We sat down on the perfectly placed stone bench to enjoy a quiet moment with nature. A rustling sound began somewhere nearby: perhaps two lizards playing, a harmless garden snake, or just leaves blowing in the evening breeze. However, the strange sound intensified and before we knew it, we were sitting amid rubble. Our sacred stone perch overlooking the valley had literally disintegrated beneath us. No one was even slightly injured, but our quiet meditation had been bruised rather badly. (more…)

Duct tape. The miracle material was invented in 1942.

Since then, it has been acclaimed as the perfect solution to fix just about anything, from a broken pipe to aircraft. More recently, its versatility has brought it to the forefront of fashion design, bizarre costumes, competitions, and even sitcoms. We thought we’d seen it all with the complete construction of a sailboat and the functional cannon, but we were wrong. There was more questionable “creativity” in store for that ever-popular item we either call duct tape, or duck tape—you choose. (more…)

A mad dash between trains: the one from Lure, France arrived 30 minutes late. 5:45 pm, and the one to Vernon was scheduled to depart in 7 minutes.

We raced to the ticket machine. It was less than agreeable. In fact, it refused to issue the tickets that we’d selected. So we just ran for the train. We’d buy tickets on board, paying a premium for the privilege, no doubt. (more…)

Italy has an impressive system of roads that range from the strada bianca, white road (gravel), to the autostrada—which is the equivalent of the interstate in the US. You pay your way in Italy (in more ways than one). Actually, it’s not a bad idea. Those who use the autostrada the most, pay the most. It’s sort of like the state-owned and operated toll bridges in the Bay Area. Both systems provide quite a few permanent jobs, so in these economically challenging times, there’s nothing wrong with that! And by the way, every autostrada comes fully equipped with more than a few autogrills! (more…)

Well, autumn is just around the corner and it’s mating season here in Italy for the Caprioli, Roe Deer. We hear them in the dusky hours every evening and in the misty dawn, making their unusual call of the wild. What a sound! It’s unbelievable. Seriously, the Roe coughs out a disgusting guttural grunt/scream noise that would put a halt to any possibilities. The first few times we heard it, we thought there must be some monster of the woods—some creature both dreadful and loathsome. We wanted no part of it. The only deer references we had were 1.) the sweet, docile and perpetually hungry ones that live in Indiana and Ohio; and 2.) Bambi. (more…)