Jack’s Walk

I’m lichen you, ©voyager, all rights reserved

These big rocks form a breakwater protecting railway tracks that run alongside the beach for miles. It’s not the prettiest breakwater I’ve ever seen, but that bright orange lichen on the rocks makes it one of the most interesting.  It’s been there as long as my husband can remember and it never seems to change. That colour is fairly true if it looks like Cheetos on your screen and it stays that bright in all seasons and temperatures. I think it looks like paint splotches and it makes a great foil for all the blues that like to blend at the beach.

Tree Tuesday

Sent in by Nightjar, our trees this week tell a cautionary tale about the effects of climate change.

Mushroom Hunting Part 1...We went mushroom hunting last weekend and I decided to share some photos. I split them in two parts. The first doesn’t show mushrooms but rather our journey to find them. I knew that the wildfires last year had affected this area, but wasn’t sure if our favourite spot had burned or not. It did. I say green isn’t always hope because that green in the third photo is mostly acacias (Acacia longifolia) taking over the place. The future of these historical pine forests doesn’t look bright. We turned around and drove a bit south until we found a patch of forest that escaped the fires and didn’t look as dry and sterile. That’s when the mosquitoes attacked me, but there was also a lovely damselfly to make up for it.

Mushroom Hunting Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and it’s chock full of interesting photos of fungi found in the forest. Be sure to check it out. Thanks, Nightjar.

1. The road that no longer leads to mushrooms, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Mornings at the Station

It’s getting dark. Once again, an impressionist shot. But I will say that this darkness is unusual – for one, crappy camera, but also today has been a particularly foggy day, and it’s only getting worse now that evening is upon us.

I’m enjoying the atmosphere of the second shot, though. I’m standing between the two tracks, and something about that light effect and the out-of-focus is very appealing to me.

The usual angle, as it were…
©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Incidentally, I am currently reading José Saramago’s Blindness (mixed feelings). Today’s weather is a lot like his characters describe their blindness: just a lot of white. Although the fog here is probably less luminescent; going home is going to be interesting. Oh yes, and we lost all our snow.

Speaking of keeping a lid on things, I travel next week to Macedonia again, returning on the 23rd. I have mixed feelings about this trip, but I guess it’s good to be recognized?

Soundtrack to your life: 1

Browsing through some music it struck me how certain songs are just the defining songs for certain times in our lives. You listen to them and they take you a to a place and time, they can evoke a certain mood like nothing else can, so I decided to share some of my “personal soundtrack” with you. Feel free to reply with your soundtrack in the comments.

Growing up and not knowing who you want to be: Innuendo by Queen

This was actually the first CD ever which I got together with the CD player. My English wasn’t quite good enough at that time to quite understand the lyrics, but the music just said enough. Just keep on trying, eh? Later I sat down and translated many of the songs, a much better exercise than anything we ever did in class and to this day some words are automatically said in Freddy’s voice in my head.

It was a time in my teenage years when I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be and what I actually liked.

Freddy died not much later and I was devastated, cut lose again after I thought I had found a place. Queen stayed with me through all these years. Although I like a great variety of music, I became a rock chick back then and have always stayed one at heart.

 

Flowering Money Tree

This is one of my most precious bonsai trees – Crassula ovata. My mother has got the plant before I was born and she tells me it was already relatively big at that time. It is therefore safe to assume the tree is at least circa 50 years old. I started converting it to bonsai about twenty years ago. It continues to grow succesfully each year after pruning, and in case you wish to start growing bonsai yourself, this species is ideal for a beginner. It responds well to pruning, it grows quickly but not too much so, insects do not infect it much, and if you forget to water it from time to time, nothing happens.

I want to share a picture this time around, because this year something special happened – the tree flowers. It has done it once already a few years ago, but not as much as this year.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Jack’s Walk

The back side of the Perce Rock, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack has his stitches removed tomorrow afternoon and if he gets the “all clear” he can go back to normal activity. The incision is looking good and I’m fairly confident we should have no problems. In fact, Jack seems pretty happy to have the lump gone. He’s never once tried to pick at the wound and the past few days he’s been stretching out his arm and prancing around the house. It must feel like freedom to have that huge lump gone. Hopefully we can get back to our normal adventures on Wednesday, but that leaves 2 more days to reminisce about the Gaspe. This photo was taken on a foggy day from the highway near Barachois and in the distance you can see the back side of the Perce Rock on the left, Mt. Joli and the town of Perce in the center and Mt. St. Anne on the right. From this side the rock always reminds me of a horse bending to take a drink. The birds are mostly cormorants with one gull of exception.

 

Roses for Monday

Today we have one last look at Ruston’s Roses courtesy of DavidinOz. It’s been a real treat for me to see such fresh, lush roses at this time of year. Although this is the last post about Ruston’s, David has sent us a few more flower photos that we’ll be posting later in the week. I guarantee they’ll chase away the winter blues for at least a moment or two, so please check back.

Thanks David.

©David Brindley, all rights reserved

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Behind the Iron Curtain part 24 – LGBTQ rights

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


I do not actually remember how much I was informed about these issues as a child before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, but what I do remember is that my first encounter was not with an actual (known) homosexual person, but with a homophobic slur. The sad reality is, that Czechs were and to great extent still are very homophobic, or at least “I am not a homophobe, but…”, which is a distinction without difference.

However from legal standpoint Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was actually relatively progressive, or at least not less progressive than many western countries. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1962, 5 years before the United Kingdom. And gender reassignment therapy and surgery, although with more than a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump through, were (and are) available and paid for from state health insurance.

Nevertheless, despite gay rights being on the left side of the political spectrum in current USA and most of western world, it was not so behind the Iron Curtain. As avid reader and a very curious child, I have read behind my parents’ back magazines for adults (as opposed to magazines for children), which even in the puritanical culture did contain some information about sex and sexuality. And on one such occasion I came across an article that mentioned a peculiar fact – whilst homosexual acts between consenting adults were decriminalized in ČSSR, this was not the case everywhere in the Eastern Bloc. In USSR, male homosexuality was still illegal and punishable by imprisonment. The rationale mentioned in the article was homophobic, patriarchal and misogynistic all at once, and I remember recognizing it as such even at the time, although of course I did not know those fancy words back then: “A woman’s weakness can be forgiven, but a soldier must control his urges.”

After the fall of the iron curtain this discrepancy between the two countries sadly progressed. Whilst Czech Republic slowly but steadily progresses towards more and more legal rights for LGBTQ people along with public opinion progressing as well, in Russian Federation the trend actually reversed after a brief period of attempted progress.

So to me this, together with before mentioned environmentalism, is another one of the issues that actually is not left or right and it is just a coincidence that it is considered so in current political climate in the west. But lets not forget that political left can be just as adept at finding rationalizations for the homophobia of their power base as political right currently is. Hate of the other can, unfortunately, be quite the unifying issue in all kinds of political context.

Slavic Saturday

In the spirit of the season I would like to mention one Czech tradition today. This week, Thursday December 6. was Saint Nicholas day. Name of the saint is in Czech “Mikuláš” and the evening before Saint Nicolas day Mikuláš travels through the country with an angel and a devil to reward children accordingly. Good children get sweets, bad children get coal etcetera. Santa Claus is nothing else than a poorly written spinoff.

The trio is usually either paid actors or volunteers who go from door-to-door for arranged visits to children, there are also visits to Kindergarten and to lower classes in School. Children are sometimes expected to recite a rhyme to Mikuláš to prove they are good, some children opt to being tongue-tied or hiding behind their mother.

I remember, as a pre-school child, being absolutely terrified by the whole trio. My parents never taught me that devils are real or anything such, nevertheless I still to this day remember how I was supposed to say a rhyme to Mikuláš but not being able to get anything out of me but a bawling scream of horror. I do not remember being confronted with the trio for the rest of my childhood afterwards.

Two of my friends have two beautiful, intelligent and lively sons, three and four years. When they were preparing them for Mikuláš’s visit at the kindergarten, they explained to them carefully and patiently that the visitors will be only actors, ordinary people dressed up and pretending. They also explicitly forbade the teacher to tell them otherwise and to scare the children. Even so, both boys were clearly afraid of the devil and in awe with Mikuláš and the angel and the experience was something for them to talk about afterwards.

Children’s power of make-believe at this age is so strong that lying to them is not necessary for them to enjoy (or being terrified by) the holiday at all.

This is why I wish for a Succesful war on Christmass

A teacher has told kids that Santa ain’t real and she got fired. And one of the parents bemoans on Facebook:

“Many of us parents have been doing damage control since the kids get home from school,” parent Lisa Simek posted to Facebook on Thursday.

I disrespectfully disagree with this nonsense and consider the parent to be a whiny fuckwit. The damage is not being done by the teacher, but by the parent. Anyway, lying to children about the existence of Santa gives you a guarantee that one day, one place, they will find out that  you have lied to them. What has happened here is that it merely was perhaps a year early.

There are many, many things that I hate about this vapid holiday as it is currently celebrated – the incessant playing of absolutely awful music everywhere, the fact that for two months I cannot order anything over the internet without the delivery being delayed, the overcrowding,  the religious garbage that is associated with it – but what I perhaps hate the most is how the holiday makes a virtue out of lying to children.

Some of my friends do this and I do not go out of my way to debunk Santa (or Jesus child, which is more traditional here) to their children, but I still disagree with them on this issue. I do not think it adds anything valuable to childhood being lied to. I know from personal experience that children can enjoy Christmas trees and presents immensely even when they do not believe in magic and/or religious mumbo-jumbo.

I really wish this nonsense went away. Nobody should be fired for telling children truth. Believing in known and obvious lies should never be encouraged and promulgated, ever.

Landsknecht and Death

I was looking for inspiration for a dagger&sword project for next year, and during my web crawl I found this image. And I was immediately reminded of Caine and the “Dance with Death”series she posted this year. I think she would love it.

I would like to provide you with the translation of the german text, but I cannot read the font no matter what so I cannot even reliably transcribe the original – I understand about a half. On top of it I suspect it is poetry and that gives me trouble even in my native language, let alone in archaic German.

Strauch, Wolfgang: Landsknecht und Tod

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