Monday, October 27, 2014

So here's the Skinny....

Peace Corps is trying to make the process a lot easier in order to attract more applicants. The last (and highest ever) number of applicants currently reached 17,336 as of October 8th. Why? To make more work for themselves? I mean, really? According to the Peace Corps official website,  the last count showed that there are only about 7200 openings around the globe (as of last September).

I believe that throwing out the latest tasty carrot; "You can choose where you want to serve" is what is driving up the numbers. Huh. Unfortunately, this is not quite true. Take my case. I was given a choice of 3 countries. After carefully weighing in on all three, I chose Indonesia. Where am I going? Albania. Not that I'm complaining. I'm happy to serve where ever I am needed most. And I do love Eastern Europe, so what's my beef?

I guess what the Peace Corps is trying to do is attract a greater number of qualified volunteers but this may end up back firing. When I served in Ukraine there were 500 of us...500!  The largest number of PCV's in any one country at any time. By the time I left, our numbers had dwindled by 200 and they were planning on skimming more off the top. The reason? Budget cuts. Not only did they cut the number of volunteers, they cut our allowance as well.

So, if the government was severely cutting back on services then, then why would they wish to attract more applicants? As far as I can tell the US is still not back on track with our economy. Wouldn't it make more sense to try to get along with the numbers they have rather than adding more volunteers and cutting services?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

News Flash...Life is Calling

I got my official invitation from the Peace Corps yesterday and I find myself returning once again to Eastern Europe!  Next stop, Albania!  I don't know a thing about Albania, but I have a friend from Romania who says it's beautiful. I saw some pictures and it does look rather nice but you never really get a good sense of anyplace until your feet actually touch the ground.

Some of the people I've told have expressed concern for me since I wasn't placed in Indonesia...the country where I was nominated to. I'm not disappointed in the least! In fact, I'm actually very excited to be returning to Eastern Europe...and to a country where they use a Latin alphabet! Huge bonus for me, absolutely. Maybe this time around I'll have a lot less stress about the language. To this day I am still able to think in Russian and use Russian words but it's an enormous relief to not have to try to converse with someone!!

Interesting fact: Albania is about the size of Maryland, yet has only 3 million people! This amazes me as there are almost a million folks here in Rhode Island and you can fit about 10 Rhode Islands into Albania!  More on this country as I learn about it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Since I haven't written in a long time, I wasn't sure what to title this blog. I've sat down to write at least 10 times since I last wrote but nothing was really note worthy so I gave up.  After that last week later, as a matter of fact, I was offered a job with that company I wrote about who interviewed me for 90 minutes and then told me they weren't hiring.I like the work but the job is terrible. The person in charge of the main floor is a control freak and micro-manages everyone...and I mean EVERYONE. No one is immune to her nit-picking. The only reason I put up with it is because it's only temporary. I figured since March is only about 6 months away, I can put up with just about anything. Some day's are tougher than others, however, and it's a wonder none of us storms out in exasperation.

That aside, I heard from the Peace Corps placement office last week. I take this to mean that my letter of invitation is on the way although I may not be going to Indonesia like I thought. The girl in placement asked me if I would be willing to return to Eastern Europe. Of course I said yes...I'll go anywhere they send me now. I got to thinking too...about how much I miss my friends in Romania and Ukraine. It wouldn't be so bad to be closer to them again. I think the Peace Corps really does it's homework as far as placement goes. Knowing I have worked in the Eastern European school system does give me a distinct edge. All the former communist bloc countries have/had similar structures and since I am going to be training teachers, it would make sense to send me back.

Not knowing where I will end up has spiced up my life a bit. Normally surprises are not something I welcome, but this time it feels sorta nice. I am imagining all kinds of places and cultures where I may end up and the excitement just keeps building. I remember the wait for the first invitation with the Peace Corps was filled with anxiety. I was afraid to go to certain countries and the fear of the unknown kept me up on more than one occasion. This time is totally different. I am comfortable with where ever I am sent and with what ever happens. I think that being a seasoned veteran definitely has its advantages.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Unemployment: A Strange and Perilous Road

A few months ago I did a volunteer workshop at a daycare center for folks with Alzheimer's disease and it turned into a great experience for everyone involved. I introduced a simple loom on which they could use to create small rag rugs or whatever they wanted to make with it.  After this experience the director was interested in offering me employment and after thinking about it for a while, I sent in my work credentials hoping to land a job. I have a friend who works here and according to all reports, I had an immediate in. I was, NEEDED, to give the place some fresh ideas and new insight. I even sent away for a BCI (criminal background thingy), knowing they would be requiring one on condition of employment. Why wait? I knew this job was mine for the asking.

