This is from few weeks ago.  Had to have a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with it. 



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NOW, it’s summer!

Guest Post by:  Miss Adventure (A nome de plume) 



Such a busy summer my sisters and I have had.  We are Richard’s chickens.  Usually, we lead a dull life on top of the mountain but since there was so much work going on up there he booked us in for a month long stay at Auntie Martha’s Holiday Hen House.  It is down in the valley on a BIG estate.  Most times we get to run around while the good dog Nerone watches after us.  He keeps us safe.  After spending the day exploring, we come back and Auntie Martha makes us cocktails while we have appetizers.  Then she makes us a nice dinner.  Then  we have a cozy cottage to stay in.   The next morning we do it all again.  But if Auntie Martha doesn’t get up as early as we think she should, we wail and run our beaks across the wire door like prisoners  banging their  tin cups on the jail bars.  Since we are right under her bedroom window that usually gets her moving. 


I figured out that once she lets us out on to our private terrace if I want to go exploring on my own all I have to do is jump.



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See here I am on the top of the gate.


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Look there are my sisters still on the ground.  They are just jealous that I can do this and they can’t!


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“Charlotte!  Stop shaking the gate!”



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Well, I guess that I am out now.  Oh well, off to explore.  Auntie Martha will let me back in  at cocktail time.

Every now and then I think about my Mother.  Ben and I have had a few doctors’ appointments lately and watching the doctors hunt and peck with one finger on their laptops while they typed up notes made me think of her.   My Mother was a very good typist.  Before she married my Father she worked as a secretary and was honored for her fast, accurate typing.  Of course, while I was in high school she thought I should learn to type.  Somehow, I knew that if I learned how to type I would be STUCK in the office/secretary type of work role.  So I resisted.


The summer after my junior year in high school, my parents hitched up their Airstream trailer and showed me the plans for a multiple week trip from Kentucky to California.  My brother was in the Army and stationed at The Presidio in California and we (including me)  were going to visit him.  I could not contain my joy!  So much so, that I offered to stay at home and take a summer school typing class.   That failed.  Mannnnn, I had pulled out a big one, taking typing.  No dice!  Most probably, I stomped around and there was much drama.  In the end I went.  And in the end I was still a pain in the ass and I am sure my parents might have regretted it.  I do still remember fondly: Albuquerque, New Mexico, the first place I ever saw my hair straight instead of curly (no humidity); and in Las Vegas getting escorted out of the casinos by big burly men because I was under 18.  My mother was running after us screaming at my Father,  ‘Tac!’ and ‘but she’s 17 years old!’  (in their defense I did not look my age).   It was quite funny.  So I never took typing.  I took 3  foreign languages, Home Ec (if you don’t know what this is, ask a woman older than 60)  and all the history, English, maths and sciences  but never typing.


I finished high school, went off to college for two years, then marriage and out into the world of work.  These were the days before word processors and computers.  I was not very employable.  Couldn’t type, didn’t finish college, no other real skills except my three foreign languages.   I had office jobs that I hated.  Somehow I managed to get myself into the academic world.  Hey, after 14 years of school,  that is what you know best, schools, school schedules, school hours, school holidays….  After that, I bounced around to a lot of different jobs, always just outside the norm for women of my age because I couldn’t type and did not have my degree.  Finally, I broke down and finished college, then finished a graduate level certificate program, then finished a two year college program and still was not really that employable and still could not type.  I finally realized that I was always happy in an academic setting, so I wormed my way back to the community college that I had finished my two year degree at  and finished my work life there.  By then I was very knowledgeable in computers and word processing.  I used to compile and edit the textbook that our department used, adding graphics, charts, a table of contents, and an index  because I was the one of 2 folks in the whole department that knew how to do these ‘technical things’.  All the while still using one finger to hunt and peck.


So I think of my Mother while I watch these Italian doctors, hunting and pecking.  I guess pursuing medicine keeps you from having to write long literature or history term papers.  I guess they just never needed to type either.  Then late the other night I sat down to dash off a quick email, not bothering to turn on the light in my room.  I was typing away on my darken keyboard when I realized that I was typing, with amazing accuracy, without being able to see the keyboard.  OH MY GOSH!  My Mother would be so happy, finally, I can type!  And I use more than one finger to do it.


And Ben and I have been thinking about my Mother because it is almost her birthday and time for the lobster festa.  We went with our friend Grace and her family.  My Mother would say, ‘Oh. don’t waste money sending me flowers.’  So I don’t, but we do go to this lobster festa and enjoy lobster and remember her that way.  Lobster was one of her favs.


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Look at this cute boy and his lobster tee shirt.  (She would have liked him too)




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The lobster was really good.  The pink stuff is a sort of cocktail sauce but not horseradishy.


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Ben’s fritto misto was very good too.


If my Mother was still alive, next week would be her 100th birthday and this week would be my parents’ 72nd wedding anniversary.  If you think about it, raise a glass and give them a toast.


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This has always been one of our favorites to go to.  The first year that we went, we were seated in an airless courtyard under a hot sun.  Not pleasant but the food was good.  While there, we saw folks sitting on a rooftop terrace enjoying the same meal.  It turns out that you have to reserve for a terrace table so for the next few years we did.  Assorted folks and guests would join us and we all had a big time there for a number of years.  One of the organizers took us under his wing and would take our guests on tours of the ‘workings’ of the festa.  Proudly showing off the Americans.  We were always treated well. 


This year, for whatever reason, instead of being 10 days spread over 2 weeks it was only one weekend.  And they had added duck, done in the style of porchetta ( a way of doing a roasted pig with a lot of herbs).  Not much advertising either.  We tried to get a crowd together for a table on the rooftop terrace but no one could make it.  So since it was just the two of us, we decided we would take our chances and just sit in the courtyard again.


So we went.  Arriving early to get a parking space and to be able to enjoy a beer.  We saw our organizer friend.  “ I did not see your name on the reservation list.  There is room.  Do you want to be seated upstairs?”   The operative word is stairs.  It is a fairly steep flight of stairs and without any of our friends there I was reluctant to try to get Ben up and down.  No, I told our friend , we will just sit down here.  He wished ‘Bon Appetito’ and was off.  There was a threat of rain so meal service had been moved into the auditorium.  Oh MY, another meal in a hot, airless, noisy room.  Fortunately, it was not a hot evening and  we were seated in one of the few places where there was actually air movement.   (Italians are notorious for their fear of any breeze, many times closing windows on buses, no matter how hot for fear of catching ‘l’aria’)  And it was so quiet in there.  Really, seriously, normally these are loud, noisy, boisterous events.  Not this one.  And….


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Look at this bread basket!  Bread made with whole grains and salt!!!!!!  Oh what is the Tuscan world coming to?  A festa where you could speak in a normal tone of voice instead of yelling and whole grain bread? 


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A grain mill was one of the sponsors of the event, so wisely they managed to get some whole grains on the table.


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The antipasta was normal and good.  Look at the panzanella!  No whole grains in that.


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And the steak was excellent!  I get the one topped with arugula, Ben gets the one topped with mushrooms.  We took home our leftovers for a hot steak salad  a few days later.  All in all a subdued but fun event. 

So many going on now.  And so much rain that might be cutting into attendance. 


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Pigeon!   But it is only served 2 nights.  The usual festa food the other nights.




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Details of what is going on at the lobster festa.  This year it moved to a larger location and you can make reservations for a table. 


Just before Dinah and Allen left to go back to Canada (in June)  we all went off to the snail festival near Cortona.  We had never been to it before and snails are one of the things that Allen enjoys eating.  (There is not much that Allen enjoys eating) 


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Nice antipasta to start with


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Ben had pizza.


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Dinah and I had steak.  It was very good steak.


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And Allen had the pasta with snails cooked in the sauce topped by one snail.  He thought it was very tasty. 


This is a small festa and one of the ones that gets crowded so it is wise to go early.


Guest Post:  By Nerone, the dog


She Who Must Be Obeyed posted this on August 14, 2011.


Yes, another thing Siena would not have understood why it took so long.  We have finally gotten another dog.  After she died I felt that if we were to have another dog it would find us.  Careful readers of this blog might have noticed that  while we were at the Ostrich Sagra, we saw a picture of a promising dog who was living in a rescue kennel.  Well, it took a few days to get there for a visit.  And then the folks who run the rescue kennel had to come out and make sure we were suitable.  And finally we went to pick him up on Tuesday, July 19.

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For a dog who has spent most of his 3 years at a rescue kennel he seems remarkably at home on a couch as well as having very good indoor and outdoor manners.

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His first sagra.  Dogs are welcome here in many places so we want him to get used to going places and riding in the car.  It has been a delight to watch him develop confidence, lose anxieties and enjoy more and more activities with us.

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The farm is not fenced and I am not sure that he will ever be able to be  outside without being on a lead.  Too many bugs, birds, cats, deer and other things catch his attention and he would just run off chasing after something.  But he doesn’t seem to mind walking on a lead or being tethered to something while we are sitting outside.

I thought long and hard about getting another dog.  I mean, I will very probably be at least 70 years old before he dies.  But now that he is here I wonder why I had doubts or waited.  But I know I waited to find just the right dog and Nerone certainly is.  Physically and with all his mannerisms he reminds us so much of Siena.  It really is like having a young Siena back in our lives.  But he is his own dog also.  All of us are looking forward to a long, happy future together.




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I hope I have fulfilled their dreams.  They tell me I’m a good dog.  And I do try.  Sometimes it is hard but I get better all the time I think.  I am sorry that we don’t go as many places together as they would like but my delicate stomach means I get car sick a lot!  It really is best, most times, to just leave me at home. 


I’m glad I have a big, important job now, looking after the whole estate by myself.  I take it very seriously.  Why, just last weekend I caught some kitchen oaf sniffin’ around Marie-Claude’s house and cuttin’ rosemary.  It probably was okay but I didn’t like the look of him.  Now if he had been stealin’ those cats that hang around her house…Well, I sure wooda helped him.


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So here I am…  Happy to have a home!  Happy to have a good job that I like!  Happy to have a schedule that She pretty much follows!  Just happy to be a dog.  And they tell me every day that I am the GOOD DOG!  I guess I finally grew into that.  Shew, it was a good thing that they found me, I could still be waitin’ for my forever family.  I’m glad I’m not.  So Happy Anniversary to me, She and My Ben!


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