Thursday, May 31, 2012


This is how I feel about marriage. You love a lot of people. Your mother, your father, your siblings, your children, your friends. Of course, you love  your husband or your wife. But love doesn't quite do it for me. Adoration is the word for me.  Holy communion. 

We were talking about marriage tonight - ours and others. Thankfully, we were sweetly savoring the qualities of our marriage and I said, at some point, this, to Lee: "I adore you. And I feel adored. And that is it for me." I love my mother. I love my son and daughter. I love you. But I also adore you. And I am aware that I have mostly FELT adored in my relationship with Lee.

That quality of reverence is important to me.

So I looked up the etymology of ADORE. Here it is:

Adore: late 14c, aouren, “to worship, pay divine honors to, bow down before,” from O.Fr. aorer “to adore, worship, praise (10 c.) from L. adorare “speak to formally, beseech, ask in prayer,” in late Latin “to worship,” from ad- “to” + orare “speak formally, pray.”

That quality of reverence, worship is important to me in marriage.

What defines a good marriage for you????

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I hope you don't get sick of this!

The orchids in our living room.


My old Art Deco server - still love it after 20 years.

Ever since we moved in Lee has had this idea to do a table of orchids. He really likes something alive and beautiful in the apartment. Who would argue? His idea coincided with a table of Cymbidium orchids in old dusty clay pots I saw at Gamberaia in Italy. They knocked my socks off so I had the same idea. So, today, we went in search of a way to display the orchids and to actually buy the orchids. That was easy. I would love to tell you I went to the cool orchid farm in Plymouth, but they are about $75 per orchid there and since I needed 6 - 7 that was just too much. So, when I was at Bachman's buying a plant for my father's gravesite, I picked up a couple nice orchids and some pots. We also found the "base" for the Carrara marble table top we already had - a couple of actually cheesy when you look too close tall tables made of metal and wood - and made in China - ugh! But they worked with the Cararra once I took off the wood tops. And they cost all of $29 each. Thank god for that cheap Chinese labor.
Then, Lee and I were at Lunds picking up groceries and they had 3 Cymbidiums which really are my very favorite orchid - kind of like daylilies with orchids for flowers - they have a lot of green and take up space, which is nice when you need to fill a lot of it. And the ones with blooms were only $14.99 at Lunds.

We went home. I repotted a few orchids. We put the table together and set out the orchids and .... what do you know .... we realized a vision.

I moved a few more things in the Living I really need my daybed from NY. I unpacked a few more boxes. And here are a couple of new images from the work we did today.

Tonight...all Boston vs. Philly for Lee. I am off to take a bath in my beautiful Empire bathtub after which I will bake up some Lucia's chocolate chip cookies and eat them while they are warm.

So, I am picking up my mail.....


Our excellent entry.

Living Room

I love this kitchen! New (but very old looking) black marble floors, the  deconstructed plaster walls
until I figure out what to do with them, but really loving them just the way they are.

Library | Dining | Hanging out for movie room

More of the same. Love this room the communal mailbox desk at 510 and run into our upstairs neighbor, a woman whom we hardly know but couldn't be cuter and more friendly and she tells me she likes my blog and to get back to work. She's also funny. Then, I run into the other very pleasant neighbor across the hall from her who gave us the most personal set of handmade writing papers and he tells me he enjoys following my blog and I am just overwhelmed with guilt that I am shirking my responsibilities and disappointing people so at that middle of the night darkest hour I vow to get back to blogging today.

And where better to start with photos of our new apartment? We are so over the moon here. Every morning we sit with out coffee made on this amazing little stove (there are flames!) after having lived for the last seven years with the dumbest ever cheap electric stove and almost giggle - grinning ear to ear. Shall we sit facing the beautiful facade of the Methodist Church from our Living Room or shall we face the park-like setting from our Library | Dining Room? It is heavenly and the place has very good energy so I have to thank the people who lived here before us for that I guess.

It just works. Everything from the excellent maintenance person who seems to take out our garbage daily leaving the bin with a fresh liner for us to the lovely people who sign for my packages daily and hand us our mail to the dry cleaning pick up and delivery to the charming old-time laundry room where we can wash both of our loads at one time and get it all done quickly.  Big folding tables, ironing boards, clothesline. So upstairs-downstairs. And we can hardly believe the Miele dishwasher and how quiet it is. I am standing there in the kitchen while it is running and I ask Lee if we need to run the dishwasher! Plus, you gotta love the flatware on the top rack instead of down in a basket where I always impaled myself on knives and forks. I feel like I have just entered the 20th Century. (Not the 21st yet...we don't have much for audio-visual equipment.)

I have said - in my painfully bratty way - the only thing missing is someone to bring my car around in the morning so I don't have to schlep up and down stairs - and I am always schlepping in my business - and lots of tile samples lately. It is really, really good for us here.

So, thanks for putting up with my absence. The apartment is so perfect in so many ways that I don't want to jinx it by telling you all that is not right with the furniture - just suffice it to say, the gears are spinning and I have piles of fabric samples on the floor of the Living Room, so one of these days, I'll recover the chairs and the sofa and get the daybed and art we love from New York and install the oh my gosh amazing Murano 1970's light fixutre we bought in Italy that is now being re-wired.  But then, that might just be too much perfection.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Post Italy

I unfairly left Italy in the lurch. It is a crazy story, but 2 weeks ago today, Lee woke up feeling like we needed to head back to the US, also. (I'd mentioned the idea, but wanted to be sure I wasn't just neurotic and selfish!) So we attempted, on a Sunday, to get a ticket home. It was impossible. HELP! We were stranded in Florence! Literally, it was impossible on a Sunday. By Monday morning, we found a US phone number to call and got someone competent enough to help us (after two failed attempts....pretty sure the first had attitude and the second had a drug problem.) All's well that ends well and we had a ticket home 3 days later from Roma. We packed up, got the train and had the most lovely night in Fiumicino - who'd of thunk it? An airport hotel?? It had views of the Mediterranean, an amazing restaurant nearby serving the local seafood (OMG the calamari!) and just a chill, perfect last night in Italy vibe. Even the hotel room had tile floors instead of creepy carpet!

So, we got home, unpacked for 3 days solid, I headed to work for the next 5 days solid, then finished unpacking the next 2 days and now am mostly crashing and very very happy.

But I wanted to share some of these photos from our trip - it is a little slide show of photos - with captions because there is no rhyme nor reason - just some favorite moments. Hope you enjoy!
A wonderful restaurant sud Arno - Piazza della Passera

Lee at the restaurant - pre-vino.

Post vino - cafe.

Maybe our favorite meal for lunch - assorted local pecorini chesses with pear mostardi and this amazing flatbread! 

The guy who always showed up at our favorite lunch spot. SO Sartorialist.

The view from the restaurant Cinque. 

Last walk of this trip over our favorite kissing bridge - Santa Trinita.

The ropes at the end of a fishing day in Fiumicino.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I am not exactly sure where the last week went. I was in Florence, now I am in Minneapolis heavily surrounded by boxes that need to be unpacked. I'm going into hiding for a few days.

Cheers to you all for a great weekend - especially all MOMS!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Villas and Gardens

Word of the Day: 

Otiumfree time, leisure, ease, peace, repose. (Latin)

Picture of the Day:

Lunch between villas - Lee, Nancy (our guide) and Frank

On Wednesday, we hired a professor from the Department of Landscape Architecture from NYU's Florence campus to take the four of us on a private tour of some of her favorite gardens in and around Fiesole. Now, Tami is her own gardener and has the most spectacular garden in Charleston, SC, one that is often on the tours. It is sort of out of control and wild but just delicious and dripping with camellia and some prehistoric looking bird that makes its home in the crazy big live oak tree in the middle of the garden.

So, when Tami met Nancy (our guide) they were birds of a feather, talking latin names for plants and shrubs all day. I didn't care a whit for the latin names, but the sights and smells and sounds of the birds just about made me woozy. We started the day at 9:00 a.m.

We went to three different villas and here's the story:

Villa Medici in Fiesole - built late 1300s (1382?) and considered the first of the country villas designed and built for OTIUM - pleasure, enjoyment, beauty. Previous to this, the country houses provided a source of income usually from agriculture - olives, grapes, etc. The villa sits perched overlooking Florence with a straight view to Il Duomo, which would have been important. The lovely lemon trees are found in pots so they can be taken into the limonaia for protection during the winter months. Citrus trees were considered exotic and a sign of great wealth during the Renaissance and found at all the greatest of the villas. Today, Villa Medici is privately owned and tours are only by special appointment. Lucky us. When I think of the McMansions today, if only we would take our lead from these incredible homes - the way they are designed for the climate, the movement of the sun through the day, use of repetition and always appreciating the human scale.

Le Balze is right next door and is owned by Georgetown University - believe it or not, those lucky 19-year olds actually get to live here during their study abroad! It was build around the turn of the 20th Century by Scott and Pincent and included the home and the exquisite gardens that really read as room after private room built on this pesky landscape. But, hey, LOCATION, LOCATION - building next to the Villa Medici seemed to have its benefits. It really is just the most beautiful scale. Can I say more about SCALE??????

At 1:00 we went to lunch on our way to the village of Settignano, ate outside under a canopy of trees, spent two hours at the table with wine, pasta, verdure fritte (my new favorite!) which is quickly fried vegetables of the day in something that is as light as tempura batter. Just amazing!

Finally, we ended the day at what is considered the most beautiful garden in Italy (well, by Edith Wharton, at least, who wrote several books on Italian gardens)  - Villa Gamberaia. It is really quite impossible to describe because it is a vernacular that is so foreign to a farm girl from Iowa or a city girl living in New York. It is just simply the most lavish, outrageous, elegant form you can imagine. And the pictures here will have to do the work for me. Enjoy!

Villa Medici. The prototype for all second homes. If you have a cabin in Minnesota,
this is the grandfather of all cabins.

Villa Medici

Le Balze - just one architectural wonder after another. 

View from both Villa Medici and Le Balze (they were neighbors!)

Secret stair door at Villa Gamberaia

Villa Gamberaia

Tami among the boxwood

The fountain at Gamberaia  - like a wild mushroom

The villa at Gamberaia

Row of Lemon Trees

View from Gamberaia - look at the silvery olive trees!

The beautiful camellia in the grotto at Gamberaia

The lawn bowling (bocce) lawn at Gamberaia - one of the first of its kind

Limonaia - emptied for the warm season

View from the Limonaia

The place where I most want to sit and read the New York Times on Sunday morning. (Villa Medici)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day ? in Firenze: Losing Track

Word of the Day: illuminata - enlightened, filled with light

Photo of the Day: Wedding Guests

We have had a couple of full days. So much to absorb verbally, visually, psychically - that I need a lot more napping here. And it takes me a day or two for the visual learning to find a resting spot in my mind from which I can draw to write a blog. Did that even make sense??

On Sunday, we went to a photography museum that Tami and I stumbled upon earlier in the week. The exhibit was of a fashion photographer from the 60's - 70's , one of the greatest of his generation - Brian Duffy. Much like the Lagerfeld photography exhibit in Rome a year ago, we loved seeing modern art housed in ancient architecture. The show and film about his life were inspiring - the film reminded us of the beautiful film "Bill Cunningham New York" from a year ago -  a tribute to an artist, his attitude and his oeurve.

By now it was late afternoon - and we wandered out of the show with no idea what we might do next. There was a Slow Food market with food vendors across the street at Piazza Santa Maria Novella so we wandered through the stalls of olives, wine, fruit, meats and cheeses from local farmers. It was divine and I was having a Madison, Wisconsin kind of flashback. Isabelle would have been in heaven.

Moving through the crowds, we saw another one standing on the steps of the church Santa Maria Novella - with its doors wide open. In front of the group was an adorable little white vintage Fiat with netting bows on each of the mirrors. This was clearly the getaway car for a bride and groom!

So we waited patiently for the end of the wedding to partake in this rich, cultural scene. What a reward that was! Here are some photos from the day: