Meating the Family

As a single mom in the early 80’s let’s say I was… “timid”… about dating.  As a first step a  friend suggested I go to a singles group at Oliver’s Carriage House in our town of Columbia, Maryland.  Soft drinks and mingling preceded breaking into discussion groups.  I met a nice man in a blue wool crew neck sweater.

Oliver’s Carriage House

olivers carriage house (2)

In my group the discussion topic was “Managing Multiple Relationships.”  Being fresh on the dating scene (meaning I hadn’t actually gone on a date since the marriage broke up) I could only think of one way to approach this topic.  I was told to speak first, so I launched into a halting statement of managing my relationships with my mother, my sisters, my kids.  The facilitator quickly moved on to the next person in the circle, who got into the heart of what multiple relationships meant in this world of singles. I learned a lot about how to handle dating more than one person at a time. I never returned to that group because I felt so naive and clueless.

However, the nice man in the blue crew neck sweater and I eventually began a relationship that culminated in our getting married three years later at Oliver’s Carriage House.

But, first, within a year or so after meeting, we decided to have our families meet each other at Christmas Eve dinner in my townhouse. In my previous life I was adept at fixing meals for a crowd, but hadn’t entertained in a long time.  I searched my clipping file and found an easy recipe for Beef Wellington that would serve 11 people.  Off I marched to the Wilde Lake butcher shop.  “How much is beef tenderloin?” I asked. Butcher replied “$9.99.”  Sounded good to me so I ordered a piece big enough to serve the crowd.

On Christmas Eve I went back to the shop to pick up and pay for the meat.  It was at that point that I realized I had ordered many pounds of meat at $9.99 a POUND.  (Obviously, I didn’t ever purchase meat that wasn’t prepackaged at the Giant grocery store.)  I didn’t even have $40 in my checking account so there was no way I could pay for that tenderloin.  I burst into tears and spurt out that I didn’t have that much money and needed to feed my possible future in-laws and whatamIgoingtodo?!

Whether it was my tears or my story, the butcher suggested that I purchase about a third of the tenderloin and also a small rib eye roast.  That way I could serve the Beef Wellington to my possible future in-laws and everyone else the cheaper meat. Worked like a charm.  Don’t the possible future in-laws look happy?

goodpasture sibs 1982

The possible future in-laws became actual in-laws a couple of years later.  It didn’t take long for me confess and now it’s one of my favorite stories.

Road Trippin’ with Meg and Bill

“You load sixteen tons and whaddya get?  Another day older and deeper in debt.”  The theme song of my childhood.  Tennessee Ernie Ford was the extra traveler in our old station wagon in the 50’s.  My sister Cindi and I would fight about “our space” in the wide back seat.  If it got bad, one of us would toss ourselves over the seat and into the “way back.”  We were free-range passengers.  No seat belts required.

The radio was always blaring.  My parents, Meg and Bill, filled the car with blue cigarette smoke and tunes that I will never forget.  “Melancholy Baby” was “their” song and one of the first we learned.  If we hit a spot with no radio reception then an acapella version of the Penn State fight song was the filler music. Frank Sinatra’s version of “Love and Marriage” was another song regular in our repertoire.

We only traveled to visit relatives, mostly my cousins.  I remember one trip to visit them in Colorado, mostly because my mother had a panic attack when we crossed the Royal Gorge Bridge.  Afraid of heights, we left her on one side as my dad drove us over and back just to say we did it.

Image result for royal gorge

My dad never wanted to stop for meals or potty breaks.  Any meal in the car was peanut butter and jelly brought from home in used brown bags.  Pee breaks were a stop on the side of the road, squatting in the weeds.  Oh, how I hated that.  I only remember one trip when we stopped and pulled into a little general store/Esso station somewhere in South Georgia for a break.  We begged our parents to buy us bottles of Coke for 5 cents from the old freezer style vending machine.  We were rarely allowed to get a soft drink and we were so tickled that I remember Cindi and I being struck with a case of the giggles. One of my favorite photos:

ann cindi 1952

I come from a family of travelers on the Galt side. My grandparents took my mother and her brother on frequent visits to sites in Pennsylvania.  Gettysburg became as familiar to them as their backyard. This is from a trip in 1938.  Not sure why my grandfather always wore a tie.  And a hat, for that matter.

