May 21, 2018

Rome. May, 1988

Isn’t it amazing the details that surface in our dreams? Last night, I dreamt that I’d run into an old boss on the streets of Lisbon, his first visit to one of my favorite cities. I asked him if he’d like a restaurant recommendation...and he walked silently away. I woke up with an attitude. My beloved friend Carolyn, who studies such things, is my go-to person for dream interpretation, but I think I can handle this one myself. (I once told her of a dream in which I was preparing a dish to be served at a party in a neighbor’s house, the host walked in and threw it into a toilet that happened to be in the center of the kitchen. Carolyn’s take: “It’s clearly work-related.”) This photo was taken when Nick (reflected, left) and I were on a research trip for his Great Italian Desserts book. Many months later, Nick asked me what I remembered about a pastry we’d encountered called Bianco e Bianco. He said that he recalled our friend Dali had mentioned it was made with white chocolate and whipped cream, etc. It was only days later, after neither of us could remember anything more, that he realized he’d dreamt the whole thing.

May 20, 2018

Watertown, MA. July, 2011

Saying goodbye to an address book is like bidding farewell to an old and much-beloved friend. I’ve had this one since October, 1980, when I climbed into the window display of Vertecchi, a stationery and art supplies store in Rome, because the red-ribboned version of this rubrica was no longer in stock...except in the display. Hey, when in Rome, etc. Since then, I’ve inscribed the names and addresses of many friends (some of whom are sadly no longer with us) as well as many professional contacts from years working in television and industry. The elastic now sags instead of keeping the covers firmly closed. There are more crossed out and altered addresses than there are pristine listings. And there’s the occasional pretentious if amusing oddity, too, like the address and phone number of Jacqueline Onassis (supplied by a gossipy pal who answered a phone while attending a party at NYC’s Morgan Library and got a call-back number from Jackie O.) I actually called once, asked if John Jr. was home, and was told he was out but would return shortly. Ah, so many years ago. How could I possibly get rid of this book chock full of memories?

May 19, 2018

Aegean Sea, Turkey. October, 2011

Some of the lovely amenities aboard our Windstar cruise from Istanbul to Rome, these toiletries from L’Occitane en Provence. But why would I want to take a photo of them? To send to our friend Judy whom we met on Windstar the previous year. When she and I met and started in discussing important things, I brought up how I loved finding these bath items. She quickly said, “Right in my bag!” A girl after my own heart. And, I’m delighted to say, so aligned with something Vincent Price once told me. He revealed that when he checked into a hotel, he immediately put any “luxury” bath products into his suitcase, then called the front desk to ask, “Don’t I get any shampoo or anything with this room?” Kindred spirits, enviably bathed and scented.

May 18, 2018

Mykonos, Greece. October, 2011

It’s said that in order to confound any pirates or invaders, the people of ancient Mykonos deliberately built their narrow streets and alleyways in unpredictable and illogical patterns. This plan has the same effect on tourists today. On a solo afternoon stroll, I turned one of many confusing corners and, look, it’s Joyce from our cruise. We’d met this peppy and immediately likable Long Island lady in the ship’s lounge one night; she was softly singing “New York, New York” while a small combo played across the room. Joyce completely enjoyed herself on this trip and her great pleasure was infectious. And she loved what we loved about Mykonos, too. Winding whitewashed walls, blue shutters everywhere, delightful paths that lead you nowhere near your intended destination, the luxury of getting lost.

May 17, 2018

Galway, Ireland. May, 1992

Oh, those wicked, wacky Irish. Making jokes even a non-Gaelic speaker can understand. Though it must have been hard to resist the sexual suggestion offered by the woman’s handbag there in silhouette. And while today a message of this sort might be a strike in the direction of equal rights, 20 years ago, especially in Ireland, it was probably just someone with a marker, maybe a little bored, maybe a little tipsy. I was with my father walking through this coastal town when we saw this restroom sign. We didn’t stop.

May 16, 2018

Habana Vieja, Cuba. February, 2012

There was music everywhere in Cuba. In restaurants and snack bars. On street corners. Everywhere. Most of it welcome and engaging. This time though, un poco uncomfortable. Here my friend Patti (known throughout Cuba as Señorita Qué Lástima) is serenaded by a street singer who happened by as we were waiting for our bus. What began as his gentle rendition of Patti’s favorite “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás” soon headed south as he thrust his hips rhythmically in her direction, calling her “Mommy” in between verses. I recognize Patti’s “OK, that’s enough now” facial expression at play here. Fortunately our bus arrived moments later. It was all good fun, Cuban-style. Especially for those of us who just watched and photographed from the sidelines. 

May 15, 2018

Taormina, Sicily. October, 1984

Look at the attitude on these Sicilian kids. A school trip to Taormina. An afternoon stop for gelato. Then a little relaxation. When I came along with my camera, this one teen struck a pose in a hot second. Sweater tied so insouciantly around his waist, ice cream in one hand, cigarette in the other. While all of his other friends just lounged around. And I do mean lounged. I was here on a day trip from Catania. I’d checked out the Greek theater, the San Domenico Palace hotel, the other sites in town (I’d tried unsuccessfully to find Fontana Vecchia, Truman Capote’s former home from which he was virtually driven because neighbors thought he possessed the “evil eye”) and was on my way back to the bus station (with a bunch of American GIs, also on a day trip) when I came across this lazy and lovely tableau vivant.