Jason, Kat and Kayla head out to Pisa, and Griffin invites me to sit and watch a morning video. It’s a clear day, and will be hot—but not quite the triple digits hot. The boy doesn’t notice his mother’s not there for awhile, then he gets up, wanders into the kitchen. I know he’s looking for her. He’ll usually call out: Mommy? Where are you? But today, he just looks. Then one of the cleaning crew comes in—she has dark hair like Kat, worn pulled up as Kat often does.
I can see for an instant he thinks it’s Kat, then realizes, nope, not Mom. But he decides she’s worthy of attention. Since the pandemic, he’s been very wary of strangers, but he likes the look of this one, so follows her around, chatters at her. She’s amused and chatters back. The toddler English and the adult Italian don’t seem to matter in this cheerful conversation. Then she walks over to our dining room Start/Finish line, and he assumes: Race, and gives her butt a little nudge.
She is even more amused, and I’m delighted when he doesn’t back off when she crouches down, touches him and they converse in their different languages.
I race with him as she’s busy, then Grandda joins. Now it’s chase and catch Grandda time.
But when the second housekeeper comes in, he decides she looks interesting, too. And when the pair of them start up the stairs, he’s happy to believe this is a race. Up the stairs. Race Up! So up we go, trailing the two housekeepers into Kayla’s room.
They work around him as he jogs in a circle, babbles, then climbs on the bed to jump and bounce. We have a fairly dignified pillow fight on Kayla’s bed, pretend to sleep. Back down he finds one of the buckets with cleaning products interesting, and I must explain: That’s not yours. Fine then, back to videos and the occasional race. Then a break to play trucks before lunch.
I puzzle and BW reads while he eats.
He’s truly good as gold and very entertaining throughout the day.
It’s a long trip for the adventurers, and they bring back many stories and pictures. After the drive, lunch—which given the rest they think should’ve been reversed.
[Presenting photos from Pisa, captions from Laura. Any errors are mine. ~L]
The climb up the Leaning Tower is circular and tilted—with my tendencies toward motion sickness and vertigo, I suspect I wouldn’t make it. Kat has a little trouble, and from the interior pictures I can see why. But they make it to the top and the spectacular view. And after time admiring it, documenting it and regaining some balance, down again.
On the way back they spot a winery that looks like a castle—and we may adventure there. Though Kayla doesn’t like wine, she’d like to visit a winery here. I like wine, and would also enjoy a visit.
For dinner we just raid the fridge and pantry—there’s plenty to go around.
And it’s time to Chase And Catch Grandda again.
Then sit outside in the shade of the back yard, relax while Griffin plays with water, pouring—intensely—from pitcher to bowl, through the net bag that held a kind of Ferris wheel toy, and all over him.
An evening swim for Kat and Griffin, another spectacular sunset.
Cloudy and cooler this morning. Chain Saw Man was busy earlier, but must be taking a well-deserved break.
I’ll get my workout in, then I suspect plans will depend on the weather.
First, for those of you wondering why we don’t/hoping we will walk down to see what Chain Saw Man is building, an explanation.
We’re on a hilltop here, overlooking the valley with more forested hills to the east and west. CSM is somewhere—best we can tell—on a ridge to the west, within one of the dense forests. We can’t see him, only hear.
No way to walk down anywhere from here as the first step would be a doozy!—which is why we have stone walls to prevent tumbling off the hill. Plus he’s not `down’ there, he’s over on another hill somewhere. I can see a vineyard on the top of the hill to our right—the west—and what looks like a dirt road going down, but even with all the sounds of building, we never see any movement.
Don’t know where he is, and there’s a lot going on over there this pretty Sunday morning. Sawing, hammering, and the first time I hear the sound of a vehicle. A tractor, maybe? A small bulldozer? Not sure, as it’s just not visible. I just heard a tree go down, and I was looking in that general direction, but didn’t see one fall.
After work out, I join the family for a pleasant time in what’s sort of our sitting room/Griffin’s play room. The cleaning crew’s doing what must be their Saturday ritual, and that’s thorough, so we’re staying out of their way as much as possible. Kayla appears late morning as she’s spent some Face Time with her guy as he and his family are leaving for a cruise and they won’t be able to talk for about a week.
We think to visit the shop in the village, then make a quick hit on the market for fresh strawberries and what Kat needs to make cookies.
Daddy stays back with Griffin, and off we go.
Sadly the shops are closed. I guess Saturday isn’t a big hunt through shops day in Barbarino. So with Kat as our driver and tour guide we head to the big COOP—like chicken coop. There are two—one big, one small—we want the big one as there’s a better chance they’ll have Kayla’s oat milk.
We also score, to our satisfaction, chocolate chips, and to my pleasure, two bottles of Veuve.
Unlike the shops in Barbarino, the COOP is a madhouse. It’s interesting looking for specifics, identifying flour, brown sugar and so on when it’s not in the packaging you’re used to and in another language. Like a hunt, and we become skilled hunters.
Home we go, me to make frozen margaritas, Kat to make cookies.
The reason for margaritas needs no explanation, but the cookies?
Griffin is fond of Chips Ahoy—only the chewy ones, red package. He’s used to being offered a cookie or two daily, so his parents brought along what they thought would last through our Italian adventures. However, there are more of us offering those cookies (often as bribes, of which I am a firm proponent).
He’s running out. We have substituted what he calls cookie cake—some sort of Twinkie looking thing without the filling but with tiny chocolate chips. This was Kayla score, but she shares. Kat’s decided to try to reproduce cookies that meet Griffin’s Chewy Chips Ahoy taste bar.
I’m going to make strawberry margaritas for Kayla and Jason, and for me, a purist, regular. BW can have either. I need cookie-baking Kat’s guidance on the machine to start. But soon I’m juicing and measuring (mostly eyeballing as measuring tools are scarce) slicing and blending. And produce pretty strawberry margs while Kat makes the world’s smallest batch of cookies (it’s a test batch, after all).
Then what I consider a real frozen marg. And I fear I’ll never use margarita mix for anything but marinating chicken and fish again. Fresh is so much better.
In her cook’s mode, Kat makes hummus for Kayla and presents a lovely tray. BW, Kayla and I sit out, BW and I with our second margaritas and some cheese and crackers, Kayla with her hummus tray, and enjoy the view and the sunshine.
Inside, the kitchen smells like fresh cookies, and a few sit out cooling—bigger than the standard Chips Ahoy. Back in the sitting room we learn Griffin took one from Daddy, had a bite, made a disillusioned face and handed it to his mom.
But then went back, took Daddy’s cookie, had some more. I’m too full of margaritas and cheese for cookies, but BW had one. Kat has another culinary success.
It’s game time. Kat v Kayla on the ever-popular Mario Cart. Danger Guy is dangering on the sofa below the screen. I take the other sofa and a bat nap.
We plan to try the other restaurant in the village—recommended for its pizza. It doesn’t open until 7:30, so we head out about 7:15. Griffin plays a game with me and Kayla, closes the gate behind us, guards it. We pretend to beg to come in. He opens it a crack, peeks out. This keeps us entertained.
We also discover the old door across the road sort of built into the wall of the hill isn’t locked. Inside a kind of small cave are big old wine jugs and baskets. I don’t know why.
Shops still closed in the village, and we learn our intended destination is fully booked for Saturday night. We go next door where we had dinner Friday, elect the street patio area.
Kayla and I are going to split a salad to start—what I thought would be a smallish Isalada Mista, that turns out to be huge with tons of roasted veggies. We make a spare plate of tons of roasted veggies to take home for tomorrow’s Sunday morning omelettes (by Kat).
Then there’s pizza, pasta, wine. We don’t lack for conversation. Kayla remembers I can find a song containing almost any word you can throw out. My father could do it. So words are tossed, and Kat says I’m faster than Google. But, I admit, chocolate stumped me. Jason Googles and finds many. None of which I recognized.
Cappuccino, lemoncello—and then they bring us a complimentary dolci, a pretty crepe with many forks.
On the waddle back, we make a reservation at the other place for Tuesday night, so we’ll now compare food and service.
The view of the sky, that thumbnail moon, the red glow at the horizon, from the parking lot is just awesome. Which may be why they have a platform you can go up to to enhance that view.
Home for a last sit out and bask for me, then bed.
We plan a Sunday dinner at home tonight. I’m going to make roasted, herbed-up potatoes—a crowd fave. We have salad makings, broccoli, cheese, bread, left-overs.
I may write awhile after my work out, or sit and read—or watch what I assume will be more Mario Cart competition.
What I think was a big gray cat just dashed up and away. At least I hope it was a cat as I only got a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. We’ve seen a little black and white one in the bushes outside the gate, so I’m going with another cat.
Chain Saw Man continues his work, and I think everyone else is still sleeping.
A cool, breezy, cloudy start turns into a beautiful day. My new workout spot and water bottles do just fine. As I’m finishing up with stretches, BW comes out with his drone to take some aerial shots. Apparently, in one of them a very tiny me is doing a split-leg forward fold.
Everyone’s up and about, the daily cleaning crew’s on the job. I place a few more puzzle pieces before heading up to change.
Jason, BW and Kayla are heading out maybe to see a nearby ghost town, and a dome of some sort. I’m going to work awhile, and Kat wants a day at home. When I join her, there’s a bit more puzzling and hanging out time with the best dil in the history thereof and my youngest grandkid.
Then the gang’s back with stories of skinny, bumpy roads, going off road, amazing views and vineyards. They skipped the ghost town this trip. Lots of lots of pictures to show off—and lunch happens. Kayla makes a very pretty cheese board—just the thing!
More game playing, more puzzling. How about a Bellini—don’t mind if I do.
Maybe a little more work since the puzzle’s reached the point of the all white llama and it’s making my eyes cross.
When I start to shut down, the screen freezes. It won’t let me save the work, won’t let me back up the work, won’t even let me just exit. SHY-OAT! (Griffin’s work for SHIT!)
But who is right here but my personal IT whiz. And Jason saves the work, my nerves and the day. Whew.
Kat and Jason are taking dinner orders, going to the market, getting take-out. Since Griffin has no interest in going with them, he stays back with us. Kat is his person, so it’s a very good thing she can go off without him.
At some point he surfaces from his video and asks: Where’s Mommy?
Kayla says: Oh, she’s at the store. She’ll be back.
He accepts, and also accepts her challenge to a race.
We have many races and chases and jumping and hiding. Kayla becomes his person, and when she says she’s going in for water—and because the bugs are devouring her—he just takes her hand and says: Go back.
This doesn’t mean, in Griffin-speak, go inside. It means go back to what we’re doing, sister. Which is racing.
I get water for both my grandbabies.
She does manage to sneak off after a bit, and I become his person. And that person’s grateful he’s tired of racing so we can play other games. Sit on the grass and pick clover, crumble dry leaves. I catch on to the new Breezeway Game where he stands on one side of the glass, positions me on the other, and we put our faces close, laugh and squeal, then switch places. And do it again. And again.
Jason and Kat are back with food. We’re trying a hot dog for Griffin who is very picky about hot dogs. The first hot dog he ever had happened to be organic, and he very much liked. Jason picked up Oscar Meyer thereafter, and the boy was like: What is this? Are you trying to poison me? I don’t believe this dog was organic—and had cheese inside.
He was just fine with it.
We’re all just fine with our choices, and finish up right before the glory of the sunset. The best one yet. A long slow drop of the sun behind the western hills, a long, long spread of rosy light along the horizon, and such a lovely glow in the sky.
Even after the sky goes dark, that thin line of rose holds and holds.
This morning I grab a sweater before I come down—good thing as it’s another cool start to the day. There’s a blue, cloudless sky, and hammering down where Chain Saw Man is doing whatever he’s doing. A dove calls, insistently.
I don’t know what plans—if any—there are for today. Well, I plan to do a little laundry after I work out. I need Kat—who’s already done some—to show me how to work the washing machine. Other than that, we’ll see what comes.
Today’s #randomkatness (or the many skills of #katgyver)
Some mat work on the terrace before getting some laundry going then finishing my Spenser novel. All satisfying.
I start condensing my shopping and manage to cut the bags about in half. More satisfaction.
Then out we go for lunch to fuel up before some target specific shopping. For the second half I’m mostly along for the ride, as my Christmas gift list is complete!!
On our way we spot some writing on a wall. It looks like maybe a poem, by Marie. Jason uses his phone to try to translate. Turns out to be a very angry poem—with lines something like: I want to like you, but I’m full of hate.
Marie had issues.
We decide on our usual piazza and enjoy a meal under cloudy skies. Kat orders her first pizza of the trip (she’s had samples), and wonders why she waited so long. Between ordering and eating, she takes Griffin off for his pre-lunch Stroller Adventure.
Another school field trip marches and sings its way by. They’re so cute!! And this must be a regular thing. Our waiter remembers us from our last visit, even what table we sat at prior. We must be memorable!
Some of those clouds drip a bit, but nothing major.
Kayla has her I Went To Italy And You Didn’t gifts to scout out for her brothers, and we have a handful of things to get at the market. I also want to buy BW a new pair of sunglasses as part of an anniversary gift—it’s coming right up.
He will deny this, but it is a TRUE FACT. Roughly 30 years ago—that’s three decades—I bought him a pair of Armani sunglasses for some occasion. He still has them. Feel free to state in the comments if you’ve also managed to hold onto a pair of sunglasses for three decades.
There is no prize but your own satisfaction and my sincere astonishment.
They’re still in pretty good shape—though one of the nose things is gone (could be fixed).
So the group hangs together for the first bit.
We find a pair he likes at the first stop. Armani again—the man is brand loyal. Now we’ll see if he can keep them for 30 years.
Wander on, and Kayla spies something she think Colt will enjoy, and we agree. Wander on, and surprisingly (because he’s tougher) she sees something Logan should enjoy, and we agree.
