My one concession to Hallowe’en
My one concession to Hallowe’en
“Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.” Not seeing a line between the imaginery and the real is probably a form of mental illness unless you happen to be Italian film director Federico Fellini, in which case, dream on baby! After living for 73 years and giving the world a unique body of work, Fellini died on this day in 1993 (as did River Phoenix who was 23). Some of Fellini’s thoughts on film and life bear acknowledging today. “A good opening and a good ending make for a good film providing they come close together.” “All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” “I think television has betrayed the meaning of democratic speech, adding visual chaos to the confusion of voices. What role does silence have in all this noise?” “The artist is the medium between his fantasies and the rest of the world.” “You exist only in what you do.” “There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.” You can find an earlier post about Fellini directing and watch an erotic scene from Fellini Satyricon here. What’s with deathday?
“Those who do not fear Great Spirit are not strong.”
PLAINS SIOUX PROVERB
“Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated I will not be ashamed.”
“Give me knowledge so I may have kindness for all.”
“You can’t get rich if you look after your relatives properly.”
“Everything the Power does, it does in a circle.”
The Thunderbird in Ojibwa and Cree legend was a super eagle with a wing span two canoes wide capable of transforming into human form. The Thunderbird spoke thunder and lightning flashed from its eyes. Difficult to see because of its disguise as black swirling clouds, the Thunderbird fed only on snakes and protected humankind from the Great Horned Serpent of the Underworld. This area of Manitoba supports a large red-sided garter snake population. Many Thunderbird Nests are found in eastern Manitoba but this is the only one west of Lake Manitoba.
A report on a visit to the site in 2007 is posted here. This fall I returned to Thunderbird Nest and recorded this video report.
This is a sample of my first batch of 2011 travel pictures. Taken in the Big Muddy in southern Saskatchewan, an enduring symbol of hard pioneer life still stands atop a rise surrounded by crop.
I have uploaded the first 56 pictures from my various travels over the spring and summer onto the DickToolCo page on Flickr. They include shots of Vancouver in the spring, a series of cityscapes of downtown Winnipeg taken from the rooftop of the Fort Garry Hotel in mid-May, flood pictures of Brandon, Melita and the flood protest rally held at the Manitoba Legislature in June. During Doors Open I took a series of pictures of the Ukrainian Labour Temple in north Winnipeg. I always snapped pictures during my many trips to Souris covering the flood. Plus several shots from my July travels in Saskatchewan. Some of the pictures are along the right hand sidebar on my blog. All my pictures are here. Enjoy!
Fannystelle School, PTH 248, Fannystelle, MB
By the 1950s, consolidation of the Manitoba educational system had all but eliminated the need for local one-room schools. Centralized facilities were considered more effective and efficient. New schools were built to meet this need. At the same time, new design philosophies were being brought to bear on school building design. Built in 1951, a basic wood-frame structure covered with stucco, Fannystelle School is just such a building, a model example of “the new” for its time. It was Modern.
The Modern movement toned down the already smooth and luxurious Art Moderne style to its basic straight lines that cooperated with the landscape. Crisp and sleek, characterized by unadorned flat symmetrical surfaces (it’s nothing if it’s not symmetrical) and horizontal lines, the Modern style was used on many schools. On Fannystelle School the horizontal lines begin with the flat roof and continue with a plain straight cornice, the belt course above each row of windows, the large paired windows, canopies above entrances and shallow foundation, all give the place a low profile that fits with the flat prairie surrounding the school.
The stepped detail around the front entrance and centre pavilion welcomes you into the building. The use of two colours, one providing the building’s detail and the other the basic colour, was a common and simple technique of the style. The fenestration is generous and adds to the style, offering large windows to flood the classrooms with light. The slightly wider mullions separating the pairs of windows indicate walls between the school’s eight classrooms.
The little village of Fannystelle, besides having an enchanting name, has an unusual genesis, according to Geographical Names of Manitoba: “Fanny Rivers worked among the destitute and homeless in Paris and through her work met Parisian philanthropist Countess Albufera. The Countess persuaded her husband to finance emigration of poor Parisians to Canada. Fanny Rivers continued her work in Canada but died 1883. The Countess founded this French settlement in 1889 in memory of her friend. T.A. Berbier (later senator for St. Boniface) was trying to encourage more settlers from Quebec to come to Manitoba and join the nobles and well-to-do gentleman from France who formed the nucleus of the community (many of whom later returned to France). The village was described as “an island of French culture in the middle of a sea of English” and it was said that “the Countess seems to have decreed that her colony be called Fannystelle – Fanny’s Star.””
Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.
It’s rush hour at Corydon and Stafford, a busy intersection at any time of the day. An hour ago a young woman lost control of her car, veered across the sidewalk and smashed into the west wall of the recently opened Tim Horton’s location at the corner. The hall to the washrooms was a mass of splintered and busted wood and plastic. No one in the store was injured and the driver had minor cuts and bruises. As you can see by the pictures, if she’d been a few feet further to her left, she’d have sheared the gas lines going into the building. It could have been worse. By the way, this Tim Horton’s doesn’t have a drive-thru.
