Tag Archives: architecture

You can’t buy this in a bottle

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”.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVermut 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.







OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat has he been thinking about!? And what is she doing on her tablet? Tourists or locals?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow 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.

This post if my response the the Weekly Photo Challenge: Local.





What is your Quest?

Spain’s Parliament Building in Madrid, early Sept. 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               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?




The Arch of Madrid!




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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Edge


Sky Rise

Today’s post features photographer Shane Felton who created all these photos. Shane keeps his eyes on the sunrises and skylines in the Rocky Mountains, especially Idaho and Montana where we say we have Big Sky.

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” E. M. Forster

Montana Sunset adjusted and cropped

“Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline. The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets, one waits.”  Carl Sandburg

Boise skyline adjusted

“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”
Hilary T. Smith


sky texturebright sunrise on citystadium sunrise

“It agitates me that the skyline there is forever our limit, I long for the power of unlimited vision…If I could behold all I imagine.”
Charlotte Brontë

construction 1

“On the morrow the horizon was covered with clouds- a thick and impenetrable curtain between earth and sky, which unhappily extended as far as the Rocky Mountains. It was a fatality!” Jules Verne

blue shapes

“You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light. You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before the noon comes and the full sun is upon the landscape.”  Woodrow Wilson

hello moon

“For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.” Richard H. Baker

“Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there’s something good about feeling both.” Amy Grant

A message from the artist, Shane Felton. “I first started taking photos on a self retreat north of Garden Valley. Just me and a store bought instant camera (remember those anyone?). I had realized after a couple hunting trips I loved the hunt of big game, however I was not capable of shooting any creature with my rifle. I decided to try with the lens. I had about the same luck either way. Now photography is almost easy. My “phone” takes as good a picture as the nice digital camera my kids gave me for Christmas 5 years ago! I tend now to picture things many would consider beautiful, (a sunrise), but also those that most take for granted, the rise of a $250 million building, or quail tracks in fresh snow. In one of these sunrise pictures I actually intended the reflection. I think I’m just beginning.”

Blogger’s Note. As I study Shane’s photos I am struck by his awareness of sky and skyline and emerging light at that time of day when the sky and natural or built landscapes transform from darkness to light of day; that twilight time in the cool early morning. He presents us with a palette of hues that sometimes look as if they have been glazed in pastels, warmth with sunlight rising and cools from night lingering. Thanks for sharing your photographs Shane!

Please leave comments for Shane! He will appreciate your feedback. 

Weekly Photo Challenges:  Landscape; Future; State or Mind; Time.

The watchful corridor

eerie door B & W

eerie hall with windows B & W

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.

Weekly photo challenge EERIE.

A Box Full of Treasures

box and burn barrel
Treasure was shipped for Mom by a moving company, handled with care as labeled.

Tidying up the music room I’m determined to deal with each unpacked box as I come to it. Don’t just move it somewhere else, but find a place for the contents, even if that place is another box that goes to the thrift store or the burn barrel. This is not the last of several boxes of cards and letters my mom kept from 1977 through 1999. I brought them home when she died in 2006 and I’ve gone through them a little at a time. They’re time capsules.

I spent a few hours sorting this box, making piles to burn, keep, or send to my stepsister or kids or cousins. And as I reflect on these old hand written messages, I’m tempted to pull yet a few back from burning.

We seldom write or keep correspondence today, sent through the mail. Social media has taken the place of hand written letters. Letters, to me, are treasures of my family’s development, markers of growing together through life stages and historical events, signs of what was happening in my country and how people felt about it.

Reflecting on why Mom kept these, why they mattered to her, why they still matter to me, takes time. I don’t take it lightly. Here’s a short list of some things I like from this box of treasures.

I like

  • that Mom’s best friend’s cards and mine have the same style. No wonder and I’m named for her, too.
  • photos that I can hold and touch, not on my computer screen
  • my parents, our family, and their friends have a hilarious sense of humor
  • letters from my kids when they were very young to their grandparents
  • memorial cards from Grandma’s funeral, and those of other relatives who grew old
  • wedding and graduation announcements and thank you notes
  • cursive hand writing, like hearing the sender’s voice speaking to me, I recognize the characters
  • newspaper clippings with pictures and stories of my son and my parents
  • my favorite uncle’s signature initials in beautiful cursive or like our family’s ranch brand
  • my history, even the uncertain times and secrets, and all the love shared through letters
  • news and notes and jokes from all my aunts and uncles and many many of my parents’ friends
  • when people sent letters to say they have nothing new to tell, but wanted to remind us they love us

Today, no surprise, a friend brought me another letter with photos from 1976. I had to take time to think and feel about crafting this writing because after I sorted the letter and photos, making one of the stacks for a cousin, he called. He told me that another cousin’s wife died that day. She died while I was reading through the box of cards and letters, and her memorial will be on Mom’s birthday Saturday. Things like this happen to me often enough that I don’t even question the connections any more. I’m just happy that I am aware and that I recognize what a treasure my gift of connections is. All we have to do is pay attention. This experience was designed to happen the way it did.

In Writing 101 from Blogging U we were assigned to write and post a list, and in another assignment to select one word from a list of six and use it as a prompt. This posts meets both those assignments.

by window light in a castle

Here’s another response to this week’s photo challenge, CREEPY. Today I look into windows and out of windows at fortresses in Transylvania, high up into the Carpatian Mountains. I consider sitting or standing in nothing but window light in Bran Castle. Would I be content? Would I be a prisoner or hostage in olden times? Would I be a ghost of someone who knew intimately the light inside the torture chamber? What secrets are hidden in dim  light of a castle window? What shall I compemplate at my own window today in the Rocky Mountains?fortress window skulls

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Favourite Place

by Terry Collett

For the umpteen time in as many days
You were caught sitting in the window
Of your uncle’s room, and he in as many
Times scolded you for disturbing his
Papers and books and cluttering up
The place, as he put it in his bass
Voice, which vibrated the timbers.Go elsewhere and sit and stare
And clutter up another room, and
Don’t look at me like that girl,
He moaned at you, jabbing his
Stubby finger into your bony chest,
Giving you the I’m-the-adult-around-here
Stare, and so you moved off and out
And pulled the door closed on his musty
Room with his dusty books and papers
And that smell of tobacco and old
Men and never went back again.

At least that’s what you told him
Thereafter, although you often crept
Back in and sat in the window looking
Out at the orchard, where, on certain
Times of night or day, you could see
Your now dead auntie, wave as she
Went on by the trees and on her way.

Poem from http://allpoetry.com/poem/5640287-Favourite-Place.-by-Terry-Collett
See more of my photos for the photo challenge CREEPY when you click here and here. 

Hidden passages

In the Tunnel
Up the hidden stairs

Anything can happen

when you take the first steps

into a hidden passageway.

Strange lights appear.

Walls close in on you.

Pretty creepy.

Especially when

stairs are involved.

And if

it’s in the dark part

of an ancient castle

deep in Transylvania

deep in the Carpathian Mountains.

And if you’re alone.

At night.

And it’s Bran Castle,

one of several

that inspired the story

of a cunning vampire.

The setting, they say.

Would you proceed toward an unknow light source?

Would you step

round the corner

toward an unknown light


step up B & W tint

Would you recall

the murderer


up the old wooden stairs

every night

to your bedroom

when you were a child?

You knew you would be the first one killed,


because you were too scared

to scream.


your sleeping brothers.

Would Dad wake up

in time

to save his family?

You never found out.

down ancient steps

What ghosts crept down these

primitive planks,

before you?

Did they escape?

Will you?

Will you miss a step

and tumble down head first


as you see your belly

falling over your face

again and again

like you were a child?

Again and again?

Who will unlatch the door

at the bottom

and hold you

this time?

Keens on stairs 3 colorful

Better carry a lantern

and wear sensible shoes

lest you slip

and break your neck.

Blood wipes up


from polished stones,

they say.

stone staircase

Better yet,

stay away.

Don’t go

into dark passages.

You’ll never be the same if you do.

This poem was inspired by images I made during my experiences at The Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, in July, 2015. Of the scary photos and writing on my blog for the photo challenge, CREEPY, the post Hidden Passages is the most popular. It doesn’t show images of things created to be scary like a ghost bride racing away on a ghost horse, or a skull with horns over a huge fabric draped in the woods, or animal skulls baring their teeth in a fortress window. No, instead it shows ancient wooden or stone stairs, most of them spiraling, and small dark hallways and strange lights. Those images are more real and we all have fears of the real more than the fantastic art pieces created to scare us.

The New Plank

Frank's Outhouse Nearly Monochrome

Emily squinted toward the privy, hoping Frank was still there. When she last saw him he had rolled up the Cabella’s catalog and stuffed it in his hip pocket, grabbed a PBR from the cooler, and left the kitchen door swinging open. That always signaled he was heading to his one-holer library. But this time he had not returned. She would have heard the creak of the cooler lid as he reached for another beer. Dusk deepened in a whispering symphony of shadows and the sky pressed down upon the ridge saying hush. How she hated this time of evening when she could distinguish few colors except crimson tones in the outhouse plank that Frank had replaced after he’d come at her with his axe last November. She wouldn’t hide from him ever again. She pulled back the hammer on Frank’s Winchester and pressed the butt firmly against the soft flesh below her collarbone. The heavy steel was cold in her grip. She felt her neck swell with blood pulsing so hard she could hear nothing else. Her fear and wrath excited her. And it felt so right.

glass door with window and stove

The story is flash fiction, I  made it up today. If you knew Frank you wouldn’t doubt one of his six wives might have killed him. For his privacy I won’t tell you what really killed him, but he did have a meaningful part of himself amputated in an attempt to save his life. Failed. I didn’t know a man can get cancer there! Look closely and you can see the top of my home in the background. I don’t have an outhouse. Nor a Winchester. And the horror genre is new to me. I’m getting ready to go the the Horror Writers Workshop in Transylvania this summer so this is just a small step in that direction. You’ll more likely see fantasy and magical realism in my poems and stories. Those are also in the horror genre, the “new black”. Dark fiction. This January post tells about the Horror Writers Workshop. There are still a few openings. You can find the link in that post. I posted a poem with another monochromatic version of Frank’s place here.

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Today’s photo challenge is Architecture and Monochrome. I photographed Frank’s place in Feb. 2015. It’s decaying since he died several years ago. I doubt there were building codes when he constructed it. Shadows lend the look of Mystery, a previous daily photo challenge. And the walls address the weekly photo challenge Wall. Click https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/wall/ to see more Wall photos by other bloggers and https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/wall/ to see my earlier Wall post, rather macabre. I took some time adjusting these photos in Photoshop CS4 to create moods and tryout monotone design techniques. In the slideshow above you can see the untouched images next to those I adjusted. I’m still more comfortable in a real true old fashioned darkroom with an enlarger and chemicals. But digital tools are rather amusing, cheaper, and maybe faster. To find out about the WordPress Photo 101 course, which has a daily photo assignment, and see more photos in this challenge, click here https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/. You might have to be registered for the course to use the link.

In a Tree House

In a Tree House

from A Year with Hafiz


will someday split you open

even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,

is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain

that you hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open

into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

A life-giving radiance will come,

O look again within yourself,

For I know you were once the elegant host

To all the marvels in creation. 

From a sacred crevice in your body,

a bow rises each night

and shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful One

from the vantage point of Love.

He is conducting the affairs

of the whole universe

in a tree house – on a limb

in your heart.

Tree houses fascinate me. Maybe because my aunt built several on my grandparents property and I played in them as a child. Maybe because of children’s literature like Winnie the Pooh. Maybe because the architecture is usually designed and constructed by children. It’s raw like my imagination and I feel free when I even think of a tree house.

I found this poem here. http://yearwithhafiz.blogspot.ca/2013/11/in-tree-house.html