Monday, July 30, 2012

This is Not the Culture Shock I Was Looking For

Espresso in the morning, now over ice, my suitcase unpacked, reorganized, repacked. The temporary housing situation continues though now I am reunited with the Storage Unit of Stuff. Unfortunately, no matter how carefully I thought I packed months ago, I am still culling shirts I never wear, shoes that don't fit,and kitchen utensils I don't want to move. Though I wake in the morning and do this for a while, I am still a bit on vacation mode. Ride a bike, listen to the radio, nap, visit friends.
Or pick elderberries from the bush that hides the door to the house and make elderberry cordial. We drank it last night, a tablespoon mixed with a glass of white wine while playing Scrabble. Incidentally, I had my highest scoring game ever. That might not be related. This was supposed to be a post to tell you I have books for sale, that postcards are on their way. Instead, this is to let you know I am putting the lag in jet lag. I am leaving for a short Baton Rouge visit and then a week in Asheville for the Ladies of Letterpress Conference, to talk to all sorts of printers about their techniques and experiences. When I get back, I should have postcards for you. Of course, I am still moving to California in a few weeks, and despite my intentions, I suspect my ambitious work plans will be subdued by "an uncooperative reality.*" While my vacation culture mode continues, I have these two photos for you. The first is a sign in an alley in Venice, one of the most magically picturesque places ever because there is no place like it. Second is from Milan, a detail of the only remaining MAC architecture projects.
See you in a week! *did you listen to this weekends' This American Life story about meeting Piers Anthony. This is what I missed in Italy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Afternoon thunderstorms are the best times for napping in New Orleans. But, being home most of the day unpacking and re packing, while job hunting and catching up with friends, thunderstorm time means I sit and show you the last bit of photos from my trip.
Our last days in Italy were spent in and near Milan. I brought Andy to the duomo to climb to the top. Despite the heat and our aversion to stairs (did I tell you about the time we walked the three hour down hill trek to Amalfi and couldn't hardly walk for the following three days?), I assured Andy it was worth it and, luckily, it was.
The day before we left we took the train to Lake Como for some cool breezes. I went there in February but this time it was warm enough to swim. We also took a ferry across the lake, which made for more scenic views.
We landed in New York the next day, tired and hot, after many delays. Passport control was as polite as you expect in NY, and despite great plans, we hardly left the neighborhood. No photos of New York, but finally I will start printing postcards again, making books probably staying home for a bit. Well, once I get back from the Ladies of Letterpress Conference next week. Yikes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Winding Down

Ok, so I am writing this from a friend's apartment in Brooklyn. I am not sure if I am still jet-lagged so much as just tired. It is grey and drizzly which is fine with me as I try to sort out the things I have been carrying for the past few months and what I need to carry farther. All the way to California. But first, here is a little bit about how far east we went. Trieste is on the farthest edge of Italy, surrounded by Slovenia and water. The coffee is good, the language is mixed and cultural identity is complicated. On the Adriatic, a port town with hills and castles, shopping and a main piazza that faces the sea, I wasn't exactly sure what I expected and I was surprised. Additionally, we found a vending machine that would sell us one euro cans of beer at ten o'clock at night. Out travels were winding down.
oh captain my...
sunset on the water
menu at zoefood, vegetarian cafe
across the street
first night back in milan

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saying Yes to Adventure

We were about to head to Florance to return to Il Vegetariano when a friend of a friend offered us to stay in a villa in Tuscany with his parents. This resulted in one of the two craziest transportation experiences of the trip. The other I will tell you about later. For now, know that we rode the fast train from Rome to Florence, with two other travelling couples and one angry lady shouting in Italian as we boarded. We ignored our seat assignments and wisely took refuge in the nearest seats. In Florence, we ignored Google's directions to wait for a train and got on the first train towards Livorno, unsure how to navigate the next two steps, two bus rides. I wasn't even sure we boarded the right train, since we rushed from the closest gelateria trying to cool our burning heads. On board, about to leave, I confirmed the train's direction with the man next to me, a sunburnt, smiling, pony-tailed fella who reminded me of a certain movie character. Later, I realized he was reading a book whose title may have been "we are brothers in time and space". For now, we traveled towards the sea, leaving the famous Firenze cupola to see another time. Meanwhile, a girl from Chicago sat with us. I imagined she was finishing a summer art class in Florence, perhaps even with my own professor from home who had just finished a class there. Despite the families standing in the aisles, she quickly got up in search of a better seat. A man traveling with the families sat down and began friendly conversation with my friendly neighbor. The families were from southern India. Our friend began talking about yoga, specifically mind yoga. And indian food. That fellow left to sit with his wife and baby, replaced by a young boy with pretty green eyes. He asked politely but without self-consciousness where we were going. All this was viewed by a man across the aisle whose arm was in a sling. I thought it was prosthetic until I noticed the long fingernails and realized it was instead was a painfully swollen limb. He seemed understandably unhappy the entire ride. Our miserable train arrived in the city of the Vespa, and our friendly set neighbor offered us a ride up to the villa where our friend awaited our arrival. Knowing it would spare us two long uncertain bus trips, we accepted and twenty minutes later we disrupted Lari's main Piazza with our rowdiness. The ride had been fast, dust and spotted with conversation. Vocabulary was limited but we knew that the driver worked in a vineyard and rightfully believes Tuscany is beautiful. At every stomach-churning turn he would exclain "la vista!" leaving us to appreciate the view as he sped on.   Minutes later, our friend arrived and we were whisked to the villa for homemade vegan pizza and long talks by the pool. In the morning, the light in our room looked like this:
Then we went to Venice where everything is picturesque. We managed to find enough empty streets for breathing room and took lots of photos. Here are a few.

Back in Italy

We arrived back in Italy a week ago, from Oslo. Stepping off the plane was like coming home. Not just because I was back in Italy and I can order my own dinner again, but also, the humidity smacked us in the chest like being back in Louisiana. Naples is loud and hot and traffic laws are followed perhaps only by accident. Walking around was exhausting but we had a balcony view of a busy street. So bought a bottle of wine learned a lot about Italian culture (and gestures).
We left the city for the Amalfi coast. I've only been as far as Sorrento and I wanted to swim. From our hilltop town you could see Capri in the morning. Then we could take the 50 minute twisting bus ride to Amalfi proper. I think Amalfi Coast bus drivers train in Naples. The view was amazing but a little rough on my stomach.
Even the post office is charming. This is my photo but go to the Send More Mail blog for a more professional one. I saw the post office here first, because she posts a lot about Italy, stamps, boats, mail...oh just go see for yourself.
I could've floated in the sea all day, green blue and salty, looking at the hills, but we also made it to the Amalfi paper museum and got to see this ancient Hollander (I miss making things).
Andy isn't much of a swimmer so we took the ferry to Positano mostly just to be close to the water. The town is cute but we were weary and not up for shopping or crowds. We found a spot on the beach in the shade to ingest delicious cold things lazily while we can.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Trees of Oslo

Oslo might be the capital of a geographically sizable nation, but it is a cozy city surrounded by forest. We were lucky to have an excellent guide and a little bit of sun book ending the rainy days. My friend lives across from a large park with a botanical garden, which includes a green house. One room is humid and hot and filled with familiar plants. It was a little bit Louisiana for me. There is also a large waterfall and cultivated garden outside. From the kitchen window where we spent many hours drinking coffee, it was difficult to see the street, only the green green park.
I managed not to take photos at the two most interesting museums we went to, the Viking Ship Museum (oh how it rained that day) and the Contemporary Arts Museum. However, I had the camera handy when we visited the national touring theater of Norway, who brings dance, theater and puppets to all of the country. My friend works in the costuming department there.She showed us the stage with large metallic trees, made of mesh, built to be broken down and transported. It is very clever.
We also tried on old costumes. The camel was a two person deal and crowded Andy out of the dressing room so there is no photo but he got a good shot of me in a giant frog suit. It was a good day.
Outside, in the city, the trees are tall and healthy. There are so many beautiful parks in Oslo and a lot of new development to give the place a skyline. Too bad. Sometimes those choices lead to this: a good view of the fjord blocked by this cruise ship.
PS Maybe you think I will be traversing Europe indefinitely but my visa runs out soon enough. In September I am moving to the Bay Area and I will be the new letterpress intern at the San Fransisco Center for the Book. Yahoo! More letterpress for me. Expect more from postcards!