The story of Our Nicky and Nora on their Birthdays.
The story of Our Nicky and Nora on their Birthdays.
We were fortunate that Laurent’s posting to Italy also meant that he was accredited to Greece which meant regular trips to Athens during our time there. We had made our first visit in 1997 to catch a cruise of Anatolia and several of the Greek Islands on a four-masted schooner. It was the first time […]
It seems that in my life time anniversaries for both me and Will have always been in a city or place around the world. Will just wrote about Moussaka, The recipe he gives on his blog is very good, it’s from our friend Akis Petretzikis who is a famous TV chef in Greece https://willyorwonthe.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/not-moussaka-its-moossakka/ and he included in his blog post photos of our anniversary trip to Greece when I was accredited to the Hellenic Republic.
We travelled in Greece not as much as I wish we had but nonetheless it was always memorable.
For our 30th Anniversary in 2008, we travelled by car from Athens to Arachova which is a famous ski resort. The mountain dominating the region is Mount Parnassos, elevation 2457 meters home of the god Apollo and his aunt the Muses. The village of Arachova is above the Gulf of Corinth and about 10 minutes by car from the ancient site of Delphi.
Arachova being a mountain town, you can walk everywhere but a lot of streets are in fact stone staircases, so you do get a good workout. The food is grilled lamb and other Greek dishes. Most people speak only Greek. Being so close to Delphi we visited the ancient site with its wonderful temples and other religious sites dedicated to the gods of ancient Greece. Delphi is a magical site hanging over the cliff with the Gulf of Corinth far below. Mount Parnassos during our visit was hidden in the clouds, certainly lending an air of mystery.
Delphi is known as the Omphalos or Navel of the World with its vegetation of olive and pine trees. Of course the famous Oracle of Delphi is dedicated to Apollo, the god of light, harmony, music and prophecy, was the most visited oracle in Greece and people from all over the Mediterranean would come to ask for help. It needs some climbing up to get to the actual site, which stands on top of a rocky hill.
In 2018 for our 40th we were in Lisbon, one of the best 10 days in Europe and we would love to return to Portugal. In 1998 our anniversary was in Poland, we travelled from our home in Warsaw to a small resort about 40 minutes to the West of Gdansk. In 1988 we were then living in Mexico, I don’t recall what we did, it seems we spent the weekend in Cuernavaca or San Miguel Allende. No anniversaries are the same and all carry wonderful memories.
Birthdays for Will and I are also special and each decade saw a special trip to commemorate. Vietnam, Ireland, Egypt, Poland, Mexico, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Italy, etc.
Some thoughts on how to prepare for a storm in PEI .
This winter I made a vow not to fill posts with idyllic pictures of Victorian house nestled in drifts of snow, the skating rink in the parkland across the street, or the pristine whiteness of an unplowed Water Street. And I will keep to that promise however (and you knew there was going to be a however) I did not say I wouldn’t do a short photo essay on the approaching storm that we are expecting tomorrow January 20, 2019.
The nice people at the Weather Network are good enough to tell us what we “need to know before it all begins”. They tell us we could get up to 60cms of snow followed by freezing rain.
That’s all well and good but they don’t give us the facts and figures that are really important the day before a storm. This is a better more like it.
Well okay on…
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Well today is the 6 January, the last day of the Christmas festivities. Again at dinner time we were listening to Radio Canada from Montreal and Monique Giroux the host of the music show had a special 1969 French Song of that year. It was a great year for French songs in Canada and in France, many hits for sure and some duds. I was 12 years old in 1969 and the Host Monique Giroux was 6 years old. It was so strange to hear all these old songs, many made me smile remembering Montreal then, we lived in Snowdon and the big street was Queen Mary Road name after the wife of King George V.
My father was the manager of the Bonaventure Hotel which was operated then be Western International, the hotel part of United Airlines, my Mom was in real estate in Westmount, then a really expensive stone mansion was $50,000. For some unexplained reason this Holiday Season I have been thinking a lot about my parents and my childhood years in Montreal. Our Prime Minister then was Pierre E. Trudeau, the father of our current PM Justin, who was not even born. It was also the year before the October Crisis which would see Martial Law impose for 6 months with the army occupying the streets. Being in Quebec, despite our young age I remember how aware we were of the political events.
