Carolyn is a big fan of Dale Chihuly’s art having seeing pieces displayed around the globe. Our visit to his newly opened (2012) Museum and Gardens in Seattle was an opportunity for her to share this interest of hers with me while seeing many pieces together in the same place for the first time. And of course there were a few things she hadn’t seen before - just because Dale can only see out of one eye and can’t blow his own glass anymore hasn’t stopped him from creating a wide array of pieces.
Interestingly the indoor displays were mostly within completely black rooms with strategically placed spot lighting. The feel was very different from a more traditional stark, white-walled museum set-up. Photos were equally difficult to take while also displaying the colored glass better than I could have imagined.
I particularly loved the pieces of glass overflowing in a couple of row boats. Apparently Chihuly was attempting to make temporary art, putting pieces of glass into a river, letting them float down and become art wherever they were, wherever they landed. Kids on the water gathered the pieces up and loaded them into their boats. Chihuly found new inspiration in this and created bountiful boats of his own.
And then there was the special glass conservatory created for this space, apparently a dream of Chihuly’s which he was excited to bring to life after admiring many beautiful glass conservatories worldwide. We visited mid-day and again in the evening to see the space as the light changed the experience. And of course got our photo taken in the space whenever possible - to prove we were actually there together. Viva Chihuly!
Carolyn and I met in Seattle during the first weekend in August 2014. It had been a loooong time since we had an excursion like this and we made the most of our time together. We knew Seattle would be a great city to explore but the fact that it turned out the be Fleet Week, combined with wonderful, sunny weather made it all that more special.
Despite having made numerous trips to Pike Place Market with Jeremy and some of the Dillers over the years we made the stop to this iconic Seattle spot uniquely our own including a focus on the humor of the touristy spot and visiting the sweet smelling Gum Wall hidden right below the well known signage. Thank goodness that fluffy white dog didn’t get too close to the walls!
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Archie McPhee - well, in my mind at least. Jeremy indulged me and we made a stop there on my first visit with Seattle with him, and I had to make sure Carolyn had the opportunity to go. We caught an express bus that dropped us right out front - how smart of them to have set up a bus line with door-to-door service to a store selling Emergency Googly Eyes, Vintage Cigar Box stickers and candy cigarettes.
Amazingly despite many visits to the Seattle area and a fair amount of time in Seattle proper I had never been up IN the Space Needle built for the 1962 World’s Fair. This was the trip! Life is about new experiences - and great views and good food, right? We indulged in a three course brunch with some of the best views ever for Seattle, tasty food (like spicy sausage gravy with soft flaky biscuits), and excellent company. As the restaurant rotated little Post-It notes would come around on the glass, written by some other younger diners entertaining themselves, asking questions like “Did You Like Frozen? - Yes or No?” and “Are You a Gemini?”
Months earlier I learned about the *new* Chihuly museum and garden in Seattle and told my mom she should plan a visit. A passing “We should meet there and go together!” comment turned into this actual trip and it was certainly the star of the show, worthy of it’s own post, but for now, here is a taste of how the two worlds met - Space Needle and Chihuly - 1962 and 2014. Such a wonderful city!
As seen on an evening walk in my neighborhood. I smiled … it worked.
When I first arrived in Los Angeles the plan was to stay for 3 months, the duration of the Emerson program I was enrolled in to complete my college degree. I was not a fan of Boston and had enough credits to graduate early, but needed to finish up a few remaining credits. Not knowing where I’d want to move after school ended and put my film production degree to use I figured I should cross Los Angeles off my list. Having visited a few times and not being a driver I knew I would not be interested in permanently taking up residence in Southern California. But a few months by a pool, reading scripts and experiencing the city so I could be sure it was not for me seemed just fine.
Well, in a few short weeks I’ll be marking my 13th anniversary as an Angeleno. Before I know it this will surpass my years in Chicago and I will be more an LA woman than a Chicago girl. How strange….
When I first moved to LA I did what all good college kids on a budget do - I shopped for everything at IKEA. I even purchased my first house plant there, for $2. It was a simple little plant with two leaves which I assumed would die quickly but that’s not at all what happened. It flourished. Even though I’ve only changed its soil a couple times and often fail to water it consistently it has grown longer and longer and longer now a garland with dozens of leaves.
The other morning I noticed up at the tippy top of the plant, really the base, the root of the single branch, was new bud sprouted. It made me so happy. This little plant has been so resilient, so surprisingly strong. Interesting how nearly 13 years into its life this plant is finding a way to start over, begin anew while still keeping it’s core growing, green as ever. There’s a lesson in this I’m sure, a message about new beginnings building on strong roots. I look forward to seeing this grow, and growing myself along side with it, as we have all these years so far.
Thank you IKEA! Those might be the best $2 I ever spent.
Euro-Trip! - The Grand Finale
Goodbye Barcelona! Goodbye Europe! Thank you for an amazing, memorable, exhausting, enlightening two weeks!
