Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Masquerade!

Today was a day of costumes and masks! 

The song from "Phantom of the Opera" played through my mind all day long.

"Masquerade!
Paper faces on parade. . . .
Masquerade!
Hide your face,
so the world will never find you!

Masquerade!
Every face a different shade. . . .
Masquerade!
Look around--
there's another mask behind you!. . . ."

I just finished a book and the main character talked about how we all have our own masks.  A friend had died with lots of secrets and her friend was talking to someone else and stated that "the closing years of life are like the end of a a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped."

Those words have played in mind, over and over.  What mask am I wearing?  Is there something that I need to confront from my past and to let it go?

People are wearing invisible masks and being someone else.  What are we trying to hide?

As I continue on my journey and discovering myself, may I see my life as it is and not try to hide behind a mask!  Once I drop the mask, I may realize the unique the person that I am.




Monday, October 30, 2017

Looking Into The Mirror

As I look at the leaves changing colors(bright yellow, gold, orange and red) and the temperature turning colder, I realize that my own life is changing.

The mirror doesn't lie.  My face is not as firm as it was thirty years ago.  There is a droop around the eye area and the chin area seems a little bit more thicker.  And what about the hair?  There is a new tint of gray that keeps popping up.

I seem to be thinking more about yesterday and tomorrow and less about today.  The verse that keeps coming to mind is "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalms 90:12 

I do know that my days are numbered and I do want my days left on this world to be glorifying to God.  May I be the servant that He wants me to be.  May I take time to listen to others and to be faithful as a friend.

I realize that God has used many great men and women in the later years of life.  Abraham was far more effective once he grew old and mellow.  Moses wasn't used until he turned eighty.  Caleb was eighty-five when God allowed him to take the Israelites into the promised land.  Samuel was old when he anointed the first two kings of Israel. Mother Teresa was devoted to helping the poor, the sick, the needy and the helpless.  There are so many more people that God has used in their latter years of life.

Growing old has its difficulties and heartaches, but there are also the joy and happiness that has happened along life's journey.

I came across these verses:

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."  Proverbs 16:31

"They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green."  Psalms 92:14

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  Isaiah 46:4

"Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live; not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good."  Titus 2:2-3

As I look into the rear view mirror, may I see a person who will allow the gray hair and old age be a blessing from God and that I will rejoice in the years of experience and wisdom that has been gained.





Sunday, October 29, 2017

Praise God for A New Day!

As I looked at the sky and the beautiful colors of orange, yellow and dark blue clouds, I realized that today had been a beginning of a new day.  I have discovered that the days are going faster, the years are getting shorter and my life expectancy is different than when I was eighteen.  With all of that in mind, I am beginning to enjoy each new day.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."  Psalms 27:4

This was David's prayer.  His greatest desire was to live in God's presence each day of his life.  My prayer is that I will also enjoy each day with God and I will allow Him to use me to make a difference.



Monday, August 21, 2017

The Solar Eclipse, 2017

As I was on my morning walk, I received a text from our neighbors wanting to know "was I going to watch the eclipse"today.  I hadn't really thought about it.  The news reports in Northern Colorado have been stating "don't get on I-25 unless you have to.  Traffic is terrible and cars are inching along the interstate."

In hearing the news, I began to have flashbacks to when Hurricane Rita was headed towards Houston. This was two weeks after Katrina had hit New Orleans back in 2005.  I remember trying to flee Houston in the middle of the night to try to escape the storm and the traffic.  With all of that said, I have stayed in my neighborhood and the immediate surroundings for the past few day.

I texted back to my neighbor and asked "do you have the solar glasses.?"    Her reply was yes.  She said meet us at the pool area around 11:15 am(MT) where we have the best spot of seeing the eclipse.

I got home and began to read up about all the craze for the solar eclipse. In Colorado, the eclipse would begin around 10:30 am and last until 1:15 pm.  The peak would be between 11:45 and 11:55 am. I found out that where I was located, the eclipse would reach about 95% instead of 100% total darkness.

 And that the last time that the United States had an eclipse was in 1979 and it only had reached five states. It was in 1918, that the eclipse did cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Today's eclipse was stretching across fourteen states: Oregon, Idaho, a sliver of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, a tiny portion of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The next solar eclipse will be visible in Colorado on August 12, 2045 and that the path of totality will pass directly over the state.  Who knows, I could still be here?

As I got to the pool area, I could already begin to feel the weather getting cooler and the sun did seem a lot dimmer.  There was a stillness among the wind and a quietness among the birds.  It was as if, time was standing still.

It was interesting to watch as the moon passed in front of the sun.  It was surreal in observing this take place.  As the moon did cross in front of the sun, it wasn't total darkness.  I looked north towards the Wyoming border and you could see the darkness.  It reminded me of when the weather changes and a northern is blowing down from Canada.

It was a great experience and if I am still around in 2045, I will pull out my solar glasses and I will enjoy the moment.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The End of the Day

There is something about walking in the evening.  It is a great way to end the day.  

As I strolled through the neighborhood, I thought about how peaceful my day had been.  It had been an uneventful day.  We need to have those because there are days where we feel that we can't accomplish anything.

I could hear the crickets chirping, I could see the swallows gliding through the sky and the rabbits jumping from one area to the next.  Also there was a crispness in the area as the sun was lowering in the west.

I was able to capture this photo of the sun going behind the clouds.

Thank you Lord for a beautiful and peaceful day!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Eye of the Peacock

Today as I was going through pictures, I came across one of the photos that I took this summer in Italy.  I was touring an organic cheese farm and these peacocks were roaming the property, spreading their beautiful feathers and crying out their call.


The beauty of the peacock is so spectacular with it's rich, iridescent blue body and the tail plumes are a rich blue as well.  The vibrant blue, green and yellow eye spots on the feathers show the beauty of the peacock.

The peacock is symbolic of integrity, as well nobility, holiness, guidance, protection and watchfulness.  This is one reason why you always see peacocks roaming on the grounds of royalty.

Seeing this photo reminded me once again of the beauty of nature.  God created the peacock and He created me.  May we never forget how special we all are in God's eyes!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Dancing Butterfly

As I relaxed outside today to enjoy the warm sunshine and cool air, I noticed the "white dancing butterflies" in the garden.  It was so peaceful to sit there and to watch them flutter from one plant to another.  As if they had no care in the world.

Watching nature is so symbolic of our own lives.  Even though we don't have wings to fly, we still have the opportunity of sharing ourselves with people around us.  Sometimes we just don't want to reach out and share happiness and joy with someone.  Are you in a rut in life?  Get out there and do something for someone else.  Spread your arms and embrace life!

Butterflies are so adaptable to their environment.  We need to learn to be sensitive to our surroundings.  You don't have to put yourself into a situation that doesn't build you up.  Be around people and circumstances that encourage and support you.

Also, butterflies teaches us metamorphosis.  Butterflies shed the old before they can become the beautiful creatures that they are.  We need to remember that sometimes we need to back-off and to allow the process to happen.  The adult butterfly only emerges as the conditions are right.  We need to remember that there will always be "changes".  When we do develop and gain our growth, our life will take on a new formation and we will be ready for our next phase in life.

As the butterflies danced among the flowers, they remind us not to be so serious, but to enjoy our surroundings.  We need to embrace changes as they happen. People tell us "to stop and smell the roses".  Maybe we need to stop and dance with someone.  Dancing always brings a smile to your face, as well as laughter.  Laughter is so cleansing.

The white color reminded me of purity and the cleanliness that we all strive for.  As we all know, no one is perfect. But we all need to be the best that we can be.  The Indians believed that the white butterfly represented "a guardian spirit, ushering you along the path of life".  The butterfly represents the endurance, change, hope and life that we all need.

For even just a few minutes, taking time to watch the white butterflies dancing, took away the stress and problems around me.

Do yourself a favor!  Get outside and watch nature perform and I promise you, you will have a different outlook on life!

The White Dancing Butterfly


Sunday, August 13, 2017

His Divine Plan

In my search of discovering His will for my life, I am reading the book Every Life Is A Plan Of God by J. Oswald Sanders.  He has a lot of good insight.

In today's reading, these words made an impression on me:

"Each of us is unique because we are made in the image of God.  'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.'  Genesis 1:27.

If there is a divine plan for our lives, and I believe there is, we should not expect it to be like an architect's blueprint.  Or like a travel agent's itinerary, all complete with dates, places, and times.  We are not automatons controlled by a heavenly computer!  Divine guidance concerns people who have been endowed with the awesome power of free choice.  Every day we have to make decisions and choices, some of which will affect our whole future.  The fact that we have been created in the divine image adds an eternal dimension to these decisions.

The circumstances surrounding our lives are not accidental, but are devised by an all-wise and loving Father, who knows how best we can glorify Him and yet at the same time achieve our own highest good.  When this becomes a conviction, believed and accepted, then every part of life becomes significant, and life itself becomes one large voyage of discovery of God and our own true selves."

My life is not by accident.  The these things that I am going through are not by accident.  Even though at times I want everything laid out, that is not going to be the case.  Once I allow God to be in control, I can have the peace that I am looking for.

I just need to "Let Go and Let God"!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Just A Thought!

Mark Twain once said,

"Take your mind out every now and then and dance on it.  It is getting all caked up."

He was saying, "Try something new, break new ground, get out of your rut."

Our lives are like that.  We sometimes keep doing the same thing over and over and over, but we get nowhere.  There is a lot to life.  I am challenging myself to try something new!  Let's see what I come up with!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Accept the Things I Cannot Change

Today, I was reminded of the verse that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr composed:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

These words are easier to recite than they are to live by.  But the more that we recite this verse, the more we will begin to understand that we can be comforted by our great Creator and that He understands His plans perfectly, even when we don't.




Thursday, August 10, 2017

Press On

Today was a day of one thunderstorm after another coming through our city.  Our lives are so much like these thunderstorms.  We get one situation handled and within a hour, a day, a week, a month, etc., another situation comes about.

Will there ever be a day or a time that we feel like there is a peace among us?

How does one handle finding out that their job has been eliminated or that they have been diagnosed with cancer or a love one has died or they don't have enough finances to pay bills?

As I was reading my Bible, I read a story about David and how he handled tough times.  David and his men were out fighting battles and they came back to their homeland.  When they approached their town, they discovered that their town had been destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters had been taken captive.  David and his men wept until they couldn't weep anymore.

David's men were so upset at him, that they thought about stoning him.  They were bitter in spirit because their families had been taken.  Instead of thinking of a plan to go rescue their families, they looked for someone to blame.

As I continued to read, the scripture that stood out was "But David found strength in the Lord his God."  God gave David the strength to begin to look for a solution instead of a scapegoat.  So often as we go through circumstances we want to blame someone, instead of looking for a way to take care of the problem.

With wisdom from God, David found a solution and was able to rescue everyone who had been taken captive.

As we go through our circumstances, we need to go before the Lord and pray for wisdom to handle the situation.  Take one concern at a time, handle it so that you can handle the next and the next and the next.  God doesn't promise that there will never be a problem, but He does promise that He will carry us through the problem.

The photo reminds me that we even though I may be surrounded by water(challenges), the calmness(the strength from God) will help me to tackle the circumstances and that I need to "press on".


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Earnest Request

As I have been on my journey of understanding my role in life, I have begun to understand that God wants me to come before Him to request for the needs of the people around me.

This past Sunday, one of the preachers talked about how the whole world longs for a spiritual connection with God. Some people feel that God is always with them and some feel as if God isn't listening to them.  That He never hears them and that their prayers(requests) are just bouncing off the ceiling.

There is no "magical formula" in praying to God.  He wants us to talk with Him about our hopes, our dreams, our desires, our hurts, our disbelief, our pain, etc.

Even the disciples came before Jesus and asked Him to teach them to pray.

Jesus taught them the Lord's prayer.  It is okay to come before God with the same prayer request(over and over and over).  He encourages persistent prayer, when we pray with a sincere and honest heart. He also encourages us to be faithful.

Until others feel comfortable in praying, I will continue to pray for the wisdom/direction or healing that they need in their life.

We are like these "Black Eyed Susans" when we have God in our life.   These flowers are very versatile to heat and drought.  These beautiful yellow flowers with the dark, brown-purple centers with-stand the obstacles around them.  We also with-stand the obstacles around us when we allow God to direct us.


Keep on Praying!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Today, I Wept

This morning I received a text from a friend discussing all the situations going on in her life at this time.  My heart was so heavy burden that I began to weep.  As I wept, I thought about Jesus and when He wept when he heard that Lazarus had died.

As I have emotions for my friend, Jesus also had emotions(compassion and sorrow) for Lazarus.

