Saturday, January 31, 2009


Hubby woke up in the middle of the night with the worst intestinal pain ever. At first we thought it was the curried shrimp I had made for dinner (the best I have ever eaten--secret to be revealed in another blog) but since I felt fine hours later we eliminated food poisoning. This morning the agony continues along with the expected results (pushing fluids in and out) and a 100 degree fever. It is the flu, probably caught on the plane flight back from Hawaii. So instead of being worried about food poisoning for myself I am now worried about getting a nasty case of the 'epizootic.' I cancelled the promised babysitting, and I immediately made some fudge from a mix I had on the shelf, added some pecans and tiny marshmallows and when it finished setting I slowly ate two pieces. If I am going to get sick, I want to make sure that these calories are not wasted! (And, yes, we both got our flu shots--clearly immunized against the wrong strain.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Who moved the ladder?

(Click on photo for larger view)

If you read my other blog, as I am sure many people cannot resist doing in their free time, you will notice I lately have become a bit of a bird fanatic watching the changing bird species as they visit the feeders just ahead of each weather change. They also seem to be starting their spring color changes. I (they) have been going through a substantial amount of sunflower seed and although there are about 20 birds coming and going at any one time, I was still amazed at how much was being eaten each day.

Then, while looking out the window one cold morning, I saw one of our neighborhood squirrels on the feeder. He was wrapped around the green metal container with his fuzzy face completely buried inside one of the seed openings. The greedy rodent was there for a long time sucking down seeds until I finally threw a grapefruit rind in his general direction from the deck. (Yeah, don't ask.) Anyway, this particular feeder has been with us for more than a decade and proven pretty much squirrel proof, so I was curious about how this little piggy was making it up there.

Waiting patiently I saw him return to the area. He scampered over the sunflower seed shells scattered in the snow and jumped to a nearby very small oak tree (5 feet in height) between our two feeders. He would scramble part way up the tree and then fly expertly as if he was a weightless kite to the side of the feeder where his clawed grip (what a yoga move!) allowed him to stick like tar to the feeder and begin his gluttony once again.

I will be honest by saying that I feel everything has its place in nature but I do consider squirrels to be rats with fuzzy tails and am less empathetic to their pursuit of happiness in nature's grand scheme.

The very next day we went out and cut down that little oak tree and that left the squirrels to forage for the seeds that fall to the ground. A short time later I was watching through the dining nook window and saw one of the squirrels scurrying back and forth over the seeds on the ground. He then scampered to the left to the exact place where the tiny oak tree had once reached for the sun and looked up to the sky clearly looking for the missing tree trunk. He returned back beneath the feeder and then back again to where the tree had once been maybe more carefully measuring his pace this second time. He stood on his back legs and looked up for that familiar tree trunk. It was most interesting and funny to watch. I could just imagine him counting one hop, two hops, three hops in his head and then wondering as he stared into space how he could miss an entire tree. Hubby says that they memorize the forest and thus are able to fly from place to place so quickly.

Later I saw him on top of a distant tree stump eating what looked like the berries of the greenbriar vine. Certainly getting better antioxidants than he would with sunflower seeds and maybe reducing the spread of this thorny weed. This expert yoga master was captured in the photo above sitting on a dead tree stump and possibly surveying the feeders below and perhaps planning his next strategic move.

The game is on!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #21 --- Wardrobe

While I am not a style maven and many people who know me will agree, I do think the praise over Michelle Obama's inaugural wardrobe is a bit hyped. I tend to like sophistication and simplicity or drama and elegance for wardrobe selection on important occasions. Jackie Kennedy represented the first and Nancy Reagen the second. I think the tremendous support for Obama is giving Michelle a bit of a pass with their praise in her wardrobe. I am not awed by what she wore. (But none of this is important in the grand scheme of things anyway.)

I haven't ridden a horse since I was 11 and yet I seem to be enthral
led by cowboy boots. They are practical and comfortable...but expensive. I got these beauties for Christmas and have worn them twice. In second photo Xman must have one of my wardrobe genes as he stole these from his grandfather who also has not ridden a horse for decades.

I wish I would have had this outfit below, when my little ones were the age where Mom was still the primary source of sustenance. It is called a h**ter hider and only other mothers know what is going on here. This is my sweet daughter in Williamsburg a year ago.

