Friday, 29 February 2008

Heston's and the Big Apple

What a Leap Day it is--Heston's Lodge has made it to the New York Times! Here is a link to the article that is in today's travel section.

Thank you to Greg Breining, TC Worley, and the Times for giving us a memorable day. And because it is February 29, it will make it a whole lot easier for me to remember in the future that it was this day that we made the newspaper in such a large venue.

Pizza in the Snow

The oven's ready. The crusts are made. The sauces and toppings are set. It's a go....Pizza in the Snow! It's Winter Tracks time, and we're firing up the oven today to bake some pizza. And it's snowing---finally! (Big sigh of relief.) Even though we've had dustings come down regularly for the last several weeks, it still feels like we've been shorted on snowfalls. The flakes today are of the big, fluffy variety. This will add great atmosphere, and a little moisture, to our pizzas.

Pizza in the summer is a pretty set routine, since we have been doing it for four years. Winter presents another situation. I pre-baked the crusts, as that will speed up the process. In order to keep my hands warm while "building" the pizza, I have latex gloves to put over my thin knit gloves. Of course, standing by the oven will help keep us warm, too. The trickiest part will be keeping the pizza hot while serving it. With any luck, we'll have enough folks here to scoop up the slices as they come out of the oven, before there's time for a cool-off.

Lots of other activities are on the agenda for the day as well: skiing and snowshoeing in the fresh snow, a winter camping demo, a seminar on canoeing, and live radio and music tonight at Trail Center. WTIP will be broadcasting The Roadhouse, from 5-7 p.m. If you can't be up here, be sure to webstream it. I will be interviewed at 5:15 or so, to give listeners an overview of what Winter Tracks is all about. Just go to the website, , and click on the dancing moose, and you'll be able to webstream it.

If you can't be here for our festival, but still need a little dose of winter before it is gone, you can come up some other time in March. With fresh snow coming down to add to our eighteen or so inches still in the woods, it's going to be around for a while. I love March skiing the best, as the days are warmer and longer, and the snow is still in great shape.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Expressive hand gestures

Italian language is reach on expressive hand gestures, they are different from region to region and the most popular is this way of communication in Naples, I think. First of all, because historical origins of this language is different as in other parts of Italy. For different centuries kings of the region had roots in Catalonia, so the dialect of Naples is more easily comprehensive for Catalonians as for Italians -and the gestures dialect too.

The best example is "yes".
What do you do, when you say "yes"? Probably you bend your head forward down-up.
If you are Bulgarian, you rock it left-right.
Neapolitan click with the tongue and bend the head up-back.

Nothing terrible, if you don't understand it.

Sometimes gestures language is not so innocent as we think about it. When you plan a trip in a place that you did not visit before, you have to control the most popular and offensive gestures common for that place. To understand where they've sent you, at least.

An other popular gesture is "ok"
Something like in this photo.
Very well -if you are American or Russian
Great job -the hand moves from right to left "closing a zip" -in Italy

it has indecent sense in Brazil
offensive -you are zero -if you show it to a person in France or Germany
money -in Japan
I'll kill you -in Tunisia
Go to devil -in Siria

Do you understand? Take your hands well bended, when you travel!

Different sources. Maybe not very attendible (my opinion). Correct me, if you find errors.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Bird Rescue

When we put a new roof on the lodge in 2004, we decided to modify our side porch. As a result, our screened porch on the front of the lodge was impacted. It is no longer totally screened-in, something we intend to remedy. But like so many other projects, we just haven't gotten there yet. We've found that we love the side porch so much, for sitting and drinking our coffee, that we don't even mind being bothered by the bugs.

This situation, however, has presented an occasional challenge for birds. Our bird feeder hangs off of a rafter on the side porch. Once in a while, a bird will fly in the wrong direction when exiting the feeder, and will end up on the screen porch, in the portion of it that still has screen. Most of them can manage to find their way out. Sometimes, though, we will see a bird that is having some struggles getting itself oriented to find the exit. In that case, we will go out to assist.

