Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Olympics. Wow oh wow!

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.``  the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The blog posting below is a piece I wrote about the Olympics in 2012.   I was ´inspired´ to write on the topic again watching the Olympics now from Tokyo.  However, re-reading what I wrote in 2012, I realise there is much wisdom and truth in the aforementioned Mon. Karr´s words.  

Most of the time with the Olympics, you only have to change the names and the places and it is the same fabulousness all over again.  As there is nothing new I can add about all that Olympic fabulousness,  I am simply copying the 2012 blog posting. 

Well there is one big difference*

Hosting the Olympics is a gargantuan task at the best of times, hosting the Olympics a year late as the world continues to experience a global pandemic is mind mindbogglingly gargantuan.   ... The more they stay the same ...

Well done Japan;  I hope your country does not suffer more Covid because you went ahead and hosted the games..... 

                                                            ------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Yes, I say it again.  

The Olympics. Wow oh wow!

Was n´t the opening ceremony a wonderful crazy creative event? I did enjoy it. And since then, all those nubile perfect specimens of humanity thrilling us with the heights they reach in sporting excellence. I promise, most of the time I am marvelling at the excellence of their endeavours, not their fabulous physiques. - (Oh alright, a good bit of the time then.) 

And there I am in awe of sports I hardly knew existed, like those sort of space age indoor bike races, and the trampoline competitions. Really it is all such a wonder;  I loved the dressage, the table tennis and the fencing too. Just about any sport at such levels of excellence can be enjoyed and wondered at. - Oh it is such a pity hurling in not an Olympic sport, Kilkenny would scoop up all the medals!

Do you know what Kilkenny and Jamaica have in common?  For such relatively small parts of the world, they both keep on producing world champions. The county of Kilkenny needs little explanation of course: generation after generation the county produces some of the best hurlers in the world. 

Similarly Jamaica produces generation after generation some of the fastest runners in the world. - Did you see how Bolt bolted last night! (Am I the only ´reporter´on the Olympics who thought to make a pun on ´bolt´!).  Usain Bolt ran 100 meters in 9,63 seconds.  The first man to ever run a 100 metres in less than 10 seconds.

The Women´s 100 Meter winner was also Jamaican, Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce; at 10,75 seconds Fraser-Pryce´s running time was a mere 1.12 seconds slower than Usain Bolt´s 10, 63 seconds.   

How is all that for wowness!

But you know, I would love to hear more on the other participants; the people who after years of hard work, time and dreaming get to participate in the Olympics. And no doubt with great effort on the part of their families, their trainers and community too. I would like to hear those participants´ stories as well. I suppose with so much greatness to report on, it would be hard to report everything in a mere 24 hour day.

But I tell you what, if I was a female contestant in the beach volley ball, I would want to wear the men´s uniform. However fabulous Misty May Trainer et al look, bending over in that little itsy bitys nearly nothing bikini bottom would make me feel I was sharing a tad too much of me with the world.

Back to the excellent sports men and women: To put all that fabulousness´into perspective consider our local swim event. 

Last Sunday, we had our own version of the Olympics here in Allensbach:  The 33rd Gnadensee-Schwimmen. The Gnadensee-Schwimmen is a 1500 meter swim from the Island of Reichenau to Allensbach, Germany. Always extremely well organized by the local life saving organization and various other groups. About 300 took part in the swim, including moi.

Consider:

At the 2012 Olympics in London

Mr. Yang Sun from China swam 1500m Freestyle at a time of: 14:31:02.

Yes, 14 minutes, 31.02 seconds.

He created a new world record.

At the Gnadensee-Schwimmen in Allensbach

Frau Ehinger from Ireland swam 1500m Rosaleen style, at a time of 57 plus minutes. Breaking absolutely no records of any kind.

See pictures of Frau Ehinger below.  Also of Herr Ehinger who was in attendance to show support for the aforementioned Frau Ehinger in the big swim.  

As you can see the aforementioned Herr Ehinger was not ´stressing it` at all as he showed his support for his aforementioned spouse!







Friday, July 16, 2021

Happy Birthday America from a Man in a Village in Bangladesh

No I am not late with my 4th of July celebrations blog posting.   I just wanted to check in with myself to see if I choose to celebrate the day the was in it at all.

Last year, I did not feel at all inclined to acknowledge the U.S. birthday.   But with the Biden-Harris Administration at the helm this year; I feel more ready to celebrate.

The United States of America is far from perfect; imperfect and relatively speaking quiet a new country.  But at 219 years it is the oldest democracy in the world, and for that we can give it credit. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-the-worlds-oldest-democracies/.

So for all its faults and failings let us celebrate.   I thought the way I would like to do that is with a nod from a man in Bangladesh to America.   And to the kind Americans he has encountered on the internet; Americans who have much widened his world and his view of it. 

See link below to the CSM to this happy three minute read.  

 https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/2021/0702/Happy-birthday-America-from-a-village-in-Bangladesh?cmpid=ema:mkt:20210706&src=highlight

And another thing America does well.  - Celebrations.  - Especially BIG celebrations.

See below two videos of the fireworks celebrations for the 4th of July celebrations outside my former apartment building in New York.  

 



Yep!  The United States of America does ´big´very well.

Fair dues to them!

Happy 4th of July America! - Nachträglich - (after the event).

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Now This is How To ´do´Old!

Aging is a mystery.

Doing it well or otherwise is, as far as I can see, part self, part good health and part plain good luck.

Lydia, my mother-in-law, is 86 in September. She ´does age` great.

Over the years she and my father-in-law and have kept in reasonably good health; indeed health concerns Lydia had in earlier years seemed to have become less of an issue as she ages!

Lydia is a great character, always was. But in latter years, her eyes and ears don´t work as well. Ironically it is not a bad thing that she can´t hear noise, and that she cannot see badly cleaned-up things to get her upset because they are not tidied as she would have liked.  As a result, the good lady is more chill and relaxed.

My parents-in-law happily live a quieter smaller life than in years passed. Gone are the cruises they could afford when the children were reared, gone the long flights and even longer car trips

But, my parents-in-law enjoy their family and circle of friends.  

And they enjoy their garden – and food. And they enjoy them with gusto!

Lydia proudly told Romeo H of a new recipe she had developed last week. And she had every right to be proud of it – see if Jamie Oliver is developing new recipes at nearly 86! 

The dish ´Champignons a lá Lydia` is easy to make, cheap and nutritious. I mean what´s not to love about this! 

… O.K. a tad rich in cholesterol and sodium, but at almost 86 who is worried!

The video below is Lydia, ´supported´ by my father in law Herbert telling us how to prepare ´Champignons a lá Lydia`.

Not to worry if you don´t understand, the telling of the story is the sweet point of it all.

You can see, like I said, Lydia ´does old´very well!




P.S. The recipe is easy. Fry up onions, garlic and salted bacon, add sliced tomatoes and mushrooms, flavour as you wish, add broth, cream. When fried together nicely, add cooked noodles. The quantities are as much or as little of everything that you want.  Grated Parmigiano if desired.  That´s it! 

Lydia recommends ´a nice Reisling wine´ to drink with ´Champignons a lá Lydia`

And it IS tasty.

Happy cooking!…. And happy aging if that´s where you are at these days


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

With a Nod to our Man James on Bloomsday.....

Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday.   

Question.  What is Bloomsday?   

Do you know the answer?

No brownie points if you teach English or English literature and have links to Ireland.  

One brownie point if you are not involved with teaching English or you are not on the stage, but have links to Ireland. 

FOUR brownie points if you are none of the above. 

 Do let me know how many brownie points you won! 

So I wrote this article in honour of this aforementioned Bloomsday.  

Enjoy.

With absolutely no humility I share a link to IrishCentral, an Irish American publication on and off the web.  The link is an edited version of this blog posting.
https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/james-joyce-trieste

Note: These photos added to the blog posting have absolutely nothing to do with James Joyce in Trieste, rather Hausfrau Róisín and Romeo H in Trieste.  But hey, my blog my rules!  Sometimes it is good to be the boss! 

                                     --------------------------------------------------

From Canada to New Zealand, from Lithuania to Italy and many other countries in between, Bloomsday will be celebrated on June 16th.

Just about the whole world knows this date is set every year to commemorate the work of Irish novelist James Joyce, recognised as one of the most important writers of the 20th century, not just in Ireland but throughout the world.

Joyce is associated with Dublin, Paris and Zurich but for those among you whose Joycean scholarship is a ´bit on the rusty side´, you may not be aware of James Joyce´s very strong connections with the Italian city of Trieste in northern Italy.

For starters James Joyce´s novel Ulysses tells the story of one Leopold Bloom as he goes about his life in Dublin on June 16th 1904. It could be argued that the inspiration for Leopold Bloom may not have been a Jewish man from Dublin at all, rather one Ettore Schmitz, a Jewish paint seller from Trieste!