We have little, if any, snow in our area this year. The weather woman said a few mornings ago that she was going to start a snow-watch. She wanted the children who watch the show to put their pajamas on inside-out and backwards and do a little dance before they get into bed each night! I guess that "wardrobe" is an elective subject in getting a meteorology degree. (Since I started this post we have had an icy snow storm plummet the area. Who knew that weather women and their junior fan club had that kind of weather-power?)

My 'cruise' wardrobe planning is going slowly. What does a white...really white...elderly woman wear on a 4-day cruise? I frequently wish I had Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility . I do not want to hide how I look, but how cool would that be for taking photos of everyone?

Another of my holiday gifts was lounge wear. I got tired of hanging out in faded sweats and yesterday wore a holiday gift --- a lovely soft pink velvet outfit...pants, shell, and hooded jacket around the house. I was doing laundry, cooking, and most importantly keeping a warm fire going in the evening. By bedtime as I changed into nightwear, I realized that I would have been better off wearing the faded and stained sweats. Housework is not for sissies.

In my twenties I wore 5-inch heels, in my thirties I graduated to 4-inch heels, my forties 3-inch and my fifties 2-inch heels. Today I wear comfortable bedroom slippers in the cool weather and go barefoot in warm weather and it seems that one's feet stretch when not routinely confined in shells of leather. I have learned that my feet do ache when wearing some shoes in my closet when I head into the city. Lately I don't get my bra on until midday...from what I have learned about shoes.,this does not bode well for the future. (Not that I need a bra !)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Habitual Carelessness

Retirement has been a wonderful gift for which I am daily thankful. I have good health and reasonable economic security, neither of which I take lightly, as I know like everything else in life, both of these will change over time. My life today has been the result of planning, learning, hard work, but mostly luck. I am lucky to be born in this great country. I was lucky to be able to go to college and pursue a career. I am lucky to have two beautiful and healthy grandchildren and two wonderful children. I am lucky to be married to a patient but energetic man. I was lucky enough to never win the lottery or some contest which would be a true burden in this simple life I now have.

Thus, I do carry some guilt with me as I do not think I have 'earned' this.

I carry some more guilt because I have not yet ventured out to share this time in a structured way with others who are not so lucky in this new community where I live. I am guilty because I do not feel lonely for being able to go for days at a time without meeting or talking to anyone, especially when my husband is on travel. I could so easily be a hermit.

I think this temporary withdrawal is because I was so bitter about the mediocrity and falseness of my last 5 years of employment. I was paid very well by the American taxpayer and not allowed to accomplish anything. I worked with people who created budgets that were never implemented and listed goals and milestones that could not be met without a fixed budget which we never got. It was a Dilbert world without the humor. (Our illustrious leader was a political appointee...need I say more?) Thus, I retired early taking a cut in retirement income. As a Type A, the alternative would have been slitting my wrists.

Perhaps, this procrastination now is because I feel as if I still have wounds to lick and a mind to heal.

But I have also learned that all those times I used to tell myself, "Once I get some free time..." have arrived. "Once I have more free time" I will exercise every day...not happening. I will sew those curtains after the New Year...fabric is still sitting in a plastic bag. I will paint the front room built-in so that it matches the trim...guess I will wait until spring so I can open the windows. I will repaint the trim in the kitchen so that it matches the cabinets...ditto. I will start with babysteps and drop by the local library and see if they need a volunteer or have a list of volunteer programs...soon I hope. I will garden more...that one is easy to do.

It is scary how easy it is to procrastinate especially when there are no immediately seen consequences for your bad habits.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #20 --- Being Thilly

The recent time spent with my grandchildren helps me keep my perspective as I age.
  • When the first grandchild was born, my daughter asked what I wanted to be called...grannie? grandma? I said nonna which is an Italian way of saying grandma. Xman's version as he learned to talk converted this to Neeeena. My new granddaughter struggles with pronouncing nonna---now neeena--- and calls me nana. I feel like a fruit.
  • My daughter's in-laws wanted to be called Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop and my daughter now says her children do not have grandparents.
  • Sha, my granddaughter, was fighting a cold and some intestinal issues during the visit. When her mother said one afternoon, "Oh no, there she blows!" this meant one of two things, neither of which I will detail.
  • Sha spent many minutes each day with her nose pressed to the window to watch the birds at the feeder. That window now looks like some abstract art as it is covered in snot.
  • My daughter and I could only exchange short sentences due to toddler interruptions and got very good in talking in code as we tried to have adult conversations throughout the long weekend.
  • I continue to find little things as I clean the empty sippy cup, a little ball, a lego piece and I have to take a deep breath so that I don't tear up.
  • The place at the foot of my bed where Xman's portable bed goes when he visits seems very bare after he leaves. I am just getting used to sleeping without the night light.
  • While putting on Xman's shoes for his departure I said that winter was very cold outside but I was sad we have not had any real snow yet. He took my face in his two little hands, brought his face close to mine, and looked me in the eye and said "You have to be patient, Neena. It will snow."

  • Chocolate cake works every time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Gene Pool

When this little gal was born all her elders played that familiar guessing game of who she took after. Many of us agreed that she looked very much like her paternal grandfather who is a handsome, sometimes funny, and usually simple and conservative man. But I am of the opinion that looks don't count for everything and children frequently become a blend of their elders good and bad characteristics. Therefore, I sometimes look for something of myself in her eager personality and activities.

My daughter took the photos below while I was playing a game with my grandson. As you can see, the gardener in me seems to have inspired the gardener in her. I am hoping this is a sign of the future where we can plant and cut flowers, grow and taste the freshest of vegetables, and perhaps, create little garden rooms of imagination and fantasy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Big Event

The past few days have been an exciting lead up to one of the most important days in the history of our nation. The BBC is setting aside 5 HOURS for this event, so I do not think it is hyperbole to say it is a very significant time in our history. This is one of the most anticipated inaugurations in our nation's history and also one of the most protected. I will not detail the 3,000 restrictions that are being placed on attendees including carrying nothing larger than a lunch bag to some of the areas. My lovely daughter and her two children are fleeing the area and joining me at the house late Sunday night through Tuesday evening...or perhaps staying until Wednesday morning. She is not going in to work on Monday or Tuesday. Why is this, one might ask?
  • The highway and bridge she takes to get into work will be closed as will every other bridge in the immediate area.
  • The garage beneath her office where she regularly parks, which is about a mile from the Capital, will be closed to the public.
  • Everyone will be forced to take Metro or a bus or walk. (The Metro is a VERY crowded trip on the 4th of July when there are fewer people coming to the city.)
  • The events begin Sunday and go through Tuesday.
  • There will be hundreds of celebrities.
  • They are predicting 4 to 5 million people will attend. It will be miserably cold, so I am predicting about 2 million people.
  • Someone said there will be 5,000 port-a-potties and an 'expert' analysis said that is not near the amount needed. (That should be fun in cold weather.)
  • Every hotel is full and some folks are renting their apartments for $1, son, whose apartment is walking distance from a nearby metro station, considered this but then got cold feet as the day grew closer.
  • There will be great concerts...some free and some requiring tickets.
  • There will be a parade...a very cold parade unless you are marching in it.
  • There will be 10 inaugural balls (and no place to sit at these balls if one wears high heels.)
  • Therefore, even those attending will have to brace themselves for a challenging event. My daughter is afraid she won't make it to work...much less make it home to pick up the kids from day care on those days.
And thus, I will not have the courage to go myself, even though I think it is a big deal. I will raise a glass of bubbly to the big screen TV and wish him a decent first 100 days but not expect more than is realistic in these difficult times. (For a little more inspiration...go here.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life Stories #23--The Mark, the Patsy, the Dupe

Years ago, when I was living in Indonesia, I spent much time discovering many wonderful temples and architectural wonders in this exotic country. One of my very favorite places to visit was the famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur, "a mountain of a thousand statues." When it had been excavated and the jungle cleared by the British governor, Sir Thomas Standford Raffles, the temple was open to theft and destruction over the ensuring years and that can be seen when touring the temple.

After newly arriving in Jogajakarta, and once the rainy season had slowed and the muddy roads had dried, my family and I went to visit this famous temple for the first time. This temple is one of the most visited Buddhist temples by tourists from all over the world, and can be quite crowded most days. There is a narrow initial entry, and as we approached the steps, the ventura effect of the narrower entry with the wave of many tourists caused us to be pushed closer and closer together until we were shoulder to shoulder with many others. There was a young man in front of me assisting a frail elderly woman make her way slowly up the steps. The crowd flowed around me on either side and as I was pushed forward into the couple tried very hard not to knock them to the ground. The elderly woman was barely able to make it up each step and it was impossible for me to get around the pair and so I accepted my fate of inching upwards. People kept pushing me from behind and it took all my energy to just maintain my balance.

