Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Time for Trans Atlantic Travel

Six months of extremes! Europe had it's coldest and longest winter in 130 years. This summer Europe is setting records for hot temperatures. The cold I can handle...heat is another story! A lot of Europeans take the entire month of August off and leave their homes and it does look like at least half of my neighbors are gone. There's a skeleton group of vendors at our local market. I don't know where they all go but hopefully somewhere more quiet and Alaska.

Paris in the summer has been an assault on my senses. Too much of everything. Too much noise ...because our windows are open all day and night.  Too many tourists...visiting museums is frustrating...too crowded to see the art. And, too much heat...all day and all night...everywhere I go.

I am grateful I have the chance to return to the US for a couple of months. I'm leaving tomorrow for Atlanta to visit my BFF and then on to Alaska and my very quiet house...I can't wait. I bet the bear and moose have missed me....I've missed them.

We have a great year planned when I get back to Paris in October. I'm sure it will be cooler by then. (I really don't handle the heat well at all...but you probably figured that out by now.) We have two sets of visitors coming in October with a trip to France's champagne region. Our sons may come to Paris for Christmas. And after the new year I am going to see a great friend in Malaysia...with a trip to Bali for batik shopping! I'll meet up with my husband in Hong Kong before heading back to Paris. (Fed Ex has a pilot hub in Hong Kong so we will visit friends there.)

With the heat...I spent a lot of time sitting in front of a fan in my Paris apartment. In eleven days I finished a Christmas stocking front.

That makes four for the year so far...

It looks so peaceful from one of our apartment glad you can't hear the homeless guy who lives at the end of the street yelling a 4 a.m. He likes to do that and sleep all day in the park.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

HandStitching Update

Sunday is a good day to see how the week's works have progressed. 

I started a second designed in 1991...22 years ago! It's called Jungle Bells. I like to mix working on older kits with brand new designs. I bought this kit on eBay so don't think I've had this in my stash for 22 years...maybe half that though.

This Snowman and Polar Bear kit, which is a 2013 design, is coming along nicely. I just noticed I have forgotten to add blush to the polar bear. 

Just a few lines of work on my cross stitch ornament.

I am grateful the local temperatures are about 10 degrees cooler today than last week's temps. It is going to heat up again in the coming week...just before I leave Paris. It is absolutely frustrating me to be missing fabulous weather in Alaska...great summers are a rarity in Alaska and there is no prettier place to be when they happen.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Little Paris Sewing Room

I'm sew lucky! 
When it's hot and crowded with tourists in Paris...
I have my own retreat...
My little Paris sewing room.

And the opposite view... my link to the desk with my Mac notebook.

I even have a closet to store my goodies just across from my sewing room's door.

Most of our apartment faces the street which is rather noisy when we have all the windows open but my sewing room overlooks the inner courtyard of four buildings...the courtyard is very small and where all the garbage cans are stored...but it is much more quiet on this side of the apartment. (Our apartment is on the fourth floor)

Our apartment is completely furnished...I brought my office chair, a portable table and my sewing machine...all the other furniture came with our include all the linens. I did buy three big lights for my sewing room...haven't needed them this summer!

I often have an audible book playing while I work. I just started one that is nonfiction about Henry the VIII and his six wives. I've read so many fiction works about that period I decided to get a factual look listen. 

My husband is in Alaska...our timing isn't always in sync! No matter...I'm a seasoned pilot's wife who is used to making my own fun. I'm catching up on making my Bucilla stocking videos. I posted one on You Tube yesterday about completing a stocking with lining and backing. 

I've been working on my latest stocking...

And I've started working on an Alaska Shop Hop quilt from my pile of UFOs I brought to Paris. I'm top stitching the fusible appliqués with batting on the backside. I'm missing a few colors of thread. I ordered many colors from Connecting Threads a few years ago...looks like I need to order a few more.

Here's the backside...I plan to trim the batting from the outermost stitching...I hope that creates a trapunto type effect in the finished quilt. I also find it very difficult to outline such small areas with my long arm. It might be several more years before my experiment is complete!

I'm missing Breakfast Club back in Alaska but I will be there for August and September.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Normandy in July...A Good Place to Be

Last week we took our Texas visitors to Normandy for two days. The weather was perfect. Even though this was my second trip to the American beaches of D-Day...I learned a lot more about that very important day.

We stayed at the same hotel in Saint Aubin sur Mer, Le Clos Normand.

It's right on the beach wall with a great outdoor area for their excellent restaurant. We were very lucky to have front row seats for fireworks on the beach our first night there. When we asked the occasion for them it really wasn't clear...maybe nations' day...but I didn't find anything through a google search.

Our rooms were small...but clean with private bathrooms.

Our first day was spent visiting the museum and American cemetery at Omaha Beach. With the nice weather we took more time on this visit to walk through the grave sites. It really is an amazing experience to read the names of those buried there. The nice weather made this lovely infinity pool at the entrance to the monument look perfectly leads right to the ocean.

On the way back to our hotel we stopped for an adult beverage and had our first Normandy Bernese Mountain Dog encounter...she had just gotten to romp in the ocean and was headed home.

The next day we explored a man-made harbor for D-Day at Arromanches. You can see the remains of it on the beach. It was only meant to be temporary so it was amazing to see parts of it.

Here are some off the hollow concrete sections that were sunk on location to help create an artificial sea wall.

Rather than try and explain how or why the harbor was made, take a look at this quick video.

I have a much greater appreciation for the Allied invasion of France now that I have lived here for almost a year.

On our way to Utah Beach another Bernese was husband did a quick u-turn and pulled up to this shop.

He found Forrest.

If you have read my blog for the past three've heard about our Berner, Forrest, who went missing. This lovely boy is three years old...looks like Forrest got reincarnated in France. His owner is big fan of Forrest Gump, too! I showed her photos of our Jenny and Forrest on my iPhone. We just love our Berner encounters.

Then it was back to hot Paris. Oh...and by the way...the air conditioner on our car didn't work during our trip. And why was the sun always hitting my seat of the car with our black leather interior? It's hard to talk when the windows are down...too noisy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Little Paris Sewing Room

Il fait chaud! I am is so hot in our Paris apartment. We have one floor fan that I bought last week and I take it in every room I plan to spend any time. 

I brought a new toy to Paris with me, a new floss organizer. 

Since it is so hot it must be time to work on Christmas projects...but that is a year-round pastime for me.   Started a new stocking and cross stitch ornament.

I had to run to the grocery store today...did it before 11 a.m. to get out of the heat quickly. I discovered mini bottles of French champagne...just enough for two...or one. It's a good thing. I love champagne but rarely drink it since I really can't drink a regular sized bottle by myself!

I got a couple of other bottles of French wine too...
It is hot!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hanging Out in Paris

I came back to Paris for a few weeks. We have friends from Texas visiting with us. It is very hot and our old Parisian style apartment is not air conditioned. This Alaska girl is cooking!

The first thing I noticed upon my return to Paris is all the beautiful greenery...when I left buds were on the trees and shrubs. Here are a few photos from my walks around Paris last week.

Luxembourg Palace and astounding number of beautiful annuals. I am going to visit this garden often.

Fountains! Most were drained for winter when I left in May. This is the Fountain of the Observatory in the Garden of Marco Polo, adjacent to the Luxembourg gardens. Four sculptors worked together on this piece. The nude women are holding a representation of the world that had four continents. In the 16th century, before the discovery that Australia was a separate continent, it was believed there were only four continents, Africa, Asia, America and Europe.

This sculpture was at the back side of a fountain in the Luxembourg garden called the Medici Fountain...this is a grotto style fountain with the back wall creating a cave wall...along with large trees that completely shade the setting...might have to visit here again during these hot days! The large character in the sculpture is one of the cyclops from Greek mythology called, Polyphemus. He has just discovered the lovers, Acis and Galatea. 

This fountain has a couple of names...Fountain of Four Bishops and Fountain of St. Sulpice. It sits in front of St. Sulpice, the second largest cathedral after Notre Dame in Paris. The four bishops placed at the top were renowned for their oratory skills. The fountain faced some criticism when it was finished. Some thought it blocked the entrance to the cathedral. One critic thought the lions looked like they were irritated to have water splashing on their rear ends!

I'd have to say that the rest of Paris blocks the entrance to the cathedral...not the fountain! And the lions certainly do look cranky...but there could be so many symbolic reasons for their fierce dispositions.

We stumbled onto this dead-end street. Great way to deal with a big blank space. The fake facade is drawn onto the wall but there are  3-D details that make you think...

I don't often post pictures of food...I think that's mostly because I'm not an adventurous eater. But here is a photo of an appetizer I love, roasted camembert cheese with lots of garlic. It's wonderful with some fresh pieces of bread to dip in the gooey mess. It even came with a nice little salad on the side. Our waiter warned us we'd have questionable breathe after eating this.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kennecott Copper Mine

We started our day at Kennecott Copper Mine with a guided walking tour. The copper deposit was discovered in the Wrangle Mountain Range by prospectors in 1900.  Stephen Birch found financial backers to support the mine's development. The biggest obstacle was building a railroad line 196 miles long to transport the copper to the coastal town of Cordova for shipping. In 1906 the railroad line construction began and in 1911 the line was completed.

The opening of the mine was driven by a dramatic increase in the need for copper. Copper was needed for electricity, pipes and in support of WWI.

In the distance is the 14-story mine where the ore was brought in and sorted.

On the left is a white building that was the hospital which boasted the first x-ray machine in Alaska. The two red buildings on the right were bunk houses or dormitories. We were able to walk through one of these buildings that has been stabilized. The creek has flooded several times over the last sixty years which has caused most of the damage to the buildings.

The copper ran out and the mine was abruptly shut down on Nov. 10, 1938. Residents were given just a few hours notice of the last train's departure time. The buildings were left deserted until the 1960s when a new developer tried to extract more copper from the tailings but the venture failed before it got started. In the 1980s a seasonal tourist industry started to develop and really took off in the 1990s.

We had lunch at this bus restaurant that was pretty tasty...freshly made pizza.

Then we explored the newly built Kennecott Glacier Lodge. This is a bunk-house style hotel.  Small rooms with a bed, a sink, electrical outlets and internet...but shared bathrooms down the hall with showers.

We then hiked up above the mine. What looks like piles of dirt between the mine and the mountains is really silt-covered glacial flows from three glaciers.

On our last day at Kennecott the weather was a little nicer so we did a flying tour of the mine...

and the three glaciers that flow in front of the mine.

Here is part of a glacier flow with a river of glacial water.

The three glacier flows converge and push against each other as they creep down the mountain valley.

Another view of the glacier flow.

More glacier flows...the glacier flows also had silt covered portions so it looks like rows of dirt mixed with ice. There are opportunities to do glacier hikes and ice climbing through outfitters in the area.

Our last look at the mine...

and the two buildings of the Kennecott Glacier Lodge (large white roofs).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer SuperCub Excursion

Captain Bailey (my hubby) takes me on at least one SuperCub Excursion in Alaska during our summer months. This year we made it to McCarthy which is near Kennecott Copper Mine.

Here's my leg room on this plane's seating...there's a stick so I can fly...if I choose...NOT.

Is this out of my comfort zone? You bet!
Okay...back to our adventure. The weather was not cooperating for our flight into McCarthy. Instead of the quick route over the top of the mountains we had to fly through mountain passes due to a stubborn layer of clouds over the mountain tops. It makes for dull photos. This is one of many glaciers we saw in route...along with silt-filled rivers.

The weather improved a little once we were through the passes.

We could have driven to McCarthy but the last 60 miles are a state-maintained gravel road. The road ends at the Kennecott River where you can park your car and walk a half-mile to McCarthy. It would have taken over seven hours to drive the 314 miles from Anchorage. It took almost 4 hours in our just has one little prop so it's rather a slow trip.

En route we flew over the Chitna River where residents can dipnet for red salmon. They can also use fish wheels...that's what those man-made contraptions are on the river's edge. The wheels scoop up the fish!

Welcome to main street McCarthy. A saloon, Lodge restaurant and gift shop on one side of the street. (Gloomy weather...a little bit of rain.)

Across the street, our hotel, Ma Johnson's. Bunkhouse style rooms. Tiny rooms with a bed, bathrooms down the hall with toilets and a shower. They did provide robes for those quick runs to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

We had a great meal our first night at the Lodge Restaurant. Why did the town of McCarthy grow? Liquor and prostitution were not allowed at the Kennecott Mine where the workers were housed...enough said.

The next day we had a latte and breakfast muffin from the Potatohead. Check out the door handle.

Inside...some activities while you wait for your order.

We were then ready to catch a shuttle to the mine. Kennecott mine was in operation from 1911 until 1938, when it shut down...with just a few hours of warning to the locals. They were forced to leave most of their possessions behind to catch the last train out.  Many years later, visitors to the area found homes completely furnished to include place settings still set on the dining room tables. 

The adventure continues tomorrow...