Brits learning Halloween, Bulford, UK

Yesterday started out well as Sonya made it possible for me to sleep in somehow getting Ben out of the room silently before he was able to get to me. Ben loves his Aunty so much that he wants to spend every waking moment playing with her…read: if he is awake, he thinks I should be awake and finds many interesting ways to make that happen. In any case, I more or less caught up on my sleep and the short afternoon nap I took sealed the deal.


Monday is Sonya’s day off which meant we also got to hang around all day hanging out together doing what best friends do best….everything and nothing. Sonya is my very favorite person to practice this fine skill with although now I must admit it is a bit of a challenge with the two babes crawling all over her. Still, we manage. It was rainy and chilly (typical, so they say) so it was the perfect day to sit in and drink tea and watch music videos and play on the computer. Soon it was time for Nicholas to go down for a nap so I followed suit while Son went to pick up Ben from school.

We fed the kidlettes before getting ready for Halloween night. Ben wore his Batman costume but insisted on wearing a somewhat large green camping lantern on his belt. Sonya protested loudly but I gently agreed with Ben that it didn’t matter that it didn’t “fit”. It made all the sense to me…infact, I explained, this was an improvement. Ben was a hybrid superhero – Batman crossed with the Green Lantern. Or the Green Lantern *disguised* as Batman, if you will. Sonya looked at me a bit exasperated as if to say “whose side are you on?” to which I shrugged as Ben beamed up at his Mum triumphantly while proceeded to tie on the shiny blue cape.

“There is a special way to this,” I explained to Ben matter-of-factly. “I own more than seven different capes and cloaks so I am a bit of a professional.”

To this Sonya chuckled and agreed that only Aunty Carmella would have such an arsenal of capes confirming that yes, she is most definitely the right one to have around for holidays such as Halloween. Once Ben was ready and Nicholas was poured into his little (almost too little…the boy is growing like a weed!) tigger outfit, we readied ourselves for the spooky night out.

Sonya started out as a she-devil but then decided she felt more piratey and changed. I agreed that the pirate was the right choice. I opted to be a “Police Dude” which meant a proper bobby hat complete with siren and light on the top as well as vest and handcuffs. There was a baton too but I lost that to a teething Nicholas who decided it was for chewing on. The best part of the ensemble was the bathrobe I wore and the pajama pants (which were actually hospital scrubs) ala. The Big Lebowski. Get it? Police Dude? I thought it was quite clever but I imagine I was the only one since Sonya doesn’t remember (gasp!) the cult classic.

I had just wiggled into the childsize Police vest when the first suspects rang the bell. Ben went ballistic and ran screaming wildly to the door, while I followed in steady pursuit armed with the candy bowl.
After handing out a few rounds of sweets, we had a photo shoot before heading out ourselves. I was impressed with the level of participation of some of the neighbors. Halloween is not well received here in the UK still being seen as a very American holiday. But those who have fun with it really do jump on board.

About a quarter of the houses dropped sweets in Bens happy little jack-o-lantern treat holder. It was pretty cute when we over heard the 5 year old asking the houses if the sweets they were giving him had egg in them. Sonya is deathly allergic to egg (as I discovered once many moons ago when we were teenagers doing homemade facemasks…not a happy story as her mom thought I was trying to kill her and has never really trusted me since) so her son is very wary of them.

The best house was when a 20-something man (who clearly had just come home from the gym) answered his door a little embarrassed but with a handful of coins. Ben didn’t quite know what to think when the burly young man repeatedly thrust his fist towards him, waiting for Ben to hold out his bucket. Finally the confused 4 year hold must have worked out that the gentleman was trying to give him a ganster greeting of sorts so he (naturally) gave him a fist pound right back. The whole thing was rather akward but made for the most hilarious moment of the night. Sonya and I were crying we were laughing so hard.

Another house had a dog the size of a small horse which wanted to participate too. And yet another home had a young boy who repeatedly invited us to come in to his house for a party. A few minutes later we learned it wasn’t his house at all but that he was inviting the whole neighbourhood anyway. I was quite impressed with how kind people were, nothing like the stuffy Brit stereotype.

When all was said and done, Ben had scored quite a pile of sugary snacks. Sonya ganked a candy watch and necklace and I noshed on some mini chocolate bars. Ben was more than happy to share…he is such a generous little boy. After the kids finally entered sugarcrash territory, we dropped them into bed and had a girls night. We watched StreetDance and ate yummy food while Facebooking each other from opposite sides of the couch. It was just like old times. I guess thats the best part of having a best friend…old times and new times are all the same. I guess what it comes down to is that time really just doesn’t exist in these rare connections.

Grateful for Happy Halloweens.

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Jet Lag – Bulford, UK

It’s ridiculous for me to be awake right now but I am. Its 330am and my sleep schedule is hella messed up. For the past week I haven’t had a solid night sleep and then I flew to London where I am experiencing jet lag in a very real way. I guess I have been somewhat lucky in the past because it has never really hit me this bad. I suppose it may have something to do the extra stress I have been dealing with lately. Or maybe I am just getting old.

I was so relieved on Friday afternoon when my doctor called me confirming that I am a-ok and indeed the trip is a go. I was pretty much packed up as I had funneled the nervous waiting energy into packing and readying for the trip. I spent the last day with my Mom and Dad doing last minute stuff and going to dinner at the new Indian place nearby. It is called Veggie Delight and the staff were super sweet even making my favorite dessert gulab jaman specialfor me. I hugged my parents and grabbed my bag at around 8 when Lee’s Dad drove us down to Calgary to link up with the flight tomorrow. I was quite pleased with my prep for this trip and remarked to my mom and dad how unsually prepared I feel. I am 99 percent positive I have covered all my bases.

The drive to Calgary was uneventful save for one horrific accident where it was very clear there would be no survivors. I thought back on the years I had made this is exact trip twice a week for a year comuting to Calgary for work. Some part of me relized that if I didn’t get out of the rat race, i would have likely ended up in one of those body bags mysef.

We overnighted in Ookatooks and I was able to finally unlock my Fido so i can used it abroad with other sim cards. The I snacked on a bowl of srouted brown rice sushi, smoked salmon, mango and avocado which I gave up wrapping after the first fail attempt. Sushi salad it is and it was yum.

At the airport, I was able to meet up with Nadine, my lovely spiritual soulmake, and had just enough time to do a half hour download of what has been going of for the past year. Its always a real treat to be in her presence…she encourages my soul to flourish.

 

Finally I wandered through security which was a flash then I got on the tast of recharging my iphone on the of the elusive plugs conspiculously hidden through out the conconrse. At this point, my travel friend Lee and I had a misscommunication and couldn’t seem to resolve it so I ended up moving to a different part of the plane in order to keep the peace. I was sat next to a lovely couple from the Isle of Man (Manx) who were so adorable in how naturally and fully they took care of each other . He would bring her water and she would keep the lights down so he could sleep. I adorted thier connection and let them know it. Its rare these days to see real chivalry and genuine consideration between two people. And when I see it I cherish every moment I am blessed to be in such a place of pure love. We had some enlightening conversations and I watched a few movies then suddenly the flight was over. Guess time flies when your having fun.

I was not looking forward to flying on Canadian Affair after the last horrendous experience I had with the crew from hell. But then this trip, they totally redeemed themselves. Kind, personable, and a amicable atmosphere throughout the whole aircraft.

Perhaps one of my favorite little strangisms was that there are spiral staircase going downstairs to the toilets. I had never seen that before. I had gone upstrairs on ceratin crafts but never down to the lavatories. It was kinda neat and some people utilized this place as a bit of a partyzone. I guess it may have gotten a little rowdy if not for the toilet control lady standing on the top of the stairs watching and controling the traffic. But still, this is the first time I was impressed by the space and set up of the actual roomy large counters and mirrors all around…a bit of a wasted opportunity if you know what I mean. Just saying.

At the end of the flight, I rushed to get my bag which they did make my check (weight restriction) which was brutal because if I’d had it, I would have made my 555am train to Basingstoke. I was pretty beat at this point so I conceeded the loss and waited for the extra hour then slowly slowly made my way west to see my best friend. The platform was windy, wet, and deserted just as it should be on a typical autumn London morning. As the morning unfolded, the sun began to shine down drying up the clouds and revealing the partygoers on their walk of shame. I would have been more amused by the assortment of costumed wearers wearily stumbling home if I were not more awake myself.

By the time I got to Sonya, I was pretty much exhausted which was fine bcause they had even planned on me having a little lay down before heading over to the family lunch. The shower and nap did wonders and the lunch was a delightful occassion.

I am pretty happy the that temperatures are more doable for my constitution than the chill factory I was coming from. I had some quality time with the boys and Andys parents before then finally getting to the place where I couldn’t hold my head up anymore. I crashed somewhere arond 8pm. But alas, its 4 in the morning and here I am, wide awake. No problem, I just sippped a cuppa and i think I am finally beginning to get tired again…here goes try number 2. After all, it is Halloween with two littles and my best friend tomrorow…must have energy for that unless I wanna be a zombie.

Grateful for cuddles with kids.

 

 

 

 

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Tremendous Turkey

Now its just about April and I head back to London where I do some more visiting before heading down to Turkey. Now just for the record, I could probably write an entire book about Turkey. I really loved it there. But for the sake of brevity and to keep myself on point, I will give you a summary. But do know that this is one place I highly recommend.

The first few weeks I spent traveling with Melanie, a young lady from New Jersey I had met a few years ago on a cruiseship. We wandered around Istanbul for the first week eating a lot of Ficcin (yummiest restaurant paired with amazing staff at unheardof prices), ogling the architecture (mosques), going to the markets and spas (hammam) then stuffing our faces with baklava. We then jumped on a train to Cappadocia where the fairy chimneys are. This very unique landscape had me captivated from the moment I stepped off the bus.

I loved everything about this place…how it looked, how it felt, and the people. Another must see. We were lucky enough to have some locals show us around educating us all the while. I really didn’t expect to be that interested in the whole history and story behind this very unique place but I couldn’t help but get completely fascinated by the elaborate underground cities, the caves that these people lived in for years while in hiding from persecution, and the endearing nature of these humble people. Loved it. I was crawling into holes and exploring tunnels that I don’t think I was supposed to but I just couldn’t help my curiosity.

After we left Cappadocia, Melanie and I headed down to Antalya which is in the southern coast of Turkey. I met up with some friends I was referred to by some other friends I had been referred to in Istanbul by some Turkish guys I had met in Croatia. Well that is really how it is with the Turks. Everyone seems to know someone in the place you are heading and is more than happy to arrange a meeting. It really is one of, if not the, most hospitable country I have visited thus far. I kept getting passed from family to family and they really couldn’t do enough for me feeding me, showing me around, giving me language and history lessons, and generally treating me like one of their own.

Melanie and I ended up heading to Fethiye to see Emre’s (our host in Antalya) sweet mom and then chilled out on the beach for a few days until we were to part ways. She flew back to New York and I was able to get back into my groove. I reset myself by staying put at this heavenly hotel I had discovered which had not only the most peaceful and serene environment but the kindest owners. Again, treating me like one of their own. I felt so comfortable and happy here, I decided to attempt a ten day water fast. It was a detox/cleanse I had been considering for sometime and this just seemed like the right place and time.

It was hard. Seriously. I didn’t do much of anything but I sure did appreciate the unfettered nature that surrounded me and the support of the family who ran the place. It was probably the only reason I made it through. At the end of the fast I gradually began refeeding on their homemade organic fare prepared fresh everyday and man, food had never tasted so good. I loved Yonka Lodge and plan to go back there in the future, perhaps to take someone special. It’s that kind of place. When I was leaving I couldn’t thank them enough. I remarked how amazing it felt to be treated so genuinely like family. Out came the best reply: You make it easy.

