Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Filosofia of Flies

​Classic Fly   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 10 x 12"  25 x 30cm   75.00

​Fly on Back  Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 9 x 12"  23 x 30cm   75.00

​Fly with a Turquoise Wing   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 11 x 9"  28 x 23cm   75.00

Fly on Pink background   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 10x 12"  25 x 30cm   75.00

 Flies on a Gold Field  Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 8 x 14"  20 x 35cm   75.00

Rose   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 9 x 9"  23 x 23cm   75.00

If you were ever in doubt of the sophistication of Italy, consider this: there is a Philosophy Festival in Modena every year.  And, this year the theme is “Arti”, I like to think it is to coincide with our show in the very same town at the very same time.   The Festival Filosofia also touches outlying towns including Carpi and Sassuolo, but Modena is the heart.  The streets are full of thinkers, and many came to our show, which continues for one month.

This was all a great relief after having been plagued with the autumn scourge of FLIES.  They’ve been called the national bird of Italy and the punch line of many a joke.   But in a word, ANNOYING.  DISTRACTING.  Even INFURIATING.    Their inward migration has more to do with the change in temperature than cleanliness.  I leave nothing out on the kitchen counters; I wash the table more times a day than usual.

I try to find something good about flies.   From a philosophical standpoint, I was told that “the fly” keeps you in the moment.  Flies can raise you, during meditation, to another elemental plane.  All they do for me is raise my blood pressure.  They throw me off my game, be it painting or writing.  I use our nylon net pavilion outside for any “clean” work I need to do.

I was able to find surprisingly little material about flies on the Internet.  Spelled “fly” all those paid advertisements for air travel pop up; “flies” it is not much different.   I notice there is less information freely available online than there once was.   One must go to page three or four to get any independent input.  

We have hundreds of flies here each day;  I kill about 75.  We have fly swatters in every room.  Even at the Chinese store, I was unable to find any of those electric tennis racket zappers in stock.  So we struggle.

Which is when I decided to make the most of them:  painted.  All poses:  reclining, squashed, in flight.  Life size, which might be cut up into individual paintings, or larger, bigger than life F L I E S.    I have thought about varnishing those that have died peacefully, and attaching them to a straight pin one might wear in a lapel or on hat.  If I were to paint them in an overall single color, like yellow or puce, they might be interesting.  Although it could be tough to make it clear that it is a fly.  Thin paint, I guess. 

And if this hasn't been a sufficiently mundane post, let me add that I found an unopened bottle of scotch whiskey in the communal garbage dumpster today, while rummaging for yesterday’s Design issue of la Repubblica.  I didn’t find that, but it is available online.  There are hardly any flies around the dumpster.  There must be something philosophical in all that.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Artnotes: A Lively Stepper

 Two Puppets we made in France   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas12 x 8  30 x 20cm
 View at Casteletto   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   10.5 x 16  27 x 41cm
 From the Castello di Serravalle  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm
 ​Fall Fields, Grey Sky   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   12 x 16"  30 x 40cm  
 ​Harika, Back Side   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas    10 x 19.5  25 x 50cm   225.00
Sassi  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm

Artnotes:  A Lively Stepper

Today (the day I wrote this, 4 September) is Labor Day in America.  The day everyone takes it easy and has a picnic, signifying the end of the summer before going back to work.   All Western cultures seem to have this day, this moment, when we all get back to business.  The French say Bon Rentree and try to preserve their tan as long as possible.  The Italians wish a Buon Rientro, and those who didn’t vacation in the summer, or procrastinated, go now (this is the country of great procrastinators).  Lots of restaurants and small businesses are closed this week.

For me, it is the time to make my fourth quarter plan, getting my projects in before the close of the year.  We’ve got two art shows upcoming, a few guests, and we are working on a new business gig.  We’ll be coordinating art conservation workshops in conjunction with a conservator in the Northeast USA.  Italy is the perfect area for art conservation.  While France might support the arts, it is Italy that has the most old treasures.  So, we’ll buzz around the countryside seeking tumble-down churches and abandoned palazzos, and match-make them with aspiring conservators.

Meanwhile, we had a small painting workshop this week.  We had a wonderful time, even if we were the responsible party.  I painted three pictures on Wednesday; Blair, two.    I have had kind of a hard time getting back into the painting groove.  I think I need a new venue for a bit, like seeing the water lilies, or looking at Harika in a new way.  Being with two enthusiastic painters helps a lot.  When she thanked me for getting her “started”, I felt I should have said the same.

I have everyday plans, too, for the duration of 2017.  If I don’t write everything down, make a list, I don’t do anything.  This writing for example, is my 15-minute-a-day effort; painting is next on the list, which takes longer, and requires more specific inspiration, at least in my case.  I revisit the Art of Slow Travel, my upcoming book;  I learn Italian; I listen to inspiring speeches, or read inspiring articles at least twice a week.   And, oh, yeah, exercise.  

A thousand years ago, when Blair and I lived in Madison Park in Seattle, Washington, a woman named Sue told me I needed a plan.  She was recently sadly divorced and attributed the fall down of her marriage to having no roadmap for the future.  “You just can’t go through life with nothing in mind”, she asserted.  Having been just recently married, I took her words seriously, and have kept us as much on track as possible for the last 37 years.  

It’s not that we stay on our track – only a portion of our dreams come to fruition, and then half of them take twice as long as planned.   But’s it nice to have a dance card, and meet a lively stepper along the way.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Artnotes: Fun on the Agenda

 Waterlilies on the Shady Side   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30 cm  

 Waterlilies by the Road  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30 cm  

 Waterlilies in the Sun   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30 cm  

Fun on the Lake   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 10   20 x 25 cm

Every morning my father asks, “what’s on the agenda today?”  I admit it annoys me a little, like, why need there be anything on my agenda?  What if the day just unfolded?  What’s on his agenda? He’s 90; not much happening, and I realize it’s my job to make fun.

I saw a blue-black horse in a field; a giant Newfoundland with a Chihuahua friend.  There’s a million things to see, to paint, to write about if I just get out there.   I kickstarted my brain with a large coffee.  My cousin, just two days before, mentioned there were some outstanding waterlilies on Winchester Lake, and there was a booksale in Norfolk.   We chose to visit the latter but on further thought decided not to increase our airline weight.  On the way back to our house, we passed the most wonderful pond full of waterlilies.

We picked up our paints and returned to the site.  It was even better the second time we saw it.  We set up our easels near the busy highway, and left Harika in the car.  We can leave her there now, because last night the temperature was a chilly 48 degrees, and we barely hit the 70s in high sun.

Most cars just sped by, but suddenly there was terrific honking and waving.  My Aunt, in her red Alfa Romeo convertible, was driving past.  She made a quick U-turn and she and her daughter came to see what we were painting.  This led to talk of lunch, and an impromptu, and most enjoyable day.
We’ve had many amazing days on this trip to America.  Spontaneous.  Fun is on the agenda.               

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Artnotes: Years Ago

Me, Years Ago    Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm   275.00

​Years ago, I told our “god”daughter, “When you get married or have a baby, we’ll be there!”  Well, on 12 August, 2017, it was her wedding day.  We flew from Washington, DC, where we left Harika with her favorite pack, Keith and Larry, and attended the wedding of Kat and Chris (Milo) on Saturday.

We’d been present for most of Kat’s life.  She started life in our rental house in Georgetown, in Seattle.  She met her Dad for the first time there.  She would bark at our dog, Mutton, before learning to talk.   She’d wave to us from the window.  We left her upon our move to Paris, but she and her Dad came to visit more than once.  She learned French, and we visited with her French penpal in Provence.   A couple of years ago, she babysat Harika on rue de Rennes while we were away.

Gladiolas Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  8 x 10  20 x 25cm  90.00

This was a big trip within our trip this year – I’ve resisted a return to Seattle for ever so long.  I hate looking back in my life.  It’s a combination of a lust for the future, and a fear I made a mistake in leaving.  Had we stayed, we’d have been financially richer than we are now, but in fact we are so much richer in the experiences we would have missed if we had stayed.   We have friends, and art, in all corners of the globe.

Night Time at the Lake   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas   12 x 12"  30 x30cm   125.00

Seattle has changed almost beyond recognition since we were last there, in 2008.  As we stood on the bow of the ferry, it was hard to pick out distinguishing landmarks.   From our seats at the new baseball stadium, we located the Smith Tower, at one time the highest building west of the Mississippi.  A friend gave us “Terrace” tickets, and I had goosebumps as we watched the Mariners lose to the Angels (it wasn’t the game – in fact, I never really care who wins or loses, I just like to watch)…   Seattle was my home for fifteen years.

We went to a friend’s house by bus that night, skirting the terrible alt-right protest (for what? Life is beautiful in Seattle).  There was fighting at the bus stop between people who seemed to have just missed last call at the Star-Wars bar. A half-dozen friends were at dinner, and we took up our common thread where we last left off.  Amazing how a life can be taken up once again, after so many years of separation.   Our host called us an Uber home.

The wedding was wild, without totally departing from the traditional marriage ceremony.  Kat wore the MOST lovely wedding dress.   The tuxedoed ushers sported burning torches which were later extinguished by waterpistols hidden in bridesmaids’ turquoise bustiers.   The bride and groom breathed fire after the ceremony, and we drank prosecco and ate brie and artichokes.

Seattle was, like the wedding, the same but different.  Extremes are the measure of the day.

​Summer Sky Connecticut    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm   90.00

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Monday, July 31, 2017

Artnotes: Slow and easy

 Trees on the Lake   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen 12 x 24   30 x 60cm
 Dog on the beach   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 14"    28 x 36 cm
 Docking the boat   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 14"    28 x 36 cm

 Beach Volleball   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  8 x 14"    20 x 36 cm 

Getting in the water   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12 x 12"    30 x 30 cm 

Butterfly on the Beach   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 14"  28 x 36 cm

I am busier on my “vacation” than I am in everyday life.  We’ve come to the USA to visit my Dad and celebrate his 90th birthday; sell paintings and see friends.

I am slightly overwhelmed on this trip – I am talking all the time, in English.  In Italy, Blair and I go days without much conversation, so this American chitchat about the weather and driverless cars has rendered me speechless.   I have enjoyed it a lot.   Even more, I like the conversation of America:  men across the street working and listening to old Jimi Hendrix on the radio.  They talk about their cars, and what they did this weekend.   It’s like a movie sound-track, slow and easy.

We visited and laughed with friends in North Carolina this last week.  Sometimes I feel North Carolina is a microcosm of the whole United States.  It is white and black and brown, with universities and theatres, barbecues and fine dining; do I dare say Republican and Democrat?   Homes are really beautiful, and the hospitality is unbeatable.  

Our baseball show is on display in High Point, NC – we saw it ourselves for the first time on Thursday.   A man was looking at the show while we were there.  He was smiling, so we introduced ourselves.   He was actually from Danbury, Connecticut, and the Danbury Westerners figured prominently in many paintings.  It was magical.

Harika experienced that magic with two friends in the DC area, who accustomed her to the finest food, delivered thrice daily.  We are glad.   While she was eating steak, we chose hotdogs with cole slaw and chili, which we never get in Italy; and hamburgers.  We had fabulous southern fare:  fried chicken; spiced green beans, crowder peas and peach cobbler, which was maybe the best dessert of ever.  Yum.

When we come to the USA it is as if we are visiting an exotic place.  I bought shoes, big enough to fit.  I read the New York Times.  I sit on my porch, and go swimming,  and I think about Italy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Artnotes: For Better or For Worse

 ​Paddleboard  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14 x 11  35 x 27cm  190.00

 ​Two in Tubes  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm  190.00

 Skier  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/panel  
Playing in the Tubes  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm  190.00

Daisies at Hemlock ​Lodge  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm  190.00

Our trip to Connecticut began on Monday, with a crowded train ride to Milan.  I am not sure I want to repeat that performance.  Luckily, we stayed at a very fun hotel at the airport in Milan, awaiting our Tuesday flight.  The Moxy Hotel was chock full of cheery folks, and Harika made friends, while hotel staff made us two complimentary Cosmopolitans.  The lobby had games and books, a bar and dining area.  There were guitars to play, and a slate to draw on.  And the guestroom was pretty nice, too, with ever-so-subtle lighting beneath the bed that illuminated our steps in the night.   Harika and I laid out for hours on the bouncy bed in air conditioned comfort.  In Europe, air conditioning is not a "given".

From JFK, we were whooshed out to the hills of my Connecticut by my sister.  We are ensconced at Hemlock Lodge as I type.  We come here every year.  Same house, same porch, same supplies, a slightly different us:  the same fabric, as we weave another row. The water in the lake is delicious, and I've swum two days.   Friends arrived at once and we had cocktails and sold paintings.   We are recycling work from the archives – we haven’t painted much ourselves.

My Dad, who will be 90 in a month (god willing) is better than he was a month ago.  We went to the Chinese Buffet, his reason for living, on Thursday.  He was so exhausted he fell asleep in the easy chair upon return and didn't wake up until the next day.

My father ages, my sisters become more involved in their families' lives, and my niece and nephews forge new directions.  We are on the periphery, like so many of our friends, who are single, or childless, or just more involved in their own legacies than the biological one.  We have our art which will outlive us, and the chance to make everyone's day brighter with positive attitude, generosity and kindness.  I am back to my "Art of Slow Travel" book.  Whenever I hop on a plane, a whole new chapter of my life begins.

The porch show is taking shape -- available for the next week; Friday and Saturday we will be in Madison, Connecticut, and then are off to North Carolina for a show there on the 26 July.  So call us at: 860.387.3524 if you'd like to stop by in the coming week or sometime during August.  Or want to have a coffee together, or just chat on the phone (eastern daylight time until 9 PM).

It's amazing to be in America:  everyone speaks English.  Groceries are incredibly expensive.  Cars are still large and people follow the rules.  All this makes me realize what a different life we lead, for better or for worse. 

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Artnotes: Monsters

 Fairies in the Garden   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  10 x 15"  25 x 38cm
 View of Orte  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  11 x 16"  27 x 41 cm
 The Medieval City of Orte  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 24"  30 x 60"
The Monster and Me

 “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” ― Mark Twain

It’s been a wonderful and difficult week – amazing how that can happen.    Wonderful in the sense we went to Stimigliano again and hung out by the pool, amongst the flowers.  We further explored the area, visiting the miracle shrine with holy water full of large tadpoles (I can’t recall the saint, or holy man, but can picture giant frogs).  The highlight of our explorations was Bomarzo, the garden of monsters carved in and from local stone.

This isn’t our first monster visit (we went to Villa Palagonia in Sicily), and monsters seem to be popular in Italy.  I think it might have to do with the drama of monsters, and what they can do with people.  At Bomarzo there is a monster ripping a man in two; Hannibal’s elephant is killing a Roman soldier; a fantastic fish is about to swallow a turtle with a tree on his back.  There is a “crooked house” carved in stone that makes one feel completely topsy-turvy when you walk inside.   I liked the whole experience, wrenching me out of my usual mindset.  It is Mannerism at its best, thumbing its nose at Renaissance convention.

Although I can appreciate and in fact adore certain early Renaissance artwork (the Laurentian library; Brunelleschi’s dome; Piero della Francesca), I am not a fan of that period.  It is too orderly for me.  The gardens are great.  I am not anti-Italian art:  I like Greco-Roman art and architecture; medieval sculpture and objects; Byzantine gold mosaics; and the Italian Futurist movement.   There is still plenty to enjoy.

My own art has waned, as it has been 100 degrees (38 celsius) in our yard this week.  My red paint tube dried up in the back of the car.   It was the same temperature when we outside of Rome, but drier there than in Rocca Malatina.  Our house has been warm, and Harika got a new haircut.  None of us is sleeping well.

We are preparing for our trip to America this week.  I am a nervous wreck, as usual, anticipating every horrible outcome.  I’ve been back and forth a million (nearly a hundred anyway) times, but it still shakes me up.  I can be my own monster.

I look for more information on monsters in Italy, and find that along with the monsters, are fairies.  Italy was the first place to incorporate fairies in literature.  I think they are living in the tall grass of my yard.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Artnotes: input

Periwinkle Wild Flowers  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm  

 ​Butterflies in Outer Space   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm  

Red Roses Blue Sky  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  14 x 20"  35 x 50cm

Terra Cotta Plant Rest  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 X 10"  30 x 25cm 

I am reading old Jimmy Breslin and much older Montaigne; listening to Elon Musk on Youtube, along with The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins (“it is amazing you were ever born”).  Rai3 Italian radio discusses mosquitoes.  I read all my favorite blogs, deleting the weak ones.   Because it is poor painting weather (too hot and muggy), I am playing inside.  Harika refuses to walk after 7:30 AM or before 7:30 PM.  Blair closes windows, and I open them.

I listened to the late Chris Connell sing Prince’s “Nothing Compares to You”.   I watched the SpaceX launch and re-entry of the reusable rockets.  I am thinking about outer space.  Someone told me Mars used to be like Earth before they had global warming, brought on by volcanoes.  I am unable to verify that bit of information, however.  Fake news abounds, even outside the planet.

With any luck, all the super-rich will fire off into space and leave the planet for those of us who really like it, love it.  Honestly, it seems plausible to me.  If you like to stay in five-star hotels and fly first class, that would be easy to recreate in a space station.  Leave me with the butterflies.

I was thinking this week, after a sober conversation on Sunday about young people and immigrants having no hope, how,  in 1975, I knocked on the door of every business on Cape Cod, looking for a job, starting as soon as we crossed the Sagamore Bridge.  I didn’t get a job until I reached Wellfleet, some 50 miles later.   The person I went with didn’t find a job until Provincetown, yet another 15 miles.  We camped and ate canned food.  Nobody would do that anymore.   But it was proof positive that if you want something, and you keep trying, you will eventually get it.   I inspire myself with that memory.

We’re going away for few days starting tomorrow.  We’re always seeking that illuminated pathway to joy.

Figuring out what it is you want is a mystery.  I think you have to have a specific idea, believe it is true, and it will be, sooner or later.  I want to sell my paintings, and I believe I will.  I may even be a famous and rich artist sometime soon.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Artnotes: Go, Aunt Franny

 ​Sue's Butterfly Bush   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"   33 x 46cm   250.00

 ​Geraniums Red Gold Green   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 16"  27 x 41cm  225.00

 ​Jude the Obscure Rose   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  16 x 11"  41 x 27cm 225.00

Bicycle in Modena  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen 11 x 18  27 x 46cm  275.00​

​Really Wild Flowers   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen   11 x 16"  27 x 41cm  225,00

Our friend Kone(co-nay) went back to Mali.  After four years of trying to get to Europe and then two years trying to fit in, he’s gone back to Mali to his wife and child.  He was among the refugees that came through Libya, where they are often imprisoned, or at least held up for a year or two.  Kone just couldn’t hang on here in Italy another day, so he went back to Mali, where young people are regularly kidnapped (both boys and girls) by groups such as Boko Haram. 

I know that the refugees aren’t perfect.  They can seem less than ambitious, and not truthful in the Anglo-Saxon sense.   Customs in French Africa are completely different from English Africa, and the modern United States.  But to spend years striving to make a new life in Italy and then turning back must be very difficult, or a great relief.   Unlike my grandmother's generation, where people found work, and the next generation thrived, I am not sure that is the case, at least here.

It is very hot today.  Yesterday it was more than 100 degrees when we went to the Citroen dealer in Modena to get a second key for our car.  We are leaving our car in our driveway while we are away in America this summer.  With an extra key, someone can start the car from time to time, or move it if a tree falls or the lawn catches on fire.  Already I notice a neighbor’s car with newspapers wrapped around the windshield wipers to protect them from the scorching sun.   With any luck, we’ll come back at the end of August, the weather will be cooler and we can drive into the sunset.