How Joyce ended up in Trieste in 1904 is a story in itself. The family came to be in Trieste through a series of non-connected events in which James Joyce and the love of his life Nora Barnacle were ´collateral damage´ in acts of subterfuge, swindling – and even espionage, none of which was their own making.


This Roman arch dates from 1st A.D. And there it still stands being supported by the walls of an old restaurant on a hilly street in Trieste.

Clearly we are not the only ones amazed by this wonderful edifice.  

Mulling over old pictures of James Joyce in Trieste, he too stands in some pictures at this very spot.

However Joyce liked Trieste so much, and indeed one could say Trieste liked James Joyce, that the city was to be his home for 15 years.

After arriving in Trieste he was hired to give English lessons to a young girl Letitza, daughter of the aforementioned Ettore Schmitz.

In February 2000 the young girl Letitza, by then a woman in her late sixties explained that meeting James Joyce changed all their lives dramatically. And that is by no means an exaggeration. Not only she, but her father Ettore, and mother Livia became involved in the English lessons.

“At the very first lesson, Joyce told us he was a writer”1 explained Ms. Schmitz. For her father that was most significant, because Ettore Schmitz too was a writer; he wrote under the pseudonym Italo Svevo. Alas his writings had up to then been ignored by Italian readers and critics.

Now however Mr. Schmitz worked up the courage to show his work to his daughter´s English teacher. Joyce was impressed. He encouraged Schmitz to send his work to English and French critics that he, Joyce, knew. Then, Ms. Schmitz explained, James Joyce followed up by writing to two of the French critics stating ´the only modern Italian author who interests me is Italo Svevo.´

It worked! After years of rejection Italo Svevo became a literary sensation. Even in Italy!

 


Time proved Joyce´s opinion to be correct; Svevo´s pioneering literary works are now recognised as having had a profound influence on the modernist writing movement in Italy.

This literary support was happily a two way street. For example with regard to his master work Ulysses which Joyce would later write in Paris. When putting the novel together in his own mind, for the character of Leopold Bloom, Joyce would frequently ask Ettore Schmitz how he would respond to various questions or to various situations, especially with reference to the Jewish faith.

 Letitza Schmitz again observed that her father was aware from this constant questioning, which did in ways annoy him, that ´he was supplying material for a novel´ 1 for Joyce. Except perhaps for Joyce himself, no one could have imagined how huge a global influence this novel would have.

The more alert readers among you may note Ettore Schmitz´s wife was called Livia. She is the self same Livia whose long reddish-blond tresses were compared to the River Liffey and her name, Livia, became the Anna Livia Plurabelle of Finnegan’s Wake. Joyce acknowledged these connections in his letters more than once.

James Joyce put value on the Schmitzs´ critique of his work; not long after meeting them he would show them drafts of novels he was working on. Letitza recalled that her mother was very moved by ´The Dead` from Dubliners.

The Schmitz family support for James Joyce was not only creative but financial too. Neither Joyce nor Nora Barnacle were good money managers, a problem further exacerbated by the writer´s inclination to heavy drinking. Joyce called on Ettore for loans, as he did on many other of the citizenry of Trieste.

The Triestinos seemed to be tolerant, in my opinion, of the struggling Irish novelist who was in a constant state of arrearage. He had after all offered great support to a son of the city.


And more James Joyce truly loved their city. So much so that he encouraged his siblings to join him in Trieste. Three did. Two, Eileen and Stanislaus, remained in the city. Their sister Eva got home sick and returned to Dublin after a few years.

One cannot say which part of the city of Trieste was associated with James Joyce, for he is connected with the whole city! He frequently visited the city´s theatres, the opera house, historical sites, churches, book shops, taverns and coffee houses. As well as other ´less salubrious´ areas of the city. As well as enjoying walks by the sea and up in the hills behind the city. Of the many literary cafés he frequented, Caffè Stella Polare was a favourite. He frequently visit the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas which has a spectacular view of the ocean. 

Via San Nicolo had a particular relevance for James Joyce.

Umberto Saba´s bookshop "Libreria Antiquaria Umberto Saba" www.libreriasaba.it located on Via San Nicolo, was the literary and intellecutal centre of Trieste. The book shop was favoured by Joyce, Italo Svevo and other of the city´s literati. The bookshop, still in business, is now located at No. 30 Via San Nicolo, the very same house in which James Joyce lived for a time and where his son Giorgio was born. The Berlitz School was located two doors away at No. 32. James Joyce taught English there and as did his brother Stanislaus. James Joyce also taught English at the University of Trieste.

