Tag Archives: travel

Editing cloth and prose

The base. Pieced. Bottom left sea green patch bugs me and presents itself as a problem to be solved.

What if I go back to my hybrid method of quilting? I used to combine piecing and appliqué in a somewhat slapdash way that embarrasses me a little now. It sent me into a purist phase — everything must be pieced! What if I now consider some of those “nice” purely pieced quilts as unfinished — or at least, as potential canvases?

How much fun to defy the lines of the seams and extend patterning in a spirit of play?

And, as always, how about adding more houses? The pinned one on the left, believe it or not, is a “discovered” house, fussy cut from a rayon blouse. The green house to the right was made by simply topping a vertical rectangle with a roof.

There are so many more pictures of Italy to share but they already feel like old news. But I will be sharing more, if you don’t mind… along with a half dozen mini book reviews. They’re piling up! Turning into homework (ugh!)

One Assisi insight (not profound at all but hear me out): when you’re not walking the dog, cleaning the house, watching two MSNBC news programs a day, cooking dinner most nights, and tending a demanding mentally and physically ill sibling, a charge whose hours of attention are preceded by dread and followed by a period of demoralized recovery — there are a lot of hours in the day! In Italy, I had soooo much time! Time to wander the streets. Time to drink Caffè machiatto at the bar with the old men. Time to light candles for my sister all over the city. Time to read and write and quilt.

(My street — San Rufino Ave).

I am watching how I vacuum and scrub and now garden (yes!) to avoid the page.

It’s a process. And I miss my sister more here than I did there, particularly (and ironically because it was a place of ongoing tension), whenever the phone rings. It rings and I think: it will never again be her.

But you’ll be happy to know that of the 200+ chapters in my manuscript (Blood and Indigo), all but a handful have received a hard edit. One of the best things I did in Italy at the advice of fellow-writing-resident– the supremely lovely, warm, insightful and generous Argentinian writer, Elena Bossi — was to chop a lot of dull descriptions of interior crap and replace them with dialogue. What a good piece of advice that was!

Maybe that was one of the reasons I was so taken with the statute of David at the Cathedral of San Rufino — the dynamism of his raised arm, about to strike! I deleted two entire chapters while I was at it. Highlight, click! Highlight, click!

And what a pleasure to come home to a world exploding with the extravagance of spring.

Sunday Assisi Walk Part I

How endless the visual and historical delight is here! This morning I went back to visit San Rufino, a cathedral I’ve now been to seven or eight times. Since I went on the Roman Antiquities tour yesterday — an absolute subterranean wonder, medieval Assisi having been built on top of a first century Roman town– I paid more attention to what is under the Cathedral… the layers of civilization and time in plain view.

Above: the front rose window from the outside on Good Friday and from inside this morning, reflected in the glass flooring that’s been used in order to reveal Roman wall work underneath.

On one side of the cathedral, next to statues of Jesus, Mary, David, Isaiah and others, is a preserved arch opening into an ancient Roman space.

Here, a hokey inclusion of my own shadow to hint at the insubstantial brevity of this life.

Speaking of life passing, one of the blessings of being here has been distraction from the last months of my sister’s struggle. I’ve lit candles for her all over the city and shared a little about her with a new friend, but otherwise not much — not much memory or hand-wringing. This morning, I threw coins into a pool at Santa Chiara (my sister’s middle name being Claire, recall), one each for K, the boys, me, and her.

Not three minutes later, there was a beautiful and perfect feather in my path. Some say finding a feather means an Angel is near. I thought cynically, it also means pigeons are near. But then, not two feet away, I found a sticker emblazoned with a pentagram, a symbol important in magic generally and to my sister personally. And so, there she was. Hello, Noreen!

I took out the little owl that I’ve been carrying around in my pocket (one of hers) and photographed it near a new picture of Francis in her honor from my favorite perch of this visit — my chair by the windowsill. Need I say — I am a sucker for religious iconography?

I finished the first Assisi-inspired quilt (below) and am rushing to finishing another to give my host before I leave.

Didn’t get to share pix of the sweet cafe where I had breakfast or the many incredible street views returning home, but look how long this is already. I’m going to load some wall and door pix on Flickr and otherwise will be posting about this trip for weeks to come!

Home Tuesday. Apologies for not commenting on blogs right now. Can’t wait to catch up with Jude’s class and Happy Birthday, Nancy!!!

Palm Sunday in Rome

Palm Sunday in Rome — we ought to go to Mass, right? How to find a Catholic Church? Just kidding. Every block has one, maybe two, although it isn’t always easy to tell. “It’s either a church or a luggage store,” K quips to my pointing. We enter a building. No empty seats. Mass already in progress. For a pedestrian church, it is spectacular: walls and ceilings lavishly painted, gilt-raised frames, and a beautifully tiled floor. The Saints approve. But we exit anyhow, the blessed water on the brow not yet dry. Turns out I’m a 90-second Catholic, which is to say, a former Catholic, or a recovering Catholic, or not a Catholic at all. Take your pick.

So off we go, heading over to the wide, people-filled Piazza del Popola. There are singers, tourists, lots of us, and protestors. I shoot hostile looks at the silent Anonymous clump, surely protesting the recent arrest of Assange, that rat-faced fucker. Surely, they’d frame his wrong doing in a First Amendment paradigm, overlooking his gigantically successful attempt to bring down the West and BTW how do they square the fact that Wikileaks’ sweeping and supposedly neutral disclosures never harm Putin?

I don’t suppose you can tell what I think of Assange?

If you combine the fact that Assange’s underlying charge is rape with his notorious hatred of Hillary Clinton, you could alternately view his take down of the Western World as a petty, little-dicked man’s misogyny.

On twitter, pundits I admire say: watch who supports Assange. Who is calling him a “journalist?” Check out @gregolear on Twitter for more.

“Tulsi Gabbard is the Jill Stein of Hawaii,” said one of my favorite tweets (sorry can’t find to attribute).

But hey! There’s espresso and rosemary-sprinkled focaccia in the offing, so these depressing thoughts are shunted aside. We crossed the Tiber in search of a cafe with outdoor seating. Lovely!

I had TWO espressos, hoping it’ll help tide me through a three hour tour at the Villa Borghesi (my attention at museums tends to wane at the one hour mark, I’m afraid).

This, believe it or not, is a cafe. Not sure I’d want to eat with this crew watching me.

I’ve been shooting tons of pictures of the walls here in Rome — each distressed surface more glorious than the last. I’ll bore you with those another time. But for now, here’s a shot of sculptural daisy that inspired hopes of a wishing wall. I might even have been framing my own wish when I pulled out a dusty drug store receipt. Ick!

However, yesterday, at the Santa Ignazio di Loyola, where we oohed and aahed over a well-known tromp l’oeil dome painting (apparently executed when the builders ran out of funds), I did light a candle for my sister.

I’ll close with a few pictures of the interior of the Pantheon. It was all about the light.

Looking back and forward

Tomorrow, Salem apartment inspection and key hand over. A finality, there.

The house and garage at this end are stuffed in spite of vigorous give aways and throw outs. But it can all wait ’til I get back.

This windowsill photo was taken roughly one year before my sister died just before the movers came. Who knew how little time she had left.

Aside from an eye hemorrhaged enough to warrant an urgent care visit yesterday, everything continues apace. The crocus are up, Euros obtained, tickets to the Villa Borghesi purchased, and a keyboard for tablet ordered (my old lap top is heavy!)

Also: filled the freezer with chicken pot pies, single serve pizzas, and meatballs. Otherwise, in my absence K might subsist on rice cakes and peanut butter (funny. Not funny).

It looks like I’ll be needing a raincoat in Italy and guess what? I DON’T CARE.