A cherry-plum tree is right outside our bedroom window—so close, you can almost reach out and touch it. On Wednesday morning when we looked out, on the delicate branches that are contrasted with beautiful deep purple leaves, we spied a bright green caterpillar. If they came in sizes, this would have been an extra-large. Curious, we looked around the tree and sure enough there was its twin just a little higher up on another branch. Having discovered a matched set, we felt like it was our lucky day. Cheryl named them Catia and Claudio—after all, they are Italian. (more…)

It was some sort of modern day eco party that was pretty spectacular. Evidently thousands were invited unbeknownst to us. There was more than enough room for everyone to either sit down or flit around—their choice. Drinks were plentiful and unlimited while there also seemed to be an endless supply of goodies to eat. No fights broke out as the day of drinking wore on. (more…)

Fear is an ugly emotion!

In fact, you could say that it’s perhaps the most insidious of all human emotions. It would surely win hands down in an old-fashioned repulsive emotions contest, if there ever was such a thing. You may even recall the famous quote from our revered President, FDR who said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He made that comment in his inaugural address some 80 years ago, but we still don’t quite understand. Maybe it’s time to reconsider. (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Simone and Alessia arrived around mezzogiorno, noon the other day for lunch with us in the country. The sun was bright and the air was clear with that unmistakable fall crispness. We hadn’t seen them for over a year, so it was especially fun for us to have that time together to sit and talk awhile. And even though we enjoyed our conversation, there was a bit of a distraction that occupied most of our attention. As you might have guessed from their pictures, they were not alone! (more…)