Summer Daze


I always love reading a book on a hot summer day, and usually my typical novel is something to do with a great setting. Well, yesterday, I was flipping through this months Travel and Leisure Magazine, and came across this list of great books with a great backdrop.

By Francine Prose

1. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann. Nothing has ever captured so well the beauty and the pulse-racing creepiness of this gorgeous city.

2. Le Divorce by Diane Johnson. Reading this smart, delightful comic novel provides all the fun of a week in Paris without having to leave the house.

3. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. Read it to find out how little the splendor of Florence has changed – and how much people have.

4. GraceLand by Chris Abani. The sights and sound of Lagos, Nigeria, pulse through this vibrant novel.

5. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. My favorite of Murakami’s books reveals all sorts of familiar – and hidden – aspects of Tokyo.

6. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. This imaginative first novel is set in an alligator theme park that could exist only in southwestern Florida.

7. Gryphon by Charles Baxter. The American Midwest reveals itself as a place of great beauty and strangeness in Baxter’s eloquent fictions.

8. Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Granted, London has changed a lot since Dicken’s time, but whenever I go there I feel I’ve reentered one of his novels.

It’s time for me to get down to business and read some of these. They sound great and a few can be read online for free!

Check out some of my favorite travel novels as well.


Hot Tamale!

Wow, it’s hot here in Toronto today. 31, but feels like 39 with the humidex. Phew. Summer has arrived! As I glance over at my dog, enjoying the sun on my balcony, I notice how much he is panting away. Same thing with me, I am seriously thinking about my air conditioner right now. But I just can’t do it. That isn’t fair. I need to enjoy this amazing day, after that long winter we just had.

So as I enjoy this scorching hot day, I need to think of ways to stay cool and calm. These tips also help me out when I am on my various travels, like when I went to both Morocco and Hawaii during their hottest seasons (August).


1. Grab a cool drink – Whether it’s water, a glass of chilled white wine, or the classic lemonade drink, cold liquid will do the trick.

Here is a simple lemonade recipe that I like to use, if you are at home or packing for a picnic:

1 cup sugar

1 cup lemon juice

4 cups cold water

Mix well! Add frozen strawberries as the ice cubes!

2. Wear something lose and/or light. When I am on my travels, I really enjoy bringing sundresses along. They are easy to just slip on and I don’t have to worry about what I need to pair with them. They are also easy to pack and don’t take up much room.

Spanish Steps - Rome, Italy in 50 degree weather

3. I really like to take an empty spray bottle along and slip it in my purse to give myself fresh spritzes of water throughout the day.

About to fill this up - overlooking my balcony on this scorcher of a day

4. Do all your touring in the morning and evening. Try to stay indoors, or visit air conditioned museums in the middle of the day, when it is the hottest. If it is just a shame to be indoors while on vacation, try a beach or a pool. Frequent dips keep me cool! BUT I also like to be sun savvy – wear your waterproof sunscreen! Another thing that we did in Italy was to find the side of the road that was shaded and only walk on that side, out of the sun.

I'm ready to jump in. Los Cabos, Mexico

5. Relax, walk slowly, enjoy the sights, sounds and sun at a leisurely pace!

Happy scorcher!

Jellystone…I mean Yellowstone National Park (sorry, my boo-boo)

Yogi and Boo-Boo

Let’s keep with the theme this week. National Parks week.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am currently in my summer travel planning zone. School is almost over, the weather is beckoning me to come hither…so basically I am forced to start setting my sights on a summer plan that will leave me feeling amazingly relaxed, while leaving my face with a perma-smile for a few weeks into the next school year in September.

Also as mentioned this week, I love visiting national parks. One park that has always tempted me, gave me those nudged, winked at me, flicked their geysers at me… is Yellowstone National Park. I teach about it every year in my class and secretly spend my hours thinking about how I could turn this into a field trip with my classes.

Thirdly mentioned was my tour guide for the parks experience last summer, my boyfriend. His second home is Yellowstone. He knows where to eat, where to camp, the names of the specific animals, (and I mean individually), the sites that are must-sees, and when to go when no one is around. Perfect fit me thinks!

Ok, this really has potential. But I have 6 free weeks to explore the world. So maybe this is an option for a week or two…stay tuned for more!

Summa Time 2011

Being a teacher can be challenging and stressful at times, but I love it.

Especially now that the year is winding down, I can see how far my students have come from that first day of class in September.
Especially now because the sun is visiting us for longer periods of time, and I don’t have to wear a jacket to work.
Especially now since I get to start thinking about my summer adventures…

Not sure if I can top last year, filled with 3 weeks trekking around Italy and another 3 weeks hiking around Alberta National Parks and Vancouver. This year, I have no ideas, and I am on a budget. Six weeks of possibilities.

What to do, what to do…. stay tuned!