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Archive for the ‘gluten free’ Category

1-a-smart-blow

A Smart Blow by Fitz Henry Lane

The holidays are over. Our roses are dormant, sound asleep for the next three months. This is the time when Angelina and I catch up on other things that we like to do, like frequent day-trips to somewhere — eclectic destinations that catch our fancy.

 

We recently drove to Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing port city on Cape Ann on  the North Shore of Massachusetts to visit the Cape Ann Museum. The 2-hour drive north was prompted by a Providence newspaper article that featured the museum and especially its extensive collection of marine art by Fitz Henry Lane. When we arrived we also discovered a rich trove of historical maritime artifacts, ship models, a restored New England lighthouse lens, and exhibits pertaining to fishing and genealogy from the Cape Ann/Gloucester area. An added bonus we hadn’t expected.

 

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Cape Ann Museum

Once in Gloucester, our GPS had us driving in circles unable to find the museum until we stopped and asked a local guy where it was. He pointed across the street to a handsome building and it was then that we spotted the tiny sign that said “Cape Ann Museum.”

The museum building is well maintained with three levels serviced by both stairs and an elevator. The Fitz Henry Lane Gallery takes up half of level 1 with Lane paintings on view along with many of his drawings. In comparison, a few pieces of Lane’s work hang in the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and a few at the Metropolitan Museum in New York but nothing like the 40 pictures in the collection at the diminutive Cape Ann.

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A Rough Sea by Fitz Henry Lane

Lane, a Gloucester native, was a master of fine detail in his treatment of fishing and sailing vessels of the 19th century. So good was he at capturing every little detail, including the complicated rigging of 19th century schooners, that he was often hired by ship owners to paint portraits of their boats. Lane was well-known for his many paintings of Gloucester Harbor scenes, again bringing his attention to detail here as well as he did with ships.

 

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Normon’s Woe by Fitz Henry Lane

Lane also possessed an amazing ability to show glowing luminescence and accurate depictions of sea and sky. I especially liked the warm sunset glow of “Norman’s Woe” still radiant after 150 years. (Norman’s Woe, seen in the background of the painting, is a rocky reef 500 feet offshore of Gloucester’s outer harbor. It was the inspiration for Longfellow’s famous poem, “The Wreck of the Hesperus.”)

 

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Fresnel Lens

 

A restored 13-foot Fresnel Lens from a lighthouse on Thacher’s Island is featured on Level 2 along with some fine scratch-built wooden models of sailing schooners. Our favorite was the model of the Andrea Gail, the boat made famous in “The Perfect Storm,” parts of which were filmed in Gloucester. (See photo below)

 

 

 

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Andrea Gail

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Model of John Hays Hammond Schooner

When we were leaving, the receptionist at the museum told us that a Winslow Homer exhibit has been planned for later this spring. Homer, another well-regarded American marine artist with solid New England artistic credentials, and Lane together in one exhibit means we will be taking another day-trip to Gloucester.

8-gluten-free-calamariWe were done by mid-afternoon and headed home. We stopped for a late lunch at The Causeway, a Gloucester restaurant we discovered on the way out of town. The front appeared non-descript and the plain interior looked like what a Gloucester seafood shack should look like. The menu was mostly seafood and I ordered a cup of fish chowder which was gluten free, and a side of fried calamari. The chowder was full of fresh haddock chunks in a steaming buttery white broth, almost like a stew, and the generous pile of squid was fried in gluten-free cornmeal. It was fabulous and another unexpected bonus to the trip.

This was a good day.

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Garden of Remembrance

Garden of Remembrance

Angelina and I arrived in Dublin on a rainy Sunday morning in early May on our recent trip to Ireland. This first leg had a number of historical locations on our ambitious itinerary the first of which was Trinity College where the Book of Kells is housed in the Old Library. Trinity College was an easy walk from the hotel and we entered the library after waiting in a queue for a short time chatting with other American visitors.

Old Library Trinity College

Old Library Trinity College

The Book of Kells is the remarkable work of medieval monks who created a lavishly illuminated gospel book containing the four gospels in Latin. The complex illustration and ornamentation is amazing and exceeded my already high expectations. The library displays two pages at a time in a climate-controlled display case – a page of illumination and a page of text – turning the pages every few months. While the exhibit was crowded, we were able to get a good look at this great manuscript. Since no photography was allowed in the Kells exhibit area, we waited until we went into the Old Library itself where photography is allowed and we found a colorful exhibit celebrating

Boru-at-Trinity-CollegeBrian Boru’s victory over the Vikings at the battle of Clontarf in the eleventh century. This was an unexpected bonus and an interesting glimpse into long-ago Irish history. Ireland has endured a long and painful struggle for self-rule and Dublin is full of reminders with one foot in the present and the other firmly planted in Ireland’s bittersweet past.

Prison Yard

Prison Yard

Kilmainham Gaol, located about 2 miles from Dublin Center, is an ancient prison with a tragic history, where leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916 were incarcerated after their failed one-week rebellion against Great Britain. Thirteen of them were executed by firing squad several weeks later in a grim prison yard which is preserved today as it was then with a solitary cross indicating where the prisoners stood. The building is now a museum and a tour of the building, especially that cold, forbidding prison yard, is a powerful experience. Kilmainham Gaol is Irish sacred ground.

Children of Lir

Children of Lir

Another compelling reminder of Ireland’s troubled past is the Garden of Remembrance located in Parnell Square at the top of O’Connell Street in Dublin City Center. This tranquil garden, dedicated to Ireland’s freedom fighters, opened in 1966 with a sunken crossed-shaped water feature. An impressive bronze statue titled Children of Lir symbolizing Irish freedoms was added in 1971. We sat for a bit in this cool and serene garden and enjoyed a quiet moment away from the noisy hubbub of O’Connell Street just a few yards away.

In Dublin we soon discovered a culinary fact of life in Ireland – lamb. Roast lamb, lamb chops, lamb stew, fall-off-the-bone lamb. Lamb was on the menu in some form everywhere we ate for 12 days…good thing we like lamb. (Corned beef and cabbage must be an American thing as we never saw it, not once, anywhere in Ireland.) Later in the trip we would see great flocks of sheep everywhere. We even saw a ewe with her lambs kept like pets in back yards of homes in suburban areas.

Ha'Penny Bridge

Ha’Penny Bridge

Much to my delight, good quality gluten-free food was widely available in all eateries due to the high incidence of celiac disease in Ireland. I had terrific GF meals with great GF breads, rolls, beer, soups, chowders, pizza, stews, pastries, fish and chips, plus lamb in all its forms.

Temple-BarDublin City is very walkable and walk we did – to Dublin’s boisterous Temple Bar entertainment district along the River Liffey, over the famous Ha’penny Bridge and up historic O’Connell Street in the center of the city to the General Post Office where the Easter Rising standoff took place in 1916, bullet holes still evident in the marble columns.

Stylish window boxes best seen on foot were on display throughout the city. Since Dublin has no subway, we used their excellent bus system when we had to travel beyond walking distance. No autos necessary.

Window-Box-DublinAfter three days we left Dublin and started the second leg of the trip, the part where I drive, which began at the Hertz Car Hire. Angelina and I packed our suitcases into a mid-sized Chevrolet sedan, set the GPS, and headed to Powerscourt and later on to Kilkenny. Little did I realize that morning, as I swung out onto a busy Dublin avenue and followed traffic for the first time on the left side of the road, what an adventure driving in Ireland was going to be. More on that later.

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