Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My favorite Italy photo

I love this photo. It was taken in Pienza, the home of Pope Pius Piccolomini who was having the town rebuilt as a classic Renaissance town until the money ran out after his death. This street overlooks a valley with a dormant volcano.

It was a lovely place, and every window seemed to have window boxes full of flowers or laundry.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The flock

I saw some soft sculpture birds in a high end magazine and showed them to Mother. These are her interpretation. Now that I have them, I am having fun thinking of ways to use them. I believe the article said they were intended as bowl fillers, but I am thinking that there could be a a garland, one could adorn a tote, maybe some could be featured on a bulletin board, a lampshade...

Any other ideas out there?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Backyard therapy

Last Saturday, in between bouts of nursing Cotton's reflux and esophagitus, I planted some pots. I think I came up with some attractive combinations. See for yourself.

There's oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Here's creeping jenny or lysimachia. And I love the rusty planter.

And in the blue pot are caladiums, asparagus ferns and creeping jenny.

And for the front there's white petunias, dusty miller and a geranium that was white blooms with a pink dot, that after a week turns light pink.

So on Wednesday afternoon after work, which has been wildly hectic with the promise of taking a turn for manicly wild, I took the now healthy Cotton, the martyr Gus and the trusty camera and went to the backyard for some relaxation. Flip flops set the tone.

Tim the landscaper had been back that day to finish adding plants. Below is a close up of the sweet shrub he added next to the yucca.

Now see the martyr Gus nibbling the sweet shrub blooms. Tactical error on my part. Who knew Goldens eat sweet shrubs?

But soon he was distracted with his favorite thing: chasing Cotton.

Never fear, dear reader, Cotton did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday. She knows staying on the hill right next to me is safe.

So what with the antics of the dogs, and the new plants, and the fabulous weather, the backyard did the trick. I went inside much refreshed.

[For those who are wondering, the martyr Gus got his name during the scary weekend illness Cotton had. Friday afternoon she was eating anything she could find, as it turns out, to alleviate the reflux and upset stomach the vets deduce she had. That included two 6" sprigs of artificial greenery which I made her regurgitate along with a collection of hard things I did not recognize. The rest of the weekend included a trip to the emergency vet and bouts of nausea and reflux during which she had to be monitored closely so she didn't eat anymore inedibles. So, Gus was roundly ignored, which he bore with surprising equanimity and a lack of retaliatory destruction. Until Tuesday when he somehow knew she was over it, and began reminding her who was top dog.]

Monday, April 21, 2008


Dear Audrey,

Today is your 4th birthday, I can hardly believe it. I bet you had a wonderful day. A little birdie told me you were coming to Atlanta to see Grandma Laverne for Mother's Day. I don't think she will mind if I have a little surprise waiting for you for your 4th birthday.

I think you will have a good time being 4. In fact, just think--you can tell Metz how much fun it is, just in case he thinks he wants to stay a baby. Why, 4 is practically grown up. Already you are on a baseball team, you play Xbox, you like to cook and you like to dress up.

I can't wait to see what you do next.


Aunt Molly

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Back to Normal

Hooray! I have my car back. New bumpers, lights, paint job, detail job...and it's my good old 5 year old truck back. I was given a brand new Tahoe to drive while mine was in for repair, but it was not as good as my older Yukon. No seat heaters for one and during this cold snap that was a big loss (how can it be this cold in April in Georgia? wait, that's another blog subject). For another, no XM radio, and I have learned I am hooked to Fox News via XM. Missed my sun roof too. And I was all set to just rely on my iPod, but the holder didn't work in the jack in the Tahoe. Disappointing.

I was so careful all the time I had the Tahoe not to scratch or dent it. The last night I had it, I took friends to dinner, and I noticed a white scuff on the passenger side mirror. Now it could have happened any time, but I'm thinking it had to be in the garage during dinner. The car wash operator in my building was a lifesaver. He took some solution and got rid of the white paint on the black plastic part of the mirror, and vacuumed out the inside to make sure there was no offending dog hair. And charged zero.

There are nice people in the world.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Masters

Yesterday, Maria and I went to Augusta to see the final playoff round of the Masters. I read somewhere once that Augusta National tried to make the tournament the best event ever in the U.S. In my book, they succeed, because this is the only large group gathering that didn't have me wishing I could head for the car as soon as I got inside. No cell phones. You can't imagine how wonderful that is unless you get to spend hours without them. No electronics of any kind. Etiquette enforced. Pleasant people. Polite people. It was glorious.
From the time we parked until the time we left, it was wonderful. Everything was organized and smoothly transitioned from parking to security screening to walking into the grounds. I had received member guest badges from a friend, so we had access to the less congested areas, including the restaurant and patio areas at the clubhouse and the smaller pro shop. Everything was as gracious and charming as I'd pictured it over the years. It was sunny, and although it was windy, it wasn't too uncomfortable. And of course, the grounds were lovely. Nothing I can say will do it justice.
We stationed ourselves in the stands at 15, and waited as the golfers came to us. While we waited we caught up on news since Maria and I never see each other as much as we'd like. We also enjoyed the 6 turtles on the bank of the water hazard (5 large, 1 small). A red tailed hawk sailed around overhead and birds chirped in the pines above. Behind us was a canteen with $2 beer, $1.50 pimento cheese, egg salad, chicken and ham and cheese sandwiches, $1.50 soft drinks and bottled water. All of it was logoed The Masters. It was so perfectly choreographed, I kept looking for Walt Disney. On the other hand, maybe he got to play a round at Augusta National and that's where he got the ideas for how to run Disneyland.
Then came the Scots. 4 men in full regalia: kilts, sporrans, knee socks, brogans. The only things missing were the small knives usually carried in the knee socks. Probably not allowed by the security team. People started filling in the stands. Sandy Lyle played through quickly and efficiently. I still don't know who was playing with him as the pairing list said something like non tournment marker. As soon as things started they stopped again. We all started watching and commenting on the turtles. We looked up the fairway to the crest where the golfers would generally appear after their first drive from the tee. A couple came and sat down with us. She announced that Choi and Slocum were so slow on the other hole they had been watching. Guess who we were waiting for?
It was so much fun to see these players in person. There were three drives from the fairway that made it to the tee. Most others laid up. There were two shots that landed in the water-I think one was Casey. Heartbreaking. Tiger missed his puts twice, no it must have been three times since he shot par on the hole. Mickelson hit into the far stands, some said deliberately, since that resulted in a free drop two club lengths from the stands. No one was hurt, and the spectator was allowed to keep the ball that struck them. Somehow I think they didn't mind. Mickelson got great applause throughout his play. Boo Weekly hit a drive that landed on a crossing area. He didn't like it, so he requested and received permission to move his ball to a better spot without advancing laterally. Of course, from our vantage point this was like watching charades since Weekley and the official used large gestures.
We were so captivated that we realized we hadn't moved for hours--we got sandwiches and pink lemonade at 5 pm after breakfast at 9:30 am. Snedecker had fallen apart by the time we saw him, and I was disappointed for him, because I really wanted him to win. Immelman was deliberate and efficient.
So after Immelman and Snedecker, we slowly made our way back to the car. Our route took us past two more leader boards and past 17 and then 18. By the time we reached 18, we knew it was Immelman's to lose since Tiger finised 5 under par, and Immelman was still at 8 under par.
Even the policemen directing traffic were gracious. As we walked across the street from Augusta National to the parking lot, the deputy asked if we had a good time and when we said yes, sincerely said he was happy to hear that and to come back next year. I'm telling you, it was disney-ish, in a good way.
When I got back to the car, I found that the sunscreen had long ago given up it's battle with the sun. Apparently the wind kept my face cool enough that I couldn't feel it burning. No matter, I wouldn't have moved anyway.
On our way home, Maria asked me what I would have done differently.
Not one thing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chianti (October 5, 2007)

If any of you have my email with the animal pictures, please forward it to me. Somehow I don't have those pictures.
Today I got up, took a walk to the main road and back. I saw two groups of Tuscany pigs (native to Tuscany, don't ask what is special about them). They are black and white, grunt and squeal like pigs, and at this place, are walking prosciutto, sausage and pork chops. The villa serves food they produce aside from things like milk.

In a nearby paddock, there were four mares with their babies, all waiting for breakfast. On the walk back from the main road, one of the farm staff was using a small tractor to deliver feed to the two groups of pigs and horses (the second paddock was nearer the road).
Coming back to the house it struck me how wonderful these places must have looked to U.S. Servicemen in WWII.

After a wonderful breakfast that included granola with chocolate, a boiled egg, croissant, ham (shaved thin, from here) and strong coffee-oh and grapes, we set out for the wine tour/tasting/lunch.

It was a wow. The place was lovely, a villa surrounded by hundreds of acres of hills with grapes, olives, forests, and gardens. The wine tour also included a little history: the Verrazzano of the winery is the one for whom the Verrazano Bridge in New York is named. 3 kinds of red wine, one dessert wine and a shot of grappa plus lunch and biscotti to dunk in the dessert wine. It went until almos 3:30. Fabulous.

We drove to Volterra [street scene above right] (me, I drove in Italy, can you believe it-aided by the English speaking tom-tom GPS). Saw the Etruscan museum, did a little shopping and returned to get supper around 8:30. To the left is an Estruscan funerary urn with the typical carving on the front showing the deceased being escorted to the underworld on a chariot with the family/friends sadly saying goodbye.

No photos this time-didn't take the blackberry with me today.
Ciao (chow, ya'll),
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Homesick for vacation

Okay, it's April in Atlanta. Flowers, showers and POLLEN. The count was 328something today, a record breaker. Maybe the rain that's starting will help.

Maybe you know I went to Italy with two friends last October, maybe no. Anyway, is it possible to be homesick for vacation? It was such a wonderful time and I was not ready to be home, although when I got here I was glad to be here. But I'd love to go back. Maybe next year. Until then, I'm going to put my pictures and emails from Italy here on my blog. I'll fill in any gaps, because I don't think I have all the emails I sent. Original emails will be in black type, I'll colorize the current comments (haha! color commentary).

Hope you enjoy reliving the Italy vacation with me.

Long Day (Oct 4, 2007)

Well, I made it. It was a long day--still is. We got on the plane Tuesday at 4, and had supper at 7, and because Italy is 6 hours ahead, I was having breakfast when my body thought it was 2 am.After a near miss connecting in Rome, we arrived in Florence, picked up our car and began driving to our first hotel. The scenery is gorgeous...hills, twisty roads and thin cedar trees, the classic Tuscan scenery. We had lunch 2 kilometers up the road--it was delicious. It was also named Il Mulino, just the same as the restaurant that is going in to our office building.

Now we are back at the hotel, we are going to have supper here tonight. Which is good, because I don't think I can stay awake much longer!Attached is a picture of the view from my window.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

With Gusto

About 5 months after I found Cotton, and transitioned to golden retrieverdom from german shepherdom, the trainers I worked with-Micheal and Elaine-told me Bailey the golden retriever was being returned to his breeder after all. There had been a false alarm just prior to my getting Cotton. So, I gave it lengthy consideration and in a matter of seconds said "I want him". He had been billed as the second best dog they had ever worked with--I think Fargo was in first. Anyway, we set out in a two car caravan with Cotton to meet Bailey, see if the two dogs were compatible and if so bring him home. They were, I did and here we are. Bailey rode back in Becky's van with Elaine while I had Cotton in my car with Cindy. When we got to my house, Becky said Bailey had man gas in the van.

It was a sign.

Here's a picture of the two dogs on the first day:

Cotton is on the left. Yep, the new kid had a buzz cut right down to the tip of his tail-in February. Incredible. Anyway, as you can tell, he's a big boy. I decided to call him Gus. As in with gusto (his m.o.) and after Granny Faircloth.

It was a painful adjustment for me and for Cotton as we had both gotten used to her being an only dog. Time passed and we learned Cotton would not have soft toys to play with anymore, and I would routinely lose shoes, rugs, towels, sunglasses, cash (story for another day), sandwiches from the counter, and any form of paper, but especially toilet paper. This last led to some interesting predicaments.

Gus pulled Cotton's ears and bit her feet; I once caught him dragging her across the floor by her collar (she was stubbornly clutching her toy in her teeth and trying to ignore him). On another day, he was lifting Cotton off the floor by her tail.

He watched and waited and plotted, and snatched Annie the terrier's favorite latex hamburger away at doggie play time (no small feat), and when Micheal moved toward him to take it away, Gus quite deliberately swallowed it. The vet said peroxide, which Gus thought was a very mean trick. It did get the hamburger back and avoid surgery, though.

Having Gus around is always good for a laugh once you relocate your sense of humor about whatever has just expired.

I understood Gus spent a great deal of time in his crate with the other family, I guess he has a lot of pent up energy.

He had such terrible allergies the first year - one day I woke up and the insides of both ears were BLACK and that took weeks to clear up. He itched and scratched all over. The fur fell off his underside. Thank goodness for the wonderful vet. In fact at the end of that year, I had been so many times with Gus that they sent me a box of chocolates and a thank you note for helping make their year a success. My friend Cindy who takes her cats to the same vet got a card.

Now Gus is 3, and the rate of destruction has slowed. In the last 6 weeks I have reintroduced soft toys to the house, and they are still intact. In fact, Gus seems to have learned how to play with them as opposed to gruesomely dismembering them. Cotton is overjoyed. On the other hand, I took my shoes off yesterday and was delayed in putting them safely in the closet. I soon heard the stealthy sound of big toenails tap, tap, tapping delicately across wood floors as Gus hied himself to the living room with his ill-gained loot.

Gus is very smart, and extremely affectionate. He loves people and when they make the mistake of smiling at him as they bend forward to pet him, he likes to slurp them right across the teeth (or tonsils if their mouth is open).

So I hope you'll come visit us, but remember to smile with your lips closed when you greet Gus.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ladies who Blog

One day, when I didn't have much to do, or had too much to do so I didn't want to do much, I sat down at my faithful computer to find some cool websites about things I liked. I found several, but I can't remember how I did it. Anyway, the first is GeorgiaPeachez which right now has a really colorful blog about buttons. Now these are not your grandma's buttons-wait, maybe they are. Because they are some kind of pretty and I can't think if I've ever worn anything with buttons like these. Go take a look.

Then there's Barbara Jacksier . And French Garden House . Lavendar Hill Studio - this site plays music so be sure your sound is not turned up.

Raised in Cotton : now, how could anyone from Alabama pass that one up? Plus they blogged about a week long antique fair in Texas that made me really envious. Anyone want to go next year?

And I found The Cottage Nest . The Cottage Gals are worth a visit, too.

So these are some of the places I go when I want to look at something that is out of my everyday stuff. Like today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meet Cotton

An 18 year old, blond haired, brown eyed girl from south Georgia, she likes running, belly rubs and spending time in the great outdoors. She believes we will only have world peace when everyone takes a long walk everyday and stops to smell the flowers. A bit of a grooming stickler, Cotton always puts on insect block before going outside. Always one for the proprieties, she stands to introduce herself to new friends or welcome old friends.


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