Yesterday, I walked through the picket gate and casually glanced to my left, where something caught my eye—the light blue ceramic ball floating above the ivy bed.
When we first moved into this magical house some 20 years ago, we decided to fill it with old things, befitting its centenarian status. On weekends, we scrounged the dusty corners of local antique shops in search of finds. One bright Saturday afternoon we found an old lightning rod, like the ones that used to be perched atop houses and barns. We were flooded with fond memories of our roots in the mid-west—the land of grand thunderstorms and crazy lightning. In western Indiana, we actually used to take our kids out for drives during dramatic storms to watch the light show across the theater of the flat fields. They were fantastic! (more…)
I sat down at the computer—completely in the moment, and a word unexpectedly popped into my head—spontaneity. “Why not write about that?” I thought. “Okay!” You are now reading the words that flowed onto the page from that stream of consciousness.
The word spontaneity triggered an image of my friend from 40 years ago, Jed Free. Yes, that’s a real name! I have no idea what ever happened to him, but he was clearly a “free” spirit, so to speak, an unusually independent person, a loner of the nth degree. He only spoke on rare occasions, and when he did it was in a rather cryptic but meaningful way. Mostly, he just silently shuffled along with shoulders rounded, as if clutching his latest Bob Dylan album to his heart—always looking down in the vicinity of his frayed gray sneakers. I can’t say that I ever really made eye contact with him, but in some strange way, I have to admit that the guy actually changed my life. (more…)
One of our favorite morning walks in California takes us through the gardens of the beautiful Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts. You never know what you might find around each wooded turn because they’re constantly changing the outdoor sculptures, providing that element of surprise. One day we found an artist constructing a fairly large house out of sticks. Another time we came upon a new fortress in the front yard made entirely from stacks of paper (even more interesting after it rained). Then there were the strange heavy, unexplained floating objects. And let’s not forget the creepy giant cocoons the size of a small car, we found laying by the path up the hill. But today, our sculpture hunt was a little more challenging—like up in a tree! (more…)
We like to play a little game called Follow That Thread. It’s really simple and great fun because we never quite know where things are going. It’s also good exercise for slowing down, paying attention and trusting the process. It leads to the most curious things, but to make it work, judgment has to be suspended—accepting whatever shows-up. It feels like wandering through back streets and alleys to discover new places and things.
Here’s an example of a thread I followed a couple of weeks ago. (more…)
Yesterday we spent the entire day in Florence.
Every once in a while, we have so many things that need to be done, it just takes all day. There’s no way around it. So we dedicated Monday from 6 am to 7 pm to make everything happen. Yes, we said 6 am—as in the morning. But we’re happy to report that we not only made a clean sweep of it, but enjoyed an extra surprise along the way. Little did we know that our burger day had finally arrived! (more…)
Sometimes a pair of shoes becomes way more than just a pair of shoes!
About 12 years ago I bought some rather odd looking slip-ons, and wow . . . they were way more comfortable than I ever imagined! As we eased into pre-tirement, we decided to move away from public view and dress codes, into sole-full comfort in a casual sort-of way. And at that transitional time, we happened onto a pair of brown leather cartoon shoes, and I was hooked. For me they symbolized a life-style change and a different way of being that meant the world to us at the time—and still does. (more…)
Late Monday afternoon, we drove along Viale Gramsci on our way to the movie. Suddenly, something special happened. Slowing as traffic piled up at the light, we stopped directly behind a real live Woody Wagon. As you might imagine, from that point on, the day was no longer normal. (more…)
We went to the Teatro Odeon the other night to catch the new movie called A Dangerous Method starring Keira Knightley, Vigo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender. We were excited to see their depiction of the two pioneers of psychotherapy, Freud and Jung because we’ve always been fascinated with their incredible contributions to the field of psychology. In fact, many of the concepts, therapies and ideas we take for granted today were products of their fertile early 20th century minds. (more…)
Ah, the ever popular stuzzicadenti, toothpick. Yes, they are readily available the world over. In any grocery store, a hundred can be had for a few coins. But the picking of one’s teeth shouldn’t be limited to processed slivers of wood. Oh, no! For those of you who are already a bit confused by the title, we’re not suggesting that istrici, porcupines have discovered the secret to perfect teeth. Certainly not! Most of them have nasty overbites. But, we are saying that the curious gift of the porcupine can make a difference in our dental hygiene, while making the world a better, tidier place. All we have to do is start using quills instead of toothpicks when the judicious picking of i denti, teeth becomes necessary. Let us lay out the argument and then you can decide for yourself. (more…)
Belonging is really important to us, although we’ve never been joiners in any traditional sense. We never had a desire to be Italian, even though we joke about our quest to become “true Italians.” That, of course, could never happen. Nor do we intend to become naturalized citizens even though we could. However, what we’ve always wanted from this journey is the chance to dig deeply into the real life experiences of another culture. We wanted to go so far in, that we’re changed at the core of who we are. Becoming and belonging takes years, if not decades to happen naturally. After years of personal investment, conversation and shared experiences, we begin to really “belong” somewhere. Italy is like that for us. Our lives have become delicately interlaced with the lives of others, in ways we don’t really understand—yet it matters. (more…)