Monday, January 28, 2013

thank you and goodbye

What a ride this has been.

In 2006, as I was entering my second year of being president of a women's club in Rochester, I told myself I wanted to take what I had learned as the club treasurer and president and turn it into a business I could own and run myself.  This blog has chronicled that process and the resulting business, JOOLZ, was like a fourth child for me.  I incubated it, birthed it, sent it out into the world and watched it succeed. 

The time has come, however, to put it to bed.  Since 2006 we have added another grandson to the first one, born in 2005, and a third grandchild is expected this summer.  We are still healthy and relatively mobile, and want to travel as much as possible while we can do so comfortably. We want to have the flexibility to pick up and go at the drop of a hat.  We don't want to put off to tomorrow what we can do today.

With all that in mind, I have closed my business completely, even shutting down the online store.  The corporation will be dissolved in the upcoming months and I will turn in my Sales Tax Certificate to the powers that be in Albany.  I'll be done, but the wonderful memories of customers who became friends, artists who became friends and drop-dead, gorgeous joolz will be with me forever.

Thanks to you all for being with me along the way.  It's been a treat to have had you at my side.

And now I will finish writing this blog (it'll stay online, because I want to be able to thumb through it whenever I want), and I have started writing a new blog, Brownies for Breakfast, that will chronicle our life, our travels and all the things I especially love.  If you're interested, I invite you to hop on over there and keep on riding with me.  And have a brownie, if you like.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

meet the author of a stunning new book

Imagine my surprise this morning, when I opened my e-mailed link to Houzz and saw an article about the new book, Long Island Modernism 1930 - 1980.  The author, Caroline Rob Zaleski, was a classmate of miine.

Caroline was born and raised in England, but moved to Rochester when her father, a noted vascular surgeon, was hired to be the Chief of Surgery at the University of Rochester.  She became a classmate in 7th or 8th grade and I remember a petite blond with a wonderful English accent.  We've seen each other a few times since those middle and high school days; she's still petite but the English accent is not as pronounced now.

Caroline became a nurse and then a medical writer.  Raised by parents who loved art, that interest later evolved into Caroline's passion for architecture and architectural preservation.  She went back to school for further studies and has a flourishing career as a preservationist.  Her writing talents are now being used in that arena, resulting in this beautiful new book.  Published in September 2012, it's available on Amazon

I think the medicine/art connection is wired into many of us.  Caroline went into nursing first and ended up with a career based in art.  I started out as an Art History graduate, later went to nursing school and then 20 years after that was back in the art world with JOOLZ.  There's nothing to say you can't enjoy both, and certainly both Caroline and I have.  Congratulations to you, Caroline, on a job well done!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

fun colors - fun joolz

We are delighted to welcome Jennifer Lenel to our lineup of artists.  Now living in Washington State, Jennifer has been making jewelry for some time.  When we first learned of her work, she was using sterling silver.  Now she's switched to working with anodized aluminum,, in all its many colors.

Take a look at her Paula necklace:

Don't the colors just sing?

And put them  together with her Naomi earrings, and you're ready for a party:

Have fun shopping!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the JOOLZ collection is online

Finally, I am  happy to announce that The JOOLZ Collection is up and running and available for online shopping.

I honestly thought I would have this up in the late spring, but life and commitments used up so much of my time that there was little left over.  However, since returning from our trip, I have been working long hours behind the scenes to get the online store back up. 

You'll note a new name:  The JOOLZ Collection.  To put up the massive inventory we carried in the Main Street store would take years, not months, so I have chosen fewer pieces to sell in the online store.  It's now a "collection"  - culled from  the larger inventory.

Plans are to list more pieces as time allows and to introduce work by artists new to JOOLZ, too.  I'm always open to suggestions, so if you know of an artist you think would be a good fit, please contact me.

Enjoy the shopping experience, and please note that shipping charges for Canandaigua/Rochester area customers will be refunded - a small thank you for being a loyal customer.

