Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I've been having more fun than allows me to post anything. Busy, busy, busy.

I've started a new blog on wheelbarrows, and here's a photo of an old one next door to the Sirokys (who have three of their own). Ester and I took junk off of it—an old sink, a road sign, a grill made of an oil drum with welded-on-legs—so I could photograph it. I had thought maybe we would set it down, but it had been against that wall so long that it was as mossy as the stones, so we didn't touch it. One of the support members for the axle had fallen, too. I didn't touch that either.

Here are more views of things just around the Siroky's house. If you click one, you'll get a slide show with larger images.

Even their back door is picturesque (where the trashcans are). This house (the minister's house, or manse, of the church which is next door) was built in 1811. The church is a few hundred years older.

Here's the new Wheelbarrow Blog.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


So if the churches had appliance sales and karate schools, where's Jesus appearing?

Two places just this week, in my life:

Oh, wait—that first one is upside down. I'm sure the other is upside down sometimes, too.

Buff Jesus is on the side of a building where many buildings are painted by overnight volunteers, in Stoke's Croft, in Bristol. The other image (Butt Jesus?) was sent to me by my daughter, and is a link, but we don't know where or when this miracle was spotted.

I did go to church in Ashford at the end of last month. And I'm going this Sunday to Kirkhope Church, Ettrickbridge. That's just in case anyone here thought I was a totally disrespectful heathen. I am a reverent heathen.

Redundant Churches

I first saw the term "redundant church" in 1979, and asked around. That was an older building in the same parish or neighborhood, still a church, but not the one most used.

Nowadays in the UK there are many more churches that are not used much, or have been deconsecrated and sold or leased. In Bristol, one is an appliance store. And yesterday we saw this one:

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Vale of the White Horse

"Wantage is a market town and civil parish in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire, England."

Does that sound cool or WHAT!?
We went there. Cathy and Julie Anne Koetsier, James Daniel, Joyce Fetteroll and me. We went there to sit in a Costa coffee house, because we had just climbed up to the white horse for which the vale of the white horse was named.

Alfred the Great was born there. The statue in Winchester (which I also saw with Cathy Koetsier) has a sword. This one has an axe.

That was after the main event though, which was Cathy Koetsier's excellent idea—climbing up to the Uffington White Horse.

It was cool, but steep, and windy, and I felt dismay a couple of times at the steep danger of the grassy hill, and the social danger of me whining or whimpering (which I tried not to do). This is the view from above its head. You can't see the whole horse when you're near it:

Julie Anne Koetsier took this photo of me, Joyce and her mom near the eye.

From the air, the horse looks like this (photo lifted from elsewhere with gratitude):

We also saw the ring fort near the horse. Big earthworks, for guys who were digging with sticks or antlers or... oh wait that's rude. They were iron age guys. With shovels. Digging by hand, this was a big deal. The round area with a big moat is called "Uffington Castle." Nice name. There's still a wall, kind of, though. Let wikipedia tell you the things I don't know.

added 2021: overlay (if it works) of all my photos from that day: (photos)

To get back out of there, click the little "x" in the upper right.

Little bits of England

Strawberries, grown in England, in a very English box:

And at Bella's, the cafe here in Ashford that Julie and James like best, they made an outside eating area, but as it passes through what was not designed to be a beatiful public place (and the cafe is beautifully decorated inside), on the way to the tables in back, there were some unsightly pipes. They've been covered.

Or maybe just covered to match the fence in back, because they covered window bars, too.

I wanted a Jaffa Cake milkshake, but they were out of Jaffa cakes, so I had a chocolate hobnobs shake. Fibre! (Jaffa Cake, next time.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beautiful surroundings

All Coca-Cola machines should be in such beautiful surroundings.

Oh, no... wait.
Perhaps no Coca-Cola machines should be in such beautiful surroundings.

Probably people get used to their own local beauty and notice jarring juxtapositions more when they're exotic. This one was the entryway to a hotel (I think; it was subtle) on the same street as the residence of the President of Portugal. We were on our way to the Carriage Museum and I peeked in to see the staircase. To be fair, I didn't see the coke machine until I was looking at the photos later. I only saw those beautiful stairs and the light fixture and ceiling texture.

Tomb effigy mystery

Why does the Manueline tomb of D. Francisco de Faria, from the 1st half of the 16th century, have a man under his feet holding a pair of stirrups?

Where some have a dog or a lion, there's a guy. Not a happy looking guy.

The tomb is in the open-to-the-sky ruins of the gothic Carmo church (Convento da Ordem do Carmo). My photos aren't totally clear, so I'll link one I found with Google image, too. I can't find any biographical information on the guy. Perhaps if I could read Portuguese it would be there.

I don't have a burning need to know, but I am curious. Did he vanquish a group of foes? Did he win a horse? What's with the stirrups? (I don't figure he stomped on his squire; that wouldn't be nice.)

