August 11-14, Karlsruhe

Because of bad planning on my part, Hans and Maria expect me in Karlsruhe on Saturday. I arrive in early evening. The train is actually on time (German trains have been mostly late on this trip).

Sunday morning we take a walk around the park by the “Schloss” (castle).

In the afternoon Gabi and Wolfgang are coming for coffee. Hans and Wolfgang used to work together. I met Gabi and Wolfgang in 1978, when they were in Albuquerque. I was still married, my daughter was 13 months old, and we were planning a trip to Europe. The woman who was helping me refresh German and give me vocabulary for little-people things like “high chair” introduced me to Gabi. Hans and Maria came to visit Gabi and her husband and mentioned they would be living in Virginia for a year. As it turned out, we were moving to the same area about the same time.

I saw Hans and Maria a few years ago, but I hadn’t seen Wolfgang and Gabi for at least 30 years. It was really great to be back in touch. And Hans and Maria hadn’t seen them for some years either, so they seemed happy to have a reason to get together.

Monday was spent running errands. I found that my watch wasn’t working, I was trying to fix the jewelry I was planning to send to Longwy for the show on September 1, and I needed to get some more money at the bank. It turned out that the beads I bought didn’t work and the works in my watch were shot. The one success:  I was able to get money.

A second trip to the shopping area got my package to Longwy mailed, the beads that didn’t work returned to the store, my watch picked up and a new watch found at Karstadt (a relatively nice department store chain). It was a little tough finding a watch that wasn’t too expensive — no Timex or Swatch in sight. And I wasn’t up for Movado and the expensive brands. I finally settled for a Rivado, which is the Karstadt brand and which worked with my watchband.

After I packed, I watched the news with Maria and Hans. Maria and I then were up even later when a French film, dubbed into German, came on. She said it was supposed to be a good film. I started watching — until it ended after 2 a.m. It was a good film, but I’m not sure of the title. And it was a short night.

 

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August 8, Leipzig

Down the street, more or less, from the hotel is the Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst. The building features an Art Nouveau pineapple on the roof, which I found interesting.

Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst and the Art Deco pineapple

Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst and the Art Deco pineapple

I planned to spend an hour or so in the museum. It turned into more like four… with lots and lots of glass, including Art Nouveau and newer artists.

I also found the post office and spent an hour filling out forms to send tissues to my cousin in Dallas and more stuff home to me.

 

August 6-7, Back to Germany / Leipzig

A few notes on traveling to and from Denmark:

If you’re going to Copenhagen by train, you have both German and Danish options. If you go straight north, as I did, to Aarhus, you have German trains to Flensburg and Danish after, more or less. I was told there are three trains a day, Denmark is a popular vacation area AND you must have a reserved seat on the Danish trains.

I managed to get around the reservation going up, primarily because the German trains were having mechanical problems and things were backed up horribly. But leaving…I went to the train station in Aarhus, expecting to be able to get on the direct train to Hamburg. No such luck. I was able to get a seat two hours later to Flensburg (Aarhus to Fredericia, Fredericia to Flensburg — the reverse of the trip up), with two changes of train. I should mention that I managed to have three pieces of small, but heavy, luggage.

This time the Danish train was a little late, but we still made the connection in Flensburg. In Hamburg I was able to continue on to Leipzig, and that train was on time, though it arrived at almost 8 p.m.

Because the Hotel Leipzig (formerly the Ramada) was not at the train station, I took a taxi.

An unfortunate sign was hanging in the building that housed the hotel (on the 7th and 8th floors). It’s dog food that’s supposed to be healthy for your pet:

An unfortunate sign advertising healthy dog food

An unfortunate sign advertising healthy dog food

The next day, armed with a small city map, I hoofed it to the train station – or almost – and found a city tour. Sixteen euros, 2 hours, and windows I couldn’t take much in the way of pictures through. It was useful for orientation, however.

Leipzig was a center of music and publishing as well as the fur trade and a giant trade fair in the good old days, a part of East Germany in the less-good old days. Wagner was born here, Bach is buried here. Among the better known musicians and writers who passed through: Mahler, Schiller, Goethe, Robert Schumann, and more recently Erich Kästner.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus front

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus front, just down the street from the hotel.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus side with an architectural add-on that I found interesting.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus side with an architectural add-on that I found interesting.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus - side door

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus – side door

A year or so ago, I was watching a TV series, Tierärztin Dr. Mertens, (Veterinarian Dr. Mertens), about a female vet at the Leipzig Zoo. I’m not particularly interested in zoos, but I was hooked on the series — and very upset when ARD decided it couldn’t be shown out of Germany and blocked it on my computer. At any rate, I spent almost four hours at the zoo — lost half the time because I was following signs and not the map. Because of the heat, most of the spaces were empty / occupied by hidden critters.TV

It’s a really interesting place, where many animals are separated by water and low fences from the people. I asked a zoo employee if the zoo had problems with people climbing into the enclosures. She said not so far, that Germans are careful about their children.

