Sunday, October 16, 2016

Boise of Treasure Valley

I am sitting in Mini with Ms. Olivia on the Sacramento River's edge at a little campground/marina in West Sacramento, California where it hasn't rained in months.  The rain is pelting our little RV thanks to "remants" of Typhoon Songda.    Great time to stay indoors and do some writing because we are off and running tomorrow to Yosemite as the weather clears!  I will try to capture the charm of Boise in this blog.   It is a GREAT town full of art, outdoor activities, culture, friendly people and just a wonderful, uplifting overall vibe.  And we had a wonderful family visit. 

Marina and RV park (not a parking lot!) on the Sacramento River

We recently stopped over in Boise to visit family (my older sister and her kids and their kids) for a week and pick up our Sondors electric bikes (pictures below), regroup and make a plan/review our itinerary/check weather as we head out towards the west coast.  Most people know that Boise has been rated as one of the best retirement cities (Forbes) and although I never understood it before (hot in the desert summer heat and cold in the winter), I get it now.  Here's some of the things we enjoyed while in Boise of Treasure Valley.
Maiden rides on the new e-bikes!  Thanks so much to my nephew and great nephew for ALL the help!
Bikes on the new bike rack and road-ready
62-year old biker chick :P  And, as always, "safety first" helmet on my biker head! 
After settling in with family and parking Mini in the RV parking lot (conveniently located with respect to all city activities - right between Idaho State Highway 51 and Boise Airport...not so much of an ommmm here but definitely close to the city and family!)  I took a yoga class at a great yoga/health center in Boise (check it out at Yoga Tree Boise).  When you think yoga you don't naturally think Boise and yet Forbes listed Boise in their top 10 cities because of it's  lively yoga community.  And although, the gentle yoga class I took with my older sister was not the best yoga I have ever taken it suited me on that day because my ribs were still on the mend and I think it was the perfect yoga class for my sister who has fibromyalgia (hoping it inspired her to carry on in my absence!).  Yoga in Boise....who knew?

Then I took not one but two classes with Kay Seurat,  a local jewelry artist who has such an artsy house that it spooked my sister (check her out here  When we drove up to her house/studio, not far from the airport and next to the train tracks (so, very near our noisy RV parking lot), I was intrigued with her metal work outside the house.  She used metal ironing boards, attached to the roof to give a "sculpting" edge to the front of her house where you would normally find the gutters and a red car hood installed as a "porch" cover as well as old license plates to frame her entry (unfortunately, I can't find those pictures as I fumble around with my camera and iCloud via iPhone on my iMac right now).....But, in any event, her home is one-of-a-kind unique!  She remarked when I asked about the license plates framing her front door, "The license plates I got at the DMV.  People think you are supposed to bring your old ones in but that's not true so the DMV takes them and sets them aside.  Don't you think it's weird that I had to pay 50 cents each for them when the DMV got them for free?"  Yes, I do! 

With Kay, on that fist visit, I made a pair of blue and lime green enameled earrings.  I have enameled and cut metal with a saw before but it's never been my favorite activity so this was good practice and easy for Kay; she could work away while I spent an hour and a half sawing!  For me sawing is kind of like knitting.  It's like a projective test where your behavior reflects your mood, think of those ambiguous ink blots that psychologists use to see into your mind based on the image you see......oh that's a bat, no a sumo wrestler.  I this case, if I was tense while knitting  (without even noticing it) I would notice when I looked back at my handywork that I had made itty bitty stitches so that the "material" I had made was as strong as steel and yet when I was relaxed I stitched big loosey goosey stitches so open you could stick your finger through and between the stitches with ease.  With sawing, it's the same kind of thing.  You have to hold the saw gently and just let your wrist do the sawing in an easy up and down fashion and let it all happen with ease vs. clutching the saw white-knuckled like it weights 50 pounds and is on the verge of dropping to the ground.  And,  so to compensate you use your entire right arm to saw.  Using your whole tense arm is not only tiring, but completely effective in cutting through metal (and your saw breaks a lot).  And, so it was great practice to saw a pair of lime green and blue enamel colored copper earrings that required lots of turns!

I have a lime green pair of earrings.
I have a lime green and blue pair of earrings!

I have a pair of blue earrings!
I also signed up for a glass blowing class at Boise Art Glass.  I have only watched glass blowing at the the Toledo Art Museum (where we bought the fabulous orange vase that the glass blower made as a demonstration), and once in Quechee, Vermont at Simon Pierce Mill Glassblowing where we walked scaffolds and looked down on a huge space full of furnaces and glass blowers.  I have art friends who blow glass beads and have always been intrigued.

Austin was our instructor for 1/2 hour.  My sister readily came to this activity and we made round globes; 2 in about 25 minutes.  At $13 each this was a bargain and part of the Boise Open Studios weekend that we were lucky to be around for.  The space was HOT and dangerous which is what I loved about it.  It's what I love about metals can easily get hurt (acid, saws, fire) ....danger and art.  What could be better?  We assisted Austin by holding the metal rod while the molten glass was in the furnace...I was surprised to learn the glass would only droop, but never drop off the metal rod.  You turn it so it evenly warms while in the fire.  Then we helped while we dropped this clear glass and very hot glob into colored glass pieces (rolling it around to cover fully) then returned it to the furnace and repeated this process one more time.  Then there was some rolling on metal and dropping the glass glob into a mold to shape it and then finally setting it into in silica type material bin where Austin snipped it off the hot rod.   He then took a small blob of clear molten glass and dropped it into the little hole created by snipping it off the rod...forming that colorless glob into the hanger.  It was a marvelous experience! 

With a glob of clear very hot glass on a hot rod, you roll it in colored glass
After adding 2 layers of colored glass, you literally blow into a tube to expand the glass...awesome!
My glass globe, cooling in some metal (forgot what he said this was) before annealing in a kiln for 12 hours
I think Austin is hiding from these inquisitive little women!
But, I was quite in awe (being a nature girl at heart, I think...I remember years ago when my husband took me up to Rangeley, Maine where he was doing a soils test and we stayed at this cabin on a lake in the middle of nowhere and I was at home washing the dishes in the lake and using the outhouse that had a water view and he said, "Who knew you were such a nature girl?"...raised in the woods I think I always have been).  Anyway, as my husband and I took our our new electric bikes on our maiden voyage - I was unsure how these would work but my husband was convinced we needed these on this trip (and he was right!) and put great effort into getting them road-ready - he had "The Greenbelt" in mind for this first trip out.  This is an extraordinary area in Boise, bordering the Boise River on both sides full of activities (fishing, surfing, whitewater rafting practice, paddle boarding, running, weight lifting outdoors) with restaurants and miles of running/walking/biking lanes.  We both jumped on our bikes and he was so grateful they were electric (he later told me) because he didn't have to pedal (his ankle with several bone spurs only bends with great pain and his knee is difficult to bend making peddling kind of challenging to say the least).  But I did pedal and at the same time tried to focus on staying on the bike, how to work the electronics (push a button and 3 lights greet you as and you hear the motor move you along like in a regular vs. standard shifting needed!).  I was also trying to make sure the brakes worked as I watched the people walking and running and bike riding around me (and that crazy kid riding his bike while texting!) and as we rode along the next thing we knew we were on this marvelous, I mean completely beautiful nature path right that runs right along the Boise river, under the main roads and made for bikes and pedestrians! 
Cool bike path right under the main roads of Boise!
Boiseans surfing!  The day before they were practicing whitewater rafting :)
So, Boise, I get why you are rated highly as a wonderful city -  indeed it is a treasure of the valley. 

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