Ann's Blog
Ann McCauley is a Pennsylvania women's literature author, who wrote the books Runaway Grandma and Mother Love, both available for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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09/21/11
Sweet Septmeber
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 11:21 am

The temperature is a bit cooler, the days a bit shorter and life a bit sweeter. That’s what September is to me.

A new cd arrived in the mail today, LI VOLA, you can get a sneak preview of the trio on You Tube, Three Kids From Italy, it is one of the most beautiful cds I’ve ever listened to. Three boys, ages 16, 17, and 16 with amazingly gifted voices. Their rendition of Smile brought tears to my eyes as my husband and I danced around the kitchen.

Decisions. Decisions. Everyday we make so many automatically that we don’t even realize we are doing it. But, of course, we are. Why do some people accomplish so much more than others? Time is the one thing that is given in equal proportion to each of us. Obviously, I opted out of structured writing for most of the last month and use d my time for exploration and fun. Though, I did write over one hundred pages in my journal for future reference. 

Exception of equal time are those whose lives are cut short. Forty one years ago my little brother died in an accident at age 15. Just this week my niece told me her lifelong best friend died at age 41 after striking her head during a seizure. Reminders that life is not fair. I recently heard of a lady who excused herself during a family dinner and went to the bathtroom, didn’t return as expected, family went to check on her and she was unconcious, a trip to the E.R. and emergency surgery repaired two brain aneurysms, quickly followed by pneumonia have left her nonresponsive in a rehab facility. Life is fragile and the only thing we can be sure of is nothing stays the same. 

My husband and I returned ten days ago from a fabulous three week cruise to Scandinavia. We vistied Stockholm, Sweden for two days, where we met with a family friend and her children for a wonderful afternoon and dinner together. It was great to see where they lived and Stockholm is built on 14 islands with many bridges…a fascinating beautiful city! Then Helsinki, Finland for part of a day; it was lovely.

The big highlight of our trip was three days in St. Petersburg, Russia, where we had a private tour guide, Elena, waiting for us. It was the most incredibly beautiful place we’ve ever seen…anywhere! We are still in awe when we think back to all we saw and learned. Such a long, deep and dark history. We read two books aboout the 900 day seige of St. Petersburg during WW2 that triggered our intense interest in this city before booking the trip. (The Madonnas of Lenningrad by Debra Dean and Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.) We learned so much folklore and trivial facts about communism and life after, the Russian Orthodox Churches in St. Petersburg are incredibly beautiful . And everything had to be rebuilt after the war…

We visited Tallin, Estonia and the day after Riga, Latvia very charming and lovley old cities. The local girls were the most beautiful…all natural blondes with blue eyes. One after another, like they’ve all been cut from the same cookie cutter. Sweet, too. One night the seas were particularly rough, the captain made announcements cautioning extra care when moving about the ship as it we felt the motion of the ocean! I insisted we keep our life jackets beside the bed that night.

Then a day in northern Germany followed by a day long trip through the Keil Canal which was a fascinating look at rural Germany. In Copenhagen, Denmark…I never saw so many bikes in one city before! Our Danish guide told us the hardest thing about riding your bike to work is finding the right one when you are ready to go home…there are literally thousands of bikes everywhere thoughout the city! Young mothers with strollers attached to their bikes, fathers with red wagons attached as they transported their children. We saw many wind turbine ‘farms’ on the landscapes in all the northern European countries.

We enjoyed the canals of Amsterdam, Holland. A very crowded and picuresque city. We felt it was a young persons city…again lots of bikes but not nearly as many as in Denmark. Our last stop on the tour was Brussels, Belgium. (My husband had been here before since his youngest sister had lived her with her husband back in the1970s. It was an emotional expereince for him to remember…both she and her husband are gone now, they had no children.) It was a very large city with parks, palaces, Nato Headquarters as well as the European Union Headqaurters, block after block of beaurocracy.

The next day we disembarked in Dover, England. My first time to see the white cliffs of Dover and they really are white! At first glance I thought there was snow on the sides of the cliffs! We’d met so many wonderful people from all over the world and as our Russian guide repeatedly said, “People are people…”  It truly was a dream vacation.

We took a train from Dover to Pancras Station in London and then a train to Leicester for a few days to visit family there. Yes, all the while dragging our overstuffed luggage. Next time we really will pack smarter. We arrived a few hours earlier than they were expecting us, no one was home. It was starting to rain so we went to a neighbor whom we had met before, they had a key and opened the house to let us in. The alarm blared for twenty minutes before the code was retrieved! Another neighbor came to check on the house while I was taking the clothes off the clothes line…he must have thought we were very thorough thieves! Thank goodness the police did not come. It turned out to be a good visit with a most memorable start. 

We’ve seen three movies worth mentioning, The Beaver with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. Incredible acting and as a former psychiatirc nurse, one of the best depicitons of mentall illness I’ve seen  in a movie. Jane Eyre and The Help, interestingly the actress you have to hate who plays Hilly Holbrook is Ron Howard’s, (of Happy Days and as Andy Griffith’s Opie), daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard.

Two very different books but each exceptional: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and Summer at Tiffanys by Marjorie Hart. Hart’s book starts out with this question, “What was the best summer of your life?” 

I’ll leave you pondering that question…

Please keep reading. Later, my friends.

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