Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In transit to Palermo

Have always wanted to explore Sicily. Given that we have only 4 days here, the word "explore" is ambitious. Will post some highlights over the next couple of days. Thanks for coming along with me on my journeys.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Eagle droppings all around . . .

Legend has it that the founders of the city of Todi were having a feast down in the valley with tablecloths spread out on the meadow—the chosen site of their future home. An enormous eagle swooped down on the event, grabbed a tablecloth in its talons and flew to the top of the hill. The elders interpreted this act of nature as a sign that the new town should be built at precisely the spot on the top of the hill where the eagle dropped the cloth. Everywhere in town one sees an eagle, but only upon close examination can you tell that the tablecloth is in its clutches. I haven't learned yet what the two smaller birds represent who are sheltered under the eagle's wingspan.

Today was overcast and rainy but the charm of the city and its comfortable pace continued to shine through from every corner.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Paint on Walls . . .

This morning, as I walked through a thick cloud of mist that had settled over the town of Todi, I saw these images as the sun burned away the fog.

From a distance, the bricks on the lower half of this building appeared real while the upper geometric pattern seemed painted.

This close up shows the intricate painting that was completed in 2007 to simulate how the building might have appeared centuries ago.

Only when I was right up against the wall was I able to see that all the sculptural aspects of the brick had been an illusion painted on a flat surface.
This low relief sculptural detail adorns the entrance of the Church of St. Fortunato. The church was begun at the end of the 13th century and completed in 1465.
On the side street to the right of the main cathedral in the Palazzo del Popolo, locals relaxed in the bright sun after the fog dispersed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chocolate Pasta? Yea, it's here at Marcello's

 Three generations have been operating Giovenali Marcello & C. on Corso Cavour in Todi. The picture below shows Marcello in front of a photo of his founding family members. One of the most immaculate and fascinating shops in the town, it's a great source of whole grains, too, along with specialty cheeses, wines, and pastries.

Friday, October 19, 2012

From Rome to Todi . . .

A two hour, 10 Euro bus ride on the Sulga bus line brought me from Rome's Tiburtina Bus Station Terminal to the center of Todi, a medieval town perched on the top of a hill in the heart of Umbria. Steeped in history, stone, and the sounds of the Italian language all around me, this town is recharging my psychic batteries. Still sorting through jetlag sleeping issues, it's after 3 a.m. this morning and all the pictures I was planning to add will have to wait for another posting.

Friday, October 19......a few more images.
Getting around in Rome is not too complicated but it wasn't easy while schlepping too much baggage. I had planned to travel light but didn't begin that creative composition until the 11th hour so ended up with too much and not enough time to trim it down. A famous writer once apologized to his fellow writer friend by writing, "Please forgive this lengthy, rambling letter since I didn't have time to write you a short one!"  That's how I feel about my packing performance for this trip. But there's no one to apologize to, only my overworked back and shoulders. I'm grateful that I'll be staying put for a while now. Here are some images from Rome to Todi that I couldn't get in last night. Enjoy.
Bay after bay of buses come and go at Tiburtina bus terminal just a few minutes walk from the Tiburtina T stop and train station. An easy walk if you don't have a lot to carry. I was relieved to learn there was an elevator to bring me up to street level but it was out of order.
The cafe/bar at the bus terminal in Tiburtina.

Tiburtina bus station toilet. Clean but not my favorite way to do knee bends—And it cost 65 cents in Euros to use it.

The Sulga bus from Rome to Todi. There were only 4 passengers and I got to the station 90 minutes early to be sure I got a ticket. Very comfortable ride.
The Todi Opera House. Apparently, the production of La Traviate was supposed to have been gorgeous but it was long gone by the time I arrived.

Yesterday morning a misty cloud settled over the valley and moment by moment burned off under the sun revealing the Umbrian glory all around.

This is me sitting at a table in the restaurant that belongs to the opening image of this blog posting. The sun was beating on my back sending its healing warmth through my whole body. I could feel myself unwinding and refueling as I waited for my pizza lunch.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Continental Shift: Fairfax to Campagnano di Roma

If you're reading this as an email, and don't see lots of pictures, be sure to click on the headline "Continental Shift: Fairfax to Campagnano di Roma" so you can see the blog in its entirety with pictures, etc. And if you want to see the pictures in more detail, be sure to click on each one. Enjoy.
From Saturday in Fairfax— with its Biketoberfest (above) and all things California—I've crossed the continent and then some. Nine hours ahead of my west coast family and friends, I'm now in Italy for a few weeks. My long-time friend, Ira, met me at Fumicino Airport in Rome and drove me to his little town of Campagnano di Roma. I crashed just after midnight, slept almost 10 hours and then needed a three hour nap from which I've just awakened. Here is a view of the surrounding town from the highest elevation.
Some scenes (below) from my walk through the main town, forgetting that at ore 13 (1:00 p.m.) everything closes so people can go home for pranzo and un bel reposo. My lengthy nap was just on schedule.
Oh, how I've missed those terra cotta colored walls!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Brain on Scenic Road

I've been staying in a studio apartment cut into the side of a hill on Scenic Road in Fairfax, California. Fairfax isn't your usual small town. Just today we passed a yard sale that had—along with the usual detritus of wooden mug stands, outdated electronics, ugly framed mini-prints of ideal landscapes, computer speakers, old bicycles—it had four guitars! This is a town of long-haired musicians. Long-haired not in the sense of "long-haired music"—a term people of my generation used to name classical music. In this case, I'm using the adjective "long-haired" to describe the large population of musicians, most of whom play guitar and have long hair. Fairfax boasts live music every night of the week. It's a small town with a big Art.  Walking along Scenic Road late this afternoon I saw art of a different kind when I noticed Pumpkin Man or is it Pumpkin Woman? I had to take a picture of it and the pumpkin patch from which he/she hatched.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Marin County Marvels . . .

I've been visiting with my son and daughter-in-law in Fairfax, California for the last few weeks. Last night was the first time I saw rain. With an overcast sky, today was the first day without bright sunshine, and a perfect day for an outing to Point. Reyes which is celebrating its 50th year as a National Treasure.

 The cliffs at Point Reyes on which an old light house is perched has some of the most extreme weather conditions in the country. One hundred and thirty-three mile an hour winds crash against its 50 million year old unforgiving and craggy terrain.

Colors are often more brilliant in overcast light so admiring the soggy lush mosses and the hearty bright red-orange lichens was a great treat today.

Today's entry is a photo album not only from some scenes of the day, but also some shots from last Sunday's Farmer's Market in San Rafael.

This huge market that operates year round on the grounds of Frank Lloyd Wright's last commission, the Marin County Civic Center, boasts tent after tent of fresh organic produce and everything from pig parts to freshly smoked salmon.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

meditation with mandalas

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung used the drawing of mandalas to calm himself. Several years ago I took a workshop with a Jungian-inspired writer who challenged us to pick an image from one of our more elaborate dreams and then to write about it. The workshop culminated when we were prompted to draw our own mandala using the dream image as subject matter for the form. I've been drawing them ever since.
To create a mandala, you start at the center and work outward in 360 degrees. Many paintings are Mandalas used as objects of meditation and prayer common to many of the world's religions. As opposed to a maze that is meant to confuse, a mandala is a visual labyrinth that the viewer follows first from the center and then  travels outward to the edges. Working backward from the outside edges back to the center, the mind travels in and out getting not only lost in the pattern, but calmed by it and the slow contemplation of the form.

For me, drawing my own mandalas is even more calming. And I've been making a few lately. I draw them freehand with a magic marker, then bring the black and white image into Illustrator and then use "Live Trace" to create an electronic web of the pattern, then use "Live Paint" to fill in the lines with color and pattern.

Here are few more recent ones: