Wednesday Wisdom (3.23)

flowers next to boulder, blue sky

My desire
is always the same; wherever Life
deposits me:
I want to stick my toe
& soon my whole body
into the water.
I want to shake out a fat broom
& sweep dried leaves
bruised blossoms
dead insects
& dust.
I want to grow
something.
It seems impossible that desire
can sometimes transform into devotion;
but this has happened.
And that is how I’ve survived:
how the hole
I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart
to fill it.

Desire
~ Alice Walker

Sunday Photo: Dream or Not???

My brother and I have been on a mission for the past year or so to scan all of the family photos, papers, and other worthwhile odds and ends. He scans, I sort (I feel I may have gotten the wrong end of this deal somehow). I thought we were making good progress until I found the storage tub full of photos on my last trip home…yeah. Anyway, while I was sorting through the latest round of scans I found this photo – clear evidence that this macabre interest of mine in cemeteries and supernatural goes back further than I realized!

Fifth grade poetry

From the local paper (I blame them for the “misprint”)

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy [Days]

This week’s photo challenge is all about setting the mood to dreamy. I’ve already used my all time favorite dreamy photo on here, so I’ll go with something a bit different today. Since I’m currently in Alabama, I thought I would draw my inspiration from what, in truth, feels like dreamy days. It’s so nice to be somewhere you feel safe and quiet.

Alabama, foggy morning, horse

A dreamy, foggy morning

I left you in the morning
And in the morning glow
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.
Do you know me in the gloaming,
Gaunt and dusty grey with roaming?
Are you dumb because you know me not,
Or dumb because you know?

All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
They are yours, and be the measure
Of their worth for you to treasure,
The measure of the little while
That I’ve been long away.
(Flower-gathering / Frost)

Alabama, wooded path

This path is where I set all my fairy tales; and where I walk in my dreams…

Happy weekend everyone!!

Travel Tuesday: Oban

Happy Travel Tuesday everyone! I love when these days roll around and I can go blog hopping! (smile)

Oban, Scotland, UK

Oban, Scotland

The next stop on our little Scotland mini-tour is Oban (emphasis on the O, so it sounds something like “O-ben” when you say it) and a little bit of the surrounding countryside. Oban is on the west coast of Scotland just south of Fort William, and is known as the seafood capital of Scotland (a well-deserved title I might add).

We stayed at the Columba Hotel right along the waterfront, which was a perfect location in the heart of the city. Our room faced out over the city and we had great views of McCaig’s Tower, which is all lit up at night. I have no complaints about the room, which was quite spacious, or the staff, who were all quite nice. I will say that we had troubles with the wifi (I think they only have one router for the hotel – common but slightly annoying) and the breakfast (which was included in the room cost) left a bit to be desired. It was quite obvious that they were in their “down time,” as they were short-staffed and encouraged diners to go to the adjoining pub for all other meals. The pub was okay, but not exactly quiet. My only personal complaint was the elevator. I mean I suppose I shouldn’t really complain – at least they had one – but it was one of those deals where you have to close two doors and it only fits 2 people max…Yeah, I took the stairs. We saw a ton of B&Bs in town (most of which weren’t open in November sadly), so I think I’d go that route next time if the season was right.

We spent most of our days mosey-ing about the surrounding countryside, but we did see quite a bit of Oban’s nightlife. We were even in town for their annual Christmas festival, which consists of a parade and some fun rides scattered around the area – very festive!

One of the evenings, we booked a reservation at The Seafood Temple. If you read any of the reviews on this place you’ll quickly learn just how appropriate that name really is! I myself am not a huge seafood fan. I mostly stick with shellfish, venturing into fishy territory on occasion, but given that we were in the country’s seafood capital, I thought it appropriate to give this place a try. The restaurant is tiny, seating somewhere around 20 people max in my estimation. There are two dinner services each night – one early, one later – and reservations are a necessity. The menu changes each night depending on what came in off the boats that day, so you know everything is fresh. And if there’s a place you want to indulge, this is it! There’s an excellent wine menu and the staff were super friendly and helpful. My brother got started with scallops and had the surf and turf as his main. I started with crab claws and moved on to baked sole. We finished the whole thing off with a nice warm lemon sponge (we were technically celebrating my birthday after all – smile). You guys…this was possibly the best meal of my life to date. If not the best, it’s certainly close. And it was seafood!! I was completely blown away by just how good everything was! I’ll just put it like this – worth it.

To walk off a bit of dinner we went up to McCaig’s Tower to check out the light show and to see the views. It’s an interesting monument – sort of like a replica of the Colosseum in Rome. It’s situated above the city on Battery Hill and has spectacular views. Built around 1900 by John Stuart McCaig, the monument was meant to provide work for local stonemason’s and as a lasting memorial to the McCaig family. If you walk up the hill be forewarned that it is a hike; but the views and neighborhoods make it interesting enough to be worthwhile (smile).

As I mentioned earlier, we spent quite a bit of our days exploring the surrounding countryside. There are plenty of castles, monuments, and other lovely mysteries within minutes of Oban, but I think I’ll leave those for their own posts (smile). So I’ll leave you now with some country shots to hold you til next week…

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Come join the fun!!

Travel Tuesday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

This week’s Photo Challenge is to focus on an Object for inspiration and subject. I have to say I honestly found it a little overwhelming trying to choose which object to go with! In the end, this is the one that appealed to me the most, so that’s what I’m going with (smile). Happy Friday everyone!!

seashell, seaweed, Oban, Scotland

Abandoned Shell

Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing me a song, O Please!
A song of ships, and sailor men,
And parrots, and tropical trees,
Of islands lost in the Spanish Main
Which no man ever may find again,
Of fishes and corals under the waves,
And seahorses stabled in great green caves.
Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing of the things you know so well.

~Amy Lowell

Travel Tuesday: Rosslyn Chapel

It’s my favorite (blogging) day of the week – Travel Tuesday hosted by the lovely Bonnie Rose. This week I thought I’d share some photos from my trip(s) to Rosslyn Chapel just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.

I’ve been here twice, both times as kind of an opportunity to get used to driving on the other side of the road before venturing into the city proper (smile). During the first visit, there were major restoration efforts underway which equated to a lot of scaffolding. While I was initially bummed about this, we were able to climb up into the scaffolding, which presented some amazing views and different perspectives. I was also able to take some inside photos (which are now prohibited). The second trip featured a newly updated visitor center and a scaffold-free view. Both were amazing (smile).

Rosslyn Chapel is only a short trip outside of Edinburgh and easily accessible by car or by bus. Most people probably recognize the name from Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code as it was featured in both the book and the movie. The Chapel does have a long, storied history and I strongly recommend catching the tour if possible. If that’s not your thing, there are laminated tour cards that help you pick out the highlights inside.

Outside is the cemetery, which is well worth a walk around. I’ve recently realized I seem to have a thing for cemeteries, but what can I say? I think it’s a neat way to observe history and they’re (normally) pretty peaceful places (smile). There is a couple of different footpaths you can travel along for views and adventures if you’re so inclined (all worthwhile I might add).

I apologize in advance, but I’m going to be lazy and let today be more of a photo post. If you’re interested in further information, I highly recommend Rosslyn Chapel’s website here.

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Anywhere But Here

Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you want/need/must go somewhere/anywhere and that if you don’t you just might have one of these moments:


I call it the “anywhere-but-here” syndrome. And I, ladies and gentlemen, have it bad. I always have. I can say that there have been brief periods of remission, but then just as I get somewhat content in where I am, it flares up again and I feel like my wanderlust is ruling my life. Even as a child I had a wandering heart; I dreamed of the day I would be able to be wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. Oh the joys and naiveté of youth…

Huntington Beach, California, Sunset, Ocean

Usually I can keep it at bay through small changes – a new apartment, a weekend trip, a bigger trip. I completed all of the above last year and barely made it through the year. This anywhere-but-here flare has hit with a vengeance.

