Archive for April, 2010

Berlin Wall and the Red Army

Andy Goldsworthy

Wandering through the Kentuck Knob sculpture park we saw: pop art by Claes Oldenburg, London’s red telephone booths, and  Harry Bertoia’s elegant and simple wind chimes just to name a few.  We also came across a piece of the Berlin Wall, which I never thought I would see again after leaving Germany (first).  I also posed for a picture among Ray Smith’s Red Army (second).  Of all of these though,  most exciting was running into not one, but two! of Andy Goldsworthy’s pieces (third and fourth).  Both Wayne and I have been big fans of AG since being introduced to his work sometime during our architectural education.  Being someone who collaborates with nature, his works are most often ephemeral in nature and therefore clearly documented in photograph.  We own a few of his books along with a really great documentary called Rivers and Tides which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the confluence of nature and art.


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Mel @ Kentuck Knob


From the heat of D.C. we headed to the mountains of western Pennsylvania (where it just happened to be snowing!) with plans to tour two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Wayne had previously visited both in 1999 after graduating from high school and he was very excited to go back.   

Kentuck Knob was our first stop.  The 1200 square foot house, commissioned by the Hagan family in 1953 was designed when Frank was in his mid 80’s.  They lived there for over 30 years before selling the house and surrounding 80 acres to the Palumbo family of England in 1986.  Avid collectors and admirers of Frank’s work, the Palumbos vacationed at Kentuck Knob until 1996, when they opened it for public tours.  To this day the Palumbo family still owns the house and have done an amazing job of maintaining it.  They have also put some of the surrounding 80 acres to use as a sculpture garden, exhibiting works of many well-known artists throughout the world.  Those blogs to come!

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D.C. for a Day

American Indian Museum (above), Capitol Building (below)

Lincoln Memorial (above), Sculpture Garden (below)

With daylight burning, we made a beeline from our hotel to the D.C. mall, trying to take in as many sights as possible.  Though I had been to D.C. in my high school years, there was a lot I didn’t remember.  For instance, I had forgotten just how vast the mall really is.  There should be some type of disclosure on the map: actual distances much longer than they appear. 

Anyway, our first stop was the Museum of Natural History which we quickly cruised through, taking in some insect and bone exhibits as well as a quick glance at the hope diamond.  Next we hit the Smithsonian Air and Flight Museum where I learned that I would not have qualified to be a flight attendant back in the day.  Also on the list was the American Indian Museum which had some interesting exhibits and a mean buffet (thanks Kat!) that served different regional native american cuisines.  We also cruised through the Botanical Garden, did a drive by the Capital Building, spent three hours in the Holocaust Museum, and did a quick stroll through the Vietnam Wall and Lincoln Memorial, finishing just as the sun was setting.

I don’t think either one of us have been that exhausted before or since!  Our feet ached and we both whined the whole way to the car.  It felt good to sit, so we sat and we drove north looking for a cheap place to crash for the nite.

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Clockwise front the top left: A Sedum of some kind, Lithops (living stones), Maranta leuconeura (red-veined prayer plant) and Aeonium (Purple rose tree).

Some photographs for my dear friend and fellow plant-lover, Naz, on her birthday!  I hope you have an amazing day and may nature continue to always inspire you!  Naz is well versed in the language of plants and recently founded her company, Flowerfolk, creating organic herbal beauty products.  I couldn’t rave more about her creations, which she is now selling on etsy, so check them out!  My faves include the rose elixir and rose toner along with the facial steams (a little bit of heaven during the long, cold winter months), and don’t forget the eye cream and comfrey salve (which has really come in handy for our cuts and scrapes on the trip), oh and the mint lip gloss is delicious!  I love it all!

We took these photos on a visit to the Gethsemane Garden Center in Chicago.   More on our time spent in the windy city will be forthcoming!

Sweet dreams dear Naz!


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Shenandoah Lookout (above), South River Falls (below)

Opting for the scenic route over the mundane interstate drive between Charlottesville and D.C., Wayne and I headed West for the mountains.  We stopped by the visitor center to get the lowdown on Shenandoah National Park and any recommended hikes when the guide warned us of a shooting that had happened the night before, telling us to avoid a certain area.  (Hmm…wonder where runaway murderers hide out?) Luckily the incident happened south of where we were headed but still, it put me a little on edge. 

We spent the better part of the day, speedometer at 25 mph, winding though the one lane highway with windows down enjoying the sun and valley views.  After hemming and hawing over which hike we wanted to do, I picked a “moderate” two and a half hour hike to South River Falls.  (We wanted a workout but weren’t sure our physical stamina was ready for “strenuous”).  As we pulled into the trailhead lot, we met a couple from D.C. in their 70’s who had just finished the hike.  I was a little worried that maybe we should have gone with a strenuous course instead!  We did the hike anyway, and despite its relative ease we did get a good workout on the way back, not to mention a nice tan! For all you west coasters out there, just remember that east coast standards are lower than western ones when it comes to rating hikes, something I learned years ago in Boston! 

In the end, it took us almost six hours to drive 65 miles through the park and we arrived in D.C. later that night.  On the way, we met up with our friend Peter, who lives in the area and recommended dinner at Ray’s Hell Burger, a hopping little hole in the wall that serves a mean burger and which Obama recently dined.  Though short we had a good time catching up and the food hit the spot!

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Pedestrian Mall (above), Outdoor Pavilion(below)

We hit the scenic road through rolling hills of green pastures on our way from Sussex County, VA to D.C., stopping in the very beautiful and quaint college town of Charlottesville, VA for a nite.  It was here where Thomas Jefferson built his home, Monticello and later created the University of Virginia in 1819.  The campus is a classical architecture wonder where red bricks and white collonades abound.

We stumbled upon their downtown district, a pedestrian only area anchored on one end by a large tensile structured outdoor pavilion.  After talking with some locals, we learned that the city made the conversion from vehicular to pedestrian traffic in the 70’s and though the idea took awhile to catch on, it is now a vibrant and bustling hub of activity.  We enjoyed a lovely breakfast on the brick-paved walkways beneath the canopy of trees before hitting the road…again.

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Meet Virginia

Some things I learned in Virginia:

  • The Virginia state bird is the cardinal
  • Apparently some Virginians didn’t have to take the same driving test I did to get a driving license because I saw numerous road signs that read, “Do not pass when solid line is on your side”
  • They have bald eagles and lots of turkeys
  • That the chicken crossed the road to prove to the opossum that it could be done
  • Only the really small ticks are cause for worry, and only if they bite you, and really only if the bite becomes red and infected
  • If you go far enough South, they have southern accents
  • The dominant grocery store chain is called “Food Lion”

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