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February 23, 2011

Lucca, Italy

We had to wait so long to climb the tower of Pisa (since we hadn't reserved tickets ahead of time), that we arrived in our next destination at dusk: Lucca. We managed to see the ramparts (though not walk on them - but they didn't look as impressive as the ramparts we walked on in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France a few years ago, so I didn't feel cheated), the Guigini Tower from outside (closed), and the church San Michele in Foro with its many different columns, the depiction of the angel Michael on top with retractable wings against high winds).

Lucca Church of San Michele in Foro - notice the kids and me to the right of the door. :-)

 



We also saw this in a Luccan shop window: 5 kilograms of Nutella. That's 11 pounds. Those are regular-sized wine bottles next to it. Now that's some Nutella.

 

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February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Pisa, Italy

Really, the whole point of the trip was to make it to Pisa and see the famed Leaning Tower that one finds on the placemats of "Italian" restaurants worldwide... for some reason I really wanted to see it myself, even though everyone warned us that there was "nothing else" to see in Pisa. Actually, we enjoyed visiting the cathedral, the baptistry (a separate, round building), and the "Camposanto" (cemetery cloister building where they apparently placed some dirt from the Holy Land in the 14th century or so, hence the name), and eating some good food, in addition to viewing and climbing the tower. I loved my visit. God provided a gloriously sunny day (next day was very rainy), and my husband was very kind in granting my wishes to stay several hours so that we could make the climb - get your tickets online ahead of time, so you don't have to wait hours for your set ticket time, or miss it altogether by arriving too late in the day - there were some very unhappy children who didn't get to climb it because all the tours were sold out. A sad shame after coming all that way. I'm thankful for the way it worked out for us. And this was the off-season.

Leaning Tower of Pisa - it really does lean. That's the cathedral on the left.

 


Ceiling of Pisa Cathedral


Baptistry of Pisa

 



Inside the Pisa Baptistry - that's David on the right in the brown coat. I love him.

 



Cathedral and Tower of Pisa

 

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February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Road Trip to Italy: Santa Margherita Ligure

We drove to Italy this past long weekend. It's five hours from our house to the coast of the Mediterranean.

The Moon Trying to Hide Amongst the Streetlights outside Milan, Italy (by David)

 



The Ligurian Coast of the Mediterranean, Santa Margherita, Italy (by Jason)

 



Ligurian Beach Pebbles (by Jason)

 



Santa Margherita Ligure (by Katherine)

 



Camelia with Emily, Jason, Katherine (by David)

 



My husband and I (by Katherine)

 



Ligurian Moonscape (by David)

 

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February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Portofino, Italy

Seven minutes' drive from our hotel, along a very narrow, windy road hugging the sea, was Portofino, a small Italian postcard-perfect coastal village that stuck in my mind ever since my parents visited it without me long ago. Now I've finally been!

Portofino Harbor - I love how the water looks like a painting. I think Jason took this one.

 



Portofino

 



Jason Photographs Portofino

 

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February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

From a sign posted inside the cemetery building at Pisa next to the Leaning Tower, Feb 2011

Worth the read: amazing excerpts from the HOMILY FOR THE BLESSING AND INAUGURATION OF THE CHAPEL OF THE HOLY RELICS at Pisa, Italy, 20 December 2009, Cappella Dal Pozzo, Giovanni Paolo Benotto, Translated from the Italian.

"Saintliness that is not remote, and certainly not unattainable, for anyone, because it is divine life that is already operating in each one of us, for that communion of love which, fruit of the Holy Spirit, unites us with God, and in Christ makes us one." (paragraph 3)

"The whole of the life of the Christian, issuing from the divine Trinity, unfolds and is realized in the communion with the three divine Persons, just as it has as its definitive goal the full participation in eternal life in the glory and in the joy of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." (paragraph 4)

"It is the Word of God which, made flesh, is among us as the living Word which gives life to those who receive it in faith, and which wanted to give itself to the Church... so that this Word might be announced faithfully to every corner of the earth. The Word of God is indeed the great treasure that has to be broken like nourishing bread for every person; it is light that illumines the personal and community way; it is the intellectual sign of a presence of love that is given to us for our salvation... " (paragraph 7)

"...the mystery of a birth that would give great fame to Bethlehem of Ephrath, raising it out of its obscurity.... A birth that takes place in silence, in humility, shrouded in mystery and that only the eyes of those who are able to look beyond appearances and the immediate, can recognize as the mystery of salvation.... It is an openness to faith that we all need, above all in order to grasp the mystery of a salvation that regards us and that desires to renew us, down to the deepest fibres of our being..." (paragraph 8)

"We need sensible, tangible signs that enable us to enter into contact with the mystery of God. The sign par excellence that God has bestowed Jesus upon us: the eternal Son, who, in His incarnation, assumed our humanity: His face is in fact the "visible image of God invisible." In His humanity, the Lord Jesus made visible for us his "will" of love towards the Father; He offered Himself; He gave and sacrificed His own life to sanctify us. He wrote on the cross the definitive word that gives meaning to every expectation of man and gives fulfillment to every most authentic aspiration. God is with us, God is for us. God and man are by now inseparably united with one another. God is no longer unattainable, because He loves us. The word written on the cross, which is, however, already written on the stable of Bethlehem, is "love." Eternal love made visible, is now a part of time, of every time and of this our time... (paragraph 9)

"This reflection of God, the faith that enables us not only to understand Him, but also to receive Him unto us, as light that illumines and flame that warms. Reflection which this evening, again in fullness from this chapel, wants to extend itself to all those who in the spirit of faith will cross this threshold and will be able to contemplate, before the relics of our saints, a small corner of Paradise." (last paragraph, 10)

Wow! It was really cool to find such vibrant life and inspiring truth inside a very old, very traditional, ornate stone building visited by tons of tourists. I almost didn't read the sign, but David pointed it out, the wonderful man, and I was most encouraged. I typed this out from photos I took of the sign. I couldn't find it transcribed online anywhere.

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February 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 22, 2011

Science, Boiling Things, and Planning Ahead for a Sturdier, More Trusting Marriage

Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, “Why is there a universe?” “Why does it go on as it does?” “Has it any meaning?” would remain just as they were? 
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001, p. 23.
(Repost from Martin at Sun And Shield).

Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? Thanks to Barbara at MommyLife.

Delaying Sex Positively Affects Marriage Longevity, Study Finds. Some very inspiring quotes from married couples who waited until their wedding night at the bottom of this article from Irishtimes.com ("Deciding you don't before you say 'I do'") discussing the study.

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February 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 21, 2011

Advice from an amazing mother of six, friend from university

A college friend of mine has six children and helps her husband run a dairy farm in upstate New York. 

Here are the twelve answers she gives when people ask her "how she does it." Brilliant (includes staples like tea, oxygen, and chocolate, but also some other very creative things). 

She also describes time with her sixth baby in such a beautiful way. Have a read.

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February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turkish has some long words

For no particular reason, I am learning some Turkish with the online computer language program Rosetta Stone. No particular reason, other than that we get a great deal through David's company to access lessons for 15 languages for a year at a time, and that I come into contact with some Turkish people here on a weekly basis and speak with them in German...and it would be cool to know some of their language. And I love learning languages.

For example, in Turkish, "Merhaba" is hello. Emphasis on the first syllable.

What I am currently finding amazing is that I am only on Unit 2 of Level 1, and they are making me pronounce 18-letter words!!! As in the sentence, "Siz öğretmenlerimsiniz." (I think this means "You are my teachers.") That seems a little over the top! The G with the breve on top sounds more like a Y. The O with an umlaut sounds quite like the same character in German, which is helpful.

I thought German had some long words, but Turkish is right up there, too.

Turkish also has some other creative new characters: 
ç (sounds like "ch")
ş (sounds like "sh")

Also, ı  - an i without the dot on top. Sounds like "uh".

Apparently it also has this one: İ
But I haven't met it yet, so I don't know what it does.

Fun! All due to the Tower of Babel...

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February 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2011

A Chain of German Service Transactions, in search of heat without too much CO

The Gemeinde (town hall) sent us the biannual heating inspectors last week. They dutifully inspected our oil heater, and pronounced it (in German of course) "nicht gut" (not good). Too much carbon monoxide. Ok, I agree, that sounds bad for sure. 

So I had to call the oil heater servicing company and ask them (in German) to come. This morning the guy came and took a look. He told us (in German) he can't fix it until the chimney sweep comes and cleans out the chimney of the heater. 

So I had to call the nice chimney sweep's wife (also his administrative assistant) and try to explain (in German) what the problem was. However, at this point, the heater guy has left and we discover that the heater is no longer working properly (every few minutes it tries to start up again and isn't successful). I try to describe the problem (in German) but am unfortunately left speechless. Lacking in vocabulary. The lovely lady generously offers to call the heating service people and coordinate directly with them. Bless you, chimney sweep's wife! 

She then calls me back and says her husband will come by today "gegen" 1pm (pretty sure this means "approximately" but just to confuse me, it literally means "against") to check that the heater is working (because the heater service people claim they left it working...they should listen to it now), but doesn't have time actually to clean it until tomorrow at "halb elf" (half an elf? No, 10:30am - whenever someone tells me on the phone a time with the "halb" in it, I literally have to write that down as they said it, and work it out later...is it 10:30, 11:30, or 12:30? I can't get it straight under pressure. I know it doesn't refer to the actual hour they mention, but I can never remember in the stress of the moment if it's the hour before or after it. For the record, it means "half an hour UNTIL" the number they say, so it's the opposite from England, where "half eleven" means "half an hour PAST" eleven). Correct me if I'm wrong on any of this.

So now I sit here listening to the ailing heater, and thankful for the kind-hearted Swiss-German woman who was just on the other end of the phone, speaking her best high German and not making any snide remarks about how bad my best version of that is. We'll get this all sorted out at some point. Hopefully, as she said, before we "frieren" (freeze).

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February 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 14, 2011

Winter Blooms, Valentine's Cookies, and a Cat

Happy Valentine's Day!

Winter-Blooming Garden Tree

 



Snowdrops 2011

 



David's Valentine's Creation 2011 - Thank you, my love!

  



Which Doesn't Belong in the Garden? Snowdrops, Cat, or Cookies in Tupperware?

 

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February 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)