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March 2017

Back To The Usual Tourist Stuff

There's this famous tower nearby in a town called Pisa. You may have heard of it. It leans. We went to see it on Monday. Some of us climbed up. Some of did not and were cranky.




Then the crankiness as children younger than 8 cannot ascend the tower...


So we went into the cathedral to look for skulls and to light candles and make good wishes for the world. 


For the tower climbers, the view was spectacular.


Harper did get to run on the grass, she liked that part.


After the tower we drove to the ocean, Il Mediteraneo. 



later we grabbed a bite and I liked this handsome fellow hanging on the balcony next door.


A good day out!


Meet Apple, My Badass Daredevil Of A Daughter

I'll get to the Apple part at the end...

Kurt and his brother went to Rome for three days. Harper and I stayed behind to chill in/around Lucca. We went to a zoo yesterday (another unexpected treat) and today we went to the Pinocchio Park in Collodi. I've never read the book, only seen the Disney movie, which, honestly, is quite creepy and disturbing. Puppets turning into boys? Boys turning into Donkeys? Talking crickets? W E I R D. But hey, let's go to a park in honor of Pinocchio. The author was born in Collodi, hence the connection. 

I'd read that it's a funky old fashioned little park but good for an outing. Little did I know what modern updates awaited! we got there around 11 and it had been raining a little so it was pretty empty. There was a school group as well, maybe 3rd graders, and they made a lot of noise, so it didn't feel totally empty. We walked in to the area with little rides and met Pinocchio himself. Kind of. I mean, he was dressed as Pinocchio and waved at the school kids as Pinocchio, but he also had the key for the three little rides and helped you on and pushed the start button. So. 


Harper tried all three rides. They are hilarious in their antiquity and (lack of) speed.

First she tried the cars - not bad! I love the design of all these vehicles. 

Then the carousel. Uh... yeah. Not really her speed. 

Then the boats. Harper seemed really unclear on why these rides were so (let's be honest) lame.

Then we moved on to a play place with stuff to climb and a fun little mini-zipline thing. Little did we know it was a foreshadow of bigger things to come!

Then we had a snack and then watched a puppet show - all in Italian of course - but we were surrounded by 30 school kids who laughed and howled and shouted at the puppets. I didn't take a picture, but it was a plywood box with a window and some red "curtains" and one guy doing two hand puppets at a time. It was the story of Pinocchio with Geppetto and Pinocchio at the start, up to the point of where Pinocchio has run away and the Fox and Cat show up. Then it ends...Uh, okay! Now, that part took about 20 minutes, so thank goodness it ended, because OMG.

Anyway....then we grabbed a sandwich and a popsicle. Harper fit right in with the kids eating their ice cream. I loved that.


After frozen treats we walked through the mini forest filled with sculptures of characters from the book - but not happy Disneyesque type sculpture with color or joy. No, these were like 1970's retro Post WW 2 Neorealism commentary on life. This is the statue of the Blue Fairy, which Harper clearly dug, so what the hell do I know?


But there were fun little secret paths and then you end up at/in the whale! Check that fab 70's Italian Design!




After the whale, in which you go into the mouth, then climb up a spiral staircase out the blow hole, then down some back stairs, there was a small hedge maze. We cranked through that pretty well. 

Then. Then we got to the brand new adventure portion of the creaky old park. There are two parts - a smaller Ship thing for the kids to walk around, balance beams, swinging mini bridges, etc. All while on a harness and clipped onto cable. It's for ages 5 - 14 and Harper wanted ON! So I signed our lives away and she got buckled in and had instructions on how to clip in and out - made simple for kids.


And she was off!


Just freaking going for it. 


Please note, I am far away - there is nobody else out there, no safety person, no monitor, nothing! Just my five year old daughter who clearly has been waiting for this opportunity for ages...(click for bigger)


But that was part 1. Part 2 is across the river. Over a swinging bridge. Harper, do you want to go? Yes. But the wire to hold onto is pretty high, do you think you can reach it? Yes. You have to swing across the river to come back, is that okay? Yes. I can't go with you, just the safety woman, still want to go? Yes.


I wasn't afraid she would get hurt, I was only afraid she might get all the way over and halfway through that course and something would scare her. I mean, there are times on a regular playground in LA where she asks for my help. But this??? She was on her own. And damn if she didn't freaking do it all. 

Then the big finish! No hesitation, she just went! ZIP!

When she landed, she did look a bit pale, and I said are you okay? She nodded then smiled and I burst into tears and hugged her and told her how proud I was of her! She is my BADASS DAREDEVIL GIRL!

Then she want back to the ship 2 more times. She didn't want to do the zip again...fair enough. For the rest of the hour I hugged her and said how amazed and proud I was of her. DAMN!

At the end, there was a coloring place and the Blue Fairy (a young woman in a cheesy costume - Cheesy withe a capital Cheese) made her a little fairy wand to color. She asked her name and I had to say Harpe. P. Har--p -- er. And we got this: 



Holy crap what a day. 








Already Losing Track of The Days!

But that's easy to do on vacation, no matter what! Uncle Glenn arrived the other morning and while Kurt when to pick him up in Florence, Harper and I were busy walking through town, seeing the sites, and taking pictures. 




We walked past this tower with trees growing out of it and later that day, climbed up!



Anfiteatro in the background...


After lunch [dopo pranzo] Harper helped me withy my espresso.


I love being here with Harper and watching her just do her thing. I also love when she notices other kids doing something totally normal for here but out of the ordinary in LA - like drink right from spigots! 


That's my little Bambina! 

Instant Images

Oh the joys of the instant picture. Not the digital image on your phone, but the physical image you can hold in your hand. We bought Harper an Instax camera for this trip and she carries it when we go out and about. I let her take one roll a day (10 pics) and never tell her what to shoot. Here are two of my favorites:

(I ask her what she wants to call them, then note it on each pic.)


(as she was taking it)




This is one of my all time favorite pictures. 


Just Don't Do It

You may have seen them in magazines. You might have thought - dang, that looks cool and when I need to replace my regular old stupid toilet, I'm going to do something extraordinary. 

Before you do it, call me. Call me and ask, "What was it like? For 3 weeks?" and I will tell you "Thank god we had a 2nd bathroom." 

SQUARE TOILETS ARE CRAP! Seriously. There is a reason toilets are round. Don't argue, don't try to be "cool" or "fashionable". Just go with the usual thing because it is "standard" for a very good reason.*


*Your ass is round! All our asses are round!

Benvenuti a Lucca!

Okay the picture says Florence, nevermind. Benvenuti all the same! We are on our amazing long trip to Lucca, Italy! We arrived yesterday after long travels, discovering, (so far, knock wood) that Harper is a great little traveler. So pleased about that.

(As ever, you can click on the pictures for bigger images.)

FullSizeRender 2

Distractions during flight.



Got our rental car - Harper named it "Dynamo" - though it's not as speedy as all that...


First Gelato! I think I'll start a new blog called "Sempre Gelato" (Gelato, always).


Harper took our picture with her camera: I love it!


Next day we went to the walls!


Found a cool playground (which I suspect we'll visit often):


Also, we rented one of these four-wheeled bike dealies. Mistake...! It looks fun, but it's only really fun for Harper. (Even though she didn't want to smile, so maybe it was not as much fun for her as we thought.)





(They are illegal in the US, fyi.)



Love that smug half smile -- "Anytime I want, people. Any. Time. I. Want."


So much more to come!








The Crow And The Crepe Myrtle Tree

CrowEvery morning for about a week now, a crow has come to our crepe myrtle tree. She hops around on the branches, looking for just the right twig. When she finds it, she snaps it off and flies away. A while later, she'll be back for more.

I've never noticed this before. Then again, every spring before now - when Myrtle was still bare from winter - I didn't have this direct vantage to witness the twig gathering.

Are the twigs suddenly pumped with spring life and therefore the crow needs to pick them now? Not when they are on the ground and dead? Does Ms. Crow pick twigs from other Myrtles in the neighborhood or just ours? (I ask, selfishly.) Does she pick twigs from other types of trees that are in their pre-spring nakedness? 

I assume Ms. Crow is building a strong nest to lay her eggs and I wish her and her new family well. 

She can have all the twigs she needs from Myrtle. I just wish I could fly with her and see the progress.