Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blicky Opens His Mailbag

Dear Blicky Kitty, 

My three-year-old is really starting to destroy our lovely home. Just yesterday she got into last summer’s tanning cream and now looks like a very small, orange mental patient. Today I found several small wooden toys glued and taped to the wall and my feminine pads were stuck to the beds in the Little People dollhouse. What can I do? I feel like my life has been hijacked by an insane dwarf.

Signed, Desperaux

Dear Desperaux,

Your life actually has been hijacked by an insane dwarf. The culprit is most assuredly bad parenting, but we can also look at the history of parenting small humans to find a solution. In the Middle Ages she would have been exorcised, then affixed to a thirstiness of leeches to rid her of an overabundance of bile. During the Renaissance and early Enlightenment, she would have been sent to an astrologer to gain insight into the configuration of stars at the time of her birth. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras her clothing would have been too restrictive to allow for any destructive behavior or movement. The first half of the 20th century saw the advent of shame as a behavior modification tool, which was quickly supplanted by the useless time out, favored by parenting tomes and pedantic nannies. I would recommend a course of leeches to correct her choleric, bilious nature and restore some of her more phlegmatic humours.

Dear Blicky Kitty,

What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job and now I’m afraid we won’t be able to keep our home.

Signed, Frightened in Fresno

Come, Man! Bring in some barrels for the help!

Dear Frightened,

Here at the Blicky Kittty Manse we’ve enacted certain forced austerity and adversity preparation measures so that we will continue so enjoy boundless prosperity. Try getting a nuclear power plant to run the landscape lighting around your grounds and the recessed lighting in the fish pond. Maybe you can let go the evening butler or the catnip buyer. At the very least, limit health insurance to your most cherished domestics. You can also buy them all gloves with the fingers cut off. Some of your servants could wear a barrel if they’re working away from the eyes of polite company. You can save a lot of money during the holidays if you switch from caviar to smoked salmon and don’t invite Mary Hartman or Frad Grandy unless you buy your wine directly from an importer. Grandfather Blicky made that same mistake during the Great Depression with Tallulah Bankhead to his great and ignoble detriment.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Holiday Tragedy in Gingerville: A Cautionary Tale

Skip: "Ahhhh, another beautiful and prosperous morning in Gingerville. The doves are cooing, the air smells like fresh cinnamon... I think I'll go buy some expensive gifts for my improbably gorgeous and well-preserved wife. Maybe some candy diamonds from Bulgari. A new frosted evening gown from Versace or maybe some sugar injections for her latest pair of candy buttons. She's looking as hot as she did the day she first came out of the oven." 
Skip: "Oh Bernard Madoff, so nice to see you! My portfolio is doing so well these days, all thanks to you. See you at the country club! You're my hero."
Madoff: "Raahhr, raaahh, raaarh."

Blicky: "Meow, need get more investors to cover shortfall. Just listen to meow."
Madoff: "Raaahr, raahhh, raahr."
Skip: "Hi Honey, nice candy buttons. I got myself a new candy Armani suit on the way home and look, a brand new candy Cartier necklace. Just think, all we started out with was some flour, spices, baking soda, confectioner's sugar and some cream of tartar."
Honey: "oohhh."
Madoff: "Raarh, raah, hand over that shirt raahr!"
Skip: "Noooooo!"
Madoff: "Raaarh, raaargh, nice oven rack, raarh. Husband's lost his shirt, raaarh"
Honey: "Ooohhhh?"
Thomas the Tank Engine: "Bust my buffers, someone's on the track Annie and Clarabel! He's weaving around and it looks like he's had too much brandy in his egg nog. Is someone pushing Madoff? Call-Sir-Topham-Hatt!" CRASSSHHH....

Honey: "OOooohhhh!"

We just wanted to let you know that no actual cookies were harmed in the making of this tale as we do not condone culinary violence (or even heresy), and it was all just red sugar and prosthetics.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Trees in Our Back Yard

I'm missing spending more time in the blickosphere. Here are some images were taken by my brother-in-law in the midst of this snowy snowy weekend in Massachusetts:

North Wind

hissing through barren boughs
dispensing discontent,
cold as a witch’s kiss.

