Monday, January 16, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III c – Inverness

Friday, 27 July: We arrived at Oxford station in good time for the train to Paddington, the first leg of a fairly complicated five-stage trip to Inverness…. But, as we learned at the gate onto the platform, the main line to Paddington was undermined and had been closed all week! Fortunately for us, railway employees all carry computers with which they can reorganize even the most confused travellers and, by a totally different route, we caught up to our original itinerary in Sterling, where we were finally able to sit in the seats I had reserved weeks before.
Here’s Keara, on the left below, in front of our hotel in Inverness, and on the right her view of Inverness Castle, directly across the river.

I actually did this painting, a Virtual Paintout entry, quite recently.  When I’d first learned the Virtual Paintout was to be in Scotland, I had mentioned that I might try the Scottish Parliament and when one of the people who had heard me say that saw this painting he said, “So that’s what the Scottish Parliament looks like… what’s so controversial about it?”  You’ll see in my second post about our time in Edinburgh, a few days from now.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III b – Oxford

Saturday, 21 July: In the morning, a wonderfully funny presentation by Colin Dexter was accompanied by cataract off roof into garden where kids were splashing around, allegedly learning about “Lyra’s Oxford.” Evening cataract-accompanied presentation on CS Lewis again featured kids splashing about in the garden apparently having a drama workshop – looks very much like learning about Lyra’s Oxford.
Sunday, 22 July: Tewkesbury “like a war zone, with water treatment plant
overwhelmed, homes west of Oxford evacuated.” We got as far as the Folly Bridge before discovering our river cruise had been cancelled – Thames (called Isis, in Oxford) too high and too fast. We had a walking tour along it – yes, it was high and fast – to Oxford Tower, instead.

Monday, 23 July: “One of the electricity sub-stations in Gloucester succumbed, cutting off power to 48,000 homes – if the other one had gone, emergency services would have had to launch the biggest
evacuation of people since the Second World War.”  We were on the ground floor of our hotel so, before departing for our day at Warwick Castle, I put our suitcases on the dresser in our room, despite assurances that ‘we’re higher than the University and the University isn’t going to flood. We saw a lot of flooding on the way to Warwick, including the river raging past the castle, but our hotel was fine – put suitcases back on floor again.

Tuesday, 24 July: Last night, “100 firefighters and 150 Royal Marines and Gurkhas saved the day,” and we were assured flood had peaked. However, still much concern about sewage in water apparently not yet receding in “watery ghost towns” so put suitcases back up before departing for day at Blenheim Palace (On the left are Keara and a friend from California in the maze there).  Sun shone, birds sang; we had a splendid day. Suitcases back down when we got back.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Travels with our Grandkids III a – Oxford

In 2007 I took Keara to a Road Scholar Inter-generational study program in England Harry Potter school (with a little Inspector Morse thrown in for the grandparents) in Oxford. 
Then we went to the European Pipe Band Championships in Inverness, and visited Edinburgh and Glasgow.
I’ll tell the story in terms of my response to a question we saw on July 29, in an article in The Independent on Sunday, “Where were you during the Great Floods of July 2007?” combined with the newspaper’s notes for the week…

We arrived in Oxford on July 18, the day before the Road Scholar program was to start, and on July 19, caught the train to Paddington Station and spent a beautiful sunny day seeing the highlights of London – Big Ben, the Palace, the Tower, and other photo opportunities.

Friday, 20 July: We had a lecture on Tolkien, and the kids were making a map of Middle Earth when the “… heavens opened. Oxfordshire got five inches of rain – normally 90 days’ worth – in five hours” during which we walked around the Oxford Colleges. In the evening, while the kids had their first drama workshop, we went to one of Inspector Morse’s favourite pubs, the Trout at Wolvercote. The deck was awash.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Virtual Paintout in Puerto Rico

'Serpentinata caribeña,' sculpture by Guy Rougemont
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in Puerto Rico this month.  After my husband mentioned pristine beaches on the west coast near the former USAF base at Ramey, I concentrated my search in that part of the island, and found this colourful sculpture in the centre of the Mayagüez campus of the Universidad de Puerto Rico. 

It is a tribute to the late Miguel Chamoun, a graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  Here is a link to the Streetview that I used to paint it. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review of 2016/Plan for 2017

Palm Springs from the top of the Tramway
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

Travel journaling:  I have started a project to expand on the sketches and paintings my grandchildren and I produced during the trips I took with them between 2004 and 2013. This will be completed in 2017.    
‘Clean energy’ haiku/haiga project:  I have produced 10 poems using ‘found’ haiku and computer-stylized versions of my Canadian landscape paintings. I plan to compile up to 50 of these poems, and may even try to explain some of the non-sequiturs in the poems!
I completed two NYU/Scientific American on-line courses, Mysteries of the Universe and Psychology of Creativity, as well as the ArtBiz Creative Content Camp and hope to do a writing workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Innovation in 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

More ‘found’ clean energy haiku and haiga

Saskatchewan Crossing
Watercolour and Photoshop™
©2016 Charlene Brown

Saskatchewan Crossing is the tenth picture I’ve produced for my ‘clean energy’ haiku project using computer-stylized versions of Canadian landscape paintings.  I plan to expand this Haiku+Haiga series into a compilation of up to 50 poems. And I may even try to explain some of the non-sequiturs in the poems! 

Haiku: a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven and five syllables, traditionally evoking images of the natural world

Found clean energy haiku: five or seven syllable phrases found in environmental research publications or newspaper articles on climate change.

Haiga: a style of painting that incorporates the clean, minimalist, yet often profound, aesthetic of haiku.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Travels with Our Grandkids II (d) – Maui

Finally the high point of Danny’s time in Hawaii, and the excursion I’d been worried about all week, arrived! A bus picked us up at the dock in Kahului, then we rode the bus to the rim of the Haleakala Volcano (elevation well over 3000 metres) pulling a trailer full of bicycles. 

Here we are just before sunrise, getting ready for the 38-kilometre descent. Yes, it was every bit as cold as it looks, but the ride down – past lava rock, five distinct layers of weather, rainbows, waterfalls, and huge jacarandas, to a spectacular surfing beach (by which time we were out of this industrial-strength rain gear) – was wonderful! 

And here's what the crater looks like.  Parts of it look like it just blew up, but apparently it's been dormant (not extinct) for about 400 years.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Travels with Our Grandkids II (c) – Maui

Just about the first thing we did when we got to Maui was take a helicopter tour of the deep valleys carved into the West Maui mountains – virtually inaccessible by any other means.

This painting shows several waterfalls as seen looking straight down through the side window as the steeply-banked helicopter circled a valley rim.  It was not done on location.