Saturday, October 30, 2010


Anne asked if I had any photos of finished quilting pieces I had made, so I will put up a few that i have presently out in my home. Most have been given away as gifts and the others are packed away. Maui is on my mind these days so the stained glass window in the wedding chapel at the Grand Wailea is now back on my to-do list. Actually, I have already cut the template and pieces for some of the figures and flowers if you can believe it! That's just about how hard it is to find a chunk of time to dedicate to one sitting. So, thanks for being the impetus to kick start me again.

A little history: I began quilting as a way to be 'creative' while at home when my kids were very small. After they were asleep, I would work through most of the night and cherished this time for its quiet and peacefulness. I have been quilting for over 20 years. I made the decision of being a stay at home mom while my children were young, but it proved a difficult transition for me from being in a working, professional environment. Loved spending time with my children and sharing moments in their growth, but missed the autonomy and comraderie qualities of work. To compound this sense of isolation, we were one of the first houses in a newly built development in a fairly new community. I have always done artistic things so when my sister first showed me the Eleanor Burns way of 'quilting in a day', it was therapeutic. I moved to my style of a more contemporary quilting method. So these may not be the quilts you are familiar with. Thanks for allowing me to share some with you.

PhotoHunt; Dark

This is a stained glass window in the wedding chapel at the Grand Wailea in Maui. With the sun shining off the water, the window's colors are really illuminated brightly. I have been wanting for three years now to quilt some of the figures from these windows. Now to find the time......

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cat Stevens

Over on the 'social network', Barb posted this link,, in our conversation about Cat Stevens. His music caught my soul in the 70's and I believe is still current today. He has surely led a rich, albeit provocative life to some people. His is truly an example of a life in flux which brought fulfillment, maybe contentment, in many layers.

His music is timeless; his lyrics heartwarming. It's too hard to pick one song that is my favorite. Think a revival today of his music would be meaningful?

Friday, October 22, 2010

PhotoHunt: Orange

I had a hard time deciding on which 'orange' photo to use. The ballooning one is from Sedona quite a few years ago but I just found my set of Sedona digitals. Yeah, I thought I lost them.
The other photo is from my sister's house in CT. I can sit on her deck for hours and watch the changing skies and river.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baptistry of San Giovanni

Everyone is probably more familiar with the bronze gates (Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise) of the Baptistry, part of the triumvirate of the Duomo, belltower and Baptistry. My first trip to Florence was specifically to see the Gates of Paradise door. My second trip to Florence was to visit the leather shops and San Croce. On this trip, I was determined to visit the inside of the Baptistry.

Just prior to our departure, Ty and I found time to spend our ‘arriverderci’ walk around Florence. I spotted the side door to the Baptistry open with people entering it. It was daily Mass! So, Ty and I attended what was another one of our special moments of our trip. Not only was it an intimate setting, a ‘chicken skin’ moment to hear a Mass in Italian, but I couldn’t refrain from stealing peeks at the ceiling which glistened with gold mosaics in Byzantine fashion. The technique used here is similar to the mosaics found in Ravenna and Venice of ungrouted glass and gold smalti (which catch the light in different ways from different angles).
All the mosaics have a gilded background and were made between 1266 and the beginning of the 14th century by Byzantine artists with the collaboration of vigorous Tuscans like Cimabue, Giotto’s master – much earlier than the outside doors! Work began on the arch over the altar in 1225 and continued to cover the entire roof vault during the next hundred years or so. The mosaics show biblical scenes, arranged in six concentric rings centered on the roof dome. The first ring is decorative, the second shows Christ surrounded by angels. The outer rings have images from the Old and New Testaments.
The Baptistery floor is of inlaid marble, in red, green, black and white, in a wide variety of patterns. Also referred to as pietre dure, this incorporates thin sections of stone and semi-precious materials into pictures which are as detailed as paintings. This floor reminded us of the floor in the Cathedral of Siena.

The haunting wooden visage of "Magdalene" sculptured by Donatello and was originally exhibited in the Baptistery but it now housed in the Museo dell´Opera del Duomo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brancacci Chapel

The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine houses the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel, built prior to 1386. The frescoes were begun in 1424, reworked, and restored. Brancacci met with some disapproval for allowing portrayals of some contemptuous people in the frescoes. Over time so frescoes were covered but later restored. The Chapel was not thoroughly completed until the 18th or 19th century.
Sometimes called the “Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance”, Felice Brancacci, the patron, commissioned Panicale to paint his chapel. Panicale was assisted by Masolino and Masaccio but the frescoes were later completed by Lippi. The chapel is a plethora of vibrant frescoes. Twelve scenes beginning with The Original Sin and up to the Life of Saint Peter cover the walls and the dome of the Corsini Chapel is covered with frescoes by Giordano.
Masaccio was considered the first painter of his day to use scientific perspective, which he learned from his friend, the sculptor, Brunelleschi. Masolino and Masaccio used their paint in an unprecedented manner which evoked vivid energy and emotional realism that until that time had not been seen. Their use of three dimensionality was a trendsetter in Renaissance art. Flilppino Lippi, whose work is also in Santa Maria Novella and Lorenzo de Medici's villa at Spedaletto, is full of beautiful detail
There is a bit of controversy over which painter actually painted each fresco. Some were seemingly started by one but completed by another, making it difficult to attribute correctly the masterpiece to the appropriate master.
All the 14th century artists were greatly influenced by these scenes and used this cappella as a classroom to hone their skills. One such artist was Michelangelo, a regular to the Brancacci Chapel. It was here that he sharpened his skill by copying Masaccio’s works. It was also here that Michelangelo was assaulted by a rival sculptor who didn’t quite agree with Michelangelo’s critique of his work.
We only saw the chapel but my planning also mentioned a convent nearby which is also rich with masterpieces.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

