Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yes, I visited the Alamo!

And here it is, with the two-person universe of happiness posing nearby. It was a quick visit to San Antonio, and a hot one, but I not only got to see where Davy Crockett drew his last breaths, I also got to visit the River Walk twice. The last evening was spent with five college freshmen and a high school junior at the Hard Rock Cafe, and I've got a glass (and this goofy picture) to prove it, except as usual I'm not actually IN the picture because I'm the one taking it.

It was fun to hang out with the kids, if a little exhausting, but back in Bedford it's time to harvest a bumper crop of tomatoes and get back to work on the house. I helped DD move into her college dorm yesterday, a bittersweet occasion. She's the third generation in our family to attend Indiana University. We had lunch at the Runcible Spoon, which I remember from my own college days (I'm not sure how long it has been in Bloomington, but there were thirty years' worth of literary journals on the bookshelves.) The iced coffee with mint was sweet and good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back Home Again...

in Indiana. It was a quick trip that included Washington, D.C., the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the great city of Pittsburgh, which I had never visited before. I chose Pittsburgh because it would allow me to do the Eastern Shore-Bedford, Indiana drive in two days with something interesting in between.

Our first impression of Pittsburgh was an exciting one, until a driving rain obscured everything but the road in front of us. We checked into the Lady Palm suite at the Parador Inn (, a fabulously restored 1870's mansion-turned-B&B on Pittsburgh's North Side, and since the rain had stopped we proceeded to explore the neighborhood. Seconds after stepping across the street we got caught in a downpour and sought refuge in one of the arches of the Calvary United Methodist Church. Learning that the church was open, we jumped at the chance to not only get out of the rain but see those famous Tiffany stained glass windows from the inside of the dark sanctuary with the fading afternoon light behind them. We couldn't make out anything of the interior (I hear the oak ceilings are also impressive), but the windows took my breath away.

I just had to see the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which was designed by H.H. Richardson, pioneer of the Romanesque Revival style that inspired the architecture of our jail. It was only a block away, so I ran through the rain to get a better look. It was impossible to take a decent picture with water dripping all over my face, needless to say. We had dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant, and it was all delicious. Our waitress at the Thai place, a pretty young woman with an abundance of glitter highlighting her eyes, brightened when we told her where we were staying; she hopes to have her wedding at the Parador.

A few years ago I had negotiated (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to have a Warhol exhibition in the overseas country I was serving in at the time. I had wanted to visit this museum ever since, so after an excellent breakfast at the Parador we took a walk down Millionaires' Row, imagining Pittsburgh at the turn of the last century, and spent a couple of hours in the museum learning about the life of Pop artist Andy Warhol, a Pittsburgh native. I was pretty young in the late 1960's and early 1970's when Warhol and his friends were considered the coolest people in New York City, so it was fun to relive that era, with its striped bell bottoms and long play albums in Warhol covers, Mick and Bianca Jagger and a very young, fresh-faced Michael Jackson. The seventies were one big party for Warhol and his friends, evidently. By the time we got to the end of Warhol's life, however, to his collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat on a long line of Jesus punching bags, it was obvious that the party was over and it all just seemed sad somehow. That final impression stayed with us as we checked out the offerings in the gift shop, where we spent a half an hour and didn't buy anything.

It was almost two o'clock when we emerged from the Warhol Museum, and we had a long drive back to Bedford ahead of us, so we scrapped plans to visit the Aviary and the Mattress Factory and hit the road. Pittsburgh is definitely worth another visit, and its proximity to the road to Washington pretty much ensures I'll be seeing it again in the near future.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adventures in Hot Glass and Remember the Alamo

Last night an exhibition of glass artistry by Ross Thackery opened at the Old Jail Art Center. I am showing you just three of the gorgeous glass items on display in the hopes of enticing you to come see the rest. There's not a lot of time--the exhibition closes this Wednesday--so hurry! In addition to being a very talented artist, Ross is a great teacher; he has taught two very successful stained glass workshops at our center so far. This fall we are again offering stained glass, and are adding a fusing/beadmaking workshop as well. I was one of Ross's first stained glass students, and I loved it. I'm looking forward to taking fusing next month as well. There's something magic about glass, as I'm sure you'll agree if you've ever watched a glassblower at work.

I'll be in and out this month (mostly out, I suspect) traveling with DD and the aforementioned sweetheart (hers, not mine--mine will hold down our very large limestone fort as usual!). I have visited the great city of San Antonio numerous times (DM, my darling mother, lived there for years, with my youngest siblings), but I have never, believe it or not, visited the Alamo. DH and I did get to the River Walk once, where we drank a beer with my sister Jessica and her husband while we paid the "little kids" (at this point teenagers) ice cream money to go away and leave us alone. Anyway, that was a long time ago, too--Jessica and Don have been married for 26 years this summer and DH and I for 25, and the youngest of the little kids turns 36 in November.

This time I will see where Davy Crockett took his last breaths, I really will, at last. I will blog about it, too. Stay tuned!