Bumblebees of Villa Ndio

At least three distinct species of bumblebees buzz the red dead nettles that thrive throughout the Villa Ndio garden. The white-tailed bumblebee – Bombus lucorum — and the all-orange Bombus pascuorum are frequent visitors.  Among the white-tailed bumblebee we have seen both yellow banded and orange banded varieties.  And among the all-orange bumblebee, some have dark brown bands.  

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The Verrerie de Biot

Glass blowers stroll around their workshop in cool street clothing and sandals, with molten glass blobs on the ends of long hollow poles.  They use the poles to scoop up raw material through  a small door of a brightly glowing furnace that keeps it in a thick liquid form. Then at different stations around the workshop they twirl the poles down their length; blow into the poles to give the blobs shape; place the developing work into a smaller furnace where they continue to spin the poles and keep the material hot and pliable; and stand on small platforms to lower the work into shaping and cooling boxes with the help of their colleagues.  The process, with several pieces of glassware being created simultaneously, is not unlike a dance, with each dancer managing his own piece.  They all seem to have excellent peripheral vision, each knowing where the others are at all times with their extremely hot molten glass on the ends of their long poles.

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Remembering Sardinia and L’Ardia di San Costantino Festival

We knew it was a popular festival and that it was going to be crowded.  So we set out early from our guest house near Oristano for the 45 minute drive to Sedilo. Even so, it was already filling up when we got there.  We got as close as we could to drop off the members of our party less able to hike from remote parking.  But that hike for the rest of us was pleasant for the scenery and people watching. When we got to the Sanctuario di San Costantino the hillside sloping down from the imposing cross was well populated, as were the walls and other choice seating areas.  Our group congregated just inside the main gate where we saw a wide variety of local officials, Sardinian natives and more than a smattering of tourists.

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A Visit to Corsica — Part One

We used the Villa Ndio visit of my daughter Kristina and her husband Julian as a ready excuse to spend a few days, for the first time, in Corsica.  We planned a three-day trip to include sailing on a car ferry leaving Nice and arriving in Bastia at the northern end of the island, but returning from Ajaccio to the south, over to Toulon.  We stayed two nights at a bed and breakfast not far from Bastia. The third night was aboard the ferry to Toulon. Here is part one of a short description of our experience.  A gallery of photographs is included at the end. Continue reading “A Visit to Corsica — Part One”

Shopping for the Shack

I serve on the Board of Directors for the International School of Bangkok (ISB) Network Foundation, an organization comprised of members who are devoted to serving the International School of Bangkok, its alumni and students, and the Kingdom of Thailand. We are dedicated to bringing ISB alumni together to maintain and support the unique relationships and experiences that tie us together and keep us connected to our time at ISB and in the beautiful Kingdom of Thailand. Visit the ISB Network website here. I went to this school from 1965 to 1968, and graduated there in 1968.  On the network board  I currently have  two titles — President, and Director of Technology. For the latter, my main function is to maintain the ISB Network website.  For the former I preside over board meetings and assist other board members in outreach, communications, and administrative tasks. I also participate in a variety of activities related to the bi-annual all class reunion, and to raise funds for the Network’s charitable programs. Much of the revenue for those programs comes from sales by the ISB Network “Shack” store.  The name for the store comes from the small beverage shop at the far end of the lane that our school was on, that served as a hangout for ISB students before and after school.  The “shack” also served as a landing for “long-tail” outboard motor boats that plied the “khlongs” or canals, of Bangkok. I myself rode these long-tail boats to and from school, as my house was on the same khlong, about three kilometers away.  The ISB Network Shack Store sells clothing items and accessories and merchandise from Thailand. This brings me to the subject of this blog post.

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Rose Expo Grasse 2018

Image may contain: flower, plant and natureAfter marvelling at the roses blooming as if overnight in our own Villa Ndio garden we went to the much anticipated annual Rose Expo in Grasse, which occurs each year in mid-May. The event features beautiful flowers mostly roses of course, and lots of lovely people. Highlights included photo ops with the past and current Miss Grasse (the latter crowned a week before the Expo), and their entourage of Rose Expo princesses. We also met up with the mayor.

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Exploring the Charms of Old Grasse

Not far from Villa Ndio sits the old City of Grasse: The Perfume Capital of the World! One can visit three major perfumeries for guided tours that run you through historical and modern methods of perfume making and lead you to boutiques where you can buy their scents and soaps. Or, you can explore the twisting turning rising falling narrow passageways throughout the pedestrian sections of the old town. Every time I go there I find a new path to explore. Each has its own blend of color, shape and light.  Windows and doors, shutters, balconies, stoops, cobblestones, shops, homes.  Some buildings are run down but most are not, looking all spruced up.  The lanes are narrow giving the sense that the buildings on either side are towering tall.  Take a look at the photos in the gallery below, and plan a visit to see for yourself!

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My Old School

While visiting Bangkok Thailand in October I took a trip down memory lane to My Old School — The International School of Bangkok.  When I went to this school for my high school years — 1965 to 1968, it was located on Soi Ruam Chai, number 15 Sukhumvit.  Sukhumvit is the name of a major thoroughfare that originates in central Bangkok and then run east and south over 60 kilometers.  The sois, or lanes that run perpendicular from Sukhumvit to the left and right have names but they are also numbered, with odd numbers on the outbound side (motorists drive on the left in Thailand) and even numbers on the inbound side.

Long ago the school moved out of town, to a new campus in Nonthaburi, Thailand, about 30 kilometers to the north.  I wanted to see the old ISB campus which was taken over by the New International School of Thailand (NIST), now celebrating its 25th anniversary.
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A Visit to Accra

May 2014 Kathy and I went to Accra, Ghana, on a work-related trip.  For details on that part of the visit see www.gsogeneva.ch  regarding  contributions to the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition initiative.  We were able to find some free time, not much, before heading back to Geneva, our home base at the time.  In Accra we were driven to the  downtown market for a brief visit there, and later strolled around the neighborhood surrounding our hotel.  These photos depict some scenes we saw there.

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