When I go on the porch to help a bird, I will use my arms to direct it out. Greg prefers to help the birds even more. If needed, he will gently pick up the little ones and carry them to the side porch to release them. I think that he has carried numerous chickadees, nuthatches, and white-throated sparrows, and when he is really lucky, he'll get to help a hummingbird. He has actually held a few hummingbirds very carefully in his hands. One memorable little guy even cheeped a little thank you to Greg, as he perched for a moment longer on his hand before taking off. It was a very sweet moment.

Last week, Greg had his largest rescue ever. Although they don't visit our feeder, we do see roughed grouse, also known as partridge, eating in the birch tree on the other side of the screened porch.

Somehow, one of these larger birds got turned around and found itself stuck inside the porch. It was really having a tough time finding the exit, so Greg came to the rescue.

He picked up the bird, and stroked it gently to calm it down. They let me take a photo of them. Then Greg got ready to let the bird go. We assumed the bird would fly off, as all the rest have.
This one had a more dignified departure in mind. After Greg let it go, it flew a short ways and landed back on the side porch. It then proceeded to walk the length of the porch, and go down the steps, one hop at a time. Last we saw, it was turning the corner at the back of the lodge.

I like to think that this action made the bird feel better, sort of make up for the embarrassment of getting stuck in the first place. It made for a good chuckle for us.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

North Devon Museum

Its February half term again and time to visit another museum. I've got loads of ideas for things to do and places to go this year, but practically nothing is open until after Easter. Today was cold and grey so it called for an indoor activity (after I'd done a bit of shopping in Barnstaple of course.)

North Devon Museum is situated at the end of the old bridge in Barnstaple. A lot of the displays are the same year in, year out, but they do update things occassionally. The children liked the Tarka room with all the stuffed animals and the river exhibit. They were also fascinated by the skeleton that was found in Saunton and dates back to the mid 17th century. "How did it die?" and "How do they know its a boy?" were questions that were discussed at length. They were less impressed with the Underwater Room, which I thought quite facinating. Apparently it was scary (it was dark and made strange noises!)

We spent just under an hour looking around - entry is free - and then my youngest one took the opportunity to do a painting. There were special workshops being run in the entrance hall because it was half term - painting with mud! Yes, really; the artist who was there had harvested various local clays and mud and the children were able to paint with them, six different colours ranging from dark black to pale yellow. All the works of art will be displayed in May - so we'll have to go back then!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lovin' That Cold Weather

Here at Heston's, we are really enjoying this cold, cold weather. In fact, we have been keeping a close eye on the thermometer and weather reports, cheering on the extreme lows. This morning at six, it was near twenty below. It may have dropped a bit more by seven a.m., because it often does. But we were already gone.

For the last couple of days, Greg has been assisting in the transport of lumber for the rebuilding of the cabins on the north side of Gunflint Lake. You may remember from my blog postings in May that the Ham Lake Fire took all of our friends' cabins, on that horrible Thursday when the fire reached our lake. After considerable work and clean-up over the summer, it's time to look to the future, and the cabins that will soon go up. This is a monumental task, however, one loaded with details and steps. And cold weather is an important detail in the process.

There is now an ice road that starts at our landing, and goes about two-an-a-half miles across the lake to the property. Greg has been working to keep it open, so that the winter air can reach the ice more easily, and help to make it thicker. A month or so ago, I wrote about the insulative properties of snow, and how we use it to our advantage by banking it around the foundations of the cabins. In this case, he wanted it out of the way. It's working--when he has checked, the thickness of the ice has increased. Our fishermen are also reporting lots of ice when they drill their holes for fishing.

