think of it as a letter….insufficient postage and all… (3/08)

May 23rd, 2010 Comments Off

i’d like to give a nod to the ever so charming, dependable, essential and mysterious leap day.  where fitzgerald romanticizes the longest day of the year as offering refuge with its extra hours of sunlight….i see it only promising tomorrow will be darker.  i am a fan of leap day.  she gives, promising nothing but to give again.  there is a certain generosity about a leap year.   with its gift of  the intercalary day gently nestled in the otherwise predictable calendar.  she was inserted to harmonize the calendar with the solar year.  what a poetic purpose to have…harmonizing with the solar year.  without these sweet little packages of an extra 24 hours appearing every 4 years what chaos would our lives be thrown into?  she materializes….she harmonizes…and reliable as they come reappears 4 years later when in her absence… apparently all hell would break loose.  i celebrate that clear concise objective in life that leaves room for years of backstory to unfold.  some of me feels the day itself has the luxury of las vegas.  whatever happens on leap day disappears the moment it can no longer be seen filling  a solid square box on the proverbial calendar of our life.  so, what did i do on this jackpot of a day?  I’m sure i can’t recall at this time.   but i know i didn’t buy an umbrella.

in this country i’m learning about “absorption.” mine of the language and that of the paper products seem to be of similar quality.  they may be trying but it’s really not getting the job done.  it seems the napkins are one step away from lined notebook paper and the fabric made to wash dishes actually repels water.  which is good to know as i have mentioned i do not have an umbrella.  it broke in the gales of england and i couldn’t persuade myself to spend 80 pounds on a new one.  i figured i’d pick one up for 2 pesos in argentina.  while it has been raining on and off the past week i still have yet to get one.
i’ve always been a fan of the rain. from the light mists possible in the san francisco area (where you weren’t sure if it was just the breeze blowing the ocean in from the bay or drops actually falling from the clouds in the sky) to the 2:30 opening of the heavens in el yunque.   a place so heavy and ripe with fertility and life you are overwhelmed with the thought of walking in mother nature’s womb.  in the wilderness of puerto rico the roosters would crow incessantly, almost 24 hours.   thinking, apparently, every moment was a chance at a new day.   but inevitably, at 2:30, they rested…and it rained.  calling into question if they were really roosters or some sort of rain warriors crying to the skies for our daily baptism and redemption.

i will not say no to a gracious gentleman (and yes it is always a man) offering to share his umbrella. i certainly am not seeking the sanctuary they supply.  so, yesterday as no man or woman was on the street the rain teased on and off for an hour as i jumped over puddles finding shelter in sporadic awnings.  i was walking the opposite direction down a one way street where every bus going by would have taken me further from home.  granted i could have walked one block west to the buses heading in my direction or jumped in any one of the numerous cabs that passed (some even slowing…some even honking to make sure i saw them) but what would that have gotten me?  dry and home?   i didn’t need to be home and i was already wet….so ta-ra-ra-boom-dea i continued.   although, i was suspicious of the trees as they seemed to be revived by  the rain and flexing there new strength.  branches i had easily passed under on the way to the cafe now hovered so low to the ground i practically had to crawl under them.  it was a bit unnerving, fearing that in their new proud state they would see me as a mere mortal and swallow me whole.  this was not the case.  i am happy to say the trees remained free of carnivorous urges.  and what is as likely as trees eating humans?…me joining facebook.

i joined facebook.  it was primarily because  so many folks were asking for pictures.  endless number of people telling me  i should… and then alfredo… you said you had your paintings posted…or did i just hear that?  anyway i fell for it and joined.   there are moments in my life when i really would cave to any request i feel so dispassionate one way or the other. hopefully i don’t have any tells to when those times may occur.  i can just imagine that information getting into the wrong hands and all of a sudden i’ve purchased a miniature horse farm in the alps.

to those of you who are always impressed by my gramma and her emailing me or using phone cards, with more complex codes, pin numbers and spanish speaking prompts then the the cuban missile crisis, she has joined facebook.  i can’t give you her name because she is afraid someone (any one of you really) will steal her identity and then either make off with her money or go around posting indecent material under her assumed name.  did i mention that she actually is using someone else’s name… her fear is so great.  isn’t it gramma?  she doesn’t really want to see how many friends/thumbnail photos she can accrue she just wants to see my pictures.  so, people who write on my wall…keep it clean (unless it is spanish or icelandic). gramma only puts up with the trash talk  when it’s coming from me.  isn’t unconditional love one of the greatest concepts man felt the need to name?  if you say no i won’t love you anymore.

thank you to all the patina providers…my thirst has been quenched.

flights, nights, and super sights…there are no rhymes contained in this long email…i promise (2/08)

May 15th, 2010 Comments Off

orford knows how to say goodbye…and i’m not talking about the “bugger off” i received my first 3 weeks.  i’m speaking of my official farewell.  as with most languages it’s the rules attached to the formal and informal that can be so tricky. the monthly sea shanty sing along happened the evening before i left.  there were a few new faces (to me).  this time a former violinist from the london philharmonic happened to be back in town and a 65 year old woman with a voice as lush, soft and rolling as the fields of ireland played the fiddle and bared a green mandolin tattoo on her right forearm.    charlie, a winker by nature and a former sailor by profession, sang “peach pickin in georgia.”  a tribute to my departure and georgia roots.  (one state is just as good as another there.)

one thought as i left the lovely countryside for warmer climates….my legs…they were the color of milk.  they had successfully avoided the sun since my november 20th exit from africa. i had fears of lactose intolerant south americans recoiling in disgust.  especially, since a few weeks prior a dear friend told me someone she knew was looking sickly.  while i care about her friend’s health it was the way she worded the said “sickliness” that concerned me more.  “you know the way you look after a week on the beach…that’s what she looked like.”  proving…you see…one person’s week at the beach can be another person’s death door.  i didn’t mention my friend, rosa, by name because she certainly didn’t mean anything by calling me out on my swiss heritage and blatantly whacking me over the head with the fact she is fortunate to live on an island where, unlike manhattan,  it’s a beach day everyday.  (her friend is fine and healthy and has returned to “normal” coloring… and as you can see i took no umbrage.)

my first time on south american soil was less then awe inspiring.  the sao paulo airport left much to be desired and after 24 hours of travel i was practically a lump with few requests to sustain my sleep walking state. but, at 3,800 feet sao paulo is magical.  the lights of the city appear as constellations….scattered and clustered in mounds of varying sizes and shapes.  which makes landing an mc escher experience where you feel as if the sky below you is getting closer and closer until you are about to land directly on orion’s belt.  landing in buenos aires is more like a lit up grid of the board game battle ship. a pulsating mondrian.

i have to say i’m disturbed and flummoxed by movies with doris day getting on a plane wearing a pillbox  hat, white gloves, heels and a pencil skirt only to arrive at her destination in the same zip-locked condition. not to mention they allowed smoking on planes in those days.   i am completely incapable of this celluloid fete.   yes,  i realize it is a film but it challenges the eternal realist in me none the less (it really did bother me that the “golden girls” woke up in the middle of the night with full make up and hair…i’m just that kind of person).  now, that being said i am fully aware i’ve never gotten off a plane anywhere near ms. day’s pristine/fictional state.  so, after 30 hours of travel the extremely lovely couple i am renting from met me at my apartment at 3:30 am. where they very sweetly handed me the keys  as i pushed them out the door i had just crawled practically comatose through.  the next day i saw them both again only to be told that on a second viewing they both agreed i really was quite lovely.  apparently, if i have to choose between 2 continents, 3 flights, 30 hours of recycled air or meeting people after a good rest and shower i should always opt for the latter.  note to self: no blind dates in airports.  i know some of you have seen me after 10 days in the puerto rican jungle or 2 weeks in scrubs.  i do have to say this particular journey tops both.

to answer the question so many have been asking. how am i getting along language wise in beautiful buenos aries:
1.    i actually don’t remember half as much spanish as i thought
•    it seems those italians were all lying to me
•    in reality i have occasional linguistic amnesia of sorts (more below)
2.   no one here (that i’ve met) speaks english fluently (except my land lord and a brit who knew i  was a gemini from a block away)
3.   i’m doing fabulously
examples of my ability to survive (besides me typing this).  i’m riding buses, reading maps, ordering food, going to movies. my landlord split off from me in search of a table at the calcuttaesque bus station as we waited for his girlfriend. i waved him over since i had found and claimed a table.  then he gave me the look i thought was reserved for babies that were left immobile on their back one second and when you turned around again they were sitting in the corner.  “how’d you do that?”  i’m sure it is a coincidence that it is always men giving me the look after completely seemingly simple tasks. the women on the other hand speak so rapidly and then look at me as i blink, catch up, and give one word grammatically incorrect answers.  they expect a lot more.  i have met several people who are eager to practice there english with me….so either i will return with a little bit better grasp on my trusty spanish or speaking remedial english. if languages were animals spanish would be a steed: bred in nobility but with a workhorse mentality not too proud to get dirty, most content when left to roam at its own pace, a creature of resourcefulness stamina and every once in a while a little too speedy for this cowgirl.  that’s the language update.

if you’ve ever wondered where buttons go when they slip from your sweaters and you look down to be greeted by stray threads where there once proudly stood a clever addition to your attire.  i found them.  they’re happy and i won’t be bringing them back.  bins, buckets, strand after strand of vintage buttons that most certainly migrated the entire world, have come to rest in san telmo, buenos aires at the weekend market. 1/3 of the consumers are tourist so some are sure to cross a few borders again. buttons dangling from booths… a shangri-la of distraction hanging in rows like beads at the entrance of an opiate den.
buttons from children’s sweaters with bright primary colors and raised animals of all species families and orders: zebras, giraffes, kittens, horses, lions, apes
buttons where tiny sea horses  ride in amber waves.
buttons bearing flags that never waved but stood prostrate in plastic.
some were separated by size. pea to full on baseball orbs (seeming completely nonfunctioning and impractical… but i wanted one none the less).  others had them categorized by color: cream, ivory, peach, crimson, teals.  then of course the few that had them sub categorized color then size.  my favorite booths, to some who walked by must have seemed overwhelmingly chaotic with disorder,  had crushed purple velvet saucers dwarfing peach leather quarter sized  buttons. it looked like a children’s birthday party… but one an actual child decorated.  i wanted to make a floor length gown of black rose buttons with pearly pink pleats and one cleverly hidden zipper. but instead i bought a necklace which beside being stunning is held together with fish wire and a hook clasp.   sensible  if i should be out on the town and then in need of catching my own dinner. which i believe all woman should be prepared to do.
i also  bought a pair of sunglasses that intimidate my old ones. which i’ve loved for years after acquiring them when my friend austin was cleaning out  his apartment.  the scavenger i am just happened to be standing between him and a trash bin.  they could be eaten by these new shades so large are they to behold.  they swallow half my face.  i love it.

i’ve been dying to use the word patina all day.  i’ve kept my eyes peeled for the opportunity to arise and…. nothing patinaesque in the least.  i’d love to hear if someone ran into anything patinaesque to share…maybe just reading it it will be adequate for the time being.

non sequitur of the day: i kid you not folks i was drinking a soda at the pub when i read this in the london times. “intelligent people are at a higher risk of suffering from alcohol problems then their less gifted friends.  a study by the Medical Research Council has found women, in particular, are more likely to drink heavily in their thirties if they are bright.”  what a way to prove your genius.
cheers leah
p.s:  wow!  if you made it this far you are either a very generous spirit, care about me to some degree or are extremely bored.  i will take advantage of any and all.

in new york i worked with a fantastic team of documentary film makers.  it so happens that the film crew is now working on a project in the dominican republic on clean water.  they have been bringing down donated baseball gloves to the children they are working with on this production.  if you have an old glove tucked in some closet they could find a nice home for it….if not you should check out the pictures.  the link to the pictures and work they are doing is below.

this can not be viewed on youtube… it must be read..and is extremely long…(2/08)

May 2nd, 2010 Comments Off

…it is at times funny and in several instances includes finely crafted made up words with more then 2 syllables.
spring is in the air…..i wanted to take pictures of a field of snow drops this morning. i passed them yesterday after visiting highland cattle.  which were gorgeous by the way.  when i asked if the people had more than the 2 animals i saw on the rolling green field.  i was told by my tour guide in no uncertain terms the highlanders (that is most assuredly not what you call them but this is not the only example of my animal ineptness displayed on this page). the highlanders were only purchased as proof the owners could afford 2 such exotic beasts.  these hirsute creatures of lethargy had a 180 degree view of iken cliff.  the cliff was named such (a cliff) because it does not align evenly with the shore.  i’m not a geologist but if one were to fling themselves from this cliff they would be nothing more than terribly muddy and extremely embarrassed.  in my unprofessional opinion a more precise name would be the “iken watch out for the slight dip or you might stub your toe…vantage point.”  but more the accurate ability to name persons/places/things later.

