Saturday oasis

Whew. What a week. Busy at work + a few days of some fever affliction (all better now) = one depleted human (me.)

It’s now Saturday morning and I’m the only one awake. Waking at 5:45 am on a Saturday??! Makes no sense, but here I am.

While the coffee brewed I played with a new “toy” called “transfer copied image onto things” using an ad market blender pen and photocopies (not print outs, must be toner based not ink). 

Oh the possibilities. 

Here’s a black and white of Frank Lloyd Wright transferred into my sketchbook and then colored with pencils.

I’m going to have some coffee now. Saturday morning coffee on the patio. 68°F. 

An oasis.


pappa is visiting this week.   

We had steaks for dinner and key lime pie, and pears and cheese and blackberry wine for dessert. 

Then this evening we sat outside on the back porch talking and listening to catydids and looked for shooting stars. 

A few more

More from the short week I spent in Sweden.   Hard to believe this was just three days ago.  A stop at some of my dad’s friends on Alnö in the middle of Sweden.
  I love her hair.  Also her daughter won the bronze medal in skicross at the 2014 Winter Olympics.  A boy named Oskar reads in the summer sun.
  Alnö is the home of an old church built in the late 1100’s.    The old stone wall.
  Zane signs the guest book.  I wonder if anyone else from Arkansas has ever visited this old church.  The walls and ceilings were painted before Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas.
  The pulpit was added sometime in the 1600’s.    And the church pew doors and the aisle and the upper balcony, looking toward the back/entrance of the church.

5 days filled with a lot of driving, visits, fika, new places and experiences and meeting new people, and it’s time to return home. I’m so happy for this time with Zane and my dad. And happy Zane gets two more weeks of even more!

Silent Picture Show

  leaving on a jet plane.
  Zane’s “first” ride on an airplane…. (sort of. not counting the one when he was 2 1/2).   This is the breakfast snack we got on SAS, about an hour before landing in Copenhagen.  Not terrible, for airplane food.
  Our first night in Sweden – a hotel room near the airport.    The Ibis hotel lobby.
  A little dinner and a strong beer.  Jet lag in full swing!  The sky at 11:00 PM
  The light outside the window at around 1:30 AM when I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep until around 4 AM……. Jet lag is not fun.  A little bit of the Swedish roadside.  Mossy rocks, and wild blueberry bushes and pine trees.
  This is in the rural village of Tierp.  My “3rd cousin” and his wife + two young kids spend time here in the summer.    They have really made the house cozy.
  The living room is furnished with Carl Malmsten’s mid-century Swedish designed furniture.  And a lovely painting on the wall – though I don’t know who painted it.  The view into the cozy country house kitchen from the staircase.
  I love these corner staircases that are so typical in Swedish homes.  And the little window adds light and a cool design element.  The table is set on the spacious porch where we will have coffee and sweet treats.
 The kids wanted to try my watercolors so we had a little painting fun too!   Nearly visible to the left in the background is the remains of an 18th century home that once belonged to a sea captain.
  Zane and I stand on the granite rocks near the High Coast Bridge  Here we are in a long road block line.  Sat here for nearly an hour.  Up ahead, a car pulling a camper had caught on fire…. the whole thing was a burned out shell.  No one was hurt, but gees… talk about a tragic event for those vacationers….
  Here we are at pappa’s house.  His front porch is like a room.  Perfect place to sit and have coffee, read the paper, listen to the rain, visit with friends…  Pappa’s yard is gorgeously landscaped with flowers and pretty arrangements.
  Here we are having a break at a “Kåge Hamn” – where even a little drizzle could not stop us from having fika.   At Kåge Hamn there is a Lego Workshop set up in an old boat house.  Kids of all ages are welcome to come in and play for free!
  Zane:  “Look!  A cloud factory!”  (Also known as a paper mill.)  Another fika stop – this time at Pappa’s friends’ place in Måttsund.  They have the best Spanish waterdog named Evita.
  And their garden is beautiful.    I think this is in Råneå.  I took notice of the prominently advertised store hours at this grocery store.
  In the house my grandfather built.  My father’s father.  Built in 1938.  Updated in 1957, and again in the 80’s.  The furniture has pretty much not changed at all.
  On the wall, a design woven by my grandmother, sometime before 1970.  Zane walks along the mowed trail behind the house. Not visible:  Millions of annoying mosquitoes!
  And here is the infamous Surströmming.   When in Sweden :-)
  Bottom left corner of photo:  A brick from Texas.  Brought to northern Sweden from a backyard in Dallas.  More fika!  This is in the house just a few steps behind the yellow house.  It was built in 1947 by my dad’s uncle.  More cousins and their families spend summer days in this house.  It was a really relaxing visit in this kitchen among these people with whom I share a great grandfather and great grandmother.
  Back in Umeå, my dad’s friend had placed bowls with cut flowers here and there because why not.
Coffee on the front patio.  Chilly enough for a light jacket.

– We went out to eat lunch at Kvarkenfisk.  A restaurant where they catch and prepare all their own fish.  And here is a picture I sneaked of a Swedish family – the last time Zane visited Sweden he was 2 1/2 and Weylin was 6… a little older than these kids, but basically the same dynamics.

– At Kvarkenfish, we all ordered the pan seared herring with creamed potatoes and lingonberries. Yum!

-Zane and I walked out to the end of the pier and looked out over the Gulf of Bothnia.

