Category Archives: Travel

Mundane Monday: Light

CatherinePalaceHeaterI’m hesitant to use this photo for the Mundane Monday challenge because it’s not really mundane. But in context it sort of is. I took these pictures on a tour visiting the Catherine Palace in Pushkin near St. Petersburg in 2016.

The Catherine Palace has so much going on–the chapel, the facade, the gardens, the amber room, the Nazi destruction, the ongoing restoration–that taking a picture of a wall and a wall heater seems a little silly. But I did anyway.

This ballroom is splendid all around. It’s the sort of place that makes you think of Disneyland and Mad Ludwig. All that gold has to be fake, right? Or at least not quite real, conjured by a cartoon fairy godmother. You expect Mrs. Potts, the talking teapot from Beauty and the Beast, to pop out at any moment and finish the tour.

CatherinePalaceBallroom

But this is the real deal. Princesses danced here on cold winter nights, and the heat and gaiety kept the wolf at bay.

CatherinePalaceHarpsichordThese palaces, outposts carved from the forest in homage to the great cities of Europe, humanized the Russian royalty for me in a way that I had never considered before. Everyone wants a beautiful hearth, home, companionship.

Everyone needs a candle in the dark.

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Thursday Doors: Tokyo National Museum

So, I have come to my last doors from the trip to Asia. We spent our last few days in Tokyo, and I took a break from doors while we walked around the palace, went to Robot Restaurant and Tokyo Disney, and then we got to the National Museum.

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Doors here are ornate and orderly.

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These were the last interesting doors we saw before getting on the plane back to the States!

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This post is for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. 

It is the last in a series from my trip to Asia in the summer of 2017. Other posts from the same trip can be found here:

Seoul Walk

Downtown Seoul

Changdeokgung Palace

Hutong

Beijing City Wall

Palace Museum in the Forbidden City

Chinese Coke

Great Wall Shopping

Shanghai, Xintiandi

Shanghai, the Bund

Zhujiajiao, water town, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Lamps

 

 

Mundane Monday: Squares

The Mundane Monday Photo Challenge is under new leadership. The challenge was created by Trablogger an Indian travel blogger named Jithin from Kerala. After three years of linking to “mundane” photos from people’s everyday lives around the world, he handed it off to Dr K Ottoway, a rural physician in the eastern United States. (Reading that paragraph makes me smile. How else other than blogging can you meet people like that and not even have to leave your dining room table?)

SomersetSquareParkThe theme for this week’s Mundane Monday challenge is “All the Squares,” Dr. KO shows an interesting pattern in a fence. I have one like that too: Patterned Leaves, or this one on the left, a square lamp skirt in Somerset Square Park in Cupertino.

But she goes on to say that her post was inspired by this poem by AA Milne:

Whenever I walk in a London street,
I’m ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, “Bears,
Just look how I’m walking in all the squares!”

Square Paul Painlevé
Square Paul Painlevé, Paris France

Over the weeks I’ve been doing this challenge I’ve had to interpret the theme in creative ways. The poem’s reference to the streets of London helps me do that. “Square” is not just a sidewalk shape, but a town meeting point, a place of some importance. I’ve been walking in these squares too.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing China
Tiananmen Square, Beijing China

 

 

Thursday Doors: Zhujiajiao Part 3, Human Activity

This is the third installment of the doors of ancient water town of Zhujiajiao, near Shanghai. I grouped the pictures into three different blog posts. Part 1 showed doors right on the water.  Part 2 focuses on doors of different colors. Today I will show either actual humans or evidence of recent human activity.

Even in the rain, Zhujiajiao is busy and somewhat crowded. None of these storefronts is large and they are all on top of each other. Sometimes you need a clue where to go.

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Follow the arrow to lunch

Follow the lanterns and go upstairs.

The lions are pretty common but not ubiquitous. Sometimes it just seems like you need *some*thing on each side of the door in China.

 

Then there are the bikes and motorcycles, if you don’t have a boat.

The singer just outside the door.

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Or how about a caged bird? (The dog doesn’t care. He’s seen it all!)

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Lots of firewood (and plants).

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And an odd sculpture in front of a gallery. What is that sculpture supposed to be, anyway? A heart? Lips? A little red person with an abnormally big butt?

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And finally, how many people will understand the irony of what is written on this door handle?

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Thursday doors is a weekly feature in which door lovers share their pictures from doors all around the world. Stop by Norm 2.0’s blog to say hello and see some of the others.

Thursday Doors: Zhujiajiao, Part 2, colors

The ancient water town of Zhujiajiao really has a lot of doors! I grouped them into three different blog posts to try to give them some structure. Part 1 showed doors right on the water.  In Part 2, here, I planned to focus on doors of different colors. China in general and Shanghai in particular was a brightly colored place.

But once I had organized the pictures, I discovered a lot of brown. That was the color of the majority of doors in Zhujiajiao, and you can see that clearly even in part 1. The trim would sometimes be bright red, or more occasionally blue. But most of them were a rich, reddish brown color. So I grouped the brownest ones together here, and what might stand out more are the differences in shape and trim. Some doors certainly look a lot more welcoming than others.

And then there were the occasional different ones. Red. Blue. Teal. Gray. Aqua. (But even these tended to be juxtaposed with brown).

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Why so few red doors? Feng Shui may provide an answer. According to one article I read, red is the color of the South, and of the fire element. Building codes in ancient China stipulated that only high-ranking government officials could paint their doors red, which is one reason why red is associated with prosperity.

Whereas blue is associated with water, and with relaxation. And brown doors are associated with wood and earth elements, and with stability. Based on my very unscientific sampling, stability seems to be highly valued in Zhujiajiao!

Thursday doors is a weekly feature in which door lovers share their pictures from doors all around the world. Stop by Norm 2.0’s blog to say hello and see some of the others.

 

Thursday Doors: Zhujiajiao (part 1): water town

Zhujiajiao is a water town near Shanghai. It is located in Qingpu District, south of the Yangtze River. It is also called “The Venice of Shanghai” and features over 10,000 buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Many of those buildings have doors, making this town a perfect subject for the Thursday Doors photo challenge! I’ve divided my blogs about Zhujiajiao into 3 parts because I had so many pictures they all started to run together.

Part one is about doors right on or next to water. After getting out of the van from Shanghai, tourists walk down the sidewalks next to the canals into town. Boat operators offer canal rides.

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Many doors lead right onto the water.

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Some of the dining establishments have stairs leading from the canal where you can dock your boat.

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Others have canalside dining, either right next to the water, or on a balcony.

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It was cloudy and sometimes a bit rainy, but not cold. This view shows one of the Venetian-like bridges.

Venice of Shanghai

Thursday doors is a weekly feature in which door lovers share their pictures from doors all around the world. Stop by Norm 2.0’s blog to say hello and see some of the others.

 

Mundane Monday: Embassy Suites

I was out with my husband finding some geocaches near a creek in Milpitas for my daily streak (830 days as of this writing), and spotted this building in the distance.

The way the light shines on it through the clouds, the green hills around it, the dome, the river, the mist, all this made me think it might be something special. Maybe some rich Silicon Valley millionaire’s villa, or a folly building like a mini Hearst Castle. A winery? A high school? A museum?

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It turns out it’s an Embassy Suites hotel. I’ve never stayed there, but yeah, it looks nice.

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.

Thursday Doors: The Bund, Shanghai

This week for Thursday Doors, am continuing my series of door posts from my trip to Asia last summer. Last time I posted pictures of our tour of Xintiandi, a hip shopping tourist district in Shanghai.

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The Bund, on the Western Bank of Huangpu River, is the next stop on the tour. “Bund” means an embankment or quay. The buildings of the Bund are height restricted and built to look European. (There is even a clock tower that chimes like Big Ben in London!) They stand in contrast with the buildings on the opposite bank of the river, which boasts the modern skyscrapers of Lujazui in the Pudong District. Pudong is the location of the Shanghai Tower, as of this writing the world’s 2nd tallest building with the highest observation deck.

As I mentioned in the previous post about Xintiandi, we didn’t have great weather the day we were in Shanghai. Clouds can be seen below in the panoramic picture, and rain on the ground in front of the doors. These doors open into sober establishments like department stores, hotels, or banks. Many of them are labeled (so you can tell them apart?)

I took all of these pictures from the window of a moving tour bus, so the angles can get a little creative, but at least I stayed dry!

Even though there are no doors in these other pictures, I’m including them anyway, because no post about the Bund would be complete without a View from the Top of Shanghai Tower. The clouds add mystery to this view from above. The tower practically has its own weather:

TopofShanghaiTower

And a view of the Eastern Bank, taken from an evening river cruise.

PudongSkyscrapers

The Bund is a study in contrasts: the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, the two faces of Shanghai.

BundPanorama

Thursday doors is a weekly feature in which door lovers share their pictures from doors all around the world. Stop by Norm 2.0’s blog to say hello and see some of the others.

We are the World Blogfest: Strings for Haitian Musicians

This is the second year that the Musicians of the Utah Symphony (MOTUS), led by their music director Thierry Fischer, have gone to Haiti to teach young musicians there in an orchestra institute. Last year’s institute received coverage in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, and others.

Fischer said the students’ work ethic and eagerness to learn quickly dispelled any qualms about “talking about intonation when they don’t have a roof over their heads.” Beyond musical technique, he hopes the lessons learned at the institute strengthened skills and traits the students can use throughout their lives: “persistence, consistency, determination, discipline.”

–Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 2017

The Utah Symphony musicians are in Haiti right now for this year’s Institute, and are blogging about it here on Tumblr: MOTUS in Haiti.

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Kate (L) with Mercedes (R), the principal flutist at the Utah Symphony

A violinist friend of mine, Kate Little, pictured at left and on the Tumblr blog, collected used-but-usable strings to be sent along with the musicians in their luggage. The climate in Haiti is such that strings deteriorate quickly, so they can make good use of our old used strings that are still in decent shape.

Kate put out a call for strings in some online music groups that I am a part of and I collected them from friends and teachers and sent them on to Kate, who gave them to the traveling musicians to take in their luggage.

The collection of strings pictured here is a selection of what was donated by friends I play music with in local community orchestras. It includes violin, viola, and cello strings! My son’s cello teacher also gave me a large envelope containing strings, collected from her professional colleagues and her own closet.

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The orchestra under Maestro Fischer is currently rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony!

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We are the World Logo

We Are the World Blogfest,” posted around the last Friday of each month, seeks to promote positive news. There are many oases of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world. The #WATWB co-hosts for this month are:  Belinda Witzenhausen,  Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein,  Shilpa Garg, and Eric Lahti. Please check out their posts and say hello!

Thursday Doors: Xintiandi, Shanghai

Last summer I took my first trip to Asia with my family. Our itinerary was as follows: South Korea (Seoul), China (Beijing, Xi’an, Hong Kong, Shanghai), and finally Japan (Tokyo). I find travel blogging to be challenging without some guiding or organizing principle to follow, so I have been blogging about this trip periodically and showing pictures from it in my weekly photo challenge blogs, especially Thursday Doors. I don’t have any new doors this week, so I’m continuing with the trip. Continue reading Thursday Doors: Xintiandi, Shanghai