When my friend invited me to Bend, Oregon, over Presidents holiday I didn’t expect to find a Fire Pit Competition at their Winterfest. They seem to be made from steel salvaged from Bend’s old mill. People gathered around the art pieces at Old Mill Park along the Deschutes River to share the warmth of the outdoor sculptures with a purpose – they had to be interesting to look at and hold a blaze.
Cabin Fever is no problem for these sculptors. They have a problem to solve and a product to craft. Mission accomplished.
” . . . each of us contains our ancestors and all the generations to come. When we free ourselves we are freeing all humanity.” The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho
I stood on the beach at a boat ramp near Vantage, Washington, US when the dam was drained for repair a few years ago. The Columbia River was as low as it had been before the dam was built. I could see the ancient Native American fishing site across the water. Rubbing a stone between my thumb and fingers that cool autumn day I felt as if it held an ancestor within. It asked me to carry it with me on my journey. And so I did.
On that sand, which is now again deep under water, I felt connected with the earth and earlier people. It’s not the only time, but it was special and I knew it. Who knows how long, if ever, until the river will be so low again? I wondered who had walked there long ago. My home was built just months before I bought it. Not many people were likely to have walked the ground there, remote in the Rocky Mountains. But imagine cities and highways and and airways or water ways, some more than 1000 years old. What did people leave behind in their foot prints? How long does our negative or positive energy linger? I didn’t bless that beach but I’ve often renewed the spirit of my home, especially before and after guests. I found this article from Daily Om inspiring and I think you may like it, too.
We can bless each space we enter leaving a sweet energetic footprint behind.
Physical space acts like a sponge, absorbing the radiant of all who pass through it. And, more likely than not, the spaces we move through each day have seen many people come and go. We have no way of knowing whether the energy footprints left behind by those who preceded us will invigorate us or drain us. Yet we can control the energy footprint we leave behind for others. In blessing each space we enter, we orchestrate a subtle energy shift that affects not only our own experiences in that space but also the experiences of the individuals who will enter the space after us. While we may never see the effects our blessing has had, we can take comfort in the fact that we have provided grace for those that follow after us.
When you bless a room or an entire building, you leave a powerful message of love and light for all those who will come after you. Your blessings thus have myriad effects on the environments through which you pass. Old, stagnant energy is cleared, creating a vacuum into which fresh and invigorating energy can freely flow. The space is thus rendered harmonious and nourishing, and it becomes a hub from which positive feelings are transmitted. Intent is the key component of the blessings you leave in your physical wake. If your intent involves using your own consciousness as a tool for selflessly spreading grace, your blessings will never go awry. Whether you feel more comfortable performing a solo blessing or prefer to call upon your spirit guides for assistance, visualize each space you enter becoming free of toxins, chaos, and negativity as you speak your blessing. Then imagine the resultant emptiness being replaced by pure, healing white light and loving energy. Even a quic! k mindful thought of love can bless a space.
This type of blessing is cumulative and will grow each time you bestow it. Try blessing every home, business, and office you visit for an entire week and observing the effects of your goodwill. Your affirmative energy footprint will help brighten your day as you contemplate your blessing’s future impact on your siblings in humanity and your environment.
Crust and crumb, the sourdough rye bread turned out just fine. It raised more than it usually does at home. I gave the biologist and the technician each the end parts and kept the mid section for myself. It’s mottled and I like that, not the way I planned but it adds visual interest. I used the whole wheat recipe substituting rye flour for the whole wheat and adding 3 tablespoons dark baking chocolate powder plus a little chopped up fresh rosemary. Superb texture and flavor.
The piece of bread in the bag was baked at home, much denser loaf. Today I decided to take an afternoon nap. No such luck. Something struck the wall next to my bed hard like a football in the wrong place. Shortly afterwards it happened again. I heard the staff yelling at each other outdoors and I knew I didn’t need to get up. I’d hear about it later.
