Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

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Island Memories Continued

July 21, 2013

Here a few more entries from my trip last summer:

Friday, June 15, 2012

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The after shower sun dips in and out of the low-lying clouds. I wait at Uncle Nic’s Naturopathic office while he sees his patients. His friend AnaBela will be by soon to scoop me up and take me down to the centro comercial while he works today. She was nice enough to pick me up to meet up with him and his partner for lunch. It’s amazing how so at home I feel here. I still stumble a bit with the language but think I’m still doing better than most. The time here is really helping me recharge my battery. It’s only been two days but I’ve already immersed my way of thinking (for the most part) to the way it is here on the island. Home seems so far away and far back in time. I was able to hop online this morning to check e-mails and nothing major has happened. I’m already thinking I could get used to doing this every summer. Hmmm.

Just like back home, everyone is complaining about the economic crisis but all the bars and restaurants are still pretty full. People are reshuffling where they are putting their money, perhaps. Just wish they’d shuffle it into buying some Cd’s my way. Being here makes me wonder what life would be like to just move in another direction. What would I do? Would I get bored? Would I – or how would I re-invent myself? Hm. No one knows.

For now I’m enjoying the lazy schedule and am forcing myself to re-acquaint with the Portuguese printed word. (I’m trying to get through their version of Vogue magazine.) Perhaps it will give me some song inspiration? Inspiration. The illusive drug of my existence. So seldom. So fleeting.

NG

Monday, June 18, 2012

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Uncle Nic’s garden

These last few days have been tremendous. Uncle Nic has been taking me all over the island. I’ve been reacquainting myself with the memories of my childhood when I spent a few summers here. So much has changed but so much is still the same. I spent the evening at my grandmother’s house, (she is no longer with us) and it was a little emotional because the last time I was here, she was still alive. I was amazed to see how much of our family history Uncle Nic knows, remembers and has preserved. I was even lucky enough to have him give me a few of our family relics: my great-grandmother’s favourite bowls, I think originally made of porcelain? Not quite sure but you can see its age in the relenting crevices of its surface. Wonderful and amazing. Sometimes it makes me sad that I don’t have anyone to pass it on to but I’m hoping that a few of my cousins may want to pass on our history to their kids one day.

Aah. The weather has been lovely, as far as I’m concerned. There have been really no beach jaunts and even though most of the days so far, have been grey, I’ve been quite content with the peek-a-boo game the sun has been playing. It’s still reasonably warm with a beautiful breeze – just perfect. As we speak, I am sitting on the grass with Less, the German Shepherd, and Blacky (not sure of his name still- he’s the black lab – should really try to find out) by my side. The birds continue to sing and chant and I feel better than I have in ages. This is just what I needed.

Forty-eight hours from now, I will be on a plane back to the real world. But I’m not going to think about it! So, for now I’m going to lie back and read the book that I brought and for the next two days I am going to continue enjoying the in-between-patient lunches with Uncle Nic and the endless hours of story-telling at the day’s end. Add a splash of his fun friends and all the funny shenanigans they crack with each other and it will cap off the funnest most restful vacation ever.

NG

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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“Blacky”

It’s late morning. Suitcase packed. Dressed and ready to go to the airport in a few hours. I just came in from enjoying a coffee while standing by the frog pond. With the reptiles conversing with song and birds chattering about, it’s tough to have to say good-bye for now. It’s been spitting rain all morning and even though it makes clothes end everything damp, I enjoyed being enchanted by mother nature. Less and Blacky are by my side and as I think how everything is perfect in the world, the sun peeks out and smiles down on me.

A beautiful end to a perfect week. And even with very little sleep I feel refreshed. Most nights were spent telling stories of the “old” days and funny anecdotes from Uncle Nic’s previous life experiences. But although refreshed, I find myself wishing I could stay just a few more days but real life is waiting for me on the other side of the ocean.

I hope I can get my songwriting juices going again I was hoping this trip would re-juice the creative flow. But even though I spent a few days on my own tinkering on Uncle Nic’s guitar, I felt nothing come to me.  I’m still not sure if I should be worried because it’s going to be almost a year since the last full song. I’ve written, “Red Light”. We’re now in the midst of mastering the recording of it.

Well, maybe once I get back to North American soil and have the chance to look back and ponder on this week in utopia, something will jump at me and give me the jolt of the inspiration I need. Guess only time will tell.

NG

Friday, June 22, 2012  –  The Return

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It’s funny how once you return to your real life, it almost feels like your time away didn’t really happen. Did I really experience all those wonderful trips and interactions? Or was it a dream? A figment of my imagination? I remember watching the city grow near as the plane continued its descent back into the city I had left behind only eight days earlier. Everything seems too flat, straight, boring. I’m a hopeless romantic and endless dreamer. Always have been. Because of that I get easily caught up in the romanticism of what’s out there. But I know once I get used to there, I will only wonder what’s back here. Human nature, I guess.

I am glad to reconnect with my amazing family of friends but I must admit, I was fighting pretty hard to hold back tears as I said good-bye to Uncle Nic. I actually think he might have been as well because he kept this hard smile on his face, always, like he was forcing himself not to get emotional. So sweet.

Once back here, I’d hope that I’d get a rush of songwriting ideas but … nothing. I’m going to try not to worry about it. We’ve gotten our EP mastered finally. Now we are onto working on the album art, which is exciting because we are slowly getting ourselves organized to do a photo shoot with some really cool ideas. We’re going for a very artistic approach. So we’ve got stuff on the go. It should keep us going until Fall when I’m hoping to have a final product to have available at shows. Perhaps in the interim of all this final “touch up” work, the creative juices will flow again and we can work towards our next recording.

Hmm…. the universe always seems to have a plan for me.

NG

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Summer Time

July 2, 2013

j1School is out and the summer has officially begun!  It’s a holiday today and everyone is out celebrating the Nation’s birthday with cottage trips, lake-side strolls and fireworks, of course. Where does the time go? (Can’t believe I’m starting to use phrases like that.) It’s incredible how you can think you’ve got all the time in the world and then suddenly realize there’s a gig just around the corner or you look through some of your old lyric pads and be shocked when you realize the date was from last year or older.

I was recently thumbing through an old notebook I carried around with me last summer, hoping to pick out any brilliant song ideas that were left cleverly, buried there. (insert snicker here.) And I came across the diary I kept when I traveled to the Azores. It was cool to read it a year later and remember what I experienced. I was still stuck with writer’s block back then and desperately trying to find my groove.  Thank goodness that’s passed – for now! Thought it might be fun to share, since I usually do with my travels.

So here it goes:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A very full first day in Sao Miguel. It’s been thirteen years since I last set foot on this island. I was just a kid. This island once so removed from my familiaritieIMG_0145s, now so removed from my memories of it. This place, this culture that used to stretch out its dirt roads to welcome you now presents its slick asphalt highway to get you from one end of the island to another. The main city now has its own doors (archways) to the city – or doors to the ocean depending on which side of them you are standing on.

7:20am the plane landed and it was a wonderful sight to see my favourite uncle, Nic, awaiting my arrival. Surprisingly a wave of emotion came over me as this is the first time I arrive here alone. It reminds me of the family that used to be here but is no longer as well as the family that didn’t come along this time.