My short video shows the car being hauled away by a tow truck and Winnipeg fire rescue personnel.
American poet Richard Brautigan was found in front of a large picture window overlooking the Pacific Ocean, an empty bottle of whisky and a .44 Magnum next to him, on this day in 1984. He’d probably been dead for over a month before his badly decomposed body was discovered. His suicide note said, “Messy, isn’t it?” Brautigan wrote contemporary poetry which either does or doesn’t stand the test of timeliness. I still find him amusing and wise. Here are some samples: “I didn’t know the full dimensions of forever, but I knew it was longer than waiting for Christmas to come.” “All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.” “It’s strange how the simple things in life go on while we become more difficult.” “Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.” “Money is sad shit.” “Im haunted a little this evening by feelings that have no vocabulary and events that should be explained in dimensions of lint rather than words. Ive been examining half-scraps of my childhood. They are pieces of distant life that have no form or meaning. They are things that just happened like lint.” “I will be very careful the next time I fall in love, she told herself. Also, she had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive or fun they could be. They weren’t worth it in the long run. They were emotionally too expensive and the upkeep was complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around the house that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix it. She wanted her next lover to be a broom.” “The bookstore was a parking lot for used graveyards. Thousands of graveyards were parked in rows like cars. Most of the books were out of print, and no one wanted to read them any more and the people who had read the books had died or forgotten about them, but through the organic process of music the books had become virgins again.”
Another warm sunny day with temperature climbing to 12 C. This required one more hike on Spirit Sands. Couldn’t have been more perfect out there today. I was the only one on the Sands when I arrived with just one other car in the parking lot when I returned from the hike. I like that density: one person or less per square mile. Now that the chatty aspens and poplars have lost all their leaves, the silence is enormous! The occasional caw of a crow and the soft sigh of the breeze through tall brown grass were the only sounds to disturb the stillness of the serene landscape. I start the pictures with two shots of the bare poplars and aspens ghostly white against rich evergreens. Click on pics to enlarge
The next two shots are from the top of the dune overlooking an area of open prairie. In the second picture the round “mounds” are, in fact, juniper bushes that grow in circular shapes low to the ground. By this time of year they have turned a chocolately brown and stand out in the landscape.
The juniper berries have turned bright blue and the bearberry has gone from glossy Christmas green into a tawny red as you can see in the first picture. Ditches in the park still hold some water and in the final picture sunshine twinkles off Marsh Lake.
Fieldstone House, 27 Third Avenue NE, Minnedosa, MB
If there is one thing the prairies has, it is stones. Thank you retreating glaciers for sharing your billions of rocks. Minnedosa, MB, a small town nestled in the luxurious valley of the Little Saskatchewan River, has one of the best collections of fieldstone buildings on the Canadian prairies. Built over the course of just a few years, between 1892 and 1903, ten eloquent fieldstone buildings still stand in Minnedosa, all are occupied and maintained with love. Other stone buildings in the town have been demolished or stuccoed over, but these ten are the jewels in the town’s crown. Let’s start with this beauty built between 1892 and 1900 by stonemason Robert Gugin, one of several excellent masons who worked in Minnedosa and area.
This is a mesmerizing piece of work! Employing the popular Gothic Revival style with a bit of southern Ontario influence, Gugin found incredibly sympathetic stones in colour and size, creating an embracing texture on all sides. The lone steep gable suggests the style and the delicate woodwork on the porch adds to the lightness of the place.
The solid massing, soothing mottle of the stones and attention to detail make this a most attractive use of readily available materials in a popular attention-grabbing style. The rear of the house has a cinderblock addition that detracts somewhat from the lovely side façade. The contrasting red and white accent colours and the fancy woodwork give the house a delightful appeal.
About 300 yards from the north boundary of Riding Mountain National Park, in a long-abandoned farm yard next to some tumbledown buildings, stands this beautiful old barn, striking a dominant pose against the backdrop of yellowed birch. Still retaining some of its red colouration – the traditional recipe for barn paint was cow’s blood, rust, lime, milk and linseed oil – and withstanding the northwesterlies with the help of a tall thick windbreak, the old place demonstrates classic massing and materials. The tiny and sparse windows meant a rather dark barn but they helped retain heat in winter. The barn tilts to the rear a little, the first sign of a future tumbledown.
I included this barn in a short video piece called Portals to the Past
To feed the Great Maw of Death, otherwise known as World War 1, recruiting meetings were held all over Manitoba in 1915, attracting potential soldiers by the thousand. Recruits initially had to be 5′ 5″ or taller with at least a 34-inch chest but the need for cannon fodder was so great, it wasn’t long until the requirements changed to 5′ 2″ and 33-inch chest. Farm boys and city slickers, patriots and adventurers, almost no one was rejected. In Manitoba the virgin soldiers trained at Camp Hughes just west of Carberry. Today the site is a heritage area that still resonates deeply with its past.
