A Garden of Delights

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Posted on: May 23, 2017

Old cemeteries can be fun…

Oh…  many places—and times!—can’t forget about the very many time periods I just visited these past few weeks.

I thought I might be able to get around to a quick video/photo blog post while I was in England the past near-month, but…  even doing a quick Facebook photo post was often more than I could pull off easily.  Internet things were not the way I’d anticipated they would be in the the UK after over 10 years.  Ten years ago, the internet was spotty, but predictable.  You plugged your phone into the outlets at the hotel and waited most of the night for your photos to make the long journey across the ocean to home.

These days, you could do things faster, but the photos were generally bigger (and I took a LOT more of them) and things were wireless.  The hotels expected most people to have their own cell phones with basic connections, so oddly enough, internet access was even more spotty.  I did have a usable cellphone there with 3G service (as a non-resident, getting service with 4G and tethering/hotspotting was more of a PITA than I wanted to deal with, so our Pokémon Go use was limited to visits in Starbucks and Wetherspoons (what Elizabeth Anne and I affectionately call the Applebee’s of the UK) where we could get The Cloud or BT_Wifi.

I never thought I would miss Google Starbucks, but…  having an 11 year-old with his heart set on capturing a Mr. Mime (he saw one but never got close enough to catch it) brought out how nice it was to have our US wireless setups the way we do.  Of course, I was an idiot and mis-understood when my husband explained to me how our emergency back-up phone was supposed to work, which made this all the worse.  Ting does have a way to use its service overseas and we’d set our son’s phone up as “if we can’t get anything else, we can use this” device.  It seemed a reasonable thing to do for a $5 surcharge for the month.  Thing is…  calls would have been outrageous cost-wise.

First night in London, we went HERE

But…  it seems data wouldn’t have been.  I could have let the Boodle get online once in a while to try capturing the European exclusive Mr. Mime Pokémon.  Thankfully the Boodle said he had a wonderful time despite this (he’s already making plans for our ‘next trip’ and he hasn’t mentioned Pokémon at all, but he has mentioned several castles and historic ruins he wants to see).

I really don’t know how to describe how wonderful (and how frustrating at times) this trip was.  I thought I was going with few expectations, since I knew how different it would be to make this trip with my son after so many years away.  But I did have expectations… as did the Boodle.  They didn’t ruin the trip, but sometimes things were a bit harder because of them.  We  discovered that our interests aren’t as in sync as we’d both have liked (prime examples: the Boodle is quite obsessed with Stratford-upon-Avon and waking up late, while I found Stratford too touristy and wanted to up and out the door early to See All The Things!).

It would easily take as many weeks as we were in England to describe all the amazing things we did and experienced there.  I know my favorite parts, even with all the other parts being so good, were the three visits with fellow writers (fellow ROWer Alberta Ross and fellow WIPpeteers: Kate Frost and Elaine Jeremiah).  But there was also meeting Ann, caretaker of the Witley Court Facebook page and site staff; Marta, site archaeologist at Vindolanda; Issac and Rachel, the boy and his mother we met at Dover Castle and spent and evening playing on gun turrets and playgrounds and finally enjoying dinner with next to the English Channel…

How can one put the awesomeness of this sort of experience into a blog post?

I don’t think I could, and I’m not even going to try.  I will just leave you with one of our final views (well, except for the sushi bar at Heathrow airport) of England…  a view down the pond of St. Jame’s Park in London (we were almost, but not quite to Buckingham Palace when I took this picture) looking toward the Thames, the London Eye and 10 Downing Street.  Next week I’ll talk all about the writing I didn’t do while I was ‘across The Pond’.  😉

As the sights fade away…

 

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Way Out in Left Field

I went to my first ever baseball game last night, opening night for the TriCity Valley Cats, and…  I did it under duress.  Not that I knew I’d have a bad time, or that I didn’t appreciate the skill of the players or any of a number of things…  I don’t hate baseball.  I actually find a lot of things about the sport interesting (though none enough so to make me a fan).

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Two Boodles

It was just…  well, I wasn’t kidding when I said I have been super busy in yesterday’s post.  And all I could do was think of the multitude of things that needed to be done yesterday and how far behind on things I was….

Still, we went.  We had tickets, and we’d promised the Boodle that we’d go to at least one game this year (and this game came with a bunch of fanfare and fireworks so it made for a very full, intense evening).  It was fun.  The lines were insanely long at the concession stands (the register computers were acting up, so people often got their food while being stuck standing in line several minutes more just to pay), but the between inning antics were amusing, and the Boodle made a friend.

On a side note: I also think I’m finally perfecting my ability to take fireworks photos in manual mode.  I’m not quite there yet (I just downloaded the photos, and yeah…  not quite there yet).  It’s hard on this old camera–probably would help if I reduced the quality of the shots from CameraRAW images to JPEGs; just the time the camera takes to write to the Compact Flash card (yes, compact flash; yes, the camera is that old).  Thing is…  I’m trying to figure this out.  And maybe I’ll get there eventually.

And on that note…  I know what I’ll be doing for next week’s First Friday Photo!   The linky is now active (part of the change I decided on this week so we can actually get our photos in by the First Friday).  Don’t worry…  it’ll be open over next weekend end too for people who want to post holiday images.

Come on and join in the fun!

Bosna - modlitba

Last week, if you checked in here you found a lovely piece by my guest blogger, Elaine Stock.  As I noted “Your Inspirations” will run twice a month (1st and 3rd Mondays) and will feature thoughts and inspirations from guests around the web and beyond. I hope you will join me on March 19th for a visit from Mrs. Bongle, whose post about tea and writing inspire me to use language more effectively and gracefully.

Today’s feature revolves around a different style of inspiration.  Books!  Or in this case, book reviews….  As part of my trying to offer a semi-consistent schedule here at the Garden of Delights and to track the progress of my Bookmarks Challenge, I will be alternating book reviews with Your Inspirations (2nd and 4th Mondays).

And for the first installment:
Love Thy Neighbor A personal account of Peter Maass’s experiences as a war correspondent in the Balkans during early 1990s

It’s a catchy title Love They Neighbor: A Story of War, and Maass uses it well, more as admonishment than anything else.  Any story that highlights the tragedy of war and the politics that perpetuate such suffering can quickly fade into what Maass himself refers to as “warporn”, and occasionally a section of the novel pushes that barrier between informative and expressively pornographic.   More so at the beginning of the book where Maass is himself reliving the intensity of the things he saw in Bosnia and the causes of his determination to become a journalist there.  But most often, we are drawn into the human experience that made this conflict.  We see the victims as people with dreams and aspirations as real as our own.

And through Maass’s careful commentary, we see the aggressors in the same compassionate light.

At times Love Thy Neighbor almost pains the readers as much as it informs.  The grief seems so inevitable when read in the beginning of the book, but Maass toys with his readers delicately, introducing historical instances of violence in the Balkans, stories of the extreme cruelty that has erupted in the region over the past 400 years.  Yet,  in the same pages, he speaks of the many years of peace and of the multicultural paradise that had once been Yugoslavia, an in particular the city of Sarajevo.

As a reader I could not question his words from experience here.  My one chance to go travel behind the Iron Curtain before it fell was foolishly squandered in chasing boys and avoiding schoolwork.  As rebellion was slowly fomenting in the East, it was being enacted with even less focus or sense on my own life.  But unlike the chaos that was about to rip apart the lives of hundreds of thousands, mine could be contained through introspection and patience.

Not so for the people of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.  Not in 1992…

English: An exhumed mass grave in Potocari, Bo...I confess I do not like (or agree) with all the political observations that Maass makes in his book.  Granted, we both have very skewed perceptions of the conflict and the external circumstances.  And even more important for the reader, I am neither a historian nor a political scientist (positions  that would allow me to make an educated opinion on why people can be convinced to kill a friend, a neighbor, even a complete stranger just by the manipulation of others).

But my distance has some virtue as well.  I also was not as directly affected by the pain and suffering of good people and friends.  Unlike Maass, I cannot make accusations of insensitivity based on political hopes being squandered because the President didn’t stop Serbia from invading and destroying the “safe zones” of Bosnia.  Maass  blamed Clinton, but he didn’t blame Bush Sr. equally for not seeing the stirrings of excessive nationalism being allowed free rein.  He blamed the Labour Party in England, the French, the appeasers as he calls them…

He’s right…  at least as someone who experienced so much of the diplomatic “we’re a peaceful people” stabs from various figures in Serbia and even Croatia can be.   Maass daily saw the homes of doctors and architects, of farmers and school teachers being destroyed;  he witnessed interment camps where Bosnian Muslims were turned from human beings into skeletons…

Maass, for a few years, lived where Bosnian Muslims were made aware they were Muslims and not Bosnians. …  Where the seeds of the present day Sharia law in the Balkans, and the increased strife in the world between Muslims and Christians and Jews may not have been sown, but were certainly fertilized on the blood of the innocent and peacefully integrated.  Maass saw that pain, and he knew too many of those people as people.  He could not afford to be unbiased.

And sadly, I can.

It’s interesting to note that just after I finished the book, I watched a few Castle episodes this weekend and had similar thoughts to Maass’s closing chapter on how quickly Yugoslavia fell from peace into hell on earth.  Even if you don’t like the show, the (two-part) episodes “Pandora” and “Linchpin” are worth watching…  For those of you who say “It would never happen here”.  Watch it.

And, while it is not a work of “Great Literature” and it is clear that the author has forfeited his journalistic neutrality with joyous delight, Love Thy Neighbor was a wonderful book.  There is enough eloquence and despair and love, to stir the coldest hearts.  But read it with both open eyes and an open heart.

I have a confession to make.  I stood up a dear friend today.  I didn’t mean to.  I was supposed to go over to his house and hang out with the people in his Changling LARP that is being held at his house (at this minute still at 9:45pm).  Instead, I ended up spending the whole evening writing and posting pages here. Read the rest of this entry »

Or really, a new take on an old one….

Short post here.  Just stopped in to say, that some of the things that were really making it difficult to maintain this blog have been bright back into the light, and in doing so, made me realize how much less they bothered me now.  For example: this post, which was my very first one here, somehow caused a lot of grief and heartache at the time.  I actually hid the post for well over a year, intending to someday go back to it.  Since procrastination didn’t help motivate me, Fate decided to act up and take a hand.

I think when we first start a new process–any new process, be it blogging or parenting or schooling or even collecting cat fur–we are fragile.  We feel the need to assure the world of the wisdom of our choices.  Instead of just living (them) as best we can and letting our success (or failures and experience) speak for us, we speak more adamantly of how right this thing we are doing is for us.  We often point out our early successes to others (those tricky achievements on the learning curve where every single thing seems to just work out right: there are no headaches or car repairs or grumpy tellers at the bank) as the reason that this thing isn’t just right for us… but that “Hey, you should do it too!” Read the rest of this entry »

What makes someone an underachiever?

It’s not as simple as throwing a few descriptive terms into the pot and stirring; I know that much. In this recipe everyone has his or her own specialty, a seasoning blend that stands out, marking one as a true “master of the craft”.

Problem is…it gives everyone who tries it indigestion.

This is the first in what may be a series of posts on paths: the ones we choose and the ones we end up on despite all our intentions.  Nothing here is meant as a criticism to those who were involved in deciding my own path and/or helped direct me to where I am now.  If anything, it’s a living testimony that the things that often seem so very terrible when they occur are the exact things we need. Read the rest of this entry »


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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