The Matterhorn Says Good Morning

When you stay the night at Fluhalp, you can wake up to a view like this. Pretty darn spectacular!


The Matterhorn above the morning clouds.


Up Close in the Uffizi

This month I had the joy of returning to Florence, one of my favorite Italian cities. I even got to spend an entire afternoon in the Uffizi! Talk about bliss!

Art is so inspiring. While I do enjoy creating music and word/photo collages, I’m not so talented with paintbrushes. Usually when I go to a museum and stand in front of a painting, I take in the whole experience. Just absorb the whole, reflect, then move on.

This time, I decided to change my perspective and focus on details I’d never paid much attention to in the past. It was fun and challenging to admire some of my favorites in a different way. Up close and personal. In honor of this new-found focus, I thought we could play a short game of Name That Painting! Good luck!

Exhibit A:

Can you name this Botticelli painting?

Can you name this painting? And its artist?

Exhibit B:

Can you name this painting? And its artist?

Can you name this painting? And its artist?

Exhibit C:

Can you name this painting? And its artist?

Can you name this painting? And its artist?

Aaaand… go! 🙂


Update: answers are in the comments!

Harry Quebert

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (original title: La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert) is a present-day masterpiece. Author Joël Dicker is truly a genius.

His book follows author Marcus Goldman, an author at a loss for inspiration for his second book. His college professor and mentor is accused of a 30-year-old murder, so Goldman returns to small town, New Hampshire, to restore his friend’s name. He conducts his own investigation, which becomes the subject of his book.

There are so many things I like about this book. One of them is the depth of Dicker’s characters: each one of them is complex. I really enjoy books that explore true human nature instead of painting one person as “good” and another as “bad”… because really, life is more nuanced than that.

Another is the plot. As I was reading, I would hypothesize about where the book was going. Sometimes I was right, and sometimes I wasn’t. It was refreshing not to be able to guess everything but oh-so-rewarding when I could say, I knew it!

Perhaps my favorite part is the ending. Without giving too much away, I remain blown away by Dicker’s ability to redeem nearly every character involved. Quite honestly, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful ending.

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommending finding a copy NOW!!

Lost Your Name?

So, I’m gonna switch gears here. No vacation talk – I want to show you a fun new book find!

As a kid, one of my favorite gifts from my grandparents was a personalized book that had me as a character! So, for some of my favorite kids here, I wanted to give them the same type of gift. And I turned to the Internet for different options.

Since this gift was for boy/girl twins, I didn’t want too much competition or comparison (if I got one of them a Mickey book, for example, the other would be jealous). That made choosing a bit more… particular. But I found the perfect books to personalize for those two special kids in my life.

I invite you to explore !

The idea around these books is that *the child* loses his/her name and goes on an adventure to collect all the letters. Along the way, he/she meets different animals that give them a letter. Elephant gives E, Lion gives L, etc. Each child’s book is different because different letters make up their name (don’t worry about double letters, the creators have it covered)! Such a clever idea, and such a fun adventure for kids to enjoy!

Docastaway Experience, Part Four

Previous posts have introduced you to our surroundings, but I haven’t talked much about what we actually did during our time on the “Marooning” island. Today’s topic: eating.

Preparing dinner. Covered up to deter the 'squites.

Preparing dinner. Covered up to deter the ‘squites.

The idea was that this vacation would be part survival and part relaxation in isolation. In practice, this meant that although we were on our own private beach, no food was provided for us (except clean drinking water and ice for the cooler that was delivered every few days).

Man admires his fire

Man admires his fire

Before we left, we envisioned fishing and collecting fruit and going to a nearby market to buy rice and maybe some veggies. We could cook on the gas burner provided for us, or else we’d just rough it and make our own fires. Just to make sure we had enough to eat, we did pack some quinoa, pasta, black beans, red beans, canned tuna, canned other stuff, a sauce, a bottle of mixed herbs+salt, a bottle of syrup to have flavored water, and a package of gummy sour fish for when we needed a sugar fix.

Actually, what we had envisioned didn’t turn out to be our reality, but that’s the fun of adventure travel! There had been a brutal typhoon the previous year that had downed the fruit trees (with the exception of the coconut trees), so collecting fruit was a no-go. That just meant buying more at the market. We were provided with a spear gun as fishing gear, but the fish were too small to be had by this method. So that meant buying some at the market, as well.

So, this market. Where was it? How did we get there? Continue reading

Docastaway Experience, Part Three

And we’re back to meet our land neighbors!

The crab was killed with a shovel. The spider left on its own accord.

There were also some animals that we didn’t get in a picture: a family of shy monkeys, fireflies, mosquitoes, and lots of beautiful tropical birds.

These all lived on our private beach. What a change from having human neighbors!

Docastaway Experience, Part Two

We avoided big jellyfish like this one...

We avoided big jellyfish like this one…

So… jellyfish! Yes, we found more! My leg even found some tentacles once… but no real harm done.

Instead of chronicling the day-by-day of this vacation (which could get super tedious for all of us), each post will have its own theme. Part Two’s theme: the underwater fauna of our Docastaway “Marooning” adventure. If you’re just tuning in, you can see the first vacation posts here and here.

So, you’ve met the jellyfish. I’d like to introduce you to more of the aquatic neighbors we met while castaways on our private island paradise. First up:

This one is an obvious one. Fish. We found these striped creatures enjoying the gunboat wreck, chilling in anemone while we were scuba diving, hiding under rocks… any time we were in the water, we were joined by fish.

Can you spot the ray among the coral?

Can you spot the ray among the coral?

Next, we have the lovely ray. We only saw this one, but he was beautiful with blue spots on his back. He must have loved the camera, because he came out of hiding when we got out our camera, and swam a bit in circles for his paparazzi before going back to his shadows (which you can see on the left). Very elegant.

Starfish bed.

Starfish bed.

There were also a lot of beautiful starfish. Most of them were white like the ones in the background in this picture, but we also found this dark orange one while we were kayaking at low tide one day near the end of our stay.

Another day, while we were on a kayak trek around the entire island, we saw a sea turtle between our kayaks. I was so excited! But alas, he gracefully and quickly swam away before we could even get out the camera. No photo to prove we saw him; you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Beautiful patterns in the clams.

Beautiful patterns in the clams.

My favorite creature under the sea was this beauty: the clam. I was always drawn to the bright colors, and I love the way they stand out against their surroundings.

Well, there you have it! That about wraps it up for the underwater animals we saw during our snorkeling, diving, and kayaking adventures. Tune in next time for the above-water creatures!