After spending nearly an hour at the site and filing this video report, I left Camp Hughes with a feeling similar to what I feel after visiting a sacred place. The place still possesses enormous energy that was palpable in many areas of the site.
Jack Kerouac successfully drank himself to death on this day in 1969. After years of alcohol abuse, his liver wouldn’t let his blood clot and he bled to death. He was 47. From On The Road:“[…] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ What did they call such young people in Goethe’s Germany?” From The Dharma Bums: “Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said, ‘God, I love you’ and looked to the sky and really meant it. ‘I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other.’ To the children and the innocent it’s all the same.” and “Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that’s the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there, with the Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters. And if your cans are redhot and you can’t hold them in your hands, just use good old railroad gloves, that’s all.” A few other random thoughts from Jack’s fertile consciousness: “I’m going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.” and “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” and “My witness is the empty sky.” and “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” Ultimately, “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.” Watch my short video homage to Jack. What’s with deathday?
Would you like to acquire some dangerous knowledge today? Like to become part of the small but growing number of people who know how banks really work? My friend Chris, who has spent years studying the shadow world of our monetary system, wrote a concise, revealing and thought-provoking piece called Debt Crisis and posted it on his blog today. Please read it! Read it more than once.
On Wednesday, October 19 I shot some footage of a bright yellow display of tamarack trees next to Hwy 5 in Spruce Woods Park. Distinctive because they turn yellow and lose their needles every fall. Although coniferous, they aren’t evergreen. Sometimes called larch.
Pearson Building, 110 Main Street S, Minnedosa, MB
The art of stonemasonry thrived in Minnedosa, not just in house building but in commercial buildings as well. Situated on a prominent corner of Minnedosa’s Main Street, the Pearson Building is an extremely rare example of a commercial building combining the rustic charm of fieldstones with a bit of eye-catching Gothic Revival flair in the two proud steep gables, and Italianate style with the paired rounded windows and the beautifully detailed wooden cornice.
Built in the 1870s, the exterior of the building has survived virtually as it was built with very little apparent cracking or movement of the stones. It’s a solid piece of stonemanship! Though currently called the Pearson Building, in the past it was the Setter Building and the Bruce Building. As often is the case with small town commercial establishments, it has housed many businesses over the years: movie theatre, stores, offices, meeting rooms and halls. Sir John A. MacDonald is said to have orated in its second floor meeting room.
What distinguishes this handsome building are the simple, but not plain, uses of style elements and their effect on the overall feeling from the structure. The window pairs wrap around the exposed sides of the building, creating in us the comfort of pairs. The marvellous wooden cornice with its hundreds of dentils tucked into tiered rows and the evenly spaced double brackets help achieve perfect symmetry, an interesting contrast to the various colours of rocks. The wooden brackets are the most ornate feature of the place and the fact they are still original and well-maintained speaks to the tenderness and love this building has enjoyed over the last 140 years. It deserves it!
All the Minnedosa fieldstone buildings in this series are still in use, either as homes or as their original purpose. I find it wonderfully heart-warming to know these old piles still thrive with life and continue to nurture new generations as they grow up and old.
Inkpaduta was a Santee Sioux who eagerly participated in the Battle of Little Big Horn then fled across the border to Turtle Mountain in southwestern Manitoba. Inkpaduta harboured great hatred for white people and without remorse murdered them at every opportunity. He was a bad cat to have in the neighbourhood!
This is my 500th post since December 11, 2010 and I can’t think of anything more appropriate than reposting Ken Wilber’s defining and remarkable Just This
In the heart of Emptiness there is a mysterious impulse, mysterious because there is actually nothing in the heart of Emptiness (for there is nothing in Emptiness, period). Yet there it is, this mysterious impulse, the impulse to…create. To sing, to shine, to radiate; to send forth, reach out and celebrate; to sing and shout and walk about; to effervesce and bubble over, this mysterious exuberance in the heart of Emptiness.
Emptiness empties itself of emptiness, and thus becomes Full, pregnant with all worlds, a fruition of the infinite impulse to play, hidden in the heart of your own deepest Self. If you rest in the Witness, settle back as I-I, and look very carefully for the Looker – if you turn within right now and try to see the Seer – you won’t see anything at all, for you cannot see the Seer. All you will find is a vast Freedom and Emptiness, in which the entire Kosmos is now arising. Out of the pure Emptiness that is your deepest suchness, all worlds arise. Your own impulse of looking has brought forth the universe, and here it resides in the vastness of all space which is to say, in the purity of your own primordial awareness. This has been obvious all along; this you have known all along. Just this, and nothing more, just this.
from One Taste
Watch Ken explain, “Love is not just a feeling between people. It’s actually a force operating throughout the entire universe. It’s been recognized by philosophers, east or west, alive and from time immemorial.” He seems to be getting used to his new teeth. Please watch this.