**National Geographic in 2016 and USA Today just last week, both ranked Winnipeg, the Forks, and the Human Rights Museum, as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.**
I went for a long hike/jog this morning…started at the Forks walkway, up through the Forks, over the bridges, by the ballpark and then back home.
Listening to the music on my cell phone, I decided to take pix of the Forks…what a jewel we have right in the centre of our city.
© Chuck Duboff
“What a beautiful day!!” “Have you seen our new catcher Suarez?” “Look at all those pitchers out there!!” “What a great crowd today!” “Bergan just looks like a hitter” “Wow, have you seen number 56? That pitcher? He was with AAA in the Dodgers system.”
Just a few of the words, observations of Goldeyes fans as they got their first look at the 2017 edition of the Winnipeg Goldeyes. This may have been the best weather we’ve ever had for the opening of Training Camp and the Annual Open House. What a perfect day sitting and watching Goldeyes baseball under the beautiful sunshine.
I thought I’d let the pictures tell the story (with a special thanks to Josh Alan photography and Hank Lemoine for a few extra pictures besides the ones that i took)
Penguin Resorts in Falcon Lake…so very peaceful and beautiful. It has been my spring/summer escape back to nature for the past fifteen years. Waking up to loons singing amidst the fresh clean air, No garbage trucks at 4 in the morning, police and ambulance sirens non-existent, people yelling on the streets…not happenin; just a breathtakingly beautiful place to read, relax, hike and allow nature to recapture your soul. The owners, Irene and Ken, truly have invested not only their money, but have worked hard to make this resort a place where you feel welcome and are left not wanting anything. Enjoy the pictures which follow (if you have any questions about the resort, drop me a note and i can connect you with Irene.)
© Chuck Duboff
The response to my last blog on the dual personality of Cuba was astounding; the number of views and interesting commentary spoke to the unique place Cuba holds throughout the world. I really lost count of how many times I visited Cuba; I am certain it was more than ten…throughout those visits, I attempted to capture, what I believe was, the essence of what makes Cuba such a fascinating country. Enjoy these pix…I believe they present both sides of the ongoing debate about reality of Cuba. One thing is for certain…the Cuban people are warm and caring and are mere pawns in the hands of the Cuban government.
Cigar makers, baseball, artists, musicians, children playing and buggy rides…all a staple of Cuban life.
…and every where you go…Baseball, the life blood of Cuba.
© Chuck Duboff
My good friend Geoff Brookes, and his wife Laureen, are currently on a three week holiday in Italy. Geoff has been sending breathtaking pictures and this morning an e-mail arrived (of course Geoff has been asking for Jets updates…lol) Enjoy this blog written and photographed in Italy:
© Geoff Brookes
‘m in the outdoor seating at “Bar Focacceria Antonio”, in Monterosso Al Mare, on a peaceful Saturday morning. In the misty distance I can see rocky hills falling to the sea like folds in a roughly thrown blanket. In each fold is another town of the “Cinque Terre”, the five towns that dot this spectacular stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. I’m having my second cappuccino, but I will wait until Laureen wakes to sample the three kinds of Focaccia bread that I spied in the display case. (We brought our gluten-cutter pills for this reason). This is where they invented Focaccia bread – Liguria province.
Last night we had a feast of seafood at a wonderful restaurant, “Belvedere”. It is indeed a “beautiful view”, through an open window to the Mediterranean. With a fine local white wine made in neighbouring “Vernazza”, it’s a slice of heaven to sample, where earth, wind and sea wish each other “buonasera”.
Rome was spectacular. We had guided tours of the Pantheon, the Colliseum and the Forum, while we wandered through the Palatine hill on our own. We also had an excellent guide for the Vatican and St. Peter’s (thanks Trev!). We liked the guide for the Pantheon, but the guide for the forum seemed to evaluate the ruins based on how much was left standing for each of the hundreds of ruined structures for the “forum” and the palatine hill. The forum is actually a vast congregation of ruins from the valley that was the centre of Ancient Rome. The Palatine hill was the area where the aristocrats built their palaces, above the city centre, and technically beyond its city limits, as was required at that time.
There are amazing ancient buildings scattered everywhere throughout modern Rome, but when you walk through the large area of the coliseum, the forum and the palatine hill, you feel like you’re walking through time. There are enough fully preserved remnants that you feel like you can imagine them as they were 2,000 years ago.
This 5 square miles (my guess) controlled Europe and North Africa for parts of 1,000 years, long before plagues ravaged the population of Europe. Most importantly, the Romans provided continuity in culture, art and science from the Greeks (who played at least some role in the origins of Rome), and similar historical cultures before them. Unfortunately, this knowledge went underground for 1,000 years after the Roman Empire collapsed, until its “rebirth” in the Renaissance, in which the Italians played a leading role once again.
Enjoy the pictures!
© Jeff Miller
Life is short and can be taken from us, our the ones we love and cherish in the beat of heart. Like everyone else I have my good days and bad days, good years and bad years, days when you can’t wait to wake up and days when don’t want to wake up. The life style journey that I chose to embark on 9 months ago has been quite the ride I have gained new friends and lost old friends all because of the person I appear to be on the outside, there has been overwhelming support and questions about how I am living healthier and when I answer those questions openly on social media I am viewed by others as bragging or shunning them this couldn’t be further from the truth, I have spent many years living a self destructive life and I am one of the lucky ones to be able to still change before irreversible damage was done. I am very aware of the fact that there are lots of people out there that would love to change their lifestyle but it’s not in the cards for them and it’s not because of a lack of trying we just have to make the best of what we are dealt with. Part of my transformation was to appreciate life, to be less concerned about things I possess and more of the beauty that is around me. I am only 9 months into this journey and their are lots of people cheering for my success and others cheering for me to fail and be miserable. I have no clue how this journey will end but I can only hope my that on my lowest days when I want to give up that I can lean on my support team. I make no apologies for photos that I post of myself past or present I choose to use them to motivate myself only and my main reason for writing this is so when the days or years come that I want to give up I can look back at the post and hopefully it will inspire me to follow the right path again. Enjoying the best days of my life and I hope this inspires you to enjoy your days the best way you know how.
© Chuck Duboff
It’s game night, and by 5:30 fans are already lining up for a 7:00 PM game. While Goldeyes fans socialize and eagerly wait to be let in at 6:00 PM, there is lots going on inside the ballpark. Goldeyes staff are sweeping up to present a clean ball park, food is being brought in and getting ready to be served to hungry fans, the base lines are being marked out, the teams get on the field for stretching and batting practice, upbeat music keeps everyone smiling, both teams managers contemplate the game in front of them…and as the time gets closer to 6:00 PM, the movement throughout the ballpark is quite hectic. As fans, we rarely get the chance to see what goes on earlier in the afternoon…I was given this opportunity, by Andrew Collier and the Goldeyes, to go in around 5:00 PM and get a feel for all the hustle and bustle going on . Enjoy these pictures…they provide a good feel for all the preparations going on in the ballpark.
© Chuck Duboff
It’s difficult to write about two sports icons who shaped our child hoods. “Down goes Frazier”; “There’s another Howe goal, assist and fight!!” “Cassius Clay manhandles Sonny Liston!!” “It’s Gordie Howe and the Houston Aeros at the Winnipeg Arena to play Bobby Hull and the Winnipeg Jets!!” “Chuvalo goes 15 rounds with Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens!!” Gordie Howe stops by at Rae and Jerry’s and wishes my parents a Happy Anniversary.
They were the best in an era when our sports heroes were bigger than life. Yet, off the field of play, they were great men, who took the time to make this world a better place. Ali grew up as Cassius Clay, but changed his name to Muhammed Ali when he converted to Muslim. He was recognizable throughout the world in his efforts to bring happiness and peace to all. I dare say that Ali, a Muslim, brought more peace and love to this world than a bigoted Donald Trump ever will.
