Friday, November 21, 2008

In case I do not blog for a few days I leave you with a beautiful Texas Sunset on Eagle Mountain Lake. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and enjoy your holidays.

My sister Rhoda and her husband Rob both worked for the school system in Florida for many years. They changed their careers to cross country truck driving a couple of years ago after Rob was layed off. Every once in a while we get to visit with them when they have time while making a stop at the Grapevine terminal. Last week they spent the night. We had dinner at a local Italian Restaurant. This is Rhoda browsing through a book on Italy and relaxing. I think she looks expecially nice in purple!

Rob, Rhoda's husband is holding Baby.

This is "Baby",Rob and Rhoda's dog.

Baby is a truck driving groupie and loves to travel.

We did really well at the craft show especially since it was not open to the public. They placed us in front of the fish aquarium.

With the exception that I got up at 4:30 AM both mornings it was a fun experience.

I had to show you these adorable carts that they use at the pre-school. They only need a couple of carts to push their entire class around. The kids are so cute. They really are people too with their individual personalities. The girl on the left pushing the dual cart is Helen's daughter Janette. She teaches the toddlers.

This is my friend Helen. We share in the same addicting love for fusing Glass. This is a private school craft show that we exhibited in together. Helen's grand-daughters attend this Baptist Pre-School near Plano.

Helen and I also share in a love of Tex-Mex food and try and meet for lunch at one of many of our favorite Tex-Mex Restaurants once a week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not only is Brooke stunningly beautiful but she is just so sweet! She is also very neat and is helpful to her Mom with domestic chores around the house. Her most special gift is her compassion for others.
I'm going to interrupt our trip to Rome again. There are many photos and stories about Rome but current events take precedence.
Happy Birthday Brooke!

Today my oldest Grand-daughter turned 13. Wow! She is a teenager!

She made straight A's on her report card, sings in choir, plays soccer, basketball and takes horse back riding lessons. Horses are her passion.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bob and Lee

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barb and Bob throwing their coins in the Trevi Fountain.

It was a beautiful evening with a bit of romance in the air. Even though there were many people sitting and standing around it seemed like the fountain was just for us. The rhythm of the water flowing, the smell of freshness in the air, the night lights, it was magical!

Lee and Maria standing in front of Trevi Fountain

"Three coins in a Fountain"

C Dm7/G
Three coins in a fountain,
Dm7 G7 CM7
Each one seeking happiness,
C C/B Am7 Am7/G D7
Thrown by three hopeful lovers...
Fdim G7 C6
Which one will the fountain bless?
C Dm7/G
Three hearts by fountain,
Dm7 G7 CM7
Each heart longing for its home;
C C/B Am7 Am7/G D7
There they lie in the fountain,
Fdim G7 C6
Somewhere in the heart of Rome.
FM7 C9
Which one will the fountain bless?
Fm Fdim(III) Dm7 G7
Which one will the fountain bless?
C Dm7/G
Three coins in a fountain...
Dm7 G7 CM7
Through the ripples how they shine.
C C/B Am7 Am7/G D7
Just one wish will be granted;
Fdim G7 C6
One heart will wear a Valentine.
F Dm7 Fdim C(9)
Make it mine, make it mine, make it mine.

Trevi Fountain

The fountain was completed in 1762. The central figures are Neptune, flanked by two Triton. The sea horse symbolised the two contrasting moods of the sea.

Friday, November 14, 2008

St. Peter's Basilica

Painted Dome in St. Peter's Basilica
(a continuing chapter of our trip written by Maria Cheney)

After satisfying ourselves that our luggage was safe and sound, we decided to visit a church, the Basilica of San Clemente, located about two blocks from our hotel. The basilica contained some very fine mosaics that date back to the 13th century. Many parts of the church are under restoration but the mosaics could be seen in all their glory. The church was small, but quite lovely; its courtyard, rather dilapidated, hopefully, at some point, they’ll work on restoring this as well. We concluded our visit and walked back to the hotel where we grabbed a taxi to take us to a mall.

The conversation with this taxi driver was one of our most challenging because we weren’t sure how to say shopping center, or mall. Robert finally found it in his little phrase book: Centro Commerciale. We ended up close to the airport, far away from the city, in what turned out to be our most expensive cab ride. The mall had a very strange appearance, and didn’t look like any mall we ever saw. The place looked deserted, and from the outside, there were some store fronts that didn’t look very promising. We finally turned a corner and then it began to look like we were in the right place. We found a store called, auspiciously, “Scarpe e Scarpe” (Shoes & Shoes). Sure enough, it had a lot of shoes. Other things as well, such as exercise clothes, underwear, accessories . . .

