“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” » John Muir
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” » Theodore Roosevelt
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle
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.
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.
Forest foraging today provided spicy watercress (Nasturtium officianale) and sweet yellow avalanche lily (Erythronium grandiflorum – Pursh) to lively up my salad. Though I was seeking illusive morel mushrooms, I found other delicious and nutritious plants to harvest on my spring trek. I grazed as I hiked and brought home a small harvest to embellish tonight’s salad.
5 things to know about Nasturtium officianale
It’s related to mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula and tastes spicy like them.
It keeps well a few days submerged in water and stored in the fridge.
Modern science has identified more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals contained in this one herb – more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than oranges.
It is known for preventing or treating cancer.
Vitamin K is by far the most prominent nutrient in watercress, with 312% of the daily recommended value. It forms and strengthens the bones and limits neuronal damage in the brain, which is helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
5 things to know about Erythronium grandiflorum – Pursh
Since it often appears at the edge of receding snow banks it is often called snow lily, glacier lily, yellow avalanche-lily, and it’s known as dogtooth violet, trout lily, and fawn lily. People who live in my community call it deer tongue but that is more often used for a different wild flower.
It’s related to the Lily family and it’s stamens can be white, yellow, or red. Usually all the flowers in a patch have the same color stamens.
You can eat the flower, seeds, and bulbs. Leaves are edible, too, but only eaten in emergencies as bulbs need the leaves to provide nutrients to sustain the plant.
This edible wildflower grows in western Canada and U. S., especially in the Rocky Mountains.
Elk and deer relish the foliage. Grizzly bears and black bears use their claws to comb through the soil unearthing the nutritious bulbs.
More posts about edible wild foods are here and here.
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?
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
This poem was inspired by images I made during my experiences atThe Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, in July, 2015. Of the scary photos and writing onmy blog for thephoto 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.
I’m always delighted to see hand crafted masks and those I encountered in Romania were most impressive. Masks represent the strange symbolic world. They serve to protect the home by warning off evil or beckoning good wishes. Romanians hang masks on their homes, in the forest, and display them on mantles and walls. They create masks and wear them in ritual dances for life’s greatest passages like birth, marriage, and burial. As the year passes through time, masks worn in ceremonies ease the passage from one world of time, or season, to the other, especially at New Years rituals. I photographed the masks I saw on my tour with the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania. But fear not, the faces I encountered were not all so scary. Some were downright fun. Petre Vlase tells about Romanian masks expertly here if you want to learn more about the tradition.
Our inn’s host Lorenzo at, Mamacozonacilor Pensuine in Bran set these on the mantle in the dining hall to scare off evil during our writers workshops and tours. These two were hand carved by an elderly man in Bran.
Lorenzo gave this mask to Richard Thomas, our guest horror author and instructor in exchange for Richard’s promise to return next summer. Richard took this protection home to guard his writing chair where he composes some wicked tales. Photo by Richard Thomas, enhanced by me.
Romanian masks aren’t all so frightening. These fiber masks hang on homes. The male head of the household wears one in a ceremony and asks for certain wishes or hopes for the home. I found these displayed on ancient homes that were moved from various sites in Romania into Herastrau Park in Bucharest. They are hand crafted from fabric, animal hair, fibers, dried beans, and other materials. The inside where you put your face is all black felt. In some mask wearing traditions the person wearing the mask goes into the void when putting it on, becoming the character of the mask. That’s why masks are often black inside. I don’t know if that’s true in Romanian tradition.
Many of these furry masks have something dangling off the nose. Most wear this sort of hat attatched.
The teeth are made from dried beans drilled and sewn in.
Fur can be real or otherwise.
These look to be more for display than wearing. They are macrame, probably hemp. Now here’s a use for wooden spoons.
No two are quite alike.
Owls see more than we can, so useful to display on the home.
These are the only old man masks I saw. They are at a souvenier shop at an ancient fortress we visited.
Rather absurd, don’t you think? This face is on the wall in Dracula’s birth home, now a bar and restaurant. I couldn’t hold the camera still. Yikes!
Some masks like this ceramic candle holder in a restaurant in Brasov are just decorative and plain old fun.
A mask on the wall helps set the tone of the place. Relax and enjoy a pipe
or whatever.Chilren are represented in some masks. The lighter side. It’s not all dark and scary.
