Tuesday, May 30, 2017

trust and pixie dust

When I opened my eyes this morning I could see little bits of blue sky through the half moon window. By the time I dragged myself up clouds had moved in, obliterating any hope of a sunny day. Still, I couldn’t use that as an excuse to drop back onto the mattress…

As soon as my coffee was brewed I checked my lists – yes, multiple lists – to see what had to be done today. I was half way into my coffee before I had it all worked out.

Carm was visiting his mom and doing some grocery shopping so I shuffled his tasks to tomorrows lists and then got busy. Dog water, stuff for the freezer, golf clothes, computer, pick mint for mojitos, tonic water for g&t’s, blah, blah, blah. I was in and out of the house all day.

I did do some stuff on my wablet, including testing the Mobidb database software that I downloaded yesterday. It is the same software that I have on my android tablet so I’ll do double entry of my daily log for several days to make sure it is working properly. Unfortunately, I can’t get the two devices to sync over Google drive. It is a feature, but I can’t be bothered to send in a error log just yet.

I clipped the dog’s faces yesterday and had to use my #30 blade, which is a really short cut… unfortunately I gave them both a bit of clipper burn – I feel terrible!!! I’ll be doing their nails this afternoon and am sure to nab one of them – it’s a wonder they don’t bite me but somehow the dear creatures still trust.

Bees are making music around the flowering honeysuckle.

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Saturday, May 27, 2017

great bursts of leaves

I’m sitting in the villetta looking around and wracking my brain to figure out what’s missing… what else should I pack? I haven’t tackled food yet, that will come tomorrow, but in the meantime I am mapping out a menu plan so I just pack what I need and not what I might need if we were going to be 100 miles from a store for two months. I’m a bad one for ‘just in case’ (which btw, rarely happens).

I’ve got my Google tasks set up and am editing them on my phone, tablet, and wablet. Each has its strengths, but it is fairly ridic to be using so much hardware. Uber Geek. (and fyi fighting with windows 10 tablet at every try).

The mosquitoes are fierce today – all my comings and goings from the trailer has filled it up with the pesky things. Thankfully we are having a summer day – hot and sunny. Nice for me (although the front of the trailer is now over 80F), but maybe not as nice for Carm as he’s been chopping the grass/hay. It is growing quickly and may have even put on an inch or two today.

The dogs are clueing into the idea that we might be going camping. They leap from their beds every time I go into the house, circling me so as not to be forgotten. Grace has been out of the picture as she has spent the day outside on the back deck. She looks content to be watching the comings and goings of the robins that are nesting nearby. She must have been relaxed as she had a bath in her oversize water dish.

One last flurry of activity: swing onto deck! It really is summer now :-)

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, May 26, 2017


The mosquitos were flying around me in thick clouds and I thanked my lucky stars that they hadn’t organized themselves as surely then there were enough of them to carry me off.

Slowly the camper is returning to its summer configuration. There is still much to do but today we took a break. A funeral in town and drizzly rain meant we didn’t progress. No worries – if the worse happens and I don’t get any food loaded we’ll just have to eat out ;-) The dogs food is loaded so they are safe though.


Today we went to the funeral of a distant cousin of Carm’s. Theresa had helped Carm’s mom out at the retirement home, helping her to settle in and keeping an eye out for her as she advanced in Alzheimer's. Through the service I remembered some of the churches, cathedrals, and basilicas that we visited on our trip. St. Anthony’s is a modest church in the heart of little Italy and it really isn’t fair to compare it to anything that we saw. I remembered the Sistine Chapel and tried to visualize how big it was compared to the church I was in. The Sistine Chapel seemed huge but when I checked the size on Google (after the service of course) it seems that the two churches are of equal size.

The service was done just after 11 so thoughts turned to lunch and we quickly agreed that Pho would suit us both. After that we deeked into Canadian Tire and then Sears where I found what I was looking for and also scored some really cute strappy sandals that will be perfect on our next cruise (and of course sometimes this summer).


The air around me is black & blue with echoing swearwords as I try to get this post done on my Windows tablet. I’m having no end of trouble and frustrations…

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

the earth laughs

Preparations for our next trip started today. Actually I should say tripS as our cruising clothes are washed and packed for our next cruise.

The camper needs its spring repack as well. I went through my clothes and stripped the sheets of the bed for washing. The backseat of the truck was pulled apart with a quilt for the laundry and old foams stored. New, thinner, denser foams will be installed tomorrow after the laundry is done.


In between each task I wandered down the laneway and basked in the fragrance of apple blossoms. The front of the house, by the steps, was awash in the aroma of honeysuckle and lilac. It is a heady delight.

I did have to dodge the cow plops on the laneway as I went about my day – the neighbors cows got loose yesterday and came to our place, taking down some of our fences and leaving calling cards.

Carm is the fourth of the intrepid travellers to come down with a cold – he’s lucky though as he’s nicely at home with no amazing sights to miss out on.

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 22, 2017

Our travels

My plan today was to write a summary of our trip but my brain is trapped somewhere between here and there and doesn't seem to be accessible. I stupidly forgot my meds two nights ago which has left me in a worse state than normal jet-lag. Coffee isn't helping - I'll continue to try though ;-)


Travel is wonderful except for getting there and back. We flew Air Canada Rouge on the way to Barcelona. It's a bare bones, no frills, airline that didn't even have in-seat entertainment. It was a long 8 hours sitting cramped on hard seats with nothing to distract. Airline food continues to degrade… Flying out of Montreal was easy. Flying into Barcelona was a pain - getting through the long lineup for customs took at least an hour. Overall though the trip wasn't too bad - excitement overrode any discomfort.

The way home was another thing. We were tired from our trip and had mixed feelings about the vacation being over. Rome was no big deal although waiting at the gate wasn't very comfortable. Frankfurt though was another matter. It is a horrible airport where nothing is easy. The distance from arrival to departure is long and confusing (bus, train, bus). I was glad none of the airports on my trip to NZ measured ‘up’ to Frankfurt – they seem positively luxurious now. We were tired and getting cranky. The flight was long but at least there was in seat entertainment, although my headphone jack didn't work very well. There were tons of babies but they weren't too screamy. The food sucked. But we were on our way home!

Air travel is not like the olden days. But the main thing is we got there and back so it's all good :-)

Leaving the pets at home is hard, but with Pat staying with them I hardly worried at all. She took good care of them and even befriended Grace enough that she sat on Pat's hand. That is amazing!

We travelled with Jo Ellen and Don who were perfect travelling companions.


Barcelona was our first city and it was an amazing introduction to Europe. I had been there before when I was 11 but don't have any real memories of the visit so it was brand new to me. Our drive from the airport took us on wide boulevards lined with old low-rise apartments decorated with fancy wrought iron railings and fancy cornices. Plane trees added some green. Our hotel was right in the Gothic quarter and only a few blocks from Las Ramblas - the perfect location for on-foot exploration.

Rome was our departure point and this was a city to blow our minds. Orange trees with bright orange fruit right in the old streets of the city made a big impression on me. Rome is apparently the 2nd greenest city in Europe, second to Stockholm. Statues, fountains and ancient ruins were everywhere. We will return.


Everything in-between has started to blur. The cruise was a great introduction to Europe - we'd wake up in a new place every morning. We had full-day excursions in most places and would get back in time to chill for a few minutes then head to the buffet for our supper. We were too tired to go to any of the shows. The grueling pace gave us a good taste of where we want to return.

I didn't gain any weight, which is a bit of a miracle as we ate like pigs. Breakfast buffet usually included smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, maybe a bit of frittata or French toast. If we were on the ship we ate lunch at the buffet. The excursions often included delightful lunches with wine. Or we'd eat at a little restaurant somewhere. We went to a specialty steak restaurant one night of the ship; I had filet mignon and lobster tail. The rest of the nights we ate at the buffet - it was good, but not as good as the ship we were on last November. It was nice not to cook! I ate more meat than I have in a few years total.

