Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Italy trip - some highlights

We are back from our two week trip to Italy and it was super! We had a great time traveling and visiting with Quentin, and got to see many wonderful sites, and eat good food, and drink wine, and I even got to see one of my target birds (common kingfisher). Marianne will post some pix online later, but for now I just wanted to note a few of the highlights from our trip.

- Spending time with Quentin. We were together for two weeks and that alone made the whole trip worth it! Getting to catch up on news, cook and eat together, have Quentin help navigate while I drove, seeing how well Q can get around and use his Italian. Yep, family is the best!

- The weather. Almost perfect! We had one rainy day in Naples, when we walked around the city in the evening. But even that was fun and added to the mood of the city. Otherwise it was warm and lots of sunshine.

- The food. I had read that food in Italy is a big part of the culture and now we have experienced that. We ate out about 1/2 the time and cooked or made our own meals the other 1/2. There are hundreds of different kinds of pasta in Italy and we had quite a few. Some of our special meals out included an amazing dinner at Monte Pucci restaurant near Peschici, along the coast of the Adriatic sea. We had a plate of fresh mollusks, several different fresh fish, along with wine and bread. Another great meal out was to the tiny mountain town of Capaccio, in a local restaurant called "Scugnizzo's". We had a nice antipasti plate, including fresh artichokes, and several types of pasta for sinner, and the real highlight was the baba' rum cake for dessert - delicious! And we cooked some great pasta meals too, always adding a bit of hot pepper that Quentin had bought in Morocco.

- The drinks. We had quite a few different red wines, and a few whites too. Especially memorable was stopping at a small bar after a long bike ride, where Rick enjoyed some limoncello, and Marianne and Quentin had a mixed drink with campari.

- Bike rides. We had two great days riding. First, we had some older bikes from our stay at Agriturismo Seliano. We rode down to the Greek ruins at Paestum, and then found our way to the Mediterranean where we had a nice picnic lunch. Rick's bike had a problem and the left pedal fell off! But we got it back on and then drove off through the countryside. Quentin spotted a small home that sold Limoncello, so we stopped and bought some in a beautiful hand painted bottle, and asked if they had a wrench for the bike. They did and we tightened the pedal, and off we went! We rented bikes for an afternoon in Tuscany, and rode up a very steep mountain road to the small town of Lamole. We were pretty tired out, but there was a small restaurant where we stopped and had some cafe latte and biscotti, which tasted great!

History, churches, and ruins - We visited many amazing places, including Greek ruins at Paestum, many incredible churches, spent a full day at Pompeii, wandered through much of old Rome. An amazing place was the Sassi cave homes in Matera. People built homes into the soft rock there, and in recent years, these are being restored. We stayed at a beautiful B&B there, where the owners had restored a home and modernized the inside. Really interesting place.

Birds - I did get to see one of my target birds,the common kingfisher! In all, I saw 44 species, including 12 new ones, so it was pretty good. Some areas that I hoped for lots of birds did not turn up too much, but birding was a part of every place we went, for sure.

Steps - My little pedometer got quite a workout! We walked a lot, but the record day was in Rome, when I got over 30,000 steps in a single day. Whew! But the walking is always fun, sightseeing, people watching, and touring.

Gelato - YUM! We sampled gelato in almost everyplace we went and overall, found it to be very yummy. Quentin showed us the proper technique of asking for 2 or 3 different flavors in a small cup. That way you get to try even more types!

Well, those are a few of the things we did. Just wanted to post some while it is still fresh in my mind. Marianne will post pix with more descriptions, and we'll fill you in on more when we see everyone.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Article in Mexican journal finally published!

Not to try to compete with Laurel and her running in circles for her part in Squidman (which is way cool!), I am pretty excited that an article I wrote in Spanish has finally been published! It is in the online, open source journal "Investigación ambiental - Ciencia y política pública", Vol. 1, No. 2. This is pretty likely the last thing I will ever get published, and I am glad that it is finally out. I wish I had started doing work like this earlier in my career, but at least I did it a little.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Italy trip target birds

Marianne and I are going to Italy to visit Quentin and travel together. So, I needed to figure out what might be a good target bird or two. Given that we'll be there in late March, it seemed best to stick with resident species, as migrants may not yet have arrived. So, here are my picks:

Common Kingfisher (which isn't all that common from what I gather) .and Eurasian Green Woodpecker . I am looking forward to time with Quentin, good red wine, a bit of history, some nice parks and hikes, and now, seeing one or both of my target birds!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Having spent the better part of the last several months with both immediate and extended family, I just want to say that the older I get, the more special these times become. I treasure the times with Tucker and Isla, and truly feel blessed to be able to be with them as much as I have. On the other side of the age spectrum, I am so glad that my parents live in Fort Collins, and I can have time with them as well - for fun and to help them out. Toss in my relationship with my sisters and their families, and Marianne's family, and it just adds up to a very happy feeling inside of me. Life is good, and my family is a huge part of that goodness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New fire pit

Mom and I just finished putting in a fire pit in the old paddock area. It's east of the elm trees and just a bit north of the path of the big swing. We bought some rustic looking bricks, and followed directions mom found online. The inner diameter is 4 feet, and there is a 4 inch layer of pea gravel, topped with a 3 inch layer of sand. We really enjoyed hanging around the fire pit at Don's house and now we can do that here too! Te Beagh was very helpful and seems to approve of this newest project.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Feelin' hoppy!

Our hops got hit pretty hard with the four hailstorms we had this summer, but one bine managed to get all the way to the top of the support. (hmmm, makes me wonder what will happen in a year with no hail storms...). So, today I lowered the wire with the pulley system, and it worked great. I harvested a fair batch of centennial hops. My hands smelled really good after the harvest! I read up on ways to dry them and what I decided to do was put them on the drying trays from the food dehydrator we got from Nate and Karen, but not to use the dehydrator to dry them. It would likely be too hot, so I laid the drying trays on tops of a small fan and will just dry them with regular air. May take a few days, but I think it will work well. Then I'll freeze them and use them for dry hopping! Yep, feelin' pretty hoppy today!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tucker pix

Justin, Juliana, and Tucker are visiting and we are loving it! Tucker tried out our new swimming pool too, and enjoys stroller rides, and visits with great grandparents. He's a lot of fun, and we are soaking up our time with him. He will be crawling soon, but for now he mostly stays put when you set him down. But he can reach pretty far, and scooch along a bit, so soon he'll be moving out for real.

We went camping for a night at Rocky Mountain National Park and Tucker did great. I was holding him by our campsite in the morning and a coyote came by and was hunting for a ground squirrel. The coyote ignored us and was stalking the squirrel, maybe just 50 feet away! Justin came up and it still stayed. It pounced and missed its prey, and then walked on. It was awesome to see, so close.

Te Beagh and Tucker are getting to be BFFs. Te Beagh likes to take things slowly, so at first she was a little hesitant about this pint-sized person. But she has gotten more and more used to Tucker, and she even slept by his crib while Tucker napped!

Here are a few cute pix, and a short video clip.