Posted in travel

Trip to the Honey Moon

Visiting Islay, Scotland and Reykjavik, Iceland

For the six years that Nicholas and I have been together, we’ve discussed places we’d like to travel A LOT. We’d sit on the couch and spin up fantasies of visiting the UK (mummified bog bodies, whiskey tours, stone circles, biking), Iceland (hiking, hotsprings, northern-lights) and many other places too. Up to that point, I’d mostly taken practical trips and the idea of a vacation dedicated to enjoyment, a trip to celebrate our new life together was a revelation.

Planning this fun trip, however, ended up being surprisingly difficult because, at the end of a work day, we’d get bogged down by deciding where to go and why, and feel fatigued before actual arrangements were made. After googling one point of interest like ‘Northern Lights’, so many options would come up that we inevitably would become overwhelmed and need to set the planning aside. We wished for a travel agent to take care of the arrangements, but knew that our particular interests meant that we’d need to specifically pick the most inspiring things for us to do to keep us motivated through the length of the trip. Also, do travel agents still exist? Anyway, we procrastinated on final decisions until about ten days before we were to arrive in Glasgow, making slapdash hotel reservations that seemed to work with the Scottish ferry schedule. We would go in a loop around the Lower Hebrides of Scotland, and then go on to Iceland because of Iceland Air’s ‘Stop-Over’ deal.

Being a tourist is not a role I prefer. I’m aware that visiting interesting and delicate places puts a strain on the very place that draws people. Getting to see a unique place without contributing to its degradation in some way is virtually impossible, but we can try to soften the blow. In this case, we used public transportation when possible, we walked a great deal, and, something I came to understand later, we mostly visited locations that already had the infrastructure to accommodate tourists because they’d been holiday destinations for decades. (This was not the case for Iceland unfortunately.)

We did get a new camera for this trip; there are many more pictures than you’d probably like to look at. (Sorry!) Also, I twisted Nicholas’s arm to allow me to take many selfies with the two of us.

Scotland

Here is a map of our initial plan. Our changes to the itinerary were because of bad weather. We opted for the public bus on Islay because of high winds. Also, because of swells, our ferry didn’t dock at the island Colonsay and continued on to Oban.

Trip to Scotland
Trip to Scotland

We flew out of Raleigh, NC, and arrived in Glasgow excited, but jet-lagged and grimy, but manage to head out for a walk and some dinner. We discovered a marathon in George Square.

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The next morning, we went to the bus station to make our way west.

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Traveling via bus to Kennecraig Ferry Terminal was beautiful. After we arrived at the coast, we walked around and looked at some of the views and plant-life. This is where I ate some berries growing by the side of the road (next to sheep-farm run-off) that probably gave me a bout of food-poisoning that night.

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Lesson Learned: Don't eat road berries.
Lesson Learned: Don’t eat road berries.

The ferry ride from Kennegraig to Port Ellen, Islay, was lovely. We were astonished to see the rising mountainous hills on the island Jura at a far distance. Seeing these peaks made me wish that all maps had elevation lines, even though the surprise was magical.

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We arrived in Port Ellen in the dark and awoke the next day to a shining ocean view next to quaint tufted and rounded hill tops. I felt I could see how golf would develop naturally in an environment like this. (Did it? I have no idea.)

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Later that day we went on to the little town of Port Charlotte (Islay) on the other side of the island, arriving by public bus. We stayed at a BNB near the water, where the owner was a British transplant and florist who loved busy patterns and ruched curtains. The next day we visited the Bruichladdich distillery and enjoyed the historical whiskey-making machinery still in use. The tour included steamy rooms with massive batches of grains fermenting.

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Our taxi ride to Port Askaig area was interesting because our taxi driver spoke Gaelic natively, and told us about the 5 or 6 people he knew who still spoke the language with him. We’d heard snippets of Gaelic on our hotel television and I’d been surprised at how much it sounded like a Scandinavian language. After plugging in our camera to charge, we hiked a couple of miles to the Caol Ila distillery, awed by the Jura’s peaks rising in front of us. The air and views reminded us of the northern California coast.

View of Jura from Port Askaig, Islay
View of Jura from Port Askaig, Islay
View of Jura from Port Askaig, Islay
View of Jura from Port Askaig, Islay

At 9AM in the morning we were scheduled to ferry over to Colonsay Island. However it was not meant to be. Many of the ferries that service this region are older and sometimes cannot navigate through difficult weather. That day the ferry came close to Colonsay but passed it and kept right on going to Oban. There is a restaurant and bar on the ferry, luckily, but by the end of that long ride we were quite ready to be off the boat. Nicholas was developing a head cold so we searched for hotels where we could have a quiet couple of days of R&R as we neared Oban.

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One place we’d wanted to see but hadn’t scheduled into our trip was a fascinating place called ‘Kilmartin Glen’. Here burial cairns more than 4000 years old, stone circles over 5500 years old, and a 16th century castle ruin were all together in small area (about a 5 mile radius). We arrived Kilmartin village for 2 nights and were treated royally by the local hotel/restaurant (there was only one), and encountered only helpful and unassuming locals, who directed us to the correct pathways. We loved this place.

