Monday, August 13, 2018


Last May, we had lunch at a contemporary home that was built on a hill overlooking Lough Gill in Sligo County on the northwest coast of Ireland. The picturesque lough (Gaelic word for lake), surrounded by woodlands, is five miles long and one mile wide. The surrounding landscape looks much as it did 150 years ago when William Butler Yeats frequented the area to spend time with his grandparents. 

As we drove up the tree-lined driveway to the Broc House, we were greeted by Damien Brennan and his wife, Paula Gilvarry. They welcomed us into their home. We enjoyed looking at Damien's collection of Irish paintings, and the spectacular view of the Lough Gill through the floor-to-ceiling dining room windows. We also stepped outside to see the lush green landscape and to hear a story about the hens that provide them with fresh eggs daily. Damien's maternal family ancestors have lived and farmed on this property since the early 19th century.

We were here to dine and to learn about William Butler Yeats from Sligo's local authority and President of the Sligo Yeats Society, Damien Brennan. With a love for all things Yeats, he has chosen to share his passion and knowledge with visitors from all over the world as they pass through Sligo—often referred to as Yeats country. Lough Gill and Sligo county were the inspiration for many of Yeats famous writings making it a perfect setting for a Yeats Experience

Damien read to us on several occasions throughout the leisurely lunch that we shared with a tour group from the US. He was reading from a rather well-used Complete Works of W.B. Yeats. This old classic book appeared a bit worn and crumpled. I would guess that he could quote much of it from memory. As he explains it, he has a passion for Yeats and enjoys sharing it with others. His hope is that guests will leave with a desire to pick up a book about Yeats and learn more about him. Yeats was born in Dublin and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. 

There are 20 islands on Lough Gill, however, the most well-known is the Island of Innisfree—the subject of one of Yeats most popular poems. It was written in 1888 while he was in London and at a time when he was wishing to escape the city to the countryside. Although I find it difficult to understand much of his writings, I do appreciate this poem about Innisfree. Perhaps, because as a youth I also longed to leave the city and spend time at my parent's lake cabin whenever possible. 

"The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings,
There midnights all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow.
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day,
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
                                W.B. Yeats, 1865-1939

                                                        * * *

We first heard about the Yeats Experience on the PBS series: Samantha Brown's Places to Love - Ireland's Northwest Coast. Samantha interviewed Damien at the Broc House. It was so interesting that I sent him an email requesting a reservation for the one day we would be in the area—this was many months before our arrival. He responded immediately and said that he had a tour group scheduled for lunch on that day and that we could join them. We were delighted. It was one of the highlights of our month in Ireland. (Damien later told us that when Samantha arrived for the story she was accompanied by a large camera crew of seven and a drone that was equipped with a camera.) 

The Broc House is about five miles from Sligo. Taxi from Sligo is 10E.

Related Posts: A Vintage Walk in Dingle - July 14, 2018
                        Stone Fences & Walls of Ireland - June 27, 2018
                        Ireland: Nine Reason to Return - June 14, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018



If you've passed by Broadway and Pacific Highway in downtown San Diego anytime recently, you've probably noticed a monumental 25-foot white sculpture sitting at the base of the newly opened Pacific Gate luxury residential towers.

This sculpture entitled, the Pacific Soul, is the work of internationally renowned Jaume Plensa. He is the recipient of numerous awards and his works can be found in galleries, museums, and outdoor spaces throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. The Crown Fountain, 2004, in Chicago's Millennium Park is one of his many famous projects in public places. Plensa currently resides and works in Barcelona, Spain.

The Pacific Soul is shaped like a crouching human body that is looking toward the nearby Pacific Ocean and is painted in a brilliant white color to reflect the west coast light. It was created with large stainless steel stylized characters from the Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Hindi alphabets—symbolizing the joining together of humanity through art. The elongated letters at the base give the appearance of roots. The project, commissioned by BOSA Development, opened in January 2018 and was over a year in the making.

Next time you pass by, take time to linger and enjoy this famous work of art that has raised the San Diego public art scene to a new level. 

“....I hope my sculpture will be an icon for the city, embracing the diverse community which is always changing yet always intrinsically connected to the ocean.”
                                                                   -Jaume Plensa

Saturday, July 14, 2018



The weather in Ireland is often rainy and cool, but not today, it was 70F and sunny, a perfect day for a walk in Dingle (pop. 2,000). We headed to the Tourist Information office to get a recommendation for nearby hikes. The woman at the desk immediately suggested a path along the water that started at the end of Coolen Street, a short walk away. It followed along Dingle Bay and then continued for miles on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. She also suggested a picnic and said that we could get our supplies at the Super Value across the street. It sounded perfect, and we were on our way.

I will refer to the hike as the Dingle Coast Walk, however, some call it the Lighthouse Walk. It passes by an intriguing brick tower called Hussy's Folly that dates back to 1845. It was built during the Great Famine as a means of providing employment for the poor. 

The tower and nearby beach are also popular sites to view dolphins and Fungi. Fungi is the resident Dingle dolphin that was first spotted by fishermen in 1983 when he was said to escort the fishing boats out to sea and then back again. He continues to be popular with visitors who often take boat tours to get a close-up view of the little guy and sometimes even try to swim with him. 

The path extends for miles beyond the lighthouse and tower and offers a view of the Lighthouse along the way. Ron returned to town at the lighthouse, however, I continued on. The views of the Atlantic Ocean, with its steep craggy black cliffs, became increasingly more spectacular. My goal was to reach the top of a distant cliff that appeared to be the end of the trail. I stopped a few times to sit on the boulders and take in the views of Kerry Peninsula and the lush green low mountain ranges across the way. I felt fortunate to have it all to myself. 

As I was walking back, I couldn't resist a walk down to a small deserted beach surrounded by cliffs and pointed rocks and boulders. The place was quiet today, but this will change soon as the summer season approaches. I stopped to collect some shells before continuing on. 

The return walk also offers an expansive view of the entrance to the Bay, and the Dingle Harbor that was one of Ireland's main trading posts in the 15th century. Today it is a major fishing port. 

The path on this walk crosses through private property; a common practice in much of Europe. The entryways to the pastures are narrow with steps up to prevent the livestock from passing through. The cows just look on and don't appear to be bothered by visitors. When I did some research on it later, I discovered that Ireland, unlike England and Scotland, has a restrictive policy and in most cases, the walker has no right to be there. For more information click here.

                                                          * * *
The harbor town of Dingle is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula and is the starting point of the famous Slea Head Coastal Drive. It is quite popular and advance reservations for tours and lodging during the peak summer months are almost essential. I booked Rory Brosnan's Dingle Slea Head Tour two months ahead, and it was a great tour. Unfortunately, the cruise to the Blanket Islands was sold out when we arrived—I wish that I had booked that one early as well.

Related Posts: Stone Fences & Walls of Ireland - June 27, 2018
                        Ireland: Nine Reasons to Return - June 14, 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Ireland is a beautiful country with lush green expanses of open countryside and farmland. Just below the surface of this lush green lies a thick layer of limestone. This Irish blue limestone is the source of the fascinating dry stone fences that can be found throughout the island, and are particularly abundant in the counties of Galway and Mayo on the west coast. 

It was one of our first days in western Ireland when we were driving along the northern shores of Galway Bay, that I began taking an interest in the fascinating patchwork quality of stone fences all around us. 

The ancient tradition of stone fences dates back nearly 4,000 years when stone walls extended over five square miles in the Ceide Fields of County Mayo. However, most of the fences date to the 1840s when land was redistributed and the stone walls defined the field and helped to clear the land at the same time.

The builders from each area had their own style. None are exactly the same. Some were put together loosely by farmers without much skill. They used stones lying around, irrespective of their size or shape—clearing the field at the same time as they were building boundaries. 

Others were built by skilled stonemasons who knew just how to pick the right stones and interlock them resulting in few or no gaps and extreme stability. Locals often know at a glance who built the wall by simply looking at the way the stones are placed.

One of the joys of my leisurely walks in Ireland was taking time to notice the delicate flowers, ferns, vines, and moss that grow out of the old craggy walls. Over time organic material has built up between the stones, allowing plants to take root, giving the walls an appearance of almost being alive—changing with the seasons and getting better with age—just like wine. 

There are many fascinating things about the Irish culture. However, I will always be impressed with the builders that seemed to have an innate ability to spot the right rock and then pile it in just the correct place so that the walls would be around long after they were gone. There is a saying in Ireland: “Stone walls last forever—and men don't."



Thursday, June 14, 2018


We just returned from Ireland. I'm now sitting back in the comfort of our home with time to reflect on our four weeks of travel. Here are some of the special things about the country that I will miss:

--The beauty of the lush green landscape that is sprinkled with lovely lakes, hills, and mountains.

--Beautiful sunshine days – rarely experienced by the Irish—the locals were constantly telling us how lucky we were.

--Splendid walks along the sea cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Irish Sea—walking paths through forests and lake country.

--Mussels from the nearby sea, warm goat cheese salads with beets, and seafood pies.

--Sitting in a pew of the old St Andrews church in Dublin where Ron's great grandmother was baptized in 1861. This was followed by a walk down the nearby street where the family lived.

--The kindness of the Irish people who were always willing to go above and beyond to help us, including the woman who insisted that we jump in her car so she could drive us to our destination.

--The talented musicians that entertained us in the small pubs—including the stories they shared about the Irish songs.

-- An appreciation of America that's not typical of other countries in Europe. Most of the Irish people we met told us they had relatives in the US and had also visited there.

--The ancient stone fences and walls of limestone that continue to prevail in most of western Ireland. The sheep that wander so freely and peacefully in the green pastures and even onto the roads.

                                                * * *

I'll soon be writing more about unique island and the people we met along the way. Was it a perfect trip? No, they never are. Life isn't perfect. But the beauty of that green lush country and a love for Ireland will stay with me forever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


   The San Diego History Center has a collection of more than 7,000 historic clothing and textiles in its archives—all meticulously wrapped and stored in boxes, drawers, and other containers. The extensive collection is rated as one of the ten best in the US. The items are not usually available for public viewing, however, nine of the garments are currently on display through June 29 at the Fashion Redux: 90 Years of Fashion Exhibition.

Since 2012, the San Diego History Center has teamed up with students
from San Diego Mesa College School of Fashion and Design for this event. Early each spring, the students are invited to the history center and given an opportunity to view select designs from the historic collection in hopes of inspiration for their own design. Then they work diligently to create their own special garments—combining the past with contemporary trends in design, materials, and fabrication. Four finalists are chosen and given the opportunity to showcase their garments at the annual Fashion Redux event. This year's finalists are Brooke Druen, Jocelyn Soucedo, Anna Acosta, and Christiann Moore.

   In addition to the attractive clothing displays, the surrounding walls of the exhibition room are adorned with dozens of large professional photos of models from the History Center's Photographic Collection. Another area is set a aside for children to creatively color their own designs and display them.

   Demonstrations by students and professors from the school are ongoing throughout the exhibition—providing an opportunity to learn more about various aspects of design including hand patterns, beading, computer pattern design, needle felting, and fabric jewelry techniques. Refer to the schedule for times.
   The premiere event, Fashion Redux Grand Reveal, will be held on April 26, 6:00-8:30 pm. It's a great 
1920s to 1950s
 opportunity to meet fashion designers and to find out more about this fascinating profession. The winners will be announced and there will be a fashion show, light refreshments, and lecture by fashion expert Susan Lazear. One student will go home with the coveted People's Choice Award—decided by those in attendance. (Tickets: General Public-$25, Students-$10.)

    The San Diego History Center, (Casa de Balboa, 1649 El Prado) is open daily 10 am to 5 pm. Free with "giving forward" donation.
Related Posts:  Balboa-The Vintage Urban Park, Dec. 10, 2013


DRESS, c. EARLY 2000s


Monday, April 9, 2018



The fourth annual Open House San Diego was held on March
24-5, 2018. With more than eighty downtown buildings open for anyone to freely visit, it provided a great opportunity to learn first- hand about innovative architecture, urban planning, and design. San Diego became an official Open House Worldwide City in 2015 when it joined more than 40 cities worldwide who hold similar events. The buildings were chosen by the San Diego Architectural Foundation for their unique design, historic value, cultural significance, repurposing of space, and/or environmental sustainability. Twelve of the sites are registered on the National Register of Historic Sites and five are on the Local Register.
    Sites were located in Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, Downtown, Gaslamp, East Village, Barrio Logan, and Point Loma. Some required reservations, but most provided a self-guided tour upon arrival; there were always friendly greeters at the door. Brochures with descriptions, maps, and hours were available online and at designated locations.
Ron and I went on Sunday afternoon to take advantage of the opportunity to tour old buildings, meet people, and to see areas of the city that we normally don't visit. Our first stop was in Logan Heights—one of the oldest communities in San Diego. We easily found street parking and could see the San Diego Bay in the distance as we strolled south along Julian Avenue to our first open house of the day. 
Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Avenue) is an experimental center for the arts; located in the former Weber's Bread Factory that dates back to 1896. The courtyard still displays an oven and 40-foot high floor silos from the original bakery that ceased operation about ten years ago. The renovation began in 2013 with future plans to develop affordable live-work space for artists. As we walked through, we enjoyed the spacious rooms with high ceilings and unique displays by                               local artists.
    Our next stop, described as California's first urban destination
distillery, was You & Yours Distilling Co. (1495 G Street). It is located in the East Village, which is the currently San Diego's fastest-growing downtown neighborhood. It has a tasting room as well as a state-of-the-art production distillery, complete with a copper still. The warehouse-style includes exposed concrete and salvaged wood. A nice setting for a drink, however, we needed to move on since our time was running short.
We then walked to the nearby AVRP Skyport (703 16th Street), located in the historic Snowflake Bakery building (est. 1895). The outside brick facade, original painted sign, and corner entry were restored based on historical photos and earned a SDAF Orchid Award for historic restoration in 2011. We also felt privileged to meet and learn more about the new Seaport Village project directly from the architects and designers that are working on it. 

    We ended our tour at the New School of Architecture & Design (1249 F Street), which is also in the transforming East Village district. We were fortunate to meet the head recruiter for the school who gave us an excellent tour. She was so enthusiastic that I wished for a moment I attended school there.
Each year, Open House San Diego sponsors a photo competition for best pictures taken at the event. Ron decided to submit a few of his favorites which I am sharing in this post. The official winners haven't been announced, but just entering a photo competition for the first time in your life makes him a winner—at least it does on this vintage blog.

    Our time was too short to cover as many sites as we would have liked, however, we look forward to next year's event, scheduled for March 30-31, 2019.