Friday, 27 February 2009

How My Mind Works

Yesterday I was eating lunch in the cafeteria* at work, and a thought occurred to me: If** God really is all-powerful, then right here and now, He*** could inflate my body until I exploded.

Hopefully he doesn't.

*First Digression: I was eating what they call pastel aleman,**** which I guess translates linguistically to "German pie," but culinarily, it translates into "casserole with mashed potato base, chopped hot dog, and melted cheese on top." It's pretty tasty, actually, and one of my more-liked dishes from the cafeteria.

**Second Digression: Here I don't mean to say God isn't all-powerful, though; it's more of a ponderance.

***Third Digression: I say "He" just because I needed to use some sort of pronoun to avoid the redundancy of using the word "God" twice in a sentence... maybe God isn't a "He" or a "She" or even a "G-d"; in fact, wouldn't God be above and beyond gender? One way or the other, grammatically-speaking, "God" would still fall into the category of a third-person singular noun, and you gotta put an "s" at the end of most of your verbs that you conjugate to match a third-person singular noun, people! (As I tell my students)

****Fourth Digression, a Digression from the First Digression: I sometimes confuse pastel aleman and pastor aleman, at least when I'm speaking. The latter means "German Shepherd." Believe me, people aren't nearly as friendly if you tell them you had German Shepherd for lunch.

Friday Morning at Fifteen Below...

....and no wind right now, which makes it feel quite nice out there! I rolled out of bed before sunrise, and got about fifty layers on. My first mission this morning was to go out and light the bread oven. In case I haven't mentioned it already, it's Winter Tracks time here on the trail, and we are making pizza today.

Of course, in true Heston's style, we weren't quite totally organized at 6:30 am. As I was pulling on my boots, Greg said something about the new roof on the bread oven, the incomplete chimney system, and how we probably should have shoveled it off yesterday, as the hole for the smoke to draw was completely covered. Hmmm, I was trying to process all of this without having had any coffee yet. I realized that this meant that I would be shoveling the roof before I was even starting the fire.

I'm not fond of ladders, especially when I have bulky clothes on. But when I stepped out, and the early morning light was gathering in its beautiful pastel palette, I couldn't help but feel happy. It looks like it will be a fantastic day. I went digging for the ladder, put it up against the roof, and climbed up with my shovel. Slowly I pulled snow off the roof in the vicinity of the chimney spot. Mostly I did it slowly because no matter how I tried, each scoopful would fall right down on me, not the ground. What a sight! Good thing the guests were all still sleeping, instead of watching me. I worked on it enough to get a little hole open, and thought it would be just right to let the smoke escape.

Next I got the fire started, which is a bit of a trick at this time of the year. It takes a lot of birch bark, even if the kindling and wood is very dry. Pretty soon, though, that smoke was sneaking out of the little hole on top, so I knew that it was going to work out. I paused a moment to listen to the birds, who are getting to be very vocal right now. I think they know that we are nearing the change of season, and they want to let everyone else know, too. I filled the bird feeder up for them, and saw several little puffs of redpoll, all fluffed up in a tree waiting for me to finish.

Then I noticed some ravens circling, and I could hear their conversation, too. Since I have yet to learn ravenspeak, I chose to walk down to the lake shore, in case they were talking about a deer kill on the ice, or some other interesting thing. No sign of activity down there, but plenty of fresh wolf tracks all over the place. I saw more birds in the sky downshore a bit, so I am guessing that there might be a fresh kill over near our rustic cabins.

So now since I've started this writing, it's time to go stoke that bread oven again, and try to get the temperature in those fire bricks to about 500 degrees. What a climb from fifteen below. Greg got a laser temperature reader, so we will test it out on the bread oven for the first time today. We will finally know how hot it is in the oven when we bake. But at this air temp, I don't think we will have to worry about burning anything.


Thanks to everyone who took part in the Treasure Hunt, competitors and helpers. We were fortunate in choosing a day of lovely spring sunshine and the top of Mont-St-Michel-de-Brasparts was a suitable place for the finish! Winners of the hotel mini-break were Nicky and John Bolton - congratulations to them. Shown above is Jean's team, who came second, with their hamper of Breton products. Sue and Liz kindly provided cakes (of the usual high quality) for exhausted treasure-seekers.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

It Certainly Does Sound Like A "Merry Land"

In my travels, I discovered that the state motto for Maryland is, "Fatti maschii, parole femine." According to Wikipedia (also the source of the seal picture above), that means, "Manly deeds, womanly words."

Sometimes I miss America.


As familiar as I am with Bryant Park, I never once gave thought to who it was named in honor of. William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was a poet, journalist, and an editor for the New York Evening Post. From what I have read, he was a man of many varied interests, and maintained an eclectic group of friends. His most lasting legacy may be his role in supporting the creation of Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum Of Art.
His country estate known as Cedarmere, overlooks a narrow stretch of Hempstead Harbor in Roslyn. The house serves as a museum, which has limited hours during the winter months, but the grounds are accessible year round. There are 7 acres that consist of lawns, footpaths, and a pond.
When not writing about political and civic issues, Bryant was known for his poetry that used nature as a metaphor. It does not take much stretch-of-the-imagination to think many of his words may have been written right here.

The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead
They rustle to the eddying gust,and to the rabbits tread;
The robin and the wren are flown,and from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
The Death Of The Flowers

William Cullen Bryant: Poems
Cedarmere: Photos at Old Long Island
Kindred Spirits (painting)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Scoopin' the News

Though geographically we cover a large area, this neighborhood of ours on the Gunflint Trail is really a small one that feels as close and comfortable as the kind I grew up in. We keep track of each other, and we watch out for each other. As the list of local bloggers grows, we also find that it is harder to not report twice on what is happening around us. But I've come to realize that even if our news is a little old, or it has already been written up by someone else, that's okay. My voice is different from the next person's, so my readers can get a few perspectives on what's new, what's happening, and what we are chattering about.

It's hard somethimes, though, to actually get a scoop---you know, like they do in the newspapers. I already blogged about this on the Gunflint Trail blog, so in a way I scooped myself (!!), but I am going to post it here, too.

This is the moose I saw on the Trail today, on my way home from town:

Mike Schelmeske of Grand Marais carved this guy, with an owl on the antlers. It is the first of our snow sculptures for this weekend's Winter Tracks Festival. Mike did a fantastic job! My photo doesn't do it justice. Hop on over to here for a larger view (though it is the same picture.)

Being a fiber worker, it is hard for me to imagine working in a material like snow. I can make a snowman as good as anyone else, provided the snow is nice and sticky. Mike showed me the saw he used on parts of this moose. It must be like working with wood, though much easier to cut. He told me that he once worked on a block when it was 35 below zero, and the snow squeaked like styrofoam when he cut into it. I get the shivers thinking of that sound. Yarn and fabric are so easy for me to manipulate. I like to say that I can make them do what I want them to do. I don't think it would be that easy with snow. I actually have a memory of attempting to carve something. It was when I was in grade school, and our neighborhood had a summer recreation program that included arts and crafts. We were supposed to carve a figure our of a bar of Ivory soap. Easy enough, right? You can guess what I ended up with: a pile of soap slivers!

What's even more amazing to me is that the block he started with looked like this:

Last week, Greg and Bob (from Gunflint Pines) used plywood forms to hold the snow. They used the loader to fill them, and in between bucketfuls, they had to jump on the snow to pack it down. Greg reported that it is a much harder task than he realized to jump in that stuff. But it helps to compress the snow, for a nice solid block. That Mike could see a moose in that cube is so cool.

I'm going to stick with my yarn and fabric. And I'm going to make sure that I get out this weekend and early next week to see all of the sculptures that will be springing up in the neighborhood. But as I said over on the Gunflint Trail blog, I'll have to hurry. That sun is already foretelling a hint of spring, and that makes these sculptures very temporary....But what a wonderful opportunity to see some art on the Trail.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Tours In Alaska And Denali National Park

One of my favorite dream-destinations is Alaska. I read different books and watched documentaries about this land, it's nature, it's animals. Alaska Travel is something that could donate total relax, and many experiences. There are not so many places in the world where you can use Air Taxi for your trips. It is available in Denali National Park. Railroad tours are interesting too. You can cross different landscapes in one day. Well, I don't tell you about car rental and motorcoach connections.

Travel Alaska means not only visits to national parks. There are modern cities where you can feel the spirit of the first explorers and Arctic Coastal people villages where you can learn personally their culture. If you prefere, you can make a Yukon River tour or touch Arctic Polar Circle with your hands.

Maybe you like ocean life, so you can visit the Alaska SeaLife Alaska SeaLife CenterCenter that is dedicated to the research, rehabilitation and education. The other destination of one-day tours is Exit Glacier.

But the most popular is surely Denali Park that is Alaska's crown jewel. Tere are the accomodations within the park where you can live really the nature. Expert tour operators will help you to plan your trip and will explain you what can you do there.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


I don't know why I thought this was a good idea. I think when I get old I'll be one of those old women who want to be driven out somewhere to sit and look at a view with a nice cup of tea. Cos that's what we did today. The blue skies came out and I thought, 'Oooh! Picnic!' So I stuffed some food in a box and we all headed for Exmoor. I think I forgot that it's still February.
Exmoor is lovely, even on a windy day. I love looking at all the trees with their coverings of green moss, and then reaching the wide open moorland and being able to see for miles. We drove out to Simonsbath and then turned towards Lynton on a little B road. There are lots of places to pull over and park the car. When we got out though we discovered that the ground was still wet, even though it hasn't rained for ages, and the wind was quite chilly - so we all piled back into the car and ate our sandwiches there. I insisted on leaving the doors open so we at least felt like we were eating outside.
Then followed a heated discussion on whether the coastline we could see across the water was Wales or Hartland Point. Eventually my husband had to concede defeat - it was Wales. Anyway - I can thoroughly recommend Exmoor for picnics, just don't go in February.

Clinton Town Beach

"The ocean has always been a salve to my soul....the best
thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water.
Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water
was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires
on land."
Jimmy Buffett
A Pirate Looks At Fifty; Random House, 1998

Clinton Town Beach

The Ghost Of Atlantis

The very fresh notice about the traces of Atlantis found thanks to Google Earth. Not far from Africa, 900 km-s from Canarians.

The island existed in about 9600 BC and was described by Plato.

From that time people look for it. Imagine how much could earn who will find it! All the tourists would go only there for different years. :-)))

I don't know how deep has to be the land of Atlantis, but there are different places on the Earth where you can book a boat and go in sea to "visit" antient towns that is possible to see when the weather is good and there are not waves. For example, you can do it in Pozzuoli, not far fron Naples. Unfortunatelly, I was in Pozzuoli only in winter and in spring and could not do this "tour" to tell you my experiences, but I think it has to be interesting specially if you have your photo camera. At least something different.

This time it was an error. We have to wait that somebody will be more fortunate.

Theater Of The Sea

Surfing the web today I found this photo of Minak Theater. This place has to situate not far from Saint Levan (United Kingdom). I've never heard about it before and thought it is Greece. I wanted to find other photos of this place and was surprized to see them because this one is the less "danerous" position. From other places the theater seems to be terrificant.

There are different interesting theaters today. Like that of Pompei. There are shows very often in summer there. I think it's right to use these buildings so as they were projected. It is interesting.

Now imagine to go in this theater. I would like to sit there even without any show. To listen to the waves and to look at the birds and ships... But if it's UK, there are not so many sunny days for it. I began to love more light of the sun. Maybe I say so because I'm tired to stay in home this rainy winter...

Sitzmedia: Sunday Magazine

Hi everyone! I'm back with another "Sunday Magazine" filled with the news and curiosities that I came across this week. I'm not sure if anyone is reading these, but I know that it's the kind of thing that would interest me. And, in fact, these articles did:

For a bit of international news, here's a Toronto Star article that my Canadian coworker sent to me. It's called "The Truth Is, Canada, America Isn't Into You." It's pretty interesting, and it's funny how the author claims that the U.S. doesn't like our neighbors in The Great White North because they're friendly and boring. It's almost good enough to make me stop talking crap about Canadians at work. Almost.

For our next course, check out this article from The Atlantic entitled "The Next Slum?" It caught my attention because the area in question that may become a slum is American suburbia. It's an interesting piece about how and where Americans choose to live, and why the future doesn't look too bright for suburbs. Plus it mentions Kurt Russell--twice.

If that wasn't enough and you're still looking for another long-ass Atlantic article about life in America in the current depression, check out this one entitled "How The Crash Will Reshape America." It's more in-depth, and it takes a look at different American geographical regions and considers how they'll fare in the current economic crisis. Basically, good news for Pittsburgh, and bad news for hot-as-balls places in the Southwest like Phoenix and Vegas. It's more of a strain on the eyes and brain, but if you've got an extra half-hour and an ounce of geopolitical curiosity, it's well worth your time.

Finally, if you live in the 'burbs and those last two articles left you with a gloomy sense of impending doom, check out this article called "Ned Ludd's Radiohead," which closely examines similarities between George Orwell's 1984 (a book which I'll be reviewing soon) and Radiohead's excellent album "OK Computer" (number two on my all-time top five!). The article is from a site called "Exploring Faith" of all places, but because of that fact, it appreciates the book and the album both from a secular as well as a religious viewpoint. An excerpt:

"As people of faith, we would be wise to take note of the ways in which technology, mass marketing and the lightning fast pace of our culture tend toward the deterioration of the human spirit. When approaching advances in technology and science, we ought to stop and ask ourselves what type of end these sorts of means may bring about [...] We owe a debt to the work of Radiohead, and others, for showing us that blindly embracing the age can often lead to an evisceration of the spiritual life, and for that warning, we should be grateful."

So, that's it for this week's Sunday Magazine. Hope you enjoyed something about it, and I hope that your weekend wraps up nicely!

Antique Yards Of Lviv Seen From A Height

This is a city i the West part of the Ucraine. I never was there even if I had heard manydifferent opinions about it. When I wrote the post about Cathedral of Salerno, I had a conversations with one of the users of the photo-hosting site where I host and take photos for my blogs. I told I feel that the time stops when I enter the yard of the cathedral. Seems I'm in the other times when I am there.

That user answeered me that he has this impression when he visits Lviv (Lvov). So I wanted to make a Lviv-tour looking the photos of this city on that site. And I found some very special photos. The old town seen from a height.

These yards are typical for all Europe, I think. I've seen them in Lithuania, in Italy. They are nice to visit but not to live. Because the persons that live on the first floors never see sun, the yards are wet. I think, the flats are wet too. But it's interesting how the persons use every meter they have. Look at this first photo. Not only that "tube-yard", but there is a terrace too. And the second photo with the pictures on the roofs...

