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Tuesday Travels: Herculaneum

One of the days we stayed in Naples, John and I decided to get brave and use some of our free time to take the train to the nearby town of Ercolano to view the ancient ruins of Herculaneum. We caught the early train, so we could arrive at opening "to avoid the crowds." The rain did a good job of keeping the (albeit, off-season) crowds at bay, but our early arrival on an inclement morning did assure that we toured an almost-empty city.

You may not have heard about Herculaneum; everyone seems to know about Pompeii, but Herculaneum also fell victim to Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. According to our tour guide, Herculaneum was a more upscale town. At the very least, it utilized a sewer system that went under the streets, as opposed to the above-ground, free-flowing waste that traveled the streets of Pompeii. 

Another major difference between the two cities is that Pompeii was covered with ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, but Herculaneum was buried in mud. Because of the mud, air co…

Ten Things of Thankful: It's SPRING!

Jumping right into the list today:

1. It is officially spring! No matter that snow might fall on Saturday; the plants know that soon it will be safe to bloom.

2. Oldest daughter has graced our life for another year. Happy birthday! 

3. Two nice walks with my neighbor. 

4. Learning about, and attending, an exercise class at the church. Before the class started, the instructor explained that the class was like "old-school aerobics from the 80's but updated." Whenever there were vintage moves (grapevine, anyone?), my muscle memory took over. Whenever we were supposed to be doing updated moves, I was the awkward, uncoordinated person who was at least a step behind what everyone was doing. The good news is, I'm the oldest person there! I'm comfortable in my own uncoordinated skin, and even if I was concerned about what anyone thought, I think they would just be impressed an old person was trying. It's a nice group of women. (And I feel like I rocked the grapevine!)

5. …

Tuesday Travels: Frenetic Naples

Last week, I shared my peaceful vacation day in Como with you. Today, we'll head south to Naples. Both cities are in Italy, but they are as different as night and day. 

Naples has a palpable energy. Even in the off-season of January, pedestrians, scooters, and cars fill the streets. If there is space to go, you go, regardless of your transportation method. 



As I reviewed my photos from Naples, I realized that I didn't have any really good photos of the traffic on the narrowest streets, and any photos I had of traffic at all were taken while I was a passenger on a bus. That might be an indication of how vigilant I was as a pedestrian! 

Naples is much more than just traffic, though. The pulse of the city is not so much of tourists (at least not in January), but of locals. Friends meet together to visit, shop, and dine. Small shops fill the narrow alleyways. 

An entire street is dedicated to stores that sell nativities, or presepe. The thing that makes the Italian presepe stand out f…

Ten Things of Thankful: Mid-March Edition

Earlier this week, snowflakes fell from the sky. Today, sunshine is streaming down as if winter never happened. Such is March. I'm itching to get outside and plant things, but also recognize it might be a tad bit early yet. Fortunately, there are plenty of other outside chores that need my attention.  I'm going to leave my computer right now and go soak up some Vitamin D. Excuse me while I head outside.  I'll be back before you know it!

(Told you so!) Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

Things I Have Accomplished

I've transplanted all of my African violets into matching pots, and I love how the colors work with the other items in the room.
I found cute Mickey and Minnie planters at an antique store. (Antique isn't quite descriptive of all the items--the planters were dated 1997!) Anyway, I bought them on impulse. My accomplishment wasn't in the purchase, though, but in the way I was able to accessorize them with colorful fake plants. I was surprised at …

Six Sentence Story: Flash

Linking up again with the Six Sentence Story blog hop. Go check out the other stories! This week's prompt: flash.

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Upon entering the split-level house for the first time, she thought it very odd that the stairs led up to the bedroom hallway, instead of the light-filled living room, but even the strange floor plan could not deter her and her husband from purchasing the otherwise-perfect-for-their-family home. 

They did want to do something to brighten the dim entryway, though, so she purchased 100-watt bulbs to replace the two 40-watt spot lights that hung on the track on the vaulted ceiling. He got out the tallest ladder he owned, she steadied it while nervously hoping he didn't fall, and he managed to replace the bulbs without incident. When he flipped the switch back on, they were rewarded with a bright, cheery light--that is, until the humming sound, flash, and explosion of glass. 

They escaped injury, but learned the valuable lesson…

Tuesday Travels: Calm Como

Early in our vacation to Italy, we visited the lakeside town of Como. We had no idea at that point in our trip how much Como would stand in contrast to Naples. In a future post, I'll try to convey the almost-tangible energy that is in Naples, but first, let's relax in Como.

We started our day with a boat tour of part of Lake Como. The driver pointed out villas owned by the rich and famous and locations where movies were shot. I couldn't keep the names and villas straight, but I did enjoy the beautiful scenery. 




The temperature was brisk, but it wasn't raining (nor snowing!) I very much enjoyed time on the lake, and I also enjoyed the couple of hours we spent exploring the town of Como after the boat ride.

We tried to visit the Volta Museum, but it was closed at the time we were there, so we spent our time just wandering through cute little old cobblestone streets.



I loved the big old doors, with smaller doors cut out in them. I imagine the entire doors would be very heavy …

Ten Things of Thankful: It's All Relative Edition

Though last week's TToT was filled with many things about RootsTech, this week, everything is relative!

1. I'm thankful that we live close enough to family to visit "just because." Sunday night, John and I spent the evening with his parents. We showed them some of our Italy photos, and we ate lemon pie that John's dad had made. 

2. I'm thankful that it's convenient for my youngest daughter and I to get together. Every time I drop Drexel off for his monthly bath appointment (whether he needs it or not! haha), I swing by and pick up my daughter for a quick brunch. We get together more than once a month, but it's nice to have that standing date.

3. I'm thankful that John's sister invited us to go with her and her husband to a Utah Jazz game on Monday night. Even though the Jazz lost a game that up until the end of the 4th quarter it appeared they would win handedly, it was still enjoyable. Once again, I am reminded of how nice it is to live close to…

Six Sentence Story: Novel

My dad was a junior high school science teacher, and I knew he was famous. Anywhere we went around town, current and former students would greet him. They were happy to see him, but they always asked how Richard was doing. My dad's name is not Richard. 

When I learned that "novel" was the prompt word for this week's Six Sentence Story, it didn't take long for me to select a topic:

I might only be 9-1/2 years old, but as soon as I saw the flier advertising the public library's upcoming pet show, I knew I had a fighting chance to earn a prize. Sure, I could take my goofy black lab, Prince, but those obedience school lessons had taught me that he and I were in about the same weight class, and if he wanted to go visit another dog, I would end up with sore arms (at the minimum) trying to keep him under control. No, better to go with a different pet, one that could be carried and that wasn't prone to visit other animals. 

While technically Richard was my dad's…

Tuesday Travels: Milan Cathedral

Our introduction to Italy began in Milan. We arrived at the Milan airport on the morning of January 20, after a red-eye flight. We had just enough time to check into the hotel before our tour began. That first day was a bit of a blur!

One of our first stops was to the cathedral, or duomo. It is the largest duomo in Italy. (St. Peter's Basilica is bigger, but it is in Vatican City, which is separate from Italy.) 


Once we got through security, we entered the building. A priest was leading mass, but the duomo easily held both tourists and parishioners. 


Our guide pointed out a very detailed sculpture of St. Bartholomew. She said that sculptures helped teach muscular systems before dissections were allowed. 


Our visit to the duomo in Milan was a good introduction to how we would feel during the rest of our vacation in Italy: overwhelmed and awed. We tried to soak in as much architecture, art, and history as we could.

Monday Mention: Digital Public Library of America

As I mentioned in a previous post, last week I attended RootsTech, a major genealogical conference. I spent my days absorbing new information, and learning about available resources to help me learn more about my ancestors. I thought I'd share one of those resources with you today. 

The Digital Public Library of America  holds an enormous collection of "images, texts, videos, and sounds from across the United States," according to their home page. I started typing in surnames of my ancestors, and it didn't take long before I found something interesting. When I typed in "Telfer," one of the results that came up was labeled, "Fowler and Telfer families at Fowler's Prairie, Juneau County, 1898." It is an old photo of a large family gathering, but even better, it has a list of names of the people in the photo!  I know that my Telfer line was living in Juneau county, Wisconsin, at that time period, and I recognize some of the names listed. I will ne…

Ten Things of Thankful: In Like a Lion Edition

"In like a lion, and out like a lamb," is the motto for March, and so far, it seems to be holding true. The photo above was taken this morning; the yard has no bare spots now. While the snow swirls around outside, let's take a look back at this past week:

1. I'm thankful to be feeling much better. The hacking-until-my-sides-ache-and-tears-roll-down-my-face has subsided to the occasional, not-so-alarming cough. I told the church choir director I'd even show up for practice tomorrow, and Monday, I plan to start exercising again. It's been so ridiculously long since I've run, I'm going to have to start with a couch-to-5K training program. Sadly, my recently-adopted fitness plan hasn't really done much for my stamina (nor my physique, either, to be honest!)

