Monthly Archives: November 2011

Traveling in Europe: Delft in White and Blue

These posts on Europe will come sporadically as I have to digitally fix the photos for web viewing and it’s a busy season for me right now. To view my full album of Delft, click the first picture.

Europe 2011: Delft

After Amsterdam, I took a train to Delft. I was stunned at the thousands of bikes at the station. I doubt if you gathered all the bikes in Vancouver that it would even equal this number. People commute by bike and train a lot. Because there had been some confusion in email as to the dates I was staying at the B&B I ended up doing last-minute couch surfing for my first night. Robbert had just finished his university and was still in a student apartment. He was helpful in giving me directions to get to his place and the next day into Delft central. He tried to teach me some Dutch and pronunciations but some forms are so foreign in English I just had problems getting them to sound close.

Delft is small, when you’re looking at the medieval center. The next day I waited for the B&B owner to show. When she never did, I walked back to the tourist information center, always a good place to visit in any major city. Delft is small enough that they know of all the B&B’s. They tried calling both lines;when they couldn’t reach her they advised me to find someplace else. They ended up helping me find something in my price range (52 Euros) with someone who had just called in. (98 Plantages–not available through any sites) was run by Liesbeth and was beautiful, clean, updated and close by. Liesbeth was an excellent host, giving me some ideas of restaurants to try and directions into Den Haag.

canals, Delft, Holland, history, travel, William of Orange

Delft's picturesque canals have lilies and waterfowl.

Delft was by far the prettiest town I visited in Holland, with Den Bosch a close second. The clean canals were picturesque with lily pads, swans and ducks. I even ran into a heron on the walkway beside one canal and got within two feet. The streets in the old town are cobblestone and shops line the streets. Delftware, that famous blue and white china, is not cheap but plentiful. I saw a guy on a scooter  where the front design was the Delft blue and white.

My first day after the screw-up with B&Bs left me with enough time to see the old and the new churches. (Throughout Holland and Belgium all shops close by 5. There is no evening shopping.) They were rather plain in the style of the no-fun Protestants who had pulled down statuary, removed paintings and white washed churches so that one would only concentrate on god’s glory, not on what humans had made. The one, ironic, concession to ostentation was the tomb of William of Orange, assassinated at the Prinsenhof (a convent he had taken over for a residence).

William of Orange, Dutch royal family, Delft, tomb, travel, history, Holland

William of Orange's tomb was so big that it was hard to photograph it all.

The Dutch started later than some countries in instituting royalty and pretty much voted in the best merchant. At least that’s what I could tell . William’s grand tomb is the central design of the church. Before this date the royal family was buried in Breda but it was still under Spanish rule, so they began putting the royals in Delft, where they are entombed to this day (the dead ones that is). I was beginning to think after Amsterdam’s two and Delft’s churches that I was getting churched out, partly because they were rather bland in a gothic cathedral sort of way. The focus became the pillars, the gothic arches (which are impressive) and the black floors, carved with names, dates, arms and symbols of those who had passed on before.  I wrote a rough set of poems here that I call triptych, after the style of religious paintings (that have three panels) used in many churches of the period. These will be polished at a later date.

I took in the Prinsenhof on my third day. The bullet hole in the wall from William’s assassination is framed and stands out. There are works of art such as paintings, sculptures, silverware and Delftware for which the Dutch are famous, plus the story of William’s life. I believe the new church, starkly plain had many partitions that told the story of the royal family from its beginning to its present day. Like England, they have had a queen since WWII (and before). But reading about all the royals and who killed who or succeed whom was mind numbing after a while. I just enjoyed walking along the canals of Delft and would definitely go back here.

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My Other Creative Brain

Mermaid's Dream pin

Creativity comes first, then creating in a specific field second. While I write and that is my main creative venture, I have also acted, I bellydance and I create jewellery. Sometimes when my brain stalls on the writing front, working with my hands loosens the thinking muscle. After a while I was making so much jewellery and not wearing it that I had to do something with it.

