Thursday, February 24, 2011

the long goodbye

the farewell tour continues-  with Moore's tonight.  we had the favorites of stone crab and soft shell crab.  soon we will have to begin packing in earnest and figure out how to get more stuff into the car than we came with... how did that happen? 

I did finally spot the real alligator this week but his lair is out of camera range.  maybe next year... LOL

and we have new ducks on the river who seem to have appeared in the last week- so things continue to change all the time.

we'll be going back to cold and somewhat snowy weather but it will be time limited and already the rest of the year is so busy (yes you read that correctly- the year)

I completed the final arrangements for our safari and South Africa trip today with the final hotel booking.  that trip falls over our tenth anniversary and will be 28 days by the time we added time in wine country and the garden route and Capetown etc.. but now we are ready to go.  one of the things Phil added to his stuff while down here were some clothes from Columbia Sportswear for the safari part of our trip.  our friend Helen is coming from France to house-sit and cat-sit and also visit with her soon to be born grand daughter (nick-named Baby Chambol) the baby is due to Laure & Arno the end of April.

meanwhile my friend Jen (see back at the Danger Zone post) has been keeping abreast of the Tunisia situation via twitter posts (how does one even do that? LOL) as we get closer to our departure date (four weeks away.)  so - as I always seem to be saying - time marches on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

endings beginning

today I was reading back over some of the blog entries and I see I neglected to follow up on the planned memorial lunch we had for my mom.  the lunch was attended by all but one of her local friends and everyone had lovely things to say about my mother.  I was touched by their stories and the emotions they each shared about losing her.

after the lunch Phil and I took some of my mom's ashes over to the beach and scattered them in the Gulf of Mexico.  I was thinking tonight at dinner about how much she would have loved to hear about what we were doing.  as I have mentioned before she loved the Anna Maria Oyster Bar on Cortez and that is where we had the first one of our "farewell tour" dinners. 

being here for this time away from our "real lives" even while still working - has been healing.  it has given us a clear break from the "before" of the illness and death of my sister and mother and the "after"- the next part of our lives, especially mine.  speaking of my next phase, I applied today for the fast track passport clearance upon returning to the US.  with the trips I currently have planned this could be a big time saver.  I am hoping they will call me for my interview and that I will get approved before I leave for Tunisia. 

tomorrow night we will have dinner with CBGB and then Friday with the wonderful owners of River Cottage.  Sunday we have a spring training game.  so Saturday we have to pack and ready for our return to city life.  it is amazing how quickly the time has gone by. 

when we last saw CBGB they had come over for dinner and as a "hostess gift" GA brought some of the most beautiful chocolates I have ever seen (AND they were great tasting as well as good looking) - I took a photo so we could keep the beauty even after they were gone- which I think qualifies for "having your cake and eating it too."

these thoughts seem pretty random - and lacking in a focus- it is as if I am drawing ends together in preparation for leaving - regrouping - moving on.   like forwarding mail back to Chicago after we are gone and ending the Chicago forward to River Cottage... life marching on.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

three good meals

in Miami - which is definitely a new record for us.  we went to visit Phil's brother Larry this past weekend and since my cousin Michele lives there too now we got to see here as well.  She has moved into a beautiful new apartment overlooking the river. 

so we drove down on Friday and arrived late afternoon - checked into our hotel and called Larry who came over after work to head out for dinner at Pascal's on Ponce.  we each ordered the tasting menu and it was wonderful.  luckily we were not horribly full so we could order the extra dessert of baked alaska to share between the three of us. 

on Saturday we went to the Coconut Grove arts fair (Larry lives in the Grove) where I fell in love with a painting I didn't buy (the 24K asking price seemed a bit steep) - and bought a cute little wall hanging for waaaaay waaaay less. we had messy gyros for lunch and some empanada snacks and ran into a couple of couples who were friends of Larry's.  after we had had enough (read after I had had enough) we went to a bar in the grove and had some drinks and relaxed and cooled off.  it had hit the mid eighties that day and so I wilted long before the boys.

we dropped Larry off and went back to the hotel and then later he came by and picked us up to go to Michele's to see her new apartment- it is very very chic.  white marble floors and stainless kitchen with washer dryer in the unit- extremely nice!  we got to talking and before we knew it we were a tad late heading out to dinner at the traditional Spanish Casa Juancho. 

Phil had the suckling pig and Larry the goat and Michele and I chose fish/seafood- these after a round of appetizers that were very satisfying.  we shared two desserts (boys mostly ate them) and called it a nice evening.

we made plans to check out in the morning and go to Larry's before heading out for lunch outside someplace.  our choices were somewhat restricted because of the art fair and also the boat show in town over at Miami Beach.  after getting to Larry's we went to visit his friend Brian and his family for a little bit.  long enough to walk out with a bag of star fruit from a tree in Brian's back yard.

then we headed for Garcia's which Phil was suspicious of (I am sure thinking uh-oh Mexican food) which was outside on the river near downtown.  it was fabulous - fresh fresh fresh fish and seafood- just what we were looking for in a really relaxed atmosphere. 

we took the long way back to Larry's, hung out for a while and then drove to Ft. Lauderdale to see friends Neil and Elizabeth who are renting for a while over there.  Neil's friend Frank was visiting from Chicago and so we five went out to dinner before we headed back to or River Cottage and Penny & Lucy. 

when we got home Phil commented on - something I was also feeling- how much the River Cottage now feels like our "home."  you know how somehow you just breathe easier when you are home?  I think that is it- really we both feel like this is "home" now.  even as our time here comes to a close and we start planning our final week and begin thinking of packing and being homeward bound, we have felt so completely comfortable here that it has become our home for these two months.

tonight we heard what we take to be the alligator sounds on the river and we are hoping for a sighting in our last week here.  then we can bring home a gator picture for Lynn to show her grandson a photo of the one she wrestled- LOL

and I will end with a photo of our cow buddy who lives across the street- he a lone animal apparently a tax dodge - which gets the property owners an agriculture tax rate for their acreage here "out east" - we stop by every day to say hello...LOL