Prairie Whispers

The prairie softly whispers in hushed tones as the brisk air of night surrounds our world.
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Photo info: Canon 5d Mark 2 / 70-200 lens / aperture 5.6 / shutter 1/200 / Time of day – 11 a.m.
Blended with cloud images and snow added from Albums DS art

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Rural-sourcing… a new trend?

Great schools in our small rural communities prepare our children for life after high school whether that be entering the work force, military or furthering their education.  A strong sense of family, community and work ethic are valued in our daily lives. Participation in several kinds of extracurricular activities, as well as opportunities to be involved in the arts round out the experience.  Many also hold part-time jobs at local businesses and farms.
And then they leave… only to return for the holidays.  But why?

Jobs that can support a family and are fulfilling as a career force them to seek employment in larger cities. The link below discusses a possible new trend to bring high tech jobs to small towns and rural areas like ours:  Rural-sourcing…

http://www.omaha.com/article/20130314/MONEY/703149926/1697
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Southwest Minnesota and Eastern South Dakota are wonderful places to raise a family so this is an interesting concept to provide economic opportunities to rural areas.
Just a thought…

You don’t choose your life… you live it.

~The Way

Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.

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This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.

It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013.  All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders.  After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself.  The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop.  It’s his turn now.

I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography.  I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts,  and hope to find time to put together other products using images.  (Greeting card line?)  I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.

I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life.  I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!

Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives.  Yep, lots to do.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time.  Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.

Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me…  It’s been a good ride.

Camino Day 8 ~ Meet South Korea, poultry and more.

It’s the afternoon of Camino day eight and we continue down the path.

Spain-1030952dmvOur new friends this afternoon are from South Korea. (From now on referred to as Korea) One is a software engineer for Samsung (My tablet is a Samsung) and the other works at the Seoul airport. They requested a photo with us so we reciprocated.  They started the Camino at the border of France and have been walking for 37 days.  I don’t know how they did the Pyrenees during the winter let alone O Cebreiro.  Tough cookies!

Spain-1030964dmvGrapevines are found on many of the fences. Homemade wine, perhaps?

Spain-1030968dmvSmall, elevated buildings appear in this region. A horreo holds grain and some are quite elaborate with crosses on the top.

Spain-1030973dmvFamiliar scene for those of us from the farm.

Spain-1030977dmvSomehow this character trying to entice me into the bar creeps me out.  Looks like something out of a horror movie!

Spain-1030980dmvYep, still creepy.

Spain-1030983dmvAre you sure this is the way?

Spain-1030988dmvLeft or right?  Hmmm…

Spain-1030989dmvA quick shower of rain, but the temps aren’t too bad. The path winds through old, old buildings in a small hamlet.

Spain-1030993dmvI’m surprised to find so many trees and flowers blooming this early in the spring.

Spain-1030996dmvI tried to find information on Outeiro, Spain but all the pilgrims must be too tired, at this point, to care.

Spain-1030999dmvIt may not be raining right now, but creeks are still running at full speed.

Spain-1040004dmvcrPretty poultry brighten our Camino experience.

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My grandma would say that the Bontons live here. Must be an affluent resident to have a palm tree growing in the yard, landscaping, security fencing and a nicer house than the neighbors.

Randy and I are lagging behind the rest of the group, as usual.  Randy checks in with the 2-way radio.

Randy to Hot Cross Buns… bleep!  Nothing

Again he tries to make contact:

Randy to Hot Cross Buns…bleep! 

Contact is made:  Garble, mumble, rumble, waa-waa-waa…boom,boom-boom, boom… RANDY!!!!

Randy looks at me with a puzzled look,  It sounds like a bar…

Camino Day 7 continues with some suds

Cleanliness is next to Godliness ~ Ancient ProverbSpain-1030835dmvWash day takes on a whole new meaning.  It doesn’t mean quickly throwing a load in and doing something else while it runs through the cycles.

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The swollen river rushes by as I look below from the medieval bridge.Spain-1030824dmv

Scrub-a-dub-dub

Spain-1030837dmvChurch Furelos  in Melide.

Spain-1030838dmvSome of the buildings date back to the 10th century.

Spain-1030839dmvTake advantage of a little sunshine when you can.

Spain-1030843dmvArtwork of Jesus never gets old.  The weathered textures add another dimension to this piece.

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Large stepping-stones are a gift as the rushing water swirls around us. The water wasn’t too deep, but it would have been an inconvenience to fall in, at this point.

We hike through 4 to 5 inches of mud, manure and water, up and down steep hills, all the while enjoying the countryside, small villages and hamlets. (At least, I am enjoying it)  The day is getting longer and fewer photos are captured since I need to make some time and get to our destination.
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Break time.

Spain-1030855People leave coins on the wall, so I think I’ll leave a Jamaican coin I have rolling around in my bag.

Spain-1030860We meet two new Camino friends today from New Jersey.  An Orthopedic surgeon and his fiance, who is a nurse in a memory care facility.  Interesting conversations make the walking seem a little easier.

We arrive in Ribadiso only to find that the albergue has not opened yet for the season and are given directions to an albergue in Arzua.  Another 5 kilometers… A-r-r-r-g-h!!

We walk and walk and walk some more.  This long day is starting to seem like an eternity.

O.K., will we find lodging just around the corner?… past the next grove of trees?…  at the top of this hill?  Maybe it’s never going to appear, and we’ll have to sleep under the stars.

Our distance today is approaching 21 miles.

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A-h-h… O Retiro. You are a friend of mine.

Camino Day 5 …and the beat goes on…

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.  ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spain-1030694dmvThe challenging path continues to be flooded in areas and muddy at best.  I think all of us are beginning to wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and what may lie ahead.  Water-soaked boots are heavy weights and pull on our tired, sore leg muscles as we schlepp along.

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We are now in Galicia and the scenery has blossomed into the emerald green of spring as we weave through woods and dale.  We crossed into Galicia on day four before crossing the snowy mountain and the village of  O  Cebreiro sits near the top.  I must have missed the sign.  (Better go back and hike that mountain so I can see the Galician border sign.)   I’ve read that in the Galician language,  O replaces El.  Our final destination, Santiago de Compostella, is the capitol of Galicia.

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Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia; the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares the common Galician-Portugal medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56.4% of the Galician population always speaks in Galician or speaks more in Galician than in Castilian, while 42.5% speaks always in Castilian or more in Castilian than in Galician. ~ Wikipedia

Spain-1030704dmvOur path continues through a muddy, hilly wooded area and we come across a colorful, although tacky, looking memorial made of cast-off clothing, snack garbage, socks, hats…  It appears as though it is the  pilgrim dump.  I am not impressed with this area since it contrasts so starkly with the quiet, remote woods,  farmlands and small villages.  The site does kind of remind me of Jamaica with its bright colors.  Randy would like to take home that nice jacket on the lower right, but it’s not his size.

Spain-1030705dmvI have no idea what the pine cones are all about.  Any ideas?

Spain-1030707dmvcrRomanesque stone walls border our path as we cross through pasture areas, working our way down to the city of Portomarin.  The slimy mud pulls on our boots and the path is also mixed with  sweet smelling cow manure ~ Watch your step!   The farmer is getting the herd adjusted to their new pasture grounds using a stick and his dog.

Spain-1030712dmvRomanesque walls border the path and pasture and makes for an interesting cattle fence.

Portomarin bridgeThis long bridge over the rushing waters of the Mino River is the only thing between us and our destination for the day, Portomarin, Spain.  I hang tightly onto my walking poles as the strong gusts of wind push, tug and pull on me as if playing the old playground game, King of the Hill.    ~ Photo from Google images.

Portomarin is tucked in amongst the hills of Monte do Cristo and the river intersects the village.  During medieval times people lived on the right bank of the river, in an enclave (territory surrounded by another territory) by the Camino de Santiago.

The Portomarin we see today dates mostly from the middle of the 20th century with much of the old town now below the waters of the Miño.  In the 1950’s Franco decided he wanted to build a hydro-electric dam 40 kilometres down river and in doing so would flood the town of Portomarín.  The townspeople wanted to save some of their most important monuments and transported these stone by stone up to their new home, high above the river, which you see in the photo above.   Now, that would require some heavy lifting!  Parts of the old town resurface in the fall when the water level gets low.

As we first come across the new bridge, we pull our tired bodies up some steps to an arch where we see the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves, built on the site of a former pilgrim hospital.  The staircase is actually the sole remaining part of the original 2nd century Roman bridge, which was destroyed by Doña Urraca.   I would have taken a photo but it was raining.  Go figure…

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Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.

Camino Day 4 ~ Every rock has a story

It is  Camino day four and we are just leaving the hilly vineyard region past Cacabelos and discover a touching memorial along the side of the path.

Spain-1030606dmv Another pilgrim must have passed away near the vineyards.

Spain-1030606-2dmvI hope his daughter was able to finish the Camino and fulfilled his dream, as well as her own.

Spain-1030628dmvI don’t have many photos in Villafranca del Bierzo due to the constant rain, but I just can’t resist strolling ladies.

In the Middle Ages, the town of Villafranca del Bierzo is first mentioned in 791. The origin of the modern town is connected to the Way of St. James as a rest place for the pilgrims which started to reach  Santiago de Compostela from the 9th century.  ~Wikipedia

Spain-1030630dmvcrIf you want clean clothes you need to do the laundry, rain or shine. It is going to take some time to dry if the weather stays like this in Trabadelo, Spain.  The village is in the region of El Bierzo and Galician is spoken here.  It is still the province of Leon but we are getting closer to Galicia.

Spain-1030641Our Spanish is limited and her English is, too.  We still managed to have a wonderful conversation.

Spain-1030639She has to be one of the cutest ladies I’ve seen.  Her twinkling eyes and warm smile can sure brighten up a dreary day.  “Buen camino!”  are her parting words.

Spain-1030642dmvThe 17th century Parish Church of San Nicolas is in the background. This simple church contains a small seated image of the Virgin with Child dating from the Middle Ages.

Our gang is now traveling in three groups.  Kathy, Lori and Jane are together;  Randy and Joyce are bringing up the rear; but where are Joan and Diane?  Are they pursuing an alternative camino experience?  Are they sitting in a bar somewhere, too exhausted to go another step?  Have they been abducted?

Hmmm…