Saturday, August 31, 2013

Summer's End . . .

When I walked down to my office this morning and looked out my windows I saw Autumn, staring me in the face!

To the east . . .

And then to the west . . .

But just yesterday I picked these from my garden so I know . . .

I can look forward to the Glory of Autumn.

Wishing you all a Happy Sabbath; God bless and be well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy, Happy Wishes for Kim . . .

August 27
Birthdate of Kim Rudas Goerlitz

"Every Birthday, 
you decide whether to mark it 
the end of your greatest days 
or the beginning of your finest hour."

Dear Kim... wishing the very best ahead.  Thank you for all that you bring to our little family circle.  We are all more blessed because of you.  

Imagine that, we have known you for over 17 years, right?  That time has flown by. How wonderful is that!

"Let gratitude be the pillow 
upon which you kneel 
to say your nightly prayer.  
And let faith be the bridge you build
to overcome evil and welcome good."
- Maya Angelou

God bless and be well.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Robert Browning, Cole Porter, and John Singer Sargent

What would Robert Browning and Cole Porter and John Singer Sargent have in common, especially in the city of Venice?  

Ca' Rezzonico!

There is a palace (palazzo) along the Grand Canal that I only captured in a vaporetto-drive-by- shooting.  The vaporetti are water taxis that take you about at a reasonable price and quickly.  So we took advantage of them as often as possible just to soak in the atmosphere.

But back to my talented writers/artists.

Ca' Rezzonico was built in the mid-1700's and passed from one owner to another until the early 1800's when a certain Count Zelinsky bought the palazzo, breaking it up into apartments and renting it out to aristocratic tenants.

Robert Barrett Browning, the artist, lived at Ca' Rezzonico in the 1880's and his father Robert Browning, the writer, came to live with him, later dying there in 1889.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp.
Or what's a heaven for?"
- Robert Browning

John Singer Sargent, the American portraitist, had his studio in the palazzo at this same time.


("The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" by J.S.S.)

Now some years later, in the 1920's, after having received an inheritance from his wealthy grandfather, Cole Porter rented the palazzo for $4000. a month (about $54,000. in today's currency).  He gave lavish parties at this address.

The following clip is from the movie "De-Lovely" about the life and love of Cole Porter.  It is a complicated but moving and loving tale. The song starts slowly but stay with it and you will be rewarded.

So next time you are wending your way down the Grand Canal keep a look out for Ca' Rezzonico, on the right hand side if you are coming from the train station to San Marco Piazza...

(file photo from Wikipedia)

and think of the talented people who have lived in just this one tiny spot on our beautiful planet and have contributed such beauty to our lives.


Be well.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Turkey... Post Ephesus

If you are planning a trip to Turkey in the future you will doubtless see lots of these around.  Our bus driver had 4 of them hanging along the front window of the bus... believed to keep away the bad spirits.

After we left the western gate of the ancient city of Ephesus we emerged onto a bazaar.  Shopping wasn't on my to-do list but there was still plenty to see.

He rather suits the flag and setting... notice the 'evil eye' up on the tree to the right.

Keep in mind that you will see lots of these signs too...

But these carpets were no fakes... they were very lovely. It looks like Terri is about to indulge in a carpet.   

So if you are planning on a trip soon take your measurements with you so you can come home with a treasure.  They are not cheap but they will last more than your lifetime.

And then it was back to the ship.  Our ship is on the left and we did not think of it as a particularly small ship.  But notice the size of our friend the Ruby Princess on the right!  That would hold an entire city!

Wishing you all a great new week.

And above all, be well.

We Walked With Paul . . .

Every day was filled to the brim with activity and our day at Ephesus was no exception.  We left the ship early, boarded the bus (motor coach!) and trundled off over the countryside.  The crowds were so heavy that some buses headed for alternative sites and then came back to the town of Ephesus, hoping to make the site more manageable.

If your tour includes an alternative trip to The Home of the Virgin Mary, so be it! But if you have a choice I would not recommend the time spent there.  We waited in hot humid weather in a line for 45 minutes to see a small two room house that MAY have been where Mary lived out the last years of her life with John.  It is not original, only one small patch of one wall is from ancient times and there is no concrete evidence that she was actually there.  It is a legend.  Many people love the site and consider it a pilgrimage of some value.

There she is... Virgin Mary.

The crowds were thick and not moving.  Some got right out of control.  It was fainting weather but I just blinked hard and told myself this was no time to lose my focus!

Not sure what bus this fellow was guiding through but I loved his outfit for the day and snuck a 'snap'.

Geri and Herb Kennedy exiting the home. There were two spots by the house where you could do the pilgrim thing.  The first was a wall where you could put your wishes on a paper and make it a part of the wall.  And then you could collect 'holy water' from a spigot that was said to have healing properties.

We had been looking forward to Ephesus since we started to plan the trip.  And it was most rewarding to actually walk the streets and look at the remains of buildings that were there at the time of Paul.  I have enjoyed the writings of Paul so was thrilled to be there.

