Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Too extraordinary

We've come to a place neither of us had ever heard of before, and have used up every expletive and adjective we jointly know as we move from one stunning sight to the next - we're in a huge, amazing jumble-drawer of histories. It is so extraordinary that I won't even say where I am until I can also post photos; I don't want anyone to Google it and spoil my later offerings.

Today, DB and I were out into the early morning light; we were out with tripod at twilight last night, after which we had a late dinner. There are very few tourists here and very little English spoken, though it is a fairly large city for this area.

Before we left our trullo in Alberobello yesterday, I rode a pink mountain bike up and down our dirt road for DB to photograph in the early morning light, and we did this two mornings in a row! (We keep this up, we'll have to change our sleep pattern and take siestas in the heat of midday like the smart locals do.) The first morning I wore a red bandana and red t-shirt, the next I wore a helmet. (And the usual other clothes, too!) When we're both rich and famous thanks to this photo you can say you knew me when.

We will be staying in this too extraordinary place for at least another day. Really, walking around it, especially having it almost to ourselves, is to almost be in a biblical time and as awesome as Manchu Pichu or Mont St. Michel - like, and unlike, either. Indescribable.

Monday, May 28, 2007


It is Monday and I am in the heel of the boot of Italy, living in a trullo outside of Alberobello (Google 'em) where we will stay until at least Wednesday.

It is no longer dark where we are; all walls are white.

Written yesterday: The wind is whistling around our trullo and it is cool inside the thick walls. There are cherry and olive trees and strawberries growing outside. Our neighbors in the larger trullo nearby have two young children and a happy dog. They are from Vienna.

Our water is collected in a large underground cistern and we're cautious about using it to wash vegetables and lettuce - or even leaving it on our dishes, but I think it isn't too microbial since after unavoidable exposures we're both fine this morning (and two days later, too).

We're cooking our meals on a propane stove - simple pastas and fresh green beans and zucchini. The local red wine is surprisingly good, and very inexpensive.

Yesterday, on the way here from Fermo (another good story of a turtle at our "Bates Motel"), it finally began to rain - and it came down in torrents just as we were crossing a small city where the lanes were flooded. The temperature dropped from 31C to 18C - a welcome relief, perking us up considerably.

Sunday, while not cold, was again stormy. We may spend a week here, in spite of a "difficult" shower. After doing laundry and laying around most of the day, DB drove us around meandering backroads between here and Locorotundo and Martina Franca, often on one lane stonewall-lined passages, sometimes ending in deadends, but, fortunately, still negotiable and we always managed to keep going.

The gale-force wind didn't let up until late evening. And today, Monday, it has rained in buckets while here writing this - our towels, left outside to dry, will be soaked.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Italy, too hot

I'm south of Venice in a seaside resort town, Chioggia/Sottomarina, where it is still very hot, though it cools off at night. We have zig-zagged our way around northwestern Italy, staying in the Po Valley, working the smaller cities like Verona, Padua, Cremona, Ferrara and Bologna.

It's been interesting to travel with someone who is actually working. I don't have to make decisions about where to go, what to see. I don't have to go into tourist attractions or museums - and my feet don't hurt, my back doesn't hurt - next to riding a bike, this is the way to do it as far as I'm concerned. Venice? Florence? Rome? No, not this trip. Those photos have been DONE, the tourists and heat would make it impossibly difficult for zero payoff, photo-wise, and I'm so glad not to have to try.

The cities have been darker than I expected - umbers and burnt siennas predominate. Bologna, with its colonnades, was the most city-like so far, but everywhere we've been the people are kind to each other. Very nice feeling. Last night, Milan won a major football game and the local yahoos were honking their horns until after midnight, so we sat on our balcony watching the moon and stars, waiting for them to finish celebrating.

A few days ago we spent a day in Ferrara, where our hotel gave us the use of bicycles. It was wonderful! Not having the hassle of our own bikes has been good, but, Oh, how we miss riding. There's nothing so fine as the breeze one creates while pedaling slowly along on a hot day, especially where there are no hills to climb.

But, I left my white blouse on the white sheets in Ferrara and didn't discover it missing until two days later in Bologna - we called Ferrara, Yes, they found it - and DB said, no problem, he wanted to go back to the seaside out of the heat and we would pick it up on the way - and we did.

Every few hours there is a new plan about where we will head next. Yesterday afternoon we were going to go into the Alps and today,s plan, we will go south to the boot of Italy, the Apulia. Today is a rest day, which is why I'm babbling on the computer. As I write, there are two men standing on my counter attempting to tape up some wires. Every once in a while one steps on me, but only a little bit and, so far, no damage done.

The "electricians" want to move me so will quit babbling for now...

Monday, May 14, 2007

..no bikes

Yesterday we spent hours taking down and packing our two bikes and trying every conceivable configuration to get them into the covered trunk of DB's VW Touran (especially in Italy, absolutely nothing can be visible in a parked vehicle) - we could take our bikes, or we could take our clothes and cameras, but not both. So, no bikes on this road trip. If we end up somewhere for a few days we can find rentals; no big deal.

Not sure where I'll be by tonight, but I probably won't be posting for awhile, and no more photos until I either get back to Paris with too much time on my hands here at DB's, or back in SF. Having my bike to ride around Paris is worth having brought it. I do love riding around Paris, going by many amazing places, "not really experiencing them." (Being a regular tourist, dragging oneself through museum after cathedral after museum after cathedral, is just too hard!)

This road trip will be for scouting money-making photo opportunities for DB, and the work of taking them in just the right light, but just plain fun for me. My photos are almost always catch as catch can, learning the patience to wait for the right moment will be good.

...it's time for lunch and then we're finally leaving Dodge.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sacre Coeur

Another touristy shot

Hanging out in Paris

It's Sunday and we woke up to rain, but the sun is shining off and on now.

An old friend of DB's, Annie, was here for lunch yesterday and while they chatted, in French, I watched their faces, seeing them as sketches, working the fluid changes between faces and hands and backgrounds, wondering why I didn't go get a sketchpad and put what I was seeing onto paper. And I saw other possibilities, using my camera, but they both would have been too intrusive.

I thought how being with people speaking another language was like how it was when you were a little kid, stuck in the room while the grownups talked - every once in awhile you'd recognize a word you knew, feel good for a minute, then go back to whatever distraction you could find, not minding not knowing, just happy if they were happy, anxious and scared if they weren't. My friends were talking about the French election, the sudden precipitous decline of the stock photo business - not especially happy stuff - but since I couldn't know that then it didn't bother me. They were happy talking together, no matter the subject.

Late in the day I decided to ride out and see what I would see with my camera. I ended up at so many cliched spots - one would have to work hard not to find yet another overdone touristy-spot to photograph here - but I think I saw some of the usual things in my own way. (Again, I found lots of balls to add to my collection.) We can't leave Paris until tomorrow so maybe I'll try to download them onto this laptop, see if I can't post some on this blog.

. . .later. I managed to put one new photo on this page...not sure how to move it around so will quit while I'm ahead.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Paris thievery

While running around town on errands today my water bottle was stolen from my bike, and we caught the thief trying to take my saddlebag. I sort of knew I shouldn't leave anything - and I was right. From now on I'll carry stuff on me or inside a removable pannier.

David is still clearing up French tax papers before we can leave town and that is the only reason I'm fooling around with this. My draft photo seems to have disappeared from 5/10 - I wonder how this blog-thing really works. I went back and posted it using the URL from pbase.com, but that, too, seems to leave a little question mark where a photo should be. But, if you click it you will go to a photo (but they're old pix). Oh well.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Riding like a crazy woman

Thursday. Didn't get up until late, wrote the earller entry and then took off by myself just to ride and ride and ride around this city. I went north and then west, ending up at Montmartre - the only real climbing you can do in this nearly flat city.

I still have a 50 euro note and loose change from when Judy and I were here in September. I got back after riding at 18:30, still with a 50 euro note and some loose change. I had road fever. Stopped to take some pix (none of real interest to me, but one must take them, anyway), finally locking the bike up once, but only because the guards wouldn't have let me take it in with me.

I think it finally got warm, in the 70s, though still comfortable in jeans and turtleneck.

Three days on

I posted this photo while still in San Francisco on 5/3, but here in Paris it's now 5/10 (I think) - it's for sure Thursday and I left SF on Monday. I'm having a cup of coffee, hoping it will pull me out of my jet-lagged fog. It has been mostly overcast, though not raining. I, of course, only brought clothes for hot weather so I'm wearing one pair of jeans all the time.

The sleeping thing surely will happen tonight. Yesterday in the post office I think I went to sleep standing up - mid-afternoon here is the middle of the night there. btw, everything on blogspot is in French. Somehow, I didn't expect that.

The Bike Friday got out the day I arrived, we rode over to the canal barges, looking for Savoir Faire. Today, though, I plan to pedal around town, even in the rain. Hmmm, pedalling in my sleep?

Now I will click on Publier, assuming that means Publish. . .

Monday, May 07, 2007

Airport blues

I'm an few hours away from getting through airports, here, and then Paris. There are worse things. Right now I'm anxious that they'll have lost my reservation and won't let me on this flight. I always worry about this. Once they take my baggage I'm home free.

Time to shut this computer down.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Here I be

This is a test - I'm showing Jill how to post draft messages to this blog so my worldwide fans won't quit watching this spot...

...kidding. Sort of.

Well, O.K., I am addicted to blogging.

It's highly likely that I'll forget all about it once I'm on the road. Hard to say. But I am posting old photos I took in France, saving them as drafts, and then if I want to write about my trip and broadcast it here, it'll be set to go. All I'll have to do is suffer the EU keyboard to add to it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I had a grandmother

When my father was five and his brother three their pregnant mother succumbed to the flu.

My father remembered being kept from her and then watching as her body was carted away by horsecart from the isolated log cabin where she died. I picture it a very dark and wooded place.

She had auburn hair and, as you can see, freckles. Her husband, my grandfather, owned the creamery in - I guess the village where they lived - Cottontown, Tennessee.

For many years I only had this formal portrait of my grandmother and father, taken when he was an infant, and then, just this week, the son of my father's brother, my only Link cousin, Alan, sent me this photo. I had never seen it before.

And for the first time I really missed knowing this grandmother.

I don't even know her name.

Am I imagining it or can you see in his eyes that my father would lead a very troubled life?

(Click to enlarge photos)