January 28, 2013
We drove up the coast headed for Galveston. We stopped at a BUC EES, I think that is how you spell it. I saw a huge billboard advertising genuine Czech Kolaches. Well, as y’all know by now, I’m a foodie. If I haven’t tasted it I gotta try it. They had sausage and jalapena, sausage, sausage and cheese and ham and cheese. Well, guess what a kolache is just a Czech name for a sandwich. These were not even good sandwiches. White, pasty bread, the sausage itself was good, but the cheese was Velveeta or its cousin. People must love them, but I’ve never been a sandwich person and these were mundane. (They are eaten heated.)
We drove past miles of beautiful beach. Jim commented how nice it is that Texas has many beach exits for people to enter the beach. They didn’t allow private builders to gobble it all up and prevent the public from enjoying the beach like in Florida and many places in California. But it is January and people were swimming out there? I guess I have to try it, because the weather is warm enough.
We waited downtown for about three hours to get permission to park in a very crowded American Legion. We waited happily catching up on our reading, but the trees wanted to scrape the top, the place was busy and narrow. In the end, we moved 15 miles to the mainland and found this friendly VFW, post 8248.
We had a couple of drinks and had fun visiting with Kathleen and Denise. Denise told me about a new food to try. The Spanish call it barcoda. I won’t tell you what it is until we find and taste it. Hey, gotta keep up my reputation for trying new foods. Denise is the Commander of an American Legion Post and a member of this VFW. Fun gals. Kathleen is hoping to hit the road some day.
Since this is a short blog, I thought I’d tell you about a Port Aransas wedding. Weddings can be very personal. I once saw a wedding invitation posted on a light pole in downtown Murphys. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but it read, Sandy Bristow has finally gotten Ricky Sanders out of the bars and off the streets of Murphys. Come join us for the event at Murphys Park, etc. etc. with a picture of Sanders with a lasso around his neck and his new bride in a cowboy hat and boots.
I read about the Port Aransas wedding in the Coastal Bend’s Community Magazine. Because it was Halloween, it was a two day wedding. The setting was a Port Aransas Beach Lodge described as laid-back and casual, nestled in the sand dunes with a commanding, panoramic view of the Gulf with awesome sunrises. The day before the wedding, gaiety started as the sun began to set. Guests donned their Halloween costumes and went off in rented beach carts for a fab dinner at LaPlaya. Afterwards, in full costume, they set off for the Salty Dog where they drank and danced . The next day, they hired a boat and went on a two-hour cruise. Entertaining land locked guests with the beauty of sky, sea and sun with dolphins playfully posing and following the boat enraptured them. Back at the lodge, the guests enjoyed a scavenger hunt, a white elephant party and a final ceremony at sunset on the wharf. The dinner was a crab boil with champagne.
Sound like fun? Wow!
July 19, 2012
We arrive in a very crowded Wuhan City, population 10 million with another 6 million surrounding the city. It has temperature extremes with hot tropical summers and snow in the winters. It is considered one of the furnace cities of China. Vicki has a friend here who owns a Citron. He works for the factory, he has company housing and can park his car on the roof of the plant. Here we see American brands everywhere, McDonalds, Michelin, Milky Way, KFC. People love KFC, Vicki tells us. Merchants here do knockoff designs, very smart Gucci bags, Rolex watches and other designer goods. If caught, they pay heavy fines. We pull into our Shangri La Hotel and police stop our bus. It seems Jacque Chirac, the President of France is in town and we had to by-pass the hotel and have the porters come to the bus. Secret Service all over the place escorted us up the sidewalk to a freight elevator, then to another elevator into the hotel. We could not take pictures and were asked to leave our cameras in our rooms. We had a great dinner and got to taste dishes typical of the area, a huge sea bass, some special potatoes in broth, a sticky rice with pork and eggplant, a marvelous juicy dumpling with tasty meat and vegetables inside. Cuisine from this area is considered one of the major cuisines of the world. We could see why. Everything was delicious.
The next day, on our way to the Wuhan Provincial Museum, we see a bride and groom in a bright red Volkswagen. People marry on even days. They pick a lucky day and a lucky time.
The revelers followed in a decorated open truck. Weddings have become westernized. The man proposes and puts a ring on during the wedding ceremony. The bride will wear a western type wedding dress and a cocktail dress for the reception. Old Chinese women wear rings but they have nothing to do with their marital status. Chinese joke: The groom used to jump over a broom. Now they say, we love each other but we haven’t swept together yet. Ha, Ha!
Vicki tells us that in the 1970′s a person wanted his own watch, his own bike and a sewing machine. A man had to earn 50 yuan a month before he could get married in Mau’s planned society. People needed a coupon for oil, pork, or cloth and most fairly basic commodities.
People in the 1980′s wanted TV’s, refrigerators and washing machines.
People in the 1990′s wanted a private telephone, a CB or Ham radio and they got mortgages starting in 1998.
Now people want cell phones, cars, houses and computers. The government controls TV and the internet. But, after the technician installs it, you hire another guy to unblock it. There are 10 provincial channels, 40 others from the government. Foreign TV is not allowed but you can pirate it easily, Vicky tells us. They will crack down and block the internet in the future, she predicts. It is just too much freedom and will give people corrupt ideas.
We arrive at the Provincial Museum. As always, everything is ornately decorated, though this 350,000 year old city, was bombed, and flooded and destroyed over many years of conflict including Japanese and revolutionary warfare of Sun Yat Sen. In 1911, the uprising led to the fall of the Quing Dynasty and the emergence of the modern Republic of China, right here in Wuhan City.
The area is noted for its intellectuals; poets, writers, and artists. They specialize in bronze and gold, interesting garden design, bridges and buildings, very contemporary. Our city guide, Harry, teaches us the word for cold beer, bing peejo. We would like to have a good beer here. It hasn’t happened yet. Mostly a weak rice beer that is wet. Ditto the wine.
The centerpiece of this museum is an ancient tomb unearthed in 1978.
The huge timbers covering it since 430 B.C. are incredibly intact. Inside was the remains of the Marquis Teng and 13 of his concubines. There were thousands of artifacts, much of them musical, zithers, flutes, drums, whistles. Bells that could produce two separate tones. Ancient musical scripts that are still used today.
The bronze work was extraordinary, very ornate and beautiful. Everything here is under glass and almost impossible to photograph with my meager skills and first digital point and shoot.
This is how the aristocracy served wine. From a vessel with dual handled dippers.
The dippers were made of bronze and gold.
Much talented ancient Chinese craftsmen made these intricate carved legs and decorations in bronze. This vessel has an inner bowl so that ice or hot water could surround the food to keep it warm or cool on the serving table. And we thought that was a fairly modern idea.
The ancients had developed a special lacquer ware then as well.
On this sophisticated triple bell, musicians can play Ode to Joy, by Beethoven and Adelweiss. Harry, our city guide, sings Adelweiss for us in a very silvery voice to demonstrate the versatility of this amazing bell.
I found it interesting that this ancient bell looks like those of later centuries. The pattern carried through many generations. Later in the evening, we attend a concert on a replica set of bells as those found in the tomb.
During the concert, the musicians played typical Chinese music, but also demonstrated classical music from Irving Berlin and other composers. What a trip to see another what is considered “8th Wonder of the World” this magnificent bell.
There is also a legend that got started about the tomb, Harry tells us. It was opened in the dead of winter with snow on the ground, and somehow the story got started that a couple of butterflies hatched and flew from the tomb when it warmed up.
From Vicki we got a list of movies about China considered very good. Balzar, The Little Chinese Seamstress, Raise the Red Lantern, Mostly Martha, Zellany. Also the book River Town. I thought Keys To The Kingdom was a fascinating look at China through the eyes of a priest. Also made into a movie.
Tomorrow, another UNESCO city.
October 28, 2010
I have an original of this photo of my great grandfather and his siblings. The French way is to leave a space for a loved one deceased as you can see in the back row.
About 15 years ago, I took my 35 millimeter camera and zeroed in on individuals in the picture using 400 speed film with a 55 millimeter lens. My equipment was not expensive, professional stuff, but they turned out quite well and scanned well, too. I like the idea of getting a closer view of my ancestors faces.
In 2004, at a family reunion, my cousin allowed me to choose from among her mother’s pictures and had them made for me. They were beautiful black and whites. I hadn’t looked at them in several years and much to my dismay, discovered they were like proofs, beginning to fade and chemically turn purple. I have no idea where she had them done but the paper seems to be quality photo paper. My point is, check your vintage photos. Since digital arrived on the scene, computerized photo reproduction may not be as stable as in the old days.
Some of the snap shots are quite small. Even so, they show up quite well on a full computer screen, and better yet on your television.
When Jim did his family slide show, he hooked his computer to their family television set. Without too much difficulty, most newer television sets will accept a connection. Then the family enjoyed the show together.
Color pictures are also digitally rewarding. There was a time when I would have considered this method of rescuing pictures as inadequate because I envisioned losing them in cyber space. Now, I know different. I can actually edit them in a computer program and enhance the originals, yet your computer saves both the originals and the enhancement. I haven’t done that with any of these family photos, but I have recently learned to do that with my current photos and I like the improvements.
Plus, you can save then to a disc where the pictures do not tear or fade and hand them out to other family members economically. You can print them out from your disc and also give a slide show from the disc inside your computer. Be warned that anything saved on a disc needs to be re-saved in 10 or so years. Disc quality is not yet permanent, although I’ve been told there is an archival quality disc now available.
Saving your old and current photos on computer into separate “albums” allows you to be creative and separate a temporary “show” from a permanent one; to view a specific event like your grand kids soccer game, or a graduation or wedding. You can selectively mix pictures from one event with another event if you choose. And, my last point is using the digital picture frame. I never thought I’d want to program a limited number of pictures into it and watch them cycle all day over and over again. I was so wrong. I love my digital picture frame and I don’t sit it on the mantel and let it cycle all day. I download my photos on these cheap little flash drives, ($5.), and plug it into the frame. One day I might enjoy the horses and puppies, etc. at Michele Boulets’ rescue ranch. Or another day watch the beautiful glass pieces from the Sandwich glass museum cycle by; or laugh at the Halloween costumes my kids wore when they were little.
I hadn’t dug out my albums in years. Now I’m enjoying my pictures so much more.