Friday, September 30, 2011

Time Shifting

The thing about time shifting (switching your sleep schedule to your destination time before departing) is, you can't just sit around and wait until everyone else wakes up to start doing things. If you did, you'd never get everything done that needs doing. Especially with a 6 hour time difference.

That means loading the dishwasher and making a pitcher of iced tea in the middle of the night while your husband is sleeping. It means shop vacuuming the basement before dawn. It also means the very real possibility of needing a second breakfast and a second pot of coffee.

At bedtime (while the sun is still shining), it means earplugs, an eyemask and gratefulness for blackout curtains.

Here's the song that was on my mind as I went to sleep yesterday and arose in the darkness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarf

I took this photo yesterday to text to my friend Beth Rene'. She gave me this scarf purchased this summer during her trip to Europe. She wore it in Paris, Strasbourg and Stuttgart. I look forward to wearing it in Florence and Siena!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Don't Like Shopping

This dog was feeling exactly the same way I was about a trip to the mall. At least he got to stay outside under a shade tree, sitting in a nice convertible! I had to laugh when I pulled up beside him and this is the look I got.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fighting Jetlag in Advance

At our house we are night owls. I already had a natural proclivity towards being a night owl, but Mitch is even worse and in recent times we have wound up staying awake until 2 and even 3 am! That's really not good for me, because when night falls, so does my energy and I don't get as much done in a day.

I'd been getting up with Mitch at 9 or 10 am. That's 4 in the afternoon in Florence, and I want to be in the museums EARLY to beat crowds.

The past few weeks I started adjusting my sleep times. The first week I bumped it by 2 hours, from 10 am to 8 am. I found that a 2 hour jump is really hard. One hour change is much easier (and this is borne out by a NASA study I read about).

Sunday I made it to 6 am. Still only noon in Florence, but I'm not done yet. Next week I'll be at 5 am. Later, I am going to try advice I read online and bump it one hour a night for the 3 days before leaving.

Mitch? He's still sleeping until 9 or 10!

Here's what it looked like in my yard at 6 am this morning.

I try to be quiet so I won't disturb Mitch's sleep (even though he woke me up twice crashing into things during the night last night). I've been journaling or drawing in the morning. I already used up a third of my travel journal with pre-trip journaling activities so I figured I'd better switch to a different journal before I have no room in my trip journal! I dug out my old leather journal and luckily there was a brand new blank book in it, thank you past-Me.

I photocopied some of the journaling exercises from the book, "Globejotting: How To Write Extraordinary Travel Journals" by Dave Fox and pasted them in. It's a VERY useful book, and funny too! I'm also really enjoying "Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler" by Lavinia Spalding. Not only will trip journaling help me remember everything more vividly and bring lots of enjoyment, it will be a great souvenir.

Time for more coffee! It's only 7:30 and Mitch is still snoring.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Maps, Beautiful Maps!

Last night I read a travel journal idea and put it into action this morning. Paste a map of where you are going into the front of your journal, and as you travel, mark where you have been. Oooh! I think I'll go paste a map of Siena, where we will have a day trip, into the back cover of my journal. I'm going to look for a small self-inking stamp in the shape of a star outline to mark on my maps.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Learning From Memories

I'm drawing this well-known statue that is in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, for my first try at watercolor. As I was drawing, I remembered my maternal grandfather, Bud Cowart, drawing right on top of faces in magazines. I tried it with the statue photo and it really helps. It gets the shape into your hand, and increases understanding of proportion. I'm so glad I saw him doing that. He's been gone for many years, but I still remember.

Here's a portrait that he drew of a younger me. He was an awesome self-taught artist, and did a lot of portraits.

Here's a photo of Bud when he was younger. His eyes were blue. Looks like a good photo for me to do a portrait of him!

Finding Your Neighborhood Bar

This morning I read a travel blog about a woman's solo trip to Italy. During the "pausa" or rest time in the afternoon, she would hang out in Italian bars to pass the time. In Italy, bars are not like bars in the States. They also have coffee and food, and are hangout places for everyone. People go to the bar for breakfast, and any other time of the day.

The travel blogger wrote about how someone advised her to find her "neighborhood bar" while she was on her trip. What a great idea! I hope to do that in Florence.

And I immediately knew where my neighborhood cafes are in San Francisco, after only one trip (in 2009). The first one is Boulangerie du Polk on Russian Hill, where I spent a wonderful morning with a cappuchino in a bowl and a croissant, people-watching. People even brought their dogs inside. I overheard a man behind me tell someone who had called his cell phone that he could not talk, he was eating breakfast! He quickly made arrangements to call back and HUNG UP! You don't see that very often...people enjoying their food and putting down the phone.

The stream of people into this Boulangerie testifies how good it is. It's at 2300 Polk on Russian Hill.

After I left Boulangerie du Polk, I spotted some of the wild parrots having their own breakfast.

I walked a lot of hills (naturally! It's San Francisco!) until I found my next cafe' in North Beach.

Caffe' Trieste. I LOVE THIS PLACE! It has coffee, sandwiches, pastries and who knows what-all. They play opera. Supposedly Coppola wrote part of The Godfather in here. Sitting down in close quarters, people on both sides of me talked to me! It was very convivial.

I didn't write a masterpiece in here, but I did knit part of a sock. On another day when I brought Mitch here, we didn't go in because of the long line to get in. North Beach was definitely my favorite neighborhood.

One of the photos I took near Caffe' Trieste.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Short Phone Video of Where We Walked Last Weekend

Last weekend Mitch and I went for a 3 mile stroll at the Rails to Trails walkway in Tallulah Falls, north Georgia. Here we are, and a short cell phone video of what we saw walking there along the Tallulah River.

I Know What I Am Doing The Rest Of This Week

Today I went to a nearby park where I did my running training this past winter. It's finally cooled off enough that I will run outside again. Today I realized, it's cool enough to run, but still hot enough to swim! And all the kiddies are in school so it was pretty empty at the park's swimming beach.

I ran down the road next to the swimming beach...completely empty.

Over the dam and up the hill! I saw Bambi cross the road while I was running, wish I could have gotten a photo.

When I came back, a mom and daughter the same age as my mom and me had arrived. Daughter went running or walking with a bikini on under her exercise clothes and mom journaled. I'm bringing my bathing suit next time!

I went down to the lake to soak my feet. A guy about my dad's age appeared and started swimming laps with a Garmin. He had timed rest breaks. Just like me and running! I bet swim floats are on sale right now...I'm going to spend the rest of the week at the lake, running and then jumping in. It's finally time for *my* summer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fun With Travel Journaling

Looking forward to my trip to Florence, Italy by starting to sketch in my travel journal. I plan to hike up both this Duomo and the Campanile (Giotto's Tower). The dome is 330 feet high and the tower is 270 feet high. According to an online converter I found, that means the dome is 30 stories high and the tower is 24 stories! There are NO elevators. YES, I have been exercising in advance. I wonder if there are t-shirts that say, "I survived Brunelleschi's Dome"?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Starting to Sketch in My Travel Journal

Today I started my first sketch inside my travel journal. I'm thinking I may have to work a lot from my own photographs during the trip, because I'm not fast enough yet to sketch on the go. Hopefully with practice, I will be. This sketch is working from a photo I found online.

I remember when I first started knitting. There was a lot to remember, and a lot I didn't understand. It took a lot of time and concentration at first. Learning to sketch feels like that, and just like when I was learning to knit, I have to do it in small doses. Thank goodness, I did learn how to knit (and crochet), so I am resisting the impulse to give up on drawing. Learning to knit is one of the best things I ever learned. I'm hoping drawing will be, too. And after that, watercolor!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Still Practicing

I'm still working on the exercises from the book, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". My mom creates watercolor postcards sometimes when she travels, and I hope to follow suit.

Pistachio Gelato Shawl

Finished knitting my shawl that I plan on wearing during our trip to Florence, Italy. I'm calling it the Pistachio Gelato Shawl, and I plan on eating a scoop while I am there!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Jet Lagging Myself In Advance & Travel Journaling

Ugh! Not feeling my best because I am adjusting my sleep schedule prior to our Italy trip. We are already night people, so just switching to morning is hard enough without a 6 hour time difference to Europe. I've gotten up when I planned to for the past 3 days, but last night I was still up late. Mitch isn't trying to switch his sleep schedule so that makes it harder. Usually we are up until around 2 AM and sleep until 10 AM. I'm now getting up at 7:45 and I plan on bumping it to 7 next week, then 6 and so on. I'd rather feel tired and grumpy at home than on my trip.

I've already started my travel journal. I'm using ideas from Dave Fox's book, "Globejotting". I also have seen Italian art shows here in the States. Earlier in the year I saw a fantastic exhibition of Venetian paintings by Titian and others at the High museum in Atlanta. I saw a Vatican exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale. But best of all was an exhibit of watercolor block prints by Salvadore Dali, who illustrated Dante's "Divine Comedy". Mitch and I saw that one with our friends Beth Rene' and Hajro, right here in Athens! FOR FREE at the Georgia Museum! Mitch and I went back a second time too.

Beth Rene', Hajro and Mitch checking out the levels of Dante's Hell.

One of the journaling exercises from Globejotting is to come up with daily themes for your writing, rather than just a blow-by-blow account of what you are doing. I think it's a good idea, and will help with photography too. So far I have brainstormed 67 theme ideas. More than I need!

Here's a sample:

Relics (we're going to see St. Catherine's actual shrunken head in Siena, and Galileo's middle finger in his Florence museum...pointing towards Rome)

Counting the Davids (there's a lot of David reproductions and kitsch

Climbing towers and domes

Food and Drink

Riding a bus through Tuscany

Martyrs and Legends

Things Seen Above (there's statues, family crests and more up high on the walls)

La passeggiata (custom of evening walks to see and be seen

Famous Artists and Sidewalk Artists


People in Uniform

Sunrises and Sunsets



Even with this sample list, I have more themes than trip days! Here's a photo of that famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. I can't wait to see it in person.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Learning to Draw

When my mom travels, sometimes she will paint watercolor postcards of where she is and send them to us. I love receiving a mini painting and it seems like a really fun way to experience where you are while traveling...I'd like to be able to do it too.

To that end, I have been working with the exercises in "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". I used this book 20 years or so ago and got good results, but did not keep up with it.

In more recent years, I have taught myself to knit and crochet. Previously knitting seemed completely mysterious and out of reach. But I learned through practice how to do it and now I can knit and read a book at the same time! (Book held in a cookbook holder.)

Hopefully practice will allow me to create travel sketches. I sure hope so!

Here is a "Before" drawing of my hand that I did recently, followed by one that I did after only a few exercises from the book (and only 5 exercise drawings between the two). I have a long way to go but I am thrilled with the obvious progress in only a short time.