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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rose Paths

". . . no feeling of emptiness about her.  She was an object lesson on the essential luck, whatever hardships come their way, of those born to make things."  from a book by Diana Athill

Rosepath, a lovely name for a weave pattern.   Runners are woven in rosepath  (the diamonds) and plain weave.  I love a project that calls for putting lots of colors together in one piece, time slipped away without notice while I wove. They are made with a cotton warp, cotton and cotton blends for the weft.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

Five Days in Paris

After spending a lovely week in Sevilla, we took a taxi to the train station and onto Madrid.  This is the sad story of experiencing the European custom of one-day strikes.  French Train workers were on strike just the day we wanted to go to Paris.  It was the bus for those of us traveling to France.  We left Madrid at 7 pm, arrived in Paris next morning around 11 am.  This was a very long night, imagine 16 hours in seats that seemed closer together than those of an airplane, this was not a busload of happy 'campers'!  We stopped along the way for a bit of a stretch and a couple times for food.  Morning came and seeing the French countryside raised spirits. We slumped off the bus and found our way to the metro and onto our hotel and fell into bed!  Day 1.   However, after a little rest, we had to go see Paris!  The Eiffel Tower was close to the hotel.   Nearby the Tower is the Musee du quai Branly.  This building is so cool, it is covered with growing plants that are tucked into little pockets of moss. A building covered with a garden.

Daughter in Espana has a friend in Paris, Meghan and she generously said she would be willing to spend a day with us while we were there.  I have to add here that it is so advantageous to know the language where you are traveling!  Most all Europeans know English, as an American not taught the value of learning another language - you feel stupid!  No other way to put it.  It was great to hang out with someone who could speak French.  We went to Ladureé for macaroons, simply devine.  This patisseriée makes all kinds of exquisite looking sweets, gorgeous food art.  We continued our walking down the Champs-Elysées to the Jardins de Tuilieres and past the river Seine with the green metal boxes that artists, booksellers and the like can rent from the city and have a little sidewalk shop on a busy walk way, on to the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.  This bookstore has a long history in Paris, first started by Sylvia Beach.  The book shop is in an old building with ceiling beams exposed, books for sale on the main floor are all in English.  Go upstairs to see floor to ceiling bookcases with old books, not for sale.  There is a piano in one of the rooms upstairs and someone was playing it.  You could hear the piano only in that room, because of book insulation (?).  I think I have never heard piano music so mellow.  I read a book some time back about a little shop in Paris that built pianos, could that have been one of those pianos?  I bought a book about the woman who started this bookstore.  From there we caught the Metro to Montmartre, walked up to Sacre Coeur and down the skinny old streets that artists past and artists now call home.


The next day we rode the train to Versailles. The Grand Palace of King Louis XIV is a very touristy site with lots of people and lines but well worth seeing all of it.  Makes me want to read more about King Louie XIV.  After we toured the palace, we followed Rick Steve's advice and found A la Côte Bretonne and an unforgettable lunch of crepes, cider and café crema.

We visited the Pompidou Museum, d'orsay Museum, Notre Dame, walked and walked and when we couldn't walk, we jumped onto the Metro and went everywhere we wanted to go.  Walking in Paris is as good as visiting a museum, so many beautiful and grand buildings.  Our last night there we climbed up the Eiffel Tower, they say the second story of the Tower is about 43 flights up, many steps and worth all the effort it takes.  We stood up there and looked out over Paris, it was dark by that time.  All of a sudden the lights on the tower began flashing, it was like it was sparkling, it was magical! The strobe-like lights are turned on at the hour. We had to go back an hour later and see it from the ground as it sparkled.



It was a big, wonderful trip and we were unabated tourists. The trip filled us up, enriched us, made us feel more a part of this world. Now I want to know more about the languages, the people and the history of these beautiful countries.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A redhead in Espana, where did she get that great scarf??

Grazalema, one of the mountain Pueblo Blancos
A man living on the side of the mountain,
a road dating back to the Romans runs below his house.

Flamenco, Semana Santa, marshmallow cakes --- Sevilla


 I wanted one of these fabulous gowns, but alas, where would I wear it???

Semana Santa souvenirs, I guess ?

       Whimsical cakes made with marshmallows, jelly beans, all kinds of confections.  
These were sitting in the window of a candy shop, part of Semana Santa??

Going to the Spanish Saturday market


The market, el invento con huevos y jamon, little glasses
of sweet orange wine, vino de naranja - delicious.
The little streets of Sevilla, scooters, buses all share the street with pedestrians who may have a little bit of a sidewalk to jump onto when the buses come by

La Giralda Cathedral, 3rd largest in all of Europe.

Sevilla, Spain

We are back from our beautiful trip to Europe.  Sevilla, Spain was first on the itinerary. We had our own Spanish interpreter, daughter Annie.   This is the second time we have traveled to Spain, but it was way more fun this time!  We stayed for 7 days in Sevilla and our experience of the culture was much richer and deeper.  We were there a week before the Semana Santa festival, a holy week festival filled with religious spectacle and rich traditions.  It is a genuine tourist magnet.  We saw much of the preparation and I am including some of those in the posted photos.  We ate lots of delicious Spanish food, tapas in little cafes - tapas portions allow you to sample many dishes and we did, strudel de verduras, croquetas caseras, solomillo el whiskey (the flavor I keep trying to capture and  with enough olive oil and garlic I'm getting there), bueyala mostaza antiqua, literally translated beef with old mustard, yum!!  It was all exquisite.  We drank many cafe con leches at coffee houses that double as bars, we sampled vino de naranja and many Cruzcampos, beer in little glasses (just enough) and el invento con huevos y jamon at the market (see photo) an interesting combination that crowds line up for at the market.  

We took a tour with Paul McGrath, originally from Australia, living in Sevilla for the past eleven years.  He took us south to the Pueblos Blancos, the little mountain towns of Zahara de la Sierra, Grazelema, Prado del Rey and Benamahona.  Beautiful little, old towns set on mountain sides, mostly all white and one with the remains of a Moorish castle that has been actively preserved, much of the centuries old structure still in place, paths and walls of other structures of that time also preserved.  The mountains of Spain are spectacularly beautiful and wild.  Little roads take you up and around the rocky mountain countryside. The towns had remains of roads from the Middle Ages.  Awed us Americans.  The Spanish know the wealth of preserving this history.  We visited a family run winery and a family-owned olive oil factory still producing olive oil in small runs the old fashioned, time-honored way.

We took in Flamenco, heard and saw the bells of La Giralda Cathedral, climbed the pathway up to the bell tower to glimpse all of Sevilla from above, walked to the Plaza de Espana, lovely "new" (built in 1929 for the world expo) building and grounds and just got caught up in the spirited, social, loud Spanish culture!  I loved it!