Monday, June 29, 2009

Camping with the Family

I'll post more trip pictures, but this past weekend we went camping at Englishman River Falls, a couple of hours north of us here on the Island. We've had this on the calendar for a few months - if it doesn't get planned, it won't happen. On Saturday morning we played in the river - ooh, the water was ccccold! Stick races, plunking rocks in puddles and clambering over the river stones kept everyone happy for a long time.

Here's a photo of the falls - the river alters course 90 degrees here, falling into the chasm and then carving its way down the valley.

And my favourite camping partner. We went exploring a bit on our own on Sunday morning and found a sunny rock from which to watch the water swirl and ripple.

Food is a big part of camping - each family sub-group planned a meal so it wasn't a lot of work for anyone in particular. We had wonderful meals. Here's the youngest whipping up a batch of pancakes, bacon, strawberries, and maple syrup for breakfast.

The times I can spend with my family are times I treasure. I took books and magazines to read, but hardly opened them because we were exploring, talking, playing mini golf, talking, eating, walking, etc. We came home last night smoky and tired, but oh, so happy.
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A Little Castle in Bavaria

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was decidedly eccentric. He is known as "mad" King Ludwig. Mad he might have been, but he had great taste in architecture. He built three castles, Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, and Neuschwanstein (upon which Disney's castle is based). Linderhof, seen here, was his favourite castle and the only one completely finished.

Beautiful fountains and gardens surround the palace, including a grotto in which he built an artificial lake. His servants would row him around the lake in a small boat while he watched operas being performed on the small stage in the grotto. He was a great fan of Richard Wagner's music.

Intricate formal gardens shaped by boxwood hedges are set in some of the most beautiful countryside. A thousand shades of green mingle in rolling hills where small farms nestle.

A detail of the back of the castle, which faces an artificial waterfall. On hot summer days, the waterfall would cool the air and the breeze drifted into the open windows of Ludwig's bedroom behind the balcony shown. An ingenious air conditioning system.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Words to Inspire

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Few Days in Bavaria

From Paris we took the train to Frankfurt where we started our bus tour. Our first stop was the medieval walled town of Rothenburg, in southern Germany. This is Germany's best-preserved walled town, and in the Middle Ages, was a very large town, with about 6000 residents. After the 30 years war followed by the Black Plague in 1633, Rothenburg was left to itself and was thus able to preserve its 17th century state. There was no money to build new buildings so the old ones remained.

For the best view, we climbed the Town Hall Tower. The stairs started out like standard stairs, but soon became narrower and narrower, steeper and steeper, until at the very top, a ladder led out onto the extremely narrow ledge around the tower. But what fun!

And what a view! The red roofs of the town, higgedly piggedly crowded into the walls, and then

the green countryside beyond. Oh, it was beautiful! Lush and fertile land. This is one place I'd love to have spent more time exploring.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Le Petit Trianon

The palace of Versailles is sumptuous and opulent, grand in every scale. It's beautiful, but there's a place on the grounds of Versailles that I enjoy more. Still elegant and ornate, I can envision myself living here at "le petit Trianon" Marie Antoinette's retreat from the stifling etiquette of the formal court. The perfectly proportioned building is surrounded by quiet gardens, both formal and informal.

Walking into the main floor entrance, this staircase sweeps upwards. I was glad that I found a few seconds to snap a photo without people in it. I recently read that the stair railing was installed by Marie Antoinette after the Petit Trianon was gifted to her by her husband, Louis XVI. The building was originally built for Louis XV and Madame Pompadour as a pleasure house.

"You love flowers, Madame; and so I have a bouquet to give you." These are supposedly the words used by Louis XVI upon giving the Petit Trianon to Marie Antoinette. These white roses bloom in the gardens there.

It has been said that the Petit Trianon is "one of the most beautiful buildings in the world" (Cyril Connolly, Pavilions, 1962). I think it's just enchanting. This photo shows the detail of the ceiling in the Cabinet du Roi, where crimson draperies coordinate with the upholstery, and this frivolous confection hangs from the ceiling.

And here I am, in the Petit Trianon, wearing a Marie Antoinette themed necklace created by Joy of Cupid's Charm. Her work is beautifully done and I'd encourage you to click over to her site and take a look!
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Trip to Versailles

Versailles is one of those places that has always fascinated me. The grand schemes of Louis XIV who wanted a palace that would demonstrate his power and centralize his authority are evident in the sheer opulence of the place. And of course, Versailles became the world of Marie Antoinette, one of history's most interesting women, who showed her strength of character in the face of unspeakable horror and tragedy.

There is a lot of work going on at Versailles - here you can see the gilding of the palace roof on the left, contrasted with the plainer roof, not yet gilded, on the right.

Wonderful frescoes decorate the grand apartments. Not just pretty paintings, these frescoes send a message of power and of authority from the king to his courtiers and visitors. Louis XIV used mythology to convey his godlike status to others.

An intricately worked window latch continues the opulence. Everything that can be decorated is, with stunning effect. And here, the window frame shows the wear of years, that this was a place where people lived and loved, schemed and hated.

It's difficult to capture the grandeur of the Hall of Mirrors with amateur photography. For one thing, there are so many people in the palace. Here you can see some of the decor and the sparkling chandeliers through the mirror's reflection.

In Marie Antoinette's state apartment, floral fabrics abound. Elaborate tassels and passementerie form part of the draperies on the windows. It was so hot the day we were there, and I just imagined Marie Antoinette giving birth in front of the court in this room. History reports that she fainted from the heat, and her husband, Louis XVI pushed through the crowds to open a window allowing air to come into the room.

Check back in the next day or two for more about Versailles.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Words to Inspire

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

East West, Home's Best

After a 10 hour flight from Frankfurt, plus a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride from Vancouver, I'm home! What a wonderful time I had in Europe with my mom and my sister. There are sure to be lots of pictures to share in the next little while - I hope I don't overwhelm you with them.

This morning I woke up early (4 am) wide awake, so I've been loading my photos onto my computer and putting captions on them before I forget entirely where I was when I took them.

The above photo was taken in Paris - I really like the wrought iron, the windowboxes, the limestone buildings, the shutters, the decorations, etc. Sigh.

And of course...a corner of the Eiffel Tower. The construction makes steel look almost lacey!

I'm so very happy to be home. I have missed my family so much, especially my sweet husband. I'm sure I talked his ear off last night. And today we're celebrating Father's Day! I'll get to see all of my wonderful children.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Words to Inspire

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tiny Treasures

Miniature things are so appealing. As part of a swap for a paper artists group I belong to, I received this "too cute for words" altered matchbox from Katie. It was filled with a tiny tag, a Scrabble letter (which I see I missed in this photo), some pretty brads, a charm and an embellished stickpin. Katie did a wonderful presentation - she put the box into an organza bag, added another tag and tied it all up. I just love it!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

a note from the road

I'm writing this from Munich on a rainy night. My sister and mom and I spent three wonderful days in Paris, visiting Versailles, the Musee d'Orsay and wandering around the beautiful streets.

Then a train to Frankfurt and now we're on a bus tour throughout the Alpine countries. I've prepared several posts ahead just for fun, and today I managed to log onto my account and read them.

This evening I'm planning to spend some time sketching and painting in my room. The days are full with so many interesting and charming things to see. And the food! German salads are fabulous!

Words to Inspire

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Simple Summer Table

My daughter brought this linen tablecloth back from Estonia last summer. I love the white and natural tones, and the pattern. Paired with my rose china, and some freshly blooming roses from my garden, it makes a simple, pretty table.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ma Trousse de Voyage

I'm doing some traveling this summer and decided that I'm going to take along some art supplies. In the evenings, after a busy day, I enjoy writing in my journal. I've thought about taking it a step further and adding some sketches and doodles in colour. This time I'm going to do it. I stitched this little travel kit from a scrap of denim and a bit of ribbon in no time at all.

Unrolled, this is what it looks like - the colours are so inspiring.

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...