Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lazin' on a Sunday Afternooooooon....

Strange Sunday.

Started with fog, followed by hours of curriculum writing, as I had to have it done today so that I could get on that Trailways bus to NYC tomorrow morning and be done with it for a few days. Once I get on that bus, all thoughts of school will be VANQUISHED. As well as thoughts of most everything else. And believe me, there is a lot of stuff for me to digest in my life.

I don't know how the planets were aligning, or not aligning, but it was not a day for relationships. At nearly 3 pm I craved some sunlight and some alone time, and headed to Karen's for some girl and sun time.

Karen and I talked about what our ideal of nirvana would be, and how we could write our own novel about what a stint in heaven would be like.

Heaven would look like this:

We'd get to keep our men, but in their prime.
We would also be in our prime. And tan.
Their to-do list would always BE DONE.
We wouldn't mind cooking as the recipe for what we wanted to make would miraculously appear, as well as the ingredients.
We would make art as much as we wanted with no fear of not having enough time.
Heaven means no dust, no cat or dog hair, or dirt.
We'd have plenty of time for friends, reading, and movies.
We could go out to eat any time we desired, and have any kind of cuisine to choose from.
We'd never have a period (OK, I added this one, not Karen, though I suspect she would concur)
Our kids would never give us shit.

And the list goes on.

I have got to go to bed an visit Mr. Man. He is waiting, and I am leaving him for three days.

Don't know when I will be back, but stay tuned for some NYC adventures.

Patti O Muser!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Horoscopes, Strokes, Undertakers and George Washington's Bed.

I can never say that I live an uninteresting life.
It is usually a packed day, full of surprises; some good, some not so good.

The not so good was a migraine that started slowly and softly, reaching a crescendo by late afternoon. Then there was the phone call from my aunt telling me that my other aunt, the sister of the auntie who just died, had a stroke and is in the hospital. The song "Another One Bites the Dust" plays wickedly in my head. "NOT YET" I shout to the little devil singing in my ear. Then I remembered one of the prayers at the funeral the other day:"may your soul reach heaven before the devil knows you're dead." As my mother would say: "right on".

I had a date to meet a Facebook friend who kindly did my horoscope for me. I knew I should have taken a tape recorder with me, as there was so much to understand, and my brain could only hold so much of the info on the houses, planets, etc. A lot of it made sense, and I will study them further with the print out of my personality and forecast.

It mentioned that this is a good time to start planning my future. A meeting with the NYS retirement peeps is in order this year. Knowledge of my money situation in a few years will help me determine what path to take.

Just before I leave, the undertaker who helped with the mass and who buried my aunt strolls into the bagel shop. Nice guy..but the coincidence did give me a bit of the willies.

After that off to Rhinebeck to meet up with friends and get my hair cut. As luck would have it, I was late to my appointment due to the fair traffic and Lois could not cut my hair. I didn't really care, but I had a little melt down in the Shop. I started crying and had to work really hard to stop. A good cry is due, but not there....Back to my friend's house for some wine, and he let Karen and I into the room where George Washington had slept. You KNOW we had to try out the bed.

I can't give out the details here...lest he get into trouble for letting us do it, but man, it was a REALLY uncomfortable bed, a feather type mattress over ropes. I could feel each and every one of them, and they creaked every time we made a move. I thought that it would have been more comfortable had he moved the mattress to the floor!!!

Back home in the pouring rain (what else is new) to take more drugs for my headache, and then a call from friends to meet them at the Elephant. Once the drugs kicked in, I had fun, and the day ended better than it started.

Off to watch an oldie, A Man and A Woman.

Patti O

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pet Food Ingredients to Avoid

It's been a busy few days here. I was almost too tired to blog, but I wanted to post a few links here about keeping our animals fed as well as we can. One of my cats had rapid kidney failure which caused her untimely death - possibly accelerated by the food I was feeding her which contained fillers and chemicals which later were found to be extremely unhealthy. Fillers I believe, that were in foods processed in China.

Thanks to my friend Marlaine, she posted a good link on pet food ingredients to avoid, and then I did some of my own research and found a great site which rated dry cat foods.

No matter what animal you have, do a google search for a review of that animal's foods. Expensive does not always mean better, and cheap is usually just that, cheap.

I keep my cats indoors in order to keep them safe from cars, disease, and insects, and other animals. But I did not realize that the food that the vet suggested we buy has fillers in it such as corn and rice, as well as chicken meal and salt.

Off to do more homework, and find a better food for my cat that will also fit their urinary tract issues.

