Friday, October 17, 2014

Back at it

The hard thing about taking a vacation is that it ends. Just. Like. That. Vacation is over and you are back to real life, which is all the more real, because things kind of piled up while you were gone.

I came back to two shows that needed my immediate attention. I had two pieces juried into the Beaverton Arts Mix, and had to deliver my work the day after we got home. It was a really good show, that lots of people came to see. My son-in-law, Carlos, had one of his paintings in the show too. Always great to have work in a Fine Arts show. Even though I didn't sell anything, I hope people are enjoying and learning about fiber art. People were interested and asked me a lot of questions. The show the next weekend was bad. Nice people, nice venue, no customers. I won't do that again.

Now I am getting ready for the Washington County Artists Open Studios this weekend. On Monday I got up at a really brutal hour and went to one of the other artist's studio for an early morning TV show feature about the tour. Here I am demonstrating and talking to "Joe on the go" from channel 12, about how I make my art.


We started at 5 am and went until about 8, with demos and interviews interspersed into the live morning news program. Who watches TV at that hour? Apparently quite a few people. Lots of people have told me they saw me.

Meanwhile, I have been writing a magazine article for a Dutch magazine, and cleaning and arranging my studio for the Open Studios.


I have hung as much work as I can and put small pieces out on tables.

I can demonstrate free-motion stitching on the same sample I used for the TV show, and show a small finished project, which is what I made for the magazine article. Nice to be able to make good use of these things! Can you tell by what I'm making that my head is still on vacation? And I still dream about Spain every night.



Friday, October 10, 2014


We took a day trip, from Lisbon to the town of Sintra one day. It was a short train ride from Lisbon. In the guidebooks it seems, always, to be described as the "romantic" town of Sintra, and it is certainly beautiful and charming.


There are three very interesting edifices to visit in Sintra, representing different periods of its long history. We started at the top of a large hill at the Pena Palace, built in the 18th century, by the then King Ferdinand. It is a colorful and extravagant place, filled to the brim with detail and whimsy and excess. There is a little sense of "Disney castle" about it and really a visual treat.




From there we wandered down the hill to the very romantic ruins of a Moorish Castle that dates back to the 7th or 8th century. Ray climbed up the many, many steps to the towers. I was tired. I watched from below.


Back down in the little town, we visited the National Palace, which was built in the 14th century and was used for many years as the summer palace. It is stately and grand and famed for the interesting and intricate ceilings.



This room is known as the "Swan Room". Each panel in the ceiling is a different swan painting. We loved Sintra and were exhausted at the end of the day. A lot of walking!

This the last of my place by place travelogue, but I took a lot of photos and you'll be seeing more in the coming weeks. We have been home for a week and a half now, but I still don't feel quite back into my old groove. Every night I dream about Spain. My internal clock has been slow to recover. Little by little my sleep cycle is getting back to Pacific time.

If I have one piece of advice regarding travel, it is simply, Go! See the world. And for heavens sake, don't be afraid. We travel on our own because we like doing it that way, but a lot of people love traveling with a tour. You are warned of pickpockets and scams and it is always wise to keep your wits about you, but we had no problems, other than the one caused by our own ignorance of the passport restrictions of some countries. Thanks for coming along. We had a grand adventure!


Monday, October 06, 2014

Lisbon highlights

As I mentioned, Lisbon was hard to wrap our minds around, so we sought out their local hop-on, hop-off tourist bus. We really found these a great way to get an overview of a city, with facts and lore via their recorded commentaries. On the day we took the bus we elected to hop off at the Gulbenkian Art Museum for a couple hours. This museum is really wonderful, with a great progression of art through the ages, in a beautiful, modern building. The collection is very manageable and doesn't just kill you getting through it. ( I love the Prado, but I'm telling you, you have to really figure out what you want to see. You could never manage the whole thing in one go.) The Gulbenkian has, however, some real treasures—Rembrandt and Rubens, Manet and Monet and a dazzling little collection of Lalique ornaments.


Back on the bus, we viewed more of the city and hopped off again in the historic Belem area at the Monastery of San Jeronimo, and the tomb of Vasco de Gama.


Back on the bus, we passed by the Belem tower, the Monument to the Age of Discovery, the Tagus River and the 25th of April bridge and nearby Corpus Christi statue.


Later we walked through the Baixa area, downtown, down to the river and back, enjoying street performers and lovely shops.

Lisbon is a very mixed bag of memories...

Incredible graffiti,


Whimsical details,


Chestnut vendors

Neighborhood churches with beautiful details,


Incredible food.

I think there is a lot to discover in Lisbon. We probably barely scratched the surface. I guess that means we need to go back someday...


Friday, October 03, 2014


Or Lisbon, as we call it in English. We rolled into Lisbon with no expectations. As the last city on our itinerary, it was the one I hadn't quite gotten around to reading up on. Coming in on the bus it seemed vast and crowded and a bit grimy. The cab ride to our Airbnb flat was long and winding, through terrible traffic. The cab driver explained that there was a subway strike and traffic was worse than usual. Lisbon did not make a good first impression. But at last we arrived in Bairro Alto—the upper city—on a narrow little street and our charming little 2nd floor flat.

We walked down to a nearby plaza with a splendid view of the city and suddenly it all looked much better.

The next day we took the Elavador de Gloria, a funicular, at the end of our street, down the short, but very steep hill to the main part of the city and began to explore Lisbon.

I couldn't help but compare Lisbon to Madrid, with its expansive plazas and all the statues on pedestals, but the two cities are quite different. Madrid sparkles. Madrid is proud and grand. Lisbon seems a little shabby and tired, but also filled with a rather romantic and old-fashioned kind of charm. It grew on me.
Two things I loved:
The sidewalks...

And the tiled buildings.

The neighborhood where we stayed is very old and the narrow streets are filled with bars and restaurants. At night they fill with people and music that goes until 2 or 3 in the morning.


There was even more to like about Lisbon, which is another post for another day.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Algarve, continued

On one of our Algarve days we took a drive a bit inland to the small city of Silves. I had read that it was a pretty little town with an interesting Moorish Castle ruin, so we went to see what we could see. It is a very old city that has been inhabited by the Romans, the Visigoths, and the Moors before becoming part of Portugal. The old Moorish castle sits high on a hill and is visible for miles. In the town you see remnants of old walls that have been built over and around.

We poked around the town, finding the local market, and stopping for a cold drink at a lovely plaza. I ordered "fresh lemon juice" which I supposed would be lemonade. It was, in fact, a tall glass, half filled with unadulterated lemon juice and ice. The waitress also brought me a bottle of water and two little packets of sugar. These, she explained were to add to the juice if I found it too strong as it was. It was a very tart lemonade even with these additions!

Waiting for us outside the castle walls was this statue of Sancho I of Portugal, who, with his band of Crusaders, defeated the Moors and claimed the city and fortress for Portugal in 1189.

There is not a lot to see inside the fortress, except for some excavation of the palace that was destroyed. But you can walk the surrounding wall and look out over the countryside and get a good view of the palace ruins.


We wandered through a nice local art exhibit in a small chapel. There were a group of school children at the exhibit, sprawled on the floor, creating their own versions of the art in the exhibit. Pretty cute.


We browsed the shops, including this shop filled with Portugese cork products.

I was amazed by the variety of things made from cork—coats, jackets, shoes, hats, handbags, lamps, belts, wallets—as well as the predictable coasters and table mats and bottle stoppers. After we left the shop Ray pointed out to me that I had actually taken a photo of the "no photography" sign. Oops. I didn't notice it. As we were driving out of Silves we saw a place where cork was being harvested, with big stacks of slabs of the bark from the cork oak trees.

It was a lovely, leisurely day. When we got back to the hotel we sat out on the terrace and drank wine and visited with a nice American couple from Chicago and watched the stars come out over the ocean. The next morning we packed up and headed for Lisbon.