Clay, bone, vintage wood beads, glass

So, today, I’ll just post a few pictures of that side, since I’m preparing to do a craft fair in a few weeks and it’s the only side of my brain getting any exercise. I do beading and try to make unique designs, something slightly unusual. These are one-of-a-kind,  and I use a mixture of vintage beads, glass, crystal, wood, bone and crystal. I don’t use plastic unless there is a particularly unique bead and I just try to think on the nonclassic lines. There are enough high-end semi-precious stone and silver necklaces out there, which are beautiful but why glut the market.

If you’re in Vancouver on Dec. 3 or 4, stop by the Imaginarius Fantasticusat Tinseltown, where my goods will be on sale, under the name of Haul of the Mountain King. The theme is fantasy, fairies, goth, steampunk or renaissance.

Three tier turquoise & purple

Under the Sea bracelet

Lampwork or vintage glass and silver/pewter.

Hematite, glass, pewter, triple tier necklace

Lampwork beads, silver, pewter

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How I Almost Became a Prostitute

prostitution, welfare, poverty, unemployment

Creative Commons: Diego3336 Flickr

The Occupy Movement has got me thinking about we, the little people, those who drudge out our days to pay the bills, with very little extra and sometimes having to choose if it will be getting a tooth fixed or getting tires on the car. How voiceless are we in how things run? Well, we vote in our representatives, if we vote, but many of us know that you can’t represent all of the people all of the time. In fact, most political systems break down after one-two hundred people. We have no true democracy and while we all have a vote we are definitely not heard nor represented equally.

One example of being the voiceless 99% was when I ran up against bureaucracy while trying to be trained in a presumably more lucrative position. I had a three-month full-time course in an apprenticeship program to be a script supervisor in the movie industry (that’s overall continuity and more). Apprenticeship programs were paid for by the government so I had no course costs. However, I couldn’t really work during that time. All of the other people in the course (around 16) had either a spouse to support them or they could get unemployment. I couldn’t because I’d been freelancing for years, where the federal government doesn’t let you pay into unemployment insurance. My freelance income just paid my monthly bills; hence why I was taking this course.

I had very little saved money but as a freelance copyeditor there were two publishers in New York for which I would edit one to two manuscripts a month for them. With one from each of them I would have just enough money to get by while I finished the course.

Three months doesn’t seem a long time but halfway through the first month, the first publisher changed their focus and went into videos. The second publisher went into receivership at the end of that month. Suddenly I had two months to go and no money. I scraped through the second month but December was coming and I had no way to pay rent, let alone buy much food. I instituted the end-of-the-world diet. I didn’t buy any food at all and used up the stores in my place. In a way it was interesting to see how long could I survive on fresh produce, then frozen foods, then canned and dried goods.

But I still couldn’t pay the rent. So I went to Welfare. Now I had once before in my early 20s been on welfare when the economy dived, I couldn’t find work and times were dire (and I had roommates). It was no fun whatsoever, and slim pickings. So here I went, down to the office, filling in forms galore to see if I could get $300 to pay my rent (my rent was more but that was what I needed to pay the rent). It turns out, because I had about $3,000 in retirement savings plans I was not allowed even $300 that I said I would repay. Instead, the brilliant of our government is to have you use up al of your retirement savings now so that when you hit old age, you can go live under a bridge, become ill and run up more costs for the government.

Not only is there no such thing as a free  lunch but there’s no help for the self-employed. I’d have to be a full-on welfare recipient, unable to work and possibly dealing with addictions to get the money. So what could I do? I had no money to pay my bills, my car payment, my rent or for food. I was trying to finish the course and not drop it. I was desperate and seriously thought of prostitution as the only way I could make ends meet. I had no job, no recourse. I determined where I could stand; I wasn’t far from the area where they stand, I could dress badly and where little. I could charge…something. Maybe I could be a call girl, have them pick me up, place an ad in the paper. I imagined scenarios in cars and back alleys. And…I just couldn’t do it.

Lucky for me I had good friends and family. Without ask, people sent me money and my landlords gave me a half month’s rent as a Christmas gift. I bought no one a present that year, but somehow I made it through. And no help to a bureaucratic government that sees everyone on welfare as a welfare bum and if they’re not, then they will be by the time they’re completely destitute and degraded.  It was humiliating.

I can see why the 99% (through really it’s probably 20%) are complaining about the 1%. Government and corporations, more than individuals, are the 1%. And we hear over and over again of the plights of the common people, denied this or that, dying in the streets, succumbing to illness, being humiliated because they just don’t have a voice made of money. Do I trust my government? No. And it’s too bad but I need to see more faith in helping humanity first. In the meantime I remain wary.

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Occupy…What?

Occupy, Occupy Vancouver, politics, anarchy, protests

Focused Capture: Creative Commons

Many cities have seen the Occupy movement taking up residence for the last month or two. When it started I was in Europe and had no clue what was going on. I wasn’t reading news while traveling. One friend posted that, hey while you were gone the Occupy movement started. I asked, Occupy what? I never got an explanation.

In the weeks since I’ve been back I’ve listened to the news and I know kind of what’s on the mind of the Occupy movement, or what was once the goal. It was to show that the voice of the little people should be heard and that we’re tired of letting the 1%, the rich corporations (really, more than individuals) run everything without us having a say and without them having to pay. I came across this site that lists some of the movement’s concerns much more clearly than I’ve heard through the media, which is sometimes out for sensationalism and not out for facts.

But… but, we’re in this era of constant protest, where every large event has the anarchistic element for anarchy’s sake. Or arguing for argument’s sake and playing devil’s advocate. I’m more than a little skeptical when a tent city goes up on the art gallery’s lawn and people light a fire in direct antagonism to the fire marshal’s order of no fires, and then they call it a sacred fire. Oh, if we bring in religion and spirituality they don’t dare interfere with our fire. Haven’t we seen this before? Sacred how? What rites and rituals are going on and for how long?

The hockey game brought on riots in Vancouver, and why? Because anarchistic yahoos wanted a good time and to give it to “the man.” The riots in England; because government is bad, yeah, real bad and we’re gonna do this because they can’t stop us. That’s what some of the interviewees have said. I feel like it’s more of “here we go again.” A small vocal, possibly violent group of anarchists gather to be a thorn in the foot of government. And–they deflate any real protests that get eaten by the hungry media monster that loves conflict.

But… but, I know there are those idealists, the pure hearts who believe they’re fomenting change, that they’re being effective as they vote at their general assemblies to do this or that. But they have no central voice, no true leader and therefore the message gets lost in the noise. And yes, I agree that we don’t have enough voice in what goes on. And this lead to me being in a hard situation once when I needed welfare and was denied it because of silly rules. So what happens, we have a few people who entrench themselves downtown but theh message of Occupy for 99% gets lost and then these people are the 1% as well; just a different 1%. And I guess I’m just cynical enough to believe that the message won’t get across and won’t change anything.

Yet, maybe some of these people will tr to get into politics and one things is for sure: if you’re American you need to be a millionaire to run in US politics, but that’s not true here. Some of the best ways to foment change is from the inside. But then do you become the beast you’re fighting? Possibly, but I just don’t feel Occupy with actually last long. It’s more like a nasty wart on the ass of the corporations. But soon it will be excised and forgotten about.

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Traveling in Europe: Amsterdam Part II

To see my album of Amsterdam pictures, click on the first picture.

Europe 2011: Amsterdam
canals, Amsterdam, houseboats, culture, the Netherlands

One of Amsterdam's many canals

Amsterdam is one of the uber culture spots of Europe, thronging with people getting away for a weekend, going some place to party, or checking out the art. Through the couchsurfing site I realized how immersed gay culture is there (most of the hosts listed on the site were gay). But oddly I didn’t see a lot of gay men. You might wonder how I would know but I’ve been around a lot of gay people all my life, have friends of various persuasions and as a result have developed fairly good “gaydar.” But they were there somewhere.

There were a lot of people; those hanging out in the coffee shops, where you can smoke pot (but only in the shops, not on the streets), those there to see the historic sites, and those shopping. Shopping also includes the infamous, but shrinking red light district. Some cleanup action of Amsterdam’s council has shrunk the area over the years. I stumbled upon the edge of it and ironically, one side of the street was the oude kerk (old church) while the other held the large picture windows where the scantily clad girls all work. I was a little surprised that I didn’t see one white woman but then I might have been in the wrong “section.” I have no pictures of the windows because I believe it rude to gawk and photograph these women.

Amsterdam also has oodles of museums, such as a doorknob museum, maritime museum and an eyeglass museum. Because I’m one of those people who stick my nose close to a painting to figure out the uses of color and the type of brushstrokes, as well as reading all the details about the artist’s life or the history of the time, it takes me a lot longer to go through a museum or art gallery than your average Joe. I really look. It’s a combo of my art college background and my eye for details and textures.  So when those guidebooks say you can do three museums in a day, they’re not talking to me.

 

Amsterdam, art, sculpture, travel, Rijksmuseum

An exterior detail of the Rijksmuseum.

I did hit the Rijksmuseum, a monster in and of itself. Almost all of it was surrounded by fencing and undergoing massive renovations. Only the section on the Dutch Masters was open, yet that took me three-four hours. Very few museums allow pictures, so that huge influx of historical art is only stored (somewhere) in my memory. I also took in the Van Gogh museum and this was one of the top three of my trip. I should also mention that getting Holland’s heritage pass (for about 44 Euros for a year) is well worth it for visiting museums and galleries. After three venues it saved me money.

The museum was extensive and detailed. There were write-ups on Van Gogh’s life, his influences, his work and his travels. We sometimes only know of the few oft-published paintings and that he was mad and cut off his ear, but he was much much more than that. He experimented in numerous styles including Chinese and Japanese. He studied art and kept trying different visions; landscapes, still lifes, people.  He copied the old masters and delved into the new ones, and he did it all in ten years. Ten years for a body of work that fills a museum. The show also included artworks by those who had influenced him and those he influenced. A truly amazing, well thought out homage to one of Holland’s more recent greats.

Stedelijk Museum, art, sculpture, Amsterdam, architecture

Exterior detail of the Stedelijk.

I also went into the Stedelijk Museum, which has modern art and an interesting show on font design. I kind of zipped through it because I was more interested in the older styles of art, but it was quite extensive with everything from mixed media, film to functional design forms and poster art.

I also went to the oude and nieuwe kerks (old and new churches) each built over several centuries and gothic in design. The oude kerk was begun in 1250 and finished in the 1500s. The no-fun Protestants came along at some point and tore down statues and broke stained glassed, making the cathedrals very austere and cavernous. However, at the new church there was a retrospective art show of wedding gowns. Some were just historical gowns through the decades and others involved twirling dresses (with the figure blacked out) on TVs, a giant roll of white fabric representing a wedding train and a suspended gown with one wing torn off , in front of a tomb of a war hero (somehow I’ve lost these pictures). It actually worked because where do wedding dresses fit but in a church?

There is a street market that sells everything from cheese to cheesy hooker style clothes. Since my suitcase decided to die at the beginning of my trip I had to buy another and found a cheap one at the market, but being cheap it barely lasted the three weeks of my vacation. Old cities, like Amsterdam have enough going on that you could just walk around for three days and look at the architecture and design. For me the mass of people had me happy to leave after two days but I’d probably go back again, especially since the crowds were so long I couldn’t get into Anne Franck House.

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Traveling in Europe: Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Holland, travel, bikes, bicyclists

Bikes are everywhere in Amsterdam

Amsterdam was a place of contradictions. It was large, in terms of things to see and do, and small in terms of area, though I still managed to walk a good seven hours one day, getting lost on the wrong side of canals. It was cosmopolitan but kind of dirty because of so many people, the sidewalks and streets sporting numerous stains and dead gum and just general grime. I find that cities of this size end up with the group mentality issue. Like mob mentality, this massive city entity is one of mindless automatons, people all trying to get to where they’re going, without willing to move or adapt or politely let someone by. I cannot stand crowds for this reason; not because there are a lot of people but because there are a lot of people being mindless and self-absorbed and not trying to work with the whole. Drives me nuts.

Amsterdam, travel, transportation, trams, bikes

One of Amsterdam’s trams

But…I maneuvered through the flight to the train and from the train station to the tram, even though the police gave me the wrong directions. There are plenty of trams and buses, and getting around is easy, as long as you watch out for bike lanes. I did blunder twice into a bike lane and nearly got smeared. Even so, the Dutch never swore at me (that I understood) and moved out of the way and I apologized profusely. Holland is the land of bicyclists, probably only second to China. At train and tram stations I saw thousands of bikes parked in racks. On the narrow, medieval cobblestoned streets there are often trams, cars, scooters, bikes and pedestrians. A sidewalk might exist and might also be very narrow. A painted line in most cases is all that separates the bike lane from the sidewalk or road. And sometimes you just have to scoot around a parked car or someone moving items in and out of a building.

Amsterdam, travel, buildings, Dutch architecture

Dutch buildings are tall, narrow and lean

The buildings, ranging in years from four-five centuries to recent, are narrow and tall. The windows are likewise very high. It seems back in the 16-17th centuries people were taxed by the width of their houses so they built up. Of course they were probably taxed on width because the land was reclaimed foot by painstaking foot from the sea, and most of Holland is below sea level. In fact, if I ever wanted to build anything near or on water I would hire a Dutch hydraulic engineer; they’ve been doing this for centuries.

gables, Dutch houses, moving hooks, winches, Amsterdam

A good example of fancy gabling and the hook for moving items in through windows.

As all the buildings are high and thin, it means there are many many narrow stairs, in fact too narrow to move furniture up. So they built hooks on the top end of the buildings by which to pulley items into the structure, and they’re still used to this day. Because of this way of moving furniture  the buildings indeed lean out into the streets,because a perfectly perpendicular building would have its windows and facade smashed in a move. The buildings have several different types of gables, (step, bottle, etc.) which were popular for distinction as well as design at the top window. Before street numbers, shops had plaques that differentiated them or what they did or sold.

And of course, everywhere there are canals. Before coming to Holland when I thought of canals I thought of Venice. How was I so ignorant? Holland is truly the land of canals, everywhere. Some areas have more than others but they are like the veins of the land. The land between the agricultural canals is called a polder and the Dutch manipulated every aspect of building below sea level. Not only do the canals provide irrigation, they also work as routes for delivery and transportation as well as being a way to maintain the land. Theywork as a bleed-off when the water levels rise and save many structures from flooding. Truly amazing when you think about it. Now days, sewage is not dumped directly into the canals and they are pleasant, with numerous boat tours or houseboats.

Amsterdam, canals, Dutch, polders, history, architecture

One of many picturesque canals

Holland, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, history, travel

This building sat all by itself.

canals, houseboats, Amsterdam, polders, history, travel, culture

These houseboats are often 100 years old.

The streets are a mixture of cobblestones and modern paving, just as the buildings go from modern to five centuries old. There is not grid in a medieval aged city as the streets grew organically out of the center. In this case the Amstel River played a role in forming Amsterdam’s streets, which horseshoe out. Wandering up and down these streets and canals and just looking at the buildings that people take for granted was as interesting to me as going into a historic cathedral or a museum. Canada’s oldest buildings might only be one and a half centuries old (especially the west coast), established by people moving into natural geographic areas and planning out their towns. The sheer age of European cities gives a much more organic and haphazard growth.

There is actually enough to talk about with Amsterdam that I’ll do a second post on some of the other historic aspects.

Europe 2011: Amsterdam

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Writing Update

I haven’t done one of these in quite a while so here is an update on the writing front. “Obsessions,” a long poem came out in the gothic anthology Candle in the Attic Window through Innsmouth Free Press. It is available online and you can read the online interview about the poem here. I received my copy right before Hallowe’en.

“A Book By Its Cover” came out a few months before this in the Mirror Shards anthology, a collection of stories about augmented reality. This story was not written for the theme and needed little adaptation to fit in. There are a couple of reviews at agrippinalegit and thenewpodlerreviews.

Across the pond in England, “Tasty Morsels” came out this summer in Polluto #8. I haven’t seen any reviews of this magazine so I have no idea how well-known it might be even over there. The story, “It’s Only Words,” written specifically for Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies also came out in the summer. Publishing and writing dynamo, Des Lewis has worked hard at getting various reviews for the anthology. There will be an interview with him coming up in the next issue of Black Static and it will also highlight this anthology.

As reviews go, my story isn’t mentioned in many of them. So it goes that sometime you’re not noted for a particularly good or bad story. Some reviews really aren’t reviews, but just a recapping of each story. And one reviewer decided to only read a few of the stories by the authors he knew. Again, since I’m not British I got no reviews. Seems an odd and narrow way of reviewing stories. Why not expand the horizons and learn about other writing voices? Still any review is better than none.

Other writing news is pretty slim at the moment. I’m working on a freelance editing project and that’s been taking a lot of time. I still have one German steampunk story in the works but I’m stuck on how to get my protagonist out of her tight spot. Overall, I quite like the plot. I just need a good way for the resolution to work.  That’s it for this time around. Following are the Horror Anthology‘s reviews.

http://adamscantwell.blogspot.com/

http://thegingernutcase.blogspot.com/2011/09/starting-this-week.html

http://ismspress.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/the-horror-anthology-of-horror-anthologies/

http://wwwbillblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/kind-of-face-you-slash-day-6-dust-that.html

http://horrorworld.org/hw/2011/10/the-horror-anthology-of-horror-anthologies/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1447757351/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk 

 

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Hearty Eight-Pepper Vegetarian Chili

chili, peppers, food, cooking, recipes, stews

Eight pepper chili

I’m not a vegetarian but I do eat a lot of vegetables. I tend to make my chilis vegetarian, so that I can just add meat if I want. I’ve had an issue for years with digesting legumes so I make my own chili and adapt it so it isn’t  so bean heavy. First, I take the beans and soak them, draining the water off twice. I then boil them and rinse them again to remove as much as I can of the offending sugars.

I never use an exact recipe but below are the ingredients, more or less, for the chili pictured here:

  • olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • one yellow onion (or white)
  • one can peeled plum tomatoes
  • one can tomato paste
  • 1-2 cups kidney beans
  • water
  • 1 c. green beans
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 1 Hungarian pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tbsp. ground red chili pepper
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper
  • 1 dried habanero pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed pequeno peppers
  • 1 fresh red hot pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp. pepita/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts

As can be seen, this is a bit of a kitchen sink recipe and all measurements are approximate. If I don’t count the black pepper there are eight other peppers in this particular dish. I usually don’t use fewer than five types. If you want a less spicy chili you can use bell peppers and sweet banana peppers. Fewer of the red and hot peppers, such as pequenos and habanero, will cool the heat of the meal.

chipotle pepper, peppers, chili

Dried & smoky flavored chipotles--creative commons Badagnani (on Wiki)

 

I always just make mine to taste. I put the ingredients in a slow cooker, chopping and slicing up the tomatoes, peppers, carrots and beans. I add the tomato paste and soak the chipotle or ancho chili in some water to soften. Then I chop the chili and put it and the water in the cooker, while I saute the garlic and onion in oil and add in the spices. I also cannot digest bell peppers but I’m fine with other types. All of these ingredients can be adjusted to personal preferences.

The beans are boiled separately (don’t add salt or they won’t soften properly). After they’re drained I add them, the nuts and the seeds, then let everything simmer in the cooker on low. In the morning I turn it off and toss in the sliced mushrooms and voila, it’s ready to eat.

This combo comes out medium spicy on my meter but more or fewer peppers will adjust the level. Of course, cheese and sour cream can take down the spiciness level. I found this batch was still just a touch too tart and tomatoey so I added about 2 tablespoons (by accident as I meant to put less in) of maple syrup, which took the edge off. You can use a bit of sugar to do the same thing. You cannot taste the maple syrup after all those spices.

I freeze this up in smaller containers and then if I want to add meat at a later date, it’s no problem. However, I find it so hearty that it’s rarely needed, and I’ve lessened the overall bean quota so that I can digest it. This recipe is vegan friendly as well.

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Traveling in Europe: Stonehenge

Stonehenge, prehistoric sites, neolithic cultures, travelClick here to go to the album.

My second day in England had me taking a train to Victoria Station to get to Stonehenge. Searching on the net for a map through Google showed a circuitous route of catching buses to the train, which would take about two hours. I asked the guest house instead, and in reality I walked about 15 minutes through Horley to the station. The one train ride was  around 45 minutes. I wandered around Victoria Station, which has shops from groceries to clothing, restaurants and stands of flowers, chocolates, pastries, etc. It’s covered over, massive, with at least eight tracks for trains (not to mention the underground) and can be confusing to figure out. There are information booths and I liberally used them to get my bearings.

Stonehenge, England, prehistoric sites, stone age, travel, culture

Stonehenge

I had booked a tour to Stonehenge online before I left Canada, because I wouldn’t be driving. This was through Evans tours and cost about 25 pounds. Entry fee by itself is 7.50 pounds, but if you’re going to be in England long enough you can by a UK Heritage pass, which will save you entry fees on various castles, churches and other historical sites. I dislike guided tours overall but this one consisted of the ride and the entry fee. You were given an audio device land eft to your own devices. We had about an hour and a half at the site.

And of course, it was raining, a lot. I watched sheets of rain and heavy black clouds, and stared out the window at the countryside as we took two hours to get there. The rain slowed somewhat by the time we arrived. I had bought a cheap, clear plastic poncho that I could throw over my jacket and day pack while I took pictures.

Stonehenge, stones, prehistoric sites, England, travel

I put this one in because the reddish thing to the right of the ground stone is not a rabbit. What is it?

The rain let up some and in a way it was a good thing. It added drama to the sky and cut down on the crowds. Yes there are about 100 people going by the stones at any one time. I debated putting pictures in of Stonehenge because there are so many out there, but I love the permutations of imagery.

The stones are indeed smaller than you would expect but still majestic in their way. As you walk around the henge, the path slopes gently down and what is believed to be the entry to the stones puts them on a rise and makes them look bigger, tower above the horizon. Many stones went missing over the centuries as they were taken for other construction. Some toppled. Debate continues as to the henge’s use but it indeed seems to have been a calendar that marked the passing of the summer solstice, just as Newgrange in Ireland marks the winter solstice. The are over 90 types of lichen that have been identified on the stones and some of them found nowhere else.

As fall comes along and the rains descend, I’ve been told that the stones turn more reddish because of the ores in their composition. In some of these pictures they’re just starting to turn red. But the stones have a variety of color; grey, black, white, green, beige, brown and shades in between. I’m fascinated by the architecture of humans and by the textures of stones. Some people will not find 50 some pictures of Stonehenge interesting but for me it’s both sculptural as art, and a mystery as to purpose. I’m glad I included Stonehenge in my trip.

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