Lest one thinks these facts are known to me because I am one of those Joycean scholars, that alas is not the case. On a visit to Trieste last week which was more to do with viticulture than high culture, I discovered these and many other facts about James Joyce´s life in Trieste.

If Romeo H is not looking like a happy camper in this picture on the right. There is good reason!

We went out to sample the local cuisine.   What we did not consider:  

While Trieste is in Italy, it was part of the the Austro-Hungarian Empire for over three centuries.... And so the food there is more German i.e. sausages, cabbage, ham... EXACTLY like we would have in Germany!

I was taken by this beautiful, cultured, gentle city. I was taken by how some 110 odd years ago the Triestinos welcomed a native Irish man to their hearts, recognised his talent and tolerated his failings.

I felt at ease walking on the water front or through the same small streets or the elegant plazas that James Joyce had traversed some 110 years previously. It was always a delight to discover a statue of Joyce en route to somewhere, or see a reference to him in word or picture as I wandered about the city.

Whether for viticulture, high culture or indeed no culture at all, Trieste is a city worth visiting. And an easy city to be a tourist in, especially if you are Irish! Indeed my German other-half observed that the faces of Triestinos would positively light up when they discovered that his wife was Irish.

True there are Covid restrictions to travelling of course, in the not too distant future a visit could be in the planning. While there, it is easy to comply with Covid restrictions in the city.

We stayed at Hotel James Joyce
Via dei Cavazzeni, 7

34121 Trieste

Italy

Tel +39 040 97 12 330
Fax +39 040 97 12 331 

info@hoteljamesjoyce.com                          

Wild nights in Trieste!  

And while I have no shares in the hotel, I am happy to sing its praises. Because it was, well just perfect: Located in the old city, with easy access to public parking nearby. (Prepare to pay about €15.00 for 24 hours.) Rooms without breakfast run about €70.00 for two. The hotel is located in a building from the late 1700s, so there is a nice ´old´feel to it. Although it is right in the centre of all the buzz of the old city, our room was very quite. A bijoux of a hotel; it was clean, cool and comfortable - and the shower and ´other bathroom facilities´ had good pressure. And more the elevator worked - all the time!

It was very easy to keep Covid rule compliant in the hotel too as we rarely saw anyone except the most helpful front desk staff who gave us all the information and suggestions we needed while still being Covid compliant. A special mention must be made of the charming Sara who impressed us both with her big heart and her multi-lingual skills.

(My German other-half opined I should add we found out by chance, that Andreas, father of the aforementioned Sara was proprietor of the nearby Piccola Vinera, which was other half´s very favourite hostelry in Trieste.)

 

 Don´t you just love it in the picture above:  Holy Mary looking after all that wine!! 

And no this building was never a former home for the Joyce family or some such, in fact it has no direct link to James Joyce at all. But the management of the hotel gave the hotel its moniker as a nod of respect to the Irish novelist who choose to make Trieste his home.


The best way to enjoy a hot afternoon in Trieste.  And no doubt many other places too!

 

                       ------------------------------------------------------------------- 

1James Joyce A Portrait of The Artist in Trieste ppwww.literarytraveler.com/articles/james-joyce-a-portrait-of-the-artist-in-trieste/

Francis McGovern, Linda McGovern co-founders, founding editors and publishers at Literary Traveler.

Short Film:  

James Joyce's city of choice – Trieste: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2of6n7


Sunday, May 30, 2021

If you feel Pain, or something ´Different´ - Go to the Doctor......

Two blog postings inside a week!  Holy God.

This one is shorter than the last posting.  BUT, FAR more important than talking about singing and dancing - with or with (almost) no clothes on!

It is one of those life lesson, that everyone knows, but many ignore.  But I am still going to repeat the oft repeated message all the same:

If you feel Pain,  or feel something ´Different´ - Go to the Doctor. 

 It could save your life. That simple.

It really is one of those no brain-er life decisions that everyone knows one should make, but many don´t do it.  

I write because this situation happened in my circle; a man who ignored various pains and changes because he ´did n´t want to be involved with stuff to do with being old`.  --- Well in his case it could well have been the other alternative to being old!

Except his wife made a scene insisting he get it seen to.  

He did. 

It was a life and death situation.  They had to immediately set up and plan for a long drawn out operation, prepare for ICU and all sorts of foreboding actions.  

As it turned in his case it all turned out very well.  ICU was not needed, in fact not too much was needed at all after the operation, it was a ´text book best case scenario´ case the  doctors said, they had never seen a recovery like it. 

In fact from the patient´s perspective, there was only one down side: The ´ addictive substance´ prescribed for his pain management did not agree with him.... 

He woke up in the middle of the night and informed the medical staff that ´little men were chasing after him´.  

The pain management medication was changed to something more suited to him.  However the latter had no ´additional affects´ shall we say.  He was disgusted!  

Inside a week he was home.  

The doctors pointed out, as I am sure doctors often do:

Had he had his condition seen to earlier, there would have been a LOT less stress - and expense involved in dealing with the problem. 

A great end to what could have been another end.  

So back to where I started:  

If you feel Pain, or something ´Different´ - Go to the Doctor.  It could save your life!

Hausfrau Róisín. 

Addendum: If anyone has other similar stories, let me know. 


 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Eurovision!

 A short postie this month on the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend. 

I enjoyed it! 

The songs were so diverse, from hard rock to soft rock to ethnic/folk to ´typical bland normal Eurovision-y fare´.  Indeed I had a load of admin projects on hand to attend to during the show.  But nothing got done, I watched the whole show.  And Romeo H too! 

I enjoy learning what different countries presented at a reflection of their taste.... though I did note some of the female singers representing countries who go  in for a lot of female cover-up, were attired in ´somewhat less cover-up´ than may have been seen on their streets at home!!

Well done to Rotterdam, the coverage had a good tempo and a nice flow to it. The four announcers did a fine job; for the most part they spoke in English, some might say the presentation was bland, but in fairness they were presenting to 250 million viewers who spoke dozens of different languages.  

In addition the organisers were very creative in how they introduced the artists to us the viewers; for example the little computerized huts showing items relevant to each country´s singer or their song.   

And the logistics!  When one considers just of the challenge of staging of the event with Covid restrictions to deal with.  And not just that, but to safely accommodate all the guests in the city for the Eurovision etc etc. 

I think one could safely say all the fun, frolics and fluff that is the Eurovision has achieved its aim of some 65 years ago, which was to bring together and celebrate a diverse Europe.  Wonderful stuff. Just wonderful!  

That is my opinion, and I am sticking to it! 

Note: To my non-European blog readers, see link to Eurovision coverage.

https://eurovisionworld.com/eurovision/songs-videos

P.S. I voted for Belgium: In the Wrong Place.


Friday, April 30, 2021

The First Day of the Rest of my Life - AGAIN!


Ok, so regular blog readers will have observed, that this ´ First Day of the Rest of my Life` business has been going on with me quite a bit these last 12 months.  But in fairness, it has been a great 12 months of new life stuff what with my retirement and all. 

So this First Day of the Rest of my Life story is about my FREE travel pass; from the age of 66 eligible residents in Ireland can travel on public transport for free. 
 
And that is what I did for my 66h!
 
I had a great day using my brand new free travel card.  
 
While Covid restrictions prevented a wild day trip to Cork or some such, I took myself off to Kilsheelan using my free OAP bus pass.  A grand walk by the river an ice cream and then I came home.
 
Photos attached - include a photo of bus driver who enjoyed the story of ´my first time´.  It was he suggested he should hold up my OAP pass on its first use.  As it happens the driver himself came from Kilsheelan, so he was delighted I was visiting the village as my first free travel adventure.

And yes what with Covid county restrictions it was, a few teeny tiny miles over the county border into Tipperary from  Kilkenny.  I know I know...  I am a bold OAP! (old age pensioner). 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
That evening a stake dinner and some nice wine which Romeo H had chosen for me,  so it was just a grand day. 


And more good stuff: I received my Covid vaccine four days later! 

Well I tell you, things are looking better-er and better-er these days.   
 Happy Day dear reader!
 
Addendum 1: 
Fortunately some one asked about the castle in the picture.  A most interesting story that I was glad I followed up on.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Gurteen_de_la_Poer
 
And more, the castle is now owned by an Austrian artist whose work myself and Romeo H know. So that was a nice twist to an already nice day!
https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/interiors/gottfried-helnweis-tipperary-castle-a-great-backdrop-for-his-art-1.2671800
Addendum 2:  
 I want to acknowledge the work of the late Brian Lenihan Snr. a politician who put together the free travel scheme for seniors. He died before the scheme could be put into action.  
 
Alas credit for the free travel scheme is sometimes erroneously given to another Irish politician, the late rouge, thieving, corrupt, embezzling, tax evading, bribe taking Charlas Haughey.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Haughey