Rome

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The 21 April is the Birthday of Rome, Maggior di Roma is an expression in Italian meaning Rome is greatest. Rome celebrates its 2,772nd birthday on 21 April which this year coincides with Easter Sunday festivities. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.

Rome is known as the Eternal City even among the ancient Romans themselves. It was so called because the Romans thought that no matter what happened to the world, no matter how many other empires might rise and fall, Rome would go on forever. Romans still think this way today. Tu non vedrai nessuna cosa al mondo maggior di Roma. 

Puccini composed this Hymn to Rome in 1919 to celebrate the victories of Italy in the First World War and its liberation from Austrian dominance. It became in a way its Birthday song. Puccini got his inspiration from an ancient poem, “Carmen Saeculare” (literally, “Secular Hymn”, usually translated as “Song of the Ages”), is a hymn or ode by the Roman lyric poet Horace, commissioned by Emperor Augustus in 17 BC. It is collection of mythological and religious verses encouraging the restoration of the tradition and the glorification of the gods, particularly Apollo, Diana, Jupiter and Venus.

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A tragic accident

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Yesterday afternoon was for a Good Friday a strange day, one full of foreboding, I had a bad feeling about the day, it was raining and gray, the Hillsborough river was calm. I swung by the Club to discover that the ceiling in the Parlour of the house was damaged by water infiltration, the elaborate plaster had fallen to the ground, water and debris on the floor.  Emergency calls were made to the roofing company. I went home and again driving by the Landing Marina I notice 3 ambulances and fire trucks and a zodiac boat used for rescue in the harbour. I wondered what was going on, I saw the zodiac boat go into the river and bring back bodies, the responders were calm and I thought something terrible happened, indeed it had. Just two hours later, I read on the page of the Green Party a cryptic message about condolences and death, a tragedy, but what could it be. Then a white bicycle appeared on a black cover, I immediately thought of my friend Josh Underhay who is a candidate for the Green Party in this election. The candidate in my district told me that Josh and his son Oliver had died in a canoeing accident that afternoon, yes those bodies, it was them. I simply cannot believe it. Josh was a great school teacher, he invited me during my campaign last October to talk to his class about voting and democracy, the kids were well prepared and asked good questions. He was also a musician and trumpet player, he spoke 4 languages fluently, one being Mandarin. He advocated for cycling in the city and the bicycle was his symbol.

He was well travelled and had lived abroad. He leaves behind his wife and another very young son. I met his mother just last week and she told me that Josh as a kid was always curious about things and always enquiring, a very bright boy he was. Indeed as a person he was one of a kind, everyone liked him, thoughtful and generous, open to all people. We should have more people like him. His son Oliver was also a clever fellow and had musical leanings. So sad that he should die so very young with his father.

The campaigning is suspended today by all parties as a tribute to this exceptional person.  In his district 9 the other candidates took down their electoral signs so only his appear. The Prime Minister of Canada sent condolences. Today is a foggy, dark dreary day with misty rain. A memorial service was held at the Haviland Club at 1pm.

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Photos Courtesy of Jing on Island, who comes to all musical events and takes great photos of musicians and bands.

Canadian Painter

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We were in Halifax about 3 weeks ago, an easy drive of 3 hours from Charlottetown across the Sea Bridge down to Truro and a hop and a skip to Halifax. This time around I wanted to visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to see the collection.

The Art gallery is housed in 2 buildings next to each other, one is an old government building facing the Legislature and the other is an Italianate style stone building called the Dominion building which has a statue of Britannia sitting on the roof.

The two building have an underground passageway connecting them. The collection of Canadian art is of good quality and interesting featuring many artists. The one in particular I wanted to see  was the works of Maud Lewis (1903-1970) born in Yarmouth and died in Digby, Nova Scotia. She married in 1938 Everett Lewis. Prior to being married Maud had a daughter out of wedlock named Catherine Dowley. Maud never acknowledged her daughter who moved to Ontario and had a family of her own.

I had heard much about Maud Lewis and she is one of those painters discovered late in life by the art world and the public and became a celebrity, though that did not enrich her at all. Today she is an icon in the Canadian art world for her simple ”naif” or folk art style of painting. Maud (Dowley) Lewis came from a simple background, her family were tradespeople, her father John was well known in Yarmouth for making good quality leather harness and other leather goods.  Maud was born suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and for the rest of her life suffered from this crippling disease. She was a very small women described as gnome like and her hands were severely deformed.

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Her interest in art came from her mother Agnes who would paint Christmas cards and sell them to supplement the family’s income.  After her parents death Maud lived as a recluse and her only brother grew distant and rarely saw her.

At the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia a section of the museum is dedicated to her and her tiny little house in which she lived with her husband Everett Lewis, it has been transported from its original site and reconstructed for visitors to see.  It is as it was during her life, quite small, basically a one room house, with all the furniture, paint brushes and other items one finds in a house. What is so special about this little tiny house, is that Maud Lewis painted and decorated every inch of the place inside and out including the glass windows.

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The house as it appears re-installed inside the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia today.

Her paintings are joyful and full of vibrant colours, showing life and scenes around her and what she saw.

Though I was not particularly interested in Maud Lewis as a painter despite having heard of her, coming to the gallery and seeing her tiny house and several of her paintings, I was enchanted by her work. It was I think the simple beauty of it all, childlike quality and the joy which radiated from her work. She has no agenda, no ideology, no philosophy or trying to pass a message. It is simply art for the beauty of it.

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For this Good Friday

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I was thinking of a famous church today in Barcelona in Catalonia. This church has been in construction for 137 years and it is estimated that it will be completed by 2026.  I remember studying it in school 50 years ago when General Franco was the dictator in Spain and the church was sitting idle with little work being done and no money to go forward. In the last 25 years things have changed and now with tourism money is fuelling a campaign for the completion of the building. Teams of architects and artists are carving stones and following the plans of the original architect Antoni Gaudi making is vision reality.

There is a beautiful blog on this project. See the link https://blog.sagradafamilia.org

I had the chance to visit the church several times between 1998 and 2012 and the progress is impressive. All the elements in the vision of Gaudi had to have a special significance on the Creation, nature and God.

If you have a chance to visit Barcelona, do drop by for a visit.

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Exciting times

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We are going into Easter Weekend and so far 36% have voted in this Provincial election on Prince Edward Island out of a possible 100,000 voters. The advance polling days are very popular here.  This election we are voting to elect Members of the Provincial Legislature and we are also voting to change the way we vote hopefully adopting a system which is used in 90 countries around the World, called Mix Member Proportional or MMP for short. The MMP system is one the current government wants defeated but due to public pressure was forced into offering a referendum to settle the matter. We did have a non binding Plebiscite 15 months ago the MMP idea won then but the Premier of PEI, Wade MacLaughlan refused to recognized the results. He was under pressure from Ottawa, PM Trudeau did not want the results acknowledged. Richard Brown a Minister of the PEI government gave protesters the bird and another minister Jordan Brown (not related) openly laughed at protesters. This infuriated the average voters, people on PEI like politicians to be polite and courteous, though politics on the Island is a blood sport.

MMP in short gives seats based on the proportion of votes a party gets during an election.  If a party gets 30% of the votes cast then it would get 30% of the seats, no more. This is not what is happening now. The last Provincial Election saw results which favoured the Liberal Party in a disproportionate way. With only 36% of the votes, you get 100% of the power. Also the rural areas are not well represented if compared to the Charlottetown the Capital and other towns like Summerside. The MMP would correct that giving rural areas far more representation in the Legislature.

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The old electoral system needs to change because it is very unfair to electors and is a relic of the old Colonial past under British rule favouring the Elites when women and the common man did not have a vote. Only the Landowners voted and distributed power amongst themselves.

As of Noon on 18 April the latest poll shows a Majority Green Party, an opposition composed of the Conservative Party and the Liberals might get some or no seats. This trend has maintained itself for 3 months now in every poll.  I can’t wait for Tuesday 23 April Election Day. PEI stands to make Canadian History by electing the first Greeen Party into Government and if the MMP is adopted we would be the first in Canada. It would send a serious message to Prime Minister Trudeau who had promised more than 1025 times in speeches to instaure such a system only to abandon the idea abruptly two years ago.

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 Some of the people I work with at the Green Party. 

