Rome Adventure

Buongiorno from Rome!

We just got back from a nine-day pilgrimmage to the Vatican, Rome, Assisi, and Florence with a lively and intrepid group of fellow parishioners from St. John Vianney Catholic Church on the west side of Houston. Aside from the considerable spiritual benefits for us in going there with our pastor, the Rev. Father Troy Gately,  The slice of-it-all sightseeing tour into the history of our western culture was nothing short of awesome. I couldn’t begin to recapture it all, but to have now visited the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the tombs of both St. Peter and Julius Caesar, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s, while also seeing The Pieta and David, Michelangelo’s two arguably greatest works of sculpture, plus all the other great works of art and architecture in southern Italy we could cram into a short time was, well, more than worth all the walking up hills and down cobblestone streets for hours. One day we walked for about five straight hours without so much as stopping for water or a bathroom break.

Bataan was deadly; our walk was merely daunting. I’m glad we did it, but I don’t know if I could do it again, not at the pace we just completed.

We did our photos with a family leprechaun. That building in the back is not the Astrodome.

As we were leaving town, our son Neal left us a note, asking us to take some photos at certain points with the “family leprechaun” along the way so that he could feel a little more closely like he had made the trip too. The little green guy has been in the family as a Christmas Tree ornament forever, but he has taken on greater status as a family mascot in more recent times and we take good care of him. We’re a little eccentric and superstistitous about such things, but we also don’t care what the world thinks. It works for us. It’s also fun to be free enough to do things like leprechaun photography.

We attended a Papal Audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Sept. 22.

On Wednesday, September 22, 2010, we attended a general papal audience with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Petee’s Square. For those os who are Catholic, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I’ll certainly never forget it.

We got back to Houston yesterday, Thursday, September 23, at 7:00 PM Houston time. Our inner clocks were already on Friday,  September 24, at 2:00 AM Rome time.

Still are, I think, but neither my wife Norma nor I have  been able to sleep, even though our time lapse says we ought to be totally unconscious by now. Well, if I could be, I would be – and not sitting here trying to write some kind of sensible report on our Rome adventure.

When I’m able, I plan to do an album for my Webshots.Com photo site on Rome. I just hope I don’t get the crazy idea to try it today. I took close to 2,000 photos while we were in Italy.

It’s good to be back, but I’ll stop here, for now, with a little jet lag parody on “Caesar at the Bat,” inspired by this larger than life body sculpture of a Roman important god or person carrying what appears to be the largest baseball bat of all time. I doubt it was Caesar in the photo here, but he is close enough to a Caesarean inspiration to fire a little work on the man with the far more famous place in Roman history.

That much said, I bid you all good morning, good day, and good night – whatever it happens to be. Rome was nice, but it’s good to be home again in Houston.

Caesar at the Bat

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Romeville nine that day: The score stood IV to II, with but one inning more to play. And then when Cassius died at first, and Brutus did the same, a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep and dark despair. The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast; they thought, if only mighty Caesar could get but a whack at that. -
We’d put up even money, now, with Caesar at the bat.

But Longinus preceded Caesar, as did also Anthony. 
And the former was a geezer and the latter was anathemy;
 so upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat, for there seemed but little chance of Caesar’s getting to the bat.

But Longinus drove a single, to the wonderment of all, and Anthony, the lover boy blue, tore the cover off the ball; and when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred, there was Tony safe at second and Longinus hugging third.

Then from 250,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell; It rumbled through the Forum, it rattled in the dell; It knocked upon the Hills of Rome and recoiled upon the flat, for Caesar, mighty Caesar, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Caesar’s manner as he stepped into his place; there was pride in Caesar’s bearing and a smile on Caesar’s face. And when, responding to the cheers, he doffed his gold wreath hat, no stranger in the crowd could doubt, ’twas Caesar at the bat.

Half a million eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands on a eunuch; a quarter mil tongues applauded when he wiped them on his tunic. Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip, defiance gleamed in Caesar’s eye, a sneer curled Caesar’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, and Caesar stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there. Close by the sturdy batsman, the ball unheeded sped-
”That ain’t my style,” Caesar said, improbably,. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern Mediterranean shore. “Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted a Roman from the stand; and it’s likely they’d a-killed him, had not Caesar raised his hand.

With a smile of omnipotent charity, great Caesars’s visage shone; he stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on; he signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew; but Caesar still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered fraud; but one scornful look from Caesar and the audience was awed. They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, and they knew that Caesar wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Caesar’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate; he pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate. And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, and now the air is shattered by the force of Caesar’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright; the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; but there’s no sweet joy in Romeville. – A dagger slung by Brutus – has taken Caesar out.

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8 Responses to “Rome Adventure”

  1. Anthony Cavender Says:

    Wonderful!! Welcome back to Bagdad on the Bayou.

  2. Wayne Williams Says:

    Bill: Sounds like a great trip. My wife and I did Rome, the Amalfi coast and Tuscany three years ago. Great trip but tiring for older people. The Caesar parody is a keeper.

  3. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Glad you had such a great trip. I visited Rome in 1985 with a married couple and, as we wandered outside the Basillica, my friend John was approached by a man who appeared to be dressed right out of 1962 with a white dress shirt, narrow black tie and thick glasses.

    His English was good but clearly not his first language. He wanted money to give us a tour of the Vatican. I’m reluctant to trust strangers who ask for money but John negotiated a price and the three of us went with him.

    The man walks us through the grounds with a pride and knowledge as if he was showing off his own house. He took pride as he pointed out the symbolism of many of sculptures and artwork and, I’ll admit, I learned much I would not have known without his expertise.

    But what was the most memorable was that he pronounced the word “pope” as “poop”, pointing out what “Poop Pius” had done here and “Poop John” had done there, etc. Karolyn and I had to stifle our chuckles throughout as he told us the Vatican had seen “good poops and bad poops”.

    For more money, he said, he would also take us through the Sistine Chapel but, by then, John had tired of the man and we decided to do the Chapel like normal tourists.

    I wonder if the man might still be there today and if he had updated his wardrobe since 1985.

  4. tom murrah Says:

    Yes, incredible photo work with Astros’ orange hat …and the
    green guy is fantastic. Great poetry, too! And, you were missed
    at the SABR party this week. We did our best in your absence.
    Remember, next time get a picture or two with Browns’ gear on.
    Thanks for all the info,

  5. Mike McCroskey Says:

    Sounds like a fabulous trip, I’m just a wee bit jealous. Hope to make a similar trip one day myself. Your Caesar at the bat somehow made me think of Cedeno.

    Glad you’re back safe.


  6. Margery McCurdy Says:

    Dear Bill,

    Wonderful, just wonderful. I am at a loss for words at the beauty of it all!

    I loved your parody too!

    Your little sis,

  7. Piranhtachew Says:

    Huh, Tovar looks a little different there. :p

  8. Beth Blanchard Says:

    I was on the pilgrimage to Italy with you. I enjoyed meeting you and your wife. My father Ralph Sauer went to St. Thomas High School with you. He said you were from St. Christopher Parish. He was from St. Anne Parish. It is a small world.

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