Tuesday, May 29, 2018

One more sleep

Only one more sleep til we see you!

We've had a beautiful few weeks in Italy catching glimpses of this country. All of us feel so satisfied by the visit. You can't know a whole culture just by visiting it, most of the time not even by living there, unless it's for a long while. But the glimpses we have seen reveal so much beauty and gentleness that our spirits are really lifted up.It rained here today, first time all trip. Since it was super hot when we woke, it was a blessing because it cooled the earth down. We were walking in Pordenone when the showers came and we were able to duck into a little alcove to stay dry. It bordered a parking garage, but you would've thought it was a secret garden instead. There were roses growing up and wisteria hanging down, and rain falling all around us. The sound of the rain on the brickwork streets was lighter then on the roads at home, I didn't realize that would matter to my ears but it did. It has felt like each day is a small feast for our souls as we take in new places and foods and people.
Honeysuckle is so sweet
It's growing on nearly every street

Today's a harder day on both Abbie and Pete as parting just isn't easy. Dad and I have done our best to keep them preoccupied, but we also remember how hard it was to be apart, and there's no getting away from it. Still, the engagement is hopeful and helpful.
Two young hearts

Of course dad and I don't want to leave Peter but, but, but, we get to come home to our favorite people tomorrow! What you haven't realized is that while we were away, when we saw fun things that reminded us of you, we actually got them! So tonight you can go to sleep wondering about what interesting little trinkets we will have for you to unwrap. I think we got something for everyone...I sure hope I didn't miss anyone of you...with so many kids maybe I forgot one?  (it makes me laugh to write that.) Do you know how many times people ask dad and  me that question for real? I wonder if they  think it could truly happen? As if the times we have had  here together is somehow not part of what we have as a whole family. I mean I know that Peter was the only real family member in Afghanistan last year, but weren't we all there too most days and nights? It seemed so to me, and I know how many days it did to you too .

And now tomorrow we get the chance to bring pieces of Italy back to you, not just in boxes and bags, but mainly in stories and pictures and reminders we have now to tell you about until it's your own turn to visit a special place and tell us all about it.

Sweet dream. See you tomorrow!
Mom and Dad

Monday, May 28, 2018

How do you say "snarky" in Italian?

Hi kiddos! We made our last trip to Venice today. We had planned to get up early and head to Trieste, but when we woke up, we all realized how wiped out we were and readjusted for Venice. The weather is now hot and summery, and honestly, we just love Venice. Plus, I hadn't seen St Lucy yet or actually visited St Marks tomb.

So we took it slow, ate along the way and just checked out whatever our hearts desired. St Lucy is incorrupt so we headed to that church first. The doors were locked, but also glass, so you can  set up a visit with prayer cards an offering etc right from the front which we did.

Then we took a water bus to St Marks and waited on a miraculously short line to visit the tomb of the apostle. The church is a masterpiece, but I was mostly in saint mode today so lots of candles and prayer time. We had a chance to venerate St Marks tomb which was such a blessing.

Afterwards we had an early dinner then visited Santa Maria Gloriosa friary and we're all mesmerized by the art work and statuary reliefs. If it sounds like we visited alot of churches, let me try to put it into perspective for you. Our guide told us there are 180 Catholic churches in Venice wit 60 of them currently operational (the others are either being restored or are museums). We saw about 10 since we arrived. Each one is a little gem of history and art. It's just a heavenly place.

Our train ride home was...interesting and the reason for the blog post title. Dad had been a little overheated today and was happy when he finally got onto the train home. In fact he put his feet up across from me cause he was so tired and just not feeling himself. A few minutes went by and a woman came walking down the aisle, she looked like she worked for the train company. She stopped and asked dad "excuse me, can I sit here?" To which dad immediately replied "of course" and sat up to make room. She followed up with "do you think I want to sit there if your feet have been on the seat?" Her tone was awful, her demeanor worse, and quite frankly-she hadn't anticipated Dad. (when I heard her starting I thought gosh it's time to buckle up, dad is not gonna do well and we're gonna get kicked off the train. You know and I know, that Dad doesn't take smac talk from anyone, unfortunately, this woman did not). Before she could take a breath he returned fire "you do know if you wanted me to put my feet down, you could have asked me instead of talking to me like you were going to teach me some schoolboy lesson?" She stammered on about the seat, Peter sat up wide eyed to listen closer, "it is not our custom" She tried to say before dad went at it again. "Okay, then you should have said so instead of being so rude" (She actually was really rude, and quite frankly the only person in Italy that has been in the last 14 days, not bad stats at all). She kept muttering things under her breath as if to regain some of the lost footing she had just suffered. Finally dad just took a deep breath, looked her dead in the eye and said "what's the Italian word for snarky?" She huffed and walked off. When she went to the next car laughter broke out all over. Peter and Abbie almost split their sides laughing. 3 stops later she was getting off the train herself and as she left she called out to dad "I am polite!" To which he called back "sure you are!" And Abbie added "and I'm six feet tall!"  causing a fresh round of laughter as the doors closed.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Lignano Beach

Hi All!

I'm so happy you're all going to the drive in tonight. That sounds like a fun time, I hope the movie is good.

I told you in yesterday's post that Dad had the idea to go to a beach. Abbie really liked that idea. Peter and I, not so much. You know I love the beach, but both Pete and I were a bit nervous about going to a new beach without chairs, umbrellas, towels etc. and just baking in the sun. Because Das and Abbie really wanted to, we both talked when they were out of the room and just agreed to make the best of it.

Wow. We were both so happy we did! We drove about an hour to Lignano Beach on the Adriatic Sea. It was 83 degrees with a warm breeze coming off the water. It smelled exactly like the beach at home except not as strong or salty. Dad said he thinks its because theres no crashing waves from the sea, like there is from the ocean. The sand is darker and much hotter on the feet, but finer too. We pulled up and parked with no trouble at all. In front of us were literally thousands of beach umbrellas and beautiful lounge chairs already set up. The beach was not at all crowded. The people we spoke to said July and August was the busiest time so we just happened on a really perfect sunny day to enjoy it.
Super nice umbrellas and chairs lined the whole beach
Pete and Abbie grabbed hot dogs at the stand

We weren't sure how the whole umbrella/lounge chairs thing worked, so we all just walked down to a spot we liked, set up and then went for a swim! The water was like a warm bath and really shallow (about knee deep) for the length of a football field. It was just a gorgeous day with lots of families and little ones swimming and sunbathing. We stayed in the water or in the beach chairs for a few hours.  Then Peter  asked if we wanted to go check out the town just as an Italian gentleman came to tell us we could buy tickets to use the lounge chairs and umbrellas. Of course we all started laughing because he is the first guy in all of Italy to ask us for a ticket. We've rode trains, buses, and water taxis all week and though we've bought tickets for everything, no one has checked anything at all. Dad and I keep scratching our heads wondering how they manage to do business this way. We didn't have a ticket and we were leaving, so he just said "no problem".

 We left and headed for the boardwalk. It is really similar to home and Ocean City. Arcades, shops, gelato, lemonade stands, line the streets. Of course, this made us miss you guys so much even as we were loving every minute. We stayed all day and had a late lunch/early dinner plus sundaes (these are the first sundaes we've seen in Italy. Gelato is everywhere but just cups or cones).
The whole beach is set up this way
Coffee and gelato
Mary, dad thought you laugh at the mannequin. She has pants on her head (all of them did!)
Pete wondered if they knew what they actually naked this store?
Fresh lemonade!

We went to the pier at the end of the day and Dad watched some local men fishing. He probably could've stayed there a few more hours just watching them.
at the pier, watching the fishermen

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ordinary loveliness

Only a few days more til I get to hug and kiss you all and let you unwrap some presents! Thanks for being so good for John-Paul, Andy and Rachel. We miss you all more than you know. While it has been the trip of a lifetime, I'm so happy that my every day life is filled up with so much of you that I feel wealthy in love.

Dad talks about you so much and laughs and tells Peter and Abbie all the funny things you do. He's been so happy to have us to himself after two years of seperation.
Leaving Florence
Such a beautiful city

Today, we sadly left Florence. It's a toss up whether we like Venice or Florence better. I told dad I couldn't choose and he said not to bother-if I pick Venice he'll choose Florence and vice versa so we'd have both one  at the top of our list at all times. Sounds legit.
This pigeon thought he owned the train station

We did alot of travelling today, and all our connections were only minutes apart from each other, so we were on high alert all day, but we made it! We're back in Aviano and we went to the vigil mass just after we checked into our hotel. It's even a little nicer than the first rooms (which were really nice).

Tonight Peter took us to a local chicken place called BEFeD. It's strange sounding, especially for a chicken place, but it was really delicious. Its all natural and organic and the spices are pretty amazing. Pete says it's a chain and Abbie has wanted to try it since he told her about it.
We haven't eaten one bad thing here. Not one.

Afterwards, we walked all around Pordenone and just soaked in the ordinary loveliness of a small town in Italy. The streets smell so strongly here of flowers, almost exclusively honey-suckle. I wont ever smell it again without thinking of Italy-Rome especially.The culture is just beautiful here. People are out eating on the streets, and setting up tables for parties, and pouring wine. With so much alcohol around, I'd expect it to be wild, but it doesnt appear to be from what I've seen. And while there's alot of technology, I see less people overly connected to their phones which makes me happy.
I need one of these for the girls!
 a pop-up party and the streets are cordoned off 
A random government building, so pretty!

There's some talk tonight (dad and Abbie) about finding a beach. it's not my first choice of outings, but Dad always has good ideas so I just go along when he gets onto something like that-Pete is the same as mr.I'll let you know if it turns out ok.

Mostly today we've been talking about our family and we've decided that ordinary loveliness is a really good part of it. Can't wait to hug you all.
Mom and Dad

Friday, May 25, 2018


Sweet Abbie loves art and is an incredible artist herself. We got skunked out of the Vatican museum while we were in Roma, as we couldn't get our phones to order tickets (we don't all have wifi and if one of us does, it's tricky, except for where we stay at night, hence the strange post hours and lack of editing as I am blogging from my tiny phone very late).
So when we got to Florence I promised we'd buy her tickets to the Academia which houses David and other famous paintings by Michaelangelo and his confreres. We made a special stop yesterday to buy tickets in advance so we could visit today with no lines. It was a perfect plan. Of course every where you visit here is so full of famous beauty you cannot easily escape it. Still Abbie had her heart set on seeing the real deal, and who could blame her.

This morning at breakfast Abbie was cooking Fred and Peter eggs and Fred asked "how is it decided that one sculpture is so much better than another? I mean, what kind of standard is applied?" He said he could see how that would be pretty easy to ser with a painter, but not so easy with a sculptor.He was totally being  honest and just really curious. Abbie expained alot about sculpturing and we listened, and then she and Pete headed out by bike to buy sneakers (her feet have been aching her from the 10 mile days) and meet us at 1 for our tour.

We walked into the first room of the museum and looked at some really magnificent paintings and a few sculptures.
The rest of the beauty!
I loved these paintings!
This whole room was filled with these depictions

 Then we turned the corner of the next room and...there he was.
Look at the people to gain perspective on size
Up close

In a single instant, all the questions were gone. He is a breathtaking sight to behold. In fact we all seperated and found different spots to sit and stare for as long as we possibly could without being rude. After about a half hour of gazing at David, I said to Abbie "would you like to finish the tour so we can see the other statues and paintings?" She smiled and said "sure, but what's the point?" She summed up all our feelings perfectly. Fred said as we left the building, "all my questions were answered in a single glance". What an incredible day for her, and us all.
I love watching her watching David

For the rest of the afternoon Pete and Abbie rode bikes around Florence (I wonder where they got that idea?) and Fred and I visited any church we hadn't yet seen. There are quite alot, so we have fallen into a form. We enter (we don't pay, we are pilgrims not tourists and I remind Peter and Abbie each time they gaze in awe that this is their church, by right and they are not visitors). We then pray for the Holy Father and his intentions, we see if one of the name saints is that of someone in our family or friends close to us, we light alot of candles. A whole lot of candles. At every church. I knew we couldn't possibly afford to pay for gifts for all my dear friends back home, but you can be assured I have lit a candle for you and remembered you before God in some really special places. To finish our intentions, we ask God to bless anyone we are forgetting and to watch over their intentions and give them special graces. All of these prayers have been my very favorite part of our travels, especially because almost every church simply asks a donation for a real candle and so I am free to light so many!
Candle trees
Our children, grandchildren, and godchildren
I love how the candles are standing in sand

Tonight I decided to cook for the 4 of us on our last night in Florence. I bought pancetta and fettucinni and fresh Romano cheese plus tomato and chicken and we had a lovely dinner together. There is a romantic place to watch the sunset so Pete and Abbie biked there after we ate and Fred and I are laying low til we feel it's time to get gelato. Speaking of gelato, Fred has decide it's good, but that he still prefers ice cream. Since I don't like even ice cream I'm a terrible judge. I had salted caramel gelato and it was nice, but I'd take tiramisu any day over it (and in fact I have most days here).
Home made dinner

I don't know how this got here, but it's too much work to remove now, sorry.
Dad made me pose like this statue while we were getting gelato