An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Friday, August 31, 2018

In Bia's Library


This morning on Facebook, the lovely Wendy from Of Books and Boys nominated me to share seven favorite books over a period of seven days. A writer and true bibliophile, Wendy posts honest, well-written book reviews (per her suggestion, our newly founded book club selected Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for our very first meeting). 

Since I’m going to be in and out next week, I thought I’d post all seven at once. Now, many of my favorite books have already been mentioned (The Book Thief, The Kite Runner, A Man Called Ove, The Light Between Oceans), and I didn’t mention classics because they would ALL be on my list (Jane Eyre being my absolute favorite), but here is an eclectic list of some books which have found a place on my bookshelves …



Anna and the Swallow Man (by Gavriel Savit)
A book about a man and a little girl wandering the Polish countryside during WWII. Full of tenderness, beauty, and quotes which inspire you to ponder your place in the universe: "A question holds all the potential of the living universe within it …"

A Gentleman in Moscow (by Amor Towles)
Absolutely fascinating. I learned more about Russian history than I ever did in school. And it was done in such an intriguing way, as told by a count placed on house arrest at the Hotel Metropol in Moscow.

Bel Canto (by Ann Patchett)
A lavish birthday party in the home of a vice president somewhere in South America, a beautiful opera singer, an international guest list, and a band of gun-wielding terrorists who take everyone hostage. Despite terror-filled days, music becomes a springboard for beauty and hope.


The Blind Assassin (by Margaret Atwood)
Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, so you know this book is going to be different. And it is. It’s a complex novel (story within a story, with several story lines, flashbacks, and multiple time schemes) but it’s one which keeps your interest until the very end.

Nightwoods (by Charles Frazier)
This is the author who wrote the critically acclaimed  Cold Mountain. I liked this book more. It’s sad, violent, beautiful, and redemptive. If you listen to it on audible, the narrator Will Patton is phenomenal.

Christy (by Catherine Marshall)
This book is just pure goodness. Despite dirt, poverty, ignorance and superstition, this book set in the Appalachian mountains reaffirms the basic goodness of humanity.

The Wilderness Series (by Elizabeth Donati)
Escapism at its best, and a story well told. You will want to read the entire series as the characters become like family. In the last book we learn what happens to everyone, and when I finished I was in tears.

Honorable mention

Lost For Words (by Stephanie Butland)
A bookshop, a cast of quirky, flawed characters … and just like that I was hooked. The story is just so beautiful, and when you turn the last page you feel satisfied at having just finished a really good story. And despite tragedy and violence, this is another one of those books in which goodness, generosity, and love shine through.


Now, what are you waiting for? 
Go. Read.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

To Behold

Over the weekend I came across this post from a few years ago, and it was one I needed to read again. Same feelings, same conversations, same insecurities. Why is it that we need to hear the same lessons over and over again? Will we ever learn? Can we ever move on?

And God saw all that he had made, and behold it was very good.
~Genesis 1:31

Once upon a time, not too long ago, my sister and I were having a serious discussion on the following: losing weight, gaining weight, the benefits of this exercise program over that one, and the never-ending quest to be skinnier, fitter, and wrinkle free. Truthfully, it's a discussion we've had millions of times over the years.

"When does this ever end?" I eventually asked.  "I mean, are we going to be worried about this stuff when we're ninety-nine years old? What is the magical age when we can be comfortable with who we are and sit in our bathing suits at the beach and not obsess about our thighs?"

My sister didn't have an answer and, quite frankly, neither did I.

Later that day I took stock. I spend an inordinate amount of time being dissatisfied with what I weigh, how I look, what outfit I'm wearing, and whether or not I am having a good hair day. As part of my quest to be a better me, I exercise, eat healthy meals, and set goals for self-improvement.

But it's one thing to try and be a better me,  and it's another thing to try and be a better me and still be dissatisfied with the image staring back at me in the mirror.

With my sister's conversation still in my mind, I pulled out a few photo albums and purposely flipped to photos of vacations in which I remembered feeling frumpy or fat. I turned to our recent trip to New Orleans this past March. My husband and I had a great time -- a fantastic time! -- but I remembered not feeling at peace with my body. Prior to the trip I had some vascular surgery done and I was still wearing compression hose from my ankles to my thighs (which limited my wardrobe). I still had swelling in my left leg, and because of the surgeries I hadn't been to the gym in almost three weeks. But as I was looking at a photo of that trip, I realized what an idiot I was. I mean, I looked fine. Really, what in the heck had I been fretting about? And, more importantly, why couldn't I see that then?

In New Orleans, not seeing then what
I see now.

The truth is, when we look in the mirror we are not kind to ourselves. We perceive ourselves much, much differently than other people perceive us and, quite frankly, other people are often much, much kinder.

Last fall my husband and I attended a marriage retreat and, during one of the sessions, they illustrated this very point. Scattered around the room were chairs arranged into groups of three. We were told to go sit in a chair, but the caveat was we couldn't sit in the same grouping as our spouse. As it turned out, I ended up in a group with two men ... both of them strangers. We were then given instructions to take 15 minutes and jot down complimentary things you notice about the two people in your group. Since we couldn't speak, it had to be physical characteristics. Then, at the end of the time period we were to share our compliments with each other.

Compliment two men? Strangers? And have them compliment me? I wanted to die on the spot. This was so out of my comfort zone, but the fifteen minutes started and I was under pressure because those two gentlemen began writing.

In the end, here's is some of what those two gentlemen said about me (and I am sharing this simply to make a point):

-You have warm eyes that sparkle when you smile.
-You have an engaging presence which invites conversation.
-You have pretty brown hair with a feminine cut.
-You exude a calm, collected exterior.
-You have a genuine smile with a nice, authentic laugh.
-You have a feminine stature with a cute petite frame.

Boy did I feel all warm and tingly, but to hide my embarrassment I jokingly asked them to read that last one again. Seriously, talk about a morale booster! (But I cannot even begin to tell you how embarrassed I was, and even as I'm typing this I can feel my face grow red). Of course, within the framework of the marriage retreat the purpose of this assignment was to teach us to not only accept compliments, but to step back and see what others see in us.  The more I thought about it I realized this exercise paralleled the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video which was floating around the Internet. The video shows how women perceive themselves versus how others perceive them and, amazingly, sitting there with those two gentlemen I felt as if I had just participated in the very same experiment.

Did they really see all that in me? The sparkly eyes? The authentic laugh and genuine smile? The calm, collected exterior? The (eh-hem) feminine stature? Did they really? Because if I were to look in the mirror my list would have included my frizzy hair and my curves ... all things of which I am highly critical.

But just like in the Dove experiment, I can see how my opinion of myself can be so skewered. Hasn't my husband been telling me for years that he loves my curves. Hasn't my sister told me again and again that my curves give me a proportional shape? Doesn't Timothy like to sit next to me on the couch and twirl his finger in my hair as he tells me it's pretty and soft?

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are several layers to this saying, but let's focus on the word behold. To behold something is to see or observe a thing or a person which is especially remarkable or impressive; in other words, to BEHOLD something or someone is not the same thing as LOOKING or SEEING. To behold is to appreciate all that is good, beautiful, meaningful and pure. To behold is to find the perfect in the imperfect.

Back to the conversation with my sister. I know we'll probably have that same conversation again, but I am finally able to acknowledge the fact that I am hardest on myself ... and maybe that's a good place to start. I don't have all the answers, but I do know that I am going to stop comparing myself to others (there will always be someone cuter, smarter, skinnier, more talented, etc.), I'm going to start listening to my family and close friends (in the end, it is their opinion that matters most), and I'm going to BEHOLD those around me.

And this includes the person I see in the mirror.




Monday, August 27, 2018

Monday Blues


I woke up this morning
a rainbow overhead

mellow yellow
Venetian red
sunset orange
lucky green

"A color for your day!"
suggested Roy G. Biv

And without further ado ...
I reached up and picked blue.

