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In Ireland for the first time.

The Custom House in Dublin, on the River Liffey.

Tara and I boarded our first plane Tuesday morning. After a 6 hour layover in Washington, D.C., we boarded our second plane and in 7 hours arrived in Dublin. Exhausted. Sadly, during that time, Tara developed a cold. Though we felt excited and upbeat at first, the kiddo was wiped out by noon.

I was tired too, but tucked my sweetie into bed and went out to take a look at Dublin. Our room is in the center of town, near the mouth of River Liffey, a couple of blocks from Trinity College. I walked along the water at first, and admired The Custom House across the water. Then I made my way south through the streets past Trinity College. School was clearly in session and crowds of young people pressed past me on the sidewalk, all the boys in suits and slacks – they looked so nice.

Sights of Dublin on the way to Trinity College.

Streetcar curves past shops near Trinity College.


Narrow streets of Dublin.

St. Andrews Church

Springs blossoms in front of St. Andrews Church.

Dublin has so many smiling happy chatty people. I’ve had five random strangers strike up a conversation with me. One guy watched me taking photos of St. Andrews Church.

“You wanna take a photo of me? I’m famous.”

“Oh yeah,” I ask, “what for?”

“Football,” he replies.

“Unfortunately,” I tell him, and this is with real regret, “I know nothing about football.” I’m sure he’s not famous, but it would be nice to know more about the World’s Favourite Sport.

“You must be from America,” he says. And we both know Americans are famous for being completely out of the football/soccer loop compared to most of the rest of the world. “So what’s it like? Living in America?”

I tell him that so far, Dublin is a lot like Oregon. Same climate, same early stage of Spring, same plants grow here. He talks about Trump a little, and says he’s not racist like people are in America.

I walked past Trinity College and continued south to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, because it was one thing I wanted to do, and wasn’t sure if Tara did. I found the museum easily and was pleased to see that the entrance fee is free. This is one of those museums in which the building itself is a big attraction. I happened to stop first at the almost-identical library across the parking lot (oops forgive me: carpark), and shot a photo of the whole building (which is enormous):

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

The entire floor inside is mosaic tile. Some places are so beautiful that I hesistated to walk on it.

Columns inside the museum.

Decorated bronze mount.

Ancient carved stone.

Roman silver artifacts.

Exceptional metalwork

Carved stone 1-2 century AD

Golden cross.

After the museum I found a convenience store and bought some medicine for Tara, then went back to the room to deliver hot lemon medicated tea and cough syrup.

It was quiet and warm in the room and I couldn’t help it but take a nap! Later that evening, I went back out for sustenance and found quite by accident, two great places. I stepped into The Vintage Kitchen and put my name down for an 8:30pm table, then went next door to Mulligans.

It turns out that Mulligans Pub is an old and famous pub! Apparently James Joyce drank here, as well as John Kennedy. I was treated well and surrounded by Irishmen, their accents rising around me. I finished my pint of Five Flags lager, and walked back over to the kitchen.

The Vintage Kitchen is another narrow, quirky place with immediately friendly staff. The waiter insisted that if I like seafood, I needed to order the chowder. I obeyed. I enjoyed the quirky atmosphere and in no time had my chowder, which is to die for. I filled a little dish with mussel shells that I dug out of it, and dunked a variety of homemade breads into it. The chowder, though listed under “starters,” was a meal unto itself. Alas, I still had a risotto coming. No worries though, once I crammed as much of the fabulous risotto with kale (and leeks and broccoli) into myself, I asked them to pack up the rest for my sick kid. Tara was happy to take the leftover dinner off my hands.

John Mulligan’s Pub around the corner from our AirBnb.

Inside the pub

Inside The Vintage Kitchen

The rain makes everything sparkle at night.

Pubs and cobbled streets.

We had a better look at Dublin the next day.

A section of our beautiful Oregon coastline.

It was time to head down the coast. Will had seen a lot of the area where I live, but I wanted to show him the unique coastlines we have on the Pacific that are unlike Atlantic coastlines.

