Monday, October 10, 2011

It's been a crazy few weeks!

Wow, since I returned from Italy, we've been blowin and gowin' here at the Shady B Ranch.
The band played a gig two days after I got home, and even though I was still jet lagged, it was good
to be back onstage playing music again.  Three weeks without my fiddle or guitar was not easy.
Music has become such an integral part of my life, it is difficult to imagine a day without it.
The very next weekend, the band played again in Corsicana at an old music hall - what fun that was. 

And then I went to Coffee Creek for a bluegrass festival and met the nicest folks in the jams.  So now I'm officially bluegrassed - hooked on it, so to speak.  And you can go somewhere every single weekend and get in a jam somewhere.  These gracious folks are always ready to help teach a new song, or a new chord, or a new lick.  We play till we can't play anymore - sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.
Fortunately Coffee Creek was about 12 miles from the house, so I could come home each evening.  But other events and jams are farther away, and so I found the CUTEST little RV, and purchased it the same day! 

And I took it to Pearl.
Pearl Texas that is.  First saturday of every month, for 20 years or so, the MOST amazing bunch of folks I've ever met in my life.  If it can be helped, I won't miss Pearl.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Venice, Murano, Burano

Because of weird internet service, my blogging has gone out the window, but I'll try to catch up when I get home.  Just a few photos now......Walked around Venice......
Sat in St. Marks Square.
And fed the pigeons.....

Went to the opera......

Went to Murano......
and to Burano......
my favorite:).....

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

foto fantasma (photo ghost)

This is a photo that Linda took of me in the restaurant the other day.  It is an amazing photograph - I think I will try to paint it......

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lunch in Manarola

We decide to hold out for a good lunch in the quiet city of Manarola, and after a train ride from Corniglia, we begin the hike up, searching for the jewel of a restaurant.
Who would know that the Trattoria Billy would be it.

With a view of the sea, five tables max, we sit and begin the feast.  I am enamored with the bottle of balsamic vinegar they place before me.  It is like syrup, and the sweetest I've ever tasted.....

Weirdly, I am attracted to the item on the menu that says fried fish.
I order this with french fries and a salad.  It is all very expensive, but
Oh my.  SO good!  Fresh sardines, shrimp and octopus.  Except for Nona Tatas in Fort Worth, this is the best octopi I have ever had!  And the italian fries are yummy, crisp and delicious.

Kim and Don share two lobsters with spaghetti.  Afterwards we all need to be hosed down. 

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

The trail to Corniglia

Since it is so hot, we decided to try the trail very early on friday morning.  So at 7 am, we took off for Corniglia.  I thought I dressed right, but within a half hour, my pants legs were zipped off.  Thankfully too - since we needed something to wipe the sweat out of our eyes.  It was SOOOOOOO hot and humid I don't think I've ever been that sweaty.  The trail is a difficult one, two hours of steps up and then about aa million steps down.  I'm not sure which is more difficult.  But by the time we arrived at the town, we were out of calories and water.
One thing I realize is this......

I am such a dork.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

first morning in Vernazza.....Due Cappucini por favore

I have to have at least due cappucini each day....that is two a day.....I LOVE italian coffee.
 The barista was laughing at me because I was scooping every last bit of foam out of the cup.  So when she made the second one for me, she happily piled it high.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Dinner with Giuliano

Giauliano works very hard.  Not only does he take care of the lovely apartments he has lovingly made, and rents to tourists, he also works in a restaurant on the piazza at the la spiaggia (beach).  Since it is the last evening he is working, we decide to dine with him and we make a reservation.    Lovely meal.  But I am so sleepy I am like a child falling asleep in my spaghetti. 

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Cinque Giornati nel Vernazza (five days in Vernazza)

We arrived in Vernazza on wednesday afternoon after a fabulous morning in Lucca.   The train trip was NOT uneventful, like everything we do here.   Each day has been a fun filled trip of stories.

I SO hope I can remember them all to share, since we have not been on the internet since wednesday.  It has been nice to be so disconnected, but I want to share this trip with you all, and I want to be able to revisit it again when I am home.  Italy is amazing.

So, the first story, on el treno, hauling our luggage (I thought I packed light).  Kim and Don step onto the train and Kim can't get the door to the car open.  So Don, looks up and points to this handle and says to Lucy(Kimy) - "Pull that"......
SCARED me to death (Scaramuccio)(that is another story) I was JUST about to step onto the train with my luggage when the AIR swooshed out like an explosive gust and my heart skipped a beat.  Of course, Kim and Don opened the door and made a clean getaway, when a man came from the other car and, shaking his head, pulled the handle back into place.  When we finally got on the train, we laughed until we cried.
We arrive in Vernazza after two train changes, and haul our luggage down the steps of the train station to the common area and enlist Kimy to  call Giuliano.  But he is still on his way from Lucca to get his daughter Sophia, so we head up the hill since I know where to go. 
  OH MY GOD it is hot. 

This is the view from our room......

We stow our luggage and go directly to the beach for lunch.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bon Giorno Bicicletta

The bicycle rental opened at 9am, so we were first in line this morning.  The air was cool and breezy.  The sounds of the city had begun hours before and we had already consumed due cappucini and some frutta.  We were off to ride the circle around the city, on top of the wall around Lucca.

So about halfway around, I bravely take my phone and begin to video.......

We check out of Lucca in just a half hour and take a taxi to the train station.  About an hour or less on el treno, we will be in Vernazza, calling Giuliano to check in at the beautiful place we will reside for the next week.

No internet there, so blogging will be sparse, unless we can figure out something - likely we will, if we have to find an internet cafe.
But for now, arivaderci, a domani a presto. (Goodbye, see you soon:)

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day One in Lucca Italia

Today was a one in  a million days.  A dream of a day.  Due cappucini in a local bar with Kim and Don, 3.20 euros, a bit of fruita at the apartamente (79 steps up) and then we rent a bicycle built for four and begin to pedal around the top of the wall.

 I check my phone.  It is a God thing no doubt, because Raluca has called - she is at  our apartment we turn the contraption around and run back to meet her.  This is the first time she and I have seen each other in two years, since we met at the Eurhotel in Firenze.  That is another story for another day:)  She and I were instant friends.  A very brave girl, to come meet strangers in Lucca for the day.  SHE IS a darling.  Our Raluca.  We all decided we want to take her home with us.

While we spent the next 40 minutes bicycling, Raluca went to find just the perfect photo op....And Kim was at the wheel of this bicycle thing, complete with a BELL (she rang it at every SINGLE PERSON that we passed) Kimy Ringy Dingy. We pumped our glutes into shape and it was up hill both ways, as everything in Italy IS.

So, then.  Off to lunch.  You gotta think like this in Italia.  Because if you wait too long, the Italians close everything down and go take a nap somewhere.  And we aren't into naps on this day.  We want FOOD - Italian FOOD and Italian WINE and Italian BEER.

So about two hours later, we walk.  Searching for a garden that Linda saw when we were bicycling on the wall.  Always, a quest is SO much fun.  We went the same circle around and around, each time seeing something different, wonderful having Raluca ask for directions when we got sort of lost.  And finale, we find the palace and the garden and we walk into another sort of paradise.

Later, we return to the apartment to freshen up a little.  Drink a toast of Prosecco to our friendship and to the day, and await a call from Kims friend Anna, who has invited us to dinner in her home with her fiance Fiorenzo.  He is a photographer, like Raluca, and I am so happy for them to meet, for Anna to meet our Raluca, for Raluca to meet our Anna, to celebrate their coming wedding, to have a REAL italian dining experience in a REAL italian kitchen.

  And OH my, we weren't disappointed.  I knew it would be good, but I had no idea it would be CRAVEABLE.  What Fiorenzo called a lasagna, like no lasagna I've ever tasted.  I mean, NOTHING like I've ever tasted.....And he told us how he made it.....I don't know if we can even come close to matching it.  Amazing, thin as paper pasta sheets, light, beautiful cheese, lightest meat sauce, italian cheese, the real thing.  Then a nice rare beef roast, sliced so thin and lovely, with oven roasted potatoes, then a beautiful clean and fresh, crisp green salad.  Grappa. Finito.  Fiorenzo says the only thing that would have made it better was if he could speak english, he would have made us laugh.  Because, in his own words -  he is very funny:)

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Planes trains and automobiles

Finally after two years of plans and a long day of traveling,  we're here!  In Italia!  Mangia! (Let's EAT!)
One car, three planes, a bus, then another bus, a train, and a taxi, and 79 steps.  UP. We are finally here.

And the best part of it all, besides the fact that we are in the heart of Italy, in Lucca, is that our friends, Kim and Don have been here long enough to get settled into our apartment, buy some food and wine, and greet us with all of the above, on the rooftop terrace overlooking the mountains of Tuscany.

  After a few minutes of freshening up - a quick shower, plug in the phone and computer, we sit in the Tuscan sunshine and laugh about the adventures of travelling such a distance.  Our only snafu in the entire day and night was the train trip.  We purchased our train tickets to Lucca from Florence.  And with minutes to spare, found the exact train, (miraculously) and hopped aboard.  After making sure we were on the right train with some kind Italians, we settled in for the short trip.   About a half hour into our trip, the ticket puncher dude came by to punch our ticket.  Well, Linda and I are pie eyed after so many hours travelling and we look at him like he is from Mars.  I dig through my papers and stubs and tickets from the day and keep handing him items -  finally finding just what he is looking for.  He looks at me and ticks, like only an Italian can.  Not good, he says, shaking his head and looking in my direction.  We look at each other and panic.  We think we might be headed in the wrong direction.

But no.  Nothing so terrible.  He ticks again.  And shakes his head.  Like we've done some horrendous wrong.  WHAT?  I'm tired and ready to just be there, and need some grace  and kindness right then.
He says we FORGOT to validate our ticket.  And we look at each other like he just spoke in Martian.  Forgot?  Evidently there is some machine that you have to put your ticket into before you board.  He says, "It a says a it a right a here a in a english a".

But he is going to give us a break.  Instead of taking us to jail, he will only charge us a fine of five euros, but don't a let it a happen again a.   Not to worry.  We've learned our lesson.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Travel Dreams and Nightmares

My travel companion Linda has nice digs.  I decided to stay at her place last night so we could travel to the aeroporto together today.  As comfy cozy and beautiful the guest room is here, I still had those weird travel dreams, or what I would call nightmares.  You know they ones where you run as fast as you can and don't get anywhere, and you really need to get where you are going.  In my dream, at the last minute before the plane boarded, we go to the bathroom, and upon return to the gate, I find that I have left my backpack in the stall.  So I RUN back, and of course it takes me for EVER to get there, and when I do, the bathroom isn't there anymore.  After some searching, I find that it wasn't a bathroom at all, but an employee lounge.  I find my backpack, but upon return to the gate again, I realize my glasses aren't anywhere on my head, so I RUN again, which takes forever again, all the while, realizing we never checked in at the gate, so when I finally DO make it back to the gate, with my glasses, they have given our seats to a couple of stand by travelers, and we miss our flight.  UG-G-G-H-H!

But, it's only a dream.  I'm sure all will go well today, without a hitch.  We'll check our bags, breeze through security, find a place to buy a few euros, and a good place for lunch, and we'll walk on the plane and find our seats have been upgraded to first class......

OK, well, maybe not, but it's a good dream anyway:)......

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Almost Italy!

Getting ready for a trip of such magnitude is a feat within itself.  Especially with animals to care for.  It is SUCH a relief to know that my critters will be well cared for while I am away.  Gracie is staying with her aunt Lean, who will spoil her rotten.  No doubt. I am grateful that I have no worries but that one:)  We have a marvelous house sitter that will care for the chickens and the barn cats, as well as my rose bushes.  She'll reap the bounty from the garden and the hen house each day.  And we will have peace of mind knowing everything is watched over while we are gone. 
Making lists, checking them twice, crossing all items off, last minute things squashed into the suitcase.  It is a great relief not to be rushing all over finishing up on things. 
So, tomorrow!  I'm off on an adventure in Italy!  Stay tuned for two weeks of fun!
And follow  one of my travel buddies blogs too.....ciaotexas.....It's a beautiful blog - they've already started the journey and are in London now!

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Italia Vincolato!

Just 7 days.  I'll be setting foot in Italy again.  The sounds. The colors.  The trains.  The history.  The art. The people.  The language.  The gelato.  The markets.  The wine.  OH! And the food!   There isn't another place like it anywhere. 

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

tea parties and extra sensory perception

My husband says I have esp.  And I think he might be right.  I dream about things that happen within a few days, and have  little glimpses of things that come true.  It isn't profound always, but happens nontheless.  And I think the difference is, that I NOTICE them.  It makes me happy knowing that I am tuned in to it, aware that I'm open to possibilities.

But this isn't about that.  Not really anyway.  The other day I was working in my garden.  In that "zone" that goes away the second you realize you are in it.   It happens when I paint, when I garden, and occasionally, dangerously, when I drive.  While I was happily enthralled with pruning my roses,  my friend Patty popped into my mind.  She was one of those gals in my life that I sort of lost when I moved to the country.  I hadn't see her for at least seven years, and wondered how she was, and what she was doing.
 The very next day, I got a voice mail message from her!  I told Larry about thinking of her the day before, and he said again, "you've got esp".  It has happened quite frequently lately.  And I like to tell him my dreams, because he is a witness to the weird and wonderful reality of them.

I called her back and she invited me to tea!  Along with another gal that was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Fort Worth over 20 years ago.

Patty was one of my clients at first, and then, like a few others in the bunch of customers I had in those days, fast became my friend.  I remember that I was engaged to be married to Mr. Wonderful, ecstatic with life and love and all the possibilities of our future together, and she was a new client.  No doubt enjoying my enthusiasm - it was absolutely contagious and I caught a lot of people up in the wave of happiness.  I remember being overwhelmed by the generous gift she gave us for our wedding, an entire set of our chosen dishes.  I mean, we hadn't been friends for long - maybe a month or so.

That was almost exactly 17 years ago.  As Kermit says, "Time's fun when you are having flies."  It is astounding to me when I think of the time that has passed since then.  She was my client for 8 years after that, until I quit doing nails in 2002 and graduated from college.

I love this photo of me and my dad-e-o when I graduated, so I had to share it........

 Tea at Patty's house is an event.  She spares no expense when it comes to entertaining.  THE consumate hostess with the mostess.  REALLY.  (insert OMG)  I always remembered the parties she put together - we went to quite a few of her gala events, birthday parties, Christmas parties, grand openings, always fabulous food and beautiful surroundings.  I knew it would be a fantastic event, so when she invited, I made arrangements in my schedule to take the day, drive to Fort Worth,  and join in the fun.

It was so wonderful to see Patty!  And Mary Evelyn again!  And I was just sure I had met her friend Jana at some time - though neither one of us could remember.  I just felt like I knew her.  She is a lifetime friend of Patty's and a hairdresser - so we had lots in common.   Mary Evelyn and I met 20 years ago when we worked at Mona's Nail Salon - one of those huge 80's salons with 36 manicurists lined up row after row.  We wore uniforms to work.  Seems a lifetime ago.

We ate and ate, and drank tea with our pinkies up, and ate some more, and laughed and laughed and remembered those days, and laughed some more. It was a three and a half hour tea party.  I didn't want it to end.
We're doing it again.  Life is too short to wait another seven years.  Live. Laugh. Love.

and whether I have esp or not, que sera sera, what will be will be.....

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!