Blogland Lane Logo by our own Tessa Edwards

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Traveling through Italy via Movies and Literature

Lot # 70:  ON HOLIDAY

In the garden, the delphiniums were in flower. Through scented twilight the girl in the white dress walked with a step as light as a cobweb. That evening, she hadn't a care in the world.

Mrs. Delahunty, My House in Umbria

Mrs. Delahunty: I may be dead next month. The moon may have crashed into the earth. Who knows what dreadful things may come to pass? But at the moment, I'm happy. What else matters?

Colonal: Carpe Diem

Mrs. Delahunty: I'm never really sure just what that means.

Colonal: Oh. Seize the day. Embrace the present. Enjoy life while you've got the chance.

Mrs. Delahunty: Carpe Diem. I'll remember that.

My House in Umbria

Lately, I am aware that I have to do just that, carpe diem, because everything seems to have a feeling of impermanence. Not in a dark somber way but in the way that you feel that something's moving and changing.

I wonder why after you hit a certain age, you wake up with memories of people and places that you haven't thought about in a long time. Often fragments of youth-inspired dreams come back to your mind with a strong force. When I was a teen, I wanted to travel to Europe and it became one of my main goals to tour England, Scotland, Ireland as well as France and Denmark. After much saving, planning and determination, I finally was able to make the unforgettable trip. I think my early obsession with travel was connected to my love of romance novels. Though the love story obsession was left in my teenage years,  the enjoyment of other lands and people remained.

I think that's why I love Maggie Smith in My House in Umbria. The film is set in Italy, where she plays the lead character Miss. Emily Delahunty but (as she tells us) her name is not important. In fact, we learn that she has many other nom de plumes and we realize that she actively creates her own fluid identity. She's a writer of romance novels who feels most alive when she's helping others. In one scene, she invites a group of complete strangers to move in with her after a train explosion. Through her engagement with the other characters, we fall in love with her quirky personality. Whenever I want to imagine myself in another life this movie does the trick.

If you can watch My House in Umbria and not yearn to travel to Italy, you are a strong person.  If you are having an Italian themed movie night, you might watch Under the Tuscan Sun or go out to see Letters to Juliet. Both of these movies will make you feel as though you have been in Italy or that it's essential for you to go there now!

I have read the memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun (Frances Mayes), and found it to be richly satisfying. I loaned this book to a close friend who found it tedious with detail about the Italian countryside, garden restorations and house renovations. However, I like these details of ordinary life. I like to see how people make decisions and what occupies their time. I'm interested in both real and spruced-up life. (A little magic making fantasy is fine with me.) Another popular book made into film that has an enchanting section on an vacation in Italy is Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. (Julie Roberts plays the author Gilbert in the movie.) There is another saturate-yourself-in-Italy movie that I have already mentioned in previous blogs, Enchanted April, which documents a life transforming month in an Italian Medieval castle. Gorgeous scenery!

In the London Times, a small classified ad appears:

“To those who appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine:

To let for the month of April - a medieval castle on

the Italian Mediterranean shore.”

Photographs and movie review here.

If you want to explore Italy or imagine yourself there in real life, try Rick Steves' link to travel. Now I wonder, which movies you watch (or books do you read) that bring you into lovely romantic Italy? Have I missed any? 

Do you hear Italian music...


Waking up on the Island of Enchantment that is also know as Puerto Rico, I plan to bake a fragrant pan of vegetarian lasagna, toss a green salad and toast garlic bread.

I promise myself that at every moment I will carpe diem!

On a side note: my struggling gardenia bush finally bloomed after three years of waiting, hoping, and supplementing it with coffee grounds. 

I like to believe that this momentous occasion is symbolic, perhaps it's foreshadowing a trip in the near future?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Where is your home?

Oasis Reflection: Obstacles are a matter of perception...
La Ventana "Windows" Park in Condado. San Juan, Puerto Rico

What is your view?

Recently, I've been reading On Moving: A Writer's Meditation on New Houses, Old Hauts, and Finding Home Again by Louise DeSalvo. the author addresses the topic of "home"and the strong desire people have to choose the perfect home. I started to think about how often people move and how most of us hope that a new location will solve most of our problems.

However, I am sure that we bring our problems with us wherever we go. What I mean is that the cause of our dissatisfaction is often not external, but internal. It's part of our personality and/or is shaped by our attitude.  I admit that like DeSalvo, I love to travel.  I love to imagine my life in those new unknown places; nevertheless, it's healthy to remember that our disturbances come with us wherever we find ourselves.

What do you see in the photograph above? Do you notice the rock in the center? The water flowing over the rocks to form a small pool of water in the right foreground? Or the deep blue ocean in the distance? Our perspective informs what we allow ourselves to see and experience. The rock can be seen as an obstacle to blocking access to the water or an interesting formation to scale up and over - an opportunity to see the unobstructed ocean from the top. However, what we see remains with us no matter where we go.

I believe that we have to be bravely curious about our obstacles in life and learn from these ever present rocks.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.

Excerpt from "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou

Simon and Garfunkel "I am a rock"
© 2014 Cynthia Pittmann

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The Bear is hibernating.

Right here at Blogland Lane. 

He doesn't know if a Bear has ever done this before in our community. But he is doing it. Right now.

Please do not disturbing him. He needs his rest.

(Well, at least, please don't disturb him for a week or two.)

Blessings and Bear hugs, everyone.

P.S.: If you're wondering where he's sleeping, it's in the hole that Cynthia Pittmann discovered. He just needed to enlarge it a bit. Thank you, Cynthia!

Monday, November 3, 2014

I Fell into a HOLE

LOT #70

Photo credit

I fell into a hole.

It really was just a broken place in the sidewalk but I had a flash of insight, which is why I' m writing about it here. The fall was accompanied by one of those familiar memories of the future where an event seems to be repeated but it's the first time it happens - as in déjà vu.  Has this happened before, I questioned. I tried to think of similar experiences of falling. The first memory I thought of happened after moving into a new house in Puerto Rico. I was jogging and following my bliss down a quiet side street

in a romantic dreamy fog when

Photo credit
I noticed a large Victorian house to my right that was set in the middle of a lush green yard filled with slightly overgrown but cultivated plants. (It looked like this photo of a sub-tropical Victorian home in Springfield, Georgia.) Still thinking about the possible residents of this romantic looking home, my senses were jarred by the view of a new condominium building project. Reflecting about the possible demolition of the aging house, I was suddenly shin deep in a small metal encased hole in the sidewalk. I was cut and a bit in shock. I realized that the accident happened because someone did not replace a cover over a water meter. At first, I was angry because of the missing cover, but then I wondered why I didn't see the hole right in front of me. I felt uneasy as I remembered that when I was younger, I was often told that

I had my head in the clouds. I was a daydreamer. 

Keep your eyes on the road! (photo credit)
Once while driving on the scenic panoramic route on California's coastal highway (California State Route 1), I was so captivated and excited by the view that I nearly drove off the cliff. Talk about entering the moment! So I remember that time of falling into the hole and wondered if I was daydreaming. I keep thinking of Alice and her adventures while she was falling into a hole. I'm showing myself in my own looking glass by observing the way I react.

Thinking now, I remember that I had sprained my ankle exactly twice in my life, and both times I had to be rushed to the emergency room. The first incident happened because I was riding on the butterfly handlebars of a new pink Schwinn bike that my younger brother was steering. (I was twelve.) I was thrilled with the fun loving ride until my foot caught up in the spokes of the front wheel. The second time occurred at the same age. I was when I was sitting on the wheel cover of a tractor driven by my father and my foot slipped into the wheel. In both incidents, I remember the face of the driver, my brother and my dad, looking pained and guilty, which may have contributed to my profound hurt at being wounded. I felt seriously sorry for myself both times. I have an insight as I realize that I want someone else to be guilty and sorry when I am hurt.

The incident of falling into an uncapped-water-meter hole on the sidewalk repeatedly returns to my mind because I notice that I'm looking for someone to blame.

Years ago when I moved to Puerto Rico, I complained to my director about the parking problem at work. I am a bit ashamed to admit to it now but I was overly critical. It bothered me that people would park their cars everywhere and sometimes double park so that I could not leave. In busy times, cars were parked on the sidewalks or drivers would create a middle parking lane behind the legally parked vehicles, which made it impossible for them to leave because they arrived early enough to park their car in an assigned space. My director listened to my explanation about being late to class because I was blocked in and she said, "Yes, this is a small island and parking is competitive." Was I supposed to infer that people didn't have a choice but to break the rules? My angry reaction to illegal parking occurred many years ago. I've learned that rules are flexible and subject to interpretation by the drivers.

The most recent time I fell into a hole, I realized my orientation had changed. I no longer took it for granted that the sidewalk ahead would be evenly paved over. I accepted that I needed to look out for myself in this life. I know I cannot prevent every falling incident (read mistake) from occurring but I noticed that I have accepted responsibility for my own well being rather than blaming others. I realized that thinking or focusing on someone's behavior (rather than my own) resulted in my victimization. I have to pay attention in life.

Living in Puerto Rico (where my expectations are frequently challenged) has taught me to pay attention. I'm grateful for this experience.

© Cynthia Pittmann 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Work and Inspiration

Change/ I’m organizing people, tasks, plans at work and in my dreams. I’m living my work life twice, once awake and once asleep. Let me out!/ Walking down the street, I’m shucked as new corn – Exposed, raw, open. It’s New York City in the fall Curtains blown through - caught, held, pinned. (Muse refuse?)/ Outside the box walking through Washington Square in clear air Green corners filled out In secret places rendezvous and parlez-vous “Bonjour mes amies!”/ Feeling life, living, alive Holding together, letting go Convex, concave light and loose … willpower? – it’s now or never./

  © Cynthia Pittmann 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Red Hibiscus on Lot #70

The hibiscus flower and its short life reminds me that all life is brief as are all experiences.

Hibiscus  is a relatively common flower that I've encountered in California and other places in the United States. However, in Puerto Rico the Hibiscus is the Flower of Puerto Rico and has some differences from the common flower I've seen elsewhere. They grow to a smaller size than elsewhere and are individual single flowers supported by a long leafy base. Nevertheless, I consider all of these tropical flowers wherever they are grown to be delightful. Knowing that the bud will open one morning into a flower that will last but one day, does not detract from their beauty. In fact, when the potted hibiscus blooms on the porch (as it did this morning), I remind myself to delight in this moment because in 24 hours this bloom will close and be gone forever. Isn't that an important reminder about all life and experience?

I'm reminded by the Hibiscus to appreciate the beauty of all life experience because each event is here now, and never will return in the same way. For example, our children are only young for a short time.  When the two year old innocence is gone, it is replaced by another version of that same child. Every stage of growth is wonderful and awful knowing that it will be experienced as both a blessing and another loss. The nostalgia you feel when looking at your children's childhood photographs provides evidence that this is true.

We have to learn to love, appreciate deeply, and then let go and move on to embrace the next moment.

Every difficult moment has it's own life expectancy, too. We should cultivate observing the gift in this transitory moment regardless of judgement. Breathe and notice.  This skill requires attention and a willingness to experience each moment in all of its thrilling (or frightening) beingness.

The hibiscus flower and its short life reminds me that all life is brief as are all experiences. It is indeed important to know this fact and to confront forgetfulness - to remember, I am alive. You are alive. What are we waiting for?  

Let us embrace this moment!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Letting Go on Lot #70


Life and Letting Go

Sitting on the porch step perplexed and
Pondering wherefore, whence and whatever! 
However, how come, hence and finally,
What goes around, comes around.
Return,  depart and what happened? 

My little boy is growing up, 
Just the way he should. He's 
Moving out and becoming 
All that he wants to be. 
I'm happy-sad, spilling over 

Confusion and curtailed honesty.
Must be strong. Be well. Be better
But my boy is moving out. Starting
To fly (I almost pushed him 
Out of this house-nest)

So say it loud!
Say it clear! Deep breath:
Be well! It's time. 
Bye hon. Bon voyage! (and 
Buck up, Mom.)

Sending love and hugs!