Monday, December 26, 2005

Another Letter from Lisbon

Hello, All! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
I am now the owner of my very own yad, which for those of you who don't know is the pointer used to follow the words in the Torah since it is forbidden to touch the pages of the Torah with human hands. I forgot which century this is (still spacey from flying-(18th?) and it is solid silver, beautifully chased, and just wonderful! My family were amazed that I knew what it was when I opened it; they had all seen it in the antique store and not even John knew what it was. I don't think I've ever seen one for sale in an antique store before. There were a couple of others and they were bought to go into a museum in Coimbra (the beautiful University town here in Portugal).
We went to the one star restaurant in and it was unbelievable! I thought of my friend Jorja almost the entire time. The view was lovely, a grey day, but wet-suited were beyond the windows trying to stay on the Atlantic breakers. We had a Portuguese chardonnay that was heaven. Scallops that melted in the mouth like butter, sea bass with truffles, the others had venison with chestnuts, but I just had the vegetables being vegetarian although the chef just couldn't send it out that way and had the waiter tell me he was going to give me fresh cod - the key word being fresh here. It was the most delicious cod I've ever had, and Portugal is the land of bacalhau. We had a buche de Noel, pot de chocolat that was absolutely one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth, with a cafe ice on the side, and still more. Sorry Jorja, I can't think of the others right now, but I'll write them down when I do so that I won't forget. The meal was truly worthy of the praise John, Son, and DIL had given it.
We drove back home along the coastline so that I could get my fill of the waves splashing on shore (not that I ever could). It was one of the best Christmases I have ever had. Cluny Grey Jewelry

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Letter from Lisbon

Merry Christmas, Everyone! It is Christmas here already in Lisbon (2:00 a.m.) . Christmas Eve has been very busy, and I just got in yesterday. Stepped off the plane at 8:00 a.m., then stayed up all day (and I don't sleep on planes) visiting with John Davis, my son's "adopted" brother, and didn't go to bed until after 11:00 or 12:00. I slept great, even though that Angola airplane that leaves every morning awakened me, but it was the best awakening because I realized I was in Lisbon in a very comfortable bed and I didn't have to get up anytime soon. Bliss!
We saw "Narnia " in the afternoon. The talking animals which could have been cutesy weren't; they were just perfect. Of course, Disney made it a little "Disney-ish" in places where it should have had more a "Lord of the Rings" mood or that sense of realism (the snowy is beautiful, and no one gets red noses or really cold; I think the snow should have been frightening). Of course I know little children should be able to see this too. But when I remember reading the book in grade school one of the things that I remember is that there was a sense of harshness in the world (which children certainly understand) and indifference (which children definitely understand) that made what went on in Narnia important. But was right - and they could have done him badly but thankfully didn't.
I need to go to bed. Tomorrow we have first seating at a one-star restaurant that Son and Daughter-in-law went to 2 days ago and adored. They were with John who carried on a wonderful and knowledgable dialogue with the sommelier so that the wines were absolutely superb! I can't wait!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cascais


I haven't been posting lately because I have been so busy with jewelry. But on to , a fairly short train journey from Lisbon which the Armadillo and I did for a day trip. Yes, people do go topless on this beach, although the only topless pictures here will be of the Armadillo. We loved Cascais. The train station is right on the beach and the beach has great resources (chairs, umbrellas, plenty of places for food, drink, sunscreen) yet for the first of June was remarkably quiet, I thought. There weren't thousands of people going topless, but there was one young attractive girl who, obviously not Portuguese, preened, stretched, and otherwise did everything she could to call attention to herself. I was fascinated, but the Armadillo didn't seem that enthusiastic.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Armadillo Captures the Castle


More Travels with my Aunt


There are so many places to go in , so little time - even though we know we're staying around for a month - but we do have to go to . One of the first places that we go is the since it affords a wonderful opportunity to see Lisbon stretching out to the River. The castle was an hilltop citadel of the Moors, and in 1147 King Afonso Henriques turned it into the residence of the Portuguese kings. It was in ruins after the 1755 earthquake and was rebuilt beginning in 1938. We go from the or low part of the city and take a trolley up to the cobblestone streets of Santa Cruz where we walk the rest of the way. The observation terrace is great, and we walk the ramparts imagining that we belong to another century. I try to get pictures of the Armadillo with almost nothing but the city and river below him so that he looks dangerously high - these are to show his mother! (Second picture, studying Portuguese late at night out on the balcony at Son's apartment in Lisbon; across the street is a park).
(Third picture at left) The captures the castle!







(Fourth picture at left). The castle captures the Armadillo.


We leave the Barrio Alto (the high part of the city) and go to the (sort of the Rodeo Drive of Lisbon with Hermes and Lalique and other boutiques). There the Armadillo experiences a true rite of passage: he orders his first glass of vinho verde from the waiter who doesn't even blink. A young wine for a young Armadillo! And this (green wine) was heavenly. On past trips, I rarely drank it, but this time it was my beverage of choice besides guarana and diet Coke. It was also to be quite a favorite with the Armadillo.
The Armadillo is in the middle under the umbrella; click on the picture (any or all of them) to enlarge it to full screen. He appears quite sophisticated for someone trying to ignore the middle-aged woman who is trying to take his picture from across the way!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Travels with my Aunt

Want to have some real fun in life? Take a 17 year old boy (aka the ) to and where you will spend part of the time with your handsome son and devastatingly beautiful daughter-in-law in , travel to the beaches and sights in the surrounding areas, then rent a little car and the two of you go off to the and wander around the beaches and hills and cities of Spain. Wow! And you thought you had a life! By the way, if my sister ever reads the book or sees the movie - I'm in trouble!

Omigod! Gucci sunglasses! You mean you can SHOP on this flight?

(Uh,oh, the Armadillo can outshop the best of them! My purse feels lighter already!)(Trans-Air Portugal just after boarding our flight in Newark for Lisbon). Yes, that curly hair is natural.
Not a really long flight; leaves about 8:00 at night and you arrive at Lisbon at about 6:00 in the morning. You lose 6 hours along the way. Of course, after finally getting through Immigration, etc., we go to the apartment, but is there any rest for the weary? Of course, not! Luckily on the corner of the block is a little restaurant I like, appropriately enough
- which means - yes, Armadillo. is a funny thing, isn't it? And some people believe in coincidence!
A few hours of sleep, then Son and DIL come home from work; Son takes us downtown where the Armadillo is delighted no end because on his first night, someone actually sidles up to him and asks him (in Portuguese, which is really good) if he wants to buy some !
Now I ask you: Can Armadillos smile?
The answer is "Yes!"

More blogs about armadillo.
More blogs about cluny chronicles.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Like I Didn't Already Know This!

You Are A: Kitten!

kitty catCute as can be, kittens are playful, mischevious, and ever-curious. Like you, kittens hate getting wet. Kittens are often loving, but are known to scratch or bite when annoyed. These adorable animals are the most popular pets in the United States--37% of American households have at least one cat. Whether it is your gentle purr or your disarming appearance, you make a wonderful kitten.

You were almost a: Pony or a Bear Cub
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a MouseWhat Cute Animal Are You?

Studio G Jewelry Cluny Grey Jewelry

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Millicent and Agent Orange






Interesting title, I thought, but actually Millicent and Agent Orange have nothing to do with one another except that each has a connection to me.
Millicent is my sister's new cat; a female who is less than 1 year old, who has had one litter of kittens, all given to good homes, and who, of course, was a rescued cat by my sister and her husband. She is currently giving the cat and dog in residence hell! I am happy for her - that she has found such a good home, and once she realizes that Coolio and Darcy like to play - she will settle back and enjoy her good fortune. Right now she is following old teaching advice: for the first few weeks of the new school year, be mean as hell, get your bluff in so the kids don't run over you, and then you can relax later. Smart move.
"Agent Orange" as I refer to the cotton defoliants that are currently being sprayed all around me (and yes, I live in town, not in the country, but in a part of Arkansas surrounded by cotton fields) has made me a prisoner in my own home, and for right now in my bedroom, bathroom, and studio where I have 2 air filters running at top speed so that I can breathe, and so that maybe the sores in my mouth and nose, and my blistered lips won't get any worse. Can you believe that people do this to themselves? Everyone here knows what is happening, but apparently a cotton crop is far more important, and to be fair, while the whole town goes around with "allergies", a "cold", and mutters about the defoliants, not everyone is necessarily affected as much as I am - although I am sure that there are some people who are probably feeling worse, especially if they don't have air filters. C'est la vie, c'est la morte.

