gratitude-a-thon day 285: home!

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I was so happy to see my boy!

There’s no place like home. Especially if you have a dog. And especially if your dog has had a back problem and has had to recover without you! I am pathetically in love with Riley and I worried about him while we were gone. One, because of his little injury, but two because he really experiences anxiety when we leave him. Anyway, he gave us a 21 gun salute welcome home, which consisted of running up and down the hall, and then purring in my arms. The flight, 11 hours in total travel time, didn’t seem quite as bad as it did on the way there. Not sure if that’s because it always seems longer when you’re going somewhere, or because we had a sliver more leg room. I did manage to watch like 100 movies. Not really, but maybe.

However, it was not without trauma. At the Barcelona airport, I had to go to the bathroom, and it was sort of far from the gate, so I ran, and when I got back to the gate, I was sweating, so I took off my FAVORITE LEATHER JACKET. Then I was hungry (Gawd, I am high maintenance) so Ally and I went to the little cafe and got a ham and cheese (because what’s a day without HAM?). When got back to our seats, Peter had packed up the cart and was in line to board, and you know what I’m going to say, so why don’t you just all say it in unison: “YOUR FAVORITE LEATHER JACKET WAS GONE.” You are so smart. Yup, someone was casing us out and they snatched that thing from the seat when I went to get my HAM sandwich. I was sort of devastated. I know that’s stupid, and it was a just a jacket but IT WAS MY FAVORITE LEATHER JACKET. Yeah, so that happened, and I cried for like 30 minutes, but it was sort of mixed crying because I also crying because I had to leave Jake. But still, I was sobbing and the flight attendants were looking at me weird, but then I fell asleep and woke up and ate the HAM sandwich and felt a little better. I am wondering if this HAM thing is a good approach to anything that ails you?

Anyway, the trip was amazing, but Jake got very, very sick on Tuesday night and so we missed two days of being able to do stuff with him, which was very upsetting, in addition to the fact that he was very sick, with a high fever and terrible backache, headache and in the category of TMI, the runs. He rallied for our Thanksgiving dinner with the American Society of Barcelona, but just for dinner. Then it was back to the bathroom. This was mucho unfortunate because we missed a great night with his host family and he missed Sagrada Familia and Tibidabo and Picasso. But these are the natural disasters we’re prisoners of. Nothing you can do about getting sick.

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There is no way to properly show the magnitude of Sagrada Familia, the largest church I have ever seen, and which has been in the making for 200 years. Gaudi was its priciple designer and it is evident everywhere. Looking at this masterpiece of art, could make anyone a believer.

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the ceiling of Sagrada. I wish I could explain the immensity.

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Here we are inside the magnificent Sagrada Familia.

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A quick trip to Tibidabo, the highest point in the city. A winding road in a cab. but worth it.

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A view of the city. You could see France.

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Our hilarious Thanksgiving night at the American Society of Barcelona. Food was great. And our table had three people from Connecticut, two who were Barcelona transplants, and one who grew up with on of my best childhood friends–Stephanie!

But Barcelona is an interesting city. There is a cornucopia of architecture (Who would have imagined I’d use the word “cornucopia” on Thanksgiving weekend, but it would not be related to Thanksgiving itself). I am big on just walking a city to get a feel for it and we put in the miles. Our hotel was perfect, although we didn’t get to experience the roof deck pool and restaurant due to the weather, but its location was prime, right off La Rambla and near La Boqueria, which really was the best market I have ever set foot in. I kept imagining how fun it would be to cook if I could go there everyday for fresh foods. Perhaps it would make even my cooking taste good. Probably not, but a girl can dream.

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Ally carefully selecting chocolate for her friends at La Boqueria.

I think that the weather has so much to do with your impression of a place. My sister always says this and she’s right. Our weather was excellent, sunny everyday, but chillier than I had expected and hoped. I can imagine that I would have had a a whole different impression and trip if Barcelona was like 10 or 15 degrees warmer. It’s definitely a city made for sunny and warm, with hoardes of outdoor cafes, and miles of coast, which we only saw from a convertible tour bus, because it was way too cold to put our toes in the sand, or sit for hours sipping coffee street-side.

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A courtyard in the Barcelona University, Jake’s school.

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Our hotel lobby.

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We don’t know what this is, but it was really cool!

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A little side street.

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Just some of the intricate detail on any given building.

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Another street.

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Ham is a major food group in Barcelona. I ate it everyday!

And I think that could be why I have been finding it so hard to characterize Barcelona, which has been irking me. If I’d been able to taste the outdoor cafe, and beach life, I may have gotten a sense of this city’s true character. Without it, I couldn’t really find the sizzle. Still, I found it charming, with depth and some truly breath taking sights.

But of course, if we’d gone in a better weather month, we’d have missed the dazzling array of Christmas lights. And that was really something I’ll never forget. And the whole reason we went in the first place was to see Jake. So, that’s that. And I’m grateful we were able to go, chill in the air, sick kid, missed time with host family, no beach, and stolen jacket, aside. Beause there was HAM. LOTS OF HAM. And I was like so gosh darn down with that.

But, ah, home. My bed felt delicious and even though I have a pile of work to do and ALL MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TO GET DONE, I am happy to be back. And my boy will be here in just 20 days. He’s grown up so much since he’s been gone. I am so grateful to a city that has become part of his identity. Lucky Jake. Lucky us.

gratitude-a-thon day 284: un poco vacation–sorry

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I love flower motifs and Barcelona has a lot of them all over the place. This one was inside Sagrada Famila. This place is beyond the beyond.

We here (meaning me, here) at the gratitude-a-thon have been on vacation. And we’re sorry that we didn’t get it together to arrange for guest bloggers to regale you with gratitude, but well, we here at the gratitude-a-thon were too busy finishing a project and packing. And we apologize profusely. We are not at all grateful for our behavior.

BUT, we promise to be back just as soon as we recover from our jet lag. Back, back, back. We hope you all had the most wonderful, and importantly, abundant, as in a total stuff-yourself-silly kind of Thanksgiving. But also, we hope that you counted all the ways in which you’re grateful for all the little and big stuff in your life, for all the honest and truly important abundance you have if you just look.

gratitude-a-thon day 283: the lights

First of all gratitude to good internet service, what I’m dealing with right now is not, and it makes me realize how fortunate I am at home, where internet service is abundant and ready to go the minute I wake up.

But when it comes to Christmas lights, Barcelona-ites have it going on in the biggest way possible. And I am all about the lights, so I am living the dream.

IMG_0260 IMG_0245 IMG_0285 IMG_0265 IMG_0283 IMG_0233 IMG_0232 IMG_0243 IMG_0284This isn’t even all of them! What a festive thing–to have lights on all the major streets and even on the side streets. Jake says he doesn’t know when they went up, but that they just came on two days before we arrived. I’m going to pretend they’re for us!

In other news, we are eating tapas, and staying up late, appreciating how walkable this city is and seeing lots of great stuff. We also met Jake’s fabulous family, who will cook for us tonight and take us to Tibidabo. Today we hit the PIcasso museum. Tomorrow, thanksgiving, we’re going to Gaudi’s masterpiece, Sagrada Familia and eating an American turkey dinner at the Meridien. I wanted to go Spanish, but the fam won’t hear of it. We’ll miss our usual Thanksgiving with Chris, Lou, Greg, Gabe & Paul, but hoping to have some skype stuffing with them. Adios.

gratitude-a-thon day 282: Park Guel

Ok, let’s talk Gaudi’s Park Guel. Think Dr. Seuss as an architect. Seriously, I have been somewhat obsessed with going to this park for like the past year, and yesterday I checked that box. What a freaking thrill! So many times a place or event you’re looking forward to seeing or experiencing doesn’t really equal your expectations, but guess what? Not the case here. I LOVED IT!

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Look at this. LOOK AT THIS.

First you climb like a lot of stairs (I did all stairs, no escalators, because I figured I could count it as a workout this way, since I am already ON A DIET OF HAM) and then you get your first glimpse of the park and it’s finest peaks.

You buy some tickets, and, it’s just a Gaudi-fest. It would be amazing to walk through this park without anybody else there, but you know, we’re dealing in the real world, here. So what you have is a like bajillion people all doing the same thing you’re doing–recording the moment in one of the multiple ways you can take pictures, or recordings. We were as guilty as the next guy, but it would have been heaven to just be able to see everything without the flashes and poses, Canons, Nikons, Iphones, Ipads, Samsungs,Sony’s–you get the pictures –no pun intended.

But aside from that, I was crazy impressed with Gaudi’s sense of fun and artisinal talent. The beautifully constructed mosaics are colorful and so abundant that you forget each one is really its own piece of art.

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Just look at the mosaic work. 

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This goes around the whole beautiful “park” area. It would have been nice for some flowers to be planted in this large expanse, but I’m not complaining.

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These guys were all Spanish tunes, but then they busted out Volare and I got a good laugh.

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The stone work was crazy.

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Another gorgeous mosaic.

