The Daily Post – Trance at the Museum

 

A trip to the Perot Museum in downtown Dallas took us to the Gems and Minerals Hall.  An exhibit which filled me with awe as I wandered around and looked at an amazing array of treasures from this wondrous earth.

In particular, the large, and very pretty, amethyst geode was remarkable to look at.  So gorgeous with all the shiny and sparkly purple gems glistening under the bright lights -it was enough bling to send a girl into a trance!

My granddaughter, Thérèse, loved it, too!

Spending time inside an air-conditioned museum on a hot Texas day was fun.

Spending it with family was even better.

Urban Amble

An urban amble on the Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas was an outing I immensely enjoyed.  A 3.5 mile trek stretching from SMU at the north end to the American Airlines Center on the south end the trail offered an abundance of opportunities to enjoy nature and city at the same time.

We saw planes, trains and automobiles amidst very tall skyscrapers and yet, plenty of trees offered lots of shade.  Several private apartment/townhome patios – that backed up to the trail -had water features or fountains and the gentle sound of trickling water helped us forget we were in the middle of Big D.  Runners, rollerbladers, dogs, birds, squirrels and (bike)riders were too numerous to count.  A patio restaurant known as the Katy Trail Ice House offered a scenic caboose and a refreshing variety of 50+ beers on tap.

It made for a good day.

 

 

Painted Churches of the Texas: The Tiny One

Leaving the central Texas area around Schulenburg – and not feeling tethered to a strict timeline – we were making our way toward Huntsville and enjoying the scenery.  We had visited all the churches on our list plus one more and were satisfied with our exploration of this small section of the Lone Star State.

All of a sudden we saw a teeny tiny building in the distance that looked like a small church.  As we flew by at 65 mph we saw the sign and, indeed, it was a church!

Hitting the brakes and making a U-turn we quickly made our way back to see what was what.  As the sign states, visitors were welcome to tour the grounds and the building.

 

On the altar was a notebook for prayer intentions along with a note which stated that Mass is held once a month.

St. Martins – It was the most charming stumbled-on find of the weekend.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to visit The Painted Churches of Texas- I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.

If you would like to see the other churches we visited that weekend I’ve included the links below:

St. John the Baptist in Ammansville and Queen of the Holy Rosary in Hostyn

St. Mary’s in Praha and Ascension of Our Lord in Moravia

St. Mary’s at High Hill

St. Cyril and Methodius in Dubina

 

Painted Churches of Texas: Praha, Moravia and St. John

No scampering for us as we continued our journey down country roads in search of the next Painted Churches in Texas built by Czech immigrants.

Having started our tour at Queen of the Holy Rosary and St. John the Baptist we meandered down more rural roads in search of our next stop.  We didn’t have to go far since all of the parishes are within a few miles of each other.

St. Mary’s Church in Praha (English for Prague)

The next two churches were only open to guided tours.  Since we were doing self-guided we were not able to go inside.  They were still gorgeous in their simple and quiet surroundings.

Ascension of Our Lord in Moravia

 Looking through glass doors Hubby managed to get a picture of the altar.

St. John in St. John, Texas

Many of the parishes had these wonderful outdoor spaces for gatherings.  What a great concept!

Next up – we attend Mass in High Hill at another church named St. Mary’s and also known as the Queen of the Painted Churches.  You won’t want to miss the beauty!

 

 

WPC – What’s In A Shanghai Name?

A trip to Shanghai provided many opportunities to see names in English and the character equivalents in Mandarin.

Shanghai hotelOur hotel in the Shanghai ‘suburb’ of Jiading

Ikea and Amway

Grocery items at the local Auchan (equivalent to Wal-Mart)

A wealth of western shopping opportunities in downtown Shanghai

Shanghai street sign

A street sign on a side street

McDonald’s quarterpounder and KFC/Pizza Hut

A wonderful trip!

 

A Wedding and Minnesota Mosquitos

I had heard stories of Minnesota mosquitos but, as our plane left Dallas and pointed north I forgot them.

My mom and I were going to the wedding of my niece, Kelli, and, once we landed –  and the rain cleared out – we were left with weather perfected.   Lows in the high-50’s and highs in the low 80’s and low humidity made for a wonderful, and much appreciated, break from the oppressive heat and high humidity we had been experiencing.

The wedding was beautiful and joyful – as weddings should be – and I loved watching as Kelli was happily wed to Erik.  They – along with two year-old Jace, are good together and make a super sweet family.

Finding myself with free time the next day the cool morning beckoned me outside to do some exploring.

Elk River had lots of natural settings to enjoy and my soul was filled with appreciation for this little piece of heaven.  An abundance of huge evergreens conjured up visions of Christmas trees covered in snow and laced with twinkling lights.

Elk River, MN

Quaint landscapes with red barns and the meandering Mississippi River invoked feelings of tranquility and peace.

But, relaxing landscapes and Christmas dreams aside, I wanted to do some hiking, and, lucky me, trails were easy to find.  There was an abundance of choices, all within a 10 minute drive.

Looking at a map of the parks I settled on one described as “home to six miles of challenging trails through 80 acres of oak forest”

Perfect!

My exuberance apparently fogged my brain and in the excitement of my impending adventure I didn’t remember that Minnesota had received a lot of rain in the previous weeks.

And, I didn’t remember that bugs tend to be worse near bodies of water.

And, I didn’t remember that when you combine standing water – or streams or rivers or lakes –  with a canopy of trees that mosquitoes tend to multiply exponentially.

And, I didn’t remember that, as a general rule, mosquitos LOVE me.

