie

Vicki - October 10, 2021

Hey Bruce I just got back from Alberta- will get tested again Wednesday before I stray too far from home. As you know, last time I saw my middle child was last year when her dad died and she spent two weeks in the basement. Sometimes travel to our children is essential. And we had a fantastic time- laughed a lot, cried a little and ate too much!
While visiting Turtle Mountain, the home of the famous Frank Slide and site of one wild and scary adventure said daughter took climbing it, we came across a pine tree that is reckoned to be between 600 and 700 years old. It died a few years back but is still there- living on in the community with some support. The Burmis tree. Scrappy, strong but not very big. A survivor still. Like my kid. Love to your kid.

Susan B - October 10, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Bruce & Fam !!
So happy for you visiting your daughter.
Thank you as always for your blog.

With Gratitude
Susan B

Bruce MacNaughton - October 10, 2021

@donna Your offer to send me a copy of When Elephants Weep is very kind. I hit two stores yesterday in Kelowna with no luck. I will try two more here and two at home and let you know. Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for your generosity.

Julie MacKenzie - October 10, 2021

I’m so happy that you can spend your Thanksgiving with your daughter in Kelowna. I’m in Edmonton & even though I am double-vaccinated & so are my family members….we are not planning to get together this Thanksgiving because of the Delta variant. It’s more important for us to be safe & healthy. We will wait a little longer…& we are hoping to see each other for Christmas dinner. Thank you for sharing your blog. I look forward to it every weekend. I love the quartet..& the list of some of your favourite books. I also love to read books. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving & enjoy your vacation. 👍🍁🍂🦃

Jack & Lillian Paul - October 9, 2021

Thanks for another interesting Blog Bruce. Enjoy your time with the family in Kelowna…We too will celebrate and be thankful on this Thanksgiving weekend. Safe travels.

Bunny W. - October 9, 2021

How wonderful to be reunited with your daughter here in beautiful BC. You’ll have extra reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving. Thank you once again for your enjoyable blog. The stunning shore photo makes me homesick but so appreciative of the beauty wherever you look in PEI. The book about the spy sounds intriguing, and the music is wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving!

murdock morrison - October 9, 2021

Hi Bruce and hope that your time in Kelowna will be special but without Millie but you will be thinking her while you are away. Enjoy your blog as there was a lot to think about and because I am going to Dartmouth now, I will read it in more detail when I get a chance all the best- Murdock

Donna Hoffman - October 9, 2021

I have a copy of When Elephants Weep. Shall I send it to you? We are so looking forward to returning to PEI and have a meal in the Preserve restaurant!

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