While Greg has been working on this, I've learned some things, too. A number of years ago, in the late winter, I could swear one day that I heard waves under the ice. It struck me as odd, and I wondered if I was hearing things. But I've since found out that there is indeed wave action occurring under the ice. When you are driving on the ice, you are pushing a wave out in front of you. The ice under the vehicle is flexing some, and that pushes the water into a wave. (I may have some of those details off a bit, but it's close.) It was good to hear that I wasn't going crazy, back all those years--that I really had likely heard waves. I've also learned that there is a great deal of information about building ice roads available on the internet, and that there is even a TV program about the ice roads in Canada. Since we don't have television, I had never heard about the show, but several folks have mentioned it to me.

So Greg has been helping to haul loads of lumber across the lake. This morning, I thought that I would ride along to town, while he and the other guys picked up their loads. It was bitterly cold and windy in Grand Marais, too--yay! We saw lots of steam rising off of Lake Superior, forming a large cloud along the horizon. When we got back up here, I skipped out on the ride across the lake......Things to do! Honest! (I'll probably ride along on that part another time.)

Here is a shot of how it looks out there:

Our regular group of fishermen was up over the weekend. They reported fair catching conditions, going home with some nice lake trout. They had one thing to note for us though: Seems that ice road goes right through some prime fishing territory. On one side of the road, it was 30' of water, and the other was about 65'. They have requested that the road be moved this summer, so that next year it won't be in the way of their fishing plans. Greg will definitely work on that.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Salerno. Italy. Medieval Monuments Always Open

This is the splendid look of Salerno this morning. (See A sunny day in Salerno too)
All the world is speaking about refuse emergency in province of Naples and nobody knows about this pearl that exists in the same region.
I sincerely adore this city. Because it's so little, beautiful and clean. Because is full of historical memories form the beginning of the time. With special point on early Middle Ages.
In the last 12 years, the period that I live here, Salerno changed greatly. From a repugnant place till this real pearl today. And these changes are not finished else.

Today I wanted to assist press conference in the municipality of the city where was presented new plan to open medieval monuments of the old town all days of the year and not only Sunday and Saturday as it was before. All these monuments (about 10 now) are open thanks to volunteers of different groups, like our Archaeological Group of Salerno.

Old town of Salerno is situated over 10 meters of history and this history begins from 197 BC. with Roman veterans that became this place as salary for 25 years of military service. It was too far from Rome, yes, but it was on the whole not so bad... And they created a block on the only way from sud to Rome.

There was created the first Medical School in Europe here, did you know it? And there were women-physicians at that time. Did you know, that the Church don't likes women only from XIII century?

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But some years ago there were not official tourist guides in Salerno else. Nobody thought about tourismus here. What do you want, there were not supermarkets and great shops some years ago.
Today, everybody understands that tourismus is the only possibility to give job to the population.
5-star hotel was finished in 2007 in the center. There are many places to sleep in the town now, too. And they think about other hotels and low cost solutions for everybody.
Tourists will have the possibilty to visit Amalfitan Coast with boats.
Finally, all the monuments will have free entrance.

After this press conference I passed some time with my friends, and because I had about half an hour till the bus, went to walk on the seafront. It was a really happy morning.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

It's a Dog-Eat-Deer World Out There

That's what I was thinking last night at about 3:15 a.m. No, it wasn't from having a bad dream. Instead, we had just been woken up by a wolf barking and yipping, not far from the lodge. On the warmer nights, we've been leaving a window open a bit, in hopes of hearing these guys. Last night, it was only the one, and I had visions of him standing over a deer that he had just taken down. He was calling to all of his relatives in the pack to come join him in the meal, but no one replied. I can still have a vivid imagination at that hour. This morning, I saw tracks from a small wolf, heading down the road to the log cabins. Could these be from our night visitor? We haven't seen any wolves lately, but they often become more active as winter progresses. Opportunities still lie ahead.

The other day, my computer wouldn't allow me to post a couple of photos, so here they are today. This is the bus all snowed under.

As I mentioned then, the bus isn't rolling very far these days. For the time being, we'll just have to be content with memories of the places that it has carried us. In the summer, a favorite trip to take the bus is merely to the end of the Trail, where we like to go picnicking. Last summer, we packed up the food, our little twin buddies and their brother, as well as other assorted friends and relatives, and took Paul up to his band practice, at Trail's End Cafe. While Paul played music, we feasted on chicken sandwiches, wonderful salads, and other goodies. The little kids played in the water at the landing and had a blast. Won't be long, and that season will be here again.