so, i was heading out for some tea before my spring flower picture taking stroll.  which as well as making me sound like miss marple had me thinking about a conversation i had yesterday (pre highlander visit).   over tea a smartly dressed older architect from london was speaking in great esteem of the woman i am renting from in the village.  she is quite lovely and at the age of 80  has yet to surrender her blonde hair dye.  she wears these brilliant red and yellow jumpers and lipstick the moment she wakes up.  agreeing with the man wholeheartedly i glanced down at the jeans, rain boots, and black sweater that has become my uniform in the past weeks and added, “she puts in more effort than i do.”  his response,”well obviously.”    it seems in youth such carelessness is charming.  since i take all things old men wearing ascots say to heart i wore my rain boots, jeans, black sweater…and my new coat from cambridge as i headed out.

i was walking down the path when a car approached driven by a woman who works at the pub.  she asked me if she could show me something.  i jumped in eager to see this mystical magical something.  she told me she had two new lambs that were 24 hours old.  before i could blink she picked one up and thrust it at me with such force (i have not had lamb shoved at me so aggressively and with such intensity since i told my butcher i gave up red meat.)  now…i think that birth is a miracle and all but i didn’t want that so called miracle all over my new cambridge coat.  as you would assume the mother did not see 24 hours as adequate time to fully cleanse away the miracle of birth after having twins.  personally i don’t find the carelessness of youth as charming as sherlock holmes did yesterday.

complete non sequitur (what isn’t in my emails)
yesterday, after 6 weeks here, the historically factual recounting of the merman was shared.  i know it is not a mystical tale of unsubstantiated folklore because most of it takes place in the church.  it seems 200 years ago locals caught a merman in a net down at the quay.  after trying to get him to speak and explain his existence and where he came from they hung him upside down in the church. which of course is up there with brandy on the list of things known to make people chatter away.  he remained silent.  he was placed in the mote of the castle and escaped back to the sea.  my smartly dressed landlordess said the only reason he would not talk was he most likely  was…. a seal.  the townfolk’s medical expertise seems not to have advanced much since mermen/seals were persecuted for there unwillingness to speak.  i have been consistently told by the random orfordian that my consumption of
1. guinness (which has hit an all time high)
2. strong coffee
3. rum soaked cakes
will put hair on my chest.  to be safe and avoid being strung up in the church bell tower after being mistaken for a talking sheep i am about to depart england.  don’t know if i will have wifi access at my place in buenos aires but  if you don’t want to be included in the mass email updates of my travels my feelings will not be hurt…your car tires might…but my feelings won’t.  no really just let me know and i’ll make sure you do not get the next update on tango lessons in buenos aires and my photographer landlord whose last exhibition was entitled “abducted.”  things are gonna be a little different.

they call that a match (1/08)

May 2nd, 2010 Comments Off

well, i saw a rugby match…it is officially time for me to leave england.  if i would have seen the players before i heard them i might actually have thought it was some sort of later then usual christmas pageant.  which since orford is on its own clock would not be strange.  the teams were quite festive to behold in red and green uniforms. but as i said i heard them first. i was cutting through the churchyard on this blessed sunday heading to the town square and decided to walk the three blocks to the playing field (which i didn’t know existed… but only had to follow such expletives that i can not repeat here to find it.)  little baby jesus would not have appreciated the tribute.

being that my sports fanaticism is at the level it is and i am a guest in this lovely country i don’t think it is entirely fair of me to say they were bad….but they weren’t good.  here is my version of the sports page.
green team:  angry group of men known for very vulgar language and yelling at: a) the opposing team, b) the ref, c) their fellow team mates (and i’m not sure but i think the one guy was yelling at the little girl with the baby carriage).  on bums quite frequently which often led to being injured and/or walking “it” off.  goalie quite possibly insane or in need of a lengthy time period with both massive medication and intensive anger management classes
red team: winning

so of course i follow this by heading to an anniversary party for the people i am renting the cottage from.  they have been married 60 years!  actually they were married in early december but as i said orford  is on it’s own schedule.

Operation Smile

May 2nd, 2010 Comments Off

kickstarter supporters

May 2nd, 2010 Comments Off

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