*from the files of very, very bad poetry by bia

a door in Venice

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday: Making a Catholic Connection

Earlier this week I was talking to a stranger about faith when she asked what religion I was. I'm not going to lie. This conversation occurred just two days after the Pennsylvania abuse cover-up made the headlines, so when I told her I was Catholic I felt as if I needed to apologize, or explain, or even defend. I felt uncomfortable knowing that I could possibly be judged for the evil of those who misrepresented our faith in such a despicable manner. But I also knew that now, more than ever, we need to be the face of the Catholic Church -- not only members of the clergy, but those of us who are one the front lines living ordinary lives as parents, doctors, lawyers, youth ministers, students, political figures, teachers, cashiers, waiters, writers. We need to take every opportunity to live our faith, person to person. Even when we are dining at Arby's ... 

Last night we treated my parents to a dinner at Arby's, specifically because Jonathan was working. We like to do that -- bug Jonathan when he's working --  and last night we had double the fun because his friend, Taylor, was working, too.

When we sat down to eat we noticed we were missing a sandwich, so I went back to give Taylor a hard time about messing up our order. (See? That's why Jono groans when we walk in the door ;-) When I approached the counter there were two black gentlemen in front of me (one retired, one a little younger) who told me to go in front of them because they saw that the rest of my family was waiting. When I tried to protest, they insisted, saying they had plenty of time before heading to the movie theater down the street.

A little later the younger of the two walked past our table with their order, and I asked him what movie they were going to see. He told us, we chatted for a minute, and then he asked, "Are you guys Christians? I can tell that you are a Christian."

"Yes," I replied. "We are."

"What are you?" He wanted to know. "Are you Evangelical? Apostolic?"

"Actually," I said. "We are Catholic."

"Oh," he said, nodding.

I could tell he didn't quite know what to make of that, but he smiled and we chatted a little longer before he continued to his table.

After we finished eating I walked over to them and told them to have a nice time at the movies. The younger gentleman stood up, shook my hand, and said it was a pleasure meeting us.

And because making a connection (a laugh, a story, a compliment, a conversation) with a complete stranger  reaffirms for me the wonderful interconnectedness of humanity, and because it's one of my absolute favorite things about this world, on the way out I ordered two apple turnovers and told Jono and Taylor to deliver them to the two gentleman ... compliments of the family who had been sitting at the table next to them.

Hopefully it left them with a sweet memory of having met a Catholic family.




The Road must be trod, but it will be very hard.
And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it.
This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong.
Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world:
Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.

~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring




Friday, August 24, 2018

A Room with a View

This morning I received two bits of exciting news: all the hotels for our Girls' Trip to Italy have been confirmed, and our hotel in Santa Margherita on the Italian Riviera guarantees rooms with a sea view for our entire group.

Of course, thinking about a room with a view reminded me of Florence (which we will also be visiting) and the movie (appropriately titled) A Room With a View. The movie's setting juxtaposes the serenity of the English countryside with the gritty passion of Florence, and with Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro as the musical theme, the result is a cinematic feast for the senses. (On a side note, while I don't generally espouse nudity in movies, the skinny dipping scene with George, Freddy, and Mr. Beebe always has me rolling on the floor with laughter.)

Anyway, A Room with a View is a great movie to watch if you want to get your Italy on ;-)









Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Do I embarrass my boys?

Who me?

No. Never. 

Well, sometimes it happens accidentally.

But no.

Okay yes, but only when I do it on purpose ... like what I did this morning.

You see, yesterday my sister wanted me to check out her new website, Alleluia Rocks, to test one of her new features -- a subscription button that, if you filled it out, would automatically send you two sheets of free lunchbox printables. So I did it, and it worked! I printed out these cute free printables ...



But now that I had these cute printables, what to do with them?

Well, about that whole embarrassing-my-boys-thing. Guess who will find a cute elephant in his lunchbox, tucked in the middle of a sandwich baggie filled with corn chips, with a message that says Remember: You are loved. Not only that, but on the drive to school we were joking and I said, "Oh Timo. Remember that you are loved. These are important words. They may come back to haunt you ... in  a good way."

I'm going to be in so much trouble. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Monday Funday

Fun? 

On a Monday? 

Absolutely. If there is ever a day that needs to be fun, it's Monday. 

So ... since this has been the summer of art museums, let's play Art Interpretation. Look at this panel series hanging in The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and tell me what they are depicting.

This is the first panel ...



here's the last panel ...



and these are the ones in between.






Go ahead, take a guess. I double dog dare you.

While you're thinking, here is a blue rooster on the rooftop of The National Gallery of Art. Why is it there? What does it mean? Why the color blue? 



