Thursday, September 27, 2012


It's an annual affair.
Blackberry season.

But this year we've had an abundance.
The hedges and roadsides are dripping with blackberries.
Glorious fruit just begging to be savored.

 A single berry is a jewel, 
a firecracker popped into the mouth.

Which perhaps explains the bittersweetness of last night's pie...

Last pie of the year.
End of the season.

I licked the last crumb from the plate.
Every. Last. Crumb.

Boy, was it good.

Just the way I want to live my life,
aware and celebrating every morsel,
every single minute.

Never wasting it.
Licking every last bit of joy from 
life's abundant pie.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Europeans and what they taught me

Sometimes the Europeans seem to me almost larger than life.
And I'm not just talking about the ancient marble I saw in Naples' Museo Archaeological Natzionale, either.

I've always believed we're so much alike under the skin. 
We all want to be loved. We hunger, thirst, have dreams and hopes, disappointments and sorrows.

No, I'm not talking about that.

I'm talking about the ways in which culture has made us different.
The Europeans are just plain different than us.

And it makes for great people watching.

Sunbathing, for example.
In Europe, people are far less worried about body image than we are.
Maybe that's why they can pull of a chic flair better than I can.

The beaches are rocky, but they seem to be able to sun like lizards, comfortable in places Americans would hardly consider suitable.

Italians feel no guilt about stopping to relax and enjoy the moment.
I love that attitude.
Perhaps I should feign being just a little bit Italian... 

And the French insistence on the finest, most colorful ingredients, chosen just a bit at a time...
They would never put up with stodgy foodstuffs made in a factory.

The French love their farmers as I do mine.

Southern Europeans are so different in their relationships with one another than we are here.

You often see two or three older men having a spirited discussion
or sometimes simply resting a good long while on the streets.

Life on the streets of French and Italian villages is so vibrant. 

Here's a typical scene from Monterosso, Italy.
We were looking for gelato (when were we NOT looking for gelato?)
and found a nearby gelateria.

There were boys licking cones out in front, and the ever present laundry drying outside the shuttered upstairs windows...

Just below, a conversation in rapid Italian.
Did you notice the fellow above the gelato shop?

"EH, MARIO!" shouted the old man, leaning down over the drying wash, and suddenly the street was alive with conversation. There was lots of laughing and absolutely no sense of self consciousness. 

I love the vibrant openness of European friendships.

I enjoy the way they dress up to make everyday life a special occasion.
A romantic soul right to the core, I love the storybook look of old stone and the art of the ages, terraced vineyards and rugged coastlines.

But the best thing about Europe (just like the best thing about anywhere else in the world) has got to be its people, in all their rich diversity.

Everyone, even the least of us, has something to teach, to share, to inspire the rest of us.

Being in Europe again has made me a more reflective observer.
I want to notice the people at home more, too.

Old or young, rich or poor, here or there, it's so important to take time to notice, to stop and listen and revel in the people around us.

To value people, just as they are.

Because nobody is really "ordinary," are they?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Croatian countryside

One of the reasons we travel is to enjoy the differences between new scenes and those we have at home.

So who could blame me for falling head over heels for the countryside of Croatia and the people we met there?

The stone walls, little streams, feeling of antiquity bumping into modern life...

Croatia is a land of contrast at every turn.

I walked a long country lane, utterly alone with the birds and the crops lining the hillside, plucking a delicious wild fig and popping it into my mouth.

Oh, sweetness.

We left the tourist traps behind and instead listened to the murmur of a stream, coming back with wild sage honey and memories of a kindly people and a gentle climate.

I'm back in the studio, splashing in paints this afternoon, but I left a little corner of my heart on the hills of Croatia. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What's beautiful? What's not?

What is beautiful?

How do you define what’s lovely and what’s not?

I found Montenegro to be a land of contrasts.

When I saw the ultra posh Hotel Splendid in the seaside town of Budva, I thought it was not so splendid at all. Madonna and Sting and Tom Cruise were there this summer. A James Bond movie was filmed there. I found it snobby and unremarkable.

But the countryside...


The ordinary people and their simple lives within the city of Kotor are splendid.

I climbed their ancient wall to the top of the mountain and found it beautiful.

Montenegro. Come to Kotor and visit if you have the opportunity.

I found it fascinating.

And hauntingly beautiful.