This exceptional home where we’re staying with friends is for sale…See details below…

Nothing was spared in the design and decor of this enticing property.

There’s no doubt our friend’s home in Eden Prarie Minnesota has been an ideal location for us during our three weeks in Minnesota. As a long-time dear friend, with whom I’ve stayed in close touch over the years, Karen didn’t hesitate to invite us to stay with her and Rich.

The property is located in a tree-lined paradise allowing stunning views of the lake.

I knew this house years ago when we lived in Minnesota but hadn’t stayed here in the past. Instead, we stayed in another of Karen’s homes during our last several weeks in Minnesota in October 2012, when we had to clear out of our house for the estate sale.

The two-bedroom apartment, ideal for in-laws, nanny or rental is located above the four-car garage.

There are few people in the world with whom we’ll stay in their homes. We have certain requirements and a routine which may interfere with theirs and our daily activities. 

Many exceptional parties have been held in this expansive home.

Also, we don’t want any potential hosts trying to figure out what I eat and to go through the effort to make meals for us. It’s just too much work for friends and family to muddle their way through this process. 

The dining room isn’t a typical closed-off formal area. Instead, in this home, it flows into open spaces creating a perfect environment for entertaining or casual everyday dining.

Karen’s diet is quite similar to mine and thus when we’ve been around to share meals we have no trouble making it work. Of course, we’ve been so busy, we’ve hardly been here at dinnertime.

The abundance of cupboard space, pantries, and unique storage spaces make this an ideal workspace and pleasing area for prepping meals and gathering for conversation.

Tonight, as a small token of thank you, we’re all going out to dinner at Gianni’s Steakhouse in downtown Wayzata, an upscale area on the famous Lake Minnetonka. Karen’s birthday is on the 30th and we’ll celebrate tonight.

The family room or lounge is located conveniently next to the kitchen and veranda.

Tom and I spent many special romantic dinners at this dining establishment and we’re especially excited to share the experience with Karen and Rich, who’ve never dined at Gianni’s.

A fireplace adorns this entertaining and lounging area with easy access to the outdoors.

Their gorgeous home on Duck Lake where we’ve been honored to stay is currently on the market for sale. We decided we’d like to share the information on this exceptional property with our readers who may be interested in this fine property or…know someone who is. 

One may be required to work at home but this space makes it seamless and inviting.

To reach the listing company and agent for additional information on this outstanding home please click here.

The top of the stairs at the second level is architecturally interesting in itself.

Having visited this home many times in our old lives (before traveling the world for seven years) its stunning ambiance and inviting appeal was familiar to both of us. Having the opportunity to stay here among such definitive beauty and elegance both in the house and on the grounds was an easy decision for us.

The master bedroom has many enticing amenities.

As you’d expect, we aren’t being charged a fee to be here and are doing everything we can to say “thank you.” That’s our way. That’s the way of our friends. 

What spectacular views from the soaking tub in the ensuite master bath.

But the magic of it all is the great fun the four of us celebrate almost every night when they return from work and we return from our day and evening activities with family when we settle into the warm and enticing lounge and relax with this delightful, intelligent and highly conversational couple. 

Few homes possess a walk-in closet of this caliber. The ease of organization is evident in every space.

It couldn’t be more wonderful. The surroundings both inside the house and outside the property create a sense of calm and restoration each time we enter; a quiet and peaceful respite from our busy action-packed days. Our ability to unwind with the two of them has been one of many highlights of our time here.

This is currently our temporary living room in the walk-out area. Note all the light that enters this huge and convenient space.

Minnesota has countless beautiful lakes and owning a house directly located on the lakeshore is highly desired by most homeowners and potential homeowners. No, it’s not always affordable and let’s face it, this price range isn’t for everyone.

We are sleeping in this bright bedroom with a fireplace and intriguing design.

However, for those searching in this price range, they won’t be disappointed when they wander through this one-acre, 6149 square foot lakeshore home with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, three floors of living space plus a complete two-bedroom apartment with a rental income potential of approximately $1500 month, which can offset a portion of the costs.

Not only is this laundry area an easy and spacious workspace but next door to it is another “freezer/additional refrigerator/mudroom suitable for any size family. 

With only eight days remaining until we depart Minnesota, we will continue to embrace the ease and comfort we’re experiencing in this gorgeous home with our equally gorgeous friends. 

The living room of the separate apartment is welcoming and bright.

The kitchen in the two-bedroom apartment.

Again, here’s the link to the listing for pricing and further information.

A dock on the lake’s edge for spring and summer boating. Wildlife abounds in this area.

Thank you for stopping by one more time. We’ll be back with more tomorrow including photos from our celebratory dinner tonight.

With only a portion of the 127 feet of lakeshore visible in this summertime photo, the grounds include a hand-crafted gazebo, many gardens, and pleasing landscaping.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2018:

In the early evening, Wildebeest Willie and a young Big Daddy kudu seemed to get along well while eating pellets. For more photos, please click here.

“It’s always somethin’ Jane!”…

Six years ago today, on November 19, 2013, we posted this photo when we visited the Swahili Beach Resort for dinner at Diani Beach, Kenya.

We can live anywhere in the world and wherever we may be at any given time, life isn’t free from worries and concerns for ourselves and for our loved ones. As we spend more time with family while in Minnesota, we have a first-hand opportunity to witness the trials and tribulations of those we love, often centered around health problems commonly found as a result of aging and other causes.


With our dear DIL dealing with cancer and similarly one of Tom’s sisters and with Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, in the hospital with some unknown illness, we find ourselves worried. Tom spent the better part of the day at a local hospital with DIL Tracy, who is having tests for a worrisome condition, yet unknown, we feel like health issues are everywhere. We hope and pray Tracy will be OK.


No one is exempt from the risks of acquiring health conditions. When Tom met for lunch with several railroad retirees last week, more than half of the group was suffering from one serious illness or another. Railroad workers are often exposed to toxic chemicals in their line of work which may result in serious health conditions later in life.


When we’ve met with his family over these past several days, it’s evident that many are in the throes of recovery from surgery or illness or in the manifestation of a new condition in itself.


What’s happened in this world? Why are so many people getting cancer, heart disease, and a wide array of other life-threatening illnesses? When I think of my own situation, I can hardly blame it on lifestyle or pesticides. I’ve spent a lifetime eating healthy, fresh foods, avoiding sugars, starches and now in the past 8 years, grains.


Of course, there’s no easy answer. For many, illnesses may be age-related, lifestyle-related, environmental, and as in my case, genetic, the most difficult causal factor to change. 


As research, unbiased of course, not funded by Big Pharma, continues in many of these areas, “they” are discovering more on more on the role genetics play in our health throughout of lives. Perhaps, not in our lifetime, but down the road, more discoveries will be made to attempt to avert some of these seemingly inevitable scenarios.


