Welsh Horizons Sing


In spite the limited time imposed on us by a cab driver who insisted he had to get home in time for World Cup play, we found the house, cemetery and the chapel of our parent's parent's parent's parents.  Wales tanyfan

Among the most impressive buildings, aside from this little house and all the castles, was the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. 

The facade is giant poetry - literally.  The Welsh version is by poet Gwyneth Lewis and reads:

Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration.  The English reads: In These Stones Horizons Sing.

The poet explained:

I wanted the words to reflect the architecture of the building. Its copper dome reminded me of the furnaces from Wales's industrial heritage and also Ceridwen's cauldron, from which the early poet Taliesin received his inspiration ('awen'). Awen suggests both poetic inspiration and the general creative vision by which people and societies form their aspirations.

Wales WMC_at_night

Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage

Wagon train1
The Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage to Pennsylvania was a big life event for those who participated.  The recent fierce winds reminded me of the few unpleasant days that year between February 9th and March 22nd when we rode across New Mexico from Rodeo to Trinidad, Colorado. 

 I continue to get comments and inquiries from those who remember the 1976 event and found my previous post.

Wagon train2

Monsters of Perugia

There is always more to the story.  There is more to the story about the conviction of Amanda Knox for murder.  Sadly, it spotlights my beloved Perugia and the profound weirdness of the Italian judicial system.  Reader comments in the NYTs advocate wholesale knee-jerk dissing of Italy as a vacation destination to punish the country for the trial's outcome.  That's a bit extreme.  Here's the Perugia University for Foreigners (Università per Stranieri di Perugia) popular with young language students.  Language school perugia

The connection with the true crime novel, Monster of Florence, is significant.  This summer the Daily Beast covered the abuse of power charges against the prosecutor in both cases, Giuliano Mignini.  He's the mesmerizing heavy in Douglas Preston's book who has fantasical theories and ends up targeting Preston himself and an Italian investigative journalist for the Florence murders.

Daily Beast gives insight ::shivers:: that makes you glad to be an American - who can still travel to Italy once in a while without being involved in a murder trial, please.   

In Knox’s hometown of Seattle, there has been a steady drumbeat of outrage about Mignini—how, Knox's supporters asked, could a prosecutor under investigation for misconduct be allowed to lead one of the country’s most notorious murder trials?

But the Mignini case is not necessarily anomalous. In reality, active prosecutors are often under investigation in Italy. Unlike in the United States, even the most banal accusations against anyone in power usually leads to trial here, clogging the country’s courtrooms with tedious disputes that cast a negative light on the entire judicial system.

Italian prosecutors and investigators have less leeway than their American counterparts, so bending the rules is often part of criminal investigations. Earlier this year, Mignini was cleared of other charges against him, including wiretapping journalists.

Coco Loco

Cocoloco That's what they call a chocolate martini at The Parkside Rotisserie and Bar in Providence.  It was a bit too Bailey's but the Long Island rotisserie duck special was exceptional. 

The Chef is a 1983 graduate of the culinary program at Rhode Island School of Design and he opened this Manhattan-style bistro in 1997.  It's in a nice old part of the center city full of 18th century buildings and renovated waterfronts (thus the name of another popular restaurant in the vicinity - New Rivers.)*  

Now I'm all loco about rotisserie.   I turned on the TV last night  and there was young Julia Childs trussing up a chicken with twine for the rotisserie.  The constant turning distributes the juice through the meat evenly, you see. 

Historian Marc Simmons says Indians trained their dogs to turn meat over open fires.  Big Dog could do it I'm certain.  Bon Appetit! 

*This may be the good part of former Mayor Buddy Cianci's legacy or it might have happened in spite of him. He got out of prison in 2007 and now has a radio show on WPRO Newstalk 630.  You can listen online, but I haven't yet.

Newport Suffragist

Newport - not so new.  Old houses and old roads and old fences and old mansions.  We toured "Marble House" - a Vanderbuilt mansion in which Alva Vanderbilt staged a "Votes For Women" campaign in 1909.  In 1910 she attempted to broaden the movement.   

The-marble-house-frontAlva embraced the idea that white suffragist groups should affiliate with 'colored' female suffrage, and encouraged black women to join her PEA [Political Equality Association] albeit in a separate grouping.  This brought calumny down upon her head from all sides, with some calling her 'an evil influence '.

'With characteristic feminine disregard for logic, the social leader ...would confer the ballot on Negro women at a period in American history when public opinion in the North has begin to doubt the wisdom of the Fifteenth Amendment,' expostulated one newspaper.

From Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt;  The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age, Amanda MacKenzie Stewart.     

Moon Water

Are we really gonna believe a guy waving a five gallon plastic bucket?   We found lots of these! Who told him to bring the prop? 

Peter Gleick writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: 

Why do we care? Obviously, this water isn't going to help solve any of our water problems here on earth. But if we do, as a species, move out into space, water is the single most important resource we can find. It is too heavy to move water from the surface of the Earth into space, but if we can find it out there, it can be used for drinking water, to make oxygen for breathing, hydrogen for rocket fuel, and to produce food. (...)

I have mixed feelings about the value of the space program, and without a doubt, this is probably the most expensive water we've ever found. But, if we go to the moon, it could turn out to be among the most valuable as well.

If water is really the single most important resource we can find in space in the future,  it should be the single most important resource to protect and manage here and now.  

This smells like space boosterism to me.  I have a nose for it.  It is a serious delusion, especially in our State - second or third only to real estate boosterism and water project boosterism.  (You really have to wonder when and where they coincide.)   Otherwise reasonable people will believe in the most unlikely things.  Like the Spaceport - a massive runway being built in the middle of nowhere on the vague promise that those with more money than brains will pony-up for joy rides into space.  Sound use of public funds in our impoverished State?  Well, it sounds like fun.  Close enough.   

Beware of water bucket waving. 

Voices in the Car

Telling him to u-turn.   Recalculating.  Recalculating. 

Because one gps unit is not enough and he's doing research.  He must have three.  Three navigational devices but no map.  Women's voices tell him where to turn, not including the live one sitting next to him. 

A cell phone, a portable unit and one in the rental.  The later being the nicest voice - that of the Impala's.  I trust her more by the end of the trip, coming to appreciate the tenor of her delivery, the authority in her tone.  (Purely because of the size of the speaker, which was much larger than those little hand held units.) 

But no map. We trust our fate to the data entry of who knows who and where they are and whether they have ever or never been to Bayfield or Key Largo.

Wildflower Trains

Sierra Railroad Dinner Train So the San Francisco Chronicle is all uplifty this morning with wee less prominent shooting news and this travel piece about trains and wildflowers - silent commentary maybe on the state of trains for actual travel

Travel is not why we would be caught dead getting out of the pick-up and taking the train in America - its the scenery!  Confirming this is that all but one of these trains are vintage - quaint remnant routes of a real rail network.

We think we're so damned advanced and high-tech, but here it is 2009 and I can't take a train from Albuquerque to Denver or El Paso.*  That would be unheard of 100 years ago. 

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