• sisters on a mission.

  • Three sisters. One in Virginia. One in London. One in New York. None of whom wear shorts. Ever.

  • the mission?

    Taking delight.
    Learning Italian.
    Getting to Italy.
    Wearing shorts.
    In Italy.
    June 2011.

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it’s good to be versatile

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement: I’ve been tagged as a versatile blogger!  Many thanks to Laura at SeeGirlRun for the props!

The Rules (there are always rules):

  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself .
  • Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
  • Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

So, seven things about me.

  1. I love foreign languages. At one time I thought it would be really cool to be an interpreter at the U.N.  I speak a smattering of Italian, French, German and Spanish.  I learned Italian when we lived in Naples Italy for three years in my early 30s and can hold a decent conversation after many hours explaining various gas leaks / plumbing problems to the tecnico.  My High school French classes have stuck with me.  I learned German basics when I lived in Stuttgart in my 20s (noch ein bier bitte!).  And finally, after one junior high semester of Spanish I still remember how to count to 100 and say hello, how are you, I’m fine and you?  I would love to be fluent but I just get by instead,  sometimes speaking a mix of French and Italian (Fritalian) when I can’t remember the appropriate word in the appropriate language.
  2. I once received a shocking proposition from an Italian Lothario! As I mentioned, when we lived in Italy, I spent a lot of time with the tecnico that worked on our house.  Salvatore was in his late 70s  – a grandfatherly figure with a twinkle in his eye.  He spoke no English and suffered through my broken Italian at first but by the end of three years I could hold my own in our conversations.  Before we moved back to the states he stopped by while my husband was at work for one last goodbye.  He led with “I want you” as he gazed up into my eyes (he was only 5′ tall and I am pushing 6′).   As I’m thinking to myself “You want me to what?”, he followed up with a barrage of “I love you, I love you, I love you!”.  OK, now I’m getting it.  Obviously I had been sending signals all these years.  I thought I had been saying “I smell gas” when in actual fact I had been saying “please take me now”.   He told me that lots of American women go home with Italian babies.  Somehow I managed to choke out that I wasn’t that kind of woman and ushered him out of the casa.  Yeesh!  It still gives me the shivers.
  3. I had a mid-life crisis. OK, well not really.  I just had a major career change.   I used to be an engineer but at 40 I went back to school to get a B.S. in Interior Design at night with a full load while continuing to work as an engineer full-time during the day.  I went year round.  It was a busy three years but I did it and I loved it!  I practiced residential design for a couple of years but currently I do commercial work.
  4. I dig photography.

    ode to monet by opiliones

    I took a film photography class during my first year of engineering school and fell. in. love.  My flickr name is Opiliones.  I haven’t posted much since I started my new career but one day I’ll get back to it.  You can see my most popular photos here.

  5. I like projects. I always have something crafty going on.  I learned how to crochet when I was ten.  I used to hang out in my yellow bean bag chair, crocheting granny squares while listening to Gordon Lightfoot on my record player (um, yeah, it was the 70s).   These days, aside from fixing up our house, I’m making rugs, scarves, stationery and jewelry.  I have an etsy shop which is currently on hiatus until I have time to get my act together and photograph my growing stash of jewelry.
  6. I like to write. I had lots of dreams as a kid and one of them was to be a writer.  Probably because I was such a dedicated reader.  It was either that or environmental scientist (again, it was the 70s), or an interior decorator (!).  I loved writing stories when I was a kid and still have some of my early work tucked away.  Through the years I’ve indulged my writing fantasies through online classes and blogging.  Running in Pants is my third blog.  The first one is kaput but my second blog, Mixed Bag, is still up and running.  Although I haven’t updated it in a few years, I’m surprised that it still gets daily hits.  Power of the internet.  My last post was a listing of six weird things about myself – and for the record I did get rid of the braces.
  7. I’m a breast cancer survivor. And that is weird to think about.  It was only a teensy tiny bit o’ cancer (Stage O) and was removed with a lumpectomy.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to have chemo, didn’t lose any hair, wasn’t exhausted all the time.  But I did have to do six weeks of daily radiation – no dramas there either.  It’s been well over a year since I finished my treatment but one of my girls is still slightly tanner than the other.   Weird.  Anyway it all worked out and I was given a clean bill of health.   Doing the Komen race was my public “coming out”.   I don’t intend to hide it anymore.

So, there you go.  More information than you needed or wanted to know about yours truly!  I don’t know if I’ll be able to come up with 15 people to tag that haven’t already been tagged but to get started I’m passing this on to:




Looking forward to what you all come up with!


The Kitchen of the Castle

I didn’t go running today, but I did have a long wander through some old photos and stumbled across some from one of my trips to Italy.

Years ago, a couple of friends of mine and I decided to go to Italy and do a cooking course – totally out of left field idea after a few cocktails.  Off we went to Tuscany.  To a medieval, walled village called Tocchi in the middle of nowhere.  And there I had one of my best adventures ever.

