…let no man break asunder.

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

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

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Travel with caution, lose gravel ahead.

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

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

Sunset sailing
Sailing. A new horizon beckons.

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

I wrote more details in a previous blog. New Beginnings

Partners

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Way back When……….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analog

The end of a perfect day.

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When you come to the end of a perfect day,
And you sit alone with your thought,
While the chimes ring out with a carol gay
For the joy that the day has brought,
Do you think what the end of a perfect day
Can mean to a tired heart,
When the sun goes down with a flaming ray,
And the dear friends have to part?

Well, this is the end of a perfect day,
Near the end of a journey, too;
But it leaves a thought that is big and strong,
With a wish that is kind and true.
For mem’ry has painted this perfect day
With colors that never fade,
And we find at the end of a perfect day
The soul of a friend we’ve made.

Carrie Jacobs-Bond

RUNNING AWAY – just not very far.

Just what are the thoughts that invade a 10 year old’s mind to lure him into running away? There are probably a number of them, but I am going to go with adventure and maybe a chance to escape. Funny how the adults in this saga did not view it in the same light, as you will soon see.

I can’t remember if there was any great plotting or scheming that proceeded this adventure, it just seemed to grow. Sometimes a simple plan is the best; or is it?

My small village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec had a number of things that allowed it to stand out as different from others in the area. There was the usual collection of homes scattered over a rolling topography and a river that wound it’s way through the lower side. And it was this river that acted as a source of power for our two sawmills. Other than a post office/gas station, general store and several churches, there was no other claim to fame. But I digress. Not many places to run to, or from. But for a ten year old boy, an only child, that fact didn’t really play into it. The assignment I was given was pretty straight forward. Go to Albert and Doris’s general store and get a box of cereal. Across the river, past the Catholic church, and next to Whiteman’s farm. Fifteen minutes out and fifteen back. Oh, and buy yourself a pop – orange crush, 7 cents. As I said, simple and straight forward. Any similarities between what was expected and what went down…

As you will soon see, the way back bore no similarities to the getting there. Rather than going up the hill past the Catholic church, it was possible to cut through Whiteman’s farm behind the church. This was where the plan started to take shape. Also behind the church was an old and unused gravel pit which gave one access to high ground. Climbing up the side of the pit through the tall grass I soon found myself at the top and on the edge of the pit. Laying down in the grass I had a commanding view of the lower end of town, but could not be seen. I was lord of the hill! Invincible and in charge.

Now what to do. Remember, this plan was not well thought out. Even to this day, 62 years later, I do not know what possessed me to do this. In the child/parent dynamic, this is not a smart thing for a 10 year old to do. Not if you wanted to maintain your fine standing on the family totem pole. And now that I am in a position to think about it, maybe therein lies the driving force to my ill conceived adventure. So, what dark emotions/fears were rumbling away in my subconscious that thrust me into the dark side?

I feel at this point in my story, I must touch on the make-up of my dysfunctional family. Aside from me, there were four others in the family all from my maternal side. My Grandmother, whom I adored; her husband, who I hardly knew, as he was away a lot; their son, my uncle, who tried to be my father figure, but did not really get there, at least in my mind; and finally my Mother.

Divorced 3 years after I was born, not a new man in her life, and generally very distrustful of males, the victim of a number of illnesses, always feeling that she never received her fair quota of affection and fairness, she grew into an angry, forceful and bitter women. I guess in my eyes this inhibited her from contributing to a stable, loving, close and fair family dynamic. She also, was away a lot, working in Montreal. In short, my Grandmother became my mentor, hero and protector.The woman in my life that I would run to, to mend all of my ills. The disciplinarian in the family was, by default, my Mother. Her instruments for meting out punishment when I was “bad” were a hand, belt or a switch.

Knowing this fact was not lost on me as I lay concealed in the tall grass. As it was I was past the point of no return as far as my allotted time was concerned. And yet I did not try to make up for lost time and rush home. Was I, at the tender age of ten starting to rebel; to stage a challenge knowing full well what the outcome would be? Would my Grandmother protect me?

I think I layed there for a while longer content in my relatively secure position. I do remember seeing my uncle driving up the road but thought little of it. From my vantage point I could see traffic in all directions, and noticed that he drove over to the general store, came right back out and headed back to the house, only to come right out and started to drive slowly up the road, stopping at several homes along the way. I think I figured at this time that my jig was up.Sneaking home undetected was going to required some planning on my part.

The road was the easy way, but I would have been to easily discovered. My other option was through the fields and across the river. As it was the middle of summer, the river was at it’s lowest point of the season and there were enough rocks above water to allow me to leap from one to the other to access the other side. Simple enough, but even simple plans have a way of becoming unraveled. Those rocks were my undoing. They were there alright; wet, slippery and not evenly spaced. To make a short story even shorter, I got wet. And oh, that box of cereal, let’s just say that I hope the fish liked Rice Crispees. The rest of the treck home was uneventful until I tried to sneak in through the shed entrance.

My uncle was still out looking for me so my Mother and Grandmother were my welcoming committee.  In my home there existed a pecking order for meting out discipline. When my Mother was home, all others took a back seat. My Mother was never one to use words to justify situations like I found myself in now. Punishment was arrived at without any preamble or discussion on my part, even if I felt the level of discipline did not necessarily fit the crime. Plea bargaining was not an option. The instrument of punishment was arrived at quickly and without allowing for any discussion or defence – a switch. And to add a level of pain, I had to cut it from the nearest alder bush.

Usually a hand or belt was all that was needed, but this was a crime of the highest order in my Mother’s mind. In my own I knew that I would be punished at the extreme level. I knew that even as I ventured fourth. Was I taunting her or just testing my own mettle? Analysing her choice of weapons was not on my mind at that moment. Would I now as a father do the same to any of my children? No. My Mother had over the years since her divorce turned into a bitter and angry person. Looking back now, I really believe she hated herself for that, and by beating me she was possibly purging herself of some of that pain.

The welts on my back did of course heal and fade; The memory, not as easily justified. Many years later I was able to forgive, but I have never forgotten. Did the punishment fit the crime? The answer to that I will leave up to you, dear reader.

 

Adventure