Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year-end Reflection

The end of the year, time for a moment of reflection. This picture of Brandon at Castello San Sebastiano da Po makes me think of a moment of quiet. A peaceful moment, paused in the busy-ness that is an 8 year old and the busy-ness of our everyday lives.

This morning I was reflecting in my journal that, while it is always surprising to reach the end of the year and realize a new one is upon us already, this year didn't seem to fly by. If I think back to where I was a year ago, it was a very different place both geographically and personally. It seems like many years ago. I am happy to say that, a year later, I am a different person. A happier person. Much more me than ever before.

So, with that note, I hope that you all have had a wonderful 2009, and take a moment to reflect on what it brought you. And I'm wishing you a fun New Year's Eve and a fabulous 2010! Ciao!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Special Treats

Since I posted the German bakery window photo the other day, other food photos have been popping into my head. This one is from Bergamo, a town not too far from here, and one of my favorite cities in Italy. This is a dessert specialty called "Polenta e Osei" which is named after the entree of the same name. The entree is actually polenta with a whole small bird (Osei) cooked on top. The dessert is much more appetizing, with no polenta or birds involved. It is a very sweet cake with a sugary crust, creme filling and small chocolate birds on top. We enjoyed sharing this one and get one every time we go to Bergamo.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boyhood, A Still Life

I didn't set up this still life, this is how I found the kitchen table yesterday morning.

You see, Brandon got a copy of The Dangerous Book for Boys from my Mom for Christmas. And our house has been a-clutter with random items ever since as Brandon tries out the experiments and activities. On the table this morning was:
Aluminum foil
Snap Circuits experiment kit
Nail with tape on it
2 Legos
A rock
Other random pieces of tape

I think this was exactly what the authors intended with this book!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

Maybe I've been watching the Ice Age movies too much, because I have the song "Food, Glorious Food..." that the buzzards sing stuck in my head. But here in Europe, there is a lot of glorious food to sample, and to photograph. My waistline shows it too! This marvelous, carbohydrate-laden bakery window is from St. Goar, Germany, in the Rhine River Valley. Mmmmm...

Sunday, December 27, 2009


In the mood for some color and sun today, so I pulled out this window box photo. It's one of my early ones here, from Pavia, and also one of my favorites. I love the unique flowers, that were matched perfectly to the building color. This was in a back street, not a normal thoroughfare, yet there was this attention to beauty and detail. I keep saying this, but this is something that I love about Italy.

Yesterday, I went to see an exhibition of paintings and drawings by American artist Edward Hopper at the Palazzo Reale in Milano. It was fabulous, he was an amazing painter of light and of unique American scenes. They compare his work to a "photographic view" so maybe that's why I resonated with it so much. My favorite painting in the exhibition was Cape Cod Sunset, but this image doesn't do it justice. The sky was the perfect rendering of the rainbow dusk sky that I've always loved. One thing I've learned about works of art, is that seeing them in a book or online is not the same as seeing them in person. The color, the texture, the feel is completely different.

It's interesting that I discover this wonderful American artist in Italy, but I guess that's just part of my rediscovery of art here. If you have a chance, take a look at some of his work. Or, maybe go see some art in person somewhere, to have your own artistic discovery. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


This is one of my favorite photos from one of our many trips into the city of Milan, our "home" city if you will. Since we live in the small "suburban" town of Vedano al Lambro, we go into Milan to get the big city feel. I love the energy of the city! There is nothing like the feel of the Piazza del Duomo, packed with people on a Saturday, all just out for the sake of being out.

This is the vegetable carving guy that we saw in the same place everytime we went into the city this summer. He carves amazing works of art from carrots and turnips and beets, like this rose. It is amazing to watch. It's more like he frees the object from inside the vegetable rather than carves it, he's just removing the unnecessary parts.

We're going into Milan today for the day, to see what we can see, explore the town a bit. I have a couple of art exhibits to choose from and I've looked up a couple of toy stores for Brandon to search for Lego train track. We won't see our vegetable carver, it's too cold this time of year, but I'm sure we'll see something interesting!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This photo is from early in our time in Italy, in the Duomo di Milano. Off all of my images from the many churches we've visited, this is the happiest. I loved the light of the many candles and the girls who were so thoroughly enjoying lighting theirs and the reflection off the halos in the image behind them. There is beauty and peace in the ritual of this religion.

I thought I would share this image today, even though it's from a different time of year, to honor all of the different ways to celebrate the Christmas holiday. In a country very strongly influenced by the Catholic church, the church is a big part of the season here. We heard bells from our nearby campanile (bell tower) ringing quite a bit last night, and expect to hear them again today and tomorrow. A few weeks ago, the local priest came by to give us a schedule of events for the Christmas season at the church. Another difference to enjoy while we are here in Italy.

However you celebrate this season, I hope that you enjoy your time with family and friends!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Black & White

I'm feeling black and white, after more snow photos that just called out to be converted to black and white yesterday. So I decided to change my blog design to match my mood! There are bonus photos today, because I couldn't decide which one of these to post. Yesterday, after the snow, we went for a walk in Parco di Monza and these were my favorites.

One of the fun things about Parco di Monza is that in some places, the trees were planted with such a perfect symmetry. It's unnatural nature, and works in a photo like this.
I can't decide which of these next two I like best, they each give a different feel. I like that they both give a better idea of how big these trees are, relative to the people! Which one do you like best?
I like the different elements in this one, near, far, random, ordered...
My new favorite of Patrick and Brandon, my snow men!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Reflections

The window displays are gorgeous here in Italy! I loved this creative and beautiful display in one of the shop windows in Torino. I don't even remember what they were selling, but the display was memorable. Things are all decked out for the holidays here, extra colorful and glittery and festive. A bright spot in the dark and cold of winter.

We got a good snowstorm yesterday afternoon and evening, causing all sorts of problems trying to get home but we made it safe and sound. I need to get out today and get into the snow for some new pics while it lasts, it's supposed to turn to rain later this week. I asked for snow, and I got it!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lights and Snow

Let's see... Lights, check. Tree, check. Snow, check. Third largest cathedral in the world, check. This must be a photo of the holiday decorations in Piazza del Duomo in Milano! Friday night was a wonderful photo op of lights, snow and people with umbrellas. I hope that everyone is enjoying the beauty that is around you this time of year, don't forget to stop and appreciate the lights in the dark of winter.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow, A Day Ago

Brandon and I went out for a short walk in Parco di Monza yesterday morning. Me, to take some photos; Brandon, to make some snowballs. It was a black and white day in the park. Even though I converted this photo to black and white, the original does not look much different. I love this path, lined by the trees. So peaceful.

I hope we get a lot of snow this winter, since we don't get much normally in Oregon. We just need to find an ice scraper for the car, they don't seem to exist here and we've tried a few places. This morning Patrick scraped the car windows with a big lego!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow, A Year Ago

It's a bit snowy here in Vedano this morning, so I'm inspired to post one of my favorite snow pictures. This is from Corvallis, last December, right before Christmas break. It was the last day of work before the Christmas shutdown and it was a glorious morning of snow and light, quite unusual to have so much snow in Corvallis. I took a fun hike through the untouched snow outside of work and took some of my favorite snow pictures.

I will go through my pics from last night in Milano and this morning sometime this next week and post some new winter pics from Italy. We're going to Torino tonight - it's supposed to have fabulous lights!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Classic Italian

I love these classic little Fiats, you see them here or there. This one was in Pavia, and I liked the old-fashioned license plate. None of that EU stuff here! I just got lucky with the reflection of the buildings. A happy coincidence that makes this photo say "Italy" - the car, the license plate, the buildings, the street - classic Italian!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Creative Spirit

This photo gives me such a good feeling. I can remember the creative excitement I was feeling when I took it, this greenhouse at Castello di San Sebastiano da Po (Piedmont) was such a wonderful place to photograph. I was filled with an urge to capture as many images as possible, from all different points of view. How many ways can you photograph something? An infinite number. And what I'm finding is that the one I like best of series or place changes over time.

Reviewing the photos of this year since I started posting a photo a day has been enlightening for me, seeing what caught my eye at the time and what catches my eye now. Finding the little details I capture of the places we've visited. Picking out the specific ones that I like best, that show my unique creative spirit, my eye for a place has been interesting. This blog has truly become the "Kat Eye View" on the world more than I expected. Thanks for sharing it with me, I'd love to hear your comments!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quiet Night

This photo is one of my favorites from our first trip to Venice. A quiet evening along the canal, the day wrapping up. The boat is parked and the family is all snug inside the house. The light is welcoming, the reflections bring a sense of calm and peace to the evening.

This evening shot appeals to me at the moment, with its inviting warmth. I would love to curl up and go to sleep under a lovely warm comforter with a purring cat, but it's 9:30am and I have a normal day ahead of me. The adjustment back to Italy time has been rough this trip, I think it's more difficult going this direction. Either that or I just don't have as much craziness to keep me going all day long. But, about 12 hours from now, that comforter has my name written all over it...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Complementary Color

This picture has been popping up in my brain a lot to post, so I figure I just need to get it up here! This is from the back streets of Burano, one of the islands that is part of Venice, my favorite island of the ones I've visited. It's all about the color here. The identical houses are all painted different bright colors, so that the fisherman could find their way home from a distance as they were coming in from the sea.

The color is fantastic. I like this photo because of the way the complementary color scheme just brings the eye right to the focal point of the laundry. It's a sneak peek into the back streets and the every day lives of the people who live on this little island. I think they actually color coordinate the laundry they hang out, so that it is visually appealing.

I hope to someday see Burano in the sun. My two visits so far have been on overcast days and I just want to see the difference the sun makes. Someday...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quiet Evening

This photo is from Bergamo alta citta (high city), a beautiful town about 30 minutes away from here. The old part of the city, alta citta, is on a hill and goes back to Roman days. It has its own architecture and personality and it's not very touristy, it's one of my favorite cities in Italy so far. This was a rainy evening we visited with my Mom, sister and cousin when they first arrived. I loved all of the reflections of the window light on the paving stones, and the umbrellas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One Red Scooter

I'm home! This morning (night, depending on your time zone!) I flew through Amsterdam on my way home to Italy, so I decided to post this picture from Amsterdam. This is one of the images I created to decorate our living room. I love the red scooter! A line of scooters parked is sooooo European. Everywhere here, nowhere in the US (at least that I've seen, maybe someone from the big city can enlighten me). I want a scooter now. A red or orange or pink one. But I'll probably just settle for taking pictures of them!

Now that I'm back in Italy I'll get back up to speed on my photo a day. I was just waaaaaay too social in Corvallis! Almost every minute was scheduled between work and shopping and visits with friends. It was a ton of fun! More to come on thoughts about the visit when I'm lucid. Right now I just want to crawl into bed...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rising Sun

It felt too weird to be posting pics of Italy while I'm here in Corvallis, so I decided to post this picture of my most recent painting, Jenny's Rising Sun. I hung out with Jenny here in Corvallis today and was finally able to give it to her, so I could also post it here without spoiling the gift!

My friend Jenny left the company we both worked for earlier this year to start her own business, Rising Sun Coaching, where she coaches people to help them find happy and fulfilling lives. I'm so inspired by her, she is one of the most amazing people I know!

I have had this painting rattling around in my head for a couple of months and finally committed it to canvas when I knew that I would be coming to Corvallis and could actually give it to her. It's interesting, it's the first painting I've ever done for someone else, and the first painting I've given away. I thought I would feel a little bit of loss when I gave it to her but I think I actually feel the opposite. It's like there is a piece of me there with her wherever she decides to put it, hopefully providing positive energy and inspiration.

I'm enjoying my time here in Oregon so far, about ready to head out for dinner with some other friends. I'm fading fast but trying to make it through so that I'm functional for the next week. World travel is fabulous, except for the jet lag. Our bodies are just not made for this!

Friday, December 4, 2009


Last night, when I couldn't sleep, I went back and looked through photos from our first month and a half here. We visited so many places, I took so many pictures in that time period... I'm wondering where we found the energy? We were definitely in the "honeymoon" phase of our move, basking in the new and exciting, eager for something new every free moment. This photo represents the energy of our early time here, from the Giro d'Italia stage we watched in Milan in May. If only my calves looked that good...

