Tag Archives: italy

big, bigger, biggest

i’m pretty much a city girl and a scaredy cat so the combination means i have had major anxiety attacks all through south dakota, wyoming and montana.  jeez, there’s so much open space.  on the other hand, some of the folks i’m meeting i wouldn’t trust taking to times square without a significant dose of ativan—for them.

everything in south dakota is bigger, including the pets.  this dinosaur on a leash is outside 1880 town in jackson county south dakota!

everything in south dakota is bigger, including the pets. this dinosaur on a leash is outside 1880 town in jackson county!


a few years ago my italian friend federico cenci was writing a book about my grandfather and i invited him to stay in my home in winnetka, illinois.  he stayed for a month and we traveled to the university of illinois rare books and manuscripts library for extra material. mostly, he worked in the guest room. one afternoon he asked if we could take a day trip somewhere to see the sights.


big shout out to winnetka, illinois which was my home for close to a quarter century!

big shout out to winnetka, illinois which was my home for close to a quarter century!


“where would you like to go?”  I asked federico.

“mount rushmore,” he replied.  “i’d like to see the presidents.”

“uh, you understand mount rushmore is like a three or four day road trip?”

actually, mount rushmore is a fourteen hour and twenty six minutes 930 miles road trip if traffic is perfect, you’re wearing depends, no doz is delivered through an i.v., and you trick out the back of the car with an endless tank of gas.

federico was crestfallen.

“i’m sorry,”  i said.  “name somewhere else you’d like to see.”

“niagra falls,”  he said, brightening considerably.

niagra falls is wonderful but it’s still a good nine hours and eighteen minutes under the same conditions described.

in a rough justice compromise, we drove to chester, illinois to visit the birthplace of popeye comics creator e c seger.

federico hosted a website devoted to e c seger's beloved popeye.  in chester, we took pictures of the popeye statues.

federico hosted a website devoted to e c seger’s beloved popeye. in chester, we took pictures of the popeye statues.


federico returned to rome and finished his book.  on any given day, he can drive from rome to milan (5 hours, 13 minutes), make arrangements for brunch in pisa (3 hours 36 minutes), or spend a weekend in naples (2 hours 11 minutes).   his idea of how large the united states is/was a bit skewed.  oddly, i have the same problem.  i just had no idea how many miles get tucked up under my tires.


so this morning i pulled into the parking lot of the mount rushmore national park outside keystone, south dakota.  the usual tour buses of japanese tourists and refugees from aarp.   families with kids who are more interested in the concessions stand.  a lady berating the staff because she wanted to climb either lincoln, washington, teddy or tommy.  the teenagers taking selfies.  i sat down on a bench and took it all in.  and thought to myself…..i gotta tell federico that i made it.

but of course, i have verizon phone service so i couldn’t.




at least i have a facebook job! and facebook friends #318 and 319

i have been packing up a quarter century of my life, my ex-husband’s life, my two stepchildren’s lives, my own children’s lives.  it’s sometimes surprising to come across a book, a drawing, a sportsmanship award for which kid and what sport?  i have cried looking at little blobs of clay  that were once handed to me with great pride and  an “i made this for you, mommy!”  but i don’t have to worry about the next phase of my life, because at least i have my job.

well, i have a job on facebook!

i am friends with f2fb friend #318 arthur frank, the father of the delightful gal in the video.  he owns round table books and he was just as surprised to discover that i am now listed as being employed at his establishment.  oddly, he has not offered me a salary.  or a corner office.  on the other hand, i haven’t offered to show up and do actual, like, work.  one of the very odd things about being fifty one is that a lot of employment skills are difficult to implement or to prove to a potential employer without some major practice.  for instance, if i were set loose behind a starbucks espresso machine, i’m sure the company’s share price would drop as precipitously as facebook’s share price.

don’t cry for me, mark zuckerberg! mr. z. has been having some problems of his own even while he’s honeymooning in italy! because of the facebook share price plunge, his net worth has gone from an estimated $20 billion to a paltry $14 billion AND he’s been dropped from forbes magazine’s top forty wealthiest folks list!


still, he has even more of a problem–mr. z. set off an italian controversy worthy of a tempermento tantrum enorme!  he doesn’t tip.  no, not at all.  not a a euro at the coffee shop.  not a euro at the cozy sidewalk cafe.  not a euro at the little corner romantic pasta joint.  i went around the world to meet my facebook friends last year and i tipped everywhere.  i gotta ask . . .

arthur might not want to employ me, but he is the owner of a business that will help me.  help me with disposing of the many books i have acquired over the last twenty five years.  round table books takes books on consignment, sells them, and if it can’t sell them, it donates the books to charity.  go visit their website–maybe they can help you find a book you’re looking for or take care of a book you need to find a new home for!  www.roundtablebooks.com right now they have a lot of arlynn presser and vivian leiber books–i wrote under the name vivian leiber for many years.

but arthur’s not doing this alone.  he is employing my f2fb friend #319 eric c. carley who reminded me that there is a very honorable means for a femme seul to live in winnetka–for free!

erin, who i guess qualifies as my co-worker at round table books, will come to my house to take away all the books of so many years. she house sits for people in winnetka and that means she gets to live for free in some of the finest homes–if you want to housesit in your town, go to your local realtor and ask if there are homes that have been temporarily emptied of their owners. you might find yourself in a beautiful mansion!

so next time you look at my facebook page, you’ll notice that i’m employed at round table books.  i wonder if mark zuckerberg would like to give me a job. . . at least on facebook!