Sunday, June 30, 2013


On this holiday we enjoyed seeing Venice from the top deck of a cruise ship three times.

We arrived here at the end of our first cruise from Barcelona.  Then a week later we left here on a cruise thru the Greek islands... and then came back to Venice where we've spent another three days.

The first time, our cruise ship director announced we were approaching Venice so those without balconies could get positions on the top decks to enjoy the spectacular views.... hence not everyone could get front rail locations.

When we saw this church with a huge sculpture in front of it, there was lots of speculation as to what it was.  Later we learned that this little island is called San Giorgio Maggiore and there were some significant art and sculptures on display here.  It was just across from the Piazza San Marco at the entrance to the Giudecca Canal.

Was it a man or a woman?  Why no arms?  We all had a lot more questions than answers until we did some research.

So on Sunday morning Shirley and I took a vaporetto to this island to get a closer look... and find answers to our questions.

A vaporetto is the most used form of transportation here in Venice.  It is like a water bus that can carry from 100 to 150 or more people... and stops along it's route to drop off and pick up people.

This is an 11 metre (35 foot) high inflatable version of the monumental marble work by Mark Quinn called 'Alison Lapper Pregnant' a portrait of a disabled pregnant woman, Alison Lapper.  The base is about 8 feet high and contains the motors and equipment to keep this art inflated.

Can you imagine the challenge of creating this piece of art out of vinyl... kind of like making a hot air balloon. Once one gets close you can see the seams.

The original marble version of this work was installed in London's Trafalgar Square (2005-07).  'Breathe' was the centrepiece of the London's Paralympic Games' opening ceremony 2012... and is now on display here in Venice.

To see photos of the artist with Alison Lapper and the 2005 newspaper story click on this link.

The work seems to describe the journey of an image when it becomes part of cultural discourse: something without boundaries of scale, held up by the breath of those talking about it, a visitor from the virtual world in our minds.

Held in place by blown air, 'Breathe' is one amazing piece of work which showcases the story of Alison Lapper, who, after discovering she was pregnant decided to have her child, despite the difficulties of her physical condition and the prejudices of society.

She eventually gave birth to a healthy boy.  After featuring in the 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony in London, 'Breathe' was universally acknowledged as a monument of female heroism.

Alison Lapper, a friend of Marc Quinn, was born with no arms and shortened legs due to chromosomal condition called Phocomelia. Her mother rejected her and she was brought up in a care home.  Now a recognized artist, she was awarded an MBE in 2003 and featured with her son in the BBC series 'Child of Our Time'.  (MBE is an award for the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.)

To see Mark Quinn with the original 11-foot marble sculpture that went to Trafalgar Square click here.

In a future blog post we will show more of Mark Quinn's sculptures which were on display on this small island.  Without a doubt this was one of the most inspirational sites we visited in Venice.

"A piece of art is never a finished work.  It answers a question which has been asked, and asks a new question." -Robert Engman

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Off On a New Adventure

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." 
-Lao Tzu

This trip will be more than a thousand miles... Victoria to Calgary for three days... visit with Shirley's sister Marilyn and my brother Garnet.  Then to Frankfurt and Barcelona for three plus days where we catch a cruise for 9 days that ends in Venice.  We will have a week between cruises and will spend some time in Venice and Florence.  Then we'll cruise the Greek Islands and back to Venice before returning home July 2.

Our tenant Chris drove us to the ferry Friday morning... we did not want to leave a vehicle in the airport parking for a month at $15 a day...  Chris took this photo for us on my iPhone.

As we walked onto the ferry my friend Jim saw us and he said, "Where's your hat?"  People are so used to seeing me wearing a cowboy hat, that when I don't have it they think something is wrong... and I don't feel right going out without a hat on any more.

I had only my scruffie white cowboy hats on Mayne... I left my good white hat in Arizona... and plan to buy another white one in Calgary where they are plentiful just before the Stampede.

On the ferry Shirley sent off a quick text message and photo to our kids showing them how lightly we had backed our bags.  One small suitcase and one carryon sports bag each.

We caught a taxi to the airport from Schwartz Bay Terminal... arriving at the airport over three hours before liftoff.  Marilyn was at the airport to meet us in Calgary... and we will spend the weekend here.

Saturday morn we were welcomed with blue skies, so I took my brother Garnet out to Acme where we grew up as kids.  He had left home when he was 16... and Dad sold the farm when I was 16... so there were lots of changes in the last 50 years.

As we drove thru Acme Garnet was able to remember who lived in almost every house.  "This is where the MacKay's lived... he ran the hardware store".  He knew way more names than I ever knew.  The United Church had burned down and was rebuilt... as well as the community hall.  The school I went to had been torn down and replaced with a nicer, newer one.  There were very few buildings left in the town that were there when we grew up.  At least the place had not been left to disrepair.

As we were leaving town towards Linden there was a golf course!  I had to stop and pick up a score card and find out more about the place.

It may be only 9 holes... but the scorecard shows 18... and week day green fees are only $25. Weekends are $35.

Water is in play on 5 of the 9 holes.  You will be impressed by the ariel photos of the course on the website for Acme Golf Club.

In the distance on the horizon is Linden. Much like Acme, all the old buildings we remember from the old days have been replaced with new ones.  At the end of the street where the Mennonite Brethren Church is are several new buildings... one is called the Lodge, where our old friend Art Taylor now lives.  Garnet wanted to visit with Art... and it took a little while for Art to grasp who had come to visit him.  Even though we told him who we were, it wasn't until I told him our dad was Frank Goerlitz that I could see the light go on.  He said, "Your dad was Seventh-day Adventist!"

Art and Lucille came out to BC to visit Mom and Dad when they were on the farm in Westbank.  We had just built Chateaux on the Lake... our first condo project in 1979 and I remember the folks bringing Art and Lucille to Peachland to see it.

I saw this fresh grafiti on the way to Linden... and wanted to stop on the way back to take a few photos of it.  It looked so brand new... Grad 2013.

They usually do their graduation celebrations the last weekend of May... so this paint was hardly dry!

They left their ladder behind... which explains why they could not reach the very top of the end gables. They did however manage to sketch the outline of the Chevy logo up high... or was it just CW + GP?

They did all four sides of this building... really did a great job!

This is what the house we grew up in looks like today.  We didn't go inside, but I'm sure everything has been updated there as well.

 The garage is much the same, but with new siding.  There was an oil change pit on the left side.

I built this block welding room when I was 14.  We wanted to have a safe place to do the welding, so we wouldn't accidentally burn down the garage.

As we pulled in the farm yard Garnet said, "The barn is still standing."  They had put metal roofing on the shed part of the barn.

 The lilacs are still the originals the folks had planted... now over 10 feet tall and loaded with flowers.

Garnet never moved very far from the car... and the current owner, who has been there for 22 years now came over to visit with him. It was in 1939 that our mom and dad came to this spot and built the house here first.

Garnet remembered how it was his job to water the caragana hedge on two sides of the home place... a total of 800 to 1,000 feet long.  He would put two 45 gallon barrels onto the stone boat and with a horse he would take the water to each of the young plants... and he did it about every two weeks.  Now 70 years later that hedge is still thriving and is over 14 feet tall.

Dad used to farm 9 quarters... and I remember we had about 5 or 6 windmills.  The only windmill left today is on the 9th quarter... the isolated quarter two miles north of the home place.  The roof on the old house has fallen in since I visited here last time.  Probably next time we come this structure will no longer be here.

From here we wandered past a few other neighbour's farms and then headed back to Calgary.  As you can see by the blue sky, it was a pretty perfect day without any rain until we got back to the city.