Travel Theme: Paint

Ailsa has set the theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? to: paint.

Right. Got my brushes ready! I’m going to town.

First! I saw this super-airbrushed, mega-painted truck at a rest area somewhere in France. I have yet to understand what gnomes at a swimming hole have to do with long-distance hauling, but nevertheless…behold!



In my town we have a fabulous movie theater, recently lovingly restored to all its art deco glory. If you’re ever in Lewisburg, make sure you catch a movie at the Campus Theatre. The art painted on the walls alone is worth the price of admission.

Feast your eyes upon its glory!

Feast your eyes upon its glory!

’tis the season. Lots of face paint. Me as a zombie, getting ready for a Zombie Run 5K. (Also, please note: the copyright is correct, as this was a selfie. An incredibly successful selfie, but a selfie nonetheless.)

My mother hates this photo.

My mother hates this photo.

Next! It was a lovely day at Montour Preserve, and this painted turtle was out for a bit of sun.

You're beautiful, baby. Don't ever change.

You’re beautiful, baby. Don’t ever change.

And finally. En plein air painters hauled their paints and their easels and their canvases up to the top of Whiteface Mountain to work on a painting of Lake Placid, a/k/a “The Gem of the Adirondacks”. Because…that’s easy? (OK, there is an elevator you can take. And it is very pretty indeed. But still.)

A photo of painters, painting the lake in the photo. This is SO. META.

A photo of painters, painting the lake in the photo. This is SO. META.

Thanks for checking out my photos! Enjoy the rest of Ailsa’s photo challenge participants…or play along, yourself! See you ’round the interwebs.

One Of My Favorite Pictures

This post? Short ‘n’ sweet.

Below is one of my favorite pictures that I’ve ever taken. It was taken in September, 2009 in Tours, France. I don’t know what I love most about this photo. The chalk artist is fantastic and looks like he’s straight out of central casting, but I think the best part of this shot is the dog.

Le chien est très fatigué.

Le chien est très fatigué.

Have a lovely day! Stay well rested.

Here’s the original, unretouched in any way, if’n anyone was interested.

It's still the dog that does it for me.

It’s still the dog that does it for me.


Travel Theme: Architecture

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is architecture, and…frankly…I’m not sure how I can rein myself in.  There are so many fantastic structures I’ve had the good fortune to see…let’s get started.

Staying close at home…as in, in my small-yet-groovy corner of central PA…dig this crazy squiggly fence!  Rumor has it a math teacher lives here and wanted a fence that would represent…some mathematical concept, don’t ask me, it’s not my thing.  But the fence design and execution?  Very cool.

I understand teh maths are at work here.

0.o I understand teh maths are at work here.

Next, we travel on to Cleveland.  This is taken from the walking pier that goes behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (sort of cool but didn’t live up to my expectations), looking back at the cityscape created by the HoF and the Great Lakes Science Center, to the right.  Further to the right, just out of the line of sight on the camera is Browns Stadium, which I would have loved to get into the shot because it’s a fantastic confluence of cultural relevance: music, the sciences, and a little sport for good measure.  But.  My lens wouldn’t do me that way.  I love the clean, modern lines of the buildings; it’s got that “City of the Future!” sort of look going for it, no?  All it needs are, like, hovercars flitting around in the air.  Or people in jetpacks.  Dare to dream.

Behold the Land of Cleve!

Behold the Land of Cleve!

Next, we go to Boston and feast our eyes on the John Hancock Tower.  I never really stopped to think about whether or not I was a fan of modern architecture, but you know…this building was designed by I,M. Pei’s firm  and it’s hard to argue with the gorgeous buildings he and his firm are responsible for.  The Hancock Tower, it’s so sleek!  It’s so reflective!  It almost disappears into the sky.

It's the tallest--and I am sure, the shiniest--building in Boston.

It’s the tallest–and I am sure, the shiniest–building in Boston.

Next, we globetrot across the pond to France and the stone beauty of the Chartres Cathedral.  Completed (-ish; it’s hard to determine when cathedrals are deemed finished because they’re ALWAYS work to be done) in the mid 12th century (so, somewhere around 1150, for those playing at home), the towers of the west façade were, at that time, similarly topped with gorgeous but not terribly ornate pyramid-shaped spires.  All things being relative.  Then a lightning strike started a fire on the north spire in 1506, causing the spire to have to be rebuilt.  In the intervening three hundred years architectural tastes had changed somewhat.  The north spire was fashioned in the much frillier flamboyant style of Gothic architecture that was de rigueur until about the 1530s.  And so?  One church, two similarly aged towers, two spires that reflect the changing artistic sensibilities that 300 years could bring.  Good times!

Flamboyant is the new black.

Flamboyant is the new black.