Have fun!

Monday, October 8, 2012

day ten - venice to home

I have no pictures to share with you from  this long day, but I do have some final thoughts.

We arrived in San Basilio early in the morning, our luggage having been taken away for unloading promptly at 6:30am.  We had a quick breakfast and then were in the first group off the ship at 8:00am..  After retrieving our luggage from inside the small port terminal, we were directed to a bus to take us to the airport - no water taxi this time.  A long causeway connects Venice to the mainland and we were traveling on an extremely uncomfortable bus - the seats were small, there was virtually no leg room and even the aisle down the center of the bus was narrow and difficult to navigate.  Additionally, the assistant from the transfer company talked to the driver nonstop.  We were lucky he could concentrate enough on his driving to make the turn into the airport.  We were definitely out of our travel cocoon and back in the real world.

The airport was hopping and the lines to check in for flights went on and on.  We retrieved our luggage and headed for the US Airways ticket counter.  Once checked in and through security, we had a wait of several hours for our 11:35am non-stop flight to Philadelphia.

The flight was uneventful (no maintenance issues this time) and we even arrived in Philadelphia an hour early.  That gave us the opportunity to try to get on an earlier flight to Rochester.  We cleared customs and went to the US Airways transfer desk.  After consulting a non-smiling clerk who took 30 minutes to get us on the earlier flight, we had to RUN through the airport, go through security again and then RUN again, take a bus and RUN again to get to the gate.  We were the last people to get on the plane, the doors closed behind us, and off we went to Rochester.  Our bags, on the other hand, stayed in Philadelphia.  When we landed in Rochester, we spoke to the baggage supervisor and were told the bags would be coming on our original flight, even tho they had been tagged for our new flight and had a "rush" tag placed on them by the non-smiling clerk.  Living an hour from the airport meant we would have to drive back the next day to retrieve them,...or, if we were lucky...they would be delivered to our home late that same night.  At 12:30am, the bags were placed on our front porch and Larry brought them in.  Our trip was officially complete.

A few thoughts stay with us:

  • A lot of the success of traveling with a group depends on the Tour Director(s).  We met but didn't get to know Stephan Grosse, who led a third group of our fellow travelers, so we can't comment on his abilities.  But Steve Weiler and his wife, Melissa, who work as a team on their trips, were outstanding.  Steve (the lead Tour Director) was, by chance, our group leader and he really knew what he was doing.  He knew all the vendors, he knew the ship's crew, he knew the itinerary like the back of his hand and he knew how to keep track of all 3 groups without seeming to be doing that at all.  At the end of the trip, Tauck asks all its guests to complete a questionnaire on their experience and we gave high points to Steve.  Tauck should be very proud of his work ethic and how he presents the company to its customers.
  • This itinerary is a fascinating one.  We loved Venice and we loved seeing Croatia and Montenegro, countries that in the past might not have been so open to having visitors from the US.  We were suprised at the arid, tropical climate and were pleased that the weather was so cooperative.  September is a great time to travel in that part of the world and the summer crowds have thinned out a bit.
  • L'Austral is a lovely ship and the crew is very friendly and willing to go to any lengths to take care of you.  Our only complaint, and it was not ours alone, was that the food in the main dining room was often inedible.  The chef seemed to be trying to be "too gourmet" and served dishes that incorporated ingredients that didn't go together.  At one point, the 4 people at our table who were having a soup at dinner took one spoonful and couldn't eat the rest.
  • Travel with Tauck is easy and while you're on the trip, everything seems "free."  Of course you've paid for that privilege already, but not having to tip the guides, the ship's crew, the Tour Directors, the hotel staff, etc. etc. makes for a very comfortable travel experience.  And having your luggage handled so efficiently by others is another blessing.  We also learned A LOT from  the guides and were exposed to cultural experiences that we would never have had if we were traveling on our own.
  • As mentioned before, the downside of traveling with Tauck is that the schedule must go on, and there is little down time for those who want a break.  Traveling on a ship, where your transportation is also your hotel, makes it easier to say "no" to an event or to an afternoon of touring.  Traveling on a group bus trip, as we did in France, means you pretty much have to go with the group to each event and on each tour.
  • Will we travel again with Tauck?  Most certainly, yes.  Will we still travel independently at times?  Most certainly, yes.  Did we meet nice people on this trip?  Most certainly, yes.  Did we come back exhausted but happy?  You bet!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

day nine - pula and rovinj, croatia

Our last day of touring had arrived. We docked in Pula, the largest city in Istria County, in the morning, and left the ship to meet our guide, Nada.  You may remember that our guide in Korcula was also named Nada.  Different women, but both named "Hope" in Croatian.  I think it says something about the people of this country, that in our small exposure to its residents, two women of a similar age were named Hope.

Pula is known for its shipbuilding, and in fact, Nada's husband is a naval architect.  The large shipyard is the biggest employer in Pula and tourism  is a close second.  Pula has also been Istria's administrative center since ancient Roman times.

And the impact of the Romans was immediately apparent, as we visited the sixth largest Roman amphitheater in the world.  It was originally a small amphitheater built by Claudius and then enlarged by Vespasian in 79 AD for gladiatorial fights.  In Roman times it could hold 23,000 spectators; now it can hold up to 5,000 spectators for concerts and an annual film festival.  We approached from  the pier:

Once inside, we were impressed by the size of building and how much of it remains: 

The metal girders being dismantled by an Italian crew were the remants of an ice hockey game that had been played the night before.  This was a first for the Pula amphitheater, and Nada said her husband and son felt they HAD to be there.

Only a small part of the structure has been cleaned of thousands of years' worth of dirt and grime, but the difference in appearance is striking. Nada said she thinks the rest of the stone cleaning will not be completed for hundreds of years, as the work is so very expensive:

We then went down beneath the seats to the area where the gladiators and the lions prepared to meet each other. The prisons and cages are now a well-lit museum,. We saw rows of amphorae that were used to transport wine and other substances on ships traveling the high seas.  The type of amphorae found at the site of a shipwreck helps archeologists date the wreck.  These containers looked to be in good shape:

We left the amphitheater and continued on our walking tour of the city, passing by a relief map of the city:

Nada pointed out the architectural differences of the buildings nearby, which reflected several different eras and styles.  She also mentioned that 4 generations of men in her family have lived under 7 different governments.  We don't appreciate the stability we have in this country until we hear what others have borne.

We walked along one of the main streets looking at Roman ruins, including the Gate of Hercules. Built in the 1st century BC, it is the oldest and best preserved Roman monument in the city: 

The head of Hercules is in the center and his club is to our left.  Just to the side is what Nada called 1st century graffiti.  Translated from  the Latin, the words essentially say Kilroy Was Here:

We walked past the lovely flower market:

and past the Arch of the Sergii, erected in the 1st century BC on the orders of Salvia Postuma Sergia, to honor three brothers who held important positions in the Roman Empire:

We ended up near the fish market (no, I didn't go anywhere near it), but I did sit on the edge of a fountain while waiting for others to gather, and as I looked across the square I saw this shop:

I got the Charlie part, but had to wait until I got home to translate the "slasticarnica."  It means cake - a perfect translation for Sweet Charlie, our #2 grandson.

Nada led us back to the ship, which was going to sail north to Rovinj, our last stop on this cruise.  One of our group asked Nada if she would like to join us for lunch on the ship, and she thanked us, but said that while we would be sailing for 2 hours to reach Rovinj, she would hop on the fast road and be there in 30 minutes.

Two hours later....we arrived in Rovinj and Nada was there to meet us.  The look of the town was very different from Pula:

Rovinj was originally an island port built by the Romans.  In 1763, Rovinj was joined to the coast by filling in the channel dividing the island from the mainland, creating a peninsula.  In the square in front of the pier is Balbi's Arch (an ancient city gate), dating from 1680, and a late-Renaissance clock tower:

One last peek up one last Croatian sidestreet and we were on our way back to the ship.  Goodbye to Nada and goodbye to Croatia.  We set sail for Venice and we would be traveling home the next day.  More thoughts on that in another post.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

day eight - hvar, croatia

We sailed to the lovely island of Hvar overnight.  After anchoring offshore, we took the tender to the pier in the morning, and again met our guide, Maria, on the island where she was born.  Maria had been with us in Sibenik and Split (where she lives now), and then she took the ferry to Hvar to stay with family overnight before meeting us at the pier.  A lovely woman, Maria is obviously a favorite of the Tauck Tour Directors.

As we walked along the pier to the central square,

we learned that Hvar residents work mostly in the fishing and tourism  industries.  It is also a big draw for the rich and famous as a vacation spot, and even Prince Harry was on Hvar this past summer.  The island's natural beauty, good beaches and mild climate consistently place it on the Conde Nast Traveler magazine's list of top 10 islands.  We were entranced right from the beginning.

At the far end of the square is the Cathedral of Saint Stephan (Katedrala Sv. Sjepana), which has a trefoil pediment and a 17th-century bell tower standing to one side:

After a walk up and down the streets of the small town (where I spotted an interesting looking jewelry shop), we walked through the market on the way to our bus.  Maria, seen kneeling here, explained which local herbs were the best, and told us that lavender, which was introduced in the 1930's, used to be the island's main crop, until a large wildfire a few years ago diminished the annual harvest:

Our bus ride took us to the Spanjola Fortress, a 16th century fort, which for centuries protected the city from  invaders. The views from  the fortress were breathtaking:

and we looked down into the harbour with L'Austral anchored to the rigiht:

Then we departed for the old town of Stari Grad, originally called Pharos and founded by the Syracusans in the 4th century.  This was Maria's hometown, and when one of our fellow travelers told her his daughter-in-law's family was originally from Stari Grad, he learned that Maria's grandmother's maiden name was the same as the daughter-in-law's family name; she and Maria were probably distant cousins.  How small is this world?

We visited the Dominican Monastery, founded in 1482, which had been rebuilt and fortified after destruction by the Turks:

Walking further into town, we saw this lovely gated entrance to an old house:

and determined that the heavenly aromas wafting from this store meant it was not a chiropractic office:

We looked up the old streets, with their shiny, worn cobblestones:

and had some Hvar gelato (good, but that first taste in Venice still takes first place) and then got our picture snapped at the harbour:

Next, we were back on the bus, riding up into the hills of wine country.  The climate and soil of Croatia makes it prime territory for growing grapes and some of their vintages are known throughout the world.  However, you need to taste them in Croatia, because they are not exported at this point.

We were taken to the Konoba Vrisnik (Vrisnik Tavern), located in the very small town of Vrisnik.  This was the tasting area of the winery and the owner of the winery was there to greet us.  Those who tasted said the wines were excellent.  I was more about the gorgeous surroundings:

Throughout this trip, I took pictures of windows.  Each was so different from the next, and each made its own statement.  That's a subject for another blog post (with images of the windows), but here's one of my favorites, from this konoba:

We returned to Hvar and said goodbye to Maria, a really excellent guide who loved to call us "my dearest ladies and gentlemen."  But I wasn't finished with Hvar yet.  I needed to find that jewelry store.  We walked up one side street and found a jewelry shop, but it wasn't the right one.  Then I remembered better where I had seen it and on the second try, we found it.  I must have tried on 10 different necklaces - the clerk was quite the saleswoman and kept putting them on me and changing them out. I finally decided on this one, made in Hvar of fired ceramic sea creatures.  I'll always remember finding it on a special island in the Adriatic and will enjoy wearing it on our favorite island in Florida: