Dark Blue Velvet Memories – Prose Poem – November 20, 2015

summer 1987_4

The dawn, yet to come – the sky is dark blue velvet and the wind whispers of the sea, these all speak to me of you.  You who loved to wind-surf on the sea, you who made sculptures with me out of jetsam and then we combed the sand as though it was a young girl’s tresses,  like Japanese monks.

The sea, so many long years ago, another velvety predawn.

A shepherd passed with his sheep each morning.  We awoke to the sound of the bell sheep, the others bleating behind it.  The shepherd always smiled at us, maybe thinking that we were a little crazy to sleep on the sand wrapped up in sleeping bags when we had a perfectly good tent set up.

“‘Giorno!” he’d say tipping his hat then he’d follow his sheep never looking back.

summer 1987_2

The days were hot and the sun intense, so we built a shelter of old straw mats, reeds and wood we’d found on the beach or just beyond the beach, in a sort of tangled grove.  We bought two folding chairs and during the hottest part of the day we sheltered, until the tide rose.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And after a day of swimming and surfing, when the night came, we played our harmonicas as we waited for our dinner to cook over the open fire.  We drank our wine, talked for hours and then  made love under the stars to the sound of the waves on the shore.

wisteria sky

this blue velvet sky
is turning purple now
the sea – far away
I walk along the lake – there
a lone surfer sails at dawn

© G.s.k. ‘15




Sunday Scribblings 2 – Velvet


Just a Note – A passing – October 28, 2015

Father and Son


I’ve been off-line since Sunday afternoon and will probably not be writing on my blog for a few days.  Unfortunately my husband met with a fatal accident, it seems that probably due to a fall (where he’d hit his head and bruised his back and legs a few weeks ago) he probably had a micro fracture which went unnoticed because when he only consulted our doctor about the vivid bruises he disregarded the rather large bump on the back of his head. Our doctor believes that he probably was a victim of an aneurysm or something similar due to the fall which broke loose while he was riding our moped.

Luciano was an artist.  He’d created his own form of artistic expression (which I’ll call “glass works”) and created some really beautiful pieces of which he was justly proud.  He was a cancer survivor and had just received the results of his recent analysis reassuring him that no new cancer cells had been found, for which he was very relieved.  He had the opportunity to see his son receive his Master of Arts Degree in Modern History with honours for which he was both proud and happy. And though we had our ups and downs as do most couples … we had many wonderful moments together.

He didn’t expect to die any time soon  … he didn’t write a poem for his passing, so I will try to write his jisei for him.

quest’uccello vola libero
in autunno

this bird flies free
in autumn

© G.s.k. ‘15

Below is a sample of Luciano’s work and a few articles I’d written in the past.  Many of the photographs that you’ve seen over the last few years on my blog were taken during walks I’ve with him.  These photographs were taken by me as well … the quality is poor but they will give you an idea of what he used to do. The opening photo is the last photo I took of him with our son on the day of our son’s graduation, just a few days before his passing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Luciano Neri – Objects on Glass a Photographic Exhibition

La Rocca di Riva

Sotto i portici di Riva

The Exhibition

A Triolet and A Sedoka


Friday Fictioneers – From Sea to Shining Sea – Memoirs- January 11, 2015

Begin the Route

Back in 1959, returning from the Philippines, my family (that is my Mother and Father) decided to see America. We arrived in Los Angeles and the next day started driving across the great nation in our new station wagon.

Over the mountains, into the desert, we even passed Salt Lake City by night, my Mom told me, “There’s not one nail in that temple!” A week’s stay at Grandma’s in Illinois, then onward to New Jersey.

The only thing I remember of the trip is miles and miles of road … but we crossed the nation from sea to shining sea.

G.s.k. ‘15

dividerWritten for Friday Fictioneers PHOTO PROMPT – © Copyright Jean L. Hays

Friday Fictioneers – June 20, 2014

First of all I’d like to wish Rochelle a wonderful time during her two week summer vacation!  For the occasion she’s put up a “re-run” but as I’d never seen the photo before it’s a new to me!  Got to love some re-runs!

Copyright -Mary Shipman

Copyright -Mary Shipman

Remembering (1964)

It was the summer of 1964 when grandma decided to redo the bedroom where I’d be sleeping.