And then the quest began. Barb tried on a lot of shoes, but nothing seemed to work, until finally she found a pair of lace-up sports shoes, rather fun looking, with metallic silver finishes, and best of all, she said they were very comfortable, except that one size was too tight on one foot, and the next size was too large on the other foot. Bob decided that the solution was to buy two pairs, one in each size. He paid for the shoes and Barb decided to wear her new shoes to walk around the mall. She took a dozen steps outside the store when she realized that the new shoes were killing her back. The shoes were too flat, and she realized then that she needed a little lift in the heel to ease pressure on her back. These shoes were not going to work, so we went back into the store to return them.

The store would not credit Robert’s credit card. They would only give him store credit. They said that if he had paid cash, they would be able to reimburse him, but because it was put on a credit card, their hands were tied. We asked for a manager, but none was around, and the sales clerks were determined to help Barb find another pair.

So, the quest was renewed. Barb tried so hard. She tried shoes, she tried slip-ons, she tried boots, shoe after shoe after shoe after shoe. Now several clerks were helping her. More shoes. Another clerk ran and got inserts. More shoes. Nothing was working. One of them suggested that maybe Bob should get a pair of shoes instead; Bob didn’t want to. And Barb kept trying – shoe after shoe after shoe after shoe. I could feel her frustration and her embarrassment. At one point we looked up and noticed that there were five sales clerks helping us. Bob wanted to take their picture but when he suggested it they scattered. More shoes. Finally, Barb found a pair of boots that, together with a double insert, sort of felt O.K., but they were less expensive than the previous purchase so she still needed to buy more things so make up the difference. So she also got a pair of slip-ons that she could wear at home, a pair of sunglasses and an umbrella. When it was all brought to the register, we were still ten cents shy of the full amount. None of us cared. We just wanted to be done, so the sales clerks figured out how to get around the difference and finished ringing us up and bagging the shoes.

I can only imagine how Barb felt, and I was frustrated for Barb, but I’m sorry to say that, not being at the center of the problem, I enjoyed the experience. I got to practice my Italian a lot that afternoon. I loved watching and listening to these ladies talk, laugh and try to communicate with us. The sales clerks were thoroughly delightful. They all tried so hard, and they really wanted Barb to find her shoes. They were funny and engaging and vivacious. Barb and the guys might remember the experience quite differently, but to me, that was a rare moment on the trip, where we suspended being tourists, and instead, became travelers.

Barb wore her new shoes the next day, but I don’t think they were really supporting her ankle, and for most of the trip she ended up wearing a pair of sandals that she brought from home.

This picture shows how long the halls are in the

Vatican City Museum.

One of the tapestries in Vatican City Museum

Inside Vatican City Museum

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bob and I with St. Peter's Basilica in the
background in Vatican City.

Lee and Maria with St. Peter's Basilica in the background.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Arnaldo Pomodoro's Sphere

This is located in the courtyard of the
Pine Cone at Vatican City. It was bronzed for
the Vatican Museums in 1990. It measures
4 meters in diameter.
As written by Maria Cheney:
Technically, there is no charge for obtaining tickets to attend a Papal Audience, but if you want good seats, indeed, if you want any seats, you had better go as part of a tour group. The tickets cost about $40 each and included pick up at our hotel to the Tour Office, ride in a tour bus with a guide that explains the rules in multiple languages, including where the bus will be waiting to pick you up should you decide to return with the group at the conclusion of the tour (a lot of people choose to stick around the Vatican area), escort to a very expensive religious articles store, where you can purchase medals, rosaries, etc., so the Pope can bless them, and then an escort through St. Peter’s Square, to a section reserved for tours where you get decent seats to watch the drama unfold. All told, there were over six thousand people in attendance at the Audience we witnessed. Papal audiences take place only on Wednesdays so that’s why we had to move up our trip by one day.

I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I knew that there would be a very large crowd, so my expectations were low. Perhaps because of that, I was pleasantly surprised and moved.

It began with the sighting of the official Vatican guards, dressed in a uniform designed by Michelangelo. These guys were not actors, albeit the costumes, they were serious guards from an elite Swiss army corps. They were young, serious, and looked like they meant business. They were also tolerant of the tourists snapping their pictures.

The Pope arrived and began circling the circumference of St. Peter’s Square in his Pope-mobile. He stood up and smiled and waved at the crowd and was generally received like a superstar. Secret Service-type guards rode inside the vehicle and ran along side it, in much the same way, ours do next to our president’s car. They even wore the requisite dark glasses. Lee and I wandered if there were sharp-shooters hidden behind any of those statues that line the top of the columns in the square. Everyone was standing up now, trying to take pictures, holding their cameras high over their heads, hoping to snap a picture of him. It was hard to see anything at this point, even the large screens that they’ve added to the square to improve the view of those in the back weren’t helping much with everyone standing.

Eventually, the crowd settled down, and the ceremony continued. High ranking church members, in different languages, introduced the crowd to His Holiness. It went something like this from the English-speaking prelate: “Your Holiness, on behalf of the English speaking people of Great Britain, represented by pilgrims from the Church of So and So from Wales, the Sisters of Charity from Convent XYZ in Scotland, pilgrims from the Church of St. Paul in London, (and so forth, a long litany of everyone attending the audience from Great Britain, followed by the United States and Canada, followed by any other English-speaking countries represented that day) we offer you greetings, etc. . . . “ Every time he mentioned a different group, that group would stand up, cheer and wave to the Pope. Sometimes they waved bandanas, or flags. Occasionally they broke out in song. Yes, that is correct. Some groups had songs prepared to sing to the Pope and they did so when their group was mentioned. The prelate waited until the song was over, and then continued his recitation. When the English speaking version was concluded, then the process was repeated in another language; on and on in Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Polish. I can’t quite remember if I covered all the languages. This, as you can imagine, took quite a while, but I was thoroughly entertained. It was people watching at its best.

Next came the turn for the Pope to speak. He had a very nice, short, general message about what it meant to be Church. It wasn’t the buildings; it was the community of people that gathered that made it Church. He spoke for about ten minutes, but repeated the message in every language mentioned above.

The ceremony then concluded with the entire crowd praying the “Our Father” in Latin (printed in the back of the ticket). The Pope raised his arm and blessed the entire crowd. The Pope’s blessing was extended to family members, especially children, and to any religious articles you may have been holding.

For me, it wasn’t a deep religious experience, but it felt joyous. The crowd was respectful; we were referred to as “pilgrims” not visitors or tourists, there was a sense of inclusiveness in this enormous “Church,” the fact that the Pope chose a message of love and understanding, the fact that the whole ceremony was imbued with rituals, made it all seem very comforting. When it was all done, I didn’t feel like running out of there. I wanted to linger and enjoy the sights a little longer.

We met Barb and Bob, who had arrived that morning, for lunch at a restaurant not far from the Vatican, called Cesare’s. I can’t even remember what we ate there. We explained to them about our luggage and how we needed to return to the hotel after lunch to see if our suitcase had arrived. If not, we were going to have to go shopping for some clothes. Barb expressed an interest in buying a pair of shoes because the boots that she had brought were lined in fleece and were very warm. She was hoping to find more comfortable walking shoes. When we returned to the hotel we were relieved to discover that our suitcase had showed up, but Barb was still interested in getting a pair of shoes, so we all agreed to go to a mall and do some shopping. This turned out to be one of the greatest adventures of our trip. I better save this story for another chapter.
Bob and I left Chicago October 14th, 2008 to join Lee and Maria (Bob's brother and his wife) in Rome. They left a day ahead of us. Maria has written a few chapters of our experiences that I am going to include with the photos.

Rome Vacation

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The morning we left Chicago to return home we talked with Jake. (Jane's son) He was having his usual breakfast on the couch while watching TV. This allows Mommy to get ready for work. We made plans to be together again on Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's house.
We live so far apart but we try and make the best of the time we have.
The next postings will be Italy. My sister-in-law Maria wrote a few beautifully composed chapters about our trip. I plan to include that with the photos.

Austin's cousin Peyton and sister Brooke provided some stylish entertainment.

Austin (Joy's son) is celebrating his 10th birthday. What a handsome guy!
Austin received a guitar for his birthday and plans to start lessons soon. He is also getting ready to enroll in basketball again.
Last week he was notified that he will be on the book team. He read 9 books and there will be a competition of the content of those books between schools in his area.
Go Austin!
Joyce playing the cello.
While at Mary Ann's Andy exhibited his
Spider Man skills and Joyce performed beautifully
on her cello.
When we returned to
Chicago after Italy
we visited Mary Ann(Bob's
and Bill, Andy and Joyce

This is Andy and Joyce
in their costumes.
This is Jack ( John's son)
with Grandpa in the back
Joy and Casey as Marilyn and Ugly Betty

I'm interrupting our vacation to show you some Halloween pictures and Austin's birthday celebration.

To your right is John and Casey as Ugly Betty and Napoleon.