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Plugged: Droppin' Drops And Poppin' Pills In Coast Tasty

A random sampling of free, state-provided meds that I found in our house

For about a week, I�d been hearing an echo in my right ear, so on Thursday I went to the nurse at my work. The nurse used one of those little lights to look inside my ear and told me that I had a plug of wax in there. Actually, she said I had a �tap�n de cera� which, due to my plugged ear, sounded like �wax tampon�; not to sound gynophobic,* but that�s a pretty disgusting thought, frankly.

Fortunately, the nurse immediately gave me some drops to dissolve the wax. I know that I do a lot of complaining in this blog, but one thing that�s pretty great about this country is the free drugs. I didn�t have to pay for the ear medicine, and I also didn�t have to pay for any of the other drugs that the nurse has given me in the past. I occasionally go into the �Medical Services� office and simply tell them what�s bothering me, and I walk out about two minutes later with assorted free medications. On different occasions they�ve treated my congestion, my cough, my post-cafeteria gas, my post-cafeteria upset stomach, my headache, my sore throat, and now my plugged ear, and every time I�ve gone it�s been free.

I do know that the country�s socialized medical care system is far from perfect, though. The state clinic in Berl�n is only open one morning a week, and due to draconian practices and idiotic restrictions, people line up for hours to get a place in line. But if/when the people are attended to, it�s all still free. I�m just lucky that I can pass by the nurse�s office on my way from my desk to the cafeteria (or, as is more often the case, on my way from the cafeteria to my desk).

All of this is to begin a gradual series of things about Costa Rica that drive me nuts, but which also have a great, positive side. Or vice-versa. As I said, the healthcare system here is nice because it gives me drugs like pseudoephedrine for free, and all I have to do is ask for it; to get the same medication in the US, depending on the state, it may be displayed behind a drugstore counter like some boxed porn, I�d have to show identification, and I�d be limited to two boxes� and all of that would be before I paid 5 or 10 dollars for the simple, generic version. (Although I guess we�ll have to see how long it takes before Costa Ricans follow American Midwesterners� example and blow up their garages and toolsheds when their shoddily-built meth labs start exploding.)

Another piece of anecdotal evidence of a healthcare system that deals with patients by treating them instead of avoiding them: about a year ago my brother-in-law�s wife had some sort of stone removed from her; I can�t remember if it was bladder or gall or what. In any case, the consultations, the surgery, and the hospital stays were all free.

On the other hand, you can occasionally find newspaper articles about patients trying to see a specialist, and then being given an appointment in 2012. Or patients chaining themselves to the main public hospital in San Jose to demand an appointment with a neurologist. Or citizens in areas away from the capital protesting to get a doctor stationed in their city.

So like I said, the system here definitely isn�t perfect, but as long as my ailments can be cured with the administration of a 10-pill blister pack of some random medication instead of through major invasive surgery, I should be sitting pretty down here for some time to come.

*If "gynophobic" is a word

Friday, 20 February 2009

Three Pictures

For your Friday pleasure, here are three pictures I'd meant to put up before, but never had the chance to:

Here Angela and I are in the mountains over the coast of Puntarenas. We went to a botanical garden with my friend Mike's parents Janis and Steve Stroh, who visited Costa Rica in January with their friends Judy and Steve. It was very nice to hang out with them a bit, and they even got to see our nearly-completed house. Not only were they some of our first houseguests, but they were also the first guests who we forgot to ask to sign our guestbook! This picture is taken by Steve Stroh.

This tree was in the botanical gardens, also. You can see them throughout the country, and I always love the way the branches fan out.

Finally, back to Colorado... I believe our friend Aaron McGrew took this picture. In any case, it's a simulation of what I would look like with an awful combover. Sometimes--but only very rarely--I'm pretty glad to have my hair the way it is now. When I look at this picture, it's one of those times.

Anyhow, have a good weekend, and I'll try to keep the frequent blog updates coming (But don't let that prevent you from having a good weekend!)

Your Vacation In Nicaragua

Today, when you are ready to plan your vacation, I want to suggest you a new destination you have not been else. Nicaragua. You can visit Granada, the 3-d city of the country and pass romantic days booking a room in Granada Nicaragua Vacation Rental, where you can live in the antique buildin in the historic center. Small internal gardens and very beautiful pool will donate you relax after your walks and visits of sightseeings in the city.

If you prefere swimming and surf, you will find incredible beaches and waves in in San Juan Del Sur. It's a little village that is situated not too far from the most important centers but here you can enjoy relaxing calm. Book your room in San Juan del Sur Hotel that is situated only some steps from the beach. The hotel has only some very beautiful rooms and has all necessary modern facilities.

Oh, I understand, your dream is to have a property on the splendid beaches like California beach. Nothing easier. The Pacific beaches of Nicaragua are not less beautiful. Nicaragua real estate offers you want you are dreaming about. You can own not only beachfront property but land or other solutions too. This is the most intelligent investment today. Visiting the site you will find many important information about this countrie and the possibilities it offers to you.

Carnival, Italy

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24 of February is the day of the carnival here. They said it was opened in Venezia last Sunday, I think. There are not that big feasts as in North of Italy here. It is mostly for children. Even if you can see somebody wearing a costume in the street.

I remember, when I went to my friends as a tourist, there were different feasts "of a village" similar to carnival all the summer there. Residents of villages attracted tourists and visitors with these feasts and sold them everything they could. You could participate in a show, eat something made by the women of the village. One weekend it was in one village, other weekend in an other.

Storically the carnivals were organized to relieve tensions that the poor people had accumulated during the year because the life was too hard. In winter they had nothing to do and became aggressive. So the owners organized battles like orange-battle and similar. These usages exist in many cultures. In Italy, the carnival-time could continue even till 6 months.

Rea more in my post Carnival in Italy from Jan. 6, 2008

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Tugurio-Perro Millionario

The following images are pictures that I took of a newspaper advertisement for a new Costa Rican version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" It looks pretty impressive and professional, right, with... holy crap! Does that say TWENTY-FIVE Million?

Indeed it does, my impoverished friend.

Twenty-Five Million!

Twenty-Five (25) Million!


Um, twenty-five million Costa Rican colones.

Oh. Colones? Soooo... how much is that in real money?

Well, according to the currency conversion site XE, that comes to a nice, tidy $44,558.51. Or if you're Eurotrash, 35,481.06 Euros.

Wow, I know we're in a world-wide depression and all, but are things really that bad?

In any case, at these prices, there's probably a pretty good chance that contestants will keep pressing their luck, since the mid-level stakes are worth about as much as a used Hyundai Elantra. I'd watch myself to find out, but we don't actually get that particular network channel in the boondocks (We only really get channels 11, 4, and sometimes 2). Still, I'm sure that one of these unenthused-looking contestants will walk home a millionaire in some currency, even if it's Turkish Lira, Zimbabwean Dollars, or--if they're lucky--Costa Rican Colones.

Working on Winter Tracks

Seems there is always something to fill the days, when you own your own business. Lately, my attention has been directed towards the upcoming festival, Winter Tracks. I am the registrar of the committee, and as we near the big event, other jobs come along to build in to my days.

Heston's will be a busy spot for the festival. On Thursday, I am hosting a sock knitting meet-up. I tried this last year, mainly because we wanted to add some indoor events to our line-up of outdoor activities. Sadly, no one was able to join me. And without other knitters here, I didn't get to knit! But I am trying it again this year, and I already know of one person who is game to come. Even if you don't knit socks, come on along and join us!

On Friday, we will again be firing up the bread oven to bake pizza, from one to three in the afternoon. This will be our third year of hot pizza slices on a winter afternoon. Doesn't that sound tasty? I have a wonderful memory of skiing in the mountains of New Mexico, some twenty-eight years ago....when we got off the chairlift at the top, I could smell bratwurst and polish sausage being grilled outside. Of course, we had to go have one! Why not make your own memory, with pizza and cross-country skis at our place?

Saturday morning, we will be hosting a snow sculpture competition on the lake in front of the lodge. Now this is one activity that I am really looking forward to watching. Again a memory from years ago involves a snow sculpture festival that the Art Colony sponsored on the Gunflint Trail, back in the early 90's. Watching the sculptors work was amazing. They started with a drawing of their concept, and soon I could see it emerging from the block of snow. How do they do that? At one point they asked if they could borrow a spatula to do some finishing work on one spot, and I noticed the variety of tools they were employing....shovels, scoops, spades, spoons (funny, they all begin with "s"). If you are interested in carving, then by all means, plan to come on over.

The list of activities at all of the resorts is a long one. Check it out on the website, and make some plans to come up to the Trail the weekend of February 26-March 1. It's a great way to have some winter fun!

Churches To Visit: Cathedral Of Salerno

Many tourists that come in Salerno want to visit the Cathedral. There is the grave of St. Matthew in the crypt there. Not many of them know about the history of this church and not many christians recognize the holy symbols that they meet there.

The curch was consecrated in 1086 and was built to make Normanns, new governors of the town, more acceptable for the residents. To "consecrate" new authorities were suddenly found the lost tomb and remains of St. Matthew.

After a bombing during the WWII the original normann church was discovered under the barocco-cover of the cathedral and bell tower, and you can see this very interesting architectural style today.

Cathedral is only some hundreds meters far from the main street. It's a place where I have to pass everytime I go to take keys of our museum and where I love to pass everytime, too.

