Postcards From An Italian Adventure: Another Great Weekend Has Ended

Author: , August 30th, 2010

Postcards From An Italian Adventure:

Gay Friendly Tuscany Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24th

I am sitting on the deck of my room in Viareggio….oh, excuse me! Orson’s room, that he has graciously shared with me when I visit. I am looking out at the beautiful Tyrrhenian sea, across the umbrellas, thinking how blessed I have been, to have such good friends as Massimo and Magda Carli.

I would never have met the interesting people that are their friends, nor had the opportunity to relax on the beach with them, and their family. I have enjoyed these trips to Viareggio immensely.

Friday, I arrived by train. I had a ticket for the opera, “Turandot”, at the Puccini Festival in Torre de Lago, on the outskirts of Viareggio proper. I was able to get a shuttle bus out to the theater and back. The theater is outdoors, a beautiful setting. There was a full moon that night, and it floated over the stage as if it were part of the theater props. Wonderful!

On Saturday, the Carli’s had another one of their great dinner parties. Lia came with her granddaughter, Anna, who is 6 years old (we had gone to Anna’s birthday party about a month ago).

Lele, the Renaissance man, was here with his dog, Pippo, who played with Orson. Dina was here, from her home on Lake Como, and a young couple, Michele and Laura, then Massimo, Magda and I rounded out the party.

We started with aperitivi, then Massimo made a delicious pasta with fresh mussels, followed by poached salmon on a bed of rucola, and a big salad. Of course, there was abundant wine with all the food.

During the pasta course, I received instruction from everyone at the table, on how to properly twirl spaghetti on my fork. I think I now gave the hang of it, although I liked Anna’s approach of slurping up the noodles.

I have been trying to speak more Italiano with Massimo and Magda, but I am slow, and not very good at it, but Massimo insisted, Italiano only for that evening.

Well, after a couple of glasses of Prosecco, my Italiano improved enormously. No one made fun of me, anyway. This was fine, until the emergency.. I heard a banging and knocking and a little voice calling for help. Anna had gone into the bathroom, locked the door with the key, then she could not open the door again. Finally, with much coaxing, by standing on the deck off this bedroom, and leaning forward, Magda persuaded Anna to remove the key from the door, and hand it to Magda through the open bathroom window. Since we are on the third floor, I had visions of someone needing to do a James Bond maneuver, and climb through the window….I knew it would not be me! But Anna listened to Magda and handed the key out the window to Magda. Anna was rescued, all was well and the dinner continued.

Finally, we had the cheese and fruit course, followed by gelato and grappa. One of my “ducklings”, Christine, had left behind a bottle of schiaccatra grappa, which I had given to Massimo. He brought it out at the end of this meal. The picture with me and Lele shows me getting a hug from him, in appreciation for the grappa only, don’t get any wrong ideas here. Everyone had to try it… it is way too strong for me, but those Italians loved it. By the time we finished the evening, we had been at the table for over three hours! Another wonderful evening.

Last night, the Carli’s and I went to the Puccini Festival together, having aperitivi with their good friends, Carla, Mario and Leila before the performance. I have been surrounded by excellent cooks, as well as the most interesting people, thanks to the Carli’s. Then on to the opera, where we saw “Madama Butterfly”. It was not the best performance of that opera, but entertaining.

Now we are going to drive back to Florence together, when Magda and Massimo tie up some loose ends at their office, and I am just sitting here, looking at the sea, and being lazy, again.

Tomorrow, my young friend, Amanda, and I will go by train to Monterosso on the Cinque Terre for a two- night stay. There we will swim in the Ligurian Sea. Same sea, just further northwest. We will rent beach chairs and an umbrella, and have a good time. Amanda has not been to Cinque Terre yet, so I am looking forward to taking her there. Another adventure awaits.

So i will say, “Ciao for now”, and you will hear from me again, after the excursion to Monterosso.

Keep in touch and let me know your thoughts about the blog postings.

Ciao for now…


Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

A Gay Student’s Semester in Barcelona

Author: , August 29th, 2010

Stephen White, a junior at Northeastern University, recently wrapped up an internship through the school’s co-op program at DNA Architectos, an architectural office in Barcelona. In high school he had lived for a time in Salamanca, a small town near Seville. He chose to return to Spain for “the total experience,’’ namely the culture, food, new friends, and the opportunity to improve his Spanish and gain a new perspective on architecture. Read about his travels at

A SMALL WORLD: “Everything in Spain feels smaller. My bedroom has just enough space for a double bed, a wardrobe, and a desk. My washing machine is in my kitchen. Every time I do laundry, I hang my clothes out on my balcony along with everyone else, which gives each side street its own personality.”

WHAT’S FOR DINNER: “Tapas, paella, seafood (if you eat down by the beach), tiramisu, sangria, bocadillos (a sandwich on a baguette), and crepes. Patatas bravas (potato wedges served with spicy salsa) have become a staple in my diet. I also have become addicted to olives, a typical appetizer.”

Full Story from

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Featured Property: Antigua Capilla B&B, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Author: , August 29th, 2010

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly San Miguel de Allende Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Antigua Capilla B&B - San Miguel de AllendeAntigua Capilla Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel de Allende offers world-class hospitality, comfort and elegance in this beautiful, historic town.

Come enjoy the fantastic views of the Parroquia and the city center from Antigua Capilla’s outdoor living area and beautiful rooftop terrace. We’re conveniently located in the heart of San Miguel, an easy five minute walk to the popular local Mexican artisan’s market, and just a ten-fifteen minute downhill walk takes you to the central Jardín in the historic San Miguel town square.

Your hosts, Antonieta and Francisco welcome you to their beautifully furnished San Miguel de Allende Bed & Breakfast. Each of our eight individual guest rooms is individually decorated with handicrafts from all over Mexico, including copper from Santa Clara del Cobre in Michoacán and Mata Ortiz Pottery from Chihuahua.

See the Property Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Buenos Airies Gay Travel to Boom

Author: , August 27th, 2010

Gay Friendly Argentina Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Buenos Aires has been making the cover of newspapers and magazines all over the world since the Argentine Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage, and the tourism industry there hopes for huge things.

Travel Weekly’s got on update on what the Argentineans are saying about there country post-marriage equality. “This will position us as… a great place to visit,” said Carlos Melia, a 36-year-old Argentine whose boutique travel agency and consulting firm, CM by Carlos Melia, specializes in gay travel to the region. “We’re on the front pages of newspapers and magazines all over the world. Now everyone’s talking about Buenos Aires and Argentina. Not just gays; other minorities see that Argentina is an open and accepting country.”

Buenos Aires has a vibrant nightlife, gay-friendly hotels, world-class restaurants, and wonderful sites – all in an environment where people are free to be themselves – it’s a recipe for tourism success!

Full Story from Passport Magazine

Featured Property: Wells House B&B, Greenport, New York

Author: , August 27th, 2010

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Long Island Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Wells House B&B - Greenport, New YorkCirca 1859. Recently renovated Wells House with meticulous care for its historic integrity, this Italianate sea captain’s home is listed in the National Register and boasts original marble fireplace mantles, wide plank floors and a red mahogany curved banister. Relax beyond the iron gates amid a Victorian ambiance and peacefully secluded grounds with shade trees, flowers, a stone patio and two private covered porches.

Each of the window sets were removed and worked tirelessly by hand; over 80 windows were restored and as they always have been when no screws were used.

The Wells House original wide blank pine floors are in amazing condition and just beautiful to behold. The wide soffits that surround the Wells House are ideal, and the corbels you see have been painstakingly painted by hand in 3 of the primary colors of the Wells House exterior.

Any visitor will be transported immediately back to the 19th century upon entering the Wells House property… leaving the 21st century’s problems on the sidewalk.

See the Wells House B&B Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Postcards From An Italian Adventure: From Florence

Author: , August 27th, 2010

Postcards From An Italian Adventure:

Gay Friendly Tuscany Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16th

Hi, Everyone,

Today’s blog post is more of an editorial, than my telling you about more adventures. As you must know by now, I love Italy. Today, some actions of other Americans made me very unhappy to watch, and embarrassed me, also. I shall start at the beginning:

Sunday has got to be the day when the stupidest Americans show up in Florence. I think it coincides with the groups from the cruise ships showing up in droves, but not all are off the ships.

Sunday, August 15, is an important holiday in Italy. Ferragusto is a national holiday, and coincides with the religious holiday of the Assumption of Mary. I went to Mass at the Duomo. The Bishop conducted the Mass, with an entire contingent of priests, with a candle light procession in and out of the main chapel of the Duomo. There was music from the great organ, a choir and soloists. All in all, a beautiful service. When the final procession of the priests, the bishops and entourage had filed out of the chapel, an American guy hops out of his pew, sets up a camera on a tripod right in the aisle, as church-goers were trying to leave. He became irate when the guard, very patiently, and quietly, told him to pack up his stuff. Incredible.

I left the church, went on a long walk, for about two hours. When I got back near the Mercato Centrale, I stopped at a nice little sidewalk cafe, for a glass of wine. Soon, 4 Americani, one couple about 60 years old, with another couple in their 20’s or early 30’s, came into the cafe. They appeared to be a mother and father, with their daughter and her husband. As the waiter approached, the older woman asked if they served beer or wine. The waiter, bless his heart, said, “No, Madame, we only serve water.” Then they all laughed, and sat down. The father pointed to the young woman, and told the waiter, “She is our negotiator”.

The waiter took their drink orders. The older woman asked if they had tequila. “No, Madame, we do not have tequila,” the waiter quietly responded. So the lady ordered a glass of wine. The daughter, the Negotiator, asked what risotto was, then shook her head, and ordered “Brushetta” for all. They were happy, and the young lady was pleased with herself.

While they waited, they continued, in their very loud voices, to proclaim how much they had seen, they had done this and they had done that, as if we, the rest of the patrons in the cafe, should be impressed. I finished my wine, quietly paid my check, and sneaked out, lest I be identified as one of them.

Why do people even bother to go to another country, when they cannot see the beauty that is before their very eyes, but only want other people to notice THEM! as if they were the points of interest. I do not understand it. Italy is full of wonderful, gracious people, who respect others, do not talk in loud voices (unless they are yelling at each other, or the butcher!) My philosophy is that I am a visitor in their wonderful country. I want to see as much of the culture, participate in as many activities, as I can. I want to be a temporary Italian. But, also, visitors should recognize that they are guests of another country, and as guests, should put on their “company manners”, and be a gracious guest, and not pretend that they are superior to others, simply because they are American. That type of behavior makes me sad, makes me angry and embarrasses me, also.

There are many things about being an American, that I love. But when I am here, those things float into the background, to be picked up again when I return to California. For me, now, I am Italian, and very proud of that!! I know there are stupid Americans in California, too, but they are so abundant there, that they do not stand out like they do here.

So, from now on, on Sundays, I will go to church, then stay out of the way of the tourists, until evening, when most of them have left. On that note, I will end my editorial, go out and have a nice glass of wine, somewhere quiet, untouristy, and continue my quest to be a temporary Italian.

The pictures accompanying today’s blog post, are different scenes, from different areas of this wonderful country. I hope someday, you will all be able to visit here, and I know you will remember your “company manners”.

P.S. After I had finished writing the blog post above, I wondered if I was making too much of the Ugly American. I went across the street to the OK Bar, with my iPad. One of the waiters and I got in a discussion about smoking.  He said all Italians smoke and they live longer than Americans. I thought about that for a while, then decided, yes, they don’t sweat the small stuff… they laugh and drink, and smoke.  One of the other waiters, who was off duty, asked me if I would look something up on Google for him – he only speaks a few words of English, that coincides with my few words of Italian. But we finally communicated, while the English speaking waiter was in the background, laughing hysterically. Italians have fun, even at work. And I knew then, that these guys, anyway, did not include me in the Ugly American group. So I felt better. Love those guys at the OK Bar.

Ciao for now,


Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Safe Wheels Brings AIDS Awareness to Communities Across Canada

Author: , August 26th, 2010

Armed with camping gear, a video camera and a bag of safer-sex kits, a group of twentysomething activists is pedaling across Canada to talk about sexually transmitted infections and change attitudes about HIV/AIDS.

Participants in the Safer Wheels Project – Charli Lessard, 27, Kay Taylor, 25, Telyn Kusalik, 26 and Sam Saylor, 27 (aka Kay’s brother) – have been on a cross-country camping trip for almost two months now, engaging people in conversations about sexual health and HIV/AIDS, and filming their encounters for an upcoming documentary.

The project was conceived in Montreal, where Lessard and Taylor met last year – Lessard has lived there for seven years, while Taylor, an English ex-pat, had recently moved there from Denmark. Both women were interested in doing some long-distance cycling and wanted to incorporate activism into their travel plans.

Full Story from Uptown Magazine

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Featured Property: Noseypoint Inn, Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada

Author: , August 25th, 2010

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Gulf Islands Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Noseypoint Inn - Pender Island, BC, CanadaThe living room has a seating area and a fireplace to warm up to after an evening walk along the beach. As a foot note, the double doors seen in the picture are from the old Victoria library. A little piece of West Coast history at your finger tips.

The Sewing Room has a Queen size bed as well as a sink set into an old pedal powered Singer sewing machine.

The Captain’s Quarters’ has Queen sized 2 poster bed, a small sitting area as well as a soaker tub for 2.

The Common Room pretty much speaks for itself. Here guests can mingle or catch up on current news and sports. As well, you have a beautiful view of Browning Harbour.

See the Noseypoint Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Oshkosh: Small City Size, Big City Feel

Author: , August 25th, 2010
by Nicole, Brayton Bed & Breakfast, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
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Visit the Purple Roofs Eastern Wisconsin Waters page

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Oshkosh is a small city with a big time feel with so much going on as the weather gets warmer. Oshkosh is located on Lake Winnebago so boating, fishing and swimming are just some of the recreational activates in abundance here. Lake Winnebago is one of the more heavily fished lakes in the state. Many fishermen consider it one of the nation’s top walleye fisheries. Other species present include bluegill, largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, perch, burbot, white bass, freshwater drum, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and smallmouth. Lake Winnebago has 88 miles of shoreline and is the largest lake within Wisconsin. Its average depth is anywhere between 15-21 feet.

Lake Winnebago has two primary tributaries, the Wolf River and the Fox River. It is drained by the Fox River which flows north towards the Bay and serves as part of the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway. Lake Winnebago is part of a larger system of lakes in Wisconsin known as the Winnebago Pool. The lake is a remnant of Glacial Lake Oshkosh approximately 12,000 years ago. Ice blocked water from entering Lake Michigan at Green Bay, and the glacial lake ponded against ice since it had no outlet. Lake Winnebago is not man-made, but its level was raised by two dams erected in 1850. The lake level is today regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

There is a system of seventeen locks that connect Lake Winnebago to Lake Michigan. This lock system is located along the lower Fox River and starts at the North West corner of Lake Winnebago in the city of Menasha and ends at the mouth of the bay of Green Bay. One of the locks, the Rapid Croche Lock, is permanently sealed as a barrier to prevent the movement of sea lamprey upstream, and only three of the remaining locks are operational.

We are a community that takes pride in our hospitality. We invite you to savor our luxurious parks and explore our friendly waterways. After relaxing by the lake, experience first hand what our many attractions have in store for you. Oshkosh not only offers great shopping, but also puts forward a fine variety of museums, art galleries and performing art centers. The Oshkosh tourism community goes above and beyond with our services to insure the visit of a lifetime.

Oshkosh has seen a recent resurgence in its cultural and entertainment options.

A downtown redevelopment plan led to the construction of the outdoor Leach Amphitheater on the Fox River, hosting the weekly Waterfest concert series which is a musical festival that brings acts like Alice Cooper, Starship, and Bodeans are just to name a few that have been here in the past. Waterfest goes every Thursday night starting the last Thursday in May and ending the last Thursday in August. Waterfest is located right on the beautiful Fox River which means you can watch the sun set , watch boats pull up for the concert or go by and listen to some great bands. This event brings thousands of people from all over by foot, car or boat. You can check out the 2010 venue at

Also in downtown Oshkosh is the Grand Opera House, a performing arts center.

Downtown Gallery Walks, held every first Saturday of the month year-round showcase downtown businesses with local artists.
Irishfest starts June 11-13 is going on our 2nd season which drew thousands of people last year. You can view more information about them at

Country USA is the biggest country musical festival in the country and is held her every year the last week in June. You can view some of the big names coming this year like The Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith and many more at

Sawdust days is a FREE festival over the Fourth of July weekend which is full of carnival rides, games, music and scrumptious food.

Long-running community festivals such as Sawdust Days in Menominee Park continue to be popular. Menominee Park is also the site of the Menominee Park Zoo and “Little Oshkosh”, a community-built playground. Oshkosh is also home to “Country USA” featuring entertainment from dozens of country music acts over a five-day period in June and LifeFest which is a Christian music festival the second week in July.

Then, of course, there is EAA which is the Experimental Aircraft association. For one week, our small city of 60,000 residents has a total of 1 million people from all over the world to view new aviation spectacles and air shows. Oshkosh is the busiest airport in the world for that one week. Though reservation are usually out years in advance their might just be that opportunity at the last minute.

If you are in the mood for a nice scenic walk or bike ride you might want to visit The WIOUWASH trail which runs on an abandoned railroad corridor and is 21.8 miles long.

WIOUWASH also allows horseback riding in the summer months. The flat base is very good for walkers, hikers, bikers, horseback riders (summer) and snowmobilers. The Winnebago county portion of the trail runs from Oshkosh north through Winnebago and Outagamie counties and halts in Hortonville. This section has 21.8 miles of abandoned railroad corridor.

There is a separate section north of Hortonville. It runs 24 miles from Split Rock to Birnamwood. The WIOUWASH Trail, which will ultimately extend from Oshkosh northward through Langlade County, enters Shawano County near Split Rock and passes through the villages of Tigerton, Wittenberg, Eland, and Birnamwood near the county’s western border. Several gaps remain before a continuous trail is in place (including the segment from Birnamwood north through Aniwa to the Langlade County line). Ongoing efforts are being made to acquire right-of-way or obtain the necessary easements to complete the trail. Once completed, the Shawano County portion of the WIOUWASH Trail will be approximately 30 miles in length. – Source: Waupaca County Website.

Other points of interest:

  • Paine Art Center and Gardens
  • University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  • EAA AirVenture Museum
  • Oshkosh Public Museum
  • Grand Opera House
  • Military Veterans Museum
  • The Morgan House

These are just some of the great things that Oshkosh as to offer over the summer months.

Brayton B&B - Oshkosh, WisconsinCome and stay with us and let us show you what Brayton B&B and Oshkosh has to offer.  Some amenities that Brayton Bed and Breakfast offers while you stay with is making sure that you feel comfortable like your own home away from home.  As you enter through the front door, you walk into a bright and airy four season’s room that begs you to sit and enjoy that early morning cup of coffee at sunrise. Step into the foyer with the curved open staircase and you are greeted with casual elegance and deep rich hues that are present throughout the entire home. The Brayton B&B boasts original architecture inside and out for that feeling of authenticity that you won’t find in any branded hotel. Central air, flat screen TVs, wireless Internet, 800 thread count sheets, Aveda hair care products, and fluffy robes and warm slippers in our suites are proof positive your accommodations are up to date and very comfortable. Four uniquely designed and richly decorated guest rooms with their own private baths cater to every personality.

