2014/11/21

Eight of my children's stories now available as eBook

"APOLOGUES: Stories for All Ages", by Henri van Bentum
We're happy to announce the publication of my children's stories (or Fables) for the young and young at heart.  "Apologues: Stories for All Ages" is published by Pegasus Press.  It's simple to order, just set up an account on the Pegasus Press website. The book is only $3.99 and would be a perfect gift for a birthday or as a present for the coming Holiday Season.   Click here to order: Pegasus Press.  Also available at iTunes and Amazon

Special Chance to Win:  purchase "Apologues: Stories for All Ages" and have a chance to win a photo print of Henri van Bentum's delightful painting from 1960, "Midsummer Night's Dream".
 "Midsummer Night's Dream", oil on masonite, 1960
Henri van Bentum (private collection) 




Henri van Bentum

2014/06/05

Greed and Me-ism - impact on Earth and wildlife



Anyone who is aware knows that it is we – the Human Family species of mammals – who have harmed or put to extinction many other species.  We are the ones who encroach upon their realms, making it more and more difficult for them to survive in their natural habitat.

For that matter, even some members of the Human Family are under threat. Aboriginals, First Nations, Inuit, the Bushmen or San people, the list goes on.
Indigenous cultures everywhere are often treated in the same manner worldwide.  Then there are those wars . . . 
But I am wandering away from the motivation for writing this blog post.  Here on Vancouver Island in the municipal area of Victoria, a woman who was walking to work early in the morning along the “Galloping Goose trail” spotted a cougar 10 metres away.  It was said that it charged at her. (But subsequent comments have suggested it was as startled as she was.) 
As she ran to a nearby house, the cougar stopped and stared as she pulled out her mobile phone to call for help. Actually there were two cougars. After the alarm went out to the ‘civilized’ world, one cougar was hunted down and killed while the other got away. Headlines everywhere, “Where Is the Other Cougar?” (So it can also be killed.) It won’t be long before our clever species, with our state-of-the-art killing machines, finds and exterminates it too, to the relief of those Homo sapiens who, fear-ridden, threaten the existence of these big cats.


Those cougars, those grizzlies, those polar bears, those rhinos, those sharks.  The list goes on. 
 
As for the two cougars here who “trespassed” on our territory – “How dare they!”  No one seems to focus on the cause of these encounters with wildlife - - - that their habitat has been ‘clear cut’ or destroyed for greedy profit-seeking, or by stupid behaviour such as cutting shark fins for soup or so-called medicinal purposes, or taking fragile bird nests for another ‘gourmet’ delicacy.  Or the horn of a rhino, for aphrodisiacs.  Aren’t we a super-lovable species?


How bright and wise are we?  Well, some leaders of nations muzzle now their scientists . . . those who warn about what’s going on out there, and what will be the consequences.  And yet, these so-called leaders have children and future grandchildren.  Are they not allowed to be born on a healthy planet, with clean air, water and a healthy habitat for all creatures? Makes you wonder - what their motivation is, to withhold scientific facts.
This reminds me of an event from the summer of 1959 in Banff National Park.  At that time there were “Indian Days”, where Chiefs of various nations (Blackfoot, Dakota, Sioux and others) set up teepees and allowed visitors to ask them questions.
Henri van Bentum, Banff 1982 - Indian Days Revisited at the Blackfoot Teepee
 The Chiefs were eloquent speakers. In comparison the “white man” would sit there with a mouth full of teeth and just stare at the Chiefs  - - - so dignified and dressed in full attire. 
 
One of the Chiefs said, “You know the White Man is a complicated, forked-tongue species, with no care or vision about our home, Mother Earth.  For example, if I say, “There are only a dozen ocelots left, they would say, ‘Let’s shoot them, before they’re all gone.’”   

I’ve never forgotten this statement of insight and wisdom. Of course that's not the only creature we'd shoot if there 'were only a few left'.  Extinction #6 is fast becoming a reality.  This time it will be caused by "Humans".

Human greed and me-ism leaves wildlife nowhere to live.  That’s the cause.  The effect:  extinction of wilderness and wildlife on a global scale.  Add to this global climate change and pollution - - what will be the effect on the Human Family?    Are we ignorant, indifferent, asleep, stupid or?   Definitely not wise.

This then will be my last blog post.  Six years ago we began (July 1, 2008), so that’s enough.  It was a pleasure visiting with you all out there, wherever you may be.  And thank you for having visited my blog.


Cheers, Ciao, Vaarwel, Adieu, Adios.



Henri van Bentum





2014/05/19

CZAR Rap



Watch out for that Big Bear
He has a pint-sized boss who doesn't care
When he inflicts sorrow or pain
On the dancing and singing people of Ukraine.
Make no mistake 
Although he can be kind
He has only one thing in mind
No matter where or who we are
He thinks he is the new Czar.

Henri van Bentum

2014/05/13

Oldest Known ORCA in the World Visits Nearby



 "Granny" (J2) from J Pod, photo Traci Walter
 For those of you who are not living near the Ocean and for our far away readers, this may be of interest.  We live a stone’s throw from the Pacific shores here at Juan de Fuca Strait in Victoria, Canada.   In this region are not only Humpbacks but also southern resident Orcas.  Erroneously called Killer Whales, Orcas are the warriors of the Dolphin species.  Once in a while we see a Pod on our walks, but only seldom since they prefer to be in the Salish Sea near the Gulf Islands.There is an Orca “star”, a centenary-plus great-grandmother who is believed to be 103 years old.  (Average lifespan is 60-80 years.) 
 “Granny” is on the left.  Photo Simon Pidcock.
This matriarch, named Granny, was spotted on the weekend near Saturna Island.  She was with her Pod, called “J Pod” and her “official name” is J2. Researchers say she is in excellent health. The amazing thing is, 103-year old Granny was spotted in California on May 2, which means she has travelled 1,290 kilometres in one week!  Chapeau. Brava! Granny!

Henri van Bentum



2014/05/08

Sanatorium "Zonnestraal" - Revisited




In an earlier post (August 4, 2008), I wrote about how my career in art began in the early 1950’s during a lengthy-stay at a tuberculosis sanatorium in Holland, called Zonnestraal (‘Sunbeam’).   

The sanatorium was made possible by the Amsterdam Diamond Workers Union. Because my father was a diamond-facetter (and my two grandfathers), I was sent there.  
The building was situated in a quiet pine forest near Hilversum. Zonnestraal was a forerunner in architectural and solar design, allowing a maximum amount of sunlight for the patients. Zonnestraal came into disrepair following medical advances in treating tuberculosis.  
 Zonnestraal in disrepair, 1980's
a view of what had been the patients' rooms; these rooms were completely open on one side, with no windows.
In the 1990’s a group of architects petitioned to have the building restored because of its major architectural significance.  Not long ago the World Monuments Fund awarded a prize to the architects who restored the building.  Zonnestraal is also awaiting listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 Founded by the Diamond Workers Union of Amsterdam, the sanatorium was part of a larger aftercare colony for tubercular patients. It was funded by Union dues as a facility that would train members who had been afflicted with the disease for their return to society. Zonnestraal is emblematic of the emerging ideals of social democracy in the Netherlands during the 1920s, and it reflected the new concept of using occupational therapy in health cure.”   World Monuments Fund 

It would have been hard for me to imagine, way back in 1952, that over sixty years later, Zonnestraal would become such an iconic building. I thought we’d share this with you.

Henri van Bentum