A WILDFLOWER TRAIL ALONG THE YUBA RIVER

My husband and I drove up to California’s “Gold Country” last week, specifically to hike a trail along Buttermilk Bend on the South Yuba River.

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The dog  scared us by running downslope to swim.  I had visions of throwing myself into the raging water to save him, but he was smart enough to find a pool and avoid the rapids.

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The wildflowers were fantastic – both in the abundance of display and diversity of species.

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For over a mile you could hardly take a step without discovering something.

Even the pipevine swallowtail butterflies were having a field day – they were everywhere.

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March is Readers Month

Greetings Dear Readers –

March is National Reading Month, a time to venerate reading, writing and literacy. One way to participate is to read aloud to children for 15 minutes every day through-out March; this can be the start of an appreciation for literature and an enjoyable habit in the years to come.

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I want to take the opportunity to say thanks to all of you who read my novel and especially to those who took the time to write a review. Your notes and comments from different corners of the world bring me joy.

Pictured in the slide show below are readers from as far away as England and Japan. I’d love to have you be part of my fun Pinterest collection (when you get there, click on “Readers” to see more); if you would like to be included, contact me below (your information is confidential and not stored) and I will “pin” your photo with a book.

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I get a thrill almost every month to see (very) small electronic deposits from Amazon, via Smashwords, or my publisher – however tiny! OK, I’m not making a living as an author, but A Place in the World was published a several years ago and yet someone somewhere is still reading it – I can’t tell you how gratifying that is!

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Truth to tell, I found the publishing and talk circuit grueling (and hence didn’t do near enough of that or other marketing). Thus although I am working on two projects, I’m doing it because “I must”  write, not because I have to publish. Readers (yes You – you have remote power over me) – may make me change my mind .

By way of saying thanks I offer a short story as a pdf to anyone interested this month (well, in case there is a stampede of interest, to the first four people who request it).

It is entitled “Life in A Flash”  and told through the eyes of the younger daughter Sandra Jacinto, chronicles a multicultural, dysfunctional family. The cold experiences in young Sandra’s life are balanced by the warm relationships she embraces later in Latin America.

The story is set primarily in Costa Rica, but also Paris and London.  In spite of an unusual lifestyle, there are universal themes of sibling rivalry and adult-child conflicts; it may especially appeal to Expats, TCKs*  or those who embrace other cultures.  It did win “Honors” in the literary journal “Glimmertrain.” (Contact me here at https://cindamackinnon.wordpress.com/about/)

Keep reading – so many books so little time!

Kind regards, Cinda MacKinnon

 

*TCKs= third culture kids.  The term was coined for children who grow up in places other than their parents’ homeland; the first culture refers to the country from which the parents originated, the second culture refers to the cultures in which the family resides, and the third culture refers to the amalgamation of these cultures. There are many TCKs these days!

 

 

 

15th Century Doors

This photo post is inspired by photographer Norm Frampton who has a regular feature on his blog call #Thursday Doors. Below are two ancient doors found in the historic King’s Manor at the University of York in northern England.

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A beautiful, if crumbling façade of an entrance to King’s Manor.

 

The remaining building dates from the 15th century and began as the Abbot’s House.  It survived the dissolution of the monasteries, although the adjacent St Mary’s Abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII. King’s Manor houses the departments of Archeology and appropriately, Medieval Studies (but not Renaissance studies?).

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Entrance Door to the Centre for Medieval Studies.

 

What better place to study the Medieval period than in the City of York which boasts incredible medieval architecture (see previous blog: historical-york-england).

A Pair of Ancient Doors

This photo post is inspired by photographer Norm Frampton who has a regular feature on his blog called  #Thursday Doors.  It hadn’t occurred to me previously that other people were as taken by doorways as I am; they can be interesting.

Stone dogs guard the entrance

I  came across this handsome entry way (above) in a small town east of Gloucester, England. I wish I knew more of its story to tell you.  It shall remain a mystery ( unless one of you out in the world happens to recognize it).

Below is the doorway to Schola Moralis Philosophiae (School of Moral Philosophy) at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford – not the main entrance of course.

Oxford University

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest in Europe.  Oxford University itself dates from at least the 12th century. The magnificent architecture of the colleges include some of the more ancient buildings  along with those from subsequent centuries.

 

The Cotswold Region

I have always wanted to visit the Cotswolds and see the gardens, cobblestones and thatched roof cottages. We did one better – we rented an enchanting cottage that must have been built 200 years ago.

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Orchard Cottage

The beams were all rough cut, the ceilings and upper floor sagged – all adding to its rustic charm. Turns out Graham Greene lived here in the 1930’s.  (We rented through Honeypot Cottages my contact was Andy Smith:  info@honeypotcottages.co.uk  They even left us a delicious homemade cake to have with tea when we arrived.)

Ancient stone birdbath

Once a wealthy producer of fine wool, the Cotswold countryside is dotted with sheep and crisscrossed with walking trails. Most roads are hardly wide enough to pass another car without slowing to a crawl – a hardship to people used to driving on the other side of the road! However Main Street in certain towns, like the one we stayed in, were built wide to accommodate the carts and animals coming to market.

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covered market at dusk

The picture above shows the old market (middle right) built in 1627.

Below is the bell tower of stately St James church built 500 yrs ago…and do you suppose this was a dipping trough (right foreground) for sheep?

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All of the cottages and buildings throughout the region were built of the same honey-hued limestone and today it is required of new stone buildings.  Eight Bells Inn (below) dates from 14th century.ChippingC_pse0176

 

This is the oldest house in Chipping; note the wavy roofline. Back in the 1300’s, when the villagers lived in smoky, damp “wattle-and daub” huts, a  well-to-do wool merchant built this first stone home with chimneys, instead of just holes in the roof.

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There are a number of pretty gardens in the area; we visited well-known Hidcote Manor with gardens divided into a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, each with its own character. The manor house was built in the 17th Century as a farm house; and the garden and lawns were begun in early 20th century by American Lawrence Johnston.

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Manor

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The red border

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The Cotswold may have been the hi-lite of our trip to Great Britain – I guess we saved the best for our last week. Have you been there? Live there?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING To ALL

November arrives here with chilly rain signaling any Indian summer is over; incongruously, we usually have sun for Thanksgiving. Who is to question the weather gods when they play in our favor?

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Tom and I planted this pistache tree 20 years ago. It makes a wonderful shade tree in summer.

(Thanksgiving is a US holiday, originally a harvest festival.) The Pilgrims celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” in 1621 with the Indians who helped them survive in the New World.

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This gingko was 7-ft tall when we moved in and perversely refused to grow more than a few inches in a decade. Its roots must have found the water table as it has made up for lost growth since then.

 

Charming Bath and Remarkable Avebury Henge

Set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, Bath hardly needs an introduction… it is famous for Jane Austen, its 18th-century Georgian architecture and the Roman baths. In fact it was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa.

The main thermal bath

One of the excavated pools not open to the public.

View of the rooftops from our room.

Honey-coloured limestone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including the museum built over the original Roman-era Baths and the Abbey. We didn’t need a car.  Bath is compact and once again the hop-on-hop-off buses took us everywhere we wanted to go (although not quite as reliable and convenient as in other cities). Don’t bother with the secondary tour that circles above Bath in hopes of a panorama; the city views are obscured by trees etc. and you barely get a glimpse.

Historic Pulteney Bridge built in 1774 over River Avon (photos above and below). It is sometimes compared to Ponte Vecchio in Venice because of the rows of stores lining each side.  Pulteney Brdg,1774 AvonR _pse0159

 

A few people from early 18th-century, Jane Austen’s era:

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No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the Royal Crescent. The 30 terraced houses with ionic columns, laid out in a sweeping curve and fronted by this expanse of green, have been seen in many period movies.

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We were lucky to be there when a dog was demonstrating how she could herd geese. In the 3rd slide below, she drove the whole gaggle across the red bridge.

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In planning this trip, we debated whether to see Stonehenge and decided not to.  (The actual stones are fenced off for protection, and somehow we didn’t think we would feel the “mystical power,” sharing our time with the crowds.) After all we’d already wandered through Castlerigg Stones in the Lake Country mists, so now we decided to visit the Neolithic Avebury Henge on our way to the Cotswolds.   The term “henge” applies to most of these stones monuments, but the definition includes a large circular bank and a ditch.  A path has been built over the surviving ditch in the photo below.           This prehistoric site, contains the largest megalith circle in Europe and features two inner stone rings. In fact to really appreciate the size you need an aerial view; note the mound around the perimeter and the excavated ditch just inside.  Incredibly labor intensive, it was constructed over several hundred years circa 3000BC.

AVEBURY STONE CIRCLE, (photo by English Heritage)

Avebury village first began cropping up around one edge of the monument during the Early Middle Ages, eventually extending into it.  In the ensuring centuries a large number of the stones were re-used as building materials, buried or destroyed because of their association with paganism, but many remain or have been restored.

Tom in Avebury

One nice thing about Avebury is the lack of gaudy commercialism that accompanies so many world class sites.  We could hike among the stones and wander through the village. Do you think we made the right choice?  We do!