I also wanted to introduce him to timberland. I grew up here in a U.S. Forest Service family, always close to vast areas of timberland, managed either by the government or private logging companies. So, rather than head west, then drop south along the coast to Tillamook, Will and I cut directly over the top of the Coast Range, and drove southwest to Tillamook. If you ever watched the reality TV show “Ax Men,” one of the crews worked here. (btw, any real logger will tell you the show was short on reality) It was a fun, narrow, windy road through remote hills covered in trees, and we passed many sections of recently harvested timber. In this area the method used is clearcutting, where every tree, sapling, and shrub is leveled and all that’s left on the land are stumps and sawdust. Evidence of what happens next came in the form of whole hillsides covered in young trees all the same age, with signs by the road telling what year they were planted. Trees are a sustainable resource, and every clearcut is followed by planting. But the newly harvested areas are hard to look at, and Will reacted with predictable emotion and distaste.

AIR MUSEUM painted on the side of the enormous Hangar B outside of Tillamook, OR. (Note the clearcut areas on the hills, showing patches of snow where there are no trees)

My Jeep parked at the turn-off for the museum, beneath a Douglas A4-B Skyhawk.

Hangar B is so enormous it dwarfs the Mini-Guppy.

We reached the coast town of Tillamook and headed first for the Air Museum in a gigantic airship hangar built in 1942. The history of the construction of Hangar B is fascinating, and it’s remarkable to stand inside that vast building with no internal structural supports. The museum includes a theatre that constantly played a short documentary of the building’s history in WWII, and also lots of donated items from wartime, including uniforms, instruction manuals, insignia, weapons, and all the usual things you find in a war museum. There are a few historical fire engines on one end, and the interior contains all kinds of aircraft that you can walk right up to.

There is a collection of flight simulators that we climbed into of course! And Will’s eyes glazed over in delight when we found a whole room filled with one man’s entire model collection representing practically every WWII battle field you can imagine. Will’s reaction was so awesome I wrote it down immediately on my phone so I would remember: “This is a little kid’s dream. I want to play with everything. I could stay here all day!”

Aeorospacelines Mini-Guppy. Look carefully and find the teeny tiny window where the pilots sit. That helps you imagine how enormous this plane is.

Fisher Flying Products British Tiger Moth

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair ll

WWII Diorama Exhibit – model creations of every imagineable theatre and battle – a little kid’s dream.

My first time in the cockpit of an A-7E Corsair

My own view from inside there. All those gauges!

After the museum we ate an early supper at Old Oregon Smokehouse. This place had good reviews despite looking sketchy from the outside. We both had fish and chips of cod, halibut, salmon, and rockfish that were good, better than the famous Bowpicker in Astoria. Very generous portions and the chips (fries) are great. The seafood was super fresh and that makes all the difference.

Speaking of a little kid’s dream, our next stop was in search of ice cream! Directly across the street from Old Oregon Smokehouse is the Tillamook Creamery that offers my favourite cheese west of Vermont, and my favourite ice cream of all. Inside you can do a self-guided tour of cheese operations, sample their to-die-for cheddars, and shop at the restaurant or gift shop. We did the tour, ate samples, then got in line for ice cream. I ordered one scoop of Blood Orange Cream, and one scoop of Pendleton Whiskey and Maple. Each one was amazing. Will got Chocolately Chip Cookie Dough.

Assembly line where workers are getting 40-lb loaves of cheese ready for cold storage.

Cooler in the gift shop was drool-worthy.

Since it was March, I had not made any reservations for the night, thinking the season would mean we would have every hotel to ourselves. However, it was a gorgeous, warm, sunny weekend and guess what? Most of the hotels were booked. We took a short drive out of town to the seashore on a chance that Terimore Motel could accommodate us. They could! As we checked in, the owner told us we were just in time for the sunset, and it was going to be a good one. “I’ve seen many sunsets,” he said, “So I know.”

He was right. Will and I dumped our stuff in the room and immediately went down to the beach. Though the view from the room was incredible, I felt a need to be out there in the middle of it.

Sunset from our room.

Looking up at the Terimore Motel before we walked down the stairs to the beach.

From the trail down to the beach.

Kids playing at Star Wars on the sand with their light sabers.

Homes on the beach reflect orange light. PSA: Never, never, never buy a house situated as these are. Ocean storms, landslides, and tsunamis will eventually destroy the property. And uhh, “foundation built upon the sand,” anyone?

Sea bird just before it got nervous and flew away.


The Blue Basin is named for obvious reasons: the clay formations here are not only beautiful, but blue and green.

We had a busy day of exploration planned, so we left early after the complimentary breakfast at Hotel Condon to get started on day three of our series of mini road trips. Our first stop was Blue Basin. I had hiked Blue Basin last year during the eclipse, and knew it was worth another visit.

The sun was beating down, but we grabbed some water, Vlad grabbed his hat, and off we went. The most remarkable thing to the casual viewer is the colour of the canyon. I was told that it’s most stunning during a rain, and I believe that. Just imagine the bright colours if the picturesque cliffs here were wet.

An easy, well-maintained path leads 1.3 miles to a great overlook.

Along the path we saw a green stream. I put my hand in the water and confirmed it is clay – that slimy feel – that is the sediment clouding the water.

Also along the trail are replicas of fossils found in this area.

Even the dry clay is distinctly blue-green.

The blue is more noticeable next to the reds from oxidization.

We were only a short drive from the gorgeous Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. It was built in 2005 and named after an Oregon scientist who recognized the value of this fossil collection in the 19th century. It is an impressive, modern museum and information center for visitors, as well as an active research center (with windows so you can watch paleontologists at work!). It’s in the middle of No Where Oregon. I’m serious. Part of the reason I love this place is the impressive quality of the facility in a place where there are very few people and the local economy struggles. Thank you thank you to the entity/grant/taxes/ whatever-it-was that made it possible for this facility to be built. It’s top notch.

And it’s certainly money well spent. By geologic and climactic chance, this region reveals 40 million years of fossils in one spot. Yes, fossils have been found here as old as 44 million years old, and fossils as new as 7 million years old, and lots of stuff in between. What an incredibly valuable resource to be able to track the change over time. In fact, fossil collections around the world that span only a couple million years will send samples here for comparison and confirmation of age. This period is after the dinosaurs, with tropical plants like avocados and animals like three-toed horses.

A fossil display of a three-toed foot inside the museum.

The Dawn Sequoia, which still grows in the US today.

For Maureen who loves fossils: a 44 million year old cicada.

We arrived at the Paleontology Center as a ranger was beginning his talk. He explained the significance of the place, and how it was found after erosion exposed the fossils and locals began talking about it. It was a famous place for awhile, and scientists flocked here to excavate and collect. He passed fossils around while he talked, so we could handle them.

View from the Paleontology Center

Ranger tells us about the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

I got to hold leaf fossils. In my hand!

After the talk we went inside and explored the museum, watched a movie, and spied on the research facilities. We went out to the Jeep again to hit the road and hit the next stop.

Ok. Disclaimer. I love the Painted Hills. I’m telling you: such wonderful photographic opportunities. So I’m just gonna post a string of photos, and you’re going to deal with it.

The view from the summit of a short hike.

The colours and formations are simply stunning. And otherworldly.

Vlad and I are former weather forecasters, so we got very excited when some afternoon thunderstorms began.

Here you are, Derrick: flower shots.

Flowers in the desert.

At the Painted Hills, boardwalks are installed to help people resist the temptation to walk on the hills.

The colours along the trail include, red, yellow, and even lavender.

The red comes from oxidization.

Are we on Mars?

Up close, the hills are even more interesting.

Is this not fascinating? Vlad wondered why there is no vegetation on the hills. There was no ranger on site to ask.

Contrasts between green and red were intriguing.

By this time it was late in the afternoon and we were ready for home. We left and drove through thunder, lightning, and downpours for much of the return journey. As any proper forecaster would be: we were both delighted.

Nagasaki City Peace Hall viewed across the reflecting pool of the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial

My brother Ian and I agreed that Nagasaki was on our list of things to do. Friday I was free to spend the whole day out touring with Ian, so we made plans to take the train south along the western edge of Kyushu and see the famous city.

Rain crashes onto the train that will take us to Nagasaki

We were up early (Ian assisted by vestiges of jet lag), but we lagged in preparations because it was raining pretty hard outside. We went across the parking lot to the Harbor View Club for breakfast, but the rain continued. After some discussion, we agreed that rain or no, today was the best day to see Nagasaki.