Treasure Hunt

We have a Treasure Hunt next Wednesday (25th), starting from Plouy� at 10.30am. Clues to be solved, information to be found and lots of interesting places to see. Finish 3-3.30pm, prizes at 4pm. Bring a map! More details on the website
Members and non-members welcome to enter.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

RIP, Laika Loca

Yesterday a motorcyclist killed my parent-in-laws' German Shepherd Laika. I figured that I'd mention it here since she was a good dog. I would put up a picture of her, but unfortunately, I don't even have one.

Named after the first dog in space, the Costa Rican Laika (That seems to be how it's spelled here...I've only seen Angela write it one time) was not really a pioneer like her namesake, but I still liked her. I liked her because she apparently had a reputation for attacking and biting men (including one of Angela's ex-boyfriends), but she always liked me. In fact, she liked all Americans, which Angela's family thought was interesting. I think it was maybe just the way Americans approached her, though. Costa Ricans generally would freak out to see a big dog like Laika barking and running toward them, but Americans--like my mom, for example--would just say, "Aww, good dog!" in that baby-teasing voice. I personally preferred to say, "Awwww, Laika Loca!" At that remark, Laika's bark would turn to a sort of purring whine, and you could then pet her. Well, you could pet her if you wanted to. She was pretty incontinent in the years I knew her, and her back half was usually damp and matted down in muddy urine.

In any case, she was a good dog, and the other reason that I liked her is because she had a reputation for killing snakes. I'm sure that there are other dogs than can or could do this, but I've not seen them (And if YOU see one, send it my way). Although Laika had not killed a snake in years, it still gave me a bit of comfort to think that she lived in the same town as me.

I'm not too sure about the details of what happened yesterday, but apparently the motorcyclist was taken to the hospital for scratches and bruises, and had even considered trying to get some money from my in-laws to pay for his bike's damages. Fortunately, it looks like that idea probably won't pan out, possibly because the guy was surely yet another shitkicker blazing his way to the motocross track in Llano Brenes, the next town just down the road. Seriously, Laika was pretty sick and could hardly move in her last days, and anyone going at a reasonable speed--or even a moderately unreasonable speed--could have easily avoided her. But at least the guy is OK, and he suffered mainly scratches...and a bruised conscience, hopefully.

So, Laika Loca, this email is for you. Say hi to Prisca, Jenny, and Pussypie (if they've desegregated dog and cat heavens).

We'll miss you.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Churches To Visit: Made From Human Bones

Churches are different. Some of them are beautiful like those I wrote some time ago about. Others you would never see -many modern churches are so. This time I found photos of one too much spectacular church. I heard about it different times. And even said I wanted to visit it when my friend called me to come to visit her. It is not too far from Prague, I think. It is made from the bones of the persons dead during a Plague in Middle Ages. I new this story but I did not imagin that everything is made from bones in this church. Look at these photos.

Kutna Hora, Bohemia, Czech Republic

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Monday, 16 February 2009

Scraping By

I won't write much today because I'm kinda tired and I need to get home to do some crap I neglected over the weekend. I neglected said crap because Angela and I were busy cleaning the new house yesterday in preparation to (hopefully) move in (soon) (within the next month or two).

In any case, the windows were especially filthy. I spent six hours (and I'm not bullshitting or exaggerating here) cleaning them, and I only got about two-thirds cleaned. I used a mix of Windex and water, plus a squeege and an old sock for the cleaning. Then for the fine details, I used a little razor blade to scrape off the little speckles of paint and primer on the inside and out. You can bet your ass we'll be putting up newspaper when we finish painting the outside. That was like spending hours shaving a gigantic, glass cheek. In other words, not so cool, and now my arms hurt.

Now let's go to Ryan with weather:

Ryan: Well, Ryan, it's a beautiful day outside, and there's no way I'm wasting any more of it in a smelly internet cafe. (Takes off microphone and leaves studio, walking out the doorway filled with light)

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Marwood Hill Gardens

This is a privately owned garden open to the public most of the year. It's in the village of Marwood just outside of Barnstaple following a windy country lane that takes you right up into the surrounding hills and offers a fantastic view of the town. Children under 12 are free and adult admission costs �4.50.

We've never been before but saw a piece in the North Devon Journal that said it was designated snowdrop Sunday today so we went out to see the snowdrops. They were beautiful, as was the rest of the 20 acre garden. This didn't stop my littlest one moaning when we had to walk up a steep hill and then decided to walk back the circular route rather than the way we came. Still the promise of a drink in the Tea rooms soon brought her out of that. Unfortuntely the Tea rooms had no chocolate, and whilst I could console myself with a large slice of bakewell tart, the children chose to put up with just a drink.

After this it was off for a wander round another one of the three lakes to see some more snowdrops, and then we headed for home. It was a lovely garden, and I couldn't help wondering how beautiful it must have looked in the snow.

(For photos of Barnstaple in the snow follow the link to North Devon Photo Journal opposite.)

Sitzmedia: Sunday Magazine

Hi Everyone,

Well, I'm not sure if this can really be considered a "Sitzmedia" thing, but I recently came across a couple of articles that I thought you readers might enjoy. Just as if you were going to read a "Sunay Magazine" insert in a big-ass Sunday newspaper, I envision my North American readers curling up on the couch with a laptop and a cup of coffee, avoiding the cold, harsh weather outside.

I envision my rural Costa Rican readers curling up with a can of Fanta while sitting on an adjustable chair at an internet caf�, surrounded by little brats yelling and playing Halo online. But you don't really know what you're missing anyhow, since the newspaper doesn't even deliver this far out.

Yep, nice and cozy.
In any case, here are the articles (just click on the links):

Let my people go!

Rats, just one day too late for Valentine's Day!

Dustin sent me this ungodly site (I better tell you now it's about nude gardening and not suitable for work)

And finally, some enlightening news from the medical field!

So, hope you enjoy the articles!

Sunday Hugs,

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Iona College Women's Rowing Team

Iona College Women's Rowing Team, Glen Island, October 2008
Iona Gaels: Website
Glen Island Park

Best Prices In Best Hotels In Spain

If you have to visit Spain visit a new Hotelsespanol website where you can find last minute deals and very interesting pre booked discounts even for the best hotels in the country.

Being one of the most known cities of Spain, Barcelona offers to a tourist not only many sightseeings. Gotic and modern buildings like L'Eixample, traditional feasts and museums, meals in the typical restaurants and even football matches attract tourist. Barcelona Hoteles
Hotelsespanol can offer you the best solutions in any district of the city.

Las Ramblas is a very populated part of the city. Because here are different markets. Storically these markets were dedicated to only one type of goods. So in the La Rambla dels Ocells you could buy only birds. La Rambla de les Flors was a place where you could buy only flowers. Today you can buy anything in this markets. If you are in Barcelona to visit these part of the city, you have to book in Las Ramblas Hoteles.

Any place you want to visit in Spain, you have to visit Madrid, the gateway of this country. It is known for artistic and cultural events. But many persons come here to partecipate on the very lively and particular nightlife of this city. To book Madrid Hoteles Hotelsespanol offers you great discounts.

Nerdy Valentine's Day Article

As many of you may know, I'm a bit fan of, an online magazine. They have an interesting and funny article about the meaning (literally) of love. Check it out here.

Happy Valentine's Day and all that!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Batten Down The Hatches (Or Whatever), 'Cause Here Comes Cap'n Scuzzbeard!

The other day at lunch, four of us were sitting around and my coworker Robby commented that Gilette could make a killing off of us.

I suppose I have let myself go just a bit. And I noticed a couple of grey hairs in the midst of all that scraggle on my face. With my bald head, isn't that basically just adding insult to indignity?

Throw me a bone here, God.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Sitzmedia: "The Catcher In The Rye," Part 2

As I indicated yesterday, here's a second quote from "The Catcher in the Rye." The excerpt from yesterday definitely illustrates the narrator's style and outlook, but the one today gets at the crux of the matter, and hits at what the main conflict in the story is. The monologue is spoken by Mr. Antolini, Holden's former teacher. He's giving his perspective of Holden's situation. It's good stuff:

�'All right. Listen to me a minute now�I may not word this as memorably as I�d like to, but I�ll write you a letter about it in a day or two. Then you can get it all straight. But listen now, anyway.� He started concentrating again. Then he said, �This fall I think you�re riding for�it�s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn�t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement�s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn�t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn�t supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started. You follow me?��

Tro Breiz

Brittany Walks association has a new project for 2009. Members, plus friends, are going to walk the 600kms of the Tro Breiz around Brittany. This famous journey, popular in the Middle Ages and revived in recent years, connects the seven cathedrals of the seven founding saints: St-Pol, St-Tugdual (Treguier) St-Brieuc, St-Malo, St-Samson (Dol), St-Patern (Vannes) and St-Corentin (Quimper). Each little group will walk their own chosen section of the route and contribute the fruits of their travels to a joint ongoing blog and a potential future publication. If anyone is interested in getting involved with this, please contact us on with Tro Breiz in the subject line.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sitzmedia: "The Catcher In The Rye"

So last weekend I re-read "The Catcher in the Rye." I think it had been about 10 years since I'd read it, and I was surprised how much I liked it. I guess I was surprised because at the root of it, it's basically about nothing. I guess it was a trailblazer for "Seinfeld."

In any case, if you've not read it, it's a novel written as a first-person narrative. The protagonist is Holden Caulfield, and he's essentially a high school flunk-out that boozes, chain-smokes, and has a pretty pissy view of basically everything and everyone around him. In short, it's hilarious. In any case, I picked out a few passages that I liked. I'll put up one today and one tomorrow.

I'm assuming many of you have read it, so feel free to comment on it. I've noticed, though, that the books I mention don't get nearly as many comments as the movies I mention. Who knows why.

Maybe there's a movie version of "The Catcher in the Rye."

In any case, here's my first favorite quote, from p.99-100 (and yes, it's all one paragraph in the book, so sorry about the formatting; blame J.D. Salinger):

�Finally, though, I got undressed and got in bed. I felt like praying or something, when I was in bed, but I couldn�t do it. I can�t always pray when I feel like it. In the first place, I�m sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don�t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, there were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard. I used to get in quite a few arguments about it, when I was at Whooton School, with this boy that lived down the corridor, Arthur Childs. Old Childs was a Quaker and all, and he read the Bible all the time. He was a very nice kid, and I liked him, but I could never see eye to eye with him on a lot of stuff in the Bible, especially the Disciples. He kept telling me that if I didn�t like the Disciples, then I didn�t like Jesus and all. He said that because Jesus picked the Disciples, you were supposed to like them. I said I knew He picked them, but that He picked them at random. I said He didn�t have time to go around analyzing everybody. I said I wasn�t blaming Jesus or anything. It wasn�t His fault that He didn�t have any time. I remember I asked old Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That�s exactly where I disagreed with him. I said I�d bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks. I think any one of the Disciples would�ve sent him to Hell and all�and fast, too�but I�ll bet anything Jesus didn�t do it."

The Taste of Trout

Tonight we are having fresh lake trout for dinner, which happens to be one of our favorite meals. We were fortunate to be given a beautiful fish by our neighbor Dick. He knows that we don't get out fishing much, and he had one to share. Just seeing that fish reminded me of this photo:

Paul caught this one in June of last year. It topped the scales just above seven pounds. He'd gone out with his buddies after work that evening, and while they had hoped to catch fish, I don't think that they actually planned on it. Landing this in the boat was quite a feat, considering that we don't have real up-to-date equipment. Even better was grilling it and eating it for dinner.

This winter, the fishermen are continuing to report good catching. Some folks fish right off of our point, easily within walking distance of our cabins. Others take snowmobiles and head east on Gunflint Lake, down near the palisades and the islands. Most reports are of fish ranging from two to five pounds--good eating size, I say.

Tonight, we may have to fire up the grill to cook this one. It's warm again today, and the smell of the grill might be just the ticket to chase away the grey day, with warm thoughts of summer.

Visiting Amalfitan Coast

Many persons dream to visit the coast of Amalfi. Those are spectacular rocks and little bays where on the stringes of earth some meters per some meters crowd together not more than hundred houses and people live. Every bay is a village. The biggest is Amalfi, others are Minori and Maiori and some else.

The only thing that can grow on that rocks are lemons. They are special, they say, and Amalfitans produce a sort of liqueur Lemoncello. I had even a receipe of this liqueur, have to look for it.

You can visit this part of coast with a car or with a bus. It's interesting to drive the mountain road -eng and in some places not very good. Specially if rains. We went there some times but my husband does not like it, I don't know why.

Once we decided to go in Sorrento (from the other side of these mountains if you look in the depth of the photo) for one feast. It rained that day and we thought nobody will go there with this weather. But we were wrong. All the population of Naples was -as always- on the road to Sorrento. And it is the only road there -you are obligued to follow it. Those some km-s (about 10 or less, I think) we made in 6 or 7 hours. At midnight we reached finally Sorrento and the only thing we wanted was to turn home.

And the only free way was to cross these mountains using the cross-way that finishes not far from our zone. The other way is along these mountains and it was completely blocked that day.

The cross way is not less spectacular as the coast way and surely is made not better. My husband drived very-very slowly and we saw about 10 cars finished off the road but not under the mountain fortunatelly.

After that feast I never could convince my husand to visit the Coast. :-)))


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Random Thoughts for a Tuesday

--If I didn't know better, the smells outside right now make it seem like spring. That's what rain will do.

--Fortunately, we have enough snow on the ground that it is holding up despite the rain. I had to shovel today to keep some entryways clear.

--Hopefully the weather forecast will come true, and we will have some fresh snow to mix in with the older snow.

--I'm not ready for spring!

--Robert left two weeks ago, and is currently in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. He is handling for a friend who is running the Yukon Quest Dogsled Race. He sent us a couple of links to keep up with the happenings of the race: and .

--Greg made more beer today. He's stocking up for summer.

--I sewed some shirts for prizes for the upcoming Winter Tracks Festival. Check out the website for more information.

Sitzmedia: "Benny and Joon"

Last night we watched "Benny and Joon." I was sort of pessimistic because I thought that I had hated it. But I realized that I'd not even seen it, and that I had gotten it confused with "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" That movie sucked, and I think it's the reason I don't like Leonardo DiCaprio, and why I was very hesitant vis-a-vis Johnny Depp for many years.

"Benny and Joon" was good, though.

Apart from a hail shower during our cake break, our large group enjoyed good weather for a very pleasant walk along the Nantes-Brest canal and through the forest to the Rigole d'Hilvern, an equally tranquil water channel. Considering recent weather we were incredibly lucky, and it was good for the morale to get outside in beautiful surroundings. Thanks to everyone who came along, old (in the sense of long-established ;-)) and new friends for Brittany Walks.