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I am grateful….

Thank you Dr. C. Birt for the excellent care you have given me during my recent two eye surgeries!

The Salt Mines in Krakow, Poland ~ June 2012

A must tourist attraction to discover!! We came away tired but enjoyed the
historical excursion. I still think of the sculptures and beautiful chandeliers.
Deep underground  in Poland lies something remarkable but little
known outside Eastern Europe. For centuries, miners have extracted salt
there, but left  behind things quite startling and unique. Take a look at the
most  unusual salt mine in the world. 
From the outside, Wieliczka Salt Mine doesn’t look extraordinary.
It looks extremely well kept for a place that hasn’t mined any salt for
over ten years but apart from that it looks ordinary. However, over two
hundred meters below ground it holds an astonishing secret. This is the salt
mine that became an art gallery, cathedral and underground Lake. 
Situated in the  Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close
to twenty thousand  inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a
Local Duke  to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath. Until 1996 it
did just that but the generations of miners did more than just  extract. They
left behind them a breathtaking record of their time  underground in the
shape of statues of mythic, historical and  religious figures. They even
created their own chapels in which to  pray. Perhaps their most astonishing
legacy is the huge underground  cathedral they left behind for
It may feel like  you are in the middle of a Jules Verne adventure
as you descend in  to the depths of the world. After a one hundred and fifty
meter climb down wooden stairs the visitor to the salt mine will see some
amazing sites. About the most astounding in terms of its sheer size and
audacity is the Chapel of Saint Kinga. The Polish people have  for many
centuries been devout Catholics and this was more than just a long term
hobby to relieve the boredom of being underground. This  was an act of
Amazingly, even  the chandeliers in the cathedral are made of
salt. It was not simply hewn from the ground and then thrown together;
However, the process is rather more painstaking for the lighting. After
extraction the rock salt was first of all dissolved. It was then
reconstituted with the impurities taken out so that it achieved a glass-like
finish. The chandeliers are what many visitors think the rest of the
cavernous mine will be like as they have a picture in their minds of  salt as
they would sprinkle on their meals! However, the rock salt occurs naturally
in different shades of grey (something like you  would expect granite to look
Still, that  doesn’t stop well over one million visitors (mainly
from Poland and its eastern European neighbors) from visiting the mine to
see, amongst other things, how salt was mined in the past. 
For safety reasons  less than one percent of the mine is open to
visitors, but even that is still almost four kilometers in length, more
than enough to  weary the average tourist after an hour or two. The mine was
closed for two reasons: the low price of salt on the world market made it
too expensive to extract here. Also, the mine was slowly flooding, another
reason why visitors are restricted to certain areas only. 
The religious  carvings are, in reality, what draw many to this
Mine as much for  their amazing verisimilitude as for their Christian
aesthetics. The  above shows Jesus appearing to the apostles after the
Crucifixion.  He shows the doubter, Saint Thomas, the wounds on his
Another remarkable carving, this time a take on The Last Supper.
The work and patience  that must have gone in to the creation of these
sculptures is extraordinary. One wonders what the miners would have thought
of their work going on general display? They came to be quite used to it, in
fact, even during the mine’s busiest period in the nineteenth  century. The
cream of Europen’s thinkers visited the site, you can  still see many of
their names in the old visitor’s books on display. 
These reliefs are  perhaps among some of the most iconographic
works of Christian folk art in the world and really do deserve to be shown.
It comes as  little surprise to learn that the mine was placed on the
original  list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites back in 1978. 
Not all of the  work is relief-based. There are many life sized
statues that must have taken a considerable amount of time – months, perhaps
even years to create. Within the confines of the mine there is also much
to be learned about the miners from the machinery and tools that they used
many of which are on display and are centuries old. A  catastrophic flood in
1992 dealt the last blow to commercial salt  mining in the area and now the
mine functions purely as a tourist  attraction. Brine is, however, still
extracted from the mine and then evaporated to produce some salt, but
hardly on the ancient scale. If this was not done, then the mines would soon
become  flooded once again.
Not all of the  statues have a religious or symbolic imagery
attached to them. The miners had a sense of humor, after all! Here can be
seen their own  take on the legend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The
intricately carved dwarves must have seemed to some of the miners a  kind of
ironic depiction of their own work. 
The miners even  threw in a dragon for good measure! Certainly,
they may have  whistled while they did it but the conditions in the salt mine
were far from comfortable and the hours were long  the fact that it was
subterranean could hardly have added to the excitement of going to work each
To cap it all  there is even an underground lake, lit by subdued
electricity and  candles. This is perhaps where the old legends of lakes to
the underworld and Catholic imagery of the saints work together to best
leave a lasting impression of the mine. How different a few minutes
reflection here must have been to the noise and sweat of everyday  working
life in the mine. Think of the unfathomable devotion these miners expressed,
giving new dimension to Jesus’,  ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ 
See photos in the Gallery!

June 14 – July 4, 2012 ~ Beautiful Poland, Beautiful Pela and Family

We spent a fantastic 21 days with the family. We came away with many treasured memories in our hearts. And as I look back at photos, my eyes light up with smiles on my face!

We visited the Salt Mines, Coal Mine; discovered that there was an actual desert near Olkusz! Who would have thought!

Enjoyed the family bbq on Bartek’s side of the family and Robert’s culinary delights ranging from Ukrainian to Polish to Canadian ~ he never disappoints. I think he should change his career to a Sous Chef!! His restaurant would be a 5 star plus!!

I especially loved Olkusz at this time of the year. The weather was perfect ~ perhaps some days it was too hot to do anything but sit and catch up with Pela and family lore. Of course a walk thru quaint Olkusz for our  ice cream cones were on the menu. We actually went out and bought a fan to try and stay cool in the evenings. Our stay at the Victoria was equally as memorable….we were treated like family and would not hesitate to return.

Time spent with Iza and her family was too short but we will be back. A warm and treasured friendship has developed. We now need to see how the TESLUK surname fits in with her family history. Her mom cooked a scrumptious dinner for us while Michael and Iza entertained us. And I discovered a bountyful cherry tree!!

As I review the 400 plus photos I have taken, each a delight in its own. I will post a few on the Gallery site.

stay tuned for more…….

***** A review by Chichina Guevara, July 24, 2012

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Ashes of Innocence (Paperback)

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who rise above life’s adversity with grace and dignity, and those who either drown, or become embittered. Alexandra’s poignant and brave account of her childhood, rife with neglect and abuse is a testament to her inner strength and resolve to emerge intact from the ashes…… It is a story that took great courage in the telling, and one that you will not want to put down until you have finished the last page.

Defining myself!

“I do not define myself by how many roadblocks have appeared in my path
I define myself by the courage I have found to forge new roads.
I do not define myself by how many disappointments I have faced
I define myself by the forgiveness and faith I have found to begin again
I do not define myself by how long a relationship lasted
I define myself by how much I loved, and been willing to love again
I do not define myself by how many times I have been knocked down
I define myself by how many times I have struggled to my feet
I am not my pain, I am not my past,
I am which has emerged from the fire.”
~ Author unknown ~

My love for my grandchildren, Megan, Daniel and Shawn  is deep beyond words!

June 23, 2012 ~ Megan

Happy early 6th birthday, to our beautiful granddaughter, Megan!  Always in my heart!! I love you XO

June 14, 2012 ~ Happy Birthday Shawn

Birthday wishes to our handsome grandson Shawn as he celebrates his 17th!!

We love you XO

Books In Sync

My Wish!

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
and each road leads you where you want to go,
and if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
and if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin’ ’til you find the window,
if it’s cold outside,
show the world the warmth of your smile,
but more than anything, more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
and while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish,my wish for you.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
all the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
and you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake,
and always give more then you take.

i hope you know somebody loves you and
may all your dreams stay big!
Credit: Rascal Flatts

Therapy for the heart and soul!

Just returned from a fantastic beach vacation. I spent a lot of time reflecting back to the last couple of years.

When a family member betrays you, you feel heartbroken, angry, grieved, sad and confused. When you come to the point that you are able to accept the betrayal, you can begin the process of forgiving. Forgiveness is a conscious choice to let go of resentment, anger and pain. When these negative emotions are released, forgiveness can lead you to better physical and emotional health.

Forgive ~ do your part to protect the wellbeing and personal quality of your life.

I have ‘forgiven.’