God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Italy Once More...2015

I used to love planning a trip, particularly pre-internet days when we would pour over maps planning the itinerary, familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the new country, writing city information offices, getting big packets in the mail with all the wonders of..say..Munich. Flying was fun, discovering places and restaurants without Trip Advisor et al was exhilarating, having lots of serendipity moments made great memories, life was an adventure. 

Somehow some of that has been lost but travel is still planning, exploring and serendipity, just 2105 style rather than 1985. And, even though we have now been to Italy many times, including once for a full year, planning for Italy always is accompanied by excitement and anticipation. Usually part of each trip is slow travel and part is expediency. There are times when what you want to visit and see is too spread out to allow for slow travel. So, our 2015 trip has some of each...leisure and hurry.

We are also at the stage that, though there are many, many parts of this country that remain mysteries to us, we find that we prefer to spend most of our time re-experiencing places we have been and love. No matter how many times we are someplace, there is always more to see and learn...nooks and crannies we missed before. Sort of like exploring your hometown after a visitor talks excitedly about a gem you didn't know existed...after living there decades. 

So this year, it is mostly has beens, in fact, all except for a couple days spent with friends in the home we have never visited. This will be one of the special times which we all look forward to. 

The biggest hurdle for travel in our new world is the chore of getting from here to there. While flying and arranging for flying used to be fun, it no longer is..at all, ever. It is now no more than the means to the end. So, we have our United flights from San Diego, Newark to Venice, which I will admit is nice as I thought we would need to fly to Milan and then work our way to Venice and then return Rome, Newark to San Diego. We're still waiting for upgrades. Even though we have hundreds of miles, using them is difficult..didn't used to be that way, did it?

Our first stop is a week in the lovely Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia...Venice. I am so looking forward to this week for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the wonderful appartment we will call home for the week. I have an excellent report that it is lovely and its location is superb in sestiere San Polo. Casey will have a friend from Cortona join us for the week as there are times when you are 16 that being with mom and dad is Boring.  A highlight for them will be a gondola rowing lesson along the canals...Row Venice plus, I suspect they will be doing their own exploring in the calles and campos. Ken and I are already making a list of restaurants--both ones we have been to and ones we want to check out. With a bunch of friends who spend weeks and months there every year, we have plenty of recommendations.

If you have ever been to Venice, you know that we will spend minutes and hours lost in the maze of calles, campos and intertwining neighborhoods called sestieri.  These times are so much of the charm and siren call of this city, unique in the world. Combine this with the unexpected and magnificent art found in churches and galleries, the amazing palazzos along the canals, the sense of a past society of intrigue, riches and way of life unlike any other and you know you are a spectator of untold mysteries and scandal. Every turn is meant for the photographer.

The Grand Canal

From this fairytale place we move onto Cortona and return Matteo to his family and then to our favorite place on earth, Sant' Antonio in Montepluciano for another week. That is a post of its own. And then...friends, Greve--our home for the year, Almafi, Positano, and finally Roma. More on those things in more posts...maybe.

Sant' Antonio

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Meet Scratch--The Best Ever Dog!

Be sure to start with the yellow cover. You may have to back up to that.

We miss him….a lot!


Click here to view this photo book larger
Visit Shutterfly.com to create your own personalized photobook.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shrimp Curry Recipe

Yes, I know, I should be writing about a month in Italy, but that requires sorting through pictures from 3 cameras, three phones and one iPad...a rather herculean task. So, instead, I will share tonight's dinner. Actually, I am doing this so that I know what I did, where to find it and try to replicate it someday. It really was quite good as attested to by Ken and Casey.

Unfortunately, true to form, I forgot to take pictures. When one is hungry and the aroma of food is overwhelming, who thinks of a camera?

SHRIMP CURRY RECIPE
This is a mishmash of several recipes. It was quite tasty.

1 14oz can coconut milk
4-5 tablespoons red curry paste (entire 4 oz. jar)
Julienned carrot
Julienned red pepper (however much)
Potato cut into small cubes
Sugar snap peas
Thin sliced onion
1 cup chicken broth (more or less)
2 tbls Asian fish sauce
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 or so tablespoons Thai basil (if you have it)
Chopped cilantro
Shrimp (small shelled, deveined)
However much you prefer: hot chili oil, siracha, red pepper flakes.

So, this is what I did:

1. Heat up small amount of the coconut milk in a skillet
2. Add the red chili paste and heat for a couple- three minutes
3. Put in the veggies, stir to cover with paste and cook for a few minutes...stirring
some
4. Add rest of coconut milk and cook for a few minutes until veggies are the way you
like
5. Add shrimp, broth, fish sauce and brown sugar. Cook until shrimp is ready.
6. Stir in cilantro, thai basil and a dash or two of lime juice

Serve with jasmine rice.

As usual, no picture.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Lemon and Tarragon Chicken

A couple days ago I was sitting in Scratch's chair while helping Casey with his physics--well, more like encouraging him as I know zip about physics. This is Scratch, our beloved, spoiled puggle.


As his chair is next to our floor to ceiling bookcase in my office, I perused some of the books on the bottom shelf and noticed a put out to pasture cook book..."Simply Italian" by Valentina Harris, a descendant of the Renaissance Sforsa family.

Flipping through the pages, while feigning an interest in physics, I saw a beautiful photo of a chicken dish. Normally, I flip right past chicken but this looked good. So, yesterday, I made it and tonight we had left overs. It was very good last night and even better tonight. Yummy good.

Lemon and Tarragon Chicken

25 g. (1oz.) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 chicken joints
Salt and freshly milled pepper
250 ml (8 fl. oz) chicken stock
3 egg yolks
Juice and grated zest of one lemon
About 10 tarragon leaves, chopped

Heat the butter and olive oil together in a deep pan, then seal the chicken joints quickly in the hot fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cover with the stock...(I put in extra stock.). Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. (Think I did somewhat longer.)

Take the chicken out of the pan and arrange on a warm platter. Raise the heat under the pan and beat the egg yolks and lemon juice and zest into the remaining juices with a whisk. Pour this over the chicken and sprinkle with the tarragon (which really adds to the flavor.) Serve at once.
Serves 6

I used peeled boiled potatoes the first night and rice the next night. Both were good with the gravy poured over.

This is so simple but so good. Enjoy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, February 18, 2013

Costa Rica--Tortuguero Part 2--The End

Well, have been back from Costa Rica for  6 weeks and am now getting around to finishing blogging it.  Last night Ken asked if I had finished writing which was quite remarkable as I usually have to nag him into reading it.  I think this summer I may break down and blog while traveling--maybe or maybe not. Most likely not.

So, our time in Costa Rica ended in a taste of paradise--nature untrammeled by civilization and people.  In some ways reminiscent of the Galapagos but even though it is awesomely beautiful it is not as totally pure or as breathtaking as the innocence of the wildlife there. Our Galapagos Trip

Leaving our lodge we headed down the relatively wide Tortuguero River leading to the Tortuguero National Park. In the park, the river narrows with byways and small offshots that Ferdinando, our guide, expertly navigated, going deeper and deeper into the forest. We were surrounded by the calls of the wild--birds and mammals. It seemed as if we were often exploring little creeks with beautiful toucans floating above the jungle tops.

 
Galapagos
Costa Rica
The trees hid    colorful iguanas (quite different from those in the Galapagos)-- hidden that is until  one fell off its  perch, splashing  loudly in the water,  barely missing a very startled Casey.


We heard monkeys carrying on extended conversations as they called to each other across trees. At some point in the conversations, one would decide to jump from limb to limb, tree to tree--sometimes through the air from one river bank to the other. It was truly awesome to be in the center of this everyday life. Watching the incredible acrobatics and gymnastics became a ballet and dance form--far different from the theatrics of the Olympics. Casey, the ever patient photographer, waited for this shot, poised to press the shutter at just the right moment. Magic!


On the way back to the lodge, Ferdinando treated us to a detour to the Caribbean coast. With engines revved, we rushed along the coastline with the spray of salt water hitting us. It was fun.

That night we had another moment of magic. When we entered the open air dining area, the young woman said "Please come with me. We have a special place for you tonight." Not having a clue as to why or what was happening, we followed her to the small picturesque thatched roofed area overlooking the pool. Gas lamps and torches and candles lit the circle. There was just one table, beautifully set. We were led to it by the young man in black who became our private waiter. A large barbecue was set up next to a table spread with huge amounts of beautiful meats, vegetables fruits and breads. The lodge's chef was there cooking and preparing a most sumptuous banquet--just for us. There were beef, pork and shrimp shish kabobs, corn on the cob, several vegetables dishes, mangoes, strawberries and watermelon. To say we were stunned would be an understatement. Now we truly were on Fantasy Island. We were there 4 nights and never saw other guests receive this treatment.  Even now as I write, it seems very dreamlike. Certainly it is indelibly etched on our minds, never to be forgotten.

















































After dinner, Casey retrieved the guitar hanging in the guest lounge and played for Ken and I as we sipped our espresso and savored the very special evening we had spent together.





The next morning after a leisurely breakfast, we packed up for the last time and waited for the little air chariot to take us back to San Jose and our flight home. The staff lined up once again to wave good bye and wish us a return.


 As Casey said, "the hard part of traveling is the going home." I think he has the bug.


Casey the co-pilot.