They call these suicidal quail. Both were fleeing the talons of a falcon when they crashed into the side of the house. The biologist held them for a while to see if there might be a heartbeat. When I came down stairs he warned me there is a dead bird in the fridge and told me their story. He gently placed the still warm carcass in my hands and together we admired the feathers. So tiny around the neck. How precisely the hues change and form patterns.
Feather tips felt smooth, but lifting them they revealed fluffy down next to the body. I imagined how the feathers held warmth when the bird puffed up in winter. Staff took the birds home for dinner.
I painted more autumn scenes that afternoon and evening. It felt odd painting inside a specific frame, the shapes of leaves I had traced. For practice with techniques perhaps this limitation was just what I needed. I could concentrate on the process and not feel like I have to compose to the edges of the paper. This is the first time I haven’t taped down the edges. It worked OK on Canson 140, but I prefer Arches 140.
It’s my last evening shift. I packed a few things but left the rest for the morning sensing that I won’t have many hunters picking up a key so I will have plenty of time to move out.
My new best coffee! I get up at 6 AM to get ready to open the office at 7. It takes me a while to wake up. I brought a bag of instant powdered coconut milk for creamer. Mixed with honey in pressed coffee the flavors astound me! This one cup coffee press it’s great for a single mug.
Checking out gate keys to visitors was easy and I’m surprised most of them want to chat a while instead of rushing to their hunt. It’s a pleasant way to start the morning. I nearly filled the wood bin and then made pumpkin soup for lunch, stirring in coconut powder instead of canned coconut milk. Scrumptious with a mug of mushroom coffee! My husband rolled in with a friend and our 2 German Shepherds. The dogs stay in the van at the ranch so they can’t harass the resident wild turkeys. I made a pot of espresso flavored with coconut milk and coconut sugar and we sat on the porch in the sun watching wild turkeys in the yard.
I took a map and keys to 3 gates, locked the house (office inside) and we went off in search of the roads. We entered Lake Road access gate and found this small ancient dog house nearby. Our dogs are too large to get in. There is a loading chute and corral at the entrance. We encountered a stream crossing right away (no bridge) and looking at the road ahead decided it truly was best for an ATV, not our big wide Chevy Express. Let’s hit the highway for the next access gate.
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It was hard to find the Woodhead gate right across from the Woodhead campground. Duh! But the gate is behind a pond and no signs point to it. This road, too is not suitable for a van for very many miles. At least it’s not a steep drop off like Lake Road. Eventually we would have come to a peak and pine forest but I had to open the office at 4 so we turned around. I notice my office hours are the same time as the best light for photos, sunrise and sunset. I’ll be back in my 4X4 truck some other time to capture betters photos.
Brownlee Dam, the first of 3 dams on the Snake River in Hells Canyon, is just out of view to the right of the reservoir. For this photo I turned around and now we’re looking down hill. I’m in Idaho. The land across the river is Oregon.
See the road on the Oregon side, pretty high above the water? It’s not Lake Road but just like it. NOT taking the van on it! Looks like fun for a mountain bike. Yikes. When I was a child, not even in school yet, my family would take Grandpa’s Jeep on roads like that pulling a silver camper. What a hoot! Mom was wrong. Dad didn’t kill us all.
We’re pretty high above the canyon but still can’t get cell phone service here. I thought the Carpathian Mountains were steep when I visited Transylvania but I’m not sure they are steeper than these. Back just in time to open the office, goodbye to my guests, and I swapped keys for hunters who are staying the week in Hells Canyon, took some phone reservations, and checked in returned keys. I gave one chukar hunter a tour of the bear trails around the house and under the wild orchard and black walnut trees. So much scat! I don’t find any fresh walnuts on the ground. Do you suppose bears or turkeys eat them? They’re a hard nut to crack. Um . . . not for a bear. He stayed and we chatted a while about wild plums and elderberries and recipes for foraged harvests while we watched the turkeys eating grass seeds and apples. They fly up and knock the fruit to the ground and then fight over it.
