Friday, September 26, 2014

Mountains of Art

Seven years ago I was lucky enough to attend the Bead Retreat created by Carol Wilcox Wells, an extremely talented bead weaving artist. Each year since then I’ve journeyed to
YMCA grounds, lodge, and beading projects
North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway area to learn new beading techniques and to be inspired by the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the artistic people in our group.  We stay at what I originally thought was an unlikely spot, the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly near Black Mountain. This is a lovely, peaceful expanse in tall trees, and near a trickling stream; it is home to bears, turkeys, and other assorted wildlife. From the front porch rockers you can see the mountains and the clear blue skies. It’s no wonder that we can’t wait to be back together each year. The location is also appealing because we can easily go into town for retail therapy and outstanding food.

Two of my favorite towns near the Blue Ridge Parkway are Black Mountain and Asheville. These artists’ colonies are alive with weavers, painters, jewelers, glass makers and other

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lingering in Lyon

Yarn Vender
Since it looked like I could do three museums in a day if I worked at it, I decided to get another Lyon three- day card and took off for the silk district ~ Croix Rousse. The subways are a dream; easy to get on and off and easy to navigate. What is not so apparent is how to find ‘tourist attractions’ in the Croix Rousse area. I did wander through a few street venders selling kitchen goods, underwear, casual clothes, yarn and a hundred other items before I hooked up with a Near-Normal lady from from Australia. Val and I had a lovely time getting lost, found and lost again. We finally got to the Maison des Canuts, a working silk jacquard business. The young lady at the desk was very kind and patient. She showed us how to find the famous ‘Painted Wall’ (Le Mur des Canuts) and let us know that we could go see it and come back in plenty of time to make the jacquard weaving tour. The tour is given in French and in English and is all about this tightly woven silk fabric that only the very wealthy can afford (White House, Kremlin, kings and queens, movie stars, etc.). The looms are huge and it

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lyon and Marionettes and Puppets, Oh My!

Basilique Notre Dame
Traveling by yourself is at once both easier and more difficult. Map reading, capturing moments on ‘film’, staving off the ubiquitous beggars, and having a meal are all easier if you’re with someone. But as one Near-Normal traveler said to me, ‘Don't you love the freedom of roaming the streets by yourself, free to let your attention be drawn in any direction, by any item, noise or aroma? To pass or linger at any window, not having to wait or hurry for your companions, for your companions are your eyes, nose, ears and curiosity.’ Yes, I do; and I had lots of free time in Lyon while the other Near-Normal travelers were busy with meetings. And Lyon is a wonderful town to explore!

No real ‘Lyonnaisians’ are on the streets before 9:00 AM on a Saturday, but the Visitor Center is open early and it should be
Louis XIV
your first stop. Located on the Place Bellacour, it commands a great view of the one landmark you can see from virtually all of Lyon, the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. There is also an excellent statue of Louis XIV on a horse. When I looked closely at the Louie’s feet I wondered why an emperor couldn’t afford a saddle with stirrups. In any case, at the Visitor’s Center you can get all of your questions answered (except about the stirrups), find a good map, and purchase of a Lyon Card. This card gets you onto all of the transportation (bus, trolley, subway, tram, funicular) except taxis and into 30 museums/sights for free and another 11 at a discount; it’s worth the 40€ price! As it turned out, I found that I could visit as many as three museums a day, giving myself museum overload and a propensity to bore my companions with the arcane knowledge I’d acquired.

Friday, September 5, 2014

On the Beach

Colorado River near La Grange, Texas
Texas has most of the biomes of the world; the exceptions are rain forests and tundra. It’s hard to have a favorite, but I seem to end up at the beach (marine biome) most often. Between north Texas and the beach is the Hill Country; this pretty area is an intersection of the temperate grassland and temperate forest biomes. It is also a great stop over with interesting things to see and do.

Dad joined the Navy at the ripe old age of 17 to support the war effort. He became a medical corpsman and was stationed in Hawaii for a few months. He’s told me a few stories about his time in the Navy, but what was really fun was visiting the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas