This blog is all about me - not my children, my job, my family. Just me. It's great to have a space of my own in the world! Thank you for being here and enjoy your stay!
"LIFE ISN'T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS.......... IT'S ABOUT LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN."
Today I start my 2015 December Daily. I totally love this project. It is my absolute favorite of the entire year. December used to be my favorite time of year. Living in Key Largo you would not think so - it's still in the 80's here - it's not like we get a change of season or anything. My dad died on December 28th after a short but awful fight with cancer. I have never enjoyed December since then but I really WANT to. Know what I mean? I really want to go back to where since mid-November I was excited and looking forward to decorating, to cooking, to creating. I miss that feeling of wrapping up the year.
This year it's sad because it's only been 2 months since I lost my mother but I am determined to find joy in every day. I will see her again. It's just a matter of time.
So today I will work on my 1st day of December and will post it tomorrow.
What about you? How are you commemorating this December?
This is my third year doing this project and I love it. I truly do. For those of you who are not familiar with it, go to aliedwards.com and check out her blog. She has been doing this project for years and every year that I do it I enjoy it even more.
Yesterday I spent the day with my friend Jacquie preparing our pages for this project. The idea is that you do a page a day (or two pages a day!) and tell a story on each day of December. Ali does it through the 25th of December, I like to do it through the 31st. Just seems more complete that way.
What you do ahead of time are your foundation pages, that way every day is already started! All you have to do is add pictures (or not) and your story for the day. I was looking at least year's album and the album for 2013 and I am so glad I did it!
Tomorrow I will post my foundation pages so you can get an idea of what I am talking about. But please check out this project! You will be so glad you did it!
This year has just flown by. It ends so sadly with the death of my mom but many good things came with this year also. I think about that every day. God took my mom but gave me so much this year.
I am almost caught with The Documented Life Project - only behind two weeks which is great considering the past few months. I made a commitment to myself to do this project in its entirety this year and I am really glad I did. It keeps me focused.
Now.... I have the Ali Edward Story Stamps since it started and am WAY WAY behind on that! I love them!! It's just time seems to get away from me. I am hoping to get at least one or two done this week and will start sharing it here. Ali is such an incredible inspiration to document your life. I am so thankful of her.
Speaking of thankful..... No. I am not even going to try to do a gratitude journal this year... Just not enough time in the day.
How about you? Are you doing a gratitude journal????
On October 15 I flew to New Jersey to spend the weekend with my "crew". I was invited to Teri's new house for the weekend and I am so glad I went. It recharged me.
If you are very lucky you have people in your life who motivate you, who make you feel loved without saying a word, who make you feel valued and PART of something. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else but me but that's it in a nutshell.
Eileen Bellomo, Teri Flemal, Pat Tillery and I spent the weekend cooking, doing art, talking and watching movies and it was like a shot of mind vitamins for me. I will forever be thankful for these friendships.
Teri got us each two pumpkins to decorate. Her house
Teri's home is so beautiful and the area surrounding
it is also.
I always thought of New Jersey as dirty and ugly. Boy
was I wrong!
This place is amazing.
Eileen introduced us to a new tool that
does the loops for the beading!! I love it!
Pat taught us the coptic stitch. I already forgot it
but plan to use it!
Pat is such a great cook. She always has these
fabulous recipes for food that is not only good
Eileen is the salad queen so she makes all our
Teri just drinks!!!
We went and took a class blowing glass! It was really fun
and different. I don't think I would take this up as a hobby
but the pieces we saw were absolutely gorgeous. We each
made a small pumpkin which is great because every holiday
it will remind of this time together.
The weather was SPECTACULAR!
Teri's new house is beautiful. The neighborhood is also. Hmmmmmm..... wonder how she would feel about having me for a neighbor????
Beautiful evening view of the Jersey Shore.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was hanging with Cody!
Check out Eileen's owl mask! Absolutely gorgeous!***
My mom would have been 80 years old yesterday. That's a long time and I am blessed to have had my parents through adulthood. But wow, what a miserable day I had yesterday. My father's death was so awful with the cancer - and we lost my mom in 4 days so I guess her death was so much better for her. But for some reason I just can't get my head around the fact that she is dead. So strange.
I have lost my mother. We buried her on October 1st. It still does not seem possible that I lost her so quickly. She went to the hospital while I was in Europe. Nobody told me. It's mom - she has been in and out of the hospital a million times. Nobody wanted to ruin my vacation.
