On a transatlantic cruise, an unusual crafter caught my interest. Ann Shaffer had taken up thread basketry to keep her hands busy while traveling. Ordinarily she uses stiffer materials to make Nantucket baskets. My ears pricked at the promise salty heritage, and Nantucket baskets didn’t disappoint. As Ann wove, she told of the men who operated light ships—brightly lit ships that anchored on dangerous shoals to keep passing vessels clear. They passed the time by weaving baskets, a skill settlers had learned from Native Americans. Over time, the lightship men developed a specific style, using a form—a salvaged […]
I’ve been beating the bushes for almost three years searching for audiences willing to listen to me practice my sea talks. Last week I drove to Denver to talk to two people because it’s better than talking to a mirror. So I was seriously blown away to be invited–out of the blue–to speak to a writers’ conference! The attendees (hopefully more than two) are even willing to listen to an excerpt of one of my presentations. I can’t wait to hear what else I have to say. Here’s the link in case you’re interested in attending or can’t quite believe it either: http://pueblowestwriters.wixsite.com/pwwg/conference-information.
Some trees just don’t know when to quit. I have admired the tenacity of trees growing on rock cliffs and the walls of buildings. We sometimes camp beside one that leans far out over a creek that undercut the bank that supported that side of the root system. Tender new roots probe into the tiniest cracks then slowly bulk up to cleave rock and crumble cement. Even metal pipes are no match for thirsty roots. We can’t beat them, and the world will work way better if we join them already. Sign me: Tree Hugger.
We needed souvenirs for ranching men, and what better than knives? But Chinese gift-shopkeepers carried no knives. A knife, given as a gift, would signify the giver’s wish to cut off the friendship. We walked the length of the Jiuzhaigou shopping street, asking for knives at each shop. No one had a knife, but when we walked past those same shops on our way back to the hotel, the sellers met us on the sidewalk to offer knives of all kinds. This one isn’t sturdy enough for ranch work, or much of anything else, and we were skeptical of the […]
We asked half a dozen professional Themopolisians where we should go to watch the eclipse, but much as they tried, we got little help. In the nick of time I pointed out the town’s road maintenance yard and reminded Steve that an Alaskan road maintenance guy had given great advice in another situation. Sure enough, he sent us to a perfect hillside overlooking the valley, no one around but a few horses, a herd of antelope, and a couple of highly compatible locals. When totality commenced we could hear people cheering up and down the valley. How could we have […]
Bucharest is nicknamed Little Paris, and even after the communists demolished scores of historic buildings, the architectural wonders could keep a visitor rubbernecking for years. In Bulgaria the Turks once decreed that no church could be taller than the mosque, so the Orthodox Church started at sub-basement level to allow lofty ceilings. In Bucharest, the communists dealt with soaring church spires by dwarfing them into obscurity with crowds of skyscrapers. Nicolae Ceaușescu tried to dwarf them all. His People’s Palace is the world’s heaviest and second largest building, a beautiful monstrosity of marble, wood carving, crystal, and gilt. Ceaușescu began his career as a reasonable communist dictator. He was popular, criticized […]