Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas House

My parents moved to San Marino when I was three.  Then, as now, some civic-minded volunteers in San Marino dressed its large bus stop up for the holidays.  We live now in an era of excesses, and this doesn't seem like too big a deal.  There's all kinds of crazy decorations everywhere.  But back in the sixties, this was a big deal.  My dad must have shot a couple of rolls of black and white film to capture this bit of Christmas finery.

Although this is clearly in the style of a church, the temporary structure is known as the Little Christmas House.  It may be San Marino's effort to separate church and state, but it isn't a more non-sectarian holiday house.  Santa Claus used to show up there one day a year, and talk to kids about whether they'd been good and what they wished for.  Maybe he still does, but I don't know.  He gave out Christmas themed Little Golden Books like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Biggest Most Beautiful Christmas Tree.  I met Santa there.  I got my book.  I also sang carols there with Brownie Troop 97 and our dads.  I have a picture.  My dad isn't in it, because he took it.

It was a odd place to paint, sitting out in the middle of Huntington Drive, looking a bit like a hobo and worrying about runaway cars.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back Home

This was just last Saturday, plein air painting in my own backyard.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Log del Capitano

Hah!  I found the journal.  Here are substantial excerpts.  I'm not too worried about exposing too much of myself.  Sort of like the money belt I took traveling, I am never without my filter

So, I took the D bus over the Arno.  I went to Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, other gardens, walked outrageous amounts in gardens, climbed stairs, saw views, saw little museum collections of stuff and beautiful interiors.  Have not seen San Lorenzo and Chapelle Medicee.  I do not know where I get my bus to Poppi.
I'm not speaking much, but some of it is Italian.  Apparently Italian people like wagons and hatchbacks as much as I do.  They drive on cobblestones and probably don't whine about potholes.  For a while I was flattered that lots of people asked me for directions in lots of languages, but I think its just that I am a woman by myself and as such unthreatening.  Most of the women I've seen by themselves are walking dogs, and they are certainly not tourists.  Really not alone either, and possibly not unthreatening.  It's easy to smile at people walking dogs, just like at home.

Churches or cathedrals that are hundreds of years old smell just like churches I've attended.  What is that smell?  Marble, stained glass, candles, people, holiness?  It would be difficult to forget God with the church bells around here.  I'm not experiencing Florence night life.  If you pick up gravel here, you might be picking up bits of Etruscan, Roman, or at least Medieval antiquities.

I did mail postcards.  I changed dollars and felt cheated.  I think the ATM is better.  I can't take the bus to Poppi.  It isn't running because of the bicycle race.  The train doesn't go directly.  A taxi will cost 120 euros. It has been many years since I spent this long out of the presence of people who love me.  I am awkward and sad.    

Monday, December 9, 2013

Where did November go?

I've been losing the strangest things lately - like the Christmas lights and the little travel journal sketchbook thingy I brought to Italy.  The latter I was going to use as the basis of this post.  As I sought to explain "lonely and awkward" to the uninitiated, my very raw and unedited scribbles of my awkward and lonely thoughts illustrated with some crappy little pen drawings would help.  But it isn't to be.  I replaced the Christmas lights tonight.  Buying new ones may just bring the old ones out of hiding.

The painting here is my last Saturday painting before I left the country.  It may be the pinnacle of my former quirky style of painting.  I can't quite shake the stuff I learned in the workshop.  I wouldn't want to unlearn it, but it would be nice to use it at will, or at will paint something more like this instead.  I kind of trust it will sort itself out as long as I keep on painting some way or other.    

This is in Sierra Madre Canyon.  It turned out not to be my best day, but it could have been much worse.  I'll say no more about it.