Thursday, August 16, 2012

Offbeat Art, With Some Lost in Translation

More photos from la bella Napoli, with more fact, I observed so much life in Napoli it would take months of posts to do it justice. You had better go and experience it yourself. :-)

One of the repeating themes of Naples (entirely open to interpretation, I might add) was the graffiti, and this character was one of more than a dozen similar figures I saw in red, white, blue, and black. They were all clownish stylized figures, and this one made me think it might be related to a football club, but I can't find anything on it, at least not by searching in English.
Here is another one, which might be related by the colors and shapes. Anyone have theories? I like the whimsical design. This picture was at Porta Medina in Naples, as you might be able to see on the hundreds-of-years-old sign there...

I tried to pay attention to these signs, but there were so many! Naples is crammed with so many layers of history and competing cultures that while it is very easy to find something peculiar and charming, it is difficult to determine the origin of that thing. Well, usually. Not so for the historical courtyards, which are marked by marble signs on the street, as proper as any town of antiquity. This was my favorite: simply an inner courtyard, now for parking, that used to gently welcome its inhabitants home with the sound of water and the pleasing elegance of stately painted columns. (I think that's supposed to be a stag, but its ears to the side do give it the look of a donkey, don't they?) Ah, the life of a courtier, eh?
More like:
"Ah, the life of the imagination, that can fling its arms to a distant past and feel the air and in so doing, understand how much things can change, and have changed, and will change again."
That's one of my favorite lines of thought while out traveling the world: what happened here? What did life used to be like? How do people here cope now?

This is what happens when you travel alone for long stretches of time, evidently. 

Finally, there was the art that was lost in translation, which I here offer up for your perplexitude...
What does one eat there?

Halb fub or half foot fruit? It makes a big difference!

I love quirky finds, both animal and mineral, from trips to new places. What have your adventures brought to your notice recently- real or imaginary?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dog Days of Summer, Italian translation

**Last Call!**

I will be hosting one final cooking class on Southern Italy in August, so email me now to reserve a space!

This class will focus on Southern Italian foods and cultural foodways, which I learned a lot about while in Naples, Sorrento, and Sicily this spring. Instead of cooking for today though, I am throwing in some whimsy from the trip...

First of all, it was not that hot in the Bay of Naples, where these photos were taken, but the dogs of the neighborhoods I visited obviously thought otherwise. There were plenty of them sprawled out on the streets, too pooped to acknowledge the passersby.

This is my favorite -- such a dramatic scene! I picture an acting out of the Romeo and Juliet balcony lines (this is in the vicinity of Verona, after all), but I'm pretty sure it's just another lazy dog.

This one, poor dear, I saw in a back alley of Pozzuoli, I think behind a hairdresser's, as a matter of fact. I tried to snap the photo before the dog could turn its mournful eyes on me and entreat me to leave it some dignity.

Finally, crossing a busy street in Naples, I had to move fast to catch this crowd! I can't think that he's a dogwalker with that preppy sweater placement, but do you think they could really be all his dogs? Perhaps we've found the equivalent of the Crazy Cat Lady...

I do love finding the quirky 'side dishes' of travel: those unexpected humorous moments can be what you remember years down the line, laughing until you cry with those you love (remember that fish in the buffet at the Grand Canyon, Dad?).

So remember, it's fine to have goals -- sights to see, places to dine -- but don't forget to stop and take in what the city or country is putting right in front of you for your enjoyment!

Happy summer travels, readers, and don't forget to sign up or spread the word about the last class in August!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Planting Seeds on that Rocky Road to Adventure

I'm still thinking about the road to adventure... it's a road, not a destination... it's a rocky road... not like the ice cream... come on, join me in the Association game! (love it)

Quite a rocky road indeed... Photo source

And on this rocky road, there are disappointments-- no getting around it-- hence the support system (mine embodied by the teacup symbol) and also the need for a system or structure to mitigate the ups and downs.

Another quote that recently piqued my interest as it made the rounds of my twitter-verse actually made me mad when I first read it (totally because of my mindset/ attitude at the time), and it also gets at the need for such a structure:

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." -Robert Louis Stevenson

What made me angry was that I was feeling particularly used up at that moment, without any more seeds to plant (seeds being creative energy/ motivation in this metaphor), and wishing awfully for some trees to start dropping some fruit my way. 

Someone else mentioned in response (love the twitter-verse for that) that you don't want to dip into your seed corn (seed corn here meaning your inner reserves, what you count on for next year's 'food supply' of work) when planting, to which I gave a hearty "Hear, hear!" If you did, there would be nothing left, which means it's unsustainable.

Photo Source

So what qualify as seeds for planting? How do you set up such a system, so that you can weather the ups and downs of life? Try these activities, one of which usually gives me a jump-start back into happy productivity:

Planning / Strategizing: this means establishing and mapping out goals, then backtracking (a la Barbara Sher) the necessary steps to come up with...

Baby steps! These are the little seeds of progress toward the goal you've established: writing an article each week, calling the blog-hosting company for details, asking for a reference, etc. After a lot of these, you've earned...

Breaks from the plodding pace of baby steps that replenish your creative core: attending a writing conference, having a dinner out with friends, and meditating are all fine examples of activities that will, for different types of people, refuel their energy (search for Myers-Briggs introvert vs. extrovert descriptions if you're curious about this). After a bout of this, you'll be ready to return to...

All that background noise. This includes those unpleasant tasks that never seem to make it to the top of your to-do list: decluttering, going to the bank to start that retirement account, asking for help, maybe it's cleaning your bathroom. It's different for everyone, but it's a sure thing that there is some thing hanging over your head like a personal raincloud. Do it. You'll feel better.

And if none of those work, maybe you just need to turn your brain off.