Barcelona … small pics of a big city

My wife and I went to Barcelona last week. We did a lot of walking and looked around. The sunnier and warmer than home weather was nice. And the coffee … I miss that already.

Check out what I saw.

In my next blog post I’m going to try and capture my new found like for that famously tasty and just a bit addicting Spanish ‘jamon’. You may have heard about it 😉

Advertisements

When it Rained

this summer, it filled silver metal buckets and drenched the ground.

Random Saturday

these images are a few of the things that grabbed my attention yesterday

Natural Cat Toys or Feline Fun

Are you also owned by a cat? Do you let it outside? We are and we do. They … two of those irresistible feline creatures own us. We’re all in.  And they on occasion, either one or the other or arguably in concert commit heinous acts that are more acceptable if referred to simply as hunting. We are helpless or is that hapless?

If you also allow for their oft somewhat irritating mewling wishes to be let out into the great outdoors your feline overlord probably also exhibits similar borderline criminal habits and/or commits similar violent crimes.

Feline Hunter 1

Feline Hunter 1

Perhaps your pet felines’ victims are more typical, like slow birds, the odd butterfly or deaf&blind mice. Not ours, no. Although from the speed with which they race up into the  tree in the corner of our small back yard, you’d believe that they believe that this time they could really actually fuckin’ do it, catch one of them birds that is. But the birds always have the lats laugh/chirp. And fly away unscathed if a bit ruffled.

And lets not forget the one time not too long ago… I was enjoying my first of two Sunday morning coffees on the patio when I heard what my brain encyclopedia construed to be pathetic bird screeching noises, which in turn led me to turned towards the noise and to look and to believe for a brief moment in the very possible fact that ‘they’ had finally snagged one of their feathered and unsuspecting tormentors.

My brain had been wrong that early morning, very wrong. That while it was true that one of the feline hunters had indeed snagged some prey, it was not a wee bird, nope. It was a mouse. And that mouse was reacting rather violently to being disturbed by a cat. Loudly too may I add. The funny thing was that said cat became a bit clumsy and more to it, even surprised I think judging by her reactions to/by the reactions of said mouse. So surprised in fact that  any skill connected to such a speedy catch simply disappeared and cat appeared to fumble about even more clumsily while the vociferous mouse employed every trick in its power and rapidly extricated itself from clumsy cat and raced for the safety ofsome hole in the ground, leaving a slightly bewildered feline scratching her chin. A good laugh, that. For me and the mouse, not the cat.

No dear reader, our two lethally clawed, sharp fanged murdering pets appear to be specializing in the slithering kind of prey, something one could at a glance think of as a snake. But it is not a real snake.

As the weather is warming up nicely, it seems that these snake like lizards litter the cats’ territory. I say litter because it is becoming a daily event, one or both of show up in the yard or sometimes inside with a long writhing surprise. A prize they play with, puncture, toss about but never devour or visible disfigure. They don’t even appear to nibble on the poor things, not even a bit, but they certainly perforate the smooth skin with their super sharp finger tips.

Copyright © wildlife-media.at/bilddetails/26995/blindschleiche

Copyright © wildlife-media.at/bilddetails/26995/blindschleiche

The given name is Blindschleiche aka Anguis Fragilis, although it is not blind. It is found all over Europe and loves to hang out in damp areas such as gardens, among foliage, compost heaps, soil or among sheltering rocks or stones. They loose their tails just like lizards, don’t have legs nor do they sport the distinctive arrowhead shape snake head. They eat slugs and worms and on average are 35045cm in length with some even stretching to 52cm long.

Ideal cat toys according to the enthusiasm our feline hunters exhibit when showing off their latest catch. And don’t fool yourselves. Cat’s don’t care about fragile when they hunt or play, they simply don’t give a shit.

Feline Hunter #2

Feline Hunter #2

We save as many as we possibly can by distracting the felines and then perform a simple yet magic trick that always leaves the cats guessing…  with a WTF look on their focused fury faces … “hey man, it was right here just a second ago” 😉

The Wood is the Journey

Wood. It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. I’m looking at some right now. My feet are firmly planted on some too. I like it. I’ve always liked wood. That’s an ingrained thing. Wood makes me feel good.

I’ve always done things with wood, carving walking sticks or carving other things. But many years ago I put the more serious carving aside. You just know.

Perhaps you dear reader have experienced something similar with your toolbox of human talents and creative skills. You sense it and you can’t really ignore when something within you refuses to be abandoned, when the pilot light of creativity remains alight. Time goes by but the thoughts, ideas and dreams keep coming. And so it was. And so it is. And so I returned to the tools, the feel and the wood.

A dear friend was instrumental in this return and I am thankful for that. I simply joined the wood sculpting course he was in an the rest took and is taking care if itself. The feeling of relief a sure sign that I was doing the right thing. That I was doing what I should be doing. That it was good to touch the wood and to reconnect with the familiar. I began with a warmup piece, creating in a larger scale the same spiral lines I usually use on walking sticks, this time on a birch log. I still need to finish that one, it is roughed out and ready for finishing work it was a warmup piece and remains a work in progress.

1

When the wood feeling firmed up, I bought tools and will buy more tools

2

A second piece began to take shape and is leading me along an unfamiliar path which is intriguing and a bit frustrating at the same time because it is drawing me out of my comfort zone.

And then I found olive, or it found me. Actually a largish chunk of olive trunk wood. Wow. What a find. The possibilities …

4

top view with wet core

The piece was wet wood, freshly cut when I put it in storage for observation and to let it dry out. Over the next few weeks I peeled off the rough bark, giddy with impatience to expose the fantasy shapes, twists, hollows and bulges that are this piece of wood. Ok, so olive wood is fairly rare in these southern parts of Germany. Finding a piece like that not an everyday occurrence and no, I didn’t find it digitally although a few of my carving colleagues in the course found and bought olive wood pieces online. I am fully aware of the coolness of this score. The trunk is approx. 45cm in diameter and 65cm tall and I guess that the tree must have been close to 60 years old when it succumbed to the worms that were working their way through the centre core.

5

peeled with mirror

6

rough start

It is one thing to begin a piece. It is another to finish it. And yet another to turn a project into firewood. THAT is not an option and so I bridled my excitement and only then laid tool to the wood when the moment felt right. But once I began the project grabbed my by the neck with such intensity and urgency that the first 60 hours few by.

7

roughed out

7a

smoother

chiseled and riffled

8

roughing out

9

roughing out

10

opening at bottom

11

impression

12

exposed and finishing

13

hollow

So far I’ve whacked away at the piece with carving tools letting the mouthwatering olive smelling chips fly. I’ve spent days in an intensely focused meditative state with long thin riflers in nearly cramped gloved hands creating shapes, rasping lines and following as best I can the dictating flow of the myriad emerging flowing grains and contrasting dark/light patterns that make this wood so unique. And to satisfy my most irritating perfectionist urges, countless pieces of paper parted from sand in varying grades, shimmied to and fro, back and forth, across and with the grain to render by hand a nearly baby bottom smooth finish.

14

riffling

 

16

shapes

 

17

lines & grain

18

interior view

15

smoothed surface

At this stage of the project I can see at least 60 hours into the future and perhaps beyond but there is not real rush and I have no deadline other than to create something interesting, something that takes the eye on a visual journey … into the olive wood and I have the finished piece also firmly in mind, yet open to changes as fluid as its grain. The openings into the core of the piece drawing the eye inward, the colorful grain triggering day dreams. All that said, a photo of the finished piece will be added as an update.  Das Holz ist der Weg

2014©iphoneographythis,2014©myronunrau

Small Village, Big Parade

2014©iphoneographythis, 2014©myronunrau

Snow is colder

It’s carnival season German style. Colorful garb, musical cacophonies, flying candy and fist fulls of confetti tossed not only prettily into the air above the heads of parade viewers, nay … sometimes this vile paper pretty is tossed directly, deliberately  into the faces of the public, sometimes even savagely massaged into the hair and down the necks of the now hapless parade visitors. Some of these are even dragged from the relative obscurity of the side of the route into the middle of the action where they are ganged upon by members of the carnival cliques and suffer unspeakable carnival mayhem.

