Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 17

"Sibiu corridor" by Hilary J. England, 12" x 16" oil on canvas panel, 2014
Today's painting was a fun one, because I hid myself off into a dark little alley and found a step to sit on, and painted away in the dark....almost like being blind or something!  Truly it was difficult to see, so when I took the painting out into the sunlight to "check" it, I literally laughed out loud.  It was a RIOT of colors, very psychadelic!  So, I went back in and tried to calm it down a little, which I did, reducing the overly green element to it, but in the end, I actually like it!  This painting turned out to be a cool little painting, and yes, I left the woman faceless on purpose....just because I like the mysterious people here, and painting in a face ruins that for me.  Iliya says if you look close she has a strange little inidications of eyes and a mouth, that's actually kind of creepy LOL....we had a good laugh over that.

The day was very beautiful today, so we decided outside was the best place rather in with the model, who was actually ill and not up to the long sessions today, so it turned out to be a very nice and relaxing paint out, even though when we first set up in this enclave, an older woman went bananas and started yelling at us in Romanian, and we all just looked at each other and kind of giggled....I guess she was angry we were there.  But after a few hours of stomping in and outside of her house to glower at us every so often, she finally saw we weren't vandals or burglars, and just went about her, the day was pretty good for everyone, and now, to relax for now.  Maybe we'll go out and sketch in the city later, or maybe just lay about enjoying the cool evening....either way, it'll be an easy night tonight..

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 15-16

"View down onto a terrace" by Hilary J. England, 11" x 14" oil on panel, 2014
This is the painting I was not able to complete the other day due to the violent weather....we were thinking of going back to that spot and finishing today, but upon reflection, I think I will leave it this way.  It has a nice raw, primitive quality to it, simple and basic and fresh like the young gal on the balcony that day.  If it had been "destined" to be further refined, Providence would have had the weather hold out, so I won't mess with what should be.  This painting is finished.

The last few days were absolutely jam-packed, going to Dracula's castle, Brasov, and Balea Lac up in the top of the Carpathians.  It was an amazing weekend, and we truly enjoyed our time traveling, but, for me, it was not a work weekend...simply a pleasure trip.  We did not have enough time to leisurely paint, as we had a lot of stops on our itinerary...the idea was to get as much exposure to Romanian as we could, and Lee really managed that well.

So, enjoy this little painting, and I'm off to enjoy my day off today, then back to work tomorrow!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 14

"Sibiu park at high noon" by Hilary J. England, 12" x 12", oil on canvas panel, 2014

Today was a bit better, actually, it started off great, but that capricious Romanian weather caught us in another direction:  blazing sun with no cover.  Not only does it eat through sunblock and make you sweat, but it makes discerning colors very, we seem to have no happy medium, although Nataliya did graciously give me a Claritin this morning, and although they don't usually work on me, they did offer at least 7 hours of some relief, and now, the allergies are creeping back, but it's OK...I'm laying in the cool of my room.

We were painting in Sibiu again today, a very lovely little park, and I enjoyed that very very much, any and all elemental idiosyncrasies put was Heaven...the love and one-ness with the beauty of the earth just hums in my heart. I can't imagine not being able to paint for eternity....the universe is so amazingly complex and beautiful, the only thing that scares me about dying and death now is that I won't be a painter in the afterlife....that could never be possible though, I assure myself of that just for comfort :-)  While contemplating the wonderful majesty of the natural world as I was painting away, a few Romanian police officers came around to chat and watch, and one of their undercover officers, "Resov" was especially nice, and after chatting about New York, police officers, laws, differences in cultures, differences in camera prices (LOL) he asked me to meet him for a drink at the bistro later, or whenver I was available, which I am's always nice to have friends in law enforcement he was cute ;-)

So, here is today's work:  "Park at high noon in Sibiu"  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 13

"View from the corridor" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2014
Today really is Day "13" in terms of me feeling like crap and all the annoying things going wrong. This painting is from last's painting is half-finished, in the catacombs of our studio. The day started off beautifully, the weather ideal, and we were all revving to go and paint outside.  We hit a few snags in our studio (we are having some clashes with our neighbors in the library), but we didn't allow their bullshit to dampen our spirits, and out the door we went.

