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Josceline's · Bower

An Electronic Hermitage

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I've tried to compose an update several times over the last few months, but I am finding it difficult to express myself accurately. I am also having some technical difficulties with LJ. Some days it won't load at all. Today, I was able to leave a comment on Dread_Ex's journal but not on TCSumner's journal (I was wondering if you could add some illumination -- like maybe beasties sitting on top of the vines -- to balance the calligraphy at the top of the page).

Maybe this weekend I'll figure out what I've been wanting to say here.

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During our whirlwind tour of Santiago de Compostela, the guide took us through the shopping district and pointed out the window of a jewelry store that specialized in items made of local jet.  Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of rosaries and scallop shells rendered in jet and silver.  However, they also had a number of amulets against the evil eye and witches.  The guide said that was part of Galicia's Celtic heritage, but I think at least some of them were Roman motifs.  Anyway, there were hearts and skulls, but what really caught my eye were the fists.  They looked very much like larger-scale versions of the jet charms that eithni found in a local thrift store during Siegfried's reign.

Sadly, the guide whisked us away before I could get a picture. I did some research after returning home, and I learned that the British Museum has a similar piece from Santiago de Compostela, probably made in the 16th century.  The museum website gives a brief bibliography:

For information on hand-amulets: W.L. Hildburgh, 'Images of the human hand as Amulets in Spain', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XVIII, 1955 and H. Syer Cuming, 'On the Hand-Amulet', British Archaeological Association Journal, 1866.

More specifically concerned with jet amulets from Santiago: G. J. de Osma y Scull, 'Catálogo de azabaches compostelanos precedido de apuntes sobre los amuletos contra el aojo : las imágenes del apóstol-romero y la confradía de los azabacheros de Santiago', Madrid 1916.

I don't have easy access to either of those publications.  However, it seems that fist-shaped amulets made of jet are particularly associated with Santiago de Compostela.  Those little fist cyphers may have a far more interesting provenance than anyone in Northshield ever suspected.  Perhaps a modern pilgrim purchased them as souvenirs, planning to give them as gifts to family and friends, but decided against it after learning that they are not, in fact, Catholic symbols.
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I saw this article about a Colorado town's Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, and I suspected you might enjoy it.
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Hope you get to do something fun to celebrate.
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We returned home last night from a two-week vacation to Las Vegas and Hawaii.  We squeezed a lot of experiences in but also scheduled sufficient lazy days that we didn't overdo it.  I'm still sorting through my pictures.

On the way out, we spent two nights in Las Vegas. On Saturday night (our first in town), we watched part of the Big Ten Championship game from a bar in the Mirage casino, then we saw comedian Ron White in concert. It was a very funny show. We were too exhausted to take advantage of the after party at the BB King Blues Club in the hotel (our bodies were still on Central time, so it felt like 2:00 a.m. by the time we got out of there).

On Sunday, we placed a bet on the Packers (who were favored by 6.5 points) but watched the game in our room instead of the crowded and smoky sports book.  Alas, the winning margin was only 3 points, making us 0 for 2 in sports bets (each time, our team won the game but failed to make the spread). We've decided to skip the sports betting in the future. 

On Monday, we flew to Kona and checked into our oceanview condo.  This was the view from our private lanai (porch) at sunset.  The beach was rocky rather than sandy, but that didn't stop some hardy souls from surfing.

On Tuesday, we visited the Captain Cook monument, the Uchida living history coffee farm, and the City of Refuge national historic site.

We tried to visit the Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge, a retro-tiki establishment with classic drinks and pupus (appetizers) that made Imbibe magazine's list of the 10 Best Tiki Bars. When we found the place (in the back of a nondescript strip mall), a sign on the door said they were closed for a staff holiday party (which was not happening there, as the place was dark and empty).  So we went to Don the Beachcombers at the Royal Kona Resort instead. However, when we tried to visit the restaurant, a sign said they were closed for a private event (I suspect it was the Okolemaluna staff holiday party). Don's oceanfront lounge was still open, however, so we had some drinks and pupus there. They were OK but not great. My expectations were low, so I wasn't disappointed.

On Wednesday, we drove north into the mountains through the cattle country of Waimea and took a horseback tour of the beautiful Waipio Valley.

On Thursday, we visited downtown Kaiulua-Kona, took a submarine tour of the bay, toured Hulihe Palace (originally the home of a governor, and later the summer home of Hawaiian royalty). Then we finally made it to the Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge. It was fantastic. Their decorating budget was obviously much lower than Frankie's Tiki Room in Las Vegas, but their drinks were fantastic, and the retro-classic pupus were also very good.  We tried the mixed rumaki (a combination of bacon-wrapped pineapple chunks and bacon-wrapped teriyaki-soaked water chestnuts) and the kalua pork sliders.

On Friday, we took a helicopter tour of the island.  We had fabulous views of the smoking Kilauea crater, and we also got a peek at some flowing lava through a "skylight" where the roof of the lava tube broke away.  We had a different view of the lovely Waipi'o Valley, then explored another valley where several waterfalls had worn a "keyhole" in the cliffs.  I just barely held onto my lunch during the ride, and I don't think I will go on any more helicopter rides. 

On Saturday, we drove to the Hilton Waikoloa Resort to see the Steve Miller Band in concert.  We arrived early and had a late lunch at a hotel bar & grill that overlooks their dolphin lagoon.  We ate overpriced burgers while bored dolphins breached nearby. I am not a fan of holding dolphins captive and training them to entertain us. It's much like forcing children to go into show business. Getting into a pool with captive dolphins is like going to a VIP lounge with Danny Bonaduce, Todd Bridges and Lindsey Lohan. Sure, it's an experience you will never forget, but it could very well end badly.

On Sunday, we packed and watched the Packer game on the TV in our condo.  Afterward, we took a walk on the rocky beach and saw the interesting life in the tidal pools (several kinds of mollusks and at least two varieties of crab).

On Monday we flew to Oahu for a couple days. We stayed at Disney's new Aulani resort on the leeward shore, a bit north of Honolulu.  We had some Disney reward dollars to use up, and we were curious to see the place.  It is beautiful, and we had some good food, quality beach time and waterpark fun.  However, by the time we left, I was getting a definite Stepford vibe about the place, and I was ready to go.

On Wednesday, we flew back to Las Vegas.  We stayed at the Rio and planned on seeing Penn & Teller.  However, when we arrived, we learned the show was dark for the first three weeks of December.  That was not the case when we made travel plans a couple months ago, although they had cancelled a bunch of November dates.  Rumor has it Penn Jillette is appearing in the new season of Celebrity Apprentice.  He must not have been "fired" yet. 

We didn't do too much for the last few days.  We saw a Rat Pack tribute show.  We went to the cinema at the Orleans hotel and saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie on Friday.  We walked around, shopped a little, ate at some bargain buffets and spent a little money in the casinos.  My husband was much enamored of a bank of linked Star-Trek themed machines with a bonus that was basically a video game with some television footage spliced in.

Today I had one last day off work.  I've been doing laundry but still have several loads to go.
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I hope you get to do something fun on your special day (unless you're saving the celebration for the weekend).
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As far as I'm concerned, the 1970s movies with Michael York are still the gold standard.

However, this upcoming remake has the potential to be the biggest unintentional genre parody since Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

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Since my b-i-l made the trip to La Crosse this weekend, the hubby and I had a free Saturday.  He sleeps in pretty late these days (he is working 2:30-11pm), so we didn't leave home until mid-afternoon, but the day was perfect for an excursion. We'd been meaning to visit Aztalan for a few years now, so we finally went.

For those who are not aware, Aztalan State Park is the site of a Mississippian village that was occupied from roughly 900-1300 AD.  The stockade has been rebuilt using the original post holes. Excavations are still underway in the residential area along the river (we saw several archaeologists working there).  The large platform mound has been restored, and it is impressive.

My husband is highly entertained by crackpot theories (and enjoys spinning them himself), so he was delighted to see a replica of a Mississippian clay pot in the visitor center that was decorated with a double-spiral pattern. Similar patterns were used in some of the ancient cycladic pottery we saw in the museum on Santorini, so he joked about Aztalan being built by refugees from Atlantis. As it turns out, there are actually crackpots who seriously believe in an ancient Old World connection to the area and, unsurprisingly, they have a website dedicated to their theory.
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It's been a busy Spring.  I spent a few days in Appleton for my company's annual conference. My hubby just started a new work schedule (2:30 - 11:00 p.m.) for the next six weeks while he trains for some new job duties (they are integrating his department with the repair department, so he needs to be cross-trained).  At least he still has weekends off, so we can see each other (awake) then.

We've made some trips to La Crosse to see my mother-in-law and bring her mail and other things she needs from the house. A couple of shire members (including kirsta_s ) have spent some time visiting her as well, which is much appreciated.  We're trying to coordinate things with my brother-in-law to stagger weekends.  I'm hoping he can go up during WW; otherwise, I may leave Boscobel solo for a while on Saturday.  That's the only day my hubby can attend, so I don't want to pull him away from the chance to see people.

I'll be going in for jury duty the last week of June. This is the first time I've been summoned (after decades of voting and driving in Dane County). I'm planning on going into work after hours that week to go through my mail and deposit checks, so it's going to be a very long week.  It will be nice to have a three-day weekend after that.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at WW.
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The month of May was very busy and over before I knew it.  We went up to see my  mother-in-law on Mother's Day, and my brother-in-law was there with his family as well.  They mentioned that they were spending the following weekend at Chula Vista in the Dells, and why don't we join them. My husband more or less committed us before we left.  It was a fun weekend, though.  The weather was chilly, but they have a nice indoor water park. I got plenty of exercise wrangling our six-year-old niece while the guys went on the big slides (her mom and older sister were out shopping).  After that, we had a late lunch at Ravina Bay and then went to Wizard Quest, which was not my cup of tea, but now I know what it's like.

I finally got to go to the zoo with mightyjesse  and Moodles.  We saw the lion cub while he's still somewhat small. Since it was afternoon, the entire lion family was pretty sedentary in their habitat. The red pandas are unbelievably cute.

I travelled to Mississippi with cass_lee  and dread_ex  over Memorial Day weekend for mateobard 's wedding at the Green Dragon. The ceremony was lovely, and the company was good. We got our first taste of 90 degree weather, which was a bit of a shock to the system after the cool Spring we had.

My husband travelled to LaCrosse that weekend to see his mother. She is in a nursing home for several weeks. She fell and broke her ankle and required surgery. To make it even worse, it was her good ankle, not the one she broke at Autumn Rose several years ago. He'll be going back up for another visit tomorrow, along with his brother's family. 

Today we're going to a friend's birthday party, and he might hit the Inferno later.  I'm in the midst of one of the busiest and most stressful times at work -- we have a big conference in Appleton that starts on Wednesday.
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