where the writers are
Butt in Oakland, Mind in Tuscany
Cary Tennis peering out from his playpen in Florence, Italy

Yo. Been home over a week now and could not be less interested in working. At my job, I mean. Luckily, being self-employed with dedicated contractors carrying out my evil bidding gives me some leeway in re-entering the stratosphere.  There is nothing about paperwork, sample research and project launches that provide the thrills of a six hour lunch by a Tuscan pool with a dozen other writers. Duh. What did I expect?

I was lucky to be at a workshop helmed by the great Cary Tennis (of Salon reknown) attended by writers from across the globe that have to be the funniest, sharpest, camaraderie-oriented bunch to every put finger to keypad.  We spent our days writing to prompts from the humorous to the difficult and nights roaming the Cortona countryside devouring vast quantities of local cuisine. 

There was even a mass daytrip to Florence for sight-seeing and hi-jinks (That's Cary himself gazing from his playpen in a Florence square) as we traversed the city taking in such landmarks as Michelangelo's digs and the Statue of David looming large over a square filled with sculpture and churches sprawling for city blocks.  The afternoon ended with a summer downpour and we all bought 5 Euro umbrellas from street vendors that appeared from nowhere then caught a cab to the stifling and muggy train station where we somehow managed to find everyone that had scattered into several groups in one place at the same time like so many homing pigeons.

The last day of the workshop, after writing for several hours, we gathered by the aforementioned pool around 3pm.  Someone brought out a bottle of wine, another crackers and cheese and cookies and fruit. I brought a bowl of ice and Lemonada. As dusk approached, people started disappearing for a while then returning with a crisp salad, more wine, a hot pasta with a just-whipped-up sauce redolent of fresh basil and chile peppers, platters of fresh mozzarella and local tomatoes, a vegetable ragu, more wine, more fruit etc as we cleaned out our refrigerators before heading home. There was laughter for days and much regaling of stories, adventures and mishaps.

As night fell, even as I breathed in my surroundings and took mental photos of the faces and landscape and sky, I wished for more of these times in my life.