It’s funny how our memories can keep our hopes and expectations frozen in another time – another era. But in reality everyone and everything moves forward. We arrive at uncle’s “garden estate” as I’ve decided to call it. Surprisingly, he no longer lives in my grandmother’s house (which is now his house but he has rented it out.) He now lives in a new property just outside of Ponta Delgada in a smaller township called Lagoa, which means lake.  And I call it his garden estate because it’s probably a full acre – if not more – of floral paradise. The long drive invites you up to the four bedroom homestead which I affectionately call “The Manor“.  All around are flowers and plants to a horticulturalist’s delight. Wild orchids, hydrangeas, hibiscus (the biggest I’ve ever seen), lemon trees, banana trees. A crop garden with rows of kale, garlic, tomatoes, exotic fruits like apple-melons (yet to try). And lastly an animal sanctuary where two geese roam free with their friends the chickens, a rooster, pigeons, rabbits, ducks, three pigs and a proper turkey to rule over them all. It’s like a mini version of Neverland Ranch without all the carnival rides!

Along the drive, when you look south, you are treated to breathtaking views of the Atlantic. On a clear day you can even see the next island over, Santa Maria. The air is fresh and swirls lightly in a welcoming embrace. The hillsides are lush and green. his man-made pIMG_1509ond full of frogs and lily pads bid you an inviting hello.

Home. There is an unspoken, settled feeling that I’ve come back home after so long.

After a neat breakfast and a brief tour, I promptly collapse onto the first bed I see and have a “nap” that will end up taking me seven and a half hours into the other side of heaven. I awake to uncle Nic’s friend AnaBela who is warm and charming despite her regular use of expletives. She instantly puts me at ease with her comedic ways and commentaries on frustrations of her day to day activities. With her, we take a quick trip into the city where new hotels now stand and a whole ocean front scene creating an Ocean Drive ambiance with an infinite row of open air restaurants lining the shore. It’s a new Sao Miguel I am seeing. Much more modern than the horse-back riding culture of when I was a child. The island always seemed to be a century behind the rest of the wIMG_1421orld but it’s clear to see that in the last two decades, the island is all caught up to 2012 with their internet cafes and ipad-toting intellectuals ordering cappuccino and downloading the latest Lady Gaga videos. This baby sister has finally joined the party of its older sibling, the main land.

We arrive back at midnight and proceed to do three hours of catching up, which always include Uncle Nic’s infinitesimal anecdotes that always leave you gaping or exploding with laughter. I’ve missed that. I’ve missed his story-telling, the sense of connection to my past, my grandmother, my family.

So at 3am we finally decide that we’ve got seven more days ahead to continue catching up.  And after biding each other good-night I am off to enjoy and much earned, full night’s slumber. Tomorrow will be another adventure, I am sure.

NG

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Day 67 – Acoustically Speaking

June 25, 2010

Today’s entry will be boring. Nothing about people getting naked. LOL!

Tonight I will be playing on my own at an acoustic gig. I won’t know if I’m nervous until I get there. I’ve always had the backup of other musicians to fall back on. And we’ve already established, I’m not the most confident in my guitar playing, although I’d like to think I am remarkably improving in comfort due to the fact that we are having regular rehearsals, still, with no guitar player. So off I go tonight to my friend’s gallery to play. I’ll be playing with another musician, Matt James, whom I’ve jammed with before and not only is he good but he’s a really cool guy. So at least it should be a good time with friends and a chance to practice with a live audience – whatever that may mean. It’s tough to get people out when it’s a Friday night in the Summer. People have cottages and boats they want to go to – or they’d rather just hang out on a patio somewhere instead.

There’s so much going on that many people have also fled town for the weekend due to the huge political conference going on. The President of the US among others is in town and the security detail they’ve got going on in the downtown core is just ridiculous. In any case, there’s that and there’s the FIFA World Cup tournament still going on. This afternoon, Little Portugal was ablaze again with flags and honking horns. Both Brazil and Portugal made it through to the next round. Italy‘s been eliminated early this year, which is very odd considering they were the returning champions. I know there are a lot of sour faces in Little Italy about that one. Get over it people. It’s a game – not life or death!

Anyhoo, I digress. So off I go to do my little acoustic set to perhaps one or two others. LOL

Well, wish me luck!

Nowhere Girl