Glow – Walk Toward the Light – #writephoto

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The door of the hut where Ladd lived with his family faced east. Dawn broke soon after Archer, Knowledge, and Mercy left for work and Ladd still sat in the straight chair in front of the fire. He noticed Cat, with the red eyes, had come in and taken a seat in front of the fire. Behind Cat, there came a small man. He stood at the doorway looking at Ladd with the glow of the sunlight diffused behind him.

“Good day, Ladd,” the small man said.

“Hullo. Do I know you?”

“No, but you will. I was sent by the Grand Wizard.”

Ladd jumped up, out of his chair, immediately.

“You will be my apprentice in my grocery shop in London. There you will learn the trade of shopkeeping. You will also learn the craft of wizardry for the benefit of the citizens of this village to which you will return.”

Ladd studied the small man as he spoke. He didn’t look like a wizard. He had short gray hair and a gray beard, with sparkling blue eyes. The glow of the rising sun surrounded him. He was slightly built, not as tall as Ladd.

The small man continued, “I know you don’t want to be a wizard. What you don’t know yet is that your background made it your destiny. Now gather your things and we will go see your family so you can say goodbye for now. Have you had breakfast?

“Yes,” Ladd said.

“I am going to eat while you get ready. Do you have mead?”

Ladd pointed out the mead to the small man and started to gather his things. Ladd didn’t take very much. Shortly, the two of them left, along with Cat, to find his family so he could say his goodbye’s.

Ladd and the small man ran into Knowledge right outside the door of the hut as she returned from her talk with Healer. The small man told Knowledge who he was and that he would be leaving with Ladd to begin Ladd’s apprenticeship. Knowledge asked him to wait while she found the rest of the family so they could say goodbye. As she said that, Archer walked up.

“What’s going on here?” Archer asked.

Knowledge replied, “This man was sent by the Grand Wizard to pick up Ladd. Ladd will be his apprentice in London. He will learn to be a shopkeeper as well as receive training in wizardry.”

“When will Ladd be allowed to return to us?” Archer asked.

The small man replied, “Within one year, sir. He will then take up the position as the wizard in the village. He may also want to keep a small shop here.”

Archer said, “This will be a loss for our family. I go out on the hunt often. I rely on Ladd to protect the family while I am gone. He is helpful in providing food for the women.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I serve at the pleasure of the Grand Wizard.”

“Then I don’t suppose we have any recourse,” Archer said.

The family came together with hugs and murmurs of good wishes and love. In a few moments, the small man and Ladd walked from the village as Ladd turned around and waved to his loved ones. Cat jumped up on his shoulder to get a ride.

Glass – #writephoto

 

As Ladd and the small man made their way toward London, they stopped to sleep at dusk at whatever shelter they could find. The first night on the road found them by a lake with water so still it looked like glass. There was a small shelter there that someone, probably another traveler, had built out of limbs and mud. It was enough to keep them out of the weather and away from the wild beasts. The small man decided to stop there for the night.

After they laid down their things, the small man instructed Ladd to gather some leaves to make them softer beds. The leaves from the past fall were still on the ground. Ladd went about the business of gathering leaves while the small man built a fire. Dark had not yet fallen.

The small man went to Ladd and asked him to follow him. Ladd stopped leaf-gathering and followed the man. He led him to the water’s edge and sat down. He motioned for the boy to sit down beside him.

“Have you ever seen a looking glass?” the small man asked the boy.

“Oh yes,” Ladd replied. “The mother of my friend from home has one.”

”Looking glasses are important in your job as a wizard,” said the small man. “They allow you to see through them to the future and in front of them to the past.’

Ladd just stared at him.

“I’ll give you a magic lesson,” the small man said, smiling. “First, we have to cast a circle. The circle will keep the evil powers out and keep us safe inside.”

With that, the small man picked up a stick and drew an oval in the sand around them. He then sat very still with his head bowed. He appeared to disappear deep inside himself. He opened his eyes, raised both arms and pointed out at the lake. Ladd saw that his eyes had turned the color of the lake.

In his hands, he had pieces of lake glass he had picked up, clear in one hand, colored in the other. He shook them and transferred the clear glass to the hand with the colored glass. He said these words,

“Glass and water, Glass and water. We mean you no bother. Show us Ladd’s village. Only a future image.”

From the surface of the lake, a shimmery image of Ladd’s village arose.

As it came into focus, Ladd cried out, “There’s my sister. That’s Mercy!”

“Who are the people with her, Ladd?” the small man asked gently.

“The man is Smith, her betrothed and the blacksmith in our village. There are children I don’t know. It looks like Mercy is carrying a child.”

The small man said, “Remember Ladd, that is an image of the future.”

Suddenly, the image vanished. The small man seemed to draw back into himself and Ladd was quiet. After some time passed, the small man opened his eyes, which were now back to normal. He spoke. He spoke,

“That was quite tiring. It’s time to sleep.”

As he and Ladd arose, he removed the circle with his foot and they walked toward the shelter. The small man placed the lake glass in one of the jars he carried. He and Ladd then put a blanket on their pallets of straw, laid down, and immediately went to sleep.

 

 

 

Cruising the Mediterranean: The Journey to Pisa, Italy

I didn’t sleep very long that first night on the cruise ship. I woke up two hours after I went to sleep. I recognized the signs of jet lag. I also recognized the signs of rough seas. We were sailing from Rome to the Pisa/Florence area and that big ship was rolling from side to side. I don’t get motion sick, but I was curious so I cautiously walked out on our balcony. It’s a good thing I was cautious. High wind and waves.

I came back inside and attempted to get online. We had free Wifi. HA! Yes, we did, but that did not include web access so I couldn’t blog while I was gone! I could send the briefest of messages or emails only. I could read, but I was still too anxious to focus. The ship had many lounges for many things – a coffee bar, a library, a reading room, and much more. Up on the 15th deck, it had the Horizons Lounge. It was open all night for those of us who couldn’t sleep and those of you who know me well know that I can never sleep, so I headed up to the Horizons Lounge. It was there I found my people, my tribe!

There was a panoramic view of the Mediterranean, lit by the ships lights. There were people, all of us with a book in our hands, who were sleepless. Everyone started introducing themselves and we suddenly had a whole host of new friends from many nationalities. A woman from New York City and I instantly liked each other and hung out together all week. She had never known anyone from the southern US and loved to listen to my accent. I’ve known many people from New York, but few women since I worked with mostly men. I liked her so much because she was brash and knew how to get what she wanted. I also met a woman from South Africa who was deep in culture shock and listened more than she talked.

Now I am NOT usually a drinker. But at 2 a.m., in the middle of the Mediterranean, with a bunch of interesting strangers who were drinking, what does a girl do? When I was working and had to travel extensively, my drink of choice was one of two things – tequila shots or champagne cocktails. I decided I would be wise to avoid tequila shots! Since this was a pretty high-end lounge, champagne cocktails WERE on the menu, so that’s what I started drinking. Much less dangerous.

We all sat there until 5 a.m., talking. The Americans, like me, seemed to be the target for questions and most of the questions were – you guessed it – about American politics. The Europeans were exceptionally nice, but very curious about American politics, not a subject easy to defend at this point in the life of U.S. politics, but I did my best to explain. I’m sure my bias did show. There was quite a contrast and compare discussion with their respective political systems.

At 5 a.m., we all finally went back to our staterooms to get ready to go into Pisa as the ship was docking. The next blog post has pictures and a discussion of Pisa. The picture above shows a bit of how the Sea looked on this rough night.

Cruising the Mediterranean: Rome and the Cruise Ship

The trip from the U.S. to Rome was relatively uneventful, but very long. Eight hours from Philadelphia to Rome. I discovered that I don’t fly well anymore. Planes are now so cramped and such close quarters. But, on to more pleasant things. We made our way from the Rome airport to the port where we would board our cruise ship. Rome has a Mediterranean climate and all along the way were small, country homes and every one had a garden. I think that struck me because kitchen gardening is becoming less and less common in the US. The scenery was beautiful. Palm trees and small homes with gardens all along the way. The photo above was taken the first time I looked out the window at the Mediterranean. You can see the tug boat pulling away from the cruise ship. The water was aqua, though it looks blue here.

We boarded our cruise ship, the Oceania Marina. Quite large and with all the amenities. It was filled with university alumni from many major universities, but passengers also included private passengers and other types of tour groups including a large group from Korea and another from the Philippines. Our stateroom was large with a big balcony. It was evening and we had a delicious dinner in one of the many restaurants onboard. Food was strictly European which was not so good for me. I eat a low-carb diet and the very generous buffets were filled with high-carb foods. I had resolved to eat what I wanted on this trip. I found that my taste in food has apparently changed permanently. I have been eating low carb for many years. None of the high carb foods appealed to me at all.

Bedtime came early for us that night. The ship left Rome around 7 p.m. to sail up the coast of Italy. One of the things we grew to dislike about the cruise was the fact we always sailed at night. We wished we had sailed during the day for at least a couple of days so we could see he coasts of the countries we visited. But it was not to be. By nightfall, it was chilly outside and raining, weather that would persist for most of the week.

Cruising the Mediterranean: Getting Prepared

We’re really excited! We’re leaving on an 8 day cruise on the Mediterranean tomorrow. We board the ship at an Italian port. We fly into Rome from Cincinnati, boarding our international flight in Philadelphia. We get to Rome in the early afternoon, their time. I’m not sure if the time difference is six hours or seven hours. They are on daylight savings time as we are, but we change back to standard time tonight. I’m not sure when they change back. But, we’ll be either six or seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard time, where we live. The port where our ship is docked is about one and one half hours by bus from the Rome airport. We have an extra one and one-half hours in case of delays. Not a lot!

Today, we are packing and trying to remember everything you have to remember for an international trip as well as for a trip where you will be on board a ship and on land. Also, the weather is variable at this time of year. It is usually in the 60s in the day and 40s at night, but it could be hot or cold, so packing is a challenge. Whew!

Our cruise line is the Oceania, which is heavily used for group tours. Our’s is a group tour through my university. Other universities are on the ship as well, but no one else. I’ll give you a report on this cruise line. The travel agent between the university and the cruise line is GoNext and I’ll also report in on their services.

My biggest concern is my dog and cat. My dog, Clarabella, does just fine when boarded at the kennel. My husband’s cat – not so much. He is terribly bonded to my husband and suffers when he isn’t with him. This will be the longest we’ve ever left him.

That’s it for now. The next time I will write will be our first night on the cruise ship as there will be no time until then. That will be Monday evening, whatever time zone Italy is in!  I’ll try to be more specific after I get oriented. Our first stop after Rome is beautiful Florence, Italy.

Oh! Ladies! There is a Canyon Ranch Spa on board the ship and I plan to take full advantage of it! 🙂

Back soon!

A Trip. Across the Western Mediterranean

Hello to my subscribers!

Beginning on Sunday, November 3, I’m going to take you on an Adventure. I’m taking you with me on a trip across the Western Mediterranean on a mid-size cruise ship. We’ll stop at a number of fascinating ports of call during the eight-day voyage.

We’re leaving for Rome, Italy on Sunday and the ship leaves on Monday, Italian time. The ship is a luxury vehicle and it should be quite a journey! Be prepared for lots of pictures and commentary.  The blog posts will start with Trip:

Talk to you soon! Start packing!