Saturday, October 20, 2018

AFRICAN MEMORIES
OCTOBER 20, 2018

  It seems like sooo long ago that I was in Africa...   specifically, in Ethiopia (to visit my two, very dear "adopted" families and friends...) and Kenya, to visit some   elephant orphanages. An August visit... over all too soon... leaving me a suitcase filled with memories. My KARA (tribal name) families live in the Omo Valley that spans the border of Ethiopia and Kenya...a truly remote and forgotten corner of the African continent. It's peopled by ancient, exotic, primitive tribes who live as pastoralists. Warm and caring people, they're famous for their body painting. Here are some photos of members of my two families...we've been "family" for more than 15 years...these are from my latest visit. I see them each year...


Some of the animal photos in the collage above are from Kenya where we were privileged to spend time in TSAVO National Park with orphaned elephants... some very young... some older. We saw them socializing in the bush, at watering places, being fed their bottles, casually eating their hay, playing together...all close enough to touch... and touch we did, when the ellies were open to being touched. We also saw the only mammoth elephants with giant tusks left in the world. Ellies carrying a special gene, this handful of giant tuskers are all in TSAVO. Think wooly mammoth, but without hair. They're enormous! 


An added bonus were the other animals and birds we saw. There are  always unique and fun surprises  when I put my Africa travel plans in the hands of the ORIGIN SAFARIS (https://originsafaris.com) travel company. Each trip I take with them is a "trip of a lifetime..." and there have been many!
Here are a few more photos from this exciting trip...


Off again in October to Romania. See my next posting in a few days for a view of once-Communist Romania, a country with stunning landscapes, astounding ancient art, delectable food and warm, friendly people. 

Thanks for checking in.

Big hugs,
abbyj

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

MUSICAL HEARTS
August 1, 2018

Music rules our immediate family...not a bad thing! My mom was a gifted piano player and singer. I  can still see her sitting with my father on the piano bench as they sang together, creating her special brand of magic. My love of music comes from her. 

I often picked up a guitar and just enjoyed singing for my own enjoyment... then, as a married woman, wife and mother, I loved singing in St. Paul's Cathedral choir for several years- until committing to the weekly rehearsals and the promise of every Sunday morning became nearly impossible. How I miss the music, though... it was food for my soul. I have quite a bit of the old English choir music...the masses as well as traditional psalms... on my mobile devices to enjoy, even if I don't have the pleasure of singing them anymore in my choir robe!

Our daughter was always in musical theater productions and choirs throughout middle school, high school and university. Now, she sings with the Tempus Choral Society near her home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada...joyfully and with her whole heart. 


My former (but still dear) son-in-law is a talented and much requested professional musician (primarily trumpet) who continues to play with many of the greats...I believe he's our grandson's role model. 
Our grandkids have loved music as long as they've been alive...and they've pursued it, in one way or another.
Now, as teenagers, they're serious about their music...both auditioned and were accepted into high schools for the arts, where they can pursue their passions. Our grandson is a gifted trumpet player (like his Dad) and is part of several special musical groups both in school and outside of academia. This summer, he auditioned and was invited... one of the youngest members... to join a Drum Corps out of Seattle, Washington- the Seattle Cascades. The corps has been traveling across the United States since June, competing with other drum and brass groups from all over. We're so proud of him...he not only had to play very challenging music but had to march and dance while playing. (These photos are courtesy of the Seattle Cascades...we're going to see them perform LIVE next week in Erie, Pennsylvania.)







Their schedule was very demanding...rehearse for several hours... twice a day... then perform in weather as hot as 106 degrees in Texas!! WOW!!

Our granddaughter's musical path has been in musical theater for several years now and she'll pursue her interest and talent in a high school dedicated to the arts. We're equally proud of her gift for acting as well as singing and dancing. Did I mention that she's a drummer in a local band as well?







What a blessing music has been...and continues to be...in our lives. I wonder if music is in the future  for our grandkids, Hunter and Lilly. I guess that's one of the jobs of a grandparent- to think about the future of those they love and to wish for the best!!

Thanks for checking in...,
Until the next...
BIG HUGS,
abbyj

Saturday, July 21, 2018

UMBRIAN TREASURES
May 2018 (Part II)

Orvieto's location in central Italy provides the opportunity to visit a variety of unique, nearby cities, towns and villages. We grabbed the chance to check out several places I'd like to share with you...
BOLSENA, on a lake by the same name, is an extraordinarily ancient place with lots of charm and ambiance...even in the pouring rain.











CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO is less known than Orvieto or Assissi (for example,) mostly because of it's location. The town lives in the clouds atop a rock that sits, precariously, above a huge canyon. The rock seems to erode and fall away more and more with time. It's a good example of a town that's been left relatively untouched by the modern world. Connected to the mainland by a single bridge, there are no vehicles in the town (other than those delivering a service.) Interestingly, the actual population of Bagnoregio is only TWELVE residents!









Dating back to the years 1000 AD to 1250 AD (the High Middle Ages,) charming MONTEFIASCONE, with a view of Lake Bolsena, is a true hill town, buzzing with activity!














BOMARZO is about 30 minutes from Orvieto. It's best known for it's PARK of MONSTERS. Created in the mid 1500's, it was not meant to be pretty...it was created to be shocking. With sculptures carved of local tufa rock, this surreal garden was left to ruin for over 300 years. It was rediscovered by Salvador Dali in 1938 and restored in the 1950's. It's a mix of fantasy and mythology...and great fun to explore.









Finally, we  visited GUBBIO, a masterpiece of a medieval town, rich in historical and artistic heritage as well as ancient traditions. It's the oldest town in the Umbria region.



















Umbria is a stone's throw from Tuscany...both are most beautiful regions in magical Italy. Thanks for taking this armchair trip with me. Hope you enjoyed the eye-candy. Perhaps you'll plan a journey to this enchanted country in the near future...

Big Hugs,
abbyj