Thursday, December 24, 2009

A White Christmas!

It snowed big-time in our part of Jack's Canyon the night before the night before Christmas. 
I got up at five a.m. to go to the bathroom and shined my little flashlight out the window to find the south forty piled with snow.  I ran to the other parts of the house to open the shades and look outside: mounds of snow all over!  Huge pines, pinons, and Arizona cypress with limbs drooping under the weight of so much snow. 
When it got light enough, around 7:20, we hooked up Shasta and went out for the most glorious walk in the mist shrouded joy-inspiring flakey-whiteness of our corner of the world. 
I've never felt more like a kid on Christmas!
We ran into neighborhood friends who had the same idea.  Enjoy the photos.
To all of you Merry Christmas and to all a good night.
Love, Peace, Joy, Laughter and Good Food!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Alive and Almost Well

It was not the trip I'd hoped for. 
I've been ill since the night I flew from San Francisco to Munich then to Pisa.  Upper-respiratory infection that was not treated aggressiively enough in Italy and blossomed into bronchitis, which I still have and am now treating quite aggressively thanks to my Nurse Practioner here in the good ole' USA, Cathleen Jochim.  Today is the first day in over a month that I have felt like myself and felt up to writing to you.
Being so ill and without energy, I spent a great deal of time at home in Lucca with my cousins: a challenge for all of us.  I did manage, after a week, to ride in the car with my cousin to some of the composer Giacomo Puccini's homes in the area, and that was lovely.  Another memorable outing took me to the hills above Lucca to stroll among the olive groves and watch the workers harvest the most sought after olives in the world for making extra virgin oil. And I managed an afternoon in Florence. 
In Piazza della Repubblica, at Ristorante Gilli, in the sunshine, in the warmth, without a horde of tourists, I am lunching.  When living here in Firenze, I used to dream of sitting under these golden awnings and savoring a good meal, but never let myself.  An inhabitant I was then, not a visitor.  But today is my first day of flying the coop in Lucca after being in bed for a week.  Today, freedom is mine, thank God, on an afternoon in the cradle of The Renaissance.
"Signora, ha deciso? Madame, have you decided?" 
"SiCozze e Vongole Saute, Insalata di Tonno e Verdure, Aqua Minerale Naturale.  Mussels and Clams Saute, Salad of Tuna and Vegetables, Mineral Water Non-carbonated."
"Un bicchiere di vino, signora?  Va bene con le pesce...  A glass of wine, Madame? It goes well with the fish..."
"Certo.  Sure."
The bread and water arrive first, then the wine--a beautifully blown glass with liquid gold undulating in the broad bowl.  I tip it to my lips--yes, crisp, dry, cold, with a lush finish.  Indeed, perfect for the fish.
Book-ended by two thin crisp toasts, the mussels and clams arrive in a generous, white, oval bowl.  The aroma seduces.  With my fingers I pick up a baby clam, suck the meat out, and drink the broth pooled in the shell--it is the sweetest most tender clam I have ever eaten.  I try a mussel--same deal.  The flavor is salty and sublime.  A sip of wine--Frascati, my guess--and all is right with the world.  I lean back in my chair, raise my Arizona-tanned face to the Tuscan sun slivering between the awnings and breathe as deeply as I can the air of perfect culinary bliss.
Gazing up at the ancient gate to the city and recall when I was teaching at Istituto Americano, a few steps away from where I sit.  Then, the salad arrives: crisp and fresh with a cornucopia of tonno on top surrounded by capers, olives, aritchoke hearts, and rounds of tender mozzarella di bufala, buffalo mozzarella.  I dress the greens and veggis with good green oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and drench the tonno in the oil.  A salad to savor for its freshness and simplicity.
My God!  This is something to come to Italy for!  A meal I would have made for myself in exactly the same manner elegantly served to me in a piazza, in a city, on a day that is unforgettable.  Sono contenta.  Passo un hora cosi, nel sole di Firenze.  I am content. I spend an hour like this--in the sun of Florence.
More to follow.
I am so very happy to be home.
Love,  Susan

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to the Motherland!

