Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"O'er all the sand-waste, with a gradual fall,
Were raining down dilated flakes of fire,
As of the snow on Alp without a wind. 

As Alexander, in those torrid parts 
f India, beheld upon his host 
Flames fall unbroken till they reached the ground,"

Dante Inferno XIV, Longfellow trans. 

And the winter weather, skiffs of snow regularly 
since our return from Venice 
continues apace.

Monday, October 17, 2016

"As in the Arsenal of the Venetians 

Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch 
To smear their unsound vessels o’er again,

 For sail they cannot; and instead thereof 
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks 
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made; 

One hammers at the prow, one at the stern, 
This one makes oars, and that one cordage twists, 
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen; 

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine, 
Was boiling down below there a dense pitch 
Which upon every side the bank belimed."

Dante Inferno Canto XXI, Longfellow trans.

Our trip to Venice offered the opportunity to experience a number of things. Great art, wonderful food, spectacular buildings and a palpable sense of history.

I have two individuals whose work and life I have been keenly interested in Charles Darwin and Dante, okay a bit of a contrast but whatever. So I was really ecstatic one foggy morning to see the Venetian Arsenal the site of so much of the naval power of the Venetian Republic at the height of it's power. It was also the subject of a metaphor in Dante's Inferno, so for me to see it was to experience both history and literature.

"The image of the busy shipyard with its activity revolving around a vat of viscous pitch establishes the tone for this canto (and the next) as one of tense and excited movement. Also we once again see Dante imitating the action with his language: the busy syntax reflects the activity of the shipyard" 

from the notes to Mark Musa's translation of the Inferno (probably my favourite)

"The Arsenal at Venice ( built in 1104 and greatly enlarged in 1303-4 and 1325 ) was one of the most important shipyards in Europe in Dante's time. About two miles in perimeter, it was enclosed within high walls surmounted by battlements and flanked by towers. See F.C. Lane (1934) ,pp. 129-31" 

from the Charles S. Singleton's  Commentary to the Inferno. p. 365

Friday, October 14, 2016


“Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased," Polo said. "Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”

from Invisible Cites 
By Italio Calvino

My wife and I spent 8 days at the beginning of Oct. in Venice a trip she has been planning for years. It exceeded our expectations and will be the subject of many posts. To start, we saw

Grand Canals

lovely but less grand canals

Winged Lions, Helen loves winged lions.

Venice from the tower at San Giorgio Maggiore.

The Doge's Palace, truly amazing.

The last evening of this trip, The Campo San Polo.

 And Polo said: 'Every time I describe a city I am saying 
something about Venice.” 

from Invisible Cites 
By Italio Calvino

Saturday, September 24, 2016

“All the world, as a matter of fact, is a mosaic of little places invisible to the powers that be. And in the eyes of the powers that be all these invisible places do not add up to a visible place. They add up to words and numbers.” 

from Jayber Crow
by Wendell Berry

My wife and I enjoyed driving about the countryside this summer stopping in small towns and looking for birds. Just outside Krydor (the name is an amalgamation of parts of the names of two early founders) we stopped at this church. The first Ukrainian Services in Krydor started in 1921 in private homes, the present church appears to have been completed in 1945. The sign outside identifies it as the Ukrainian Orthodox Mission of St Peter and St Paul. The current town of Krydor (first postmaster 1918) has 25 residents. I did not take any photos of the town itself which I regret. There was small main street of a couple of blocks with a number of the small wood frame false front stores and businesses common in the Canadian prairies from 1900-1930's. All appeared to be boarded up, the only sign of activity a new super-mail box outside one building. I hope to go back next summer but for now here are photos of the church. There was one headstone from the 2000's and the grounds are well maintained.

"He sees that they are the dead, and they are alive. He sees that he lives in eternity as he lives in time, and nothing is lost. Among the people of that town, he sees men and women he remembers, and men and women remembered in memories he remembers, and they do not look as he ever saw or imagined them. The young are no longer young, nor the old old. They appear as children corrected and clarified; they have the luminous vividness of new grass after fire. And yet they are mature as ripe fruit. And yet they are flowers."

From Remembering
by Wendell Berry

Monday, August 29, 2016


"So gradual in those summers was the going
     of the age it seemed that the long days setting out
when the stars faded over the mountains were not
     leaving us even as the birds woke in full song and the dew
glittered in the webs it appeared then that the clear morning
     opening into the sky was something of ours
to have and keep"

from The Speed of Light
W.S. Merwin

The migrating birds are going or gone now and soon we will
follow them, but while touring sloughs a few weeks ago we 
saw a number of Sora, a bird we rarely see. The adults stayed
well hidden but here one perfect tiny dancer completes the 
last steps of her dance before her final curtsey.

“Sometimes I need

only to stand
wherever I am 
to be blessed.” 

from Evidence?
by Mary Oliver

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Well, what tongue does the wind talk? 
What nationality is a storm? 
What country do rains come from? 
What color is lightning? 
Where does thunder goe when it dies?” 

from Something Wicked This Way Comes
by Ray Bradbury

On July 4th I wrote about a big thunderstorm we had. Aside from
dog related trauma things seem to go okay. However the next day
my brother-in-law found one of his younger cows dead on a hill 
in the pasture possibly struck by lightning. It definitely struck this
poplar trees in one of the hay fields.

Monday, August 15, 2016

This summer we have seen mostly Red Tailed Hawks, they

haunt our hay field daily. These photos of a Red Tail on a
truly awe-inspiring rock pile are the result of a trip to look 
for shorebirds that we took last week between Lac La Peche 
and Hafford Saskatchewan.

Sorry about the different fonts blogger will not post the edits.

"Look! Look! he is climbing the last light 
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under 
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings 
Into shadow. 

Long now, 
The last thrush is still, the last bat 
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom 
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star 
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain. 

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear 
The earth grind on its axis, or history 
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar."

from Evening Hawk
by Robert Penn Warren