I will continue to add to this, but in the midst of this giant trip, I am truly enjoying these tiny, wonderful moments wash over me:
Katie’s head on my shoulder when we took off to Milan.
Sitting 3-across with Jeff, Katie and me
Breakfast with Katie and her Nutella-drenched croissant
Jeff brings me a bottle of water (many times.)
A group of Bologna region chorus (of 50 plus year-old singers) who cheered like crazy for our “Bella,” singers today at their performance in Chianti Greve Music Festival. Such nice people!
We’ve been looking forward to this trip to Italy for little over a year, and our friends and family are almost as excited for it as we are. Some special Grazies for them…..
Danny, my favorite cousin in New Jersey works for a fantastic publisher and has shared his bounty of Italian language and travel guides over the past year. We’ve amassed quite a nice collection of Italia books. OOPS update – lost my phrase book in Venice. Kind of excited that some other traveler will learn some phrases from it.
Carol, my book club buddy who took a fantastic trip last year to Australia and let us borrow from her collection of travel-tested (and ginormous) bags.
Jake, my most favorite son, who is not joining us on this trip (but has another European trip planned in August). He is staying home taking care of our small pack of dogs who are medium to high maintenance. He’s also working at the dock for my parents and filling in for Jeff in the technology troubleshooting department. Without him, I’m not sure how we could do this.
My parents who will be managing the dock on their own for the next 10 days. Jeff has taken time off before, but was always a phone call or a few miles away. This was a leap of faith for them and it helps to work for two people who love you — makes it so much harder to say no.
And finally Linda..How can I ever thank her enough? Much of this fantasy trip was paid for by this dear woman, friend, grandma and mom and I am still shocked and a little teary-eyed when I remember the phone call. Last year, Jeff, Katie and I went to a meeting at school about a performance trip (rumors were Italy or somewhere else in Europe.) When photos of my dream city, Venice, were shown on the smartboard, I was really excited. Oh, and by the way, the chorus will perform at the VATICAN. I was vibrating with anticipation. And then bang! crash! the price information came up and I replaced my selfish, personal excitement with some nice motherly excitement for Katie and determination that we’d add the Italy payment to our budget for the next year, but there was no way to pay for two trips.
So back to the phone call. I called Linda and told her all about the trip, this great opportunity, etc. Linda asked if Jeff and I were going. I told her that we’d start making payments but it would just be Katie. And she said, “Oh, you’re going.” I really felt all of the blood leave my body, started crying and grinning (an odd combination I know) and told Linda I’d call her back. She didn’t come to her senses and we met for Chinese food the next week, and started making 3 payments — but mostly Linda did. And that is the end of how we got to go to Italy, or rather the beginning of this adventure.
That was about a year ago, and I’m still amazed at her generosity. We are so truly blessed and I hope and pray that I’ve expressed that to her enough.
I hope all of my friends and family feel well-thanked when I make them look at the zillions of photographs and tell them all about it over the next decade!
The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
As a totally inexperienced traveler, but one that is working on being vastly experienced, I’ve outlined — tips for traveling to Philadelphia, although some apply everywhere.
1. Número Uno – if you’re traveling on Spirit or any airline that charges for carry on, I highly recommend the purse only packing method. Make your own clothing tootsie rolls, rubber band them and put in bottom of your largest purse and you are golden and at least $50 ahead of the game.
2. Double decker bus tours are the bomb. Really, suck it up and embrace the tourist vibe. Break out the fanny pack (sarcasm alert – just say no to fanny packs). Sunburn alert though – no shade on top of a bus so bring your hat and sunscreen. The guides I had in Philadelphia were funny and knowledgeable full of local-only tips.
3. Go Solo! I embraced the lunch counter on my own during this trip, and got to talk with lots of interesting folks. Although I missed the wonderful man I married, I felt like I got more in touch with local info., perspective than I have on other trips.
4. Visit Your Career Counterparts: I am part of the best profession, so a visit to the historic Philly Free Library and chatting with the children’s librarian was illuminating. Who knew they have a huge collection of N.C. Wyeth art in the children’s room?
While I wait on my boarding for a fun trip to Philadelphia with my sister-in-law Karen, I wanted to share my stupendous packing adventure. Pictured below you’ll see how I packed two pairs of pants, four tops, undies, extra shoes, makeup, iPad, glasses (two pairs) plus some stunning accessories if I do say so myself. All of this I packed in my $7 good will Sac purse that I have loved despite mom’s recurring question, “Why do you have such a big purse?” Because mom, it was seven bucks, but now, even better, I am saving $50 in carry on bag fees with my wonderful feed sack purse! Using Pinterest power, I searched for packing tips, finding a way to roll all and rubber band. Bonus: if things have to be searched, I can just dump out my clothing tootsie rolls. I also used ziploc bags for the small stuff, put my coconut oil moisturizer in an old lip gloss pot and my favorite-sunglasses in a bottle koosie. May need to drink a Pepsi at the airport! Since I started writing this, we’ve taken off. I’m seated over the wing where I am happy to report, there is no twilight zoned weirdo – much to my relief. On to Philly with an extra 50 bucks in my pocket!
Spoiler alert: I may be slightly jaded so please read with less judgment than I have shown. Pretty please.
Today I attended Googlefest 2014 at Trident Technical College. Billed as an opportunity for teachers to hone their google skills and learn what else we can do with google drive and other google features, I signed up. After all I am my school’s Google Guide (in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed woman rules) and there was a free lunch.
1. Google Glass is way cool and I’m sure my kids will benefit from this technology – $1500ish and not available now, but remember when no one had a smartphone and that concept was way too new/expensive/edgy for most of us. If you don’t feel the need to investigate further (http://www.google.com/glass/start/) picture Jordy’s (Lavar Burton) visor with no vision enhancement but lots of super cool smartphone-ish capabilities. One caveat though: Glass will not transform you to a skydiving, hot air ballooning ballet dancer – in other words, if you don’t see or do something interesting, you won’t get to video/photograph/share anything interesting.
2. Another cool google tool is google earth’s tour guide feature – intrigued and will investigate further.
3. Google wants to make you cry. Now I came to this rather bizarre conclusion after watching various speakers today, who showed videos (think old phone company crying commercials) showing adorable baby pictures and inspiring 20 something’s overcoming disabilities through use of google technologies. So there were many shiny eyes in the house. I’ve been puzzling over why this is? Can’t we just use google’s various, useful tools without converting to googleterian as the new religion of the day? I hesitate to say Google wanted us all to be overcome with emotion and love of babies and confuse that with our love of google… But maybe I’m a little jaded.
So to wrap up:
*Glass is cool; we’ll see more in future – beam us up Jordy.
*Google earth still rocks and the tour guide feature holds lots of potential for teachers.
*Google is cool but has a strange compelsion (a la Barney Fife) to make teachers cry.
So I feel a little guilty as I drank a lot of free coffee and had a yummy (also free) boxed lunch. Google, please teach me a little more and pull on my heart strings a little less next year – I’ll be back if I’m invited again. I am a sucker for free coffee.
Yes, this is Mark Sanford. Remember I said I was a little jaded and I tuned him out after he said something about transparency with colleagues. Wow!
I enjoyed a great (hot) walk today through McClellanville and thought a flower photo montage would be a lovely addition to my blog this summer. Since today is June 16th I decided to have 16 flowers, which I thought might be a challenge – of course I found way more than that.
I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.
My 3rd year of summer blogging begins today…..
Yesterday morning I was at my school (for a great end-of-year lunch) and today, I’m in super sunny Florida already sunburnt! We are in Cedar Key, home base for all things clam farming where we are picking up clam bags, visiting with another farmer and going on a clam research boat ride and also having some rest and recharge time.
Thank you to friends who have asked if I’d be blogging again. I’m very flattered that my nearly dozens of blogging fans are asking for more! Now I know how Taylor Swift feels.
Last night, we enjoyed delicious meal of open-faced shrimp salad sandwiches (with sliced Wabi Sabi tomatoes and mozzarella) and huge shrimp courtesy of Shrimper Extraordinaire John Jackson for which we are very thankful. Our thanks don’t end there as that was early in the evening.
We got a phone call from a friend who had run aground with his family. It was 10:30, but since Jeff knows the water pretty well (about a gazillion times better than I do) we gathered flashlights and towels and loaded up for a new adventure. Luckily, Jeff called a friend who called another friend of Jake’s who showed up at the dock to join us. It was soooo dark, like inside of a coffin dark, with no moon, but some occasional starlight and flashing channel marker lights (which really messes with your night vision).
We navigated to the back side of the island, Josh using a flashlight to identify channel markers while Jeff drove the boat, periodically consulting his GPS. As I was riding in the boat, I came to several realizations: 1) I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in a boat at 11:00 at night – cruise ships do not count 2) faith is required since I couldn’t see and we could have easily driven into a sinkhole/vortex from hell/volcano/fill in your worst fear here, and 3) maybe I’m not my most comfortable in the dark — I did mention it was DARK, didn’t I?
When trying to find a place to beach, we ended up in a shallow surf from which it seemed we could not emerge for hours (or maybe 72 seconds). White caps were the only thing I could see and they were breaking over the stern. At one point, to stop the growing panic that was washing over me, I began digging life jackets out of the dock box. Josh was so kind and said he would put on the life jacket if it would make me feel better. His kindness really brings a tear to my eye as I write about it now and I am truly thankful that he joined us.
Our friends were on the ocean/surf side but we couldn’t get close. After the surf/shallow water incident, Jeff agreed that we couldn’t get to them. After some phone calls with our friends, we called the Coast Guard and told them the situation. We got a 4 a.m. text from our friends saying that our local DNR officer came to their rescue. So glad all are safe and well. Their granddaughter can tell a great story to her friends. The boat is still out there and our friend is working on getting it back, but everyone is home, safe and sound, if a little tired.
Once again, I am in awe of how blessed we are with friends who give us shrimp, call us for help (yes, also very grateful for that) and answer our call for a late-night rescue and even put on a life jacket to make my panicky self feel better. Vacation Bible School with my crew of wiggly little ones was a little more poignant today. I am thankful.
Freshest seafood from the pristine waters of Bulls Bay, South Carolina
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Poet, Author, Photographer
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