2015 – year end

YEAR ENDS are a time to ‘pause’, ‘ruminate’, ‘to be reassured’ of our life’s trajectory, or ‘consider’ taking corrective measures.  Here are a few thoughts picked from this year’s O-zone to help you along.

positive new year

* Harness the power of your thoughts.  Life does not follow the path of our desires and strategies, but that of our intentions and beliefs.  To know and accept what your desire, attracts that same reality to you.  You can transform your dreams to reality by the power of your thoughts  Such is the power of the mind.  Unpeel that wrapping.

* Is chaos your Mantra to success ?  Sometimes it is the untried path that lead to success and fulfilment.  How does one discipline the wilderness that is your very life force ?  Chaos may be your style, and indiscipline your mantra to success.  Stir things up a bit, creating a momentary, controlled squall, rather than staying frozen in familiar routines.
* What is your differentiator ?  Are you one of a crowd or do you stand apart ?  What distinguishes you from others and gives you that cutting edge ?  All of us are unique, but we pour ourselves into readily-available casts.  It is important to step out of boxes and explore possibilities.
* ‘TAWAZUN’, the art of balance.  Everything exists because its opposite exists too.  Take one away, and the other loses value.  The art is in balancing opposing elements and drawing from them to create a dynamic, throbbing whole.  You are good not because you have no bad within you, but because you have resisted it and struck a balance.

positive quotes new year

* Get rid of your Black Holes.  Are you aware of people and activities that waste your time and sap energy ?  Identify these Black Holes and make life meaningful.  Get rid of enervators such as emotional turmoil and agitation, or mindless engagement with people whose mental energies and preoccupations don’t match yours.

* Stop stripping off bits of yourself to please others, or to keep a relationship going.  A yearning for dignity lies at the root of our desires and aspirations.

Maremma sheepdog

MAREMMA SHEEPDOG (in Italian : CANE de PASTORE MAREMMANO – ABRUZZESE), also nicknamed MAREMMA, is a breed of livestock guardian dogs indigenous to Central Italy, particularly to ABRUZZO and the MAREMMA region of Tuscany and Lazio.
Maremma sheepdogThe literal English of the breed derives from that of the MAREMMA and ABRUZZO region.  The English name of the breed derives from that of the MAREMMA marshlands, where, until recently, shepherds, dogs and 100s of 1000s of sheep wintered, and where the breed is today abundant although sheep-farming has decreased substantially.  The breed is widely employed in ABRUZZO, where sheep-herding remains vital to the rural economy and the wolf remains an active predator.  Similar breeds include the PYRENEAN Mountain Dog, the KUVASZ of Hungary, the TATRA of Poland, the CUVAC of Slovakia and the SARPLANINAC (although not white), with all of which it may share a common ancestor, and the AKBASH Dog of Turkey.
The MAREMMA sheepdog has a solid muscular build, a thick white coat, a large head and a black nose.  According to the breed standard, males should weigh 35 to 45kg and stand 26 to 29inches at the shoulders, while females weigh 30 to 40kg.  The coat is long and thick, it is rough to the touch, and forms a thick collar around the neck.  It should be solid white, some minor yellowing may be tolerated.

Maremma sheepdog

Descriptions of white sheep defence dogs are found in ancient Roman literature in works such as those of Columella, Varro an Palladius.  Similar dogs are depicted in numerous sculptures and paintings from Roman times to the present.  Among the earliest, is the series of large statues (2 in Rome, 1 in Florence, 1, the DUNCOMBE DOG —– in England) copied from a Hellenistic Bronze from PERGAMON.

The first registration of the MAREMMA in the LIBRO del ORIGINI Italiano of the Kennel Club Italiano, as it was then called, was of four dogs in 1898.  The traditional use of the MAREMMA is as a guardian for the protection of sheep flocks against wolves.  The dogs work in groups ——- 3 to 4 dogs are an adequate defence against wolves.  Their function is mostly “dissuasion”, actual physical combat, with the predator, being comparatively rare.  Nevertheless, working dogs may be fitted with a ROCCALE ( or VRECCALE), a “spiked iron collar” which protects the neck in combat.  The ears of working dogs are normally “cropped”.
MAREMMA, used as livestock guardian dogs, are introduced to sheep flocks as puppies, so they bond to the sheep ( puppies as young as 7 – 8weeks old).  Although it is easiest to bond MAREMMA to sheep and goats, cattle ranchers have found that the dogs bond with cows too, and so they are used to protect range cattle.  Some ranchers have found success training MAREMMA to protect chickens from predation from both ground threats such as coyotes, stray dogs and foxes, as well as aerial threats such as raptors (hawks, eagles and owls)
In WARRNABOOL, Australia, the world’s first trial utilized a MAREMMA to guard the dwindling “little penguins” also called “fairy penguins” (penguins standing at 30 – 40cm tall).

Bells across the snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain !
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow”.
O Christmas, merry Christmas,
 ‘Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song !
Christmas bellsIf we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow”.
O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be,
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee.
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
Wit holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still,
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow”.
———- Frances Ridley Havergal.   



The KORNATI Archipelago of Croatia, also known as the STOMORSKI Islands, is located in the northern part of DALMATIA, south from ZADAR, and west from SIBENIK, in the SIBENIK – KNIN county.  With 35km length and 140 islands —– some large, some small —– in a sea area of about 320sq.km, the KORNATI are the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea.  The Archipelago is the plural form of the name of the largest island called KORNAT.


There are no permanent settlements in KORNATI.  Simple houses in well-protected coves such as VRULJE, KRAVJACICA, LAVSA and others are used by mainland landowners as temporary shelters.  Most of the landowners are from the island of MURTER & DUGI OTOK.  Geographically, the KORNATI islands can be divided into main groups : the GORNJI KORNATI or UPPER KORNATI, closer to the mainland, and the DONJI KORNATI or LOWER KORNATI, which are mostly facing the open sea in the southwest.  The islands known as GORNJI KORNATI include the northernmost island of SIT and the surrounding islets, divided by a channel from ZUT and its surrounding islets to the south.  ZUT is the largest and most indented of these islands.


In 1980, the 89 northernmost of the 140-odd islands, islets and reefs of the KORNATI Archipelago were declared a National Park (NACIONALNI PARK KORNATI), protecting the islands and their marine surroundings.  The area covered by the National Park mostly coincides with the DONJI KRONATI, which includes the island of KORNAT and the surrounding islets, separated with a channel from the island of PISKERA and the surrounding islets.

The National Park includes 109 islands, of which 76 are less than 1hectare in size of the total land surface area of KORNATI (62 sq.kms), 85% is stony and only 5% has been cultivated.
The most important places on the KORNATI islands are : the shallow channel MALA PROVERSA, the oval-shape TALJURIC island, SPINUTA bay, STIVINA bay, the 4th largest island LEVRNAKA, the 2nd largest KRAST rock area TARAC SVRSATA VELA island, MANA island, PISKERA island, PANITULA VELA island, the picturesque LAVSA bay, the resort island RAVNI ZAKAN, SMOKVICA VELA island, the OPAT Peninsula, SAMOGRAD island, the PURARA Reserve for marine life, VRGADA & GANGAROL islands.

Kornati park

Most of the terrain in the KORNATI islands is KARST- limestone which, in the distant geological past, arose from sediment from the sea.  In the stone on the islands, there are numerous fossils of crustaceans and fish.  In the area, there are examples of all typical forms of KARST : bizarre shapes formed by the atmosphere, unexplored caves, areas of flat rock and, above all, cliffs.  KARST rock is porous, rapidly draining and dry, and so therefore are the KORNATI islands.  Numerous cisterns supply water for people and animals.

Kornati islands

Human presence on the KORNATI islands appear to extend back to the Neolithic Age.  The presence of wealthy Romans is attested by the mosaic floors of Roman Villas and the KORNATI island has a small TORETA (tower), that was probably built in the 6th century AD.  The island of PISKERA was also inhabited during the Middle Ages and served as a storage point for fish.  Archaeological sites in STRAZISCE & TARAC and on LEVRNAKA & LAVSA provide evidence that, during the Roman Era, life on KORNATI was very active.  There are many buildings and it is known that there were also stone quarries.

Deforestation and subsequent erosion and overgrazing by sheep and goats, for whose benefit the scrub was periodically burnt, impoverished the fauna and depopulated the islands, which were purchased by citizens of MURTER during the late 19th century.

Kornati islands panorama

Apart from seagulls, which are the most numerous animals, there are some lizards and ring-snakes, and 69 varieties of butterfly, some amphibians and rodents.  As regards marine life, the KORNATI islands are typical of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, but, due to the underwater relief, streams and special characteristics of the sea in this labyrinth, there are also some peculiarities : algae, coral and sponges.  At one time, the sea was the richest, in the Adriatic, for sponge hunters.  The rare mollusc PINNA NOBILIS, lives in the KORNATI and is protected by law.

Not only the land, but also the sea, is within the protection of the National Park.  Fishing is limited in order to allow the regeneration of fish shoals that had been severely over-fished.

Kornati national park_

Vegetation on the islands is very sparse.  There have been 200 known varieties of Mediterranean plants, but they have degenerated.  The most common plant is a tough variety of grass, but there are many scented and medicinal herbs : sage, feather grass and XERANTHEMUM, and these provide the best forage for bees.  Olive trees account for about 80% of the land under cultivation, followed by vineyards, figs, orchards and vegetable gardens.  It is thought that the KORNATI islands were once covered with forests of Mediterranean Holm oaks, QUERCUS ILEX, but as open fires demanded a great deal of wood, the forests were slowly destroyed.

Silent night

The true celebration of CHRISTMAS is an invitation to “inner silence”, where we learn to live with opposites.
A Jewish Rabbi, teaching the Talmud to a group of students, asked them what they saw on the page.  All said that they saw the “words ” on it.  None of them had noticed the “white spaces that separated the words”.  Were it not for these spaces, the words would become unintelligible.  What is more, he pointed out, these spaces formed the background and the context I which what was written could be understood.
Christmas paintingGod has been described as a sphere whose circumference is everywhere, but whose centre is nowhere.  We are enfolded by the Spirit and it is the context in which we live our daily lives.  Most of the time, however, our activities are so closely juxtaposed, that like words not separated by spaces in between them, they seem meaningless.  Our proximity to one another as we jostle for space in public transport systems only ends up as our being a juxtaposition of solitudes.
Social networking affords us the opportunity not only to be more connected to others, but more disconnected from the core of our being.  For those who still, somehow, manage to make the time, the spiritual becomes an ‘add-on’ that often fails to load since the basic operating system is out of sync and out of date.
The “spiritual” is embedded in our collective subconscious.  The Christmas story is about our being awakened to its presence, like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi, who are characterised by their state of wakefulness.
Individuals have always been conscious of the presence of the Divine.  The history of religions reveals that there has been a progressive deepening in the understanding of God’s presence.  It has evolved from God’s presence in nature, controlling its various elements and reflecting his glory in creation to a localised presence in temples of worship.  The celebration of Christmas draws our attention to the fact that God is not only with us but also within us.  We do not have to ‘go into his presence’.  The outward journey to places of worship and pilgrimages to holy place are meant to direct us to the journey inwards where we experience his real presence with us.  It becomes the source, meaning and purpose of everything we say, everything we do.  God is the context in which we live our lives.  The written word begins its existence only when it is placed on a page.  It owes its being to the space that surrounds it.
Creation is the revelation of God’s silence —— the space between the words ——- in which his presence is felt and experienced.  The poet Kabir laughed when he was told that the fish in the ocean were thirsty.  We often thirst for God’s presence, unaware that we are surrounded by it.
Contrary to what we might expect, the true celebration of Christmas is an invitation  to inner silence.  It is a silence in which we recognise our connectedness by being enfolded within it.  The journey into the world of silence is a journey that takes us back from the world of dissipation into wholeness.
By its very nature silence cannot be exploited.  The power of silence is its ability to mediate the irreconcilable.  In the realm of silence, irreconcilable differences can co-exist without tension, because silence is non-judgemental, and differences travel toward one another with no need to swallow or disintegrate or demolish each other.  Silence frees us from the expectation that we can understand and resolve the myriad irreconcilable elements of existence.  Journeying into the ‘womb of silence” in meditation, we discover the capacity for co-existence : we learn to live with opposites.
May the silence of that first Christmas night be the harbinger of peace on earth to all people of goodwill.
————– CHRISTOPHER MENDONCA (Speaking Tree)



ENROSADIRA ( ALPENGLOW) is the phenomenon in which most of the peaks of the DOLOMITES take on a reddish colour, which gradually changes to violet, especially at dawn and dusk.

This phenomenon is due to the composition of the rocky walls ( a mixture of carbonate and magnesium).  It is especially seen in the summer evenings, when the air is very clear and the sun shining drops to the west.
The phenomenon ENROSADIRA can manifest itself significantly different throughout the year and can even vary from one day to the other.  These variations in colours and durability ENROSADIRA, are due to the different positions of the sun during the year and the conditions of the atmosphere.  The phenomenon occurs on the DOLOMITES, especially at dawn it appears on the crags facing east, while at sunset is on the walls facing west, and the colours are so magical.  This phenomenon also occurs on the GRAN SASSO of Italy.  The term ALPENGLOW, which literally means “turning pink”, comes from the word LADIN ROSADURA or ENROSADORA.


There is a legend of King Laurin, a dwarf king, who had the ROSENGARTEN (in German : ROSENGARTENGRUPPE) a beautiful rose garden, (the meaning of the German word is precisely “the rose garden”), it offers an alternative explanation to the phenomenon and suggestive.

One day, the Prince of the LATIMER, intrigued by the sight of roses, departed into the kingdom of King Laurin.  There he saw the King’s daughter (LADINA), fell in love with her and kidnapped her to make her his bride.  King Laurin desperately threw a curse on his rose garden, guilty of having betrayed the position of his kingdom : neither day nor night, no human eye could most admire.  But, King Laurin forgot sunset when, even today, the garden and its colours become visible and appreciated.



ANAZARBUS was an ancient CILICIAN city, situated in ANATOLIA, in modern Turkey ( in Turkish : ANAVARZA), about 15km west of the mainstream of the present CEYHAN River (or classical PYRAMUS River) and near its tributary the SEMPAS SU.

A lofty isolated ridge formed its Acropolis.  Though some of the masonry in the ruins is certainly pre-Roman, its identification with CYINDA, famous as a treasure city in the wars of EUMENES of CARDIA, cannot be accepted in the face of STRABO’S express location of CYINDA in Western CILICIA.
It was founded by Assyrians.  Under the early Roman Empire, the place was known as CAESAREA, and was the metropolis of CILICIA SECUNDA.  It was the home of the poet OPPIAN.  Rebuilt by Emperor Justin -1, after an earthquake in the 6th century, it became JUSTINOPOLIS (525), but the old native name persisted, and when THOROS -1, King of Lesser Armenia, made it his capital early in the 12th century, it was known as ANAZARVA.

Anazarbus scenery

Its great natural strength and situation, not far from the mouth of SIS PASS and near the great road which debouched from the CILICIAN GATES, made ANAZARBUS play a considerable part in the struggles between the Byzantine Empire and the early Muslim invaders.  The MAMLUK Empire of Egypt destroyed the city in 1374.

The present wall of the lower city is of a late construction.  It encloses a mass of ruins conspicuous in which are a fine TRIUMPHAL ARCH, the Colonnades of two streets and a gymnasium.  A stadium and a theatre lie outside the walls to the south.  The remains of the Acropolis fortifications are very interesting, including the roads and ditches hewn in the rock, and there are the ruins of two churches and a gatehouse.  There are no notable structures in the upper town.  For picturesqueness the site is not equalled in CILICIA, and it is worthwhile to trace the three fine aqueducts to their sources.  A NECROPOLIS, on the escarpment to the south of the walls, can also be seen complete with signs of illegal modern excavations.


A visit in December 2002, showed that the three aqueducts have been nearly completely destroyed.  Only small isolated sections are left standing with the largest portion lying in a pile of rubble that stretches the length of where the aqueducts once stood.  A powerful earthquake that struck the area in 1945 is thought to be responsible for the destruction.

A modest Turkish farming village (DILEKKAYA) lies to the southwest of the ancient city.  A small outdoor museum with some of the artefacts collected in the area can be viewed for a small fee.  Also nearby are some beautiful mosaics discovered in a farmer’s field.
ANAZARBUS / ANAVARZA was one of a chain of Armenian fortifications stretching through CILICIA.  SIS CASTLE lies to the north, while TUMLU KALE (TUMLU CASTLE) lies to the southwest and AMOUDA CASTLE lies to the southeast.