I just got back to the Eternal City after a truly incredible vacation with many family members and friends in two beautiful places, Southern California and enchanting Hawaii. I literally traveled half way around the world – 12 time zones from Hawaii to Italy! – leaving on a redeye Sunday night for San Francisco and traveling on to Chicago Monday morning and then from Chicago to Rome last night.

Travellers in either Business or First Class almost always receive what is called an “amenity kit” and, while these vary from airline to airline, they usually include a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, eye shades, socks, some type of hand or face cream, etc. A few airlines even offer First Class passengers sleepwear! The kits usually bear the airline logo or perhaps the designer of the amenities (very often they are name brands) and can often be reused as cosmetic bags or shaving kits on future trips.

I traveled on United Airlines and had upgraded to Business Class so had a terrific flight. Those of us in Business received a very special gift, offered only during the Olympics by United as they are the official carrier for Team USA Olympic athletes. Here is our amenity kit ( I love the socks and eye shades!):


The case  – like the fuselage of an airplane –


When we arrived in Rome I felt like it was my first time ever as I saw a section of the airport I had never seen before – a new arrivals hall, new booths for passport control officials, etc. Another first: no wait at all for my bag! Fiumicino Airport has been notorious for years for very long waits for bags. In fact, I usually take out my iPad or a good book and sit down for what I know will be a long wait. But not today!

This morning I got my new suitcase immediately but I can’t open it! I have been using TSA locks with a key instead of a numerical keypad (I have three of those and all are broken), and I cannot find the key. It was not in the one pocket of my purse where I always put it and I am guessing that means it fell out when I opened that pocket for the Euro to pay the taxi driver or it is on my bed in Hawaii where I laid the plastic bag with the key and a second lock after closing the suitcase.

Today is August 16, one day after the biggest holiday of the year – the feast of the Assumption, when just about everything in this country except restaurants and resorts closes. No other keys I have worked on this lock and the stores I needed today were closed – “Gone on Vacation.” I have a tool kit and nothing there worked either. I need a mini saw and will have to wait until tomorrow to see if our doorman Carlo has one – he is off for the Vatican holidays of August 15 and 16. The neighborhood hardware store is closed until August 24 and obviously I cannot wait that long.

Yes, I did pray to St. Anthony but still have not found the key.

My friends Trip and Jan McKinney, with whom I stayed in Aeia, traditionally offer a massive brunch on one of the Sundays I am in Honolulu for all of our mutual friends. This year was no exception and Sunday was no exception as friends came by after morning Mass, with a few more dropping by in early afternoon.

Here are Trip and Jan as Trip prepares his very special omelets –


Maria DeVera and her award-winning dog –


Enjoying a cup of Kona coffee!


With Sr. Davilyn – a Sister of St. Francis, the Order of St. Marianne Cope. Sr. Davilyn is a true authority on St. Marianne, and is the principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help school. She gave me the lei I am wearing that I wore back to Rome and now have in a special place. I cannot remember the names of the flowers but they are very long lasting.


Enjoying our omelets: In red is Audrey Toguchi, a remarkable woman whose cure of lung cancer through the intercession of St. Damien of Molokai’i led to his canonization in 2009.


With Sisters Malia Dominica and Marykutty Kottuppalil (she gave me this beautifully perfumed lei made with, among other flowers, tuber roses. I wore both on the plane later that night.


I will miss my loving, talented, amazing Hawaii friends so very much, and I will also miss these views from the lanai of my guest quarters, including Pearl Harbor!


A close up of the Arizona monument (white) in Pearl Harbor –


….and the “Golf Ball,” a giant satellite unit