Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Good day, eh? I can finally say for sure spring has arrived here in Canada's capital - I counted a dozen new panhandlers (rookies, recent grads of the School of Hard Knocks, who are these people?) on the way from my condo to the University this morning! I finish my language studies early next month and hope to dazzle my family with my French when I fly down to Florida on the 12th. Richard and I are off for two weeks to do some house/property hunting either in Hernando County or around the Fort Myers area while prices are still reasonable. Of course I am keeping an eye on the Canadian dollar which has been up and down this past week but still hard-pressed to see 0.82 US, sitting at 0.81.18 this morning. And another spring ritual has been completed - I took off my big noisy winter tires and put summer ones on my truck this week, had a wheel bearing replaced and am now ready to do some real spring cleaning on it. Here in Ontario that usually means scraping off six months of accumulated salt! Ah spring! Thought I saw a robin today but that was wishful thinking...But I guess if we had no winter, spring would not be so darn pleasant. And on that vein I suppose if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome either!...But after giving it some thought I must admit that the delicious feeling one gets here in the north this time of year almost makes up for the long winters : the air is softer, the days longer, and there is great expectation ahead. I think I know what a bear feels like after a long slumber. Those of you living in the southern part of the world who don't really experience winter are missing something. Sure you have countless days of balmy, sunny weather but it's always the same! The smiles on stangers faces, the little jump in their steps and bodies suddenly shorn of layer upon layer of heavy wool are something unique here. Even our streetpeople look human again instead of unidentifiable and shapeless jumbles of discarded clothing, shivering and shaking on the concrete! But enough...Time soon to return to our property in the Appalachians and smell the mountain air...I can hardly wait to start planting again, to dig my fingers deep into the soft earth to feel its energy! Pure bliss...Till next time have a great week!gws

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My little dog Muffy - a heartbeat at my feet!

Even the tiniest Poodle is still a wolf at heart!

Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend. Have a nice weekend! gws

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Memories - Part One

Good morning! I was thinking recently that there are too many books I haven't read, too many places I haven't seen, too many memories I haven't kept long enough. Well this blog is called Gary's Life for a reason! Here then are some of my favourite memories I intend to keep - a few pictures of me from 1968 through 1977. The first one is me and my 76 Celica taken in Cape Breton in 1977 - that was the best car I have ever owned and what I wouldn't give to be able to have another one! I flew down to Vancouver from Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands when I was stationed there the first time to pick it up (after ordering it sight unseen) and brought it back up north on the ferry Queen of Prince Rupert through the Inside Passage. The next one is of me and Mom in Land O' Lakes in the early 70's when she and Dad had their little place tucked away amongst the oranges and grapefruit groves! I really enjoyed driving down from Canada every year to visit them there - mostly during the winters and when I was still single. The next one is a shot of me on top of Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon, Portugal in 1973, a view of the red-tiled city stretching out below. I actually made three trips to Lisbon during my time in the navy. One of my favourite ports, Lisbon is rich in history and beauty and the people very friendly. I remember the fado singers, the narrow cobblestoned steets that always seemed to climb to the summit of the city and the many plazas, all with huge statues of some famous - so they say - hero brandishing a sword on horseback! The next photo is me with my "cousins" Marilyn and Pauline in Canterbury in the mid 70's. Whenever the ship docked in Plymouth or Portsmouth I always tried to get a few days of shore leave and take a train to Canterbury, Mom's and my birthplace. I always felt home here. The next one is of me, Carolyn, Dee and Tickey the dog in front of our house in Port Moody before the family drove out to New Brunswick in 1969. Can't see Rich anywhere - maybe he was claiming his spot in the truckbed (was that even allowed?) for that long trip! Next is one of me doing my first jump near Coldbrook, Nova Scotia in 1972 - screamed all the way down but what a blast! I had to be pushed out or I would have missed my target! We flew only to 3500 feet I recall but the view from up there is magnificent - you could see all of the Bay of Funday right into New Brunswick. Next one of me while in Cornwallis, NS during basic training in 1970. Another great experience, and of my recollections the amount of food I ate in the mess stands out the most! You could eat all you wanted and was it good! And of course who could forget training in the dead of a Nova Scotian winter with that wind blowing off the Bay! Next shot is of me and pal Bruce sharing a bottle of Sangria on the beach in Masset in 1975. Bruce is now in Campbell River, BC and both him and I are planning to return to the Misty Islands again soon. Next, me in Victoria, BC in '69, then another shot of me parachuting in 1972. That's me again in Victoria in '69, then one of me and my '62 Impala taken near Ioco, BC. Loved this old convertible and used to drive it during "winter" in BC with the top down. Actually the top used to get jammed at times so I often had little choice. I remember paying $600 for the car at the time! I drove it to Squamish over the mountains everyday when I worked there in construction until the tranny went. Couldn't pick one up today for less than 30 grand. Next photo is me again that same year in Victoria. Back to Masset in 1974 for the next two pix - the first one of me on North Beach with my brand new Corolla I drove out from Halifax (paid $1800 cash for it,new)then sold it to my boss who drove it back east. This is what I bought to replace it - a little dune buggy that went through two engines while I had it, tearing up and down the beaches, through salt water rivers, pea gravel and plank roads that could swallow you up in the mud after a heavy rain. The last one is me around 1975 proudly displaying what looks like a bullhead caught in the river Tlell, Queen Charlottes! Photographer, Bruce. Ah great memories and hopefully you enjoyed sharing them with me. No matter how small we sometimes feel in the scheme of things the history of the world is not complete until each one our stories is told! Till next time! gws

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Record Covers

Good Friday morning! I happen to be going through my record albums this past week admiring the artwork gracing the covers and thought what a pity this generation is missing out on such an important art form. The art of record cover designs has nearly vanished - and no other music packaging has really been such a canvas for creative art. Thankfully vinyl is still being pressed and many new artists today use this medium to record their music and produce some great covers which might one day become classics! CDs are bland and a dying breed and as most music is downloaded today it has no accompanying visual medium. Cassettes have come and gone now as well and I wonder how many of us went blind trying to read the tiny script on the covers, especially those folded and refolded into a tiny 2 1/2 inch by 4 inch plastic box! Album covers were certainly a reflection of the time, from political statements to the sexual revolution, from hair styles to drug experimentation. They all found their place here, grabbing the eye and compelling you to further investigate the record. Those covers defined the artist and had as much power to sell the record as the music itself. My favorites here are like old photographs - the link to exact moments in my life; what I was doing, where I was or who I was with when I first saw the covers, an experience completely separate from listening to the music! I put some of my favourite groups LPs at the top. Not only were the Moody Blues the most progressive rock group to come out of the 60's in my mind but they also had some wonderful album covers. My all-time favourite though is the cover for King Crimson's Court of the Crimson King. The face is the 21st Century Schizoid Man painted by Barry Godber, a computer programmer, who said it was a mirror reflection of himself. This King Crimson debut album was released in late 1969 but Godber died a few months later in February 1970 at age 24. Covers like this were essential back then to get record buyers to check out an unknown group and as was often the case the introduction was visual before it was audible. And if you liked the music that was a bonus! Make sure you take time to watch the brilliant French video at the end - it puts album covers into a whole new sphere. And it is a work of art itself. (Don't forget to stop the music player first if you have the volume on) Enjoy, and have a great weekend! gws

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trip to Our Mountain Property March 2009

Marie, Muffy and I had a nice break from the concrete and windy corridors of the city this past weekend when we drove out to our property in the Appalachians of eastern Quebec. After a night out with Phil and Fernanda in Montreal (where we celebrated an early 24th birthday with Phil) we left Saturday morning for the Eastern Townships. Sure it was still cold - this is Canada in early March! - but the snow was high and the sun was shining and everything looked beautiful. You can't find that on the salt encrusted, paper strewn dirty sidewalks and drabness of a city that has suffered through another long, bitter winter. The pictures here tell the whole story. We snowshoed about our hill, checked out the cabin, started up Phil's 4Runner he left there this past summer, and enjoyed the views from the woods around us. We stayed at the Auberge aux Toits Rouges just a few miles away near Mt Magentic, ate like royalty in their restaurant and marvelled at the billions of stars overhead as we made our way back to our cozy chalet. And now back to work, school and reality...stay warm. gws