My Favourite Place?

I find myself having some difficulty in selecting one place to call my favourite. After sifting through many pictures and memories, I still didn’t feel that I was  any closer to nailing down a favourite. Until…..

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Would my favourite place require travelling by plane?
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Newfoundland. Would it start here?
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The snows of winter makes for an inviting adventure, but…..
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This is so relaxing, it could be my favourite………..

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So many places, so little time. I have had the opportunity to travel this country from shore to shore. You can turn your world upside down looking, but…………

No matter how attractive or enticing a place is, there is simply no place like home. It is that place where you “are”, both emotionally and physically.DSC_0614

And my own back yard.DSC_0988

It doesn’t matter whether I am seeking mountains or the sea, I am here, and they are only a glance away. And the best part, I don’t have to do it alone. I have come home to  my favourite place. Cheers.DSC_0383

“When the uniqueness of a place sings to us like a melody, then we will know, at last, what it means to be at home”

Paul Gruchow, American author and conservationist.

Favorite Place

A Post from the Past.

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Browsing through my stats, I noticed that I had published 76 posts in just over 2 years. Not worthy of a medal, but at the same time not too bad for a rookie. It has been fun and a challenge. I thought for this post I would go back to my very first one and reflect on the words and subject chosen.

It was titled New Beginnings, somewhat a heavy start, but yet a very personal one; a bit of a rant/outpouring, a painful bunch of words, I was angry, hurt and confused. But words that seemed necessary at the time. However, it did end on a very positive note, one that is still true to this day.

The words I chose to express my emotions back then are just a snapshot of my state of mind at that moment. I like to think if I were to write on that today it would look quite different. And well it should, or I haven’t learned anything.

To go back and review previous posts is a trip down blogging lane. To see the words chosen and wonder why you wrote them that way may never get answered. It’s done, it’s out there. No regrets. Reflecting back on a number of my blogs, that could be said of many of them.

I suppose as we stumble gracefully into our senior years, we tend to wander back more often to what was. Memories good and bad, and why not. It is time to shift gears. Memories can fill your heart with joy, or your eyes with tears. But that is OK, we are equipped to handle it. I am not in a hurry; I haven’t got all day, I have the rest of my life.

When You Come to the End………

This blog is about a musical instrument – not just any huff and puff wind thing, but the king of instruments, the pipe organ. Now before you think this is about a lot of boring facts and info, bear with me.

I fell in love with this beast back in the 70’s, when most others of my age were a gaga with heavy metal, I was smitten with the majesty, the sonics and shear size of this musical wonder. It was alive, it breathed! Not all have the where with all to master the pipe organ, it not only requires both hands but also both feet. Two prominent artists names that come to mind are Virgil Fox, and E. Power Biggs. But the one that afffected me the most was a showman by the name of Carlo Curley.

Carlo Curley was born in 1952 in the U.S.A., and died prematurely in 2012 in England. He was not your usual keyboard artist. He was indeed an organ master; he added humour and a level of flamboyancy that was not usually associated with the pipe organ. Along with a rather dry wit. In my mind he was the Victor Borge of the pipes. He was the consummate entertainer.

He was the first classical organist to perform at the White House for President Carter. He also played for several European heads of state and toured extensively, always in demand. Because of his unique style, he was nicknamed “The Pavarotti of the Organ”. He was the consummate performer. Always entertaining and having fun with his audience.

My personal experience with this gentleman was at a Toronto concert in 1982 at Roy Thomson Hall where he performed on the newly built Gabriel Kney organ. I was not disappointed.

For over two hours we were wowed by his playing and showmanship as he waded through such classic composers as Saint-Saen, Bach, Handel, Widor, Frank and Messiaen, at times becoming quite vocal and crying out to the audience, “yes” and “yea” after a rather laboured piece. But…. the best part of the evening was yet to happen..

During the concert the organ console and sometimes the pipes were illuminated, but for his encore the stage was darkened and only a soft spot fell across Carlo and the console. His choice of music, When you Come To the End of a perfect Day. And what a perfect selection to close the concert. After thundering his way up to this point, he chose to present this piece as light and airy, the notes just seemed to float out over the audience only to burst in a moment of emotion. All the while he was playing, the spot was slowly dimming and shrinking around him, until all that was left were his hands. As the last notes faded into the night,  so did the spot. For a few seconds there was not a sound to be heard from the audience, as if each one was scared to be the first to applaud and destroy the feeling of the moment. And then it came, and it thundered out in response. There was much dabbing of the eyes, not in sadness, but in a personal experience of joy and contentment and peace. The perfect end to a memorable moment; and that moment got me to thinking about when my final moment is near….

I came into this world with only a few lines of announcement in the newspaper, not on the front page, no trumpets sounding. And as the light fades around me, I think it is only fitting that I depart in the same manner, due to symmetry and other considerations. I will do my kicking and screaming now, not when my stay is nearly over and it is too late. I will pass on the spotlight, hoping only that those closest to me will be able to share in my being part of their lives. Some may applaud,  maybe some will dab an eye. Knowing this gives me a sense of security. I have a plan. The rest is out of my hands.
Security

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Signs, Shingles and Sillies. No. 6

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The store signs of Puerto Vallarta are as varied as the business found inside. No cookie cutter commercialism here, all are original and hand done.

Most of these establishments are family run. Walking into one, you are greeted with a warm smile and invited to be as much at home as you a comfortable with. No indifferent sales people here. A number of our North American retailers should take note.

Most of the retailers here are either a clothing store or a restaurant. The second pic, “OXXO” is our 7-11 mini mart, and they are on just about every street corner.

“La Vaquita” means little cow, and is a swinging hot spot at night.

As far as that last picture goes, other than put a smile on my face, I wonder just how long that would last in my neck of the woods before the “righteous  right” stepped in. Every corner holds a surprise, every street beckons to be explored. You only have to let the magic of the people take over. ‘Till the next time, cheers, or as they say here “salud”.

The Sidewalks of Puerto Vallarta. No. 3

Puerto Vallarta is a intriguing town to wonder around, but if you are going to gawk, be alert to where you walk. or you will find yourself doing the stub and stumble shuffle. Most of the sidewalks in the main tourist area are flat, smooth and well maintained. It is off the beaten path that your eyesight and agility are tested, especially at night.

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As mentioned above, in the main tourist area the walkways are safe to navigate and wander, as evidenced  by the last three pictures. Here one is able to be as graceful as one is able. A few steps with your favourite libation in hand and you are safe to navigate unscathed. If you follow the winding trail (small black stones embedded in cement) you are on your way safely.
Graceful

Blogging from Puerto Vallarta,Mexico

We finally arrived here on Wednesday, in sunny Puerto Vallarta, or what we snow birds call paradise. After settling into our new apartment, we went to seek out some of our old haunts. It was like we had never left.

Enjoy some of the pics from this beautiful town. The Mexicans have a lot to offer, and you do not have to walk far to find it. Food, drinks, culture and their great hospitality.

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Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico from 35,000 feet.
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What was possibly someone’s home, now ready to complete its life cycle.
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The view from our apartment.
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A view from our apartment.
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A view from our apartment.
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A courier from the past?
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An xoloitzcuintli, or a Mexican hairless dog. Friendly, and visits daily.
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This “lady” is ready for a night out!
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A visit to Mexico requires one to stay hydrated.
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This is a nightly occurrence.

The texture and ambiance of Puerto Vallarta is something that simply has to be experienced. Over the next four months, I hope to be able to bring you as much of the fabric of this place that words can convey, that is if I don’t get swallowed by its appetite for adventurous travellers.

Ambience

“To Infinity and Beyond….”

Well, maybe not quite that far. But it is about 4000 kilometers far. All the way to the west coast of Canada. Just beyond the horizon. I know it is there because Maggie and I spent a month this past summer travelling the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. I fell in love with B.C., and Maggie is from Vancouver Island. The decision to head the wagons west next summer seemed like the next chapter in our love for exploring the great outdoors.

