Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Greener Grass on the Other Side

We didn't get the several feet of lovely white snow that relatives got in Colorado. We didn't get that warm sunshine and wind in the palms that relatives got in Florida. But as I stood out on the dock last night, I wasn't feeling left out. I think Peruby did such a great job of putting these holidays in should go there and read this post.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Scattering Memories

We (I) have now spent the longest time in our new house...nine days. Nine fully filled days of errands and activities.

In the process of filling the house full of things, we celebrated Christmas with those we love and filled the house with the first important memories. First memories are wisps of smells and sounds that tuck themselves into corners of rooms and are unexpectedly revealed by a ray of sunlight or the wind racing through the door before it is closed behind you. They pause over your head as you sit down for a cup of tea during the day. They hide in the smudge on the newly painted wall in the hall. Memories make the house sigh happily in the afternoon or creak loudly in the night as it makes room for more of the same.

I think that I may feel I am coming 'home' the next time I come down this way for a short and busy weekend and not just to someone's new house.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On the Day After Christmas

1) Couldn't really sleep-in as Xman was up by 6:30 and was ready to say good morning to his new "choo-choo."
2) Daddy had packed "choo choo" so that they could get an early start back home. Of course everything got unpacked and redistributed throughout the rooms in the short time parents got a quick breakfast.
3) One very special Christmas gift was that my baby girl is 7 weeks along with grandchild number two.
4) Bad news is that she has morning sickness the size of a small elephant and couldn't enjoy any of the food that she loves. She actually spent one afteroon of her days with us on the bathroom floor. (This past week she scared a coworker when she was accidentally found under her desk at work because she felt so nauseous. Sounds like something on a TV show.) Boo hoo.
5) We have guiltily contributed to the landfills of the area with the tons of banana- republic-bombay-godiva-macys-fischer-price, etc. bags that were left behind in my foyer after a somewhat excessive consumptive Christmas.
6) I am actually starting to take down the decorations (Yes, I heard what you were thinking.) This is because we will be back in the city for New Year's to catch a few movies.
7) One of the nicest things about the holidays is that I can have pumpkin pie with whip cream for breakfast and munch on holiday cookies as I do the laundry and feel no guilt. (And I did that today!)
8) We were smart this year and actually took all the toys out of their bubble packs and tightly wired housing before gift wrapping them since 30 minutes is too long for a 20 month old to wait for a train engine! One would think that toys are terrorist weapons the way they are protected from access
9) My son drove the hour back to the city on Christmas day and brought down his girlfriend of almost 6 years ... we are hoping this means something significant in the future as she is a very special girl.
10) And finally, I know very well that perfect Christmases don't come very often, but they are certainly worth waiting for on the rare times that they do appear.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Two Days Before Christmas

I have been working like a crazy person. Cleaning, shopping, wrapping, cooking, decorating. Each evening I fall into bed so exhausted I can barely pull the quilt up. While my holidays are usually quiet, this year we are lucky and have friends coming for lunch today and my daughter coming to cook me a belated birthday dinner tonight and then her in-laws coming for Christmas Eve dinner and to spend the big holiday with us along with my son.

My new kitchen is full of pies, homemade and storebought, homemade cookies, salad fixings, pretty fresh fruit and wrapped candies and awaiting the delivery of a ham and a turkey brought by guests. My new refrigerator is full of cassroles waiting to be heated.

Weather this year has been mild if wet and very different from the whomping white whippin that my relatives in Colorado are enduring. Thus, hubby was able to decorate outside a little. (We are too old to be crawling up and down ladders!) I will try to post a photo, although all bets are off as I blog on this very old computer we have down at this house.

I have been sleeping very well and so, am surprised to find I have insomnia tonight. So, at least I have your blogs to keep me company.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Remember when you were younger and in love? That certain someone made you catch your breath when they entered the room. You couldn't drink enough of them in with your eyes. If they sat near you, you would breathe deeply of their smell and have to sit on your hands so that you weren't constantly stroking their skin. Everything you did revolved around the magnetic pull of their personality.

When you were away from them your heart ached. You would find yourself drawing their name on paper or seeing their eye color in nature. A laugh might sound so familiar that your heart would jump as you turned your head and then your heart would crash when you would see it was someone else.

Well, today I am aching for my love. My hands feel empty because they have nothing to do for him. If I sit on the couch I miss his head against my chest and his hands in my hands as he drifts off to sleep. Yep, I spent the entire weekend beginning Friday night with Xman and it was wrenching (for the both of us) to separate on Sunday afternoon. I miss the smell of his hair, his quick smile, and those honest brown eyes that would study my face. His pleasure was so pure when we were doing something he liked. Even when he was grumpy, it was just a mild protest to let me know he still wanted to be the boss, yet, I eventually got my way.

This power that my grandchild has over me is a little scary but oh, so addictive. Even when totally exhausted after putting him to bed at the end of the day, I wanted that one last little smell and kiss before I would head down the stairs.

I was tagged by

"The Rules:
The player of this game starts with "3 things he/ she would love to get for Christmas" and also has to list "3 things he/ she definitely does not want to get for Christmas". Then he/she tags 5 friends and list their names. The ones who get tagged need to write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes, as well as state this rule clearly, then tag 5 more victims. And the one who tags need to leave a comment that says "you've been Christmas tagged!" in their comments and tell them to read your blog."

Three things I would like for Christmas:
1. Peace in Darfur (I could ask for peace everywhere, but I am afraid I won't get that).
2. I wish that on this planet with an abundance of food no one starves anywhere ever again.
3. Everyone gets on a save-the-planet bandwagon and changes how they live and how they spend their money so that the environment is once again in balance.

Things I DO NOT want:
1. Anything that requires hours of programming to work
2. Anything that makes me sit more than move
3. Anything that requires a battery

Most of my readers do not abide by tags, but I will see if Peruby, Tammy and Long-tooth want to play.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science

Yesterday I posted something from the world of information access and now here today from grrlscientist is even more exciting news from the world of science and research. Now if all the answers for you are in 'the book' than none of this makes any difference, does it? I just hope that the next doctor examining me and the next chemist creating my medicine and the next teacher teaching my grandson has read more than one book and has access to more than one library and doesn't second guess research results to be PC!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Back to the dark ages with the digital commons

Go here for some news on how your children and grandchildren will solve the world's problems! The photo is also a link.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stirring the Crazies

I have been static in this apartment since last Tuesday with a five hour "work-break" at the office. I have been all alone this week and have only seen a young man in the elevator when I went to pick up the mail. He didn't see me, because at my age, I am invisible!

First stir:

Second Stir:

Third Stir:

Fourth Stir:
I have gotten tired of surveying every little thing in this apartment and waiting for my freedom.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Run Down Musings

Totally alone all weekend with my millions of alien microbes. How many boxes of kleenex does it take to win a war? I am suffocating in my own body fluids and yet the river continues to flow. What a disappointment to discover that flu shots are ineffectual. The genesis of all this was a babysitting consequence that I had volunteered for this Sunday past. That venue also has three sick people trying to make it through the hours. Thank the fates that hubby and son are thousands of miles away in the land of snow.

My arrival at work after three days of rest on Friday was not met with sympathy but by annoyed co-workers sending me home back again as if I carried the plague. (They were right, of course, but I had become so lonely, and there were deadlines.)

While the throat no longer is on fire and the body thermostat has leveled off, I still have a smarting chest, a pressure headache and insomnia. And all I can think about is all the holiday errands that have been shelv
ed. (And how much refuse there is on cable when one has to pass the time.)

Could someone make me another cup of mint tea, puhleeze.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Own Little Discovery Show

I will get a telephoto someday!)

“Hey, Tabor, come look out the window!” hubby said with excitement in his voice

I looked at the direction he indicated and high on a snag above the river sat a bald eagle. Hubby ran to get the binoculars --- that expensive Swarovski set that I bought him five years ago and which has panned out to be one of the best gifts I ever got him.

He generously handed me the binoculars first to see the close up of our visitor. He was definitely a male in his prime. His colors were lustrous and his feathers full and rich in the cold afternoon. The eagle then gently lifted his wings and glided closer to another nearby snag. That is when I saw he had a fish in his talons. He landed on the branch and I could see the silvery menhaden flapping against the branch as it hung down caught only by one claw.

The eagle ‘eagle-eyed’ his domain and then took a small bite from his sashimi meal. The menhaden continued to flap while the eagle continued to nibble. This predator prey drama was not for the weak of heart. The eagle would pause between bites and survey the river at his leisure. This lasted for just a few minutes more.

Before long, a crow flew in to a branch just above and to the right of the eagle with intimidating body language and a noisy jabber indicating clear interest in the mid-day lunch. In a very short time a second crow joined him and landed just above the first. Both seemed to me to be too close to the eagle. Daring black bullies they were. Two more flew in and landed to the left of the eagle. One of these flew down looking for fragments of flesh on the forest floor.

The eagle had now changed from the leisurely meal with a view on the water to the fast food manner dictated by the nearby company and he soon finished the fish. He proceeded to clean his bill and claws on the bark of the tree and the crows eventually lost interest and departed.

The eagle sat on the branch for almost an hour longer letting us observe him and giving us an excuse to halt the Christmas decorating. Then he took off, swooping with breathtaking grace down the river making a dip at the far end…too far for us to see if he caught dessert.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who Would Have Thunk It?

This Thanksgiving my daughter and son-in-law were on travel. My son was the only one who was going to join us for TG Day. I could have called some friends, but was too lazy. They were also thinking about calling us and didn't! So there were going to be only three for the big meal.

We could have eaten down at the house using the new kitchen, but I had to work on Friday so that was a long drive back at the end of the big meal that I didn't want to make. We could have eaten at my son's condo which has a larger TV to watch games on, but my son indicated he didn't really care ab
out the football all that much---Translation:" I don't want to have to clean the condo for you guys." We could have eaten out somewhere, but we took so long to plan that that option disappeared fairly soon. Thus, we ate at the apartment.


Hubby generously brought home a bouquet from the market to brighten up the table. So not too much more decor needed for just two guys.


In years past I went all out with the meal. I like to cook, hubby likes to cook and the kids even like to cook. So some made pies and side dishes and I would work on the turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes and a special salad. Ah, but this is a lot of food to prepare for just three people in a tiny kitchen.

So this year we had 'take-out.' from Boston Market via the Giant supermarket. This box feeds 8 to 10 and costs $60.00. That comes to about $6.00 per person, the food is good if not outstanding, and there are leftovers and plastic leftover containers for everyone. All we had to do was reheat the meal in the oven and microwave.

I would never have thought of a Thanksgiving like this years ago. But I guess I am getting more mellow in my old age. Release the control, let go of the remote, put down that camera, hand over that turkey baster and just mellow out.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Thanks for this big blue planet that keeps on turning in spite of all the assaults we place on it.

Thanks for the sanity of the people around me when things seem insane.

Thanks for the sparkling eyes and quick smiles of small children.

Thanks for love in all its strange configurations.

Thanks for one more day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

LIfe Story #5

A long time ago when I was living in a land of artists and spiritualists and peaceful people with violent rivers inside their souls (Indonesia) I took a batik course at the Palace grounds in Jogjakarta. I was taught privately by an old man who was as small as a goat and as brown as a coconut. He was always patient and smiling through his many missing teeth. He also taught batik to a class of young Balinese men, who were the real artists and devoted their lives to the medium, in early afternoons. I have had no formal artistic training ( unless you count the elementary teacher's art class I took in college many years ago), so his patience with me as I practiced in this very unusual medium was amazing. Of course he probably saw me as this rich, idle, American who helped him put rice on his table. I was too young to see myself in that way and I was also tutoring American children half days and desperately needed this artistic break.

In my memories I can visualize driving down a street toward the Palace past the Chinese men who cut hair and trimmed toenails at their stands on the narrow sidewalk.

My work would take place in a small room with bamboo walls and a dusty floor. It was so dark inside that I can remember looking through the spaces in the bamboo and seeing the lady who sold birds in cages on the sidewalk outside. The smell of the pine resin that was added to the wax was pleasantly welcoming when I arrived each afternoon. The dyes were strong and we washed the fabrics carefully in very hot water over a ditch outside behind the building. I purchased all the chanting tools, bowls and kerosine stove and was fascinated with the shapes and rustic metals of each one. I bought large blocks of wax and small blocks of pine resin and would melt them together for the correct mix. The dyes would come as fine powders in small plastic bags and I could not really tell the exact color I would get until I dyed the fabric.

At first all I did was try to copy the batik patterns I saw in the fabrics around me each day. Then I decided to try something original. The batik above was one of the very first pieces I did. It took quite a while between the washing out of wax and the application of each new layer of wax for the new phase of dye.

The subject appeared from nowhere into my head. Since I am allergic to cats I am not really fond of them, and I don't really know where the idea of this brown cat came from. I made him guilty, so I guess my lack of love for cats shows. I did a lot of needlework at one time and that was added. I also fell in love with a maidenhair fern that was growing on the wall behind my house in Jogja. All of these were added into my piece.

This batik has sat for decades folded in a box. My powderoom (with the famous sink) in the new house happens to go with these colors, so I spent a small fortune at Michaels getting it matted and framed. I have an Egyptian parchment cat that I framed to go on the opposing wall. No, the powderroom is not that big, and the batik just fits on wall, but that is the only room where it seems to fit in color.

The young woman who matted and framed it at the store kept praising it and several other patrons in the store also said it was a very nice work. I never thought about it much, but now I guess I can share it with you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Found: One Tree Tanka

You may remember last winter how the burden of a heavy new snowfall caused a large branch from a pine tree outside my bedroom window to tear away from the trunk of the tree and fall heavily to the ground. It left behind a dramatic four foot white scar where the bark had been torn away. The painful burden of such a heavy new snow weighing against each needle was just too much for the tree. (I can relate to this in so many ways.) BUT this dramatic scar seems to have healed over almost completely. (Below not exactly pivotal in creativity...but I wanted to try thanks to Tammy.)

Hidden history
Shock and scars beneath the bark
Cambium bands true
Tomorrow grows the fair ring
Healing, hiding the past.

(I am not going to tell you where I found it...but those of you who have been blogging for a while will know!)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Currently Wondering About...

There goes that last little pixel...

I was working (sporadically) on a 'tree tanka'...motivated by that very talented Tammy. It had been sitting in my drafts folder for a couple of months, and finally, I decided that I was going to publish it even though I felt it needed a little more focused work. (I have this inner feeling that tells me if you are 'working' on a tanka it is no longer a tanka.) So I published it before I left for the house late on Thursday along with the picture of the tree that motivated my creativity. Virtual electronic spirits, whose primary diet must be pixels and digital bits of light or whose primary entertainment must be squirreling away pixels and bits of light, absconded with my post. I don't know if the post sits in their tummies (I wish them much indigestion) or if it lights the way down their hidden bandwidths. Where do posts go when they disappear in the ethernet? Do they end up on someone else's blog as a shockingly naked invasion? Do they sit in a place somewhere that will someday explode in bites all over the Internet? Do they evaporate into the atmosphere and are they a future carcinogen that we should be studying? Did this one go into a collection of tankas that sit in a folder somewhere just waiting to be re-discovered? Or perhaps, my tanka was so painfully bad that the Internet police decided that they just could not let it get by.

All I know is that I don't feel I can re-capture the thought any time soon.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Two Personalities in the Marriage

Just a little grumpy. He is such a drama king, though.

I spent part of the weekend taking care of Xman who is not a happy camper since he cannot get around easily. He is slowly getting the courage to stand, but has to be distracted by something. Needless to say, he is getting tons of attention from everyone and has his own little party going on where he is the center. He is a flirt and loves to pretend he doesn't care that we are totally interested in him. We talked about how hard that will be for him, when in the future, he is treated like a normal child after the cast comes off and people tend to ignore him much of the time.

I am continuing to have issues at work as are several of my other colleagues with the same problem. I still haven't decided whether to just keep a lo
w profile the next two years and do standard work, or try to venture out and be creative with projects and ideas even though there is a chance certain entities will fight me on anything they think will take the focus away from them. It is really hard for me not to be working hard on something. (My supervisor is being very understanding...whether she will do anything is another matter, of course.)

I was down at the house on Sunday bringing some end tables and lamps from the apartment. Hubby cleaned out the gutters which were full of leaves while I did three loads of laundry and went through several weeks of mail...mostly junk mail.

The bush by the dock has turned to snow.

Since we didn't get down there until almost noon the day flew by. The sun was setting as I was trying to sort some groceries for the freezer when Hubby came running in and said I had to get out to the dock and see the sunset. I was totally focused on a bunch of other stuff, but reluctantly relented. I took some photos and did some breathing in and out. I must have done something right to get this guy to marry me! He is so good about tapping into my zen moments when I am too busy being anal retentive and missing so much.

Dad was released from the hospital yesterday...things are looking up. I am smiling through the tears.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just for Mannababies!!

Digging in for the Long Haul

(This is going to be a you can stop reading now.)

1. Can it get any worse? At work someone's supervisor (not mine) edited a report that I had veted through my supervisor (who is the overall supervisor) and proceeded to delete 40% of the content. I never got any feedback on that and her staff person was told to publish it ( I wouldn't have known except her staff person had a sense of ethics and was very uncomfortable about it). Guess what I will be doing early Monday when my supervisor returns to the office? At least I will be calmer by then and allow my supervisor to breath between my venting.

2. Then I got an email from the "colleague" who had called me stupid (and later apologized) asking for some input on a project. Since I didn't know anything about the project I asked for background, scope, meeting notes, etc. Her reply was that "I could leave you out of this input if you feel this way." Fortunately my supervisor and her supervisor were included in that snotty remark.

I remember that about two years ago I loved this job and was excited about coming to work and contributing. Now all I want is to stay out of everyone's way while they claw their way to the 'top.'

3. I am venting and under more than usual stress because, on the day that my Dad was supposed to go home from Rehab (two days ago), he contracted pneumonia (a rare virus or bacteria version) and is now back in the hospital. We are all checking on him daily and hope to finally have him home this weekend. He has lost his spirit and is frequently confused about where he is and what is happening. It is a common but still sad story. Send good thoughts (or prayers if you pray.)

4. The final note (I thought bad things happened in threes?) was that Xman in going down the slide at the park with his father twisted his leg and fractured either his tibia or fibula and is now in a cast for the next three weeks. He is not happy. So when I babysit tomorrow night, at least we will be on the same wave length/plane/fetal position.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I think that 'mine' is one of the first words if not the first word that Xman learned in day care.

How Many of Me Are There?

Thanks to Robert Brady I tried this little survey.

Using my first name and my married name I found:
LogoThere are:
people with my married name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Using my first name and my maiden name (which was not my father's family's original name) I found :
LogoThere is:
person with my maiden name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Finally, using what would be my real last name at birth without my ancestors feeling that they had to change it, I found:
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I guess I am an original or maybe just strange. At least I wouldn't have to worry about changing my name if I joined the Actors Guild.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Time Between Times

A number of years ago I had reached the time in my life that was after my children were on their own in junior high school but before I had become comfortable in my new role as 'lone adventurer'. Children had become a nice buffer for me on my life challenges. It didn't matter if I got lost or used the wrong product or dressed poorly or made a public mistake. I had two kids that were distracting me and who in turn could be used to distract the focus of others on me. I was an overworked mother who was allowed mistakes. My entire day revolved around their needs and the tight time schedule I had set for myself regarding family life.

I look back on that transition to adulttime now and wonder when I had accepted with blase the habit of using the kids as my invisibility cape, but I do remember the first time it was very strange to enter a restaurant as just me and to sit alone at a table and to order adult food and to eat the food all alone. (One of these times was in Houston at a conference in a restaurant across the room from James Darren at another table. Honest!) It was strange to drive in a car and not be distracted by munchkin battles or flying cereal or upset stomachs. It was strange to have free afternoons (though short) to go anywhere I wanted and to do what I wanted. Being the good Puritan I always ran the necessary errands before dinner.

Years ago I was in Raleigh, North Carolina with my husband who was attending a meeting. This left me with free days exploring on my own. I enjoyed walking the town and visiting the farmers market, but I eventually realized that I would have to take the rental car and do some country exploring to fill the final remaining day of the trip. Those of you who are born to explore cannot imagine why it would take courage to do this. But I was very uncomfortable with the thought of going out all by myself in a different car and reading a map all by myself to drive on different roads for several hours.

There was a recreational lake and state park about an hour away and I decided that adventure would be my afternoon. I studied the map, scolded myself about how childish it was to fear this little adventure and used my instincts and made it to the resort without a hitch. Weather was still warm and so there were quite a few families on picnics or boating on the lake. It was a lovely blue sky day. I explored the lake and then found a long path that walked around the lake. It was a very long path and I knew that I could not make the entire circuit, but I could walk a short way before my time to return to the car for the drive back to town.

I was twenty minutes into my walk when I saw grass movement just ahead and to the side of the gravel path and then I heard a gentle but somewhat familiar vibration/buzz. I could not stop myself, but had to get closer to see the source of the rattle. I just knew it was a small rattlesnake, but the closer I got and the nearer I peered into the grass the more insistent became the rattle. I never saw the snake as I would have had to reach out and part the grass and did not have the courage for that. But somehow, just then, I felt as if I had made some personal growth that day by testing my fear against my curiosity and feeling good about it.

I no longer felt odd as a single person.

Now I have a new time in my life. Twice in the last month I have had trouble finding my car in the parking lot at the shopping mall. I was sure about where I parked my car last weekend and walked back and forth down the parking row several times as darkness moved in before it dawned on me that the parking space I was searching was where I had parked on a prior night...not the current night! I then did some hard mindbending thought and remembered I had parked the car further up and around the store. This forgetfulness is not normal for me and I am afraid it is a small or maybe a large transition I must face as I get older. I know that this is a nice Saturday Night Live skit for many, but for me it was also a damn nuisance.

But as with everything, I guess I will have to take it One Day at a Time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Have Lost It

I have to head to a mindless meeting downtown today. I have resigned to finding my job the most boring time in my life and am counting the days/years until I can retire.

One of my colleagues whose has a child who is home with a mental relapse and who has the same mental illness herself, exploded at me at a meeting the other day and called me stupid. It was over something I said that she totally misunderstood (probably on purpose because she is very much on the defensive these days) and everyone in the room realized she was way off base, but it didn't stop me from getting stressed for the rest of the afternoon.

Now I have this all-day meeting that I am expected to attend (or not) and at which I just sit and take notes and really have nothing to contribute.

I am writing about my stupid job, because on top of all this, I wrote a blog about something else happening in my life late last night and Blogger ate it! I hope it gets indigestion.

P.S. OK, I take it back. The meeting was full of lots of interesting stuff about ...well about stuff that is related to the programs with which I am affiliated. It wasn't a wasted day after all, and now I have something good on my list. (Also, at 7:00 AM this morning my colleague came with hang-dog stance and apologized. I accepted the apology, but was thinking when you get that stressed it is time to stay home from work for a while because it ends up being a ping-pong mouse trap setup if you know what I mean.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Truffles, Wine and Goodbyes

This special journey was coming to an end in just 24 hours. We had seen old and new and were privileged to meet some very special people. If you read the link in the prior blog to Ankhura you will note that both Chris and Christina, owners of the bed and breakfast, had very sophisticated backgrounds. They had decorated the Inn with art from Asia and architecture from Tuscany. They were gentle and intelligent people and made their guests feel totally at home, even though we were much less sophisticated than they. Chris had even done much of the tile and construction work. They had purchased the building from the church and you could tell that in a few short years they were probably going to move onto another phase in their rich lives.

Christina had given birth to both of her two boys in Tuscany and now a third child was soon on the way. They planned to close the Inn in December and her family would come out from Malaysia to stay with her

While showering that morning I noticed the rustic travertine tile which is common to the area and was too expensive for my housebuilding enterprise.

Christina was up bright and early setting a lovely table of homemade yogurt, homemade granola, freshly sliced fruit, coffee, toast and juice on the patio outside.

Chris was squeezing oranges and the smell filled the kitchen as we passed through. Then he changed clothes and we headed out for the truffle hunt he had arranged.

The gentleman who took us us on our truffle hunt brought two of his dogs. He had a full time job working at the local Home Depot, but did truffle hunting on days during the high season which was just starting. Truffle hunting is very competitive in Tuscany, especially for the white truffle which we were pursuing. There were tales of dogs being poisoned because of their exceptional skill in sniffing out the round treasure which could be a deep as a foot underground or just below the surface.

We stopped at a road near a Truffle Preserve but carefully skirted the area since tourists were not allowed inside. The dogs found several small and average truffles and then one excellent truffle the size of golf ball. Truffles can get to be twice the size of a potato. But size is not always an indication of quality. Our guide had brought some photos of the annual truffle fair with some pictures of very large truffles he had found.

When the dogs find a truffle they are commanded to sit and then they are rewarded with a piece of bread. The pigs used to just eat the truffles if the master didn't get there fast enough.

I didn't capture a photo of the larger truffle, but here my daughter is holding one of the smallest. The smell is strong and I could smell it from the other side of the camera lens.

After several hours of hiking along the sandy ravines we were rewarded with a picnic of chicken sandwiches, tomato and cheese sandwiches, prosciutto, capacolla, fresh sliced tomatoes, and red and white wine as we looked across a hillside with a rabbit hunter in the distance.

We could have napped during the few hours we had in the early afternoon before our wine tour when we got back to Montengriffoli, but we had a chance to see the village in daylight as well as the nearby cemetery and so we went walking.

Our wine tour was to a small 2.5 acre winery run by a widow who was about my age. She generously took us through the small and very clean winery and we tasted her Brunello from the vat, then the oak cask and finally got to taste both a young and an old bottle. Quite a privilege since Brunello's are pretty expensive in the U.S. Her bottles are all purchased by a distributer in Canada, so we couldn't buy any.

The tour was given by Guelfo Magrini who has written a knowledgeable book about the Brunellos of Montalcino. He is on the far right in the photo below. The other man was a journalist who joined us and who has studied wines in France, Germany and Italy and has written five books on wine. My daughter thought he was a little full of himself, but we certainly learned a lot about wine between the two men! I bought Magrini's book and am enjoying it thoroughly.

We finished in the late afternoon with coffee in the town of Montalcino at a modern little coffee house. The weather had turned cold and wet, so hot coffee and tea were a great idea.

We got a quick view in the town of the famous wall of plaques on a building off of a main street in the town. One of these ceramic plaques goes up each year as demonstration/comment reflecting the popular opinion of the value of the wine each harvest season. It is a sort of tongue in check response to reflect that even the wine experts have a sense of humor in all seriousness.

Then it was time to return to Ankhura for a dinner by Chris who is a Rome trained gourmet chef. We ate upstairs in a small dining room with lots of candles and near a little fireplace. The other dining partners were a young couple from Germany that had gone on the truffle hunt with us. We were served an eggplant/mozzarella tart floating on a basil-tomato sauce, followed by a pasta with lots of thinly sliced truffles (a donation from our truffle hunter and probably the most expensive thing I have ever eaten--so pungent and special) and then we had a veal steak on a bed of 'lamb's lettuce' which while a little tough, was also very delicious. All of this was washed down with a rather expensive bottle of Brunello which REALLY blossomed with each glass as it was exposed to the air. Dessert was a tart of thinly sliced fresh mountain apples on a buttery crust.

As the evening progressed we headed up to bed and savored the days memories knowing we had a plane to catch in Rome and had to head out by car by 7:00AM.

I have enjoyed writing about this trip as it has been like taking it all over again--getting to savor it twice. Although I left out lots of stuff, still I am glad that I have this journal to motivate me to do this.