Almanac: Summer Solstice 2018


This year, the June solstice falls on Thursday, June 21, 2018 in all U.S. and Canada time zones, specifically at 6:07 A.M. EDT.

Year Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)
2018 Thursday, June 21
2019 Friday, June 21
2020 Saturday, June 20


summer solstice

The timing of the solstice is not based on a specific calendar date and time. It depends on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator.

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer.

This summer solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year.

It’s fun to share little-known facts about the Sun. For example, not many are aware that the kind of energy the Sun emits most strongly is not ultraviolet, or gamma rays, or even visible light. It’s actually infra-red. That’s the Sun’s strongest emission. The kind we feel as heat.

As for the Sun’s visible emissions, its strongest is: Green light. That’s why our eyes are maximally sensitive to that color.



  • The solstice Sun stands directly over the Tropic of Cancer. In fact, that’s how the topic of cancer got its name. It’s the southernmost line connecting all places on Earth where the Sun is ever straight up. That’s because a few thousand years ago, the solstice happened when the Sun was in the constellation of Cancer the Crab. Thanks to the wobble of our axis, the Sun is in the constellation of Taurus the Bull. So somebody should go down there and change all the signs to Tropic of Taurus.
  • This  solstice is when folks in the Northern Hemisphere see the highest  Sun of the year. But it’s getting less high over time. That’s because Earth’s tilt is slowly decreasing.
  • The solstice is when the Sun is lowest in the sky for those at the equator.
  • The word solstice comes from the two Latin words “sun” and “stoppage.” Makes sense: the Sun stops moving north that day.
  • In India, the summer solstice ends the six-month period when spiritual growth is supposedly easiest. Better hurry, you only have a few days left.
  • That day, the Sun rises farthest left on the horizon, and sets at its rightmost possible spot. Sunlight strikes places in your rooms that get illuminated at no other time.

    summer solstice

    Summer Solstice by Amanda Clark

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Book Review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan


Published: October 2017 by Scribner


The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.


WWII is a territory that has been written about so much that it’s often difficult to find an unusual take on it. Egan went above and beyond with this novel. Her prose reels us in from the first paragraph and holds us deep in it’s clutches. Some titles in the historical fiction are painfully boring, rest assured; Manhattan Beach is anything but boring.

Egan has crafted an absorbing historical fiction novel that exhibits painstaking research and magnificently captures a feeling of the NYC waterfront during the depression and WWII. The emotions in the novel; whether fear, loneliness, pleasure or passion, evoked by main characters Anna, Eddie and Dexter are rich and palpable. Anna shows tremendous strength, courage and perseverance, a woman ahead of her times. Egan explores the ripple effects of the war, witnessing characters  who aren’t in the midst of the war but are affected in the Great Depression. At the heart is Anna, who eventually becomes one of the first female divers.

Water plays an central symbol within the story. Whether it was walking on the beach, taking her sister to “see the sea”, watching battleships being built in the naval yard or diving into the silence of the the harbor floor.

Once again, Egan has delivered a book you cannot put down. She has expertly weaved a portrait of three people’s lives into a seamless story.

Manhattan Beach is compelling tale about fortitude and the will to survive.  Such a poignant and compelling novel which is deep in strength and courage and rich in historical detail.

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Poetry: Curtains In The Sky

poetryCurtain In The Sky

There is a place
That waits for us all

Beyond the sunrise
Past the moon and stars

This place
Is where you’ll find
All the spirits
You have loved most

Living anew
In painted skies

Waiting to tell their stories again

When it is time
They will hear your steps
Catch you as you fall

Your love will not have changed
Only the world of the living changes

There they wait
To hear stories
From the world they left behind

One day
You’ll be united

Beyond the curtains in the sky

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Almanac: May 2018 Flower Moon

2018AlmanacIn most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.


 Thinking about switching to a new position, or perhaps trying a new field altogether? Want to take a class or get your degree? Take the seeds you’ve planted last month, and allow them to bloom and grow in your favor. Here are some things you can do this month – because this is a time in which we need to plant the seeds for later success:

  • Begin tending your garden–or planting seeds in containers–and take some time to cultivate each of your herbs, flowers, and plants.
  • Remember that May is also the season of Beltane. If you want to bring fertility into your life, this is a great time to do magical workings related to conception and fruitfulness. Think about planting tubers, such as yams, which are believed to increase lust and fertility. In some West African nations, the white yam has been linked to high birth rates, particularly that of twins and other multiples.
  • Plant beans, squash and corn in the arrangement that Native Americans call Three Sisters. In addition to being a self-sustaining ecosystem, in which each plant helps the others, the planting of this trio is associated with the concept of happy families, abundance, and community.FlowerMoon


  • The full moon is often associated with temporal insomnia. In the past, the reason was obvious; people did not sleep well during the full moon due to the bright light it emitted.

  • The full moon was believed to make people go crazy. The world “lunatic” was used to describe a person who was considered mentally ill, dangerous, foolish, or unpredictable – conditions once attributed to lunacy. The word derives from the Latin word “lunaticus” meaning “moonstruck.”


  • The full moon is an ideal time to accept a proposal of marriage.

  • It has been suggested that the full moon affects humans in the same way as it does to the oceans via the tidal force as the human body is about 75% water, but in fact, the tidal effect is totally insignificant on such a small scale.

  • Clothes washed for the first time in the Full Moon will not last long.

  • It is sometimes claimed that surgeons used to refuse to operate during the full moon because of the increased risk of death of the patient through blood loss. A study carried out in Barcelona found a statistically significant correlation between lunar phase and hospital admissions due to gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • The full moon is considered unlucky if it occurs on Sunday but lucky if it occurs on Monday. In fact, the name of Monday is derived from Old English “Mōnandæg” and Middle English “Monenday,” which mean “moon day.”

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Poetry: The Golden Haired Girl

poetryThe Golden Haired Girl

I thought I saw myself in a crowded room
Darting out a back corner
Disappearing with the flashes of light

I searched

Trying desperately to find the girl
That used to be me

Whenever I’d catch a glimpse
I’d chase her

She existed everywhere
And nowhere at the same time

Day after day

I searched

For the golden haired girl
That I used to be

Believing if I could find her
Our two halves would make one whole

Did she not recognize me?
Was that why she ran and disappeared?

Could she not see the pale beauty she had evolved into?

We were one of the same
Surely she should have recognized the reflection on the other side of the mirror

I found my answer
As I met her face to face

She didn’t have a place in this world
She no longer exists
Cancer killed the girl I used to be

There was no reverting back

I didn’t need to explore the past to make myself whole
I didn’t need to trade on tragedy to define my life

I had to enrich my future
The beautiful days ahead

That was where my mind belonged

Bright eyed and beautiful
The world at my feet

The golden haired girl is a ghost
One that no longer haunts my dreams
Nor my waking hours

I’ve put her to rest
Buried with all my wishes to change the past
Buried with all my incessant fears

By living for today

Embracing life

She has the surviving part down
Now she will focus on the thriving

There is only room for one face in the mirror

It is mine

One born of dignity and pride
One born of bravery and change

Above all

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Book Review: The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens

SpringReadsThe Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing The World’s Favourite Beverage From Its Violent History by Becca Stevens


hardcover, 240 pages

published 2014


What started as an impossible dream-to build a café that employs women recovering from prostitution and addiction-is helping to fuel an astonishing movement to bring freedom and fair wages to women producers worldwide where tea and trafficking are linked by oppression and the opiate wars.

Becca Stevens started the Thistle Stop Café to empower women survivors. But when she discovered a connection between café workers and tea laborers overseas, she embarked on a global mission called “Shared Trade” to increase the value of women survivors and producers across the globe.

As she recounts the victories and unexpected challenges of building the café, Becca also sweeps the reader into the world of tea, where timeless rituals transport to an era of beauty and the challenging truths about tea’s darker, more violent history. She offers moving reflections of the meaning of tea in our lives, plus recipes for tea blends that readers can make themselves.

In this journey of triumph for impoverished tea laborers, hope for café workers, and insight into the history of tea, Becca sets out to defy the odds and prove that love is the most powerful force for transformation on earth.


This book is an unexpected, and emotional journey exploring the movement towards freedom and fair wages to women. I initially assumed this book would discuss solely the history of tea as a beverage and the boom of the tea market with the increasing popularity of loose tea shops appearing across the world…I should have paid closer attention the subtitle, I would have been better prepared to truly appreciate the raw beauty of this collection.

The Way of Tea and Justice recounts the amazing journey of Becca Stevens and her group at Thistle Farms as they established a tea cafe to help women off the streets heal and rebuild their lives. Survivors of abuse, addiction, and prostitution have sought solace at Thistle Farms. Thistle Farms remains a safe place for recovering women to work and earn fair wages under good working conditions.

Becca Stevens is a pastor and much of the book reflects the ups and downs of her personal journey and how her passion for justice and love for her faith kept her focused even through some very difficult times in her life. Stevens personal story is very cathartic for the reader, and makes us appreciate the beauty in the mundane aspects of life we often overlook. Stevens’ concept of tea as a way to heal sent her on a journey to learn more about the history and culture of tea.

She starts each section of her book with a recipe for a different type or flavor of tea to try at home. Reverend Stevens shares with us how tea has played a vital role in cultures around the world for thousands of years. It is quite disturbing to learn how often women, were taken advantage of, forced to live in fear and poverty while trying to provide for their families. Stevens asserts that we should make more time to just sit with a cup of tea and ponder our lot, or simply just take a few minutes away from the stresses that command our attention throughout the day.

A great read for young women looking to feel empowered. One person can make a difference in the world, Stevens proves that. Women across the world join her in growing and selling natural products, and work in the new Thistle Stop Cafe, opened in 2013.

A refreshing take on traditional non-fiction. This book conveys a strong message of peace, power and inspiration to be found within something as seemingly simple as a beverage.

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Edmonton Events: The Return of The Corpse Flower: Edmonton Muttart Conservatory Celebrates Corpse Flowers First Bloom of Gagnus

IMG_3727The Return of The Corpse Flower:

Edmonton Muttart Conservatory Celebrates Corpse Flowers First Bloom of Gagnus


The Muttart Conservatory proudly shared a stinky treat with Edmonton—the first bloom of Gagnus. Muttart staff has fondly named their corpse flower after the putrid scent it emits while in bloom. Gagnus’s aroma can be described as similar to rotting meat, dirty diapers and outdoor washroom facilities. The Amorphophallus Titanum is found in the wild in Sumatra, Indonesia. The ‘Giant Corpse Flower’ is nature’s tallest flowering plant, but the intrigue doesn’t end there; it is also the stinkiest. When the flower blooms it emits a smell similar to decomposing meat in order to attract pollinators. The foul scent can travel up to 30 metres.

Yeg Muttart

A massive amount of energy and time is needed for the flower to bloom. During its peak growth period, it grows six inches per day. The growth slows to half an inch, to an inch per day before completely stopping. It goes through years of growth and dormancy stages. Growth and dormancy remain in a cycle until finally, sometimes after years, the plant decides to bloom. The giant purple bloom stays open for a very short time, only 1-4 days, with the scent being the strongest the first day.

The flower last bloomed in 2015 and 2013. In 2013, Putrella became the first corpse flower to bloom in western Canada. This exciting event generated thousands of visitors to the Muttart. Records of over eight-thousand people were in attendance.

On May 25th, Gagnus bloomed at a height of 70 inches/177 cm/5’10”6’1 . Gagnus is eight-years-old and the older sibling to Putrella, the Muttart’s famed Corpse Flower. Vents in the tropical pyramid are adjusted to keep Gagnus smelling pungent for as long as possible. It’s not often that a facility aims to keep a rancid scent contained—a distinct scent oozed throughout the building over the weekend.

The Muttart’s success of four corpse flowers within four years is quite a big deal; considering there have been fewer than 200 corpse flower blooms recorded in conservatories around the world. The Muttart has mastered caring for corpse flowers.

The conservatory extended it’s hours to ensure everyone had a chance to visit the flower; Friday the facility closed at 11pm, both Saturday and Sunday had hours of 7am to 9pm. Numbers are yet to be recorded, but the Muttart is expecting more than 5,000 visitors to have visited the conservatory to witness the uniqueness of the corpse flower. Here’s hoping all those whom wished to see, and smell, get a whiff worth remembering.

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