Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to Friends Past, Present and Future....

I haven't had any time to blog for longer than I can remember.  There are the usual excuses - too much to do with the hours I have and there is little time left to even get a half decent night's sleep.

I especially wanted to make time today to wish all my friends in the Blogsphere the very best of the holiday season.  I hope you have a great time with friends and family over the holidays and your wishes for wonderful things next year all come true.  Special thoughts of love to my dear friends who I won't be able to see this Christmas. Though you might be far away know that I still carry thoughts of you in my heart.

I have planned a new blog for the New Year. I am going to call it "Bucket List Adventures" as it will contain my travel blogs. I have not done justice as yet to my Iceland trip of the summer and I have just about completed plans for my 6 month sabbatical which will start on Feb 15th. I will keep this blog on the back burner for next July when I return from Europe and settle back into my Toronto routine.

Watch in the coming days for the first blog in my new site. I have spent a great deal of time planning my Cuba, Spain, France and Italy itineraries. It takes a lot of time to check out lodgings, points of interest and to researching equipment to take on a 1,000 KM trek not to mention the training program I have started in earnest. Lots to do.

I have discovered that the University of Havana intakes new Spanish Languages students each month.  So after a couple of weeks of R & R treking Cuba, during the month of March I will be taking a 4 week language course in Havana. 

For my Europe leg of my holiday 6 weeks will be spent in Spain walking the Camino - The Pilgrim's Trail via the Via de la Plata route. After that it is France and Italy for the remaining 6 weeks. One can only remain in the EU for 90 days in each 180 days and long term visas seem impossible to get. So I will return to Canada with enough time to maybe have a bit of a trip to the East Coast before I am back to work in September.

I will put a link to my travel blog on this site when I get the inaugural post finished.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Mega-Quarry -- Foodstock Protest

OK, so I have got to start blogging again - even though I have less than no time.  I miss spending time writing and trading comments with my friends in the blogsphere.  Going to try to get back at it again.  The plan this time is to ease back into this habit once again.  Lets hope that I can keep these blogs coming with some regularity.

Today I attended Foodstock.  Lots of protests going on these days and this is one that I can get behind whole heartedly.
Prime Class 1 Farmland in Melancthon Township - the location of Foodstock

Ontario has some prime farmland in the area I drive through on my way to Collingwood, just north of Shelburne .   Highway 124, which runs north from Shelburne all the way to Georgian Bay in the centre of Collingwood cuts through the middle this wonderful potato growing land.  Maybe soon to be x-wonderful potato growing land for 8,000 acres which have been proposed to become Canada`s largest aggregate quarry.  There are two things which threaten the countryside in these parts, in the eyes of the locals and some not so locals.  One thing generating a lot of protests are the windmills which are slowly marching north (Go to the Town of Shelburne website if you want to see) - but explaining that is another blog.  The other item which is more certainly threatening the countryside and is not debated by anyone who lives near or travels up and down highway 124 is the proposed Mega-quarry. 

Quoting from a Reuters news release:
The project, which would supply crushed limestone for Toronto's booming construction industry, has counted value investor Seth Klarman's Baupost Group as one of its investors.
Highlands Cos, the company behind the quarry, plans to carve out the huge pit on thousands of acres of potato fields it has bought up about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Toronto.

 I might add that I am not sure the above news release is entirely correct.  According to some of my research the limestone to be quarried may actually be destined for distant countries as the supply is way more than Toronto would absorb.

As I am told, many of the local farmers sold their land to Highlands Cos. after being told that the land would be maintained as farmland.  They are sick that the land will end up as a giant hole in the ground (see below) , and an eyesore for the folks in the area.  More importantly, it would ruining the water table for the farmers around who did not sell out.  Being at the highpoint in the southern Ontario landscape, headwaters of 5 rivers supplying water to a large rural area, it could threaten the water supply for a lot of folks.

I have put together this little bit of a photo-diary to tell you about the event, which was a fundraiser for the "No Mega-Quarry" cause.  If any of this has struck a chord and you weren`t able to get out and leave the suggested $10 donation in exchange for the food and music - go to No Mega-quarry and leave your donation now.

Go here if you want a full news report of the event. 

Photo taken from the David Suzuki Foundation web site explaining the environmental impact of the mega-quarry.
Go here to the David Suzuki Foundation to find out why the Mega-quarry is a bad thing for the area.

Support for the No Mega-quarry group comes from all quarters.

Paths criss-crossed through the woods with a foodie tent every 5 yards or so.

Long lineups  but for some pretty scrumptious food.  We entertained while waiting by telling jokes. Did you hear the one about  (oops - can`t say that one in mixed company!)

Not only were there 100 of Toronto's top Chefs represented but also many local top drawer eateries.  This one is on our list to visit when next in Thornbury.

It was pretty cold and rainy, but the sun broke out a couple of times.

Not only were there roving musicians, but also there must have been a poet leaving his/her thoughts hanging about. 