I have been based in Phoenix, Arizona for 5 ½ years now – longer than I have stayed in any one place since I left my dad’s house. I really loved it when I first got here, and it’s not that I don’t love this city now. But like any relationship, sometimes love runs its course and although I love Phoenix, I’m not in love with Phoenix anymore. The anywhere-but-here has crept back into my thoughts as it usually does – gradually then suddenly.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, Sunset

The problem? Life is so much harder to uproot these days – I have a lease, a job, friends, and a few people I seriously consider family.  I have loans that must be paid and responsibilities that must be handled. The thing about anywhere-but-here is that after a while I don’t care about any of these things. All things can be shifted around to accommodate change. I don’t know if that’s a good lesson to have learned, at least not in relation to this particular issue.

The tempering factor this time around revolves mostly around fear. Fear of the consequences (which I have learned all too well during previous moves) and fear that if I can’t make something this stable work, I’ll never find peace no matter where I go. If I move now, it will be one of the most difficult breaks I’ve ever had to deal with – but I’m beginning to care less and less. Change is coming, for better or for worse, and I grow increasingly excited about the possibilities (smile).

Scotland, Sunset, Tree

Beyond the east the sunrise; Beyond the west the sea
And East and West the Wander-Thirst that will not let me be;
It works in me like madness to bid me say goodbye,
For the seas call, and the stars call, and oh! The call of the sky!

I know not where the white road runs, nor what the blue hills are,
But a man can have the sun for friend, and for his guide, a star;
And there’s no end to voyaging when once the voice is heard,
For the rivers call, and the road calls, and oh! The call of a bird!

Yonder the long horizon lies, and there by night and day
The old ships draw to home again, the young ships sail away
And come I may, but go I must, and if men ask you why,
You may put the blame on the stars and the sun,
And the white road and the sky.

~Gerald Gould

Weekly Photo Challenge: One [Lucky] Duck

Kilchurn, Castle, Scotland, UK, duck

Kilchurn Castle, Scotland

You guys, this…this is by far my favorite photo from the Scotland adventure of 2013. My brother and I had decided to explore the area around Oban for the day, leaving any stops up to chance and/or whim. I saw something about this castle in a review somewhere, but it was nowhere to be found on a map; so I just figured we’d find it if we found it. Luckily we happened by it – and at just the right time! We had to cross a boggy bit of land to get to the shore, but I found the wet feet to be worthwhile (smile). As we were getting ready to head back to the car, this little guy paddled over from another shore. Despite his disappointment at our lack of snacks, he obliged the camera for a while.

I feel like this one duck makes this photo. He’s a less obvious focal point in an incredibly picturesque setting and I think that really makes the photo that more interesting. (The rest, just by the way, has only been photoshopped to remove a bright orange buoy on the dock – everything else is as it was).

As we made our way to the car, a group of other people arrived. I count my travel karma blessings that we were able to experience this view and this moment in such peace and good company (smile).

Y*mmy: Lemon Bars

Two Y*MMY posts in a row?! Yep, tis the season after all (smile). Today I thought I would share a little something to help cut some of the sweet and add a little tart – enter the best lemon bars ever. Seriously.

Ingredients

For the Crust:
Vegetable oil or spray, for greasing
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced (cold)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon grated zest (lemon and orange)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (approx 6-8 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (approx 1 large orange)

Directions 

Make the crust: Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with vegetable oil or spray and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; grease the foil with oil/spray.

Pulse the butter, flour, both sugars, and the salt in a food processor until the butter is incorporated. (Side note, you can also “cut in” the butter to the dry ingredients if you don’t have a food processor. The consistency will be a dense flour with “butter BBs.”) Press evenly into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks. Bake until the crust is golden, about 22-25 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F.

Make the filling: Whisk the whole eggs and yolks with the sugar and flour in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in the zest and juice. Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, approximately 30-35 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Life out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

*Note that this recipe is an adaptation of the one found here along with some tips and tricks from comments and other recipes altogether.

**You can go with only lemon and leave off the orange, but I find it takes just enough of the bite out of the lemon to be pleasant. You can add more or less orange depending upon preference. I hear grapefruit also works well in these!