Where have I been?

Thank you to my many followers who’ve asked where I have been!  I’ve been absent from my blog because…

I have spent the last five weeks since I returned from my 3 month sojourn to Italy trying to get back to Italy asap.  I’ve got a bad case of Italy fever and it just never lets up!  It’s a great fever to have and I can’t wait to get back.

But before I can return, there are many hoops I must jump through.  I am really tired from all the jumping I’ve been doing!

Image result for jumping through hoops

I borrowed the image above from Google images (thank you Google), but think of me as the woman with the glasses and briefcase jumping through the hoop held by the barefooted woman who in this case represents the Italian government.

What you don’t see is how hard it is to first of all figure out where the hoops are located!  And then once a hoop is located, there are all kinds of complications before you can even think about jumping through it!  Here’s an image to help you visualize how I’ve been spending the past 5 weeks.


Another blogger has written a post that covers some of my issues.  If you want to go to Italy for longer than three months, here’s a great place to start to understand the process:


I’ll be back subito, I promise!

pink hoops

The 1,000,001st use for olive oil

IMG_3493 IMG_3494

When your baby (Apple laptop) needs the power cord held in a certain position in order to charge!!

Wow, it doesn’t take long to develop a personal relationship with your computer.  And it takes even less time to become acutely aware of the loss of your partner (i.e. computer).

I’ve been kind of running on borrowed time for a while now with my Apple power cord.  I’ve been relying on it everyday, several times a day, sometimes for a long period of time in each use.  That’s every single day for almost 3 months.  The computer has outlasted the cord by a long shot, tg.

I’ve had the flu or a cold or some minor illness for weeks and yesterday wasn’t a good day.  It was pouring rain outdoors as well.  So I thought it was a good day to write (need computer), read a novel and some other print material (need computer), watch some video (film or tv, need computer), or, if I got bored, clean out my photograph files (need computer).  I hate to be obsessive, but did I mention that I needed my computer for all of these projects? Well, I did need it so it bears repeating.

I could tell that my power cord was fraying at the end with the magnetic plug.  So, I started searching for a replacement all around town.

Now, if  you read my blog, you are already familiar with my dissertation on the scarcity of material goods in direct relationship to perceived need of same material goods. In other words, I’ve already ranted about how hard it is to find that relatively special item you need when you are living in Italy.  It doesn’t matter what the special item is, what category it fits, or anything else.  You simply need an item and you are in Italy and the fun is about to begin.

The more you need said item, the harder you will look for it, and consequently, the more rare it becomes.  It’s simple and it’s logical.

So, as I’ve been going about my business while minding my own business but quizzing every person with whom I have any conversation (be it the grocer, the cobbler, the schoolmate [yes, I have schoolmates at my age :-)) ] or a new friend, I’ve gathered intelligence on where to buy replacement Apple power cords.  And here is my finding.  You can’t get there from here.

Before sojourning to bell’ italia several months ago, I obsessively obsessed about what to do if my laptop crashed, or lost a file that I needed, or some other such issue.  Just outside of Florence, where I’d be living while in Europe, there is an Apple store.  Hooray!  My Seattle MacGeniuses and I obsessed together for months before I left as to whether someone at the Florence Apple store would speak English if I made the trip to it. I will say this in praise of Apple stores: they are a pain in the neck to be in but their guides are pretty empathetic by and large.  Your obsession becomes their obsession, at least for the 55 minutes you are working one on one with them.  It makes you feel really heard. Said sarcastically.

And, like any material goods that you covet or actually need in Italy, the Apple store is within sight but unreachable without a lot of expense, time, energy, or any combination thereof. And when you get there, it will be closed for restoration.  Ha ha.

I seem to spend a lot of time falling down rabbit holes. But, I will say this, if you’ve gotta fly through a rabbit hole, there aren’t any prettier than in Italy.  I still maintain that philosophy and I hope I always will. :-))

I want to add something else which is that I planned to study Italian in Italy.  I’d already been studying it for a few months and hoped to become independently independent, relying only on my own Italian and not a go between of some kind while I was living in Italy.

But even I have managed expectations when it comes to explaining technical electronic problems.  I can barely express my issues in English and I doubt I will live long enough–even if I live 100 more years–to express my electronic issues in italiano.  I just don’t think its gonna happen any time soon and thus I really wanted to know that in Italy I could find an English speaker at the Apple store outside of Florence.

