Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Drinking in the Quiet

It’s rare indeed that I have the house to myself and a day that is totally uncommitted. The only sound I hear is my dog Jake as he pants loudly after fetching his Kong.

My husband is off to Detroit for a periodic visit with his elderly mother. It’s never a fun trip, but instead an inescapable reminder of the downside to growing old. She’s fragile and a little demented at 93, but otherwise clinging fiercely to life.

After dropping my husband off at the airport, I invested in a Starbucks latte and then hung out at the library in search of all things Italian. I found guidebooks aplenty and a couple of works of fiction: Cry to the Heaven by Anne Rice and Simple Prayers by Michael Golding. If you’ve read either or know of others, please let me know so I am only lugging around reading material worth its weight!

I came home to breakfast on the deck, where I also devoured today’s Post and another 75 pages of The Girl with No Shadow (delicious!)

And the rest of my quiet day? A short nap, a lunch of leftover grilled veggies (remains from Saturday’s party which I cooked slowly in the oven) over rice, maybe some piano, and lest I forget, a trip downstairs to run and stretch.

I’m sure there will be more time in the day but am content to leave it as empty space right now. I’ve learned a lot in just one year about how to embrace free time. It’s especially nice on a day like this that just begs to be savored.


Blogger Kristin said...

I very much enjoyed Cry to Heaven. It's not like Rice's other books, which can be good or bad depending on your take. Sounds like a lovely day.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Not to lug these around or anything, but these books come immediately to mind:

Venice--James Morris (a classic, and James is now Jan Morris.)

The City of Fallen Angels--John Berendt (he wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)

Murder of a Medici Princess--Caroline Murphy (I'm just starting this one, myself)

The Food of Italy--Waverly Root (He used to write essays for Esquire and The New Yorker. I have this book and his Food of France. Not recipes at all..erudite writing about a country's cuisine and habits).

The House of Medici: It's Rise and Fall--Christopher Hibbert

Great Houses of Italy, Tuscan Villas--Harold Acton (one of England's "bright young things" of the Cole Porter era. He lived the bulk of his adult life in Italy)

Foods of Sicily & Sardinia and the Smaller Islands--Giuliano Bugialli (I checked this out from the library. It's a beautifully put together cookbook and some of the oddest recipes I've ever seen. If you think you know Italian cooking, this will reteach you a whole new cuisine.)

The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteeth Century Venice--Margaret Rosenthal (I threw this in for the heck of it ;)

I read a book, several years ago, and I always swore I would buy it (didn't) and now I can't find it, but (for me) it was the best thing...the kind of book that makes you dream? I've been looking for it this afternoon and couldn't find it. It was called something like "The Hidden Venice" or "Unseen Venice." It was an oversized art book, the kind of thing Rizzoli publishes, and the authors had gotten permission to go into palazzos and churchs that are never entered...hidden rooms and catacombs for this "one time only" showing. It was rather remarkable. I still remember it, anyway.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I trust your reading judgment, so Cry to Heaven may find a place in my little suitcase.

Cube -- I recently finished The City of Fallen Angels and very much enjoyed the picture it painted of modern-day Venice as it tells the story of the Fenice fire.

I will check out (literally) some of your other suggestions. We are a group of 4 traveling together and trying to pack light, so we will really be limited to a couple of books and a guidebook per person unless we take no clothes! It should be interesting to see how we fare as we leave for a month, including Rome, Venice, a week-long cruise, and 2 weeks in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. Thanks for all your suggestions!

4:33 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Good for you! I get every 2nd Friday off and really love the alone time. I find it crucial to maintaining my sanity. On the other hand I still work.

I think we all need quiet time to, but I find a lot of people are afraid of it. I am glad to hear that you have learned to embrace your free time.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- We live in a society that is all about stimulation: sound, light, taste, you name it. That's why relaxation must be learned!

10:14 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Sounds like a great day! I love days of uncommitted time, and they ARE rare.

When I went to Italy, I read "Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James, which takes place partly in Florence. Not exactly light reading, but very appropriate to the Italian theme!

6:13 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Maybe I'll have to give Henry James another try. I got bogged down in a book of his short stories.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I am getting to love those days that are mostly unplanned. I love the quiet in the house. This weekend my husband is going on his annual spring fishing trip for 4 days so it's just me and the cats!!
They'll get to sleep on the bed too if they want...maybe even a little liver!!

10:52 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- A little break makes you appreciate your partner even more! Enjoy those cats!

11:22 PM  

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