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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I know you are not going to believe this, but HONEST, I am not writing this blog to get my stats up.  I rarely even check on them anymore.  In fact, I was shocked to realize today, since I rarely get comments, that I have a following.  “You do love me.”  Well, like at any rate.

So, when I mention Viggo Mortensen, please believe me, that I am not mentioning Viggo Mortensen to ratchet up ratings. 

Viggo Mortensen is again in the news with his role in The Road (2009) and was referred to as being “complicated” in an article I read recently, and I apologize that I cannot find it to link here.  It seemed to me that the author had no understanding of the person he is.  Not that I would know what kind of person he is, having only read about a gazillion interviews of his, but never having met him.

But, I am thinking that he is actually a very simple person and not complicated at all.

Perhaps I can relate, as I have multiple artistic interests also  and feel as though we have a lot in common.  We both love the outdoors.  He speaks approximately five languages fluently and I can speak, let’s see, exactly one.  I was learning Amslan at one time and I have taken a Spanish class four times (obviously, not successfully).  But, I think our joint passion for Dark Chocolate counts.

It seems that he is an honorable, honest person.  I feel it is more complicated to be dishonorable and a liar as you have to keep all those lies straight.  Although, the liars I know are not very good at it.  And, you know who you are!!!

I think, as an artistic person, he is also simply entertained.  Getting in his truck and taking off on a discovery road trip, spending hours sketching, photographing, spending your time as someone else, being honest are all, in my mind, simple enjoyable things.

Now, the guys who have to have their heads full of ringing cell phones, and Wall Street numbers, and never sitting still for one minute to be in their own head—those are the guys who are complicated.

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I love to travel, well actually I just love to be “there,”  wherever there is.  I am not a fan of the ‘getting there’ part.  I used to travel, marketing my artwork, cross country by car: sleeping in the van, shampooing in rest stops.  Now, I am opting for some type of teleporting transportation.  Come on, Obama, get us high speed trains.

Okay, we have airplanes and I do so love to take off in an airplane, but, as I have stated before, I hate being trapped in a steel tube.  It’s just not fun once you have been through lift off.   I’m not deathly afraid of plane wrecks, even though I have been in a plane that “lost” it’s engine.  The Lost Engine to Hawaii – Part three « Savanvleck’s Weblog

I am not sure whether I wrote about our overabundance of luggage on that trip and I am too lazy, obviously, to read all ?five? posts about Hawaii to see.  So, I will quickly recap what might not have been caped at all to begin with.

It was my mother’s dream trip and I got to ride along.  She found sets of luggage and purchased each of us a set.  They each had a large bag on wheels and a small bag that was eitheron wheels or I could strap over the handle of the large bag,  and then some little bags to put inside.  Me, not thinking (what’s new you say!) that mom was getting weaker already at that point and I would have to do all the tugging of luggage. 

Oahu one was no problem.  We got to our hotel and that was it for the week.  By the time we took Hawaiian Air to the second island, I had definitely had my fill of pulling four suitcases.  Why didn’t the travel agent mention there were laundries in most of the hotels.  Obviously, I am not a world traveler.  What I am, is an overpacker.  So, the next morning, on the Big Island, I drove our rental car to a post office, purchased two boxes and went out to the car and filled them up with clothing we were not going to wear.

It helped a lot, cost as much as one plane ticket and we received our clothing back about a month after we landed back on the mainland. 

Crazy Aunt Purl tells us how she travels light.  This is what I want to do, if and when I fly again.

Shortly after our Hawaiian trip, I cut out an article on how to travel light.  It is somewhere.  As I remember, you can fit two pair of dress slacks, one skirt, one basic black dress, a few bits of underwear, a one-piece bathing suit (with the right type of top to it), and a sweater, all in basic black and tan, along with four knit shirts in brighter colors and make yourself four hundred and twelve different outfits.  Or something like that.  You bring a pair of sandals that do duty as slippers and shower shoes and, if they are sparkly enough, evening shoes and you’ve got it made.

Me, I’m opting for wearing hiking boots, blue jeans, tshirt, over shirt, sweater and jacket on the plane.  I am padded enough for a minor wreck and warm enough when we hit 20,000 feet after leaving tropical Hawaii., that I will still be warm  And, I can probably find a way to stretch my wardrobe to five hundred outfits with it.

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I grew up in northern Indiana and went to college and worked in Chicago for many years.  I have taken buses and trains to get where I was going since 1974.  I remember early South Shore train seats that were woven wicker and the windows opened because there was no air-conditioning.  Yes, grasshopper, I am ancient.

Master’s Daughter and I took the “new” South Shore train from the beginning of the line, in South Bend, to Chicago.  It was either, a two hour, one hour or three hour ride, depending on what time zone you were going to or from.  I believe in actuality, it took two hours.  They have air conditioning and bathrooms now.  And, during the day time, off rush hours, they have children; lots and lots of children.

But, first you had to park your car and put a dollar bill or change in the right slot of the box.  Okay, now we were a wee bit tired.  This is not rocket science and, between us, we have over eleven years of college.  We drove by the pay box, decided to park first (Yes, I know, that should have been obvious.) and then walked up to pay. 

sharon slot

After using another quarter to push the quarters in, Master’s Daughter pushed the last quarter in with a car key.  Then, we read the sign, “Use a key or the pusher attached by a cable to the box.”  OKAY, the rest of the trip should be a breeze, after learning about the pusher.  The result is the above laugh.

We were waiting with a group of people for the train to arrive, when a school bus pulled up.  The energy in that station raised by fourteen knots.  The elderly couple near us began to shake and we all headed for the door.  Frankly, I think the strategy should have been to let the children board the train and then walk to the other end for our seats.  We met someone, coming home that night, who was in the car with the children.  Apparently, it was not a pleasant ride.  Most notably mentioned was children playing in the bathroom.

And this is what we (and a sleeping chick at the Museum) looked like at the end of the day.

chicken sleep jpg

All the other chicks, in the incubator were sleeping laying down but this guy was standing up sound asleep.  My mother has done this a time or two also. 

Even so, Master’s Daughter and I have decided this “June girl’s retreat” really needs to be an annual event.  Last year, I went up for her Master’s Graduation.  This year it was for the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.  We are now looking for something fun to do next year.

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Things are big to children. My daughters speak of the “big white house” we lived in when they were little. If I took them by that same house today, they would see a three bedroom prefab slightly larger than a double wide trailer.

I lived in a semi-rural area when I was growing up. Our school took us on a bus trip to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry; now that was BIG.

Not so much, anymore.

The building seems diminished. You used to walk up the steps to the Museum and be overwhelmed by the whole experience; a field of concrete steps, an overwhelmingly huge main hall, huge things in the huge main hall, the whole building—they were each larger than the one before and certainly larger than the world I lived in. It was the “WOW!” factor times four.

Obviously, the building is still large, but somehow it seems diminished. The only stairs, that I saw, going up to the building lead to blocked off doors and had grass growing up through the cracks. You now enter through, what I can only liken to the garage. It is a small room and you get your ticket and walk upstairs, where you show your ticket and enter a maze.

MSI entry

Everything is walled off. The pendulum that seemed bigger than life is cut down to size by being tucked into the stairwell. In fact, most of it is just a set of halls to direct you around. The U-505 German Submarine, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, and the Coal Mine are all still there. But, the fantastic part of the museum was all the interactive things for kids just does not live up to its promise.

Oh, there are fantastic names of promise: The Idea Factory, which was one that we did not enter because of the line; ToyMaker 3000 was pretty lame; The Great Train Story was the old train set-up and an updated set-up of the skyline of Chicago; Whispering Gallery was a hall, Crime Lab was closed; I think the Explore the world’s fair was just the same street of 1800 from long ago.

Granted, we did not have children with us so only saw it through an adult’s eyes. It was me and a sixth grade teacher but we were less than impressed by the interactive stuff they now showed and the teacher definitely felt that a lot of basics of science and industry were missing. I am not really sure if it was the kids or the way they were NOT so impressed, but all they seemed to do is run from room to room and bounce off the walls. However, there were two exhibits that still had the “Wow!” factor for all ages. (And we did see most of the museum, except we did not have time to tour the green house.)

earth_revealed_wide

First Wow factor was the Earth Revealed. It is awesome with its real time view of our planet. It is a permanent exhibit of a 6’ diameter, solid carbon fiber globe. Everyone from kids to college boys were debating how it was suspended and how the video projections were done. It was loaded with information from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It has several different shows and follows Earth’s climate and its problems, or weather, or currents, and geophysics. It is free with admission and worth going to the Museum for that alone.

Second was the Harry Potter exhibit but that deserves its own blog

There has been one huge improvement and that was the food. I swear the main protein used to be cockroach legs. Now, you are met with a wealth of choices and healthy food. We had a delicious lunch of pork slices, cut spiced potatoes and corn. Bread was a delicious veggie mini loaf, and all for under $6.00.

Basically though, I hate to say this but the Museum of Science and Industry impressed me as much as going to the mall. Young men stood in front of a store and threw toy birds and twirling things to entice children in to buy and people stopped from exhibit to exhibit and did not smile.

Cheer up, Chicago, you are taking your children out for the day. It SHOULD be fun. Guess I’ve been gone too long.

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I am so excited this morning. I heard the President’s speech about the high speed train system. I swear, every time he steps up to the mike, I get more hopeful for the future of this country.

Images of the future look positively clean and space-age, as gleaming trains speed across the country. Indiana to Wyoming in just over three hours would be a possibility. I could do a book tour without getting on an airplane.

Now, I really would like to take an old fashioned train trip, watching the scenery float by; having lazy conversations while eating in the dining car. My great grandfather worked on trains. Way back then, they used to throw the dishes out at the end of the line, rather than wash them. When great-granddad got off work, he would go to the dish pile and collect the unbroken dishes and bring them home.

There were three adults and six children living in that home and it was the depression. These dishes were a big help. I still have an oval plate and two coffee cups. The cups had two handles on them so that you could sip your coffee with less chance of spilling it on you.

I don’t think spilling will be an issue on a train going three hundred miles an hour. That track had better be smooth.

I can’t wait.

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Coming from a totally non-athletic family, the joy of skiing came to me later in life.  It took a while for me to get over my fear of speed and I never really did enjoy the sport for the sheer speed of it, especially after skiing “kegger week” out west. 

 

There’s nothing like a drunk college kid on skis to knock you down on a catwalk. 

 

What I love, and miss about skiing, is the snow and clear air, the woods and the shear joy of sliding around trees and maneuvering down the mountain. I especially like it early in the morning before the slopes are packed with people. I’m not in a hurry when I ski.  I want to enjoy every moment. 

 

I was just beginning to take moguls when I had probably the best laugh in my life. 

 

I fell!  I fell on a steep mogul run and I started sliding down, on my back, head first.  It was like being the ball in a pinball game.  There was no way I could get myself turned around, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. 

I was laughing so hard that people passing overhead, on the ski lift were yelling down, asking if I was okay, and I would just wave at them.  And, then they started laughing too.

 

I could just envision them, all laughing when they got off the ski lift at the top and the operator trying to figure out what was causing the mass hysteria.

 

Now, that is the way to enjoy skiing.

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In reading blogs this morning, it’s how I start my brain, I came across The Window Seat: Ssshhhh, Quiet Please!.  It is a blog about all things travel.  Holly Burns had just taken a flight from San Francisco to London (well, last month).  That’s ten hours in a metal tube.  Let me repeat, ten hours trapped in a chair surrounded by strangers.  And, in her case, strangers who like to talk. 

For years, I worked in Chicago and commuted from northwest Indiana.  I have been trapped on trains and buses for the hour and a half journey (or near that).  I have sat across from men who were doing things you should never do in public, let alone with your clothes on, and people who wanted to talk, when all I wanted to do was sleep or read.  But, ten hours????

Anyway, three women sat behind Holly Burns and talked and talked and talked so loud that even earphones would not drown them out.  You know what happens next.  We’ve all been there.  You give them the look, over your shoulder.  Then you turn and stare the look for a minute.  Then, after two hours, you finally lose it and pummel them with your seven dollar pillow.  Oh, that was me, not her.  She did finally say something and she said they did lower the volume slightly. 

My worse experience with this was when Schindler’s List came out in theatres.  I was in a full theatre and there were two women behind me.  One of them was talking.  The other could not have gotten a word in edgewise if she wanted to.  I must have turned and looked a dozen times, then turned and shushed.  Why I did not just say, “Would you please take your conversation out to the lobby?”  I will never know.  Schindler’s List is an intense movie.  You want to be involved with it and not with the idiot behind you and their conversation. 

Eventually, they did go out and the one woman came back alone.  I cannot imagine what she said to get her friend to leave but bless her heart, she got rid of her.

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Were you ever in a relationship where you woke up one morning and said, ‘This person is making me old.’?

 

It’s not that they are actually making you old.  Mother Nature does a fine job of that on her own and when your genes add something like heart disease or cancer to the mix, it is scary. And, it is not that I am afraid of death, because I am not. And, someday I will explain that when I am feeling very psychic and ready to open my soul to the world (plus a death experience- not my own though).

 

What the thing is, is that I want to enjoy every minute of this life while I am here.  It is way too short not to.  I used to hike, picnic in the Dunes State Park in the winter, ski (cross-country and downhill), and just explore.  I went camping every chance I got.  Daughter-of-eleven and I once went camping with the tent and a roll of aluminum foil.  Seriously, I forgot blankets, bedding and utensils.  I stopped and bought a spatula and a blanket.  You can make a very good bacon and egg breakfast on foil, over an open fire.

 

I have visited every state in this union except Alaska. I have camped in Canada and spent two hours in Mexico.  That’s a whole other story.  I have whale watched and driven a large cargo van up a gravel mining road in Colorado.  That MAY just be what is wrong with daughter-of-eleven.  She was with me and never quite got over that adventure.  She did not mind going up so much, it was the backing back down the narrow, steep, drop-off, gravel mining road that did her in. 

 

The point is, and I am sure there is a point somewhere; I am not ready to sit in a rocking chair yet.  I have given up most things for years now because it seemed so unfair to my husband to do things without him.  He cannot help being disabled, but I realized a few years ago that I was getting older than I should be because of not living and it was not doing him any favors either, that I was declining.  He does what he can and I need to do what I can.  As I said, life is just too short.

 

I started out taking violin lessons.  It was something I had always wanted to do and I inherited my uncle’s violin.  So, the last year and a half I was in Wyoming I studied with Rainer Schwartzkof and, if I do say so myself, and actually, my teacher did; I’m rather an advanced case study on violin.  It may have been the years of music in school. and teaching myself to play organ.  But, by the end of the year and a half, we were doing Mazas duets and, oh, how I loved that.  I gave that up when I moved.

 

So, now that I am all better (my chest has been opened and my heart repaired) and I again have health insurance to get some rehab to help me get exercising again, I am anxious to get back to the violin.  My goal: to play Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida by Wolff; Three Pieces from Schindler’s List by John Williams and I have a book of Classical Solos to tackle.  I am also anxious to get back to painting.  

 

Until they get me settled in rehab, I walk (on our four acres), and I tend the garden (getting my pulse rate up a bit) and I take pictures, and I write. Irritating Chihuahua accompanies me and occasionally sneaks away, but when I am out of doors, it recharges my batteries.

 

Life is too short, not to live it.

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 I love Inside the Actors Studio .   Which, by the way, this website (the one I found) has not been updated since April of 2007.

 

At the end of every interview, James Lipton  asks the following questions, based on French television personality Bernard Pivot, after the Proust Questionnaire – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which is actually much longer.

 

So, I get to play “pretend actor” and answer the questions today.