Chef Michael Stadtländer got my vote for the best dish (a spectacularly tasty cabbage soup garnished with squash) but also for speedy service and rustic ambience.

Chef Stadtländer serving up his soup from a massive pumpkin! 
The fields were rather muddy, it being a cold and drizzly day, but we all had our wellies on! Lots of room for the 28,000 in attendance to stand and listen to the local Ontario music.

We got finished our tour of the food tents to catch a bit of Cuff the Duke. 

Hayden was next on stage after a talk by a speaker from the David Suzuki Foundation, who explained the implications of the Mega-quarry to the local water table and environment. To follow were Ron Sexsmith & Colleen Hixenbaugh and Members of the Barenaked Ladies.  The finale featured Jim Cuddy and Cuff The Duke.

Music to Dance Around the Kitchen With 

I have been listening to a lot of Chris Issak these days. Here is one that I was rockin' around my kitchen to earlier tonight as I cooked up a storm. I am on a diet - the Dukan diet to be exact. This diet (similar to the Atkin`s diet but a bit more sensible) requires that I eat copious quantities of meat and fish and dairy. So Sunday night's ritual is to get out my George Foreman Grill and cook up 3 or 4 types of heavy duty protein foodstuffs and pack them up in lunch size containers so I can continue ridding myself of my muffin top. Yes, I know - need to join a gym also - I am working up to that. Anyway, the song following has found it's way into my brain and is on continual loop.

I want you to want me
I'd love you to love me
I'm beggin you to beg me
I need you to need me

I want you to want me
I'd love you to love me
I'm beggin you to beg me
Put on old brown shoes, put on a brand-new shirt
Get home early from work if you say that you love me

Baby, didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?
Didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?
Feelin all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin.
Baby, didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?

I want you to want me
I'd love you to love me
I'm beggin you to beg me
I need you to need me
Kick on old brown shoes, put on a brand-new shirt.
Get home early from work if you say that you love me.

Oh, didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?
Didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?
Feelin all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin.
Baby, didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?

Feelin all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin.
Baby, didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin?

I want you to want me
I'd love you to love me
I'm beggin you to beg me
Oh I need you to need me
I want you to want me
I want you to want me
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sad September Day and Hope

Today is a day of sad remembrance and a day of reflection.  Ten years since the Twin Towers fell and the word terrorism took on a new significance.

Ten years ago today, I was in class at Sheridan College, having quit work and back at school to retool and go back into the IT field. I recall classes becoming deserted as whispers of a terrible accident surfaced and many of us wandered over to the student union building, where live coverage was being telecast on a huge TV screen. It was here that I saw the 2nd tower being hit - pretty much the same picture as I have included above - and then over the next two hours, the two towers each collapsing. As the brain absorbed the event I viewed the footage being replayed over and over again and tried to make sense of what was happening. Many of us sat spellbound in front of TVs for most of the next 4 or 5 days as we came to terms with what we saw.

I don't think much learning went on at school that week. We were in shock and in disbelief of the magnitude and horror of the attack. That was 10 years ago. The world has changed so much since then in response to this event. Today as we we reflect upon it,  I am not sure if we are any more hopeful about our future and our "War on Terror", despite the fact that Osama Bin Ladin has been caught and killed.  We are for sure more careful and I am happy when I see the extent of security when I get on a flight.  I am hopeful that with the increased vigilance of the authorities, we can be spared of any more horrors as the world witnessed on 9/11.

This week has been a pretty sad one for me, so my mood is in keeping with this day of remembrance. My dear little dog Bella is no longer with me. She developed a health issue which put her in a great deal of pain and for which there were few options and no certainty of recovery and a life without pain.

Bella was a fabulous dog and a great friend and companion. I put together a small photo gallery as a tribute to her life and would invite my friends to visit it and celebrate her life with me. When Bella arrived in July of 2005 she was a tiny puppy and she could not even climb the stairs. She grew to be a very well behaved and wonderfully loving dog.

Each day, when I opened the door she was there to welcome me home and ready for our routine of play time. We would roll around on the floor until finally she would go fetch her treats and sit down to have a chew while went about my "get home from work" routine. Each morning before I left I would give her a few dog buiscuits. She always saved at least one to eat after I got home.

Bella saw me through more than one failed romance during her life. As relationships ended and new loves came afterwards, she was there to console when I pined loves lost and there to make friends as a new suitor arrived.

She and I were a team and we loved one another dearly. I have to thank all my dear friends for their concern and condolences and their understanding of what it means to lose a dog. I am so glad for the love of such wonderful friends. Friends make difficult times easier.

So this week has been a sad one, but moreover it has been a week for me to mark a time of change. While thinking of the changes in my life in the last 10 years, I am also thinking with great anticipation at the changes to take place in the next decade. As you know, this fall I am in full planning mode for my getaway, not only reviewing travel literature and drafting itineraries as I make decisions about where to visit and how long to stay. I will have a lot to occupy my thoughts and keep me busy. When I return from my travels it will be time enough to think about the possibility of a new dog.