Each morning, we serve a complimentary full breakfast in our family dining room. On the weekends, a wine and cheese social is held in late afternoon in the living room, and homemade desserts are served later in the evening. We are conveniently located just a block from Historic Downtown Oshkosh and is a short walking distance to restaurants and events.

Postcards From An Italian Adventure: Another Busy Week

Author: , August 25th, 2010

Postcards From An Italian Adventure:

Gay Friendly Tuscany Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16th

ViareggioToday is Friday already, and I realize that I have not posted anything since we christened the new Carli apartment a week ago. As usual here, there is always something going on.

Friday, I went with the Carli’s back to their home in Viareggio. The weather was gorgeous, so Saturday and Sunday was spent at the beach. I did take a long walk along the Promenade, until I came to a bridge over a small river/creek/canal, the separated Viareggio from Lido di Camiore. I reached the bridge just in time to watch a boat parade off the sea coast there.

ViareggioThe beaches along this part of the sea are accessed by private establishments, so if you want to lay on the beach, or use a chair and umbrella, you must pay for that privilege. Many of these places are large enough to have a swimming pool, as well as the requisite chairs, umbrellas, snack bar, dressing rooms, showers. Each place also his its own life guard. I like that!

But from the Promenade, one cannot see the sea… therefore, I accepted the Carli’s hospitality one more time, and spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoons, lazing under an umbrella on the beach.

Viareggio Roof PartySunday night they hosted a dinner at their apartment, and we were able to dine outside on the rooftop terrace. What a lovely evening. Both of their sons were there, as well as Magda’s sisters, and other friends, some of whom I had met before, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Monday morning I took the train back to Florence, then Tuesday got on another train to Verona, as I had a ticket for the opera, “Aida”, to be performed in the Arena, the ancient Roman coliseum there. I was so excited about that. I arrived early enough that I had the entire afternoon and evening free to see Verona.

Palazzo Carli, VeronaAlthough I had just been there in June, it was fun to see some things again, yet find other things I had not seen before. I stumbled across a beautiful Palazzo, called Palazzo Carli (pictured at right). Hmmm! Is this going to be a new rental for the enterprises? If so, I will put my bid in for this right now!

That evening I had a nice quiet, light dinner at Osteria Le Vecete, where our group had enjoyed dinner in June. Then off to the Arena for the opera.


The Arena has great acoustics. The stage settings were marvelous, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see this wonderful opera in that setting. The weather stayed balmy; that had been a concern, as rain had been predicted for the evening, but it never happened. Such a fantastic experience. Then, like Cinderella, I had to leave the magic behind, and in the early morning, headed back to Florence. Of course, Florence has its own magic for me, so that was just fine.

Now I have prepared minestrone soup, the Genovese style soup, with no tomatoes, but pesto added. That should last the rest of the week.

Sunday is a National Holiday in Italy. I have not been able to find out the reason for the holiday, but nevertheless, there will be one. It is rather quiet in the neighborhoods now, anyway, as many of the businesses are closed for the month of August, or part of it, anyway. The San Ambrogio market only had about half the stalls that are usually there. My chicken market and the olive guy were all on holiday… but by September 1, all should be up and running again.

Even my hairdresser across the street is gone for the month, but I should not need a hair cut again for at least another few weeks. I went there 2 weeks ago and got a trim, but told him to leave the top of my hair alone, and he did. It is just now getting to a point where I can actually use a brush and hair dryer – this from the hair cut I got in June!!

So, now I will close. It is raining off and on today, so I am spending most of the day indoors, reading, catching up on things, making soup.

Ciao for now…


Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels