Creating Life at the Villa Coro di Rane

This blog is about being in the moment - creating life one instant at a time, whether in the flesh or on paper.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I am behind on my blogging, so these photos were actually taken about 2 weeks ago. This is what was in bloom at that time. The cherry blossoms are just about gone now, especially after the huge storm last week. We were pretty lucky here. A tornado touched down on the other side of Pulaski and damaged 200 houses. It even made national news!
Yashino Cherry Tree

Tulip Tree

Virginia Bluebells

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The St. Paddy's Day dinner actually took place on Friday, the day after the holiday. It was a lovely, warm day in this area, so Andy and Teri inaugurated the pre-porch season. We had drinks on the porch before dinner...
... and Andy modeled his holiday tie.


It turns out that Andy & Teri celebrate St. Paddy's Day every year by cooking a full corned beef and cabbage dinner. This year they invited me over to join in the feast. The table was beautiful with festive shamrock-decorated placemats.
The dinner was delicious, with my favorite turnips in addition to the potatoes, cabbage, and carrots, and, of course, corned beef. I think I hadn't ever seen a whole corned beef before. It doesn't just come sliced in sandwiches! Andy made Irish soda bread, too, which was the piece de resistance.
The candles and lamplight emphasized the good cheer in the room.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Nicholas' school was closed for several days around the Presidents' Day holiday for conferences. Heather had to teach that week, and I babysat one of the days. The weather was gorgeous, so Nicholas and I went to Clemyjontri Park. We took our lunch with us and ate at one of the kiddy-sized picnic benches.
Then we played for another hour or so, with Nicholas having a great time climbing, running, swinging, and jumping on the wonderful and creative equipment at the park. I was just trying to keep up with him and be in the same area that he had darted off to - which was no mean feat. The park was extra crowded that day because all of the schools were closed. I had lots of company with parents, grandparents, and nannies all trying to see where their little charges had run.


One evening my neighbor discovered a bat hanging from the limb of a bush outside her door. My pictures are bad because I didn't want to get too close to it. I had never seen one just hanging before. In fact, the only live ones I had ever seen before were the ones that used to swoop down over the pool at sunset in Northfield to get a drink. As the spoof pest control commercial that I sometimes hear on Pandora's country station says, "Bats are vampirical by nature!"

Monday, February 14, 2011


After the auction, we went home and it was time for me to start painting. Ken had done a lot of work on the ceiling on Friday and put on the first coat of paint. He also spackled the walls and they were ready to go. The first room I chose to work on is what will be my office. The colors will be red and gray. I started inside the closets, and it's fortunate that the early painting will not be too visible. Here's what the first patch looked like!
It was pretty scary. But later on I changed to a roller and a bristle brush and started to get into the groove. I haven't finished the room yet, but it has begun to look like there might be hope for it. At least that Pepto Bismal pink won't be on the walls anymore!


I went down to Pulaski on Thursday this week, hoping to get more work done in a long weekend. This was the first time I had been there early enough on a Friday night to go the jamboree at the country store in Floyd. It was packed! Some out of towners (even out of state), some students from Tech, and lots of locals.
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The guy below is always at the store, paid by them, I'm sure, to add "local color". There is also a bird-like woman who dresses like a cross between a madam and Minnie Pearl. I think (hope!) she is paid to dress that way as well.

We heard 2 groups while we were there. One of the groups was called the "Jug Busters", and the lead guitarist was named Nicholas.

The songs were all bluegrass, of course, and alternated between 2-step and flat-foot rhythms. I watched the feet and after deciding that the step wasn't hard at all, decided to give it a go. Ken and I were "dancing" on the side since the floor was so crowded and there wasn't any place to leave my purse. Then, someone beckoned me in, so I left my purse and coat with Ken and joined the fray. I even flat footed to "Dixie" at some point in the evening. You can see "Minnie Pearl" in the picture below - the blonde in a red dress with bolero top and short ruffled skirt.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Last week I got an email from Dan Matthews, a dear friend from Russia days. He was going to be in DC, so we made plans to meet for lunch. The last time we met was in New York City, where we had lunch at the outre Jean Georges. This time we went to Georgia Brown's for some good down home soul food, albeit yuppy style. Dan has been in Baku now for 12 years. We had fun catching up and assessing the turns our lives have taken.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


All week the weather people had been pretty squirrelly about their forecast for the week. At first it was for rain, then for rain maybe mixed with sleet, then for an inch of snow, then maybe 1 to 3 inches. Finally, on Wednesday morning they announced 3 to 6 inches. It started to snow in the afternoon and was really quite lovely.

I took these 2 shots from my balcony, showing the lake and the crepe myrtles below.

At 8:00 I looked out to see how much had accumulated on Ravi, and this is what I saw!

Remembering last year's Snowmageddon, I went out to brush off the snow that had come down so far, so that, in case it snowed all night, my job would be easier in the morning. I estimated at least 8 inches had piled up. As it turned out, that was the brunt of it. In the morning, no more than an additional half inch had accumulated.
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Our clan knows how to party! Two weeks ago, Heather and Dudley hosted Nicholas' drum circle birthday party for his friends, and we also celebrated Tara's birthday. Last week we celebrated Nicholas' actual birthday on January 21st, along with mine, which was the day before, January 20th.

A blazing fire provided a comfy backdrop.

As usual, we started out with a champagne toast! Nicholas has sparkling cider.

The birthday celebrants.

Nicholas had tested and earned his white belt that afternoon, so he demonstrated some of his winning postures. He can look pretty fierce!

He also had to make sure we all knew that had turned 5. He told us all about taking the "5 trips around the sun" at school that day - the clever Montessori way of helping kids understand the passing of a year.

Then he finally got to open the big package that he (and I) had been excited about as soon as he saw it. One night when I baby sat, we were looking at one of his catalogues and he showed me a picture of a truck that he really wanted. I already had bought a birthday present for him, but decided to keep it for Frog Level and get him the thing he had his heart set on.

I don't think he was disappointed!

It was like Christmas all over again, with bows on the head and lots more presents to unwrap.

One of the presents was a doggie hand puppet from Grandy and Gipu.

I don't have photos of me opening presents, but I got some yummies, too, including some great jewelry, sexy reading glasses, smudge sticks to purify Frog Level, a "How To" book for beginning gardeners, and a CD of musical hits from 1942, the year I was born. When we finished with presents, Heather and Dudley brought in birthday treats - key lime pie for me and strawberry cheesecake for Nicholas.

I'm glad my candles are only partially visible!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Heather and Dudley decided to have an African drum circle as the theme for Nicholas' fifth birthday party. He was very excited about it and counted the days until it would arrive. Tia Tara drove all the way down (12 hours!) from the Cape with 25 drums in her car to be the teacher/leader. The kids all loved it and actually sat still for 45 minutes while she taught them some basic drumming rhythms.
Best Buds rockin' out!
After the party we all went back to the Capps' house for a yummy Southern dinner of fried catfish, hush puppies, collard greens, and cheese grits. Then we celebrated Tara's birthday, which comes on January 28. She won't be able to come down again for the actual day, so we "aprovechared" having her with us so close to the time. There was a red velvet birthday cake, presents, and, of course, champagne toasts. We enjoyed reminiscing about the details of Tara's and Nicholas' births, and even tried to piece together some of the details of mine.

At the end of the evening, Andy modeled the beautiful sweater Heather had knitted for him a few years ago and the coat I brought him from Uzbekistan.


He virtually oozed authority and wisdom!

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Thursday, January 13, 2011


Nicholas decided that it was time to eat the gingerbread house. To do that we would first have to demolish the house, which for an almost 5-year old boy, is heaven. He donned his fireman's suit, rounded up all of the necessary equipment, and started by putting the excavator to work to size up the job.

One of the roof panels came off first. As he took each piece down, he loaded it into the dump truck to be hauled off for eating later on.

Then, after both roof panels were down, it was time to tackle the sides.

Finally, it was all gone and he surveyed the "empty pit". We had done enough tasting along the way to know that the gingerbread was worth saving and that the gum drop and candy decorations will be sweet treats for several days!