Monday, July 29, 2019

And the Days Keep Rolling On!!!!

After the trip to Italy, which was far more than I was ready for....I spent the next two months recuperating! Spring arrived slowly and my schedule was light, so spent time doing Family History and attending the temple. Of course the biggest thrill was listening to President Nelson announce a temple in tiny little Moses Lake!! You are correct, I was anything but reverent!!! 
 My little yard continues to blossom and bring me joy all year round!

March 10 marked Matthias' 9th birthday, Ailene's birthday and it would have been our 47th wedding anniversary....one of those eventful calendar days!


 Ariel came over from Yakima to go to the cemetery with Haven, Liora and I in commemoration of Kelsey's 13th year in paradise and Doyle's 3rd year with Kelsey! Sure do miss my boys!
 The end of April and first of May I made a trip to Utah for Micah's Cosette, who had her 8th birthday and was baptized into the Church. She is quite an amazing little gal!

Friends and family came from near and far! We were able to celebrate Noble's birthday at Chuck-A-Rama one evening as well!! (Oh the sacrifices we make for the grandkids!)
 Cosi wanted me to make a bunny birthday cake and the kids all agreed that it was cute and a bit terrifying! 

 The first week in June found me in Island Park, Idaho with my two best buddies! Deanna's brother in law let us stay in his cabin and we had a blast. Went to a melodrama, The Music Man in West Yellowstone and enjoyed a parody of The Princess Bride at the theater in Island Park.
 This is the Upper Mesa Falls on Henry's Fork River....so beautiful!!
Lower Mesa Falls.
 These great gals have had my back (no pun intended) for the past 30 years! 
LOVE them so much!
Blue skies and scenic views everywhere we looked!
This little guy poked his head out for a photo and then disappeared!
 Made our way up to Virginia and Nevada City in Montana. Loved this charming 50's malt shop!

 Visitor information and small museum. So many of the shops and homes have been preserved. We got a real feel for what it must have been like back in the mid 1800s!
Quaint narrow gage railroad took us between Virginia and Nevada City, complete with a gal giving us a history lesson.
 The old train on the left is a wooden model that was actually in use in 1870.
Another building housed old musical and carnival pieces. Fancy old calliope!
Deanna and I at the lodge in West Yellowstone. Largest log structure in the US.
 Carol had never seen Old Faithful, so after much waiting in traffic, we arrived just in time to see it blow! That geyser never disappoints!
 We had our lunch on the outdoor veranda at the Lodge. Another beautiful day!
Lots of fun shops in West Yellowstone!
The cabin in Island Park was spacious and beautiful. We had so much fun together playing games, exploring and just being together and talking! 
 The last two days the weather decided to show off! As is said, you can get all four seasons in one day in Northern Idaho! Carol and I ran out between thunderstorms, rain and hail to roast our hot dogs! 
 The little creek by the cabin eased over its banks as the rain pelted down...then hailstones and sure enough the sun emerged an hour later! What a memorable trip!
July found us road tripping to Breckenridge, Colorado for our Brown Family Reunion! The weather was perfect, but the altitude kept me moving pretty slow. 10k feet is tough on all us sea-level folk!
 Autumn silk-screened our matching T-Shirts. Thought you might like to see a close up of how well they turned out!

No photo shoot is complete without the silly picture! Thanks to Micah for the great photos!!
My thirteen beautiful grand-babies....well, some of them would resent the baby part! Ha! Such great kids and they all get along so well! Nothing like cousins!
 After the reunion, I flew home and my NYC kids Ammon and family brought my car back to Moses Lake, via Logan, Craters of the Moon and family in Boise. They were here for two weeks and we had so much fun! They enjoyed feeding the koi at the Japanese park.
Our two city kids went out to the Merrell farm to ride horses, and see the 4H hogs and calves. 
 Kids crawled up onto the tractor and clever Aden turned the key and started it....gave Marlo quite the surprise!! Fortunately Aden's legs were too short to hit the gas pedal!!
A bucket of kids!
My neighbor loaned us the use of their little bouncy house...made grandma's backyard lots more fun!
Everyone gone now....my house is much too quiet!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Recuperating and Beautiful Italy

Having gone silent for seven months while I underwent two spine surgeries, followed by extensive recuperation and physical therapy, I am happy to report, I am almost human again!! So without doing an "over-share", let me just say how grateful I am for advanced surgical techniques and Vicodin!
This photo speaks volumes- all those dots= screws. All the dashes=rods....and the bionic woman emerges! 

So here we are - back at it! (no pun intended!) My reward for surviving the past several months, was a trip to Italy to see the new LDS Rome Temple and the wonders of the beautiful country of Italia! 

I have several hundred photos from my 10 day trip to Italy.
No worries, I will not post them all here, even though it is tempting. There are many more on my FB page if you are interested.
 Michelangelo's Moses at the Basilica of St Peter in Rome
 Ceiling paintings at the Basilica of St Peter
 Basilica of St Maria Maggiore
  Basilica of St Maria Maggiore. Pictures do not do justice to the marble, gold
and paintings in these incredible cathedrals. Many date back nearly a thousand years
 This is the temple that I was most excited to see. So very beautiful!
 L-R: Dennis and Janice Brown (my nephew), me and Ariel and Nathan Larsen
Was fun having family and friends together on this trip.

 The grounds were also lovely. Cedars. palms and ancient olive trees graced the temple grounds.
 This was our group of eight...Loveta Boyce, my friend and roomie, and at the far right are Dolores and Greg Weed, very dear friends from our days in Pennsylvania. Greg served his mission in Italy and his recent retirement made it possible for him to finally return. 

 Ancient bridges and structures along the Tiber River running through Rome.
 Dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
 Going through the museums at the Vatican took nearly all day. Unable to take pictures in the sistine chapel, but many of the sculptures were on display as well as innumerable paintings, maps and tapestries.
 Incredible detail in these marble sculptures.

 Again the detail and ornate ceiling art took my breath away!
 La Pieta was the only sculpture that Michelangelo signed. He put his name on it because he said it was perfect. Indeed it is! Its beauty brought tears to my eyes.
 Ariel and Nathan in St Peter's
 The Coliseum met my expectation in size and structure. What a feat of architecture and construction!
 It was daunting to imagine the things that went on in this Coliseum. Exotic animals, gladiators and the murder of many Christians...
 Even following back surgery, I was blessed to be able to see everything on the itinerary...of course I had the help of family and friends!
Castel Sant'Angelo on the Tiber River, originally the tomb for Emperor Hadrian, built in AD 120. Later it became a papal residence for protection.

 It was amazing....no matter where you looked there was antiquity, in the ruins of old cities and churches, aqueducts, gateways and arches.
 Many a conquering hero would drive a chariot through a triumphal arch, built to honor his victory!
 Many of these ruins dated back to the height of the Roman empire- 200-1400 AD

 The wings on this statue represents the returning conqueror who has prevailed in battle. Wings denote power. Very scriptural that.
 More ruins...seems they never get old...hahaha!
 Roman Forum on Palatine Hill. Church was built behind it at a later date.
 Fountains were in nearly every piazza. This is Piazza Navone Fountain
The piazzas were all cobblestone and served as the center of the community
The four Rivers Fountain 


 The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. It was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD.
  The artwork was, as always, incredible. The colors and detail were remarkable.
 Very Sistine chapel-ish with warriors, angels, and the heavenly approval of the Roman conquest of the known world.
 The Rape of Proserpina is a large Baroque marble sculptural group by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, executed between 1621 and 1622. Bernini was only twenty-three years old at its completion. It depicts the Abduction of Proserpina, where Proserpina is seized and taken to the underworld by the god Pluto. Unbelievable detail with imprints into the marble where Pluto's hand is against her skin.

The Trevi fountain at night.
The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini and several others. Standing 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. It is said that if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, it ensures that you will return to Italy!
 On to Sorrento and the island of Capri. We took a day trip by ferry to the island.
 No town or village is complete without a church, each one a bit different.
 The Italians rarely use plain tile, it is generally decorated and very pretty.
 This tree being about 200 years old was growing in the middle of the restaurant where we had lunch.
 The splendid Island of Capri. Only 5 sq miles or so it has about 7,000 permanent residents and is very popular in the summer months. 

 From Capri the mountain volcano, Vesuvius can be seen. At its base is the ruins of the city of Pompeii.
 At 1,900 ft up, we had a delightful view of the bay of Naples and the homes and small farms below.
 We were blessed with 58 degree spring weather and blue skies. Loved Capri!