Cluny Grey Jewelry Studio G Jewelry

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Chinese Proverb

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Studio G Jewelry

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Armadillo Speaks


I had one of my favorite kinds of conversations this evening - which will surprize those who know me for a couple of reasons:

  • I was on the phone
  • I mostly listened instead of talked

My nephew, hereafter referred to as "the Armadillo" is a college freshman this year. He called me tonight to talk a little about school - and whatever- and although I have spoken to him a lot and we communicate almost every other day through the Internet, today was especially nice.

He had finished doing his German homework which had taken him quite a while; yes, he is taking German, a rather difficult language to learn, I think (ask my son), and difficult for the Armadillo who loves languages. His enthusiam was great; his voice was excited; he is thinking about getting a tutor so that he can learn faster, and so that he can practice speaking. He still had homework to do, and the German had worn him out, but he was still excited. He had also joined the German club and gone to the professor's house where they had cooked a German apple dish and watched a movie about the last Austrian princess. This is from a college freshman who is often about as silent as his namesake.

What I loved about the conversation is his excitement about Learning: yes, Learning with the big L. He talked about how fast he could finish his math class which is done on computer, and a little about what he had done over the weekend. Now that excitement is the most virulently contagious kind to me; a conversation like that can keep me awake at night with happiness - and with nostalgia, for some of my happiest nights have been spent in an insomniac state induced by my son's enthusiasm for learning - and with his sharing it with me - especially when he was in college far away in Atlanta.

The Learning is not just about German - it's about learning your own routine - learning how long and when and how you will sleep when arising is dependent only upon you. It is learning what you can do by yourself - really by yourself - whether it is eating alone or going to a party alone or living alone.

It is the beginning of learning what freedom is - walking across a campus and realizing that you could not go to class...or you could....or later you could take a nap and wake up and do your homework at 2:00a.m. or that you could go and drink coffee and talk about things with friends until you are hoarse or play drinking games.

Learning starts when you realize the infinite possibilities in front of you - and that the next piece of earth that your foot falls upon depends upon where you decide to put that foot. Learning starts when you realize that you are very small indeed in a huge world - and that very fact excites you beyond belief.

The only sad part of this conversation is realizing how very much I miss my son who has decided where to put his foot many times with just about the fewest false steps of anyone I've ever known. He has journeyed so far and seen and done so much, but instead of being jaded, he only seems to realize how much more there is to see.

The Armadillo is poking his head out of his shell - and now he is beginning to see a lot more.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Idealism!?

Okay, so I know that there are a million quizzes to take on the internet, but this one was fun and didn't take very long. Take it - maybe it's that world view that's really screwing up your life! Or maybe (and more likely) it's that not being true to your world view is screwing it is up.

Simplistic? Yes, but it's still fun.

You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.

Cultural Creative

69%

Idealist

69%

Existentialist

63%

Modernist

56%

Materialist

56%

Postmodernist

38%

Romanticist

38%

Fundamentalist

13%

What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com

Friday, August 19, 2005

If You Can't Say Something Nice

How many of you grew up with some adult admonishing you, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"? I daresay quite a few of us did, but very few of us seem to take that adage to heart.
Now I'm not talking about the critique you actually asked for from a close friend or family member or even some professional. I'm talking about how many times we choose to say something negative when we're better off just keeping our mouths shut.
This brings me to another point---what is actually negative? Many people would say that they aren't negative when they are really perceived as being so. If someone shows you his/her new car and your comment is, "My God, I'll bet your gas mileage is going to be awful!" That is not a statement of fact: That is a negative statement. And it's just as bad if you say, "Wow, what can of gas mileage are you going to get with this?" (When you know that it isn't going to be very good).
Shut up. Tell him/her the colour is beautiful; the interior is luxurious (if it is; you don't have to lie). I guess the root of what I'm getting at is this: if you would love to own this car yourself, but don't or can't and that makes you feel bad for yourself or makes you feel jealous---stop! This is the difference between a child and an adult.
The child says, "Hmmm, there's got to be something wrong with this car that I can find because I'm worried about feeling bad myself about not having one."
The adult admits to some pangs of jealousy, then thinks, but my friend/relative /colleague/acquaintance is happy; by telling them how wonderful this is I can make them even happier (almost everyone likes to be admired and by extension for his/her possessions to be admired). The adult says,"Wow, this is great. You are one lucky so-and-so. How about taking me for a ride?"
We make the world better every day by little things.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Crawling Fear

I saw a snake the other day, and I have been thinking about it ever since. In the 20+ years I have been living in this house, it is only the second snake here that I've ever seen. This was a baby snake--maybe I should say a toddler snake. He was on my patio between me and the pool and I almost walked out barefoot when I saw him about 3 feet from the door. I took a glass of water and splashed it on his tail until he crawled away (he was probably living next door in my neighbor's jungle which he cleaned out the other day for the first time in years). The funny thing is that he did not send a chill down my spine.
I have always been deathly afraid of snakes. I grew up in the country with them. Seeing garter snakes and especially king snakes in our yard was commonplace. But in the roads and around the creek we also saw rattlesnakes and cotton mouths or water mocassins. My fear of snakes has always been so great that I put off taking Biology in college until the last year and took it in summer school because I didn't have to have a lab. Being in the lab meant being in the same room with a snake. I took the other semester of Biology by correspondance course. In high school, I had a friend find the place in the science book with the snake pictures (there were always snake pictures) and had him or her paper clip those pages together so that they wouldn't fall open accidentally and I'd have to look at them. When I was about 12 my brother chased me around my aunt's house with a realistic rubber snake that I knew was rubber, but I still screamed and ran hysterically from him. I shook for hours. I seriously considered at one time going to a psychiatrist for desensitization---that's how bad my fear was.
I hope I don't see the little snake's parents, but I would regret greatly finding him dead in my pool's filter also. I want the little snake to live, and he can live around my house as long as he keeps out of my way. I don't mind knowing that he's there somewhere. I hope he moves away when he is grown.
Now, the mysterious thing here is why do I feel this way? Why don't I want the snake dead (he didn't look like a poisonous kind by the way)? What has made me develop this sense that I don't have to run screaming from him with a cold pit in my stomach?
Another mystery of age?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Awful Everydayness of Evil

I have been thinking a lot about evil in the last few hours; actually, I have spent a lifetime thinking about it, but usually from its flip side of goodness. I think that St. Augustine said that evil was the absence of good, a definition that always felt strangely lacking to me, terribly insufficient when I was in my twenties. Now I know that the problem with an absence is that anything coming along can fill it; if there is no goodness in that void, the chances seem rather high that what falls in and gets caught there may not be very good at all. And surely Nature, being Nature, must abhor a void as much as a vacuum, so that the void fills very quickly, and indiscriminately.
How much evil comes though from the most mundane and everyday actions, thoughts that pass by unnoticed perhaps, until collecting like water from a slowly dripping faucet, these thoughts and actions that are spiteful and petty, but minor, these little digs, little selfishnesses, drip by drip drop into that void where there is an absence of goodness until the level rises and the container is a vessel of evil, until the contents define the container?
Someone else said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That rang true from the very first time that I ever heard it; I have always known instinctively that one must fight evil the best one can.

In India, according to the asramas or stages of life, one first is a student, then a householder who rears a family and provides, then as family obligations are met and the next generation is rising , one gradually retires in study and prayer living the life of the anchorite, a person who has properly focused his attentions away from the Things of the world and turned (inward or outward as the case may be) to higher Truth, to God. A renunciation of the material is the start of the journey toward the sannyasin stage where one has risen above the mundane, material, and (my take)one sees what is really important. Here is a culture that sees that one must attempt a natural progression toward goodness.
Hannah Arendt wrote of "the banality of evil", a phrase that makes me shiver and think of the everyday practicality of Nazi Germany's extermination plan. The words that caused dreadful deeds were ordinary words: "Board the train." "Take a shower." They still are: "I want that." "I want more." "I want it all." "That should be mine."
Evil usually doesn't carry a chain saw---just orders from someone else.

Friday, August 05, 2005

In Memoriam: Simon

This post is to celebrate the life of Simon and mourn his passing.
Simon was my sister's cat, a healthy white and beige male, muscular, light on his feet, quick to curl up next to you, turn on his back, and swivel his head around to see if you were ready to pet him yet. When he purred, he could be heard for miles. He loved to play, but was a gentle cat who never scratched or bit me. I could pet him until my arms were tired.
He caused acute jealousy in the heart of Darcy, the black Scottish terrier who lived with him because his winning ways would often have me petting him instead of paying attention to her. But I'm sure she wonders where he is.
I think he has been chasing imaginary mice today who run from him in a most satisfactory way, skittering across the floors of heaven while Simon proudly feels his catly prowess undiminished by his recent journey.
In the evening, I think that he sits in a welcoming lap while St Francis smooths his fur and tirelessly scratches underneath his pointed chin.
We will all miss him tremendously and miss his affection and furry presence.
There will never be another exactly like him.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Chicago

We just got back from Chicago where Jeff attended a bankruptcy conference (new bankruptcy rules!!) along with, I think, about 10,000 other lawyers, and everyone of them was trying to get on the elevator to go up at the same time we were.
I've enjoyed Chicago before, but this time there was either an inordinately large number of people vacationing in the downtown area or I'm getting really old. The last time I remember feeling so crowded in a city was in 1996 in Tijuca (Rio de Janeiro) Brazil at 4:30 in the afternoon. I like lots of people around, but I don't like to feel their breath on my bare skin as I walk down the street.
Kitties were glad to see us, I think, they're still behaving snobbishly because we've been gone. Their overall attitude is: "Well, I'll let you pet me some even though you don't deserve to."

Many pardons, Mr. Browning.
A cat's reach should always exceed his grasp, else what's an owner for.

Tchau por agora.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Time

There's never enough time--and never sleeping is not the solution.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Ah, The Pool

Finally, the pool is ready. I got in it yesterday to vacuum it some more, clean and of course to be in it. I don't know what the allure of having water surrounding you is, but I really love it; just being in it makes me happy and gives me this overall sense of well-being; it's a feeling that my husband just does not understand. When I was in graduate school the first time, I wrote a poem to my pool (the pool at the apartment complex where I lived); I spent most of my time there, lying in it or beside it most of the days when I wasn't in class, then writing or studying sitting at a table beside the water in the evening, then often going for a swim and chatting and having a glass of wine with friends while floating around at night.
We haven't turned the heat on in the pool, but it feels like a hot bath anyway. Arkansas in July.
I've been working on links for my http://www.clunygreyjewelry.com site, and have added a few in the past 2 days. It's a long tiresome business, but surprisingly, one that I don't mind as much as I would have thought. I hate that the template is messed up at the bottom on the first page, but unfortunately, there is nothing I know that I can do about that except call my webhosting people since I don't have access to it. So what made it mess up?
I need to go and create some jewelry. I only posted one eBay auction this week because I am so tired of eBay and how cheaply everything on auction sells. But I have gotten some good customers and great custom orders from being there.
The kitties are clamoring for attention. Do kitties clamor? If you have to ask, you obviously have never had cats.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Success

Yes, I do want to speak more about success later, and how I want to define it myself. I just found this quotation from Nancy Astor and I adore it:
"The penalty of success is to be bored by people who used to snub you."
Lovely.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Up All Night

Ah, once again insomnia rules---along with an aching neck. I'm sure this has something to do with the time I spend at this computer, creating links, submitting links, trying to revise pages, get code right. Who knew that a website (much less 2) were going to be such a pain.
Even Darwin, my grandkitty, who used to sleep in a basket on the desk beside me has been put off. There are too many papers, too much jewelry, and stray findings so that the basket doesn't quite fit the way it used to.
Does anyone ever get a website to the point where it requires very little maintenance? Why do I have the sinking feeling that the answer to that is a resounding "no"?
I'm waiting for the mail to come, the highlight of the day in a small town cut off from any civilized life. New beads, an Amazon box, something from Alibris, I love the anticipation.
The saga of the pool: It's almost ready to get into, and yes, I realize that this is the South in mid-July. But this town is so small that there is no pool service--just someone to open the pump in the Spring and close it in the Fall, so I have been fighting with chemicals and the rain and leaves for over 2 months. Now I just hope my skin does not break out into some ghastly rash after being in it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Blog Begins

This is the first day of something that I have never done before. I am starting my own blog.