This beautiful mosaic in the cathedral of San Vitale in Ravenna of the 3 kings dressed in the Gaul style with pants and the red phrygian caps bearing gifts to Jesus.
This being the Feast of Epiphany, La Befana brought me a gift. In Italy she is the old lady who gives gifts to children on this day, there is NO Santa in the Italian tradition. BULGARI is my favourite.
Will also made Peanut Butter cookies, they are very good but not the 22 dozens the recipe called for.
Home at 04:10 pm with the sun setting in the West.
Have you made your list for Santa?
What do you want for Xmas? I would like a BMW convertible or better still a Bentley Convertible, lots of Bulgari stuff and some nice cases of Bollinger Champagne. like in this photo in Lisbon.
Today 87 years ago, on 11 December 1931 Canada became a fully independent Country with the proclamation of the Statute of Westminster, George V was proclaimed King of the Dominion of Canada. These important changes were enshrined into our Constitution and Canada adopted its own Law on Royal Succession. We were also able to finally make our own Foreign Policy independent from Britain and open our own Canadian Embassies around the world. The first one was in Tokyo, Japan and Sir Herbert Marler was our first Canadian Ambassador to the Empire of Japan.
Two days ago I read in the Montreal Gazette that George Lau the owner of L’Orchidée de Chine was closing his restaurant after 34 years in operation. The restaurant is located at the corner of Peel street and De Maisonneuve in Montreal. This was a favourite of my parents who lived just one block North on Peel street. So many family reunions took place there over the years. George is aging and he and his sister Eva want to move on, his children have their own careers. George Lau came to open his restaurant after the celebrated and luxurious Ruby Foo’s restaurant closed on Decarie Blvd. He wanted to have a Chinese restaurant with class for fine dining with dishes well prepared in a traditional manner. L’Orchidée de Chine was also the place where we had my father’s wake, all his favourite dishes and champagne, the way he and Mom would have wanted it. My Dad had known George and Eva for decades.
Over the years many restaurants in Montreal patronized by my parents came and went. Years ago a standard was Les Jardins du Ritz in the Ritz Hotel on Sherbrooke street and its famous garden with duckling pond, you felt like you were in Paris. This was before the renovations 10 years ago when all changed.
Then there was many years ago The Coffee Mill on Mountain street, which closed around 1994, a Hungarian coffee shop which catered to so many Hungarians who fled the Uprising of 1956 in Hungary. It was very European, in its food, service and atmosphere, my mother loved it.
My parents also loved The Beaver Club dining room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, it was modelled on the famous Fur merchant’s Club established in 1785 near Beaver Hall Hill it closed in 2014.
Le Paris on Sainte Catherine street West, my parents knew the owner a Frenchman and it was a great little restaurant. Then the owner died suddenly and the restaurant closed a year later.
It seems that when I go back to Montreal now there are less and less places left where my parents and all of us went to, replaced as time moves on my more hip places but not as it once was.
Not in Montreal but in New York my Dad liked The Plaza hotel before it was turned into a condo style hotel and the restaurants and bars all closed. Only the Palm Court is left but it is not quite the same.
My parents spent their lives in the hotel/retaurant business and my Dad loved to find new restaurants and find out who was the Chef and what was his background. Before his death a few years ago, it became difficult to go out with him, he did not like the direction restaurants in general were taking, too much decor and not much on food and service. He was often appalled by the lack of attention to details or cleanliness, he wondered why people would put up with such low standards, noise and expensive prices. He did not find often good value for the money spent. In the last year of his life he was teaching restaurant management at the Hotel School in Montreal, he told me how un-motivated the students were and he finally asked them why they wanted to work in the hospitality industry, the answer was to make money, he was shocked by the answer. He explained to them that you went into that business because you liked people and wanted to offer a service not to make money.
For me there is nothing or little to return too in Montreal nowadays, I do not recognize the City, it has changed a lot and the people we knew save a few old friends are gone. The place of my childhood is gone but then again this is what happens in life, nothing stays the same.