Scandalmonger of the fields,
grips ragweed by the forelock
to lay across the line
and beat away the dirt.

Hickory switch, finger wagging
at a giggle of snowflakes
leapfrogging through ochre fields
and playing knock-knock—

upon her parlor door.

—Debbie Ouellet

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'll Get You Humanz

My stoopid humanz trying furryously to make all her gifts this year and terned me into this stoopid card for the second graid class. Now I will be mockt... 

She duznt no I ate the ginny pig she rapped up for tha kids. He tasted jus like chikken. Thay wont mok me wen thayr crying. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Muse Swings: Bloggyland Christmas Tour - What A Day!

Muse Swings: Bloggyland Christmas Tour - What A Day!

Blicky: Stuck in Virtual Traffic?

We’ve had spotty internet access this week because of ice storms. I was so sad to miss out on the bloggy fun! I had the gifts all wrapped and the wine all mulled! Here it is late anyway! 

Welcome bloggy friends! Brrrr come on in it’s cold here in Massachusetts! Feel free to take off your shoes and stay awhile. Oh no, a certain little someone has drawn with magic marker on our living room carpet. Almost forgot this is bloggy land though. Just let me open Photoshop and get rid of that. Oh now the kids are making a racket, what did you say? Hold on, I’ll just open Photoshop again. I’ll just paste in a nice picture of them playing angelically. Please help yourselves to some mulled wine and grab a seat near the fire. It’s actually punch. A friend from Austria taught me to make it the traditional way at a party last night. You make caramel in the pot with a hunk of butter and about two cups of sugar. Then you add some hot water. Watch out! It gets hot and bubbles up. While the water heats up you have to stir up all the hardened caramel on the bottom. Then you add two cups of wine and two cups of orange juice and heat it all up with some black tea and mulling spices. When it’s had a chance to steep a bit you add some rum according to your taste…and tolerance. Of course it’s best if you get the Austrian kind which lends a subtle cherry flavor.

We found a beautiful Christmas tree this year. It’s prettier when you can see it against the pine trees in the woods out back, but my Photoshop skills are limited. I love looking at the ornaments because they come from all over the world. One comes from the Marshal Islands where my sister went as a Peace Corps volunteer. Some of them came from the Kindermarkt in Munich, some my parents bought in Europe when I was little, one comes from Thailand where my Mom traveled with my sister and many of them are of the more prosaic homemade variety.

Look for your name on the gift cards. Email me at BlickyKitty@comcast.net if you can't find your name because there's one for everyone. I’ve been really generous here on the blogosphere since I can make all things appear magically through Photoshop legerdemain. The first one is for our intrepid and gracious hostess, Cynthia at Muse Swings. It’s the-most-beautiful-Christmas-ornament-in-the-whole-world. I know...they were almost out. I got the last one. Kat gets this illustrated first edition of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Deb gets a gift card good for an unlimited shopping spree on the Champs Élysées (and a special place in my advent prayers). Lavinia is getting a bejeweled keychain from Cartier to keep track of the keys to her many castles, chalets, flats and mansions in sundry places across the globe. Mary gets the original Cold Meiser puppet from the old puppet Christmas special. Margaret at Nanny Goats in Panties will receive the actual Greek muse, Thalia (muse of comedy and bucolic poetry) for her new writing endeavors. She was impossible to wrap so I just altered the scale in Photoshop and put her in a box. Willow at Life at Willow Manor gets season box tickets to the opera in Rome. Over at Cassoulet Cafe I was going to give a universal translator for shady Mexican restaurants (by Ronco), but I think prayers are in order for her family friend. All those super saucy SITS girls each get a leopard skin upholstered settee and a box of Godiva bon-bons. For my new friends at Humor Bloggers I’m getting rubber chickens (all in elegantly wrapped packaging) and wiggley Fozzie Bear ears. Anna at Life just Keeps getting Weirder gets the Rolling Stones (I got them all to get into the box but Keith Richards is wandering around in the basement) because she totally rocks. The always awesome Mel at Bean Sprouts gets a solar-powered clothes dryer. Hot Belly Mama gets a little kumquat...but not from me. Stevie Wren gets the Flight of the Conchords to perform at her next function. I bought Mama over at whatmamasaysgoes a wet nurse good for one full night's sleep, but she was a challenge to wrap because her lactating breasts crinkled up my paper.

Help yourself to some cookies! I’ve been trying out different recipes for my eldest kitten’s class party. Apparently there is now another mom in Mrs. F’s second grade class who bakes. One day my kitten arrived home looking a little bashful and said, “Mumma, Catherine’s mom made these cookies for the Thanksgiving party and everyone said they were sooo good. It made me feel bad because your cookies are special and I wanted them to be everyone’s favorite. Hers were really fancy looking but yours taste better.”

These moments provide us with those rare teaching opportunities. I will treasure forever the special conversation that ensued. I looked into her earnest little eyes and searched for words that would convey the true meaning of Christmas and teach her about how to negotiate her way in the world. Pulling her close to me I said:

“She’s goin DOWN!”


“Gee! I feel a chill. What’s the thermometer doing? .....Goin’ DOWN!”


“She should take the elevator and press “G” cause she’s .....goin’ DOOOWN!”


Want a joke? “What does Catherine’s mom have in common with the Nasdaq the Dow, and the Nikkei averages? There all .....goin' DOWN!”


“Knock knock. Who’s there? .....You’re goin’ DOOOWWN!”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Crush

The phenomenon of the Crush has long been a topic of fascination to me because I realized long ago that I didn't get crushes like normal people. I just don't see the fun in hopping on the bandwagon with the celebrity crush. I tried that long ago but neither Donny Osmond nor Eric Estrada ever answered my letters. Since then I've never understood why my only crushes either last 5 minutes or focus on unconventional recipients.

Here are some of my crushes over the years:
I really don't have any explanation for myself here.

Roberto Benigni is just plain hysterical, especially if you've spent any time in Tuscany and funny men are just awesome, which is why I married one. I almost had a chance to meet him once in Italy and the crush vanished. I think I just had a platonic crush because of how he made me see things to love in people and how sweet he is about his principessa.

I know normal women are supposed to get crushes but even the fantasy of it doesn't work for me. Say you actually get to meet your Brad Pitt/George Clooney person. What then? Who's going to watch the kids? Also there's the minor fact that they hang out with chicks that I'm pretty sure are actually a different species from me. They are always magically coiffed and perfectly put together and they never get stinky even though they have to work out non-stop to look that way. When they get pregnant they apparently don't swell up like a big tick and have the guy at the drive-through mistake them for a man (That didn't happen to me. Who said that happened to me?). If Angelina Jolie were an animal and I was an animal, she'd be like a cougar or a doe and I'd be like a marmot or something. Still totally cute, but just a different species. I think also if someone came from a different planet and was all "Hey, just came to check out your planet. What's up?" I'd be all "Whoa, that's so amazing." Then once I got over that initial shock of new planet, greenish tint to the skin, intergalactic travel and all of that, let's say Angelina Jolie shows up. Who would it be weirder for me to stand next to? Honestly. I really couldn't say...

My husband and I each get a crush and his has always been consistent. Yep here she is: 
Wanna hear what an awesome wife I am? I found out that Cindy was actually going to be in town promoting her fine new line of home furnishings. My husband chuckled about it over breakfast and said "too bad I have to work." So at the appointed hour I piled the girls into the car. We're not a fast food family, but I had to stop and get sushi for me and happy meals for the kids to get there on time. I vaguely remember French fries falling out of our blicky old car as we went to meet "Daddy's girlfriend." I had my then 1-year-old in a vice grip as we entered the store. I lunged for a glass of free wine, picked a French fry out of the fold of my fleece jacket and tucked it into a potted plant. Then I waited in line for about an hour and a half with a squirming toddler, a loudly complaining six-year-old and most of the male residents of Seekonk, Massachusetts to obtain Cindy's autograph on one of my daughter's drawings for Daddy. 

