Sunday, June 29, 2008

Briefly ...

... we're leaving for Delhi tonight. Regular blogging will resume (i.e., regularly irregular) in a day. I have much to report, having visited three very good and VERY different museums in Finland yesterday -- a wonderful glass museum, the excellent Tibetan show in Tampere and finally a most delightful permanent exhibition at the Moomin museum, also in Tampere.

Needless to say, my camera's battery failed almost immediately ... but I managed to get a couple of pix from the glass museum. I'll post them here once I'm back at my home 'puter.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Travel Notez

Sayre, PA. 20-23rd June. Unknown to the world this small town (one cinema house, two traffic lights) is the Centre of the Universe. All members of my clan and most of their friends have made the trek at some time of their lives. As a result, it should come as no surprise that I am going to be here for my 55th birthday (TOMORROW!!!! Yow). I plan to spend it lying on my back with my feet in the air, gorging on chocolates, but my sister tells me that she has more energetic planz for me ... *grin*

My journey to Sayre was via New York -- and I have been wanting to share the observation that for the ENTIRE FOUR AND A HALF HOURS from Boston to New York on the Peter Pan bus, two middle-aged men (possibly Italian) talked NONSTOP. They spoke in soft voices and were not irritating or annoying in any way, but by the end of the journey I wanted to nuke em both. Failing which, I wanted to blog about em. And now I have.

Boston June 18-19th. Arrived back in Bos from Newport. Went right over to the T-Mobile shop to complete the transfer of my %^!!&^%%@# Sprint number to the newly acquired T-Mobile SIM. So now I have two phones, both with the same number. According to T-Mobile, the Sprint account will "automatically" terminate itself (hysterical laughter fades into the distance) -- yeah RIGHT. Like life would be so easy. We shall see! By evening of the 18th, I had two phones with the same number. Both appeared to work, but I have turned the Sprint phone off.

We had a great dinner at home with my niece and her new beau -- as this is being aired on the web I will not puncture the lives and privacies of all and sundry, by revealing anything more except that she cooked shrimp a Creole-Inde (her spontaneous creation) with rice and fresh green salad, we all stuffed ourselves silly and talked nearly continuously for two hours -- quite a feat, considering we were all eating continuously as well -- I believe we took turns, holding forth.

19th was the day designated for E to leave for Vermont, which he did, at the crack of dawn. Dawn cracks around 4.30 a.m. in these parts, so immediately after accompanying him to South Station (yes! Wasn't that nice of me? I even managed to avoid eating a Dunkin Doughnut on the way back), I came back and slept till noon.

14-18th June: Newport. I am running out of time at this moment, so I will merely say that we had a wonderful stay AS ALWAYS and had to tear ourselves away with a huge effort.

11-13th June: arrived in Boston, checked in at my niece's beautiful little apartment in Alrington -- she was away, so we didn't expect to see her, but we were very grateful for the safe and comfortable haven, from which we could make forays to the mall (jeans and v-neck vests for E) and on Friday, had a wonderful day-spend with a Tibetan friend of E's, terminating with lunch at his home.

This is all for the moment! More later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


... is where I am right now, en route to the US. We're staying with a dear friend, an exceptional, amazing person called Oppi Untracht, whose apartment is like a museum -- no, it's more accurate to say it IS a museum, but a residential one. It's filled to bursting with a display art objects created over a lifetime of collecting. Even the briefest description would take at least three pages -- and that would only cover the desk I'm sitting at! He had a special interest in India and Indian art and jewellery, so there are very many familiar objects around, but unusually beautiful and original versions of them. His wife, a highly acclaimed Finnish designer and artist called Saara Hopea who died many years ago, made marvellous jewellery and glassware. Her work and her personality fill the house too, so even though I never met her, I can feel her presence here, warm and creative. A wonderful influence.

Oppi's not well, so E and I take turns spending time with him in his room.

When we're not talking to him or sitting at the computer, we're walking around the small town of Porvoo, which is on a river of the same name (I think! I never do any research when I travel, which means that practically all my descriptions are based on sights, smells, tastes and sounds rather than hard fact). By the water's edge, there is a row of red 'barns' -- actually old warehouses -- which are so quaint it's quite unbearable. I made a couple of sketches of them, but am feeling frustrated that we're going to be leaving too soon (tomorrow) for me to really bond with them. There's SO much to draw! The barns ... their reflections in the river ... the church steeple behind ... the clouds, the sky, cobblestones ...

We're here at a time of year which I had previously only read about in my geography book -- the season of the midnight sun. Last night I actually set the alarm clock on my cellphone to wake me at 2 a.m. -- I had of course just gone to sleep at 1 -- to see whether or not the sky would darken any further. And it did NOT. I tried to stay up for the dawn, but only managed a bleary eyelid-prop around 4 -- not much change outside -- but the sky was heavily overcast, so it was hard to tell. As a result of the 24 hours of daylight, we arrive at 10.30 p.m. without any sense that the day is drawing to close! Quite amazing. It feels very much like two days being fitted into the space of one ...

Moomin (the comic strip) belongs to Finland, as do Fiskars scissors and Nokia phones. I don't especially see more phones or scissors around, but cute little Moomins peek out at us from every second curio-shop and also from occasional billboards and street signs! Very sweet. I realize now that I never managed to get quite enough Moomin in my life, and may have to rectify that absence with a book ...

Not that I want to spend any money. In years gone past, I used to visit England and think, "Oh! Only ONE POUND!" -- and my mental calculation skills were too weak to make the conversion to roops. Now, of course, my calculation skills are so weak that I don't even try -- but I can feel my credit card trembling whenever I look at a price tag expressed in Euros. So I don't.