Tuesday, 30 June 2015

General's line of the week

G: If you are so bothered by me being a huntsman, you should have said that in the begining.
Me: I DID! I said that the first time we ever talked!
G: So stop whining.
Me: I'm not whining! I'm just not AGREEING with you. There's a difference. It's called an opinion. If you are so bothered by me having a brain, you should have said something before we got married!
G. I would, but you kept it very well hidden!

Monday, 29 June 2015

The 10cellos concert last night

Sunday, 28 June 2015

"Proof" 1991

Watching an odd little Australian movie about two men who seem to have deep feelings for one another - though completely not sexual or even romantic, just very friendly, almost brotherly. The story is about a love triangle (I always thought that to have a proper love triangle, there has to be a complicated emotional relationship between all angles) between an emotionally unavailable Martin, played by always awesome Hugo Weaving, who is blind and believes his mother 'left him' (died), because she was embarrassed by him. This is not true, but it makes him very bitter and nursing several social issues, namely that of believing people's attitudes towards him. (Reminds me a little of the Station Agent, actually.) To try and catch people in a lie, he takes photos and asks another person to describe it to him. He marks the photos using a Braille label-maker. 

His housekeeper Celia is an emotionally unstable young woman also with abandonment issues and she exercises her loneliness problems by being a little bit mean. She places furniture in Martin's path, hides his things, trains his dog to obey her, drives his friends away, even blackmails him into intimacy and does the best she can to emotionally manipulate him - alas, to little actual success. she makes an effort of being obsessed with him, though she isn't really, she just needs some meaning in her life and Martin makes for the ideal dramatic subject.
Their third character in their drama is a young, bit punk-ish Andy, played unusually adorably by a very young Russell Crowe in one of his earliest roles :) Andy is drawn to Martin ever since Martin almost kills his stray cat, and the two become close friends since Andy describes the photos very honestly and with fun observations. This of course won't sit with Celia, who seduces Andy (easily, really) just to show how untrustworthy he is. But it all works out well in the end. 

It's really an amazing movie. I've come across it often before, but never watched it, because I thought it was going to be much darker (maybe because all the promo material looks like it's been done by the same people who did some of the creepy Jeremy Irons films of that time.) But it's not dark, it's actually really nice. It's one of those - whoa, this was unexpectedly pleasant for a Sunday-morning-let's-watch-something-we've-never-watched-before.

Feel bad that the cat killed the spider. It was a really posh looking spider - I've never seen such a beautiful harvestman, with such long legs made of completely see-through, glass-like tubes and so normal looking, not like a monster at all. I like that there are several under the ceilings to eat the flies and mosquitos as soon as some fly into the room, but this one was huge. He had a very elaborate network of webs between the window and my winter hat and I tore some of it when getting the dog's Chuckit!, which was bad enough. But then the cat noticed sometimes flies get tangled and make for a fun prey and I just knew it she was going to notice the spider at some point. I regret I hadn't photographed it in time, but mostly I don't like when things die. There won't be another one like it anytime soon. :/

That must have been a terrible death - massive knives, coming from a large black paw, tearing through the webs like a deity of a bad day. Whiskers, each as long as any of its legs and fangs, from a foul-breathed hot pink mouth, coming down like a giant breaking apart branches of an entire tree. I wonder what that muct be like, for insects, to live in a world of so many people? ... Alright, most probably never come across the senses thunderstorm earthquakes known as humans, and some probably brag they once saw one and lived to tell the tale. I know I make an effort to avoid harming any of them, but of course that's never quite possible. I step on ants in the forest unwillingly, sometimes on snails or little bugs because I don't see them soon enough, and from time to time the dog eats a bee or somesuch. We are massive, massive creatures by comparison. True, they *could* kill us, if they wanted to, being venomous often or employing our only natural enemy - disease - but mostly, I am sorry to being so clumsy and posing a horror to little things. Best I can do is offer some housing to some of them and hope they have a good time here before the cat finds them. It is a useless cat and it usually takes a while.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The story of a road

Every person has a weakness, a penchant for pursuit ... for some it's a good book or honest to god truth that can only be found in a good poem, for others is love or food or, if you already got all that, sometimes it's the road. For me it's the road. I may be cheating it a little, because these roads never take me away from the other things, but nonetheless, it's the road. If you put me on a path and wind me, I don't even have to have anything in my bag, I don't suppose I would even need the shoes anymore, I'll go. Because it is not the master but a mistress, I can enjoy an entire length of a footpath and still come home every night.

