A voice from the past

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Frederic II the Great

Recently I wrote about reading the political philosophy of Frederic II of Prussia, (1712-1786), without a doubt the greatest King of Prussia of the Hohenzollern dynasty.

What I found fascinating about these books, there are several books in one presentation, you are actually reading what he wrote, so it is his thoughts and his voice, not that of some author interpreting what was said or a discussion on what it all meant then and now. It is rare that you can read a book which is so direct, similar to having a conversation with Frederic II. The only other book I read some years ago was the correspondence of Louis XVI on the events around him as the revolution struck in France. Correspondence to other family members and princes, trying to make sense of a situation he did not fully understand and the danger he and his family faced. There is also similar correspondence between Marie-Antoinette and Queen Charlotte in London, the Prussian wife of George III, full of anxiety and fear but also very dignified. I remember seeing the original letters in Rome, they are in a private collection, on beautiful paper, she had a very nice hand and it is quite easy to read.

Frederic II in his first book attacks Niccolo Machiavelli and his book The Prince written in 1532 for the Medici Prince in Florence. Machiavelli was hoping to get a job with the Medici, he did not and it is not clear that the Prince ever read his book dedicated to him.

In his own time, Machiavelli was known as the author of histories, poems, and plays (including a widely produced popular comedy). Respected as a statesman, he represented Florence on foreign missions and wrote reports admired for their style and substance. But the Catholic Church censured Machiavelli for his criticism of Christianity and for the tone and content of the political counsel he offered, especially in The Prince. By the seventeenth century, the name Machiavelli had become synonymous with diabolical cunning, a meaning that it still carries today. Modern readers exhibit the same ambivalence about Machiavelli himself, alternately recognizing him as a precursor of the discipline of political science and recoiling from the ruthless principles he frequently articulates. Both views of Machiavelli, as innovative modernist and cynical politician, have their origins in The Prince.

Frederic II as a Prince and Sovereign presents his views chapter by chapter and why The Prince is an awful book according to him because of its lack of ethics and morals and the promotion of fear of the ruler amongst the people. According to Frederic if your subjects fear you they will hate you and you will gain nothing. Frederic is also against the use of mercenaries in armies which was a common practice in his time by several princes in Europe. He does not think much of these Italian Princes who rule small Principality like Tuscany. He sees them as mediocre rulers.

Frederic II, promotes telling the truth to people and to other Princes, being honest, being tolerant of other peoples religions and differences, maintaining a strong civil government and freedom of conscience, he writes; a Prince must remain neutral and not encourage one group over another. During his reign he will welcome to Prussia, Jews and Huguenots from all over Europe and specially France. He is also very much opposed to war for the sake of grabbing territory and empire build, he writes think of the horrible misery war creates for all and the social ills they bring, warning Princes to be more aware of how the population and youth feels about wars in general. On the other hand he promotes what he calls a just war, one where your enemy attacked you and you defend yourself and your State, in such cases you have no choice but to give a strong response. He goes further in writing that men are born free and must not be slaves to their King. This is a direct criticism of other rulers in France and Austria. He praises the Constitutional Parliaments of England and the Netherlands as models to follow, is political allies, the King of England being his nephew. He advocates for limits on the power of rulers like himself and an independent judiciary, concept which would be championed by the new American Republic, he will be the first Sovereign in Europe to recognize the new Republic.

What is also fascinating about Frederic II is his attitude to Monarchs who sought to have him killed, Austria’s Empress Maria-Theresa being one, Empress Elizabeth of Russia being another, he always maintained polite cordial correspondence with them, despite the threat. The only time he lost his cool was during a battle when his beloved dogs small Italian Greyhounds or Whippets who accompanied him everywhere were dognapped by Austrian soldiers. They were returned after a few days, Frederic II was livid with the Austrians for what he thought cowardice on their part. He also had a love of horses and his favourite was Conde, the one depicted in the famous equestrian monument on Unter den Linden, he rides down the avenue.

The Philosopher King reputation as he became known suffered greatly after his death, not having children to succeed him, his nephew and the more conservative elements of his family took on a very different agenda. By 1860 and the politics of Chancellor Bismarck were clearly regressive and belligerent towards other European countries. By 1933 the Nazi used Frederic’s re-fashioned his image to one of warmonger in a series of nazi propaganda film he is portrayed as belligerent towards everyone. He probably would have been horrified by this portrayal. He did not do much better after 1945 with the Strategic Eastern Part of historical/governmental Berlin under Communist rule who either demolished historical building or blackened his image.

In 1991 with a re-united Germany, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, some 234 years after his death, in an Official ceremony reburies Frederic II with his dogs in the garden of his favourite home Sans Souci has he wished in the vault he had built for himself. It is a beautiful simple site and fitting for a man who had a progressive view of the world.

Frederic II the Great on the right and his 10 dogs to the left in the Gardens at Sans Souci, Potsdam.

Lots to do today

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I had to get up early today at 07:30am which is somewhat like the middle of the night for me. Usually I am a Crack of Noon riser which is the civilized time for retired folks like me.

So at 9:30am I had to be at the Club for the Thursday morning Coffee and Conversation program, today we had an Acadian historian Georges Arsenault, O.C., O.P.E.I whose family has been living on PEI since 1700. He is also an author and has written much about Acadian life and history on the Island. He also has a voluminous collection of old photos of Acadian Life on the Island dating back to 1860. He showed us many old photos of Acadian families and explained traditions in the period 1860 to 1950. It was fascinating, he had wedding photos dating from prior to 1946. How the common people lived if compared to high society, there was a stark difference. Brides has no wedding dress, they simply wore their Sunday best and so did the groom. Only people with money did the fashionable weddings the way we think of them today. The food prepared and served at weddings was also very different from today. Essentially the wedding would take place in Church at 7:30am and then the family would return home for breakfast at 9:00am. Back then Roman Catholics, Acadians are all R.C. , were not allowed to have food before Mass. Everyone was in their Sunday best and all of it took place in the Kitchen including the square dancing. What Acadians call in French souper (Supper) took place at Noon and both meals were offered by the Bride and her parents in their home. The Dinner at night around 6pm moved to the Groom’s parents home for more square dancing and food and of course Whiskey and Island Gin at 50 proof. That’s the Gin I buy for my Island friends, they do not want the English stuff at 40 Proof. The most important element of a successful wedding meal during the day was the desserts and sweets, some families could offer over 30 different types of sweets not including the Wedding Cake which was white and baked usually in the village by a woman who was known for her cakes and hired for that day. Which reminded me of my great Aunt Marie-Ange in Charlesbourg near Quebec City who was known at Christmas for her desserts and sweets.

The family photos are also interesting, most taken outdoors for the light in an age when no flash existed. Women in Acadian fashion have their heads covered by a bonnet or large scarf, custom being that only unmarried maidens could show their hair. Families were also large on average 12 kids and many upwards of 19 kids, all living under one roof in small farm houses. One wonders how they did it. It is only again after 1946 that people start having small families of 2 or 3 children.

After the talk, I went to my barber Jared who is a very nice person and great to chat with, we talked about what had happened the previous day in Washington D.C. at the Capitol building. He was working so could not watch television and was being told by his customers what was happening, he was in disbelief like I was and many other people. Though he remarked and I agree, we could see all this coming and were bracing for it. How come the Capitol Police did not prepare, were they over confident? I watch it all and was sickened by it, how can the symbol of a democracy be attacked like that by a mob which looked like Duck Dynasty. Ignorance on parade, truly sad. I was wondering if the Ceausescu solution could not be applied to Trump and his family, worked in Romania in 1989. What I fear like a lot of people is a possible return of another Trump type in 4 years, populist but more intelligent and cunning. Is the USA sliding into authoritarianism, it could happen after all 75 million Americans voted for him, hopefully not and the world will move on.

Afterwards I went to the Service Canada Office which provides info and registration for all Federal Government Programs, one stop shopping. This was instituted some 8 years ago by the Canadian Government. I was having some problem online with an application and could not get anyone at their 1-800 number unless you are willing to wait an hour or more on hold. So I simply went down to the Office and saw an Officer in 5 minutes. She answered my questions and all appears all right, I am much relieved.

After the ball

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So here we are the end of the Holiday Season with la Fête des Rois or Epiphany , now is the time to undo the Xmas decorations and fall into a kind of slumber which is January and February, the dull period of the year. The weather on the Island is uncertain, not cold not warm and a lot of overcast skies. Typical Northen European weather though we are in Atlantic Canada.

Tomorrow being la Fêtes des Rois the tradition in French culture is to have a special cake. The cake is to celebrate the visit of the 3 wise men to the manger to see baby Jesus, before his parents took him on a tax dodge to Egypt. I remember my mother making this cake or galette as it is called in French, an put a broad bean inside for one lucky kid to discover.

Celebrating the Epiphany with a gâteau des rois is a custom that originates from a Roman pagan ritual, which came to French Canada via France. The Romans would bake a cake, inside of which they would place a bean or a clay fish. Whoever discovered the object — regardless of his or her social status — would play king or queen for a day.

Recipe for the Gateau des Rois.

Ingredients

parchment paper, for the baking sheet
400 gpuff pastry dough1 box
1/2 cupbutter, unsalted, soft120 g
1 cupicing/confectioners’ sugar130 g
1 1/3 cupalmond meal130 g
eggs size large
1 tbsprum15 mL
white flour (all purpose), to roll out the pastry

Before you start

Defrost the puff pastry dough at room temperature for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The dough should be flexible but still feel cold to the touch.

A hand-held or stand mixer will make things easier for this recipe.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F. Butter a large baking sheet (about 30 x 38 cm) and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, cream the butter with the sugar using a mixer, until light and fluffy. Fold in the almond meal, 2 eggs and rum. Set aside. 
  3. On a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry to 2 rounds of about 10 in (25 cm) diameter, using a rolling pin. Place one round on the baking sheet.
  4. Transfer the almond mixture to the center of the round, leaving about 1 in (2,5 cm) on the edge. Drop one broad bean near the edge (to minimize the chances to find it when slicing the cake).Whisk the remaining egg with 1 tbsp water then brush the pastry edge. Cover with the second pastry round.
  5. Seal all around the edge, gently pressing with a fork. Drill tiny holes in the upper crust, to allow steam to escape. Brush the crust with the beaten egg.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven 20-25 min, until golden.
  7. Serve at room temperature.
A slice of galette des rois at Duc de Lorraine contains top-quality baker’s flour and butter. About 600 cakes were sold last year between Christmas and the end of January.

SNOW!!!

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Well we had a green and mild Christmas and New Year’s Day 2021 and today 2 January BANG snow storm! with 10 inches of snow in 5 hours. So now the snow ploughs are out in force and it’s back to the National Sport of Canada, brushing off the car and de-icing the windows, what fun.

For this snow storm I blame Michigan, the theory is that they manufacture bad weather there and send it our way. In the Summer we blame Florida for hurricane weather which is then sent our way. Well at least we know that by End March it will be over, so I suppose that we cannot complain too much, it will be 12 weeks instead of 26 weeks of snowy Winter as is standard in most of Canada.

The one good thing about a storm here, is that suddenly there is no traffic and no one about, it is very quiet and peaceful as if we lived in the countryside.

Today was a quiet day, this afternoon we visited an artist friend and his spouse just a couple of streets away from us. They live in a area called Big Spring in reference to the Spring that crosses the area and then comes down to the Hillsborough river. It is more than a Spring really, almost a small river given the constant rapid flow of water. Most of it now is underground, but you can hear it and in the area some land is empty because it sits on top of the spring and is marshy. At one time the Spring emptied into what was known as Government Pond, a rather large marshy pond on the edge of the Fanningbank Estate, the Official Residence of the Governor of PEI. Some 40 years ago the Provincial Government decided that it would be better to cover it up in an effort at urban renewal. The Area surrounding the Pond was a poor neighbourhood populated by a small black community and known as the Bog. Today brutalist style Government buildings cover the area with a large 1960 style parking lot, car culture still dominates mentalities on the Island.

Our friend is a well known artist and their house is full of art work, quite a beautiful place with a large work studio in the back garden. His spouse who is also an artist, prepared all manner of finger food, it was all very good and tasty. So much so that we had no appetite for dinner tonight. They also served Swedish Mulled Wine, Glogg, which is very nice in such weather and goes well with the Holiday Season.

So on with go with the Winter Season now officially opened.

Best Wishes!

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It was Friedrich Nietszche (1844-1900) who said Life without Music would be a mistake. This is why the first day of the Year must start with music. January 1 will be a quiet day as always for us, I will listen to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna, conducted this year by one of my favourite Maestro Riccardo Muti with the Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra.

A concert without audience, a first, at the Muzikverein, Golden Hall in Vienna. Here is the program;

Franz von Suppè Fatinitza March, Johann Strauß II.Schallwellen (Sound Waves), Waltz, op. 148, Johann Strauß II. Niko Polka, op. 228, Josef Strauß, Ohne Sorgen (Without a Care), Fast Polka, op. 271, Carl Zeller, Grubenlichter (Davy Lamps), Waltz, Carl Millöcker, In Saus und Braus (Living It Up), Galop — INTERMISSION —

Franz von Suppè, Overture to “Poet and Peasant, Karl Komzák, Bad’ner Mad’ln (Girls of Baden), Waltz, op. 257, Josef Strauß, Margherita Polka, op. 244, Johann Strauß, Venetian Galop, op. 74, Johann Strauß II, Frühlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), Waltz, op. 410, Johann Strauß II, In the Krapfenwaldl, Polka française, op. 336, Johann Strauß II, New Melodies Quadrille. op. 254, Johann Strauß II, Emperor Waltz, op. 437, Johann Strauß II, Tempestuous in Love and Dance, Fast Polka, op. 393

The 2021 New Year’s Concert will be broadcast in over 90 countries and followed by millions of television viewers around the world.

Let’s hope for the best or for at least a normal year, how could it not be better.

The Muzikverein, Golden Hall, Vienna.

Sweets

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It seems that the Holiday Season is the season for Sweets of all kinds. You receive them as gifts, you make some to give as a gift or for dessert or to offer to people visiting. Here at our house we have little bags of goodies, full of chocolates and other sweets we give out to guests. Then there are the cakes and pastries, here have another one, but I already had 3, it does not matter who is counting anyway it’s the Holidays.

We have enough sweets to last us until at least Valentines day. It is almost as if because it is the end of the year over eating is a way of saying, you know what, I made it through another year, I deserve a reward especially after 2020!

A few years ago when I worked on the painting exhibit by Canadian War Artists at the Canadian War Museum, I discovered a collection of Canadian paintings numbering about 1000, by Canadian men who had enlisted for the 1914-1918 conflict. Their job was to document the horrors of the battlefield for posterity. These fellows were in many cases painters, 6 of them would go on after the war to form the celebrated Canadian Group of Seven. One of those men was A.Y. Jackson. His paintings of battlefield and ravaged landscape where presented juxtaposed to those of another famous artists Otto Dix who fought against him in the trenches on the German Side. Both men knew each other and respected each others work, lived long lives but unfortunately never met. Otto Dix in Germany created the movement called New Objectivity in painting with his harshly realistic paintings. He quickly fell afoul of the Nazi regime in 1933 and was declared degenerate by their ideological standards. He stayed in Germany but was under house arrest and narrowly avoided the concentration camps.

The group of seven during the years 1919-1933 were painting Canadian Wilderness Landscapes, a first since no one before them had done it. It was new and exciting in the Canadian Art World. What many people do not know is that Max Aitken Lord Beaverbrook not only financed the work of Canadian War Artists but took care of collecting the works. Today this war art collection is mostly in the vaults of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Some pieces are seen from time to time by the public. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton houses the Art collection of Max Aitken, and it is impressive. He had the money and influence to acquire great art and the gallery is celebrated for its works of art. It is currently closed for an expansion project until 2022.

I was looking at yet another architectural project in Berlin. A city that has experienced a renaissance since 1989 with the fall of the Wall. This one is the building of a Museum to Exile, dedicated to all the people forced out in the period 1933-1940 by the policies of the Nazi Regime. Artists, opposition politicians, scientists, academics, musicians, basically anyone who was targeted and told to get out before it was too late.

The new museum to be built with an opening date of 2025 will be located in what use to be the Official Train Station of the German State, Anhalter Bahnhof. All important arrivals and departures from Berlin took place at this train station, the Kaiser used the Anhalter Bahnhof for this purpose and then it was used by the Nazi Regime for welcoming friendly Heads of Government like Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini on his visit to Berlin in 1938. Between 1933 and 1940 it became also the train station used by people forced out, going into exile because they fell afoul of the Nazi Regime, thousands left for other countries in Europe through this station.

Berlin’s Anhalter Bahnhof in 1900.

What is left today of this once large train station in central Berlin.

The station has stood as a ruin for more than 70 years, everything else that was once part of this great building a field of ruin and open land. It is not clear why only the portico survived, but part of the Communist ideology wanted such vestiges to teach people a lesson and East Berlin was until 1990 strewn with such ruins. East Germany occupied by the Russians was full of historical and cultural sites, left mostly abandoned. Cities like Leipzing where J.S.Bach lived and worked suffered greatly at the hands of the East German government who demolished many historical sites they did not like, Dresden and Potsdam are another example of cities re-built to fit the new ideology. What was East Berlin was full of monuments to the past and it too got the bulldozer treatment. On the other hand Nazi building like the Air Ministry of Herman Goering unscathed by the war were re-used and housed Communist party functionaries and Soviet agents. This building today still stands and houses the German Government Social Services dept. it resembles in its design two buildings in Ottawa on Wellington Street, the West and East Memorial Buildings.

