Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not giving up my day job!

During the past 12 months Giz has been coming to our apartment every so often, while we are at work to develop her portfolio for her art class. She is at the New York School on 8th St. We went to an opening of an exhibition she had in February and loved what she had done thus far. In order to graduate from her class she needs to have a final exhibition. She's using the sketches and paintings she did of the views from our windows as her body of work for the exhibition.

It's on next week and she still has things to finish. She had an idea about one corner of her painting which was hands holding a newspaper against purple trousered legs. So on Tuesday night she came to our place and I was her"model". She was only here for about 20mintues long enough to rearrange the furnitrue, do some quick sketches, have a quick chat and then off to more painting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It happens sometimes

There are some trips on the subway that are joyous and exciting and interesting and then there are others that are downright frightening. Today's journey fell closer to the frightening end rather than the joyous.
It was okay until I changed to the express N train. We pulled out of canal street and a very drunk and fruity aroma-d homeless guy lurched down the carriage apologizing as he made his way toward the next carriage moving pinball like from pole to pole. He opened the door and stepped on to the platform between carriages and stopped there!
Everyone in the carriage exchanged looks for a range of reasons. If he couldn't manage walking down the carriage how was he going to stay on the platform between carriages. Why was he staying there- aahhh the bathroom! Thank goodness he chose to "go" out there. But as the express train continued on its speedy way we were all a tad concerned for his welfare. Would he fall?
Others were more concerned about the stench and moved along and away in the carriage as the aroma wafted through. I kept glancing in the direction worried he would fall any second when he finally made his way back into the carraige he started berating me saying "what you looking at ya interfering white b***h". So I decided that retreat was the better part of valour and as we pulled in to the 14th St station I swapped carriages and arrived home safely, if a tad edgy!

Enthusiasm run wild

As if I don't have enough to do I have decided to create a new additional blog. This one is my Sunday Soiree. Why did I create "Celia's Sunday Soiree"?
A few things have brought it about (all one entry!). I was reading the Artful Blogger magazine on my flight back to NYC and one person mentioned about being "artful" in different ways, another mentioned about soirees and I started thinking about how I used to have my soirees as a principal.
Celia's Soiree came about at Ascot Vale Primary School as a result of a conversation I had with some girls. The girls had been in trouble for bullying one of the other kids and aftr discussion we decied that the best way for them to apologize was to make and "apology cake". While the girls and I were whipping up a cake we talked idly as one does when one is cooking or washing up- it seems to take the emphasis away and seems to intervene in possible confrontations. Doing the dishes seems to me a good time to raise tough things because of that distraction factor. I digress! Having made the apology cake and served morning tea to kids the girls were absolved of their guilt. However a week later I had to call them to my office as they were the "victims" in an incident. I spent most of the time saying to them "No you are not in trouble, I just need to know what happened".
My thoughts after this incidient and conversation with the rest of the staff was that kids think the only reason you go to the principal's office is when you are in trouble.... I wanted them to think that you could come to my office when you are in trouble or are troubled. So I began Celia's Soirees.
Each week on Thursday morning for half an hour kids were invited to my office for a glass of bubbly (coke or lemonade-Sprite to Americans) and a chocolate biscuit (cookie). Teachers selected a child in their classroom that they normally didn't notice- kids who didn't stand out- those ones who quietly went about being in the class. It was a very quiet half hour in my office!
I'd introduce the kids to each other as most didn't know one another being from different classes, we share our"bubbly" and I'd show them my way of eating chocolate royal biscuits (mallow somethings in the US). You smash the cholate on your forehead and then carefully pick/eat all the chocolalte off, then suck off the marshmallow and finally eat the biscuit. Kids often left my office with a little bit of chocolate on their forehead or around their mouths.
To fill in the rest of the time they'd play with my snowdome (I had 100 or so on a shelf in my office) , look at the soft toys, check out the wooden puzzle and enjoy my little fridge. The fridge was about 6 inches high and held office supplies eg the butter was a sharpener, the vegetables in the crisper were pens or sitck pins, the meat was a magnet, the freezer compartment sticky tape, the engine at the back was a pair of scissors, the "ketchup" was glue- kids and adults alike love it! (thanks Mary W for the gift years ago).
So in thinking about my soiree I thought I should "start" it up in some form and I do miss writing to Maddy as part of my Sunday.... so I figured I'd invite people to imbibe with me at my Sunday Soiree and talk about food and drink from my week! Come and join me sometime.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday in the Park

Spring time in New York City- I love it! What better way to spend your days than strolling through Central Park and enjoying the sunshine and delightful flowers and trees.
Having arrived near the Delacourt Theatre we found a place under a lovely tree with pink blossoms.Our picnic lunch was spread out very quickly and the rest of our friends arrived. We sat and lounged around for a few hours and then I ventured back through the park looking for things in bloom.From the "safety" of our little space in the park one was totally unaware of how many other people thought that a picnic or stroll in the park was a good idea. This was the view standing at one point and looking one way....

...... then the other. Perhaps it is proof that Zelda Fitzgreald (wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald) was right when she said
“Youth doesn't need friends -- it only needs crowds.”
Today youth was out in force in the park sunbathing (they obviously don't understand about skin cancer), playing ball, throwing footballs (why is it called football when most of the game involves throwing?), eating, drinking, walking .....basically enjoying the sunshine.
And then as Nanki Poo would sing in Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado"
The flowers that bloom in the spring, Tra la, Breathe promise of merry sunshine — As we merrily dance and we sing, Tra la, We welcome the hope that they bring, Tra la, Of a summer of roses and wine, Of a summer of roses and wine. And that's what we mean when we say that a thing Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring. Tra la la la la, Tra la la la la, The flowers that bloom in the spring.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fun in Vegas

What a lovely way to spend the day..... meeting online friends and their family! But even more than that to find that the friend you thought was funny, hardworking and caring online turns out to be far more than that- she's a great mother, great conversationalist and fun to be with. We met Tami and two of her boys for lunch.
Tami is a friend from the Get it Scrapped message boards. When I told her I'd be in Vegas she gave me her cell phone number and we arranged to meet up. She "warned" me that she would bring the two non school going boys... but she didn't prepare me for how gorgeous they are. Keagan was interested in things and ate his lunch without fuss so was pretty well silent the entire time.
Jude and Helen and Sue and I were entertained all through lunch by the whole crew. Tami's warmth and friendship made lunch a really happy time, Keagan kept working through his lunch (Michele you'd be pleased to see a toddler who ate!). But I have kept the joys of meeting Zach until last. He charmed us all! He had just been to the hairdresser and wasn't too sure about the "hard" spikes- he looked a treat. He and I had a great time- the restaurant gave the boys crayons and menus with mazes and puzzles on them. Zach had me doing the mazes on his lunch place mat- they were a bit hard for a 3 and a 1/2 year old . Meanwhile Keagan was eating his chicken and one of the green crayons.
We also ventured into drawing a few things on the back of the place mat and then Zach gave me his special star from the hairdresser- it got ripped in half in the process but what more could a girl want from a lunch date!Love this grin- once the cameras came out Zach was ready- obviously Tami manages to take one or two photos of the boys. Having submitted to having his photo taken Zach wanted to try to take some with my SLR which weighs a ton. The photos Zach took worked really well and... the looks on Helen's face.... and Sue's face...... show how much we enjoyed spending lunchtime with Zach.

So what if he did the typical boy thing of showing how much he likes you by trying to break your arm as he tried to wrestle your bracelet off and he managed to drop a chip in my drink but the nose to nose looking straight into the eyes trick certainly made up for any boy-germs!

Tami has posted about our lunch together too. It was just lovely to spend time with friends- we all thought that Tami is such a great mum and good friend- it was a privilege to share time with her and Zach and Keagan.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Margaritas on Mondays

The final day of our stay in Santa Monica and the end of Route 66. What better way to celebrate a long lunch and margaritas at a spot overlooking Venice Beach having cruised around looking at the places in Malibu and Santa Monica.
Time with friends chatting and sharing good times.
"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The day began with a great swim in the Pacific Ocean- Jude and I strolled down to the sea before breakfast and enjoyed a plunge in the ocean- just metres away were pelicans plummeting into the ocean for their breakfast and two dolphins seeming to be drifting around and heading out to sea. On the water's edge there were sandpipers rushing back and forward with the waves- it was the perfect way to start the day and end the day which is what we, Sue, Jude and I did... a lovely swim in the ocean as the sun set. Perfect!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

At the Getty Center

Our first full day in Santa Monica, and one of the main reasons we wanted a few days here was to visit the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
The trusty GPS got us there- it also got us home to our lovely house without it having too many conniptions- read voice on machine saying "recalculating" when we decide to use alternate route.
Having parked in the car park (parking lot) early we walked to the tram area- the tram takes all visitors up the hill to the museum complex.
The architect Richard Meier has created a glorious work of art in itself. The aluminum and travertine covered building make a striking introduction to the complex. Part of the entry- I love the contract created by the people sitting and waiting and preparing to explore.
The grounds themselves are a work of art.
The plantings designed to give deliberate and contrasting colour and line to the buildings themselves.
The skyline is used to emphasize the building also.

The variety of plants provide pictures and patterns throughout the grounds.

Then there is the "central garden" which is the work of Robert Irwin who has described this garden as " a sculpture in the form of a garden, which aims to be art"

And finally within and around the buildings are housed the art works

Sculpture and of course Monet....

Henry Moore and so much that after 5 hours I was exhausted and really had only skimmed the surface.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

We made it!

The end of Route 66!

Not a mammoth effort in one day from Pasadena to Santa Monica- people do the "commute" daily but we did it on Saturday morning which left some traffic out of our way. Even then it was a tad hairy not knowing where you are going!

It took us two days to find the sign!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Barstow to Pasadena

Leaving Barstow involved just heading along the main street and out of town so we ambled around a little visiting an antique store (buying nothing) and then down to the fancy looking building off on a side road. Turns out it was the old railway station (should have guessed given the number of trains around) and the size of th building. It is now a n information center with trains there for enthusiasts to see phtotograph and climb on... which we did.
The road stretched out in front of us although unlike driving in out of the way places there was still some traffic. However there were tumbleweeds sharing the road with us ever so briefly!

Our trusty guide book highlighted the things and places along the way including the bottle trees.
Elmer Long's bottle trees are a forest of trees in his front yard affectionately known as the Bottle Tree Ranch.It's quirky!

It is fabulous to stand in amongst and hear the sounds and experience the colours.

The contrast as we drove over the San Bernadino mountains and into the valley was remarkable. There were many more examples of wealth and propserity than along the segments of the road we had been traveling. The San Gabriel mountains dominated the area as we found our way along Route 66 through places like Duarte and Rancho Cuccumonga- love the names.
We arrived at the Best Western Royale in Pasadena and sent Helen and Jude in to do what has become traditional and known as the"sniff test". It was our final "sniff test" for the whole trip as the remainder of our accommodation is pre-arranged. The "sniff test" is a very technical operation- one walks into the foyer and breathes in and decides if this particular location is using cleaning products that have a lingering odor that offends. If the place passes this early stage then the next stage is entered and involves negotiating the best rate for the rooms. Helen enters this phase with great gusto- if this phase is successfully passed then the more detailed "sniff test" is undertaken and requires access to the proposed rooms so that detailed and intensive sniffing of those rooms can be undertaken. A number of places along the way have not passed these required tests although on a few occasions when the places have been rejected Helen has still manged to acquire cookies or lollies (candy) from them.
The accommodation in Pasadena passed the test and we settled in with great enthusiasm- the sun was shining and we were finally warm! Sue even went so far as to don Jude's bright colored shirt while Jude and she went to gather provisions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Needles to Barstow or a journey across the Mojave Desert

The day was one of changing landscape and the view of trains as they traversed the landscape. Amazing quantity and variety of trains.... there's another train was a fairly common cry during the day.
The variety and colour of plants in bloom across the desert took me by surprise.

Then the strange blooms of the shoetree was something I hadn't heard of nor anticipated but was suitably quirky as are many things on Route 66.

The small towns along the way were varied and continued to amaze that they have survived and/or continued to struggle to exist.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kingman to Needles CA

We have completed the journey through Arizona. Our final day traveling in Arizona was nature filled again this time but the beauty of the plants in bloom and the rugged mountain ranges. Oatman is ghost town nestled at the top of the ranges.
It's major claim to fame other than being on Route 66 is the Oatman Hotel built in 1902, it is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County and has housed many miners, movie stars, politicians and other scoundrels. The town was used as the location for several movies such as How The West Was Won, Foxfire and Edge of Eternity. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel March 18, 1939. Their honeymoon suite is still one of the major attractions at the Oatman Hotel. Gable returned there often to play poker with the local miners and enjoy the solitude of the desert.
The other attraction are the
"Wild" Burro's which are the descendants of burro's brought there by the miners late 1800 hundred – when the miners no longer needed they were turned loose. Each morning they come into town looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists. Burro pellets and carrots are for sale at many of the shops -the burros will eat all day if you feed them.
I was talking to one of the store operators and she was telling me things that people had asked or said to her. The conversation started between us while I was looking at an apron with oven mitts.
She said that a man came in the other day wanting to know how much the slippers, she said we don't have any slippers, he said yes you do they are in the pocket of the apron in the window. I guess he didn't know an over mitt when he saw it. Then she told me of a woman who had asked in the burros would be coming in to town on Easter Sunday! The question asker was probably more puzzled when the store keeper answered by telling her the burros would probably go to church first and then if they made it past the buffet they'd be in town.
My friend the store keeper was quite cross telling me about a women who tried to feed one of the baby burros a candy from her purse when challenged the candy giver replied "It only says not to feed them carrots!" The baby burros have "no carrots" stickers on their foreheads as the carrots will choke them.
We eventually made the last few miles of Arizona in to California where palms trees replaced the cacti it would seem. But the drive in the Mohave desert may change my view!