Oh, and just read that it has been discovered that the ash content of cat food has very little to do with UTI's and other urinary issues.

Off to watch the weather channel, snuggle up to the heating pad...and hopefully sleep tonight.

Patti O Kitty

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Burial in the Mountains

Today was my aunt's mass and burial in the Catskills.

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining, occasional clouds floated in the cerulean sky.The rain has made the vegetation a brilliant green, and the creek's reflections of blues and greens were vivid against the pale creek stones.

I no longer attend mass, but the priest and the mass were lovely. He emanated joy and love of the Lord and his people, so unlike so many other priests I had encountered in my years of Catholic education. I liked that he quoted scripture from the Jews, and made a few references to what some might call "New Age Modern Philosophy". He was caring, kind, and personable. He made me smile.

My brother spoke about my aunt so eloquently. It was a beautiful memorial to her, and for once, I did not stand up and add to the conversation.

I wasn't sure where in the cemetery she was going to be buried, and it was next to my father's a plot that had been purchased by the family some time ago. I know I will be able to find it again, as it is a plot with lots of space, as most of us are still living.

It was strange as I had not been back to his grave since he died in 1977. Maybe once perhaps...but if I did I have blocked it out. I wondered how I would feel...but I felt nothing. No pain, no tears, no sorrow for him, but at least I no longer felt anger. It was a blessed nothingness.

My aunt was cremated and buried next to him in a lovely pink jar, and we all placed pink carnations around it. We said a few prayers, and then left. As I drove away, I saw Mark, one of the funeral directors, place her urn in the hole, and shovel dirt over her, his dark suit forming a silhouette....

We went to Tiso's, my aunt's favorite place for lunch. It was lovely to celebrate her past life and her next life with my family...cousins, my cousin's children, my other aunts, and brothers and sisters, and some friends. Later we stopped at my Auntie Mo's home on the Esopus Creek, which lies EXACTLY opposite from the cottage that my aunt Peg stayed in for so much of her life, the very stream that she fished, and I could see the rocks that I played on as a child. It was from a different view both physically and metaphorically. Today was a day for only good memories and I am sure it is exactly how she would have wanted it.

Aunt Peg was a wonderful woman, a humble and compassionate aunt. She never complained about what life had given her, even on her deathbed riddled with cancer. She will be missed.

I worry about my Aunt Anne, who has spent her entire life living with her. There is no will, no money to support the three properties that her sister owned. I guess it is another lesson on taking it one day a time. And may I have strength and patience to give to her when she needs to cry, ask me a question, or wants to talk.

It was a profound day is so many ways.....and I know that if I even want to talk to her...she is in right there... in my heart.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ANOTHER Flood...

Since I last posted, my studio has flooded twice.

Friday's flood wasn't so bad; nothing that several towels and some time couldn't clean up, though I am trying to figure out how the earthworm got in. I started getting rid of art supplies that I did not need so that I could free up some space. I spent most of yesterday afternoon organizing and packaging.

Today's downpour not only bought in water, but mud, which makes cleaning the studio even harder. I have had it with the rain, and with the poorly designed roads. The water races down a steep hill, makes a left into my neighbor's driveway which goes downhill and runs parallel to the back of my studio. The water fills up in this driveway about 6", then spills over the bank into the back of my studio. Today it bought down his mulch, and I got mud and silt into the studio.

If there were storm drains before his driveway in a few places, I suspect that most of the water could be diverted.

It could have been worse, a few houses a block from us had FEET of water in their garages, and a small trickle of a stream turned into a raging river. So instead of getting an engineer in to look at the problem, they just keep sending in Firetrucks to pump people out, as well as backhoes, and everyone stands around with stupid dumb ass looks on their face.

I don't know how to solve the problem. A 4" French drain isn't going to cut it. I don't have the money to fix this either.

The ex Assistant DA, one block away from me has a nicely paved road. I live on the same road, a block away, and I guess we are slumming it. In fact, the day his house was robbed, the neighbor across the street from me was also robbed. The police told her there was nothing they could do for her, while he made front page of the paper, and the thieves were apprehended within a day or two.

I have written a letter to the editor, and will be sending it to the local paper about "why people are leaving Kingston". I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

Patti O Fighter

Friday, August 21, 2009

How to Live on a Permanent Vacation

This might be another one of the books I want to write. How to Live on a Permanent Vacation, Even if you Have to Work, OR How to Feel Like You're Always on Valium, but You're Not.

I talked this over with Annie/Loel today brainstorming ideas. Obviously one can't take off every weekend and go somewhere, especially if you are a middle class American. So you can start by bringing this into your home, making it a haven of peace and relaxation.

I have the luxury of my children being out of the house, so I took one room, kept it as sparse as possible, and use it for my meditation room, surrounded by peaceful objects. A candle, a Buddhist scroll about being in the moment. A picture of Obama and the Dalai Lama. A sculpture. Some art.

Cleaning my house is one thing I don't have time to do, and I HATE to do, so I am seriously thinking of giving up SOMETHING so that I can have my house cleaned every other week. Nothing like coming home to a clean space. Keep clutter to a minimum. It is more soothing, at least for me.

Cook like Julia at least once in a while whether you live alone-or not. Go out to dinner once a week. Dine by candlelight. Listen to Bach or whomever you love.

Make a space in your garden to sit and sip on a cocktail or ice tea. Close your eyes, open your ears. Be still.

Take time to read. Something. Anything. Make art, make music, make love.

Put money in a kitty so that you can take an overnight away somewhere. In between those times take day trips. Visit a museum, a historical site and learn more about your locale. Discover small boutiques/shops in your area. Take an art/writing/gardening class. Many are free/low cost. Have a coffee/drink in an outdoor cafe. Go to Barnes and Noble and sip on a Latte and read some books or magazines.

Make plans, have dreams. Go for a massage, or a hike. Wander a Historic site and pretend it is yours. Make a picnic dinner/lunch.

Watch the Travel Channel.

Put a blanket down where it is dark and watch for shooting stars.

DON'T BRING YOUR WORK HOME if you can help it, or give one another 5 minutes to discuss the day AND DROP IT.

Light candles, incense, a fire, or someones fire.

And, if you can afford it, take at least a week a year to go away somewhere -- away from the phone, from the housework, the garden, and enjoy each and every moment.

If my readers have any suggestions, please comment and I will post the comments.

Love yourself, treat yourself well in the confines of your budget. It doesn't take a lot of money to be on a permanent vacation as it is a state of mind and a way of living.....I'll let you know how I am doing once school starts.....

Patti O Chill

PS the yard at the rented Wellfleet House....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Heat is On

I was supposed to go Plein Air painting yesterday with some friends, it being a French term meaning "open air", or simply painting outside, made popular by the Impressionists.

Most art is made in the studio, and after having painted plein air, I understand why. You have to pack up your canvases, paints, and easel, find a place to paint, set up, and then endure the bugs, elements, sun, cold, heat, etc. Also, it is difficult to paint with anything but oils outside as acrylics dry too fast. And then you have to deal with the mess of oil paints and carrying a wet canvas home.

I have no choice but to work small with my car, as the only safe place to put a wet canvas is in the trunk. Unless I take the CRV which has a lot of room and it on its 7th year with me, so I am less concerned about a little paint here and there.....

I diverge. Because of the heat wave here, we did not go paint. And I was glad for that decision.But I had blocked out the day, and decided that at least part of it should be used for my original intention, to paint.

I cooked my entire dinner in the morning, a melange of fresh bean salad, marinated tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, deviled eggs, and all I had to do was put on the water for the corn. Then out to the studio where I have AC, and off to my world of painting.

To stay in a cool state of mind, I finished up two winter paintings. One, a view of Olana, needed a second coat. The other, a view of the snow/ice on the Hudson along River Road, needed some work. Then I started working on a small piece of the salt marsh which I started the week before.
The photos here do not do the pieces justice, as the camera went hog wild with the blue in the painting, and the natural light in my studio also had a blue cast. I supposed I should have photographed them outside, but it was too hot.

Today, another paint day. Then shopping for some tops for work, meeting friends to see The Time Traveler's Wife (loved that book) and then off to Woodstock to be on the local TV show on channel 23 at 10 pm. The show is called Apocalypse Varga, and is hosted by artist Chloe Valentine, and Christina Varga, of Varga Gallery fame, where I show some of my art.
Having never been on TV before, I don't know what to expect, but I will chalk it up as another one of my many life experiences. I am bringing work, some of my larger newer landscapes, and also some from my mixed media series called Telling Stories. Two of my favorite pieces are in galleries, so I can't bring those, but I am sure that I will find a few pieces to supplement my larger works. Oh, and if you click on the Apocalypse Varga link, you can stream the show LIVE!

Off to turn on the AC in the studio, and perhaps do a wee bit of gardening, like plant some more seeds..spinach/arugula/and the likes.

Patti O TV

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last Rites

Larry and I have come back into the unairconditioned house a dirty sweaty mess from pulling out all the beautiful tomato plants we had so lovingly nurtured the past two months.

Two days before I left for the Cape, the plants developed the blight. I knew when I returned that they would be close to being destroyed, and about half of the plant, and 85% of the tomatoes succumbed to late season blight.

"Be glad you are not a farmer whose livelihood depends upon his/her crops" Karen said.

Still I was pissed and sad. I had not bought my plants at a box store. They had been raised in a greenhouse in school, and had the best soil. In retrospect, I may have planted them too close together, and next season only three or four plants will go into a raised bed, with lettuce or herbs planted around the edges. I had staked them, and mulched them, both of which are supposed to help prevent the blight. Oddly enough, the tomatoes in the other garden, a mere 10' or so away, the cherries and big boys, which sprawl over the soil, and are NOT mulched, have fared much better, and I am at least getting a crop of orange cherries from them.

So I gave them last rites, found a handful of tomatoes that may be OK to ripen on their own, and proceeded to rip up all of the plants and put them in four contractors bags and out on the curb for the garbage.

I was going to photograph them and give you a before and after, but I prefer to remember them as huge, green, and healthy. The only consolation is that most people I know also lost their crop, so I am not without sympathetic friends.

Patti O Tomato Failure

PS still have great herbs, and the Swiss chard is still rocking, and the purple bush beans are about ready to pick. Once I tidy up the old bed, I will reseed with arugula and spinach, and hope they will get big enough for a late season crop!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Have Returned

It is with bittersweet feelings that I have returned home.

We were just getting to know the area, find places we liked to go to; there were so many places we never got to visit, so many things unexplored. Another week, and I would be really chilled out and feel like I had enough of a vacation.

However, it is a reminder that I need down time in order to gear up for the demands of my life and my job, and that though I am not always working in the studio, I am always taking in the landscape and life's experiences to bring back with me for those long hours of art ahead.

I spent my last full day going for a mid morning walk to breakfast, the path which leads through an old graveyard which was the final resting place for the Paine family of Thomas Paine lore. I took many photos, and studied the historical markers, the earlier ones bearing the traditional carvings of weeping willows and such.

After a breakfast burrito, and the walk back home, I painted for a few hours, starting two more canvases.

I wanted one more day on the beach, so after the clouds lifted, leaving an intense blue sky, Larry and I headed back to Great Island. Traffic was light, we made it there quickly, and hiked back into the dunes to the rocky beach. I finished The Great Man, a well written novel about a deceased painter and the women and families he left behind, and started One Thousand White Women, a fascinating and quick moving novel about an actual proposal the Cheyenne Indians made to the U.S. Government, which never happened, but in fiction, the author sends some of the 1,000 women to live with the indians, as well as have their children, at a time during the gold rush, when the indians were being eradicated from the landscape.

On the way back we ate dinner at a place that we have been wanting to go to for years in Wellfleet, Mac's Shack, and shack food IT IS NOT. Starting with martinis (they only use Grey Goose) and Oysters Rockefeller, then main meal being crab stuffed lobster with garlic mashed potatoes. Karen had an oyster shooter which I warily eyed since raw seafood repulses me, and Natalia had the most amazing giant plate of three kinds of sushi. Phill had crab stuffed fish of some kind..and there were more oysters and french fries. Dinner for 5 with drinks for 3 of us, was about 200.00. Extravagant for us perhaps, but remember, we had skipped the beach and town/park fees, cooked a lot at home, so we went out in style.

Yesterday we were up at 6 am, the sun slowly burning off the fog that had settled in for the night. Though we left at 8:30 am, it still took an hour longer than it should have getting home as an accident caused delays on the Mass Pike. 6 hours later, we were back home to two very happy kitties, and I momentarily sadly eyed the lost crop of tomatoes, and then put them behind me. Still on vacation, Larry and I went into town to find cheap dinner...for under 20.00 we had a giant everything bean burrito at Lucy's Tacos, and then ice cream made by a New England co-op and sold in an 18 square foot "walk up" owned by Shawn at Uptown Twist. Movie for the night was rather surreal, futuristic, and dark, Children of Men.

Today-our last official day of vacation together, Larry and I are heading to Karen's to spend a day at the pool, and serve up some dinner that we will communally cook or barbeque. Till then, off to the car wash, and into the studio for a little late morning painting.

Patti O Traveler

Photo 1: Great Island Marsh, on the way to the dunes and beach
Photo 2: morning mist on the marsh behind our rented house
Photo 3: the sun peeking though the fog at the house

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Whiter Shade of Pale

I have been up since 6 am as I headed to bed to read at 9:30, and promptly got sleepy and nodded out. The sun is no where to be seen, though the forecast states that by 9 it will be sunny in Wellfleet. It has 4 minutes to create a miracle.

It was the perfect day yesterday for Karen and I to head up to Truro to the Atlantic Spice Company, where we loaded up with herbs we bought in bulk by the pound. Bay leaves, hot curry powder, a huge bag of peppermint tea bags, herbs de Provence, oregano. When we get home we joked about having an "herb" party, splitting our treasures into smaller bags, perhaps making some bay sachets to keep those little bugs OUT of the pantry.

We then stopped by my fave paper store..Jules Besch, where Karen bought the paper she was been craving for 2 years now, and I only bought one piece and a card. I am on austerity budget since there is no money in the art coffers, but I did get an idea on how to make some cards for my winter show.

After it was an afternoon of doing an under painting, and drinks with friends who had stopped by. Later Larry and I had the house to ourselves , as our housemates were out on an adventure in P-town, so we had some kiss-face and made dinner out of all the left-overs in the fridge, sipping on the rest of the wine.

And now, since we have eaten most of the food, and we are both starving while the world is sleeping upstairs, we are taking off for a 1/2 mile walk along to bike trail to get a breakfast burrito at the little bakery in the plaza down the street.

Later..who knows how we will fill our last day full day be determined.

Photo is the underpainting done in acrylic of the scene from our balconies at 10 pm. The oils will make it zing---I hope.

Patti O Dreamer

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Provincetown Adventure

The day was overcast. Not a beach day, but the perfect day to go into P-town. Not only I thought so, but apparently thousands of others.

It was crowded beyond belief, and my introvert self kept saying GET OUT GET OUT. Shoulder to shoulder, being bumped off the sidewalk into the streets, maneuvering between people, bikes, and cars.

But we were on a mission. One to visit owner Ronny Hazel of Shop Therapy fame, one of the famous two colorful shops of the town, the other to the Marine Specialties store to buy Larry a pair of Rafters at a deep discount.

Shop Therapy is filled with tie dyed clothes, bags galore from exotic places like Bali and Nepal, and more, at fab prices. A trip upstairs will take you to the adult and "smoking" accessory shop. I should have taken photos, but I was overwhelmed by everything, and forgot.

However, once at Marine Specialties, I took out my camera while Larry look for his sandals for treks. The store was PACKED and I had a difficult time finding space to stand still enough to take photos w/out flash or tripod. The few that weren't fuzzy I posted here.

I wanted to find a gift for Judi who is taking care of my cats, and we found a delightful shop called Forbidden Fruit which will be ready for online ordering soon. And yes, I got Judi a gift there....which I won't disclose in case she reads this.

We finished off the day with dinner for 10, something I rarely do, which I pulled together in an hour or so. We stopped by the Wellfleet Harbor and bought fresh cod in the seafood shop, which was fabulous thanks to the help of Jaan, and served salad and corn, some of which we imported from our organic gardens or farms from home, finished off with ice cream from Maine.

Today it is raining...again. I think we will go out for brunch, take a trip into Truro and Wellfleet, and maybe back to P-town. Or maybe I will paint. It's all good, this being on vacation.

Patti O Shopper

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Best things on the Cape CAN be free

Yesterday was a fabulous day. Not horribly hot and humid, but hot enough to swim.

I have a hard time paying to who owns the ocean, but I realize that you pay to park, and the fees cover the maintenance of the parking lots and beaches, though at 15.00 a pop, I suspect the town coffers are quite full. You also can't get a three day or week pass/permit, unless you have a certificate of residency (which you can get for a week if you rent here) which prevents outsiders from coming in. It also keeps out those who can't afford to park, which leads me to another issue...the lack of "diversity". No Blacks, Latinos, Asian populations on this part of the Cape, save for the color of Provincetown.

So, rather than pay to park, Larry and I have learned various ways to circumvent the fees. One, is to find a place to park, and walk to a beach. Two, is to go to the beach after 3:30, where permits are not usually checked. Still good swim time, and enough time to catch a bit of a tan without burning. Three, is to find public beaches.

These beaches may not be large, or groomed, but they tend to be more quiet, and more natural.We don't need the food concession, or the bathrooms, or a life guard. A strip of sand, some water, and the landscape make for a perfect day. A back pack with with a towel, book, camera and water bottle is all that we need.

Orleans has Rock Harbor, and Wellfleet has Great Island.
Parking is free at both places, and Great Island hosts miles of trails and lovely beaches on the Bay. The hike to the beach is a rolling 1/2 mile hike, where you travel from pine barren to marsh to dunes and water all in of 20 minutes. During low tide you can hike the 3.5 miles of trails to the end, but caution...once the tide comes in, the trails become water logged, or worse, completely obliterated.

For my yearly lobster roll, we stopped down at the harbor to the little store that sells both seafood to cook, and prepared food. There is nothing like fawning over huge chunks of lobster, slathered with mayo, watching the boats come in and out, the gulls circling about...

We met friends to see a local production of Godspell, done by young folks who are studying at the local acting/singing/music academy. It bought back memories of the 70's, and though at first the subject matter touched upon my never-recovered-Catholic issues, I was able to smile and take the good and leave the rest.

Off to make toast and get ready for today. It is overcast and a perfect day to go into Provincetown and Wellfleet. Then dinner tonight at home with friends.

Photos of the hike at Great Island, and guess whose legs at the beach.

Patti O Sand

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cape World

The weather has been decent here....any clouds burning off by 11 am, and any clouds that have rolled in have done so by late afternoon.

I have not done much, trying to live a low key life. Read. Primed 6+ canvases, doing a combo of cooking and eating out, visiting friends, walking. Small adventures. I am still fighting my colitis, so I am making a point of nurturing myself and moving slowly.

Where I am staying is across the street from the bike/walking trail, it passes an old graveyard, and leads to a set of stores that have everything I need; food, clothing, booze, and homemade ice cream. All at a mere half mile walk, lined with phlox in bloom, some plants that I don't recognize that look like blueberry plants but with red berries, native Cape grasses, and poison ivy-lots of poison ivy.

Because we are trying to keep expenses low, we have not bought a week long town or National Seashore permit, and are staying away from beaches that charge a 15.00 sticker fee. Yesterday we gave in and ended up at North Crest Beach, a beach accessible from a long sliding walk down the dunes onto a flat, clean beach, devoid of shells, and scattered with stones.

The air temp was hovering around a warm 85 degrees, and the water was a chilly 67, but felt refreshing and delightful in the humid sun. I was surprised to see so few in the water, save for a handful of children. Wimps I mused, the entire lot of mostly young people who hovered under umbrellas or lay upon blankets, never moving. Sure there was mung in the water, an algae known also as "monkey hair", but it was not globbed on the shore or smelly, and though some pieces might stick to your body after you got out (loves bathing suit tops, ha ha) it did not deter me from swimming in the ocean. When you get out, you pull off the few pieces. Easy. Far preferable to thick seaweed wrapping around your arms and legs, or jelly fish that can sting.

The worst part was the hike back up the dunes. The sand was too hot to take of my shoes, and I am sure that it would have been an easier climb without them. It was three steps up an a slide or two back. And today my hips are hurting from the beach walks combined with the climb, but these days pain just serves as a reminder that I am still alive.

This morning, once I make sure I feel well enough, I will be heading to Great Island for a hike/swim/perhaps paint time. As morning is closing, I had better hope to it and get the day rolling.

Adventure adventure adventure.

Patti O Explorer

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Re-formatting my Life

Am sitting in the huge sun room in this lovely old house that I have rented in Wellfleet, out on the Cape here in Massachusetts. It is cloudy, but I don't care as I have blogs to write, notes to take, movies to watch, books to read, and canvases to prime.

The ride up was long as traffic was heavy; it took a good five hours to get here, and during that time I had a lot to process.

Somewhere on the Taconic, about 45 minutes into my trip, I got a phone call from my cousin telling me that my Aunt had passed away. Though sad, I was relieved. She had been in a comatose state since Sunday, and it was time for her to leave her body behind. I did my good cry the other night, when I woke up from a series of horrible nightmares, and all the sadness that I felt just poured out of me and I cried uncontrollably for a very long time. I cried for my aunt, for a friend who is very ill with cancer, for all of the burdens I have so gracefully carried around without a tear. The only problem was, it woke up Larry, and though he was kind about it, I know it blew his nights sleep.

While in the car, I made some decisions about my life. Saying no to things that I have done for years is going to raise some eyebrows, and maybe even lose some of the Brownie points I have been accumulating, but there are plenty of them in the bank, and frankly, I don't care.

Over the years I have been a workaholic, striving to do and be the best I can be. On some level I am still trying to win the love of my father through hard work - showing him what a good girl I am. In the end I never give to myself, and it has taken its toll on me, and the people whom I love in my life.

So today, as I sat sipping my coffee, I composed a few emails, resigning from various jobs I have taken on, and asked God/the Universe, to guide me while navigating some of the complicated situations in my life.

As Elbert Hubbard said: "to know when to be generous, and when firm-that is wisdom."

The photos: the house I have rented here in Wellfleet, the room I write in, and a lamp at Moby Dicks, where we gorged ourselves on the freshest of seafood.

Patti O Whale

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Day #4.

I need to try one of those new sleeping drugs that I have read about. The ones that just put you back to sleep when you wake up at 3 AM and can't take an Ambien because you need six more hours of sleep in order to take it.

I don't like taking sleep meds, but I also don't like days without sleeping. My edge is gone, as well as any possibility of being in the best state of mind. So, when it gets to the point of 4 days w/out sleep, I sometimes take one so that I get one solid night -and even then I sometimes wake up.

It's 3:40, and I have to be up by 7 so that I can get out of here by 9-10 in the morning and head to the Cape. I also have cramps, so that sucks in and of itself. It sucks even more that I have my period on vacation at 51, though it is better than being pregnant at 51. In fact, at this point in life, as I start to skip periods, I can be found at the counter in Walgreens, buying both Tampax and a pregnancy test. Yeah yeah, old ladies like me don't usually get pregnant, but after talking to my friends, almost all of them know someone, or have some distant (or not so distant) relative who had, or is, a "change of life" baby. Yeah, if that happened, I'd want to change my life.

So instead tonight I am trying the Ouzo that Meredith bought me back from Greece. It sort of tastes like Paragoric, a drug that my mother used to give me when I had the runs as a kid. I hated the taste of it, but I remember liking how I felt afterwards. Only recently I found out that it had opium in it - NO WONDER I liked it so much.

So here I sit, still not feelling sleepy, thinking I will down the rest of it and head back to bed for hopefully another 3 hours of sleep. I will try and empty my mind of all that has to be done when I hit the floor in the morning. I would do them now, only it would wake up Larry. Again.

So, next notes will be from Wellfleet, where I hope I get some sun, fun, and rest.

Lord knows I need it.

Patti O Insomniac

wonderful cover of the Cure's song. I just downloaded one of her CDs from iTunes, as well as another Amos Lee CD for the trip. I just love iTunes.......

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Modern Driving Dangers

I have a driving phobia when it comes to driving places I have never been, or driving on super-highways and in large cities. I am not sure where it comes from, and I have not been able to relate it to any specific trauma in my past other than the time I threw up my breakfast in the back seat of my father's Mercedes, which was not pleasant as he and my mother were pissed, and had to turn around and go back home, canceling our weekend in the country. Somehow that does not seem bad enough to have ruined me for life.

My colitis has been acting up, and the past several days I have been a knot of burning guts and stomach...and other things. I don't know if it has been the stress of my aunt dying, or the stress of my having to drive round trip to Queens....part of the way in the pouring rain.

I made it there and back, and even had a nice drive last evening out of Queens...and a ride back home today..though the traffic today was a bit thick on the Thruway.

Some observations that made me angry.....and feel even more unsafe on the road:
  • People on cell phones. Whether talking on a handset or headset, studies show that you are 4x likely to have an accident. No matter how much you think you can multi-task, you are putting yourself and others at risk. 89% of those accidents involving people on cell phones involved other cars. I don't want to risk being killed because you can't pull off the road or do your business later.
  • Texting-see above, only more so. I know three accidents in which friends/family/teens had accidents because of texting. Fortunately two of them did not involve much more that slight injuries and totalled cars, the other sadly cost the lives of several young women.
  • Reading; Reading of any kind, maps, books, newspapers, etc. is not a good idea as well as looking through your iPod for music etc.
  • Tailgating when traffic is doing a brisk pace. Someone slams on the brakes ahead of you, and you have just done a major metal butt munch. At a high speed-you might not live to talk about it, and I hope you have a good lawyer and insurance for the injury/whiplash lawsuit from the person ahead of you. (btw-I have been rear ended low speeds, and I was sore from it...imaging if it were above the 10-15 mph that it was..)
Now I have to admit, I am no saint. I do put on lipstick in my car from time to time, , but I have it down so that I can do it w/out looking in the mirror. I change my radio stations, but my stations are pre-set buttons that I can push w/out much more than a quick glance. And the photographs..the camera is in the console. One click of a button, and I don't look in the viewfinder...I point and shoot, usually when I am in slow moving traffic. Most of the times the photos suck and I have to delete them. One out of 10 is about the success rate.

But when I hauling ass down the thruway, or driving in heavy or fast traffic, listening to my Garmin (which is a feat unto itself paying attention to that thing--which is a necessity for me) off goes my phone, my music sometimes, as I need every ounce of concentration on the highway.

Oh, and for the highway dept. When there is a construction lane switch....especially on the freeway, do you THINK you could put lines down? At one point there were six sets of lines on the three lane highway all the same value/color and I had a real hard time figuring out which lane was which....

Off my soap box..getting ready for the long drive to the Cape.


PS of the dangers we can't control..storms, and a photo of the Tappan Zee..which I consider not aesthetically one of the nicer bridges that span the Hudson, though it is really cool how it looks like you are driving into the Hudson as you descent to the west bank.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Off to Queens

I am heading to Westchester tomorrow to pick up my sister, and then we head to Queens to visit my aunt.It will probably be our last visit with her, as they can't do dialysis as her blood pressure is too low, and her kidneys are only functioning at 10% at best. It's only a matter of time.

I feel strange as I am sad, but not devastated. I guess when you are 80, have fought years of bone marrow cancer, and up until recently dared to push your way around Queens in a wheel chair, then given 6 months to live with metastatic lung cancer, and STILL pushed your way around Queens in your wheelchair, you deserve applause, not tears.

And that is exactly what I am going to give her.

Things may change when I see her..a shadow of her self. In the old days, she was given the nickname "the General" at a time where women took a back seat to men. And she has done exactly that...pushed her way past her cancer and taken herself into the world in spite of her pain and her handicaps, and done her best to live her life- and her conditions were NOT pretty, but those stories I won't get into.

Bravo Aunt Peg-O. Your strength and stubbornness is inspiring...and may that gene be in my own blood. May you blaze a path as you leave your body and head to another life.

Patti O Niece

Monday, August 03, 2009

Kingston IS beautiful

Lots of people complain about my city. And I am one of them. They don't know how to plow or pave the roads. Box stores abound, with little care it seems to the the struggling small businesses. Rhinebeck and Woodstock are very busy spots, each only 10 miles away, whereas Kingston is dead. Approximately 40% of the city is owned by not-for-profit who don't pay taxes. There are lots of renters. The rest of us have to pick up the burden and sometimes I wonder, what am I getting?

Sewers that are collapsing. Streets that don't divert run-off water correctly so houses/basements/studios flood. The city playground is in disrepair. I feel like it is run by "the boys club". It's stagnant, falling apart.

The mayor wonders why people are leaving; I say, what are you doing to want them to stay?

But there are a lot of hidden treasures in this city, many of which not open to the public. They are tucked away in the most unsuspecting of places. It is in these own home included, that I find refuge.

Today I joined three other women for a day of swimming, silly games, and conversation, and then my solo ride home at sunset with the top down. The day, one of the top 10 in the Catskills, was interspersed with phone calls about my aunt's condition, which is deteriorating.

I was faced with a choice. To be bereft, or to celebrate in the beauty of the day and of the surroundings. My decision? To keep my aunt close to my heart, and to enjoy the gift of life in a place that was soothing, relaxing, and healing.

And tomorrow, I will deal with what lies a peaceful state, which is what I most pray for my aunt.

Patti O Peace

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Morning After

It is a slow moving morning, the rain a soft but steady drumming on the roads, broken by the occasional hiss of car tires moving through a layer of water. I don't mind that it is raining again, and I don't even worry about the threats of flash floods, or getting water in the studio.

I came downstairs, observing with a smile the scattered remains from the previous day. A bag of diapers on the floor. Shells and stones from my beach collection scattered throughout the house, much more interesting to my little niece and nephew than the Fisher Price toys I bought downstairs for them to play with. Pizza boxes. Limes thrown in the sink, awaiting the compost bin from the drinks I made the night before. The cannoli box, ringed with stains from bits of creme that seeped through. Grass from the lawn scattered from little feet coming in from the sprinker. A few small bags from our shopping adventures. A scrap of mud from the farm.

I want to preserve these things, not clean them up. They are memories of a day spent with loved ones, a day full of sunshine, play, adventure, ringing with laughter from the adults and the children. It was time to not worry about bills, money, health or death, our only goal was to have fun and give and receive love.

At this time in my life, spending time with them is comforting. My sister and I are close. We don't have the same relationship with my brothers, and most of our life beyond the teen years was lived without parents. At times we have been each other's anchor, confidant. We are the only link that resembles family...the others separated by distance, sickness, or their spririts in another realm.

We haven't made a pact yet, but I know my sister will make the effort to make the visits more often, to shower one another with the priceless gift of laughter, love, joy, and adventure, and teach the little ones that family is a treasure.

And rain, is just rain.....the sun always shines again.

Patti O