For PG, Italy is always a great idea.

His very most favorite city is Florence, but if he could have two most favorites, the second would be Venice.

PG took the photo below when he was on an early-morning walk in Venice.

For those who haven’t visited, Venice sits above 118 small islands, but the city is mostly constructed upon millions of wooden pilings, each about 60 feet long, that have been driven into the islands or the floor of the shallow Venetian lagoon over the centuries.

You either walk or ride on a boat to move around Venice. Instead of streets, there are 150 canals with 400 bridges connecting various parts of the city. If you don’t cross a bridge, you can’t get too lost because you haven’t left the artificial island you started on.

It’s not cheap to build a city on pilings, so, once you exit any of the main pedestrian areas, the sidewalks become narrower and narrower and wind between various buildings instead of going in a straight line for very long. Sometimes, they’ll simply end in a courtyard.

Some of the sidewalks become so narrow that, when two people meet, either one steps into a doorway to allow the other to pass or they both turn sideways to squeeze past each other.

You’ll see an off-the-beaten-path sidewalk that winds through a residential area in the photo below. This isn’t one of the turn sideways versions, but you’ll get the idea.



And here is is a courtyard where the sidewalk ended.


Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias

From Atlas Obscura:

At the edge of the tropical tree line of Lagoa das Furnas there is a charming lake in the middle of São Miguel Island. Emerging from this fairytale landscape is the slim tower of a neo-Gothic church that dates to 1882. What began as a testament to the ailing wife of a wealthy Azorean gardener and amateur botanist, ended up as one of the most evocative churches in the whole archipelago.

Capella de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, Chapel of Our Lady of Victories, was intended to honor Maria Guilhermina Taveira de Brum da Silveira, the wife of a local landowner named José Do Conto. She had fallen tragically and terminally ill, and her husband took it upon himself to create this magical lakeside chapel. Calling on his renowned design and landscaping talents, despite the structural elements the whole endeavor feels more like the soft-focus of magical realism than hard-edge gothic.

. . . .

There are no services held here, which gives it an ancient, abandoned, and even timeless feeling as the natural elements take over.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Following is one of several photos of the church that accompany the article and appear to have been taken by the author of the OP.


Santa Maria Novella

For PG, it’s always a good day to remember Florence.


Click on photo for a larger version.

This is Santa Maria Novella, a church near the main railway station in Florence. The station is named Firenze Santa Maria Novella after the church.

Novella means new, but this church is new on a Florentine time scale. This was originally the the site of the 9th-century oratory of Santa Maria delle Vigne. Construction of the new church was begun in 1246 and completed over 100 years later. The green and white marble facade was added in 1470.

PG took this photo a few centuries thereafter.

What We Remember on Memorial Day

For visitors from outside the United States, the US celebrates today as Memorial Day.

From historian Victor Davis Hanson via The Wall Street Journal:

A few years ago I was honored to serve briefly on the American Battle Monuments Commission, whose chief duty is the custodianship of American military cemeteries abroad. Over 125,000 American dead now rest in these serene parks, some 26 in 16 countries. Another 94,000 of the missing are commemorated by name only. The graves (mostly fatalities of World Wars I and II) are as perfectly maintained all over the world, from Tunisia to the Philippines, as those of the war dead who rest in the well-manicured acres of the U.S. military cemetery in Arlington, Va.

A world away from the white marble statuary, crosses, Stars of David, noble inscriptions and manicured greenery of these cemeteries is the stark 246-foot wall of polished igneous rock of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the mall in Washington. On its black surfaces are etched 58,307 names of American dead in Vietnam. They are listed in the chronological order of their deaths. The melancholy wall, birthed in bitter controversy at its inception in 1982, emphasizes tragedy more than American confidence in its transcendent values—as if to warn the nation that the agenda of Vietnam was not quite that of 1917 and 1941.

The Vietnam War may have reopened with special starkness the question of how to honor our fallen dead, but it is hardly a new problem in our history. As today’s disputes over the legacy of the Civil War and the Confederacy suggest, it has never been enough just to lament the sacrifice and carnage of our wars, whether successful or failed. We feel the need to honor the war dead but also to make distinctions among them, elevating those who served noble causes while passing judgment on their foes. This is not an exclusively American impulse. It has deep roots in the larger Western tradition of commemoration, and no era—certainly not our own—has managed to escape its complexities and paradoxes.

Our own idea of Memorial Day originated as “Decoration Day,” the post-Civil War tradition, in both the North and the South, of decorating the graves of the war dead. That rite grew out of the shock and trauma of the Civil War. In the conflict’s first major battle at Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) there were likely more American casualties (about 24,000 dead, wounded and missing on both sides) than in all the nation’s prior wars combined since its founding.

The shared ordeal of the Civil War, with some 650,000 fatalities, would eventually demand a unified national day of remembrance. Memorial Day began as an effort to square the circle in honoring America’s dead—without privileging the victors or their cause. The approach of the summer holidays seemed the most appropriate moment to heal our civic wounds. The timing suggested renewal and continuity, whereas an autumn or winter date might add unduly to the grim lamentation of the day.

. . . .

The Western tradition of commemoration also includes a unique idea of individual moral exemption. As first articulated by Pericles, we overlook any defects of character of the war dead, attributing to one brief moment of ultimate sacrifice the power to wash away all prior moral faults.

A noble death serves, in the words of Pericles, as “a cloak to cover a man’s other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.” The great playwright Aeschylus wanted his epitaph to read only that he was a veteran of the Athenian victory at Marathon—a battle where his brother fell.

These themes still resonate in our own habits and rites. This Memorial Day the flags on graves in American cemeteries set the dead apart, in a special moral category that discourages any discussion of the bothersome details of their short lives.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Following is a photograph PG took several years ago at an American military cemetery in the achingly beautiful Tuscan countryside outside of Florence, Italy. American dead from the Italian Campaign during World War II are buried there. Click on the photo for a larger version.


Rock Canyon

PG realized he hadn’t posted any photos recently.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but he was in a photo mood today.

The photo in this post is the entrance to a canyon, Rock Canyon, that extends quite a distance back into the mountains via various connecting and crossing trails. One crossing trail is about 100 miles long. As you can see, the photo was taken while there was still snow on the ground several weeks ago.

Whenever PG hikes up this canyon, he always sees it as a monumental place. During the shifting of ancient earth, mountains were cracked in half vertically. That crack is the canyon.

Either because of the hardness of the stone or the recency of the violent earth movement, there is relatively little erosion of the rock. In many places, you can visualize how the two sides of the canyon formerly fit together.

PG has seen Bighorn Sheep on the slopes of Rock Canyon. Where there are sheep, there are also cougars. PG hasn’t seen any of those, but he is acquainted with others who have.

Despite the impact the canyon has on PG, he has experienced difficulty in capturing his feelings in photos, although he has tried many times. He posted a photo taken farther up the canyon a couple of months ago that was a little more evocative of his feelings and gives a sense of the steepness of the canyon walls.

At the mouth of the canyon, the image results out of the camera were not satisfactory. However, with some post-processing, PG tried to bring out a sense that the canyon might be an entrance to a place of hidden mysteries.

Or maybe just a place full of rocks. You can click on the photo to see a larger version.




Mrs. PG and PG visited a tulip festival a couple of days ago. This location is called Umbrella Walk.

Conditions were less than ideal for photography (wind and intermittent rain), but it was still a lovely experience.

Moments from Wyoming

Not about books, but PG loves Jackson Hole, The Teton Range and Yellowstone.

From Medium:

Every day I woke up with a desire to feel the Sun. Instead, the day offered gray sky with hints of a snowstorm. The peaks of Teton were hidden, but I felt irresistibly drawn to its other glories: the purity of the wind, the promise of imminent thunder, the morning whisper of birds.

As I made my way through the curvy and snowy roads of the Tetons, the scenery reminded me of my summer in Alaska. Eminent mountains, frozen lakes, and many sightings of wild animals. Out here, I didn’t take many photos. I was content to simply be in the presence of this majestic landscape, treating those moments with the weightiness and value they deserve.

. . . .

 Imagine a scene — you’re standing among thousands of migrating elks in a snowstorm with gigantic mountains as a backdrop. Swans flutter in the distance like rising snowflakes.

Link to the rest at Medium

The OP includes some great photos of Wyoming.

PG took the following photo a couple of years ago in Grand Teton National Park.


And this guy paused right beside the road not far outside of Jackson, Wyoming (PG stayed in his car).

Cape Falcon, Oregon

PG hasn’t put up any photos for awhile.

The following was taken along a the Cape Falcon Trail on the Oregon Coast. The trail is filled with huge old trees with moss growing on them, intense green undergrowth impinging on the trail and, at times, not a lot of light reaching the ground.

PG thought he had posted an earlier version of this photo, but couldn’t find it.

As you’ll be able to discern, this photo has seen a lot of post-processing with several different tools. Earlier versions of it didn’t adequately capture the feeling of the place.

This particular spot is a gentle uphill section of the trail where you’re coming out of some of the thickest foliage into place of light.

You can click on the photo for a larger version.