We found an ideal location, and we were in high spirits starting our paintings....and of course, annoyances started to build as it was beautiful and sunny, and one lone cloud in the sky started raining on us, while it's bright and sunny, so right out of the gate, our canvases and paints are mixing the oil and water, and we are getting a little bit peeved. 

It cleared up and the painting was going good for a few hours, enough for most of us to get to a midway point, despite heavy winds that knocked everyone's easel's over at least once,  at least it was sunny out, and we could move through our work. Then  about 2 p.m. the weather turned on us, and it was a tremendous rain and windstorm that literally came upon us out of no-where, forcing us to all pack in a hurry, wind beating us, and everyone pretty disgruntled.  Literally five minutes after we packed up, it's sunny and beautiful again.  The weather here is so capricious...I wish I would have known, and I would have packed a few precautions, like a small weight for the easel, etc.

And, to make this a thousand times worse, my allergies are literally destroying my peace of mind.  I was literally blind by the time I stumbled into my apartment, and no amount of eye drops would quell the intense itching and burning, and I must have sneezed at least 100 times in the last 24 hours...not fun.  It's actually so bad, it crossed my mind to go back home, because I am in torment that doesn't seem to be getting any better.  Word of caution:  if you travel to Romania in Summer, and you have any type of seasonal allergies--see your doctor and get a shot or something in advance.  Let my pain and suffering be a warning.

So, I'm laying in my room, trying to just relax and hope that this miserable itching goes away.  I've rinsed my eyes a few times, and put MORE drops in my through a large box of tissue with my sneezing, and am praying that this crap resolves....I keep praying and praying!!!!

Day 12

"Gheorge" bt Hilary J. England, oil on canvas panel, 12" x 16"
It was a rush job in the end, but I did get "Gheorge" completed.  The day started off with some heavy rain and thunder, so we had to cab it to the studio, and I just felt a complete exhaustion right from the beginning of our sessions, which made the painting a bit harder than usual, and after a few hours I just felt "in the weeds," but I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and get 'er done, and I am pleased with the results.  So was Gheorge haha.

Today will be some more outside painting, if the weather permits.  It's been raining a lot, but the locals say this is an unusually rainy Summer, so it's not the norm.  I would think with all of this rain my allergies would abate, but no, so I am just getting used to dealing with them.  As long as I have my tissues and eyedrops, and stay away from trees throwing pollen all over me, I should be OK!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 11

"Pink building with blue shutters" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14"

This is one of our plein air paintings for earlier this week.  This one was done in the piata or near the town square, and it rained on and off all day, and starting getting fiercely windy at one point, which made it kind of miserable to complete, but Nataliya and I were troopers, and we saw our paintings through to the finish!  So, the birdies got the sandwich I dropped, the pollen claimed my eyes, the wind and rain sopped up my hair and clothes, but I got the painting, so it's all good!

The city is so beautiful, it's hard to choose a spot, but as we go a long, we are really learning the lay of the land, and enjoying our long days of painting, and continuing as much as we can after our required sessions as well.  Nataliya and I tried to finish an "after hours" pastel today, but a thunderstorm rolled in, along with heavy winds, so we had to pack up in a hurry, and we headed over to an amazing little Dollar store tucked away amidst all of the fancy shops, and were able to buy some odds and ends we needed that help make life more comfy!  Then we did a quick little food shop, headed home, ate a nice dinner, and now, time to relax.  Sibiu and Romania are beautiful....really loving it here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 10 off.  I should have slept in, but I didn' I am not much of a "sleeper" to begin with, so after about 6 hours, I was up and restless.  I got up early, did some laundry, put it out to hang dry, went up to the currency exchange and did my thing there, came back, had some coffee and breakfast, then a little group of us set out to go to the markets for supplies and maybe do a little drawing or painting.

