Merle and the Mystic Lamb

Ghent alter piece, St. Bavo's Cathedral Ghent

Last week, after a three-year restoration, the centerpiece of Jan Van Eyck's enormous 15th century, 12 panel masterpiece, ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’, returned to the alter at St Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, its home for the last nearly 600 years and people are freaking out about it. As one Twitter user writes, “The lamb of the Ghent Altarpiece was a mistake and whoever painted over it was right to do so.” Yes, the eyes are stunning. This is not the proverbial sacrificial lamb about to get his baby throat sliced open in yet another heartbreaking slaughter of innocence.

Memes abound

In a Guardian op-ed, Jonathan Jones thanks people for their insight then adds, "but I doubt Jan van Eyck ever made a mistake in his life. He was miles ahead of any Italian Renaissance artist, including Leonardo da Vinci" adding that Van Eyck's Lamb, "announces the Renaissance." Indeed.

Dad brought home a big surprise

Now, of course, the Mystic Lamb has His own Twitter account packed with juicy quotes befitting the gaze of the Lamb and memes abound which brings me to what is the real point of this post, introducing Merle (aka Merlin). 

Merle, my new granddoggo and skateboard champion
(actually he hated it)

When we saw Merlin at the shelter, cone and all, the very first thing I thought of was the Mystic Lamb, this before the restoration was unveiled. There is an uncanny likeness with and without the new eyes. So, here's the deal, if Van Eyck's Lamb still freaks you out, think of Merle, sweet as can be, rescued from the mean streets of California who now has three brothers, a loving Dad and home.

Merle and the Mystic Lamb


More good news

Submitting to more publications this year than last wasn't a New Year's resolution but the fact that I just did send work to two more journals does land in my good news column. That makes three submissions so far this year . . .  one to Rattle, one to StepAway Magazine, and the third to AGNI. The piece to AGNI has been languishing around here for some time. I haven't know what to do with it. It reads like the opening of a novel but it isn't. It's more like a word sketch of a moment in time.

We back in Portugal now. It's easier here. Winter helps. Also no travel plans at the moment although M. is brewing some up.


Nature's little gardeners

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!!!

And why not? Squirrels are the Johnny Appleseeds of forest regeneration. They bury nuts and seeds everywhere and about 30% of them sprout. According to Environment Canada, "squirrels play a vital role when it comes to sustaining and expanding plant communities and ecosystems in forest regeneration". And they not only reseed forests but they plant fungi, vegetables, fruits, and flowers etc. I've read that one grey squirrel plants as many trees every year as needed to provide oxygen to 28-40 people. That's more trees than I've planted in a life time.

And if all these reasons aren't enough to toss some peanuts out for your neighborhood squirrel today (and everyday) Mental Floss has compiled 15 reasons to appreciate squirrels. Buy perhaps the very best reason of all to appreciate squirrels . . . they're really cute and delightful to watch.


Three window shots

San Francisco Bay
from the plane

Five days ago we began our return slog to Portugal with a one week layover in London, where we are at the moment.

Molly in the sky
Molly came with me this time, in my backpack. About 10 hours into the flight, the steward noticed her—gasp—then said, Oh my god! I thought it was a real dog! I assured him, she is.

from the bus last night
with reflections

We're creatures of habit so we're staying in a tiny flat near Finsbury Park again. There are grocery stores plus Turkish and Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurants near by, so we're set. Monday we head back to Portugal.


Good news

After writing such a grim New Years day and decade post I felt obliged to end by promising good news next. Within a few hours Roy, one of the two people who read this blog with any regularity, demanded I deliver. Damn. Thanks, Roy—but— fair is fair. I did promise.

Ok. Here's one thing. I wrote a poem yesterday and plan to submit it to Rattle before their mid-month deadline. I will report on how that goes.

Please post your good news in the comment section, if you have any. Now that Trumpty Dumpty has started a war with Iran I'd appreciate all the good news I can get.


Greetings from the first day of the 2020s

Happy new year and first day of the 2020s. One hundred years ago today, the notorious decade known as the Roaring Twenties began. Ten years later, beginning with the crash of the American stock market, the world economy began its collapse. This century we are facing the eminent collapse of our planet's entire ecosystem by the end of the decade.

New Year Cafe
image adapted from work by: Martynas Pavilonis

And by the way, don't blame bats, rats and rest of the animal kingdoms. The blame for climate collapse rests squarely the leaders of the developed countries—America, China, Europe, and Russia. These governments, controlled in the background by billionaire businessmen, pointblank refuse to make the changes necessary to stave off the the worst of it. If they don't change, we are doomed to the worst case scenario. And I throw the both-sides corporate media into the mix for refusing to report the scientific facts head on—with the possible exception of the UK's BBC. At least they have publicly made a strong commitment to tell the truth.

Grim? Yeah. But there is still a lot to love and celebrate as we spiral around the event horizon and we must. Next up . . . some good news.

Rewinding time

Happy New Year. That is all.