Opening Statement

Thursday 28 July 2011

Back To Toronto!

Here I am back in Toronto from my Mexican trip, sitting on the balcony with my morning coffee. It's an overcast day. I brought all my house plants out for some sun and rain when I got back. It's pleasant. I'm surrounded with greenery, looking out at the city, feeling relaxed and very happy with our trip.

I didn't go outside for the first three days back. Nope. I stayed in my man-cave, the music room, listening to my stereo, reading, napping, kind of in free fall. All that vacationing tired me out! Whew! Life is tough and then you die! My niece Katrina finally convinced me that it's nice out and I shouldn't miss it. She's not working this summer either. In the fall she goes to teacher college. I think it is a good idea, as long as she can pay the bills, she should rest up and enjoy herself, the school year ahead can often be very stressful and draining come summer. Practice now! I always like to take the summer off. Time is worth more to me than money. We only live once. She's saying she`s not working to protest stress and wrinkles to ward off any static. I love the cause. Go grrrrl go! Would be nice to be twenty something again eh?

So I walked about downtown Toronto. I was born here, and a Yonge Street walk is just one of those very Torontonian things I still do. As teens we`d always go on Friday or Saturday to Sam the Record Man`s store; Beatle albums were always on sale for $4. There were a lot of really great clubs and local bands back in the sixties and seventies; Ronnie Hawkins and the Band at the Hawks Nest, jazz at the Colonial, Carole Pope at the Chimney, Triumph at the Piccadilly Tube, to name but a few.We`d party, or sometimes just walk around checking out the action and well known characters on the street, never bothering anybody.

Yonge St. has always had it`s ``Toronto the Bad`` side to it with the massage parlours, porn shops, strip clubs and hookers, but that was pretty much shut down long ago. Later it was a punk rock hang out. The Viletones would play Yonge Station while the big bad bouncers would sell the kids bad drugs at the door, and then beat them up and kick them back out onto the sidewalk once they got stoned. The Dog would spit out the words and chew on glass as the band blasted away at their three chord hit `Screaming Fist`. 

My style was more the Talking Heads, the Ramones and the Dead Boys at the New Yorker, a tawdry old movie house that`s now been converted into the Panasonic Theatre. Toronto Punk and New Wave were always first and foremost about the music and fashion. I think so. Yonge St was pretty much just an ugly version of the Queen St West scene where I lived at the time. We had the new wave bands like the Diodes and Dishes at the Ontario College of Art, and the Talking Heads at the Horseshoe Tavern if I remember correctly. There were umpteen local bands playing at the Beverely Hotel, the Shock Theatre and the Crash and Burn Club, or we`d go dancing all night at the Twilight Zone. It was always a very local scene mostly centred around Queen St West Soho.

Did you know Toronto was one of the big three Punk and New Wave Rock epicentres during the mid to late seventies, along with New York,and London. There was a very good book written about it recently `Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond` by Liz Worth on Ralph Alfonzo`s Bongo Beat Press. It`s a good and very insightful read, but I ramble....

So now here I was post twentieth century, quite middle aged and respectable, just sitting at a window seat in the Second Cup Cafe at Yonge and College, with my coffee and iPhone, people watching. I walked about for a few hours. I won`t belabour this, I`ve done at least one Yonge St blog before. Suffice to say it was hot and sunny. Nice but not as nice as Mexico mind you. I think it`s the humidity from the lake which makes Toronto feel like a sauna during the dog days of summer. The Mayan Riviera had a great Caribbean breeze, not like here.

I bought a bunch of seconds and reminder art books at BMV on Bloor St. West just north of the University of Toronto. This store is amazing! Very cheap and incredibly diverse and well stocked with everything from books to CD`s and DVD`s in the basement. I could spend hours in there. Anyway, I found a stack of books about album cover art from the 1950`s to the 90`s, with info and full colour plates. I collect music and was a disc jockey and radio program director when I was at U of T. It`s been my hobby as long as I can remember, and I have a pretty decent collection of six thousand or so CD`s and box sets, maybe a thousand original LP albums, boxes of old 45`s and cassette tapes etc.

The only problem was I had to trudge home on the subway to my car at Yorkdale Mall carrying this very heavy stack of hard cover books but folk were nice and made way for me, even opening doors and so on. ``Toronto the Good!`` Once home I stayed up late listening to tunes and pouring over my new books matching the cover art with my albums and CD`s until the wee hours.

Long and short of it is I finally got back outside! It had felt so good just to stay home and do nothing after all my adventures in Mexico. Janet and I have been putting a lot into fixing up our condo so it is just the way we like it. 1200 square feet, an ideal place for empty nesters with good security, nice neighbours, a good location. All of our favourite things are here and we are slowly but surely getting it set up just so for when we retire. The irony is that far too often during the year it is like a pit stop between all the things we have to do. I really like just being here and enjoying it, and that`s exactly what I have been doing. Feels great! Now I`m going outside again too. Well done, eh!

I`m trying to set up my Cuba trip to Santiago de Cuba but my Cuban teacher friends are off to Habana and I`ve been there enough for now. Also most of my Cuban Schools Project work is in Santiago, so outside of having a very good time in Habana, which I without doubt would have, it kind of defeats my purpose unless we can co-ordinate our schedules which I am trying to do now. Communications with the Cuban Schools is dicey at best but I am plugging away at it, with no doubt a great story post to follow once I get that rolling, details forthcoming.

My sister Mary Ann is coming to visit from Sudbury for the weekend. We were going to go see the tall ships down at the harbour front but there are no tall ships at the harbour front, so much for that! We`ve got a bunch of other stuff to do too. I can`t quite recall what but Janet is my social director, she`ll know what we`re doing and where we go. Should be fun!

I could go for groceries but it`s lunch and I am sill in my pyjamas. Anyway I hate pushing around the cart with people bumping into me, and then lining up forever at the check-out counter. That`s not to mention having to bring my own grocery bags to help the environment and so on, and then carrying it all upstairs in a buggy cart to our condo. Blech! I think I`ll tidy up the place and we can eat at restaurants while she is here. There`s enough food and drinks in the fridge to get by. Sounds like a plan. ;-)

Bye for now!

Monday 25 July 2011

Mexican Mayan Riviera Diary 4: Snorkel Trips

Wednesday July 20
My cousin Don and I went snorkeling off resort today. A friendly lad, "Nacho” [a good Mexican name] took us and a small group out in a mini bus to a little Mayan settlement by a ceynote and a cavern where we could swim. We walked through the jungle to the open mouth of the cavern and went in. Huge stalactites hung from the ceiling, many of them thousands of years old. A fresh water river runs through the caves deep dark depths. The water was cool, a very refreshing respite from the blistering heat. It was also crystal clear. The limestone bottom had a light sheen to it. We could vibrantly see the the many white, green and yellow shades of the rock deposits. There were a good number of tropical and salt water fish. Since the limestone is saline both can survive, the catfish being the only fresh water fish, I guess it is just lightly enough salted for the tropical fish who also swam about in small schools. French divers had explored and mapped out the underground river for seven kilometers from the cave. We could see the dark mouth of the underground river with the dive lines going down into it, but that is as far as we could go without tanks. Plus you have to be very careful you don’t hit your head on the rocks. Ouch!
Afterwards we walked a bit further through the jungle to an open ceynote. It's not unlike a cavern, with the roof collapsed. It resembled an open pit with steep cliffs to dive from. There was also ravelling. We grabbed onto the handles and flew out over the lake riding the line downward. Nacho calling out when to drop so we wouldn’t hit the dock on the other side. It was quite a lot of fun, we even tried it backwards. It requires a lot of trust but was quite a buzz.
The water went to varying depths. It felt like swimming in a big aquarium, with a brightly green coloured moss, white limestone bottom, and scores of small colourful tropical fish. Not big fish mind you but there were lots of them swimming about. The water was cool, the sun hot. It was great fun diving in and climbing out, swimming about with our snorkels exploring every nook and cranny until lunch time.

A Mayan family dished out a plate of fried chicken, tortillas, guacamole, rice and beans for us, which we washed down with pitchers of ice cool drinks. I avoided the super hot sauce this time, sticking to the salsa. It was all very Mexican, quite delicious and we were glad to tip them generously.
We drove into the fishing village of Akumal and headed over to the lagoon. Akumal is a small fishing village. The locals held out, never selling the land to the resorts, but developed it for themselves. There were numerous dive shops. Old, but quite grand pastel coloured 1940-50’s art deco homes with Mexican tile roofs dot the shoreline. The simple fishing boats still bob up and down in the bay where the turtles swim about. There is a whole colony of them. I have snorkeled here before, its a beach shore dive, quite nice. I was somewhat disappointed when we headed over to the lagoon instead, but it was quite nice too. Azul waters, limestone rocks, we saw a few stingrays sliding along the bottom, very graceful, but watch out for their tails! There were small tropical fish, not particular spectacular in size from what we have all ready seen at the resort reef. I followed a good sized school of Blue Tang out to sea a ways, and found a huge garden of verde green brain coral, and brightly coloured parrot fish. Most of the coral was dead. Nacho later told me the hurricanes have smashed it up pretty bad, and the increased numbers of swimmers with their sun tan lotion, touching everything and so on hasn’t helped either. He said some days there aren’t hardly any fish at all.
There is a pretty sharp thermocline. Two underground rivers also empty into the lagoon, where of course they can’t mix with the saline sea water. It makes for a glimmering, oily visual effect that creates widely varying currents, some quite cool, others bathwater hot. If you swim in somebodies wake, or move round too much, it gets stirred up and hard to see. If you glide along, effortlessly, it calms down and everything snaps back into focus. I was happier to be swimming off on my own for the most part. I’m quite a strong swimmer and don’t like to get held back, especially when folks are flopping about, stirring up the water, and scaring away the fish.
After a good swim on my own I headed back to our group inside the mouth of the lagoon, only to find out I had missed seeing a turtle! Apparently it was a fairly small one, I’ve seen two big ones this trip back at our own beach, so I wasn’t too upset. All in all it was a vigorous swim, very refreshing and we were out a good hour and a half. On our way back to the landing I swam up onto a white sand beach cut off from any roadways, or any other access routes. Very natural. I law in the shallow surf, and could feel the light waves lapping up against me. The hot sun beating down. Very relaxing, transporting, definitely a snapshot for the mind, to close my eyes and remember back next winter.
Overall an excellent day of snorkeling. I would have liked to visit a few inlets but the sites we visited were top notch, with a lot of variety. I returned to the resort, no doubt tired after two days of go go go, but in a good way, recharged, with a golden brown tan, feeling very relaxed and quite pleased with how our whole trip has worked out.
Thursday July 21
A leisurely day. We slept in, enjoyed a late breakfast, and headed out to sun on the beach. There was a great Caribbean breeze. We easily found a few lounge chairs under a swaying palm where we parked ourselves for most of the day lying about and enjoying the last full day of our Mexican holiday.
Don and I swam out to the reef again. The water was very choppy again, and a lifeguard in a canoe  kept trying to follow us, and blowing a whistle to warn us back to shore. He couldn’t quite navigate the rocky reef to get very close. Ironically, it happened on our last day and all, after many regular uninterrupted trips to the far edge of the reef. We ignored him awhile but he couldn’t be placated so we headed back closer to shore but took our time to explore along the way.  It was well worth it. As he paddled away, hiding just over the horizon, we came upon a huge barracuda, about four or five feet long, just lazing below the surface, drifting back and forth with the current, snapping his big pointed teeth at us. Don got some shots with his underwater movie camera; we will see how they turned out.
I followed a huge stingray as it swept along the sea bottom towards another little coral patch where the water was churning with tropical fish. Angel fish, Blue Tang, Parrot Fish, Snapper, Stripped Sgt Majors; well there was quite a variety. A giant school of minnow swam past just below the surface, tiny specks of silver glittering in the sunlight. Don and I just floated above, lightly treading water as we watched, then dove down to swim about with the fish. They didn’t care, and swam right up to our masks to look in at us. The water was warm as a bathtub. I floated to the surface, lying on my back. I could see the white beach shore lined with palms and the resort rooftops in the background. The sea water is so buoyant; it was like I was just hanging inanimately, in sheer paradise, pure bliss. An excellent final dive on a great trip.
We later went out for dinner then back to our room to pack. The bus picks us up after breakfast tomorrow, and it’s back to Toronto, about a four hour flight. I’m getting a bit tired of being away, but in a good happy way. I feel well rested, have had a great time. I think I've had just about enough of everything here, for now. This trip has pretty much been perfect in every way. Still there’s no place like home, and ones own bed. I'm even beginning to miss the everyday familiarity of our own abode, plus Janet returns to work on Monday, so it's adios Mexico, and hola Toronto once again.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Mexican Mayan Riviera Diary 3: Chichen Itza

The Mayan Ruin photos are now posted below this blog column. Also, if you click on my slide show at upper top left screen you can see and enlarge them on Flickr. You will also still find the other Mexico trip photos from before there too! Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday July 19th

We managed to arrange a small mini bus to go see the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza, perhaps the best way to travel. All of our arrangments and fees were expediently taken care of at a very reasonable rate. The only drawback was that the back of the bus was overcrowded with children. The parents sat at the front and were only too happy to ignore them as they screamed, fought and threw things. I gave them the old evil eye, a few very very direct words were exchanged with their folks, and that pretty much fixed the situation. We had to pull over when one kid almost fell out the door onto the highway, but everyone gave us wide berth, and even apologized later. That was the only fly in the ointment. Too each their own, we just did our own thing and had a great time.

We passed through two checkpoints driving into Yucatan State from the Mayan Riviera; a police and military one. Security was tight, but I didn't see the hummers with machine gun mounts like during our last visit two years ago. It was a fairly short drive. We had been told to expect three hours each way, it was just under half that. There was new highway construction  along most of the route and the new roadways seem to definately be speeding up the trip.

It was a fairly short walk into the jungle, past the Mayan venders. We were taken first to a touist trap, it seemed to be run by Lazis, the jewelery store we visited near our hotel, with the locals working on commission. Everyone around Chichen Itza was pretty much Mayan, short, fairly squat, be they Lazis employees or the vendors with their little tables in the jungle. We preferred to pick up some bric a brac from the latter, seemed more direct, but who really knows what was going on. We were definately far from home.

Apparantly the Mayans still live in the jungles across Yucatan in their thatched huts, usually near a ceynote cavern or sistern as a water source. The soil is very thin and overlays a vast limestone deposit full of underground rivers. Lots of fresh water, not very good for farming, it's a basic subsistance level life. They don't work, per see, and pay no taxes, so they don't receive any government services, including state schooling, electricity, social insurance and so on. However they seem to live a fairly simple idyllic life off on their own. I wonder if that is not better than  a city ghetto or aboriginal reservation? They hunt, fish, grow what they can, sell handicrafts to the tourists; pottery, linens, hammocks, carvings. They seem very quiet and polite if you see them at all, more or less blending into the background. Once I saw a family in the town of Playa De Carmen, wearing simple robes, quietly standing along the walls, collecting the pop cans the tourists were tossing away. I suppose they wanted the metal, or could maybe get a deposit for them. It's perhaps an understatement to say social justice may very well not be all that prevelant here.

As we climbed off our bus at the ruins, a little Mayan girl stepped up with some embroided peso handerchiefs to wipe off our sweat. She had a little handful of them and was very careful to count out the change correctly. Quite a delightful child, unlike our own little Canadian monsters piling off the bus. We made our way over to the ruin site. The Mayans deserted their cities for reasons unknown in  the nineth and tenth century. The Spanish conquistidors and vandals over the centuries robbed the temples and tombs of their silver and gold, and made off with or despoiled a lot of the fine stone carvings and so on. The church destroyed many of the Mayan's "devil" books and records, replacing them with the cross, and the sword. Instead of many spirits and gods there is now but one.

Fortunately, the Mayans also carved most of their stories in stone graphics, which have basically been decoded over the past century, shedding more light on their story. It is now known that they could be very cruel and brutal, were big on human sacrifice, slavery and war. They were pretty advanced with numbers, calanders, and excelled in mathematics. We know the Mayan pyrmaids served a variety of purposes, including, by their construction, serving as giant clocks, which could measure the movements of the sun, planets and stars, to tell time, and predict eclipses up to 33 years in advance.

Janet and I walked through the jungle grounds and clearings exploring the various ruins. I think we saw about two thirds of them. There were quite a few pyramids, temples, palaces, pillars, statues and so on. Much of it is now scattered stone surrounded by bush. Over a thousand years later a lot of it is being reconstructed and rebuilt with great care. It is quite awesome to walk among the ruins, with just the sounds of the jungle, under the hot hot sun, about forty degrees celsuis. Very powerful. I took lots of pictures which I will look at later, with maps and more info, to try to learn more. We were content just to walk about and take it all  in.

The huggest pyramid, in the centre of the grounds, has now been declared one of the seven wonders of the world. It looms over everything, a massive stone presence, with rows of steps, now inaccessible to visitors, up to a small temple on the top. Two sides have been restored, the other two are still very ragged, crumbling stone. It is quite a contrast. 

If you have seen the movie "Apocalypso", it uses computer graphics to restore the ancient city of Chichen Itza to how we believe it originally looked, the buildings, people, activities and so on. I look forward to seeing it again.

We stopped for a very nice, if not simple Mexican meal at a little roadside restaurant on our way home. The chef cooked pulled pork on a huge skillet while another woman made fresh flatbread to roll it in, along with a dollop of salsa. Mucho gusto! Add your own Habanero XX Picente Sauce to taste, and wash it down, drinking iced cold bottles of coke. Excellente! Small Mayan men and women in traditional dress danced in front of a mural of the pyramids, balancing bottles of beer on their heads at one point. Go figure. Bizarre perhaps, but somehow very Mexicano too. It was all very reasonably priced, unlike on the resort, and we were happy to tip the locals generously, who smiled and waved as we drove off.

We took a pit stop in a small city to relax at a little corner cafe, across from the plaza, or central park. They are traditionally at the heart of each Mexican or for that matter Spanish city. A Mayan pyramid once stood there, but it was destroyed by the conquistidors, and the rubble used to build the original settlement. In  the centre of the parque is a fountain statue, of a Mayan Virgin [?], water flowing everywhere but from her empty vase. She stands alone across the street from the grand facade of the Catholic church. She is surrounded by grotesque statues of huge green frogs, a Mayan symbol of perservence. A small unwashed Mayan boy lay sleeping on a nearby bench, surrounded by the elders, with their lined, weathered faces. Two woman stood silently, opening and closing a handcrafted hammock. They had a small stack of them for sale. It was rush hour, and much of the city life was zipping by, the rumble of tourist buses and trucks. Honking cars. The late afternoon glaring sun and dead heat was quite oppressively overbearing. They stood there all but unseen, passed by in a world time ravaged and then forgot.

There is a lot here to think and reflect upon later. It was a real eye opener, very interesting, but not all glum and introspective. It was a lot of fun too, a good adventure.

More later......

Friday 15 July 2011

Mexican Mayan Riviera Diary 2

This posting is being updated daily with the latest from today added at the top. The 1st Diary is posted below this blog, and covers the first couple of days. I usually update the photos daily.

Monday July 18

We decided to postpone our excursion to Chichen Itza until tomorrow. Celebrating the International Day of the Child is a big holiday in Cuba, and it seems also here. Busloads of children from all over Mexico are headed down for the day and we'd rather try to avoid the crowds. I suppose it would've been cute and all, but I have all ready ranted about that a bit, this being my holidays from school etc. The imagery is nice. They take the Mexican children down to the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza to celebrate, past meets future.

That's enough for me but God only know they need some hope here. We have read in the papers about the virtual state of war that exists in Northern Mexico between the various druglords and the police. The Mayan Riviera is a guarded enclave though, with army posts at each end of the strip. It was on our last visit anyways. All seems well here. I have heard of various crimes at the hotels but often suspect it might be tourist verses tourist in origin, like with the murders and what not. I don't know but everybody has been incredibly honest and upfront with us at the resort, and seems very friendly, well fed and taken care of. So far we feel very safe!

There is a sense of affluence, even with the locals we've met that suggests that as far as Mexico goes, this may be a little oasis of sanity in a state of chaos. Apparantly 40% of the countries income comes from tourism along the Mayan Riviera so I wouldn't be surprised if they are guarding us closely, and taking every reasonable precaution and then some. Problems can happen anywhere, even at home. The crime rate stats for visitors to the US is higher, but we rarily hear about that in the papers.

We went back to bed and slept in. In the early afternoon we sat by the river, just outside our lobby, in the shade on the deck. The fish were leaping in the clear water, look down into the river and it was thick with them. The air fragrant with wild tropical flowers. There was a very pleasant sea breeze, lots of coloured birds chirping, otherwise all was quiet and still. Very summery. It felt great!

We visited a silver store on the main strip, Lazis, and weren't terribly impressed. Some nice folk art but very pricey and I hate to barter, really can't be bothered. Told janet I'd buy her a ring or whatever, they had silver, gold, precisous stones and diamonds, but she figured she could do just as well at home. So far we have spent next to nothing here except for the massage at the spa, and our trips off the resort.

The food has been consistancy good but not great. Nothing grotesque. Our private buffet at the Royal Suites borders on excellent, especially the lobster.The beach grill is good for a junk food fix. They make great wings, Buffalo style or honey and garlic. The a la carts are so so. My steak last night was fatty and inedible but it might've been the exception, the rest of our group liked theirs. I'm surprised we don't get more hardcore Mexican fare. I love anything that burns all the way down! Arriba!

It's late afternoon and there's a sudden downpour. A wall of rain. It can happen, mid to late afternoon, for perhaps up to an hour, but then the sun comes back out and before long everything is bone dry. Remarkably we have noticed very few if any mosquitos. I think I will take a little siesta before supper. Planning on the lobster again.

So we will have another go at Chichen Itza tomorrow. I  have posted some of my snorkel photos from out on the reef in the slideshow, upper screen right. There is a delay in the posts from down here, before they appear on my blogspot, I don't know why, but they seem to be up now.

Sunday July 17

I swam back out to the reef again today and spent about two hours swimming about with Pearl's underwater camera. With a little luck the photos turned out good and I can post them here in the next day or so. Lots of coral, fish, and giant waves! I almost lost my snorkel and mask once when a giant breaker sent me for a spin but of course floated back up intact with my gear. There weren't many fish out there at the far edge, way too rough, but the surf did push a lot to the beach side of the reef, where I swam about at length clicking away. Then I just let the waves slowly wash me back to shore swimming with the current. Very invigorating. Lots of fun!

Janet laid about on a sun bed, as did Pearl and Don, on our section of the beach. They took the golf cart back to our rooms. I walked back the length of the beach just enjoying the breeze.

Janet and I are going to the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza [Translation: "Chicken Pizza" ?!?] tomorrow. Don and I are going snorkeling at the fising village of Akumal on Wednesday. There's a large turtle colony there. Will also check out a few other dive spots along the coast on our way there. We are heading out to the steak house for dinner tonight.

 Saturday July 16

A very relaxing day. We got up fairly early to take Janet for her anti-biotic shot. It seems to be working and she’s more like her old self, but has to go easy on the sun and ice drinks. The doctor recommended drinking tequila to kill the virus but so far she hasn’t had a shot. Seems like a pretty good excuse to drink a lot of tequila. Very medicinal. Yup.
After a leisurely buffet breakfast we caught up with Pearl. Don was still in bed. I started to yawn and came back to our suite for a long siesta until mid afternoon. Janet and I then went to the spa and availed ourselves of the facilities. Pretty much everything but the cold water pool; reminded me too much of being in Canada.
For an extra charge we each had a hard tissue massage together. Was very reasonably priced and of course the spa itself was free. It sure felt great. They did an excellent job getting at the muscle knots and sore points that seem to always come from a year of stresses at work and school.  We took the golf cart home and are just relaxing in our room before we go out for dinner at the Mediterranean Restaurant with Pearl and Don tonight. We usually sit around the table, last ones out, talking and laughing and what not. Haven’t been staying up to late, though we may lie in bed reading and watching t.v.
It’s nice to be lazy! I thought I’d be more go, go, go. But it is very relaxing here and we want for nothing. The snorkelling along the reef has turned out to be top notch and close by. The resort grounds are like a nature preserve, with gardens of all the natural fauna. There are Mangrove forests. There are a lot of critters, including pink swans and the crocodile pool. There are a lot of Iguanas too, quite harmless, if not rather alien looking to us, like they are from a sci-fi horror show, maybe "Attack of the Mexician Iguanas From Outer Space". Everything is safe and clean. I rarely listen to my own music, which is a surprise. The sounds of nature are a pure delight here; the surf, the wild birds, on and on it goes.
We had planned to go off on a few excursions and still my well do but this has been just such a great and much needed rest. I can feel the usual stress and concerns of school and union business dissipating under the hot sun, and I can’t argue with just more and more of that either!

We decided at dinner tonight that Don and I will go snorkeling in Akumal and a few other places along the coast. And we'll all go to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen [?] about a three hour trip from here.
Friday July 15

Janet awoke with a very sore throat that won't go away. We took a golf cart over to the resort medical centre. The doctor thought that she might have caught a virus on the airplane. They aren't sanitized at each stop, plus everybody shares the same air with each other on the flight. Tres international? I'm not so sure, but it could be I suppose. He suggested she go to a throat and ear specialist in Cancun, but she didn't want to leave the resort, so got a super-antibiotic shot instead, in the butt. I asked if I could take a photo while he gave her the needle but she said no. Oh well. She thinks it's clearing up now. We will see. If not it could be serious, but either way, not a nice thing to happen on a vacation.

My new waterproof Fuji camera leaked in the surf today, and could be useless. I'll dry it out and see. The tiny little clasp on the battery and card section didn't lock properly. This kind of sucks too, but nothing seems to be getting in the way of our having a good time. It's not so much what happens but how one reacts. I think so. Are we going to be positive or negative? There is always a fly in the ointment. Such is life. We can expect that on a vacation everything will be perfect, but of course it always isn't. Perhaps never could be, it's an unrealistic expectation, one that can only lead to grief.

Donnie and I had another great dive out by the breakwater. He gave me his underwater film camera to make a movie. We'll see how it worked out. The waves were pretty rough and I was riding the swell, getting thrown about quite a bit by the waves. I just kept following the fish, hunting down the coral, filming everything. Ha. I got raked over the coral once. Ouch. A decent scratch. Was filming a solid wall of tropical fish on another occasion. Fish as far as I could see, everywhere, swaying back and forth in a huge cluster under the waves. Silver fish. Blue fish. Parrot Fish. A huge blue and yellow Angel Fish. I've never seen so many fish. One bit me. I think they were hungry. There was also a huge silver one, don't know what it was but must've been almost a meter long, round and flat, with regular fins and an ugly snout. I chased after him a bit along the reef, but he out swam me.

