30 June 2009

stormy weather

We are having thunderstorms every afternoon. Rain usually means it is 4.30pm. The festa is this weekend, the lights lining the streets are all in place. This year the lights are in the outline of flowers and birds.

I am a little apprehensive about showing my work in this variable weather. The last two exhibitions have been in the cellar of the frantoio, where oil was once pressed, but this year I decided to stay outdoors to be able to enjoy the festa myself. Last year I didn't hear any of the concert, nor could I see the celebrations. It was so hot and exhausting that I think I packed up at 11.30pm and missed even the fireworks.

Last year Zacchi was with me at the exhibition. This year I will need to see that two little scallywags are safely inside away from the noise. In the meantime the battle for the toes continues.

Pickle has discovered the great outdoors, slipping through the gate (while she can, she is growing like a mushroom) and bringing home every piece of rubbish imaginable. It will be a big clean-up outside before Saturday, when visitors will be admiring the ancient fountain and communal washing place next to my garden.

Pickle, Grrrr. I am getting fed up with the mess you create!
Who, me? How could you think that of such a sweet wee flower?
Today I am grateful for new projects to work on.

29 June 2009

summer cleaning

In my summer cleaning around the messy areas that tend to collect pieces of paper I found a list I had written two years ago, only partly in jest. It has the ten qualities most important to me in a relationship.

Here are the first three:


Probably the first five on my list are non-negotiable. However, the first three could be enough. Food for thought, writing such a list when you are living in a different culture.

It is good to remember that a smile is a smile in any language.

Today I am grateful for the urge to clean and clear and simplify.

28 June 2009

ticking along

It's a funny old thing, the English language. It changes as we use it, abuse it, require it. I downloaded these photos, then I uploaded them... kinda logical, really!

This was Friday at Terracinaand today up inside the church tower in my village. I think I was told that this clock is 400 years old. It is believed to be the only one in Italy still wound by hand... today I took a turn at winding up the weights (rocks) suspended below. OK, so I turned the lighter one, and not for very long, but every rock and turn counts, surely?

Today I am grateful for digital cameras.

27 June 2009

uploaded photos

check back a few posts ago for photos from Pompeii and the caves at Pastena. Click on the image for a bigger view.

Today I am grateful for conversations via Skype.

26 June 2009


Today it was rather a surprise to get an email saying that my website was the subject of a French blog post. Thankyou, Masmoulin, for your interest!

It was beach day today, soccer on the hot sand and a swim in a not so clean sea. The coolish breeze stopped me from going back in again, but I enjoyed closing my eyes under the sun umbrella!

Today I am grateful for loudly flapping orange canvas against a glorious blue sky.

gone batty

Late afternoon we took a guided tour through nearby caves... fantastic! Much better than I expected. The photos can't begin to do the place justice, you really do need to stand in these places yourself.

If I seem a little batty it could be because I was sconed by a bat as it set out for its nocturnal hunt for food. The tall one says the bat is still wondering why the stalagmite it hit was harder than they usually are...

Today I am grateful for the wonders of the natural world.

25 June 2009


(Wednesday's post, a little late). Weather was pleasantly cool, which made up for slow and very full trains.

Today I peeped ahead to next Tuesday when the tall one leaves, and my eyes leaked a bit. I wish my family were closer. For an all too brief time we were all in the same hemisphere. But, when you send them out into the big wide world to fly, you must celebrate their independence. I can only be a safe landing spot and enjoy them when they come to rest.

Today I am grateful for scattered clouds.

23 June 2009

time out

Today after an early start at work it was a long siesta day... I could get used to relaxing! Work progress photos later, I kind of dozed away the afternoon, listening to music. Tomorrow maybe a trip to Pompeii, if I am awake in time for an early train (cheaper and less stressful than driving).

This is the life...

Today I am grateful for the relaxing company of the tall one.

22 June 2009

21 June 2009

oops! no saturday?

Where did the day go?

Today was interesting... chatting with a "Streetwise Professor". Check out this blog.

Later in conversation I remembered how excellent this idea (Logotherapy) seems to me.

But now to rest a little...

Today I am grateful for the interesting people I meet in my daily life.

19 June 2009

scary stuff

No, not the scaffolding, I am much more comfortable up there now. This week my angel Saturday has been absent, so I take extra care as there would be a long wait before anyone found me if I fell. The rest of the workers are in another part of the building and it is a quiet space I occupy these days.

Home from work a little early I was indulging myself surfing through my emails and Facebook. Facebook suggested I might like to be friends with someone I haven't seen for two years, got to know only a little, and have exchanged emails with very briefly quite some time ago. Just how much does google know about me?

I have long been annoyed, amused, and interested in the advertisements that pop up alongside my google mail, indicating that every word we write is being scanned.

Yes I did click on the "add to friends" link, wondering why this person has been brought back to my attention. Now to see if she wants to add me to her list of friends...?

I don't think that I have anything to hide, but it does bother me a little how "public" my "private" communications might be!

Today I am grateful for sure footing on high scaffolding.

18 June 2009

new adventures

Today I have been "wagging" from work... too many hours are at stake if the owner doesn't like what I have done so far, so I checked in, chatted to the boss, put up some trial areas of smokey white over the background, and came home.

It's time to unpack the suitcases from Scotland, play with Pickle, and pander to the older wise one hiding under the bed as far away from the ear drops as he can be. Zacchi wanted to come to the train this morning, but when he realised it was not my suitcase, but his new friend and minder who was heading out the door, he came back inside and flattened himself into the stairwell in his most "How could you go without me?" expression. Body language is everything!

As I type Pickle is exploring the room. Yes, her name really is "Pickle! NO!" or, alternatively, "No Pickle!" But she is learning quite quickly, and wants to please.

She has just discovered the dog in the mirror... how loud is that bark?

Today I am grateful for a full and busy life.

17 June 2009

(re)creating a ruined fresco

Beforenextafterremnants in context (background still unfinished).
Today I learned that "Here in Italy we say that if someone wants chocolate, you give them chocolate. If they want cream, you give them cream". Yesterday it was "If the boss is happy, everyone is happy". We were all happy... Whew!

(By the way, it isn't true fresco, it's more of a tempera design over stucco).

Today I am grateful for the six solid planks of timber I had under my feet as I craned backwards for this work! (How do the other workers here manage on only two planks?)

16 June 2009

a few photos

A few photos have been uploaded into earlier posts (back to 9 June). It is too hot to work and I am too tired to think, so it is photo time on the blog. Or it was, but now I am over that too!!!!

Today I am grateful that the first coat of the background in the hot workplace is complete.


At last I see some progress in the project I am working on. The background colour has been found. Now I can paint the lines and "ruin them" with the correct tint. More photos in a day or two.

I am glad that noone was watching as I stretched the tape to form the new lines. The distance was just outside my comfort zone, so with the long stretch I needed to attach the tape in the centre with the only remaining free pointer... my nose!

(Ignore the curve in the lower lines, it really is the camera! And yes, I have been working on the other three sections, not just this one).

Today I am thankful for iced fizzy water.

14 June 2009

family time

A long pranzo with "borrowed" family, this time sandwiched between the market, a quick stop at some Roman ruins, and another trip up to the Abbey on Montecassino. Today the surrounding hills have a soft beauty under the cloudy sky. Thoughts meandering back to work are checked before they are properly formed. I want to learn how to have real week-ends.

Today I am grateful for the friends I have both here and in other countries. Time and distance has no meaning when ties are strong.

13 June 2009

ostia antica

So much history in a small area... Ostia, from the Bronze Age and salt to the computer age and sunscreen.

12 June 2009

back at work

Thursday was "full on" back at work, mostly good but still a lot of fine-tuning to do. I was finally able to work with the painter to find the correct tint for the background, as I can't continue without this and the previous trials by different painters were still well off the mark. That was particularly satisfying after working on the "fiddly bits" of my own work. Quite literally up to my elbows in paint after the sponge work ran down my arms, I came home relatively happy. Occasionally I had wondered about my sanity in taking on this work!

Yesterday a chance conversation about my Cassino work had me wanting to get back to my own art-making again. Do I stop doing commissions? It's a hard call! What price financial independence?

I have a feeling that change is in the air. Who knows what the summer will bring?

Today I am grateful for cheerful workmates.

11 June 2009

late night gelato

Oh the choice! The 11.30pm gelato was of the richest cocoa, coffee and nuts, a change from my preferred fruit combinations. Children played gleefully in the piazza, and the older folks meandered about or rested on the benches as the middle generation sat at tables or leaned into cars in earnest conversation.

Life really is about slowing down, eating gelato, chatting with friends, and watching the fireflies dancing below the spectacular moon.

Today I am grateful for time to enjoy.

9 June 2009

home again

Another flight, another book to read. Another view, while waiting for breakfast and time to fly. This is the coast at Prestwick, near the airport where the cheap flights pretend that they are going to Glasgow.Today I am grateful that I am home again.

8 June 2009

after the ball is over...

Now it is time to check-in on line, double check the time of my flight, and wonder how I am going to make it from the station to my house tomorrow night should I happen to need a later train. My track record of arriving on time with Ryan Air is not good.

Ah well, however I get there it will be good to be home again, back into sorting out my own chaos and hopefully finishing my work within the next five or six working days.

Now it is time to pack, a much lighter case on the return journey as the chocolates, cheeses and truffles stay in Scotland.

Goodbyes are hard to say; for me I think "See you again soon" is a much better farewell.

Zacchi will be happy to see me, his carer possibly relieved to hand over responsibility... and Pickle? Who knows what Pickle thinks? I think the gentle and caring house-sitter will be flavour of the month with Pickle!

Today I am grateful for affordable air travel and adventurous family.

7 June 2009

blackout curtains, anyone?

Daylight, whether metaphorical or literal, is usually welcome. But here it is almost 10pm and my head believes it is only about 6pm. Sleep? Not in this light! This morning the hotel drapes let me sleep until 8am. The sky was still a beautiful deep blue well after midnight. Fascinating, but...!

the wedding

The ceremony was in the Glasgow planetarium, an intimate and romantic northern ceremony under the southern sky. Two hemispheres joined by wedding vows. In the darkness and subdued lighting it seemed that we were witnessing a precious moment in a world where no-one else existed, only the marriage celebrant and the special couple. Many of the Scottish men complained later that their eyes leaked, one or two happily suggesting that maybe there was dust in the atmosphere as the couple made their personal vows. Tears are not only for women...

It was the first time anyone had married in the Planetarium, so the staff were very excited and included "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" in the 15 minute journey through the skies before the "special star" made her entrance in the dark, carrying a softly glowing bouquet.

The reception was in a small castle (now an hotel), so we travelled from space-age romance to Scottish history in a few hours. Dancing continued after midnight, and last up the stairs was... shhh, not telling, but I do know that the time was 2.05am!

Weddings bring family together, and while one member couldn't make it, in many ways she was there with us too.

Today I am grateful for
happy occasions.

4 June 2009

manganese blue

Today I discovered manganese blue.

There is nothing more wonderful than seeing people doing what they are passionate about.

New Zealanders have been described as the passionless people in The Passionless People: New Zealanders in the 1970s (Gordon McLaughlan, 1979). Not true, I say... but maybe there is an element, a tiny grain of truth in it. Is that why some of us leave, do we answer a call to follow our passions elsewhere?

Google links (after googling The Passionless People) threw up some interesting reading about New Zealanders in research from Lincoln University.

Are we still a passionless people? This blog post from Peter Verstappen, a New Zealand writer, asks the same question.

Today I am grateful for passionate people.

it is

It is busy, the last few days before the "Scottish wedding". It is time to write check lists and actually cross a few things off them! The bride-to-be has just come in with the offer of tea and home baking...

No other post today; it is nearly midnight, and family calls!

Today I am grateful for photos from America.

3 June 2009

change of food

Another landscape, another cuisine. The road from Prestwick to Glasgow is becoming familiar.

I am far more likely to put on weight in Scotland than in Italy! This food is so familiar, a taste of my childhood on the other side of the world.

I hope that Zacchi is getting better: I thought of him as the pressure of descent hurt my ears too!

Today I am grateful for safe travel and happy family.

1 June 2009

where did sunday go?

It's Monday already. Today the owner of the apartment where I am painting greeting me with a friendly good morning and a warm smile! Hopefully that is a good sign, as, after hearing from the boss last week that my painting was too heavy and strong, I was very worried about the outcome of this project.

Friday afternoon I "ruined" a little of my painting so it blended more with the background (that is, I attacked it with sandpaper). Today we pasted up the straight lines, and thankfully they do look soft and antique as I intended... so with a little more softening of the shadows they might just pass inspection!

Here's hoping!

Today I am grateful for a beaming smile.