I like to start JUST before dawn, because if the sun comes on full throttle, little mists rise from the swampy regions of the valley. Today was cloudy, though, so I got the other kind of drama :))

The road goes from broad enough to drive a truck on it - no joke - to so narrow my sly jogging slippers got soaked in the dew and I had to change socks. This is a little trick I learned from the Vietnam war*: change as many wet socks as you can.  

* Forrest Gump

The question on my mind lately, after I've mastered the study of maps and aerial footage (meaning I stopped getting lost and demoralizing myself by having to backtrack (backtracking is the WORST)) , is how long exactly am I capable of walking. Ironically, I have never crossed distances this great before. But the answer is - it depends entirely.
- It depends on the weather. 20 degrees is perfection. Maybe a little bit of a wind.
- Flat road. I am not a mountaineering person. I like them for the eye, not the foot.
- The luggage - be it food, the dog or the camera. The lesser the luggage, the further I go. Duhh.
- The next day. If I know the next day will be nothing but rest, I am a zealot. 
- The shoes help. But that depends on the road. I think if I walked in circles on a sports stadium in all of the ideal conditions mentioned above, I could make 60 km or even more without blistering.
- I tend to cheat. I take painkillers when my after-6-hours crisis kicks in and then at around 10 hours in, I have a coffee and that just brings on the rockets.

One of the tips for landscape photography is: keep looking back, so here goes :)
For a moment it seemed like the weather may turn sour, which is okay for hiking, not so much for the morale of dragging around a five pound camera. I hooked it to the backpack straps, though it bounced around my boobs and it looked kind of stupid. Also, because I tend to be far more protective of my possessions as I am of my self (when a dog approaches me, I only ever worry about Starbark, never really about myself.), every time someone looked at my camera I began thinking: this is a long, remote road. What are the odds someone will try to rob me? 
Then again it is a long, remote road. Howe hard would it be to hide a body? People always say hikers are suspicions, since they are always finding bodies. Why not put that to use? Mwuahaha... Okay, too much fresh air.

I notice lately, oddly, my sense of smell is returning. I had none for the first 35 years of my life, because my parent kept the cigarette industry alive though the depression, but I have actively avoided smokers for the past nine years and while walking, I suddenly noticed that I have an oddly acute sense of smell. Or just how normal people smell, I dunno. But there was the orchard chemicals and there was vanilla coffee that a couple on one of the benches was drinking which I could smell, literally, a mile away. They weren't nice people, so I didn't admit it, but gosh darn, gas-stop coffee in the morning... Because the only other times my sense of smell was this acute was when I was sick or ill, I don't yet fully welcome it, though it is interesting - being able to identify odors and mild fragrances... It would be nice to be able to tune it out in some places, but okay. Don't look into the given horse's mouth.

This is the purification plant in Petrovče. We visited this a few years back with my pastry-chef class. I didn't know, but these thingies operate on large pools of bacteria, which are the purifying agent and the pools are full of brownish goo, which is alive. Or sometimes they die, because the pollution from the near-by dairy farm is too great. On a nice day, though, the take stinky water and turn it to pure. I love bacteria. I think these plants are awesome. I applaud whoever thought of this process. Unlike the chemical process, which sounds counter-intuitive, this is clean nature at work.

Little bridge which I remembered from ages ago, when I once tried to do this route on a bike. I made my first selfie on this route .Don't have it any more, but I was puhdey.<3

I call these the Loki Roots. I understand that it's a result of people stepping on the roots and hurting them, so disease and tumors get to them, but these little fuckers just pop up in the middle of the path and if you're not looking, if you're, say, texting you love or photographing the scenery, it can get very interesting, horizontal-wise, and muddy. Owch.

That's Gozdnik in the back, a tall, showy hill in the ridge that seems to be trying to tell me something. As I have a tendency to wonder where roads go, I sometimes feel that for the hills - what's behind them? Well, usually more hills, but it wasn't that sort of a question. I think people who spend their whole lives driving the same roads and never checking out what's behind a ridge or what happens if you turn left instead of right, are missing out. I may put the thing on my list one of these days.  Normally I prefer the flats, but some hills are tenacious in their allure.

These tiny marks alongside the path are a nice reminder people tend to walking paths and encourage recreation, which I think is a cool proof of a neat, calm, civilized society.Also, i don't know how to read all of the marks, so note to self: do your fucking homework (out of respect!)

First bridge. To Liboje. Or is this the second one, to Griže? Dunno. One of those.You go under.

This part of the path runs high between two channels.I can hear the water on both sides, but can't really see it, because the greenery is dense and it has a jungly feel to it :D I suspect on one side it's the river and on the other orchards or likewise industry. But I can pretend it's anything. Swampy wilderness!

Truth is the river that comes against me is of such majestic green and gold colors, I stop in awe every time I see it. I want to swim in it, I want to chill in it, I want to blow up my kayak and paddle ... downstream. I want to stop on remote little shores and look for lost jewelry and then climb up the bank to check what strange villages lay beyond...

This part feels like an old Aztec road. I get an urge to pack a machete when I walk this part.

The forest creature by the Vrbno lake. So cute. Also a family of swans there. Momma swan, dada swan and an array of fuzzy brown tennis balls.

Also frogies and fishies of the artistic kind around the pond :)

I wake these basking ducks up every time. The vapor in the distance you see is the Šoštanj thermal power plant, which is actually an excellent orientation if you are not sure where you are supposed to be going. At some point you can just continue to advance on it and you would get to Velenje, where there is also a beautiful lake and a train station. So .. on the list.

And a neat nailed guy thingie. I always feel so sorry for this person. He seems to suffer though every nice scenery.I've brought this up before - General is of the believing sort, I'm not, so it always feels a little pleasant to come to places and this man is hanging out there and I think: General's dude. Hello there. I really wish I could help, but it's all a higher being business, so all I can do is smile and think a happy thought and go on.

Pretty alive and pretty dead tree. There was no board to commemorate it, but I'm guessing the alive one is old and significant. It certainly is very beautiful. Always a challenge to capture these things. Perhaps a poem would suit it better, but I am not a very good poet.


I started singing: Come along, now, come along with me, come along and, honey, you'll see, what it's like to be free...

I'm calling this patch the East India Trading route. For smuggling sage and pepper. And sexy oriental stories with ladies dressed in silk in them.

The photo of the river is almost the same every time, but that's just because I am awestruck by it every time and can't but take a picture of it.

The first cataract behind the cycling guy is the first time I started seeing the kayak attempt as a challenge. The bike is a neat cycling ambition, though there are parts which, when wet with dew, tend to prove a bit of a trial. The cataract behind him is one of the anti-flooding precautions, but if I was using my dingy, it would mean I'd have to get out, walk around it, carry the boat, and return to the water where it's safe again. It doesn't look like much, but I know that people still drown in this tricky little river and I am not the sort to play with water. Also I am incredibly clumsy and there is just no way I could operate a kayak over a step like this without some sort of comical tragedy. And G would never let me.

The third bridge, to Šešče. Where I always end up when I get lost  in my own home valley. 

The functional tractor road and the posh, pretty morning recreation path.
Below: one to the village, one to the town and one for me.

When I turned this wide deal, a garbage truck was coming my way. Really.  No idea why or where from. But caution - motorized traffic here, so don't have your earphones in. Personally I put music on my iPod in case I am running out of giddy. If I'm in pain, I listen to, say, Enya ... If I'm in a LOT of pain, there's Die Antwoord, and when I am at the end of my line and about the keel over, i switch to the Gravity OST... :D

More marcation (trail blazing). Hops route, heart route, Route by the river. :)
Hops, by the way, the main ingredient of our famous beer, was introduced to this valley by a nobleman's daughter. I thought of that, because every time someone tries to change the terrain for something else, locals freak out and I think - when she came with the idea of producing hops and barley, they were probably rioting like nuts against her. How dares she! Who does she think she is?! Now the region is famous for it, but they all but ruined the brewery, so ... That much about that.

At this point, the time came for me to use the bathroom. I did my business right by the river, because when you have to go you have to go and was really glad to have a densely overgrown river bank for nobody to see me as a shelter... and also really glad we have no crocodiles in these parts. Or at all. It would really such if on top of everything a crocodile would bite me in the butt. I felt ashamed that people produce so much waste when we really could eat more things the body needs and use more of it as opposed to having to go to the bathroom like a hypo, because, well, there is just so much good food in this world and I'd like at least to try all of it.

Calling this patch the Ankhor Watt road. 

And the Šempeter bridge. Big, wide, noisy thing. A main road goes over this one, but not the highway - the highway is a little further on. There is a driving learning center here, with a small polygon and all sorts of road situations set up. I spent an hour driving in circles here once. Kind of cute, but not really what my problem with traffic was about. It's not that I can't drive or ride a bike. I can do that just fine. It's that I don't like fucking retards claiming the road for themselves, speeding by me like rabid ferrets were biting at the balls.

On and on. This part of the road, before the Polzela bridge, is 19 km long. I need six hours to do it.

This is the first of the many very nice houses that you come across once you get under the highway - which surprises me, because this is not supposed to be such a cushy region. But the houses are really nice, very posh, pools, lawns and fancy cars and all. You can also tell you're in a nice neighborhood when your path is paved like this :

And some more Ankhor Watt :) The carving on the steps says 1887, which makes me think this was either a trekking path or a smuggling path since a while back. Looks like the partisans were using it, too, because at some point you come across the green circle with the blue center and the number fourteen, which is the sign for the historic route of the XIV. division. Ill-fated, but famous resistance division. And some monuments depicting sites where people, men, women, probably couriers, were shot. I'm guessing trying to cross at night.

Towards the end of the first half you move across a field, massive powerlines hanging above your head, and a more poor settlement pops up, a less maintained part of the route. Though pretty, still :)

I know I am not the only hiker, though probably the only one who takes the entirety of the length. I chat with several others. This is perhaps the only time I am super chatty with strangers.

You get a chance to descend and cross this cute thing, which Starbark played with the other day, barking at the small fish in it. Of course it only works in very low waters.The day after I was here heavy rain fell and the river is immensely quick to flood, which includes these tiny piss channels.

And then you get to Polzela bridge, which is a somewhat half of the road taken. Just before, a few streets with very fancy houses in, the field path ends and you have to deviate to the suburbs, but that's just for a little bit. If you choose to stay on the eastern side of the river, you can - the path continues for another few miles... However. At some point you come to a place where it feels really redneck-y and like everyone there is married to their cousin and grows weed and has a pitbull. I was praying aloud that the dogs won't smell us when we were lost there with Lyra. The other problem is that the route is very poorly maintained and you have to make your way across unpleasant patches, where there could be snakes, where there are certainly mosquitoes (so don't pee there, I learned that the hard way) but more importantly, at some point you realize the river's tricked you and you're suddenly following the wrong damn one. I had to get over a field, rail-o-track and then call home to find my way back again, so I didn't end up in Velenje. Granted, that's amateur planning, but also my emergency GPS stopped working right at that time and I didn't think you can get lost following a great big noisy stream. Lesson learned - rivers have tributaries!

So the next time I did what the map suggested and crossed and then walked roads like these for a while (very pretty and calm). I am not always smarter than the map. Though, never forget - this route is not on the map. The map suggests that it is not possible to follow the water all along.

Very pretty crossroads.

And fields.  Mostly barley and hops, but I suppose while the barley rests, they plant corn.

This is another cataract and very tall one - tall enough to really screw up your intention to paddle down the river in a blow-up one-seater. If the waters are calm like this, though, you can step out again, put the kayak on your head and get down the  bank. A tested method.


... And then you get to Letuš. The lower valley ends here, called the 'Ponikovsko kraška planota' - the Krassian flatland of Ponikva. Hills pinch together the terrain and you start walking in the shadow of the Posavsko hribovje, or somesuch. This is another point where I messed up the first time - the map suggested the main road and that proved a nightmare. No shoulder to speak off, the dog was miserable, I was miserable, it was dangerous, unpleasant and stressful :( And no way to get out of it, either. However. I spied with my little hungry vagrant's eyes a small forest path right across the river, so if there was a nice jogging path, there had to be a nice little road getting to it. There is, too. Not on the maps, either. First you pass this oddly magnificent abandoned set of buildings, which once, a long time ago, must have been a farm or a road stop or a pub, but is now nothing much but a derelict around a broadened main road. Bit on is a bridge, but don't cross it. Just keep going on the south bank.You'll come underneath a small monastery or a local school.