galt kids on rock

Twice a year we traveled to visit the other grandparents, the Calverts, who lived on a farm in northwest Pennsylvania.  It was a trip of several hours and the excitement didn’t start until we turned left onto the hilly road that led to the farm lane.  There was one particular hill that my dad would speed up and then it seemed like the whole car floated down the other side.  It gave us little “stomach thrills.”  My sister Cindi, after several trips, decided that it was the sweater she was wearing that made her stomach lurch on that hill.  She demanded we turn around and do it again without her sweater on to see if that worked.  Of course, my dad, went slower this time time so she didn’t feel the affect.  From then on, whenever we approached that hill she made sure to have her sweater off.

farm ann cindi

I have always been a person who likes to explore new places and have traveled all my life.  The Galt blood runs strong in me. In the car, I often find my self humming “Sixteen Tons.”

Whose Idea was This?

This came up on my Goodreads Twitter feed today:  If you were transported to the setting of the book you are currently reading, where would you be?

Ever since I started reading the Canadian author Louise Penny’s Gamache series I’ve wanted to live in her fictional setting of Three Pines, Canada.  I know what it looks like in my imagination.  I go there often.  I know where every single structure is located. I can find my way around the village green blindfolded. Mostly I think of it as a place of serenity and coziness, but that’s weird because the community has a very high murder rate! (Watch out if she introduces a new character.  He/she is a goner.)

I have chosen my seat at the Bistro.  It’s in one of those four upholstered chairs by the huge fireplace.   A bowl of soup, a chunk of bread, a hunk of cheese and a good book are required.  Oh, and wine.  Red wine.  I will have chosen my book at Myrna’s book store.

I got the “Barnes and Noble Special Edition” of Penny’s most recent book and started it today.  The edition is “special,” the cover sticker said, because there is a map of Three Pines included.

But whose map is it?  It doesn’t depict MY Three Pines. My Three Pines has a different layout.  I know how to get from Clara’s house to Ruth’s house in my mind. But the Special Edition map has placed houses and shops where they don’t belong.  The church must have been relocated in a tornado.  I try to unsee the map inside the front cover, but it’s stuck in my head.  Like when my sister sent me a gross video of a skin cyst exploding.  Can’t unsee THAT!

I had the main character, Armando Gamache, pictured in my head.  Then somebody went and made a movie of the first book in the series, “Still Life.”  They didn’t consult with me before casting Gamache and got it all wrong.  I’m fighting that image, too.

Perhaps I’ve gotten way too involved with Penny’s characters and setting.  I have feelings for and about them.  When I’m reading her books I transport myself to Three Pines.  MY Three Pines, not the publisher’s vision of the old village on the banks of the Bella Bella River.  I love how some books suck me in so I feel transported to another place.  I just wish the publishers and casting people wouldn’t mess with my head.

 

 

The S*** Hits the Van

“This vehicle is not moving!  Look at the traffic backed up behind us!”  It was my turn behind the wheel of our 1973 orange VW camper as our family of four made its way from Heidelberg, Germany to Italy on a camping vacation. I was convinced the engine had malfunctioned on the steep Austrian alpine pass. It was mid-summer, the snow had finally melted, and the steep highway just recently opened to travelers.

In the back seat the girls – one toddler and one just past toddlerhood – were beginning to ask “Are we there yet?”  We had spent a restless night camped out in a park in southern Germany.  My Starter Husband had pulled another panic attack (read previous blog post) in the evening and not knowing whether or not to look for the nearest “Krankenhaus” (hospital) I hadn’t slept well.  Nobody had.  Van-full of cranky people, fueled by orange peanut butter crackers and boxed juice.  This two-week vacation was not off to a happy start.

The VW was not broken, just suffering an overburdened engine straining to cross the Alps. Practically coasting down the other side, we were relieved to finally arrive in Italy and a campground near Pisa.  With the top of the camper popped up and a small tent attached to the side of the van, we made ourselves at home.  Bedtime came and I gathered up girls, towels and toiletries for the trek to the communal shower and toilet building.  We had a small porta-potty in the van for emergencies when on the road, but bath time meant a flashlight hike to the not-that-great-smelling cinder block building.

The entrance had a ledge to step over.  Since I was burdened like a pack horse I never saw the step, tumbled to the ground and heard a faint snap from my foot.  “NO!  This can’t be real,” I thought.  For a few days I ignored the pain and laced my sneakers up tighter for support.  Seeing me limp, the German doctor camped next to us pronounced that the foot was “kaput.”  An astute observation as I hobbled around chasing kids.

We weren’t far from the US military base near Pisa so we drove to their medical facility where a tech did an xray and assured me there was no break and wrapped the foot in Ace bandages.

The vacation (and the pain) continued as we traveled to Venice.  At our final stop at a beach campground on the Venetian Lido we were awakened one night by the camp manager.  We had a phone call in the office.  What the . . . ?  Our best friends and neighbors back in Heidelberg had our itinerary but we never expected them to track us down.  They let us know that my mother-in-law had died.

Early the next morning we literally folded our tent and unpopped the pop top and decided to drive straight through to grab a military transport plane back to the States (Leaving the girls with Rosemary and Danny for what turned out to be a pretty long time. We still owe them a return babysitting gig 40 years later.)

Once again we found ourselves on a beastly hot June day creeping across the Alps going north.  Bathroom emergencies happened.  Several times.  Did I mention it was hot?  Since this porta-potty had no “max capacity” fill line we didn’t keep track.  One final poop did it.  The pot exploded inside the van sending a shower of unmentionable sewage into the air.   From one person’s point of view this was unimaginably hysterical.  From the other person’s view point it was a sign of gross household mismanagement.  If you know me, you know which was my reaction.  This camping vacation was our last.  (After an xray in a Florida hospital I was diagnosed with a broken foot.)

Frohliche Weihnacten

It was a bleak day in the military transport terminal at Dover AFB in New Jersey, 1974.  Christmas Eve Eveand sniveling toddlers, anxious wives, and nervous Army recruits were jammed together as close as marbles in a bag in the cold green-walled and dirty linoleum floored boarding area.  We were waiting for the delayed overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany and a new Dept of Army civilian employee posting in Kaiserslautern.

Our nine month old was at the far limit of her tolerance for the car seat. The (starter) Husband was anxiously pacing and looked as if he was in pain.  Then he told me he WAS in pain and was going to go to the emergency room on base.  Maybe he was having a heart attack at 28 years old!  “Stay here,” he said, “and board the plane if it gets to that point.”  Oh, that struck terror in my heart!  Fly to Germany with a toddler and no knowledge of the language – by myself?! 

Of course, the time came to queue up and no sign of The Husband.  People with empty hands helped carry the kid, the baggage, the coats, the scarves ,and mittens for three travelers.  This was not a luxury plane, but some sort of military charter and there was little room for comfort in our 5 across row.  In a state of panic, tears flowing, hands shaking, I felt both relieved and angry when he boarded just before door closing.  Having suffered an anxiety attack he was blissfully high on Xanax and immediately fell asleep for the next 8 hours.  

We were met in the Frankfurt terminal by Benno, a German co-worker who spoke excellent English and drove us to the Visiting Officers’ Quarters on base.  At a service plaza on the autobahn we stopped to get coffee.  I took the baby with me into the Ladies Room where I discovered pay toilets.  I had no German coins and was too embarrassed to ask for help.  Looking around to make sure we were alone, I slithered under the door and yanked the baby through the opening.  I don’t even want to think about the condition of the floor we were mopping with our bodies.

I began to calm as we sped along the highway.  Baby finally slept. Snow covered the ground just enough to decorate the pine trees and roof tops.  Little villages, looking so different from our home town, reminded me of the miniature towns set up along a model railroad train track. Tiled roofs, candles in the windows. I was exhausted, sad at being away from family on Christmas, and apprehensive about this new life beginning in a foreign country.  

To my surprise, when we arrived at our temporary housing we found our rooms softly lighted and a small tree decorated with handmade ornaments and paper chains.  Other families in the same situation welcomed us and fed us, and best of all, took the baby for a few hours so we could settle in.  Christmas Eve was peaceful and calm and after all the chaos was a time to reflect on the moment and the adventure ahead of us.

Am I Really Creative?

The subject of creativity came up in a talk with a friend the other day.  The friend is surrounded by a creativity halo.  She oozes inventiveness. Not only does she express her creativity through her art, but her clothes and her home highlight her love of creative adventure.

I thought more about the subject later and began comparing my creativity with hers.  I have always thought, and continue to think, of myself as a creative person.  Each of us expresses it in a way unique to our personality.  I would describe myself as a “constrained creative” person. Show me a Pinterest idea and I can replicate it.  Put a coloring book in front of me and I create through the colors I choose, the shading I add, and how I choose to fill in the blank space.  Can I ink those fantastical ocean creatures?  Sketch a simple scene?  Nope, but working on a coloring page of art someone else drew is satisfying and fills my need to create – even within the frame of someone else’s creative work.  I appreciate their gift and I appreciate that they have given me a platform to express myself.

fish coloring

In my “studio” is a very large work table originally purchased for laying out and cutting fabric to make quilts.  For years this was my way of expressing my creativity.  Was it all original?  Not from the standpoint of design.  There are thousands of books out there with detailed quilt designs and instructions.  As a matter of fact, I get satisfaction out of exact cutting and measuring according to a plan devised by another quilter.  I get pleasure from precision cutting and piecing, but mostly what pleases me is choosing and putting together fabrics.  A quilt shop stacked with bulging bolts of fabric can give me heart palpitations.  When I get frustrated or tired of a project I listen to the echo of Libby whispering in my ear, “There is no prize for finishing that!”  Actually, there may be. Photo below.

steff wedding quilt

For years I kept a giant closet stacked floor to ceiling with fabric – yardage chunks, leftover 2” squares, “orphan” blocks I’d made and abandoned.  I spent hours sorting fabric.  Sometimes into piles of the same color family. Sometimes by the print (plaid, geometric, whimsical).  Sometimes by ugly. Being creative doesn’t always mean a finished product is produced.  But the time spent in that space freed my mind to wander, think about potential projects, and just get away from whatever anxiety I was currently suffering.

Many years ago I was inspired to recreate in fabric a Chinese painting I’d bought on a trip to China.  I tried to reproduce in fabric and beads what I saw on the paper.  Then I gave the original painting to my daughter and was able to keep my representation of it as a souvenir.

china quilt

Currently that work table is scattered with the tools for other trips into creative areas that caught my interest.  Scattered with tools from impulsive trips to Sam Flax.  For a while, it was watercolor painting that attracted me.  Another friend is one of those creators who is not afraid to try anything.  She was in a watercolor phase and it looked fun.  And I tried it for a month or so.  The process was rewarding when I had Pam by my side to tell me exactly how to proceed.  On my own, I was frustrated by my inability to paint on paper what I saw in my head or in a photograph.  I was just as happy mixing colors and laying them down on paper with no attempt to paint a picture.  So….the watercolors are in a lovely handcrafted tote bag, made by another creative friend, waiting for another day to be used in whatever creative mood I’m in.

work table

Hand lettering and calligraphy supplies – they are on the table, too.  Years ago I worked as a professional calligrapher.  The exactness required, the proper thick and thin lines, and controlling the ink just so made me happy.  I didn’t come up with my own inspirational phrases and often even the layout was “borrowed” from another designer.  But it was the process that I loved.

Now I am trying a less formal method of lettering called “modern calligraphy.”  It’s funny how the training from my days of precision lettering hamper my style.  It is difficult for me to develop a loose, casual method of hand writing. But, oh, I love the practice.  I love grabbing a pen and a lined sheet of paper and practicing forming the letters over and over in a march across the page.  Is this creativity?  For me, it is, because it allows my mind to wander and it takes me out of myself for a bit.

So am I creative?  I still choose to think of myself as a creative person even though I don’t fit a standard definition of a creator (gifted, ingenious, innovative, inventive, productive, prolific, visionary). I have a need to express myself in creative arts.  I allow myself the time to “waste” hours lettering, knitting, sewing, and writing because it is a real need for me.  Take away my toys and I will wither.  I’ll be boring.  I’ll be sad.

Let’s just say:  you be creative your way and I’ll be creative my way.  I may envy a particular skill you have, but I know I can adapt that to suit my creative needs.  And I thank you for your inspiration.

+Write about Cabbage

“Write about cabbage” was the prompt for the writing assignment.  Though the word cabbage conjured up images of food, the subject didn’t “speak” to me. How about cabbage roses instead?  Specifically, the faded pink cabbage rose wallpaper in the room I called mine at my grandparents’ house – a red brick two-story built in 1918.  I suspect this was the original wallpaper.  Maybe it faded over time as the sun on the south side of the house streamed through the one large window.  A window covered by the old-fashioned roll-up shade at bedtime, but during the day the dotted Swiss sheer curtains were the only protection for the cabbage roses.

