May 29, 2009

50 Lessons of Life - by Regina Brett

Two things happened this morning that got me thinking about life. (Again!)
1. I got an chain email on 45 life lessons (written by Regina Brett for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio.) from my friend Annette. The title of the email was 7%, meaning that this small percentage would really pass on the email. Usually I am in the 93 percentile.

2. I read the post in Martin's blog about a major accident in a small community and the impact on the people there.

The second spurred me to be a part of the 7% but instead of email, I'm passing it on here. I underlined my favorites...what are yours?

Regina Brett's 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on
by Regina Brett
Sunday May 28, 2006, 10:13 AM

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here's an update:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don't ask, you don't get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

This might just sum it all up -- Make every day count!!!

Tell me which ones meant the most to you....

May 28, 2009

Worth 1000 Words - Front Door in Locarno

Worth 1000 words, Locarno
Posted by Romancing Italy, Worth 1000, Locarno

Rounded the corner of a quiet back alley in Locarno and ran smack into this. The detail is incredible.

May 25, 2009

Andrea Bocelli at the Coloseum for Abruzzo Victims

Andrea BocelliThe Coloseum is illuminated in an ethereal blue and the voice of Andrea Bocelli is caressing the air, sending out vibrations of love. The orchestra from Abruzzo is in concert to benefit earthquake victims.

I am always moved by Bocelli's voice and especially as he sings in this romantic and seductive language. I am touched even more so because of the reason this all came about. The quake is no longer a headliner but it is true there is still a need.

If you want to contribute, please check out The National Italian American Foundation website that covers all information and methods of payment (which are tax deductible).

By the way, he is going to California in June...to San Jose on the 6th and Hollywood on the 7th.

He is now singing "Mamma" and I am told this is probably one of the most famous songs of Italy, probably one of the most loved.....for almost 89 years. I see Italy written in every note.... and there is an Italian right here belting it out with Andrea. Yes, this is my Italy.

(Photo courtesy last.fm)

Perspectives - We are all Different

It's Monday, Memorial Day in the States and a quiet day of reflection for me in Italy. Even though my springtime allergies have raised their ugly sneezing heads, I wanted to sit outside and write and this was my thought for today.

Many times on a holiday such as this one I would spend countless hours working on various projects at my house. Then at the beginning of the work week we'd exchange the question,

"So how was your weekend?"

I'd respond with enthusiasm at the memory of my accomplishments, giving an account of what I'd done only to hear something like, "Oh... good for you" and they'd walk away.

I know this just didn't sound like fun to many people, actually downright boring. Really, I can't say I blame them! I could have been at the beach, a BBQ, my beloved mountains, on my motorbike...anywhere but home working. But I never noticed the long hours and I always felt a "good tired" because I was doing something I absolutely loved.

We are all different, viewing life from different perspectives and my friends soon came to learn that what they perceived as a cross to bear was really a rejuvenation for me. (I am sure many still thought I was incredibly boring).

I would never say they've "never experienced the pleasure of working on something they valued" but Masterson's quote certainly emphasizes that what we love to do will never seem like work.

Perhaps I can change another saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" to "One man's work is another man's pleasure".

"Some people see taking action as work and work as a form of pain.
These are usually people who have never experienced the pleasure of working
on something they value." - Michael Masterson

Find your passion!


May 23, 2009

Italy, the Madonna and a Special Month of May

I just discovered that the month of May is special for Italy. At least for those who are serious about church activities.

Yesterday, I was sitting comfortably in a soft chair on the balcony enjoying the warmth evening air and relaxing after a very busy day. It was nice to be still.

A drove up, "Want to go for an aperitivo at the lake....?" (A 25 minute drive for a drink...I instantly felt lazy.)"...">in moto" he jingled the bait and I bit.

Before long we were sitting at the edge of the lake at the Imbarcadero, staring at the colorful Isola San Guilio and ordering drinks. Then we switched plans and decided to stay for dinner. The weather was wonderful, the view unbeatable and well, there was nothing at home to eat.

On the way back, much later than expected, we slowed at one junction where there was a collection of cars at the side of the road and the Polizia Municipale parked in plain view. At first I thought it was an accident because I knew there were no buildings in the area.

An officer waved us by and I was at full attention to see what had happened. There at the crossroads, near a small shrine, a smiling priest was greeting people. They came as they were, casual or dressed up, parked their car on the side of the road and walked up to where he stood.

Curiosity led me to ask A's mom and I learned that May is dedicated to the Madonna and that every single evening in May people attend mass. Perhaps this also takes place for Catholics in the States, but I am not aware of it. I have to admit that this exhibition of dedication is yet another reason why I love this place, even if I don't subscribe to the same faith.