On this topic…as each day passes, I begin to feel a little better. My cough is about 20% better than it was yesterday, now day 4 of antibiotics and Prednisone. I can’t wait to be able to breathe more easily and sleep better at night.


Still, I remain grateful for the quality of care I had at the local Medexpress Clinic and of course, the reasonable fees of $189, plus the cost of the various medications that weren’t too bad. They provided us with discount coupons for the meds! Amazing!


Next week on Wednesday when I see the cardiologist for my early one-year heart check, it will be much more expensive and we’re bracing ourselves for that. Since my heart feels good, I see no reason for a plethora of tests.


As one of the worst patients on the planet, I tend to pick and choose what I feel is appropriate for me, not necessarily what the doctor may order. Many may disagree with this type of thinking but we each have to be our own advocates and do what we feel is right for us.


Taking drugs that cause me to be exhausted, in pain and feeling ill is not on the horizon for me. Quality of life is of the utmost importance and I continually strive to build and maintain such a lifestyle to enhance that possibility.


That’s it for today, folks. Please stay tuned for more mundane updates on family matters. In nine days we’ll be in Las Vegas certainly, there will be a few more photos ops and forms of entertainment to share with our readers.


May you be well, healthy and content.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 19, 2018:
Kudus in the garden. It was always important to feed the animals during the dry summer months in South Africa, during a drought. Vegetation was at a minimum and they often depend on offerings from the visitors living in the bush. For more, please click here.

Human error…It’s rampant…Self included…

 

Although views on the hills seem redundant, each one has its own unique appeal.

It’s hard to believe that today is July 1st. How the time flies. Today, is the day to pay the balance on our upcoming cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii in the amount of  US $3216.02, EU $2349.44, that sails in 84 days.  Our earlier cruise from London to Boston sails in 61 days is already paid in full.

Vacations to Go has a credit card number on file which they’ll bill today. Later in the day, I’ll look up the credit card online to verify that it’s been paid. One must never assume such payments are always handled properly.

We’re not quite sure why cactus grow freely on the island of Madeira with its temperate climate. Our perception has always been that cactus grow in hot dry climates. 

At times, we find errors when verifying financial matters online. We’ve become diligent in verifying every transaction in which we partake. Human error is rampant.

I see it in myself.  I make mistakes regularly.  With all of our checking and rechecking, errors are made. When I look back at prior posts when “fact-checking” a date or comment, invariably I find a typo, a wrong date, or an editing error. Many of our errors are caused by me after having also been checked by Tom each day. We continue to find errors.

Even a cloudy day has a certain amount of appeal.

Once again, I rationalize my online errors for this blog due to the fact that we post every day. Doing so is comparable to writing an essay for a class, correcting and editing it before turning it in for a grade. It takes a lot more time than we can easily spend each day.

Of course, when I hit the “publish” button every day around noon, I make the assumption after rereading each word, that it’s error-free. Once Tom reads it online after publication, he finds anywhere from zero to six or seven errors that I missed when proofing it. I go back to the editing page making the corrections immediately.

There are some areas where flowers continue to bloom. Although, we’ve noticed a decline in the number of summertime blooms.

Later, when I reread a particular post by chance, I find errors, often several that we both missed. The biggest problem we detect is spacing errors. When we’ve had a poor connection, I’ve had no control over editing these issues. When we do have a good connection, I may go back to correct them as I did today on the “one year ago” post for July 1, 2013, as shown below.

To go back in and correct almost 700 posts would take more time than I’m willing to spend. Don’t get me wrong, in a perfect world there wouldn’t be errors. But, I must admit I’ve become less obsessed with attempting perfection since we began traveling so long ago. It’s not worth the stress.

Views of the sea are ever-changing.

In my old life, like many other Type A personalities, I strived for perfection, never really achieving it, never feeling quite satisfied that I’d done all that I could possibly do.

In time, I learned that “Life’s true perfection” is actually based on one’s contentment and happiness, not in trying to make life perfect in the accomplishment of one’s tasks, whether it’s a dinner party, a family get together or a work-related project.

Today, we’ve included a few new photos from our outing last Thursday. 

In part, striving for perfection revolves around trying to “please others.” The reality is, that no matter how hard we try we’ll never please everyone, nor will we ever totally please ourselves.

When I think back to the fancy dinner parties we held over the years, the days of work and preparation, I now realize that all our guests really wanted was to spend time with us. Sure, the food and the ambiance were nice. 

The rose blooming season is almost over.  Yet, I continue to find a few new blooms when I walk in the neighborhood.

But, knowing how hard we worked “to please everyone” was lost in translation often making our guests feel guilty for enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Now, almost two years later, I can hardly think of having a dinner party for four, let alone for eight or twelve at a fancy table setting with days of preparation in making scrumptious food and creating a breathtaking ambiance. 

Rock formations often illustrate areas where water flows from the mountain tops.

Our kids are in for a big pleasant surprise when they come to Hawaii for Christmas when they realize that I won’t be spending the day in the kitchen trying to appease everyone’s particular tastes. 

Those days are long gone. Easy meals will be prepared with the same love as in the long-ago past with more time left for the things that really matter, such as being together.

These low lying clouds appear every few days.

As I write here today, later than usual when I went back to sleep after an unwelcome 6:00 am wake up, finally awakening at almost 9:00 am. I feel no sense of urgency or stress as my fingers happily fly across the keyboard, albeit requiring that I push the letter “i” extra hard which therein lies many of my errors of late.

I write “itinerary” as “ntnerary” later laughing at the irony of an error that I didn’t willfully incite. I do correct those errors when we catch them not as a result of perfection but as a sense of responsibility to our readers for them to be able to decipher our message of the day.

With the necessity of spending time wrapping up future bookings, hopefully, our time will be freed up over the upcoming months of August and September when we’ll be “on the move” in Paris, London, Vancouver, and sailing on two cruises. 

The terrains is not as green as it had been with little rain this past month.

Surely, during that period, we won’t be spending hours online other than posting daily and dealing with zillions of photos during a month at sea (WiFi is pricey aboard ship) or sitting in a hotel room when we’d rather be out exploring our surroundings.

Perfect or not, we joyfully continue to share our photos from our remaining time in Madeira, Portugal, writing each day sharing our thoughts and photos. Hopefully, many of our readers enjoy our lighthearted ramblings, or not. We can’t please everyone nor do we expect that it’s possible. 

Corn is growing in many areas on the island both for personal use and as a farming crop.

By the way, we’re close to wrapping up a booking in New Zealand. We’ll be back soon with details.

