Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shoot!!! Emily Vogel, you had better just write me another note with your email address on it!!!!

For those not in on the 411, amazing Emily was one of my students eons ago in Mesquite Nevada.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Yes, yes, it has been eons since I last blogged. An amazing amount of things have happened since my last remark. Not least of which is moving back to the States. However, looking into your past is for old folks so I am gonna plunge on ahead and tell you about how my day went.
I am a fine arts teacher at Lakewood High School next to Arlington. I grew up just south of it....and never knew it existed. Its that small. The high school itself has about 890 students and I teach the intro to art classes. I only teach 60% of the time so I also pick up extra hours subbing around the school when the sub cancels or none can be found. So today I walk into school and the secretary comes at me in a panic. She says, "Grazzie Girl, I need you to cover the health class. Its on male sex anatomy and no, you arent allowed to draw any pictures." They really shouldnt allow me such liberties in the first place. Last time I subbed for that class, I covered the suicide lesson. I think they do it on purpose.
The class wasnt nearly as painful, or as fun, as I had hoped but I got through it. I then subbed again later in the day but there was no lesson plan. So what does Ms. G do in a situation like this? You guessed it, I taught them Mormon drinking games. Oh the high jinx!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Its official.....I'm an idiot

A friend came to me and asked me to prepare a cake for her husband's birthday. I said sure, though I am far from experienced with baking cakes, and said that I only needed the supplies. She brought me oil, water, six eggs, and two boxes of cake mix. She also brought me two deep round cake pans 8 inches in diameter. I began making the cake and budgeted just enough time to make it, bake it, let it cool and frost it. I finish mixing (by hand, mind you) the entire two boxes of cake mix and then poured the batter into the two cake pans. I figured I was on my way to yet another brilliant masterpiece.

Now, those of you experienced in such matters know that a cake mix makes two pans. Two cake mixes would make four. What happens when you put four pans of cake into two? An explosion!!! No, seriously. It took about twenty minutes for me to notice the smell. I run to the oven and sure enough, I have a boiling mess covering the bottom of the oven. As any good cook does, I panicked. I grabbed tin foil and covered the bottom to catch anything more falling out. But judging the amount that poured out, I figured it had done all the damage it was going to do. I hoped that it might only take the non-burning part (the stuff remaining in the pan) ten more minutes to cook and unwisely shut the oven to let it continue. I quickly found out two things: my flat does not have a smoke detector and I am truly grateful for this fact.
After five minutes smoke began billowing out of the kitchen and my flat was quickly filled to the point where I had a hard time breathing and seeing.

I ran into the kitchen, pulled open the oven (which was spewing smoke out of every crack) and promptly gagged. The cakes were not fact, they had poured even more of themselves onto the bottom of the oven. I am not sure why they hated me so much.

I pulled the two pans out and poured a good half cup of batter out. I also scraped off the baked part on top. I ran to the next door neighbor and asked for his oven. My plan, though created through desperation, was to try and complete the baking of the remaining batter. Half of the pan was already cooked through and the rest was a goopy watery mess. But I had to try. I then went back to the kitchen to try every method I knew to disperse the smoke.

While I am opening windows, turning up AC units and creating ventilation....the friend comes walking in. Her comment? "I could smell the smoke all the way downstairs." Why is this a big deal? Cause I am on the 5th floor. I had to show her the damage and try to explain that maybe there was still a chance things could work out ok? Unfortunately, because of my perfectly budgeted time, I didnt have enough time to make a new cake....nor the supplies or oven.

I cleaned up all that I could from the tin foil and put it in the trash, I then moved to try and clean counters, floor and materials from both the goopy mess and the smoke. I eventually gave up and trusted that my poor steward, who came the next day, would be able to handle it.

For the next forty minutes I was OCD about checking the cakes to see if they were done. The original instructions say to bake for 35 minutes. They had been in the oven for a total of two hours by the time I could pull a toothpick back out clean. I had no idea how they would taste but I had to try.

I pulled them out of the oven, took them back to my smoke infested kitchen and flipped them out to let them cool. One completely fell apart. I am talking serious nervous breakdown. But as I tested parts that fell off, they tasted marvelous. I waited for them to cool, placed them on a plate and covered them with frosting.

The end result, if I may, was spectacular. I, while a total idiot, am brilliant in my incompetence.

Here is the tin foil overwhelming the garbage can. It had weight too because it contained an entire cake worth of batter in it.

This is the after picture of the dishes. I say after cause I had already cleaned about half of them.

