Two of my favorite bloggers – Tater and my blog mama lynette – talk about ghosts and memories.

Tater writes – as only he can – about the ghosts in the attic.

lynette chronicles her search for family memories and ghosts this past weekend. And being lynette she kept us in suspense through not one, not two , not three but four postings. And there were a few of us going to give her such as slap after posting number three.

Speaking of the supernatural, I just went over to Big Ass Belle to check the urls for the links and lynette has linked to Tater too (gosh that sounds cute) and my most recent post about Rome. Coincidence or the para-normal at work? Scary stuff kids.

Fantastic Fotos

Venice by AaronIt’s probably just my imagination but it seems that Aaron over at Meanwhile goes on vacation at least once a month. Aside from being envious of his travels I also envy his incredible eye for what makes great photography.

This past week he was in Venice and Ljubljana and a click on the photo above (one of the most incredible night shots I’ve ever seen of Venice) will take you to seven days worth of great pictures.

And now that I’ve found out the Ljubljana is only 4 hours from Venice by train, I’ve added another destination to the growing list for the next four years.

Quo Vadis?

Google Map of Rome, Italy
Well its been confirmed, much like St Peter we’re vadising to Rome – though with no intention of being martyred. Mind you there are probably a few things there that could kill us: the pollution, the crazy drivers or the high cost of living.

My blog “momma” lynette (Big Ass Belle) has asked: What’s with Rome? When are you going? Why are you going? What’s the story? Such an enquiring mind!

When are you going?
Well that handy little countdown at the right says it all – I was going to include milliseconds but thought that was a bit of overkill.

What’s the story?
For 25 of the 29 years we’ve been together Laurent’s been in the Canadian Foreign Service (Diplomatic Corps.) He’s been posted to Mexico City, Cairo, Chicago, Amman, Warsaw and currently Beijing. Until 1999 I remained – like Penelope at her loom – back in the old Patria. Then, after 33 years at Air Canada, I packed it in and joined him in Poland. At all the other posts I’ve was there as often as I could be – working for an airline helped a lot.

In 2001 we came back to Canada; I landed a job with the Federal Government; we bought a beautiful heritage home in a small town near Ottawa and settled into a fairly normal life. Then three years ago he was offered Beijing – we knew that I could not join him but decided that for various reasons we would live with it. Well we have lived with it – and haven’t enjoyed it. We’ve decided enough is enough – time we started living together again.

Why Rome?
When posting request time came Laurent put in for three cities that we knew would not create any problems for us as a family; being the Foreign Service none of those choices where offered.

Instead they came up with:

New Delhi – Don’t think so! Given the homophobic attitude in India I have a feeling our little family unit would be less than welcome.

Moscow – Strangely enough I would have had full diplomatic status – who would have thought? And we’ve never been to Russia and it could be fascinating. However cost of living, living conditions and security were major concerns.

Rome – Need I say this was the most appealing! We both love Italy and Laurent is sure that he was an Emperor in another life. Problem is that Italy does not recognize same-sex or common-law relationships for diplomatic status. There were various suggestions – including the time-honored tradition of me entering as a member of Laurent’s household staff (yeah right!), my true station in life confirmed by the Italian Government.

Solution – I hold an Irish (EU) passport under dual-citizenship and that allows me to move pretty freely within the European Union. Mind you I’ve received three different versions of what to do when I enter Italy – the Mediterranean confusion starts already!

How long will we be there?
The normal post length depends on the country and the hardship level. As an example Beijing is normally two years while a place like Rome is four. So, if things go according to plan, we should be in Rome until summer of 2011.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

According to a recent report from Statistics Canada men are more likely to suffer depression after a divorce than women. This soundly supports the theory that women are stronger then men – something I’ve never disputed.

The study began in 1994, before Same-Sex Marriage became legal in Canada (2003), and it’s based on statistics from straight couples only. Guess they’ll have to start again with same-sex couples.

Now that could produce an interesting set of statistics. As an example, in gender-defined relationships will the butch one be more depressed than the femme one when they split up. Or in a lesbian relationship will both parties simply move on while in a gay one both guys will become depressed, weepy and a burden to their friends who will have to listen endless repetitions of “I gave him the best week of my – sob – life!”

Hmmm… may have answered my own question right there.

Okay I may be taking this Rome thing a little to excess with Sedaka singing Breaking Up Is Hard To Do in Italian but…..

Nostalgia – Victoria Day

Victoria Day Picnic - 1949?There was a time in this fair land when Victoria Day – the 24th of May – was a big celebration – at least in English Canada. We celebrated the reigning Monarch’s birthday, commemorated Queen Victoria’s birthday, cried hip-hooray for the British Empire and trumpeted our British heritage. It was all very WASP, all very jingoistic. A celebration of an Empire that was fading away.

On the Saturday cottages were opened for the summer and preparations made for the weekends events. On Sunday, after a suitably solemn service of Morning Prayer with special anthem, family and friends gathered for the first picnic of the year. We proudly strung Union Jacks and Red Ensigns from house to tree, ate our hot dogs (though my mother frowned on that – you never knew what they put in those things!), drank our lemonade and when it finally got dark lit our fireworks. The Burning School House was a great favorite but I particularly loved the fairy light fascination of the sparklers – shades of things to come?

My brother Albert
My brother Al, in his scout uniform.

On the Monday a street parade formed up at Horner Public School and marched the four blocks over to the Alderwood Community Park. Lead by the local scout troop (my brother (left) proudly carrying the Union Jack), The Maple Leaf Forever blaring from a tinny speaker mounted on an old Ford pick-up, the Girl Guides giggling and waving their Union Jacks, followed by a throng of costumed kids with decorated bikes, trikes and wagons. The rearguard was brought up by the Alderwood Volunteer Fire Brigade truck the blast of its horn scaring the smaller kids who were lagging behind.

There were prizes for the best decorated bike – guaranteed if you used Union Jacks, a picture of the King or Queen or red, white and blue streamers you’d win some sort of prize. There was a prayer from the local Anglican minister asking a blessing on the Monarch and their loyal Dominion of Canada, speechs from our MPP and Alderman and God Save the Queen shrilly led by the public school choir and rousingly sung by one and all. Later that night was the “big” fireworks display – 15 or 20 rockets donated by the Hands Fireworks Co., some Catherine Wheels and more sparklers for all the kids.

Like the Empire we celebrated back then most of the May 24th traditions have faded away. It’s now just the first long weekend of the summer. This past few days people opened their cottages and there were BBQs and picnics, but there were no parades and I haven’t heard a single firework all evening. Sure there’s fireworks on Canada Day, July 1st but I always thought how lucky I was back then: I had two chances to burn that old schoolhouse.

I think the picture at the top of the page dates from 1949 and that fine looking pair of gentlemen at the left are my father Ab (Albert) and me (notice that damned tuft of hair again.) The lady behind us is my beloved Aunt Lil. Until the day she died she kept her Belfast accent and she was the only one who could get away with calling me Billy when I became an adult. The way she said it was musical.