Someone once said if you set your horizon to far out, it becomes unobtainable, too close, and you face disappointment when you get there. Well, we have both been there, and the place worked its magic. I know that we have made the right decision. We are going to have the opportunity to meet new people, hike new trails and to just immerse ourselves in a new New Horizon.

The pictures below are just a few of the thousands we took. Please enjoy.

…let no man break asunder.

Partnerships fail. Mine did. This in itself is not earth shattering news. It happens everyday and in all facets of life. But this one was personal. It wasn’t sudden, I saw it coming, but apparently I was the only one. Flags were up all over the place as to the dangers ahead; but they were ignored, possibly hoping that they were not for real.

Like travelling down a rough gravel road and believing that it would improve somewhere around the next corner, I kept going. Even though you try to find the smoothest part of the road, I finally submitted to the fact that to accomplish that was to get off.

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Travel with caution, lose gravel ahead.

Sounds easy enough, but that took me from a rough road to an emotional roller coaster. But even coaster rides come to an end, dumping you off humbled, emotionally drained and confused. The word failure comes to mind; both to yourself and to others.

Time and reflection can go a long way to prying a person from out of a rut. And so do friends. Family can help, but mine was in a divided camp. Still are; I hope time will help heal that wound.

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Sailing. A new horizon beckons.

That rough road? It is a lot smoother now. There was a paved way out around the next bend. I took it. In the real world, partnerships come and go, it appears to be a way of life. And so, my adventure through life continues. A special lady I know keeps saying that “life is good”. She is now showing me just how good it can be.

I wrote more details in a previous blog. New Beginnings

Partners

Way back When……….

I can’t remember just how old I was when I became an audiophile. This would be during the 1950’s, so I was probably only 7 or 8. The thing was I just did not know I was doomed to become one; I am not sure that the term was even mainstream back then.

I can remember sitting on the floor in front of a massive radio. Tube driven, manually tuned, and AM only. I would listen to the station my parents tuned in, but every now and then they would let me “play” with the dial. That was very special. I would sit close to the speaker, and take it all in, including opera! I can recall wondering at the time how was it possible to get all those people inside that radio!!pg6p13[1]

So, lets fast forward 9 or 10 years. Does anyone out there remember crystal sets from Radio Shack ? My own little private radio with an ear bud. You had to position that “cats whisker” just right on the crystal to get it to work. Still not Hi-Fi, but little did I know, I had the “bug”.

I guess the whole thing really took off when my uncle and a friend put together a stereo console for our home in the early sixties. Powered by a Trio receiver, and equipped with a Garrard turntable, replete with full range speakers in the bottom.

DSC_0741This is a model of that console I made in the 60’s. I still have it.

You could stack a number of LP’s on the turntable and be rewarded with over an hours worth of music, all in glorious Hi-Fi stereo. For the first time in my life I was treated to FM stereo.  That sound blew me away; and you could turn it up, all without tubes, but before the digital age.

Fast forward again to when I was working and could afford to buy my own equipment. My favourite “toy” was a four channel reel-to-reel tape recorder, which of course married nicely with my four channel receiver. Wow, sound all around me. I could change sound venues at the push of a button. Concert hall, rock, stadium, it was all at my finger tips. I just had to sit back and let those glorious sounds wash over me, transporting me to another place. And what warm and exciting sounds they were.akai-1730-ss-01-sm[1]

That is what I really enjoyed about audio back then, it was very much hands on. I felt very much like a techy, pushing buttons, spinning dials, loading tape, and watching the VU meters on the tape doing their thing, getting them dialed in just right. There was something romantic and very satisfying  when my efforts were rewarded with glorious sound filling the room.

Audio today is very slick. Being a computer geek does help. All digital, computer driven applications; set up can require an expert from the audio store to get it working. Now all I have to do is sit back with my remote  control in my easy chair and hope I push the right button. My level of involvement has been reduced to that of “audience”, not participant. My ears tell me that the sound has changed; for the better? Some would say yes, but I would say, maybe not. I grew up with audio that was warm, rewarding, and required my personal involvement.  I grew up with analog.

Analog