The Holler Spa~


I love The Holler Spa! First of all, they have an all you can eat buffet which I take full advantage of!

You get to swim in the spa pools, for as long as you want!

Few things feel better than being well fed and well bathed.

I especially like soaking my tail, it needs the extra moisture.

I could also use a manicure, but they don’t offer that here, which is a significant demerit.

But, there is nothing quite like a sunny day at The Holler Spa!

Unfortunately, they let the riff-raff in, like this very pushy thrasher.

The even more really-rude-roadrunner, thinks he belongs on the owner’s table!

The snobby goldfinch is so annoying. She is over prized by the owners, only because she scarcely ever bothers to show up here!
It’s a good spa, but the management could use some improvement.
Cheers to you from The Holler spa~

Just Venice~


I will not lie. She is way too crowded, and these are some of the reasons why.

These are ceiling shots of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco which opened in 1478 and was named after the patron saint of plague victims. The scuola (school) was a brotherhood of citizens devoted to charitable welfare.

Tintoretto was eventually a member of the brotherhood, and his paintings cover much of the interiors.

How this happened is interesting. There was a competition among artists (including Veronese), to determine who would paint the interiors. They were asked to submit sketches. While the other artists busily worked on their sketches, Tintoretto, installed one of his completed paintings in the scuola. (1) The result is history!
Titian also has artwork here.

This is the adjacent Chiesa San Rocco, a Venetian version of a modest little chapel.

They take churches very seriously in Venice. There are 139 of them! They provide a weary tourist wonderful respite from “the madding crowd.”

Cheers to you from Venice and her stunning quiet corners~
(1) http://www.scuolagrandesanrocco.org/home-en/tintoretto/sala-dell-albergo/

Above the Clouds~


Looking down upon a hurrying world,

above the clouds,

offers detachment,

perspective,

and peace.

World’s away,

and above it all.

Cheers to you from peaceful heights and prayers to those in Irma’s path~

Preying~


They land on the windows each year,

reflecting clouds.

They come to eat the hummingbirds.

I detach them gently from the glass, using envelopes.

But they always return to where they were,

and swivel their heads around to look at me.

Cheers to you from the amazing alien creatures we all are~

Look Who Came to Play Today~


Swimming free in the sea,

the way they are meant to be.


There were many hundreds of Pacific white-sided dolphins in this pod, fishing cooperatively, and playing.


It is such a thrill to be amidst a massive pod of these intelligent creatures.

The ocean color differentiation you see below, is a result of the dolphins getting curious, and swimming closer to the boat to check us out.

The dolphins were joined by sea lions,


who were fishing too,

and just as curious about the humans in the boat!

Cheers to you from California’s splendidly free marine mammals~

Castle Rapture~


Near Haut-Koenigsbourg in France is a castle called Kintzheim that houses only raptors.

These are bateleur eagles that I photographed in the wild in Africa and never expected to see again in France!

Of course you recognize these beauties, who I also never expected to see in France.

The castle runs a program called “La Volerie des Aigles,” which is dedicated to breeding, conserving and educating the public about vulnerable raptors. Birds are flown daily, and are an unusual sight soaring over the old towns and orderly fields of France. The castle has bred many endangered raptor species including Andean condors, and stellar, imperial and white-tailed eagles, and many other species, including vultures.

The white-headed vulture is endemic to Africa. Populations have been declining steeply in recent years due to habitat degradation and poisoning. Our planet needs vultures, they are designed to keep our world clean.

The cinereous vulture has an impressive wing-span of 10 feet. It is under serious threat. There are only an estimated 4,500-5000 of these amazing birds left in the wild.


The golden eagle is distributed across Eurasia, North America, and parts of North Africa, but has been eliminated from much of it’s prior habitats.

Harry Potter’s snowy owls are here too!
The public can visit the castle for a nominal fee which not only supports the raptor conservation program, but also provides an up close experience with these incredible birds which will, unless your heart is made of stone, cause you to become enraptured by them.
Admission also enables you to explore the quite impressive old castle ruins.


Cheers to you from Castle Kintzheim’s gorgeous and threatened raptors~

Azulejos I~


Portugal’s iconic blue and white hand painted tiles are called azulejos.

Arabs brought the art of tile making to Portugal, and to Spain, along with the artistic tradition of “horror vacui,” the disdain for empty or plain spaces. The result of this Islamic Arabic artistic influence can be seen in the stunningly creative tile work covering the empty spaces of both Spain and Portugal.

The first classic blue and white tiles were made in Portugal in the 1500’s.

By the 17th century, yellow was added to create the stunning blue, white and yellow combination.


Purple and green were added next, along with geometric designs. (See Azulejos II for more of these multi-colored tiles.)


In the 18th century a formal tile making school opened in Lisbon.

The proliferation of historic tile work throughout Portugal creates a unique and distinctively Portuguese visual experience.

Cheers to you from Portugal’s beautiful azulejos~

http://www.the-art-minute.com/just-a-second-horror-vacui/