30 June 2011

election time

I need to register to vote. But who on earth do I vote for? The current messing about with law changes to ban Kronic makes me so mad! Surely the crime and health situation caused by drugs in NZ is enough to declare it a national emergency and really tighten up in a hurry?

I am mostly proud to be a Kiwi, but honestly, some of the things happening in NZ today make life with Berlusconi look simply rosy! I'd rather read (or not read, as the case may be) about Silvio's sex scandals than about another promising life lost in NZ to drugs and alcohol, about another case of child abuse, about the dark side of life in God's Own.

Public money is going to waste, lives are being lost, the world faces an economic crisis and the country is trembling on the faultlines. These are difficult times. Democracy is all well and good, but sometimes the public good demands something a little more draconian to get results. I'm all for restorative justice and am a strong adherent to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, but in these troubled times speed is of the essence. Maybe Draco had it right after all. Greed, drug abuse and lack of action have eroded the basis of our society.

Yes I will vote, come November. But first give me a party worth voting for. It would seem that Italy and New Zealand have even more in common than before.

Today I am grateful for outspoken activists.

29 June 2011

do as i say

...and not as I do!

I remember teaching my children how to use knives and scissors safely. I remember being taught the same things by my own parents.

So why did I foolishly use a knife to open a seal, blade pointing to my other hand? It's not a big wound, and the small amount of blood lost was satisfyingly cadmium red deep, rather than flesh deep, but it was enough to make me stop and think.

How many times in life do we take short cuts without even registering what we are doing? How much risk-taking is good for us? And what is a risk, really? Maybe risky behaviour and being fool-hardy are not synonymous.

I posted this Katherine Mansfield quote on Facebook today.
Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.

I sent the same quote to an old school friend who is agitating for much needed change in administration in New Zealand. But do I follow it myself? Or is it too easy to advise and not heed one's own advice?

I have been delaying facing a commission for several months now. Quite frankly, after the work I did in the palazzo, I was afraid that this might be more than I could manage without more damage to my body. The straw that would break me, perhaps. Scaffolding, cement, all those things. What I once saw as a wonderful challenge is no longer an exciting romance with ancient walls.

Yesterday I plucked up courage and went to meet the patron and inspect the site. What had I been so worried about? I will really enjoy this work! The fresco will be no taller than I am, and there will be no pesky straight lines involved. My arm, knees and back might protest, but I shall not listen!

In stepping out yesterday I had to face the truth; I was afraid that this work was going to be too much for me - one section of one wall, when over the last couple of years I had managed several walls and three vaulted ceilings. I had lost my passion for creating, for taking on a challenge.

Then I had to ask myself why this had happened.

Sometimes I am a bit like a turtle. I stick my head out, blunder along, and make surprising headway with my lumbering steps. But then I need to pull my head in for a while, hide myself from view, perhaps lick my wounds. That's all very well, but it is then very hard to get started again, to put that head back out into the daylight, to face what is coming towards me.

I think that is where I have been for a while. I was wearing several caps on my head, and when the last one fell off I retreated into my housework, seeking solace in routine. If you don't try, you can't fail. If you are not seen you can't be judged. If you hide from it, life will pass you by.

But that is not how I want to be.

Today I talked to a student about balance. I have coached others to look at what their ideal day looks like. I know I sound like a broken record, but it is time to practise what I preach.

That crazy woman you see walking along the top of the wall with a dog leash in each hand just might be me, making sure that I don't lose my balance again.

Today I am grateful for people who are not afraid to take risks.

28 June 2011

pickle's blood results are good...

I have yet to talk to the vet to see how good, but the short answer over the phone is that the results are good. Woohooo... Let's hope it is a full recovery further down the track, but for the summer anyway we continue a modified pill regime.

It looks as though I still need to buy a choke chain, she has been damaging my arm again with her pulling. You win some, you lose some! She doesn't like the lead around her chest, but that is the only way I can walk her now that she is well again. See cat, will charge like a speeding canon ball...

Happiness is a well dog! Heartfelt thanks Jack for all your encouragement, and for staying positive when things were looking bad a while ago.

Now to get the ragamuffin looking loved again :-)

Today I am grateful for medical/veterinary science.

27 June 2011

it's warming up here...

Temperatures are into the 30s now. The weather forecast is for "molto caldo" followed by "temporali" on Thursday. The couch and books in the cool downstairs apartment look far too tempting! Is it only a few weeks ago that we were complaining that spring hadn't arrived? Summer, gloriously scorching, has arrived!

Pickle had her blood test today, results tomorrow. Zacchi is looking a bit too scruffy because the diet food that was prescribed for Pickle isn't rich enough for him. He now has a tonic to take. Honestly, worse than children they are! They both enjoyed their ride to the vet, and behaved pretty well really. Zacchi chose to be absolutely perfect when he saw Pickle lifted up onto the table, and Pickle, who had greeted the vet with delight and affection, suddenly remembered that vets have needles and wanted to go home.

I am waiting for touring Canadians, due here four hours ago. I hope that they are OK. While waiting I have sorted and cleaned in the kitchen; it looks as though Bonni is still here :-) I think I have to give up waiting (and housework), get changed, and attack the studio. I felt inspired this morning, and ruthless. What a pity those feelings have passed!

OK, upstairs, on with the music, no more computer, it's a wonderful day for new beginnings.

Today I am grateful for choices.

26 June 2011

it's incredible

I bought a new camera some time ago, and gave away my much loved one to some much loved surfers. It has taken me some time to get used to the new one, and it still delivers the occasional photo with distortion, but the benefits will outweigh that I am sure. When I chose it I paid an extra 36 euros or so to have the GPS feature on it. Why? I guess because I could. Today in an idle moment (yes, I do have them!) I loaded Picasa, and there on all the new photos were little red flags. It seems that I had used the GPS feature for these. I have vague memories of turning it on somewhere.

I clicked on the little flag.

Up came a map with another little red bubble on it. I zoomed in... and somehow my computer had managed to locate the spot where I took the photo. There was the map of southern Italy, and the spot was marked for me.


Here it is... my first ever attempt at using this feature. This is a photograph of the sassi at Matera.
Posted by Picasa

Well done, little camera. You are forgiven for any other short-comings.


This morning I had to confess to the village organisers that there wont be an exhibition at my place at festa time. Somehow I double-booked myself. I am quietly relieved; another exhibition and three hundred or so people in my cantina is the last thing I need right now.

Today is the infiorata, and again I am double-booked. I have promised a neighbouring village that I would be at their festa with some paintings. This one is not such a faux pas, as the local one is a religious festival and I am not a church attendee. I will go down to the piazza and pay my respects though, I enjoy the ceremonies and seeing ancient rituals observed. But the mountain village of Colle San Magno calls me... and while I am there I might just have a summer beer for my Dad!

Today I am grateful for village life.

24 June 2011


In the post-visitor quiet it is nice to reflect a little on what life brings, and sometimes takes away.

It has been a hectic few weeks, beginning back in April. Visitors arrived one after the other, overlapping, needing different types of attention, and somehow, mostly, slotting in.

It was made more chaotic than it needed to be when the weather wasn't warm, when a hot water cylinder element needed replacing, when paint didn't dry, when power went off and wasn't restored for four days. Pickle's illness was also very time consuming, with baths and lotions and trips to the vet all happening while people were coming and going.

During the past two months I have driven over 4,000 kilometres, and had to have the car seen to as well. I have seen new places, and returned to others I had already visited. I avoided the cities, and selected easily accessible rural accommodation.

It was like a railway station on the home front. Highlights for me include the evening when three guests returned "home" a day early, before another three had moved on. It was full house to say the least, and the power was off at the time. How awesome it was the way all of the visitors took it in their stride. Seven kiwis coping without a single complaint, cooking on gas and using candles to find their way about the house. Kiwis can do.

I know that New Zealanders are not the only people in the world with pioneering spirit and the "number 8 wire" approach, but when I see this in action I am proud to be a Kiwi. (This is not the best link, maybe I'll find a more accurate one somewhere else).

I was intrigued to find that there is a section in Wikipedia devoted to the New Zealand female stereotype. I guess it fits me at least 80% of the time. The rest of the time? Well that's my secret, shared by only a select few!

The big "up" was making new friends, really enjoying the company of visitors here for Legato. They have returned home, and my life is richer for knowing them.

A big "down" for the month was leaving my prescription sun glasses on a train. I miss them terribly. I am still cross with myself for doing that. I guess you can't get everything right all the time! Perhaps (in light of the stereotype) I need a more feminine pair?

The issues of femininity and independence were to the fore on more than one occassion. I am quite sure that there is a time and place for everything, and when the time is right I will discover the delights of being "feminine". But for now, if being independent is unladylike, and I am "una donna con le palle", then I am guilty as charged!

Today I am grateful for my interesting life.

23 June 2011

from another blog

This (below) is from "Simple Truths", a blog I subscribe to. I think it is well worth reading. (I have left the advertising in as I am not sure about copyright, but it was OK to share the link on FB etc so I guess that this is OK too!)


Inspiring change using the 100/0 Principle
by MATT on JUNE 22, 2011

Brian Tracy said…”Eighty percent of life’s satisfaction comes from meaningful relationships.” Think about it…when you look back at the end of your life what will really matter? Five words…the quality of your relationships.

So here’s the question: If your relationships are the most important part of your life, what are you doing to make them all they can be?

The 100/0 Principle may be the most important book you’ll ever read.

For me, it ranks in the top 3…ever! The message is truly life-changing.

You’ve probably heard me say, it’s not what you say, but how you say it, that turns the switch from “off” to “on.” In fact, our book, 212°…The Extra Degree, is a great example of that, but…The 100/0 Principle is even better. The examples, the stories, the quotes provoke many “a-ha” moments. Simply put, this is a book that can make your marriage better and greatly improve your relationships with family members, friends, co-workers and…even your boss.

Here’s a brief excerpt from The 100/0 Principle. Enjoy!

What is the most effective way to create and sustain great relationships with others? It’s The 100/0 Principle: You take full responsibility (the 100) for the relationship, expecting nothing (the 0) in return.

The 100/0 Principle
Implementing The 100/0 Principle is not natural for most of us. It takes real commitment to the relationship and a good dose of self-discipline to think, act and give 100 percent.

The 100/0 Principle applies to those people in your life where the relationships are too important to react automatically or judgmentally. Each of us must determine the relationships to which this principle should apply. For most of us, it applies to work associates, customers, suppliers, family and friends.

STEP 1 – Determine what you can do to make the relationship work…then do it. Demonstrate respect and kindness to the other person, whether he/she deserves it or not.
STEP 2 – Do not expect anything in return. Zero, zip, nada.
STEP 3 – Do not allow anything the other person says or does (no matter how annoying!) to affect you. In other words, don’t take the bait.
STEP 4 – Be persistent with your graciousness and kindness. Often we give up too soon, especially when others don’t respond in kind. Remember to expect nothing in return.
At times (usually few), the relationship can remain challenging, even toxic, despite your 100 percent commitment and self-discipline. When this occurs, you need to avoid being the “Knower” and shift to being the “Learner.” Avoid Knower statements/ thoughts like “that won’t work,” “I’m right, you are wrong,” “I know it and you don’t,” “I’ll teach you,” “that’s just the way it is,” “I need to tell you what I know,” etc.

Instead use Learner statements/thoughts like “Let me find out what is going on and try to understand the situation,” “I could be wrong,” “I wonder if there is anything of value here,” “I wonder if…” etc. In other words, as a Learner, be curious!

Principle Paradox

This may strike you as strange, but here’s the paradox: When you take authentic responsibility for a relationship, more often than not the other person quickly chooses to take responsibility as well. Consequently, the 100/0 relationship quickly transforms into something approaching 100/100. When that occurs, true breakthroughs happen for the individuals involved, their teams, their organizations and their families.

good company

Music floats up from the valley. Over the past few days there has been the sound of laughter, dance, music... the sounds of summer. I think it is a Scout camp down on the flat. Occasionally I lean out over the balcony to hear more.

The days are balmy and it is beautifully cool inside these stone walls. Siesta time is becoming my favourite time of day. The town and the village are still, nobody moves. But someone down below has forgotten that between the hours of 1.30 and 4pm noise is almost forbidden. I am enjoying the music, but wonder where they find the energy for such activities when the sun is scorching and high in the sky.

Piccolina goes to the vet for her check-up blood tests on Monday. The vet is happy and I am happy. Pickle, if she understood the options, must be VERY happy! Pickle still has tablets once a day but the tests will show if these are still required. Once the antibiotics finished Pickle returned to her old self, even her bark sounding normal again. Two nights ago I was not sure that that was a good thing!

The water falls in the fountain. I can hear a few birds, but the music has paused. I love this quiet, dreamy time of day when lethargy becomes a virtue.

Today I am grateful for a change of pace.

22 June 2011


Tomorrow my last guest leaves. She has been wonderful company during what became a stressful period for me, and I am trying not to miss her ahead of time! We have shared so much laughter, so many "deep and meaningfuls" and achieved a lot in the house as well.

The guests who left this afternoon were inspirational. I want to be as fit (and almost as slim) as they are when I am their ages, so no more vino, no more chocolate, and for now not too much cheese either! Yes, it is health and fitness focus now! My 76 year old guest who broke three vertebrae when he fell out of a tree some time in the 1990s was ably lifting 20 kilo suitcases up and down the steps, stairs and onto the train.

I have no guests due until August then September, so it is time to retreat to the studio and paint, paint, paint! That works in really well, as I tend to foget to eat when I am painting.

Life is good. In fact, it's great! Summer fruits, salads, evening strolls with two little dogs, and lots of painting when it is too hot to be outside.

Roll out the canvas, let's paint!

Today I am grateful for inspirational people.

19 June 2011


I want to write an inspiring, funny or really interesting blog post, but I am stuck. I am feeling strangely flat and a little discombobulated. I guess it will pass.

It has been a high energy weekend after a strange kind of week. On Saturday I went up Monte Cerasola to honour a promise to a veteran soldier. Today there was a meeting to discuss projects set up by the same man. He was inspirational. I hope that I can move mountains in the name of peace, or at least climb a few along the way.

This evening I have guests sleeping (I hope) in three different apartments in the village; some with me, one in my studio and one further up the village. I am not quite sure that all my instructions for breakfast were understood, so the doorbell has been taken upstairs so the downstairs guests can sleep in.

Tomorrow I teach, and go back to Cassino to get my fingerprints done again (the ink version this time) so I can continue to live here legally. I am a little bit of a shuttle service tomorrow as well.

Perhaps most important though is to get Pickle to the vet for her check-up as we have finally run out of her tablets. This morning she was reluctant to emerge after her long walk last night. This evening she was barking at the door demanding to be walked again. She is strong, energetic, and her hair is growing back. I think that she is probably not quite as well as she thinks she is, but she pulls and runs, charging about like a mad thing when there are any cats. She is certainly improving as long as the weather is warm. And when it isn't? She has found a spot for sunbathing out of any breeze.

Sometimes I am tempted to seek a quieter life, painting and walking, enjoying the lovely area I live in, pulling my head in and disappearing from society. It's almost time to be a hermit again. But my diary keeps filling up. I have agreed to help with an "art for kids" day in the holidays, and am really looking forward to it. I am teaching more, rather than less, over the holidays. The festa season also means more villages wanting artists around to add interest to the evenings, and the calendar is full.

It's not yet midnight, and I am thinking of sleep. But first there are meeting notes to type up... and Nonna must check her favourite blogs :-)

Today I am grateful for clear communication.

16 June 2011

au revoir, not goodbye

The song "Time to Say Goodbye" is on a CD I play quite often. It is beautiful, but poignant.

This morning I said goodbye to the person who frustrated me and prompted my recent "rant" post. Friends, it would seem, can be better friends with a little distance between them. It was quietly sad, that brief railway station farewell. I am still a little unsure why I found it hard to say my good byes.

Now it is time to reflect on all the good things a person brings to our lives. For a while there I saw only the things that bothered me, and not the good.

My problem, it seems (not my words), is that I am looking after myself too well. No, not the vino rosso, the olive oil, the formaggio, or the chocolato. I think it was my independence that was the problem.

So what have I learnt, having another Kiwi renting in the heart of "my" village, sharing some of my interests, meeting my friends?

I am very protective of my community. I guard it jealously. I consider it my own community, although I have no right to do so more than any other new-comer in town. I don't really like sharing "my patch" except with passing tourists. I remember joking with locals when I gained my permesso di soggiorno, telling them that they could now close the doors to other foreigners. Our numbers were complete. Perhaps I wasn't really joking. Our international mix is an interesting one, but we do dilute what is local. I have very mixed feelings about that.

I like my space. I enjoy helping people, but I hate things being taken for granted. I wonder now, do I take too much for granted myself? I hope not. I really appreciate the visitors who wait until I offer them the internet. I will, I do. I know what it is like when travelling without internet access. I love to share, to offer hospitality, but I also need time out, when my space is my own alone. My computer is more personal to me than my handbag!

I know that sometimes I can't manage everything that needs to be done, but I don't always appreciate the good intentions of others. I feel smothered, obligated and irrationally irritated by some kind people, while others have a wonderful way of helping me and they even make me feel OK about asking for help.

Mostly I have learnt just how much silence is important to me. I love my long silences, my contemplative time, my peaceful time. Is it meditation? I don't really know. But companionable silences can give me more pleasure than intense conversation at times.

I have discovered over the past five weeks how strong and assertive I can be. I may not have put out boundaries in a manner that sat well with me, but put them out I certainly did. I surprised myself repeatedly. Now my task is to find a way to maintain those boundaries in a more gentle way, a way that is more how I perceive myself to be.

The word that I chose to contemplate at the beginning of this year was "grace". I still have along way to go before I am comfortable that all my actions are gracious. I suppose another lesson for me has been that complacency is dangerous. The qualities we want to nurture in ourselves need to be remembered and practised, whatever the circumstances. There is nothing kind and gracious in ranting and raving on a public blog. If I need an excuse it is simply that it made me feel better at the time.

Am I too independent? No, I don't think so. I might bite off more than I can chew at times, but (at least for now) I still have my own teeth!

Today I am grateful for the kindnesses offered to me even though I may have resented them at the time.

15 June 2011

peace on earth

(Wednesday morning my time)

Peace on earth is the dream. And peace begins in the home.

Lately I have become stronger in insisting on keeping my space free of negative energy. I have had some awesome visitors come to stay, and they brought with them a sense of calm and at the same time a huge amount of fun. Big hugs to them.

Other guests brought with them a different type of fun and practical, no-nonsense kiwi-ness.

My current house guest has me in fits of laughter over the smallest things. I have known her for 25 years. I had hoped we might become flatmates but a year ago we decided that we couldn't share our space long term. Our times together though are great. We debate the word order of "little tiny" which I insist should be "tiny little" and I justify the argument by citing "great big". We both claim that "small little" is an abomination and should not be tolerated. We find this hilarious... I guess you have to in our space to understand how entertaining this is...

But when other guests come with a different agenda and pull the conversation to places of tragedy, when coarse language is used, when things become too one-sided, I now take a stand and request that in my home the conversation change.

My home is my refuge, it is a place of calm and quiet. It can be a place for intense discussion, for therapy, for debating for change, but is not a place for glorying in miseries, for always finding the down side, for focusing on war instead of peace.

I live in the middle of a battlefield. My home was a German supply depot. But it is now a place of peace, and of calm. To protect my own peace I have had to become strong and assertive.

