Saturday, August 31, 2013

FEAR OF HEIGHTS?

"Pick up your feet! I can't tell if it's you or
Your dad coming in," mom admonished.
Good advise for Pembroke Coastal Path,
Traveling along edges of 90-degree cliffs.
Rocks, mostly sideways slate, jut up,
Offering plenty opportunity for tripping.

Acrophobia precluded sky diving and
Just about anything else up in the air.
Astonishingly, Pembroke Coastal Path 
Generated neither paralyzingly terror 
Nor prohibitive inhibition as I gazed at
Crashing waves at the bottom of many 
Sheer cliffs inches away from my feet.

This morning, after walking 38 miles in
Five days on St. David's Pilgrimage/
Pembroke Coastal Path in Wales,
Left heel, injured on El Camino in Spain, 
Painful for five weeks in Sweden and
Denmark, minimally hurts. Blessing.
New orthotics, weeks of rest & TLC, 
Welsh coastal air and vistas. Blessings!

Goals achieved. Miracle beyond my 
Understanding or ability to explain.
Well, except for faith, mercy, grace,
Relationships, kindness, generosity,
And, my learning curve, receptivity.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 30, 2013

6th Country

Saturday, August 30, 2013
I have to remind myself about my current location, and I am slightly confused that most people speak English.
We arrived in London by train today about 2:30. School starts on Monday, so many people are celebrating their last free days. The streets are full of people--odd after being in the countryside for 6 days and after walking in the abject silence for 5 days. 
We went to St. Martin in the Fields for a concert tonight: the Belmont Ensemble of London, string group playing Mozart, Vivaldi, and Bach. Wonderful concert. St. Martin in the Fields Church has a fabulous modern stained glass window behind the altar. http://www.flickr.com/photos/syrianakhouri/6812967799/
The photo does not do the picture justice, but you can get an idea. As the evening deepened, the oval egg got increasingly irridescent, and the glow seemed to spread outward. Fantastic. St. Martin in the Field Church is on Trafalgar Square, so we got our first glimpse of a part of London on Saturday evening. LOADS of people!
Tomorrow, Sunday, August 31, we will start walking the Jubilee Trail in downtown London, which takes us by all the famous places I have always heard of. New adventure. I already love being in London. I am pinching myself to be sure that I am awake.
But not for too much longer. Soon to sleep. Our hotel is across the street from the British Museum, so we start there tomorrow.
Cheerio, pip pip!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 5: Final Day on the Pembroke Coastal Path/St. David's Pilgrimage

Again, today, we experienced the full gamut of weather during our 6-hour walk on our last day on the Pembroke Coastal Path: overcast; two minor rain squall--just enough to prompt putting on rain jackets for about as long as it took to get them out of our packs, put them on, and get our gear reloaded; lots of sea breezes bringing waves of mist almost like rain--enough to punk spike my hair; occasional sun--just enough to re-pinken my cheeks. Both of us had just the right gear for the conditions.
One of the scenic wonders was a beach with fist-sized rocks, matte-textured and colored light purple, light turquoise, and light blue; we didn't wet the stones to see the change in color intensity. The slate also changed from just black to magenta and to bright medium blue. The cliffs changed to include a more burnt-charcoal color and also fairly intense blue shadings.
We mostly hiked at the top of the ridges, although sufficient up/downs to keep our blood thumping. Fewer hedges offered the psychological barriers from steep precipices; later in the morning, some fencing appeared at the edge of the cliffs, but often we had no barrier between the narrow path and cliff edges.
One cove was exceptionally long and narrow; we walked the perimeter and then downward to the head and bottom of the cove and a small recreational park. This is the last week before school starts, so public areas are brimming with families. The public beaches offer wet suit rentals for all ages so that people can surf (small surf boards) and kayak; the beach areas are full of frolickers. We crossed the very old bridge, I changed my socks again (every two hours to prevent blisters--works like a charm), and then slogged to the top of the ridge. In the distance, we saw St. Non's chapel, where we stopped to admire an ancient chapel with exquisite stained glass windows. We both began to get weary by mid-afternoon, so we looked toward the next coves with curiosity about the final ascent. By 3:45, we had completed the 5-day Pembroke Coastal Path/St. David's Pilgrimage; called the assigned taxi cabby, Tony; and run minimal errands in town. at this moment, we are comfortably ensconced in the B&B for the evening.
I am thoroughly pleased with our trip. My left heel seems no worse for wear, and, perhaps even better with exercise. I feel physically strong and confident, which I haven't experienced since injuring my heel in mid-July in Spain. I am so glad to have achieved this goal in Wales. Joanne just looked over at me, grinning and exclaiming, "We did a good job!" We are both pleased, and we are both tired. Last night, we each felt sad that the hike was almost over. This evening, we are gratified, satisfied, and sated, for now. The rest of the Wales coast awaits.
Tomorrow morning, we take a train back to London. Tomorrow evening, we will hear a concert at St. Martin in the Field. We will spend the next couple of days seeing London's famous sights. This is my first trip to England, so I want to see places I have always heard about. More soon from Jolly Ol' England.
Love to all, Ann

INVISIBLE ESSES

Indeed it's a conspiracy
Against the Yanks' 
high hopes and 
Low dreads.

