Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today was a touring day. Of all of the places I have traveled I think Siena has to be one of my favorite cities and now I add to that list the little medieval village of Castellina in Chianti Italy. Castellina is the small village that is only 5 minutes away from Mimma's. This little gem of a place has one main church in the city center. I went inside today and it was lit by candles and a the sunlight coming through a few keyhole windows. In other words, no electricity. The floor was made of old terra cotta tiles and the benches where made of wood smoothly worn with time. It was a quiet cool place to sit and reflect and pray.

I did a little shopping at the Tabacci. This is an inexpensive place for general supplies and attached to it was also a nice kitchen store with quality products. At our cooking class we used a knife called a Mezzo Luna. I bought one at the kitchen store as well as a grater and wooden chopping block stand. I found a nice painted ceramic plate for olive oil when served with bread. Lots of little other things but those were the finds. Then on to a few more stores. On the cobblestone streets I made my steps a little more carefully back to the car. Before leaving Castellina I bought a Caprese salad for a take away lunch.

Siena was only a short drive away but I made it longer by stopping at the pull over areas on the side of the road to take pictures. The scenery was so beautiful in every direction. The countryside changed from lots of vineyards and olive groves to open fields of hay and still some vineyards-Tuscany wouldn't be Tuscany without vineyards. Along the drive between all of the towns there are vineyards that have aperto signs that means open for wine tastings. And speaking of the drive between towns, I have never seen so many curves and winding roads. In this part of Tuscany there are only 2 lane roads. The curves and the hills make the drive between the towns a little longer because of the stops and turns and slower traffic-although I must say they do drive fast here and take the curves at a fast pace. You can certainly tell the locals from the tourist by the way they drive. (A few days ago on our way to Montevari a car pass 4 cars at a time on a 2 lane road.) When driving from village to village or hamlet to hamlet you really have to watch the road signs. Sometimes the road is more or less turning between buildings rather than turning at intersections.

