Only 20 days to go.

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It occurred to me today that the Winter in PEI is a lot like the Winters in Poland.  Same gray skies and cold. Also PEI produces a lot of potatoes like Poland, in fact the Frito Lays you eat are made from PEI Potatoes from the Monahan Farms on Graham Road near Summerfield.

Another fun activity in Charlottetown in Winter is Art Classes given in Bars and restaurants, attendance is fairly high, from 50 to 125 people. The painting classes are given by established artists or art teachers. Per example the PEI Brewing Company is giving what is called ART Battle 475 on December 23. From what I have seen it goes beyond the cute pictures.

Today we started the Christmas decoration, in fact we started two days ago, a lot of prep work goes into it, a whole day polishing the 30 Sterling Silver Xmas tree balls from Neiman Marcus and other Sterling Silver ornaments like the flower medallions . Then setting up the tree and then deciding which decorations will go on this year. We have enough decorations we collected over 39 years in various countries to make 7 full grown trees. So we rotate them. While unpacking the decorations I came across tickets from 2008 Christmas Season programme for the ballet Lo Schiaccianoci at the Opera di Roma, that is Italian for Nutcracker.

Today our friend L.P. brought us a fresh bouquet of Holly branches, just beautiful. So it is all falling into place for the Holiday.

We still have to plan our Christmas Eve and Day, what will we do? I do not know, but am sure something will fall into place, am not averse to having just a quiet dinner at home.

As for Xmas gifts, I do not want anything, I have everything I want and then some. Same for Will, we are happy with our lot.

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close-up our Tree 2016 edition.

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The decorations and ornaments are from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Sicily, Ireland, UK, Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Hong Kong, USA, PEI, Canada, handmade, most one of a kind by artisans and bought in privately owned shops or local markets.

 

Sun and snow

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As much as Friday and Saturday we got misty rain and some wind, always wind on this Island. Today we have roving clouds with small flurries of snow and blue sky with Sun. We are doing the Christmas tree and decorations today.

Here are some pictures which I find beautiful on this day.

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The Via Appia built more than 2000 years ago. We walked this road which crosses Italy with its ancient pavement. What I discovered is that as you near the City Walls you have all these ruins, some elaborate, they are Mausoleums to the wealthy Patricians of Rome. So it was a famous road but also a cemetery in a beautiful setting. Misty Sunday morning in Rome.

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This weekend is the Christmas Market on Richmond Street in Old Charlottetown and here is the bronze statue on a park bench of our First Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald dressed up as the tradition wants for the occasion. #discovercharlottetown

 

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An evening view of a street in old Dresden in Saxony, Germany. The Xmas Market is on this weekend, I remembered it, like the one in Munich, so much fun and so many things to see. To think that Dresden just 25 years ago was still pretty much a ruin from February 1945 devastating bombings. Lovingly restored and in the background the dome of the Frauenkirchen rebuilt with public donations.

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The Old Kirk of St-James in Charlottetown on Fitzroy Street. This presbyterian parish church was built in 1878 in its present form though the parish exist since 1770.

 

It’s that Xmas Season again

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Like snow in Winter in Canada, commercial crass Xmas is upon us again. I had to go to the grocery store early this morning for a small dinner party we are giving tonight. This being now officially December all the xmas commercial crap was out in full force. The grocery store is one of those superstores where you can buy household goods and groceries. They had lots of shiny decorations and things for that Xmas party you are dying to give for all your friends. Plates, cookie jars, lanterns in translucent green, red and gold, reindeers and Santa’s and god knows what else, because it is so much fun, you are just bursting at the seems with delirious anticipation. Not to forget the sorry looking half dead pointsettia for $20 dollars, wreaths and boughs for $50 dollars. Cookies loaded with chocolate, why is there chocolate in everything now? What ever happened to the simple cookie, you have to make your own I suppose. Any catered food is super expensive from $35. dollars upwards with no guarantee that it is good to taste. Have you notice how melted cheese and cream sauce with a jalapeno on top is now the rigueur in any dish, why I wonder. I also went to the Dollar Store, I know that my faithful readership will gasp at this admission on my part, but I do have a good excuse, I was looking for a cheap shoe horn at $1. Rest assured I never go there, ever, I am not lowering my standards. However while in the shop, there were aisle after aisle of the cheapest Xmas ornaments and paraphernalia to make virgins blush, including the holy Mother of God. None of those items on offer will last more than one year and you can see it all in the garbage bin on 26 December, how very sad.