Our house is bearable during the day, but who wants to sit in the house all the time?  Even Harika makes little forays into the yard, gets overheated and retires to the cool dark dining room.  I make a quick trip to pick flowers, then paint them in our shady cabana in the side yard.

We had wonderful guests this week, two teen-aged girls and their Dad.  They were just here for a day, but we fitted in a barbecue, a walk to the Sassi and an Italian lunch.  We talked about everything from expressing our personalities through fashion, to life in San Francisco, to the benefits of Italy.  We played badminton.  As an immigrant, I enjoy these visits and updates from the old country.  They went on to Venice, then to Siena.  Both of those places are slightly hotter than Rocca Malatina.

Kone took my Aunt Franny’s suitcase back to Mali with him.  He needed a carry-on bag, and her red rolling suitcase was perfect.  She always wanted to travel (she wanted to join the WACs), but ended up staying home, being single and taking care of my grandmother (who traveled from Poland to the USA) all her life.  I thought it was fitting her suitcase, which has already traveled to Paris and Italy, should continue on to Istanbul and Bamako, Mali.  Go, suitcase; go Aunt Franny.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Artnotes: It Must Be Italy

Cherries with Turquoise Dish  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm

Two Views of the Garden

​View East from Stimigliano  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm

 View to the Tiber  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  10 x 20"  25 x 50cm

​Butterflies in the Lavender  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 16"  27 x 41cm

The Hills with Olive Trees  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  10 x 20"  25 x 50cm

and, the real thing, in photo :

We were disappointed a friend couldn’t make it to visit this week (he may come later) so we took a motor trip ourselves.  A painting friend lent us his villa in the hills outside of Rome.

We stopped halfway at Arezzo (2 hours), where Piero della Francesco’s fantastic frescoes adorn San Antonio’s basilica.  It was the feast of St. Anthony of Padua (the patron saint of my elementary school, in Winsted, Connecticut), so the church was open to all and women were selling rolls at a big table.  For a euro, I got a holy card and a roll.  It was quite lucky, because were we to pay the fee to see the murals with the lights on, it was 11 euros each, and we’d seem them already, just in natural light, which is how they would have been seen when the artist painted them.  Piero della Francesca’s flat footed, carefully drawn figures made me think of Degas.  I hope to pursue that comparison on my own, from pictures, later on.  Afterward, we ate pici with calcio and pepe (big square spaghetti with generous grindings of pecorino romano cheese and fresh, roughly ground pepper), at a nice little restaurant.

It was quite hot on our trip, 100F/38C at times; it is almost as hot where we live.   The pool was still filling, but I managed to dip several times, just to cool off.  Harika loved these gardens, like Monet’s at Giverny, with unobstructed views and no intruders.  We could buy a 600 square foot house (no garden) in Stimigliano for 29,000 euros, only one hour away from Rome by local train.

We went to the MAXXI museum in Rome, designed by Zaha Hadid.  I mostly wanted to see her building, but there was a very good contemporary Architecture show going on, from the museum’s permanent collection.   There was a series of contemporary drawings on antique paper, black and white, which made me think of what I do with my ledgers and ships’ logs.  Also, the installations and the Sol Lewitt work made me realize I am better off thinking myself, without explanations.  After I read the Sol Lewitt description, I couldn’t see the picture anymore.

The next day, we drove a half hour to the palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, but it was so hot we couldn’t feature climbing the steps.  We continued on through groves of hazelnuts (Nutella on the hoof) and went to a nearby lake to swim:  always bring a bathing suit.

Traveling with a dog makes you take the sensible route – on the way home, the three of us ate at the Autostrade restaurant:  arancini, spinach lasagna and red wine.   I’d packed last night’s pork chop for Harika.   We saw a priest in summer white robes near the side of the road with a broken down car: it must be Italy.