Yesterday I vented. I had snapped. I interrupted a conversation and I was quite unreasonable. I had tried so hard to be tolerant, but at the end of a long and tiring day I had had enough of being questioned when the conversation had no real purpose and I needed to be asleep. The truth is, the conversation itself wasn't important. Over my nightly cup of tea when our guest had gone I asked my friend what the conversation had really been about. I was aware that my snapping had been unreasonable. She agreed that I had been unreasonable, but she also "took my side". Bless her!

I had snapped when asked who from history I admired most, what person from books or films, from philosophy, from my reading. It was hardly a reason to deliver a rant as I did. Today I will apologise for that, but I don't apologise for defending my feelings or my space.

I guess that particular conversation had been the final straw. Time to take a deep breath, surround myself with calm, and refocus my life.

I woke this morning with this song in my head: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me..." My task today is to get that also into my heart, and continue my life as I need to lead it, able to rise above the interruptions, keeping calm.

It is better to be proactive than reactive. And when I do react, let my actions be considered, gracious and kind.

Today I am grateful for people who understand me.

recently i snapped

Lately I have been a bit snappy. If I am honest, a big bit snappy. It is so foreign to me to lose my rag that I decided to blog about it. I don't like feeling angry. If you name something you have control over it, right?

Lessons for people who don't want to be yelled at:

Don't tell me that I do too much then demand hours of my time.
Don't claim to be an expert and then prove to be a muddler.
Don't tell me how to run my life.
Don't tell me how to drive my car.

Don't claim to be a non-drinker when you drink every day.
Don't claim to be on a diet then eat all the wrong foods.
Don't tell me you go running when you hardly even go walking.

And most of all...
Don't tell me you are single when you really are still married.

Today I am grateful for my female friends.

11 June 2011

la bobbina

Not too long ago I wrote that I was grateful for my reliable car. I am still very grateful for it, but since I wrote that comment I have had to replace the battery, the brake pads, and the "spark plug thingies that they have in modern cars", the bobbina. My car, for whatever reason, has only three of them.

The first one let me down in Tuscany, on hilltop ridges, when travelling with three visitors. The second one let me down one Sunday in Cassino, when not a garage was open. Yesterday I had the third bobbina replaced rather than wait for it to self-destruct on a hillside somewhere.

Interesting, it has been.

In Tuscany, a tourist in need, I fully expected to pay OTT and I did, almost gratefully at the time, just to get my guests safely back home. Tuscany was a mixed bag. The young man with a broken arm who tried to assist me when I rolled the wounded beast into the tiny town late one evening was quite wonderful. He did his best, gave of his time, and refused any compensation for his efforts. He diagnosed the problem but didn't have access to the part I needed. He phoned around, even though it was closing time on a Friday evening, and finally programmed an address into my GPS to get me to VW assistance without driving on the toll roads (where a real break-down would be terribly costly). I made it to another VW service centre a little closer than the one he knew, and paid the price willingly to have the car fixed. Come back in an hour, they said, and charged me accordingly for that privilege.

The second bobbina went only a week later, and the friend of a friend, sensing an opportunity for a new client, looked after me well. He arrived to assist the next day, took the car, then delivered it to my home the following day. He advised getting the third bobbina replaced. (So why didn't he call me and discuss that before he returned the car to me?) He charged a little less than Tuscany, but was well paid for his assistance.

This week I took the car to my trusted garage here. No problem, we will get the part in, they said with a smile. Come back tomorrow morning. I returned the next day to have it replaced and the young man looked under the bonnet and wrote down the part number. Of course I could come back in the afternoon. I did... and it was that lovely smile again and come back in an hour please, the part hasn't arrived yet. No surprise there. I returned two hours later. The charming son of the quietly gentle garage owner popped in the new bobbina right before my eyes. It took him all of 40 seconds, or was it a whole minute? I waited for his dad to disengage himself from another job so I could pay the bill.

No prizes for guessing it right. Exactly half the second bill, and two fifths of the price of the Tuscany repair. Gotta love it, really! I am well looked after in my little hillside village. It's no wonder I don't venture far from it.

