Musings from Madrid.

IMG_0034After my last accidental photo post (mobile WordPress and I don’t get along so well), I thought I would report some observations from Madrid as I make my way back to the states.

Some highlights from an Americano after a full week in Madrid:

Sounds of motorcycles, mopeds, horns and sirens can actually be soothing if you give it a minute.


7 out of 10 people on the streets seem to smoke, anywhere.

Scarves can make any outfit fashionable. Especially in Madrid. But then Madrilènes could make trash bag dresses look cool.

The architecture is magnificent, with myriad towering steeples, daunting domes and intricate corbels – everywhere..

The eating schedule is a challenge to get the hang of. However if you say ‘tapa,’ you can be fed any time.

Don’t even think about ordering a martini in Madrid, unless you’re at an Americanized hotel bar. And what’s the fun in that anyway.

Remixes of pop American music from the seventies and eighties streamed throughout retail stores and one taxi ride treated me with Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. I wondered if they had an American flag button on the dashboard and tapped it when they saw us coming.

Politely attempting to speak the native tongue often is rewarded with a gracious welcome. Calm politeness can get you far in any city.

Drinking, of beer and wine especially, takes place all day. Seems to be five o’clock all the time. In most places beer choices were ‘large or small’ rather than our overkill assortment of brewery concoctions.

Servers never walk away from your restaurant table with your credit card, instead bringing a device to the table, which makes much more sense when it comes to security.


If you can figure out the metro (subway) on your own as I did, high-five yourself. It’s a maze down there that makes Manhattan subways look like a walk to your mailbox.

Beautiful iron balconies, balconies and more balconies everywhere you look.

Old Madrid is my favorite area, overflowing with rich history at every turn.

Every door I pass on the street in Old Madrid is a masterpiece in and of itself.

Everyone on the streets looks like they put some thought into what they are wearing — even the joggers.

Flamenco dancing. Now I totally get it. Sexy, emotional and heart pounding.  Parts made me cry.  Wow.

Bull fights. Couldn’t do it. I know its tradition, but the thought of watching eight bulls die brutally and some horses die as collateral damage for human entertainment weakened my knees and hurt my heart.

20130518-182658.jpgThe city is beautifully clean and lush.

Dog breeds of popular choice on the streets are Bulldogs and Yorkies.


Ham (jambon) is to Madrid what pizza is to New York and hot dogs are to Chicago.

And there you have it, for now.

Ps: I’m announcing a caption writing contest for that last random photo post I did of a Ferrari in traffic in Madrid (contest jokingly suggested by one of my readers). Submit yours as a comment on that last post and the caption that makes me laugh the most wins an exciting prize, or at least gets a public pat on the back. Honorable mentions will be listed as well.

Many cooler pics to come. Madrid was a wonderful experience and opportunity.


Sunset Reset.

sunsetFrom within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing,  but the light is all.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I took this photo last night from my friend’s back patio.  Just looking at it again – even as a photo – makes me breathe easier.

Just as the setting of the sun helps birds all over the world to find their way, that same sunset can clear the way for what the new day holds for each of us.

When was the last time you watched the sunset?

What a friend makes.


Handmade plaque by MB Art Studios on Etsy.

I consider myself an extremely lucky person to have several true, genuine friends.  To me, this makes me rich beyond any dollars and cents.

Here’s how you can spot a friend of mine:

They don’t expect anything in return for anything they do for me – ever.

They don’t keep score about anything related to money – ever.

They don’ t keep track of who called who last – ever.

They don’t brag or make themselves feel better by putting me down – ever.

They accept me for all my flaws (and I have plenty) and they don’t want to change me or teach me a lesson of any sort – ever.

If they are worried or concerned about me, they reach out – beyond texts and emails or “I’m here if you need me” niceties.  They know when I might need to hear their voice, even if it’s just leaving a message with no expectation of a return call.

They are beautiful people  at their core, and being with them makes me feel better about myself and the world around me.

For these friendships, I am truly grateful.

Friendships are the sprinkles on the cookie of life.

Got any friends like this?

Because sometimes you need to make a wrong turn.

berthoud pass

This is one side of the pass. And this pic was taken while it was dry. During the white-out that I drove in, you wouldn’t be able to see the road from this vantage point because of the blowing snow.

I sat up in my seat as straight as I could, like there was an ironing board strapped to my back.  I barely spoke a word as my friend tried to ease the tension with idle conversation.  My eyes were peeled as wide open as I could get them and staring straight ahead as my hands gripped that steering wheel for life. The snow was blowing so hard that I could barely see the car in front of me as we traversed hair pin turn after hair pin turn.  I knew I had to keep up with that white suburban in front of me because his tail lights were helping me see where the road was.

This treacherous trek was the result of my friend and I missing a turn during the four hour trip home from the horse clinic in the mountains a couple weeks ago (What I learned from Babe).  We got to talking so much that once we realized that we missed the turn, we were far enough into the other route home that the gal at the convenience store said we should stay on course and probably end up saving time taking this route home from Steamboat anyway.

I knew this route home involved Berthoud Pass which terrifies me in snowy conditions and I usually let my husband drive it while I close my eyes and breathe deeply or look at my phone to distract myself until we get through it. I’m convinced the reason that mountain real estate is cheaper on the other side of Berthoud is because so many people like me dread this pass in the snow.


Photo from The Colorado Highways Site.

But it was bright, sunny and warm as I got back into the car after asking the store clerk. If I had known about the snow storm that would be hitting just as we climbed the pass – just over 30 minutes ahead – I would have turned my car around at the convenience store lickety-split and paid no mind to the time we would lose in doing so.

Needless to say, it was a white- knuckle drive all the way up and back down this pass that terrifies me (all 24 miles of it).  Once we began our upward climb and the snow started to make it hard to see, there was no turning back.  We were committed.  All I could hear in my mind over and over was ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’  (This seems to be my latest life motto.)

And we did it.  MacGyver gave me a huge high-five upon my return home because he knew what an accomplishment it was for me to get over my fears and JUST DO IT on that damn pass, and in a white-out no less.  Now when I drive it this summer I won’t even think twice about being afraid of it.  And that, my friends, ROCKS.

Once again — just as the trusty universe knows exactly when I need to take The Long Way Home — the universe  knew that I needed to make that wrong turn.  And for that I am grateful.

What’s the best wrong turn you’ve ever taken?

45 Life Lessons.

I saw these on Facebook today and had to share.  I love this list. It was written by Regina Brett , a long time columnist of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and 2009. She is 56 years old (not 90 like the facebook post where I saw this reported).  I’ve bolded my favorites and the ones I am going to work on this year.

All good ones except the one about being overprepared – still not sure about that one – since, to me, it goes against “life is short.”

She wrote them the day before she turned 45, below is an excerpt from her website:

The night before my 45th birthday I couldn’t sleep. I felt so grateful to get to turn 45. Two of my aunts died of breast cancer before turning 45. I got breast cancer at 41, so I felt lucky to get to grow old. I started thinking about all life had taught me on all the twists and turns and detours, then grabbed a journal and started catching the lessons as they poured out of me.

45 Life Lessons

by  on JANUARY 3, 2013 in HEALTH

columnist_regina_brettWritten by Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer Newspaper, Cleveland, Ohio.

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step..

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7… Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11… Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16… Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t
save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23 Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will
this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive but don’t forget.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38.. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”