1976- Dreams, Jobs & Love

In 1968 Caroline met Mike, who she married the following year, but the years leading up to their marriage and child were quite an adventure and perhaps one of the most eventful periods of her life. Combining her skills as an English teacher with her theatrical ones she created this humorous recount of her first loves, job and opportunity of achieving her dream of being an actress- and how they all tied into each other. She found a way to express her untold feelings and experience to Mike in the form of this amusing and light-hearted story.

June 20, 1976

Open letter to the man I live with: Hi there!

“Oh my God.” I bear you moan, “Another damn fool note.” “But hang in there, I’ve got something to say” I say.

Now if the shower steam has dissipated your wine fumes and if our daughter isn’t destroying the bedroom – it’s entirely too quiet in there – I would like to jot down a few thoughts. Agreed, thinking is not something in which I excel, but let me try.

The Looks. In particular, your Looks.

Not your physical appearance, nothing can help there, but those puzzled, questioning glances you shoot me whenever we’re mixing socially. Although the word, “socially” is too sophisticated for our mutual friends, you know what I mean.

This will be what I tried to explain last Easter when I cornered you in the kitchen and after I bleated and blathered ten minutes, you handed me two aspirins and went to bed. And remember Christmas, when I had you in a hammar-lock under the tree and you thought I wanted to screw?

Hence, back to, “The looks.” Obviously our three year marriage still needs some work in the area of oral communications. Since we excel in the non-verbal, there’s got to be hope for the other! I like to beat that, “mumble…never understood the real me” bar syndrome.

Are you still with me? Then get a pipe and a warm beer and read on. I’ll keep Winnie occupied in the playroom. Remember last week when I cried because Winnie had torn all my summer-stock pictures off the wall? You said good, the tape was yellowing anyway. And while I sorrowfully re-moved the remnants, enshrining them on the top shelf of the closet, you lectured on the newest developments in the Eastern Chardonnay wines??

For an entire week I glumped over those pictures, they weren’t just an era in my life, they were me. Every time I tried to talk about them, you handed me a glass of wine and lectured on it’s body, bouquet, fruitiness, or the lack of same.

The removal of those pictures was like a physical amputation. All I needed was a brief verbal recovery period. I’m being discrete in saying that we have a bit to learn about the other. Carry on, I’d like to introduce you to me. At least to one facet. In the mail with my divorce decree came my acceptance for that same summer stock. The concise description of my dramatic scholarship far over shadowed the legal terms of divorce. I was flying so high that I hardly noticed the sudden chilly

withdrawal of my fellow teachers. Their reaction wasn’t surprising. Remember Julie? She had been in maternity clothes for four months, finally announcing that she was taking a year’s leave in June and the faculty hot line sizzled with the question as to whether or not she was pregnant!

My parents were thrilled. Their Catholicism quaked with embarrassment in saying that their daughter was a, “divorced woman” and now they could counter with the announcement that she was a Success! After all, said my mother, one who is creative and talented certainly can’t be called Normal.

At that time my teaching position had a title: Director of Speech and Drama. I enjoyed the added “class” but would have preferred a larger paycheck. My students were beautiful. I could have lectured on the sex life of Venetian blinds and they would have responded with the same wide-eyed fascination. From then on I was a somebody. Whenever I headed for cafeteria lunch there would be a small contingent, jostling, nudging each other, trying to physically brush me as though I were something contagious and a particle of star dust might land on them. It went straight to my head and I reveled in it. My senior Thespians were ecstatic and presented the graduation, “Senior Skits” with such dramatic excellence that I knew my rumor had paid off.

Unashamedly I admit to having hinted about a talent scout being in the area. You can understand that I wanted to finish with a flair. I was very emotional the last day of school. Both the seniors and I were wandering the halls eyeing the cafeteria,

auditorium and the classrooms for the Last Time. Summer stock would only be a stepping stone to Broadway and the Big Time. I had ten days between the close of school and theater “check-in” on Cape Cod. Do you remember meeting Dorothy at the faculty party last Christmas? I coerced her into going with me and flying home from Boston. She was forty eight at the time and one of the best sports I’ve ever known. George was crazy about her. I’ll get to him in a minute. Dorothy had that happy faculty of laughing frequently and never bruising the air with empty chatter. She was a beautiful person to be with, and there was never a question of saying or doing the right thing. One of the few times I saw her frown was at a waitress giving us a snow job.

And then there was George. I believe I mentioned him during our per-nuptial discussion of past loves, but just in passing. He only played a minor lead in my life that summer but was the major reason I was on the Cape. The previous summer, just after I had separated, I landed both a waitress job in Falmouth and George. He was in the same situation as I, but perhaps his being 42 kept him a little more together. He thoroughly convinced me that I was not over-the-hill at 28 and that I was quite attractive bait for other fish, namely himself. He was the only lover I ever had until I met you.

Dorothy and I arranged our travel time so that we could lunch with George the second day. The Red Lion in Lee, Massachusetts will never be the same. Due to my eager anticipation, we arrived 45 minutes early and had just started our drinks when George arrived at the dining room door. Gabby he hollered and with arms outstretched raced across the room to hug Dorothy. Dorothy he yelled and swung me in the air, then feinting heart strain from the effort, had the maitre’d assist him to his chair. I’ve forgotten what, or even if, we ate but remember using all my tissues to wipe my running mascara. Afterward we sat in the lounge and plotted our agenda for the week. George was busy now but would meet us in Chatham the following weekend. Dorothy and I planned to spend several days in Boston and then to Provincetown, arriving in Chatham on Friday.

You’re probably beginning to wonder what the hell is the point of all this. There is one and I’ll get to it. By now your hangover should be fully dissipated so go open that ’67 Cabernet you were saving for my birthday. That’s how important this is to me.

To be continued…

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Cuba Redo

Cuba part 3- 2hours

I added this third, “redo” of Cuba- mainly because I could not stand to hear the offensive words of President Trump. This relatively poor country of Cuba was interesting and full of friendly people. And it has to be seen!

Rhode Scholars Group did just that for us, they’re one of the few groups with permission to give tours of the country.

