Today’s Birthday: Miles Dewey Davis III

Miles Davis was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois. Mr. Davis was and remains one of the most important and influential figures in music. He was a trumpet player, bandleader, and composer. I saw him perform twice, once in a huge stadium, the second time from the third row in a small theater. Some concert experiences change the viewer/listener. Miles Davis sure changed me. In his honor and in reverent reference to his Sketches of Spain, I give you the post I wrote after we visited the Mezquita in Córdoba. – Jadi

Uwe’s camera always captures the exquisite details

We began our trip to southern Spain in Granada. When I stood inside Granada’s Cathedral, I suddenly – and very vividly – remembered what and how I’d seen it 40 years earlier. At the Alhambra, my memories were blurry remembrances of running water.

A few days later in Córdoba, I had a further experience with spatial imprinting. We spent a half day in the Mezquita, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The outer wall to the Mezquita, Córdoba
A door to the Mezquita, Córdoba

The Mezquita was first built in the mid-6th century as a Visogoth church, built up in the 780s as The Great Mosque of Córdoba, and finally re-dedicated as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción) in 1236. The Mezquita’s altar incorporates and blends Catholic iconography and design into the original Moorish structure.

The early Muslim prayer hall is filled with rows of arches in colored bands of stone. They seem to stretch into Eternity.

This hypostyle hall (meaning that the roof rests on pillars) contains a grand 856 columns of finest jasper, marble, onyx and granite. These columns are topped with the arches, which are futher topped with more arches.

No, this is not a repeat of the earlier photo. This angle gazes in another direction in the prayer hall

If Granada’s Cathedral is all soaring heights, the Mezquita in Córdoba is an endless repetition of forms. Gaze in any direction and turn your body in a slow circle. The repeating arches always bring the viewer back to the beginning again.

I didn’t know until later that Uwe had photographed me, standing quiet in awed delight

The repeating patterns are beautiful. They’re haunting, too; it’s no accident that what I recall best from my first trip to Andalusia are deeply buried memories of graceful forms in plaster, stone and tiles.

What would I say if you were to ask me to select one thing I remember most after my first visit to the Mezquita as a teenager, all those years ago? I’d say: A sense of wonder.

Islamic architects and artists are masters of geometric decoration. Their patterns’ deeper purpose is to bring visitors and viewers to a sense of another, underlying reality. Maybe it’s just the beauty in the world. Perhaps it’s the presence of God. I’m perfectly fine with either explanation.

The mihrab niche. The Mezquita’s mihrab ((Arabic: محراب‎‎ miḥrāb) is exceptional because it points south rather than southeast and to Mecca

I rediscovered the whimsical and the wondrous as I gazed at repeating, interlocking, intertwined squares, circles, triangles, flowers, tessellations and stars.

Artwork both secular and sacred is woven into every stroke of calligraphy that embellishes gorgeous walls and doorways and niches at both the Alhambra and in Córdoba. The effect is one of standing in a house of mirrors or an echo chamber with lights and patterns extending on and out into Forever.

No single detail stayed. Just… a fleeting glimpse of the Divine.

In memory of Miles Davis, May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991. And how could I highlight this post in any color other than Kind of Blue?

NOTES: Sacred Geometry; Crystalinks; Islamic geometric patterns. © Jadi Campbell 2017. Previously published as Andalusia Memories 3: Cordoba and the Arches of Infinity All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.  Go to my earlier posts to read more about our visit to Andalusia.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, The Trail Back Out and Grounded.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

Ariadne, White Strings, and Labyrinths 2

This is the most-read post I’ve ever written. It concerns wandering souls, and white strings to keep believers in Laos tethered and connected, and a way out of  labyrinths.

I offer you the original on its 5 year anniversary. May your souls stay safe.

Note the white cotton threads

When we visit the temples in Laos, we often see monks tying special white cotton strings to the wrist of a person’s right hand. Sometimes the monk ties connecting strings to whole groups of people. What are they, and what’s the significance? The answer, it turns out, varies in the different regions of Laos (as well as the Sipsong Panna autonomous prefecture of the Tai Lü in the extreme south of Yunnan, China, and Northern and Isan Thai cultures) and depends on time and place….

Full moon Vientiane, Laos

Strings are tied in the Baci ceremony, and the meaning depends on the occasion. Take weddings, for instance. According to an old Laotian legend, the cotton threads are tied to ensure a happy marriage. We each have a tree in the heavenly garden, and that tree has branches intertwined with your predestined partner. When our trees come to this earthly existence, the cotton threads binding them are cut and we’re born separated and alone. If you can find your soul mate again after searching for him or her, at your marriage you are rejoined by retying the thread.