Boy howdy, did it rain! We stopped first at the NEX (Navy Exchange) to buy umbrellas (I think I own six umbrellas now, since I kept getting caught without one). We slogged through the downpour to the train station. We bought tickets and climbed aboard absolutely soaked through.

Part of the Huis Ten Bosh European theme park

Japanese houses in the rain

Rice fields mature beside the tracks on our way to Nagasaki

The small train went slowly to Nagasaki. After an hour and a half we had arrived, and the weather had improved dramatically by the time we arrived. What a relief. Ian proved resourceful, and while I was still trying to think through how we should begin getting around, he found information on how to get an inexpensive day pass for the streetcars. We found maps of the city in English at the Information shop where we purchased the pass.

entrance of the train station

one of the streetcars that took us around the city

First stop was the atomic bomb museum. I was eager to compare this one to the one I had seen in Hiroshima. (Please see my blog post from my first visit to Hiroshima Peace Park.) Many people had told me they preferred the Nagasaki peace park/ museum complex. It is less polished than the one in Hiroshima, and for some that makes it more real.

twisted metal {click to enlarge}

from the church

I found myself less distraught at the complex in Nagasaki. Perhaps because I was with my brother and made an effort not to let myself get too emotional, whereas in Hiroshima I was with Tara, and we are comfortable crying together.

ruined bowl

What struck me the most in Nagasaki was seeing how much of their Christian community had been destroyed. Of course, Nagasaki was a wonderfully diverse city at that time, and contained worshippers of multiple faiths, but before this summer I would never have guessed how many Catholics were there. I wonder how many Americans knew about this after the bomb: we hadn’t vaporized alien beings, but Christians, and sacred Catholic churches and artifacts. This realization was consistent with the little bit of Japanese history I learned this summer when I read Shusaku Endo’s compelling book, Silence, about Jesuit priests that snuck into Japan in the 17th century to minister to the faithful who had to worship in secret under penalty of death if discovered.

melted rosary {click to enlarge}

Information board at the museum:

The Urakami district of Nagasaki was the site of Christian missionary work from the latter part of the 16th century. The people of Urakami suffered persecution constantly from 1587 when Christianity was outlawed until 1873 when the ban was finally lifted. Over the course of 20 years, these faithful people built a church, laying one brick upon another. Their labors were rewarded in 1914 with the completion of the grandest church in East Asia. The church’s twin 26 meter high spires were completed in 1925. But the explosion of the atomic bomb blew the spires down and reduced the church to a hollow shell of rubble.

inside the atomic bomb museum

Another very compelling sight was the famous image of the man and ladder “burned” into the side of a building at the instant of the deathly bright flash of the bomb burst, and also the image similarly captured by vines on a wall. These things make it very real: the tragedy, the instantaneous destruction, the power of the bomb.

“About 4.4 kilometers from the hypocenter. A lookout was exposed to the flash of the atomic bomb explosion after coming down from the roof of the Nagasaki Fortress Headquarters. The tar exposed directly to the flash burned and disappeared but that in the shadows remained.”

wood burned by flash of bomb, but protected where the vine grew

live vine

There are other things to see on location, so after the museum, we toured the Yataro Noguchi Art Museum. Works in the small museum were primarily by the named artist, but we found paintings by other artists that impressed us more than the impressionistic paintings of Noguchi.


Then we walked through the Nagasaki Museum of History and Folklore.

Finally we found the entrance to the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. The hall is underground, and the entrance is through a water sculpture that creates a reflecting pond on the surface. Water only about an inch deep covers 70,000 tiny fiber optic lights representing the 73,884 deaths attributed to the atomic bomb and the nuclear fallout.

remembrance hall atrium

The underground peace memorial hall was cool, modern, peaceful. It is built for prayer and reflection and remembrance. Architect Akira Kuryu did an excellent job of creating the right kind of mood down there. In the main hall atrium, there are 12 lit green pillars that soar upwards to a skylight. At one end of the row of pillars is an equally tall column holding shelves with cards, each card containing the written name of a victim. There is a book for people to write in, on a table that also holds dedications. These often consisted of folded paper cranes for peace. The paper cranes are found all over the site here in Nagasaki, as well as in Hiroshima.

Our wanderings led us up and out of the complex after that, and we wandered back into the city to look for more sights to see and hopefully some food, as well. Sadly, we did not realize that the bomb hypocenter was very close to us, though hidden behind trees. Thus we did not make our way to that final sobering memorial.

Entrance to the 'Iolani Palace in Honolulu

We got up nice and early, and headed directly for the 9am opening of the ‘Iolani Palace, the only actual Royal Palace on U.S. soil. The building was beautiful inside and out. I snapped photos all around our waiting space on the front porch area. As part of the welcome address and rules, they informed me that the camera would be strictly off limits from then on.

detail of a door at Iolani Palace

ceiling detail

Inside the palace is a wonderfully restored museum of what it was probably like at the time Queen Iolani lived there. Woodwork, books, photos, clocks, furniture, and even the rugs and drapes were collected, restored and/or created with utmost care. We even saw one of the original copies of Don Quixote (in two volumes!) in the office. Our tour guide told us several stories about how things “want to return to the palace,” as evidenced by the furniture and other items that had been auctioned off by the royal family many years ago… somehow were returned.

Ridgeline road up Mt. Tantalus

Our next plan was to hike up Mt. Tantalus. We drove up another one of those narrow, winding roads into the jungle. Because of low clouds the view was more mysteriously compelling than usual. The views were usually obscured, but not completely, and we had the chance to spot fabulous lush steep cliffs fading into and out of view through the fog. We hiked up a dreadfully muddy trail and soon it began to rain. As we got closer to the mountain peak, the rain became steadier and heavier.

Tara hiking the muddy trail ahead of me.

Inside the bamboo forest. The forest seemed young, as the bamboo wasn't any larger than my fist.

Along the trail we made our way into a real bamboo forest. It was fascinating, otherworldly, beautiful. When the wind blew, the bamboo stalks clacked and knocked against each other. (I’ll add a video of it at the end.) We climbed higher and higher along the trail and were soaked through in the warm rain by the time we found the peak. We watched sheets of rain pound through the tops of the bamboo forest. As we stood at the peak of Mt. Tantalus and watched, there was a break in the clouds, and the sun illuminated a rainbow for us. Perfectly Hawai’i.

rain-soaked Tara, hiking ahead of me

V gazing at a twisted tree within the bamboo forest

We backtracked a little and moved along a ridge toward a lower peak. V knew just where to turn despite the narrow trail that wound through the bamboo. We dropped down a steep slope and in a short while came into the wooded bowl of a dormant cone of a cold volcano. There was a pond in the center (since the rain had no outlet), with marshes and forest spreading out from it.

Rainbow from the peak of Mt. Tantalus

Pond, marsh meadow, and forest inside the dormant cone

Honolulu from the trail, on the way back down

Red-crowned Amazons

It was lovely not to be so uncomfortably hot for a few hours. So much so that we really didn’t mind the rain. All of us managed to slip on the steep slopes of clay mud in the rain, at one point or another. The clouds had lifted somewhat, by the time we had views of Honolulu again. We stopped to admire the sun across the city, and then hiked to the car again and spent a good bit of time de-mudding before we climbed in! On the way home we stopped briefly at the Keaiwa Heiau State Park where I was able to walk through the ruins of a sacred site, and take some photos of Red Crowned Amazon parrots!

USS Blueback, filmed in The Hunt For Red October, is part of the museum

Tara is registered with her school as an American Indian because the school receives more money for more Indian students as part of the No Child Left Behind initiative. (She is able to use my Cherokee number there, but I still intend to register her with the Nation as well.) The Title VII Indian Education Project in Portland Public Schools tracks her personal school progress now. They publish a newsletter of Indian news that includes high scores and personal achievements of students in the program, and she receives congratulatory certificates for good attendance. People come to her school periodically to ask each child in the Title VII program if they need anything, have any questions, are having trouble with anything, etc. at school.

Oregon Museum of Science & Industry

Tara and the other students in the program filled out an index card with particular interests at school, and turned it in. Later, when the Title VII person showed up, she was able to talk with Tara about it. The woman called me later to tell me about their conversation. Tara said that she loves to study science, and was hoping to go to college and study trees. I knew this because Tara has been saying she wants to be an arborist for some time. The woman told me she was calling because there was going to be an American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) weekend at Portland State University, and Title VII was willing to pay her fee to get in if we wanted to go.

We reviewed the itinerary and decided to go. There would be three days of speakers and something called “digital storytelling,” and a nighttime powwow Friday and Saturday. Our Friday was too full, with school and work of course, so we didn’t try attending. Saturday quickly became full, and after ballet practice we didn’t have the energy to bundle up and drive into town to find the powwow. We set everything else aside to attend the breakfast, OMSI tour, and lunch gathering on Sunday.

testing the aerodynamics

Unfortunately, we never found AISES. We circled the PSU campus with no idea where to go (since the website did not give locations, and the phone number of the Title VII person – if she could even help me – was still in my email inbox). The website did provide the address of a conference center that turned out to be a hotel, but the hotel front desk people were very helpful in giving us directions to the gorgeous Native American Student and Community Center. We found a nearby lot, parked, and when we got up to the building, found it dark and locked. Our next plan was to wait around at Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) till the group showed up. We arrived before opening time, so we drove back into town to find some breakfast!

It had been a frustrating and disappointing morning thus far, driving around the city of Portland from 8:30 to 10:00am on a Sunday morning and getting nowhere, knowing some organization had spent money on Tara but we couldn’t return the kindness by at least joining them. Tara says, “Let’s just forget them! It’s too frustrating and stressful. We both want to go to OMSI. Let’s just go to the museum without the group and do whatever we want and stay as long as we want.” It was an excellent plan. We spent the whole day there.

testing her speed and motor control

The Lost Egypt exhibit was new to us, and I particularly enjoyed it because of our trip to Egypt a year ago. I found little things that had extra meaning for me that I am sure most people did not even notice. For example, the placards placed in a couple of locations were illustrated with the five-pointed stars I had seen painted on the ceilings of Egyptian tombs, but did not explain this fact to the readers. The museum had more basic education about traditions, symbols, reading hieroglyphics that I wished we had received when we were in Egypt. There was a whole area dedicated to teaching visitors how satellites are used to help archaeologists find new dig sites. Tara was bored out of her mind in the Egypt section, and eager to move on. “I’ve already seen the real thing,” she says. Ha ha!

As in the past, she had the most fun in the hands-on science section, building paper airplanes, using huge robots to play connect-four with another girl, building boats to sail in chlorinated water troughs, trying to solve puzzles at the puzzle stations. On this visit she spent the most time in the Ball Room. This room contains a thousand small blue balls and has forced air piping through at all times. Kids can turn valves to start or stop the air flow, or connect tubes to change the air flow. Place balls in the path of the wind and that results in dozens of balls flying all directions in all parts of the room. The walls are covered in a variety of structures designed to play with the air and the balls, so that if you tire of one way to launch balls, you can move on to many others. Baskets are mounted on most parts of the ceiling, in case you need a particular place to aim your launched balls.

We also took advantage of the OMNIMAX theatre to watch a new film called Born to Be Wild, narrated by Morgan Freeman. It’s an inspiring story of orphaned elephants and orphaned orangutans getting another chance at life. The women who founded facilities in Borneo (for the orangutans) and in Kenya (for the elephants) believe that their primary role is to prepare the young ones to be released into the wild again.

inside the enormous OMNIMAX theatre, where the screen wraps around the entire ceiling and down the sides

We also watched an interesting show, Journey to the Stars, in the Kendall Planetarium, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. The movie made full use of the planetarium-style dome, making it seem as though we were gazing up at the night sky most of the time. Journey to the Stars is an educational presentation about the formation of stars, the types of stars, and the death of stars – and what it all means to us here on earth. When Whoopi was explaining about the eventual death of our own star, one child in the theatre could take no more and shouted, “I wanna get out of here, now!” The poor thing burst into tears and was never released, though he did eventually calm down.

Though we never found AISES, I spotted one old Indian grandpa with a little boy. That made me think our group must have eventually arrived. Or maybe the two were simply random visitors. In any event, I credit the Title VII program and AISES for getting us to the museum… so the program works! As is the case with so many aspects of our lives: it turns out just as it was supposed to, but not necessarily the way we were expecting.

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