Monday, November 30, 2009

Photos from Barcelona......

These are the tip of the iceberg but you get the idea?
They skin the heads of the annimals for sale so you will know it isn t some other kind of meat.
The day at the park was quite the celebration and reinspired me to have a project to put similar benches inlaid with mosaics at our duck pond in Jacksonville.
Having the time of my life = truely!

Cannes France

It was so good to board the ship and cast off for France.
We met our friends from the Boqurea for dinner last night in the grand dining room.
The husband is VP of development for his Alllma Mater and the wife has been a BSF leader for years.
It is amazing how many Christians I meet in these travels!
Brad Pitt couldn't make it so he sent George. (sorry I can't flip these photos!)
Wish he had sent Joe insted!
Off for the sights, sounds smells and yes_ tastes of Cannes.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Welcome to Barcelona! We got here Friday and promptly walked to the Bouqueria (sp?). It is the largest and finest food market in Europe. There was a Catalyn festival going on and Tapas plates were 1 Euro and local wine was 1 Euro a glass.
I can't download my photos on this hotel computer so go to and search Barcelona. It really is that stunning! At our table we met a lovely couple from Iowa that will be on our cruise. They are in their late 60s and travel quite a lot. Can't wait to see them onboard.
Yesterday we hopped the double decker bus and went to Park Gueil. The whole city was there because it is a magical place and the day was sunny and warm.
Last night we had Tapas in our old neighborhood from the last trip (Gotic) and then walked to the outdoor Christmas market in front of the Cathedral. I bought some tiny ducks to remind me of home. At the resturant we asked the owner if he was the cook. "First tell me if you liked the food"he replyed. People are light in spirit and warm.
Today we board our ship and head to Cannes tomorrow. Brad Pitt will probobly be waiting impatiently looking at his watch for me.
Such a trip. I have never in my life!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Packing Up and Heading to Barcelona

Today was the last in Venice. You know how it is -- you spend most of the last day anticipating and prepareing for "moving day".
The weather turned blustery and so heading to warmer days sounds good to me.
We leave our apartment at 6:30 am (12:30 am your time!) and lug our suitcases to the water bus -- go to the real bus station and take a bus to the airport -- and then board a Spainish airline for Barcelona. Would you please come help me with my bags??? Big tip in for ya!

The first two are a creation out of choclate. It has mountains a cave a house ducks and oh, yeah -- baby Jesus. How s that for covering all of the basis?
The bridge is the Realto and it is such a popular spot.
Buona sera!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh, That Crazy Tina Turner....

Found out today she was here 10 days ago having a grand old time at Harry s Bar. She is such a "me wanna be". Really seems like she is always where I m going or been. The subject came up when I heard what I thought was her in a shop. The shop owner told me it is a girl named Annastsia. Got to upload her from You-Tube. I feel better about turning 60 when the young girls are aspiring to be like us!
The cathedral in San Marco Square is something the likes I ve never seen! And that includes St. Peter s in the Vatican.
What will heaven look like? Now my mind is boggled.
Here is a narritive on the photos:
1. Top of the church in San Marco Square
2. Sure you live in Venice -- but you have to do chores anyway.
3. Rush hour in Venice
4. and 5. The outside of the San Marco Church.

Katie, Paula, and Adel -- I went back to the coffe shop where Omar Shariff s illegitimate son worked and alas - he doesn t work there anymore. He s probobly in America hunting down the tip we forgot to give him.


Venice gives a whole new meaning to "Getting there is half the fun."
The churches are beautiful but they tend to be filled with "FOJs" (friends of Jesus) and FOMs.
Those two have been stuck in the corners while all of the old dead rich men are holding forth in the spotlights. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. As if that is going to give us a token for heaven? Don t think so.
I grabbed a copy of "Fresh Wind Fresh Fire" to read on the trip. It is the story of the Brooklyn Tabernacel. What a wonderful contrast between true faith and the dead churches here. Over here the churches are mainly concert halls and museaums.
I once heard a preacher preach on the topic of "What would it take for you to loose your faith?"
It seems the horrors of WWII disheartened the Europeans to the point that they lost their faith in God. I can certainly understand but it has given me pause to think:
A realtionship with God is like a marriage.... We don t know we are seriously committed until the horrors and our wosrt fears are faced. That is when the relationship is settled.
As I stand in the glory of these buildings that were for the most part built with pure intentions to the glory of God I am humbled. Lord -- let me see you in the ordinary and grand and help me to stand. He is a good God.

Not Kansas

The captions:
1. "I m sure these are legal on Weight Watchers"
2. " This sure as heck beats the Beaver Street Farmers market!"
3. Sorry I can t rotate my photos......"I wait and I wait and still you don t call your mother."
4. "Just a little something we poped into the front yard" A fountain with embelishments from Micheal Angelo.
5. I sure pray I can bring the grandkids back here for The Grand Tour someday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On to Venice....

We boarded our train and spent the next 4 and a half hours riding throutgh Tuscany. I swear I saw Frances May s house Bromasoeil 1,000 times. So beautiful. Very green for this time of year.
WE arrived at the train station and schlept our bags to our apartment.
A dinner of vegtable soup on the squre and good night Venice. Here are some shots of our little home.
We are not in a touristy area and it is quiet.
A darling German student helped me find this cafe.
Mary tried to find a market this morning and no kidding -- got caught in the middle of a violent protest!
She returned to the apartment rattled. Won t go in that direction today!
She might be on the evening news. Wonder what the protest is about?
Maybe they didn t like the fashions in Milan?
Off to San Marco Square. Our landlord provides boots for us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Avevaderche Roma....

Here are some photos of yesterdays adventure:
Have you ever wondered what you would say if you met the Pope
After seeing the oppulence of Rome I ve decided I would say
"Buddy can you spare a dime"
We had dinner with a lovely German couple. We all have more in common than difference. We talked about parenting, jobs, travel and the general state of the world.
Travel makes the worls smaller and kinder.
Good night Rome.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pinch me -- Pinch me

Hello from Rome. If you are wondering what that sound is -- it s my "dogs (feet) are barking"!
Took the double decker bus all around town today and got some unbelievable photos that I will post tomorrow.
The Coliseum, The Vatican, Fountains galore, and The American Embassy.
Off for a dinner of fried squash blossoms and pasta. OK a glass (or 2 ) of wine too.
We train up to Venice Tomorrow afternoon.
Hope the weather follows us!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Roman Holiday....

The day walking the gardens was perfect!
The weather is in the 70s and the sun is shinning.
The Borghese grounds are huge and there is a duck pond at the entrance. I felt right at home. What a memory. Last night we hd dinner in a resturant that our hostess reccomended and it was delicious. Pate, ratatouli, and nutellla pie.
After dinner we went to the Trevi Fountain and tossed our coins. Hey, it worked last time because we are here.
The city at night is magical. Getting there really is half the fun. We find the Romans helpful and more patient since there are far fewer tourists in the city this time of the year.
This morning we are up and out to the outdoor food market. Photos to follow -- this cafe doesn t hve the connecter for my camera.
What a dream of a trip. I might be 60 but I m so full of optimisim about the adventures ahead!
(Don t you wish I had spell check?)
"I m here -- Wish you were beautiful!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Morning From Rome sorry everthing is so small my blog has lost the ability to set a size of photos or words.

Well, we woke up in Rome and it is a beautiful day.
I m off to Borghese Gardens and Villa. I hear the art is wonderful and thought I d spend some time outside in the 70 degree sunny weather.
Mary took off to see the Pope but I was just there a few years ago and I didn t think he d want to see my saintly self again so soon.
The idea of this trip is to revisit some of my favorite places and not be in a hurry.
This afternoon I ll go to Santa Maria del Popolo church.
My friend Katy Towers said it is a must. A painting of St. Peter being crusified upside down (he didn t feel worthy to die in the same manner of Jesus) moved Katy so much she said -go see it so I will.
Both sights are in our neighborhood so I will keep this day simple and close to home.
The travel takes it out of this old girl!
No spell check on this computer for it is calibrated for Itallian. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let's Just Say.......

I knew I was getting very excited about my trip when I sprayed my hair with deoderant this morning.

Monday, November 16, 2009

You're Only 60 Once and If You Do It Right -- Once is Enough!

When I turned 60 Joe asked if he should give me a big party. My heart's desire (if I was going to get a Cinderella wish) was to go back to some of my favorite places in Europe.
I leave Thursday morning for Rome! From there I'll train up the coast of Italy to Venice and then wing my way down to Barcelona. Each city is a magical place that I often revisit in my dreams. Now I return in the flesh.
I'll try to upload photos along the way on my blog. Hopefully there will be Internet cafes along the way.
I don't know how many good walking years this old grey mare has left in her so I'm thrilled to have this opportunity.
A bag full of Advil and I'm off.....................

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Something's Lost But Somethings Found In Living Day To Day

Joni Mitchell

My days have been packed with good things. The metronome has just been set too fast.
Last weekend we flew to North Carolina and then drove to Virginia for a "His High Places" reunion. My turn around from a board meeting at my house to the airport was warp speed.
When we arrived at the retreat I realized I had left all of my personal items in the bathroom at home. UGH.
I have had a life of forgetting things. My spices may be alphabetized and my closets orderly but my mind bogs down on departures.
I still remember leaving John Thomas at 3 weeks old in his bed and going to the grocery. "How is that new baby" the lady in produce asked. "Ohhhhh I'll be right back!"
The Bible asks: "Can a nursing mother forget the child at her breast? Even so your heavenly Father will not forget His own"
Well, Actually.........
But I know God will not forget.
And that is where I'm putting my confidence and hope.
He has a proven track record with "lost".
Today in church we sang "Amazing Grace" and I always feel grounded when we sing the part that says:
I once was lost but now I'm found....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Too Cool for School

I wasted a lot of my youth trying to be like the "cool" girls.
They were pretty (vain), only dated rich boys, and had lots of money. Their futures looked so rosy they had to wear shades (designer -- of course).
Over the years at reunions I've had the chance to observe how cool-ness worked out in their lives. Most of them live in the best zip codes and have all of the perks that money can buy but not many are "rich" from my sixty year old perspective.
God gave me a friend to observe and through her I've picked up the principals of being rich.
Don't look for a book at Kinkos by her on this subject. She's too busy livin' the life. When she didn't date the football star she got busy volunteering and met the most devoted supportive man to become her DH (dear husband).
When she couldn't have children she got busy helping women who were dying. One woman left two little girls behind and asked Sue to adopt them. She and Shawn did and now those beautiful young women are full ride scholarship scholars and they still run to her when they see her in public. How rich is that?
When she couldn't afford a house in the suburbs she bought a house in the inner city and discovered a church that is so creative and so excited about loving the poor into a relationship with God that they have a party almost every week to celebrate their good fortune. Those folks - not hindered by big house payments - had the time to tutor and spoil with love said children.
Her home is so winsome and lovely. Decorated with things others donate it draws in the stranger and friend alike.
If you haven't checked out her web site you are missing out.
Maybe, just maybe a little of her cool-ness will rub off by association?
We can only hope.................

The King is Dead

Today was All Saints Day. Our pastor shared some poignant stories of those who went to heaven this year and it reminded me that this time last year my Dad was dying.
I flew home to help him have the luxury of dying at home. It was a week like none I'd had so far. It was a week where I witnessed God's faithfulness and my humanity.
If I am the Queen of Fun my Father was the King.
He had the knack of making the ordinary a real occasion. He loved rounding up the neighborhood kids and making a big splash. Size mattered. If he could cram 17 kids into the convertible with the top down and crawl to the ice cream shop it was just the parade he loved.
If 12 kids would bring their wagons to our yard he would tie them all together, hook them to his riding lawn mower and snake through the streets of Bellemeade the King - Conductor.
Every night in the summer he would make a circle of 12 chairs in the front yard and sit in the center thrown chair. Over the period of several hours many walkers would stop and sit for a while. The king would pontificate over world affairs or golf or cars. I always saw the scene like those sped up videos of Grand Central Station. Before bed time each chair would have hosted at least one happy sitter. In the King's presence everyone felt interesting and honored.
While my Aunt (and Dad's favorite sister) was fighting a losing battle with cancer. Dad would take us up to the culvert across the street from her house and we would shoot bottle rockets into her yard.
Pranks were the language of love in our family.
During the days and weeks after his death we heard many stories and almost always the theme was fun adventures my Dad cooked up and had drafted his many followers into action.
You know after life is over I don't imagine most of what we did or pushed for will be remembered but the ripples of fun will be lasting reflections.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Location Location Location

Our nest has rarely been empty. To soothe my soul after JT moved on to college I adopted a gang of Freshmen at Eastern college just a few miles from our home in Philadelphia. They filled up our dishwasher, washing machine and lives with their laughter and drama. Four years later we stood in our drive waving goodbye after a graduation party we hosted for their families. I glanced over at Joe and he had tears dripping off of his chin.
"Don't worry Joe I'll buy you some more to take their place" I assured him and I've been a woman of my word.
Church interns, Americore volunteers, inner city Gap Year teacher's aids and now our neighborhood kids.
When we bought this house we were a little concerned that it has a shared driveway. Would that be too close for comfort? What about our privacy?
Little did we know that what was not written in the contract was a deal for the most dear adopted grand daughter.
She is the daily sunshine of our lives. When we have a dinner party she loves to set the table and prides herself on picking out lovely settings.
When Papa Joe mucks out the pond he knows he always has an enthusiastic helper and treasure hunter in the mix (you can't believe what comes up from the depths).
Holidays when we are away from family our driveway family shares our meal and tote life and love across the bricks.
We keep our back doors open to each other and think nothing of popping in in our PJs or leaving surprises on kitchen tables.
Today Clio turns eight and we can hardly believe what a beautiful and poised young lady she is becoming. We will host on our deck the adults bringing their kids to her party.
Our world is richer and bigger because we bought a house with a real estate flaw.