I remember Gordie Howe playing for the Detroit Red Wings and his elbows and grit on display when he played Johnny Bower and my Toronto Maple Leafs. He was awe inspiring and dominated the play when he was on the ice. When he moved to the WHA, being able to see both Gordie and Bobby on the ice at the Winnipeg Arena seemed like a dream come true.
It’s hard to say good bye to our sports heroes. Unlike a certain writer for the Winnipeg Free Press, I would suggest that both Ali and Howe were sports heroes:
Miriam Webster dictionary defines hero as: “a person who is greatly admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.”
Muhammed Ali, in his actions, brought peace and love to all those who were fortunate to meet him; Gordie Howe, quite simply, was a good soul, a man who cared about others and brought smiles to all those whose presence he graced.
© Chuck Duboff
The May long weekend will see me heading out to Penguin Resorts in Falcon Lake; this has been my little piece of heaven on Earth for the past 15 years.
To give you a sense of how wonderful it is out there, I am going to be blogging during the five days I am out there; hope you enjoy my sharing with you what is a very special place for me.
I always looked forward to the Calder and District Board of Trade Sports day which usually occurred in the early part of June. It was a day filled with excitement and it was a day away from the usual routine of the farm.
The Sports Day was held south of the CNR tracks on the Calder Sports Grounds, a field which was fenced off from the surrounding area. The grounds had 3 ball diamonds on it. Two were for baseball, or hardball, and one was for fastball, or softball, as they were respectively called back then. Baseball was played by the men and softball was reserved for the women because “it was a gentler sport for the gentler and fairer sex”.
Entry to the grounds was by general admission. For youths it was a quarter and for adults it was half a buck. You received a ribbon which was pinned onto your shirt or jacket to show that you had paid and had not sneaked in over or under the woven wire fence. You could leave the grounds but you needed to have your hand stamped for readmission so that ribbons were not handed off to other people for using to gain admission by those who were leaving.
The calibre of the baseball teams that paid an entrance fee depended on the size of the prizes. The larger the winnings, the better the teams that were attracted. At the larger centres’ Sports Days, purses were often in the amount of a $1000 for first. Calder’s prizes for the baseball portion back then were more in the line of $100 to $200 for first, $75 for second, $50 for third, and $25 for fourth. Teams were guaranteed at least two games. In the softball portion, the prizes, like wages for women were also considerably less. Most of the women’s teams were pickup teams from the area and from surrounding towns. Their entry fee was about $5 a team and first prize was about $25. They were usually guaranteed only one game.
The men’s games were played on the two baseball diamonds. The main baseball diamond was carefully manicured in the days before the tournament. It also had small grandstand that stretched from first base, around home to third base. The stands had bench seating and were about 8 rows high. Games in front of the grandstand were usually between the higher seeded teams. As well, the semi-finals and finals were played here. When the grandstand was filled, as it often was at sports days, fans would also sit on the grass along the foul lines. Every inning or so the base umpires would move the fans back about 2 metres from the line so that they wouldn’t interfere in a ball’s progress. As well fans had to scatter when a fall ball was hit sharply along the ground or when a player came in search of a foul pop-up.
Cars were parked along the fences or in an area away from the field if they didn’t want their cars to be hit by stray foul balls. Many a person who chose close-to-the-field parking ended up with a dent in the roof of the car from pop fouls that cleared the high wire mesh fences that surrounded the infield area. Occasionally an unlucky family would come back to their car to find that the windshield had been shattered by a direct hit from a foul ball. Foul balls provide a source of income for groups of teens wearing baseball gloves who competed with each other to retrieve the foul balls and turn them in for a ten cent reward. This was good money in the days when soda pop, or soft drinks as they were called then, were only a dime, hot dogs were fifteen cents, and an ice cream cone was ten cents. These prices were from the 50’s and they had inflated by a 100% from the 40’s.
The previously mentioned foods were bought at a booth from town residents who were volunteering their labor for the day. Salted sunflower seeds were in big demand and one could always tell the size of the crowd the next day by the amount of sunflower seed shells lying on the ground. Chocolate bars cost a dime, and, if you were lucky and Texas watermelons were available, you could buy a nice thick slice of ice-cold watermelon for a dime. There was many a war waged between young boys with pieces of watermelon rind.
People would sit and watch the games and cheer on their favorite teams. Everyone especially liked to cheer against the teams from larger centres who often came in with a superior attitude. They thought they would show these “hayseeds” or “bumpkins’ how baseball was really played in the city. More often than not, they ran into some very talented “farmboys” who sent them home on the short end of the score at the end of the game.
For the children and for those adults who weren’t embarrassed at being seen in taking part, there were races and contests of many types. Prizes were usually monetary – fifteen cents for first, a dime for second, and a nickel for a third place finish. There were tug-of-war contests and horseshoe pitching competitions. Calder’s Sports Day was too small to qualify, but the larger towns and small cities hosting a Sports Day would often have a midway show as well.
As at games played in front of large crowds today, there were the ever present “hecklers” who would shout out their “witty sayings” at ball players they had selected for whatever reason to be their targets. If these hecklers were truly funny, they were fun to listen to. However some were just mean-spirited, and even though the targets of their barbs were players of the “hated” opposing team, most home-town fans knew when the rules of proper conduct had been broken and would not encourage these baiters. Occasionally after a player had been the target of their barbs all game and could take it no more, there would be a confrontation and punches would be exchanged. Usually though, the players on opposing teams knew this was their fate as the visiting team and good-naturedly took the ribbing. The odd player gave back as good as he got and this was often enough to shut a heckler up. Occasionally the banter between the hecklers and the heckled was better than even the ball game being played.
The calibre of the baseball that was played at this sports day and others like it was very good. In the days before television, young men played baseball as a form of entertainment from the time they were old enough to understand the game. As they got older, they got better at it and smarter. There was much baseball savvy out there as well as excellent physical skills. Each town had their hometown heroes.
In the United States, Afro-Americans were not allowed to play in the American or National Baseball Leagues because of a color barrier. So they formed teams of their own and leagues of their own, the Negro American League and the Negro National League. The National League folded in 1948. The Negro American league folded at the end of 1951, when full integration of black players into the previously white American and National Leagues took place. First a trickle and then a flood of players signed with Major League Baseball teams. Most signed minor league contracts and many languished, shuttled from one bush league team to another, despite their success at previous high levels. Those that were either too old or had become disenchanted with their failure to rise from the minor leagues headed to Canada. Here they were signed by teams who played in the larger centres. They received a salary for the season and many of them held jobs. As well, most were integrated into the white communities and many did not go back to the States when their playing days were over.
Our young men often played against these teams with their stacked rosters and they held their own. Their calibre of play stood the test. Some of these farm boys were good enough to play in the majors but they did not have any scouts to notice them. Occasionally some went to tryout camps on the States and signed minor league contracts. Yes, the calibre of baseball at these Sports Days was good.
After the games were over, most adults attended a dance at the local hall where a notable band had been hired by the local Board of Trade to provide the music. Admission often include a lunch provided by the Board of Trade who had sponsored the Sports Day. The hotel in town did a booming business as did the stores which stayed open late for the crowds of visitors. If the Sports Day was well-run, had a good supply of volunteers, and the weather co-operated, then the Board of Trade would be able to add a substantial amount of money into the general income which was to the benefit of the town and its citizens and to those people from the surrounding farms who did their shopping in the town.
Sports Days are a thing of the past. There are still tournaments that occur, but in almost all cases the game being played for cash prizes is fastball, what the old-timers in their day referred to as softball, or in some extreme cases, “baseball for sissies”!
@Chuck Duboff & Geoff Brookes.
Our past four blogs have garnered over 1500 views, which is something we are very proud of. We are pleased that our wide variety of topics is reaching such a vast audience. The blog on Roscoe, drew much emotional response from Winnipeg readers; the blog on the possible return of the Quebec Nordiques hit a record number of views, with most of them coming from friends, colleagues and fellow bloggers in Quebec. Yesterday’s blog on the Winnipeg Goldeyes brought responses from all over North America…from former players, coaches and fans who have had great experiences being a part of the Goldeyes family. Our good friend Al has been kind enough to share his Guadalajara Diary,and this too has received a great deal of interest.
