Thursday, July 24, 2014

ROME - continued

Leaving the subway station we immediately see the Colosseum. Wow! This is THE Colosseum-- where gladiators fought..... It's hard to focus on directions to our apartment when this historic stone structure is literally across the street from us. 

This is our view from in front of our apartment.
We have the address to the apartment and according to the map it is very close by. We find the street name we're looking for but we're not sure whether to turn left or right. Left takes us up a BIG hill and we don't want to have to trek up it if we don't have to. After a few minutes we ask an older Italian lady if she speaks English and she speaks a little; enough for us to understand what she's saying. She instructs us to go right and walk along the buildings until we see our apartment number. Sounds easy enough, only every building looks similar and the numbers are difficult to see if you're not familiar with the architecture. We walk several blocks and again have to ask for directions from a young man. He tries to help us but really has no idea where it is. So we turn around and walk back in the direction we just came. We see the apartment number and realize we've walked right by it! It's a great location right by the Colosseum! Perfect!
This is our welcome gift when we get to our apartment. :)

We are arriving earlier than scheduled but the manager allows us in the apartment early which we're very thankful for. He shows us around the apartment and gives us keys and then asks us for our passports. This is the first time anyone has asked for our passports. We didn't even have to show them at the airport! The apartment manager wants to take pictures of our passports with his phone. I'm a little unsure about this so I ask why he needs a picture and he tells us the owner of the apartment needs to know who is staying there.  Hmmmmm ok I guess. So all four of us lay down our passports and he takes pictures of each one. Once he leaves Jess freaks out that I let him take a picture of our passports so now I'm freaking out too. I'm googling to see if this is 'normal' or if we've all just given this complete stranger our passport information. Of course when I look at the google remarks there are a million people that say it's normal and a million people that say it's unheard of. My mind instantly goes to the movie Taken but I don't say a thing to anyone else because everyone is freaked out enough already. I have to admit though, during our entire stay in Rome, every time I heard a siren I held my breath a little bit. I think I've watched The Bourne Identity a few too many times. (But I do stick the phone number of the American Embassy in my purse. Just in case.)

We don't let that 5 minutes of craziness detour us though! We set down our suitcases and set out to see some Roman ruins.


I despise cleaning house. I like a clean house but I hate to clean house. Kind of a catch 22 isn’t it?

This morning I forced myself to crawl out of bed even though an early morning rain storm made the skies as dark as coal which played tricks on my mind. When I looked at the time I questioned whether it was morning or night which made for a bit of a “Groundhog Day” moment.

 But I was determined to get SOME cleaning done so I headed to the kitchen. First order of business -- the refrigerator. Now who in their right mind starts with the refrigerator? I KNOW I’m going to find something nasty in there… and I do. I think it might be spaghetti sauce that has now turned in to a science experiment even my biology teacher would be proud of. I don’t open the lid; I just toss the entire plastic container in the trash. I don’t even want to know what the brown sticky stuff is on the middle shelf. Ewww…  OK, it’s time to break out the rubber gloves. I’m taking out the shelves and washing them down. While I’m at it I may as well wash out the drawers (yes, the one that had moldy, juicy cucumbers in it.)

Now that I have the counters covered in trays and drawers and the trash can is full of old food containers, I move on to task #2 – under the kitchen sink. Ugh! Where did all this crap come from? Who needs 4 scrubbing brushes? I don’t even use scrubbing brushes! Maybe that’s why they all look like new! Of course once I started cleaning under the kitchen sink I realize that much of this stuff would be better off under the laundry room sink so I’ve just added a task #3 to the mix! This is precisely why I detest cleaning. 

Eventually both under sink cabinets are wiped down and rearranged and I do a victory lap around the kitchen table. But my celebration is short lived when I step in something sticky. 
Dang it, where’s the mop?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I have a saying on a wall that says 'do something that surprises yourself.'  

I thought of this yesterday as  I was on my way to our local Super Center when I noticed a man on the corner holding a sign. As car after car after car drove by him without stopping, he lowered his sign in a bit of frustration or sadness, I wasn't sure which. I told myself that when I finished shopping that I was going to see what that sign said and stop and help him. Then I remembered I needed to run down the street to get some fresh sweet corn before I headed out of town. This route took me back by him so I turned around to see what his cardboard sign read. It read "Everybody Needs Help Sometime"   

Aloud to myself I said, "You know you're right. Everybody does need help sometime." So I pulled over and walked to the corner to speak with him. He reminded me of one of my brothers. Much thinner than my brother but I assumed he was about the same age, had been through a similar type of life, and his hair and beard were similar to my brother's. 
I walked up to him and he immediately put his sign away and said, "God bless you ma'am." I think he was expecting me to give him money. I should not assume that though. He was very kind and mannerly. He was thin and it was easy to tell he hadn't bathed recently but his hair and beard were fairly well groomed.We talked for a few minutes on the street corner and then I asked him if he'd eaten lunch  (it was 1:20 in the afternoon). He had not. I asked if he wanted to walk across the street and I'd buy him some lunch. He said he'd like that.

I arrived before him and  waited at the front door of the restaurant. He carried a very small duffle bag which I could easily tell didn't have much in it. The sides of the bags sank in and it was very light weight.

He held the door for me, and we walked inside. I had no idea how people would react to him but I was prepared to defend him at that moment if need be.
I walked to the counter and told the young lady that he needed something to eat. When I turned around to ask him what he wanted, he was gone. I looked around and he had already gone to sit down at a table so I ordered a hamburger and french fries for him along with a drink. This man was truly thankful for something to eat.

We sat down together and began a conversation. I asked him his name. Robert. Robert told me he was 53 years old. I would not have guessed that. I had expected him to be at least ten years older than that. I sat with him while he ate and we had a short conversation about how he got to North Platte, his family, his future. As he began eating he said, "I didn't realize I was this hungry." My heart broke a little. I told him to eat as much as he wanted.

I asked him where he was going and he told me he wanted to get to Colorado to find work. He wanted to work in construction and I mentioned that although I didn't know who he'd talk to there was a lot of construction going on in this area as well. He then said, "That's the problem, I don't have any I.D." He said someone had stolen it. At this point a multitude of questions came to mind that I did not ask. The answers really weren't important anyway. He said both of his parents had died in the last five years and he had no other family.
He told me he had come from Kansas City on a train and that it had taken him 11 hours to get to North Platte. For reasons he didn't mention, he said he would never ride a train again. The conversation was slightly awkward but I felt he needed me to visit with him so I did. 

When he finished his meal I asked him if he'd like anything else, maybe some ice cream. "No ma'am, I'm full. Thank you."

I don't what Robert's circumstances are and frankly it doesn't matter. Whether he told me the truth about his journey or not, it's irrelevant. I'm just a person who saw another person who needed a little boost of kindness. 

I hope Robert finds his way home, wherever that may be. 

Friday, July 18, 2014


From Florence we took the train to Rome. Oh! Did I mention we had forgotten to buy train tickets until the last minute (again!) and when we did there were miraculously 4 seats together in first class for $6 extra. Hallelujah! We LOVE that ticket lady! She somehow knew we'd had our fair share of adventure for the trip. 

The other trains we had ridden were very comfortable and clean and we had no complaints but when we saw these train seats.... we did a happy dance. The four of us had our own little "section" with amazingly comfortable seats. We were given warm towels to wipe our hands before being served snacks. The best $6 I've ever spent! We could have ridden that train for an entire day and not minded at all. 

One thing we did not realize is that we had to take the subway a short distance once we arrived in Rome to get to our apartment. First off, these Nebraska ladies have never been on a subway and secondly, these Nebraska ladies were a bit out of their element to say the very least. 

As you know a couple of us suffer from a bit of claustrophobia so getting on an jam packed subway car was a bit overwhelming. We let the doors on the first car close before we could decide whether to get on or not! When the next one pulled up we waited until the last minute to dash on so we didn't feel like we were in the center of a sardine can. We barely got in, the doors closed and BAM! we were moving!

THAT is when the laws of physics were proven yet again.

Inertia: tendency of an object to resist changes in its velocity.

Velocity: speed with a direction 

This is the point where my feet resisted change and the rest of my body went in a different direction and I landed on the floor, on top of my suitcase.It all happened so fast! Still on the floor, I looked back over my shoulder and my kids are laughing - hard! Katie is nearly in tears she's laughing so hard and Jess just doesn't want anyone to know I'm with her. My sister offers her hand and  helps me stand back up. Thanks Shell! 

NO ONE else on the train thinks it is one bit funny. Everyone just gives us dirty looks and doesn't say a single word. Seriously people lighten up!It's not like I meant to fall down! Geez! Oh, and I'm fine, thanks. 

Once I'd gathered myself I notice the lady whom I had nearly landed on and she is hold a tiny baby on her chest. I mean a tiny baby. He couldn't have been more than a few days old. As if I didn't feel bad enough! Okay, I can understand why she gave me a dirty look. 

Thank the good Lord we only needed to ride the subway for a very short time. 
 *p.s. No, we don't have a picture of the debacle. :)


This video has summed it up PERFECTLY!

Our "food" isn't even real food anymore.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Lingering - 1. to remain or stay in a place longer than usual 
                        as if  reluctant to leave
                      2. to dwell in thought or enjoyment
                      3. to take one's time, proceed slowly

Depending on the time of day the color of these salvia flowers range from a deep plum to lavender to the most beautiful natural purple ever. These shots were taken early in the morning. As I was watering plants, I noticed several bees and a moth feasting on the sweet nectar so I had to grab my camera.

Do you see the bee in the center of the picture?

The moth eluded me for a while but I was patient and eventually he returned to drink more of the sweet sugary liquid for breakfast.

So I lingered a while and simply watched....and enjoyed....and was a bit reluctant to leave.