Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reflections on the Direction Forward and Summer Time!

Gosh, the weather in Southern Ontario (that is the province that the City of Toronto is located within Canada, for my global guests) has been absolutely fabulous.  I think we have had more summer weather in the months of April and May than we had the entire summer of 2009 - we called that the summer that wasn't following the winter that went on forever.  We in Southern Ontario have weather of extremes.   Cold snowy winters and often (although not so much in the years immediately preceding 2010) hot and humid, tropical summers.  Summer is my favourite time of year.  Most years we only have reliably 2 months of real hot summertime weather.  This year looks like we might be blessed with 4 or even 6, if the fall cooperates.  That is spectacular in my books.

I am planning an active summer of hiking, walking and yes I am embarrassed to say just driving around in my car with my dog Bella and "doing stuff" in the little spare time I have in my calendar.  Work is still horrendously stressful and I am doing far too many hours.  I simply don't have enough time.  I started to think about how want to be spending my time this summer and concluded I need to review priorities and return on effort and to figure out what I am doing right and where I need to tack into the wind to get a bit more traction.  My blog came up on radar as something that needs to be reviewed.

My reasons for blogging are many:
  • I enjoy writing and aspire to do some serious noveling at some point - therefore I the habit and  practice of  writing is needed.
  • I want to share with my global friends what a great place Toronto is and tell you about what I see and do in this city.  
  • In particular, I want to promote art and architecture within the City of Toronto to  potential visitors.
  • Ditto Collingwood, because that is where my Shangri-La getaway is located.
  • I want to leave something of me somewhere friends and family can go to catch up with what is going on in my world, my thoughts, likes, dislikes and opinions when they have the time and inclination
  • I want to make new friends in the blog sphere - who knows maybe my "Prince Charming" is out there reading this right now! Failing that, I am sure that there are lots of folks who may well be living in the countries I see myself visiting in the next number of years and maybe I can connect with some of my blog sphere friends "in the flesh".
  • I want to promote others who have a presence in the Internet by "retweeting" and commenting on the neat stuff I find there. 

My posting schedule of twice a week plus maybe one or two on the weekend does allow me to meet these goals and if I cut back I will not be achieving them.  But maybe that is ok for the summer.  After all, don't we all remember what it is like when school lets out and we have the summer months off to rest and recharge.  I for one found that I approached September with optimism and enthusiasm for a new school year of accomplishments.  Maybe it can be that way for my blog.

Inciently, you notice that increasing my visitor count was not listed as a goal for me - but lets face it, all bloggists hope to have visitors and increasing numbers do provide a sense of satisfaction and motivation on days when it is easier to go outside to play rather than write a blog.  Which gets me to the next point.

I do have regular visitors, however I have been noticing that every month I am doubling the number of folks who come for one visit in response to a google search but the number of repeat visitors seems to be dropping.  I find it great that I come up on so many google searches - perhaps I am providing some reference to folks who are looking for information on a topic I've blogged about.  Sadly, it  seems I may have lost some of my regular readers but it might  be that they are as busy as I am these days.  I subscribe to a service which logs visitors and through the use of  IP addresses and cookies attempts to tell me how many returning visitors I have and what city/country that they are located in.  Unfortunately, it isn't easy to check how many returning visitors come in a given month - it could be that the same 3 or 4 people visit each day or that I have a different 3 or 4 repeat visitors coming each month (which means 90-120 returning visitors).  I guess the answer is somewhere int between - at least I hope that there are more than 3 or 4 people who are coming back regularly at any frequency.     Lord knows that I have a majority of silent readers with very few venturing any comments on the blog.    But that is ok.  I read lots of blogs and comment on only a few myself.  Please do feel free to just say hi... maybe we can strike up a conversation.  :)

In any case, maybe I don't have a great number of regular visitors to worry about disappointing if I don't post on a set timetable and the content is thin for the summer months.  Not to say I don't appreciate you guys who return for another visit, even if it is on an irregular schedule.

Where am I going with this?  I am not going to give so much time to blogging away the hours.  I might be able to sit dock side and read a blog or twelve, but I am not going to be able to continue churning them out 2 or 3 blogs  per week at least while this glorious weather calls me.   So I am reminding everyone that I am officially on summer hours and I will be posting  photos showing what I am doing more than I will be writing long blogs for the summer.  I have a few blogs prewritten for events which are coming and those will get polished and posted, and maybe if the weather turns nasty I might put out a longer update, but for the most part there will be only brief postings here.

