Italy: Checking our list…

You thought you were rid of me didn’t you? At least it appears that you may have been considering I’ve not written since…I can’t even remember. I’ve been in food land. Go figure that after being involved in my cyber baking group for more than a year now, I had hosting responsibilities this past month. That means surfing through eight million Danish Braids, which is what myself and my co-host, Ben, chose for all those Daring type Baker people to experiment with. Hosting also involves visiting every single blog. Um, so that would be 20 pages of blogs split between the two of us to the tune of five hundred blogs each. Whoa.

I’ve read a page and a half so far.

But I’d rather do that than yet again try to purchase a Roma Pass or train tickets to save us some time. It isn’t that I haven’t tried four times already. For some reason, I can easily move things along until it’s time to pay. At that point, on each website, it states the page is no longer available. Frustrating.  They must not want my suffering U.S. dollars.

So I’m hovering here, with one eye on foodland, and the other on making sure we’ve got all that we need before we’re off to Italy tomorrow.
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It doesn’t taste too horribly, although the RTR would disagree.

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I have Chick to thank for the lead on Jen Lancaster’s writing. She’s completely hilarious. And Ann Patchett? Well, if you’ve read Bel Canto, you’d understand. When I saw the little pencils and their freshly sharpened points just screaming to be used I breathed life back into my dormant office supply fetish, I picked them up and chose a small notebook to write in as well.  You know — the old fashioned way. With a writing instrument?  Since I’ll be sans iMac for what seems to be forever, perhaps I’ll actually remember what it feels like to write in a notebook again. Maybe have a story or two to tell when we return.

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Do you have any idea how decadent my feet feel in these shoes? Sure they look like some kind of warped cross between something an eco-friendly ballerina and a tree-hugging terrorist would wear, but still.  I’ve got some strappy black sandals to got out to a few dinners in, but after suffering from blisters within a day of landing in the UK on our vacation two years ago, I take shoes very seriously.  Oops!  I almost forgot — the “Keens” are actually Merrells…I’m such a rotten consumer…

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I think this just about covers everything. Except now I’m worried about the pillows. And sheets. What if there aren’t any in the two rentals?  Um…I probably should have thought of this earlier? Maybe we do need the kitchen sink.

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And I’ve got pistachio gelato whirling in the ice cream maker right now…

Since there are about 4 or 5 people who still read this blog, I’m trying to post something to add to your day while we’re gone. You know, in case you miss me.  Or not.

In the meantime, I hope your weather is perfect, that you treat yourself to excellent food, and that you dream lovely dreams.

Ciao, bella!

Soothing Sunsets and Sleepless Nights

With only three days left before we head off to our vacation in Italy, I’m to the point where I wake at 3AM and realize I’ve been making lists in my dreams.  I haven’t done this for nearly two years;  it was a by product of my former profession.

The lists aren’t the usual kind where I rerun whether I’ve got all necessary vouchers, and copies of passports.  Or reservations to avoid lines for particularly popular sites like Galleria Borghese in Rome, and the Uffizi in Florence.  I make make mental lists to check on details like:  finding out which bus line will get us from the train station in Florence to the farm house where we’ll be staying; and how we’ll know which dock to head toward, luggage in tow, after we get off the train in Naples to take a hydrofoil to Sorrento; and whether we should pack a roll of toilet paper and a bath towel each since we’re not exactly sure whether they’ll be included in the apartment in Rome or not.  I’ve read those reviews, remember?

You’d think 550 Euros would guarantee toilet paper, but…what do I know?  I’m a presumptuous American, remember?

The good thing about all of this worry is that I’ll most likely be so exhausted, I’ll sleep on the flight, and when we arrive in Rome at 10:45am (2:45am our time), I’ll be as perky as a daisy.  Okay, so a daisy with purple bags under her eyes, but still.

In the meantime, enjoy the solstice shots I took last week in celebration of the beginning of Summer and Sky Watch Friday.  Looking at photographs of the sky from all around the world is a pleasant way to start a weekend, with an added value of helping me get a grip.

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Looking toward Point Loma.
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I like the reflection on the ocean in this one.
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Going…
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Going…
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Gone.

Last minute details and queasiness…

I thought I was done.  Well, as done as someone like me can be when planning; I’m compulsive when it comes to organizing events.  And to make matters worse, the planning is done to make it appear as if no planning went into the event.

This is Martha’s fault.

Okay, so I guess it’s my fault, too.  It’s the result of my being able to see how things should be, and years and years of long and short range planning for a living.

