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Catchup after Scotland, now at Plum Village in France

I guess when we arrived in Findhorn our life became so immersed there and so normal-feeling that I didn’t have the initiative to add blogs. We were at Findhorn for three months and left near the end of July. I’ll write more about our experiences there.

Then we spent a few days in Edinburgh with Aunt Melissa, who flew over to meet us.

And now we are at Plum Village in France, Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery, where we are taking part in a retreat for three weeks.

After that we will spend a few days in France, and then drive back to England.

Living into the future

First, however, everything that remains of the old will have to be reduced to nothingness. The clouds will have to gather round the human being, and we have to find our freedom – find our own power, our whole strength – out of this nothingness.
Outer material need will change into soul need, and out of this deep need of the soul will vision be born.

We must tear up by the roots every trace of fear and shrinking of what comes towards us out of the future. All our feelings must be permeated with calm and confidence. We must look forward with absolute equanimity to all that may come and think only that whatever happens, happens under a cosmic guidance that is full of wisdom.

Our part is to do what is right in each moment as it comes, and leave everything else to the future. That indeed is the lesson that we have to learn in our time, to live out of pure trust, without any security of existence, trust in the ever present help of the spiritual world.
Truly nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us. Let us then take hold of our will and let us seek the awakening from within,
every morning and every evening.

– Rudolf Steiner
extract from an unpublished lecgture,
November 1910

A day is a tourist, a year is a traveller

An ad seen upon landing in Scotland.

Count us in for being travellers!

Travel to Scotland


Today we left my parents’ house, said goodbye to the grandparents and travelled toward our destination in Scotland.  As seems to be the usual case, packing took significantly longer than I’d expected (hoped?) but we got on the road only 4 hours later than planned.


Our friend Melissa brought us to the airport in Washington, D.C.  We’d originally wanted to meet Melissa halfway between Williamsburg and Washington, but she was gracious enough to come all the way down to get us so I could finish packing. It was nice to catch up with her since seeing her last in Monterey, CA.

Since we’re going to a cold(ish) climate, and our plan is to be there for a while, we ended up with one suitcase more than when we went to Costa Rica.

We flew British Airways and I slept most of the way, but the kids hardly slept.  Zippy was “extremely uncomfortable” and I think Adam was too excited.  He really liked that they gave a packet of kid activities to keep him occupied.  Both kids really enjoyed the vegetarian meals they were served (and I slept through).

img_2955We were picked up at the airport by our friend Ruth, who I met through our mutual participation in Tony Robbins work, and mutual interest in travel.  Ruth has been to 29 countries! She navigated the rails and busses with us and our luggage back to her flat where we refreshed ourselves with smoothies and crumpets.  Zippy and I took much-needed showers.  We showed Ruth some of our pictures from our trip, and Adam promptly fell asleep.  We got to see some of her pictures and movies, too.

Jaffa cakes, yum!

Jaffa cakes, yum!

Ruth also took us on a tour of the high street in Putney to orient us to British stores and brands.  She deeply corrupted us by sharing her Jaffa cakes with us, which, apparently, once you had one, you have to consume the entire box.  They’re a curious combination of a light cookie, jam and chocolate that end up being really yummy.

Ruth is a lawyer and is looking for work, in the US especially, to leverage all her international business experience.

with Alex

Next we went to see our friend Alex, who used to work with me at Sun and in other endeavours.  He cooked us a lovely dinner, which we’ll be sure to make for ourselves another time.  He was also kind enough to arrange a mobile phone for me so I can be a bit more in contact here.

img_2981Our last stop in London was couchsurfing with Armin.  He lives very near to Gatwick, from where we’re flying to Scotland.  The kids went to bed almost right away and Armin introduced me to a bit of British culture via the Top Gear TV show.  He was even generous enough to drive us to the airport in the morning.

img_2982We got on this plane and arrived in Scotland a short time later.


We made it to Scotland!

Travel quotes

“We travel not to leave our homes, but to leave our habits” – Francis Weaver

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” — Andre Gide

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
-Mark Twain


Some people have wondered what we do in the car.  Sometimes we just look at the scenery, sometimes we talk and sometimes we do math and spelling drills, among other academic things.  But on the long hauls (the other day we drove for 9 hours), we most often listen to audio books.  It’s sometimes a challenge to find a book that isn’t too intense or advanced for Adam, but isn’t too juvenile for Zippy, and can still hold my interest.  We find that classic books fit that bill pretty well.

And then we discovered LibriVox, a source for free audiobooks.  They create audio books for public domain (out of copyright) books.  Each audio book they have is read buy a volunteer, or a group of volunteers.  We’ve listened to several books and most of the readings are very good.  We’ve only come across one that we couldn’t stand listening to.  We’re currently listening to The Swiss Family Robinson, and are really enjoying the story and the reading.

There are other sources of audiobooks, like checking them out at a library, or paying for a download at Audible, but we very much like the spirit of the librivox site.

So download a few for your next road trip.

Adam’s eye

For those that were worried, Adam’s eye is just fine now.

It was itchy for a few days, but now is back to normal.

Orlando Attractions: Walt Disney World

Excitement and anticipation reigned as we entered the Magic Kingdom

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we are taking the opportunity to enjoy some of Orlando’s attractions.  Today we went to Walt Disney World.  By the generosity of a cousin-in-law, we were able to get into WDW on free passes (thank you!), because otherwise, I doubt we would have paid the $75 each!

Thunder Mountain

Thunder Mountain, the children's first real roller coaster

Zippy summarizes the day:

I am exhausted, Yesterday was a full day! We woke up at 6:30 and went to bed at 11:00. It was soooooooo fun! My favorite was space mountain, a wild, turbulent rollercoaster in the dark so you don’t know what is going to happen next. I also enjoyed; Splash mountain (a ride through the “briar patch” to a fifty foot drop into a pool of water) Thunder mountain (a rollercoaster through a “mine”) Pirates of the Caribbean (a boat ride through a town that is being pillaged by pirates, the movie originated from this ride)

So I was into the realism of the moment, ok?

Test Track (simulation of a car being tested, first a hill climb, second ‘bumpy road”, thirdly a crash test, where the car accelerates towards a wall and at the last moment the wall opens and the car continues on the track, and last zooming around a track at 100 MPH, no joke) Mission:Space (Video game-ish ride mimicking flying to space)  All in all it was a great day!”

Mission space was offered to us as “more intense or less intense”.  We chose “more intense” and I’m not sure that I would again.  It is like a flight simulator, where you’re put in an enclosed space that spins around and articulates so that they can induce any feeling of movement on your body.  Quite exciting, but also quite disorienting.  We got to blast off from the earth to associated G-forces, and then weightlessly float, and finally an exciting landing on mars.  Very realistic, as my stomach can attest to.

At the end of the day, we enjoyed the fireworks spectacle over the lake at Epcot.  Unfortunately the wind was coming at us, and Adam got a piece of ash in his eye.  The Disney Medics attempted to flush his eye, but it’s still pretty irritated.

There was lots left to see at Epcot and look forward to coming back some day.

We really did have a wonderful day.  Disney is a magical place. The joy and wonderment on the children’s faces were priceless.

The parks are extraordinarily clean (in most places), and everyone seems genuinely friendly.  There was even a Disney security guard directing pedestrians away from an ice-cream spill.  They think of everything!  The insane levels of merchandising do get a bit tiresome, yet we only bought one souvenir, and that was as a gift.  We really appreciated the Fast Pass system, where you can get a time to return to a ride and there’s almost no line for you.  We only waited in two long lines (almost an hour), but it was for Space Mountain and Test Track, so was worth it.  We were even able to get veggie burgers for dinner.  One day was not enough to see everything.  We’d need at least a day for each park (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Planet), and maybe even an extra day for the things that would inevitably be missed, plus Disney has several other attractions in the area, oh and there’s Sea World, and Universal Studios, and tons of other things to do.  Orlando is brimming with attractions.  Hmm, I wonder if I have any other cousins who work for one of the parks? ;)   Seriously, we’re really grateful for the opportunity to have visited Disney World and will look back on this as one of the highlights of the trip.

Orlando Attractions: Cirque du Soleil

We have been coming to Orlando for many years to see the children’s maternal grandparents and other family, but we have never partaken of the Orlando area attractions like Disney.

But this year, since the children are older, and not so steeped in the world of Waldorf, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

First we went to see Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba.  We had seen a video of a different Cirque du Soleil performance at a cousin’s house, and were excited to be able to see one in-person.  It was an amazing hour-and-a-half of spectacle of physical feats and acrobatics.  Adam really loved the bicycle acts, where they climb stairs, jump around, and leap over people from a standstill and ride wires.  Zippy really liked the trapeze artists.  And My favorite was the “silk ballet”, which you can see in the clip here — a really beautiful display of strength and skill.

One of the really great things about Cirque du Soleil is that it is completely live, including the music and the singing.  This gives the show a vibrant quality that recorded music wouldn’t allow.  Plus, when the trapeze artist flew out of his comrades hands and into the net, we knew we were seeing cutting-edge stuff.  (He was fine, and climbed back up for the next part.)

This was part of Adam’s 10th birthday celebration.  Tomorrow Disney World!

First Movie in a Theater

Well, the time finally came on Valentine’s day to take the children to their first movie in a movie theater.  As most of you know the children have been going to Waldorf schools, where media use, especially television, is strongly discouraged.  As a family we’ve been following that advice and the children have only seen television extraordinarily rarely (Olympics!), and over the last year we added in movies every once in a while. Having this low-media household has helped the children be able to entertain themselves, be more active, and not to be caught up in consumerism, among other things.  I could write a lot more about how I think it has helped the children, but for now you could take a look at Taming The Media Monster and, and you can see a comprehensive school media policy, too.

All that said, since we’ve not been so strict on any policies while on our trip, it seemed like a good opportunity to see the inside of a theater for the first time.  We went with our friends Miki and her twins Aurora and Bella to see Bolt.  Had I known a bit more about it, Bolt wouldn’t have been the first movie that I would have picked to have them see, as I found it a bit of an intense movie in some places, but it did make good use of the surround sound of the theater, so it was nice for the kids to experience that.  And they enjoyed the movie.  It was about a dog who thinks he is a superhero who gets lost and has to make his way back home to his waiting owner, and the adventures that ensue on the road.  It had interesting, if bittersweet, parallels to our own adventure.

This, I guess, was the first of our Orlando Entertainment Extravaganza.  Fully Awesome!