I love maps!

100529 -  - medium

The field of cartography fascinates me and what a single map can tell you is hypnotizing.

 “Maps encourage boldness. They’re like cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible.” ―Mark Jenkins

Maps are windows into new worlds, new paradigms, different ways and customs of looking at the world.

 “The map is one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication. Humans were probably drawing maps long before they were writing texts. Mapmaking may even predate formal language. As far as historians and geographers can determine, every culture in every part of the world uses and makes maps. This deep lineage reflects the descriptive usefulness of a map – a map is one of the best proofs that a “Picture is worth a thousand words.”” – Joni Seager, University of Vermont http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/unpacking/mapsmain.html

 People use maps to define, explain and navigate through their world. Any map you look at will inform you not only of place, but what was of the greatest importance to the cartographer whether it be religion, politics, art, utilitarianism, or cultural bias.

“I have an existential map; it has ‘you are here’ written all over it”– Stephen Wright

I love people and understandingwhere they are coming from”. A map can answer that and more.

 “There are maps through your bones and skin, to the way you’ve felt and the way you’ve been” Testy McTesterson

There’s a map of the sky in the Lascaux caves, there are maps on clay tablets from Mesopotamia, and maps on mosaic tiles from the ancient Mediterranean.

Ancient maps and descriptions of lost maps are recorded from Homer (who may or may not have existed and may or may not have described a map) to the earliest reference to a map from China in the 3rd century BC.

120922 -  - medium-4

Since maps come from all over the world and the various cultures of the world, the best way to study maps is to pick a specific area of interest whether it be place, time or culture and go from there.

“One of the challenges in this mission is the British maps are different from our maps, so it took some time to get use to them” – William Rush

 Besides cartography there are maps of life, psyche, plans, and being.

The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps.”  – Bob Black

What are your favorite types of maps? How do you map out your life? What do all your maps tell you about yourself?

~ lisa

 “To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite map site so far: http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.php/maps

A great site and fun for browsing and learning about maps: http://www.davidrumsey.com/

History of Maps: http://www.maphistory.info/

An interactive political map from the Ancient History Encyclopedia offers a large-scale overview of the ancient world across all time periods: http://www.ancient.eu.com/mapselect/

Timeline maps: http://www.timemaps.com/history/

Looking up at that balloon



ALS Awareness Month

Black Eyed Susan

The Month of May is ALS Awareness Month http://www.whathealth.com/awareness/event/alsawarenessmonth.html

In the plethora of awareness months it is easy to lose track of what to be aware of until the disease strikes someone you know. Then you want everyone to be aware.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. As yet there is no cure or understanding as to the causes of this devastating condition.

ALS can strike out of the blue and is “indiscriminate in the types of people who will be affected by it.”

Gotta be me

It is my fervent hope you or someone you know never encounters ALS, but if that misfortune befalls you or yours here are some sites that will support you through this difficult disease.





Up and above at the Skagit Valley Tulip FestivalHycynths, Fuji X20

A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Dragons

130719 -  - medium

Do you know anyone with wings under their armpits? Do you know any old crones or beautiful young women who are always followed by inclement weather?

  • If so you probably know the offspring of a Zmey or you may be rubbing elbows with a Lamia in human form.

All Bulgarian dragons are successful shape-shifters.

 The Zmeys are especially known for falling in love with and seducing humans. Which means they’ve spent a lot of time in human form.

Flower, Fuji X20

Zmeys are usually male and associated mostly with fire. There are records of a few Zmeyitsas (female) protector dragons and some accounts of the Zmey having an affinity for both fire and water. Most villages in Bulgaria have their own Zmey as protector. The Zmey battle the elements for the safety of crops and village. Mostly they battle against the Lamia, the female water dragons.

Another form of the Zmey is described as part snake, part bird and part human. No one can give an exact description because they can become invisible at will. Their battles with the Lamia often cause thunderstorms and lightning.

It is said if you eat the heart of a Zmey you can partake of their power. Considering how dangerous these dragons are, well, I think most sane people would give that a second thought.

Bulgarian female dragons, the Lamia (Lamya) & Khala (Hala) are powerful water creatures with little love for mankind and his settlements. The Lamia can stop the flow of water in a well or stream, or dry up lakes and cause drought. She can also create storms and pummel the fields with hail.

If your Zmey isn’t strong enough to defeat her then a sacrifice to her might ease her temper. I have not found any documentation yet that the Lamia has the power of invisibility like her male counterpart, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past her.

Lamias have been described in many different ways in many different regions. They all seem to be quite individualistic.

Various Lamia descriptions include:

  • 3 to 9 heads (Sometimes dog heads)
  • Long tail of a snake
  • Enormous
  • A large enough mouth to swallow a man whole
  • Sharp teeth
  • Yellow scales
  • Sharp-nailed legs (quadrupeds)
  • Wings
  • Snake-like
  • And of course the ability to shape-shift

121001 -  - medium-3

Zmey and Lamia, male and female, fire and water, locked in endless battle. I imagine that little dragons must come from somewhere so the conflict might be a little over-hyped.

Personally. I think powerful female figures can be intimidating in some cultures. In a more enlightened time perhaps there are reformed Lamia wandering among us and equally liberated Zmey who are no longer constrained by the notions of the past.

There is far more Bulgarian myth than I can share in one month. The richness of the tales and culture are staggering and well-worth exploring. I hope to return to this subject in the fall.

I leave you with another Bulgarian saying

 “Work like you’re going to live for 100 years, but live like you’ll die tomorrow.”

 ~ lisa

 Riddle Answers:

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

The eyes

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

The tongue

A world without people Cities without houses Forests without trees And seas without water.

A map

 I cannot emphasize enough that this is the spot to go for the best overall accounting of Bulgarian Mythology. http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Bulgaria Superstitions and Folklore http://www.bestcountryreports.com/Soci_Bulgaria_Superstitions_Folklore.php

Bulgarian creation myth http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Holidays, M-P

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American national holiday that remembers all of the country’s war dead.


On this holiday people pay tribute to those who died in military service by visiting cemeteries and memorials, and many volunteers place an American flags on graves in national cemeteries.

Why Red Poppies?

This site has fairly loud music, but is the best in-depth description I have found on why there are red poppies on Memorial Day. http://www.cal-mum.com/poppy.htm

A more silent and general version of Memorial Day and red poppies can be found at http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2. The following is quoted from this site.

“Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.”

Poem extract by Moina Michael (1915), the founder of the red poppy tradition.

“We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.”

About http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2 This site was created in 1994 to be a central point of information about Memorial Day in the United States of America, help restore its original intent, and to provide others a chance to share their feelings, pride, respect, and honor for those that gave their all. In the spring of 2009 the site’s original creator, David M. Merchant, turned it over to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) (SUVCW) for ongoing maintenance and upkeep. In 2014 it was redesigned by SUVCW webmaster Joshua Claybuurn.”

Thinking of and remembering all of those who gave their lives for our country.






Bridge over a field of poppy's

Author, Books, Holidays, People

Happy Towel Day

Towel Day is observed every May 25 by fans of Douglas Adams and his famous book series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. I highly recommend this read to anyone who has yet to come across it.

Amazing, but true, on this day you are supposed to carry a towel throughout the day. The importance of towels can be found in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe in Chapter 3.

“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”

Swan with shades

“Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth …you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, Chapter 3

“More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value…any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with:” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe in Chapter 3

To  “know where one’s towel is” means to be in control of one’s own life.

Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was a multi-talented man. Besides writing the best-selling Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe series, Adams wrote several other pieces including, but not limited to, three stories for the Doctor Who television series and a few sketches for Monty Python.

A fun set of factoids about Douglas Adams and his books: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130311/hitchhiker-author-douglas-adams-42-facts

For technophiles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_in_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Towels

“The fictional universe of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams is a galaxy-spanning society of interacting extraterrestrial cultures. The technological level in the series is highly advanced, though often unreliable. Many technologies in the series are used to poke fun at modern life.”

Here’s to carrying a towel around with you today.


Many thanks to my daughter, Alicia Hall, for the towel origami

Towel MonkeyBengal and monkey






Author, Books, E-H, People, Uncategorized

“Elementary,” said he.

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

The above is one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes.

Sir Author Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859. Today I celebrate his birthday and one of the most famous duos of literature, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

I can’t imagine anyone not being captured by the premise and ideas of the stories of Sherlock Holmes. I suppose there are some, but none I know.

Contrary to popular belief, Conan Doyle never wrote the line “Elementary, my dear Watson.”


“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.” – Sir Author Conan Doyle. This quote is about as close as it gets to the common conception. First appearance of the popular non-Doyle phrase was in Psmith Journalist in 1915.

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Besides Sherlock Holmes and non-fiction, Doyle wrote in a wide variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction, poetry, romance, historical novels and plays.

His fantasy, The Lost World was turned into a TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1999-2002) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240278/

A complete and accessible list of all of Sir Author Conan Doyle’s literary works: http://www.online-literature.com/doyle/

Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes characters have appeared in many forms through the years: Besides the books, there are Sherlock Holmes comic books, music (“Sherlock Holmes” by Sparks), radio shows, television shows, video games and movies.

The best site for everything about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his literary works is the official website of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/

Sherlock Holmes

“Rivers of ink have flowed since 1887, when Sherlock Holmes was first introduced to the world, in an adventure entitled A Study in Scarlet.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate

“Most of the great detective’s fans know him so well, that they feel they have actually met him. It would therefore be presumptuous to try and define him here, as his many friends and admirers may each have very different views about this legendary personage.”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate

Modern Day Sherlock Holmes exist in blockbuster movies and contemporary television shows.



Have I missed any contemporary shows? My daughter’s favorite show is Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch who she says is the best portrayal of the super sleuth she’s ever seen (sorry RDJr).

One of my favorite stories about the author (see complete story at http://www.siracd.com/life/life_ski.shtml) begins with: “It seems odd to think of a time when people didn’t ski in Switzerland. However when Conan Doyle arrived in Switzerland in 1893, with his first wife, Louise, that was the situation.”

140521 -  - medium-3140521 -  - medium-4

Two favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes on Rainbow Hill are:

“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” – Sherlock Holmes (I often wish I could say this)

And this quote appeals to the engineering half of the family:

“Come, Watson, come!’ he cried, “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!” “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month so I will take this aside to mention Sir Author Conan Doyle’s father, Charles Altamont Doyle, who struggled with mental illness which included spending some of his last years at a lunatic asylum.

Hopefully we are more enlightened now in the way the mind works and can show the same compassion to those struggling with mental illness as Conan Doyle did in his biography.

“My father’s life was full of the tragedy of unfulfilled powers and of underdeveloped gifts.  He had his weaknesses, as all of us have ours, but he also had some very remarkable and outstanding virtues.” – Sir Author Conan Doyle http://www.siracd.com/life_father.shtml  http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

What are your favorite Sherlock Holmes tropes, characters, quotes and shows?

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.”

Now that is the business to be in!!


A cool BBC cult page for Sherlock Holmes fanatics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/sherlock/

The biography at http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/ is an excellent read full of quotes from Sir Author Conan Doyle.

Another excellent site devoted to the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: http://www.siracd.com/

There are so many excellent Sherlock Holmes quotes, many lines of which have made it into our everyday vernacular. Try these sites for a start:





Cryptozoology, Mythology, Rainbow Hill Meanders


Big foot and a rose Cryptozoology

This is one of the fun parts of being a fantasy writer. I’m always exploring the myths and legends around exotic creatures that may or may not exist. (Actually most parts of being a fantasy writer are fun.)

Cryptozoology is well-stated in Wikipedia as Cryptozoology is the study of rumored or mythological animals that are presumed by many to exist, but for which proof does not yet exist.”Green Dragon

It is also described in (IMHO) the best site on cryptozoology: http://www.newanimal.org/ by Jamie Hall.

Cryptozoology is the study of animals and other creatures that have not yet been accepted by science as real. In other words, it is monster-hunting. Cryptozoologists look for creatures like sea serpents and the yeti, hoping to gather enough evidence to prove that these beings exist. They also look for more commonplace animals, such as the ivory-billed woodpecker, the giant vampire bat, the inflatable hedgehog and the pygmy elephant. Creatures that are under investigation by cryptozoologists are called cryptids.”

There are many dedicated people that devote their time, and in some cases their careers, to finding these elusive animals.

Unfortunately cryptozoology is plagued by hoaxes, and pseudoscientists even though there have been cases of cryptids being discovered and handed off to the field of zoology.

Do I believe in most of these myths and monsters? Not really, but I love the ideas of them. I love their mythic symbolism and messages and I really enjoy all the “what if” moments that come from exploring them.

140510 -  - medium-11140510 -  - medium-4

I will also be the first to celebrate if any of them are found.

Cryptozoologists are not ghost hunters or devotees of the supernatural. To once again quote Jamie Hall http://www.newanimal.org/:

Cryptozoologists are a specialized branch of monster hunters. Since their ultimate goal is to discover either new species of animal or new subspecies, the science of cryptozoology is rooted in biology. The more a creature shows evidence of being supernatural, the less likely it is that cryptozoologists would be interested in it. Not many cryptozoologists investigate the strangest things like ghostly demon cats, Mothman or werewolves. Ghost hunts are left to the paranormal investigators and a few fringe cryptozoologists.”

Some of my favorites from the cryptozoological zoo that inspire me and my writing are: Dragons, Kraken (giant squids have now been found), Sasquatch and Yeti, Fairies, Living Dinosaurs, and Thunderbirds. See http://www.newanimal.org/ for a complete list of the diversity of creatures.

Another outstanding list of the creatures of cryptozoology and the facts known about the animals can be found at http://www.unmuseum.org/lostw.htm where descriptions of such animals as Nessie of Loch Ness, snakes as long as railroad cars, and their crypto alumni list reside.

The crypto alumni are large animals that have been discovered in the last century.

What are your favorite cryptids? What creatures of myth, legend, and rumor call out to you?

Favorites will move to the head of the pack for future blog posts.


May you all find your unicorns, fairies and friendly dragons.





M-P, Mythology, Washington

Mt. St. Helens

091018 -  - medium

Mount St. Helens was in the news again on May 1, 2014 with a new build-up of magma. The USGS says it is an impending “long-term uplift” coinciding with some increased seismic activity. Despite recently making the news, this is just what the volcano routinely does.

May 1 2014 Magma build-up article http://www.techtimes.com/articles/6346/20140501/mount-st-helens-builds-up-magma-no-imminent-eruption-usgs.htm

This is the anniversary of the devastating eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980, the deadliest volcanic event in the history of the United States.

Mt. St. Helens is the most active volcano in the Cascade Range Volcanic Arc which is a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is a stratovolcano (also known as a composite volcano with steep-sided mostly symmetrical cones.

Mt. St. Helens

Fifty-seven people died and the animal loss was estimated at 7000 big game animals, 12 million salmon in hatcheries and more small animals than could be estimated.

The eruption column reached 80,000 feet in less than 15 minutes, spread across the US in 3 days and it circled the globe within 15 days.

The blast itself released 24 mega tons of thermal energy. The temperature of the lateral blast was at least 660 degrees and traveling at 300 miles per hour.

The Mountain’s elevation before the blast was 9,677 feet. It is now at 8,363 feet.

CNN Mt. St. Helens Facts http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/26/us/mount-st-helens-fast-facts/index.html

The Klickitat have one of the most famous of the Native American legends of the mountain. In this story, often called the “Bridge of the Gods” the chief of all gods had two sons named Pahto who became Mt. Adams and Wy-east who became Mt. Hood. They fought over the beautiful maiden (once an old crone) named Loowit, Mt. St. Helens.

This story in all its beautiful detail with the various endings of the different tribes is told masterfully at http://oaltomlinson.blogspot.com/2008/05/klickitat-legend.html

120924 -  - medium-2

On May 18, 1980, what was once a tranquil recreational mountain teeming with wildlife and graced by the beautiful Spirit Lake exploded into the volcano that is known today. Thick ash clouds, mudslides miles long and nine hours of “vigorous” ash emission ended a 123 year slumber. The area is still recovering.

Mt. St. Helens Science and Learning Center http://www.mshslc.org/
USGS 30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/103/
Extensive History of Mt. St. Helens and surrounding area attractions http://www.mt-st-helens.com/history.html

~ lisa

V-Z, Washington

Washington Volcanoes

Mt. Rainier on the way from SEA to LAX

The famous Mt. St. Helens Volcano in Washington State will get its own blog post on May 18th, but it’s not the only volcano that resides in Washington State.

We have five major Washington State Volcanoes. Besides Mt. St. Helens, there are Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mt. Adams. These five make up one quarter of the active volcanoes in the lower 48.

For a good map of the location of each volcano in Washington State and an accompanying picture go to: http://www.washingtonstatesearch.com/Washington_maps/Major_Washington_State_Volcanoes.html

There are also other volcanic sites including Indian Heaven Volcanic Field, Goat Rocks, Signal Peak, Simcoe, and West Crater.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll only cover the big five. Since Mt. St. Helens gets its own post on the anniversary of its last eruption (May 18), that leaves four volcanoes for today.

120922 -  - medium-5

The volcano I see most frequently is Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier is part of the Seattle area landscape and is the largest mountain and volcano in Washington State. Mt. Rainier has 26 main glaciers and snowpack all year which makes it an ideal training ground for scaling Mt. Everest.

Mt. Rainier is also a national park and several of the most popular activities at the mountain
include skiing, cross-country skiing, hiking, photography and camping. May it never explode.

Native Americans called the “Big Mountain” by several names (including Takhoma, Tahoma etc) and besides “Big Mountain” most of the names mean such things as “Snowy Peak” and “The place where water begins”. Much more descriptive and appropriate than being named for explorer George Vancouver’s friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier.

Mt. Baker (Koma Kulshan) is the northern most volcano in Washington State. It is the third highest mountain in the state. Mt. Baker is considered one of the snowiest places in the world. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/baker/

Glacier Peak is considered the most remote of the Cascade volcanoes. It gets its name from over a dozen glaciers that glide down it. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/glacier_peak/
Glacier Peak is the fourth tallest peak in Washington State. Glacier Peak has long been one of the most active volcanoes in Washington

Mt. Adams, named after President Adams by Hall J. Kelley (once he finally figured out which volcano he could name), is located east of Mt. St. Helens, and, outside of Mt. Shasta in California, is the largest by volume volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/adams/
Native American local myth about Washington State http://www.crystalinks.com/volcanomyth.html

120710 -  - medium

The constant question on everyone’s mind after the Mt. St. Helen’s blast is which volcano is most likely to erupt next? http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2010/01/08/which-state-volcano-is-most-likely-to-erupt-next/

The Burke Museum located on the campus of the University of Washington is one of the best go-to-places for all things Washington State including volcanoes. http://www.burkemuseum.org/

All of Washington’s volcanoes except for Mt. Adams have erupted during the last 250 years. For a complete list of time and type of eruptions go to: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/ResearchScience/Topics/GeologicHazardsMapping/Pages/volcanoes.aspx


120511 -  - medium

Other volcano sources:
A dynamic map site: http://www.nationalatlas.gov/dynamic/dyn_vol-wa.html
USGS monitoring and hazards info site: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/
Smithsonian Institution Volcano Information Site: http://www.volcano.si.edu/
PNSN Seismic readings near volcanoes: http://www.pnsn.org/volcanoes
Totally not Washington, but very cool anyway: Volcanoes under Antarctica Ice Sheet http://www.livescience.com/41262-west-antarctica-new-volcano-discovered.html?cmpid=514645_20140504_20418954

A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Myth 2

140502 -  - medium-3
Bulgarian mythology and folklore is said to come from three incomplete sources which have merged together over the years, though each has left traces of regional differences.

The three sources of Bulgarian myth are Thracian, Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian. Records on all three oral traditions are sparse and there is little knowledge as to how the beliefs merged into what is today known as Bulgarian myth and folklore.

Thracian people http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/593556/Thracian
Slavic People http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/548156/Slav
Proto-Bulgarians http://en.cyclopaedia.net/wiki/Proto-Bulgarians

The Personification of Disease. Diseases are usually ugly, frightful and shabby female creatures sent to punish people for their sin such as Plague. Plague hits her victims with arrows, but she loves cleanliness and often spares old people, widows, and those who plea for kindness.

The Bestiary of Bulgarian folklore is also very interesting. One my favorite creatures, as anyone who reads my writing can tell, is the goblin. The Bulgarians have a forest goblin, Karakoncolos, who only comes out after dark. They cause travelers to lose their way.

The Karakoncolos have thick ugly hair that covers its entire body. In some tales Karakoncolos are ghouls who stalk people in the dark. http://www.potiori.com/Karakoncolos.html

I also love bogeymen, those creatures with which children are threatened because there are such a wide variety of them. Bulgaria has Torbalan who brings a pack to carry off naughty children. http://www.vagobond.com/bulgaria-monsters-legends/

Bagiennik are water demons who burn victims, but also have an incredible amount of healing powers. You can find Bagienniks by bubbles on the water’s surface. http://horridhistory.weebly.com/deities-spirits-and-monsters-in-east-slavic-mythology.html

Baba Marta, Grandmother March, is one of the best known stories of Bulgarian mythology. Her moods are as variable as her month, but she is the end of winter and the start of spring. http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/bulgariaandthebalkans/ss/bulgariaculture_3.htm

I include Kuma Lisa, a fox who plays tricks on the wolf, Kumcho Vulcho, because I like the name. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuma_Lisa

Penultimately, I’ll discuss the Ustrel. The Ustrel, (see The Golden Bough by Sir James Fraser) is a most unusual type of vampire and I love unusual. An ustrel is a baby born on a Saturday who dies before receiving baptism. After nine days it claws its way out of the grave and finds a herd of cattle. It then decimates the herd.

A vampire hunter must perform a fire ritual to get rid of an ustrel at a crossroads. The ustrel cannot leave the crossroads so it stays there until it is consumed by wolves. http://ilovewerewolves.com/ustrel-bulgaria-vampire/

And, finally but certainly not the last, a vampire hunter of more traditional vampires is called a djadadjii who gets rid of vampires by tempting them with their favorite food and then trapping them in a bottle. The bottle is then disposed of in a fire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djadadjii

Three favorite Bulgarian riddles (answers on May 28)

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

A world without people
Cities without houses
Forests without trees
And seas without water.

~ lisa

And today’s Bulgarian saying: A sweet word opens iron gates.