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Animal photos

Mlle. Penelope LePew! Our blue Russian with enough tolerance to wear this silly Diablo pet hat I found at the Goodwill. (for about 30 seconds!)

Lucy is a rescue dog – lab and setter mix, I´d imagine. She has a special talent – she plays a toy piano!

Sweet little Annie dog is a mix – I found her this funny pet hat at the Goodwill and she was the belle of the ball at her mom´s halloween party!

Our other cat Tigger – who managed to get himself caught with a plastic shopping bag around himself. Being a cat, and of course being TOO COOL – he just walked around in it for awhile!

The Thin Veil Between Worlds

DiaDeSantsNovena
The day of Samhain, Hallow´s Eve, where the veil is the thinnest between the world of the living and those who have left their bodies – set a place setting at your dinner table to honor and converse with loved ones who have passed over – nothing truly ever dies, it just transforms! Love and laughter to my dad Sam, brothers  Mike and Karl, my grand and great-grandparents – and my family of friends and loves – Gregg, Susan, Chuck, Alberto, Joyce and so many others!!!
Here´s a beautiful relevant poem by Don Marquis:
Have I not known the sky and sea
Put on a look as hushed and still
As if some ancient prophecy
Drew close upon to be fulfilled?
Like mist the houses shrink and swell,
Like blood the highways throb and beat,
The sapless stones beneath my feet
Turn foliate with miracle.
And life and death but one thing are –
And I have seen this wingless world
Cursed with impermanence and whirled
Like dust across the summer swirled,
And I have dealt with Presences
Behind the veils of Time and Place,
And I have seen this world a star –
Bright, shining, wonderful in space.

Beach Toes in oil pastel


One of my first attempts at oil pastels – I had great fun playing with the big, gooey chunks of pastels. Feet are one of those taken-for-granted sort of body bits, but if I could have a penny for every mile my feet have walked on this planet,
I´d be one wealthy gal!

Cat´s Afire!

Penny, the Wonder Cat!

My third attempt in oil pastels – a rousing success! I thought, why do just a cat portrait? Penny´s a circus performer at heart – so through the hoop she goes!

Oil pastels are fun, like big gooey crayons – big slashes of color, easily correctable and fun to smear and mix colors – I´m like a big kid again!

Traveling the World Connecting Hands and Hearts

For the life of me, I cannot recall how I first was introduced to Meetup. I know it was several years back – before the popularity of Facebook, before Twitter, before CouchSurfing, before LinkedIn– all those great virtual meeting points where inquisitive folks connect, disconnect and reconnect. It was even before “Social Networking” became a commonplace word – now a necessity in every upwardly mobile executive´s lingo and skillset.

I´ve met European newbies on a party barge docked along the river Thames; young Persians from Tehran that were delighted and astonished when my distant recollection of Farsi was sufficient to welcome them and ask “How are you?” in their own familiar language. Alone and newly arriving in London, when my birthday fell on a weekday I was not to be deterred in finding a group to celebrate with.  Searching the web, I found a social networking group Meetup gathering that very night for a wine tasting near St. Paul´s cathedral. I joined the group and checked YES on the attendance roster, posting the message that “In America, it´s tradition to buy a drink for someone on their birthday.” Put it this way, my memories of this event are all happy, but the first half was much clearer in focus than the final few hours! Returning home on the top front seat of the double-decker bus through the late night streets of London was indeed a magical memory in itself.

Gathering in a central pub in downtown Madrid for a language exchange Meetup proved to be an amazing way to gain new friends and meet people. There I was, a blonde woman in a group of dark-haired Spaniards – a beacon, an exotic “pavo real” – drawing hopeful English speakers like a moth to a flame.  “Hello! Can we join your table and practice our English?” So while my Spanish conversation was not enhanced that evening, I might as well have been a dealer at a hot table in Las Vegas for the group of enthusiastic English speakers I was surrounded by.

Barcelona is a city of amazing architecture with a vibrant art & music scene – a city that knows the joy of living la vida calma.  Here in the land of the siesta, your sense of time is stretched and pulled and tweaked until eating dinner at 10 p.m. and going to bed at 2 a.m. seems commonplace. Meetups for The Night of the Museums (rambling with groups speaking English and Spanish while visiting the late night museums FREE), the Great Photo Challenge (a scavenger hunt with digital cameras in mixed language groups), Cinebar (Films In English on a pub wall), Gratitude Reading Circle (sharing universal spiritual inspirations), The Fat Lady Sings Classical Music  group (Oh, the beautiful cathedrals and the magnificent acoustics!), the Cheap Wine Challenge (picnic in the park with wine under 5 €), Live MusicSalsa or Tango dance groups – it is all there. You never need walk alone, unless it is by choice.

I´ve met great friends from every country and continent, spoken several languages and botched many, but always with a smile on my face, a willingness to try and a keen sense of humor. Those that can laugh at themselves shall never fail to be amused!

Sketching with SketchCrawlers

Just who have I met through Meetups? A shaman from Peru, oncologists and scientists, techno-geeks, George Clooney wannabes, a past life regressionist, salsa kings & queens, movie nerds, bloggers and photographers – everyone´s there! I´ve accumulated good friends from every continent and culture (joy!), interesting job leads and a few eager TEFL English students (work!), a rare date or two (like, not love!), dance partners (joy again!), fellow artists (creativity!) – a colorful worldwide tapestry of friends to share the joys and experiences of life with.

I wish I could say I found love through Meetup, but it’s truly the opposite. I lost my husband through Meetup, in a Meetup that I had organized – how´s that for synchronicity? He met a charismatic new buddy,  a lost boy whose ideas of luring him away from our marriage to the “Pleasure Island” of San Francisco´s glittery, upwardly mobile  social scene culminated in the disastrous destruction our marriage of nearly two decades. Yes, Pinocchio wandered off with stars in his eyes and hope in his heart, but any longings he had to return back  “home” were doomed. As they say in Las Vegas “Elvis has left the building.” – and of course, in this case I am Elvis. Wanderlust and an unquenchable desire to connect with others worldwide, coupled with a healthy dose of courage has replaced the sense of sadness and loneliness I felt after that life-altering course correction.

But honestly, meeting new people, sharing interests and celebrating our common humanity –  isn´t that really the juice? It´s the reason we get off the couch, the reason we dust off our conversation skills, tackle new languages, travel across town or across an ocean, stretching our boundaries to reach out to others in friendship and community. Sharing a laugh or a sorrow in meaningful conversations is always sheer joy, all made possible by a willingness to connect. Grief shared is sorrow halved – and a smile shared – well, it´s priceless! Whether you´re new to town or new to being single, or just aching to become a new YOU – let your fingers do the walking and MeetUp!

“Thou hast made me known to friends whom I know not.
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.  Thou hast brought the distant near
and made a brother of strangers.”  ~ R. Tagore

Poble Español

Poble Español is a classic 1929 “Disneyesque” village by village representation of many of the Spanish towns & villages. It is beautifully preserved, and the best thing about it is that after 8 p.m. it´s only 5€ to get in, and there are several romantic plaza cafés under the stars. Also, several pubs and cafés there have live music – or bring your own!

Poble Español is a classic 1929 “Disneyesque” village by village representation of many of the Spanish towns & villages. It is beautifully preserved, and the best thing about it is that after 8 p.m. it´s only 5€ to get in, and there are several romantic plaza cafés under the stars. Also, several pubs and cafés there have live music – or bring your own!

An Awakened World

Well, blackberries and blueberries were in season, too – so naturally we never left the house without a basket in hand.

An amazing poem that is so pertinent today –

AN AWAKENED WORLD

Imagine a world where land is known simply as Land ~
Not Russia or Africa, Australia or China or America or Antarctica,
Just one glorious graceland of God’s geography.

Imagine a world where people are known simply as People –
Not Indians or Persians, Asians or Americans, Aborigines or Africans,
Just one brilliant bouquet of flowering humanity.

Imagine a world where true religion is known simply as Kindness,
Not only Islam or Buddhism, Hinduism or Judaism, Christianity or Taoism,
Just one great circle of love, honoring all of creation.

Imagine this world often ~
One shifting from overpowering some to empowering all.
A planet evolving from “I love to have,” to “I have to love.”
A world that knows there are no sides
to a globe that is round.

– Diana Loomans

Kindness in all Ways

The Cat Lady of Santa Maria del Mar

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”  – Seneca

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“Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”   – Plato

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“Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion – to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.”   – Albert Einstein

Flower Festival, Spain Style!

Girona Flower Festival 2011

Rambling all day until dark through the streets, cathedrals, plazas and hills of Girona for the annual Flower Festival…
Click here to join me for a walk through the festival –
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150232262261869.371599.756531868&l=6dad7b24b9

1929 World Exposition site – Barcelona, Spain

Poble Español on the site of the 1929 Int’l Exposition, the home of one of my other fav attractions, the Magic Fountain. Poble Español was made as a “Disneyland-esque” representation of the various cities and regions of Spain – you can wander through the Plaza Major in Madrid, see the Moorish tower of Zaragosa, the streets of Seville.

The Magic Fountain built in 1929

 One day, I went for a walk. Just above the main Palau are two gated entrances, but that day – they were surprisingly open! A new adventure awaits! The entrance leads past a guardhouse and into the grounds of the Palau Abeniz, which apparently is another building created in 1929 for the Expo – a palace, really – that now only houses the King & Queen of Spain when they’re in town. The grounds are peppered with statues, mostly of women in common poses, but not just typical statues – these gals have curves! (like me!) The grounds are lovingly cared for, with fountains gushing and flowing similar to La Granja.

This “remnant” of the 1929 Int’l Expo reminds me of why I lived here. When I lived in SanFran, it was always my obsession to imagine myself walking through the 1939 Expo on Treasure Island, and it made me sad to look across the bay at the island which had been denuded of nearly all of the trappings of the Expo – destroyed or removed by the Navy once they took over the island in 1940. But this Expo lies just across the road from me, and it’s buildings, sculptures, gardens – its essence – is still there. This is the attraction to this lovely city, this beautiful place. The romance and draw of the Expo and the energy of its past is still alive there, and it is magical to me. The wonder of seeing the Magic Fountain (an amazing techno wonder of its time!), wandering the hillside gardens, enjoying the tucked away delight of the café at the Font del Gat – it is all still alive to me. Now I am two blocks away from the site of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition, held in the (then) newly created Balboa Park.

It makes the Time Traveler in me DREAM… I walk back home, sort of in fog of imagination wondering what it would have been like to have been here in 1929. How funny the circle of life is! To go from living just across the San Francisco Bay from Treasure Island, to this amazing place where the buildings, the wonder, the essence of a World Expo still lives. What joy! It makes me ponder if I indeed will ever need move again. I love to travel, but the connection to this place is ingraining itself more and more each day.

 

 

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