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I am trying very hard not to be disturbed by today’s event. After all, it is just another day of bloated pomp and circumstance.
Except, that it is not.

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I was, by fate, born in America to an American father. My Canadian mother brought me and my two brothers back to Canada when I was seven years old. By choice, since 1978, I remain a proud Canadian. But I don’t feel very perfect and my heart hurts today for myself, for good friends and relatives, and for this planet.

I roamed around the house awhile today, thinking many thoughts, some good and some unworthy. I scootered back to a (very) dusty, but beloved bookshelf, in a messy, unused room. I was only looking for Thoreau – to find this quote:

“When a man is warmed … what does he want next? Surely not more warmth of the same kind, as more and richer food, larger and more splendid houses, finer and more abundant clothing, more numerous, incessant, and hotter fires, and the like. When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now.”

I was looking for the fine Americans… the fine humans… that I know are out there.

I found, conveniently, prophetically, sadly, and hopefully – these books shelved next to each other. Aging pages, readings from my past.

John Boswell, died so young of AIDS.

bell hooks. Shoving racism and feminism in our faces. She knows.

Thoreau.

Helen and Scott Nearing. Vermont and Bernie know of their bravery and sense.

George Woodcock. I can still hear Naomi Klein at Sechelt Writer’s fest saying “Oh, you should give Anarchy a chance.”  With the sweetest smile.

So five Americans and a Canadian editor form my reading now. Five of the six are dead, their works left to me to glean for seeds for the future. Will it help how I feel today? I don’t know. These books speak of thrilling, important ideas and it isn’t easy to watch them fail, crushed by much more than one sickening orange man. I hope from looking at them again, I can find some encouragement, find the great thrill they once gave me.  And my own country has a sweet leader who thinks he can rule and fool the masses. He must be corrected. Much work of world importance is started, and many have been working doggedly for years. And that is as it should be. For me, here at home, I’m looking for ways to put ideals back on the rails. I’m nervous, and excited. I get to draw my own line in the plastic littered sand and say “No more”.
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Weren’t you bored with your hotter fire anyway?
Wouldn’t you rather be adventuring on life?

I know I would.
I know I am.
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I find many gifts from birds in my back yard. Being enclosed by Cedars, Maples, Fir trees and Alder, the circle of grass attracts quite a lot of bird drama and I have found all kinds of feathers. Even once, while wandering with the dog, my eyes to the ground, I discovered an entire tiny nest, carefully woven together with a shred of plastic construction tarp. Still perfect.

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But a few days ago, in my front yard, I was startled by an unusual visitor – a full grown Heron landed in the tangled mid-branches of the towering cedar tree, right next to me – perhaps only 10 feet above my head!! I think I might have said “Whoa – Hello!!” as it shifted and shuffled, and maybe something else like “Be careful there…” since it seemed a danger for long wings to be so tight in the tree. I know for sure, after gazing at it for a few eternal moments, I said “Could you leave a feather for me please?” Then it squawked and flapped and lazily flew.. away.

The next morning…..

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Heron Magic, if you ask polite. 🙂

 

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One moment I am out having a sketch and a cool beer on a hot day, the next moment I am back in my winter pants and snuggled on the couch.

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I regularly pull open the door to my little back deck, just to sniff the air and peer out to see what is happening. It can be six different types of weather between breakfast and lunch and if there are 10 seconds of sunshine, I am going to park myself in it.

Lately I have been setting up with scissors and images, using the long hours of strong light to do my crazy clipping.

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Scanning, printing, cups, birds, wings, things. Sketchin’ and clippin’. Clipping and sipping. Friends have various names for my back porch antics.

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What I end up sipping depends entirely on my mood. And it is always a good mood. 🙂

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If it all of a sudden flips to wind or rain or hail, not a problem. It is a very short wobble back to inside warmth. So short, in fact depending on the angle of the sun, I might just be sitting right in the doorway.

I love my tiny back deck.

 

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When the clouds roll away on a coast spring day, everything gleams with fresh intensity.

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I’m busting out the tubes.

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Sunshine on the back deck… finally.

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Storms, Birdsong, Light returning… all present.

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Favourite travel watercolours – lost since 2013!! – Found! Amazing what moving the furniture in the Thinking room  will turn up!

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Botticelli. Airy and graceful, like Spring.

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So Max proclaimed, and it was true. Also true is what Julie said to me back in Florence just a couple of days before we left to go home. “Oh, you’ll be happy to get home, but about February, on a cold grim day, you will feel a deep unquenchable yearning in your soul for Italy.” OK, maybe those weren’t her exact words, but very nearly. So, in an effort to recapture some whisper of the flavour of that time, I have turned my eyes to coffee. Luckily, I have many, many pictures of it to choose from.

