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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grand Central Station Holiday Light Show, NYC

There was a light show in Grand Central Station, projected onto the walls and ceiling and it reminded me of the light shows we saw in the Rocca Paolina in Perugia and I had to stand and watch and made this little film. Happy Holidays everyone!

Christmastime in New York City 12.8.07

Bob and I drove up to New York to spend the weekend with my brother and sister in law and we thoroughly enjoyed walking all over the city with them. They really know the city and they took us on a walking tour that included Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, the Village, all the shops around 34th Street - including the delightful Macy's window decorations among others and the fantastic Chelsea Market. We had dinner with them and my cousin Jim and his wife Evie at an Italian restaurant on Saturday and in Chinatown on Sunday and drinks in Pershing Square. We stopped in Rockefeller Center to meet up with friends of ours from Phoenix who were vacationing there. The drive up took about 3 hours and on Saturday morning there wasn't much traffic so it went smoothly. It was a lot of fun and we hope to do it again while they are still living up there, before my brother decides to retire! Here are a few of the sights we enjoyed:

The Chelsea Market in the former bakery complex of Nabisco (visit: www.chelseamarket.com to read all about its history and transformation into an upscale market)

Little Italy is getting littler all the time but it's still fun

Macy's does an amazing job of decorating for the holidays

One of New York's shop windows decorated for Christmas

One of my favorite window displays

New York City at Christmas

There is a temporary ice skating rink in Bryant Park

A view of the Empire State Building as beautiful as ever

Goodies from the market inside Grand Central Station

More goodies for the holidays

The Penny Harvest at Rockefeller Center. Visit www.commoncents.org to find out why school kids collected more than 100 million pennies!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thanksgiving in Milwaukee 11/2007

We awoke to a dusting of snow on Thanksgiving morning

Taking the stuffing out the turkey - a small one this year, 11 lbs. Bob says next year we have to make a bigger one so there are more leftovers! In fact, the turkey was so small it barely made enough pan drippings for me to make gravy and we sent Nick out for a back ups just in case! (I love the expression on his face as he watches her work!)

A visit to "The Domes" at Milwaukee's Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, all decked out for the holidays

Toledo's Cathedral

Our Lady Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral was completed in 1931 but looks much older. It has the elegance and attention to detail we found in many of the beautiful old churches in Europe. We were allowed to go inside only because they were expecting a funeral to arrive and the doors were open. It has been disappointing to travel through American cities and not be able to visit the churches as we used to do in Italy. It is not that we are religious, we view these places as works of art and admire the craft and workmanship we find inside.

Toledo's Historic Old West End

Just a few of the homes in Toledo's Old West End

Cathy and her restored Toledo mansion

The Glass Pavillion of Toledo Museum of Art

The postmodern Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art was designed by the Tokyo firm of SANAA ltd and has a very low profile across the street from the Museum of Art building. But its simple exterior belies a dramatic interior filled with curving glass walls creating a very transparent sensation that "blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces" to quote the museum's website. It houses over 5,000 works of art in glass from ancient to contemporary and in the center, you can watch artisans blowing glass or take part in a workshop. It's a stunning space and we learned all about Toledo's history as the glass capital of the world. Glass giants such as Libby and Owens Corning have their origins in Toledo and many fortunes were made here. Toledo also provided glass for the auto industry and has suffered a decline in recent years with manufacturing moving overseas and to Mexico. We were fascinated by the city's Historic Old West End, a 25-block neighborhood of late Victorian, Edwardian and Arts & Crafts Homes, that date back at least to the 1800s, many in dire need of restoration. We were lucky enough to meet the owner of one of these jewels who was kind enough to take us on a tour of the home she and her husband have painstakingly restored. Cathy told us that some of these huge mansion homes are on the market for around $200,000 or less - a bargain for what they offer. Of course the cost of restoration would probably be astronomical but for someone with time on their hands, it could be a labor of love that will pay off in the future.

Our time in Toledo was too brief and we really only spent the better part of the morning exploring the city after our museum visit. Jessica and Nick and Thanksgiving were waiting for us so we said our goodbyes to this really interesting American city.

The Glass Pavilion

Art Deco glass display

More glass from the museum's collection

Work of art entitled "Vitrana" created in 1969 by Dominick Labino, an American artist. It consists of 33 cast panels and weighs around 1,000 lbs. Visit the website at http://www.toledomuseum.org/Collection/Vitrana.htm

A glass blowing demonstation

It's Snowing!

This is our first snowfall in Delaware! It's so beautiful and turning into a winter wonderland. I'm just grateful we don't have to shovel it!

p.s. I haven't had a chance to post the photos from our recent trip that took us through Toledo, Ohio and some interesting things we saw there. So check back again!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge

The fall foliage was lit by the setting sun

That band of white is a huge gathering of migrating snow geese

Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge turned golden at sunset

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge 11.9.2007

(this is the post I wrote before Thanksgiving and didn't have a chance to post until now)

Late yesterday, after doing some shopping in Dover, around 20 minutes north of where we live, we decided to take a drive through the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a short distance away. Entering the refuge, we paid our fees for a day's visit ($4 per car) and proceeded to take the circular loop through this lovely preserve that is part of a chain of waterfowl refuges that stretches from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

We were awestruck by the overwhelming number of birds, swooping and following each other around and around -- at one point the horizon was literally filled with birds -- over the marshes and streams that make up this 15,978-acre refuge for migratory and wintering ducks and geese. The gravel path through the refuge winds through tidal salt marsh, fresh water pools, swamps, timbered and grassy upland and farms. Huge flocks of snow geese had gathered for a giant convention across the marshy area to the east of us, towards the Delaware Bay and it literally was as if a blanket of snow had fallen there, lit by the golden light of the setting sun. It was simply breathtaking.

The fall foliage is in its glory days now as reds, yellows and flaming orange trees decorate the roads and highways. In the refuge, the setting sun cast a spotlight on these jewels that too soon was extinguished. The weather turned colder without the warmth of the sun and it was time for us to go. But not without promising to return to watch this incredible drama again. We want to walk the nature trails, look out from the observation tower and learn more about these birds: the egrets, herons and the glossy ibis, ducks and geese, bald eagles and hawks as they stop here during their spring and fall migrations.

Here's a website you can peruse: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/bombayhook/

Enjoying our life in Delaware,
Rosemary & Bob

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We just want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you are heading out for the holiday. We have more things to show you and tell you about like our trip to the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge at sunset, watching huge flocks of migrating snow geese. We're new to this birdwatching stuff and don't have the lingo down yet, but it was amazing.

Happy Turkey Day!

We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving with our daughter and son-in-law and our traditional menu will consist of one big turkey with my homemade gravy, Bob's Mom's recipe for bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams (boiled, then sliced thin, spread with butter and brown sugar and baked till the butter melts and turns the tops cripsy and sweet), peas, cranberry sauce and rolls, followed by apple and pumpkin pies and a nap! It will be wonderful to be with family after living in Italy for two years. Thanksgiving was a bit strange for us and we found ourselves explaining this holiday to our Italian friends who had heard of it but didn't quite know what it was all about!

Here's an interesting website for our non-American friends http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/feast/
and this one: http://www.pilgrimhall.org/f_thanks.htm


Saturday, November 10, 2007

At the Children's Museum

A fun time was had by all at the Richmond Children's Museum.

Kyla really enjoyed choosing materials, cutting & gluing - the process, not the product!

Gram and Kyla in the Apple Car

In the "soft rocks" area, snuggling

The artist at work - she really loves painting

Playing Grocery Store - ALL the kids loved this role-playing area

She loves to sing. These big cymbols outside the museum made a great echo-y sound

Halloween, Richmond, VA 10.31.2007

Our little Kitty had fun getting all face-painted

Grandmother Witch (not very scary, but it was fun!)

Kyla really loves her Daddy

She is really at good sharing

Heading out to go trick or treating

Friday, November 9, 2007

South Carolina (next to our last stop)

(this is the final leg of our trip to Arizona, which concluded with a stop in South Carolina and finally Richmond, Virginia in time for Halloween with Kyla!

Greenville, South Carolina. We enjoyed wandering around this lovely downtown with Carrie.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Eating beignets at Cafe Du Monde with a cafe au lait. Yummm

Blue Door in the French Quarter

A Garden District mansion decorated for Halloween

GUMBO! at the Gumbo Shop in N'awlins

New Orleans wrought iron balconies dripping with greenery and decorated for Halloween

San Antonio & Houston, Texas

Remember "The Alamo"? This is it. I had to buy a coonskin cap for Kyla (although at 3 yrs old she certainly has no idea who Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone were!)

Riverwalk in San Antonio, relaxing after a seafood lunch

Tour boat gliding along San Antonio's Riverwalk

At the Space Center in Houston they have full size mockups of the different modules of the Space Shuttle with “dummy” astronauts. This thing is HUGE!

A scale model of the Space Station floats in the ceiling at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We were astonished at how enormous it actually is. (see model of the Space Shuttle “docked” on the left side. The museum was really interesting. Check out their website: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/about/index.html

More travel stories (Traveling across the U.S. cont'd))

We spent the night in Fort Stockton, Texas only because it was the right distance away from San Antonio, its Riverwalk and a visit to the Alamo. We arrived at the Alamo - now in the middle of the city and surrounded by the outer walls of the fort that once stood there alongside it - just in time to hear the story of how the Texans stood up to the army of Santa Anna and went down in a blaze of glory that led to Texas's independence from Mexico - even though the Texans had sworn allegiance to Mexico in exchange for the cheap land they were given. Here's an interesting site I found on the history of this event: www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/alamo/filmmore/fd.html

The Riverwalk in San Antonio was as lovely as we had imagined and is lined with tall trees, restaurants and shops - a beautiful way to spend an hour or so. Houston is only about two hours away and that was our goal for the night, staying with Larry and Shelly, American friends we met in Italy who own property there in Massa Martana. We toured the Johnson Space Center and they gave us a quick tour around Houston, a city that deserves further exploration. A late lunch at Galveston Bay while the sun was going down and large pleasure craft floated by was one of the highlights. We capped off the day at a local Houston bar listening to the sounds of an Austin band named "Guy Forsyth".

Next stop New Orleans - just a taste of this old city. We spent the afternoon walking around the French Quarter enjoying the lively streets, the plants and flowers spilling down and over the wrought iron balconies and peering into shops filled with voodoo paraphernalia and all sorts of interesting stuff. Lunch at the Gumbo Shop was a must for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of my chicken and anduille sausage gumbo. We grabbed a seat at the Café Du Monde and shared a plate of beignets, those wonderful fried doughnuts covered in powdered sugar and a scrumptious Cafe Au Lait. We took the bus (the streetcar unfortunately is still not up and running its full route since Katrina) to the Garden District and wandered around admiring all the big mansions that line Charles Street.

On the road again the next morning with a planned stop to visit friends from Phoenix, Carrie and Ken who now reside with their two lovely daughters in Piedmont, South Carolina, a short drive from Greenville and its revitalized downtown and river walk.

Thanks to all our friends in Arizona and beyond who treated us to meals and allowed us free and easy access to their homes: Liz and Mike, Diane and Michael, Ann and Bill, Shawn and Stephen, Jeff and Janet, Art and Chris, Maha and Nabil, Dennis and Peggy, Mary and Dick, the gang at P.S. Studios.

Thanks to our family as well for putting us up and putting up with us: our daughter Jessica and son-in-law Nick, my sister Suzanne and nieces Sam and Maddie and our son Chris, his girlfriend Lisa and our precious Kyla. Halloween was a blast (photos to come) and we were even lucky enough to have our granddaughter all to ourselves the day after at the Richmond Children's Museum! Life is good.

Now we're home in Delaware, resting and recuperating from all this travel and glad to be back in our own little corner of the world. It rained yesterday. The storm that was headed up the east coast touched us here too but barely. The trees are still changing colors and fall - with colder temperatures - is definitely here. Yesterday in spite of the weather we went to Dover to a Book Fair and listened to a group discussion on book publishing. Interesting stuff we couldn't pass up. Today we are laying low. Going through the piles of mail that were waiting for us, perusing magazines and catalogs that accumulated. From my studio window I can see the sun going down and neighbors out walking their dogs. Geese are honking and flying overhead, going south I guess. I think I'll go see what I can throw together for dinner.

Thanks for reading. We hope you've found something interesting here. We know it's not Italy but we're still looking for adventures. Stay tuned.

Rosemary & Bob

Along the El Paso Mission Trail

Cotton Fields in El Paso, Texas

The Historic El Paso Mission Trail

These landmarks are privately owned by the Catholic Diocese are are actively supported by the local parishes. They are listed on the National Register of Histoic Places.

Mission Ysleta, the oldest continuously active parish in Texas. The first Mass was said here in 1680 when the Spaniards built a temporary mission church. It was rebuilt after floods in 1740 and 1744. The present structure dates to 1851 and 1897 when the beehive dome tower was added.

Mission Socorro. The first permanent mission was established by the Franciscans in 1691 when the parish consisted of sixty Indian families and fifteen Spanish ones. Those same floods destroyed the original structures and it was rebuilt in 1843. The beautiful ceiling consists of decorative, carved cottonwood and cypress beams salvaged from the original.

Presidio Chapel San Elizario. The present day chapel was built in 1882 but a presidio (a fortified settlement) was established here as early as 1684 and included a small chapel.