Shocked by husband’s infidelity and romance with another woman, and by the loss of a lot of money to her former husband in the divorce settlement, she takes a vacation in Italy, and on the spur of the moment buys a house in Tuscany.
She creates a new and wonderful life for herself.

“Under the Tuscan Sun” worked out well for her. The movie.

Is that what’s in store for the rest of us in our upcoming real-life adventures?
Probably not.
But a good time?
Likely, if we go with the proper mindset.

We always travel life’s paths with expectations.
With a script that we hope the actors and actresses we meet along the way will use.
With the ending we wrote.

Ever hear of ad lib?
We must be prepared to bounce if the script pages have been switched and the lines we’re reading are not expected.

Today’s post concerns the evolution of the blog, beginning with the idea for it birthing in the last few days of my solo car trip from Boston to New Orleans and back.
And the changes the upcoming car trip to Jackson Hole, WY will make to it.


Today is Friday, August 17
This is my 129th consecutive daily posting.
Time is 5.45and we have a hot day with clouds building to rain and possible thunderstorms.
Today’s dinner is steak and fried rice.

Edward Everett Hale standing proud at the main Charles Street  entrance to Boston's Public Garden

Edward Everett Hale standing proud at the main Charles Street  entrance to Boston's Public Garden

Photo of the Day
Edward Everett Hale









Book Summary: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is told in retrospective first-person narration by Theodore "Theo" Decker, who recounts the story of his life thus far.

As a thirteen-year-old boy in New York City, Theo adores his energetic, beautiful mother—as do many other people in Manhattan.

He thinks of his father, who had walked out on them a year earlier, as an alcoholic, abusive thief.

Theo's life is turned upside down when he and his mother visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces, including a favorite painting, Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch.

There, he falls in love at first sight with a red-headed girl who is accompanied by an elderly man.

But then a terrorist bomb explodes, killing his mother and other patrons.
In the rubble, Theo encounters the old man, Welton "Welty" Blackwell, who gives him a ring and an enigmatic message before dying.
Believing that Welty is pointing at The Goldfinch, Theo takes it during his panicked escape.

The taking of these items (one a family heirloom handed over freely, the other a priceless and famous artwork) is done by Theo in a state of terror, concussion and shock, and he has no understanding of how these seemingly minor actions will influence the rest of his life.

Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo lives with a school friend, Andy Barbour, and his wealthy family (Mr. Barbour, a pleasant man as long as he takes his prescribed medication; Mrs. Barbour, a seemingly chilly but kind socialite who likes Theo; Platt, the oldest son, a boarding school bully; Andy, 14, a genius nerd; Kitsey, 9, "a candyfloss Disney Princess"; and Toddy, the youngest).

Theo lives in the Barbours’ elegant Park Avenue apartment for several months and is fairly happy there (despite his continuing nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder).

Unbeknownst to the Barbours, Theo carries out the last wishes of Welty and returns the ring to his family, becoming friends with James "Hobie" Hobart, Welty's partner.
He also briefly encounters the red-haired girl, Pippa, who was injured in the bombing and is being sent to live with an aunt in Texas.
Theo feels an intense bond with her but fears he will never see her again.

Theo's life with the Barbours is disrupted when his deadbeat dad, Larry Decker, arrives with his new girlfriend, Xandra, and whisks him away to Las Vegas.
Theo secretly brings the painting, afraid to tell anyone about it for fear he will get in trouble.

In Las Vegas, Theo feels rootless and his father and Xandra make little effort at parenting.

His father earns a living and pays for a large home outside Vegas with gambling wins.
At school, Theo makes a new friend, Boris, a cosmopolitan son of a Ukrainian émigré.
The two boys both have absentee parents and spend most of their afternoons drinking alcohol, feeding themselves from shoplifted store groceries, using marijuana and other illegal drugs, talking from night to dawn, and giving friendship to Popper, Xandra's neglected Maltese puppy.

Over time, Theo's father starts to become more friendly and even asks for Theo's social security number in order to open a savings account to help him in the future.
But it later becomes apparent that his father has ulterior motives—he is in debt to a crime syndicate and one day begs Theo to phone his mother's lawyer in New York to get access to money she had put aside for Theo's education.
The lawyer, Mr. Bracegirdle, smells a rat and refuses to release any funds, indirectly revealing that his father had already tried using Theo's social security number and forging his signature to steal the money.
Humiliated and desperate, Theo's father gets drunk and dies in a car crash.

Theo knows he must leave town at once, or be sent to a Nevada care home.
He and Boris steal some money and drugs from Xandra.
Boris begs him to stay one more day, but Theo wants to return to New York, and his friends, that minute.
When his pleas go unheard, Boris kisses Theo and lets him go.
He packs his things, including the package containing The Goldfinch, and leaves.

After a bus ride across the country, filled with tension because Theo has decided to bring Popper, Theo returns to New York.
He sees Mr. Barbour on the street, but Barbour (no longer on his medications), acts wildly and shuns him, so he can think only to go to Hobie's door.
Pippa is there, as well as Hobie, and they welcome him and give him a place to stay.
Pippa is only visiting, as she is at a school in Switzerland for disturbed girls, and so Theo is forced to say goodbye to her once more.

Theo's narrative now skips ahead eight years.
Theo has become a full partner in Hobart's antiques and furniture-repair business.
He has concealed The Goldfinch in a storage unit because the news is full of stories about the prosecution of thieves who stole from the museum after the bombing, and he is afraid of being accused of theft.

He is still in love with Pippa, but she treats him only as a close friend and is living in London with a boyfriend.
He has instead formed a relationship with Kitsey Barbour, and they are planning to marry.

Theo has gotten himself into trouble, however.

He is addicted to prescribed medications, which he buys on the street. He has saved Hobie from bankruptcy, but has done so by selling fake antiques (which Hobie had made but never intended to sell as antiques).

Now, one of those buyers, Lucius Reeve, is attempting blackmail.
Reeve has figured out that Theo was in the same museum room with The Goldfinch during the bomb explosion and believes Theo and Hobie know its whereabouts.
He threatens Theo with the consequences of revealing this information; Theo is afraid not only for himself but also for letting down the innocent and trusting Hobie.

Theo is racked by guilt and fear over the fakes and The Goldfinch.

Then, a series of dramatic events take place in short succession.
Theo learns, on the day before their engagement party, that Kitsey has never stopped loving Tom Cable, a criminal teenager with whom Theo attended high school, and they have an inconclusive argument about it.

Boris then reappears in Theo's life, now a wealthy man on the proceeds of various dubious and unspecified activities.
To Theo's astonishment, Boris reveals that he had stolen The Goldfinch from Theo while they were in high school and swapped it for a textbook of similar weight; the painting has since been used as an object of barter by various criminals and dealers.
Boris feels guilty and has devoted himself to recovering the painting and returning it to Theo.

The stunned Theo returns home to find Pippa unexpectedly staying there due to a cancelled flight.
They go out to see a movie and have dinner, and Theo enjoys his rare time alone with her, even though it is clear by the end of the evening that Pippa feels sympathy for him rather than romantic love.

At Theo and Kitsey's engagement party, Boris suddenly appears with a plan to return The Goldfinch to Theo.
The plan involves flying to Amsterdam and meeting with men who are holding the painting.
Theo, in a state of panic due to the presence of an associate of Lucius Reeve at the party and his anger over Kitsey's deceptions, agrees to walk out without telling anyone where he is going, leaving Pippa a note saying he loves her and a ludicrously expensive necklace as a Christmas present. In Amsterdam, Boris and his henchmen show up with guns and, at the meeting with the dealers, attack them and steal the painting, dragging the shocked Theo with them.

Boris is very pleased with himself, but they are then hunted down by agents of the dealers and in a shootout, Boris is shot in the arm and Theo fatally shoots Boris’s shooter, while a boyfriend of one of the dealers escapes with the painting.

After fleeing the scene, an injured Boris insists on separating, telling the devastated Theo to stay in his Amsterdam hotel. Theo holes up in his hotel room drinking and taking other drugs, afraid police will discover him. His phone dead, worried he is about to be arrested, and unable to travel having left his passport with the vanished Boris, he feels trapped and contemplates suicide. But after several hellish days, Boris returns, and reveals that he has saved the situation by phoning the art recovery police to inform on the dealers. Not only has the painting been saved for the museum, but Boris has even received a huge reward, which he shares with Theo. Theo returns to New York to face the angry and devastated Hobie, who has learned the full details of Theo selling the fake antiques. Theo explains everything to Hobie, including The Goldfinch, which, Hobie reveals, was Welty's favourite painting, too.