Ssseemingly kind
Young man 
First warns of
Upcoming 
Sssnake eating 
Ssslug 
Sssmack dab
In the cccenter of
Walking path.

We cringe.
We imagine.
We prepare 
To be startled.
But no sssnake
And no ssslug.

He also told us
About white 
Baby ssseals 
Being fed by
Their parents.
"Just ahead.
You'll hear
Them cry."

We hope.
We form images.
We anticipate.
We yearn to
Oohhh and ahhhh.
But no adorable 
Ssseall pups on rocks.

A quartet of 
Ssseemingly
Trustworthy elders,
Octogenarians
For cccertain.
Elderly man 
Earnestly notifies
Us of ssseal pups 
Just around the 
Next bend.
"Look for the 
Post, then look
Ssstraight down."

We rationalize.
We reawaken 
Our hopes and 
Our dreams.
We trust again.
We open our hearts
And our minds.
Sssurely, this
Time. . . .

Nope, no pups.
Mope! 
How could they?
Did they gather
Together this
Morning to
Plot and plan
To foil and foul
The Yanks?
"Just tell them 
They'll sssee
Ssseal pups.
They'll buy it, 
Hook, line, and 
Sssinker!

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) August 30, 2013


PEMBROKE PILGRIMAGE: DAY 4

Coastal Path follows edge of
Incredibly sheer cliffs plunging
To the sea in cascades of 
Shimmering textured colors:
Deep purplish-charcoaled rock faces,
Lighter purple and gold heathers,
Green carpets of velvet grass.

Spiky gorse, prickly blackberry 
vines, and hearty ferns form
psychological barriers between
hikers and 90-degree precipices
Merely inches away. Occasional 
Glimpses cause breath-holding
Confrontation of imminent danger 
As well as exhilarating viewpoints
of exquisite beauty beyond
Comprehension or integration.

Simple white acorn siloettes suffice 
As fence post directional markers, 
In contrast to El Camino scallop shells 
and yellow arrows, both in variety of
Permutations and localized design.
B&B host's advice, repeated by cabby:
"Always keep the water on your right."

As gaze rivets on extraordinary view,
Sweating palms attempt to keep
Tight grip on walking sticks to
Steady balance while morbid
Mind has fleeting images of tilting 
To starboard, tumbling to the sea.

Day 4, lack of hedges indicate
Nature and God's confidence in
Hiker's increased courage, prowess,
and ability to stay upright while 
simultaneously seeing heart-stopping 
Beauty and close proximity of
Immediately-descending cliffs.

One-person-wide paths chiseled into 
Cliff surfaces, sometimes even narrower, 
Requiring one-foot-In-front-of-the-other gait,
Like high-fashion models on runways;
Hiking boots stomping down the path
Rather than 9-inch platform heels;
Scrubbed, tanned faces, broad smiles
Rather than dramatic make-up, blank stares.

Embedded in path, vertical slices of 
black or medium blue slate stacked like 
Pieces of breakfast bread in toast rack.
Huge boulders sprinkled by ancient giants
Provide benches for changing socks at
Regular intervals. As trail approached
Huge white sanded beach, more people
On afternoon strolls, path fluctuated and
Sometimes disappeared into meadow.

Last turn of the day around St. David's Head
Results in leaving familiar lighthouse
Landmark behind: Strumble Head Light
Had offered almost five days of comfort, 
A touchstone for start point and for progress.

After usual latte and hot chocolate treat,
Call for taxi for transport to St. David's
Coach House B&B. Vespers at 6 pm in 
Small chapel in huge St. David's 
Cathedral. Immediate tears at organ's 
First notes, soon followed by visiting
Caimbridge choirs' piercing tones.

Small dinner at local pub, working on
iPad updates and writing, long sleep,
Nourishing breakfast, repacking
Backpacks, and off to final day's walk.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ROOMIES: TWO Js

In Copenhagen, shared hotel room,
Convenient to Congress conference.
She knows everyone, even if they
Have not met previously. So social.

Fast extravert, most thoughts spoken.
Forward thinking to avert complications.
Generous and considerate; offering
Specific details: Little Mermaid awards.

Playful, adventuresome, inclusive;
Passion for art, history, and antiquities.
Willing to make second visits to share
With me. Easygoing; easily delighted.

In Wales, companioning on glorious
Coastal Path, sharing spectacular views
Earned from walking near cliffs and repeated 
Up/down hiking. Open and receptive to beauty.

Still upbeat despite unfortunate respiratory 
Virus cramping her usual Energizer Bunny.
Friendly and kind; impish humor quickly
Erupts to clever teasing to lighten moods.

Avidly dedicated to hard work, dogs, music,
Family, and almost anything in the outdoors.
After almost 40 years of friendship, finally
Sharing an exquisite, spiritual adventure.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 29, 2013

Day 4 on Pembroke Coastal Path/St. David's Pilgrimage

Smilar to yesterday, we walked consistently at the top ridge of the cliffs--only several up/downs into ravines. One of my toes continues to be unhappy from Day 2's multiple up/downs--maybe on the way to losing a toenail. The rest of me is getting stronger every day. Hiking is not for the squeamish.
We had Seattle weather today--a little bit of everything: overcast, brief squall, lots of wind, sun enough, etc. Although a longer walk in terms of miles, we made good time and got to our destination by 3:30. We had our traditional latte and hot chocolate, called for our pick up, and made it to St. David's in time for Vespers at St. David's Cathedral, an ancient and very large edifice. I was immediately moved by the choral service (visiting choir from Cambridge), a service which occurs nightly and which welcomes pilgrims. After a small dinner, we repose again in a B&B, this time in Great Britain's smallest city, St. David's.
Tomorrow, our last day on this pilgrimage, we intend to find the Holy Site of St. Non, reportedly St. David's mother.

To appease my curiosity, the following terms apply to the area around me:

Britain: England and Wales
Great Britain: Scotland, England, and Wales
United Kingdom: Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
British Islands: United Kingdom and the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey
British Isles: all of the above plus the State of Ireland

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 3 on the St. David's Pilgrimage in Wales

Splendid day, of course. Today's walk along the edge of the cliffs was flatter, along farms and meadows. A few up/downs to beaches, in which, unfortunately, we did not swim--but tempting! The views were spectacular. In the early afternoon, we could look back to see several layered cove heads--and at the end of the row, Strumble Head Lighthouse where we began both Day 1 and Day 2. Wonderful to see an old friend and to see how far we have walked--around every cove and bend and cliff. The sun was out all day; as in Spain, we are heading west, so we get the full sun in our face for most of the day. We walked from 10-4:30 today.
The tan I did not get in Spain (remember my red splotches that precluded any tanning on my legs?), I am now accumulating in Wales. Not that tanning is my goal, but so much more attractive than red splotches. 
My favorite birds (next to loons), Mourning/Morning Doves are here in Wales. Their call is slightly different along this beautiful coastline.
As we merrily walked along, Joanne had a tune association for almost every exclamatory phrase. Blue skies; what goes up, must come down; follow the yellow (actually, red) brick road; etc. and etc. Today, in comparison with the first two days, we came across a couple of SMALL villages--but no stores with aspirin for Joanne's sore throat. 
My heel was more sore today than at the start of yesterday. Clearly, I am more capable of walking on paths than on flooring or streets. I sit here, as I sat yesterday, with my foot on ice.
I am so glad to be walking in nature again. I am reading The Earth Has A Soul, a compilation of C. G. Jung's writing/lectures about our relationship, or lack of, with nature. I might just enter some quotations at some point. 
Best to all of you!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Pilgrimage: The Way of St. David

Although sore this evening after a very uppy/downy 6.5 mile walk--supremely gorgeous, good weather--but LOTS of elevation gain and loss. The cliffs were right next to the path, the vistas incredibly beautiful, and the weather cloudy turned to partly sunny--jackets on and off, on and off, and on and off again. 
This morning, I had no pain at all in my heel; I started the walk this morning as an able-footed person, just like my projection of everyone else on the path. I walked with my entire left foot on the ground, rather than placing only the ball of my foot on the ground. This miracle lasted a whole 3 hours. I was totally astonished and completely grateful. The next 3 hours were increasingly uncomfortable, with the last hour just bearable. But those first 3 hours were a miraculous gift. First time pain free since July 8th, but who's counting? ME, THAT's who!!
I realized through some literature that the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is also a pilgrimage. This pilgrimage points toward St. David's, Wales, where the relics of St. David were buried in the local cathedral (see previously posted information from Wikipedia). I am happy to be on another pilgrimage! I was walking just fine, at least from 10am to 2 pm. But until the shift, I felt strong and happy, as I had imagined I would be on El Camino. The terrain today was certainly challenging, Pyrenees-esque!
We got a short ride at the end of the trail--about 3 blocks--but I really needed that reprieve. Our meeting point was a working woolen mill--complete with cute shop of woven products of all kinds and a little cafe with the very best scones (plus clotted cream and berry jam) I have ever eaten. Our host picked us up and drove down the bermed lanes, which he explained as leftovers from farmers' piling excess rocks at the sides of the fields; vegetation moved in, increasing both the density and the height of the piled rocks. Roads were added later, so contemporary lanes are bordered by vegetative berms. Quite lovely, actually (said with a posh Welsh accent, of course!!). We are now in another adorable B&B. The room are 45-degree angled from the main building, so no stairs to climb at the end of the day. The only Internet is in the dining room, so I am sitting with a cup of tea and an ice block for my left foot. I am happy and gratified to be here in this fabulously gorgeous countryside with a fairly-workable foot. Tomorrow's walk is supposed to be much easier than today's, though slightly longer. One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath. . . .

Saint James pointed me to a new pilgrimage of St. David in Pembrokeshire, Wales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Saint David
Saint Non's Chapel - Fenster 5 St.David.jpg
Stained glass, Our Lady and Saint Non's chapel, St Davids, Wales, 1934
Bishop
BornDate unknown, c.500
Caerfai, PembrokeshireWales
DiedMarch 1, 589
St David'sPembrokeshire, Wales
Honored inCatholic Church,
Anglican Communion,
Orthodox Church
MajorshrineSt David's Cathedral,PembrokeshireWales
shrine largely extant,
controversial bones in casket
FeastMarch 1
AttributesBishop with a dove,
usually on his shoulder, sometimes standing
on a raised hillock
PatronageWales; Pembrokeshire;vegetarians; poets
ControversyThe earliest of the supposed bones of Saint David and Saint Justinian housed in a casket in the Holy Trinity Chapel of St David's Cathedral have beencarbon-dated to the 12th century.

Saint David (WelshDewi Sant; c. 500 – c. 589) was a Welsh bishop of Menevia during the 6th century; he was later regarded as a saint and as the patron saint of Wales. David was a native of Wales, and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life. However, his birth date is still uncertain, as suggestions range from 462 to 512.[1] TheWelsh annals place his death 569 years after the birth of Christ,[2] but Phillimore's dating revised this to 601.[3]

Monasticism[edit source | editbeta]

Many of the traditional tales about David are found in the Buchedd Dewi, a hagiographywritten by Rhygyfarch in the late 11th century. Rhygyfarch claimed it was based on documents found in the cathedral archives. Modern historians are sceptical of some of its claims: one of Rhygyfarch's aims was to establish some independence for the Welsh church, which had refused the Roman rite until the 8th century and now sought a metropolitan status equal to that of Canterbury. (This may apply to the supposed pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he was anointed as an archbishop by the patriarch).

He became renowned as a teacher and preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Dumnonia, and BrittanySt David's Cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire. He rose to a bishopric and presided over two synods against Pelagianism: the first at Brefi around 560 and the second at Caerleon (the "Synod of Victory") around 569.

St. David as teacher of
St. Finnian in a stained glass window at Clonard

His best-known miracle is said to have taken place when he was preaching in the middle of a large crowd at the Synod of Brefi: the village of Llanddewi Brefi stands on the spot where the ground on which he stood is reputed to have risen up to form a small hill. A white dove, which became his emblem, was seen settling on his shoulder. John Davies notes that one can scarcely "conceive of any miracle more superfluous" in that part of Wales than the creation of a new hill.[4] David is said to have denounced Pelagianism during this incident and he was declared archbishop by popular acclaim according to Rhygyfarch,[5] bringing about the retirement ofDubricius. St David's metropolitan status as an archbishopric was later supported by Bernard, Bishop of St David's,Geoffrey of Monmouth and Gerald of Wales.

The Monastic Rule of David prescribed that monks had to pull the plough themselves without draught animals, must drink only water and eat only bread with salt and herbs, and spend the evenings in prayer, reading and writing. No personal possessions were allowed: even to say "my book" was considered an offence. He lived a simple life and practised asceticism, teaching his followers to refrain from eating meat and drinking beer. His symbol, also the symbol of Wales, is the leek (this largely comes from[citation needed] a reference in Shakespeare's Henry V, Act V scene 1).


Death

The Shrine of Saint David,
built in its present form 1181

It is claimed that David lived for over 100 years, and that he died on a Tuesday 1 March (nowSt David's Day). It is generally accepted that this was around 590, and March 1 fell on a Tuesday in 589.[citation needed] The monastery is said to have been "filled with angels as Christ received his soul." His last words to his followers were in a sermon on the previous Sunday. The Welsh Life of St David gives these as: "Bydwch lawen a chedwch ych ffyd a'ch cret, a gwnewch y petheu bychein a glywyssawch ac a welsawch gennyf i. A mynheu a gerdaf y fford yd aeth an tadeu idi",[7] which translates as, "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us." "Do ye the little things in life" ("Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd") is today a very well known phrase in Welsh.

David was buried at St David's Cathedral at St David'sPembrokeshire, where his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. During the 10th and 11th centuries the Cathedral was regularly raided by Vikings, who removed the shrine from the church and stripped off the precious metal adornments. In 1275 a new shrine was constructed, the ruined base of which remains to this day (see photo), which was originally surmounted by an ornamental wooden canopy with murals of St David, St Patrick and St Denis of France. The relics of St David and St Justinian were kept in a portable casket on the stone base of the shrine. It was at this shrine that Edward I came to pray in 1284. During the reformation Bishop Barlow (1536–48), a staunch Protestant, stripped the shrine of its jewels and confiscated the relics of David and Justinian.

Reputation[edit source | editbeta]

David's popularity in Wales is shown by the Armes Prydein Fawr, of around 930, a popular poem which prophesied that in the future, when all might seem lost, the Cymry (the Welsh people) would unite behind the standard of David to defeat the English; "A lluman glân Dewi a ddyrchafant" ("And they will raise the pure banner of Dewi").

Unlike many contemporary "saints" of Wales, David was officially recognised at the Vaticanby Pope Callixtus II in 1120, thanks to the work of Bernard, Bishop of St David's. Music for hisoffice has been edited by O.T. Edwards in Matins, Lauds and Vespers for St David's Day: the Medieval Office of the Welsh Patron Saint in National Library of Wales MS 20541 E(Cambridge, 1990)

David's life and teachings have inspired a choral work by Welsh composer Karl JenkinsDewi Sant. It is a seven-movement work best known for the classical crossover series Adiemus, which intersperses movements reflecting the themes of David's last sermon with those drawing from three Psalms. An oratorio by another Welsh composer Arwel Hughes, also entitled Dewi Sant, was composed in 1950.

Saint David is also thought to be associated with corpse candles, lights that would warn of the imminent death of a member of the community. The story goes that David prayed for his people to have some warning of their death, so that they could prepare themselves. In a vision, David's wish was granted and told that from then on, people who lived in the land of Dewi Sant (Saint David) "would be forewarned by the dim light of mysterious tapers when and where the death might be expected." The color and/or size of the tapers indicated whether the person to die would be a woman, man, or child.


More Facts about Abergwaun/Fishguard and B&B

Cefn-Y-Dre in Abergwaun/Fishguard
This large country home, built by William Dryer, has been lived in since 1512. In 1910, (David) Lloyd George's younger brother, William George, married Anita Williams in Fishguard, reportedly the most important event since the last invasion (by the French) of Britain in 1797. The current owners of the B&B have remodeled and updated the home and gardens, resulting in a homey, beautiful residence. Art abounds, as do gardens for flowers and herbs. In our bedroom, the art includes a wooden red chair with gold-patterned back designed by Lord Snowden for for the 1969 Investiture of HRH Charles as the Prince of Wales. We snooze among great historic events.

Monday, August 26, 2013

EXCLAMATORY BEAUTY

Roads and paths bordered by high berms form
Person-height protective verdant canyons.
Seventy-inch rain and thick fog nourish vegetation:
Rolling green hills; meadows chock filled with
Colorful wild flowers, wild berries, prickly bushes;
Pastures dotted with sheep, cattle, and horses.

Rugged coastline reminiscent of Oregon, but
Greener. Undulating coves jutting into diamond-
Glinting waves in Irish Sea, home to bobbing
Seals. Late-morning sun gave way to invading 
Fog, almost obliterating view of water. Cliff-
Hugging trail dove down ravines, then back up.

At bottom of unusually dark, tree-canopied canyon,
Like descent into Dante's Inferno, into our depths, 
A swing, graced by family with late teens, provided
Momentary play in primordial, time-immemorial terrain.
Mournful, repetitive foghorn, like enormous lowing cow, 
Alerted ships to potential dangers of rocky coastline. 

Though not optimal, foot discomfort and companion's
Head cold were manageable, especially in presence of
Breath-taking natural beauty. Other walkers: solo, coupled, 
All ages of children; accompanied by a trio of rambunctious 
Border collies, timid bass hound, or docile brown lab; 
Full camping gear or sandals and no rain or fleece jackets.

As we approach first of three connected villages, my energy
Gave way to limping. Several kind neighbors offered assistance,
But we'd already phoned our gregarious cabby, who dropped
Us at Pepper's for scrumptious hot chocolate, latte, dinner.
Again approached bermed lane to B & B, greeted by smiling
Hostess offering ice pack; finding folded pjs under pillows.

As nearby cows complained to get fed and/or milked, we showered,
Climbed into fluffy robes, and settled into a well-earned evening
Of conversation, reading, and napping, until time for deep sleep.
Awakened mid-night, my mind turned over and over with words
Describing miraculous ability to hike again through sumptuously
Beautiful territory, not pain-free, but manageable with gratitude.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 26, 2013

WALKING IN WALES

Met up at last in London hotel near train station.
Unsatisfying pub meal; sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.

Alarm didn't go off. Half dressed. Missed breakfast.
Walked in rain. Dragged luggage to Paddington.
 
Confusing, chaotic station. Luckily, train delayed.
Crowded, unorganized. Asked many questions.

Last leg cancelled. Grumpy clerk. Fast food.
Changed trains; re-routed to Haverfordwest.

Reversed out of small towns off main track.
Four-seat arrangement; switch seat each rotation.

Picked up by boistrous, reassuring cabbie;
Carrots Cabs, not orange, not pointy-ended.

B & B bucolic, lovely; nurturing, kind, warm smiles.
Cozy room. Soft water. Cows lowing outside window.

Gracious hostess and host open their doors and hearts.
Delicious snack, dinner, breakfast, and box lunch.

Other guest, delightful conversations, helpful info.
Cheerful, energetic, youthful retired priest from USA.

Relief to sort through and reorganize suitcases.
Packet of materials to reorient to next journey leg.

Sleep like a rock; sov som en sten. Feeling hopeful.
Morning fog dampens surfaces. Sunlight breaks.

Optimistic re-dedication to walk. Taxi delivers to trail head.
From Strumblehead back to Fishguard, where we sleep.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 26, 2013

Wales B & Bs

On this marvelous trip, we stay for two nights in each B & B. 
Sunday and Monday, we are staying at Cefn-Y-Dre. http://h-rez.com/a346681/index.htm?lbl=ggl-en&gclid=CKbQouHXm7kCFfLHtAodkXAAxg
Tuesday and Wednesday nights, we will be at http://www.yrhafan.co.uk/index.php
Then Thursday and Friday nights, we will be at The Coach House in St. David. http://www.laterooms.com/en/p1301/pv1180822ukDVCt/Landing.aspx

Pretty, comfortable, delicious food. What a marvelous experience.
Love to all.

Walking, Yes, Walking in Wales!!!

Even before I write a poem, I must celebrate by telling all of you that I was able to walk the first day of a five-day walk on the Pembroke Coastal Path in Wales today. Thanks to all of you who pampered me these past 5 weeks. Thanks especially to all my svenska släckningar who housed, fed, and greatly entertained me while I recuperated. We did it!!! I was able to walk the first day for 7 miles/12 km on this glorious path along the western Wales coastline on the Irish Sea. We had sunshine for the first couple of hours, after which waves of fog all but obliterated the actual waves below us. We saw beautiful wild flowers and two seals bobbing in the seas below the cliffs. I now sit here in the fabulous B & B Cefn-Y-Dre (google it!) after a delightful dinner snack in Fishguard, now resting my heel on a block of ice. Yup, my heel was sore, and I was limping the last mile, but I felt better this morning (before walking!) than I have in many weeks. We'll see how I am in the morning, but at least I got this gorgeous day. 
Thanks again, specifically to Karin: you introduced me to The Pilgrimage; our 8 days on The Camino taught me so much. I used my sticks today for great support. I do not miss any of the hiking equipment that I left with Klara. I saved just enough things for this walk even though I didn't think I would be able to walk in Wales. AND, as we hiked up and down 3 or 4 fairly steep hills, I was able to say (mostly for my own benefit), "This is nothing compared to the Pyrenees!!!"
I am all smiles, and foot on ice! Love to all. 

Update from London/Wales

8-25-13
Joanne made it to the London Paddington neighborhood hotel, slept for several hours, and then we went out for pub food. Still minimally raining, food merely passable, returned to sleep and sleep. The alarm didn't go off, and then the time zone shifted by an hour, so we awakened at 7:57 for an 8 train. We made it to the station; very confusing to get actual tickets and to determine the platform location. The train was actually half an hour delayed, which delayed the whole day, resulting in arriving 3 hours later than planned. Luckily, the gracious B&B hostess/host had enough food for us for dinner, so we ate a wonderful meal, had pleasant conversation with another walker, and are now ready for bed.
A day that started out backwards has turned around once again.
I WILL try the walk tomorrow. My foot has felt so much better these last 2 days--remarkable really. I feel trepidatious, but I will try this first day.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

BUMPY RIDE

Sudden elevation loss ratchets reactions.

Stomach lurching, churning, tossing, turning.
Quick, hot flush of adrenaline rush.
Riveted focus, startled rapt attention. 
Shallow, rapid breathing.
Blood pounding in temples and wrists.
Hands grip arm rests; back arches backwards.

Images of plane dropping downward out of sky toward land or water.
TV news scenes of broken plane parts strewn across long distances,
Luggage scattered, limbs ripped from bodies, shoes without feet.
Terrified relatives await life-or-death information with rigid bodies,
Brows furrowed, eyes downcast or darting, cheeks streaked with tears.

Is this just a moment? 
How long will this last?
Will we pull out of this?
Is this it? 
Is it time for me to die?
Will I survive and be disabled and in pain?
What will it be like to plunge down out of control?
When will I realize we are crashing?
How long will it last?
Will I scream or pray?
Will I reach out to others?
Who will I think about?
What parts of my life will flash forward?

Crises bring everything into immediate question.
Priorities focus, racing and surging to surface.

Chaos averted, plane levels off.
Relief to have another chance.

Accept that gift and run with it!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 24, 2013

Post Cards From No Man's Land--portions I like from this book

I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.
Anne Frank, p. 32
 
Old and young, we are all on our last cruise.  
R. L. Stevenson, p. 38

How long before my death is the necessary question. 
John Webster, p. 65

We become what we behold. 
William Blake, p. 90

I see with an eye that feels and feel with an eye that sees.
J. W. Von Goethe, p. 120

Begin at the beginning, the king said gravely, and go on till you come to the end. 
Lewis Carroll, p. 134

Growing up is, after all, only the understanding that one's unique and incredible experience is what everyone has.  
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (I forgot to note the page number.)

The gift of pleasure is the first mystery.  
John Berger (I forgot to note the page number.)

One does not always sing out of happiness. 
Pierre Bonnardi (I forgot to note the page number.)

The great object of life is sensation--to feel that we exist.  
Lord Byron (I forgot to note the page number.)

"What a need we humans have for confession. To a priest, to a friend, to a psychoanalyst, to a relative, to an enemy, even to a torturer when there is no one else, it doesn't matter so long as we speak out what moves within us. Even the most secretive of us do it, if no more than writing in a private diary. And I have often thought as I read stories and novels and poems, especially poems, that they are no more than the author's confessions transformed by their art into someting that confesses for us all. Indeed, looking back on my lifelong passion for reading, the one activity that has a kept me going and given me the most and only lasting pleasure, I think this is the reason that explains why it means so much to me. The books, the authors who matter most to me speak to me and speak for me all those things about life I most need to hear as the confession of myself" (p. 275).

Chambers, A. (1999).  Postcards from no man's land. London, England: The Bodley Head.

Update from London

8-24-13 Waiting for another plane. Today, I fly from Copenhagen to London for the last stage of this marvelous journey. Tomorrow, from London, pal Joanne and I go to Wales, where we had initially planned to walk the Pembroke Coastal Path. Although better, my foot continues to be sore, especially in the mornings and evenings. I have not tried much walking, so I am not quite clear about my capacity. I walked OK in the airport this morning. Joanne will walk; if unable to walk, I will be transported with the luggage--talk about excess baggage!
I enjoyed the Jungian Congress. Although I "arrived" on Sunday afternoon, I emotionally "landed" Thursday evening. I enjoyed the previous days, but rather tentatively--lots to take in and integrate. Thursday evening, two of our Seattle Jungian Psychotherpists Association colleagues, Elizabeth Clark-Stern and Lindsey Rosen, and their crew, presented their play, On the Doorstep of the Castle, to an appreciative audience. They asked me to be stage manager, which I greatly appreciated.
Very good time with roomie, Janet, with whom I will also connect later in London--wonderful to get even more deeply connected to a very good friend. 
Next to connect with Joanne, with whom I will travel to Wales and, later, to see London.
I am working my way ever westward. I fly back to Seattle on September 3rd, leaving London at 3:00 pm, arriving in Seattle at 4:35 pm; short flight!!

Well, the Camino challenges continue. I arrived at Heathrow Airport in London and easily got a cab to the Best Western Hotel near Paddington Station. When I looked for my credit card to pay the cabbie, the card was not there. I had left the card in the boarding pass machine in the Copenhagen Airport. The cab driver said that few London cabs accept credit cards, but he took my other card with a 10% surcharge. I had just gotten used to paying taxi by credit card! I hadn't even thought about exchanging for English pounds at the airport.
Thank goodness this hotel has good Internet (the Copenhagen hotel's Internet was VERY spotty). After first telling my sister (of course), I got on the Internet to find my credit card company's phone number to cancel the card. So far, no charges. I had made a copy of the other card, but not this one. 
So, I think all is well at this moment. I am not freaked out. I think all will be well--and not perfect, which is just the way life is.
And home is looking better all the time!! Love to you all.

Friday, August 23, 2013

HEARING VOICES

No, don't worry, I am not going mad,
Nor going away mad,
Nor going to sleep mad.

During disharmonious chords 
In an organ recital, 
I heard agitated voices,
Insistent conversations, 
But no discernible words.

Did music prompt synaptic
Musings in my memory?
Did ongoing inner chatter 
Echo the music?

Nothing outside the music.

At sleep time several days later,
More animated voices, 
Occasional laughter, and
Roaring crowd noises of approval. 

Several times I got out of bed to check 
Whether something was happening 
On the street in front of the hotel.
Was I hearing an event from Tivoli?
Was the roar just a car passing by?

Nothing outside the hotel! 

Both events were merely noises which 
My mind interpreted as other humans' 
Communicating in various ways.

Nothing to worry about.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 22, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

TITANIC: SWEDISH CONNECTION

While in Finsång, one of the surprise events was 
Attending a Titanic exhibit in nearby Norrköping.

Nautical replications emotionally stimulated present-time, 
In-vivo experience, augmented by evocative narration, 
Music, photos, furniture, furnishings, actual possessions,
Newsreel footage, and piece of touchable simulated ice.

Many intentional and circumstantial mistakes caused 
More than 1500 deaths, of which 703 were passengers;
More than half were crew, including engine-room workers 
Immediately engulfed by gushing, ice-cold ocean water,
As well as band members who played on during submersion.

3rd Class passengers, in below-decks cabins, with less
Access to minimal evacuation mechanisms, died at 
Higher percentages than 1st/2nd Class passengers. 
Rather than on holiday, many 3rd Class passengers, 
Often whole families or people at the end of their
Ropes with one last desperate attempt to start anew,
Were emigrating to the The New Land, the USA.

Many of the emigrating 3rd Class passengers from
Scandinavia, specifically Sweden, were linked with
Minnesota, even to a specific town,Tower, Minnesota, 
+50 miles northeast of my hometown, Hibbing, MN.

Realistic environment allowed visitors to quickly adopt
Imaginative space to see, hear, and feel relatively-minescule 
Yet emotionally-excruciating experiencial moments of empathy.
Details brought already-heart-breaking reality to heightened
Physical awareness and palatable individual relatedness.
Walking through exhibit rooms, heart constricting and
Eyes burning and erupting with tears for dashed hopes, 
Terror, unimaginable trauma, and anticipated death. 

Passengers were trapped, seeing water rise in cabins and
Hallways. Others watched from overfilled, wave-tossed
Life boats, often death boats, as other people fell or 
Jumped into freezing waters, or disappeared when the 
Ship broke into two pieces and quickly, unbelievably, 
Sank out of sight. Then interminable wait for rescue.

On walls of final exhibit room, posted lists of categorized 
Deceased passengers' names confronted and cemented
The full reality of the immense tragedy and loss of lives.
Listed alphabetically, families stood out by repetition of
Surnames, so often Scandinavian. Lost lives, lost futures.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marvelous Day in Denmark

Marvelous workshops all day. Went to a new local church, Vejleå Kirke, with marvelous modern stained glass windows and a fantastic organ. The glass artist talked to us about his work, and the organist gave a concert; we then had dinner in the church basement--very good Danish meal. Church is worth Googling: www.ishoejkirker.dk
Going sightseeing tomorrow--skipping the presentations for a different kind of fun.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hej, Phil, from Köpenhamn

You first introduced me to Jung, in my memory at least. Some large dark auditorium in Seattle; my asking, because I was working as a Public Assistance case worker, "How can this work  benefit people  dealing with poverty and oppression?" But the hook was set, and, ever since, I have actively participated in Jungian work from both personal and professional perspectives. Thanks for your initiation which altered the course of my life. Here I sit at the International Jungian Congress in Copenhagen/Köpenhamn, processing my owns responses and soaking up ideas and images.

Checking-in from Copenhagen/Köpenhamn

After my sorta-whiny post this morning, I am checking-in to say I am just fine. I wish I could walk more easily, because we are across the street from a small lake with a pretty path--and we seem to be in the center of town. Oops, I am whining agin.
Actually, I am having a wonderful time laughing, learning, and being with Seattle friends. We will go out tomorrow to see more of Copenhagen for a little shopping, visit a museum, and get a sense of this marvelous city. I am enjoying and benefitting from conversations and from presentations. I see famous people within the Jungian world--just walking around in the midst of us. I am amidst 7 colleagues from Seattle, which is pleasant and comfortable. Back to listening to an educational presentation.

Hours later: Just adding a few more thoughts to this already-publilshed post. I now feel in my stride of feeling comfortable and oriented (spellchecker just corrected my speed/inaccurate typing to "omitted," thus continuing to present both ends of the continuum so that I don't get too one-sided in my appreciation of feeling "better")--so tempting to overvalue "good" feelings rather than equally valuing both end of the continuum, thus keeping my eye on wholeness. SIGH--always in process, never done, thank goodness.

Monday, August 19, 2013

CROSS-CULTURAL SILENCING

In Sweden, often both internally and externally silent.
In public, seldom understood direct or indirect conversation,
So mostly silent, mute when Swedish spoken around me.

Anticipating easy conversation and passive knowing
In Denmark with close friends and dear colleagues, feel
Excluded and silent as analysts talk re training and analysis.

Wherever I am, there I am: feeling outside of The Club.
Less confidence in my self-proclaimed introversion, I now
Wonder about protection, avoidance, and self-censoring.

Many excuses and hideouts over time: focus on children,
Shyness, leftover complexes of attachment and abandonment.
Unfortunately, dissatisfaction and wishful thinking.

Two steps forward, one step backward--improvement of 
Self-Awareness and supportive acknowledgement;
Renwal of acceptance of reality in actual moment.

Afternoon lectures re Jung's Red Book: we all have
Issues and are close to the edge. The goal: accept and 
Embrace all; acknowledge that wholeness is inclusive.

Evening film, Wisdom of Change, offered advice: direct 
Empathy for suffering and for joy; psychological balance.
The challenge: fully accept myself in this and every moment.

Perhaps silence has a function. Perhaps?? Of course.
Reflection, internal processing, time to reorient/recover.
Don't worry, be happy. 

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 20, 2013

WALKING IN SPAIN; WRITING IN SWEDEN

In Denmark, taking with colleagues about my summer,
Lindsey gave me the title of my poetry book, extended
From my preliminary title: Walking in Spain with Karin.
Lindsey added the phrase "NOT!" after her initial phrase.

My personal Camino has been fascinatingly illuminating, 
Nourishingly validating, richly satisfying, startlingly surprising, 
Calmly centering, directly focusing, and wonderfully fruitful.
Hyperbole, exaggeration, hubris? Just truthfully descriptive.

L. Rosen. Personal communication, August 19, 2013.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August, 19, 2013

DON'T OVERFUNCTION

Describing many reasons I could not perform an act,
Immediately followed by heroic vow to accomplish, 
Elizabeth calmly cautioned, "Don't overfunction."

No exclamation point, no raised inflection.
Not motherly, not instructive, not preaching.
A simple suggestion that hit deeply true for me.

Anxious about the future and about my value,
I often leap to action, doing, giving, proving.
Be seen as caring, contributing; earning my way.

Note to self: Just relax, just be, just tell the truth;
Don't apologize about things I don't/can't do.
Stay quieter, be present, focus on strengths.

Breathe, breathe, breathe; write, write, write.

E. Clark-Stern. Personal communication. August 19, 2013.

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) August 19, 2013