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Monday, July 4, 2011

Winnipeg S.E.

These last few days I have been in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Canada) This is three or more hours by jet away east from my usual region and things are a little different.

Winnipeg is a large, flat city, with a good deal of greenspace including an enormous, beautiful park. It is somewhat in a state of urban flux; as a result there are huge swathes of land with unused housing and cool-looking, unutilized warehouse and shop space...

I just wanted to grab hold of a building, stick it in my pocket and carry it home and set it somewhere nice and convenient. Boom! Art/game studios.

The one pictured below I sat outside of and meowed, but no-one gave me it.

I was in Winnipeg to visit on the occasion of my Granddad's memorial. My Granddad was a very remarkable, special, ingenious, good humoured and heartfelt person.

I took the opportunity to visit with friends and extended family. With the birth of my cousin John's son James, my Grandma is a great-grandmother. I couldn't think of a more deserving or suitable woman for this title.

Me, Dad, Katherine and Grandma.

As a scout in Poland on exercise during 1939, Granddad and a troop of boys happened upon an army column, and were strongly instructed to just keep on marching until they left Poland. The Nazi invasion had set in.

Granddad, a Polish RAF Tiger Moth, and his service medals.

Granddad made his way in an amazing adventure to England, where he flew as part of the Polish expatriate division of the Royal Air Force. To begin with he flew a Tiger Moth biplane, an aircraft he particularly cherished for its good temper and manoeuverability.

In action he flew a Wellington twin-engined bomber. 'Betty' and her crew flew 30 sorties and accounted for one Me110 shot down by night. By the end of his service, Kazimierz Toziczka was decorated with honours including the Virtuti Militari, Poland's cultural equivalent of the Victoria Cross, her highest military decoration for heroism and courage in the face of the enemy.

On the left: Tiger Moth. On the right: Wellington. Above the Tiger Moth is a plaque featuring the Wellington and a crowned Polish Eagle.

Grandma's home is beautifully decorated with Granddad's drawings and paintings. My photography cannot do these justice. I was plagued by flash blowback on all but a very few shots, most of the paintings/drawings which appear were done on board unglazed which gives them a matte finish.

One style Granddad liked was to use ink and white crayon on board, yielding captivating images. Below is a young girl, possibly a Madonna:

He and Grandma, Gwendolen James, were married more than 60 years. They are some of the most wonderful, incredible people I know.

The poverty of this format in its current incarnation, to get across Granddad's art and life in images in their fullness, cannot be understated. I content myself with the affirmation that my appreciation of Granddad's life is continuing. Here's that first picture again. And here is to an inspiring man who helped imbue me with life, Kenneth James (born Kazimierz Toziczka).

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