Finally we reached the plateau above, and the crowd dispersed and I could breathe again. I pull the canvas bag from off my shoulder where its weight had caused some strain and that was when I notice a clean razor cut in the side small pocket where my wallet of Rupiahs and my International driver's license had been stored. I knew immediately when and how it had happened and did not bother looking for the team of thieves.

Several years later I was vacationing with my husband and children in Spain. We had arrived a few days before in Madrid and were getting an early morning start for a drive to the ancient city of Toledo. Hubby was having some health problem, which I cannot recall, and so we parked the car at the side of a lovely tree-lined street and he walked across to a corner pharmacy. I waited in the rental car with the two little ones in the back seat. The early morning light was lovely and golden as it filtered through the trees. A young and very attractive man stepped out of the nearby alley ahead of the car and leaned against a brick wall and smoked a cigarette enjoying the morning. A middle aged couple, just beyond him up the sidewalk, were sauntering arm and arm towards us lost in each others company. In less than three seconds as they passed the man he had removed the purse from her shoulder. She let out a small scream and tried to hang on, but was too slow in reaction. The man disappeared down the alley with her purse. The couple ran after him, but he evaporated into some well planned escape route. By the time hubby returned to the car with his curative, I had decided to be far more alert the rest of the day.

Again, several more years have passed, and one spring afternoon I had left my work for a meeting in downtown Washington D.C. It was April, the Cherry Blossom Festival was in full swing, the weather was wonderful, and I left my meeting early deciding to play hooky the last hour of the day and walk under the Cherry Blossoms at the end of the Mall. As I crossed the Mall a woman of about 35 approached me. She asked if I knew where the Metro station was. I was slightly suspicious but pointed the way. Then she asked if I knew how much it would cost to go from point A to point B. I told her that they had posted the rates at the station and again started to walk away.

She immediately began to follow me and launched into a long and detailed story of how she had passed out from some illness the night before at a restaurant, had been rushed to the emergency room of a city hospital, had called her sitter that night to watch over her daughter, and had just been released this morning. Her Priest had sat up with her all night and both were relieved when her illness proved to be minor. Her priest had just dropped her off to take a metro home and she realized that she had absolutely no money in her purse. Did I have any dollars to loan her? She had to get home and release her sitter.

I stopped in my tracks and studied this very intelligent face. It was a very compelling story and I cannot replicate the skill with which it was told in this writing. But, even though I knew this was a scam, there was something making it hard for me not to believe her. I took a breath and then looking her in the eye, I told her she should go into acting. She said something to me in response that I cannot write here. But the little Catholic woman had learned some pretty saucy language outside of her church. She stomped away already looking for her next victim. Had she broken into tears, perhaps I would have given some money.

And then just a few years ago I had blogged about this little incident.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Messin' Around

These photos are somewhat degraded as I resized for the blog, but I am having so much fun today with Paint Shop Pro. I have used this software for years, but never really got into some of the nicer features. As I wrote, I have downsized the photos above for blogger. For instance, my son's girlfriend is gone from the photo above. Any photographic detective could see it on the full resolution image, but not your average viewer. (I am not removing her from the photos by the way...just experimenting.) And then the poor photo of the red-bellied woodpecker which I shot through the dining room window (no way I am going outside) has been greatly enhanced. It is not a great shot, but you should have seen the before!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Thoughts # 18 -- Things I Have Learned from Mother Nature

Mother Nature never throws anything away. She always recycles. But, we live in a culture where it is considered good for our society to get rid of the old stuff and make room for the new stuff. This includes housing and so a healthy economy means we build more houses and sell more houses. We buy more stuff and get rid of old stuff. This is good for the economy. When I continue thinking along this path it all looks more and more like a giant pyramid scheme to me.

The old adage about bending like the willow so that you don't break leaves out all the gray nuances in life such as when you bend, and maybe aren't watching, sometimes someone will come along and chop off your head or make you feel as if they have while you are trying to adjust to some major change in your life! (another post)

Some days I don't feel as industrious or energetic as I think I should at this elder age and then I see this:

and realize I have not a clue about industriousness and probably wasn't very high energy when I was younger either, and then I try not to be so hard on myself.

