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A fire salamander on Alberta Avenue

Nothing is wrong here. The boy lying in the middle of Alberta Avenue is making a snow angel on the asphalt. Why wouldn't he? There is snow. He is a child. His parents are busy with the other little ones. There is no danger. He got back up the second time his father called.

The avenue is closed for the Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival. The celebration is the work of wonderful people in the community who work all year to program two days of winter spectacle for the rest of us.

Including the young boy whose view of the Alberta Avenue sky must have been marvelous.

The sight brought to mind the start of a paragraph from a book I have on the go. It's called The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. It's written by Peter Wohlleben. The passage I am remembering deals with dead trees.

Here is the start of the paragraph that I wouldn't do a good enough job trying to paraphrase.
The importance of trees for streams continues even after death. When a d…

Scarlatti through the drywall

Scarlatti's Sonata in C came through the quite beige wall of a downtown condo this afternoon. I stood and listened and read the words on the fire alarm on the wall. (I have cranked the audio. There is too much humming from the hallway machinery, but you can kinda make it out.):

I knew it was Scarlatti's Sonata in C because the pianist alone in the room on the other side of the wall had played it for us up close minutes before. And explained how remarkable it was that isolated Scarlatti, court composer in Spain, had produced his brilliant music quite apart from the main currents and personalities of European classical music. 
The pianist's name is Lillian. We had met her as she was walking to the piano room in the condo building. Shelagh said her hair, longer on one side, looked great. We laughed that it was a hairstyle last fashionable in the 80s—and now again in Lillian's 80s. Lillian was on her way to practise and was carrying scores by Mozart, Chopin and Scarlatti.…

Four more life sentences

I collect sentences.

Here are four more from the forest of pages read.

The trucks filed by against the background of the white church in a long string like the days of a man's life, and it seemed as though it would never end. 
- Chekhov, A Misfortune
The trucks filing by are rail cars moving across the Russian landscape while Ilyin begs Sofya to accept his love. Without a new sentence, Chekhov artfully links the words that describe the physical scene (The trucks filed by against the background of the white church in a long string...) to the words that describe the sweet, bewildering feeling of being there to watch a passing train pull a new emptiness into view (...the days of a man's life, and it seemed as though it would never end.) , counting on a simple coupling word (like) to do its work, and hold.

"It's as if the Venetian paintings were made to frighten us," said my Enishte later. "And it isn't enough that we be in awe of the authority and money of t…

25 seconds

Brian Fallon has proven that everything can be done in about 25 seconds.

Take this in:

Or: Brian Fallon has proven everything can be done in 25 seconds as long as you had prepared for a long time.

Or: Prepared truly.

I will try to remember the lesson of these 25 seconds in 2018.


Today is December 26. 12/26. Which brings to mind Bob Howes snapping the ball to Wilkie, #12,  who pinned it for toe-first Dave Cutler, #26. I think Howes was #53. Which is how old I am on this 12/26.

The 26th of the month has a kind of manufactured significance this year. Every day for six months, starting on June 26, I have pedalled my bicycle. Each day I have taken a pic during the ride. As a way to try to notice, and not just see.

On June 26, the telephone wires in the alley played cat's cradle.

On July 26, the leafed elms along 91 Ave still blocked the sky.

On August 26, I rode with these characters as the city celebrated the downtown bike network.

On September 26, red made us stop.

On October 26, the dark blues and blacks of morning framed a streak of sunrise.

On November 26, I rode to feed the chickadees.

On December 26,  I contemplated the road ahead.

In an article in 1897, the English writer and humorist Jerome K. Jerome wrote: "From inquiries I have made, I gather …

Video Taken a Few Kilometres above Jasper Townsite, on Revisiting the Shore of Pyramid Lake during a Tour, September 20, 2017

Wordsworth, de Botton reminds us during this, the Christmas season of reading books and listening to music and remembering events, believed that spots of time spent in nature were, when recalled, correctives against the corrosive work done to human souls trapped in the enmity and envy that course through cities and industrial workplaces.

This is from Book Twelfth, The Prelude:

There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence—depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought.
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse—our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure in enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
The pic of Shelagh standing red-coated in the September snow at Pyramid Lake is a spot of time from 2017 for me. The video is poetry in slow motion:

Spots in time are like hea…

Do the crosswalk of life

Let's quickly rewind how I somehow managed today to kind of get invited to Ethiopia.

I am just back from Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton. I walked there with Averra to make sure he got to the proper entrance. He works housekeeping at the arena. He has been in Canada for just a few weeks. He wasn't sure where to go. This might have been his first day on the job.

We got to the staff check-in after some good directions from a friendly face at the arena information desk.

On the way to the arena we had talked about the weather. It's a windy evening in downtown Edmonton. Minus seven. But it feels colder. He said he was from Ethiopia and had come to Canada to join his wife. I said I don't know much about Ethiopia, but I know Addis is the capital.

"a-DISS," he said, gently correcting my ADDis pronunciation.

He told me the city has four million people, is inexpensive, has great food and, then, laughing, that it's always summer there.

Averra and I had started ou…