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Provincial Elections PEI

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Well it seems that we are in election season in Canada. Today Alberta elected an Alt-Right Government, but then that is Alberta for you, a wealthy province with a population known for its racism and bigotry and proud of it. The exception being the 2 large Cities of Calgary and Edmonton who tend to be more progressive compared to the rural areas. The new Premier is Jason Kenney, a closet case, former Federal Minister in the Harper Regime. He is a bigot, a racist, etc and when the media brings it up he simply scoffs saying he was misquoted. We all heard that before. Kenney  wants to declare war on Canada, imagine the Premier of a Province with a 3 million population. Sad little man.

Newfoundland and Labrador is going to the Polls on May 12 and in PEI we are in the final days of our election which promises, if the projections hold, to give us the first Green Party Government.  Very exciting for us in PEI it would finally break the old feudal system of a handful of families ruling the Province as personal property. The current Premier Wade MacLaughlan, Liberal, is very unpopular. A man who came in 4 years ago with lots of high promises and hopes that things would change and nothing did. The Conservatives are no where with 6 leaders in 9 years and a fear mongering agenda. The NDP have two or three candidates and no one believes they will be able to have even one person elected. This leaves the Green with Leader Peter Bevan-Baker who has done a superb campaign, people see him as a gentleman, polite and courteous. Addressing every issue and presenting a no nonsense approach to social questions. I have spoken with him several times in the last 3 years and I am impressed by him. I remember the first time I saw him in a coffee shop near the Legislature, he was busy talking to his staff and it looked like a meeting of sorts over coffee. I nonetheless went up to him, apologize for disturbing their conversation, we shook hands and he asked me a few questions and we had a short conversation but it was very natural and interesting. He also during my own campaign for Municipal Office, listen to what I had to say and engaged me in conversation.  On the other hand I had a chance also to speak several times with the Premier but his manner is totally different, more aloof, distant and not interested. A very different experience.

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Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Green Party PEI.

PEI needs a change politically, the current system has produced nothing but stagnation for the last 100 years and the same people and families are always in power or in plum jobs. Corruption is rampant, the mafia could take lessons from the old style politicians here.

The hope is that with a Green party in power things can change. That is what we are all hoping for.

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Also with this election, a referendum is being held to change the way we vote. Currently we have the old British system of First past the Post (FPTP) and the choice is to change it to MMP or Mix member proportional which makes every vote count and gives a more efficient level of representation. The old parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives are against any change to the voting system. If we adopt MMP system then we will be the first in North America to do so. If the Green’s are elected, the are currently leading we would also be the first in Canada to elect a Green Party Government. So this small island province of 150,000 people could make history.

Already with advance voting, some 30% of the electorate have voted, including me. The actual election day is Tuesday 23 April.

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Gone

What a day and who can imagine such a tragedy. Very sad indeed to see such a great building which just celebrated 850 years go up in smoke in 3 hours. Of course it can be repaired but the old is gone. Just goes to show how life and all things in this world are temporary.

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Notre Dame de Paris built between 1163 to 1345, destroyed by fire 15 April 2019.

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Paris 1948

Ragnarök

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Love these old songs 1949 Louis Armstrong. It was a simpler time nothing like today.

I was parking at the supermarket today and the radio it was Saturday Afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera. It use to brought to us all by Texaco now it’s a luxury home builder.

The host of the show Mary Jo Heath mentioned that in the Opera Siegfried by Richard Wagner, the wanderer who is Wotan in disguise asked a question of Erda the Earth goddess about the future. Her reply about Ragnarök and the Apocalypse predicts terrible events to come. The Host made the connection with a series of articles in the New York Times this week on climate change and how human behaviour will not change enough to save us all from the great calamity around 2030 which will signal our end.

Just last week an eminent scientist in Canada was interviewed by Radio-Canada on climate change which is happening twice as fast here than anywhere else due to climatic conditions. The experts said when asked about our collective future, that he had NO hope for humanity, in his words it is too late now. This is quite chilling to hear.

So as I walked to the store from my car, this young family came by and I thought these little kids will probably not have much of a future and their parents are probably unaware. Too many people refuse to believe and become agitated when you point out the dangers.

In Canada 84% of the population is quite worried about the climate and the environment but we still have Conservative politicians who bank on ignorance to get elected.

So I listen to the old tunes from a less threatening time, all we had to worry about then was Atomic warfare.

Battered and bruised

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I wanted to write about the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia we visited in Halifax last week. The City is not far from us at all and an easy ride, it also has great restaurants and many nice sights.

