My Travel Journal

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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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May 17, 2017

Two visits - Part 1

I'm at my son Chris's home now but arrived at my daughter Heather's home on April 27.  My grandson turned 17(!) and Heather also had a birthday on that weekend so it was a happy time to be there.  In addition to which, one of their goats gave birth to her baby while I was there.  Almost got to the stable in time but wasn't fast enough.  The little one was already struggling to stay on its feet and get to Mama.  Pretty darned sweet. :)

 I managed to get a cold while I was there but it was a fast moving one and didn't make me feel as puny as my colds usually do which was nice.  Heather took Friday and Monday off and the kids didn't seem quite as busy as usual so it was a good visit.

Tuesday I drove down to Chris's apartment and have been there since.  He had told me that Saturday he had signed up to volunteer for a couple of things at the National Cathedral's annual Flower Market and I was welcome to come along.  So I did because he had said that various embassies in DC create elaborate floral displays and I thought it would be nice to see those.  Also, if it's nice weather, it's pleasant strolling around in their lovely gardens and I could visit all the various vendor tents.

So, off we went.  We had a bite of breakfast in the cafe there and wished it was not quite so cold and rainy.  I had only packed a sweater that I use when the weather is cool so I didn't plan on being outside for long. But I had my book and I-pad so that was all right.

Got inside and started our tour around the displays which were in the colonnades that run along each side of the nave and after the second or third one I - like an idiot - was moving on to the next one while looking back to say something to Chris and fell down two stairs.  Apparently, I hadn't remembered that the colonnades are two steps up from the floor of the nave.  It was quite a tumble and I immediately thought "I sprained my ankle again, darn it!" because it was very painful.  But with some assistance I managed to get myself upright and said to Chris "if I managed to walk around Florence for three weeks after spraining my ankle, I can manage to see the rest of the displays" and so, hanging on to his arm and wincing all the way, we did see all the displays and they were pretty spectacular.  I thought I would be able to remember which countries did each display but I was wrong and there was no guide to bring home so very few of these photos will be identified.  Maybe when Chris reads the post, he'll be able to come up with a couple more ID's.  But here are the pictures that Chris kindly took for me since I was kind of beyond picture taking after the fall.  I've left them in medium size but if you want to see them bigger, just click on them.

I do remember this one was Japanese with an antique Samurai sword on the right hand side.  A lady standing there told us it was a very valuable item and she and others would be with the display the whole time it was there (just that weekend or maybe even just the one day) partly to make sure it wasn't stolen but mostly to make sure someone didn't decide to pull the sword out and accidentally injure themselves or someone else with the very sharp blade.

 This was a neat one - the flowers copy a Mondrian painting and are displayed on an old wooden easel.
 I think this might have been China - it includes the Olympic rings and the white snow leopard.

 This was Australia's display - featuring their wine industry's growing world-wide popularity.
Each time I see this picture the country Patagonia springs to mind so just now noticing the mostly blue flag with the gold bar at the bottom, I Googled Patagonia's flag and think, based on that, this probably is their display.
And it's kind of embarrassing but this was the United States' effort.
Gee, I should have thought of the flags before I started because this one turns out to be Jamaica's display - a real beauty.
 It's kind of embarrassing but this arrangement is the United States' effort.  Pretty but not in any way symbolic of the country.  We discovered when we were finished and out of the colonnades that on the nave side of the colonnade railing, on the portion in front of this display was the next arrangement which is at least red, white and blue.

This gorgeous one, I have no clue...


This one would have been a much better idea for the US but it was another country's effort.

 I really liked this one - it has so many interesting bits and pieces.  The sign that is on the left side looks like it might say Panama.
 A very nice arrangement from our neighbor, Canada.
Another beauty, but again, no clue...
 This one is so lovely, I feel guilty not being able to credit the country who provided it - I feel sure it must be a near or far eastern country.

But the rest of the pictures below are all from the Thailand display.  It was gorgeous and also mind-boggling.  These are all carved fruits - melons, etc., and gourds or squashes (I remember there was a pumpkin sculpture.)  And the carver sat there carving which was a nice touch, I thought.




Their display table was big enough that it didn't fit in one picture but the second photo above shows the majority of it.

So that was all wonderful to see but by the end of it, I was pretty much finished and my foot was swelling so Chris got me to the docents' room, a policeman (who had joined the group who gathered when I fell) came to make a report and see if there was anything he could do and I asked about some kind of ice pack and he got me one of those, I got my legs up on the sofa, got my book and a glass of water handy, can't remember if anyone had any pills handy, and settled in until it was time to leave.  In addition to feeling sorry for myself, I felt so bad for Chris because he had taken Thursday and Friday off in the upcoming week and now was going to have this hobbling mother on his hands.  I had planned to go home following that 4-day weekend with him but now wasn't real sure what the situation would be by then.

I'll be posting again because I finally got myself to an urgent care center on Monday and also, we've managed to do several enjoyable things since then.  So, here ends Part 1 and you'll find Part 2 by scrolling down to the next post. :)


2 Visits - Part 2

When I went to the urgent care center the Monday after the Flower Market, I told them that I had been pretty sure it was a sprain but now I was beginning to wonder because it was my foot that was so swollen and turning black and blue rather than my ankle plus which in addition to just a general all-over hurting foot, there was one spot on the side that gave me sharp pains when I walked.  I had finally Googled on Sunday to see what the bones in the foot were and made my own diagnosis of a broken 5th metatarsal bone.  I didn't tell him that because I imagine doctors get tired of folks diagnosing themselves on Google.  But they X-rayed it and that's what it was.  So they wrapped it with two ace bandages and sent me home after referring me to an orthopedist and telling me to call them early Tuesday and hopefully get an appointment in the next day or two so that's what I did and I got an appointment for Tuesday afternoon!  I won't go into the trauma of their parking lot...and how much wandering around with my really hurting foot I ended up doing trying to get in and out of it.

Here's my ugly foot Tuesday evening... people who know me know that if I'm going to wound myself I want something to show for it and this was very satisfactory. :)


The orthopedist had me fitted up with a Cam boot which up until yesterday I pretty much violently hated.  It was causing me pain in places the broken bone hadn't bothered with so that around 5 in the evening each day I was desperate to get out of it.  But as of yesterday, it seems to have settled down pretty much.  I still don't like using it and sure hope he says I don't have to at my 3-week checkup but I'm walking about as normally as is possible with it on and I think that's helping both my feet.

And having it feel somewhat better and doing better with the walking, etc.,  here is how my ugly foot looks now...

So aside from all that, I've been having a nice time.  Have been working on my embroidery some and now that I'm feeling somewhat better will probably do more of that.  And we've done a nice amount of eating out, hitting a couple of my favorite places and then for Mother's Day Chris has made reservations (prior to the foot business) to take me to a small Italian restaurant that he had never been to but that had good reviews and is popular.  They had a special brunch menu where you made your selections for antipasti, primo and secondo and then a choice of sweets, along with bottomless strawberry bellinis, bloody Mary's, or mimosas.  Since it was all included in the total price, I decided to try a bit of the bloody Mary since I had never tasted one and I like tomato juice.  One taste was enough - it was really spicy - even Chris agreed that it was spicier than he liked and didn't finish his.  So that was just a real nice experience - the service was good, everyone there was happy because they were either being mom, or taking good care of mom.    We basically didn't eat again that day! :)

Friday we went for lunch to Cheese-tique.  There are three of them now in the DC area.  They started out as a cheese shop in Alexandria which I visited every now and then and then they opened up a very small eating area in the back of the shop and now, the rest is history as they say.  That was also a very delightful.

And Saturday, Chris had an appointment for a haircut and called and got me one too since I had planned on getting one as soon as I got home.  Then we went out to lunch at a place called Bistro Bistro and, once again, it was quite a pleasant meal.  The standout item was their French fries!!  We had ordered a bowl of mussels in a wine, butter and herb sauce and it said on the menu "served with French fries" and neither one of us had ever heard of that so we asked for some bread too.  We used the bread to sop the juice but oh, those French fries - they truly are, I think, the best I've ever had.

It's fortunate both Chris and I (well, my daughters too) like to eat and drink wine because if one of us did and the others all just wanted to eat at fast food places, the visits sure wouldn't be as enjoyable.  Although I have to say that by now, with very little exercise what with my great boot and "stay off your feet as much as possible" orders, I'm beginning to feel pretty much like a walrus with all this good eating.

Another thing that's going on is that a friend of Chris's gave him a coupon for three free Blue Apron packages.  Blue Apron is one of those places where you can sign up and get shipments consisting (in this instance) of supplies to make 3 meals for 2 people or 3 meals for 4 people.  He opted for the 2 people, of course, and got his first 3 last Sunday so has been out in the kitchen chopping, mixing, stirring, and I think enjoying it.  I had one portion which was a wonderful Tuscan chicken breast with a really delicious couscous side dish.  And they're so neat, everything comes in its own sometimes very small wraps (they send everything called for except salt, pepper and olive oil) and I think it's probably all good quality.  One night it was a Vietnamese (one cuisine I don't care for) burger of all things with whatever was accompanying it and when he was frying the burger it smelled absolutely wonderful - just like beef used to smell and doesn't much anymore.  So it will be fun to see how the next 3 go...

Last night I made a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and it was good but, again, I think grocery store beef just is not the quality it used to be.  And I noticed at home and here too, that the meat they're selling for pot roast now (or chuck roast) is much thicker than what I'm used to and usually kind of misshapen.  I sure miss my bladebone-in chuck roasts which I haven't seen in years - they're all boneless now.

I'm realizing as I type that this is really a very boring blog post for anyone who visits, so if you've reached this point, I apologize.  But a year or two from now I'll be wandering through my blog looking for something and will come across this and get to relive the whole thing again.  That happens periodically and when it does, I'm always glad I started the blog.

If I post more about my adventures on this prolonged trip, it won't be "part 3" - it will just be the first one on the screen as usual.

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