Sunday, November 4, 2018


Velvet chair with an opinion
One of my favorite things to photograph while traveling is shop windows.  There's always something I haven't seen, or it's displayed or made differently than I'd find at home. 

There are quite a few mask photos here, but then again, it's Venice.  Canals and masks, those are two of the givens. 

Also other interesting goodies, but I'll let you see for yourself.  Photos are all captioned.
Mechanical horse in a bookshop

Bookshop dioramas - I love the violin!

Art supply store with real ground pigment

Glass flowers - gorgeous!

I thought the triple face was interesting

The shoes on the right, please

Spice store - as pretty as the ground pigments
The smell that came out the open door - amazing
The steampunk style masks were on sale
Lovely shop, famous for making masks for Eyes Wide Shut
and other films.

Thursday, November 1, 2018


Living room on the canal
So we took ourselves away for a few days almost two weeks ago.  It was planned a while back, and then I didn't exactly forget about it, but I did deliberately not think about it.

There's just been a lot going on, with work and fall craft shows and everything else, that a vacation felt somewhere between self-indulgent and an interruption. 

Didn't we have enough to do?

Which sounds stupid, I know - who bitches about going on vacation? 

I took myself for coffee in town a few days before we left and thought about it, and realized what my problem was.

We've been in the house since the beginning of March, but we're not done yet.  And that bothers the hell out of me.

Sitting area in the bedroom
It shouldn't, considering what else we've accomplished in that time - packing to move, cleaning and selling my house, cleaning, painting and selling Mario's house, and cleaning, painting and listing his rental property (which hasn't sold yet), but sometimes logic doesn't enter into it.

I live by my to do lists, and my list wasn't done.

So I didn't deserve to have a treat.

Except . . . what? 

View from the windows
Of course we deserved a treat.  We'd cleaned, painted and sold two houses, bought a house, moved into it, and still managed to carry on our normal lives with only minimal disruption.

Craft shows haven't been particularly profitable this year, but (a) the weather's been awful, and a few outdoor shows have canceled, and (b) I think there's some cosmic ledger that says 'you've done well enough on real estate, slow down and let someone else make a few bucks on the craft shows.'

So I exhaled, got over myself, and we went to Venice.

We had a gorgeous Airbnb.  When I went there 18 years ago, by myself, I found a small, cheap hotel a few streets from the nearest canal.  This time, I wanted a canal view.  And I got one.

Big, comfy bed
The apartment was near Campo san Mauritzio, which was so hard to find that when we went out for the first time, I took pictures all the way, like breadcrumbs to track our way back.  It was an adorable little place, a tiny kitchen, a sunken living room with double doors right on the canal (with a glass balcony which kept the rising water from entering the apartment), a miniscule bathroom and a lovely big bed under a beamed ceiling.

The weather was unexpectedly warm - in the 70s for the first few days we were there - and we left the bedroom windows open when we went out.  Big mistake.  When we tried to go to sleep that night, all we could hear was the whine of mosquitoes. 

If you look closely, you can see that
the water is above floor level.  Yikes!
I'm not much bothered by them, except for the noise, but Mario is bug bait and when he got up in the morning, his shoulders were covered in bites. 

After that, we kept the windows shut except for when we wanted to lean out and look at the tiny, narrow canal outside, or smell the slightly stagnant, fishy scent (which I love, but then again, I love when we drive down the shore and the first smell you get is the funky back-bay smell).

It was nice having an apartment as a base.  Even if we don't use the kitchen much, or at all, other than the fridge, I like having the extra space and the privacy.  Once upon a time, I was the kind of traveler who used dirt cheap bed-and-breakfasts, the kind with the shared bathroom down the hall.

Age and a decent salary has its privileges.

And the fridge did get used, at least.  Bottles of prosecco and my new favorite, the bottled Bellini.  I've had Bellinis before, but I hadn't realized you could get them pre-mixed and in personal sizes. 

Here's to champagne and peach juice for breakfast.  Yum!

The airport opens right onto the water
As far as the traveling itself, it was probably the easiest flights ever.  For the first leg, Philly to Dublin, we got in an hour early, and despite warnings, the ground crew wasn't ready so we had to wait for the plane to get attached to the gate.  And then we had to wait for someone to open a cafe, but it was all good.  Dublin to Venice went quickly.  The longest part was the line at the airport for the Alilaguna boat, which took groups of 50+ into the city, stopping along the Grand Canal to disgorge passengers and luggage into this magical city.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Green space

This is one of the many small parks near our house.  It's only about 3 blocks away, and sometimes I walk down there just to sit on the wall and read, and listen to the water.

On the town map, it's listed as "undeveloped," I guess other than the pipe that contains the creek which would otherwise run across the intersection.  The town comes in and cuts the grass and checks on the trees periodically, but otherwise it's left alone for the neighbors, their dogs, and an overabundance of squirrels to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

My little corner

In addition to my work room upstairs, this is my other special place in the house. I've never had a dedicated office for my desk, but this is the next best thing - it's in what was the dining room, which now has the bookshelves and a loveseat - and it's partly open to the living room. Because of the layout, I am blocked from a lot of the TV noise, so I can work downstairs while Mario is watching TV, and still feel like we're in the same place.

The desk is getting its own post because it's become a lot more important lately. Several years ago, I talked on the blog about the novel I was writing and the process of submitting it to agent. Well, I did submit, and I did get an agent, but it didn't work out the way I would have liked. While I do have some afterthoughts about the agent and the submission process, I also know now that the project she was submitting was not as good as it should have been, and that certainly didn't help matters.

It's been about 2 years since I got the book back, and during that time I haven't written much. I've done a lot of sewing, picked up a permanent part-time job, and bought and sold various pieces of real estate, plus the untold joys of moving house.

Now that we're settled, I've started hearing voices again. (These are the good kind, don't worry). Part of me would like to play with a shiny new project, but the bigger part of me isn't ready to let go of a book that I think is really good. So, for the last three weeks, I've been going through it chapter by chapter, doing a much more thorough edit than I did last time. I thought I did a good edit last time, but there's always more to learn. The book as it stands now is much tighter, and the pacing is much better. Or at least I think so.

I have about 4 more chapters to go, and then I think I will put myself through the submission process one more time. Because, hey, why not? If it doesn't work this time, I'm considering self-publishing. Because, also, why not?

What are your thoughts? Has anybody done this? Do you have any opinions on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? Inquiring writers want to know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dinner time

The service in this establishment leaves much to be desired.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Close to home

A few weeks ago, we had a hot spell that didn't want to end.  I'm generally pretty accepting of weather; it can get unpleasant, but it's going to end sooner or later, and then we'll have something different to complain about (like the biblical rains we've had recently).

But this heat wave was a bit more than I was up for.  The worst thing was it was trapping me in the house under a fan, and since it's summer, I want to explore my new surroundings. 

One morning, I got out around 8:30, right after Mario left for work, and headed west from our house.  We'd already walked north a ways, and south and east led to areas covered by our drive back to Philly each day.

A few blocks from the house, I saw a little sign that said "swedish cabin."  I'd seen that sign before, on the main road we used to get to Philly or further west.  No idea what it was, though. 

I followed the arrow on the sign to the next sign, and the next.  Eventually, I came to a sign that said "swedish cabin, 3/4 mile" with one last arrow.  This took me up a quiet, paved road along Darby Creek. 

There were mid-week fishermen along the banks, but no other traffic.  I walked for about a half hour (longer than it would normally take, but it was already in the 80s), and eventually, the trees on either side gave way to a clearing.

The cabin, according to the little historic marker out front, was built between 1630 and 1650, which makes it the oldest surviving building in Pennsylvania. It was originally intended as a trading post for Swedish settlers and Native Americans, and after that it had a fairly checkered history.

By the 1970s, it had fallen into disrepair and was heavily vandalized.  A "friends of" group formed, had it designated historic and began restoration.  Now it's open on Sunday afternoons for a few hours for tours, but otherwise, it's just this lovely quiet spot at the end of a quiet road.  With water.

I'm a sucker for water.  If I'm hot, the only thing that really makes me feel better, is finding running water to splash around in - or at least put my feet in. 

I found a bank that wasn't too muddy, took off my shoes, and did just that.  It was cold, fast-moving, and the feel of the water moving over my feet took my body temperature down a good 20 degrees.

I sat there for a while, until I heard voices on the path, and a few joggers arrived with the same idea.  We nodded and said hello, and after a few minutes I got up, shook myself dry, and started back toward home, in a totally different frame of mind.

I'm not a big fan of exercise for its own sake.  I'll run, if I'm being chased, but as a recreational activity, it's overrated in m book.  At some point, I'll get my bike put together and have that option, but for now, I'm on foot.

It's just been lovely finding so many quiet, green places close to home that make me feel like we've moved much further from the city than we have.

The best part of this little morning wander away from home was the clearing effect it had on my head.  I'd been puzzling away on how I wanted to start on a project (the happy family of critters I wrote about recently), and when I got in from my walk, I went right to the machine and started work and it all made sense.

A few days later, it got a bit cooler and I got Mario to walk out there with me on the weekend.  I found a more direct route than the follow-the-signs route I took the first time, and the whole walk (about 1.5 miles) took a little over a half hour. 

Coming back, we took a slight variation that I had noticed on my walk, but not taken.  I already wanted to get back to my sewing machine, and I was afraid that another side trip would distract me - and it would have.  Turns out there's a whole recreation area down there by the creek, with areas for cookouts, a swimming hole, a water fall, and - most fun for me to watch - ropes for adventurous swimmers (all adolescent boys) to swing out over the water.

This path took us out to a dog park near the main road, and when we got there, we realized we passed that park nearly every time we drove west, without knowing any of it was back there.

Driving can be nice if you know where you're going, but if you're trying to explore a new place, there's nothing better than getting lost on foot, and finding out for yourself what's close to home. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

At last

It's finally done. Or as close to done as it's going to get right now, since I probably shouldn't have been working on it at all.

But a maker's gonna do what a maker's gonna do.

We've been here since March, and even before we moved in, I knew what I was going to have to do with my work space. In the old house, I had an enormous 4 x 8 conference table as my workspace, but that wasn't going to work here. The whole room is only 8 x 10. I spent some time at the office browsing Ikea for ideas, and ended up deciding on two 5 foot long work tables, one at standard height and one with adjustable legs so that I could have a cutting surface that wouldn't wreck my back. I printed out the list of what I needed, and put it aside until there was time to deal with it.

Is there ever time? I worked on a few commissions, and started trying to get ready for spring craft shows, but I wasn't really motivated. I did it, but I was thankful there weren't very many shows scheduled.

Then one day, I just couldn't take it anymore. I went online and found that Ikea was running a sale. All the things I wanted were 10% off. Sounds like a sign from the craft gods to me. I ordered everything, paid an extra $5 to have them pull it for me, and we drove down to Ikea the next day and loaded my entire new workroom into the Outback.

Needless to say, I probably should have painted the room before I built the furniture and hung old pictures on the walls. But I will get to that eventually. Or not. The important thing is I'm working, steadily and well.

Turns out I wasn't unmotivated at all I was just uncomfortable.