5 thoughts on downsizing & moving

I thought I’d never sell our house. We live in a great place and have put in a lot of sweat equity to make it the way we like it. But we are moving to San Diego so we can kayak every day. We stayed there for a month in April and loved it, even including living in tight quarters.img_20190411_215137_7171373860904659720119.jpg

I almost can’t believe I’m doing it, but it has been a process of exploring this idea. To my surprise I’ve come to the point that I’m not only willing but excited to move. Here are five reasons that weighed in favor of making this move.

  1. A house is a lot to take care of and that maintenance time instead could be going into fun activities we enjoy together.
  2. Less maintenance, more time writing.
  3. A community with a lot of retirees where it’s easy to make friends.
  4. We’ll be closer to our son and daughter-in-law.
  5. Lots of outdoor activity, better health and hopefully a longer life!

How about you? Have you moved after retirement or do you plan to? Know any friends who’ve  moved?

Carrowmore, Neolithic relics, and Yeats in Sligo

Carrowmore is old, 4,000 – 3,000 BC, but one of the tombs probably dates back to 5,400 to 4,600 BC. As part of the Neolithic Stone Age, we know people farmed, and we also know they had burial rituals.

This picture is a little out of focus, but it gives you an idea of what the experts think the burial rites might have been. There is evidence of pottery, tools, and bone rings from walrus tusks.

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These are passage tombs. Here is a close up of the little figures showing a dramatization of what might have been their rituals. I always think of tombs being for old people, but of course infant mortality must have been high, and maybe their rituals helped them find some purpose in their loss.

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The museum display humanizes the site before going out into the rain to look at rocks. The grass was long and soaked our sneakers at the start of a long day of driving and sight seeing. I’m so glad we did it though.

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What are cold feet compared to seeing what people were doing five to seven thousand years ago?

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Before we headed out to Carrowmore, we had made a quick stop at Lough Gill. It was pretty and peaceful, at least until a couple men showed up with barking dogs off-leash. Before that, I felt transported to my philosophical youth when Yeats’ poetry thrilled me so much. And I had my hand-knit wool sweater from the Aran Islands to keep me warm.

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By the shore of Lough Gill, County Sligo, Ireland.
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Reeds in the shallow waters of Lough Gill, near the Isle of Innisfree, immortalized by William Butler Yeats

I found the whole area mystical, and if I have one regret about the trip it’s that we didn’t spend three days in Sligo. Here’s a photo of the town, which was beautiful and had nice restaurants beside the river.

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I want to go back, but I never will. Even though I was lucky to get to go once, it’s still strange to think I’ll never return. That is life; it is finite even for those of us who live in this time with our longer lifespans (compared to stone age lifespans). Even though we all like to say “Next time,” with a laugh, we all know there won’t be a next time. Travel is intense and fleeting.

I’m actually writing a novel about that among other things. Back to it!

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

Irish and Scottish Archaeology, a deeper look

When I was a kid I glazed over when viewing a sociology and archaeology text books showing the remains of ancient civilizations. I thought it was boring. But no more. Traveling inspires me to learn and seeing ruins in person is exciting.

In Dublin, our first stop on the trip, I wanted a little orientation to the ancient sites we would be seeing on our journey, so we walked over to the famed Archaeology site of the National Museum of Ireland.

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Immediately upon entry you are presented with the earliest relics, stone tools discovered from the paleolithic period, the earliest stone age.

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1. Flint Hand Axe Dun Aonghasa, Inishmore, (Dun Aengus, on the Aran Islands), County Galway 400,000-100,000 BC. 2. Flint Flake Mell, County Louth, 400,000-100,000 BCA

Wow, that’s old. This is not boring. My excitement at getting to see sites of early humans was growing. Here they are starting to use tools. Later, we would make it to Dun Aengus where we didn’t see such ancient relics but did get to see the approximate iron-age (circa 600 – 200 BC) hilltop fort.

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Dun Aengus, Aran Islands, Ireland. Iron Age fort circa 600 – 200 BC.

Here’s information about the Paleolithic Period.

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The earliest stage of the Stone Age – the Paleolithic – began with the emergence of humankind and the use of stone tools more than one million years ago. It covered most of the last great Ice Age until the final retreat of the ice sheets around twelve thousand BC. During part of the last Ice Age human groups could have settled in parts of Munster, but no material comparable to the Paleolithic settlements of Britain and mainland Europe has so far been discovered. Three objects of Paleolithic Age which may date between three hundred thousand and four hundred thousand BC have been found in Ireland but there is no certainty that they represent evidence of human settlement here. A flint flake from Mel, County Louth, found in glacial gravel, is thought to have been transported to Ireland by moving ice during the Ice Age. A hand-axe from Coolalisheen, County Cork, found two-feet down in a garden, resembles hand-axes found in southern Britain. This object and the second hand-axe from Dun Aonghasa, a large promontory fort on Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, may have been brought to Ireland in recent times.

I especially love the paleo period, it’s so elemental without a lot of social structure and belief systems, or maybe none, just the struggle to survive and getting better at it by turning rocks into tools. However it looked like we weren’t going to see a lot of Paleolithic relics in Ireland.

After that was the Mesolithic era.

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In 2006, at the edge of a raised bog in Clowanstown Co. Meath, four conical fish traps were excavated. Organic Mesolithic artifacts like these are exceptionally rare in Ireland and, due to their fragile nature, a large-scale conservation project was undertaken. Although flattened when found, the traps retained a distinctive V-shape with evidence for constrictions at the open ends. Slender rods and twisted wefts of alder, birch and rosewood were woven together using an open-twined technique. The traps would originally have been positioned on the bed of a small lake adjacent to a mooring or walkway. Also found at the site was a possible model boat made from a pomaceous fruitwood such as apple, pear or hawthorn, dating to between c 5300-5050 BC, and a number of lithics.

The most important period for this trip was the Neolithic era because this was the timeframe of the relics and ruins we visited.

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Neolithic settlement (3700 – 2500 BC): Neolithic settlements in Ireland were adapted to the mild but moist climate of the time. Family units lived in rectangular houses and practiced mixed farming. The walls of the houses were constructed of split oak timbers set in trenches and held in position with small stones. These houses were used for a short period, perhaps a single generation. Remains of wheat, barley, sloes, blackberries, crab-apples and hazelnuts have been found and bones of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs also survive. Household goods included undecorated, often shouldered, pottery bowls used for storage and cooking. Small tools of land such as arrowheads, blades, knives and scrapers were in use for a range of functions well-polished stone axes and adzes were in use to clear woodlands for and for carpentry.

People began to farm in the Neolithic stone age, and they have left behind ruins of their civilizations. Here are some the impressive passage tombs of Carrowmore in Sligo County, which are dated to 3700-2900 BC.

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A Neolithic tomb at Carrowmore, Sligo County, Ireland

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Another monument at Carrowmore

This is going to have to be continued because I wanted to get this posted, and it’s going to take a while to work through all of this archaeology. And I know you don’t have much time to read either! Have a great week.

 

Meaning

I condemn the brutal attack on innocent human beings in New Zealand. Those who seek a few laughs and approval from their like-minded invisible audiences on social media are empty. Their violence against those who seek meaning through their spirituality and rigorous devotion to a higher calling is horrifying, an affront to humanity, and a heartbreaking tragedy, but it does not create meaning, nor does it obviate the meaning of their victims or their lives.

Acts of violence and hatred are meaningless, and the perpetrators are the manifestation of the lowest levels of human nature. Those who strive to be more, to create meaning through devotion to spirituality, knowledge, rightness, kindness, art, family or community are the manifestations of the highest levels of human nature. It is to these human beings, they are not just victims, they have lived honorably, and it is to them and to their ideals, that I devote my attention.

Update and photo

I’m working on what has turned out to be a long and complicated post, and I’m also finishing my first draft, so it’s taking a while to finish that post. I thought in the meantime I’d share a photo from recent adventures.

I snapped this with my phone while on break from some volunteer work I did at a ski race in Alpine Meadows.

I haven’t been skiing this year, and this day went from sunny to stormy. I was reminded just how cold skiing can be! But during the break between the two runs, I had a chance to take a picture. Then Google stylized it for me, so it’s a little more intense than in real life, but I kind of liked it and hope you do too.

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Yarrow’s Archaeological Trail and the Angry Farmer

Yarrow’s is a trail of multiple brochs, including a fascinating one that is half underwater. We parked and studied the map in the parking lot then stared around us at a loss. Nothing was as depicted. We walked up the road where we noticed, lower down the slope and off to the right, a rundown farmhouse with a sloped corrugated tin roof. A few dark windows made it look lifeless or like someone was watching us. It was creepy.

To the left was was a gate, unlocked, and we went through it, climbing through a very rough field past some sheep and horses.P1200298P1200317

We arrived at the amazing half submerged broch.

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The ruins are the stone foundations of what is thought once to have been tall wood and thatch structures. The stone foundations show how the neolithic people lived, with multiple rooms, sleeping areas, a central fireplace. And the people reused their refuse, shells and so on, in other ways. Quite sustainable and cooperative!P1200299Next we tried to climb to the top of a ridge on the other side of the road, but the ground was broken into large chunks as though a herd of horses or cows had been driven over it after a rain. It was impossible to walk over it, so the three brochs up there remained out of reach.

We figured the farmer was forced to preserve the historic sites and let visitors onto his land to looked at them, but they couldn’t be forced to make it easy!

We left, grateful for seeing the best broch and thinking about how all these ruins are national treasures or a big pain in the neck, depending on your situation. How they are preserved and shared and the impact of tourism on today’s farmers as well as on the sites would seem a bit complicated. Of course more funding would make a huge difference, and I hope that comes about, so all the remains can be preserved formally with support for the local farmers too.