Most important…..I didn’t remember bug spray.

Can you tell what’s coming?

Yep, as I hiked into the forest I discovered there were plenty of those pesky parasites and each time I stopped moving they were determined to move in for the kill feast.

The hike was now forgotten and the race was on as I began running.  They wanted to eat me alive?  Well, first they were going to have to catch me!  I foolishly felt sure I would win this contest.

Oh I was so wrong.

Each time I stopped I resembled a wild woman – waving my arms all around while slapping myself.  Obviously, I wasn’t going to be stopping too often, or for very long, so checking my gps was going to be a challenge.  As a result, I took a wrong turn and went deeper into the woods instead of out.

Forty-five minutes – and what felt like four thousand bites later, it was the pests who got the win.  Dragging my sorry bit-up butt out of the forest I admitted defeat.

Mosquitoes – one, me – zero.

And, okay, let’s be real – four thousand might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Kelli & ErikOh well. What’s an adventure without a little adversity?  The wonderful time I had with family while enjoying beautiful sights and amazing temperatures made my potentially serious lapse in thinking a minor nuisance.  Overall – I had fun and that was worth dealing with a few bug bites.

Minnesota….I still love you.  I may have lost the race but the beauty of the area – and some Benadryl – made my not-so-clever choice well worth the aggravation.

 

Mass in Mandarin

Staying in the Jiading ‘suburb’ of Shanghai or district, as they are called here, our light colored skin, hair and freckles have proved to be a source of fascination for many locals.  Heads have turned as we walk by and many have taken our picture.  Some openly and others, thinking we can’t see them, take our photo on the sly.  It doesn’t bother us and we are happy to smile and pose as long as they are relatively polite and respectful.  Which, without a doubt, they have been.

This morning we went to a very small (300 people) local Catholic Church to attend Mass.  We came in the back and sat in the last pew but, in no time at all, word spread through the sanctuary that foreigners were present. Heads turned and they made no secret of staring at us.  I’m not kidding, LOTS of heads turned.

Mass was lovely and while I understood 4 words total….Ni hao (hello) XieXie (thank you), amen and alleluia I was able to follow along because worldwide the service is the same wherever you go.  Same readings and same prayers no matter the language and no matter the location. It.Is.Awesome. (Plus, with Mass Apps I can follow the readings in English)

Jesus I trust in YouI know what this says!! (Jesus, I trust in You)

Sared HeartThe altar of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Diocese of Wenzhou

And a big kudos to the congregation for the beautiful and roof-raising singing.  It was amazing to hear such joyful voices being lifted unto the Lord!

After Mass we wandered back into the courtyard where we ended up the main attraction for pictures. We happily posed for about 10 minutes while taking different group shots and individual selfies.  It was fun and the Chinese – in all their curiosity – were welcoming and excited to see us.

Sacred Heart

Taking a picture of them taking pictures of us

Sacred Heart

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.

Stormy Day in Jiading

The rain came fast and, because I hadn’t been watching weather reports, unexpectedly.  Thunder followed and a stormy day set in.  It was a good time to relax the schedule as the heat and humidity, while sightseeing the day before, had tired all of us.

When the rain tapered off we ventured out for lunch and ended up exploring the streets and shops in the surrounding area.  Our group split up which left my son, Patrick, and I hanging out together.  JIading shoppingWe were wandering around, ambling in and out of the little shops when I spied a sign with a teapot.  Loving all things tea, and especially drinking tea in Asia, we went into the shop to see what was what. The shopkeeper seemed excited to see us and began talking to us.  Unfortunately, we had no idea what he was saying.  We wanted to ask him questions but were not able to communicate effectively with him.

Note….Patrick has had two years of high school Mandarin and both my fluent-speaking Mandarin son, Joshua, and me, his mom, (speaking absolutely no Mandarin) are highly impressed with how well he has been able to communicate.  However, this chatting was above his capabilities.

Finding no success in asking him if his teapots were for sale or display we left the shop to find Joshua and, upon our return, discovered this gentleman was completely delightful and wanted nothing more than to share his tea while working on his painting and flute-playing.

One of the things I love about staying in the less touristy areas is stumbling upon these amazing experiences that you can’t buy with money.  It had been a lazy, rainy day calling for a ponytail and no make-up.  No matter that I was ultra-casual though, our host could have cared less.  Discovering this hidden gem and being treated to an absolutely wonderful encounter completely made my day.

Jiading Tea

Confucius Temple and Huilongtan Park

 

We are enjoying our time as guests of Jiading District – outside of Shanghai – and our sweet little hotel.  Having time to leisurely explore the area and appreciate the sights I’ve been especially taken with the abundance of parks and green space.

Confucian TempleWe saw the Confucian Temple of Jiading also known as the China Imperial Examination System Museum.  This is where philosophers spent much time studying and taking the exams to become scholars.  It was a high distinction to pass these tests.

Confucian Temple

On the other side of the park from the Temple was the Huilongtan Park.  A peaceful area with families, walking trails, a tea room, some amusements and a small lake.

Huilongtan ParkHuilongtan Park Huilongtan Park Huilongtan ParkI really love these gentle oasis’ amongst the hustle and bustle of a busy city.

 

Looking Up – Jiading, Shanghai

Looking up to see Fahua Pagoda in the historical city of Jiading.

Originally constructed during the reign of Emperor Kaixi (1205-1207) during the Song Dynasty.  Seven Stories tall it has wooden stairs to the top which gives a birds-eye view of the city.

At night the lights make it even more special.

Jiading Fahua Pagoda