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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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April 21, 2011

My Week With Johnny

Here it is Thursday and I'm just now posting about Johnny's spring break time with me.  I can't say we've been insanely busy doing things but somehow, when I have company, I'm not too inclined to spend much time on the computer.  But I've taken a few pictures and will get those posted along with a hopefully somewhat brief log of our doings.

The trip to get him here was fairly hellacious both for his mom and me.  We met halfway and I left Huntington about 5:45 a.m. in a pouring rain on a dark and stormy night.   Heather apparently spent a lot of her trip in the fog.  But we both got to the appointed spot at almost the appointed hour and then both made the same journey back to our homes but, thankfully, without the weather!  Didn't do much the rest of Saturday - I was pretty frazzled so we got Johnny unpacked and settled in, and that's all I remember.

Since then, we've managed to hit several of our favorite eating places, including Hillbilly Hotdogs, Five Guys, and cookies from the bakery.  I know, I know - I'm a bad grandmother but why else does one go to see one's grandmother?!  And we split the cookies and split the French fries at Hillbilly Hotdogs and Five Guys, so....   We also made spaghetti and meatballs one night and Johnny pretty much made the meatballs himself, although I shaped most of them.  It was kind of fun cause I treated it almost like a cooking class and explained as I went along why I did things the way I did, etc.  I figure since it's become a family classic recipe, he might as well get his intro from "the source".  And I finally did something different I've been meaning to try any time I've cooked spaghetti with any of my various recipes and never seem to remember.  And that is to get the pasta cooked, drain it, put it back in the pan and then start adding some sauce to it and tossing it until it's coated but not much more.  I've always put the pasta on the plate, then dumped on the meatballs and sauce and that's fine, but I see the photos of pasta where each strand is coated and think "hmmm, that looks good" and that's how this looked.

And last night, we had the rest of the meatballs and sauce on meatball subs using two demi-baguettes from the bakery which made for a wonderful treat.

Johnny is really back into Legos and wanted me to get out the stash right away so I did and he's played with those quite a bit.  There was a castle in sad need of renovation and I don't know why, but I got the urge to see if I could figure out how it was supposed to be and make it that way.  I've only ever put together one other Lego thing following the instruction manual that came with it and that was hard!  The first challenge on the castle was to find the instructions.  I knew they would have to be on the internet somewhere and by durn, I finally found a scanned copy of the actual manual and got started.  It took me I think 3 days of off and on working but I did it!!!  I'm almost positive the drawbridge is not the way it's supposed to be, but it does go up and down and that was the one place where I simply could not follow or figure out the illustrations (which is what Lego instructions are).  But overall I was pleased.  At one point, Johnny said "you're really enjoying this, aren't you Grammy?" and I had to admit that I was.  So here's the little castle in all it's glory. :)

And as I was getting close to the finish line on the castle, Johnny decided to make a band of sturdy knights to stand guard so here is the finished scene.  I think this kit was called the The Black Falcon's Fortress and was a kit that January received however many years ago - long since discontinued.

So, yesterday was our trip to Charleston to visit the Clay Center museum complex once again.  Last year was the Egyptian exhibit which was right up Johnny's alley.  This year everything, artwork, film, etc., was about NASA and I think he enjoyed it to a point.  I enjoyed it cause I'm fascinated about what might be out there in the universe.  We had just watched a NOVA episode on TV the night before about "Can We Make it to Mars" and that added to the enjoyment of the exhibits we saw.  There were two or three school classes making field trips to the museum (first time we've run into that), so it was quite a wild and crazy place.  We took a couple pictures of each other outside on the fantastic metal sculpture they have in front of the building.

Yesterday, we got into one of the projects from a kit I had given to Johnny at Christmas.  I knew when I gave it to him, he would need some help with them and told him then that we could work on some of them over spring break.  So he brought them with him and yesterday, we decided to try making a solar powered race car.  I wasn't real impressed with the instructions and not too impressed with the parts given to complete it but we finally got it to where it looked like it should work.  Of course, Johnny was convinced that we should be able to make it work using lamplight and I was fairly convinced that we couldn't, but we tried that for a while and finally decided to go up on the roof to see what would happen in the sunlight.  The sun, by this time was at too much of an angle, I think, although we did at least get the wheels to turn once or twice if we were holding it, but it refused to run when we sat it down on the tile-topped tables up there.  So, we were pretty discouraged but today it was a very bright, sunny day and we tried it first on my windowsill with the window open and it worked!!  So then we took it with us when we went to pick up Jamie for lunch (our traditional "best pancakes in the world" lunch at Tudor's Biscuits) and tried it on the sidewalks and it went over the cracks and little twigs and everything.  Quite, quite satisfying..  I had a video of it posted here but posted it as "private" and then discovered I couldn't upload it a second time, posted as public, because I kept getting "duplicate - can't publish" messages.  So if we ever again have some sunshine (which is beginning to look doubtful!), I'll do another one and post that.

And that pretty much brings me up to date - oh, we also went to see "Rio" which was pretty darned cute - I really enjoyed it and Johnny liked it too.  Right now, we're watching "Time Bandits" - started it last night and will finish it tonight and it is crazy but fun.  British, so that's a clue to the kind of crazy it is.

Don't know if I'll have anything momentous to report for the remainder of Johnny's time here.  I think tomorrow we'll be going to the paint-your-own pottery place and he'll make something that will have to be shipped to him.  But he likes doing that so it will be fun.


Christopher said...

Wow... great post! I recognized that Clay Center sculpture immediately as the work of Albert Paley, and googled to confirm---the Cathedral recently installed a gate by him.
Glad the solar car worked---though I can't get the video to play (says it is private.)
Time Bandits is one of my all-time favorite movies from my younger days---saw it in Boy Scouts twice and was at the right age, I guess, that I and my fellow scouts were quite enthralled by it. Terry Gilliam movie, if I recall--he does crazy stuff. Glad Rio was good--I'm thinking of seeing that one too.
The castle looks great--congrats on the effort!
Hi to Johnny for me...!

January said...

That all looks and sounds pretty great, Mama! I bet he's had a really good time. And I have to say, it warms my heart to see the Black Falcon's Fortress looking so sturdy and well-guarded :)

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