Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
above the trees are bowed down under the weight. Below, my poor car is frost bitten. Its like a Batman movie out there right now, starring Jack Frost and Mr Freeze!
Below is a pic of my front porch, with the church in the background. I think it has stopped snowing. Now I am waiting for it to turn into rain, then nice motorcyling weather for the weekend. Yeah...and pigs might fly!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This is just creepy. One wonders how it will look in ten years when it starts to get blurry, and muddled like all tattoos. Sort of a Grey's Anatomy effect.
Oh my, way to freak out a date dude! The latest thing in tattoos...3-D creepy crawlies. eeek!
Here we have a young lady who has everything going on. Nice trim figure, a model's high cheekbones, youth, and a love for lizards. Well, nobody is perfect. Good lizard though....nice three dimentional effect.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This has GOT to be the worst time of year...not quite cold enough to be called winter, not warm enough to wash the car or take a motorcyle ride....and too wet to cork up the little cracks around the windows, on the plus side...the rain means I don't have to wash them. I hate washing windows....
Evestroughs have to emptied of their cargo of leaves, and pumpkins have to be purchased to be ready for the great pumpkin sword cutting party on November first.
The trees which were so colourful last week are all now bare and dead looking. Its time for me to start trimming the cedars...and maybe do some transplanting. This is the time of year to transplant shrubs since they have all gone dormant. Roses never seem to survive around here...they always die off. Ah well...its the time of year for some change. The shop is nice and warm...and later today will be full of busy people happily making armour.
The coffee is good, gas prices are down, the Canadian dollar has fallen through the floor (actually a good thing) and the stock markets seem to be rallying. (though, wait for it!) Brenda has been planning a European trip for a couple of weeks now. She is thinking of putting us in the Middle East around Christmas. Hmmmm. This could be interesting. I rather like the idea of Christmas in Malta. They do Christmas well there. Or maybe Italy. Naples does Christmas like no other place on earth! Ahhh...decisions, decisions. Well, first decision...whose armour will I work on this morning?
Have a great weekend peeps.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The horses were not used for cavalry tactics, but were put to use to carry shells. Thousands of horses died here of stupid things, like stepping on nails from blown apart boxes, and getting infections.
Above is a piece of trench art. These were often made by bored soldiers who were recuperating in field hospitals, as part of their physical therapy. The little tank is made from shell casings and the tracks are made from "drive bands" from exploded shells. The solder was melted out of the joints of tin cans, and the trail wheels are made from uniform buttons. Usually trench art is not quite so elaborate.
above is a view of the famous mud of flanders. Its still sticky. That little village..thats Passchendaele. Compare to the picture of the bombed out birds eye view in the last post. They tell me that that little church is the one where John McCray penned his famous poem "In Flanders Fields". I didnt get into town, I figured I had imposed on my host enough...he drove us out there instead of going to supper. It was only a couple of miles from Ypres.
below is a shot from inside the Menin gate, back in Ypres. Every night at eight o clock, 365 days a year, the sound the "Last Post" and lay wreaths. In the background, above the people, you can see the marble plaques with all the names on them.
This is the modern, rebuilt Cloth Hall. It was in its day, the largest and most elaborate secular building in Europe. I wish I had the pictures from the previous post when I made these...it would have been remarkable to compare then-and-now photos. However, the below picture is such that, if I were to have moved the camera fifty paces to the left, we would be looking down the road at the 1918 camera man. The only thing original , like, from before the war, is the part under the tower. The base of which you can see in the previous post. It is remarkable that so much was re-built. The British regard Ypres as a sort of super large scale monument to their fallen, and it was all British money that went into rebuilding Ypres. It looks much the same, but there are sewers, water, electricity, and so forth unlike before. All underground.
There is a museum, of course, devoted to the war inside that cloth hall. Next post I will put some pics from inside that museum.
Its kind of interesting. They have a sound system that from time to time, as you wander in amongst the recreation of the battle site, lets out a very loud ssssssssssssss-BANG, like a shell going off. I very nearly dived under the table! Made the heart pump though!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The troops would march down this street, and turn left at the other side of what used to be the Cloth Hall, then march towards Menin. Through the Menin gate, and on for a mile and quarter. Hell will be on their right. When I visited the area last April, it was pretty, a bit chilly, and not at all like it was back then. I have posted on that visit in the archives, so I won't bother doing it again...you can check them out here.....http://yusefjournal.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html
The Germans, clever people that they were, held all the high ground. The Canadians got the low ground. This under some stupid idea that one should never give up even an inch of ground. You call THIS ground? Once the shelling started, the drainage failed, and those pools of water...those are the trenches. Some Canadians spent as much as three months up to their chests, moving from one shell crater to another. Trench foot was a serious problem. The duck boards were necessary if you wanted to get anywhere. Note the lack of barbed wire, or anything "trench" like. There might be as many as two hundred men in the above picture...they are keeping their heads down. Or none.
The village of Passchendaele before and after the Candians got through with it. It is placed on hill 47...that means it is only 47 meters above sea level. A gentle rise in the ground is all. The Canadians lost more than 5000 troops in twelve days (fourteen thousand troops by the time it was all over) taking that little town and five times that many wounded...one for every inch of ground. 35 troops for every square yard. The name of this place means "the place where Christ died".
Here is a good view of what it was really like....the stretcher bearers are skirting one of the thousands of water filled craters. The chances were better than even that there is at least one corpse in the bottom of that crater. And that the stretcher bearers are treading on body parts. This was a one of the most horrible battles of a horrible war.
So what got me thinking about this battle, enough to find original pictures of the battle? Well, we all went to the new movie "Passchendaele". It was produced by Paul Gross, the story of how it came about is here in his interview. http://paulgross.org/passch.htm. A film that goes in fits and starts...the teen sex in Calgary, the recruiting pressures, the colonel blimp character we are all (with secretly guilty pleasure) happy to see die a random pointless death, and a few zen like moments about why we do all this. The tear jerking ending was forced harder than a dime romance novel, and was in my opinion unnecessary. And of course the big crucifiction scene where his nightmares became true, thereby bringing the Vale of Passion to life, was perhaps understandably over the top. Though I think the connection should have been stated at least once to avoid a lot of nonsense that will be written in the next few months.
Aside from being far too introspective and too much of a showcase for Gross himself, the movie was a tour d'force of effects and acting. The Candians all sounded like Canadians "Hay..ya got a smoke eh?" rather than British or American, and the movie had subsonics which probably only exist in the theatre. You could feel the floor shake from the "thump" of the artillery shells...and the fight scene was harsher than anything in Private Ryan. A lot of it takes place in the dark, with weird lighting from star shells and fires. All in contrast to the foothills of home in Alberta.
Not a single person was talking in the theatre when I left...everybody was either dabbing at their eyes, or looking stolid. I picked stolid....and didn't risk talking for at least five or ten minutes.
I will see it again, but I need a good break before I do.
At Ypres (pronounced Epray, though the Canadians called it "Wipers", the great northern city gate was rebuilt as a monument. Blomfield's memorial at the Menin Gate combines the architectural images of a classical victory arch and a mausoleum and it contains, inside and out, huge panels into which are carved the names of the 54,896 officers and men of the commonwealth forces who died in the Ypres Salient area and who have no known graves. This figure, however, does not represent all of the missing from this area. It was found that the Menin Gate, immense though it is, was not large enough to hold the names of all the missing. The names recorded on the gate's panels are those of men who died in the area between the outbreak of the war in 1914 and 15th August, 1917. The names of a further 34,984 of the missing - those who died between 16th August, 1917 and the end of the war, are recorded on carved panels at Tyne Cot Cemetery, on the slopes just below Passchendaele.
"What are you guarding, Man-at-Arms?
Why do you watch and wait?"
"I guard the graves," said the Man-at-Arms,
"I guard the graves by Flanders Farms,
Where the dead will rise at my call to arms,
And march to the Menin Gate."
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
On Monday, Lorne, Nadia, Alicia, Mike and Andrea dropped in for an "anti-turkey" day. Lorne brought steaks for all. His girls were with their mom for the day. I opened that day with a nice bike ride to a working grist mill in Manotic. This is actually a UNESCO heritage site, and it functioned as a working grist mill right up to the mid 1970's. Not bad. My camera quit before I could make even ONE picture....oh well, there are plenty of them here.... http://www.watsonsmill.com/Home.html
I went there with Mila who of course, rode here own bike, took the back roads so as to look at the nice trees which are all changing colours. The bike handled kind of oddly, and I suddenly realized that I was by myself today. Normally Brenda is behind me, and the lack of her slight weight made the bike handle differently! When we got back home Andrea and Mike were there. Mike wanted to put in an hour of work or two, so I sent him up a ladder to scrape a window frame, seal and flash the opening. It also gave me a chance to cut and install a piece of lexan to make this window into a double glaze window...imagine...a west window all these years with only single glazing! No wonder it gets so cold back there!!!
Took Andrea for a bike ride, and I think she enjoyed it. Unfortunately, there seems to be something wrong with the bike...the charging system possibly, or maybe just a bad cell in the battery. I don't want to take it too far from home, but the hills becon!! Oh the call of the wild!!
On Tuesday, both Brenda and I worked the polls and counted ballots for the local Federal Election. My American readers are still probably shaking their heads over a election that gets called mid September, and gets done and over with with only 38 days of campaigning. The results were predictable...same guys got in, same minority government. They still, in only 38 days, managed to spend 300 million tax dollars! Though to be fair, they have withheld at least 100 million of those dollars in taxes right off the top! Grrrrr...what other employer...but hey don't get me started!
Bottled some wine (sixty bottles of Chiraz), purchased a thirty bottle batch of Raspberry Zinfandel which should be ready for Christmas, took back a ton of scrap steel for re-cycling, got my trailer tires swapped out with ones that they don't go flat in a day.
So yeah...as Brenda says, we got a right to be a little burnt out this week!
Today, I MUST get some more wire wound and cut. I did 50 pounds on Saturday, and I need another couple of hundred pounds done before I dismantle that rube goldberg set up I use to spin off the wire! This winding of wire...its for making chain mail. Its what I do.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
After numerous rounds of 'We don't even know if Osama bin Laden is still alive', Osama himself decided to send George Bush a letter in his own hand writing to let him know he was still in the game.
Bush opened the letter and it contained a single line of coded message:
Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Condoleezza Rice.
Condi and her aides had not a clue either, so they sent it to the FBI.
No one could solve it at the FBI so it went to the CIA, and then to MI6.
Eventually they asked the Mossad (Israeli intelligence) for help.
Within a minute the Mossad emailed the White House with this reply:
'Tell the President he's holding the note upside down.
Monday, October 13, 2008
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone.
And I never see my old friends face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell.
And he rang mine but we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.
'Tomorrow' I say! 'I will call on Jim
Just to show that I'm thinking of him.
' But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.
Around the corner, yet miles away,
'Here's a telegram sir,'
'Randy died today.'
And that's what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.
The author has chosen to remain anonomous....its not me. I'm not that good.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
A loving pet.
More painted cats on the blog site below....http://damncoolpics.blogspot.com/2007/02/painted-cats.html
(and before you get all verklempt, check out http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/2007/02/12/painted-cats-its-only-a-spoof.htm
Monday, October 06, 2008
Click on the image below and wonder at the things craftsmen and craftswomen got up to back in the olden days.