For our upcoming vacation, only 3/4 of my family is available. Unfortunately, the one who’s really talented with luggage is staying behind to work. My plan is to:

  • fly internationally with two small children at a children-to-adult ratio of 2:1
  • pick up a rental car, drive five hours
  • arrive in a town where I don’t speak the language, don’t have any friends or relatives, and have only a loose sense of regulations related to parking.

Here’s why it’s going to be just fine:

  • it’s FRANCE!
  • we’ve been there before, not just to the country, or the town, but to the same stone cottage.
  • we get to see Neo.

Neo is a dog. He lives at the farm next door to the cottage, and he is wonderful. Sweet, joyful Neo, who streaks across the field toward us when he sees the kids coming up the road, and who brakes hard right before he gets to them and walks up, wagging. He’s a licker but not a barker, he’s soft and fast and snuggly, and after a round of playing, when we’re all lying on the grass in a pile together, he looks at me, wiggles a little closer, and sighs. Neo is a good dog.

There will also be strawberries, great wine, fresh oysters at the farmer’s market, pâté and more pâté. If history serves, I will be able to acquire them with only minimal damage to my dignity (my French is the linguistic equivalent of the novice violinist: eager, shows some promise, and sounds really terrible.)

Is the trip worth it? Of course not. Climate change is happening, and frivolous travel – especially via plane – is inexcusable. Even if the tickets didn’t cost much, and the rental car is the smallest available, it’s still an egregious use of resources. If I were applying for an excuse approval, though, I would say that Max – thanks to his genetic condition – is not only not going to live all that long but is also non procreative, thus sparing the world generations of resource use! Max can’t travel by himself, and needs his care team with him at all times. He has had difficult, painful times too often in his 6 years, and the pleasure that he gets from playing in the sun with Neo is



of life.

We’re talking about the idea of God a lot lately, about how to be a critical thinker and about the pitfalls and benefits of organized religion*, and when we talked about the idea of God being everywhere, and the idea of a feeling of God, playing with Neo was one of the examples.

And this is the part where I make a crack about finding God in pâté. I’ll try!

*I’m a super fun Mom, have I mentioned? Here, have a peanut butter sandwich! On wholegrain rye bread with a truly miserly amount of honey.