30 September 2013


I am enjoying some calm in the midst of confusion.

I am playing hooky from housework.

I am in a good space.

The word "lekker" springs to mind. I like that. I like that my life is so rich and varied that when something is not quite the ordinary my mind can grab a word from "nowhere" and slot it into the gap.

I look at what I have fitted into my day, and I am grateful that I am well, mobile, and... well... while lekker is not the most appropriate word to describe how I am, (or is it???) I am grateful that my life is full of occasions where words like lekker ARE appropriate.

On Thursday a good friend came to stay for a while. A great friend, knowing how tired I was, drove me to Fiumicino airport rather than have me sleep-drive.

On Friday (miracles do happen) I received my permesso di soggiorno - I'm legal again for two more years! I also visited my favourite church and the archway with guests. It looks like spring there, with all the growth, not autumn going on winter.

Saturday saw me driving;  I visited the 49 peaceful graves of New Zealand soldiers in the Caserta CWGC cemetery. 49 of the poppies I appropriated/intercepted only last week were placed gently, one by one, in front of each headstone.

Today I was at the back of a crowd at the "re opening" of Cavendish Road. How different it was today, almost 70 years later, the activity so far removed from the silent and stealthy "opening" in 1944.

Tomorrow I have more guests arriving (I'd better clean up after the last ones!) and no doubt I will be back driving again.

But now it is two minutes until pumpkin time. I was going to write a philosophical post, but my eyes are closing rapidly. It has been a long day, but the culprit really was last night... the company was entertaining, the songs were good ones, and the food... ah the food (Indonesian this time, Indian last time), well it was simply lekker!

Today I am grateful for true friends.

25 September 2013

tail end charlie

I did speak at the meeting, towards the end. Now I am thinking, "If only I had spoken earlier" - it seems that I can't get it right! Earlier I had a clear head, and more confidence. Towards the end when it was my slot I had an awful headache, the room was hot, and I was clock-watching to make sure that my two hours of parking had not expired. I hadn't made notes, my head was spinning from following two hours of Italian on diverse topics and from many different speakers, and as time went on I lost my nerve.

The only other nervous person there was my young friend waiting to speak for their association. She, at least, could be nervous in her own language.

I liked to be tail end Charlie at cubs, and often find great pleasure in stepping back and giving way to others. But when it comes to speaking to a room full of Italians all waiting to promote their own causes perhaps I should book an earlier slot to speak.

On reflection, I didn't do what I do before the Legato opening which is really the only other place I have to speak in public. There I make myself calm by reminding myself that I am only the messenger, and the words are important, not the person delivering them. Today I was tired and a bit stressed, and did not prepare myself well. The chairman, when I apologised for my short and hasty delivery later, was kind enough to say that what I said was absolutely clear and there was no problem.

Now to rest, get all coffee'd up, and go to pick up a friend at Fiumicino airport. Tomorrow is always another day... the scary thing is how full it is looking already! It's full house again, and overflow in another apartment. It's a lot of work, but there will be some fun to be had too.

Today I am grateful for safe drivers. 

comfort zones

Sometimes, believing I am doing the right thing, I stick my neck out, say things without too much reflecting, and then go rushing back into my shell because I might have overstepped that invisible mark or have been out of line. It is not new, it is a habit I have.

Last night I tossed and turned, wondering if I had got it all wrong in my happy efforts to help yesterday. I think I did overstep the mark, say things that were unwelcome. But my intentions were good, so why do I beat myself up?

I have to move on.

Today there is a public meeting and forming of committees for May 2014. I will be listening and observing, making lots of notes and only speaking when spoken to.

Is it wrong to wish for more confidence and thicker skin, sometimes?

Today I am grateful for a hot shower.

22 September 2013

a strange little while

I've been feeling a bit discombobulated for a while. It seemed to be a collection of a whole lot of reasons pulling me down, but logic told me that none of them was valid, and even collectively they didn't amount to a fraction of the obstacles I have overcome since moving here in April 2007.

Was it that my flatmate is returning to NZ? She goes back to family, a "real job", an exciting social time in her lovely new Italian shoes, to security. Could that be it? No, I analysed it up and down, inside out. I wouldn't swap places with her at all, no matter how much I wish I were closer to my family.

Was it financial insecurity? It shouldn't be. The only risks I have taken have been well calculated and there is always a plan B. I think I can discount that one.

I felt a downward spiral accelerating, so it was time for some positive action. I remember my father telling me that in times of stress the most important thing is to have your living conditions the best you can, so that you can recharge and deal with the apparent bigger problems. If there is a flood, fix the house before the cowshed even if you need to milk the cows. That kind of thing.

I looked about me. My downstairs apartment is "public". I have a never-ending stream of welcome (but sometimes demanding) guests. Downstairs was looking pretty good. The hot summer had not been kind to the garden but there were no major problems there. But my private space, my studio upstairs, had become a dumping ground. Too hot for sleeping or working when the summer hit 42-43 degrees, dropping only to 31 at night, I had abandoned it and moved downstairs. All the surplus paperwork, ironing, accumulation of objects between guests was waiting in the entrance upstairs. It was no longer my joy to open the door up there. I knew that something had to change, and I think I had worked out what it was.

I spent half a day sorting, tidying, putting things in order. Then I (mostly) moved upstairs again. Upstairs it is light. There are no curtains. I wake with the full moon. I wake as soon as the sun rises. But I wake feeling alive, feeling well, feeling sure that I am where I want to be.

I think that what had happened was that, in offering up my downstairs computer desk to my flatmate and moving myself with computer into the dark cantina, I was not getting enough real light for my health. There is only one window directly into the space (photo below), and another that allows a little light in at the darker, far end.

I don't go out in the sun, and I was accidentally "living" almost underground... in a wonderful space, but with inadequate lighting for my health.

Last night I hosted a dinner party in the central part of the long cantina. It was wonderful. It is a place to share, not to live in alone. The "restored" part of my home is for entertaining, not working, in.
(I momentarily wondered where the table had gone in the photo above. It is reflecting the stone wall!)

(Guests "blotted out" in the programme Paint as I didn't ask permission to share this photo). 

I love my apartments, and enjoy them fully. But as long as I live alone I choose to live in the light.

Today I am grateful for having a choice of places to call home.

19 September 2013

delivered in a green frame

Choosing the frame was difficult.
Orange looked bright and bouncy for the colourful mum of this new baby, but detracted from the letters.
Blue for a boy did nothing for the image.
In the end I opted for a green frame that made the red, orange and yellow bounce off the page and seemed to give better depth to the little image inside the O.
The frame looks insipid in the photo I took rather hastily before I delivered the gift, so I wont post it here. You'll have to believe me that a green frame with a white surround was the best option in the pre-cut frame department of the hardware store.

This is a watercolour. I usually paint these in acrylic using watercolour techniques to start with. I think that is better than a straight watercolour, but this is ok too. The advantage of using acrylics is that as I strengthen colours later the acrylic doesn't move. This time I had to be very careful of my black edges, and I did spoil a few as I deepened or added to background colours. It's always a learning curve...

Today I am grateful for family videos. 

16 September 2013

work in progress

And a puzzle for you.
This is a "baby gift" for a friend.
No cheating, Kris, can you make out the name?

And when you have, you can do the counting... it starts with "One sun..."

Today I am grateful for my personal chef!

while i slept

While I slept (having helped Team NZ win another race by following anxiously on twitter) my youngest daughter ran an ultra marathon up a mountain.

Her running partner writes on Facebook that he got them lost so she actually ran 34 miles on the mountain tracks. I shake my head in wonder. How does she do all she does, and train as well?

I feel a bit like a blob! Thank goodness my children inspire me to move :-) 

Today I am grateful for sports people. 

14 September 2013


Yesterday was rather a "down day". And for some reason I let it get me down. That's not like me.

I felt pushed around, let down, used. Texts were not replied to, so I couldn't make plans. Visitors didn't arrive but didn't let me know that they had changed their plans. Other plans made were not honoured. Another friend seemed to be playing mind-games, games that hurt. And it all happened when I was missing my recent visitors, when I needed an up, not a down.

I took myself to a concert on a hilltop, wonderful music, amazing views. I was up, but I still felt down.

But that was yesterday.

This morning travelling minstrels sang at my door. My flatmate and I enjoyed breakfast together and sensible conversation lifted my spirits. And then in my in-box arrived this post from The Minimalists. I feel much better now.

I know that I am worthy, and that is enough.

Today I am grateful for appropriate words. 

3 September 2013


Thoroughly enjoying being splashed, slobbered on, dribbled on, cuddled and hugged.
Neurotic about insects, mosquitoes, allergies. 
Tonight I am blogging only because I want to be near the baby monitor when I am not on my knees beside the sleep-tent set up on a mattress on the bedroom floor. 

Yes, I am loving my little visitor. The youngest grandie is the first to come to Italy. And at the airport she put her arms out and greeted me with a huge smile, coming into my arms as though it was the most natural thing in the world to do. 

Skype, thank you! I think she recognised her nonna. 

I am now the proud owner of a playpen, a Winnie the Pooh bedcover (for crawling on) and various other things I hadn't needed before. 

It does make you think though, how small the world has become and how easy travel is. There was a time when moving to another country meant not seeing your family again. Now that kind of move really was brave! 

Today I am grateful for family ties. 

1 September 2013

and on and on...

guests, quotes for printing, applications, housework, gardening, applications, guests, repairs, maintenance, improvements, guests, applications, gelato (oops), concert, walking out on concert to focus on applications, bookings, bookings, checking up on bookings, car repairs, sweeping, cleaning, warrant of fitness (the car, not me),

I'm not complaining, I don't want to do less. In fact, I'd love to do more! I just wish that I could replicate myself so that one version was sleeping while the other worked or played!

But somewhere in there I squeezed a couple of hours of "Spanish" fun...

and tomorrow my favourite tenor is performing, so I have a NIGHT OFF from all of the above. I smile and relax at the thought of it. Music really does feed the soul!

and then, on Monday...


guess which trio is coming to stay?

Life is good.

Today I am grateful for quotes, bookings and a capable assistant.