And now that you're brain is frazzled, here is the answer as to what those panels depict:


See? Now wasn't that fun? 

Monday Funday.

It's real.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday: The One Parenting Rule that Works

On Speak to Me Sunday a few weeks ago I shared a post entitled, I know nothing about parenting, but I will tell you the nothing I know. And it's true, I know nothing. BUT I did share ONE ALL IMPORTANT RULE that is vital in order to maintain a healthy parent-teen relationship. Here's an honest, true life example from a few years ago ...

Here’s what I know about raising teenagers: Nothing.
I can’t give you any advice, and I don’t have any words of wisdom; maybe if you check back with me when they’re all grown I can look back and come up with an answer or two, but until then Joe and I (like most of you) are making this whole parenting thing up as we go along.
A few years ago I wrote a post about the caveman tendency indicative of teens, and in desperation I visited several Catholic parenting Web sites where I found this, the only thing that has helped me stumble my way through these teen years: the responsibility for developing a healthy parent-teen relationship rests primarily with the parent; that (like it or not) it is really up to us to keep the peace and maintain open lines of communication.
Fast forward a couple of years to this past weekend, and those words once again guided us.
On Friday Joe and I decided to take the family on a last minute trip to the beach. We planned to leave Sunday morning, spend the night in Hilton Head, and return home late Monday afternoon. On Saturday, as we were driving to the Kroc Center for a family workout, we announced the surprise to the boys. Everyone was excited except our oldest.
He didn’t want to go.
What?!? The beach, eating out, surf, sand … and he doesn’t want to go?
He also wasn’t giving us a good reason except to say that he didn’t see the point of driving all that way just for 24 hours.
Emotions were swirling: Nicholas was reticent, his brothers were in a state of disbelief, and Joe and I were more than a little angry. I mean, what was his problem? Well. If we decided we were going as a family then he was, too, and that was just that. He huffed, we puffed, and by the time we arrived to the Kroc Center no one was speaking.
It’s a good thing we were at a gym as it provided plenty of ways to work off frustrations.
As I was running on the treadmill, I thought about that parental advice from a couple of years ago: a healthy parent-teen relationship rests with the parents (okay, that means us) … it’s up to the parents to keep the peace (sigh, us again) … parents need to maintain open lines of communication (right. got it. us again).
After my workout I went to find Nicholas. He, too, was finished and was sitting by the pool watching his baby brother pretend to be Michael Phelps.
I sat down next to him.
“Nicholas,” I began. “I’m trying to understand.”
And just like that, he began to talk. He explained that he had planned to use this three day weekend to get some things done; that he wanted to finish his proposal for his senior project, study for a calculus test, work on an English essay, and completely finish one of his college applications. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to get everything done before we left on Sunday, and he was worried that he had disappointed us by not wanting to go in the first place.
I listened to my son, and I understood. Totally. I patted him on the shoulder and went to find Joe.
In the end, this is what we decided: Nicholas could stay home by himself. This was a first for all of us, but it was time and he was more than ready to experience a little freedom.
So, while we were in Hilton Head Nicholas worked on his deadlines and his projects. While we were gone he had a friend over for two hours to study, he drove to Nonna and Nonno’s house for dinner, he played cards with them, and then he came back home and watched Ocean’s 11. While we were gone he enjoyed the freedom of eating in front of the television, of not making his bed, and of listening to the stereo while he worked. While we were gone he was responsible, mature, and finished everything on his to-do list.

And it was exactly what he needed.
Reaching out.
Keeping peace.
Maintaining an open line of communication.

Honest to God, parenting keeps us humble. While we may not know what we are doing most of the time … sometimes things manage to work out just right.

