Writing contest on Poetry Sans Frontieres

I wanted to let you all know about an opportunity to flex your creative wings. With this contest, you have a chance to win a beautiful book, (including one of the ones I edited), and to have your winning piece published on the Poetry Sans Frontieres website (http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/contest-page.html).

This contest is for 500 words of poetry or prose. Here is the prompt, which you must respond to in your entry:

“I had gone to no such place but to the smoke of cafes and nights when the room whirled and you needed to look at the wall to make it stop, nights in bed, drunk, when you knew that that was all there was, and the strange excitement of waking and not knowing who it was with you, and the world all unreal in the dark and so exciting that you must resume again unknowing and not caring in the night, sure that this was all and all and all and not caring.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

 

 

 

The Hutongs of Beijing

The Hutongs are the old part of Beijing, quickly disappearing, where you can slip into the past. We took a taxi there, traveling through streets lined with shops and looking quite contemporary, not fancy, but not rundown, lots of restaurants and clothing shops. Then we arrived at the area called the Hutongs.

As old as everything is, there’s a Starbucks near the entrance!

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We were wandering along, wide-eyed, wondering how to find a rickshaw driver to take us around, when a very industrious man found us. He had a laminated piece of paper that showed his rickshaw and all the stops on his tour. So we went with him.

He was wonderful. His rickshaw had a little motor, so we didn’t have to feel badly about him peddling large Americans around on his tour. He didn’t speak much English, but what he did speak, he put to good use. “Nice to meet you!” He would say, with a big grin. And “Rickshaw photo!” Then he’d pull over and take our picture with our cameras. We really loved our tour.

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City Hall Stockholm

The city hall of Stockholm was really fun to visit.

We were there just before an election and there were campaign signs up everywhere. We walked there, which was quite a ways, and the signs for candidates became denser the closer we came to City Hall.

This is the approach.

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We passed the back side of the castle and saw some of the foot guards going up this back road, which was on the other side of the wall where we had watched the changing of the guard the day before. We had been standing by a door, which they opened to admit the guards who started the ceremony. On the way to City Hall, we saw the guards queued up behind the door.   (This shot doesn’t have the guards, it just show the bridge leading up to the back of palace.)

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There’s a cafeteria in City Hall where we had, for Sweden, a moderately priced lunch.

This shot isn’t city hall, actually, but it’s across from it.

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City hall is more of a traditional looking building.

There’s a funny story behind this weird Medusa looking figure, which is in a very beautiful room. That’s real gold paint, by the way. Anyway, what happened was the artist died and the architect had to get someone else to do the figure. I think the substitute artist wasn’t quite as good. The citizens of Stockholm weren’t too pleased with the result! It’s quite huge, too…he he.

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This is the roof of the meeting room, which is lovely. I was wishing I had Leanne Cole’s photography skills. Stockholm-City-Hall-2 I didn’t get great shots of the meeting room, but you can see what it looks like here:

Stockholm-City-Hall-1The blue room is a huge hall where they seat the Nobel Prize laureates for the formal dinner.

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Here is the what the place setting for the Nobel prize dinner looks like:

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They have around 1,300 guests. The number is exact, and all the places are measured precisely so everyone can fit.

At the end of the tour there was this brightly colored board. We figured out all the colored discs were people’s tour stickers. So we added ours. It was kind of fun.

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Overall, the tour was really good. I recommend it.

 

Fall’s farewell

These were from Wednesday. The aspen is one of the three remaining trees I was able to find with leaves still on them. They are in a sheltered spot.

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Those blue jays are in for a jolt to their happy existence. They’ll survive the winter, some always do, but I don’t know how. Fall-1

Wednesday night it started raining and snowing. The last stand of autumn foliage has fallen by now, I’m sure.

Sky crane at Squaw Valley

They are clear cutting trees out of one of the ski runs at Squaw Valley. This helicopter picks the tree up from the mountain and deposits it in the parking lot at a rate of one every 5 minutes. I was awestruck. I’m told one name for this kind of helicopter is a sky crane.

Here it is after it has picked up the tree and is rising up over the ridge back into view.P1060280

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A moment of silence in Doubtful Sound

On the way back on the second day, we were taken into a pristine bay and instructed in the rules of a moment of silence. We were to take our positions so that even the sound of someone’s sneakers slapping on the steps wouldn’t disturb the silence. Of course, we couldn’t take pictures either, not for our “moment,” though we could all happily resume video and photos as soon as it was over.

The sounds of the bird life in Doubtful Sound are faint, perhaps because not so many birds exist due to the introduction of predators to which the native species were not adapted. But with all the engines off, including the generators, and everyone being quiet, birds could be heard calling to one another in the trees on the mountainside.

The water was so still the mirror it made reflected even quite distant waterfalls.

The air was pure and the moment was as spiritual as any I’ve ever experienced.

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