As the tears flowed, I prayed for my friend.  I prayed that God would give her the strength to endure all that she is going through; to give her the wisdom and the insight that she needs.  As I cried and prayed, I could feel the Lord telling me that He would take care of her.

Jesus doesn't want us to hide anything from Him.  He cares.  Matthew 11:28-30 states "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox.  It is then attached to a piece of equipment so that the oxen can pull.  These heavy burdens(sorrow, sin, weariness, etc) can only be freed through Jesus.  He will give us peace, love and healing.

I dried my tears and decided to take a walk.  It had rained earlier in the morning and now the sun was peeking through the clouds.  With the sun out, the flowers looked more vibrant and alive.  I also felt more vibrant with the sun rays touching my skin.

Our lives are so much like nature.  After the dark clouds and rain, there is always hope with the Son in our life.




Monday, August 7, 2017

Trust in HIm

One would never believe that it is August in Colorado.  For the past few days, it has been cloudy and rainy.  The highs have been in the 60's and it almost feels like a fall day.

The dark cloud has lifted, but the clouds are still surrounding me.

As I look at the attached photo, I wonder how do I see beyond the clouds and remember the days of pink clouds, the baby blue sky and the light of a brand new day.


The verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5-6:
""Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

We at times wonder can I really trust God?  Will He get me through these tough times?  By being in prayer and reading the Bible and allowing the Word to be my guide, God will give me the direction that I need.  It is hard to explain to someone about the peace that overcomes me when I am reading the Word.

I must trust God in every area of my life.  This mean; my values, my priorities, my work, my family and my dreams.  When I allow God to be first in my life, I will accomplish His purpose and He will assist me through those dark times.

I just need to remember to take "one day at a time".  God tells me not to worry about tomorrow. Today is His.  As Scarlett O'Hara, from "Gone With the Wind" said, "After all, tomorrow is another day!"








Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Dark Cloud

Have you ever felt as if a "dark cloud" was hanging over your head?  I know I have.  For the past several weeks, I have felt as if all my "joy" has been sucked out of me.  My heart has been heavy for my family and friends that are going through so many trials in their life at this time.

As I am going through this darkness, it has taken me on a journey to find the light that God gives to each one of us.

In the book of Genesis, the story of Joseph shows me that God is always with me.

"But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden."  Genesis 39:21.  The notes for this verse tells me that, as a prisoner and slave, Joseph could have seen his situation as hopeless.  Instead, he did his best with each small task given him.  His diligence and positive attitude were soon noticed by the warden, who promoted him to prison administrator.  As we go through situations, we need to follow Joseph's example by taking each small task and doing our best.  God turned Joseph's situation around.  God will see our efforts and He can reverse even overwhelming odds.

God is with each one of us, as He was with Joseph.

As I look at this picture, I see the "dark clouds" and the light of God shining through.  This week, I will be seeking the "light" that God wants me to discover.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Eagle's Nest Hiking Trail

With our relatives visiting, we loaded up the truck and headed to La Porte, Colorado for a four mile hike at Eagle's Nest.  The weather in July is cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon.  With getting to the trails by 8 am, we felt that we could be finished with our four mile hike within two hours.

Arriving at the trails early, there was only one car sitting in the parking lot.  We were ready for the hike with our water, sunscreen and hats.

There are many hiking trails in our area and this was one we had not been on before.  This area has been home to nesting golden eagles for at least 100 years.  From February 1 to July 15, the area downstream of the bridge is closed to fishing and public access to protect the nesting area.

Eagle's Nest includes 755 acres.  This area has five miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, as well as the Cache LaPoudre River that runs through it.  These acres are home for deer, elk, coyote, mountain lions and other animals.

As we headed north on the red dirt trail, the majestic view of the Laramie Foothills was breathtaking. You could see for miles.  As we walked, we enjoyed the beauty of the wildflowers.  The wildflowers are so small and dainty.  The vibrant yellow, blue and purplish colors were striking.

To think that cowboys use to trail herds of cattle through this area.  The pioneer settlers migrated west to develop a new beginning.  It is hard to imagine what these people went through to have their own homesteads.

The trail led us to the river and there was a tree stump waiting for us.  It was nice to rest and to enjoy a duck and her ducklings as they swam across the river.  The sound of the running river and the swishing sound of the leaves as the wind blew was so comforting.

We took a different trail as we headed back to the parking area.  This trail was more climbing than the previous trail.  We would go a few feet and then stop to take in the beautiful terrain and the silence.

We were hoping to see Eagles, but we didn't and we were glad that we did not encounter a rattlesnake along the open, rocky areas that we hiked.

Colorado has lots of hiking trails.  This is a nice, simple trail to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the surroundings.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

Make Cake Balls Out of a Crumbled Pound Cake!

It is amazing what lessons we learn from our surroundings.  I was having friends over for dinner the other night and I wanted to bake a Pound Cake and have strawberries and whip cream with this cake. I hadn't baked one in many years.  With all of my moves in the past six years, I had gotten rid of the bundt pan that I would bake it in.  I purchased a new one.  After allowing the cake to bake, then cool, I proceeded to get the cake out of the pan.  No luck!  I had to cut the cake out and it was in crumbles. It wasn't in a beautiful ring shape.

I was a little upset.  But I realized, I could make lemonade out of lemons.  That night with my guest, I took out martini glasses, put a layer of crumbled pound cake, then whipping cream, another layer of crumbled cake, and more whipping cream and then added some beautiful red strawberries on top. Everyone thought the dessert was superb!  It tasted great!

Later that evening, I was telling my sister about the disaster and she said make cake balls.  Cake balls originated because bakers would have flops with their cakes or have stale cake.  To prevent waste, someone created cake balls.  They are made by blending cake crumbs with icing, shaping them in form of a  ball and then dipping them in a coating, such as chocolate or white chocolate.  You can then decorate them with sprinkles, nuts, etc.

The next day I gave it a try.  I wouldn't win a blue ribbon for the appearance, but it would win a ribbon for taste and texture.  My nephew loved them!

I began to think of my situations in life.  Sometimes we think things are bad, but God has a different plan.

One verse that came to mind was:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.  God works in all things for our good.  It does not mean that all that happens to us is good, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.

Another verse was:

"But Joseph said to them: "Don't be afraid.  I am in the place of God.  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" Genesis 50:19-20.  Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery many years ago because they were jealous of him.  Through this ordeal Joseph became the governor of Egypt and was able to save many lives during the time of the drought.

