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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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March 29, 2011

Too Long Since My Last Entry!

because over the past week or two, I've had all kinds of little bits and pieces that I thought "oh, I should mention that in my blog" and I will be hard pressed to remember many of them.  I keep telling myself that one of the reasons I started this whole project, aside from an actual travel journal, was to just record things as they strike me so I won't forget them!  I don't seem to listen to myself very well, I guess.

At any rate, my last post was on March 16 and was all about the new River and Rail Bakery of which I am fast becoming a regular customer!  As a matter of fact, my friend Anne had called to tell me that they were having a St. Patty's Day event at Heritage Station and if I wanted to I should join her and the same friends we did the river cruise and Christmas house tour with last year so I, of course, picked right up on that.  It was real nice - a nice turnout but not a huge crowd that got in the way of enjoying the music.  The music was provided by the 1937 Flood band which I have heard about practically ever since I've lived in Huntington and may have heard some of their recorded music but never live.  They were very enjoyable - good bluegrass type music and looked like they enjoyed making it as much as we enjoyed listening to it.

 The band...

The friends...

Of course, in the short while I sat there, I first of all dropped a big blob of grease on my slacks from a little appetizer I bit into, then one of Anne's granddaughters stopped by our table and when she went to pick up her glass of green punch, it somehow ended up making a great splash...on my slacks, and finally, I managed to make my own splash with my glass of red wine ... on my slacks.  The other ladies were all going on to another spot and invited me along but I told them I was taking my pants and going home! :)  While there though, I was raving to them about the bakery (none of them had been there yet) and decided I would go in and get something so they could sample it for themselves.  The specialty bread that day was focaccio and Kim (the owner) told me it had I think onion and rosemary in it and then the crust was sprinkled with sea salt.  Between the five of us, we finished the whole loaf in short order - it was truly scrumptious!  So even though I collected a record number of stains, it was a very enjoyable evening.

So, to make sure the bakery didn't go out of business, I went back Thursday I think it was and bought a demi-baguette which was a real nice little loaf.  Kim asked me how it tasted and I told her it was quite good but I thought it was different than the big baguette.  She said she hadn't received the organic flour she ordered and had to use non-organic and it did make it taste different.  But it was still a good little loaf - nice texture, nice crust, etc.     Anne and her friends invited me over for a "porch evening" that Friday at one of their homes and I bought another full-size baguette and fixed up a plate of little slices spread with garlic oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper. That loaf of bread was so absolutely perfect I was just stunned - even took a picture of it.

I know, I know - a strange picture and blurry to boot but I can almost smell it!

And that was a real nice evening also.  At some point after that I bought my third full-size baguette and I have to say it wasn't as good as the first and second one or the demi.  However, that doesn't stop me!  I know this is a very new venture with lots of kinks in becoming familiar with the huge oven (which I got to see when I was bold enough to ask - I'd be terrified of it!), and the general idiosyncracies of baking bread - everything can affect the outcome!  So, yesterday I bought another demi baguette and it was back to that wonderful, rich flavor that just seems to transport me to bread heaven.  And, Kim, I only reported on that one disappointing loaf so that people would know I'm telling the truth about the wonderfulness of what you're doing. :)

So, let's see - that was the week before last.  This past week, I worked at the library a couple of days and always enjoy that.  Worked in the book sale room and found, of course, five books to buy - three by E.F. Benson.  He's a long-dead writer who wrote, among other things, a series of books on which a BBC series was based called "Mapp and Lucia".  I had read all the Mapp and Lucia books I could get my hands on and then my sister sent me the tapes of the series and both the books and the series are such a complete hoot.  At least they certainly appeal to my sense of the absurd.  I found another book by him "Desirable Residences" which I also enjoyed so when I saw these three I snapped them up.  I decided to read them in date order and was flabbergasted to find that the earliest one was published in 1893!!  I kind of wondered if I would like that one as much as some of the later ones and I didn't really.  The main character in it was so sort of completely awful (unlike Lucia who was somehow awful and strangely likable at the same time) that I didn't finish that one.  The other two were both published in the 1900's so they may be more to my liking.  I would highly recommend the series if you can't find the books or don't enjoy reading very much.

I also did a pretty thorough (for me) spring type cleaning because not only was my son Chris coming for a long weekend but a woman who is a member of the Yahoo needlework I belong to and lives in Morgantown was coming to Huntington with her husband and daughter because the daughter had been selected for the annual All-State Band Concert which was being held in Huntington this year.  Any time I have someone coming to the apartment who has never been there before, I want my windows to be really clean because the first thing anyone does when they walk in is say something on the order of "oh my goodness" and walk over to the windows.  Fortunately the weather was pleasant for most of last week and I got them all washed - all 10 of them!  I know that sounds like nothing compared to the number of windows in a house, but they're very big and very heavy and I'm no spring chicken anymore!

They (Lisa, Brad and daughter Ann) got into Huntington Thursday.  Ann stayed with the other band kids at a hotel in Barboursville but Lisa and Brad stayed right downtown.  I met up with them briefly Thursday and I know you won't believe this, but we ended up walking over to the bakery for a hot cup of coffee and tea.  Surprise, right?  I suggested the new-ish Thai restaurant to them for dinner that evening which they did, in fact, end up trying and were quite pleased with it as they reported Friday when we got together.  We had already made our plan to have dinner at Chili Willi's Mexican Cantina Friday evening.  Chris got to Huntington around noon-ish on Friday so, of course, he joined us which was nice.  They came over to the apartment after a trip over to Maysville to visit the absolutely stunning miniature museum that just opened there a couple of years ago (or maybe a little more - time gets away from me).  We had a glass of wine while I showed Lisa all my minis and she showed me a truly wonderful collection of her needlework - made me feel like such a ne'er-do-well!.  Then it was off to Chili Willi's and we all ended up ordering fish tacos.  I've heard about them for years but just couldn't really imagine them but Lisa and Brad love them and our waitress told us they were her favorite thing on the menu so I figured now was the time to try them.  The fish is mahi-mahi cooked over a wood fire and very, very good.  We shared a pitcher of margaritas and, at least for me, it was just a very nice evening.

 That's Brad and Lisa on the left, Chris and myself on the right and a lot of food in between!

The reason Chris came over this weekend was because he and my older daughter, Heather, had decided to get me a flat screen TV after Chris and I had had any number of conversations about should I or shouldn't I get one, why I shouldn't buy one just because it was cheaper than the "good" brands, would I be able to watch movies instantly, etc., etc.  So, I went and bought the TV and they paid for it!  Chris came over to get it all set up.  I got the old blunderbuss TV out of the house on Friday morning by giving it to a friend who had a friend of hers come pick it up.  It turned into an almost all weekend project (off and on with breaks for nervous breakdowns on my part) to get it fully functional and wonderful.  When we discovered that my antenna didn't seem to be pulling in very many stations (I don't have cable), we went and bought two different types of antennas figuring we'd return at least one.  We also bought a rolling table because we discovered that with a flat screen you need to be closer to the picture than my current setup allowed.  Found a really nice little table by the way.  Anyway, came back home and tried both of those and neither one of them picked up even a single channel!  That was one of the nervous breakdown times.  So we decided to call it quits for that night and went to the Thai restaurant for dinner and it was real good again.  A glass of wine and a good meal always does wonders for me. :)  Chris had fixed everything up to enable me to watch "stuff from Netflix "instantly" so that was nice and the picture is beautiful, of course.  So Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night, we watched episodes of Season 4 of the IT crowd which are crazy and funny.  Sunday we took the two antennas back, went to Best Buy and bought one that the guy said should do the trick and it does - it pulls in everything I had except for one of the major channels - I think CBS - but whichever one it is it's the one I don't mind not having cause there was nothing on it that I ever watched anyway.  So as I e-mailed Chris and Heather last night as I sat on my couch (where I never sat to watch TV before) in my jammies and afghan and just being delightfully cozy "Wilbur, I am content!"

Chris left yesterday but was a nice enough son to not rush off first thing in the morning.  We, incredibly enough, went to the bakery yet again, I bought another demi (good) and Chris bought a brown butter chocolate chip cookie "for the road".  He added a comment to my first bakery post this morning to say that it ranks as one of the best chocolate chip cookies he's ever had.  We did some laundry, walked around downtown for a bit, went back and packed up the car and then went to Subway for lunch.  He left from there and I walked home which was nice for a change.  Makes me anxious for nice weather to come and stay.  So, nice, nice weekend in spite of the stress.

And if anyone has read this far, here's a reward for your perseverance - two pictures that Chris took from my windows  - one looking to the right, the other to the left.  He then used all his PhotoShop wizardry to make them look like old prints - said he was inspired by all the old flood photos.

And how many times have I tried to get a decent picture out of my windows?  I LOVE this!

And this is looking toward the river and has a real nitty, gritty feel to it I think.  He must have zoomed a fair amount on this one because that plant isn't really right outside my window!)


Christopher said...

I hadn't heard about the 1937 Flood Band... neato! And yes, I can certainly attest; the little bit of tasting I did at the new bakery (cookie, scone & coffee) certainly bodes very well... To paraphrase Star Trek, may she bake long and prosper! Hope the weather warms up for you soon; until then, enjoy snuggling up with some high-def programming ;)

vrmichie said...

Chris, those photos are fabulous!! And Mary Lynne, you do have wonderful children -- but then you already knew that :). Sure hope the bakery is still going strong when I finally come to visit. xoxo

January said...

Epic post, Mama! But very nice and it sounds like you've been having a gay old time with friends and visitors and Chris and TV and, last but not least, BREAD! :)
Next time you see Anne, tell her I say hello!

maggie said...

I really want to go visit that new bakery with you - it sounds fantastic! So glad you had a good visit with Chris, and that he's got you up and running with your modern new tv setup!

Mary Lynne said...

By all means - everyone come and visit me and I promise I'll take you all to the bakery!

And, Maggie - you're so right about my "modern TV setup" - I just feel all "with it" now...I've got high def, I've got Blu-Ray, I can stream... I'm am a cool dudess!

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