We spent the next three hours just walking around, which was sheer bliss. I realized I was just smiling (consistently, without a break). The weather was sunny, but chilly and we just basked in one great view after another. We were even serenaded by a street performing duo that sang some lively spanish tunes, plus Volare! There’s nothing like just spending time with your family, or anyone for that matter, without the impending doom of a schedule. It’s so relaxing to just walk around and have nothing more important on your “to do” list than finding the best view.

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This is us in front o the famous salamander. What I really love is the woman above Jake’s head.

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Part gingerbread house, part Dr. Seuss, part mushroom trip, maybe.

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Look to the left. There was a whole section that was like  drip sand castle architecture!

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IMG_0087 Couldn’t get enough of these two buildings.

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a view of the city.

We had some fantastic tapas last night, including osso bucco and a shot of something that was heavenly. I’m loving this city. And there’s much more Gaudi to see. I can’t wait to read more about the uber talented Gaudi when I get home.

gratitude-a-thon day 281: barcelona!

The flight was long. And the amount of space I had for my feet was as big as your computer (unless you have, like, the first computer ever made that filled a room). But we finally landed in Barcelona and Jake surprised us by meeting us at the airport (he’d said he’d meet us at the hotel). I screamed, sort of loudly.  And the embarrassing Lansbury’s hit Barcelona.

Exhausted, but also running on the adrenaline of seeing my kid for the first time in three months, we got to our hotel, which is great place and right off La Rambla, which I would translate into “Big Street of Shopping and Stuff,” and changed into warmer clothes to go see FC Barcelona play soccer.

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Unbelievable assortment of fresh foods. This is my kind of place. I can’t wait to go back.

On the way, we hit La Boqueria for a quick look and our first, but I’m sure not our last, taste of Barcelona’s famous ham. Delish. And off to the metro, which is almost exactly like the T. A crowd of 70,000 watched the most excellent soccer I’ve ever seen. 4-zip, we win. And how about this–they don’t sell alcohol at the games–completely straight fans! Just a bunch of people high on their team. Pretty cool.

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In the stands.

 Home to sleep. Like a rock. Up for dinner at 10, but not feeling well, I let the fam enjoy their first spanish meal, and I sleep more. I’m never good in a jet lag situation. I am so grateful to be here. Jake seems so much more adult than when he left. Day 1, Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

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Just unbelievable soccer. Barcelona vs. Grenada.

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And Barcelona scores (again)!

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Miss Soccer in all her glory.

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Al & Jake after the win.

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Ally & Peter outside the stadium.

gratitutde-a-thon day 281: small bites friday

 

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(NOTE: A bunch of you have said you’re having trouble with links and I apologize for that a billion times over. It’s so frustrating. So, today I made sure they all linked and put in the web address where they did not.)

In less than 24 hours I will see my boy, not to mention Barcelona (and I’m not talking about the restaurant, Luciana!)

Those Westboro Baptist Church people are the worst. THE WORST. But their neighbors are pretty damn cool.

Scandal is a really good show. They don’t drag things out, only delivering a bang up show at finale time, they give it to you every week. Plus, Olivia has the best coats.

Wow times ten billion. Just one of these photos (http://www.boredpanda.com/must-see-powerful-photos/) would have knocked me out, but 30 nearly did me in.

It’s been 50 years since President Kennedy was shot.(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/us/in-kennedys-death-a-turning-point-for-a-nation-already-torn.html?_r=0)bored  I was four. I was grocery shopping with my mom and the check-out woman told us and my mom started to cry right there in the store.

You’re kidding me. This dude (http://www.viralnova.com/tree-trunk-carving/) does not have A.D.D.

Love this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Xe15-Ayf4) anyway, but listen to the a capella version. Kind of awesome, right?

Man, I love Judi Dench (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/22/dame-judi-dench-on-playing-the-inspiring-philomena.html). Can’t wait to see her new movie, Philomena.

I knew Kate McKinnon was the real deal (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/21/kate-mckinnon-is-the-future-of-saturday-night-live.html) the minute she debuted. She is uber talented. There’s hope for Saturday Night Live (am I the only one still watching?)

Ok, love these girls and their style (http://seniorplanet.org/dont-dress-your-age-six-inspiring-women-say-no-to-drab/). I’m with them.

gratitude-a-thon day 279: bioluminescent kayak tour

 

UnknownWe went to Puerto Rico a few winter’s ago, and much to my total surprise, I sort of loved it. It has a lot of natural beauty to offer with its rain forest, and the weather was great. One of the highlights, other than the very short flight, and room smack on the ocean, was seeing the bioluminescent lagoon. At night, in kayaks you row yourself down a long, dark waterway and wind up in a sort of large-ish body of water, where you move your paddle around and a sea of stars appears. It’s total magic. I loved it. Anyway, I just read this article that the bioluminescence seems to be on vacation and nobody knows why. I am grateful I saw it when I did and I’m hoping it makes a speedy recovery.

sadgrad-a-tude-a-thon day 279: colleen

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Close to the start, a long, long time ago.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you meet someone who rocks your world, changes its course and makes it different in a better way. And if you’re really lucky, knowing them gives you better abs, too.

I got this kind of lucky eight years ago during one more stop on the long bus ride that is having a bad back. I met Colleen Quinn (go to her website, it’s cool and you can train with her in all sorts of different ways), a super smart, witty and warm personal trainer, with a physical therapy background. I was skeptical of her being able to do much with me and my long standing back problems, but she came recommended by another back sufferer friend, and so I thought, why not.

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Lucy Vincent with the fam.

It’s impossible to believe eight years has passed since I began working out with Colleen, but there it is. Eight years. My daughter was just eight, barely old enough to walk to school alone. Jake was in 6th grade, and on the brink of adolescence. I didn’t even have a dog. I could still dye my hair every six weeks back then. And my sister Joni still lived here. My strength was non-existent. I power walked as exercise and dealt with back pain episodes every year or two that would force me once again into physical therapy and Advil abuse. Enter Colleen and her studio Eutopia. Little by little, as Colleen got to know my body, she was able to get me to lift weights, twist (something I feared doing for like 20 years), do yoga. At some point, I think I even won a contest for being able to hold the longest plank.

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We share a mutual love for the Vineyard.

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Vineyard fishing charter. I can still smell this moment!

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Surprise, family birthday party for the 40th and we’re invited!

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We saw PInk last March, she inspired us to add gymnastics to our sessions (not really, but sort of).

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We literally hid underneath our beach chairs, as a thunder storm hit Crane’s. But this was the aftermath.

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Pot stickers, Audobon. You’re gonna miss these, Col.

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Jake graduates, Colleen’s there.

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Sydney, my niece.

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Last night at Barcelona. A little goodbye dinner, where I couldn’t say goodbye.

But Colleen didn’t just give me core strength, she gave me core confidence in my faulty spine. And as an added bonus, she became my friend. Together, in her studio, we’ve solved most of life’s larger issues, with spiritual plans and jokes. We’ve basked in the sun on the Vineyard and lived to tell the story of a lightning storm at Crane’s. We’ve eaten pot stickers, and toasted our birthdays. We’ve texted through The Voice, and admitted most of our darkest, saddest secrets to one another. And we’ve laughed. At nearly everything there is to laugh at, funny or not. Because we both know that’s the real key to getting through this here world. We have a mutual admiration society for dogs, ours in particular. And a love for good music (Steve Forbert, anyone? Not that either of us can sing). She has helped Jake through knee surgeries, Ally through a soccer season, and Peter through the damaging effects of his arthritis. She’s stayed in my house and taken care of my dog. She’s one part friend, one part sister.

And on Wednesday she leaves for California, to start a new adventure, to enjoy warmer weather, and all that coast has to offer. I can’t say goodbye because I just don’t have the muscle. But I can say thank you. And I can say, I will never ever forget you. And I can say how grateful I was to be in your presence for so long. Yeah, I got lucky eight years ago. Sometimes that happens. Drink water, breathe and laugh, Colleen. Remember the Lansbury’s love you, and we’re all always just a phone call away.

gratitude-a-thon day 278: christie’s youthful secret

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Even at 59, I’d still trade my face for hers.

When I was young and Jewish and Italian (as opposed to old and Jewish and Italian), and looked like a cross between Cher and Barbara Streisand, I just wanted to look like Christie Brinkley. She has that kind of face that makes you think the sun just came out from behind a cloud. Ohhhhh, that perfect upturned nose, those twinkly blue eyes (I have always been obsessed with blue eyes), that thick blonde hair, a smile made of a million Mr.-Clean-white teeth. Forget her impossibly perfect athletic and beautiful body, I just wanted her face. I couldn’t have looked less like her, unless I was a guy.

She’s still looking ridiculously good at 59. Yeah, I’m sure she’s had as much work done as New Orleans after Katrina, but still, it’s good work. She doesn’t look freaky, she just looks great. Anyway, she just came out with a line of wigs and clip on hair pieces that she says she wears to make her look younger. The only way clip-on hair could make me look younger is if wore it to cover my face.

Anyway, you go Christie. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. You still make me want to look like you, even now.