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Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

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Under the spell of Malcolm Lowry

by Carolyn Brown

Day of the Dead — when the boundary between the land of the living and that of the dead becomes porous — could not be stamped out of Mexican culture by Spanish missionaries and was instead uneasily grafted onto All Souls’ Day. Over the succeeding four centuries, its primordial appeal has never flagged. “We Mexicans have a weird relationship with death,” explained one of my students as we drove by a cemetery festooned with marigolds and tables of offerings — ofrendas — for the festival. “We laugh at it, and we hate it.” Continue reading “Under the spell of Malcolm Lowry”

Playing with robots

By Patricia Lightfoot

I have been thinking about Nora Ephron’s account of her obsession with Scrabble Blitz, “a four-minute version of Scrabble solitaire,” which left her with “all the symptoms of terminal attention deficit disorder,” as she dreamed about scrabble, fell asleep memorizing two- and three-letter words and tuned out of conversations. I am now beguiled by the Bridge Base Online (BBO) app. I play the anonymous form of the game with three robots. My symptoms are not as pronounced as Ephron’s, but there’s no telling how far this might go. Continue reading “Playing with robots”

Schweine Museum

By Amy Flora

Walking up the road in the 30-degree heat I wondered, “How will I know exactly where the museum is?” Fortunately, an enormous pink pig–themed school bus appeared on the horizon: the first of many surprises. Continue reading “Schweine Museum”

Welcome to Montgolfiere Weekly!

This blog exists because I wanted to do a different kind of writing from the writing I do in my day job, and I even managed to persuade some of my friends to contribute their thoughts on culture in its many forms, from the visual arts, letters and music to human health, habits and customs, with occasional references to hot air ballooning. There is a whole world out there, and this is a small way of exploring it.

If you like what you find here, please visit again. And if you would like to join the conversation by either commenting or sending me a contribution, just let me know. It would be great to hear from you — Patricia

 

The China trip continues

By Anita Hamilton

After we left Chenjiagou, we took the train to Luoyang in order to see the Longmen Grottoes — over 2,000 artificial caves and tens of thousands of carved Buddha sculptures (from bunches in finger size to several metres high) in the side of a hill. This, our first train ride in China, started on a stressful note as we found that on our tickets (which we hadn’t inspected closely in advance) we were seated in two separate carriages on the train, four carriages apart. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t had all our suitcases (all way too heavy) to lug around with us. Continue reading “The China trip continues”

Tai chi boot camp

By Anita Hamilton

We’re back from yet another trip — this time to a tai chi boot camp. Seems that we’ve repeatedly changed plans from travelling to Cambodia and Viet Nam for years now and this year has been no exception. I’m starting to doubt we’ll ever get there ….

After taking up tai chi at the beginning of 2016 here in Germany, we decided to study it intensely for a month in China at the same school where our teacher studied. Intensely meant six days a week, six hours a day. When we left, we’d reached the point of basically knowing the 75 moves of the old-style Chen tai chi, first form; however, we were not yet able to do the whole routine all on our own at that point. Continue reading “Tai chi boot camp”

Lost books

By Patricia Lightfoot

When I say “lost books,” I don’t mean books that I once owned and can no longer find. I mean books that I once heard being read aloud, or read myself and returned to their rightful owner, but have no way of finding, having long forgotten the title and the name of the author. I remain sadly tantalized by fragments of barely remembered text and images. Continue reading “Lost books”

In defence of the “Fredly”

By Patricia Lightfoot

A group of us rode the 100 km from Perth to Kingston and back the other weekend through rural Ontario. During the preceding week, we had checked the weather forecast repeatedly, if not obsessively. As the ride approached, showers featured prominently in the forecast but then gave way to a prediction of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-twenties. We prepped the bikes. We made lists, or at least I did, of what should be packed and transported by van to Kingston, including footwear to be worn there, as it’s hard to clip-clop around town in bike shoes. A few years ago, one of our party had been obliged to purchase a vivid-purple emergency pair of flip flops at a dollar store in Westport to the vast amusement of all. Continue reading “In defence of the “Fredly””

Unmissable Chagall

By Patricia Lightfoot

When I think of Marc Chagall, I think of paintings I have seen in museums in Europe and North America that have a dream-like quality, featuring floating characters, washed in a rich and luminous blue. The superb exhibition “Chagall: Colour and music” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offers a whole other perspective on Chagall, the complete artist, who designed theatre sets, costumes for ballets and operas, tapestries and ceramics, and whose stained-glass windows illuminate many places of worship. Continue reading “Unmissable Chagall”

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