Remembering that room makes me feel the love that my grandparents surrounded me with when I spent time there. Something about a white chenille bedspread – with the chenille pattern running in horizontal waves across its width – brings back a sense of comfort.

Because my father was serving in the Army Air Corps at the end of WWII he was stationed far away when I was born.  My mother and I lived with the Galt grandparents during all his deployments.  I was born two blocks up from 40 Parker Street in a full-on snow storm. My mother and grandfather walked those blocks to Carlisle Memorial because the roads were impassable.

(Photo below:  40 Parker Street, Carlisle, PA ca.1930.  My mother Mary Galt and her brother John.)

40 parker.jpg

I was born during the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945.  While Carlisle Memorial was producing a small number of babies, the Battle of the Bulge killed over 19,000 Americans on the Western Front.  It turned out to be the second most lethal American battle and was the last major German campaign on the European front.  The “baby boom” came in the 1946-55 years when men returned from WWII.

My room – the cabbage rose room – was across the hall from the bathroom with the white porcelain claw-footed bathtub. I remember happy times as I splashed water onto the white hexagonal tiled floor and was never reprimanded by Marty, the chief bath-giver to me and my cousins.

Marty and her husband lived in the attic of 40 Parker.  This space was re-done to accommodate this middle-aged couple who had come on hard times and needed a place to live and needed employment.  They lived there in exchange for work they did around the house.  It was a special treat to be invited up the steps to make cookies with Marty.

Marty tended my mother during her post-partum days.  That was after she had already spent the usual (for that time) ten days in the hospital recovering from a normal childbirth.  Marty was as necessary to running that household as the regular delivery of coal in the winter.

When I was four or so Marty taught me how to roll bandages for the troops.  Strips torn from soft old sheets were destined to wrap wounds of soldiers injured in battle.

Cabbage rose wallpaper seems to have gone out of fashion by the time my grandparents built a new modern house in the early 1950’s.  Occasionally I’ll see a photo of a “retro” bedroom with that distinctive look and remember the comfort of that old house and “my” room.

The Party’s Over (Almost)

Steff and I had been excitedly anticipating our visit to the Night Market in Siem Reap. Especially the foot massage place with free drag show.

We had spent the afternoon with Mr Mot and his tuk tuk #17. We asked him to take us to shops that sold items made in Cambodia. Most of the silk in the markets is from China and we wanted the locally made silk items we saw being made by hand. We had purchased some at the workshop but needed scarves.

Mr Mot took us to a local shop run by a young man and his dad. Lovely shop with luscious silk work. I fell in love with a wall hanging that will go on the dining room wall. Embroidered silk.

We spent a long time deciding on scarves. John was getting antsy and the dad finally urged him to sit down and have some (very strong!) coffee.

Next we visited a hot dirty workshop where disabled people were carving wood pieces to sell. Many were deaf and some maimed by landmines.

Continuing our journey under gray threatening clouds (June 1 is beginning of monsoon season so we were testing our luck) we shopped at a small market that was filled with treasures. After realizing the “boys” were hovering over us, we send them off to have a beer so we could continue unsupervised.

Needed a cool down after that exertion!

Dinner was Cambodian food at a restaurant recommended by Mr Mot. Good choice. Maybe he gets a kickback from all the places he took us. He only charged $18 for six hours.

So now the boys are done. D.O.N.E. we sent them back to the hotel with Mr M and Steff and I remained at the lively Night Market. We wandered a round trying to find the massage/drag show combo, but when we finally located the shop with bright pink chairs it was closed! Bummer.

Mr Mot wasn’t due to pick us up for an hour so we retired to the Red Piano bar on Pub Street. Soon the sky opened up with a monsoon-like rain (go figure). After beers we skedaddled to our meeting spot and got zipped into the tuk tuk for a spectacular ride home. Hundreds of motorbikes, tuk tuks, small cars, bicycles and thick clots of pedestrians dodging the deepening rain puddles.

Today we were up at 4:30 to catch our ride to the airport for our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. By the time we figured out how to get to our airport hotel it was mid-afternoon.

Short nap and then grabbed a train to downtown KL.

Scenery shot from train window:

Our destination? Yet another market! But we grabbed the golden ring with this one. We found a tiny little shop when a husband and wife team designed motifs for batik on cotton. For a small amount we could purchase one of their designs and paint it right there in the little shop. It was so much fun.! We. Od have stayed hours and done many more. Steff’s lotus flower is just stunning.

