Don’t Get Tense Over Tenses

There is only today and tomorrow. The past is past. So why are we hung up on the tenseness that tense brings? Before I dwell on “before”, shall we dance with “Now” and “Domani”?

Right now, in the moment, do something nice for yourself or others. A positive “Tweet”? 20 squats? Even a piece of cake can be a piece of cake. Kiss the cat. Rub the pooch. Take a stroll. Smile and say hi to nobody special and anyone you see, Mon’ Amie e Ma Cherie.

OK, that takes care of “Today”. “Tomorrow” brings a chance to visit, call, plan, execute, explore, and engage, with the understanding that your “Future”activities will be inspiring, positive, compassionate, or, at least, FUN!

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The “Past” tense has one simple mantra. “What do we learn? How do we grow?”

I developed my “upside down” spoon stirring technique in Colle Oppio, over looking the Colosseum. This unconventional approach digs out the succhero and makes caffe sipping truly “sweet”. From this I grasped how one needs to alter perspective, change focus, or just try new things.

Now, here in Las Vegas, I plan and plot EduTainment programming for my herd of COW’s (Citizens of the World). Finishing this post and crafting a few proposals are the immediate tasks at hand. Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps to a horizon of goals, objectives, dreams, and an occasional nap.

Yet, I recall what I learned in my Roman recent past. And I relish the growth spurts (beyond the pasta waistline).

For me there is no need to be tense tense. A productive “Present” and an exciting “Future” appears to be on my life menu. And I “Grazie O Deo” for the Italiano Ieri that has helped me embrace La Dolce Vita while negotiating Sin City.

Buon Caffe e Cin Cin, Ya’ll.

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Leather Vineyard Firenze

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They hang like grapes from the vines: Outdoor acres (or hectares) of purses, belts, coats, and attaché cases around every corner. Escaping the bazaar only “plants” you in alleys dotted with the same “fruit”.

Firenze (Florence to those outside the box) prides itself as a Leather Capitol and for good reason: Quality, quantity, price, and selection. The cradle of the Renaissance is a favoloso-fantastico flea market as well.

This Tuscan vortex of art and beauty begs to be strolled. The proximity of the Duomo to Ponte Vecchio to Pitti Palace to Piazza Signorelli to Santa Croce to Accademia makes walking the efficient if not only, way to get around. And as you stumble around the herd of tourists and 17,459 American College Students “studying” abroad, you realize how cabs and cars are impossible and bikes or scooters would fail to negotiate the mob packed alleyways. So you mosey along, admiring the sights, sounds, and scents, especially of the “fruit”.

Nothing like the aroma of leather!

There is a charm to this anti-antiseptic shopping mall alternative. No air-conditioning, restrooms, public seating areas, or security centers: Just row after row, streets after street, and piazza after piazza of stuff ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Like wine, there is grand vintage and rotgut. Steals and deals abound. You can purchase a handcrafted masterpiece worthy of Botticelli or buy a nasty naked David magnet for your fridge. You’ll survey the satchels while someone picks your pocket or snap up that new wallet, even though your old one has a few miles left on it.

After the pulsing armpit of outdoor commerce, you flop at an outdoor café or collapse in a trattoria to “heal” yourself with pasta cinghiale (wild boar), cheese, caprese, mixed greens, and/or gelato Florentino.

But, after the pilgrimage through the Leather Vineyards, make sure you sample the real grape deal.

Chianti anyone?

Piazza in the Levant

Batroun deserves a shout out as one big seaside piazza.

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Unease is a way of life in the Middle East these days. You would think the people are tired of it. But, “My God is better than Your God” still echoes in the backward barbarity practiced throughout the region. Yet, they don’t seem to be reading that memo here in Batroun.

Landing in Beirut and then crawling northward through rush hour traffic, I was intrigued, enthralled and mournful. To my left was the sea. No, The SEA! What makes Phoenicia and Phoenicians is their proud, elegant, and glorious history/love affair with the Mediterranean. A sun-gobbling horizon of color looking west can only affirm this. Somewhere deep in my DNA, a sense of saltwater and cedar grips me. The trees of the north will have to wait for another day, lest I lose my head literally amid the chaos that is ever so close, but seems so far away.

I glance right to be reminded of this. Bullet holes and bombed-out buildings dot the perimeter of the highway, sentinels of prime real estate that became “casas of carnage” not very long ago. Potential pulses as renovation, reconstruction, and commerce-hawking signage peer prominently from the panorama. Location, location, location. We are on the sea with a great view, in a major city, close to the airport, and at the mouth of “East meets West”. They have been trading and peddling for millennia, these people. So, one has to bet that making the deal will trump making war, thus, making peace.

We pass a military checkpoint complete with barricades, uniforms, and armed Lebanese military. Doesn’t faze me in the slightest. I think how similar it looks to the American Embassy in Rome main entrance or, for that matter, the checkpoints around the Capitol in DC. A wave, a yawn, a smile, and on we go.

Batroun welcomes me with quiet charm and spectacular weather. I sit by myself at a huge pool and it is nearing November. I have a monstrous restaurant dining room exclusively to myself and sample the famous fare from my childhood, paying almost nothing for it.

Beirut was dubbed “The Paris of the Middle East” back in the day. As I gaze, glance, and gawk around Batroun, I can see how a Monte Carlo-Vegas-Wall Street-Time Square-PGA-Club Med kind of explosion (no pun intended) could, should, and probably would happen here.

Sounds like a tall order? Hey, these are the Phoenicians. Remember to thank them for your Alphabet and Arabic Numbers. Bet on them getting it done. Also wager on their international partners seeing the chance for peace, profit, and people-friendly projects. They are returning in droves to this vortex of hustle and accomplishment because, politics be damned, this place and its populace have an indestructible denominator that combines beauty and business.

Wanna bet? I lay you VIII to V that Lebanon will be in full bloom again and soon. The Cedar seeds are here in Batroun.