A lovely anniversary in lovely Vinkuran

David and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary yesterday here in Vinkuran, Croatia. Vinkuran is about 6 kilometers from Pula, a city on the Istrian peninsula, pretty much across the Adriatic Sea from Venice. Pula is a pretty small town – about 60,000 residents – with a gorgeous Roman amphitheater.

Vinkuran, on the other hand, is a small fishing village, best known for having the quarry which provided the stone for the amphitheater. It is tiny. There is not a single restaurant in the village, just two little markets that make a 7-Eleven look like Walmart. We have no car, and the hike to a regular supermarket in the next town is about 30 minutes each way.

One website described it thusly: Vinkuran is a true oasis for those seeking relaxation, where only birdsong and crickets disturb the peace. This is actually why we came here; Quinland has a big project to finish for school, and after 5 weeks of constant travel and sightseeing, we needed a place where she could buckle down to schoolwork. My criteria were few: free internet so that she could finish her research; a swimming pool to give her something to look forward to on her break times; and a washing machine, since I figured we wouldn’t be near a laundromat and we have very limited wardrobes. (Our many suitcases are filled with books and medical equipment, and the clothes have been kept to a minimum and jettisoned along the way.)

We got our three wishes. That’s our little patio on the left, to provide David with shade, and the pool is where Q and I swim most days. It is ice cold glacier water, I think (kidding)… I have taken to running straight in because if I think about it or dip a toe in, I will never get in. We get warmER after a little while, and it’s a nice break in the day.

So, since we don’t really have any restaurants to go out for dinner to celebrate the big day, David picked me up some lovely flowers (and some candy) when he was in Pula the day before. It was a true sacrifice on his part, as he hates the smell of lilies, and since we are living in a small apartment, it is hard to escape. They are some of my favorite flowers, though, and I had the stargazer lilies in the bouquets at our wedding. He gave me flowers for our first anniversary, too, the one I completely forgot about. In my defense, I was having surgery for the BigEye and had other things on my mind.

But that was not the end of the celebration! Our lovely landlord, Petra, and her husband brought down a cake and a gift. (I’d mentioned it was our anniversary as we shared the date with her son’s first birthday.)

The cake was yummy! It was pretty dense – almost like a cross between a cake and a scone – and the whipped cream frosting was to die for. I don’t generally like really sugary frosting, so this was amazing. The three of us polished it off as dessert after lunch and dinner. I guess the low carb diet could wait one more day…

The gift came beautifully wrapped and was really thoughtfully chosen. We got a bottle of grappa, the locally-made liquor that is so strong it feels like fire in your throat and belly. A very authentic Istrian experience! The bottle also came with two traditional grappa glasses, and all were hand-decorated with an outline of the region:

 So as you saw yesterday, we toasted our anniversary and the next twenty years we look forward to together. These last twenty sure went quickly! (I am sure I am only 26, so how could I have been married so long?)

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful! Being in Vinkuran for the past 12 days has really given us some quality time to spend together. I miss our summers off together, when we could both let go of the stress of teaching and just relax and have fun and travel together. During the school year, that doesn’t seem to happen nearly enough. Here in Vinkuran, we have had time to talk, to make plans, to cuddle up and process photos (whoo hoo…), to go on hikes and sightseeing trips, and to work together on teaching Quinland. It’s been restful and productive and pretty much stress-free.

We won’t mention the steroid day (today) and the funk I got into for no reason (yesterday). Those were some blips in the happiness radar, and I am sure by tomorrow they will both be resolved.

Ash Wednesday (posted a little late)

Here’s the first of my Blue Screened Posts, from Feb 22.

Lent votives
Photo by jamiesrabbits

It is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

I did not start off on the right foot.  I got ready early to leave for Mass but got frustrated with my family for not being ready to go on time. I got stuck in traffic and threw a bit of a fit. We didn’t make it halfway to church before it was apparent that we would miss most of Mass by the time we got there. I threw a fit about that, pulled the car over, jumped out to catch a fast-approaching bus, and made  a snarky remark about how I would be going to Mass at lunch, downtown. I came into work grumpy and stayed grumpy for quite a while.

Ugh. I am not proud of myself, to say the least. You may not be surprised to hear that I have decided to give up “getting upset with my family” for Lent. I set a very poor example for them this morning. (I’m screaming mad because we are late for a chance to think and pray about our sinful nature! What a good object lesson!) I started thinking about all the upcoming stress of the trip and about how I tend to take my stress out on David and Q. This would not be a good way to start our family adventure!

Now… will I be able to do it? Will I just transfer my temper to other people? I hope not… that reminds me too much of the year I gave up “shopping for anything but food” for Lent and gained more than 20 pounds. Let us pray that I can become somewhat conscious of my emotions before they start boiling over. Wish me luck.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! that the downtown parish is only three blocks from my office. It’s very handy on Holy Days.
  • I’m lighter! We had an amazing family Europe list discussion session when we all got home tonight. We know that Quinland always works better from a list, but David does, too. I just need to stop adding things to the list.

In the light of day

Mt Hood & Tulips
Photo by Gaz Photo’s

I just deleted some stuff out of yesterday’s post. I don’t usually do that (except for grammatical errors and typos, because those bother my OCD self to no end – and feel free to point them out to me, as I will thank you for it). But when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t happy with a story I shared yesterday. It was no big deal, but it wasn’t about me and I wasn’t comfortable with the whole tone.  I can only ascribe it to late-night blogging and lowered awareness of what I feel is appropriate.

So on to bigger and better things.

I never really shared why I told that story about my little family yesterday. Our newspaper, The Oregonian, prints photos and stories each day of kids in foster care who are looking for permanent homes. There have been three times that I have seen kids in there that have just touched my heart, and yesterday was one of those days. There were two sisters, ages 16 and 11, who just sounded like they were meant to be in our family.  Another time there were three sisters; once, a single girl who reminded me soooo much of Quinland. I cut out her story and carried it around with me for weeks.

I’ve talked with David about this. He explains to me, patiently, that we are challenged enough in our daily lives by our one child and our own individual physical and behavioral issues. He explains, patiently, that kids in foster care will have pretty significant challenges of their own, and that they would do better in a family that is rock-solid on routines and stability, which we are not. He explains, patiently, that we need to concentrate on making the most of the life we have and not look for ways to complicate it.

“You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.” (Name that movie.)

I do know he is right. But this yearning – to have more kids, to have a sibling for Q, to help kids who need a home – is still there.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for the MS office, which provided me with an armload of books on wellness and lifestyle and health… and also for Glee.
  • I’m lighter! Month End will be finished in a timely manner today! Hooray!