Happy day!
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Photo from one year ago today, July 1, 2013:

We were so far from civilization that we spent considerable time exploring the area of Boveglio, coming to knowing it well. This was the cemetery at the church across from our 300-year-old stone house. For details, please click here.

 

Part 1…Le Cafe at Lantana Galu Beach…We’ll be back…

Last night, our waiter at Le Café at Lantana Galu beach offered to take a photo of us. Gee, we’ve lost our tans.

With a solid recommendation from Hans plus numerous excellent reviews on TripAdviser.com, we decided to try Le Café at Lantana Galu Beach last night for our Saturday dinner date night.

Although only a very short distance, the drive to the property took nearly 10 minutes over the bumpiest road we’ve seen so far in Kenya; unpaved, laden with potholes, definitely not suitable for the queasy.  Heading south on the road outside our property for the first time, we were distracted by the various resorts we’d yet to visit, making the bouncy ride less annoying.

This is the entrance to the main building.  A long walk was required on a poorly lit path in order to reach the restaurant located on the beach. It proved to be well worth the walk.

The excitement of trying a new restaurant each Saturday night creates a refreshing sense of anticipation after a few days of quiet contemplation in our outdoor living room.

With us, there’s always a bit of trepidation of going out. We seldom dined out in our old life. But, this is our new life that includes making the effort to find something to wear and get ourselves out the door.

The waiting area in the lobby of the resort.  Apartments and condos are sold at this resort to later be rented and managed by the company, a similar concept we experienced at LaruBeya where we lived for over two months in Belize.

In every case, once we’re on our way, we smile at each other, thrilled that once again we’ve pushed ourselves to explore, try something new, step further outside the box. We now realize how complacent, we’d become in the past with the comfort of an established routine of staying home.  There’s no room for complacency in our lives now with so much world to see!

As we began the walk outdoors toward the beach, we turned around hoping to capture the main building behind us.
John at the front desk was friendly, welcoming us with much enthusiasm.

As the taxi driver, Chris pulled up to the resort, we were immediately struck by the massive wood security doors opening only after a security guard checked us out, confirmed our reservation and allowing us to enter.  


The long walk through the complex began through this elegant walkway lined with pillars and the most beautiful flowers.  The air was permeated with their intoxicating scent.

The awe-inspiring entrance immediately sets the tone for what we’d anticipated being a special evening. We weren’t disappointed. John, the concierge, pointed us down the flower-covered walkway directing us to follow the long path toward the ocean and the pool where we’d find the restaurant.
What’s with my outfit?  My skirt was wrinkled and misshapen. Do I really have to start ironing again?
Always smiling!  Wrinkled clothes don’t phase him, not his, not mine!
Having seen photos online, we knew if we could find the pool, we’d have reached our destination. After walking for several minutes, we’d begun to wonder if we’d gone the right way. We forged ahead to the sound of the surf which proved to be the perfect guide.
These are the apartment buildings where units are sold to owners for their own use and to rent to tourists, managed by the resort. As we continue on the walk, we passed many smaller buildings with individual condo units. Poorly lit we didn’t want to disturb occupants with our camera flash.
In the US and other countries, there are endless codes and ordinances requiring handrails, lighted walkways, and stable pathways with the intent of reducing injury and accommodating the elderly and/or disabled. 
Le Café is located by this outstanding swimming pool, creatively designed to capture the essence of the subtle Moroccan theme of tranquility and splendor.
In Kenya and many other parts of the world that we’ve visited thus far, no such codes exist or, if they do, they aren’t enforced.  Even the finest establishments are lax in providing ample lighting and stable walking areas when often a long walk is required from the road to the beach.
Notice how the server in this photo was waiting for us. Apparently, John at the front desk had called ahead alerting him to our pending arrival. 
Mindful of this situation, especially after our horrible fall when the steps collapsed beneath us in Belize, we take special precautions when walking on uneven and poorly lit grounds. 
Shortly after we arrived a small group gathered at the far right end of the bar, resulting in lively and animated banter pleasing to hear and see. But the conversation wasn’t lacking at our quiet table for two, with many staff members graciously stopping by to chat and welcome us, as we gushed over our memorable experience.
Both blind, Tom’s mother (sadly lost to us 5 years ago) and brother Jerome resulted in Tom learning to be the perfect guide over rough terrain. Also, after years of working the rough roads in train yards, he’s adept at managing the worst of conditions. Me, the “queen of trip and fall,” always in a hurry until now, paid little mind to what was under my feet.
It was easy to imagine a sunny day lounging in these chairs, dipping in the pool from time to time.
Last night, as we made our way in the dark, my champion at my side, I felt safe and secure that we’d arrive in one piece. Of course, we did, our mouths agape at what we encountered when we arrived at Le Café.
Looking at Tom, as we entered the restaurant, I said, “Even if the food is mediocre, I am happy to be here.” It was that breathtaking! The food was not mediocre!

 

This footbridge over a portion of the pool was clearly a photo op. I should toss this frumpy shapeless skirt having one less item to pack.
Seated at our table of choice closest to the pool and the beach, the guest’s comfort in this unique establishment was obviously of utmost concern. As we sunk into the exquisite padded chairs we couldn’t help but notice the soft bright white linen tablecloth and the matching napkins, appropriately placed on our laps, as a flurry of discrete activity skittered around us.
Our drink orders filled, the menus delivered at precisely the correct moment, we were greeted by name by the kindly General Manager Gillie, with whom I’d made the reservation online. What a nice touch! Chatting with her for several minutes, we felt welcomed and at home.
These were only two pages of a multiple page menu.
Our waiter, graciously served our needs, answered questions, didn’t bother us too much, somehow knew exactly how we preferred to be served. Later, the restaurant manager stopped by, offering his welcome, asking a few questions about our stay in Kenya, inviting us to return for more lavish care. We will. We absolutely will!
Tomorrow, we’ll post Part 2 (memory issues at this time restrict the number of photos posted at one time) with our menu selections (including the accommodation of my food restrictions) with photos and, the unbelievable pricing for an evening well spent along with the total cost for our evening including taxes, cab fare, and tips.

Dinner in a cave?…Yep!…Last night we dined in a cave…

 

I thought Tom looked great in this photo, but I reminded myself of Morticia wearing all black or, of the day in Abu Dhabi when we entered the famed White Mosque, requiring that I wore the black abaya in the 100+ degree weather while I was sick. I’ll never forget that day or, that photo which my sister Julie gets hysterical over every time she looks at it! (See the post in the archives for May 30, 2013).

As we continue on our mission of trying a different Diani Beach restaurant each Saturday night, we enjoyed on our second outing at the locally acclaimed Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant


The ambiance, in a natural cave, was formed by the sea over 400,000 years ago while the restaurant itself is thought to be between 120 to 180 years old, renovated in the 1980s with the intent of maintaining its original integrity.

