Bon voyage

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Well we will be on this new ship in just a few days, departing from Amsterdam and going to Norway, the theme of our cruise is Norse Legends.

Looking forward to it all, especially the scotch bar NOTES, the French Restaurant SEL DE MER and the DUTCH Café, all looks inviting. Lots to enjoy! Ciao.

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As we come to the end of August

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In PEI after Old Home Week 15 August, the last week of August feels like the end of the tourist Season, families disappear over night replaced by older couples with no kids. Motel and camp grounds empty and you know that as of 1 September tourist spots and restaurants catering to them will start to close. We will still have Cruise ship traffic until November but there will be less to do for the tourists.

The PEI Tourism Board has tried to lenghten the Season into a shoulder Season at least until mid-December but that is very difficult, the merchants are not interested for the most part. They made their money and now they move to Florida for the next six months. In the Spring we would benefit from early opening of tourist restaurants and bars around 15 April because the first Cruise ships do arrive on 1 May. But no, that again is difficult to do, many businesses open around 1 June, this makes for a very short Season.

Despite promising myself I would go to the beach this Summer we never went, until 15 July the weather was cold and miserable and then it became hot and unpleasant. We are both busy with volunteer work and one thing after another and we stayed in town.

We did go to Rustico to the Watermark theatre and discovered a new restaurant with very good food owned by a Portuguese couple. We also attended our friend S.D. Summer party in New Glasgow which is always fun. We went to Victoria by the Sea to see our friend J.D. at his antique shop. The Landmark Café has a new owner and it is great food and service as always. There were some other social engagements but other than that not much really.

On Monday we travel to catch a flight to Amsterdam which will make for a complete change of venue. Our friend B.P. is coming from Ottawa to babysit the puppies.

In the meantime here are some photos of our Old Home Week parade which is such a tradition here in Charlottetown in August.

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The Royal Canadian Navy from HMCS Charlottetown

IMG_4995.jpgLots of ACADIAN flags since the World Congress was taking place in August.  Looks like the flag of France but it has a Yellow Star on it.

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The Lieutenant Governor of PEI with her Aide de Camp in the carriage.

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The Belfast PEI, Bag pipes, they practice in the park across the street from our home. Nice group.

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The Canadian Army PEI Regiment with their regimental flag (Black and yellow)

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The float of the Mayor and City Councillors in a canoe no less.

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The Royal Canadian Air Force Band

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The Mi’kmaq of Abegweit (AKA PEI)

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And the best band of the parade bar none, a group of music teachers and professional musicians including the Green Party Leader, who is also leader of the Official Opposition in the PEI Legislature plays the trumpet, talk of versatile politician. This group is known for its zany costumes, always a big hit with the crowd.

 

Dresden, Potsdam and other cities

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What is very interesting from an architectural point of view in Germany today and since re-unification in 1989 is the amount of reconstruction in various cities in what was once East Germany also known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR) under communist rule. From 1946 to 1989 the Communist government of the GDR did very little to preserve and protect historical monuments, palaces and the architecture of Germany prior to 1939. In many cases like the city of Leipzig in Saxony, where Bach spent most of his life working and where he is buried in the famous St-Thomas Church, the Communist authorities rebuilt the city in modern realist style and simply destroying buildings they did not like because they belonged to a part of history they simply wanted to erase.

Cities like Dresden the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony which was fire bombed by the Allies twice on 14 and 15 February 1945 and totally destroyed was not rebuilt but left in ruins, some modern buildings were built by the authorities but are ugly and soulless. Potsdam the Capital of Royal Prussia and the State of Brandenburg was equally re-modelled and rebuilt with little care for history. It is as if for the communists the past had no meaning or they had no past, only a future along a Soviet vision of the world.

We visited Dresden several times in the last 25 years and each time to our astonishment we saw more and more building resurrected, the Federal Government of Germany in an elaborate program sought to rebuild the historical past in an effort to reunify the country and its people and recreate a Germany dating to a time prior to the horrors of the Nazi dictatorship.