I closed the office at 5 and boiled brown farm eggs for dinner from the little Alpine store in Indian Valley. That place deserves it’s own blog post, it’s so eclectic. The sun disappears behind the mountain early so I brought in another load of firewood and put the wheel barrow back in the garage next to the tractors all the while gathering leaves with interesting shapes for water color painting tomorrow. That sound? Turkeys began flying up from the creek to roost in trees above it. I wondered if it was too dark to get photos but digital cameras are amazing at letting in light at twilight. Oh, the sound of these huge wings fluttering! It’s the sort of ruckus that stirs my imagination to write horror stories and paint scenes inspired by great beasts perching above me in the night. That was last night’s entertainment. Look what I can do when there is no distracting TV noise, none here.
I’ve been enchanted with the grotesque since I learned about gargoyles in my 7th grade French class. And I’ve always liked the humorous. Walking in Madrid in September I paused and clicked a few shots of this window decor while my friends advanced ahead of me, not noticing the window or that I was no longer keeping up. The skulls and rocks have been transformed to serve practical functions; they are no longer in their original forms. Go back and look closely and you will see what’s going on inside the room as well as reflections of street action. Let your mind feel the shifts in perception captured by the lens.
I met Richard Thomas when he was instructor at the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, Edition 2015, in Bran. One day on our way to write in a haunted castle we had lunch in an ancient cemetery. Richard made the original photo of this group of grave markers and I messed with it a bit to create this transmogrified image.
Imagine you were the Moslem king who surrendered your kingdom to the Christian king in Spain in 8000 CE. You would give up your possessions in a noble procession that marched forward for hours upon hours. You would proudly show the best of your wealth and majesty. You would have dignity in the surrender because your conqueror allows you to prepare your pageant, allows you to present him with what comprises your self, though you may have little choice but to give it all up. I realized the magnitude of such a surrender when I watched the procession at the festival to honor the occasion in Murcia in September. Were I still teaching world history, I would use this experience to try to help my students comprehend what was involved in surrendering.
I wonder when in my personal life I have surrendered, for whatever reason, with such pride or dignity to some event, with such intention of gloriously giving all I have to that which overpowered me. For several weeks I have been at hospitals with my dad as he tries to recover from a serious medical condition at age 83, and at the same time I’ve been on the phone empathizing with my cousin who has given in to cerebral palsy and at age 66 has decided to move into a care center. Both of them know their biggest surrender is coming and each is very weakened. Dad lives 3 hours driving time south while Kathy lives 3 hours north of my home. I’ve been away from home a lot lately. Today I gave myself the day off from supporting others and committed my energy to housekeeping that I’ve been letting go. At least dusting and organizing my things is something I can take power over for a few hours. As I watch these 2 people I have known all my life in their processes of surrender, I realize I must surrender them, I have to let them go soon. I will have to give them up to a higher power. Can I do it with dignity and calm intention? I think so. It’s an inner surrender, the attachment. It’s been done by others throughout history.
Pose like a statue until someone puts cash in your box (which you have also decorated and set out in an obvious and inviting way).
3. With cash secured in your money bucket do your best to pose with the payers.
4. Stay in character and interact with your patrons. After all, they paid for a performance.
5. Have a blast with the people you meet. It calls more attention to your performance and makes everyone’s day better.( Eduardo’s slide show has 5 photos; wait for them or click the arrows.)
6. Perform in Madrid plazas. (Or you own street.)
7. Or create an interesting sculpture with support so it looks like you are performing a magnificent feat when really you have built something to rest on.
I feel like I saw more street performers in Madrid than I photographed. I have encouraged my drama students to do street performances for fundraisers and I think with more confidence and rehearsals some might do it. Really, I should do this to raise funds for my next travel. Yeah, thinking about it.
