Monday, August 29, 2011

At one point this weekend, I was in a room with five German Shepards and there were two guys in the basement making bullets.


We opted for a last minute escape-from-Irene and headed northwest to see Mark's sister's family near Syracuse.  Can't believe it took us a hurricane to get there -- somehow years have passed since we made that 4-1/2 hour trek.  That's just too long, right?  Now, I'm sure they could post some similar wide-eyed kind of statement when they visit us in the NYC burbs.  But really, it was funny.

My SIL's boyfriend trains police dogs and used to be a US Marshall so Max and Alex were just about in Nirvana.  He gifted them with some real police targets to be taped on trees here and used with their plastic bb's.  Their saucer-sized eyes just glowed when he showed them the dent in his calf where he took a bullet and I bet one of them wet their pants when he showed them his guns.

When I was a kid, our only out-of-town family trips were to my dad's hometown in Reynoldsville, PA.  Things seemed so exotic up there.  People burned their trash in the back yard, called soda "pop" and knew everyone in town, plus everyone from the three previous generations.  My grandmother's boyfriend (for 50 years), Clutch, was a retired coal miner who owned a car wrecking company though my grandmother claimed he just "loafed" all day and spit.  He and my grandmother lived three miles apart and he came to her house daily for dinner and stayed to watch the news.  He would take my brother and I over to the junkyard and let us poke around some of the wrecks and get bottles of coke from the machine.  He took my brother for illicit rides on his dirt bike and only had Clark bars, beer and cheese in his refrigerator.  He taught us to play Black Jack for pennies and always offered my parents a shot and a piece of cheese when they came to watch the Pirates games.

I loved every minute of it.

And I'm so glad we got to visit my niece and SIL and her boyfriend who filled my kids heads with all kinds of intrigue and adventure.  And the cousins, who never see each other, warmed up and actually laughed and goofed around together.  We got to go the state fair and Jack sat on a cow, which rocked his little world.  And I almost entered a calf raffle, but then I saw the woman standing behind the cow catching its poop in a bucket and figured I'd stick to goldfish.

(here is Jack sitting on said cow)

I think that's the country girl that lives inside me somewhere.

We just don't get those velvet black skies down here in the NY metro.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I thought I deleted Barcelona.

Actually, I deleted Barcelona, Nice and VillaFrache, France.  Somehow I erased a memory card too soon. But, in my post-travel delirium, I made a copy on iphoto.  I have been primarily using Lightroom as my archiving, organizing program, but since iphoto opens every time I put in a memory card ("pick me! pick me!" it fairly shouts) I guess I imported there too.

Sorry for the vacation photos overkill, but I have thousands of photos and I have a few, ahem, new readers.  (Hi Mom! Hi Aunt Debbie!).  And so, more Barcelona.

But quickly, so I remember, a few observations.

* They do sell chocolate milk, but everyone looked at us askance when we asked for it cold.
* Sorry, second trip to Spain, and I'm still not a big fan of the food.  And this is from an anchovy lover.
* Spanish people dress their children beautifully.  Not that nylon/polyester track shorts and t-shirts from Target aren't chic.
* Spanish people were much nicer to us this trip -- it was all about the kids.
*Open air food markets are generally awesome. Better than restaurants.
* Europeans take much longer to eat.  I think my hair grew a bit waiting for the check sometimes.
* Kids don't have a language barrier with other kids.  Jack was in the playground talking to a little girl in English, she spoke to him in Spanish and they were still fast friends.
* I love a city that loves dogs.  I think it's because it reminds me of NYC.
* If you wear a Lands End tankini on a beach in Barcelona, you will feel like you are wearing a bathing suit from the roaring '20s compared to the women of all shapes and sizes somehow looking comfortable in two pieces or less.
* Spanish coffee (espresso) is as good as Italian.  And that is high praise.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Going to Europe with Kids.

Here's the thing.  You have to remember it's Europe with Kids and not Europe with your husband or your college friend and a backpack.  The agenda changes.  Cut back on the art museums, and think castles, cannons and daggers.  Instead of long espresso break in the cafe, think a few hours at the beach, whether you're prepared for that beach day or not.  More time in souvenir shops pricing out souvenir crap and less time in boutiques with espadrilles.  And you know, in the end, you realize you just saw the city in a different way, and that's part of the journey too.

It reminds me of something Bill Mahrer once said -- "Kids.  I don't want kids.  What?  Do you want to learn your colors again?"

Yes, Bill. I do.