In the meantime though, thoughts are still towards this---Much more appropriate for February.

Have you been out skiing yet? It's great up this way! The snow is in good shape, and the temperatures are cooperating to keep it that way. If you are hankering for some excellent winter sports fun, you should come on up. It's the best.

Free entry to museums


Today I read about an interesting theme: free entry to museums.

Why is it so interesting, will you ask me?
Sometimes people begin to laugh, when I write or speak about free stuff.
I think in this way: why have I pay (or pay too much) what I can have for free/for less? I really don't understand it. ;(((

From other side, if you pay 16 euro every museum you want to visit (in province of Naples for example), and you have to pay the bus/train/car to reach the place/places (from 6-15 euros/one way/person) and you have to do it for several days... Than, remember all sorts of souvenirs that look at you with irresistible attraction... And you have to eat too (that means at least 10 euros/person because you will go in the first restaurant/fast food you see) you will arrive very easily to important numbers.

By the way. I know persons, that travel round the world all their life. They have not very rich look and I was surprised: how is it possible for them? One friend said me: they turn home (in Europe), work hard maybe for a year to accumulate a sum they need and than -travel and travel and travel.

Now, about the free entry.
There are different cities, where museums are free. For example all the museums in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, have free entry. There is a free museum in other Scottish city, Edinburgh (National Museum of Scotland)
Quantity of free entrance museums in England is growing from year to year.

An extra 2.7 million people have been to a museum in the first seven months of the scheme...London has seen the highest rise in visitor numbers with a 157% increase. (source BBC)

In China many biggest cities offer this possibility too ( Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou)

In Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Naples you enter some museums for free if you buy an ArtCard (maybe the name is different in different countries)

Some museums in different countries offer free ammission on some special days or hours (Admission is free for all visitors during Target Free Friday Nights -in Museum of Modern Art/NY. In Italy there are free entry 2-3 days in national museums once/twice a year.)

I'll be very glad if you add some more plases to this my list.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Finally a Chance to Ski

The bus won't be moving anytime soon. The snow keeps getting deeper around it and on top of it, a sure sign that winter is still here. And glad we are of that, because for some of us, the skiing is just beginning! On Friday, Sharlene, Addie and I got out on the trail for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day, with the temperature hanging right around ten degrees. The sun was out, and we decided to head over to Warren's Road. This is one of the easiest trails in our system, and it had been years since Shar and I had been there. Addie had never experienced it.

The snow was freshly groomed, as we encountered the groomer guy when we got started. What a delight to ski on tracks that had just been set. We glided along, quite happy to be out there. I missed skiing completely last season, thanks in part to my achilles tendon injury. One of the reasons we chose this easy trail was to see how it would respond. I'm happy to say that it did only its usual complaining when I started, and again at the end. It's almost like a squeaky wheel---once I've started, and it's juiced up a bit, my heel feels like nothing ever happened to it. Then when I am tiring, it kicks up some to remind me of its existence. I can deal with that. I think I'm ready for the Lonely Lake trail next.

That is, once the weather warms up a bit. We got nabbed by the Arctic blast cold front that moved in on Saturday afternoon. I went down to light the sauna around four p.m., and then proceeded to chop out the hole in the lake ice. Since it had just been opened the previous night, the ice was only about an inch thick. The wind made it very cold for the task, but worse than that was the snow that kept blowing into the hole. I shoveled thick slush out a few times, and it would fill right back up. It became quite plain to me that keeping it open for the next four hours (when it was needed) was going to be a real challenge.

Providence stepped in in another form, however, when the power went out around five. In this kind of weather, a power outage that lasts more than a few hours can cause some serious troubles to pipes and water systems. We had some empty cabins, so we went out and started fires in the woodstoves in those, to keep the temps above freezing. I gathered up candles and jugs of water for the fellows who were in Spruce cabin, and broke the news that I likely wasn't going to be able to keep the sauna hole open. They were fine with that, and rightly pointed out that the wind on the lake would whip the warmth right out of a body before even reaching the hole.

Between keeping the fires stoked, filling the oil lamps for light, and listening to the radio for updates---oh, and Greg had to go plow the Mile O' Pine Road---we had a busy few hours. I was preparing to spend the night at Cedar Point, since that cabin was particularly vulnerable to the punishing west wind. Greg figured that he would have to stay in Tamarack. The older cabins just aren't as well-insulated as the newer ones. It was an adventure to be outside, walking from cabin to cabin through the wind, snow and cold. Weather extreme at its best! Thanks to excellent clothing, we never felt cold.

The electricity was restored around eight, so it was a relatively short stretch. Two weeks prior, the power went out in the middle of the night. That outage lasted for about eight hours, but since most folks were still sleeping, it didn't cause much in the way of inconvenience. (Except maybe for early morning coffee drinkers!) This is just something we all take in stride up here, and we are very glad of our old-fashioned conveniences, like oil lamps, outhouses and woodstoves.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Valley of the Death in Tibet

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I passed different hours to look for the description of this valley in non-Russian Internet and did not find too much about it. To be more precise, I did not find practically anything. I wanted to have a sort of independent point of view on this place, but... I have to tell you what I could find.

If you look for "Valley of Death" or "Death Valley" in search engines, you'll find National Park in California, US ( an arid desert basin of eastern California and western Nevada)

Now I tell you about an other Death Valley, in Tibet, near the Mount Kailash (-s).

This Valley of the Death is on the North-West of the Mount Kailash, 5680 m over sea level. It's about 3 km long and finishes with a half-round wall of the glacier. 2 red great stones guard the entrance in the valley. The entrance is near the mount Titapuri. This name is translated "home of hungry spirit" and they say it can be bound with the name "Tibet".

So, what is interesting in this that seems to be a naked place?
They say, yogis go there to die, somebody tells the soil is covered with human bones there (others deny it).
Because thin energies help to reach Enlightening there, many persons wanted to visit this valley. But if somebody had an empty life, he can finish his way suddenly. You have to follow only the official path if you enter it.
They say, 4 relatively young persons come out destroyed from there a year or 2 ago, become old in little time and were dead shortly. So if you want to go there you have to be very brave.
An other story says, you can sit between those 2 "guard dogs" (red stones) and will feel something special.

These are all fables about this place. As said, I could not find neither conferms no any additional information. There wasn't even any map to add to my post. So it would be very interesting if you add something to this story.

Sources (all in Russian, but there are numerous photos ecc) if you have the possibility to translate, read it. Amazing. But there are many persons that say Muldashev invented all this. the same more or less (photo on the right is from this page) here there are many photos and maps -contrary point of view (from the first link)
2 part Kailash and kora
3 part monastery Garugem and Lama Tenzin Wandra
4 part Lhoku

Well, after a week of intense research, I present to you my findings!
I thought it was strange that an area like this in such a famous region of Tibet should be unfindable, and so I searched around on a detailed map for anything related.
It turns out, the Mount Titapuri mentioned in the article is actually Tithapuri, wich means "Village of the dead", a small town near mount Kailash famous for it's hotsprings. It's also famous for being right next door to a certain "Garuda Valley", within which lie mysterious caves which have never been fully explored. Garuda's are nothing like Hungry Ghosts, but perhaps the comparison or mistranslation could have been drawn from this description of Garudas: "It symbolizes freedom from hopes and fears, the vast mind without reference point." The free mind, without a reference point, could be alot like death. Also, Muldashev is a notorious liar (I also found), so he could have just been making it sound more romantic.
Aparrantly a large town at the time of Guge Kingdom lived in the valley, but archaeologists can't believe how this was possible as there would have been no way for them to cultivate the land and no water source. Also, the mysterious caves they supposedly lived in are carpeted with bones...
That is all the reliable sources I have found, and all the ones on Muldashev point to him being a very unreliable character. He also claimed that Atlantis, and Atlanteans, live beneath the Tibetan plateau.

