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My cousins just returned from another wonderful trip to Pula, Croatia.   I can’t wait to go back there.  It got me to remembering my visit there and going through old photos.

Croatian woman 8-18-2013Croatian woman 1/4 sheet of Arches 140# cold press

Croatian woman 8-11-2013

I liked this woman who was carrying greens from the field.  It reminded me of a recent NYTimes article I read called “The Island where people forget to die.”   It’s a story about a Greek American who was diagnosed with lung cancer in his 60’s, decides to move back to the Greek Isle of Ikaria where he came from and then proceeds to continue to live another 30 years or so. According to the article that was written in October, 2012 he was either 97 or 102!  One of the keys to his long life…napping.

I love to nap.   I wonder if I will live to be 102?  Oh wait,  you also have to exercise and eat a mostly plant-based diet.  Where does chocolate fit in?

I imagine this woman carrying the greens from the field to make salad, tea, or soup.   I’m also trying not to overpaint paintings.

It’s almost mid-August and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has been named the “song of the summer.”  It’s a super catchy tune with misogynistic lyrics.    However, the always amusing Jimmy Fallon did a cleaned up version of the song with Robin Thicke and his band The Roots using classroom instruments.  It makes me laugh and laugh.   Enjoy:

Croatian market 3-10-13

Croatian Market –  Arches 140# coldpress

I’ve been away for a little while.  The Husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to the Galapagos.  (I was a child bride…LOL) Our anniversary isn’t until October, but we decided February would be a better time to be in South America.   The water was calmer and the critters were moving and mating.  We spent approximately 7 days on a 90 foot yacht.  (Yate in Spanish)  I kept telling everyone I was on a 20 foot yacht until the Husband finally corrected me.  He told me a 20 foot yacht is called a rowboat. Ok, I was never good at math.

We had a wonderful, magical time.  The Galapagos is one of those “trip of a lifetime” places!  We hiked each day, most times twice a day, and also snorkeled each day.  We saw giant tortoises and green sea turtles, land iguanas, marine iguanas, fur seals, sea lions, all sorts of fish, sharks and even a few Orcas.  I don’t know much about birds but we did hear about the 14 different species of finches in the Galapagos.  (I drifted when the naturalist was talking about them so I can’t tell you much.)  I prefer my birds to have blue feet like the blue footed boobies or big red balloons under their beaks like the male mating frigate birds.

The painting above is a work in progress from a Croatian Market from a trip two years ago. (It seems like yesterday.)  The woman reminds me of some of the older women in my family and the fruits and vegetables were gorgeous, yummy and plentiful.  I will go back and put in some darks in the spaces between the fruit and maybe delineate her face a little more.

More to come about the Galapagos, but in the meantime here are some photos and a link to my friend’s website who was with us on the trip.

Blue Footed Boobies doing a mating danceBlue footed booby doing a mating dance

????????Sleepy fur seal pup

Male frigate bird - in mating modeMale Frigate bird with the red mating balloon inflated to attract females

Sandy Sea Lion 2-22-2013Sandy Sea Lion

Sally hitchin a ride on a marine iguanaSally lightfoot crab hitches a ride on a marine iguana

And here’s the link to my friend Mary’s super duper website:

Croatian street with bike and laundry – watercolor on Arches 140# coldpress

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in our part of the world!   But that didn’t stop me from spending the short daylight hours partaking in all the holiday baked goods that were brought into the office.   Cookie exchanges, brownies, cannoli…you name it, someone brought it to work.  And what is that word that two-year olds know so well and I apparently have completely forgotten?  It’s “No”.  Would you like to try some brownies?  No!  Um, Why I’d LOVE some…and so it goes.

As I pack on the pounds, I look forward to the days starting to get longer…even if it’s just a minute a day. (It is.) I’ll take it.  When I get up, it’s dark. When I leave for work it’s dark.  When I leave the office, it’s dark.  And all I want to do is eat comfort food and sleep.   It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

My dog walking pal Charlie recently told me that he ate so many sweets in one day his pancreas secreted enough insulin for a third world nation.

A long time ago, a doctor told me my pancreas was “tired”.  That was his way of telling me I had type-two diabetes.  My mother told me it was because I was fat.  She was a lovely woman.  She also told me “feet are never clean”.