I think I should put together a collection of photos of my husband in this pose.  Isn't he a dear?  He loves it when I smile and this does evoke a smile!

Behind him are the ruins of old bath houses. If you look on the map below you will see we entered at the upper right corner.

Not sure about public baths but that was the way of the time...

This photo shows a small theatre that was built privately to entertain small parties of up to 1500 people.  Entertainment has always been a strong influence in every civilization.

Geri Seidel and Terri Lang were great tour buddies.

Details of city life had been excavated and stacked...

Pillars, columns, bas relief items, all set out to show us how it had been.

We were delighted with the view into the town on this broad walkway.  It was crowded with other tourists/travellers looking for 'the way it was'. The silver umbrella with the red 'flowers' shaded our tour guide...

And I am sure she did a noble job of telling us about each building but Google told me this was The Temple of Hadrian.  Hadrian either got around a lot or was honoured in many places.

This landmark stood out a long way away.  It has been carefully reconstructed from original material to show us Celsus Library.

Sweet photo of children having their photo taken...

When you see an umbrella you know another tour group is headed your way. Loved the green and gold hills surrounding Ephesus.

If you scroll back to the map of the city you will see on the mid-upper left side a large theatre.  This theatre held about 24,000 people and Paul was said to have spoken here, or maybe tried to speak here, before he was shut down and hauled away.

When I came home I read Ephesians again and love how Paul ends his letter to the believers:

"Peace to the brethren, 
and love with faith, 
from God the Father 
and the Lord Jesus Christ.  
Grace be with 
all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ
in sincerity.  Amen."

Saturday, August 10, 2013


"Everyone soon or late comes round by Rome."
- Robert Browning

On the road to Rome...

Sometimes I got so immersed in the beauty of the moment and missed completely some tidbit thrown in by the tour guide... hence, there is no name for this church.

The Tiber River... did you know it was such a little, wandering, muddy piece of water? The photo is begging to become a watercolour.

This bridge ties Garbatella to Rome for ease of transit, cutting journey times of employees, crossing over Metro and RR tracks. After we passed this bridge, I realized it was something unusual so I cranked myself into a pretzel to capture this as our bus sped away. The Bridge Garbatella-Ostiense-Rome is locally dubbed "The Cobra" for its unique design having just opened for traffic on June 22, 2012.

You can find lots of great photos of this bridge if you click here.

As we rode along there were ruins to left...

ruins to the right...

ruins everywhere.  The Colosseum was Sherwin's no. 1 pick of all the sites in Rome so if you click here you will read his extensive blogpost on the subject.

I highly recommend Google for as much or as little detail as you are looking for. Google and Wikipedia have been very helpful.

When I wander through a site I go for the beauty, the feeling, the pleasure of the moment.  The texture, the colours, the ambience is what I carry home from the places I go.

"The traveler sees what he sees.  
The tourist sees what he has come to see."
-G. K. Chesterton

Having built some bona fide arches in my day at the orphanage I oohed and awed on this overdose of arches.

 Notice the cross? The Colosseum was built with the plunder from the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD so you know it wasn't built for Christian purposes.

And here it is from the other side. This cross has been erected to honour the Christians who died here for their faith in Jesus Christ. What a humble tribute to such a costly sacrifice... but that makes good sense.

"The tyrant dies and his rule is over, 
the martyr dies and his rule begins."
- Soren Kirkegaard

Imagine, if you will, the thousands of people crammed into this huge amphitheatre crying out for blood.

I found it to be a sobering moment.

The size of the Colosseum is truly awesome.

When I started this blog I was not aware of all the information available online. Click here and you can read all about Arches of Triumph from ancient times. Rome was not the first city to build an arch to honour battles or wars.

This is one 'ruin' that the locals visit. It has been used as a mausoleum, fortress, castle and a prison.

Castel Sant'Angelo was originally commissioned by Hadrian (famous for that wall in Britain) in the 2nd century AD as a mausoleum for himself and his family. He must have been planning on a large family. Hadrian was known as one of the Five Good Emperors of Rome.

And a lovely bridge by the same name, Ponte Sant' Angleo that crosses the Tiber, was also commissioned by Emperor Hadrian.

It would have been delightful to be in an open-air bus to do our drive through Rome but alas and alack, that was not to be.  So I just snapped anything that impressed me from the window.

When we stopped by this shop at lunchtime I thought my grandson would look quite handsome in this head gear but was most disappointed to read the little price tag attached!  (350 Euros!!)

In the distance we saw this landmark that we had been looking for with keen interest.

Our next stop of the day was Vatican City and thanks to Google here is a simple map to give you an overview of where we went.

At the top of the white area you see the word 'Enter'?  That is where we made our entrance. Our itinerary in the Vatican was as follows:
Vatican Museum Courtyard
Sistine Chapel
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Square

Our tour guide looked straight at those of us with 'serious' cameras and said, Now we are going to stay together and I will lead you through at a slow pace.  Keep up. (or something like that...)