After that I walked back to the main train station, looked around the many stores. The train station has about three levels — one for the trains and two for shops. It looks fairly new in that it’s clean. It claims about 140 shops and eateries on two levels — including McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts.

July 27, 2018 – Halle de Verre, Claret, and more

We set out by the port of Sète, where we saw huge ships that apparently run between France and Morocco. Outside Sète is a huge saltwater “pond” (I would be more inclined to call it a marsh) that seems to have some low-growing vegetation.

The goal of my trip to France is to visit two glass museums, one in Claret, north of Montpellier, and one at Carmaux, north of Toulouse and Albi. Today is Claret, reached by some very back roads, but now I’ve seen a lot of the south of France.

The idea is to write an article about some of the glass museums for a Tucson publication, including “professional” photos. We’ll see. We arrived at Claret about 10:45. This gives us a little over an hour and a half before the museum has a two-hour lunch break.

Halle de Verre, Claret

Halle de Verre, Claret

After the Deutsches Museum für Modernes Glas in Rödental, Germany, plus some other U.S. museums, this is a let-down. I found it online, so I wanted to check it out. If Jacqueline hadn’t driven me, I would have been all day getting there — train to Montpellier, tram to somewhere, then bus to Claret, where I’m not sure there was even a hotel.

The museum is on two floors. We had a reduced admission because they were doing some kind of work. On the first floor there’s a very complete history of glass, along with reproductions of some of the old pieces, and information about modern glass techniques. These are explained through some short videos, all in French (of course — we’re in France…). There’s also a very nice gift shop, with local / French artists.

Piece in the current exhibit

Piece in the current exhibit

Upstairs is the current exhibit, which is made up of French glass artists, many of whom are connected to large educational facilities. This includes one at Vannes-le-Chatel, which Jacqueline and I visited a couple of years ago.

After Claret we stopped at the Abbaye of Vermagne, a vineyard to buy some wine, then the town of Marseillan, where we bought more wine, looked around and I had a cup of coffee. Then it was back to the Cap.

The Abbaye of Vermagne was pretty interesting.

Abbaye de Valmagne, built in 1139

Abbaye de Valmagne, built in 1139

I’m not “into” churches — this one is huge. The property is full of trees, so it’s much cooler than many other places.

Church at Valmagne, Jacqueline is front left

Church at Valmagne, Jacqueline is front left

Wine barrels in the church at Abbaye de Valmagne

Wine barrels in the church at Abbaye de Valmagne

The church has huge barrels for wine — it’s in private hands and has been for some 7 generations. It produces a regional wine, though we didn’t buy any. It dates from 1139. Its claim to fame was that one of the heads of the abbey decided, around 1575, that he wasn’t going to be a Catholic anymore, so he led a group to slaughter all the monks and the 80-year-old man who took care of the wine in those days. The abbey was pretty much destroyed. A modern piece of stained glass was made from fragments and two new stained glass windows have been created.

Small stained glass window created from fragments of an old window

Small stained glass window created from fragments of an old window

Stained glass window at Valmagne, one of two remaining

Stained glass window at Valmagne, one of two remaining

Detail from one of the existing stained glass windows at Valmagne

Detail from one of the existing stained glass windows at Valmagne

Second stained glass window at Valmagne

Second stained glass window at Valmagne

Fountain under grape arbor at Valmagne

Fountain under grape arbor in courtyard at Valmagne

Shaded road, this near the abbey, but we passed by many like this

Shaded road, this near the abbey, but we passed by many like this

We went to La Madeleine winery in Marseillan (my granddaughter is also Madeleine). It’s a picturesque little town, as are all the towns in the area, with narrow streets.

Then it was back to Cap d’Agde. I was disappointed not to see any flamingos after Jacqueline told me that they were in the pond between Marseillan and Sète.

