Chihuly at Biltmore – Asheville NC Sept 2018

For those of you who don’t know who Dale Chihuly is, he is a world famous glass artist. I first saw his work at an exhibit at VMFA several years ago. When I saw he would be exhibiting nearby in North Carolina, I immediately booked tickets! And even better, the exhibit was going to be outdoors in the gardens at Biltmore, and you could view the sculptures at night! Win, win, win!

We stayed on property this time and made reservations at the Inn at Biltmore. Very nice, I highly recommend it, especially because they have free shuttles that will take you around the property. It poured down rain on the drive up and stayed mostly cloudy the whole time, but the mist was really cool to see just hovering in the mountains.


Antler Village is just a couple of minutes away from the Inn, so we started our vacation with wine tasting (I may or may not have bought 6 different wines to bring home)! Antler Village also had a couple of the Chihuly sculptures on display (the Inn is in the background in the upper left).


Day and night viewing.



I’ve been to the Biltmore a couple of times before (in 2012 and 2013), so rather than spend time in the house, or wandering around town, I wanted to find something else to do before seeing the main event. NC is known for waterfalls, and I found one that was less than an hour away, and required zero hiking.


After the waterfall, it was time to head to the house!



Evening shot





Took a break from glass for flowers!



It started to rain on the way back from the conservatory to the main house, but that didn’t stop me from snapping pictures!


Cucumbers (?) growing down from on top of a trellis.







I thought these would be lit from underneath in the water. The shots definitely didn’t turn out how I wanted them to, and the rain didn’t help.














Photography wasn’t allowed inside the house before. I should have gone on the house tour and taken more pictures. Oh well, just another excuse to go back again.


The last day included an all-you-can-eat brunch at Deerpark.  It was a wonderful way to end a fantastic vacation!



Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden- Origami in the Garden

I spent an afternoon in May at Lewis Ginter and saw the Origami in the Garden exhibit. The brochure describes it as “Soaring birds, gliding airplanes, galloping ponies, floating boats and emerging butterflies – 21 museum quality metal sculptures tucked into beautiful Garden setting as metaphors for the life forms they celebrate.”

I didn’t take a picture of the explanation, but these are “Blooming Stars” and “Botanical Peace 2” at the entrance to the gardens.


I didn’t take a picture of the description, but I’m pretty sure these are “Nesting Pair.”

Just some pretty flowers along the way.

I think this one is “Duo.”


Had to stop into the butterfly exhibit!

More pretty flowers on the way out.

I missed a few sculptures, so I went back a couple of weeks ago after work. It was a very nice, rare, low-humid day in August.

See the little butterfly on the left?


Always something fun and exciting in the gardens!


San Francisco CA – March 2018

I WENT HOME! Well, my short, temporary home anyway. My parents lived east of the city for a couple of years while I was in college and I only spent a couple of Christmases and summers there. It was a short trip, but gotta say, Monterey is in my top three dream retirement cities (after Sedona and Carlsbad).

When I was in college, I took a black and white photography lab class. We had to produce a portfolio by the end of it, and there is SO much in San Francisco to see so I had no lack of inspiration. But that means a lot of my photographs are in black and white. Like…the Golden Gate Bridge, was gray! Needless to say I was super excited to get the opportunity to shoot in color!

We started the trip at the Palace of Fine Arts.




We accidentally drove over the bridge. I was trying to make it to one of the viewing areas, but the GPS was slow and told me to turn after I had already passed it. No biggie, the bridge is beautiful!


Next stop was Pier 39.


View from the hotel room!

View from the hotel bar on the top floor.

Sunset over the City, Bridge, and Pacific Ocean!

This was all from the same sunset!

Sunrise the next morning! The windows were filthy, but I still got to see it.

Turns out I did take a couple of pictures in color.



Pictures don’t do gooseberries justice, so I had to take a video.




Can you see the fish in the very middle? An eye and slightly parted mouth…


I have never seen an active octopus. This one didn’t stop moving long enough to get a good shot!


After the aquarium, we did the 17-Mile Drive around Pebble Beach.




The last time we were in Monterey (16 years ago!)…

The hills in the city are SUPER steep!

Fisherman’s Wharf and real sourdough bread!

The last day was spent driving to our old home and seeing how the town had changed.


I say it all the time, but I HEART California!

Terracotta Army – VMFA Jan 2018

Another amazing exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts!

When Ying Zheng was laid to rest in 210 BC, he was accompanied into the afterlife by an army of nearly 8,000 life-size clay soldiers, horses, chariots, organized into battle formation and equipped with a full arsenal of weapons.

Ying Zheng ordered the construction of his mausoleum complex and military entourage shortly after he became king of the Qin state in 246 BC. In only eleven years as emperor, he brought about significant political and cultural reforms, unified the nation, and reshaped Chinese national identity in ways that have resonated for 2,200 years.


This was the only (stated) replica in the exhibit.

Finally, the army!

Offering a glimpse into ancient China’s firm belief in the afterlife, this section of the exhibit displayed life-size terracotta figures and other objects excavated from the First Emperor’s mausoleum complex. Some figures stand over six feet tall and weigh more than 400 pounds. Stone armor, bronze weapons, and a bronze goose accompany these large-scale sculptures that depict the First Emperor’s soldiers, officials, and servants.

More than 700,000 workers constructed the mausoleum complex over 38 years of Ying Zheng’s reign as both king and emperor. The First Emperor’s mausoleum complex (which sits at the foot of Mount Li, near Xi’an) is a necropolis, or a large cemetery of an ancient city, and measures approximately 38 square miles (more than half the size of the City of Richmond) in its entirety. The complex includes the tomb mound, ritual structures, a palace, an armory, an entertainment arena, stables, and a garden pond, as well as three pits containing the terracotta army figures. To date, it is estimated that only 20 percent of the buried figures have been excavated.

These objects not only represent furnishings and amenities for the afterlife but also show the artistry of ancient Chinese craftsmen.


Today, the First Emperor’s tomb mound remains undisturbed, and its contents are a mystery.