As I was sorting through memories and thinking about changes in my life over these last 10 years and the love I have lost with the passing of Bella, and other people who played a role in my life during this last decade and who no longer do, it struck me that we have great capacity to love and to love again. We don't know what is around the next corner.  Two weeks ago I would could not have imagined that Bella would be gone.  Maybe what happens next will be bad, like the loss of a dog, but maybe it will be good like the arrival of a grandchild. (I am thinking of my friend Barb here who is expecting her first grandchild at the end of the year).  Once a new love arrives, we don't forget our old loves, but the new love helps us to move on.

I wanted to end this blog with something uplifting.  Music always lifts my spirit and I thought of a song which always makes me feel good when I listen to it.  The song also expresses the hope and the cure for all our woes.  The simple message in this song is wonderful and so apt.   I am sure will make everyone reading this blog smile and feel just a little bit better.

Monday, August 29, 2011

End of Summer

Boat Trip through "Hole in the Wall" - Pointe Au Baril, Georgian Bay

End of Summer really seems to have arrived.  The nights are cooling down, even days are calling for a sweater as I head off to the salt mines in the morning.

This end of summer is a bit different for me this year.  Lots of change in the air and I feel decidedly unsettled.  It is less than 6 months until I take my sabbatical and go off on my adventures.  I am moving into full planning mode now.  Lots of details to look after.  The primary item I have covered - my home and my dog.  Thanks to my son's friend Amanda I have someone to move in here and look after Bella.  Next important is what to do about my beloved Collingwood Shangri-La.

After much thought I decided to find long term tenants for the property to ensure that I didn't have a drain on my funds during the time away.  Also, maybe I am wanting to make sure that I don't have to rush back if I like where things are heading me when I am gone. 
Boat Trip through "Hole in the Wall" - Pointe Au Baril, Georgian Bay

I put an ad in Craig's list on Saturday to rent out the property.  If I can get long term tenants installed, I can put it on "autopilot" presuming that the tenant will pay their rent on time.  With the expenses covered I will be free to go wherever my heart sends me next February - that is until I run out of travel money.  LOL  So that means for the next month I will be busy getting rid of stuff.  I had previously thought that I might keep my wonderful resort condo as my home base and just rent it out for the 4 ski months next year but that seems kind of silly given for sure I will be away all next summer and back just in time to try and rent it out for ski season the year following.  Maybe I will want to continue my travels for much longer, and in fact regardless, I have decided that I will rent it out until I am able to retire and instead go on more trips in the coming years.  Lots of time to enjoy my Shangri-La once I retire.

So I need to get rid of a lot more stuff than usual - I may even have to clear out all the furniture if a tenant comes along who doesn't need it furnished.  I will be sad to leave my place of serenity but know that it is necessary to position me for maximum adventures as a gypsy in this next phase of my life.

If you know of anyone who is looking for a sweet spot in Collingwood send them over to my photo album of my Collingwood Shangri-La and have them get in touch if interested.

Canadian National Exhibition - View from my balcony - An End of Summer Ritual in Toronto

 I have been doing lots of stuff over the summer in "real life" and so not really blogging much.  I am planning on doing a few blogs to catch everyone up on the goings on - my trip to Iceland (wonderful), lots of stuff up Georgian Bay way (my weekend at Pointe Au Baril where I took the first two pictures) are just a few of the great things I have been up to this summer.

Lastly, I need to tell everyone that my baby is starting University this fall - frosh week is this week to be exact.  Tegan has been living with her father for quite a few years now and is moving out of his home to be closer to school (ok .5 km instead of 5 km LOL) ... anyway, I am so proud of Tegan and wish her well in this segment of her life. 

Vacation over, we go back to routine.
Students go back to school and

weekend  cottage trips are replaced by weekends raking leaves,
Days grow short and nights grow long.
Summer romance is over. 

We mourn end of summer.
What comes next?

End of Summer can be a sad time because the good times and fun come to an end, but more importantly it is a time of new beginnings - for some exciting beginnings.  So with mixed feelings, sadness that I won't have the solace of my Collingwood Shangri-La for a few years and excitement that goes with planning a new long term travel venture I have chosen a song by Dar Williams to send us off.

Dar Williams is described by Wiki as an American singer-songwriter who specializes in pop folk. She was born in 1967 in New York State. To learn more about Dar Williams go to her official site.

The summer ends and we wonder where we are
And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car
And you both look so young
And last night was hard, you said
You packed up every room
And then you cried and went to bed
But today you closed the door and said
"we have to get a move on.
It's just that time of year when we push ourselves ahead,
We push ourselves ahead."

