Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Back tracking to 2 weeks ago: After 10 years of applying for full time faculty positions around the country I was finally invited to interview with a state university in South Dakota. The CAA conference is this week in Washington DC and that is where I am headed tomorrow to meet the hiring committee....

Or not.

Fast forward to this morning at 10am.  I received an email telling me there is now a 4.05% budget cut at the state level due to falling oil revenues so as a result there is now a hiring freeze on. No job. No interview.


I've decided to go anyway. There is a career center at the conference that I need to go to and beg for any little morsel of any kind of job anyplace in the world.

I've decided. God hates me.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Since it's getting onto Christmas I figured it was time to start crafting. And since my family and I don't celebrate the holiday like normal people (I hate normal...it's too boring) and refuse to fall into the money pit that Christmas leaves you in, we buy dollar store gifts and/or make handmade junk...just for the laughs. Every year one of us takes the prize for the most silly gift and I pride myself in saying that I have won it many times over. For instance, one year I made my nephew a crazy chicken hat so you can see how silly things can get around here on the 25th of December. Here are a few of the items I have put together for my mom, brother, and nephew this year. As you can see, we have a thing for chickens, zombies and Superman.
Christmas 2008

"Puffie" Magnets

Super Lamb

Super Peep

Zombie Magnets

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Latest and Greatest....

I love technology! I have discovered that I have the capability of merging my blogs into one big diary...voila! I have done so and now for those of you who didn't know me prior to the Peace Corps, can now access my life before I lived in Ukraine. In fact, right before I moved there I went on a mad excursion to Romania where I spent some (not so quality) time in the hospital and did some mini-installations...including one inside of Dracula's castle! These stories are from the 2010 archives (October and November).

ON Another note, I am busy getting ready for my upcoming show at the airport here in Warwick. The RI State Council on the Arts sent out a call for proposals and I figured what the heck? I simply sent them the link to my website and they liked my work and so invited me to show from January to April. They make it really easy. I once won a large grant from RISCA. All I did was send them 10 images of my work...next thing you know they tell me I won $1000!  It was pretty great, I can tell you. I have decided to show the tea work.
I'm still working on 2 of the pieces however and need to drink tea like mad in order to accumulate enough materials to get them finished. One of the pieces, entitled "Teatime with Manette" is looking pretty awesome and luckily my friend Manette is drinking tea like mad as well! Here it is.
It's Unfinished Here


Here is the other piece I am working on. The working title is "Plenty".


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Homeward Bound

I made the decision a few weeks ago that I was leaving Burrel. I wasn't sure where I was going or when, I just knew that I was. I met with the country director and my manager yesterday in Tirana and they informed me that I was not going to be able to move to a new site. That left me with the only alternative, which was to resign. This was by no means an easy decision. I love the Peace Corps and had a vague idea that I would spend the rest of my life serving as a volunteer around the world. I always imagined that anyone unable to fulfill the mission of the Peace Corps must feel pretty bad. As a second-time-around volunteer I can tell you it is agonizing.

I do know that staying here and not giving 100% of myself would be wrong. Peace Corps is not about going to a job and coming home at the end of the day tired and unfulfilled. It is so much more than that and I would be cheating the people in Burrel and the American tax payers if I could not serve in the capacity I had pledged to serve.

I don't know what I am going to do when I get home, but I know this is the best thing I can do now. I also know for certain that life is just too short to be unhappy.

See you all soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Reason to Stay

Okay good people I’ve returned to Burrel in not-so-great spirits. Reason?  Bored silly. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am NEVER bored. I can always find something to keep me occupied. But boredom is not really the issue here…it is my reasons for being bored in the first place. I am totally uninterested in anything here. Burrel is sucking the life out of me folks. Flat-lined me dead. Seriously.
At this point in my service I am questioning my reason for even being here…seriously looking for that one reason to stay.
Okay. Let’s talk it out here. This town is like Novomoskovsk. When I served in PC in Ukraine I loved my service…wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything. But I was finished there. Done. I did lots of projects and met lots of lovely people…some of whom I am still in touch with…but I had finished. Or so I thought. I came to Burrel and it mirrors what I left behind.  I feel as though I served 2 years in Ukraine, went home for long holiday, and now I am back.
Ugh.  I was looking for a new experience. There is nothing new here…nothing. The people and culture are similar, the town is the same albeit smaller, and I am living in the same exact type of situation…in a Soviet bloc-style apartment house with 4 perfectly aligned buildings facing each other onto a shared yard. Screaming kids 24-7, noisy neighbors, cheap goods and sadly, lots of stray animals.
Worse still: 2 hours to the nearest hub, not being able to shop in peace and relatively anonymity, no train system to speak of and a lunatic landlady who thinks because my language skills are not good then I must be stupid.
It’s no secret to the folks I am serving with that I am unhappy with where I was placed. All of the folks in my service sector were told we would be placed in big cities. I was thrilled! There’s lots of great art things happening here. I would be able to seek out and explore new art and artists from a new culture!  Well. No. Everyone EXCEPT ME was sent to a big city.
I talked to one of the BIG guys in the front office about changing sites. He told me the policy is that no way they change people's sites here in Albania. I told him who did he think he was talking to? Of course, we are both RPCV’s (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers). I appealed to him from that standpoint and he agreed to take it into consideration. For the sake of my sanity, I do hope he was serious.
Anyway…I don’t want this PC experience to turn into a “job”. God forbid I go to work, come home, and that’s it. I can do that anywhere. And as for leaving my site…I may turn into one of those people who are never home. I will be leaving here every weekend looking for someplace to crash. Any volunteer, any place…every damn weekend. And I HATE traveling! (I’m okay once I arrive but it’s the getting there that is the worst).
Now, on the home front. What exactly would I do if I did go home? Probably the same thing I was doing before…looking for a job and TRUST ME no one is looking to hire somebody staring at her 57th birthday in a little over a month.
There is only one thing I am positive of now, and that is if I do go home, it will be not be because the ‘powers that be’ decide I need to stay here in Burrel but because I couldn’t find that one thing to keep me here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Back to Thanë

Yesterday I traveled back to Thanё to begin phase 3 of pre-service training. It was nice to be able to leave Burrel for the first time since I landed in the north. Barb and I left town at 8am and rode the bus for two hours into Tirana without incident. We weren't quite sure where we were headed but equipped with our trusty map and a bit of luggage we headed off with just a little bit of trepidation.
Getting off the bus we headed to a café for a cold drink then asked the waiter about getting a bus to the center because Barb]had an appointment. Just outside on the street we caught the right bus and got off at the right stop. Amazing for a couple of old gals with no clue as to where we were headed! We found the place, Barb did her thing, and then afterwards walked towards the Peace Corps office and on the way found a wonderful restaurant that served American fare! A taste of home is just what the doctor ordered and it was delicious! When eating “American” fare abroad you usually get anything but. However, this time is was spot-on. The gal that owns the place lived in Pennsylvania for over 16 years and knew how to make a burger and I must say it was great!
Afterwards we met up with a few of our PC colleagues for the next bus ride into Elbason…the city where our group trained. A short 45 minute AIR-CONDITIONED ride later (you read that right folks, air-conditioned) and we landed in the city and found our way to the beer joint where PCV’s like to hang out. I ran into a bunch of group 18’ers and there we talked about out new sites and jobs. It was pretty great to see everyone.
At about 4:30 I bid everyone goodbye and made my way to the next bus to get into the village where my host family lives. Thanё is about the size of a football field so I needed to pay attention to where I was going or else I’d blow right through it without a backward glance. I got to the house about 5pm amid a flurry of hugs and kisses and it felt great to be back for a visit. I wasn't really wanting to upset my life by packing up and moving back to the family at this point but at that moment I was really glad. I think a trip away from my site was just what I needed and I’m truly grateful. This family treats me like family and I am really lucky to have been placed here.

So, it’s onward to Phase 3 on Monday and where ever life takes me after that.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Memorization and Pasteurization (This and That)

I haven't been writing much and in my defense I have to say it's because there is really nothing to write about. Burrel gets smaller by the minute and I can't wait until the travel ban is lifted. Travel ban you ask? Yes. Peace Corps around the world insists on keeping all the PCV's in their host sites for the first 3 months. I have to say I am counting the days now. In the meantime, it's just a lot of quiet revelry on my part. Schools are closed and my job is on hold until September so I fill my days as best as I can.
 I have a language tutor 3 times a week but I am also studying and memorizing daily on my own. (Sure wish my brain was younger). Today I prepped and fried some eggplants for Eggplant Parmesan which I'll bake in the morning when the weather is cooler. I also decided to start buying fresh milk in the marketplace. Yup, that's straight from the cow, folks. It's delicious! I boiled that batch up and sampled the cream on top and oh is it a treat!
Yo, gimmee some skin...
I try not to leave the house without my camera because you just never know what will pop up.
One day this week I was walking down the street and just happened to notice an alleyway that intrigued me. Don't know why but here it is...