Wednesday, June 25, 2008
  The Meal

Here are some photos of the wonderful meal I mentioned in the previous post.

The Antipasti - The rolled appetizer had eggs and cheese. One of the breads had a tuna topping and one was mushroom. It was all delizioso!

The Prima -the freshly made pasts and sauce were sublime.

The Secundi-Spicy Chicken. As good as it looks.

What I don't have a photo of it the fantastic tiramisu that was desert. It had lots of chocolate and was flavored with chocolate covered coffee beans.

I also don't have a photo to share of the lovely woman who came to the house and prepared this wonderful meal. Or, one of her son who was charming and handsome and served us our meal as we sat here.

They were truly the first Italian people that we "met", although we had of course encountered people in the airport and in train stations. They both made terrific ambassadors.

*thanks to ny niece "Shirley" for the photos.


Monday, June 23, 2008
  The Villa

After an 8 hour plane ride and travel by two different trains, one of which was a hour late, we arivved in Terontola-Cortona where we were met by my BIL, the Captain, my MIL, Peaches, and my niece Shirley. They had arrived a few days earlier. kind of an advance team for our assault on Umbria. They had rented a nine passenger van. We secured the car seat that Sarcas-sis and her hubby carted all the way from home and we were off to the villa. It was a short trip to just outside Mangionne where we turned onto a road that ran through some farmland . Road may be a bit generous. It was a gavel path. One that Sarcas-dad said would probably measure 100 yards if it were straight. It was more like a mile.A mile of hairpin twists and turns on a gravel surface. No problem for those zippy little Smart Cars. We had the 9 passenger van. The Captain had no choice but to attack the hill full speed ahead and hope for the best. He had already run off the path into a dirt once before we got there.
We made it to the top and got our first view of the villa we would be staying in.
I'd say the ride up the hill was definately worth it. Wouldn't you?

Here's some of the view from the top of the hill.
That first evening, the Captain and Peaches had arranged for a local woman to come to the villa and cook us an authentic Umbrain/Tuscan meal. I won't go into too much detail here, because there are pictures on someone else's camera. When I get them I will tell you more about the meal in detail Suffice it to say, it was delicious. And it didn't hurt that we ate outside among the olive trees, sipping vine and watching the sun set on that view.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
  Real Estate

Just before we left on our trip, Sarcasdad and I reached one of those mile markers in life. We paid off the mortgage. Yep. The old homestead is ours free and clear. Actually we paid off 2 mortgages. The original one we took out 30 ears ago, and a second mortgage we took out when Sarcasmo started college. The final payments were due a month apart.
Just about the time we were sending in the cashiers check for the first mortgage payoff, I began noticing a lot of bird chirping outside, especially in the mornings. Then one day as I sat on the sofa, facing the front window I noticed a Robin flying in and out of a fir tree that grows in front of our porch. We have 2 fir trees, that we planted when they were about 2 feet high. Now they are reach up to the second story of the house. From my perch on the sofa I can watch Momma bird feeding worms to some newly hatched babies. My view is perfect. Strangely, even though I know exactly where the nest is in the tree, I cannot locate it when I am outside of the house. Momma Robin has it very well camouflaged.
One day, in the beginning of May,the chirping was particularly incessant. I took a look outside and on a branch of the other fir tree was a fuzzy little baby bird. Momma Robin was hopping frantically from the fence to the trees, chirping all the while. Little by little, baby bird made it's way down the tree branches. I twink it may have been a flying lesson.
The next day, all was quite in the tree by the porch. No chipping Momma. No hungry babies. I really missed them.
The day we came back from Italy, I was sitting on the sofa, facing the front window and guess who I saw. Just today I got a glimpse of some newly hatched babies with their beaks upwards and open, as Momma goes on worm runs.
She's welcome to stay for thirty years if she likes. We'll take back the mortgage for her.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
  Mi Scusi

We arrived back in Philly today, after a wonderful week in Italy. I am afraid I will be regaling you with my travel stories for days to come. Right now as I am sure you can imagine it is all running around in my head. We have a ton of photos to sort through, which will no doubt trigger even more memories. I will even have he CP's fist ever travel video , which he took with his own video camera, to share. I think you will enjoy it.
For now, just a quick funny story. I am still trying to relive my Italian vacation and pretend I don't have to work tomorrow.
It is very easy to fall into the Italian language. Especially if you took Spanish in high school. Not that I can speak it fluently after a week in country, but it is pretty easy to get the gist of what you hear or what you read. One of the first phrases we picked up was, mi scusi, or excuse me. Even the CP picked right up on this. He thought it was great fun to burp and then say "scusi". Actually, this turned out to be a pretty effective pick-up line, but that is a story for another post.
I came away with the notion that you could possibly commit murder in Italy and all would be forgiven with a "Mi scusi" and a shrug and a wave.
Our first night at the villa I took the CP into one of the bathrooms. It had a toilet and a bidet. Bidets are not standard in American bathrooms. Even my world travelling 80 year old mother- in -law admitted that she wasn't quite sure how to use one. Of course, the CP was curious.
"I want to use that one" he said.
The CP's parents are very up front with answers when he asks questions. But I wasn't sure how they would want to handle this, and again, I really don't have any "hands on" bidet experience. Thinking quickly I said, "Only people who speak Italian can use that one. People who speak English have to use the other one" He was okay with that explanation and I congratulated myself on my creative solution.
Go forward in time to our last full day in Italy.We had been on two guided tours in an effort to see all of the city of Rome in one day. We did pretty well, although we only saw the Spanish Steps from a bus window. We were tired and hot. The elevator in our hotel only took two or three people at a time. Sarcasdad and I went up first with the CP and we took him to our room. He had to use the bathroom. We went in and closed the door. He pointed to the bidet and said " I can speak Italian now so I can use that one" I had to admit, he had me there. He was tossing around "grazie"'s and "ciao ciao"'s and "scusi"'s like a true Italiano. Briefly, I thought about wiggling out of it, but in the end I thought what the heck. When in Rome......
I let him pee in the bidet.
Mi scusi

Monday, June 09, 2008
  Target Audience

A few posts back I recounted the CP's attempt to impress the ladies. Despite his obvious charm, the girls wouldn't give him the time of day on their Hanna Montana watches. I think we may have hit upon the problem. He was aiming too young.
Sarcasmo Jr. came for a weekend visit and we were out to lunch with Sarcas-sis, the CP and friends Poppy & Feanor. While we waited for our food we played I Spy With My Little Eye. It was Poppy's turn to pick and she spied something green, The CP pointed to his Diego binoculars. Was it that? No. He pointed to a frame on the wall. Was that it? No. He turned to look at Poppy, who I think is the same age as Sarcasmo Jr. "Is it your eyes?" he asked, resulting in a group sigh from all the women at the table.
It wasn't. I am not sure they are even green. But we had to warn the waitress to watch out for the puddle, that was once Poppy, on the floor.

I am off to Italy. I thought our villa had nternet access but judging from an email we got fro the family already there, this may not be the case. If I can I'll post along the way. If not, I'll tell you all about it when we get back. Ciao for now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008
  What to Know Before You Go

It is less than a week until we leave for Italy. In order to maximize vacation time, no one is taking an extra day off to pack, so we are making use of every spare second. Today Sarcasdad got an International river;s License' We picked up a few necessities and a new guide book, our old one being from 2005, when we originally planned to to go. I spent some time online, reading tourism sites and scanning the TSA website to see what may have changed since our last flight. I was specifically looking to see if we can bring snacks for the CP in our carry on luggage. I am still not 100% sure what the answer to that question is. I did learn two things. First, you can pack you toy Transformer Robots in you carry on. It is listed under Makeup, Medication, Personal Items & Special Needs Devices. Right after toothpaste and right before Toy Weapons-if not realistic replicas Since they specifically use the word "toy", I am assuming that real Transformer Robots ( as well as real weapons) are prohibited. Second, MRE's are good to go. I have to see is my *BIL brought any home from Iraq in his carry on. That could solve the CP snack issue.

*Hee are some photos taken by Operation Welcome Home (Maryland) volunteers when our troop came home. The first one is us waiting for the plane to arrive.(me & Sarcasdad on the left with a sign handmade by the CP. )

This one is self explanatory.

Monday, June 02, 2008
  I Guess That's Why There Are No Super Heroes Anymore

Yesterday the CP was alternating between playing Super Heroes and playing hospital. Sometimes the lines blurred just a bit. At one point he was laying on an inflatable chair , wrapped up in a blanket and announced that he was going to to the "hosible" He appointed one of the adults in the room to be the doctor.

" What's wrong"? asked the pretend doctor?
"Spiderman webbed me " sad the CP. "And then I got run over by a car. "

You have to wonder how that didn't happen more often. Once you're webbed you're kinda stuck where you are. And whenever Spidey is zipping through the city slinging webs there are usually tanker trucks over turning and school buses skidding through intersections. Truly an accident just waiting to happen.
Imagine the lawsuits. We did. The CP's parents did an off the cuff version of the class action lawyer commercials that run at 4 am.

" Have you been the victim of a web shooting Super Hero ? Been injured by X-ray vision or a golden lasso ? If so call us at Kryptonite and Luthor."

No wonder no one answers the bat signal anymore.

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