... And you get to the nice, broad, scarcely peopled little valley between Letuš and Nazarje. This way not only do you have the field roads all to yourself, you also skip Mozirje - one of the cities on the other side.There is a statue in Mozirje that I am attracted to, and a pleasant cafe at the bus station, and there is a recreational local path between the towns on the northern side of the river as well, in case you have to go there. But mostly you can avoid it and it's even better.

No idea how people maintain fields here - these flats are the result of the flooding and I am sure when the party starts, that little feisty whitewater deal floods plenty. Course flooding is the main way to fertilize the soil, even if lately that's been done with manure and artificial stuff. Tame rivers and all.

There's water! Fresh forest water! Otherwise I had to refill in shops or bus stations or cafe restrooms. This is much nicer, though. It's marked with a large beer glass, so you know it's okay to drink.

The road ends in a field and then the field road ends and the field disappears into this odd hole in the forest. But you just know this is the right way, because nothing else would be this inviting and creepy at the same time :D  You'll walk on a very steep northern side of a hill, so there will be lots of sights of slides like this:

But mostly it will be an adorable path of river sediment and pebbles, alongside a very pretty little rapids. I say rapids, because this is the river part my dad and G wanted me to wade the other day.  The shore you see in the next picture is a popular bathing site, if you love incredibly low water temperatures (I always scrape my knees, because I can't feel anything, and often I am the only one playing in the water.) Neat for sunbathing and chillaxing and teaching your dog how to swim very fast against the current.

Then you move along another small clearing, where there is some sort of a small training camp, even if it seemed to be for civilians, not actual people who train as part of their job. And the best part? The forest road was just being broadened, so large tractors and bulldozers leveled the soft forest soil and it felt, for about a mile, like I was walking on marshmallows! Oh, music for my feet :D So soft and gentle! Thank you! (Because by now you really fucking ache everywhere.)
This is how you make your way to Nazarje. Nazarje is the last bigger town in line before Ljubno, the checkpoint for the Upper Savinian valley and my final destination. There's a large, old cloister with a fancy library (thank you, mum and dad, who always took me along to press conferences) you can see from very far away. At this point the wind picked up and brought very large puffy nimbus' (is it 'nimbi'?). For a moment there is looked like it was going to shower me. I made it to the town and sat down for coffee - which really gives you a lift, I must say - but as it didn't rain and people were looking at me like I was a hobo, I set to follow the '75 km marathon route towards the Logarska Valley. There were large yellow arrows painted on the asphalt to help with decision making. ;)

Another nasty, vast cataract. :/

Passing Nizka, a village on the other side, I saw a lady in front of her house who, the previous time, gave me directions and suggestions and complimented on my stamina. I was so happy to see her again I almost started shouting, announcing that this time I AM taking the suggested road, but the water was too noisy :D I wonder if I should send her a postcard? ... Or would she feel stalked that I remembered the number of her house? :))

The last valley and this was a tricky one. You have to decide on the best road here on your own, taking several things into the account. I calculated the last time, that if I have enough time and enough stamina, I can deviate from the main road (seriously, the shortest routes are not the easiest or by far the nicest to walk. Highways are the shortest. And nobody can ever hike a highway; your heels would fall off. Hello, Morton's!) This path went on the southern side of the river, jumping several very small villages or settlements and then met with my destination in Ljubno ... But I never make it as far, I always run out of time (minutes!!) and have to return, where Maja picks me up on her way home form work. The roads here are positively perfect, though - and among the old farms there are also some very new and posh houses, since I can see why anyone with money would want to live here. I haven't seen all of them, but these are some of the most beautiful parts of this country. By my standards. Standards of a certified aesthetics freak.

I don't have a photo, but you can almost kick the Ljubno church from here. There's a pretty church in Okonina as well (churches are extremely easy to navigate by, because they are very obvious and you see them from far away) - but mostly a very pretty bus stop, where I tend to wait for my chariot. Maja is way better for driving me home than a hitchhike or a bus would be - she always brings me something sweet to eat and we stop to get drinks and I get to point out all the bits on the drive back that I slaved though or met with picturesque experience and she doesn't care that I stink. Or the dog stinks. :D