We ambled along taking pictures for a while, and when lunch time rolled around, we had a nice light lunch in a cafe near our studio, but by this point, the wind had really picked up and was blowing very hard and allergies went insane.  I had spoken too soon...they were not gone, just laying in wait!  My eyes began itching and watering so bad I could barely open them let alone see, and I was sneezing so much, I thought my head would blow off my shoulders.  Needless to say, this was highly annoying and disappointing, and even after emptying nearly a whole bottle of allergy eyedrops into my eyes with no effect, I was ready to scream.  I tried to stick it out anyway, and found a little "cubby" as much out of the wind as I could find, and for a little bit, I was able to tune out the pain and itching, but then the wind started really picking up again, and after getting a filthy airborne plastic bag across my face as I was working, I lost it, and since Chris and Lisa just happened by at that time, decided to pack it in and head back to the apartment.

The allergies were actually so bad, I had to just go lay down, which really angers me. I took some allergy medicine and to make matters worse, it upset my stomach, so for the entire evening, I spent it curled in a ball in my bed.  Enough is enough with this the time they let up, I'll be leaving, and they are truly debilitating sometimes, LIKE TODAY.  Hoping tomorrow is much better....

So, that was that.  Crabby, sick,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 8-9

The last few days we have been traveling the countryside, and it was both amazing, beautiful and interesting. We set out early to a little church that housed many Romanian Byzantine Orthodox icons, and Lee was very instructive and thorough in telling us the very graphic and gruesome stories behind their rescue.  It was a very interesting time, and then from there, our group moved on to a nice lunch (Schnitzle for me, thank you!), and to an old but amazing castle in Hunedoara called "Corvin's Castle," being named after the last king occupant.  It was a sublime place, complete with fully restored dungeons and gallows (and full models and explanations accompanying each mode and method of death and destruction) as well as all the banquet halls, chapels and arms rooms still intact, and we so we thoroughly enjoyed painting and just frolicking in the this wonderfully preserved historical site, so much, we didn't want to leave, but eventually, Lee rounded up the wayward artists, and off we went.

From there, we drove to Alba Iulia, a city fortress built up above the neighboring towns, in the shape of a "star."  It was also a most interesting and beautiful site, with a very active city in the fortress now, so after having a lavish dinner in their premier restaurant, we moved on to other things (code=we wound up partying in a Romanian bar) and had a very jolly time until quite late.  This morning, we woke up early, remarkably hangover free (perhaps it was the good Romanian wine?) and started back into Alba Iulia, where we further explored the city, visiting numerous gorgeous churches and museums.

We really had a wonderful time, as a group we also had a ton of laughs as we are a very jovial group, and after a very quick lunch, headed back to our coach for our final stop--a salt mine deep underground---hundreds of feet, which was both eerie and amazing. There is NO way to adequately describe this place--picture an underground cavern literally hundreds of feet high, with balconies jutting off into nothing (quite terrifying) and staircases down and down that are so treacherous it's truly heartstopping (and a glass elevator that is equally horrifying due to the "heights and depths" you are descending, but mostly a HIVE of human party activity, with an underground river filled with boaters paddling this way and that, an amusement park including a ferris wheel, food and drink vendors, pool tables just out in the middle of the fray, a surreal open air bowling alley, all with hundreds of people running amok was literally like a bizarre acid trip.  The salt was so thick in the air, you could taste and smell it, and people playing and running about (there was even a wedding going on) like they are on a regular beach, because the floor of it is almost like sand. except slippery in some spots like ice.  A truly unique experience, and one I certainly won't forget!

So, now we are back in our "compound."  Some of the others have gone for food, but I am enjoying the quiet, and will look forward to a night's sleep, even though others are going out partying again tonight, I plan to R&R for the next few nights, because I just can't keep up with them haha....but that's OK.  Have a nice night!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 7

Well a week has passed, and thankfully most of the jet lag is resolved, so that is a relief.  We worked outside again today, in the Old Olde City, and the views were fantastic, but the weather, not so much.  It started off cloudy, and by the afternoon most of the group was washed out and returned to the studio, but a few of us more hardy souls were lucky that our original spots were under enclosures or restaurant umbrellas, or like me and Natalia, a building overhang, so we were able to continue through the rain and wind.  Not fun, trust me, but we did it, and I was happy with the results of the painting.  Many tourists came by to film me (what is that about?) and take pictures of me and the painting, which is odd.  Don't photo it, just buy it! ;-) LOL....

So, of course, the moment we decided to call it a day, magically, the rain ceases and the Heaven's open up to a sunshiney and glorious evening.  It literally stays light here until 10 pm (which is disconcerting and doesn't help with jet lag!)  so we dumped our gear off, roamed the city, stopped in several cafes, and just enjoyed the night.  We got back in around midnight, because of our excursion into the Carpathians tomorrow.  I will be out of internet connect for the next 24 hours, so this should prove to be a most interesting trip!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 6

Today was an interesting day, but they have all been.  After suffering from the most miserable jet lag, allergies, and other unmentionable physical issues, Natalia and I came back to the complex last night, had our dinners, and I went back to my room to just freshen up and check my email.  Needless to say, I literally sat on the edge of my bed at 8:15 p.m., and passed out completely unconscious, until 7:30 this morning....I haven't done that since I was an infant, or dying of some dreaded disease.  I woke up feeling like gangbusters, took a hot shower (yay!  there is not been hot water these last few days, but I got some!), then had a very nice breakfast, and out the door we went.

We painted en plein air in the city today, and that was nice but a bit of a challenge.  I picked the hardest spot possible, but for a reason...I wanted the challenge of it, since cityscapes are not my "thing," but this view of the city through this amazing corridor/archway at the top of Sibiu was very beautiful, but very complex, and I wanted to see if I could manage it "raw," without any tools to work out the composition.  I did, and although it's not my very best painting, it was not the worst, it was successful, just not to inspiring to me, but that's OK.  Iliya thought it successful as well, so I suppose that's a good thing.  I dealt with extreme temperature and weather change, hordes of tourists (and questions), being serenaded by gypsies children playing "Old McDonald" on their recorders, gnats flying up my nose and landing in my paint, and the very worst of it:  The pollen falling from the trees that coated me like snow eventually, and also was mucking up my paint, and actually changing the color of my painting from landing in it....but, I needed to really keep myself moving mentally, so as to not let my mind wander.  I have a tremendously hard situation going on stateside, and being overseas where I feel helpless is tough, but long story short, I know this is where I should be, but that doesn't make it any easier.

The pollen count here is so high, another artist each day is stricken down with terrible symptoms, even if they never had allergies stateside. Sarah and I have been struggling terribly, as are a few others, and today, Dominique began to feel ill with swollen eyes and painful sinuses, and Natalia was so incapacitated by swollen, itchy eyes, sneezing and blindness, she could barely paint.  It is pretty awful, and I'm hoping this will pass in the next few days as we get adjusted here.  I'm just so happy I slept 12 hours last night, I'm doing the Snoopy dance of joy!

So tonight, Lee wanted us to go partying till all hours of the morning in Sibiu, but quite a few of us artists (particularly us "older" ones) decided that it was too much, so we quietly have tucked in for the night.  We have a really heavy schedule ahead of us these next few days, so quiet is what we need....and I'm grateful for the blessings I was able to enjoy today, including a nice dinner of chicken and salad with the group, and just a very comfy bed!  Have a nice evening all (even though we are 7 hours ahead, I'll wish it to you now!)!!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 5

Today we did an all day painting of our model.  The pose began at 10 and ended at 4:30 with an hour lunch break.  I have to say, I was very pleased with the finished painting.  If I had my cellphone with me, I would have photoed it.  I'll have to do that tomorrow.

It was raining today, so we artists were not too festive to go out, or really indulge in anything.  Natalia and I packed our lunches (hard boiled eggs, cherries and apricots) and wound up eating our lunches at Dominique, Elody and David's apartment, as everyone is trying to conserve a little money, and their apartment is much closer to the studio, because Elody has a problem with her leg.  Dominique, Natalia and I enjoyed our food, with Dominique eating her leftovers of chicken livers and mashed potatoes.  Dominique is a very nice girl, as Natalia is, so we three had a very congenial lunch.