So please pop by to see whats up when you are able but don't expect any long winded updates and essays until September, the fall weather approaches.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Neruda's Poetry: Leaning into the Afternoons

I have to confess, I have been working long hours again and that combined with an inclination to be out and about rather than inside blogging, means I dipped into my net of half written blogs/blog ideas to churn out today's offering.   As you know I love Neruda's poetry and I have still a bunch in my bag, waiting for an appropriate time to share them without risking all but poetry junkies abandoning my blog.  :)

Following is another of Neruda's poems, this one Poem VII from 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which was written in his early years.  It speaks more of the absence of love and the unhappiness that can come from from "absent eyes".  For a more lengthy analysis go here to find Bookstove's analysis of this poem.   If you want to dive into some of my other blogs and about Neruda and read/hear more of his poetry go here.

Leaning Into The Afternoons

Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
towards your oceanic eyes.

There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames,
its arms turning like a drowning man's.

I send out red signals across your absent eyes
that smell like the sea or the beach by a lighthouse.

You keep only darkness, my distant female,
from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes.

The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.

The night gallops on its shadowy mare
shedding blue tassels over the land.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Psychedelic Rock- for us Hippie Zoomers

My adult children occasionally remind me that "I used to be a Hippie"...  Actually, I was not a true hippie - I most definitely hit the late end of the 60's and early 70's in my teen/young adult years.  I was old enough though during my teen years to catch the end of the hippie movement but young enough to have been still at home and in high school as during this time.  I can still remember talking about what happened at Kent State in May of 1970 in a Grade 11 classroom.  That was the sunset on the Hippie years.  By the time I was out of the house and "clubbing" it was disco fever and that is where I landed through a great deal of the 70's.  Though I was not really fully in the sex and drugs counter culture of 60s, I did participate in the tail end of the "Love and Peace" years.

I grew up spending a lot of time listening to the music of the 60s and psychedelic rock during high school.  To this day when I hear "A Whiter Shade of Pale" or "White Rabbit" or "Someone to Love", I smile recollecting those easy going days where our biggest problem was what to do on a Saturday night.

The weather was so great this weekend and I was able to be up at my Collingwood Shangri-La for this wonderful Victoria Day holiday.  I did spend a lot of time lazing in the sun and taking it easy, recalling how simple life was in those days. I didn't get any blogging done (I normally write the following week's blogs on the weekend) as I was in that same easy going head space. 

I leave you with a few favourites of mine from that era. Those of you who are of the same vintage as I am, close your eyes and remember times which were so different than they are today. Added to the treat is Canada's own Smother's Brothers. I can remember watching their boundary pushing comedy show every week. They were Canada's rebellious answer to the States' Ed Sullivan Show.

According to Wiki:
Jefferson Airplane's song "Somebody to Love" Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jefferson Airplane's version #274 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
 and Wiki says of  White Rabbit:
 The song was ranked #478 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, #27 on Rate Your Music's Top Singles of All Time and appears on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

A Whiter Shade of Pale was and is still often played.  As I recall, it was my first slow dance song.  Can't remember the guy now, but I do remember that it was pretty special.  The song has a special place in my heart. 

From Wiki:
...United Kingdom performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited in 2004 recognized it as the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years.[3] Also in 2004, Rolling Stone placed "A Whiter Shade of Pale" #57 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Art and Architecture: Rogers Centre and The Audience by Michael Snow

Toronto Downtown Skyline as seen from the Toronto Islands, which lie just to the south of the City and form our natural harbour and tremendous recreational lands.
Toronto's Domed Stadium - The Roger's Centre
Toronto's Stadium lies in the heart of our downtown, tucked in beside the CN Tower.  The Dome of the Stadium and the needle of the CN Tower, surrounded by the usual office towers you might see in any city, define the Toronto Skyline.  I can see it from my east facing bedroom window and I have featured several pictures of that view in my blog.  From the angle I view, the Rogers Centre (formerly called the Sky Dome) is not very visible as it is mostly hidden by condo and office towers, as you can see from my picture below.

Our Sky Dome was built in the late 1980s at a time that dense construction of the downtown area west was just getting underway.  I can remember when the area was just a bunch of railway tracks and industrial buildings, even Liberty Village was not yet anything more than mostly abandoned industrial buildings and the Inglis Appliance Factory.  Now it is a vibrant and ever growing upscale residential and recreational area frequented by people for every day activities and for special events.