By the time I got home on September 23, 2015 she was no longer speaking. I don't know whether or not she could hear me but I really hope so. I had spoken to her on the phone while I was in Europe but I never got to say goodbye. It bothers me. A lot.
She didn't have much pain. I didn't let her. I gave her meds every time I even THOUGHT she was in pain. She died peacefully. She was 80 years old. She had a very good life. I am grateful.
It is so sick - this whole death vigil. It tears you apart, it is horrific. We all just look at her.. Is her breathing worse? We raise our voice to her constantly trying to elicit a reaction, a response... Are you ok mom? Mom? Are you in pain mom? I love you Mom. Can you hear me mom??? MOM!!!
The desperation grows along with the fatigue, the anger, the circle under your eyes. You second guess every decision we have made. Should we make them insert a feeding tube? Are we starving her to death? Did we give up too soon? Isnt her color better today???
My daughter feeds her juice and high vitamin milk so she doesnt "starve".... This is all too much!!!
I have put numerous dogs down when they have been dying and in pain. We dont sit around and watch them die! Why do we have to do this over and over again with the people we love?!
Just met with hospice. It's now official. My mother is dying. I sit here by her bedside listening to her struggle to breath. So much pain. The morphine knocked her out. I may not be able to speak to her again. It's surreal.
She has been sick so many times. We have been told so many time she would not make it. Yet this is still a shock. In two months she went from just being old and frail to stage 4 liver and lung cancer. This morning she was crying from the pain and asked me when she was going to get better - it broke my heart. She has no idea that she wont. That she is dying.
She will be going home with hospice today for the last part of her journey here on earth. I have to believe - I DO believe - that she will be reunited with my grandmother, my father and my uncle... People she loved and who loved her. I have to believe that I will see her again or this would be totally unbearable.
We both love Barcelona. It's a very very busy city with lots to see and do. Mostly we walk around, sit at cafes and drink coffee, sangria, beer, wine... whatever strikes our fancy, and eat some of the wonderful Serrano ham that I can't seem to get enough of. Bernie went to a miniatures store and bought some great kits. It was great to see him like a kid in a toy store. Then I get the call from my daughter. My mother has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver and lung cancer. She has been in the hospital for the last 10 days because she was having trouble breathing. Nobody told me until today. The diagnosis was given today. It's amazing to think she was in the hospital for several weeks in July and nobody found it! It kills me to think that all her aches and pains over the past two months - the ones we kept blowing off because she has been such a drama queen all her life were real. Stage 4! How the hell did that happen without us knowing? This woman goes to the doctor constantly. And nobody knew? Nobody suspected? How can this happen to BOTH my parents? By the time they found my father's cancer it was too late. He only lived nine weeks. I can't go through this again.My poor mom. I tried to talk to her on Skype but she is not conscious. It is killing me to be this far away from her. De ja vu. When we were in on a cruise to Canada in October 2010 we had to rush home because my wonderful father in law had a stroke. He died on November 6. It was devastating to be that far away but we were able to make it back the same evening. From here, it's not so easy. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Tuesday, September 22, 2015 Went out walking again today. Bought some fantastic art supplies. Some I was familiar with and some that are brand new to me. I especially love the new graphite pencils from Portugal. I had never seen or heard of them before. I tried them at the store and they are truly fabulous. Too much money. Oh well, you only live once. We had to go to El Corte Ingles, the Macy's of Spain, to buy a huge suitcase. Cost us $300! I had no idea we would need so much more room. We are hoping to reduce the amount of suitcases (we brought 4) to 3 so that we don't have to pay as much at the airport. Sitting in a restaurant, trying new foods when my brother Albert calls me. My mother has taken a turn for the worst. They don't think she will make it until Friday. He tells me I should come home. But how??? Not only do I not know what to do, I don't have the money to do anything. I am desperate now to get to my mom. She can't die before I get there. She just can't. I need her to know I am there. Kristina called me on IMO so I can see and speak to her but she doesn't seem to hear me. She wont respond. I have a total meltdown. How the hell can this be happening??? Who can I yell at? Who can I blame? My brothers tell me they viewed all the xrays and scans from July and there was no cancer. That her cancer is so aggressive that in two months it has taken over her body. How the hell does that happen? How can God allow this to happen to my mother too? Wasn't it enough with my dad? Wasn't his death horrible enough? I called my travel agent. Told her I need to get home. She will take care of it. Kristina and she make arrangements. I leave tomorrow at noon. Will be in Miami by 4:00 pm Miami time. My mom has to wait for me. She has to. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday, September 23, 2015 We get up very early in order to have some coffee before the driver picks us up to go the airport. I had called the front desk last night and explained what the situation was and how we were unable to get ahold of the tour agency in order to be picked up today instead of tomorrow. He got my information and said he would do what he could. He was so nice. He called me back shortly and told me that he had taken care of it. The change had been made and driver would pick us up today at 8:00 am. Such a nice young man. I am so grateful. I feel like I'm in a fog. I don't want to think about what is happening with my mother but can't seem to think about anything else. I am grateful I can't call or be called while on the 9 hour flight. I am terrified that she will die before I get there. I don't know if I can live with that. Not my fault - not anyone's fault. Had I known I would never have come on this trip. I would have spent more time with her instead. But I can't live with the idea of not being able to talk to her, of letting her know I am there and that I love her. Yes, she knows it, I know she does. But I KNOW that my father heard our voices until the moment he took his last breath. I take comfort in that. If my mom dies before I get there, I just don't know if I can live with that. I'm so scared right now.
This morning we were up early and docked at Barcelona. We had a private driver waiting for us and he brought us to the Melia Serria Barcelona. A fabulous hotel in a wonderful - though very quiet - area. After taking a little nap - well, okay, four hours - we took a cab to the Ramblas at the Plaza Catalunya. We have been to Barcelona before but this area is totally different than the one we went to in the past.
The crowds are the same - thousands of people from all over the world strolling up the Ramblas which is like a very long plaza (many many blocks) full of vendors and musicians. Shops on both sides and of course the Spanish ice cream Bernie has been talking about for the past 12 years!
Found a Hard Rock Cafe which always make me happy. Have cute pin for my journal!
Came back to the hotel early to catch up on my journal. I am so behind! I finished VENICE! That's it. Oh well, there is just too much to do and see!
I will admit that I am getting very homesick. God help me I actually miss my children!
We took a tour through Palma de Mallorca and Valdemossa. Palma de Mallorca is absolutely gorgeous. The mountains, the homes, the views - totally stunning.
But Valdemossa? Oooohhhh la la (or was that France?)!!! I absolutely LOVED Valdemossa. Known for its pearls, this little town on top of the mountains outside of Palma is a story book village with it's beautiful homes with overflowing flowerpots everywhere; it's cobblestone streets; it's vendors and cafes.... I could spend a month here just breathing.
When we got back we had dinner on the ship at a Japanese restaurant complete with a "fake Japanese cook" from the Phillipines. They did a little show on the grill. The cook was hilarious and the food was good. A great end to a great cruise.
We pulled into Port in Cannes early on Friday morning. I had purchased an excursion for Monaco and MonteCarlo and was really looking forward to it but Bernie just couldn't do it with his back and although he told me to go without him, I chose to cancel it and instead just get off at Cannes and see what we saw.
So beautiful. The first sight of Cannes is stunning. I can see why everyone speaks of Cannes as if they were having a religious experience. It is very very pretty. I would say it looks a lot like South Beach but on the French Riviera! Didn't really see too much in Cannes. Just walked around the shops and took pictures.
Cannes is obviously a playground for the rich. The beaufiul homes, the stunning hotels, the Ferraris and the Rolls Royce's sort of give you a clue that this is not Kansas, Toto.
I am not even sure I am spelling it correctly. That is the port where we stopped on Thursday. We went on very comfortable buses and traveled an hour and a half to Florence. Funny, it is nothing the way I expected. It is very pretty - I really liked it - but somehow I pictured it totally different.
We spent some time in Florence. Very pretty streets, great shops, beautiful cobblestone streets. We spent a couple of hours walking around Florence and had lunch at a very picturesque cafe. The food sort of sucked but the ambience was totally italian! So who cares if the lasagna tasted like paper with cheese?
Did you know the writer of Pinnochio was from Florence? I didn't either! But he was and Pinnochio is as big in Florence as the apple is in New York.
We then got back on the bus and traveled an hour to Pisa - a small town with very pretty homes. It probably has nothing else but the church and the Tower of Pisa - NOTHING - but I did get some cute leather purses!