Here are some photos of Dresden taken in the last 12 months.

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The old historical centre with its art museum and academy, we walked in this area along the river Elba.

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On the left of the picture the 93 meter high dome of the Frauenkirchen (Lutheran Cathedral) and on the right the distinctive lemon grate glass dome of the Art academy with its gold leaf angel of victory.   All of these buildings had to be rebuilt in some case from scratch only rubble was left in 1945. The art collection in Dresden including the celebrated Meissen Porcelain collection is well worth the visit.

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This famous panorama was painted by Canaletto in the 18th century

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However inside the building you will find this look of undressed and stark reminder of the destruction of war. It is done deliberately so that people will not forget what was lost.

Some buildings were more protected from the war and the February 1945 fire bombing like the treasury rooms of the Royal Palace because the windows had steel shutters. But that was not the case for other buildings all around.

The rebuilding of the Old city of Dresden has been extensive and I often wonder if the memory of what happened is not somewhat erased by this re-birth of all the old buildings including the street scapes.

Dresden was the capital of the princely Wettin family who are relatives of the British royals, the family name Wettin was considered by the British government in 1917 when it was suggested to King George V that he change the German family name of Saxe-Cobourg Gotha to Wettin, in the end the name Windsor was chosen  to hide the german origins of the British royals. Dresden is also linked to the French King Louis XVI whose mother was Maria-Josepha of Saxony. Louis spoke fluent German something that is not widely known.

Potsdam which is a suburb of Berlin in Brandenburg was the royal capital of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The city had many canals and was extensively built by the Kings of Prussia in an elegant baroque and rococo Italianate style. A city of palaces and gardens but also of military monuments. Under King Frederick Wilhelm I, it became known for its garrison of soldiers, his son Frederick II the Great continued this tradition but also favoured the arts and progressive policies like general education for all and the abolition of the death penalty.

I visited Potsdan several times in the last 22 years. Currently the Garnison Church is being rebuilt with funds from the private sector and the Lutheran Church.

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City Palace Potsdam rebuilt today as the seat of the Parliament of Brandenburg

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The GarnisonKirche of Potsdam as it will look in a few years with its tower at 57 meters in height.

Potsdam has seen enormous rehabilitation work in the last 20 years and the old communist era buildings are being demolished and replaced by historical buildings brought back from oblivion. Including street scapes and gardens from the 18th century. Work that will require many more years to complete, employing an army of stone cutters, artists, painters, historians and archivists. In all cases voluminous archives of paintings and drawings, architectural design of the time and photography help in the re-building effort.

Berlin is another example of massive re-creation of the city as it was before 1930 and more along the lines of the 18th century in the age of enlightenment. Mixed in new modern buildings that blend in but also offer a contrast to the older architecture.

In the case of Berlin entire neighbourhoods and city squares have been rebuilt in what was the Eastern Sector of the City, in some cases street lighting of the 1920’s was re-created to replace the communist rusting lamplights made of aluminium. The wall is gone, don’t go look for it, and small touristic sections are left but are a poor reminder looking insignificant. In Berlin the City Council, the Government of Brandenburg and the Federal Government with the Parliament have all worked together to remake the image of Berlin as a unified city, dedicated to the ideals of the 18th and 19th century like the Humboldt brothers, Wilhelm and Alexander, proponents of Liberal Classicism ideals.

 

 

 

 

 

19 August, 14 C.E.

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On this day some 2005 years ago, Gaius Octavian Augustus aged 75 died in Nola, Italy.

He was the first Emperor of Rome, nephew of Julius Cesar. Augustus legacy to the Western World is important and he has become immortal in our memory. In Rome, you can visit his Mausoleum by the river Tiber and next to it the famous Ara Pacis (Altar of the Augustan Peace) where inscribed in marble on the wall is the text in Latin of the Res Gestae. The text consists of a short introduction, 35 body paragraphs, and a posthumous addendum. These paragraphs are conventionally grouped in four sections, political career, public benefactions, military accomplishments and a political statement.

