Sunday, May 19, 2019

Artnotes: Learning to Read

Civita Castellana Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25  43 x 61cm

Roses on la la  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25  43 x 61cm

Roses on a Gp;d Backgound  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25  43 x 61cm

 Roses on a Blue Backgound  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25  43 x 61cm
 Roses on a Black Backgound  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25  43 x 61cm
 Purple Iris  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 11  41 x 27cm
White Iris  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 11  41 x 27cm

Today I read an entire article in the Repubblica newspaper and understood it.  It sent me back to 1959 in  the first grade and the moment when I really got a grasp on reading.  It was a classic Dick and Jane story, and there was a word I was stymied by:  come.  I remember it was Michael English who sounded it out loud before the class, and corrected what might have been “oh” to “uh”.  And I knew that minute that I could read. 

So it was on the sofa on this rainy Saturday morning that I read an entire article in the newspaper, not needing the dictionary.   The story was about the development of a dry soap that could be used in Africa, where water is premium.   Reading this article, without stopping to look things up, gave me that same feeling I had in the first grade under the tutelage of Mrs. Kilbride (who also had false teeth that once fell completely out of her mouth: shocking).

I went to the dentist this week for a cleaning – it is a remarkable service for just 50 euro, and I know I could go to a cheaper dentist, but I love Dr(s)  Bertacchi.  Massimo, the elder sings to me while he works on my teeth; they gave me a bottle of 100 year old balsamic vinegar; Andrea, the younger dentist, chats me up in English.   When I went yesterday in to make the appointment, the receptionist, who has known me for nearly 4 years, showed no sign of recognition:  “come back at 4”.  She fessed up later she didn’t recognize me because my hair is now white and a little like Andy Warhol’s.

My reading is improving partly because I am studying in order to pass the Italian driver’s test.  I take a timed test online, like on a game show, where if you get the answer wrong you drop down to question one again.    I really like it.  The manual is predictably boring, despite little comments by the writer, “so you think you know what all these signs are?” or “when you were driving with your parents did you notice…”   The “corsia” is for cars and animals, like a horse drawn carriage might appear.  And the manual will point out tricky questions, as if you were being given a test for sanity.   Blair and I will both take the test at some point, and I imagine us both passing.  Then we have to take the physical driving exam, and be approved by a medical doctor that we can still drive.

I went out and took pictures of landscapes in anticipation of this weekend of violent storms.   In fact, painting from photos just never inspires me.  You’ll have to settle for four views of my drowned roses.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Pack Your Bathing Suit

Wild Yellow Iris at Farfa/Tevere   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25"  41 x 63cm 

Window on via Margutta  Blair Pessemier  acrylic/panel  18 x 12"  45 x 30cm

 Fun on the Grass Vescovio  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas panel 10 x 14" 25 x 35cm

Just Kids Vescovio  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvaspanel  12 x 18"  30 x 45cm

Ancient Stone Bench Vescovio  Blair Pessemier  18 x 12"  45 x 30cm

For the first time in twenty years, we are not going to the USA for the summer.  I get a twitch in my throat every time I think of Hemlock Lodge without us:  no dinners on the glassed-in porch; no bird mobile; no art show on the porch; no swimming in Highland Lake.  Hemlock Lodge was like deluxe camping, and as long as my father was alive, we could go to his house and take a shower or wait out the rain.  But last summer was more difficult, and Harika will be 12 human years old in less than a month, travel by air for her has never been easy.   

Before you run to fetch your hanky, let me say we are taking a vacation – by car.  We’re heading to the beach in Brittany to see friends, and then spending a couple of weeks in Paris.  We’ll visit the old haunts and find new ones in a different neighborhood.   We’ll make day trips here and there and paint up a storm.

I just read in a sample of a book I am buying:  “one of the gifts of being (an artist) is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore.”  We can travel with a sense of purpose. You can enjoy the results.

We are having the “Ave Maria” show at Vescovio at the moment, ending Sunday.  I must say it has had the most gracious and wonderful visitors, and I feel terrific about the experience.  Vescovio is much more than a church – although it is an ANCIENT church were St. Peter is reputed to have said a mass.  We are situated in a room by the bell tower and monastery, with our own generous and very visible entry.  The room is littered with old statues missing their heads and bits of masonry which toppled from the 10th century church in various earthquakes.  There are several acres of manicured grounds where children play, teenagers pose, parents watch and old folks perch throughout the day.  There is a gelato shop and a restaurant where they cook on an open grille.  A path winds by us to the top of a hill where there are pre-10th century ruins.  Harika likes it.   I feel lucky to be there.

After trying to meditate for many years, I seem to have finally made some headway this week.  Of course, this comes after having a meltdown and realizing I have to get my imagination under control.  I am thankful to the internet for various free introductions, and innumerable youtube videos which inspire.  I hope to die with a greatly evolved brain.

So, right now, we’re packing our bathing suits from Stimigliano to go up to Rocca Malatina.  They had snow there just a week ago, but we will not be daunted.  I am going to build sculptures for my climbing roses, and to foil Ludovico, our gardener.   I will invest in tools.   I’d like a swimming pool but may have to settle for the Panaro River.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Reading in Roma

Elderberry Flower  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  25 x 17"  63 x 41cm 

Seated Buddha   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  17 x 25"  41 x 63cm 

Standing Buddha  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  25 x 17"  63 x 41cm  

Breaking Bread   Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas  32 x 47"  81 x 119cm 

We spent six of the last eight days in Rome:  first, to celebrate Easter with friends from North Carolina; then, for the Show of the 100 Painters, on via Margutta…

We had Easter Sunday Brunch and walked around the Campo di Fiore – Rome is such a feast for the eyes, as well as the stomach.   I am amazed to be walking on ancient cobblestones, and looking at the same Tiber River that Caesar saw.  History abounds, although with broken subways and uncollected garbage, Augustus is rolling in his tomb.

We set up our art show on Tuesday night.  Our stall was a little smaller than the last time, but the good weather throughout allowed us to put our chairs outside the stand.  And there we sat, reading and waiting for customers.

My first book was by Iain Banks:  On Crow Road.  It was a good read, a story loosely based on the religious preferences of a family (the father dies climbing the church, hit by lightning).  It somehow seemed appropriate in this every-so-religious city.  I say that, keeping in mind the Pagan Roman roots and it’s current overwhelming Catholicism:  a Mary on every corner, rivaled only by depictions of Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf; not to mention the 12 gods of Rome.

Simultaneously, I was reading Letters to Poseidon, by Cees Nooteboom.  That’s Neptune (brother of Jupiter, god of Rome) in the Roman scheme of things, and Nooteboom writes him short letters about what goes on in life.  I write letters to my late father, although he was nothing like Poseidon, more like Cupid (in the best sense, a romantic character) maybe, just to express thoughts or experiences that pass by, that nobody else would listen to.  You don’t hear it all in Artnotes, although it might seem so.

The art show progressed at a rather lackluster pace, with minimal sales, and maximum stress.   I did enjoy the parade of passers-by and what they wore.  Some people can look so good, from sparkly socks to cotton sateen skirts in geometric prints.

We rented a little apartment to stay in, on the (currently nonoperational!) subway line, so we could avoid parking charges and the daily 50 minute drive from Stimigliano.  In fact, the place was straight out of the Addams Family, a very dark brown three story house, with boarded up windows, weeds, and a great dane perpetually wandering the grounds.  Our apartment was a former garage, smelling of mildew and  flying ants in the bathroom.  Harika refused to stay there, and she wouldn’t eat at all.  We left after two days, having paid for four, but you know how these things go.  All I can say is “never again abb”.

It did have Internet, as advertised (everything was as listed), and I read a Kindle book by Jon Amdall, Pencils and Process , about taking up drawing again after a lapse.  I recommend to those rekindling their drawing or painting skills.   I read about how bonobos have communal meals, and the importance of “breaking bread” together, for all sorts of animals.  I have been enjoying Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files, who says, “…For me, the search itself is where the action is.”

On 1 May, we had a stellar May Day barbecue with Gianfranco (Garibaldi CaffĂ©) and his friends and family.  Gioia cooked the pasta outdoors, and we ate ribs and lamb and sausage, fresh beans and homemade cheeses:  breaking bread all together.

The real joy of the via Margutta show was not “selling” (or not), but connecting with the various characters along the way.  At the end of five days, I felt like part of the Italian painters club.    Our next show “Ave Maria” starts at Vescovio on Sunday.

Laurie and Blair


Saturday, April 20, 2019


Happy Easter

Forum  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  
Blair Pessemier  Notre Dame (archives)

We had just gone to bed last night (early!) when I heard a woman chanting outside our window.  This was Good Friday, and the parish of Stimigliano was parading the dead Jesus statue around the town.  I had seen the statue, an alarming polychromed slightly-larger-than-lifesize affair, on a black platform, with handles,  in the church earlier in the day.  A statue of the crying Marie in a black robe stood beside.  The church looked beautiful, lit only by  candles.  Mario told us the thing to do was to walk seven times, praying, between the altar and the platform where Jesus lie, to dispel the devil.  I wondered where they kept this particular statue when it wasn’t Good Friday, and how many other “special event” statues there were.

I have always found it difficult to take in the torture/death of Jesus Christ.   It puts me in the mind of how my own mother used to bring me to a purple draped church (statues removed) on this day, and I’d have to kiss the feet of the dead Christ statue.  After a sleepless night, the custom was curtailed.

I am amazed how natural Catholicism is to people in Italy (maybe I shouldn’t be, the Vatican and all).  It is a part of life, not macabre, not commercial, but loving and caring.  Despite years in a Catholic school in America, it never flowed with the life I lived there.  Although religiosity is not something I embrace, I can live alongside it and enjoy it.  I even occasionally participate.

I didn’t feel that way in Paris, despite the many churches.  People didn’t go to church as much as they do in Italy.  Churches were for tourists, or concerts; we went to a funeral at St Sulpice.

I have been missing Paris, and the fire at Notre Dame brought it closer to my attention.  I sold my last Notre Dame image, during the fire, in my Etsy store.  I can’t remember how many times I painted it, with Blair and with painting workshop students, over the twenty years we lived there.   It will be interesting to see what is done in the remake of the church:  so much of it was the result of improvements in the 1800s.  

Blair painted an iconic image of the church, for someone who just died.  I envision the painting at a family “estate sale”, where it sells for 1% of its original value.  What happens to our paintings one day gives me pause to think.   A famous artist who was dying a couple of years ago had a ceremonial bonfire for the unsold and less-than-perfect bits.  I was planning to do that last year with our baseball show, but protestations by others didn’t allow.  $750.00 later, it’s still in the storage locker. 

It’s difficult to donate artwork.  We’ve proposed various arrangements to no avail.  So, I continue to seek new ways to sell it.  My latest idea is to sell “walls” – paintings hung on the wall in an artful way and sold as a lot.  I’ll send you photos of them in two weeks.

Meanwhile, we will be selling with the 100 Pittori on Via Margutta in Rome, the 24,5,6,7 and 28 April.  I hope we see you there!  

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Artnotes: My Country

I wish I had a country because I’d invite all the people who are looking for a safe, happy home to come to me.  I’d let them all work as they’d like.

I would make beauty the ruler by which we measure success, instead of money.  To build a beautiful building, to sweep your stoop, to wear a gay scarf, or to have flowering trees: these are the things that matter.    I’d make lunch every day for people who would like to join me.

It sounds like living “In the Big Rock Candy Mountains”.    I try to create my own oasis; and I can assure you Harika has rubber teeth.   I must stop reading the news.

Since the finish of our artwork, I’ve had post-project depression.  I have really enjoyed putting together the “project” this month, with art from the worlds’ greatest painters*.

Yesterday we had a big dinner at Villa Loris.   It always pulls me out of the dump, trying new recipes and putting flowers on the table.    I hear new ideas – for me, the theatre of the table is equal to, or even better than the meal.   I don’t even have to talk.

We had a delicious red wine from France – only Blair and I drank it, this being Prosecco country – and that did go well with the fish.  But the red wine made me really want to go back to France for a vacation.  In fact, I am slightly obsessed with the idea, and am working towards its realization.
I am also thinking of going to Madrid.  I have never been to the Prado, and Goya has been on my mind.  But that may be a later, cooler weather endeavor.

Mine would be a smallish country, with a lake or two, and some rivers.  Four seasons, even if winter seems a little brutal.  I like trees without leaves, and spring.  There would be an art museum, of course, and a historical society

*Jill Remski, Wendy Goosman, Christine Claes, Tim Fulbright, Cory Ross, Marianne Royale, Laura Jarvis, Lisa McCabe, Outside Authority, Suzanne Dvorak, Jennifer Jolis, Penni Cocking, The Cuozzis, Gary Bocz, Sandra Manning and Tracy, Sarah Gubetta,  Sallie Baldwin, Jeff Sesko, and Blair.


Saturday, March 30, 2019


After Maurice Denis  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10 x 14  25 x 35cm 

Local Venue for our Art Show  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14 x 10  35 x 25cm

Mary in a niche  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  25 x 17  41 x 63cm

possible subscriptions....

The results of our “mosaic” painting have been rolling in, and we have more than ¾ of the squares, which will be assembled this week, in hand.   For those too busy to get it in by the 1 April, please let us know, and we, or some wonderful volunteer, will paint another square.  Things are looking fabulous.

We drove down to Rome this week, with a couple of exciting meetings to attend.  The first, an alumni event at Blair’s architectural school, featured Jason Horowitz, head of the Rome desk for the New York Times.  There were about twenty five people there, and the talk was casual, between him and the crowd.  I was blown over by the sophistication of the Notre Dame journalism students, and I didn’t ask any questions for fear of sounding stupid.  All of my questions were answered, in any case.

I was most pleased by the overall feeling that journalism still had a major place in our lives.  We compared the “tweets” and statements made by politicians for their own greater good, versus the value of putting what was said into a context of current and past events.  There was lots of specific information about Italy, and the Vatican, that rounded out a picture of where I live.   There was a big emphasis on how lacking we are (America, and parts worldwide)  in local news reporting.  Where there were once real reporters in the town where I grew up, there are no longer.  Much of that is the shift from an advertising based news”paper” to a digital edition – the New York Times subscription program seems to be keeping that publication alive and its reporters paid.  It remains to be seen how this will be addressed locally.

Speaking of subscriptions, I am now offering a 4-painting-a-year subscription.  For $550.00 a year, you can have four paintings, by Blair or I (2 each, or you can specify) delivered to your door.  There will be a variety of our work, on canvas, on wood and on paper.  Three of the four pieces will be ready to hang upon arrival, and the fourth piece, on paper, ready to pop into an “off-the-shelf” frame.    I think this is a great way to start an art collection for yourself, or for a friend or loved one.  It can brighten a dorm room or first apartment, or make the converted guestroom into a sophisticated place.  It is possible to specify “colorful” or “neutral” (as neutral as we get). 

As if this stellar evening in Rome wasn’t enough, the next day we went to a luncheon in Rome, where Rebecca Spitzmiller, of Retake Roma, spoke.  She is an incredibly dynamic American woman who started a fight against graffiti and garbage, and general mess in the Eternal City.  Her Grassroots organization , now has 85 chapters in Rome alone, and 40 throughout Italy.  Her drive is inspiring, whether you are troubled by graffiti or not.  It showed me, and everyone else in that room, just what can be done with determination and a couple of friends: don’t take no for an answer.  And it, like the journalism talk, it emphasized LOCAL.
We will be showing my Madonnas very locally, at Vescovio (where St Peter said mass once) in May.  At the end of April, we will be in Rome, again on the via Margutta.  Friends and painters will be joining us up North in the meantime to paint the cherry blossoms.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

In the Car

Wildflowers in Spring   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 25"  41 x 63cm  160.00
We have a new car, yet unnamed, which I think of as horribly bourgeois, and maybe I will call it the Villa Borghese (bourgeois house).  Maybe I am the bourgeois one, ingrate with such a lovely car.  I have some decoupage ideas to take the curse off the white bottom half (I hate white).  

We took the Villa Borghese on its first major ride on Friday, only to discover it is impossible to roll up the driver’s side window, once it is down.  Blair took the ticket at the toll booth and then was unable to close the window.  Some 30 kilometers later there was a turn-off where a man selling socks in the parking lot helped him to close the pneumonia hole.  From then on, we had to open the door at toll booths (only 3), at which time the intensely loud beeper would ring, and Harika would bark, and the peace of our trip to the beach dispelled.

Spring Blossoms  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  20 x 16"  50 x 40cm  

And what a trip it was!  It could have been spread to a week (but who knows when the window will be fixed? that's not villa Borghese).  We drove to Cervia, a town on the Adriatic.  It was a little overly-fixed-up to accommodate vacationing Italian families, but we were able to find an opening onto the beach where Harika and I ran about briefly.  The sand was that lux slippery fine type.  We retreated to the canal by the sea, lined with boats and quite interesting stone buildings.  We ate homemade pasta with little Adriatic clams, and fried mixed seafood.  It was yummy and fun.

Forsythia   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 25"  41 x 63cm  

My destination was actually in Cesena:  the Abbey of Santa Maria del Monte.  It is a monastery (founded in 1001) with a church that houses an incredible collection of ex-voto paintings.  What is ex-voto?  It is an offering to a holy figure who intervened on behalf of the voto maker.  It is usually a painting (although in France once sees ex-voto silver hearts with the flame on top), depicting the event.   There were hundreds of ex-voto on display here, depicting drownings, falls down the stairs, a child with scissors, fires – a riot of disasters:  always with the Madonna del Monte looming (fortunately) overhead.    The amazing thing was there were many from the 1600s.   You could see horse accidents evolve into car accidents (there were some from the twenty first century); the wars; the clothing styles change from the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries.   And all were completely heartfelt.  These were not paintings commissioned by rich patrons, but rather humble depictions made by the hand of the truly grateful.  It is what I strive for in my work:  passion.

Soccer, er Footballl in Rocca Malatina  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/panel  10 x 14"  25 x 35cm  

We met a toothless monk as we strolled the grounds.  I gave him my Madonna book and he gave me a book about the Abbey.   We had to leave to reach our next destination.

At 5PM we would hear Jhumpa Lahiri (one of Blair’s favorite authors) speak in Forli, about her new book.  It was ok, the interviewer and his lackluster questions leaving something to be desired.  JL was an interesting person, Indian by nationality, American by citizenship, writing in Italian, where she “found herself”.  Her new book is “Dove Mi Trovo” (where I find myself).   We were introduced to her writing by “In Other Words”, where she writes, in Italian and English, about learning Italian.

We rolled back home at 8 PM.  We’re not going anyplace today.

the villa Borghese

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Monday, March 18, 2019

Happy Spring!

"it takes generosity to discover the whole through others.   If you realize you are only a violin,  you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert."    -jacques yves Cousteau

I always think it is funny that people believe they were Vincent Van Gogh in a former life, or St. Francis of Assisi.  In fact I was probably just the lamplighter or street sweeper, a nun or a shopkeeper.  We couldn’t all be that person we so admire.  And so it goes, that it takes every little person to make up the living body of nature.

I was out painting at 7:30 Sunday morning:  mimosa against a grey sky.   I rarely am around to see mimosa in bloom. We have no mimosa in the Appenines, but in Stimigliano, just above the valley of the Tiber it is in riotous flower.   I couldn’t identify mimosa in the off-season.

It is spring both in Stimigliano and Rocca Malatina.  Up north, the cherries are already flowering, nearly a month ahead of time.  In Stimigliano, little bursts of white blooms juxtaposition the just-planted wheat fields.  In both places, the brilliant coral-colored quince blossoms are exceptional.  Birds are singing before 6 AM.

This time of year pushes plein-air painting on me once again.  Every year I think, oh, it’s a little too cold, or I can’t stand outside that long, but I am compelled to record what is happening around me.  And somehow I find the energy, the strength.  Renewal.

This Sunday we celebrated my nephew’s 21st birthday – he’s studying philosophy (and food) in Perugia.  On Sunday (my usual artnotes day) we went to Lake Trasimeno and ate fresh water fish at the Trattoria del Pescatore:  pike, bass and carp.  It was a rare treat, both to celebrate youth and to enjoy the lake with all of our five senses.   

As I gather gather together the square pictures twenty-six artists are painting for our mystery art composition, I feel like a conductor of an orchestra.   I like being part of the picture team (at least one square will me mine, another Blair’s).  I feel the time has come for all of us to pull together and welcome spring on planet earth this year.  Spring is the new year, the season of rebirth.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Sifting Through

Tiber   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 24"  40 x 60cm  375.00

I am sure the twenty-one people who signed up to paint a 12 x 12” square for the putting it all together project are wondering where their picture is.  Well, I am still trying to figure out how to cut up the image on the computer.  When I did this, all I had to do was the math and take out a pair of scissors to cut up the large picture.  I am having a heck of a time figuring out how to do it digitally.

It’s been a busy week, with a trip to Carnevale in Venice, and assorted and sundry voyages with my sister and family around the area.   Venice was stellar, and not as crowded as my last visit in October.  My favorite foray with my family was to the Labirinto in Parma.  The Labyrinth was created by the famous graphic artist and printer Franco Maria Ricci. 

Carnations on Black  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 12"  40 x 30cm  200.00

It was a brilliant visit for me.  For one thing, it made me think about black.  These FMR publications always had a black background – maybe you remember them?  Jackie Kennedy Onassis called it the “most beautiful magazine in the world”.  The black really set things off…it was alluded to in the restaurant, as well, where black lacquer cabinets filled niches along the wall.  The museum, which held some breathtaking pieces of art, was quite dark, with contemporary lighting adding drama to the pieces.

The entire operation was contemporary – the labyrinth itself has only been open 5 years.  Regardless, the bamboo is tall as a house and when you are in the maze, it is very difficult to make one’s way.  We raised our eyebrows when the ticket seller asked for our phone number and she gave us hers.   We had a couple left-brainers with us, which helped with navigation.  I could have gotten lost and not cared, but we had to go to see a car at 4 o’clock.

We are buying a new car, which costs far more than we should be spending, but there’s no way around it.  It is a chic, black and white number:  a 2011 Citroen Picasso, with just over 40,000 miles on it.  The bureaucracy surrounding this purchase has, for the first time, made me question my continued habitation in Italy.  It is possible we will not be able to buy the car at all, despite the fact we already own one.  Dragsville.

Rome Rooftops  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30 cm  200.00

So, I am back to the drawing board on my 1-inch squares for painting, which are or aren’t one inch because the computer knows no limits.  It’s a good little problem, as I sift through the experiences of the week.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Artnotes: Masquerade

The Cream Puff is in trouble:  our wonderful red Citroen station wagon is being put out to pasture. She is having retention problems, and while we can still drive it we are advised by our mechanic not to take prolonged trips on the highway (i.e. Rome).

So we are undertaking the purchase of a new vehicle.  One must find the car (setting filters:  5 seats, no more than 100,000 kilometers, for example) on a site called Autoscout24, and then arrange a meeting.  It’s a little like dating, I think.  You set a time, cruise by to get a look; act uninterested.   Maybe they have the car or not – here’s another choice.  Besides the intrigue of the rendezvous, it’s a complicated thing.  Italy is in the process of putting into effect environmental laws requiring cars to be of a certain pollution level (Euro 5) to be able to drive in the city.  Luckily a friend advises us. 
Because we have our car mainly to get to the city, it is imperative we buy a newer, cleaner, more expensive model.   We are hoping for a big art sale, or some form of windfall: maybe crowdfunding, in exchange for a painting lesson in Italy someday.  I’ll be 94 and still holding the brushes (cross fingers).    

We had our tapparelle fixed on Saturday, in anticipation of my sister’s visit.  Tapparelle are tambour-like exterior rolling blinds.  There are cords on the inside of the room for rolling them up and down, for privacy.  These same cords have been there since 1910, so they’ve experienced some wear.  One shade had slipped its holder; the other was just broken after 110 years of use.  A nice young man fixed them, and showed us how to grease the runners, so there would be less resistance when we lowered them for the next 20 years. 

We’ve been making masks for Carnevale this week.  I painted and decoupage-d; Blair stuck to paint.  We have accompanying hats, and I have a sparkly skirt to wear.   My sister and her husband and my grown up nephews are all joining us.  It’s probably crazy to fight the crowds, but how often in a life do you get to go to Venice and see grownups play dress-up?  Not to mention the potential food.  Already we’ve been eating little fritters and ravioli stuffed with sweet ricotta and powdered with cinnamon. And boats.

Harika got a haircut and is a little cold.  I put a sweater on her to keep her warm (she was shivering), and now she refuses to let me remove it.  I guess it’s her disguise.

PS.  If you didn’t get a chance to read Artnotes:  Putting It All Together,  I just want to let you know I am looking for painters to make a 12 x 12” painting (or collage, or drawing (something 2-D) from a 1” square image which I would send you.  Then, you take a photo and send it back to me, and we’ll put it all together and make a multi-handed mosaic picture on the internet.  I have 5 people ready to go, but would like to make it a dozen hands.