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Archive for May, 2009

My mom has been told she should no longer drive. For her this is a problem, in part, because it means she must rely on my dad to take her the her many varied activities. My folks live, as do most Americans, in a suburban environment. This made me think of Orvieto and of Morganton, the small NC town to which we are moving.

Healthy Interaction

Healthy Interaction

As we search for a house in Morganton one of the criteria we are using is that we can walk to downtown. Morganton still has a grocery store on the edge of downtown in the area we are looking. As we age we will be able to walk to do our necessary chores even if we can’t drive.

I think about Orvieto and the amazing mix of ages that is on the streets. Amongst those are the elderly who go to the market on Thursday and Saturday, and who can do all the necessary chores of life by getting around on foot. What an absolute blessing.

Necessities Within Walking Distance

Necessities Within Walking Distance

In addition, there is great social interaction that takes place on the street. People aren’t separated from others by their cars. This interaction is healthy for us as people and healthy for seniors who are often isolated.

One of the things we are going to have to begin to cope with as all of us baby boomers age is the livability of cities for seniors. It’s not that it isn’t an issue now – I think how much better it would be for my parents if they could walk everywhere they need to go. It is just that the sheer number of boomers is going to raise this issue to the fore.

Walkable

Walkable

Orvieto provides a wonderful example of how the physical design of our communities can have a tremendously positive, or negative affect on the quality of our lives. Imagine if you could step out your front door into an active, vibrant, nourishing environment such as the one at left!

We have much to learn here in this suburban nation of ours on how to care for our populace. It is the obvious and the less than obvious. Orvieto provides our travelers many lessons!!

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I am managing to get back here for a quick post. I realized something the other day. I think people often blog as a way to connect in a world where connection is difficult. We somehow find it easier to use a blog than we do getting together with people. Our need to be human and have that human connection is somehow served by the blog.

For me, blogging is a way to talk about Orvieto and what we love about it, a way to say why we love being in Orvieto. Primarily this has to do with being in touch with life, which of course includes people. So when we are in Orvieto I feel no need to blog. We are so connected here to people. We are in a pedestrian environment where we are with people all the time and run into people we know constantly. It is lovely. So disciplining myself to sit down at this blasted machine to connect to all those in the ethers is difficult. It just isn’t the same as touching others face to face.

So, I may be back, but don’t be surprised if it is not until we’re back home that I get on here again. Here are some pics of life the last few days. Ciao!

Dinner Veggies at Palomba

Dinner Veggies at Palomba

Capturing Etruscan writing at Necropolis

Capturing Etruscan writing at Necropolis

Palazzone where we do a wine tasting

Palazzone where we do a wine tasting

Getting ready to taste at Palazzone

Getting ready to taste at Palazzone

Workshop leader Lisa Englebrecht work

Workshop leader Lisa Englebrecht work

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Evening Light on S Andrea

Evening Light on S Andrea

I said I would try to blog from Orvieto. Already I can tell it will be difficult. I would rather be out in the city than in here writing. But we are waiting for a friend to call to go to lunch. So I have a few minutes.

We LOVE this city and its people. Truly, we have more friend here than at home. This is due, in part because you are in a human scaled place, where it makes sense to be on your feet. As a consequence you are with people and you run into people. Faces become familiar and when you speak to someone they, recognizing you, are friendly in return. So we have already developed two new relationships with people who we have seen for years on the street, but not spoken to. And we have been here less than 24 hours.

Kristi with Cristian and Alberto for coffee

Kristi with Cristian and Alberto for coffee

There are some new restaurants in Orvieto we will want to try. The city has been busy creating several new public space improvements in piazzas. Nice to see the new and the familiar as well. We had a beer with Stefano last evening, dinner at Cristian’s last night, met him and Alberto for coffee this morning. We have touched base with the people we will be working with next week when our group is here.

The birds are singing, the bells are chiming, the sun is out, the weather is warm. It is simply a joy to be here. Here are a few more pics from our time here. I may get back here over the next few weeks. I may not. We shall see. Meantime, we will be enjoying it all! Off to lunch! Ciao!

Full Moon last night

Full Moon last night

Take away pizza

Take away pizza

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As we get ready to join our group in Italy, to enjoying the fullness of life, it has got me wondering about twitter. I have talked to friends who use it, who espouse its benefits for their business and “clients,” who reel off all its pluses. I have finally decided – all apologies to its devotees – that it, along with so many other social networking forums, is sheer, unadulterated stupidity. Sorry!

Here is my frustration with all these forms for “staying in touch.” If you are twitting, if you are texting, if you are instant messaging, yes, if you are blogging, you are not living. If you are telling someone what you are eating, you aren’t tasting it. If you tell someone what a beautiful sunset it is, you aren’t seeing it. You are somewhere else – trying to induce envy, bragging. But you aren’t present.

Yes, all these technologies have undeniable benefits. The way they are used, however, go beyond useful. If you are following 10, 20, who knows how many people on twitter you aren’t living your own life. I read that someone has 1,000,000 followers. Come on! If a million people are following one person, how many others are they following? Talk about the need to get a life!

Real Social Networking!

Real Social Networking!

And here is what saddens me. We are so plugged in to our little digital screens that the world is passing us by. While we tell about or read about all the wonderful things going on, we aren’t there. We are in our screens. I fault business for some of this. It is a form of marketing, a way to stay in people’s faces, a way to show your value irrespective of what it does to the lives of employees so fragmented and over worked as they add new technologies they have to keep up with in addition to everything they were already doing.

I resisted blogging. Who really cares what I think – and really, very few people do! I did it for our business because I was told it is a way to easily update folks – much easier than through the web site. This is true, and I have to admit I enjoy the chance to write, because I am philosophical by nature. Blogging lets me engage my philosophical bent. And if nobody reads, that’s ok. I get to express myself – a little bit of creative energy.

I only spend about an hour a week blogging. It is not my life. I am not going to add twitter and the countless other forums that would eat up my day. I so wish the world would wake up from all its technological addictions and enjoy a slice of life. Ok. I desist. No more ranting! We head to Italy to immerse ourselves in life.

Sunset in Orvieto

Sunset in Orvieto

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In four days we’ll be winging to Italy. I am so looking forward to seeing old friends, soaking up the quiet of our B&B, staring out over the valley, enjoying a cappuccino with Stefano, Giovanna and Erika, eating with Cristian, enjoying the bustle of the market, meeting our group as it arrives, watching as Orvieto unleashes its magic on them. The list is endless!

img_4320blogHere’s my dilemma. Sitting here, I envision me spending time writing a few blog entries recording what is going on, how I’m feeling, providing a real sense of what Orvieto is like. It only makes sense to try to capture in words what we love about Orvieto as we are experiencing it. Trying to do it from memory and 5000 miles away is just not as effective.

But. Once we are there, things change. We get into the rhythms of Italian life.streettalk We really begin to savor the moment. We stop hurrying. We pay attention to detail. We enjoy long, lingering meals with the members of our group. We revel in the new, unexpected discovery. We get wrapped up in the constant interchange going on in the streets. We nestle in to the quiet of the midday siesta. We listen to and watch the swallows as they do their acrobatics across the sky.

One view from San Lodovico

One view from San Lodovico

When all that is going on there is absolutely no interest in turning on a computer, in staring into it’s glowing eye, in not being present. For, you see, when we are in Italy we are living in the moment. We aren’t dreaming of something else, we are living the dream.

So we’ll see. It will be easier at first to blog. The longer we are there, the more unimportant blogging will become. More important will be gazing at something rich, drawing it in my journal, having another sip of wine, holding my dear wife’s hand. Ciao!

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