Animals, too. This is not really a mask. It was made by a film crew that used the Bran Castle as a setting. Now that’s scary. It inspired a new horror story for me. You can’t miss this monster and rider as you enther the fortress.
We couldn’t figure out the meaning behind this but no doubt it means to be scary. This was at the top of the steep path to Bran Castle.
Figure out this one. It’s on a hill alongside the road in one of Transylvania’s most haunted forests. We were warned that wolves do live in this forest. If you were in the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, dont’ tell what we discoverd about this spooky sight.
I’m thrilled that as soon as I came home from Transylvania I was asked to direct a spooky play this fall. You can be darned sure I will use some of this inspiration for masks, props, and the set.
What do you do with a fleet of aluminum canoes? Sculpture, of course!
We detoured off Highway 26 in Washington to see Palouse Falls. I like traveling the backroads. We crossed the Snake River from Clarkston, Washington into Lewiston, Idaho. From the bridge I could see a mural of fish painted on a long building. The canoe sculpture in front of it astounded me. Next morning I came back and photographed the art installation. It really is worthwhile to take the back way and linger along the journey. This is only some of the artsy Old Town in Lewiston.
This is the wall of a seafood company alongside the river and railroad tracks. The mural artist is Rolf Goetzinger of Spokane. With his brother Peter they create public art and sculpture in cities and hospitals. You can see their galleries http://www.artistbrothers.com/. They created another mural of the way Lewiston used to be in Old Town. It’s worth the time to take a driving break away from the gas stop and the Lewiston grade to see the public art in this college town.
This is my 5th post in the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge. I was nominated by https://dpw67.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/becker-vineyards-feb/. The point is to post a photo and story, any style fiction or non-fiction or poetry you like, for 5 consecutive days. Nominate another blogger each of those days and don’t forget to tell them. Participation is totally optional and you don’t have to have an invitation to join, anyone can take up the challenge. Doug invited me the day before I left for vacation and I waited a couple of weeks before I had time to get on it. Today I nominate Sharron McConnel to take up the Challenge. Sharron posts interesting photos often and writes brief concise pieces with them to give her readers interest and focus. She, too, travels the backroads and writes about it, with photos. Check out her blog https://sharonmcconnel.wordpress.com/.
I am thrilled to get to partcipate in the horror writers workshop in Transylvania this summer! I get to visit Bran’s castle and have a bite at Dracula’s house (lunch). I invite you to take up the challenge, too.
Horror is not my best writing genre, but then I don’t really know because I’ve only peered into it. This workshop will immerse me in the craft. The author teacher, Richard Thomas, is one of the best. (More about him in the link at the end of this.) I’ve been assured that exploratory writing will be just the ticket.
When I wondered if my writing is up to the challenge, the Program Director, an accomplished author herself, Tausha Johnson gave me this to think about. (She’s in the link below, too.)
“Writing a Horror Story
Every story is, in its tiny way, a horror story. Horror is about fear and tragedy, and whether or not one is capable of overcoming those things. It’s not all about severed heads or blood-glutton vampires. It’s an existential thing, a tragic thing, and somewhere in every story this dark heart beats.”
She said, “Yes, Kay, horror is very open and covers a lot of ground, such as dark fiction, dark fantasy, gothic, noir, psychological horror, weird, supernatural, surreal, grotesque, suspense & thriller, slipstream (crossing lines with sci-fi and fantasy), etc. Then there’s the horror I write which is more literary horror. Flannery O’Connor & Shirley Jackson often fall into this horror sub-genre. Whatever our style or genre of writing, there are elements to the genre that can help us create suspense and unique, original stories.”
In my LaWrynn stories (in the menu at the top of this blog) there is much fantasy and darkness. She arrives in our world from the other world, the Celtic idea of where we are when we are dead or where the enchanted beings live. She enters our world through a portal on Samhain, the Celtic celebration when spirits can enter our world for 3 days, then go back to their world. It occurs at Halloween time and celebrates the end of the old year and beginning the new with festivities and community bonfires. Once in our world, she lives in the dark underground, Badger’s hole, and encounters life on this side, including dangers and horrors as well as light mischief and fun. She’s trapped here for a year because she didn’t get back through the portal at the end of 3 days. Her horror is having to live in this world. There’s magic and fantasy and lots of room to add darker elements. LaWrynn is mostly living in a real notebook with me for now. I need to prod myself to get more of her stories into this blog. You can read the draft of her appearance here. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/lawrynn-stories-fantasy-and-celtic-lore/
And I have more ideas for dark stories. My new neighbor might be a pyromaniac and he’s obsessed with sealing wasps out of his house. For real! Wasps really scare me!They attack me every chance they get. I feel like their target. His house was abandoned for several years so wasps moved in and I don’t doubt ghosts abide there, too.
