Archive for October, 2010

Mommy’s Got a Cruisin’ Beach Bike

Readers, meet my new bike! Well, I should say, my new used bike. I love my new bike. It is so awesomely fabulous, I would still adore it, even if it spent the rest of its life sitting in the downstairs bike storage space…which it won’t, I assure you. This baby begs to be out on the open road…and I feel compelled to park my wide ass on that equally wide seat. In truth, I was really bummed I couldn’t ride it to my lunch appointment today — I didn’t have my accoutrement together, such as lock, helmet, etc.

I plan on using this little gem as a fun, commute to in-city work appointments, mode of transportation. I do believe that I need to get a little white basket for the front (yes, I mean “need,” not “want”). I haven’t spent a lot of time on it, but it is a kick to ride. It’s an instant age regression. Sitting so upright…no gears…a big fat cushy seat…pedaling backward to brake. Love it!

Learned something interesting at the bike store today. Our sales guy said that the way thieves are popping kryptonite locks these days is by using the tiny jacks from tiny cars, such as the Mini Cooper. If a bike owner wants to thwart said robbers, it was recommended to us that we buy a lock with the smallest opening needed to affix our two-wheeler to a bike rack. The goal is to prevent them from having enough space to maneuver the jack into the lock, because if they have enough of an opening, they can pop it. The smaller and tighter the fit, the better. Who knew?

High Glass, Glassmorous, Glassy, Glastacular … Okay, I’ll stop!

Tom and I … Amtrak … Tacoma, Washington … no kids … overnight. I must say, we found ourselves entranced with the city’s historic architecture and glass art offerings.

Before our visit, I had no idea that Tacoma was Dale Chihuly‘s birthplace — he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. (A quick aside, Dale’s site is shockingly … well, retro … and not in a good way.) I had no idea that so much of his art was on display throughout the city. I had no idea there was a Museum of Glass devoted solely to glass art, right downtown.

And, I had no idea that said museum had a fully functional Hot Shop (glassblowing studio), complete with a guide narrating the action, in which you could sit and observe. In fact, their Web site has a live video feed of the Hot Shop, and you can even ask questions of the emcee online.

To get to the Museum of Glass, we walked across The Bridge of Glass, pictured below, on the left, which is an impressive connector between the beautifully restored, historic Union Station, and the very modern, cone-shaped museum.

There are a multitude of pieces by Chihuly on the overpass, a very impressive selection. The most visually imposing are the towering blue glass sculptures, called the Crystal Towers, that adorn the bridge, shown in two photos below. The towers were rather impressive in the sunlight, not so his remaining masterpieces on the walkway.

Enclosed in frames along one edge of the bridge is an arrangement called the Venetian Wall, featuring some of the largest hand blown works ever created. This exhibit was very poorly lit when we were there, which happened to be on a very bright, sunny day. The natural daylighting was not effective and everything looked washed out and sadly unspectacular. The Seaform Pavilion displays marine-inspired forms in an overhead installation, and again, they were very dull and muted. Both of these displays have artificial lighting for cloudy days and evening viewing. I would recommend the latter to truly enjoy the experience. (I had to play around with contrast on these pictures from the Seaform Pavilion to make them pop.)

Our first reaction to the displays: “They need to call Steve Wynn to jazz this up a bit — he knows how to light a Chihuly!!”

After passing over the bridge, it was off to the museum for us.

Two of the galleries were closed because they were installing new exhibits, so we entered with a discount and went to the Hot Shop, which was really riveting. We learned a ton while watching a team of blowers and an artist crafting pieces that were inspired by the cosmos.

We also toured the one open gallery, which contained, amongst other things, a neat program where they take fanciful children’s drawings and realize them in glass. The final exhibit includes a combined presentation of the child’s original picture and the derivative glass piece. Very entertaining, and technically, quite difficult for the artisans.

All in all, definitely worth a visit. We came away with a real respect for, and an abiding interest in, glass art.

There’s a Lady in my Tea Cup!

No really! I’m serious.

I have had the tea set pictured here since 1998. It was my paternal grandmother’s, and it became mine when she passed away that year. All of the pieces are white ceramic with painted dragons on the plates, cups and teapot. But today … just today, as I was washing out the cups to make some Chai for myself and my homebound family, I noticed something … there was what appeared to be a white relief image of a face in the bottom of the tea cup.

It is very faint, hardly noticeable. (As you can see in the photo above, you can’t tell it’s there at all.) When I angled the cup around, it became more and more obvious. Then, I held it up to the light and the face went from a faint negative image to a very clear positive depiction of a woman. To see it in more detail, you can click on the the three thumbnails below. The first picture is the white relief made more visible by adjusting the image. The next displays the positive image when held up to the light. The last is her peaking out from underneath some Chai!

Fascinating, the things you don’t notice, for years, under your own nose … or lips … or tea.