When we first bought this vacant peninsula of land a lovely swan greeted us at the dock as we ate our recently purchased Dunkin Doughnuts' breakfast. I forbade my husband to feed the swan as I didn't want swan poop all over the dock in the future. Today, years later, two lovely swans were cruising near the dock and I handed hubby a slice of stale bread and told him to go down to the dock and feed them. They swam eagerly forward, picked at the stale bread, turned up their noses and swam away. Even in nature fresh ingredients are important.

Having a good group of friends to hang out with and party all night is one honest way to make it through a long cold winter. Boy were they noisy last night!

Below is another less demanding way to pass the gray winter days but I think just as psychologically restorative. (As anal as I have been criticized for being I did not screw the containers together alphabetically!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Invitation

I got this in the mail the other day. It does not mean I am important because anyone who contributed to Obama's campaign probably got one of these. I have gotten invites years ago from Bill and Hillary, but they looked more like invites to a 'party' whereas (note the use of the archaic here) this one looks like an official document, is letter size, card weight and is even embossed.

The odd thing (other than the fact that I am not going) is that this also came along with an ad for a half dozen items I could purchase to remember the important event. Mugs, coins, whatevah. That sort of took away the dignity of the whole thing for me. Having worked with archivists who preserve realia for a living I am not much of a memorabilia collector. Just something more to dust or store.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Nothing like following up a post about losing weight with a post about food. But I actually used a Good Housekeeping recipe (instead of putting it in a notebook for oblivion) the other day for Peruvian Fish Soup. My husband had traveled years ago in Equador and said he had eaten a Peruvian fish stew that was very good and so I had to try this when I found it. It turned out so delish that I am going to share. And, yes, it is relatively healthy and low-calorie.

1TBsp. veg oil
1 med onion chopped
1 Serrano or jalapeno chile (we used two but made sure to remove the seeds)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
2 bottles clam juice (I only had one, but it didn't seem to hurt the flavor)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 lb. red potatoes in 1 inch chunks
2 limes
1 1/2 lbs cod fillet (I had a pound of frozen bass from last summer's catch)
1/2 pound med scallops (bought these on the day --kind of expensive!)
1/2 pound clean squid (I opted out of this ingredient after spending the $$ on scallops)
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro chopped.

This soup was divine and just a little hotter then next day after all the spices mingled. If you want the directions to prepare this ( it take 20 minutes to prepare and about another 30 to cook), let me know in the comments below and I will email you!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pretentious Vanity

It is pretentious for me to hit my sixties and say that I do not care how I look. I have drawers full of cosmetics and face creams and hair goo. If I didn't care how I looked, I would throw all of these out and go plain Jane. I do go plain on most days. Putting on only moisturizer and hair conditioner to keep me from flaking away. Some folks were born into that gene pool of aging gracefully and look just as good without makeup as they do with it. Sissy Spacek comes to mind. She looks 16 and has looked like a teenager her whole life.

I don't care how I look (just stop by for a visit) when I am lounging around the house, when I am cleaning the house, when I am stacking wood, blogging in the early morning or when I am digging a garden bed. I really do not care, because the evidence of my actions excuses my messy looks.

I care just a little how I look when I have gotten through rolling on the floor with a toddler, cooking a rather industrious meal for guests, or changing planes at the airport. I do want a brush through my hair and some lipstick help before I settle into that next plane for hours.

But, I am nervously vain about appearances when I am going on vacation to areas where the climate insures that one does not wear many clothes. All the make-up and hair spray will not make me look healthy in a swimsuit.

Last year we agreed to a Disney Cruise with my daughter and her in-laws this coming April. Yes, a cruise where the majority of passengers are below 3 feet in height. Yes, we agreed to being confined on the ocean on a boat with tiny cabins and hundreds of busy activities run by scary high energy employees in costumes...not my idea of a vacation, especially when you shell out such sums of money for this. But I was determined in my elder years to be more generous in avoiding regrets by failing to do things in life that seemed regrettable and thanked them for remembering us and purchased the tickets.

My appearance concern starts escalating because I will be with a 60-something grandma that has a lovely figure and two nicely built thirty-something females, one of whom used to be a professional cheerleader. You know the type, artificial breasts, straight blond hair and the sweetest little face. I have been trying (without success and empathizing each day with Oprah) to lose about 10 more pounds so that I don't look like a walking light bulb. Yes, a low watt bulb, a dim bulb but a bulb none-the-less. I am a healthy grandma. I am not asking for a 50 pound re-make here, just a little reshaping.

Can I lift 12 pound free weights for 20 reps ? Yes. Can I run a 3 minute mile? Yes. Can I do 80% of that nasty yoga tape before collapsing in a sodden lump on the mat? Yes. Can I do 5 minutes of very intense ab work? Yes. Can I lose more weight around my mid-section? Apparently not.

Last week I avoided the 3 ten-minute miles on the elliptical every other day (YES, dear readers, 3 TEN MINUTE MILES(!)) in favor of an old 'Firm' tape that used to push me to the limit with both weights and aerobics. The d**n thing runs for a full 55 minutes and I was determined to make it through the entire excruciating ordeal at this re-start of a new direction in my weight loss program.

I made it. My form was somewhat sloppy, but I made it to the end of the tape. I was sweating and breathing heavy...but I made it.

The very next day I could barely make it out of bed. That afternoon it felt as if knives had been plunged into my thighs, buttocks and calves. The day following that I took that forest hike I had written about on my other blog and I honestly thought I would DIE from the pain of just walking. The vision of being carried out on a stretcher by two forest rangers did not seem unrealistic. Two more days and some yoga later and I still consider it a torture to go up the stairs to blog in the morning. I still take Aleve when I fall into bed at night. I still have not lost the 10 pounds! Yes I have gained a pound...sure, you can tell me it is muscle, but it didn't land anywhere useful that I can see.

Vanity is a most poisonous sin but it does not eat you from the inside least not so it shows.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Being in the Moment

Honoring my ongoing promise to myself to be more 'in the moment', I fixed a dinner of rosemary lamb chops, garlic and curry roast potatoes, and a healthy baby spinach salad with orange-wedges (from my favorite clementines), thin red onion slices and almonds. The meal was beautiful to look at and in honor of being in the moment I did not rush away to take a picture for the blog. (The picture above was taken on another day with silly glasses that do not match.) I took my time to inhale each captivating smell as I sat down for dinner, and while we do not say grace, I was thankful in my heart and soul and to the powers that be for this meal. I slowly chewed each bite of food and let the flavors linger before swallowing. My husband and I respected the value and precious quality of this meal and the quiet time we had to linger over it.

My husband had made a fresh pitcher of cold green tea and in keeping with the spirit of the moment I brought the glass to my nose to inhale as if it were a fine wine before taking my first sip. The green tea had been enhanced with a sliver of the little kaffir lime that had clung to the tree for months before falling to the floor when I turned the tree in the sun that morning. When I inhaled, the aroma was like a verdant spark. It was lime but not lime. It was like a sweet floral perfume but not heavy or out of place. It was better than even drinking the lovely green tea itself. This gift from the 4 foot citrus plant in a green plastic pot tucked in the corner window was one of the best gifts I got over the holiday season.

I will try to be in the moment more often.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


"Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee, And was the safeguard of the West."
Author: William Wordsworth

The husband has found a new good friend and like puppy dogs they have taken this mild winter day off to do what is shown above. They have driven down south with a boat in tow and will spend the night in a hotel. Thus I have two precious ha
lf days to myself.

In the last few hours I have just finished reading:

and was feeling a little cold and wet like the characters in this mystery that trudged through Venice in search of the murderer during the high water season.

I put on the above music, which was a holiday gift, as I prepared a light and warming lunch and when finished eating I continued my immersion in all things Italian.

As I sat on the couch, I tucked my stockinged feet under me and opened Michael Krondl's "The Taste of Conquest" which is about the "rise and fall of three great cities of spice" and once again found myself back in Venice but at a much earlier time when European involvement in the spice trade flourished. And, of course, the first city he visits is Venice. It appears that Venice began with salt and surprise there and since they cont
rolled the trade sold salt to Italy at an 80% profit.

I visited Venice a number of years ago and it is a city that is overwhelming in its beauty and somewhat frightening in it decadence. It is my understanding that because the city is sinking its population is dwindling. All things change and nothing stays the same.

Well, excuse me, must get back to my reading.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Re-arranging the Furniture

The danger of changing ones blog is like the danger of changing the furniture placement in your house. If your family has been away for a while they can stub their toes as they come inside and then may look around and wonder if they entered the wrong house. Blogs styles become familiar and comfortable to readers but I was getting bored with the Tuscan architecture. Let's see if I can stay happy with this.