Italy part 2

Why did it seem so surreal? So much that it felt impossible to be present in the moment. I tried. I suppose I'll have to go back and try harder next time. 
This photo was taken in Cortona, just outside the city center. The whole villiage is perched on a steep hillside, and the views overlooking Tuscany were amazing. I'm pretty sure this flowering vine is Jasmine, because it smelled amazing. While we were in Cortona, a few memorable things happened. 
We witnessed a slow motion Italian road rage incident. Both men hopped out of the (tiny) cars and gave 98 hand gestures per minute, while yelling at one another. No guns were brandished, and they both walked away without incident. 
We had a fantastic meal al fresco...and I bought myself some perfume. It's incredible. It smells just like a perfume I would create just for me. 

I'm fairly certain this is in Cortona. I will always be fascinated by small side streets. 

This is inside the duomo in Siena. It was very crowded, and I had been inside on our first trip, so we didn't spend much time here. I wanted the kids to see it, though. Interestingly, it was free entrance in 2012, and now it costs $13 per person. Even more if you want to see the chapel. I noticed that several locations now charge an entrance fee. I suppose it's for maintenance and upkeep. While we were there, a tourist from the UK carved his initials into the wall of an ancient ruins. The mood amongst the locals was not too pleasant with regards to tourists. I suppose they've had an increase in numbers since covid, and Americans tend to be the most obnoxious. More on that later. 

The view coming down from the top of the village in Cortona. 

This is inside the duomo in Siena. These are the likenesses of former popes, which seemed morbid to me. I wasn't interested in the papacy (sp?) at all this time. The gilded excess seemed even more excessive. 

I'll always take a photo of a bike next to flowers. This was in a village on an island in the middle of a lake in Tuscany.  :p

This guy was having the time of his life. He and his entire wedding party had lunch at the table next to us, and he was happy to hug anyone within arm's length. Moments like this make me want to go back. 

 And here we end with another bike next to flowers. It's a favorite theme of mine. 

Next time I'll post black and white photos taken in Venice. 


Great presentation. They say that if you put flowers on your bicycle, it makes it easy to recognize and distinguish from all the others. It personalizes it and makes it yours. It's also an easy means of leisurely travel.

Perhaps if you park your bicycle (means of travel) next to a home with its' walls covered in flowers, you could make it your own... at least for as long as it remains parked there.

Looks like you had a great time. I'm NVS.
ps - I'm glad that you brought a reminding fragrance of Italy home. It will definitely help bring back and enhance these fond memories and help remind those in your presence of them. A gift your both yourself and others. :)
Jen said…
I would park my bike in Tuscany, Ambra to be precise. I would happily sweep the cafe floors to pay my rent. I love it there.

But my next trip will be to Ireland, hopefully.

I might change my mind and park my bike in county Cork! I'm already dreaming about the green fields and having a pint in the pub...
Sounds like an adventure to look forward to.

Me, I can't wait until the baseball season is over and I can get my evening routine back (my wife's a big fan). :)
Jen said…
Tell me about it! The Rangers played the Diamondbacks in game 1 tonight and everyone's happy at the moment. It's been nothing but baseball around here lately... Except when football is on. Lol
...Yes college football's definitely getting on my nerves... @@
...fortunately the only "must-see" weekly game now is the Ravens. The Orioles used to be on 4-5 times a week. I really don't get it. My sons all hate sports, but my wife and daughter are like Superfans...
Jen said…
I don't get it either, and I played sports my entire childhood. I much prefer amateur sports to professional.

I think we're desperate for something to bring us together and give us a reason to be excited. But who knows...
Jen said…
Book recommendation: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

So good and so beautiful.

I'm desperate for beauty these days. 😢
Given all the craziness in our world today, I can't say as I blame you.

I have been finding snippets, now and again. And thanks to you, perhaps I'll soon find another in your book recommendation. Thanks :)

I'm going to a Veterans luncheon at the local Veterans Center tomorrow. Maybe I'll find some there as well. If not, a little face-to-face contact with friends and new acquaintances may help. Not quite beauty, but good conversation is good conversation.
Hmmmm... it's also a Netflix series???? I'll have to look for it.
Jen said…
Good conversation with friends it's important these days. I hope you had a good visit.

I just finished the series on Netflix and it was worth the watch. High Laurie was really good in it.

They changed the ending considerably, though.

Next up on my audiobook adventures: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I need some stoicism in my life right now.
The Vets are always fun... and the price was right... "free". They had good speaker, a Marine Gunnery Sgt that did 15 years before getting out and going to work for the VA. It was approaching both the USMC Birthday (11/10) and Veterans Day (11/11), and he brought all the old timers up on recent changes to the Corps... like getting rid of tanks. I also sat next to a slightly younger Marine in his fifties who had been stationed all around the globe and done some Embassy duty. You always meet new people and get to swap old stories.

I still haven't watched it on Netflix. We're still finishing up a few other series (Nancy Drew) before starting another. That, and an occasionally movie, like "A Haunting in Venice". I'm a sucker for Agatha Christie's Poirot, but still uncomfortable with anyone but David Suchet in the role. I did solve it before the "reveal" though. It was fun.

I read the first half of "Meditations". I admire the Stoics, but I'm far too a pampered epicure to attempt it. You won't find me at any Spartan Syssitias.

Let me know when you're done, and maybe we can compare notes. :)
btw - I watched a wonderful adaptation of "The Little Price" narrated by Kenneth Branaugh??? I posted it at my hideout. I read in wikipedia that it's the 2nd best selling book of all time (after the Bible). I now understand "why". You searched for fleeting Beauty once, so now you reach for Stoicism. Perhaps you need a bit of both... I know I do. least in the moments after Beauty flown, when I lapse into memories or often, regret...

Ralph, Waldo Emerson, "Days"

Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
And marching single in an endless file,
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
To each they offer gifts after his will,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all.
I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.
The curse of France and the Sea of Flames... ended forever.
...and immortality denied the 3rd Reich.
Jen said…
I *think* the ending was slightly different in the audio book.

But I thought it was a great story!
I suppose film has a greater symbolic range... too tempting to deny directorial embellishments.
I find myself coming back to these "Italy" posts. I love the flowers...

My wife has a number of paintings of flowers hung around the house. They're not nearly as pretty as photo's of them might be... in the absence of the real article, anyways.
If you blew these pictures up and framed them, I'd bet you that people would pay good money for them. Just saying.
Jen said…
Well thank you!
Jen said…
I'm glad you get something from them. I wish you could smell the fragrance of the jasmine, rosemary, and lavender. Standing next to a wall of lavender in Cortona, I could hear the bees buzzing from a distance. When I'm there, I feel more alive. I wish I could replicate that experience at home.
That's because when you go, you enter a sacred space divided from your "normality" by two airplane gates. All you need to recreate it is a suitable "space" some torii to "mark it off", and a "ritual" time set aside to take you there. ;)
As Candide once said, "You must cultivate your own garden", for both yourself, and your family. Eevn if it merely be a folly garden.

Enjoy life now! Lent doesn't begin until tomorrow. ;)
Jen said…
Happy Mardi Gras!

For Lent, I gave up hope for our country. Just kidding. Kinda.

I'm gonna go ahead and ask my doctor to up my cymbalta, since we can all see where we're headed. I voted for Nikki so in the general election it guess I'll have to Google who the latest Libertarian candidate is.

On a different but related note, I found an Instagram page for alienated Christians who are neither Trump supporters or Christian nationalists. I felt so comforted knowing how many of us are out there. Then I made the mistake of reading the comments section and saw how the nationalists (evangelicals?) had come to the conclusion that we were never really Christian to begin with if we had left the evangelical church. Who knew??

I try so hard to be optimistic, but I think we're headed towards bad things ahead.
Jen said…
But hey, I've got some exciting news for you guys.

RFK Jr...? :)

So... dish. :)
Jen said…
RFK Jr is more than a little wacky but hey, I'd vote for him over the other 2.

Other options:
Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney
... Mickey Mouse
... Mickey Rourke
... Mickey Rooney

Jen said…
And the dish is, I'm traveling to Zambia in April on a medical mission trip. I'm so excited!!
Hmmm... comments disappearing.

I'm excited for you! Sounds like an adventure of a lifetime. Gone long? Will you be doing PT, or something else? I am NVS...
Jen said…
Weird that comments are missing.

I'll be gone for 12 days, working at a medical clinic to help with stroke rehab, dental procedures, and whatever else needs done.
It's not you (missing comments), it's me. I made the mistake of creating a new profile inside the Chrome browser (as you know, I blog under several different avatars). It doesn't recognize me unless I log in with a specific combination. It posts the comment back to me, but when I return later in a new session, I discover that the comment never actually posted to Blogger (or WordPress).

Two weeks. Sounds like just enough time to make a contribution, and not get burnt out of collapse from empathy fatigue.

Jen said…
Question: do you ever retire your avatars or do they just join an ever-growing family of mischief-makers? ;)

Yes, 12 days sounds about right. We'll have a meeting this Saturday to discuss all the important stuff, such as emotional overload and whatnot.
Officially retire avatars? No... but it gets harder and harder to log into them. Every time I do, it screws up my browser, as they have different passwords in different applications (ie- mail, google, youtube, etc.)... and so the apps lock me out until I go through the whole e-mail to app chain of "verifying my identity".

I watched a couple of YouTubes on Zambia the other day. Looks pretty cool. Victoria Falls/ Zambezi River? Like a childhood fantasy of mine (big game hunter). Not very PC, I know... ;)

So any of your medical team-mates experienced in these aid missions? Hope you meeting goes well and they give you a good feeling as to what to expect. Are you going to be in the bush roughing it/ camping, or in the clinic of some local towns with more comfortable facilities? I'm totally shooting in the dark, here. Hopefully they'll show you some training films so you'll know what to pack. ;)
btw - I look forward to the photos you'll post, and the enchanting happenings that connect them all and restore to them their auras. :)

The disenchantment of the world is expressed in de-auratization. The aura is the radiance that raises the world above its mere facticity, the mysterious veil around things. The aura has a narrative core. Benjamin points out that the narrative memory images of mémoire involontaire possess an aura, whereas photographic images do not: “If the distinctive feature of the images arising from mémoire involontaire is seen in their aura, then photography is decisively implicated in the phenomenon of a ‘decline of the aura.’ ”

Photographs are distinguished from memory images by their lack of narrative inwardness. Photographs represent what is there without internalizing it. They do not mean anything. Memory as narration, by contrast, does not represent a spatiotemporal continuum. Rather, it is based on a narrative selection. Unlike photography, memory is decidedly arbitrary and incomplete. It expands or contracts temporal distances. It leaves out years or decades. Narrativity is opposed to logical facticity.
Jen said…
FJ, we'll have a team of 15 people going, 13 have been multiple times. We've got dentists and a nurse or two and the rest are "civilians". I'm hoping to help with a few dental procedures. I'm also going to assist in setting up a recovery program for people who have experienced a stroke.

We will be staying in a small village, about 30 minutes away from the nearest town. We'll be sleeping at the monastery! It's mosquito season and they seem to love me, so I'm stocked up on all kinds of remedies. I'll start taking my anti-malaria meds today.

My hope is that this experience "resets" the "aura" in my soul. I'm hyper focused on things I can't control, and that just takes the beauty out of life.

It will be an adventure. A mosquito net/tent for sleeping might come in handy. My son and I once attended a summer camp at Parker Mountain in NH, and we both took these little tenty things that just covered the parts outside a sleepy bag (head and arms) It worked out well, as we were sleeping on cots inside these huge canvas tents that you find at many Scout facilities (full of spiders and crawly things).

Of course, I used to go camping all the time in Venezuela. Never caught Malaria... the shots worked just fine. :)

I'm excited for you! We could all use a good "aura reset"! As for me, it may not be "Jesus take the wheel"... but I don't try and control much anymore. If only I could kick this internet routing, my life would be largely "stress free".

I need to channel more Byung-Chul Han. Regain a feeling for the "fragrance of time". ;)

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