Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rock Hounds in the Bathroom

I hate to admit it now, but Earth Sciences was the most boring science class I took in high school. And I flubbed the practical exam where the instructor asked us to identify a bunch of rocks. Hey, they were just rocks, right?

Since then my love of geology has never approached the level of professional excellence like my professional friends at Falcon Geodetic  or the scientific expertise at But I know a pretty rock when I see one. And this museum had cases and cases of pretty rocks from all over. Marble, malachite, quartz, and many beautiful varieties of each.

And what thought comes to mind when faces with so many pretty tiles? Why, a custom tiled bathroom, of course.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Well Dressed Egyptian Woman

I love diamonds when the jewelry store shines their special lights and make them sparkle. But for daily wear semiprecious stones like jade, lapis lazuli, malachite, amber and turquoise have the power to brighten up the wardrobe. Just like me, the Egyptian women found this jewelry essential for a well dressed afterlife.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Egyptian Common Jewelry

Not all Egyptian jewelry was made of gold. This necklace, though made of common materials, has a certain elegance in the way the beads are strung. It could also provide protection from the hot Egyptian sun. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nyummy Gnocci Time

I enjoyed gnocci (pronounced na-yoe-kee) twice in Switzerland. Each dish was delightfully different from the other. Gnocci are small potato balls boiled and drenched in a delightful sauce. This dish was a mild curry with a saffron accent.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pottery to Die For

Death, though rarely welcomed, will always be with us. What changes through the ages are ceremonies and traditions. During Hellenistic times the ancient Greeks honored their dead with funerary urns. These were four feet tall an painted with elaborate scenes from life and mythology.
Courtesy if the Museum of Antiquities in Basel.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Amazon Battle Urn

Before the online store, Amazons were fearsome bands of warrior women. While Xena Barbarian Princess wore shapely leather armor, the Amazons of history wore armor comparable to the Greek soldiers of the time. In battle they gave as good as they got.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Horse's Necklace

When I came across this in the Museum's weapons room I admit to being puzzled.

Perhaps a belt? But that wouldn't work with the body armor.

Arrowheads? Some are too round and the sizes are all different.

Then I found a description if the exhibits. This had been part of an Etruscan warrior's horse barding. The horse must have looked magnificent in his necklace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What the Well Dressed Gods are Wearing

Las Vegas showgirls are known for their elaborate headpieces. But why should girls have all the fun?
But could a mere mortal man carry himself with the grace and poise such headwear demands? Oh no, only a god could pull this off.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Lady's Hair

The women in the classic Star Trek TV show wore fabulous elaborate hairdos. Perhaps Yeoman Rand's hair was styled after this ancient beauty.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beautiful Bruschetta

Fresh bread, firm tomatoes, and just the right seasoning. The proprietor of this Swiss Pizzeria spoke no English , but we communicated in the language that is universal.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Classic Cars in Basel

This beauty Is three times the size of your average European subcompact. The lines are different from the classic American cars I'm used to, but breathtaking nonetheless.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eating Greek in Switzerland

In Basel, about halfway between Messeplatz and the Rhein, is the largest department store I have seen in Basel. Upstairs you'll find fine women's clothing ranging from the conservative dark blazer to the stylish jacket and pretty skirts. Downstairs is a large upscale grocery store. Among the offerings is a case of remade salads.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rembrandt in the Flesh

In high school and college classic art and history held about the same level of appeal to me. Boring timelines and pretty little pictures, but no space ships.
Things changed when a saw a life-size portrait of George Washington at a traveling Smithsonian Museum exhibit. Seeing full life-size Rembrandt paintings at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam had the same life-changing effect on me.
Rembrandt only used a pallet of 16 colors, but he created those pigments himself by grinding up things like carbon black in a mortar and pestle and mixing in just the right amount of oil. Any paint not used that day was stored in pig's bladders to be used tomorrow. and despite what seems to us crude techniques, he created masterpieces with the power to capture our emotions hundreds if years later.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Traveling With Other People's Cildren Part 2

The train from Zurich to Basel, Switzerland is about an hour's ride.
When a father and his four year old daughter sit in the seat across from you , one holds one's breath wondering what the next hour will bring.
This strong-willed, self-confident little girl was a delight. Watching her play with her Daddy was both entertaining and heart warming. When the train ride ended she even spoke a few words of English to me. As I handed her the tippy cup she turned away from she said "Oh, I almost forgot!"

