Sunday, October 3, 2010

Here's What I Know About Spain

    These are merely my observations. Rick Steves, I'm not.

  • In Madrid birds chirp to notify you when to cross the street; we were on our own in Barcelona.
  • There doesn't appear to be as many people speaking English as other European countries.
  • They really don't use washcloths and you can't buy them in stores...we tried. We bought a hand towel and cut it in half. How do they remove their make-up?
  • I think every Spaniard more second hand smoke there than I did when Tom was puffing away three packs a day.
  • They wear white after Labor Day. Since there is no Labor Day that I know of in Spain, I guess that doesn't apply to them. Makes sense.

  • They eat every part of the cow, fish, pig, chicken, and ox, including brains and tail...really. I probably left out some of the parts...I just couldn't deal with it.

  • Expect to wait at least thirty minutes for the bill in the restaurants after you've asked for it...they are in no hurry.

  • The universal reply after you asked them if they speak Ingles, "A little."

  • There are AT LEAST two restaurants in every block.
  • If you're driving, getting out of Barcelona is a heck of a lot easier than getting in...makes New York look tame.

  • Almost every apartment has a beautiful balcony.

  • Water is served in glass bottles more than plastic...Spain's going green.

  • They really do eat dinner late in the evening.

  • There is no ranch dressing in Spain, it's olive oil and vinegar or nada.

  • Just as in Italy, their daily objective is to try to run over a tourist with their cycles.

  • They double park when and where they want I said, they're in no hurry.
  • Iberian ham is served all day...salty and tough, but when you're hungry it tastes mustard though, when asked for it, the reply, "No habla Ingles."
  • Spanish women have beautiful skin.
  • Spanish women OF ALL AGES wear leggings or tights, and of course, the ubiquitous neck scarf!
  • Chips are served with wine in Madrid.

  • Spaniards are more than willing to give directions when asked but if you follow them you'll be in worse shape than when you started.

There you have it. In case you're wondering, Madrid was my favorite city. It might be because our apartment was located in the old part of town with lots of character and a convenience store across the street, or it could be because I like to be alerted by chirping birds when it's time to cross the street. Really.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday in Madrid, Part III

Soon it was time for lunch. As soon as everyone was up and at'em we began our trek to a restaurant that was recommended by Fodors. Just as we were making a left turn onto Gran Via, I noticed barricades along the avenue. Being the inqusitive type, I threw my body over the railing, almost falling on my head to see what was approaching. There were zillions of policia on motorcycles making all kinds of racket, and convertibles with people standing up waving. I think they were the sponsors. I still didn't get it, but soon it became apparent what was about to occur because I almost got my head knocked off by a flying bicycle. There were hundreds of them.

Here was the leader.

Here came the rest of the group.

See what I mean? They almost got me!

There they go!

This went on for several hours. People stayed and cheered and I went into the restaurant. I have no idea who won. I even got a paper today (Monday) to see the winner. Couldn't make heads of tails of it. I'm taking the paper home with me so someone can translate and I won't be in suspense. I hope it's the guy in blue..mainly because I got so many good shots of him. I'll keep you posted.

More later.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Morning in Madrid, Part II

Bless her heart, it was an older woman who became ill. No traffic accident, no guns and no fights. In the middle of all of this mess, I dressed quickly and dashed down the stairs and spoke with the police and asked him what happened. He told me in plain english that the woman had become ill. No car crash, no guns, and no fights. I still think something is fishy. Two ambulances?

After my conversation with the police, I wandered down to the corner where the motley crowd was hanging out. I saw a woman who I had seen earlier hanging out in front of our building. This time she emerged from an apartment building around the corner mumbling stuff in least I think it was spanish. I heard her say something about loco. She wasn't happy. She had her suitcase dragging behind her. I didn't say a word to her...afraid she would knock my lights out.

As I was recovering from this fiasco, I noticed people walking towards our building.It looked like a tour bus had just dropped off fifty or so people. By now it was almost noon and I soon figured out that these smartly dressed people were going to the church next to the hair salon next to our building. I took more photos. This was after church.
These two kids just went to mass. Looks like they got a lot out of it. Bless their little hearts. Going home. Time to get dressed and go to lunch.You aren't going to believe what happened next.

Sunday Morning in Madrid

So there I was eating my chocolate croissant and drinking a coke (my favorite breakfast) in our apartment as Janie, Dennis, and Shirley slept. It was 10:00 a.m. As I opened our windows I gazed down to the street and to my amazement saw an ambulance and two police cars. Soon I sprang into action. Being a closet photojournalist, I grabbed my camera and established my perch on the balcony. Just as I started clicking away, another ambulance appeared. Hum. I looked to my right and saw a few men standing on the corner looking to their right. Was there an accident? There was a lot of conversation going on between the medics and the police. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but if I could hear it, I wouldn't understand it anyway. Oh well. These people were in no hurry, so I figured that either someone was dead or someone wasn't that badly injured. My neighbor across the street, a nice Cambodian man was also witnessing the incident. He owns the small store across the street where I buy my daily coke, "One euro por favor." "Gracias." We talk a lot. During this incident, we didn't establish eye contact. I was in my robe and maybe it's against their custom to look at some crazy woman standing on a balcony in her robe with a camera in hand.

To let you know who and if someone was in the ambulance, here's what happened next.

Because I am using a netbook in a foreign country, the service is sllllllooooowwww. So I will try to finish this blog in the next post.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mystery Continues

On a recent trip to Charlotte, I met with Jennifer, a former classmate from Huntington High School. We hadn’t seen each other for twenty years, since our twenty-fifth class reunion, but we had talked on the phone several times. As we were talking she noticed on my right hand I was wearing my class ring. I had been wearing it for the last ten years, mainly because I thought it was beautiful and quite unusual as class rings go, and to be honest, I could finally get it back on my finger!

As our forty-fifth reunion approaches, Jennifer, who by now had scoured her condo and eventually found her ring, thought it would be interesting if we (that means me) could find some research on our rings. Two of the most important questions were, “Who designed the ring,” and “Who was the first class to wear it?” I tried to find the answers. I contacted Herff-Jones who sold our rings and got no reply except to tell me who the sales rep is in my area. You probably wonder how I knew it was Herff-Jones. As I was looking for old high school pictures, I found the envelope that my ring came in. Unbelievable. Thank God mother kept my mementos. Who knew forty-five years ago, thanks to Jennifer, I would be searching for clues about the ring? I also contacted many of our classmates from the class of ’65 on Facebook. They knew nothing. Things were not looking good. I was coming to a dead end.

Dick Tracy I’m not, and furthermore, living in Atlanta has tied my hands. I don’t have access to the Cabell County Board of Education’s archives, nor can I scour the microfiche at the Huntington Public Library. After talking with my sister, Janie and my friend, Barbara, all I can ascertain is this. I have my mother’s ring that is slightly different from mine. Her design has an H in the center with the year at the bottom of the oval. She graduated in 1919.

Another friend, Betty, has her mother’s ring who graduated in 1929. Judging from her description, the design seemed to change and include the image of our school in the center. Barbara’s mother graduated in 1939 and has the same design as my sister’s who graduated in 1957. My sister “loaned” hers to one of her boyfriends who consequently smashed it in a baseball game. Although it’s not in her possession, she assured me that our rings were of the same design except the year of their graduation is both at the bottom of the oval and on the sides. My ring has the image of Huntington High in the center and the year of our graduation is on the side, 1965. So sometime between 1919 and 1929 the new design was adopted, but when and by whom?

My diligence has come to an end. I’m giving up and throwing in the towel. Sadly, I have come to the realization that there is a strong possibility that our questions will never be answered. So I suppose they will go down in the annals of history and added to the list of other equally important questions from 1965, such as: “Did Sloopy hang on?,” “Who wrote the book of love?,” “Did Rhonda ever help?,” “What was the same old song?,” “Who won the name game?,” “Was the lovin’ feeling ever found?,” and finally, “What really went on under the boardwalk down by the sea?” Ponder this people, ponder this.

Authors Note:
Even though the origin of our rings remains a mystery, Jennifer and I will be wearing our rings this weekend. My friends Penny and Barbara won’t. Penny lost hers in the ocean. Barbara lost hers at the beach, but she has her mother’s, so she’ll probably wear hers. Other classmates, Alice, Barbara L., Toni and Tia still have theirs. I wonder if they’ll wear them to the reunion.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Age Spots and Belly Fat

I admit it. These are two of my many flaws. It's so sad. And as you know my reunion is fast approaching and I'm concerned about them. I have to do something.

Two age spots are on my face and one on my neck. They look like giant freckles. When I was younger I though it would be great if all of my freckles blended together but that never happened. Now many years later, I'm faced with this delimma. So today I took action and went to the dermatologist. He was kind enough not to refer to them as age spots; he was compassionate and called them PRE-CANCEROUS. He mumbled something as he took a cotton swab and dabbed something on my face and neck that felt like a combination of acid and hot wax. He warned that it might sting a little. Sting? I wasn't brave; I don't like pain. When he treated the spot on my neck, I swear I thought it was burning through to my throat and I just knew I would have to have a tracheotomy. The good doctor assured me that they would dry up and fall off before the reunion. They better. His parting words were, "Don't pick." A man of few words.

Then there is the issue of belly fat. I've heard that this happens to middle-aged women, but when did I turn middle-aged? This kinda snuck up on me. I want to wear my white linen pants, but I think they might be too tight. Breathing is very important to me and it might be compromised if I don't do something about what is often called, "muffin top." I get it.

So to solve this problem I bought this.

A hula hoop. Not just any hula hoop. This is weighted and holds water. There are other hoops at Sports Authority but those are seriously weighted, so much so that I could break my ribs if I let that contraption circle my waist. The duck tape is helping to hold it together and to keep it from leaking.

Now all I have to do it re-learn how to actually hula hoop and find some serious make-up just in case the spots don't fall off.

Thank goodness for class reunions. They make us take stock of our bodies and our lives, don't they?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Twenty Days and Counting

Another high school reunion is fast approaching. Conversations are often the same, "So Nancy, what have you been up to?," they will ask. With that in mind, I started thinking about what I've accomplished in the past five years. So here's what I've come up with in no particular order: become seriously interested in photography ("When does a hobby become an obsession?," my sister asks. "When I spend $600. on a lens," I answer.), joined Facebook, taken three photography classes at the Showcase School, taken four on-line photography classes at Kennesaw State, started volunteering at my local elementary school and stopped, spent over four hours hanging out under the Brooklyn Bridge taking hundreds of images while my hungry husband waited patiently... God, I love him,

worked as an extra in a television show (Drop Dead Diva), started writing this blog, spent two weeks traveling around Provence with my sister and brother-in-law,

figured out how to download songs according to the beat onto my iPod for walking, started an on-line shop on Etsy, done several art shows, planted lavender that actually lived, painted our front staircase in black and white, designed my own web page (in html no less...okay, I'm bragging), went to the Oprah Show in the middle of winter and got Gore's DVD instead of a car :(, went to NYC on a girl's trip with my three of my long-time friends, lost two friends to cancer, saw the Chihuly exhibit at both the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the New York Botanical Gardens,

visited my niece's fourth grade class in Brooklyn and almost killed one student, joined a Bible study at church...still with it, started taking YOGA classes...absolutely HATE the plank pose, began a life-long study of Photoshop, really, and bought my first pair of Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers in RED!

That just about sums up my life for the past five years. I'm ready for the reunion. So tell me, what have you been up to?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's A Jungle Out There

The other morning as I was returning home from a morning walk, this is what was parked in the driveway. Not being a nature lover and having a serious fear of reptiles, I was in a tizzy. Although I admit that I have zero to no nurturing in my being, I did feel somewhat sorry for the turtle; it was hot and she was in the sun with no water in sight.
Before getting water, I did what any other blogger would to get the camera. I don't know why I broke my neck to get it in seconds, I was dealing with a turtle. By the time I returned she had moved maybe two inches. This turtle was shy. I had to sneek up on it to get this shot. She was kinda cute.
My next move was to get the water. Because she was so low to the ground, I had to find something shallow. A lid! I border on genius. I also had to confine the reptile until I could decide on my next step. I found a wire basket that normal people use to store sweaters in those closet systems, but I had used it to cover daisies as they were growing to keep them from being the rabbits' lunch. Again, genius.

Next I had to deal with the sun. Got an umbrella and positioned it over the basket. I know, it's overwhelming.

After I got her comfortable I called Barbara and gave her a quick update. She mentioned that I might want to give her some lettuce. Done. She was starting to pout.

Now she was really pouting. Bless her heart, she kept trying to get out of her new home by banging her head against the basket. By this time I was exhaused. After an hour or so I decided that she had to go.

I called and begged my neighbor, Lee, who has two wonderful boys, to adopt this creature. She really didn't want to, but as luck would have it, one of her boys overheard our conversation and started to beg. Lee caved. She offered to come later that afternoon. Actually her two sons, Garrett and Evan, ended up walking over with a shoe box in tow. I didn't hear them, I must have been napping from the exhausing day, so I went over to her house and took this shot. Aren't they handsome? They had already done research and told me that it was a female box turtle. Handsome and smart...the boys, not the turtle.

After saying my goodbyes, I took one final shot. She was still pouting. After all I've done for her and that's the thanks I got. She was one ungrateful turtle.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Look Who's Moved In!

Earlier this month I noticed a lot of activity among our bird population going on outside the kitchen window. There is a shade attached to the window frame that we use when it gets Africa hot here in Atlanta. Because we were having company over Memorial Day I rolled the shade up and forgot to unroll it until it was too late. This is what I saw as I was trying to get to the bottom of all of the racket going on. It appeared to be the beginning of a bird's nest. Not being much of a bird lover, I was all for unrolling the welcome mat, but Tom with his new found affection to feathered creatures, unbeknownst to me, thought we should keep it up, thus encouraging the invasion.

So twenty-five days later we have newborns. This morning momma bird and daddy bird were besides themselves signaling to anyone within five miles that their babies had arrived. I'm getting no peace.
God love 'em, but does anyone know how long it will take before they set sail? Here's the thing of it: I know it's not all about me, but really, it's as hot as blue blazes and I need my shade back.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Eye on Composition was the title of my last photography class. As you can probably guess, we focused on the rules of composition, you know, like color, leading lines, depth, scale, and the rule of thirds to name a few. As I studied the images that I shot during the six week period, I discovered that I seem to gravitate to the rule called symmetry. This surprises me because I like to think that I am very non-traditional and occasionally like to buck the rules. Some call it living "out of the box."

I think I like to venture "out of the box," but I suppose shooting "out of the box" is kinda risky. Every time take a "funky" shot or try to make it "funky" with the help of Photoshop, my husband and friends don't like it. Okay there was one shot that I took at the beach that was definitely OOTB (out of the box) and my friend, Karen, liked I gave it to her.

To me, symmetry is calm and expected. It is what it is. I consider it "in the box." That can be boring, so I try to add some excitement in post-processing. The image below was shot at Piedmont Park in Atlanta this spring. Our instructor said that reflections are almost always symmetrical, so I found the lake and shot it. If I had cropped it right under the water line, it wouldn't have been symmetrical, but you already know that. This image still needs some work, but you get the picture.

The next image was taken behind a restaurant situated on the Chattahoochee River. To take this shot I had to venture "out of the box," meaning that my "grip" (Karen) and I had to sneak around the back of the property and hope no one was there. It was Memorial Day and thankfully the restaurant was closed. This is the front of a huge leaf on a plant that I have no idea what it is. All I know is that it's another example of symmetry.

So here's what I think. I'm confused when it comes to thinking and living. I think OOTB, but most of the time I live ITB. It's so sad.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Back to Bluffton

To get ready for my next photography class, I started going through old images searching for those that got lost in the "art show" confusion. When I choose images for shows, I select images that I think would appeal to the general public. I guess I didn't think these would be popular, so they didn't make the cut.

This image was obviously ignored because of the exposure. Way too dark. I know with Photoshop that this image could be lightened but I guess I wasn't that interested in "messing with it." It was a cloudy day in Bluffton, South Carolina, but that didn't stop me from taking hundreds of pictures.
After brightening the image, I could actually see the moss and ivy as it twisted around the old oak tree. The image still looks dull.
Still determined to save this image, I used a technique using layers, curves and finally filters. It is amazing what Photoshop can do.

Here it is in black and white, but I like the color image better.

So before class begins on April 27th, I'll be searching my files for forgotten images. I think I'm finished with trees. Wonder what's next?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cherry Grove

So there I was on the pier at Cherry Grove taking about a zillion images of the beach and the cottages when I spotted a wedding taking place on the beach. It was a beautiful day for a wedding; there was a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky. I hadn't seen a wedding on the beach for years, not since little Mary K got married years ago, so I thought I'd just watch for a while. The longer I watched, the more I laughed. I couldn't help it. Then I started taking pictures because I knew this was going to be a post on my blog.

Remember this was the middle of March and the beach was not crowded. Most of the people behaved as though this happened all of the time. I guess they were trying to mind their own business and not intrude. People continued to walk their dogs and play in the sand. But there was one man who was not going to let a little thing like a WEDDING stop him from what he had on his list to do that for metal, i.e. gold! For the sake of anonymity, let's just call him Floyd.

Here's Floyd at the beginning of the ceremony. Trying to act nonchalant, as if nothing is going on. But wait, there's more.

He continues his quest for gold. If you want to know more about this "hobby," go to

Then he moved...and woke up!

He stops for a minute to watch the proceedings.

Floyd realized that this was going to take longer that he wanted to wait. The ceremony was over, but the picture-taking began. He figured there was no way he would be able to search that area so he starts to leave.
Bless his heart. Bye Floyd, you made my day.

Meanwhile back at the ceremony...I'm not getting this shot. One, she's getting her dress wet, and two, does she really want a shot of her back side?

I'll bet they're trying to figure out how to get those people out of their 2011 Christmas card shot.

This is the last image I shot before racing off to find Floyd. I think I might trade my camera for a metal detector. On the other hand, I'm getting kinda good at sneaking around so I might look into private investigating. So much to ponder.