Standing at the top of the stairway leading down to the natural cave, we were able to look down at the bar below. Every effort was made to maintain the original integrity of this environment when it became a restaurant over 100 years ago, renovated in the 1980s

This was accomplished with the most finite details, using only a minimum of modern-day amenities such as; candles as opposed electricity; few electric wires discretely placed to allow for small fans for movement of the humid air as opposed to air conditioning; an open ceiling as nature had created allowing a view of the stars in the night sky while dining.

During dinner, Tom mentioned that it reminded him of a “man-made attraction one might find at Disneyland where the walls we made of molded resin as opposed to the natural stone.” 

The lounge in the bar where we had our drinks while waiting for our table. The restaurant didn’t open until 7:30 pm with most diners not appearing until 8:30 or later. I guess us folks from the US are early diners.  We’ve found that dinner is typically served at 8:00, often 9:00 pm as we travel the world.

Adding to the ease of making online reservations for dinner, Ali Barbour Cave Restaurant provides complimentary driver service to and from the restaurant. At promptly 7:00 pm, the driver arrived as we waited with the guard at the main gate to our complex.

As the older van pulled up, I asked, “Where are you from?” as a safety precaution. When Joseph replied, “Ali Barbour Cave Restaurant” my mind was at ease.

Another view the seating areas in the bar, depicting somewhat of a Moroccan theme, of which we’ll see plenty when we live in Marrakesh Morocco, a mere six months from now.  My, how the time is flying by!

Based on the restaurant’s proximity to our home on Google Maps, I’d anticipated a short two or three-minute drive. Once on the dark, narrow, bumpy unlit road, as cars drive on the left side, I began to worry after more than 10 minutes had elapsed. 

Joseph reassured me it was down the road a short distance. As we pulled into a narrower rocky unpaved, unmarked road, Tom and I squeezed each other’s hand, wondering why there was no sign on the road and where we were going.

View of the walls in the bar. All lighting in the walls and at the table was a result of candles, creating a warm atmosphere, romantic to say the least.

Later, when we left the restaurant, we noticed a glaring sign on the opposite side of the highway that we missed when turning in. Perhaps, we were foolish to give it a thought.  But, living in Kenya one cannot be too cautious.

The seating across from us as we lounged on the love seat in the bar.

For the first time in our travels, with all the bumpy and scary roads we’ve traveled, last night was the first time I felt a little carsick. The weaving back and forth along the busy highway, the lack of air conditioning, the smell of toxic fires in the air, my stomach revolted in queasiness. Luckily, once we arrived, the feeling quickly passed.

To our surprise, no security was in place at the entrance to the restaurant, although a Maasai guard/greeter wearing traditional African red robes warmly welcomed us, graciously opening the car door and offering a hand to assist us out of the back seat.

The story about the cave.  Excuse the flash.  In the dark cave, it was unavoidable.

Upon entering the unique space, we both were instantly in awe of yet another of nature’s creations that humans had so carefully maintained.

The air, thick and humid, cooled by numerous quiet, well-hidden fans, took a few minutes to become adapted. After all, we were in a cave.  I’d expected to find a few bats flying about or perhaps evidence of guano. There was no evidence of either.

In Kenya, living, and dining all of our meals outdoors, I feel sticky and grimy at all times. Also, the necessity of re-applying mosquito repellent (DEET free is working well, but requires reapplication every few hours) during all waking hours (we’re protected by the mosquito netting in bed) invariably attracts the soot and sand in the area at all times, only adding to the feeling of being dirty.

Showering every morning leaves me at my worst by the end of the day. With the water restrictions, we choose to only shower once a day. Having to dress in more “evening out” clothing as is typical in finer restaurants in the area (no shorts allowed), it’s difficult to make myself change into other clothing, as the mosquitoes are in a full frenzy around 6:30 pm each night. 

Diners began to filter in around 8:00 pm, filling all tables by the time we were ready to leave around 9:45 pm.  We’d be warned not to rush the servers for the check-in our travels. Many countries’ servers are accustomed to taking their time in delivering the bill. Most often, as is the case here in Kenya, tips are only allowed to be paid in cash, not added to the credit card slip.  Of course, this requires us to keep adequate change on hand.

When staying in, we both change into our BugsAway clothing provided considerable protection from the mosquitoes except for exposed skin. Each night before dinner, I lather my arms, hands, and ankles with the stinky lotion.

Going out to dinner changes the entire scenario.  With no BugsAway clothing acceptable for dining in finer restaurants to protect me, I have no alternative but to fully coat myself with the lotion before putting on the evening clothes. 

Talk about feeling hot and sticky! Of course, I bring the lotion with us, often requiring an additional application during dinner, as the mosquitoes swarm around me. 

This is the natural opening in the ceiling, allowing a view of the night sky. It would interesting to visit during the day to look down into the hole in the main dining area.

Perusing the dinner menu, we were at a loss as to what we’d order. With their chef familiar with gluten-free cooking, I felt reasonably at ease, especially after explaining that he need also consider my avoidance of sugar, grain, and starches.

Twice, the waitress came to our table graciously inquiring as to our readiness to order, and twice we still hadn’t decided. Tom, beef lover than he is, coupled with his finicky taste buds, ended up choosing double Fillet Mignon once again, one of which was veal with Bearnaise sauce and the other regular beef with a peppercorn sauce. 

Only a few tables had guests when we entered the dining room around 7:45 pm. Within an hour, it was fully booked, mostly with non-English speaking tourists.

He didn’t find either of the sauces offensive in any manner but said the steak was less tender than he’d had the prior Saturday night at the Sails Restaurant at the Almanara Resort. 

Compliments of the chef, we were both served this tangy GF marinated salad.  Tom took one bite turning his serving over to me, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My dinner was similar to a pesto cheesy chicken recipe I’d concocted while living in Italy using the fresh herbs from our patio garden. The portion at The Cave was small leaving me hungry after dinner. Upon returning home, I ate a large handful of Macadamia nuts, which took care of that issue.

The dining room extending beyond where we were seated.

Most likely, we were the oldest diners in the restaurant all evening.  We noticed that the majority of the diners were younger couples, mostly in the late ’20s and ’30s. As we’d also observed in Italy when out and about, we seldom encountered any “old-timers” like us, causing us to wonder where all the retirees have gone for vacations or “ex-pat” living.
With the cost of living escalating in Kenya over the past several years and, with tourism down considerably, few retirees are making Kenya their home.  Also, the negative press regarding the crime rate in Kenya has deterred many travelers from coming this way.
This was the view to my right as we sat at a cozy, not too small table against one of the walls. We always prefer a wall, table as opposed to one positioned in the center of the room.
Candlelight accentuates the natural holes in the cave, adding to the ambiance.

