Italy: The Lake Country
rgstejskal
 Our first day of our "lake region and Greek isle" tour began with the typical trial by airplane. Our flights were from Albuquerque to Atlanta, Atlanta to the the Netherlands and Netherlands to Milan. We left on Friday at mid day and arrived tired and blurry on Saturday evening due to some sort of time warp and 20 hours of flying. I wasn't particularly comforted by Sandra's remark that at least we weren't flying to Australia.

We were met at the airport and whisked to the lake region about an hour north of Milan. Our hotel sat right on Lake Magegori. I can't even begin to describe the hotel. It was huge and done up in some sort of grand style that I have yet to name. It was covered in mirrors, gold and marble. Even the elevators were marble covered. I think we shared the place with at least four other tours and one wedding party. Feeding was done in three dining rooms all hung with dozens of crystal chandeliers and serving hundreds of folks all at once. Our bathroom had a tub and a shower all in marble. A small glass of wine cost 6E's (and I spilled half of mine).

After diner, we crashed out. Woke up late for breakfast and nearly missing our first sojourn via bus to Lake Como. In fact Sandra nearly was left at the hotel. "We have to leave now." Why? I am not sure, perhaps so we would hit our first rest stop on time. 

Italy has the feel of a country that's been used. It's worn. The area we were is the main industrial hub of Italy north of Milan. It is also the wealthiest. So there are factories and warehouses surrounded by fields still being farmed and old abandon farmhouses. We were up close to Switzerland. The mountains were visable both to the north and south (Alps and Dolomites).

Our bus ran along the lake and then into a pretty heavily industrial area between our hotel near the town of Stressa and Lake Como. Along the lake shore hung large vacation houses, villas. Both Magegori and Como are Italian vacation spots and are heavily visited even at this time of year. Como is composed of a wonderful small old town surrounded on three sides by a more modern town. The fourth side is Lake Como. Alexander Volta lived here. A street and a square are named for him and the square has a nice statue of the father of electricity. We spent the better part of the morning and some of the afternoon wandering about, taking many photos, and shopping. Lunch was alfresco in a square near one of the cathedrals (actually everywhere was near at least one church or another). I had spaghetti carbonara and a nice red wine.

On the way back to the Hotel we stopped at Stressa for some more wandering and shopping. The high point was a wine tasting in one of the local shops. It was actually a wine tasting food seminar. The shop owner's wife doled out wine and showed off a wonderful olive oil and a very special balsamic vinegar.



 

 
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Holidays?
rgstejskal
It's getting closer. We are heading to Seattle soon. We are keeping an
eye on the weather, hoping for a good flying day for all concerned.

We are blasting away at the house. Trying to clear the debris we
constantly live in so the house sitter doesn't feel she is in a junk
store. Of course, I had to start one construction project with the idea
it would be finished long before now. It isn't.

When the time comes, we'll pack it up and pack it in....

We are looking forward to being entertained with tales of Africa and
Turkey all the while drinking Mike's beer and Washington's best Pinot
Nior, eating great food, enjoying fine family members and the grand
Northwest. I have found numerous oriental antique stores I wish to visit
and, much to Sandra's delight, a car museum in Tacoma.

I worked my last work day yesterday. I don't have to be back until the
6th. Unfortunately they've been cutting hours. I work 6 hours that week.
The good side is that the rest of the week is mine. The bad news is that
I'll spend most of it collecting aluminum cans.

Riley has a few more days worth of computer classes to finish. She'll be
traveling with her lap top. We are hoping the William's household will
allow her internet access. If not she'll be at Starbuck's. Sandra is not
working right now. She may be joining me as we search for cans.

Tonight the city lights up the luminarias, whole neighborhoods will be
aglow, literally, with thousands of paper bags with votive candles
inside. Old Town Plaza will be ringed with light, alive with people and
fragrant with pine wood smoke and bus exhaust (tour groups touring the
neighborhoods via bus rather than car). Tomorrow the city rolls in on
itself as folks gather at home.

Forgive my waxing poetic, but despite my cynical non-religious nature it
is all very emotional. None of us can escape our own history. I have
been buried in Christmas decorations since September at work. In all of
it there was not one manger, not one baby Jesus. There was a Barbie
disguised as an angel. Home Depot seems to be a metaphor for our
society. I hope that a few of the messages get through the rush and
bustle of aquisition and gifting. That there is an occasional thought of
peace, brotherhood and caring for those who have a lot less than we do.
But, then for me that is my thought for every year, month, week, day.......

Happy Holidays my friends!

Saturday
rgstejskal
Sandra, Sofie and I walked the grower's market this morning. It is a crisp blue skied day. Feels exactly as October should feel. Market was pretty much the same as last year, last week, everyother one. But, it is always fun to see the people, dogs, produce and stuff.
Fig tree man was there, as were numerous pastries and food things. I am never ready to eat that early.
The black of the last few weeks has lifted some. Life is just flat and gray with the sun breaking through briefly, teasingly.
I think that today I'll start cleaning up the backyard. We still have limbs to cut and lots of wood to move towards the back of the yard for hauling away.

black lands
rgstejskal
The last two days I have been in the black lands of depression. I am angry and sad and verging on total despair. It is not a good place to be.

I am angry at Sandra. I am tired of her critical remarks. I feel like I am either puffed up with justifications or feeling totally inadequate. Is this what 27 years of marriage is about?

My creative life is in the toilet. All gone. And, really no desire to move it to a new place. I'd rather read and piddle about. So what is left? Memories of shows and work and creative dreaming. Joesph Heller, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man. Too much me.

I distrust making decisions in this place. I tend to try to act in broad strokes to just get the hell out of here (nice pun). I'd risk everything to lop of the blackness. The re-occurrence bothers me. I keep slipping back here. Medications only sand the edges off. What would I do? Retreat into some sort of cave to live in comfortable solitude? Doesn't sound that bad.

Nothing
rgstejskal
I just got home from work. As usual I am tired. I think it is the being there rather than the work as today was pretty easy. I really have very little to say. I have been thinking a lot. I mean creative thinking, not just farting around thinking.
I visited with Sarah yesterday at their new foundry. Pretty cool space in the north valley on 2nd street. Nice to see her and to talk. She is doing some remarkable casts of birds. And, she mentioned the whole thing about the Tibetan sky burials. I pulled it up on line. Pretty intense but also pretty cool when you think of it in ecological terms.
I'm working on the last chapter of China Meilville's latest. It is a really good book once you get going with it. It starts of making some assumptions about what the reader knows and doesn't bother with explanations until 1/4 of the way into it.
This, the last day of summerad he weather people are forecasting snow for Tuesday in the mountains.

the other night
rgstejskal
The sky was the color of washed out Ektachrome; greens I'd never seen before.
I found Ian Mcdonald's journal site. Twice blessed.
Reading his Desolation Road. The man writes so well. I get wound up so far with one description nothing else matters. Perhaps it is the way clay use to feel to me. So effortless that others were in awe.
Now if I could find the joy in either words or caly, I'd be happy.

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