And as parents, those are the moments to hold on to.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

2019 Girls' Trip to Italy


2015 Girls' Trip to Italy, video highlights
(push play button on bottom left)

After months of planning and research, my sister and I are pleased to announce our 2019 Girls’ Trip to Italy! This time we will be traveling to Tuscany (Florence, San Gimignano, and Siena), Cinque Terre (the Italian Riviera), and northern Italy (Milan, Venice, Verona, and the lakes region). We will see Tuscan hills, stunning lakes, majestic Alps, and charming canals and lagoons.
Northern Italy (and Verona) is where our family lives, and we are excited to share our home away from home with you and hope you can travel with us.
Watch the above video for highlights from our last trip. If you are interested, we will hand out a complete travel packet (itinerary, price, accommodations, etc.) at an information session in September. If you live out of town, we can mail you the information then. Let me know if you're interested!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Heart of a Lion

Let me tell you about my dad. He’s 75 years old. He doesn’t smoke, and he doesn’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. He eats healthy meals. He works out and plays golf. And yet, he has heart disease. He’s had two bypass surgeries (the first one at age 40). Last November he had a cardiac catherization and had a stent put in. 

This morning, he underwent yet another cardiac catherization and received yet another stent.

Why am I telling you this? Because despite all this, my dad never complains. He’s poked and prodded and patched up, but still he smiles. He jokes with the doctors and charms the nursing staff and flatters the technicians. Everyone likes him .... really, really likes him.

(And so do we.)

After three days in the hospital, tomorrow he’ll be home again, and like always he’s not going to let heart disease stop him.

Hear him roar.



Monday, August 13, 2018

The story of a fountain

Two years ago I wrote a post entitled, The Fountain in the Piazza. It was the story of one fountain in Verona, and the generations of my family who have posed in front of it. Last night, I found a photo of my father, in front of the same fountain ...


clockwise from top left:
my mother (left) with her sisters
my father, 1966
family in the piazza, 2010
with my mother, 1967
me, 2015
our sons tossing coins in the fountain, 2010
with my aunt Paola, 1967

Friday, August 10, 2018

Weekend to-do's

To do or not to do?
That's what weekends are for.

~golf with Joe and Jono
(should I lose?) (on purpose? ;-)
(after what happened to poor Timo two weeks ago when -- GASP! -- his mom beat him in golf?)

~prepare Sunday lunch with the Nonni (what to fix? what to fix?)

~shopping with Jono (heaven help me)

~make homemade ice cream (stracciatella, cookies & cream)

~three workouts (two cardio, one weights)

~continue with Hamilton (now on page 639!)

~watch Sherlock with Jono (season 4) (our thing)

~work on book edits ---------- > ---------- > ---------- >









Thursday, August 9, 2018

Life Lately: Smart Men Who Do Stupid Things, Stupid Math, Espresso with a Kick, and a Selfie)

So school happened this week and you know how it triggers mixed emotions -- you hate for summer to end, but you also look forward to some semblance of a routine. And because we are all over the place here you go, a hodgepodge post for a hodgepodge week ...


~1~ Still reading


I'm on page 536 of Chernow's book, Hamilton. Let me just say that this isn't light reading. The words are many (and tiny) and the details are exacting (and excrutiating). The first part of the book was fascinating, the middle was slow because it was all about Hamilton's financial and central banking plans (yawn), but it's starting to pick up again because of the Reynolds Pamphlet. (If you don't know what that is, Google it. Dirty politics with a capital D and P. You can file it under Smart Men Who Do Stupid Things.)




~2~ Just in case your morning espresso needs an extra kick (grazie Benedetta!) ...






~3~ If you read yesterday's post, then you know my bambino started high school. How can this be when THIS just happened yesterday?






~4~ Timothy told me he had analytical geometry first period.Immediately I thought, "What an AWFUL way to start the day." But I didn't tell him that. Instead, I showed him this ...




~5~ I also showed him this, but he didn't get it.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Firsts

Lots of changes over here.


First day of high school. I liked still having a child in grade school. It made me still feel like a young mom. Now that Timothy is in high school ... I don't know what to feel.


First day of a new high school. As many of you know, we have decided not to send Timothy to Aquinas. There wasn't one particular reason for doing so, and the older boys had wonderful experiences at Aquinas, but there were enough little reasons to try something new. So when Timothy was accepted into the IB Programme at Lakeside, and once we toured the school and Timothy shadowed for a day, we decided to give it a go. So it's a first day of a new high school for all of us.


First time not wearing a school uniform. Honestly, I didn't like giving up the school uniform, but it is what it is.


First time we had to buy back-to-school clothes. Without the uniform, Timothy needed clothes.


