Wednesday, March 30, 2005

First signs of Spring


First signs of Spring
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Seagull Sunset


Seagull Sunset
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Long Island sunset


Long Island sunset
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Montauk Point Lighthouse


Montauk Point Lighthouse
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Mt. Sinai, on the North Shore of Long Island, New York

It’s 8 in the morning and Ginnie’s house is quiet. She and her husband Keith have left for work. I’m doing laundry and drinking a cup of coffee in their kitchen, which has all these windows. Their house is surrounded by trees on all sides – it is a very wooded area and squirrels are playing around the bird feeders. Yesterday when we arrived there were many different colored birds at the feeders but this morning it is quiet and only the squirrels are scampering around. It rained all day yesterday. It’s raining this morning. It was raining when we woke up in my brother’s apartment in the city and raining as we packed up the car and drove to Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, for a too-brief visit with my friend Elizabeth (maid-of-honor at my wedding). On the way to The Island, we stopped to have lunch with her. She lives in a section of Brooklyn called Park Slope, which has undergone a renaissance in recent years with the beautiful old brownstones being restored and renovated. The Brooklyn Museum is in this area just across the bridge from Manhattan and it has become quite a fashionable area to live in. She promises to visit in Italy and we going to hold her to it.

The drive out here was a stressful one, as the rain was really quite heavy the entire trip. We were advised by everyone to leave the city early and not get into rush hour traffic which I am told can be a real nightmare, especially in bad weather. We listened to that advice and arrived here around 4 in the afternoon, unscathed but pretty tired. Ginnie and Keith fixed us dinner and we sat and talked about our plans and their lives and arranged to have dinner with her parents and Bob’s Aunt Gloria tonight. I’m trying to reach the other friends and family I’d like to see in these next two days and just trying to relax and take it easy. We hope to drive out to Montauk Point also if time permits – that’s the furthest point on the Island and a trip we made a few times before we were married, in Bob’s little Austin Healey Sprite that I was so fond of! We’ll pass Wildwood State Park where he vacationed as a kid, and Sag Harbor where my family spent a few wonderful weeks in summers when I was small. Lots of memories are there in these far reaches of Long Island.

These past few weeks have gone by very quickly. I am a bit overwhelmed by all that we have seen and done and have not quite digested it all yet. I feel very much in a gray zone at the moment, between the leaving (lasciare – to leave, in Italian) and the going (partire – to go) literally standing on the edge of the cliff, peering over the edge, toes dangling. The great adventure lies beyond. One hand reaching back, the other forward. I had this quote by Mark Twain up on the board in front of my desk at P.S. Studios – “Twenty years from now you will not regret the things you did, but you will regret the ones you didn’t do. So let go the bow lines, sail away from the safe harbor, Dream, discover, explore.” Those were the words that have motivated us. We’ve left the safe harbor. We are dreaming. We are ready to discover and explore – excited beyond belief and scared to death! We are really doing this. Isn’t it wonderful? Are we insane?

Keep in touch,
Rosemary & Bob

Sunday, March 27, 2005

More Easter Parade finery


Dapper Guy with Bird Hat Lady at Easter Parade


On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue


In their Easter Bonnets, with all the frills


Time Warner building, New York City


Easter Weekend

Today was pretty fun. We decided to go to see the Easter Parade. We weren’t really sure what to expect from it except for that part of the song that says “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…” and a reference to Fifth Avenue. In days gone by everyone in New York showed up dressed in their Easter finery and paraded up an down Fifth Avenue. Today, people still show up and parade up and down, but most people are dressed in the same stuff they wear every day. But then there are the folks who really honor the tradition and do it up in style. Those are the fun ones to watch and all the photographers, just like in the song, are snapping photos of them, and we were no exception. It’s quite a sight to see New Yorkers actually strolling when the rest of the time they are rushing around like mad. It’s quite a nice tradition we thought and completely non-commercial which I loved, especially in this city. There were absolutely no logos or corporate sponsors. We weren’t even sure there was any news coverage until we saw it on the evening news.

After the parade, we got some half-price tickets for “The Glass Menagerie” starring Jessica Lange and Christian Slater at the Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, grabbed some lunch and piled into the intimate theater space to be totally engrossed by Tennessee Wiliams’s play for the next two and half hours.

Easter dinner consisted of a shared pizza, followed by a chocolate Easter bunny and jellybeans, washed down with a glass of Pinot Grigio in my brother’s apartment. Not your typical Easter dinner, but yummy and fun.

Yesterday, we did what so many New Yorkers do who live in the city and have relatives out on “The Island” (which is the way Long Island is referred to by the locals). We had to pick up some Euros and Euro Travelers Checks – the last little detail to take care of before we leave for Italy. We ran into a little snafu at the AAA office where we were expecting to be able to purchase the Travelers Checks without a hitch since we are AAA members. We learned that AAA is more like a franchise and they aren’t part of a big national family but each state is its own entity. They wouldn’t accept our check or American Express so we had to go and withdraw cash from our bank (Bank of America) to pay for the Travelers Checks. So, a bit more back and forth across the city – this time just a matter of blocks. All of this took longer than we expected, and so in order to catch the 12:06 train to LI we took a cab to Penn Station and made it without a moment to spare! The train ride from the city to Bellmore where my Uncle and cousins live is around an hour. These trains are pretty comfy so it’s not a bad ride at all. We had a lovely day with my family, lots of laughter and good conversation, not to mention the delicious turkey dinner Celeste and her family cooked for us. Thanks to everyone for a really wonderful day.

I also have a friend from grade school, Pat Farr, who lives in the city (her daughter, Diane Farr, is an actress who plays the female firefighter on the TV show “Rescue Me” with Dennis Leary). She has an apartment close to my brother’s and so I called her hoping we could get together before we had to leave for The Island. As it turned out she was out there too visiting and we planned to meet before the family dinner for coffee. The fun part (in addition to seeing her) was that she brought along another old friend of mine – Joey Santa Maria, the boy I went to my senior prom with! He and I were just good friends at the time and since I didn’t have a boyfriend to go with, he agreed to be my date. He was generous and gracious and we had a fun time. I hadn’t seen him since we were both teenagers so it was really terrific to see him again after all these years. We exchanged emails and promised to keep in touch.

Tomorrow we will leave the Big Apple and head out to The Island to stay with Bob’s cousin Ginnie. There are several friends and family members who live out there that we are planning to visit. It should be a whirlwind next few days.

Just 5 days to departure.
Rosemary & Bob

Friday, March 25, 2005

One week to go! Government Bureaucracy notwithstanding.

Here we are, in New York City. One week from today we will be on a flight for Italy and our life’s great adventure begins. We spent today running back and forth between the City Clerk’s office, the County Clerk’s office, the Secretary of State and my brother’s apartment. We got up and got an early start, afraid since it was Good Friday that perhaps offices might close early and go home. So by 9am we were standing in line at the City Clerk’s office trying to get our birth certificates certified so that we could obtain the “apostile”, the final certification that trumps all the others. The first thing we were told was that our birth certificates were received too long ago (August 2004) and that in order to get the Clerk’s certification we would have to submit a new request for a birth certificate and that would take two to three weeks to get unless we could show our airline tickets and prove that there was some urgency to our request. Since we are planning on leaving a week from today, we certainly felt a sense of urgency! Fortunately, the tickets were in our luggage in my brother’s apartment, but unfortunately that was across town! We jumped in a cab and zoomed back to the apartment, gathered everything we thought pertinent and hailed another cab to take us back. By this time it was almost 11:30 and the line was much longer than it had been earlier in the day. We filled out the necessary papers and paid the necessary fees and then decided we should go and see if we could have some luck with the Marriage License (which of course was at a different government office). Here we met with a modicum of success and had the certificate stamped and certified by the County Clerk (only step one in this process). We then had to proceed to the State Notary to have the signatures notarized and certified. We decided to see if she could also do this for the Birth Certificates we had received previously and miracle of miracles, she didn’t bat an eye and notarized everything – the Marriage License along with both of our Birth Certificates! We were thrilled! But not done yet. We still had to go back to the Secretary of State’s office where they looked everything over and applied the elusive “apostile” to each of our papers and sent us happily on our way. It was then 3pm! Lunch consisted of a salted pretzel from a street vendor and a black and white cookie.
By this time we were totally exhausted and came back to the apartment and crashed for two hours.

Tonight we celebrated at a little seafood restaurant close to the apartment, stopped and picked up a few groceries at the market, along with a bunch of flowers, and are enjoying the opportunity to live like locals. New York is quite a place. The high-rises, the history, the beautiful and majestic old buildings, the ornate and the modern, all the great little restaurants and shops, the theatres and museums, it just keeps going. The people and the cars in constant motion, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy. This morning we were right in the thick of it, rushing along with everyone else, stressed and harried. But tonight we have slowed it way down. We’re opening a bottle of wine and taking it easy. Tomorrow we’ll be getting on the Long Island Railroad and heading out to Bellmore for the day to have dinner with my Uncle Fred and cousins Celeste and Clo and their families. It should be a nice day.

Sunday we may try to catch the Easter Parade on 5th Avenue. Won’t that be cool?

Goodnight all,
Rosemary & Bob

US Capitol on a rainy day


At the National Gallery for Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit


Bob and Bill in DC with umbrellas


With the Easter Bunny in Maryland


Annapolis, Maryland State Capitol


Thursday, March 24, 2005

New York City

Tonight we are sitting in my brother’s apartment in New York, in Manhattan. The shutters are open and the city lights sparkle outside. Traffic never stops in this city that doesn’t sleep and tonight is no exception. My brother’s studio apartment is on 41st Street and 1st Avenue, in an area called Tudor City, just down the street from the United Nations, on the 13th floor. These are a group of wonderful old apartment buildings and the lobby has these lovely tapestries on the walls and interesting architectural details. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are nearby. 42nd Street is blocks away. The night is cool and clear, with a full moon overhead and no sign of inclement weather. We walked over to this little Chinese take out place and got some dinner to go. You can get something to eat any time day or night here and even have it delivered to your door but we needed to stretch our legs and walk a bit so we decided to just go and get it and bring it back so we could relax and get comfy.

We had intended to stay with my cousin in Pennsylvania but a change of plans brought us into Manhattan instead. Since we have to do some business in the city before we leave, this actually works out OK for us. It’s a bureaucratic requirement of the Italian government that we have official, long-form, certified birth certificates and marriage license with the great seal of the City of New York (where we were both born and married). In addition to this, we have to take said certificates and license to the city for them to certify that the certification is valid and then to the New York Secretary of State for what is called an “apostile” – which certifies the certification of the certification on the certificates! It sounds crazy I know, but this is what we will be doing tomorrow and we are hoping it happens quickly and we can have some fun walking around the city too.

We spent the last two days with our friends in DC, actually just outside, in the city of Ashburn, Virginia. They have a very spacious and lovely townhome and were gracious enough to let us stay for a few days. We went into DC on Wednesday with our friend Bill (unfortunately Lynn had to go to work!) and went to the National Gallery where they had an exhibition of paintings, posters and sketches by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and his contemporaries. It was quite extensive and incredible and we were reminded again of why we want to come back to this area – these galleries and museums with their world-class exhibits will be within our reach from Delaware and that is very exciting. The weather could have been better however, it rained and the wind blew the entire day making it difficult to do too much wandering around our Capitol but enough to appreciate its beauty and grandeur. The “Castle” of the Smithsonian was shrouded in fog and mist, the Capitol barely visible across the Mall. But we have always enjoyed a rainy day and this was no exception. Wet shoes and all, it was a delightful day.

Lynn’s husband Bill has the same corny sense of humor as I do so we had a lot of fun. Their daughter Avery was a delight and is a talented young artist. She gave Bob quite a verbal run for his money – the two of them sharing sarcastic quips and having a great time. We are looking forward to her emails and thank her for the use of her bedroom.

Our itinerary for the day was to get from Washington, DC this morning to coffee and muffins with my cousin Rose and husband Walter who live in Leisure World in Maryland, on to lunch with her sister Celeste and husband Mike in Newark, Delaware and on to New York City by day’s end. It was a very direct route from point A to B to C to D and it was wonderful to visit with these lovely ladies who are first cousins of my mother and catch up a bit on each other’s lives. More goodbyes, more promises to keep in touch and another day closer to our departure date – now only one week away. It still feels like a dream and I’m sure won’t be real until we are sitting in that mini-apartamento looking at each other, wondering what to do next! Can’t wait!

Buona notte,
Rosemary & Bob

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Tonight we are in a motel in Rehoboth Beach. This is a summer place with a wide boardwalk that in season is filled with vacationers. Even now, however, there were people at the beach, bundled up but still enjoying themselves, walking on the sand, flying kites, standing and watching the surf and the seagulls, and we were among them today. We said goodbye to Chris this morning. We had breakfast with him before he had to go off to work and then we packed up the car and headed east again. It was a wonderful visit with him in Richmond. On Saturday we had lunch with Kim and her kids and played all afternoon and then again on Sunday, with Kyla. She has grown so much since Christmas, it’s unbelievable. She is indeed crawling all over the place and lifts herself up on anything that is the right height and stands there – so proud of herself. She will walk across the room if you hold her hands and I’m sure she will be doing it on her own before too long. She mimics things you do, making the cutest faces. We are including photos so that you can all see her. The difficult thing now is knowing we won’t see her for two years. Chris promised us he will keep sending photos and movies so we expect to follow her growth as much as we can from Italy.

Today we arrived in Rehoboth in the early afternoon, got settled into our hotel and took a long nap! We had walked on the beach for quite a while when we first got here and I guess that and the drive wore us out. Afterwards we drove up to Milford where our “Villa” is and visited with Mike and Dani, the lovely young couple who is renting the place. It was so nice to see them, they are taking such good care of our home, it makes it easy to leave, knowing it is in such good hands. We had dinner in Lewes at a little restaurant on the water, walked on the beach again and now here we are back in the room, catching up on email and writing the blog.

Tomorrow we will leave the beach here and spend a few days with our friends Lynn & Bill and their daughter Avery near DC. We’d like to see our country’s capitol now, kind of top off the Farewell Tour of the U.S. by seeing the White House, maybe go to the National Gallery, and just walk around enjoying the sites. This has been an amazing journey. It’s hard to believe we are in the final stretch now. By Thursday we will be at my cousin Clo’s in Pennsylvania through Easter, then to Long Island with Bob’s cousin Ginnie. From there we hope to visit some Long Island friends and family in the area. On Thursday the 31st, we are meeting my brother Fred and sister-in-law Elaine and a group of cousins in the city for “The Last Supper” and on Friday, April 1 we leave for Rome. Quite an amazing journey indeed.

Stay tuned for more adventures.
Ciao,
Rosemary & Bob

Friday, March 18, 2005

Richmond, Virginia, Friday, March 18, 2005

It’s 9am and Bob is still asleep. This is the latest I have slept on this trip. We’re in Richmond now for a few days and today is going to be a resting and relaxing one. We got into town yesterday around 5, having stopped in Charlottesville earlier in the day and toured its historic downtown, enjoying the pedestrian-only shopping area and historic mansions that surround it. We spent some time in Virginia years ago and drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, visited Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello and saw the Cumberland Gap and the Appalachian Trail. But we had not spent any time in the city of Charlottesville.

We said a tearful goodbye to Jessica and Nick on Tuesday morning, March 15th, with Indianapolis as our destination for that night. Since we decided to by-pass Chicago, traffic was light and we made it there by around 2pm. What a delightful little city! I had designed a brochure for a client that included photographs of the city and I was interested in seeing it first hand. What I read about Indianapolis in my guidebooks also piqued my interest. The city had been considered one of the dirtiest cities in the nation in the 60s but really cleaned up its act and now ranks as one of the cleanest. Talking with some of the locals, I learned that it is also among the safest with the lowest crime rate for a city its size. Bob and I had so much fun taking photos of the old buildings and the monuments and architectural details. I especially enjoyed the ArtsGarden, which is this wonderful glass-domed structure that sits over a major intersection like a bridge and is owned and operated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The arts are flourishing in this city and you can find out all about what’s going on there, as well as enjoy music concerts and see art exhibits. Very creative use of this area above the street and a lovely little jewel for the city. Again, we found the historic downtown area being appreciated and renovation efforts are everywhere apparent. Lovely old buildings sit side by side with modern ones. Old warehouses are being turned into lofts, and shops and cafes are opening up, creating fun little areas to walk, shop and eat. We had dinner in a place called “The Scholars Inn” and sat by a window, watching the sun set over the city. It was a very satisfying visit, although too brief.

We had become quite the pit-crew every day in my Jetta, packing and unpacking with precision and knowing exactly where everything was stashed in the front and back seats and in the door pockets. But since we left our car with Jessica, and picked up the rental, we are having to re-learn the whole system. It’s not as MUCH bigger as we had hoped and in many ways the Jetta, small as it was, had pretty good storage areas. But it’s fine and we are checking off another milestone on the path of this great adventure. We went from being two people with jobs, a house, two cars and many responsibilities for taking care of all of those things to two travelers with no house, no jobs and no cars (OK, technically, we do still have a car at our disposal!). Footloose and Fancy Free. In so many ways I feel as though I am jumping off a cliff leaving everything safe and familiar behind, but below lies excitement and adventure and my eyes are open as I take this plunge into our next life.

Leaving Indianapolis, we drove though Indiana farmland and across Ohio, into West Virginia. We had originally planned to stay in Charleston, West Virginia Wednesday night but all the hotels were filled with high school basketball fans. There was a state championship tournament taking place and every available bed in the city was filled! (Those of you who know us will appreciate the fact that we did not have a clue that this was happening or that it would be as big a deal as it was.) We ended up in a town called Beckley but toured around Charleston in the afternoon. We have been making a point of visiting the state capitals if our journey took us through them and Charleston was one that seemed especially interesting since it boasted a 23 karat gold leaf dome we thought would be cool to see. Unfortunately it is undergoing restoration and was completely covered with a white cloth (Bob and I have this thing we say – like when we were in Italy and there was scaffolding everywhere that is a take off on a line in the movie “Young Frankenstein” where Gene Wilder tries to kiss Madeline Kahn and she stops him from messing up her dress saying “Taffeta, Darling.” We have changed that to “Scaffolding, Darling” and it makes us laugh at how often it happens that things we want to see are covered due to restoration and so we are unable to see them in all their glory. At any rate, we found Charleston to be mostly lovely, with beautiful 19th century homes and buildings along the banks of the Kanawha River.

Outside Beckley we took a little detour through some incredible scenery in the Appalachian Mountains to the New River Gorge National River and climbed 220 feet down a beautifully constructed natural wood staircase to view the Gorge and the bridge that spans the gap. The New River is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America, originating more than 65 million years ago and, unlike most of the world’s rivers, it flows northward. It’s also known for its white-water rapids, which are said to rival those of the Colorado River. A light snow fell as we drove through the Appalachians near the Blue Ridge Parkway (closed now for winter) and the dusting on the trees created breathtaking views at every turn of the road. The state of Virginia has an air of refinement about it. The classy neighbor of West Virginia, which seems more earthy and rustic. It always amazes us how different one state is from the next with its own personality and terrain that separates it. In the case of Virginia and West Virginia, it is the majestic mountains of Appalachia that act as a natural divider. Small homesteads (from the obviously wealthy to the desperately poor) lead up to and in places, into, the mountains. On the other side are the elaborate estates of Virginia’s gentlemen farmers – little fences meander up and around rolling hills, horses graze lazily, everything appears bucolic and well tended.

