Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last July, Fritz found a potato in the fridge that had started to sprout. He cut it up and planted the pieces in what passed for a garden this year. It was late to plant potatoes and the soil is poor, but he thought it would be fun to see if anything grew. A couple of days ago we went out to look and, voila!

Our entire harvest was just delicious tonight.


For some reason we haven’t been able to completely turn our time around after the trip back from Europe. Reputedly, traveling west is easier on the system than traveling east, but it’s not working out in this case.

We had landed in France with few if any effects of jet lag, thanks to the NoJetLag pills. On the trip home, we also took the pills but we’re having problems realigning. Last Friday we just gave in and got up at 4:30am--which has to stop. A couple of these mornings, wakefulness has led to early morning sex--which doesn’t!

Other routines are back to normal. I spent most of Friday hauling and stacking rocks for various projects, and hauling earth to finish building up shoulders next to all the recently paved areas. I had maybe 60% of the work done before we left on vacation; after being away from it for three weeks, I felt the strain but it’s the best possible workout for me.

While I was away in NYC on Wednesday, Fritz planted almost two hundred bulbs, mostly in a nice patch of land in the front of the house that was never dug up or changed in any way by the excavators. There are maybe another hundred bulbs left to plant.

In addition to the eight flowering bushes we planted earlier in the summer, we covered the area over the septic system’s leach field with day lilies, lots and lots of day lilies. It should look gorgeous out there starting next spring, particularly as they’ve all survived the transplant from elsewhere on Fritz’s property where they were overcrowded and needed thinning anyway. One of the best things about them is that it’s almost impossible to kill a day lily once you have one, and they spread all by themselves to make great masses of blooms in the early and mid-summer.

The color here is at peak now, the weather being perfect for outdoor work. On one of the flights we took, I worked on a list of all the things we still have left to do. If you read it all at once, it’s a bit daunting. When some of the outdoor plants got potted and brought inside for the winter, we realized that the wide painted plaster window sills in the great room and master bedroom really need to be tiled. I like tiling. It’s very satisfying work, and we’ve picked handsome colors and textures for each room. The great room sills will have tiles identical to those on the kitchen backsplashes, further uniting the two rooms.


I’ve always loved archaeology and seriously considered going into it as a career at one point in my childhood. Here’s an interesting story about recent finds in Rome:

'Gladiator' tomb is found in Rome

The tomb of a general thought to have been an inspiration for the main character in the Oscar-winning film Gladiator has been unearthed in Rome. The tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus is one of a number of recent archaeological discoveries in the city.

Marcus Nonius Macrinus was a favourite of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, helping him achieve major victories in Europe. He is believed to have in part inspired the character Maximus Decimus Meridius, played by Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

But although the film character is also a favourite of Marcus Aurelius and goes into battles with him in the late 2nd century AD, that is where the similarities end. The real Roman general is not believed to have been sold into slavery only to return to Rome as a vengeful gladiator.

The tomb was discovered along the northbound Via Flaminia where construction work has been taking place. Many marble columns, inscriptions and decorations have been beautifully preserved thanks to the mud caused by a centuries-old flood of the River Tiber.

It is "the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for 20 or 30 years", said senior archaeologist Daniela Rossi.

More than 10 inscriptions on the tomb detail the life of Marcus Nonius Macrinus. They show he came from Brescia in northern Italy, was a police commissioner, magistrate, pro-consul of Asia and close confidante of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who wanted him to fight in the wars against Germanic tribes in northern Europe.

Much of the tomb remains buried in mud, and Professor Rossi said archaeologists were working around the clock to unearth the rest of it. "Perhaps we will also find the sarcophagus. It's also too early to say how big it is, but it appears there was a row of columns at least 15m long, so it was quite huge," he said.

The tomb is one of a number of recent archaeological discoveries in Rome. Workers renovating a rugby stadium have uncovered a vast complex of tombs that mimic the houses, blocks and streets of a real city, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Meanwhile, archaeologists restoring imperial residences in the heart of ancient Rome are also reported to have found what they believe to be the underground passageway where the Emperor Caligula was murdered by his guards.
Story from BBC NEWS

I remember when I was in Rome walking on sidewalks inlaid with panels of glass so you could see parts of ancient buildings under the pavement. The government of the city of Rome has given up the thought of any more subway lines in a city that needs them desperately, because the moment an earth mover’s scoop breaks the soil anywhere, some classical remains come to light. Everything stops while the archaeologists are called in for yet another major dig that can take months if not years.


Today’s picture display is devoted to Avignon, a gem of a city with it’s medieval walls intact, that hosts a major festival of the arts every year. It’s crammed with history, great architecture, good food, and wonderful exploring.

Our hotel, the Hotel Cloitre Saint Louis was made from an early 17th century monastery.

Our room was in a round tower.

Our bathroom featured the narcissist's shower--completely mirrored. The room was quite bizarre, with reflections bouncing everywhere.

The Papal Palace with the Cathedral in the background. For some eight decades in the 14th century, the Papacy was in residence at Avignon for complex political reasons having to do with French/Italian relations. The Pope and various Cardinals built elaborate palaces for themselves while everybody else lived pretty much in squalor.

The gilded statue of the Virgin Mary on the Cathedral tower is identical to the one on the big church overlooking Marseille seen in the previous blog entry. In the 19th century the Catholic Church placed them on many of the major churches.

The famous Bridge of Avignon that used to span both channels of the Rhône River and the island between them. The lynch pin of Avignon's economic lifeline, the bridge originally consisted of 22 arches until a catastrophic flood in the early seventeenth century undermined several arches on the western end. Later floods took down many others. These four remaining arches have been reinforced and, in any event, dams situated upriver along the Rhône now control the flood waters.

Avignon's city walls are complete except for one or two places where small sections were removed to let trucks pass through. You can't walk on them, which would have been fun to do. In the late 19th century when several European cities were tearing down their medieval walls (Vienna, Paris) Napoleon III had Avignon's repaired and buttressed to preserve them.

Les Halles, Avignon's big central market, home to forty vendors of everything culinary from wines and cheeses to pastries, fresh meats, fish, and prepared foods. The facade was engineered by the architect to be a vertical garden, heavily planted, with built-in irrigation. It conceals the building's parking garage.

All Provence is influenced now by immigration from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco as well as sub-Saharan Africa (
In Marseille, we had encountered a full scale Arab/Berber market in one of the city's squares). This is a small part of the spice market at Les Halles.

A window at the Avignon shop of designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Many designers were showing fashion based on the Goth look and we saw some mainstreamed Goth fashion in the streets.

A medieval bell tower with automated clock that is now incorporated into the city's 19th century Hotel de Ville (city hall). Look carefully in the arch on the left and you'll see part of an animated figure that begins to move around when the hour strikes.

An early evening wedding party moving down the Rue de la Republique, which is the main--and only--boulevard in Avignon. As with Baron Hausmann's redesign of Paris in the second half of the 19th century, the Republique was driven through Avignon's medieval tangle of streets, eliminating everything in its path to provide a straight road of significant width from the train station to the main square down by the Papal Palace.

What a great post! Newly dug potatoes to a wedding in Avignon with stop for a gladiator tomb and day lilies. Your zest for life is admirable.
Thank you, Sylvia--and welcome to DesignerBlog!
Neat pics. When I was in Rome, I felt like I was in a living museum. It was surreal.
between the history and the food I would love to visit this place; I guess I have now through your virtual tour!
Avignon is someplace I've always wanted to visit, but have yet to. Your photos definitely keep it on the muse see list. Les Halles looks like an amazing place to shop for food. I have fantasies about going someplace like that with the goal of purchasing the ingredients for a fabulous dinner party.
Les Halles is definitely the place. There's everything there with a huge selection and even some exotic cookware. Good local Cotes du Rhone wines at a very attractive price as well.
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