2. I'm thankful for sweet new friends who have offered help over the past weeks. One offered to share a pot of soup she had made. (I doubt she realized I don't eat meat, so I thanked her, but…

Tuesday Travels: Pisa Postscript

I knew this would happen: I would publish a post, then realize that I had forgotten to mention something amazing. I recently wrote about our visit to Pisa, but I failed to share with you the incredible acoustics that are found in the baptistery. Listen to the video below. One man is able to sound like a small choir due to the way the sound reverberates.



Monday Mentions: Shoe Sponge

On my recent trip to Italy, I discovered something that some of you are probably already familiar with, but I was not. Our vacation was taken with a tour group, and the tour guide booked much fancier hotels than we probably would have on our own. A couple of those hotels provided a shoe sponge, in addition to the regular amenities. 

Now, I know that shoe polish bottles come with little sponges on the end, but these sponges were meant to be used without polish. I was so delighted to find that a quick rub left shoes shiny and spot-free! After doing lots of walking in the rain and snow, it was nice to be able to at least start the next day with a fresh-looking pair of shoes.

I'm thankful for new-to-me discoveries. Have you ever used a shoe sponge?

Ten Things of Thankful: Coughing my Way to a Beach-Body

As you may have gathered from my last TToT, I've been fighting the crud for several weeks now.  John mentioned recently that I have now been sick longer than we were in Italy. There really ought to be a rule against that, I think. However, I am getting better, andI have discovered that coughing really works the abdominal muscles.

You have probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. It also helps trigger coughing fits, which in turn, results in the equivalent of 100 crunches per episode. No need to feel sorry for me, though; I'm developing my own P90X-like workout routine. 

So, if you, too, are ready to tone up, read on! Listen to your body; you may want to start with gentle laughter before trying the full-blown coughing fit method. (*Disclaimer--always consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine. Proceed at your own risk!)

1. As indicated in the title of this post, I'm thankful for my new-found dedication to an abs workout. It's like something just come…

Ten Things of Thankful: Sometimes Exciting, Sometimes Boring, Always Thankful

I teach the 10-year-olds at church. Our class meets while the younger kids are meeting together for singing time. When our class time is over, we go to singing time and the younger children have class time. Today, as my class was leaving the room and the little kids were coming in, one of the boys announced, "It smells like vacation in here!" Apparently I still smell like Italy. 😄

Sometimes, I have exciting posts to share, like the posts about vacation. Other times, like this week, my life seems rather dull. However, there is always something to be thankful for, so let's jump right into this week's Ten Things of Thankful:
1. I am SO thankful I wasn't sick while I was on vacation. I know some in our group were not feeling well, and each day that I continue to cough and just generally feel run-down, I feel badly that some people felt this way while on vacation. 
2. I am also thankful that I'm not chronically sick. So many people battle chronic problems. This is n…

Six Sentence Story: Milestone

Each week, Denise hosts the Six Sentence Story blog hop. Each week, she comes up with a new prompt, and each week, bloggers post their short stories. I don't always join in, but I've never regretted participating. This week's prompt: milestone. 

One day made all the difference. Yesterday, she had been young and carefree, but now, a new phase of life beckoned. She couldn't wrap her mind around the passage of time; though the previous years comprised her entire life, they had gone by so quickly. Did everyone else feel the same way?Though other milestone birthdays would come and go, it would be 90 years until a similar birthday came. Acquiring that second digit in her age gave her a sense of maturity; she could only imagine how old she would feel when she turned 100!

Tuesday Travels: Pisa is More than Forced Perspective

"Did you see the Leaning Tower of Pisa?" more than one person has inquired upon hearing that I recently visited Italy. The tower is an iconic symbol, but before my vacation, I couldn't tell you too much about it, other than the fact that it leans. 

It is the bell tower for the cathedral in Pisa. 



A baptistery stands across from the cathedral, or duomo. Our guide told us that in the early years, a person needed to be baptized before being allowed into the cathedral. 


Built in medieval times, the tower started leaning almost immediately after construction started. Several attempts were made to straighten it, but to no avail. In recent years, the tower has been stabilized, and visitors are allowed inside to climb the crooked stairs. 


We climbed many different bell towers and duomos during our time in Italy, but the experience of climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa was unique. About half of the time, the climb felt extraordinarily difficult, and the other half, it didn't even…