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We have all our traditional decorations we accumulated for the last 39 years and each is special to us because of where we got them. Looking at them brings back memories of years long ago in this or that country. We may still buy from time to time something special we saw in a market to adorn our tree but this as become rarer with the years.

This year Hanukkah starts on 24 December and last until 1 January. We do not have any Jewish friends here on the Island, I do not believe there is a Jewish community either. But I think it is rather neat that the two holiday periods coincide in 2016.

Well let’s just think happy thoughts on an old fashion Christmas Season, no not a Victorian one, more like a Scandinavian one, a more European flavour to it all to counter the crass commercialism and the eternally unsatisfied kids who always want more junk.

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Noël by Gustave Doré, painter and illustrator. 

Morning photos

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Here are photos of 3 cities in the world this morning. I have visited and or lived in these capitals.

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A fountain in Trastevere, Rome

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A view of St-Petersburg, Russia with of the St-Nicholas Naval Cathedral

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A view of the dome of the Lutheran Cathedral of Berlin, extensively restored after the Second World War. The modern wall on the left is the East side of the City Palace being rebuilt now. The interior of the Cathedral are as they were in 1918.

Cost of the Crown in Canada

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In the 28 November edition of MacLean’s Magazine Patricia Treble reports on a study made by the Monarchist League of Canada on the cost to Canadian taxpayers of the Crown as an institution. We have the Governor General and 10 Lieutenant Governors in Canada and we also cover the cost of Royal visits each year.

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Canada’s constitutional monarchy costs each Canadian $1.53 a year, less than a small coffee at Tim Hortons. That includes the Governor General, the 10 provincial lieutenant-governors, their official residences, staff, administration, travel, security and even office supplies. That’s way under the Senate ($2.38 per capita) and the House of Commons ($11.76). Heck, it’s just a bit more than the cost of the Library of Parliament ($1.16 per capital).
The data comes from the 6th edition of the Cost of the Crown Survey, a detailed, annotated breakdown from the Monarchist League of Canada. Its motivation was simple: “We needed a tool to counter any republican or anti-monarchy claims that the monarchy costs too much money,” explains Robert Finch, the league’s dominion chairman. “Second, we felt there was a real lack of understanding amongst the general population surrounding how much the monarchy costs Canadians. We want to convey the message that there is great value, rather than expense, in the service, significance, and symbolism of the Canadian Crown and the viceregal offices.”

In 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Governor General and 10 provincial viceregal appointees undertook more than 4,000 engagements.

Included in those costs are everything from the running two historic residences—Rideau Hall costs $6.7 million while La Citadelle in Quebec City is $730,000 and entertaining some 245,000 visitors and guests to those buildings. As well, RCMP security for the Governor General cost $6.6 million. There were also two royal visits in the survey’s time frame: official visits by Prince Charles and Camilla, duchess of Cornwall ($650,500 or two cents per capita) and Princess Anne ($128,000 or 0.3 cents per capita). Those costs are for expenses; the royals are never paid.

Republics weren’t a bargain. France’s presidency cost around $170 million ($2.20 per capita), while Ireland’s clocked in at an estimated $6.6 million or $1.22 per person.
“For the price of a cup of coffee, we get an institution that provides us with an excellent system of government and contributes to national unity and Canadian identity,” Finch says. “You can’t beat that.”

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The Lieutenant Governor of PEI, His Honour Frank Lewis, is the hardest working of the group at 77 yrs of age.

28 November

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The day Winter arrived to PEI. Up until now we had a mild Autumn and lovely sunny days. But on the night of the 27 to 28 a North Eastern Wind blew in with great force at 110KM per hour and bringing with it snow and rain. Some 12,000 people on the Island lost power and we all knew Winter had arrived. This meant school closing and warning about icy roads. The Ferries were cancelled and the Confederation bridge to the mainland had severe restrictions on motor traffic crossing, with such high winds I would not want to drive on that bridge 150 meters in the air over 12 km.

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This morning a brilliant sunshine and mild weather, the snow is melting and with it we got dazzling sunlight which you only see in Winter.

During the night we were woken up by the snow clearance machines at 3:00 and 4:30am. I did not get up to move the car in our lot, too much trouble. The snow with all the water in it was like concrete, lucky thing I did not have to shovel it.

Another storm is predicted for Tuesday night with again high powerful winds, Winter here is about the wind more than anything else. Lucky we live in the centre of the Capital so we are somewhat protected from losing power, but I am always concerned about the big old trees in such storms and big branches falling. We do have a lot of big ancient trees all around.

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Wreath contest

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Every year the Friends of the Confederation Centre for the Arts organize a wreath contest. Anyone can make a Christmas Wreath and bring it to the CCOA to be displayed in the long gallery. Some people spend a year preparing and making their wreath, it has to be original and not commercial. There is a panel of judges and a prize is given, all in good fun.

Here is some photos of this year’s entry.

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This entry is made from the remnants of a Lobster trap and decorated with PEI shells.

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This one was made by a 10 yr old girl and she made by hand each little fairy on her wreath

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Dog biscuits and leash for Christmas

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The caption on this one says What I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.

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Cut out music sheet of Christmas carols.

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Clothes pegs snow men and deers

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Just a sample of all the wreaths this year on display.

 

Social Events.

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When we moved to PEI some 7 months ago, little did we realize how many or much social events there are here. The newspaper The Buzz provides a full month of events and other things to do in Charlottetown and in other towns and villages on the Island. It is all very accessible for all not just a niche group as you so often see elsewhere.

This weekend we had our anniversary dinner, then a big party at friends just 3 blocks away, the food was out of this world good, there must have been about 100 people in this great 19th century apartment which is part of the late Governor, Sir Robert Hodgson Mansion, a whose who kind of party. Earlier we had been at the Santa’s Parade on University Street, a really big parade with Mickey Mouse from Disneyland as Grand Marshall, the parades here usually have 40 floats and lots of marching bands, most if not all is volunteer generated. Earlier in the week we had been at the lighting up of the Capital’s Official Christmas tree with full choir and in the presence of the Lieutenant Governor and other dignitaries. Today we have a concert at the Theatre of the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Earlier in the Season we attended the Mask Ball of the PEI Symphony Orchestra at the Culinary Institute. That was a beautiful evening with candlelight dinner with full orchestra and a jazz band. All in all not a bad life on the gentle island.

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Our 39th

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No I am not speaking of geographic parallels or border, but our anniversary for me and Will.

Yes it has been 39 years this 26 November, how time flies. The traditional gift in Germany is a Sun Theme gift.

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 We have had our ups and downs like in any relationship, we have lived around the world in cultures very different from our own and we have seen other relationships falter. But we have managed to keep our love for each other alive and our little family together.  What is our secret, I do not know and I cannot say we have a magic formula. Life does change  people and we are different each in our own way from who we were all those years ago.

I would say caring for each other and looking after each other’s interest, celebrating important milestones, matters the most in the long term and being flexible.

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Our Friends in Charlottetown, D & P sent us these flowers for our Anniversary, what a nice surprise.

A Happy Anniversary to us!