Thursday, 15 November 2018

Vintage Connections... Wearable and Otherwise

Hope you don't mind, my friends, but this is a "reprise" post. I'm still at Mum's and we've been busy with no time to blog. I missed the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show this year because I was in Fredericton. Next year I'll be there, hopefully.

Sunday an old friend and I attended the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show. This is what I wore. Yep, I finally, finally mustered my courage and wore one of my vintage hats... out in public. I love vintage hats. But, I buy them, plan an outfit around them, and then at the last minute chicken out before I make it out the door. Not this time.

woman in black jacket and pants, on a lawn with river behind
On my way to the Vintage Clothing Show, in black and vintage.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Time Marches On and All That

You might know, if you read my last post, that I'm home in New Brunswick for the next while, visiting my Mum. As I sit in Mum's kitchen this morning pondering how to begin this post, I keep thinking of that Hilary Clinton book It Takes a Village. Because I've been saying all week to my mum that it takes a village to care for us, not just when we're young, but when we get old as well.

When we're young, most of us have parents, extended family if we're lucky, teachers, family doctors, and even the guy who drives the school bus to care for us. It takes a community of people to help children to grow and learn, and be safe and happy. 

The picture below is of my grandfather and grandmother Sullivan and most of their family. It was taken sometime in the nineteen-thirties when there were still two more sons to come, plus twins who died in infancy. That's my mum nestled up beside Grammy, with the cheeky grin on her face. I always smile when I look at this picture. At how my grandfather's hair looks as if it has a life of its own. At how my uncle Pius Jr. (who we all called Buddy) standing in front of Grampy, in his rubber boots, with his hands clenched into fists, looks like he stepped out of an episode of "Spanky and Our Gang."

You'd certainly need a village to raise this brood: extended family, older siblings looking after younger ones, neighbours, even the town cop. I remember Mum telling me the story of her weekend job at the Rainbow Diner during high school, how she got off work at midnight, and had to run all the way home to get there before they turned the streetlights out. How the town cop had to climb the tall pole in front of the Catholic Church to throw the switch. And how he'd always wait for her, hear her running footsteps, and then watch to see that she made it home safely before he put out the lights. I love that story.

I think we all accept that it takes a whole wack of people to care for the young. But, you know, I think we too easily forget that it takes a village to care for us when we get old. As the independence so hard won when we were growing up begins to fall away, we need more and more help. And sometimes, these days, that help is hard to find, hard to find the people to fill all the roles that need filling, and hard to then make all the pieces work together. 

That's what we've been doing this week... well, me actually... trying to make all the pieces work together for Mum.  And it's been frustrating and labourious. Phone calls, appointments, more phone calls, and talking, talking, talking. I want mum to be safe and healthy, to be able to stay in her home, and to have some pleasure in her life. But for that to happen she needs help, more help as time marches on, of course.

I've used my "teacher voice" more times in the past week than I have in years. That's the cheerfully aggressive voice I employed at school when I had to deal with a recalcitrant student or an overbearing parent. Big smile, make my point, don't give in, try not to alienate anyone. As a typical youngest child, cheerfulness comes naturally to me; smiling, dancing, waving my arms, entertaining all the grown-ups is my default role. But tenacity, implacably holding my ground, being assertive, telling people what they don't want to hear, or don't agree with, not so much. In fact it's exhausting. 

But we've made progress. We've ironed out some issues, hopefully. I've spoken to the social worker from the government (finally.) We have an appointment for the nurse from the home-care agency to visit us and discuss Mum's changing needs. We've been to the doctor, organized some physiotherapy for next week so she can begin to gain back some strength, arranged to go see about a hearing aid (hallelujah). And in between we've been to the pharmacy, to the grocery store a few times, stocking up her cupboard, making nutritious meals each night with extra portions so we can restock her freezer with frozen meals. And... perhaps most importantly... we've been to see Gus at his bookstore and she now has a raft of reading material. 

Walking trail along the Saint John River

Of course the whole week hasn't been fraught and frustrating. The weather has been beautiful and I've been able to walk the trail along the river on several days. Mum and I have watched the entire 1995 Pride and Prejudice series we love. Although one night we overdid it, watched three episodes, and Mum was so tired that she was shaking as she wobbled her way to bed. I keep forgetting that she's ninety-one, and frankly, so does she.  

This morning as Mum and I were talking over our breakfast tea, and later while we did laundry, and changed beds, and redecorated her bedroom a little, we reminisced. As we are wont to do. And we talked about the whole idea of caring for the elderly. About Mrs. Sims, an old lady who lived alone in Mum's neighbourhood when she was a kid. When Mum was about thirteen, she helped Mrs. Sims on Saturdays doing housework, dusting, and whatever else needed doing. And my uncle Buddy, a year younger than Mum, was charged with visiting Mrs. Sims every morning before school in the winter to stoke and light her furnace. Do kids still do that, take on odd jobs to help out seniors in their community? 

Uncle Buddy was always good at helping out. I remember the year my step-father died, he did all kinds of stuff around the old farmhouse for Mum. We still laugh about the time he arrived at eight in the morning to take the storm windows off in the old cellar, and put on the screens. The tea pot was hot, and the home made doughnuts were fresh from the day before. We sat drinking tea, eating doughnuts, and listening to Uncle Buddy's stories until at least ten-thirty. He could talk the leg off an iron pot, as my grandmother used to say. All the time smoking furiously, so that by the time he decamped to do what he came to do, the kitchen was a fug of cigarette smoke. 

Uncle Buddy's gone now. He died while Hubby and I were away in France in 2015. All Mum's brothers and sisters are gone, except a much younger brother who lives far away. So many important people in her life: her favourite cousins, old friends, even younger friends, and now my brother are all gone. But Mum soldiers on. 

And I think it's my job to make sure that Mum has a village to help her soldier on. If we can just get all the moving parts of her life to work together, get everyone who is charged with a task to do it, and do it the way we agreed, and in a manner that is best for her... well... that would be wonderful. 

I'm sure many of you are in the same position as me, trying to help manage the moving parts of someone else's life from afar, trying to get as much done as you can when you visit and hope the pieces don't fall apart when you go home, trying to be helpful and do what needs to be done without taking over completely. Because I want to be very clear about one thing, Mum is still master of her own life. She doesn't need to be "looked after"... she looks after herself. 

She just needs some help. 

Now, it's very late. I've been writing this post off and on since this morning. Right now I'm tucked up in bed, still typing. I can hear the wind blowing against the side of the house... makes me feel sleepy and cosy. I should probably finish this and turn out the light. Thanks, as always, for listening. 

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Sunday, 4 November 2018

When the Skies of November Turn Gloomy

What should one do when, in the words of the famous Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, "the skies of November turn gloomy?" How will you manage when the temperature drops, the rain lashes your windows, and you haven't seen the sun in days? Actually, I think you know the answer to that question perfectly well. Read, people, read. Build a big fire in the fireplace, make a pot of tea, snuggle up with your significant other, and read. 

Last of the fall  leaves along the Rideau Valley Conservation Society walking trail
Weak sunlight and fallen leaves on my walk the other day
And I have just the book for gloomy weather and troubled times. Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Christopher Buckley writes in The New York Times that Less is the "funniest, smartest, and most humane novel" he's read in a long time. I would agree.

The title character Arthur Less is a middle-aged writer, about to turn fifty. His long-time publisher has rejected his latest novel, and his younger lover has ditched him and is about to marry someone else. Oh, and he's gay. But that fact while integral to the story of Arthur's life, of course, seems relatively unimportant to the reader. That's because, to the reader, Arthur Less is simply a lovely man struggling with life and love. When Less gets an invitation to his former lover's wedding he decides to be conveniently out of the country when the event takes place. So, feeling dejected, rejected, old, and quite possibly a total failure at life, he decides to accept a myriad of invitations to literary events across the globe. Hauling from his desk drawer invitations he has heretofore ignored, Less pieces together a weird odyssey from Mexico City, to Italy, Berlin, Morocco, Southern India, and on to Kyoto, criss-crossing continents doing all manner of literary and non-literary things, teaching a short creative writing course to university students in Berlin or riding a camel train in Morocco. And while doing so he rewrites and repairs his latest book, and pretty much heals himself in the process.

Rainy dark day on the Rideau River
Too damp and gloomy to walk today.
I adored Arthur Less. He reminded me of another hapless protagonist I remembered from my university days when I read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. When Less takes a sleeping pill while flying and stumbles off the plane and through one airport after another in a memory-erasing fog, I was reminded of my favorite scene from Lucky Jim. The one where Jim has to give a lecture to students, staff, and guests at the school where he teaches, takes too much sherry at the reception beforehand to bolster his courage, and stands clutching the lectern, weaving, and unconsciously imitating the voices of his principal and other worthies, at the same time watching himself in horror, unable to stop as he sinks his career. I love that scene. But I must say I found Arthur Less much more lovable, and less exasperating than Jim Dixon. 

cover of Andrew Sean Greer's novel Less

I can't say enough good things about Less. Recently at my book club meeting, I gushed, and gabbled, and pretty much took over the conversation. I'm sure the ladies were quite tired of the sound of my raptures by the end of the afternoon, especially since not all of them shared my opinion. My love of Greer's plot and character, and his wonderful depiction of setting as Less criss-crosses the globe, were enhanced by Greer's beautiful writing. He is a master stylist. Writing lyrical passages with a deft hand, never over-egging the metaphor. Ha. I earmarked way too many passages to transcribe in this post. But, if you want more detail, take a look at Christopher Buckley's review here

At the moment I'm currently reading Kate Atkinson's latest novel Transcription. I'm a huge Kate Atkinson fan, as you might know if you've read my reviews of her books here. This novel begins when Juliet Armstrong is hit by a car in the midsummer twilight in 1981, as she returns home from a concert. Lying on the pavement she thinks: "there was no way out from this. She was just sixty years old, although it had probably been a long enough life," although it suddenly all feels like "an illusion, a dream that had happened to someone else." And thus the reader is catapulted into Juliet's "dream." Back to post-war London, when she worked for the BBC, and before that to wartime London, when she'd been a naive eighteen-year-old recruited by MI5. 

cover of Kate Atkinson's newest book Transcription

Atkinson's plot moves back and forth among the various time periods. Juliet's life in 1950 post-war London and her mundane job at the BBC seem bleak. But Atkinson is such a skilled writer that she draws us into the mundanity of Juliet's life, her wry humour, and her older-than-her-years ennui. During the work week, she eats her solitary lunch on a bench, her homemade sandwich "a pale, limp thing, a long way from the déjeuner sur l'herbe of her imagination that morning. Later we follow Juliet for coffee at a café she's frequented since before the war, where she muses that the café was a "thread in the labyrinth, one that she could follow back to the world before the war, to her self before the war. Innocence and experience butting up against each other in the greasy fug of Moretti's." She supposes "there was a better life somewhere... if only she could be bothered to find it." 

Life as an MI5 recruit at the beginning of the war is mundane too. Juliet's job is to transcribe taped conversations held between an MI5 operative and so-called "fifth columnists", German sympathizers. At first her job is mind-numbingly boring, listening to scratchy almost inaudible conversations about nothing even remotely important. Then she is drawn into undercover work, and feels as if she is living out a story from one of her childhood Girls Own adventure stories. False identities, secret code words, and invisible ink. Attending parties dressed in borrowed jewels, drinking with fellow, young MI5 agents and then stumbling home clutching each other, giggling in the darkness of the black-out. And then things get very real. And much more complicated, as we knew they would. 

I'm only about half-way through the novel, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I love how Juliet is so quiet, innocent, and seemingly compliant, but also wry and given to quoting Shakespeare at inopportune moments. She reminds me of a Barbara Pym character, if Pym had ever written about an "excellent woman" who becomes a spy. If you've read Pym you'll know what I mean. If not, then let me just say that it's folly to underestimate a character who is very easily underestimated. Spinsters, dedicated church ladies, single young women who quote Shakespeare... all can have hidden resources. 

rain on the branches along the Osgoode Trail
Autumn rain and bare branches mean it's time to light the fire, and settle in with your book. 
So that's how I'm coping with the gloomy skies of November, my friends. Reading, sipping tea, warming my feet by the fire. And singing Gordon Lightfoot songs in my head.

"Superior they said never gives up her dead/ When the gales of November come early." I love Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a ballad so beautifully written that the lines keep swirling in my head, snatches of disembodied verse from the song he wrote in the seventies about a ship that went down on Lake Superior when the real "gales of November came early" in 1975. If you're Canadian you'll already know that, of course. Every Canadian knows at least a couple of Lightfoot songs. Or they should. Have a listen.

Speaking of lyrics swirling in my head. When Hubby and I were flying back from Rome a couple of weeks ago, the flight attendant announced that due to turbulence they couldn't serve us tea or coffee, and I leaned over to Hubby and whispered "When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'/ Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya." And when he ignored me, I continued: "At seven pm a main hatchway caved in, he said/ Fellas, it's been good to know ya." I may have received a dirty look at that moment. Ha. Okay, okay, I concede that's not the best song to be singing when mid-way over the Atlantic. 

Now, I must go and finish my packing. I'm heading off tomorrow for two weeks in the east at my mum's. My books and my boots were the first things in the suitcase. 

Gloomy November skies, no matter where they are, call for a long walk if it's not raining, followed by a good book, and a hot cup of tea. Don't you think? 

What have you been reading lately, my friends? 

Linking up with #ShareAllLinkUp and Thursday Favourite Things

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Fall Rhapsody in My Closet

Fall is glorious in our neck of the woods. It's my favourite season. Not just because of Hubby's return to his rightful place in the kitchen, our very own version of "Return of the King," without the hobbits. Ha. But also because of the glorious fall colours, on the trees, as well as in my closet. 

Like the colour of my new (new-ish, now) Uniqlo light down vest. I love this piece. I love the rich burgundy, the weightlessness, the fact that it's not too tight but not too bulky, the length which covers just enough of what needs to be covered, and the added warmth it provides. 

I wore this vest a lot in Italy, with jeans, sneakers (d'uh), a striped cotton sweater from Massimo Dutti, and my Burberry scarf.  I chose the colour of the vest to go with my Max Mara tweed fall coat, and hopefully with my burgundy Akris turtleneck from last year. It works beautifully with both. And I've worn it pretty much constantly since we came home. 

woman in burgundy sweater and vest, scarf and blue jeans, standing under a tree amidst fallen leaves.
Heading out to meet my "To Hell with the Bell" lunch group last week
To lunch with former colleagues the other day, I wore the Uniqlo vest, dark-washed Paige high-rise jeans, my navy, red, and grey Burberry scarf, my new Paul Green loafers, and my burgundy Akris sweater. You know, this vest could have been made for my Akris sweater. The colours work perfectly, and I like the longer length of the sweater under the vest. It elongates my torso... and keeps the vest from looking too puffy. 

Not the most scenic spot for photos, is it? You can see, just by my left foot, our black hose pipe needed to accommodate the sump pump which has to be drained away from the house in the winter. And in the shot below, our neighbour's similar black hose pipe behind me. Plus their step-ladder, and their garden shed. You might even be able to make out the upended wheel barrow. One never noticed these things until one started taking shots for a blog. Why can't I have a lovely, scenic brick wall in my backyard? 

woman in burgundy sweater and vest, scarf, and khaki jeans, standing under a tree amidst fallen leaves.
Love this burgundy and khaki green combination
For a shopping and errand-running trip earlier this week, I changed up the Paige jeans for my khaki Massimo Dutti skinny jeans, and this green and pink wool scarf that I bought at Chatsworth last fall. The green in the scarf looks great with my jeans, I think, and the pink works with the burgundy. 

I love this double-faced scarf. Partly for the colours (it's a beautiful teal on the other side) but mostly because it's from Chatsworth. It must be a pattern that's used throughout the Chatsworth Estate because, after I bought it and carried it back to the Devonshire Arms, I noticed it exactly matched the woolen blankets at the foot of the beds in our room. I wore it to dinner that night in the pub and wondered if the wait-staff thought I might have been wearing the blanket off my bed. Ha. 

woman in burgundy sweater and vest, scarf, and khaki jeans, standing under a tree amidst fallen leaves.
Giving Hubby a sidelong glance. 
Now a word or two about my new Paul Green shoes. 

Thanks to Liz for finding these burgundy loafers, and for making me try them on when I met her at Nordstrom for coffee in September. This is the conversation that ensued.

Liz: Thought you might like these loafers. They're a great deal. Me... looking askance: I don't need another pair of shoes. Liz: Just try them. Me: But I already have red loafers. Liz: Those are red with white soles, for spring and summer. You can't wear them in the fall. Just try them. Me: I know, I know. Okay, I'll just try them. Me: Oh. Me: Sigh. Me: I love them. Me again: How much? Me... finally: You're right. I totally need these. 

And you know, I did need them. They update a ton of things in my fall closet. They fill a niche in my wardrobe; all my other fall shoes are black. And they WERE a great deal. Marked way down because they'd come in for the Anniversary Sale and, now that the new Paul Green fall shoes were coming in, they had to go. So they were "Anniversary Sale" price with further discounts. Win, win, win for me. Sigh. What am I going to do when Liz decides to retire?

woman wearing burgundy sweater and down vest, scarf, khaki jeans and burgundy shoes sitting on the steps of a deck
Love my new burgundy loafers. The thick soles are super comfortable and those studs are very cool.

So with these burgundy loafers, my new-ish Uniqlo vest, and some of my other fall pieces, like my Akris sweater, and my Max Mara tweed coat I really do have a fall colour rhapsody in my closet. I'd totally forgotten that there is something called Fall Rhapsody here in Ottawa, until Suz from Vancouver mentioned it in a comment a couple of posts ago. Gatineau Park, across the river from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, is glorious in the fall, the wooded hills brilliant with oranges and reds and golds. I'm sorry we missed it this year. 

The shots for this post were taken on one of the rare sunny days we've had since we've been home, when the river was like glass, and the temperatures perfect for a woolly sweater and jeans. Now sadly, it's all rain, and more rain. With a few snow flurries thrown in. But I count us lucky that we're not still in Italy which has had a rough week weather-wise. Poor Venice. 

Mother nature sure is acting up these days, isn't she? Someone marvelled on an IG post about Venice, a day or so ago, that there are those who still deny that climate change is a thing. Hard to swallow that, I think,  naysayers saying nay in the face of so much evidence. But don't get me started on that. 

What about you, my friends? Any fall colours in your closet? Do tell us all about them. 

Linking up this week with: Visible Monday#IwillwearwhatIlikeTurning Heads Link-upStyle Me WednesdayThursday Favourite ThingsFabulous Friday#ShareAllLinkup.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Italy: Taking the Roads Less Travelled.

Snow is falling this morning, the leaves that haven't been raked yet are a sodden mess, and everything everywhere is melting and dripping. Hubby is up to his usual late fall tricks. It's too soppy and slippy to walk, or golf, and not cold enough to ski, so he's alternating between chopping wood for the fireplace, and cooking. I do love having a husband who is easily bored. Ha.

And I am... well... as you can see... venturing back to Italy. 

I left you last time just as Hubby and I were heading for the hills. Turning our attention away from the more popular places we'd been visiting, and venturing off onto roads that are far less travelled. Of course we'd been in the hills a lot since we'd left Florence. But nothing like the section of the Apennines we were headed for called the Gran Sasso d'Italia. Barren rocky peaks and high mountain grasslands, in particular the high plain called Campo Imperatore, or Little Tibet. 

Road up to Campo Imperatore, in the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range
Outside of L'Aquila, heading back down from Campo Imperatore
Once we left Amatrice we had no difficulties.  Hubby had worried for two days about roads, possible blockages, and maps (and people) that couldn't tell us what we needed to know. But he awoke in Norcia the morning we left having convinced himself overnight to expect the worst. And after we left Amatrice behind, the devastation there having put our own small concerns firmly in their place, we were determined to just enjoy our drive wherever it took us. 

As it happened we had a wonderful day. In fact, just being in this special place was well worth all the confusion and the angst. We stopped the car it seemed like a hundred times, just to get out, breath deeply, and goggle in wonder. We could have been alone in the world; just us two, a few sheep, some horses, and the sound of tinkling bells on the wind. Oddly enough, we heard the bells clearly, but couldn't see the animals wearing them, until Hubby spotted their tiny profiles on the crest of a far away hill. 

grassy pastures of the Campo Imperatore, in the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range
The view from our lunch spot on Campo Imperatore

Horses grazing on the Campo Imperatore, in the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range, Italy

Campo Imperatore, and the high peaks of the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range

Then a few miles later we spotted a herd of sheep and goats, a few dogs, and a lone herder, who was, ironically, yakking away on his cell phone. That made us laugh, and I got out to take a video. And as I was standing on the roadside by the sheep and goats, the sound of tinkling bells was broken by the roar of three motorcyclists who sped by, having, I assume, the ride of their lives. Then it was quiet again. Except for the bells and the sound of the herder's voice.

This was a seriously magical place. We wanted to sit down on a rock in that field and just be there. But we'd many more miles to cover that day. So we climbed back in the car and went on our way.  

Road down from Campo Imperatore, in the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range
The road back down from Campo Imperatore
Our road took us past the mountain town of Castel del Monte, below, a medieval town of fewer than five hundred people. We wished we'd not so far to go the next day or we might have stayed there, but it was far too early in the day to stop for the night. Next time, we told ourselves. Next time. Except that Hubby and I are too seasoned as travellers to imagine that the road not taken this time will be taken next time. What was it that Robert Frost said about "knowing how way leads on to way, [we] doubted if [we] should ever come back?" Sadly we usually come home from a trip with a longer list of places we still want to see than when we left. 

Hillside town of Castel Del Monte, Abruzzo, Italy
Hillside town of Castel Del Monte
Besides, we had a pilgrimage of sorts to undertake the next day. I very much wanted to see Ortona where my stepfather fought in World War II. Well, not exactly Ortona itself, but the Canadian War Cemetery there. 

We visited the Canadian War Memorial in Vimy when we were in France in 2015. If you're interested, Canadian writer Jane Urquahart wrote a wonderful novel called The Stone Carvers, about the building of that monument to the Canadian soldiers killed in the WWI battle at Vimy Ridge. I've loved the poetry and literature of WWI for years. 

Grave stones at Moro River Canadian War Cemetery in Ortona, Italy
The Moro River Canadian War Cemetery which overlooks the ocean. A beautiful spot. 
But Ortona has a more personal connection for me. I was moved to see, on the gravestones, the names of the Carleton-York Regiment based in Fredericton, and the West Nova Scotia Regiment which was my step-father's regiment. To see the names of men, and boys, whose hometown is my hometown. To see surnames which are familiar to me. Hubby and I were alone in the cemetery that morning except for two gardeners who kindly moved off and gave us space. I admit I shed a few tears. Not because I have any real connection to those boys who are buried there. My stepfather did not die in the war. But still, I knew he'd been here. Or close by. And these were his comrades. And I very much wished that he were still alive so I could tell him of our journey. 

 Monument at Moro River Canadian War Cemetery in Ortona, Italy
Part of the monument at Moro River Canadian War Cemetery near Ortona
We didn't linger too long at the Moro River Cemetery, but let the gardeners get back to work, and carried on down the coast. We were bound for a town called Vieste on the Promontorio del Gargano, a peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic Sea. Winding narrow roads, chalky cliffs, empty beaches, and a charming old town. We felt as if we'd washed up in travellers' paradise. Well, paradise for travellers like us who were sick and tired of crowds, and who love old, quirky places. 

Winding ocean road into Vieste, Italy
Approaching Vieste

Sandy beaches outside of Vieste, Italy.
Empty beaches just outside of Vieste.

View over the white washed building in Vieste, Italy
The beautiful white-washed  buildings of Vieste's "new town" at dusk.

We found the hotel we'd booked a couple of hours before as we drove down the coast. It was nothing special, but the town certainly was. We parked on the edge of the old town, and set off to explore. Vieste was very much to our liking. We strolled through a lively market area that was just closing, past lots of small shops and restaurants, and up steep steps to the old town. 

Steps up to the Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Assunta, Vieste, Italy
Steps leading up into the "old town." At the top is the Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Assunta.
We wandered down narrow alleys, beside the tower of the Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Assunta, and eventually fetched up at the top of a steep set of stairs with a most wonderful restaurant halfway down. We could have eaten indoors, but we preferred the slightly tottering tables perched outside on a couple of wide landings. You can see the red tablecloths in the shot below. 

Steps down to a restaurant in old Vieste, Italy.
Steps leading down to the coolest restaurant ever.
We ordered pasta and vino rosso, and watched the people. Some came and went up and down the stairs that started behind us, and continued on down past our table, and out of sight. A young couple heading home carried a stroller with a sleepy toddler on board. A few tourists, like us, looked for somewhere to eat dinner. A woman came out onto a small balcony to collect her laundry, and had a conversation with someone on the street below. Music played inside the restaurant, and crickets chirped. I could not believe how loud the crickets were. You have to love a place where you can hear the crickets, don't you?

man and woman in a restaurant in Vieste, Italy
Quite happy with our night in Vieste.
Okay. Maybe you don't have to love a place where you can hear the crickets over the music. But we did.  Don't we look satisfied with old Vieste? And with our three or four days away from the madding crowds? Following our noses along the roads less travelled? 

Hubby and I have talked and talked about our trip since we've been home. What we loved. What we hated. Which roads we were happy to have taken. And which roads we regretted not taking. What lessons we've learned, even at this late date, and how we plan to reassess what we want from our travels. 

We left Vieste after just one night because we had places to be. Pompeii the next day. And then Agerola on the Amalfi Coast, and then, of course, Rome. But I think the few days I've written about here, as well as the time we spent in Urbino and Norcia, were our favourite in the three weeks we were in Italy. 

I'm going to put Italy on the back burner for a while, folks. I've more to say about our trip, and about travel in general, but I need to talk about other things just now. Books. Clothes. Life. You know, the usual. 

And right now, I have to close because dinner is served. Hubby has been slaving away in the kitchen. He's made his special pot roast with beef, wine and tomatoes, onions, carrots, tons of mushrooms, and leeks. The red wine is breathing and there's an episode of Vera cued up and ready to go. Ah, I love the fall. And not just because it's sweater weather. 

P.S. Apologies to Robert Frost for slightly misquoting his poem "The Road Not Taken" and for making so many lame allusions to it. I can't help it. Old English teacher habits die hard. Or not at all:)

How about you, my friends? Any travel tales you want to share? Unexpected moments of beauty? Roads less travelled that turned out to be wonderful? 

Two Traveling Texans

Linking up with #ShareAllLinkUp and Thursday Favourite Things