Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Stuck Rainbow

I TRIED TO PULL my rainbow windsock off the roof this morning but it was glued there by the icy snow. Only one ribbon escaped the frosty grip.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Penelope Puddle Snow Glow

MY WORLD TODAY IF FULL of appreciation. Over the years my daughter has given me many gifts related to the character she created when she was a child. Christmas almost always included unwrapping a painting of Penelope Puddle enjoying West Coast life with her sidekick umbrella. Although these drawings have gotten fewer as life has gotten busier, her gift to me this year was a Penelope drawing inserted into a real snow globe. To say I was delighted is an understatement. This one-of-a-kind snowflake melted my heart.

Explorers can find more sites from around the globe at My World.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Playing Hide & Seek With Christmas

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT can feel like a game of hide and seek sometimes. It is as illusive as a whiff of lovely fragrance and bewildering as an inspiring poem, the meaning of which can never fully be grasped.

It cannot be bought or sold but it might be found unexpectedly around some random corner through an act of kindness, a touch or a smile. It is a feeling that tugs at the heart without any strings. It can be hidden in a hug or in a melancholy that lingers. Some people might find it here for a moment as I did watching and listening to this video and song.

Visit Postcards From Penelope Puddle to view more BC scenes.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, December 20, 2010

BCers In Italy, Switzerland & France; Pt 12: Through The Looking Glass At Versailles

IN MY WORLD I've been thinking about the Lewis Carroll books and how our visit to the beautiful Palace of Versailles last October reminded me of a distorted version of the Alice stories.

It is an unexpected afterthought on my part. In truth, the opulence enjoyed by the royal family resulted in the tragic "off with her head" consquences for Marie Antoinette in 1793. Her husband Louis XVI had been executed months earlier during the French Revolution.

The clipped symmetrical trees ...

meticulous vast courtyards and ponds ...

reminded me of scenes surrounding the Queen of Hearts character.

Rows of figures looked like giant chess pieces reminiscent of the Red Queen.

Blooms past their seasonal prime were dug up. The last few (pictured above) might have objected if they could speak like the flowers did in Carroll's tale.

We saw traditional statuesque apparitions mostly of gods and goddesses.

But (as in Carroll books) unforeseen characters also appeared at the palace.

We had the rare opportunity to view historical art in juxtaposition to modern works. Japanese artist Takashi Murakami created a contemporary Oval Buddha. Although I have seen many concepts of buddha, this some 18 foot statue made of bronze and gold leaf is truly unique.

Nearby was an even more unique golden fence and gateway to the royals.

People were constantly in front of the ornate structure taking pictures so I captured only a portion of the entrance way not open to the public.

I took a peek before entering from another location near the gate.

There it was ... the chateau of Versailles that began as a hunting lodge and evolved into a residence and retreat from the main palace in Paris for generations of French kings.

This was the ideal setting from which royalty could overlook their impoverished countrymen and soak in the breathtaking countryside filled with game and ponds stocked with fish.

Although it wasn't quite like going down the "rabbit hole", there was the appearance of a Mad Hatter through the palace doors.

There was much controversy about having Murakami’s creations displayed temporarily at Versailles. Many locals considered the work insulting.

Nonetheless, the artist wanted to bridge historical art with popular culture.

Many were not convinced and felt much the way Alice did in the Wonderland book when she said, "I don't believe there's an atom of meaning in it."

There was unquestionable significance to the artistic expression (pictured above) that I believe is of Louis XVI. The misguided king went from a lavish lifestyle where aides chosen to monitor his bowel movements apparently felt honored to being despised and killed at the guillotine.

Such a horrific ending was likely not dreamed of when the royals slept in their luxurious beds.

What comforts elaborate fireplaces must have brought to hush their worried minds within cold palace walls.

It WAS like stepping Through The Looking Glass when entering the enormous passageway known as The Hall of Mirrors. The stunning construct within the palace began in 1678. It was built to magnify the power of the monarchy to other regions that might have been a threat.

Glass was extremely rare then. To showcase such a luxury item, Versailles sought the famous glass makers of Venice. Hopefully, the legend isn't true that the workmen who built the mirrored walls were killed to keep the art a secret. Despite the paradoxical lifestyles where the wealthy were seemingly blind to cruelty and poverty, Versailles stands alone as an incredible work of art. The glassy glitter of mirror and marble, the chandeliers and gilded statues all reflect a love of beauty so profound it is impossible NOT to carry a torch for the wonderland of Versailles.

Explorers can find more sites from around the globe at My World.

Visit Postcards From Penelope Puddle to view BC scenes.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Friday, December 17, 2010

BCers Visit Italy, Switzerland & France; Pt 11: Sky High At The Eiffel Tower

MY IMAGINED FEAR of heights did not keep me from going all the way up to the third level of the Eiffel Tower during a visit to Paris in October. There were no clouds in the sky but there was a thin layer of smog below. About as tall as an 80-story building, it is the highest manmade structure in the city.

We were there when terrorism threats were being talked about in key tourist areas throughout Europe. There were also strikes due to people protesting a change in the retirement age from 60 to 62. Perhaps these events and security issues were why only one of the four elevators was in operation.

People were jammed together as we quickly soared to the top. Our guide warned us to guard our possessions as pickpockets find such close quarters easy pickings. A fellow tourist did, indeed, feel a stranger’s hand reach into his pocket. Fortunately, the pocket contained only a travel brochure.

Every conceivable photograph has been taken of the tower from all different angles. The structure is a star in Paris and magnet for adventurers, attracting a dare devil mountain climber, bicycle rider and parachuter over the years.

I took several pictures of the view below.

Built in 1889, the running of the Eiffel Tower elevators has been modernized over decades. Named after Gustave Eiffel, there was initial controversy about the choice of his complex design over 700 others.

The construction was an amazing feat and a testament to ingenuity. There is a mini museum in the tower showing some original methods of operation.

Back on the ground, our guide suggested we avoid purchasing the miniature replica key chains, etc. that were “illegally” sold on many sidewalks throughout Paris. Similar items could be purchased in gift shops.

Constructed as an eleborate entrance to the World’s Fair the iron lattice tower is an icon that could not be missed from our hotel that was only one block away. Near or far it could be seen throughout the city.

We got a glimpse of the tower shimmering in evening finery. I happily noticed when I got home to BC that I had captured the beam from the tower just as it connected with the moon in the night sky over Paris.

Visit more skies from around the globe at Skywatch Friday.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rediscovering The Spirit Of Christmas

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT can catch you by surprise. Hope visitors enjoy this stirring show of harmony at the mall where diverse voices meld into one perfect song. The impact is fleeting but memorable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Ignored?

THESE CUTE LITTLE TYKES caught my attention during a visit to a Vancouver, BC, mall a few days ago. They were enchanted by something.

It did not look like they were focused on Christmas, however, even though a nearby snow-family grinned in their direction.

Balloons waved from the distance with joyful messages of the season.

Bold baubles cried for attention.

Ornaments hung on trees like glittering jewels.

Poinsettias were dressed in their crimson best.

Wreaths were wrapped with lights that twinkled.

Stars rained down on all the shops.

Some stars fell into branches of trees.

A photo shoot, with an eye catching umbrella, was also at the mall.

But even Santa's reindeer could not disrupt the children's concentration.

Surely Santa would do the trick ... but he hadn't arrived yet. Also missing was the reason for the season. Not one nativity scene could be found anywhere.

A tank of tropical fish was the most interesting display of all amid the razzle-dazzle of Christmas at the mall.

Explorers can find more sites from around the globe at My World.