Painted Villages

To the west of Krakow is an area known for the folk-art on and in the houses. The painting started out of necessity, and then became an art-form, complete with classes in how to make the stencils and which paints to use for what surfaces… It also shows just how wonderful life was under the Communist governments.

Painted on an old barn

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Two Mighty Days: August 17-18, 1969

I grew up around people who took hurricanes very seriously. They’d all lived on the Gulf Coast when Hurricane Camille struck in 1969. Not since 1935 had such a powerful storm swept onto the low-lying areas around the Gulf of Mexico, and in part because of that, some people didn’t take the storm that seriously. After all, it was just another hurricane, so there’s be wind, and rain, and water in the usual places, but nothing really out of Gulf-Coast ordinary.

I’ve ridden out Category one and two hurricanes, on what was then the far northern side of Houston. “The rains fell and the wind blew,” but that was all the excitement at my grandparents’ house. But those were weak, and further weakened by coming ashore and moving 50 or so miles inland. Not a Category Five storm riding a plume of unusually warm water. Warm water is hurricane fuel, and the Gulf was warm in the summer of 1969. Continue reading

The Summer Complaint

No, not that the season is too short (kids and some teachers, and kids’ parents), or that it is too hot for comfort. No, I’m thinking of the traditional name for the suite of gastrointestinal woes that used to take a very high toll on infants and small children for much of human history.

The warmer weather played a role, but so did availability of food, and the problem of spoilage. Continue reading

Silesian Jerusalem

Wambierzyce, Poland, lies in the low mountains south of Wroclaw, in Silesia. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Poland, although not one of the better known outside of Poland.  It’s now on the border (almost) of Poland and the Czech Republic. Officially the church is the Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin, but it popularly called the Silesian Jerusalem.

Did I mention the rather imposing facade? Photo by Jacek Halicki, Used under Fair Use Creative Commons 3.0.

The Madonna of Wambierzyce dates to the 1100s at least, and according to tradition, was first placed in a tree for veneration, then moved to a small church. Which grew. And grew. And is now an absolutely enormous basilica, except that the shrine is not a basilica in the architectural sense. Instead it is small and round, and is based on the Temple in Jerusalem, thus the informal name. If you are confused, no worries. So was I, in part because the great facade of the church was covered in scaffolding when we got there. So no photos of the front, which dominates the little town.

The miraculous Madonna is in there.

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A Small Souvenir

Loosely translated: “In 1683 the first stone from a mortar in Leopoldstadt went through this building. It weighs 79 pounds” (closer to 90 of our pounds).

Vienna has a long memory.

Shikhari 6 is at 59K words, so that’s what I’m working on instead of blogging at the moment.

Telc, Czech Republic

It started with a fire…

As so often happened in history, there was a fire. Telc was built in the 1200s as a royal road-fort, with an extensive moat, to protect a major road intersection. By 1359 it had town right, and the municipal records began, or at least the preserved copies go back to that date. In 1386 a fire began in a brewery’s malting house and burned down two churches and 27 houses. Welcome to life in a medieval city. A new suburb, still called New Town, developed in 1543. But the most famous bit of the city, what everyone comes to see, dates to the 1530s.

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