Two great singers gone too soon!

From time to time I like to reflect on songs, books, movies, situations that had an impact on me.  I hope that you will benefit from the following female singer/songwriters as I did.

Lhasa de Sela  Related image

“For four days after she died, it snowed in Montreal, it was as if the sky were grieving” –posted by Denis Spichak on you tube comments! 

Born to an American mother and a Mexican father in Big Indian, upstate New York the singer-songwriter died in her home, after a 21-month battle with breast cancer. She was 37 years old.  Known professionally as Lhasa, she marked the world music scene with her dreamy and ethereal songs, written and recorded in Spanish, French and English.

Lhasa grew up on the road, travelling in a converted school bus with her nomadic family. She eventually followed her sisters to Montreal, where she settled at 19.

In 1997, Montreal-based singer Lhasa de Sela released her first album, La Llorona, (the crying woman, in Spanish) an album of emotion-drenched songs that drew on the traditions of Mexican balladeers, French chansonniers, and Quebecois poets. The album was a huge international hit, selling 400,000 copies in France alone, and in its wake Lhasa performed several times in Vancouver, BC gaining a strong local following. Then she disappeared completely from the radar–no touring, no albums, no nothing–leaving legions of fans wondering what became of the elfin singer with the smoky, impassioned voice.

Extensive touring with the Canadian all-female music festival Lilith Fair left Lhasa feeling burnt out, and in 1998 she stepped out of the spotlight and joined Pocheros, her sisters’ touring circus, in France.

Lhasa settled in the south of France to write songs for her second album, The Living Road, recorded in French, English and Spanish. The Times of London named her sophomore work as one of the 10 best world albums of the decade.

Her ultimate album, called Lhasa, a collection of English songs recorded live, was launched at Montreal’s Corona Theatre.  Lhasa cancelled her 2009 tour because of her illness.

I first saw her perform with her very tight band at the Vancouver Folk Festival in the late 90’s and was captivated by her voice and strong persona whilst performing.  I had no idea what she was singing but I identified with the raw, emotional context.  My husband and I also caught her at the River Run Centre in Guelph a few years before she died.

 

            Lhasa de Sela, singer-songwriter, born 27 September, 1972; died 1 January, 2010

 


Eva Cassidy  Image result for Eva Cassidy photo

“Whatever genre she is singing, she totally nails. Gospel, country, blues, jazz, r & b. She makes every song her own. She was a rare talent, gone way too soon.”

Don’t be surprised if you have never heard of the talented singer and musician Eva Cassidy. Most people in the United States are not familiar with her or her music. If you live in the United Kingdom, chances are you probably have listened to this amazing American songstress as she reached popularity there long before being known in her native country.  One of her songs ‘Songbird’ is in the 2003 Christmas movie “Love Actually”, her music was featured on the Sopranos and in a Madonna documentary.  For those fans of the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie” – Eva’s song “Who Knows Where the Time Goes from the Imagine album played at the end of the final episode (episode 13 “The Sign’) of Season 3 as Grace and Frankie are going up in the hot air balloon. 

After having a malignant mole removed from her back in 1993, the melanoma spread to other parts of her body. Despite treatment, she lost her battle with cancer in November, 1996. Sadly, Eva Cassidy was only 33 years old when she died. Her parents, Barbara and Hugh Cassidy live in Bowie, Md., in the house where Eva, the third of their four children, came to stay in her final months, so her mother could care for her. Barbara Cassidy worked for years in a flower nursery, as did her daughter. Hugh is a retired special-education teacher. Like Eva, he is both musical, playing the cello and bass, and artistic. He produces metal sculptures; she was a painter who created murals for local schools.

In 1998, Blix Records released “Songbird.” The collection featured some songs taken from Blues Alley, others were recorded by Biondo (from her band) at his studios.

The record had middling success in most of the United States. But Cassidy’s posthumous career took off when a BBC producer in London got a copy of “Songbird” and began playing a live version of “Fields of Gold” and a studio rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” The phones lit up. The U.K. was enthralled. An amateur video of Cassidy singing “Over the Rainbow” filmed at Blues Alley was played on BBC-TV’s “Top of the Pops” and quickly became the most-requested video in the program’s history, according to the show’s producers. A handful of gold record singles and millions of CD sales followed.

 

My husband loves the organ in the first song and I love the saxophone on this one!  A great talent gone too soon!  A shy, introvert who could be stubborn and didn’t want to be pigeonholed never got to enjoy her fame and fortune …but who will live on eternally in her music.

Eva Cassidy – born 2nd Feb, 1963 and died 2nd of Nov, 1996


 

Cleveland, Ohio … Not the armpit of the world

For some unknown reason, at least to me, Cleveland is a city in America that has been called the ‘armpit of the world’ by some poor bloke that probably has never visited the place.  This past May two four week-end which we lovingly call the Victoria Day week-end in Canada – and for many shaking off the shackles of a long, cold winter has come to mean the celebration of warm weather finally arriving – and of course…a case of beer or two!

So, my husband and I took off on the Saturday morning to spend three days, two nights in Cleveland which is about six hours drive plus the wait at the border to cross which can be long.  I believe, we were over in a half hour so all was good, plus we had great tunes on the drive.  Doesn’t take much to make us happy!  Since we hadn’t had breakfast we stopped near Erie, Pennsylvania for lunch.  Fortified, we were on our way again.  Two things I noticed – there were so many deer dead on the side of the road or in the meridian and I felt incredibly bad for them …although I’m sure it was no picnic for the poor bugger who ran into them.  Secondly, there was a lot of road construction, happily being a Saturday they weren’t working, but I made a mental note to prepare for those work slowdowns on the way back.

Cleveland Museum of Art atrium
The atrium at Cleveland Museum of Art

Having a limited amount of time to enjoy the city, we nonetheless managed to pack quite a bit into the next two days.  Early in the morning on Sunday, we visited the Cleveland Museum of Art which is stunning and right next to the Botanical Gardens.  It is closed on Mondays so our only option was Sunday.  Located at 11150 East Boulevard. www.ClevelandArt.org

View from our seats way out Unfortunately, we only had two hours to visit as we were attending the Cleveland Indian ballgame that afternoon with Baltimore (the Orioles were badly crushed).  Progressive Field is a great ballpark and after watching a few innings from our seats we walked around to the other side to get different viewpoints and talked to a number of fans about their ball club and life in general.

East 4th Street.JPGAfter the game we had a quick appetizer and cocktail at 4th Street which is a pedestrian friendly alley with twinkling patio lights all along the length of it.

Ralphies,We decided to go and visit Ralphie’s house from “A Christmas Story”  which is one of our favourite Christmas shows to watch every year about the young boy who wanted a BB gun for Christmas and everyone kept telling him “you’ll shoot your eye out”.  If you’ve never seen it, it will give you a good idea of how cold it can get in the winter.  Located at 3159 West 11th Street and open from 10 am – 5 pm.

Guardians of Traffic on Hope Memorial BridgeNaturally, I had to get some photos of the Guardians of Traffic which are art deco sculptures on each end of the Hope Memorial Bridge (formerly Lorain-Carnegie) behind Progressive Field and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The figures are carved from 43 foot tall local Berea sandstone.  I couldn’t believe how close everything was.  We walked for miles that day.  At the end of the evening we had a nice Italian meal at Carrabba’s in Westlake and fell into bed pleasantly exhausted.

Cleveland rocks.JPGMonday morning we headed back home but first we stopped off at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which I highly recommend if you enjoy music at all.  Long Live Rock and Roll. We did not see everything we would have liked so we will now have to go back and spend another couple of days sometime in the future.  Do you ever really get to see everything in one City?  All in all a very enjoyable few days away.


 

Toronto’s hidden jewel – highlighting the mundane but essential function that makes cities possible

One of Canada’s most spectacular public works and a tour de force of architecture lies at 2701 Queen St. E. in Scarborough, Ontario.  Providing the essence of survival to at least 35% of Torontonians, it is a marvel of engineering and produces drinking, bathing and cooking water to residents who don’t give its easy access a second thought.

What would happen if you couldn’t bathe, shave, have tea in the morning or flush your toilet….  Pandemonium, that’s what!  Something that we take for granted in our privileged lives…the simple act of having water!

Toronto’s main treatment plant, the R. C. Harris buildings produce around 35% of the city’s water.  Lake Ontario water is treated with a coagulant and pumped on top of several beds (water basins) which are covered in charcoal. The water filters down the charcoal and the successively coarser layers of rock underneath it, until it reaches an underground reservoir. Chemicals are added then, mainly fluoride and chlorine, the treated water sits in the basins for several hours allowing sediment to sink to the bottom, then it is treated with more filtering and presto bango bingo, water is delivered to almost a third of the citizens of Toronto.

  • Produces more than 120,000 million litres of water annually
  • Can produce 950 million litres daily

I would like to pay tribute to the man who built this ‘Palace of Purification’ for whom the building was named…Roland Caldwell Harris, Toronto’s commissioner of public works from 1912 until 1945. The water plant, and other Toronto landmarks such as the Bloor Street viaduct, were built during his tenure.  Architect Thomas Canfield Pomphrey designed the plant, that was built in phases throughout the 1930s in the art deco style opening in 1941.

The pumps in the low-lift room, seen from the gallery at the west end of the room, deliver raw water to the Filter Building for treatment.  Each pump is numbered; the elaborate limestone signal panel indicates which pumps are operating

The use of rich materials like marble and bronze in the interior (plus the extensive limestone carvings on the exterior helped earn the nickname “Palace of Purification”.

If you are ever in Toronto for an extended visit and have the time, you should definitely have a picnic on the grounds and inspect the many buildings comprising the plant.  It is incredible.

For a previous post on water, see the ‘essence of life’.  For a flash to the past, check out this video which really has nothing to do with the subject of this piece but I played it endlessly when travelling through Europe in 1986.

The advent of air travel

As my father-in-law who is 89 years young just returned from a tropical vacation and was complaining about the delay not only in leaving Toronto but arriving back a week later, and still quite irked by the lack of concern by the airline, I thought I’d take a moment and remind people that commercial flight has only been around just over 100 years — 105 to be precise as the first commercial flight for an airline was in 1914 with one paying passenger.

By the 1930’s air travel had exploded when the number of people using airplanes to travel shot from 6,000 annually in 1930 to over 1.2 million by 1938.  Today well over 3 billion people travel by plane on a daily basis.  What are the odds that there won’t be a delay somewhere with that amount of travelers.  I always write off the first day of the vacation and the return home and if everything goes well, then that is a bonus.

We can complain a lot about the cost of flying, the cost of fuel and the absence of meals on flights but if you were flying from London, England to Australia back then it would take 11 days to complete with 24 scheduled stops to refuel for the staggering amount of $20,000 dollars.  So more for the rich and famous then the average Joe.  Nowadays this flight would be about 22 hours for less than $2,000 return.  Mind you, you can fit a lot more people on a modern plane.

An average ticket for a flight could cost 1/2 the price of a brand new car (approx. $600-$800 dollars).  The price of a house meanwhile was about $4,000.00.  Passengers also had to worry about permanently losing their hearing due to the noise of the engines and their lunch with unexpected sharp drops of 100 feet or so throughout the flight.

KLM is the self-proclaimed oldest airline in the world. It is also the world’s oldest continually operating airline under the same name. Founded on October 7, 1919, KLM made its first scheduled flight between London and Amsterdam in 1920.

The first flight attendants were male stewards who loaded luggage, reassured nervous passengers and issued refunds or helped people around the cabin.  By the late 1920’s, Pan-American Airways, which flew over water, required extensive first aid and seamanship training for its steward trainees.  The first female attendants or stewardesses were introduced in May of 1930.

Next time you find yourself at the airport waiting an extra four or six hours to depart because the airline didn’t notify you of any delays when you phoned at 5:30 am to take the airporter there and you could have used the extra three hours sleep, stay cool, you can meet a lot of nice people at the airport and what good does it do getting your panties all in a bunch anyways (or knickers in a twist if you’re from England). Till the next time, happy trails!Panties in a bunch pink

FAMILY GAMES NIGHT

We are holding another Games Night this week-end in which our friends and family will participate in a card game, a quiz game and some form of physical competition which I have not figured out yet. No, it doesn’t seem like we have learned anything from our past attempts but as stated previously, it is sometimes the only way we get to see people that doesn’t involve a death – and these game nights can get quite heated but no one has died yet!  Please see link to for prior blog on this event.

REFLECTIONS OF A SWAMPER

family-games-night-clipart

To hold a family games night as a means to spending quality time with your children is an adorable premise – a Hallmark moment of polite entertainment interspersed with laughter and learning in a secure and nurturing period of time.  In reality, it can be utter and complete chaos.

Please read  for our version of family-games-night from long ago.

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My grammerly moment

Do you know what an idiom is?  Do you care?  Just for fun, I am going to give you your grammar lesson for the week, month, year?

Let me explain how this post came about.  My best friend uses the phrase “running around like a blue arsed fly”  sometimes in conversations we have where she is trying hard to get a lot accomplished in a short period of time and getting frustrated and/or overwhelmed by it all.  It makes me laugh every time.  I think this is because my mom used to use the phrase  “a blind man on a galloping horse wouldn’t notice” when I’d point out the defects in our painting of the bedroom walls.  This causes me to chuckle every time I hear it which truthfully isn’t very often anymore.  This also makes me feel closer to them though my mom isn’t with me now.

Idioms exist in every language. They are words or phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, if you say someone has “cold feet,” it doesn’t mean their toes are actually cold. Rather, it means they’re nervous about something. 

Idioms can’t be deduced merely by studying the words in the phrase. Idioms are phrases that have a meaning that is very different from its individual parts. Unlike most sentences that have a literal meaning, idioms have figurative meaning. A literal meaning is when each word in a sentence stays true to its actual meaning. Figurative meaning is when a combination of words mean something different than the individual words do.  Take the common idiom ”you let the cat out of the bag.” If you take the literal parts and add them up, you would assume that it meant that a person was opening up a bag and letting a cat out of it. But that is not even close to what it means. The idiom doesn’t even have anything to do with a cat or even a bag. Letting the cat out of the bag means to reveal a secret.

The phrase ‘When Pigs Fly’ refers to something that is highly unlikely to ever happen. Example of use: “I might wake up early tomorrow to go and work out”. “Yes, you’ll do that when pigs fly”.  “You must be pulling my leg” – playing a joke, having a laugh at your expense but definitely not physically pulling the leg.

“Get off my back!” is an idiom meaning “Stop bothering me!” The idiom “You hit the nail on the head” means “You’re exactly right.”  “You have a chip on your shoulder” is another example. The literal meaning of this phrase is to hold a grudge.   If someone said “you’ve bitten off more than you can chew”- they are saying that you have tried to do something that is too difficult for you.  “It’s raining cats and dogs” doesn’t mean cats and dogs are falling from the sky, it just means it is raining very hard.

“Like a chicken with their head cut off “- With great haste and in a careless and/or senseless manner is quite similar to the blue-arsed fly idiom which was credited to Prince Philip in England when he asked a photographer if he had enough shots because he was running about like a blue-arsed fly but this expression was used in Australia back in the 40’s and 50’s.

Lesson over for today though I could keep going till the cows came home but that’s a whole new can of worms!  For the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would have problems with the English language – it being so straightforward and all.

Have a great day and never take yourself to seriously!

Whitewater dreams in a marmalade river!

Years ago, actually more like decades ago; I had decided I wanted to try different adventures every September, and for a number of years I did.  You can read about some of these exploits in past posts such as Jump, go ahead and jump!