Finally arrived in Siena. Mimma told me to park at the stadio (stadium) and to get there she said to look for the sign of the football she said You know? then she drew a soccer ball. Oh, yea, that's what they call soccer here. After getting a little lost trying to find the city center, I arrived and parked just inside the city walls. When I say walls, I mean Walls! The old city is surrounded by brick and stone walls that are the height of a 4 or 5 story building. I started walking toward the Piazza del Campo or city center. Streets that are sloped downhill lead to the Piazza but along both sides of the narrow streets are shops and shops and shops.
The Piazza is grand in every way. It is horseshoe shaped and speaking of horses that is what this town is known for. Two times a year they have a horse race in the middle of the city in the stone courtyard and the race is called ll Palio. Jockeys are from each of the different areas of the city so it is a claim to fame if the horse wins from your Contrada. The title is proudly held and vied for by all the towns people year by year.
In the Piazza today I found a seat in the shaded portion of the 6 row wooden grandstand that surrounds the Piazza. Outdoor cafes are all along the courtyard as well as souvenir shops and Gelato shops too. And yes I had Gelato while I sat and did a little people watching. Tour groups with their director holding above her head an umbrella so as to be seen weaving through the crowds and families on holiday and the locals filled the walkways around the Piazza. Mostly I heard voices that were Italian, German, or French but also there were quiet a few English speaking tourist. I met people from Virginia, California, Washington State, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee.
One of the most interesting sights was a young woman beggar. She was a gypsy and that is something familiar to several areas of Italy. We have been warned to be leery of them because they are expert at being a pick pocket. On the seated area above the crowds I was far enough away from her yet close enough to watch her "work" the crowd. She was dressed in a long brown skirt with a band of silver sequins along the hem. She had on an orange and green shirt and a necklace of plastic snap together beads in bright colors. She had long brown hair that looked like it could use a good wash. She was a young girls but it was hard to judge her age. Maybe late 20's. She was holding a baby that was dressed in a pair of footed pajamas in soft yellow and the baby had a white thin blanket draped over it's head and down the length of the body. I couldn't tell if it was a baby boy or girl. She had the baby in her arms supported by a sling made of fabric that was tied around her neck. She would walk among the tourist as they were in the center square and hold a paper cup and ask for coins. Many people looked at her and instantly shook their head and turned away. I know this is a scam but it was still hard to watch the disappointed look on her face. She was a good actress. She moved quickly from tourist to tourist asking young students, men, women young and old. One local she asked was pushing a baby stroller and she said No! and strolled her baby on by. She walked around with the baby on her hip, left the square and in 15 minutes or so she was back again. Later when she left another gypsy lady came by with 2 children, maybe 3 and 5 years old. She had a paper cup and was dress similar to the other gypsy girl. This beggar went up to 2 different sets of tourists who were having lunch at the outdoor cafe and both of these gave her a coin. Then the waiter walked over and stood near by with a look but not saying a word as that may look bad on the restaurant and the gypsy and her children left without confrontation.(I don't know if this is the case in Italy but years ago when I was on a trip throughout India we saw beggars everyday, several times a day- from old men, to families begging as a group, to orphaned young children who were standing on the corner beside the traffic lights. The young kids, 8, 9 or 10 yrs old would come up and tap on the window of the car and plead for money. One time it was an old man and our terrific guide and friend Sara (through our "rolled up and locked" car window) she pointed out that the man had leprosy. Another time a young girl holding a sleeping baby approached us near a park and pleaded for money for food for her baby. This sounds harsh to turn away, but Sara explained it to me that these beggars are part of a "ring" or gang of sorts. They have a boss to report to and are paid very little but they have very little in life so it is $$$. They are then "assigned" a corner or territory from where they are to beg. It is life threatening to the person or the "boss man" if the beggar goes to a different street or city corner. Those that look the worst, the youngest, the saddest, or have a baby usually bring in more $$. However, in some cases they give the baby drugs to make it sleep or look less alert and lifeless so the tourist will feel sorrow and give money. But again, the money does not go to the sad looking individuals but rather to the "beggar boss and his ring". Ah... sad indeed. This is a day to day life existence for a few for the food and for some to buy drugs,or other vises. This makes us realize that we are fortunate Americans.
Now on to another topic.

After people watching for about 2 hours or more, I started my walk around the city Piazza. The outdoor cafes lined the sidewalks with large umbrellas to shade it's patrons. The souvenir shops set as many wares as possible out on the sidewalk to lure in the tourists. Dress shops hung blouses and dresses and hats from their doorways. Expensive shops had lavish window displays to catch your eye. Prices marked in euro trick me into buying but then I remember the added price once it is put on my credit card for the difference in the dollar and euro. Thank goodness it is not as bad as it was a few years ago when I was in London feeling "American poor" to their rich Euro. However, along with a few souvenirs I did buy a nice an antique silver spoon to add to my collection.

As I was nearing the top of the hill I saw a young priest in his robes standing at the side door of the church. I took his photo from afar but I think he saw me anyway. He started slowly strolling the length of the side portico and I still couldn't resist snapping a few more photos.
Many other kind of photos later on my walk back to the stadio to get my little strawberry car and I am on my way leaving Siena...Ciao.

I stopped at Tre Porte which means 3 doors in the center of Castellina just as the last of the sunset time and was seated at a table by the window overlooking the valley. The stone wall and open window with oak shutters were just what I needed to end a long day.
For dinner I ordered and antipasti-starter of "Il percorino al forna col meile" which is a fried percorino cheese with honey. For Primi Piatii-first course I ordered
"Gli spaghetti alla chitarra con pesto fatto in casa" which is spaghetti chitarra style with basil parmesan cheese and pine-nuts. Claudio Ravinetto is the chef that I talked to after dinner to tell him it was a delicious meal. He told me he also has a one day cooking class that he does here at the restaurant and at hotels in other parts of Italy particular for Americans tourists. The meal was wonderful!

I am late in returning to the villa as it is now 11:15 at night.

What a fantastico day,
Ciao,
Kathy

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sorry for the confusion. This is the post from yesterday. I had trouble connecting to the internet the first few days and it has come to my blog by way of me in bits and pieces. Maybe by the end of the trip I will have mastered this "blog thing". My photos are not loading to the blog through my laptop connection by way of Mimma's computer so that will have to be later.
Soooooo here is a little of my "yesterday"......

A day of rest. Guess the travel has caught up with me today and although we are free all day from cooking school activities and you would think I would drive somewhere to visit/tour/shop/ instead I stayed the day in my room. A little bit of sitting outside on the terrace and a little walk to the pool for photos but really just resting until late afternoon when I got in my Strawberry car and headed to an evening of cooking!

This afternoon we gathered at Mimma's sister's house. Franca has a lovely villa and a large vineyard that she calls small. Because I arrived early, I was able to take a few photos before we started to cook. The grounds are beautiful with rosemary shrubs that are huge landscape bushes in Italy. Franca had so many rose bushes I lost count and so much lavender and rosemary no one could keep count if they tried. Along the rock wall below their deck was Jasmine in full bloom and Mock Orange below that. So to stand on her deck in the late afternoon sunshine and breath deeply was just a memory in my mind forever.
As you look out over the vineyard the tops of the lush grape vines show lots of new growth so the color of the vine near the ground is rich deep green graduating to the top where it is chartreuse green. Franca says this new growth will soon be cut off to allow for more of the nutrients to go to the grapes instead of the vine. This trimming of the grape vines is done by hand.
Franca welcomed us into her cooking kitchen and we adorned our Cooking School aprons. We made an appetizer that I will have to look up the name but it was very good with red and yellow peppers prosciutto etc etc. Also we made chicken in wine sauce with carrot souffle and we also made egg plant lasagna with b├ęchamel sauce.
For dessert we made GELATO. Vanilla with Lemon Cello sauce.

Wine was served from Franca's stock of her vineyard from table wine to dessert wine to the wine we cooked with in the chicken and the lemon sauce. Wine Wine Wine
Franca signed one of her Vineyard bottles for my bottle tree. I hope it makes it back in one piece inside my luggage.

Tomorrow is an early morning with a trip with the Tuscan Momma's as we drive to the market in Montevarchi, Italy.

Check back later for reallllllll photos of me cooking!

Ciao
Kathy


A little out of order.....here is the first day

I left my house in the pouring rain today heading to the airport. Scott Chase and Hayes were at the airport to send me off. As they were standing over to the side in the waiting area and as I was almost to the security check, yelled to them " OH, I've changed my mind, I don't think I want to do this after all." Scott says well, OK you don't have to. Pause.... no, I want to go, bye, I'll be fine. And off I went.

Raining cats and dogs but the plane took off with great speed and then stopped on the run way then started turning around. Low groans from all passengers as we expected to have to deplane. The captain told us he was starting over at the end of the runway again because he had to break for "wildlife" on the runway. Yes we are in Alabama.

Getting to Charlotte I rode the special assistance shuttle to my next gate. I have found with my fibromyalgia this little bit of independence that I give up is really a big help. Most of the time traveling on this little golf cart through airports other passengers slowly move out of the way but today was different. The driver had been using something different for about 2 weeks and boy did it work. He said another traveler had given him the idea. As he drove through the crowed airport terminal he used a little had bell to ring to let others know he was coming up behind them. We moved along with good speed thank goodness as my plane was getting ready to board as I arrived at the gate.

On the plane and headed to Frankfurt Germany. I usually don't sleep well on the plane but thank goodness I got several good hours of sleep and arrived in Germany the next morning.
Passport check and I am ready to head to the next gate. Another American family traveling with the high school and college age sons were on the same flight. Between planes before boarding to Italy the sons went to "have a smoke" and didn't get back in time to board the plane. We were not at a gate but on a bus from one plane to the next because of a tight connection. The plane with the Mom and Dad on board left Germany with out the sons. "Smoking-a bad habit" the parents tried to call their sons' cell phones but they were "out of coverage area". The flight attendants were talking with the parents and I think the boys were on another flight soon. Hope they all got reunited.

LANDED in ITALY. I went to the rental car place and there it was... a real cutie.... my little car for the week. It is a Fiat PANDA isn't that a cute name for a car, Panda. But the color of the car is strawberry. Not red, not burgundy, it is a pearlized strawberry color and let me tell you it is Cute!

Got the directions and headed to the villa where I am staying. Only got a little turned around on the autostrada but then found the right direction and arrived early about 2:00 at the Villa.
I met first on of the other guest, a man named Andrew from London who is staying here with his wife. They are not in the cooking school part but rather as he told me in his wonderful British accent, no my wife and I are here on holiday for the week just to be Lazy.
I like that idea too.
Mimma greeted me next as she came out of the house with Ciao Ciao ,Ciao Bella Kathy from America. She helped me get settled unloading my car. Next in her farmhouse kitchen she offered me a platter of cheese AND a Diet Coke. I knew instantly l liked her. The Diet Coke I had on the plane was bottled in Afghanistan, this one tasted better. Mimma was getting ready to cook with some people from America that were not staying at her villa but had signed up for a one day cooking lesson. They owned a restaurant in Massachusetts I think I remember her saying.
I will tell you more about Mimma later in the week.

3:00 in the afternoon, it is raining a soft slow rain, and jet lag has set in. After offering to help in the kitchen LOL I know, what if she had taken me up on the offer to help LOL, and seeing that Mimma was busy, I decided a nap was just the right thing.
A few hours later I felt much better and my voice had returned with a little rest.(For those of you reading this that don't know sometimes as part of my fibromyalgia, when I am tired or have done too much I loose my voice- no fun).
Still raining a little I get in my little strawberry Panda and dive a few miles down the road to the closest little village called Castillano. It is Sunday night at 8:00pm so most stores were closed. I stopped in a little place where I instantly knew I was the only American there. I had on a white short raincoat and everyone else there was wearing black or gray-yes this is Europe alright- they way everyone dresses here. I found a seat took my raincoat off and then I was not the outsider since I was dressed in black pants shirt and shoes. Ha

Lots of men young and old were watching football on TV though we would say they were watching soccer. A young mother at the table next to me was there with her 2 boys probably 8 and 6 yrs old who were both wearing a hoodie with the name of the soccer team that was on TV. I did a little more people watching and sat for a while to make it worth my while since I had driven in circles for 25 minutes trying to find a parking space. I guess that is why the locals walk a lot instead of driving cars. Later I found out there was a play next door and the parking spaces were limited.

Back at 10:00 at the villa and I am settling in for the night. I will describe the villa later this week also. Sleep is coming to me again so I will close.

Ciao,
Kathy in Tuscany

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It is hard to upload photos from here so I will try later.
Today started early... well, for me anyway. I had breakfast in Mimma's kitchen and we talked as she was getting ready for our morning lesson on Olive Oils.
I sat on the terrace and wrote in my travel journal for a long while. The terrace is on the second story of the villa that Mimma and her husband Fernando have restored. When they bought the Villa it was in ruins and they have lovingly restored it to it's glory today. The main house is dated in the 1400s. The property is 150 acres with 4 houses as part of the villa.

Our session today started at 10:00 with an Olive Oil tasting and then we followed with lunch on the terrace. Mimma and her husband own the Olive Grove that is seen from the back acreage of their home. Here they harvest the olives then bottle and sell the olive oil in Italy and other parts of Europe as well as some areas of America. New York for one.
We sat at the farm table in the kitchen which seats up to 12. Also in the kitchen is a large fireplace with a hearth about 3 feet deep and 6 foot wide. In the kitchen is an old white enamel oven that Mimma rescued from a house where the owner wanted a new oven. It is in pristine condition. What a find! Atop the oven she displays an oversized hand painted Italian ceramic urn filled with fresh flowers. Also in the kitchen is a large standing height chest that Mimma uses as her desk and above it is an extra large plate rack where she has blue and white porcelain, copper chargers, and beautiful Italian painted dishes. Ohhhh. The other side of the kitchen is her gas stove and refrig and stainless sink. Her countertops are....white marble! There are no over the counter cabinets as we would have in America but since they shop almost everyday for fresh food, they don't have a lot of need for canned goods in the pantry. Her furniture in the kitchen and the dining room house her dishes. A huge old barn beam floats like a mantel the length of the kitchen wall where she has wonderful platters pitchers and terrines. I guess this would describe the kitchen of a great cook and Mimma is that for sure. We talked about the table "in" the kitchen. In America most of us have a table in the breakfast room. However, as Mimma described her table it is a place to eat, a place to work and a place to gather with family and friends. Also her family sits and talks while she and others are cooking.
At our Olive Oil tasting lesson, Mimma told us about her harvest and production. She grilled fresh bread and served it hot to us so we could taste the different oils she had from Australia, from other producers as well as her own. Mimma was at the oven grilling hot bread a few at a time so it was fresh and hot during our tasting. Then we tasted hot bread with different balsamic vinegars. Yummm.
Lunch was next outside on the terrace. We were served PASTA of course! and a salad with a bowl of tomatoes so we could add our own to the salad as much as we liked. Everything was so fresh! A pork dish with a cream sauce with tuna was served.(OK you know how I feel about seafood so I passed on that and ate more salad). For dessert we had an apple tart with a warm cream sauce. Wine was served of course in abundance.

That afternoon I drove to Radda, Italy. It is a town about 20 minutes away. I wondered the cobblestone streets waiting for a few shops to open. Here everyone takes an afternoon nap. The shops close from 2:00 to 4:00 everyday. A few stores were open and Mimma says to this that "there are a few shops being more 'modern' by staying open" but 90% of the shops close for the afternoon. A little cafe was open and I sat outside and did a little people watching-something I love to do.
In Radda I bought a small terra cotta piece to hang on the wall in our family room. It is the sun God with grapes around the face. I thought this would remind me of Mimma's sister Franca who owns the wine vineyard. Tomorrow night we will go to Franca's to cook in her farmhouse kitchen.
While in Radda I walked around and took photos too. Along the way I saw a young lady with her easel set up and she was painting oils. I asked if I could take her picture and when she answered something sounded tooooo familiar in her voice. I asked, where are you from? Her reply...Georgia near Gainesville, but I live now in Oxford Mississippi. Small world indeed. Her husband was in his last year of Law School and he is interning this summer so she was taking a week of painting classes while she was traveling in Italy with her parents.

On to Gaoile. I drove another 20 minutes and found a small village of shops and started strolling down the cobble stone streets when it started to rain. No more photos for a while so I ducked into the nearest shop and stayed for a while. So did many other locals so it was fun to step back and listen and watch their interactions.

I met my group in front of the old church where we gathered to drive up to the top of a mountain for dinner. My group consists of 2 couples from Milwaukee who drive together and a Mother/daughter from Boston who drive their car, myself in my strawberry colored cute little car, and Franca-who is one of the Tuscan Mommas(our teachers).

When we get to the top of the mountain we have a fantastic view of the countryside below. The name of the restaurant is called the Poppy translated from Italian.
Here are a few photos.
I must close to get on to the next adventure.

Ciao,Mimma's terrace
Kathy
walking down to the terrace from Mimma's pool
this is the view from her kitchen window

Radda, Italy
Gaoile Italy


Monday, June 21, 2010

hello from Italy

I left my house in the pouring rain today heading to the airport. Scott Chase and Hayes were at the airport to send me off. As they were standing over to the side in the waiting area and as I was almost to the security check, yelled to them " OH, I've changed my mind, I don't think I want to do this after all." Scott says well, OK you don't have to. Pause.... no, I want to go, bye, I'll be fine. And off I went.

Raining cats and dogs but the plane took off with great speed and then stopped on the run way then started turning around. Low groans from all passengers as we expected to have to deplane. The captain told us he was starting over at the end of the runway again because he had to break for "wildlife" on the runway. Yes we are in Alabama.

Getting to Charlotte I rode the special assistance shuttle to my next gate. I have found with my fibromyalgia this little bit of independence that I give up is really a big help. Most of the time traveling on this little golf cart through airports other passengers slowly move out of the way but today was different. The driver had been using something different for about 2 weeks and boy did it work. He said another traveler had given him the idea. As he drove through the crowed airport terminal he used a little had bell to ring to let others know he was coming up behind them. We moved along with good speed thank goodness as my plane was getting ready to board as I arrived at the gate.

On the plane and headed to Frankfurt Germany. I usually don't sleep well on the plane but thank goodness I got several good hours of sleep and arrived in Germany the next morning.
Passport check and I am ready to head to the next gate. Another American family traveling with the high school and college age sons were on the same flight. Between planes before boarding to Italy the sons went to "have a smoke" and didn't get back in time to board the plane. We were not at a gate but on a bus from one plane to the next because of a tight connection. The plane with the Mom and Dad on board left Germany with out the sons. "Smoking-a bad habit" the parents tried to call their sons' cell phones but they were "out of coverage area". The flight attendants were talking with the parents and I think the boys were on another flight soon. Hope they all got reunited.

LANDED in ITALY. I went to the rental car place and there it was... a real cutie.... my little car for the week. It is a Fiat PANDA isn't that a cute name for a car, Panda. But the color of the car is strawberry. Not red, not burgundy, it is a pearlized strawberry color and let me tell you it is Cute!

Got the directions and headed to the villa where I am staying. Only got a little turned around on the autostrada but then found the right direction and arrived early about 2:00 at the Villa.
I met first on of the other guest, a man named Andrew from London who is staying here with his wife. They are not in the cooking school part but rather as he told me in his wonderful British accent, no my wife and I are here on holiday for the week just to be Lazy.
I like that idea too.
Mimma greeted me next as she came out of the house with Ciao Ciao ,Ciao Bella Kathy from America. She helped me get settled unloading my car. Next in her farmhouse kitchen she offered me a platter of cheese AND a Diet Coke. I knew instantly l liked her. The Diet Coke I had on the plane was bottled in Afghanistan, this one tasted better. Mimma was getting ready to cook with some people from America that were not staying at her villa but had signed up for a one day cooking lesson. They owned a restaurant in Massachusetts I think I remember her saying.
I will tell you more about Mimma later in the week.

3:00 in the afternoon, it is raining a soft slow rain, and jet lag has set in. After offering to help in the kitchen LOL I know, what if she had taken me up on the offer to help LOL, and seeing that Mimma was busy, I decided a nap was just the right thing.
A few hours later I felt much better and my voice had returned with a little rest.(For those of you reading this that don't know sometimes as part of my fibromyalgia, when I am tired or have done too much I loose my voice- no fun).
Still raining a little I get in my little strawberry Panda and dive a few miles down the road to the closest little village called Castillano. It is Sunday night at 8:00pm so most stores were closed. I stopped in a little place where I instantly knew I was the only American there. I had on a white short raincoat and everyone else there was wearing black or gray-yes this is Europe alright- they way everyone dresses here. I found a seat took my raincoat off and then I was not the outsider since I was dressed in black pants shirt and shoes. Ha

Lots of men young and old were watching football on TV though we would say they were watching soccer. A young mother at the table next to me was there with her 2 boys probably 8 and 6 yrs old who were both wearing a hoodie with the name of the soccer team that was on TV. I did a little more people watching and sat for a while to make it worth my while since I had driven in circles for 25 minutes trying to find a parking space. I guess that is why the locals walk a lot instead of driving cars. Later I found out there was a play next door and the parking spaces were limited.

Back at 10:00 at the villa and I am settling in for the night. I will describe the villa later this week also. Sleep is coming to me again so I will close.

Ciao,
Kathy in Tuscany

ps, I have no cell phone service yet...


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yep, it really is called the Rattlesnake Saloon


A few more photos by request for the RATTLESNAKE SALOON. This is a restaurant that is in a cave. When you arrive you park your car in the parking lot and then as they say "get in the back of the truck" to be transported down a very steeep hill to the Rattlesnake Saloon.
For lunch we had burgers and "snake eyes" {fried sliced Jalapeno peppers}
and "snake tails"{fried green beans}

Boy, we know how to find the coolest places when it is Dora Week-always an adventure.

Kathy
PS we didn't see any rattlesnakes.....

"OK Mam, just hop on the back of this here truck"

driving down the steeeeep hill

along the way down the hill, a spot to rest


seating just inside the cave

cousins: Clara, Marynell, Kathy,
Dora, Kathryn (AKA Aunt Kathryn AKA Momma)
My Momma



Dora the explorer


Why a picture of the silo's? Well that's a story
for next year when it is Dora Week of 2011.
Tune in again this time
next year for the explanation of the silos.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010




A few photos from Dora Week 2010


Yes we went to Coon Dog Cemetery. Well, all I can say is I can now check that off of my Bucket List.
Yes we bought lottery tickets at the place we stopped for lunch near the TN State line.... but we didn't win the lottery.

Third photo: Can you guess where we were by looking at the painting that hangs on the wall there???????









































The photo below is called: Dinner at cousin Joycelyn's Home. Dora, Jpycelyn, Kathryn, Joyce, Kathy. Joycelyn cooked her famous Shrimp and Grits. Dora mad a triple layer chocolate cake with "made from scratch" chocolate cream cheese icing. The word for the night was Yummmmmmm




We went to eat breakfast at Staggs, but I ordered a hamburger. Staggs has been in Florence since 1936.















This photo was made earlier in the week. Every year for Dora Week, Momma has a dinner for a few cousins and she always cooks what we call-Vegetable Night, seeeeeeee, and she made a Blackberry Cobbler.











Sunday, June 13, 2010

In just a few days my family will be off on adventures in different parts of the world.

Italy and Germany for me! (more on that later) AND New Mexico for Scott Chase and Hayes.

I will start by telling you about the New Mexico trip. Hayes and his Scout troop will be backpacking in the mountains of New Mexico at Philmont Ranch. Scott will be going as a Dad and Chase will be going as an Eagle Scout and Hayes as Crew Leader.

To go to this ranch you have to make a reservation. A few years ago when Chase and Scott went for the first time this was the process. The phone line reservation is only open ONE DAY a YEAR. You give the phone number to friends, secretaries, neighbors, everyone you know. IFfffff someone gets through, they make a reservation for Hampton Cove troop and...... that is your reservation for TWO YEARS FROM THAT DATE.
Some of the reservation process has changed but to say the least this is A TRIP that has been PLANNED for A LONG TIME!!!!
Planning for this means training. The guys have been on 5, 10 and 20 mile hikes in a days time here locally. Also they put on their backpacks and walk on the treadmill with boots on so they are use to carrying the weight. You have to log in so many miles before you can fly out there to the Ranch.



We have had a slight problem. {{{Houston we have a problem.}}} Two weeks ago on a one day 20 mile hike, Scott wore Hayes' size 8 boots. After mile 15 he realized the boots were not wet and needing stretching, but rather THEY WERE THE WRONG BOOTS. So they sat down on the trail and traded boots. Hayes his size 8 and Scott the correct boots-Size 9 1/2.
Here lies the problem. His big toe nail was so damaged he had to have minor surgery and have his toe nail removed. OUCH! Bandaged and hoping to heal within a week and a half he is now out of his boot cast and hopefully will be able to wear a few band aids to get his boot on. This might seem like it is not a big deal, but to wear hiking boots for over 2 weeks everyday going several miles in the mountains does present a problem. Please pray for no infection along the trail.


Houston we have another problem....... Last Saturday I got a text from Chase (who is working in DC this summer). "Mom, I am OK, but I am in the ER in Washington" Well that text can send a Mom into a mild panic. He fell and hit his head on the corner of a table causing a bad bleeding head injury to the back of his head. His roommates called the EMT and they arrived and drove him to George Washington Emergency Room. After the bleeding stopped he had staples put in the back of his head. When he left the ER he called to say he was "OK, really Mom, I'm OK really. No I don't feel dizzy. Yes the doctor said to come back in a week to have the staples removed. No you don't need to fly to DC, I am fine Mom REALLY!" Well ok is all I could utter.
Now that I know you are OK, tell me how this happened at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday in your dorm room Chase. Pause...... Well, pause...... I know I am going to regret telling you this, but I tripped on some clothes that were on the floor. See some friends and I were in a hurry to go out and I tripped on some clothes-also my laundry cleaning bag was on the floor (and you know how slick the nylon bags are) and (they have that draw string ) and (I was wearing flip flops) and......
Uh Hmmmm-hasn't your Mother always told you to pick up those clothes off your floor??????
Well, we will give him a little bit of a hard time but OH ARE WE SO THANKFUL TO GOD that our Chase is OK . It could have been worse.

So now, Hayes......stay well and safe! You have to take care of your Dad and your big brother on this trip.

They leave at the end of this week. I know they will have a great time in the nature that abounds in the mountains, hiking, filtering their water from the stream, pitching their own tents, eating similar things to Army rations, building campfires, and NO SHOWERS for days!!!!!!!

WELL, I will just say, they are actually so excited about this 3 week trip.... and I am glad it is them and not ME.



Happy trails,


Kathy

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dora Week- Do you know what Dora week is?

Dora Week is so much fun. My Momma's cousin is named Dora and she comes to Florence every year for a week. We call it Dora Week and we drop everything and PLAY for the week that she is visiting.
Dora Week is now 22 YEARS OLD. But the tradition actually started long before that. Dora's Mother was my Great Aunt Geneva. I loved that woman! Aunt Geneva used to come stay with us when I was a little girl. She would come for a week and it would be a week of cooking, eating, hearing about her family, visiting cousins, telling old stories, laughing a lot, and going around town so everyone got to visit with Aunt Geneva. She was such a happy person and she took up so much time with me and she always made me feel like she really came to town just to visit Me. (I guess my Momma felt like she came to visit just her etc etc.)
Anyway, I loved the week Aunt Geneva came to visit because she stayed in my room and I got to sleep on this new thing called..."Wall to Wall Carpet" WOW that was great fun.
Aunt Geneva was called to be an Angel in 1987. Of course her daughter Dora came to Florence for the funeral and the burial in the family cemetery at Railroad Bed Cemetery in Iron City, TN.

The next year, 1988, Dora came for a week to visit us and to put flowers on her mother's grave and that was the week that began the 22YEAR TRADITION of Dora Week.


Now that you know about Dora Week I will tell you a little about Dora Week 2010 in my next post.

Here we go with the FIRST page of the new Blog......

Well here we are on the first entry of the "Blog thang". My cousin Kay and my friend Kathy G. and so on and so on have been trying to get me to write a blog.
Ok, in a week moment, I said yes and here we are.

Why am I writing a blog?
1. Because I want to journal my everyday life.
2. To share trips that I take far and near.
3. To Stay in touch with friends and Family

All of the above not necessarily in the correct order......LOL

So thanks for visiting my Blog spot and "Hang on for the Ride".......

Kathy