I hope this has helped at all, it is everything I could find, and I even asked my lecturer who is an expert on Tibet.


Here are some sources:
Also the Lonely Planet Guide to Tibet.

I asked help by different bloggers that have blogs related to this thematic. Some of them were so kind to dedicate their precious time to look at this post and to answer me. Here I add their blogs.
Thank you, Friends!
Yak Butter Tea,
Himalman�s Weblog
Nepalese and Tibetan Arts Blog
Gesar's Footprint
Yak's Diary

Monday, 4 February 2008

The Kangaroo is an Australian Icon

Berry Sudirno from Jakarta/Indonesia, author of these interesting blogs: howtoboostyourwealth, journeytomakemoney, sweetjourneyinmylife .
You know him in my blogs from his articles Endagered Species -Orangutans, that many of you found interesting, Batu Caves Hindu's Shrines that I posted in my "Vacation and Travel Talk" some days ago and Meity and Bimo the Shar Pei. This is his new article.

Kangaroo are found in Australia continents, Tasmania and surrounding islands including Papua and New Guinea.

The Kangaroo is an Australian Icon it is featured on the Australian coat of arms, on currency and is used by many Australian�s Organization including Qantas, the National flag carrier.

A Kangaroo is a marcupial from the family Marcopodidae. The largest species from this family are the red kangaroo, the antilopine kangaroo, eastern and western grey kangaroo. On average kangaroo live in the wild has a life span between six to eight years.

Kangaroo are endemic to the continent of Australia, they are not farmed, but wild kangaroo are shot for meat, the meat has been exported to other countries including Indonesia and easily found at the freezer box at the supermarket and their skin are use for handbag, wallet, hat, wrist ban.

The Tasmanian forester kangaroo is listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.


If you are interested that I publish your article/post or your photo with MY post (I can host and retouch your photos) in one of my blogs you can write me a mail (my address you can find on the right side of the page) with very clear object (that I do not cancel your mail as spam). In change I ask you to post my blog's addresses in one of your permanent posts -like this (you can copy it):

My friend's blogs:
Animals as Friends,
Lazy Yogi,
Vacation and Travel Talk

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Sunday, 3 February 2008

Flood in S.Petersburg

This map is from the site

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St. Petersburg is a splendid city, specially if you want to visit it from June to August. I like it more in that period. If you want to be there in autumn or winter, you have to think about floods too. Because it's a part of the life of this city.

And today began the first flood of 2008. The 306-th in it's history and it's the 8-th time that the flood begins in February. Today water is 188 cm higher as normally. Highest water in February was in 1822 and arrived till 2,5 m over the normal measure. 2 times in the history the water was higher then 3 m and once it arrived till 4 m 10 cm. (

Floods take place in this area because it's very low-lying, the downtown is only some cm over sea-level. "Long waves" come from the Gulf of Finland and enter in Neva-river and than western winds block the normal flow of the water.

They spoke about a construction of a Flood Protection Barrier for some years (2002-2003) but that project was abandoned.

St Petersburg Flood Protection Barrier

Map from the site Escape Travel

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Friday, 1 February 2008

"Taspo" -personal tobacco card in Japan

After Hookah, the waterpipe I write once more about problems for smokers. If you want to go in Japan and you are a smoker, you have to know:
1/ It's forbidden to smoke in Japan till 20 years.
2/ To assure that the law is for everybody and young persons can't trick their age, the new experiment begins in Japan.

Smokers have to buy tobacco card, named "taspo", a personal passport to buy cigarettes. Now they have experimental period for this card. From 1 July you can buy your cigarettes ONLY with your tobacco card in Japan. Who will buy or sell cigarettes without it can get great penalty.

All the information you can find here

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