Monday, September 22, 2014

Traveling with Other People's Children

A common trans-Atlantic traveller's fear is that crying baby who keeps you up the entire 10+ hour flight. As my flight from San Francisco to Zurich began my fear was realized. The toddler two seats up began to howl.
Sigh...put in the earplugs and hope for the best.
To my surprise the howling stopped a few minutes later and the toddler and his older brother played happily and quietly for the rest of the flight.
Until the descent into Zurich. That's when I realized the poor little guy's ears must be hurting because of the cabin pressure changes.
Lessons in love come in many forms.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stay 3 weeks and the Candy is Frer

Switzerland is famous for it's chocolates and rightly so. Lad each is not only beautiful and tasty, but poetic as well. "It is like a walk through the Black Forest" and other fanciful phrases describe each chocolate. A welcome reward after a long day with my client.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shotcha - Frame That Travel Shot

When you are traveling and something catches your eye, snap a photo. You can bore your friends with it when you get home. But how do you make that photo capture them the way the scene caught you? Take a picture that tells a story. Consider this photo and what it says to you. Park art? Big round thing? Rusty old piece of junk? Or a representation of oneness crippled, and carried on the shoulders of no man?
 Frame the shot a little differently and it tells a different story. The simple park, the small earth, dwarfed by the works of man.

The wagon wheels of the worker who, slaving under the hot sun, looks longingly at the manor house with the hope of a cool drink and dinner when the day's labor is done.

 The child's toy rolls out of control toward the warning barriers. 

So give it a try. The next time something catches your eye, look at the things around it and decide what story you want your photo to tell.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Eating Well in Basel

Restaurants in Switzerland are very expensive and slow. The average dinner is 35 CHF and takes between an hour and a half and two hours. For a quick low cost meal look for a tiny market and pick up a loaf of bread, some cheese and fruit. On a warm day enjoy a picnic BT the Rheine river. Bon appetite.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Raspberries and Cream

Who says you have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a luxurious desert? We bought raspberries on sale at SaveMart and a pint of heavy whipping cream.
Once the cream was whipped in my Kitchen aid I filled a pastry tube with the cream. I squirted a dab of cream into each raspberry and filled a Sunday dish with berries and cream. Voila! Simply, inexpensive and very tasty.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rijsmuseum - Rembrant Anyone?

My first thought when I planned my business trip to Amsterdam was "Why would anyone want to go there?" Legalized marijuana and prostitution seem to be among its claims to fame which no doubt appeal to many, but not me.
Browsing through a tour book a few famous names caught my eye - Rembrandt, Monet, Van Goght, Van Dyke and so on. Dutch painters, right! So I started at the Rijksmuseum, bought my Museum card, and spent every spare minute enjoying many of man's greatest expressions of emotion and beauty.

Tomato Time - Think Global

Last year I had an abundant garden full of Archie Millet's AGE tomatoes - Archie's Good Eat in'. This year I patiently tended the little plants, watching the green tomatoes start to grow. Sadly, upon my return from Europe I found that Bambi, his mother, sister, aunts and cousins had stripped my tomatoes down to the stems.
But God provides. At Church this week two friends invited me to share in their bounty. Rachel's garden gave me tomatoes from France, China, Japan, Russia, and plenty from the USA. Beth's garden is overflowing with AGE. Break out the canning jars.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Netherlands Specialty

Croquettes are a hot, hearty Netherlands dish. You can choose a variety of fillings from beef and gravy to more spicy chicken fillings. Be careful on that first bite!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Goodbye Basel - Rats, I Forgot My Camera

Tonight is my last night in Basel, Switzerland. It's a bittersweet night.

I am very excited to be going home to my family.

Yet there are many things I'll miss. I've made some great friends at work. I've seen incredible museums across the spectrum. I've enjoyed Movenpic  the best ice cream in the world (except for Leatherby's toasted almond, of course.) And I've stood by the Rheine river watching the water, boats, and people flow by.

Having seen so much, I decided to leave my camera at the hotel and just enjoy the warm fall evening. What could be new enough to be worth photographing after six weeks  in town?

Silly me.

