Sunday, December 04, 2016

Artnotes: Note d'Arte

Pilgrim Dinner (boy's table)   Blair Pessemier   12 x 18"  30 x 45 cm
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
First Apartment Paris (memory)   Blair Pessemier  14 x 20"  35 x 50cm
Sunrise, Rocca Malatina    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10 x 18"  25 x 45 cm


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.  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Artnotes: The World

 Lucca at Dusk   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14 x 18"  35 x 45cm  BUY
 Coffee in the Square  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  11 x 14"  27 x 35cm  BUY

 Autumn Hills   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  20 x 20”  50 x 50cm
Piazza Amphitheater Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  15 x 18"  38 x 46cm   BUY

Artnotes:  The World  

“I am going to be in Lucca, Italy on the 27 of October, can we meet there?”
Lucca is about 2 and a half hours from us – there are a couple of routes possible:  as the crow flies over the mountains (the roads look like spaghetti), or to Bologna and a bit more than an hour on the highway.  We drove the Bologna way in the fog.   A friend beckoned.

Blair has always wanted to go to Lucca, and I always want to go ANYWHERE.  It was beyond our expectations.   Lucca has an important claim to fame:  a medieval wall, which was rejuvenated with trees and plantings by Napoleon’s sister, completely surrounds the city.    We walked a bit around the 3.5 kilometer route (Harika wouldn’t go all the way), and putting the pup into the mobile unit, we walked around the fabulous city.   Churches, of course, and marvelous Renaissance buildings abounded.      For us, another key element was the second century Roman amphitheater that had been renovated in the 19th century to serve as a marketplace:   we sat down and painted.

We met our friend later than anticipated, so we had time to make a couple of paintings in the square.   It wasn’t an unobstructed view because there was a world-wide Comics convention taking place this weekend (“yes, we have parking”, the hotel clerk said, “but I’ll take you to an outer lot – there will be 250,000 people here tomorrow and you’ll never get out of the center).   The city was quiet on Thursday night – we met up at an outdoor cafĂ© with K and five other of his friends.

Before you knew it, we were all friends.   We didn’t necessarily have common interests, but we were all what I refer to as “DO-ers”.  One man was a film maker and his wife raised money for alternate energy: the German woman explained difficult subjects through cartoons, her husband was a musician (Lucca is Puccini’s city, by the way) – we all worked passionately at what we loved.   Our friend has a vitamin company – which encourages people to do what they are compelled to do in life.  The group was in Italy interviewing individuals who lived with passion.
We drove back on the spaghetti roads – past Pistoia and up through the hills.  We had Italian class on Friday night.  I also needed time to process all the input I get.

On the way to Italian lessons with the refugees, the sky is a cold pink, the trees a dark mass with red and orange touches.  The refugees, particularly the men, only look to the future, which is why I think I like them so much.  They are spending their first winter in very cold northern Italy and we are bringing them wood we bought last year, but never used.    

Our class this week has been about planning a trip to the countries we come from.   Blair took us to San Francisco last night, and Tairo took us to Mali the class before.   Friends are bringing Indian food to our table on Saturday, and I think, what a world!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Waiting for Chutney

 Cyclamen on the porch    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acryilc/canvas   14 x 20"  35 x 50cm  BUY

 Quinces in a black bowl   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas 15 x 18"  38 x 46cm SOLD

 ​Fall Scene on Glass Window   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/glass 10 x 38"    25 x 96cm  

Saturday in Venice    Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10 x 12"  25 x 30cm  BUY

Waiting for Chutney

Quinces are a beautiful, aromatic fruit, but what to do with them?  I am making a quince and pear chutney as we speak, an amalgamation of various recipes.  No onion, a little salt (will that inhibit the gelling process?), raisins, ginger, basalmic vinegar.  We’ll see.  My general feeling is that if it smells good, and you let it settle for a few weeks, it will be delicious.

I painted three times this week – slightly larger works for me.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday rushed by.  I painted on a window -- we had windows replaced in our corridor.  I know, nobody lives in the corridor, but our landlady and the carpenter decided that would help keep the heat in, and it can’t hurt.   We convinced the carpenter to use the help of one of our classmates at Italian lessons – the carpenter could never have done it without him.      

I have always lived with immigrants around me:  my own grandmother came from Poland.  When I moved to Seattle, there were many Asian immigrants, and waves of Vietnamese were arriving about the time I did.   Blair and I frequented “A Little Bit of Saigon” almost all the time that we lived in Seattle.  The best prices on clams and pork were at the store next door, and we ate Durian fruit (looks like a football with spikes, custard-y inside).  One of our first dates was at Chiyoko’s Japanese restaurant, where Blair spilled miso soup in his lap and I laughed.  Then I knew we could get along.  When we moved to Paris, there were Tunisian grocers, who were always friendly.  Our favorite Tunisian merchant, ultimately, was Omar at the Tourne Bouchon.  I still miss him, and the Algerian flatbread seller in the Tuesday/Friday Raspail market.  But there are many new immigrants here, for whom I am grateful.  I am not the only  outsider.  

Harika is an immigrant.  Blair and I are sort of immigrants ourselves.  We moved to Paris in 1993, and have only lived in the USA four years since then.   Our status in Italy, is “elective resident”, which is different from people who MUST stay here.  We’re used to the place now, and couldn’t imagine any other.   We’re hoping to a get a two year visa on 31 October.

I added some cardamom, nutmeg, lemon, cloves.   They all come from someplace else (well, not the lemon).   The house smells like Christmas.  I put all the chutney into six jars, and wait six weeks for the result.



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Artnotes: the Whole Magic Show

 ​Cat (from the archives)  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  13 x 16  33 x 40 cmn  SOLD

 ​The White Rabbit    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   12 x 16"  30 x 40cm 

The Way Out   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10 x 14"  25 x 35cm

The Top Hat   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 12"  40 x 30cm   BUY

The Whole Magic Show

A Greek-Cypriot-Brit who we worked with in London would say:  catching the rabbit isn’t so difficult, it’s holding onto him that’s the thing.  This was an analogy for finding work and keeping it, as well as commentary on his early life in Cyprus.  This was the case with Ludovico and the white rabbit: he had him by the scruff of the neck, and tried to stabilize his legs.  Luckily, we got the fellow down to the grassy part of our yard, and boom, the cage was placed over him.

I really wanted to paint the rabbits.  I’d hoped to paint a large canvas of a group of rabbits, but based on this experience with one, it seems I might have to depend on photos.    Ludovico, our caretaker, has many rabbits, but the idea of all of them in the yard is impossible.   I think they must know their ultimate fate, and routinely plan an escape.   The chickens, on the other hand, run free, and miraculously stay out of the road. 

We’ve been having a casual show of paintings here at our house.  It’s an excuse to get together with people we know, eat cookies, drink prosecco (THIS is the best one I have ever had), and sell a painting or two.    We had a dozen guests on Saturday, and plan on more today.

The Castagna (Chestnut) festival is going on today in Rocca Malatina.  Chestnuts are significant here:  they were the staple of a farmer’s food before the turn of the last century.   Most farmers worked the land on behalf of their landlords, and were required to surrender 70% of their production.  So when little vegetables were left for them, chestnuts became their bread.    It wasn’t until after World War II that things changed:  farmers went into town to work, and farms, at least here, were less common. 

We live in the “working” part of Italy.   Ceramics, cars (Ferrari) and motorcycles (Ducati)  are made within 50 kilometers of us.   It makes for a fairly happy population who have enough money to buy a painting from time to time.  I do a lot of work here, too: now that summer is finished, I’ve been sewing (a new hat) and putting up fruit and vegetables.  I’ve learned more about how to fire my terra cotta figures, thanks to a woman who came to our show.   

Someone asked me if I get nervous having people come to the “mostra”…  I had to think about it for a minute, because I used to go bananas with anxiety when we had a vernissage in Paris.  Here is more like just inviting people in – it is a much easier crowd.   And friends bring their friends – which greatly increase the chances someone will relate to my paintings.   There are many people who like my work, because they like me, or like Blair’s work because he really captures the feeling of Modena or a Paris waiter.  But it is a rare and special situation when my heart, my work, touches someone else’s heart.   I had that happen yesterday, and am thrilled to the core.





Sunday, October 09, 2016

Artnotes: Harvest

Monte Corone  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24   30 x 60 cm
Sassi Painting Workshop  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  14 x 60   35 x 40cm  BUY
Monte Corone  October 8     Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 17.5   30 x 45 cm
Painting from il Faro    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 17.5   30 x 45 cm
Painting October Workshop   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30 cm
Pear Tree   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  17.5 x 14"  45 x 35cm

Apples   Laurie  Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10 x 14  25 x 35 cm   BUY

Apples on a gold tray   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvs  12 x 9.5"  30 x 24cm  BUY


Harvest

 The Hurricane of Guests has lifted!  at last I can breathe a sigh of relief and start to harvest all the input.

I had some great guests these past two weeks:  a painter from Alaska, a group of four from New England, and three from the Washington, DC area.  We ate a couple of times at the Acqua Solferoso, a local restaurant chock full of marvelous, homemade food.   Large tables with families surround, and one can’t help but feel loved.   It almost feels like church to me, eating all around, visiting, smiling, laughing, praising life – but without the unsolicited advice.    

We have our share of churches here, which dot the Italian countryside like gas stations in America.   We peeked in the chapel at the Sassi, visited the 10th century Pieve di Trebbio, and actually attended a mass at the parish at Rocca Malatina.    We went to the church at St. Petronius (5 October is his feast day, a holiday in Bologna), the patron saint of Bologna.  

On the recommendation of our Italian teacher, we saw the best ever attraction in Bologna:  Il Compianto de Niccola dell’Arca (otherwise known as the screaming Maries).  It is a sculpture of the Lamentation, executed in Terra Cotta, the preferred sculpting medium this side of Italy.  The multi-character work of art was created in the late 1460s, but its power gives it an almost contemporary quality.  It was shockingly wonderful, deserving an entire article written about it, and the brilliant sculptor.

We have increased our exposure to the Italian language by signing up for “Italian for Foreigners” classes in Vignola.   We went to a mostly Italian-speaking dinner last night.  I thank all the people who put up with my halting, sometimes stalling, conversation.  We are “getting there”.

That said, we picked up six boxes of book donations this week for the English Language Lending Library I am launching at our house.  We advertised (free) for book donation on AngloInfo, an internet expat publication, and drove the 50 minutes south of Florence to pick them up (if you have any books you’d like to donate, here or in the US, please contact me).  Books range from classics like PG Wodehouse to Doris Lessing.   A box of maps were among the lot.

We are socked in by fog today, and I am picking through the forgotten details overlooked in favor of the guests.  Amazingly, I enjoy doing things in my house:  cleaning, primping, arranging.  I formerly hated to clean my house.  I haven’t stopped drinking or quit any bad habits, found religion or lost weight.  I have just started to like home.