Sunday, January 14, 2018

Maybe I'll Bake a Cake

 Artichoke 1  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm
 Artichoke 2 (vertical possible)  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm
  Artichoke 3  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm
 Two Pigeons  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm

  Alleys by our House  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm
 Black Cat Hanging Around my Door  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm
 Black Bird  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm
 Tiber in Winter  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 24"  40 x 50cm

​Horse in Borghese Gardens  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm

We drove into the city of Rome today, for the second time this week.  We went on Wednesday, just for fun – we need our city fix from time to time and there is no better place.  Seriously, Blair and I both have always said Rome was our favorite city in the world.  He has seen more cities than I have, but it would take a lot to knock Rome out of that number one slot for me.

There is just so much there, and it is so deep.  From the Etruscans, to the Romans, to the Italians, there are layers upon layers of history.  I love driving into Rome itself, from our bucolic corner with olive trees and hill towns, by the fields of sheep, the murmuration of  starlings, the car dealerships, the billboard for Enzo, private investigator; the prostitutes and hourly hotels; the curtains shading the balconies, the laundry; the umbrella pines giving way to the villas at the outskirts of town.

Blair and I ate at a dive he and his college buddies used to go to in the 1970s:  il Delfino.  The lasagna was 5 euros and there was an assortment of pizza slices.  We got on the bus and rode around like we were in a chauffeur driven limousine.  One can’t drive in downtown Rome, like many Italian cities.  We observed cats among Roman ruins, and watched the Tiber (Tevere) flow past.

Today, our destination wasn’t into the center city but to a rather funky contemporary neighborhood, where we were buying a gas stove.  It was paved with less lovely buildings, but rich, nonetheless with life.  Evidence of the garbage strike, and people waiting for buses, 99 cent fruit stands and tabacchi(s) welcomed us. 

Our new apartment in Stimigliano came with a stove “never used”.  This was because when you plugged it into the wall, the power failed. I feel lucky this was among the few tricks played on us; it’s Italy, after all.   Blair had been eyeing a gas cooktop/gas oven model.   We went to a local vendor on 8 January, when it would have been marked down:  SOLD, in fact.  So, when this model came up, we wasted no time jumping on it.

The seller and his wife were real characters.  He looked like the chubby rat that drove the coach for Cinderella.  Beady, lashless eyes, a pointy nose, and sharp backward-tilting teeth – he was smiling and happy.  His friend Melania, similarly circular, had shaved eyebrows filled in with purple pencil.  She was a bleach blonde with black roots.  I could see her sewing Cinderella’s dress.   She made me coffee and chatted.  I felt good about them, the stove was clean and he helped us pack it into the car.

On the way home, I thought about how it is possible to enjoy every minute of life.  Without expectations, all is new and beautiful, like a child seeing snow for the first time.  Using our grocery caddy as a dolly, we moved our old stove into the studio, and got this new model inside the kitchen.  I feel like a new beginning.  Maybe I’ll bake a cake.

Sunday, January 07, 2018


 Harika  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm  

Harika with a bird's nest on her back  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm  

Gardens, Villa Farnese  Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas panel  8 x 12"  20 x 30cm 

 Cherub sculpture, Villa Farnese  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm  

 Venice: a Revelation   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm 
Sea Monster  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper   17 x 25"  43 x 63cm

A fresco of Sea Travel at the Villa Farnese, Caprarola

Epiphany:  a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.

Today (6 January) is the feast of the Epiphany, celebrated to the ultimate here in Italy.  Of course, we’re not celebrating the word epiphany, but rather the arrival of the Magi at Bethlehem.  To bring it down yet another peg, the Befana, a good witch, will disperse gifts to children today in towns all over Italy.  I have never gotten into the “witchiness” or ugliness of things – I even had a hard time with that movie “Nanny McPhee”. Santa Claus used to scare me to tears.

Somehow, I’ve always liked the pageantry of the “kings”.  I have a wardrobe of sparkly dress-up clothes that I hardly ever wear, sometimes on holidays.  For my curry dinner I wore my “Dolly Parton goes Bollywood” sparkle jacket.  I didn’t have any revelations like the Magi, but hey, today is the day:  anything can happen.

I have had epiphanies in past.  They have come in the form of “wake up calls” to do with health, or when the spirit has spoken to me at the beach, or in an especially quiet moment, or a stressful moment.   I have learned through these to celebrate life as much as I can: birthdays, holidays, or just this day is call for a “festa”.  I’ve changed paths.   And I have learned to have faith.

I have been plagued this last week by sea monsters:  When I visit with American friends, there is always big talk of having enough [money] for retirement.  People (who are well intentioned, worry about us) ask if we’re “OK”, etc.  It lets worry enter my picture, and it’s heck to get it out.

I feel we are probably as well off as anyone else.  In fact, I have always been able to find a way to make a living.   But sea monsters, like worries, are never easily reasoned with.  One has to trick one’s way out and swim clear.

We went to the Villa Farnese at Caprarola this week.  It was a country home built by the Farnese family in the mid 1500s.  It started out at the beginning of that century as a fort, but in the 1550 or so, was turned into a home.   It had incredible mannerist style murals throughout, and a map room which included all the continents, amazingly accurate.   There was a tribute to Amerigo Vespucci.

The gardens themselves were a fabulous treat.  There were sea monsters and grottos, and giants.   The layout of the land was ideal for seeing vistas, and I plan a painting foray there “en plein air”.  Some of today’s pictures were memories aided by photos. 

It’s hard to have an epiphany in the house.  I need to cross a desert to find my next bright idea. The Befana will be in Stimigliano’s square this afternoon, I might venture a look.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Artnotes: Love in 2018!

 Blair and I at Harry's Bar   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas 10 x 12"  25 x 30cm  
 (painted from memory)

​Monte Cimone at Sunrise  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 19.5"  20 x 50 cm  

 Tree Shadow in Snow  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  11 x 18"  27 x 46cm 

 ​Winter Landscape before Snow  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  33 x 76"  83 x 193cm  (delivered unstretched)
It’s been cool in our Rocca Malatina house, and Harika curls up next to me on the bed.  I wake up thinking how nice it is to have someone to love.  Because it’s not the loved one who benefits, it’s the one who loves.  It’s especially nice if the feeling is reciprocated.

Italy is a country about love.  My friends here give me a hearty kiss and hug – not just a perfunctory air kiss, but an actual touching of cheeks.  And Italians love their children like no other country.  The Madonna and Child is an actual phenomenon.

We went to see the living Nativity in Monteorsello on the 24 December.  Our dinner guests went home, and our houseguest went to bed; at 11:15 we packed ourselves into the car. We arrived at the same time as Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.  Baby Jesus’ big sister was there, too.  What? You didn’t know he had one?  He does in Monteorsello.

There were a group of carolers belting out “Adeste Fideles” with the help of the black cassocked priest.  A small band of instruments played “Silent Night”.  The town was lit by candles, and it was a scene out of a movie.  Really, movies do come from life – storytellers can pick up on these elements that can make me cry.

We carried on this holiday week, going to Venice for my birthday on the 28.  I have always disliked my birthday because my mother used to tell me, “I remember when you were born, it spoiled all my fun”.  It took me years to get over that (she would remind me clear until I was in my 30s), but now I celebrate.
Venice was especially foggy and mysterious and beautiful.  We plied the canals on the vaporetto, and took the 2 euro gondola across the Grand Canal.  We ate lunch at the Rialto, and walked through previously unseen squares on to St. Marks. We ducked into Harry’s bar when it really started to rain.
We celebrated an early New Year’s with our Italian teacher and the refugees, who we learned the language with.  They are full of hope for 2018, thankful to have made it to safety before the door completely closed.   The table included people from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, all sharing our love of Italy.
Our houseguest has since left, and Blair, Harika and I are on our own once again.  I am planning a New Year’s Day feast of Indian food for our English-speaking friends (Italians are not big on curry).  Blair and I are lucky to have a large wonderful family of friends, whom we love and are loved by in return.

Happy New Year, and much Love in 2018!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Artnotes: Wishes

The Streets of Rome  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvasboard  8 x 12"  20 x 30cm  

Sunlight in the Piazza   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  ​20 x 27.5"  50 x 70cm  

Christmas "playing" card by Blair and Laurie

I just can’t go another week without Artnotes.  Last weekend, I made a spur-of-the-moment trip to the US to see my Dad.  I was talking to him on the telephone (we chat every day), and thought “it’s time for a personal visit”.  So, a 72 hours later I jetted on over.  I loved the Boeing 787; hated the staff (like prison guards) on Norwegian Air.  I think airlines should let you have a free glass of water; I actually paid $45.00 extra to check a bag and have food, but water was not included.  We were delayed an hour both ways.  Baggage came in on a carousel shared by 8 other cheapskate airlines arriving at the same time.  Was all this worth the $500.00 savings?  Maybe.   I could do it again.
A couple of days before I left we went into the city of Rome, to buy parts for a crazy Christmas card idea we had.  Very few cards were actually made, so here’s the concept in the likely case yours didn’t arrive.  I made another card, which nobody received, I will share next time.

Rome is so fantastic I can hardly stand it.  Blair and I drive (although we could take the train), and park under the Borghese gardens.  Popping out there, right near the Spanish steps, is wonderful.  The park is so Roman, with umbrella pines and Renaissance sculpture, I feel joyous at once.  This time we walked DOWN the Spanish steps, over to the Pantheon, which is so emotion-evoking, I want to burst into tears at this 126 AD wonder. 
And I know this is a “tourist attraction”, but darn, it is so great, how can I pass it up?  It’s how it got to be a tourist attraction, because it is so exceptional.  The key is to see it off season.  Winter sun bounced off the inside of the dome.
We went to lunch at a little restaurant where I ate the best artichoke of my life.  I was somewhat concerned when the waitress took two artichokes from the display up front – my experience with artichokes is LOTS of cooking is necessary.  In fact, it returned rather quickly:  it had been fried.  The outer leaves (minus the pricker), were like potato chips, and the interior was fabulously soft and delicious.  I followed with a simple spaghetti carbonara and wine.  It was a family restaurant, as so many in Italy are, and the woman taking care of us was the spitting image of the old man manager.  They were matchstick thin, with high cheekbones and enormous eyes.   Hearty discussions were taking place not far from us – it felt like eating at someone’s house, someone Italian.

I am just back yesterday, so paintings are a little scarce.  Connecticut was cold and snowy and I didn’t paint at all.  Blair worked on our house while I was away – he bought a beautiful olive wood table we’d seen the week before.  Harika waited every day in the car for Blair to pick me up.  Her wish, and mine, eventually came true.  

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Artnotes: What We Might Find?

Horse and Woman (commission)  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  24 x 12"  60 x 30cm  

The House with Red Shutters (commission)  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 24  40x 60cm

The House from Afar  (commission)  Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24"  30 x 60cm

Ballerina, Guru, Explorer, Madonna (friends on my closet door)  Laurie Fox Pessemier

Acrylic on applied newspaper  8' x 6'  96 x 72"

After a hundred false starts for this week’s artnotes, I have decided to tell you about our Saturday adventures.  Originally, we’d planned to go into Rome with our neighbor, but he feared rain.  As former Seattlites, rain doesn’t bother us*, so we decided to drive up to Italy’s oldest flea market, in Arezzo. *Actually, rain makes me pretty crabby, but it’s honestly better if I get out.

Arezzo is little more than an hour and a half from here.  It’s an easy go, North on the highway toward Florence.   Arezzo is famous for its murals, painted by Piero della Francesca, in the cathedrale of St. Francis.  It is a medieval/renaissance towns, with cobblestoned hills, and fabulous architecture.  But we went for the flea market.

The entire center of the town is shut off to traffic and filled with stands selling everything from silver, to lights, to historic fabrics and furniture.   We were in the market for things for the new house, and walked away with two small easy chairs and a light fixture, for a grand total of 110 euros.  We looked at almost everything, and left behind a great desk (110, but might have got it for 90) and a set of six elegant dining chairs, contemporary, for about the same price.   There was a great dining set with chairs suitable as easy chairs, but it was pricier and Blair wasn’t keen on the table (he never goes for light wood).  This was perhaps the best flea market I have ever been to, which says a lot after Paris.  It’s the first Sunday of the month and the previous Saturday, if you are planning your trip.

Blair is an addict of the flea market, as everyone who knows us will testify.  We left Arezzo after only about two hours, and drove home because there was a “vintage”market taking place in Borgo Nuovo, right next door to Stimigliano.   That market started at two, and at 2:30 we were driving around desperately to find it, like someone seeking a heroin fix.   

We were thwarted by a large herd of sheep and three shepherding dogs that attacked our car.  Harika was in the back seat, barking and spitting foam against the back window where one persistent dog was trying to get in.  “Don’t hit them, don’t hit them!” I was hollering as Blair maneuvered the car by the dogs – the sheep were long gone.   I am thinking of making a sheep Christmas card, inspiration coming from the craziest places.

We finally found the vintage market, which turned to be an individual’s property that I had formerly mistaken as a dump site.  In fact, it was totally organized and well laid out.  For one of the first times here, we heard English spoken.  Is there something about Anglo-Saxons and flea markets?  Two men from Vancouver, BC who lived nearby were seeking bargains, as were an American couple from a neighboring town.  So we came away with four new friends, five espresso/tea cups, four black and white bullseye dishes, 3 black saucers and a large anchovy tin (sounds like the 12 days of Christmas? hmmm. maybe a better card idea).

Today there is a market in Farfa.  Who knows what we might find?

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Artnotes: I never thought of it that way...

 Morning Fog  Lauire Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24″ 30 x 60cm
 The Flock  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  13 x 18″    33 x 40cm 
 The Lamb  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  16 x 16″  40 x 40 cm 
​In the Fold  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  14 x 16″  35 x 40 cm

The dog looks like a large golden retriever, but in fact, he is a maremmano.  And he is fiercely guarding his sheep at the side of the road.  One of the most remarkable things about living here, north of Rome, is the presence of sheep and their shepherds.  Sheep are moved from field to field, from Rome to here, just as they were millennia ago.   We see a herder who actually has a bagpipe. 

Blair and I try to stop to paint them, but it is nearly impossible.  We take photos and Blair works from those.  We were out riding around with M, who has become our shepherd.  I never really think of myself as a sheep, but Blair says he might be.  Were I a sheep, I would be the one they slaughtered first, for insubordination.

M, a teacher who lives in our borgo, takes us out to show us Roman roads, and particular sites around the area.  We’ve learned about the routes which lead to Rome from around our area:  the Salaria (the salt road), and the Flaminia.  We’ve been to a number of nearby medieval and Roman cities.  We’ve learned Italian words for architectural terms.

Blair and I take ourselves out on near-impossible tasks like finding the dump where we get our official garbage cans.  It is a half day event, visiting four different places before we happen upon the right one, just in the nick of time before the three hour lunch closure.

I am astonished by how different this area is from Rocca Malatina.  It seems much more clearly divided between Catholic and Communist.    People are very clear about which camp they follow.  Maybe we have just not had as much direct experience in this conversation, formerly.  As our Italian improves, it occurs to me it might be better to keep my mouth shut.

We sit with M over dinner.  I miss having a flock of guests, but they will likely come with time.  Meanwhile, I make baccala (dried salted cod) with olive oil, tomatoes and garlic and we talk.

“Is it no wonder the Catholic church was such a success?  With artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi,  people could just go to church to experience the spirituality of the art!”  M expounds, banging on the dining table. 

I guess I never thought of it that way.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Artnotes: Thankful

Ponte "Felice" over the Tiber ​  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  18 x 13"  46 x 33cm 

Nighttime in Stimigliano  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  11 x 18"  27 x 46 cm 

Fall by the Tiber   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acylic/canvas  9.5 x 14"  24 x 35cm 

Cherry Tree under Snow  Laurie Fox Pessemier  17 x 25"  43 x 63cm 

Roses under Snow  Laurie Fox Pessemier  17 x 25"  43 x 63cm 

On Monday, we had two feet of snow in Rocca Malatina.  We waited just two days too long to leave.  It snowed without stopping into Tuesday morning, when Blair went out to excavate.  The driveway was still fairly driveable, although to go over the snow might be ill-advised.  The real problem was where the snowplow pushed the accumulation from route 623 onto our sidewalk and exit.   Rain had turned the 4 foot tall mass into an ice cube.  Blair went out with the planting shovel to move it.   A neighbor and her son kibitzed with him as he hacked along.

