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Friday Fun With Jim Williamson

Hello. We have just finished a magazine. I am very tired. So I am going to turn things over to our friend Jim Williamson who will tell you about his European adventures. Part Due is late. I was desperately trying to get my happy on last Friday so I could share some happy with you, but it was not happening. This could be due in no small part to what a designer and I have now nicknamed “those damn sconces.” By Monday, they had pretty much become “f’ing sconces.” But I am happy to report that as of today, I think we have reached a happy place and proper wattage.

Now it’s time for the second part of my spring holiday, or as I like to call it, “Why the hell have I never been here before?” On our last morning in Venice, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise. We also discovered we had no feeling on the right side of our bodies due to the extreme firmness of those beds. If only my abs knew such firmness. Anyway, in the movie I was using as an inspiration during my trip to Venice, Katharine Hepburn’s character chose a red Venetian glass as a memento of her trip. Since I already work with Seguso, one of the oldest glass factories on the island of Murano, I wanted something other than glass as a memento—something neither the maid nor I could break.

So we opted for a private shopping excursion at a local jeweler. Please note that this type of experience is never a bad idea. The store has been in business for well over a century. Unfortunately, that’s about how long our transaction took. The proprietor is definitely more of a craftsman than a salesman, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. I liked the fact that he was explaining his craft and how certain things where made and not giving me the full-on sales immersion. (Unlike when you walk into the Nespresso store at NorthPark.) In fact, I am wearing my memento now. It’s a faceted happy face in silver, so I can think of Venice every day.

We headed back to Switzerland, and our friends had a meeting scheduled with the architect at their new home, which is currently under construction on another side of the lake that is quieter and gets more sun. It also has a walking trail into town. Upon entering the house, I promptly asked, “Which of these bedrooms is going to be mine?” I expected them to answer, “The one you have in Dallas seems to work pretty well.” Instead I heard, “Select whichever room you like. It will be yours whenever you want it.” I’d like to return in June.

From the terrace of what is now my new bedroom, you can see the border of Switzerland and Italy as they meet along the lakes edge. The only discernable difference in the view are the two sets of power lines—one going up the mountain for Switzerland and one going up the mountain for Italy. Trusty Jimbo checked out the property from top to bottom. The finish out is going to be very nice, and the workmen take great pride in doing a good job. The mitered and beveled corners on the terrace were perfect. I even snuck off and checked out a new villa under construction just up the hill. I stopped counting after the sixth bedroom. I’ll just use one word, stunning. Okay, I can use one more: jealous.

The architect is young and from our brief encounter he seemed nice. But the moment my friends introduced me as an interior designer from Dallas, you could tell he was nervous I might hit him with a bunch of new ideas. But I had no agenda other than selecting my new bedroom. But it is nice to know that the architect /designer relationship (angst) is universal.
I didn’t meet Fellini, the designer on the project. But from what I understand we would get along swimmingly. (When is the last time you used that word? Never.) He is reportedly very talented, handsome, rich, and Italian. I see nothing here to dislike. He also has a very impressive list of clients. Some really big names in fashion and many more that prefer to remain incognito. Someone who is not trying to get noticed? That is so confusing to my brain—so un-American! I think I like it!

But let’s talk more about me.

The next day we went to the station to take the train into Milan—or so we thought. But guess what? That day just happened to be a national holiday so nothing was open, which we only found out through the nice ticket agent. I think this information was only forthcoming because our lady friend also happens to be very attractive and quite charming. I have been in a city (Naples) when everything was closed, and we had 10 hours to kill and nothing was open save for one café with outdoor seating on a 100-degree day. It didn’t help matters—or my mood—when the waiter asked us to please remove our watches and place them in our pockets. To this day, every time I think of Naples I think of watch thieves.

Disappointed that we would not be seeing Milan until the next day, especially after we managed to coordinate our wardrobes perfectly for lots of picture taking, we decided to make the most of the situation and head for a quaint town across the border in Italy on lovely little lake. I really wish I could recall the name of the town, but by this point I had seen so many lovely little cities that suddenly they all seem to be running together. (This may explain why I’m not a travel writer.) We had a delicious three-hour lunch overlooking the lake at this adorable restaurant that had been there for ages. We may have overstayed by an hour considering the chef took off on his motorcycle as soon as dessert was served. I’m not sure if it was the sorbet that was layered in booze or the just the surroundings, but it was yet another perfect afternoon.

The next day we made the train, and it was off to Milan for the day. I am so glad we made time to go. It is a lovely city and provides some excellent people watching. We did lots of walking and checked out different neighborhoods for future exploration. As we walked past the Teatra alla Scalla we got to see everyone dressed to see a performance. Later, Max burned through a few credit cards buying luxury leather goods, and we did some window shopping for lighting ideas for the house. We finished off the day with a quick Aperol spritz at the Armani Hotel, which has some spectacular views of the city. Then it was back to Switzerland for the night so me we could pack and return to Milan early the next morning for the flight home, which praise be! The travel fairies gave us upgrades.

That, my friends, ends our spring adventure. Finally! As always I hope you have a great weekend. And if you are lucky enough to get tickets (there were maybe 20 last time I checked), I hope you will join us Sunday for Café Momentum’s 2nd Annual Pit Masters Picnic, featuring five of the top barbecue masters in Texas. It’s good food for a good cause!