31 March 2010

A Favorite Spot

Under the category of simple things, I set up a space on the balcony to just sit. I took a container that houses my gardening paraphernalia, put a table cloth and place mat on it, and set in between two chairs. I sit and read, sit and study, sit and sip wine, sit and soak in the sun, sit and think, sit and talk about things that matter with the one in my life who matters most. It's now my favorite spot. It's good to have a space to sit and talk and take stock. Spring invites that. I like having my own little spot to do it. What's your favorite spot?

29 March 2010

Spring Intoxication

Now, this is what I'm talking about! Sat on my balcony today, took in the view and studied Italian in my short sleeves - even spent extra study time, because, why not? Temps in upper 60's, my neighbor and I, my husband and I, all giddy with spring, planning trips galore to explore our surroundings. Met a family a few doors down the hill from us who have the most adorable 6 year old girl who asked me to mentor her and her 9 year old brother in English once they are out of school in June. Sure, said I. We'll swap services and they can mentor me in Italian! Another couple I went to visit today are bilingual and the conversation was an easy mix of English and Italian. Makes me yearn for fluency and motivated me mightily. Spring brings such energy and hope and all out joy!

28 March 2010

Full Day, Full Heart

I love days like this! The day dawned perfectly clear with temps in the high 60's today so I headed to the mountains with my husband and 2 good friends who live next door. We started at a winery in Prezza really just to have a destination and pick up some of their reserve wine for presents. Met a friendly woman by our car who offered to walk us to the winery when we asked her for directions. She chatted about her town and it's beautiful mountain surroundings as we walked together. She knocked on the winery's door and introduced us to the owners before waving good-bye. It was one of those warm Italian moments and make me glad to be here.

Sulmona was our next destination, a wonderful town famous for confetti- sugared almonds- given at Italian weddings and as fun gifts any time. The displays were spectacular in front of store after store as we wandered. In a feast for the eyes, individually wrapped confetti candies were displayed in imaginative arrangements - flowers, plants and colorful decorations of all sorts (those are all candies in the photo!). The streets teemed with visitors out to enjoy this lovely place as well as the spectacular day and created such a festive atmosphere. It had that combination of history and humanity that made me vow to come back for a longer visit.

Lunch at Pacentro further up the mountain was next. It's famous for being the home of Madonna's grandparents. We ate at a fabulous slow-food restaurant where we were fussed over and given special samples of their delicious food. The owner sent us out afterward to the town center for a stunning view of the mountains on 3 sides of the town: "I pray that you go and see this magnificent sight!" How could we not? He was so sweet and earnest. He was right- gorgeous wherever I looked. As an added bonus while we were there dozens of cyclists whizzed by in a big cycling team race up and down the steep mountain roads from Sulmona to Pacentro. Cycling is a big sport in Italy so it was fun to see it up close.

It was a full day and I had a full heart at the end of it.

26 March 2010

Suncatchers, Pansies and Celtic Goddesses

This post has no cohesive theme except the random things that are happening in my world these days. Spring is so sprung right now and it puts me in such a great mood. Relishing simple things like re-potting geraniums and begonias and rosemary, mint, chives, oregano, thyme and parsley in the sunshine, walking hand in hand with my husband in the sunshine, reading poetry on the balcony in the sunshine, even hanging a sun catcher with millions of little mirrors that spin around and throw sparkles everywhere. It lifted my spirits to do these things and brought me back to the now where all the good things are happening. it is indeed the present.

My neighbor was out planting pansies and sprucing up his garden so I asked him to be my language buddy and converse with me in Italian. What better indicator could I use to choose? I've taken the suggestions I received about learning Italian to heart and am grateful for them! I feel more hopeful. And I went to Rigoletto the other night. Listening to opera in Italian was great because they say each word more slowly so I understand more. Then my friend wrote today and also recommended listening to music but for a different reason: because music enters into the right side of the brain and allows a deeper and quicker integration of the language. We have many beautiful Italian songs so that's gladly on my daily to do list as well!

Lastly, I came across a wonderful quote about crones in Frank MacEowen's book "The Spiral of Memory and Belonging":
"In contrast to these modern usages, the words 'crone' and 'cailleach' were traditionally associated with healing, wisdom, initiation into the ways of the Otherworld, and the stirring mysteries of the earth. The crone, sometimes appearing as the dark goddess, is the keeper of hidden knowledge and is considered a guardian."

Healing, wisdom, initiation, mysteries of the earth! Doesn't that sound luscious? Made me sad at how far we older women have separated from this powerful place of ancient knowledge and energy. But it also inspired me to continue to seek ways to reclaim this role which our culture sorely needs but is so afraid of. Initiatory energy reminded me of the importance of mentoring younger women. I'm doing this with my daughter and 8 nieces when we gather together each year to grow individually and support one another. What are others doing? Let's talk!

22 March 2010

Overcoming Inertia

I'm on a tear this week! I've cleaned my closets, drawers, office, including the files and took out every pile that I had accumulated! I'm doing a cleansing fast too- juices and fruits. Trying to let go of the physical, emotional and, hopefully, spiritual barnacles that have also accumulated. The months of travel are over for now and I want to refocus on being here in Italy. Why I'm here, what is the next step, what's important just now?

I restarted Italian language lessons in earnest. Job 1 is to get beyond basics and be able to converse easily on any topic that comes up. I'm doing a combination of Rosetta Stone, Italian for Dummies, and online vocabulary and grammar builder. There seemed to be so many other priorities up to now but now this has risen to the top priority. All else is in place and reasonable order. I'm surprised at how much discipline it takes since language acquisition doesn't come easily to me. And I have a goal- be reasonably good by the time my daughter and grandchildren come to Italy for the month of August. Now I've declared it!

What does language study have to do with a cleansing fast? I'm actually not sure but both are at least in part about letting go of the unimportant and focusing on the essential. Communication on a deeper level is bedrock important to further growth of any kind, and communication in Italy means fluency in Italian! It's such a beautiful language, so what's my reluctance? I vacillate between "I should, I must, I WANT to" and "It's hard, my brain is old, I already have a rich language that I'm good at". Wah, wah, wah! I've grown tired of myself and I'm ready to accept the obvious- hey, you moved to Italy, so shut up and learn the language already!

Wish me luck. Any suggestions?
(The photo is from our balcony.)

21 March 2010

Wonder Woman and The Jedi Knight

When I was visiting my grandchildren recently in the Rain Forest of Trinidad, I had a day with them all to myself. It was delicious! We played dress up, ran races, read stories, swam in the river, raced twig boats in the river, danced to favorite songs and just in general had a ball! Kahlil, age 7 1/2 and Kamala, one week from her 4th birthday agreed to write a story to read later to their parents. To fully involve the younger one, I suggested that Kahlil start a sentence and Kamala finish it and then Kamala start a sentence and Kahlil finish it. We had great laughs as the story took turns that neither one would have taken on their own. I told them I would write exactly what they dictated. The following is what they came up with:

Wonder Woman and The Jedi Knight
by Kahlil and Kamala Fitzjames

Once upon a time there was a peaceful village but the wind came and knocked down the trees. There lived a king in that land who went to his garden to gather christofene and dasheen to eat.

Then, one day, war broke out in the land and on the same day, the dog broke out of his yard. When the war broke out, a village, not so far away, heard that there was fighting and they told two powerful knights, Wonder Woman and the Jedi Knight: "A ship will be flying soon." The ship did fly soon and while it was flying, it came under attack. So the ship went under the sea since ships can fly under the sea. Under the sea the ship was attacked again and, this time, it wasn't just any attack. It was attacked by Martians who live under the sea.

But, this ship could fly in the sky, too, and the people who come on the ship would sit and fly over the sea. The Martians were fierce underwater knights. They had gills so they could not breathe out of water. So, as the ship flew out of the water, they died coming after it. But the Martians who dunked their heads under water again could breathe and they would not die.

Now the two real heroes were the Jedi Knight and Wonder Woman. While the ship was under the water, Wonder Woman and the Jedi Knight jumped off the ship and swam across to the Martians' cave to get the treasure of the Titanic. But the treasure couldn't be opened until they got the key. In the cave the Jedi Knight and Wonder Woman saw lots of Martians and Wonder Woman saw lots of people spirits.

The key was hidden in the top of the castle in the cave and a poem unlocked the secret of the key:
Dive under the sea
you will see the key.
By the key is a table.
Don't you dare eat anything
but take the key from the table
at the top of the castle in the cave.
The secret code is 020306.

The Jedi Knight used his light saber to cut open the box. Wonder Woman, with her magic lasso, twirled it above her head and brought the Titanic treasure up to open with the key.
The End

This was such a fun activity and generated such energy and enthusiasm in the kids! I especially loved the poem.
What fun things do you do with your kids or grandkids?

14 March 2010

California Dreaming

Well, our California visit is coming to a close and it has been full! Saw my cousin and her family today and got caught up on their end of the family news. 8 1/2 years brings those amazing OMG moments when babies are now in 4th grade and 8 year olds are in high school and all of us adults are grayer! A fun time though.

And speaking of fun, Katy (from the "Of Friends and Fashion" post on 3/8) and I went to a vintage clothing store she likes and we had a great time. Tried on some things and bought some cool retro jewelry. It's a world she knows a lot about and I loved seeing this side of fashion through her eyes. Some of the styles I remember wearing, of course, even though it's ancient history to Katy! She's an interesting, interested young woman that's fun to hang out with. Isn't she cute?

I reconnected with good friends while here and had some wonderful "going deeper" conversations that happen so much easier with old, dear friends. It's surely the rich beauty of friendship.

09 March 2010

The Next 7 Generations

More riches in my travels: My husband and I had dinner last night with a friend who is also a Medicine Woman. She talked about 13 indigenous grandmothers, some of whom she knew, gathering and calling for the healing of the earth mother and of each of us. Not just an important call now but imperative for our legacy 7 generations hence. Screenings of their film are taking place all over and we can make it even more widespread. The link is: http://www.forthenext7generations.com . As grandmothers they hold the wisdom of old age, the long view of old age and the love for children and grandchildren everywhere.

Surely, there can be no doubt we as a people need healing as does our earth mother. What will be our legacy 7 generations from now? How can we join together to multiply our effectiveness? Good questions. This film points toward some answers.

I have photos in my bedroom of my grandmother, my mother, me, my daughter and my grandchildren. It reminds me of my ties and my heritage. Who I came from, the family context for my daughter and her son and daughter. The sacred obligation to live on purpose with the knowledge that my choices influence my small world and my family as well as me.

Here's how I see job 1 right now: daily do the things that keep me physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy, connect with others who are doing the same, deepen the bonds with my husband, daughter and grandchildren, gather together yearly with my daughter and 8 nieces to address the hurt in our family and help heal it. I do all this in the belief that healing me and my family spreads out healing energy to the world that each of us in that women's circle then touches. Start with me and my family. There's so much healing to be done. The grandmothers point to other ways to be involved in healing, other important work to be done. I had been looking for what my next phase was to be as if it was something out there that I hadn't yet found. Maybe it is. But right now it's to do what's right in front of me to do. Me, my family and pay attention to what else comes my way.

I'm now planning with my sister-in-law, my daughter and my nieces what our next gathering (in July) will hold and celebrate. It will be our 7th gathering. I admire them and us for doing this simple, difficult, rewarding, and, ultimately important for our 7th generation, work. I like the perspective that my grandchildren's great great grandchildren will benefit.

08 March 2010

Of Friends and Fashion

One of life's joys is being friends with the children of my friends. For instance, I'm visiting in California, where I lived for 14 years. Dear friends have a daughter, now 19, that I've had the good fortune to spend time with again. She's into fashion, as am I, and we've been swapping ideas about clothes, good designers and designs, where to get them, how to put them together, etc. I love her ideas and adorably unique style. She's studying design and even doing a blog about her fashion interests: (http://narcissisticandmaterialistic.blogspot.com). She has a easy conversational, humorous way of writing that I find fun and engaging. And she celebrated my 2 great bargains from a shopping excursion with her Mom. The upshot is that she is taking me shopping in San Francisco to some of her favorite vintage clothing stores. How cool! I'm excited about that and marvel at how quickly my world is expanded and enriched. Thanks, Katy!

04 March 2010

Back Again

Never again will I be without a computer! My home computer is a 21" desk top I-Mac so not exactly portable! 2 1/2 mos in the Caribbean with spotty access to computers and all dial up- oh my! I soooooo missed contact with my blog and blog friends, to say nothing about their blogs. I went through withdrawal and now I'm looking into an I-Pad! I'm home in Italy right now but tomorrow I head for California in a last minute, unexpected opportunity that I couldn't say "no" to. Just for 10 days though and then back to sink roots deeper here. Spring has sprung in our little corner of the world and was sunny, upper 60's and clear the day I returned. Sat on the balcony and sipped wine while gazing at the mountains and sea. Yes, the Caribbean is great in the winter, but this is so nice to come home to. I'm going to get caught up on the blogs I follow and get back into the swing of blogging again. I found my self missing the contact and the stimulation. Made me determined to keep this important new part of my life, well, part of my life!
All that said, I did have a fabulous time in Trinidad with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. The world through the eyes of a 7 and 4 year old is ever new and exciting. They see it all as a great adventure and it's contagious. But more about that later. Antigua, good friends and important work was lovely as well. So many stories...