His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective leaders in human history. He was born on the Palatine Hill in Rome in 27 B.C.E. and reigned for more than 40 years.

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The original statue of Augustus of Prima Porta made posthumously for his widow Livia Drusilla and placed in the garden of her villa at Prima Porta where she retired after his death. Like all official statues in Rome it was made of marble and painted in life like colours.

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As it appears today in the Vatican Museum. Augustus is barefoot, meaning that this is a posthumous portrait. The small Eros is the child of Venus, the House of the Julio-Claudian claimed to be descendants of Venus and in turn of Aeneas. The statue is life sized and is full of political ideology which in Rome was ever present. The public could interpret the message of what Augustus claimed he stood for. One message is a return to Greek antiquity, the golden age of Pericles 500 B.C.E., the Athenian republic.  We see a youthful and athletic Augustus, it’s model was the Doryphoros by Polykleitos. Another is a military commander and Augustus divinity in death.

 

Gold Cup and Saucer Parade day

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On 15 August 2019 we celebrate the 135 th Anniversary of the Acadian People celebrated at the World Congress right here in L’Acadie known today as the Maritimes. The flag is based on the colours of France with a yellow Star symbol of the Virgin Mary patron of the Acadian people (Stella Maris). Thousands of Acadians were violently deported by the British in 1755 from what is today the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. An act of ethnic genocide on a people who lived peacefully and did not want to get involved in Imperial wars between Britain and France.

But the Acadians came back, the World congress celebrates their presence today in Canada. Here in PEI we are having an Island wide cultural festival with many Acadian Artists.

 

At the request of many I am publishing here the recipe for Canada’s Official Cocktail, the Bloody Cesar.

DID YOU KNOW

To commemorate the inauguration of an Italian restaurant in 1964, Calgary bartender Walter Chell created Bloody Caesar. Chell took his inspiration from the Bloody Mary, but added clam juice to the mix, he spent a few weeks crushing some of these molluscs, until he managed to achieve the perfect balance with the tomato juice. More Bloody Caesars are sold in Canada than any other cocktail. A wonderful picker-upper in the morning.

INGREDIENTS

45 ml (1 1/2 oz.) vodka
120 ml (4 oz.) Motts Clamato juice
5 ml (1 tsp.) Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of red Tabasco sauce
1 lemon wedge
Celery salt
Ice cubes
Salt and pepper
A fresh sprig of Celery

DIRECTIONS

Frost the rim of a highball glass containing a few ice cubes with the lemon and celery salt.
Add all the ingredients.
Stir using a mixing spoon.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with a fresh sprig of celery.

Canada’s drink. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Ferragosto

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Ferragosto 2019 is upon us, in Charlottetown it’s Old Home Week with harness racing and parades, my neighbour already reminded us to not forget to come over for a stiff drink usually a Bloody Cesar, Canada’s Official Cocktail and food at 10am an old island tradition, no one misses the parade. It will be our fourth, yes 4 years already on the Island, time flies. This is also the peak or height of tourist season and signals also the end of the Season, after 16 August suddenly tourists vanish.

In Italy Ferragosto is the beginning of the Summer vacation for everyone, I mean everyone. It is pretty much the same in other European countries. Time to pack up and leave the cities for the beach, the mountains, the countryside. Leave the towns to the tourists. Everything shuts down and if you decide to stay in town better plan ahead because shopping is restricted and difficult to manage. ATMs machines run out of cash and gas stations are only open for a few hours if at all.

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For us it was the best of time of the year, we would travel to Le Marche region on the Adriatic for spectacular towns, food, wine and festivals. A relax quiet time by the seaside and evenings at the opera.

We would stay in Pesaro, visit Rimini and Urbino a few minutes away.

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Since Seafood is important on PEI, it is equally important in Pesaro and our favorite restaurant was Ristorante Bristolino “Lorenzo e Bibo” which use to be on the sea front at the Bristol hotel. However in 2015 it closed and just re-opened to the delight of its many fans on Via Mazzolari 54 in the centre of the city. Incredible quality of seafood and dishes so well prepared and presented with flair. So happy to see them back in action. Will wrote about this restaurant and so did I in my blog.

We came of course to Pesaro for the yearly Opera Festival to its most famous son, Gioachino  Rossini. We would drive from Rome on excellent Italian roads through scenic and dramatic at times, mountain views.

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City centre park, Piazzale della Liberta, the Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro has left his golden sphere monuments all over the world. One of them has become the symbol of Pesaro in Le Marche. Tell any person from Pesaro that you’ll meet them at ‘la palla di Pomodoro’, and they instantly know where to go.

Wishing everyone a Felice Ferragosto!

 

Another what I am reading

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With Summer you always get reviews about what to read at the beach or the lake. Usually recommendations will be mostly about bestsellers, some topics will be light and easy, self-help books, novels, maybe some detective stories or a biography.

I find it difficult to read at the beach because the sea is more interesting than a book, any book. Walking on the beach is also for me therapeutic, so why sit down and read?

At the cottage or the lake, never did go much to the cottage as kids, I only remember 2 Summers at a rented cottage but we did mostly fishing and on rainy days some water colour painting, no reading.

Again what I read is a mish mash of authors and topics, whatever strikes my fancy. I usually hear about a book, go to Amazon.ca to have a look, read up about it and read the reviews, though they do not influence me much. I can also go to the bookstore and look around what they have. A nice hobby on how to spend a couple of hours browsing for books. I may buy or not buy something.

When on a trip I will take my kindle with me, easy to handle and light weight. You can take it everywhere with you.

The other day I was in my favourite coffee shop when I noticed a big hard cover book on the window ledge by my table, just sitting there, forgotten or abandoned, I picked it up to see that it was Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant. Will and Ariel Durant were about 35 years ago famous authors, historians and philosophers in the scholarly academic section of book writers. They wrote the 11 volume History of Civilization between 1935-1975. I think it was required reading in some universities. They were certainly celebrated as a couple. I was surprise to see the book and I had completely forgotten about them. Will Durant died in 1981 at the age of 96. Many said then that he and Ariel were historians who had changed our understanding of history.

I also picked up other books recently David Crystal, A little book of Language which is light fare in understanding how we think about languages in general from baby talk to slang, to meanings of words and expressions, to many other languages and how they are constructed and how cultures and people think differently and this is illustrated in their own language.

Another one I have read is Nigel Warburton, A little history of philosophy. He gives a short description of various philosophers and their own philosophy, how they came to develop their world view and he covers about 40 of them from the ancient to the modern. This is a good little book for someone who never studied in school philosophy as a topic. I remember my classes in philosophy and our teachers who appeared to us so learned, I had two who would tell jokes in ancient Greek and Latin. Of course the majority of the students in the class did not understand and so they would invite us to translate them to find the meaning. Some of the books we read then were heavy going like the ones on Logic and thought process.

Recently I was reading how Millennials had angst about not wanting to make mistakes in their choices in life, leading to some kind of paralysis. I thought have they read Soren Kierkegaard? Some 50 years ago young people had the same anxiety, nothing new. He was with Jean-Paul Sartre on Existentialism, a popular author to help people understand the world after 1945.

With the crisis of Climate change I would think that Existentialism is going to make a comeback.

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I also stumbled upon the Biography of Alex B. Campbell, Premier of PEI from 1966-1978, he was the youngest at 32 to be elected Provincial Premier in Canada and saw during his tenure massive changes in PEI. He is 85 years old now and lives in Stanley Bridge, PEI.

I also got a book by Rawi Hage, Lebanese Born Canadian living in Montreal who has won many literary awards. This recent book also shortlisted for many awards is Beirut Hellfire Society.  I always enjoy reading about the Middle-East where I spent so much time of my working life. The stories remind me of those days and my travel in the region. A place I always found fascinating for its politics, culture and antiquity.