After dinner (never before 8 p.m.), we took a long walk around part of Cap d’Agde. There was to be an eclipse of the moon, but the sky was covered in fog, so we didn’t see anything.

more photos to come

July 24, 2018, Nancy, France

Slow day today. Jacqueline is going to a physical therapy appointment (if I understood correctly), and I’m going to hang around the center of town.

The heart of Nancy (Lorraine) is Place Stanislas, with an impressive statue plus large buildings on all sides.

I wandered around a little and saw some interesting Art Nouveau buildings, as well. In several stores, cacti were in the windows. That seems to be a popular theme….

There are a bunch of restaurants in the area, of course. Here’s how one gets its potatoes…

 

A few potatoes, waiting for preparation

A few potatoes, waiting for preparation

July 23, 2018 – Toul and Longwy, France

Too much is happening. This morning we drove to Toul, about 40 minutes from Jacqueline’s, to meet a ceramics artist. She met us at her co-op gallery, La Petite Boucherie (the little butcher shop), located at 11, rue de la petite boucherie. It’s a wonderful, open, simple gallery that shows the work well. The artist, Pascale-Louise (https://www.pascale-louise.com/), explained about the gallery, then had us follow her to her studio. In the process of talking to her, she suggested I keep an eye out for the artist residency program that Toul is expected to be offering soon….

 

After a quick lunch in a shopping center parking lot, we continued on to Longwy, a town known for its enamels, and Saint-Jean l’Aigle, one of the best-known (if not the best known) ateliers (http://saintjeanlaigle.com/index.html). It’s a family affair, with the head, Jacques Peiffer, his wife, daughter and granddaughter at the very least, creating. As it turns out, we had a tour with Dr. Peiffer through an interesting museum of enamel work that he’s collected and created.

Jacques Peiffer with knife he created

Jacques Peiffer with knife he created

He suggested I come and spend a few days next year, working with him. He also suggested I send at least photos for an upcoming exhibition he’s putting together. Even if nothing comes of any of this, it was an exciting day. And talking to someone who’s passionate about making high-quality art and dabbling here and there in glass for many years was very motivating.

July 17-22, 2018, Switzerland

I thought I had a great new way to get to Europe — using Condor, a relative of Lufthansa — but after chaos at the ticket counter followed by chaos in the boarding area in Phoenix, I’m not so sure. The flight was OK — freezing, of course. Dinner, served about 10 p.m., was noodles and tomato sauce, perfect for a vegetarian. I had to ask several times to be sure it was meatless.

Wine used to be offered for free on international flights. Not on Condor. By the way, the 6 kg limit on hand luggage is strictly enforced. I struggled to take some of my glass pieces, ordered by Jacqueline in France, out of my hand luggage and find spot for it in my over-filled suitcase. I tried to “pack light” –or at least, pack small — thinking about all the staircases in train stations and about the overhead racks in trains. Although I have a 21-inch suitcase, it’s still not very manageable. I got a new Samsonite bag, blue, with four wheels. When I arrived in Zurich (via Frankfurt — direct non-stop from Phoenix), I found that every traveler who didn’t have a black bag had a blue one…. On the train, my four-wheel bag took off by itself. No brakes. I learned to block it in with my heavy hand-luggage piece. Plus I have my laptop.

I arrived late in Zurich, about 8 p.m., because of bad weather around Frankfurt. Got to my friend, Kaisu’s, about 9:30. She lives in Wädenswil, on the south shore of the Zurich Lake, in a house overlooking the lake. It was great to catch up with her after three years.

Out the guest room window at my friend's, Wädenswil

Out the guest room window at my friend’s, Wädenswil

Wednesday, July 18, we hung out in Wädenswil. Early in the morning I went with Kaisu to walk her dog, Haki.  I had to send some things to Gertrud, whom I’ll meet one of these days in Germany. Exceptionally, she left some things at home that she needed. She was a little miffed at me that I didn’t go on the same day and flight as she — she left a day earlier and took Condor from Phoenix to Seattle to Frankfurt, with a 3+hour layover in Seattle. I looked at that and booked the direct flight on the next day.

Thursday, July 19, Kaisu and I rode with her husband, Urs, in his Tesla to Bad Ragaz. The resort town is having a triennial sculpture fest.

Urs went on to play golf elsewhere, we took the train back to Wädenswil after traipsing all over Bad Ragaz. The weather so far is almost the same as Tucson — hot, hot, hot. We had lunch under the trees in the garden of a restaurant, followed by dessert at the cafeteria at the thermal bath.