Finally we rounded out the guys and found a great Chinese place for dinner. Spring rolls were the absolute best I’ve ever tasted!

Hopped the train back to the airport hotel in time for the call to prayer. There’s an arrow on our ceiling pointing to the direction of Mecca.

I leave you with a shot of fresh food seen in the market stalls. I could barely stand to look at it. The name creeped me out.

Now it’s time for sleep on our last night of this adventure. Tomorrow night we fly to Singapore, 5 hr layover, flight to Manchester,UK 12 hours 💤, then Manchester to Houston, Houston to Atlanta, Atlanta to ORL. home will look mighty sweet in the wee small hours of Wed.

Earned My Adventure Badge

Yesterday. A day I will never forget — for a lot of reasons. From the quiet wonder of sunrise over an ancient temple to climbing over fallen rocks and big blocks of stone from the 11 the century to the brutal heat and humidity of a vast even older temple in mid afternoon. And sharing all this with my kid. Seeing her joy in being here makes my heart so happy. 😅

We were awake a 0400 to prepare for 0440 pick up by Mr. Vantha. The hotel set out 4 boxed breakfasts to go, along with coffee. We opted to view sunset from stone steps across a small lake from the temple. Much less crowded and quiet.

Then, while about a hundred million Chinese tourists crossed the floating bridge to get in, we repaired to a table that the guide, Mr Borey, found for us nearby. The breakfast box for each of us contained 4 pastries, 2 hard boiled eggs, an apple and a banana, and assorted jellies.

The bananas here are very small but the flavor cannot be compared to what we get at our grocery stores. The fruit has a much deeper, sweeter flavor. I’m not crazy about bananas but these are a treat!

To see AngkorWat opened my eyes to the accomplishments of people so many centuries ago. I can’t imagine how many Slavens lives were lost in the construction of these massive buildings. Some have an interior structure of lava stone blocks (lighter), faced by heavy limestone blocks. This culture also figured out the vaulted ceiling.

The elaborate and detailed stone carving decorations on the wall must have taken such a long time to craft. And in this heat!!

This one below appears shinier than the others because tourists (Chinese. The Cambodians like to blame everything on the Chinese tourists.) have touched and rubbed their hands in this woman’s body.

The Buddha statues were once Hindu but by dressing them in bright”clothes” they become Buddha– depends on who’s in charge in a particular era. Now totally Buddhist.

If you wish a blessing there are monks, young and old, here to provide.

Or you can simply take time by yourself to reflect.

To reach the highest part of Angkor Wat there a very steep steps to climb. Now normally John is not allowed on a ladder (my rule) but an exception was made because this ladder (they called them steps. Ha!) John was determined to climb. Mr Borey said he would stay below with me. While we were waiting there he told me he does this 4 or 5 times a week in high season so was happy to have an excuse to sit this one out.

See the brightly colored shirts? That’s my people.

So relieved to see John come down!

Now our shirts are soaked. Really soaked. A few more pix to take though.

On the way out Steff and Phil were physically accosted by Chinese tourists to be in photos with them. They are both so distinctively tall that it was quite the attraction. They literally had to tear themselves away because more and more would try to pull them into their group. John and I were not in demand.

Oh, it felt so good to get into Mr Vantha’s old Lexus with AC all the way up. I sat in front t because “I ask better questions!” Lucky me. I just keep firing them off to earn that sacred spot in front of the AC vent!

Next stop Ta Prohm where, we were told over and over, “Tomb Raiders” was filmed. A lot of mention of Angelina Jolie, but I’m not sure of the connection.

This was my very favorite spot of the day. Jungle-y with twisty vines and roots coming from above and below. Piles of tumbled down stone blocks to climb over. And trees that have grown right over the ancient buildings for centuries.

Look at these small stone carvings that look like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or maybe they are ancient emojis.

Actually, before they eroded we think they were closed lotus flowers – a symbol of purity.

Moving along (speaking of moving along, here’s a billboard shot by Stephanie)

One last temple to see. Scheduled for two hours. I was dropping, as was John. And it wasn’t even noon yet. We convinced Mr Borey to do a shortened version. Even so, my Fitbit goal for the day was long past and I was in overtime.

This temple was a city for a king. Quite spread out. And, of course, many steps to climb.

It’s all so old! And such a wonder when you think about the engineering of these structures and the labor to make them. At this city we found a wall was in the process of being chiseled for decoration, then suddenly stopped. The king died so it appears the laborers tossed their chisels over their shoulders mid-carving and left the job!

Sort of like me in this photo.

We returned to the luxury of our hotel and headed for the shower!

Steff and I scheduled 3 pm pedicures and foot massages. A whole new pedicure experience as you see below. Yes we got the giggles. Position similar to pelvic exam. If there had been a speculum in sight I was ready to flee. See pedi lady laughing?

Naps followed. Then once again to Haven restaurant for dinner. It is so good and comfy and cheap!

We were taken there in Tuk Tuk #17 driven by Mr Mot (“moot”) who insisted on waiting for us. On the way back to the hotel in a re-creation of Mr Toad’s Wild Ride at night with thousands of motorscooters and no apparent traffic rules, Mr Mot #17 offered to drive us around today.

So he’s picking us up at 2 pm and we have him until 8 pm for a total of $18. He’ll take us shopping and to our foot-massage-with-drag-show experience.

Tomorrow we have an early flight to Kuala Lumpur where we spend the night before our evening flight on Monday back home.

My view right now from my balcony.

Happy day!

Being Pampered in Siem Reap

We arrived at the Sofitel Angkor Wat mid afternoon. When Budi heard where we were staying he said, “Oh, they open the doors for you.” He’s right. Just as we approach a door someone appears out of the woodwork to open it for us have to say I like that!!

Somehow we again got an upgraded room. The grounds at this place are something out of the French Colonial era, as are the buildings. The staff throw in a little French at every opportunity. Here are some photos from the grounds.

Steff researched restaurants and found Haven. It was established by a Swiss couple to help Cambodian youth who come from rural areas and from orphanages, in their late teens/early 20’s to learn to work in the restaurant industry. They are trained for 16 months and then go to permanent job. The food is locally grown and prepared fresh.

We got there via a $4 tuk tuk

Ride through the city.

The meals were very flavorful, each ingredient standing out yet blending in. I had Cognac Marinated Pork Ribs. Yum!

This morning our driver, Mr Sophal, picked us up at

8:30 and we drove out of town a ways. Such very poor villages. So much plastic waste piled high. Naked kids running here and there. Extremely skinny white cows wandering free. I paved roads. Minimal toilets. Here’s a smattering of what we saw in our drive.

Driving on a dirt road for about 15 minutes brought is to a muddy canal with lots of primitive boats.

Here’s our cute boat man.

We rode through a remote floating village. The rainy season is just getting started so the boats are pretty high up now. Soon the water will rise to almost the bottom floor of these houses.

Our destination was a floating shack out on Tonle Sap Lake that served as a beer break for us.

Look at this cute baby playing with mom nearby.

The boat ride was an eye opener to the poverty and lack of services to these people.

Now back into the city and out the other side to a silk farm. To me, this was absolutely fascinating! Step by step we learned the prices and had hands on experiences. I even held a silkworm.

Cocoons

We walked through the whole process of making silk. No wonder it’s so expensive — unless you get machine made from China.

Stephanie got into the tying routine quickly.

Like any good artisanal workshop, this one exited through the gift shop. I may or may not have made purchases. Hmmm I did need a new eyeglass case…

Now we are pooped and hungry and so Mr S drives us back to the hotel. We went into the bar/lounge where I had a tuna sandwich and a wine flight. You know what happens after a wine flight at 3 in the afternoon. Zzzzzzzzz

Tonight we ate at the hotel and watched a Cambodian dance review. The costumes were elaborate and I don’t know how they made the quick changes. It was fun seeing one group get the giggles. I could relate to that.

The first part of the show was instruments only. Or maybe they were just tuning up. Hard to tell. You decide.

Dancers

Tomorrow we meet our driver Mr Vantha at 4:40 am for a sunrise trip to the temples of Angkor Wat. The hotel is providing a box breakfast.

Here’s the thing that bothers me most. I sweat more than the average bear. It is so very hot and I can’t be outside for two minutes before my face starts melting down to my chest. Kleenex can’t keep up. I look around — no one else sweating like me. In Florida I just stay inside, but now we’re viewing great wonders and I just have to put up with it. Anyway.

Bed all turned down and calling my name. Bon sour, as they say here.