Sunday, July 3, 2011


Okay peeps I know it's been a long time and I have no excuse other than that I am just that lazy at writing.

As most of you know I am currently in Rome and will be here until the end of August.  You may think that I spend all of my time here sightseeing but that is in fact not true.  I spend only my Sundays sightseeing and that's only if I'm not too lazy to go out.

As it so happened I was not too lazy to go out today and I was well rewarded for my efforts to get up out of bed at the early hour of 8:30 am.  My plan for today was to go to the American Catholic Church here in Rome called Santa Susanna for 10:30 am Mass. This church happens to be very near the Piazza della Reppublica.  Below is a picture of me at this Piazza. It was, however, not taken today but approximately 2 or 3 weeks ago:

Anyway I attended Mass there and then proceeded to go to view one of my favorite Bernini sculptures called the Ecstasy of St. Theresa which is across the street from Santa Susanna in a church I don't know the name of.

After this I wandered into another church I don't know the name of.  I instantly liked this church because it was well lit and mostly by natural light streaming in through the windows in the circular rotunda above.

After this I went over to one of the Tourist Information kiosks that can be found throughout the city to ask where I could find one of my favorite paintings by Caravaggio The Conversion of Saul.  I was informed of it's location and I headed on my lunch. 

Where did I go? Was it to a fantastic little restaurant where the most delicious Italian food could be found?...No, I went to Subway.  What? In my defense I haven't had a sandwich since my trip to Singapore in December and an added bonus to eating at Subway was that it cost me only 6 Euros for a full meal which is a pretty damn good deal considering how expensive a meal like that can be in this city.

Anyway, after my lunch I headed out in search of The Conversion of Saul.  I got on the Metro, which is the underground subway system and started my journey to the Church which was not very far at all.  As I was standing in the subway car paying attention to the stop, I suddenly felt something like fur or hair graze against my elbow.  I looked down and saw this cute little five year old girl.  She suddenly looked up and gave me the biggest grin.  She smiled for what seemed like a long time and I wondered "Why is she still smiliing?" when it dawned on me that she was waiting for a smile back.  It hadn't even occurred to me to do that.  When it hit me, however, I grinned back and that's when she looked away as to say "That's all I was waiting for."  Anyway it was definitely a highlight of my day.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of her but, unfortunately, it all happened too fast.

Anyway back to the Caravaggio painting.  I was told that it was in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo

which is in the Piazza del Popolo.

So I headed there, only to find that the front of the church was closed.  I thought it might be open somewhere in the back and I headed up some stairs that I thought might take me to the back of the church but actually did not.  Instead they led me to the magnificent Villa Borghese which is a huge park in Rome.  My disappointment at finding the church closed was quickly changed to joy when I realized I was in the park.  I was just in the right mood to take a walk which is what I did.  Today being Sunday the park was full of locals and tourists alike, happily intermingling.  It seemed like a fantastic day to be in the park.  I wandered over to a bench near a small man-made lake and just read and people watched for an hour or so.

The day was perfect.  It was not too hot or too cool.  Families were out in force enjoying themselves.  It was really kind of cool because everyone seemed to be either peacefully relaxing on the green or happily walking or biking with their families down the paths.  I have never seen so many children here in Italy at one time and the most extraordinary thing was that I did not hear a child cry the entire time I was in the park.  I also did not see anyone at all angry with anyone else.  It was as if everyone agreed that Sunday would truly be a day of rest.  Rest from not only work but also from anger or worry.  It was really a treat to be in that park because it kept me in a happy mood throughtout the day.

Later in the day when I left the park and on my way home I was happy to find out that Santa Maria del Popolo  would in fact open today and all I had to do was wait 20 or so minutes. After the doors opened I walked inside and immediately started my search for Caravaggio's painting after, of course, acknowledging the presence of Christ on the altar.  I paid little attention to anything else in the beautiful church which I failed to get a picture of in my determination to find the painting.  I searched the left side of the church and then the right side and then the front but found nothing.  I wondered if maybe the lady at the tourist office had given me the name of the wrong church when I felt compelled to sit on a pew on the left side of the church asking God to open my eyes to see the painting if it was in fact there and you know what happened?  Of course you know what happened.  I saw the painting from the corner of my eye.  It was actually on the side wall of one of the interior chapels.  Difficult to see if you don't know it's there and also difficult to see if that chapel happens to be in the dark which it was when I walked in.  Anyway not only did I find Caravaggio's Conversion of Saul but also his Crucifixion of St. Peter. I stood staring at both of these paintings (one at a time because they're on opposite walls of the chapel) for a long time.  I was so happy to see what I had long ago studied in my Art History class in college.  It was amazing.  I felt so happy when I left.

My day had ended on definitely a good note.  I didn't even mind almost missing my bus on my way home.  (God was kind to me, however, and I managed to make it.)  I'm sorry that I could not post any photos of the paintings but as many of you may know some places do not welcome photos of famous paintings.

Today was truly a blessing and I am so grateful for it as not every day in Rome is as it was today.

Anyway I'm thinking of going back there again before I leave Italy.  Not just to the church but to the Villa Borghese since today turned out to be such a great day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Animals and other difficulties

Okay I'm gonna make this quick.  I already ranted about this on Facebook but I feel I must do it here also.

The animals in Indonesia are driving me crazy!  I almost stepped on a poisonous green snake last week as I walked to my house at night.  I raised my foot to take another step and I caught sight of the snake just in time, just before I put my foot down.  It was ready for me, it raised its horrible lime green head ready to lunge at me but I was too quick.  I screamed, and turned and ran.  I called one of the convent workers to kill the snake but, unfortunately, the snake had already ran or slithered away and was unable to be exterminated.

Oh there's another mouse in my pantry!  I'm sick of mice!  They're so disgusting!  but they come in the poorly built house which has holes in the wall where the sink pipes go through.  The most recent mouse found a home in a portable kind of oven I have in the house.  I was gonna use the oven to make cookies but now that's a no-go. Gross.

There are pigs that constantly come into my yard and I suspect knocked down part of my poorly constructed fence that fenced plants which are now being eaten quite freely by the pigs.

There was a gigantic spider in my bathroom a couple of weeks ago.  It carried a huge egg sack.  I tried to spray the spider and in the process she dropped her sack.  As soon as she dropped the sack it started spilling out hundreds of baby spiders which I quickly exterminated.

There are cats that poop on my patio.  There are stray dogs that sleep on my patio.  There are roosters that crow all the time and chickens that are constantly digging and searching for food in my yard.

There are tiny ants in my house that eat anything and everything that is not put in a plastic container with a tight lid.  There are medium sized black ants that are all around the outside of my house and somehow I always manage to find some of these ants crawling all over me.  How they get on me, I don't know. Oh there are also huge red ants that have a mean bite on the second story of my house.

The animal situation stresses me out and it wouldn't so much if there was some way I could just keep them all from coming inside my house.  Oh well.  It's a difficulty to offer up to God and it adds character.  How?  I don't know.