Old posts and Bon Jovi *with giveaway

Is anyone else surprised at the old posts that get hits day after day?  I don’t know exactly how the search engine searches work, but I get at least 25 hits a day on my Italy posts from 2008, with generic searches like Rome, Venice, and parking.  The posts are just photos.  Feel free to check them out. Rome, Venice, Parking in Rome.  I think it’s interesting that after all these years and all the views no one has ever left a comment.

In 2009 I read Second Son by Charles Sailor because a friend put the book in my hand and told me I had to read it.  I did and posted my review here.  I didn’t realize at the time how little is written about the book and its author and the dedicated and loyal fan base it has.  You can see that comments have been left on the post as current this month.  And I receive emails with questions from people about book every few months.  I can never answer them because my sum total of knowledge was in that review and in the comments.  But I did receive an email from Sydney, Sailor’s daughter, telling me you can now get Second Son on Amazon and that there would finally be a second book coming out in October or November, The Man Who Rode the Tiger.  And there is a page on Facebook that Sydney has started to keep all fans updated.

As for the post that gets the most hits for whatever reason, that would be my 5000 piece puzzle of Florence I posted about in 2008.  The post is here.  I swear that post gets at least  few hits a day-today it’s had 6!  I don’t know how long it will be before I have the time for another puzzle.

The post announcing my pregnancy has been the one with the most comments.  I was overwhelmed by all of the good wishes.

So, do you have old posts that continue to generate interest or comments?


In honor of all of the Italy hits I get I am offering one new copy of Four Season in Rome by Anthony Doerr, a memoir.  I loved this book (my review here) and if you love Italy or great writing you will too.  Here’s the B&N link.

Just leave me a comment telling me you’d like to win.  I’ll draw a winner October 19.

Birthday Photo

Let me start by saying that I am not a stalker.  I wasn’t even a huge Bon Jovi fan when one of my best friend’s dad got us VIP & backstage passes to the Slippery When Wet tour in 1987.  Not a stalker you say?  Isn’t that me draping myself on an unhappy Jon?  Yes, yes that’s me and I have no excuse. 

He was sick that day so in all of the pictures taken he didn’t look all that happy in any of them (and no, I don’t think it was me!). 

This photo is so embarrassing, but I’m putting it out here for you.  I used to have about 20 different shots of this 10 minutes in time, but I kept giving them away to friends and this is the only one I have left!

I also got to meet the group Cinderella and have a much more flattering photo, but that’s no fun.  I know know the photo is a little dark, I’ll see if Jason can fix it later.

Monday Movie Meme- Travel

This week’s movie topic is all about Movies That Make You Want To Travel…
(Visit The Bumbles for more travel choices)
So this week it’s all about movies that make us want to travel.  I loved our trip to Italy (as I’ve mentioned a lot lately) and there are a few movies that take me back and make me want to fly back immediately.  Summertime (1955) is a great movie to see the magic of the city.  Loved it.  Casanova (2005) is a so-so movie but I loved seeing the city in its glory days.  Both Only You (1994) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) both gave screen time to the canal city.  Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) and Roman Holiday (1953) are favorites that highlight the other two places we visited.How about these pictures from our time in Venice to get you in the mood?
I want to visit England someday.  Maybe it’s the Jane Austen movies like Pride & Prejudice (miniseries and 2005 movie) or Mansfield Park (1999) that first piqued my interest.  And the period movies like Miss Potter (2006) and Sherlock Holmes (2009) were fun.  I also like the more standard fare like Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) Bridget Jones’s Diary(2001) , and Notting Hill (1999). 
Do you have a favorite movie that makes you want to travel?

5000 piece puzzle of Florence

A few years ago I put together a 5000 piece puzzle and I swore I’d never do it again.  Not only does it take too long, but at some point it stops being fun.  But, in February I was looking on ebay (a wonderful place to get puzzles) and saw this beautiful puzzle of Florence, Italy.  We were finalizing or trip to Italy, so I bought it.  And started piecing it together in February.  And did not put the last piece in place until last night.  October 24.  Obviously I took time off here and there, but still…  I’m never doing another 5000 piece puzzle again.  Really.

A special thanks to those of you who came by the house and took the time to put in a piece or two.  It may have taken me another month to finish without you!

5000 piece puzzles are expensive and I’m willing to give this puzzle away, but I won’t pay for shipping.  Once I put it back in the box I’ll weigh it so you have an idea how much it may cost to mail.  If you are interested, let me know.

EDIT-I’ve mailed this on to South Africa.

Four Seasons in Rome, by Anthony Doerr

Cover ImageFinished 6-19-08, rating 4.5/5, memoir, pub. 2007

Subtitle-On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

“Too much beauty, too much input; if you’re not careful you can overdose.”  (Winter)

“It is a Metropolitan Museum of Art the size of Manhattan, no roof, no display cases, and half a million combustion engines rumbling in the hallways.”  (Winter)

Doerr won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and was awarded a year in Rome with a home, an office, and a paycheck.   This memoir is his love letter to Rome, his wife, and his two young boys. 

Anthony, his wife, Shauna, and their six-month-old twins, Owen & Henry, arrive in Rome in the fall.  His first perceptions of Rome took me back to our own trip to Italy in April.  The discussion of the toilets, the crazy traffic, the confusion on how to order and pay, the absence of fat people, and the absolute awe of the history, all made me smile in agreement and remembrance.  Moving into winter there is the visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and watching the Pope being carried by, the five minutes alone in the Sistene Chapel, and seeing the Pantheon for the first time.  The game of bus golf sounds wonderfully fun and just up my alley.  Take a bus (or train) and randomly get off at stops and see what’s there before doing it again.  In the spring the Pope dies and a new one is chosen right in their backyard.  Shauna is hospitalized.  The heat of summer overwhelms them and they take weekly trips out of Rome to Umbria.

My copy is marked with lines and exclamation points that make it easy for me to go back and read my favorite passages (there are many).  I have already gone back and read many of the passages and pages I loved most and I just finished the book yesterday.  He has passages on Rome, on parenting, and on the splendor of life that will stick with you.  I highly recommend this memoir- especially if you love Italy or have had twins.


“Traveling is the ruin of all happiness.  There’s no looking at a  building here, after seeing Italy.”            Fanny Burney, Cecilia

We’re home from Italy

After an exhausting 19 1/2  hour travel Sunday, we are finally home.  Italy is a wonderful place to vacation, but the travel to and from can add some stressful days to your trip!

I will post pictures sometime today or tomorrow.  And then I will finally get back to just writing about books.  I have three reviews to post when I get a few minutes. 

Italy is wonderful.  It is my kind of country.  The wine is cheaper than Coke and everybody drinks lots of it 🙂  Jason even got into the Italian spirit by having cappuccino every morning and afternoon and an after dinner drink every night (grappa, Limenchello)  We loved how you could walk everywhere you wanted to go and in bigger cities, like Rome you saw those cute little Smart cars all over the place.  We also liked travelling by train and had no problems figuring it out.

We loved Venice.  It was our favorite city to walk around, relax, and eat great food.  Although the gondola ride was expensive you have to do it.  We were surprised about all the dogs there.  There is little grass, but many Venetians had dogs and they were so well-behaved.  I think they gave them all wine.  They also had the best shopping for gifts to bring home.  I wish we had done more shopping there.  We stayed at the Hotel Mercurio.  Good things-location, breakfast, the bed.  Bad things-mold in room, no English station, no internet access.  Although they had no English-speaking stations, we discovered one night that they had porn on one of the local stations after midnight (if you like that sort of thing)! 

We liked Florence a lot.  It was a great walking city that had lots of green grass right across the river that the other two cities didn’t have a lot of.  There was a lot to see.  Lots of art, museums, churches.  We stayed at Hotel Perseo and we have only good things to say about it.  Great room, internet access, helpful English-speaking staff, environmentally friendly, perfect location, great breakfast, and Happy Drink every night with free drinks and snacks. 

Rome was full of sites to see, but it was not someplace I need to go back to.  We loved the history and the sites (Coliseum, Pantheon, Circus Maximus…), and it was fun to be in a city that didn’t cater to tourists.  We found more people who didn’t speak English here than in the other two cities.  One fun thing that happened to us here was on our last afternoon when we were walking back to the hotel we saw an Italians for Obama rally.  It was pretty funny to see.  I think they were just getting started, but they had about 20 people setting things up with Obama’s voice booming into the street.  We stayed at Soggiorno Europa.  Good things-good location, internet access.  Bad things-everything else!  No phone in room, terrible beds, bad breakfast, shower.   Less than a block from our hotel was our favorite restaurant from the whole vacation, Grotta d’Abruzzo (Via Palermo, 45).  They had the best pizza and chicken (separately!).

We’ll that’s it.  I’ll post the photos later.  I hope you’ve enjoyed our Italian tour.  Oh, I took the 2 piece luggage set that New Clevelanders gave me when I was president and received many compliments from around Italy.  Thanks, ladies!

Rome, last day

WE visited the Colosseum this morning and got a little turned around and spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon walking around aimlessly.  Once we got our bearings we went to the train station to buy a ticket to the airport tomorrow.  We’ve enjoyed our Italian vacation, but are ready to go home.  We’re ready to see Scout and Max 🙂  I will try and write one more blog tonight to recap our thoughts about Italy, but I need to rest for an hour! 

Rome, day 2

We are getting ready for dinner.  Jason took his customary siesta while I read a for a few minutes for the first time on our Italy tour.  We had a fun, but exhausting day.  We went to St. Peter’s at the Vatican, which was absolutely fabulous.  We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon walking around the ancient sites.  I will try a few more details later after dinner.


We just got back to the hotel after about 7 hours of walking around the city.  We are resting before heading out to dinner.  Our favorite experience today was sitting in front of the Pantheon eating McDonalds fries and a Big Mac.  It seemed so wrong.  Both Venice and Florence had McDonalds, but today we saw at least half a dozen around the city.  The only other American fast food we’ve seen is a Burger King a few blocks from our hotel.  Today’s fries and Big Mac were was our first non-Italian food in almost a week.  I must admit it was a nice change of pace.

There are massive beautiful churches everywhere and we walked into everyone we came across.  We also went to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.  Rome is quite a bit of a walk because it is not even – you walk up and up only to walk back down the next block before walking up again.

We happened into a piazza where a political rally was being held.  We had no idea what was going on, so we moved along pretty quickly.  There is also a big police presence around the city.  Some of them are just standing on a side street with their hand on their guns ready to shoot.  It was weird. 

So far we have had fun.  We certainly won’t run out of things to do here.  There are tourist everywhere.  The car/scooter/pedestrian war is crazier then in Florence.  Everyone seems to think they have the right of way.  We just follow someone who looks like he knows what he’s doing.