Thursday, August 21, 2014

Old Books New News

Look what was spotted as a featured book at the Chapel Hill Library!

A writer loves to see her books on the shelf in a library.

Better yet checked out and in the hands of kids.

And then this note from a teacher.  A writer
also likes to know her works
are bing used creatively
and meaningfully!

Circles of Hope


You might recall that I wrote to you 
last March to let you know 
I was using your book Circles of Hope 
in a UU regional workshop 
on storytelling and social justice.  
By the way, 
the story worked great!

This summer I have started
 a new project
called that reviews
stories that are particularly
well-suited for multigenerational worship.
I have just published
a review of Circles of Hope.
The link is:
I thought you might like to see it. 
I am just starting to get
the word out about the website.
 I think it will be a very
valuable resource for multigenerational
worship leaders who are always
looking for that next great story.
If you would be willing to mention in you blog,
I would be most appreciative. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Casa do Burro: Holiday off the grid in Portugal Part 2

 Casa do Burro, named after this guy,  another organic farm get- away is just one kilometer up the mountain from Aqua Ventura(see previous post).
 This welcoming farm owned by a German couple with two small children is just as magical as Aqua Ventura.
Also close to the sea and villages with cafes, Sagres and Lagos, hiking and adventure nearby this unusual get away has it's own kind of whimsy.

The mainstay of the organic farm and guest home is goat cheese made on the property and sold at local markets.

 Besides the goats there are rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs, chickens, a horse and of course the burrow to add to the eclectic ambiance.


On Saturday evenings you might find a pick up soccer(football) game, Wwoofers( more to come in next post), guests, neighbors and anyone else who might be around gather in this unique setting.  You will find yourself in a horse corral playing with young and old from around the world.  The dirtier you get the more fun you had.

 If you believe that  the people you meet are the best part of travel then this opportunity to learn from, play with and enjoy an international community is something to be experienced.

Just witnessing the interest, the spirit and actual practical work on these organic farms off the grid gives one hope for the future of the environment and our children.

See more at:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Holiday off the Grid in Portugal(the Algarve)

Any time the directions to a place reads something like, "as  you enter the village of Pedralva turn left at the house with red shutters, then cross a small bridge, go about a kilometer and you will see a house on the hill on the right.  After that there is nothing,  you have gone too far."…I know I want to go there.

Johnny and Vio of Aqua-Ventura have realized their dream; an organic adventure tourist farm now located in the forest area of the Algarve region of Portugal. Still a work in progress it is a magical place built out of passion, creativity, a love of nature and home grown produce, shear hard labor and an ounce or two of perseverance, grit, ingenuity and faith that it could happen.  Friends and family and Wwoofers( help make it happen too.   Pure Magic!

The main building overlooks the bamboo forest, fruit trees and the suspension bridge that leads over a stream to the organic garden, chicken coop and the well.  It houses the kitchen bright with light and flowers and bowls of fruit where Vio prepares vegetarian and meat dishes that are part of the joy of this farm holiday.  

The deck is covered with bamboo stalks for shade.  If it rains in the evening you will be treated to sparkling water droplets clinging to the stalks in the the morning, a glistening natural decor. 


  There is also a dining room full of whimsy and color as is the living  space perfect for reading or writing or dreaming.  It should be no surprise that there is often music and singing in this gracious home full of life where guests are treated as family.  

But no fear.   If you want to curl up in solitude in the main house spaces or your  own cottage space, walk the grounds or take off for a longer hike up to the lake or across the hills to the beach, no one will disturb you.  This is a great writer's retreat with much to inspire.

Each cottage is colorful and unique.

No surprise to know there is an outdoor oven perfect for pizza and a fire pit for paella and community.  The family dogs enjoy a cookout here too.

There is a well(great for cooling beer when necessary).  Some living quarters include private bathrooms with plumbing and others offer an outdoor shower(lovely to bath under the stars) and outhouses.  Living off the gird means solar electricity for light, refrigeration and other amenities.   And it works!  The best of both worlds with a commitment to saving the environment.

The environs close by provide pristine beaches and hikes for all ability levels.  The towns of Sagres and Lagos are near by.  Lovely sparkling white villages tucked away all along the beaches, trails, paths and back country roads provide natural entertainment and /or a meal of wine and seafood.   Here can be found cafes, restaurants and boutiques where the Euro is strong but the prices are reasonable.

A kilometer walk to the village of Pedralva will offer a pizzeria and a restaurant/ bar where the owners are happy to chat or leave you to use the free Internet.

A short hike to a near by lake is an easy way to an afternoon or early morning swim.  Johnny has dreams of a house boat for more accommodations along with other exciting ways to add charm and the exotic to this get- away spot.

Aqua-Ventura still offers kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and surfing. Some of the best in the world.

 A night on the beach?  You got. it!

Johnny and Vio and family will help coordinate the holiday you are looking for if it is adventure and the opportunity to stretch your ability or something quieter.  Try both.

Check it out on