Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tribute to those in a Different Place

This is my dear friend Maggie's favorite Venice picture ( The gold one.). It was taken in the Farrie church and is so 15th century over the top. It also is a reliquary. The little gold things that you see hold pieces of Saints bodies and pieces of the cross and items like that. The Italian churches are full of the stuff. But when you look at it it is shockingly beautiful. It is the thinking about what it is that gets you in trouble.

As we travel through this month and head into next, I am beginning to have those hard flash backs. I keep remembering what was going on a year ago and two years ago. June 17, 2004 at 5:22 pm our world changed. I then count my blessings that we have that sort of history with Leukemia at all. I look at M-E in the picture, taken in front of her favorite house on Burrano, and how could you ever tell she had been/is sick. It is all in how you look her. I see my daughter, who has been to hell and back. I see that she has great hair, a great smile, the picture of health. In my heart I pray every moment of every day that she is always this child. The one that "appears" so healthy. I know that someday, I will come to trust she will be okay. Just as on the outside, the other picture is beautiful.

There is always the cold side of reality. Over the months, I have been reading the blog of Diana. In February, her daughter Hannah lost her battle, as it was beginning, with ALL. The link is to Diana's Blog. Diana has a great attitude, she has a positive spirit. She has been through so much. She is having such a hard time with her struggle. It is a daily reminder to me that I am so so lucky. I need to look at the obvious beauty.

Friday, May 26, 2006

8th Grade Retreat

The kids are part of a retreat on June 5th. At the end of the retreat they are given a packet of letters from friends and family that expresses congratulations and thoughts about their future.

If you would like to send one to Mary-Elizabeth feel free to do so. It can be dropped off at the school or mailed. The letters need to be there by the 1st of June.

Mary-Elizabeth Sierra Lanham
Retreat Letter
700 18th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112.

This is such a great idea of a present to share with a young person. I wish I had thought about doing this years ago.

The kids don't know about this. It is a secret.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Great Artist

I added the link to this artist's web site. He has such a wonderful eye. His name is Giorgio Bacci Baik and he has a shop in Dorsoduro. He does these wonderful pieces and sees the world in a not so straight head-on way. M-E and I each brought back a piece. I love his stuff and wish I had some real money to buy one of his originals. I guess a new floor in the kitchen is the more important than art.

8th Grade is coming to a Close

I always get weepy this time of year. I was never the mom that cried when school started but when a year ended.

I am just so thankful that we are able to have another year end that I don't think the tears will appear.

Oh, aren't these figures great. They were in a store window of a store that was closed. We never wandered by again but I would kill to know how to get one. Oh, well a reason to return.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

We are getting closer

Which came first the house and boat cover or the suit jackets?

M-E will be done sometime in December. I am hopeing before Christmas. They count the time from the end of one of her treatment phases. She will then go once a month for a blood draw and then every two months and then every three and so on and so on. They will follow her for the rest of her life.

I have decided I can not think about that yet. I have to focus on helping her with finals this week.( Yes, I can cook breakfast.) Then we have a lot of yard work to do this week-end. And then there is the week of no real school but lots of activites and then the week of Graduation and Mom and Dad visiting. Then...... See I have learned about little moments and not big ones.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mary-Elizabeth's Math Reflection for April

Ms. Marion, a great math teacher, requires the kids to write each month about math. Their projects, their grade, their struggles. She let M-E write about Venice.

As parents, we are supposed to respond. This is April's Reflection.

People tell you that Venice has no streets but you donÂ’t really believe it until you see it with your own eyes. It becomes more apparent when you see the FedEx, milk and McDonaldÂ’s delivery boats float down the canal. Then you completely understand that there are not roads just canals. Whitney and I have been there before, but only on a day trip when we went to Germany.

We went on a Make-a-Wish trip. This Make-a-Wish chapter has never done a wish to just Venice. For their first time, they did a great job.
They flew us from Seattle to Philadelphia to Frankfurt Germany and then to Venice. Where we took a boat to the actual city of Venice. We left Seattle at 6:30 a.m on the 24th and arrived in Venice on the 25th about 11:00 a.m. We got to the apartment around 2:00 p.m. because Ruth lost her luggage and it took a while to report the problem. Vickie, a friend of ours, met us in Venice and stayed with us at the apartment. She helped us stay awake until night time. By the time we did go to bed, we had stayed up for a total of 36 hours. We slept like logs that night.

The next days were filled with shopping and touring. We went to big and small churches. You could not go 5 muntues without running into a church. We went to the Academia and the Guggenheim to look at the different kinds of art work. The artist used many techniques including sand with acrylics. We all concluded that doing the sand piece messed up the brushes.

It would not be a trip to Italy without having gelato every day. The 5 of us have become very good at telling what gelato is very good and what isnÂ’t. Whitney and I even have our favorite gelato place. The guy that works there is very generous with the scoops. Also every day we would sit down for cappuccinos or something to drink when we would get tired. It was a great way to see the city and relax at the same time.

I rarely felt like a tourist. I only did when we got lost, which was not a lot. We considered ourselves half tourist since we lived in an apartment for 10 days and knew how everything worked. We loved to wander our way through cool alleys, over interesting bridges and of course shopped on the way.

One day when we were there, there was a protest. Instead of walking up and down the streets they were in boats holding picket signs, riding up the Grand Canal. The police in their boats were there as well making sure that people did not get out of hand. It was interesting seeing this side of the Venetians.

The whole trip when so fast that it felt like a dream, a really great dream. Venice was a place I did not have to worry about homework or any of the stressful things that happen in Seattle. It was fun to relax in our world and explore it. We laughed every day and enjoyed every moment of it. It felt good to be normal again and to share it with Whitney, Vickie, Ruth and my mom. The Venice trip was a trip of a lifetime and I am glad I picked it as my Wish.

MomÂ’s Response:
I remember the moment she picked Venice. It came from no where. It was out of the blue. She had a first wish all worked out. It was denied. Oprah does not do Wishes. She was asked for a second wish and she simply said " I want to go to Venice again and live like a real person. I want to take Ruth and Whitney"
We went, we saw, we did. It was so much fun to watch her enjoy experience. She loved the people, the place, the food, the shops, the things to find, the exploration. We were so relaxed and so able to leave the last couple of years behind. It gave us a place to be so far way from Seattle and so foreign that there were no memories of the bad times. Only a place to create good time memories.
What a gift this trip was. I have not way to explain how wonderful it was. It made us realize that there will be a life beyond Leukemia.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Things are not always what they seem

Sometimes I have obsessions. Sometimes they are reasonable, sometimes a bit crazy. My sister has suggested I can have some special medication for the problem.

I have been kwown to search the world for such things as duck head hooks and pieces to the Dicken's Village. I have gone as far as contact manufactures to obtain a certain piece of material for my quilts. The internet is not a good thing because it makes my searches easier in someways and harder in others.

Well this is my most current obsession. I love this seagull. He/She is a venetian seagull. We encountered him by the Hair Ball bridge. He was struggling in the water for his breakfast and being the sort of people were were we thought it was a fish. It became very apparent that the fish had 4 legs, a long hairless tail and would be known as a rat inmost languages.

We were so shocked that we did not get the best pictures of the swallowing but when I can I will put the picture of the one with the tail sticking out of it's mouth.

As you look here you only see the calm and now full Seagull. See things are not always as they seem. Just under the surface..........

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Red Maples and Daffodiles and Clemitis

Smell triggers memories. Songs trigger memories. Images do the same. This time of year the Red Maples scream at me of long lost homes. For reasons that are unclear to me, I have a mother that planted red maple trees at every home we lived. ( This does not include the Washington D.C. aparment where the maintenance guys came and dug up the pansies that I had planted outside of our basement apartment.)

We had a red maple in Ogden Utah, Spirit Lake, Idaho, Dalton Garden (two) and Hayden. There was one in Michigan, California and finally back in Michigan. She loved them and she left them all over the country. She also planted bulbs. It is just what you do, no matter how long you intend to live somewhere you leave a bit of yourself behind. Someone will come along and enjoy them.

She loved the surpizes each spring that came from a dead looking ground. It is always so much fun to see what will emerge and greet you at any given time.

I have followed her example for years. I planted bulbs in Dietrich ( both places). I left trees I loved on Capital Hill and here my mark has been made. Lots of things emerge each year. Lots of things I forget about and are a joy each time they come back. Many things I am uncertain will return. It is great that they do so with such regularity.

Maybe that is why Mom planted all those red maples, to leave something of herself behind, something small but tangible. I have driven by the trees on occasion and they do make a statement.

She planted a giant sequoia and was amazed with how much it has grown. She pointed out that it would have to come out eventually but then many not.

8th Grade Graduation

They are done with St. Joe's on June 7th. 8th Grade Graduation. 9 years of school is over. It has gone so fast but then life does buzz bye for the unwary. I have always tried to savor each and every moment. To try and not think too far ahead. It does not always work but it is something I try to do. We all need something to look forward to but it we don't want the future to be the focus. Don't the girls look great? They are both very special people. St. Joe's will miss them. I am luck they are still in my life on a daily basis.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


These folks do not shop at Home Depot. I asked Whitney how old she thought some of these were and she guessed 30=50 years. I let her know I thought it was more like 300- 500. I may be wrong.

Sharing Some Stories

This is the Hair Ball Bridge. We named with what ever seemed appropriate. This is the first Bridge we crossed on the way from our Vaparetto stop to the apartment. M-E lovingly glazed into the canal and saw a hairball. She squealed ooooooooh and then we moved on. 459 or so bridges to explore and name. I never did find Ponte de Teta....

The walls are covered with lots of little shrines. This was stuck in an alcove. They were so sweet and it was such a drag that no one would let me chisel them off the wall. I guess I would go to hell and that would defeat the purpose.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sunny Mornings

We had our share of Sun. Venice sits in a lagoon so there a lots of mornings that the moisture is in and then it burns off. Only once we really were wet and then it was Venetian Rain.

Off to work and to school today. Everyone seems to be back on schedule. The garden needs some attention this week-end so we will see how far that process gets. Bits of Venice are sitting everywhere in the house. Scrap books are being planned and projects are being listed. We will make use of our sunny mornings.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Coffee and Other thoughts

This is not Starbucks. Your are looking at hot chocolate and a little snack. We lost weight on this stuff. I guess it was the 5 miles a day we walked. I have been trying to duplicate the coffee. Mom pointed out that instead of bringing home a bunch of Crap...... I should have loaded the suitcase with coffee.

Our first couple of days we did not have enough "coffee and snacks" There are not nearly enougth pictures of us sitting and drinking. We learned by the last few days we were there. I learned a good capachino and a snack can be consumed around 5 ish and still sleep is possible.

We did run into Starbucks on the way back through Frankfurt but were not really in the mood. I can report that it was crowded.

Time to clean up the kitchen and get the coffee pot I did buy ready for the A.M. When I bought it the lady told me it was a four cup pot. I laughed and let her know that it might be a four Italian cups but was most certainly only one American cup.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I thought I would quit Looking When We Returned

Before we gazed with longing for things to come. Now I look to just check in on the living room of Europe. To see if the bell tower is done yet (covered with the white cloth). To see if the band in playing ( under the canopy by the chairs) To see how the pigeons are doing. It is all very much a fun peak.

Each day is better with the time. Each day we settle back in and know that we had a great time. Each day we have a secret smile of remembrance. When I first went to Europe in college, I figured it was my only time. Now I know that we just return in a different way. This time was very different than the last. The girls will return when they are in college and be those tired kids that have packs on their back and no money. It is sort of fun to remember and look forward to all of those types of trip.

Prednison is kicking in. If I kill M-E, please forgive me........ It seems to get worse every time. Surly, testy, B.......... Oh, bad Mom......

Oh my the picture is not the way it should be. I am not smart enought to fix it. Forgive me.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Coming Back to Reality

Not a bad place to be. Sometimes a bit difficult. We bonded very quickly with the Italian way of life. Cappaccino, bread that is worth getting to the soft inner parts. Subtle thinly sliced meats that are not overpowered by a layer of mayonnaise, fresh veggies and fruits. Not the variety but the quality was top notch. Whole foods is not a special grocery store, it is the market. Very little prepared food.

Oh, well we are back and this is our reality. Doctor's visits and work and school and homework. Coffee to fix in the A.M. Alarms to respond to on a daily basis. Grocery stores to visit that are 85% pre-packaged and lots of stuff that has been out of the ground or off the tree for a very long time.

Solution: keep looking. It is out there. Good Mortadello, good salami, good bread, good produce. We live in a town with great resources. A bit of ingenuity and the great stuff can be uncovered. My grandmother always said to eat what was in season. Apples are not in season, oranges are..... There is something to be said about that.

We had a great time during our Italy Season, now we are in a beautiful time in Seattle. I know better than to take anything for granted. I know I have to savor each and every day as it comes. I know that we can not count on tomorrow going well so each day should be considered a blessing.

It was so nice to go and to get away from our last couple of years of stuggles. Italy only had good memories. It was not tainted with doctors and hospitals and late night trips to the ER. Leukemia is so much a part of our Seattle world now. It leaks into all the nooks and crannies. I am sure as time goes on the memories of what has happened will fade away but that time has not come for us yet.

I think I am a bit rummy and will go take a nap.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Second 300 pictures

I love digital. It lets you go nuts. We are working on categories right now.

Windows and Doors

I did sort of go door nuts but they are so wonderful. I have to figure out how to do the rest of the picture to Yahoo. I might be smart enough to put the whole file on the web another way. Like all things this is a learning process.

Certain amount of dread from M-E today. She bit off her fingernails last night. She has chemo and blood tests today. Always a bit of a worry.

Up at 3:00 , I am debating whether to try and go back to sleep.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The First 300 Pictures

God only knows if I will ever be able to figure out how to transfer the second half of the pictures. The ones that you will find are full of doors and alleys and birds and dogs and just stuff. I have not had a chance to go and turn everything so it is sort of like getting neck exercises.

A short version of our trip goes like this:

April 26: Arrived after being up 28 hours, decide the Water Taxi guy is too much so we take the regular transport. Find our place after hauling our bags over several bridges, find our person, settle in and decide we have to stay up. Off to find dinner and to wander a bit. Find dinner with a "turist" menu ( a big no no with the guide books) Order a great dinner. Did I mention that a Venetian specialty is liver and onions? Wander back, collapse into bed.

April 27: Up the next morning, girls and Vickie go to San Marco's to feed pigeons. Ruth's luggage is to be delivered ( total story to be told with the entry on the disasters of the trip). We wait all day for a no show. I go at the days end to find a church and light a candle. I find St. Alvise, our local Parrish. Little old lady tells me that you can not light candles during the day but when there is a mass, she will light them for me. My prayers are safe. Great dinner with little or no understanding of what we are ordering. We understood Tirimisu.

April 28: Try to go to Murano; "No Vaparetto" Es Protesto. So we head back into town and we find a garden, a few churches, try and are rejected by the Schuolo *sp* Ruth's Luggage has been found, she and Whitney return, we stay and go to the Fariri Church. We all agree Bellini is less depressed than Tintoretto. Off to find our way home. More good food.

April 29: We go to visit the Academia and the Peggy Guggenheim. Off to the other side of the canal and Dorsodoro. The Redeemptor church is also visited. Black Madonna, amazing space and feel. We head home, a challenge with full Vaporettos.

April 30: Vickie and I get up early and go to San Giomo for mass. Long trek a few missteps, rain in faces, lovely mass, attended mostly by tourists, trip up to the bell tower, feels like 2 degrees. Marvelouls views. Find Ruth and the girls, have dinner is a place recommended by Mr. Boyle from St. Joes. Sepia Pasta is great.

May 1st: Head to Murano and Burrano: Wonderful quiet day. We forget to eat until 4:00 p.m. We try to eat, they are too busy to feed us. Trip on the Vaparetto is fine, we have seats and Burrano is magical. We are amazed at the colored houses. We realize there are a million leaning towers in Italy. No need to go to Pisa.

May 2: Girls and I go to find Tintoretto's house. No clue so we take a picture, pronounce it the PLACE and move on. Madonna Del Oro, one needs a good dose of 13th century history before lunch. Off to the Lido and to ride along the outside of Venice. Land on the Lido, lunch with cars and the world's bicycles. We were so glad to visit but even happier that we did not stay there. Back to San Marco, more pigeon feeding, more shopping. Visit San Marco's, wonder more in the streets.
Home for a home cook meal, burned pizza, raw rissoto, great salad, and unknown zucchini stuffed with something.

May 3rd: Vickie to Verona, We take trip to cemetery Island,time at Florins ( only been in business since 1720) Served on a silver tray by guys in white coats. Expensive meal but worth the location, in San Marco's square. More pigeon's fed, off to see some more. Ruth and I to Mass.

May 4: Trip to Padua to see St. Anthony's tongue. (Tongue was closed for lunch). M-E and I head home, take the wrong train, hop on another end up back in Venice late. Go to apartment, change. Rest of gang shows up and Whitney and M-E and I head out in search of Gondola ride. None found, Stalking of gondolas begin. We have great ride and great success. Last dinner, last walk through the ghetto, last stroll on "our canal".

This entry will be edited and the proper spelling added at a better I hvae been up since 3:20. I have had coffee. I will come back to it, I am going to see if I can get the rest of the pictures loaded.

I was dead to the world by 7:00 last night. It will be interesting to see how the day goes.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Venice, a Special Place always.

What do I say. We are back, we are healthy, we are rested but exhausted. We are Jet Lagged, we are in shock of re-entry.

In a nutshell, the trip was everything everyone expected and more. There are always the special unforeseen moments. The moments of confusion and moments of calm understanding. There are the moments of excitement and the moments of pure joy. There are the moments of fun and moments of sadness. There are the moments of anticipation of 10 days of time and the realization that the time is coming to an end.

More will be posted. I will get all the photo's uploaded to Yahoo and you can pursue at your leisure. We are savoring the last few days time away from reality.

We made a wish and more than our wishes came true.