Or so I thought.

Keeping a long story short, the director was thrilled that I was considering employment with them so she set up an interview for me last Thursday. I met with her and the administrator for 90 minutes. This was the longest interview I ever had in all my years of employment! (I'm talking 40 years, folks)It was a great interview and at the end I had the impression all parties agreed that it would be beneficial for me to start work immediately. I remember thinking at the time that I could start the following week! There was one problem though- something that blind-sided me so completely I am still shaking my head in wonderment....

They. Weren't. Hiring.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thank you Citra Solv!

Just wanted to give a shout out to the Citra Solv company here in New England for showing some outstanding customer appreciation. When I was refinishing the bathroom floor (see next post) I hadn't mentioned the sticky gooey substance on the hardwoods left over from the linoleum tiles. What a mess! I remembered a cleaning solvent that I had been using for years in my studio for solvent transfers. It's all natural from plant extracts and never tested on animals. For these 2 reasons it is definitely worth a try.  Well, it worked like magic and I highly recommend it.

I sent the company an email telling them how much I loved their product and told them what I did with it and now they are posting it on their website to share with their customers. As a thank you they sent me a huge goody bag filled with their wonderful products and a hand-written note. I am totally blown away and never expected such a windfall! Thank you Citra Solv!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Catching Up

For some reason I need to be in the mood to write anything these days. Usually I can blog about anything...what I'm thinking, what I'm doing....whatever. Today is a good day to write's raining cats and dogs and there isn't any other way I'd rather spend an afternoon on the couch.

Utmost in my thoughts is Ukraine, as usual. That won't change until things are settled. My Ukrainian friends are worried about everything that is going on in the east where they live. They are confused, above all, because Russia has always been a good neighbor. Everyone has family in Russia and vice-versa. They watch Russian TV and this confuses them further, because of all the conflicting news coming from there. Moscow propaganda has been hitting hard day and night, confusing everyone. So, Putin has hit a bulls-eye, it seems.

Here in America I'm happy to report that Ukraine has not been forgotten. The news is fresh every evening about what is happening there. This is unusual, as Americans tend to have the attention span of fleas. In one ear, out the other. So, I'm relieved that NPR news is keeping Ukraine in its thoughts.

I've been unusually busy these days. I have decided to rip up my bathroom floor(s). After I got down to the base level I discovered that there were beautiful oak hardwoods underneath all those layers! My brother Dave helped me out a lot by removing the sink and toilet, and by replacing 5 rotted boards but I did the rest. I am as proud as can be!  Next I'll refinish the molding and paint the walls.
After ripping up 2 previous layers to reveal this BIG red linoleum floor

Staining the boards

TA DA! Finished! After the second coat of Polyurethane
Thanks to my friend Manette, I've been working a bit. First thing I did was some light carpentry in her parents house which had been gutted. That lasted a few months, and now she set me up with another friend of hers that needed help with her elderly mom. Every day I ride the bus to Providence and spend 3 hours with Betty, making her lunch, cleaning and shopping and cooking and other things as needed. It's a good gig and Betty is a sweetheart and I look forward to spending time with her. Thank God for Manette! Having a bit of money in my pocket is pretty sweet.

My next venture could be back into the world of art. A friend of mine has offered me a show in a gallery in downtown Pawtucket. It feels a bit strange because I haven't made any new work for a while so I'll be showing only 1 or 2 new things. Thinking on it, however, I never really had a big showing of my Tea Work. I'm proud of this work and want to share it with a bigger audience but it's doubtful that I'll get the audience I really need in order to sell. I need some eclectic collectors or museum folks coming in to buy because I'm not one to make "couch art". Conceptual objects and performance are hard sells, but I'll do my best.
In other news, I was nominated to serve in Indonesia and am slated to leave next March. I'll be working as a Teacher-Trainer. I got this news back in February but the news from Ukraine has pretty much overshadowed everything. I'm looking forward to serving in Indonesia and was disappointed about the time frame. An entire year has to pass before I can leave the States. Oh well...I'll don my Peace Corps hat and be patient, flexible and go with the flow.
Before I go I want to mention that Spring has finally arrived...kicking and screaming, yes, but it's here.