"Everyone knows the more you wear pearls, little by little they become real....And isn't it the same with memories?" - The Madwoman of Chaillot

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just a Perfect Day.....

I wanted to remind myself of this wonderful Fall weather - for when its cold or snowing or raining or even when its too hot and humid (many months from now...)

Fall 2010 has been the best weather I remember in a long time - exactly what I like - weeks on end of 65-80 degrees, sunny, sunny with almost no clouds every day. Beautiful fall color doesn't hurt either... its almost making the transition into winter worth it.

Luckily I work part of the time right by two windows looking out into our neighborhood with a beautiful oak tree right outside... and every day get to drive by gorgeous maple trees on my way to pick up inventory to ship that day. And according to weather.com we can look forward to at least 10 more sunny warm days!!

Cats are enjoying the weather too....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Christmas Past

My little girls - I was telling my cousin about this Christmas picture from Christmas (long) Past and had it up on my computer screen and it made me marvel at how much time has gone by and how those little girls have grown up and become such interesting people. So wanted to share their latest news...

On the right is Katie who will be a doctor in a mere 8 1/2 months. Just yesterday (it seems) at her "white coat ceremony" near the beginning of medical school they were told that they were already 1% a doctor - and now that is more like 85%! She's planning a residency in Urology - surgery was something she didn't even consider at first but I think its a perfect match for her being able to do surgery and medically manage her patients. Its because she works so hard and is so dedicated that she is able to pursue this. I'm amazed, in awe and I suppose a little jealous....

Left side is Colleen who after working with me for 5 years, decided she needed a little more excitement and a lot more challenge and got a job teaching English in a girl's middle school in Yeongcheon City, South Korea.  She left in August and has just started at the school this week.  Wow, I'm amazed, I'm curious about every detail and I'm a little jealous too.... 

In the middle is little Christina who now (as she puts it) "can get into every studio in LA" - but only as far as the reception desk usually... She works for a company that makes promos for TV, movies and video games and ends up doing a lot of deliveries and pick-ups at studios. She finagled her way into the 4th floor outside pool at the Marriott right above the Sony Theater during the Emmy Red Carpet scene so she could watch all the stars arrive and take pictures...  I find what she is into exciting with lots of promise for the future and maybe she'll even attend the Emmy's one day - and pick up an award! She's young, talented, ambitious and in a fun field - jealous of the energy and the determination to make it "in the industry".

Recently I've seen a few posts on Facebook from young moms about their little ones going off to school, or laments about how few years before they will leave for college. Certainly there are days I'd go back to the beach with my three little girls (2nd grade, 1st grade and preschool in this picture) but I'm very happy with who they have turned out to be. I hear from each of them if not every day, every 2-3 days and I treasure that! At the same time, Bill and I do enjoy time to ourselves for awhile - its almost like our early married life, if only we were still in our 20's.... but its time for our girls to be in that part of life and for us to do a lot of watching and feeling proud. 

Chris 22, Katie 26 and Colleen 25

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kindergarten all over again (for Mom)

Colleen left yesterday for Korea - her plane left here at 7AM - by the time she got to Korea it was about 1AM here today. We didn't hear anything from her which should mean that nothing went wrong.... but still its a little bit like waiting for your kindergartner or 1st grader to come home from that first day of school - waiting to hear how it all went and what they were feelling. Sure, she's 26 and has left home for other countries before but somehow this is even more "foreign" and not quite such a sheltered environment as living in a family in Germany during high school.  

I guess the difference from Kindergarten is that she won't be home for 365 days....

