5 Videos: Bullocks, Goats, and some art, too


Hi, Mary, Kieran, Gus, Finn, and Ceci —

Look what I met last week! They were on the road near my hut.

And these,too —

One very hot afternoon in the village, we stopped for some coconut water. It’s called “Tender Coconut.” Watch  this woman slash the coconut! This one, for my friend, was too old – no water – so we just ate the coconut meat.

I met this piper on the beach one Sunday afternoon when I first arrived. It is at the Bay of Bengal.

This young woman was decorating the sidewalk outside the Internet Café in Pondicherry.  She’s not using a stick of sidewalk chalk. It’s powder. Look how fast she works!

Uncle Matt’s Gus-Speak + in Vienna


(sometimes if you double-click on the pictures, they’ll enlarge)

Hi, Ceci, Finn, Gus, and Kieran – I think  your uncle/Baby Mary’s dad sounds as if he’s doing Gus-Speak, don’t you?

(he was ordering Auntie Lei, Baby Mary, and me some chocolate pastries!)

We passed many pastry shops and candy stores before we decided on that one.  


Look at the gingerbread!

IMG_5555On our way to dinner at a really old restaurant called The 12 Apostles (there’s a pretty good video on that link, ESPECIALLY IF YOU TURN OFF THE SOUND), we walked through one of the Christmas Markets. Auntie Lei & Uncle Matt were bundled up…

…and look who else was ready for the cold!

In this next picture, can you see the mug Uncle Matt is offering Mary? It’s Gluhwein, an Adult Beverage. He was just pretending. I think.IMG_5552

At night, everyone walks in the streets, and every street has different  lighted decorations. Here’s my favorite: 

Lights like chandeliers!

Lights like chandeliers!

We stopped for awhile to listen to some Christmas music — in Spanish! Ceci and Finn, you’ll recognize this song.

LONDON — your grandmother’s p.o.v.

I stayed last week with a brilliant and generous former (CA) student, Megan, whom your moms and/or dads know. I also met up with another former (MN) student — & part of his beautiful family. They came and met me, near Megan’s: again, very generous, as I’m pretty sure it meant a 30-45-minute train ride across London.
As for London — you have all been to London or will go or…I hope you want to go (start working on the ‘rents).
The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was the day before I arrived. Everybody seems hopeful about their new king, Charles III. What do you (seven of you, I mean) know about Elizabeth II or Charles III, I wonder?

I Love My Athens Neighborhood — I think you would, too!

Dear Ceci, Finn, Gus, Kieran, Mary, Seamus, Francis, Joey, Peter, and Genevieve —

South Bend: Game On, Sort of!

Dear Grands,

Mary loves soccer. Here she walks the sidelines, cheering on her teammates. Yes, she’s sporting her unicorn robe – chilly day in The Bend.

Coach M gives a tip to our Sweeper.

Mass late yesterday on an almost-empty campus. It’s Fall Break. No football game, no students, beautiful weather.

As Mass began, Mary leaned over and told me that she really didn’t care for pizza(again). She’d like a real dinner.


So here it is: chicken tenders-and-fries.

PS Cheerleader Mary loves her Blue&Gold Ponytail.

And so, Ceci, Finn, Gus, Kieran, Francis, Seamus, Joey — here’s Mary’s Cheer of Cheers for you–





Easter with DONKEYS

Happy Easter to you,  Francis, Seamus, Mary, Kieran, Augustine, Finnian, and Cecilia —
Hydra, where I’ve spent Holy Week,  is a small island  not far from Athens. NO CARS ALLOWED here, so it’s donkeys, donkeys everywhere. They meet the ferries to carry luggage up to hotels and guesthouses. 


Mostly, they seem to carry loads of…everything: I’ve seen huge  jars of olive oil, of paper towels, and cases of wine, milk, orange juice.

In my days here, I saw  this woman and her donkey a couple times.


Construction workers and their donkeys, I see all the time.

Oh, and here’s what I eat for lunch — delicious, really. Really!


Here are 10 Greek seconds from Mass. Can you guess what those small green leaves are from? Hint: it’s Palm Sunday, not Easter — all over Greece




A Layover!

Dear Ceci, Finn, Gus, Kieran, and Francis — 

I’ll be on my way tomorrow but got to spend this afternoon at Mary’s school. She wanted you five to see some photos —

Some of you have heard or  (seen?) this artist…


Paul Cezanne (left) and Mary Briel (right)



Mary loves her uniform. And don’t you love her booties?

 img_1147Mary’s kindergarten teacher is kind, creative and patient (and a grandmother!).


Father’s homily was about making sure that the faith grandparents pass on includes a sense of justice and inclusivity. ASK MOM or DAD (or Ceci or Finn, I’ll bet)!


Missing you ALL already!  






“Teacher, Teacher, what means ‘Stand by Me’?”

Dear Francis, Mary, Kieran, Augustine, Finnian, and Cecilia —

Did you watch the Royal Wedding, or anyhow some of it, on Saturday?  I hope you saw the part I showed my students at Melissa today, but if you didn’t, WATCH THIS. Your parents can explain how the song became an anthem, a sort of symbol,  during the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. 

For now, look at these words near the end. See what a great English lesson it was for the young women! 

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountain should crumble to the sea, 
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me.




Two questions as they listened:

  • “‘I won’t be a friend!’  But,  Teacher, why not?”  I explained, and they understood instantly:  “I won’t be afraid!”
  •  The title of this blog (“What means ‘Stand by Me’?” ) was a little tougher. I really wish one of you had been there to help me out. But then one of the young women shouted and pointed to her friend sitting across the table — “I know, I know — like you, like me, like you AND me. Here at Melissa!”

The women at Melissa are amazing. Sometimes, I just sit back and watch them teach themselves.

Missing you all!
xx —
P.S. Did you know that Auntie Elizabeth has done art with them here?







The Dog and I

Dear Francis and Mary,

(K,A,F& C, this is old news for you, so I’ll write this to the Littlest cousins)

Very early this morning, I came again to the village where Ceci, Finnian, Augustine, and Kieran live. The human Cronin’s aren’t here, but MANGO came out to greet me!

He nearly knocked me over, so we went outside. We played “Fetch”!

This afternoon, Joachim came over to take Mango on a run. I met them along the way. Mango was very tired.

They went back to the house for food and water. I kept walking. That white city is called Lausanne.

I took this video just before the rain began to SPLAT, and the thunder began to ROAR!

You probably can’t hear the cowbells, but they make a sort of CLANG. Mary, you can play that on the piano. Francis, you can make that noise with your mouth!


Swiss Mountains!

Hi, Mary and Francis, 

Today, while Ceci stayed home to prepare for her tests (Pre-IB Exams, they’re called), WE  went to the mountains! Auntie Teresa, Uncle Chris, Finnian, Augustine, Kieran and I.

We had lunch overlooking this trail. It is the Cronins’ favorite bike path  in the Jura Mountains. 

Across the way, we saw Mount Blanc. It  is a very, very big mountain. Do you see the  snow? Even in summer!

Ahead of us, Uncle Chris rode 1/2-way up into the mountains. Finn rode for awhile on paths at the top. As Gus watched,  Uncle Chris helped get Finn’s bike ready for the trails. 

The boys’ lunch began with hot chocolate – the meat was really good (and the bread and the fondue…)

Finn did some good biking before lunch — here, he’s starting on his hot chocolate.

These Tibetan prayer flags were flying everywhere!


Poor Gus – even though he had his cast removed this week, he can’t run. Yet!

Kieran brought along his insect-catcher (and terrarium) — it works!

Uncle Chris takes a bike apart faster than anybody I’ve ever seen!