My wife and I made our annual New Year’s Day trip to Japan. This year, that day was interrupted by the massive Noto earthquake. Fortunately, we were far enough away that we only felt a rolling sensation, like the deck of a ship cresting a wave. We were in a store at the time; the overhead signs swayed a few inches, but the main effect was everyone’s cell phones simultaneously sounding an emergency alert. For those who were closer, the quake shifted the entire coastline of the Noto peninsula by up to 800 feet. The destruction was immense. The TV networks showed nothing else for the next week.

It was the museums that were perhaps the most memorable, from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum, through the Museum of Seafaring built into the walls of an old drydock, to the one that deserves some special mention, Moesgaard Museum.

We spent a four-day weekend in Ottawa two weeks ago. We soaked up the ambiance of the architecture, the river, and the canal on the first day. When the wind changed and blanketed the town in thick smoke, we made the next day one to explore many of the city’s fine museums, plus the Canadian Mint. Outside the National Gallery of Canada is a 10-meter-tall sculpture of a mother spider named “Maman.” It’s an imposing presence, but beyond that, it could be an illustration from my short story “Charon,” which is due out in the Gods and Globes anthology in the fall.