Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Some Wrap Up

Learned some things whilst in Italy.  Like gelato is yummy.  But other more important stuff too.  Even when you pack super light, pack lighter.  Next time, four shirts, two skirts.  Jammies, socks and undies for four days.  One eyeliner, one mascara, one lip pencil.  Small hairspray and small moisturizer, toothbrush and toothpaste.  Earbuds.  In fact, we got everybody a really good set of earbuds.  The cost of good earbuds compared to crappy earbuds is about three or four dollars.  Do not use crappy earbuds, my friends.  So not worth it.  

We used a homeopathic product on our trip to Italy called No Jet Lag.  Amazing.  I ran out of it on the way home, and used camomilla which is also recommended, but we experienced much more severe jet lag on the way  home than on the way there.

A notebook was absolutely indispensable.  A little four inch soft notebook and pen went EVERYWHERE with me, and was used for a variety of purposes.

 Trading email addresses, directions, train numbers, info about a particular place, a place to play tic tac toe, things I wanted to remember to ask/tell/do/see.  How I felt.  Handing secret notes to people.  Toilet paper.  Just kidding, but seriously, PACK TISSUES OR TOILET PAPER WITH YOU.  For Italians, apparently it is optional.

Baby wipes.  Ziploc bags.  In every size.  A clothes line was handy.

I took my ipad with me, after no small interior debate.  And well, a bit bulky, with my bluetooth keyboard and all, but, well, this blog would not have happened on the 'ol iphone.  Nuh uh.

So aren't you the lucky ones?

I'll do a little more wrap up as it comes, and you are all still in my prayers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Not Done Yet

Some day in the last couple of days we flew from Rome to Ottawa, then we spent two nights in Ottawa with friends and yesterday came out to the throbbing metropolis of Barry's Bay.  Scout was graduating today, and Polly was receiving a diploma of Christian Studies available to those who have taken the required courses provided for such a one year program.

Absorbing and processing our amazing time in Italy will have to be put on hold for the moment, as we want to wrap ourselves up in this moment.  But it is part of our trip so I'm including it here.  I'll get back to "things we learned while away," to wrap up Italy in a few days.  When I am home, sleeping in my own comfy bed.  Then, and only then, will I REFLECT.

My Babies.

Last night we went to a reception for visiting parents, staff and graduating students.  During the lovely social time, the cat leaped out of the bag that my baby Scout was chosen Valedictorian for her class.  She wanted to keep it a surprise, but apparently not everyone knew that and, actually, we just had our surprise a few hours early.

I knew she would do an awesome job.  But, um, excuse me, she did an AMAZING job!  Approximately hundreds of people complimented us afterwards, and even a few said they wanted to meet me BECAUSE I was the mother of such a person.  Well.

If she allows me, I am going to include some of the text from her talk in a blog post because she is so stinking smart.  And funny.  And beautiful.  And.  She had the  audience in tears and in stitches, her fellow students, staff and clergy, including Cardinal Collins of Toronto (who by the way, is an incredible speaker an no small act to follow).  With humour and pathos, she touched her audience deeply.  Did I mention I was so proud?

Then, my friends, My Babies did this.  Scout receives her diploma with Magna Cum Laude, and Sweet Polly with a Summa Cum much cream.  Beautiful, holy girls, faithful, loving, kind, courageous AND smart.  No way, it is not possible.

More than my poor heart can hold, my friends.

More than my poor heart can hold.

And so, tomorrow we head off to Ottawa again and stay some undetermined place near the airport.  We take our daughters home and, for some short time, our family will be all together.

And then some.  For, my friends, we have a the honour and pleasure of taking home with us a newcomer to the family.  Polly, it seems, acquired more than just good formation and good marks at school, but also a gentleman friend.

And, now that we have met said friend in person, we can attest that her men choosing skills are well honed (like her mother).  She has chosen a handsome, attentive, devoted wildcard who fairly bubbles over with mischief and joy.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sorry for the photo dump, but...

First nine photos are of the castle ruins at Roccasecca,

the last two are of the Tiber docks.

"Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art."


Can the trip of my dreams BE any better?

This is crazy.  But today we left Sorrento with our driver, Jack.  We wanted to go to Rome via the birthplace of Thomas Aquinas.  There wasn't a lot of information on the young life of Saint Thomas.  But we showed up in Roccasecca, underwhelming to the naked eye.