So we are scheduled to leave for Portugal and spend about 10 days there, it will be a pleasant change all around. We have never been and I heard plenty of good things about the country. We are also thinking of going to the Galapagos Island next year with friends, that also will be a first.
In the meantime I am worried about the USA and how your system of government is unraveling, no longer the example of democracy and in the firm grip of a President who is keen on ignoring the rules of your Constitution. The bizarre incident with the CNN reporter and his being banned because the President did not like the question. The new threats made by Trump on the new majority Democrat Congress, it will be war if they look into his finances and his family holdings. I think that he has now admitted to wrongdoing by simply making this threat, he is very obviously worried Congress will find out the truth. This should be an incentive for Congress to act quickly. The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement by his Chief of Staff who penned an opinion this past Summer calling into question the legitimacy of Courts and the Supreme Court in particular. This new fellow could also limit the Mueller investigation and even refuse to publish the findings. This new Attorney General sounds like someone who again would do just about anything to ensure Trump stays in power no matter what happens. This is worrisome for any country with institutions and the principle of Law and Order.
Too many countries like China, Russia, North Korea control the Courts to ensure that the leadership can persecute its perceived enemies and hand down judgements it likes. If the USA goes down this road then all pretence of being a democracy founded on the principle of the rule of Law is gone and you are nothing more than a tin pot republic. It could happen in the USA because no one wants to believe that it could. This is what happened in Germany in 1933 no one believed that the parliament (Reichstag) and the Courts would allow Chancellor Hitler to take over, after all Germany was a country founded on the rule of Law, and in one night it was all gone.
Hopefully President Trump can be removed from Office before it is too late. Hopefully Congress will take charge. It shows how checks and balances is a fragile thing and not fail proof.
Then there is China, in the last few months dangerous close encounters between the Chinese Navy and the USA Navy have taken place in disputed areas at sea where China now claims total control. Would Trump declare war on China if a USA Naval ship was rammed or attacked or sunk? It could very well happen if Trump becomes desperate to cling to power.
What about Trump’s promise to do away with the Nuclear Treaty with Russia, this is pure madness and even Putin is worried, all of it moves to destabilize the world and push us towards war or the destruction of institutions in the USA. I cannot remember any President being so callous.
All the signals are there, something needs to give to avoid a disaster. Canadians are dismayed and worried.
Well I have been presenting to the public the Kent Monkman Exhibit on the 150th of Confederation, titled Shame and Prejudice, a story of Resilience. It is a national traveling Art exhibit and has been to several Canadians Cities, it is all part of the Truth and Reconciliation process between First Nations and non-indigenous people in Canada.
So you can imagine that we do get a lot of reactions depending on who the visitor is and where they are from or what they know. This is the all important word Knowledge , a negative reaction to the exhibit usually comes from lack of knowledge or ignorance which is often crass. Like in many countries Canadians do not know their history and really have no idea what happened in Canada in the last 150 years and little about the French period from 1534-1763, the past is a blank. A lot of what we were told is based on stories told badly or sound bites or myths like the War of 1812.
You will not find many First Nation People who think that the colonial project of turning 4 little colonies into a country in 1867 as a good thing. They certainly lost and to this day have been marginalized, though the situation is changing, some old attitudes die hard.
The whole exhibit is very complex and requires from the viewer time to think and to reflect, the great paintings of Monkman are layered with symbolism, even the clouds mean something. He paints in a style reminiscent of the baroque era (1600-1750) but also in the romantic age (1800-1900). You have to know the history of Canada and of the First Nations. The public in general is not really aware of the many various First Nations in Canada, some ask how many were there in total. Today there are 2 million indigenous people in Canada or about 5% of the total population. Canadian History was not taught in schools. In English Canada, students got British Imperial history and in French Canada we got the history of New France from 1534 to 1763 and then history of the struggles against English oppression, deportation of the Acadians 1755-58, rebellion of 1837, rebellion of the Metis in 1880, and it would then jump to historical moments like conscription of the First World War and Second World War, and finally the Quiet Revolution of the 1960’s. But the First Nations were largely absent from it all, in French Canada you would hear about the Huron, Algonquin, Iroquois, Abenaquis, other First Nations were not mentioned since they did not figure in our history. The relationship between the French and the First Nations was also very different in many ways. We never studied the history of British Empire.
So you can imagine how complicated it can be to present this exhibit when the public does not understand what they are looking at. I am not mentioning visitors from Asia or South East Asia who find the whole exhibit bewildering, this is not the image of Canada they have and for them First Nations are simply Indians who are cartoon figures. Many are astounded to hear this story. Then we get a few religious types who do not take kindly to the attacks on Christianity in the context of religion being used as a cudgel. The praying hands modelled after the work of Albrecht Dürer made of washable silicone gets them going.
The Confederation daddies (detail) Quebec Conference 1864. Miss Chief (mischief) with her/his LouBoutin designer high heels.
The bigger observations comes from the imagery, Monkman tells the story through the lens of a white colonial power, violence, dominance, oppression, racism, bigotry, misogyny. Using government documents and official correspondence, quoting Campbell Duncan Scott, CMG, Senior bureaucrat who writes about using residential schools as the final solution of the Indian problem. He also uses Jane Austen’s images of society and the societal context of the time she writes about. It makes a lot of people very uncomfortable, it bothers them to see such images which cracks the mirror of pleasantness so often associated with the Victorian era and what followed. Canada not so nice after all, no we did not have General Custer and the Cavalry, we had the RCMP as enforcers of the government and Cabinet approved policy of starvation to get rid of the Indian problem.
The Iron Horse (detail) with Miss Chief (read Mischief) Eagle Tes-Tickle
The other aspect that bothers a lot of people is the sexuality, nudity and open strong sexual messaging in the paintings and the fact that Monkman being Two Spirit and gay is not accepted by some visitors. We hear some truly disturbing remarks dismissing the whole exhibit as mere propaganda or labelling it degenerate art. Monkman to some is either psychotic or a pervert. At the same time I do not see those visitors as making any effort to understand or look at what is being presented.
Maybe the days when you visited a museum and examined the art works and looked at the composition and themes to enrich your knowledge or to seek beauty are past. Maybe people just want to be entertained and nothing more, why can’t museums be entertainment centres. Thinking in a critical manner is too difficult for some.
The Bears of Confederation (detail) Miss Chief (mischief) somewhat like a Canadian 50 shade of grey. The red handkerchief and the praying hands a strong symbolism for some.
Little did I realize that despite our advancement in the last 40 years on many topics attitudes do not change much. Some men still grapple with difficulty with the changing mores in society and feel very threatened by any demonstrations of men cross dressing, being gay, penises, etc. For some women nudity, erect penises, BDSM, anything departing for the heterosexual norm can be a difficult topic. Or it can be as simple as finding it difficult that something terribly wrong took place in Canada and you cannot blame someone else. It happened here not in some other country. Hopefully this exhibit will get visitors to think critically about their role in reconciliation in ways that make visible contemporary manifestations of colonization.
In Defence of Westminster
Jerry and I get around. In 2011, we moved from the USA to Spain. We now live near Málaga. Jerry y yo nos movemos. En 2011, nos mudamos de EEUU a España. Ahora vivimos cerca de Málaga.
Information on Toronto's history
Heritage, it's in our nature.
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Stories, Excerpts, Backroads
Alberghi, Hotels, contract e altro..
... Soyons... Joyeux !!!
A place for Beards to contemplate and grow their souls.
Tutto iniziò con Memorie di Adriano, sulle strade dell'Impero Romano tra foto, storia e racconti! It all began with Memoirs of Hadrian, on the roads of the Roman Empire among photos, history and stories!
To live is to battle with trolls in the vaults of heart and brain. To write; this is to sit in judgment over one's Self. Henrik Ibsen
Expressions of male masculinity, sensuality, and sexuality.
Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
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Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
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Landscapes and more by impressionist painter Terrill Welch
Remembering that life is a comedy and the world is a small town.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown
Stories in words and pictures
So Many Years of Experience But Still Making Mistakes!
two guys making out & trying to make it
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”/Let us go and make our visit.
Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border
Procrastination is the sincerest form of optimism
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Join me as we wind back the time in Ottawa.