We thought today we would post these four blogs for You to choose from…enjoy the reading and thank you for the continues support:
It is so easy to get caught up in life, to forget about those people who are important in our lives. Given today’s technology and fast paced lives…our loved ones are often neglected.
Life will find a way to remind us about what should be our priorities in life. Walking the beaches of Isla Mujeros several years ago while living and teaching in Cancun, I was listening to Neil Young’s Down by the River, over and over and over. I was basking in the beautiful Caribbean, the hot sun and soft, white sand…suddenly, something inside me was reminded about what was important…I had just spent the past six months living and teaching in Cancun, it was heaven sent. Yet, that afternoon while walking on those beaches, I was reminded about what is important…Carly, Matthew, Chris, Laine, Ben, Mom, family and friends, back home in Winnipeg. I had planned on returning to Cancun for another year of teaching in paradise. At that very moment I made the decision that I had to return home and be with those people who are truly important. I have not regretted that decision, even once.
I can relate to this picture in so many different ways…but, the overlying theme is this: those who are important in our lives must not be forgotten about. Their age may slow them down physically, their minds may start to go, but their love for you will always be there. Don’t take it for granted; my dad and I were Archie Bunker and Meathead…we fought about everything except baseball…he went to sleep one night and never woke up. Much like the gentleman in this picture, my dad wanted nothing more than just a “hi dad” or a talk about baseball.
You may have had disagreements with those you love, you may feel like a failure in their eyes, you may be too busy…BUT, for them, all they want is for you to know they love you.
I know several people who will read this and tears will be shed…we all have lessons to learn; make sure you don’t repeat the mistakes you’ve made…make time for those people who truly are the important ones in your life.
© Chuck Duboff
Thank you Puerto Vallarta, these past two weeks have been absolutely wonderful.
I have traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean…Veradero, Holguin and Havana, Cuba, at least 11 times. I have had holidays in Cancun several times and enjoyed the beauty of Playa del Carmen at least five times. Additionally, I was blessed with the opportunity of teaching Grade 12 English and Drama in Cancun; this truly was a once in a lifetime experience.
When I went to book my winter holiday this year, my travel agent strongly encouraged me to give Puerto Vallarta a try; I had always been hesitant, for some unknown reason, but this time I followed her advice and booked two weeks at the Canto del Sol in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
I am having a hard time putting into words how magnificent these past two weeks in PV have been. The weather has been absolutely perfect; 14 straight days of brilliant sunshine and hot temperatures…the sun lover in me couldn’t have asked for anything better. Being a prairie boy, the Sierra Madre mountains were awe inspiring. Running the beaches every morning, the sight of the majestic mountains kept me so incredibly motivated. The grand Pacific Ocean was mesmerizing; I could sit and watch it for hours on end. The power of the oncoming waves was incredible…they looked like giant turbines gathering force and then a monster throwing out its tentacles as it hit land. Walking to the downtown area was wonderful…so much to see: from the bright coloured items in the little shops, to the warm caring Mexican people, to the interesting architecture, the restaurants and great food, this all brought you to the downtown area, which reminded me a lot of 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen.
This picture really captures what I am feeling about PV; my smile displays a very authentic joy…the gentleman, George, was very friendly and in no way pushed anything on me. The hot sand, brilliant sunshine, colourful beaches, breath taking mountains, swaying palm trees, never ending Pacific Ocean…it’s all right there. It inspired me, got into my soul…
It brought about a level of writing which I haven’t experienced before; if you have a moment, go back and read the great adventure I had walking through hot pebbles and rocks; check out the poem I wrote about the lady I encountered several times on my walks. I think you too will agree that that is some pretty good writing.
Thank you Puerto Vallarta; you got into my soul and brought out the authentic me. For those reading this, who have never been to PV…put it at the top of your list of places in the Caribbean to visit…I promise, you won’t regret it.