This being Rose Montag (Rose Monday), revelers take to the carnivalized streets celebrating something I understand little about. Here in Baden Wuertemberg is it also known as Fastnacht.

This little village I live in posted signage last week announcing road/street closures for today and when I asksed I was told about the carnival parade. The day is also taken off by many of the celebrants. I too had it off.

Warm up music blasted through and between the buildings of this downtown village style neighborhood and that made any sane calm thought to naught. So I decided to join the curious and hangers on. And now I have a badge as proof of my admission payment of 2Euros. I paid to be entertainingly molested by noise, color and bands of wild celebrants, most comfortably anonymous behind carved wooden masks or cheaper yet convincing synthetic copies of these cultural works of art and ancient master pieces of the season.

Below is a selection of todays ribald and raucous celebrations played out by seasoned characters, long versed and immersed in the local customs of the various cliques, groups of celebrants.

 

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.27.29  Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.28.18 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.28.37 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.29.04 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.29.30 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.29.58 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.30.21 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.30.41 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.31.33 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.32.04 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.32.32 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.32.55 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.33.35 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.34.11 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.34.30 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.34.53 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.35.19 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.35.43 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.36.07 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.36.58 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.37.17 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.37.57 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.38.21 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.38.51

all photos copyright 2014©myron unrau, 2014©iphoneographythis

Three Days in Budapest & riding the retro metro

It was wet, grey, tiring and dingy in places. Not at all the way I’d imagined a January. I imagined it colder, much colder. However that is the kind of weather that awaited my wife and I on a recent short city holiday into Hungary. Budapest to be exact.

A cheapo Easy Jet flight three nights including breakfast at a reasonable price in a well situated and well appointed Hotel in the midst of that large city was just the thing.

Budapest as seen from a higher vantage point on the western side of the river Danube

Budapest as seen from a higher vantage point on the western side of the river Danube

Not that the weather where we live on the German side of the Swiss/French border was any better as we were herded through the airport gate like so much documented cattle. It could have been worse, much worse. The city could have been held in the frosty clutches of mean old man Winter. But it was not. And so a little bit of wet weather didn’t seem all that depressing when we stepped out into the Hungarian rain for the first time.

We arrived mid afternoon and  it being a Sunday and us not having planned anything touristically urgent as far as activities go, we located our hotel via our helpful little and later much used city/map book and my suddenly in demand sense of direction (albeit a bit confused with having to read/decipher a new language neither one of us was face with before). Then we set off and rather embarrassingly our very first jaunt  took us to a pretty big mall. Say no more, say no more.

January darkness fell more rapidly than we had anticipated and as the rain had let up a bit, we took advantage to look at the city lights from Margit Hid bridge over the dark Danube at the southern tip of Margaret Island. Nice.

View of Hungarian Parliament building on the bank of the Danube from bridge

View of Hungarian Parliament building on the bank of the Danube from bridge

going down to the retro metro on the transit escalator; we also went up these escalators towards daylight

Going down to the retro metro on the transit escalator; we also went up these escalators towards daylight

Very glad to have a guidebook/map along for this trip. Knowing and figuring out exactly where we were or exactly where we wanted to be/go wasn’t all that much fun all the time but it certainly made getting around easier. The locals we approached were very helpful when asked for assistance in either German or English. Thanks kindly you friendly Budapestians.

tourists looking at map books and waiting for transit salvation

Tourists looking at map books and waiting for transit salvation

There were tips on good eats in the guide booklet at several, actually two indoor market halls where various delectables from all over could be sampled and I had set my mind and stomach for an afternoon stroll of deliciousness in silly proportions/portions. I was really looking forward to the culinary experience and the usual list of local eats such as goulash and … well, goulash was the only culinary dish I knew of. But we were open to new things too. After wandering down a canyon of tourist shops lining the Vaci Utca;

One of the lesser shopping display along the Vaci Utca

One of the lesser shopping displays along the Vaci Utca

…pretty much all of them selling pretty much the same wares. Hmmm. At the end of that Utca we suddenly came upon the Nagycsarnok or Central Market Hall. Halleluja I thought; well maybe not thought so much as I felt something akin to that expression as we pushed our way through the heavy dirty darkish green woolen curtain flaps that separated the winterish outside from the warmish interior. Let the fun begin.

Inside the Central Market Hall where disappointment bit me in the ass.

Inside the Central Market Hall where disappointment bit me in the ass.

One stall sold fresh and colorful vegetables, the next sold honey, various sized bags of Paprika both sweet and hot along with different alcoholic souvenir bottles along with nuts, dried fruits and trinket sized wooden scoop spoons. Along the lines of ‘Souvenir’ accoutrement. Noted. The next stall sold meat: poultry, pork, beef, various cuts and meats in differing states of deconstruction depending on what the butcher was doing. These stalls also stocked huge supplies of the ‘Pick’ salami that I also was keen on purchasing to take back and sample in the comforts of home. These salamis came in different sizes and the different stalls appeared to apply differing prices for these same wares, depending on where they were located in the hall. The wife made note of that fact. Nevertheless we bought some. In a nutshell, a large market hall with many stalls but all stalls basically selling the same things. And upstairs arranged around the outer walls, more stalls with traditional embroidery and more tourist trickery. Bummer. The whole thing could have been condensed into four shops based on goods sold. Nothing for my belly other than a couple of excellent spicy dried snack sausages. We did not go into the basement for further my disappointment.

National Spice of Hungary is Paprika ... ok, so these samples had collected a lot of dust over the course of many years of being window displays.

National spice of Hungary is Paprika … ok, so these samples had collected a lot of dust over the course of many years of being window displays.

iphoneography©2014,myronunrau©2014

Nope … didn’t eat here. Why not? Well, the name implied certain culinary danger. No matter that the hustler out on the street touted the menu to be “just like your mother home food”.

We did however stumble across the ‘Strudelhaus‘ on October 6 Utca. Wow, who knew Strudel could be so good. This restaurant also offers other traditional Hungarian fare but we spoiled our appetites with mouthwatering late afternoon goodness. Absolutely recommend this establishment for a delightful and very tasty visit.

Below is a sample of the sights and personal impressions:

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

Parliament building besieged by constructionism

Solitary tower view point overlooking Budapest

One of the towers of the Fishermans Bastion overlooking Budapest

Bronze Aged Police

Bronze Aged Police on Zrinyi Utca/Oktober 6 Utca. Budapest

Wooden restaurant facade

Wooden restaurant facade on Vaci Utca

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Post christmas blues in the city

from there to here (camera viewpoint)

Rokford restaurant on the corner of Honved St and Szalay St. Didn’t eat there either.

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Seriously guarding the Hungarian Presidentat Sandor Palota

Looking across the Danube river  (beside the 'Chain Bridge')

Looking across the Danube river beside the Széchenyi lánchíd or Chain Bridge

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Detail of historical graphic context

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

The unintended monumental asphyxiation of statues in an unnamed square somewhere in downtown Budapest

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Two tram cars as seen from Vemezo Way

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Yup Unicum … tastes exactly like ZWACK

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Still in rail service to the nation at Nayugati Railway Terminal

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Lonely morning street with retro VW bug

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

Cool colors and wheels

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

Dekagrams of decadent goodness

We can imagine how Budapest might look like in spring time.

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

tired tourist feet

Screen shot 2014-01-24 at 19.21.05

Good’bye’ Budapest. Thank you kindly for the hospitality.

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

wrong-way adventures on the M3 Blue Line to get to the airport

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Captain, please start this engine for takeoff