So, I am in Praiano, and my friend Deb joined me here on Sunday. The Amalfi coast is more beautiful than any place I have ever been. It's stunning. And stunningly steep. I thought the stairs of Vernazza kicked my ass, but this town is so steep that when I checked into this rental house, Mr. Tony got me all settled and then said, "When do you want to go to the market? I will send a car, you will shop, and they will bring you back home." It's so f'ing steep here that even restaurants will come pick you up for dinner because if you don't have a car or scooter, there is no way you can really get around.
So the downside is that it's not that easy to go get gelato. The upside is that the views are magnificent.
God bless Deb, because she brought her computer. So, this is the first German-glare-free internet moment I have had since I got to Italy. And today, right now, is the first time I have been able to use it because our wireless was broken until this morning, when Mr. Tony said he would call a guy to come fix it. And who shows up? The police. And frankly, I thought they were here to arrest us because we're very low on toilet paper and I vaguely remember Deb proudly showing me a fist full of TP swiped from the restaurant bathroom and after that bottle of wine I thought that was hilarious, but also awesome, because we really need it. And then I saw the policeman coming up and I thought, "They know. We're busted." But he was the internet guy. The police showed up to fix our internet. I suppose it only makes sense that a guy who can unstick notorious Amalfi coast traffic jams can also unstick the interwebs for the hopeless TP-thieving American girls up on the hill.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I leave for 6 days and you guys let Henry Louis Gates, Jr get arrested at his OWN HOUSE? Seriously, guys. WTF?
Because I am paying like 80 billion euros a minute to be on this computer, I could only skim the details, but jesus h christ.
Anyway - that makes me angry just thinking about it, so I need to move on. Let's talk about me.
I was supposed to go to Lucca today, but the woman who rents her aparment to me, Louisa, shook her head disapprovingly at me and said in mostly Italian with enough hand gestures and serious looks for me to translate exactly what she meant to say, which was approximately, "Oh, but it's molto caldo (so hot!). The Lucca people, they come here now, to the sea. Too hot in Lucca. You go in May." And like the 3 nights before, I humbly ask if I can stay again and she smiles broadly as I produce my euros and she says, "Ah, si, va bene." And that is how Louisa gets me.
Louisa is living high on the hog now. MY HOG, I may add. The day I arrived tough winds blew apart a few of her potted plants. The next day she came to my (her) white-washed apartment and showed me a new cactus she bought to replace one of the old. She was beaming. And then the next night I saw her walking with her old friend, going to dinner. To dinner! With my fat euros in her pocket. And then yesterday she warned me that today she would be gone mezzo giorno and that she was getting her throat checked. After a long mutual mime-attempt at understanding one another, we managed to act out that she has lesions on her throat and would be heading to La Spezia to have it checked out. She would be getting "exams" and doing "exclusions" (ruling things out, I think she meant). Look at her. Flush with American money, she's splurging on exploratory surgery. The nerve.
Every time she comes to see me, she looks out the window with me, at the tower, and the pink and yellow and pastel green buildings with the laundry fluttering underneath windows and she beams, saying to me, "It's special here," like she needs to make sure that I understand just how great it is to be here, in this town, in this house.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I love that phrase. I don't even have balls, but I can certainly imagine the suffering of men who get those things stuck to their thighs in the hot, hot heat. It's not a nice thing to think about. And let me tell you this: It's hot as balls in Vernazza today, and everyone's junk is in a pinch. There's no avoiding it.
Despite some of you telling me that my luggage situation wouldn't work, I am delighted to report that this ain't my first time at the rodeo. It was a breeze and I made it through without checking bags.
Milan is a dump. I spent one night there and felt like clawing my way out. Get me ON THE TRAIN. A train to anywhere but here. You know that big famous duomo in Milan? It's gorgeous, but guess what everyone is cropping out of the pictures? A gigantic Times-Square-like LCD screen with ads running on it. Italy, I thought we talked about this... you're not supposed to modernize in garish ways... that's what Americans are supposed to do. You're supposed to stay the same and never change. Keep it classy, Italy.
Other questions I just saw require follow up. I have angry Germans staring at me while I type this at the internet cafe (to their credit they are in a LINE glaring at me, so that's one redeeming thing. Germans and Americans are the only ones who know how to get in a line. I am talking to YOU Italians and French at the Manarola boat today....)
Make up: Great Lash (of course), Nars lip gloss in... I dunno, actually, but it's the best. I will get the name later if you care. Small powder compact, blush, liquid eyeliner, Stila lipstick, MAC concealer. That's about it, but that's all I ever really wear.
The dresses. Yes, I know I brought 4 and they are all black. As I mentioned, it's hot as balls here and the dresses are perfect because they are both breezy, and they don't show stains, so I can sit on a dirty bench or dusty rocks while I wait for the boat, and it's no big deal. Today I am wearing cuffed up jeans and a white tunic with jingly-jangling gold bracelets and gold hoops. And I did the walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola in this get-up because, well, it's hot as balls and I am going to sweat in anything I could possibly wear, so why not. Once on the boat, it was so windy it was good to be wearing jeans, actually.
The BEST thing I packed so far, however, was this wispy-thin swim cover-up from anthropology. Good over a suit, and good over a tank. Just plain good. And it's not black. So, you know, bonus points for breaking the mold with that one.
Alright. The Germans are about to declare war on me, and you know how THAT goes.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Lots to do between now and Saturday. Goodbye for now. See you in a few weeks. (I turned on comment moderation while I am gone. I can't trust leaving you kids at home with my weed and that liquor cabinet, after all.)
While I am gone, I encourage you to visit:
The hilarious pop-culture commentary of Scented Glossy Magazines.
My beloved Isuwannee
MORE Nick Olsen
At Home At Home
The original palace of decor porn, Desire to Inspire
THIS hilarious advice column.
And my favorite blogger-who-doesn't-blog-enough-dammit, Brown Turtleneck Sweater.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"How in the world did you pack for three weeks using a carry on? Could you be very specific?
This is what Nikki asked me in the comments section of THIS post. (For those joining the program in progress, I am heading to Italy for 3 weeks on Saturday.)
So, to be specific, as requested, here was the packing gameplan:
Thank god it's summer. I didn't have to pack heavy things.
I bought a wheeled backpack. Already, I think this was a mistake because it was expensive and I will probably never use the backpack part except when hauling my stuff up stairs in Cinque Terre and in Praiano, but nevertheless, this seemed like the most versatile option. It also has an extra backpack that zips onto the actual wheeled luggage piece. Now, there is no way in hell I will actually be wearing the backpack in Italy, but the brilliant part is that it's extra storage and can be zipped off and put under my seat on the airplane, while reducing the size of the whole pack and allowing me to stow the main luggage piece in overhead compartments so I don't have to check my baggage. You with me so far? Good.
Next, here is what I packed:
1 pair of tiny flat jeweled leather sandals. Because someone has to compete with blinged-out Eurotrash while I am there. (Why do people get so intimidated dressing up for Italy. Have you SEEN europeans? There is just as much bad taste over there. There. I said it.)
1 pair of purple t-strap flat sandals.
1 pair black Havaianas. For the pool. For the beach. You know the drill.
1 pair of low-heeled black patent open-toed Prada sandals. For dinner and whatnot. When I need to look pulled together and not fall down on cobblestone streets.
1 pair of really light kickass Pumas in case I decide to hike anything.
1 pair of lightweight Lululemon sport yoga pant thingies. Also in case I decided to hike between Cinque Terra towns. I never wear this stuff unless I am actually doing something athletic (so rare, trust me). Can double as jammies. (I never sleep in the nude. I am a prude American.)
Bras and undies. Enough for a week.
1 big fuchsia cashmere scarf. I always bring it on the plane when I travel. It's a long flight. I will be cold on it.
1 of these THESE in black. Emergency blanket/scarf/sarong. So useful, so cheap, so light, so why not? My swim sarong.
1 pair of jeans. Because I am an American. If you Google "What should I wear in Italy?" people say, "Not jeans!" Well, they mean ugly-ass jeans people wear with white sneakers. These are cuffed-up Jackie-O-style jeans to go with a white tunic, gold necklace, nice sandals, and big sunglasses. A happy casual travel uniform.
4 lightweight black dresses. I live in these. Short, but not too short. Lightweight, dry quickly, perfect for a swim cover-up or going out to dinner. When I was in Argentina, someone told me, "You don't look like an American." I was wearing my favorite black dress then. It was a compliment. Why not pack an LBD? It's not like I am going to be walking all day. I don't need zip-off pants and Ex-Officio quick-dry buttoned-woven sexless shirts. Why do people pack for europe like it's adventure travel? It's not.
THIS. To ward off chill and cover up in churches. I know it looks very early-onset-Eileen Fisher, but it's super cute and the fabric is excellent.
Gold necklace (two, actually).
Fancy-ass blinged out diamond earrings (see Eurotrash comment above)
Basic black sunglasses.
Kindle, with a bunch of books loaded on to it.
Toiletries. (Enough to get me started. I can always buy more stuff when I get there. It's not like it's a third-world country.)
Starter-euros, passport, and reservation information.
DK Top Ten Rome
The Luxe Guides to Rome, Venice, and Florence. (Have you read these? Oh, god. Bitchy and hilarious and smart. I highly recommend, although the hotel recommendations are too pricy for me.)
Rick Steves. I won't lie. He's geeky, but he's practical. Where other guides want to on about Michaelangelo, I just want to know how to get to the fucking train station. He's your guy for that.
DK Italian Phrase Book (with the companion CD loaded onto my IPod shuffle)
That's a lot of books, I know.
I feel gross owning all three, but I do. Oh, well. The shuffle has a ridiculously long battery life, the iPod had more music on it. The iPhone, well, it's my phone. Loaded with the ATT international phone plan with isn't really a great deal, but better than regular charges. Note to self: turn data OFF before I go, or prepare for a $1000 phone bill.
-Little Nikon digital camera. I love film and like to print, actually, but there is no way I can take better photos of Italy than have already been taken, so a point and shoot is all I need. I am not a big photo-nerd on vacations, anyway. The mind's eye is a better companion, after all.
-Cables to charge all this nonsense
-Neutrogena 85 SPF sunscreen with Helioplex. I have good skin. I do not plan on fucking it up under the Tuscan sun, thank you very much.
-Three BAGGU for shopping, bringing things on the boat around Capri during our day trip, packing wet swimsuits, and whatnot
-Hot-pink satin clutch
-Painkillers (My ankles are fusing together. I insist on walking. I refuse to wear sensible shoes. One thing leads to another.)
-Lanvin Hero shoulder bag. Because it's so very un-fanny pack.
Things I am going to try to cram on last-minute if at all possible:
-Miu Miu slingback platform sandals. Because they are tall without a lot of pitch. And I like tall.
-A lightweight coat with ridiculous sleeves and collar that would be nice to wear to dinner in Venice.
-My vintage fur stole for the plane, because I think that would be funny sitting in coach, but I am pretty sure this won't make the cut. (These are the things I think are funny while I blog drinking wine. Go figure.)
The key (I hope)? Wear simple things again and again and pack accessories. It's not a fashion show, so I don't mind repeating outfits. Week two I am renting a house, with a washing machine. In that regard, I really only have to pack for a week, and I get the middle week to do laundry as needed.
There you go. A lot of little stuff that all fits in my 22" wheeled bag.
Yay me. Yay Italy. Yay not wearing white sneakers in Italy. Go America!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday. I leave on Saturday. Three weeks. Milan (just to sleep) then Cinque Terre, the hill towns, lots of wine. Week two, Praiano on the Amalfi Coast, where my friend Deb will join me (so glad I won't have to drink alone, Deb!), then week three to Rome to meet my man. Then Florence, then Venice.
I don't know what my internet situation will be. I am not sure how much blogging the ol' Decorno will manage. I am sure you will hardly notice I am gone.
But I have packed already. (Shocking, because I love to procrastinate.) And it all fits in a carry on. So, now I am just sitting here thinking, "Well, hell, why don't I fly out tomorrow?"
Yeah. Why don't I?
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Let's all agree to stop using the word "curated" in any non-art context. It's driving me insane. Today I flipped through some ridiculous magazine called Monocle. They proudly announced the success of their store which sold "carefully curated" shit.
Let's add to this list "gastropub".
Feel free to add other words to the grave in the comments section.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Let's help her redecorate. Suggestions? Go.
Do you guys think she knew what Bernie was up to? I know so little about my man's job, he could be running a drug cartel from his advertising agency job for all I know. So I really can't sort this one out. But she still made off with $2.5m, so no tears for Ruthie. For $2m, you can afford to buy the place and fix it up. Ruth, better go get some books on small-space style, stat.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
It means The Grey Lady writes about homes and interiors, so I drag your ass OVER THERE to read all about it. This time, it's the New York dream apartment... tiny, bohemian, light-filled, romantic. And rare.
I've really wanted one, but couldn't think of a reason I really, really needed it. But as I've been trying to figure out how I will pack everything I need for three weeks in Italy into one 22" carry-on backpack (yes, it's true), I've been crossing some books off my packing list. And if I only pack four books, two will certainly be finished by the time I land in Milan. That's just not going to work.
So I ordered a Kindle today. It helps that they just lowered the price. (Although at $299, it's still not exactly cheap). Thanks to Amazon Prime, I will have it tomorrow (love that part). I've started stocking up on new Kindle books.The amazing thing is that you can also download a Kindle app for your iPhone, and you can read the books you buy on either your Kindle or your iPhone and each device will remember what page you are on, and you can pick up where you left off on either device. It's SICK. The whole thing is so totally sick I can hardly stand it. I can't wait! Several people at work have a Kindle and they all love it and they all say they read more than ever now that they have a Kindle. I still love the fact that you don't need to connect it to your computer to download new books. It's totally wireless. It's totally bananas, is what it is.
I am so very excited. Now if Amazon can get more books to $7 (most are $9.99), and if they can allow you to add Kindle books to your Amazon wishlist (the best workaround that I have figured out is to just click the "Try It Free" sample button (which sends the first few pages to either your Kindle or your iPhone, if you have downloaded the application) and then you can keep those as a working list of what you might want to buy.
So far I have added On The Road (the scroll edition), The Corrections (I never did read that...), The Tropic of Cancer, Never Let Me Go (REALLY excited to read that one), Housekeeping, and The Day of the Locust.
Blogging is great (both writing one, and reading other blogs.... and trust me, I read a LOT of them...), but my addiction to Google Reader may be rotting my brain. Hopefully a few weeks in the sun with Henry Miller and Kazuo Ishiguro will do my brain some good.
Do you have a Kindle? Are you glad you got it? Regrets? Tips? Complaints?
Sunday, July 5, 2009
These photos are from a cloudy April stay two years ago... this time of year the place is sunny and bright. I swear.
We love THIS PLACE. It's a big property with two cabins (you can rent just one if it's all you need). I got an email today from the owners... they actually have availability in July, which is unusual for them.
The summer season has started early here on Orcas Island. We haven't had a cloud in the sky for nearly five weeks now. While it's good for vacationers, the lack of rain seems to have kept the salmon in the outer waters with the Orcas whales until about two weeks ago. The farmers are irrigating their fields more than usual adding to the crush of spring planting and grass mowing.
My farm stand across the street has been open since early June offering organic salad greens,snow peas, herbs and flowers. I am farming another piece of land organically as well growing all the large vegetables and squash.
We've had a decent year at The Homestead so far but have a huge hole in our calendar starting July 12th. I would appreciate it if you enjoyed your stay at our property and could recommend it to your friends. The Seaside and Blackberry cabins are available July 12-23,26-31. Luckily, this is an unusual situation and has not happened before in our 15 years of doing business here. Our online calendar is up to date.
We would be very happy to have any of you back of course! Some of you stay with us year after year which is genuinely appreciated. Your comments and suggestions are also welcome.
I hope everyone is doing well, thank you for your patronage and hope we'll see you again soon!
If you live in Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia, it's totally worth your while to stay there. If you are coming from a distance, you can fly into Seattle and take a seaplane there and save the extra driving/ferry time to the islands. Although, I must say, the ferry ride is so amazing. If you haven't taken the ferry through the San Juan Islands, don't miss it. Seriously.
Orcas Island doesn't have any stoplights. None. Windy roads, amazing views, farms and alpacas and boats and starfish and amazing sunny days.
Even the smaller cabin sleeps 6 (you'll be packed in, but it's fun), so you can split the bill with friends.
You will have your own private dock with a kayak and a small fishing boat tied up for your use. This dock and the owner's big sailboat was recently featured in Coastal Living magazine.
You can learn more and book it HERE.
Their website doesn't do this place any justice, BTW. Trust me. It's fantastic. If you haven't booked a proper vacation for yourself yet this summer, consider this. It's heaven.
Labels: vacation homes and cabins
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The Times style section was rich today:
Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, a prominent interior designer, and his partner, Steven Wine, a lighting designer, undress each time they enter their apartment on West 23rd Street, where almost everything is white. Then they put on “inside clothes” — usually shorts and T-shirts.
“You have no idea how much dirt you carry on your street clothes in New York,” said Mr. Noriega-Ortiz. When laying out the duplex apartment, he put the washer-dryer right by the front door.
He added, in an e-mail message: “Since we are not about to impose the remove-your-clothes-and-change rule on our guests, we tend to not entertain strangers that often. Our interior world stays much cleaner that way.”
Read about it HERE.
Timely article since we were just talking about summer homes a few posts ago...
"Every weekend, starting in October, the couple drove two hours from their home in Brooklyn to the house, undertaking all of the necessary reconstruction themselves, except the re-roofing, which was done by a contractor. Both urbanites, neither had ever tackled a renovation before, but the project was thrilling to them.
Labels: vacation homes and cabins