We saw so many amazing things and places, but there are three that stand out in my mind. I was excited about seeing Sagrada Familia and wondered if it would be one of those things that aren't as good as expected. My first glimpse gave me a thrill, but when we stepped inside I was awe struck and immediately choked up. It was magnificent. The arching space was like standing in a sacred forest. Stained glass lit the interior. I would love to go back.


We were walking down a narrow street in Florence when around a corner we came to a large square. Dominating that square was Il Duomo. The towering façade with its multi-coloured marble and statues all over was astounding. I was surprised at my response.


There were lots more interesting sights, but none that impacted me the same as Sagrada Familia or Il Duomo until I stepped into the Pantheon in Rome. The light coming through the oculus in the roof and the ceiling itself brought tears to my eyes. It has been in continuous use for over 2000 years. Yes - two thousand. Unbelievable.

Well, I guess I managed to eek out a long summary of our trip - that extra coffee seemed to do the trick!



“A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.”
~Ryszard Kapuściński

Saturday, May 20, 2017

journey home

3:15… AM… barely asleep for fear of sleeping in, the alarm clock chimed. Up and at 'em for our long way home. Quick showers and after the last minute pack it was time to check out of our hotel (the Savoy) and catch the taxi to the airport.

Hurry up and wait was the drone of the day.

Hurtle through the dark streets of Rome to reach the airport. Check our bags and find the gate. Wait for 2 hours. Finally the plane arrived and we boarded, just in time for an extra 1/2 hour on the tarmac.

Land at Frankfurt. De-plane and cram onto a bus. Try to figure out where to go (flight was a few hours off and gate not yet posted). Guess. Take train to another terminal. Try to figure out where to go. Gate still not posted. Walk, walk, walk. Have breakfast (a typical German breakfast of white steamed/boiled sausage and pretzel). Try to figure out where to go. Walk some more. Check board, flight posted, more walking. Wait, stand in line, wait, stand in line to board bus, cram onto bus, wait in line to board plane in rain, get to seat, wait and wait (over an hour) for clearance to take-off. Sit on plane for 9 hours.

Finally land in Ottawa and we are close to home. Mom is a sweetheart and picks us up. Quick visit in their driveway and we are in the car and on our way home. Relief (and dismay at tall, overgrown grass) as we pull into the laneway. The dogs are released from the house to their great joy. Crying and leaping for joy all the way around.

It was wonderful walking into our own house with our own pets. Pat had vacuumed and cleaned up so it was especially nice. Grace was the only one not happy to see me - she declined a scratch and puffed up at me. She's either mad, or has transferred her affections over to Pat.

Carm was a whirling dervish at unpacking his bag, but I slowly worked at mine. I was too tired to figure out what I had to do so eventually collapsed on the sofa. We did a load of laundry. Too tired to eat anything but chips. My plan was to stay up until 9 or 9:30 but I couldn't stay awake and succumbed not long past 8:30 pm. I may have been asleep before my head hit the pillow, and stayed asleep, (with a little break to have a snack), until 12:30 pm. Even then I had to drag myself out of bed.

Carm was up at the crack of dawn (still on Rome time). He got some paperwork done, printed out applications for a NEXUS card (will get us through customs without a 30 to 60 min wait). And then, while I was sound asleep, got cracking on the grass. He was still at it a few hours later when I emerged from the bedroom.

The grass is green (stating the obvious), and the apple trees are in full bloom. The first one in the row has more blossoms than I have ever seen. It is beautiful! The pink tulips are at the last of their glory. All together it is a wonderful welcome home.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

day 13 more Roma

Last night after my post we went for a walk to the Spanish Steps. It wasn’t too far away, just 15 or 20 minutes later we arrived at the top of the steps. It was a game of ‘Where’s Waldo’ when we sent Carm on his own to the very bottom. He made it down and then back up, arriving out of breath but really thrilled.

We strolled back to the hotel, stopping at a nearby restaurant for a fantastic meal. There aren’t many restaurants nearby so we’ll go to the same place tonight.

We got going early again this morning, not 5am early but 7am. A quick breakfast in the hotel and then we made our way to the first ‘on off’ bus stop to wait for the first bus.

