Thursday, June 30, 2016

Airing the dirty linen!

Today I'm waiting for the repair guy.
My dryer quit heating a couple of days ago and I have nowhere to hang my 
linens and clothes outside to dry. Here in small 16th century alleys in the
 interesting little walled town of Viviers, situated on the bank of the Rhone River
in the Ardeche department of France, everyone 'pegged out' the wash without
any qualms whatsoever.

All Photos from Viviers, France, Oct. 2015

P.S. Don't forget to have a go at my travel 
guessing game in my previous post!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Travel to where? A new guessing game.

Ready for another little travel guessing game?

 Had to send our passports away when we returned from Ireland.
Always a concern as having your precious passport in, or close by your hot little 
 hand, is much more comforting. Knowing it's 'out there' perhaps flying overhead
 without you relaxing squished in economy with your knees under your chin, or 
traveling on a bumper to bumper dangerous highway to an embassy in our
 bustling nation's capital, can be disconcerting.

Knowing it arrived, thanks to online 'tracking', and was signed for by the embassy
receptionist, was the first sigh of relief. Waiting almost two weeks for the 
welcome FEDEX truck to arrive at the end of the driveway was a bit nerve wracking.
However they're back, visas attached and, other than a few vaccination updates,
we'll be ready to roll come September.

A new country calls - and it's on one of those far off continents. Bob and I will be
 traveling with long time friend Paula again, off to a place she is very familiar with.
After exiting our arrival city we'll head west where we'll be enjoying luxurious quarters
 with just 12 other guests. . . . .'far from the madding crowd' surely?
Country views will be phenomenal and wildlife magnificent.
Weather should be warm as the equator will be just to the north. . . .and we'll not
be far from a big valley, and west of the lake.

More details after you have a guess - just name the correct country from
these not too obscure clues.
There will be a small prize from that country later, when I return.
I'll toss all right answers in the hat and have Bob pull out a winner.
I think this one will be easy peasy for many of you. 

Leave a comment by this Friday, on this post only please.
I won't post any comments until Friday night - and I'm sure
we will have a winner by then!

Edited:  Not many guesses yet! You have a good chance
 to win something from far away. 
Hope you join in - leave your comment here no later
 than Friday, early evening.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fade from Blue. . . . . .

Less than two weeks ago I shared the really deep blue of this year's
 hydrangeas in my garden HERE.

The bushes are huge, the flower heads big, heavy and numerous.
Now, just a few days into official summertime, they are already starting to
 fade because they are planted in parts of the garden that get direct sun in the 
afternoon.  These lovely shrubs should really be resting in shadows, taking a
 shady siesta after lunch! When I planted them many years ago I had more
 trees in front of the house and porch and they did get shade. Now the sun's
 rays find them easily so along with very hot temperatures, and often high
 humidity, I'm perhaps lucky to have any hydrangeas at all!

Of course I've cut some for the house and hopefully later I'll have plenty
to dry for the dark days of winter.

I really do believe this is early in the season to have blooms already turning 
dusty shades of pale green, lavender, soft pink. Still beautiful though.

 Between the older blooms there are still fresh bright blue ones opening - such
 wonderful plants.

The front garden on this beautiful Sunday morning. . . . . . . and me blogging
from the shady gazebo in the back garden, where a cardinal mom is feeding her
 squawking baby on the grass, squirrels are performing their usual gymnastics
 on the feeders, woodpeckers and nuthatches are breakfasting on the suet,
 and a sure sound of summer in the south - cicadas making their unmistakable
 music. . . . . 
and I continue to heal (and wait patiently for permission to work in the
 garden again). . . . . . . . . and am thankful for many things.

Do you grow hydrangeas? 
How are they doing this summer?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Breathtaking Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry. . . . . . . . .

Such a beautiful place. . . . . . . 
. . . . named after the main town of Dingle, the Dingle Peninsula is commonly called
 Corca Dhuibhne in Irish (anglicized as something like Corkaguiny). 
It is the northernmost of the major peninsulas in County Kerry, ending beyond
 the town of Dingle at Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of Ireland and
 arguably Europe.

I'm sure you will agree that this dramatic scenery is exceptionally beautiful. I have to 
add that it was also very peaceful when we visited prior to the arrival of the 
 Summer crowds. Our day trip was cool and mostly cloudy with a few patches of 
sunshine, but again no rain. On arrival in Killarney, our base for four
 nights, we checked weather forecasts and realized we had a two day window for
 possible sunny days so made our tour reservations ahead to ensure seats on coaches.

This, the most western end of the peninsula is a Gaeltacht (meaning an 
Irish-speaking area) that has produced many notable authors and poets.  

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm obsessed with the story of the
 Blasket Islands, particularly Great Blasket, where the small population
 survived the potato famine and remained until 1953 when the government
 evacuated the island, many of the inhabitants emigrating to
 Springfield, Massachusetts.
There are six principal Blasket Islands. The northermost is Inishtooskert
(Inis Tuaisceart in Irish), also known as An Fear Marbh (the dead man) or
 the Sleeping Giant due to its appearance when viewed from the eastern
 mainland as here in my photo.

This was the closest I managed to get to visiting Great Blasket Island - next time
 I plan to be on a boat and going ashore!

The Three Sisters headland. . . . . . . along the dramatic Wild Atlantic Way.
This current movie site brought much excitement to many of our fellow passengers 
on the coach tour. I admit to not being a Star Wars fan.
Unable to get permission to film again on the distant island Skellig Michael, a UNESCO 
world heritage site where scenes were shot for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, the 
Irish government allowed Disney Lucasfilm to build a replica of the historic site on
the mainland. Contractors built a 1.5 km metal roadway to transport the heavy
equipment overland.

More to my liking was our guide's information about the the lovely beach,
 Inch Strand. Here a much admired movie, 'Ryan's Daughter' (1970) with Robert Mitchum
 and Sarah Miles was filmed. Scenes were also filmed at nearby Slea Head and
 Coumeenole Beach. Set in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising,
 I plan to watch this movie again soon. 
Also planning a second viewing of 'Far and Away' (1992) with Nicole Kidman
 and Tom Cruise, which was partly filmed in this same area.

Cafe and beach/surf shop at Inch Strand - one of Ireland's most beautiful beaches
and very popular for surfing.

We truly fell in love with the Dingle Peninsula and will definitely put it on our
 'let's go back' list. Another visit to Western Ireland is required - we saw a lot but
 we want to spend more time there when possible.

An upcoming post from Ireland will focus on the second beautiful peninsula
 we visited - the Ring of Kerry.

Have you ever been across the sea to Ireland?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer reading - after Ireland and Surgery. . . . . . . . . .

How lucky can I get!
No cancer, so very thankful
No major housework.
No lifting and bending.
No traveling, oh NO - just for a while though.

BUT. . . . . . all the time in the world to read wonderful books this week and next. 
These, waiting to be opened and have their pages turned, are full of promise.

Since coming home from Ireland a couple of weeks ago, I have been eager
 for the mailman who has showered me with new books. . . . . . . 

. . . . . . other than FALLEN by Lia Mills, a Dublin writer, which tweaked my
 curiosity when I photographed this Dublin street banner, and which
 I was able to purchase later at a tiny Killarney bookshop, my books have come
 to my mailbox. FALLEN is set in Dublin at the time of the 1916 Easter
Rising and is an historical story of a young woman coming of age amidst
 violence and loss.

MEADOWLAND - The Private Life Of An English Field
by John Lewis-Stempel somehow appeared online when looking for something else.
 I had to have it!

"In exquisite prose John Lewis-Stempel records the passing seasons in an
 ancient meadow on his farm."

That singular sentence was enough to tweak my appetite for learning more
 about my much loved English countryside - the fields of Devon were my
 playground and I will always remember and love them for ever.

ON AN IRISH ISLAND - The Lost World of the Great Blasket 
by Robert Kanigel. 
The story of Great Blasket Island is a must read because I'm now besotted by
 the history of this Irish island (the largest of a group named The Blasket Islands
 off the Dingle coastline) which was inhabited until the 1950's.

The House on an Irish Hillside by Felicity Hayes-McCoy is the
 new book I've decided to read first.
 It is so wonderful I plan to do a full post on it later.
 Just know I'm really happy to have found this book by this amazing author - and that
 I have been fortunate to have just visited the Dingle Peninsula where she lives
 for much of the year.

. . . . . . lastly, a new book about the extraordinary record-setting woman aviator,
 Beryl Markham, caught in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter
 Denis Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen who, as Isak Dinesen, wrote the
 classic memoir Out of Africa.
Circling The Sun by Paula McLain.

My read and reread dog-eared copy of West With The Night was written by Beryl
 herself and published in 1942. It has always been one of my favorite books
 about adventurous women and life in Kenya back in the 1930's.
Hmm, Kenya, Africa, Masai Mara, Safari, Big Five. . . . .some day!!!

All photos by me - thankfully a small camera is not very heavy!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summertime, summertime. . . . . . . . . .

Seeds can surprise. . . . . . . . . especially after a couple of years since sowing
and nothing happening! 

My wonderful blog friend Gina sent me seeds from her beautiful hollyhocks. 
Only a few germinated last year but never grew more than a few inches before
 disappearing into thin air, probably fried in our hot/humid weather.

Today, to welcome Summer, and to cheer me up - as I sit about the house and
 garden trying hard to behave myself per my surgeon's post-op orders - shining
 brightly is my first lovely hollyhock to bloom. All the way from Gina's fabulous Utah
 garden surrounding her gorgeous farmland/country home, I now have one of her
 flowers to love.

Thank you yet again dear Gina, here's hoping this one will self-seed!  
If you aren't already following Gina be sure to pop over and visit this lovely
 lady/ceramic artist/painter/traveler here at Art and Alfalfa - you will love everything she
 shares from her beautiful corner of the country.

A very happy Summertime to each of you.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Happy Place. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Things are going well so far although you won't be seeing any photos of me for a while - it's called vanity!
My incision is healing under the glue, but it will be a long while before it becomes just a faded scar. It will also be a couple of weeks before I'm even permitted to have anything cover my throat, such as a high necked top, or even a lightweight scarf. . . . . .my collection sits waiting in the drawer. . . . .meanwhile v-necked tops are being utilized.

Anesthesia is always strange. Prior to the disappearance of life around you within a few seconds, then a strange voice shouting in your ear, "Mary, wake up", hours have passed in which you have gone some place else. For me three and half hours 'under' brought changes in the world I will never know about.

This morning, sitting here in the gazebo, my 'happy place', I'm so very thankful for the excellent care I received in the hospital. 
Yesterday was a difficult day, I just didn't feel right. I'm on a lot of new meds, and I can only eat soft foods because my throat is sore and swallowing somewhat difficult. Yogurt and oatmeal are good but now I'm craving a fresh salad and some crunchy toast.

Yesterday, late afternoon, the call came with very good news - pathology report showed no sign of cancer in my thyroid or the five nodules. Thankful doesn't seem a strong enough word but that's what I am. When one is already a cancer survivor anything suspect always brings on worry and concern until given the all clear.

So here I am, still in my pjs and robe - it's allowed this week - listening to beautiful birdsong and Irish music at the same time!

I took these photos of my little garden in the morning sunlight, with a
 gentle breeze rustling through the trees, perfect temperature and no humidity!
Full of thanks? You bet I am. 

I loathe narcissism, but approve of vanity. . . . . . . Diana Vreeland

Again, thank you so much for all your good wishes. 
You, my blog friends, are the best friends, and I love you all.