And it was cloudy in the morning
And it rained as you drove away
And the same things looked different
It's the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer,
When you move to another place

And I feel like the neighbor's girl who will never be the same
She walked alone all spring,
She had a boyfriend when the summer came
And he gave her flowers in a lightning storm
They disappeared at night in green fields of silver corn
And sometime in july she just forgot that he was leaving
So when the fields were dying, she held on to his sleeves
She held on to his sleeves

And she doesn't want to let go
'cause she won't know what she's up against
The classrooms and the smart girls
It's the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer
When you hang your flowers up to dry

And I had a dream it blows the autumn through my head

It felt like the first day of school
But I was going to the moon instead
And I walked down the hall
With the notebooks they got for me
My dad led me through the house
My mom drank instant coffee
And I knew that I would crash
But I didn't want to tell them
There are just some moments when your family makes sense
They just make sense

So I raised up my arms and my mother put the sweater on
We walked out on the dark and frozen grass
The end of the summer
It's the end of the summer
When you send your children to the moon

The summer ends and we wonder who we are
And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car
And today I passed the high school, the river, the maple tree
I passed the farms that made it
Through the last days of the century
And I knew that I was going to learn again
Again, in this less hazy light
I saw the fields beyond the fields
The fields beyond the fields

And the colors are much brighter now
It's like they really want to tell the truth
We give our testimony to the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer,
You can spin the light to gold.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It is Marvelous to Wake Up Together - Elizabeth Bishop

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my usual CBC Radio Sunday thing and listened to a documentary exploring the work of American poet Elizabeth Bishop. It is the centenary of her birth and there are many projects commemorating the event this year.  I rushed over to Amazon right a way and sent off for two of the newly published volumes, "Prose" and "Poetry".  They arrived on Wed and I have been dipping into her delightful poems each night since.

It is Marvellous to Wake Up Together
by Elizabeth Bishop

It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
To feel the air suddenly clear
As if electricity had passed through it
From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
All over the roof the rain hisses,
And below, the light falling of kisses.

An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
If lighting struck the house now, it would run
From the four blue china balls on top
Down the roof and down the rods all around us,
And we imagine dreamily
How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;

And from the same simplified point of view
Of night and lying flat on one's back
All things might change equally easily,
Since always to warn us there must be these black
Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise
The world might change to something quite different,
As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking

This was not the first time I connected with this poet.  A Brazilian singer I like a lot - Luciana Souza -  has an album titled "Poems of Elizabeth Bishop".   I have blogged about this singer who does great Bossa Nova jazz before - she has set the lyric to Neruda's Love Poem 65 on her album titled "Tide".  Listening to the iTunes samples from her Bishop album, in which she has set 4 of Bishop's poems to music, I am tempted ... but no more purchases for me!  I am saving my shekels for travel!

According toWiki:
Elizabeth Bishop (8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979) was an American poet and short-story writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956 and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artists' retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia dedicated to her memory. She is considered one of the most important and distinguished American poets of the 20th century
Elizabeth was orphaned at a very young age and was adopted by her paternal side family after a bit of to and fro with her British relatives grew up with family in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father was quite wealthy and her inheritance kept her for her whole life and so was able to focus on her writing rather than having to marry or support herself.  She lived in Key West for a period of years - she was friends with Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway who had divorced Ernst by that time.   She also has claims as a Brazilian poet, as she lived  in Rio with her latin lover (Lota de Macedo Soares) for 15 years - I think she really  should be billed as an International Poet.   As has been the case for many great literary figures, there is the thread of emotional anguish and tragedy about her life circumstances which I expect fueled her work.

The Wiki article explains her sexuality as follows:
Bishop did not see herself as a "lesbian poet" or as a "female poet." Although she still considered herself to be "a strong feminist," she only wanted to be judged based on the quality of her writing and not on her gender or sexual orientation.
From my research, there is no doubt that she is one of the most important poets of her generation.  I love her poetry and look forward to finding some time to read her prose.   Her style described, in an  eZine article from Vogue:
Bishop’s work was highly personal, growing directly out of life experience rather than aesthetic exercise. She wrote about what she observed in a tangential way, so that the effect isn’t self-focused, but opens outward into a larger, more universal inquiry.

I have heard enough in these documentaries to know that there is much more to find out about this literary figure and I want to spend some more time with her.

If you wish to listen to the Radio Documentary go here:  Should we have stayed at home, wherever that may be: 100 years of Elizabeth Bishop  She is well loved and celebrated still by her Nova Scotia family.

One Art 
by Elizabeth Bishop 
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

As I researched facts for this blog I stumbled across a biography of Elizabeth Bishop on Google books "Elizabeth Bishop: life and the Memory of It " which I started to read. I think I shall go back there now and continue reading it for a while before I slip out the the Blue Mountain Peak to Shore Music Concert.  Looking forward to sipping some drinks on a patio tonight and listening to the Sarah Harmer concert.  I hope the rain holds off!

Have a great Saturday!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A triple play - Poetry, Music and Science

Sometimes wandering aimlessly through the great halls within the Internet results in some great finds.  Symphony of Science is one of them.  The Poetry of Reality is the 5th in the Symphony of Science Music Video series and is among my favourite of the now 10 videos. They are all well worth viewing, if you have an hour to spare.

