I can't believe that I've been blogging now for a year. My first blog was published after the 2006 Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, and here it is winter again. Today I went up to Reid's Arctic Cat and picked up my sleds - all tuned up and ready for another year of snowmobiling. I'm hoping that the snow conditions will be a little better this year; last year I put on less than 300 miles and that was probably in 2 or 3 outings. Last weekend I sat in on the Ste. Anne's book club, while Noah Richler talked about and read from Giller Prize winner Elizabeth Hay's book "Late Nights on Air", along with various musings about Canada's north, politics, journalists, and his father Mordecai. Noah is a great guy, a talented writer and a regular spa guy to boot. There's definitely something nice about being read to. Maybe it brings back the comfort of being read to by kindergarten teachers, parents, grandparents and babysitters before we mastered the technique ourselves. Inspired by Noah's regular readings and the influence of other souls like our Reverend Ed, Debbie and Darlene, Nancy and Chef and their willingness to lead our hikes and our guided meditation, we're going to make some changes to our fitness program at the spa, starting in the new year. Our goal is to mix it up a bit - make it more spontaneous and try to cover a broader spectrum of activities that are good for the body, mind and spirit. We hope to include more readings, more walks, some dance classes, meditation, yoga, and other activities that we hope can be lead by guest writers (like Noah), staff, and other local friends of the spa. Hopefully this new direction will be popular with our guests. I don't really think people come to Ste. Anne's to get fit - most just want to be taken care of, to relax and unwind in a gentle, non-judgemental and caring place. I'm currently struggling my way through Janet Wallach's "Desert Queen - The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia". It's an interesting read, but certainly not a book that you just can't put down. It is giving me a fresh perspective on the history of this region, in stark contrast to how it and it's inhabitants are portrayed in the media, and of course more evidence of the potential of a strong willed women who puts her mind to something. A funny little side note, when I searched on this book on Google, it also brought up references to the movie, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", one of my all time favourite movies. I have great memories of playing the soundtrack to this movie at full blast across the deck of a 30 foot Searay Cruiser(boat) careening at full speed across Rice Lake in the dark with 12 very intoxicated friends dancing under the moonlight with coloured beach towels blowing in the wind doing our best to reenact the movie's bus ride through the desert. I suddenly realized that I had no idea where we were, and worse yet, I had no idea where the old rail bed was that I had to safely navigate my way through in order to get back to our mooring, preferably without having it remove the bottom of the boat, the engine and both propellers. I believe that was also the night that I decided that alcohol and boating really don't mix (for the captain, that is). Miraculously, we made it to shore safely with all of our bodies and good memories intact. Who ever said that learning can't be fun?