My youngest daughter’s young pup, “Saint” George, was with us for a few precious days earlier this month and later with her from Christmas Eve until yesterday.
He’s welcome any time.
The above ducks came over to hear him preach. He and my iPad tested my hands this day. The photos below are from a lovely solo walk yesterday. The geese are more plentiful than the ducks this year for some reason…
From April 15 to 19 we’ve been walking in the early-ish morning to witness the spring migration. The black-crowned night heron has been here for several days and we saw the great blue heron on Saturday and Sunday. The kinglets, golden and ruby-crowned are still here, having arrived a few days later than usual.
I’ve put up a few photos:
Wednesday, April 15
A special April present
Geese Decked In Snow
Still morning on the way back
Four of at least 15 cormorants
Perhaps a female rose-breasted grosbeak…
Same jay, now recognizable!
Bluejay fluffing in the cold…
A lesson learned for 2020
Male redwing, there are many more
A relatively uncommon red squirrel has its place among a host of greys
A decent look at a pair of Black-crowned night herons that have been here fore a few days
Female yellow-bellied sapsucker
Perennial geranium sprouting in the front garden. Lucky I didn’t step on it!
Cold on the feet, maybe?
Thin film of ice on the creek…
Iris reticulata, a dwarf iris, has a lovely leaf pattern
Hopscotch on the way home, anyone?
We saw a male yellow-bellied sapsucker and only one ruby-crowned kinglet, spent quality time with the night herons and spooked the great blue heron, who has eluded my still camera thus far this year.
The kinglets are here, a little late. Most were golden-crowned. The earliest we’ve ever seen them in Our Woods is March 31. All photos are from Laurelcrest Park except the crocuses – they’re from our front garden.
Sorry you couldn’t get through last night. We are thus far without symptoms… but not without crazy shopping stories… which I am saving for my memoirs… or a big party during a lull between pandemics…
Our phone message bank was full. A first for us. Our devices are powered up. My memory, as usual , is sporadic and, at 10% charged, suspect. Auntie mentioned the PHONE MESSAGES FULL crisis last night and I will immediately see to that. It slipped my “mind.”
Pamela Palmater knows how badly First Nations have been treated historically and how small amendments squirrelled away in many huge omnibus bills by PM Stephen Harper have been cynically used by PM Justin Trudeau to divide and conquer – particularly in the current Wet’suwet’en pipeline issue.
On Sunday, March 21, we took a small minibus on a guided visit to the south of the island of Malta. What looked like a long lineup and the diminuitive boats didn’t inspire enthusiasm, and we’ve seen other grottos, so we passed on this short trip. We shopped for souvenir tea towels, etc and my camera had brunch.
Folks returning to the dock from their short, Blue Grotto trip
Another group setting out for the Blue Grotto in one of those wee boats.
Our minibus took us SW to the Blue Grotto, E to Marsaxlokk and then back past the airport to Valletta.
Flag of Malta. The George Cross in the top hoist corner was awarded to Malta by George VI in 1942 “for their courage during the war.”
While I was waiting in a surprisingly nice gift shop the owner pointed up over my head to the official Flag of Malta . She said something I remember sort of like:
“You know we have this other flag. It was given to us by the British, having bombed the crap out of us during WW II!”
For more on the history of Malta that explains the above quote and the Arabic influence see the first post on Malta: Sicily and Malta.7
We then motored east to the lovely seaside port of Marsaxlokk, very busy and fascinating on a Sunday. We enjoyed the colour of the buildings and shopped at the large, pleasant market that stretched for quite a distance along the shore selling everything under the formidable Maltese sun.
Painted doors in the lovely little town of Marsaxlokk
Locals and visitors at Marsaxlokk’s Sunday market.
Getting close enough to pay for a delicious tangerine 🙂
Mass was being celebrated at the Church of Our Lady of Pompei in Marsaxlokk.
The homily praised Saint Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, canonized a week earlier on Oct. 14.
At the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii a homily was being preached about Archbishop Oscar Romero of Salvador, canonized a week earlier. Being out of touch but remembering this martyred hero very well, my first thought was “Is Liberation Theology alive and well here in Malta?” Research done at home later dismissed that hopeful idea.
It seems to have required an Argentinian, Pope Francis, to finally beatify in 2015 and recently canonize Saint Oscar Romero, murdered by a right-wing death squad on March 24, 1980 while celebrating mass. Bombs outside the Cathedral in San Salvador also killed between 27 and 40 others and wounded over 200. (See above link.)
Now to stroll back and wait for our tour’s minibus.
Anita and Shay (sitting) wait for our minibus to collect us.
Sunday 5 PM activity at this charming little play area near our hotel.
But back to our story… We sauntered back to a corner where our minibus would pick us up before noon, still enjoying the place and chatting at the corner with our fellow Sicily/Malta traveller, Shay.
Then our little group returned, past many dwellings not far from the airport that have been built to house refugees, safely to our hotel. For the last time, we took the #14 bus to Valletta, where we ate in an interesting restaurant. Our table was beside a Bullfighting poster from 1996.
While “14-ing” back into Valletta for a last visit and meal I snapped this woman relaxing by the road.
Stairway, yep, nice, wide stairway.
A charming view before we headed down into town.
Sunday afternoon near the fountain, this young woman was, shhh, milking the cow.
This leant a certain style to the place. Fortunately, all we saw were stacked cows where we were.
We were transferred to the airport once again, one of the things that Insight Vacations includes in the price of its tours. Our route home was Valletta > Catania > Frankfurt > Toronto.
Taxiing before takeoff from Catania, Sicily’s Mungibeddu (Beautiful Mountain), and its godlike namesake nymph, Aetna, gave us a special farewell blessing:
Our time in Sicily and Malta was full of history, art, fun – and a little luck.
We were picked up at the Radisson Blu Hotel at 9:30 AM. Marlene drove us to Rabat. With us also were the ‘patriarch,” Frank, and Francesca, Marlene’s daughter. Our friend, Canadian Friar Ed, had introduced us to Frank on the phone before we left Canada. They showed us great kindness and had a treasure chest of knowledge to share.
The first place we visited was St. Paul’s Collegiate Church in Rabat known as the “Knight’s Church.” The Knights Hospitaller settled in Malta in 1530 after being driven from Rhodes by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1522. The Knights’ symbol is an 8-pointed cross, the symbolism of which, some say, is that the points represent the eight European langues of the Hospitallers: Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon, Castille&Portugal, Italy, Germany, and the British Isles. Looks a bit like a stretch to me, but it makes it pretty clear that Arabic was not one of their original tongues…
Valletta, the “new” Maltese capital, was named after Jean Parisot de la Vallette, who fought bravely in Rhodes against the Ottomans and, as Grand Master, successfully defended Malta against them during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. De la Valette laid the first stone of Valletta in 1566, but did not live to see it finished.
Some photos from St. Paul’s in Rabat:
Statue of St. Paul
Frank, Anita, Marlene and I (taken by Francesca)
John baptizes Jesus
Mary, her mother, Ann and Jesus
Pope John Paul II plaque honouring his visit to the Grotto of St. Paul
Then we exited the main Knights’ Church and visited St. Paul’s Grotto in an adjacent underground area where St. Paul stayed while successfully converting Publius, the Romans’ chief person on Malta, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Catacombs are a major part of this neighbourhood. There is also a large section that houses a museum to the Knights of Malta. Our hosts took us there. It contains portraits, statues and furniture related to the Knights.
Sign for the Grotto and Catacombs
Frank, Francesca, Marlene and Anita begin our descent
A shrine and statue in St. Pauls Grotto
One of many catacomb alcoves
Lovely rendition of Mother and Son
Inlaid ivory in dark ebony wood. Frank was accomplished at this before he went to university.
Portraits of some of the Knights
We were treated to a delicious lunch by our gracious hosts, after which they showed us Mdina.
Bridge to Mdina
Gardens outside Mdina’s walls
Carriage entering Mdina
Francesca, Frank, Anita and Marlene
Lovely narrow street
View from Mdina wall
Arabic a clear influence on street names and towns all over Malta
Children near a cannon
Tea garden area
Horse and wagon
Our wonderful hosts returned us faithfully to our Pembroke Radisson Blu shortly before 5 PM, and then we “#14ed” into Valletta for supper and a little shopping, returning home after an early tropical sunset.
An iconic British shop
A pipe, anyone?
Good ol’ #14
Twilight October 20
On Sunday we planned to visit the Blue Grotto and Marsaxlokk on a tour bus that Anne set up for us on Friday. That will be my last post on our Sicily and Malta 2018 tour.