31 August, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe........

When I was little I harbored an innate fear of revolving doors. Afraid of passing through too fast; terrified of being too slow. When walking through I could easily imagine the panel behind me speeding up and opening its jaws to reveal three rows of razor-sharp teeth.

This morning we were on our way into an office building and of course I entered through the regular door. S didn't. I had just gotten inside when I heard him screaming:


and turned around to see him lying on the floor caught in the revolving door. It had run him over and swallowed one of his feet; I could see his toes and the sole of his sandal sticking out in the neighboring section.

A man who had been standing outside smoking rushed in to help and together we pushed the door back in the other direction, freeing S, but running over his foot a second time in the process.

Luckily the office had a bathroom with a big sink. I filled it full of cold water and held his foot in it for about 10 minutes. We stopped by the doctor's office on the way home, but as Murphy would have it, it was closed for lunch.

By the time we got home S was totally calm, so I don't think he's broken anything. One side of his foot is blue and swollen but now that he's had some ibuprofen and a couple of hours have passed he seems to be able to walk on it OK.

So take this as a cautionary tale. Trust my instincts and avoid rotating doors at all costs. Just when you thought it was safe; The legend continues...

29 August, 2007

Need a laugh?

Davezilla posted a link today that will cut through even the most pernicious case of post-vacation blues! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

27 August, 2007

There's no place like home!

Aaah! It's good to be back! It's a real novelty to be able to shower without shoes on! The 12 hour drive back went pretty smoothly and we spent the rest of the weekend unpacking, cleaning the camper and doing load after load of toxic laundry.

We've been bitten by the camping bug, though-- the kids have two weeks before school starts and we're thinking of squeezing in one more quick trip before then.

It's been fun to be able to go through all of our pictures! There were so many that I wanted to share-- normally I just put them in a table in one post, but figured that it might be easier this time to insert them into the posts that they belonged with. That way the context is clear and no explanation would be needed. If you're interested you can just scroll down through the last three weeks of posts...

22 August, 2007

Road trips...

It turns out M was as campground claustrophobic as I was on Monday. Shortly after I posted we hopped into the car and drove to Grožnjan, which is in a hilly area inland to the east of here. The buildings in Grožnjan date back to the 1100's, but by the early 20th century it had fallen into ruin. In the 1960s many of the houses were given to artists who christened Grožnjan a "Town of Arts" and lovingly restored the buildings and the protective wall around the city.

The result is beautiful— it has a charm and an elegance that a lot of other villages in the area lack. It’s full of galleries and boutiques, but isn’t tacky in any way. The cobblestone streets are bordered by plants with fragrant flowers and soft cello music spilled out of an open window. We sat out on an open air terrace under some trees and enjoyed a very nice, simple supper.

Yesterday we traveled out east again and explored Krk, the largest island in the Adriatic region. The island itself is funny—when you cross over a bridge from the mainland you feel like you’ve landed on the moon. It’s covered in small beige pebbles and there are no trees—only a bit of scrubbrush dots the landscape.

There is more vegitation further inland, however, but local farmers have to build stone walls to keep the wind from destroying their vineyards. The main city is at the very southern tip of the island and the old center dates back to 1100 AD!

We also visited Punat, which is a pretty little town with an international Marina on the southern coast of Krk. Then we traveled briefly to Cres, a neighboring island, and then took a ferry back to the mainland. It was nice to be active and on a new adventure.

Today we had lunch at the local marina. Last week when we were there B was walking around looking at all of the interesting things that people were eating. At one point he came to a table where a man was eating a plate full of mussels. Despite his Belgian roots B had never seen mussels before! The guy saw him staring and said: “Would you like one?” and popped one into his mouth! He loved it!

Since then he cannot stop thinking about mussels. Today he was determined to eat a plate full of them. It was such a pleasure to watch him eat—he enjoyed it in a way only B can. He is our full-sensory kid. He examined them from all sides; smelled them with and without lemon; felt their texture with his fingers and tongue and commented on the nice sound the empty shells made when he dropped them into the bowl. He savored them with every fiber of his being in a way that I rarely take the time to do.

Now we’re back. The kids are out riding their bikes and I think I am going to go warm up my lawn chair. We have just heard that it’s 17°C in Köln. *shudder* I’m looking forward to getting back home but am really going to miss this weather!!! This is probably the first time in almost 15 years that I’ve missed anything about Florida!

20 August, 2007


Early this morning I was wrenched from the depths of sleep by a woman calling loudly to her children right outside my window. I summoned up every bit of evil energy I could muster and beamed it in her direction. Within two minutes it started lighting and thundering. Within five it was pouring rain.

How cool is that!?

Now if only I could learn to harness this energy and somehow use it on my children…

There are no words to describe the Crazy Cars Auto Motor Show yesterday evening. Or there are, but they’re along the lines of “terrifying” and “panic-inducing”, which doesn’t adequately describe the horror I felt during most of the 100 minutes it lasted.

I suppose I should have realized it was not my kind of show during the warmup, in which we were introduced to “Big Sven” and his unicycle. Big Sven was missing about half his teeth, presumably due to some less successful tricks on the asphalt. To his credit, he only fell in front of us once, but then it was hard enough to break the hurdle he was trying to jump over. Shortly thereafter he grabbed a somewhat dazed-looking toddler and cycled around with him on his shoulders…

The show consisted of various stunts using motorcycles and quads. The star was erratic and wired; gave the impression that he'd survived the last three days on nothing more than cigarettes and amphetamines. He wore no helmet and performed a few tricks in which he hung by his knees 30 meters above the asphalt with no safety cord and no net.

I have to admit that the stunts were impressive. But often in a sort of disagreeable, toe-curling kind of way. I was convinced that I would be able to link to a YouTube clip today—one which would bear the tags “fatal” and “accident” and maybe even “spectators crushed in rollover incident”.

When we left the grass in front of our bleachers was on fire from an accidental gasoline spill and the daredevil star had ended his last trick by limping off the field amidst a flurry of (supposed) paramedics and a clown in a curly rainbow-colored wig...

Tomorrow we’re planning to visit Ljubliana. Slovenia is only about 30km to the north and we were really impressed with what we saw on the way here.

That’s good, because I’m really needing a change of scene. It’s time to flee the hoards of sweaty tourists with their tacky fake tattoos, their tight Playboy T-shirts and their skin which has been cooked to the color and texture of bacon. I’m starting to chafe at the lines for the shower and the baker and the sound of our neighbor’s voice as he describes his latest blackout due to copious amounts of Ouzo and Brandy…

It’s stopped raining but the sky is still leaden and threatening. Time to close this down and go mine the guidebook for some kind of indoor diversion. Otherwise I can’t be responsible for what I might do next with the lightning and the thunder…

**Crazy Cars photo courtesy of Show-connection.com

18 August, 2007

Playing peeping tom before the monster truck rally

We’ve been a bit less ambitious the last couple of days. It’s hot and humid—in the mornings we move faster but slow down as the day wears on. We’re spending a lot of time at the pool—B is swimming like a fish and S has suddenly learned how to dive and tread water!

Despite our snail’s pace we’ve still had some very memorable moments. We ate an excellent dinner at a local marina on Wednesday. The whole restaurant is outside, with just a roof overhead. There was a bonfire in the middle with a kettle of corn boiling and live music sung by a honey-voiced singer who somehow successfully blended Schlager music with “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”!

I am addicted to Fuži—had it this time in a truffle sauce and count this meal among the best I’ve ever had.

Yesterday morning we got up early and took a hike before it got too warm. We left the campground and followed several trails through orchards and vineyards. About 2,5 km into it we realized that we were lost—came around a bend and suddenly we could see the sea stretching out in front of us in a long glistening ribbon. AHA! The sun is there, the sea is there—the campground should be over here to the left! What a relief! We followed the fence and were looking for the gate when suddenly S whispered:

“HEY Mom! They’re NAKED!”

Yep. After all my jokes and smartass comments we’d finally arrived at the noodle camp. I was all for popping in for a cup of coffee but it got vetoed. It was starting to get very hot and the quickest way back to our camper was to walk along the perimeter of the camp, conspicuously clothed. And I was just waiting for security to nab us so that we could say:

“But we were lost! Yeah, that's it! We just happened to stumble upon this place on the way back to our campsite!”

This morning a neighbor came over with a plastic tub: “Would your boys like a pet?” Inside he had a praying mantis. Those things are enormous! It had a face like an alien and swiveled its head back and forth, alert and watchful. Almost licking its lips and planning which of us it was going to behead first. (Supposedly they only do that to their partners after a mating ritual but I wasn’t about to take any chances!)

A new family has just arrived with a Hungarian Vizsla. I’m completely obsessed with these dogs. They’re muscular, with narrow pointed heads and tawny coats. This one has yellow-green eyes and looks otherworldly. I’ve been lobbying M for one—preferably the one two trailers down. All day long I’ve been fantasizing about spiriting him away on the morning that we leave. If the police contact any of you at some point YOU! KNOW! NOTHING!

This afternoon we visited the Jama Baredine, which are caverns just outside Poreč. There are stairways built down 60+ meters deep and we saw an interesting array of stalactites, stalagmites and other bizarre rock formations. It reminded me a lot of other caverns we’ve visited but this one had a bonus—a limpid white eyeless salamander that slithered around in a shallow pool at the bottom of the steps. It was repulsive and fascinating.

Tomorrow we’ll be going to some sort of monster truck rally in Poreč. I feel like I’ve come full circle—Florida girl goes back to her roots and shows her Southern pride in the grandstands. Time to dig out my Daisy Mae shorts and do my hair up in pigtails. I just hope they’re well stocked with corn dogs and Pabst Blue Ribbon…