Burial at Sea

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My father died on July 12, 2015 suddenly in his favourite store Holt & Renfrew on Sherbrooke street West in Montreal, it was all very quick and sudden, he was 85 years old. My mother had died two years prior to him and he had predicted that he would follow her two years later.

In the meantime he had been quietly looking into funeral arrangements for himself and was shocked and scandalized at the prices for a simple funeral. He thought the whole thing awful and a money grab, his idea was that once you are dead what do you care what a casket looks like or for flower arrangements or even all the other trappings. So he knew quite a few doctors at the Medical Faculty of McGill University and had arranged medical conferences for them and their colleagues in the hotel he managed. In the last ten years of his life he had become a regular at the Emergency room of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and the doctors knew him well.  My Dad decided that he would give his body to medical science. He filled out all the paper work and spoke to the Faculty Director and his own doctor about what would happen once he crossed over to the other side. He had also told us of his wishes and made them quite clear to us, there was no changing them.

Us kids had decided to respect both our mother and our father’s wishes and went along.

In the last few days, Medical Faculty at McGill contacted us to say that they no longer needed the remains and that a special service would be held in June to commemorate him and those who had given their bodies to science. The Faculty does this every year and they bury the remains in their cemetery on the Mount Royal. We requested his ashes be returned to us, our father wanted to be buried at sea.

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Dad in Greece with the Aegean Sea behind him.

Luckily all three of us live by the seashore so it will be easy to arrange.

 

 

a bit of new

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I received an email today from one of the many sites I follow in Rome on museums and new exhibits. Since 2009 I have been following developments around the restoration of the Mausoleum of the first Emperor, Augustus whose life and reign influenced so much our world to this day. The Mausoleum which is in the centre of the city can be missed easily if you don’t look for it, despite the fact it is gigantic.

The mobile phone company TIM is investing some 4 million Euros in archeological work of restoration and consolidation of this ancient monument built some 2026 years ago for the first imperial dynasty, the Julio-Claudian. This dynasty gave us Octavian later known as Augustus, his adopted son Tiberius, his nephew Caligula, his other nephew Claudius and finally the adopted son of Claudius, Nero. The line then dies out and is replaced by the next dynasty the Flavians, with emperors Vespasian, Titus, Domitian who built the Colosseum and much of Rome after the many fires under Nero.

Augustus died at Nola at the age of 77 after eating far too many figs which he loved in 14 AD. His wife Empress Livia will take the body back to Rome in a grand procession which will take 14 days to reach the city. After several days of Funeral games and oration, his remains will be cremated and entered into the Mausoleum. The building itself stood as a Mausoleum until the fourth century and many other relatives of Augustus where also interred buried inside. In the centuries to follow it will be used as a fortress, a bullring, a theatre and opera house. In 1928, Prince Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi as Governor of Rome proposed that the Mausoleum be returned to its original function and presented as an ancient ruin.

I witnessed the first clearing around the Mausoleum around 2009-2010 it was very interesting to see the soil at the base being cleared. The Mausoleum today stands below street level or at the level of the ancient city.

This link: http://www.mausoleodiaugusto.it/en/  will give you the complete history and what is now going to happen to create a new museum and green area around the building.

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The Mausoleum of Augustus as it appeared in Antiquity

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The Mausoleum as it appears today, it is next to another famous building of the era of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, which is splendidly well preserved and housed inside its own museum building.

1 May 2016 and today

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Well it has been one year since we moved to Charlottetown,PEI. Last year when we arrived the weather was sunny and cool like today. We are well settled in our new home, busy with various volunteer jobs. Today I walked in the neighbourhood in late afternoon and took these pictures.

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We should not forget that they too came with us and are now also well settled in their new home.

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The Haviland Club on Dundas Esplanade which until 1919 was the US Consulate in Charlottetown.

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The Government Bog in front of the Gates of Fanningbank, the Residence of the Lieutenant Governor.

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Low tide in the bay at the entrance into the Strait of Northumberland.

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The houses on West avenue

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Today we are invited to Fanningbank (Government House) for the reception given by the Lieutenant Governor and PEI Symphony Board welcoming the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Maestro Alexander Shelley and violinist James Ehnes who came to Charlottetown for a concert to start the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Canada. I just hope they don’t ask me to do a tour of the house, since I volunteer as a docent.

Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Colin Davis conducting. Mozart, Magic Flute, the march of the Priests.

 

 

Lobster Season

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Yes the lobster Season is OPEN, the boats left the harbours around the Island. Here is a beautiful picture of the boats as they go out. Probably around Rustico which is 30 minutes from my place. Really nice to see.

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My favourite lobster recipe is Lobster Thermidor

Lobster Thermidor is a French dish consisting of a creamy mixture of cooked lobster meat, egg yolks, and brandy (often cognac), stuffed into a lobster shell. It can also be served with an oven-browned cheese crust, typically Gruyère. The sauce must contain mustard (typically powdered mustard).

This version, by 1940s Gourmet chef Louis P. De Gouy

INGREDIENTS

2 (1 1/2-lb) live lobsters
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 lb mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 cup heavy cream, scalded
2 large egg yolks

PREPARATION

Plunge lobsters headfirst into an 8-quart pot of boiling salted water*. Loosely cover pot and cook lobsters over moderately high heat 9 minutes from time they enter water, then transfer with tongs to sink to cool.
When lobsters are cool enough to handle, twist off claws and crack them, then remove meat. Halve lobsters lengthwise with kitchen shears, beginning from tail end, then remove tail meat, reserving shells. Cut all lobster meat into 1/4-inch pieces. Discard any remaining lobster innards, then rinse and dry shells.
Heat butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook mushrooms, stirring, until liquid that mushrooms give off is evaporated and they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add lobster meat, paprika, salt, and pepper and reduce heat to low. Cook, shaking pan gently, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon Sherry and 1/2 cup hot cream and simmer 5 minutes.
Whisk together yolks and remaining tablespoon Sherry in a small bowl. Slowly pour remaining 1/2 cup hot cream into yolks, whisking constantly, and transfer to a small heavy saucepan. Cook custard over very low heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened and registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Add custard to lobster mixture, stirring gently.
Preheat broiler.
Arrange lobster shells, cut sides up, in a shallow baking pan and spoon lobster with some of sauce into shells. Broil lobsters 6 inches from heat until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts water.

 

Spring is here

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Spring in Salzburg. Photo taken a few years ago in May while attending the SALZBURGER FESTSPIELE PFINGSTEN, a small city which kept all of its 18th century charm.

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How we enjoyed going there, year after year. If you want to see the program for this year 2017 click here: http://www.salzburgerfestspiele.at/whitsun/opera

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Having a drink of bubbly at the Café Bazar, my favourite spot.

Today the weather was so nice, it reminded me of Salzburg.

Well the burger love Festival ends this weekend and my favourite burger was done by Chef Emily Wells of the Mill in New Glasgow on the Clyde River, PEI.

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A great spot and only 30 minutes from our house. The food is always good.

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Last Sunday we went to the Concert of the PEI Symphony with guest soloist Mark Djokic, canadian violin award winning player of great talent. He played the Sibelius violin concerto which is notoriously difficult and was composed by Sibelius to be a piece which presented challenges to the violinist. Djokic made it look so easy.

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Mark Djokic was born in Halifax, N.S. his violin is a rare instrument of great quality,

Marc first studied violin with his father, violinist Philippe Djokic, one of Canada’s great soloists and a pupil of the master Ivan Galamian. Marc made his first orchestra debut at 14, won the Governor General’s Millennium Award at 20, and at 23 was featured on Bravo! television series, The Classical Now. A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Marc Djokic is known for his powerful and virtuosic performances. A past winner of Quebec’s Prix Opus and Canada Council’s Instrument Bank among numerous other prizes, Marc performs frequently as soloist with Canada’s top orchestras and in chamber music festivals across North America. His concerts have also been frequently broadcast by CBC Radio and Espace Musique. From the Jeunesses Musicales tour to Debut Atlantic, Marc has toured several times throughout Canada. From 2015 to 2017 the classical music channel NONCERTO produced more than 45 music videos featuring Marc and his collaborations, filmed throughout Canada featuring its unique, historical and cultural locations.

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Well they are finally starting on the complete re-building of the old Legislative Building in Charlottetown built in 1847 by Isaac Smith, Province House needs a facelift.

I was able to sneek a photo of the original entrance hall before the workers set-up the fendes around the building. Note the floor in flag stones. The neon lights are modern additions hopefully will be gone with the renovations.

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Now closed for the next 5 years.

Finally the beach at Brackley Point, quiet and deserted.

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Music I listen to

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Often when I write a post on this blog, I will listen to music from the Internet Radio usually from a European Station, in Germany MDR or Switzerland or the Dutch NRK, sometimes from WETA, WCRI or Classical Wyoming in the US.

Recently I was listening to Roman Carnaval Ouverture by Berlioz, Mahler 6 Symphony, Variation on a French Mountain Air by Vincent D’Indy, Handel’s Sarabande and gigue or Glazunov Waltz no.2 or Dvorak Symphonic variations, among other things playing.

A bit eclectic but a nice mix to inspire.

Recently MAGAZINE the internet publication of the National Gallery of Canada had an article on a famous painting by Robert Harris that I presented to visitors at the NGC many times. It has been restored recently by Curator Tasia Bulger for the first time in 88 years. A Meeting of the School Trustees, painted in 1885. A scene in a typical one room school house which was a feature in rural PEI for many years until 40 years ago. Robert Harris often used his wife Elizabeth Putnam as a model in his paintings as is the case here. Another relative, his uncle Joseph Stretch of Long Creek PEI is the man sitting with his fist on the table looking stern. The teacher, a woman, in a conservative rural environment at the end of the 19th century is seen as the educated outsider, trying to convince the farmers/trustees of the need for their support for education. The conflict in this scene though it was some 132 years ago, could have happened just last week, again the school question was discussed on the Island very publicly and the old conflict between rural and urban area surfaced.

For a full description click on the link below;

http://www.ngcmagazine.ca/features/in-the-spotlight-conserving-a-meeting-of-the-school-trustees-by-robert-harris#Comments

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This is what the painting looks like now, with the old yellow varnish removed. 

Born in Wales in 1849, Robert Harris’ family moved to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in 1856, where he was raised. He studied painting in Boston, London, and Paris, and spent most of his adult life working as a portrait artist in Montreal. Following the successful reception of his large-scale group portrait, The Fathers of Confederation (1883), which was destroyed in 1917 in the fire of the Parliament building in Ottawa, Harris became interested in creating a painting for the newly founded National Gallery of Canada, which had just begun purchasing works of art for its collection.

It was suggested by the late Director of the Art Gallery of the Confederation Centre, Moncrieff Williamson in his book, Island Painter: The Life of Robert Harris (1849–1919), that the subject matter was based on an actual conversation in August 1885 between Harris and Long Creek schoolteacher, Kate Henderson, during a visit by Harris to his family in PEI.

The name “Kate Henderson” is written on a booklet on the desk, along with “Pine Creek School” — a fictional school based on the one-room schoolhouse in Long Creek, PEI. However, a deeper look into PEI’s Annual Public School and Education Reports and census data from the 1880s reveals that no women taught in Long Creek at that time, and the sole Catherine Henderson teaching in PEI was only recorded as active between 1876 and 1883, in Alma, Crapaud, Little York, and Poplar Grove.

Remarkably, this Catherine Henderson was born in Lot 31, a portion of which is now North Wiltshire, PEI . In terms of subject choice and the structured, academic treatment, the painting was in part painted to catch the eye of the recently founded National Gallery of Canada.

 

Historical black holes

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For the 150th Anniversary of Canada’s union into a single Nation (1867-2017) the Department of Heritage has sponsored a televised serial presented by the CBC entitled the Story of Us.  It’s been a disaster from the get go, a producer was hired to produce these televised shows on what is suppose to be our National history and many scholars were consulted. The biggest problem of the entire series is the omissions of many very foundational moments in the history of Canada. The producer decided to start the story in 1608 with the founding of the City of Quebec, then it jumps to the Seven Years War and the battle of the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City in 1759.

Right away the screaming started not only from the public but from Provincial Governments who felt slighted by the omissions. The Story of Canada really starts for the French settlers in 1534 with the arrival of Jacques Cartier in the Gaspé Peninsula. The settlements of Louisbourg and Isle Royale, today’s Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and the Deportation of the Acadiens known as le grand dérangement 1755-1764 are completely missing and not mentioned. Given that these events by modern standard can be seen as British war crimes and crimes against humanity and help explain how the British came to control North America and much of the social tensions which exist to this day in Canada, it is rather strange that the CBC and the Office of the Minister Mélanie Joly gave the go ahead speaks of the lack of historical education of Ms Joly and the usual nonchalance of the CBC in such matters.

The same then happens for the period 1765 to 1864, one hundred years of history which shaped events that led to the Conference of Charlottetown in 1864 is cut out of the narrative. The CBC explained that they had to make choices and preferred to concentrate on what can only be described as Pop History. Given the lack of knowledge of our National History by the majority of Canadians, this if very unfortunate but illustrates a greater problem which is the little value placed on education in general by institutions like the CBC and our Federal Government. A cynic might say that the politicians try to control the official narrative too closely to suit their own purposes.

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Art in the XXth Century

I work as a volunteer at the Art gallery of the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown. I have previously also worked at the National Gallery in Ottawa. Showing art to people and speaking to them about the art works on display is very interesting thing to do. But I have always said that Art only matters if people take an interest in it. The public can come to love an Art work by understanding it, even if it is difficult to approach at first. I see artist like Peter Laszlo Peri,(1899-1967) as artists who made art approachable and more accessible with his idea of having it in public for all to see.

Peter Laszlo Peri, the émigré artist, lived a most extraordinary life. By his death in 1967, he had left an innovative body of work that was characterised by the social awareness of his life and the spirit of the post-war years. Peri’s most famous work, The Sunbathers, created for the Festival of Britain in 1951 […]

via ‘It’s the people who matter’: The Post-War Public Art of Peter Laszlo Peri — Heritage Calling

Lunedi Lunacy

Those two Puppets are so funny.

Willy Or Won't He

aiweiweiIt has been suggested in one or two quarters that I tend to dwell on things of the past in my artistically inspired postings; that I am stuck in the Pre-modern world.  In an effort to dispel that base calumny I thought I’d post an art review on one of the darlings of the post-modern conceptional artistic world: Ai WeiWei.  Back in 2010 the Tate Gallery mounted (?) one of his works in the Turbine Hall – millions of tiny ceramic handcrafted sunflower seeds.  The artist’s explanation of the work and a fascinating film on its creation can be found here – but in the mean time who better to talk about the work of this popular artist than my old friends at the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.

And it has also been remarked upon – okay one snarky comment from a person, who like his offspring, shall remain…

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