Instead I will speak of a little drama in my life which happened last night at the Club. As a retired person you would never know that I am retired, I volunteer in many causes and work often 30 to 40 hours a week, here and there. Currently I am involved in the renovation and redecoration of several rooms at the Haviland Club, an old mansion celebrating 150 years since its construction in 1869 by a young widow of 33 and single parent Esther Full Lowden, she was also a business women. Her older husband George had died suddenly in 1864 at age 47. She was left with a shipping empire and had to navigate the difficulty of being a women in an age when women were not heard from nor voted, in a very narrow minded society on a small Island.

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The house at no. 2 Haviland street is in the Italianate style its quite beautiful and has many interesting features. Its a big job but an interesting one renovating the rooms but it is fascinating as you learn the history of this building.

We are also now in the midst of a Provincial Election campaign voting day is April 23, a strange date since is falls immediately after Easter and in Canada both Friday and Monday of the Easter weekend are holidays and you cannot campaign on Easter Sunday, nor on Good Friday, bad form.

I have been helping out our candidate in District 12 which means canvassing door to door. This week the winds have been very strong and cold even if the days were sunny. I was over tired and kept going anyway. Skipping lunch etc… You know sometimes you just have to stop and have a coffee and a sit down, something I have to learn, I am not 20 anymore.

So on Friday afternoon I went from canvassing on the streets to Party HQ to the Club for pizza and a glass of wine, I suddenly felt very dizzy and I knew I was going to faint. The Club has security cameras and this episode showed how well they work. I apparently fainted twice, broke my glasses and banged my head on a pillar thus the big bruise on my forehead. When I came to I was in the hallway with people around me and the paramedics. Off we went to the hospital sirens blaring. I apparently fainted in ER, have no recollection of that either. Everyone saw the security film at the Club and at the Hospital, I did not, made me smile.

I did ask Will to take the photo of me in ER, it just struck me as funny. We are also planning to rebuild the wheelchair ramp at the Club, a fellow club member had been after me on that topic, so I asked the paramedics how they found it structurally, it’s ok but could be a lot better, it is wood and dates from 1997. I got excellent care at the hospital, very kind and attentive staff, could not ask for anything more. Thank you to all at the QEH in Charlottetown.

The next day I was very tired and still a bit uncomfortable. I will be going back to my doctor to see what can be done about this despite the fact that after all the tests at the Hospital all was normal. Answered all the strange questions they ask to see if you are coherent, no problems there. So life goes on, but at a slower pace, no need to kill myself, I am retired after all.

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Needless to say this photo is unretouched.

 

 

 

203 miles or 3 hours and 28 min.

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This is the distance between Charlottetown PEI and Halifax N.S. by car or 3 hours and 28 min. A lot of people will go to Halifax for the day.  Halifax is an old sea port on the Atlantic, population half a million people compared to the small town status of 36,000 for Charlottetown.

Travelling by road to Halifax is not that difficult and the road is quite nice. You get a very different vibe as you cross from one province to another, once over the sea bridge to New Brunswick and then down the Highway to Nova Scotia, you know you crossed a border, I don’t know how that is done but everything looks different in the scenery despite being still in the Maritimes.

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Halifax with its famous Citadelle. 

We are going for a few days for a change of scenery and to see friends and try out new restaurants and old favourites, staying in the historical downtown. The weather looks like it will be warmer.

We hope to return to a favourite of ours Bar Kismet, barkismet.com   excellent cocktails and superb cuisine and also try new places, Ostrich Club https://theostrichclub.ca and Field Guide   https://fieldguidehfx.com.

There will be shopping and just plain fun. As I write this the Premier of PEI has just announced that the Provincial Election for the Legislature is now underway. He had been to see the Lieutenant Governor, H.H. Antoinette Perry today to ask for her to dissolve the Legislature so the election could take place. Saw the Premier a few days ago and he looked preoccupied and was not his usual talkative self. Everyone was expecting him to announce we would be going to the polls in April and yes we are on 23 April just after Easter weekend. The Green Party is very strong in the polls right now and the Liberals have been in Office for 12 years, many feel it is time for a change.

Looking forward to driving to Halifax, should be fun. The road will be Charlottetown to the bridge at Borden, then across the Strait 12Km, to Sackville, N.B. to Amherst, N.S. down to  Truro and straight to Halifax.

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