Monday, October 31, 2011

Booooo! It's Hallowe'en!

Going out Trick-or-Treating with my grandson Jace in my Mom's neighborhood brought back memories of my own young years, tearing through the neighborhood on Halloween night. Such fun! And what a street to do it on! It and the neighboring street are blocked off on one end so vehicular traffic can only go in one direction each - and slowly. Very kid-friendly even after all these years. I think Mom went through ten bags of candy, doling out one little piece at a time!

Here I am with Sandy and Jace before we left. (Hint, I am not one of the pretty ones.)

One man gave his candy out dressed as The Rhinestone Cowboy.

I can only think this pair must have been dressed as Saint and Sinner.

Here's my little Yoda, having a great time! (He walked more than twice as far as we thought he would, and loved every minute of it.)

A very Big Baby and a Little Car.

A Cowboy and a HotDog.

A little Angel and Witch.

There were so many cute costumes. I couldn't take pix of all of them, and I missed many of the best ones. A few Supermen, Batmen and Spidermen, a couple of Marios, many zombies (I guess that's the new hobo and gypsy from my day - easy homemade costumes), a darling Tigger and ladybug, a few fairies, princesses, and scary ones galore. I think my favorites were the hamburger (a two year old who wasn't afraid of my green-faced witch though his big brother was) and the horse and rider. No pix. It was dark and folks were moving quickly. There were many witches too, including some pretty green-faced ones. We bonded.

A Derelict Poppin Fresh. What on earth was this Poppin Fresh cookie jar doing in such condition on this neglected front porch? Sort of fitting for Halloween, I guess.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Red Sky at Night - Sailors Delight

A saying I heard in my childhood, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors delight." Apparently a red sky in the morning bode ill for sailing ships, but a beautiful red sunset was a sign of good seas ahead. (If I knew a sailor I might letter that in calligraphy.)

Sailors tonight should have enjoyed the seas (does that apply to the Ohio River, do you think?) if this beautiful sunset was any indication. The only thing that could have made it any more beautiful, actually, would have been if I were viewing it from a beach instead of from my porch.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Some Additional Sights in Toulouse

Imagine our surprise when we encountered this painting of President Barack Obama in the Galeries Lafayette on one of our first days in France. Sue's luggage had been lost so we spent a few days shopping. Quite fun to have this USA reminder there.

I loved this iris grillwork on a side street in Toulouse. Hated the poor situation it was in though.
Las Crosses was our major bearing street as we traversed the streets in downtown Toulouse.

Two shots at a small flower store on Las Crosses.

Beautiful stonework - including complete stone houses made of smallish stones - and grillwork and many things to see if you just look around.

These two garcons were outside taking a smoke break.
Rental bike stands were a common sight in this college city.
Speaking of bikes...
This is Basilica of St. Sernin viewed from a side street.
Lovely flowers in the churchyard.
I think I spied this steeple during one of our 'we're lost' drives as road closings and one way streets took us on mini adventures.

This is the lobby of the Grand Hotel Du Opera on the Capitol Plaza. We ate a very expensive but happy lunch there on Sue's last day with us. We were joined by Saro and Gilles, the two lovely people who helped us find our way to Gargas when we got lost leaving the grocery near the airport. (We spent a fair portion of our first few days getting lost.)

This Happy Mannequin outside a shop on a side street was kind of frightening.
The Capitol.
A clock I spotted on a walking tour.
Loved this little fountain vignette in an out of the way niche.
A sweet shoppe in downtown near the Capitol.
This historic looking building now houses a shop for the championship Rugby team in Toulouse.
A train we never rode. Only saw it this once as we sat eating our cornettes on the Capitol Plaza.
Transportation and a movie poster. Does the movie look familiar?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cath├ędrale Saint-Etienne de Toulouse.

Beth and I happened upon this marvelously unusual cathedral during our explorations one day. It was built over several centuries and architecturally it is a mess - a very interesting mess. True to form, I liked it! It was difficult to make sense of, but there were lots of pretty parts! There were also beggars at the door that Sunday morning after Mass. A priest chased them away just as we entered.

Lots of gargoyles on parts of the exterior:

These pretty angels topped a nearby building.

Lots more photos from Toulouse yet to come. Toulouse is a really nice city.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rocamadour France, August 2011

I'm not saving the best for last. I have many more photos to share, but this is the largest set of photos from any town or village we visited. Rocamadour was my favorite, even though the day was murderously hot, driving to the town was treacherous and climbing in the heat took everything out of me. It was worth it! I hope I've captured a bit of the surprising beauty of this unusual place.

I have misplaced my journal and can't remember the name of the tiny village where we stopped for lunch, but we enjoyed the quaint beauty of our surroundings very much as we ate the lunches we had wisely packed that day.

"Mairie" is the name for the mayor's office. Almost every small village has a building with this name on it. We parked across from this one and picnicked in a little park-like area to its side.

Here is our lunch view.

If I see wash on the line, I have been known to turn around to take photos of it. I don't know why - memories of childhood, maybe. Mom always hid the 'unmentionables' between rows of towels, sheets or other clothing, but there is no such compunction here.

I was driving and couldn't stop to take photos of the roadway - a very narrow maze of S curves with blind spots at each turn. We were almost hit by a man pulling a trailer...much too wide for the conditions, and very frightening. The cyclists we saw included an elderly man who must have been in great shape to manage the hills. (Or maybe he was only 30 and many scares on this road just made him look old!)

The first sight of Rocamadour rising out of the cliff-side was magical. Thankfully, there were a few small pull-offs to allow for gawking and photo-taking.

Inside Rocamadour, the seven churches offered many treasures to see as well, and the touristy shopping area was fun. We climbed about half way up to the top, and despite the enthusiastic recommendation of two young people we'd asked about the value of climbing further, due to the heat and the fact that we are not eighteen anymore, we opted to forgo the view experience. This YouTube video shows that I probably should have acted young and climbed anyway!

Many of the buildings seem to be actually growing out of the cliff. Amazing place!

I liked the delicate leaf carvings and the lovely lettering in this arch.

Rocamadour is known for centuries of pilgrimages - pilgrims on their knees climbing to the top of the hill, resting at tiny stations along the way (which explains the shallowness of the steps), and for the Black Madonna, reported to have worked miracles. The crudely carved Black Madonna icon is in one of the smaller church chapels and was surprisingly diminutive.

I liked this angel inside the same church as the Black Madonna.

The Black Madonna.

My favorite shop had a grumpy owner, and prices higher than I wanted to pay for truly beautiful things. Airline luggage restrictions and shipping considerations would have made many purchases (china and objets d'art) ridiculously high anyway.

This fun pottery was at a friendlier shop, but the same restrictions apply - I have a feeling that many shop owners have seen a big reduction in sales of heavy objects to international travelers.

This church turret stood out so nicely against the beautiful blue sky.

The specks you see in the sky are birds. Notice the very Gothic steeple peeking out.
Imagine how much work this had to have been to build! This church is centuries old.

My telephoto lens allowed me to capture this view of a neighboring village.

Did I say, "I love Rocamadour"? I do. I doubt that tour buses could get there - at least not by the route we took, but it is well worth finding a way to visit if you are in the south of France. Here is a video produced by the tourism bureau there...some exquisite shots!