Really empty nest though - two are 2000 miles away in Los Angeles and now Colleen is about 6000-8000 frequent flyer miles away.... we're planning to go visit her in a few months!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

younger me

Stting an my desk today, I noticed my husband lounging in bed (about to take a nap). Much younger me (even including 50 year old me) pictured jumping up, running over and leaping on the bed. In reality, 60 year old me thought about it, rose slowly, limped slightly to the bed, and eased myself on it, hoping he would not make any sudden moves that would make my back spasm.... really don't need those memories of younger me sometimes...  I remember my mom (at about age 60) suddenly seeming like an "old woman" in how she walked and acted and I hated it, thinking she just was acting that way on purpose. What it was, I realize, is that I did not want her to be old and I hated the reminder. She must have too.... so mom, if you can somehow see this, sorry for those thoughts!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Colleen's new Phantom of the Opera costumes

Colleen recently finished some new Phantom of the Opera costumes - see more at loettchen.livejournal.com

The Red Death she wore to Convergence, a convention where the focus was on villains.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Timeless place

Something about being here just peels away the years. Sitting outside on the lawn I can smell the grass, the sun warming the wood siding, hear the wind in the trees, the quiet lap of the water, the occasional call of loons and I could be 20 years old again waiting until Mom makes dinner or until it's time to go to work at a nearby restaurant. I can even believe that I won't be stiff lying here with my almost 60 yr old body and that when I go to get up it won't be a struggle at all.

Here is the view from where I am, once again young and carefree -

Friday, May 28, 2010

the lake, now summer can arrive

Going up to the lake this weekend. I remember when I was young it was a challenge to get in the water at Memorial Day - because the water was always COLD.... somehow I'm thinking its not so cold this year. But if it is hot, that's ok, its always breezy there and there's always the water and boat rides to cool off, walks in the woods with the dog (who has his flea and tick medication in place!).... and cold is ok too - just good to be there - can't wait, leaving in about an hour or two.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just for posterity

I'm sure you are all sick of hearing about our Italy blog - but going to add the link to this blog so that I have it.... our trip to italy March-April 2010 at http://italy-21days.blogspot.com

Ok, now that is out of the way.

News?  Well, just getting used to being home, getting used to it being almost summer (there was snow on the ground at the end of March when we left), starting some gardening because I felt so bad losing several trees (to the tree trimmers) and got a new toy - my iPad arrived April 30th. Its going to be a great tool for my business - I can take it to our storage facility and do inventory, check orders to see what items we need for that day's shipping - much less paper being printed and sometimes lost before the site is updated! And its a cool toy, e-reader, newsreader, entertainment, facebook updater, etc.... but of COURSE its mostly for business... :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Arrivederci Italia

The airline lounge in Rome used by Delta members is really nice - best food selection I've seen in an airline lounge and actually nicest public bathrooms I saw in Italy. Good thing since we spent about 4 hours there. Some payback for all the trips Bill takes...

Just a couple of the lunch items, earlier it was as nice a breakfast as some hotels serve.

Last meal from Italy - just before arrival in New York we got a second meal on the plane - pizza and gelato and actually they weren't too bad!

We had a wonderful trip and saw so much - but not all of Italy.

Short review of our reflections (written as I sit through hopefully the last hour in Rome's airport):

Lake Como - want to return and hope for better weather, take Chef Moreno's cooking class and ride the ferry the whole length of the lake but would avoid busy season when the town is packed-it was very charming having it more to ourselves

Cinque Terre - would like to go back to La Toretta - I seriously offer this as a wonderful destination for a family adult outing! Would do more hiking of the "five lands" and also would enjoy it more just on the edge of low season

Milan - we were only in the airport and train station (which IS awesome) but will probably not spend time in the city, there are so many pretty cathedrals and nothing else calls to me there.

Florence - really loved this city - Bill says he has seen it, no need to go back, I wouldn't mind spending time here again but not the top of my list. However it is a must see and should have 2 days - tops are Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo, St Reparata (excavated under the Duomo), Uffizi Museum, various other churches, David at the Accademia Gallery, would still like to visit the Medici Palace and older Medici buildings.

Venice - we'd go here again if traveling with others who had not seen it but feel the 3-4 days there that we had was enough. Only wish we'd had time to find the two cat stores that Cristiana told us about (selling cute things for cat lovers, not cats). Our tour guide here was superb and we liked the Doge's Palace tour and the Basilica, loved sitting, eating, listening to orchestras and people watching in St Marks (despite the cost) and the gondola ride was surprisingly nice!