In my https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/the-cat-rock-letters/, I plan to animate the stone formation, a cat that overlooks the river and section house where Frank lives. In Celtic lore rock formations have powers and can change and cause changes. But this set of stories is not so dark and maybe I’ll leave them as they are.
I like the ravine in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. I long to produce a play adapted from Poe’s “Mask of the Red Death”. I love Stanley Kubrick’s directing in the suspenceful movie “The Shining”. Nicole Kidman’s performance in the ghost story “The Others” convinced me. And I could not put down Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk even when the snow outside was the best ever on my vacation. He wrote Haiku in the story! Poe also wrote poems in his stories like https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/haunted-palace/ in “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Shakespeare’s stories showed ghosts and seers and tragedies. Mythology is full of tragedies. I got this!
If I never wanted to write horror, and never contrived a place I’d like to be when I write it, and people I’d like to be with…well sometimes I just need to be spontaneous and go with the demon when it stretches its claw toward me. With a generous scholarship offer from the workshop director, Tausha Johnson, I am 93% sure I am going to be in in Transylvania in July for the horror writer’s workshop. I’m looking at travel costs before making 7% more commitment. I’m sure I can do it! Just do it for no good reason. Going!
I’ve never traveled off the North American continent and I need a little guidance about making flight arrangements. If you can advise me, please reply! I can fly from Boise or SEATAC. Here’s where I need to go:
“We recommend that guests fly to Henri Coandă International Airport, Romania which is located 16.5km (10.3mi) northwest of the city of Bucharest. Once all travel arrival times have been confirmed, a shuttle will bring you from a designated meeting point directly to the hotel in Bran. Please be aware that travel time to Bran is approximately three hours.”
I traveled to Port Angeles, Washington, USA, in mid October after living away for a year. I lived at the sea port for many years, with a home in Idaho, too. Here are selected photos from my autumn trip across the Pacific Northwest. You can see more in my post about a little almost-ghost town where we stopped for lunch on our trip home. “Washtucna, No Town for Old Dogs” https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/washtucna/
Washtucna, Washington, USA. We pulled over for coffee at the highway stop shop where they also offer a menu of hot dog dressings and sell antique dishes. Hot dogs on a road trip? Let’s see if we can find an interesting locals diner in town instead.
The welcome sign at the edge of town invited us to cruise Main Street and shop local businesses. The whole town was closed, many buildings boarded up, something like a ghost town! We spotted Sonny’s, the only place open in town, and determined it was not the cafe-tavern for us. The only people we saw were the two coming out of the tavern, a driver watching wild turkeys from his car parked by a stream in a park, and one woman in bright pink pajama pants who stood on her porch and yelled at us to get off unmarked private property, a scrubby deserted lot across the highway from her home. We didn’t even see a dog. But we did find plenty of subjects to photograph before we ate hot dogs and hit the highway again.
We drove to the not-so-far end of town and made our way back to Highway 26. Looks like population 100 or maybe less. Stark! Washtucna has at least 5 tiny parks, put in so they could qualify for a grant. Nobody we talked to at the highway stop remembered anything else about the grant.
We toured town in gusty wind, and then ate our hot dogs in the parking lot of the Sunflower Park next to the highway. There, four signs warned us that dogs are not allowed so we kept the German Shepherds in the van. After lunch I photographed the four signs and more. When I walked through the little grassy area I discovered why dogs are banned. And possibly why there are no dogs to be seen in this ghostly town, except hot dogs.
Here is my photo tour of Washtucna. Click the first photo to start the slide show. Look for silos in the background, signs of the grain industry that thrived here almost a hundred years ago. Today I get hints of a setting for a horror or sci-fi tale, or maybe an unlikely romance story. Zombies…and dogs…lots of dogs…