Friday, October 11, 2013

Off I go again.

South Carolina, Middleton Plantation:   Photo by my friend Ken Schwarz (one of the friends I will visit)

I have to say that it is harder for me to pack than most people.  Monsieur can practically do it in his sleep.  Friends J. and G. travel so often, the same probably applies.  And some of my French buddies just travel with a back-pack!   

Not thinkable!  If you have just a "back- pack" what do you wear for all of different activities : climbing the dunes, lying on the beach, swimming, seeing museums, going to restaurants.... not to mention hanging about the house or a coffee shop swapping stories?  I am getting more casual but one change of clothes doesn't cut it.  Well, I will sort that tomorrow. 

Yes,   I am going off in a couple of days for several weeks (without Monsieur who will be staying put with Mozzi) to visit two sets of friends that I haven't seen for years.  They just happen to both live in South Carolina...on different sides of Charleston.

Besides getting a whiff of Charleston,  I understand that the lowland coast road to Georgia is a National Geographic destination.  So after the first week, I will meet my brother, Dave, and we will drive that route to Savannah, Georgia.

Sullivan's Island, South Carolina,  Photo by Ken Schwarz

 I first and foremost want to visit with my friends in their natural habitat.    But Dave and I both want to get a feel for our southern roots.  Our father was from Richmond, Virginia.  Growing up on the west coast, however, meant that we only saw our Richmond relatives a few times in our lives.  In fact we have pretty much lost touch with the cousins on our father's side.  When we were kids we did the trip from California to Virginia by car to see them at least twice and stayed one summer in Richmond for a time.

I have some hilarious memories of those unsettling road trips.  Just imagine traveling across country with a baby, 4 other kids under 12, and two adults all crammed in a Hudson Hornet with no air conditioner and you will have an inkling of why I won't be doing that again this lifetime.

I don't know what this trip will bring and that perhaps is the point of traveling.  So just to say that I may not get back to you for a while or open your mail ...but then if I can,  I might..... as sharing this diary with you has become a pleasure I didn't expect.   

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Calvi and Down-ward facing Dog.

For a couple of months now I have been experimenting with yoga again.  I have done the practice on and off for years but without an instructor, just a book. 

It started with my parents who introduced yoga to the family.   We did the poses together on the living room floor, all seven of us.  That is, until I hurt my neck and got frightened to do the head stand again.  I was about nine and couldn't lift my head for a few days.   I thought the doctor was saying I had a "rye" neck ( two slices with pickle).  I didn't question that word for years.  But here it is on google:

Wry Neck (Torticollis)is a painfully twisted and tilted neck. The head is generally tilted to one side and the chin to the other. 

That was it!  Anyway, it put me off yoga for quite a while.

But lately,  I have been down to our friendly "salle de gym", Fit Hub, on the port of Nice.... picking up the practice with Camilla.  She is Swedish, lovely and dedicated to training us correctly while insuring we have a good experience. 

It does seem that in her classes I have spent most of my time in "downward facing dog"...but actually she is building all of our muscles equally and I am slowly improving.

 So last month when Colette, the owner and manager of Fit Hub, announced a yoga weekend in Corsica I jumped at the chance.  

It was my first time on the ferry and the trip was only to visit Calvi, but the experience turned out to be delicious in every way. 

For starters, our hotel had views of the sea and the rooms were only 55 euros a night.  It is called Il Tramonto and I  recommend it if you are not accustomed to posh or a spongey bed.  If you like soft, forget it;  I felt like I was sleeping on a plank the first night.  But after that I was so pleasantly tired (and I had found the blanket) that I never noticed.  

And no question, Corsica is a beautifully rustic place... a nice contrast to the city.  A little "toy" train took us to Calvi after we embarked at Ile de Rousse and we were set for our idyll .  Here is some evidence of our fine time:

On the deck of ferry crossing

Janel (Welsh), Laura (Irish), Colette (Irish), Ciara (Irish), Anne (French), Sarah (Swedish)

First views of Calvi from the "trainette"

View of Calvi from train

Tiny isolated beach below the hotel

Anne before morning yoga starts at eight

The girls get cleaned up for a night out

Meals out fueled stories and mirth

Sarah and Colette at sandy beach in town

 It was good to wake up at Il Tramonto to the views of the changing seascape.  The rooms are clean and spacious and the two sisters who run the hotel are friendly and helpful.   Il tramonto is about seven minutes walk from the town center ( bring a roller bag or back pack 'cause its up hill) which means it is quiet. 

What I really loved though, was being thrown together with a savvy and very amusing bunch of young women, none of whom I had met before the trip.  Thankfully we all got on splendidly even though I could have been their mother or grandmother! 

 I probably laughed more that weekend than I have all year.  And Colette is an excellent instructor and her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.  There was no question that I wanted "in" when I heard she was the organizer. 

We did our sessions on a secluded terrace next to the boules court where yoga poses gave us a view of the changing cloudscape.   With a pale white crescent moon peeking through the clouds, it was pretty darn magical.

Alassio, Italy

Photo by Aline

I have been wavering about continuing my blog.  I think I started writing it since I grew completely uninterested in continuing art and needed to do something that I considered creative. 

 I had been painting for almost 20 years and it seemed like that passion would just go on forever.... but for the last couple of years, the art studio seemed the last place I wanted to be.  I wanted, instead, to be outdoors in the garden or on my bike, with friends and family or even working on my online studio rental.....  anywhere but in my painting cave.

But a couple of weeks ago, I started the school term for my print making class.   The "prof"  is challenging us to do more professional work this year.  Apparently there is a long waiting list for the classe and I now realize that I have been taking the opportunity for granted. In a few years I have to cede my place in the course.. so now I am feeling challenged again. 

I had vowed not to write another post until I had come up with an idea for my next engraving.... but now I think I have one..... so here I am back in my writing "chair" ( pillows propped up on my bed!)

Before all this started percolating though....after Lourmarin, I splashed out on some more little trips.  It seems like I have been saying "yes" to everything for a change.

  One of these day trips was to Alassio, Italy with 8    engaging women in a celebratory mood.  We were there to honor Fiore's birthday.

 Alassio is wonderful and feels intimate.  The beaches are sand, the vibe is relaxed and distinctly Italian.   For one thing,  there is no imposing boulevard like the Promenade des Anglais near the water in it feels like the village touches the beach.

To say that the beach chairs are almost all the canvas kind that swag under your body might give you a hint of how a different ambiance is created.  Without stones, there is a kind of comfortable informality with folks really close together in the portable canvas chairs all moved around at different angles.  

 And too, the Mediterranean at Alassio is shallow for a long stretch which makes a difference in the way one bathes. 

  But Alassio is not all about the beaches.  There is a fine park, and all of the Italian specialness that we have come to expect in old architecture and  shops and of course distinctive restaurants, cafes, gelato vendors and bakeries.  

 Here are a few pics of our fine day . And as a record I spoke French non-stop for 12 hours!

Sophie, Fiore, Me.... Photo by Aza

Aza ( Chechen), Fiore ( Italian), Aline (French), Pierrette( French), Adele (Italian), Marie Pierre (French) Brigitte (French..lives in Ghana)...waiting for Christine before we start out. Photo by M.Payne

Brigitte, Adele, Fiore, by Aline

First impression of Alassio

Marie Pierre and Brigitte pose for the camera.

Fiore blows out her birthday candle.

Christine models her 5 euro shoes!

Brigitte after her dip in the sea