Travels with Benji and Then Some


Hi to Francis and Mary!

Last week I got to take Finn’s great pal Benji to Switzerland for his Spring Break. Benji is  so amazing, so chill, that even our flight attendants thought he went halfway around the world every week or two.

The train ride from the airport was the first time Benji saw Switzerland. I stopped the video before we got to the fields — and the cows with their bells!

Benji arrived, played after Gus and Kieran got home from school — and then he was whisked off to surprise Finn. They went to Verbier, a great place to ski and sled in the Alps, which are the mountains that surround your cousins’ house.

While Benji and the others were gone, my friend Annie  came to visit us. First, we went to Gus’ basketball game.


Afterwards, over his snack,  Annie gave Gus a quick French lesson.


The next day after  church, we went to a Bar Lotto in Lausanne. You can ask mom and dad…😇And then Benji and Finn (and Uncle Chris and Auntie Teresa) returned from the mountains.

One night Benji chose dessert…

One day, he went to school withFinn – I think they chose “Traditional” over “wellness,” that day.
Then Benji and Finn begged Teresa to take them to this HUGE Pokémon store (no photos) Another day we walked into the village. Well, I walked, and they scootered.
The last night of Benji’s visit we had FONDUE. I think you would really like it .

And then just like that, we were back in Minnesota!

“H” is for Hong Kong!

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

Happy New Year! I got to talk/video chat/FaceTime  with most of you, so I know you had a great Christmas and New Year. Soon you’ll be back at school, ECFE,  or day care – can you believe it?! 

Before you return, here are a few photos from my days in Hong Kong with Auntie Elizabeth and a Minnesota friend of mine, Jeanne. 

               HONG KONG IS HUGE.

We visited Mongkok, a neighborhood that has more people than ANY PLACE ON EARTH.  Being there was like living inside a kaleidoscope!

This Mongkok  fruit market runs for many blocks.

The 7 towers of Elizabeth’s  complex have more apartments  than St-Saphorin has people —  over 2,000.   On New Year’s Eve, from my bedroom in Elizabeth’s  “Tower 4”  apartment on the 17th floor, I could see a sliver of the wild and beautiful fireworks in Victoria Harbor. 


One  day we visited a huge and beautiful garden inside something called a nunnery. This is a convent for Buddhist nuns. We also visited the temple there, where a Fortune Teller told me I would live a long and lucky life. I told her that I already had, and she laughed and said, “Lucky, more!”


Another time, while Elizabeth worked in her studio on shark’s fin cyanotypes (yes!), Jeanne and I took the Star Ferry to Lamma Island for the day .  We ate mussels, oysters, and shrimp – no shark’s fin for us! It was so sunny, we ate outside looking over the beach.

I loved the time there, and like Elizabeth, I hope you can go visit sometime (and if you go in summer, she has a nice pool…).

PS – A few years ago, Auntie Elizabeth did the drawings and paintings for “H” is for Hong Kong!

Swiss Family Cronin Party!

Hi, Mary and Francis, this post is  for you and your almost-expat cousins. I’ll let mom or dad  explain “expat.”

We had a perfect day for the party hosted by Auntie Rhonda and Uncle Tom.  Soon, the expats will get to know Swiss Chocolate. Today, we had A.MAZ.ING American Chocolate:

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There were many, many  children. Q was too fast for me, but here are Francis and the  Cronin cousins:

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Oh, and there were grownups — I was enjoying the food and Sangria (ask your mom and dad… or not) and wine, and… Anyhow, I didn’t take many Big People photos, but here are some. How many do you know?

I saw many other great photo ops, too, like Dad/Uncle Chris visiting great old friends (like me, old, I mean). And Ceci with some of her girlfriends, who just threw themselves down on the lawn for a picnic. And Mom/Auntie Teresa drying children’s tears (I’m not saying…!). And old (like them) Nativity and college friends, some meeting one another for the first time! 

By the end of the day,  we knew we were all very sad for ourselves, but very happy for them.


                                  (The Grands, by Auntie Elizabeth – July 2016)

Happy First Vespers to KBC: we came for the Sharks & stayed (& stayed) for the Anemone.

Hi, Ceci, Finn, Gus, Mary, and Francis — Tomorrow, Kieran, you will be 5 — great year ahead, but today was just you and I and All. Those.Underwater. Critters. 

I think petting the Stingrays was your favorite moment. Such slime, but (and?) you really liked it.

On the other hand, the Anemone, where we went, then left, then returned, then left and returned again — it was like having your own ROCKPOOLS for an hour.


That Alligator Turtle was impressive for about 10 seconds.

The Sharks were their usual awesome selves. 

INDIA: Not “Wrong” — Different!

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

Now that Christmas break has ended, I know some of you are back to school or back home (or mommy is now home, full time!).  Here at the ashram in India this  week, we ended the Christmas Season, too. You can see the  the crèche as it was being taken down … 

 I’m sorry you’re missing  the colored, popping lights, but you can still see how different this is from an American crèche. Do you see the lines of the divided highway? And the sand? The riverbed? 

Speaking of the riverbed, when I Facetimed with Ceci the other day, she noticed the Cauvery River from my hut. Here’s a satellite photo – can you see the river near the top? The long red building near the bottom holds the kitchen and the dining room where we eat. My hut is just above there.


Ananda Ashram

   Ceci also noticed something different about my bathroom. Look closely and see if you can find what it is!   Do you see my “closet” and my bed? Yes, that mosquito net keeps out…the geckos!

  My broom, up close! 

  Today I arrived early for noon prayer in the chapel, which we call a “temple,” so I whispered this video. 

 Here’s the river, close-up. Not so different-looking, but…  Would you believe that is a fishing boat??!

The  teachers (and 2 of their daughters) out at BLESS School,  are dressed for A WORKDAY. Yes!  

 They worked in groups, and very hard,  on the assignment I gave them.

Before I close, Here’s  a little video I took yesterday when I went into the village to run errands. I looked down, and look what I saw–!

Missing you all. xxoo



Some Wild Things in Kerala!

Hi, Kids —

The south of India has great food and great animals. I could have ridden an elephant, but decided to wait. Maybe in Thailand, where I know how well  their owners take care of them. 


I went on a long boatride one morning and afternoon on the “Backwaters.” That’s where I saw these birds and (wild) dogs

CRANE looking for lunch.

DOGS looking for lunch, too.  

FISHERMEN on Kerala Backwaters…they found their lunch!