The leaning tower of Pisa is so cool. It really is leaning and it's amazing that the it is standing at all. But a little anti-climatic. I expected to be in the middle of a beautiful Italian square. Nope. It's just there, surrounded by a wall, like something that belongs somewhere else and was somehow left behind.
By the time we got back to the boat we were exhausted. In bed and asleep by 9!
Left Rome today on the Norwegian Epic. This ship is HUGE! 3500 people plus 1800 staff. Very clean, very well fun, very impressive. We arrived at the ship early - around 12:00 and left at 7:30 for Livorna, Italy. Livorna is in Tuscany and we are scheduled to do a tour of Florence and Pisa.
We had dinner tonight at something called Cirque and Dinner. It was absolutely amazing! Unfortunately they did not allow any pictures but what a spectacular show! Some of these girls absolutely have to be made of rubber in order to do what they do. There were contortionists, high wire walkers, balancing acts and of course the trapeze. The ring leaders was absolutely hilarious. I really enjoyed the dinner tremendously.
I will admit that I would enjoy these cruises much more if they were not on the water. The ocean and I have aa love/hate relationship. I get sea sick just LOOKING at water so I walk around as if I have a stiff neck - not looking out any window. It's really funny but even when I have to speak to someone I have to turn them around if their back is to the water! Ugg.
As soon as I get into my room - mind you it has a balcony or I would shoot myself from the claustrophobia - I pop a sleeping pill so I don't realize the darn thing moves at all (it probably doesn't but the mind is an EVIL, evil thing).
What an amazing day! Went to the Vatican this morning. The art and the architecutre was absolutely stunning. But I have to say it was not the "moment" I expected. I didn't FEEL it. Make sense? St. Peter's Basilica is amazing. Yet...... still..... however.... I "felt" more at the other basilicas I visted throughout Italy. The Vatican seemed so "commercialized" to me. I am a practicing Catholic, I expected a "deep experience" when visitng the Vatican but honestly? Nada. It is more like a museum, a tourist trap, then a holy place. Very disappointing. I know that it is sacriligious to even SAY this, but I felt more of a "religious experience" at Graceland. Maybe it was because of all the shops inside of the Vatican with signs saying everything for sale was "blessed". I don't know how to explain it but it just was not the experience I wanted or expected.
After visiting the Vatican I went on a tour called Piazzas and Fountains and that is exactly what it was. We went to some absolutely stunning plazas with amazing fountains. We of course went to the Trevi fountain which unfortunately was under construction but still stunning. To think that it was the back yard to a private home is shocking. What a BBQ we could hold there!!!
Went to the famous Spanish Steps. No idea why they are famous or what is supposed to be so impressive about them. Nothing except some steps with 20,000 people sitting on them. Yes, it is beautiful. You sit there and everything around you is beautiful. But I just didn't "get it" I guess. The Valentino home - now THAT was impressive. Absolutely beautiful.
Plaza Novana, very beautiful. The Italians love their statues and their fountains!
We ended our time in Rome with a dinner show and dinner which was fantastic and a night bus tour of the City. Exhausted but so happy to have been here. Rome truly is an amazing city. One day when I come back I will dig somewhere. Who knows? I might find an old home!
Okay, so Rome is growing on me. Very quickly. I still prefer the elegant beauty of Venice, but Rome has so much rich history.
Went to the Colliseum today. Like everyone else, I have seen it in pictures, documentaries, etc. But I never imagined the size! It is overwhelming. Walked through it today and did like my friend Jacquie recommended, closed my eyes and imagined first the 25,000 prisoners of war working on builidng this incredible place. The foot holds they carved into the pillars of travertine helps you to imagine the strenuous, back-breaking effort it took.
Then I stood in the bleachers and could "see" the gladiators. The ladies dressed in silks and gowns (at least on the first floor), the "commoners" on the very top nose bleed sections (nothing much has changed - you know this if you go to concerts!). The gladiators coming in through the life door, many leaving through the death door. I could hear the noise, smell the fear and the blood.
