Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Goodbye to Grams

When I returned from the States, I'd promised to write more about my grandmother. As I started working on a blog entry about her, it turned into a longer article. I decided to dedicate my monthly column on Slow Travel, Living Slow in Italy, to her.

My tribute to my grandmother, Bittersweet Journeys, is now posted online.

I had also previously written about her here and here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vivo Ancora!

Yes, I'm still alive! The chickadee is back in the nest, recovering slowly from the nasty cold that befell me while visiting my hometown. Why is it that I get sick each and every time I set foot in Ohio? Boh.

I have had a hard time getting motivated since my return. With the virus thing going on, my energy level has been low...and the sudden slap of summer hasn't helped that any. The day after we returned the cooler-than-normal temps fled for the hills and the muggy air descended like a hot blanket. Brilliantly clear skies mean plenty of scorching sun...which as a former desert-dweller I can handle, but it's the humidity that kills me. If the actual heat itself wasn't enough to signal to us that summer was officially here, the deserted streets this weekend would have tipped us off. We walked into the piazza on Sunday at high noon, which is usually the absolute height of the passeggiata, to find...oh, maybe ten people, tops. Everyone had turned tail and ran for the beach. Except us and a straggling of foreign visitors.

The other sure sign of summer is that sagra season is upon us! Hooray, because I love me a good sagra. We've already been to two. The Festa della Sacra Spina seems to kick it off, so we made sure to attend and procure another bottle of private label vino. We have our sights set on a couple more that will be taking place over the next few weeks.

I am still catching up on sleep, feeling zapped. I've had several writing projects that I should be working on and have been lazily putting off (but really need to get cracking on them this week). And I worked on a very exciting project for a Hollywood production company for a special DVD release of the film Roman Holiday. (Exciting, huh??)

That's what's been happening in the ol' Pinon Tree. Life is slowly getting back to normal.

A special thanks to you all for your kind words of consolation sent through your comments and emails. They were very sweet and comforting, and I appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and friendships. Bloggers rock!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Wedding and a Funeral

I had good intentions. I had written several posts that I was going to slip in during my absence. I brought some photos that would have cleverly juxtaposed with scenes here that I planned to post, too. That was before I left Italy.

While our primary purpose in coming to the US was to attend a wedding, we ended up also attending a funeral. My beloved grandmother passed away on June 5.

I was blessed to spend time with her before she died, to see her and let her know how much I loved her. She was much declined but still quintessentially Grams, and being with her before she died set my mind very much at peace. I had a little time to adjust to the thought of life without her here. I was very close with her and already miss her tremendously.

I've written about Grams several times before, and I will write more about her when I've had time to process it all and gather my thoughts. It's been a whirlwind of activity with far-flung family members arriving and departing.

We leave this evening to fly back to Italia. I'm exhausted and drained emotionally. It will be a few days before I get reacclimated to my life, renewed and readjusted to the European time zone. I'll be back in the nest again soon, but I also need to get over the nasty cold I'm fighting and get caught up on sleep before returning to the blog.

Until then, I want to share this poem I found among my grandma's clippings. It sums up her life (and life philosophy) beautifully.

Do something today to bring gladness
To someone whose pleasures are few
Do something to drive off sadness-
Or cause someone's dreams to come true.
Find time for a neighborly greeting
And time to delight an old friend;
Remember-the years are fleeting
And life's latest day will soon end.
Do something today that tomorrow
Will prove to be really worthwhile;
Help someone to conquer sorrow
And greet the new dawn with a smile.
for only through kindness and giving
Of service and friendship and cheer,
We learn the pure joy of living
And find heaven's happiness here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Where I Hang Out

Ever wonder where I hang out when I am lurking online? Oh sure, I spend a lot of time reading blogs. Waaay too much time, in fact. But I also have a surplus of sites to visit in my downtime, purely for entertainment value.

SAGP (Self-Appointed Grammar Police). Geeky it may be, but my inner editor adores this site. In case you're wondering, I think tickets should be issued for offensive grammatical offenses online. I see far too many of them, even on high quality websites. I want to take a red pen to them, if red ink could reach through cyberspace.

Continuing with the language geek theme, the Etymology Dictionary is fun and educational. Fun being relative, of course. Bryan would not enjoy this site in the least.

Travel is a passion around the Pinon Tree so I spend an inordinate amount of time perusing the trip reports and travel notes on Slow Travel. I also enjoy the vacation rental reviews and the message board so this site is sort of like my neighborhood coffee bar.

JibJab. There's nothing like a little dose of political satire to start the day and these guys dish it up nicely.

Tecnocasa. A girl can dream, can't she? Back home I used to visit builders' model homes and housewares megastores; now I peruse the online market looking for a bargain. Hey, you never know; I just my see cute cottage for a song.

When I have a hankering, I scope these sites for recipes: New Mexican (when I have a stash of green chile); Lucanian (when I want a taste of the Motherland); Turkish (when I'm craving those Middle Eastern flavors); and Sandwiches (because sometimes I still want a quick, easy lunch).

Because I'm rather bookish and love to read, I spend a great deal of time on Amazon. If you want to peek at some of my favorites visit my A-Store.

In an attempt to keep current with and make sense of what is going on in this fast-paced, constantly-changing world I seek out (relatively) unbiased news at EuroNews, the Christian Science Monitor, and NPR.

I also still take a peek now and then at the HGTV site. Can't help myself. And who can't use tips on blinging a bath or kitchen back-splashes?

So what about you? Where do you hang?