Tuesday, October 2, 2018

September ~ as it happened


When one never knows...
 'is it summer...

...or autumn'?

Those foggy mornings were a reminder that summer was coming to an end. 
The yellow petunias of summer came out last week...
and winter pansies took their place.

We are getting ready to switch seasons.

Tomatoes and cucumbers found their way to the pantry.

The grapes were finally ready to pick.

The hops are ripe for the pickin'...
though their only purpose over here is decor. :)

Bad things seem to happen on September 11th.
This year was no exception.
There was a bit of a septic tank issue...
and it turned out to be a major one.

We brought in the troops...
a plumber and friends with excavators...
and a few tractors from the farm.
After a dirty day in the trenches the problem was solved.
The landscaping may take awhile to recover!

Something good also happened on September 11th...
a very long time ago. :)
A child was born.

Though most of the day was not one he wants to remember...
he did get to enjoy a piece of cake at the end of the day.

And the soccer grands stopped by to wish him happy birthday...
and sample the cake.

My dad turned 96!
He likes a party...and he deserves one.

We gathered the troops ...
the 40 of us who live in the valley and celebrated our dad, grandpa and great-grandpa.

We never know what tomorrow may bring...
but we celebrate today.

The hummingbirds thought it was still summer.

September is a busy month on the farm.

The grass fields were all cut one last time.

The corn was harvested and is now in the bunker.

There were more celebrations and events...
class reunions and anniversaries.

John and Marg had many reasons to celebrate...
including 45 years of marriage.

They set up the tents and the tables...
put on a feast...
and invited friends to gather!

What a fun time!

Maggie turned 10.

We had a bit of a celebration here with all the cousins...
on what was likely the last day summer-like day of the year.

We enjoyed many evenings on the back patio...
with the tabletop heater going once the sun went down.

Those days will soon be over for this year!

It seemed the leaves on our oak tree literally turned colour before my eyes last week. 

Autumn is a second spring...
when every leaf is a flower.
A. Camus

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Mediterranean Cruise finale ~ Rome

How do you spend three days in Rome...the historic city that ranks among the world's most visited places?

 Let's start by getting there.

We disembarked from our cruise ship in Venice and took a cab to the train station.  Never mind that the driver could not speak English and we could not speak Italian. We got to the train station...although it was not the one listed on our tickets.  No worries.  We figured things out and played cards while we waited for the train.  Did you know that it is much easier to 'figure things out' when we put six heads together?  It was a fast train to Venice...too fast to take photos of the Italian countryside as we whizzed by.

Once in Rome, we were only about a 15 minute walk from our hotel...which was off a back alley near the Coliseum.  That 15 minute walk took us much longer than 15 minutes though...since we were led astray a few times while toting our suitcases.

The Coliseum was most impressive.  It is the largest amphitheatre in the world.

We did not have advance tickets but went first thing in the morning...before the long line-ups.  

We were on a 'self-guided tour' of sorts...Lovella had the Rick Steves guide book in hand and kept us informed as we strolled.  It worked well!

Built in Roman times as a space for holding public events, the Coliseum is most famous for being the home of gladiators, who would battle it out in front of large audiences of up to  80,000 people.

It was rather sobering to know that early Christians lost their lives here. This cross was erected to commemorate the Christian martyrs.

Next to the Coliseum is the Arch of Constantine ~ a triumphal arch built in 315 AD.

When in Rome...do what the tourists do!

Eat pasta and pizza and Caprese salad.  Always dine at a sidewalk cafe.

And if the chairs are red...be sure to stop!

Visit the famous fountains of Rome.

Spend some time at the Piazza Navona...a beautiful piazza square surrounded by restaurants and shops, street artists, painters and musicians. And fountains.  Four of them!

Apparently no trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain.  We were on a self-guided walking tour (wandering aimlessly) and  just stumbled upon it. Massive, lovely, old and and a steady source of income for charity (the coins tossed into the water are collected nightly).

Be entertained.

Stop and listen for awhile.

Be sure to visit the Pope.

And if  the street entertainers don't make you smile...he will!

Have no fear...as there are sentries on duty at every corner.

Walk everywhere...on cobblestone streets through narrow alleyways.

Have gelato at least once a day.

Look up...and see the ivy.

 And if you need to take a break...be prepared to pay.

Check out the largest statue in the city...that of King Vittorio Emanuele II on a horse.  It is 40 feet high and stands in front of a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.  From the terraces of the monument we enjoyed great views of the city!

Be sure not to leave Rome until you have seen the Pantheon.

We just sort of happened upon this amazing place by accident...

...and were quite surprised that we could tour the Pantheon without tickets. This Roman temple was commissioned during the reign of Agrippa (27BC - 14 AD) and and completed in 126 AD. It is one of the best -preserved ancient Roman buildings and has been in constant use over the years. After almost 2000 years it is still the world's largest un-reinforced concrete dome.

And last but nor least...when in Rome one must see the Vatican City.  And the Sistine Chapel.

We had pre-booked a tour to avoid having to wait in line..but found ourselves in a queue at every step of our tour.

The Vatican museum has a vast collection of old and famous art but on the courtyard is a modern sculpture that caught my eye.  It is known as the 'sphere within a sphere'...the inner ball represents the Earth and outer ball represents Christianity. It stands in stark contrast to everything around it.

Visitors to the Vatican come from every country, faith and walk of life.

After some four hours we had 'seen it all' and exited the Vatican through St. Peter's square with its 284 columns that flank the square. It was a quiet day on the square...upwards of 300,000 people gather here for major events.

Farewell to Rome...and on to home.

Thanks for joining me as I re-capped our Mediterranean adventures...our journey 'back in time' in so many ways.  If you missed our other ports of call, click on the links: Venice, Croatia, Greek Islands.