Whenever someone says, “Would you like to see the villa?” say yes!

First of all, let me clarify. The term villa has been used and abused in recent years as people have tried to attach romantic charm and elegance to contemporary houses. Well, don’t let them fool you. Even the largest and most expensive re-creations don’t measure up to the natural magic and inspirational quality of an authentic villa Italiana. Just take one step into the century-old gardens surrounding one of those gems and you’ll discover a peaceful calm like no other—just relax and soak in each delicious moment. (more…)

We decided it was time to repaint the picket fence.

The curved pickets are pieces of sculpture—works of art. For hundreds of years those whitewashed points and curves have worked their way into our collective hearts and psyche as an integral part of the American landscape. Ours definitely needed a lot of scraping, priming and painting, but we were up to the task. It had been about 10 years and we knew pretty much what to expect. Or so we thought. (more…)

Highway 1.

Makes sense since it’s the first road you find after stepping ashore from the pacific. The bi-way hugging the coast of California from top to bottom is better known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or the PCH. We decided to take an inspirational winter road trip along that scenic route from San Diego to Mendocino . . . join us! (more…)

We have a little black and tan dachshund named Izzi-B. For 14 years now she has consistently searched out the highest possible perch on the sofa and that’s where she settles in to just look around to see what she can find, or sometimes (more often), to take a nap. For some reason, she wants to see the world from the top down, and I can relate to that. (more…)

We arrived in Indiana on a Monday afternoon. After a wonderful dinner at Piper’s on the southside, we drove to beautiful Brown County, where we settled in for a good night’s rest. The next morning a brisk walk seemed in order. In less than a minute, Harold single-handedly assembled the “motorcycle” from its pieces, which were casually scattered about the living room floor. (more…)

Sometimes Mondays are all about Tuesday.

What?! Are you confused? Don’t be. Tuesday is the name of our daughter’s chocolate lab. No, Iris does not work in research at Hershey headquarters in Pennsylvania. No, she didn’t adopt her sweet puppy on a Tuesday afternoon, but we do celebrate Tuesdays as double days. They become Tuesday’s Tuesday. So here we are on Monday, and my grand-dogger and I went to the beach. What’s so special about that? Well, nothing really . . . yet everything! (more…)

On a winter day in 2006, the old oak tree in the back yard came down with a devastating crash. It had faithfully stood there shading the entire house and yard for over a century, stretching its incredibly strong arms in all directions creating an intricate canopy of jagged dark lines covered in lacy green leaves. (more…)

Three brothers ran the local restaurant in Monteloro, called da Orlando, named after the most vivacious of the three. The ristorante occupies the entire “downtown” with a surprising quasi-Art Deco interior behind the traditional Tuscan facade. The site boasts a delightful valley view from the vine-covered dining terrace in the back. We had many meals in that favorite local haunt during the years while finishing our place on the hill. Orlando, being the most talkative of the three brothers, often stood by our table telling us jokes, stories and neighborhood gossip as he deemed necessary. He was so engaging and funny, it always felt like we should pay extra for the live entertainment. (more…)