June 2007


SWEET

Well as I’ve said before I’m the micro manager, always prepared well in advance, so after last Saturday I had already organized my photo for this Saturday. I happened to mention the theme, Fake, to Vijay, a new participant in the Saturday Photo Hunt, over at Scan Man’s Notes. Luckily he emailed me and set me straight, “Sweet, this week, JMB.” Well thanks to him I’m not making a fool of myself and I now have an extra week to probably change my mind about Fake.

So for the enjoyment of your SWEET TOOTH, here are some delights I found at Granville Island on Thursday with my walking group.

This would look good for St Patrick’s Day, don’t you think?

Perhaps you would find a fruit flan more to your taste. Enjoy!

This young man is making fudge for the Old World Fudge stall.



Here are the fruits of his labour, if you want to purchase them



If you wish to join the Saturday Photo Hunt or check out the blogroll click on the appropriate spot on my side bar.

HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU ALL!

SWEET

Well as I’ve said before I’m the micro manager, always prepared well in advance, so after last Saturday I had already organized my photo for this Saturday. I happened to mention the theme, Fake, to Vijay, a new participant in the Saturday Photo Hunt, over at Scan Man’s Notes. Luckily he emailed me and set me straight, “Sweet, this week, JMB.” Well thanks to him I’m not making a fool of myself and I now have an extra week to probably change my mind about Fake.

So for the enjoyment of your SWEET TOOTH, here are some delights I found at Granville Island on Thursday with my walking group.

This would look good for St Patrick’s Day, don’t you think?

Perhaps you would find a fruit flan more to your taste. Enjoy!

This young man is making fudge for the Old World Fudge stall.



Here are the fruits of his labour, if you want to purchase them



If you wish to join the Saturday Photo Hunt or check out the blogroll click on the appropriate spot on my side bar.

HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU ALL!

In case you think that I travel only to Italy, which couldn’t be further from the truth, I give you the story of two weeks we spent in Japan in 1991.

My husband, the chemistry professor, was invited to take part in an exchange with a professor from the University of Yokohama, at their initiative. He was asked to give a series of lectures over one week to a group of graduate students. Later the professor, K, would come to Vancouver to do the same. Naturally I refused to be left behind, even though I was working, and after arranging holiday leave for me we decided to spend an extra week there, after his course was completed. Since I was paying for my airfare we looked around to find the cheapest fare and found it was offered by JAL, or the Japanese airline company. Funnily enough, when K came to Vancouver he found the cheapest fare by far was on the Canadian airline company.

When we arrived at the Narita airport, outside Tokyo, we were met by K who accompanied us on the very comfortable train journey into Tokyo. There our overnight hotel was very Western, but with the world’s smallest bathtub. The next day we were taken to a high rise residence owned by the University of Yokohama where foreign students, mainly graduate students, were able to stay during their time in Japan. We had a very comfortable room there, with meals taken in their cafeteria, and while Alan went to the university each day I began to explore Yokohama.

Before we went to Japan I had briefly looked at a book about elementary Japanese. The wonderful thing about this language is that, like Italian, every letter is pronounced and there is no emphasis placed on any syllable, so it is quite easy to pronounce. Of course I only managed to learn a very few phrases in the short time I had, but I could say hello and goodbye and thank you and bow with the best of them. Of course, as we all know, Japanese is written using Kanji, which are Chinese characters borrowed by the Japanese who had no written language at the time. So when you look at a map, even though you know the street name is pronounced Kanton Road, its Kanji written symbols on the road sign are a mystery to the Western eye.

So there I was in Yokohama, ready to explore the city, but with a map which didn’t help much. I had to navigate by going two blocks up one block across and so on. Well you get the picture. I was shown where the places I wanted to visit were on the map by people at the front desk of the residence, then I had to go forward always remembering landmarks so that I could return by travelling in reverse. Well it seemed to work and, although any number of lovely Japanese people, with little English, rushed up and tried to help the lady with map, I basically had to rely on figuring it out for myself. I thought, that since Yokohama is a major port city, there would be many foreigners, as there were in days gone by. But you know, during that week I never saw another Caucasian person around the city.

So let me tell you a little about Yokohama, which is a sister city and sister port to Vancouver. Before 1859 it was a sleepy little village, but on the signing by Japan of the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity, followed by treaties with other nations, the port opened in June of 1859 and since then Yokohama has developed into a thriving city of 3.6 million people. It’s the second largest in Japan, after Tokyo, which it abuts and frankly it’s difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. Despite being completely destroyed by an major earthquake in 1923 and once again by the bombing during the Second World War it was completely rebuilt both times and remains one of Japan’s most most important ports.

Now you didn’t think you’d get this trip in one post, did you? No, this is Part I and you’ll have to return to hear more. Later. Yes, there will be photos.

Of course the Japanese doll above belongs to me. No, I didn’t buy it in Japan. It was a gift from a Japanese graduate student of my husband who came to work with him in the early sixties. Since the Japanese are so polite and nod and smile I don’t think he realized for the first six months that she didn’t really understand him. Of course by that time, she did. The doll is about 15 inches high and I never could get a glass case for her since she is holding a horse on a stick, which you can’t see, behind her. So I dust her every so often with the vacuum attachment, but she’ll never be an heirloom, although she is forty years old at least.

In case you think that I travel only to Italy, which couldn’t be further from the truth, I give you the story of two weeks we spent in Japan in 1991.

My husband, the chemistry professor, was invited to take part in an exchange with a professor from the University of Yokohama, at their initiative. He was asked to give a series of lectures over one week to a group of graduate students. Later the professor, K, would come to Vancouver to do the same. Naturally I refused to be left behind, even though I was working, and after arranging holiday leave for me we decided to spend an extra week there, after his course was completed. Since I was paying for my airfare we looked around to find the cheapest fare and found it was offered by JAL, or the Japanese airline company. Funnily enough, when K came to Vancouver he found the cheapest fare by far was on the Canadian airline company.

When we arrived at the Narita airport, outside Tokyo, we were met by K who accompanied us on the very comfortable train journey into Tokyo. There our overnight hotel was very Western, but with the world’s smallest bathtub. The next day we were taken to a high rise residence owned by the University of Yokohama where foreign students, mainly graduate students, were able to stay during their time in Japan. We had a very comfortable room there, with meals taken in their cafeteria, and while Alan went to the university each day I began to explore Yokohama.

Before we went to Japan I had briefly looked at a book about elementary Japanese. The wonderful thing about this language is that, like Italian, every letter is pronounced and there is no emphasis placed on any syllable, so it is quite easy to pronounce. Of course I only managed to learn a very few phrases in the short time I had, but I could say hello and goodbye and thank you and bow with the best of them. Of course, as we all know, Japanese is written using Kanji, which are Chinese characters borrowed by the Japanese who had no written language at the time. So when you look at a map, even though you know the street name is pronounced Kanton Road, its Kanji written symbols on the road sign are a mystery to the Western eye.

So there I was in Yokohama, ready to explore the city, but with a map which didn’t help much. I had to navigate by going two blocks up one block across and so on. Well you get the picture. I was shown where the places I wanted to visit were on the map by people at the front desk of the residence, then I had to go forward always remembering landmarks so that I could return by travelling in reverse. Well it seemed to work and, although any number of lovely Japanese people, with little English, rushed up and tried to help the lady with map, I basically had to rely on figuring it out for myself. I thought, that since Yokohama is a major port city, there would be many foreigners, as there were in days gone by. But you know, during that week I never saw another Caucasian person around the city.

So let me tell you a little about Yokohama, which is a sister city and sister port to Vancouver. Before 1859 it was a sleepy little village, but on the signing by Japan of the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity, followed by treaties with other nations, the port opened in June of 1859 and since then Yokohama has developed into a thriving city of 3.6 million people. It’s the second largest in Japan, after Tokyo, which it abuts and frankly it’s difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. Despite being completely destroyed by an major earthquake in 1923 and once again by the bombing during the Second World War it was completely rebuilt both times and remains one of Japan’s most most important ports.

Now you didn’t think you’d get this trip in one post, did you? No, this is Part I and you’ll have to return to hear more. Later. Yes, there will be photos.

Of course the Japanese doll above belongs to me. No, I didn’t buy it in Japan. It was a gift from a Japanese graduate student of my husband who came to work with him in the early sixties. Since the Japanese are so polite and nod and smile I don’t think he realized for the first six months that she didn’t really understand him. Of course by that time, she did. The doll is about 15 inches high and I never could get a glass case for her since she is holding a horse on a stick, which you can’t see, behind her. So I dust her every so often with the vacuum attachment, but she’ll never be an heirloom, although she is forty years old at least.

Online Dating

Mingle 2

This has been doing the rounds on some of the blogs that I read, so I followed the link and found, just as I suspected, I am tame enough for G. In fact, all I scored was one mention of the word “death” . I’ll have to jazz things up a bit here in future. I think I should aim for PG at least. After all, everyone should have a goal. Congratulations to Addicted to Medblogs who finally got her blog rated R with this post.

On to another matter. Statistics. I have two counters on my sidebar and they never agree with each other. For the week June 18 to 24th I averaged 111 per day in Sitemeter, while my Bravenet statistics average 71 for the same period. I’m pretty sure it’s not me visiting my own site 40 times a day. According to Sitemeter, this week I went over 100 hits in a day for the first time and what’s more it continued for the next few days at least. Now I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone is popping over to read what I have to say. In fact I know that most of my hits come through Google searches for Westies. But why the sudden surge in Westie searches? That’s what I’m asking myself. But you’ve gotta love this chart. It makes the little old lady’s heart glad, even as her head knows it doesn’t mean a thing. I do know that I am now probably disqualified for the best little blogger category in the Blogpower awards. Too bad, so sad. Not really true, James. You know you can’t trust statistics and here’s the proof.

Nobody Important

Sitemeter Statistics

Bravenet statistics

Day Date Unique Visitors Above/Below
Sunday June 24, 2007 72 +1
Saturday June 23, 2007 64 -7
Friday June 22, 2007 83 +12
Thursday June 21, 2007 77 +6
Wednesday June 20, 2007 79 +8
Tuesday June 19, 2007 71 0
Monday June 18, 2007 55 -16
Average: 71
Next in this series of This and That is an award from a fellow blogger. I have no idea what it means nor where it originated, even after I tried to follow the links, but I am going to use it to introduce you to someone’s blog on my sidebar.

This award came to me from Ruth of Me, My Life, My Garden. I’ve just recently added Ruth to my sidebar because of her lovely garden. It’s a relatively small garden but chock full of beautiful flowers. There are no better gardeners in the world than the Brits. They garden in frightful weather and seem to get the best out of whatever space they have. She also takes wonderful photos and keeps another relatively new blog called From a Bee’s Eye View, on which she posts lovely close-up photos of flowers and insects. I only recently noticed that she has a total of five assorted blogs, so she’s a busy lady.

Ruth and her husband Mick built this lovely garden, but sadly Mick passed away in April after a long illness. So Ruth is bravely carrying on with keeping up the garden and I expect we shall see some very nice photos over the season.

By the way, another English garden that I visit is Mary’s, over at Big World … Small Garden.
Mary just started her blog and not only does she share her garden photos but she visits other gardens and posts about them too.


For the second time I have been awarded the Thinking Blogger award by a fellow British Columbia blogger, Smalltown RN at A Place I call Home. She said some very nice things about me which I do appreciate. She herself is a very proud BC resident and her blog is very enjoyable to read. Her posts cover a variety of topics, personal and otherwise, often nursing or medical related. She raised the topic of elderly drivers in a very interesting post recently, when she was confronted by a dilemma on this issue. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t pass this award on as only one of the five I passed it on to last time took it up. If you are on my sidebar you keep me thinking.

I think that is all for this post about This and That. It’s what I call a blog type post, not my normal output, but sometimes we all need to do this. I hope you were impressed by all that linking. Regular programming will resume in the near future.

Update: Actually I have three stat counters, although one was hidden, but no longer. Last Friday I had these 3 different counts: Sitemeter 121; Bravenet 86; Statcounter 99. Bravenet and Statcounter say they count unique visitors. Well who do you trust? Well what does it matter? Not a jot, just interesting.

Online Dating

Mingle 2

This has been doing the rounds on some of the blogs that I read, so I followed the link and found, just as I suspected, I am tame enough for G. In fact, all I scored was one mention of the word “death” . I’ll have to jazz things up a bit here in future. I think I should aim for PG at least. After all, everyone should have a goal. Congratulations to Addicted to Medblogs who finally got her blog rated R with this post.

On to another matter. Statistics. I have two counters on my sidebar and they never agree with each other. For the week June 18 to 24th I averaged 111 per day in Sitemeter, while my Bravenet statistics average 71 for the same period. I’m pretty sure it’s not me visiting my own site 40 times a day. According to Sitemeter, this week I went over 100 hits in a day for the first time and what’s more it continued for the next few days at least. Now I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone is popping over to read what I have to say. In fact I know that most of my hits come through Google searches for Westies. But why the sudden surge in Westie searches? That’s what I’m asking myself. But you’ve gotta love this chart. It makes the little old lady’s heart glad, even as her head knows it doesn’t mean a thing. I do know that I am now probably disqualified for the best little blogger category in the Blogpower awards. Too bad, so sad. Not really true, James. You know you can’t trust statistics and here’s the proof.

Nobody Important

Sitemeter Statistics

Bravenet statistics

Day Date Unique Visitors Above/Below
Sunday June 24, 2007 72 +1
Saturday June 23, 2007 64 -7
Friday June 22, 2007 83 +12
Thursday June 21, 2007 77 +6
Wednesday June 20, 2007 79 +8
Tuesday June 19, 2007 71 0
Monday June 18, 2007 55 -16
Average: 71
Next in this series of This and That is an award from a fellow blogger. I have no idea what it means nor where it originated, even after I tried to follow the links, but I am going to use it to introduce you to someone’s blog on my sidebar.

This award came to me from Ruth of Me, My Life, My Garden. I’ve just recently added Ruth to my sidebar because of her lovely garden. It’s a relatively small garden but chock full of beautiful flowers. There are no better gardeners in the world than the Brits. They garden in frightful weather and seem to get the best out of whatever space they have. She also takes wonderful photos and keeps another relatively new blog called From a Bee’s Eye View, on which she posts lovely close-up photos of flowers and insects. I only recently noticed that she has a total of five assorted blogs, so she’s a busy lady.

Ruth and her husband Mick built this lovely garden, but sadly Mick passed away in April after a long illness. So Ruth is bravely carrying on with keeping up the garden and I expect we shall see some very nice photos over the season.

By the way, another English garden that I visit is Mary’s, over at Big World … Small Garden.
Mary just started her blog and not only does she share her garden photos but she visits other gardens and posts about them too.


For the second time I have been awarded the Thinking Blogger award by a fellow British Columbia blogger, Smalltown RN at A Place I call Home. She said some very nice things about me which I do appreciate. She herself is a very proud BC resident and her blog is very enjoyable to read. Her posts cover a variety of topics, personal and otherwise, often nursing or medical related. She raised the topic of elderly drivers in a very interesting post recently, when she was confronted by a dilemma on this issue. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t pass this award on as only one of the five I passed it on to last time took it up. If you are on my sidebar you keep me thinking.

I think that is all for this post about This and That. It’s what I call a blog type post, not my normal output, but sometimes we all need to do this. I hope you were impressed by all that linking. Regular programming will resume in the near future.

Update: Actually I have three stat counters, although one was hidden, but no longer. Last Friday I had these 3 different counts: Sitemeter 121; Bravenet 86; Statcounter 99. Bravenet and Statcounter say they count unique visitors. Well who do you trust? Well what does it matter? Not a jot, just interesting.

The first time we had been to Rome was in 1961, for our honeymoon, la luna di miele as the Italians would say. For some reason it took us another 23 years to return and this time with our 17 year old daughter.

Carlo, our Bolognese friend, a research scientist who works for the Consiglio Nazionale di Ricerca or the National Research Council of Italy, travelled often to the head office in Rome. His hotel recommendation was Albergo Venezia, near the main railway station, Stazione Termini, and a clean, well run, relatively inexpensive hotel to boot. So that’s where we stayed for a week.

Public transport in Rome was very good, parking was impossible so we had arranged to give up our rental car at Rome. Often we looked out our hotel window and wondered what all the noise was. Triple parking, not ordinary double parking, seemed to be very common in Rome but sometimes the inner car needed to leave before the outer cars. So lots of honking and shouting ensued in order to alert the hopefully nearby drivers of these cars that they needed to move them subito or right now!

The hotel was very close to the main station and there you could catch a bus or take the underground and that’s how we got around in this large busy city. We found a rather nice restaurant nearby and most nights we ate there. After the first night, as soon as we entered the door, the waiter placed a carafe of the house vino rosso and a litre bottle of acqua gassata on our table. We didn’t even have to ask. We were “regulars”.

Looking at my photo album of this trip brings back the reminders of Rome. I can see we spent some time in and around the Basilica di San Pietro or St Peter’s Basilica, seen above, with its wonderful square designed by Bernini and the dome of Michelangelo. Inside this most famous building is the pietà of Michelangelo which is now behind glass since it was attacked and damaged in 1972. It also houses the famous 13th century bronze statue of St Peter which has the feet worn smooth due to the many pilgrims who place kisses there. This church is huge in length, width and height and the Bernini canopy which covers the papal altar under the high dome is as tall as a small building itself, standing at 96 feet high.

We passed almost a whole day in the Vatican Museum which had certainly been much improved since our visit in 1961, being much better organized and its treasures better displayed than previously. This tour included the Sistine Chapel which I have always found rather difficult to appreciate. Perhaps now that it has been restored I would find it more pleasing, although one has to appreciate the monumental task this was for Michelangelo. This site of the Papal Enclaves is a huge overwhelming room, rather dark and completely decorated by some the greatest Italian painters of the 15th and 16th centuries. The end wall with its enormous painting of the Last Judgment and of course the very famous ceiling with the Creation of Man were the works of Michelangelo, both of which were completed over different periods of time. The ceiling which is flat, although it gives the impression of being vaulted, took Michelangelo four years to paint. It was very hard on the neck to look up and see these amazing frescoes and the attendants were anxious for the visitors to move along steadily and were constantly trying to keep the crowds quiet, since it is a church after all.

We spent quite a time around the sites of Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum with its great temples. Since we had recently watched again the BBC series, I Claudius, with Derek Jacobi as Claudius and Brian Blessed as Augustus Caesar, we went to visit Augustus’s tomb, seen here. The ashes of many members of his family, thought to include Claudius, were interred here. It is the largest Roman tomb and sadly it is crumbling away and not open to the public, however I believe there are plans to reopen it in 2009.

One of our most interesting visits on this trip was to a spot was near the Spanish Steps. We went to Keats’ house, which is located to the right of the steps and is maintained as a museum to Keats, Shelley, Byron and other Romantic poets. He lived and died there in 1821 and I talked about it here when I posted a photo of the Spanish Steps for Saturday Photo Hunt. We spent several very enjoyable hours there, poking about the treasures and reading the letters. There was no one else there and we made a wonderful leisurely exploration of the museum.

Rome is full of the most beautiful fountains and above you can see the famous Fontana di Trevi, Fountain of Trevi, featured so many times in films. The tradition is if you throw a coin into this fountain you will one day return to Rome. It must have worked in 1961 because here I was again. Remember Three Coins in the Fountain? The other fountain photo is Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of Four Rivers, in the Piazza Navona, covered with the ever present pidgeons. It was late afternoon when I took this photo so it’s rather in the shadow. Click to improve it a little.

Then it was time to end this month we had spent in Italy and return home. By the time we had returned to Vancouver, my daughter had decided that, in addition to majoring in French for her university degree, she would study Italian. I tried to convince her to take Spanish instead, thinking it would be more useful if she went into teaching. But she was determined and took Italian for two years, only dropping it when she enrolled in French honours and there was no space for Italian. Of course, when she married an Italian, she was able to say, “I told you so!”

I bet you thought you were never coming to the end of this trip to Italy. It only lasted a month, you say. It seemed like years! I hope you found something to interest you as I wrote about one of the trips I have made to my very favourite tourist destination, Italy. Remember the earlier parts of this saga are here, here, here, here and here.

Join me later when I write about my experiences of going to language school in Italy and doing a “homestay” with an Italian family. Not once, not twice, but three times, in three different cities.

I apologize for the spacing problems which seem to be insoluble. What looks fine in the preview turns into a disaster on publishing. Unless I have a brainstorm this is as good as it gets.

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