Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Madrid, Spain

Got back from Madrid late yesterday evening. We were supposed to arrive home at about 6pm but our flight was delayed in Madrid already. Ugh.

We had a great time. We arrived on Friday evening and met the groom-to-be and a group of his home-town, Italian friends for drinks and dinner. I think we ate dinner at about 10:30 pm. Which, by the way, is totally normal in Spain. A little difficult for me, because I've been in bed by that time of late... We visited the La Latina quarter and had a great meal.

We stayed at the Hesperia Hotel, which is a 5 star, and worth every star. Especially since it was only €130 per night! I don't know if that was a special rate Antonino got for us wedding guests, but I'm not complaining.

The wedding was lovely, Alicia looked so Spanish in her veil. The wedding reception was at our hotel - a blessing! We had finger food and drinks until about 4:30pm and then moved on to lunch (!). Yes, lunch. That's what they called it anyway. The food was fantastic. I had a bit of trouble with the start of the finger food, because it was all raw. But then they brought out some yummy things I could eat. It was really too bad, being in spain and not being able to eat the Iberian cured ham (basically raw) and a lot of the fish finger food. But I didn't starve!

We spent a lot of time with Antonino's Italian friends, and had a great time. They didn't complain about my slow pace or need for frequent breaks. I expect they barely noticed. Italians can't walk and talk at the same time anyway, so I often found myself walking even slower than I needed or out-pacing the pack! We took the subway everywhere and someone always got up to give me their seat. It was very sweet. We visited the main tourist attractions: The Royal Palace, the Cathedral, Plaza MayĆ³r, Plaza del Sol, Gran Via. Drank cheap beer (well, I didn't!) and ate great, but inexpensive food. Nom!

We forgot to charge the camera batteries, so no pics at this point. We used Magnus' phone instead...


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is there such a thing as too much vacation?!?

On the eve of taking off on the first leg of 2+ weeks of travel (for fun) I'm finally getting around to blogging a bit. 

I was away for a good week, lazing at the seaside near Pisa, Italy; attending a wedding in Siena; and touring medieval hill towns of
Tuscany. It was a great trip. I needed to get away, get somewhere warm and sunny (as opposed to staying in cold and grey Hannover), read lots, walk, eat good food and feast my eyes. It panned out: Hannover stayed cold and rainy while we were sweating and doing our best not to get sunburned in Italy; We spent 3 days with the In-laws in Lido di Camaiore, loungeing poolside (reading, reading, reading) and walking along the beach. I managed NOT to get a sunburn, miracles of miracles; We ate extremely well, which you have to work hard not to do when in Italy; and we saw lots of beautiful places. We visited Lucca, San Miriato, Volterra, Siena and Vicopisano, all within an hour's drive of Bientina where we were squatting at a friend's place, and most of them medieval towns situated at the top of high hills with great views of the countryside. Actually, Volterra is quite a bit older than medieval. It was founded by the Etruscans thousands of years before the Romans arrived there. 

Anyway, here are some photos from our trip.

You might have noticed a certain roundness to my mid-section.  I've mentioned it elsewhere, so most people who follow this blog, will know already that I'm expecting! A little boy will grace us with his presence sometime in October. Official due date being my dad's birthday: 10 October. We are immensely pleased.

Tomorrow we're flying to Madrid for the weekend. Another wedding to attend. Next Wednesday we'll be on our way to the USA, where we'll first visit my parents and friends in my home town of Madison, Wisconsin; spend a day in Chicago (and have lunch with the famous author, Larry Santoro) before heading out to Missoula, Montana where my brother and his family are planning the most amazing 40th birthday party for me! :-) 

See you around!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Narration: Gunfight at the Sugarloaf Pet Food & Taxidermy, by Jeff Carlson

I've just been told that my narration of Jeff Carlson's story "Gunfight at the Sugarloaf Pet Food & Taxidermy will be available on StarShipSofa from tomorrow (Wed. 10 June, 2009). This was a fun one to do, especially because it made me think of my brother and his family who live in Montana, where this story takes place. If you get a chance, pop over to the website and download the show. I'm sure the whole show will be worth listening to. And if you like it, go show your appreciation over at the StarShipSofa's Forums. Tony always starts a new thread for each new Aural Delights show. This one will be No. 88.


Also, M & I are going to Italy tomorrow for about a week. We'll be spending a few days at the seaside near Pisa with the In-laws, including M's sister and boyfriend. Then on Saturday we're attending a wedding (a former colleague of M's in Karlsruhe) in Siena. Then a few more days near Florence. It'll be nice to have some warm weather and sun.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

My Blog Wordle

For something fun:

Ah man! I wanted to publish the code for the link to my cute Wordle. I entered the text of my blog onto this site (www.wordle.net) and it created a colorful word cloud. I think this is the link:

My Blog Wordle

Original title, I know.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Feedback: Michael Bishop feature on StarShipSofa

A few weeks ago the StarShipSofa ran a shorter than normal Aural Delights show which featured SF writer Michael Bishop (No. 82). I did the narration for the main fiction story, Vinegar Peace - or the Wrong-Way, Used-Adult Orphanage.

In the course of working on the narration I had the chance to correspond with Mike and learned that his internet connection is too slow to stream the podcast or download it, so I offered to burn him a CD of the show and send it when it came out. He must have listened to the show the minute he'd opened the envelope, because I received the loveliest of thank you emails I think I've ever gotten. It made me get teary. Here is an excerpt:

Dear Diane,

Your recording of "Vinegar Peace," along with your letter, arrived yesterday, not long after I'd sent you an e-mail. Please know that everything arrived intact and that we are heartily grateful to you for your thoughtfulness and generosity in providing us with a CD of your narration of the story and my introduction, a CD that also contains lead-in music, Tony Smith's extraordinarily kind remarks about the "privilege" of presenting the story, and a sensitive reading of "Jamie's Hair" by Jim Wilson (a.k.a. Dale Manley).

If you would, I'd appreciate your telling Tony Smith how much this episode of "StarShipSofa" (or "Audio Delights"?) means to us and to apologize to him for my not getting back to him sooner with a positive response to every aspect of the program. ... In any case, a bravo to everyone for every aspect of this show and to the artist who did the powerful online cover for it.

Diane, your reading is pitch perfect, as is your singing of the lullaby "All the Pretty Horses" -- I really like the way that, at a certain point, your narration resumes over the singing -- and your rendition of the "hymn" "Bold Gory." These touches, along with your credible impersonations of various characters throughout, animate and lend what seems to me heartfelt emotional depth to the piece. Thank you so much.


In any case, Diane, I have no doubt at all that you were the right person to narrate "Vinegar Peace." Bless you.



I am grateful for his kind words.