First stop: colosseum and forum.

After a quick visit inside the Colosseum we boarded the bus for the next attraction: Trevi Fountain.  Jo Ellen and Don stayed on the bus to get back to the hotel, but we still had a bit of energy left.

The crowds at the fountain were out of this world. Row upon row of people filled up every space. Selfie sticks were everywhere. It was chaos, but wow, what a fountain. It had been under renovation until a few weeks ago so we were lucky to see it. Freshly washed, the white marble glowed in the hot sun.

From there we wandered down some side streets till we found the Pantheon. The imposing facade dominated the square.

Stepping inside I felt a wave of emotion. This is the third building that has caused an emotional response. The ceiling was incredible and the way the light came through the centre was goosebump making.

We made our way back to the hotel at this point for a short rest, afterwhich we met Jo Ellen and Don on the rooftop terrace for a cold drink. We are having a little break now and will soon be meeting for supper and then an early night. The alarm will be set for 3:15am...

Our last day of vacation was unforgettable. Hot Mediterranean sun and amazing sights made the day. Rome is an incredible city and we will certainly visit again, next time for longer. Orange trees growing along busy streets, narrow busy streets, cars and people everywhere, scooters driving like maniacs - it is all so wonderful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

day 12 ROME!

The alarm sang its cheerful song early this morning but we had no choice but to get up and get the show on the road. Showers, a quick run at the buffet for breakfast, last of the stuff into our carry-ons, and we were ready to go.

More hurry up and wait. We got to the meeting spot for our disembarkation tour with time to spare, but as luck would have it things weren’t ready on shore for us yet. Wait wait wait. Carm running to the bathroom at the last minute. Me freaking out that he’s gone off. He’s back in time for more waiting. Finally our row is called and we are on our way off the ship into a warehouse full of suitcases. Find our suitcase. Leave the building. Find our bus. Carm runs away to the bathroom again leaving me with 2 suitcases and 2 carry ons, plus the shoulder bag and my camera. Struggle to load into bus. Don helps. Find a seat on the bus. Wait. Carm returns. Wait some more. Trouble with bus. Wait. Finally all is settled and we are on our way.

The countryside on the 1 ½ hour drive from the port to Rome was beautiful. Gentle hills dotted with olive trees, and fields of cut hay, made a bucolic picture. We moved along at a good clip until suddenly we ground to a stop and it was ‘stop and go’ the rest of the way into Rome.

Driving through the city was amazing. The buildings are so old and there are statues and frescoes and big trees everywhere. Even orange trees. And the traffic was out of this world. Cars everywhere and scooters/motorcycles in every available spot, zipping in and out between the cars and busses as if they were immortal.

Our tour this morning was the Vatican.

Of course we couldn’t take photos of the Sistine Chapel so I’ll have to say a 1000 words instead. But actually it left me speechless.

Once the tour was over we reloaded onto the bus for the drive to our hotels. The driver took the long way there and seemed to drive us past every statue and memorial in Rome. It was fantastic.

Checked into our hotel then wandered off to look for a late lunch (it was after 2 by then).

Now I’m exhausted and ready for a nap (Carm’s snoring beside me), but I wanted to get this off before I forgot more than I already have.

day 11 Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast

I was feeling a little better on Tuesday which was a good thing as we had to set the alarm for another early departure. I slathered on lots of sunscreen as the weather was due to be hot and we were going to be spending some time on a smaller boat under the Napoli sun.

First the bus drove us through Naples, past Vesuvius, and on to Sorrento where we looked at a church.

After looking around we got back on the bus and drove to Salerno where we looked at some stuff and then had a tasty lunch.

After lunch we all piled onto a boat and puttered down the Amalfi coast.

We got off the bus in the little village of Amalfi - another church. More narrow streets with cobblestones.

I’ve got to write these posts on the ‘day of’ as it has become a blur.

I do remember that by the time we got back to the ship we were all exhausted from the long day. Jo Ellen skipped supper and the rest of us grabbed a quick supper at the buffet. It was our last night of the cruise - suitcases were finished being packed and stuck outside the door into the hall; we shared our last bottle of wine from Spain; set the alarm for 5:15 am; and then tucked in for an early bedtime. We knew we’d wake up to Rome, the last port of our trip.

day 10 at sea

Thank goodness for another sea day as I was under the weather still. Carm brought me breakfast in bed, we watched a movie in our stateroom and generally just chilled for the first ½ (¾) of the day.

Jo Ellen came down with a cold now too. Must be all this unhealthy food I’ve been eating - nary a vegetable in sight...

Monday, May 15, 2017

day 9 Kotor, Montenegro

Another beautiful day in a gorgeous location. Kotor is located at the end of an hours sailing through steep gorges dotted with little villages that must surely be accessable only by water. It looked like a fairy tale with princesses and princes and magical beasts.

On the way in I was sound asleep but we were up and ready for adventure in time for disembarkation via tender to this lovely town.

The bus drove us up and up along switchback roads till we reached a look out where we got off the bus to take pictures.

Back on the bus we drove more switchback roads, this time on a two way road no wider than the bus - we had to wait for a car to back up to get out of our way. There was a little village with a small stone from the 1400s. From there we walked down a lane to a tavern with tables laid out with wines, juices, cheese, meats, small donut things with honey. A man poured everyone a smalll glass of grappa, the local firewater. Two men played folk music while we ate and drank. Soon people were clapping and singing along. It was a great time.

After lunch was over (it was actually before 11am), we drove back down to Kotor to do a walking tour of the city. Another European town with narrow cobblestones and charming shops.

After the tour was over we hopped onto the tender and went back to the ship where I promptly fell asleep. I felt like crap all day and couldn’t wait to lie down. This is the worst cold I’ve had in a long time…

I stayed in bed while everyone went for supper - Carm brought me back some rolls.

Sailing away from the land of fairytales.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

day 8 at sea

AHHHH CHOOO… sniff sniff sniff… It hit me at about 8:30 last night, suddenly and  like a ton of bricks. A cold. Or maybe allergies. Thankfully today is a sea day so I’ve been able to sleep in and nap for much of the day.

Carm brought me breakfast in bed this morning: scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and french toast. Room service brought the coffee. I dragged myself into the shower after the coffee and then did some laundry in the sink. We have these nifty little laundry soap sheets which are perfect for a few undies.

I was ready for lunch by noon, tempted by the thought of the sushi that was on the menu today. Unfortunately for me, I wrecked the soy sauce by putting too much wasabi in it. Good thing I brought my  new purse that I had filled with tissues cause that horseradish cleared my sinusus!

Back to the room for a few more hours of sleep - I woke up in time for happy hour - a cranberry juice cocktail for me…

Now I’m back in the room for a rest before heading out for supper. Tonight we have reservations for a specialty restaurant - I’m not sure I’ll do justice to a huge steak but I’ll give it the old college try.

Tomorrow we dock in Kotor, Montenegro. Another adventure awaits. I am getting homesick though - I thought I felt Spike on the bed this morning.

Friday, May 12, 2017

day 7 Santorini, Greece

The alarm clock played its wicked song this morning before the sun was into the sky. 5:45 am and yes, we are on holiday! I cracked open the curtains to get a first peek at Santorini, Greece.

White buildings spilled down the side of a high cliff - a straight up several hundred foot cliff. Santorini was much rockier and more mountainous than I had imagined.

We got showered, grabbed a quick breakfast (I love not having to cook), then headed to the meeting spot for our excursion. The four of us waited patiently (mostly) for our turn to be ferried to shore. Today we weren’t docked but were anchored in the cauldera.

The day really was a blur of driving switchback roads and walking through tiny streets with whitewashed houses. We did stop to view an excavation of a 3500 year old city which was fascinating.

The woman wouldn’t get out of my way!

Carm wouldn’t either ;-)

We stopped for lunch at a winery - lovely buffet lunch with Greek food and a wine tasting.

Beautiful place, lovely day. Long lovely day.  I’m glad tomorrow is a sea day as I’m exhausted!