We all know that wishing for something is fine as long as you know its a wish and it may not be met.  And that’s what happened with ascertaining that an English speaking genius would be available for me at the Florence Apple Store.  Because after weeks of inquiring and sending and forwarding emails, Seattle Apple reported to me that Florence Apple could not guarantee an English speaking genius.  They could guarantee special assistance if I were blind or deaf, they said, but only if I made advance reservations.  Va bene, good to know.And could we just take a moment to reflect on the irony of Seattle Apple needing weeks and weeks to communicate with Florence Apple about English?  Doesn’t the internet exist for immediacy? You know, like immediate answers and gratification? Or is it just me? Or is it just this particular rabbit hole that started on the West Coast of the US of A and ended in Tuscany? Somehow I just don’t think this is what Steve Jobs or even Bill Gates had in mind when they changed our lives.

OK, so yesterday, raining, cold, dark, sick, sick of being sick, bored, watched some movies, watched some tv, wrote a little, noticed my power was declining on my laptop, screwed around for an hour or more trying different combinations of adapters and converters because at this point I have about 20 options not to mention as many outlets or more in my apartment.  And all this while–and I am no electrician and I jump when a prosecco cork is released so you can imagine how I react when sparks fly noisily from an outlet–I am for some unknowable reason reasoning that it is the power source that is the issue, but not my power cord.

Which is already upside down because as I’ve said I’ve been noticing my power cord was fraying for weeks and I’ve been looking for a replacement. So I don’t know why yesterday I didn’t presume that was the issue at the get go.  Hell no.  That would have been way too easy and no fun at all.

So, I leaned back and thought I’d better enjoy this movie while I can and so I did until the power ran out.  I was operating with a bit of magical thinking which isn’t like me at all.

And it was 10 pm last evening when I hit the panic button because I realized that I had no fricking way to charge my computer.  I got out every damn cord I’ve been lugging around for 3 months: camera cords, iphone cords, you name it cords, and thinking really hard about how you can transfer power from one device to another, which is hilarious if you know me.  Because I can no more understand a computer power cord than I can explain how a car engine works.  And I’m no dummy.

Today I became completely Italianized


Because when I looked outside at this beautiful view from my bedroom…


I thought to myself…I know!…


Let me hang my laundry outside! on the line just below my bedroom window!…


And I did!  I dried my laundry outside my apartment wall for the first time ever.


And that’s when I knew the transformation was complete.

(oh, and p.s., last night I tripped the breaker by running too many modern conveniences in my apartment at one time.  My landlord told me that I became officially Italian when I underwent that particular baptism by experience.  It was all really just too damn funny!)


Yikes, this will give you vertigo!  But I wish you could see and smell how fresh my beautiful laundry is!

Randomly reentering recent remarkable (ha ha not really, just wanted to keep the alliteration going) photographs. But this is a random collection, for sure.


This little beauty, Fiat Cinquecento, in what happens to be in pale yelllow which is one of my favorite colors for this car, needs no introduction.  She is the stuff my dreams are made of!


I don’t think I can ever get over (and I don’t want to anyway) the delight if feel every time I see a lovely small clementine, hand-wrapped in tissue paper! It just makes me happy to see the care given to such a tiny, common, but still lovely, everyday object.


Is this one random enough for you?  It is a handsome print of an elephant that hangs in my loft here in Lucca.  I walk by it several times a day and it makes me smile and remember India.  I love elephants.  I wish they were cared for as well as the delicate clementines wrapped in tissue paper.  Would that they were so lucky.


How I spend some of my days and even some of my evenings.  But,  I don’t work all the time.  And, I don’t even think talking to handsome strangers in a bar (coffee shop here) should be considered homework, let alone work.  I put it in the fun category.


Time does continue to fly, as we are reminded by this hour glass with marble wings on a church monument in Florence.  Not even marble can slow down the flying of time. Carpe diem, people!


I had a lovely Valentine’s Day here in Lucca, thanks for asking! :-))))


Even though I am not at all religious, I still light a candle for certain loved ones lost, whenever I am in a Catholic church, which is actually pretty often.  The churches are repositories of architecture, sculpture, paintings, silver, gold and other objets. This particular day I lit a candle for my mother, my dad, my two grandmothers, and for my too-soon gone sister-in-law Melinda, lost almost two years ago. I feel the sting of her death pretty much daily.  The candles help me and if there is any possibility of such things, I hope they let my family know I am thinking of them.  Even if it doesn’t, it is a nice way to show some love.

Was it worth the wait?

When I was a very young art historian in training, I fell head over heels in love with Italy. I’ve been pulled to Italy by some big magnet within my being pretty much my whole life.  That magnetic pull is not something anyone can see, but everyone who knows me knows I feel.

And one of the objects of my desire has been the experience of walking through the so called Vasari Corridor that begins on an upper level of the Uffizi Gallery, snakes over the Ponte Vecchio, and travels all the way to the Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the Arno.

And while I have known for decades that the Corridor exists and is filled with treasure, and that only the elite and their entourages could access this long above-ground long, long hallway, I was not sure I would ever have the opportunity to view it myself.  I might have had a chance in the early days of my career, when I was a Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for then I had a hand signed letter from the Met’s director, Phillipe de Montebello, which worked pretty much like “open seasame” all around the world back then.

The letter invited anyone I presented it to allow me access for whatever I was asking for in the world of art.  Coming from arguably the most important person in the art world at the time, the French director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, that letter had weight, figuratively as well as literally.  I saw how people reacted to it.  The letter was on thick, hand-made, old world letterstock, with the Met’s letterhead engraved upon it, and a gold seal affixed to it.  That letter allowed me to climb the scaffolding erected for the conservators to clean the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  That is how I can to be 5 inches away from Michelangelo’s “Drunkenness of Noah” panel, an experience I will never forget.

But as I was preparing for this winter, my winter in Italy that I have dreamed of almost all of my life, I discovered that the Vasari Corridor is now more or less open and that one can make a reservation in advance online and then visit.  I have one of those tickets, and I am going there tomorrow, on my birthday.  Happy Birthday to me!

I’ll let you know if it was worth the wait!

Lemon tree, very pretty

“Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”

I honestly didn’t even know I knew these lyrics.***

But, I am a boomer and I inhaled these lyrics while snacking on potato chips, sipping Coca Cola, sitting at our gray formica and chrome table, in our kitchen with the pink refrigerator, wearing my cut-off shorts, and my white Ked “tennis shoes” even though I had yet to play tennis! I had a pixie haircut, was tall for my age and what people referred to as “skinny.”  What I wouldn’t give to be skinny again!

Oh, and I had tanned skin. I am very fair with light eyes and I had to burn the top layer of my skin off in order to tan.  With baby oil and iodine and/or “suntan lotion” that made me burn faster, allegedly.  I am paying for the tanned skin now.

Did you know that Coco Chanel popularized tanning in the 1920s?  Up until then, only the poor were tanned because they had no choice but to work outdoors. But, I digress.

And the memories, such as this memory about lemon tree lyrics, show up unannounced.  It’s kinda crazy.

So, back to the present.

Today, I followed a path into this secret garden.

How can you not go through this arch when given the chance?


And what a reward!

Potted lemon trees bearing lemons.



Oh, and p.s., there was a potted orange tree too. But I don’t know any lyrics or poems about orange trees.

Or, do I?

No, I don’t. What a relief.


And a potted camellia tree/shrub, which wasn’t doing so well, and made me miss Seattle where camellias are blooming beautifully right now.


The light pink camellia blossoms don’t show well in this photo, but they were really not doing well.

Oh, and another p.s., this isn’t really a secret garden.  It is the entryway for the Leather School of Santa Croce. Anyone who has stamina to walk a long way to enter the leather school can see the potted plants and more!

***Will Holt wrote Lemon Tree in the 1950s, basing the tune on a Brazilian folk score arranged by Jose Carlos Burle and made popular by Wilson Simonal. The lyrics compare love to a lemon tree: the tree is pretty, the flower is sweet, but the fruit is impossible to eat.  Hmm.  Interesting.  Thanks to Wikipedia, as usual.

I probably listened to the song on the radio in the late 1950s or 1960s.  My dad always had the radio on in his truck and in our house. I might have heard the version recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, or by The Kingston Trio or any other number of recording artists from the period. In 1965, Trini Lopez’s recorded version of Lemon Tree hit number 20 on the Hot 100 and I probably heard it, and memorized it unknowingly, that year. :-))