Monthly Archives

August 2015


It’s practically September.


Back to school, Moms! Are you ready? I’m not. Well, I mean, of course, it’s time for the dear darlings to get back into the classroom as soon as possible. After all this long summer vacation, lolly-gagging around, they need hard chairs, stern rules and firm broccoli.

But even though the dear daughters are surely tired of my daily preaching and professing, and I’m tired of their daily bickering and complaining, I’ll still miss seeing them contented and curled up in their covers asleep at 10am still!! as I raise the shades and open the windows. I’ll miss the way they passionately wager, debate, and delay taking out the trash, walking the dog or any other chore I ask them to do. And wherever we are, the haphazard way our summer living spaces are strewn with blankets, clothes, books and craft supplies is a testament to their spunk and creativity.

Summer allows our loose-ends, our spontaneity, our fidgety -ness  to find favor. We taunt indecision and try new things. We swerve around politeness and gain new poise. It’s the best time of year to let it all run amok and splash in the mud.

But now it’s back to business. Time to hose off the sand and dirt, rinse the jelly jars, time to focus our attention toward new crisp accomplishments. Summer was fantastic, but let’s get down to business. Parisians have returned from holiday in full vigour. The hub is back working daring hours, the children are packing up their pencil cases and contemplating physics and French classes.

And this first week in, I’m definitely in need of a pedicure, my roots done, and some cafe dates with my Parisian girlfriends! Then I’ll be ready for those volunteer hours, activity runs, writing deadlines, and all the duties that keep the home life  going round.

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Tyrolean Hike.


Hey there,

We missed you last week, but it’s our doing. We were on the road again. Just to keep it all straight, we arrived home from Rome, happy to feel a French breeze after the Italian heat we mentioned 500 times, and happy to have a washing machine to stuff our stinky suitcase contents into and have that fresh Seine recycled water get it all doused.

We got together with friends right off, needing to feel connected in the big city, because let’s face it, it can feel downright strange and disconcerting to arrive back to a place like Paris. So that first evening, my eldest’s bff came over with her family and we talked all afternoon into the evening until the buzzer rang and my good friend from NYC and her kiddies arrived to stay over. Then the next few days we met with available Paris pals, by that time, we were feeling like we lived here again.

Only to buzz off again because… the next week was the much anticipated Tech camp week in England for our eldest. She went to learn Java. Which isn’t coffee-roasting class, but a computer programming or coding language. She is wild about coding and spends her free time building websites and watching Dr. Who, a British TV show. She and her Dad spent the afternoon in London going to Geek stores buying Dr. Who T-shirts and posters. Love that she might sway the stats as the percentage of women in tech is still abysmally low. Girls Who Code might be right up her alley!

So while she was Java-ing, that left me and the 10 year old to hang out. That is until, I corresponded with an Ottawa friend who was at her place in the Dolomites and she invited us up. We accepted the invitation, jumped on another night train to Italy, and woke up to a week of surprises. I’d heard about the mountain place and her childhood summers and most intriguing, the lunch huts high on the trails, where she and her family would stop after a long hike and enjoy a meal right there up in the clouds. It had always sounded unreal. I couldn’t really picture being able to do that.

Imagine my surprise, when we arrive to a Tyrolean paradise of sparkling clean villages with hand-painted chalets, onion-domed churches, the greenest pastures towered by the whitest jagged peaks, and those famed lunch huts. It was a fairy tale land just like in the books.

First stop from the train was the Kneipp-wes Rudelbach, which is @ 3k hike through a forest where you take off your shoes and are obliged to walk barefoot in the coldest cleanest mountain stream and along the pine-needle paths. Yes. And waterfalls, and wooden hand-rails along the way, and stone steps.

The entry to a week of alpine meadows, olive bread, local mushrooms, and the lunch hut, which turned out to be a bonafide place after a long hike up a real mountain.

The Sennes Hutte – a gourmet resto hut where the dairy is from the cows out back with their bells on and your view is the grassy meadow onto a beautiful panorama over the peaks of Croda Rossa (3146m) and Tofana (3243m). Omelettes and gulash, anyone?

You earn the view, but by the time you get there, you’re smitten and can’t believe that you’re here in this fairy-tale landscape. I’ll be forever happy that my friend and her daughter showed us that world they know so well. They pointed to other peaks they had been to days before. My friend has been walking those peaks for 30 years.

We were out there on the mountains all day, and the descent was just as lovely, but by the end, I was glad to see our jeep guys who took us back to the village.

That night we took blankets out to the meadow and watched as stars shot across the night sky.

Just a few hours before, we’d been pretty high up there too.

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Holy Rome.

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If you feel heat rising from this page, don’t be alarmed. We’ve been in Rome and it was hotter than those scary pictures of Hades. We’re pretty sure it was so hot that we’ll be radiating heat for a few years. Grab a fan or maybe a bottle of that spritzer water and spritz yourself. Sit in one of the cafes that mists its patrons. We did. It helped for a minute. Sympatico, bella. 

Rome…  gorgeous and chaotic, graffitied and marbled, peeling paint, every shade of orange stucco, pope keychains, scooters rumbling over sunken cobbles, all with the dome of St. Peter’s in the background. And the best food for a few euros. The best food. I had to say it again. 

But most shops close at noon for 3 hours, I’d forgotten that. Naptime, after all that great food. So Rome is shuttered and quiet for a few hours then in the evening, everyone comes back out, looking refreshed and in better clothes. Evenings in Italy are pretty lively and people really dress up. 

Decorativeness comes naturally here. Ideas figuring angels and heaven aren’t just in the Vatican, they’re in the dress shops, stamped on leather bags, sealed in all those church frescoes, baked into the lines of the golden stuccoed walls of houses. You can buy a good picture of heaven to wear or hang in your bathroom.  

And even if you don’t make the audience with him, you can find the Pope waving to you from every corner. This July was an exciting time to be there as Pope Francis had just released his encyclical on climate change you’ve probably heard about as it’s making waves around the Catholic and secular world. Called ‘Laudato Si’ which is medieval Italian for a 192 page paper that basically calls the people of the world (that’s us) to make an “ecological conversion.” A religious leader respecting science and evidence based policies. It’s a big deal. 

But beware the wickedness of pick-pockets. Some things never change. The rich heat can blunt ones observational skills, so that day leaving the Borghese Gardens heading to the Spanish steps, I should have noticed the burly old man (who looked nothing like the Pope) with the bags that brushed past me in too much of a hurry. Two seconds too late, I realized he’d gotten my wallets! 

Apparently, you haven’t fully seen Rome unless you’ve been to the Carabinieri (Italian police force) office. Near the Spanish steps, we buzz the local office and stand waiting outside a large green iron door. Once in, the office a dim green with bare walls, a young effective Carab took our information, but while he typed on his keyboard, he had a look on his face that said, you’re never gonna get those wallets back. When in Rome…

Well, at least I still had my phone and all those snapshots of heaven.  

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