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The Scrimshaw on a newly woven basket.

A rare and wonderful tour was awarded to me to visit and chat with Susan Chase Ottison and husband Karl Ottison, at their Nantucket home and studio on a warmer than usual summer day on the island.  The  ground floor of the Head of the Harbor structure catches the cooler temperature breeze of the Nantucket Bay, and is a relief from the frenzied crowds in the lovely, but hurried town.  The studio gives a first impression of an 17th Century craftsman’s workshop of ancient tools and works.  Yet, a systematic tour by Susan organizes her space and process to hand weave and complete magnificent collections of Nantucket Lightship Baskets.  Known as the eminent expert on this talent, she is commissioned to custom design baskets and rehabilitate those of other master weavers.  The mid-day light filters through the studio window panes to reveal dozens of scrimshaw motifs ready to be mounted on future baskets. 

Last of an Artistic Talent

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As a discussion on the future of the “On Island” specialty of highest quality craftsmanship is a concern to the best of the weavers, Susan reports to consider that she is slowing down her trade.  Craft shops on Nantucket may offer these goods, as many are of high quality and affordable at these times.  There are baskets that are imported from Asia and have very poor value and craftsmanship.  Susan is remarkable is her talents and newer students on Nantucket may hope to continue to learn from these masters. And, she relates on her business card:    The old saying goes, I was made in Nantucket, I’m strong and I’m stout.  Don’t burn me or lose me, and I’ll never wear out.  

 

Where Is My Back Yard?

 

Where Is My Back Yard?

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Island Travelers Unite and Show that Imbedded Skill

Look here for that Location/Architectural Marvel/Panoramic View

THAT YOU KNOW SO WELL

IDENIFY IT

Where is my Back Yard?
Where is my Back Yard?

 

Architectural Marvel? This structure may compete with many

of the most visible, most photographed, and treasured edifices in its

category, world-wide. Where is my Back Yard?  Enter in Comments.

You guessed It?  Paraportiani Church, Mykonos, Greece

Take some fine old recipes and keep the folks coming is the theme. 

Recent days in a favorite US city, Charleston, South Carolina, brings back southern roots, when it comes to food.  My attempt to get the juices running for the dinner hour started on King Street, while perusing the posted menus on the soon to be opened Historical District restaurants.  The choices amaze me.  Yet, with my heart set for home-style cooking, it guided me to Virginia’s Restaurant for the evening supper hour.  Shrimp ‘n Grits,  Fried Chicken, Whole fish, and all the fixins’ make the space smell so good. It is the industrial brick-walled, art adorned, subtle lighting with smooth tunes in the background that draw the diner into the moment. The “help” know their job and do it smoothly with knowledge of all.  Tables are not on top of each other and the pace is thoughtful on the needs of all.

Did you know that Virginia is real? That’s right.  She ran the restaurant and gave her recipes to now be protected by the chefs.  Her eyes look down over the diners from the gilded framed oil painting of her serving dinner to her guests. Sadly, we lost her years back, but Virginia’s lives on. Micro beers and wines mellow out a fine dinner here.  Did I mention: Shrimp ‘n Grits?  http://www.virginiasonking.com  843-735-5800.

Yes, Elvis Lives

IMG_4631The seven miles of sugar white sand beach catches the gin clear six inch waves from the Western Jamaica sea daily.  Walking the waterline is an interesting pleasure because visitors will make at least fifty new friends on their hike.  The stretch from the remains of the salt petrified tree in front of Barry’s Bar on Negril Beach runs north easterly toward the boundary line of Couple Swept Away Resort Dive Shop, provide the finest tranquil swimming beach and the resort’s water sports areas.  Foot traffic from other resorts make up most of the pedestrian movement.

SHUT UP and FLY

IMG_4599Jamaica, W.I. in the Western Caribbean sea, just below Cuba, offers the best weather to provide great water sports. Trade winds blow off the Great Morass and down from the mountains to the beaches and cliffs of Negril, Jamaica. The earliest visitors from tourism found this area perfect for sailing , diving, snorkeling, fishing and swimming.  Today the beaches support an infrastructure of all the toys for a fine vacation.  The exception to the formula is no jet-ski watercraft are currently allowed by Parish Local Law.  No Problem, Mon, and peaceful on the ears, too! Longtime friend and Negril resident, ELVIS, works the area near Couples Swept Away.  His day starts early, just as the beach boys are raking the sand and arranging the chaise beach chairs.  By 10:00 AM the chairs are filled and the beach vendors have begun their quest with handmade jewelry, Aloe Vera plant  massages, straw hats, Bob Marley pendants, Coconut sculptures and every know island sales pitch of compelling style. These folk work hard. ELVIS stands in the middle of all with one goal: ” What can I get for YOU?”

IMG_4603ELVIS knows his customer will return again and again.  With his broad smile and likable tone, wit and energy, he walks the several hundred meters of beach with his chant: Parasailing!  The operation is seamless for this mission to get the people to the water’s edge, on the skiff out to the big fast boat and harnessed up and in the air. All day long the beauty of the Parachutes floating over the water just outside of the swim buoy lines attract more customers.  But ELVIS works on.  Negril, Jamaica lives on and the finer resorts, as mentioned, keep the tourist coming back year after year. ELVIS Lives.

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033 When does a busy Street Corner Diner make the grade? Since 1989, this Athens, Greece taverna, called EVGENIA. after the owner is a not so hidden of a gem, but, that few tourist would know about. The Nicodemou Street of the Plaka/ Constitution Plaza area is narrow and tremendously packed with taxis and delivery trucks, Yes, exhaust and noise is everywhere. The little Greek taverna tables and chairs are on the pedestrian sidewalk; ten in all. Why go to lunch or an early dinner here? The business folks, in suits, and the retail workers understand. The Small fried fish, called Atherina, or minnows, is the reason. There are traditional dishes made freshly each morning, like lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and moussaka. The tables get packed. The fried fish come out in a basket and are eaten like french fries, head and all, and very crunchy and good. An Alfa Greek beer helps the lunch thirst. Some diners linger, and others chow and bolt back to work. The traffic keeps up the tempo. Find the taverna on this street and one block north of the Electra Palace Hotel. Be willing to wait a few minutes for your table. Thanks to Kathy Gasparis, years back, for this great dining location tip.

DSC_6269There is something about the tropics that has always kept me happy.  It starts with the flora.  Aside from the senses getting ramped up from the colors, the scents, and the attractions of the many species that need these plants for home, food, and a safe haven for life, I especially love the sounds of the tropical plant leaves that rustle in those balmy breezes. Coco Palms in the moon-light do that job for me.  So my relocation to these tropics and the ensuing pleasure of photographing the dozens of different flowering plants in my spring bloom steps away is my mission.  Perhaps, the Bird of Paradise, shown above, outside my door, will keep my Cannon clicking.  Here are a few more flowers.

Greece2015 MykonosThe Word Is: Cash is King! Discounts prevail, pensions and small hotels give most value; bus it to the beach; eat gyros and souvlaki and an Alpha Beer daily.

Euros and major credit cards are no problem for the savvy traveler in 99% of the venues.  Lock your Cash in a sealed envelope in the Hotel room safe or the Hotel front office safe with any good jewelry. Take only what you need for the daily missions.  Keep only one credit card on your body.  Inform your card company bank that you wish to be informed of any purchase over $XXX.xx dollars via text.

Greece2010 125Most of the restaurants on the Greek major tourist islands bring the Card Billing Machine to your table for you to swipe your card.  Use the visible ATM machines in the front of the local bank windows.  Avoid the ATM in Gas Stations or Beach Bars.

http://www.pensionhotel.co.uk/

Greece2015$100 to $200 per day will get you  a room in a pension, perhaps with a continental breakfast for two people. These prices are quite normal.  The room will be in a smaller building with close proximity to the harbor, bus stations, restaurants and the port of Mykonos. Expect twin beds that might be a tad firm.

Here is the news on the ground: there are definite rip-off. Example this: Paranga Beach, on the north side of Mykonos Island is  a great sandy cove beach with a small traverna.  The beach vendor maintains the beach and offers Chaise Lounge Bed (2) and one umbrella at the sea edge. The ripoff price is 120 Euros.  What?  These should be no more that 5 Euros each  or 25 Euros max!  I would expect a full body massage at those inflated prices.

Greece2010 193A cocktail at the Little Venice area in Mykonos Town, a trendy nightlife spot, will set you back $20.00. Note, the tip is included, thank goodness.  Shopping will be a task in the evening well-lit narrow white cobblestone streets of Mykonos. Look for up to 20% cash buyer discounts on jewelry and clothing.

The Mykonos traveler will find that they are in an insulated world from the confusion and news of the day.  Make the most of it and like Zorba, ” live for the day”!  Opa.