Thursday, April 30, 2009

Potty Talk



I don't think it is fair that you can take a car for a test ride, you can lay on the mattress before ou buy it, you can buy computer equipment and return it w/in two weeks if you don't like it at Staples, and you can sit on sofas before you buy them, but when it comes to toilets - well that is another story, at least in MY city. (at Home Depot and Lowes...)

When I went shopping for my new toilet not too long ago, I was hoping that the models were close to the ground so that --- you know--- I could sit on them, look at them closely. If I remember correctly, they used to be on the ground. But when I went to shop for one, they were about 12 or more feet up on a display, making it very difficult to even see them.

Larry said that this was because once someone took a dump inside of one, and that ended toilets on the floor. Heck, just because a drunk on a plane took a dump on a serving cart, did the airlines take off carts or stop serving drinks? NO.

So I have this toilet, which I really like for the most part. It looks decent, it can "flush a bucket of golf balls" if I ever need to do that, has a 10 year warantee, is an American Standard and only uses 1.6 gallons of water. I am still not used to the seat, it is much longer and narrower than my lovely 80 year old one, and when if flushes, a word of caution- stand back Jack. I would not sit while you flush it. Today I had a little splash back on the seat after I flushed, and was totally freaked out by it. Like the blob coming to get me. Oh, but it's mighty flushing power keeps it really clean I have to say..amazingly clean. No streaks survive it's superpowers and I like that.It also flushes fast, and fills up fast, which means I can flush before I take a shower and not have to wait 1/2 hour...

My old toilet, though r e a l l y comfy, was a 6 gallon flusher. Not eocologically nor economically feasible since I pay for water and sewer. And, it couldn't flush a golf ball if you helped it along. Hell, sometimes it couldn't even flush toilet paper. And dirty? I was ALWAYS cleaning the bowl.PLUS it had a demon and would sometimes run while I was in the shower, scalding me. No matter how many times we fixed it, it still did it.

I still have another old one in my downstairs bathroom. That too is a 6 gallon flusher, and can't flush for shit (no pun intended) and gets dirty in a heartbeat, but it doesn't get used that often. That too will eventually get replaced, but that will be after I put up the 5' privacy fence to keep out the dog feces (I wonder if the new toilet will flush a black lab and it's owner and four kids?)

Off to take potty photos...blog would not be complete w/out them!

Patti O Flusher

(top photo the old one taken in really cramped quarters, bottom one the new one, bathroom not quite done..)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ramp Soup


I have been having too much fun. With the warmth and light of spring, I am a different person.I glow. I am adventurous. I want to sing and dance and play.

Tonight after some chores I limed the beds of the garden, turned them over, raked them out, and then had an ad lib party with friends. I had a few bottles of wine---including the last bottle that I hauled back from Madrid.

In the midst of sipping wine and conversations that were mainly about the female reproductive system (I am now horrified about my visit to the doc for the "procedure" on Monday) I made ramp soup.

Ramps are like leaks, save for they grow wild and can only be found in mid spring. They usually proceed morel season, and I love celebrating spring by cooking with both morels and ramps.

Leah gave me a bunch of ramps in school today, with a promise from me that I would save her some soup. I fed my guests the soup (that was all they got for an ad lib dinner) and saved enough for her in school tomorrow.

I have not been making art, which promotes some guilt. But I know that once I get the plants and seeds established, there will be many days of clouds and rain which will force me into the studio to paint. After a long grey winter, I crave the warmth of the sun.

Patti O Soleil

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Being Great


A friend of mine posted a query on Facebook this morning on being great, and questioned as to whether location had any influence on his quest.

I thought about it for a bit over coffee, feeling a bit rushed by the need to shower AND wash my hair today, a bit greasy from a few days of hot temps, even here in the Hudson Valley. (one of the wonderful things about being over 50 is that I don't have oil wells in my scalp or perched on my face anymore...which equates to less hair washing and fewer pimples..)

I quickly responded that we can be great anywhere. Greatness has no geographic regions or boundaries, that just being thinking, living beings on this earth in and of itself makes us great.

Sure I joke about being over 50, or having a little belly, and a road map of veins on my legs, but I love and appreciate every moment I have on this earth, bearing witness to the greening of the leaves of another season, having eyes to see it, a nose to smell it, a car to drive through the mountains to watch the sun rise and set.

Be GREATFUL for you are alive and healthy.
Be GREATFUL for living where you do.
Be GREATFUL in that you are a free thinker and have fingers to type your query.

Love thyself for what you are. In that you are great.

(spell check is not liking my mis-spelling of GREATFUL- oh well, chew on it spellcheck)

I am grateful for the car that took me to the lovely town of Catskill late this afternoon for a dinner at the Thai restaurant. It was 90+ on the way up and 73 on the way back. Annie and I threw our hands up in the air (top down of course) rejoicing in the beauty of the clouds, and the majesty of the mountains. It made everything that we had complained about good once again.

Dear friend, if you ever question your own greatness, come take a ride to the Catskills, read a book on mindfulness, say a prayer of any kind by a mountain stream. Love thyself. And know in the eyes of the universe/god/GOD/Buddha/nada, you are already great.

Patti O Preacher

Monday, April 27, 2009

Laugh and the World Laughs with You...or to Err is Human



I had a splendid day. Hormones even keel. I did not have to teach as I spent the day with teens in a conference center on the top of a hill overlooking mountains discussing how they can be a force for change in the world. I look forward to going to the UN with them in June. I have never been there myself, and am as excited as they are.

I joked about how I was the only adult sitting with them eating lunch. The other teachers and adults were in the kitchen, but I have to say, I was much more comfortable with the kids. Their energy is so vibrant, and I love watching them interact, even as one on the sidelines. I told one of my students that I did that so that I cold suck out their youth , like something from a Stephen King novel (thinking of Insomnia) where I saw their little youth/energy balloons rise above them on little strings, and tapped into them. On some level I think they do keep me young.

Afterwards I met a friend and we went for a ride into Rhinebeck and ate a light dinner at Terrapin. We talked about so much, but had a good laugh about the foolishness of man, and I related a few silly recent stories....which I will share here for a laugh.

Like how last week I went into the bathroom and let out a big groan as I was dismayed by the big black spot on my underwear. The faculty was eating lunch only a few feet from the door and wondered what was wrong, only to hear me burst out in laughter as I discovered the foreign body which had been quickly labeled as another anomaly of my body was a mere piece of black lint from the laundry. Or how Saturday I had on jeans, and was extremely hot in the car, and got out to do one of my 10,000 chores and as I got out of the car discovered my pants were all wet and sweaty. Real attractive. As I got back into the car and cursed out the black upholstery made hot by the sun, I realized that I had the car seat heater still on though it was 90 degrees and had made myself a really hot seat.

'Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone' Late 19th century poet-Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Heard it in high school, never forgot it, and try and live by it.

So I laugh.

After dinner I took a ride over to Bard to see the community gardens, the more formal gardens over looking the river, and to see the Fisher Center, designed by the architect Frank Geary.

I have a fantasy of getting my MFA at Bard someday. But I can't afford it, and if I put 10,000 hours of painting in, it may be as good as that MFA. And cheaper.

off to bed....

Patti O Dreamer

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Daffodil for You

Larry loaned me a Canon EOS from the Center the other day so that I could take some pictures of the Peter Sis workshop at the Woodstock Arts Asso./Museum. I forgot my camera, and he walked one over for me.

The camera is amazing, more than I can handle, but man, I could get easily spoiled. It is a heavy camera, but has a Macro lens, all kinds of bells and whistles, and took much better pics than my Powershot. But it is also 1,000.00 more, so I will stick to my simple little camera that has been very good to me and takes great shots for what it is.

Spring has been keeping me busy, and I don't like much typing on this laptop so I haven't been writing much. I have to get it together soon to buy the I-Mac from my friend, which then also means I am going to have to figure out how to hustle some money to pay off the loan I am going to have to give the business in order to buy it.

My bathroom is still being worked on, but the toilet and sink are in. I love my new toilet, which is a little scary as sometimes as the water has a pretty violent whoosh before it sweeps everything away. If it came any higher it might double as a bidet. My old one used 6+ gallons to flush compared to this, and took its time and did not flush very well at all. This one seems to be a self cleaner, compared to my old one which seemed to always be in need of a swish of the brush. I hope in a few weeks that all will be done, and I will have new pics to show you. So much was done that there are lots of little odds and ends that have to be done before it is officially Home and Garden material. Toilet, btw, courtesy of American Standard, about 270.00 with a 10 year warantee..and it guarantees to flush a bucket of golf balls. Can't wait to try that trick.

And update on the next door dog/neighbor story. I have emailed the landlord who used to be our neighbor and gave him the run down. I should have done this long ago as no one else has called him and he had no clue of the craziness that is going on. (I have only told you the dog stories..there is more...) Maybe a call from the landlord will hold more weight than my complaining, though the last time I think I blew off some of her hair.

Off to bed. A field trip tomorrow to the Lifebridge Foundation, and it promises to be another good day I think!

Patti O Pouter

Why No Posts




The past few days have been very busy. An art workshop in Woodstock based upon the incredible work by illustrator/writer Peter Sims. Then immediately following that, a long afternoon of making raised beds for my gardening by my dear friends Ruben and Jesus.

Today was a beautiful day. Temps in the 80's. Larry was working so I was flying solo, but I did all of my chores with joy as I could put the top down and do them while riding under the sun. I came home to do some garden work, and Tom, another one of my fabulous male friends, graciously picked up 2 square yards of compost for me to put into my empty beds, and with his help and his son Nat, we filled those babies up!

It felt wonderful--the sun, the shovel, the weeding.

Then there was the party hosted by my friend Karin, introducing us to new people - all of whom were cool and interesting!

I feel a bit more even keel, though I was having some nasty hot flashes, and Karin's husband bought me a washcloth with ice. I did not realize they were German washcloths, which are more like hand mitts, which hold ice really well. I think that it is a great product for marketing a "cool down" for us peri-menopausal women.

Off to bed, a bit hot with hormones, sunburn, and the joy of spring.

May you all be hot too. Lol.

Patti O Hottie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ignore that woman behind the curtain

I got up this morning with cramps and in a terrible state. I decided that since it was Parent Teacher Conference day from 11 on, and I hardly had anyone scheduled, that I was going to give myself a gift and go home by noon.

I did exactly that, and had full intentions to work on the studio, but instead I had a challenging morning and came home and went to bed for three hours. I am a bit concerned as I have had to come home and go to bed for the past three days. It is not something I usually do. As usual, I blame it on my hormones, and that they are making me depressed and tired. I don't like to think about the other options- that there is something physically wrong with me.

I can get myself quite upset about my health....the lump in my hand. Something wrong with my uterus (which there is..). My ankle is hurting a lot...perhaps one of the 12 screws holding it together is backing out. And then there are my allergies. And my stomach. Oh it can get so overwhelming....and I am usually so energetic and positive that I get concerned when I feel otherwise.

Annie picked my up tonight and we headed out for 1/2 price margarita night at our fave venue. Afterwards we headed to...uh, one of our left of center stores and while at the cashier I nonchalantly say "do you know where I steal batteries from"? and she says..."school?". At that point I break into laughter, and the cashier is cracking up to the point where I think he is going to pee his pants. "NO" I retort, snorting out my nose, "from my TV or DVD remote" and we fly out the store hysterical.

Nothing like a good snort and belly laugh.

One of the favorite things about my relationship with Larry is that we laugh a lot in bed. We tell each other the silly things that go on in our day, make up ridiculous jokes, and lay in bed and laugh hysterically, to the point that were are useless for anything else. To be honest, I can't think of a better way to end a long day. As the old Reader's Digest magazine says..."laughter is the best medicine".

Off to sleep....

Patti O Laughter

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interesting Article..........

For those of you who may be interested, read this article by NPR on All Things Considered, about an imaginary world where pot was legalized. I found it quite interesting.

I plead the 5th.

Off to bed. I have not been well, but anticipate that I am on the road to recovery in all ways. Till the next round that is.

Patti O Plant (NOT)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Read the Label and do your HOMEWORK


I searched in vain for the old commerical where the wife says "read the label Leonard, read the label". I can't remember what it was for, probably a late 60's to 70's commercial. Any input is much appreciated as that was a lot of brain cells ago.

After my MOGO workshop with Zoe Weil, I am more aware of what I spend my money on. Do I want it or need it? If I buy it, how does it benefit the world. If I buy it, what negative impacts does it have on the world- environmentally, on people, animals, on human rights?

We often don't have time to do this research while shopping, though we do know that products made in China for instance, are not wise choices, as is shopping at stores such as Walmart.

I had to buy more makeup as my mascara is almost done for, which I had received as a birthday gift from my friend Karen. It was from the BODY SHOP. I went online and did a bit of research, and discovered as far as being "green" these were in the top 50, actually, in the top 10 companies on being green:
  • Clif Bar
  • Seventh Generation
  • Stonyfield Farm
  • Eden Foods
Then I went online to find the top 100 sustainable companies in the world. Wait, NIKE is on there, but aren't they a company that violates human rights by using prison labor and woman/children from countries that way underpay them? Coca Cola was on there also, but they also use water in foreign counties in their plants, and that water consumption is causing water shortages for the farmers in such countries!

What do you believe, how do you research all of this? It takes a smart consumer and a good amount of research to dig through the propaganda, and though a country may be good in some ways, they may be miserably failing in others.

I also found of list of 30 companies for fair trade shopping, The Body Shop amongst them.

So I think I can sleep tonight knowing I made the best choice I possibly can. I probably should have just gone to the car to get Zoe's book that had a list of websites for such research, but then again, I just proved to myself how much one has to dig and research on the net to get accurate information.

Off to bed, the cramps are bad. At least the hormones will settle down in the next few days. It just really sucks to have had such a horrible week.

Patti O Researcher

Monday, April 20, 2009

Self Portrait


I have spent most of the evening going through my Etsy and Ebay stuff, listing a few things, and trying to figure out how to make some money to pay my business bills. For the first time in 6 years, I have NO money in my account, just had the propane tank for the studio refilled, and need money for frames, a booth fee etc.

I am not freaking-yet.

But I am starting to list things to get a few bucks here and there which will hopefully add up to pay a bill or two.

Tonight's image is from a mixed media collage I did titled Water Witch. I was going to show her when as I was putting the finishing touches on the frame, I cracked it, making it garbage, and relegating her to the pile of unframed art. She is for sale for a mere 25.00....for anyone who will give her a loving home. You can get her through Etsy or though me. Made with hand made paste paper, antique marbled paper, hand water colored antique fish prints, and a vintage image of a character in a Greek Play from the 50's.

Yeah, she looks like me a bit these days. Still suffering from too much/too little estrogen, and I am in agony from it. I can feel it screaming through my body, if not my mouth, though today I tried to keep the little devil under wraps.

Off to write my art blog. It has been a while since I posted there.....it has been a while since I have made art. But I am OK with a break. I can't create when my house is Topsy turvey, and work has sucked me dry. I will take a weekend soon where I devote it to painting as I have so many images stored in this crazy brain of mine that need to break out.

Patti O Witch....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ignition


It has been a long day, but a fruitful one.

I did not want to go to a class today from 9:30-6:00 pm, but I knew it would be worthwhile and life altering. I had to sit for nearly nine hours, and keep a lid on the hormones. I was sitting in a room full of strangers, learning how to live my life "with the most good and least harm". A hormonal outburst might have given strangers a reason to cart me away, so I behaved for the most part in spite of a headache and cramps, a sign of things yet to come.

I attended the MOGO workshop by Zoe Weil, an impassioned advocate, educator, and founder of the school on Humane Education. Rather than post her doctrine here, I will post her website. http://zoeweil.com/

I have been trying to live my life in a mindful and ecological manner. I no longer buy wrapping paper for gifts. I try to cut down on the paper I use in my life, and I just installed a water saving toilet. I don't run water when I brush my teeth, I don't flush unless the water is a deeper color than lemon yellow. I recycle bags, have canvas bags for my groceries, and I try to buy local when possible. I bring broken electronics to a recycle center, recycle my ink cartridges, don't fertilize my lawn or garden with chemicals, yada yada yada.

After today, I have discovered that I have much more to learn about purchasing every day items and some of my food in a socially and environmentally conscious way, and that by doing this in my house is not enough - I must pass on the message.

Zoe was dynamic, captivating, entertaining, and passionate. The other people in the class ranged from teenagers and young people who were WAY ahead of me in their journey, to mothers/grandmothers who wanted to change their ways to make the world a better place for their offspring.

I have chosen some goals, one of which is to educate people, and have made a commitment to take a day a week to post information and ways that we can be mindful of human and animal rights, as well as protect our natural resources and save the environment. I will do this along with input from my readers whose collective knowledge and suggestions are needed.

I will choose Mondays for this, and ask reader's over the weekend to send me any ideas/information they have on a particular subject which I announce. I will provide my email in case you can't leave comments here because you aren't registered or don't want to register.

Oh, and the seminar was at Bard College, whose president is genius Renaissance man Leon Botstein, conductor and founder of the American Symphony Orchestra, the Fisher Center concert hall designed by architect Frank Geary, and in the summer the amazing Spiegeltent. As I left I heard strains of the choral group practicing in the campus chapel, and I stopped for a while to catch the haunting strains of music float over the lawns.

On the way home I stopped by Poet's Walk, intending to hike down to the river, but it was getting late and Larry was making dinner. I had hoped to get some photographs, but had to settle for shooting out the window of the car.

Off to bed, it has been a long day and I need my rest.

Ciao gentle readers,

Patti O Ignition

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Generally I am a nice woman. A little zany, but fair, friendly, honest, kind, and wanting to be a good person. Then the hormones kick in or out (I am not sure which it is) and the switch gets thrown. Purring sweet kitten morphs to mama lion, ready to tear your face off if you cross her path. (it can happen to inanimate objects too).

I sense that men don't understand this unless they are schizophrenic, psychotic or have a mood disorder. They have NO CLUE what it is like to live in a body of raging bull hormones. In fact, I wish that EVERY man could feel a serious change in their estrogen levels, but I am afraid that there would be murders, even more wars started and massive episodes of road rage and cave man-like behaviors. Perhaps nature knew to give such hormonal spikes to women, for if they were given to men, the race would have ended in one generation.

For several days now, the wiring has been cut somewhere deep within the pathways of my neurotransmitters. Signals cross, patience is a word that does not exist in the P.A. Gibbons dictionary.

This morning I scared Larry, the G-team (my contractor friend Tom and his son), the lady in the bank, the lady in Stewarts, and the guys at the Subaru dealership. Karen could handle me, and besides, she understood.

I don't like being like this. I don't like terrorizing the world. I prefer to lock myself up for several days, but since I have to work and carry on with my normal life as if I were a normal person, there are bound to be episodes. The best thing is to stay away, and let me growl.

I am having more tests done, and probably more biopsies as the doctors can't figure out yet why I am having such a hard time and having such rapid episodes. . I can no longer take this every 14-21 days, and it is very hard to function on any level. I am ready to take any hormonal replacement they have to offer, but the first round they gave me has not worked. Whispers of hysterectomy have been in the wings...but I am not jumping the gun yet.

In the meantime, hang on for the ride baby...cause it's sure a wild one. For a few hours you are all safe..for the lion sleeps tonight-I hope.

Patti O Animal

Friday, April 17, 2009

Diggin the Day


I started off today in a very rough manner. Let's just say, I feel like I could be a female black widow.

Though I work with such difficult kids who suck the energy out of me on a good day, they give me energy on a bad one. For such troubled kids, they manage to dig deeply withing themselves and give empathy and kindness when I need it most. For that I am most grateful.

I was lucky to have been able to take a small group of students out to a site along side the Hudson River to paint, not far from a spot that I took a haunting series of ice photographs when I was traveling to see my daughter during her chemo. The science teacher has a relative whose house sits up on a hill, not far from the river, and whose land is laden with Native American artifacts.

The students have been doing an archaeological dig, finding arrowheads, flints, knives, and fire cracked rock. It has been exciting for them, and I took a small group to paint along side of the dig.

Six students joined me in painting the river in watercolors. I forgot to bring my painting home, but instead used the watercolor filter in Photoshop to give you a digital painting until I get my painting from school.

It was in the 60's, the sun shone bright, and the sun soothed the lion in me while painting my cheeks a light rose. Though I am still not in the best of places in my head and in my heart, I am grateful for the beauty of the day and the quality time spent with my students.

Patti O Painter

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bathroom Obsession




Here are some photos of my bathroom under construction. I figured since I talk about it so much, I should put up some before and then after photos.

When I bought this house in 1991 the bathroom was hideous. I seem to remember lime green wallboard and some other color wall above it. The large claw foot tub was fabulous, except for the fact that they had cut the feet off, perhaps to get it into the bathroom?

I boxed in the tub with wainscoting, and topped it with dark green tiles, and put golden oak stained wainscoting around the entire bathroom. At that time I had wallpapered the walls above the wood with a lovely dark green patterned paper, but in retrospect I think it looked like Persian designed boxer shorts. Still it was cozy and much more attractive.

Several years ago we pulled off the paper as it was peeling from the unvented moisture, and painted the room a lovely melon, with dark green trimmed woodwork. I had a wood medicine cabinet made, and installed new lights. It was better than it had ever been.

Over the years some of the wainscoting around the tub rotted from moisture..should have tiled behind it the first time, but a lesson learned too late. (that has been done as seen here) Then there were water problems that HAD to be fixed as they have only become worse as time went on, and Larry's perfect paint job started bubbling up from the moisture, so I took the plunge (no pun intended) and asked my friend Tom to remodel it again.

Away with the temperamental monster toilet that used 6 gallons to flush it and ran when it felt like, (a bitch to run after it too) often scalding me in the shower. To fix the pipes, Tom removed the little hexogonal tiles, and discovered the pipes were under a 4" poured slab of cement which had to be removed before he could do anything. To put in a fan meant we had to put in a dedicated electric line, meaning knocking into the wall... The pipes had to all be replaced as they were plugged with 80 years of deposits and there were complications such as leaks and other things.

As of this writing, there is no toilet, the pedestal sink (which I am keeping-it is royal) is out, and the floor is being installed. I have chosen the same tiny hexagonal tiles, which are a pain in the butt to lay down. The shower will get a new faucet and curtain ring, which is currently held together by duct tape. There is plaster and cement dust all over the house, I feel crazed with the construction, but know it is going to be beautiful when it is done.

A few words of wisdom; don't use wood in an area that might get splashed with water, if you can, have a fan installed to save your paint and wallpaper jobs, and SEAL your grout. I heard a few disgusting stories about what urine and other substances can do to grout.......(not that I have that issue, but it CAN happen!).

Off to bed, I have obsessed about this bathroom thing far too long. I will dream of a beautiful bathroom and clean house. I have learned I am not the type of gal who likes major remodeling and will NEVER buy a fixer-upper hahaha.

patti o potty

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Tipping



Typically I am a good tipper. If you have worked hard, done a good job, and provided me with a service I like, I will tip 20%.

I figure that it is best to be generous, I do it willingly, and perhaps this is selfish, but I hope that it puts good karma into the world and promotes abundance in some small way for me .But even if it didn't, I would tip well.

I even tip when I go to the tanning salon. (I go a few times before a vacation so that I don't fry to a crisp in places with strong sun). I leave a dollar on the bed as I know the girls in the health club are probably not getting paid big bucks to keep the rooms squeaky clean.

Then there was Spain. Dana, as well as others, told me that one does not tip in Spain, and if you do, it is very little. Out of the few discomforts I had on the trip (like not being able to speak the language) that was the most awkward for me to accept.

I tipped everywhere. When I gave the girl at the train station in Atoche a Euro for a few glasses of wine and asked for clean glasses as we wanted new ones, she was grateful and surprised. So what if I looked like a gringa for doing it. She must have a family at home to feed, otherwise she would not be working.

I left money where ever I went. Ah, the rich foolish American Gringa they must have thought.
But I did not care....

Then there is the story about the ride to the airport. I had very little change, so I gave the airport guy 5 Euros. Nice tip, real nice. He had a funny grin on his face as we walked into the terminal.

Problem was, he dropped us off at the wrong terminal...and no wonder he grinned. Nice tip for a shitty job. It was one of the few times that I mumbled as I lugged 50+ pounds of luggage through what seemed miles of airport in Madrid. Annie just laughed at me and I had to chuckle too.

I did some research AFTER I got home. Waiters and such are paid very good salaries and even get benefits, unlike here in America, so they don't expect tips. Sometimes if they do get them, it gets thrown into the cash register and the owner gets them, and some of them get a good laugh about the stupid Americans.

So the moral of the story is, do your research about such things BEFORE you go, or else, like me, don't give a hoot and be glad that you got to spread a bit of the wealth around. But next time, I will be a bit wiser and more educated about the culture before I experience it!

Patti O Trip Advisor
Photos: Overhead train photo that I caught with the top down on the car while driving home from work today, and the train between Valencia and Madrid.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Very Bad Combo


What do you get when you cross jet lag with PMS and a day of very cranky kids? One hell of a pissy-assed scorpio woman. (fyi--spell check wanted to change pissy to pussy...almost fell off my chair).

I was so mellow when I returned to work today. Smiling, inspired, rested. I thought that the kids would be tired from partying for 10 days. I know I was. But no, they were wild, irascible monsters and retirement, selling everything, and going on the road was looking very appealing.

I came home, planning to take a nap. On the way home I realized that Tom was going to be there working on the bathroom. My bedroom is one door away, and I knew I would get no sleep. So I took a sheet out from the closet to cover the cat hair couch and did my best to close my eyes and dream of paella, strong coffee, and cathedrals in between strange noises coming from the bathroom. (construction noises that is)

After dinner I started ripping apart my old computer system in order to lay it to rest and install a new one when I get it. I run a lot of equipment off my computer, and was disgusted with the rats nest of wires to printers, scanners, modems, routers, speakers, more speakers, draw pad and more. How DOES one keep it neat?! I am taking the big step away from PCs and buying a friends I Mac. I have learned to fix PCs fairly well, and can only help that with the help of friends, I will be able to do the same to the Mac.

In the meantime I have connected my laptop to my scanner/printer as I cannot WAIT to print up some photos from the trip.

I have much to tell, but too tired to think, so I will leave you with an image to think about next time you eat calamari!

patti o crank

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back in the States



I was excited to go back home, yet wished I had another week in Spain. A week where I could sit for hours in a Cafe, sketching, writing, thinking. Don't get me wrong, I had a BLAST with my friends, but I also would have liked to have had solitary time doing my art and another week there being on my own part of the day and meeting up with friends for dinner. Not everyone wants to sit for two hours and meditate on a ruin or landscape, lol, though I bet I could get Dana to do that with me :)

I was glad that I was traveling with Annie as it made it so much fun to have someone to go and share the experience with. We traveled well together, and Dana and Daniel were great hosts and this has given our friendship an even more exotic spin.

The trip helped me lose some of my travel fears. Thought it is hard to be in a country where you don't speak the language, and they don't speak much English, my questions eventually got answered by someone somewhere. As a fiercely independent woman, it was very odd to be reliant on others for communication in ordering food, getting directions, asking questions, etc.
What a good life lesson for me, to have to give up control over so many things.

I also relinquished some of my money issues. I don't have a lot of money in the bank. I know that one is supposed to have 3-12 months of savings in the bank in case of an emergency, but the money we make doesn't allow us to do that if we are to put money in retirement accounts! I am not going to spend my life in fear of not having enough money, nor am I going to live it worrying about every dime I spend or turn down a trip that will change my life. So far I have never starved, rarely had my utilities shut off, (and that happened only because I spaced out and forgot to pay a bill) and have managed to do OK. If something happens, I will deal with it then.

I will be writing about the trip over the next week or so as there are so many stories to tell, and things to share.

I do have to say that KLM is one of the best airlines I have ever flown. I had Northwest on part of the trip over (food sucked and no movie/headphones and the plane was OLD) then the journey from Holland to Madrid was via KLM, and then all the way back it was KLM!!!! The planes were modern, had private movie screens and tons of choices. (I watched The Wrestler, Revolution Road, and Vicky Christina Barcelona on the trip back!) They fed us the entire time and had FREE wine/beer/ and later cordials. The food was quite good too; my choice was an African vegetarian dinner that ROCKED.

The Amsterdam Airport is really nice, clean and very techno. Here is a photo of Cees at this very cool bar in the airport, shaped like a geodesic dome (best way to describe the place). He was very funny and entertaining, and when I commented on his happy attitude, he said "every day I make this my Disney World". Great attitude and he poured a great drink.

Perhaps I will go again. I could find my way from Madrid via the 8 to the 10 to the 1 metros to the Atoche station, and hop on the train to Valencia. Once there I know my way to Dana's apartment. Who knows, perhaps I will fall into some money for the more expensive summer airfare, and go at a time where one can go to the beach. Oh and take the train to Barcelona, spend a day or two there, and also get to the Prado in Madrid. What do you think Dana? lol

Patti O Valencian

Photo of the marble in the bathroom and of the toilet/bidet at the hotel Melia Barajas, in Baraja, a little town outside of Madrid which is near the airport. It was 95 Euros for the both of us which converts to about 126.00 USD. Not bad when you split it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Last Night in Valencia



A few pictures from our busy day. The Museum of Arts and Sciences and a mid-afternoon Churro.

Daniel played for us on our last evening here, a mix of traditional Chile folk music, his own compositions and contemporary picks. He was trained in classical guitar for 6 years; his fingers are magic. ( I know one of you wise-asses are going to say something...)

We have to wake up fairly early to pack and catch the train to Madrid.

Not sure when I will have any more communication before I land.

Buenas Noches

Patti

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Getting to the Ocean

Chris, Dana's friend from Manchester, England, took all of us for a ride south outside of the city. We poured 5 of us into a four-seat Citroen.

I am very glad that we decided NOT to rent a car as the roads here are narrow, parking is a bear, people park bumper to bumper with little room to spare, and if you double park on the street, it is expected that you leave the car unlocked so that the car can be put into neutral and be pushed out of the way.

Most of the cards are small; VW's, Toyotas, Fords, Mercedes, Renaults, Fiats, and other small cars. Having a big car is not practical.

We walked along the ocean, watching the locals surf cast. We had a lovely 2-3 hour lunch where I had paella for the first time.

The food here is very different and I have entrusted our hosts and their friends to order for us. We have eaten foods much out of our normal palette. Meats, especially ham, plates of snails, blood sausage, cheese, squid, muscles, fried fish, complete with heads. Lots of bread and olive oil, and the best wine/beer/sangria/ and coffee. Cafe con Leche (sp?) has become my morning staple.

I have to head to bed. It is near 1 am and we have another day of adventure planned; the market, and the Museum of Arts and Sciences. It is also strange sleeping in a city with many different sounds than my American city. It takes me a while to fall asleep as I lay in bed deciphering its many sounds and songs.

Ciao, Patti

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sagunto



I am heading out for some drinks and dinner so I have to be quick, but the photos tonight are from the ruins of a medieval castle in Sagunto, about 1/2 hour train ride from Valencia.

The pictures speak 1000 words, and my legs are feeling like I walked 1000 miles.

We hiked up from the village, and back down, and all around the ruins. You can see the village in the background of the second photo.

It was smashing.

But off to get a taste of the nightlife.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Here's your Easter Rabbit



Annie and I have come back for a little siesta. We had a rough morning after several days of staying up way too late, drinking too much, and eating things we have never had before. We had "rice of the oven" last night, and i even ate and LIKED the blood sausage. Needless to say our bodies are still in shock and we need a rest before going out to shop for dinner.

We have entered a very different world here in Valencia.
Some things of note:

They are very into recycling and water conservation, but dogs poop anywhere they want and there appears to be no leash laws.

People throw things in the street instead of the garbage, but the street cleaners come very morning to clean, as witnessed by the very LOUD sound of the machinery at some ungodly time in the morning that scared me half to death.

People love Obama, and the women love Michelle even more, and are thrilled that we have him as a new president.

Cars here, for the most part are very small, and some of the crossings only give you 30 seconds to cross a major intersection. There are timers on the crosswalk and all you have is 30 seconds. Fortunately Annie and I are able to move quickly.

The local markets are amazing. I have never seen such an array of meats, poultry, and seafood, including the heads and body parts galore.

The woman here have amazing boots.

The cathedrals have lots of skulls, bones and body parts of martyred saints and other important people.

Photo of Dana and Annie waiting at the Post Office feeling quite rough post three days of fiesta. Notice I did NOT post a picture of myself who probably was the roughest of all. The other photo, well, here's your Easter rabbit.

Off to nap.

Patti O Party

Monday, April 06, 2009

Reporting from Valencia


We have arrived and are settled in at Dana's in Valencia. I would have written sooner but after traveling for 24 hours straight without sleep, and then going out to the local wine festival till 11 pm and drinking lots of Vino Blanco among other things for the same amount of time that we traveled, it was better that I sleep. Besides, I don't think I would have made much sense, lol.

The trip was great. The flight to Amsterdam was without event. We made the connecting flight with a few moments to spare, then once in Madrid decided to brave the metro and figure out the three trains it took to get to the train station in the heart of the city. 2.00 Euros vs a 40.00 Euro taxi ride.

The worst part was waiting for the next available train to Valencia, which was either a 2 hour wait for a first class ticket, or if we wanted to travel cheaper, it was a 5 hour wait. There was no perseverating on the decision. First class it was.

On the 3.5 hour ride on the train, we met up with a gentleman from Norway, and Alberto from Valencia who was just returning to his family from his civilian job in Afghanistan. We had a fab dinner and got to sample some of the best local wines and liqueurs.

we rode along seeing hundreds of miles of farms and a few small villages scattered about. When we pulled into Valencia's train station, I felt like I had stepped into the movie set from Casablanca.

Dana suggested we stay up as late as we could so that we could sleep and get onto a schedule, so we went to the local Festiva de Vino in the city. We sampled the wines, cheeses, and sausages of the province, and it was all amazing. The wines were superb, and the cheeses heavenly. I loved the goat cheese which was like mozzarella with a hint of the goat cheese. Then there were the cheesecake samples, and the chocolates.

I have to admit, we were pretty toasted, and ended up taking a cab home as I needed to save my energy to climb the 5 flights of stairs to the apartment.

More to post later, am off to shower!

Patti O
PS. Photo of sunrise at the Amsterdam airport while sitting on the plane, and the night time view from one of the three terraces at Dana's apartment.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Mostly Ready to Go


I never sleep well the night before a trip. I stay up late packing, and then I must set aside some quality time to be with my man, no matter how neurotic and rushed I feel.

I am pretty much packed, having to take far less than I thought I can due to the small suitcase I am bringing with me plus one carry on. I do have things for Dana in it which will free up some room for gifts on my return. I hope to find my favorite Spanish soap, perhaps a lovely scarf or piece of jewelry as a memento of my time in Spain. Mostly the experiences, the photos, and the sketches will be what is most important to bring back with me.

I won't go into the rant about how I only got 1,400.00 back from my taxes, having to pay 250.00 to an accountant, and the state about 350.00. Hours and hours of work to get my own 800.00 back. I can't tell you how many thousands of dollars I paid in taxes as I slip lower and lower on the rung of middle class. This trip could be one of the last for a while.

However, I am going to get crafty. Since I will be photographing for school, mainly architecture, and photographing/painting for my art business, part of this trip is going to be a tax deduction folks.

The photos above are how compact I got with my art supplies. A rubber collapsible bowl that I got at Kenco, the local outdoor sporting goods store. The watercolors are by Kohinoor, and I have a few small Moleskine watercolor notebooks. They fit into my purse, and away I go.

I hope to find an Internet cafe near Dana's apartment that I can find my way to and back in the mornings or at siesta time to write and post photos. Dana has a laptop too, but that will be shared by four of us, and I will need at least a half hour every other day!

Till the next post!

Patti O Explorer!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tears and Chuckles

It is with a great sigh of relief that I am writing this blog. After two very long days, I feel like I can take a brief break to write, sleep, and start it all over again for the final day.

Amidst all of this I had another visit to the doc, getting my throat swabbed (negative for strep!) and discussion about my inner workings and their fate, as well as a lump in my hand that bears attention from a hand surgeon. I am not too fond of all of this and it made for some more stress.

I started the day in tears. I don't know if it is my hormones which are off the charts, or the pressure of the past week, and I ended the day in tears after an intensive session with my therapist.

I have buried some traumas which I thought were long forgotten, but they rear their ugly head to pop up at the most inopportune moments, forcing me to do the reveal, deal, and heal. I have skated around these issues for years, but some things have necessitated my facing it in order to move on in the last part of my life.

But there were also moments of wonderful beauty. A ride to Rhinebeck and then to Woodstock with the top down, blasting fabulous tunes to the wind - Roxy Music's Slave to Love, music by Sting, Ryan Adams, and others. I saw flocks of various birds returning to the north, heard peepers singing joyously from a pond. I had just been given a wonderful hair cut, spent time with a genius therapist, came home to find a set of gouache paints left for me by my husband. The gift of a hair ball from the cat, the kindness and love from friends.

And a laugh to balance out the tears - when I dropped by favorite lipstick in the toilet at the Health Club. I looked in dismay as my lovely lipstick in its silver case sunk to the bottom. I groaned, knowing I had no choice but to do the royal flush and pray that they had invested in one of those toilets I just bought..advertised to be able to flush a bucket of golf balls. It passed the test, and my lipstick traveled swiftly to some unknown destination. A lovely luscious dark red. But I had to laugh and will have to buy another one in Spain. I am sure they make some sexy reds.

So off to sleep, to dream, and only two more days till I am on the plane.

Patti O Confessor