Past, Present & Future


As an English teacher, my life is structured around grammar tenses of time. We measure so much of our lives around the concept of time, even the way in which we write or speak.

As a writer, I mix up my tenses all the time. Just ask my writing partner, Domenico, he’ll tell you, I make him nuts sometimes with my crazy edits on the premise that it doesn’t sound right to me. How he tolerates me is something I will never truly understand but bless him for doing so.

I’m in Canada right now and in a way I feel like I have stepped into the past. This was my home country for 30+ years. Every time I come back a little peice of me is also chipped off. I find I cannot remember my way around Toronto as easily as I use to. Things look different to me, much bigger than I remember too.

I may not have an Italian Passport yet, but I am realizing that the more that time passes, the more European I have become. I care more about politics! How the hell did that happen? I care more about the environment too. Again, repeat phrase above. I care less about TV and more about nature. Maybe it has less to do with where I live and more about being fifty, I dunno.

I also noticed that the longer I am away, the longer my list grows of people in Canada whom I would like to see more of. I always thought moving away would wittle down my friends list but in fact it has increased it!

In the past few years I have rekindled all kinds of friendships that I never would have bothered with had I still lived here. No offence to those who have re-entered my life after a 25 year absense, I am loving all of it but never gave ot much thought before.

The best part is that these people are subtley reminding me of who I was back then at 8, 14 and 20! A really, really, long time ago!

It has gotten to be so awesome that a childhood friend came to Italy to babysit Coco for me! I cannot think of a better situation than that!

And just for shits and giggles…here is a photo of me that a friend had…we used to be in a band together and I thought I was Pat Benatar, hahaha. Hope you enjoy the rest of dog days of summer!

~Peace out, Leah

 

 

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The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About


This is bang on…had to share.

This piece was not written by myself but I couldn’t have said it better. The words epitomise a strong undercurrent I have been feeling for a while. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it,…

Source: The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About

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Senza parole


Without words…

I have been painting now for a month. I certainly do not know yet what my style is and it has been fun experimenting and exploring this new medium. What I didn’t expect was to have such a strong urge to become an activist on a topic I know very little about. The subject is Rape. It has been flooding the news this week after the light sentencing of a Stanford boy. Then there was also the massive protest on Brazil’s Copacabana beach after a young girl was gang raped.

Like I said, this is a subject I know very little about. When I was a young girl I had some close calls. I had friends who were raped or also close calls just like me. I may have even unknowingly left friends behind at parties not realizing they may have needed my help. I have always been an independent person and can usually smell trouble from a mile away. But I have also been just plain lucky.

Last night I was dead tired but felt this overwhelming urge to paint. I wanted to sit down, my legs were aching, but I kept going. For five hours I painted and thought about how my leg pain was nothing compared to what some women endured while raped and then the aftermath of getting no justice. The shaming. The fear. The isolation. Again, I know nothing of this firsthand.

In the Stanford case, the girl was very drunk and didn’t remember much of anything. Was she irresponsible? Sure, for drinking too much. But that does not justify what happened to her. She was unconscious, naked and lying behind a dumpster. A man was sexually assaulting her. That is Rape. Rape is Rape.

He got six months in prison, what???

This painting was tough. I didn’t want to paint the red hand across the women’s mouths. The idea scared me. Their faces were so beautiful. It stirred an emotion in me of fear. Of not being able to breathe or speak. If this painting disturbs you as much as it does me then my mission has been accomplished. Art dipicts life.

When will these real women be heard? When will their words have value in our societies? Why did it take 30 years and a busload of women to shut down Bill Cosby? Why did the Stanford boy only get six months? Why did 30 men rape a 16 year old girl in Brazil and no one tried to stop them?

…like I said, Senza Parole. Without words.

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When Dust Bunnies Fly


These past several months have been filled with so much activity and excitement that I’m afraid to look under my bed. Yes, that’s right, the dust bunnies are so big that even Coco is steering clear.

Initially, my Spring/Summer was looking quite bleak. Post 50th birthday bliss in Paris, I came crashing down hard with a personal situation that arose that quite honestly I was not very happy about. I fought back the tears of frustration and migraines and wondered what I was doing wrong. The Universe kept pushing me further and further from my destination that I finally just gave up. Yep, that’s right. I surrendered. Exhausted and pissed off, I decided I wasn’t going to fight anymore and I GAVE UP.

I distanced myself from the things that caused me stress and anxiety in my life and decided I no longer wanted to be the victim of circumstances other people controlled. I’m not a quitter by nature so this was a really tough thing for me. What I’ve realized since, is that it was the best decision I’ve made in years.

