The Happy Wanderer

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

This is an interesting topic given that we’re in the throes of planning a trip to Italy for late spring.

Seems to me you can’t leave much to chance anymore, especially if you want to see the major sites.

To avoid line-ups you need to pre-purchase tickets. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. I detest line-ups anyway.

To book events you must do it often months in advance. This we learned the hard way when we tried to buy tickets to a performance of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna on the day of the performance. What were we thinking?


Lippizaners at the Spanish Riding School, Vienna, Austria


We’ve always been fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of travellers so it was huge disappointment to find out our approach to vacations had denied us a chance to see the Lippizaners dance. Instead we enjoyed a tour of the stables and a viewing of a daily practice. This was a thrill, of course, but not what we’d wanted. So, experiences like this, I’ve learned, can no longer be left to chance.

The same with flights. I don’t know if people are travelling more or the airlines are flying fewer plans, but it seems to me gone are the days when you could book a trip three months in advance and expect a reasonable seat on the plane. I suppose the fact that you can now book your seat when you reserve your ticket has had an effect on that too.

We booked our flights to Italy yesterday and we’re not even sitting together on our flight home. Adrenal fatigue has made long haul travel uncomfortable for me the past few years, and wilting (and I mean wilting) beside a stranger on a 10-hour flight is not my idea of a good time. It’s bad enough it happens when I’m sitting next to my husband. I hope we can get someone to switch seats with one of us.

So, as I look at our Italian itinerary, I am determined to make sure we secure the appropriate city passes for events and venues in Florence and Venice ~ two ports of call sandwiching a week in a Tuscan villa. If there’s one thing I don’t want to do it’s stand in long line-ups to see The David. I must use my precious energy wisely.

And we will stay in good hotels. We won’t skimp on quality here … ever. Been there. Done that. It’s a grey t-shirt and uncomfortable. 😉

Sure, some things we will leave to chance. Travel, like life, ought to leave room for a little spontaneity. But for the big things we’re going fully prepared.

We’re planning a trip to London for later in the year. A research trip for my novel. I will be booking major activities in advance. I’d like to attend opening night at the opera; experience afternoon tea at the Ritz; find a nice old pub my characters can hang out in. I’ll do the research for those things in advance and make reservations as necessary.

As I grew up in London and am familiar with the West End and other areas of my youth, I’ll also be happy just to wander, reliving some old memories and taking in the sights with my fresh eyes.

Sounds to me like a bit of pre-planning and some happy wandering make for a balanced travel experience.

I’m good with that. 🙂


Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014


Other Happy Wanderers

Be a Hero | Rima Hassan
Prison | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
Moon-rock | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
California: a fat wave* of options | Andrea Reads America
Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer-How an Introvert Travel (pics) | Journeyman
Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
The Happy Wanderer: My Travel Style #DailyPost | The Wayfaring Family
Travel Style | From Journo-baby to Journo-babe
Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
The Unhappy Wanderer | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
DP Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Sabethville
How to Get a Green Card: A Lesson in Planning and Letting Go | Kosher Adobo
There’s Nothing There & Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers | The Jittery Goat
I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
love-hate | yi-ching lin photography
Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer’s | My Outlook on the World
I love airports | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
An Uncommercial Traveller | The Ambitious Drifter
Just following the sun… | Hope* the happy hugger

Just Another Sunset

Just Another Sunset

Just another setting sun,

Another burning sky.

Another chance to bid the day

A lingering goodbye.

A fiery prelude to the night

Tired spirits to renew,

As nature’s warm enduring light

Now fades away from view.


Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

A Slice of Winter and A Wish For Spring

The Green Barn

I have tried to avoid the subject of winter because we’ve had so much of it this year. Still, here it is. Let’s look it in the eye.

Mountains of snow. Treacherous ice in amounts not seen in decades. Temps below zero for such an extended period of time my beautiful rhododendron, sadly, has finally given up the ghost.

(I hope the greenhouses are well stocked for a spring rush.)


Normal temperatures for this time of year range in the 1C area. Today we’re deep in another polar vortex that’s going to take us through until Saturday. We’re talking -15C with a wind chill of -25C. Triple-blanketing weather for my horse who’s already shedding his winter coat.

Which way?

A dear friend in England sent me a note yesterday in which she included the cheerful news that the first snowdrops had begun to show. I can only dream of a blanket of snowdrops when I’m staring at a bank of snow.

It’s going to take a long time for this mess to disappear.

Still, the days are getting longer. My horse continues to shed his winter coat. And little by little the snow, and the three inches of ice underneath, is melting. (But not today, of course.)

Let’s end on a happy note.

Longed For Tulips

I’m looking forward to seeing these purple darlings in my garden again.

Stay warm. Stay dry. Be happy.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Treasuring Inner Beauty

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure



I’ve been collecting labradorite for years.

It is a beautiful and mysterious stone which, at first, appealed only to my eye. But when I learned of its healing qualities as well I realized that I was drawn to it because of the way it also spoke to my heart.

I have labradorite in almost every room of the house. Wherever we travel I look for a piece, either in jewelry or a rough or polished stone, to bring home with me. It’s only been on the rare occasion that I haven’t been able to find it.