The novel ends with Theo travelling the world to put things right by buying back the fake antiques that he had sold. His engagement to Kitsey is inconclusive, though he remains friendly with the Barbours, and Pippa has told him that she does love him but that their flaws and weaknesses resulting from their traumatic accident made them too similar for them to be safe together. In a lengthy reflection on what he has learned from his experiences, Theo wonders how much of his experiences were unavoidable due to fate or his character. Finally, he contemplates The Goldfinch and of "the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire".

What is the process for making a bronze (sculpture?)

Find the answer just before today’s Post below.

Thumbnail Biography:
Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 – June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and Unitarian minister.

Hale first came to notice as a writer in 1859, when he contributed the short story "My Double and How He Undid Me" to the Atlantic Monthly.
He soon published other stories in the same periodical.
His best known work was "The Man Without a Country", published in the Atlantic in 1863 and intended to strengthen support for the Union cause in the North.
As in some of his other non-romantic tales, he employed a minute realism which led his readers to suppose the narrative a record of fact.

These two stories and such others as "The Rag-Man and the Rag-Woman" and "The Skeleton in the Closet", gave him a prominent position among short-story writers of 19th century America.

His short story "The Brick Moon", serialized in the Atlantic Monthly, is the first known fictional description of an artificial satellite.
It was possibly an influence on the novel The Begum's Fortune by Jules Verne.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1865.

In recognition of his support for the Union during the American Civil War, Hale was elected as a Third Class Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Hale assisted in founding the Christian Examiner, Old and New in 1869 and became its editor.
The story "Ten Times One is Ten" (1870), with its hero Harry Wadsworth, contained the motto, first enunciated in 1869 in his Lowell Institute lectures: "Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand."
This motto was the basis for the formation of Lend-a-Hand Clubs, Look-up Legions and Harry Wadsworth Clubs for young people.
Out of the romantic Waldensian story "In His Name" (1873) there similarly grew several other organizations for religious work, such as King's Daughters, and King's Sons.
In 1875, the Christian Examiner merged with Scribner's Magazine.

In 1881, Hale published the story "Hands Off" in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. In the tale, a narrator goes through time to alter events in the past, thereby creating an alternate timeline.
Paul J. Nahin writes that this story makes Hale a pioneer in emerging science fiction, time travel, and stories about changing the past.

In the early 1880s Harriet E. "Hattie" Freeman became one of Hale's volunteer secretaries.
Her family had been connected with Hale's church since 1861.
As Hattie and Hale worked together they grew closer and closer.
According to historian Sara Day, their relationship became loving and intimate.
Day came to this conclusion after studying 3,000 Hale-Freeman love letters (1884-1909) held by the Library of Congress.
The letters, donated to the library in 1969, had held their secrets until 2006 when Day realized that the intimate passages were written in Towndrow's shorthand.

Hidden fact:  Application to Boston Improv rejected

Hidden fact:  Application to Boston Improv rejected

In 1886, Hale founded Lend a Hand, which merged with the Charities Review in 1897, and the Lend a Hand Record.
Throughout his life he contributed many articles on a variety of subjects to the periodicals of his day including the North American Review, the Atlantic Monthly, the Christian Register, the Outlook, and many more.
He was the author or editor of more than sixty books—fiction, travel, sermons, biography and history.

Hale retired as minister from the South Congregational Church in 1899 and chose as his successor Edward Cummings, father of E. E. Cummings.
By the turn of the century, Hale was recognized as among the nation's most important men of letters. Bostonians asked him to help ring in the new century on December 31, 1900, by presenting a psalm on the balcony of the Massachusetts State House.

In 1903 he became Chaplain of the United States Senate, and joined the Literary Society of Washington.
The next year, he was elected as a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hale lived from 1869 to his death at the Edward Everett Hale House in Roxbury.
He maintained a summer home in South Kingstown, Rhode Island where he and his family often spent summer months.

Hale died in Roxbury, by then part of Boston, in 1909. He was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
A life-size likeness in bronze statue memorializing the man and his works stands in the Boston Public Garden.

Thank you, Wikipedia

Movie Details
Under the Tuscan Sun is a 2003 American romantic comedy drama film written, produced, and directed by Audrey Wells and starring Diane Lane.

Based on Frances Mayes' 1996 memoir of the same name, the film is about a recently divorced writer who buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will lead to a change in her life.

The film was nominated for the Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Award, and Diane Lane received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.

Web Meister adds:

Thank you, Wikipedia

Word of the Day

is used to describe individual moments during live theatre when an actor speaks through their character using words not found in the play's text.

When the entire performance is predicated on spontaneous creation, the process is called improvisational theatre.

In film, the term ad-lib usually refers to the interpolation of unscripted material in an otherwise scripted performance.
For example, in interviews, Dustin Hoffman says he ad-libbed the now famous line, "I'm walking here! I'm walking here!" as "Ratso" Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy.

Answer for Encyclopediacs
Making a bronze: Lost wax method

In lost-wax or investment casting, the artist starts with a full-sized model of the sculpture, most often a non-drying oil-based clay such as Plasticine model for smaller sculptures or for sculptures to be developed over an extended period (water-based clays must be protected from drying), and water-based clay for larger sculptures or for sculptures for which it is desired to capture a gestural quality - one that transmits the motion of the sculptor in addition to that of the subject.

A mold is made from the clay pattern, either as a piece mold from plaster, or using flexible gel or similar rubber-like materials stabilized by a plaster jacket of several pieces.
Often a plaster master will be made from this mold for further refinement.
Such a plaster is a means of preserving the artwork until a patron may be found to finance a bronze casting, either from the original molds or from a new mold made from the refined plaster positive.

Once a production mold is obtained, a wax (hollow for larger sculptures) is then cast from the mold.
For a hollow sculpture, a core is then cast into the void, and is retained in its proper location (after wax melting) by pins of the same metal used for casting.
One or more wax sprues are added to conduct the molten metal into the sculptures - typically directing the liquid metal from a pouring cup to the bottom of the sculpture, which is then filled from the bottom up in order to avoid splashing and turbulence.
Additional sprues may be directed upward at intermediate positions, and various vents may also be added where gases could be trapped. (Vents are not needed for ceramic shell casting, allowing the sprue to be simple and direct).
The complete wax structure (and core, if previously added) is then invested in another kind of mold or shell, which is heated in a kiln until the wax runs out and all free moisture is removed. The investment is then soon filled with molten bronze.
The removal of all wax and moisture prevents the liquid metal from being explosively ejected from the mold by steam and vapor.

The famous bronze door of Florence

The famous bronze door of Florence

Students of bronze casting will usually work in direct wax, where the model is made in wax, possibly formed over a core, or with a core cast in place, if the piece is to be hollow.
If no mold is made and the casting process fails, the artwork will also be lost.

After the metal has cooled, the external ceramic or clay is chipped away, revealing an image of the wax form, including core pins, sprues, vents, and risers.
All of these are removed with a saw and tool marks are polished away, and interior core material is removed to reduce the likelihood of interior corrosion.
Incomplete voids created by gas pockets or investment inclusions are then corrected by welding and carving.
Small defects where sprues and vents were attached are filed or ground down and polished.

Today's Post
The Blog: Preparation Trepidation

Or How I learned to stop worrying and prepare the day before.

Meant as a compliment: I love having my coffee and reading your blog.
A nice compliment.
But what an unintended burden.

I am an early riser.
5.00am without an alarm clock.
Saturdays and Sundays.
Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

So putting the finishing touches on the piece and mailing it out before 6.30 normally not a problem.

But the thing is, that’s when I don’t have the obligation.
Not that anyone’s forcing me to.
Not that I have a paying job I’m protecting.
Just that knowing people are waiting, and nice people, supportive people, waiting, I cannot disappoint.

And there’s no, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”
I’m delighted that that’s the way you did mean it.
So, I have to adjust.

As a matter of course, I wake in the middle of the night.
And because the blog is so close to being done, I do it.

Some bloggers have remarked on the ungodly hours I’ve been posting.
But those are not necessarily the times I stay up.
I often go back to sleep.
Just as often, I get some rest and then make my coffee and I’m off.

thinking female.png

But while we’re talking blog, my ideas have certainly evolved.
I thought I knew what I wanted from the blog.
Ideas formed around my auto trip to New Orleans, November 2017.

A blog seemed like an efficient way to share my itinerary; my photos; my thoughts.
Which is how it began.
No longer,
The blog has turned into a daily magazine, providing a menu of brief and not so brief thoughts and ideas; for the thinking people who want a bit of entertainment that someone else provides.
And I’m happy to be that someone.

I love being a student: spending time every day learning about people and events.

Now facing another wrinkle.
In just three weeks I head out for my 30-day trip to Jackson Hole, WY and back.
What happened to my blog then?

The trip will absorb most, if not all, of my time and attention.
I don’t know that I can continue with the format I’m establishing.

I know I will put out a daily blog but what will the content be?
Hang loose, please.