According to the Symphony of Science Website:
The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. At this site you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music. The project owes its existence in large measure to the classic PBS Series Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals.
I might add, it also owes its existence to the generosity of its patrons as they fund the work through donations. Downloads are available for free.
From a visit to the site and the "About the Symphony of Science" tab, John Boswell provides us with some background and his inspiration for his unique sampling technique he uses to produce these videos. The site  tells us "Inspiration from The Gregory Brothers and DJ Steve Porter, coupled with experience with remixing, composition, and auto-tune, led to experiments with remixing scientists, culminating in Carl Sagan's "A Glorious Dawn" in Fall of 2009."

Amazing to see that they have raised funds for ten of these free Videos to date. If you like this little taste, you can visit the site and enjoy a great feast for all 3 senses at the Symphony of Science website.

I intend on hooking up my iPad to my HD TV when I get home from Shangri-La this weekend and watching them in all their glory! 

Following is the first Video which was produced in the series- "A Glorious Dawn" featuring not only Carl Sagan but also Seven Hawking.  I have included the lyrics - all are available on the website.

[Carl Sagan]
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch
You must first invent the universe

Space is filled with a network of wormholes
You might emerge somewhere else in space
Some when-else in time

The sky calls to us
If we do not destroy ourselves
We will one day venture to the stars

A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the milky way

The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths
Of exquisite interrelationships
Of the awesome machinery of nature

I believe our future depends powerfully
On how well we understand this cosmos
In which we float like a mote of dust
In the morning sky

But the brain does much more than just recollect
It inter-compares, it synthesizes, it analyzes
it generates abstractions

The simplest thought like the concept of the number one
Has an elaborate logical underpinning
The brain has its own language
For testing the structure and consistency of the world

For thousands of years
People have wondered about the universe
Did it stretch out forever
Or was there a limit

From the big bang to black holes
From dark matter to a possible big crunch
Our image of the universe today
Is full of strange sounding ideas

How lucky we are to live in this time
The first moment in human history
When we are in fact visiting other worlds

The surface of the earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean
Recently we've waded a little way out
And the water seems inviting

I see from their website that in July they released the newest -#10 - in the series. It is titled "Children of Africa". It is a musical celebration of humanity, its origins, and achievements, contrasted with a somber look at our environmentally destructive tendencies and deep similarities with other primates. Featuring Jacob Bronowski, Alice Roberts, Carolyn Porco, Jane Goodall, Robert Sapolsky, Neil deGrasse Tyson and David Attenborough.

Not sure why comments seem not clickable - republishing to see if I can fix that.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vintage 80s Pop to Suit My Mood

OK, so I haven't posted in a long while and this post shouldn't even count since it is just a musical selection of some songs I listened to this morning. This is however all I can manage at the moment. For my dear regular visitors (are there any left since my absence?) you might be wondering - I did go to Iceland?  I did and I found it to be a fabulous place - full of amazing geography, distinctive culture and incredible history. I also figured out the path that the sun takes from sunup to sunset when it only dips below the horizon for an hour - to satisfy my curious mind. (The next question: what is it's path when you are standing on the North Pole? Sadly, I guess I will never know.)   I will get to my Iceland travels at some point no doubt. But not today.

Today I put my toes very gingerly back into the Blogsphere with a musical selection for a nostalgic Sunday.  Longer and more meaty posts will need to wait in line for my time and attention.

Under Pressure
I wonder why this tune caught my ear on the radio yesterday?  LOL - we hear that which resonates, I guess.

"Under Pressure" is a 1981 song recorded by Queen and David Bowie. It marked Bowie's first released collaboration with another recording artist as a performer, and is featured on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space. The song reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. It was also number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s.

The song was played live at every Queen concert between 1982-1986.

You Take Me Up

The Thompson Twins were a British pop group that were formed in April 1977 and disbanded in May 1993. They achieved considerable popularity in the mid 1980s, scoring a string of hits in the UK, the US and around the globe. The band was named after the two bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson in Hergé's comic strip, The Adventures of Tintin. A predominantly synthpop trio, they were joined on stage at Live Aid by Madonna and were at the forefront of the second so-called British Invasion.

This is a fun Video to watch and it draws an odd caricature of my life at the moment,"It's a labour of love so don't ask me why". I put this one on my wake up play list. :)

I work on the frontline
I work to survive

And I sleep in a fever - so this is my life.
I cry in my sleep - cry boy
cry boy

It just makes me weep
when I try how I try.
I know what it means to work hard on machines.
It's a labour of love
so please
don't ask me why.
I'm looking for reasons - day in
day out.
I'm trying too hard - he's trying too hard.
I'm moving in circles - too hot
too hot.
Don't get very far - don't get very far.
Should I ask she to dance - dance boy
dance boy.
If I promise romance
will you come for the ride.
I know what it means
to work hard on machines.
Do you believe in love one that lasts for all time.