On the eve of the Revolution Cuba was a semideveloped country with more millionaires than anywhere else South of Texas and an urban workforce that had achieved, “the eight-hour work day, double pay for overtime, one months paid vacation, nine days sick leave and the right to strike. On the other hand a 1950’s World bank study found that 40% of urban dwellers and 60% of rural dwellers were undernourished and 40% of Cubans had never gone to school and only 60% held fulltime jobs. The Revolution improved the lives of millions while destroying the middle and upper class. Today the country is still in rough shape and many people rely on the, “Libreta” program which allots a monthly supply of food (actually more like 10 days worth, if even available.) If given the opportunity to integrate back into the world the country could be a developed and prosperous nation. They would of course have to allow for a successful working and business class to emerge again though.

This large and beautiful hotel was the first place we arrived and the last place we stayed. Allowing us to meet and share insight with other travelers.

The room was shared for the three days and it was lovely and allowed us to see the coming and going of the hotel.

The backside was magnificent. You could see the indoor and outdoor patios, the small restaurant, and the pathway headed all the way down to the sea side. 

We stayed at a hotel overlooking the plaza (top/ left) of the city hall building in Cienfuegos.” I inquired about a place to eat and drink and they pointed me to the top floor. When we got up there we were greeted by live music, commotion, and conversation. It felt like a true experience of the culture and social life of the country. It was wonderful!

Their cemetery was beautiful, as you can see in the middle picture.

Part of our tour took us to the countryside to see both the beautiful tropic nature and the lifestyle of the farmers. Of course there were many splendid giant trees that twisted and curled like vines and flowing waterfalls.

Speaking of the farm workers, in one of the art exhibitions we toured there were magnificent wood carvings representing the common people of the countryside. They are very accurate in portraying the appearance and hard work ethic of the people there.

By one of the schools we toured we met some young men making these beautiful hand-crafted cards. They were $8 and, to the protest of other group members, I slipped him an extra $20. The average daily wage is $6 for the entire day!

I also got these postcards of a city drawing done by an art student.

Walking the streets you could see a mix of renovated and restored buildings in the more commercial areas, but as you got father into the back streets the buildings and infrastructure become increasingly dated.

The other prominent and unforgettable feature of the island are the classic cars. After the US put an embargo on Cuba no new American products, including cars and car parts, could be brought into the country. Paving the way for the iconic and never changing classic 1950’s style cars that the island is so well know for. Having to fabricate and maintain their own parts has lead to a very close-knit and knowledgeable car community. 

Cuba was a splendid place to travel. And one day if allowed to go on ones own will and explore the different corners of the nation there are probably some true gems to be found. Many of the beaches and areas were off limits to foreigners. It was also frowned upon to take pictures of people or give them money. I am unsure of why this is so, perhaps the government doesn’t want the extent of poverty to be known or for it’s people to grow too cozy with generous Americans. Either way I managed to do all three and make it out alive!

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Off the Beaten Path

At the conclusion of our Albanian trip, 3 days in Durresi on the Adriatic Sea were needed to unwind. Off season rates were” in season” and we got a top floor suite with a big balcony overlooking the sea.

Hotel Adriatik, Albania

Our view from the balcony overlooked the Beach walk and all the people enjoying it as we would shortly be when heading along the walk to find dinner.

Beach Walk

For the 3 days we were there,  around 6 PM, entire families,  would appear entering the park , purchase ice cream, popcorn or drinks and jovially continue walking the shore.

Our Concierge said that these were mostly poor people who rented small apartments in the older section and had no televisions.  (My feeling was they had something much better.)

While there we visited the Roman 2nd century Amphitheatre  and other sites including one of the  15th century fortifying  Towers the Venetians built….and now converted into a wonderful bar,  and, naturally sampled their wine.

Shipping port, Durres, Albania

Ships have anchored in this harbor since the 7th century BC. And eventually it grew into a vital staging port.

This is the site for our Ferry departure and thank God for the marvelous taxi driver or we would have missed it entirely.He had to park the taxi and help us with luggage for a half mile, then through passport clearance  and boarding. I know Mike tipped him well because he grinned and said “When are you coming back?”

Our cabin was small, 2 double decker beds (good, needed one for luggage), small bath with a shower over the sink(?)—but a large porthole.  Dinner offered in the Cafeteria from 8 to 10 and it was excellent. I took my coffee out to the top deck and noticed  2 ships paralleling I asked a deck hand and he said “We travel in trios because of potential hijacking.”

I went to the bar for another glass of wine.

Arriving at Bari

You see the last trucks exiting while 80+ people are lined up inside the left doorway… having been breathing the toxic fumes for an hour and being told to wait there. (If they ever want to get our money again: PEOPLE exit first!)

Picked up rental car hereHad to walk from the port to pick up our rental here. No problem, Mike carried the heavy stuff and I just sneezed and sneezed and….

Restourant at Montefalco

Stopped for lunch at a small village.  Food looked good but I couldn’t taste it….but the fresh air  was  delicious. Now on our way to see some of the 300 year old “Troulli  Houses”.

Trulli Houses

These were located in the middle of a narrow street in the village. Most of the owners advertised their shops on the outside to take advantage of tourism….but you had to drive a block to find a parking space. And we did!

alberobello_h1

Looks like a Hobbit Village!

Farmers originally built these Troulli  houses because they were inexpensive, expandable and moveable. They’re made of concentric stone rings and stone floors. The roof pinnacle  locks the last layer in place, double walled filled with rubble for insulation, and water drainage from the roof to a cistern below.  The originals were one large and one small room.

We found  one “For Sale” as we drove out of the village and stopped. The front door was open and we were fascinated by its simplicity!

We continued to Montefalco, not from road signs–nonexistent–but we saw it at the top of the hill.

Montefalco

The name means, “Falcon’s Mount”, not for the bird, but because of its sweeping views and lofty position. In the 13th century, with many warring tribes abounding, the height of the city was extremely  important.

Around Villa

 

There was a sign for the, “Villa San Luca” and the single lane took us to the front of the Villa. This building,  16th century, was everything you expected: classically formal dining room, a large friendly bar/patio with an excellent view.

 

Hotel Villa San Luca, Montefalco

This view from our balcony overlooked the surrounding mountains, vineyards and a large pool which had closed 2 weeks earlier…sigh…but it was October!

Panoramic_view_of_Assisi

It was Sunday  and I wanted to attend Mass at the Assisi Basilica di San Francisco and the 1228 burial site. There was no room left in the larger upper church so we squeezed in to the lower church (13 century) which was to accommodate the growing number of Pilgrims who came to honor St. Francis of Assisi.

The Lower level Church

A lovely ceremony but a little overwhelming with the smells of vino and garlic. Communion was a tussle with some rotund women pushing and pummeling to be first. When 2 of them “sandwiched”  me, I just stopped and said  “Appre’ vous  Madame”…loudly—then they backed off.

Afterward  we had coffee and toured this wonderful site. There was a local winery nearby and, of course, we had to taste their wares. Mike and the owner needed no translation for the “international” wine discussion while I got into the tasting and loved the Trebbiano Spoletino.

Since our formal dinner last night at the Villa, we wanted to find a local restaurant in the nearby village  of Montefalco. Our hostess gave us parking directions to the top of the hill, stopping outside the town, and walking through the main entrance. We understood her directions after seeing the single lane street.

Glad it hadn’t rained:  wet cobble stones are hazardous! The setting sun was reflecting  on the surrounding mountains and we watched till it dipped.

Cobblestoned streets

The Frederico II ‘s specialty that night was “wild boar” and I can’t think about it without drooling.

federico-ii

That was a trip (and a meal) to remember!

9/3/2015

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Living in the Raw

Mike is doing a, “happy dance” visiting Fangoria Winery. You can see (on his right knee) where he actually knelt to see and smell (not kiss) the vines.

This young vineyard manager took us up and down the rows of vines explaining what they were doing (most vital in the US) in their way of irrigation- which is none.

Their water comes from the mountains and the rivers.

The vineyards swoop down to the Black Sea Below. With occasional rain coming from the mountains.

Finally I got them to move along by screaming, “I am freezing!”

I chose this primer sparkling wine house again because the view of the highs and the lows and how they supplement the growing grapes. The local stone dates to the winery founding in 1860.

Our next winery was Karakezidi Wine Making House. And what is particularly unusual for this winery and farm is that it is all totally organic.

Yanis’s wine cellar.

This is the hospitality room where Yanis brought us to sample some of his wine. It is also his, “hospitality” room and includes the following options: music, dining, wine tasting, and much more. Yanis is center, Mike is on the right and Charles Gordon left. The man who wrote the book, “The Russian Wine Country- Sleeping Beauty Awakens” and that is what brought us here.

He played several instruments while we ate lunch, everything grown organically on the farm of course. Then with the wine he sang beautifully. A warm and friendly man who wanted to hug us as we left, but being about a foot shorter than I, I kept it reasonable by putting my cane between us.

 

Yanis dispersing wisdom which he loves to do and… does it well. Look around the inside of his house. And now we are going to go outside and look at his house- built by his and his family’s hands.

 

If you notice the swimming pool you wouldn’t want to jump into it because it would be colder than the Devil.

Further down you will find a very luxurious garden built by Yanis and supplied with plenty of fertilization from the animals: goats and chickens he has roaming around at all times.

We thoroughly enjoyed Yanis’s rural and organic lifestyle- most especially his wines and to top all this off the excellent organic meal and hospitality he provided.

2/24/2018

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Zero Hour Part 2

The Aliens are coming! The Aliens are coming!

This probably would have been the title to my essay in my response to Caroline’s Martian piece. She told me she had given this as an assignment when she was teaching and it was the students job to either write their thoughts on it or continue their own story. So I will do both. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it reminded me why Caroline was an English and Theatre teacher. I could just as well see this being turned into a short play. Out of the many English assignments I had in my schooling I can’t remember one that would be this fun! My continuation is at the bottom of part two, be sure to read part one found below before reading this..

Part 2

I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill‘s a Martian?”

“No. He’s—~well—-maybe from Jupiter or Saturn or Venus. Anyway, he’s had a hard time.”

“I imagine.” Mrs. Morris hid her mouth behind her hand.

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack Earth.”

“We’re impregnable,” said Mom in mock seriousness.

“That’s the word Drill used! Impreg-—- That was the word, Mom.”

“My, my, Drill’s a brilliant little boy. Two-bit words.”

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack, Mom. Drill says–he says in order to make a good fight you got to have a new way of surprising people. That way you win. And he says also you got to have help from your enemy.”

“A fifth column,” said Mom.

“Yeah. That‘s what Drill said. And they couldn’t figure a way to surprise Earth or get help.”

“No wonder. We’re pretty darn strong,” Mom laughed, cleaning up. Mink sat there, staring at the table, seeing what she was talking about.

“Until, one day,” shispered Mink melodramatically, “they thought of children!”

“Well’.” said Mrs. Morris brightly.

”And they thought of how grownups are so busy they never look under rose-bushes or on lawns.”

“Only for snails and fungus.”

“And then there’s something about dim-dims.”

“Dim-dims?”

Dimens-shuns.”

“Dimensions.”

“Four of ’em And there’s something about kids under nine and imagination. It’s real funny to hear Drill talk.”

Mrs. Morris was tired. “Well, it must be funny. You’re keeping Drill waiting now. It’s getting late in the day and, if you want to have your Invasion before your supper bath, you’d better jump.“

“Do I have to take a bath?” growled Mink.

“You do. Why is it children hate water? No matter what age you live in children hate water behind the ears’.”

“Drill says I won’t have to take baths,” said Mink.

“0h, he does, does he?”

“He told all the kids that. No more baths. And we can stay up till ten o‘clock and go to two televisor shows on Saturday ‘stead of one!”

Page 4

“Well, Mr. Drill better mind his p’s and q‘s. I’ll call up his mother and —-“

Mink went to the door. “We’re having trouble with guys like Pete Britz and Dale Jerrick. They’re growing up. They make fun. They’re worse than parents. They just won’t believe in Drill. They’re so snooty, ‘cause they’re growing up. You’d think they’d know better. They were little only a couple years ago. I hate them worst. We’ll kill them first.”

“Your father and I last?”

“Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why? ‘Cause you don’t believe in Martians! They’re going to let us run the world. Well, not just us, but the kids over in the next block, too. I might be queen.” She opened the door.

“mm?”

“Yes ‘2”

“What’s lodge—ick?”

“Logic? Why, dear, logic is knowing what things are true and not true.”

“He mentioned that,” said Mink. “And what’s im—pression-able?” It took her a minute to say it.

“Why, it means—” Her mother looked at the floor, laughing gently. “It means—-to be a child, dear.”

“Thanks for lunch!” Mink ran out, then stuck her head back in. “Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

“Well, thanks,” said an.

