As I said yesterday, there are strong female characters in Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones. Eunice, introduced in this short excerpt, is a pivotal character.
Where were they? The homestead and oleander hedges, the blacksmith hut and fences, even Bobby’s cottage no longer stood solidly in their rightful positions. Instead there was just a vast stretch of empty savanna. But that wasn’t all. About twenty meters outside the circle stood a girl.
She was slender as a river reed and pale as alabaster. Long black hair, which somehow seemed even blacker than the darkest hair Mark had ever seen, fell over her shoulders and back. She wore a long gown of some kind of thin brown material that flowed around her even in the still air. Above her wheeled two enormous eagles. Far too big to be wedge-tails or even condors, they circled her in tight patterns. She gestured towards them and they took their leave, spiraling upwards on hot air currents until they vanished in the blue sky.
John and I created this image that we thought captured her mystical character.
Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones is available here:
Hello from the trenches of our big move. It doesn’t need to be said that moving from a house where you’ve lived for 20+ years is a challenge, LOL! One challenge is to find homes for things you aren’t keeping or recycling them when that’s not possible. The process puts the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle into big focus. I’ve learned even more about what our waste service can and cannot recycle.
I get excited when we successfully give something away let alone sell things. Selling is very nice like for our huge relatively new home fitness item. That hasn’t happened yet, but hopefully it will. And note to self, if I ever feel I need something like that again, get it used!
We did however find a home for a 70 year old piano I inherited. Yay! It won’t go to landfill. We’ve scoured the local area to find it a home. A piano is just too big a thing to take to the dump and it would be horrible, it still works!
The thing is I am bad at playing the piano and my husband has perfect pitch and timing so hearing me play is actually painful for him, LOL. If I want to do it in the future, I’ll get an electronic keyboard that has a headset (used).
We have not been exceeding our recycle and garbage allotment each week, so that’s good.
These days it’s all about reuse. I love giving away items at thrift stores and then getting “new” items there which I will keep for awhile then trade back in. It’s a new (used) way to live.
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.
Immediately upon entry you are presented with the earliest relics, stone tools discovered from the paleolithic period, the earliest stone age.
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.
Here’s information about the Paleolithic Period.
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.
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.
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.
A Neolithic tomb at Carrowmore, Sligo County, Ireland
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.
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.
This is what the start of winter looks like in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe.
Plus it’s very cold so the resorts are making snow. The two resorts will be able to open for the huge Thanksgiving holiday week, which is this week. Their work prepared them for the opportunity of early snowfall and cold temperatures, and now there is a huge economic benefit, not just for the resort owners, but for all the employees who rely on the season for their livelihoods. Extending the season in the spring and fall helps stabilize the economy up here. I grew up here and it’s nice to see the doldrums of shoulder seasons shrinking. Nice to see people working.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows prepared over the last years and especially last summer to be ready for snow making. The temperature has to be cold enough to make snow and you have to have a lot of infrastructure to be able to do it. We passed by an installation of electrical lines on the mountain side when we were hiking in Alpine Meadows a month or two ago.
The only huge problem is lack of housing. Somehow economic growth always seems to leave out adequate housing. Hopefully the expansion and development and Squaw Valley will include employee housing. I’m not sure if it does or not. In California we need 3.5 million more homes.
Sorry for the long delay in getting more Australia photos posted. I had to concentrate to finish a novel. The cover is on the blog in the right frame (desktop and tablet) or in the cluster of images at the bottom (on mobile devices).
I worked on STOLEN when we were in Australia, but the setting of the book is another location I have traveled to twice, Monaco. Though it was so long ago I don’t even have pictures, Monaco is a glamorous place that left an indelible impression on me.
Of course the same can be said of Australia. Maybe not the glamour in the same way, but the indelible impression. On this trip we saw different parts, always scratching the surface you know, but pretty much blown away and left wanting more.
Broome, where Cable Beach is located, is an access point for the Kimberley wilderness in Western Australia. We arrived at the Cable Beach Resort, one of the places on my Must See lists, just before sunset. This was not accidental! Actually we were supposed to get there a few hours earlier, but our flight from Darwin was delayed. We were lucky not to miss the famous sunset.
Guests at the Cable Beach Resort were mostly Australians from the south having a beach vacation away from their winter. The Kimberley and Broome are way north, closer to the equator and have a wet and dry season. The season when people visit is Dry which runs, I believe, from May to August.
It was nice to be some of the very few Americans around. I’m not sure why we were, but it’s a long way, and there’s a lot to see in Australia (understatement). I think most foreigners hit Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock). Friends of ours who emigrated from the US to Australia have settled in Western Australia, and they were the ones who told us about the Kimberley.
Anyway, I love tide pools, and I went crazy with my camera at Cable Beach. Here are a ton of photos if you want to see what it’s like. If you can go, I highly recommend it.
I looked for books while I was there and found one in a used bookstore in Fremantle, near Perth. It’s called Tracks by Robyn Davidson. She crossed a massive amount of Australia alone with three camels and her dog. It’s great, a tough non-romanticized view. Parts of it are sad, but I like the knowledge in the book. Our guide also recommended a couple books about the land, animals, and plants that I want to read as well. On this trip, the tours we took made me feel like I’d visited the Australia I imagine from reading my friend’s books about the outback. Australia will be in a book of mine soon, one co-authored with my friend John Holland who provides all the Australiana.
It was amazing to see animals in the wild after having been so recently to the San Diego Zoo.
Here is is the Plumed Whistling Duck we saw in the Kakadu park in Australia. Not a perfect photo, they were far away and suffered camera jiggle, but this is one of my favorite photos anyway. It was just the feeling I had being there among so much bird life. I wasn’t sure if the amazing displays of birds would be present during the dry season, but I wasn’t disappointed.
There was enough water in the Kakadu to see wildlife without being overwhelmed by monsoons (and thrown overboard to swim with crocs). I don’t think they do tours in the wet season, or “The Wet,” as locals call it. Here are some shots showing the environment in The Dry.
As you can see, it’s still not so dry! These are fantastic wetlands. Let’s hope they continue to be because they are vital habitat for almost 300 species of birds.
I hope you have a good Monday, or a good Monday evening for my Australian friends and a good week ahead. I will be continuing to share photos from our mad dash around Australia, so stay tuned!