Spanish Vermut, what a surprise I found in Spain! You can’t buy this in a bottle from local makers. The best vermut bars create their own secret recipe and store it in huge earthen casks like the two you see behind the bartender below. You have to go there to drink their recipe. They start with sweet white wine and infuse it with their own blend of botanicals and spices. Caramelized sugar added at the end gives it the reddish hue. Vermut originates from the German word wermüt which means wormwood, an ingredient generally regarded as one of the first to be infused into aromatized wines. Wormwood is also the main ingredient in true absinthe.
Doesn’t he look like a local? As I sat with my friends sipping my first ever Spanish Vermut with tapas I couldn’t help notice the architecture and decor of this building in Granada, including the local people who seemed to come here regularly plus the tourists. I shot almost all of these photos from the hip hoping to get candid authentic images without disturbing the feeling that was going on in the bar. We sat at one of the few tables while many people stood at the bar; there were no bar stools. Later, in Murcia vermut bars, I noticed it is common to have no bar stools and a much smaller bar space. Vermut is a Spanish aperitif and people generally walk to the bar, drink a vermut, perhaps with tapas, and then move on. Standing for this makes sense to me. It’s a temporary stop, no need to sit.
It looked like some patrons came in to see who’s there that they know, or perhaps they planned a ritual check-in with someone. For many it felt like they were performing their routine. It reminds me of “happy hour” before dinner. In Spain it’s “La Hora de Vermut”.
Vermut is served with a thin slice of lemon floating in it or perhaps an orange slice, and maybe stuffed olives for garnish. Tapas might be something pickled.
What has he been thinking about!? And what is she doing on her tablet? Tourists or locals?
How long has he been working here? Is he the owner?
I walked so many places in Granada, I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of this place. I think it is Bodegas Castanedas because the images I found in my search are very similar but slightly different from mine. It is near the Moroccan shopping area. If you can identify it, please tell me.
Can you buy Spanish Vermut in the US? . . . Maybe. Check out this guide to the Spanish Vermouth Renaissance to learn more about the varieties, then go to your favorite wine dealers and Spanish restaurants and ask.
Spain’s Parliament Building in Madrid, early Sept. 2016
This week’s photo challenge is “Quest”. The topic can be taken a multitude of ways and I have been thinking and free-writing about it. When I looked at photos I made in Spain the first 2 weeks of Sept. this year, this one strikes me as an ultimate quest: the search to be welcome in a country, to take refuge, when people are fleeing unconscionable hate in their homeland. Thank you Spain for displaying your welcome!
Since I returned to Idaho my dad has been in ICU for 12 days in quest for his life. He’s recovering now and is in quest of a drink of water, which he is still not allowed. His ultimate quest is to regain his health. Health and freedom and a welcome environment, how easily we might take these for granted, but for many people they are the only thing important today. What is your quest today?
If I sat on the edge of the city arch, would you sit with me? Would you watch the coming and going and secretly comment on the fashion of the times as they pass by? I think it would be rather dreary and dull, don’t you? To sit on the edge for ever so long and never participate in the worldly affairs of human beings, the dull little things.
This week’s photo challenge is VIBRANT:(adjective) full of energy and enthusiasm; quivering; pulsating; (of color) bright and striking.
I made this photo last April at Palouse Falls, Washington near Washtucna and Pullman, and Moscow and Lewiston in Idaho. Below I cropped the image two ways for different looks. I think I still like the full image best. What do you think?
I took out that glaring bright rock face on the right. I need to learn to dodge and burn in Creative Suite. I was just not able to bring out the texture I know is in the data.
In this crop I took off the left side to give more attention to the rainbow and the contrasts in the image.
Palouse Falls is magnificent. This rainbow attracted me almost as much. For the close up photo I used for the challenge, I moved to another perspective, and of course zoomed in. You can see more bloggers’ vibrant photos and join the challenge here.
I study round faces I found on masks and dolls and puppets in Sighisoara and Brasov, Romania last summer. Circles form the basic shape and eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin. Even eyebrows indicate circles. It makes a happy feeling. I’m ready to create masks and dolls and puppets, characters. Starting with painting circles appears easy, but will it be so? This little fellow’s hair grows around his face in a complete circle. What an enigma. I saw this hanging on a wall in a gift shop, just the face, nothing more. I think it would be a suitable face for Baby Brother puppet in a Baba Yaga play I am considering directing.
A bowl full of angels. So cheery! This artist has it down, the circles, the faces. I don’t want to copy, but I think it would be a good practice for me developing my own style, to let it flow and see where it takes me. I don’t have to make angels, maybe I’ll make witches or Yule Boys, those mischievious tomten-like brothers who lick your spoons and bowls and slam doors and peek at you through windows at Yule time. I’m happy to wander through the creative process. Painted faces, can they be as espressive as 3 dimensional sculpted ones?
So simple, yet so effective. I like the pipe cleaners for arms and legs, adorned with beads.
This cirlular emblem represents the Order of Dracul. I found it mounted on the wall in the house where Vlad Tepes, or Dracula, was born in Sighisoara, a town in Trnasylvania, Romania. Vlad’s father was the first in the Dracul order. In Romania adding “a” at the end of the name indicates the son of the original member. Only the first son adds the “a” and thereafter all the decendents use the name that way. So Vlad was the second in the Dracul line.
History about Dracula is interesting. I learned about him in The Horror Writers Workshop, Transylvania last summer. If you like horror literature, or want to explore the genre and visit inspiring places for writers, I highly recommend you take the week long workshop. For me, it’s unforgettable.
In addition to his title of “Impaler,” Vlad was also known as “Dracula,” which means “son of the Dragon.” Originally, this title came about because his father (also named Vlad) belonged to the Order of the Dragon, an order formed by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund for the purpose of defeating the Turks. The elder Vlad used the dragon symbol on his coins and went by the name “Dracul” (“dragon” or “devil”). Hence the diminutive “-a” on his son’s name, Dracula. As the younger Vlad’s talent for torture became known, however, the name Dracula came to be interpreted more and more as the sinister “son of the devil.” Read more about Dracula’s history here.
I’ve long wondered why so many family emblems are shaped in circles. Obviously they fit well on coins. But consider the circle, a line that continues when its end meets its beginning. Life is a cycle, a circle. It’s not perfect and they say no circle is perfect either. Today I will draft an image contained within a circle. It might represent a family or an order, or it might just be a fun exploration with cirles. Perhaps I’ll go out in my field in snow shoes and stomp circles in the snow.
I saved a short stack of cards and letters with photos from the last box of Mom’s hoard. I’d like to share a few excerpts from them. And at the end of this post I have a challenge for you!
My parents kept in touch with friends they had met while constructing power plants across the US. This “fun little group” of Boilermakers had bought adjacent properties along the Green River near Pindale, Wyoming, and they still all owned their spots when Mom died in 2006. From Sylvia and Don in Valpo, Indiana, December 18, 1986:
“When we’re 70 maybe some of us will meet up on top of the hills in Wyoming, with our campers and watch the moose and elk, grouse, sage hen. Hike down the hill on the tundra with flowers and catch some nice fresh fish from the running streams. We’ll all laugh and giggle about our outdoor privy. And no one will be around but our fun little group. One thing for sure I’m not dressing in a wet sleeping bag from the darn rain. Wasn’t that a kick! We’ll bring blackberry wine for Judy and oh the fun memories we can talk about at the camp fire.”
When my daughter was six years old I had become a single mom, finished college, and worked 2 jobs while trying to find a teaching position. From me, their daughter October 4, 1980:
“Thank you for the birthday gifts. The poem was nice, makes me want to spend more time with KC. Last nite I cleaned house and when I finished the dishes I sat down to paint with KC – but I fell asleep on the floor! (frowning face drawn here) Sometimes it’s not what you do together but the presence of spirits that counts.”
