Out & About—Bankhead Springs, drive-through ghost town

Russel Ray Photos

Out & About

After my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965, I had daily access to a television and got addicted to Lucille Ball. I watched anything and everything in which she made an appearance, beginning with “I Love Lucy.”

In 1957, “I Love Lucy” morphed into Season 1 of “The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show.” The second episode, “The Celebrity Next Door,” originally broadcast on December 3, 1957, left an impression with an impressionable teenager, not because of anything specific about the show but because of one of the guest stars, Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968), the celebrity. The name was so unusual that it stuck with me for many years….

….even unto the present.

Earlier this year when I was out touring Old Highway 80, I came upon Bankhead Springs. Bankhead. Couldn’t be any connection.

“Au contraire, bison breath,” someone more famous than me used to say.

Bankhead Springs was named for John Hollis Bankhead…

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The continuation of politics by other means.

Tallis Steelyard


Politics, as practiced in Uttermost Partann, is something of an extreme sport. It is possible for practitioners to die in their own beds, but normally this is the result of an acute digestive upset. Death by misadventure is aspirational, dying of old age almost unknown.

Still there are rules, or at least firm guidelines. The killing of family members by poison, or at the blade of an expensively hired assassin is considered acceptable. Having them torn apart by wild horses is a breach of good manners.

Disposing of female relatives is an area where a degree of awkwardness can creep in. There are any number of religious institutions which have grown up purely to provide housing for ladies of uncertain political temperament. They can be housed in secure accommodation in conditions that vary from genteel good taste to unspeakable squalor. If the lady in question has managed to transgress against…

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San Diego

The U.S.S. Bennington—Part 1 After reading about the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove and discovering that it was a memorial to the USS Bennington, I went to Wikipedia to search for USS Bennington. There I discovered that another memorial to the 66 dead Bennington sailors was at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. It’s the tallest thing for […] … Continue reading San Diego

San Diego

One of the best things about this Internet-connected world is that I can subscribe to various sources to let me know what’s happening, what happened, and what’s going to happen. Recently I was informed by our weekly newsmagazine, the San Diego Reader, that the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove got a new entry sign. I had … Continue reading San Diego

Writer in Residence – William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

This week Paul Andruss shares an exclusive post written for Smorgasbord. I am guilty of not looking beneath some of the books and poems that I have read. William Blake was required reading at school but I now realise how sanitised those lessons were. We never got to hear the cool bits.. or the events and writings that were frowned upon. And that lack of telling the story of the men and women behind the classics of the day meant that many of us did not revisit them in adulthood. As it was with Blake and for me… However, in his usual well researched and well crafted article, Paul Andruss does what my teacher was not permitted to do and ignited my imagination and desire to know more.

Ancient of Days (Frontispiece from Europe a prophecy- Blake)

William Blake 1757 –1827 is best remembered for lines from a handful of poems.


And did those feet…

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Unexpected Shaman (2) – two journeys to Chichen Itza

The Silent Eye

Jerome, my newly-found Mayan Shaman friend, was born in Belize, and had travelled before settling, for the present, in Yucatan, Mexico.

I had been surprised at how vividly alive the Mayan culture was in this part of Central America. It was not just a done-for-tourists thing, it was deeply real; an identity with a gentle, spiritual and creative race, even down to the carefully-preserved ancient Mayan language that an increasing number of the region’s people speak.

Initially, I had presumed that what was Mayan had been contained in what is now Mexico; but its peaceful ’empire’ had stretched far along the narrow strip of land that links the Americas.

“Everyone was poor in Belize,” he said. There was no regret in his words, it was simply how things were.

“How things are…” His eyes flashed the deeper meaning up at me as we sat, otherwise alone, in the quiet of…

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My top soup recipes

Cooking without Limits

I love soup. Clear or thick, vegetable or with meat, hot or cold, sweet or sour, soup could be one of the best dish at the table. We serve the soup after appetizers. I made a list with my favorite soups.

  1. Lobster bisque – Bisque is a French soup very smooth, creamy and highly seasoned, classically based on a strained broth of crustaceans.

lobster soup

  1. Pumpkin soup with turmeric – One of the best fall soups in the world you really have to try.

pumpkin soup

  1. Sweet hot and spicy soup – You can make a great sweet soup with sweet potato. Add chili and you have a treat.


  1. Cold cream red lentils soup with turmeric – Go with a cold refreshing soup in the summer.

red lentils soup

  1. Broccoli and cheese soup – If you don’t like eating broccoli, this soup will change your mind.

broccoli soup

What is your soup top? Can’t wait for your list. Enjoy!

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