So that is all there is to report today....another busy working day, then cut back across the city on foot, then a homemade dinner, and now...bed.  I'm beat....

Day 4

Today was the first day of our actual residency.  We woke up, got ourselves as together as we could, and walked the nearly two miles to the studio, where we spent the day working with a lovely young model who unfortunately could not hold a pose for more than nearly a minute.  This proved to be extremely frustrating for everyone, to the point where one of the younger artists began to cry from the strain of being chastised for correcting the girl's movement, which is the natural thing to do.  When it came to me, I was so tired from the continuing jet lag, my allergies had me nearly blind and deaf (my ears were clogged) that I just began to laugh at the strain of it.  What else is there to do?  Either laugh or cry, and laughing is how I usually deal with something that is intensely stressing....yes, I'm the idiot that might start laughing at a funeral. This was a very stressing day in that everyone is somewhat competitive, and we are all seeing where we "kind of stand" so that is very taxing to people, especially the younger ones, and yes, even for me.  It's like getting put on the spot to perform....even when you are great at something on your own, things change when there is a demand to produce, and produce well, in front of a crowd.  It is a little nerve-wracking.

So, when the day was done at 4 p.m., Natalia and I (fellow artist and very nice gal from Ukraine now residing in Houston) decided to walk to the market and buy some supplies, since eating out every day, no matter how cheaply, is ultimately not good for you, or your wallet.  We ended up getting a little lost, so by the time we slogged our bags of groceries home, we probably walked about 4 miles instead of two, and we were exhausted from the cumulative effects of the weekend and the intensity of the day.  We made a nice chicken and pasta dinner, had a glass of local wine, and headed off to our rooms to Skype with our immediates, and, off to bed.

The funny thing is that most of the artists on this residency have done what I did, which is opted out of bringing their cellphones, due to the costs of overseas calls.  This is literally the first residency that I have seen this, and I was kind of surprised, since I thought the economy was supposed to be so good!  Each one said the same thing:  "I just can't afford it."  So, there it is!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 2-3

The city of Sibiu is a very beautiful and interesting place, with the old mingled with the new...and the decay co-mingling with the restoration.  In the outskirts of the city, there are cement forms of buildings that were started, and just abandoned, and in these pockets of mess, there stands fully developed, new and shiny corporate outreaches like a Home Depot (Romanian style!) and shopping malls.  Very interesting!

Yesterday, I despite my fatigue, I was only able to sleep four hours, so I got up, got dressed, and went out into the neighborhood looking for money exchanges, and some food.  It was Sunday morning, and the local church, very beautiful and ornate, was conducting their services, which was also broadcast out onto the street with a speaker system, so people lounged around the church as well, in their rose gardens, which are very beautiful.  I guess the church does this in hopes of evangelizing the sinners that won't attend?  LOL, either way it was interesting.

When I got back to the complex, some of the other artists were now waking, and itching to get out so we formed a group with our instructor, Iliya, as the head.  He brought us out to the other end of town, where we did go into the Home depot because we all needed a few supplies like lumber for stretcher bars, and I needed duct tape since my suitcase got damaged, then we continued walking through the city to big "farmer's market" where we were able to buy strawberries and cherries to nibble on as we walked around.

We came back and swung back through into the old city, which is absolutely fantastic.  It reminds me of the old romantic fairy tales of Transylvania.  The ancient architecture has a flavor of both Germany in the structure of the buildings, but not quite as austere, and the Mediterranean basin, with the more "frilly" and lavish touches, and the color!  The bright yellow, greens, and apricots reminded me of the French Riviera, and I half expected to see a beach around every turn, instead of the majestic mountains that loom in all directions around us.  The views of the city from the top (the old city is at the top of a "mountain" with the newer parts being built around it circular style, winding down the incline, so from the top, you can see how the city sprawls, and the fellow mountains all around...being in the old town conjures up feelings of being back in the medieval days, with even the local gypsies dress in their strange garb that hasn't changed in hundreds of years...they are the Amish of Romania LOL....the stray dogs wander here and there in the square, and are actually tagged and given their shots by the authorities.  Very interesting indeed.

The "Old Olde Town" as the locals call it, was bustling with activity as there were several street fairs going on.  We meandered through these, enjoying them, entering the ancient and beautiful cathedrals and basilicas to admire the art and architecture, then we had a relaxing lunch in one of the local restaurants, where we discussed our opinions on art (Big Surprise LOL) both old and new, then moved on around the city, walked back home, showered up, walked BACK to the old city (I literally must have walked over 20 miles yesterday) and all met up with Lee and Carmen back in Old Olde Town, and had a big dinner Romanian style again...then watched some amazing fireworks, walked home, and surprise, this time, I was able to get almost 6 hours of sleep!  Hooray.  At least it's getting a little better each night, rather than worse.

So, today is the first day of our work.  We will be in studio in a beautiful ancient building in the thick of everything in Old Olde town, and working from a model from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., then a dinner break, then evening plein air painting.  It's a rigorous schedule, concluding around 11 p.m. every night, with only Sunday off, but that's's why I'm here.  So, now to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the hour before heading out...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 1.5

The day continued, and just got more hectic.  After landing in Romania, I got the nastiest Border Control clerk, and she tried to deny me entrance because Russia hadn't stamped my passport book in Moscow.  I was completely defeated until a man clerk came, and after a short discussion in Romanian, he looked at my book, and asked, "Why did Russia not stamp book?"   I looked at him in complete bewilderment and stated, "I gave it to them.  They said they didn't need to stamp it."  He looked at me for a minute honestly, and then shook his head, and as he stamped my book to admit me into the country said, "That's why you never trust Russians."  And we just smiled at each other, LOL.

Then, the day just got stranger.  I ran through the gate to meet Marius, our liaison for the gallery, found him immediately, but with all of the delays, all of the other artists, coming in from all around the world, were trickling in at all the wrong times, wrong gates, etc.  So, Marius tried to keep us together, and introduced us in trickles, and we became a lively bunch as the HOURS ticked by in the terminal and we tried to get everyone rounded up.  One poor soul had her luggage, EVERYTHING, lost by JFK, others were rerouted to Istanbul, all kinds of craziness.  We all sat around, eating bread, drinking juice and wine, and just trying to have some laughs and make the best of this bizarre situation....We were all operating on less than an hour or two sleep for the last 48 hours, so we were just looking forward to getting to our apartments.

So, when the last artist was finally rounded up, we merrily and excitedly made it to our hired coaches to go to Sibiu....problem was, we all were whispering different accounts of how long the trip would take.  After we all conferred, we agreed it should probably take an hour tops.  Well, we could not have been MORE WRONG.  We began a 387 kilometer odyssey literally being driven by Formula One drivers, flying through the night at top speed through the Carpathians, dodging trucks and precipes, to the point where I truly believed we would be splattered all over the Transylvanian mountainside.  At nearly midnight, we arrived at our destination, all of us literally crawling out of the coaches, and just looking to flop into our apartments.  Not so.  Lee, our boss, decided we should not be such wimps, and had a big party planned for us in the historic town square, with food and drinks and the works. never saw a more sorry bunch!!!  We each pathetically tried to beg out of it, and took turns hiding in our rooms, so that it took nearly another hour to organize everyone, including staff, etc., and by the time the taxis came to drag our sorry asses to the party, it was nearly 1 a.m., but in Sibiu, there is no closing time, so our Romanian friends just laughed this off.  Dealing with crabby artists is like having a bunch of angry pre-schoolers, but Lee just took a firm stance and refused to let any off us "be excused," so off we all trudged muttering, grumbling and sniffling. My ears had popped horribly (this was a first) during the airplane landing in Romania, to the point where I was deaf in my left ear for most of the day, and that was the only thing that was awesome about racing through the majestic and eery friggin' ear finally popped clear!

In the end, we really had a wonderful time, and I was happy I didn't Grumpy Old Man it into my room in spite of the orders.  I met some really great people, and we all had a barrel of laughs, and now....well, what the hell.  It's a new record for me.  Going on 72 hours with only 4-5 intermittent hours of sleep....I'm actually delirious, but that's OK.  No wake up time for us tomorrow, and the nightclubs are still blaring loudly away across the street on the strip, at nearly 4 a.m., so I know I have to get used to the sound of the music, laughter, sirens, and happy voices that are both in our courtyard and, welcome to Sibiu!!!  And now, I need to hit myself on the head with a hammer and knockout LOL....I have no wake up call tomorrow (it's recommended we sleep as long as we can, even into the afternoon), so...there it is.  Life is hard???  Sometimes, in strange ways....

Day 1

Sitting in Sheremetyevo Airport, waiting for my connection.  It's been a pretty exhausting trip, but not because of anything in particular....I just started out exhausted.  My head was really not into this trip for this last week, and I began to grow anxious about it, not about the travel, not about the places, experiences, or the job, but about leaving the US....I had a lot on my plate right now, and I felt like I was just walking out in the middle of it...which might be exactly what I needed to do, but I HATE leaving messes, whether it is physical or emotional, so it wasn't palatable to me, and to be honest, I seriously considered bailing on the trip right up to walking into JFK this morning, but obviously, I didn't.

So, that mental aspect put aside, the travel has been smooth.  Taking off, I felt my heart lurching into my feet, and a vague sense of complete panic that I was now committed to this trip, and couldn't even turn around for 10 hours even if I wanted to LOL....but, the quiet flight (and mean and evil Russian stewardess) took my mind off of things, and after my TV unit failed an hour into the trip, I pulled out my handy dandy Nook, and immersed myself in "Wuthering Heights" and  "The Journeyer" and the time passed surprisingly fast.  Aside for my legs going repeatedly numb like clockwork every hour and a half, and having to do repeated lunges in the back of the airplane along with a squadron of other aching passengers,things were nice and uneventful except that they kept stuffing us with food to keep everyone pacified least it wasn't too bad for airplane food.  Plus, Aeroflot gives you complimentary nightshades, slippers, pillow and blanket, but too bad nobody on the plane slept.  At least not in the "cargo" section ;-)  I did take the complimentary nightshades and inflatable pillow with me, in case I find myself unable to sleep or homeless in the airport!

Coming into Moscow was really breathtaking, as the countryside is so amazingly green....almost completely pine trees, and sprawling enclaves of houses, each with brightly colored rooftops....emerald green, cobalt blue, royal purple.  I was very amazed by how colorful the roofs are....and how much forest is still around the city.  Even the clouds were extra huge....and kind of intimidating as we were descending....monstrous white clouds, like a battalion of soldiers we were weeding our way through.  I felt a thrill to think that THIS was the "forbidden" land for so long, this was always told to us to be the big bad guy other guy on the block, the Darth Vader to our Luke Skywalker, and yet, the land looks picturesque and serene (and definitely has an air of mystery to it), and the people seem ordinary as we are....except for the intriguing lyrical language. 

So, that's it for right now.  I look forward t getting this smaller flight to Bucharest out of the way because we still have a 2 HOUR drive from the airport out to Sibiu, and by that time, my colleagues will be dragging me in to the apartment building on a pallet LOL.  I am trying to remain slightly caffeinated, because I have a secret fear of conking out in this airport, and waking up tomorrow morning and now a refugee in Moscow!  I figure tonight will be a most LOVELY and restful sleep (and to guard against jet lag and insomnia I have packed an emergency Benadryl), and then hopefully my sleep schedule will be back on track.....My cellphone is down for the count, but I'll not worry about that now....I'll handle that when I get settled in Romania.  Only one thing at a time I can handle when my mind is firing on it's last cylinders from sleep deprivation ;-)

Carry on- Beginning Life in Lockdown

“Study of dramatic back lighting” oil on wooden panel, 16” x 16” Strange Times Beginning Life in Pandemic Lockdown Life in ...