Planning.  Lots of it.

It’s why I’m so horrible at it when it comes to day to day things.  You know, like cleaning, running errands, paying bills.  I avoid those details like the plague.  I procrastinate.  I rebel.  I rage.  Then I do it.  On.  Time.

The histrionics are just for effect.

So doesn’t it seem a bit odd that for a few days now, I’ve had a sort of uncomfortable feeling in my abdomen.  It’s somewhat like the feeling I get when I’m in line to ride a roller coaster.  I know what those plunges, dips, and twists are like.

Scary.

I couldn’t figure it out.  I even had a bit of reminescence about the MoH and I and how I felt when I met him — all sappy and gooey and madly in love.  You know — sick to my stomach.  Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?  I was writing about the first time we’d had gelato on our honeymoon and how I can’t wait to taste the gelato in Italy.  Although I’m a sucker for the MoH and can say I’m pretty sappy over us, I thankfully don’t have to endure that feeling in my stomach.  Well, I didn’t think I did.

It wouldn’t go away.

And then it hit me.  I hadn’t booked a room for our last night in Italy.  The don’t worry about it, just get a room somewhere near the airport so you can wax over the vacation you’ve just enjoyed before you get on the 99 hour flight back to reality in Paradise.  That room.

Oops.

You’d think this was no big deal.  But no.  I have to think about how to squeeze a few more unexpectedly wonderful moments into our vacation.  I wallow in all things Google Maps, clicking on every single picture that has been posted by others just to get a sense of the place.  I scan the reviews of each hotel, looking not for the 237 favorable comments, but the five that say things like:

The hotel is being very slowly renovated, probably on an inadequate budget, so, for instance, the hallway leading to our room had no ceiling and was a tangle of exposed electrical wires and pipes.

Okay, so this would be the reason I immediately looked at another hotel.  The MoH said we’d be on an adventure, but this is more like a safari to me.  Thanks for the review!

Or:

If this hotel is 10 minutes from the Airport (as advertised), I will eat my shoe.  Seriously.

Dude.  Have you ever heard of Google maps?  And I’d recommend eating your hat.  It would taste much better than your stinky shoe.  Seriously.

And then:

We arrived at the Rome airport on a Sunday afternoon.  We booked the hotel because they advertised a shuttle to and from the airport.  When we called them, they informed us that their driver does not work on Sunday afternoons and it was up to us to find a way to get to the hotel…

Okay, so this would piss me off, too.  Especially when you’ve just arrived, are bright-eyed and and have TOURIST plastered across your foreheads for all the world to see.  But I have read extensively that on Sunday, this is more the norm than the rare occasion, so you’re supposed to expect it and go with the flow.  Now, this is something I’m not always very good at, so I’ve been practicing.  A lot.  Quello e giusto.  Sara fine.  Tutto si distende. Respiri profondamente. Ahhhh….

And crabs like this:

Accommodations for heavy sleepers.  The hotel is close to the airport, which is good AND bad.  Good for the convenient location near the airport, bad because it is in the flight path of many planes.  Thin walls inside the hotel don’t help.  A free shuttle bus runs to/from the airport and hotel.  Missed the shuttle to the hotel and had to take a 20 euro taxi ride…

Erm.  The last time I checked, airports do have planes that take off and land.  It works nicely.  And if you’re not a punctual person, you deserve to pay for a taxi ride.  Dude.  You chose the hotel.  Remember?

But sometimes, you have to read these less than stellar reviews carefully:

Swallowed hard as we pulled in to this property; never could figure out the neighborhood.  Nevertheless, room was nice, quiet. (Overall, price pretty steep for location & quality…) Walking distance to marina or riverside dining choices, most of which offered local fish — a welcome change form the three weeks of Tuscan delights…

Yah, this is the part that I’m having to suck up, too.  That it doesn’t always get to look like Gina Lolabrigida or Marcello Mastroianni are just around the corner near the Italian cypresses, lounging on the terazzo with a limoncello.  Life sucks like that sometimes. But thanks, dude, for the positive spin on the local fish.  I’ll look for that.

It pays to be a compulsively dreaming, obsessively constructive pessimistic planner like me.  If anything can go wrong, it will, so I plan for how to avoid it.  Or in this case, practice how to grin and bear it.

I found the hotel and we’re booked.  Now, how to get there from the train.

Between the Trenitalia schedules and Google maps, I’ll figure it out.

At least my stomach doesn’t hurt any more.

Solsticeness

I know the rest of the world seems to believe that Memorial Day is the kick off for summer, but somehow, the whole idea of that particular holiday kicking off anything has never quite sat right with me.

Call me a party poopah, but there’s something way wrong about all those furniture sales, and car sales, and well, just any sale to get people up and out to slap them back into a consumer spending stupor.  On Memorial Day?  Okay, so the sales do help with all the purchasing that goes on for school promotions, and graduations, and weddings, you know, in case someone needs a futon or something.  OMG, Dubyah!  What in hell would we have done without your economic stimulus check?

It’s all nonsense, because today is our favorite day of the year.  Party, anyone?

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Continue reading “Solsticeness”

Nobody likes orange.

Finally.  A new, peaceful theme.

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I wasn’t truly loving the orange in my last digs, but something odd has happened as a result of that recent having to live with it for as long as I did and survive.  When I’m out and about, all things orange catch my eye.  And I have been doing a bit of shopping since our vacation is looming…

…in twelve days.

So why am I messing around with my blog theme, you ask?

Continue reading “Nobody likes orange.”

That Summer Feeling

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It’s the last day of school and because 99.9% of us have spent time in a seat in a classroom counting the days and minutes and seconds until we could say, “It’s the last day of school!” we know it’s a special day.

And then there’s another portion of us who stood in that classroom in front of those kids, and later, in front of those teachers, and thought the very same thing. This particular experience gave new meaning to the phrase, barely contain my glee…

Okay, so for some — those of us who still have children at home — this day conjures conflicting emotions:

A. You’re ecstatic that you no longer have to get up at 6:30 (or even 6:57) for your 7am car pool responsibilities.

B. You’re in a quandry because your almost 16-year-old son will be home every single day for 10 weeks (too old for camp, not able to attend summer school to make up crappy grades in Spanish and Algebra II because his perfectly delightful and generous but most likely too indulgent parents are taking him to Italy) attempting to put a pet rock to shame with inactivity and behaving quite charmingly the entire time. Lifeguard Tower

A. You’re seriously glad that you no longer have even more children — little ones — at home who now need you to be the summer tour director, organize appropriate television viewing time, snack time, nap time, play group time, reading time, craft time, and errand-running-time with said children in tow which was always so much fun.

B. There’s no B on this one. Trust me. Ice Cream Stand

A. You no longer have to ask (prod, cajole, encourage, motivate, hold a mirror under his nose to see if he’s breathing…) aforementioned teenager if he has homework to do, classwork to finish, quizzes or tests to study for, papers to sign, grades to keep an eye on, or projects to complete, and compose yourself long enough to stimulate chronic eye twitching.

B. You no longer have time to do all of the above because it’s the last day of school and all of the above didn’t exactly work, so you’ve resorted to Plan Z in preparation for the next school year. Already.

A. Even though you’re a million years older than you once were when you couldn’t wait for the Last Day of School, you still remember that the Day After the Last Day of School was a very special day that meant you’d lay in bed as long as you possibly could waiting to feel that feeling you’d waited for all year. You know. The, “IT’S SUMMER AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL!” feeling. The one where your days stretch in front of you, yawning with possibility. Evening Boardwalk

B. Since The Day After the Last Day of School is Tuesday this year, and that’s normally a car pool morning for me, see the first “A” above.

A. You’ll finally, finally get to see your wannabe artist son’s art portfolio knowing it will make you smile, appreciating his ability even though the world wants to browbeat artists, guilting them into thinking that begging on a street corner spouting formulas and quadratic equations in Spanish will gain them more handouts than painting or playing a violin. Okay, so an electric guitar maybe?

B. I’ll finally get to maybe think about possibly considering looking in his backpack, hoping against hope that there are no apples in the bottom, left to ferment for weeks. But if there are apples, I’ll be reminded that sometimes apples do fall far from the tree, and that is fortunate.

Happy Last Day of School!

The effect of Paradise and marine layers on golf.

I think by now you know that I have a “maybe like – sorta meh” relationship with this palm-laden place I begrudgingly refer to as Paradise. I know that there are many cities I could live that pale in comparison are much more interesting, but my grousing is about more than the monotonous weather that draws people here.

It’s about mindset — as in the mindset of many long time residents and other self-elected expert representatives of the region as a whole. Somehow, as large as this city has become over the years, the only thing that ever seems to matter to visitors is the weather.

So why am I on this particular toot this morning?

Continue reading “The effect of Paradise and marine layers on golf.”