Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category


Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

annecyfloristOf the many eye-catching attractions in Annecy, France,  the shop fronts and shop windows in the old part of town are quite beautiful and always interesting.  Annecy has medieval construction (if you like, you can refer to my previous posts Annecy.1, Annecy.2, and Annecy.3), and is built of  thick grey stone walls with cobbles everywhere.

This flower shop was brimming over with fresh spring blooms for Easter time last year.  The shop opens into a very small courtyard chock full of blooms and attractive displays, which spoke to me of a very careful, artisan-like approach by the owner of the shop.  It was extremely welcoming and drew me in.

I couldn’t resist taking a few close-ups of a few colorful blooms.

This red one – can you guess what flower it is?  Yes, a tulip with hints of yellow inside.

There were buckets and pots everywhere full of daffodils.

And then there were some other colorful daisy-like blooms:


yellowflowerIn a sea of grey stone, these flowers brightened a small corner of this beautiful old town.


To Albuquerque and Back Again

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

adobewall1I’m back from my trip to Albuquerque,  New Mexico.

It was so good to see my family and to be part of what’s going on with my sister and her upcoming surgery to remove the desmoplastic ameloblastoma in her upper jaw.

There was a lot to do while I was there,  and I ended up creating a flyer for the all-day benefit concert for Carrie that will take place on May 30.

A huge garage sale, scheduled for next weekend,  is also being planned – again, the proceeds to help defray the huge medical costs involved with her procedures.  There are also constant reminders about how difficult the aftermath of this surgery will be:  visits to the one and only doctor in New Mexico who makes prosthetic palates (called “obturators”), appointments to speech therapists (surprising how much a palate and a jaw contribute to clear speech and how unclear it becomes without ’em!), etc.  Thanks to the help of her many dear friends, and one in particular who is spearheading the concert and providing immense support, spirits are high and Carrie is ready.

But there were fun moments too.  We all went to a local rest home where the Highland Harmonizers sang to the residents with great gusto and fun.  My mother is singing here (she wears the largest flowery Easter hat).


Speaking of my mother, she celebrated her 80th birthday – a week later,  for my benefit,  since I couldn’t be there for her real birthdate.

My sister cooked a fantastic meal and we had a great time with about a dozen friends who came to be part of the fun.

I had fun photographing this birthday balloon just as the sun set and the last rays hit the room.  That light in the balloon is the sun just as it went down.  You can see the reflected light on the balloon below the orange one, sort of like a sliver moon.


It was also fun to see a member of the newest generation arrive on the scene.

One of  Carrie’s friends  was babysitting her very first grandchild, and she brought the baby over to show us.

Carrie’s little Maltese, named Maizy, found the baby irresistible too.  This was the first time Maizy had ever encountered an infant, and she was very curious – and extremely gentle, sniffing and babylicking the baby’s face in greeting.

And after all this activity, it’s nice to know that there is time to relax and recover (here she is under my covers, sticking her head out and very sleepy).  That is what Maizy does best, and she’s an inspiration to take time out and nurture one’s self, don’t you think?


Curtains and Windows

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

You may find it odd that I write about curtains and windows. But I guess it’s my quirky art eye that finds attraction in such mundane things.

For instance, this first curtain I show here is one that caught my attention. I was sitting near it in the Vesancy restaurant in France where they serve hearty lunch fare for the workers and residents of the area.

I just loved the bright light shining through the pretty orange curtain. It provided such cheer in an already cheerful, humming place: people chatting nonstop in French, plates clattering, utensils banging, wine being sipped, laughter and good-natured banter.

The curtain on the right, on the other hand, was found in a relatively quiet tea room in the Gex patisserie where scrumptious chocolates and freshly-baked bread were offered for the customer. I like the delicate design and sheerness of the fabric with the light shining through.

Moving on to Annecy, France, the day was quite cold in March and the early spring sun was still weak. But how lovely it was to see it streaming in through these pretty windows.

This was a creperie that also served hot drinks and simple lunch fare. Looking through the window one can see the Bastion in the canal that flows into Lac Annecy.

The mood inside was mellow, low murmuring voices, appreciative thanks for delicious snacks to fuel the travelers. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy.

But there are windows. And then there are windows! This window needs no explaining. Chocolate has its own universal language…

A Statue Lost and Found

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

While I’m on the subject of Nurnberg, Germany, here is another photo to show you.

During World War II, my stepfather was an MP (Military Police) and was stationed in Nurnberg during the trials held there after the war. He, like other military fellows, would do some sight-seeing during time off.

The Allies destroyed about 90% of the old part of Nurnberg during bombing raids in 1945 because this city was considered to be so historically important to the Nazis. It defies belief – first, to see the extent of the devastation of the deeply loved buildings and cathedrals, and secondly to see how they were lovingly reconstructed out of such rubble.

My stepfather was also present when the concentration camp at Dachau was liberated. He told us that that experience defied belief too, but I need say no more on that subject.

On my first visit to Nurnberg, I brought with me the image above. I wanted to see if the statue still existed. My friends were unfamiliar with it, so we would show it to some oldtimers in the old city. Finally, a little gnome of an elderly gentleman recognized it and explained where it was – and not far away from the center of town.