 

 

The ten questions Lipton asks are:

 

 

1.     What is your favorite word?   Knowledge

2.     What is your least favorite word?   Adjunct – just say it, it’s an ugly word and it’s an insulting term: “a thing added to something else, but secondary or not essential to it.”  I mean, no one wants to be considered “not essential.”

3.     What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?  Being out of doors/outside

4.     What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? narrow minded bigots (DEFINED: All Bigots are narrow minded.  But, all narrow minded people are not bigots. Either one turns me off.)

5.     What sound or noise do you love?   Musical Instruments and ‘ flat’ notes

6.     What sound or noise do you hate?    Complaining (Gosh, I should have eliminated all those posts about my move.)

7.     What is your favorite curse word?    Shit

8.     What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?   Classical Musician

9.     What profession would you not like to do?   Being stuck in an office.

10.    If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?   “You are so right.  I could never be that mean.”

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THE MOST EXPENSE MOVE ON EARTH!

 

PICTURE THIS:

1.     House sells and you aren’t sure you want to but you are now stuck.

2.     Two weeks pass and you refuse inspections, thus begging out of the whole thing. Whew!

3.     And, way too good realtor hands you next offer. Shit!

4.     Not knowing why you accept it, you do and find that you have two weeks to move a 2,100 square foot house, of two households, with:

a.     Disabled husband

b.     Elderly mother (who has moved like three times in her life and wants to dust everything off before she packs it.)

c.      Gaffer (whose claim to strength is his PS2 thumbs)

d.     And me

5.     THEN, two days before closing, you rent the largest truck and the largest trailer they will rent.

6.     You begin to pack up way earlier than you think you need to (after all you have had a huge yard sale already and you are short on help).

7.     It is the end of October and THEN IT SNOWS. It just doesn’t send down some lazy flakes, it is an icy, dense, two and a half feet of snow, that:

a.     Makes the metal floor of the truck, which sits on a slope, like skating on ice

b.     Strands the trailer loaded with mom’s stuff in the middle of the yard

c.      Disables town, but never fearless realtor’s offices, and keeps even the day laborers at home.

8.     Thus causing:

a.     You to pay for an extra truck and a storage unit ‘cause it ain’t all gonna fit.

b.     You to purchase a new dolly, as the other one fell out the open door of the extra truck.

c.      You pay for two days of house rental because it just isn’t enough time

d.     You pay loan shark bribery rates to shut up the new owner’s mother-in-law who does not see this as an act of God, as she watches disabled husband and Gaffer trying to move a refrigerator through two and a half feet of heavy snow, when the moving truck would not come closer than one hundred feet to the house.

e.      Well, actually the money was also to shut her up because we left stuff. Not much inside, just some in a closet but a lot in my studio. A LOT!

9.     Finally, closing is over, our stuff is packed –Oh!, and the truck already broke down in the yard once, but, we are on the road, with the help of new home owner who pulled the trailer out of the yard and also came running after us to give us a photo left on the wall. We drive to a motel because we are all beat and need a place to collapse and cry.

10.                        We leave in the morning and:

a.     Disabled husband loses the $1,000 he has for gasoline.  After much searching and panic, he finds it laying in the muck of the parking lot (One for us, Ten for the evil ones)

b.     The motor home will not start and besides that problem, disabled husband burns up the starter trying to start it.  We transfer everything around. I now will drive the van and pull a trailer. We pay to have the motor home towed. 

c.      We leave everything that we needed first in the motor home, at the repair shop, in Casper, Wyoming, so that we will then have to replace all of Gaffer’s wardrobe, so he can go to school when we arrive in Indiana.  But, we are on our way back home to Indiana.

 

Then, the phone rings. We had been approved for our loan but, unbeknownst to us, the house was not approved for the loan and that call was our realtor telling us that our home was not approved by the mortgage company because:  are you ready??

 

IT DID NOT HAVE A SEPTIC SYSTEM.  It had something like a bucket buried in the ground. 

 

MY QUESTION: Shouldn’t somebody have noticed this a lot earlier in the story?

 

Continued tomorrow:

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