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Road Trip Bruges

Of all the beautiful places we visited in the Netherlands and Belgium, Bruges was my favorite. Belgium was never on my radar but I think I will have to return.
I loved the scale of Bruges and it has lots of canals and old architecture.  The first fortifications were built in the 1st century BC, and the first city charter was in 1128.
These photos were my first impressions of the city.

Burg square is one of the earliest inhabited places of the city.
Market square – since 928, is ringed with guild houses, restaurants and chocolatiers.

b3b4b5b6     Like in Amsterdam they have a béguinage, what a peaceful place to live. And like in Amsterdam, the gates are closed at night and only those ladies that live there have a key.
The city has many squares, parks, beautiful buildings, and hidden places….

…. and is well know for it chocolate, lace, and beer.

Bruges has been a center for lace making for hundreds of years. The top two photos are of a large lace map of Bruges that hangs along a canal.
Chocolate shops are everywhere!

There are often large sculptures in the windows made of chocolate, like the monkey, cartoon characters and the unicorn above.
There are 3 breweries in Bruges, and I’ll have to admit I drank more beer on this trip than I have in years, my favorite was the Kriek, made with cherries and other fruits.
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There is art on the buildings everywhere and lots of neat wind vanes….

At every turn there was something neat to see…


The stations of the cross.


As far as the language in Belgium, they speak Dutch in the north and French in the south and both in between. Somewhere I read you are better off starting in English if you are not fluent in either language. In Brussels the street signs are in both French and Dutch, but other signs are often in English! As much as I’d like to learn another language I’d really need to decide where I was going to spend the most time to decide what to tackle.
There are a few thing you need to watch out for, the most important is bikes and cars. In the old cities the streets are narrow and especially in Bruges the drivers go fast and don’t automatically stop if they see you at a cross walk, while in most of the other cities they did. And bikes go everywhere not just on the bike lanes so you really need to watch where you step.
Public art is both contemporary and not on the city streets and there is lots of it….

We didn’t get a chance to see the windmills, but there are 4 along the edge of the old city. Originally there were 25 and they date from the 1700s.
This is not my photo but one from Free-City-Guides, just so you can see what they look like – on my list for next time!
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As usual there are lots of museums and churches. The museums include (to name a few) Archaeology MuseumThe Bruges ‘stadshallen’ and BelfryBruges Beer ExperienceChoco-StoryThe Folklore Museum, and the The Liberty of Bruges.
I did manage to visit a couple of the famous churches in the city. The Basilica of the Holy Blood and The Church of Our Lady.
The Basilica is famous for the vial that is said to contain a cloth with Christs blood on it, and the fact that it is two churches in one. The lower church is Romanesque, and the upper church is Neo-Gothic.
The Church of Our Lady, was just down the street from my hotel, and has an extensive museum. In its collection is Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. They are still uncovering frescos on the walls and ceilings,
The sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold are here and painted tombs from the 13th and 14th centuries.

And, as usual, here is my sign collection.

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At the southern end of the old city is Minnewater, the Lake of Love. There are over 100 swans that live here and they are taken care of by the city.
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As we saw all over Belgium there is a lot of espalier here. If I ever stay home long enough I would like to grow one on the garage side of my house.

Part of the city ramparts.

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My last shot of the city outside my hotel window. As I said I loved everything I saw in Belgium. This post is out of order but I was excited to show how beautiful the city of Bruges is. BTW you will see many ways to spell the name of this city,Bruges, Brugge, Brugges.
I was also in Amsterdam on this trip, you can see photos from that part by clicking here Road Trip Amsterdam.
There are more posts to come about Ghent, Antwerp, and beautiful Brussels.
And since I’m home for a while there will also be posts about ART!!





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Road Trip Amsterdam

Close to our hotel was the Opera House, The Hermitage Museum, the Skinny Bridge, Rembrandt Square and lots of great photo ops!

I loved all the 26 years at Carolina Creations but am also loving having more time to travel and do my artwork. The two – travel and artwork – go together – although I seldom do artwork when I’m on the road because I want to spend the time seeing everything I can possibly see. Traveling is inspiring to me, I see scenes that I want to paint, I see art I’ve never seen before and it gives me ideas to use in my own work from how to present something or a new technique. Creating art for me is a solitary endeavor so when traveling I also get to meet new people.

This sculptures in Rembrandt Square depict the Dutch artist Rembrandt’s painting The Night Watch which is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum. The sculpture was done by Russian artist Alexander Taratynov.

I decided this is my year to travel. Havana, Florida Panhandle, Key West, this trip, and more to come! Amsterdam has been on my list for a long time and it did not disappoint.
hook   Although the weather was cool and partially cloudy it was still beautiful! What was my favorite thing? I suspected the architecture and canals would be and I was right.
I was going to do this whole trip as one blog post but after seeing just my photos from Amsterdam I’m not sure that the City by itself will fit into one!


There was a lot I did not know about the city –
….     There used to be 300 canals and now there are only 100.
….     Most buildings have a hook coming out of their gable, especially if they are the tall skinny ones. In the old days it was used to raise and lower merchandise, a person had their shop on the 1st floor and warehouse above. Now people often live on the upper stories so when a person moves in or out they take out a window and use the pulley to raise and lower furniture.

See the family playing chess in the background?

….     Few Dutch go to church, so while there are quite a few church buildings, few are used for worship and many have been sold off for other purposes.
….     The semicircle of four 17th century canals is called the Grachtengordel, and while you can still get turned around, if you can identify the main canals you can usually figure out your way. Our sweet hotel, the Eden/Rembrandt Square, was on the Singel (The Singel was previously a moat around the old city.), which was a great location, across from the Opera, and from where I walked everywhere I wanted to go. The rooms were not large but were contemporary, very nice, and they have a great bar and restaurant.

Lots of cheese shops.

After a brief introductory Tour with the tour group I tromped all over the canal part of Amsterdam by myself, not wanting to miss a thing. There wasn’t an area I felt uncomfortable in by myself.
I met two artists shortly after arriving at an outdoor show I stumbled across, it’s held only on Sundays and it was just around the corner from our hotel. Called the Outdoor Sunday ArtMarket .
Connie Van Rumpt works in paper mache.
connie     I got a sweet, tiny lady that sits on a shelf from her.
And I had a nice conversation about working in black and white with Wim van der Meij about his etchings and got this piece of one of the canals.
I did find some neat boutiques in the Jordan district but I guess I wasn’t looking in the right place to find a lot of artist run shops.
You (I) just can’t go incognito anywhere….. I walked into a store and immediately the owner said “You own a shop.” (of course I don’t anymore.)  I said “How do you know?” “The bag you are carrying. I have one just like it .” So we compared notes. Years ago, probably 10 anyway, maybe 14, when people were first buying reusable bag,s one of the first companies to make them was called Envirosax and we started carrying them at Carolina Creations. The particular bag I had in my hand was an ad for the company, which was a promotion for shops that ordered from them that first year, which gave me away. Go figure.
I also went into one of the coffee shops that sells marijuana – I just had to do it – and ONLY had a cup of coffee, but found it interesting that you could smoke dope there but you could not smoke a cigarette!

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The floating flower market Bloemenmarkt was ok, selling mostly bulbs but this one stall did have nice fresh flowers.

The city has a museum for just about everything, 100+… the ones you might expect The Tulip Museum, The Cheese Museum, The Houseboat MuseumHeineken Experience, and some you might not expect like the Sex Museum, Torture Museum, Prostitution Museum, Erotica Museum, Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum,  Nederlands Uitvaart Museum Tot Zover the museum about funerals, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje the museum of bags and purses, just to name a few.

I’ll have to admit I’m not a huge museum goer, it’s walking the streets I want to do when I travel, but the Van Gogh was one I didn’t want to miss, it was great and very well done. One thing I noticed in the extensive gift shop i saw no images of “Starry Night”, or  his “Cafe Terrace at Night” , they can’t use the images because they are not in their collection I was told. They are my two favorites.
If I would have had more time I might have visited the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands with nearly one million Dutch works of art, The Amsterdam Museum, or the Museum Van Loon, (which is a canal house owned by the Van Loon family of the Dutch East India Company), the Ann Frank House, The Jewish Museum, Verzetsmuseum or the Dutch Resistance Museum.
amm10            We strolled through The Begijnhof, passing through this gate, which was built in the 14th century and donated to the Beguine for a place to live. It is at the medieval street level which is a little over 3 feet below todays street level. “The Beguine women lived as nuns but not within a monastic community. The Catholic Faith was banned in the 16th century, but the Beguinage was the only Catholic institution that survived, as the houses were privately owned by the Beguines. However, they had to give up the chapel. Later, a new church was built behind the facades of some of the houses, a so-called ‘schuilkerk’ (hide-and-seek church). ” (thank you Wikipedia).              Today women rent the houses and the outside gates are locked at night, but during the daytime anyone can wander through.

The brown wooden building is one of the two oldest wooden buildings in the city, built around 1465.
It was interesting to identify the types of gables on the buildings, Triangular Gable, Bell Gable, Neck Gable, Spout Gable and the Step Gable. Often depicting the period in which the building was constructed.
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You see wall plaques on many houses , before numbering was introduced, houses were identified by illustrated plaques.

As usual I had to take photos of signs.


I knew there were a lot of bikes in Amsterdam, but I didn’t really know just how many, over 800,000. Almost every street has a bike lane and you take your life into you hands if you don’t stay off them and look both ways when crossing them.

You might not be able to tell what this is but it is a parking deck for bikes, holding not nearly enough. Throughout the city there are tens of thousands parked on the street and we were told they pull about 12,000 a year out of the canals.
Surprisingly I saw no bike accidents. But guess there are some!

There were lots of interesting things to see.


assort3     There are eight windmills within the city limits, only one is open to the public. But in May they have a National Windmill Day. During this weekend you can visit hundreds of them all over the country, for most, it’s the only time they are open.

The canal ride and dinner at night was enchanting.

I’ve got more photos from Amsterdam I’ll share in the next post.

Next up – Luxembourg, Trier, Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp.

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Road Trip Key West, flowers, and points north

Key West post Irma ….

There are a few empty shops on Duval, which you usually don’t see…there are some signs “closed for repairs from hurricane damage”….and a lot of the shade is gone… but Key West is every bit as beautiful as ever.




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My friend Deb met me there and we stayed at the Almond Tree Inn. Our room and the grounds were beautiful, and the location perfect. It’s a half block off of Duval on the quiet end of the street.

This year they started a free Duval Loop bus that circles every 15 minutes and we rode it twice a day. When ever I go to Key West I always want to walk all the streets in Old Town so being able to catch a ride back was great.

My favorite thing is to take photos of the architecture and flowers. One of these days I’ll do some paintings of some of my favorite spots.

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Chickens and roosters still abound.

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We even went to Sunset at Mallory Square, the first time in 33 years I’ve done that.

kwwThe cat man is still there  (thank you youtube for the video) – don’t know if he is the same one from years ago but he if he is he’s crazier than ever!

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Ate lunch at Blue Heaven after Deb left. NO I did not eat this Key Lime Pie with the giant meringue – the folks sitting next to me at the bar did! You can eat with the chickens running around your feet outside or inside without at Blue Heaven.

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We found some fabulous artwork in the galleries and visited with some friends.

We ran into NC artist, musician, and friend Mike Rooney at Bo’s. He was teaching a painting workshop at Dog Tired Gallery the next day and getting ready for a show at Gallery on Greene later in the month, he’s also teaching at The Studios of Key West.

kw rooneyWe stopped to see boat builder, painter, wood worker, and all around artist and friend Tommy Avery (originally from Bridgeton) in his studio on Stock Island. This is one of his paintings of the Green Parrot.

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We had lunch with another friend who lives here, which made us feel like we really belonged in this slice of heaven.

After seeing paintings by David Scott Meier, the creator of the famous painting “Nice Hat”….

Nice Hat…we tracked him down in his studio on Simonton.

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Turns out it was a fluke he was there since he is moving his studio up state to Deland, after being in KW for many years. We had a great conversation about his work, what he’s up to, where he’s been, and who he is currently studying with.

I didn’t meet her but was greatly inspired by paintings by Joan Becker. I had never seen her work before. LOVE it!!
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Other work I liked were the totems by Key West Pottery potter and sculptor Adam Russell.

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Just for fun we went to see Randy Roberts at La Te Da. He put on a great show, (no lip syncing)  and at the end he sings in his own male voice. He was great.

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No we did not go to the Garden of Eden but like a town where you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you are not hurting anyone else.

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As epitomized in the official philosophy of Key West.
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I don’t know why but I love directional signs (other signs too) and always have to take photos of them.


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The thing I noticed most that was different was the lack of shade, Irma took out a lot of the canopy, but the flowers are still beautiful!

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They now have two flamingos (I don’t know how to tell whether this is Rhett or Scarlett) at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory along with an amazing number of butterflies!



This guy was scooping up minnows to go fishing with.

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And as always the sunsets are Spectacular.

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I would have never thought to go to the  St. Augustine Alligator Farm but heard from my friend Judy that there is an amazing bird rookery there so had to stop to see it. I’ve gotten so many great bird photos this trip I may have to paint some, if I do I will post them in this blog. And by the way they have hundreds of alligators!!






Stopped to see my friend and artist Justine in Brunswick, GA. She’s an amazing sculptor, one of the most creative people I know. She is currently doing a lot of pieces inspired by Klimt.

This sculpture is Golden Girl.

Home again home again to get some new work done before the Studio tour May 5 & 6 I have so many ideas now I don’t know where to start!

Next trip Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxomberg, Bruge…. but should have some posts about my art before then!

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Road Trip Apalach to Key West Orchids Birds and other stuff

Just before I left Apalachicola I found this mermaid carved out of a cypress trunk, I love it! It’s in the Botanical Garden adjacent to the Orman House.

kw mermaidOn my way south I made a few stops….

First was the bottle house in Carabelle.

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Then I visited with friends in North Ft. Myers. We visited Babcock Ranch Preserve, a 67,000 acre parcel of undeveloped land where you can see birds, bears, alligators, fox, and all kinds of animals.

Selby Gardens had a show called Warhol, Flowers in the Factory. The gardens and orchids were beautiful and the art interesting.



Just south of Sarasota at Venice is a bird rookery. We were thrilled to see parents feeding babies!





While I am not an avid birdwatcher I do love them and used to paint them a lot. This may inspire me to paint some more.

I took these photos at Six Mile Cypress Slough.

We watched this mother Limpkin feeding her young, and heard her smashing the snail on something to get the meat out.


limp9limp3limp4limp5limp6limp7limp8One interesting thing about this preserve is the driving force to save it was students.

In 1976 a group of Lee County students known as “the Monday Group” studied the role of forested wetland in Florida’s ecology and became alarmed at how fast these environmental treasures were disappearing to private interests. Knowing that Six-Mile Cypress Slough was under imminent threat from logging in the channeling away of its water, the Monday Group launched a daring campaign to save it for future generations.

Lee County voters responded overwhelmingly by increasing their own taxes to purchase and convert the Slough into a preserve. Much effort was needed throughout the 1980s to protect the Six-Mile Cypress watershed from the results of outside development. These efforts culminated in 1991 with Lee County Parks & Recreation opening the Preserve’s boardwalk and facilities to visitors.

Today, Parks & Recreation remain challenged with balancing the needs of water conservation and wildlife management with the recreational needs of the public. As part of that, a growing cadre of volunteer naturalists educates the Preserve’s many visitors as to the interrelationships of water, wildlife, plants, and man-fanning the flames of that torch set by Lee County students some two decades earlier. The Interpretive Center at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve had its grand opening April 18, 2008. The 11,000 square foot building is the first public, certified Green Building in Lee County. It has been built under the nationally recognized “Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design” or LEED certification system.

I drove across the Tamiami Trail and saw hundreds of egrets – got no photos of them but did get this bird, an immature white ibis.


I also counted over 50 alligators along the road, I finally stopped and got a couple photos of them, yikes!

o18o19I grow orchids and wanted to add to my collection so visited RF Orchids in Homestead. At 11 and 3 on Saturday and Sunday they give free tours of the botanical garden they have adjacent to the grounds, it’s actually the yard of the owners home. It was a highlight. of that part of my trip.

One of my favorite things in the world to do is drive down the Keys.

Michael and I lived in the Keys for a while between moving from Aspen to New Bern. I always said the Keys and Aspen were a lot alike in the respect that there is one way in and one way out. They were both isolated and you could get cabin fever.

And they are both incredibly beautiful.

Michael went to the Keys every winter (before me) for a month or two when he was farming and it was there that he proposed to me in 1983, so the Keys hold a special place in my heart.  Consequently I was hesitant about seeing the damage done by Irma. I had heard from friends that Big Pine (where we lived in 1988) and adjacent Keys were devastated, and I had seen a video of Key West where the water was a foot deep at Sloppy Joes.

kw big pine 1The middle Keys were pretty depressing. I’ve heard there were a lot of little tornadoes around the eye, there would be a lot of damage in one place, and right next to it things were ok. All the trees on Big Pine are beat up, there are boats and all kinds stuff in the canals and mangrove and it seems every house on the island sustained some damage and many were destroyed. I didn’t take any photos there because it was so sad. I started see damage in about Tavernier and it went all the way to Big Coppitt, about 70 miles.

I was in Key West for a day in January while on my Havana cruise, I had a long conversation with the bar tender in Sloppy Joes and he said they were so thankful for the cruise ships since the hurricane because for a long time tourists couldn’t get there and their businesses really suffered. He spoke about the problem of workers, that drove in to work from the middle keys,  had no place to live, so many left leaving a shortage of workers.

Because of that visit I knew things were pretty much back to normal in Key West but I didn’t know how the beautiful 120 mile drive from Card Sound to Key West would be. The drive crosses 42 bridges, the shortest being about 38 feet and the longest almost 7 miles. In 1981 when Michael was down there a truck struck the propane tank on the swing span of the 7 mile bridge causing an explosion which closed the bridge for a while to auto traffic and closed it for a year to marine traffic, so he was “stuck” staying a while longer, poor boy!


This is a section of the old Flagler railroad bridge that is still standing. When Michael started going to the Keys in the 1970s he drove on the road that was on the top of the railroad bridge. I would not have liked to do that at all.

Since the campground on the the small key where we decided to get married was totally destroyed (it covered the entire key) by Irma and they have it all blocked off so you can’t enter I decided this would be a nice place to put some of Michaels ashes, he loved it in the Keys.

Next Post Key West


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Road Trip Apalachicola to Port St Joe

I just spent 4 weeks on “the forgotten coast”. It reminded me of the keys 35 years ago. Relaxing, low key, quiet. We were told it’s busier in the summer but for us right now it was perfect.

It’s fun to call it that but the beaches there don’t hold a candle to the beaches here!

I’ve only ever driven through the Florida Panhandle once and that was in 1988 when we left Aspen and finally ended up in New Bern after a years stop off in the Keys.

We stayed about 5 miles out of Port St Joe, which has some cute shops and good restaurants and all along the coast are new homes and buildings. Didn’t really talk to anyone about it but expect that recent hurricanes or the oil spill might be a reason for that.

Cape San Blas Lighthouse – Port St. Joe, Florida

Next door to where I was staying.


My favorite town was Apalachicola or Appalach,  as the locals call it, about 20 miles east of us. What a great little town, with restaurants, shops, bars, galleries. And lots of history.

I saw lots of interesting artwork from artists like –  Sherron Totter…

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and Leslie Wallace-Coon – gallery owner of Bowery Gallery and potter/sculptor…


and Clair Raabe Glass to name a few.

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Just up the road at Wewahitchka (or Wewa as they call it) is where you go to buy tupelo honey. The tupelo gum trees grow along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers.

This river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially.   You can read about how it is harvested and why it is more expensive than other honeys (and probably better for you) right here.


We saw this amazing 50 foot traders canoe in the Apalachicola Center for History, Art and Culture. The fact that metal tools were used, along with the shape of the canoe, suggest that it was manufactured sometime between 1750 and 1850. Dugout canoes had been used by the Indians but the metal tool marks show it would have been made by Europeans or Indians under the direction of Europeans.


They have found older dugouts that date back between 3200 and 5000 years, but never one this big.

The hostess also told us that the building this canoe and art center is in was one of 48 that lined Water Street,  the front porch of these buildings was the wharf so they loaded ships from here. She said the 2nd floors were cotton warehouses and the owner had identical buildings in NYC, many of which are still there, while in “Apalach” only two remain, others were destroyed by hurricanes and fire.


Other places I liked the look of….







This town is a neat mix of really funky and really nice, hippie and yuppie, just what I like. It only has a population of about 2500 but like New Bern, there isn’t another town or anyplace else to shop for many miles, so more restaurants and shops than you would expect for a town of this size.

The beaches here are deserted and beautiful, great shelling! This is WindMark Beach.


Lucky shot, a fisherman tossed this fish to the heron and I snapped this just before he swallowed it in one gulp on St George Beach.

We saw thousands of pieces of sand dollars and even found a few whole ones.

The  lower 52 miles of the Apalachicola River, adjoining uplands, and the Apalachicola Bay estuarine, support the local fishing industry. We ate local shrimp and oysters every day!



We sat on the bridge to St George Island and it was so interesting to watch this oysterman (these fishermen are called tongers) use tongs to harvest the oysters, as they have for centuries. They can fish this way because the bay is just a few feet deep.

And we enjoyed seeing other fisherman come in too!


I am not an avid birdwatcher but I do like to paint them and the pelicans are always so much fun to watch.

pelicanspelicans2The sunsets were amazing.

What a great month.

Next I’m off to Key West and points in between.

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Road Trip – Havana

My sister and I just got back from a cruise, the highlight was Havana. It was overcast while we were there so my photos aren’t as bright as I would like them to be.

We learned a lot about the country, the people were very friendly and caring.  And like us, they don’t always agree with the priorities of their government.

I would have liked to get outside of the city – next time.

The American cars were great! Most of them are used as taxis, there are other cars and newer cars they just aren’t American cars, a lot of the newer cars are Russian.


cuba15We heard that the economic situation for the people is somewhat better since Americans have been going – one reason is that Americans tip while Europeans generally don’t, and the people we encountered all spoke English, and it was very obvious that most of the population is poor. They do have a good education system (98 percent literacy rate) and healthcare. We were shocked to hear that their infant mortality is lower than in the US.

The city must have been stunning before the revolution, now a lot of it is in ruins, the government is slowly renovating buildings, the government buildings first, then the historic buildings, then last the family homes, and very few of them have been done and  the citizenry just doesn’t have the money to do it themselves.





The guide said people own their homes, they have been passed down generation to generation, and usually 3 or 4 generations are living together, and generally a working person might make 20-30 dollars US a month.


Part of Havana is a UNESCO site and receives help to restore buildings. There is a section of Old Havana that has been restored. The section contains churches and historical sites.




I saw this factory that was open to the street.


Under Raul Castro people are able to own certain businesses, the taxes paid to the government on their earnings are high (we heard many times – the government always wins) like here. So for some people things have improved.







The building in the background was built to resemble our capital, once renovations are completed it will once again hold Cubas general assembly.



















Next trip, Florida Panhandle and Key West!

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More custom Celebration Pottery pieces

One day (years ago) a customer asked me to put names on a platter for a wedding, that was just the start!

Since them I’ve done hundreds of churches with names and dates on tiles and platters…






baby sets…

new bern scenes on things…pot2




special pieces given to visiting dignitaries….


back splash….
and lots more!

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How a piece comes together

I’m often asked to do commemorative pieces to be given as gifts for retirements, birthdays, weddings, etc. The piece I’m showing here was for someone whose career lasted over 30 years and she was involved in many of the projects that have shaped the way our downtown looks today.

First we started with a list of the projects…

…I took reference photos…

…I built this pot using slabs of clay…

…bisque fired it to 1950 degrees…
…did rough sketches of the places that were to be included on the pot…

…figured out how they could work together on the piece…
…sketched them on the pot – btw the pencil lines burn out in the kiln…
…using underglazes painted the image then outlined the image with black line…

…covered the entire pot with a clear glaze…
…fired it again, this time to 1911 degrees…
…and it’s done!


A one of a kind, special gift.
If you have an idea for a special gift for someone let me know! In my next post I’ll show some other pieces I’ve done for people that aren’t quite so elaborate!

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First Christmas out of New Bern in 20+ Years!

For my first Christmas of retirement I went to DC with a friend and spent it with her family. It was a lot of fun! We’ve never gone home (Michigan) for Christmas since Michael and I were married in 1989.

Fortunately we only saw a few snowflakes but the temperature was in the teens, something we are not used to. In fact it was very cold for them as well.

We rode the Metro and the Circulator so it was very easy to get around even though there were thousands of tourists.


Our first designation was the National Gallery. This is a shot straight up on the corner of one of their buildings.



I’ve been struggling to get a cleaner style in my oil paintings, in fact I really have no style at all there. I do in my clay, watercolors and ink drawings but with every oil painting I start it’s like I’ve never done one before. I could be that I did them so seldom when I had Carolina Creations it was just a matter of not practicing.


Our favorite areas of the museum were the Impressionists and the contemporary art. I really haven’t studied art history or early painters since college, I just developed my own style. Now I see I should go back and study their oil painting techniques. I never paid attention to the fact that Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others used so much line in their work.

It’s something that I’m going to study and see if I can incorporate into my work, it suits me just fine since I use line in all the other mediums I work in.
Sometimes it takes a long time to notice something like this that is so obvious.



Went to the Vietnam Memorial to honor Michaels and other people we know that served our country.



So glad this is all the snow we saw!

We took a freezing cold but fun trip to Mount Vernon.


Of course the house is the same as I’d seen before but the rest has changed A LOT! There is a beautiful and informative museum that taught us all a lot we didn’t know about him and his life.

And they had an amazing gift shop.

There was very little in it that didn’t have a direct connection to the site. I’m always disappointed when I go to a gift shop of an historic site and see things that have nothing to do with it and you can get in any run of the mill gift shop.

I always think – if this was my shop there are so many things I could produce or have produced for it! While I no longer have a shop I am still creating work for Carolina Creations and others.

A chill visit to Ellicott City was short and sweet.

Next trip – a cruise, coming soon.

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I love my town – New Bern, NC

I’m loving retirement (retired from the retail business but not from creating art)! So today have time to walk around and take some photos of our Downtown. I don’t usually have time to do this until Christmas Day!

Our Downtown has really gotten into the season the past few years. We are finally getting some recognition for our efforts. Here is a link to a web post about a North Carolina tour of the best Christmas towns.