Vesuvius

I have no idea how this entry will appear to my readers.  It’s one in the morning only 14 train stops from the base of Mount Vesuvius.  July 27th and it will be my Mom’s birthday!  First time I haven’t been home to send off a birthday card in all of these years….so happy birthday Mom!  Today my daughter and I wandered Pompeii for no less than five hours together…I have to tell you that it was absolutely amazing to be stepping into history….a history before Christ…a time when the earth was in an earthquake upheaval….when human beings tried their best to rebuild, only to face a volcano!  What an amazing commentary about the human spirit…such a huge history of both warfare and natural catastrophe….and there we were walking in the very spot where all of this happened!

I miss my children at home…and my Laurie-dog and Peanut-meister…but I am also quite aware of how blessed I am to be sharing this experience with my first-born.  

As I travel, I can not help but wish that people would take better care of their environment.  The world is such an amazing place and yet some of us truly take its magic for granted.  If there is anything I have learned, it is that we are all the same…and that for certain, there are some of us who care about our water, air and earth and there are others who do not give it a second thought.  What a beautiful world we live in!  This is an experience that moves me…it causes me to feel deeply!

IMG_1408P35 P37P51

 



Waterloo Station

I’m off on another adventure this morning!  I spent yesterday orienting myself in Watford, having never ventured out on my own in such a place as this.  I did well to go out on my own and discover places and things.  I bought myself some lunch and sat out in the center to eat it…mango drink and a chicken caesar salad….listened to the voices of people…accents…languages and marveled that I was even a part of the scene.  I wrote postcards while pigeons with rosey legs and feet strutted nearby, seeing if I had even a wee bit left for them.  The Londoners find these to be pests, but for me there is little context and I enjoy the experience of their varied markings and their obvious interest in what I’m doing.
 
This morning, after a nice cup of coffee, I’m heading out on the line myself.  Hmmm…absolutely don’t know what this will be like.  I need to get myself to Waterloo Station and meet my artist-friend in good time.  Then there will be a bit of a compromise go on because I want to see Ophelia in the Tate Britain because she was away visiting other countries when I was last here…and I know that there’s also a big Salvador Dali exhibit at the Tate Modern.  It should be an interesting discussion.
 
There is a certain etiquette required on the tube, as well as an understanding for reading schedules and meeting connecting trains.  It’s always a jostle of bodies as sometimes it feels like this city is where everyone in the world congregates to a center.  I’m elated and wary at the same time.
 
Tonight, at 4 in the morning we head for a flight into Palermo.  Georgio of our bed and breakfast will meet us off of our connecting train and we will spend three days adventuring Sicily.  I have brought a companion book along for this journey, one shared some time ago by a friend. 
 
The book is titled Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun.  In it, there are wonderful tidbits of information about a holiday shared with her husband in Sicily.  In these chapters she writes that Galileo said, “Wine is light, held together by water.”  In Sicily inconspicuous yellow road signs point to countless vineyards.
 
I know that I wish to visit Motepulciano where three reserve wines were named after a poet who ‘made it big’ in the area, Poliziano.   The three wines are Le Stanze, Ambrae and Elegia…San Biagio is the church I would like to see there…positioned at the end of a cypress-lined drive and built in golden stone that apparently glows in the warmth of afternoon light.  Ahhh….there is so much that I anticipate.  Finally we have made our reservations to spend two nights in Assisi at St. Anthony’s convent.
 
Time for that coffee and my shower and the next adventure.
 

L67

London/Brighton

I arrived in London, England early in the morning Friday, the 13th of July…a light fog, but a pretty uneventful landing and a step into a strange, old and hugely busy place!  A couple of trains later and I found myself stepping into my oldest daughter’s world…a place where large snails come crawling out of the damp rich green and out onto the sidewalks late at night.  Large hydrangeas bloom by the roadside and roses triple the size of ours at home in Canada, grow everywhere.
IMG_0901 IMG_0923
 
I love the brick houses, row on row, topped with terra cotta shingles/tiles and stacked chimneys reminding me again and again of scenes from Mary Poppins.  Although I’m experiencing a tremendous lag, I’m absolutely present to the new sites and sounds and relishing every moment of it.

It was beautiful to be standing at the edge of the English Channel yesterday…smelling salty air and enjoying the carnival atmosphere of Brighton.  I picked up a couple of water-worn seashells and my daughter passed me an accompanying stone formed much like a vessel…I feel so happy about it all

We were visiting Brighton, not only to visit such wee shops as The Mad Hatter and little second-hand shops in search of Grindley porcelain creamers, but also to take in a wonderful pub dinner followed by a Damien Rice concert.  He was in ‘magical’ form and from a central position in front of the stage I managed some great photographs…he shared several disjointed narratives that left us smiling…and his music was powerfully presented through his dynamic vocals and writing.  An awesome evening…topped with a flat tire on a major highway…and the change of that very tire through some excellent teamwork and good will.  I’ve not brought my cord for posting photographs, so will have to share those when I return to Canada…and I will not have access for the journey through Italy….thought I’d just get a brief note posted here this morning while you back at home, begin your night’s sleep.  Good night.
 

Celebration

I’m grabbing a quick moment while the house is quiet to jot down a few sketchy impressions of what’s been happening since finishing my school year.  The family reunion was a ‘magical’ event on June 31, July 1st and 2nd…reconnecting many wonderful people from all over, after such a long time.  I’ve tried to archive this special few days in my photo journal….a parade, camping, a family program sharing talents and a quick drive into Magrath for a picnic as well as a visit to one of my favourite hills in the Lethbridge coulees overlooking the Oldman River.  There, I was able to show my niece and nephew where I used to harvest rose hips and cactus berries.  I was thrilled to share this with my old Laurie-dog as well.  The highlight of the reunion weekend was the fact that my mother and father surprised us all by showing up, traveling all of the way from Ontario via the highway yet again. 
 
Here at home then, there have been many shared meals, conversation and some touring about.  We’ve spent time at Riley Park, Elbow Falls and shared stories over barbecued salmon, steak and ribs.  A busy time, but time well-spent and important to our family.  I couldn’t be happier.  After the Stampede Parade (pink font today to recognize the fact that an effort is being made to raise funds and awareness around treatments/cures of breast cancer) my sister and brother-in-law headed for Edmonton with my niece and nephew….so these next couple of days are just for Mom, Dad, me and my children. 
 
Somewhere in the midst of all of it, I am putting sense to the big trip that comes up for me early next week…I have a backpack, some Euros, straps for my bedroll….and I’m just now sorting out the items that I will bring along.  Recent talk that cars can not park at Gatwick has me somewhat concerned, but thinking likely I can figure a train and another meeting place all on my own.  I am an adventurer at heart and know that this trip is giving me an opportunity to reconnect with some of that innate love of the ‘unpredictable’.  I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter again…seeing Damien Rice in Brighton….traveling Italy in a whirlwind…eating olives…drinking wine….enjoying architecture….stepping into the Vatican….being in close proximity to Etna and Vesuvius…..the chapel at Assisi…..soaking up light in Tuscany and Siena….meeting my artist-friend for a trip under the channel to Paris and then grabbing a bus to Giverny…painting waterlilies on postcards….relishing moment after moment.  I will try to be in touch via internet cafes, but will likely just maintain journals until I return home and then catch my readers up at that juncture.  Wishing you all a beautiful, restful and blessed summer.