 Clocktower in the town square.
Orvieto is a small city perched on a rock cliff in Umbria, Italy. Duomo di Orvieto, dating from 1290, has a mosaic facade and houses a marble Pietà sculpture. 
It is said that this sculpture was inspired by Michelangelo's Pieta. This one depicts not only Mary the mother of Christ, but also Mary Magdalene. It was sculpted by Scalza in 1579.

 I took numerous pictures of the large and ornamented doors...just have a thing for doors!
 The stained glass and the frescos on the walls were very detailed and depicted stories from the Bible and also celebrated the lives of many of the Popes.
 Charming streets 
 Lovely Florence at night. Smaller than Rome, Florence used to be the capital city of Italy.
 For February the Tuscan hills were green and inviting. The grapes had not yet leafed out, and the olive orchards were awaiting spring.


 My good friends Dolores and Greg Weed exploring the streets of San Gimignano. It is a hill top walled medieval city with 14 towers which were a status symbol. It prospered because it was on the route from France to Rome.
 One of the 14 towers in San Gimignano.
 Another interesting door caught my eye!
 There were several lavender fields in the area and this shop promoted it in a big way!
 You can see that over time the building materials had changed. Additions were added and repairs were made. Most of these old buildings are preserved rather than torn down. Many look very old, but inside have been remodeled beautifully.
 This looks like a well, but is a large cistern in the center of town to collect rain water .
 Every nook and alleyway was decorated with foliage. Freshly planted cyclamen were in window boxes and planted along the road barriers.

 View of Gimignano- the medieval city on the hill. Most of these old cities that dot the landscape are built on hills to keep watch for intruders.
 We also stopped at the walled city of Monteriggioni known for its medieval fortifications and watchtowers. The walls offer scenic views of the surrounding Tuscan hills.
 Small city- large cathedral.

 Next we stopped in Pisa, yes the famous leaning bell tower is quite the attraction. I was in awe of the fact that it is built from marble. A very beautiful structure, even if it tilts a bit. The baptistry and the cathedral were both a wonder!
 Ariel in the obligatory photo holding up the listing tower!
 Pisa Cathedral is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Italy. It is a notable example of Romanesque architecture, in particular the style known as Pisan Romanesque. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Pisa.
 Again another breath-taking ornamented cathedral.

 Loved this shot of the tower through the city gate.
 Then by jeep we drove on switchbacks 1000 meters up to the Carrara marble quarry. There are more than 100 quarries in these mountains....enough marble to supply much of the world.
 Some of the quarries have pure white (very valuable) marble and some have pinkish, striated, black, tan and blue-gray. Our guide explained how the marble is quarried and sold for various purposes all over the world.

 Carrara seemed a quiet little town and very charming. It is north of Florence on the Tyrrhenian Sea and many of the people here work in the quarries.
 We were able to go to a studio where the marble is sculpted into a variety of artistic and useful items. Work is commissioned here from all over Italy.
 Larsen, the young man on the left made immediate friends with the young sculptor, Bronson Evertsen. Read his story here: http://www.ldsliving.com/Latter-day-Saint-Sculptor-Shares-How-He-s-Helped-Thousands-See-the-Beauty-in-the-Rome-Italy-Visitors-Center/s/89906
 This sculpture was so delicate and fragile looking. The closeup of the face was especially memorable.

 Back to Florence and the river Arno, with its many bridges and beautiful architecture and art.
 Florence's cathedral is truly a work of art. Built on top of a 7th century church it was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in the late 13th century. A remarkable structure!
 We walked all over Florence and arrived at the Academia where my long awaited dream came true. These unfinished sculptures are considered the prisoners. Michelangelo said that each block of marble contained something or someone to be released. His job was to do so. Several of these blocks remained unfinished- showing the process. A close look will show the chisel marks and the roughness of the stone.

 Then at the end of the hall- there stood David in all his glory. A masterpiece to behold. I was spellbound as I walked around this iconic work of art, I could hardly breathe. His facial expression seemed a balance between his faith that the Lord would strengthen him and some concern that he was inadequate for the task at hand. 

So after ten days of covering miles and miles of Italian countryside, seeing art and eating delicious food, it was time to return home. Rather than checking Italy off of my bucket list, I have instead had my appetite whetted for this charming and culturally rich country. I am hoping to return to further explore and enrich my life. Farewell Italia...at least for the moment!