Thursday, April 30, 2015

Travelogue Thursday: Europe 2015: Florence, Capitolo Primo

We arrived in Florence and checked in to our hotel: the Hotel Brunelleschi. The area was once owned by Filippo Brunelleschi...

 ...the genius responsible for this: Il Duomo. This is Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower), also known as Il Duomo di Firenze. It is the iconic structure of Florence. Construction began in 1296 and it was completed, at the height of the Renaissance, in 1436 with the dome engineered by Brunelleschi (the pink and green travertine facing was added much later).

Brunelleschi was not a trained architect...he was a goldsmith by training. The story of the Duomo is so complex and fascinating that I cannot even begin do it justice here. Please do yourself a favor and Google it to read about its creation and construction; there is also a PBS documentary about it that is well worth seeing (available online).  
 The campanile (bell tower) is by Giotto.
 It is so immense and so beautiful that it literally took my breath away the first time I stood before it. It is so picturesque that I was stopped in my tracks every time I walked by it (at least once a day during our stay).

 The doors.

 The stairs--463 of them--leading to the top, where you step out to a glorious view of Florence.

Pictures and words are inadequate: you need to stand in front of it, go inside, and climb up to the top. For me, it was an unforgettable experience (I'm getting goose bumps just looking at these photos!).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Not the Usual Suspects

Another dove couple cooling their heels--literally--in the fountain (note the peanut detritus left there by my friends the crows). These are actually Eurasian collared doves, not the mourning doves we usually have in our yard. Although these are common birds, I'm not sure I've actually seen them in our yard before.

Here are mourning doves in the yard...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blythe in the House

These Blythe dolls all belong to a amazing! Each is of course different (in ways large and small). And those little dresses! Some are made from vintage handkerchiefs...

There is a large subculture of all things related to Blythe dolls, which can be customized by you or by artists who specialize in them. There are clothes and accessories galore. Here are some interesting articles and websites, in case you'd like to find out more.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Give Me a Sign

I love a good vintage sign...sometimes simple is best.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tallulah-Palooza Friday

Just another day in the red chair, right, Tallulah Mae?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Postcards from...

...Europe! We celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary in Europe over almost 3 weeks, and it was amazing. It's taken me several months to sort of digest it. I can totally understand now why the Grand Tour was such an important rite of passage for upper-class young people during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Travel, it changes you...

So, Florence (that's il Duomo up there, which takes one's breath away); Paris (la Tour Eiffel needs no introduction!); and London (beloved city, the only one we've visited before).

I think I'll dub Thursdays "Travel Thursdays" for the next little while so I can share my (many many MANY) photos with you, oh treasured blog readers, without overwhelming the blog. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Greetings from...

Pretty little early Spring visitors blooming in February in...a place I'll blog about tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Who knew gophers were so into symmetry...I feel like this might be some sort of Earth Art attempt by our rodential "friends." Thankfully, this is NOT our yard!

Monday, April 20, 2015

RIP, Ricky Lizardo

If you're squeamish, be warned: a deceased reptile is below (but it's not gross, just no longer alive).

The naturalist in me is really interested and wanted to examine him, while the animal lover in me is a wee bit sad. He does look like he died peacefully, he just lay down, rolled over, put his little lizard hand on his abdomen, and breathed his last. 

He's beautiful, with those blue spots...and he definitely has been around the block--note that he is missing his tail. For those who don't know, lizards can drop their tails as a defense mechanism. This is called caudal autonomy: when threatened, the lizard can detach its tail; the tail keeps wriggling (ewww) as a way to hopefully distract the predator and give the lizard a chance to get away. Cool, yes? (And admittedly a bit disturbing...).

Rest in peace, little lizard! There are lots of crickets and not cats in lizard heaven.