Barf├╝sserplatz was quiet at first, just me and my last Movenpic ice cream. As I walked away from the restaurant I heard drumming and clashing cymbals across the way. Walking towards the alley (hand casually clamped over my wallet) I saw a Chinese dragon doing the dance I usually only see on Chinese New Years. And no camera. Sigh.

I enjoyed the walk back to my hotel and my last walk across the Rheine. A few blocks from my hotel I saw my first Swiss cat. And no camera. It was a long white cat with large black spots and too skittish to visit with, unlike the relaxed Dutch cat I met at the Hermitage Museum in Asterdam.

The moral of my story? When travelling, ALWAYS carry your camera. You never know what surprises lurk around the next corner.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Low Bridge, Everybody Down

The Amstel river is a gentle Netherlands river. Children swim and play as small barges and pleasure craft make their way to their destinations. Drawbridges are rare where I live, so I found this a charming diversion while waiting for my bus.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gee Wilikers

Maybe not so common a saying these days, but the G. Wilikers shop is alive and well in Solving, CA.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Retro Sci Fi

A table fun of retro-looking electronically equipment reminds me of being a kid and watching late night science fiction movies from the 1950's. After I grew up I met and worked with the men who invented and used equipment like this.
These items were "white elephant" items pulled out of storage for the annual  Sierra Foothills amateur radio club fund raiser.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here I Am in Switzerland

There are two train stations in Basel - the SBB on the South and Basel Bad on the north. It is a practical train station with no elaborate architecture. Basel Bad station is a few blocks from the Rhine and you will find hotels, shopping, restaurant s and a bank to help you pay for it all.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Basel SBB Train Station

If you've seen photos of a beautiful European train station, Basel SBB may be the one. The escalator to street level opens vistas of elegant arches with ornate carvings, a mural of Lake Luzerne, and a fanciful pink train car. On the street you will find taxis and trams to help you start your adventure.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Palo alto garlic noodles

There are some parts of town where restaurants abound and others where they are nestled away nearly out of sight. This was one if those. The entrance is in back, but is elaborate. The inner court is protected from street noise by a contemplation pool. And the food us wonderful. I enjoyed creamy garlic noodles with tender chicken.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

International Pizza and Soda Pop

When traveling by train from Amsterdam to Basel one does get thirsty. While local wines are plentiful, I prefer to enjoy the local soda pop. Bionade is a lightly sweetened orange and ginger drink. Like most European drinks, it is lightly carbonated and served only slightly cooler than room temperature.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jaigershuis aan de Amstel

When you visit Amsterdam consider staying outside the city in Ouderkirk (outer church) aan due Amstel. This lovely village straddles the Amstel river.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dining on a budget? In Switzerland?

Basel is a beautiful city. Ir's a lovely mix if old and new. A McDonalds sits across the street from the train station. And the price of Royal Burger combo with fries? A mere 13 Swiss Franks - about $13.50 U.S.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spiders at the Mall?

Strolling through The Palladio I saw a puzzling statue ahead. It seemed to have too many legs with knobbly bits up and down them. But a spider? In an upscale shopping mall?
As I neared the corner I realized what it was: two horses, stylized with very narrow hooves. I guess I'm watching too many fantasy monster movies.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Southwest Eggrolls?

Different. Spicy. Sweet. Claim jumpers has blended East and Southwest into a tasty appetizer.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Simple but satisfying on a Cold Day

Soup and salad is often a favorite for those with light appetites. At Claim Jumpers even this light choice is a hearty meal.
The Potatoes Cheddar soup is a delightful, creamy blend with just enough vegetables to add depth.
The cornbread and honey butter is moist and satisfying.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Second Car

I was a teenager. I needed a new car. My Mom had totalled my first car. (Don't even go there.) I took a friend to help me car shop. He saw the beautiful used Chevy Nova, new upholstery, 4-on-the-floor, and it was love at first sight.
HE  didn't have to drive it to college.
After almost two years of being stranded unpredictably, my boyfriend offered to buy it from me. It would be his project car.

It was a project, all right.

But seeing this beautiful classic car today was still very exciting. They just don't make them like they used to.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do You Have the Time?

This beautiful clock tower graced Copenhagen Square in Solvang, CA. When it strikes the hour you are serenaded with a beautiful Bell chorus.