– After lunch we made a quick stop at this place along the road called Borghällagård, a neat place with this “tower” kind of thing and some shops.

– Inside the “tower”.

– more inside the tower

– the front door.

I love this sign along the road.  “Drive slowly! Children & Cats.”

– Now we are back in Umeå.  This is a newly completed building they call the House of Culture… or Kulturhuset… or Väven.  I call it The Stormtrooper Building.  Inside, the city public library is housed and there are galleries and restaurants and other things too that I didn’t have time to explore.  Next time!

– Old meets new.

And this is my favorite cafe/bakery.  Didn’t have time for more than a quick photo and Zane got a coffee to go.  Next time!

Mad dash to Hot Springs

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The morning started early and we stopped at the coffee shop across from the hotel. The coffee was okay but the man who served us was fabulous.  when he asked where we were from (was it that obvious we weren’t locals?) and we said we were in town to renew passports, he wanted to know where we were traveling.  And when he found out it was Sweden, he let loose.  In a good way!  He looked at Zane in the eyes, and stated with a declarative tone no hint of sarcasm, “Oh, those Europeans.  You will find out that the Europeans and especially the Scandinavians, they are…. educated.  They see the world with a wide open mind.  You’ll see.  They know about the world.  Not like a lot of Americans.”

We hung out near the counter and continued our conversation with this man. His knowledge of the world of countries and of people was full and rich.  He was from a small town in East Texas, he said, and he’d left and spent 7 years as an International flight attendant.  He shared stories and tips for traveling and was so genuinely excited that Zane was going to get to spend three weeks in Sweden.

If you are ever in Hot Springs, go have a cup of coffee at Coffee Love, on Central Avenue near Lake Hamilton.

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After coffee and talking we made our way to the passport office. The security was intense.  Lots of security guards and lots of security doors and a very controlled process.  No electronic devices were allowed inside.

And they were super friendly and helpful and expedient.  (They said we’d have the passports in 4 days, and they were in our mailbox at home the very next day!  They totally ruined the government’s reputation for being inefficient and whatever.)

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After passports we decided to stop for breakfast.  A late breakfast.  Since we’d only had coffee earlier.  This place looked legit.

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I like eating in local joints when I’m out of town.  These guys served up a decent breakfast.

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After breakfast we drove out the Garvan Woodland Gardens.  Until Weylin mentioned this place, I’d never heard of it.

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It was amazing.  We started with the Japanese Garden walk.  The meandering trails, rocks, bridges, steps, water falls, trees and shrubs and flowers…. everywhere I turned there was another lovely feature.

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The Full Moon Bridge.  I want to build one of these in my yard.

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On top of the bridge.

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One of the waterfalls.  Look at the rock (boulder) bridge Weylin is standing on.  You have to step across that gap in the middle, over the water flowing under it.

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This awesome cypress.  It’s like there are these little nooks and crannies with their very own views.

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Another lovely waterfall.  None of these photos come close to the real thing.  Not even.

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Imagine twittering birds, a slight breeze over your skin covered with a sheen of perspiration, and the filling of your lungs with freshly oxygenated air.

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And then there were these.  Adorable “mushroom” topiary “sculptures” created by landscape architecture students at the University of Arkansas.

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A little bit of whimsy never hurts!

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It looks like Zane is about to be beamed up.

This is inside the pavilion designed by architect E. Fay Jones.  And that looks like a Chihuly glass sculpture hanging there but I can’t confirm that…

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And here is Weylin, getting the perfect shot.

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Sunlight and shadows and large flat paving stones.

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There were stairs and passageways like this everywhere.

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And randomly placed seating areas.  Where someone might sit.

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And this “canopy bridge”  High up in the trees.

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Of course, there were shrubbery eggs in a big branchy nest.   I know I can’t be the only one who wants to know what will hatch from those eggs.

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The park has miles and miles of trails.  I think we walked about four of them.  Before we left we checked out Anthony Chapel.

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A glass and wood church structure.

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I love the green from the pines and the woods surrounding the sanctuary.

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After a few hours of walking around the trails of Garvan Gardens we were hungry so we stopped here at the Cafe 1217 before we got on the road to drive home.

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The back wall of their establishment was painted black like a chalk board with white painted quotes and illustrations.

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I have always had a thing for windows – they are like a kind of framed artwork.

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We shared this Key Lime Pie – it was baked and delivered straight from Heaven.  This pie right here is worth another trip to Hot Springs even if I don’t do anything else while I’m there.

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I Love this artwork.

Text massage

The other day I wrote “text massage” and didn’t catch the typo. When I saw the typo I was tempted to leave it. Because Text Massage had such a nice sound to it. Do you ever play the What If game? What if text massages were a thing. Maybe there is such a thing. Have you ever gotten a text, and its like a quick “squeeze-squeeze” on the shoulders, you know, somehow the text, the words, the message/massage, just eases the stress a little bit.

Because massages are nice. Real ones, especially. Real hands on shoulders, squeeze squeeze. Last night W asked me if I would massage his shoulders. He has been working this summer for a landscaping company, doing lots of landscaping. As a future landscape architect, this is a great summer job experience, learning about the nature of the work that is a result of the designing. He’s learning about plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, grasses, rocks, mulch and the list goes on. And at the end of the day, he can be pretty tired and sore. So I tried my best giving him a short shoulder massage, which he said felt really good. Then he asked me if going to get a “real” massage was expensive… so, I think I will surprise him with a gift certificate to get a real massage at a massage spa. He deserves it.