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

Sell Your TV and Come To The Cinema

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…

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“The patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her old legend’s association with lightning, and also of mathematicians.”

Thick with humidity, the skies unleashed torrential, awe-inspiring rain, thunder and lightening. Our first morning, we woke at 4am jet-lagged, and realizing we would have to move to a more accessible apartment – 500 year old (or more?) Roman steps too daunting. But we had to wait out the storm, and it was glorious. Lightening even struck right in the square below our open window.

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But Santa Barbara loomed above, protecting us. We laughed, drank espresso and ate sweet, fresh pastries gathered by Paolo (during a tiny window of less rain) and the dismay of wrong lodgings faded away, replaced by excitement.P1010065blog P1010062web

Do not even ask about the Zebra.

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At exactly the right time…sun…and the streets dried in minutes. Off we went, just around the corner – home Rome with a lift.

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Perfetto.

Lisa’s View. ❤

Sell Your TV and Come To The Cinema

Usually our travels revolve around teaching. This trip is all about learning.

Instead of heading back to VanTech with the rest of the kids, our nephew Max is taking his ninth grade year off to explore the world… We’re not sure whether to call it Home Schooling, Unschooling, School of Life, the Grand Tour or just a plain old good time but we’re excited to see where it all leads.

Our dear friend Sheryl is a talented artist with a passion for Renaissance painters. This is her very first trip abroad. All of us are new to dealing with the often frustrating issues and surprise perks of mobility-challenged travel: How the heck do we get up those stairs? Hey! We get to go to the front of every line! No access?!?! Free admission! Experiencing the world from this new viewpoint is a humbling lesson in strength, faith, patience and perseverance.

There never really…

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I have been talking about sketching in Janet and Robert’s garden for awhile now, and we made it happen today. I rattled over the country roads and up a steep drive on my beast of a ShopRider, basket full of sketch stuff. I thought I might spend a couple of hours, drawing the clusters of grapes on the arbor, but it turned into a most wonderful afternoon – the three of us gathered around a still-life of freshly picked things, either from their garden or a local stand.

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We had food and a shade umbrella and the blue sky was streaked with horsetail clouds.

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Five lovely hours we all sat and drew, the murmur of India Runner ducks in the background.

So delightfully peaceful.

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Pups, friends and family…

 

My core philosophy. I’m not always very good at it… more practice is necessary!

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I remember asking him, “Since you’ve stopped making art, how do you spend your time?” And he said, “Oh, I’m a breather, I’m a respirator, isn’t that enough?” He asked, “Why do people have to work? Why do people think they have to work?” He talked about how important it was to really breathe, to live life at a different tempo and a different scale from the way most of us live.

–Calvin Tompkins on Marcel Duchamp from Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews

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…that I love what I do, even though I sometimes – actually often – don’t know why I do it.

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…that I love where I live…

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even though it is not perfect…

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it is perfect for me.

And I have learned that perfect is gone forever from me in its physical manifestation, yet oddly enough..

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… I have acquired so much more

worth sharing.

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It is the time of year when the birds are in full voice and motion in my yard. Wrens, crows, tooheys, flickers, owls and eagles, hummingbirds and I can even hear loons in the evening. It is glorious… but inevitably there is drama. I’m not quite sure how this wren died last year, but the little body was in the back, and I carefully placed it under a wedge of turf and let it be. Months later, I peeled back the grass and sure enough nature had done its job. Nothing left but a clean, fragile skull. A little thing of beauty, which becomes a subject of artistic investigation, and then possibly an artwork, like these found feathers – sapsucker probably.

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Or a large painting, 5′ tall, from scans of a hawk skull that Kim found in the Yukon:

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…and then I start mulling over what kind of mail art I might make from these small precious subjects…

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Maybe it is time to start playing games with Canada Post again.