So the next time, you think something is a disaster, just remember God has a plan and He will help us through those times.  He will give us the wisdom, insight and knowledge that you need!

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

Cake Balls

Strawberry Short Cake in Martini Glasses

The Disaster





Friday, June 30, 2017

A Storm is Brewing

I watched the storm off of my balcony.  It was southwest of town and in the distance you could see the dark sky and the lightning, which would flash nearly every 10 seconds.  I tried to get a picture of the lightning, but it was just to fast to capture the white streak across the sky.

The wind had begun to pick up and I knew that the storm was headed my way.

Watching the storm, I thought that nature and mankind are so much a like.  In nature, storms produce heavy rain, snow, hail, sleet, thunder and strong winds.  In our lives, we also produce storms of drama, shouting, screaming, adversities, hardships, grief and so much more.

Just like nature is not exempt from storms, we aren't exempt from them as well.  We go through storms so that we can grow.  These storms in our lives help us to grow closer to God, as well as growing in understanding ourselves better.  They help humble us and force us to submit to the role that God has chosen for us.

As we go through these times, we need to continue praying; reading scripture(know that scripture is what keeps us from sinking); praise God for these trials; have faith(allow God to do something spectacular) and believe in miracles.  We need to believe that God is still in the business of performing miracles.

As the thunder and lightning was getting closer, I decided to go inside and to batten down the hatches.  I knew that after the storm, there would be a calmness, the air would be cleaner and there would be a freshness in the air and maybe even a rainbow.  I just had to be able to ride through the storm.

Riding through the storm is like riding through the situations in our lives.  I need to always remember that God will help me through my troubling times.  I just need to trust Him and look forward to seeing that rainbow!



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Me & My Shadow

You have days where you reflect on the past and today was one of those days!

As I went on my walk today, the sun was behind my back and I could see my shadow.  At that moment, it was 1966 and I am back in the sixth grade at Crestview Elementary School in Waco, Texas reciting the poem "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I remember my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Fletcher.  She had red hair and bright blue eyeshadow.   We were always having to memorize something and reciting it in front of the room.

When I got home from my walk, I went to my books and I found the book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson that my father had given me back in 1962 and there was the poem "My Shadow".

It is amazing what our brain stores!  It was a good day to reminisce!



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Name Is Written...

The light started peeking in the window around 5 am.  I dozed for a little while, but about thirty minutes later, I decided to get up.  Sunrise was at 5:30 am.  Yikes!  I do enjoy the long days and the warmer temperature.

After drinking my coffee and having my quiet time, I decided to go get my steps in.  The temperature was a nice cool, fifty-six degrees.  It is amazing how many people are walking around the neighborhood at 6:30 in the morning.  There are bikers, runners, walkers and people walking their dogs.

I am always amused at how many people have their earplugs in and are listening to music.  To me, the natural music is my surroundings.  The red-winged blackbirds are squawking, the doves are cooing and the hawks are soaring and screeching.

Today the wind was blowing, so I could hear chimes in the background as well as the rustling of the leaves.  Also, there was a train going down the railroad tracks and blowing the horn.

As I walked along the sidewalk, I thought of the words that I had read earlier.

"I have written your name on my hand."  Isaiah 49:16.  To think, He knows me by name.  Just like the shepherd knows his sheep and He knows them by name.

I sometimes wonder does He even care?  Does He know when I am hurting or when I am sad?  Does He know when I feel insecure or when I don't have the confidence to do something?

The answer is Yes, Yes & Yes!  He does know!  He is right there with me; guiding, directing and pushing me to be the best that I can be.  He gave me the mind and the feet to move forward.  I sometimes, just need to do that.

Max Lucado, an author and minister, said these words "If God is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life?  If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path?  If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs?"

As I am looking at my future and pondering the direction that I need to go, I just need to step-out and as Nike says "Just Do It".

When I got home, I looked at the palm of my hand and knew that my name was written on God's hand and that He wants the best for me.  So whatever you are going through, take a minute and listen as He whispers, close your eyes and see His hand as He writes your name.

Today is a new day and a new beginning!




Monday, June 26, 2017

Hope!

Looking at these peppermint petunias, the word that comes to mind is "hope".  Hope of a new day, a new tomorrow, a new beginning!

I don't see peppermint petunias very often. But these petunias bring to mind the "legend of the Christmas Candy Canes".  The story is that the white of the cane represents the purity of Jesus Christ and the red stripes are for the blood that He shed when he died on the cross.  And the peppermint flavor represents the hyssop plant that was used for purifying in the Bible.

Without God, we have no hope.  During my devotion today, I read these words, "people can live without many things, but they cannot live without hope".  Sometimes that is all that we have.

I have so many family members and friends that are going through some difficult times.  I have several friends that have been diagnosed with cancer in the past several years and have gone through surgery and treatment.  Other friends that are grieving from a death of a family member; some are having marriage problems and others that have lost their jobs.  There is so much pain in the world.

When people are going through these times, what do you say?  You can feel their loss, but you can't fell their emotions/pain as they walk through this journey.

God is not trying to destroy someone as they walk through these hardships, but He is trying to get them to grow.  While we suffer, we have to have "hope" and know that God is merciful.  He is with us.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 states "For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  You will call upon me and pray and I will listen."

Jesus tells us when we feel hopeless and afraid, look to Him.  He is the source of hope and promises.
We need to remember as we experience illnesses; a job loss; problems with your marriage or going through persecution, that this life is not all there is.  There is life after death!

So today as I go through my challenges and think of my friend's challenges, I will keep my eyes on Jesus.  He is the only answer!



Friday, June 23, 2017

Missions/Churches in Santa Fe

Two weeks ago, I was in Italy seeing beautiful churches.  This week I got to see some old, lovely churches that are in the U.S.

Santa Fe is known for the churches.  The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the downtown area.  It was built between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, built in 1626 and destroyed in a revolt in 1680.

The Cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival Style.  It features round arches separated by columns and towers.  The large rose window was imported from France.  In the upper facade is a small, round window featuring a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.  This is a stained glass replica of the translucent alabaster window designed in the 17th century by the Italian artist Bernini for St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

After sitting in the church and observing the beautiful architecture, I headed down several blocks, which is the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail, to see the Loretto Chapel.

This is a former Roman Catholic church that is now used as a museum and wedding chapel.  It is known for its unusual helix-shaped spiral staircase.  This church started as a school in 1853.  The legend is that the staircase was constructed by St. Joseph, the Carpenter, and was built between 1877 and 1881.  It has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support.

Leaving the Loretto Chapel, I headed south a few blocks to see San Miguel Mission, the oldest church structure in the U.S.A.  It was built approximately between 1610 and 1626.  The original adobe walls are still intact.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is still offered at the chapel on Sundays.

There were many more churches in the area, but I wasn't able to visit them.  As you can see, there is a lot to see in the U.S.A.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Lorreto Chapel

San Miguel Mission



New Mexico State Capitol

As I walked along the streets of Santa Fe to the State Capitol, I passed many restaurants and shops. It is such a unique town with it's Indian/Mexican/Spanish culture.

I passed the Santa River river where young boys and their fathers were fishing for trout.  One family had caught several fish, which I assumed they would be eating for dinner.

It was still early in the morning and the temperature was nice.  Santa Fe is located at 7,200 feet and the climate is warm days and cool evenings.

Visiting all 50 capitols is on my bucket list and I wanted to make sure that I explored New Mexico's State Capitol.  The Santa Fe capitol is unique, in that, it is the only Round State Capitol. The Capitol is known informally as "the Roundhouse".  The Roundhouse is the fourth Capitol building of New Mexico. The Palace of the Governors, which now houses the state's history museum, used to be the house of government in Santa Fe for nearly three centuries.

The Roundhouse was dedicated on December 8, 1966.

I got to the Capitol just as the doors were opening for the day.  A young man greeted me as I walked in and asked me to sign the visitor's sheet.  He explained the building and the four levels.

The first level houses the house and senate chambers.  They were not in session.

The second level is the floor that visitors enter.  The Rotunda in the center of the building is inlaid with a turquoise and brass mosaic of the great seal.  The seal is New Mexico's Zia sun symbol, which is associated with the Land of Enchantment.  It is inspired by a design found on a 19th century water jar from Zia Pueblo.  The design is a circular sun with linear rays extending in four directions.  Four is a significant number, as it is embodied in the four directions of the earth, the four seasons of the year; the four times of the day(sunrise, noon, evening and night); and life's four divisions of childhood, youth, adulthood and old age.

From the Rotunda, you can look up and see the skylight, which is 60 feet from the floor.  It represents an Indian basket weave; the blue represents the sky and the pale pink the earth.

Also on the second floor, various artwork was exhibited.  There were beautiful, colorful quilts that local artists had weaved, which were displayed.

The third level houses committee rooms and offices and also features a lot of the Capitol Art Collection.  This collection features contemporary masterworks by artists who live and work in New Mexico.

The fourth level houses the offices of the governor, the lieutenant governor and the Legislative Council Service.

If you are ever in Santa Fe, make sure you go by the Capitol.  There are select times for a tour guide or you can do your own self-guided tour.








Sunday, June 18, 2017

Reminiscing!

This morning as I sat outside snuggled up in a blanket drinking my coffee, I reflected on the past week.  Had it only been a week since I flew back from Italy!  All week long, I have been replaying my time and the many adventures that I had on my trip.  It was such a great trip.  New memories were made.

It has taken me the week to adjust to the time change!  I have been up every morning around 5 a.m. The joy of getting up early is seeing the sunrise.  The sunrise has taken my breath away as I look out onto the sky to see the beautiful colors of different blues and the different pinks, as they swirl across the sky.  Within seconds, the colors change.  I am in awe!

While I was gone, the wetlands got greener and the yellow flowers popped up.  It seems like the birds have multiplied, as well. The rabbits definitely have multiplied.  The red wing blackbirds have a slurred whistle as the sun rises from the east.  The swallows are soaring from one house to the next.

Sometimes we forget about the beauty within our on home.  As much as I love to travel, to meet new people and to discover new surroundings, I always remember the words that Dorothy said in "The Wizard of Oz", "There is no place like home."

Enjoy today!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Alba, Italy

My last day in Italy was spent in Alba. Alba was once known as the "city with 100 towers". Today, it is famous for it's white truffles, peach and wine production.

In the area of Alba, there are 290 wineries that cultivate an area of 1,700 acres of land.  There are four distinct wine producing regions, but only two(Langhe and Monferrato) of these are dominate.  The vineyards are rich with soil, with history and with family tradition in wine-making that dates back centuries.

The town itself had a medieval flavor with it's cobblestone walks, narrow streets and the decor of the stores.  Just like Turin, there are cafes all along the streets.  Fashion is displayed in the windows and the merchants have their tables outside, selling their truffles, nuts, chocolates and displays of Alba's wines.

As I walked along the streets, there was a merchant demonstrating soap bubbles to the children. These soap bubbles were beautiful colors(almost like a rainbow) that were various shapes.  The children were fascinated with these bubbles.

After enjoying a cappuccino, the group was met by an archaeologist, who took us underground, a few feet beneath the streets and pavements, to discover the Roman Roots.  We saw the remains of the Roman Forum and remains of the Medieval towers and houses.

Some other sights to visit are the impressive Cathedral of San Lorenzo is in the heart of Alba; Gothic Church of San Domenico(which has triple arch within a pointed arch) and the Baroque of St. John the Baptist.

After sightseeing in Alba, we had a 3 course-lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beautiful vineyards.  We enjoyed veal, ravioli and a chocolate pastry, as well as different wines, prosecco and limoncello.

Our last stop was at the Paitin Winery.  This winery has been in the family since 1796.  From their 17 acres, they produce Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Arneis, Barbera and Dolcetto.

What a great day to end my tour of Northern Italy!  I will always treasure the memories that were made.




Monday, June 12, 2017

Exploring Turin, Italy

As I walked out onto the cobblestone street, I was in awe of the sunrise and the silence surrounding me.  I wanted to explore Turin from sunrise to sunset.  

This was a new city for me.  I was enjoying the quietness before the city awoke.  There is something about walking the streets and thinking back to the Renaissance period and the people that strolled along this same path.

Turin, which is pronounced Turino, is a city that is located in the northern part of Italy and is the capital of the Piedmont region.  It is located on the Po River and surrounded by the western Alpine arch.  The population of the city proper is approximately 900,000.

The city has a rich culture and history.  With all the restaurants, churches, universities, theaters, libraries, museums, parks and other venues, there is always something to do.  Turin is well-known for its Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical and Art Nouveau architecture.

Our guide gave us some interesting facts about Turin:

1.  It is home of the FIAT auto plants.  FIAT is Italy's largest automobile manufacturer.  The acronyms stands for "Fabric, Italy, Automobile, Turin".
2.  The "Shroud of Turin" is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin.  The Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man.  A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth.
3. EATALY - opened in 2007 in Turin.  It was built for the 2006 winter Olympic Games, and is basically a gourmet grocery store offering all foods Italian.  There are about three of them in the United States(NYC, Chicago & Boston).
4.  The movie "The Italian Job" was filmed in Turin in 1969.  Michael Caine was the main actor. This is a movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam.
5.  The Egyptian Musuem in Turin is the only museum other than the Cairo Museum that is dedicated solely to Egyptian art and culture.
6.  Cafes - There are at least 2 cafes on every block.  The historic cafes have remained favorite among politicians, intellectuals and artists.  One of the popular drinks that is served is "bicerin".  This drink has hot chocolate at the bottom, espresso coffee and milk, froth on top.
7.  Piazza San Carlo - This is Turin's most beautiful square.  It is the city's outdoor living room, surrounded by arcaded sidewalks that house the terraces of the cafes for which Turin is famous.
8.  Martini & Rossi, which was founded in Turin in 1863, is an Italian multinational alcoholic beverage company primarily associated with the Martini brand of vermouth and is also with sparkling wine(such as Asti).
9. and so many more other venues.

While walking along, be careful, as you could get run over by a bicycle.  Everywhere I looked, people were riding their bikes.

I was very impressed with this city.  Next time you are a planning a trip to Italy, put Turin on your list.

Ciao! 







Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Italian Riveria

This afternoon as I strolled along the turquoise coastline of the Ligurian Sea, I reflected on the past several days.  With the waves crashing on the cliffs, motor boats humming along the shore, I had to pinch myself.  I was experiencing the Italian Riveria.

In the 1960's, the French Riveria(which is the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France) was where the movie stars and rich and famous would travel to.  Nowadays, the well-known celebrities travel to the Italian Riveria.  This lies on the northwestern corner of Italy, in the region of Liguria, which stretches along the Ligurian Sea from the Italian/French border to the Tuscany border.

The villages that I got to travel to were Portovenere, Le Cinque Terre and Santa Margherita & Portofino(the heart of the Italian Riveria.

What one experiences from each of these areas were the multi-colored pastel buildings; the fishing villages; tall rugged cliffs dropping down into the cobalt blue depths of the sea and the resort areas(beaches).

Portovenere is located on the Ligurian coast of Italy.  The very small quaint village has such beautiful panoramic views of the church, St. Peter, as well as the Doria Castle.  St. Peter's Church sits on top of the cliffs that looks out into the sea, and was constructed in 1198 A.D.  The church still holds services, as well as weddings.  The castle was built by the Genoese in 1261 for the very wealthy Doria family who were very instrumental to the political, military and economic life of the Republic of Genoa.

The rugged part of the Italian Riveria is Cinque Terre(five villages).  The five villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso.  Each of these have their own charm.  All five of these villages are connected by a trail.  Hikers love to travel to this area. The water and mountainside have been declared a National Park.

Riomaggiore is known for its historic character and it's wine.

Manarola is built on black rock.  The vineyards and olive trees are planted on the side of the steep cliffs.  The wine and olive oil from this area is expensive due to how these grapes & olives are picked and taken care of.

Corniglia is an ancient Roman village that is perched on a striking high bluff.  This is the only town without access from the sea.  To reach the town you ascend a long flight of brick steps known as "Lardarina" (33 flights with 377 stairs).

Vernazza is the most charming of the five villages.  It has the best access to the sea.

Monterosso is the largest of the Cinque Torres.  It has beautiful beaches, clear turquoise water and lots of hotels and restaurants.

As you travel north from Cinque Terre, you will approach Santa Margherita & Portifino.

Santa Margherita is one of the most important towns of the Levante Riviera.  It's special charm lies in the unusual mix of nautical & Belle Époque styles.  It is a beautiful old resort town favored by well-to/do Italians.  Santa Margherita Ligurie has everything a Riveria playground should have--plenty of palm trees, attractive hotels, cafes and a marina filled with yachts.

Portofino in the past, functioned primarily as a fishing village and occasionally, as a small naval port. Today, it is a classy resort village.  The waterfront is lined with multicolored pastel buildings and cafes.  There is a very panoramic view of Portofino from the church, St. George.  As you stroll through the piazza, you see many young lovers, as well as celebrities.

As you can see, the Italian Riveria has a lot to offer!





Lucca - home of Giacomo Puccini

Northwest of Florence is Lucca.  It is one of Italy's most impressive fortress.  It is encircled by a 2.5 mile wall that was used during the Renaissance to protect the people.  But today it is a wall that is enjoyed by bicyclists, runners & walkers.  The path is shaded with beautiful, tall trees.

The city is on the Serchio River in Italy's Tuscany region.  The cobblestone streets sends you back to when the Romans controlled Lucca.  There were approximately 160 towers within the city.  The towers showed the wealth of this town,

The amphitheater which sits inside the town used to be located outside the rectangular city walls.  Now shops & restaurants surround the amphitheater, which is used as a plaza for gathering of family and friends.

Of course, I can't forget two of the many churches, San Michele in Foro & Basilica of San Frediano. In it's heyday, there were 82 churches in this fortress.  Lucca was the first Mediterranean stop on the pilgrim route from Northern Europe and the Pope wanted to remind the pilgrims what awaited them in Rome.

So much to see in Lucca.  But if your time is limited make sure you see the Guinigi Tower, which has 227 steps to the top.  There is a beautiful view of the city among the five oak trees.

Also Lucca is home to the famous composer Giacomo Puccini.  He was born in 1858 into a family with a long history of music.  As you walk through the plaza to see his sculpture, you will here his music in the background.

Ciao!




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cooking in Tuscany!

From the time that Rosanna, the chef, walked into the Villa, you knew that today's cooking class was going to be filled with learning, fun and laughter.  Her charm pulled you towards her.  Our class of eight was excited to be there..

She greeted us with a smile and saying "buongiorno".

Rosanna Passione has been working with food for 25 years.  She is a chef, a cooking teacher and an author of cookbooks.  She has taught many classes in Italy as well as the US.  She is a mother of three and began her love for cooking with organic foods.

With me taking a cooking class is very ironic.  I don't cook!  But for some reason, I have had a desire to cook in Tuscany.  Maybe it is because of all the romantic/comedy movies of Italy that I have watched for many years.

Rosanna handed out aprons for each of us and then began to let us know what our three course meal would be.  We would begin with the dessert, so that it could sit and savor the flavors.

The dessert was peaches and baked with crushed almond cookies & cocoa mix.   Rosanna showed us how to  cut the peaches in half, take out the seeds and add the mixture.  Rosanna wanted each one of us to take part.  And of course everything, we did was perfect.  She was so encouraging and you wanted to do more.

After we finished the peaches, we then started on the appetizers, which were the zucchini slices baked and we added smoked cheese and diced tomatoes.  Once again, we each sliced & diced the items.

The last course was the spinach ravioli.  Homemade pasta!  I can't believe I did it!  Rosanna showed us how to take two different flours and mix them.  Then you take the flour mixture and add the eggs. Special technique in making the dough.  Then you bring out the pasta machine.  A lot of people still use the rolling pin to flatten out the dough.

After rolling out the dough, we added the spoonful of spinach.  We used the cutter to make the squares of ravioli.  We had the water boiling and we added the spinach pasta squares to cook.

We set the six foot table outside for the meal that we were preparing.  Of course, we had wine!

As we all sat at the table with the food we had prepared, we were all laughing and filled with confidence.  We had each achieved making homemade pasta, an appetizer and a dessert.

All of us were in awe of the meal that we had prepared and we could now scratch off on our bucket list "cooking in Tuscany"!


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Friday, June 2, 2017

San Gimignano & Siena

A full day of touring San Gimignano & Siena!

As I walked out of the Villa this morning, I was greeted by Alice(pronounced Alisha).  She has been a a guide for the past fifteen years & loves telling the story of San Gimignano(known as "little Manhattan").  San Gimignano is a small walled medieval town, which has tall walls and narrow streets.  It is the medieval "skyscrapers" that set the town apart from other towns.  Today there are only 14 towers that remain, but at the height of the Guelph-Ghibelune conflict there was a multitude of more than 70 towers.  The people were able to cross the town by rooftop rather than by road.

The towers were built partly for defensive purposes.  Useful for pouring boiling oil on attacking enemies, but also the towers were for bolstering the egos of their owners, who competed with the others to see who could build the highest tower in town.

Today, San Gimignano is known for the shopping.  It was here that I purchased two pairs of leather shoes and had the best gelato(saffron cream).  Gelateria Dondoli was voted as the #1 Gelato World Champions in 2016.

After shopping, we loaded on the bus and headed to Poggio Alloto to have lunch and to view the breathtaking landscape view of the towers(San Gimignano).

Our last stop for the day was Siena, another of Italy's best-preserved medieval city.  Walking through the city, we saw the medieval contrade, which are the 17 districts that have been historically divided.  The contrades are a vibrant part of modern life.  You see symbols of the contrada--Tartuca(turtle), Oca(goose), Istrice(porcupine), Torre(tower), which are on banners and engraved on building walls.  The Sienese still strongly identify with the contrada where they were born and raised.  This is very visible during the centuries-old Palio, a twice yearly(July 2 & August 16) horse race, which is held in the Piazza del Campo.  Almost 35,000 people attend this event.

It was another great of discovering Tuscany!




La Villa del Cigliano

The morning began in Greve, one of the quaintest piazzas of Tuscany.  It is also the capital town of Chianti.  It was still early, so the town was very quiet.  We enjoyed walking into the shops and talking with the owners.  My friend, Linda and I stopped by a small market to buy fresh fruits & vegetables. We then went to a leather shop to find a leather belt for Linda, which the owner sized specifically for her.

The bus driver, Andrea, drove us through the beautiful countryside to Villa del Cigiliano.  The Villa was like a fortress.  The Villa has been in the family since the 1500's, which was purchased by Alessandro di Niccolo Antinori.

We were greeted by Anna, the current winemaker.  Her sweet smile and gentle spirit began to tell us the story of the Villa.  Her mother, Eleonora Antinori, passed away in 2001 and she inherited the winery because her brother and sister did not not want any part of it.  Anna & her husband were living in Rome and decided to come back to the place where she had such fond memories of growing up.

Anna was born in Portugal where her father was a diplomat to the Embassy.  Throughout her life, she had lived in very exotic places and at the age of 59 she decided it was time to go home and keep the memories of her ancestors alive among her children.

The medieval country villa was filled with so much history.  Personal photographs filled the rooms with lots of history and stories. The arched ceilings & colorful furniture and paintings were very intriguing and added to the environment of the medieval times.  Anna had her own collection of owls scattered throughout one of the rooms.

Anna escorted us outside to the beautiful garden which was filled with roses, exotic plants and the pool which acted as a mirror to the main house.  She spoke of the memories of a young child sitting under a tree, which was at least 150 years old.  The tree is no longer there, but she has planted a new tree to shade her family & guest as they sit out in the garden.  The back facade was decorated with shells to represent Neptune.

As we walked through the garden to the barn, Anna picked strawberries for us to eat.  The taste was so sweet & so fresh.  She showed us where she stored her lemon trees in the winter.  There was another room which is used as a hanging place for Malvasia grapes which are left to dry for a few months until they become raisin like.  These rare grapes are used to make Vinsanto, the holy wine used in the church.

We also toured the Chianti Classico winery & cellar.  They produce about 40,000 bottles a year.

Lunch was served on a long oval table in the family's dining room.  The tablecloth and dishes were so elegant.  We were served appetizers, bread(which we drenched in the family's premium olive oil), homemade pasta ravioli, strawberries(for dessert) and of course the traditional Chianti Classico wines.

When our time came for us to load up on the bus, our hearts were saddened in that we had not had enough time to hear more stories told by Anna.

As I left, I told her I would be back!




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Podere Il Casale(Organic Farm)

Driving southeast of the Villa on the one lane road, the driver would pull over & allow other cars to pass us as we traveled to our private excursion to Val d' Orcia.  It was going to be another sunny day in Tuscany!

After about 1 1/2 hours, we reached our destination of the organic farm.  We approached the farm with dust flying in every direction.  As we unloaded from the bus, we were greeted by the piercing call of the Indian peacock.  He strutted around displaying his extravagant royal blue & jade green plumage with the beautiful eyespots.

Uli, the owner greeted us and walked us to one of the most scenic views.  The Val d' Orcia region was breathtaking as we looked out into the rolling hills of vineyards and olive trees.  Parishes and countryside stone homes were seen in the distance as well as a volcano that has not erupted in over 200,000 years.

Uli told us a little bit about himself and his family.  In 1991, Uli and his wife, Sandra, left Zurich and moved to Podere Il Casale.  The 300 year old stone home needed lots of fixing up before they could start on their dream of building an organic farm.  The other buildings on the property were also renovated to be used as workshops, hayloft, stables, cellar & a dairy.

They have a small dairy, which is where they make their organic raw milk sheep's and goat's cheeses. The herd consists of about 200 sheep and 75 goats.

As Uli discussed his farm and the surroundings, the two donkeys felt very comfortable walking in and out of our group.  We toured the area of the goats & got to see the newborns, as well as seeing the sheep and pigs.

Uli discussed the cheese making process without using any chemical preservatives or additives.  He demonstrated the process of making cheese over a gas fire.  He said the three most important steps in making cheese were the temperature, rennet & curds/whey.

After the demonstration, we enjoyed a beautiful lunch of salad, pasta, cheese, wine & dessert, overlooking the valley of the area.

The day ended with us buying cheese, olive oil and wine!


Finding Firenze(Florence)!

As I crossed the Arno River into Florence, Italy, I knew that I would discover the true understanding of Renaissance art and architect.

Florence is a city which was founded in 59 BC, as a settlement for former soldiers, who were allotted land by Julius Caesar.  It is now known as the capital city of the Tuscany region.

As I was making plans to travel to Florence, several people had told  me that they would rather travel to Florence instead of Rome.  Florence's city population is approximately 400,000 verses Rome's city population at three million.  I visited Rome two years ago and I had enjoyed seeing the Vatican, the Coluseum and many other well-known sites, but there is something about the environment in Florence that I felt that I belonged.

Walking with the group on the cobblestone to the Galleria dell Accademia, it was hard to imagine that such great Renaissance men, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci & Raphael had once walked along this same street.

Arriving at the Academy, our guide, Sylvia escorted us into the first room to discuss the sculptures & art work of Michelangelo.  She took us back to the 15th century to help us understand how the sculptures would sketch their work and then roll out the clay to begin to create their masterpiece.

It was interesting to learn that Michelangelo destroyed most of his sketches.  He completed his finest sculpture at the age of 29.

His well known sculpture was David.  The statue was fifteen feet and was completed in 1504.

After the Academy, we then proceeded to the Uffizi to see the works of Leonardo di Vinci, as well as Raphael.  It was interesting to learn that Leonardo died at the age of 32, as Michelangelo died at the age of 88(three weeks shy of his 89th).

The Uffizi is the most important and visited museum in Florence.  The Uffizi palace was designed and began in 1560 by the architect Giorgi Vasari.  The early years of painting was done on wood panels and not the canvas that we are accustomed to.  You could spend days going through the Uffizi.  We hit the highlights of the great artists, such as Botticelli, Giotto, Raphael, di Vinci and Michelangelo.

On day two of touring Florence, we adventured to the Duomo.  It was not completed until 1436.  The real glory of the Duomo is Filippo Brunelleschi's dome.  Brunelleschi's engineering feat was constructing a novel scaffolding method to complete not only one dome, but two, one inside the other.  He employed a new method of bricklaying, based on an ancient Roman herringbone pattern, interlocking each course of bricks with the course below is a way that made the growing structure self-supporting.

Leaving the dome, we headed to the Ponte Vecchio.  This is a medieval stone closed arch bridge over the Arno River.  Walking through the crowds of people, we saw the shops of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.  These shops were once occupied by butchers(in the early years).

Everywhere you turned, you saw so many unique sites.  We ended the day with walking through Santa Croce Basilica, which is the principal Franciscan church in Italy.  Michelangelo is one of the well-known buried here.  The magnitude of this church is something that you personally have to see.  The stained glass windows throughout the Basilica brought out the beauty of this church.

As always, there is never enough time to see everything.  I will have to return to Firenze and walk the cobblestones where the Renaissance began!  Ciao!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Discovering Tuscany!

My adventure began on Friday as I headed to the Denver airport to catch my flight to Detroit to meet my friend, Linda.  We would then catch a flight to Paris, France to meet the group.  And then fly to Florence, Italy 🇮🇹.

Linda & I had traveled with this group two years ago.  We toured Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, Sicily(where we traveled to Palermo, Mt. Etna & Taormina) and then to Rome.  In Rome, we attended The Vatican & saw Pope Francis & all the other great sites in Rome.

Back in December, Linda called me & said the same lady who facilitated the trip in 2015, was putting together another group for Tuscany, Florence, Portovener, Turin & Alba.  I said "sign me up".

One of the things that intrigued me on this trip was that we were going to stay in a Villa in Tuscany.  All I could think about was the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" with Diane Lane.  She was a writer, who impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in order to change her life.

After almost twenty-four hours of traveling, we arrived in Florence. Andrea, our bus driver was patiently waiting for us as we came through customs.

All fifteen of us loaded up in the van & began our forty-five minute trip to the Tuscany area.  Driving along the highway, I observed the rolling hills of vineyards.

Along the road, I saw so many villas.  I wonder which one would be ours.  We finally pulled up to the rock gate of La Canonical Di Corrine Estate.  The bus was not allowed into the estate.  The staff greeted us and told us they would get our luggage.  

Villa Affresco is a magnificent classic Italian villa dating back to the 15th century and comprises part of an ancient Tuscan castle.  It is located in the heart of the Chianti countryside.

As I walked through the gate, I felt I had arrived into another era.  The whole world seemed to have changed and there were no worries before me.

Eliza, our Italian interpreter,  began to hand out the keys to our rooms.  She then began to show us what our accommodations would be for the next seven days.

The ceilings are about twelve feet tall.  One wall was painted a teal color with a medieval drawing.  There were floral accents throughout the Villa.

We proceeded outside to the gardens of white roses and then to the pool area.

From Linda & mine's room, we opened the eight foot windows to smell the surroundings, see the vineyards and hear the chattering of the birds.

Words can't even describe our dinner.  The two ladies started cooking about five p.m.  You could smell the aroma of olive oil and other spices.  We would be eating outside.  The ten foot table was covered with a beautiful blue tablecloth & napkins.  The dishes were light green with olives sketched on them.  The homemade pasta & their own wine made the meal extra special.  

I enjoyed conversing with the others, hearing the laughter and watching the sunset in the distance.

Tuscany was everything I thought it would be & more!