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Panorama of Temple Woods Stone Circle (Kilmartin)
Panorama of Temple Woods Stone Circle (Kilmartin)

The museum in Kilmartin was excellent, and the most quiet and peaceful museum experience I yet had. The cafe had a view of the valley with the cairns, and we marveled at the view while eating sandwiches and drinking tea.

Kilmartin Museum Timeline
Kilmartin Museum Timeline

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Our last day in Kilmartin, we decided to hike out to nearby Carnassarie Castle, where 16th century John Carswell first translated a law book into written Gaelic. The castle was destroyed by later generations who antagonized the ruling powers, and it was left to crumble into scenic ruins. We clambered around the sections of the castle we could get to, and at the top of the tower we were once again amazed at how pretty views of green hills with fluffy cotton-ball-like sheep could be.

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We then traveled back to Oban to take in the sites for a few days and visit the Oban distillery and Dunollie Castle. To answer your question, we don’t know why there were long knitted socks on the street utility poles.

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Iceland

After one last night in Glasgow, we were off to Reykjavik. Looking up the exchange rate and maps of the city, we realized that getting around would be more expensive and challenging than what we’d experienced in Scotland up to now. The easiest way to see some hot springs and other sights would be to go on group tours, which was not something we were thrilled about. As we exited the packed Reykjavik International Airport, we began to enjoy snippets of Scandinavian design here and there. Our first hotel was a large and monolithic chain hotel. We spent two nights there, then switched to a small but pricy BnB in the center of downtown for one night, and then for the last two nights moved a hotel in a suburb of Reykjavik where we would have access to nature trails and the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights during a walk.

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Near our last hotel in the suburb Álafoss, we walked around near the local knitting factory and found a few interesting things of note. The light was very flat so it was difficult to capture much of the natural beauty, but Nicholas got some great shots of the knitting machine. Here is a link to more of his fabulous photos.

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Mysterious terminal in a grassy field near Álafoss knitting factory.
Mysterious terminal in a grassy field near Álafoss knitting factory.

The ride on the way to the cave tour was almost as lovely as the cave.

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Here’s pictures of the lava tube cave, a beautiful but very cold and very wet environment. There were many kinds of rock formations (I didn’t take notes) and lots of beautiful colors. Deep in the cave, our tour guide had us turn off our lamps and contemplate the darkness for a while. (Ever heard of a deprivation chamber?) That was an interesting experience too.

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Here’s pictures of two different hot springs we visited.

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A few pics from the drive back.

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We didn’t end up seeing the Northern lights (bad weather) and I would warn any travelers that the National Reykjavik Airport was miserably crowded on our flight back west. People were crammed in that little airport in like sardines, and we repeatedly heard from locals that estimates for tourism the following year were twice as full. One disappointing aspect of Iceland was that its transportation infrastructure is designed mainly for use by individual cars, much like many cities in the US. We did use the bus system, but sparingly, because the exchange rate wasn’t in our favor. I’m glad we came to Iceland, but I don’t see us going back anytime soon.

However, this was a fantastic trip overall! The sights were beautiful and we loved talking with all the people we met. I’ll add that we were so spoiled by the hospitality of hotel breakfasts in Scotland, that we still haven’t adjusted to cooking our own breakfast back home. (Where is our tea and fresh-cooked eggs & mushrooms every morning?!) We miss you, Scotland. Hope you enjoyed our pictures of our adventure!

sky
Flying away from Iceland. The End.
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Posted in dreams

Boxes of Freedom Cereal Dream

What I was working on before the dream…


Nearing the end of developing a WordPress child-theme, I’m tempted by wildly divergent design choices that will extend the length of the project substantially. At this point I know I’m trying to reign in my creativity.


Squid Woman
Squid Woman who loves to eat Freedom Cereal

Boxes of Freedom Cereal Dream


I dreamed about a strange superhero squid woman who could only go out at night to fly around. She did this sometimes. It wasn’t safe for her to be out, but she went occasionally anyway.

[Perspective shift] I was an artist, a painter, and I had figured out how to store people and keep them safe inside paintings.

I had a photograph that could do the same thing and I was trying to transfer the contents of the photo (some humans) to my painting to keep my friend and her two children even safer.

In the picture she and her two kids were bending low to the ground to get inside the shot and they were in front of stone monuments, typical tourists.

I was painting away but got interrupted when someone came and told the squid person that in the case of an emergency the squid-person could come to a new hiding place. She emphasized that this was only in case of an emergency that this new safe house should be used. It was a last resort.


Freedom Cereal
Freedom Cereal


The squid person went back to hiding but was tormented by the idea of freedom. She gorged herself on boxes and boxes of Freedom Cereal until all she could think about was flying out into the night. She rationalized her thinking with the knowledge of her new safety option. She left her hidy-hole, but could feel the dangerous people who searched for her closing in.

Meanwhile, the painter had a breakthrough! She had figured a way to transfer the beings in the photograph into her paintings by painting a certain way. She could do this by painting the people into the background of the painting… and then partially painting over them to subtly obscure them.

Elated, I woke up.











Past and Future Conditions, The Exhibit


In Search of Today’s Zeitgeist…

conditions.2
Past and Future Conditions

was an exhibition of artists interested in highlighting paradigms in which
truth and knowledge
is discovered.

Making Yourself by Liat Berdugo & Emily Martinez
Making Yourself by Liat Berdugo & Emily Martinez

 

Some artists contemplate contemporary technologies, such as Liat Berdugo & Emily Martinez’s artwork, which parodies online purveyors of ‘how­to’ information in today’s online environment of non­stop advertisements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missed Connections by Richard Munaba
Missed Connections by Richard Munaba

 

Richard Munaba videos show lonely and humorous re-­enactments of Missed Connections based on letters from the website ‘craigslist.org’.

 

CSIA
Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency (CSIA) by Jennifer Gradecki & Derek Curry

 

The exhibit also includes works by Jennifer Gradecki & Derek Curry, who have created an interactive artwork that replicates techniques that intelligence agencies use to collect data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potable Glass of Water by Annamaria Gundlach
Potable Glass of Water by Annamaria Gundlach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annamaria Gundlach and Neranza Noel Blount, on the other hand, have crafted mixed media objects on the topic of environmental awareness in an era of disposable plastics and water contamination.

 

 

Save Room For the Ocean by Neranza Noel Blount
Save Room For the Ocean by Neranza Noel Blount

 

Bert the Turtle Says... by Joyce Gralak
Bert the Turtle Says… by Joyce Gralak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joyce Gralak’s mixed media piece uses 1950s caricatures to highlight changes in public awareness of nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

Truth by Robert Thompson
Truth by Robert Thompson

 

Robert Thompson comments on the public’s awareness of health and safety in industrialized food production with ‘truthful’ warning labels.

 

 

 

The Critical Time of the World Civilization by Sarawut Chutiwongpeti
The Critical Time of the World Civilization by Sarawut Chutiwongpeti

 

Swiss artist Sarawut Chutiwongpeti explores social values in mega policies in his mashup of flight launches, bridging generations with explosive imagery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Dreams by Shelley Mangold
Paleo Dreams by Shelley Mangold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One intricate piece by Shelley Mangold even wrestles with the mysterious conditions of pre­historic cave people as they painted and carved long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Participation in the show was predicated on art submissions and written proposals from the following text:

In order to better understand your work as it relates to the theme of the show, please write a paragraph about which ‘episteme’ (listed below or newly invented by you) that you consider your work to be a part of, and how your episteme fit’s into the trajectory of your artistic practice? (The concept of epistemes is described below.)

“In The Order of Things, Foucault is concerned with epistemes: an episteme is a set of ordered but unconscious ideas that are foundational in determining what is regarded as accepted knowledge in particular periods and times. This was also called the “historical a priori” by Foucault (Flynn 2005: 31; Merquior 1991: 36). But the episteme is not a general body of known knowledge or natural science. An episteme is a kind of unspoken and unconscious stratum underlying and being the precondition for accepted knowledge in each historical period, so that Foucault thought that to unearth the episteme of a period one engages in a metaphorical “archaeology” (Merquior 1991: 36).

Each episteme from one period to the next is supposed to be discontinuous and incommensurable in the sense of being radically different (Merquior 1991: 37), and there is only one underlying episteme for each historical period:
“In any given culture and at any given moment, there is always only one episteme that defines the conditions of possibility of all knowledge, whether expressed in a theory or silently invested in a practice.” (Foucault 1970: 178).

Some examples of historical epistemes as identified by Foucault are as follows:

(1) the pre-Classical period (the later Middle ages and Renaissance up to the mid-17th century), in which people thought in terms of similitudes, resemblances and antipathies (Merquior 1991: 45);

(2) the “Classical” period (the mid-17th to 18th centuries), in which the prevailing episteme stressed representation, mathesis (a science of order and measurement), and taxinomia (science of classification) (Merquior 1991: 46);

(3) the “Modern” period (the 19th century to about the 1950s), in which deep, dynamic historical explanations became important (Merquior 1991: 51);

(4) the contemporary age (from the 1950s onwards) (Merquior 1991: 37, 39).”

http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2015/03/foucaults-order-of-things-summary-and.html

Artists of Past and Future Conditions, each in their own way have created artwork that highlights ‘now’ by focusing on the conditions of the past, present, or future. The exhibit also includes works by of Marika and Leopard of Minsk, Belarus and Berlin, and by local artists Joyce Gralak, Peggy Mann, Norman Magden, Emily Schleiner and Christina Fowler­graves.

 

Download Catalogue: