Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coincidence?

This weekend I should have gone camping. Yes, you read correctly. Me and camping. A premiere for me :-)
I should have left tomorrow noon time and come back on Monday evening. I should have stayed with some friends of mine that are on a vacation in a camping on Lake Constance.
I really was looking forward to experience camping. To sleep in a tent. To swim in the lake (well, that not so much - I hate lakes! I don't ever go in the one that is just in front of my house!). Ok, so no swimming in the lake but to experience the outdoor life even if only for a day, that would have appealed to me.

Well, the weather apparently didn't want me to experience camping. Not fair. It will be sunny and hot until tomorrow afternoon (the weather forecast says so). Then they'll expect rain and locally even some storms - starting Sunday afternoon / night to Monday. From Tuesday on, the sun is shining again.

No, really, do you think that is fair? Could this be a coincidence (says me who doesn't believe in coincidences?).
Apparently, I am not ready to experience camping yet. Or maybe I am not adventurous enough? Oh well, thinking about it, that may be the reason why I haven't tried out camping yet. There is always the possibility of rain and the outdoor life while it's raining has NO appeal to me. None at all.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lazy Summer Days

Ever since I've been back from Italy, the weather has been wonderful and the temperatures high. I am enjoying these awesome summer days!
Hot summer days, though, do mean that my brain is not working as it usually does. I cope with my work in the office (although I have moved my office temporarely to my home because our office seems like an oven these days and honestly, who wants to work in an oven??). Luckily a lot of our clients are on holidays and work life is easy.
Besides office work I can't seem to do much more. I go out with friends. Read magazines and books. Work on my sun tan.
As I said: Lazy Summer Days.
I love them!

Santa Monica, Los Angeles, USA

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happiness

Do you know what makes me happy (amongst other things)?

Books.

Books do make me happy. Old books even more so. Therefore, when my landlady asked me if I wanted to have a look at the books of her recently deceased mother (they are clearing the house she lived in for 50 or more years), I was all for it!
Oh my. It was wonderful.
My landlady's mother was 99 years old when she passed away last February. 99 years of happiness - she was married to a nice man (he passed away some 8 years ago and apparently he always treated her like a princess), traveled the world, had four children, a nice house, many friends, liked books and music and her mind remained sharp. She lived in her own house until the end surrounded by her things. She was one lucky lady!
You can therefore imagine how varied her books were. And I was free to take as many as I wanted (nobody in the big family, apparently, was interested in her books).
I felt like a child on Christmas!
I found some really nice books about Art. Another one edited in 1961 by Life Magazine called "The Epic of Man" (it shows the greatness of human creativity). The most awesome one, though, is a 1937 edition of "Gone With The Wind" by Margaret Mitchell. Totally cool. Leather bonded and written in English (the lady read English as well!). 1037 pages in perfect condition. Wonderful. Owning this book is like Christmas and Birthday together :-)

PS: My landlady showed me her parents' photo books as well. Amazing. The couple traveled to China in the Seventies (imagine!!), to Africa and other places like Papa New Guinea, North America and all over Europe in times where others didn't even know what traveling meant! Amazing. I would have loved getting to know them and ask them how traveling was back then!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Italy

I love to travel. A lot. I love to go to new places, to discover new cities, to stroll through museums, to take pictures of unknown (to me) landscapes. I love to get ready for a trip (like right now with my upcoming US trip to Boston and Maine) and I love the aftermath of a trip (remembering, doing photo books, telling people about my adventures).

But once a year I don't travel. No, I am going on a vacation.
To Italy, of course.
To see my family.
To simply... de-connect.
I wake up in the morning and I know exactly how my day is gonna be. I lie in the sun and get a terrific suntan. I talk to people. I meet new people. I laugh a lot. I eat wonderful food. I simply enjoy myself.

This year's vacation wasn't any different. My cousin just got her third daugher (2 months old) and therefore I often went to the beach with only the two other girls (7 and 9 years old). Babies have other schedules, I discovered. On the beach I was introduced to everybody (my cousin being a real person person, she gets to know people really easy - contrary to me - I usually need a bit more time SMILE). I got a terrific suntan. I ate tasty fruits and ice cream (!). Other cousins came to visit me. I had dinner with people I hadn't seen in almost 5 years. I took swims with the girls. And I didn't even take ONE picture (the one above was taken at least 5 years ago - it's the view from my cousin's appartment).
It was wonderful!

Happy Holidays to everybody!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I'm Back

I'm back to the office after 7 days at the beach. I am sitting here, sun-tanned and rested. 7 days with no computer and almost no cell phone (just two phone calls: one to another cousin of mine and the second to my brother).

Wonderful.

I haven't been as rested as I am right now for a long time. My brain is empty of thoughts and my heart feels light and good.

Hope you had a wonderful time too. I will post some Italian stories in the next couple of days. Not today though. Today is for my soul to come back to everyday life :-)

PS: I spent these days with my cousin and her three girls (one of them is only two months old) doing almost nothing besides the usual household chores and some cooking. Going to the beach, reading, sun-bathing and taking swims with the girls doesn't count as "doing something" SMILE

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Off to Italy


I'm off to Italy tomorrow - off to an internet-free vacation (of 6 days)!
Happy Sunshine to Everybody :-)

Getting Ready for a Dance ... with Teenage Girls

S. (the older sister - see post of this morning) announced that she had invited some of her classmates to her house before the dance in order to get ready together (makeup, hair, dress). The dance started at 8 pm ("we are gonna be late, of course", she told me, "it's uncool to arrive on time."). The first girl arrived at 4.30 pm.

At first it was pretty relaxed. I had finished working and was enjoying a book sitting in the very nice garden of my friends' house (with a terrific view!). I heard no "squeaking" (you know, how only 14 year old girls can "squeak"), no hectic. The mood changed around 6 pm (when more and more girls dropped in - a total of 12 girls and three boys). They needed advice on what color to choose for their eye-makeup, which pants / shorts / skirt / dress to wear with which blouse / T-shirt etc. Advice on how to wear their hair (curled, straight, ponytail, braided) and in one case we even had to "stuff" some high heels with some paper because the shoes were to big.

I gave up reading my book :-) And managed the general excitement pretty good, I must admit (who'd have thought?), found a solution to everything.

At 7.30 pm the boys arrived and the mood changed drastically. The girls became more agitated (you know how we get when boys are around - this has nothing to do with age!) and were suddenly giddy with excitement!
I enjoyed myself pretty much, I must admit. I listened to their "problems" (the "fat" thing I was talking about in my earlier post? Omnipresent.), had to smile (inwardly only!) sometimes and enjoyed seeing them all dressed up, looking their best and feeling like divas! I felt proud like a mother hen :-)
They left at 8.30 pm (fashionably late) and M. (the younger sister) and I were ... left to clean up the house before the parents got back (very relaxed and rested) from their weekend in Istanbul. 
I don't have to mention that I was pretty tired afterwards, do I?

PS: I've received an SMS this morning telling me that the dance had been AWESOME.

PSS: I am glad not to be 14 any longer!

Shopping with Teenage Girls

Have you ever been shopping with four teenage girls? Well, I hadn't until last Saturday. It was ... memorable.

I was asked (and felt really honored to actually have been asked) if I could join the elder sister and her three BFF to the shopping mall. They all needed new outfits for a school dance (kind of a prom dance). I had nothing better to do (the younger was at a soccer tournament the whole afternoon) and therefore I agreed (I love shopping - teenage girls or not).

In the beginning the three other girls were a bit shy around me and couldn't figure out who I was (being much older and stuff) and why I had been asked to join the party. But S. (the elder sister) knows me well and she knows how good I am at giving advice on outfits. The others found out as well. Pretty fast, actually.

Image the scene at the changing room at Zara (don't forget to add the Saturday's buying frenzy in the shop because of Sales!). The four girls were each in a separate cabin, calling me back and forth to ask me if this dress makes her fat, if these pants make her legs look longer/shorter/fat, if this blouse goes with her eyes ... and if it makes her look fat (I found out that looking fat or being afraid of looking fat is THE issue with them).

10 shops or so later, two of them had found an outfit. All four were pretty tired (me as well!) and the two that hadn't found anything got really nervous and absolutely wanted to buy something. Anything. They got desparate. I had to explain that shopping at 10 minutes before shop closing was NEVER any good (one tends to buy something just ... to buy something). Luckily they listened to my advice (and went back shopping on Monday - one day before the dance - and found suitable outfits for the two others!).

Read about "getting ready for a dance with Teenage Girls" in my next post...


Teenage Girls

I just spent a long weekend with ... two teenage girls. My goddaughter (11 years old - almost 12) and her sister (14 - almost 15 years old) (please notice the almost part which is totally important at that age. I think it's funny how perspective/sense of time changes with life. Nowadays I am my actual age until the very last day before my new birthday hahaha). Their parents went to Istanbul for a short trip and asked me if I could babysit.

Let me say something to start with: my admiration goes out to all the parents of this world. All of them. I admire you profoundly!

Running a family is like running a small business. You have to think of 1000 things (and not to speak about cooking meals twice a day - how could you possibly think of something to eat that is healthy and varied twice a day? How could you? I definitively couldn't....). Let's NOT go into details but let me tell you that I found out that the notion of time (being in time, how long is it gonna take, etc.) is somehow deferred in a teenage mind. They totally live in the right now moment and everything RIGHT NOW is sooo totally important. And soooo totally urgent. And sooooo totally whatever (think of something - anything).

And let me say something else: I suddenly remembered how I was back then. Same same would Thai people say SMILE But, hey, never tell my mother that I told you that!!