We often think, "Oh it's just airbrushing, lighting etc. They're really just like the rest of us." Well, in Cindy's case that is patently false. It's like she's from another universe where everything's pretty and smells nice. Maybe if you have a ton of money you just start looking like that. Maybe she wakes up in the morning and puts a little Money Juice behind each ear and becomes instantly breathtaking. She smiled and said my girls were so cute and all I could think was, "She thinks they're cute! She wants to be my BFF!"  Then "Am I stinky? I bet she can smell French fries and she'll think we eat gross food. I need to go home and groom for like three hours. I'm going blow dry my hair every day and start wearing makeup." I also found myself wondering if she had ever found herself still in pajamas when the school bus came. Our bus driver always asks if I'm wearing my "good pajamas" today --as if I'd actually waste the good pajamas on the bus driver. Anyhow, I just giggled something stupid to poor Cindy and left, but it occurs to me now. I'm a girl (when I'm not pregnant) and here she has this effect on me. How does she make men react?

Speaking of men I think I've finally found a celebrity crush that I can stick to: Jermaine from the Flight of the Conchords. He's like Donny Osmond and Eric Estrada all rolled into one. Hey baby (not the actual baby, I'm saying baby to Jermaine in a sexist way), you like 40 yr. old mummas? Yeah, I bet you do, and I might even break out my good pajamas if you want to make me laugh while I wait for the school bus.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In which a Torpid, Cartoon Sodden GenXer Encounters Her Spirit Animal

Many cultures believe that we share a cosmic affinity with a totem or spirit animal. In some communities, the coming of age ritual involved a journey into the wilderness to await some vision of their spirit animal. I always imagined mine would be something noble or beautiful, like a lion or a deer.

My majestic spirit animal finally did come to me in one of my direst moments on the ledge of a cliff. You might be asking yourself how it was that I found myself on a cliff in the first place. Well, over the course of my impetuous youth, one of my activities of choice was rock climbing. In all honesty, it started out as a way to impress my esteemed and nearly un-impressible older sibling who was an avid climber. But I grew to enjoy the feel of the rock and how my fingers thought their way over its surface, the fatigue and exhilaration I felt at achieving something I thought I couldn't and, of course...the view from the top.

One year my brother and I travelled to Tahoe to visit my friends and do some rock climbing. This is an image of the cliff. It's called Lover's leap. I have no memory of which route it was (Pop Bottle?) on the cliff. Below is a picture of Blicky climbing there. See those tiny things that appear if you really, really squint. Yes, waaayyy down there at the bottom? Those are trees. Tall ones. At this altitude the wind blows pretty hard and it's hard to hear your older brother/climbing sensei guiding you up the face of the cliff. 
We were on our last pitch and my brother was at the summit belaying me. There was a slight overhang on the first part of the climb that was beyond my pathetic skill level and I just couldn't start up. My legs were shaking from a combination of fatigue and fear that I think some refer to as "the sewing machine effect." Did I mention how far down the treetops were?See?? I think falls from this height have been scientifically shown to make the Coyote and Roadrunner whistling plummet noise, followed by a thump and a cloud of dust at the bottom. I kept shouting up to my brother that I couldn't do the move but most of his responses were inaudible. I'm not quite sure what my options would have been if I hadn't made it. Maybe I would've just stayed there and subsisted on rattlesnake and cliff bars stolen from hapless climbers. I think my brother would've figured something out, but then I would've had to endure the shame of having been hefted up that last pitch and the resulting ignominy. 

At some point we resolved that I would just have to try my hardest while he tried to pull me over that first ledge. I was completely paralyzed by fear. But all of a sudden my fear washed away and my spirit animal appeared to me -- that noble creature that best represents my inherent dignity and stately sense of gravitas.
Yep and here he is (he stopped in to help us string some lights this afternoon). That day on the ledge, all I could picture was the MetLife commercial where Snoopy struggles up a cliff, making these cute little grunts of exertion. Ultimately, there was nothing impressive about the move; my sorry, sorry arse had to be mostly hauled through it, and it's not like it was a super difficult climb (5.6, 5.7). But after I thought of Snoopy my fear literally vanished. These days I no longer climb and I do not permit kittens of mine to scale anything bigger than a breadbox. Maybe this will prevent them from ever encountering their own animal totems. But you know what? The cartoons they watch would just make matters worse. SpongeBob (OK they're not really allowed to watch at home) would just cry until his eyeballs bulged out and My Little Ponies (again, not really allowed) would just sing a song and encourage them to apply sparkly fruit flavored lip gloss.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Le Cirque d'Honte

We thought we knew this family. We read their charming little quips for a whole generation when the cereal box got too boring. But the truth finally comes out. Through years of indefatigable determination Blicky has found the evidence he needs to expose this family for who they really are:
Mommy says if I keep skipping meals I can look just like Barbie and then I can go to the Pretty Princess Pageant in Florida. She said food should taste like shame.
Daddy what does d-i-v-o-r-c-e mean? Does it mean we're getting ice cream?
Mommy's sayin' that Daddy should fork over the cash for Billy's spechul school since he dropped him on his head way more than she did. She says we're all a little slow on the uptake which I think means we like ice cream. 
Mommy is this where they sell the pills that make you so sleepy you forget to make us dinner?

Feel free to add your own.

I know this is a  lot to take in so I'll leave you with something to make you smile:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Have Award Meow

Cue the orchestra. Blicky Kitty is honored to confer the coveted prize — Blicky Kitty's Blogs Worth Stalking. He will of course be stalking each blog personally. Please know that the nominees are so many that we must hold various ceremonies to include all candidates, so be on the lookout for more awards. The first goes to my awesome bloggie friend Cynthia at Muse Swings. She holds forth on everything from Victorian social codes to wonderful creative cyber happenings and parties that bring so many fun bloggers together. Blicky adds "social security number 352-86-0286, many Bit 'O Honey wrappers found in refuse, monitor for subversive content, must subdue canines."

The next award goes to Anna at Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder for making female facial hair cool again and for being a reliable source of audible mirth. I'm just one of a lively throng of acolytes over there. Blicky adds, "SS# 637-87-0246, found one discarded dental hygiene calendar in garbage, subject is a master of disguise, must stalk with caution."

If like me you've been searching for a blog that would provide updates on Middle Eastern beauty pageants for goats, and the best letter ever written to soon to be ex-boss look no further than Granny Goats in Panties. She actually needs a separate link for her trophy case, so Blicky coated this jpg with an extra layer of dust-resistant Scotch Guard. Blicky notes, "SS# not on file, flagged by the FBI. Found in garbage: empty take-out containers, board game rule books and scrap pieces of shelf-liner."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seattle For the Culturally Sensitive Traveler

Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We just disembarked in Boston this evening. Here's a picture of the event because it's about time I realized that you, gentle readers, need to see my actual visage (I know, my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard).
Before I share my groundbreaking cultural observations about Seattle, I wanted to briefly impart some techniques for surviving the 6 hour flight with a 3 and 7 yr. old without the benefit of the cartoon network that features 24 hour feed of sea creatures with athletic, prominently-veined eyeballs and commercials peddling products designed to turn little girls into Slutz and little boys into thugs. Unfortunately, this technique requires a black felt pen and opposable thumbs, but luckily I got a little help from Blicky. Oh, and also my Awesome-Rock-Star-of-a-Sister manages to get cooler and more awesome every time I see her, which is perplexing because she pretty much ruled the world when I used to sneak in her room and steal her Bonnie Bell soda-flavored lip gloss.

I really feel like my knowledge and experience of Seattle is so vast now that I know it better than most residents. In fact, if you live in Seattle and have any questions feel free to email. The first surprising fact is that they don't all sit around and talk about the rain all day, and if you repeatedly refer to their meteorological challenges (So, how about this rain? Hey, don't overdose on vitamin D out there! What did the swarthy REI-clad raindrop say to the cute, socially conscious female raindrop? I'm falling for you! Hey how's your Seasonal Affective Disorder doing? You're all 'Whoa! Look at me, I'm so depressed!' Seriously, we should really call for help. I'll dial 1-206-WHOA-ITS-WICKED-RAINY) they don't clap and pronounce you the most culturally sensitive visitor ever. In fact they seem to just avert their eyes and shoot glares at the person who invited you. The other interesting fact is that even footwear in Seattle is apparently expected to be functional and English riding boots do not impress anyone as outdoorsy. 

Now, on a professional note: I was lucky enough to document for the first time, some real native Seattle-ites of Medieval European origins in their indigenous surroundings. I have already been contacted by the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian, but remember you saw them here first. Below, we see a sword battle in a local park that still contains some true indigenous Euro-Seattletonians (as one should say in culturally sensitive circles). They were quite bloodthirsty by the looks of them, so we just tried not to make any sudden movements and hid our young. 
That whole Microsoft/Boeing thing must be a myth too because their technology was quite crude. Their weapons were held together with duct tape (which of course finds it's origins in European Medieval heraldic tradition) and I believe that's a garbage can cover in the battle below. They must be privy to some amazing forms of traditional healing because we observed that after a vigorous sword battle where several of them are slain and the victors skulk away furtively, they are inexplicably resuscitated and fully able to return to their habitat in a mysterious region of Seattle called Parentsbasement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

While I'm Away...

I'll take advantage of the superior creative energy of others while I'm out of town:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fancy feast? Check. Running shoes? Check. The entire staff here at BK is off to Seattle for a fun-filled week-long fiesta with The-Most-Awesome-Rock-Star-Of-A-Sister and her family. Perhaps we'll do some blogging from the top of the Space Needle, perhaps we'll just sit around on our cyber arses and do nothing. We've been there before so we know how to blend in: 
1. Don't wear anything stylish. It has to come from REI and no high heels.
2. Do outdoorsy stuff. We're planning to climb Mount Ranier -- for about 15 minutes. 
3. Know how to behave like a native. We plan on spending most of our time drinking tons of awesome coffee and doing socially responsible stuff.
Said Old Gentleman Gay, “On a Thanksgiving Day,
If you want a good time, then give something away.”
So he sent a fat turkey to Shoemaker Price,
And the shoemaker said, “What a big bird! how nice!
And since a good dinner’s before me, I ought
To give poor Widow Lee the small chicken I bought.”

“This fine chicken, oh, see!” said the pleased Widow Lee,
“And the kindness that sent it, how precious to me!
I would like to make some one as happy as I—
I’ll give Washerwoman Biddy my big pumpkin pie.”
“And oh, sure,” Biddy said, “’tis the queen of all pies
Just to look at its yellow face gladdens my eyes.

Now it’s my turn, I think; and a sweet ginger cake
For the motherless Finigan children I’ll bake.”
“A sweet cake, all our own! ’Tis too good to be true!”
Said the Finigan children, Rose, Denny, and Hugh;
“It smells sweet of spice, and we’ll carry a slice
To poor little Lame Jake—who has nothing that’s nice.”

“Oh, I thank you, and thank you!” said little Lame Jake;
“Oh, what beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cake!
And oh, such a big slice! I will save all the crumbs,
And will give ’em to each little sparrow that comes!”
And the sparrows they twittered as if they would say,
Like Old Gentleman Gay, “On a Thanksgiving Day,

If you want a good time, then give something away.”

—Marian Douglas.

Source: A Treasury of Verse for Little Children, edited by M. G. Edgar, illustrated by Willy Pogany

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mo Vengo!

We are on our way to Roma for the Grape Escape thanks to Cynthia at Muse Swings and Lavinia Ladyslipper at the Birdbath Chronicles. We at Blicky Kitty Mousing Around Tours take your cultural enlightment very seriously, so we have scanned the blickosphere for our humble contribution. All you'll need for the tour is an updated version of Quicktime and your Mouse. Oh sorry, could you wait here while I give the servants instructions for my absence (feel free to use your mouse to enjoy the view)?

Here you can see the great travails suffered by armchair travelers of yore; destined to squint into a small device for hours on end, only to emerge cross-eyed and tripping over the ottoman or the children. We, gentle readers, now have the advantage of miraculous mousing technology at our fingertips. Let us start our tour in the Vatican Square where we see the stunning scale and measured elegance of Bernini's colonnades. Be sure to press the green turning arrows then click where you want to view so you can have a good look around. Mmmm... I can almost smell those roasted chestnuts and the soft rustle as a flight of pigeons takes wing.

OK back on the bus. Lavinia, Cynthia stop teasing each other. Did Willow wander off to the opera? Stevie, oh no, she's being swarmed by a crowd hoping to see the sketches she's just made. Anna's being hounded by a tall dark stranger who thinks mustaches are hot. Next stop? Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, OK move your mice on the image to look around. This was built between 1658 and 1678 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Giovanni de' Rossi and is one of the finest examples of Roman Baroque architecture. Here we see a masterful fusion of architectural form and sculptural detail.
Walking Along the Tiber, Rome

OK I think we've lost half the group. They've wandered into a local bar... Oh good Deb, Kat, Queenie you're still here right? Well let's just poke our heads inside of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, shall we? Designed by Francesco Borromini, this masterpiece of Baroque architecture was constructed between 1638 and 1641. Want some more classical antiquity? I'm just going to step into my new time machine sponsored by Google, just click the play button.

The Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome

On the way home we'll just stop in Florence to see the 15th century Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce designed by Brunelleschi. I love it for it's utter simplicity. Last time I was there I was too busy ogling the Giotto frescos and finding the tombs of Rossini, Alberti, Galileo, Michelangelo and Dante (whose mortal coil resides in Ravenna) to appreciate this space.

OK that's about it! Hope you enjoyed your tour. Feel free to email Blickykitty@comcast.net if you've experienced any mouse-related or technical difficulties on our tour. For those of you whose flights connected in France, you might want to make a quick pit stop in Amiens to see the cathedral architecture (click on any of the bulls eye shapes to view). Or if you've always wanted to soar through the clouds like Daedalus into the apse of a gothic cathedral while a wicked smart English dude provides a personal tour but never knew how, click here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blicky; the Baleful Scourge of Your Inbox

I try not to let this get out, but you know those email forwards you get? "Forward this to seven people you care about in the next ten minutes and you will have good luck." As some of you know, I love to devour a good book just as much as good cuisine. So... if Light in August by William Faulkner is a nice roasted chicken in bitter orange and garlic deglazing sauce, and the Sedaris book you fished out of the dump book swap is like a decent pizza, the email forward is the literary equivalent of a week-old pile of fritoes found next to an old pair of shoes in the garage. Well, Blicky actually authors the majority of them. He is out of town this week. I think he and some undisclosed associates have hired a psychic to help them channel the ghost of Lee Atwater so Blicky can make his big comeback in DC. He asked me to write a few in his absence and left me some pointers.
1. Meow lay on the saccharin.
2. No font size is too big, meow.
3. Meow never have too many wiggling animals.
4. Include cute animal or spurious political claim -- or both.
5. Meow, don't be a slave to coherent thoughts.

Ok let's give it a whirl. Feel free to chime in with your own ideas and we can start circulating it. I'm embellishing things from actual email forwards:
Just think, if the entire population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction. 
Which, apparently they can accomplish while staying in line which is a little disturbing but nevertheless impressive and...
Did you know that  111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321? Weird huh?

I believe that children are the future and they will have a future as long as the president isn't a secret Muslim bent on our destruction. 

And we all love children, especially if we've given birth to them while being cruelly forced to stand in line with your entire country.  Always remember that the love that you carry in your heart is many a splendid thing and, like a festering illness, will grow if you pass it along.
Send this to five people you love. If you do, you'll receive an email telling you which common vegetable might be poisoning the children in your life. If you don't, then you probably don't love them anyway. Ok, now I just need a cute animal.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ljubljana, March 1990

Ljubljana is a lesser-known artistic gem of a city. These pictures were taken in March, 1990 about a year before the Ten Day war that established Slovenian Independence and I have often wondered how that war and the strife in Serbia and Croatia touched the lives the people I met there. Dragons are the symbol of the city because, according to Greek myth, Jason and the Argonauts sailed up the Danube after finding the Golden Fleece in Colchis. Jason slew a monster in a lake between present day Vrhnika and Ljubljana. Dragon sculptures grace the whole city. All I really wrote about in my travel journal of a sophomoric 20-something a were the tall handsome men. My journal wouldn't be anything like Eat Pray Love. Maybe a better title would have been  Wander, Drink, Flirt.  Or maybe Drink, Flirt, Behave-Stupidly followed by Wander, Wander, Wander.

This is the marketplace. Countless stalls lined the square selling fresh flowers; daffodils, roses, narcissus as well as fruits, vegetables, herbs, sweaters, baskets and pottery. We stayed with a woman who looked a bit like the vendor pictured above. She rented rooms in her lovely little cottage with an overgrown garden and a little shrine covered with ivy. She was a diminutive person with a broad, warm smile. She wore a black kerchief on her head, a woolen shawl tied around her waist and heavy black woolen socks. She moved so slowly I remember, even when she spoke. German was our only common language. My abilities are usually only good enough to find out someone's zip code, but my friend was able to discern from her the admonition, "be sparing." Yeah didn't make much sense to us either.

This is Ljubljana castle in the background. A year later it would house a TD, (Territorial Defence forces) air defense unit.

There were relatively few American tourists in Yugoslavia in 1990 because countries were just starting to open up after decades of Soviet control. Two young women (one of them six feet tall) attracted some curiosity and this became more pronounced as we traveled further east towards Hungary. Lacking the proper transit vista, we were unceremoniously dumped off the train late at night in downtown God-Knows-Where Yugoslavia. There was a little hotel not far from the station where a large group of people gathered to celebrate the Festa della Donna (like Mother's day). Two very nice women vouched for some young men willing to drive us the 30 KM to the border station in Gorbican where we could obtain vistas. "They are nice boys," they said in lightly-accented English. We had no Yugoslavian money left to buy a train ticket or a hotel, so I guess we thought our best bet would be to get the vistas, then come back to wait for the next train. All I wrote in my journal of course was that one of the boys was good looking, but now it strikes me as an extraordinary kindness. 
We made it safely to the border station and left all our stuff with the boys, who remained in the car and drank. They only had an hour to spare so they asked us to hurry. The Hungarian vistas were relatively easy to obtain. My companion had struck up a conversation with an Italian truck driver whom I was trying to ignore. When they informed us that our vistas were only good for crossing then and there, he offered to drive us in his 18-wheeler to Budapest. Only one of us was allowed to cross back over to get our stuff. I volunteered, yelling "You better love me for this." This apparently earned me some derisive snorts from the Hungarian soldiers who were yelling "Bye-bye, I love you!" after I had run off. I ran the entire way, knowing that the Yugoslavian boys who had helped us would need to get going.  At one point I heard a loud shout and the sound of a rifle being cocked so I slowed down to a walk. Only then did it dawn on me that I was running from one communist border station towards another at full clip in the middle of the night. Later Alberto (the Italian truck driver) informed me that he had heard about someone being shot dead for doing the exact same thing. I guess the important thing is that we made it to Budapest safely (after sharing a meal with two middle-aged Italian truck drivers in the kitchen of a recreation hall in rural Soviet Hungary while a wedding reception took place outside) and that the kittens will not be permitted out of the house until they're 30.