Beautiful courtyard... I like blue skies and sunshine! They make anything look even better.

In the middle of the courtyard is this very large sphere. It seems that this is one of a few spread around the world, designed by artist, Arnaldo Pomodoro, with very interesting theories about it's symbolism and significance!

Click here to see more and come to your own conclusions about it's role in the world and whether  or not we should be worried?!?! Really, take a look at that article...

Now there is our tour guide showing us how to make the world go round! He was just a bit over 5' so you can see the size of the sphere.

Speaking of size...

I took this photo with my telephoto lens on full but do wish I would have had Sherwin go back and stand by it.  But then I found the next photo on Google images which shows you what we were seeing proportionally.

Remember we are at the Vatican so everything is on a large scale...

And now the 'slow-paced walk' through the Museum began.  It was a bit of a blur...

Saw a whole room or maybe two of tapestries.  Exquisite close up work...

Somebody is buried in the big red box... cannot remember hearing who that was.

They did a great job on their ceilings!

When I got totally overwhelmed with all the gilding and marble, etc. I would go to a window and look outside for some relief.

Even there I saw some more marble made to look like a man...

After walking for miles through this place we were directed to the Sistine Chapel where we were to take our time looking for ourselves but NOT allowed to photograph.  Sherwin will do a blogpost on the Sistine Chapel! Big Smile!

I would recommend you see the Museum and the Chapel on two different days.  By the time we got there our minds were numb with all we had tried to absorb in the past couple hours so much of the Chapel was lost on us.

It was interesting to notice the guards watching people with cameras and it was also interesting to see how many people were escorted from the premises for NOT listening to the rules!

Next stop... St. Peter's Basilica

...  click here for a legend to the floor plan that will help you understand. We entered at no.9 and took an immediate turn in at no.6...

You step into St. Peter's and you are immediately bombarded with an overabundance of texture and detail.  Now I have heard the old adage two different ways.

God is in the details.

The Devil is in the details.

It is an amazing church.  But I had to remind myself I was in a church.  For some reason, even though I was enjoying everything I saw I didn't quite get the church/worship thing happening.

My photos do not begin to get across to you the size, the grandeur or the beauty there.

I was expecting to get up close to the Pieta by Michelangelo.  But some 'clown' got too close to it some years ago, damaging the sculpture, so after repairs were made they put up a bullet proof glass in front of it and a fence.  

This sculpture is the only one that Michelangelo ever signed.  One day Michelangelo overheard someone attribute this work to another artist and in a pique of pride he wrote his name in the marble across Mary's chest. 

Sherwin did put in a Euro for me so I could have some lights shine on this sculpture.

If you go back to the floor plan of St. Peter's you will see there are side chapels where you can pay extra Euros to sit and pray.

If you were to watch the ceremonies that go with any service at the Vatican you may see this Papal Arch sitting near the top of the Basilica directly under the dome. Designed by Bernini it was intended to mark the spot over which Peter is buried.

Click here to read more about this magnificent piece of bronze work.

Directly over the Papal High Altar you can look up into the dome. It is even more magnificent if you realize the era in which it was built.  The workmanship everywhere is quite awesome.

Our son is waiting to see arches, pillars and whatnot to show up in some of our work here at home!  Well, the thing I went to see was the tile work.  The mosaic work in Italy is extraordinary... look closely at this side altar and you will see it is made up of tiny pieces of tile.

Now this is what Shelby should be watching out for in the future around here!

Everywhere I looked I was awestruck.

Our time in the Basilica was very short even though we were on our own with no 'keeper'.  Our eyes were pretty much falling out with overkill. The church requires much more time to do it right.

This is the entrance (portico) where we first came to the church but now I stopped a moment to take a look at how they finished their foyer.  Hmm... next time I help with an interior on a church I will have to remember all that I saw this day!

We broke out onto the front of the Basilica looking out over St. Peter's Square... I prefer to use the word Piazza because that doesn't sound so square and St. Peter's Square is not square.

Looking back up to the front of the Basilica...

Over to the side to see the Papal Apartments...

And there at the entrance a Swiss guard in all his 'prettiness'.

They were preparing for some grand festival coming up on the weekend so there were preparations with chairs and lighting and sound equipment.

But in the centre there is an Egyptian obelisk of red granite. This obelisk has been moved three times in its 4400 year history.  It was moved here in 1586. It took 13 months to erect the column in this location. Click here to read more.

The piazza is surrounded with columns 4 deep and topped with statues of apostles, prophets, and saints.  If you look again at the map of Vatican City you will see the the shape of the total piazza has the curve of arms.  These are to symbolize the arms of the 'mother church' welcoming her children home.

The day had disappeared so quickly I almost had to pinch myself that I had truly been there.  Looking back for one more photo...

We boarded the bus ready for a rest on the way back to Civitavecchia and our boat.

On to Pompeii tomorrow!!

Until then, be well.