This disaster is my oven bottom AFTER I had cleaned some and AFTER I had already pulled out the covered tin foil. This poor oven may not be able to recover. But that crusted on cake looks mighty good. Gives new definition to 'caked on.'

But here it is! The finished product. I rock. I even did the words using a ziplock bag, and some self-colored frosting.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Advanced Student Art Gallery

Last night was the second and final Advanced Art Gallery Show for the year!! I am so proud of my kids and we had a wonderful representation of students, high school teachers and parents. The show had a total of 21 participating students, some of which I have included here. I have to give a huge thanks to Shelly (not pictured here) who took all the pictures for me.

The concept of the show was to give each student a gallery space for them to create an environment. It normally had a theme and had to include all of the artworks completed in this last term. As many of you know, the last term was also the independent study or clay projects. So for the past five days my students have been scrambling to construct, create, design and set up a gallery show worth half of their grade. It finally all came together for an hour opening with all of their parents in attendance.

This is Arshiya. She is one of my Indians and is hysterical when you get her talking. She is also the one who also has me convinced that an arranged marriage is the way to go. Seems much easier and healthier than a love match. Her basic concept was a light, natural idea based on pastel colors, rose petals and candles. I think its especially nice with the painting she had done of her mother in the center.

Or is an ELL student who often switches between Hebrew and English too fast for me to comprehend. Luckily I have never had an Israeli in class by themselves and so can always get an impromptu translation. Sometimes, I wish I hadnt.
Or is a fantastic painter and chose to do independent studies instead of clay. The results were interesting and ended up having a lot to do with...herself....and clothes. These trends continue in other aspects of her life as well.

Now Rich (a Texan) is not known for his ability in art. But what he lacks in skill he more than makes up with in sarcasm. He isnt the first student to tell me that I should rule the world as an evil dictator....but he is the one who means it as a compliment.
His show was placed into two 'art boxes' and had a general discombobulated feel. This technique is actually hard to do in order to make the gallery work, instead of just looking scrapped together. I think he did fairly well.

Allyn is quite possibly one of the most hyper and flaky students I have ever had. I used to think there was just something she ate in the morning that affected her poorly. Then I got her younger brother in another class. Apparently its a family trait. Allyn felt awful insecure about her art show so I offered to jump in the picture with her to make her feel less like a goober. Nothing like comparing yourself to your dorky teacher to make you feel better.

Sapir would shoot me if she knew I had this picture. She flatly refused (and with harsh sounding Hebrew words) to pose for a picture until I physically turned her to the camera. She then gave the biggest smile I have ever seen on her pessimistic little face. She is a great artist but never gives a nice word to anything....ever. Having said that, she is really fun and easy to mess with. Behind her is her prize ceramic dragon "Rockie." She still doesnt understand why I whisper, "and Bullwinkle" every time she mentions his name. I feel old.

Now you wouldnt know it, but Mubarak doesnt truly hate his life. Not really. He is oober quiet in class, especially for a Nigerian, but has a wicked sense of humor when he does speak up. He is the one who confessed to marrying a goat. I never laughed so hard in my life. I will be sure to tell the details of that story when I get home but suffice it to say that their relationship is all the stronger for their differences.

Annie in the middle, is a great student. She is freakishly tall and thin, a fact which comes in handy for reaching tall, awkward spaces and has a pretty laid back sense of humor. I crammed myself into one side and Motune took up the other. She doenst seem as tall in the photo due to the fact that she is slouching and the girl taking the picture is short. We arent sure why, Motune is there (since she isnt in art) other than she is a hoot and a half and wanted to be in the picture.

Kenny is obnoxious, to begin with. He is also one of most talented graphic artists I have seen his age. He does beautiful designs and has created his own symbol language. This picture was orchestrated when I made fun of Kenny for having a huge empty space in his gallery. He called it his 'artist' space and said he would sit in this position for the entire show. I only made him do it for ten minutes. But seriously? He didnt move a muscle. Pretty impressive control.

Finally, when it was all done, I posed for a quick picture. These hooligans all jumped in and it became a late night photo op with Ms G.

Carolina, Arshiya, Sapir, Me, Naomi and Josh. Shane and Rich in the back.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What is Lagos like?

So Mom always asks me to document how my life in Lagos really is. Well, tonight was a perfect opportunity. While this may not be specific to Lagos, it is definitely among my most hectic and awful moments. Africa is also one of the only places I have ever dealt with todays topic: Cockroaches. Yes, I was just confronted with a giant mutant cockroach with an attitude problem. No, no, I dont exaggerate. This thing was at least four inches long, had overactive feelers and stuck to any surface. But I am getting ahead of myself. To better magnify the story, I will now use third person narrative.

This evening, around 10:30pm, our unsuspecting and beautiful heroine walked innocently into her very own kitchen for some water. She flips on the lights and waits for the fluorescent bulbs to fully turn on before she enters the room. Why does she do this?, one might ask. The answer is simple. She waits for the light to turn on so that any cockroaches foolish enough to inhabit her kitchen can flee before she unwittingly steps on them. Yes, our young dashing Julia is afraid to step on a cockroach in her delicately arched sock-covered feet. So she waits for full light to flush out any obstacles she may encounter BEFORE she enters the room.
So on this fateful Saturday night, she sees that the floor is clear and walks into the room. From the corner of her eye she sees a movement. But surely she must be mistaken. Something that big moving must be a lizard or rat. She turns her head to see a four inch cockroach with GIANT feelers loitering on the counter next to the microwave. How can she see it so clearly? Because the light under the cupboard is literally shining a spotlight on it.
Now this confused our incredible heroine. She had always been told that cockroaches were afraid of humans and hid from the light. But then she remembered what Jeff had told her. "Cockroaches out in the open are near death." Otherwise they avoid humans. Since Jeff always made our heroine deal with the bugs on her own, she had trusted that he would not lie to her about the issue. So being the intelligent and ever-prepared YSA that she is, Julia grabbed an empty coolwhip container and got ready to gently place it over the 'dying' cockroach. As she got a few feet away, the cockroach turns to her and steps a few inches closer. It then swirls its massive feelers as if trying to communicate its displeasure at being interrupted. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this cockroach was giving attitude. Therefore, because of its apparent personality and evil nature, we will henceforth call this cockroach Ted.
She decided to move forward and try to trap Ted under the plastic can, now aggravated by his aggressive manner AND confident that his slow motions meant that he was experiencing his imminent death.
Well.....dear audience, the next part of the drama unfolds to both show our brave young heroine for the mastermind (and total girly-girl) that she is. When she went to place the bucket over Ted, he suddenly burst into speed and crammed himself under the microwave. Startled, Julia stood for a moment in absolute beffudlement. She then starts to move the microwave to try to uncover enough of Ted to try and trap him. However, devious Ted continued to scrabble under the microwave as it was moved. Ted looked to be winning the war when suddenly a change in counter level left him outside his hiding hole. Julia swooped in and placed the container on him, effectively immobilizing his attack.
This COULD have been the end of the story but dear readers, it only gets more intense from here. Julia retrieves a magazine for which to help scoop Ted and his bucket up and create a sealed lid...situation....for...Ok. You have all done the bug scoop thing. You know the drill.
Julia used the magazine to scoop the bug up. But what to do next? Should she fling Ted outside...and risk the chance he may return? Does she try to spray him as he flees throughout the flat? Does she flush him down the toilet? As Julia weighed her options, she called a few friends to ask the ever important question: "If you flush a bug down the toilet, can it crawl back up later?" Then of course, the worry is that the bug can climb up the sides of the toilet bowl before the flushing action can carry him down. Julia decides, with the advice of fellow Lagosians, to try the flush method.
Julia walks to the bathroom with one hand on the magazine and the other on the bottom of the plastic container. Ted is trapped between. But as Julia reaches the toilet, the flaw in her plan manifests itself. Now that she had her hands does she get Ted to fall into the toilet? Does she pull apart her cage and shake until Ted falls out? Does she try for a technically advances scoop method with the bending of the magazine?
She finally decides to flip the cage so that magazine is on top and the plastic container can act like a cup for Ted. After a few swift taps on the magazine to make any creature fall into the container, its simply easy to turn the container over into the toilet and let Ted fall out. Julia's brilliant plan would have worked....if Ted hadnt have been a mutant cockroach.
As Julia turns the magazine over, she sees that mutant Ted has managed to cling to the magazine despite the vehement taps to get him to release. Ted then makes an offensive attack on Julia by scrambling as fast as he can towards her. Julia, of course, squeals like a little girl and flings the magazine, the container and Ted into the bathtub. Ted runs like mad around the tub trying to find a way to kill our poor heroine.
Julia steps back and tries to regain her composure, sure in the knowledge that Ted must not be able to climb the sides of the tub fast enough to escape. Silly, silly, naive Julia.
Ted makes a break for it and begins his steady climb up the side of the tub, still trying to attack Julia. Julia grabs the container and like a squirrel on crack, tries to trap Ted again. After a few agonizing moments, she succeeds. In stunned silence, she tries to decide what to do next. It occurs to her that spraying Ted while he is in the false security of the cage, might be most effective. She heads to the kitchen to retrieve the spray.
On the way back, now armed with the ammunition of all bug killers, Julia has an awful thought. A horrifying...sickening thought. What if Ted starts to fly to get away from the spray? Now, dear readers, I know you may have always lived with the secure thought that cockroaches, even non-mutant ones, dont fly. You are, I am afraid, mistaken. Julia paused and considered the possibility of trying to catch Ted as he executed an air assault. But it had to be done.
Julia creaked open the container a few inches and sprayed for all she was worth. Ted began to frantically run around, causing Julia to pause her spraying periodically to ensure no flight was possible outside the container. After a few....gallons of spray, Julia felt confident that Ted had been hit at least once and replaced the trap to wait out the inevitable. That is when the truly disturbing part of the story came into play.
Did you know that cockroaches squeak? Neither did Julia. Ted began to run the diameter of the container in what could be a world record. Over and over and over Ted runs the outside wall of the container letting his massive feelers scoot under the brim as he squeaks his displeasure. This was so disturbing to Julia that she grabbed her camera and video-recorded the scene and the noise. (filming will not be included here due to its graphic nature) It was during filming that Julia realized Ted might need more spray because of his mutant resistance. She sprayed a huge puddle on the tub floor and scooted the container over it, then placed a shampoo bottle on top of that to secure that mutant Ted would not move the container in his desperation. After a minute or so, the squeaking stopped. When last Julia looked, Ted was on his back with his legs slowly moving to signal defeat. Julia, was not so forgiving, however and waited until morning to insure his death was complete.
Then she flushed him.

THIS, Mom, is what a day in Lagos is like.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Do you know what is being taught in the US?

The resident history teacher, Mr Reese, asked me to speak about the Mormon religion in his class as part of the early pilgrimage section of his curriculum. I was eager to agree and have been looking forward to this for some weeks. Today, however, was the first time I got to look at the text book that the students have based all knowledge of Mormons off of. I was FURIOUS!!!! I have included the text, in its entirety, which ALL US kids in grades 8 and 10 are learning.

"One group that migrated westward along the Oregon Trail consisted of the Mormons, a religious community that would play a major role in the settling of the West. Mormon history began in western New York in 1827 when Joseph Smith and five associates established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York, in 1830.
Smith and a growing band of followers decided to move west. They settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839. Within five years, the community numbered 20,000. When Smith's angry neighbors printed protests against polygamy, the Mormons' practice of having more than one wife, Smith destroyed their printing press. As a result, in 1844 he was jailed for treason. An anti-Mormon mob broke into the jail and murdered Smith and his brother.
smith's successor, Brigham Young, decided to move his followers beyond the boundaries of the United States. Thousands of Mormons traveled by wagon north to Nebraska, across Wyoming to the Rockies, and then southwest. In 1847, the Mormons stopped at the edge of the lonely desert near the Great Salt Lake.
The Mormons awarded plots of land to each family according to its size but held common ownership of two critical resources--water and timberland. Soon they had coaxed settlements and farms from the bleak landscape by irrigating their fields. Salt Lake City blossomed out of the land the Mormons called Deseret."

This was the entirety of the information given about the LDS migration, Faith and People. I obviously dont need to detail what is wrong with this section...there is barely anything true. Its even written poorly, neither defining what impact the LDS members had, nor the historical impact that we had on political and social aspects of the US.

If any of you have any ideas of how to combat this, please let me know. It is going to take a bit of time for me to calm down after this one.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ten days....ten ports.....

Wow! What an amazing and beautiful vacation! I loved it and feel incredibly blessed to have been able to see so much in such a tight little package. Honestly, though....I probably would have gotten bored if I had gone any slower.

I have included a ton of pictures of most of each of the places I went to. No worries, this is about 1/1000 of how many pictures we actually took but it is a little slice of each port and the type of atmosphere we were in.

We left early, to begin with. Yes, a potentially fatal decision on our part, which created no end of torment, mocking and reprimands. The situation is complicated, however. At first, Yvonne (the resident math teacher) and I wanted to go to a safari and relaxing vacation in South Africa. However, upon discovering that three airport transfers, security clearances and $1700 would only just get us to South Africa....we cheap teachers decided to look elsewhere. I suggested a cruise through Italy and Yvonne began the great Internet search. We were tipped off to a website called and gleefully researched all the cruises available. Who knew that March was eerily short on cruises? For those of us who don’t know...Mediterranean cruises start in the end of April. Out of the 5 or 6 cruises, we picked one that seems interesting. The only problem was that it was a 10-day cruise. It starts on March 19 and ended on March 29. Our spring break started with a half day on March 20 and ended March 30. We had been informed that the Wednesday and/or Thursday were marked as a potential holiday, but were not going to be notified if it were an actual day off until two days beforehand. Yvonne and I weighed our options, discussed with administrations and then said, "Screw it all, we're going!"

We flew out of Lagos on Tuesday night, a full two days before we were supposed to. We did luck out with getting Wednesday as a holiday but still had to suffer a substitute for a half-day on Thursday. Anyway, our flight took us to Paris where we ran to our connection to Venice. Upon arriving in Venice I was really excited to get my passport stamp, our luggage on our boat and to wander the city for the 6 hours we had before boarding. I grabbed my luggage, walked out the door and.....yeah. No passport checks in Venice. Venice loves everyone and will let anybody in. We managed to get bus passes, directions and even a general idea of what the crap we were doing before we jumped on a bus to the cruise ship to drop off our luggage. After speaking broken Italian, Portuguese and a bit of Spanish (no one speaks English), I managed to get directions to the port and our luggage was safely stored. Then, it was off to the Grand Canal where I spent the most glorious couple of hours traipsing up and down that beautiful city.

This, dear (and I am assuming bored) readers, is just past the Rialto Bridge and in front of the most glorious gelato store in the history of ice cream. I saw these gondolas gently rocking back and forth to the unique tide of the canal and was caught again by the beauty of the moment. The day was a perfect mid 60's weather and bright blue skies. There was no breeze, which made the sunshine warm and crisp without being cold on the water.

While munching on my chocolate ice cream, I wandered down the narrow market streets around the area. There were tons of masks, blown glass and cheesy tourista things. I finally ran into this little stand where hats and scarves were being sold at a very decent price. While this particular hat was not purchased, I did buy a beautiful green scarf.

Now these are some random canal shots of various gondolas and the silly touristas in them. Do not mistake this point I was also taking pictures like mad and slobbering all over my ice cream, but at least I wasn’t spending 160 Euros to ride in the gondolas by myself.

This first one is of a back shot of the Rialto Bridge.

I swear this driver was going to tip right over. I took this shot with the hope that he would and I would have it on camera. No such luck.

The other visual masterpiece that I became fixated on was the canal doors. These doors were beautiful and ancient and they led directly to the water. Moss covered stairs lead up to splintered wooden doors with slightly mismatched seems. This picture is one of hundreds that I took in the hopes of getting a good-looking door for framing purposes.

After traveling the entire Grand Canal, we came upon San Marco Square. Here there were more vendors with more tourista stuff. Yes, I did succumb and bought two beautiful oil paintings done by this crazy, eccentric Italian man. He mistook me for a German at first and then welcomed me as an Italian. It was a tad bit weird that I had to admit to being an American, but even then he was kind. Especially when I responded that I was from Lucca (genealogically speaking) when he asked where I was 'really' from.

After we boarded the boat, we shipped out to Bari Italy. Now Bari Italy is actually pretty lame, but we had a shore excursion to Matera...which was brilliant. We jumped in the bus and drove for about an hour through the oddly beautiful landscape of Southern Italy. This picture was taken from the bus of said countryside. Lush green grass covered most of the homesteads while every other acre of land was reserved for olive tree crops. If there had been more hills and a tad more wetness, I would have been reminded of New Zealand.

After our bus ride we arrived in Matera. Apparently Matera is centuries old and people were living in it until 1940 when the communist leader heard about the living conditions. Each tiny dwelling had at least 10 people in it, as well as donkeys, dogs and chickens. There was no electricity or plumbing and the houses were all literally 2 feet apart from each other. When the communist leader heard of this, he required new housing be built and all of the inhabitants to move out. Now, the little cliff and cave dwelling city is being reconstructed as a tourist spot. Movies like the Passion of the Christ were filmed there because of its unique structure and rugged terrain. This picture is an upper view of one of the many little walkways down the cliff face.

After Bari and Matera we sailed to the Greek Island of Corfu. Corfu has beautiful beaches and is relatively small and lush with vegetation. I was amazed as I saw my first orange and lemon trees. This island is also covered with Olive trees, which were planted during its inhabitation by the Venetian control. The trees are decades old and are really interesting to see.

This picture is the monastery at Corfu. There were several levels of the monastery and this alleyway is on the lowest level, which was a basement. This particular church had cats everywhere and beautiful flowers and vines.

This picture is of me...obviously annoyed at something and sticking my arm into a cannon. I have no idea why I am doing that, or what exactly Yvonne said to make me make that face....priceless as well with the giant gust of wind that hit at the same moment.

As we traveled into the town of Corfu we were able to go shopping, talk to natives and gain a small taste of the culture. This next picture is of the old fort that looks over the entire island. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to explore this one, but the sight of it on the highest hill was pretty impressive.

This next picture is one of the typical housing alleyways of Corfu.

This beach shot of Corfu doesn’t show the brilliant blue of the water but it does show that we were the ONLY tourists on the island. Definitely not cruise season.

From Corfu we traveled to Athens and were able to see the Parthenon. It was completely under construction and so our view wasn’t all that magnificent. However, it was nice to be there and to see the structure I have studied so much about.

This is Zeus's temple as seen from the Parthenon.

This picture caught my attention. It’s at the base of a lower temple near the Parthenon but I loved the old pots and poppy wild flowers. Yes, I am afraid I had a tendency to go 'art geek' while looking at things like this.

This is a quick shot Yvonne and I took as we were getting bored with the tour guide.

From Athens we ventured to Turkey where we got to travel to Ephesus and some carpet shops. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on two carpets and wandered around the ancient city of Ephesus for a few hours.

This picture is of me utilizing the public toilets in Ephesus. Yes, public toilets. I was continually amazed at the terra cotta pipes that ran through the entire city as a sewage system.

This is a random hallway under the huge open theater. I love this picture cause I got it by sneaking past a "restricted zone" to get it.

And there she is. The face of the city.

From Ephesis we visited our last Greek Isle; Rhodes. It’s a beautiful island with a ton of ancient roads, shops and friendly people. I really liked it. These shots of the castle have a name....I just cant remember it. Give me a break...we saw a lot of freaking ruins! However, at the bottom of this stairway is the place where the famous sculpture "victory (Nike) from Samothrace, c.190BC" originally sat.

This is a shot looking down the stairs.

From Rhodes we had a day at sea traveling to Malta. Unfortunately our one day at sea showed us what seasickness is all about with 18 ft swells and massive rocking motions. Luckily, I was only sick for an hour or so but still confined myself to bed. Before the unfortunate.....illness, I was able to pop up on deck and take a few pictures of the waves. The results on film are way less exciting and so opted to show this beautiful shot of myself instead.

Onto Malta which is a lovely little island with....relatively nothing to do. I got some good shots of me on the beach and some random shots of the tiny roads and houses, but other than that, I will remember Malta for its ice cream, bookstore and amiable people.

This is a shot of me on the beach, and yes...sporting a henna tattoo of a spider. I think I look sassy!

This is a view of the city of Malta and is typical of the huge ancient walls that defended the island from the Turkish invasion.

This is a view from inside the city looking out.

From Malta we sailed to Tunis. Yes Tunis. Top country of Africa. I thought we would see some Arabic connections....maybe see some mosques.....nope. We saw more carpet shops and huge amounts of ghetto. It seems we were stuck in the ghetto no matter where we went the entire cruise. Yes, this is the only shot I am showing of Turkey. It showed and hailed and rained while we were there. Everyone was excited because it was the first rain in over three months. Yeah, lucky I wore my capris and t-shirt this day!

From Tunis we sailed to Naples. We took a nice little jaunt to Pompeii where I wandered aimlessly taking pictures instead of listening to our guide. I swear our guide was a homeless Italian man that the bus picked up somewhere. He smokes like a chimney the whole time and rambled in a huge trench coat.

This is a random shot at a shop along the street of Pompeii.

Here is a nice sideways view (for some reason I cant figure out how to fix that) of an ancient alley way in Pompeii. I have pictures of the ash-covered people, roads with deep chariot ruts and random buildings that are well preserved from the fate of time, but I will save those for people when I come home.

This picture of a lemonade stand in Naples I got completely for Daddy. These lemons were the biggest freaking lemons I have ever seen! It was as freakishly tart as Dad likes it as well. I have never seen lemons this big. I didn’t think it was possible.

There are even more pictures of Genoa and of the ship and everything but I think that this is enough to satisfy even the toughest critic (mom). Suffice it to say that it was a lovely vacation that made me hate old women with no modesty, ill-fitting Speedos and the Paris airport.