About the Rogers Centre from Wiki:

Rogers Centre, formerly known as Sky Dome, is a multi-purpose stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated next to the CN Tower near the shores of Lake Ontario. Originally opened in 1989, it is home to the American League's Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, the site of the annual International Bowl American college football bowl game, and as of 2008, the National Football League's Buffalo Bills' second playing venue in the Bills Toronto Series. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large-scale events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, funfairs, and monster truck shows. The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications in 2005. 
The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully-retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348-room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. It is also the most recent North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football, as well as baseball..

Because the construction around this area is fairly recent, most of it has been built after Toronto instituted its "Percent for Art" program.   From the City of Toronto Web site:  
The Percent for Public Art Program recommends that a minimum of one percent of the gross construction cost of each significant development be contributed to public art. The governing principle for the Percent for Public Art Program is that art is a public benefit to be enjoyed and experienced by residents and visitors throughout the city. The Program requires that the artwork must be clearly visible at all times from publicly accessible areas.
As a consequence, the area developed from the Sky Dome and west is rich with public art and a feast for the walking person to take in.  In the next few dozens of Thursdays I will focus on Art and Architecture in the downtown area near the Sky Dome and the surrounding area running west through to Liberty Village.  Not that I haven't already done dozens of blogs covering art and architecture in the Downtown area but just to let you know there are dozens more to come.  Last week's blog on the Barca Volante (Flying Canoe) at the Navy Wharf building which is right across the road from the Roger's Centre is another example.  Just to let you know that there are lots more to come, I thought a proper introduction was in order to give some context to the coming blogs.

Art and Architecture at the Toronto Roger's Centre  
(AKA The Sky Dome)
Michael Snow - The Audience
I just love this installation, which sits at the two northern corners of the stadium. This is a whimsical sculpture, giant caricatures of the sorts of people you might see at the stadium watching a game.

This shows the location of the piece on the NE structure
The picture above looks east and shows the one part of the installation, which look to be stadium box full of cheering people watching a game.  It is located on the eastern most part the supporting structure upon which the giant roof retracts - you can see the tracks that the roof retracts on in the picture.  You can also see a bit of the Renaissance Hotel which adjoins the stadium.  It would be really neat during a Blue Jays game to be in one of the hotel rooms with windows looking out into the stadium field.

This is a close up of the work installed at the NE corner.
The right most part of the installation is another couple of stadium boxes full of people - they always make smile.  I view this work from my office building which is right beside the Rogers Centre and I can see it from above when I look out the 13th floor south windows. 
This is the NW part of the installation.
This is a close up of the folks looking out of the N-W "Stadium Box" Click for greater detail.

I am going to go out on my lunch break next week and take some photos of the draw bridge between the Stadium and the walk way to Front Street which is one of the access points to the Stadium and right beside my place of work.  There are quite a few interesting pieces of public art installed in and around the CN Tower to also show you. Stay tuned for next week's installment.

This next photo shows the Roger's Stadium as it is seen from our waterfront, lit up at night.  It is a nice sight to see.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tom Waits - (Looking for) The Heart Of Saturday Night

I think Saturday nights are very special. I work extremely hard all week.  While I do look forward to Friday - it has the sweet air of excitement of things to come - it falls short.   Friday night is a night to let loose a bit, a night to unwind or even on a bad week it's a night to crawl into one's hovel and collapse in a heap.  It is decidedly the night before the main event. Saturday night is what we all look forward to. It is the night - the top of the week's mountain before Sunday morning, coming down.

It is my favourite night because it is all about relaxing and doing whatever feels right.   And hopefully being with one's own honey.  There are lots of Saturday Night songs.  This one, The Heart of Saturday Night, by Tom Waits is my favourite.

From Wiki's entry on Tom Waits:
The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), featuring the song "(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night," revealed Waits's roots as a nightclub performer, with half-spoken and half-crooned ballads often accompanied by a jazz backup band. Waits described the album as:

...a comprehensive study of a number of aspects of this search for the center of Saturday night, which Jack Kerouac relentlessly chased from one end of this country to the other, and I've attempted to scoop up a few diamonds of this magic that I see.

This song is contained in his 1974 album of the same name. In 2003, the album was ranked number 339 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, his highest placing, according to the wiki entry relating to the album.  I just purchased the album  from iTunes.  His music has certainly stood the test of time.  I am enjoying some great songs as I write this blog.  :)

The mention of the name Jack Kerouac in the Wiki article is in reference to the style of some of his songs.  His recitation of the lyric rhythmically against bass and drums is reminiscent of Beat Generation poetry and Beat hipster Jack Kerouac who wrote about his trek across the States in his famous book "On the Road" published in April 1951.  This is, by the way, an advance plug for my May 30th Poetry Blog which will feature Beat Generation poetry.