Next I visited a lovely woman called Belgin a short bus ride north and we bonded for a few days in her new flat. Then I gradually made my way back down the coast to Olympos where I would discover my true Turkish family waited for me. I can’t really even describe how lovely my  time was with them. I really felt at home and it was one of the only times I cried when I have had to leave a place. Cengiz made me feel right at home and his daughter Ezgi and I bonded instantly. As a family, we played with the new born kittens, swam in the ocean, explored the ruins, broke bread together, and enjoyed sharing our souls into the early hours of the morning in front of the fire.

When it was finally time for me to leave Olympos, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I really felt like I belonged here. I knew I would miss them but this was pretty strange for me to get so attached so quickly. In any case, I knew that I would return. Turkey had quickly taken its place in my top three countries. And the best part? It didn’t even have to try.

I hitchhiked back up to Antalya again to stay with a fellow couch surfer Turker who treated me to a yummy Turkish style ravioli and my favorite coconut popsicles. Finally he delivered me to the airport shuttle where I proceeded to catch my middle of the night flight. On the other side of the one hour jaunt, Burak was waiting for me to host me for my remaining two days in Istanbul. We spent the next day doing everything I wanted to do, going where I wanted and it was generally a very successful Carmella Day. I was somewhat surprised how easily this came to my new friend…had  he heard of this unique holiday before? He was so unbelievably generous that I had to do something to bring some balance. I ended up buying him some pretty red flowers from one of the gypsy vendors on the side of the street. He seemed very surprised and shocked (once he actually let me perform the act of kindness) and I realized no one had ever bought him flowers before. I guess there are lots of guys out there who have never received flowers…sadly.

Early the next morning I was delivered to the airport shuttle not before having my last stuffing of savory Turkish breakfast pastries. Honestly, I have gained 20 plus pounds in the time I spent in Turkey  and I know that I will pay for that once I get back to Canada for the summer. There is no way I will fit into my shorts if I don’t make a serious change in my habits. So the plan is to head back home, get my eating under control and hit the gym.

But first a couple more stops including Aberdeen Scotland where I visited a fellow Canadian friend. Then down to see Sonya and her kidlettes one last time before jetting back to Canada. It was good to wind down my trip with a hug from good friends. I can honestly say I am pretty ready to go home for a while.

Grateful for extreme hospitality.


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The Sweetest Sweetness

I puttered around lovely Croatia for the next few weeks absolutely loving every minute of it. I rented a small but very modern and comfortable flat right in the old town.

********Ok so here is a sweet (and I mean literally) story:

I am chillin’ in my lush rented apartment in old town Dubrovnik enjoying my very peaceful space when pandemonium erupted in the courtyard below my second story window. I peek out my wooden shutters to see a pack of 20 young boys creating a ruckus like no other. Slightly annoyed, I do my best to tune out their screams, hoots and hollars. Unfortunately, that became harder when the mob of hooligans invaded my building came barreling up the stairwell right past my door and upstairs. Not just upstairs, but into the room directly above me. That was 7 hours ago.

This is an old building made of stone way back when and though the architecture it is unbelievable to look at transporting one right back into a medieval time, it is by no means soundproof. Every stomp, thump, and squeal magnified 100 times echoing through my now quite shaken soul. I decided that I would go out for a while in hopes that maybe the swarm would dissipate when the sun went down. Surely these kids have parents who would be wanting them home for dinner, right? After all, I was 10 once. Never did I ever shatter anyone’s eardrums but hey, boys will be boys.

I wandered out with my camera and iPod snapping up inspirational shots here there and everywhere. It is pretty much impossible to be photographically challenged here with the stunning angles, magnificent designs, and blissful lighting. Not to mention the locals who almost seem to be placed perfectly for every single shot. I was feeling quite smug with my artistic achievement which for once, captured the moment perfectly. I noticed several people filing into the church and decided I should take a look inside too. A service was just about to start so I sat down and absorbed the stillness. I lasted about 15 minutes before boredom overtook me so I quietly slipped out leaving the priest bellowing his sermon behind me. I am sure if I understood what he was preaching in Croatian, I would have left much sooner.

I decided enough time had passed and I would likely be safe to venture back into my sacred space. But on the way home, just for insurance, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some goods. Of course I spent another half hour in there, studying the wares, trying to determine if the package with the cartoon cow on it was cheese, butter, milk, or yogurt. I was proud of myself for remembering how to use the digital scale to measure and price my apples. Last time the storekeeper hastily did it for me as I watched and learned, slightly self-conscious for my ignorance.

I swung my bags cheerfully and looked up at the darkening night sky as I rounded the corner to my building. Just as my foot hit the first step on the stoop, I was reminded of the reason I had left in the first place. The decibel level had now risen ten fold and I decided that someone who really hates me must have fed these little buggers sugar. I clambered up the spiral marble staircase and let myself into my now practically vibrating apartment. I sat on my bed and stared up at the ceiling with distain. It was as if a herd of elephants, no make that two herds of elephants were playing dodge ball right above my head. I seriously began to worry that they were going to bust right through onto my bed.

At this point, I pulled out all stops. I tried to practice my Vipassana meditation (especially useful in situations such as this) technique but I don’t think that Goenka himself could have withstood this level of crazy. Next I dug deep, and I mean REALLY deep to find some compassion for these little brats that were now like mosquitoes on my soul. Finally I had enough. I decided that I would talk to them, reason with them, and if need be, beg them to please keep it down. Maybe  I could even send them away if they were infact just some stray gang using some random empty room for a sports center. No sane adult would allow these delinquents such free reign, so I was sure they were unsupervised.

Determined to create some order from the chaos, I made my way up the staircase. Only as my fist banged on the door for the third time to try and overcome the din, did I realize that they probably didn’t speak English. How was I going to communicate with them? Finally when the little monsters opened the door, it turned out that no, they didn’t speak or understand anything I was saying. Shushhing them with some basic gestures, I indicated that they should pipe down, for goodness sake. One confused boy motioned for me to wait and blasted past me up the stairs to the next floor.

A minute later, a exhausted looking woman carrying a chubby toddler in her arms informed me with perfect English that the boys were infact celebrating a birthday. She shrugged tiredly reassuring me flatly they would only be there another hour or so and that there was really nothing she could do about it. All I could do was apologize profusely that I didn’t know and that it was no problem. I felt like such a schmuck. The ultimate party pooper and grumpy old lady. Who did  I think I was coming into their country and telling these little kids to stop being kids, having fun, celebrating their friends birthday? I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my impatience and intolerance. I felt ugly.


It only took me a few minutes to realize what needed to be done. I dashed out back to the supermarket and bought a giant package of cookies as a peace offering. I delivered a plate of sweet vanilla cream filled biscuits with a gentle smile and sheepishly mumbled Happy Birthday. As I turned to head back downstairs, I was surprised to hear the boy respond with a very clear “Thank You”. I felt really good after that and knew I had done the right thing. How many times before had I felt an urge to do something like this, but didn’t out of laziness, fear, or self doubt? All those times that I had robbed myself of this very pure form of happiness that I was currently experiencing. I smiled gratefully at the still loud but no longer annoying thrashing that was going on upstairs.

I silently blessed these unknowing young lads for providing me an opportunity to grow. What a valuable lesson they had taught me. I was still feeling high from the interaction when there was a knock at the door. I assumed they had devoured the cookies and were returning the plate. To my surprise and shock, here was the mother, no longer looking tired but much more energized. She beamed me a huge smile and thanked me warmly for being so understanding. Before I could respond she handed me a big bag of fruit from her garden and returned my plate which was now full posh desserts surrounding a giant slice of birthday cake. I just stood there stunned trying to find the words that would match her kindness and generosity. Here is a classic example of you get what you give. Though I will admit, I felt a shade inadequate when I compared my simple cookie offering to her bountiful and elegant present. I reminded myself that it’s the thought that counts and that it was the pure intention of my gesture that this woman was responding to…not the two dollar plate of cookies.

So today I am grateful for the wondrous, loving and clever ways the universe works to teach us our lessons. I am grateful for swallowing my pride and doing the right thing. I am grateful for the courage to make things right. I am grateful for patience. I am grateful for the process. I am grateful for the opportunity to practice compassion. And I am grateful for boys being boys. ******



I met some lovely friends including Dejana who was an absolute delight to my soul. She graciously took me around and shared so much of herself with me, it wasn’t just the sky that was overcast when she bid me adieu at the airport. I knew I had made myself a very special friend who I would know for years to come.

Grateful for connectors.

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Italy to Croatia by sea

Next I flew back to San Francisco where I spent a short week organizing myself and my stuff for my next adventure. I grabbed up my car from Lake Tahoe, zoomed down the Pacific Coast Highway latched on my Trillium and made the jaunt up past San Jose and Napa Valley to Clear Lake. After a short but sweet visit I entrusted my travel vehicles to my new friends to look after for a while until I could return. Next I flew over to London.


In London I was able to reunite with a long lost friend from Argentina. Ed (aka Max) was a large part of my past and I was curious to see how we would be with one another.. In some ways, nothing had changed. And yet in others, everything was different. We departed on a whirlwind trip around the Mediterranean. First we flew to Italy where we learned that the tower was indeed still leaning, pizza was still scrumptious and those Italians sure do know how to put on a good party. We had a blast at Carnival in ViaReggio where the floats and costumes are larger than life…truly a sight to behold.

Next we zipped over to a rainy Florence just for a night where we had decent food but terrible service. Early in the morning we made our way to Venice where we had just enough time to purchase some authentic masquerade gear before jumping on a cruiseship.

We sailed from Italy to Greece to Turkey to Croatia where we finally disembarked early. Truth be told, I couldn’t wait to get off the ship. Worst cruise I have ever been on. MSC. Don’t do it. You couldn’t PAY me to get on another on of their ships. After more than 30 cruises, I have finally experienced the worst of the worst. I guess it had to happen sometime. Ed and I got along pretty well which made the week go by relatively quickly. We stayed one night in Dubrovnik before we said our goodbyes and he flew back to London to work.

Grateful for masks.

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My London Home – Bulford, England

We made the hurried and frantic escape from Norway onto the cheap RyanAir flight to London. I admit, I began to feel the difference between traveling solo and having to consider another body in my plans. I suppose, looking back, I feel that this has grown me. Ultimately what may seem difficult on the surface, is usually designed to teach a lesson…or two.

I was both overjoyed and relieved to see Sonya and Ben saunter up to us at the airport. My longest friend in the world who I had lost to England years ago, remains a steady source of comfort to me. In the meantime, she had spawned a child who is arguably one of the cuter in his variety. Little Ben and Big Ben played in the backseat while we made the 3 hour drive back to Andover, where we would be staying for the next few days. What kind of friend would drive three hours each way with a two year old to fetch her girlfriend from the airport? Sonya, who I claimed was my sister all through high school. People still ask me how my sister is…I always have to ask, which one.

Something inside me felt warm and reaffirming as I watched the green countryside pass us by. Sonya and I chattered on non-stop, picking up as if not a moment had passed since our last meeting. In reality, it had been years. You’d never know it.

After a delicious and filling falafel feast, I was ready for an early night. As home as I had felt in Norway with Kat, I felt doubly as much now. Sonya is like family to me and I missed her terribly. I have to say though, when your best friend has a little baby, it is a strange admission. Suddenly, there is this little prototype of one of your favorite people in the world. I had an instant love for this little young man, who could capture the heart of anyone, I am sure. I generally don’t like kids as I find them somewhat distracting and tedious, but this one had me questioning that line of thought.

When I discovered the Welcome Home Auntie Carmella sign posted in my room, I realized that I had had this feeling before. My sisters kids, Nubian and Khaalid, induce such a deep level of protective adoration as now. Kids are cute. At least my sisters ones are.

Grateful for children.

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Sculptorades – Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway

One day I decided to go visit the Royal Palace where the king and queen (who are apparently quite personable and friendly) reside. I was just in time for the changing of the guards which was a lot less crowded than the one in England. It was pretty cool but not much unlike the whole process that happens in all the other countries. I think once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

One of my highlights of Olso was my visit to Vigeland Park. Covering 80 acres and featuring 212 bronze and granite sculptures, we certainly had our work cut out for us. The park is divided into six sections: The Main Gate, The Bridge, The Children’s Playground, The Fountain, The Monolith Plateau and the Wheel of Life. I personally liked best The Bridge which showcases nicely the “human condition”.

I took a million pictures here and I still don’t think I took enough. Kat told me it was a statue park but I was not prepared for the level of emotion conveyed by them. Who knew that a large hunk of rock or metal could evoke such depth of emotions in me?

A certain favorite is “Sinnataggen”, the little Angry Boy on the bridge. I could understand that…he was pretty cute and reminded me of that cheeky dancing baby in the Ally McBeal series.


But one of my personal favorites was the little old woman nestled between the two younger, more robust women. Though many may have thought her to look squished and frail, I experienced something quite different. In her sunken eyes and toothless grin, I felt pure happiness, something no one could touch. It came from within. I could almost hear her chuckle at finding the secret to life that the rest of us seem to be in endless search of.

Grateful for solid emotion.

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A laid back space and slower pace – Oslo, Norway

It was nice to be able to slow down and live a somewhat local life rather than be the traveling tourist. The sun ended up coming out periodically which made for some lovely walks. I was amazed at the vivid blooms gracing peoples gardens as I strolled down to the market. The parks and every green space was packed with Osloians taking in the sun and doing a whole lot of nothing. It was refreshing to visit a country where people know the importance of leisure.

After doing some shopping at the foreign markets, where Kat said I would find the best deals, I ventured further into the center. By chance I came upon a hippy peace type gathering from which some ear-catching tunes were wafting. I was drawn in by the music but was kept by the atmosphere of gentle acceptance. There were free trade organic treats for us to snack on as we watched the unique fashion show that was taking place before us. The stunning young and younger ladies sashayed by playfully in their flowing costumes. It was all I could do not to get up and dance along with them.

Grateful for freedom.

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Scandinavian Rain – Oslo, Norway

When we arrived into Norway, it was raining. All I could think about was how cold it was and how surely it would warm up. Lucky, I was wearing a rain jacket but that alone didn’t protect me. It was the fact that I had to trawl my rolling suitcase up and around and through the cobblestone steep Olso streets. Kat said it was only a 10 minute walk but after about 22 minutes, I realized that maybe her sense of time has been skewed. Possibly her year here studying had dampened her internal clock. Who can know for sure. But if I may have been chilly that was quickly remedied by the sweat that was forming on my brow. Clackity clack clack rumbled my luggage as I tried my best to keep it from tipping over. Why don’t they put those giant wheels that so many baby hummers have these days? That would be sweet. And functional.

After snaking through a humongous graveyard shortcut, we finally arrived at Kats residence. It seemed to be at the very top of Norway and I was pretty proud of myself for climbing the mountain. It was neat to meet the many different cultures who surrounded her room. She described them all in very colorful terms except for the one guy who she didn’t even want to name. Apparently all her floormates were tolerable, even delightful at times, save for this unfine young man. Curiously, he was the one I craved to meet the most.

I ended up sleeping quite a bit now that I felt at “home” and comfortable. Even though it wasn’t my home, it was someone’s home and she had decorated it with her personal effects in a very charming way. It made it comfy and cozy inside even though the weather was gloomy out the window. I did spend some time perched by her window admiring her spectacular view of the town.

Later we took a trip to the grocery store, which is for me a definite highlight of any new place. I took in all the strange and fascinating choices including the bizarre selection of cheeses and cereals. Those are always a good indicator of how a country is run. If they value their variety, then they can be considered for a return visit, in my books.

Grateful for hominess.

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Firespinning in Oslo, Norway

It was so cold in Norway, I did what ever I could to warm up. Haven’t spun fire in a really long time but it was nice to remember why I loved it so much. Thanks for the push Kat!

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