Whatever you celebrate during this time of year, may it be happy, merry and not too fattening.

The above watercolor was loosely based on a Croatian street scene.  More narrow roads, hanging laundry and mysterious doorways.  Right up my alley!

Old Lady in Window, Rovingo /Rovinij Istria, Croatia – Watercolor  (work in progress) on 1/2 sheet of Arches 140# cold press

No joke.  We’ve had a roller-coaster of a week.  But first let me say thank you to all of my friends and family who wrote, called, emailed and texted asking how we were. We, luckily, are fine.

Our week started out with an earthquake.  Although not officially evacuated, when the building shook everyone ran outside. The last time the building shook like that it was on 9/11.  Interestingly, the people from California were the only ones who did NOT run outside.  They recognized it as an earthquake and stayed indoors.

I did NOT feel the earthquake as I had just run across the street to get some chocolate.  (NY Post Headline:  Woman finally saved by chocolate!)

The week continued with all the Hurricane Irene warnings.  The City took the unprecedented step of shutting down the entire subway system.  Never in my life has the subway system been completely shut down.  Clearly the end of the world was nigh.  There was also a mandatory evacuation of all “zone 1” areas. The hysteria was on.

A cynical  friend posted this.  I got the vodka and I’m a pro at complaining.  I’m still speculating about work on Monday.  Our illustrious mayor also just announced that City offices will be open tomorrow. When asked how workers will get to work he suggested we can take a cab. Don’t get me started.

We’ll see tomorrow morning when I go to the subway if I see the pink plastic that the City uses to let riders know that the station is closed.  (Thanks for the photo Judy!)

The water-color above is a work in progress.  I have so many amazing images from the beautiful country of Croatia which should keep me busy as long as the local natural disasters are kept at bay.  The image above is from Rovingo/Rovinij which is also called the “Venice of Istria” because of its beautiful port.  Many of the towns in Istria have two names.  An Italian name and its Croatian name.   Like Pola/Pula where we stayed with family during the beginning of our trip.  Croatia is an amazing and beautiful place and I can’t wait to return someday soon.

Just back from a fantastic trip to Croatia (or Hrvatska as the Croatians call it).  It was the Husband’s big birthday trip. Our first stop was Istria, a peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic.  That is where my father’s family comes from.   We got to see the town my grandmother came from which was fun.  The town is called Šušnjevica and I spoke about it and painted it here and here.   There will be many more paintings to come, but in the meantime here is a similar plate as the plates I made to give to my cousin’s cousins (got that?) who live in Pula and have, among other things, a vineyard.

Some observations from the trip:

Croatians are a tall people.

Germans are also a tall people and apparently like to take all their clothes off in the sun.

Europeans in general cannot stand in line if their life depended on it.  There may be a semblance of a line say, to get on a catamaran to take one to Hvar, but as soon as that catamaran docks, it’s a free-for-all.  This made the Husband nuts!  (Members of the UK are excluded from this observation. They excel at queuing!)

It amazes me that so many people from other countries can speak multiple languages.  I am always jealous of this.  One time in particular, there was a Croatian who spoke to my cousin’s cousin, who then turned and translated to my cousin in Italian who then turned and translated it into English for us.  Sigh.  I wish I was multi-lingual.  I also wish I was taller, younger, richer and weighed less.

The first native word the Husband learns is the word for beer.  (In Croatian it’s Pivo.)

“Trst” is the Croatian word for the Italian town of Trieste.  Krk is a Croatian island in the Adriatic.  Many of the Croatian words have impossibly long consonant combinations that make it difficult for non-speakers to even try to pronounce.  There are also many accented letters.  The Husband asked a native why they have little or few vowels in many of their words.  She thought about this for a moment, shrugged and said nonchalantly replied “we don’t need them”.    So there you go.

An amazing amount of Europeans still smoke.  I am astounded by that.

The myth of the skinny European has been debunked.  Many are as fat as Americans.

The Adriatic Sea is crystal clear and many beautiful shades of blue.

Croatians love their Crocs (which they call crocsies).

More on Croatia (Istria and the Dalmation Coast) with (hopefully) some paintings in later posts.

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