Then, of course there was Let’s Go Diving; It will be fun

Anyways, this was more involved as we had to camp overnight before we set out rafting the Ottawa River with a group called Wilderness Tours which is still doing a booming business though I think the camping part has been upgraded slightly.  After a good night’s sleep we met at 10:30 am for an extensive safety briefing and paddling practice led by our guide.

The Ottawa is like a roller coaster in that there are periods with calm water below the rapids where you can catch your breath and wonder why the hell you signed up for this before the next stretch of rapids hit you and the adrenaline and your heart are pumping while trying to remain in the boat and remembering to paddle – in other words no time for thinking, just reacting.  I have to admit I had a huge grin on my face the whole time even when we lost a few people overboard after a particularly big wave washed over the boat.

Rafting is a complete experience with time for body surfing (swimming rapids), cliff jumping or swimming off the floating island (your raft).  The scenery along the way is quite spectacular.  Each trip is about four to six hours in length with a hearty BBQ half way down the river…and you will think it is the best BBQ you have ever had because you are outdoors and have survived so far and you will need the sustenance for the next leg of the trip.

Some things to consider when deciding you would like to try whitewater rafting:

  • Choose a licensed and professional rafting tour outfitter. …
  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Be safety conscious and relaxed
  • Make sure you have the right outerwear for the day and are comfortable
  • Hold the paddle properly
  • Stay in the boat! This may not always be possible, I know but you will have been coached on what to do if you find yourself in the river unintentionally
  • Know the proper swimming techniques, this is not an adventure for non-swimmers
  • Never panic – easier said than done but panic will not help you
  • Listen to your guide/instructor in the classroom and on the boat and you will do well

I highly recommend this if you like the water, are in good shape and don’t mind being tossed around the boat like the proverbial yellow rubber ducky at times.

wildernesstours-header-logo

Today was a snow day, for those in other countries who haven’t a clue what that means, it generally means the weather is so frightful outside that it’s more delightful to stay indoors – so no school, no working, a free day so to speak where you can stay in bed and read or binge watch your favourite show and not feel guilty.

lemon pieI decided I was going to bake a lemon meringue pie ( see photo to left); now the purist out there would think that would be from scratch but you’d be wrong.  One of my best friends made me a real lemon meringue pie (not from a box) and the ungrateful brat inside me didn’t even bother to have the decency to thank her and pretend I liked it because I can be an unthinking individual unable to see the amount of time and love that went into the gesture.  I have since apologized profusely and she eventually forgave me.  Now where was I, oh yeah, I had the filling cooling while I was whipping up the egg whites and sugar into high peaks of deliciousness when I started daydreaming, like you do, about how they discovered merinque in the first place and if you could use other eggs besides hens.  So to the trusty internet I went and here’s what I found out.
A whipped mixture of sugar and egg whites, meringue is used to lighten soufflés, mousses, and cake mixtures; to make pie toppings and to make desserts like baked Alaska and crisp baked meringues. There are three types of meringue; their differences lie in when and how the sugar is added:

French Meringue -This uncooked meringue is the one most people are familiar with. The sugar is gradually beaten into the egg whites once they have reached soft peaks, and then the mixture is whipped to firm peaks. This type of meringue is the least stable but also the lightest, which makes it perfect for soufflés.

Swiss meringue is smoother, silkier, and somewhat denser than French meringue and is often used as a base for buttercream frostings. Egg whites and sugar are whisked over a double boiler or bain marie to warm them, and then the mixture is whipped with an electric mixer into stiff, glossy peaks. Similar to Italian Meringue, the egg whites in this method are cooked and safe to eat without further baking.

Italian meringue is made by boiling a 240-degree Fahrenheit sugar syrup and then drizzling into whites that have already been whipped to hold stiff and glossy peaks. This creates a very stable soft meringue. For those concerned about eating raw eggs, this type of meringue is also safe to use without further baking.

Meringue is magical. It is incredibly versatile. It can be spooned onto pies, or piped into any number of beautiful shapes. It can be baked or poached, whipped into silky frostings, or folded into cakes to make them fluffier. It can be combined with ground nuts, chocolate or any number of flavorings. It can be formed into various vessels for Chantilly cream and fresh berries.

Meringue is a light, airy, and sweet cookie-sized dessert. They are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside that seems like it will melt in your mouth. (YUM!) In order to achieve that texture meringue cookies require preparations such as beating ingredients until foamy and fluffy, and cooking for a longer time under a lower temperature until meringue becomes dry on the outside.


Meringue drops for Valentines                                                   Marbeled meringue hearts                                         

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Food coloring, optional
  • 3/4 cup sugar

    DIRECTIONS

  • Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Preheat oven to 200°. Add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. Remove 1/4 cup and tint pink. Lightly swirl pink mixture into remaining meringue. Fill pastry bag with meringue. Pipe 2-in. heart shapes 2 in. apart onto prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake until set and dry, about 20 minutes. Turn oven off; leave meringues in oven until oven has completely cooled. Store in an airtight container.

Many bakers comment that duck eggs have a higher fat content that make cakes rise higher and the meringues are more stable and can get more volume.  As for who invented merinque, there is some confusion around who, and why but the when is in the 17th century.

Fun Fact:  August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie day!!  Wouldn’t be at all humid that time of year in North America. LOL

Hummingbirds, please come to my garden!

The humming bird in the featured photo is a native Californian who visited the backyard pool of the home we were vacationing at in Palm Springs.  I was super jealous and tried to film the little darlings but they are super fast and fly out of frame quickly – temperamental actors not easily directed.  They are fascinating creatures and provided endless entertainment when they were present.  This summer I am determined to attract some to my own garden in Ontario.

ruby-throated-hummingbirdIf you see Hummingbirds in Ontario, you can be sure they are members of the Ruby Throated variety (Archilochus colubris) as they are the only species native to Eastern Canada. While most of us recognize males because of their red throats and metallic green backsides, the white-chinned females are not as easily recognized. Measuring between 7.5 and 9.5 centimetres from bill to tail, and weighing approximately three grams, ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common hummingbird species out of the five that are found in Canada.  Hummingbirds live a relatively short time, 3 -5 years (though some have lived up to 12 years) and do not mate for life.  The male will attract as many females as he can who venture into his territory.  The female builds the nest, lays the eggs and looks after the little ones.

Hummingbirds lay the smallest eggs of all birds. Their eggs measure less than 1/2 inch long but may represent as much as 10 percent of the mother’s weight at the time the eggs are laid. A hummingbird egg is smaller than a jelly bean!

Purchase a hummingbird feeder and fill it with a solution that you can make at home. To make your own hummingbird food, mix one part white sugar to four parts water. Allow the water to boil for one minute and then add sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool thoroughly. Fill your feeder and store any excess in the fridge for up to three or four weeks.

The red on the feeder will attract hummingbirds. If, after a couple of weeks, you don’t have any takers, move the feeder to a more visible place and consider other ways to entice hummingbirds to your garden.

Please don’t use food coloring as this only adds chemicals to their diet; honey as it may cause a tongue fungus, brown sugar, unrefined sugar or sugar substitutes, as they can be harmful to hummingbirds. Under no circumstances should insecticides or other poisons be used at hummingbird feeders. Be sure to properly clean the feeder and replace the hummingbird nectar in your feeder every 3-4 days and 2-3 days in warmer climates. 

Cleaning doesn’t have to take long — swish a long brush inside and rinse with hot water. If you use soap, be sure to rinse the container very well.

The best rule of thumb for when to start feeding hummingbirds is this–it is better to put out hummingbird feeders too early rather than too late. Do not wait until the first hummingbirds have been seen before getting feeders ready, as this will likely be too late to attract the earliest migrants. These birds have amazing geographical memories for reliable food sources, and once they find your feeders they will continue to visit year after year.  At worst, putting out feeders too early may mean taking steps to keep the nectar from freezing during a late winter or early spring cold snap or replacing old, spoiled nectar once or twice before the birds arrive. Those are very small inconveniences for the joy of welcoming these flying jewels back at the first opportunity every spring.