I arrived back on shore so high, it was incredible. A natural high. Nothing could phase me. I've been bitten, scratched by the coral, stung by jellyfish enough over the years. Maybe I'm immune to it now. I even swallowed a tiny jellyfish one, went right down my snorkel and into my gullet. Now that was unpleasant, but is a story for another day. I was quite pleased with the two hours or so I was out there again today, and it was a great work out!

Janet and Pearl waited back at the beach chairs on the reserved Royal Yucatan section of the beach. All sand, not much coral. I think I told you the story about that before. It was wedding day. The resort set up a little chapel on the beach and couples were lining up to get married. All the women at the resort, including our wives gathered to watch, fascinated with the dresses, vows, music and what not. I suspect they get as high off that as Don and I did off the fish. Somthing for everyone here!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Mexico Mayan Riviera Diary 1

Tuesday July 12th
We stepped off the jetliner at Cancun into a wall of heat. It was totally relentless, still before lunch, after a very early morning departure from Pearson. Fortunately we cleared airport security at both ends without incident, just walked straight through onto the plane and then off again, picked up our luggage from the conveyor belt, and got aboard our bus to the Royal Yucatan Resort. I fell asleep while looking out the windows into the clouds for most of the flight. Awoke to see the shiny blue Carribean below, then the coastline. Touch down, and now here we are.
We had a leisurely buffet lunch Mexican style while they cleaned our rooms. Janet and mine is gorgeous. Huge, almost like a small house, with a big sitting room, washroom, bedroom, two balconies, one with a private jacuzzi. It is a smoking room, not too bad. It's so nice I think we will stay in it rather than change to a nonsmoking one.
My cousin Donny and his wife Pearl flew down with us. Don and I plan to snorkel. The ladies want to just sun on the beach. We want to nap in the shade of the palms, read, relax, talk, and feel the stress of the year dissipate in the heat of the summer sun, the sea breeze, and the swaying palms.
We unpacked, rested up a bit and went for a swim in the large lagoon like pool. After dinner we went for a moonlight walk on the beach. It’s huge and must stretch on quite a distance. The sea was pretty choppy. The breeze delightful. The guy at the main desk recommended diving in some of the inlets along the coast, the water is less rough. And we might take a trip or two to see the Mayan ruins. But for now we look forward to some much needed sleep.
Wednesday July 13th
A day on the beach. I swam out a bit, less than 100 meters as the water was quite rough. Out there I could ride the swell of the waves, diving down about 3 or 4 meters to check out the coral and fish. It's mostly a sand beach, which Janet and Pearl like, but I saw some brain coral, sea ferns and a lot of big fish. There are Blue Tang, Parrot Fish, Stripped Sgt Majors, not unlike in Cuba only bigger. I swam along side a huge sea turtle, before heading back to shore.
There are turtle nests all along the beach, mounds of sand with eggs beneath. String is strung around them by the hotel staff. Do not disturb.
We lay in the sun, rested in the shade of the palm trees. It sure felt great. Later we went for a late lunch at the beach grill before returning to our room for a nap. Tonight we are going out for Japanese food. Life is good.
I will post some photos to follow, and continue adding to this post, I think.

Thusday July 14th

We slept in and had a late breakfast. We are at the Royal Yucatan Suites, an adult only enclave in a much, much larger "Palladium" resort, of which we also have full reign. We have a private buffet and a la carte restaurant, or can have our meals delivered to our room. There is a golf cart we can call to take us anywhere on the resort too. The best sandy part of the beach is set aside for us. Our fridge is stocked with 26'ers of rum, vodka, whisky and there are two varieties of beer; Mexican or Americano. All of this is included in our all inclusive rate, rather pricey but well worth it. We are wanting for nothing. Could have lobster everynight, or make private reservations at any of the other six a la carte restaurants around the resort, plus get a ride over. A very good deal!

Everything else seems very expensive, even by Toronto standards. Janet has a sore throat and needed some listerine; $9 for a small bottle at the tuck shop. The souvenier vendors sell outrageously overpriced shlock. Imagine you are staying at the Royal York on Front Street, and doing all your shopping there, and you get the picture, only it's all Mexican style. But really there is very little if anything else we really need. Shakira is playing a concert down the strip in Cancun. Tickets for $600. The girls were kind of disappointed. Don and I rather pleased because that nixed that.

After breakfast we headed out to the salt water pool by the point. Even though it was high noon we got a sun bed with a covering. The sea washes into the pool from two different points, so the water is always being refreshed. It is like an aquarium, carved into the rocks, filled with colourful tropical fish that swim in and out with the waves. Small  but numerous, very magical. The pool water itself is very calm and idyllic. Some folk brought their kids but it is about four or five feet deep with only a ladder to get in and out, so they can't leave them to run free terrorizing everybody else while they go get drunk at the bar. Nice touch.

I teach all year. Folks can take care of their own kids during the summer, and quite frankly it's scary to watch. Quite often many parents have a very weak grasp on what they are doing. In my opinion, Canadian tourists can be the worst. Their free little spirits are more often than not now just little monsters they are  stuck with for the next two months. They spoil them by going to some resort and letting them just run wild while they party themselves, and get quite indignant if anybody says boo. I've seen the kids wander off into the jungle, burn in the sun, drift off on an air mattress out to sea, run about screaming and yelling in the restaurants, around the slippery pool deck. At one resort, the parents were even laughing and taking their kids pictures with cigarettes and drinks in the disco. We will gladly pay extra for an adult only facility. Empty nesters, we've paid our dues. As a teacher, I'll work at straightening them out for the parents during the regular school year ahead. During the summer? Not my responsibility anymore. I don't even want to see them around.

Call me a cranky old man, an old school nazi fascist, "who just doesn't get it", or whatever. I've been around the blocks more than a few times during my twenty five years in the classroom, even made my fair share of parenting mistakes as a father. But today it is just totally insane. I'm not interested in playing the game anymore and saying it's not so. Message! Parents of the world: Danger! Danger! Danger! It's not, repeat not the "system" that is letting the students down, and setting them up for future failure....

But I digress. Excuse me. It is summer and I've earned the holiday. So there! :-)

I fell asleep for a few hours listening to the surf and enjoying the sea breeze. We walked back to the beach grill for a snack before we went snorkeling on the reef. The resort is on the sea shore of a long bay, fairly shallow and warm. Most of the coral is dead, but there are plenty of big tropial fish, huge schools of them everywhere. My cousing Don and I swam out to the breakwater. It was fairly rough but we rode the swells. I couldn't believe all the fish! It was so nice just swimming about on our own way out there. The sea, the sun, the surf. Some of the breakers were quite big but we are both good swimmers, been doing it since we were kids so it pretty much seems to come naturally, and I really feel I am in my own environment, the one I like best. Very invigorating.

If one can't move forward or backwards as you swim, follow the current to either side, and remember; you will always float back up. I think fear of the water is what makes it so dangerous. We checked at the resort. There are no undercurrents, riptide or dangerous fish. There are some stingrays you are warned not to step on and so on, but typical seaside stuff. Really, the most dangerous thing is the water is yourself and other people. Touch nothing, respect your limits, go with the flow and one should be fine. That's my advice anyway.

Back on shore Janet and Pearl were having drinks on the lounge chairs under the palms. We were in the main beach area and it was pretty rowded, kids running around and what not. That is the rocky part, which ironically is also where the fish and reefs are, but if you are not a diver, I don't know how good it would actually be for just swimming. If you are, it's a very good to great snorkel. I was quite impressed.

We headed back to our rooms around supper time to wash up, rest  bit, and are heading out later for lobster dinner.

I will take my water camera out next time and get some underwater pictures to post now that I know where to look. I have some more from out and about the resort and sea shore to post from today.

I saw another turtle swimming along the shoreline on my way back to our rooms.

Friday 8 July 2011

A Yonge Street Walk In Toronto + So On

Another fine morning out here on my balcony. I have my coffee, juice, cereal, and I am picking at some grapes thinking about what else I have to do to get ready for our Mexico trip. Yesterday I went downtown to Yorkville to get my hair cut real short for the summer, plus I figure it will be extra hot down there and I will be in the water a lot. I've gone to Wayne, the same hair stylist for years.

We got talking about Iphones. We're both recent converts. Next thing you know we've got them out, and are trying to show each other how to do this and that on them, the hair cut all but forgotten. I never noticed before but they have four tiny speakers on them, and one is louder than the others, which are very low. We  tried to figure out why as Wayne got back to cutting my hair. It creates a stereo effect, is that what Apple is after? It reminded Wayne of those pocket transistors we used to listen to in the sixties, with the fake stereo sound. Is one speaker louder than the others to create a slight sense of depth? Then why would Apple, being so high tech and all, not just put in four good speakers with right and left channels? It remains a mystery!

Hair cut finished I took a walk down Yonge Street, all the way from Bloor to Dundas Square. It was busy  but not so busy as last time, lots of tourists, predominantly Asian it would seem, clicking pictures of everything I see every time I've gone downtown Yonge Street all my life. I got a chuckle out of that, thinking I will be doing the same in Mexico. "Oh look at that! And That!" etc. Click. Click. Click. I suppose the interest is all relative to being from somewhere else so it's looks quite different and unique. Not that it isn't, but let's face it, if you see something all the time it becomes pretty routine, and after awhile you might not even notice anymore.

I've always enjoyed my walks shuffling down Yonge Street Toronto. The hustle and bustle, the cheesy looking shops and the big box brand name stores. All the way down to the Eaton Centre, where the pedestrian traffic is four way now, on the green light, kind of neat. Dundas Square was quite busy, and the fountains were on. All the seats were taken, folks were even stretched out relaxing in the sun on the concert stage and street barriers, which was okay, I was into walking.

Funny how huge crowds, like last Saturday are a complete turn off for me. If it's for a parade, at an amusement park, a shopping mall and so on, I get anxiety attacks for sure. But I can belly upfront stage at any huge rock concert and have become quite adept at doing so over the years. I've been in protests, demonstrations and riots and no problem. I've often spoken to large crowds at political rallies, both here in Canada and in Cuba, at TSU union meets, and in classrooms full of students over the course of my teaching career. It's never been a problem. I even enjoy it.

I was the radio program director during my student years at Erindale College, University of Toronto. I use to be a disc jockey at dances and so on. Never bothered me. I worked the Canadian National Exhibition every year as a student, thrived on the mobs, but wouldn't go there now as a visitor, no way. Doesn't even interest me; the carnival rides, the pavilions. I'll go if Janet drags me in, or there is a concert, but it's just straight in and out.

When my son was little, I even had to wait outside Santa Claus Village in Huntsville. All those frigging Santas, elves, kids, baby carriages. The stinky reindeer pooping everywhere. Wall to wall people. Nope. Not for me. Canada's Wonderland along Highway 400? The huge blue smurf guys, the screaming kids, the long line-ups for the rides. Nope. If there is a traffic jam I will drive way around it, even if it would be quicker just to bide my time and ride through, bumper to bumper. Highway 401? Rarely if ever! I've been stuck in traffic jams for hours, snaking along, then at a standstill, then moving a few feet again. Only to eventually arrive at the scene of the carnage to see smashed cars and glass. An ambulance, maybe a mangled body or two. Everybody slowing down again to rubber neck. Total horror show. Nope! It's not for me!

Give me something to do in a crowd and I'm in fine form, can even get really into it. Otherwise no.

Anyways, I walked about the Eaton Centre a bit killing time before I met Janet who went to get her nails done after work. There was a huge window display of a mannequin in a Canada shirt and tourist shorts, with matching Canada suitcases and all. White and bright red. I don't see the appeal. It looked so loud and gaudy! Might frighten little children or draw the attention of the Taliban or what not, I don't know. I do remember at one time when we travelled abroad I would wear a small Canada flag or pin attached to my jacket or backpack or whatever. Folks did seem nicer. Getting dressed up as Mr. Canada in a Canadian flag with matching Canadian flag accessories is all totally beyond me. Still, there it was in a window display, screaming out, "Come in! Buy this!"

I took a picture with my iPhone. Also a picture of the mannequins in the "Old Navy" store. All decked up in these cheapo cheapo clothes with these dumb, absent grins on their face, surrounding a happy little terrier dog statue with it's tail stuck up in the air. Maybe I should post the photos here? I do have foreign readers . Maybe I should do a Welcome to Toronto Canada's Kitsch slide show, eh? Ha.

I do love Toronto. Truly it is the city the rest of Canada loves to hate. Of course it probably helps that I was born here. If I explain places and things in our city in greater detail with full names and the like, that's because everybody who reads these posts isn't from here like most readers. They don't necessarily know what I am talking about. This week there's been readers from the US, Russia, Australia, Germany,the UK, Bulgaria, Argentina, India and so on. If you aren't from there, a special hello! But I digress...

I met Janet outside the "World's Biggest Bookstore". That's the name of the place anyway. We went to Chinatown, the outer edge, along Dundas between Bay and Yonge to the Spadina Garden restaurant. One of my favourites. Heaping sloppy plates of spicy chicken with peanut sauce, succulent beef with black bean sauce. They seem to specialize in their sauces. Maybe not gourmet fare, but you see a lot of Asian and movie people there, so I'd suspect they are onto something.

Afterwards we caught the subway to our cars and drove home. I listened to a live Robert Fripp concert disc I bought for a bit in my man cave, then went to bed at a decent hour with Janet. She finishes work today for a few weeks, and I think it ticks her off to no end that I get to just slop around pretty much doing as I please. That and a whole lot of nothing.

Sorry if these postings drag a bit, meander here and there, digress, as does my whole life and state of mind these days. I feel great, but the postings should be a lot more interesting when we head out on our trips. Soon enough. I've got our in-laws to house sit, they can just enjoy staying here and being in Toronto, a holiday for them, while we are away

The airplane can be packed tight, that's fine, but the crowded airport gives me a big anxiety attack, the whole time, until I feel the jet wheels lift up off the runway, then I am okay. Can hardly wait. But enough for now.....

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Beaches, Condos, Crowds + So On

Tuesday morning, the first week of summer vacation and I'm all but at a loss for words. Nothing particularly earth shattering going on.  As TSU 3rd VP I'm basically off for the summer. A few phone calls, emails, some meetings down at the union office. I'm not going anywhere near school, not even thinking about it. I've got all my Autism courses back again for the fall. Every so often someone takes a run at my job, but then spends a bit of time with the students, or has them integrated in their class, and next thing you know, they are back with me and my workers again, nobody else around. Ha.

They are severely autistic, and I mean severely, so either you  get what's going on or you don't. I should figure out some day why it suits my temperament. Folk even tell me they feel sorry for me, or wonder how I can stand it, but for me it's just fine. I quite like it. There are a small but very tight group of support workers and then the six student teenage boys, all but totally out of it, but each with their own distinct personality. In it's own way its a very comfortable, happy little place. I wrote about it before in one of my June blogs if you want to go check it out in my directory; middle column bottom of the postings. So my teaching schedule seems to be pretty much taken care of for another year. Plus I was re-elected to the teacher's union executive again for my fifth term. Seems pretty much steady as it goes come next fall.

We had a great time at Willow Beach. Dave and I swam out into the lake with our snorkeling gear, but it was pretty cold still, a cool spring. A very invigorating but not otherwise particularly inviting swim, especially when I know I'm heading down to the Caribbean soon, which is as warm as a bathtub with coral and schools of coloured fish. Lake Simcoe has more of a rugged northern Canadian summer ambiance to it. The water is  royal blue, clean, not too choppy and I believe it's about 50 miles across from Barry to Orillia. The bottom is mostly rocks, some big fish but dull coloured, to match the surroundings.

It was quite nice out on the dock. Janet and Loretta were sitting on the beach chairs. I fell asleep sprawled out on my towel  for a bit. There was a very pleasant breeze, it was a hot and sunny day. The local neighbours fixed up the lake shore at the foot of the street. Built steps down to the waters edge, two layered with a lounging area and a generous sized dock. There are sun chairs for the locals to use. It is by invite only. Otherwise the town would be swamped by the two and a half million Torontonians just an hours drive south .

Let's face it. Every year the city says Lake Ontario is safe and clean by world standards, which I guess means it's like a big toilet. I wouldn't swim in it, nowhere near Toronto anyway. Willow Beach itself is a very small town, generally considered a part of Georgina, which isn't very big either. Dave says Lake Simcoe has deteriorated a lot since he grew up there as a boy. It still seems very nice but he says he actually used to drink from it, not anymore. Much of the waterfront is locally owned which means the owners have land rights up to the water's edge, rather controversial, but it has held up in the courts.

Slowly but surely the shore line has been bought up. The local towns charge huge parking fees, if they allow parking at all, to scare most everybody else off, or at least to create local funding for the shoreline upkeep. In the case of Willow Beach, the locals got together and run and keep the docks for themselves, everybody contributing. Quite pleasant. Not a very affluent place but with a dumfy kind of southern Ontario small town charm. It's definitely a relic in time around here these day, though there are other such communities along the Ottawa Valley and Lake Erie. Otherwise not.

I'm not especially one for the large beach resort areas like Sauble Beach on Lake Huron, or Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay. Of course they've got long stretches of white sand, many, many kilometers long which are public beaches or provincial parks. But they get packed, and the towns, if you can call them that, basically remind me of amusement parks. I like to chill out more now.

I use to go a lot as a kid, which I remember as being quite typical. The whole family would pack up the car and off we'd go, maybe even rent a cottage. Go to Wasage and you'd recognize everyone from Toronto. Hi! Oh hi! etc. etc. etc. We'd hang out and party like crazy there as teens. I recall in particular the May 24th Victoria Day long weekend at Sauble Beach in 1975. Carloads of young people just kept pouring in and all hell broke loose.

There was a huge riot, for no particular reason except it was the long weekend. The main street shops were trashed and set on fire. The Ontario Provincial Police launched a pincer strike. Landing marine style on the beach with billy clubs and shields to a barrage of beer bottles, battling their way up the main street. Meanwhile reinforcements arrived along all the roads into town to try to contain the madness.

I remember sitting on a hilltop with my buddy Chris, watching all this. The rowdies would chop a tree down along one of the roads in. The cops would get out of their cruisers, scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do. Suddenly they'd be hit with a barrage of beer bottles from the hundred of teens partying in the woods. Sheer madness.

Chris and I were still into the love, peace and understanding hippie thing. This was towards the end of that whole era, and in retrospect I guess this is where the rebellion all started to deteriorate into chaos. We found it all quite incomprehensible, though no doubt fascinating. We were up for the weekend, no car, we hitch-hiked, which was still cool. I hitch-hiked across Canada to British Columbia the following year. Anyway, on this long weekend, we ended up crashing out in our sleeping bags under the pines near a motorcycle gang camp. The only safe place, quite ironically. The police weren't going to mess with them. So we managed to avoid getting our heads cracked. On the way out a few days later there was debris and beer bottles lying everywhere as far as I could see. I kid you not. The locals where loading up pick up trucks with the bottles to take them to the beer store for a refund.

After awhile it was nick named the May Two-four Weekend because everybody but everybody would at least buy one twenty four bottle case of beer. I don't think it's called that anymore. I don't know. I've long, long since moved on from any such scene to middle-aged respectability. Still, whenever I hear anyone lament "the kids today" at school, I wonder if we are not often wearing rose coloured glasses. What ghosts must rattle their chains in the closets of summer long past in the lives of grown-ups today? And has this every really changed, or was it perhaps just an isolated moment in time?  Didn't happen before and never happened again? Anywhere else? Hmmmmm. Don't judge the young folk too harshly.

Anyway, the next day after Willow Beach I went downtown to Yonge and Dundas, to buy some music and books for our trip to Mexico. Books and music for lying on the beach type fare. I forgot it was the Gay Pride Parade Weekend, haven't been watching the news, and the Globe and Mail, Canada's "National" newspaper which I read every morning, didn't report on it much. Anyway, by later accounts over a million people lined the parade route this year! What a spectacle! They just kept pouring in and pouring in and pouring in.

Yonge Street was closed off to traffic and was soon jam packed with spectators. I retreated into HMV after a madman pushing a baby carriage kept ramming it into everybody, the baby just lying there oblivious,. He didn't seem to want to let anyone get past. It was beyond me. I really can't stand crowds. There were lots of very healthy scantily clad young women, possibly gay, though I saw one interesting t-shirt, "Straight but not narrow". Bah, I'm in my fifties now, very happily married. Eye candy. I suppose they were rather titillating but I wasn't going to stick around for any kind of parade. I can still belly up front stage at a packed rock concert but much anything else and I still head for the hills. Caught the subway back up to Wilson Station where I parked my car, and drove home for a long luxurious afternoon snooze on the couch.

Yesterday, the weekend over, I began cleaning up the condo, beginning with my man cave. I have my music, books, electronic equipment there, an easy chair, small couch. Moved things around and cleaned every nook and cranny. I clean in this household. I'll let it slip sometimes but otherwise am very thorough. Janet will cook and do the laundry, I clean. We usually get together and take care of the chores around home every Sunday afternoon during the work week. Now I can do it at my leisure, maybe one room a day until it's done.

I collect music and books. The books are organized by subject, the music alphabetically by artist A through Z, and I clean so everything is neat and orderly. I've read that psychologically speaking this represents an obsession with establishing and maintaining order in ones life and world around us. Could be. I like to come home and have refuge from the often chaotic nonsense going on all about. Or maybe I just picked this up by habit from my dad, he was like that too.

When it comes to cooking, forget it, I can burn water. The laundry machines are like huge open mouth beasts that one just keeps stuffing clothes into I as far as I am concerned. I admit, I grew up as a nice "Leave It To Beaver" suburban boy and didn't pay much mind to any of this. I shrink wools and darn it don't you just hate when the colours get mixed! Cleaning is a pretty big job, so I'm not going to get too apologetic. Though I grant you, the only clean up I totally don't get is this environmental thing of sorting everything into bins and taking them to different dumpsters.

Condos have been exempt from a of of recycling in Toronto until now. There are all these coloured bins in the kitchen that don't fit anywhere, which drives me mad. It's ingrained in me that garbage always goes in a garbage can. You take the bag out when its full, tie it up, and dump it down the garbage shoot. Presto! No more garbage! That's why we call a garbage bag a garbage bag; because garbage goes in it and then it's thrown away so the place isn't messy. It doesn't matter if it's paper, plastic or cans, or even food for that matter. It's all garbage. I can't obsess over touching it all again, sorting it into groups and then walking all over the place with it. It goes in a can, a bag, a garbage shoot. Job done. Totally politically incorrect and unjustifiable I know, but old habits die hard. When we redo the kitchen I will get it built so there are special enclosed areas for all this and an orderly system in place so hopefully I will get it figured out straight.

Well, it's Tuesday morning. I'm sitting in the shade on my balcony. The morning traffic has pretty well died down into a workday lull for now. Janet headed off to work about an hour ago. I got up to kiss her good-by, then came out here for my coffee and newspaper etc. I think I will get back to my cleaning. Bye for now!

Saturday 2 July 2011

Summer At Last!!!

Please note: The movie I refer to is called "Enter The Void", and it's listed under "Last Chance" in the "Movies" section of "TMN On Demand "Rogers Channel 309 here in Toronto. 

Yes it sure feels good. I'd like to say I live all year waiting for this but that would be like wishing my life away. I always try to adhere to the "Be Here Now" philosophy in which I live the moment to it's fullest.
The past is over. The future is yet to come. So be here now, and drink in life. Every moment is special, and a celebration of life. Easier said than done, especially when the grind is on at school and with my TSU work, but even then I try. Forget everything and just enjoy the moment for a bit. That would be my centering.

Scuba diving is like that. At the bottom of the sea, with only the sound of my breathing and swish of water in
my ears. Looking out my mask at God's beauty all around me. Easier in the Caribbean than in class on a bad day, I grant you. Since the sun, sea and surf appeal to me the most, I will sometimes close my eyes when I'm stretched out on the beach in a comfortable chair, or perhaps floating on my back somewhere out to sea. I like to take a mental snapshot. How it sounds, feels, that sense of comfort, warmth and space. Then when the going gets rough during the year, I will close my eyes, see it in my minds eye, feel it again. Not quite be here now, but a very worthwhile escape. I feel much better afterwards.

But I digress. The Mexican Mayan Riviera trip is not too far off. The condo is a mess! During the last week or two or three of school there just isn't enough time it seems. A mad rush to the finish line of the school year, and the freedom of summer. So I will have to tidy up, and pack still, before we go. Get a house sitter. Janet was dancng about the living room when we finally booked our tickets. Let's face it, it's a total escape from the everyday world of home and work, to an exotic place, where we can just be.

So here I am. I'm sitting on the balcony with my morning newspaper and coffee. Some Prog Rock on the stereo. Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Focus, Rush, what have you. It's quite a mixed playlist I put together on itunes from my cds. There is a light pleasant breeze. The sky is clearing and the sun coming out. I can hear the cars on Weston Road. I'm pretty relaxed. I can smell the freshness of summer, not the dog days heat when everything seems smothered by the sun. It's the fresh crisp smell of the grass and the vibrant green tree leafs before they wilt in the heat. Someones cut the grass. I can look out over the Humber River ravine, some skyscrapers peaking out above the treetops of the giant forest valley winding it's way down to the lake. Love it all!

I'm sort of in free fall now. It's the Canada Day Weekend of course. We drove up to the Vaughan Mall to pick up a few things for our trip. It was packed. Not my style, after that we just came home to relax and do a whole lot off nothing. The freedom of summer! I stayed up late watching this fabulous movie "Enter The Void" It's about a  post death experience. One rarily sees the main character. The camera is his eyes. All very surreal and stream of consciousness. His life flashes before him, the past, the present he is no longer a part of. Flashing lights and patterns verywhere, it's like he is floating, or flying as he moves through space and time, into the light. Wow! It's on TMN/HBO on Demand or whatever, the free channel, and it's a final run movie, so catch it if you can.

Then I slept in late a bit. Janet has some running around to do but woke me up when she left. We're heading off to Willow Beach to visit Dave and Loretta. Go swimming. Have a BBQ. I'm bringing my snorkel gear. I hear he's a pretty good swimmer so maybe we can head out and down to the bottom a bit. Lake Simcoe. That should be another moment in time.

I'll go start to get ready.....

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!