Beirut Hellfire Society begins in 1978 with Pavlov, the son of an undertaker who inherits his father’s business and his membership in the eponymous group, a secretive, pagan-like sect that reveres fire, cremates the dead, and is accommodating to those who have been shunned for reasons such as homosexuality and atheism. Pavlov defies social norms, like the famed cynic Diogenes, whom he resembles (and makes explicit mention of in the text). The book follows Pavlov closely as he picks up the remains of bodies, caring for dogs (a species he holds in high esteem) and people with a modest but piercing tenderness. Pavlov befriends Rex, a stray dog, and begins talking with him. The context of civil war in the Middle East often lends itself to a blame game involving Christians versus Muslims, West versus East, or good versus evil. Hage dissolves these rigid binaries in his portrait of a syncretic Lebanon, where violence is perceived as a facet of everyday relations between people.

I also have on my roster the book of John C.G. Rohl, Kaiser Wilhelm II: A concise life. His life was complicated by family relations, Queen Victoria was his maternal grand mother and his mother was the eldest daughter of Victoria and Empress of Germany, a difficult birth which left him crippled and an upbringing verging on torture. He died in exile in 1941 and to this day is portrayed as a warlord, a misfit who became Emperor because of the early death of his father. The House of Hohenzollern to this day has to live with that ghost, though history is slowly rehabilitating him.

On the lighter side P.G. Woodhouse The code of the Woosters which is certainly good for a few laughs. That would fit the bill for what is called Summer fare.

So there you have it Summer reading!

 

 

 

music from an era

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In 1976 I moved to Ottawa from Montreal to attend University. The building complex where I lived had an intercom system which broadcasted one local radio station, CFMO and they only played big band dance music 1930-1960. This radio station no longer exist today. The listeners were all from  the generation born between 1920 and 1930, they were now approaching that certain age. The music was of their younger days when the world was their oyster.

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Marcus T. Cicero, 106 BC to Dec 43 BC

Hearing this from Guy Lombardo today reminded me that I am entering this age now when life is behind you and not in front of you. I will have to re-read Marcus Tullius Cicero’s book entitled ” How to grow old”.  Ancient wisdom for the second half of life.

A little book filled with ancient wisdom, Cicero suggest gardening and reading gives more pleasure than sex. The book addresses fears about old age, and Cicero persuasively argues they are greatly exaggerated.  Cicero was my age when he wrote that book the year before he was assassinated.

PRIDE PEI

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Well today was the 25th edition of the Pride Parade and it was big. Everyone is in it, families, grand-parents and grand-kids, politicians of all stripes, the Armed Forces, the RCMP, the local police and just plain people, all celebrating and having fun. The parade is one of the events of the week of celebration all around the Island and here in Charlottetown.

The parade snakes around the downtown core through residential areas and people are 5 row deep. Remember this is a town of 36K, so not a big place but PRIDE makes it big.

We had a great deal of fun at the Parade today and saw so many people. At the end of the Parada there was a party in one of the city square and the Premier of the Province said a few words. Live music with local artists and just a nice time in the shade.

This Island has come a long way in 25 years and it is amazing.

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PRIDE Flag at the PEI Regiment base

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The Haviland Club

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The Canadian Navy with their float

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The orange theme float of the NDP (political party) the leader is holding a Pride flag with the smily on it.

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Some young conservative who had T-shirts with the letters PC (progressive conservative) in rainbow colours.

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Lots of Unicorns at this parade.

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Green Party Youth group

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This is S. my videographer during my campaign with his girlfriend dressed as Ms Kitty, she has a big following on YouTube, such nice people.

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Grafton Street, it was 27 C in the Sun today but a nice breeze was blowing.

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Everyone wearing are with the Green Party, the Official Opposition in the Provincial Legislature. The Greens have had a pretty good start since the election passing some important bills on reduction of Carbon emissions to 1.2 megatons by 2030 instead of the Paris agreement of 1.4 megatons. This is why a minority government is a good thing, gets things done.

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The parade certainly had all the colours of the rainbow and then some. There are no big floats like in other cities, it is just local people celebrating, all ages and backgrounds. Which makes it fun.

Tonight there is a huge party at the DELTA Hotel in the ballroom. Seems like everyone is going.

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