Saturday, September 7, 2013

Syria, my father, and Wales

and in the places were they are dropped!

I am starting out with a request and a complaint. The Peace & Justice Center is holding regular protests in Courthouse Square, letting the world know that we do not support bombing Syria or anywhere else, for that matter. There is one today, Saturday the 7th, at 5:00. There is one next Friday the 13th (!) at 5:00. There will be an emergency one if Obama bombs - call the Center at 575-8902.

My daughter, Julia, Susan Chunco, Jill Evans, Heidi Fantacone
and others in Courthouse Square

We have had between 50 and 60 people at these protests. Where are all the people who protested before Bush bombed Afghanistan and the even greater number who protested before he bombed Iraq? If you are not out there because this president is a Democrat, I'll be blunt. That is inexcusable. We used to ask how moderate Republicans could remain quiet in the face of Bush and his activities. We used to excoriate them. If you are doing this now for a Democratic president, then you are no different. If you think this guy is so different, then you must assume he will listen. For him to listen, you must say something publicly (sitting behind your computer with online petitions does not count). Please follow your values, not "your" president. Blood was on their hands and it will be on yours if you are silent. Straight up.

And I want to thank the local Progressive Democrats of America - Anna Givens, Alice Chan, and Norman Solomon - for being very clear in their opposition to Obama's plans and for calling out the complicit Democrats in Washington, DC.

Now, if you're willing to continue.....The problem with sending email announcements to subscribers of the blog has been fixed, but things are a little different. It now sends you only ten posts. You used to receive all of them (this is the 52nd post). If you want to go back more than ten posts, you must go to the blog address itself. I like it better on the blog myself because I like the pink background better than the white.

Wine tasting with my father

My father moved from Santa Rosa this week to live with my sister, Janet, and my brother-in-law, Leon, in Maryland. When my mother died last spring, he was sure that he wanted to live alone. He quickly found that he did not. We quickly realized that he should not.

With Ellen

He does not have Alzheimer's, but his memory is going rapidly (before she died, my mother was having a hard time accepting that) and he is increasingly confused. He decided that he had always liked the East Coast best - which I would dispute, but anyway....

With Julia

He did not want to live with me because I'm too extreme. While I think all that Obama does wrong is intentional, my father thinks he is just a bumbler who makes mistakes. And, honestly, I am happy not having to care for him and my sympathy goes out to Janet, Leon, and my father.

With my nephew, Simon, and my niece-in-law, Jessie

So after some wine tasting (he loves going wine tasting) and a party, I sent him off on the red eye the other night. It was tough. There was no line at the security checkpoint and, yet, it took him 20 minutes to get through. He was holding his miniature wirehaired dachshund, Mandy, and looking quite confused through the whole thing.

Last picnic

As I watched him walk slowly down the hall looking for his gate and pulling Mandy along behind him in her carrier, I felt that I should have put a tag on his chest like they do for little kids on field trips. I worried until I heard from Janet the next morning that he had made it just fine. I don't know if I can manage it, but I may try to visit them all at Thanksgiving.

Just a Scottie in Wales

And now back to Wales. We headed to Llangollen, which I think I can pronounce fairly well, but you'd never figure it out by looking. The goal was to climb a steep hill up to Dinas Bran, described in my guide book as "the remnants of an Iron Age fort and the tumbledown ruins of a castle whose history is shrouded in mystery." 

Dinas Bran seen from below

Rebecca had been there before and felt that it was "her" place on earth and she wasn't disappointed by her return visit! Else and I both knew that we might be able to climb up, but our knees were not up to the steep walk down. It was very disappointing because I would love to have gone up there. And when I saw Jerry's fabulous photographs from the top, I knew I'd really missed something.


Horse-drawn barges on the canal

But Llangollen, a rather touristy town, has other attractions (including being the inspiration for Thomas the Tank Engine - a favorite of Andrew's), including a section of canal where you can ride in barges pulled by horses. Else checked in on the treatment of the horses - they only pull barges three times a day for 45 minutes, and the tow line is often slack as the barges glide on their own, and the horses go home to a big field at the end of the day.

Stan pulled our barge

Stan being led along the canal

The canal is a Unesco site. It is 46 miles long and built around 1800. We took the shorter ride and it went past little houses and pretty gardens, passing under trees, and we even saw some "wildlife."

Bunny on the canal

More photos from the canal ride:

Stan and the slack line

I'm a sucker for old bridges

Door to the ticket office

Else and I then went for lunch. The different terminology and methods of ordering at a counter led to quite a bit of confusion. We sometimes wondered if we're speaking the same language. What's a "bap?" A pickle is something different in Britain than in the U.S. We definitely held up the line!

A sign about the Oggie, as opposed to a Bap

British history (like ours) is filled with the exploitation of countries and people for resources. Wales has coal and slate and many men, children, and horses spent most of their lives underground in conditions that seriously shortened their lives. The Oggie is an adaptation to that exploitation. The sign reads: "The traditional crust of the Oggie was designed for miners to hold whilst eating the pastry. This crust would take all the coal dust and grime from the fingers of the miners ensuring the remainder of the pastry was edible. Folklore states that this dirty crust was discarded over the shoulder into the depths of the mine to the cry of "OGGIE" in an attempt to placate evil spirits. Fortunately today you can enjoy all of the Oggie." Note: pastry in Britain doesn't mean the crust, but the entire creation - pie, Oggie, etc.

Colorful building in Llangollen

I love all the heads that ornament British buildings. I took pictures of a lot of them! Here's one in Llangollen. There was a male head on the opposite side of the door. Since most of them are male, I often take pictures of the women.

Building ornamentation

The River Dee flows through town - the same river that begins in Bala by the farmhouse where we stayed and which flows the Chester (where I spent the night after Wales) - and the town is a river sport center, with a lot of rafting, kayaking and canoeing. 

Someone threw a rock at this raft from the bridge
and hit a passenger!

Else and I took a stroll along the river, which used to include a mill (now a restaurant). Part of it is a park.

Shallow side of the River Dee

And there were lots of birds and ducks, of course.

I love this duck!

Sleeping ducks - I love this photo

And, of course, cats.  Though Else took the best photo of this cat, here's mine.

Safe from those of us on the path

After their walk up to Dinas Bran (I repeat, I'm so sorry I couldn't do this!), the group decided to fit in some more sights (we got home a lot later than planned - this is what I was always doing in Paris, too). We went to a portion of the canal that is the highest viaduct in the world.

Canal's viaduct

You can hike along it and kayak or canoe, but this is where the barges end for tourists (but there is another portion for commercial use).

Barge storage

Canoeing on the viaduct

That drop off made me nervous. 

Because it was getting late, we considered not heading to the Valle Crucis Abbey, a Cistercian abbey founded in the 13th century. Good thing we went. It was beautiful - again, I have too many photographs.

Cistercian abbey locations are usually remote and beautiful

We got there too late and the gate was locked. The place is surrounded by a camping site, so we were contenting ourselves with viewing it from the surrounding fields.


But we got lucky and the caretaker had left the key with one of the campers and he let us in. He told us that many people in the area didn't understand the value of preserving the abbey! They're just fine with tearing it down!

I could have spent a long time here

 As I keep saying, I don't care for the religion, but these people knew how to build to inspire. This would have been a good place to sit and write, but that was done at Dinas Bran (maybe some day I'll get to hear some of the writing that came out of that). It's fun to stand in these ruins and reconstruct it in your mind - imagine it soaring up like existing cathedrals and churches - imagine building pillars on top of the bases that remain.

Ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey

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