Last night we met Chris after work and went to a very fun restaurant, “The Melting Pot” where we shared a four-course extravaganza called “The Big Night Out.” This is a fondue restaurant where they serve you the first course of melted cheese with fruit and bread and veggies to dip in followed by salad and then the main course – a plate of beef, chicken, lobster and shrimp that you cook in the fondue pot, followed by a chocolate fondue and all the goodies that go along with that. Truly yummy and very, very fun. We are looking forward to a relaxing few days here in Richmond, and especially to seeing our little granddaughter Kyla and playing with her. We were here for Christmas before she was actually crawling. Now Chris tells us she is zooming all over the place and is just adorable (of course he is biased, but we are sure we will agree!). He is obviously a very proud Daddy and having a great time.

I hope I haven’t bored you with all my tales here. It’s fun for us to recount the story of our days. It helps us to remember what we did and we enjoy sharing it with all of you.

We hope also that you will remember to keep checking this site and keep us posted as well with what is going on in your lives. We miss you all very much. It’s easy to post comments on this site also, by clicking “comments” and “posting” them.

We are more than half way through the “Farewell Tour” now. Next week we will be in Pennsylvania and New York. And then the rest of this journey begins.

Take care,
Rosemary & Bob

Western Appalachians with snow


West Virginia State Capitol (scaffolding, darling)


Indianapolis sunset


Indianapolis sunset
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

ArtsGarden, Indianapolis


ArtsGarden, Indianapolis
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

St Patrick's Day parade 3.12.05


Monday, March 14, 2005

March 14,2005 Madison to Milwaukee WI

Monday, 3.14.05

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

It’s now Monday morning around 8am. Nick has just left for work, coffee is brewing in the kitchen, Jessica and Bob are still asleep and I have a few moments to myself so I thought I would get up and write a few lines, to catch us up. Friday was another cold but beautiful day and we spent it exploring the city with Jessica and visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum. This has always been a favorite place of ours especially since they completed the spectacular new entrance designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The museum sits on the shore of Lake Michigan and juts out like the bow of a ship with a sunshade that when open resembles the tail fins of a giant white whale. It is simply breathtaking from the inside, it’s cavernous roof, abstract shapes and view of the lake are breathtaking to say the least. Currently there is an exhibit of all of Degas’ bronzes, many of them discovered after his death, which are lovely and include the Little Dancer in all her glory, tutu and all.

Downtown Milwaukee, as I have said is undergoing a resurgence with many of the old warehouses being converted into lofts and trendy little restaurants and shops popping up all over. An area called “The Third Ward” is filled with old brick buildings and a charming streetscape and it’s just fun to walk around and window shop. Milwaukee is a town that has always appreciated and supported the arts and there many small, fine quality theatre groups here which have provided almost continual work for our daughter as she pursues her career as a stage manager. She arranged for us to see a new play “Boswell’s Dreams” written by a local playwright and performed by the Renaissance Theatre, one of theatres Jessica works with. It’s so gratifying to meet the directors and actors and hear nothing but glowing remarks about your daughter! She’s quite an incredible young woman and we are as proud of her as we can be. This particular play tells the story of a young Scotsman who goes to London and meets and befriends the very famous Samuel Johnson, the author who, in the 1700s wrote the famous Dictionary of the English Language. It’s a fascinating story of the way in which these two men’s lives became intertwined and is beautifully performed by this very talented group of actors. The performances we have seen in Milwaukee rival anything New York has to offer and the City has an excellent reputation for its high quality work.

Earlier in the day we went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Milwaukee! Quite a contrast to the intellectually stimulating, literate world of the theatre, the parade was a street affair filled with clowns, Irish step-dancers and bagpipes. We were delighted to be able to view it from the comfort of our street corner in the sun, wearing so many layers of clothing (the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees) that the only thing visible were our faces – and those were partially covered with our hats! A hot cup of coffee warmed our hands and kept us happy while the parade passed us by and then we rushed off to the warmth of our car and home to a bowl of soup and a sandwich!

Yesterday was a quiet Sunday. Nick prepared a delicious breakfast and papers were read, coffee consumed and a leisurely day followed. We took a short drive around the city and a walk to the lake (their apartment is in the Bay View area of Milwaukee literally blocks away from Lake Michigan) and cooked and ate together in this sweet little apartment on the second floor with windows all around overlooking tree-lined streets in all directions.

Today is wide open. It looks calm and cold outside, with overcast skies. We have no plans except to be together. Perhaps do the Miller Brewing Company tour or the Milwaukee Historical museum. There is laundry to do and bags to re-pack for our departure in the morning. Jessica is buying our Jetta and a larger rental car will take us on our journey east. We have altered our trip plans and decided not to go through St. Louis with its arch after all. On further study, it would take us several hundred miles out of our way and add many more hours to the trip. Richmond is our next stop-over destination and we want to limit our driving hours per day to around 5 so that we can see a little bit of these Midwestern cities and not merely pass through them. So it will be Indianapolis, Indiana, Charleston, West Virginia and then Richmond by Thursday night we hope.

Everyone is rising now so my quiet time is over. I said I would make blueberry pancakes so I guess I’ll close for now. Thanks for reading and caring about us.

Ciao!
Rosemary & Bob

3 cold St. Pat's watchers


Rosemary & Jessica at Mke Museum


MKE art museum


MKE art museum
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Milwaukee in snow


Milwaukee1
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Madison Sunset


Madison Sunset
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Friday, March 11, 2005

March 11, 2005 The Midwest

Friday, 3.11.05

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

We arrived in Milwaukee yesterday around noon - earlier than we had expected because we encountered a bit of weather in Madison. We had planned to spend yesterday morning exploring the lovely city of Madison, which sits on an isthmus between two lakes and is home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the State Capitol. We read that the view from the Convention Center is really beautiful and we wanted to explore the historic downtown.

We had really pushed it on Tuesday, driving all the way across South Dakota and into Minnesota and by that day’s end were quite exhausted. The Badlands in South Dakota are not to be missed if you are in that area. We stopped at every viewpoint along the way and were awed by the changing colors and shapes that make up this landscape that at one time (billions and skillions of years ago) was a jungle. The mounds and hills and craggy rock formations are a layered landscape with bands of reds and golds in places that appear to have been painted on and set down amid the grays and tans. Again, as far as the eye can see in all directions. It was quite cold there and we found ourselves alone with the landscape, except for herds of deer and hawks circling. Breathtaking.

Arriving at the first hotel we could find around 8pm (not the best place so far!) we fell into bed exhausted and promised that we would not drive so many hours in one day again. Somewhere along the way we passed into a different time zone and it was suddenly an hour later to boot!

Our destination for Wednesday was Madison. We got up early Wednesday morning and drove across the state of Wisconsin, which is primarily farmland. After the craggy and majestic west and the rolling grasslands of South Dakota, the farmlands were a change for us. It is quite a sight to see these farms, one after the other, sometimes several clustered fairly close to each other, other huge farms with giant silos – several in some cases spread out across the countryside. We speculated at how the colors would be different in summer when crops sway in the breeze and the trees are green. But, we completely enjoyed the colors of winter – the lacy trees, golden and brownish fields, dark of the barks and grey and rolling clouds above it all. It was very dramatic and beautiful. We contemplated the reasons why farmers paint their barns red and why they all plant trees in a cluster around their homes, why in some cases the farm sits up close to the road and others are set far back. Horses grazed in fields and cows languished in the afternoon sun. Bucolic was the word that kept coming to mind.

Going from Minnesota to Wisconsin you cross the Mighty Mississippi (the day before we had seen the Mighty Missouri – I guess they like the word “mighty” in these parts). We had the radio on a classical station and just as we went over a bridge across the Mississippi the music reached a crescendo in the most dramatic way and we just had to laugh, it was so fitting for this river with such a big reputation! There is a scenic drive you can take from the pretty city of Winona south to La Cross, Wisconsin that hugs the banks of the river. We especially liked the city of La Cross. Huge Victorian homes surround the downtown and a river walk takes you up close and personal to the river (it was freezing cold there – parts of the river are still frozen over even though it is mid-March!). We toured the city in the warmth of our car, jumping out to photograph interesting details and then proceeded on our way.

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Madison. We drove around the city enjoying the fact that there were many cute restaurants and shops and historic building and neighborhoods to explore, checked into our hotel and relaxed for a while before heading out to find a nice restaurant where we could have a leisurely meal. We were not disappointed. We found this wonderful place called “Fyfe’s Corner Bistro” a short way from the hotel. It is in an historic warehouse building and the d├ęcor was simple and lovely. Brick floors and lots of windows – as accents in the restaurant and as dividers between areas, they had used the old doors from the offices in the warehouse and they created a simple and attractive accent. The service was impeccable and the food delicious and beautifully presented. We drank a glass of wine and shared a piece of key lime pie (to die for). Afterwards we drove around the city in the dark enjoying the lights and looking forward to the next day.

Unfortunately, we awoke to a blanket of snow with more coming down so we decided we better get on the road and head for Milwaukee which wasn’t that far away and get there before it got any worse. Not a bad thing really because we were able to see Jessica earlier, see the theatre she’s working in and have a nice lunch in Milwaukee. (I probably haven’t mentioned it, but lunch on the road up to now has been a VERY simple affair). We have always enjoyed Milwaukee’s cute downtown and the lovely old buildings they are beginning to turn into lofts. It’s so great to see these old cities revitalizing their downtown areas. (Makes me miss Phoenix!)

I fixed dinner last night and we just watched TV and relaxed here with our lovely daughter and her sweet husband. We will be here until Monday or Tuesday and plan to make the best of it. The weather today is cold but sunny with blue skies all around so it should be a good day to explore.

Thinking of all of you!
Keep in touch,
Rosemary & Bob

p.s. see below to add your comments – just click on “comments” and “post” your message. It will be fun for us to know what you think.

Buffalo Bob in Cheyenne Capitol Building


LaCrossRiverwalk


LaCrossRiverwalk
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

LaCrossVictorians


LaCrossVictorians
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Hiawatha


Hiawatha
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Nordic Guy


Nordic Guy
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Badlands


Badlands
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Sam&Maddie


Sam&Maddie
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Denver & Mount Rushmore

3.07.05

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. Day 8

It has been a wonderful few days. When I wrote last we were looking forward to seeing Suzanne and the girls. The drive from Grand Junction to Denver was incredible. Driving through the Rocky Mountains, with snow capped peaks, rocky streams and pine-covered mountains left us breathless. And since I was doing the driving I’m certain Bob’s breathlessness had as much to do with my driving around the curvy mountain roads as with the scenery! I forgot to mention the reason why I was driving. On Monday, (yes, the first day out) when we were climbing around Zion, Bob slipped on a mossy spot and went down on his elbow, saving his camera from sure destruction but jamming his shoulder. Part of our journey on Tuesday included a quick trip to the Emergency Room in St. George, Utah (x-rays showed nothing broken thank goodness) and a fashionable arm sling. He has promised me he will not climb around like a mountain goat (or a 16 yr old!) and will be more careful. It’s healing pretty well now but I made him ride shotgun and took over the wheel so he could rest his arm. All seems well now, so not to worry.

On Thursday we stopped in Vail and watched skiers gracefully make their way down the mountain and looked in the little shops, enjoying a nice lunch and a little break from the driving. We arrived amid much fanfare in Denver (and a sign on the door that said “Italy or Bust” that my sister and her girls had created to welcome us. They even added a few words in Italian about our “avventures”. We had a wonderful time together. On Saturday we were so lucky to be able to watch the dress rehearsal of Sam’s play “The Three Princes” a hilarious parody of the prince/princess fairytales, given a fresh and very funny twist. Sam is fabulous as the very “bored” Rapunzel and the smart-alecky Cinderella. Her eyes light up on stage. Her face is full of subtle expression. Of course we are biased but we think she has a career on the stage ahead of her!

Maddie is amazing as well. Her imagination knows no bounds and she is forever thinking up things to do and entertaining us with her knowledge of Native American Indians and calculating mathematical problems!

We spent all day Sunday at the Denver Zoo, just holding hands and strolling the beautiful grounds. The time spent together went much too fast and I found myself once again having to say goodbye with many hugs and kisses and promises to write and planning for them to come and visit us in Italy which I will very much look forward to.

Today was a long driving day. Mt. Rushmore was our destination but we also made a stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming to see the state capital (surprisingly there are no metal detectors or any type of visible security and we were able to climb all around the building and take photos and be tourists). We shared a delicious hamburger in a little local joint in a town called Lusk (the best burger in town according to the guy at the Shell station, so we had to try it). In Custer, S.D., is the Crazy Horse monument. This is one enormous sculpture being carved out of a mountain in the Black Hills. They say once it is finished it will be the largest sculpture in the world. At the moment, the only thing complete is the face. Because it is winter still in this part of the country, we were not able to get any closer than the visitor center and it was so cold, it was just as well! We arrived at Mount Rushmore around 5 pm and wandered around enjoying the various viewpoints. I find myself a bit torn by these giant sculptures carved out of mountains. Part of me thinks they should just leave these natural formations alone – they are beautiful enough without man’s interference. And yet, the skill and artistry of creating art in nature are to be admired and certainly do inspire awe. What doesn’t inspire awe are all the really awful reproductions of these four faces on every imagination surface, from magnets to key chains to snow globes, t-shirts, thimbles and lord knows what else. It never ceases to amaze me what people will buy! But I digress. Mount Rushmore was beautiful and because we were there at dusk, there weren’t very many people there and we wandered around virtually alone and it was lovely.

Tomorrow we plan on being awed once again by Mother Nature in the form of the area called “The Badlands”. Should be amazing. Bob will be sharing the driving with me so all the heart stopping should be caused by the scenery! Our plan is to arrive in Milwaukee by Thursday. We’ll keep you posted.

Ciao!
Rosemary & Bob

p.s. still working on adding photos.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Rosemary-Bob


Rosemary-Bob
Originally uploaded by livecheapmakeart.

I am trying to figure out how to add photos????

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Day Three

3.02.05

Grand Junction, Colorado

It’s Wednesday now. Day 3 of the “Farewell Tour of the U.S.A.” and what a day or couple of days it has been. I wanted to say a bit more about Zion before I go further. We had no idea what to expect from this national park except for some photos we had seen and the bit we had read in our Eyewitness Guide and the AAA Guide Books. To say that the park has an intimate feeling in the midst of towering peaks seems an unlikely description. However, driving through and then stopping at points along the park, you are so close to the rock formations that shoot straight up to the sky and surround you in a swirl of texture and color that you feel completely enveloped by the park and embraced by its beauty.

Leaving Zion you drive through a section of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, an enormous and diverse area of southern Utah. Bob and I took turns saying “Oh my god!” and trying to come up with adequate language to describe what we were seeing. Cliffs of crimson, rust, sienna and gold, the sheer force of nature visible around every turn, changing as fast as the light that worked its way across the rocky faces – some soft and gentle shapes, like mounds, others jagged and abstract as a cubist painting.

Our next stop was Bryce Canyon. We arrived in the late afternoon and again were overwhelmed by the site of this national park. You drive through Bryce and are surrounded on all sides by dense forests of evergreen – in this case, with a blanket of snow all around. On the canyon side there are pull outs where you can catch glimpses of the red rock canyon and the formations they call “hoodoos” – pillars of rock left by erosion on the canyon floor. It reminded me of the feeling of seeing stalactites and stalagmites in caves but these were huge and rust colored and reaching up to fantastic heights. These deep rust colored spires were dusted with snow creating quite a contrast against the blue of the sky. The process of erosion continues before your very eyes – indeed, we witnessed the rusty residue of spires turning the snow below a reddish brown. We watched the sun set over the canyon from Inspiration Point and I froze my fingers off trying to capture the moment in my watercolor journal.

This morning we circled back to Inspiration Point for one last look and left Bryce, hoping to reach Grand Junction by end of day. The route we chose took us through Capital Reef National Park. Again, we were blown away by the diversity of the landscape as we passed ridges and cliffs and rock formations, each unique and different from anything we had seen up to that point.

We plan on arriving in Denver tomorrow by dinner and look forward to spending a few days with my sister Suzanne and my nieces Sam & Maddie. We’ll be ready for a few days break from the car but mostly can’t wait to see them and spend time with them before we leave for Italy.

Now I’ll say buona notte dear friends and family.
Thanks for caring about us.

Rosemary & Bob

We are on our way

2/28/05

On the road. After all the months of planning and packing we are finally on the road. Right after Christmas we put our house on the market and within days had a buyer. The visas finally arrived the end of January after 3 months of biting our nails (not to mention Bob’s trip to the Italian Consulate in L.A. to prove to them that we had enough resources to live in Italy). We spent all of our free time going through our things, getting leaner – not physically (I wish!) but in terms of our “stuff” – we got rid of so many unnecessary things. We held 2 garage sales and gave truckloads away to charity. Now only the things we really want or need when we return are away in storage. That was quite an experience. Watching all of our things being put into giant wooden crates and knowing we won’t see them for another two years. Very strange. Not to mention the sadness of leaving our little house and saying goodbye to our dear, dear friends in Phoenix. As excited as I am to have this great adventure, I have shed many tears over all that I have to leave behind. But, living is Italy has been our great dream and now is the time we have chosen to have this experience. Life is too short to wait any longer.

We moved out of our house on February 14 and moved into our friends’ John & Sally’s little “casita” and spent the last two weeks there. I worked until February 18 so the brunt of all the packing and moving and planning landed squarely on Bob’s shoulders. There have been lists and sublists and more lists just in trying to make sure all the loose ends were tied, since we were not planning on coming back to Phoenix. We are using our daughter Jessica’s address as our forwarding address since we don’t know how long we will stay in Perugia and where we will go from there. I vacillate between thinking that we are the most brave and daring people, to thinking that we are completely insane!

In our last week, we had to play tourist and ran around town with our cameras, snapping photos of the downtown “Copper Square” and going to all of our favorite places, including the Botanical Garden and up to Carefree and El Pedregal. We shared a dinner with our friends Jeff & Janet at Rustler’s Roost, just to enjoy the beautiful view of Phoenix and the twinkling city lights after dark.

We had a lovely time with John & Sally and offer them more love and gratitude than can fit on this page. They helped make our transition easier and the time we spent with them, relaxing on their deck and enjoying good conversations and delicious glasses of wine will be among our most treasured memories.

Too many goodbyes. We filled our last weeks with dinners, breakfasts, quick visits and lots of hugs with all of our wonderful and dear friends. I wish I could have spent time with everyone but unfortunately, in the end we simply ran out of time and hope those of who we didn’t get to give “one more hug” understand and forgive us. Our promise is that we will come back to Phoenix for visits and hope all of our friends will visit us, either in Italy or in Delaware upon our return. It’s been quite a great run for us. A very large chapter in the book of our lives is coming to a close and a new one is unfolding before our eyes.



On the road in the U.S.A

This morning, February 28th, 2005 at 6am we packed up our little Jetta, and, after waving goodbye to Sally & John, headed north. We made great time and by noon we were at Glen Canyon Dam, drove through the incredible landscape of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and arrived in Zion by 2pm. We checked into our Best Western just .5 mile outside the entrance to Zion, unloaded all the suitcases and hit the trails. This park is beautiful beyond belief. Like the Grand Canyon, I am sure the photographs will not do it justice but we tried our best. Tomorrow I hope to do some sketching before we leave for Bryce Canyon, the next stop of our “Farewell Tour of the U.S.A.” We spent a lovely few hours exploring and driving through the park here and are convinced that this time of year is perfect for visiting, since the amount of visitors is far less than there would be in the height of summer. The colors, the textures, and the shapes of these rock formations are breathtaking and cannot be described adequately by this tired traveler.

That’s about it for now. I will keep you all posted on our continuing adventures as we make our way east towards Newark and our flight to Italy on April 1. It still seems quite surreal but the suitcases I am surrounded with remind me that this is all very real and most exciting.

Buona notte,
Rosemary & Bob