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I dream of espresso, aromatic and sharp, but sweet. Sipped from thick, white porcelain cups. Even at the gas station, they would not serve a “To-go” coffee – Paolo brought it out in its perfect little cup with saucer and I drank it by the pump. It was all so delicious, every one.  But the best was in the piazza of Santo Spirito, or the Boring church as Max called it.

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I see his point, but I could never find it boring to sit on steps which felt the feet of Michelangelo.

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Max and Lisa

And I do long to go back……… I knew I would.

 

 

 

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Day One in Rome must have been a bit of an adjustment for my sweet, patient, globetrotting friends. From the second I clunked out the door my eyes were filled with the spectacle of light and texture and the astonishing age of ancient stones  – and I did not want to miss a single inch of it.

Our street, Lisa, Paolo and Max

Our street, Lisa, Paolo and Max

I probably took 45 minutes just to get to the end of our block – and not only because of the cobbles (have I mentioned the cobbles??) I couldn’t roll five feet without stopping for photos, and I’m pretty sure that is not the usual rate of exploration for my friends. But no one rushed me, and in fact we all found our rhythm – Max ranging ahead to scout, Paolo a bit ahead subtly directing Vespas and cars around us, and Lisa – well she was behind me. I have a feeling she didn’t mind too much (after the shock of slow wore off). I’ve seen the photos she took, and they are amazing.

So we snailed, and discovered, and uncovered details that quick movers might miss. Like the lions on the lintels.

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And street art.

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And….. coffee.

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So the poor scoot, made for malls – not battlefields, ran out of battery and one of my fears was faced on the first day. I don’t know why I worried, Max was a skilled and careful pusher and we made it back. I was perhaps a bit shaken and stirred, but so incredibly full of wonder, I couldn’t have cared less.

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Never will I forget the first day I was somewhere else,  somewhere so far from home… somewhere as amazing as Italy.

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It was all very fine, in fact extremely exciting, to wake up in Rome at 4am, have coffee with my companions and leap out into the day… Jetlag! World Travellers have Jetlag, and it is a breeze!!! One evening nap, that was all. So I think, It’ll be the same when I get home – a couple of funny days maybe. Easy.

Ha.

Well, I have been corrected. I had Grand Designs of catching up on all my posts, sketching reams of drawings, and beginning scads of paintings – all in the first week back. Instead, I wake up at 4am, wander around my sweet warm home in a grog, and turn into a bobblehead at 7pm every night. Nothing can keep me awake, not even a bright crackling fire or pups squashing me, not coffee, tea, a nice glass of Malbec or even the opening game of hockey season. Oh well.. at least finally today I managed to pull out an ink drawing I did from the bell deck at the Masseria and as I added colour, my mind flew back to Puglia.

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Cool October breeze, some sun and some rain, I’ll take it easy and soon enough I’ll be back to normal. I still can’t believe I did it. Drowsy weirdness is a tiny price to pay for such an adventure, mine forever now.

And, the good thing about being sleepy all the time – – my dreams are filled with Italy. Slowly, my blog will be too.

 

 

Lisa Marr’s vision, her sensitive eye never misses a thing.

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The Medici Chapel, The Bargello, The Loggia, The Uffizi, La Specola, The Duomo and a zillion other churches.

Michelangelos (and copies of Michelangelos and possible Michelangelos and what we believe to be falsely attributed Michelangelos and even some Michelangelo graffiti which was my favorite of all) and Donatellos and Bronzinos and Cellinis and Botticellis and Pontormos and one show-offy Jeff Koons.

Paintings and sculptures and frescoes and carvings and some truly creepy wax medical models from the late 18th century.

75 Virgins (and counting).

Rennaisance and Gothic and Mannerist and Medieval.

Otrarno and Santo Spirito.

The house where the Mona Lisa lived.

Blue sky and white clouds.

Churchbells.

Tiny hands.

Jack Russells.

Refugees.

Selfie sticks.

Sketching and taking turns reading The Catcher In The Rye out loud in the late afternoon.

Fig gelato and Pear/Ricotta gelato and Melon gelato and Peach gelato and Forest Fruits gelato and Stracciatella gelato and Pistacchio gelato…

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..plenty of time to catch up on the Masseria Love when I’m snuggled under blankets with 2 pups, rain on the roof and a nice warm fire…

but not yet…