Sunday, January 15, 2017

​​Artnotes: Right on the Edge


Uniform, Palazzo Mirto Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12 x 8"   30 x 20cm  195.00

We’re living on via Tavolo Tondo.   Ours is an historic building with a grand pink marble staircase, and deep green painted doors, which we duck to fit through.  Our street is cobbled, and about two doors away lives a family, behind another short door.  The glass is broken from their window and they have a red patterned curtain in its place.  I never see inside, but hear riotous laughter, or bloodcurdling shouting and screaming, from what seems to be at least three children.   Across the narrow street are hooks where they keep their groceries and hang their laundry.  In the evening or early morning I’ve been startled by the father of the family leaning out through the curtain, smoking.  The doorway dips in just enough I can’t see when I am coming up on him, but I can actually feel his warmth and smell his smokiness as I pass by.  It seems too close to speak to him, and I try to allow him, them, some privacy to lead their lives. Palermo is this, right on the edge.



​​Fountain  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12 x 8"  30 x 20cm 175.00


I am glad to be here when there are still Sicilians living here.  I say that because Palermo’s old town has been designated a UNESCO site.  I fear buildings, like ours, which is still pretty funky, but somewhat cleaned up, will all become the dread Airbnb buildings.  Right now, I can still see people’s wash on the clothes line, and men (my age) garnishing a euro for watching someone’s car.  Young people hang out in cafes before school.   There are markets on the street, selling fresh fish and vegetables, but nearly as many selling selfie sticks and iphone covers.  None of them sell long underwear and raincoats, which I REALLY want.  It’s never cold or rainy HERE.


​From the window of the Capella  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  24 x 17"   60 x 40 cm  275.00


We’re having a wonderful time.  It hasn’t been ideal weather, but that’s ok.  We are painting from windows as needed, and use an occasional photo.   When we ducked into an archeological museum, the guards let us bring Harika in.  After she chummed up to them, they let her visit the museum, if we carried her in our arms.   I like being forced inside to listen to one man’s idea of how this chapel, featuring both muqarnas and norman vaulting, was used.  You remember Berlusconi?  he asks me.  Here, sit in this chair and take a picture, it’s perfect.  The Arabo-Normanno roots of Sicily are fascinating.  The smoking man in the doorway has blue eyes.

Beach at Mondello   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12 x 21"   30 x 55cm   275.00



​If you’d like to know more about here, and our trip, visit my artnotesitaly.wordpress.com blog. I give a day-by-day travelogue of what’s doing.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Along the Way


Salon   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"  20 x 50 cm  175.00

I am shivering:  rabbrividendo, or tremante,  in Italian (let me look that up).  I believe the dentist used the rabbrividendo word as I sat in the chair, freezing, yesterday.  He wanted me to hold the cotton between my jaws as the filling hardened up, and my teeth were chattering.

It’s been a cold week here – it was at least 6 below Celsius this morning. Camilla at the cafĂ© said minus eight, but a troubling customer insisted it was only minus six.  Like the difference between frigid temperatures Fairbanks and North Pole (minus 40 or minus 50?)...Some people can be so contrary.   
Anyway, it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.   I find it hard to walk Harika in this weather, but in her sweater she could stay out for an hour.   She eats frozen grass -- green gelato -- and puts on the speed every so often to warm herself up.   When we lived in Branford, Connecticut years ago, she’d run into the sea every morning, and come out bearing icicles.  It isn’t that cold, but it’s plenty cold.




 
    
Harika sketches "in the house" Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/ledger paper   8.5 x 14"  21 x 35 cm   35.00 ea/4 100.00

We are inching ever so slowly toward Palermo, where it isn’t exactly swimming weather, but considerably warmer than here.  10 degrees Celsius warmer, 20 more Fahrenheit.   

Now, I have had to go back and correct “Fahrenheit”, while this computer is busy translating every word into another language.  It has decided my name is hot pot, which makes me laugh every time I see it.   I have to shut off the machine and then turn it back on to get it to stop.  Of course, I’ve googled the issue and it seems to be a glitch in the program, which will hopefully be fixed next update.

Did I tell you about the portrait show we went to in Imola?  Maybe.   During these last two holiday weeks (today is the 12th day of Christmas, and I’ll be happy when those drummers make it over the hill and life resumes), time has flown by.   In any case, it was a wonderful show of portraiture, in painting, drawing, sculpture and digital arts.   It was a free show, put on by a foundation to help the children.  We bought the catalog we liked it so much.

It inspired me to make a sculptured head.  I had clay, and made a rather expressionistic sort of head, half size.  We’ve taken it to the sculpture studio to have it fired.   If it works out, I will make more, to use as hat racks, or otherwise just adorn the house with a happy look.


Bay Southern France (from winter trips past) Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10 x 16"   25 x 40cm   200.00
In Italy, today (6 January)  is the Epiphany, the little Christmas when the Befana (a crone-ish character) leaves children presents in their shoe.   I love her story:   she wasn’t going to be following any “wise men” to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.  Later she saw the error of her ways, takes off after them, gets lost and ends up leaving the gifts for baby Jesus with the other children along the way.  

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

ps.  on our way to Palermo, Sicily tomorrow

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year


​Santa Maria Novella at night  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm 



​Last Golden Apples 2016  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"   30x40cm 

Christmas Lights at Guiglia  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm  

​Pomegranate on the Table  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10 x 20"  25 x 35cm

Golden Fields behind the House  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"  20 x 50cm


While I was in Florence this week, strolling through the Uffizi, I realized that the most fabulous artists were ones with great technical skills, and an ardor for their work/subject burning in their heart.  Modern artists, writers, musicians rarely have that because they divorce themselves from that pain.  I remember a performer-friend who was encouraged on stage to “put his passion aside” and just act.  He sells stair lifts now.  

Some artists were terrifically wild:  just look at the maniacal Caravaggio, drunken F Scott Fitzgerald or pyschedelic Jimi Hendrix.   The “artistic” personality lends itself to the big leap into creative bliss, but it can be hell for those around.    Leaving behind the everyday is not always an easy feat.

As I get older, and wiser, my ardor flags.  Or maybe it’s just my blood pressure medication.  Is it the difference between young love and older love?   As a younger person, the more upset I became with my life, the greater, the further out, my art would carry me.   Instead of crying, I would paint, and all that ARDOR, would emerge on the canvas. 

Sometimes I still get really excited when I paint, but not like in the flush of youth.   I have more control over my painting than I did twenty years ago.  I miss those flights of fancy where the work would be a great surprise, but I have more confidence that if I keep on working on this painting, it will turn out.  I think my work is better now.

In Florence, I visited the absolutely stellar Laurentian Library designed by Michelangelo.   From the stairway onward, you can feel the sensibility of someone who completely understood three-dimensionality.  The library gives way to the collection of manuscripts from the middle ages.   They are among my favorite things.

I like the early Renaissance, when art, sculpture and architecture were just emerging from medieval times:  the “Lippis” paintings of the Annunciation, like Valentines celebrating love, awakening; Piero della Francesco’s portrait of Federigo da Montefeltro, one of my favorite paintings of all times;  and Brunelleschi’s dome. 

They were all so wonderful, and live on 500 years later.  Can you believe that?  Will a 2016 photoshopped image live on?  Will a computer designed building stand as an example in 2500?  Who are the artists of those, anyway? 

I love thinking about what makes art, architecture great.  And it came from the people who created it.

Happy New Year, everybody!   Resolve to be happy.


Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Artnotes: Stockings

Amaryllis  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  20 x 12"  50 x 30cm

Concierge in a past Paris Hallway (memory) Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/panel  12 x 8"  30 x 20cm

​Winter trees at Verucchio (brrr)  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 8"  30 x 20cm

​Wreath from Boughs at Verucchio   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40 cm 
The Stockings

It has gotten really cold here.  No snow, but the temperatures are below freezing.  Our house is warmer than it was, but is still chilly.  The skies are brilliant blue and the sun has a near coral cast.  I want to paint outside, but I need two pair of socks.

We are focusing on our trip to Sicily.  Although it will not be “hot” there, temperatures should be in the 50s (Celsius teens).   I booked our ferry from Naples to Palermo, and paid the downpayment on our apartment.  We are planning some serious painting – I’ve order tons of canvases.  If you would like to join us for a few days of painting, let me know.

My best friend is coming for a few days to search for his Sicilian grandfather’s birth certificate.  I love these kind of adventures and will bring a flashlight to illuminate those dusty church basements. 

I am also thinking about the NEW YEAR!  Hooray, 2017!  I am going to make Artnotes even better:  a real website, easier to sign up for.   I would love to hear any SUGGESTIONS you might have for improvements, and new ideas.

I have actually been writing Artnotes since 1998, and have made very few changes.  My own body has undergone more adjustment.   Now, it seems I was very young when I undertook this lifestyle – in 1993, I was 30-something.   Last week, I signed up for retirement benefits (while there is still something in the US gov’t pot). 

We are awaiting friends for Christmas.  Our tree is up, the mistletoe hung over the door.  We found some fir-tree clippings at Verucchio, where I painted this week, and made wreathes for the big gates out front.  A friend brought a poinsettia and I have an amaryllis.  The Stockings are all that are left to fill.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Headman

 Decorations at Ollie's house   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  14 x 20"  35 x 50cm  BUY

Wreath on our Door  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   20 x 14"  35 x 50cm  BUY

three Holiday prints

   



Harika has been waking me up at 5-something every morning.  I take her out, on the leash, in the dark.   She can’t go out alone because there are nocturnal animals which have been killing the chickens and rabbits.  All the rabbits are dead, and at least a half-dozen chickens are gone (commemorated by piles of feathers).  We’re not sure it’s a fox or a wolf, but in any case, our “salon” dog isn’t equipped to deal with either of them.

Harika races off the porch, down the stairs into the side yard.  There has been very heavy frost these last few days, and grass gelato crunches under my shoes.  It’s slippery.  We run up the side yard.  She sniffs and I look up at the many stars.   It’s perfectly clear these cold mornings.

At Ollie, the beagle’s, house they have the most extraordinary Christmas lights.   It looks as if small green stars are surrounding the house.  I think they are projected.   Once dawn breaks, it is impossible to see them anymore.  They also have a tree and comet decoration.  The comet is a popular motif here, I suspect it represents the “star in the east”.

I love the idea of a star in the East. I’d like to go East this winter, but I think we will be going to Sicily for January and February.   We’ve found a good spot, nearly on the water, within our budget.   We had considered Naples, but the Sicily gig looks nicer, is cheaper, and will likely be warmer.
  
Harika will be close to her home country of Tunisia.   We’ll be in Palermo, and make trips around the island from there.

Our Sicilian friend strongly recommended Catania: “it’s the more oriental part of Sicily”.   It’s always good to have someone in the know.  

One of our classmates last week conveyed that very idea.  From Mali, he wanted to know who was the “Capo Villaggio” here – the Headman, the brains of the neighborhood.  In all the villages of Mali, there was one person who knew everyone.  He was the fellow who knew what apartments were available, what families needed help, or where to find a job.    Our teacher tried to explain how those were elected, more “legal” positions in Italy.   It was a complex subject.


After class, we talked about the need for a Capo Villaggio in our area.  “Maybe that’s why you’re here,” I told him, “to introduce that very idea to Italy”.   




Sunday, December 04, 2016

Artnotes: Note d'Arte

Pilgrim Dinner (boy's table)   Blair Pessemier   12 x 18"  30 x 45 cm  SOLD
Sunset Rocca Malatina   Laurie Fox Pessemier  8 x 17"  20 x 43cm
Carriage House Winsted    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/panel  11 x 14"  28 x 36cm  BUY
First Apartment Paris (memory)   Blair Pessemier  14 x 20"  35 x 50cm  BUY
Sunrise, Rocca Malatina    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10 x 18"  25 x 45 cm  BUY


To get you up to date,   I have hosted Thanksgiving for 20 people at my house (15 “Pilgrims” (immigrants) and 5 “Indians” (born in Italy)); been to the USA and back, eating Chinese food three times in six days with my Dad; descended my A380 flight by a series of stairs, along with 600 or so other passengers; fallen ill with cold/flu (despite a flu shot) and recovered.  It’s been ups and downs, and I am embracing the holiday month with vigor.

To me this is a very beautiful time of the year, when the trees are naked and the skies take on a deep blue cast.  I have not painted so much, but look forward to making wreathes and decorating our Christmas tree.   I have kind of a wild idea to paint pictures of wreathes.  I am feeling the circular-ness of life, with my father at age 89 and my niece and nephews just reaching the age of serious dating.   My hairdresser here is having a baby, and I can see both ends of life around me.  

It is impossible to look at the world and not see the big shift from my 60 year old generation to an entirely new order.   Between Brexit and Trump, today’s vote here in Italy and the election upcoming in France, it is a sweeping of the old and opening of the new.  Or is is more like the older man at the bar said to me?  “this is all just a temporary correction”.   Maybe it's a pause before real change.  I don’t necessarily LIKE all that is going on, but I want to be part of it.   I am seeking 30 year-olds to keep me afresh.   Come and spend a week with us and help us get our heads on straight.  I’ll cook.

The referendum here in Italy is most complicated:  it is a proposal to diminish the number of senators (an originally Latin/Italian word) from 315 (which it had in Roman times) to 100.   Sound good so far?  Well, the rub is that the senators, at least 95 of them, would be appointed by the “government”, and the president gets to choose the other five.  They are not elected, so were there to be a less-than-savory regime, things could get really bad.  And, for the kicker, Prime Minister Renzi has promised to resign if the vote does not pass.  So you have:  a streamlining of government (good); a limitation of the voice of the people (bad); and a new or not new president.  Pundits say if it doesn’t pass Italy could leave the EU. 

We both got two year residency cards here in Italy.  Hip hip hooray!!!   Despite owning a business and living in France for 20 years, we never had more than the right to stay for a single year, and at times that was dicey.   I feel so very welcome (the woman at the Questura really helped make things work out), and we’re thinking we could stay here permanently.    I am writing a daily journal in Italian now. 





Saturday, November 19, 2016

Artnotes: Face to Face


Persimmon Tree   Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  18 x 14"  45 x 35cm  BUY


 Ferrara's Market, New Haven Connecticut (this is one of my favorite ever pics, painted from the car in the parking lot)   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm   BUY

 Talking on the bench   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood   13.5 x 10"  33 x 26cm  BUY
 Going Shopping    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas panel  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm
 Two on a bench with dog   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas    12 x 12"   30 x 30cm
 At the Chess Table in the Park   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm

Embrace   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on wood with frame  10 x 6"  25 x 15cm  

Suddenly, I have so many more hours in the day!  No, it isn’t the dishwasher, and I didn’t get one of those run-around vacuums.   I have gotten off of Facebook.

The precipitating event, in case you can’t guess, was this horrible presidential race (regardless of who won and how you feel about it, we can agree the process leading up was tense and negative).   I was so wound up, I spoke inappropriately on several occasions, and there “it” sits in some file forever.  Anger, on line.  Therefore I quit Facebook, at least until December.   I am much more relaxed, and less distracted.    And lo and behold:  I have more time.

My thoughts are more free.  I have built an Etsy store, which I linked to my blog – go ahead check it out.   I am setting goals once again:  1000 new Artnotes subscribers by the end of the year.   I am thinking about, reflecting on, considering many things.

As in:  I’ve concluded it isn’t how many people like me, it’s how many people I like and do good for.  Because really, even though being loved is wonderful, LOVING is the act that brings one joy.   Harika wags her tail and flirts with the town curmudgeon.  He snarls.  Loving someone, be it your mate, your friend, your daughter, your dog, is the thing that feels good.  We have all had someone who loved us who we didn’t care about: they had the better end of the deal.    And I love many people, in so many different places, from so many different backgrounds, what’s the sense of stressing over those who don’t love me?

I awake with new painting ideas every day (this was a slow painting week, but I am recycling some of my favorite "people" images).   I am trying to get an “ambulante” (itinerant sales) card so we can sell paintings in markets.  I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday for all of my Italian school classmates.

I still think Facebook is ok for others, and I will (or Blair will) continue to post Artnotes there.  It's the same as TV for me, I just can't create a vital dialogue.  It can’t respond, I can’t respond:  we can’t settle anything. 


Speaking of which, Blair and I have been looking at gallery spaces, or perhaps an inexpensive (we will stay in Rocca Malatina, most of the time) in-city ground floor apartment.  Maybe just a temporary rental where we can connect with you face-to-face, cheek-to-cheek, belly-to-belly once again over art and coffee.  

Artnotes: Face to Face


Persimmon Tree   Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  18 x 14"  45 x 35cm



 Ferrara's Market, New Haven Connecticut (this is one of my favorite ever pics, painted from the car in the parking lot)   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm
 Talking on the bench   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood   13.5 x 10"  33 x 26cm
 Going Shopping    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas panel  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm
 Two on a bench with dog   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas    12 x 12"   30 x 30cm
 At the Chess Table in the Park   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm

Embrace   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on wood with frame  10 x 6"  25 x 15cm  

Suddenly, I have so many more hours in the day!  No, it isn’t the dishwasher, and I didn’t get one of those run-around vacuums.   I have gotten off of Facebook.

The precipitating event, in case you can’t guess, was this horrible presidential race (regardless of who won and how you feel about it, we can agree the process leading up was tense and negative).   I was so wound up, I spoke inappropriately on several occasions, and there “it” sits in some file forever.  Anger, on line.  Therefore I quit Facebook, at least until December.   I am much more relaxed, and less distracted.    And lo and behold:  I have more time.

My thoughts are more free.  I have built an Etsy store, which I linked to my blog – go ahead check it out.   I am setting goals once again:  1000 new Artnotes subscribers by the end of the year.   I am thinking about, reflecting on, considering many things.

As in:  I’ve concluded it isn’t how many people like me, it’s how many people I like and do good for.  Because really, even though being loved is wonderful, LOVING is the act that brings one joy.   Harika wags her tail and flirts with the town curmudgeon.  He snarls.  Loving someone, be it your mate, your friend, your daughter, your dog, is the thing that feels good.  We have all had someone who loved us who we didn’t care about: they had the better end of the deal.    And I love many people, in so many different places, from so many different backgrounds, what’s the sense of stressing over those who don’t love me?

I awake with new painting ideas every day (this was a slow painting week, but I am recycling some of my favorite "people" images).   I am trying to get an “ambulante” (itinerant sales) card so we can sell paintings in markets.  I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday for all of my Italian school classmates.

I still think Facebook is ok for others, and I will (or Blair will) continue to post Artnotes there.  It's the same as TV for me, I just can't create a vital dialogue.  It can’t respond, I can’t respond:  we can’t settle anything. 


Speaking of which, Blair and I have been looking at gallery spaces, or perhaps an inexpensive (we will stay in Rocca Malatina, most of the time) in-city ground floor apartment.  Maybe just a temporary rental where we can connect with you face-to-face, cheek-to-cheek, belly-to-belly once again over art and coffee.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Artnotes: Counterpoint

​Leaves on the Window  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/glass  10 x 38"  25 x 96cm

Falling Leaves   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Woodblock/paper  6 x 4"  15 x 10cm

​View Castevetro Vines   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  14 x 20"  35 x 50cm  Sold

​Poplars on the Panaro   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10 x 20"  25 x 50 cm BUY


Tempio Malatestiano  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14 x 20"  35 x 50cm  SOLD


We went to Rimini this week, to see Alberti’s Malatesta Temple and walk off our election upset on the beach.   The Malatesta Temple is an early Renaissance renovation of a 13th century church, with a fresco by Piero della Francesco and blue/white reliefs by Duccio.  The church is remarkably simple, almost Zen, by Renaissance standards.  It may be my favorite piece of Renaissance architecture.

Our trip was to coincide with work on the house, but for the gazillionth time the repair of our leaky French doors in the library was postponed:   too cold this morning for the 70+ year olds’ fingers to work.  Of course, my own 60+ year old fingers don’t always feel good outside in the cold, but I hope I will have the courage and grace to turn over whatever task it is to a younger person when the time comes.

There are a plethora of young, abled-bodied men here who could easily do the job.   We hired one to weather-seal our windows – talked on Monday, job done by Tuesday.  He even cleaned up afterward.   He is the same fellow who helped the traditional woodworker install new windows, but it’s unlikely the local will use him again.  You see, the refugee is black.  “You would let him in your house?” the carpenter asked us.  We swallowed our shock, and replied. 

When people here ask me how we can use “immigrant labor”, I tell them America was built by immigrants, many of them Italian.

I think it is so funny our “Italian” experience has not entirely been with Italians.  Many of our new friends are from Africa, UK, USA, the middle East.   Recent visitors said I should write a book about moving to Italy, the antithesis of Peter Mayle’s  “year in Provence”.    Isn’t it marvelous we live in such a changing world?  And we’re in the thick of it.  

We had British friends over recently, who were talking about middle class and working class. “I am sorry,” I said, “I have no idea what you are talking about.”   They embrace me for my ignorance.  “You Americans are so good in that way,” she said.   And it is true, as Americans are much more class unconscious than the Europeans, despite this week’s sad blip.

The work is being done on the windows as I write.  This truly is the coldest (35F/2C) day of the year, so far, and the windows are completely open.   Blair and I and Harika are hunkered in the downstairs bedroom with an electric heater.  We’ve been out to paint, gone to the new winery in the neighborhood, Terra Quila, bought a dozen bottles.   We’re going to the Liberty show at Reggio Emilia’s Palazzo Magnani this afternoon.

Meanwhile work progresses slowly, the men are pleasant enough, and relaxed.   I bring them cakes and coffee (they don’t drink it).   Tomorrow one of the refugees will come to help me clean and put the house back together.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

Just what we needed...

Butterflies in the Window   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/glass   10 x 38"  25 x 96cm

 Butterflies on canvas   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   10 x 20"  25 x 50 cm
 Cyclamen  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 18  30 x 45 cm  BUY
 Single Butterfly  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas    20 x 14"  50 x 35cm  BUY
 The Band plays on   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10 x 20"  25 x 50cm  BUY
Italian Beach  Blair Pessemier   Oil/canvas  23 x 47  60 x 120cm  BUY

Just what we needed

…a brass band playing Italian songs.   Everyone in the neighborhood turned out, and then some, passing by in cars.  It’s been raining, fog, raining, fog, raining for days and when the clouds parted at 9:00 this morning, I heard the strains of brass instruments. 

The Alpini, our favorite mountain division, turned out in full numbers, wearing their green felt hats with eagle feathers.   The band was in fact from Samone, a neighboring town.   We rushed over to see what was going on. 

The 4 November (I know this is the 6) is some sort of peace and Italian pride day, an excuse to dust off the horns and tight fitting uniforms and have at it.   I have been reading a wonderful book about Italy, sent by a French friend (luckily it’s in English):  The Queen Bee of Tuscany.  It is about Janet Ross the English community settling near Florence, turn of the last century.  It was very revealing, about Italy’s unification, and both world wars from the eyes of expats.

Janet Ross held court outside of Florence, with the likes of Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark.  It inspires me to increase my Sunday lunch events: we’re having one today.  

I am making a squash soup, with chutney accents; boeuf bourguignon;  eggplant involtini; sweet roasted peppers;  roasted potatoes and carrots; fried radicchio;  Blair made apple cake for dessert.  Of course, there’s nuts and cheese and preserved meats.    I wrote the menu on an envelope from a Florida friend who sends me clippings about fun trips in Italy.   I know she’d be happy to know her paper is the source of our dinner menu.

It has been a difficult week with much rain and sickness on my part.  It might have been a reaction to my flu shot, or the fact Harika came home with a bit of recently rough-slaughtered chicken.  Ludovico  is on the warpath, as some nocturnal creature is making dinner of his fowl.  That, in itself, is enough to spoil this former Parisien’s week.  For me, chicken comes from the store.


I dreamt of butterflies and the beach this week, and I suspect Blair has been too.   We’d hope to go to beaches south of Ancona next week, but the influx of Italians displaced by the earthquakes has made a room difficult to find for a fair price.  So Rimini is in our sites.   A day at the beach can make everything OK.