For my dinner, as shown, I ordered the Cheesy Chicken atop a pesto sauce, all gluten-free, with a side of sautéed vegetables. Tom, as always, scooted his vegetables onto my plate, a common occurrence due to his distaste for “green things.”

My dinner, Cheesy Chicken atop a pesto sauce was well seasoned and pleasing to the palate, although the serving size was small. Rather than a chicken breast, this serving was a small single thigh. 
Realizing that my dinner may not satisfy my now ravenous appetite I’d considered a side salad.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have a salad dressing befitting my way of eating (low or no sugar and gluten-free) plus, we assumed that the raw vegetables weren’t washed in purified water, adding to the risk of disease or illness.
Tom’s dinner of two small Filet Mignon, each with a different sauce.  He was disappointed in his meal, having higher expectations after reading many five star reviews.

Would we recommend the Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant? Yes. The interesting and unusual atmosphere is well worth the visit, although we’d consider the food to be average. The service was flawless. Over the top!

Overall, including VAT tax, Tom’s two huge bottles of beer, my full liter of sparkling water, the service charge, tips for the servers, and the shuttle driver, we spent a total of US $68.09.

The stairway going up and out of Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. Gee, we’ve gone up and down a number of stone stairs in these past months!

Currently, with taxes, we’re spending approximately US $40 per day for groceries. It’s certainly worth spending an extra US $28 for us to get out of our outdoor living room for an evening and to dine at the hands of a local chef.

 

 

Internet was down for a day…

We sure have plenty of tomatoes (pomodori) to last through our remaining eight days of cooking before we leave to travel to Africa. Yesterday, I had none and today, we have more than we can use.  After Santina left this morning, I discovered this glass bowl filled with tomatoes in the kitchen.  With the substantial batch, Lisa picked for us yesterday in the steep yard, we’re well stocked with tomatoes. 

It’s amazing how lost we are without the Internet, bringing to mind our dependency on technology to assist us through our days.  Would we ever have ventured out on this year’s long journey? I doubt it.

Tom is more wrapped up in being able to get online these days than I. Other than writing and posting photos here, banking and paying credit card bills, and responding to email, hours of being online is less important to me.

My interest began to lessen after leaving Minnesota on Halloween last year, after spending 8 to 10 hours a day for nearly a year researching our upcoming travels, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. In the future, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it again as the time nears to arrange the next leg of our journey.

For Tom, he busies himself looking up possible future cruises, reading stock information, managing our inventory, and reading an endless array of emails from old friends; some political, some funny, some disgusting and heartwarming, only a few of which he shares with me. I don’t care to read passed along jokes and stories unless they really touch a nerve. Tom knows which is worth sharing with me.

Most of my email consists of family and friends, readers asking questions, or making comments or statements from various financial institutions. With little junk mail these days, after unsubscribing on 100’s of sites, each email I receive warrants reviewing.

Yesterday while literally cut off from the world with the Internet, we played Gin, read our books on our phones, and watched the few news channels we’re able to receive in English on the outdated TV. 

Need I say again that Tom is slaying me at Gin?  Always priding myself on being a competent Gin player, I’ve suffered greatly in his hands (literally and figuratively). I can’t stand to lose! 

He’s so ahead of me at this point that I can’t possibly catch up. Thoughtfully, he’s agreed to start a new tally when we arrive in Kenya which hopefully will begin on our upcoming flight, providing we’ll be able to sit next to one another. (We’ll find out on the 26th when we call as instructed).

Yesterday, I packed a little, disposing of no less than 25 pounds of stuff I’m willing to say goodbye to, much to my surprise.  We’ll give it to our “people” here to keep for themselves, to donate, or to share with their family and friends. Tom will do the same over the weekend. The rest? We’ve decided to pay the excess baggage fees and be done with it. After all, we’ve spent so little money while in Italy, our budget’s slush fund is overflowing in the $100’s.

Yesterday, in perusing the budget, I determined that the cost of food in Italy has been the lowest anywhere.  Choosing the finest ingredients, much organic, we’ve spent an average of $22 per day during the 75 days in Boveglio. In the US, we usually spent anywhere from $800 to $900 per month at the grocery store, again seldom dining out.

We’d budgeted $30.66 a day for the time in Italy including dining out. This difference, to our benefit, should cover the excess baggage fees.  The savings are a result of not dining out and the excellent prices on food in Italy.  For groceries alone, we spent from $100 to $200 per month less than in the US.

With the distance traveling on the steep winding road without guardrails, the time it takes to reach any restaurants, along with my food restrictions inspired us to dine in. Enjoying each of our homemade meals caused us to realize how impractical it would have been to dine out in Italy, based on the high carb pasta, grains, starches, sugar, and the bread that comprise most meals in restaurants. 

In Kenya, based on the restaurant menus we’ve been able to find online, the food is more “continental” consisting of a portion of meat, fish or poultry, vegetables, and salads, all easier for us to enjoy. Of course, we’ll leave out the potatoes or starchy side dishes, bread and desserts. We shall see how that goes, reporting back as to what we’ll soon discover.

At this point, we’re ready to move on. Oddly, we don’t feel as if we’re going on yet another vacation as we prepare to head to a new location. Long ago, we anticipated that we’d experience the giddy excitement of an upcoming vacation.  With the experience of the potential for unknown events, we feel a bit anxious about getting the traveling part completed. 

Leaving on September 1st (with one overnight at a hotel in Venice) and scheduled to arrive at our house in Kenya around 6:00 am on September 3rd, it’s a very long haul. 

Traveling at night has always been hard for me, unable to sleep well sitting up while despising the feeling of lack of sleep as we must maneuver through three separate flights over 17 plus hours. It will be equally trying when we leave Kenya almost three months later to go to South Africa and again, three months later to fly to Morocco, all very long overnight flights. There’s no need to think about that at this point.
 
Reminding myself that this is the life we chose and that, once we’re settled these thoughts will waft away, allowing us the total immersion into our new lives in a new location.

This morning when Santina arrived to clean the house for the second to last time, I wrote the following in English to translate into Italian in Google Translate:

“Thank you so much for such a wonderful job you have done for us. Your kindness will stay in our minds and hearts forever. Next Friday will be the last time and then we will say goodbye.”

This translates in Italian to:

“Grazie mille per un lavoro meraviglioso che hai fatto per noi. La tua gentilezza rimarrà nella mente e nel cuore per sempre. Venerdì prossimo sarà l’ultima volta e poi ci dirà addio.”

She read my note while leaning over my computer at the kitchen table, smiling from ear to ear.  When done she placed her fingers to her lips for a kiss to toss through the air to me. I caught it, immediately returning it to her. 

As she left today and each past week we’ve kissed goodbye, one cheek, then the other with a heartfelt, “arrivederci” wishing we could speak to understand one another. 

Yesterday, when the produce truck hadn’t arrived at its usual 3:30 time and place, I was frustrating wondering where I’d get tomatoes for our planned Mexican dinner this weekend. I’d bought a few at the grocery store on Wednesday which we’ve since used. What was I thinking only buying a few tomatoes when I knew we’d need more? 

Would we have to forego tomatoes or once again make the 70 minute round trip up and down the treacherous mountain roads?

As I looked around the parking lot for the truck I ran into Lisa, the wife of the delightful owner pair of Lisa and Luca, as she spoke to a neighbor. Noticing my inquisitive look, she approached me inquiring as to my dilemma.  Asking her where I could get a few tomatoes (Pomodoro) nearby since ours on the patio have yet to mature.

Grabbing my hand she steered me to the backyard, asking me “quanti?” for “how many?” I held up my fingers for “two” while saying “due,” Italian for two.  She shrugged her shoulders, looking at me raising her eyebrows, asking “due?”

(Only two?)  I shrugged holding up four fingers while saying “quattro,” sensing she thought I was foolish for asking for only two.(As it turned out many of the tomatoes were rather small. No wonder she flinched at my request for only two or four).

At this point, I knew she was to find our tomatoes in the massive garden down several tiers which I hadn’t yet tackled with the uneven steps and no handrail. I handed her the cloth bag I still had in my hands when hoping to buy the tomatoes from the now missing produce truck.

Off she went (she’s 35 years younger than I) flying down the uneven steep steps to return minutes later with a bounty of ripe tomatoes nearly filling my bag. I couldn’t have said “grazie” with more enthusiasm. Here again, I wished we could have somehow carried on a conversation. Her warmth and thoughtful demeanor left me longing to understand her.

Lisa and Luca couldn’t have been more helpful during our time in Boveglio, responsive, and kind. They’ve literally jumped to our every need. Of course, we’ve never attempted to take advantage in any manner, as in my request for such a small number of tomatoes or our inquiry to stay one more night beyond our contract (for which they refused to accept payment when we offered to pay on multiple occasions).  So gracious, they have been!  Most assuredly, we’ll be leaving five-star reviews on their listing in Homeaway.

Our two missing boxes of prescriptions haven’t arrived. The company has agreed to replace them at no charge sending them to our mailing service in Nevada. When we can receive mail somewhere down the road, the mailing service will forward them to us. For now, we have an ample supply for the next 10 to 11 months.

Late yesterday afternoon, almost 24 hours later, the Internet signal returned. Almost time to make dinner while still entrenched in a fierce game of Gin, I decided to wait until today to write. Yes, he won again! 

Stay tuned folks. Thanks for reading our mindless drivel. Hopefully, soon, we’ll step it up a notch or two when we arrive in Kenya. 

 

Turning off the brain long enough to sleep…

As a poor sleeper most of my life, a few years ago I went on a rampage researching methods to improve my ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Discovering nothing new or life changing, the frustration over the scientific research extolling the virtues of a variety of solutions for improving sleeping found me with little relief.

Some of these suggestions included:
1.  Using light as a means of resetting one’s biological clock (circadian rhythmby increasing waking light and reducing evening light.  This method, although described in brief here, increasing the production on nighttime melatonin, the miracle sleep adjusting hormone.  This means, no TV or computer before attempting to sleep.
2.  Reduce nighttime noises or wear earplugs.  
3.  Don’t exercise at night before bed. 
4.  Don’t go to bed on a full stomach, allowing two hours for food to digest before lying down.
5.  No caffeine late in the day, preferably after 2:00 PM.  Mostly done but usually have ice tea up until dinner, water after.
6.  No stimulating activities before bed. 
7.  Drinking less fluids at night, reducing necessity of getting up during the night. 
8.  Comfortable bed, blankets, pillows and bedtime attire. 
9.  No biting, noise making, annoying flying things buzzing one’s head at night.
10. No negative conversations or thoughts that instill anger, excitement or frustration before retiring for the evening. 
10.  No worrying about not sleeping which in itself can be a deterrent to a good night’s sleep. 
11.  Turning off the brain at night!

Most certainly, there are hundreds of other suggested solutions to poor sleep but these appeared to be most applicable in my world.  Trying them collectively or one by one, I found some relief but frequently awaken between 2:00 am and 4:00 am each night, struggling to fall back to sleep.  This is a common phenomenon many have described, particularly as one ages. 

For years while a working person, I awoke at 5:30 am every morning, never needing an alarm clock to get up to ready for work.  Now, as a retired person, my self imposed waking time is blissfully, hopefully at 7:00 am.

Tom, on the other hand, has less trouble sleeping, seeming to fall asleep as soon as he puts down his ebook, possibly waking a time or two during the night, usually falling back to sleep easily.  I’m less fortunate, needing a few “crutches” to make it happen:

1.  Falling asleep:  If I don’t try to fall asleep at the first indication of sleepiness, I find it difficult to do so a few hours later.  Now, when the sensation overtakes me, I succumb, putting down my smart phone ebook.

2.  Awakening during the night:  Five out of seven nights, I awaken during the night, either from a sound or a dream.  If I don’t fall back to sleep in 10 minutes, I pull my smart phone off the nightstand and read until sleepy again. 

If after 10 more minutes, I’m still not sleepy, I take a dose (two for me or three for a person over 200 pounds) of a safe homeopathic, non-addictive over the counter remedy, called Formula 303 containing Valerian and magnesium, suggested by the doctor that was instrumental in my changing my diet to low carb, sugar, starch and grain free. Within 20 minutes, I fall back to sleep. This safe product doesn’t result in drowsiness upon awakening, as do often dangerous and addictive prescription medications.

3.  Awakening too early in the morning:  Following the above in point #2, if it is before 6:00 am, usually reading for a short while will lull me back to sleep, immediately putting the book down the minute sleepiness becomes evident.

Overall, following these methods, I am able to sleep a total of seven hours each night, certainly enough for a well-rested day.  In many of the studies I’ve read, there was emphasis on the fact that seniors usually require less sleep.  Why?  Most believe it is merely due to the reduced amount of physical and mental energy utilized during waking hours.

Here is a listing of thousands of sleep research performed at various universities, such as Harvard.  It is from these resources that I spent many hours looking for answers to a lifelong problem, now seemingly under control.

Overall, the biggest issue I’ve found, is turning off my brain at night.  That’s the most challenging.  At night, we seem more vulnerable to negative thinking as our strength and determination to be positive dissipates as we become tired. 

Right now, I could be engaged in a load of negative thinking. Is it safe to fly to Africa? To live in Kenya?  Will we be able to arrange our seat assignment on the upcoming three flights to Kenya on order to sit together? How will we feel with no sleep when we fly with layovers for over 15 hours, arriving in Kenya the middle of the night?  It goes on and on. 

Turning off these thoughts at night is a commitment I’ve made to myself to ensure a good night’s sleep. So far, its working, especially when there’s no flying things buzzing my head at night!

 

Bats or just batty…

 

Common pipistrelle, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, common house bat, a much better photo I took from Wikipedia.  I guess this is nothing compared to the bats awaiting us in Africa. 

One night years ago, after falling asleep with the TV on, I awoke to see a bat fly in front of the TV screen.

Terrified of bats I bolted out of bed waving my arms and screaming, scaring Tom to death. After turning on the bright overhead light and looking around the bedroom, not finding a bat, he assured me it was a bad dream and to go back to sleep. I swore I’d seen a bat.

Two days later I was cleaning one of the upstairs guest rooms to find a dead bat on the inside of the screen apparently dying after trying to escape. I jumped for joy! I could hardly wait to show it to Tom when he’d return from work.

It was less of an “I told you so” than a “see, I’m not crazy” when I rushed him when he walked in the door that evening.  Of course, I had picked up the dead bat (much to my surprise) wearing a thick rubber glove saving it in a paper towel to show him. He shrugged his shoulders, “Oh, it’s a bat.” 

Little gratification was found there. 

Why is it when women are proven “right” that we don’t jump for joy when we prove it?  And yet men will gloat for days?  Ha!

After that experience I became less afraid of bats, merely preferring they don’t fly around me, touch me, or live with me.  No more screaming while running around in circles when spotting a bat flying nearby in the night sky.

A few days ago, walking down the mile-long hallway in this house, I noticed this clump on the floor in a corner of one of the nooks and crannies, meaning to toss it many times as I walked past, never having a handy paper towel. 

My blurry photo, taken zooming in with a shaky hand when  I realized it was a bat.

In my old life, I would have picked it up as soon as I saw it.  Now, living in a more relaxed environment in someone else’s house, I thought, I’ll get to it, whatever it is.  It wasn’t moving so I wasn’t particularly concerned.  Besides, it was neatly tucked away into a corner.  I thought it was a small clump of leaves.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, realizing that Santina was coming to clean today and not wanting to leave it for her, I grabbed a couple of paper towels to remove the pesky intrusion, leaning in closer to get a better look. It was a dead bat. I didn’t scream. Instead, I took a photo.

I must admit that a bit of the old fear gripped me keeping me from holding my hand steady as I zoomed in to take the photo. Thus, the blurry photo.

Calling Tom to come to see, he made a mad dash to the hallway from the veranda. Looking closely as I had done, he said, “Oh, I thought it was potpourri!”

Need I say, I laughed so hard I cried, repeating over and again, “Potpourri?” I’m still laughing as I write this.

He ran to the kitchen to get the broom and dustpan, scooping it up, taking it down to the garbage to dispose of it. Surely, it flew in over the past several nights when we had the windows-without-screens opened when the temperature was in the high 90’s. Gee, I knew there was a reason I didn’t want those windows wide open at night.

Good thing we don’t have a TV in the bedroom.

 

A night to remember…New friends…A story told…

Blurry photo.  Handing off the camera to a kindly gentleman to take our photo I must have accidentally changed to “out of focus background” which I didn’t notice until this morning. After the wonderful night we had, I couldn’t resist posting these photos although they’re all out of focus. In the photo with us is Daniela at my left and Armenia at her left sitting on the steps.
The interior of the “theatre” in the square, where, with mouths agape, we viewed each photo with our new friends encouraging us along, telling stories mostly in Italian so proud to share their history with us.  It was a night we’ll always remember.Y

Yesterday we said thank you to Michela, the owner of Not Only Pinocchio B & B, she suggested we walk down to the Bar Ferrari in the “square” around 9:00 pm when the locals mingle on Friday night (actually other nights also from what we heard).  She offered to meet us to “make the presentation” of us, as she said in her easy-to-understand broken English.

Neither of us couldn’t recall the last time we went out after 9:00 pm, old-timers, and early risers that we are.  Without hesitation, we decided to go, knowing full well that we’d have the steep walk on the return home in the dark, with the departure downhill all the way.
Bringing our cell phones for light, we were relieved as we began the descent to see street lights atop the houses, lighting the way along the road every few hundred feet. We’d be alright on the return, albeit a little out of breath at the end of our long day.
Anticipating that we’d sit inside the bar Michela steered us to one of the several groupings of chairs and benches outside the bar after we’d each grabbed a beverage, me water with “gas” (as they say) as opposed to water with “no gas” and Tom a beer, again the total for both in Euro $1.50, US $1.95.
Many of us have old photos such as these of our relatives, deceased and living, bringing us a warm sense of our roots and family history.
As Michela presented us to an entire row of no less than eight older women, traditional in their shirtwaist dresses, cautious about newcomers, they none the less, welcomed us as we desperately tried to remember their names with little luck.
None of the photos were dated but the clothing may indicate the early 1900’s.
Moments later, we were seated on a bench with Michela as more and more residents gathered around outside, undoubtedly curious about the strangers and yet comfortable in their familiar gathering spot on Friday nights after 9:00.
This wedding procession, based on the clothing appears it could have been in the 1950s. This was the then unpaved road that leads to the church and cemetery we highlighted in the post-dated July 16, 2013.

 

These are the inner working of the clock tower that clangs four times an hour, often irregularly that’s located next door to us.  We laughed when the locals mentioned how close we were to the sound of the clock, using the typical head and hands signal one uses for indicating sleep, as they inquired as to our ability to sleep through the noise.
This is the then unpaved road closest to the street, near the church, that leads to Bar Ferrari.
Our house is located on the right side of this road, difficult to see with the trees.
The construction of the road to our house, It’s hard to conceive of the degree of manual labor required to build the steep roads in this area, in this era.
Other than a walking path for residents and animals, there was no road to our house in these photos. It’s hard to imagine the difficulty in getting from place to place, not only here but in remote areas worldwide.
We aren’t able to determine this time period from this blurry photo.

Later, on our steep walk home, we couldn’t stop talking about our evening; the laughter, the camaraderie, the warmth and the joy that we feel at having discovered, thanks to Michela, this world of people that were around us all along, the entire month we’d be here. 

Looks like we’ll be busy every Friday night after 9:00 pm for our remaining time in Boveglio. Plus…Bingo Night is on the horizon!

Tom was determined that we translate this document that was drafted at the time that the presentation of the photos on the walls of the theatre.  It was a slow painstaking process as he read each letter to me as I typed them into Google Translate. Read below for the full translation.  Although not an old document the photos on the walls had a tremendous influence on the residents of the village of Boveglio.  We were honored last night as they proudly showed us the photos and their prized “theatre” where beginning on August 10, Bingo will be held each night.  Of course, we’ll attend!

The image of eyes to listen to our days is one of the most powerful communication vehicles you. We experience this huge power every day through posters and billboards, but also through reports and photos of authors who are able to get in touch with reality distant from the point of view of geography, culture, customs, and costumes

But there are other images, which beyond their artistic value and of their correspondence to the rules and techniques of photographers, are able to speak to our eyes, as long as we are willing to stop for a moment, and listen. It‘s the case of fifty-four shots proposed by the photographic exhibition “Once upon a time in Boveglio,” organized by the Loco to give everyone, villagers, vacationers, and casual visitors, the chance to learn more about a country, a region, and its people, educated and active in a number of moments of everyday life, ranging from work to sport and leisure from ceremonies, religious commemorations, civilians, all linked by the common thread of life who spends that leaves an indelible mark on the territory and the people …

The Pro Loco invites all to spend between these photographs taking the time to see, admire, and understand. Potra happens that pausing moment longer in front of the “snack,” a young man of Boveglio laid down his glass, there whispers an amusing anecdote of that day of what were the daily tasks of mothers and grandmothers so long ago.

The Pro Loco would like to thank those who, with their generosity and participation, have made possible the preparation of the exhibition by providing photos of their personal scrapbook. A special thanks to Francesco Ricci, who worked with passion and skill set-up and the technical part of the exhibition. go to all the invitation to have sharp eyes, to listen.

Boveglio July 25, 2009K

KatiaSebastiana”

 

The local traveling Farmer’s Market…

By the time I walked to the produce truck, it was surrounded by no less than 10 locals residents, anxious to buy their weekly supply of fruits and veggies.

Last Thursday, upon returning from Pescia with enough groceries to last two weeks, there was a produce truck parked across from the lot where we park the rental car.

Locals had gathered around, purchasing their fruits and vegetables. Having already purchased all the produce we needed at the time, it made no sense to make any additional purchases.

Without the use of chemicals on produce to enhance its preservation or ward off insects,, the vegetables we’re purchased seem to spoil quickly, except the cabbage and carrots we use almost daily for our coleslaw. Although we enjoy lettuce salads, we’ve found the lettuce spoils in a matter of a few days whereas the cabbage, if left uncut, may last until we shop again.

It felt awkward taking photos so I did so discretely.  Unquestionably, I was the only tourist in the bunch as I heard the locals chatting on endlessly in Italian.  I did my usual head nodding, hiding my camera under my shirt.

Having used all of the produce we bought last Thursday, we’re now down to only the cabbage, a few carrots, onions, and garlic.With our limited diet, a wide array of fresh vegetables certainly enhances our nutrient intakes but also the degree of enjoyment of our meals. 

Making chow mien a few nights ago, we used cooked cauliflower, cut into pea-size pieces as the base, as opposed to rice or chow mien noodles. It was delicious! Cauliflower can be used as a base instead of pasta, rice, beans, or grain for any meal. It takes on the flavor or the main dish without imposing any special flavor of its own.

Also, with a masher or food processor available, it can be mashed to appear and taste similar to mashed potatoes with the addition of butter, salt, and pepper. Once on the plate, one forgets it’s not potatoes and can enjoy it along with the other items in the meal. Unfortunately, an Irish potato loving guy, Tom’s not sold on this concept. I’ll give him credit for trying.

More fruit than vegetables, I was unable to replenish our supply of cauliflower.

In desperation, we do have a supply of canned green beans on hand. Certainly not a favorite but with no freezer space for frozen vegetables, we’ve had to adjust our objectives to accommodate our current needs. 

(Unsure of the exact arrival time of the produce truck, I kept checking outside to see if it had arrived. Last week, when we returned from shopping it was outside at about 3:30 pm.  Hopefully, the schedule is the same each week.  We shall find out soon enough).

In the US, most canned produce contains tons of highly processed salt. Not adverse to salt, we prefer to add our own Himalayan salt which is not chemically processed. Having used Himalayan salt for years so far it has traveled with us with our determined effort to avoid cooking with commercially processed salts.

In Italy, we’ve found most foods befitting our way of eating to be exactly as nature intended; plain. Of course, the markets are filled with the usual “junk processed foods” although considerably less than we’re used to seeing on the shelves in the US.

The baking section in the aisles is less than five feet wide as opposed to an entire aisle in the US.  If one is hoping to bake a boxed cake mix, there are few, if any options.  We were unable to find unsweetened baking chocolate, necessary to make our allowed “fudge” for an occasional treat. 

Plus, there is literally no coconut in the markets:  no raw coconut, no coconut flour, no coconut oil, further limiting some of our cooking and baking options.

Tonight for dinner; seasoned homemade chicken salad with onions, celery, hard-boiled free-range eggs, and of course, the finest pure mayonnaise we’ve found anywhere, made without chemicals; no HFCS, no sugars, no corn oil, no by-products.

Here’s what I purchased today for a grand total of Euro $4.09, US $5.33.  Prices were better at the grocery store but the freshness and convenience made it worth paying more.

This morning, for an additional entrée for tonight’s dinner, I cooked a pork loin roast, shredding and seasoning it with the fabulous Italian pasta sauce we found without sugar. This is a replacement for the usual sugary barbecue sauce. The end result: some mighty fine tasting “pulled pork,” minus the bun. 

Needing change, I handed the vendor a single bill for Euro $50, (US $65.10), concerned she’d refuse the larger bill.  No problem!  She had a fanny pack filled with money!

Throw our staple, coleslaw, into the mix, a big bowl of “fresh” steamed green beans for a hearty, healthy meal for tonight’s dinner with leftovers for tomorrow night. Yes, it might be an odd combination of items but who’s to say what we “should have” at any given meal? 

At 3:25 Tom saw the produce truck coming down the winding road heading toward our neighborhood. Grabbing my grocery bag, camera, and Euros, I headed outside to the vendor, thrilled I hadn’t missed its arrival. 

It was obvious that a stop to our tiny neighborhood might be toward the end of their route for the day with the resulting several empty bins. But, I was able to find carrots, green beans, and eggplant. This should be enough to last us with what we have on hand to get us through the next several days until we leave on our road trip next Tuesday to grocery shop again.

Going forward, we’ll purchase produce every other Thursday at the market in Pescia, enough to last a week, no longer dealing with spoilage, supplementing with what the produce truck has on hand on the alternating Thursday.  This is a perfect solution to our spoilage issues.

There’s nothing like food and love. In abundance, they fill the belly and the heart, both of which hunger for replenishment, while never losing interest in the in the prospect of the next opportunity to savor in their delights.