Another photo:

from this blog post: Museu Arqueológico do Carmo - Lisboa

All I find about him is he was born in 1535 and died in 1580. There is information about another man of the same name but he was born in America living in Flanders, questioned in England **.... NOT the same guy. (Kind of interesting, and maybe related, but that's not my question. I want to know about the effigy.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Phones reading links in tile!

This worked from Bruno's phone. I'll ask him if he saved it, for those who don't have a phone that wil read it, and in case it doesn't work from a photo on a blog.

It was near where these guys were playing, which was near a church we had just toured, which had a shrine to Santo Expedito. Cult of Santo Expedito. People who had benefited from his help brought little brass plaques and they were fastned to the collection box and up behind him. Photography wasn't allowed, but I bought a medal and a magnet. "Expedito." He *might* not really have existed. It was noted that it was a cult. I don't think he's fully church approved.

I can't find an image of that little (very little) shrine, right outside the gift shop. I wish I could.
It was in the Basílica dos Mártires. Later we went to a bigger, much glitzier church called Igreja de São Roque, which was once a Jesuit church but was taken away from them (I don't understand all of the story but I bet it's a good, deep one). That church had reliquaries. That church had more reliquaries with viewing windows and bones and pieces of cloth and unrecognizable bits than I thought existed in the whole world. Photos later, maybe.

Perhaps there could be a phone-readable symbol for more info on Saint Expedito. Maybe the prayers could be texted in. That would REALLY be expeditious.

Oh! I found a virtual altar: ALTAR DE SANTO EXPEDITO, so it's nearly possible.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sanitized for Your Protection

 photo DSC00959.jpg

It was Joyce's idea, and a good one. She wore it all more properly.
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The original had artistic license, and couldn't have been actually done, due to the realities of the weight of some materials and the weakness of others. Also we would have needed a screwdriver.

Sometimes archeologists do get it wrong.

For anyone reading who doesn't know what's being historically-re-enacted here, keep an eye out for the book Motel of the Mysteries. It's about what people know, and why, and how, and the importance of archeology. Or something.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Mattress and roasted pig Pretensioso

Here's some trivia from the last few days.

The mattress I'm using is called "Sultan Elsfjord." One of the shops inside Obidos was called "Ibn Errik Rex."  Two fun amalgamations of languages, both including Moors and Norsemen.

Their "pub sign" was either suede or cloth with the letters cut out, sewn (long ago) around a piece of painted particle board. It looked pretty cool:

One large restaurant (two story with entrances from both levels, because that's how steep the hill is) was called "the Pretentious Restaurant and Bar" ("Restaurant Bar Pretensioso").  It sounds cooler in Portuguese.  Sounds like a Hogwarts spell to make a restaurant snootier.  Or maybe to turn any business into a restaurant and butter-beer establishment.

An older Japanese couple standing near me saw this and reacted pretty strongly.  I have felt the same way about things the Japanese eat.  And, a time or two, the Portuguese.   But this one, as objectively disturbing as it might be internationally, is familiar food to me.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Marta's house

This is Marta's street, Marta's door, Marta's husband Bruno, the entryway and stairs, and the room they've let me use (which is sometimes used by Bruno's teenaged daughter). They're on the second floor, and the apartment is big and modern.



Fast food confusion (and some slow-moving food)

It's interesting to have that ability to read without thinking about it, but to be where they've changed the code...
In the airport shuttle after we landed in Lisbon it said:

I thought of cheese and green chile. Whatever it might really mean didn't matter. It was "LotaCow."

Then yesterday I was shocked on behalf of millions when I saw THIS:

Marta tried (on behalf of other millions) to explain that it only said something harmless like Fri/Sat (which of course I know isn't fried and sat in it) but I rejected all explanation, because that was more fun. Sex in a Saab!? They can't offer that in a drive-through.

So reading isn't really helping me.

And then there's the slow food problem: I saw some old men eating snails. Not like the French eat snails, all daintily eating big snails. This involves a plate with over 100 little snails, and nothing else on the plate, and people don't use little forks and there's no butter. But they were old men. They lived through wars and depressions and a revolution and a recession and they're not going to live much longer anyway. They were in a tiny "snail bar" it seemed. There was beer, and there were plates of snails, and two little tables crowded into a storefront about the size of two little tables.

A few days later, I saw a family sitting at a sidewalk table, and everyone had a plate of snails, even the littlest girl who could hardly see hers, but they were all happy. She didn't seem to know some foreigner had the feeling that her parents didn't really love her, if they would give her a plate of snails. But she did seem pretty excited about having her own snails.

I didn't take pictures of them. They were eating. I didn't know them. And they seemed to be doing something horrible. If they would do that in public, what might they do to some old woman taking their picture!? I just kept walking.

I looked at google image search for a picture kind of like what I might have taken. I might just need to sneak a picture here. Those online are of restaurants, not these little street shops, and their plates are too nice, and their snails are too few, too colorful, too well lit. This one is the closest to the amount and the plainness of presentation:

The snails I saw didn't look this yellow. More... grey.