No other bird on Earth can stunt-fly like a hummingbird. They can fly forward or backward, hover, and even fly upside-down, and they do all of this so fast we can’t even see it—beating their wings between 70 and 200 times per second.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta lies on the Pacific Coast and is the chief port of Jalsico estado (state) in West-Central Mexico.  Over the years it has gone from a sleepy fishing village to the third largest destination in Mexico and hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year though its population is 300,000.  I have known people that have been going down there every winter for the past twenty years and I recently got to see for myself why they go back every year.  I suspect its chief claim to fame was when the director, John Huston, filmed “Night of the Iguana” 8 miles south of here in 1964 and the subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map.  The movie starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon.  Richard’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Taylor accompanied him though both of them were married to others at the time.  How scandalous!

churchExplore the architectural wonder of the town’s centerpiece, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the focal point of a 12-day festival in December that marks the founding of Puerto Vallarta in 1851. White-washed villas with red-tile roofs, many capped with small domes sparkle in the hillside.  Spanish explorers had great influence on this region’s architecture, importing their arches, domes and courtyards.


For now, I will simply showcase five of the many sculptures that you will find when you stroll the Malecon (boardwalk) in the ‘old town’ region.

caballito de mar by rafael zamarripa, 1976Let’s start with the 1976 bronze of a boy waving while riding a sea horse by Rafael Zammarripa or the Caballito de Mar.  There are numerous sculptures lining the boardwalk, not all of which I took photos as they were generally encircled by tourists or they didn’t speak to me.  However, I might have paid more attention to some if I had done any research before my visit.  Poor planning on my part, I hate to admit.

 

the friendship fountain by james bottoms and ocatvio gonsalez gutierrez, 1987Next is the Friendship Fountain (Dancing Dolphins) created in 1987 by James (Bud) Bottoms, a Californian sculptor and environmentalist with co-artist Octavio Gonzalez Gutierrez, a Mexican sculptor best known for his Vallarta whale.  The use of dolphins is inspired by a Chumash Indian myth in which the Earth Goddess, Hutash creates a rainbow bridge, Wishtoyo, to help the Indians cross over to the mainland, along the way some looked down (despite being told not to do so) and fell off the bridge, to prevent them from drowning they were transformed into dolphins and since then the Chumash have considered them as brothers.

triton and mermaid by carlos espino, 1990
The Triton and Mermaid is a bronze sculpture fashioned by Carlos Espino in 1990 (born in Mexico City, May 3rd, 1953).  (Also found under the name “Neptune and the Nereid”, “Triton and the Nereid” or “Poseidon and the Nereid”). It depicts Triton, a merman, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite (God and Goddess of the sea respectively) reaching out to a Mermaid.

the subtle rock eater by jonas guitierriz, 2006Our fourth sculpture is a 2006 whimsical figure named “El Sutil Comepiedras”, (The Subtle Rock Eater) by Guadalajara artist Jonas Gutierrez moulded out of bronze, obsidian and stone.  When asked, the author states that he feels that negative emotions are like stones which we swallow through life. So this figure is certainly very artistically going through life digesting negativity at a rapid pace yet surprisingly unaffected so perhaps he is trying to help mankind by devouring all the negativity so that we can be spared.  One thing is for sure, you either love it or hate it!  I kind of think he’s cute!

 

xiutla folkloric ballet by jim dementro, 2006
I was utterly enchanted by the sculpture The Xiutla Fokloric Ballet in which a gentleman and his lady are dancing oblivious to the throngs of tourist with eyes only for each other.  This was also created in 2006 by Jim Dementro.  Xiutla means “the place where the vegetation grows” in the Nahua language of the pre-hispanic inhabitants. The Xiutla group was started in 1993 by Professor Enrique Barrios Limón, one of the foremost teachers of dance in Mexico. He used local Puerto Vallarta children to form one of the best troupes in Mexico, one which has toured internationally.  The sculpture captures the fluidity and grace of motion both in her dress and his stance.

Next week, I will highlight some of the restaurants in this beautiful City.  Thanks for visiting!