May 22, 2009

Projects - Making a New Wardrobe Look Old

With the arrival of the warm sunshine, also came a long 'to-do' list but sadly not a surplus of energy. I picked up the flu about 2 weeks ago and am still fighting the darn thing off. I rarely got sick in the States so of course my only deduction is that my blood isn't a match for the Italian bug.

One of my projects was painting a wardrobe and true to my character I wanted it to look old.

Here it is in the raw.

The new wood took on an old look with a gray color wash rather than a paint. Inside, because I still wanted to have some color, I again used a wash with a red base to get a rose tint that goes well with the gray. (This reminds me of the color scheme in my old kitchen)

I loved the doors the way they were, even if they were stained in some places, but that is to be expected of something over 100 years old. Considering that, they were in pretty good condition.

I completely happy with the outcome...just one problem. We can't get it in the room!!! It's been a while since I heard so many expletives strung together(toned down because I was present).

Sereno, the carpenter, took the measurements and swore there was no need to make it in two parts which was our original plan. "No problem. It will fit"

What he didn't take into account...the door from the outside is not lined up at a convenient angle with the door to the room so there was no room to maneuver in the corridor.

Setting up the lift.

On it's way to the 3rd floor (2nd floor in Italy as they don't count the ground floor)

Free ad for Peterle Traslochi.

Now, it's sitting out in the balcony taking in the sunshine. This weekend, it gets cut in two, I get to retouch the paint job and then it goes to work!!!

May 20, 2009

The beginning of a Garden

Now that it is supposed to be getting sunnier, we planted up a small area at the side of the house. It is perfect for a vegetable garden, out of the wind and gets sun almost all day long.

They've grown up quite a bit and I would have liked to take a photo of them now instead of using this one from some time ago, but the area has been overrun with tools and materials to pave out a space where we keep our wood. In other words, its a mess out there.

We've planted tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, parsley, lettuce and a type of spinach. The strawberries were there from last year and they are already forming into a nice little crop.

Gardening has always been a passion of mine. Another challenge I am running into is getting acquainted with plants that survive this extreme weather.

May 19, 2009

This Crazy Northern Italian Weather

What crazy weather!

Yesterday as I happened to be standing at the window gazing out at another dreary gray day, I saw something fall from the sky. And then another. One by one, large bullets of rain were leaving dark splotches on the stone courtyard below, picking up pace so that the space in front of me had turned a pale white. Just for fun I waited at the window for one dry spot I'd chosen to turn dark with saturation and I felt like a kid.

Moments later the torrent stopped and I heard the car enter our driveway. A was astonished that it had rained...just 2 minutes drive down the road to the next town, the world was perfectly dry.

It stormed on and off during the rest of the day with flashes of lightening and ear splitting thunder. Borgosesia at a five minute drive away was still enjoying sunny weather but after I was there at around 4pm the weather drastically changed and the town turned white under a cover of hail. This is May!

The weather report for the rest of this week is to be scorchingly hot...and it already promises to be so today. At 8am it is already 25C outside.

I'm ready! And I'm going to take my motor out for a little spin. We both need it.

May 18, 2009

Vatican Museum Photos Sampling

Vatican Museum entranceCeiling of corridor at Vatican Museum

The corridor was covered with artwork...the ceiling was an amazing color and the walls were painting after painting of the different cities in Italy

Painting of Tremiti islands, corridor wall Vatican Museum Italian countryside in ancient times, Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum artworkdetail on wall murual Vatican museum

The mix of all the vivid colors in many of the paintings was captivating but one of the painters who has become a favorite of mine is Caravaggio who plays with light in an amazing way, with a dramatic shot of red somewhere to make things interesting in his mix of color.

Vatican Museum wall detail

Intricate craftsmanship of fireplace mantel Vatican Museum Vatican Museum Resurrection theme

Deposition by Caravaggio

Vatican Museum courtyard

May 15, 2009

St. Peter's Basilica and Square, Vatican Italy

A couple of years ago I spent some time in Rome and took these photos at St. Peter's Basilica and the Pantenon. I have mixed feelings about the city because a place can be affected by different things and a main one, relationships.

At the time a friend was visiting me who was at the end of one relationship and trying to unravel the mystery of another love affair...with a Roman. I saw the city through the eyes of a couple, not altogether a bad thing, but it stings a little when you (meaning me) are also nursing a broken heart and the Roman is singing love songs on a hill over the city lights at midnight to your friend.

I can laugh about it now and I am glad she had such a magical experience but I was doubly mad at the time. Four of us had dinner (he brought a friend to keep me from being a third wheel) and I mentioned to my friend that I didn't want to dance or walk after dinner. I confess my feet were killing me in new boots I'd recently bought. So what did she choose to do?

We went for a nice long walk in Piazza Navona and I was ready to throw myself into the arms of the roman lover's friend and beg him to carry me out. If struggling to walk without seeming to be uncomfortable, no, in pain, wasn't enough, I managed to catch the heel in one of those lovely cracks in the uneven cobblestone.

And a 'by the way', when my friend was being so romantically serenaded that evening, it didn't help that the roman lover's friend joined in the chorus....

Some of what I failed to appreciate then I can see again now as I look up my old photos. (I notice I never posted about my stay in Rome).

The museum and it's fabulous artwork is next....


May 14, 2009

Angels and Demons, the Lancia and Rome Italy

One TV advertisement leads to the discovery of another Italian 'quirk'...which leads to the discovery of the film Angels and Demons...and a walk down memory lane in Rome.

My attention was riveted to the TV...

...a car races through obviously Italian streets... music urgent and compelling, creating a sense of impending doom...a shot of a driver behind the wheel of the car, concentration etched in every line on his handsome face...the words "sacred and profane", "love and hate", flashes of gunfire, a fresco crumbling, and more cars moving ominously together....

"One angel - 200 demons". A commercial for Lancia. Clever. I was disappointed. I thought is was an upcoming movie. Not long after I ran across an article on the filming of Angels and Demons in Rome. Wait a minute....so there IS a movie.

Again I had the feeling of being somewhat backward in Italy but this time I can't blame my language barrier. Where did I miss the previews for this movie that opened here on Wednesday? I asked my favorite source of all things Italian, A, and was told that movie previews are rare on TV - those are predominantly aired on the RADIO!!!!

I can't believe it because for me, 'hearing' people in part of a scene is nowhere near as intriguing, absorbing, motivating, whatever, as 'seeing' a clip from the movie. And since movies are a visual treat, why not preview in the same manner?

Oh well, I don't have the answer to that but now I know why I've been in the dark about so many new movies...and now you know I very rarely listen to the radio.

Interesting Angels and Demons Trivia

Banned filming of Angels and Demons at St. Peter's BasilicaPhoto: St. Peter's Basilica

The Vatican declined a request for permission to film Angels and Demons on location at the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica and Square so filming for these areas were either done at another church or on set in Los Angeles.

According to Production Designer Allan Cameron they had more than 20 people visit and take as many photos of the chapel as possible before being told to stop. From those photos, they recreated the detail from the mosaics on the floor to the paintings on the walls.

Tom Hanks drives into Piazza Navona and leaps out of the car...and onto the set in LA. Cameron's job was to make the transition look seamless.

Specially made Lancia models were flown from Fiat's Cassino plant in Italy for the LA filming of Angels and Demons. Then they were shipped back to Italy.

The Panthenon is over 2,000 years old, constructed in 31BC, and is one of the best preserved buildings of its age.

Castel Sant'Angelo, Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria Vittoria are among the other filming sites in Rome.

Since this is long enough I'll walk down memory lane next time.

Check out all this and more at the Angels and Demons official website and info on the Lancia's inclusion in the movie here.

May 13, 2009

Worth 1000 - Baby Birds Nested in our Backyard

We feed them and they, in appreciation, leave a multi-colored mess on the balcony and courtyard below. Often, they also find a niche to build up a nest and raise their family. Just outside my window, I heard little voices and here is what I discovered.

Five backyard baby birds

May 11, 2009

Baby ducks vs. Babies

Now why aren't human babies equipped at birth to take care of themselves like these little ones?

These unfortunate ducklings apparently lost their way and ended up stuck behind an iron grill. Two duck hunters (of all the people) fished them out and now they are sitting here trying to figure out how to escape.

By the way, this is only 20 seconds of a preening that took almost a good hour to be done. After watching a wriggly, squirmy and incredibly helpless 19 month old getting his diaper changed, I wonder why we weren't designed likewise.

May 8, 2009

Top 10 April EC Visitors

Hot in Singapore
Internation Musings
FickleMinded-A Life That Is Less Ordinary
Czech Off the Beaten Path
a malaysian abroad
Every Man A Giant
Tom's Cats
Chaos Tech
Time Less Images
Life After Work

I'm so happy you all stop by to visit. I've been away for part of the month so I haven't been around often to visit. I'll see you all on your blogs soon.

May 7, 2009

Hike to Cima Bastia...the Cross on Monte Fenera Piemonte

Cima Croce View of cross from the houseFinally, FINALLY, I am getting out and hiking. And it's not just because the weather has not been cooperative. I have just not made it a priority. This area is filled with hiking trails, some of which start just outside our property!!!

From our house, I see a a landmark cross on the hill in the distance. It stands on Monte Fenera which is a Natural Park in Piemonte. By the way, this is also where the white storks have been seen (by park rangers of course), as well as the rare and antisocial black stork. Can you see the cross?

We left late in the day as we wanted to catch another "Motor GP Rossi show", this time at the race track in Spain. I'd like to say that this was the real reason we drove halfway up the hill, but I'll have to admit, I am not in shape to start the hike from the bottom of the hill. One day...

We drove from Valduggia to Colma and picked up the trail #772 that headed up the hill. There was a short cut which took us past an old village, abandoned and in ruins but still visited by some who come for the God spot.

The trail led us through patches of helleborus or what is commonly known as the lenten rose. Oaks and silver birch were everywhere along with chestnut and of all things, towering wild cherry trees. A kept quizzing me on the identity of different trees, but because my head is about as hard as a nut, I think I will get it right only in about a lifetime.

Old stone mountain homes of Cima Croce PiemonteOld mountain homes of a bygone era were made only of stone and without any wall treatments on the inside. Basically, this was it. Because of the cold winter months, the windows were tiny. Surrounded by these tall trees, they weren't missing out on any views!

An average day was hard, rising before dawn to care for the livestock and work around the house. When it was the season to farm, the young men trekked back and forth to the plains below to work on the land. When it was time for harvest, they stayed below until the harvest was done and then returned to their homes here in winter.

During the winter, the livestock remained enclosed in the lower floor while the family lived above benefitting from the heat generated by the animals.

I huffed and puffed the rest of the trail until it thankfully popped me out near the crest. To the right was the Oratorio St. Bernardo, an old 18th Century chapel that is still used today by a few.

Up until the beginning of the 70's, the festival of St. Bernardo was celebrated on the first Sunday of August. After mass, a wooden statue of St. Bernardo was carried down the hill as far as the cross of Colma after which each person participated in a traditional lunch.

The views of the Alps are amazing from this area as well as from the cross.....which was the destination in the first place. We passed back across the trail we ascended and walked up a small hill to the cross.

The view of the Alps. I think you can still ski at the higher levels.

View of Borgosesia and the Sesia river.

The cross at Cima Bastia.

May 6, 2009

Worth 1000 - Brickwork House Le Castella Calabria

House Le Castella on Romancing Italy

A drive-by shot that caught my attention. The intricate brickwork design was worth closer attention.

Romancing Italy Detail of house near Le Castella

From the grass and the boards, looks like the project is on hold.

Brickwork Wall Romancing Italy

But the driveway is incredibly well kept.

Dog at house near Le Castella

So is the dog on the front porch. I think he was waiting me for to enter and make his day more interesting. (I saw him just as I turned to leave.)

May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Cinco de MayoI know that today in the States, there will be groups of people frequenting many mexican restaurants to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Funny...although I never went anywhere to celebrate, here I am missing the feel of the festivity.

If I even wanted to have a margarita, I have no idea if they would/could make one for me at the local bar. I'll have to ask the next time we go. Just for curiosity sake.

Also for curiosity, I had to find out why on earth there is a Cinco de Mayo in the first place. If you think it is for Mexican Independence, think again.

So even though I am not exactly in the midst of all the fun, here's to wishing you all a great Cinco de Mayo.

A Stroll in the Streets of Athens

Finally, a moment away from the group. I walked along the streets that suck in the masses of tourists that come for the Acropolis. I spied some spices that I quickly bought before heading for a stroll out of the tourist section.

One of the many jam packed streets filled with trinkets and souvenirs of the Acropolis and Greece in general. In addition to spices that I haven't seen in Italy, I saw some sweets that I used to eat when I was a kid.

The local fish and meat market. Not exactly an attractive place, but more of what I wanted to feel.

And then I found some quiet streets where I bought a magazine to glance through over a drink.

An interesting doorway.

From the thick layer of dust on the bike I think it should now be considered wall art.

A small byzantine chapel in the middle of modern Athens. Some jerk tried to "offer" to take my photo with my camera but took off when he saw a couple of police coming our way.

This is not one of the officers, but one of the guards at the Parliament building. The changing of the guard is a hoot. Check it out below.

This is part two of a video on youtube.com. I'm afraid images of white storks come to mind. And instead of preening themselves, they have another do it for them. Picture perfect at the end.


May 4, 2009

Photos of the Acropolis in Greece

An imposing position to have a temple. View from the city below.

The concrete sea of Athens lies below. I am sure it is amazing at night.

The theatre of Herod Atticus likes below the Acropolis. It is still used for classical concerts, ballet and other concerts (Yanni for example).

Pillars at the entrance to the Acropolis.

The maidens of the Erechtheion. These are replicas; four of the original Caryatids are in the Acropolis museum. If I understood right, the fifth is in a British museum.

Detail work. Headless but still beautiful

At the rear of the Parthenon with my friend Lidia.
There was a nasty cool wind that buffeted us constantly. Do they show that in movies set at the Acropolis? Perhaps a different time of year, but hey...on an open hill like that....

Have no idea what this is as I didn't hear, but I think it is beautiful in its stark difference to the city around it. If anyone knows...let me know.