This is not the first time I have blogged about Tom Waits.  Go here to read my earlier blog.

I think the Tom Waits Song, The Heart of Saturday Night, is so appropriate as my Saturday night anthem.  (OK, others might choose the Hockey Song by  Stomping Tom Connors LOL).  The melody is mellow and easy in tempo and tone and his lyrics speak of the sort of time we all experienced as teens out on the town on a Saturday night. 

I may not cruise down Main Street on Saturday night in the arms of my sweetie anymore, but Saturday night for me still holds that same excitement, even if sitting on my couch watching a movie alone rather than with my sweetie.   Indeed, Saturday night is a special night. I have long stopped looking for the heart of Saturday night. I live it each week and I hope you do too.

I have included 2 Videos of Tom Waits doing this signature song of his.  I like the first one, which was taken from his 1974 Album and is musically a better version, I think.  The second Video is a live performance of the song and contains a long humorous banter poking some fun at the songs lyrics.  It is fun to listen to also.

Close your eyes as you listen to Tom Waits sing my Saturday Night anthem.  Enjoy the Heart of Saturday night.

(Looking for) The Heart Of Saturday Night
by Tom Waits

You gassed her up behind the wheel
With your arm around your sweet one in your Oldsmobile
Barrelin' down the boulevard
Looking for the heart of Saturday night

Got paid on Friday and your pockets are jinglin'
And you see the lights, you get all tinglin'
'Cause you're cruisin' with a six
Looking for the heart of Saturday night

Comb your hair, pleads your face
Try to wipe out every trace
Of all the other days in the week
You know this'll be the Saturday reachin' your peak

Stop on the red, goin' on the green
Tonight'll be like nothin', you've ever seen
Barrelin' down the boulevard
Looking for the heart of Saturday night

Is it the crack of the poolballs, neon buzzin'?
Telephone's ringing, it's your second cousin
The barmaid that's smilin' from the corner of her eye
The magic of the melancholy tear in your eye

But that makes it kind of quiver down in the core
Dreamin' of them Saturdays that came before
And now you're stumblin', stumblin' onto the heart of Saturday night
Now you're stumbling, stumblin' onto the heart of Saturday night.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Living in a Sci fi Dream: I am lining up for this Device!

Those of you who know me understand that I am a gadget person and right out there on the edge of anything new.

I definitely would be in the early adopter category on the Roger's Diffusion of Innovation curve.
For some reason, when I hear about a new technology, tool or even an idea, I sit up and take notice and check into it to see if it might be something great.  Then if it  does look worthwhile - I go for it!  Sometimes I am wrong, sometimes I am right.  I figure you can't always be right and there are benefits to be had in the use of innovative tools and techniques.

I have had a special interest in the area of Brain Machine interfaces for the last year.  It is something (not giving away too much) that is featured in my novel in progress, drafted during NaNoWriMo last November.  So I was absolutely blown away when I saw a Video this week which featured and the Emotiv device.  Having watched this Video I am dumb founded.

The Emotiv Mind Machine Control Device

Mind Control Device Demonstration -  In the video following Tan Le, co-founder and president of Emotiv Systems, gives a live demo of a mind control device that uses a person's thoughts to input computer commands.

Idea City 2010

Tan Le is a presenter at Idea City 2010.   What is Idea City, you might ask?

Idea City is Toronto's answer to Ted Talks which is held in Toronto on June 16,17,18 2010.

From the Idea City Website:
What is ideaCity?
50 Presenters, 3 Legendary Parties, a Ton of Inspiration

ideaCity, also known as 'Canada's Premiere Meeting of the Minds', is an eclectic gathering of artists, adventurers, authors, cosmologists, doctors, designers, entertainers, filmmakers, inventors, magicians, musicians, scientists and technologists.

Fifty of the planet's brightest minds converge on Toronto each June to speak to a highly engaged audience. Only 700 are privileged to attend.

Produced and presented by Moses Znaimer, ideaCity is not themed around any one topic, issue or business. There are no scripted speeches or, breakout or parallel sessions. Rather, everyone is in one place and in on the same narrative.

With extra-long schmooze breaks between sessions, and legendary parties each night, attendees have had an unprecedented opportunity to mingle with such notable speakers as Conrad Black, Barbara Gowdy, Michael Ignatieff, Douglas Coupland, Pamela Wallin, Pete Seeger, Robert Kennedy Jr., John Ralston Saul, Daniel Libeskind, Clayton Ruby, Romeo Dallaire and the late Peter Jennings.

I am sooooo tempted to buy tickets and attend this year's idea city!  It is very expensive, but I wonder if I could possibly justify it as a business expense?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Toronto Art and Architecture: Flying Canoe

I have been trucking around the downtown area scoping out public art and sculpture to blog about. I think I could do one blog a week about art and architecture in the Toronto Downtown area for the rest of my life and still have something to write about in my next life.

The sculpture pictured above sits in an area of some new downtown Condominium towers in the Concord City Place Development. This is a new collection of maybe 15 to 20 new towers which are being built out over a 10-15 year period. Today's sculpture is featured in the area of one of the first few to be built - around the Navy Wharf Street, right by the Roger's Centre, Toronto's Sky Dome.

This creative work was inspired by the French Canadian Folk tale "the flying canoe".
The legend originated from a French legend about a man named Gallery, a rich nobleman who loved to hunt. In fact, he loved to hunt so much that he even skipped the Sunday mass to do so. He was condemned to fly forever through the night skies, being chased by galloping horses and howling wolves, which is reminiscent of the hunts he so loved.

French people who settled in Canada swapped stories with the native people and eventually the tale of Gallery was combined with a legend the natives had about a flying canoe. Thus we have a tale of "The Bewitched Canoe" or "La Chasse-galerie." This legend was published in The Century in August of 1892. It was written by Honore Beaugrand (1848 

The following video, by Sarah Keenlyside is a great source of information about the Chilean artist, Francisco Gazitua,  and the journey of his artwork "Barca Volante" from Chile to Toronto.  It is really interesting to hear about how the sculpture was conceived, made and eventually shipped to its location in Toronto.

The Long Voyage of Barca Volante from sarah keenlyside on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A question posed and Song of the Week - Peter Gabriel - The Power of the Heart

Before we get to the Song of the Week, let me present the debate topic of the month:  With Discipline or Without Obligation?

I am constantly pulled for time.  I try to make time to blog as I find it an enjoyable activity and I think it is good to be disciplined, even if with a hobby.  There are times however I wish I could take a more relaxed approach to my blogs and just do it when I feel like it.  Recently, I found some interesting arguments for each point of view presented in other blog sites.

Blogging with Discipline
Presenting the case for regular blogging, no matter what else is going on in your life,
C Beth who writes a number of blogs, the above which explains the concept of Blogging with discipline.  Who amongst us can argue against this?  It just makes sense that if you want to encourage regular readers then they need to know when to come back to read the next blog.

Blogging without Obligation
Presenting an opposing viewpoint, that blogging should be at the mercy of the bloggist's whimsy..  Tartx who writes Down the Tartx Rabbit Hole promotes the concept of blogging when and only damn well when one wants to.

 I liked this point made by Tartx:
  • Because you shouldn't have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill - who likes treadmills?   My thought: Only your little gerbil because they have nothing else to do...

There you have it folks, two sides of blogging.   You might notice that I have for some time now been hosting the badge of "Blogging without obligation" although I have pretty much settled on at least a Tues/Thurs post with sometimes weekend posts as well.  I have decided that weekends are optional.  As summer comes I think I will post reliably once per week with any other post being optional.  We should not be slaves to our blogs - unless of course like your gerbil you don't have anything else to occupy your time - or you have found a way to monetize it sufficiently to earn a living from it.

OK bloggists, time to weigh in... What do you think?

Peggy's Song of the Week:
Without further adieu I would like to present my song selection of the week.  I heard this the other day and it perked my ears up and brought back memories.  I hope it will do for you as well.

You and me we sweat and strain
You look for sun and I look for rain
We're different people, we're not the same
The power of the sun
I looked for treetops, you looked for caps
Above the water, where the waves snap back
I flew around the world to bring you back
Ahh, the power of the heart
You looked at me and I looked at you
The sleeping heart was shining through,
The wispy cobwebs that we're breathing through
The power of the heart
I looked at you and you looked at me
I thought of the past, you thought of what could be
I asked you once again to marry me
The power of the heart
Everybody says love makes the world go round
I hear a bubbling and I hear a sound
Of my heart beating and I turn around
And find you standing at the door
You know me I like to dream a lot
Of this and that and what is not
And finally I figured out what was what
It was the power of the heart
You and me we sweat and strain
The result is always the same
You think somehow we're in a game
The power of the heart
The power of the heart
I think I'm dumb, I know you're smart
The beating of a purebred heart
I say this to you and it's not a lark
Marry me today
You know me I like to dream a lot
Of what there is and what there's not
But mainly I dream of you a lot
The power of your heart
The power of the heart

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Moments

A Mother's Day Getaway
I am having a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.  As a busy professional and  mother of 5 grown children, I have discovered that for me, time for quiet and solitude are more appreciated than any other gift I could be given.  I am particularly blessed to have a getaway place to enable me to recharge from my busy weeks.  This weekend, I am so very grateful that I am able to be at my Georgian Bay retreat, my little Shangri-La at Rupert's Landing.  Although the weather is cold and nasty - I am very happy. 

The sand bar just beyond the marina causes the waves to break well out from shore.  While Georgian Bay has high waves, White's Bay is relatively calm since it is sheltered and very shallow.
I took a walk this morning out to the end of the sea wall that encloses our marina and forms a break wall on White's Bay.  The wind was particularly bitter, I had to drape my arm over my face to keep the ice pellets from blinding me as I walked out the the furthest most reach into the Bay.  It feels so invigorating to feel the spray in your face and hear the pounding of the waves.  Bella and I very much enjoyed our morning walk although it ended up to be a morning run. It was so cold out by the water that we ran all the way home!
You can see the Blue Mountain ski runs are still snow covered.  Click for a better view.

Even within the enclosed area of the marina the wind is whipping up the water.
The Ruperty's Landing community consists of a number of low rise stacked condominium buildings in an area spanning Highway 26 on the south and Georgian Bay on the north, just on the edge of Collingwood.  There are a dozen low rise buildings and one high rise tower, arranged in a fashion similar to a Carribean resort community.   Each building houses about 14 residences, although most are  occupied by folks like me, needing a weekend escape for either skiing &/or summer holiday fun.  My building is beside the Recreation Centre and Tennis Courts, a short walk to the water's edge.  My idea of heaven would be to have a unit which looked out into the Bay, so I could hear the pounding of the waves and the blue of the lake where it joins the sky on the horizon, but on the other hand my unit has unrivaled privacy.
Some hopefuls have their boats in the water even though capsizing would mean hypothermia in minutes.  It will be a month before water temperatures are tolerable.  Kyaking anyone?
It is just a short walk to the marina following a winding lined with ornamental cherry trees.  They are just starting to come into bloom.  What a contrast to the senses - the warmth of the pink blossoms in stark contrast with the cold white snow pellets carried by the wind.
The ornamental cherry trees are almost blooming along the pathway.

It is heaven to sit here, fireplace warming my toes and cuppa coffee in hand,  in a mellow mood listening to Melodie Gardot and Diana Krall sing some jazz favourites.  I hope I can share these nice vibes with my blogsphere friends as you read my blog today.

I will head back to Toronto in the mid of the afternoon.  We have a birthday celebration planned for my daughter Laura and there will be about 20 of us in attendance. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long to get seated at the Old Spagetti Factory - the spot chosen for the bash.  There will be my parents and myself, the 5 and significant others (or not) of the moment, my X husband - my children's father and his wife.  There will also be a few "honourary  adult children" who have grown up with and become lifelong friends of my biological offspring.  We should have a cozy and happy time.

A Poem by Mahmoud Darwish :- My Mother
For me, anything can be an excuse to look for a poem and Mother's Day is no different.  I promised to lay off the Neruda Poems, but in the interest of acknowledging the wider body of poetry that exists in the world, aside from the English revered poets, I decided to include a poem which was written by a very famous poet from the Middle East - Mahmound Darwish.  I have to thank my friend, A Cuban In London, who introduced me to this poet and the poem on his blog "On Literature and Other Abstract Thoughts"

According to Wiki:
Mahmoud Darwish (Arabic: محمود درويش‎) (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008) was a Palestinian poet and author who won numerous awards for his literary output and was regarded as the Palestinian national poet. In his work, Palestine became a metaphor for the loss of Eden, birth and resurrection, and the anguish of dispossession and exile.
I have enjoyed learning about this poet and time spent reading his poetry.  This one, I long for my Mother's bread my Mother's coffee, is appropriate for Mother's Day.  My mother never made coffee as a rule, as tea is the drink of choice for those of her Newfie heritage.  I can however, remember as a child, both my mother and my grandmother baking bread.  Pleasant memories of  huge bowls of dough rising on the kitchen counter and the smell of baking bread and if we were lucky, some warm bread and butter fresh out of the oven.

If you are not so enamoured with Middle Eastern music, you can skip the video and just read the poem.

- a poem by Mahmoud Darwish :- My Mother أمي
المعروفة بـ "أحن الى خبز امي"

I long for my mother's bread
My mother's coffee
Her touch

Childhood memories grow up in me
Day after day
I must be worth my life
At the hour of my death
Worth the tears of my mother.

And if I come back one day
Take me as a veil to your eyelashes
Cover my bones with the grass
Blessed by your footsteps
Bind us together
With a lock of your hair
With a thread that trails from the back of your dress
I might become immortal
Become a God
If I touch the depths of your heart.

If I come back
Use me as wood to feed your fire
As the clothesline on the roof of your house
Without your blessing
I am too weak to stand.

I am old
Give me back the star maps of childhood
So that I
Along with the swallows
Can chart the path
Back to your waiting nest.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nerudas Poetry - If you Forget Me

Poetry Month is over, but somehow I did not manage to blog about each of my favourite Pablo Neruda poems even though I did include 10 of his very best and renowned poems.  I enjoy poetry and so decided that it would be fun to do one poetry blog a month throughout the whole year instead of just April.  You can look forward to the last day in every month to be a poetry blog - or not and skip that blog :-p.

For good measure I will also do one today and it will be another of my Neruda favourites.  Stay tuned for the end of May - I promise to introduce you to a poet and writer I have not spoken (much) about as yet.  I wrote briefly about Jack Kerouac as a sidebar to the Haiku blog here.  I will feature this interesting "beat" author and discuss beat generation poetry and other literature in my May 30th blog.

If you are interested in Neruda the man, but not so much interested in more Love Poems, skip down to the last part.  I found a fascinating documentary covering the early part of his life and I have included it at the end of this blog.

Neruda's Sonnet: If You Forget Me

If you have not read the previous posts to celebrate poetry month  relating Pablo Neruda's great poetry go here to catch up.    In the following Video Madonna narrates Neruda's Poem If You Forget Me.  She included it on a version of her song "Frozen", calling it "Frozen (Poetry Edit)".  I can`t find this one in any of the 3 books  his poetry I have, so therefore it is not in his 100 Love Sonnets, 20 Poems and Song of Despair or his poetry book titled Intimacies.  If anyone out there knows which book this one was published in I would be glad for the information.

I really like this one. It expresses so potently the way our love, if not returned fades away over time.  The opposite can also occur, if one feels a warm and shining love from another, slowly over time the love you feel for that other person can grow, as if nutured itself by the love emanating from the other person.   I have had this happen to me in more than one instance...  Love can ebb and flow like the tides driven by the moon.  This is one thing that perplexes me.  But no matter.  Listen to Madonna recite for us Neruda`s If you Forget Me.

For some other thoughts and analysis of the meaning of this poem go here.

If You Forget Me
I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

- Pablo Neruda

A Documentary on Pablo Neruda`s Life
This is a 6 part series on the early life of Pablo Neruda.  I have included the first part below and links to the remaining 5 parts, if you are interested you can click through.

Also, I have also  found a short biography  in case you want the Coles Notes. 

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Art and Architecture: Remembered Sustenance

In the south lawn of the Metro Hall Building at Wellington and John Streets is a sculpture titled "Remembered Sustenance".   I took these photos last summer and as I look at them now, somehow I took them all from the "rear end view".  I went out last weekend and took a bunch more photos and this time taking more time to reflect on the composition of the litte dog/rabbits within the frame of the photo a bit more carefully.

The sculpture is located right by the Metro Hall Daycare playground - so it is appropriate in both visual congruity and by title.

These little creatures are just the size for little ones to sit on and pretend ride.

From an e-Brochure published by the City of Toronto which serves as a walking guide to the 22 works which are included in Toronto's Downtown Art Walk:
Remembered Sustenance
Cynthia Hurley (Short), 1992
The inspiration for Remembered Sustenance is drawn
from the location of the sculpture’s site. Adjacent to
an outdoor daycare playground the work has been
created to convey the sense of playfulness and
whimsy associated with children’s stories and games.
A group of bronze, non-specific-looking cartoon-like
animals appear to be migrating in procession across
the lawn, towards, then away from a curtain drawn by
two birds. Below the curtain, a plate set in the ground
holds a negative impression of the shape of a small
ballerina that might be found in a child’s music box.
This element represents the remembered experiences
of childhood that the artist suggests can sustain us
throughout our lives.
Open and abundant with possibility of meaning, it is
the artist’s stated intention that the work should most
of all be enjoyed by children.

Next Tuesday I will post another blog on the Art and Architecture around our Metro Hall, home to the City of Toronto (and the amalgamated Boroughs) Government administrative departments.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One - U2 or Mary J. Bilge - an All Time Great Song

I heard this song on CBC Radio 2 on my way home from work on Friday and I was reminded of  what an enduring favourite this song is.  Made famous by the band U2, it is a Rock classic and a perfect "cause" song  used by a number of organizations promoting human rights and social justice causes.  Bono uses it in promotion  "One Campaign", which is a grass roots international, nonpartisan, non-profit organization aiming to increase government funding for and effectiveness of international aid.  Bono and Bob Geldof were instrumental in the formation of this organization - a merger of DATA, World Vision, Oxfam America, and Bread for the World.  Bono is such a humanitarian, as his wiki noted awards attest to.

But I digress... the song is one of the greatest Rock songs of all time no doubt.  From Wiki:
"One" is a song by Irish rock band U2 and the third track from their 1991 album, Achtung Baby. It was released as the album's third single in March 1992. ...
The song is widely considered to be one of the band's greatest songs and is consistently featured in lists of the greatest songs of all-time. Rolling Stone ranked the song #36 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" (also their highest-ranked song from the 90's), and Q ranked the song at #1 on its list of the "1001 Greatest Songs of All-Time".[2]

Contrary to what one might think after a superficial listen to the song it is not about "oneness" -  it is a song about splitting up. 

Rather than selecting a live video of this song - U2 has performed it at every single concert that they have given - I chose the one produced by the renowned director Anton Corbjin in 1992.  It captures the essence of the song wonderfully.

Songwriters: Hewson, Paul;Evans, Dave;Clayton, Adam;Mullen, Larry Jr
(Note: Bono's real name is Paul Hewson)

Is it getting better?
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now?
You got someone to blame
You say
One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's

Too late
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
carry each other
carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus?
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much?
More than a lot.
You gave me nothing,
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
See we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love is a higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't keep holding on
To what you got
When all you've got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters and my
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


I had to also include the Bono and Mary J. Bilge duet version which was recorded with U2 in 2006.  The updated tempo and engergy that Mary J. Bilge brings to the song lifts it even to a higher level - if that is possible.  This version does not however communicate the melancholy that the original U2 version does.

I couldn't help but also include a pic from long ago - boy we all sure have changed from the days of our youth and U2 is no different.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Liberty Bistro Saturday Nights

It is a grey morning here in Toronto, but the weather is warm and almost balmy.  Lake Ontario is reflecting the greys of the sky and the shore on the far side seems just a blend of darker grey.  I have broken out my balcony furniture and have reconstructed my outdoor living room in preparation for another summer season.  Despite grey skies, petty injustices and less than desired outcomes in a few fronts, life is pretty good in Toronto.

Now that I have my Collingwood Shangri-La back from my winter ski tenants I am not so often in Toronto on a Saturday night.  I decided to stay home this weekend to get ahead of chores in the City, before the really great weather starts and so was around to catch something very special that is happening on the first Saturday each month at the Liberty Bistro.  Actually, something special happens each Saturday night at the Liberty Bistro, but the first Saturday is reserved for the Latin Jazz band XOTEKA.  Aside from the regulars in the band, there is also a different musical guest each month and this month it was Luis Mario Ochoa.  The music was just fantastic and the warm and friendly atmosphere combined with great music, good food and  friendly faces made the night really special.

XOTEKA, (pronounced "exotica") is  a band featuring Laura Fernandez' vocals and Don Naduriak on piano.  The quartet included a skilled percussionist and a really talented bassist  and they were joined on stage by others at various points in the evening.  Other than Don, I am not sure if the other musicians are regulars in the band as the MySpace site for XOTEKA does not contain much detail.  For a period of time in 2009 the band did the Tropical Night Thursdays dinner show at  Chalkers Bistro Pub/Pool hall,  but having checked the Chalkers site there is no mention of  this now so I presume that gig has ended.  Seems like if you want to hear this band, at least for the time being you will need to mark the first Saturday of each month on your calendar as a Liberty Bistro night.

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