He made some headway before M, of the cafĂ©, walked by. “Let me do some,” he insisted.  Reluctantly (or not?) Blair relinquished the shovel.  It wasn’t long before a much younger man came along and insisted on finishing it up.  “I am going to go get a better shovel,” he said, “and I’ll finish the drive.”  He wasn’t fast enough.  M summoned his snow plow man, who made quick work of the 30 meter long drive (100 feet).  

We were both touched by the kindness of people in Rocca Malatina.  We are relieved to be keeping our house there (again, thanks to the generosity of our landlady who has lowered our rent to make our winter departure possible).  We’ll be back for Christmas.

Which brings us to our Roma (Stimigliano) house.  After replacing our hot water/heater there, we arrived on Wednesday to TOO MUCH HEAT.  We’ve set the thermostat back to 60 (15) and we are more than comfortable.   I love to be able to stand in the bracing air coming through the open bedroom window and still be warm.  I look out onto the sea of night:  the plain is empty, punctuated with a few cars and the passing train in the far distance.   In the early morning a star twinkles in our window, just above the horizon.

On Thursday we went to Rome for a Thanksgiving lunch at the Savoy Hotel, with the American Business Group.  We parked beneath the Borghese Gardens and wandered through the grounds for an hour before our meeting.   We saw two painters and heard an accordionist.  We both reveled in the lushness of the Roman garden:  we each remembered being there many years ago, Blair for school, me after graduation.   There’s a lot to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

All Around

 Tower at Vescovia   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  14 x 9.5"  35 x 24cm

 Umbrella Pines Vescovia  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"  20 x 50cm  

 Oranges on Blue   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  16 x 24  40 x 60cm  
 Calabrian Oranges    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  16 x 24  40 x 60cm  
 Oranges on Bronze  Laurie Fox Pessemier   10 x 24" 25 x 60cm
Blue and Orange  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  8 x 14  20 x 35 cm

Monte Cimone First Snow  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/custom house paper  8 x 14  20 x 35 cm  

I have been busy as a bird dog with an American guest here these past seven days.  I forget how easy it is to speak English, and my lungs feel weak from chatter.   I haven’t written a single word all week, and find myself at Saturday with no artnotes to pick from.

Fortunately, I’ve visited a passel of cities for inspiration:  Vignola, Modena, Bologna, Florence and Orvieto.  Each city is distinct.  I would have to say Bologna is the city where I could most easily live (were it not so polluted), and Florence is the most fun to visit (it’s polluted, too).

It is amazing those two cities are just an hour apart by train or car; yet so vastly different.  Bologna is full of color, with pink, gold and orange loggia-d streets.  It was the intended home of the Catholic church before the Vatican.  At the last minute that decision was made and the half-finished cathedral gave way to the educational heart of Italy.   

Florence is all Renaissance and square, punctuated with wildly striped churches of white and green.  Florence was the “business” city, run by the Medici family.   So many buildings there make me think of banks: rusticated ground floors with iron-gated windows; smoother first stories and refined details on the third; an occasional terrace on top.   We visited Brunelleschi’s dome of the Duomo, delivering a goose-bump inducing vista both inside and outside that church. 

A friend suggested while in Florence, we eat at a restaurant owned and run by friends of hers, “by Santa Croce, you can’t miss it”.  I only had the name, FrancescanoVini, and believe it or not we found it on a side street (Borgo dei Greci, 7r/Piazze dei Perruzi), completely by accident.  I am terrible at choosing restaurants, and at the absolute stage of exasperation we walked in and it was the right place.  The charming family, including the 9-month-old bambina, made us feel utterly at home.  Hooray:  the best beef in chianti we ever ate, and my pasta with clams and cherry tomatoes was delicious.

Blair and I rarely eat “out”.  Not spending money on dining makes our bohemian lifestyle possible; plus I love to cook.   I was thankful for this very good recommendation.

We had less dining success in Orvieto, but had, in past, eaten well there, too.  Orvieto has a very lovely church built of black and white stone, and has that elegance found only in the very early Renaissance.   There is something about the restraint of the early Renaissance I like more than what was to follow – the church in Orvieto actually has a wooden roof.  I like to see Romanesque roots and vestiges of the medieval.

Today there is snow on Monte Cimone and snow is predicted to 550 meters (our altitude) for Monday.  I am happy to be back in Rocca Malatina, with its clean air and coffee with friends.  On the way up the hill to home, we passed the stand of a Calabrian selling oranges, and bought 3 kilos for 5 Euros. We will paint them, make marmalade, and enjoy the flavor of Italia.    

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The State of Food

  Capricorn  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 18"  27 x 46cm  
 Goats  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 18"  27 x 46cm  
  Hills near Florence  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 18"  27 x 46cm  
 Brunelleschi  Laurie Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 19.5"   20 x 50cm  

On Wednesday we painted a picture of our friends’ goats.  Five of them:  Willow, Freckle, Geraldine, Myrtle and ? (maybe it’s better I don’t name them).   I am a Capricorn, myself, and relate to the passive yet strong character. At least three were expecting kids, and were a trifle misshapen on this account.  I love the sideways pupils in their golden eyes, the beards, their horns: and they smelled really good to me, like young nanny goats, not stinky billies.

Apparently, the wolf felt the same way, and he murdered the most pregnant one and stole her baby that night.  My friend contacted me in the morning, very sad and upset.  It upset me, too.  I lived in the city of Paris for twenty years, and honestly, this sort of thing is out of my realm.  We all like to act like how wonderful nature is, but in fact it is brutal.  I was happy that the late Geraldine, the dark one, was so prominent in both of our paintings.

Thursday found us at the Florence airport as we watched two boys and their mother sort waste from their snack at the triage can.  There was heavy discussion about the aluminum foil that their sandwiches were wrapped in.  One put it in “mixed” and the other in “metal” before the family shuffled off to the panoramic lounge.  Their Dad’s flight was delayed, as was our friend’s.  The cleaning crew came along, and emptied the three sorted garbage bags all into the same bin.  

We have a friend visiting from Fairbanks, Alaska, which happens to be the sister city to Fanano, a town right nearby Rocca Malatina.  The cities are related because a miner from Fanano struck gold in Fairbanks in the early 1900s.   I like to think he brought the gold to be worked in Florence, a city famous for its gold-working.

We went to Florence a bit early, to get a painting in.  We are always drawn to the Piazza Michelangelo where we overlook the Arno and the city.  I often paint the same thing, because Brunelleschi’s dome is so incredibly beautiful.  We are hoping to stop in Florence on Monday or Tuesday.  I plan to see Michelangelo’s Dawn and Dusk that I missed the last time.  Each time I see Florence I like it more and more.  Being there off-season is essential.

We’re cooking and eating marvelous food this week (quail with preserved pears; duck with cherries)– our friend comes to us as a former restaurant design client.   We see her every few years to talk about the state of food.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Artnotes: Thrilling

View from my Window Blair Pessemier  14 x 20"  35  x 50cm   

​Things get easier for me as I get older.  I am not totally without stress, but I have somehow managed to get through without panic these days.   I used to think a certain day or certain event would take place that would trigger my demise, or at least a downward slide.  In fact, things go much slower than that.

Town Hall Stimigliano    Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm 

And a downward slide is often not downward, but sideways and sometimes results in a positive new direction.  Things fail because they weren’t right.  I think of how life would be now, had Blair and I stayed in Seattle propping up our business, Pessemier’s Commercial Interior Design?  Still in Seattle, we’d probably be millionaires.  But would we have become artists?  We certainly wouldn’t have the rich experiences and same wonderful friendships we have now.    Failure clears the stage for a new act.

Hills in the Morning  Laurie Fox Pessemier 10 x 14"  25 x 35cm  

Had we not “failed”, we wouldn’t be sitting in this huge house thinking about our new little apartment in Stimigliano.  The apartment is not perfect, but it is interesting, easy to take care of, and most of all it represents a beginning.    Having arrived is not what it’s cracked up to be.   Having more mountains to scale, at least mentally, is more fun.   

​Hills, Sabina    Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   10 x 14"  25 x 35cm  

Our first day in the new apartment in Stimigliano we met M, a teacher.  He is so enthusiastic about the area, he piled us into his car and took us to Vescovia, where there are remnants of Roman baths, and a church over a crypt where St. Peter once said a mass:  incredible, goose-pimply historical events.  The church was decorated with late 13th/early 14th century frescoes painted by Cavallini.  The adjacent baths peeked through the green grass growing 2000 years later.

There were times we’d not have hopped in a car, and driven off with a stranger.  As a child, I never even imagined I’d see Italy.  How thrilling.