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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The end and the best ice cream of all


On the way to the Dells to ride the boat through the Wisconsin River Bluffs, I saw this team coming, and pulled over to admire the horses and the horsemanship.


The young man is making a left hand turn with a team of four. No mistakes allowed.


I did not realize until now, a matched team.


 Then I had to get back on the road and pass the entire rig!


A typical bluff of the Dells and the Wisconsin River. The river is dyed brown from the tannin of fir trees. The trip up and back was two hours. We made two stops. I got off at the first and made the walk along the bluffs and back. I was the last passenger back,  because I had to. I learned it was "only" five city blocks, one way. I know I walked more than a mile and a half at Taliesin, but not under duress!
I stayed on the boat at the second scenic walk stop.


The next day we went to Mineral Point, to visit the shops, and the art community at Shake Rag Alley. Mineral Point is an arty town. We had lunch at a cafe whose floors attested its age, and then visited as many shops as I was up too, which totaled out to be about a mile's worth. My town of Peninsula was classed "one of the best art towns east of the Mississippi" when I moved here thirty years ago. Now it is down to one gallery. I wish Mineral Point continued success.


On the way back, Ann came through New Galarus. Original Galarus is in Switzerland. If she is near, Ann says, she always stops to see what is new (in Switzerland). Laura scored a New Galarus tee shirt, a map of Wisconsin superimposed on large block letters, NG. Fabulous graphics.
I scored the best ice cream of the trip. Coffee ice cream with coffee beans. Lots and lots of coffee beans.


 And back home and putting a new warp on the loom. I had to stop and await delivery of more thread, which should be tomorrow.


Toby was happy to be back to normal.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Taliesin and ice cream


Presenting this very interesting day is difficult. Ann, Laura and I toured Taliesin on Tuesday, last. I'll put a brief description of each picture, and end with my overall impression.


Lunch at the visitor's center. We shared a savory bun, for starters.


A typical picture of the beauty of the glacial moraine. 


Taliesin from one approach.


A retaining wall with opposing curved ends.


We used the back entrance to the house. Typical stone construction.


The architectural lines of the house are too overwhelming for a novice to assimilate in one go.


Wright was a recycler before recycling. These are old barn stanchions. 


Stone, stacked artistically.


Solomon's Seal in a garden. Look at the size of the seed pods!


These small tiles are signed by FLW, and inserted many places in the exterior.


One of my few interior shots. The house was too overwhelming for me to assimilate.
This is a formal dining room. You probably must be there to take in the meaning and effect of, for instance, all the ceiling gradations.


A view down to the river. FLW added the flying walkway to enhance a wife's view.


Built in storage in a room.


Leaving the property. The spillway to the lake FLW made, damming a creek. Note the aesthetic wall curve.


Going home on a ferry over the Wisconsin River. Not the fastest way home from Spring Green, but the ice cream across the river is outstanding. I had black chocolate.

Of course I have something to say. First, on a whim, I called Taliesin several months ago. I wondered if they could accommodate an old lady who could not walk long enough to take either of the two hour tours or the four hour tour of everything. They quizzed my limitations and said "Of course. Just give us a two week notice to schedule you into the tour cycle. Do you think you'll need ramps?"

Or, as Ann said, "What did you expect? This is Wisconsin."

Our very gracious guide sized me up, and led a limited tour of outdoors and a fairly complete tour of indoors. Everyone helped me up and down the hill that produced the beautiful picture of the rolling countryside. I love all the glacially formed land in this country.

Taliesin: The house burned and was rebuilt twice. This is its third iteration. In truth, Wright built homes for their eventual demise. I learned of Welsh foundations, a trench of gravel on which footers are laid and construction begun. Its effect is apparent everywhere in the house. The glass corners are no longer true right angles; there are gaps to the outdoors. Roofs no longer meet walls. And so forth.

On the other hand, Ann's engineer husband Pat informed us over supper, Wright's Welsh foundations saved his Tokyo Imperial Hotel from destruction in the 1923 earthquake.

Every room in this house is tiny, and not exquisitely tiny. The only kitchen for the entire house is about six by eight feet. The bedrooms are eight by eight. The bathrooms will not accommodate outstretched arms. And so forth, and so on. 

I found the furniture to be the most arrogant statement of all. Every stick of it is built in. Immobile. That, said our guide, was to prevent owners (yes, houses he built for others!) from rearranging his furniture design.

I believe Frank Lloyd Wright had an architectural vision, and had the moxey and chutzpah to carry it off. The son of a tent preacher, he apparently carried the same charisma that allowed him to construct fantastical buildings.

Frank Lloyd Wright also abandoned eight children. Eight! And at least one wife. He eventually married his true love, who shared his passion for art and architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright never declared bankruptcy; he simply walked away from the debt of his constructions. The burden fell on friends, relatives, associates, the unwary.

I hoped to see examples here of form follows function, a maxim I've found useful all my life.  It has helped me find the simplest ways to solve life problems, as well as design. Our guide told me the public is misquoting the man. He actually said Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union. Well, that explained the immovable furniture!

No doubt I went to Taliesin to be dissuaded of my impression of the architect. I was not. He is a man who climbed to acclaim of interesting talents on the backs of abandoned children, women and creditors. In my mind it is interesting he built everything to eventually disintegrate, and now legions of disciples work to keep all intact.

Did I mention how good that black chocolate ice cream was. Seventy or eighty percent cocoa. The real deal.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ice cream and cranes

In a total aside, I must mention, I love google. I don't care that it wants to know all. In exchange it does the menial, menial task of organizing, a skill that escaped my head during that crainiotomy a year and a half ago. All my photos are neatly arranged by date and place, or I would be wondering when and where.


I will do this recounting slowly and sequentially. This is Mullen's, in Watertown, Wisconsin. You know who has thumbs up, and she and Ann head around the corner for ice cream and a supper, on Sunday. Ann grew up in Switzerland, so she landed fair and square in Wisconsin. As she says, there is nothing that cannot be improved by butter and cheese.



And so much for Sunday. On Monday, Laura and I went to The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Here is my tour, which I was able to take thanks to a wonderful scooter. It had none of the joy of my motorcycle days, but it took me where I wanted to go.


















These are only a few of the cranes we saw. It was a beautiful, cool and breezy day. The grounds are given over completely to meadow, for the attraction of insects; bees and butterflies. I've never seen so many varieties of milkweed, which caught Laura's attention. We tried to grow many species in the old garden, and have managed to grow one in our new garden.

I heartily recommend a visit to the cranes, if only to support the work of the foundation. We spent half a day, and that only on the paved trails among the crane enclosures. There are many more dirt trails to explore, but not on a scooter.