The stone depicted is  one I purchased in a rock shop in Banff, Alberta. I always gravitate to the labradorite section of such a shop (in Banff there are many). Unless a person is aware of the qualities of the labradorite they’ll usually just walk by it because at first glance it looks like a grey stone with a bit of colour in it. But it is so much more.

I will spend several minutes oohing and aahing over each stone that tempts my eye. I will pick them up one at a time, cradle it, hold it to the light and watch as the stone comes to life, the luminescent colours dancing and playing between peacock blue and green and mauve or orange or whatever its particular essence holds. It’s totally mesmerizing.

I am a child again, searching for special rocks in a mountain riverbed that I can take home and add to my ever-growing collection.

In this shop I inspected a number of stunning pieces of various sizes and opted for this one because I liked that it was polished on one side and rough on the other. It’s about two inches high by one inch wide and another inch deep and can be held comfortably in my hand. As I didn’t have one like this in my collection I decided it would come home with me. I think it, along with another stone I selected, cost about $40. Now it’s priceless to me.

It wasn’t until I got it home to Ontario and had a proper opportunity to inspect and meditate on it that I realized what an incredible find this was for me. In fact, I have thought since that it wasn’t so much that I found the stone but that it found me.

I discovered that when I look at the polished side of the stone at a particular angle under a light source the impression of the head, neck, shoulder, chest and a raised front foot of a horse magically appear. If you look at the image here you’ll see it. I had to set the stone up carefully against the base of my desk lamp and cradle it with a lace doily to make it work, but it is clearly visible. Maybe you won’t see it right away, but it’s there. For reference, the nose of the horse is blue.

When I first noticed this it took my breath away. My passion has always been horses. Horses are an important part of my life journey. I couldn’t believe that a simple stone I’d picked up for one reason ~ its appeal to my eyes alone ~ actually spoke to me at a much deeper and more spiritual level.

So, as you might imagine, what might seem an incredibly boring chunk of Mother Earth to one person is actually a treasured piece of her inner beauty to me.

Perhaps this simple stone also illustrates the notion that beauty is not always obvious and is to be found in the most unusual places. All we need to do is open our eyes, and heart, and see it.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂


©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Shout Outs

Nature on the Edge

The Best Years Are

Living In The Moment

Old Man Winter and Mother Nature have a Spat

Looking to the west from the ancient settlement of Old Sarum in Wiltshire.

England’s green and pleasant land. … Looking to the southwest from the ancient settlement of Old Sarum in Wiltshire.


We were in England in September. Spent some time traveling through Somerset, Berkshire, Surrey. So, so beautiful. What a terrible state of affairs to see, by the news images, so much of these areas, and more, covered in flood water.

It’s been a brutal winter all over, of course. Ol’ Man Winter and Mother Nature seem to be engaged in some kind of angry spat.

In the U.S. northeast a massive snow and ice storm, which has already battered areas in the south unfamiliar with such weather, is currently blasting through.

In southern Ontario, temperatures are finally rising to within a few degrees of zero Celsius following weeks submerged in the -12C area and lower and a snow storm almost every week.

It’s practically balmy out there now!

Of course, with an ice storm of our own passing through here just before Christmas, leaving in its wake massive power outages, millions of dollars in damage and wreaking havoc to our tree canopy, we understand the chaos of the unexpected, catastrophic weather event.

With any luck this winter will go in the annals as one never to be repeated and we’ll all move ahead into a glorious spring.

Wherever you may be this winter, I wish you well.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy 🙂

What’s the winter been like where you are? 


©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Everyone’s A Critic

I’m writing a novel. A tongue-in-cheek murder mystery set in the world of melodramatic opera divas and dysfunction. I’m having fun with it. I was raised in that world. It’s time to poke a little fun at it.

Recently I’ve acquired some help.

Indiana, my 17lb bundle of feline flesh and fur has taken it upon himself to do a little pre-editing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Is it possible I indulge him just a little too much? 😉

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂


©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Something Blue …

Something Blue

The weather brains say that temperatures tonight in southern Ontario will plummet to -40C.

This makes me feel a bit blue.

[Sigh …]

Still, let’s turn that blue into something beautiful.

Here’s some lovely hydrangea ~ one of my favourite summer flowers ~ to help ease the pain.

Just eight weeks, or so, until spring. 😉

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂


©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

A Drive In the Country … Yorkshire Dales, England



Not for the faint of heart

Those devil-dare roads

That wind and course

And spill o’er vale and rambling hill.


‘Tween walls of stone unyielding.

Scarce room to breathe as

Bumper whispers to bumper

“Take care o’er there by Malham Cove.”


As mists roll in a view obscured.

One dare not say, nor breathe, a word

As through the rolling roads we pass and

Pray for cushion of the grass.

Dorothy Chiotti
All Rights Reserved


Malham Cove

Malham Cove

This short, haphazard poem was inspired by a rather haphazard drive through the Yorkshire Dales.

My husband wasn’t driving at the time. His uncle, who resides in Skipton, sped us through a jam-packed one-day excursion, which took us by many lovely ancient villages; up into the hills at Malham; over to Bolton Abbey and whatever else he could squeeze into a whirlwind tour.

The scenery was glorious. I really wish we could have spent more time there.

It was a long driving day and Lloyd’s uncle, who is 86 and has lived in the area for many years (and who swims 34 laps of a 25 metre pool four mornings a week), drove those familiar narrow, winding stone wall-lined roads like a speedway ~ that is to say FAST!!!

To be fair, everyone drives those roads ~ roads that were never designed for modern-day passing traffic ~ like speeding demons.

It’s all part of the charm, I suppose … and why it’s unlikely I shall ever take the wheel of a car in the Yorkshire Dales myself. 😉


While in England, in September, I adopted a bit of a writing experiment.

As we travelled by car around the country, my husband driving, I kept a blank-paged journal and a pen ever at hand to write down whatever inspired as we went.

It was a fun exercise which, apart from leaving me with a few inspired gems (and some jibberish, but that’s the creative process, right?) also instilled a greater sense of how much of my heart still resides in this land where I spent my formative years.

The view inspired, the memories flowed, my heart was filled and the words came.

I’ll be posting them as the spirit moves.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂


©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

The Beauty of Loss

Daily Prompt: Unexpected/Loss

SIlver Lining


We often think that to lose smoothing means the end. To me this is a limited view. The beauty of loss is that it also marks an incredible new beginning. Sometimes, when we are in the middle of the loss this is a difficult view. Nevertheless, it is true.

When my grandmother passed away some years ago I made the active choice, in the midst of my sorrow, not to wallow in feelings of loss. To me this was not productive. Of course I needed to mourn, but to take it beyond a healthy release of stress and emotion didn’t seem to me to be the best way to honour what she meant to me.

My grandmother was a go-getter. After leaving my grandfather following 27 years of emotional and psychological abuse, she somehow had the strength to make something of her life. The scars of her experience with him never left, but she made the most of her loss of faith in relationships and people and did what she needed to do to make her life her own again.

After she died I decided to honour her memory and strength of spirit by making the most of a sad situation. I wanted to turn my loss into an expression of new life, and I did this by honouring my need to heal.

Not that I thought of it in those terms at the time. I simply made up my mind that her death would not be in vain and that the best way to do that was to pick up the broken pieces of my life and start again.

In essence, granny’s death marked the birth of my long journey to self-awareness.

So, what did I do?

Well, we had a shared love of horses, so I knew she would have loved this. I quit corporate life to pursue a dream of working with these beautiful animals. I was in my early 30s at the time, unhappily married and barren. I was at a point in my life where I really needed to start making sense of things; needed to see a few of my dreams come true.

Working with horses (please see my Freshly Pressed post Confessions of a Coaching Intern: Finding Clarity with a Pitch Fork and a Song) put me through a refiner’s fire. I leaned on my promise of making good of my loss and honouring my grandmother to get me through some really tough moments. In the process, I began to explore my suppressed creativity, which eventually lead me to working with people who could help heal a lifetime of pain.

The loss of my lovely gran had paved the way for me to learn how to live authentically, and I have always believed in my heart that she would have been proud of my choice to do so. No matter how difficult our relationship had been, I knew she wanted me to be happy.

And now, when I look at my life and how much more grounded and happy it is; when I see how far I have come since that sad summer of 1994, there’s hardly a day that goes by when I don’t think of granny and the positive life-altering experience that came of my sad loss.

How we handle loss is, of course, a personal thing. I have chosen to adopt the attitude that every cloud has a silver lining. That to honour the person or anything else that is lost by honouring the life and blessings I still have is a greater tribute to what is gone than to sacrifice my happiness on the alter of bitterness and self-pity. Granny would not have wanted that for me. Up there in the heavens she has the pleasure of knowing that I have made good. It is also her blessing to observe how happy I am in my life now compared to the miserable woman I was at the time of her death.

The beauty of loss is that with every ending there is a new beginning. I believe those we have lost who truly loved us would want us to live our lives fully and joyfully.

It doesn’t mean the journey will be an easy one, but at least we’ll be heading in a positive direction.

To me, life is too short to look at it any other way.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂


©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

More of the Unexpected

Dreams Soar | crookedeyebrows
Death. | ♥Bob’s Magical Land Of Oz♥
Daily Prompt: Unexpected | life n me!
Monuments to Loss | Finale to an Entrance
Remembering My Mother | The Pinterested Parent
Daily Prompt: Unexpected | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
The Lurker’s List | In Silence
Daily Prompt: 20 Days Left….Unexpectedly | Not The Sword But The Pen
Love and Loss | The Nameless One
Daily Prompt: Unexpected | Finding Life
Sideswiped by the Unexpected | The River Mom
Life Happens, Good and Bad | Kansa Muse
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” | Beauty
Signed Unknown | Ashes of Roses
Daily Prompt: Unexpected | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
Signed Unknown | Ashes of Roses
TEARS STING | hastywords
The Road Not Taken Does Not Exist
Not alone | Life is great
In Loss We Often FInd Ourselves | An Upturned Soul
Loss | the ephemeral petal