Gang!  I'm packed and ready to hit the trail tomorrow to Bella Italia!  Wow!  Can't wait to see the smiles on my cousins' faces when I come around the corner from baggage claim at Pisa Aeroporto.  It's been two years since we've been together, and that is just too long. 
It'll take me 26 hours with all the layovers, the first of which is in my beloved San Francisco.  Three hours to kill in an airport I like very much:  dinner in The Crabpot Restaurant--crab something--then a stroll through the wonderful bookstores.  I'm not taking a book to read, other than my Italian Verb Tenses exercise book.  Besides, my carry-on is full enough.  I'm hoping to watch a segment of the German-produced Inspector Brunetti films, which I discovered last time Lufthansa carried me to Italy.  Yes, the same Guido Brunetti of Donna Leon's vivid imagination. 
At the suggestion of my dear friend Cathy Gazda, I will purchase a lovely notebook at Signum in Firenze (exquisite paper goods) and keep a gastronomic delights journal, from which I will try to blog you-all when I can get to a computer.  So, maybe you'll put on a few pounds just reading about my culinary ecstasies!!
But taking a cue from Shirley MacLaine, What A Way To Go!
Happy Thanksgiving!!
La Susanna

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ready to Roll

Yo!  Fans! Here I am!  Awake since three and ready to speak. 
Two days of a vice-crunching, throbbing headache caused by, I thought, a severe change in weather was sent packing by Miracle Man Dr. Marc Viafora at Mountain Dove Chiropractic.  It seems to have been a pattern for me at this time of year, ascertained Dr. Marc, who then said, "Let's see if we can interrupt that pattern."  We did.  Not without a sobbing trip deep within, followed by immediate release, a three and a half hour nap, and a peace that permeated my entire being.  Wow!  This Network is great stuff.
That afternoon around four-thirty tiny white dots fell in Pine Valley!  They morphed into large lacey flakes that hitched a ride on Shasta's back as she and I walked through the magical screen of snow that graced our corner of the canyon on Wednesday. 
Twenty-seven degrees right now!  Yippeeeee!  The summer was soooo hot and sooooooo long and sooooo buggy that this is nirvana.
Registered yesterday for The Hollywood Book Festival in July of 2010.  Produced in conjunction with Barnes & Noble, this is a one-day event that brings authors and filmmakers together to further the bringing of good stories to the silver screen, home-screen, any screen.  I am very much looking forward to returning to the scene of my former life as a two-book-on-my-way-to-three-and-four AUTHOR!
Haven't even thought about dinner!
Buongiorno, amici!
Baci, Susanna

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back on the Block!

Hey, blog fans!  Sorry I've been out of touch for a week.  How did it get to be a week?  Whew, time really does fly! 
I've been getting rave reviews from readers of my new book, I Knew It Then: men and women from Sedona to  New York, California and Louisiana to Canada:  "It's magnificent!" "Hard to put down!"  "You're a phenomenal writer!"  "I didn't want it to end!"  "I laughed, I cried, I loved it!"  It is so rewarding to get this kind of response for three years of hard work on so many levels.  Thank you!
Kathryn, Shasta, and I, along with our friend Cheryl, drove north three hours for a two-day visit to Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell in Page, Arizona.  Antelope is the canyon you have probably seen in photos: the colors, lines, and formations look like the inside of a conch shell.  And after being inside that canyon, I can honestly say I felt that I was at the bottom of a dry ocean.  The most exciting part for me, however, was getting there from the toll booth.  Our pick-up truck was full of folks in the bed, so Cheryl and I rode in the cab with our guide and driver Juana.  (Kathryn had been the day before and stayed in the Highlander with Shasta.)
The sand was soft and dry and we skidded in and on and over ridges.  Juana said, "I'm just up from Phoenix visiting my in-laws, who were short a guide..."  Okay, Juana.  At times it felt like we were floating, at times like we were taking off!  But Juana got us there and back safely and all with a smile on her lovely face!
Got some great photos.
Enjoyed the rest of our time at stunningly bluuue Lake Powell, and Glen Canyon Dam and Recreation Area, part of the NATIONAL PARK System!!  How appropos. 
I have to say it was just as good as the first--or any--time driving into Sedona and pulling into our canyon-embraced driveway to relax and sleep in our oh-so-comfy desert hacienda.  I LOVE WHERE I LIVE!!
Dinner tonight?  Cannellini beans with garlic & sage, salt & pepper, and good green oil; polenta fried to crispy outside, moist inside, Caesar salad, and maybe a glass of chilled Vouvray from the Loire Valley in la belle France!  Still staying slim, I am: Italy is three weeks away!
Enjoy the photos and bon appettito!
Baci, Susanna

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Best of The Best!

Man!  I tell you, it was Hollywood all over The Harkins Theater in West Sedona last evening!  The place was packed, the crowd joyous, and Some Like It Hot was never better! Released in 1959 and just as timely, funny, and thrilling as ever, and I've seen it at least 20 times.
Robert Osborne, of course, introduced the film and passed on some juicy morsels:  Billy Wilder, the director of this and many other terrific films, signed Tony Curtis first, then went after Frank Sinatra for the Jerry role and Mitzi Gaynor for the Sugar role.  Yuck!!  Can you imagine how not spectacular this movie would have been with those two, albeit talented and wonderful performers, in it?  Holy moley!  But, Sinatra didn't show up for a few meetings with Wilder, and Wilder, not wanting to deal with Frank's casual attitude, looked elsewhere. Jack Lemmon was a relative newcomer then, and Wilder wanted established star power for his film.  Meanwhile, Marilyn Monroe heard of the project and wrote Wilder a letter saying she wanted very much to play Sugar.  Wilder signed her in a heartbeat, and then signed Lemmon.  Tony Curtis later told the audience that he asked Wilder why he changed his mind about Jack Lemmon, and Wilder replied that Marilyn would get people into the theaters, so he could now sign the lesser known Jack.  Well, Jack was never to be lesser known again after his fabulous turn as Jerry/Dapne! 
Osborne also revealed that Marilyn, apparently a savvy businesswoman, not only took a big salary for starring in the film, but 10% of the gross profits, which made her a very wealthy woman--from Some Like It Hot alone.  And well she should have been for her luminous beauty and irresistable innocence never had a better showcase than this film.
I spent most of the two hours buoyed in my seat, floating on so much unabashed laughter that filled the auditorium throughout the film.  Hoots, hollers, whistles, and wild applause broke out right after the last immortal line uttered by Osgood to Jerry, "Well, nobody's perfect..." and carried on until Tony Curtis was introduced and rolled down the aisle in a wheelchair.  He stood and greeted Robert Osborne as if he were a long lost brother.  A bout with pneumonia last year made him unable to walk well, but "My doctor told me I'll be able to walk again, soon," he said at the end of a candid, warm, very funny, and captivating interview.  The most startling thing he revealed was that he and Marilyn were quite at ease with each other, especially in those very hot scenes on the yacht, on the couch, "lying on top of each other."  Why? Because unbeknownst to anyone on the set of Some Like It Hot, Tony and Marilyn had dated, quietly, when they first came to Hollywood: he 23, she 19, unknowns trying to get a break and make a name for themselves.
In those unforgettable scenes they were comfortable because, as Tony said, "We had practiced." 
He rolled out to the lobby and sat in the chair shaking hands and talking with fans.  I was never a Tony Curtis fan, but after last night, count me in!
That's it for today, blog-fans!  Go out and get your local theater to show Some Like It Hot on the big screen!  Then, you can be high as a kite like I am today!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Author Surfaces

Yep, it's taken me a few days to revive and come down to earth!  But with the help of my Miracle Man Dr. Marc Viafora, Network Chiropractor, spiritual guru, and joyous being, I am riding on a lighter wave of consciousness!  Thank you, Marco!
For some ungodly, or maybe godly ? reason, I have been awake since three this morning and feeling just damn happy!  Put the heater on for the first time this year and am LOVING the crisp, cold, high-desert autumn.  Summer was lonnnnng and hotttttt this year and I am thrilled to be in Columbia fleece jackets (yes, I have a collection of them) and warm fuzzy scarves.
Today is a special day indeed: Tony Curtis is in town showing his artwork at The Sedona Arts Festival and a gallery in town, and The Sedona Film Festival has managed to snag two of his movies to show today as well.  At 7:00 pm will be The Sweet Smell of Success with Burt Lancaster, and at 4:00 pm, my time for the movies, will be Some Like It Hot!  One of my top five favorite movies of all time!  And not only will Tony be in attendance for an interview after the showing, but my pal Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies will be here to introduce the film and interview Mr. Curtis.  Wow!  Some Like It Hot on the big screen!  How coooool is that?  I loved this movie so much when it came out, maybe I was 10 or 12, that I sat through it twice, back to back!  Favorite line?  When Joe (Tony) asks Jerry (Jack Lemmon) why he would even consider marrying Osgood (Joe E. Brown, who is a millionaire MAN, and who thinks Jerry is Daphne), Jerry, who is dancing around the room singing and shaking a pair of maracas, reliving the tango he was doing with Osgood moments before, ecstasy imbuing every cell of his body snaps back, "Security!"
There are only two things the presence of which would make this even more exciting:  Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon!
I'll let you know how it all goes!!
Buona Sera, amici...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whatta Day!

The first ever Sedona Book Festival was a rousing success!  Eight hours of authors, publishers, readers, and shoppers all present to further the art of the written word.  Barbara Litrell and Joe Neri did a fabulous job of organizing the fest and everything ran smoothly.  Thanks to you both!
I must say, after the push to get my book ready, published, and in my house by October 3rd, today I am whipped!  Wanna just lie on the couch and watch a good film.  Yet my mind keeps straying back to the heady times of yesterday. 
Thanks to my wonderful friends and neighbors who came down to listen to me speak and read and buy my books!  And to Rudy Garcia, the man who makes my hair the fabulous conversation piece that it is!
I wanted to go out to dinner and celebrate, but my partner was out of town, and my friend Michaela didn't want to go out.  My first thought was stop and order some pasta at Pago's and take it to Michaela's house.
A few miles down the road I said to myself, "Why pay $15 for pasta that won't be as good as mine?"  So, I went home, changed clothes, grabbed my Bio-Naturae Linguini (organic imported from Italy), Provencale olives (black, bitter, salty), red pepper flakes, and leftover World Market Marinara Sauce (damn good for sauce in a jar) and put 'em in my bag, along with a bottle of Bolla Bardolino (my favorite everyday red wine) and beat it back to Michaela's, where she and my beloved Shasta (dog-child) greeted me with smiles and hugs.  A perfect pair with whom to share my success!
Soon I'll be posting some pix from The Festival on my website and here at the Salon.
Today: more of The National Parks on PBS and guessed it, INSPECTOR LEWIS!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Though I am loathe to miss Masterpiece Mystery and Inspector Lewis on Sunday nights, I must say that part one of Ken Burns' new series, The National Parks on PBS was wonderful! Yosemite in particular drew me like a magnet. I envied John Muir and his explorations: his listening to the rocks, and climbing to the tops of trees in a storm to know what exactly the trees experienced at such a time--wow! His finding God in Nature's majesty. I felt like his soul sister for I certainly found God in the majesty of Red Rock Country, where I now live, and was actually called here by God him/herself, which I write about in my new book, I Knew It Then. After watching that show last night, I wanted to hop in The Highlander this morning and head north to Wupatki National Monument and The Painted Desert, Marble Canyon; into Utah and up to Bryce Canyon; to all the Red Rock Wonders and wide open spaces that I could find. This stunning country that is my corner of the world ignites my passion. I am grateful to be living here.
Have a lovely evening!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Sunday!
And it is one for me: finally slept a full night after two or three of staring at the stars; a crisp, cool morning to walk the dog and yak away with my friend Catana up and down the hills of Pine Valley; and an email that said my books were shipped from the publisher via UPS on Friday and will arrive at my home on Tuesday! Thank God! The Sedona Book Festival is Saturday, October 3rd and I DO want to have my books. Looks like I'll be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the week in jolly anticipation of the soiree. It's my first book festival, as well as Sedona's, so you know what Sade says in that song of hers, "It's never as good as the first time..."
Making Tofu Marinara for dinner tonight: sauteed in good green olive oil, lotsa garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, and Mama Diodati's famous Salsa Napoli. Mmmm....
Happy Sunday, y'all, and buon appetito!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Away We Go!

Off into the blue horizon of cyberspace! I am rather amazed that I am so excited by this whole presence on The Internet right from my peaceful red rock home in Sedona, Arizona! But you know, having exposed my innermost in my new book, I Knew It Then, has freed me to come on out. Wow! Social Security, a website, and a blog all in one year; that's heady stuff! Who would've thought??? Not me, folks. Well, I have thought about the Social Security money for a few years now, but not cyberspace. Just goes to show you that age is just a number, and life can be whatever you've got the time, energy, and inspiration to make it.
Look forward to hearing from all you other Artist Way devotees, and anyone who would like to reach out to me.