PhotoHunt; Miniature

The glass ball shows the house in miniature. Couldn't quite figure out how to get myself out of the picture and still get the house in it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Santo Spirito

The facade of the Church of Santo Spirito occupies the southern end of the piazza which sees market days on weekends. The austere exterior (18th century) of Santo Spirito is in direct contrast to the interior which is pure Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi initiated its construction in 1444 until his death two years later. The Church houses the masterpieces of Lippi's Madonna and Child, Ghirlandaio, and Cosimo Rosselli's works. Michelangelo's Crucifix was returned to its rightful place in the Church this year after touring Italy. In celebration of its return, the Crucifix was placed in the center of the Basilica instead of its usual sacristy. We were fortunate to see this magnificant, haunting really, masterpiece. I'm not sure if this sculpture was intentionally placed in this spot for the dramatic lighting, or if we were there at a serendipitous time when the filtered sun through the window illuminated the face of Christ and cast a silhouette of the crucifix against the stone wall.

This Church serves as the principle residence of the Augustinian community in Florence. We were treated to a quick look into the courtyard of the abbey where more murals graced its walls. It was only a minute but surely a high point in our trip. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

San Miniatro, Florence

This is one of those spots where there was an overwhelming feeling of spirituality, calmness, solitude, quietness, contemplation. A magical, warm embrace.

After Ty and I spent the morning walking the banks of the Arno, we crossed Ponte alle Grazie which offers a picturesque view of all the bridges spanning the Arno. From there we followed the directions I found on SlowTravel by JeffWhiteaker which were very precise (thank you!). School children were just returning home from school - a treat to see families together - veered down the narrow streets and crossed under the old gate/wall. From there we trekked the pedestrian stairway up to Piazzale Michelangelo. Stunning panoramic views are afforded from this perch although it is very crowded with tourists. We had wanted to time our arrival here at sunset as we heard it was quite a romantic spot for views of Florence, but felt we had already witnessed sunsets while having a cappuccino on the top deck restaurant of La Rinascente, the Florentine department store, and the banks of the Arno.

But away from the busyness of this location, stands the Basilica di San Minatro al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain), a Romanesque structure, which is surrounded by a wall erected originally by Michelangelo and expanded by Cosimo in 1553. On the grounds of the church is a cloister, cemeteries (Carol Collodi, Pinocchio creator is buried here as well as Florentine politicians), chapel, crypt. But the highlight of this trip is the interior of this shrine to St. Minias, possible Florence's first martyr. We were lucky to enter the church to the sounds of the Olivetan monks singing Gregorian chant at late-afternoon vespers. It was a surreal experience that brought both of us to sit on the wooden benches in hushed silence with only the muted song echoing from the chapel behind the main altar.

Like many churches in Florence, this one is filled with frescos. The center of the nave is dominated by the Chapel of the Crucifix by Mihcelozzo in 1448. Panels of frescos decorated by Gaddi can be found here, as well as the work of Rossellino and Baldovinetti and Luca della Robbia. There is a spectacular mosaic of Christ with the Mary and St. Minias which dates back to 1260.

We took Bus 13 back to San Maria Novella as pressure on my toe, which I stubbed prior to our trek, was more pronounced descending the steps. Ty, an advocate of public transportation, didn't seem to mind tho.

Friday, October 8, 2010

PhotoHunt: Stripes

It's great when you happen on photos you thought you lost:-) Have a superlatively long weekend. Off to Connecticut.

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio, probably the most recognized bridge to travelers, spans the Arno at its narrowest point where it is believed that a bridge was first built in Roman times, when the via Cassia crossed the river at this point. The Roman piers were of stone, the superstructure of wood. The bridge first appears in a document of 996. Ponte Vecchio means ‘Old Bridge’ in Italian and its name suits its history. The original wooden bridge was destroyed in a flood in 1333, rebuilt in 1345, and was the only surviving bridge left by the retreating Germans in WWII. Today the stone bridge is a three-arched bridge (originally 5 arches) attributed to Gaddi. In 1565, Giorgio Vasari was commissioned to build the upper part of the bridge, which today is called the Vasariano Corridor. The row of jewelry and leather shops along this corridor is interrupted midway with two panoramic terraces where you are able to see the glorious spans of the Ponte Trinita and Ponte alle Grazie and enjoy the view of Tuscan shores as well as catch a glimpse of San Mianto al monte (next post). Sunset is the most romantic time to tour the bridge, making the scenes that much more enchanting.
The ‘ lucchetti d’amore’ (locks of love) originated when young men had to leave their home towns to do military service. They attached a lock to one of the bridges before their departure as a promise to survive the war and return home. Although many prefer the contemporary version: Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw away the key into the Arno River below, your love will last forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for expressly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity.

“Everything about Florence seems to be colored with a mild violet, like diluted wine.” ~ Henry

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A different slice of life

Meandering through some blogs (and if the grey matter was working this AM, I would have written it down) and this came up. Thought it was worth sharing, but you really don't HAVE to share with us if you would prefer to keep it a whisper to youself. Really, yeah, really ..


1. Tell me one thing you're going to do today that's just for you?

2. Shout out one thing you're really, really good at? - - Don't put yourself down like that! You are bloody great at at least one thing!

3. Write down one thing that you've been procrastinating around that you're going to try to tackle today? Put it in your pocket, so you don't forget about it, please.

4. Whisper how you're going to reward yourself when IT'S over?

5. Spend 10 minutes today thinking quietly about what you want to get out of life that will make your life a tad easier? Something that's do-able, achievable - Not winning the lottery!

POOF, there's some spangled magic dust with your name on it - Watch you don't get it on your clothes!

There now isn't that better?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Florence, Oratoria de San Martino

Most of you know that I researched and sought information and notes from experience (you!) prior to my vacation to Florence a week or so ago. In all the literature there was one obscure mention of a very small chapel. It isn't written up in any travel books that I found but I thought I would share with you this gem of a place. It's called the Oratoria de San Martino, just off the Piazza St. Martino. Below I have copied the directions and a brief history.

"Leaving the Piazza della Signoria by the Via Calzaioli, and taking the third turning to the right, a few steps lead to the obscure little piazza, or piazzetta, which is divided in two by the diminutive Church of San Martino once a chapel belonging to the larger church of the same name. San Martino was built A.D. 986, by an archdeacon of Fiesole, who in 1034 presented it to the monks of the Badia - Abbey - of Florence: it was nevertheless maintained as the parish church until 1479, when the abbot suppressed the cure, and gave half the building to the Guild of Tailors, who had their residence in this quarter. The piazza nearest the Via Calzaioli is still called the "Piazza dei Cimatori," from cimare, to shear cloth. St. Martin, who divided his cloak with the beggar, is a saint equally appropriate to the Guild of Tailors, and to the charitable institution to which all that remains of the old church now belongs.

In 1441, the good Bishop Antonino engaged twelve pious citizens of Florence to form themselves into a society for the secret aid of persons brought to penury by misfortune, who were ashamed to beg, and who were therefore called I Poveri Vergognosi - "the shamefaced poor." The members of this society assumed the title of Procuratori dei Poveri Vergognosi; but they were more generally known as the Buonuomini di San Martino - "the good men of St. Martin." The friars of the Badia granted them permission to make San Martino the depository for contributions towards this charity, and they suspended a box with a slip outside, to receive alms, which still remains there with the old inscription, stating the purpose for which the money was demanded."

I found this tiny chapel to be a very spiritually moving place. For the brief time we had alone in it, I marvelled at the quality and maintenance of the 12 colorful murals (lunettes), painted in the manner of Masaccio. We ate a few meals at a ristorante which was situated across from the Oratoria and witnessed Florentines depositing money and envelopes into the slot.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

PhotoHunt: Letters

Letters unemcumbered letters made up words......

Friday, October 1, 2010

Technology and the Missing Piece

While the concept of Facebook has intrigued me (and I will see the movie) and does provide certain advantages for keeping in touch with others on a momentary basis, I find blogging to be more authentic and a vehicle to allow a thought and discussion in a more conversational manner (mea culpa-haven't been a good blogger of late). I know many find twittering quite productive, but I don't twitter. There just aren't enough hours in a day ..

In the news today is a sad story of a first-year college student who took his life seemingly after having an intimate incident videoed live on a social network by two other students, one his roommate. Is the rampant use of technology somehow detaching the user from his moral and social obligations? In this case, a first-year college student is hardly too young to understand that one's actions have repercussions. Is it the sense of anonymity that technology provides the user to be quick with a thoughtless comment or film intimate events without the filter of judgment?

Working in a college setting, I know well that many students view the campus as an isolated cocoon. But we are all creatures of a society and hopefully have the values instilled us from many resources to care about fellow human beings. Technology has provided a tool to us to increase our knowledge, keep us in contact with others around the world, guided us and entertained us, but it is my hope that along with these benefits come a sense of obligation from the user.

Thanks, I feel better now ..