Number of days without a bike theft – 377-393
Days since it last rained – 0
Where have I been for these few weeks? Where haven’t I been, really?
First there was the vacation to Umbria, where we wandered throughout hill towns all over the region, tiny little places that look pretty much the same as they have for literally over a thousand years.
Getting there wasn’t exactly easy, we arrived at the airport to discover that I had forgotten a necessary piece to attach the car seat to the stroller base. Stroller? Useless.
So we found a luggage storage space below the airport and left the stroller behind for a week choosing to rely on the carrier, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.
After our arrival in Rome, we got on another train to head into the countryside. We never could have gotten on board with that stroller, and it was the first of many places we never could have headed with it.
The hill towns of Umbria are steep precarious places never meant for cars – or strollers for that matter. Many of the streets are actually staircases. These places have been around a long time, and will continue to be that way.
Then there was a week of recovery. And the Kitten enjoyed her first Fourth of July, which here was marked by an outfit, and not much else – the Europeans don’t tend to acknowledge America Day.
Again, the trip wasn’t without issue. I was traveling alone with a pack on my back and a baby on my front, arriving at the train station to collect my tickets, only to be told that, as I bought them through SNCF (the French side of the train line), Amsterdam couldn’t do anything about it. My tickets could only be collected in Paris, and I couldn’t get there without a ticket. I would need to buy another ticket to Paris, and plead with the ticket counter in Paris to refund me.
But, as I’ve said before regarding Amsterdam business and bureaucracy, if you don’t like one answer, ask someone else. I stood in line, and got up to the ticket counter and asked her if I really needed to do that. She informed me that I might not, but I should instead go to the train, present myself to the conductor and explain myself to him. He could then either let me ride, or make me buy a ticket there.
So that’s what I did.
And the conductor was very nice, making a phone call to Paris, finding out that they did in fact have a ticket for me, and let us on board.
We had a leisurely ride into Paris, where we met up with Mama for a weekend of walking and eating.
And some shopping. I’ll not be one to spoil the Kitten (who knows? I probably actually will), but she did pick out her very first presents for herself. One was a doll that made her laugh…
So he tries all sorts of things, from getting a little hat, to wearing perfume, but everybody thinks he’s gross.
Until he meets Pipi.
She’s a pee.
They fall in love and get married and live happily ever after.
We read it every day. Two or three times. She laughs.
It may be a bit vulgar, but at least we’re reading to her in French.
Now, a bit of ancient history.
Many years ago, Nicole and I took a trip to Charlotte, NC. We were just dating at the time, and were very poor. We drove down in my dad’s truck, camping and staying in cheap motels until we got there, where we put up in a very nice hotel, as guests for a conference.
It was a children’s literature conference where I was, I believe, the only undergrad invited to present.
My paper was called “Why We Really Need Books About Poop: The Theme of Bodily Functions in Children’s Literature”. The idea was that books like Everybody Poops and The Gas We Pass are essential in raising a child that is able to become well-adjusted and able to discuss this sort of embarrassing things with his or her parents. When you can discuss bodily functions with your child, it opens up all sorts of realms of communication about other difficult topics later on, and it also helps to assure them that these unseemly topics are normal, that your child is normal, and that this is just a part of life.
Another part was that it’s funny. And it’s better to laugh about this stuff and to teach children the concept of there being a time and place for this humor, than to teach them to be ashamed about natural things.
It was well-received, and I was invited to pursue a graduate degree in children’s literature. I went into film instead, which is how I became the rich and famous filmmaker I am today.
It hadn’t been around at the time, but Caca et Pipi would have fit in well with my paper.
Also, I returned from that trip with a new fiancee. Fortunately, she was the same person that had been my girlfriend when we headed down there.
Meanwhile, getting back to Paris, but not away from poop, we revisited Notre Dame, and avoided a full repeat of our international incident, although a less eventful bench change took place.
With both Paris and Italy, it was interesting (and nice) to be in a country where they speak less English than the country I call home, but where I speak a lot more of the local language. I was able to conduct transactions in stores and restaurants entirely in French or Italian, which I can’t do in Dutch.
I then returned from two days in Paris rejuvenated in a way that a week in Italy hadn’t.
Perhaps Italy was too action-packed, perhaps it was too hot, but while it was fun and relaxing, I got back a bit burned out.
And it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken a vacation since we got here.
I’m not talking about physical vacations; we’ve had a few of those. What I needed was a creative vacation. A few days off from thinking about this blog. Some time to think about where it should go. Some time to think about what I wanted to talk about.
Which is what I did.
I took a bit of brain vacation, hoping to emerge as rejuvenated as Paris had left us and ready to talk about parenting and the ‘Dam.
Nicole also pointed out that, after a year in the ‘Dam we were perhaps getting too settled. It was becoming a place that we called home, and we were getting too much into daily routines. It’s time to start seeing the city for the amazing place it is all over again. It’s time for a shift in thought.
I’m starting, hopefully I’ll succeed in finding magic again.
We’ll see, won’t we?
Suffice it to say, though, we’re back. Whatever that means.