First time with Life Teen. We are still members of St. Mary's, but we signed up Timothy for the Life Teen Youth Group at St. Teresa's. I've written many articles on this ministry, it is a well-thought out, organized program, and he is excited to try it.


First time joining the Italian American Club. My parents are members, and because we've accompanied them to various functions over the years we already know many people. This fall, though, we decided to make it official.


First day home alone in FOREVER. I mean, I can hear the refrigerator humming.


First cappuccino of the day coming right up ...



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

When I was Princess (a Once Upon a Time story)

Once upon a time we were sitting around the dinner table when I asked each of my boys (big and small) for one word that described me. I'm not sure why I did this, and in hindsight I see how this could have gone very badly, but I found their answers delightful. (Even Joe's. Compared to Joe, the ENTIRE WORLD procrastinates, so I didn't take offense. My husband gets things done yesterday).


How my boys (big and small) described me ...

Joe: procrastinator
Nicholas: Italian
Jonathan: helpful
Timothy: a princess


For the record, I liked Timothy's answer best of all.


Then, a few weeks later we were driving to the beach when I had the following conversation with Timothy:


"Are you a princess?" he asked me.
"Well, actually I am a queen and Daddy is the king," I replied.
"A queen?!" he was indignant. "That's too old. Nope, you're a princess."


And there you have it. A princess. It may have been Once Upon a Time long, long ago ... but still. Once a princess, always a princess.


That's how it works in fairy tales.





Monday, August 6, 2018

The Fine Art of Potty Words

Last night during our second walk, Timothy and I were talking about high school. We discussed homework, organization, school sports, bullies, and how to find someone to sit with during lunch on the first day of school.


"Let's stop talking about school," he said abruptly. "Let's talk about rainbows, unicorns, and fluffy bunny rabbits."


Oh, he gave me a good laugh. Just like when he was seven years old and taught me the fine art of potty words ...


"Mom, how do you spell Mississippi?" asked Timothy, as we are driving to school.

"Let's see, M-i-s-s-i-p-p ..." I began, only to be interrupted.

"Ha! Ha! You said a potty word. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed Timothy. And he laughed and laughed and laughed.

Apparently I was set up.


And so it continued until we arrived to school. As he got out of the car I thought, "Oh, those poor teachers."


When I got home, I headed straight for my espresso machine.

"How do you spell cappuccino?" I asked myself, as I scooped coffee grounds and steamed the milk.

"Let's see, c-a-p-p ..."


and I laughed and laughed.


a cappuccino in positano, italy

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday, vol. 17 (This is why we go to art museums)

During our travels last week, I got more than a little grief for dragging poor Timo to not one, but TWO art museums -- The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, both in Kansas City, Missouri.


Even MY MOM commiserated with her poor suffering grandson who, she emphatically declared, is surely marked for sainthood after dutifully following his mom to stand in front of masterpieces by Monet, Cézanne, Roudin, and Caravaggio.


Now, I will admit that Timothy would much rather go zip lining (which we did), and that just driving to the museum made me feel as if I were escorting him to the executioner, but ...


BUT.


If we hadn't gone, how else could we have done the following?


~1~ For five minutes, we stood in front of Raphaelle Peale's Venus Rising from the Sea -- A Deception  and discussed the realism of this linen cloth. I mean, we wanted to pluck it from the frame.




~2~ Learned how Van Gogh's energetic brushstrokes evoke the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves in his painting, Olive Trees (1889).






~3~ Dabbed in front of The Crying Giant.






~4~ Purchased these fun miniature sets of colored pencils.





~5~ Enjoyed an elegant lunch in the museum courtyard.






~6~ Made our own art. Inspired by Korean artist Kimsooja in her work To Breath -- Zone of Nowhere, we used designs, icons, and colors from all of the world’s national flags, without hierarchy or political prejudice, to create a visual canopy where national differences exist on an equal plane.






~7~ Walked around the giant shuttlecocks scattered on the museum lawn.






~8~ Finally, this happened at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Four years ago I stood in front of one of their prized paintings (a Caravaggio) and decided to organize a trip to Italy. Here I am standing in front of that same painting -- four years TO THE DATE (thanks Facebook Memories!) -- and just days away from announcing another trip. #serendipity