The statue represents Kaiser Wilhelm I and it stands directly across from a church called Saint Igidien. I had no idea of the size of the statue from the old image, as the bombed-out buildings around it made it hard to find a reference point for size.

I was glad to have found the statue, bringing to a close a circle begun by my stepfather. But there was no real joy in it. The bronze statue was riddled with holes where mortar hit it during the bombing. That is how it is in Nurnberg: such beauty juxtaposed with the scars to remind one of the past and its terrible human costs.

The Amazing Albrecht Durer – Part 1

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

As a teenager, I was greatly inspired by Albrecht Durer’s art, especially his handling of very small creatures and natural objects. For his time, he seems to have been a forerunner of still lifes and nature studies.

According to Wikipedia: His watercolors mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, while his ambitious woodcuts revolutionized the potential of that medium. Durer’s introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, have secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical treatise which involve principles of mathematics, perspective, and ideal proportions.

“His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Renaissance in Northern Europe ever since.”

The painting above is called “Blaurackenflugel” – or, Wing of a Blue Roller. The detail and coloring are marvelous. This piece was painted in 1512.

This sketch of “Papagei,” or Parrot, was sketched circa 1500 and was used in a drawing of “Adam und Eva.” Apparently, a close friend of Durer kept parrots, which made Durer’s rendering so accurate. (Those parrots would have had to endure a lot of cold in the winters of Germany!)

The “Das grosse Rasenstuck” – or Large Piece of Turf – is a masterpiece of realism.

I had the opportunity to visit Durer’s house and studio in his home town of Nurnberg some years ago. I’ll include some photos from that visit in my next post.

Chinese New Year, In Style

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Every year our town celebrates the Chinese New Year in order to commemorate (in the words of our Chamber of Commerce) “the contribution that thousands of Chinese workers made” in the Gold Rush era. That contribution, of course, was all the horrifically hard, back-breaking work the Chinese did to build railroads and do manual labor, and to endure prejudice and discrimination. Sigh…

But we were certainly all joined together in anticipation of loads of fun this morning. A Parade! I know, the Chinese new year was in January, but better late than never to celebrate.

We had about 45 minutes of different groups and entertainment walking past us onlookers. There was some live singing – some in English, some in Chinese. It was lovely.

Of course, everybody who was not Chinese also had to get into the act, human or otherwise.

Cassandra was decked out in red and so she fit into the bright and colorful theme of the day. Here she is waiting her cue for the line-up.

And what, I ask, would be more fitting than bagpipes in a Chinese parade? Three cheers, Southern Oregon Scottish Bagpipe Band!

Nurnberg Treasures

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I mentioned in a previous blog that some of my Christmas ornaments came from Nurnberg, Germany. These tiny hand carved animals were actually hard to find. I searched all over the old town to find them and was quite happy when I did.

Even though they are carved in a blocky style, they capture the essence of the animal portrayed.

Hope you enjoy them!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Well, I’m starting to feel human again! After running through all the upper respiratory itis’s I can think of – laryngitis, tonsilitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis – I think it’s time to stop.

Meanwhile, the Christmas season moves ahead, and I managed to put up my tiny tree, loaded with my favorite treasures I’ve found through the last several decades.

Some of those treasures are handmade by local artisans – local, that is, to a couple of cities in Bavaria: Nurnberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Rothenburg is a fairy-tale medieval city, preserved, then bombed during WWII, then restored again. It is well-known around the world and very much loved for its charm and its year-round Christmas shops.

The walled town is remarkable and really allows the imagination to recreate what it may have been like in its heydey.

Although I liked wandering the cobbled streets and ogling the too-expensive items, I preferred exploring the countryside in the Tauber Valley, below the city.

The last time I visited Rothenburg was in mid-October. The leaves were changing fast, the vineyards golden in the late afternoon sunlight. It was beautiful.

Here are a couple ornaments representative of what you’d find there:

Saturday Morning Rehearsal at the Britt

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The Britt Music Festival is over now, but I did finish my painting inspired by a couple of visits to the orchestra’s rehearsals during the season.

I spent many happy hours listening, as I sat on the lawn of the Britt grounds, soaking in the beautiful, rich sounds of the instruments, admiring the wonderful focus and cohesion of the musicians.

Odds and Ends

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

On my walks and various travels, I tend to notice odd things or interesting patterns — things that intrigue me, make me appreciate nature, or tickle my funny bone. These are a few images I recently came across.

I thought this was a very sweet combination. It is new life in the form of a grass stalk poking up among all that feeds it: fox hair, acorn, pine cone, and oak leaves.

Someone wanted to leave his or her mark on the world (or at least on a tree). I wonder if “F” stands for the carver or the loved one to be remembered? And I wonder if the madrone tree felt pain as this perfect initial was carved into its living tissue? One thing for sure, the madrone tree may have the last word. It’s starting to heal over the carving.

Then there are sometimes very odd things one comes across.

When I was walking through a mall in Annecy, France this spring, there seemed to be some sort of “spring fashion” display.

I loved the colors, but what about this fashion? So far, I have not seen anyone wear such an outfit! (Thank goodness…)