Tuesday, October 9, 2018

London and Cornwall, Devon, the Cotswolds September 2018

A short trip for us in mid-September. First, a few days in London visiting the Tate (not the Tate Modern but Tate Britain, first time there in many years), and traveling past Regents Park via canal boat from Little Venice to Camden Lock.

Then we joined a group (14 people) with Go Tours, led by a young man named Glenn who, we think, IS Go Tours! Incredible driver, which we were grateful for in the fog in the wilds of Dartmoor. Oncoming traffic meeting us, on one-lane roads with hedges either side, was a thrilling experience. The itinerary listed a lot of places, but it was really quite leisurely most of the time. The first day we stopped at Stonehenge, which, because you can't really view it by yourself, on a dawn morning, you just have to imagine it that way. (I probably spent more time there on my visit in 1981). We then spent several hours in
Salisbury cloister
Salisbury, another place I had been before, but a first time for Bill. Beautiful sun-shiny day, the gorgeous cathedral amazing inside and out, the Magna Carta, and really good food in the Refectory, surrounded by glass revealing the yellow stone of the cathedral's flank. Late afternoon we drifted around on the meadows above the Durdle Door on Devon's Jurassic Coast.

Dartmoor ponies
The second day we started out from Exeter, drove across Dartmoor, got out of the bus to pet some lovely wild ponies, some nice stops as well at Princetown (where The Hound of the Baskervilles was written) and Tavistock (a pleasant lunch in a market town). Afternoon stops at Polperro (a little too touristy) and Charlestown (a Poldark filming location) were adequate to give us some of the flavor of Cornwall fishing villages, and then we bedded down at our hotel in Falmouth.

The third day we drove a short distance to St. Ives, where we were dropped off right at the door to the Tate St. Ives, which is not only a lovely museum, but has fantastic views of the ocean and the town (in different directions). I also had time to walk down to the water's edge and get my feet wet and sandy. We stopped for a short visit to the Botallack Mines, another Poldark filming location on the green coast, but the highlight of the day was the Minack Theatre, hewn out of the rock by a crazy (!) and devoted woman. Plays are performed there at a breaktaking
Minack Theatre
location overlooking an azure bay. The last stop wasn't shabby either, Saint Michael's Mount, and we got there in time before the tide came in, so we could walk a good way on the causeway.

The fourth day started in the morning at Padstow, one of the nicest villages we saw in Cornwall. Reminded me of Honfleur, in Normandy, a bassin (harbor), peaceful, sparkling. Lovely also was the town of Port Isaac. Didn't matter there were jillions of folks walking up and down the paths to see Doc Martin's infirmary, it was a fantastic setting (as one knows seeing the program on TV). Had a leisurely lunch there at "Louise's school." Late afternoon we spent at Tintagel,
St. Materiana's Church, Tintagel
not enough time there, really, unless one has legs of a twenty-year-old, but I managed to walk up to the old church. Bill and I had dinner at a pleasant French restaurant across the plaza from Exeter's cathedral (where we heard even-song).

The fifth day began in Bath. We had time to tour the Roman Baths, stunning, and have a nice lunch in the Pump Room. Then Glenn drove us to two Cotswold villages, well-chosen, the first was Castle Combe (its church and churchyard very restful) and Bibury, which has very old weavers' cottages that are pictured on every English person's passport.

Our last two days in London we spent one long lunch at the London Review Bookstore, and the next day went to the National War Museum. Have a new favorite restaurant in London (although we also went back to the estimable Cantina Laredo)--it's Margaux on the Old Brompton Road, very friendly and relaxing and incredible food.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Summer 2018

Marina, S. and Elena
Once summer was underway it was June (somehow spring was a blur of mostly rainy days!). We had a great time with Elena and Marina in New York City, lunch on the East River, took the ferry to Staten Island, then met up with Karen for dinner at Boqueria. They were going to see the play "Come From Away," whereas Bill and I made our way back to L'ville.

This summer we spent a long time in Gilmanton, from July 6 to mid-August. On the way we stopped in Guilford at Sound Reach. A few days later was the service at Loon Pond for Nancy Ball. We had great visits with Steve and Vicki and the rest of the Gilmanton regulars. In late July I drove down to Chester, Connecticut for our annual Chester Conference. We had probably the best year ever, amazing poems, some new
Lawrence, Nan, Anne
members, perfect weather. After the conference I made an appearance at the annual General Andrew Ward Cemetery Association, my first attendance in several years. On our way home to L'ville we stopped in at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see an exquisite exhibition featuring Casanova. Dinner in Wellesley, overnight at the Warren Conference in Ashland, Massachusetts. Then back home in New Jersey we had a little over two weeks to prepare for our trip to London/Cornwall, coming up. In the meantime, more preparations were made for the mysterious new publication--hint, it's called Will There Be Music?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Fall 2017 into the New Year 2018

With Jim and Juditha in Ocean Grove
In early October I went with Juditha and Jim to Ocean Grove (we were reading poems at an event in Long Branch and decided to make it an overnight). The next morning we had brunch in town, then went for a long walk, Juditha and Jim giving me a first-rate tour of the area where they had once lived. The next week we had the delightful experience of watching over our very grownup nieces in Arlington while their mother spent a long weekend in New Orleans. They really did all the hard parts, we just looked on...! For Thanksgiving we flew to Buffalo on a very skinny plane (more storage under the seats than in the overhead compartments). We watched four members of the Rados family compete in the annual Turkey Trot, and did serious sightseeing in the burgeoning Buffalo metropolis. Back home I read with the Cools at a "Talk Turkey" themed reading at the Highland Park Library.

After a quiet Christmas at home, we stepped out in NYC for a few days before the New Year. The first day we met our friend Helga briefly at her show at the Nailya Alexander Gallery, had dinner at L'Artusi, and saw a terrific play "School Girls." The next day we had lunch with Eddie, Wendy and Alex, and then dinner with Joel and Susan at The Tartinery, followed by a performance by Artek at Old St. Patrick's. On the third day we had dinner at Loring Place and went to a performance by Tenet of Monteverdi at St. Joseph's. Back home on New Year's Eve (no Times Square for us!). In late January we took a day trip to Wilmington, Delaware, saw Chris Schopfer's factory, had lunch at De La Coeur Cafe, and went to the John Sloan exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum.
Detail of "Dante and Virgil in Union Square" by Isabel Bishop

In early February we flew to Long Beach, stayed with Janet in Laguna Beach a few days, had dinner with Kent's family, a quick visit with SMHS friend Joan, then stayed for a few days at an Air Bnb in Pasadena, had brunch with Ed and Gipsy, a few meals and a visit to the Italian American Museum in L.A. with Kirk and Melinda, plus our annual visit to
San Juan Capistrano
Santa Anita with Mimi. Back home in time for Valentine's dinner with Bill at Enoterra.

Then we had big plans to go to DC but slopoet contracted a bad cold, don't even ask, the next few weeks were a blur. Except that in moments of brief health she attended one class, one session of book group, took the train to NY to attend another Tenet concert at St Luke's, and performed a few poems with the Cools at the New Brunswick Library (themed reading was "Mud Season"). Followed by a relapse of sorts. It's now mid-March, life will start picking up again. I'm certain of that. For anyone actually following this blog, there is a real surprise coming up soon involving publication of a certain book.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Summer 2017

Flying to Zurich was a great idea, we really enjoyed our stays there at the beginning and end of our trip in June. After Zurich we headed south to Bologna, dinner at Ristorante al Sangiovese for old time's sake. Then we reported to the Villa Torre alle Tolfe outside of Siena for the 9-day seminar led by my old professor/director Giuseppe Mammarella.

Pinturicchio fresco in
Piccolomini Library in
Siena's Duomo
Giuseppe Mammarella

A shame there was a heat wave on at the same time, made some of the touring somewhat arduous. We really enjoyed meals with the group, trips to Siena, Lucca, Florence, Arezzo and Montalcino, and classes back at the villa (Italian film, Political Science, Art, and even Italian lessons, the advanced class for me).

At the new Stanford campus in Florence
Il Gruppo di 2017

After the seminar was over, we rented a car (wanted a Volvo, were given an Alfa Romeo, not really ideal for dirt roads...!) and set off for Country House Montali (our last visit had been in 2010 so we were long overdue). This whole trip was really a celebration of our ten-year anniversary, a little late. The pool at Montali was really welcome in the heat and the food was as good as ever. We made short trips, one to Perugia, another to Panicale to see again the room where we were married.

Portrait of Masolino
in Panicale Town Hall
Perugino's Madonna
and Child in Fontignano

When this part was done, we took the train to Milan, another great dinner at Hostaria al Borromei, and the next day boarded the Bernina Express for stunning views of the Swiss countryside on the way back to Zurich. One of the Siena seminar group lives in Zurich so we spent some time with her on our last day, as well as visiting James Joyce's grave.

James Joyce, Zurich

Bill and Betty Gerson, lunch in Zurich
Dinner at Olea in Brooklyn
on our way home from Europe
I wasn't home very long before it was time to go to Chester again with my special poetry friends. Refreshment for the mind before our month in Gilmanton. Which has just now concluded. I would say the highlight of Gilmanton this year was my winning the annual croquet match. So I am up-to-date for once. Always an article for the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey to finish--the current one is our fifth in the series and due to come out in mid-September.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Winter 2017

Beginning December 7 with the launch of Volume Six of the Cool Women Anthology series, the Cool Women have been performing at a fever pitch, doing two more readings in March, and two in April. All our activities are up on our website at http://coolwomenpoets.org. In between this activity Chris Schopfer and I were getting out our third article in the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey (it came out in January). Lois, Judy, and Juditha (of the Cools) and I participated in the Women's March in Trenton on January 21 (8,000 strong).

Then Bill and I headed to California on January 31, this time Southern California only, nice visits in the Pasadena area with our friend Mimi (Santa Anita races), Kirk and Melinda (saw their new home, and stopped in at Melinda's new workplace at the Washington Elementary School library in San Gabriel), and had dinner with Ed and Gypsy Bergstrom. With Fran and Roger we toured the Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades, home of Lion Feuchtwanger, exiled German writer, and then went to the Los
Library at Villa Aurora
Angeles County Museum of Art. My sister and I went to the Casa Romantica in San Clemente, home of Ole Hanson, founder of the city, and then I went back there a few days later with Bill. We drove down to San Diego to spend the last few days of our vacation. One day we went to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, and another day was spent walking the beach at the La Jolla Shores. We also paid a sunset visit to Sunset Cliffs. Back home February 13.
San Diego Museum of Art

On March 9, I read to a very special group of friends from Guilford (many came from the Guilford Poets Guild, the sponsor) at the Guilford Free Library. It was a lovely place to read, and the audience was especially lively. It was taped for the local cable TV station and can be viewed here.

Volume four of our genealogical series is soon to be out. Flowers are finally blooming here in New Jersey (also our heat is still on, I notice!)--it's May for goodness sake. Yesterday Bill and I were in the city to hear Parthenia (group of viola da gambists) perform at St. Luke in the Fields, and dinner in the Village at Dell'Anima. Getting ready for our getaway in June, to Siena.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Fall 2016

My sister and I took off on the same day, September 27, she from Los Angeles and I from Newark. We arrived in Berlin a little over an hour apart. Highlights were the boat tour on the Spree, Max Liebermann's villa, my visit to Die Brücke Museum featuring paintings by Emil Nolde, dinners with Tyler and Kathi.

Mjällby Church
On to Sweden, starting with an overnight in Malmö, then we drove to Solvesborg, visited the church where our great-grandparents were married (Mjällby), and roamed around the gorgeous farmland, even stopped here and there at the coast. We stayed the next night at Bäckaskog Slott (“slott” means castle) where our great-grandfather just might have worked as King Karl XV’s wine steward.

The next day we drove to Lake Vättern and another castle to stay in, Västanå Slott. Woke up to a beautiful day for our next day of visits to locations for our great-grandparents on father’s maternal side. We visited the churches where the two of them were baptised, one in Ödeshög (our great-grandfather) and one at Stora Åby (our great-grandmother). She had grown up in Amundeby, and he in Kushult, both small villages of fewer than 5 farms. We found both places, and were welcomed by current neighbors into their homes, near where our family’s farms were located.
Stora Åby Church

We took the train to Stockholm, my first visit there. We went to Uppsala for the day with Corinne, then she came back with us to Stockholm. Highlights for me walking on the island Djurgården (visiting two art museums, Prince Eugen’s house and Thielsket Galleriet), and exploring Södermalm, where our great-grandparents had married (at Katarina Kyrka) and lived (Lotsgatan neighborhood) before
Prince Eugen’s house
they came to America.

Janet and I took the night ferry from Stockholm to Estonia, arriving the next morning. We had a wonderful guided tour of Talinn, visiting the old city (at both upper and lower elevations), Kadriorg Park, and the amphitheater where the famous choral festivals are held. The next day I went to the City Museum, which had five floors.

The next day we took the ferry to Helsinki, where we spent two nights. I spent my full day there exploring the park where the Sibelius Monument was located, and visiting the Ateneum, Helsinki’s wonderful art museum. We flew home on October 15, all-in-all an
Cafe Regatta, Helsinki
envigorating trip.

Not home for long, though, Bill and I flew out to Portland, Oregon for a four-day trip including a stay in Dufur, where our friend Penelope has her writing house. To get there we drove up the Columbia River Gorge, a place I hadn’t been in a long time. On the way we stopped at Multnomah Falls, always a thrill. Back in Portland the Cool Women gave a reading at Penelope’s house, a series called The White Dog Salon, the reason for our visit. My college friend Peggy was able to go, and we also had a good visit with her and Bill at their
Mt. Hood from Dufur, Oregon
house in Portland.

Our next jaunt was to Buffalo for Thanksgiving. On the way we stayed in Horseheads, New York, to break up the trip. In Buffalo one day Phil drove us to Niagara Falls, another place known to me only from childhood memory. On the way home we stopped off at Seneca Falls, visited the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, then stayed overnight in Ithaca, espresso at Gimme Coffee and dinner at Moosehead Restaurant. The next day on our way home I engineered a detour to Walpack Center, the village left behind but mercifully never submerged by a failed dam project. This was the place my mother came to visit her cousin as a child. I found this cousin’s grandparents’ graves in the local cemetery. Our last stop was in nearby Branchville where we found Broad Street Books, a fabulous used bookstore.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mid 2016

May 2016 will be remembered as the date of publication (in the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey) of my first genealogical article, co-authored with collaborator Chris Schopfer, about New Jersey founder William Sandford, who received in 1668 a crown grant of 30,000 acres in the area of New Jersey now called New Barbadoes Neck. Sandford was always referred to as an Englishman from Barbados, but no one had solved his parentage. Chris and I slogged through various pathways to find William Sandford baptised in Hamburg, Germany in 1637, the son of Thomas Sandford, a merchant adventurer. We are on schedule for part two of this saga, which should appear in the September issue of GMNJ.

In June we spent a fun day in Philadelphia, precisely on June 16, Bloomsday. We attended much of the annual reading of Joyce's Ulysses held outside the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Local opera singers rounded out the program by performing songs which appear in the book, including a thrilling rendition of "La Ci Darem La Mano."

This year in Gilmanton I found myself the featured poet at Bill Donahue's Scriven Arts Colony on
August 6, a reading in front of many old Gilmanton friends and family in the Donahue family barn. This was a very special place to read, a night to remember. The very next day I drove down to Chester, CT to meet with the formidable Chester Conference Group (we change our name at will...). We eight poets read at the Maple and Main Gallery in downtown Chester on Wednesday night August 10, where one of us, the incomparable Gray Jacobik, was also having a solo exhibit of her paintings.

Remember August 23, 2016 as the date my lovely condo at Long Hill Farm was finally sold!! No more for me the life of the landlord, biting my nails until the next repair might be needed. Lovely to own only one house at a time. I'm still waiting to drink the bottle of Brunello di Montalcino my realtor gave me to celebrate. It was rattling around in the trunk of my car as we were coming home from Gilmanton. Perhaps I'll wait til the eve of my departure on the next planned trip, which you will soon hear about in the forthcoming installment of this blog. It involves Swedish ancestors and...my sister, that's all you'll get from me at this point.