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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ai Pioppi – The Making of History

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In northern Italy, near the city of Treviso, is an otherworldly experience:  In 1969 a man named Bruno bought a few kilos of large Italian sausages and a jug each of white and red wines, set up a grill beneath a tree, and a restaurant was born.  To attract visitors to his restaurant he began creating amusement park rides, welding them himself.  By now an elderly man, when you see the passion in his eyes, and the love he has for his creations and the people who appreciate his rides, you know what humanity is capable of with passion, a bit of ingenuity and determination.  I love the no-nonsense ways of the Italians, and the fact that people, whether old or young, enjoy these rides with a healthy dose of human common sense – there are no barricades, safety nets, no warning signs everywhere; people are expected to be responsible, act responsibly, and enjoy the experience as-is.  To see the 11-minute documentary by Fabrica, click on the image below.

Ai Pioppi

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The Lambton Worm

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Myths and legends are often based in some distant, past reality; sometimes they are blown out proportion by the telling over time; what started out as a guppy eventually becomes a whale.  In the case of the Lambton Worm legend however, the dragon became a worm:  “Worm” to our modern minds doesn’t sound threatening at all; but the Old English wurm, a variant of wyrm, actually meant “serpent, snake, dragon, or reptile“.  I find it fascinating to read between the lines of such a story, to recognize the actual historical elements buried over time within the fantastical renditions; there may be elements of local geography, superstitions, explanations that arise over time, moral lessons to train children in a particular behaviour, and many other tidbits of history along the dusty road to modern versions of ancient tales.  To read more about this interesting legend, click on the image below.

Illustration from the Book, ‘The Curse of the Lambton Worm’

Illustration from the Book, ‘The Curse of the Lambton Worm’

Gold Dust in History

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Dust is an amazing thing, when you stop and think about it:  It’s made of us (the death of our cells), of pollen (a sign of the life of spring), and a myriad of other ingredients that make up that gathering layer.  It might be annoying to clean away sometimes, but when it’s stirred up in the golden light of the morning sun it’s magical.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

The same goes for proverbial dust:  Abandoned building (urban dust), or a fallen tree (rural dust).  For some, those things might represent failure, for others progress; some may only see waste, others potential.  Click on the photo below to follow the link to a list of abandoned sites around the world:  Some may see them as a sad indictment of human waste, but I see those places as monuments to someone’s ingenuity, to meeting the needs of the times, perhaps to false planning or miscalculation, but either way they are rich pickings for my imagination as a writer – I imagine the human stories behind their creation, at their demise, and those still affected by the fact of these sites now.

Abandoned Military Hospital in Beelitz, Germany

Abandoned Military Hospital in Beelitz, Germany

 

The History of Fabergé’s Rise & Fall with the Imperial Romanov Family, & the Natural Beauty of the Hope Diamond

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I was recently doing research into blue diamonds for a novel I’m working on; there is a ton of information out there in Cyberspace, some of it fascinating, some of it fantastical (taking a shred of historical information and running wild with theories, curses, and paranormal gibberish).  But I did find a documentary on Youtube that I thought I’d share with you:  It covers (in what initially seems like an odd mixture of topics) the late history of the Russian Romanov family, their connection with the rise and fall of the House of Fabergé, the extravagant splurges and the curse of wealth and power in the hands of those unable to manage it, and lastly (at 32:00) the history of the Hope Diamond, the largest blue diamond in the world, and the second-largest crowd magnet following the Mona Lisa.  The topics transition from exquisite craftsmanship to natural beauty, and though the video is nearly an hour, it is well worth watching!  To view it, please click on the family portrait below.

Romanov Imperial FamilyFaberge Coronation Egg, 1897Faberge-Egg-1911Hope Diamond

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