Sunday, October 15, 2006

One of the very special things that happened for us while we were in the United States was for Linda and me to be able to be there to witness Jackson's baptism at the Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas -

The service was along traditional, conservative lines but that does not mean to say it was without pizzaz. We were entertained by the church jazz band and the fully robed choir sang magnificently.

The church was promoting a recent release of a CD by the church choir and their first song of the day was from the CD and it was 'Shout to the Lord', by Australian contemporary Christiansongwriter, Darlene Zshech - a long time favourite chorus of mine, given a great hymnal treatment by this group.

At the end of the service we were all asked to stand and sing 'God Bless America' in remembrance of September 11 - which was to be the next day. We felt privileged to be part of this and our only regret was that we probably did not know the words as well as we would have liked.

It was so lovely to be in Dallas to share with this significant milestone in grandson, Jackson's life, and lovely that an Australian song should have been sung and that we could stand with representatives of the American population as they paused to remember what is still an extremely significant event in their nation's history.

We are pleased to report that Jackson was happy throughout the whole service - but we wouldn't have expected anything less - would we?
I have been to the Northern Hemisphere three times now and each time I have been fascinated with the squirrels I have seen.

I guess for anyone from the 'top half' of the world, they are so common, they probably don't even give them a second thought, but I love to watch these little creatures scurrying on ground level looking for food, sitting up on full alert or climbing/jumping around the local trees that are their habitat.

The squirrel in the image was at Battery Park, New York, where you catch the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty.

There was a gentleman there who talked to tourists and told them how he had befriended some of the squirrels in the park and they readily accepted food from him.

We also stopped and watched squirrels in Central Park, New York, at my friend's place in Maryland and in St James Park, London on our way to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

During our travels in the States and especially when we were driving east by car we had hoped to see second hand/vintage quilts along the way.

This was not to be the case and it was not until we reached Maryland and a friend took us to an Antique Mall that we realised where they could be found.

We still did not find a quilt, traditional or crazy that made us feel that we had to take it home.

One antique store I visited in Maryland had a small selection of quilts and the owner was busy marking them down by us much as 50% to get me to buy at least one of them.

I spied the block in the image - 18" square and marked at US$18.00. I asked if he was willing to come down on price on this and he sold it to me for US$10.00.

This is typical of the few crazy quilts I saw, very basic and utilitarian. This one is backed with mattress ticking and the fabrics are either clothing or upholstery. Mostly cottons or wools with tartans and a piece of cotton velveteen.

There is only one stitch used to embellish the block, feather stitch. Other quilts that were similar only had herringbone stitch on them.

One crazy quilt I saw was made from mens ties but was very worn and sad looking and again had only basic stitching for embellishment, nothing else.

I was pleased to be able to bring this block home as an example of the work to days gone by.

Monday, October 02, 2006

One of the things that make travel so interesting is the things that are different.

On our journey from Dallas to Little Rock, Arkansas we saw a road sign that said 'BUMP' - nothing else, just the word 'BUMP'. Sure enough just a little while later there was a bump in the road. I think we only saw this sign once or twice more in all of our road travels.

Another signpost, frequently used is the use of the word, EXIT. This caused some consternation to us because we found that on the freeways you would be looking to enter a freeway but the signposting leading the way always indicated EXIT whether you were leaving or entering a new highway.

This was brought home to us once again at the Empire State Building in New York. Everything there has to done in a very orderly fashion to process the many people who go through the building every day. From beginning to end, on the sign posting all of the way was the use of the word, EXIT. The use of the word, ENTRANCE, did not seem to come into play at all.

England swings like a pendulum do,
Bobbies on bicycles two by two.

It is very hard to come on a trip down memory lane to London without remembering the words of the Roger Miller song that was such a hit in our younger years.

Once again there is so much to do and so little time, but we are endeavouring to make the most of whatever time we have.

We had planned a walk in Hyde Park yesterday morning but the weather was against us so we took a red bus to Pimlico and the return journey provided an opportunity for us to stop off at Westminster Abbey. We arrived at 12 noon and it was lovely to hear the chimes of Big Ben ring out.

Being a Sunday, there was an abundance of tourists, far more than either of us could remember from previous visits to London.

By prior arrangement we were due to meet Linda's relatives at Trafalgar Square and, as the weather was turning against us once again, we sheltered at the front of the National Art Gallery while we waited. This spot gave us a wonderful overview of Trafalgar Square which has lost none of its majesty over the years and I can see why it is still a great gathering place on New Year's Eve.

After a lovely get together with friends and family we took time out to have a quick look at some of the wonderful array of paintings at the National Art Gallery before it closed for the day.

Back to the buses and we worked our way across town to Knightsbridge and a quick look at the wonderful food halls at Harrods before we wearily made our way home, once again by bus. We were so pleased when the bus stop turned out to be just in front of our hotel and so it was not too long before we could collapse in our room and take stock of a lovely day in London.

After the bustle and activity of New York it was quite a contrast to go to Boston for a brief interlude before leaving the USA altogether.

Such was the contrast of Boston to New York we actually felt that we had left the USA altogether.

Our stay in Boston was all to short and it begs another, more leisurely visit from us.

We did manage to fit in a visit to the USS Constitution, one of the first ships built by a then fledgling nation and still in commission by the USS navy.

The ship is kept in beautiful condition and tours of of the ship are well conducted by members of the navy.

Following this we went back into the city streets in search of a nice place for lunch. We found a delightful Irish pub and had a very nice meal there. The ambiance, the food and a most welcome glass of Guinness contributed towards Boston being added to our list of highlights in our visit to the United States.