Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday Still Life

Hydrangeas on washi. When I was a little girl, I would spend my allowance on pottery animals from Soko Hardware in San Francisco (I think the small ones cost a quarter and the bigger ones 50 cents). I still love Soko Hardware and hardware stores in general.
I usually don't cut my hydrangea blossoms preferring to enjoy them on the bush. But with the schizophrenic weather we're having this year, last week 106, today in the 70's and rain, I figure they won't last very long outside either.I love this little washi covered tin. We looked at these as possible favors filled with candy for my sister's wedding but opted for something else.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Italian in 10 words a day

Living in the Central Valley, I live far from the closest Italian language school located in the Bay Area. So when I decided to learn me some Eye-talian, I had to learn by cassette tape, books, websites, radio and TV. Every once in a while, a word on the radio or TV would click in my head and make a connection to something I was reading or writing. How many times in a show do they say, allora on RAI? Lotsa times. Having studied Spanish in high school, I realized that lessons usually focus on conjugating verbs but very little conversation can be had without nouns. I go ___, I like ___, I buy ___, I saw ___, where is ___ . You can see this seriously limits conversation. So in my learning isolation, I decided to build a volcabulary by learning 10 new words a day. I tried to learn in words in groups like these: animals (coniglio, cavallo, pollo, ratto, topi, cervi, mucca, serpente, uccello notice this word is listed with the animals), body parts (mani, piedi, faccia, bocca, naso, caviglia, avambracchio, ginocchio not to be confused with finocchio!), gardening words (piante, girasoli, ciclamina, margherita), houseware words (lenzuole, guanciale, lavastoviglie, lavatrice), cycling words (ciclismo, gregari, sella, freno, catena, traguardo, manubrio, velocista, scalatore), farming words (vigna, albero, pino, fiume, acero, campo, granaio) food words, soccer words, sewing words, building material words, geologic words, swear words... it takes a lotsa words to speak in another language. So, I put them on 3 x 5 index cards. Lotsa them. Then, the other day, while at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in San Jose , I found these babies and I just had to share... They're small flash cards on rings. I just wanted the plain white ones that were only 95 cents. But my sister insisted on buying them and the ones that look like paint chip samples as a shopping gift. I'm saving them for special words. I don't know right now just what those words might be. Hmm? Archaeological words? Art words? I don't have to rush because, I have so many words left to memorize. Just think, if I would have had these to start with I wouldn't have had to lug this pile around.
But as I'm regressing and starting (to) dimenticare my Italian words, it's time to take up my textbook and work on my New Year's resolution to do one chapter a month. And as it's almost June, I have to do a 5 chapters before then to get back on schedule.

P.S. The aretino, Daniele Bennati won his third stage of the Giro d'Italia today.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Arezzo - Part 2, Pottery Obsession - Part 1

I've always loved pottery. Maybe it is because I love the handmade and the artisan-crafted. Maybe it is because I grew up in a time when people were starting to reject products of mass production. Or maybe, because it is so beautiful and yet meant for everyday use. So when I happened upon the Archaeological Museum in Arezzo, I sort of hit a bonanza of pottery. First, there was this plaque called a campana plaque not because they are from Campania but because the man who first catalogued them was named Campana. I kept coming back to this plaque trying to envision the house it must of graced. Not a grand and ostentatious home meant to impress, but a simpler home, cottage-like with tastefully chosen decorative elements . Whoever, had it made must have had a lovely garden, a pond and tadpoles.
Then, I came upon this pleasing pottery called bucchero.
These lovely, rounded bucchero pots were even more beautiful.
This pottery was locally made with a slip glaze causing the final product to have a reddish color. This is called Arezzo ware or Arretine ware. There is an entire exhibit room full of Arezzo ware. It is amazing to look at the craftmanship on this goblet.
In case you're wondering how such a delicate design was put upon the goblet, there are shelves full of little moulds like these that have been found.
They kind of remind me of little butter moulds I have.
All in all, the Archaeological Museum in Arezzo is quite the find. While the collection may not compare in historical significance to the treasures in the museums in Rome, Florence and Naples, it is nontheless truly a wonderful treasure worth visiting even if you are not pottery obsessed!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Arezzo is a town as well as a province and one of it's other famous sons is Petrarch who wrote the lovely poems about his unrequited love for Laura in the 1300's. The city is full of beautiful streets and shops like this one...
Architectural interest is abundant....beautiful doorways... the symbol of the Medici family in the Vasari loggia

Or this ancient balcony.
Ahh, here is another famous aretino, the Chimera of Arezzo but much to the chagrin of other aretini, he resides in the Archaeological Museum in Florence...

Piazza Grande is the center of the old town where they hold medieval a medieval jousting tournament called the Giostra del Saracino.
Arezzo is probably most famous for the chapel decorated by Piero della Franceso depicting the legend of the True Cross where photographs are not allowed. William Tode was on exhibit in the newer gallery in 2005 and I bought one of his signed prints.
Arezzo also has a fine Archaeological Museum next to the old roman amphitheater.

Where among many fine objects, you can see items recovered from gladitorial training. Err, looks pretty sharp to me for training....
This grappling hook looks like serious business, too!
Ouch! I think I'd want more than this helmet for protection!
Arezzo like many Tuscan towns, is lovely and beautiful. I made three trips to Arezzo and still didn't get to see the inside of Santa Maria della Pieve. Oh well, next time.....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Saturday Still Life

The first of the zinnias and the last of the pansies. Plus some cast iron teapots from Japantown in San Francisco.