East, west, home is best

The adventure is finally over, or that’s what it feels like when we finally make it back to our wee home in sunny Mill Valley.

The journey home is 2 days long, starting with a train journey from Gothenburg to Copenhagen on Sunday morning, a spectacularly delayed plane from Copenhagen to Heathrow (fueling my complete disdain for Copenhagen airport, which is supposed to be the number 1 airport in Europe – not in my book!), a late arrival at the Sofitel in Heathrow (a visit that is never to be repeated in this vast and impersonal airport hotel), the statutory shout at the reception girl at the end of a long journey, an extortionately priced midnight steak in the hotel room (the only thing that kept C going was the promise of a steak), and then the relief of checking in on Virgin Atlantic (http://www.virgin-atlantic.com) the next day, all hand luggage just about passing the maximum weight test, good old bacon and eggs for breakfast in Heathrow’s crammed terminal 3 (British bacon we will miss you), a good and relatively uneventful flight back to SFO (a few grumbles at the entertainment system – come on Virgin, get it right), great g-free food on board (this Virgin Atlantic gets spectacularly right) and then a stretched limo (by accident) home – much to the kids delight. Phew.

We all feel a little shell-shocked when we walk back through our front door. The kids immediately start pulling out all of their Lego, the house sitter bids the dog farewell with one last long walk (he has been thoroughly spoiled) and the washing machine starts washing – as it continues to do for 2 more days thereafter.

Our friends from Hamburg arrive 2 days after we get home. It’s a little chaotic, but it’s a wonderful continuation of the vacation and an extended escape from reality. The dog finds a willing dog walker in the eldest daughter and the boys delight in the car enthusiasm of our friends son. Hot Wheel races take up the deck outside the kitchen door and a Lego podium is built for a host of Lego guys to be able to watch the races.

When they leave, reality sets in. But is that such a bad thing? I conclude that it’s a pretty good reality. After an apparent long and foggy summer, the sun begins to shine. We cram in a stash of swimming lessons at Homestead pool (www.homesteadvalley.org), where we also take advantage of the 50% off membership (there are some advantages to having been away all summer) and the boys are both supremely comfortable in the water (which we attribute to the amount of time spent by and on the ocean in Sweden).When T falls backwards into a friends pool after a week of swimming lessons (ouch), he swims back to the side without any hesitation. After the initial shock, he declares that he will willingly jump in the deep end next time (oh boy).

C has a visit with Lopsong, his Tibetan doctor (http://www.tibetanacademy.org). Hi pulses are checked and he is declared calm and well. Hooray! We get overly excited at the prospect of being relieved of our gluten conscience, but Lopsong cautions that C should stay gluten and lactose free whenever possible until his teens. A gluten intolerance where play dates, birthday parties and the odd dining experience don’t count, I can deal with. To celebrate, C goes to Subway with M for lunch. Not the healthiest of celebrations, but he has been wishing for a Subway sandwich for months, bless him. M observes how quickly C eats. C is delighted.

I meet, with trepidation, my fellow models and the incredible model committee for the ‘To Celebrate Life’ Breast Cancer Foundation. They host a fashion show each year. It’s a spectacular event that takes place at the Marin Civic Center. All of the models are breast cancer survivors. This year, I’ll be one of them. The meet and greet luncheon is hosted by a fabulous lady in a spectacular house in Tiburon, with sweeping views over the Bay. I am awed by her energy, her house, her garden and her paintings. I think I have found a new person to aspire to. Tickets for the event on September 25th can be reserved at: www.tocelebratelife.org

The pear tree in our garden welcomes us home with an exceptional amount of fruit. The kids delight in helping pick pears and C declares that they are not just ‘good’, but ‘perfect’. The are indeed perfect and I decide to try buckwheat (gluten free), pear, pancakes tomorrow… This is the recipe that I’ll be trying out. I’ll report back on whether it’s a success or not:


  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup milk (I’ll be using lactose free)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (or I think I’ll try agave nectar)
  • ripe pears, peeled and sliced

How to make:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat well.

2. Add more milk or buckwheat flour as necessary to make a free flowing batter

3. Pour a small amount of batter onto a lightly greased nonstick skillet. Place sliced pears on top. The pancakes are ready to flip when the edge starts to look dry.

4. Enjoy!


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