For not only did gladiators fight to impress their rulers, but men and women sentenced to death were murdered in the most barbaric and cruel ways in this structure. Torn apart by horses, beheaded by soldiers.... Whether for huge or small infractions, dying in the Colliseum had to be an atrocity to watch. Yet watch they did. The Romans were brilliant people but unbelievably cruel. You can hear not only the dignataries and royals, but the commoners cheering as these poor people were torn apart by animals. Were they just celebrating the fact that it was someone else and not them being killed? Or did even the lowliest of commoners possess the cruel and sadistic streak of the Romans? I wonder.
The Roman Forum was a sight to behold. Many of the buildings are only pillars and concrete, but many of them still stand today. A beautiful church whose entrance remains as it was in 70 AD but whose "core" has been renovated and is still used for special occasions. The Roman City Hall - a testament to the arrogance and self indulgence of the Roman culture. This area still has the original cobblestones and lava rocks that were placed there thousands of years ago. It was fascinating. I have a very vivid imagination and sat on a bench, closed my eyes and visualized what that area must have been like back when the Romans ruled. The beautiful fortresses they built for the royal families, the slaves and prisoners of war serving them...
So here are a couple of "DID YOU KNOW's?
- The Roman Colliseum gave us the term "arena" as it is currently used. The area in the Collesium used for the entertainment of the Romans was always covered in sand. Once the spectacles were over, they could "shovel" the sand out of the Collesium along with the blood, body parts, etc. Sand in latin is "arena" (also in Spanish by the way), so that is how our own arenas came to get their name. (Tell your friends and they will think you are a genius!!!)
- The Roman empire was built over itself many times over. In 1932, while preparing to build a building near the Colliseum, they found, underground, a buried structure which is where the Gladiators met before their battles and where the animals were kept to go into the Colliseum. From this discovery, it is known that underneath the buildings that stand acroos the street with pizzerias and other shops, is a structure, a tunnel of sorts, connecting this structure with the Colliseum.
- The Forum has a huge church which is in fabulous condition. It's door is WAY above the street level - way above. So, query: Were the Romans super athletes who catapulted their way into this church or was this bottom part of the church excavated at some point? We can assume of course that it was excavated. The burial grounds for so much of Roman architecture still lies beneath the surface.
- The Romans invented concrete!!! I did not know this.
After leaving the Colliseum and catching my breath from all the movies going through my head, we went to a church (I will get the name as soon as I can find it) which is built on top of another church which is in trun built above an old mint, which is itself built upon a jail which is known to be built upon buildings of the republic. It was discovered and excavated in the early 1900s. There is a river that runs beneath all of this which is the cause for the sinking of the first 3 buildings. The conditions in which these buried treasures remain is truly remarkable and speaks louder than words for the efficacy of the Romans.
As I said yesterday, after the soft beauty of Venice, Rome seemed harsh and dirty upon arriving. Today? Not so much.
Rome really does have a magic of its own. Where Venice is soft and romantic, Rome is rich and historical. Where Venice is like a southern belle, soft spoken and delicate, Rome is like a New Yorker - loud and in your face! (Sorry my New York friends, but you know it's true!).
We went for a long walk today. I attended mass at Santa Maria Maggioli Basilica. So beautiful. Majestic is how to best describe it. The omnipotence of God is present in every corner and in the faces of the Roman faithful. It was a wonderfully spiritual experience.
After leaving the basilica we went to Plaza de la Republica. An amazing fountain surrounded by shops with prices that would make your hair fall off. Maybe I am just not "cool" but I have to tell you that I would not be caught dead wearing most of these things. LOL! It may be very "chic" and very "Italian" but very "strange" too!
I am hooked on a drink called "spritz" - pretty much a wine spritzer. Not really sure what's in them. Wine and apple something or other but they are quite good.
Met and had conversations with many people (I can get a rock to talk to me) and am still digesting much of what I have heard from the Romans. Will share this with you when I get my thoughts in order.
While walking around, we realized that our hotel (Gran Hotel Palatino) is about two blocks away from the Colliseum. Yes, THE Colliseum. So cool. So beautiful! We will be taking a tour of the Colliseum tomorrow. We will also be touring some other places I can not pronounce. I have not posted any pictures on my blog because for some reason my phone (which by the way I totally shattered today when I dropped it) will not transfer pictures to the iPad. No smart asses, it was not caused by it shattering today. It has been that way since I got to Europe!
The Romans are passionate, intense people who have very high emotions about just about everything. If you tied their hands to their bodies they would be mute!!! Not much different than Cubans! LOL! We are getting along just fine!
Left the beautiful city of Venice this morning on a train for Rome. Went to the wrong station!! But no worries - I am always ridiculously early. The train ride was long (over 3 hours) and not very comfortable but the view - at least most of it - was worth it.
After being in Venice, the first glimpse of Rome is not very impressive. Dirty and busy - crowded with graffitti everywhere. The weather is cool here also which is fantastic.
Staying at the Gran Hotel Palatino and the area is quite nice. The hotel is fabulous. We got here a little after 1:30 pm, slept until 5:30 and spent a few hours at an outside cafe just watching life go by.
New smells, new sounds, new feelings. Totally different ambiance from Venice but not in a bad way. Tomorrow we start our tours and I can't wait to see what makes Rome "Rome".
What a beautiful experience Venice has been. Such an amazing City. But a City saddened by its plight. I have had the opportunity to speak to many Venetians and without exception they are angry and "fed up". Their City is no longer their own. Their history, traditions and lifestyle have been trampled by the millions of tourists that come here every year. They have - as one man told me - been forced to accept "this" or starve. For 95% of the Venetians tourism is the only way to make a living. Meanwhile, they have no peace, no privacy, no life.
We ended our visit to Venice with a beautiful gondola ride. A wonderful gondolero spoke to us and lamented the Venice of today. He told me - as others have- that in 20 years there will be no venetians left in Venice and the entire City will be nothing more than an "amusement park for tourists".
It saddens me tremendously to see Venice through the eyes of its residents. Fiercely loyal venetians who, quite frankly, resent what has become of this great City.
Tomorrow morning we leave for Rome. I take with me beautiful memories and a tremendous respect for the Venetians.
Every day there seems to be something new to see in this wonderful City. We slept in late today. Stayed in bed until 2:00 pm!!!! Our internal clocks are all screwy but it seems like this City doesn't even start to get sleepy until midnight.
Inquiring minds want to know:
1. How do people in wheel chairs get around Venice? I have yet to see one ramp. There are numerous little bridges connecting the streets over the canals but no way for anyone in a wheelchair to navigate them. I've only seen one wheelchair and it was nowhere near a bridge so I really don't know.
2. I have seen only one cat in all of Venice. Do they not have cats or do they use them to filli n their wonderful raviolis?
3. So many beautiful dogs - all on leashes - all with their parents picking up after them on the street. Don't they have any homeless doges here?
Tonight I had a fabulous drink called sgropino. Oh my god!!! This thing is amazing! It's sparkling white wine, lemon ice cream and vodka. It is probably the best thing I have ever drank.
People watching takes on a whole new dimension in a City like this. The languages, the styles, the clothes, the shoes, the attitudes..... It's like the United Nations on St. Mark square. I wish I could sketch. I would be doing so much of it here.
Working on my journal - so many things to include and write about. Tomorrow is our last full day in Venice. We are going to Rome on Saturday. Tomorrow I will walk the sreets of Venice and breath it all in to keep in my heart until I come back.
My inner clock still thinks it is in Key Largo - throwing me for a loop. Woke up early today - wanted to see the sunrise but missesd it by a few minutes. I got to see Venice waking up. The majority of the shops were still closed but some were open with wonderful cafe latte, lots of local Venezians talking and the smell of fresh bread everywhere you go.
It was 57 degrees. You could smell the canals but it is not an unpleasant smell. Quite the contrary. It was spicy and cold. The Gondoleros were not present yet; the gondolas parked and covered waiting to be boarded and become part of the experience of so many people who come to Venice - the City of Romance - to ride the gondolas.
I went for a walk and was met with so many "good mornings" (bon journo) that I felt like part of the City. I was smiling as I walked marveling at the fact that I am here.
I guess I should take a Venetian mask home. They are sort of creepy but so iconic to Venice. So many to choose from. Maybe I need to extend my stay so I can make up my mind.
I stopped at a shop that sells beautiful pens and had a long and interesting conversation with the shop keeper. A man about my age - maybe a little younger. He was born and brought up in Venice. When I complimented him on his beautiful City he tells me that it is in fact beautiful but that it is very hard to live here. He tells me that before the second world war there were over 200,000 Venetians living in Venice. Now there are less than 20,000. He says they have lost their identity and their traditions - their way of life. He explained to me how Venice's entire lifestyle has been lost. That it has become a "Disney Land" intended for tourists, not Venetians. He didn't say this in a bad way - quite the contrary - he seemed sad. He went on to tell me how every other City in Italy has a "tourist area" - Rome, Livorgno, Tuscany.. - but that Venice is totally a tourist area. There are no amenities for those that live here. There are very few schools, doctors. Education has suffered at the hands of tourism as has the family in general. I have been thinking about this all day and have seen Venice today through those glasses and I understand what he told me.