Today I am grateful for local living.

9 June 2011


Tonight's walk was a delight. Fireflies, warm weather, balmy conditions, and two happy little dogs.

Piccolina was as happy as any nearly-recovered little dog can be. There were dogs to bark at, cats to chase, rubbish bags to sniff at... and Zacchi was just delighted that Mum and Bonni found enough energy to go walking at the end of a long and tiring day.

I love the fact that at 10.30pm folk are out walking, enjoying the evening, strolling along in groups. OK, so there was only one safety conscious idiot dressed in a bright orange glowing safety vest and carrying a torch, but maybe one day my fashion statement will catch on!

Today I am grateful for Pickle's restored health and energy.

7 June 2011

home again

It's been a long day, an interesting day, and in many ways a fun day. But for travellers who arrived with overweight luggage at check-in it was not so much fun... had they paid the excess instead of repacking their bags the bill would have been close to 2000 euros for the three together. Sooo... there are lots of goodies back here with me, some waiting for another chance to get to NZ, and some heading for my cupboards and studio.

We took over a corner of a restaurant at the airport, and spent so long simply being Kiwis together that as we walked towards check-in one of the group was momentarily surprised to hear Italian spoken around her :-)

So, instead of being home early it was a rather late trip down the autostrada, and now that I have "unwound" from driving I guess I should count my blessings and give thanks for new friends and old friends from here and overseas, and hit the hay to count some sheep.

Kiwi friend who is back here to stay for a couple of weeks has noticed a huge improvement in Pickle, who greeted us with lots of bounce and joy when we arrived home.

Today I am grateful for safe travel.

5 June 2011

peaceful progress

This news item on the BBC webpage is well worth watching for a variety of reasons if you have a few minutes to spare.

It is time I blogged again for Legato, using this news item perhaps, but I have some photographs to crop and write about first.

Today I am also grateful for cultural exchange.

time out

I am enjoying being a blob!

Today, Sunday, I slept in, curled up on a couch at a friend's apartment in Civitavecchia. Life doesn't get much more laid-back than this.

Last night our evening passagiata took us along the waterfront, and we watched the sun go down over the ancient fortress and the transient market stalls.

The meal in a pub well away from the tourists was both good value and good quality, and the chance to do nothing but walk and chat was just what I needed.

I am blogging to stay awake, as this sleepy pace is sooooo tempting! I could just as easily fall asleep again, and siesta time is almost over.

We considered visiting the beautiful medieval town of Tarquinia... but only briefly!

We discussed a walk down to see the infiorata, but if seemed too much like an effort.

Blobbing on the couch won out after less than a minute's deliberation.

My friend has moved from her couch, I guess she has decided to blob elsewhere. I didn't see her go, did my eyes close again? We are supposedly packing up her apartment but...

After a busy time, and stressful events, being a blob rules. Absolutely!

Today I am grateful for a comfortable couch.

2 June 2011

interesting times

Tonight I joined a group of artists who were painting and sculpting in a local restaurant. I had no real idea of what the evening was going to be, other than dinner and art, but the owner of the restaurant asked me to participate and I invited four travelling kiwis to join me.

It turned out to be very interesting, with a range of talented people there. I was tired, so took only a sketch book and did a quick pencil portrait. I didn't realise that the television crew there were actually making a full programme, and so ended up being filmed and interviewed... yes, I had arrived home too late to shower and get glammed up so had no make-up but thankfully had changed into what I hope was appropriate garb.

One of my visitors stood nearby urging me to sketch "to make me famous", and while I am not happy with the result the likeness was convincing enough for the watchers to sound impressed. She has long dark hair and my 6B pencil was not behaving in the manner I hoped, but I guess that is a risk you take when you change pencil brands and don't test them at home.
Conditions were hardly ideal as I didn't pose her or orientate my paper, thinking it was just going to be a quick warm-up sketch. However, it can't have been too bad as the out-of-town artists have invited me to join them again next month.

Today I am grateful for generous and welcoming artists.