Lucca - it was nice but do not feel a need to return

Pisa - it was pretty but not much there - been there, done that

Rome - we really were fortunate to hit SO many of the great spots if Rome that we probably would not feel the need to return unless for something very special. Thanks Flavio and Laura for the extra "Rome at night" tour! What's worth it there in our opinions - St Peter's, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, Forum, Colliseum, Trevi Fountain, view from Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and pretty much everything we saw - spend 3 days there.

Assisi - I would love to go back and spend a few days in the company of two of my favorite saints - Francis and Claire - the town is immaculate and beautifully restored. I'd like to just spend time and get to know it.

Sorrento - we were tired out, Bill had a cold, and our hotel and view were so awesome, we didn't do everything. Would like to go back and see the Ercolano excavation near Pompeii, Capri, and Amalfi Coast - plus get to the two restaurants that Giusy recommended! (or just go back to the one she took us to)

Still to see someday - Sicily, maybe Sardinia (based on Flavio's description), Turin and Verona if I were already in the area.
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The great safecracking incident

We were packed and ready to leave for the Sorrento train station - went to open the room safe to get passports, etc (including all my pictures on memory cards!). This hotel had pretty large safes, big enough for a laptop. But it was totally unresponsive although it had worked for 4 days just fine. So the girl at the desk came with a bag of keys but none would open it. The maintenance guy came next but no luck - evidently they could not find the master key but in "5 minutes" a technician would be there with another master key. Five minutes Italian time - 40 min later they said "5 minutes". After waiting about an hour in all, he arrived and after some discussion decided it had to be sawed open and asked if there was anything breakable in it! Then we waited 5 min for the guy who would cut it open.

After about an hour and a half, it was open! Punch line is that these are brand new safes and when they called the company in Milan that sold them, their suggestion was to "just have them take the safe with them" - I can just see that at security and passport control... LOL!!

The hotel was great about it though and removed our one room service charge and reduced the last day by 50 euro.

Started out almost 2 hours later than we meant to but the rest was without problems - 25 min walk to the train station, took the Circumvesuviana train to Naples, Eurostar to Rome, Leonardo Express (10 min walk from the ES train), and then through the airport to the hotel shuttle - I was glad to see the hotel room and put down my backpack. We walked around Ostia which is kind of a Rome suburb, normal downtown, not touristy at all. Found a sandwich and beer and went back to bed. Got up early to take 7AM shuttle to the airport only to find our flight delayed for unexplained reasons for 2.5 hours....hoping we will still make our connection in NY - although the airlines said, no worries, once they know the exact time they will take care of any changes needed.... :)

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The final sunrise at Sorrento

Do the kids kicking a soccer ball on the sand know what a beautiful place this is? Or, like my nephew Michael who no longer is awed each time he walks by the Florence Duomo and sees it as "a place to meet up with friends", do they just see this as home, nothing special?

I guess I have snow, ice, the Winter Carnival, the Mall of America, my wonderful family alrhough some have inexplicably left for warmer climates, ocean beaches and palm trees....you know who you are and we'll be visiting soon!

We leave here today around noon for our 4 train oddessey and maybe a hotel van or taxi and one last night near Fiumicuno airport.

We met people we hope to keep up with by email, from Australia, the US, Italy, England, Switzerland. Spent precious time with wonderful family members. And encountered many characters along the way - some stories will show up later...

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Almost done

We decided to be lazy the last day here - my husband definitely needs to be babied when he has a cold and the energy to run and see more pretty places is just not there... So sat in the sun and read Dan Brown's latest book (one of a huge collection of books available in the "living room") - shown below

Out to door

To this ...

Can't complain. Went to the kitchen where they made me hot tea, and a plate of fruit and cookies...

Have only seen the photo below on my tiny phone screen but it's an attempt to do a panoramic shot that the phone merges together - but in the very bright light it was hard to get each picture lined up with the last one. But gives you an idea of why we might just sit here all day...
Tomorrow the local train to Naples, train to Rome Termini station and then to catch a flight early Sunday.

But first another restaurant I'm going to put in at least the top five of the trip -


I had a wonderful pasta dish with buffalo ragu and Bill had a good sausage and potatoes dinner with very good oil & vinegar dressing. Yummy chocolate mousse and chocolate and walnut cake and a very lemony limoncello.