Selfishly we come here, we fall in love with this beautiful City and we want to come back. Those that are born here must leave. It is too hard to live here. So sad.
The flight over to Venice is long and exhausting. Boring. Sleepless. But oh the excitement of knowing I will be landing in Venice!!!
You land in Venice and it's all amazingly simple. You get your luggage, you pick up your City Pass, you get on Bus No. 5 to the waterbus (No. 2) and you get off at Rialto. Lugging luggage is exasperating. I hate it. But oh the sounds and smells of Venice. Just as I always imagined it would be. We walk these beautiful historic streets and finally find our apartment. The apartment is gorgeous.
A nap. Definitely need a nap. Get up and run out the door - well, not really, but that is what I WANT to do!! I can''t wait to get outside and see and experience Venice.
The cacophony of voices, of so many different languages. The streets of Venice are crowded with people from all over the world. The Venetians are definitely outnumbered but happy. They clearly live from the tourism industry.
Gondolas! So beautiful. So VENICE!! The italian GONDEOLERO singing beautiful songs for probably an obscene cost. The tourists kissing and taking selfies of themselves in this most iconic of tourist traps. Everyone happy and smiling. Why not?? They are in Venice and many of them, I am sure, are like me, in a country they have always dreamed of visiting.
Everything is absurdly expensive but oh so exciting! Wine? Sure,, why not?! Then the bill comes..... WTF? Yep, you are definitely in Venice. Have to try the pizza - excellent. The wine? Not so much.
St. Marcos Square - I'm HERE!! Wow, it is exactly what I thought it would be. Hundreds and hundreds of people talking and laughing, dancing and taking selfies. Go ahead, have a private conversation, chances are nobody near you speaks your language any way. The flower "pushers" putting flowers in the hands of the women and then chasing them for money - Oh? You thought the rose was free? NOT! Young children running in the square chasing each other while the bands compete to play fabulous music and the waiters entice you to pay what amounts to your mortgage payment for wine you don't really want. But hey! You are in Venice right? So drink wine my friends!!! As long as your credit card works - drink and be merry!!!
I should be so excited today. My trip to Europe starts on Monday. But sadly I will have to put my baby Lili down today. It breaks my heart. She was born in my house and is 16 years old. But she is clearly suffering now. Not eating. Very weak. I have to let her go.
An interesting class, 31 More Things (the second part to 31 Things) is a one word daily prompt. It's meant to inspire you to write. I love writing so I decided to do this class in an 6x8 journal with daily simple layouts - mostly digital.
Of course I have not started yet (never on time - even for my weddiing), but so far there have been 2 prompts:
Both of these prompts lend themselves to a million different stories. I guesss how I approach a particular prompt will depend on how I feel that day, what's going on.... many things.
Stories. That's what this class is all about. Stories. I hope I am able to tell stories that will be honest and real. Stories that may be funny, silly, serious, happy or sad. It is what it is.
Tomorrow there will be a third prompt. So I better get my butt in gear!
I am 4 days from my trip to Italy and I still have not packed or done anything to prepare for the 3 weeks I will be away. It seems like everytime I decide to start preparing something happens that takes my attention and time in another direction. A clone? A hologram? This is ridiculous!
Another Ali Edwards story kit. I will be starting this one tomorrow. This prompt really inspires me for many reasons. I have never felt I really had any "roots". I always wanted to live in one house for my entire life - raise my children and grandchildren within the same walls. But that was never the case. We as children were never brought up in the same house; never lived for more than a few years in one place.
As an adult I was married very young and divorced. Something I never wanted. I wanted to marry and stay married my whole life to the same person. To raise our chilren, our grandchildren together. To get old together.... Unfortunately that just didn't happen.
I love my family - always have. I was raised with my mother's family and never met my father's family until 1998. Never had the "roots" I've always wanted. Didn't really know anything about that side of my family for many many years. Having met them, I see so much of me in them. So much of them in me and in my siblings, my neices and nephews. The connection is undeniable. The "roots" identifiable.
And with my own family - my children and grandchildren - I have started to plant roots of my own.
This will definitely be an interesting prompt/project for me.
I have watched this movie at least a dozen times. No matter how many times I see it, it makes me cry. Can there be a love like that? Can there be a love that consumes you and takes you to a place of wholeness? That completes you so totally? This movie always gets to me.
As a very wise woman just reminded me.... there are many firsts in my second marriage. Our first grandchild; my first time being a mother to children who were not mine; the first time a man ever truly loved me unconditionally and respected me.
Thank you my sweet Jac for reminding me of what is important.
As my friends know, I love Ali Edwards. I love the simplicity and the depth in her work. It's not just about pictures or pretty embellishments - it's about words and feelings and well..... the Story.
This new series - well it's not really NEW - is fabulous. If you subscribe to the kit and the stamps (which I do) you get these wonderful things to work with. But again, it's really not about that - it's about the words.
The first one I am doing (I have all of them and am only starting them now) is FIRSTS. Firsts in our lives are always so meaningful. One way or another. I love this prompt but have mixed feelings about the stories.
Most of my "firsts" were with the Father of my children. My first marriage, my first home away from my parents, my first child, my first car....... so many firsts! But the fact that he is no longer my husband does not change the fact that so many firsts were with him. I know this is something that my husband would not like to read but it's real and it's true and it's what it is.
I was married at 18. He was my first crush at 8 years old. My first kiss at 10. My first lover when we got married. My first child. He taught me how to drive my first car. My first law office. He was also the first thing I had ever given up on. My first failure. My first time feeling so raw and so unwanted.
I have such a hard time thinking of any "firsts" after my marriage broke up. At least firsts that were so meaningful.
I have always taken my blog seriously as a way to document my life and to, well, vent! For some reason I have drifted away from blogging. I am back and hopefully will stay!
The Keys 4 Art Retreat was in March and was spectacular. We had a lot more down time and really did much less art than usual but it was fun.
Keys 4 Art 2016 is already on a roll! We have already rented a house and this time in Asheville, North Carolina! We have been in the Keys for 6 years and all wanted a change. Besides, I think part of it is to get me away from my home and office so I can stay more focused on the retreat and I love my crew for that.
The law firm has undergone some serious changes and is facing some serious challenges. We are now down to two partners, Bernadette and I, and have so me financial challenges as a result of the breakdown of the original firm, but we are up to the challenge and working on building up a new and "improved" firm!
Most important of ALL, my son Charlie is CLEAN! He has been clean for months now and working his way up to a new life for himself. I feel like a million pounds have been raised off my heart and my life and am so grateful to God for his mercy.
My law partner, Bernadette, gifted me a trip to Italy! It has always been the one and only trip on my bucket list and she knew that. Her kindness and generosity is totally overwhelming. I am going on September 7! I got from Miami to Venice for 4 days, then to Rome for 4 days, then on an 8 day cruise to France, Livorno and Spain. I am so excited it's all I think about!
I have been getting ready for weeks.
New suitcases (check)
New clothes (check)
Art supplies (check)
(See a pattern here? LOL.)
So I will be posting along the trip and sharing what I know will be a wonderful experience.
Wow! I cannot believe it has been so long since I posted anything! It's been a crazy couple of months, but thankfully, it has been mostly good "crazy". I started and I'm actually caught up on the documented life project. Last year I started it, and then just let it go. This year I plan on completing it.
I have three wonderful Joanne Sharpe classes that I have purchased and really want to do. I have a couple of classes I have purchased from The Art to the 5th Academy that I want to complete. And of course, as always, I do all of Ali Edwards' classes.
But this weekend, was just fantastic! I attended a three day retreat in Delray Beach with Dina Wakely and Dyan Reavley. I admired both of them before, but now I am totally in love with them, as women and as artists. Not only are they insanely talented, but they are two of the nicest women I have met in a very long time.
I had so much fun at this retreat and learned so much. I think I actually learned more in these past three days than I have in a year. I went with my best friend, Jacquie, and with my cousin Sarah who came from Cuba to attend this retreat with me.
I took some great pictures I will upload tomorrow. And I will also post some pictures of what I did. I just wanted to get these thoughts down because I am really really glad that I went to this retreat.