On our final night in Barcelona we decided that due to an early start the next day for our 24 hour journey back to Los Angeles that we should lay low and take it easy. The moment we stepped outside our apartment we were reminded how lively the city is and that you never know what you’ll see around the corner.
Right away we heard the pop-popping sound of, well, maybe gun shoots. We smelled some kind of smokey residue in the air but then also heard the pounding of drums and saw people, with children, rushing towards the action so we knew whatever was happening was not trouble but instead celebration. And this is what we saw:
Two “teams” dressed in decorated full-body outfits were performing a drum line-like routine followed by an all-out giant sparkler/fireworks display. One person on the team rolled a basket behind the others, reloading them with more pyrotechnic tools for each new performance, about a block apart. We rooted for the red team, dressed like devils, who danced excitedly at each intersection where locals stopped to enjoy the show.
Though the whole thing had the feeling of spontaneity, it turned out it was well a organized, government sanctioned Fiesta Major, complete with police cars and an ambulance following along as the parade of excitement moved block by block through the neighborhood, ensuring the show was an exciting, but peaceful, experience for all.
It was an unexpected, exciting way to cap off our time in Spain. How they knew it was our last night and that we were hoping for a big send-off we’ll never know, but we enjoyed it thoroughly, and even have video to share so you can hear the sounds of the performance to enjoy it as much as we did in that wonderful moment.
Euro-Trip! - Part 8
Barcelona - From a Distance and Up Close
With limited time in Barcelona we, in typical Diller form, didn’t waste our time dilly-dallying at the beach working on our tan, we worked on our tan while covering town from one end to the other on foot, by bus, riding a teleferic and via metro.
In the morning we ran up (and up and up) around Parc Guell, peering into the outdoor Gaudi Museum from above, then freshened up before taking the crazy, cross-city 55 bus for an hour to the end of the line where you can pick up the Teleferic in Parc de Mt. Juic. The two-segment ride brought us up to a castle with views of beautiful blue port covered in colorful shipping containers and dotted with a couple huge cruise ships. The view was fantastic, showing off the warm orange hues of the city, which I hadn’t noticed when walking around but were clear when seeing the city as a whole. And La Sagrada Familia stood out amongst everything, even so far away, the heart of the city.
The way down afforded us the opportunity to see huge spaces created for the 1992 Olympics along with the smallest artistic details built into the concrete next to fountains. While we did not experience the fabled Magic Fountain at night it was a pleasure to sit near it, resting our weary bodies, as we listened to sound-check for a massive Pride Festival happening nearby. Barcelona was nothing if not lively at every corner.
Later we took a break near Gaudi’s Batllo House for people watching and sangria pondering the economic split of various neighborhoods and just how people carrying large pieces of art would get them home with only a tiny car or scooter as transportation. We thought the day was capped with hot churros dipped in even hotter melted chocolate, but later we discovered that our trip would not end without a bang….
Euro Trip! - Part 7
Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia
I was very pleasantly surprised when we stepped inside La Sagrada Familia. A fan of Gaudi’s work from my very brief visit to Barcelona more than a decade ago, nothing about photos of La Sagrada Familia made me want to visit it. But my parents generously offered to cover the entrance to any Gaudi work of art we wanted to see. We agreed that the towers (which we were staying within 10 minutes walking distance of) were the best choice. I’m so thankful we did.
Externally from afar Gaudi’s towers, begun in 1883, appear odd and uninviting. Once I stepped inside of this special place I was transported to a whole other world. Sleek, smooth, gentle and heartfelt the church is a true sanctuary, what I would call womb-like. The truest labor of love. A wonderful place to spend an afternoon with my husband, feeling the presence of something greater than us. At the very least the presence of Gaudi who died while this work of art was still in it’s infancy. Someday, after the church’s expected completion in 2041, we will have to return and see the final result of a genius’s artistic vision.
Euro Trip! - Part 7
Barcelona - Eating Our Way Thru La Boqueria
As food lovers our visit to La Boqueria just off La Rambla in Barcelona was a paradise. The moment you want into the market fresh juices greet you with bright colors and fresh smells. At every turn new types of produce or fish met you, welcoming you into their work. I will never again see such a welcoming set-up from which to purchase fresh eggs or gummie candies of every imaginable type. I was a feast for the eyes, and our bellies.
We started with small, traditional spanish tapas like spinach croquettes and cheese-covered potatoes. Jeremy then moved on to an organic spicy taco that gave our local Mexican food in Los Angeles a run for it’s money. I walked around and around the market, with a coconut banana juice in hand, searching for the perfect seafood dish which I decided was a marinated octopus with tiny shrimp which rocked my world.
Our timing was perfect, we had about an hour to explore the market before vendors started to close up for the early afternoon to refresh for the late afternoon arrival of fresh seafood. If I could have found a way, I would have spent all of our time in Barcelona at that market. Of course there was much more to explore, but this was certainly a highlight - there’s a reason why everyone recommends coming here despite it being a touristy spot. It highlights the best of the beautiful culinary delights of Spain.