Monthly Archives: December 2016

Christmas in Florida

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We made it to Florida on Dec 17 unscathed.  We welcomed the return of the warm sun and the gorgeous foliage and summer smells.  The weather has been spectacular – setting some all time high temperatures in December and being the warmest place in North America north of Mexico.

Our 2 bdrm. condo is delightful and fully equipped.  Everything is clean and well thought out by the owner.  She was very helpful in quickly getting us hooked up to internet and answering our questions.  We are very pleased.

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Christmas here we go

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View from the lanai

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100 steps to the pool

We hit the beaches and pool.  In the days leading up to Christmas there was absolutely no traffic.  We went to Sanibel Island (20 min), Fort Myers Beach (15 min) and Cape Coral beach (10 min).  There is only one other couple staying in our 8 condo building at present.

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Our little lake – ducks, muscovy, ibis, green heron and anhingas abound

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The Pool

We made it to church on Christmas Eve – it was packed.  A 10 piece choir ensemble complete with pounding organ, violins and much volume added to the beautiful service.  It is good to be back in this place – Church of the Resurrection.

Church of the Resurrection

On Christmas morning we opened a few gifts and then headed to Fort Myers Beach.  Thinking everything is closed, parking will be free etc… were we wrong.  It seems the thing to do in Fort Myers on Christmas day is go to the beach.  It was as crowded as March Break.

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We enjoyed a great day and headed home to call Kyle and text Michelle.  All was well with our loved ones and they were having a great Christmas too.  Looking forward to Michelle and Tim’s visit with the boys in Feb and to Kyle and Ashley’s wedding in May.

Had a surprise visitor – Marie’s nephew Bradley drove down from Inglewood.  He is on holiday there with his wife.  Marie’s brother Kevin will be coming down for a visit and we will do New Years together.

In general Christmas by our standards is low key here.  There are a few decorations and lights around.  We were not inundated with flyers, sales, Boxing day etc.  They don’t even do boxing day here – it’s an English thing.  Anyway, no complaints.  Bye for now.

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Kingdom of Mercy

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On Feb 22, 1931, St. Faustina wrote in her diary while in her cell in Plock, Poland:

“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment.  One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the
inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.” (47)

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Painting of the Divine Mercy Image and St. Faustina in the Sisters of Divine Mercy Convent    Jezu Ufam Tobie – Jesus I trust in You

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Restoration of the Plock convent destroyed by the Nazis in WWII is well underway

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Original Divine Mercy Image painting, Vilnius, LI

In Advent we await the coming of Jesus, the Incarnation of the Word, our Saviour.  But the Kingdom of God is already at hand (Mt. 3:2, 4:17).  We do not have to wait, according to Jesus, the Kingdom of God is already in us (Luke 17:21).Image result for st faustina diary

St. Faustina wrote in her diary on Feb 1, 1938:

O my Jesus, I have only one task to carry out in my lifetime, in death and throughout eternity, and that is to adore Your incomprehensible mercy.  No mind, either of angel or man, will ever fathom the mysteries of Your mercy, O God.  The angels are lost in amazement before the mystery of divine mercy, but cannot comprehend it. Everything that has come from the Creator’s hand is contained in this inconceivable mystery; that is to say, in the very depths of His tender mercy.  When I meditate on this, my spirit swoons, and my heart dissolves in joy.  O Jesus, it is through your compassionate Heart, as through a crystal, that the rays of divine mercy have come to us.” (1554)

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On April 30, 200o Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina Kowalska and included these words: “Sr Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence:  by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren. “

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The Kingdom of Mercy is at hand.  St Faustina, pray for us.

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The Prince-bishop’s Palace at Wurzburg

The visit to Wurzburg and tour of the Prince-bishop’s Palace or Residence was one of the highlights of our river cruise this past year.  It was a glorious day with plenty of sunshine.  We had a wonderful guide, an architect-historian with a great sense of humour.  Finally it was not crowded so we had an intimate tour.

Wurzburg is a city of 25,000 in the region of Franconia in northern Bavaria.  It is situated on the Main (pronounced myan) River halfway between Nuremburg and Frankfurt.  “Don’t call us Bavarians” I remember our guide saying, “we are Franconians!”

The Wurzburg Residence was constructed over the period 1720-44 by Johan Philipp Franz and Frederik Carl von Schonburg, both Prince-bishops.  They wanted to built a palace that rivaled Versailles in Paris and the Schonbrunn in Vienna.  They succeeded.  Their masterpiece is considered one of the greatest baroque palaces in Europe!

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Known for its Baroque staircase and vaulted frescoed ceiling over, it is a feast for the eyes and imagination.

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(Photo by Myriam Thyes – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51453126)

I remember too, the Room of Mirrors and the immense gorgeous tapestries that hung from many of the walls.  Napoleon slept here on 3 separate occasions and signed a declaration of war against Prussia.

