Wait! It can't be Christmas already! I haven't even written about the German Christmas markets yet! 'Tis a travesty!
I had so much to show you! Like photos of me...ordering mushrooms cooked in a heavy cream sauce! Wait! There's more!
Like...photos of the mushrooms themselves--exactly .00000001 seconds before I devoured them!
And photos of me drinking Glühwein!
Oh! And photos of my twin K with a giant German wooden pyramid!
Look! She made new friends while she was visiting, too!
And found some nutcrackers to take home in her suitcase!
She even helped me discover some new mushrooms along the way!
And pretended to understand my sickness!
She even took this pretty photo of our drive to the Christmas market...
When we got home she kept me company as I unpacked some of the ornaments my parents had given me last summer.
When she left to return home...I was very sad. Because twins should not be parted by an ocean. It's against the laws of nature.
But then--I remembered I had something to look forward to--because a certain other sister who goes by the name B was coming for Christmas!
And she's here now! And we're making dance videos using Mr. Lush's new camera's super slow-motion function! They are super-sensual and slightly uncomfortable for other people to witness...much like we are.
What could be better than that at Christmas? Wish you were here!
Inside, the tree filled with its bounty of German mushrooms, glows.
While outside the snow fortress grows...
Best not to think too much about the kleine Schneeberge out in front of the house, which at this rate will soon be giving Mt. Everest's 8,611 meter summit a run for its money. Best to concentrate on what's inside...like all the ornaments my parents gave me from their collection last summer when I was home.
They are enough to melt my heart.
This year's tree hosts a whole new bounty of mushrooms...thanks to parental-enabling. Parents are the best!
Is there anything sweeter than a blown glass mushroom? Well, possibly a hedgehog...
and then there are the Christmas acrobats to contend with...
They sway gently up and down...and my heart contracts painfully with the overload of adorableness.
It wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't shove as many mushrooms in your face as possible.
There's no rhyme or reason for my mushroom madness. And that's the beauty of it. Together, the mushrooms and I bring peace to a troubled world.
We can all share in the glory of the mushroom together. Let's hold hands and tell our best mushroom stories. 'Once upon a time, there was a tiny Fliegenpilz growing in the shade of the sun-dappled forest...and then I took it home and it became my child.'
'I found this...and it disturbed me so much that I knew I had to share it with you. Especially upsetting is the little broken 'shroom on the ground. WHA' HAPPUH?'
'Hahahaha! Mushroom-on-mushroom violence...the best kind.Hope they made a nice romantic dinner together afterward, using the fallen 'shroom. Some sort of creamy mushroom soup. It's pleasant to feast on your enemies.'
And so, I will leave you with that thought...a Christmas gift of sorts. Because you are a precious mushroom...the highest compliment I can give. Mwah!
Ah, Rome. You are a treat for the eye. The eyes, I mean, as I did keep both open while walking your confusing labyrinth-like city streets.
View from the top of St. Peter's Basilica, The Vatican
Standing at the top of St. Peter's Basilica was only possible after climbing a potentially heart-exploding number of stairs...which wound upward like a tiny stone spiral...getting increasingly tighter and more precarious with each step...but it was quite worth the near-death experience once we made it to the top. The view was magnificent. If I were the Pope, I'd spend most of my time up there reading in a comfy chaise-lounge.
Rainbow at the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps were quite nice, too, as we found them at the tail-end of a rain storm, highlighted with a gorgeous rainbow. It seemed like a sweet gift to look up and see the colorful arch perfectly placed for our enjoyment. Awww, Rome...you shouldn't have.
View of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican
We enjoyed exploring the Vatican and its museum. So many show-stoppers along the way. There was no way we would ever be able to see it all...and lord, was there a lot to see. We stood before masterpieces in hushed awe. It's always mind-blowing to see things in real life you've only studied in books. The Vatican does not disappoint. Its museum is filled to the brim with the stuff dreams are made of.
The School of Athens, by Raphael
While exploring the rich history all around us I was filled with a palpable, excited energy. Of course, after a time the excitement began to wear thin and was replaced with a desperate, gnawing hunger. Thank god for Gelato. I'm most certain our trip was a success due mostly to Roman Gelato. Every few hours we stopped to refuel with a new flavor.
Come to Mama, Roman Gelato
Suffice to say, we ate our way through Rome. The food, it was magnificent...the Antipasto, the pizza, the pasta...there were moments I was so overwhelmed, with plates of god's own food in front of me, I felt as though the only thing to do was weep for my happiness. Of course, weeping had to wait as I was inhaling enormous amounts of food...also an awe-inspiring sight, if you were to see it with your own two eyes.
The Vatican Mercenary Guards from Switzerland
So many things to see...like the Vatican guards in their colorful uniforms designed by Michelangelo...no less. (Not the Ninja-turtle, mind you.)
Seeing the Main Altar in St. Peter's is enough to make you fall to your knees. Though I don't recommend it on those marble floors. It is most certain you will develop a crick in your neck--and possibly step on and/or run over other tourists and their children, as you make your way around the atrium. The senses are overwhelmed with so much beauty to see. Nevermind the painful squeals of others as you trample them...you've got too much ahead of you to look back.
Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, The Forum
Slightly confusing were all the ruins as we made our way through Roman Forum. C'mon guys, it's been 2,000 years--let's fix the place up already!
St. Teresa in Ecstacy, by Bernini
Rome certainly can't be summed up in a single post, though that's what I intend to do here. Just be assured there's a million other fabulous sights and historically important places I've left out. We walked and walked the streets of Rome until we could barely make our way back to the hotel at night. We got lost a lot. Our plans changed hourly. We had the happiest of Thanksgivings, surrounded by wonderful people, while eating the best pizza on the planet. Being there with my family...watching them all stuffing pizza down their cake holes...was magical.
The Trevi Fountain
Maybe that's why so many people throw their coins in the Trevi Fountain...hoping to return one day...Rome is just that great.
Well, it worked for me...twenty-one years later I returned. (And threw yet another coin in the fountain...hoping to return again.)
Such pretty afternoon light on our chilly, snowy walk today. Couldn't resist sharing it with you. Tex and I walked along the farm fields through the deep, heavy snow drifts. With his little stubby legs working overtime, he struggled along beside me--happy to be outside again. The sunlight sparkled and cast a purple-blue light all around us. So gorgeous. So nice after days...weeks?...with little sunlight.
After a time, the clouds came rolling in again...and we headed back. Snow was on the horizon. The fireplace beckoned. The comforts of home in winter are magical, too, you know. I sense a glass of wine in the near future. (Tex senses a small glass of port in his, which he will sip slowly. He is a man of taste, you see.)
The snow has been constant for weeks now. Every day a little more. Yesterday it snowed from morning till night without stopping. We awoke to a world blanketed in heavy, wet snow. This meant, of course, more shoveling. And sweeping. In Germany home owners must shovel and sweep after every snowfall. We are also required to shovel the street. Living on a corner means we get to shovel two streets! Lucky us!
I decided to take the dog for a quick jaunt instead, delaying the shoveling by half an hour. These photos are a few impressions from our walk. We saw neighbors and friends along the way, shoveling their walkways. I stopped to admire the familiar houses, which in some funny way also feel like friends. Tex accumulated giant snowballs in his fur--which we stopped to brush away every once in a while.
When we got home I had a sudden flash of brilliance. The kids had the day off from school. Why shouldn't THEY be out shoveling and sweeping? Why, indeed!
And so, here I am typing and enjoying your company...while outside the sounds of snow shovels scraping on the ground and grunts of lifting fill the air. Ahhh! How sweet those sounds are to mine ears! Child labor is the best!