Neither alinea nor pilcrow

Mums of maroon

We had our own little seasonal moment last night when the JCB dug in the blanket chest and, tada!, we had our first night under the feather duvet. Back in the MiddleAges (exaggeration) when I was a kid, we had quilts and nary a duvet.

Nard, personally

Lavender pot

As far back as I remember, I associate lavender with my grandmother. That may well change in the future…and I’ll associate it with my foot-thing….

Nard/nardus was the ancient Greek name….

Octopus eats its leg

Octopus arm front windows

This morning we checked out the Museum of Contemporary Art’s show “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg.” The title comes from a Japanese saying to the effect that an octopus in a mortal jam will eat off its own leg to survive aware that it will soon regrow, with the implication that sacrifice is necessary to create new growth. Kinda gory way to frame that notion…. Murakami was born in 1962.

Takashi Murakami 1999 Super Nova

The exhibit shows his pieces in chronological order, and allowed us to see how his art has changed. His sense of color aesthetics is stupendous, and was there at the beginning. This is a 1999 piece he named “Super Nova.” It portrays the world after an atomic bomb…mushrooms are a frequent theme in traditional Japanese art, and of course the bombs make mushroom clouds….

Panel detail

Here’s a detail from a recent multi-panel work, showing more of the influence of anime. Just for this show, we were told, he designed an octopus, used for the promotional materials…you’ll have to find it “out there” if you are interested. Big eyed. Pink.

Lamborghini headlamp

Wandering the streets toward the next stop, we window-shopped Lamborghinis (one headlamp only shown) and Bentleys (even saw a muddy one!—I didn’t know mud stuck to Bentleys!).

Between lion

We also wandered by this lion, with a moldy green pelt.

Russert Meet set

In the broadcasting museum, we unexpectedly found Tim Russert’s “Meet the Press” set.

Subway detail

And…we took the subway back to our (temporary) apartment. Beautiful tile work on the walls…public art that mostly goes uncelebrated.

River view

Abe n mr sweater

I jokingly said this street art was Abe and Mr. Sweater. Turns out it is something like Abe and the Common Man. Common Man being white guy in cable-knit sweater. Nothing against white guys or sweaters. But.

London House temple

We took a fantastic architectural boat tour, and this was across from our dock. The somewhat unexpected rooftop open-air circular temple can be rented for special occasions.

Chicago from mouth of Chicago River

Our boat went out to the lock that prevents the Chicago River from dumping into the lake—its natural flow—but did not leave the river. Such a great view west of the skyline.

Chicago founded right

The grass-edged landform to the right was where the Euro-Americans first settled here. They heard the Indians saying something that they distorted into “Chicago” thinking that was the name of the spot. Turns out the Indians were commenting on the marshy vegetation—stinking onions. Or so our wonderful guide said.

Design by context

Even more than the building in the previous shot, this one was designed with a plain façade meant to reflect what was around it.

Rivers map

This one, on the other hand, has a stylized map of the rivers. That red “bench” feature way up there indicates the location of this building, a “you are here” marker.

Heart Chicago

Spotted on our way back from deep-dish pizza engorgement….

Clueless me


It never occurred to me to think about decoding firewood collection behaviors from the archaeological record—reconstructing species burned from the charcoal/ash, yes, but not all the collecting as a social behavior.

I’m pretty sure Sebastian the Ginger Cat has never thought about firewood.

BTW, the Spanish for firewood is leña. It’s not in the typical travelers’ Spanish vocabulary list. Translations of beer, toilet, laundry, please and thank you, yes—but not firewood.

Irish lessons, subtly

Cong cloister

Another day, another religious complex in ruins. Here’s one corner of the cloister interior at Cong Abbey. The Irish is Cúnga Fheichín, meaning St Féchín’s narrows. The narrows refer to the river, I’m guessing. The waterways around the abbey go underground and appear braided. Complex, anyway.

Cong fish house

This “fish house” is an unusual surviving monastery feature. My understanding is that the underneath had a net hung inside it, and the fish were retrieved through a trap door in the floor. The area around Cong is where “The Quiet Man” (1952) was filmed–John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

Ballinrobe street

This banner over the street in Ballinrobe says: Welcome to (you got that part, I’m sure) Music Festival Mayo. Mayo is two words in Irish—Mhaigh Eo—which means yew trees, and yew trees are loaded with sacred qualities, very special. Oak trees, too.

Lots of place-names begin Bally– or Balli– like this. The Irish is Baile and it means town, although GooTranslate indicates it means home, also. Interesting cultural implications of that.

Also, place-names that end in –more in English may be from the Irish mór, which means big. Toponyms are such fun!

Pontoon sign

It seems the English mimics the Irish Pont Abhann in some abstract way, as Abhann means river/fluvial and has a different sound than “oon”. Another linguistic abuse by the English….

DeVanneys Bar Lahardane

Just liked the way this looked. I couldn’t tell for sure if it is still open.

Seacliffs n DunBriste

That haystack at the end of this peninsula is Dun Briste, meaning broken fort (fort in the sense that this point is naturally fortified by being almost surrounded by the sea; broken is obvious). The English name highlights something totally different; it is Downpatrick Head.

