“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.”
– Marcus Aurelius (Stoic)
On the hot and crowded streets of Firenze
Stoic. To be stoic means to be “a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.” I’m not sure why I was looking up the definition but it turned into one of those rabbit holes, so here goes.
Turns out there is a whole ancient philosophical school called “Stoicism.” It was founded in Athens in the 3rd century BC. It sounds kinda cool. It had a logical system – meaning if something is happening in the world or in your life and you can’t do anything about it. Accept it. Don’t act impulsively, act with logic and deduction. That our happiness was dependent on our responses to things not on the external factors themselves. They also believed shopping at Gucci in Florence, and working out, and enjoying a great Brunello with your pear pasta (OMG the dinner at 4 Leoni in Florence!!! To die for.) were fine. Stoics believed in self-control (back to that discipline thing). Well, I didn’t buy much at Gucci.
Others who read or believed or practice what the Stoics taught were Frederick the Great – he rode into battle with some of their works (I assume that means books). George Washington and Thomas Jefferson read works by Stoicism leaders such as Seneca. Briefly, Seneca was a writer, philosopher, rich man, whom ultimately was killed by Nero. His story is just too long, twisted and complicated to go into here. But look it up.
“No person has the power to have everything they want,
but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have,
and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.”
Seneca the Younger (I have no idea who Seneca the Older is this Seneca looks old enough.)
Had an amazing afternoon with friends and family at Villa Vignamaggio near Greve in Chianti, a bit of a twisty drive from us. The villa built in the 1400s by the Gherardini family. The family is believed (legend?) to be Monna Lisa’s and Leonard discovered her and painted her. True? Maybe. Kenneth Branagh filmed “Much Ado About Nothing” here. Is stunning countryside, a great meal, and fab wine.
Did Monna Lisa gaze out on this view?
Bugs, Queen and Weird Italian Kids
Those Italians know how to rock! Been seeing signs for “Killer Queen,” an Italian cover band that was to be performed in a tiny town in Tuscany. So, why not go? The band started about 10 pm in the quaint piazza. It was a perfect cool night, tons of weird little Italian kids running around, kicking bottles at their friends and playing “dead” or maybe “Sleeping Beauty” on the filthy ground, where I saw a fat 5 inch bug (please don’t let it be a cockroach) skittering by. Band was ok, but the entire time they played old Queen video on the screen.
Every summer in our church aka disco (though it is a consecrated church on our property) we pick a theme for the summer. We’ve had Katy Perry Summer and Prince, amongst others. This year (before the concert even) we had decided on it being the Summer of Queen. I’ve got the CD’s blaring from the Bose in the church next to a picture of Pope Paul? John? Or maybe its Ringo? I don’t know. They all look alike.
Religious folk on the shelf of our church
I bought a case load of BIG ASS fireworks – you’ll have to wait for the July Newsletter for more on that. But when I say “BIG ASS” I mean “BIG ASS.” Easy to buy, you go to this sketchy t-shirt store with Che Guevara, Putin and Lenin shirts for sell. They have key chains too. It is a tiny shop that smells like 20 old Italian men have been sucking on cigarettes for the past 50 years and the door was never opened to let in air. There is a woman with black teeth (I. Kid. You. Not) who puffs away non-stop on a cigarette behind the desk. She goes into her cabinet (and sometimes the back room) to pull out boxes of BIG ASS fireworks. Meanwhile she complains about her health and how her arm doesn’t really work well (she said the same for the past four years) I’m sure it has nothing to do with smoking. . . They don’t take credit cards.
These little fan dancers get around!
In the “shameless promotion” portion of this newsletter, I just received word from my lovely publishers that FEUDING FAN DANCERS is going to paperback publication. Womp! Womp!! October and you can already pre-order on Amazon. And why not?
Most of you that know me know this, I’m the world’s worst packer. I did not pack ANY shirts for our London visit. And on a quick overnight in Florence I packed a dress with a broken zipper. A broken zipper all UP and DOWN my side. Impossible to hide, except luckily I had bought a robe that I’m wearing as a dress thing and threw that over. Oy!
Not my best look.
For some bizaar reason we grocery shop a lot here. And we sorta like it. There are two grocery stores in town. One is more “communist” Coop, well we call it “communist.” Its actually a consumers’ cooperative and is the largest chain in Italy. The first cooperative was established 1854. You already know not to go on a Sunday, that’s when the mean old ladies will run you over with their carts. Our store is very limited on what they offer but I can get veggie burgers, so I’m good.
Europe is struck by a record-breaking heat wave. Luckily we had a tripped planned for Paris and we are here now enjoying air conditioning in our rooms. It is sizzling on the streets. Showing the little people the iconic spots, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, crazy French drivers (one got out of his car and lay down on the burning asphalt in his suit inches from our front wheels, because he was mad – long story), the super inspiring Atelier des Lumieres, an immersive, meditative, moving experience of Van Gogh’s art. You are in the dark in this huge warehouse and his paintings surround you (everywhere but the ceiling) projected by hundreds of cameras. The images move, the music soars . . . really inspiring, and a good reminder of an artist who HAD to create, never made money beyond what his brother bought (Family is important too!) but his work lives on.
Photo of the Giant Irises on All the Walls (Doesn’t do it justice)
I’m currently writing about Paris for my next book, I am not getting much research done this trip (an excuse to return) but am immersing myself in the places where my characters walked. I apologize for typos, incorrect grammar etc. but I’m truly ON THE GO . . .
Burlesque and Pinup Emojis
If your BOOK CLUB would like me to visit via Skype I’m available on the road or when I’m at home. It’s been fun coming into your homes, sending specialty FAN cocktail recipes before for you all to try. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want me to join in on some Fun FAN talking. A questionnaire is available on my website to download for your Book club.
And lastly what I’m reading or recently read
for complete list, I have everything on Good Reads
as I can’t remember them all!
I’m starting every morning off with a big espresso on an antique bed tray so it doesn’t spill and a book. Heaven. I’m trying to switch off between “classic” and anything else that doesn’t force me to look up a million-word definitions. “Something in the Water,” I loved. Its not a classic. Its a beach read. Its good. Read “Pride and Prejudice.” I read one or two more, we’ve got the second “Hunger Games” on audio in the car, Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” in the gym and I’m turning real pages of “Doctor Zhivago.” I love Russian history and once spent about 36 hours in Moscow with two bodyguards that both looked like Lurch (they both looked like Lurch) and were about 6’7”. They were awesome and I wish I could take them home. I couldn’t. Also, I didn’t have a chance to drink vodka, so that’s on my need-to-return-to places.
A quick note re “classics,” as I’m listening to “Lord of the Flies” with one of my little people for school. Why is this a classic and can it and “Cather In The Rye” PLEASE be taken off the list of what kids have to read? It does not inspire reading. I could tear my hear out Flies is so boring. My little people love Harry Potter and the Hunger Games! I say whatever inspires them to read, to pick up another book, not some ancient blah blah . . . done.
OKAY HAD TO ADD THIS – The Best book I’ve read so far this summer “The Woman in the Window.” A thriller. You can’t put it down. Go get it before the movie is made.
To be continued . . . gotta hit those hot streets of Paris. Big event at Versailles. Will be writing about it next month.