Monday, June 17, 2013

Art - June 17, 2013

Gaudi Tile

It has been very busy since we returned home.  Getting ready for the 2013 Redmond Town Center Art Festival is exciting and hectic.  John has been busy making some beautiful shelves to display my jewelry and sweater bowls.  We have ordered a tent, a cash register, found trellis material on which to to hang my large pictures and so much more. 

Malaga Bull Fight poster

I hope those of you in the Seattle area can make the festival on July 12, 13 and 14th.  The booths will be open from 10 am to 8 pm on  Friday and Saturday, and from 11 am to 7 pm on Sunday.  For more information see their web page  

Crocheted and beaded bracelet

I'm going to have some interesting items for sale.  I am up-cycling jewelry boxes and picture frames.  I am making all types of jewelry.  There will be large canvas, metal etched, poster style and framed photographs.  I even have photos and frames an inch tall.  I have sweater bowls, cards, scarves, hats, and even a yoga bag.  

Here are a few of the jewelry items below.  These were made using some of the materials I purchased on my trip.  The beads on the gold necklace are olive wood from Greece.  The polished shell is from Livorno, Italy.  It has been fun working with some of the items purchased in Europe.

Crocheted and beaded necklace
beads are olive wood from Greece
Carved shell necklace with rose charm
gold snake chain.  Shell is from Livorno, Italy

 It's time for bed.  I have swimming at the Y tomorrow and then it is back to making an inventory and more items for the fair.  

OHHHhhh  and did I tell you...  It was also a good day on Etsy.  One of my jewelry bags is on it's way to Long Beach, California.  YEA!!!!

Good night for now!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Photography - June 9th, 2013

When I was a small child my first recollection of taking pictures was using my grandmother’s box camera in her back yard. I was so excited to see the pictures I had taken and quickly opened the box to see the pictures inside. That was a learning experience! I learned a lot about film, light and the process of photography just by opening that box. Needless to say I was disappointed; but I was also hooked and have been ever since. That progressed to learning how to develop my own pictures in my basement. Frustration set in as I didn't have an enlarger, but again more of the process was learned regarding light and dark, black and white.

Pictures developed in my basement
My sister and our trailer


I lived in the Rockies and as an older child I fell in love with camping and taking pictures of old gold mines. Oh the mysteries those held for me. We traveled all over Colorado taking pictures of gold mines. Of course I only had a black and white camera and Polaroid at that. Those pictures faded out quickly, but the memories still linger.

In high school I was an exchange student to the Fareo Islands in Denmark. What an opportunity for learning and for taking pictures of beautiful places. When I returned home I gave slide shows showing my pictures to many groups at school and social functions telling them about my wonderful experience. My photography experience as a world traveler was priceless.

Carol Ann and the Poulsen Family,
 (American Field Service exchange family)

Since then I've traveled and lived around the world. I’ve taken photography in College and learned all the parts of a 35 mm camera, the tricks with slow shutters, aperture settings and all. This is a dying art with the digital age in full swing. So is black and white photography. What a shame.  However, through working with my son I've evolved into the digital age.  I so much enjoy using digital cameras and working with the tools available on the computer.  I had one of the first digital zoom cameras made by Sony back in the early 1990’s and have not looked back since.


Ansel Adams once said something like it takes a thousand pictures to find a good one. Well I've taken a lot. I hope you find one of my pictures catches your eye and that you enjoy the view for a long time to come.  Hope you can come take a look at more of my pictures at the Redmond Art Festival on July 12, 13 and 14 at the Redmond Town Center, Redmond, Washington. 

Bye for now!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Travel – June 3rd – Zurich, Switzerland to Seattle, Washington, through Newark, New Jersey. 

4733b - Gimmelwald - Mountain Hostel - Rick Steves.JPG
Rick Steves

All good trips must come to an end, and all tired travelers must return home.  It is so for John and me as well as Rick Steves, well known Pacific Northwest author, television personality and travel guide, who returned on the plane with us from Newark to Seattle today.  It was a long ride, but not an unpleasant one.

 John and I were up before the crack of dawn.  The hotel wake-up call service didn’t work, but the nice lady with our breakfast at the door sure did.  I’m sure glad John heard her knock or we would still be in Zurich.  A quick bite, a quick dressing and we were off to the airport. 

Zurich Airport is located just 10 km north of the Swiss city of Zurich. In January this year the airport handled just over 1.7 million passengers, which represented a gain of 1.3% in a year-on-year comparison. With domestic and international connections to Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Copenhagen, Vienna, Warsaw and Singapore for example the Swiss airport is in ever increasing demand as an aviation hub for this part of Europe.


We checked in our luggage, barely under weight, thank God!  We went through security and they let us keep our shoes on, YEA!!  I still got stopped because they always like to look at either my computer bag or my purse.  That is what happens when you carry knitting needles with you.  Yes, knitting needles; they let you carry knitting needles on the plane.  

No knives allowed

No knives on board, but you can carry nice long straight shafts of metal or plastic.  

SHHUUUuussssshhhhhh, don’t make a fuss; it’s my salvation when sitting for hours in a small chair with no place to go.

Knitting needles allowed

We had to catch an airport tram to our gate, and we knew we were still in Switzerland when over the loud speaker of the tram came soothing music, then the birds began chirping, and then….a cow moooooowwwwwed.  John and I looked at each other and said, “This has to go in the blog; no one will ever believe it!”  What an unusual background sound to have in an airport tram system.  We just laughed!

We flew United Airlines.  I have a United credit card and have racked up a fair amount of frequent flier miles over the years.  One way tickets are usually the most expensive, so we decided to trade in some of my miles for our return tickets from Zurich.  It was a very good use of the miles.  Our seats, for being cattle car passengers’, were mid-section, right side of the plane so we sat by ourselves.  There was lots of leg room, and we had unlimited movies all the way across the ocean.  John read and slept.  I watched three movies and crocheted a complete jewelry bag during the flight.  Eight plus hours and two meals later we were on the ground; fairly painless and uneventful.

 Then there was US Immigration and Customs, always the first stop.  We seem to get in the line where everyone in front of us is a suspected terrorist.  A million questions are asked, records checked twice, pictures and handprints taken, and delays continue as the inspector calls his boss on the phone.  More papers are filled out.  Finally the person or family is let into the US.  This happened in front of us at least four times.  The inspector was so happy to see us it took him two seconds to pass us through immigration.  We must have looked like we were upstanding citizens.  YEA!!!  After such a long flight I was really getting tired of standing.

I'm never tired of returning to the USA
 and seeing my flag waving in the distance

 We found our bags and went through Customs.  They asked us if we had purchased anything that was food of plant oriented.  We indicated we had purchased some Swiss chocolate and some olive wood items.  We were sent to the x-ray line, while everyone else, probably having Swiss candy in their luggage, walked free; so much for being honest.  Having all our items x-rayed, we were on our way with everything intact.  WHEW!  

 Now, getting our bags transferred to the Seattle flight was the tricky part.  If any of you have ever been to the Newark airport you probably know that it’s not well set up and the signage stinks.  It’s that way on the international side of the terminal, too.  We wandered around for at least twenty minutes trying to find someone to take our bags for our flight to Seattle.  We finally had to take our bags all the way out to the front departure desk and have them accepted just like we were newly arriving passengers.  If it wasn’t for the kindness of a United host working the Premium passenger line, it would have taken much longer.  United and Newark Airport….you get a D- grade from me for this.  In all my international flying between major hubs, I’ve never had to go all the way to the beginning of the process to get my bags in the system after customs; SHAMEFUL!

We knew we were back in the US when we went through security again, took our shoes off, went through my bag again, pulled everything out and put it back.  Then we walked to the very end of the longest terminal to get to our plane.  Everyone was either on their lap tops or smart phones.  The price for a cup of coffee was $3.00 and to watch a movie and TV shows on the plane all the way back to Seattle cost $7.95.  (Just slide your credit card here please.)  There are no movies on the plane any more where you can rent head sets for small sum; the media is controlled by Direct TV.  The US overall is a lot less expensive than Europe, but everyone has figured out how to get their pound of flesh.  In the long run, “outsourcing” may be the bane of our existence; just ask Boeing.

 We have a wonderful local limousine company that picks us up when we go on long trips.  The owner was sitting in the cell phone lot waiting for us.  We arrived home, opened all the windows to air out the house and unpacked.  We are headed for our own bed tonight; I can’t wait.  Wait….is this Monday or Tuesday night?  This European adventure may be over, but Ann has many more adventures to follow.  It is never boring when Ann is around!  

AHHHH  we are home......       Good Night!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Travel – June 2nd and 3rd – Zurich, 


Well….it’s raining.  Yes, we are used to it.  We have webbed feet and are handy with umbrellas.  We also know that a day like today (Saturday) is a good day to go to a museum.  We slept in late and ate a beautiful breakfast at the hotel.  I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough.  It is well situated at the bottom of the lake and next to the old city.  And, the breakfast is awesome, not just because it comes with the room!!  (Helmhaus Hotel at Schifflande 30, am Limmatqual, Zurich, Switzerland)  No, I’m not getting any kick-backs  ;-).

Monet, part of an entire wall painting

We decided to visit Switzerland’s well known art museum the Kunsthaus.    The Kunsthaus Zürich houses one of the most important art collections in Switzerland and Europe.  The collection was assembled over the years by the local art association called Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft. The collection spans from the Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art.

From the Modern Art Section.  The picture looked like a photograph, not a painting.  The picture also filled an entire wall.  If I recall it was painted in 1948.  Looks pretty contemporary to me.

The museum was drawn-up by architects Karl Moser and Robert Curjel, and opened in 1910. The bas-reliefs on the facade are by Moser's longtime collaborator Oskar Kiefer.  There is a large door called “The Gates of Hell” by Rodin displayed at the front entrance of the museum that is inspired by Dante’s Inferno.  I’m currently reading Dan Brown’s book of that name so it was of particular interest.

Gates of Hell by Rodin

The museum's collection includes works from Edvard Munch, Jacques Lipchitz and Alberto Giacometti. Swiss artists such as Johann Heinrich Füssli, Ferdinand Hodler or from recent times, Pipilotti Rist and Peter Fischli are also represented.

van Gogh

van Gogh



The modern arts display includes a new collection comprising a selection of recently acquired contemporary photographs and prints. It brings together a variety of landscapes and nature studies by Christiane Baumgartner, Haris Epaminonda, Thomas Flechtner, Annette Kelm, Helen Mirra and Cécile Wick.

By Yves Tanguy,
This is my favorite modern painting!

The diverse strategies and techniques adopted by each artist give rise to variations on familiar images of nature. The works express concepts such as place, time and space, chance and memory; on closer examination, they also open up multiple ways of seeing and perceiving.  I enjoy looking at the old masters, but for me I liked the contemporary collections the best.  There were also a variety that included a Warhol or two and a number of Picasso's.

By Georg Baselitz,
This is the most unusual
as it's pieces of plywood
 with indentations and paint.

By Andy Warhol, second soup can.

This museum was just up the street from our hotel.  Yes, I said up, Zurich is in a valley with the river and lake at the bottom.  Almost everything else is a walk up hill, but then we are still working off our cruise calories.  We ate at a wonderful Swiss restaurant and had cheese fondue with bread.  I love cheese fondue.  So much for walking off the calories. 

John's favorite picture, by Rudolf Koller (1828–1905)

On Sunday we declared it a “sea day”.  It was still raining and we just stayed inside and caught up on blogging, email and knitting.  We walked to the lake and back and then had dinner in a nice German restaurant.  I had a wonderful beef stroganoff and John had a cordon-bleu.  Both were fantastic.  Again, we had all this within a few blocks from our hotel. 

Walking along Lake Zurich in the rain.

I love being able to spend a few days just living in a place.  You begin to get the rhythm of the city and start to understand how some of the people live there.  Just down the street the theater was showing Spamalot.  On Saturday night the streets were active with young revelers enjoying a night out of entertainment until early in the morning.  And…..the church bells rang on in early evening as the rain kept coming done.  It was a lovely weekend in Zurich!  Good night….there is more adventure to come.

Lake Zurich is Swan Heaven

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Travel – May 29, 30 & 31 – Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich…the question is, where do we begin?  I’ve been here before and John hasn't.  There is so much outside the town I would love for John to see. Lucerne is a lovely place and Mount Titlis is also beautiful. I’d previously come with Brian, my youngest son, about fifteen years ago, and those are some of the places we saw.  We had such a wonderful time here.  Brian and I had explored some of the old town of Zurich, but not much else.

John was really tired of taking tours; thus, we decided to just stay put and explore Zurich.  As it turned out, it was a very wise thing.  This town has a lot to offer, and the time we have will not be enough to do it justice.  We have barely scratched the surface. Zurich is a town I could live in.  Of course that is why it is regarded as one of the top rated cities in the world.  All it takes is money.  Both John and I would have to go back to work.  Boo…I think I’ll stay put.

The weather and environment are very similar to Seattle’s.  The city is surrounded by rolling hills that transition to high mountains; there is water all around and it rains.  Sounds really familiar. It has been raining on and off since we arrived.  Good thing we brought our umbrellas!     

Zurich (GermanZürich, German pronunciation: [ˈtsyːrɪç]Swiss GermanZüri) is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. The municipality has approximately 390,000 inhabitants, and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million.  Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

Permanently settled for around 2000 years, the history of Zurich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago. During the Middle Ages, Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, was the place of origin and center of the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli.

Zurich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centers. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zurich, and the low rate (relatively) of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.

Monocle's 2012 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Zurich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within.” According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Zurich also hosts one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.

John and I spent the first day or two taking the walking and boating tours around the city.  Most of the pictures shown on this blog are from those adventures.  The city is beautiful and showcases a mixture of European and Swiss architecture.   There are multiple clock towers, and when they all go off at once they are deafening.  At times they ring for ten minutes or more.  We had to close our window to close out the noise.  Sure glad we don’t have any bell towers where we live! 

A boat ride on Lake Zurich is a must do activity if you visit here.  They have a short and a long ride.  You can buy your tickets at the dock without arranging for any formal tour.  We took the short tour and it took about an hour and a half.  The boat makes about eight stops around the lake.  Each stop is different and quite quaint.  The further you go up the lake (south-southeast) the closer you get to the Alps.  We were lucky the day we took the boat trip and actually had some sun; people were sitting outside on the deck.  The cost of the ride was about eighteen Swiss Francs each or about $24.  Probably a bit expensive, but this is a tourist town.  Locals were riding the boat, but I’d hate to pay this price on a daily basis.  I took a picture of the menu showing some prices.  The price of French fries was $13 dollars, but that did include catsup.  What a deal!  We had a drink and left it at that.

Going back to Venice and my suitcase for a minute, all that pulling up and down those great steps took its toll on my poor old suitcase wheels.  I knew something was going to give before the trip was over.  As we arrived at the Zurich train station, half of one wheel fell off on the station platform.  John struggled to pull it to the taxi cab.  By the time we arrived at the hotel the other side of the wheel fell off.  We knew something was going to have to be done.

Our challenge was to find a reasonably priced suitcase in one of the most expensive towns in the world; and not everyone speaks English.  Where is a Costco when you need one???  We are so glad we have an internet connection at the hotel.  John googled “Where to find a suitcase in Zurich.”  We looked up the places on the map and found that they were within walking distance.  AMAZING!! Traveling even ten years ago this would not have been possible.   Here is a picture of my new suitcase.  It is Swiss made and has a five year guarantee.  If something goes wrong I’m bringing it back for repair!!!!  

Now, getting rid of the old suitcase is a problem.  The hotel indicated that there would be a charge for large pieces of trash.  John has now started to scope out every dumpster we go by to see if it is big enough for my suitcase.  If we don’t arrive home on time you will know it is because we have been picked up for planting a suitcase bomb in a public area.  They will have it all on tape.

Only a few days left in Zurich.  I think we are going to visit some museums.  It’s a good bet when it’s raining.  See you soon, the adventure continues.  Good night!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May 28 – Tuesday – Train from Venice to Zurich, Switzerland

Our entire day was spent on the train from Venice, Italy to Zurich, Switzerland.  It is not a problem for us because we LOVE to ride trains.  We awoke early and had breakfast at the hotel.  This is with a sigh of relief.  As I said things are expensive here, our modest dinner last night was $150 dollars and that did not include any wine. (OK… John had an Italian beer.)  Yes, we are still recovering from being spoiled.

Grande Canal in front of train station

We had fun pulling our suitcases over a very large bridge.  This one had big stairs.  It crossed the Grande Canal.  On a normal morning or evening on the canal the boats, ferries and utility boats roar by so fast you would think it was the Los Angeles freeway.  The only trick is that there don’t seem to be any traffic rules.  It is like watching bumper boats.  It is great fun.  Between watching the boats and the people, John and I could spend all day just sitting in one spot being completely entertained.  What a great sport! 

Anyway, back to pulling the luggage.  The lift up was challenging but we both made it.  We took it in little chunks and things went fine.  The way down seemed easier, at least I thought so.  But, I had about five people stop and ask me if I needed any help, yet I was the one with the lighter load.  I guess I looked like one little old decrepit lady about to pass out.  Robust John was doing just fine.   I kept on telling people that I was fine; I wanted to say that I’d carried my bags over the Grand Canal in Venice.  I’m sure most people thought I was crazy, but then that wouldn't be the first time.

The train station was busy.  Luckily, we had checked everything out the day before.  We knew where to register our tickets.  John had purchased them on-line at home before we left on our trip.  He should have been a travel agent.  His planning worked like clockwork as usual.  Our first train took us to Milano, Italy.  We had about an hour and a half layover before catching our train to Zurich; lunch was a Burger King.  After ordering two number one meals, we were about thirty dollars poorer.  This may give you a reasonable bench mark on the cost of things here.

Milano, Italy train station.  Largest in Italy

From Milano, we caught the train to Zurich.  The train ride took about four hours.  We were lucky to get nice seats with good viewing windows.  The hills were green in northern Italy, and eventually we found ourselves in the valleys and hills of the Italian Alps.  We began to climb the mountains, and very soon  Italy became Switzerland.  We went through at least twenty tunnels before we arrived in Zurich.  One or two of the tunnels were about three miles long.

Lake Zurich with Alps in the background

The Swiss country side is beautiful.  Things look so clean and neat.  Everything is so very organized and orderly.  This feels so different from my experience in Italy, where things are crowded, haphazard and seemingly unplanned, and in very many places in a significant state of decay.  In Switzerland, everything seemingly works, runs on time, rings on time, opens and closes on time.  I love it!!!

We arrived in Zurich to find it rainy and cool.  For a moment, I thought we were home!  We ran between rain drops to a cab.  We found the most off beat cab driver I’ve ever had; he kept raving about tax laws, various countries, politics and companies that are not paying US taxes.  I guess the US is having some impact here – at least on wide-eyed and emotionally on-edge cabbies.  By the end of the trip, at least he had successfully driven us to the hotel and made sure we knew where the Swiss museum was.  It was an interesting introduction.
View from our room

Our hotel, Helmhaus Hotel at Schifflande 30, am Limmatqual, in Zurich is wonderful.  It is right on the edge of the old town and Lake Zurich, and within walking distance of almost everything.  We have a lot of exploring to do.  We will tell you more about that tomorrow.  It’s been a long day.  Stay tuned for more of the adventure.  Sleep tight!