The school was La Cucina del Castello.  It focuses on regional cuisine and is run by a guy named Vittorio Cambria, also an anthropologist, who told us so many fascinating stories about the area (I also believe he told me he went to Berkeley). Our classes were taught by local chef Giancarlo Giannelli whose translator, Leonardo from Siena, also sang to us (Opera. No, I’m not kidding).  Giancarlo was also a great story-teller..and poet.  We spent many hours at the dinner table content to finish the last of the wine and hear his stories.  I loved the lingering.

And so, the food.  Everything was beyond delicious – fresh, simple, made with passion for the local produce.  Even the rabbit, which one morning when we came down after breakfast, was sitting on the counter.   Freshly skinned and waiting for us to turn it into something wonderful.  Every day started with the making of the bread…. a very important event.   We cooked everything on an ancient word burning brick oven outside the kitchen.  There is no taste comparison to a conventional oven.

I turned 35 on the last night of our stay.  To my surprise, the chef had made a special dinner, a beautiful cake, and the table was strewn with rose petals.  And Prosecco.  Plenty of it.  The night ended with the awarding of aprons, much music, and lots of dancing with my fellow foodies.  Proudly still in our aprons, of course.

Did I come away a brilliant chef, all-knowing in the art of Tuscan cuisine?  Maybe not.  In fact, I really did more eating than cooking (we secretly called it “eating camp”).  However, every now and then I take out my handwritten recipe to make Giancarlo’s prize-winning pesto and his zucchini with mint bruschetta.  Open a bottle wine.  Turn on the radio.  Start cooking.  And I am transported.  I heart Italy.

If you are interested, they are still in business.  And it’s a great place to go for a run.

La Cucina del Castello Cooking School

on motivation

Taverna Trilussa, Rome, summer 2008

Two years ago we three managed an impromptu girls-only week in Rome.   For years we had been talking about meeting up somewhere and when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it.  It was beyond fantastic.  We focused on food and exploring – avoiding the tourists crowds as much as possible.

Mostly though, we enjoyed some much needed sister time without the usual distractions.   At the end of the trip, we vowed to do it again.  Preferably every year – realistically every few years.   Next summer is the three year mark.   The wheels have started to turn.   We’re still trying to decide on a location – Rome is a favorite but there are others high on the list.

The thought of running around Italy again with my sisters, consuming large (but respectable) quantities of pasta and prosecco, and not caring if a breeze catches my skirt and exposes my legs is really all the motivation I need right now to keep up with my training.

It’s okay to run in pants.

There’s something that happens

between this

and this.

And we think we are smack in the middle of it.
The middle.
It’s a perplexing place to be.
We think to begin to figure out this place, if indeed it can be figured, it’s going to require some muscle.
Might as well start with getting the flab less flabby.
Before we have no choice but to wear the grey habit.
Which will be fine someday.
These ladies look content.
But. And. Plus.


Heather | I  loved to run when I was a kid.  Loved to run fast but not far.  For most of my adult life I’ve been psyching myself out of running altogether with a lot of great excuses.  Really – I have plantar fasciitis, practically no cartilage in one knee, etc. etc.   But in the fall of 2008, I signed up for a “Seal Team” fitness class for a couple of months and realized that, although I was slow, I could eventually work my way up to a few miles without passing out or limping.  We ran on dark trails on winter mornings.  It was a challenge and it felt good.  I became a fan of  Under Armour.

Then a slew of medical issues hit me and I was out of the running again.  Tack on meds, a crappy diet, stress, not taking time to work out and moving into my mid 40s and pretty quickly I vowed never to expose my legs in public.  Ever. Again.

I’m ready though to take back my body and lose the long pants.  My sisters and I have set a goal of running – in Italy!   Fueled by pasta and Prosecco, I know we can do it.

Cathlin | I’m a runner.  Ok, well, I used to be runner.  That however was when I was much younger (used to run with a walkman – that should tell you how many years ago it has been).  And  it was when I lived on the beach in Orange County where the sun always shone and I had nothing but time.  Then…..I had twins.  Moved to London.  Turned 40.  Years later, I still have my selection of running shorts and sports bras in my bottom drawer.  They have  survived many purges to Goodwill because I really have been planning to run again.

And now I have the motivation to do so – running with my sisters in Italy!  Which I hope is nothing like the running of the bulls in Spain.

My biggest problem however is my legs. Pasty-white (for God’s sake I live in London). Cellulite.  Spider-Veins.  Would this also require shaving?


Colleen | I want to ride a scooter through the streets of Rome. In a skirt and heels with big sunglasses. And a scarf. I always run in pants. In Italy, I think I will run in a skirt. Without the scarf. With the sunglasses. Are we shooting for half-marathon? Good grief. 14 months. Help.