You take me up
oh ho
you take me up to the higher ground.
You take me up so high
now I never want to come back down
I'm glad in these hard times - day in
day out.
There's hope in your eyes - hope in his eyes.
I don't need a religion - too hot
too hot.
'Cause this love never dies - love never dies.
I believe in today - believe boy
believe boy.
It's better that way and you work through the night.
I know what it means
to work hard on machines.
It's a labour of love
so please
don't ask me why.
You take me up
oh ho
you take me up to the higher ground. . .
I cry in my sleep - cry boy
cry boy. . . .
You take me up
oh ho
you take me up to the higher ground. . .
You take me up. oh ho. you take me up to the higher ground. . .

The Power of Love
There is more than one song which was released in the 1980s by this name. The song that is best known was featured in that great 1980s movie Back to the Future. The You Tube is not embeddable so you need to go here to see the Video, which features clips of the movie that made this song famous.

"The Power of Love" is the title of a 1985 single by Huey Lewis and the News written for and featured in the 1985 blockbuster film Back to the Future. It gave the band their first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, their second number-one hit on the U.S. Top Rock Tracks chart, and was a top ten hit on the UK Singles Chart, where it appeared on UK editions of the band's fourth studio album, Fore!. The song was nominated for an Academy Award at the 58th Academy Awards.

Also released in the in the 1980s (1984 to be exact) was a song by the same name written by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It was also a top 10 hit and stayed in the #1 spot for 18 weeks in the UK. It is slower and more sensual and is a good listen also.  I  prefer this one by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Welcome to the Pleasuredome
"Welcome to the Pleasuredome" is the title track to the 1984 debut album by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The lyrics of the song were inspired by the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

While criticized at the time of release and afterward for being a song that glorifies debauchery, the lyrics (and video) make clear that the point of the song, just as Coleridge's poem, is about the dangers of this kind of lifestyle. This song, along with Relax, made Frankie Goes To Hollywood even more controversial than they already were.
Oh, what I would give for a little debauchery in my life right now. LOL

Kubla Khan
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Awesome Saturday - Great Dinner, Visual Art and Music

The main highways through Toronto's core are closed to cars today for the annual Ride for Heart. Click to see the great detail I am getting from my new Canon SX220!

I had just a great day yesterday. Not only did I get my errands done as 11 Ikea boxes sitting before me are evidence of, but I had a fabulous evening thanks to my son Eric.

Eric had invited me along to enjoy the Zoe Keating Concert and we ended up having a chock full evening with dinner and an art show added onto our itinerary.  Eric was even heading out after the concert for his 1st Saturday in the month standing group Rock Band event at Rockie Raccoon's Eatery afterwards.  More energy than I! 

The Gladstone Hotel - Dinner and Art

We were able to meet and catch up on chit chat at The Gladstone for dinner before the show. Eric was not familiar with the Gladstone as a visual arts showplace and so after dinner we snuck upstairs for a quick look at whatever was on the walls.

I have written about the Gladstone Hotel before. It is a small (37 room) boutique hotel located 10 minutes north of Liberty Village in the trendy Queen St West strip. The rooms are fabulous, each uniquely designed and a must stay place for the well moneyed in the arts.  You might want to check out the Gladstone and the Building Storeys exhibit where I  provided background information on the hotel and wrote about an exhibit of photos of old Toronto Industrial Buildings, many which were taken by "Urban Explorers" (who explore urban areas which are mostly off limits to the public).   In researching this blog, I noticed that the Gladstone web site now has a video which gives a walking tour of the hotel, restaurant and art spaces, so I will say no more but direct you there is you are not familiar with the Gladstone.

The Hotel has gallery space on the top 3 floors and often there will be a show open to the public, which is why Eric and I wandered upstairs. When we got there we discovered that there was a charity art event happening, "Make It", a show and sale of stuff produced by 30 local artists, designers and craftspeople in aid of the Furniture Bank. We hurried through and had a quick look at the art on display as we were anxious not to be late for our concert. I was struck by the interesting pieces by Natasha Kudashkina, some of which were 3D art pieces. Actually, I preferred looking at them without the 3D glasses, but it was kind of interesting to see how the 3D effect changed the look of the works.

The Great Hall - Music of Zoe Keating
The venue for the main event of the evening was Toronto's Great Hall.
The building was constructed in 1898, the same year as the Gladstone Hotel was built.  From their Website:
... It housed the first west end YMCA in Toronto. The "Y" offered athletic facilities that included a gymnasium with a raised running track, and a basement swimming pool. Canadian native marathon star Tom Longboat worked out here when he won the Boston Marathon in 1907, as did chocolate magnate and accomplished amateur wrestler, Morden Neilson, it was also home to some of the earliest basketball games ever played in history.
  As a sidebar, the Neilson Ice Cream and Chocolate Factory was an important employer in the greater Parkdale area (which includes this area of the Queen West strip as well as Liberty Village) with their factory located on Gladstone Avenue.  My own mother started her first job there having left school and moved out on her own at age 16.

Photo from The Great Hall Venue Website.

The Great Hall is located on the upper two stories of the 3 1/2 story building utilizing the old gym and running track area of the building.  The acoustics were fabulous and my only complaint was that there were no chairs put  out - it was a standing event.  Which did make it easy for me to scootch up stage side and get some spectacular photos and video, but also meant that at the end my feet thanked Zoe for not doing an encore. 

I would have forgiven the long wait outside to get in if we had been seated upon entrance, but when you add the wait standing outside to get in, the hour wait inside until the show started and then the standing time for the show - it was too much for many of us in the audience.  Now that I have gotten my complaints out of the way, let me tell you how impressed I was with the musician!

Zoe Keating - Avante Garde Cellist

This close-up was taken with my Canon sx220 using the low light settings and zoom from about 15-20 feet.

Zoe Keating is a Canadian Cellist from Guelph - a city which is a few hours north-west of Toronto.  Her music is very hard to describe - its root is classical, but it is too experimental to describe just as classical.   She has many film and multimedia credits in her portfolio as well as an impressive list of venues she has performed her "layered" solo cello compositions.  According to Wiki:
Zoë Keating (born February 2, 1972) is a Canadian-born cellist and composer based in San Francisco, California.
In her solo performances and recordings (particularly the ongoing project she calls "One Cello x 16"), she uses live electronic sampling and repetition in order to layer the sound of her cello, creating rhythmically dense musical structures. Zoë's self-produced album One Cello x 16: Natoma has four times made it to #1 on the iTunes classical charts. Keating is the recipient of a 2009 Performing Arts grant from the Creative Capital Foundation.

It is evident that this music requires more than the normal focus to perform the piece.

The part that I found very interesting is that integral to her sound is the use of a sampling board and a Mac computer, which she activates with a foot pedal during the performance.  She slowly builds up layers of the sound by sampling a number of bars of the song and replaying it while she adds other sections of the Cello to her "orchestra".  Combine that technique with some pretty innovative compositions and you have some mighty fine listening.  Never mind we were all standing on our feet for quite some time.

I recorded a video to bring to you a small sample of one of her compositions - "Hello Night".  You will agree, I am sure, that it is a very interesting sound.

Zoe is herself a very interesting person.  She comes across very genuine and bursting with creativity during the performance.  She did explaining some of her thoughts behind a few of the peices, but said that she encouraged everyone to ascribe their own meaning to the music.  I purchased her CD, "Into the Trees" at the show and am enjoying it now as I write this blog.  It does match my mellow mood these days.

If you want to know more about Zoe and her music you might want to watch this You Tube documentary  I found.  It is from the Intel Visual Life series, which brings us a personal look at some very interesting folks - uploads to a contest on Visual Life.

Zoe also did a 5 minute live recorded Ignite Events presentation titled "Should you quit your job to go on tour with a rock band" - because that is exactly what she did. Go here if you are interested to hear her tell more about her transition from a career in technology to an award winning "Layered Cello" composer and musician.

You can go to Zoe's website for more information on her music and concert schedule.   Another interesting article is this interview in Music Think Tank which talks about her tech savy with social networking and her free song download in exchange for a tweet offer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Walking in the Rain and Waiting on a Friend

Rainy days are really not all that bad when it is warm and you are dressed properly. A gentle rain is very calming. How does that saying go? There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.

This morning when I woke up it was (predictably) ... raining. Whats new, eh? So far in May we have had 137 mm of rain in 17 days (and 3 more days to go in the month) in a month when we usually average 73 mm over 12 days in Ontario. A rainy May for sure. But unlike last Sunday, the rain is not teaming down, it is gentle and the winds calm. A nice rainy Sunday by any rainy day standard.

This morning I went for a walk in the rain with Bella and snapped some photos on the path to the Rupert's Landing Marina. The blossoms are nearly at their peak but will be gone by the time I am back next.

As I left my place to go for the walk I noticed that the tennis players had opted to finish their game in the light rain rather than let it ruin their usual Sunday morning tourney.  All is well in Shangri-La land I feel mellow and happy.  Being here is quite a contrast to the frantic work week mental activity with my Toronto City Life.  Don't get me wrong - I enjoy both, just right now there is no balance.  I need to find a way to move into a slower lane during the work week days and not just leave my life for weekends

I was quite the Rolling Stones fan in my growing up years.  Still am really.  I like the mood of their hit  "Waiting on a Friend" and the video captures the mellowness of the song and warm vibe of the music very well.  The song and video convey the message that there is no need to hurry, or rush or be impatient but wait for your friends and take time to hang with them.  This song is from their 1981 album Tattoo You, which was released as the album's second single and it reached #13 on the US singles chart.  An interesting factoid about this song is that it was actually written in 1972 in Kingston, Jamaica but was without lyrics and unrecorded until it was resurrected for the Tattoo You Album.  The lyrics were written with the then new video/MTV media in mind.

According to Wiki :

The video ... featured reggae artist Peter Tosh sitting on a stoop with Jagger who is seen waiting on Keith Richards. The building is found at 96-98 St. Mark's Place in Manhattan, which is the same building featured on the album cover of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. The video also features Ronnie Wood ... 
The lyrics see a more mature side of singer Jagger represented. He speaks of setting aside women and vices in favor of making some sense of his life and finding the virtues inherent in true friendship:
Don't need a whore, I don't need no booze, don't need a virgin priest/But I need someone I can cry to, I need someone to protect.
The song is noted for its dreamy qualities brought on by the soft guitars, smooth rhythm, and Jagger's lilting refrain of "doo-doo-doo"'s.

So I am in feeling very mellow at Shangri-La this weekend and while I am not waiting on a friend at the moment I share the value of friendship that this video evokes.  I am sure if you listen to the song and watch the video you will feel very mellow and glad for your friends also.

Waiting On A Friend Lyrics

Watching girls go passing by
It ain't the latest thing
I'm just standing in a doorway
I'm just trying to make some sense
Out of these girls go passing by
The tales they tell of men
I'm not waiting on a lady
I'm just waiting on a friend

A smile relieves a heart that grieves
Remember what I said
I'm not waiting on a lady
I'm just waiting on a friend

I'm just waiting on a friend

Don't need a whore
I don't need no booze
Don't need a virgin priest
But I need someone I can cry to
I need someone to protect
Making love and breaking hearts
It is a game for youth
But I'm not waiting on a lady
I'm just waiting on a friend

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This and That and Travel Plans!

Ok, I have been slacking off in my blogging. Lots of reasons.  At the end of every week I feel like I have run a mental marathon.  Some weeks I feel lucky to get across the finish line, other weeks I feel like I didn't manage to even get to the finish line, but the odd week - and this was one of those - I feel like I crossed the finish line and am in the Winner's Circle!  Last night I scooched up to my Collingwood Shangri-La for a weekend of well earned rest and relaxation.  Just 'cuz I felt on the plus side at week's end doesn't mean that I am not exhausted from the week.  I need my weekend R&R for sure.  Though the weather isn't perfect and it promises to pour rain tomorrow,  I am happily cocooned into my nest and busy planning a bathroom renovation!  The work will start on Monday!  Yeah!

I am also starting to gear up and plan for my 6 month sabbatical next year.  This summer I am training for my 5 week walk through Spain (which is part 2 of my 6 month travel escapade) - my 1,000 km walk on the Vía De la Plata or Camino Mozarabe route of the Camino Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim's trail. The trip is in the early planning stages but not too early to start training.  I am going with my friend Barb (of Gopher Broke Farm) and  we have set up a dozen dates to do Bruce Trail hikes to get in shape and see how our knees hold up.  The Bruce Trail follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, one of the thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada, for almost 900 km (560 mi). The land the trail traverses is owned by the Government of Ontario, private landowners and the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC). Gopher Broke Farm is in the Niagara Escarpment area and Blue Mountain, which rises above Collingwood is also part of that geographic area.  In short, we are in hiking country!

This week I bought my hiking boots.  It has been some years since I owned a pair of hiking boots.  I am going to make sure that they (and I)  will be well broken in by next spring!   We are lucky to be in the middle of Ontario's Bruce Trail, not so lucky as to be in an unseasonably wet spring.  I guess that is something else we need to get used to.  As I recall "the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain".  At least 500 km of the journey will be through the Spanish Plain - which as the saying goes, has a tendency toward rain.   I also bought a GoreTex hiking jacket this week.  That should guarantee that the rain in Ontario lets up.

I noticed a nest on the balcony rail.

Momma Robin was sitting on an egg!

As I said I have been really busy - lots of things, but one other exciting thing is that I have been planning my trip to Iceland!  I will be leaving on the evening of June 27th  and spending just 4 days there but the 4 days and nights are jam packed with activities.  There will be 24 hours of sunlight each day so I will be able to get 8 days of sight seeing in!

Highlights of my Itinerary:
  • 4 hour excusion to Geysir ad Gullfoss
  • 8 hour midnight sailing trip to watch whales and see the sun set and rise immediately thereafter and have a midnight fish bbq with fresh caught fish!  (The other reason for the Gore-Tex jacket!)
  • a 3 hour Reykjavik city bicycle tour
  • a day at the Blue Lagoon Hot Spring
  • a night out clubbing!

Whale Watching and Sea Angling under the Midnight Sun

The famous Blue Lagoon

Geysir is a must see when in Iceland

The last reason for me being so busy is that I have caught up (and nearly completed) all of my organizing for my new condo. I am now waiting on contractors who will be installing window coverings and a mirror closet door and then I will be just about done. I am one bookcase away from finishing my guest room and unpacking the rest of my moving boxes. The last (and most exciting) finale of to my Condo decorating adventure will be when I receive the art which my dear friend Michael Golland is creating for my living room wall. I can't wait!

Michael Golland is Liberty Village's Artist in Residence and as I recall I have mentioned him in my blogs a few times.

I have already one Golland work - the Heart which is shown in my blog profile. I just love his work and I am so happy that he has agreed to do something for me.
Related Posts with Thumbnails