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Monday, July 30, 2007

Day trip to Washington, D.C.

We finally made it to Washington, D.C. We stopped on the way to visit my cousins, Rose and Walter in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was the first time we'd seen them since our return to the states and we had so much to talk about! Rose is actually my mother's first cousin and she faithfully corresponded with me during our two-years in Italy. After sharing coffee and conversation with them, we headed on to find the park and ride, where we left our car and boarded a train to take us into the center of the capitol.

Our goal was to visit the National Gallery of Art http://www.nga.gov/ and anything else we could fit in a day! We ended up with time to also check out the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History http://www.mnh.si.edu/ have a walk on the mall and dinner in a local restaurant away from the heavy tourist areas. We were back on the train by 7pm and home by 10. A long day, but fun and one we will do again. There are so many things we want to see there. One of the great things about our national museums, aside from the really wonderful collections, is that they are totally free, which is totally amazing!

The Capitol dome, over the tree tops

It was a lovely surprise to find a Perugino at the National Gallery (whose real name was Pietro Vannucci) the renaissance master from Perugia (where we lived for eight months in Italy in 2005)

The Iceman from Bolzano was an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. We had seen the real thing at the South Tyrol Museum in Bolzano (see www.iceman.it) and met a man named Flavio Fossato in Verona - a friend of our friend Giorgio - who made all the replicas of the ancient weapons and tools on display there. Here's a link to our blog page and photos of Flavio and his tools: http://livecheapmakeart.blogspot.com/search?q=Iceman+of+Bolzano

The Old Post Office Building in D.C. was built in 1899 and is home to the Bells of Congress, replicas of the bells in London's Westminster Abbey, a gift from England in 1976. Apparently no one liked it after it was built and the only thing that saved it from the wrecking ball was the depression! In the 1970s Congress finally appropriated the money but local citizens worked hard to convince them to reverse their decision. It was unfortunately too late in the day for us to go up to the observation deck for what is supposed to be one of the most spectacular views of Washington D.C. Maybe next time.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum complex and research organization, according to its website (http://www.si.edu/). The Smithsonion's first building, known as the Castle was built in 1855 of red sandstone from Seneca Creek, Maryland in the Norman style.

A day trip to Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland is within a two-hour drive from Milford. We recently spent the day there, visiting the Gee's Bend Quilt exhibit at the Walters Art Museum and had time to also go to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The quilt exhibit features about 40 quilts made by 39 African American women living in the remote community of Gee's Bend, Alabama. My friend Ann from Phoenix had told me about these women and the extraordinary work they have done and continue to do in this very isolated place. Here's the website of The Walters if you want to learn more: http://www.thewalters.org and about the quilters: http://www.quiltsofgeesbend.com/

The Baltimore Museum of Art www.artbma.org/ is host to the internationally renowned Cone Collection of Modern Art which includes a group of 500 works by Matisse, in addition to works by Picasso, Cezanne, Gauguin and van Gogh.

Lucky school kids get up close and personal with Matisse

Stairs at the Baltimore Museum of Art

An historic church in Baltimore (if you know the name of this church, please tell me! I did not make a note but it was very beautiful)

A view of a back alley

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Almost the top of Mt. Evans & Echo Lake

During my visit to Denver earlier this summer (lest you think the following photos were taken in Delaware, which alas, has no mountains!), my niece Maddie and I took a death-defying drive up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in America. It's a 14-mile journey from the entrance station to the summit. We made it up to Summit Lake, a glacial lake and it was still partially frozen in mid-June! The views were spectacular and we were both really glad there weren't many cars on the road because it was pretty narrow and curvy with no major guard rails to keep us from falling off the edge! My heart was in my mouth the higher we climbed but it was absolutely worth every minute of it. Check out this website if you are interested: www.mountevans.com

View of the Top of Mount Evans from Summit Lake

The frozen glacial lake

We stopped the car and photographed these Rocky Mountains goats and it didn't phase them!

Echo Lake on the road up to the top

I couldn't resist this fish mailbox along the road to the top of Mount Evans

Touring Denver with Madison

I spent a few weeks in Arvada, Colorado, near Denver at my sister's house earlier in the summer. Madison and I had a good time touring around while my sister was at work and her sister was in summer school. We had a great time. She's a great traveler and a terrific little navigator.