She called in my uncle to do the job. He pulled down and replaced the old plaster board, the wall paper was thick: a hundred years of layer upon layer.  Ah, the “wild-life” that scuttled away! He re-did the old undulated floor too.

I got to choose the paint, lilac, which was my favorite color then. He completed the job building me a build-in closet.

Being the oldest of 4 kids, I’d never had a room of my own. It was paradise!

This is a true story inspired by Friday Fictioneers!


April Fools Day – 1970! – Memoirs – June 6, 2014


After a 6 hour flight and 8 hours on an over-crowded train, we finally reached Alassio at 4:30 pm April 1, 1970.  Alassio was beautiful.  The air was filled with the perfume of orange blossoms and other flowers, the streets and plazas were also filled with flowering trees and palm trees, some of which looked like huge pineapples.  After having what is called a “toast”  (a dry as dust grilled ham and cheese sandwich cooked in a toaster)  and a coke into which they’d plopped a slice of lemon we went to my husband’s aunt’s house.

The surprise was general and boisterous! My husband’s aunt began to finish fixing dinner, although she was a little upset because she hadn’t a lot of time to fix a proper celebration dinner.

In the States, where I was born, in 1970 my dinner would probably consist of maybe fried chicken, mashed potatoes and maybe some ice-cream for dessert.  I was 18 then and hadn’t had much to do with  Italians food, outside of pizza and spaghetti.

We set down to dinner at around 8:30.

To begin with, there was antipasto…some cold cuts with olives and pickles on a large tray.  I was hungry by now, not having had much to eat so, I took some ham and olives with crusty bread.  Wine was poured for everyone, something I’d never seen happen before in my house (where we usually still drink water).

Then our hostess brought in a huge bowl of pasta with Bolognese sauce.  That didn’t surprise me, because, like wow!  we were in Italy, right?  I had two portions and thought : “This is great!” and it was too, really fantastic.

I was full and figured that dinner was over, but alas, no.

Now she brought in two trays;  one of sliced roast and the other roast chicken as well as oven broiled potatoes and vegetables.  I had a portion of both, or rather, she put a portion of everything on my plate. I couldn’t pass I was told or I’d offend her.

Finishing this I felt like a stuffed chair.   I was sure that the meal was over.  Nope, she now brought in fruit and cheese and they insisted that I try pears with cheese, a real delicacy.  Near to bursting point by now, I was really beginning to suffer.

She then brought dessert, a “tira-me-su”, a rich trifle made with whipped cheese, sugar, eggs and cake that she’d thrown together at the last moment.

I don’t think I’d ever eaten so much in my life, not even on Christmas or Thanksgiving!  We all then set around continuing to drink wine (or rather they did as I didn’t like the wine at all) then,  she brought in the coffee.  Tiny cups half filled with a very dark liquid.  I asked for milk at this point, it was just too strong for me.

I began to feel pretty sick.  Jet lag had caught up with me and I was Of course I’d eaten far too much and then there was the wine, though I let up quick on that because as I said I didn’t appreciate the taste, but still,  I was feeling woozy.  My stomach hurt as well as my head.

From the middle ages Italians have drunk at the end of a meal what they call a “digestive”.  Some are pretty good actually, they’re made with a combination of herbs that have sat in alcohol for a few months (or sometimes years).  One in particular is a horribly bitter mixture made from artichokes called “Fernet Branca”.  When aunty saw that I was in distress, she immediately pulled out the magic bottle, filled a water glass half full and told me to drink it down in one gulp.

I did as I was told, via my husband of course, who in all this could have given me some warning as to what was happening, but he thought it was cool that I should judge Italy on my own without any forewarning, besides, what a splendid April Fool’s Day joke!  Anyway, the dark coffee black liguid, went down in one gulp…and then I ran as fast as I could to make it to the bathroom, where everything came out at once.

For the next three days I was abed with a fever of 102 and only began to eat toast and tea the second day.

What an April Fool’s Day joke that had been.


Short Story Prompt : We Drink Because We’re Poets

Roma – Free Verse May 25, 2014

Oh how I long,
To walk along the Tiber at dawn
Nostalgic and passionate,
Castel Sant’Angelo would beckon:
“Cross the bridge … come!”
A carriage awaits near the Spanish Steps
For a romantic evening ride,
Or I’d splash in the Trevi Fountain
At midnight …
Your call is like a siren’s song:
“Come … I miss you, and you me …”
Sighing I dream,
Of  walking down your streets,
Though I love my mountains dearly,
Seeing you would make my heart soar.
From the first hills of Sette Bagni
To Termini my heart would begin to sing:
“Here my love, I am again!”
Eternal city
My first love,

The Saracen Tower


I love heights…the beauty of looking for miles and miles from a high tower, the fantastic view from a mountain.  I love heights, but I have a vivid imagination.

All along the coast of Liguria in Italy, at strategic points, stand ancient watch towers.  From the highest point of one tower you can see other towers just up or down the coast.  They were built during the late middle ages to protect the coastal area from pirates and the terrible Saracen hoards that used to sail along the coast invading the land, killing, raping and plundering.  There’s only one problem, these towers are usually locked up tight.

That day walking in the hills we came upon a Saracen tower, locked of course, but there on the second floor was a wide opening, a sort of huge window.  We found some boards nearby and decide to climb up to see what the ancient watchers would have seen from the top of the tower.  I went up first followed by my newly wed husband.

Once inside the tower, we found some stairs which took us to the very top.  The scene that met us was breath-taking and beautiful.  Not far away was Thor Heyerdhal‘s village, he’d bought the abandoned village some years before and was remodelling it.  Further down the coast there was Andora’s tower…further up Alassio’s.  The sea was beautifully calm and blue-green that warm early summer day, the wind whistled in our ears.  It was exhilarating to be there to see what the watchers would have seen!

Then we had to get down from the tower.  I looked at the flimsy boards that had seemed so secure a little while before and my stomach seemed to flip-flop and sweat broke out on my forehead and seemed to run down my back. I looked at the board and looked down.  I told myself that it really wasn’t so very high, but just thinking of getting onto that old rotted board made me think of how easily it could just fall tumbling either myself or my husband to a broken leg, or worse.

These were the days when cell phone weren’t even part of our imagination. We were also off any beaten path.  No one came up here, it was still early in the tourist season, and Heyerdahl’s village was empty, except for the custodians, now that Easter was past. My husband decided to go first  discovering that he too didn’t feel any too sure about those boards either.  Finally courage in hand, as I tried to hold the board still, he shimmied down the board butt first. I kept seeing him at the bottom of the board, on the ground with a broken leg.

“Ok, no problem!  It’s easy, just don’t look down.  I’m holding the board!” he said.

At that point, my ears started to ring, and I felt dizzy. I saw the earth come up to meet me as I looked down at him.

“I can’t! I’m frozen! Oh my God, I’m going to fall!”

“Just don’t look down.  Turn around and get your footing on the board.  I’m holding it steady.”

I grabbed the stone window ledge as I turned around and put my leg over the side.  At first I couldn’t find the board, but then, yes, there it was, then I put the other foot onto the board. Finally, letting go of the stone ledge, down I came to safety.

Over the years, the memory has become diluted with others, sometimes more unpleasant, so that the feeling of an empty drop from only two floors now seems so silly.  I love heights, it’s just that I have a very vivid imagination.

Under the Saracen Tower - 1970

Under the Saracen Tower – 1970

Prompt 49 Frightened Exhilaration

Learning toWind Surf – Memories

wind surfingLearning to Wind Surf

 What is it about blue water that makes one feel as though they could walk on water…or maybe fly on water would work better for my tale?  One of the most interesting summers I think I’ve ever passed was the year I decided that I would become a wind surfer.  I could just imagine the wind in my hair as I smoothly glided upon the lake, then jibeing against the wind to come back to the shore, finally floating up onto the beach.  I’d seen other surfers doing just that so often, and well what would it take, just learn how to remain balanced on the board and hold the sail, right?

Not so easy!

It took me quite a while to be able to stand up on the surf board and longer still to pull the sail up while doing so. I couldn’t even count the times I fell into the water only to have to climb back on the board and try again.  Once I was able to do that I had to get the sail into the wind.  Then sail against the wind, or tack.  Finally, after a few weeks I could putter up and down the shore without making a complete ass of myself!

The day came when I thought I was ready to take on the afternoon wind, on Lake Garda it’s called the “ora”.  The really experienced surfers don’t even go near the water until the “ora” comes up.  You can see it coming…the wind changes the color of the lake as it whips up the water, from deep blut to nearly white.  I saw it coming that day, so I got my life jacket and wet suit on, pulled my board into the water, attached the sail, hand-paddled out a bit from the shore and raised my sail to the wind!

What a fantastic feeling, to just lay back and let the wind carry you out!  Then, I tried to jibe and found myself in the water, with other surfers whizzing past me.  I got back onto my board, but I couldn’t raise the sail.  The wind was too strong for me and would knock it and me back into the water.  After about a half an hour of fighting the situation, the cold was seeping into me and my strength was waning.  Finally, I laid stomach down on my board and started to paddle back to shore.  It took me a good hour, but I made it.  I felt pretty silly, what would everyone think of me.  The answer was, nothing.  No one even noticed except my son, who came along to give me a hand to walk the sail and board back to the surf club.

All throughout my life, I’ve always bitten off a lot to chew, sometimes the situations I’ve gotten myself into are not only humiliating, but darned dangerous.  I risked hypothermia and being run over by my fellow surfers, far worse than what really bothered me then, getting my pride hurt.  I built up my strength and kept on trying.  I finally did fly on the water, but it took more time than I had thought it would an a dose of humility.

humility is born
checking great pride
then wind sings

Written for Mindlovemisery Prompt 48 – Escalating Humiliation

Of Tether Ball and Mercury

(C) Sam Ballard - this house was similar to what we lived in on Clark AFB in the Philipines between 1958 and 1959.

(C) Sam Ballard – this house was similar to what we lived in on Clark AFB in the Philippines between 1958 and 1959.

When I was eight years old, I lived in the Philippines and had a friend named Mick Briggs…well, Michelle and most of the time she was called Micky, but she liked calling herself Mick.

She was a year older than I was and had two older brothers.  We used to pass the time inventing games, playing “Easy Money” or bopping around the tether ball her dad had put up for her brothers.  We also used to play war with our other next door neighbors, two very rude boys who used to think that being bully was being cool.

The so-called permanent housing on Clark AFB were a strange affair.  They were huge wooden T shaped affairs on high cement blocks (the photo above is not quite but very close to the house I lived in as we had one of the bigger three bedroom houses.).  All along the house at floor level, there were screened openings, with a little corrugated metal roofing to keep eventual rain from entering; they were natural air ducts.  The windows were huge!  All of this was to keep the houses cool in a time when air conditioning didn’t exist.  I have to admit, the architects did a good job, I don’t remember it ever feeling really hot!

The cool thing was playing under the houses!  Mick and I would build sand castles in the sandy dirt for hours.  Unfortunately I picked up infantigo which was really awful.  These were the days before antibiotic ointments.  I remember my mom washing the scabs off with surgical soap and a rough wash cloth, then my mom would put on some sort of cream and put gauze on the sores.  I also picked up pin worms twice!  So eventually, we were encouraged not to play under the house anymore.

I think one of the greatest days we had together was when her bother broke a thermometer.  He put the mercury into a little bottle and told Mick not to touch the stuff.  When I came over to her place, the first thing she did was to get the bottle and take it to her room.  We poured the stuff out and had a great time pushing the beads of silver all over the place.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, her brother came home and found us out!  Of course he shouted at us and put the stuff back in the bottle and marched us into the bathroom to was our hands.

Today, I’m going to talk about tether ball with my students during English conversation and looking up material about the game, I’ve found that the game has become nearly extinct!  Our tether ball pole had a rope nailed to the top of it, and a cloth bag in which we put the ball.  We’d play for hours (or until her brother’s wanted to play, which wasn’t often) and I go pretty good at it.

Christmas 1959, Clark AFB the photo was taken by my Mom

Christmas 1959, Clark AFB the photo was taken by my Mom

Funny how a game can become nearly extinct.  Have you ever come across a game or pass time that just ceased to exist?