Finally letting go of what I “thought I should be doing” has cleared the path for the Universe to allow me to receive the message of what “I should actually be doing”. I’m a creative idiot and have always surrounded myself with artists of all walks of life. I’m also a bit weird and confess that I carry poems by Tagore in my wallet. I’m a writer, obviously, and have old lined booklets full of my miserable teen years and started chronicling my observations on life at the mere age of ten. So, it’s no accident that blogging found me – thank you Elora!

Oh, what a tortured soul I was! But talent? Bah. I knew it when I saw it in others but lacked the ability to see it in myself. I knew I could sing, but there was always someone better, I can be kinda funny too, but then there are all those comedians. Same goes for dancing, writing and the endless list of all my failures combined. Blogging on the other hand has opened up so many friendships, experiences and doors but I was clearly running out of steam here too. I decided to step back, post less and focus on living outside the screen and keyboard for a while.

This latest crossroad was unwelcome. I was comfortable with my shortcomings and broken record mentality of how nothing was going my way. Admittedly, I was even getting tired of playing that song but I didn’t know how to push the reset button anymore because I got fat, lazy and depressed. Then it happened. It felt like the worst betrayal of all. Someone else kicked me out of my own dream. Or at least, that is how it felt for me. I was made to feel like an unwanted, disposable rag that just got in the way.

Forced to hit the reset button, I started with nature. I bought loads of plants and started a garden on my balcony. I’ve killed a few along the way but watching a flower bloom from a seed after being overwatered and manhandled by yours truly, was inspiring. I even bought a wisteria tree which is insane!

Then the magic started. I went to an art class for fun. The blank canvas invoked a fear inside of me that I wanted to conquer. I wanted to play but suddenly was frozen. Then I learned how forgiving a brush stoke can be. And another one, and one more. Two hours flew by and then I woke up to see a finished painting and wondered where it came from. Did I actually just do that? I cannot even win a game of Pictionary!

I don’t honestly know where this energy is coming from. I’m the girl who buys stencils and colours inside the lines. I’ve been painting now for three weeks and I’ve sold a few of my paintings already. Who is this person and where was she for the first fifty years? I have even opened up an Etsy store called Paint Butterfly Kisses, and hope that this is not a temporary phenomena.

I’ve been so inspired to paint that I stay up until 3:00 a.m. to finish one. I’m a zombie the next day and like I said, the dust bunnies are so big under the bed that Coco thinks she has new friends in the apartment.

And just to be sure I have my two feet firmly planted on the ground, and a back up plan to my plan, I started a massage course and will be certified in a few months. House cleaning be damned! I’m busy with smelly feet and painting frenzies 😀😂

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“Oshun” SOLD

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“Daisybelle”

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“Miss Percy”

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“Orecchino d’Oro”

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“Aganjú”

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“Verde Caldo”

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“Peacock on Acid” SOLD

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“Charlie”

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“Pavone Pio”

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“Inspiration”

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“Mr. Cluk” SOLD

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“Mariah II” SOLD

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“Mariah”

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Verona. Wherefore art thou?


 

Let’s face it, Romeo and Juliette is mostly about a cute rich chick on a balcony who fell in love with the dude from the wrong family and then a religious guy who meddled into their business and screwed everything up. Who needs clift’s notes for that?

But thanks to them, Verona has been called the most romantic place in Italy and well add a little Amarone wine in there for good measure and I tend to agree!

As usual, my husband’s schedule got all messed up again and he came home earlier than expected. Look, four months apart is no picnic either but I have to admit, I like my alone time. I line up all sorts of projects while he is away and when they change his schedule it really messes with my mojo, but…like any smart girl, I certainly would never turn down a romantic weekend  in Verona and an opportunity to drink loads of Amarone wine either.

Did I also mention Amarone risotto? The rain and cooler temperatures just gave us more excuses to eat and drink in all those lovely Osterias everywhere too. Worth mentioning and repeating are: Osteria Enoteca Alcova del Frate and Hostaria la Vecchia Fontanina.

We stayed at an agriturismo at the top of the hill overlooking Verona at Corte San Mattia. While we were there, we sampled their wine, honey, oil and farm fresh eggs, walked through the farmland, hiked to Verona through a path along the olive grove and I even participated in a painting workshop! It was a busy five days!

I would like to give a shout out to the many Verona bloggers who shared their useful tips on how to maximize this experience too. I only wish I remembered where the links are now. One particular tip had me running to catch the Ponte Pietra at sunset and it was magical if you love photography and the game of catching the best light!

I also discovered that I love painting! Who knew that at 50 I would fall in love with painting? I always thought it would be too difficult and decided breaking rocks and making mosaics was way easier and now I’m hooked on acrylics!

I took hundreds of photos and used my ipad, phone and cybershot camera so they are of course scattered everywhere just like me but here are a few to see. I added some pics of our drive towards Austria and also our day trip to Lago di Garda and since I am hooked on painting too, I added some experimental ones I have done this past week. I’m watching some tutorials on Youtube and my mom started painting earlier this year so we are really enjoying sharing our new hobby🙂

Lambs! Did I mention LAMBS yet? We got four in a row last week, SQUEEEEEE!! I will throw in a few pics of these too. Enjoy!

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Spring by the sea


Just a few photos I took on a delightful hike from San Rocco to Punta Chiappa near Camogli…hope you enjoy them!

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FEAR is a 4-letter word


My Easter weekend started off with a Thursday evening car accident. My cute little Cinquecento had been at the mechanic for a month getting new brakes and some TLC. So, when I got the call that she was ready to come home, I was excited. Even if I was going to be in France for the weekend, I was looking forward to zipping around in my car on the holiday Monday and hoping for some sunshine so I could pop open the sunroof.

What happened next was a complete shock. A few blocks from the mechanic’s I lost all brake capacity! I was hopelessly careening towards a red light and cars in front of me and suddenly felt the impact of being helpless and screwed. Not wanting to hit anyone, I veered my rolling car to the right and into a vacant parking space and hit the parked car in front of it. Upon impact, I heard that dreaded crunch.

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Feckkkkkk! My beautiful vintage car! I then engaged the hand brake and had another moment of feckkkkk, why didn’t I think to use the hand brake earlier? I was so focussed on not hitting people and avoiding the intersection that my instinct told me to crank the wheel and break my fall sort of speak. I even  jumped the curb and one wheel ended up on the sidewalk. Thankfully, no one was walking on it in that moment.

My car was damaged, but I am fine. I called my friend, he called the mechanic and he came to the scene. We moved my car to a safer position and he promised me he would take care of everything while I was in France eating macarons. The parked van I hit had merely a scratch. The owner was standing on the sidewalk and saw everything. He was a Morrocan fruit vendor and very sweet about the whole ordeal. I then walked home and tried to make sense out of what had just happened.

I posted photos on Facebook and realized how lucky I had been. What if I was killed? Or killed someone else? I heard things like fire your mechanic and don’t buy that car, they aren’t safe. I also heard don’t go to Paris after the attacks in November too. And in 1990, when the Gulf war broke, I was told don’t go to Turkey.

Guess what? I went to Turkey in 1990 and Paris in 2016. I bought the car and will not fire my mechanic. If I lived my life in fear, I would never know pure joy. By the time I got home from my involuntary walk, I was thrilled to still be alive! A broken car can be fixed. My mechanic screwed up maybe. But how many of us screw things up every day? We are human after all. I still trust that he will do the best he can.

I believe in being sensible. I am not one of those extreme people who push the limits and do dangerous things just to get a cheap thrill. I don’t feel the need to push my luck everyday by doing stupid, dangerous things. But I also like to have fun and sometimes having fun means taking some risks. As Shirley Maclean once wrote, “if you want the fruit from the tree, sometimes you have to go out on a limb”.

But let’s observe for a minute what I am really talking about here. I’m talking about doing every day things like going on a vaction somewhere nice and driving a car. The reality is that anything can happen, anywhere, anytime.

FEAR is a four letter word. It freezes us. Stops us from living to our full, beautiful potential. Having a little fear is natural and I believe we should always follow our gut instinct just like an animal would do. It can be useful to save our lives.

LOVE is also a four letter word. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we never experienced it because fear of failure, loss and hurt got in the way?

Next time you hear the voices of fear coming at you from others or inside your head, ask yourself what JOY will I miss out on if I listen to the fear? Always follow your gut, never, ever, do something if it doesn’t feel right.

But for the love of joy, put a little faith in your steps and erase the fear for what is can often be. The naysayers who want the opportunity to say I told you so. The people who believe that changing mechanics would change your fate. The people who love you and want to protect you at all times.

This last one I know quite well. For five years I kept my cat indoors for fear of losing her. But when I finally let go of my fear, watching her joyfully run and play through the fields of tall grass filled my heart with life and love.

I had to trust that she would come home and she did. Did she break a few teeth? Yes. Did she get stuck in the neighbor’s yard and have to be rescued more than once? Yes. Did she catch a giant snake and try wrestling it to the ground? Yes. I think that’s how she broke her teeth!

But she learned and soon paced herself. She realized that midday was hot and got some sense to return home and rest on the cool tiles in the living room instead of running and getting overheated (the first 3 days she was wild and required a trip to the vet because of heat exhaustion).

Overall, she probably had the best summer of her life. She taught me that it was ok to worry a bit and observe and intervene when necessary but also to release my fear and let her experience the true joy of being a cat. Amazing how much we can learn from our pets, isn’t it?image

 

Posted in Cats, Coco, Nature, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments