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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!


Missing you already, but…SO THANKFUL!

You six…SUMMER and FALL — remember these moments?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The driver wasn’t outside Gate 6, but in a little while he appeared, smiling, and talking on his phone!

This lovely family and I shared stories and tips – they are here for a family wedding – during our very, very long flight. 


Look at the driver tying the suitcase to the top with A SINGLE BUNGEE. And it worked!


I think we could put this sign in my apartment courtyard, don’t you? For the bunnies.


This morning, Thursday, I was able to go out to Jeevan  Jyoti, the orphanage run by the Daughters of Charity here in New Delhi. The sisters were lovely, and since it was a Prayer Day, there was just one other volunteer, a young woman from Poland.

The sisters let me join workers doing physical therapy with very disabled, very young  children.   I didn’t see any  babies as young as you, Francis, but one little boy sounded just like you when you get excited. ! Someday, I will tell you all more about these beautiful kids.


(Prayer Day is  also laundry day for the sisters!)




Blind Kids Learning in Chiang Mai – FIELD TRIPS!

Hi, kids — 

     Special thanks to Ceci and Finn for the great videos telling my students about snow! I know it’s hard to tell  kids who can’t see, about something they’ve never experienced.  BUT YOU DID IT. They  still tell me they don’t really understand how — or why — you go outside and actually PLAY in it, but I think that’s because winter here (now) is 80 degrees or higher,  don’t you?

Today, I thought I’d tell you about 2 trips we’ve taken  (if you click the photos, I think you can make them bigger) —

                          THIS WEEK WE WENT TO THE COUNTRY, TO A RICE FARM.

In fact these students go out to the country nearly every week – to learn where rice (and sometimes other fruits and vegetables) comes from, and how it is harvested.

After working in the morning, we made lunch —



The kids can't see, so this is how they figure out what pukins are like: how they're shaped, and where they come from

As you know, the kids can’t see, so this is how they figure out what pumpkins are like: how they’re shaped, and where they come from



Hi, Kids — 

Mary, I know you’re back home, and Cronin kids, I think you didn’t have school on Wednesday (Finn, you called it: -40 with the wind chill). BRRR I wonder what you did  all day?

Maybe tonight or tomorrow you will have time to look at pictures From a few weeks ago, from  Beijing. As you know,  I was with Uncle Roy and Auntie Elizabeth. There are even videos  for you, Gus, Kieran, and Mary…

Elizabeth toted  my very heavy bags from the airport…

Elizabeth  met me at the airport.

One day I visited a huge palace, with many buildings, and many rooms in those buildings. It is right in the center of Beijing.  Can you guess why this huge palace, many palaces, actually, which is about 600 years old, is known as THE FORBIDDEN CITY?

Inside The Forbidden City

Inside The Forbidden City. This looks like a very old picture doesn’t it? I took it in December 2014!

I also made a very quick visit to TIANANMEN SQUARE (ask mom & dad) —



One evening we went to see many things, starting with the Chinese National Stadium, called The BIRDSNEST.  Nearby, is this tower. If I’d taken a video, you could see that the changing colors make the lights look as if they are moving.


That night we also visited a huge place called The Water Cube. It was built for swimming competition at the 2008 Olympics. Elizabeth took this video for you:

Inside the Water Cube is a long water path, covered with glass — can you see what WE saw as we walked along the path?imageWe went to see a performance of Beijing Opera in the Water Cube. This introduction by the director gives you an idea of why the singers sound strange to our ears:

…and here are a few seconds of the opera. Ceci and Finn, can you read the words on the red sign? That might help understand what is going on here. Beijing Opera is what is called “stylized,” and what I call “complicated.” I’ve known some who just call it HARD on the EARS. What do YOU think?

One morning,  Roy took me out to a great bakery on”Lucky Street,” near their apartment. Best bakery and cafe in Beijing?

He and Auntie Elizabeth think so - best GERMANY bakery,

He and Auntie Elizabeth think so! Mary, tell your mommy and daddy that it is a German bakery, and I think they’d like it, too.




Cowgirls and Horses!

Dear Cecilia, Finnian, Augustine, Kieran, and Mary –

I’ve been with some friends and some horses in California. Here is my friend’s daughter arriving at  the farm yesterday morning. Her name is Mary Ellen. Yes! You can see she was very busy.

Mary Ellen had  brought some of her horses to the Blacksmith, or Farrier. Can you guess why?


Can you see what he is doing?

When the farrier  brought out the next horse, he had a moment of what Gus would call freaking out 


In the afternoon, we heard there was going to be a practice  “Roping.” I had forgotten what this meant, then I remembered. Do you know? 

Yes, it’s  a practice for a real event, called Team Roping. One rider must lasso the horn or head (“Header”). The other rider must lasso the hind feet (“Heeler”). To watch, we sat inside the corral. A loudspeaker played country music, as we  talked and ate and drank while Mary Ellen and the others practiced.  It was a little like being at a swim meet,  or a soccer or baseball game, except we wouldn’t have let  Kieran or Mary  loose to run around!

Sometimes videos don’t work for you, so here are some photos (but I really hope you can get the video to work). You can click each picture:

 Mary has 4 dogs. They all look alike (to me!). I think this is Trigger: 



Mary Ellen’s husband wasn’t there, but his  horse, Possum. was, so I rode him for awhile  this morning —  

On Possum

On Possum

I miss you all very much. YOU WOULD LOVE IT HERE!





Mary Ellen  is a very good cattle roper. Set this YouTube Video at 1:30, then watch to 2:08. See her winning last year’s Team Roping Championship!










Waiting for Elizabeth and Roy

Hi, kids – 

I’ve heard that there’s still no swimming because of the Mississippi floods.  So, what do you do instead, Ceci, Finn, Gus, and Kieran? Mary, are you in a kiddie pool in South Bend? I hope so.

You know I am in Sicily, right? In a couple days, I’ll meet Auntie Elizabeth and Uncle  Roy here.  Over the weekend, I was in Palermo, which is a city with as many people as Minneapolis and St Paul put together. Palermo has many wonderful old buildings and hardly any Mafia (ask mom or dad). On Saturday while I was eating dinner outside near a church, I looked up and saw —


I left Palermo Monday morning, but not before this…


 And this (on the left, below). I know it looks like fruit, but in Palermo this “Martorana,” or Marzipan, is everywhere. It’s made of lots of sugar and ground almonds. I looked, but didn’t bite. 

 The other photo is one I took of some girls racing home – I was walking back from dinner a couple days ago, when I was staying in the village of Cinisi. I think they’re about Ceci’s age, don’t you?

So, now that I’m in Cianciana, I can show you the first  place I’m staying, waiting for Elizabeth and Roy. Here’s a 23-second video of the kitchen and stairs. As I say in the video, everything is very narrow (and steep!), I think because the walls are so thick. Can you guess why the houses are built with this kind of wall?

(Hint: it is very hot here!)


Yes, it’s very warm here during the day. Maybe some houses in Cianciana have air conditioning, but mostly, it’s fans. They work fine.

 In the early evening, I  see this little fountain from the kitchen and from the balcony —

Viewdi Eev's


I’ve been trying for an hour to upload a short video of the BLUE SMURF gelato I saw when I stopped at the cafe-bar this morning. The video isn’t working, so I’ll try it another time. I think it will make you laugh!

I miss you all very much, but know you are doing a lot of fun things this summer.