One day not so long ago I had the good fortune occupy a little spot on the northwest coast of Wales. The closest village is called Dyffryn Ardudwy.
I knew nothing about the language though I did learn a scant bit while I was there. The problem with trying to learn and speak Welsh is most people in Wales speak English far better than I could ever speak Welsh. It's just more convenient to speak in English. I was pleased however, to hear quite a few people speaking Welsh (Cymraeg) in Wales (Cymru).
I had to ask myself why the English term for Cymru is Wales. I thought the answer was interesting. Wales is derived from the Old English term for "foreigner or stranger" and Cymru is derived from the Welsh word meaning "fellow-countrymen". I guess it all has to do with perspective - ain't that a hoot.
Our little hideout in Wales was wonderful bolt-hole called Gegin-Faeldre on an 18th century working farm. When we arrived and met the owner she told us that their family was on their way to a sheep shearing contest for charity. There were lots of sheep and cattle on acres and acres or land. There are more sheep per acre there than I had ever seen in my life.
As it happens the left coast is efficient at some things and not so efficient at others. The wifi at our little cottage was all but non-existent. If you could catch a signal you'd be lucky if it could catch you back. It was a constant chase which made it difficult to connect to t'internet.
That lack of connectivity gave us a bit of a tech holiday. If your video entertainment is normally provided by Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon Prime, you might, as we did, have to get used to a terrestrial television for a little while. We were not so much weened off the internet as cut off cold turkey.
We had wonderful walks and saw some amazing things like a beach that must have been 10 miles long with hardly a soul to be seen, took a ride to the top of Snowdon Mountain on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, descended into the dark caverns of an old slate mine, and visited a small place called Portmeirion. The sights were amazing. It was like having your very own little piece of heaven (if anyone really knows what that looks like).
For the most part, we had beautiful weather. However, one day we experienced what is arguably what Wales does best. Wales is very efficient at combining of hydrogen and oxygen . Two from column A and one from column B. This sometimes manifests itself in gorgeous sunsets, beautiful big pillowy clouds, a chill in the air and a great reason to hold up in by a dry and comfortable fire. This day the rain decided to set in and make itself at home. Long walks in the rain do not make me happy so we found something better to do.
Only a 10 mile ride from Harlech, we hopped in the car and careened down the road. to visit an old castle. Some roads in Wales, much like the rest of this island Kingdom lack sufficient girth to carry two cars operating in opposite directions. The verges are blocked by stone walls or precipitous drops. Maximum attention needs to be employed at all times. You never know when a car will come speeding (and I really mean speeding) around a corner and presuming the right of way. It's often a gut twisting drive that's made more harrowing when the passenger yells something like "Watch It!" or "Look Out!" or "Oh My God That Was Close" or my personal favorite - "Aaaaaaaaaghhhhhh". A scream that would make "The Scream Queen" - Jamie Lee Curtis proud (Check out the original Halloween movie) .
Once we navigated ourselves up a steep narrow road we found a place to park and walked to the Castle. We walked all over the castle's parapets and climbed a very narrow staircase to the top of one of the towers. The view was great you could see Barmouth to Snowdon Mountain. The castle was built in the 13th century by Edward I. From this vantage you could see attackers coming from far and wide. The ruin is not as big as the Tower of London but it does have, I believe, a much better view. Instead of cars, buses, aircraft, the city skyline and ubiquitous cranes and construction equipment. I imagine you can measure the economic strength of London by the number of cranes on the skyline.
All that rambling is to say that I really liked that castle and Wales delivered big time in natural beauty, ancient and near-ancient ruins, and better weather than we could have hoped for. If you have a chance I would recommend that piece of North Wales for great walks, interesting sights, and a really chilled out atmosphere.
In remembrance of our trip I drew this little pic of the castle. I wish you all the very best.
Last September I went to my 40th year high school reunion. It was fabulous because I got to spent some time with a great childhood friend. I loved the time I spent with him and his family over those few days. It was really great to connect again.
One day a while back Rick's better half decided the family would draw hearts together. As I recall everyone in the family had to draw a heart. All of those hearts were framed and put on the wall in the TV room/lounge. I thought it was a great idea.
I wanted to make a contribution to their wall.
Rick: No worries you don't actually have to put it up on the wall..; -)
We don't speak often and I see you even less but there is rarely a day you do not cross my mind. I always wish you the best my friend.
London is a great city with classic architecture. It doesn't matter how many times I go into the city i still have the same reaction. I stand there slack-jawed looking at the buildings and bridges and people. There is tons to do.
One of my favorite buildings in London is St Pancras Station. Opened in 1868 it is a sight to behold. It is the first thing you see when you get off the train at neighboring Kings Cross Station. Kings Cross has been newly remodeled and is a bit impressive itself. However, for me, St Pancras is gorgeous.
When I come into London, seeing St Pancras against the London sky means I've landed. I am in London. It is by no means the only cool thing to see in London but it is something you shouldn't miss if you're ever in town.
Here's my minimalist representation of the station.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - Couldn't have said it better.
We should remember these things. I am very happy to celebrate Independence Day today.
... "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
How many of us are willing to pledge our lives our fortunes and sacred honor. These guys were giving up everything they knew to make something new - something better. What are we willing to sacrifice to make things better for our community, our state or our country?
Today I will gnaw on that question and try to find ways to make things better for now and into the future. We should all think about how we can make things better.
We celebrate these kinds of things so that we remember. Let's remember that we owe it to generations to come to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic. This should not just be a military or political oath (which it is) but it should be the mantra by which we live our days.
Everybody has personal stuff going on. But remember what made this country what it is. People willing to give it all up for an idea that would make things better for everybody.
Nothing says Arizona like a big ole Saguaro Cactus. Their technical name is Carnegiea gigantea and they are gigantea! These monsters can be 40-60 feet tall and have over 25 arms. It is what I equate most with the desert in Arizona.
I did a lot of driving back and forth between the Phoenix area and Prescott Arizona during the month of June. When you drive from the desert surrounding the Phoenix area to the mile-high city of Prescott you can see the Saguaro disappear as you climb. It is a very pretty drive.
When I lived in the Phoenix area a couple of years ago we had a Saguaro in the back yard. Though they can get quite tall the root system on this plant is quite shallow - only a couple of feet. The roots grow more horizontally than vertically. This helps it cover more area horizontally find water. Though quite shallow the wide root system at it's base helps keep it stable.
You will often see newly planted Saguaro artificially propped up on all sides for several years until the plant can extend it's root system wide enough to ground it.
One day we were watching television during a bit of a monsoon rain storm. The 25 foot cactus in our back yard started swaying back and forth with the wind. Finally, the ground got so sopping wet the roots were loosened and the spire came crashing down. That poor cactus had had it. It was broken, battered and bruised. It was not a very happy camper. The injured carcass had to be disassembled with a chainsaw and carried away one chunk at at time.
I won't soon forget that cactus.
I do like the way they look in the landscape. The older cactus are gnarled and twisted and can provide a home to several desert creatures. When you come across a cactus that has been dead for a while the woody skeletal structure of this giant gets exposed. The plants are really quite fascinating.
This cactus makes an entrance in my blog today because, well, I drew it. have a great day.
On July 1, 2017 Canada celebrates 250 years as a nation. I've been reading a bit about it and that is the easiest way to explain it. As with everything political there are differing opinions about exactly what it is and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. Basically, Canada Day is a celebration of being Canadian.
I learned the word "sesquicentennial" this year which is celebrating 150 years of something. I think I had heard the term before but this is the first time it really sunk in to my brain-housing-group.
I was born in Montreal and lived there for the centennial which is celebrating 100 years of something. That was in 1967. It was the year of the Expo in Montreal. I still have the license plate of the car that took us to California in November of that year. I guess you could say that we celebrated the centennial by leaving Canada.
Though the celebration has been going on for some time I paid it little attention. So what has modified my thinking. First, recently we had a family reunion at my brother's house in Maine. Just over 70 Attenboroughs came to that celebration (no year attached). Except for a couple of folks, I think they were all Canadian. Second, just got my brand spanking new Canadian passport. I suppose I am reconnecting with my Canadian-ness a little bit.
July 1st is Canada Day and in a couple of days it will be the fourth of July (Independence Day). I am very glad to be a part of the history of both countries. I celebrate my Canadian relatives and my American relatives. I also celebrate my Canadian-ness and my American-ness. I just like it that way.
Glad to be a part of it all.
I love it when the weekend comes and I get a respite from the weeks work. It seems the list of things that have to be done continues to grow and I continue to want to wind now. I love what I do so it's never really a hardship. I do think the to-do list can get a bit daunting at times. I have to pare back and say no to some things so I can say yes to others.
I'm looking forward to a long weekend and the Fourth of July. Since I am in England at the moment the celebration of the 4th is a little subdued. Though I've some pubs on the High Street advertise specials for the 4th of July - burgers and beer mostly.
So I will have a beer on the 4th and celebrate well.
A couple of years ago I convinced some of my friends that it would be good to have a barbecue on the fourth. We did it and had a great time. No fireworks but a really good time just the same. Burgers and beers and good cheer were had by all.
I am easing into the drawing schedule a little bit at a time. Before you know it I'll be going great guns again.
Onward and upward.
Last month I attended a conference of information professionals in New Orleans. It was exciting reconnecting with colleagues and talking about what they were doing to move their businesses forward. As you can probably tell I have not posted to my blog for a while. I want to let you know why.
I have been beating myself up a little bit for not posting. It's important to remain consistent in any practice. You need to make a habit of it. I realize that it's important to do the things you are passionate about to help make your life fulfilling.
Over the last month I have helped my dad with a major life transition. I absolutely loved the chance to spend time with him. He really is a great guy. I hope that he's pleased with his new digs. I feel much better because I am sure he's it's a much better environment.
I have had some time to breathe and relax . I think I'm about ready to get back at it.
I did this is a drawing at the conference about a month ago. The microphone seemed emblematic of the presentations. I don't know why - It just felt that way to me.
I will keep it simple going forward till I get back in the swing of things. I love to draw and I hope it shows.
Headed out to New Orleans today.
Looking forward to my stay.
This is today's drawing. I hope you enjoy.
Was just thinking about my time in the Corps.
One of the things that I am so grateful for is the can do attitude and discipline the experience instilled in me.
I am grateful for so many things about that time in my life.
But, for now - I haven't got much to say, except - I'm glad I was there.