Thursday, 30 September 2010

Look for a Tree when you Travel

What are you looking for when you travel? Palaces? Streets? Artworks? You make an error. You have to look for big trees to understand the very soul of the residents, of the people, of the country you visit.

It is interesting that after 2000 years of monotheism, after entire lives of atheistic education etc, we all remain pagans in that place of our souls where there are our roots. Tender relations with the big trees come from there.

Our ancestors believed that deities lived in the trees. Trees themselves were images of human virtues and negativities. It's clear that the conditions of the life were criterions for the choise of the tree -there were not palms in northen catolic countries, for example, and we use firtrees to replace them.

Central- and north-European populations thought the main forces populated crowns of the oaks. Those were King-trees. So, that mani royalities had oaks in their gardens. And the ribellious, when they wanted to hit their governors, kept going at their trees even in the modern times.

In the Middle Ages, the agressors took care to go in the most important for the country places like churches etc where, strangely enough, grew the big trees, to annihilate those trees.

Oak was center of the Universe, Ideal world, world itself.

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If the oak was personification of the power, manhood, strength, Pines were a kind of antenna, axis, connecting this world with that celestial. A symbol of ethernity (evergreen) and longevity. Pines were used for funeral fire.

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I omit other trees like birch, symbol of youth, spring and verginity, for not too mach place in a post, to pass to a personification of the bad (not negative) forces. Even for pagans "black and white" were only sides of entire fenomenon. Aspen. This tree's sawn end becomes blue and it signify death. And the deity of the death lived in the crown of this tree. That is why it was forbidden to hide under it. But it protected from evils of all kinds. Included insects (fen-cricket) that could destroy the gardens (making a fence from asp around it).

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Far from us cultures had similar behaviour. I did not find information about the deestruction of the trees of the enemies, maybe my friends from Asia coul help me with their tales. For Muslim, planting mulberry tree or plane tree was very appreciated by Allah action.

So, if you visit an other country, look what trees are venerated by the population to understand their soul.

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Monday, 27 September 2010

Find out - have fun

Details of the three autumn study days How to Read a Breton Church, Understanding Brittany and Britons in Brittany are now on our website, with discount for early booking.

Extremes lll

Big and Small

Old and New

Wood and Plastic

Expensive and Affordable

Underway and Idle

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Pictures of the Day, September 24 and 25, 2010

Here are the Pictures of the Day from yesterday and the day before:

September 24th: These are two of our nieces, Guadalupe and Veronica. They're in the 11th grade, so it's their final year of school, and the school year's wrapping up for them soon.

So, most schools have a tradition where the 11th graders wear costumes and go on a parade. Lupe (blue dress) was the tooth fairy and Vero was Cupid. They're both very lovely and beautiful and everything, but it was also pretty funny to see them both in diva form getting ready.

My sister-in-law Antonieta called us early in the morning (OK, not THAT early, since it was only about 8 am, but we definitely weren't up yet) to ask us if we wanted to see them in their costumes. Well, seldom does a Picture of the Day opportunity present itself before I've even gotten out of bed, so we simply HAD to go over.

Thanks to both lovely nieces for letting me take their picture!

As the fairies left, our dog-in-law Bon Jovi watched them go.

September 25th: We went to Angela's folks' house for dinner. These are some butterfly magnets on their refrigerator.

Thanks for checking out the pictures... have a great day!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Barnstaple Treasure Trail

My friends daughter was given a Barnstaple Treasure Trail for her birthday. It is set up like a murder mystery - Simon Snodshaw, a local cidermaker, was found floating in a vat of prize scrumpy, police have revealed he was murdered before being thrown in there - and you have to follow the clues given to reveal the murderer. The booklet contains a list of suspects and murder weapons and the aforementioned clues.

We started the trail in the Square outside the Tourist Information Centre. The children ran enthusiastically to the first clue. It was quite easy to unravel the clue and eliminate our first suspected weapon. We then rushed eagerly from place to place around Barnstaple, along the river front, into the High Street, until we came to the church square shown above. Here the clues are slightly more tricky to find and a small falling out ensued. Nevertheless, we grown ups continued, and soon we were racing over to Roack Park for some of the final clues.

This all took us about 2 hours to complete, at a leisurely stroll, with stops for snacks and take away hot chocolates built in. I think these are a great idea and ideal for getting kids to notice more about their locality. I suspect we will do a few more. Look on their website, there are loads for areas all over Britain, some are walking ones, others can be done with a car. When you discover the murderer you can email the answer to them for a chance of winning a prize.

Cedar Point, East Hampton

There are thin slices in the year when everything seems to come together. The winds pick up, the skies are clear, the crowds disappear, and the world is yours. It's as if someone left you the keys to paradise since they won't be needing it any longer. It's a time of year I feel most comfortable in and around Long Island Sound. A moment in time when even a place like East Hampton becomes my long-lost hometown.
If I were a film director, I might very well have situated a coming of age movie in Sag Harbor and Shelter Island Sound. I spent many summers here working aboard a 53' Hatteras and calling these waters my own Along with Norwalk in my high school years, it is where everything, good or bad seemed to happen to me between ages 18 and 24.
But time rolls over everything, and I no longer have the attachments I once had to Sag Harbor. The docks in town are terribly expensive, and much of the atmosphere has changed too. The little bar I used to visit is now an upscale restaurant with a name I can't pronounce. The bookstore is gone; so too is the hardware store ; and few seem to remember any of the names of  people I once knew here.  

While the towns have changed, the waters never do!

Just east of Shelter Island and northeast of Sag Harbor is an anchorage I refer to as Cedar Point. Cruising guides rarely  mention it, and when they do, it is just a line or two. The charts call it Northwest Harbor, but I have yet to meet someone who uses this name. While never crowded, the anchorage can be uncomfortable in the summer months from the wash of passing mega-yachts circumventing Shelter Island.  When the late summer winds are not too strong however, from the south or west,  it becomes an ideal location for a night on the hook.
The surrounding land is part of Suffolk County's 600 acre Cedar Point Park. Much like Napatree Point, it is a narrow sand spit dividing the calmer waters on one side from the more exposed. And just like Napatree, the land here was altered by the Hurricane of 1938. Prior to that storm, the 1860 lighthouse and western half of the point had been an island.
Rowing ashore, we had the beach all to ourselves. While the south shoreline was hot and windless, the northern side had enough breeze to remind us that these warm days were numbered. We managed to walk a good portion of the peninsula, catching the view of a fishing boat passing  every now and then.. By late afternoon, with the sun already low in the sky, we were back aboard for an early dinner.
The shorter days make it seem much later aboard than it actually is. It's as if I enter a different time-zone and need to set my watch forward, the moment I cast the lines. There was no activity on the water and only a few stray lights could be seen in the distance. Surrounded by darkness and silence, along with the warmth of an extra blanket, I was asleep before 9 p.m..
Why is it that a 50 degree September morning feels colder than 30 degrees in January? It is one of the mysteries of the world to me. It was not yet dawn when I awoke, but I had no desire to climb out of my bunk to check the time. After unsuccessfully trying to sleep a bit more, I soon noticed the skies through the cabin portholes, slowly changing from black to pale. In no good humor, I abandoned my bunk and faced the chill of early day.
I lit the stove and  lingered alongside it, embracing the traces of heat while the coffee brewed. The wind was calm, with just the sound of water slapping lightly against the hull. Sliding back the companionway hatch, I was greeted by the sunrise of another spectacular day. I climbed on deck, easily reminded of why I loved it here so much. It was good to be back.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Pictures of the Day, September 13-23, 2010

Hi Everyone! It's been raining like mad here, and I've been spending a lot of time on and in the roof. I've still taken the Pictures of the Day, but I didn't have time to post them... until now!

September 13th: Our cat Chubby has been systematically destroying these slippers that Angela has. He'll regularly attack them and try to drag them off to the garage. He mainly goes for the eyes, the little creep.

Also, the other day he actually got into Angela's purse and took out her wallet with his mouth. What's going on with our sweet little cat?

September 14th: My coworker Marcia's shoes. I know that I also took a picture of Monica's shoes earlier, but it's not because I have a foot fetish. It's just because my coworkers wear shoes that looks like leopard skins or whipped cream. When you've got 365 pictures to take, then they seem like a good subject!

September 14th: This is a horse trailer that I saw in Palmares, and although I'll say it's "Picture of the Day," I didn't put it up on the SeeVida group because of the breasts. But still, it's a pretty funny picture. Nothing says "I'm classy" like airbrushing a naked woman with big boobs onto your horse trailer, and then parking it on your lawn in downtown Palmares.

September 15th: It was Independence Day, so we had a barbecue.

September 16th: Cows are cool. I took a walk around Berlin and came across a couple of them.

September 17th: Remember Childcraft? They have a set of those books at the lending library at work.

September 18th: A butterfly on the bathroom wall at the school where I teach. It's weird having a camera in the bathroom... it's like that episode of Fraser where they were weirded out by food in the bathroom.

September 19th: Even though they're stainless steel scissors ("Rostfrei"!), they still got rusty. Costa Rica will blow your mind and break your heart.

September 20th: This is the first part in my "I Hate Tin Roofs" series. This bucket and mug were catching the stream of water dripping into my office.

September 21st: The next picture in my "I Hate Tin Roofs" series. This is a sort of polyurethane sealant. I basically tried to cover as much of our house as possible with this crap.

September 22nd: Some nice clouds on the way to my Wednesday class in Guanacaste.

September 23rd: Next in the "I Hate Tin Roofs" series. I had to put all the crap in my office into big plastic bags since water was coming down the walls and also streaming from the middle of the ceiling. Ugh.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Paris -panoramic photo

We have many fantasies about the world we can't reach. From our school years we know about the legendary cities, empires, events and rithuals that every good educated person has to visit, to see, to partecipate. The life passes and we are still here. We have not seen Paris, we have not drink beer during the Octoberfest in M�nchen, we did not climb Everest neither Mont Blanc... It's sad if we think about it from one side. Than, from other point of view, could you imagine that ALL those "good educated" persons climb Everest? What a mess would it be... Poor Everest. It's so good that not all those who dream about it could climb it...

When I begin to think about this unjustice of my destiny, I remember always my favourite German song that tells: my fiancee that's name is Marianne, wants to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but I can't accept it because there is not beer there. Here is a nice video with the song. By the way, do you "dance" like Germans when you sing? I like it very much!

If you still want to visit Paris but have not this possibility, here is a nice panoramic photo of this city with splendid song accompaining it:
Paris, panoramic photo

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Sunshine, Scenery & Sybil's Hospitality

It was hot & beautifuly sunny for our walk yesterday. Starting from the chapel at Locmaria-Berrien, we enjoyed a stunningly scenic walk which included a reasonable amount of wooded areas providing us with adequate shade.
Sybil, a regular walker with Brittany Walks, lives near to the route that we were walking & very kindly invited us all to tea, cold drinks & home made cakes provided, with Sue's help, in her lovely garden. This very welcome break came just after an uphill part of the walk, & with only 2 kilometres left to go. Impeccable timing!
It's always a joy to walk & chat with the many friends whom I've met through Brittany Walks, & yesterday we were happy to welcome some new friends who share our pleasure in walking through the stunning Breton countryside in good company.
Many thanks to Dave for the great photos!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Visit of a Virtual Museum

Virtual entertainment is very popular now. That is why you can find more and more virtual museums today. In our zone that is not so big and important there are 2 of them, too.

The aim of these museums is to "transform" a visitor in somebody or something and to allow him to live the epoque this museum tells about. This is not my idea, those have to be words of the man that invented this entertainment.

Most parts of these museums are more or less big screens or sounds or other "special" effects. Like this:

This barrier from the pulverized water represents the burning cloud that covered the population of Pompei and Ercolano during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. I has some doubts to pass through it but I did not understand the matter at the moment. Only after the visit, when I read the explanations and looked my photos, I cuold appreciate the idea.

If you want to read the reportage about that visit I invite you to read my post How to Live the Eruption of Vesuvius of 79AD where you will find many photos.

As said, I visited both our virtual museums and do not like them. I have my PC to look at the screen all days long, I have a TV too. And the idea to watch an other video when I go out for a walk does not inspire me. I prefere to walk and to observe nature and creations of the humans without adding an other screen to my life.

The "classic" museums could not be too entertaining, yes, but if you want to create something really very interesting, you have to go in the museums in Finland where they have scenes from the life near the "normal" exposition.

Walk at Locmaria-Berrien, September 21st

We have a long walk (about 10kms) on Tuesday, starting at 2pm from the parking by the church at Locmaria-Berrien (between Huelgoat and Poullaouen). No particular difficulties, and mostly on good paths or quiet roads. There will be a tea stop on the route, thanks to kind offer from Sybil! All welcome.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Five Islands Park

I see this often: an appealing waterfront park is overshadowed by a grander, more famous one nearby. That  seems to be the case with Five Islands Park in New Rochelle. Tucked away at the end of a narrow road lined with municipal garages and a water treatment plant, is this 15 acre city park of small islands connected by a series of bridges.
While many are familiar with nearby Glen Island, this unique space along Echo Bay remains somewhat obscure. Five Islands doesn't have the Jazz-Age design or manicured feel of Glen Island, but instead has a more natural, even rugged landscape. Pathways wander through wooded areas skirting an untamed shoreline of exposed bedrock and glacial erratics. It is easy to imagine this is what Glen Island looked like a century ago.
As with many shoreline parks, the big drawback here is that Five Islands is restricted to city residents. But on a recent September visit, I had no trouble entering the park and enjoying the beauty of a sunny, late summer afternoon.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Block Island North Light

Block Island North Lighthouse, September 2009
Built: 1868
Automated: 1956
Deactivated: 1973
Relit: 1989

Lighthouse Friends (map included)

Monday, 13 September 2010

Pictures of the Day, September 3-12, 2010

Hi Everyone!
Here are some Pictures of the Day from the last week or so:

September 3rd: This is a water tank near our house.
Angela and I went for a walk on the road into Berlin to check out some of the new landslides. (Note: This is a very poignant example of how there's nothing to do in Berlin).

September 4th: Independence Day is coming up soon, so there are decorations all over (including ones that take up a major chunk of my white board when I teach).

Living in another country can either promote or kill your own personal patriotism, and for me, I think it's done the latter. Sort of like religions that have heavens that are mutually exclusive to other beliefs, it's hard to get pumped about any country, when you realize that all countries have good and bad things.

Plus, Costa Rica is also home to the "red, white, and blue."

September 5th: Our fenceposts have finally started sprouting! Ha ha!
Compare it to this picture.

September 6th: The pay phone at work. I had this in mind for a while as a "backup" plan for a day when I'd not found a good Picture of the Day.

I like this phone. The last time we went to the US, there weren't any pay phones anywhere, and it was a pain in my ass to try to call home. Finally, our cool waiter at the Irish restaurant at the Dallas airport loaned me his cell phone.

Damn cell phones.

September 7th: A street lamp near work.

September 8th: The bridge over the Tempisque River in Guanacaste. It was donated to Costa Rica by the government of Taiwan, and was called the "Costa Rica-Taiwan Friendship Bridge." Then, of course, Costa Rica dropped Taiwan because China offered to build the country a new National Stadium, and sweetened the deal with some shitty new police patrol cars.

So now the bridge is referred to as the "Stab in the Back" bridge.

September 9th: Actually, now that I see this picture, I realize that I don't know what these things are. Surely, they go into the ocean, but beyond that, I'm not sure what they're called. I taught my Wednesday class at the resort again, and I had Thursday free to check out the beautiful beaches.

September 10th: The market in Palmares. We were waiting on some tires, so we walked around town a bit.

September 11th: This is a sort of sculpture made out of mufflers. The sculpture is a man with a bazooka riding a motorcycle. It's on the roof of an auto repair shop in Quebradas, which is one of the few places on Earth I genuinely dislike. It's a small town in the hills between Berlin and Palmares, and I have to drive through there every day to get to work. The narrow road is always filled with cars, kids, chickens, dogs, people walking or sitting in the street... you name it.

In any case, I'd meant for a while to get a picture of this bazooka guy, but it's in an area on a sort of incline, and it's a very difficult place to stop (and eventually get going again), but I finally did it. In the leftovers you can see the sign for the auto shop, and know that I'm not just making this all up.

September 12th: It was a pretty slow day here in Berlin. It rained quite a bit, and we mainly hung out inside. Even Chubby didn't want to go out, but he did the next best thing: he slept on the top ledge of the high garage window. That's about 9 feet off the ground, and he's gotta somehow get up there from inside the garage. That cat has some pretty crazy skills that we just don't even know about.

I've also been uploading a lot of pictures from 2008. So far they're mostly from around Costa Rica, but I'm hoping to get more up soon, including ones of our trip to Colorado and Mexico.

So, that's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch - Where have all the songbirds gone?

This is a question I have been asked frequentlyover the last few weeks by some very anxious people. There's no need for worry. Every year in late summer, birds, like most other animals, moult. Many loose their more colourful spring & summer plumage to replace it with the lower tones which will provide the necessary camouflage in the leafless trees of winter. Chaffinches & Bulfinches are prime examples of this. During the moult, the loss of the primary wing & tail feathers can render the bird almost flightless, thus leaving the smaller birds highly vulnerable to their preditors. Don't worry, they're still there. They are just laying low in the thicket..........& they're keeping quiet.
I have noticed this week that the Robins have begun to sing again. No doubt others will soon follow. However, we'll have to wait until next spring to hear again the full blown dawn chorus of courtship & territorial ownership.
Photograph: Peacock butterfly on Dahlia.

Josh Piver Memorial

Play music, walk on the beach. I won't be far from reach.

There are a large number of memorials honoring the September 11th victims in the shoreline towns bordering Long Island Sound. East of New Haven and Port Jefferson however, they become less frequent as the grip of Manhattan begins to loosen, and the loss from that day is more indirect.
An exception to this is the Josh Piver Memorial located at Stonington Point. It is a simple, stone bench with a few words inscribed, quietly looking out on the water towards Sandy Point and Little Narragansett Bay.
I did not know this young man, but I often feel as if I did. We had many things in common: like me, he loved the water; he spent his summer vacations working in boatyards; and he attended the University Of Vermont.

Josh was working in One World Trade Center (north tower) on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was just 24 years old.

The Josh Piver Foundation was established by his friends to honor his memory.

One Mom's Lifesong: Honoring Josh Piver
Cantor Fitzgerald Tribute: Joshua Piver
New York Times: Portraits In Grief
CT Coastal Access Guide: Stonington Point

Friday, 10 September 2010

Some Photos of Capri Island

As you know, I was in Pozzuoli on ritrit till Monday. If the ritrit can be interesting for you, you can visit my dedicated to Yungdrung Bon blog to see the photos. Here I wanted to show you some photos of Island Capri. Everybody probably knows about it and I will not write much to present it to you.

Here is the island seen from the train that goes to Naples, near Torre del Greco. You can see Sorrento coast too. Both are rocks with not too much place to live. That is why all the VIPs of all time liked to live in such places.

These next photos I took in Pozzuoli. It is surprizing how near is the island if you look at it from so distant places these are about 50 km between them.