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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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June 10, 2010

What We've Been Doing

So, let's see what have we been doing?  Got here Friday afternoon so not much that day.  It was pretty darned hot which surprised me.  I had a full house tour and am amazed at what it was when I saw it last and what it is now.  As usual, Virginia has created a beautiful and very comfortable home.  They've only just moved in so there's still a lot to do as far as hanging pictures, getting bookcases and then unpacking books, etc., but with the views outside and the wonderful "open" space inside, it's a beautiful place to live.

On Saturday, a friend of Virginia's joined us and we went to Easthampton where there is a big old factory that has been turned into studio spaces for artists.  They have an "open studios" day twice a year and Saturday was one.  It was really enjoyable although very, very hot cause the studios were on the top three floors of an un-airconditioned brick building and several of them were pretty much like ovens.  But we made our way through them, each of us finding plenty to "think" about.  My favorites I think, were an artist who painted what I have to call whimsical, for want of a better word, large paintings of animals, flowers, buildings, etc., where everything was a little larger than life, or a little crooked, or fantastic colors, etc.  She also had numerous pieces of furniture that were similarly painted and "if I were a rich man" as Tevye sings in "Fiddler on the Roof", I could have come home with a full car.  Then there was a glass artisan who was doing some really unique work that involves some sort of layering process which she explained but I can't. :)  Some of her pieces end up looking almost like fine china, others appeared "frosted", some were layers of color so that when you held them up to light, the colors changed.  Her work was really beautiful and I could easily have come home with some of that too.

We had lunch after visiting all the studios and then began a circuitous route back to Hadley.  It is just such beautiful country and Virginia knows all sorts of back roads and various routes from here to there, so the drives are always really pleasant.  And, of course, every village/town that you drive through has lots of the beautiful, big Victorian houses that I love seeing.  I only got a couple pictures from the car cause there wasn't time to make a bunch of stops, but these villages are a miniaturist's dream cause you just keep thinking "oh, that would be great for a house...oh, look at the colors on that one...oh, my gosh, look at that one!"  You get the idea.  But here's the two pics I took...

And, this one's for sale!!  Anyone interested? :)

I LOVE this one - it looks like an illustration in a children's book or something, all nestled behind it's gate and bushes...

We stopped at Thorne's Market which is an old building converted into a shopping center with three floors of non-chain stores.  That's another thing I love about this area - they're beginning to get all the big chain stores now but there are still so many unique stores everywhere that shopping becomes a whole new experience.  Anyway, this Thorne's has a store called Acme something and it's like a huge Big Lots - very cheap and lots of stuff that makes you think "hmmm, I'm sure I need that..."  I bought my first-ever pair of flip-flops and now feel very with it.  Don't know how much I'll wear them, but at least I now have them.  But the highlight was sitting down for a coffee and iced tea at the little "bar" there.  We split a chocolate chip cookie that I can honestly, without exaggeration, say is the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever had.  Still slightly warm, crispy around the edges and chewy in the middle, loaded with chips, and I think maybe heavy on vanilla or something because the cookie part was so tasty.  I'm hoping that something we do while I'm still here will take us back to that area again!  I did take one picture while we were sitting there enjoying that little taste of heaven.

And, I guess I'll stop here and bring myself up to date on "What We've Been Doing, Part 2".  This one has gone on long enough!

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