Loved this !!

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First views from the breakfast terrace

Was going to label this day "another old ruin, another pretty church" since we were going to Pompeii and figured we'd seen it all.
Pompeii is amazing. For those who don't know, Pompeii was a thriving commercial port city for several hundred years until Aug 24 in 79AD when nearby Mt Vesuvius blew, burying Pompeii under ash and rock. It was no longer near the sea and undiscovered until the 16th century. Some people escaped but others remained or returned for their belongings and died of the poisonous gasses. Where bodies were found they were able to fill in the spaces where decay had taken place under the ash and debri and get a plaster cast of the people complete with an outline of clothing.

About 2/3 of the site has been excavated so far.

Ok, this is not just another ruin or old building. This is partially at least a picture of a city that just went to sleep one day. Artifacts found in each store or house identified what they were- we can see bakeries, fast food stores, public baths, wool merchants, fish sellers, even the identity of the owners of some houses. It was a town of 20,000 and with such "modern" conviences as running water, sliding doors, reflective pieces in the road to illuminate the road at night, system of weights to regulate and establish standards for weighing. They did run waste water to the streets but they were flushed daily and stones at "crosswalks" allowed people to avoid stepping in the sewer. Baths were taken daily and these people lived to be 80 yrs old if they survived childhood - much like us. Statues found here rival the best of the Renaissance - so much was lost in the dark ages!! Think where we might be had that not intervened.
So two pictures but the best are coming. One point - at the time of the eruption, buildings were all covered with Mable facade and often adorned with paintings and statues - much of this was removed by early scavengers who used the marble for new buildings.

This excursion took us 25 min to walk to the Circumvesuviana train, 15 min wait for the train, 30 min ride, 2 hour tour, maybe an hour more on our own (seeing everything would have taken 6-7 hours), 30 min back and probaby an hour to walk back UP to the hotel including a gelato stop and one for some groceries - we just had wine, cheese, meat and some bruschetta crackers and relaxed watching the sea. Then there were big fireworks in Sorrento - again other camera worked better on that.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sorrento and dinner with Giusy

Views walking to town

Our hotel from below - the dark building with white tip area at the top of picture.

Tuesday night Giusy and her husband and daughter picked us up and drove us to a restaurant where they treated us to a wonderful dinner. First an incredible array of antipasto (appetizers) and then pasta and a wonderful mix of seafood.

I didn't even get all the appetizer plates...

And also dessert - a special cake for Easter and limoncello.
We got some pictures of Capri and the sunset but they are on my other camera so will add later.

Tomorrow Pompeii


After the train ride we weren't too sure just how far up the cliff our hotel was so wanted to take a bus. We walked into Sorrento from the train station to a place recommended by a guide book. Asked a policeman where to catch the bus to via capo and were told a spot, tour guides working in that area told us busses were not running on that road that day and to wait across the street, but no bus came after waiting a long time, so we asked again and were told to wait in the next piazza. Eventually a bus did come on that street! Sorrento was just packed with people on Easter Monday as it was a holiday still for Easter. It turned out the walk was not so bad and now we have been walking back and forth.

Our room hotel and terrace have wonderful views of the Bay of Naples (Mediterranean), Mt Vesuvius, Naples, Sorrento and some snow capped mountains we think are in Slovenia. The best pictures are on my other camera - coming soon.

Monday night we walked to the fishing village right below us and ate at Taverna Azzurra - where the catch of the day is advertised to be mermaid :)
Nearby Capri is the area of the song of the sirens - so lots of Mermaid references.

Really delicious avocado with shrimp and pear

Spaghetti with clams

Fruit de mare - this one was just clams and oysters

Cakes from Easter - we had a selection if these Monday night at the hotel, La Minervetta

Tuesday morning sunrise from our room

Tuesday Bill had come down with a cold so we just walked into Sorrento where we walked around, had lunch at a British pub (there are some British, Irish and German restaurants/bars here)
Below views of the hotel - La Minervetta

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