Um.  Says Jack.  Is there something special you wanted to see here?

We don't know.  We say.  Let's just drive around a have a look.  One road and then another led us on a bit of a wild goose chase, but after twenty minutes or so of poking our nose into unmarked roadways that led us to the castle ruins that we could see on the rocky promontory above us.  I think this is where we are meant to go.

Here, where Saint Thomas spent his first five years and where he was captured by his brothers and stuffed into a tower for not towing the Benedictine line, is an unspoiled, uncommercialized ruins of my special patron Saint Thomas Aquinas.

We parked at the bottom of the fortified wall, and walked in, and on and around the ruins for a 360 degree view of what young Thomas saw.  The steps he sat on, the grassy little courtyard, the spring flowers that were his.

I was filled to the brim with the delight of it all.  Virtually no one goes here.  There appears to be a half hearted attempt to honour the saint, with an unattractive modern statue raised near the bottom of the hill, and some interesting signage telling the history of Roccasecca.

We had brought a picnic lunch, in the hopes there would be a nice place in the countryside inland between Naples and Rome.  So we had a picnic, hiked around the castle ruins, the tower and the chapel (rebuilt after destruction during war time).

Who knew our last day in Italy would be so outstanding.

We arrived in our place near the Fiumicino Airport, outside of Rome, expecting the humdrum ambience typical for "airport hotels."  Nuh uh.

It turns out the Fiumicino is a seaside town (I knew this, I just anticipated boring)

Well, never underestimate things when God is your tour guide.  This is the spot where the the Tiber River dumps into the Mediterranean.  There is a huge long canal cut along the edges of the river, where fishing boats come in the late afternoon.  Big ones and small ones, they all lay out the days catch on the dock and the restaurateurs stroll along, choosing their menu for the evening.

The restaurants on the street on the opposite side of the  dock don't open until about eight in the evening, to offer Italy's finest to their customers.

Tomorrow's flight is at about noon, we as excited about going home as we are sad about leaving.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

1) and 2) The coast
3) the storm
4) These little narrow alleys leading to the beach in these towns were for the purpose of deterring pirate raids. Only one pirate at a time could fit through.
5) The cathedral
6) St. Lawrence
7) Toes in the Mediterranean
8) Two buses on the Amalfi highway
9) The view everywhere in Sorrento

Amalfi and Andrew

One of the great draws of the Sorrento and Naples area is the not-to-miss Amalfi coastal highway.  I use the term highway loosely, check out the photos to catch my drift.  So Jack the driver picked us up this morning and took us for a tour of the peninsula, along the aforementioned Amalfi road.

There are several small towns along the way, each of course, with their distinct personality.  We only stopped at two.  Well, truth be known, we stopped at Positano twice.  The first time we stopped long enough for an americano at a coffee bar and a potty stop.  It was raining, hailing, lightning and thundering, so needless to say, not the day for a stop at a coastal town.

However, after an half hour or so, as we headed toward the town of Amalfi the sun came out and it was lovely and warm.  So on our way back, we stopped in at Positano again, to see what it actually looked like.

In Amalfi, wonder of wonders, we got some more religion, with some serious Apostle Coolness at the Amalfi Cathedral, where St. Andrew, yes, the fisherman, is buried.  Amalfi at one time rivalled Venice for its trade and commerce, but now is a small fishing village and holiday town.  The Cathedral is in the Byzantine style, and its impressiveness it definitely an indicator of the glory days of Amalfi.

In the crypt, sidling up to the altar where St. Andrew's remains rest, is a couple of beautiful statues by
Bernini, one of St. Lorenzo (Lawrence) complete with grill in hand.  Fun for the professor to see, as one of his patrons.

As it was a lovely warm afternoon, the kids took off there socks and shoes, rolled up their pants and  played in the water.  Sparky slept.  I laid in the sun.  The coastal route back was the same, but coming from the opposite direction, looked completely different.

Just wandered around Sorrento this evening, enjoying the Italian air.  Everyone is winding down, tomorrow morning we head from here to Rome, via Roccasecca, to the birthplace of The Man, St. Thomas Aquinas.  Love that guy.

I will lay all of you petitions and mine at the feet of him who is awesome.