My son turned 18 in November of his Senior year and became quite independent so we let him live on the REBEL, our 36′ Monk built wooden boat, to finish high school. He came home for laundry and showers and we gave him grocery money. From me May, 1991:
“Grad gift for Ricky – we are buying him new tires, muffler, tune up parts, etc. for his car to give him a “running” start. He’s uncertain about summer plans. He is looking for work but has no $. He talks about college here next fall. He’s doing outstanding running the 3200 in track. Grades are good. Living on the REBEL is good for him.”
After my son graduated high school I took a year-long leave of absence from my teaching post and really explored the Washington coast line and maritime life. From me, October, 1992:
“I really enjoyed working on the square rigger Lady Washington in September. I was on her in the inner sound near Olympia and sailed her out the Strait to Neah Bay where I presented a workshop for teachers. The ship has asked me to work on her next season for special programs. She was (is a replica) a fur trading cargo vessel and built broad with square sails. She is really not much of a thrill to sail. I much prefer sailing Marconi rigs (triangle shaped sails).
The marine lab is offering me 20 hours a week next summer to expand my work with the public from 6 hours a week. – A raise, too, but certainly not nearly what I can make in public schools. I seem to be headed for more consulting and writing jobs and work at the lab so it looks like I’ll be able to meet my goal of working part time with flexible schedule and not have to go back full-time fo the school district, although they are obligated to me if I choose to go back. I truly do not miss the job of disciplining public youngsters!
The Native American museum at Neah Bay is preparing to move their artifacts to a new building and they have asked me help put the inventory into the computer. I’ll get to work with the Makah tribal elders and learn the language as they are categorizing artifacts by the native language and in accordance with non-material cultural heritage i.e. familial rights to symbolic designs and sex roles like women not allowed to handle whaling equipment. Such a lot to learn but what an experience! The anthropologist is ready to ask the tribal council to approve a curriculum writing project for me – a first for the museum and for the Washington outer coast which is just now being designated as a National Marine Sanctuary.”
These old letters are artifacts. They’re time capsules. They are reminders of how people connected with each other before we had all our electronic devices to send instant messages. Today’s messages are artifacts, too, but there’s something about going to the mailbox and finding a letter or card sealed in an envelope, addressed to you in a cursive handwriting you recognize as if the sender were talking to you in person, the penmanship and style, the unique voice of that writer. And the choice of stamps, that said something about the relationship between writer and reader. Sitting down with paper and pen to respond to the letter was an event, and then finding and addressing the envelope and a stamp, walking it to your mailbox. Letter writing was a ritual and we need rituals in our lives.
I know I’m not the only one who has found a stash of old letters hoarded away by our aging relatives. I admit I’ve saved many letters, too, though not as many as Mom. My mother kept boxes and boxes of cards and letters. They gave her comfort. Old letters, they get my muse jumping. It’s like a collage of memories collected around someone’s life.
“I think my mother saved every birthday or anniversary card they ever received from all five children and other relatives, including cards send to me when I was a kid from my grandparents. In fact, we found some that still had $2 bills in them, which they used to give me.”
Any of these excerpts motivate me to write. I’m going to pick one and use it to stimulate a blog post for the challenge I’ve made with bloggers Doug Warren and Pleasant Street starting the end of September.
When they commented on my last post about old letters we decided to challenge ourselves to once a month write a post inspired by some of our collection of old letters or cards or photos. Make the post the last week of each month. Start this month. Tag each other in these posts. Anyone can join us. I’ll set up the challenge the beginning of the last week, just write your post and tag my challenge post to set up a ping back. I hope you join our challenge!
Feature image by bhttp://alexandrajeancoffey.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/letters.jpg
Bran Castle in Transylvania had just enough eerie feeling. Some thing seemed to be watching me through doors. Some corridors made me wonder what I might encounter as I approached the unknown round the far away corner.