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October 2014

Friday Fun Meets Postcards From Italy: A Blog Mash-up

Yesterday I wrote you a "postcard" from Florence, describing our first (overwhelming) moments in a beautiful, crowded city.  If you recall, we had a long (and interesting) walk from the train station to our hotel.  And then we visited a huge (and hilly) garden.

When we left the garden, we headed straight for one of the little street bars . . . not for wine (this time) . . . but for water!


While we were sitting at our little table on the busy street, watching people go by and admiring the church across the street, my sister suddenly said . . . 

Look at that sign!!! 


What sign?

THAT one!


We were intrigued.

And stymied!

What could it mean?

Was it the Italian symbol for . . .

Flash flooding?

Water main breakage?

Baptisms here?

Help me! I'm drowning in a Sea of Despair?

We just could not imagine!  

(But we had an awfully fun time speculating.)

We continued to ponder the meaning of the sign until the next morning . . . when, on a walking tour of Florence, we ran into another unusual Florentine street sign.


It turn out, there is a French artist who applies creative stickers to standard street signs around Florence, making them unique and . . . interesting!  (Read more about him here, and take a look at some of his creations while you're at it.)

Once you start noticing, the modified street signs are everywhere in Florence!


Such fun!


(But, in my view, it will be hard to top "Drowning in a Sea of Despair" for best street sign!)



Postcards from Italy: Firenze, Part 1

Dear friends,

My, it's been awhile since I wrote, hasn't it?  Let's get caught up!  We'll just catch the 10:24 train to Florence. . . 


The trains in Italy are pretty easy to navigate.  But.  They can be a little intimidating!  The stations are full of people offering to "help" you as you figure out the ticket kiosks -- but they are not official; they are would-be scammers on the make.  Plus . . . there's the language barrier.   And the cultural barrier.  Because things are very flexible in Italy.  (Do you need to validate your ticket?  Maybe.  But it's probably Not a Problem if you don't.)  

Anyway.  After our first rather-stressful-but-somewhat-hilarious  (Rome to Tuscany) train trip, we decided to have Pino help us with the trip from our little Tuscan train station to Florence.  (But still there was confusion.  But mostly between the station attendant and Pino.  And we managed!)

Pino and our travel books had warned us about the pickpockets (gypsies, tramps, and thieves. . . ) in Florence near the train station, so we were on High Alert.  When we emerged from the station, we were supposed to look for a taxi to take us to our hotel.  But it was so crowded with people, and there was a long line for taxis, and . . . really . . . it didn't look that far on the map.  So we decided to walk to our hotel.*

And it wasn't that far.  


It was hot.  (Really hot.)

It was crowded. (Like beyond Disney World crowded).

The streets were cobblestone.  (And we were pulling our bags.)

And we got a little bit lost.  (And possibly sidetracked by sights and art and leather vendors.)

So when we stumbled onto our hotel (just outside the doors of the Uffizi), it was with great relief!  Also, great joy.  Because THIS was the view from our hotel window!


Yes, the Ponte Vecchio bridge -- and it was right there, outside our hotel!

Overwhelmed by the crowds (Really.  Overwhelmed!), we did what we often do for an escape -- we headed for a garden!  This time, to the Boboli Gardens on the grounds of the Pitti Palace.


Now, these were not the most well-maintained gardens I've ever visited, but they were calm, peaceful, quiet -- and free of crowds!




We got some much-needed exercise, spent time with some lovely landscape, and regained our stamina.  

(The panorama view from the top of the hill was pretty awesome, too!)


We were much more relaxed after our time in the gardens, and we enjoyed wandering the streets of Florence, 


taking in the art. . .


(Not the real David.  But just like the real David.   This replica was placed here, at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio, in 1910 to protect the original David, now residing in the Accademia.)


(Cellini's Perseus, my favorite sculpture in the Loggia dei Lanzi, an outdoor gallery in the corner of the Piazza della Signoria at the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery.)

people-watching (especially with a little glass of wine) . . .


sampling gelato. . .


doing a little shopping. . .


and enjoying what might have been our favoite meal of the trip (especially given the complications it took to get it, which is a story for another day)!


Florence . . . such a lovely city!


More soon!



This is where we saw the sight that will forever make us weep with laughter . . . the man with two-functioniong-legs who sat down on his chair at the side of the busiest road in Florence, take out a set of fake-amputee-legs (with bonus bloody stumps!) and proceed to strap them on.  I would've taken a photo, but I just . . . couldn't.

A Bit of a Mixed Bag



When it comes to weekends, I tend to be very unrealistic about how much STUFF I can cram into a very short (too short, actually) period of time.  Like . . . usually I have a weekend to-do list with about 72 hours worth of STUFF to fit in a 48 hour period of time.

I'm just an optimist, I guess.

(On the other hand, maybe that's why I feel like I never get anything done. . . )

Anyway.  This week, Carole asks about 10 things we did this weekend.  As for me . . . I had quite a mixed bag!


On Friday evening (with Tom up north, it was just me and the dogs), I . . . 

1.  Went for a run

2.  Did some knitting

3.  Sipped a little wine while I watched House of Cards on Netflix

(Hoo-doggies!  Doesn't get more exciting than that!)

On Saturday, I . . . 

4.  Drove to Grand Rapids, where I met up with Vicki

5.  Checked out ArtPrize

6.  Tried a new IPA at The B.O.B.

(All around great weekend excitement!)

And on Sunday, I . . .

7.  Did household chores (laundry and shopping and such)

8.  Planned my week

9.  Went for another run

10. Took in a concert with Tom (Huey Lewis and the News) (Nothing like The Power of Love for a little nostalgia!)

(Like I said . . . mixed bag.)

How about YOU?  What did you do this weekend?


 Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here


The ArtPrize Experience

On Saturday, I drove up to Grand Rapids to take in ArtPrize (and a bit more, besides!)

I know I won't be able to describe the ArtPrize concept and experience adequately. . . but I'll try to, at least, whet your appetite.  ArtPrize is a huge international art competition held each fall in Grand Rapids.  This year (the 6th) included over 1500 artists -- all competing for significant cash prizes awarded after a public vote and juror selection.

ArtPrize, though, is so much more than that!  ArtPrize invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people.  It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art.  It gets people out -- experiencing art and talking about art.  Basically, ArtPrize makes the visual arts accessible to everyone!

(Read more about ArtPrize here.  And, while you're at it, check out this year's winning entries.)

ArtPrize is really . . . all about pushing boundaries . . . through art.

I saw color and texture everywhere . . . in gorgeous textile pieces . . .


and with unusual and surprising materials . . . like whole crayons!


Some installations I saw made a point about social issues . . .


While others . . . stopped me in my tracks and made me gasp!  (These seemingly random, hanging guns formed this familiar shape at a particular viewing angle. . . )


Some, like the Great Wall of Bees, challenged the notion of what constitutes "art" . . .


And some helped us all see the "art" in the ordinary, everyday-ness . . . of hair styles.
(This installation was one of the winning entries. It was awesome - and my photos just can't do it justice.)


Some pieces resonated with their simplicity . . . 


And others by reaching my soul.


But, I'll admit.  There was one collection I was most interested in seeing.  Up close.  In person.


You may recognize the work of Lee (Rusty) Mothes from Vicki's blog.  It is incredible!  Truly.*  (These amazing waves are beautifully rendered in pencil.  So. Cool.)

Yes, I was privileged to share my ArtPrize experience with Vicki, Rusty, and Kate.


It was great to be able to meet Vicki -- and even more special to be included in her family for the day!


My ArtPrize experience . . . was made all the richer by spending it with some very special people!


* Rusty was in the Top 25 in his category (2-dimensional) for the entire duration of ArtPrize!



Adventure Hangover: A Riff


  • We had a Most Excellent Viewing Situation for the lunar eclipse yesterday morning.
  • (I snapped this photo from my driveway.  Before my shower - but after my first cup of coffee.)
  • (There were several others.  Each more awful than the last.)
  • (So I'm really happy to get this one.)
  • (Because the red moon was pretty awesome.)
  • You know, when you have a blog, the "content" seems to wax and wane.
  • (Sometimes you have a bunch to say.)
  • (Sometimes you have nothing to say.)
  • (It usually goes in streaks.)
  • Right now, I have So Very Much to Say.
  • (But no time to say it.)
  • (Because.  Way too much Adventure lately.)
  • I still owe you all several Postcards from Italy.
  • (I haven't told you about Florence yet.)
  • (Or Venice.)
  • (And, my god.  I haven't told you about the wacky elevator.)
  • (Or the streets signs.)
  • (Or the bidets.)
  • (Or. . . lest I forget. . . the Inventive Beggar Outside the Train Station.  The one actually strapping on his fake double-amputee legs.  Over his working-perfectly-fine legs.  While we walked past.)
  • (Really.)
  • (I'm not kidding.)
  • And then there's my trip to Utah.
  • (So much fun.)
  • (Such a beautiful place.)
  • (Did you know they have Whisky Wednesdays in SLC?)
  • (Really.  Whisky Wednesdays!)
  • And now . . .  I'm going to meet Vicki this weekend!
  • (Very exciting!)
  • (And, again, so much Adventure!)
  • (Can't wait!)
  • And I have Other Things to Say, besides.
  • (Just ideas.  Percolating in my brain.)
  • (Haven't really had a chance to sort them all out yet.)
  • (But closets, and journals, and poetry, and possibility.)
  • (For starters.)
  • Also news.
  • (Like . . . Brian just got an exciting - and REAL - full time job.)
  • (And he's moved back home for awhile until he settles.)
  • Or that we had 3 tall Austrian Pines removed from our backyard.
  • (But I didn't notice.)
  • (For 2 days.)
  • (The trees were dead.)  
  • (Remember last summer when I thought we had a pine borer problem?  That wasn't it.)
  • (Thankfully.)
  • (It was diplodia tip blight.  And it can be treated.)
  • (Except for 3 trees that were just too far gone.)
  • But this will all Just Have To Wait.
  • Because I'm still trying to catch up with myself.
  • Too much Adventure.
  • (If such a thing is possible.)
  • (And I doubt that.)
  • Work is busy.
  • Life is full.
  • Winter is coming.
  • I have an Adventure Hangover.
  • (And it's all good!)

Thriller . . . A Top Ten List


Because . . . you knew I would . . . 


This week . . . as we inch ever closer to Halloween . . . Carole asks us about our favorite thriller/suspense books.  Which puts me at a distinct disadvantage.  Because thriller/suspense . . . is not really My Genre.  

At all.

But I've read a few.  Mostly . . . (in fact, ALL of them) . . . are by Stephen King: master of horror and suspense!

  1. The Stand (One of my all-time favorite stories - and worth every one of its 1152 pages!  When I read this back in college, I actually tore the paperback book into two parts to make the reading easier.)
  2. The Shining  (The movie never lived up to the novel.)
  3. Salem's Lot (I read this one in high school -- and had to make a crucifix bookmark just to get through it!)
  4. Carrie  (My first Stephen King - back in 9th grade!!!)
  5. Misery  (This one haunted me more than you'd think.)
  6. Pet Sematary  (So. Creepy.)
  7. Cujo  (Yeah.  This one, too.)
  8. The Green Mile  (So much more than just a thriller/suspense novel.)
  9. 11.22.63  (Captivating.)
  10. Dr. Sleep  (If you liked The Shining, you'll probably enjoy this recent sequel.  It's kind of fun to find out what happened to Danny. . .)

Yes.  For some reason, even though I don't read thriller/suspense novels, I looooove Stephen King novels.  (. . .one of my guilty pleasures. . . )

How about YOU?  What are your favorite thriller/suspense books?


 Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here


It's All About Possibility

Before I had a blog of my own, I used to hang out at other blogs.

But . . .  no one ever knew.  I never said anything.  I never typed a comment.  I never added my voice to the dialogue.  I was a lurker.  Plain and simple.

I didn't really understand . . . then . . . how easy it is to connect with kindred spirits. What a difference a comment can make . . . in sparking conversation; understanding; friendship.

But I do now!



After my bout with cancer, I felt a need to . . . become REAL . . . to break out of my shy and rather quiet existence and . . . connect.  I started to comment on the blogs I read.  I joined conversations.  I added my voice.  I started a blog of my own.

It was all about possibility.

And now?  Now I have developed some really wonderful relationships with people I've (kind of!) known for years!

I spent several days last week visiting Margene in Utah.


It was wonderful to see Margene's sky,


and experience Margene's mountains!  


I loved spending time in Margene and Smith's garden.  


We got to knit together at the Alta Retreat (even though the weather kept us inside!), do a lot of sight-seeing, and find plenty to eat and drink!  I even got to spend some time with Cheryl and Susan.

Reaching out.  Connecting.  It's all about possibility!