Thinking of my grandfather today who fought in WW1. He was a sapper or engineer whose job it was to ensure a steady supply of materials to the front lines. I remember the stories he told us as kids - tunneling into the ridge to build a protected rail line during the battle of Vimy Ridge, the gas mask he used to pull out and let us try on, the coin he received after it tipped him off that the guy he was talking to at a bar in Paris might be a German spy, the letters from a mysterious woman he left at home (who was definitely NOT my grandma). As an adult I now realize the things he never spoke of.
Thankful for all who have served to keep our country safe and provide peacekeeping services in countries in turmoil.
It has been 50 years since the Arno River in Florence, Italy, flooded its banks on November 4, 1966, breaching the basements and first floors of museums, libraries, and private residences, and burying centuries of books, manuscripts, and works of art in muck and muddy water.
The catastrophe was not only caused by the amount of water. The powerful flood ruptured heating oil tanks stored under or at ground level of most of the buildings, and the oil mixed with the water and the tons of muddy topsoil washed down the agricultural Arno Valley, causing far greater damage than that attributed to the water alone.
Twenty thousand families lost their homes, fifteen thousand cars were destroyed, and six thousand shops went out of business. At least thirty people were confirmed fatalities, but some reports put the toll at more than a hundred.
At its highest, the water reached over 6.7 meters (22 ft) in the Santa Croce area, more than twice as high as the flood of 1557.
Records after the flood estimated that 1,500 works of art in Florence were disfigured or destroyed. Of these, 850 were seriously damaged, including paintings on wood and on canvas, frescoes and sculptures. Among the casualties were Paolo Uccello’s Creation and Fall at Santa Maria Novella, Sandro Botticelli’s Saint Augustine and Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Saint Jerome at the Church of the Ognissanti, Andrea di Bonaiuto’s The Church Militant and Triumphant at Santa Maria Novella, Donatello’s wooden statue of Mary Magdalenein the Baptistry of the Duomo, Baccio Bandinelli’s white marble Pietà in Santa Croce and Filippo Brunelleschi’s wooden model for the Cupola of the Duomo, in the Duomo’s Museum.
When you're in Florence you'll often see markers showing how high the waters were. This picture puts it into perspective.
It was a cold, drizzly day on 6 December 1989 when a young man brandishing a firearm burst into a college classroom at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada. The 60 or so engineering students there had little time to react before the men were ordered from the room and the gunman began shooting the women. Six female students were killed instantly, while three more were left injured.
The killer, 25-year-old Marc Lépine, was armed with a legally obtained Mini-14 rifle and a hunting knife: he had earlier told a shopkeeper he was going after "small game". Lépine had previously been denied admission to the École Polytechnique and had been upset, it later transpired, about women working in positions traditionally occupied by men. Before he opened fire, Lépine shouted: "You're all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!" One student, Nathalie Provost, protested: "I'm not feminist, I have never fought against men." Lépine shot her anyway.
The gunman then moved through the college corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. By the time Lépine turned the gun on himself, 14 women were dead and another 10 were injured. Four men were hurt unintentionally in the crossfire.
This massacre is one of the reason why Canada does control assault weapons and has fewer gun related deaths than our friends south of the border.
While we were camping last weekend we decided to visit the historic Huron County Jail.
The Huron Historic Gaol is a unique and imposing octagonal building which served as the County Jail from its opening in 1841 until 1972 when all inmates were transferred to regional facilities.
The Gaol is now a National Historic Site. The building originally housed the County Courts and Council Chambers, as well as serving as Gaol and House of Refuge. The Gaol's architect was Thomas Young, and at the time of construction, was viewed as a model of humanitarian prison design.
I was struck with these laminated white cards placed throughout the facility which told the stories of some of the prisoners . . .
It's a long, long way from Toronto's Don Valley Parkway to the royal court of Shah Tahmasp I, who ruled Persia in the 16th century, but all of a sudden closer than you'd think.
On Sept. 18, the Aga Khan Museum, a chiseled, light-filled structure of Brazilian granite, opened its doors to the public and, with a primary goal of raising awareness about Muslim culture.
The project is funded by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, the religious leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community, and his organization, the Aga Khan Development Network.
The museum is the first of its kind, displaying artifacts from Islamic civilizations over the centuries. As the first museum of Islamic art in all of North America, it acts as a pioneer of pluralism and tolerance.
Muslim societies comprise a quarter of the world’s population, yet there is limited knowledge of the people and their faith in the West. This considerable lack of understanding spans all aspects of the peoples of Islam: their pluralism, the diversity of their interpretations of the Qur’anic faith, the chronological and geographical extent of their history and culture, as well as their ethnic, linguistic and social diversity.
Artifacts are displayed on two floors, in large, high-ceilinged, discreetly lit white rooms with teak floors. The main-floor space prefaced by a corridor illuminated by an arresting series of video animations, has its treasures arranged chronologically on an L-shaped footprint, and is decidedly Catholic in its presentation. There are three large vitrines displaying Korans of varying degrees of calligraphic magnificence; a 10th-century inkwell carved from rock crystal; a marble fountain, with geometric mosaics, from a palatial courtyard in 15th-century Egypt; a tunic of beige brocaded silk worn by a horseman in 14th-century Iran; the oldest-known extant version of The Canon of Medicine, compiled in Persia in the 11th century; a bronze astrolabe with silver insets from 14th-century Spain, its surface inscribed in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin.
Not only are the artificats on display stunning - the setting is as well. The structure features a spectacular dome-shaped auditorium, two permanent galleries, a rotating gallery, an Ismaili religious centre, an indoor courtyard and an outdoor courtyard that mimics the Mughal-made Shalimar Gardens in Lahore.
For fine diners, the museum’s Diwan restaurant offers tastes of Turkey, Iran, North Africa, Central and South Asia. For those in search of merchandise, the building has a gift shop that features items inspired by the museum’s collection of nearly 1,000 artifacts.
We all enjoyed out visit to the museum and will be eturning for future exhibits and of course to eat again at Diwan!
The celebration of Remembreance Day will have new meaning in Canada today with two soldiers having been killed on Canadian soil recently.
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. In 1931, Alan Neill, Member of Parliament for Comox–Alberni, introduced a bill to observe Armistice Day only on November 11. Passed by the House of Commons, the bill also changed the name to “Remembrance Day”. The first Remembrance Day was observed on November 11, 1931.
Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace. We remember the more than 1,500,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day. Replica poppies are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion to provide assistance to Veterans.
Remembrance Day is a federal statutory holiday in Canada. It is also a statutory holiday in three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) and in six provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador).
The national ceremony is held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The Governor General of Canada presides over the ceremony. It is also attended by the Prime Minister, other government officials, representatives of Veterans’ organizations, diplomatic representatives, other dignitaries, Veterans as well as the general public.
In advance of the ceremony, long columns of Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, RCMP officers, and cadets march to the memorial lead by a pipe band and a colour guard. At the end of the ceremony, they march away to officially close the ceremony.
Some of the 54 Commonwealth member states, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Other nations observe a solemn day but at different dates. For example, ANZAC Day is observed in New Zealand on April 25. In South Africa, Poppy Day is marked on the Sunday that falls closest to November 11.
Many nations that are not members of the Commonwealth also observe Remembrance Day on November 11, including France, Belgium and Poland.
The United States used to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11. However, in 1954 they changed the name to Veterans Day.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.