Tag Archives: Rome

At Last

muse-goddess-thalia Neighbors of ours for a number of years in Seattle recently moved to another home, another neighborhood across the lake. When they first moved in they were a newly married couple. Now they’re a family of four, and their search was predicated around proximity to a choice preschool and high ranking public school system. As I watched the moving van roll off with the contents of their home, I felt an abiding sadness.

I wanted to be in their shoes, for I knew what to do then too.

Our first baby hadn’t taken her first step yet in San Diego, when I whisked my family off to take residence in the nationally recognized “Blue Ribbon” Poway School District. With children grown and gone now, it’s more difficult to know what to do.

Nevertheless, we’re trying. The house remodel on San Juan Island, I realize, is nothing less than a life remodel.

Perhaps because of the extensive area they cover, flooring and wall color took an inordinate amount of time. Good thing we called out hardwood floors throughout and one color for the walls. Initially my husband longed for a blond wood, while I was drawn to dark. What we wound up with is a wide boarded medley of grayed browns, reminiscent of weathered piers and docks. Both of us are at home on that.

Following floors, when the 9 1/2′ cut yew log went up as a mantle, the wall behind it cried out for rock. Until then we had been drawing up some sort of fireplace surround. It was our contractor, Shawn Kleine, who heard the cry. The entire wall should be faced with rock. It was, and it was good.

But I was in danger of being browned out.

If there is one thing I know about interiors, it is that a room should have a foot in both masculine and feminine worlds. By that I mean wood, rock, and steel, should be augmented by something light, soft and airy. So as wood planks went up on the cathedral ceiling, I whitewashed the boards. The cross beams were then painted out white. Benjamin Moore’s pure clean “Chantilly Lace White.”

I was getting happier, but it was still not enough for this rugged room.

Then the skylights opened up and the quartz island top arrived, basically a white with a bit of gray/brown/black. A gender-neutral gray quartz went down like a runway on countertops. And above it, Carrera marble subway tiles, reaching to the ceiling. Like a crescendo.

This is where my heart stops.

It’s like watching Rome being built. No better, classical Greece. Light seems to pour through these tiles as if they were made of liquid or glass. I have never been as inspired to cook as I am now, standing before this marble. I could dance.

Maybe everything is going to be alright.


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Under the Tuscan Umbrella

I had the good fortune this month to attend the Travel, Food and Wine Writing Workshop in Tuscany with Nick O’Connell. A group of writers drove and flew in from France, Australia and The States to wine and dine and concoct stories as varied and honest as a Tuscan stew or ragu.

Landing in Rome I would have know exactly where in the world I was, if I had been transported there in my sleep–which of course I was. The villas, the landscape. The planted trees atop hills spaced like musical notes….

We considered ourselves fortunate for the verdant green landscape. Deep forests, gray-green olive groves, promising vineyards, and fields of bright yellow Scottish Broom punctuated with orange-red poppies. At this time of year, we were told, the hillsides are typically gold.

I should have known, for we had flown atop a mattress of cloud all the way.

In Siena my friend and I sat under café awnings in the shell shaped piazza, the Campo, watching monsoon rains wash the stones and run down Roman aqueducts. But for the most part, it was a soft rain with sunbreaks.

Our group walked the vineyards, and strolled among monks in the abbeys. Hiked La Madonna, the path along the perimeter of the hilltop town of Montalcino, where the park drops off into the view like an infinity pool.

When we weren’t eating, drinking or writing, we were walking….

Tuscany is rose country. Roses grow over walls, roofs, and over all, like bougainvillaea along the Riviera.

I fell in love with bells in Siena. Bouquets of bells, from every church and cathedral. But before the bells, an owl woke us each morning. Carried through the narrow canyons of city streets, the three same notes, then silence. Three notes, and silence….

People in Tuscany are very present. The people of Tuscany are not on cell phones.


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