25 September 2012


I love my rich and varied life, and when I watch an inspirational video such as this one, "The Life of an Artist", I am inspired to love it even more!  If you have a spare 8 minutes, artist or not, invest it in watching this short video.

I have a few more chores to do and things to sort and maybe I can be back in the next few days with some photos from the last few - very rewarding - days.

Passion for what you do is what makes life worth living.

Today I am grateful for my patient little dogs. 

22 September 2012

busy times

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. So much to say, so little time to process the ideas.

I am just in from cleaning the area where Zacchi and Pickle sleep. Unfortunately it is below my neighbour's kitchen window and there is a supply of cigarette butts, lemon halves and a bit of other rubbish that comes my way far too regularly.  I went out to attack the mess, pulling on rubber gloves as I exited the door. Two little doggies fled... Zacchi down into the garden, and Pickle into Zacchi's open and easily accessible house.  As I reached for the second glove Piccolina did a very swift shift into her own house, thinking that she couldn't be seen or reached behind her curtain.

Their reaction was so predictable I was almost waiting for it, but this time they had nothing to fear.  It was not bathtime, treatment time, look for ticks time... not even brush time.  Just cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

When guests come I have the slightly embarassing task of explaining that the buckets of wine bottles down below are not actually my weekly output, but a collection of bottles left by visitors happy to find a perfectly acceptable quality wine at less than 2 euros a bottle. I am saving these to build a wall around my property.  Not a glass one like these in this link, but simply to recycle the bottles inside a cement and wire casing to add some bulk to what would otherwise be a terribly expensive project.

While it is frustrating not being able to develop this place at the speed I would like, I do like having the time to reflect on all the options available to me.

My wall would be "faced" with split stone up near the house, more or less matching my wonderful folly, my steps down into the garden. Further down the terraces can simply have concrete and the occasional rock showing, as I will plant more ficchi d'India there for extra security and lots of fruit. (prickly pear).

I feel the urge to write a serious post on some of the issues I have been reading about and posting on FB.  Maybe that will come later, for now I have more domestic things to attend to.  This post is simply to check in, and I wanted to save the link to the recycled housing, particularly as it mentions the wonderful public loo in Kawakawa, New Zealand, designed by Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. That's always a compulsory stop for me, whether mother nature decrees it or not!

Today I am grateful for

20 September 2012

it's raining again...

It's raining again, but so far there is no water in the cantina.  I really think it only happens when there are rivers running past the door, and so far (it's midnight and I am just home, glass slippers intact) it is merely wet, not a raging torrent, outside my door.  But if it pours, seeps and leaks, guess who will be back at the Comune tomorrow?

I am just home from a rather international birthday party.  I enjoyed it, and even followed conversations that seemed to be faster than I have ever heard before.  But I did take time out from concentrating on the language, and focused on those wonderful shoes. If only I too could wear spindly heels 8 inches high, covered in sparkles or spangles, on elegant limbs clad in sexy clothing.  But I respect my spine far too much, so it is clod-hoppers for me.  Sigh...

I also learned that the glamorous women there like to shop in London for brands that you can't get in Italy... I guess I just missed out on the shopping genes (and jeans) and have to accept that I am who I am, and comfort suits me best.  Sigh again...

Redbands and swanni, anyone?

Today I am grateful for an invitation.

17 September 2012

an interesting dilemma

This fascinating story is too good not to share.  It's about the (once thought extinct) stick insect on an "island" off the coast of Australia.

Make sure you watch the hatching video too.  Amazing!

And for a heart-warming story about an injured eagle and its new prosthetic click here.

Today I am grateful for my lawyer's help re the water problem. 

15 September 2012

from oooh to aaah

How green everything has become.  There's always an up side! (The view from the kitchen door).

Today I am also grateful for coffee. 

the alphabet from aitch to oooh

 Don't worry, the keyboard was unplugged safely.  I do know about water and electricity, I just didn't know how far in the water was going to come!

The water seeped through more places than before.  It is definitely rain/storm water and not water coming out of the mountain, because the mountain has been dry for months.

Today I am grateful for mop, bucket.and a sense of adventure.

12 September 2012

finiculi finicula...

At ten past one tomorrow morning (that is, in about two hours) I will be collecting a friend from the station.  Tomorrow morning at 10 to 8 I will be heading back to the station with another friend.  I need a finicular between casa mia and la stazione.

I am relocating upstairs again, as it is now cool enough to sleep in my favourite bed where no visitors are allowed.  As I cleaned out the room I am vacating in preparation for the new visitor I discovered...

wait for it...

in the bedside table drawer is

ANOTHER chocolate stash!

It almost makes you want to sing

It's no wonder people have suggested I have lost some weight! I've gone off wine and I can't remember where I hide the chocolate!

However, there's plenty of time, with a cuppa, before that train arrives, to devour a few calories!

Today I am grateful for lost things found. 

bits 'n' bobs

Little turtle number two arrived six days after her brother.  I wonder if number three will hatch too?  Why is it that you can tell the sex of a tiny tiny turtle as soon as it is born, but kittens can keep it a secret for at least six weeks?

Tiny mosquitoes are far more evil and disruptive to sleep than big noisy ones.

The weather is glorious, my kind of temperature! Sleeveless, sandals, but cool enough for a blanket at night and shoes occasionally. The rain has already transformed the brown hills.

Please excuse any long silences on the blog, I have much to do in the next couple of weeks, visitors and painting.  I am going to have to locate the off button on the computer more often.

Last night I worked on three more fig paintings, but purely as exercises, they wont be masterpieces!

Isn't it just as well we don't know what is around the corner for us? The secret is to approach that corner with optimism rather than fear.

This morning my 14 year old student told me that I am too optimistic, and a little pessimism and cynicism would serve me better.  He is obviously not a foreigner living in this contradictory land - optimism is essential for survival!

Today I am grateful for students of all shapes, sizes and temperaments.

9 September 2012

bluebirds fly

After our long hot summer we have been treated to a week of rainbows.  This one was last week, photograph taken from the valley looking back to Castello and Monte Asprano.

Rainbows to me represent change.  Somewhere, over the rainbow? And yes, I do own some red shoes, somewhere, and a scruffy little dog :-)

A complete rainbow like this is a tying up of loose ends, a sign that something is complete.  I like this.  It helps me to clarify quite a few things, and it fits with some of the things that have been happening in my life.  I stopped well clear of the intersection, so I am not at a crossroad.  I have already moved on.

I have, a little whimsically, been trying to work out some meaning for the roadside marker which just happens to be in the middle of the picture.  I like metaphor, and this will have meaning if I just give it time.  Does the "pothole" in front of the marker also have meaning?

Today I am grateful for interesting new friendships. 


I moved something in my "pantry" and there, neatly tucked in with cooking ingredients, was the stash of chocolate I couldn't find some time ago.

I knew I hadn't eaten it, Jackerd!   Ye of little faith...

Today I am grateful for ethical products. 

7 September 2012

new to the world and to me

I had a few nights away, and in my ensuite was a strange item ignored by the cleaner and obviously forgotten when I was allotted my room.  I guessed that the slightly irregular and rough coated objects on coarse sand with pen markings on them were eggs, but I didn't know what type, until, on the third morning, one had flipped over and something had begun its great escape.

I had politely not mentioned my strange nocturnal company to my forgetful friend previously, but I thought I should now.

A phonecall to a young boy gave me the instructions... get those squeezy things for eyebrows and break the shell into little pieces.  

OK, guess what was not in my hand bag?  So I did this much with my longish fingernails.  

And when I returned a few hours later, I found this little rascal quite animated and looking for mum and dad.  

I left him where he was to await expert help, but I did take out some celebratory lettuce and shared the good news with ma and pa...each one at least the size of my fist or more.

Today I am grateful for new experiences.

luckily the air is fresh and free

I am waiting for a student to arrive, and I think he has forgotten it is Friday or forgotten to let me know that he isn't coming.  Yesterday I had to cancel a painting lesson because I was late back from Rome airport.  Here's hoping I can teach one of them tomorrow as it has been a lean week and other commitments have meant no painting either.

Last week I had a conversation about how, to my Italian friends, I seemed to "live on air".  On a weekly basis I am very frugal, and I have chosen this life style.  (I could always return to NZ and look for "a real job"). I don't think living frugally hurts me, and hopefully the planet is that tiny bit better for it.  But when I do splash out, it is not cheap.  Air tickets and dentist bills can't really be negotiated too much, and I don't think I can trade paintings for dentistry... not yet, anyway!

But, as they say, luckily the air is free, and today it is even a fresh offering, and there is plenty of food in the cupboards.  If the weather keeps cooling off I might even be inspired to cook a meal some day soon!

This week I have been reviewing my financial situation, and wondering what is a realistic budget for 2013.  Balancing NZ and Italian needs takes some careful fine tuning. Yesterday I spoke with someone about a commission I had previously had to turn down when my wrist was too bad.  I hope she gets back to me.  Later today I have to find the courage to investigate another fresco on a ceiling; my love of a challenge has been somewhat dampened by the realities of working at uncomfortable angles up in the heat on scaffolding.  I have left that potential client dangling for too long, so I must at least go and look at the job.

This morning I read a press release (and prologue) for a book written by an American lawyer who traded her busy life to seek the Italian dream.  She got as far as picking grapes for long, painful hours as she struggled to survive.  I guess I am lucky that my day jobs bring me creative satisfaction! Look out for At Least You're in Tuscany being released soon by Gemelli Press. It looks as though it will be delightful :-)

Enough computer, I have some work to do!

Today I am grateful for fresh air and watery sunshine. 

4 September 2012

it occurred to me

It occurred to me as I tipped the contents of my handbag out onto my bed that you can read a lot into the contents of a woman's hand bag.

Curious?  I am sure you wont guess anything "right", but this is what was in there:

One very large torch
Two cans of sardines
One camera in a Chinese bag
Two cell phones
Two umbrellas
One Scottish wallet
Two packs of tissues
Several business cards
One pen
Insect repellent
One pair of knickers
Hand sanitizer
20 Euros "lost" in the depths
One hair tie
Sticking plaster.

It's no wonder it was getting heavy.  Also no wonder that I couldn't find my lipstick or toothbrush this morning.

Today I am grateful for long arms. 

another concert

When the forecast is for rain you just move the entire orchestra into a nearby church - so far it is four concerts and three different churches, with one concert still to come. I waited to hear the soprano, who was superb, and then left to do other things.  It was an evening when many obligations clashed, and I was dashing from one place to another, bringing pizza to one, eating it with another, then refusing more pizza when I called in on the group I had turned down for "pizza and gelato".  

Under other circumstances I would have loved the concert, but my head was full of many things and I was more than a little angry at the world.  It was best to leave early and not endure the heat.  

Today I am grateful for supportive friends.

3 September 2012

but by mid afternoon...

All is well in paradise!

or (a few hours later)

Or one could simply move house!  (Zacchi? Who is Zacchi?)

they said it would rain...

so I made some curtains... 
but as you can see, the rain wasn't much and the roof is quite dry! 

Dear Uncle Ross, 
Can you come back and do another house make-over please? 
I think I've messed up the winter insulation now, oops! 
Love, Piccolina 

Today I am grateful for the rain that we did get. 

2 September 2012

recycling blog

Note to self: come back and read this blog.

Some brilliant ideas, love the tyre table!

and a blog blog... 

for my absent friend, I missed you there tonight

so I took a leaf from your book, closed my eyes, and floated away on the music...

A golden flute for Feijoa (sorry I don't know the flautist's name) 

For my incredulous friend, yes, the kids are still out at concerts at 11pm, growing up with the best of music and not knowing how privileged they are.  I am still torn between finding them a distraction and marvelling at how lucky they are.  This little one directly in front of me was perfectly behaved, and the one behind the music stand was as well behaved as an energetic little one could be, although rather distracting at times.

 I'm becoming used to seeing golden flutes (and I do think they sound sweeter) but this one was silver... the performance was outstanding, the finish was sensational, although it was not really my prefered type of music.

And somewhere in this picture is Tania Di Giorgio again, singing my favourite O Mio Babbino Caro (Oh My Beloved Father).  Despite the rather sad story behind the song, it never fails to lift me to a wonderful space!

Today I am grateful for my wonderful life here in Italy.  

1 September 2012

enough rain for a rainbow

But as yet not enough rain for the trees and gardens.  

Today I am grateful for clear air.