Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hadrian's Villa

On the same day we ventured from Rome to go to Villa d'Este, we also took in Hadrian's Villa. As I recall, we had to take two different buses to get there. I bought the tickets at the local tabacchi and inquired as to where the bus stop might be. The vendor nodded her head in a general direction and so I went and sat on a bus stop bench. Just to be sure, I asked another local tourist shop owner and she said no, that wasn't the right place to go across the street. So we did. (This is quite common in Italy.) Luckily, a lady was sitting on the bench we where we were supposed to wait. Just to be sure, I asked her, too. She said yes, this was the right stop but more than one bus stopped here so she told me the number to look for. We had a rather nice conversation, although limited because I have a hard time understanding the dialect/accent in and, I guess around Rome. She was sorry she didn't speak English but when she was in school, she studied French. But she told me that all the kids nowadays learn English in school and that she wished she could speak it as well. She was a very nice lady and waved goodbye to us, repeating that the bus we were waiting for was yellow as she got on the bus with her grocery bags.

Hadrian was a busy guy. He loved to build or rebuild stuff. Like Hadrian's Wall in England, Hadrian's Column in Rome and he rebuilt the Pantheon as well giving credit to Marcus Agrippa as it's original builder on the facade. He travelled all over the Roman Empire and was influenced by the architecture of the places he visited. So when he came back from his empire touring, he had this place built and made it his capitol. I wonder how easy it was to get here in those days?

This was a lovely scene and I wanted to know was just so interesting about this spot that was of such interest to this film crew.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this handsome fellow. Yes, I'm sure he is a male italian lizard. Can't you tell by the way he's checking me out? And, even the lizards are sleek and stylish. Then, I came across these beautiful tile floors in need of a good scrubbing.

What beautiful patterns, don't you think? The niches are where the beds would have been so the floor is not as ornamented there. The historians were not sure if these were rooms for couriers or soldiers.

I would love to quilt the central pattern on this one.
Or this one.
Here is a nice geometric pattern.
And, this one of circles.
Unfortunately, the museum was closed by the time I got here. So, I guess I'll have to go back. But, maybe next time I'll bring a broom and mop and maybe some sketch paper and a tape measure to get some proper dimensions.
The Italians love to mix the old with new venues. I think they were setting up for a concert. There isn't much left of the architecture at Hadrian's Villa but it must have been a very beautiful and peaceful place. I wish that they would restore this but some say that it is too far gone for restoration. That doesn't seem quite fair to such a great builder.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Cosmic Universe

This is the result of spending a weekend once watching the Discovery Channel. They did a sort of astronomy show marathon. The center is the cosmic soup from which the galaxy was formed. Then particles began to coalesce to form planets. The planet are represented by the various quilt blocks. Earth is the blue planet. Mars & Jupiter orangy/purple, Saturn green and yellow and Venus must, of course, be pink and purple. At the edges of the universe, Uranus.

Then, it was quilted with iridescent thread on a long-arm machine with a special pattern invented just for this quilt that we called - wormholes and stars. This is what happens when science geek and quilting colide.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


(The Raphael Rooms, Vatican Museum)

I'm always fascinated by the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican. Most of the vast amounts of people are busy looking at the upper parts of the rooms. I prefer to look at the lower half. Because, just who are these people? Are they ghosts? The nameless, ordinary, everyday folk whose mundane lives provide the goods and work so the rich may live a life of luxury. I don't know what the first man is holding. Maybe a plow? And the last? At first I thought it was a paddle for a boat. But maybe it is a bread paddle. Maybe they're the bread guild? Above those folks are these murals.

This is Constantine battling Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. Supposedly, Constantine had a dream the night before the battle where a cross appeared to him saying he would win the battle. He did and legalized Christianity.

The Disputa

The School of Athens

Some say that Raphael snuck into see Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel and was so impressed with the work that he changed his style and added Michaelangelo to the scene. He is the one on the lower left, sitting at the block of marble.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Villa d'Este, Tivoli

Since I won't be going to Italy this year (at least as far as I know), I've been keeping myself busy and amused with designing my backyard. I didn't finish it with the rest of the house because I look at the garden as something you develop over time. I was saving this photo from the Villa d'Este in Italy for a post this summer when it would be 113 Fahrenheit outside. And, I could look at this refreshing, cool photo and not feel the summer heat. I really didn't want a water feature in the backyard, as we suffer from mosquitos.

Plus, I don't have this kind of acreage in my backyard.
For a feature quite like this.
So things will have to be scaled down a bit.

It is a lovely place although not the easiest place to get to on public transportation (or I fear by car either).

But, it is dreamy enough to have made it onto the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Perfect San Francisco Day

Instead of doing all the things I need to be doing in the yard. I decided to go to San Francisco for the day. I have been meaning to go to the Legion of Honor to see the special exhibit on Marie-Antoinette and her hideaway, the Petite Trianon at Versailles. This was the next to last weekend of the show. In my opinion, the Legion of Honor is the finest museum on the West Coast. I only limit it to the West Coast because I have not been to the East Coast.

Tucked away up in the avenues are Rodin sculptures, Roman antiquities, china and the finest collection of European art I have seen outside of Europe. I went one day when my dad was in the hospital for two weeks after he had open heart surgery. In the mid-week when it first opened, it was like my own, personal private museum. Small and intimate. So when we made our plans to go, I wanted to be there when the doors first opened. That didn't quite happen. We got their about eleven and the place was cooking. I guess lots of people wanted to see Marie-Antoinette before she left town.
This is the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from near where we parked.

After we saw the special exhibit and the regular exhibits, we went here for a late lunch.
I had my favorite sandwich, fresh dungeness crab on sliced sourdough bread with cheese melted on top while we gazed at the view from our table. They have amazingly happy waiters here. I can't imagine why.

This is Ocean Beach and all I wanted to do after lunch was to lay down in the sand and take a nap. The day was absolutely gorgeous. Then, the fog started to roll in. Being native San Franciscans, we knew it was time to make our exit. Can you find the windmill in the photo? Oh yeah, it's there, part of Golden Gate Park.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chocolate croissants

For a while, my sister and I were on a mission to find decent croissants somewhere in a 200-mile radius of where we live here in California. They were just too hard to make and didn't turn out like the real (code: like they taste in France) croissants. We went to bakeries in Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and even incorporated bakeries into a trip we took to Los Angeles to see the King Tut Exhibit a few years back. Then we gave up. Because, a) we were puttin' on weight going to all those bakeries and b) the croissants just weren't even close to what real croissants are supposed to taste like. Oh yeah, and we even lowered our standards. But, we had to draw the line somewhere. Croissants should be flaky and not like bread. But low and behold, one day I received a mail circular from Trader Joe's advertising frozen chocolate croissants.

There is only on catch. They must proof or rise for 9 hours. Which means before you go to bed if you want to have fresh croissants in the morning. They look like this in the evening.

Then they look like this the next morning. Brush on a little egg wash.

Then voila. Chocolate croissants. Okay, they are not exactly like french croissants but its been awhile since I've been there but it is the closest I'm getting to a real croissant until I do.

And, don't even get me started on what real Danish pastry tastes like.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Just what was I thinking!

Today, in all my efficiency of getting organized and doing my taxes, I kept getting interrupted by phone calls. Wrong numbers, requests for donations, election polls. So when I got a phone call inviting me to hear President Clinton speak in Stockton tomorrow, I filed it away in my brain but didn't think the logistics would work for me. As the evening wore on (and I finished my taxes, reimbursements and filing), I thought, "What was I thinking! Of course, I want to hear Bill talk about what the Hill is going to do and what a great First Laddie he will be! I RSVP'ed by email. Hopefully, we'll get to see him tomorrow. The weather looks like it is going to be nice (keeping my fingers crossed). And, I'm even bringing the checkbook. I hope I can get a bumper sticker :)!!!