Happy New Year to My Cheesie Friends

Wouldn’t it be great if every item on your todo list had to do with cheese?

My friend Kate sent this to me and I had to share. It comes from PoorlyDrawnLines.com

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Best wishes for a wonderful and cheese-filled 2014.

Lisa

I Know How This Blob Of Clay Feels

between confidence and doubt

Rough, terse, and uneven, there was something unsettling and yet familiar about the rough countenance of this sculpture at the Biennale Arte 2013 in Venice. It begged to be poked, stretched, shaped and shaped. I wanted to pick it up, poke it with my fingers, and model it into something more tangible and defined. Help it become whatever it was that it was trying to become.

Then I noticed the name: “Between Confidence And Doubt.”

I resemble that remark—and that sculpture, I thought. Far too often, I am that blob of clay. Transitioning, shifting, evolving. Vacillating because I’m trying to get somewhere new, or make a change—and I’m not sure that I can. Or that I should. Or that I have the energy to do it right.

I find myself in that place more often than I like to admit.

Anyone who says anxiety, optimism, persistence and dread can’t come in the same package–is wrong.

 

Mesmerized by a Silent Venice Night

cannaregio at night

It’s ten p.m. Ron and I have just finished another amazing Italian dinner. We stroll back to our hotel holding hands, wading in the silence. When we’re almost home, we stop at the top of a stone bridge. We stare down the canal. The air is cool and the water shines like polished marble. [Read more...]

Frantic As My Venice Biological Clock Ticks

venice grand canal at night

I’m so CONFLICTED.

I only have two days left here in Venice. I want to get out there and see it all NOW. But I also want to record it in my notebook so I can remember all the little details that I need if I’m going to write about all of this later. I need to note that the natural pistachio ice cream I ate last night [Read more...]

Progress on Getting My Book Published

I wanted to update all of you on the progress of my book. The manuscript of of And Then We Ate Gouda: Scenes from a Cheese-Filled Life, is done. It’s a mini-memoir that celebrates the foods and flavors that punctuate our lives and memories.

I was an unsuspecting child when a grilled cheese sandwich changed my life forever. Who would have known that a single square of American sandwiched between two slices of Wonder Bread and spread with margarine would launch a lifetime of love, adventure, cheese, and cheese-love?

Writing this book is a big deal to me. I’ve always looked at authors—people who’ve published books—as the top of the writer food chain. To me, authordom is an elusive club I want to join. I’ve issued a challenge to myself to see if I can do it, if I’m good enough and persistent enough to make it happen.

I’ve always wondered that about myself.

Now I’ll finally know.

I sent pitches to agents a couple of weeks ago. So far, two have asked to see the proposal. TWO!!!! It doesn’t sound like much, but I have to tell you that I’m thrilled to death. All I need is one—the right one.

I keep telling myself that this is just one step on a very long road. I’m excited and nervous and scared and hopeful.

Cross your fingers for me. I promise to keep you posted.

Heaven on Toast: Venice’s Cicchetti

ciccetti venice

You know how at every party there’s that one person who scarfs down whole platefuls of hors d’oeuvres while everyone else nibbles politely? A person who eats so much when they first arrive that they barely have any room left for dinner?

Well, when I go to parties, that scarfer, is me! [Read more...]

Venice Less Traveled

Madonna Del Orto Venice

Is it really too crowded in Venice? I say yes—and no.

Yes, it’s hard to get around when there are dozens of people trying to squeeze through the same six-foot wide walkway to get to St. Mark’s Square.

Rush Hour Grand Canal Venice

And yes, the Grand Canal looks like the aquatic version of Interstate 95 at rush hour.

But if you turn off the main route, it only takes a couple of blocks until you emerge in an entirely different world.

passageway venice

Just pick a random passageway and walk away from the Grand Canal action. Quickly, you enter a postcard. It’s quiet, serene. A turquoise rowboat moors against a 500-year old brick wall. Light sparkles off the canal.

For a minute, you have Venice to yourself.

You stroll along the canal, look up at gothic windows with their characteristic pointed arches. Grip a wrought iron handrail as you cross a bridge.

Santa Maria dei Miracoli Venice

You wind your way through alleys and navigate bridges. You discover a columned church wrapped in marble panels. The varying shades of marble and juxtaposition of vein directions create a soft and elegant texture. It had to have taken years to piece the inlays into place. Just looking at the elegant play of shapes and colors makes you swoon.

Santa Maria dei Miracoli Venice

You cross an arched stone bridge over the canal. After pausing to watch a gondolier glide by, you choose your next passageway.

Gondola Venice

Once again, taking the effort to stray from the main path has paid off. You have no idea where you’ll end up. But do you really care?

Venice Past and Present

Breath by Mark Quinn, San Giorgio Maggiore

I didn’t show you a photo of the outside of San Giorgio Maggiore when I wrote my last post because I wanted to prepare you first.

You see, it is currently the Biennale, Venice’s biennial modern art extravaganza. Which means there is lots of modern art scattered around Venice. EVERYWHERE.

That includes on the tiny island of San Giorgio. That’s right, what you see in the photo is true: They’ve placed an 11-meter high, inflated pink naked lady right in front of Palladio’s masterpiece! She’s really very impressive, swaying gently as she lords over the Venice lagoon.

The pink lady sculpture is titled “Breath.” It’s the work of artist Marc Quinn and is an inflatable version of his marble statue “Alison Lapper Pregnant.” Alison Lapper is an artist who lives a very full life despite the challenges of having no arms and only truncated legs. The inflatable was used in the opening of the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

Why would you put a 21st century piece of art in front of a renaissance church?

I’m not sure if there is an official explanation is, but I’ll share my take. The city of Venice doesn’t want to be seen as a museum of antiquities, but rather a shrine of art and culture of all times. Incorporating modern art around the city is Venice’s way of saying, “Yes, we have a past—but we have a very rich present, too.”

As a woman who just turned 50, I can really identify with that sentiment. I too want to stay active and relevant as I age.

My initial reaction to the pink woman was WTF?!? but I quickly grew to love her. Alison Lapper  is a real-life super hero because she embodies the spirit of human persistence. “Breath” exudes her power. With her chin held high she lords over the Venice proclaiming, “Yes I can—and you can’t stop me.”

Besides, I’ve always loved giant balloons. My all-time favorite–besides “Breath” is Underdog from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

wooden head Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti

Another great piece of modern art we stumbled onto was this amazing head.* Its angled and flattened profile sits in front of Palazzo Cavalli-Francetti, a renovated palazzo near then Accademia Bridge, which is now a conference center. I really like the way it seems to be eyeing the gondoliers as they paddle up the Grand Canal.

*If anyone knows who the head artist is, please shoot over the name. I’d love to give him/her credit.

50th Birthday in Venice

Venice Grand Canal from San Giorgio

For my birthday, Ron and I rode the vaporetto (water bus) to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore to see its namesake renaissance church designed by Andrea Palladio. I studied Palladio when [Read more...]

Venice Finally

Canal from Accademia Bridge

Yesterday was my birthday. Yup, 50 is here. But it’s not so bad because I am in VENICE!

Ron and I hold hands and stroll along the canals. We eat canal-side meals. We scarf Pizza Margherita with amazing thin and perfect crust. You know the kind, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.

We take things in slowly. One major attraction a day, with time left over [Read more...]