Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Roma origin of a "Black Madonna" ? - and Sara the Black, Sara-la-Kali

The Black Madonnas are in many European and other countries, see overall post here at Europe Road Ways, Black Madonnas. We thought we found one here, in Gdansk Cathedral, Poland.

I assumed it to be another wonderful Black Madonna, but there is no baby. Checking, and do follow the path at Bogomilia, A Site for the Unsung, Sara the Black, this does appear to be Sara the Black, so far.

Now to go back to other Black Madonnas to see which may also be the Gypsy Sara the Black. Start with Wikipedia on this - at :// . Find the stories. An Egyptian servant to Mary in Egypt? Other stories? Here is information about an annual pilgrimage of Roma in France, homage to a Sara the Black, see //

If you look at the crescent here, then at the symbol for Gitans at the website, that also includes a crescent, perhaps you know where to look to see if there is a connection. The crescent also can relate to early two-horned moon symbols, or Mithra's horns, from the bull overcome by Mithra - Mithraism being the dominant religion before Christianity (Mithra ascended after his death in about 200AD?) see // See also Bogomilia, A Site for the Unsung, Sara the Black, for more on Mithraism. Do not go to these places if you do not like finding roots.

Apparently the first historical reference dates to 1521, hand-written legends are located at Arles, and she has long been the patron of the Gypsies. There are many stories of her origins and works, including that she accompanied the Two Maries to the tomb and found it empty, and she also announced that event. Or, she was a black servant, and so many versions - go read.

The destination church for the annual May pilgrimage is Saintes-Maries de la Mer. This is a start. A new direction for us in understanding these wonderful paintings and sculptures.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gypsies, Roma, Romani, Romni, Romney

Where to start with this complex topic. Roma appear in most of Eastern and Western Europe, migrated as did any other group to places from Australia to the United States, show physical characteristics tying them to India, perhaps, and linguistic commonalities also stemming from there.

Here, street musicians in Warsaw (not Dan, on the right, however). See them in horsecarts in Romania, scavenging in dumps there, going with great style into a casino, or watching from a dark doorway as hordes of little children clamber over your car, little fingers reaching, until finally you go, "Whtjshhhht!" With your own hands scissoring fast across each other horizontally, "Whjthshhhhstht!" No more. And the adult calls them back, Dan gets out, stays by the car to see no little one is under a tire, and we creep back out, wave a thank you, Dan pops back in and off.

See our site at Gypsies, Roma, Romani and "Zoli", by Collum McCann, a novel based roughly on the life of the Gypsy poet Branislawa Wajs. Read his book, "Zoli," for a view of the Slovakian -Polish experience 1920's-1980's or so.

Then read, "Bury Me Standing, The Gypsies and Their Journey," by Isabel Fonseca, Alfred A. Knopf NY 1995. Ms. Fonseca lived with various Gypsies and in Gypsy communities. Then let it all steep, because there is so much to try to grasp. They have survived.

And look at the surnames. We all may have some in us. Romney, Rom'ni, the names referring to smiths, blacksmiths, coopers, coopersmiths, on and on. Different groups specializing in different trades, music.

And the slaughter, the prejudice. Focus on that. We have gotten nowhere. Sites for these issues are in the Gypsies Roma site.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Plague -Plague Columns - Marian Columns - Mary the Protector

In Eastern and Central Europe, supplications against recurrence of Plague, and gratitude for deliverance, take the form of Marian Columns in many towns, or Plague Columns. In the Czech Republic, there was a particularly virulent epidemic in about 1680, that led to many towns constructing in about 1715 these Plague or Marian, Columns. Here, at Kutna Hora, in the Czech Republic, see Mary at the top with her crown of stars, and the piles of shapes beneath, leading up like so many agonizing buboes, to where she finally rests. See Czech Republic Road Ways. Read about this town in the Czech Republic that lists its Marian Column. // Or, see its extreme form - almost ugly in its representation of lump-like pustules, at Olomuc, CZ. Do your own Images search for Olomouc Marian Column.

How did Mary arise to this position, as somehow a safety source from death? No direct answer, but some religious groups give roundabout ones: It looks like when it comes down to absolute devastation, a goddess figure works better. Theologians among us?

How humans react to unfathomable disaster. There are many fountains and other kinds of memorials to the era of the Black Death, and how people tried to expiate whatever forces were bringing it on again and again. There were at least three forms of it.

This fountain showing death, disease and suffering from the Plague I believe was in Oberammergau, Germany, or perhaps Garmisch.

A familiar memorial and way to keep the Plague from coming again is the pledge to act a play out in Oberammergau, Germany, every ten years. The next will be in 2010. See Other sources:

The Plague affected politics, culture, religion, society. See also "The Black Death, Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe" by Robert S. Gottfried, The Free Press, 1983.

One site focuses on the specific outbreak 1347-1350, and focuses on the rat infestation and rats as carriers of the fleas that passed on the Plague, see

Climate change - attention, out there - can also be dispositive in how a disease spreads. Other sources say it was not just the rodent infection. That combined with climate change 1050-1347, to extreme cold and wet; then add the movements west of the Huns and others from the East, carrying Plague from where Plague seems to have originated in conditions there, and the carrying of it from port to port. Then, a period of respite, perhaps 8-10 years, maybe more, and it came again. The sick rats died, the survivors began to reproduce again, the infection was still being fostered by the climate and other conditions, and it began again. And again.

Over a hundred years. 1350-1500. Enormous and repetitive depopulation. Overall perhaps a third of the European population died. In each bout, maybe 10% here, 30% there, 50% somewhere else, and then it all began again in differing proportions. And smallpox, measles.

But many modern medicine and religious and literature ideas began with coping with Plague, as did great social and economic change. Bubonic Plague. The Plague. The Black Death.

For more general info, see

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Black Madonnas: Medieval (and earlier); early pagan roots?

Finding Black Madonnas

As we find more, we add:  Black Madonna at Maria Plain, Salzburg, Austria, at Austria Road Ways, Maria Plain, Black Madonna? As I recall, there was also a copy at Maria Plain of the Jasna Gora Black Madonna.  Someone go back. Also visit Mariazell, Austria. Note that this site does not even mention she is black, at

For our older list of Black Madonnas:

1.  Gdansk, Poland

Black Madonna, Church of St. Mary, Gdansk, Poland

Black Madonna at the Church of Saint Mary, Gdansk, Poland. There as another Black Madonna at that Church, that looks like a copy of the Black Madonna at Jasna Gora Monastery, also in Poland.

No further information yet.

Note that this may not be a Black
Madonna" because there is no child. The inscription looks like a Russian reference, by the script - but we are not expert on that.  See Poland Road Ways.

2. Mont St. Michel, France
Black Madonna, Mont St. Michel, France

Black Madonnas are found throughout Europe, and seem to date from the early middle ages, mostly. Some may be earlier, and the legends and stories explaining them are varied.

For a background for these, and where they are, black virgin statues at; and Eann Begg's at
There is a theory to fit each person's predisposition as to why. No one explanation fits them all. See, for a history of black madonnas.

Here is the Black Madonna at Mont St. Michel, France. See if you agree that our western religious orientation is to downplay the role of the black, and lands connected to our Bible that were in Africa, see Martin Luther's Stove, Translation Serving a Cultural Agenda.

See also ://

3.  Altotting, Germany

Black Madonna, Altotting, Germany
This is the Black Madonna at Altotting, Germany.
We also saw another Black Madonna at Guadalupe, Spain. This was a tiny triangular shaped Madonna with a tinier head, very high up, and with a multitude of costumes on display that change with the seasons and feast days.

These places are usually also pilgrimage destinations.  Another site names another black madonna at Altotting, see the small A-shape, doll-like form that appears in many places, at ://  The explanation there is that her face is darkened by the centuries - but somehow the face of the child remains light. 

4.  Jasna Gora, Czechestochowa, Poland; and Wroclaw Poland

Black Madonna, Wroclaw, Poland (copy of Jasna Gora?)
This is the Black Madonna at Wroclaw, Poland, apparently a copy of the original at Czestochowa, Jasna Gora Monastery, Poland. Do an "images" search for Black Madonna, Jasna Gora, and see the similarities - no photos were permitted of it.

See discussion re the broadly different representation of the Black Madonna in the Jasna Gora gift shop (different dress, and elaborate crowns, and varying skin tones available for purchase, including pale Caucasian white), at Poland Road Ways.

No one explanation fits all the Madonnas. Some charred, others originally black, others buried. This source presents the thesis that white madonnas were later in time than the black madonnas. Some find African origins. See
Here is a picture of the small and high on the wall Black Madonna at Guadalupe, Spain. Too high for a good picture using my camera: See

5. Copy of Jasna Gora at Gdansk, Poland

Black Madonna, St. Mary's Church, Gdansk, Poland (copy of Jasna Gora)

Here is a copy of the Jasna Gora Black Madonna at Gdansk, Poland, also showing the same kind of clothing as at Wroclaw.

Even the "images" search shows some versions with the crowns and different dress, and I can't remember the original any more. I thought I was buying a picture of it, but apparently not. Someone go check it out?

This is a different concept from the "inculturated" black madonnas that reflect a cultural depiction, so that there would also be madonnas with the facial features and skin tones of the people whose conversion is sought; or ones with features like those of the faithful in the area. See What color was Mary? Or Jesus? What does it say about us, that we have to ask?

See this site for connections to pagan black goddesses, see

I looked up official images of Mary at this site,, but found none of the Black Madonnas.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How We Bury Our Dead - Cemeteries, Charnel Houses, and Roots

1. Czech Republic and Poland. Some people were buried in mass graves, then disinterred and the remains put in Charnel houses for reasons including the overwhelm of epidemic, or war.
For Charnel Houses relating to Plague or the Thirty Years' War (early 1600's) see post for the walled church near Kutna Hora CZ, window view shown here, at Czech Republic Road Ways.

See also the post for Kudowa Zdroj at Poland Road Ways. More graphic. No filming was allowed inside; the view there is also
from the outside windows.

We did not visit the monastery at Sedlec, near Kutna Hora CZ where the bones were made into chandeliers and other decorative objects - sconces, etc. Not just lack of time, but also we liked our quiet times at these places and didn't want death with bling. See it here:; or do a simple Images search for Sedlec. Forty thousand people in parts for your illumination.

2. Romania. Some graves are hauntingly colorful. Here is the Merry Cemetery in Romania, in Sapinta in the northwestern section near Ukraine.

A woodcarver in the 1930's, I believe, began memorializing people's lives and how they died on their wooden markers. The tradition continues. One here shows, as affirmed by an English-speaking Romanian nearby, a man being shot by a firing squad, or patrol of Germans. See more at Romania Road Ways. Other carvings show butchers, housewives, bed-ridden people, smiling people, children with a car coming at them, stories all.

3. Ireland. Some graves are close to roots. This one is in Ireland, in the middle of someone's commercial opportunity, a monastery ruin in the middle of a golf course.

4. France. An admirer still leaves flowers for WWII singer Edith Piaf at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

More France: Here, at the Ossuary at Verdun, from the campaign 1916-1917, are the various remains of some 150,000 unknown soldiers, German and French, Moroccan, Foreign Legion. They are beneath a central spiral in this large memorial, names lining the bays. See World War. This is an original old postcard of ours, a very small collection from Verdun, no date (unused) but very yellowed, with French captioning.

5. Croatia. And here, a photograph shows us just who this individual 16-year old Terezija was, in Croatia, and she is ever reading.

6. Bosnia. In some places, graves are cast off.

Here, a graveyard and a road runs through it. Graveyard, Bogomils, old Christian sect 9th-12th Centuries, killed off by the self-proclaimed true church, Bosnia. See history at Start wiath the home page at the dot com, then move to the specifics if you can.

7. Ireland. Some graves witness specific tragic eras. Famine cemetery, Skibbereen, Ireland.

8. Luxembourg. Some graves seem like an anticlimax, given the publicity given to the person elsewhere.

The great WWII General Patton is buried off in Luxembourg, but is better known for his campaigns elsewhere. He is at the US Military Cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg. He lies facing his 7-8,000 troops, though. We got here just in time to help with the flag. so far away. Not many Americans do come here, I understand. Excellent. Attention should be paid.

8. The Netherlands. Some graves are remembered with vast speeches and memorial days. Here, festive remembrance. VE Day parade, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The "A Bridge Too Far" bridge is just north, at Arnhem. Nijmegen's bridge is where Americans fought, I understand, as part of Operation Market Garden.

9. Germany. Some graves are mass graves, preserving where huge numbers of people perished.

See Buchenwald Concentration Camp, near Weimar, Germany. See the stones for remembrance, and other cultural-practical roots, at this ground headstone at Buchnwald, Germany. Nearby is the little bear pit, a dear child size zoo thing, where the Nazi's children and families, and any assigned "help," would sit and play and watch the bears while the inmates were just beyond, behind the barbed wire fence over there.

10. France. Here, battlefield at Vimy Ridge, France. Trenches, craters and hills showing where uprooted trees fell, or blasts. WWI. Area cannot be easily mowed, so sheep safely graze there. There are often large ossuaries at WWI grave areas. Fragments so small.

11. Arras, France. Some graves are pocket-size, especially from WWI, where you can find a family member. Here is our grave of relative Lt. Col. Maurice McConaghey, Royal Scots Fusiliers 1917, WWI, Arras, France. See post in WWI Finding Graves.

12. Belgium. Some graves have huge monuments.
Remembering with monuments. Canadian Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, WWI. Uncle Len was there. He was in the Canadian forces, gassed, but survived.

13. Belgium. And the American Memorial, Bastogne, Belgium (WWII). Such admiration and gratitude for the
American soldiers' efforts and heroism here. This - the idea that you are doing good after all - is a legacy that our leaders today are taking from our soldiers, I think.

14. Croatia. Some graves are in large grand mausoleums. See the formal cemeteries at Miragoj Cemetery, Zagreb, Croatia: Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and carefully alphabetized and birth-death dates and names of German soldiers, WWII.

15. Croatia. Some graves are virtually forgotten. Here is Jasenovac Concentration Camp site, 1940's, Croatia: The dead here are not only Nazi-targeted groups, but Orthodox Christians, numbers vary 60,000-600,000. Belongings and photos now at Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC. Everything closed up, broken here. Where do families go to find their people?

16. Montenegro. Some graves become rallying points. Here, a firing squad memorial in Montenegro (Cetinje).

17. To find graves, try Geneology sites: This one uses over 400 sources, including world cemetery regords; and; good for using American and Canadian census materials, death indexes and some marriage and birth records; and This one includes military records, court, land and some probate records for US, and some UK census. And This has some 5 million recent and old obituaries, daily newspapers, past 6 years only, I think. Check. These overviews are from the Wall Street Journal of June 22, 2006.

18. United States. Some reflect the personality of the person beneath. See an all-American attitude veteran's grave, at Saratoga, NY:


Cemeteries are for the living, says Jay Walljasper in his book, "The Great Neighborhood Book," New Society Publishers 2007. See him at Return to them as parks, attractions, for picnics.

There is also a cemetery preservationist at the Connecticut Gravestone Network, Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, see who helps with the finding.


1. Site for finding overviews of whatever country your people may have come from: Overview, Country and Culture.

2. Site for finding graves of famous, infamous and not famous people:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Architecture - Gehry and Gehry-type wavy buildings and other Whimsy

Frank O. Gehry, American architect, and his legacy worldwide. Here is the art museum at Bilbao, Spain, see Spain Road Ways.

This fine dragonfly is affixed to a building in Prague, recalling Franz Kafka's character who woke up to find he had morphed to a giant insect.
See Czech Republic Road Ways.
There are other figures and bugs affixed to buildings in Munich and other German cities.

The Dancing House - Fred and Ginger - also in Prague.

See it at Architects Vlado Milunk and American Frank O. Gehry. Better yet, just search Images for Dancing House.

Crazy house at Sopot, Poland.

See Or do that famous Images search for Sopot house.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Holocaust, Petr Ginz, and other war diaries, children and adult

War diaries. Holocaust diaries.

1. The Netherlands:

Anne Frank, in hiding and focusing (for lack of other sensory stimulation) on her interior life, see; and Etty Hillesum, a young woman in her 20's and the perspective of an unmarried adult. See; See Netherlands Road Ways;

2. Bosnia:

Zlata Filipovic was 11 when her world began to fall apart. She wrote a journal from Sarajevo. More on Zlata at She had moved from Bosnia, and was in Paris by 1995. This is a chat session, with schoolchildren. You can also look her up in Wikipedia, search for her name there. Her family survived.

3. Lebanon.

See article in the New York Times, by Tom Zeller, Jr., on July 24, 2006, re a girl who videotaped her escape down the stairs to a shelter during bombing. Her name is Galya Daube. Then there is Finkployd at

4. The Czech Republic, then Czechoslovakia:

"The Diary of Petr Ginz 1841-1942," edited by his sister, Chava Pressburger, the diaries logging events in this 12-14 year-old's life in Prague, then he was sent to Theresienstadt, then killed at Auschwitz. See The Places of Petr Ginz; and Czech Republic Road Ways.

5. Poland

"Rutka's Notebook," 1943, Rutka Laskier from Bedzin, Poland. She kept a diary for several months, then was sent to Auschwitz where she died.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crusades - Here, Templars, Teutonic Knights - Mercy turned mercenary

At the massive, brick castle "Malbork" in Poland, see four of the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights, the group that built it. Overview at A bare-bones narrative summary of their history is at

Overview of crusades and Templars - see the History of Central Europe at

During the crusades, Teutonic Knights hospitals and otherwise helped and protected the pilgrims and the wounded. When the crusaders lost the Holy Land back to the Saracens, there was no more of that same protective and healing work to be done there. See the pictures and narrative at See also James Michener's large novel, "Poland." Review at See the portions on the slaughter of Christians by "Christians."

So they retreated to Venice, built up their economic and political fortunes, and then from there, morphed into mercenaries. They killed Baltic Christians as "infidels" just as they killed other nonbelievers, on grounds that they had to have been converted to Christianity by the Pope's forces and not some earlier saint who did not count. See

In other ways, they were a jolly group, says this site, noting their camaraderie and sense of humor. See Similarities to Chaucer and Boccaccio are shown there.

See Poland Road Ways for posts and cites to Malbork and the Teutonic Knights. The Roman Catholic view is at

The Knights are still active. I found a website with a large portrait of Pope Benedict at the top left of the page, and the history and recruiting efforts discussed, modern day opportunities for service. Still looking to find it again.

They founded Brasov, Romania, where the castle named "Bran" is tourist-featured as a place where Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) is said to be associated. See See Bran Castle at " Romania Road Ways - Vlad Tepes.

There is a digitalized copy of the F.C, Woodhouse 1879 book, "The Military Religious Orders of the Middle Ages," online. Do a search for modern Teutonic Knights

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New URL - and Summary of Themes

We follow people in music, the military, history, invasions, and storybooks. Meet Mozart in Vienna. From this chance encounter, Dan wants to see Salzburg next trip. Perhaps.

This site is a repotting of our earlier Common Thread Road Ways. All the earlier posts are now here, because I could not remember "common thread."

Summary of our themes to date, to which we add Wolfgang Amadeus:

We have no method for our itineraries except what happens to be where we find ourselves. We follow signs for any real or fictional person that looked interesting; and look up festivals or events. We compare issues and concepts, such as the Vlad Tepes (Impaler) sites in Romania, with Bram Stoker's "Dracula." See site at Romania Road Ways Vlad Tepes (Dracula). We take 2-3 guidebooks and then it's off in some direction.

We go to celebrations. And are grateful for our own health and safety each day.

This is at the Dracula Club in Bucharest. At Halloween. Time your trip to match something fun. This site lists festivals by country:; and

We find some folks by chance - see James Joyce at a cafe in Pula, Croatia, near the old Roman gate, ad our hub site Europe Road Ways.

We found Ernest Hemingway is at Pamplona, Spain, of course. Spain Road Ways.
Joan of Arc is all over northern France. France Road Ways. The Brothers Grimm are in Germany.
The Romans were all over. Germany Road Ways.
Find Napoleon at Austerlitz, Czech Road Ways; and Paris, France Road Ways; and Slovenia, at Bratislava, Slovakia Road Ways.

We dogged Robin Hood, King Arthur, Dickens, Chaucer, Thomas a Becket, and Peter Pan in England. And the Prince of Wales and Edward II in Wales. Wales Road Ways.

There are Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (Freedom!), Nessie and Rob Roy MacGregor in Scotland. Scotland Road Ways.
King Lot at Orkney. Orkney Road Ways.
Samuel Johnson at Dunvegan at Skye. Scotland Road Ways. Samuel Johnson's biography is at Look at the resources, bio 20 section. Also, information on the Huns is at, the section on Huns; and how they helped the spread of the Black Death (among many other factors) and other matters about the Plague are at, the section on plague.

Find Robert the Bruce at, the Wallace and then Bruce6 section; Leonardo da Vinci at;
Charles Dickens at, at authors, dickens,dickensbio1;
Julius Caesar and a historical chronology at

7. There will be plenty of road signs for big, and little, sights on the way. The emphasis is "on the way." See as you go.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Universal Travel Ambassadors: Down Syndrome

Our son, Dan, has Down Syndrome. Here he is, propping up his Dad at Special Olympics soccer.

Travel. Anywhere. Wherever we go, we see others like him - usually with the nod and smile of recognition, the stop on the walkway, the passing-by and then the return to hover at the table. We couldn't count the exchanges, the nods and thumbs-ups, that this everywhere situation so often produces. Dan literally opens doors. We usually find welcome, and enthusiasm - and somebody who wants to tell us where someone is in the village who is like Dan, and what that person means to them, and does there, where that child was planted. Rural Romania in a farm area local pub, Spain - a storefront offering services inside for Down citizens, in France where people came and sat down with us to talk of their niece, their child, sibling, uncle.

Our only significant negative came in Germany, where people with visible handicaps are hardly ever. I became accustomed to odd looks. We are an unusal couple. At an ordinary American hotel chain, however (never our first choice if local hotels have room) a German diner was offended that we were ushered to a place in the dining roomand spoke to the maitre d' - in French, in case we spoke German, I suppose --"Il n'est pas normale." Thank you, hotel, for placating her somehow and showing her back to her seat. But now I understand why they had walked us 'way to the back to begin with. Traditions get inbred.

Lady, lady. And Germany. Unclench yourselves and open your arms and maybe life can get in.

Dan's response: Questioning, wondering what he did wrong. Dan, who is a bagger at a supermarket, sometimes encounters someone having a bad hair day. He looked over as this little drama was going on (he does not know French except for the grey-poupon exchange). Our usual routine is to that bad hair days are all over the world, probably. And went back to our meal. He handles life pretty well.

Back home. America: The Princeton Inn. They also hustled us from the front door, quickly to the back, where there were high backs to booths, with the effect that we couldn't see out much, and noone could see well in. That was offensive, thank you, but not worth clenching about. Just don't go there.

Or better yet, everyone go there. And with a hey-down-a-down-dilly-down. This ivy league ivy strangled.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Electronic Rest

Romania, Croatia, Montenegro, the rest of Europe. The commonality of the earphone, the cellphone, the internet cafe. And the universal frustration. Witness abroad on your own the humanity-wide yearning for -- ba-da-boom -- electronic rest. *
* Electronic rest. Noun. 1. Transitory state where all gadgets with wires, batteries, network connections, internet access, modes, ink, ring tones, passwords, back-ups, virus/spam guards
or touch-pads can be located and actually work. Not to be confused with regularity, predictability, personal merit, meeting times, due dates, or distance from commercially available substitutes down the road. See Nirvana. Terminates within five minutes of awareness of original state; 2. Period of nap, the body's response to the mental illusion of permanence in electronic functioning; 3. Doze of gratitude while cubicled or home-officed, unaware of pending danger. From Old English dysig: foolish.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Open Spaces - Trust and Get Out of the Car

We find lovely remote spots everywhere. Leave the car and take a hike. Ours was fine and right where we left it, when we got back. We had seen people around when we headed off, but either we'd be ok or not, so no sense fussing. Just go.

This is on the way over the Carpathian Mountains, at the Transfagarasan Pass in Romania. There was supposed to be a fine waterfall just beyond, but this was fall and not spring, and we never did find it. Great little hike anyway.

Toilet variations. There will also be a toilet, or not, when you need one. You soon learn to navigate the "Turkish toilets," as they are called both here and in Greece, fully functioning and sensible, but you put your feet on the markers, and squat or aim over the hole between. No problem. Do carry some TP. Facing the door is best. They also flush, as you would expect. But, at the port-a-type, don't get your hopes up. Like here.

Pogonotrophy: Beard-Growing

You are in a different county, and suddenly start noticing that there are more of some things here, or fewer of some things.

Beards, for example. And the reasons for growing them - religious, other cultural, young people, old people. Look up the words for it. Pogonotomy is beard-cutting. Pogonotrophy is beard-cultivation. Tap the "surprise me" tab at this site:

Some religious traditions call for the beard, as here - a priest in the Orthodox Christian faith, in Romania. He was hitch-hiking and we invited him to join us in our car for the drive from Bistrita to Castel Dracula. See Romania Road Ways. He is married, grew up in the area, and spoke enough English that we could converse, and not just grunt about and nod vigorously, while not really sure what is being said.

Wonderful. For more of interest to the quirky, look up "weird words" and "turns of phrase" in the Worldwide Word site's left side index. If you once thought yourself reasonably educated, give yourself a vocabulary test at these sites and weep. For more of what most of us do not know, see the Colorado lexicon at Again, if the long address form does not work, just go to the home page and try from there - go to, for example.

Quick. The definition of inspissations. See the CMU lexicon at