Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all my American family and friends. My Boyds Bear wall calendar shows the sweet fluffy family all dressed and ready for the celebrations. These bears look far less fearsome than my Grizzlys on yesterday’s post. 🙂

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The quote for the month captured my attention, so I had to investigate it, and I discovered that it’s the final rule taken from the 110 “Rules of civility and decent behaviour in company and conversation,” composed by French Jesuits in 1595. These rules were all copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by the young George Washington’s school master. The essence of this set of rules is that we should treat everyone with respect, be considerate of others and don’t embarrass them. We should refrain from drawing attention to ourselves, be concise when we speak and not make fun of anything which is important to others. If we must criticise someone,  we need to make sure we’re not guilty of the same failing, and shouldn’t be quick to believe bad reports about others. We should associate with good people, and rather be alone than in bad company. There are also many references to table manners and matters of correct dress, as well as these two interesting items. “Shake not the head, feet, or legs. Roll not the eyes. Lift not one eyebrow higher than the other. Wry not the mouth, and bedew no man’s face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak. Kill no vermin as fleas, lice, ticks etc in the sight of others. If you see any filth or thick spittle, put your foot dexterously upon it.” You can read all 110 rules here if you would like to. I found them quite fascinating.

This great man who served two terms as the first US President, realised that the way he handled this onerous job would impact on how future presidents approached the position. Consequently, he handed down a legacy of strength, integrity and national purpose.

George Washington Monument, Washington DC

George Washington Monument, Washington DC

I’m sure that learning all those rules at such an early age, must have had something to do with it, and I think the last one which appears on my calendar, is the most important of all. Perhaps an updated version of these rules to live by, should be introduced into schools, and should certainly be read  and inwardly digested by all prospective world leaders. What do you think?

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Jake’s Sunday Post: Reflections

Once again, Jake has given us a wonderful new theme. Photos which feature reflections are often very attractive, as they have an extra dimension to them. Here are a few of mine.

This was taken through our coach window, one rainy spring evening in Paris.

The gardens of the beautiful Alhambra Palace in Granada have lovely water features which yield many reflections. I put this one in especially for Marianne of ‘East of Malaga‘, who seems to have a thing about this particular Spanish garden. 🙂

In order to see the traditional Thai way of living in Bangkok, one needs to take a tour of the ‘khlongs’ of Thonburi, the old capital city situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. These old waterways have avoided much of the modern development of the rest of the city, and still retain their ramshackle charm.

I couldn’t leave the magnificent Li River out of my collection, so here is a pic showing the wonderful reflections of those picturesque green karst hills which line the river between Guilin and Yangshuo. Some of the fisherman still live on traditional houseboats.

Of course when looking for photos of reflections in water, Venice is always a good bet.

Florence has the beautiful medieval Ponte Vecchio, which in Italian simply means ‘old bridge.’ It spans the Arno River, and was one of the many highlights of our Italian tour last year.

This is the opulently decorated lobby of our hotel in Marrakech. On our arrival, it looked like a palace to me, but of course as one often finds in big, fancy hotels, the rooms weren’t nearly as spacious as one might have expected. 🙂

Washington has many opportunities for snapping a few reflections, and this photo was taken one July 4th, when people were out celebrating Independence Day on the lawns surrounding the famous ‘Reflecting Pool’ which lies between the Lincoln memorial and the imposing Washington Monument, a marble obelisk built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington.

Last but by no means least, is my very favourite reflection photo of them all, taken in Amsterdam long before digital cameras came into being. If you imagine that Venice is  the only romantic city boasting beautiful canals, you’re very much mistaken. Canals are a symbol of Amsterdam, and are now proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is sometimes known as “The Venice of the north,”  and if you’ve been there, you will know why.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my selection of reflections for Jake’s theme. To see more entries, just click here.

Happy Independence Day.

I would like to wish all my American friends and family a very happy Independence Day today. Every year, I buy myself a Boyds Bear wall calendar because I just love those fluffy teddy bears, who are always whimsically dressed for the occasion. Of course this month, they’re all ready for the July 4th celebrations.

I well remember the first time we were in the USA for Independence Day. In 1995, we happened to be in San Francisco. Although it was supposed to be mid summer, it was bitterly cold, and I was shivering so much at Fisherman’s Wharf, that I had to buy myself a warm sheepskin jacket. It was quite telling, that most of the T-shirts on sale, were long-sleeved. Obviously the traders know what the summer weather can be like there. Here I am huddled inside my jacket, outside the famous Ghirardelli chocolate shop. (Excuse the hair. It was the fashion then.) 😉

When evening came, and it was time for the firework display to start, the fog came down like a wet blanket, and it would have been impossible to see anything worthwhile, so we took our opportunity to dive into a restaurant for dinner, before the hoards arrived after the display. It was so warm and cosy in there, and we didn’t regret not standing out in the cold mist, one little bit.

The following year, we were in Washington, and had proper summer weather. We watched the parade, which was spectacular.


Many families were gathered for picnics and games on the lawns near the Reflecting Pond which lies between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument on the National Mall, was built to commemorate the first US President, General George Washington, and is the world’s tallest stone structure, and also the world’s tallest obelisk. It stands over 555 feet high, and weighs about 40,000 tons.

Trust the Americans to build one even taller than the Egyptians. 😉 (The tallest Egyptian obelisk which stands in the square in front of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, is a mere 105.6 feet tall and weighs 455 tons.)

Our son whose name is Jefferson, had to have his photo taken with his namesake, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and who of course later became President of the United States.

I find it fascinating that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only signers who later served as President, died on the same day, July 4th, 1826. A third president, James Monroe also died on July 4th, 1831. The 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, born on July 4th, 1872, is so far, the only President to have been born on Independence Day.

Well it’s not a special day here in South Africa, except of course for the people who will be shopping at our local mall. They’ll be able to hear me playing piano for them. Last week, I had one guy dancing to my music, and a lady insisted I play “Unforgettable” for her mother listening in on her cell phone in Cape Town. 😉

Have a great day everyone, wherever you are. Make it really count.