The Valley Line: A cruise in the Mediterranean

Enough already! Two weeks of unrelenting temps of 90-plus is inhumane. Maybe Mother Nature was inspired by the Olympic Games and was trying to set a new record of consecutive oppressively hot days.

And just to throw in new elements, she sent us humidity that raised the heat index practically off the charts.

One day when I was running what seemed like an endless series of errands, my car thermometer registered 110 degrees. That is when I threw in the towel and headed for a movie theater to forget it all for two hours of fantasy and cool air. By the way, I had to wear a sweater in the theater — I was thrilled.

After 17 days of watching sporting events of the XXX Olympiad in London, I'm exhausted. In my own way, I felt some of the athletes' pain: I happen to have a pulled Achilles' tendon to recoup from. It isn't any fun.

Now that the excitement of the London Olympic Games is over, we are settling into the drowsiness of the dog days of summer.

I always wondered where the term “dog days” came from. According to the source I found, the Greeks may have been the first to use the term, and it was recorded in Aristotle's “Physics.” Then the ancient Romans adopted it, referring to it as “dies caniculares.”

This hot time was associated with the star Sirius. Sirius sometimes is known the dog star because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, or large dog. At the beginning of the hottest season, the Romans sacrificed a brown dog to appease Sirius because they believed the star caused the heat. So there you have it. I just knew there had to be a good reason.

Marijane Hebert and her extended family, including the La Cañada bunch of Janie and Scott Schroeder and their kids Mary, Laura and Mel, recently returned from Greece and Rome, where they did experience dies caniculares.

This La Cañada group met 20-plus members of their extended family in Rome. The others came from as far away as Minnesota to meet for family fun on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Equinox, a Celebrity Cruises ship.

Marijane was thrilled that all three of her daughters and their spouses were able to come along for this very special family getaway.

Coming from Minnesota was her daughter Teri (Flintridge Sacred Heart grad of 1980) and her husband John Dick; daughter Nathalie (Sacred Heart, Class of 1984) and her husband Jeff Snyder from Northern California; daughter Janie (Sacred Heart, 1982) and husband Scott.

This grand adventure began first with Marijane and her granddaughter Laura Schroeder, who graduated this year from La Cañada High and is now a freshman at Regis College in Colorado. The two flew to Venice, where they spent 10 glorious days in this city of canals.

They then met up with the Schroeder family in Prague. This family group then traveled on to Austria, where they first stayed at the beautiful Hotel Schloss Durnstein that sits at the edge of the Danube River. This picturesque village is in the center of the Wachau, the wine-growing area of lower Austria. They then traveled on to Salzburg and stayed at the luxurious Villa Von Trapp, the family home of the Von Trapps (of “Sound of Music” fame) from 1923 to 1938.

It was after their Austria adventure that they met up with other family members in Rome to begin the cruise, which Marijane reports was “incredible.”

Among their ports of call were Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus, Turkey; and Naples, Italy, before they made their return to Rome.

They hit all the places that one must see in the Eternal City. They even took an extra side trip to Assisi to see the great cathedral there, which was begun in 1228 and is an important Christian pilgrimage site in Italy. It has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2000.

As you can see, a lot of miles were covered in this six-week odyssey for Marijane, and it is a beautiful memory of precious time spent with her family.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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