Saturday 30 March 2013

Good Friday in Rome

On Good Friday last year, I was curious to attend as the Pope led the traditional Catholic "Way of Cross" procession around the Colosseum, and it was a wonderful experience.

But this year, I felt like a less crowded and more casual sort of day - so I met an Italian friend for coffee and language practice at the Piazza del Popolo.

For another change of pace, I thought I would photograph the statues around the piazza in a different way, getting up close to a few of the statues and even a few of the regular feline residents there.

That's the back of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea who watches over the oval-shaped piazza and below, one of the scary dolphins that assists him.

On the other side of the piazza, another fierce dolphin (why do artists make them look so war-like? I guess if you're a guard dolphin,  you've got to be a fighter.) This one guards the patron goddess of Rome, Roma.

Here's the goddess Roma and a few of her sidekicks resting below the Pincio Hill and the Villa Borghese.

And of course there are the cats that live in the small parks and grass around the edges of the piazza. Some cats don't seem that interested in visitors....

Yet others are very curious and by the looks of the ribs on this poor little fellow, hungry for some food and affection, and willing to pose for both!

Saturday 23 March 2013

Annus Horribilis

In late 1992, Queen Elizabeth II described the closing year as an "annus horribilis" meaning a very horrible year.

So far, I'm seeing 2013 as my personal annus horribilis, although it is only late March and I have not yet lost all hope of turning things around.

Queen Elizabeth used the phrase in a speech, saying: "1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis."

A lot of very unpleasant things happened to the queen that year which led to that quote: several of her children endured very public marital breakdowns, and one of the queen's homes, Windsor Castle, caught fire causing seriously damage.

But I believe I can relate to her misery.

In mid-February, we were told that my 87-year-old mother's lingering stomach problems were due to an aggressive cancerous tumour growing beneath her liver, cutting off its functions. The prognosis? Terminal.

I wanted to rush to see her while I still could - but I was having my own stomach horribilis and for a month, could barely drink water or stand upright.

When that finally settled in early March, I rushed to Alberta. My brother Noel, at the same time, was arranging his flight from his home in the San Francisco Bay area. A few days later, his partner called. Noel's trip was cancelled because he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

One week later, as we were helping Mom make her final arrangements, my brother died.

Mom is now in hospice care and, having written Noel's obituary, I'm now turning my attention to writing one for my mother. I will have some time to work on it, although the lesson from my brother is not to take time for granted.

I'm preparing for my mother's end and although I returned to Rome from Canada just four days ago, I'm looking into flights to Calgary again. Not a pleasant task.

But spring is arriving, the cherry blossoms are coming out, and I'm praying that there might still be some way to turn around 2013, from this present annus horribilis to an "annus mirabilis": a wonderful year.

BTW, the photos is of a cherry tree in blossom at the EUR park in south Rome.