Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nighttime Visions

At night, when I am having trouble sleeping, I do one thing: envision what I would do to my house if I had unlimited funds! ha! I am hoping that this year I will be able to re-do my kitchen and these are my inspiration photos. They have their own file folder on my computer...

Can  you see a theme? Sigh. One of these days I'll have my own itsy bitsy white kitchen!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cancer Shmancer

So. I barely know what to say. About two weeks before leaving for our trip to Spain, I visited an endocrinologist who promptly pointed out that I had "something" on my thyroid. We waited to biopsy the "something" until after our trip and I pushed it out of my mind. I had googled thyroid nodule and saw the statistic that 95% of all nodules on a thyroid are benign and assumed I would be part of that group. Well, I'm not. I found out that the results of the biopsy were positive for cancer on my way home from visiting my friend, Laura. Fast forward about 3 weeks and I am now writing this post, at home, after having my entire thyroid and several lymph-nodes removed from my neck. 

I have many things to be grateful for. (1) The cancer I have is one of the most curable forms of cancer (2) the relapse rate is very low (3) no chemo, although I will have radiation (4) my family and (5) my friends. I have been blown away over the past few days how much the people in my life care about me! I've received, flowers, cards, books, magazines, emails, texts, phone calls, etc. all asking me how I was doing and how they can help. I have to say, just hearing everyone's love and knowing that so many people are praying for me is enough. I am thankful to God for His provision and strength during this time and while the next several weeks are going to be hard, as my body depletes its stores of thyroid hormone in preparation for the radioiodine treatment, I will try to remember to be grateful again. 

So to all of my dear friends, I love you all very much and you have made this yucky situation infinitely more bearable than it would have been otherwise.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Barcelona: Day Nine

We woke up bright and early on our last day in Spain. Our intention was to spend the day in the Eixample district, but not before visiting the Joan Miro museum on the opposite side of the city. This is one of the things I love about public transportation; our detour to Montjuic did not add any significant time travel-wise to our day. The metro system is fast, easy and cheap.
After taking the funicular to the top of Montjuic (no way I was going to climb that), we arrived at the Miro museum and had a lovely time enjoying a large collection of the artist's works. I do believe that the museum houses many more of Miro's significant works, unlike the Picasso museum. Again, NO FOTOS, but were able to snap away to our hearts content at the sculptures by Miro outside the building.
Being a lover of modern art (I know that just sounds insufferable, right?), I enjoyed seeing the unexpected and Miro just has that down. From gigantic wool wall hanging, monolithic sculptures and teeny tiny paintings you never know what you are going to see from one corner to the next. It was a delightful way to spend the morning.
And then it off to another corner of the city to see the Sagrada Familia. I will be honest with you. I hate Gaudi. Yes, it is true. I have seen many photos of this work in progress and this is what I think every time I see it..."UGLY UGLY UGLY". In fact, I disliked it enough to put it on the very last day of our trip so that I could avoid it for as long as possible.
But I could not, in good conscience, skip seeing the cathedral all together as my traveler's heart would be sad that I had knowingly skipped a renowed UNESCO World Heritage Site. And I just cannot do that.
 So we went.
Here is the melty chaos in all of its glory.

Once we got to the other side, which I had never seen pictured, I kind of tilted my head and though, "hey that's kind of cool."
Instead of the typical sculptural overload you see in most cathedrals, this side of the building had refreshingly few. Instead of being overwhlemed, I was able to take in each individual tableu and understand exactly what it was depicting.
See what I mean?
And then I walked inside...
and my heart grew three sizes a la the Grinch. IT.WAS.STUNNING.
Not to sound too flippant about the beautiful Cathedrals I've visited, but really, after the first couple they all start to blend together. Not this place. I will say that I think it was the most beautiful cathedral I have ever visited. ever.

The Sagrada Familia is still under construction. While much of the interior has been completed, you can still see evidence of work that needs to be done in the incomplete stained glass windows. My father visited several years ago and when he came, it still didn't have a roof! It has come a long way.

Those windows that have been completed are  light, airy and just beautiful. Again, in contrast to the typical cathedral with it's thick panes, these glass windows allowed the light to flow right in to the building.
The staircases pictured below were incomplete and were cordoned off, but from what you can see aren't hey lovely?!

The tour of the church grounds don't stop with the cathedral. Gaudi designed a little school for the benefit of the artisan's children and it is still there, although it has now been coverted to a museum. The Sagrada Familia is financed entirely by the entry fees of the tourists who come and visit. It should be completed in about 30 years...which is exciting. It will be in my lifetime. And I will come back to see it finished. What a day that will be!
After our tour, we strolled in the park across from the cathedral and grabbed a wonderfully inexpensive lunch. As were walking by, I noticed this street with its cutie pie curved trees. I wonder how they got them to grow like that?
After lunch we made our way to see another of Antoni Gaudi's creations; Parc Guell.
Intended to be the beginning of a high income housing development, Parc Guell flopped. According to Rick Steves, none of the social elite wanted to live so far out from the city center. But as a park? A success!
Aha! Now here is some more of the Dr. Seuss-like architecture I have come to expect from Gaudi (which rhymes with gaudy).
Still, it was whimsical and sweet. Gaudi never seemed to take himself too seriously.
Parc Guell is located at ome of the highest vantage points in the Barcelona, and my goodness, you get rewarded with some spectacular views of the city. You can see all the way to the mediterranean.

Antoni Gaudi's house, which is located inside the park, is suprisingly understated. I thought it would look like a melting cupcake, but no - I thought it was charming.
The grounds are covered in these covered rocky colonades.
He intended them to become an outdoor market for the residents of the housing development.
What Caroline and I enjoyed the most, was taking in the views and resting in the shade. Up this high the breeze was cool and brisk.
I am including the photo below as an example of the non-tourist parts of town. These blog posts are full of the lovely gothic architecture of the old city, but this is how much of Barcelona looks. Simple and utiliarian.

Back in the cute part of town, we settled in for our last dinner in Barcelona, and my was it a feast!
Barcelona at dusk is just beginning to come to life. Families, dogs and friends were all about enjoying the relative coolness of the evening.
Below I make Caroline and Leanne pose inder the rmains of a Roman aqueduct.
In this particular plaza, about a 3 minutes walk from our hotel, it was also possible to see the remains of the Roman fortefied walls. It is astonishing to me sometimes to be so casually confronted by history.
After treating ouselves to some more ice cream, we headed back to our hotel to begin the long re-packing process. The next morning we had an early brekfast and headed right over to the airport to begin the long, tedious journey home. Leanne was happy that the airport police let her pack her huge knife (this was quite the drama) and I was happy that all six of my heavy ceramic plates made it home in one piece! Of course I had to hand carry them the entire time. Caroline remained smug on the way home, with her carry on and tiny mementos.
We had the time of our lives on this trip and I am so thankful I was able to spend it with my sisters!