Monday, February 28, 2011

Incipit Vita Nova

The first time I was in Italy was the first time I went to Europe. It was March of 1998, and a friend wanted to go to Paris. I wasn’t that thrilled about seeing Paris, so I told her to add on Italy and I’m there. Before we left, everyone told me I’d love Paris and Florence, but my favorites were Rome and Venice; the vino, piazzas and canals captured my heart from the start.

This time around—a newfound love of Italy—came from another part I hadn’t seen. On Friday, we flew into Bologna and drove to a place called Lake Garda that has a backdrop of the snow topped Alps. Lake Garda was formed in the Ice Ages by a glacier. The first settlers date back to 4000 B.C. Another interesting fact is that the Red Cross was established from the “Battle of Solferino” in Lake Garda. Due to the conditions for the wounded, a man by the name of Henri Dunant wrote the “Souvenir of Solerina” in 1862 campaigning for improvements in treating the wounded, and so began the first Geneva Convention signing in 1863.

Lake Garda is now a love of mine. The lake has many different villages around it where you can stop to shop, enjoy a cafĂ© or gelato, or have a delicious Italian dinner by the lake. It’s breathtaking and I want to retire here. LOL! Yeah, like that will happen. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the tour. Please keep your hands inside the car. ;)

We begin the tour on Dante Alighieri Street—the street where our hotel was located . For those of you who don’t know who Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was, he was an Italian poet who wrote The Divine Comedy about life and God; Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise). The title of this post is from his Sonnet, La Vita Nuova, and it means “Here beginneth the new life.” In a sense, seeing Lake Garda was like beginning a new life, and it also sums up my life over the past two years.

This picture was taken from our balcony as the sun started to wake. 

After breakfast, we hopped in the car and started to make stops along the way. It may sound morbid, but our first stop was at a cemetery. It was breathtaking with the Alps behind it and I thought what a beautiful resting place.

We stopped at the first little village north of our hotel. The sun slowly came around as I ate up everything I saw.

We walked down some streets and I took a few pictures. This is when I got a feel for the place and those who live here.

This is a picture of an island on Lake Garda. It's called the Olive Island.

These pictures are of another village and its surrounding area. 

This house was well protected and guarded from intrusion. I also took a few pictures near the house and the scenery was perfect.

Again, we walked down some streets so I could capture its essence. 

We took a cable car up to the top of Monte Baldo. Here are pictures as we were going up, on top and then when we came down.

I thought this picture was pretty cool. These are orange trees with the Alps behind them.
After driving around the lake making more stops, we finally settled down to eat where I had my first Italian pizza. Mmm….

It rained the next day, so we decided to visit a few more places on the way to the airport. Unfortunately, the weather can kill the appreciation of a place, but we both enjoyed our time  in Verona. Of course I thought of Shakespeare’s The Two Gentleman of Verona comedy as we walked around. 

We went into the Castelvecchio Museum. This actually was a great museum because some of the sculptures and paintings were founded within the castle (1355), preserved and exhibited with the castle.

Here are a few pictures taken of the Adige River. 

We also went into the Arena di Verona. It’s an ampitheatre that was built in the 1st century A.D. and is still used as a concert venue for operas.


After eating, we headed to Bologna. We originally had a trip planned to Bologna in December, but canceled because of the snow. We were both glad we did because as much as there is history in Bologna, I found it disturbing and sad at the amount of dirt and graffiti that covers this city. There wasn’t a street we walked down near the center that wasn’t covered with graffiti. We can now say we’ve been to Bologna, but I doubt I’ll be back. Here are a few of the things I found beautiful in the city in the short time we were there.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Have a great week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Once Upon a Time…

A writer friend, Barb sent me a link to a blog post, Scariness in Fictionland by Athol Dickson. These days, I haven’t kept up with information about the writing world, and I definitely don’t bother with articles on ‘how to write’. It’s not that I’m a snob and know everything there is to know about writing, it’s just that I feel writing takes practice—individual practice. If I was completely clueless about how to write a novel, short story or poetry, then I would look for some form of guidance; although it’s only bits and pieces I take and leave the rest of the lecture behind.

Since I’ve been separated from the writing world—submerged in my own work—I hadn’t kept up with what is being said out there. So this blog post by Athol Dickson really opened my eyes to writing and what some authors are saying. As he states on his blog, “I’ve seen dozens of emails from other authors who claim they strongly dislike the first person point of view.” Okay, I see we all have our favorites, certain things we enjoy reading, but for an author to commit to such a hard statement is serious. If authors begin to omit first person POV, if publishing companies put all first person POV’s in the slush pile, then we have wiped out a part of literature that’s been around since language kissed our lips.

Athol points out that this isn’t the impossible. “…the reading public came to prefer the stark and spare Modernist style of literature which had been almost universally forced upon them, not because it’s necessarily better in any way, but simply because it had indeed been so universally forced upon them…Also, it’s a well-known psychological fact that we develop habits mainly because they are more convenient.” We find ourselves becoming habitual and accepting without question. It’s easy to follow the leader—the dictators telling us what we should do, watch, buy, yet it’s, as the clichĂ© goes, ‘killing us softly’.

- Once upon a time, a man by the name of Mark Twain wrote a story “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” using the word 'nigger’ and ‘Injun Joe’.

- Once upon a time, there were these places called book stores, where you could wander the isles and topics to pick your favorites.

The sad thing is that I could probably find at least half of the people I know never read ”The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, and that their children probably never heard of Mark Twain or even seen his picture…or any of the classics.

I had to write this post because it’s dear to my heart—my manuscript (novel) is in first person POV. It’s fine to like or dislike writing styles and genres, but writers should not be too hasty to make changes to the written word. Writing allows independent thought and creativity, so to stifle this in others would be a grave mistake. 

As much as I want change to occur in life, I also want us to keep and remember values and history that taught us about life and what brought us here. Some might think it’s not a big deal that the classics are changed or aren’t read along with any other book for that matter. Some might think it’s not a big deal that book stores won’t exist—Amazon is convenient. I say it is a big deal. It’s a big deal to starve your mind. It’s a big deal that book stores won’t exist—a place where people can socially meet—to actually have contact with others. These fundamental beauties in life should continue to be cherished. Let’s not live a lifetime and find ourselves saying to younger generations, “Once upon a time…” when it isn’t in an actual book.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Imagination is a Beautiful Thing

I recently watched two movies written and directed by James Cameron—The Abyss and Avatar. At first I didn’t know Mr. Cameron wrote the screenplays, but I waited as the credits rolled because I had to know whose mind created such great stories. It’s James Cameron’s imagination that leaves me awed, along with his ability to bring these stories to life on the big screen. Even those I watched the movies with feel James Cameron’s abilities are endless.

We all have our favorite writers no matter what genre, because there is something about their talent, their achievements that move us. Many people favor Stephen King, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and I’m not disagreeing with their incredible gifts, yet it’s James Cameron that leaves my mouth hanging with admiration. He has become the key to unlocking and releasing an intense need for me to become a better writer. 

The first novel writer who stopped me in my tracks is Carlos Ruiz Zafon. He wrote The Shadow of the Wind and after reading his cravings that poured onto the pages, I knew I wanted that. To create a different voice with words that render the reader emotionally drained because my characters and story brought them on an everlasting journey. Now I know I will never reach the height and depth of both of these writers, because realistically my talent only goes so far. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make myself learn and craft my imagination to its highest potential—where readers can taste, feel, smell, see and hear my soul. 

Everyone should reach for the difficult so they have something to strive for instead of just existing. At least, that’s what I believe life is all about. Imagination doesn’t just apply to writing—it applies to life. It’s our imagination that gets us through adolescence, adulthood and retirement. And because we use our imagination to achieve the best life, it’s that which leaves us with the greatest of memories.

Happy Sunday! I wish you all a wonderful week.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Please Read Responsibly

My writing isn’t limited to a particular genre or verse because I made it a point to branch out and experiment in several different writing projects. I’m not saying my writing is good with all, I just mean I didn’t want to limit possibilities.

This post is sexual in nature. I’ve written a few erotic poems a few years back, so I decided to post one here. It is sexual in nature, so if you are easily offended then I’d suggest you not continue reading. But if you don't mind and even enjoy erotica, please continue to read on and all comments are appreciated. I changed my blog settings to “Adult Content” for this particular post, but recently set it back since this is the only post on the page that some may feel has some questionable material.

Sex and Cheap Wine

My love floweth over
like a cheap glass of wine.
An old starlet has-been
secluded, unrefined.

No more parts to play
for an extravagant price,
only barstools with beer
looking for men to entice.

Wasn’t long ago
they sought my swollen crimson,
offering drinks and cocaine
to relieve their tension.

Foreplay wasn’t the same
the merest formality.
Lovers complained
but they lacked sexuality.

Ate ice cream and pussy
as though they’re alike
give them head anywhere,
use their cock as a spike.

Look back, not much changed
in the way I’m treated now,
except for how it ends,
I gather clothes, then take a bow.

ETA: Made some changes to post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Cherished Valentine Celebration

This Valentine weekend we celebrated in a small town in Belgium called Brugge. If you need Chocolate Therapy, like the poem I wrote months ago, then Brugge is the town for you. I think every other store is a chocolate store, which makes sense since Belgium is known for their chocolates. This is a romantic town, so I made some changes to my pictures to give them a romantic nostalgia feel although I’m still tweaking the pictures.

The first one is of two masquerade lovers. Carnivale is big in Europe.
As we were walking toward the stores and Market, I took some pictures along the way.

Here are some pictures of the Market Square and the Belfry Tower. I put the day pictures with the night pictures.

Here’s a picture of a sign I thought was cute.

Then we took a boat ride on the canal to see the city from a different view. 

While we weaved through streets and stores, I took pictures of things I found beautiful or interesting.

At night, a restaurant advertised their place by using a turning spotlight of a bat beaming down on the sidewalk and I happened to get a good picture of it.

This is a night picture taken of one of the many bridges.
We had a nice dinner and drinks, a few too many, and then stumbled back to our room to head out early the next day to a town called Zoutelande. For about four miles to Zoutelande, we drove through a tunnel under the sea.

I took a picture of this windmill as we drove into town. I didn’t make any changes to these pictures.

Our intentions were to take about a four mile walk down the beach, but the wind was wicked and we quickly changed our minds. Here are a few pictures of the beach and a couple riding horses.

This tree was laying in front of someone’s house with the branches holding coffee cups.

Then we went to a nearby town, Westkapelle where they had a museum with a dedication to the U.K. and U.S., who rescued them from German siege. 

A few more pictures from this area of the sea.

On our way home, I had to take a picture of a few German bunkers left from the war.

And that was our weekend adventure. How about you? What did you do? Do you plan on letting your loved one know how much you love them this Valentine’s Day or do you plan on letting someone know you’re in love with them? Or maybe you plan on buying yourself something special? Let us know. Hope you have a nice day and a great week.