Friday, July 20, after Haki’s morning walk, Kaisu took me to Einsiedeln to see the ornate, well-restored church. It’s full of gold leaf and wonderful painted murals on the walls and ceiling — it’s really quite impressive. Several priests were celebrating a mass when we arrived. We sat in the back, impressed by the acoustics and looking at the Black Madonna in its/her new dress. After a rösti lunch (rösti is sort of like hash brown potatoes, in this case cooked and served in a cast-iron skillet and topped with sliced tomatoes and cheese) we took a walk around town, then headed home. It could be Tucson from the heat.

Saturday, July 21, I hustled to the train station with Kaisu. I wrestled my luggage onto the train and set off for Bern, via the Zurich main train station. Once in Bern, I couldn’t find the end point for Tram 3, which I needed to get to the hotel. I finally just walked, with the help of my iPhone’s GPS. I set out on “auto pilot”, since I had lived in the area of the hotel for 6 years, but then I wasn’t sure if I was remembering correctly. Once there, I checked in, although the room wasn’t ready yet, and left my luggage. I headed to the Loeb-Ecke to meet Max, a former colleague from my days at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C. We had lunch followed by coffee on the second floor of a nearby, quieter restaurant. At 4 I had to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at 6 with Gabi, a former colleague in Bern, and her husband. We had a great Indian dinner — complete with Cobra beer. It came in an interesting bottle, which — of course — I latched onto. We’ll see how it melts in the kiln.

Sunday, July 22, got off to a slow start. I had breakfast at the hotel, checked out and got the tram to the train station. The train to Basel went fine.

May 7-8, 2018, Brooklyn and New York

Monday tends to be a dead day for galleries. Nonetheless, I  found that Urban Glass in Brooklyn would be at least partly open.

I was talking to another glass artist, Perla Segovia, at a recent opening in Tucson. I said I was getting ready to go to New York, and she mentioned that she had work at a place called Urban Glass in Brooklyn and I should go and look there.

I don’t think I was ever in Brooklyn, though I lived in New York for about five years. First, I took the train from Hicksville to Jamaica, where I planned to spend the night at the Best Western at JFK airport. I got the shuttle to the hotel and checked in, then got the shuttle and went back to the airport. The shuttle driver kindly explained two or three times to the stupid tourist how to get to Brooklyn.

Actually, it was pretty simple. I took the A Train and got off in Brooklyn. Urban Glass, on Fulton, was a little hike down the street. I didn’t take any photos in the gift gallery, which is what was open, but it was a gorgeous, light space. An interesting-looking show was in the process of being hung. I didn’t realize Perla had never been there, or I would have asked about photos….

After spending several minutes there and chatting with the artist/receptionist to find out how to participate there, I went out to look around Brooklyn a little. I found a German restaurant for lunch, took some pictures of the neighborhood, and went back to the hotel. My flight the next morning was at 6:30, so I wanted to get a little sleep.

Shops on Fulton Avenue, Brooklyn

Shops on Fulton Avenue, Brooklyn

January 2018, Indio, California

For a while I’d been wanting to take a workshop with Paul Messink, who does multilayers of glass to get a lot of dimension (www.paulmessink.com). Paul is now based in Indio, California, which is about a five-hour drive from Tucson. I finally had enough money and the time to take his workshop in Indio, the closest place and his home studio.

It turned out, though I contacted him late, that he had space. In fact, we were only two in the workshop. I mentioned at Cactus Wren Artisans that I was going. Sharon, formerly my framer and now working in painting on glass and other artistic pursuits, mentioned a friend nearby was getting ready to move. She really wanted to see him and his wife before they left. As it turned out, the week of my workshop was the last weekend they would be there. So, Sharon decided to go along to see them.

Paul mentioned beforehand a glass exhibit at the Palm Springs Art Museum. This is a little more than a half hour from Indio. I really wanted to see the exhibit and knew that once the workshop began, I wouldn’t have time. So I got Sharon to hustle and we left early, so we’d have time on Monday after we arrived to get to the museum.

