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You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West



Summer is such a tease.  It’s hot, then cool; rainy, then dry; sunny, then cloudy; largo, then allegro.

This mad-glam bunch of boys challenge Patty and me. Our most recent cello/piano piece is composed by the girly-guy in the far left background, Antonio Vivaldi. This red-haired (hidden under his wig) genius followed his passion for music, dominated Italian musical life in the early 1700s, and produced hundreds of five-finger exercises concertos. I bet you know the ubiquitous Four Seasons, Le Quattro Stagioni. 

Patty and I are learning Vivaldi’s Sonata #3 ~  with skadoodles of help from her liltingly cheering cello teacher, a gentleman with uncommon patience.


Vivaldi only lived once and he did it his way.  He loved multi-rhythmic composition. Just like Brian Wilson, one of the most innovative composers in pop music.


Surfin’ pin-up. Avant-garde pop artist. Psychedelic oracle. Down-home hippie. Retro-hip icon. And a forever-perpetual-motion nostalgia machine.

I think Brian Wilson did everything right. This next tune isn’t his biggest hit, but it’s cool as frozen collards. A veggie sonata, of sorts, for the gardener in me.

Good vibrations, summer weather, making music together. Time to imagine a place where everybody has an ocean. And a garden.


What’s your favorite Beach Boy Tune?

Toni 8/19/14




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silhouette ~ photographers achieve this effect by putting light behind an object to darken its features instead of highlighting them

I saw this fall-to-your-knees Column of the Immaculate Conception in the Piazza Mignanelli in Rome.

It was discovered during excavations at a convent of Benedictine nuns, transported and erected here by hundreds of pompieri, firefighters from the region.

The marble base supports the bronze statue of the Madonna.

On the base are statues of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. The four bas-reliefs recall the Annunciation, St. Joseph’s dream, the Coronation of the Virgin and the Pronunciation of the Dogma.



Every year on December 8, Italians take to the streets of Rome to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. All over this concussively beautiful city, there are parades, music, and God-size feasts. But it’s here, in Piazza Mignanelli, the home of Colonna dell’Immacolata, that everyone (including that party animal, il Papa) comes to see one lucky firefighter climb the tyrannosaurian crane.


Toni 8/17/14



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Yes, time has flewn.

It’s August 16.  The Season is underway.



August 12th, aka the Glorious 12th, is the official opening of the British Grouse Hunting/Game season. glorious12th_2639040b

In pre-industrial Britain, wild birds graced many a table. Seagulls, vultures, small songbirds, ducks and geese were all carved with “earnestness of purpose”.

Readers of the anonymously-written book, The Perfect Gentleman, or Etiquette and Eloquence, learned plenty of fowl verbs.



Carving as science. And manners. If you used the wrong term in relation to carving the bird, it was considered to be an unpardonable affront to etiquette.

A primer:

You rear a goose, fract a chicken,



sauce a capon, unbrace a mallard,


dismember a heron,


disfigure a peacock, display a crane,


untach a curlew,



unjoin a bittern, allay a pheasant, wing a quail, and mince a plover.



The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.

Oscar Wilde was firmly committed to the pursuit of pleasures in posh circles, but unlike our anonymous writer, felt some things were too important to be taken seriously.



Wilde wrote a play, The Vital Importance of Being EarnestA Trivial Comedy for Serious People.  The comedy of manners was a wild success. As was the movie, hundreds of years later, starring the devotion-worthy Colin Firth.

I wonder if Wilde read The Perfect Gentleman. If he did, he probably skipped this chapter.  His take on the English country gentleman and the hunt? The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.

Toni 8/16/14






A Note on the Wide-Awake Life from Isabel, WWWW’s guest blogger


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#71 I, Isabel Scheherazade, leader of the wide-awake life, who writes things down so I can catch them to think about later, Remember Something Mom Always Said to Me. Sorry for the caps, but it shows emphasis. (Hey, I’m “in charge of this blog” as Pop says to me.)


Isabel, come see! You’re going to love this! Mom was always finding something in nature that she was sure I didn’t want to miss. Most of the time she was right.

Not always.

Like the time Mr. Cardinalas Mom called him, was wooing Mrs. Cardinal with bugs and sunflower seed. I mean, it was interesting, just not so interesting that I wanted to sit still for a ton of time to see the courtship unfold.

But do you know?  I can still feel her calling out to me. Not the actual words–just the THUMP of the words.

Think about the rhythm a poem has.

If “ISABEL, come see! You’re going to LOVE THIS!” were a poem, it would have 10 or 11 syllables or parts. So what I feel–a lot–is this vibration with the first three syllables and the last two. It’s like they’re accented or whatever it’s called in poetry.

What happens when I feel these vibes?

I look around for something I might be missing.

ISABEL (I guess you’d say this was a story from the Way-Back-Seat-of-My-Memories. A mini story with a major impact.)

#68 I, Isabel Scheherazade tell of Olivia’s late-night visit and how an unruly night commences and how our house becomes like Whale Island was for Shakelton and Worsley.


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#68 I, Isabel Scheherazade tell of Olivia’s late-night visit and how an unruly night commences and how our house becomes like Whale Island was for Shakelton and Worsley.

It’s a school night, but I can’t sleep.

Olivia’s on the inflatable bed under the sloping wall near my dormer window.  Moonlight covers her like a blanket.  She’s breathing in and out, in and out. Steady. So she must’ve stopped crying.

An hour ago my family and I were in bed when I hear taptaptap. I get Mimi and Pop, and we peer over the front stair railing to the front door.

It’s Olivia! Her face is pressed against the skinny window on the side of the door.

Pop rushes to let her in.

She’s dressed like a burglar–all in black: stocking cap pulled over her hair, braids piled into the cap so you can’t see the red, gym bag in one hand and her backpack loaded with books in the other.

She looks up at Pop and cries out, I’m lost and alone!  And then she crumples to the rug and starts sobbing.

This is one sad thing, I can tell you. Mimi and I race downstairs, and we kneel around her, patpatting and shooshing. After a while, she quiets down.

Mimi herds us away from the front door and into the sunroom. (Moon room would be a better name for tonight. It’s that bright.)

Pop mixes Ovaltine with milk. Here, drink this. (Ovaltine is our family’s crisis drink.) 

We all watch while she gulps it. She puts the mug down and looks at us.

Pop clears his throat. So. Olivia. What’s happening?


(I’ll finish this tomorrow, but Dad used to quote Shakespeare a lot and ’twas a rough night is a good last line for now.)




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