I'm traveling to the US tomorrow so my Photo-a-Day may be a little interrupted. I've stocked my memory stick up on photos so I'll continue next week. AND I'll have a new lens waiting for me in Corvallis - can't wait to play with a new toy!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Windows on the World

I love window shots. I especially love window shots here in Italy. Just look at this window. Imagine it without the flowers and plants - it's just a barred window at the back of a building, by a parking lot with all of the electrical boxes. Ugh. But add a couple of window boxes (creatively made of wine boxes, no less!), some draping vines and you have a beautiful little garden scene. Still at the back of the building, still with a parking lot right next to it, but you don't notice that! Window art, for sure.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mom's birthday! Happy Birthday Mom, hope you have a wonderful day! This photo is of me, my mom and sister in Venice, outside the Peggy Guggenheim Museum - I thought it would be appropriate to post today so that you all can see my mom along with 2 of her 3 kids. I love the light I found here! Thanks to Patrick for taking the picture under my direction.

Monday, November 30, 2009


This image says a lot to me. It's all about quiet, time passing in silence, waiting for the next train to come along. I'm feeling contemplative today about time. It's December 1st already! Where did the year go? It seems a lifetime ago that we rung in 2009, and now it's the last month of the year. Just a little reminder that we need to use our time wisely, we don't get it back. Enjoy each moment, even if we are just quietly waiting for the next train.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Colorful and Crisp

It is a grey, cloudy, rainy day this morning and I just needed some thing with bright color to post! So here it is, a nice little fall market shot, from the market in Padua. Doesn't it just make you want to eat a crisp, juicy apple or pear?

Inspirational Light

We've seen a lot of churches here in Italy. Some are giant, some are smaller. Almost always overwhelming, you can't take it in from one angle or without craning your neck up. Most are dark inside. Beautiful stained glass windows catch your eye and it's nice and cool on a hot summer day, but otherwise dim and uninspiring in my opinion. I need the light. Except, for this one day in a church in Verona, where the warm afternoon light was coming in and illuminating the pews. Beckoning the visitor to sit down in the light and ponder the nature of our existence. Or at least, capture the beautiful light and shadows it creates. That's my personal kind of pondering.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Sometimes a photo is about a subject, but other times it's about the light, or color, or shape of something. This one is about lines. I'm finding as I look back through my photos that I like lines, especially diagonal ones. It's also about grape vines, growing on a hillside in Bacharach in the Rhine River Valley. But mostly it's about lines. Alternating light and dark green across the frame. Squint your eyes, what do you see?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Up and up and up

This photo is all about moving lines. I love the swirl of the stairs up the tower. I didn't love climbing them, however! These steps are in the Torre dei Lamberti in Verona, and Laurie and I climbed up the 368 steps to the top of the bell tower. We were rewarded with a fantastic view of Verona, and the need for a rest when all was said and done.

By the way, my haircut came out great! See my new profile photo for the result. One of those "I should have done this a long time ago" things.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We recently had a challenge in my online photo group for "what you are thankful for." I posted this picture of Patrick and Brandon. I'm thankful for my guys. It has been an exciting, wonderful, amazing year... that's also been a stressful, frustrating, tiring year. It's been a big change for us that has resulted in lots of ups and downs. But I can't imagine being here without them, it wouldn't be nearly as fun!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family today! We miss you.

Simple Joys of Childhood

One of the simplest joys of childhood, and maybe in life, is swinging... the breeze on your face, the momentary feeling of weightlessness, the view from the heights. When we see a park while we are travelling, we usually have to stop for some good swing time for Brandon. This was taken in Bacharach, Germany during our trip to the Rhine River Valley in July.

Today is a momentous day for my Italian adventure: I'm finally getting a haircut! After almost 8 months of putting it off, and not being able to get in with my stylist during my December trip to Corvallis for work, I am braving the complicated discussion of hair that is too thick, lengths, layers, styles. It's just gotten to the point of unmanageable, as you've probably seen in random pictures on Patrick's blog.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reflections of Venezia

Venice, and the islands of Murano and Burano, may be one of my all time favorite placees to photograph. There is so much history and texture and reflection in the place. Every where you turn, every change in light, there is a new image to capture. Even with all of the tourists, you can imagine it in its grand heyday. The tacky trinket stands can't cover up the inherent elegance of Venice. I like this image, because it captures a quiet calm and very simply gives you a sense of place.

Color and Texture

Anyone who's looked through my albums knows that I love window shots. This one from Burano, a small island near Venice, is particularly interesting for the color and texture. Such a rich blue. Such a touchable texture. I could look at this all day!

Happy Monday to everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Photo a Day: Coffee as Art

Coffee is a passion in Italy. You can't go more than a block without running into another "bar" that serves caffe (coffee) and a wide variety of brioches (crispy croissants with some sweet filling). Cappucino is served here only in the morning as a breakfast drink, and the designs in the foam are an art form. You don't get a 12oz latte to go here! While I don't like coffee myself, I appreciate the beauty and ritual of it all. This cappucino is one that my sister got on our visit to Padua a couple of weeks ago. You can actually see her reflected in the spoon, how cool is that!

What's this "Photo a Day?"

In my online photo group, some folks try to take a photo a day. It's a wonderful way to see life in the everyday and keeps you in the photographic groove. I'm not up for taking a photo a day necessarily, it seems like "one more thing to do," but I've decided I'm going to try to POST a photo a day here to the blog. OK, I fully admit it might end up to be more like a few photos a week. :) I have taken so many wonderful pictures this year that I haven't edited and shared, that I thought this would be an easy way to share a few. And you'll also hear from me more often!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where is the rain?

Have you ever bought something new to wear, and the weather will just not cooperate? I found some cute rain boots in Venice last weekend. I'm ready for the rain, and can now walk Brandon to school without getting soaking wet. So where did the rain go? I want to wear my cute new boots! I love these!

A self-portrait op presented itself, at the front door of our apartment building. Me and my Italian look, except I should be wearing black boots and not colorful rain boots. That's just me. :)

But maybe when it rains buckets for a few days I'll see more of the Italian rain boot fashion out and about. There are quite few rain boot choices for women here. Much better than in Oregon, where you would think you could find cute rain boots...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Family Visit!

Yesterday my mom, sister Laurie and cousin Heather arrived from the US for a week long visit. They arrived at our house midday, and after they had showered and rested a bit we went to Bergamo for a few hours, to walk around and keep them awake. We came home for a nice dinner of Minestrone soup Patrick had made and drank a couple of bottles of wine while we talked and got caught up.

Today everyone slept in and we finally headed out of the house into Milan in the afternoon. We had at 3:45 reservation to view Leonardo da Vinci's painting, The Last Supper, so we ate some lunch and then headed there. On the way back home we visited the duomo and then rode the Metro home. There is a whole story around a run-in with the officials on the Metro - I'll let Patrick tell on his blog, since he has the pictures, so be sure to head over there to catch that little escapade. :)

We are having fun! It's nice to have visitors here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Decorating is Done

So Saturday I woke up with a bee in my bonnet to finish decorating our apartment. This included the kitchen pics in my last blog post, but a few other lingering projects that I wanted to get done. My mom and sister's upcoming visit was a motivating factor, but also hitting the 6 month mark this week made me realize if I don't get it done NOW, we won't be able to enjoy it for the rest of our time here.

So, a trip (or two) to IKEA later, here is what we did...

We filled in the space between the living room and entry door with this shelf unit, some mirror frames and a vase. It was a big, blank white space before.

We had purchased the coat rack and "shoe bench" a while ago of necessity, we just needed a place to hang our jackets and put on our shoes. The "bench" is actually a shelf unit that can go horizontal or vertical, it works perfect for this wall. I finished the wall off with three photos I've taken on our travels here. They are all converted to black and white with a "touch of red" in them to match the theme.
And here's a wider angle view of that area:
On the wall between Brandon's bedroom door and our bedroom/bathroom entry, we have a small table that we use to put our keys on. We added a fourth photo to match the three above the shoe bench, and a red vase to tie it together. Everything except the vase/flower and the plant actually came with us from the US. I've had these frames forever - they just keep working!
Here's the view of the living room shelving units, which are also full of books, TV and some decorative touches. We are really happy with it! It made it feel even more like home and now we can enjoy it for our next year and a half here. Come visit and see it in person!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kitchen Composition

My latest painting project has been a decorating one. Today I just finished painting the 5th of my "Kitchen Composition" paintings, to go above our kitchen table. These paintings are all 20x20cm on stretched canvas, my first experience with that. They are simple compositions, I painted directly from life without drawing, playing around with that some more.

I like how it turned out overall. Right now I'm all about bright colors and I love the orange and green we have decorated our kitchen with. I wanted to bring interest to the wall above the kitchen table, it's such a big white wall!

This is a close up of my favorite painting of the series, the oranges.

If you want to see the paintings each on their own you can view them in my painting album. I think I'll do some more of these small canvases, they are quick and fun!