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Image result for Wurzburg room of mirrors

Then we went outside to the beautiful and easily accessible gardens.

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A prince-bishop was a bishop who was also a civil ruler of an ecclesial state – a secular principality that was also a diocese.  Prince-bishoprics were most common in the Holy Roman Empire, where many were formally elected and awarded the rank of an Imperial Prince, granting them the power over a certain territory and representation in the Imperial Diet.  The Pope would then confirm their appointment as a Bishop. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the title became finally defunct.

The Bishopric of Wurzburg existed from 1168 to 1803, a long time indeed.  Johann Philipp Franz von Schonborn was born into a wealthy Wurzburg family in 1673.  His uncle was the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz.  He was educated at a Jesuit school, at several German universities and in Rome.  He was elected Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg by the Wurzburg Cathedral Chapter in 1719 and ordained a priest the following year.  He commissioned the Wurzburg Residence in 1720 but died of a heart attack in 1724. His brother Friedrich Karl von Schonborn, took over as Prince-bishop and continued the construction, seeing it largely finished in 1844.  He died, presumably a happy man in 1849.

Bild: Balthasar Neumann, Darstellung im Deckenfresko des Treppenhauses

Balthasar Neumann, Principal Architect of Wurzburg Residence

 

On March 16, 1945 a devastating air raid severely damaged Wurzburg and the Residence.  The central building was almost totally burnt out.  Fortunately some of the furnishings and sections of the wall panelling had been removed in time escaping the inferno.  The building was completely and lovingly restored from 1945 to 1987.  This work was guided by an American who I recall, had been part of the bombing party.  In 1981 the Residence, Court Gardens and Square were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site

 

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We also visited the Palace of Versailles near Paris on this trip.  While it is even more impressive in scale and stature, we found it too crowded and too immense.  In the moment we much prefered the intimate scale and peaceful grandeur at Wurzburg.  Oh, oh Baroque!

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Florida 2016

Some people don’t care for Florida, others do.  We are partial to Florida because we can drive there, stay longer, the weather is great and the people very friendly.  This year we headed down in mid-January and immediately embarked on a cruise.

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Leaving from Fort Lauderdale

We headed south, way south to Grand Turk, Curacao and Aruba.  The food and itinerary were good, we didn’t particularly like the layout of this ship.  They had these bleacher seats that some people seemed to really enjoy for people watching.  We much prefer a quiet sunny/shady spot not too far from the pool which we were able to find.

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Time for a beer

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Coming into Willemstad, Curacao it was really windy

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Even the flamengoes found it windy

We went to a beach and toured the Curacao (blue) liqueur factory.  I read recently that Venezuealans were taking flimsy boats to Curacao across the 100 km straight to escape hunger in their collapsing country.  Very sad and dangerous.

We set sail for Aruba on our second visit there.  Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire are part to the Dutch West Indies.  Aruba is the most economically well off.

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The shopping is great in Oranjestad, Aruba

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An iguana up close

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Our favorite towel animal

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Heading back now

Back in Florida, we felt well primed for more sun and headed for Fort Myers, our 4th visit there.  The first time we drove down MacGregor Blvd in 2009 between all those tall royal palms, it felt like home.

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Fort Myers Beach looking north

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Friendly gator napping in Lakes Park

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Dave’s namesake is big in Fort Myers

We rent a condo in South Fort Myers about 25 min from Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.  We find the location central to a lot of fun activities.  We enjoy daily walking, going to the beach once or twice a week, hitting the pool for some laps or a noodle ride, going to Lakes Park for the green market, yoga in the park, visiting with friends and special events.

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Our modest condo in February

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Gorgeous places to walk

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Our local church is within walking distance

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Fort Myers Beach

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My cousin Cheryl with husband Larry at Lakes Park

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With John and Anita at the Mucky Duck

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Yoga in the park, free every Saturday

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Our condo in March was really nice

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Pool heated to 29 deg C every day

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Dancing at the Punta Gorda Wine and Jazz Festival

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A smooth jazz blowout concert under the palms

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A powerful Osprey

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With Anita and John on Sanibel Island

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March Break crowds

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With friends Dick and Carol who live on Sanibel Island

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With cousin Cheryl and family at the Grandeeza County Club

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At Hammond field to watch the Twins and the Pirates

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At our favorite restaurant

Before we said goodbye to Florida, we put the word out around the pool that we would like to come back for an even longer time in 2017.  The night before we left a lady called us to offer her condo for rental for 3 mos. at a reasonable price.  By the time we got home we had booked with her by email.  It was a great trip and we thanked God for his protection, our good health, his mercy and the many gifts we received on this trip.

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Welcome home Gran Marie and Papa Dave!

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