The Danish architectural firm of Dorte Mandrup in Copenhagen is now tasked with building the structure that will house the Exil museum, which aims to portray the history of German exile during the Nazi era. It is estimated that half a million people fled Nazi persecution.

The Anhalter Bahnhof station in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district was one of the most important long-distance train stations in Berlin during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic.

After the rise of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in the spring of 1933, many people left the city using this station. People like Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Klaus Mann, Lotte Laserstein, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Gropius, Billy Wilder.

From 1942, the Nazis used the station to deport Jews to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Many of those emigrants were not allowed to work in their new host countries, or banned from practicing their actual professions. In addition to losing their homes, friends and family, they also lost their cultural and professional identity this way. Many became destitute, and were greeted by rejection and animosity in their new homes.

The construction of the museum will largely be financed by private donations, with costs being estimated to run up to €25 to 30 million ($30 to 35 million).

The New Exil Museum in Berlin, schedule to open in 2025.

Memories

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First thing this morning I was reminded by FB that 8 years ago today I retired from work. It seems like decades ago, another time and another life. I do remember it was not a particularly cold day that Friday in 2012 and there was no snow in Ottawa at that point. I went in to sign off papers and close down accounts at work. The director of Personnel was a dreadful person who was usually quite unpleasant unless she wanted something from people. I had to wait for her despite having an appointment with her. An hour later she showed up, I signed my resignation letter, she signed it too and that was it. No words, nothing not even a goodbye.

I left the Service a year after our return from Rome. This was a period when our department was going through a period of getting rid of anyone over the age of 55 and finding creative ways to be unpleasant so people would leave. Age discrimination a prohibit ground under the Canadian Charter, yes but this is the Government, they do as they please. What I discovered a few weeks later was that a bonus was given to managers who were instrumental in getting rid of people. So much for the ethical behaviour of the Government. A few years later we would all discover that senior managers often got bonuses even when things went badly and even promotions, the Phoenix Pay system is one very good example, hundreds of millions lost and promotions handed out to the main culprits.

It was time for me to go in many ways, I had a long career, many foreign postings, more than average really, I was very tired and suffered from anxiety, etc. The work atmosphere had become poisonous and I was amongst the last of my recruitment year to leave. The next generation were at least 20 years younger and the service had changed to a point it was unrecognizable.

I remember leaving the building and finding myself on the street and feeling like a free man out of jail after a very long sentence, I felt a sort of euphoria. Now looking back all this seems like such a long time ago. But that was not the end, we left Ottawa for PEI, 3 years later for a new chapter in life, a completely different adventure which opened new doors, new friendships and new horizons.

So here we are now in 2020 or the last days of it. It was a year full of anxiety and I may put a brave face on it, I was often not looking forward to going out to shop and seeing how people did not observe the most elementary sanitary rules. We got the hang of it here in PEI but cannot say the same in other provinces in Canada. We were cut off from the mainland for our own safety and no one could come here either. Flights out were cut and so was the ferry service. It really felt at times as if we were on another planet far away. So going to the beach to look at the waves and the sea was a distraction and the fresh saline air is always good.

My blogging continued but I felt it was mundane at times and maybe repetitive, as I was following architectural stories or food shows or other topics like reading. I am a slow reader and I have several books on the go and I have not started reading the Obama biography, A Promised Land, though I am looking forward to it.

So the year is coming to an end and all we can hope for and I have reasons to be optimistic is better days ahead. On the Eve of 2020 I wondered what will it bring, on the Eve of 2021 I can only believe that no matter what happens, it has to be better.

Great Weather

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If 2020 for a lot of people all around our planet was a disaster year full of frustrations and disease, countless death, terrible natural disaster. This pandemic was a reminder that we are not immortal and that technology cannot solve all our consumer society problems. Many political leaders around the world have failed miserably preferring to delay and dither on what to do and focus their energy on businesses instead of public health. Now as the year ends vaccination campaigns have started and I like many others wait for my turn to get the shot.

Let us hope that 2021 will be a better year for all of us.

On CBC radio on Sunday Paolo Pietro Paolo is the host of a show devoted to classical music with a segment about forgotten composers who left beautiful compositions. Because it is the end of the year he also had his list of famous musicians and singers who died this year. He always includes artists from all around the world, from Iran, India, Poland, Italy, France, England, etc.. in the end he focuses on Canadian artists. Making us reflect on the contribution all these people made to our lives.

Today is another beautiful day, sunny and somewhat cold, no snow. Christmas day was so warm that people I know went swimming in the Ocean, it was that warm and little wind. Now that is something to talk about in future years. But with climate change I think we are in for more warmish winters. Our past Summer was hot and humid, another first for the Island and in continued into the Fall. It has been so warm, that some days we simply cut off the heat in the house and I have not brought out the big Winter wool covers. I am not complaining I much prefer a Northern European Style Winter to a Frosty Snowy Canadian one.

In our trip to Fredericton N.B. last Fall we noticed how many well stocked fine grocery stores there are. Recently I discovered that you can even get Caviar. A company called Acadian Caviar farms Sturgeons and sell the eggs and the meat, this is wonderful. WWW. ACADIAN-STURGEON.COM , this fish is quite large and given that the supply in Russia has petered out due to overfishing, other countries have developed their own. I know Iran produces very good caviar. In the Maritime Provinces several fishers have developed a market for specialty fish.

Quiet days indeed as the year ends and I really don’t mind it.

Buggy rides on Water street

No left overs

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With careful planning and measurements of people’s appetite it is possible to avoid leftovers. This year we have no leftovers, it all went quickly knowing that people today do not have the appetites of Edwardians.

Also today I read about Fast Food in Ancient Rome, yes it was a big thing back then. Most people living in Rome or in this case Pompeii went to neighbourhood taverns for beer and a bite and also to the corned fast food emporium for a meal. It was a serve yourself thing offering various soups, stews, bread and cheese. It was a meal on the go and it worked pretty well given that most inhabitants did not have a kitchen at home. Same for bathing houses and public latrines, life was communal in antiquity, unless you were very wealthy and had a large mansion with tons of slaves/servants. The every day Romans lived in apartment blocks, 5 storeys tall and went out for food, bathing and the latrines. There really was no privacy they way we understand it in our world today.

In Pompeii archeologist uncovered a fast food joint called a “thermopolium” hot food served. It is brightly painted with animals telling customers what is in every pot, duck, chicken, pork, beef. Same for wine and beer, great amphoras were used to store the liquid and you were served or served yourself. In this dig they found amphoras full of ash but the smell of wine was still strong once they started to analyze the contents. This thermopolium was frozen in time by the disaster that struck the city.

There were 80 such establishments in Pompeii. This is a great and well preserved find and illustrates the lives of people before 79 AD when Vesuvius blew up and buried the city in ash.

A good time

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We had a good Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Luncheon with friends.

The 24 Dec was a simple affair of a few friends came to say hello and exchange good wishes. We served home made sausage roll made from the meat of English Banger sausage and using a recipe of Nigel Slater we made puff pastry stuffed with British Stilton Cheese served pipping hot, with a glass of bubbles its a great little bite. He also made small pastry stars mixed with parmesan and served hot. They are very good and of course while we were not looking our Nicky managed to grab a couple. He loves cheese, so does Nora but she is not as bold as he is.

Today’s Luncheon, Will borrowed a great recipe for Tourtiere which came very close to my Mom’s, it was delicious. We also had a turkey breast, Brussel’s sprouts roasted, carrots and roasted small potatoes. We started the meal with Red Sockeyed Wild Pacific Salmon with capers and dill. Our dessert was Plum Pudding Flambé which had a good flame this year and instead of the usual hard sauce, Will made Nesselrode Chesnut Ice Cream, it was a big hit with our guests. It was the great French Chef Carême who invented this dessert in honour of the Russian/German Diplomat and Chancellor of the Russian Empire Count Karl Robert Nesselrode in 1814 after Napoleon’s final defeat.

The tradition of the Christmas day message goes back to 1928 when King George V, the grandfather of the Queen did the first broadcast. As Queen of Canada the message of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is carried on the Nation’s airwaves of the CBC at 3pm. This year unlike any other year the Queen is in Windsor Castle due to the pandemic.

It was also very warm today in Charlottetown, 50F which is unheard of and shows how climate change is really changing the world around us, normally it should be near zero or below zero and snow should be covering the ground, not so this year.