I do love winter.
Nothing compares to the sight of snowflakes falling. The closest I have come to hearing it expressed is:
“Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder
Where it’s so white as snow”
In terms of painting, Lucas van Valckenborch’s Winter:
Growing up, I was fortunate to be surrounded by snow. There were snowmen to build and snowballs to throw. Forts were constructed and tunnels dug. We climbed steep hills with our sleds and then sped down them.
In midwinter after snowstorms we’d carefully remove the storm window of our second floor bedroom, and jump, sinking down into the huge drifts of snow.
Hours upon hours were spent outside until your cheeks were red from the biting cold, and you went inside for a cup of hot chocolate to warm up before you went out again.
In the backyard the creek froze over, and we’d clear it with shovels and brooms. If you kept skating you’d arrive in the city, which even then I knew led to the whole wide world.
No, I’m not talking about someone being released from prison.
It’s the title of my novel, you see.
For those who do read it, and like it, a review would be greatly appreciated.
I have finally got round to seeing Zero Dark Thirty.
Although the director, Kathryn Bigelow, says that torture did not lead to the location of Bin Laden, the beginning of the movie had quite a bit of it. Considering it received a Best Picture nomination, one can only assume that skin-flaying will figure prominently in next year’s choices.
When I am dead, my dearest by Christina Rossetti
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply I may forget.
I do love Canaletto.
Here are 585 of his works.
Tracy Cooper (in this article) says of him, “Of all the Venetian view painters, Canaletto took the most trouble to give every single one of the figures its own character and individuality. This is even truer of the dogs which clearly held a special place in his affections – each one is portrayed with movement and vibrancy.”
I’ve not counted, but there are an awfully lot of dogs!
We flew into Vienna a few days before Christmas, and through a complete fluke found ourselves in the best hotel we’ve ever stayed at.
It was about a minute or two on foot from Belvedere and about a mile and a half from the center. Nearby was a rink where we skated:
Vienna has plazas and stately buildings.
(Photographer: Jorge Lascar)
The Kunsthistorisches is one of the best art museums I have ever been to:
The Albertina is impressive:
If you visit Prater, you will no doubt ride the Ferris Wheel made famous in The Third Man. We went on a gloomy day, and our cabin was decidedly rundown, but we still got a good view of the city. No zither music was heard.
In the Sala Terrena we heard a string quartet perform pieces by Mozart, Bach, and Haydn. The latter being a favorite, we made a pilgrimage on 3 separate occasions to his home but each time found it closed. Don’t let anyone tell you there aren’t disadvantages of traveling during the holidays.
A visit to Vienna would not be complete without seeing the Schönbrunn Palace. As palaces go, I invariably find the exterior more appealing than the interior. Enjoy the Christmas markets with their ornaments and knicknacks. Try the hot spiced wine. While not to our liking, others seemed genuinely enamored by it.
(Photographer: David M. Cerna)
The food we had throughout our stay was good – schnitzel and sausages the basic fare. However, on New Year’s Eve we treated ourselves to a four-course dinner atop the Danube Tower, which while quite a walk from the underground stop did take us through a park with lamp posts that brought to mind Lucy’s first trip to Narnia.
Vienna is well known for its pastry shops. Although Café Sacher is probably the most famous, I would avoid it at all costs. It wasn’t that there was anything terribly wrong with what we had, but neither was it worth waiting in line for an hour only to be served by an overly stuffy waiter and afterwards be given a bill so inflated one could not help but wonder whether the hyperinflation of the 1920s had returned. My willingness to occasionally be drawn into tourist traps no doubt has its origin in the family vacations of my youth.
Please do visit others though as your sweet tooth will be thoroughly satisfied. On our last day, we stumbled upon one whose display window itself was a work of art. We struggled to make ourselves understood (I’ve forgotten what little German I had.), and then sat in the company of two old women in furs and a man slowly sipping his coffee as he paged through his newspaper.
Vienna is a beautiful city, and is well-worth visiting, but it does have a darker side. Scroll up to the third photo. It is Heidenplatz where the Anschluss took place. It is also the name of a play by Thomas Bernhard whose Wittengstein’s Nephew should be on everyone’s shelf.
Should you find yourself in Judenplatz, you will come across this:
(Photographer: Hans Peter Schaefer)
The inscriptions below the door reads:
Zum Gedenken an die mehr als 65 000 österreichischen Juden,
die in der Zeit von 1938 bis 1945 von den
Nationalsozialisten ermordet wurden.
זכר למעלה מ-65.000 יהודים אוסטריים
שנרצחו בשנים 1945-1938
.ע”י הפושעים הנציונלסוציאליסטיים ימ”ש
In commemoration of more than 65,000 Austrian Jews
who were killed by the Nazis between
1938 and 1945.
Recently I was asked, “Is there a difference between a crow and a raven?”
Instead of faking an answer, which I couldn’t do if I tried, I said I wasn’t sure, and that I’d find out.
We learn from the excellent source I linked that “since ravens belong to the crow (corvus) family of birds, they can be called-but not all crows are ravens.”
Tell me if I didn’t suffer some sort of trauma but after reading “not all…are….” I had a flashback to when I sat for the GRE and tried to twist my very unanalytical mind around the logical reasoning questions.
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.
Bob Dylan’s wonderful Love Minus Zero/No Limit.
Brueghel’s The Hunters in the Snow. (Photograph of painting taken by Yelkrovade)
I had made the final changes to the novel, still not perfect, but probably as good as it will ever be and was planning to look through it one more time and push the publish button today, when lo and behold, the buzzer doesn’t ring, and I find myself signing for my new computer or rather the three-month-old computer, which is now in possession of a new hard drive whose life I hope is longer than one of those nuclear materials that unfortunately haunt rather than illuminate desert areas. At the time, I had to make a decision – carry on using the old computer, or open the box, and see what in the world I was in possession of.
Metros are not famous for their civility. Eyes rarely meet. The only unifying factor seems to be distance. While above ground one might be charmed by a flowing Renoir dress or enraptured by a Viennese delicacy, underground things are rather pedestrian. Not so in Barcelona. During our week there I have never been offered more seats by complete strangers, smiled at by workers coming home from a long shift at work or just felt perfectly at home with a people whose tongue I did not share but whose spirit I admired.
Street musicians play superbly, but then again considering that those licensed to do so have to pass exams, it probably makes sense. The mimes on Las Ramblas are delightful. Park Güell and Casa Batlló are enchanting. The interior of Sagrada Familia is breathtaking.
As you pass from one room to another of the Picasso Museum, each dedicated to particular years of the artist’s life, his experimentation and mastery of different styles will be evident. Clearly he was looking for his own unique style.
I’ve never eaten better food than the tapas in the Santa Caterina Market: grilled/breaded calamari, asparagus tempura with Romesco sauce, marinated/salted anchovies, cod canape topped with Samfaina, crusty bread topped with La Pena sardines.
One late evening, on our way back from tapas, we looked up at the sky above the Barcelona Cathedral, and I swear it was something out of El Greco.
Life flows like a stream.
If I were Henri Bergson, I would say they capture the flux of life. They are not to use the literal translation of still life in Greek (νεκρή φύση): dead nature. They do not to use Wordsworth, “murder to dissect.”
So consider if you will the works of Heda, Kalf, Ruysch, and Bosschaert. Here is the latter’s Vase with Flowers in a Window from 1611: