Did we see you at the casino?

CHURCHILL DOWNS, LOUISVILLE, KY – Sandro is our Sardinian Italian Language instructor from the Language Exchange in Portland.

We do private lessons with him once a week when whenever we can. It gets technical. And specific. And then it spins out into wide ranging and freewheeling conversations. We were talking about our trip to the Kentucky Derby and that led to betting. And want to guess what the Italian word for Casino is? That’s right: casinò!. Emphasis on the end.

Depending on the circles you travel with, usually you will hear the word without the ending emphasis. And that’s just a mess. Because without the accent it means “mess.” Well, technically it means “bordello” but somehow “che casino!” or “what a bordello!” has evolved to “what a mess!” Hey, wait a minute, Bordello looks like an Italian word too. See how much we owe Italians?

stewvaleriemidgeThe photo is us with the indomitable Valerie Harper between races.

See you in Italy!

we’ll try not to make too much of a casino.
Full breakdown of the race weekend and videos and glimpses at true party ethic in action


Spring in the air. We will be soon.

wisteria panicale umbria italy springtimeLook out Umbria. Here we come. Packing today. Puts Spring in our step just thinking about it. Our friend Dily has been sending us pictures of our house there in Panicale in flower and that just reels us in.

First a couple lovely days with Daughter Wiley of London and then Rome. Then HOME. Panicale. Other hits on our list are Trieste, Lago di Como and more and more Panicale. We are celebrating a big anniversary and we are celebrating it with our Testimone (best man) Harry. I was his best man shortly after he was ours. And miracle of miracle we are all still married. And to the same people! And all still best friends. They’ve been to Panicale as much as we have and it should be a joy. Watch this space.

See you in Italy!

Stew Vreeland



teacupsDAY 36 DATELINE SOME WHERE At Sea En Route to Hong Kong – Shireen’s suit case and I’ll both miss afternoon tea on the QM2. And being called madam day and night.

Note from Stew: Oh, no. the trip is winding down. Some how i thought there was another wing to this trip but Kiki says the QM2 is going on without her to Australia. She and Uncle Diarmuid are getting tossed ashore in Hong Kong and winging their way to San Francisco and then back to New England. They left it going to the right, they are returning from the left. Around the world indeed. What fun.




DAY 31 DATELINE PATTAYA, THAILAND – Soldiers came here for R&R during Vietnam. Time hasn’t treated it well. It’s like OOB with Thai massage.

Nice icy coconut juice from the guy in the tiger shirt, though. And the woman selling brushes and brooms definitely wins the award for most stuff on a motor scooter. Everything you see is on her bike, except the cars.

I figured the guy with the ‘do was as close as I was going to get to the roof line of a Siamese temple.


LATER, THAT SAME DAY, AT SEA EN ROUTE TO BANGKOK – The Brits disembarked in Singapore and the Chinese boarded. February 10 is Lunar New Year, a huge holiday for them – and for Diarmuid. He turned 85 today. HAPPY YEAR OF THE SNAKE, DIARMUID! What a wonderful guy he is. I’m lucky in uncles.

Diarmuid and I joined all the Chinese having their picture taken with the plump god of prosperity. Very auspicious.

It took me 8 minutes of ‘extortionate’ wireless time to download and read this New York Times article “Seven days on the Queen Mary 2.” Totally worth it. And accurate. Tho I haven’t experienced the ‘anything’ bit. Kiki