Ceide Fields ocean view

This row of stones exposed from where the peat buried it was a fence-wall thousands of years ago, built by people who cut the forest to begin farming here six millennia ago. Why did peat form here? Scientists aren’t certain, but the current hypothesis is that by cutting the trees, it changed the soil chemistry and created an iron-rich layer that kept the water table high and meant that any plants had to be tolerant of the iron-rich condition to grow, which favored heather and sphagnum and the like. They grew and died and new offspring grew in the same spots, and the moisture and repeated generations meant peat could form.

The large size of the fields and the pollen that has been identified as contemporaneous with the field walls indicate that the fields were pastures, used for cattle and not crops. Very interesting.

Can you guess that it was windy windy windy when we visited Ceíde Fields? Can you guess that is Ceíde pronounced kay-ja? Yup, no “d” at all.

Factory Ballina

I’m pretty sure this is an abandoned factory. Not all ruins we note are darned old.

Cnoc na Riabh view

Another high view of the velveteen green, this time with more trees and houses. This is near Sligo, from the flank of the mountain called Cnoc na Riabh, meaning hill of…well, knowledgable people argue about of what. Cnoc is hill, no doubt about it. I keep trying to come up with a Cnoc-Cnoc joke….

Sligo tides out

And here the tide is out in Sligo. The Irish name of the river (originally) and the town is Sligeach, meaning abundant shells, meaning the river was rich in shellfish, and maybe fish in general. Don’t know about now.

“Windswept tree…”

Ferns abbey cathedral

Foreground: ruins of medieval (13th C?) cathedral at Ferns. Five window arches survive on one side, and one on the other. Rear: current mostly 19th-C church.

Winsome trio

Wexford winsome trio.

Painted faux highcross

Dublin schoolgirls learning about high crosses at heritage park (HP). “Monk” guide did a great job.

Jcb waterbirds

The Guru captured a heron and friend in the crannog’s lake at the HP.

Windswept tree

Stenciled quote (lines skipped) from Hávamál on wall at HP.

Emo petrol

Emo petrol? Killeens swirls?

Tintern Minor abbey church

Tintern Abbey; that is: Tintern Minor abbey. Much modified, but most of “the bones” of what we see is probably 16th C. Used as a residence until 1959.

Hay baling

Today was busy-farm-equipment day, including many tractor-rigs on the road. Two days ago, it was paint-your-front-fence day—we saw three being painted and one being pressure-washed‚ none before or since.

No junk mail

I want this label!

Drone view

The Guru made Droney fly for the third time here.

9pm light

Given that the iPhone darkens a shot like this, you must compensate. I could easily read a book in the ambient light, although it seems darker in this version. This was at 9:02pm. And it’s light out very early, too.

Good night, all.

Aon scoitheadh

Wild strawberry

I told the Guru I wasn’t going to write much today…so, mostly photos. Wild strawberry.

Holsteins on Uisneach

Holsteins arriving at fence at end of new pasture area. Bawling. This is atop an early medieval place of major importance called Uisneach. The scale of the hilltop with scattered features was difficult to grasp even standing there. Just think of it as the cattle site.

Cattle management structure

Our access to the hilltop passed by this somewhat mysterious cattle management structure.

No passing

I laughed that someone thought it necessary to mark this one-and-a-half lane road with an aon scoitheadh sign—no passing.

Sheep on Rathcroghan

I’m standing on another major architectural feature. Me and this momma sheep and her two babes, one black, one white. Think of it as the sheep site. The formal name is Rathcroghan.

Rathra property line cut

I guess this one might be the person site? It’s called Rathra, and I think this is an old field boundary cutting through the early medieval ring fort. It has two pairs of wall-ditch combos to my left and right. Also you can see a barrow mound just visible over the walls to my left. Darned exciting.

Severe bends snapshot

We laughed at this sign. Crappy snapshot, however.

Clonmacnoise river view

We stopped at the famous monastery ruin named Clonmacnoise. Here’s a view of the oldest structure here (foreground), called Temple Ciarán. It dates to the 8th/9th C, and is considered among the earliest mortared stone shrine chapels in Ireland. That’s the Shannon River in the background; there was a bridge across it as early as ~804. The Guru sent Drony on a mission here getting a great view of a nearby 1214 Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey castle ruin on the riverbank.

Peat turves drying

We happened upon turves of peat drying. These are regular shapes from mechanized harvesting. Several (parts of) bog people have been found during such operations.

Clara abandoned factory

This abandoned factory is the town of Clara. We spotted another one, too. On the way into town, we drove by the ruins of a monastery. St Brigid founded the original wooden monastery, records indicate. Clara seems pretty resilient; keep on biking.

A pink flower is not tattersall

So so pink

Twice in the last twenty-four hours I have encountered the word tattersall. I can’t remember the last time…two decades? And I knew “plaid” but it’s more than that, it’s an even plaid, with more space between the stripes than not, and the grid is in two colors, a darker and a lighter one (typically). It’s like funky, fabric graph paper (kinda). Apparently, the pattern is from horse blankets at a market with this name in London well over a century ago. Of all things.


BW pattern

Based on the calendar, we’ve all de-Lented. But that’s not quality word-play.