Saturday, February 24, 2007

La Dolce Vida

While many of you might not be checking this since it has been awhile ... hey - sometimes its hard to find an internet cafe when you are trotting across the globe! You hate me I know and I understand. Anyway - Kelly and I are in Rome living la Dolce Vida ... sort of ... in our chinatown hotel (i don't mean chinatown in a good way) - oh yeah and we took a 15 HOUR TRAIN RIDE to get here from Paris - don't ask my why that was considered a good idea when we booked our tickets. In all honesty it wasn't the worst thing ever although check out kelly's blog and she might say differently. Lets just say i had ear plugs and she did not and there were three other people in our train coachette, one being a large man.

So yeah - its a good thing that Rome was the last stop on this expedition because it has been the most challenging thus far. The people however have been extremely nice everywhere we have been, including paris. London and Paris were a bit different than I remember but still amazing. I am starting to think however that city life is wearing on me - gasp!!! - did i just say that??? It is february and all these big cities are still teaming with tourists (just like us) and all the commercialization of london, paris, and now rome is kind of getting me down. i think my next european vacation will have to be to the countrysides of paris and italy and maybe belgium again.

anyway - kelly is lauging at my long winded writing style .... again - and so let me say this one last thing ... isn't it amazing that two single white females can just jaunt around the world like this? we are so blessed to be in the position to do this and i am thankful for the time and money to do it ... and of course for a good friend to share the memories with.

oh and if you don't like my long posts - then don't read my blog cuz there are plenty more to come.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bon Voyage, Arrividerci, Ciao, Au Revoir, and Cheers

Yes today is the day ... I am getting on a plane to see the world - well at least the Big Three of the European World. Its soo exciting even if I have been to 2 out of 3 of the destinations already. Who cares ... its Europe! And as Sabrina always says - "Paris is always a good idea."

So this is the very general itinerary for those interested - you will find that London is the least planned out - we plan to hop on an off a double-decker bus and see the sites. Paris is by far the most structured and Rome (since neither of us have been there) is subject to change with every whim we may have.

Thur Feb 15: Depart Dulles at 6:06 pm

Fri Feb 16: Arrive Heathrow at 6:20 am

Sat Feb 17: London

Sun Feb 18: London

Mon Feb 19: Eurostar through the Chunnel from London to Paris

Tues Feb 20: Arc de Triumph, Champs Elyses, Avenue Montaigne, Musee Rodin, Hotel des Invalides, Eiffel Tower

Wed Feb 21: Versailles - maybe Musee de'Orsay and Eiffel Tower at Night

Thurs Feb 22: Louvre, Notre Dame, Siante Chappelle, Conciergerie, etc

Fri Feb 23: EVERYTHING WE DIDN'T DO IN PARIS ... Maybe the Orsay, etc.
Overnight train to Rome

Sat Feb 24: Arrive at Roma Termini Station at 10:00 am
Pantheon, Piazza Novona, SanLUigi Dei Francesi

Sun Feb 25: Galleria Borghese, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Barberini, Santa Maria della Vittoria

Mon Feb 26: Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza San Pietro

Tues Feb 27: Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Roman Coliseum

Wed Feb 28: Depart Rome Fiumicino to Frankfurt at 10:00 am
Frankfurt to Dulles at 1:00 pm
Arrive Dulles at 3:45 pm

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

i would like to make an announcement

I just received a PHONE CALL from the director of the Historic Preservation program at the University of Oregon ... and I am in!!!

I don't yet know if I am going - but they want me! And that makes me feel good!

1 out of 3 so far ... we will see what happens. Either way I am taking a trip out to Oregon some time this spring to check out the campus ... sooo excited right now! And I am going to Europe tomorrow!

Monday, February 12, 2007

your great aunt b

This last weekend I decided to dive into a new hobby ... why? Why not? I have always wanted to paint ... but I don't have that kind of talent! And I was watching Mona Lisa Smile with my chubby bunny friend (she had her wisdom teeth out last weekend) and they paint by numbers and it reminded me that I had seen a kit in Pulp on 14th street. So I thought that this would be a great time to take up painting by numbers.

I believe I officially became an old grandma or your great Aunt B (hey, my nieces and nephews call me Aunt B anyway, might as well add the great - meaning old - now that I paint by numbers). But did you know that the paint by numbers hearkens back to the 1950's? I bet you didn't. Between 1952 and 1954 North Americans bought 12 million kits and the fad soon spread to Europe and the Far East. Macy's in NYC of course was at first the only retail store to sell the kits developed by artist Dan Robbins and paint manufacturer Max Klein (the kit idea was to boost sales for Klein's Palmer Paint Company in Detroit). Robbins cites Leonardo da Vinci as his primary inspiration, saying that he remembered hearing in art school that da Vinci had drawn segments of large paintings for pupils to fill in with numerically coded colors, after which the master applied finishing touches. Anyway - all this info. is from the book that came along with my kit - interesting huh?!

I took the first picture after my first "studio session" ... I call it ... Still Life: Paradise (real original, I know). You'll notice that I am following correct paint by numbers technique by painting all parts of one color at a time. Oh, and that tall glass of orange drink is not tang or pineapple orange juice ... that is the glass I thoroughly clean my brush in and then dab on a paper towel - just as the instructions told me to do. I also must note that this is my first time and because that is the case I picked a "canvas" I didn't particularly like. I have ten to choose from and I would say that I don't like 5 of them. The above picture is what the painting should look like when I am through ... blah and uninspiring. Would I ever really want to have a painting of "Parrots in Paradise" hanging on my wall??? I think not. And thus it is the practice run.

This is my progress as off yesterday - but I must confess that I didn't finish painting all of the blue background yet ... it takes sooo much time and I was just too tired after an hour or so. But you can kind of see it taking shape can't you???!!! So fun!

And in conclusion, this is one of the canvases I will NEVER paint ... all I have to say is boo! I guess I am not your grandma after all.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack or Blessed

I filed my federal income tax return today since I needed the information to file my FAFSA for school. When I was finished with that I noticed on my google homepage that Barack Obama formally announced his bid for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. I decided that I didn't pay close enough attention to Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Committee, and thanks to YouTube, I could watch it again today. It is in two parts - part 1 and part 2. I was moved to tears. I NEED to read this man's book. He tells of his parent's story - a young African man on scholarship in the US and a young white woman from Kansas. The way this man speaks ... I cannot relay it in words. Even if you don't like his politics, listen to part 1 of the speech - he speaks of America. The chills that went through my body just listening to him speak of my country made me proud. Proud of this country and its potential. We live in a wonderful and promised land.

"Now don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon.

Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach our kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice."

Barack Obama is a man that speaks through the applause. Speaks with conviction. I don't get that slimy politician feeling when I see him or hear him speak. He gives me hope.

It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Now I don't know if he will win the support of the Democratic National Committee for the 2008 election ... I don't know that he could win the presidency even if he was backed by the DNC. But part of me hopes he could. But if not, he's young. He may still have time for 2012 and maybe that will be better. Maybe that is when this nation "will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Friday, February 02, 2007

a study on demographics - gym to gym

I have recently become a member of the WSC gym on Capitol Hill. It is conveniently located just a few blocks away from my office. This is really the only way I can get myself to the gym on a regular basis. I can't go home in between work and the gym, because we all know from my last post - I can be a hermit if I am not careful. I like to be in my house ... its nice. Oh, and my new gym buddy (Kapowski as Number Four lovingly refers to her), is a great motivator as well. Some days we do weights and other days we do "The Program" ... cardio in intervals ... its a blast.

And by the way - Kapowski and I are not only gym buddies, but in less than 13 days we will be travel buddies as well ... we are going to Europe - check for posts come March.

But back to the gym. Yesterday I noticed something funny about the television programing on all the main tvs in the Capitol Hill WSC ... CNN, local news, more CNN ... that is what you will find. I am not talking about the individual tvs on the cardio machines, I am talking about the big jumbo tvs mounted above our heads and beaming down on us with there closed captioning scrolling away (all too often with the wrong words completely, making for some very interesting dialogue). But when I go to the gym in Gallery Place / Chinatown the tvs have tabloid news ... Access Hollywood and MTV mainly. Does anyone else find that funny?

Now granted I go to the Capitol Hill gym Monday - Friday and the Gallery Place / Chinatown gym on Saturdays only and maybe that has something to do with it - but really are the demographics that stereo-typical? You can't tell me that hill staffers and LOC workers don't love them some celebrity gossip once in awhile! And what about those hip downtown capitalists??? They like to know what's going on in the world too! Or maybe its an ego thing for the hillers ... perhaps they'll catch a glimpse of themselves, or their bosses, or someone they've walked by in the cannon building. Maybe those young hip business professionals are interested in Hill news too, just not Capitol Hill news - more like Beverly Hills news.

Or maybe I have put too much thought into this ... maybe that's just what the staff puts on? Either way I will still be taking note