Here's Maddie on the steps of the Stte Capitol building in Denver. The step she is sitting on says "One Mile Above Sea Level" - that's how high Denver is. This step marks that level.

Their little town of Arvada held a festival while I was there and a group of civil war re-enacters had booths set up in the park.

We spent a few hours touring the Rocky Mountain Amphiteatre and Park. They have concerts here in this breathtaking setting where spectacular red rock formations dominate the landscape. All the most famous musicians including the Beatles have performed here!

Another Rocky Mountain Park view

The Gardens at Winterthur

Winterthur is one of the former estates of the DuPont family in northern Delaware, about 6 miles north of Wilmington and 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia - about an hour's drive for us. It's a gorgeous 1000-acre naturalistic garden. It was designed to enhance the natural setting of rolling hills, streams, meadows and forests of this Brandywine Valley location. Something is always in bloom from January to November. We visited in early May with Jessica when the azaleas were blooming.

Blooming hillside

The Azalea Woods

Fern Hill

Jessica near the Estate

Bob and I in front of the red azaleas

Do we miss Italy?

Yes. Are we glad we're back here? Yes. It has been a bit of a culture shock being back in the states and we must admit to a real sense of let down after our very exciting experience in Italy. We must also admit we were pretty wiped out though and really needed to rest and take it easy for a while.

That being said, we also have had fun exploring Delaware and going to some of the towns in this state and in the neighboring ones as well. We've been to New Castle, Wilmington, Lewes and Rehoboth, to Dover and Milton, Georgetown and Harrington. We've crossed the border into Maryland and spent some time in Baltimore. We've had visitors: our daughter Jessica and my brother Fred and sister-in-law Elaine. I went to Denver to see my sister and her girls and in addition to our trips to Richmond, we went to Milwaukee to see our son-in-law Nick and collect some of our things, stopping in Chicago along the way, and to Sullivan, Illinois where Jessica is stage managing the summer stock theatre program at The Little Theatre. (www.thelittletheatre.org)

I haven't done any painting since we've been back but we did join the Rehoboth Art League (www.rehobothartleague.org) and the Milton Arts Guild (www.miltonartsguild.com) in an effort to connect with the community and meet other artists. Bob has already dug in and started working on his photos, cataloging and organizing his almost 30,000 images into an easily accessible collection. I'm starting to get really anxious about not painting and promise myself to get back to work very soon, knowing that I can't rush myself but knowing too that once I get started, I usually keep going and often need a gentle push.

We've been asked if we plan to sell our work. We do. We just have to work out the best way to present it and we'll keep you posted on our progress. If you have an interest in purchasing my watercolors and/or Bob's photos we would love to hear from you, as well as any comments or suggestions you might have in this regard.

A lot of people have asked about whether we plan to publish a book based on the blog and we are trying to figure out how to go about this and will let you know how that works out. If you have any connections in the publishing business or any helpful hints/suggestions, we'd love to hear from you! We're sure it's not an easy thing to do, but we're going to put one foot in front of the other and see where it gets us.

We plan to post some images of the places we've been and hope there will be an interest in seeing what we are up to, now that we are home in the states. We know it's not quite as romantic as Italy, but we'd like to keep writing and posting (I probably won't write as much as I did there!) At least that's the plan for now.

What's life like for us in the little town of Milford, Delaware? Check back again and we'll be happy to show you!

Until then, we are
Living Cheap and Making Art
in Delaware,
Rosemary and Bob

More images of Delaware

Bowers Beach is one of the beaches on the Delaware Bay. We had seen the sign along the road north to Dover and finally stopped there one evening as the sun was going down. There is a north Bowers and a south Bowers and you can't get from one to the other (except by boat) as they are separated by a narrow channel, without driving quite a ways back to the main road and switching back to the coast. There is a restaurant on the other side and we are going to try it tonight!

A few shots of the sunset at Bowers Beach

My brother Fred and his wife Elaine came for a visit a few weeks ago and we picked them up at the train station in Wilmington (about an hour away) and enjoyed the River Walk there.

Wilmington's train station

4th of July in Lewes, Delaware

On the 4th of July we went to Lewes (sounds like Lewis) for a boat parade. Lewes is on Delaware Bay and it has a pretty harbor and cute downtown. It bills itself as the First Town in the First State. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States and Lewes was the site of the first European settlement in Delaware, founded by Dutch settlers in 1631. The locals were decked out in red, white and blue for the occasion.

American flags were abundant!

Even the Statue of Liberty made an appearance.

The calm waters of Delaware Bay at Lewes

One of the pretty houses that grace the streets of Lewes

Images of Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach is the largest of Delaware's resort beaches. There is a pretty old-fashioned bandstand at the center of the mile-long boardwalk where they hold concerts on summer nights and lots of shops and restaurants. It's one of our favorite places and about a 30 minute drive away.

Dolly's, on the boardwalk, famous for taffy, popcorn and other beachy treats

"Mr. Sandman" - having fun with pebbles, sticks, seashells & Jessica's sandals

The beach dunes at Rehoboth Beach

The bandstand, during a summer concert

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Where we live in Delaware

This is for our friends who wondered where we were going to live once we returned to the states after living in Italy for two years. This it it!

This is at the entrance to our neighborhood, just outside Milford.

A beautiful sky over some of the "villas" (our townhouse is called a villa!)

Our front door. Our townhouse is upstairs. There are 4 townhomes in each unit.

One of the ponds at the entrance to the neighborhood

The crapemyrtle trees at the entrance and throughout the neighborhood have been blooming all summer along with those black-eyed susans.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back in the U.S.A.

On April 5, 2007 we returned to the United States after two years of living in Italy. We arrived at Baltimore International Airport and had pre-arranged for a car to drive us to Milford, Delaware, our new home. Spring was just arriving in this part of the world and trees and flowers were budding everywhere. The explosion of colors was completely unexpected and we marveled at the variety of blooming trees in shades of pinks, whites, reds and purples. Daffodils and tulips graced front yards, even as snowflakes fell on that unseasonably cold spring day.

We spent one night in the local AmericInn and the next day picked up our house keys, borrowed a blow up mattress and a little TV from Shirley, who had managed the rental of our townhouse. First on the agenda were getting a cell phone and finding a new mattress to replace the blow up and within a few days a giant moving van showed up to deliver the rest of our belongings that had been in storage since we moved out of our house in Phoenix, in February 2005.

The next weeks were spent unpacking and settling in. After the bedding we bought new computers and had all the data transferred from the laptop, our lifeline in Italy, now on its last legs. We bought cars - a used Toyota Camry for me and a cute denim blue PT Cruiser for Bob. We shopped for furniture for Bob's office and a computer desk for my studio. After a frustrating couple of weeks and many phone calls and failed attempts later, we got hooked up to the Internet and had phones and cable TV lines installed.

Every week, at least once, we have taken a drive to the beach, just to walk on the boardwalk and put our toes in the sand and in the water. That has to be one of the best things about being here! Rehoboth Beach is a real east coast beach, with an old-fashioned boardwalk and beach grasses, bordered by those slender slat wood fences that meander along the edge of the dunes. There is a bandstand in the center where music concerts are held on summer nights and all the fattening beachy foods can be found, like French fries, hot dogs, ice cream and salt water taffy and fun beachwear shops that sell everything from swim suits and towels to t-shirts and beach shoes. You can get a henna tattoo painted on and buy some really cool kites and beach toys. Restaurants abound and we have found a few we like so far, like Jakes, with its seafood specials and sliders (mini hamburgers that come in threes with a side of fries!).

We perused the outlets stores along Rehoboth Boulevard south of us where there is also a Home Depot and a Lowe's Home Improvement store. We drove to Dover Mall, around 20 minutes north of here and to Christiana Mall, a bit further, several times now getting to know the area and trying to find sources for all the things we need to furnish and finish our home here. We've been on a quest for window coverings and new slipcovers for our sofa and think we have finally found what we want and have decided to re-upholster our two other chairs in the living room for a fresh new look, without totally replacing everything. We are still trying to maintain the "live cheap" lifestyle but it's been hard, since this new place is different from the old house and in spite of all the things we have, there are still many things we need, like new bookshelves that were built into our old house and furniture for these two studio/offices.

In addition, we went back and forth to Richmond several times to see our son and granddaughter Kyla who turned 3 at the end of April. We've had a great time and thank our son for making room for us. Being able to watch Kyla grow up is the real "best thing" about being here.

Thanks for stopping by!
Rosemary and Bob