And finally…Venice.

Which I love.

You need to admire their architectural ingenuity, though I often imagine what the conversations about building this city must have sounded like.

Venetian 1:  Hey, we’ve got to get the hell away from these invading Huns! What do you think about those marshy pads of mud out in the middle of the lagoon?

Venetian 2:  I think they’re little more than really sucky mud.  They’ll barely support our weight.

Venetian 1:  I know, but that means it won’t support the weight of invading armies, either.  See?  And besides I’ve been thinking about that…I wonder if we could let the lagoon be a natural defense for us and while we’re out there, build some kind of a platform…

Venetian 2:  Like what, a raft?

Venetian 1:  Well, yeah, but you know.  Permanent.

Venetian 2:  Oh, right.  So you’re just going to “create” some land, or something?  And what do you propose to do?

Venetian 1:  Now, now.  Hear me out.  Here’s what I’m thinking, and I’m just going to throw this out there and see what sticks: how about we go to Slovenia and deforest all of the Kras region, plus some of Croatia and the southern bit of Montenegro, and then take all those trees and strip them into massive logs, right?  And then we sink them straight down, right into the muck and goo?  The water is so full of minerals that the wood won’t rot. In fact, it will anti-not-rot.  It will petrify.  And once all these channel islands have been reinforced with the pilfered forests of nearby countries, then we can build homes and palaces and cathedrals and a trade-and-spice empire the likes of which the world has never seen!  *mwah ha*  *mwah ha ha ha*

Venetian 2:  Papa Doge, you so crazy.  It’ll never work.

Venetian 1:  Oh, no..?  Is that a dare?

Venetian 2:  Worse.  It’s a triple-dog dare.

Venetian 1:  You’re on!

Sounds crazy, but it just might work.

Sounds crazy, but it just might work.

OK, just because I love it too much, here’s another picture.

No cars allowed.

No cars allowed.

~~~end scene~~~

Have fun checking out the rest of the architecture challenges on Ailsa’s page!

Travel Theme: Pathways

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is pathways, which of course is one of my favorite things because they’re inherently liminal.  Maybe I’ve got an overly-developed sense of romanticism about pathways and roadtrips…though I don’t think so…but I always think of that Fellowship of the Rings quote:

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

And so.

From an overpass looking down onto a train yard in Cleveland.


Westward bound.

In the park outside l’Orangerie in Paris.  Please note: the lady is carrying a parasol.  A parasol.  And I don’t care if it’s actually an umbrella multitasking as a parasol.  It’s still a parasol.

This picture delights me every time I look at it.

This picture delights me every time I look at it.

My niece and nephew, in training for future adventures down pathways of their own.  At Knoebel’s, one of the greatest amusement parks in all the land (not that I’m biased).

World's most controlled road trip.

World’s most controlled road trip.

The Grand Canal, Dublin, which connects Dublin with the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland and a major thoroughfare for…oh…pretty much all of time. Located right next to it? The Grand Canal Hotel (wonder where they came up with that name?), which was a pretty swanky spot to stay.  That was where I had literally the best and spendiest veggie burger I’ve ever eaten.


I was happy to have this sight greet us whenever we left our hotel.

And…home sweet home.  We have loads of enticing back roads around here just open to imagination and exploration.

Ever forward!

Ever forward!

What pathways have you taken?

Travel Theme: Light

The travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is…light!  Right on.  Let’s get to it.

At the local bar the other night, the bartender had an (uncustomary) array of candles set out on the bar. As I am the annoying person who likes to play with a camera when I’ve got a cocktail or two in me, I couldn’t help but play with the votive candles.

Maybe they don't set these out because I play with them.

Maybe they don’t set these out very often because I play with them.

When in France…check out the ladies in Chartres Cathedral, lighting votive candles in hopes of assistance from a higher power.

This lady looks so much like my boyfriend's mother, we gave her this picture for Christmas.

This lady looks so much like my boyfriend’s mother, we gave her this picture for Christmas.

In the next picture, I happened to encounter a student project in process, in which my friend Andy graciously agreed to participate.

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

This alleyway leads to the entrance of Zocalo, a fun Mexican restaurant and tequileria (get the Don Julio flight, cue chorus of angels) in Cleveland.  I spent a lot of time here.

Much fun was had here.

Much fun was had here.

And finally.  Check out the bored sound tech as he watches a triggered light-and-smoke effect at a Fear Factory show.

Yeah, rock & roll. Whatever.

Yeah, rock & roll. Whatever.

Thanks for checking this out!  Feel free to play along.

Happy travels!


Travel Theme: Pale

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? celebrates the subtle side of life, asking that we look at things that are pale.  I will spare you all pictures of my pasty white skin that burns to a cinder without adequate sunscreen.  You’re welcome.

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, in Rome, is more well-known for its portico, which is home to the Bocca Della Verita (the “Mouth of Truth”), made famous because Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck were charming while standing right next to it in the film Roman Holiday.  Everyone who visits sticks a hand in the Mouth, feigns relief that a mythical river god didn’t bite his or her lying hand off, and leaves.  The Basilica, however, is  lovely, and because everyone thinks the good touristy stuff is on the outside they leave after seeing the Mouth.  Consequently, it’s one of the few quiet places in Rome.  Along the upper walls of the Basilica you can see frescoes that have been dated back to at least the 12th century, but some of the paintings could go as far back as the 8th.  No wonder they’ve faded, but when you really think about it…for a 1200 year old paint job, these frescoes look pretty good.

A faded fresco at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

The faded frescoes at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

When George and I went to Keuka Lake a while back, we had a wonderful time, but it was rainy.  Quite gray, actually, and foggy.  Every.  Day.  Though you can rest assured that the weather did not for a second deter us from our wine tour.  Anyway.  While mucking around with my camera I took a bunch of pictures just to see how they’d turn out–out the open window, through the screen, through the clear glass with the screen pushed away.  Blah blah entertain myself entertain myself.  And so, that was how I ended up with the following picture of the soft-focus leaves and the misty trees on the opposite shore in the background.


Keuka in the rain.

Boston, my beloved city.  My penchant for wintertime northerly vacations pretty much determines that when I’m up there, I’m looking for things that involve being inside a structure with a working heating system (though to be fair, you could also say in the summer that my disdain for the heat, especially if it’s a humid heat, also drives me indoors.  Never happy, I guess).  Their Museum of Fine Arts is fantastic and fits almost any seasonal bill.  Huge!  There’s always something new to see.  And it covers everything from textiles to modern art.  In their ancients section, they have a repaired alabaster statue (part of it is missing and I assume is lost forever) of Egyptian King Menkaure, who built the last (and the smallest) of the Giza pyramids.  I love the cool almost-translucence of the stone.

Hiya, King!

Hiya, King!

When in Tours, do what any self-respecting tourist would do and get to their cathedral.  The Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours is a gorgeous place to spend a day.  It’s absolutely true (though I didn’t think so at first) that you most certainly can overdose on frilly architecture when you’re in France, but the Tours cathedral is worth toughing it out.  It’s got some crazy-awesome vaulting and gorgeous stained glass (bring binoculars to feast your eyes on the best of it).  It also had this solemn little nook lit by a single candle, which had a line of luminous marble plaques attached to the wall, all asking for some kind of saintly help or protection for their families.

Ummm, a little help over here?

Ummm, a little help over here?