Slam went the door.

At four o’clock the audi-visor buzzed. Mrs. Morris flipped the tab. “Hello,

Helen!” she said in welcome.

“Hello, Mary. How are things in New York?”

“Fine. How are things in Scranton? You look tired.”

“So do you. The children. Underfoot,” said Helen.

Mrs. Morris signed. “My Mink too. The super-Invasion.”

Helen laughed. “Are your kids playing that game too?”

“Lord, yes. Tomorrow it’ll be geometrical jacks and motorized hopscotch. Were we this bad when we were kids in ’48?”

“Worse. Japs and Nazis. Don’t know how my parents put up with me. Tomboy.”

“Parents learn to shut their ears.”

A silence.

“What’s wrong, Mary?” asked Helen.

Mrs. Morris’s eyes were half closed; her tongue slid slowly, thoughtfully, over her lower lip. “Eh?” She jerked. “0h, nothing. Just thought about that. Shutting ears and such. Never mind. Where were we?”

“My boy Tim’s got a crush on some guy named–Drill, I think it was.”

“Must be a new password. Mink likes him too.”

“Didn’t know it had got as far as New York. Word of mouth, I imagine. Looks like a scrap drive. I talked to Josephine and she said her kids- that’s in Boston–are wild on this new game. It’s sweeping the country.”

At this moment Mink trotted into the kitchen to gulp a glass of water.

Mrs. Morris turned. “How’re things going?”

“Almost finished,” said Mink.

“Swell,” said Mrs. Morris. “What’s that?”

“A yo-yo,” said Mink. “Watch.”

She flung the yo-yo down its string. Reaching the end it– It vanished.

“See?” said Mink. “Opel” nibbling her finger, she made the yo-yo reappear and zip up the string.

“Do that again,” said her mother.

“Can’t. Zero hour’s five o’clock: ‘By.” Mink exited, zipping her yo-yo.

On the audio-visor, Helen laughed. “Tim brought one of those yo-yos in this morning, but when I got curious he said he wouldn’t show it to me, and when I tried to work it, finally, it wouldn’t work.”

Page 5

“You’re not impressionable,” said Mrs. Morris.

“What?”

“Never mind. Something I thought of. Can I help you, Helen?“

“I wanted to get that black-and-white cake recipe–—”

The hour drowsed by. The day waned. The sun lowered in the peaceful blue sky. Shadows lengthened on the green lawns. The laughter and excitement continued. One little girl ran away, crying. Mrs. Morris came out the front door.

“Mink, was that Peggy Ann crying?”

Mink was bent over in the yard, near the rosebush. ”Yeah. She’s a screbaby. We won’t let her play, now. She’s getting too old to play. I guess she grew up all of a sudden.”

“Is that why she cried? Nonsense. Give me a civil answer, young lady, or inside you comet.”

Mink whirled in consternation, mixed with irritation. “I can’t quit now. It’s almost time. I’ll be goo. I’m sorry.”

“Did you hit Peggy Ann?“

“No, honest. You ask her. It was something—-we1ll, she’s just a scaredy pants.”

The ring of children drew in around Mink where she scowled at her work with spoons and a kind of square- shaped arrangement of hammers and pipes. “There and there,” murmured. Mink.

“What’s wrong?” said Mrs. Morris.

“Drill’s stuck. Halfway. If we could only get him all the way through, it’s be easier. Then all the others could come through after him.”

“Can I help?”

“No’m, thanks. I’ll fix it.”

“All right. I’ll call you for your bath in half an hour. I’m tired of watching you.”

She went in and sat in the electric relaxing chair, sipping a little beer from a half-empty glass. The chair massaged her back. Children, children. Children and love and hate, side by side. Sometimes children loved you, hated you–all in half a second. Strange children, did they ever forget or forgive the whippings and the harsh, strict words of command? She wondered. How can you ever forget or forgive those over and above you, those tall and silly dictators?

Time passed. A curious, waiting silence came upon the street, deepening.

Five o’clock. A clock sang softly somewhere in the house in a quiet, musical voice: “Five o’clock-—five o’clock. Time’s a-wasting. Five o’clock,” and purred away into silence.

Zero hour.

Mrs. Morris chuckled in her throat. Zero hour.

A beetle car hummed into the driveway. Mr. Morris. Mrs. Morris smiled. Mr. Morris got out of the beetle, locked it, and called hello to Mink at her work. Mink ignored him. He laughed and stood for a moment watching the children. Then he walked up the front steps.

“Hello, darling.”

“Hello, Henry.”

She strained forward on the edge of the chair, listening. The children were

silent. Too silent. .

Page 6

He emptied his pipe, refilled it. “Swell day. Makes you glad to be alive.”

Buzz.

“What’s that?” asked Henry.

“I don’t know.” She got up suddenly, her eyes widening. She was going to say something. She stopped it. Ridiculous. Her nerves jumped. “Those children haven’t anything dangerous out there, have they?” she said.

“Nothing but pipes and hammers. Why?”

“Nothing electrical?”

“Heck, no,” said Henry. “I looked.”

She walked to the kitchen. The buzzing continued. “Just the same, you’d better go tell them to quit. It’s after five. Tell them—” Her eyes widened and narrowed. “Tell them to put off their Invasion until tomorrow.” She laughed, nervously.

The buzzing grew louder.

“What are they up to? I’d better go look, all right.”

The explosion!

The house shook with dull sound. There were other explosions in other yards on other streets.

involuntarily, Mrs. Morris screamed. “Up this way!” she cried senselessly, knowing no sense, no reason. Perhaps she saw something from the corners of her eyes; perhaps she smelled a new odor or heard a new noise. There was no time to argue with Henry to convince him. Let him think her insane. Yes, insane! Shrieking, she ran upstairs. He ran after her to see what she was up to. “In the attic!” she screamed. “That’s where it is!” It was only ‘a poor excuse to get him in the attic in time. Oh God, just in time.

Another explosion outside. The children screamed with delight, as if at a great fireworks display.

“It’s not in the attic!” cried Henry. ”It‘s outside!”

“No, no!” Wheezing, gasping, she fumbled at the attic door. “I’ll show you. Hurry! I‘ll show you!“

They tumbled into the attic. She slammed the door, locked it, took the key, threw it into a far, cluttered corner. She was babbling wild stuff now. It came out of her. All the subconscious suspicion and fear that had gathered secretly all afternoon and fermented like a wine in her. All the little revelations and knowledges and sense that had bothered her all day and which she had logically and carefully and sensibly rejected and censored. Now it exploded in her and shook her to bits.

”There, there,” she said, sobbing against the door. “We’re safe until tonight.

Maybe we can sneak out. Maybe we can escape!”

Henry blew up too, but for another reason. ”Are you crazy? Why’d you throw

that key away? Damn it, honey!”

“Yes, yes, I’m crazy , if it helps, but stay here with me!”

“I don’t know how in hell I can get out!”

“Quiet. They’ll hear us. Oh, God, they’ll find us soon enough—“

Below them, Mink’s voice. The husband stopped. There was a great universal humming and sizzling, a screaming and giggling. Downstairs the audio—televisor buzzed and buzzed insistently, alarmingly, violently. Is that Helen calling? thought Mrs. Morris. And is she calling about what I think she’s callin about?

Footsteps came into the house. Heavy footsteps.

“Who’s coming in my house?” demanded Henry angrily. “Who’s tramping around

down there?”

Page 7

Heavy feet. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty of them. Fifty persons crowding into the house. The humming. The giggling of the children. “This way!” cried

Mink, below.

“Who’s downstairs?” roared Henry. ”Who’s there!”

“Hush. Oh, nonononononoi” said his wife weakly, holding him. “Please, be

quiet. They might go away.”

“Mom?” called Mink. “Dad?“ A pause. ”Where are you?”

Heavy footsteps, heavy, heavy, very heavy footsteps, came up the stairs.

Mink leading them.

“Mom?” A hesitation. “Dad?” A waiting, a silence.

Humming, Footsteps toward the attic. Mink’s first.

They trembled together in silence in the attic, Mr. and Mrs. Morris. For some reason the electric humming, the queer cold light suddenly visible under the door crack, the strange odor and the alien sound of eagerness in Mink’s voice finally got through to Henry Morris too. He stood, shivering, in the dark silence, his wife beside him.

“Mom! Dad!”

Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic lock melted. The door opened.

Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her.

”Peekaboo,” said Mink.

END

Multi dimensional figures entered the attic. Their radiant white-blue light held the silhouette of a human body, but there was a constant pulsing an churning of energetic waves; twisting and binding, breaking into new links and waves of energy only to collapse among themselves and then begin anew to surge with dynamic life and movement. All this held within what appeared to be a body like visage of a human being.

The Martian spoke to the frightened and huddled parents.

“We have been monitoring your species from afar in what we could best describe to you primitive third-dimensional beings as a multi faceted observatory prism. You see, this dimension is only one of many, in fact, of an infinite.

Another Martian interjected and continued the lecture,

“A compounding and infinite helix of dimensions stemming and extending from one another while also retracting an condensing back into Itself. After your species discovered the splitting of atoms and thus the atomic bomb, you created a major disruption in the cosmic forces. Now while I can explain this next part to you I cannot comprehend it to you.”

At this point Mink, who had been standing in the background, slid back down the ladder making her escape. The Martian continued,

“In short, Quantum physics states that it is possible for an atom to be present in two different locations at one time, defying your concept of time and space. BUT this is an absolute truth and when your species split their first atom here, you also split it in another dimension, reeking just as much havoc and destruction as you did with it here. Only in one of the other universes you destroyed an entirety of a people. A people who had evolved not just to your simplistic 3 dimensions but 64! This level of consciousness cannot even be comprehended by your pathetic minds. The breadth and scope of their Self-realization was some of the highest in the cosmic hierarchy. And you ants destroyed them! That is why we have come to eliminate all of you who are corrupt and culprit to this atrocity.”

“WHAa!.. Whaah how-how-ow do we know if we are worthy to be spared?” Gasped the mother.

And with that the alien reached both its arms toward the parents faces, extended a finger and said,

“With one touch between your eyes slightly above the brow in the center of the forehead a great light and energy will surge through your beings, electrifying them with the knowledge of the universe, of creation and destruction, of good and evil, light and dark, the manifest and the umaninfest, of existence in and of itself to the absolute purest form knowable. To knowledge itself. To God. And upon realizing your Primal Nature you will no longer be able to exist as such and will vanish from your place.”

Just then a loud mechanical sucking-sound filled the room. It was Mink with a hand-held vacuum and a hose attachment. She reached the head towards the Martians and their liquid like bodies began to be sucked into the tube like loose dust. If there was one place no life could live, it was a vacuum.

Written by Caroline Botwin and Kevin Klimczak. Author & Web Editor.

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Zero Hour

Oh, I was to be so jolly! What a game! Such excitement they hadn’t known in years. The children catapulted this way and that across the green lawns, shouting at each other, holding hands, flying in circles, climbing trees, laughing. Overhead the rockets flew, and beetle cars whispered by on the streets, but the children played on. Such fun, such tremulous joy, such tumbling and hearty screaming.

               Mink ran into the house, all dirt and sweat. For her seven years she was loud and strong and defiant. Her mother, Mrs. Morris, hardly saw her as she yanked out drawers and rattled pans and tools into a large sack.

“Heavens, Mink, what’s going on?”

“The most exciting game ever!” gasped Kink, pink-faced.

“Stop and get your breath,” said the mother.

“No, I’m all right,” gasped Mink. ”Okay I take these things, Mom?”

“But don’t dent them,” said Mrs. Morris.

“Thank you, thank you!” cried Mink, and (boom) she was gone, like a rocket.

Mrs. Morris surveyed the fleeing tot. “What’s the name of the game?”

“Invasion!” said Mink. The door slammed.

In every yard on the street children brought out knives and forks and pokers and old stovepipes and can openers.

               It was an interesting fact that this fury and bustle occurred only among the younger children. The older ones, those ten years and more, disdained the affair and marched scornfully off on hikes or played a more dignified version of hide-and-seek on their own.

               Meanwhile, parents came and went in chromium beetles. Repairmen came to repair the vacuum elevators in houses, to fix fluttering television sets or hammer upon stubborn food-delivery tubes. The adult civilization passed and repassed the busy youngsters, jealous of the fierce energy of the wild tots, tolerantly amused at their flourishing, longing to join in themselves.

“This and this and this,” said Mink, instructing the others with their assorted spoons and wrenches, “Do that, and bring that over here. No! Here, Ninny! Right. Now, get back while I fix this.” Tongue in teeth, face wrinkled in thought. “Like that. See?”

“Yayyyy!” shouted the kids.

Twelve-year-old Joseph Connors ran up.

“Go away,” said Mink straight at him.

“I wanna play,” said Joseph.

“Can’t!” said Mink.

“Why not?“

“You’d just make fun of us.”

“Honest, I wouldn’t.”

“No. We know you. Go away or we’ll kick you.”

Another twelve-year-old boy whirred by on little motor skates. “Hey, Joe! Come on, Let them Sissies play!”

Joseph showed reluctance and a certain wistfulness. “I want to play,” he said. “You’re old,” said Mink firmly.

“You‘d only laugh and spoil the Invasion.”

Page 2

The boy on the motor skates made a rude lip noise. “Come on Joe, them and their fairies Nuts!” Joseph walked off slowly. He kept looking back, all down the block. Mink was already busy again. She made a kind of apparatus with her gathered equipment. She had appointed another little girl with a pad and pencil to take down notes in painful slow scribbles. Their voices rose and fell in the warm sunlight.

All around them the city bummed. The streets were lined with good green and peaceful trees. Only the wind made a conflict across the city, across the country, across the continent. In a thousand other cities there were trees and children and avenues, businessmen in their quiet offices taping their voices or watching televisors. Rockets hovered like darning needles in the blue sky. There was the universal, quiet conceit and easiness of men accustomed to peace, quite certain there would never be trouble again. Arm in arm, men all over earth were a united front. The perfect weapons were held in equal trust by all nations. A situation of incredibly beautiful balance had been brought about. There were no traitors among men, no unhappy ones, no disgruntled ones; therefore the world was based upon a stable ground. Sunlight illumined half the world and the trees drew in a tide of warm air.

Mink’s mother, from her upstairs window, gazed down. The children. She looked upon them and shook her head. Well, they’d eat well, sleep well, and be in school on Monday. Bless their vigorous little bodies. She listened. Mink talked earnestly to someone near the rose bush—-though there was no one there.

These odd children. And the little girl, what was her name? Anna? Anna took notes on a pad. First, Mink asked the rose bush a question, then called the answer to Anna.

“Triangle,” said Mink.

“What’s a tri,” said Anna with difficulty, “angle?”

“Never mind,“ said Mink.

“How you Spell it?“ asked Anna.

“T-r-i—“ spelled Mink slowly, than snapped, “Oh, spell it yourself!” she went on to other words. “Beam,” she said.

“I haven’t got tri,” said Anna, “angle down yet.”

“Well, hurry, hurry!” cried Mink.

Mink’s mother leaned out the upstairs window. “A-n-g-l—e,“ she spelled down at Anna.

“Oh, thanks, Mrs. Morris,” said Anna.

“Certainly,” said Mink’s mother and withdrew, laughing, to dust the hall with an electro-duster magnet.

The voices wavered on the shimmery air. “Beam,” said Anna. Fading.

“Four-nine-seven-A-and-B-and-X,” said Mink, far away, seriously. “And a fork and a string and a–hex-hex-agony–hexagonal”

At lunch Mink ,gulped milk at one toss and was at the door. Her mother slapped the table.

“You sit right back down,” commanded Mrs. Morris. “Hot soup in a minute.” She poked a red button on the kitchen butler, and ten seconds later something landed with a bump in the rubber receiver. Mrs. Morris opened it, took out a can with a pair of aluminum holders, unsealed it with a flick, and poured hot soup into a bowl.

Page 3

During all this Mink fidgeted. “Hurry, Mom! This is a matter of life and death! Aw—“

“I was the same way at your age. Always life and death. I know.”

Mink banged away at the soup.

“Slow down,” said Mom.

“Can’t,” said Mink. “Drill’s waiting for me.”

“Who’s Drill? What a peculiar name,” said Mom.

“You don’t know him,” said Mink.

“A new boy in the neighborhood?” asked Mom.

“He’s new all right,” said Mink. She started on her second bowl.

“Which one is Drill?” asked Mom.

“He’s around,” said Mink evasively. ”You’ll make fun. Everybody pokes fun. Gee, darn.”

“Is Drill shy?”

“Yes. No. In a way. Gosh, Mom, I got to run if we want to have the Invasion!”

“Who’s invading what?”

“Martians invading Earth. Well, not exactly Martians. They’re–I don’t know. From up.” She pointed with her speed.

“And inside,” said Mom, touching Mink’s feverish brow.

Mink rebelled. “You’re laughing! You‘ll kill Drill and everybody.”

 “I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill‘s a Martian?”

Part 2 of the story coming next week.

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Cuba: Part 2

Of course how could one go to Cuba without seeing monuments and tributes to Che Guevarra, the famous liberator of the country. Whether his liberation was a good or bad thing is open to interpretation. This mural was on the side of a hotel in the Revolutionary Plaza, not one we stayed at though. Castro used to give hour long lectures in this plaza. Interesting note on Castro, he did not like this image used on building and murals and while you would see his picture often you would not see monuments to him. I would have been curious to hear what the locals opinion of him was. I assume mostly positive, but I suppose it depends on who I’d ask.

At one point in our journey my belt broke so Mike and I took to the streets of Cienfuego to find a new one. We found a friendly old man at a vendor booth who sold me a lovely leather belt, for $4… I think we should have take advantage of the economy and done a little more shopping.

This gorgeous Cathedral and plaza was located next to one of our hotels (back left). It’s a classic example of Spanish colonial style architecture. The cobble stone is made of a soft coral stone that is beginning to erode after nearly 400 years of use. The interior was beautiful but we really only got to stand in the doorway as it cost extra money to tour the whole thing. During the Communist rule the Catholics were allowed to practice, but to a very limited extent.

We had an opportunity to eat on the top level of the hotel that overlooked the back of the church. It was beautiful and I wish we had got a picture from that perspective. But we did mange to get a picture of an alley way in the old town district of Havana.

Speaking of beautiful design, many of the statues of Angles and other figures around town were exquisite. These were in the cemetery in Havana and I took a moment to stand in awe and admiration at them.

Another magnificent structure in the cemetery.

This massive fort was right across from one of the hotels we stayed at in Havana at the harbor entrance. It was fortified as with most major cities in case of an attack.

After the embargo placed on Cuba in the 1950’s no new cars were imported. They had to maintain what they had, which included fabricating their own replacement parts. These cars were in exceptional condition and found only with in the towns or cities, once you started leaving the urban area more donkey and carts appeared.

The Nacional Hotel of Havana was built in the 1930’s and is the largest and nicest hotel in Cuba. We stayed on the 4th floor and overlooked the plaza where we could people watch and see performances in the plaza.

A beautiful luxury hotel, the lobby was marvelous and large. Food could be eaten inside or out and if it’s raining you eat in.

There was a dance performance near the hotel that we got to see. A nice experience of of local art, both music and dance.

I made an appearance in this picture from a museum we visited and especially enjoyed the picture of the old man farmer who I liked so much that I brought a original picture home. He was a good representation of the common man found among the country. We really enjoyed the trip and hope that in time more of the country will open up and the tourist and explore further.

(People told us that there was no tipping allowed but you know how that goes when you have good people doing wondrous things.)

We got many of these pictures from a fellow tour group member and artist, Mike. This is a link to his video slide show of pictures accompanied by music.

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Cuba: Part 1

This was our first glance at the city of Havana under the auspicious watch of the tour group. We planned to tour the cities of Havana, CienFuego and Trinidad. We landed in an airport and were then shuttled to a hotel. Driving through the streets one could really see how old and isolated this country has been.

Almost all the cars were old, but they had painted them and used them as cabs. Our first meal was brought by and enjoyed with local fisherman. Their boats sat out on the sea while they dinned with us on the shore and regaled us with stories of their lives. About how they only saw their wives and families three times a year. Of life on the sea and how they enjoyed their beer.

The fishermen were one of the most interesting experiences of our trip. We got to interact with some of the locals, most of whom spoke English so we got a feel for the community. They were jovial and laughed a lot. We met this group in a small town on the outskirts of Havana, it was a very homey and wonderful experience.

We enjoyed seeing the classic buildings and colors of this culture. We learned they have to repaint them every year because of the harsh weather of both moisture and salt, and extreme heat.

The town had musician street preforms, this guitarist played classic Cuban music and had a container next to him for tips, hoping that there would be enough there for dinner that night. The average person lived off of $6 a day here.

This was a glimpse into mostly Havana, more to come!..

Special thanks to Mike and Carol who took most of the photos and made them into a video:

“Hi There, 

         Visiting Cuba was very eye-opening for me. I’ve gained a whole new understanding and deep appreciation of Cuba and it’s people.  

         I put some snapshots together of our trip to Cuba last month. The pictures are basically in chronological order and put to music from local musicians that we visited. I don’t know what the lyrics are saying but I like the music.

I hope you enjoy the slide show.”

Here is a link to the video: https://youtu.be/MUP8jd2Kr6Q

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Footsteps of the Templars- Aveyron, France. Part 1

Footsteps of the Templars- Aveyron, France.

Heavy hoofs clacked against the graveled road of Covertoirade. Passing through the large gate and tromping through the plaza a man and his horse made their way to the Church. This town was a small holdout of the brotherhood but a holdout none the less. A Templar knight knew he could rely on this place for a nights rest and a meal. The large black stallion carrying an armored man strode up a hill to the ridge that held the fort like structure. Most major buildings of this town were built with the idea of defense in mind. The strong walls that surrounded and incorporated some of the towns buildings showed this place was one accustomed to battle.

It was dusk and torches surrounding the church doors were lit. The knight made his way to them and knocked. A hooded man in a brown robe cracked the door and ask, “Who goes there?”

“I am brother Michel, of the Knights Templar. I hail from Pairs originally but am returning from the latest Crusade of the Holy Land.”

“Ah, come in, come in brother. I have heard this third Crusade was bloody one, one that although failed to capture Jerusalem did pave way for an arrangement of access to the holy city for Christian followers.”

“That is correct, after a long brutal two year battle we managed to take the port-town of Acre and instill fear into the Muslim army- the reason they were willing to negotiate a peaceful avenue for Christian pilgrims. They knew if not this campaign there would be one after another till we had what we wanted: Jerusalem.” Responded Michel.

“Praise be to God. Now come in and follow me to the back, I will fetch you some food and drink and show you to a room where you can rest the night. I will have someone fetch your horse and bring it to the stable adjacent to the blacksmiths workshop.”

So the two men walked through the medieval church to a back door leading down a narrow hallway to small quarters underneath the church. And the weary traveler finally laid down his head after many days of travel. Though no Holy Grail was to be found on his previous adventure he now sought his own back home.

This is a location map for the sites visited.

8-1-12 Averyon, France

We left Montpellier, France on the A-75 highway to Paris. It was heavily packed with Sunday traffic and impacted with roadwork repairs. We exited for the first stop in tracking the Footsteps of the Knights Templar at the 11th century site of Covertoirade.

LA COUVERTOIRADE

This beautiful walled city is set in the middle of pastoral farmlands with distant rolling hills. The entrance to the village is through huge doors that were barred from the inside during attacks. Then crossing a tiny plaza in front of a museum, we continued walking past both ancient and some refurbished houses and shops. The streets were narrow and graveled. We came to a lovely 12th century church adjacent to the castle/armory built on top of a ridge. This height gave oversight of the stream and farmlands below…a very important factor when you live on a road that leads to the ports of the Mediterranean Sea. Although these local Templars were originally concerned with teaching farming techniques and improving the livestock of the farmers, but roving bands of attackers forced them to also become protectors. Since those mercenaries, whether attacking or not all needed water, the Templars devised means for accessibility without their entering the village. Just right of the entrance gates was a single, narrow passage up a rocky hill where only ONE person could climb and fill his container from a cistern.

Randomly scattered throughout the village were small stone barns for the animals, areas farmers wanted to secure during attempted seizures. Other stone structures were used for sheep shearing and butchering cattle, pigs and chickens. Both the single and double floored buildings have deep basements for storing food and animals.

Some houses have already been rehabbed for cafes and artisan shops, and when we were there, one restaurant. The wares of a weaver were advertized on the flag above his shop and below were vibrant blankets, throws and scarves draped over tables and chairs. He said the government was selling these rustic structures cheaply and in particular wanted artisans, -restaurateurs, writers and the like to buy them. There were two stipulations: the owner would remodel (plumbing, electricity et al) and would live there. The benefit being one could freely sell his or her wares. Since tourism was just beginning in this area, the weaver hoped it would become quite profitable. At a nearby jewelry and trinket shop, I bought a number of items for my granddaughter…who loved them!

Hot and overwhelmed by our surroundings, we stopped for a glass of wine. The bar was in the basement of a small house and the owner motioned for inside or out. Cooler inside but more entertaining people-watching out…and soaking up the atmosphere. The quality of the merchandise we saw (and drank) would definitely be a draw.

The walled village had the typically rough rock and loose stone passage ways—definitely for rubber soled shoes only. We ended our tour at the beginning, in the information booth just across from the entrance. The agent recommended the Hotel Midi-Papillon in Saint Jean-du-Brul AND SHE CALLED AHEAD for us. What a wonderful recommendation it was!

Forty-five minutes of driving through lush green hills brought us to an old mill town and farming community of Saint-Jean-du-Brul. The lovely old Hotel Midi-Papillon was built next to a deep gorge. High wooded hills surrounded the village with a rough 13th century bridge crossing the river and a 15th century church at the end.

The Hotel fronted a small patio beside the gorge where we could partake of drinks, cigarettes, and coffee—but not much conversation due to the roaring water. The 18 room hotel was full but the attached medieval building offered the “Marquis Suite” for slightly more money. Being antiquity loving Americans, we jumped on it. Our suite was on the second floor (no elevators in 14th century houses) and the original, broad curving stone stair steps were hollowed in the middle. We didn’t need to worry about damage from dragging the suitcases up—quite the reverse. The front rustic but classic bedroom had a small balcony over-looking the street and, to the left, the 15th century Church. The bathroom had been modernized and was exquisite!

8-2-12

After an excellent breakfast finished with coffee overlooking the misty gorge, we continued our Circuit du Larzac.

LA CAVALERIE

This site was developed in the middle of the ancient north-south route connecting with the Mediterranean ports. Established for the cavalry and, most importantly, shelter for the horses; It became a commercial center supplying both accommodations and safety for travelers.

Within the original fortified walls with its enormous gate, 15th through 17th century houses were added. The structure was established by the Templars and completed by the Hospitallers. The large parking lot behind the compound conveniently has the information booth attached and offered site maps. We walked around the structure and entered by a side gate. On the inside, and attached to the front wall of the fortress, were the original 12th century single room houses. Practical people building their homes above the stables: cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter…if you could survive the barnyard odors. A large double gate at the end of the stables permitted multiple horses to both enter or exit simultaneously. Small groups of workmen were leveling the rough sod of the central plaza; covering the ground with handsome pavers and setting guidelines for sidewalks. (The tourists were coming!)

Most buildings were 2 floors including the first lower level basement where animals and farm equipment had been stored. We saw a few nicely finished structures with attractive small porches and single flight staircases. Some ground level places were setting up as stores or shops and one as a cafe..so far. Several of the rooms above were already inhabited.

Walking toward a garden area we saw a tiny 12th century church at the end. The front doors were open and several candles lit the alter with the only other light coming from a small barred window just above. A narrow control aisle and maybe room for 20 persons on the skinny wooden side benches. The atmosphere in here was conducive to silent prayer. No one was around.

It was wonderful to visit these sites before they had been converted for mass tourism…now I would like to revisit in a few years to see their progression.

After visiting La Cavalerie, we drove to the nearby area where the “Commanders” lived, now a small farm village inside the walled old fortress. The large parking lot had only one car in it although just beyond we saw a small herd of grazing sheep being shepherded by a young boy.

9/13/2012

9/10/2017

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Bits of Wales

HovercraftWe took the Hovercraft from the Dublin  ports  to Wales. Boarding was crowded  with noisy  congeniality. “Learn as you go by observation” and we did. The people in the  lead headed for the curved, split staircase, and ran up for the third  deck. We were right behind them.  The semi-circular tables over lookedthe center of the ship and down to the restaurant area. The booths were backed by broad windows with infinite views.

About two hours later we drove off, looking back at  Holyhead Lighthouse.

Holy Head Lighthouse

About an hour’s drive brought us to the extraordinary  walled Conwy  Castle. The huge 1243 structure overwhelmed both the city and us.

Conwy Castle2

Checking in to a hotel, we hurried off to see this walled city and breath taking Castle Conwy.  Even in the fading early September light, we were able to see that one of the abutments used to support the cast iron chains on this suspension bridge, attached to the castle. Extraordinary construction.

The next morning we toured the old, but colorful  village. People were buying fruits and vegetables from the open fronted shops and fresh fish from the boats along the quay.  Most of the crowd appeared to be local.

The Quay Conwy

That afternoon we drove to Langollen  aqueduct and were amazed with what we saw . There was the aqueduct,  180 feet above the river!

pontcysyllte13

There were narrow boats and house barges winding  along the surface. The depth of the passage was 5 feet and the width was 7 feet…all one way of course. All of the water craft were built to these specifications.  There were off-sets along the way where the barges could be parked.  I wanted to climb on one.

After seeing so many beautiful castles, we looked for a different structure with some obvious historical  wear. Montgomery Castle, built circa 1071 by Roger de Montgomery,  fit this requirement.

                          Old Casftle in Montgomery, Wales

During the Civil War it was demolished by order of the Parliament around 1650. We stayed in Montgomery village,  and walked through misty rain to see the remaining structure on top of the hill…..marvelous view.

Time was running out and we had to plot our return to Ireland so we headed to Castle  Cricieth, not too far from Holyhead and our Hovercraft departure.

Castell Cricieth

This structure was  built 1272 by Edward 1st who set about consolidating English rule in Wales. Subsequent conflicts resulted in the castle being sacked. The town expanded in the 19th century with new transportation links. In 1868 It developed as a Victorian seaside resort which is the way we found it. Looking at the picture you can see several houses below on the right….we stayed  at the second one….with both a view of the castle and the sea.

The next morning, on our way to Holyhead,  we had time to visit the last Castle of this trip and what a sight it was! Castle Caernarfon  was built in 1283 also by King Edward 1st.

Caernarfon Castle

He wanted it to reflect Constantinople, Rome and the Welsh legend. And I think it does all of that.

Because we would be on the ship shortly, and for several hours, we decided to walk through part of the Castle and did.

Caernarfon Castle Interior

2/24/2014

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