But in Laos, threads are also tied on newborn babies and their mothers [1], or on people going home or departing from home, which explained the many men, women, and children with these bracelets we saw at airports. The ceremony is performed for specific events in a life: success, health (both for the cured and the sick), and annual festivals like the sacred Wax Castle Procession in Vientiane (we witnessed a high number of Baci ceremonies during that time). [2] The ceremony is done after a death, too, to bring back any wandering, missing spirits and reinforce the harmony of the surviving family members.

The entire ceremony is rich is symbolism. The white color means purity, and the strings are believed to bind the 32 kwan, organs or parts to the soul, to prevent them from wandering away. The Baci ceremony is also known by the term su kwan, “calling of the soul”. [3] When kwan wander away from your body, this creates an imbalance in the soul that can lead to illness and bad luck.

Foundation stones are honored

The ceremonies take place in Buddhist temples, but kwan and the Baci ceremony predate Buddhism. [4] I’ve had strings tied to my right wrist in Buddhist and Hindu temples from Thailand to India, but have never taken part in a Baci ceremony. Regardless, a white bracelet should be worn for at least three days. Then the threads can be unknotted or allowed to fall off on their own, but should never be cut.

NOTES: [1] A Baci ceremony for new mothers and their babies is performed to welcome the baby, and to recall any kwan that may have wandered off from the mother during the birth. [2] The Wax Castle Procession falls on an especially auspicious lunar calendar date: the full moon of the seventh lunar month. [3] Concept of Kwan: Kwan are components of the soul but have a more abstract meaning than this. The kwan have been variously described by Westerners as: “vital forces, giving harmony and balance to the body, or part of it”, “the private reality of the body, inherent in the life of men and animals from the moment of their birth,” and simply as “vital breath”. – Pom Outama Khampradith, Bounheng Inversin, and Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith, writing for Lao Heritage Foundation. [4] Check out my posts about the Rocket Festival we saw on our first trip to Laos!

P.S: Baci in Italian means kisses, and it’s an awesome chocolate candy that contains a whole hazelnut at the center.

© Jadi Campbell 2023. Previously published as Laos White String Bracelets: The Baci Ceremony. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

To learn more about kwan and the Baci ceremony: https://www.laos-guide-999.com/baci-ceremony.html

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Ariadne, White Strings, and Labyrinths 1

I’m fascinated by the power of labyrinths. To wind your way back out you must rely on faith – or receive the aide of someone like the princess/priestess Ariadne. She provided Theseus with a thread to guide him out of the labyrinth in Knossos. He killed her brother the Minotaur and then fled Crete with a ship and a crew. Theseus took Ariadne with him, but abandoned her on Naxos. She had powers he couldn’t control and he was afraid.

I’m reminded of Ariadne and her string in the labyrinth each time I am in Laos. People use bracelets of white threads to keep them connected and safe. Before any big life event people go to the temple, and Buddhist priests tether the parts of their soul to place and persons, so the pieces don’t wander away and become lost. Uwe and I have been honored to witness the ceremony each time we’ve gone to Laos.

I wrote a post about the special event that’s read repeatedly, over and over, all around the world. I don’t know what element of this ceremony fascinates my readers so much, but with the exception of just one single month, somebody somewhere has viewed this post since it first published in April 2018.

As of this evening, here are the stats:

Tomorrow I’ll publish the original post again on its 5 year anniversary.

It remains my most viewed post ever.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2023. Previously published as Laos White String Bracelets: The Baci Ceremony. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

To learn more about kwan and the Baci ceremony: https://www.laos-guide-999.com/baci-ceremony.html

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Happy Easter

I’m always delighted to find traditionally painted eggs while traveling. These eggs are from the former Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany. Sometimes they even come with a certificate of authenticity, like the 3 eggs I got in the old castle in Ljubljana!

Eggs are symbols of fertility and rebirth in ancient pagan cultures. As well, the egg shell represents the sealed tomb and the cracking of the egg represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead at Easter.

May we all feel reborn. Happy Easter, everyone.

The brown and white eggs are from Ljubljana Castle. The bear in bunny ears is from Pam and Niko

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2023

 

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Today’s Birthday: Alastair Ian Stewart

Al Stewart was born September 5, 1945 in Glasgow, Scotland. He writes and sings what might best be called historic folk-rock. One of my favorite songs by Al Stewart is 1976’s Year of the CatSome years ago I met my sister Pam in London and took her to Cats for her birthday.

“Jadi!” Pam whispered towards the end of the show. “Why is that prostitute cat climbing a ladder to heaven??” 

“Uh, Pam,” I whispered back. “Think! What has nine lives?”

But back to Year of the Cat…. The lyrics begin like this:

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don’t bother asking for explanations
She’ll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat
Source: LyricFind; Songwriters: Alistair Ian Stewart / Peter John Wood
Year of the Cat lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Carlin America Inc.

***

Songwriting doesn’t get any better than this. In his honor here is the post I wrote about his feline friends. – Jadi

I used to lead a writers’ group. I once compared the job to herding cats and the group loved the description. It became one of my official titles: Jadi Campbell, Herder of Cats.

You want us to do what? Seriously?

Try to herd cats sometime; it simply can’t be done. Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a basket in the middle of a long room. The basket opens up and out pop fifteen cats of all ages and breeds. Can you picture them? Long hair, short hair, Manx, kittens, tomcats, calico, tiger striped, Egyptian, Persian, running, sitting abruptly to wash a paw, tumbling, chasing one another, purring, wandering away in all directions. Now, keeping your eyes closed, try to get those cats to all head in the same direction – the one that YOU want them to go in.

Go away, I’m busy

You will open your eyes and comprehend it is impossible to get a single cat to do what you want them to, much less a clowder of them. [1] Not only that: you start sneezing, because you’ve discovered you’re allergic.

Waiting for the rest of the clowder in Portugal

NOTES: [1] Yet another word to describe a group of cats is a pounce of pussies. Even better is the definition for a group of feral felines: A destruction of wild cats. © Jadi Campbell 2017. Previously published as The Animal Kingdom: A Clowder. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, The Trail Back Out and Grounded.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder + The Towns of Yesteryear

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on  February 7, 1867 in Pepin County, Wisconsin. I read her  Little House in the Big Woods series over and over and over as a little girl. The books told the real-life story of Laura’s childhood. I loved the story of this little girl. Like me, she only had sisters; like me, the family kept moving every few years. Unlike me, Laura and her family were pioneers and settlers in the 1800s.
In her honor I am reprinting a post I wrote about visiting the working open air museum of Old Sturbridge Village. – Jadi

 

Town common
Town Common

We visited Massachusett’s Old Sturbridge Village in the fall, the perfect time to enjoy this open air museum.

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Freeman Farm Sturbridge, Massachusetts, c. 18081725
Freeman Farm
Originally from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, c. 1808

The costumed employees and volunteers at Old Sturbridge harvest the land as the earlier settlers would have.

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Apples, pumpkins and squash had been carefully collected, sometimes in unexpected free spaces. The settlers needed a dry area away from weather and animals, and floor space was a great (and, one hopes, temporary) storage spot.

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Crops needed to be gathered while other jobs still had to be performed.

Printing Office Worcester, Massachusetts, c. 1780
Printing Office
Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, c. 1780

Men and boys set type and did the printing, while women stiched and bound books. Country printers also brought out pamphlets, broadsides, sermons, legal forms, advertisements, and public notices.

Vermont Covered Bridge Dummerston, Vermont, c. 1870
Vermont Covered Bridge
Originally from Dummerston, Vermont, c. 1870

This bridge, one of the 12 remaining in Massachusetts, was saved from demolition to make way for a new highway in 1951. Fewer than 200 covered bridges still stand in New England.

Blacksmith Shop Bolton, Massachusetts, c. 1810
Blacksmith Shop
Originally from Bolton, Massachusetts, c. 1810

Along with shoeing horses and making nails, the village blacksmith (often a town had more than one) produced items of metal needed for everyday life.

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The Fenno House is Sturbridge’s oldest building.

Fenno House Canton, Massachusettts, c. 1725
Fenno House
Originally from Canton, Massachusettts, c. 1725

Artisans on the Old Sturbridge Village grounds make traditional products in the old way. Many are available for sale in the gift shop. [1]

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Old Sturbridge Village was born from the collective vision of a family. The three Wells brothers, Albert B., Joel Cheney, and Channing M. purchased David Wight’s farm with the vision of showing their collection in the context of a working village. The living museum received its first visitors on June 8, 1946. To date more than 21 million adults and children have visited the Village, and 250,000 people visit every year.

Churning butter
And his beard’s real, too!
Anyone care for a johnnycake?
Johnnycake, anyone?

In memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957

NOTES: [1] The ruby red glass flask I purchased there winks at me from the window as I write this. Old Sturbridge Village is also a Site of Conscience © Jadi Campbell 2015. Previously published as New England’s Old Sturbridge Village, Part 2. More of Uwe’s pictures from New England and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Adeline Virginia Woolf + A Room in Latvia

Author Virginia Woolf was born on January 25, 1882 in South Kensington, London, England. Her novels were some of the first to use stream of consciousness, and Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, her circle of family, friends and fellow artists, founded one of the most important movements in modern art and culture.

I’ve read my way through most of her work. Virginia Woolf has a delicious sense of humor (and irony!) and a keen sense of what it is to be a woman and an artist. I’ve reread her slim treatise A Room of One’s Own over and over, throughout my life.

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” Woolf tells us.

Indeed. In her honor, here is the post I wrote about hard lives after visiting an open-air museum in Latvia. – Jadi

Open-air museums are inappropriately named. For many people, Museum + History = Death by Excessive Yawning. Not me! A good open-air museum can transport me into other cultures and the past. I think a better name for such a site is ‘living museum’.

Latvia Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

A favorite open-air museum is Neuhausen ob Eck (amusingly named ‘New Home on the Eck’), located not far from Tuttlingen and Konstanz in southern Germany. In the bee keeper’s house, I learned all about the world of bees. The German language holds bees in special regard. In German, the term for animals is die Bestie or Tiere, beasts. But Germans speak of the Bienenvolk, a hive or literally ‘the bee people’. In the Middle Ages, if the bee keeper died in the night someone was sent to the hives to whisper the news to the bees.

The bee keeper enjoyed a special status. Thanks to his bee family he produced wax candles for light, honey for food, and pollen products for medicine. [1]

Fishing nets, Latvia Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

Outdoor museums can teach with their simplicity. On our trip to Estonia and Latvia, we spent a day at Latvia’s Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on the shore of Lake Jugla. The spot is incredibly atmospheric.

It’s an easy bus ride from the capitol Riga to the museum. Go to my  post The Art of Food and salivate over the delicious meals you can order in Baltic restaurants.

What I learned is that as recently as 100 years ago life here was a different story.

Existence was harsh and hard, like the overcast skies much of the day we visited. [2] Along with simple huts, the site includes windmills.

A store building is filled with dowry chests and traces of Latvia’s long history serving in the Hanseatic League.

My takeaway: How truly thin the veneer of prosperity is. Our sense of progress and the advance of civilization is so recent, and so young. I left grateful for the things I take for granted in my everyday life. In too many places in the world people still live without electricity, running water, or centralized heat.

In memory of Virginia Woolf, 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941

NOTES: [1] Honey-based products never rot. I purchased a propolis salve at Neuhausen over a decade ago; it’s still good. The bee keeper told me the salve can be used on everything from wounds and burns to arthritis and herpes.  [2] For Game of Thrones fans, I kept thinking of the Iron Islands and how craggy-rocks bitter life is there. These Latvian houses would fit the scenes perfectly, except for the fact that Game of Thrones is a fantasy world. Real people lived in the huts as recently as the start of the 20th Century. © Jadi Campbell 2017. Previously published as Death By Yawning. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Consider the Southern Right Whale…

…of South Africa. The Southern right is one weird-looking mammal, more like an alien life form than anything I thought I recognize as being a whale.

Each Southern right whale can be individually identified by the horny growths known as callosities that grow on their heads. Their heads are  much hairier than most whales. And they have TWO blowholes. Who knew? The Internet is a vast place of useless information! *

This sign from an earlier day’s walk shows the Southern Right whale

They spend June – November off the coast of South Africa. When Uwe and I finally got to really travel again, the Garden Route of South Africa in November sounded perfect. Even though there are no gardens, just a lot of spectacular ocean views, and we’d hopefully see migrating whales. (The place-namers must have drunk too much local wine when they named that stretch of territory.)

The town to see whales is Hermanus. We walked from our hotel to the jetty where we’d catch a whale watching boat. The scenery included local art.

Not quite sure what the artist intended, but it’s a pretty cool sculpture

 

Cute, if anatomically questionable

 Out in the bay we spotted fins first.

The closer we got to the pod of 4 whales, the easier it was to spot the callosities.

These were whales?

Looked to me like futuristic submarines rising to the surface

And then one of the whales lifted its head. The Southern Right are baleen whales. They swim with their mouths open, continuously feeding as food filters through the baleen hairs.

You’re looking at a screen of baleen

We left the boat content but still not quite sure what life form we’d just spent a day observing. I had a hard time narrowing down Uwe’s photos of the Southern Right whale for this post! **

I’ll be talking about a close relative of the whale. It is NOT what you think! (heh heh heh) Any guesses?

Stay tuned for the next post.

NOTES: https://www.whaletrail.co.za *For more dubiously useful information, go to these earlier posts to learn what to call groups of whales: The Animal Kingdom: 22 & The Animal Kingdom: 37 **Uwe’s comment: I had a hard time?! He had to decide which to keep out of the more than 500 photos he took that day! ©2023 Jadi Campbell. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

May You find the Castle in the Middle of Nowhere, made of Sand and Magic.

Some twenty years ago I was having a bad visit with my dad. Bad. My thoughts were dark, and my mood was gloomy. I was filled with the kind of despair that only a fight with a family member can give you. Like, stabbing-knives kind of misery. To escape for a few hours Barb and I took our nephew and the canoe out to an island on the lake. We camped on it every summer as children.

We discovered that someone, now decamped and nowhere in sight, had built a magical sandcastle and town. Suddenly the black clouds lifted and I felt as filled with wonder as my nephew Niko.

one of my favorite photos of a young Niko

The paths of the sandcastle town were lined with wild mushroom caps, still fresh and unblemished. Someone made the sandcastle just hours before we got to the island.

Not a soul in sight

My photographs are decades old and pretty grainy. But you can see the sandcastle is truly in the middle of the Adirondacks wilderness (i.e. the middle of nowhere)… Only the shores of Cranberry Lake are all around.

Who built it? What whimsy inspired the person or persons to erect a fairy town on the waterfront of an island that few people ever visit?

The memory of that discovery and its gift of magic in the middle of a very hard place have remained as detailed as every bit of love and care that someone spent building it for us to find.

For those who want to know what happened next: Dad and I resolved our differences and grew closer again. I never found out who built that fairy town. But I still wonder why it appeared in my life at just that point and I remain grateful and filled with wonder that it did.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, WITH MY DEEPEST THANKS TO MY READERS AND FOLLOWERS. MAY THE COMING YEAR BRING ALL OF YOU DISCOVERIES OF SANDCASTLES WHERE YOU EXPECT THEM LEAST AND WHEN YOU NEED THEM MOST.

NOTES: Text and Photos ©2022 Jadi Campbell. The township of Cranberry Lake has a whopping total of 126 inhabitants. Finding a fairy castle and town built on the island there was nothing short of a miracle.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Samuel Leroy Jackson’s Garters

Samuel L. Jackson was born  December 21, 1948 in Washington, D.C. Mr. Jackson is one of the most versatile and talented actors in Hollywood. My personal favorite of his films is 1997’s Jackie Brown; one of his funniest turns on the screen is in the overwrought Snakes on a Plane. In his honor I am reprinting an earlier post I wrote in praise of snakes. – Jadi

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I’ve written elsewhere about how nice my sister Barb’s garden is. [1]

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She and her husband have created a space that invites you to stay and relax. Along with fruit trees and blueberries, garden beds and flowering bushes, there are ceramics made by both Barb and Javier.

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Each time I return, they’ve made it even more beautiful. My recent visit included a new delight: garter snakes have taken up residence!

20160719_115319The garter snake is Massachusetts’ official state snake, and is endemic to most of North America. It’s the most common snake species, and closely related to water snakes, the genus Nerodia.

Garters communicate with and seek one another via pheromones. All garter snakes, regardless of color, have a side and a back stripe. The similarity to the garters men used to wear to hold up their socks gives the snake its name.

Barb has thoughtfully created ceramic dens for the snakes in her yard. They curl in the sun to get warm, and head for spots under rocks when it’s too hot or they feel threatened. Garters are mostly harmless, and seldom attack or strike unless cornered or threatened.

20160719_120109I find snakes fascinating. [2] Sacred snakes were used by the Oracle at Delphi and in ancient Minos. Recall the cobra, who spread its hood to shelter the Buddha. St. Patrick supposedly drove the snakes out of Ireland. [3] On a practical level, the garter snakes in Barb and Javier’s yard will eliminate any pest threat from rodents. (They also eat snails and slugs, common garden problems in the wet Northwest.)

20160719_115338As I admire the yard and go look from time to time for the two snakes I’ve seen in different parts of the garden, I think mostly about the fact that the presence of snakes means the small biosphere of my sister’s home is a healthy one. It’s not a coincidence that garter snakes are often referred to as ‘garden snakes’.

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NOTES: [1] See my earlier post Meet the One-Tracks. [2] Fun science facts: some garter snake species have two-colored tongues. They are ovoviviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. Garter snakes go into something called brumation before mating. [3] Ireland didn’t have snakes….

Text and Photos Copyright ©2016 Jadi Campbell. Previously published as Garden Snakes. Find out more about garter snakes at: snake removal, www.livescience, www.popsci

Uwe’s photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

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