The exhibit was only women artists working in glass. These included some big names and some really interesting pieces:

Debra Moore, Orchid in Vase

Debra Moore, Orchid in Vase

Ginny Ruffner, Pastich-ing Pablo

Ginny Ruffner, Pastich-ing Pablo

Anja Isphording

Anja Isphording

Karen LaMonte, cast glass

Karen LaMonte, cast glass

Detail from Karen LaMonte's cast glass dress

Detail from Karen LaMonte’s cast glass dress

Lucy Lyon, Personal Space from one side

Lucy Lyon, Personal Space from one side

Lucy Lyon, Personal Space, another view

Lucy Lyon, Personal Space, another view

Mary Van Cline, The Voyage Along the Curve of Time

Mary Van Cline, The Voyage Along the Curve of Time, a large and very different piece

Nancy Callan, Plum Eddy Droplet

Nancy Callan, Plum Eddy Droplet

There were more, but these were the ones that photographed the best and that I liked the most. This was part 1. Part 2 will come around June.

Meantime, we had full days of workshop Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and a half-day Friday.

My pieces turned out OK — Jackie, the other student’s — were, of course, nicer. She was great to work with, and Paul was an excellent instructor. We used enamels on multiple layers of glass, first fired at a low temperature individually, then put together and fired with dams.

My final project in pieces

My final project in pieces

Finished trees, based on a photo by Jan Mayer, member of the Tucson Mountains Artist Collective.

Finished trees, based on a photo by Jan Mayer, member of the Tucson Mountains Artist Collective. I liked the photo better….

Sunset piece, based on a photo by Mary Ann, in my French conversation group.

Sunset piece, based on a photo by Mary Ann, in my French conversation group. I got a lot of glare in the photo, but I liked the way the piece turned out.

We started back as soon as the workshop was finished and spent the night in Gila Bend, Arizona. We had a spectacular sunset:

Sunset near Gila Bend, Arizona

Sunset near Gila Bend, Arizona

Sharon knew of a restaurant there — with a space motif. Who would have thought, in the middle of Nowhere, Arizona, and it had Phoenix prices for the motel, so we stayed elsewhere. We enjoyed dinner at the Space Age Restaurant, however.

Space Age Restaurant, with the Best Western motel in Gila Bend, AZ

Space Age Restaurant, with the Best Western motel in Gila Bend, AZ

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Seattle, Washington

Off to a slow start, we left Tacoma and headed for Seattle and a quick get-together with a former colleague from Tucson, Pearl. She’s been visiting her son and his family, who just had baby #2, a cute daughter. She met us at the Kaffeeklatsch, complete with a German flag out front. She took this photo of Jacqueline and me with her phone.

Pearl took this photo of Jacqueline and me with her phone

Pearl took this photo of Jacqueline and me with her phone

When we figure out how to send it, I’ll add the photo of Pearl and me that Jacqueline took with her phone.

Then on to Vancouver. We had no trouble crossing the border into Canada. We were asked where we were going and why. No question about the rental car. Thanks to my iPhone, we zipped to the hotel. We parked in the garage under the hotel — a true horror story. The ramp down was narrow and winding. I’m kind of used to parking in an underground lot at the library in Tucson. These spaces were even narrower and tighter. It took me at least 10 minutes to maneuver. When I mentioned that to locals, they all just rolled their eyes, so I guess I must be getting old.

View from our hotel room at the Empire landmark Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.

View from our hotel room at the Empire landmark Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.

Because it was only about 4 p.m. and we seemed to be close to Stanley Park, we thought we’d take a walk over and check out the totem poles. It was an experience, with bikers, skaters, joggers and tourists sharing the walkways. Actually, it’s quite organized when you figure it out. We saw some wildlife:

Canada Goose in the lawn at Stanley Park

Canada Goose in the lawn at Stanley Park.

Also some boats:

Vancouver Rowing Club, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver Rowing Club, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

In the water near the rowing club, we found boat "garages"

In the water near the rowing club, we found blue boat “garages”

Across the water we saw the Convention Center, with its flat, grass-covered roof (and home to 60,000 bees in the winter, according to our tour guide the next day).

Convention Center with grassy roof

Convention Center with grassy roof

At last, we found the totem poles. I’d forgotten they’re all pretty much together.

Entrance to the totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, Vancouver. These are mostly reproductions of local First Nations carvings

Entrance to the totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, Vancouver. These are mostly reproductions of local First Nations carvings

Totem poles at Brockton Point - note size of man, poles and trees

Totem poles at Brockton Point, Stanley Park – note size of man, poles and trees

Totem pole at Brockton Point, Stanley Park

Totem pole at Brockton Point, Stanley Park

Leaving, we walked along some more water. I got one photo of a heron, then I did something to the camera and lost the rest of the photos

Heron in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

Heron in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.