And finally.  The Outer Banks in North Carolina are gorgeous.  They’re a series of barrier islands so there’s something wonderfully unmanageable and massive about being right at the edge of the deep blue sea.  Being on the beach at sunrise is about as easterly-facing as you can get, so you can feast your eyes on some pretty amazing early morning sights.  Especially if it’s a little bit cloudy and you’re there just before the sun actually comes up.  It helps if the universe provides you with a guy who’s surf fishing, for added photographic interest.  I adore this picture, how there’s only a little bit of the strong pinks of sunrise poking out, and everything is pale and calm and surprisingly serene looking.  Until you remember that waves store tremendous energy; an average 4-foot, 10-second wave striking a coast puts out more than 35,000 horsepower per mile of coast.  That’s a lot of wallop.  Glad the colors here can help us relax.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Stop on over and check out the rest of the travel themes on Ailsa’s blog.  But this is it for me, we’ve reached the end of my “pale” travel theme.

Oh yeah, one more thing, because I am a giant nerd.  A trailer, for Pale Riderone of the greatest Clint Eastwood movie ever (just sayin’).

Thanks for stopping by!

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Monotone

This week, Cee’s photo challenge is a celebration of monotone.  It can be particularly challenging to make something that’s basically one color interesting and eye-catching and quite frankly, most of what I looked at in my photos that would have fit this challenge?  Yawn.  But here are some of the ones I liked most, with some short explanations and/or descriptions.

Homemade caramel corn.

I was informed last year that Christmas won’t be Christmas without a supply of this stuff, so I am now locked into providing caramel corn for my family, for the rest of my natural life.  There are worse things I could have to do.  It is pretty darn tasty!

Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland

I really like that the land and the sky are basically the exact same color in this picture, and I love that this piece of land has such a tremendous tidal fluctuation that the water, well receded in this shot, comes up to the rocks at high tide.

We’ll spend the rest of this blog in France…

An alley, Paris.

The French seem to be enamored of buildings made out of the same building material, or at least the same color building material, for large stretches of area (more on that later).  So looking down an alley can be weirdly disconcerting, because the matchy-match on either side makes it seem almost like walking down an interior hallway from which a roof has been removed.  A very tall hallway, perhaps, but a hallway nonetheless.

At Chateau de Chenonceau.

On the grounds of Chateau de Chenonceau, an OMFG I must be dreaming sort of place, if ever I’ve seen one, there is a hedge maze.  It’s not an immensely tall, creepy, lurking death sort of hedge maze a la The Shining but rather, a charming little whimsical hedge maze that you could chase your intended around while flirting over the tops of the bushes.  There’s a groovy little cozy-ish, semi-organic-looking gazebo in the middle of the hedge maze, with all sorts of frilly plants at its border.  This is from that gazebo, looking over the hedge maze and capturing all sorts of greenness that abounds.

At the Eiffel Tower, Paris.

Remember how I said that the French like to use similarly-colored building materials?  Behold!  Paris, as seen from an observation deck of the Eiffel Tower.

Zinnia in the garden, Chateau de Chenonceau.

I got yer zinnia, riiiiight heeeeere.  Chenonceau also had a working replica of a 16th-century farm on its grounds, and they grow a tremendous amount of fruit and all the flowers used to decorate the chateau’s rooms.  This was on that farm.  It is one of the most perfect, most explodingly orange flowers I’ve ever seen.

. The Catacombs, Paris.

The average visitor isn’t allowed to use a flash in the Catacombs, since constant exposure to light could damage the structure of the remains of roughly 6 million people laid to rest under the streets of Paris.  So you’ve got to use your low-light setting instead.  This is what you get.  The quote is from Book X of the Aeneid translates as: Every man has his day, the course of life is brief and cannot be recalled: but virtue’s task is this, to increase fame by deeds.  More or less, of course, depending on how flowery the translator gets, and considering some of the translations I’ve read of this quote alone….hoo wee!  They can get flowery.

I really like this, partly because it reminds me that life is short and it is what we make of it.  And perhaps more importantly, it also highlights that we’re all the same color on the inside.  Can you tell if these bones belonged to someone black, white, Asian?  Yeah.  Me neither.

Some of these photos may be in the spirit of the photo challenge more than to the letter of it, but it was a lot of fun finding stuff.  Here’s the link to Cee’s challenge again, if you don’t want to scroll to the top of the page.  Check out the other photos!  Or you could, of course, decide to play along.

Thanks for stopping by!

Y! Challenge: A Flower in Tours

A few years ago we took a trip to see some friends, one of whom was running the Bucknell (University) in France program.  We split our week pretty evenly between Paris–which is magical–and Tours.  Tours is a gorgeous city in the Loire Valley, famous for its chateaux, its wines and its impeccable, perfect local dialect.  There are loads of great things to see in Tours; you can visit the flower market, ponder the monster statue, feast your eyes on Fritz the taxidermied elephant, and enjoy a cocktail and a snack and some dancing at the guinguette, which is the coolest outdoor bar I’ve ever been to.

But none of the above mentions have to do with the letter Y.  I’ll get there, I promise.

While I was in Tours we went to the museum.  Or more correctly, we walked the grounds surrounding the museum because it was a beautiful day and I don’t remember any of us wanting to be indoors.  There were a few things going on at this time to bear in mind.  While I was there I came across a planting of flowers that kind of-sort of reminded me of the chuckle patch from The Magic Garden, a TV show I used to watch when I was a wee paisleylass, so I had to record their presence for posterity.  I was just getting used to my camera and slowly-but-surely coming to realize that photography was well on its way to becoming a hobby of mine.  And I.  Dig.  Closeups.  Or side shots.  Or looking-upwards shots.  I like to try and look at things not necessarily how people view them all the time, which in the instance of flowers is straight on from the side.  Or just by considering one single, perfect bud at a time (though, photography people, I know we all love this).  And, black-eyed Susans are among my favorite flowers.  So Y is for Yes, Yellow flowers in a place I adore, on a day shared with great friends.


Kind of sort of the chuckle patch, only without the crappy jokes.


This post is for the “Y Challenge by Frizztext”

Because I love a good alphabet challenge

Photos: France, Again

I’ve been meaning to do this since my show went up at Spinfluence, 123 Market St.,  but I unfortunately didn’t get to it until now.  It’s still up, if you want to stop in and see it!  The show consists of some of my favorite photos (culled from more than 800, I would have been one of those dreadful old-timey party hosts if I had a series of slides and a projector…but I digress) from an amazing vacation in France, and all pictures are for sale through Spinfluence,570-768-8303, some size variations are possible.  Or you can just book a ticket to France and see all this for yourselves.  Don’t hold back, lovies.  You’ve only got one life.


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