Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Ee!!

Happy Birthday!! So glad we get to spend it together this year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On the road again!

Tomorrow we head off on vacation, driving from Prague to Brittany. The end of the road leads here...

On the way, we're planning to wind our way through the Alsace region and meet my sister in Colmar to go wine tasting, shopping, hiking and art viewing (perhaps not in that order). Then we'll skirt Paris and scoot to the coast.

I'm looking forward to hiking along the cliff tops, eating mussels, playing on the sand with C, meeting up with old friends (and maybe new as well!) and taking lots and lots of pictures. Somewhere along the way I promise to raise a glass of cider to everyone, and you can be sure there will be many pics when we're home!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Red Door, Graffiti

Most graffiti in Prague looks like what you see here, tags and twists of lines scrawled on building facades and doors, old and new. Different sections of the city have created graffiti ordinances to handle the issue - Prague 6 removes graffiti within twenty-four hours from buildings, most of the city charges fines and a steep sentence if caught. Trying for a different approach, some parts of the city have set up legal graffiti zones, and one hotel recently invited several artists to graffiti their employee area.

Graffiti has even gotten its own local festival. From August 26th till September 6th Trafacka gallery is running a graffiti and street art festival here. I just read about this the other day - I think we'll have to stop by for a visit when we're back from vacation in a week or so!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Ferris Wheel of Gears

Sculpture near Nadrazi Holesovice.
Graffiti isn't the only form of street art you find in Prague. Here's one free-standing example I really like. Only a few of the wheels turn in the breeze.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Erroll Flynn of graffiti artists

Ano! takhle chci! smenit pohled na kultura!
Yes! I want! to change the view on culture!
Apparently this is what happens when Robin Hood picks up Warhol's banana as his bow and arrow - surreptitious mass produced stenciling.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Miro Mirror - Doodle Graffiti

Wall doodle behind Wenceslas Square.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Along the Waterfront

The green line starts here.

Christine, over at My Typography, suggested microblogging for August. She inspired me last January to try everyday art - turning one of my least favorite months of the year into a time of joy and satisfaction for me, so I thought I'd take her up on microblogging too.

I decided I'd try it with a twist though, picking a theme every few days to follow. As you can tell, I'm on a graffiti kick this week. We live with a lot of graffiti here in Prague, and it is one of the first things people remark on when they arrive in town. I notice it too when I first get back from a trip or when I pull out my camera, and over the years I've found all sorts of samples that are a bit more interesting than the incessant tags and bubble letters that cover walls here.

These pictures are from 2006, the last time the Vltava threatened to flood Prague. When the water rises, the city builds barricades along its waterfront. Firmly anchored by posts buried in the embankment and further buffered by sandbags, the barricades work well. They kept most of the river out of downtown Prague in 2002 and again in 2006. They are tempting graffiti targets though - someone apparently decided that the post would make a fine connection to the green trail and slapped on a sticker to help show the way.

You can see just how high the barricades can go in the broader view below.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Psi Psani Graffiti

Stencil graffiti on street corner.

"Psi psani" roughly translated - doggish doggerel.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Eat No Animals

Stencil graffiti near Kampa.

The Lennon Wall just around the corner from this gate is the most famous graffiti space in Prague. It's a legal zone for graffiti and is covered with paint - tags, messages, cartoons...and changes from day to day, depending on who shows up to work on it. I prefer these birds taking flight.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Piano Play

Caroline likes to doodle on the piano now, playing a sort of jazzy one handed improv. She pretends she's playing along with a score, and sometimes announces that she is playing Rudolph, or one of the Czech folk songs she's learned in school. One of my favorite moments in the day is just before dinner, when we get her set up messing about on the piano while we fix a meal. We tell her she's singing for her supper.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Little Baby Glee

Here's a picture of J just a few days ago. He's chatting away, practicing one of his two favorite words - Harold and Helga. He loves to be talked to and he especially loves when you say something he can echo. Then he'll grin with delight, wiggle all over and answer in kind.

Me: Harold?
J: Haaarol
M: Helga?
J: Elllga*

*Elgar might be a better transcription, J wiggles along to his cello concerto too!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mushroom time

During our hike last weekend we managed to find several clusters of mushrooms. Mostly we found Bitter Boletes already uprooted by early-bird hunters (see above), but we also ran into some slightly old edibles that got added to our basket to take home for soup.

Bitter Boletes catch the eye because they look like their cousin, the Penny Bun. One bite of the Bitter, and you'd know the difference. It isn't poisonous but it is spit-provokingly untasty. You don't have to take a nibble to tell the two apart though. Just look at the netting around your mushroom's stem. The Bitter's stem looks like it is wrapped in black netting, while the Penny Bun sports white hose instead.

In Czech, a Bitter Bolete is Hřib hořký. If you don't recognize Penny Bun, think Porcini.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

We spent the weekend in the mountains north of Prague, just on the border between the Czech Republic and Poland. We stayed in Rokytnice nad Jizerou in a pension set into the side of a hill above town. It was the first trip out of Prague for the baby and the first for me this year, and the entire weekend felt like I had just woken up and was stretching my toes in delight.

Sunday found us hiking up the hill behind the pension on a mushroom and blueberry hunt. While Caroline and her friends tracked down all the berries they could eat, I took pictures. I wanted to see if I could find patterns in the forest the same way that I can in town. I think I'm better at finding textures, but anyway, here is the condensed story of our walk up hill, past the last cottage, and into the woods.

And yes, we did find mushrooms too!