BW, Kat and Griffin have left the field, but we happy few keep going. Jason buys a Birth Of Venus puzzle for the second half of our trip. Fun! Kayla spies a shop with many cute little things. And there we find a #1 trophy for Griffin. At 3 Euro it’s no massive Pitti Palace urn but we hope he’ll like it.
Home again, and the trophy does make Griffin grin.
Foot up for awhile. It really does seem better. I won’t be racing with Griffin for awhile yet, but I do think better.
Griffin wants the TV—which means the Switch. Kat and Kayla accommodate, let him choose the games.
Baseball—he laughs heartily on outs and strikes. Boxing. POW! Tank battles—and this is entertaining to the point he all but busts a gut at every explosion, and can barely get out his: Try Again.
BW calls our contact for our next home to confirm all arrangements. We learn through her—what our housekeeper had told us (in Italian) that tomorrow is a holiday in Florence. A celebration of its patron saint, John The Baptist. And tomorrow night includes fireworks at the river. Expect a huge crowd.
We will skip the crowd and hope to catch some of the fireworks from our terrace.
We play, read, putz around until about seven then head out for dinner. Stroller adventures include Kat pretending to nearly run into parked bikes.
I really want the sea bass. Since it’s grilled, I imagine a fillet. I should’ve known, really it’s not the first time, and I should’ve known. It comes proudly on a plate, head and tail included. No, just can’t. The waiter cheerfully takes it away to remove said head and tail.
It’s lovely, and of course, too much. Big fish! But I can share some with BW.
Another most excellent meal. Kayla heads back with Kat and Griffin, and my guys and I wander back with a planned stop of gelato. I want a small cone, but end up with a medium. It’s so much. And so good. I manage about half of it on our walk home, and still don’t know how BW could finish his and the rest of mine.
Jason got a sensible small cup.
Hang out awhile, discuss tomorrow. Two o’clock tickets to the Academia.
I’m going to try a short cardio workout. My foot seems to do better when I move on it now, so we’ll see. Then it’s packing. Kayla and I will travel to our next destination with the luggage while the others head to the airport to pick up the two cars we’ve booked, then drive to meet us.
I expect we’ll head out to lunch before The David, see some of the holiday festivities and crowds on our last day in Florence. It’s been my third trip here, and I hope to come back again.
In today’s #randomkatness: hook and address editing.
Morning terrace time for me until our happy group’s ready to head out. Before we do, I walk in our Kat and our housekeeper discussing the dishwasher. This discussion is in Italian on the housekeeper’s part. It’s adorable to watch (even join in a little) as they communicate, or try, in two different languages. With some help from Google Translate on Kat’s phone.
Everyone’s cheerful about it, and somehow the gist of the issue gets across.
We part ways with Kat and Griffin as the rest of us aim for the Duomo. Lots of other people have the same idea, but the line’s not as long—plus it’s moving at a good pace.
It’s beautiful, the vivid colors in the stained glass windows, the elegance of marble, the towering ceilings. I imagine attending Mass there would be an experience. The smaller chapels on the sides are closed off to the public right now, and that’s a shame because I remember them as really lovely.
I love the look of the groupings of flickering candles, and have to hit BW up for a two Euro coin as I’ve forgotten my little change purse—again—so I can light one.
We leave the flickering light and quiet of the Duomo for the bold sun and crowds. Kayla missed breakfast, so why not think about lunch? Maybe a new place, new area. BW thinks of the area with the carousel, and that could be fun. A text to Kat to give her our direction, and I follow along, as I have no idea how to get where we’re going.
And here we are at the big piazza with its happy carousel and several restaurants to choose from. And here, almost as we arrive, are Kat and Griffin. We choose a big, open-air place and settle in. Our choice bustles with the lunch crowd, with family groups like ours. Kayla spies a huge calzone going by on a plate and wants one for her own. Pizza, pasta, wine, Fantas, water both still and sparkling.
Kayla’s calzone—just sauce and cheese for our vegetarian—is the biggest I’ve ever seen, and that lean, lanky girl does it justice. It’s sort of amazing. And oh, to have that metabolism!
We top off lunch with a trip on the carousel. We figure fifty-fifty that Griffin will go for it, but he does, and has a very happy ride with Mommy, with his cousin on a horse behind them.
As we start to wander back—some for a quick market trip—Kayla reminds me of a very specific shop where she has a very specific gift in mind, so we split off. I have complete confidence in her ability to get us to the shop, then get us home.
It’s not misplaced.
It’s fun to watch her shop as she always has a vision for what the recipient likes, will enjoy, and she finds just the thing.
And look here, another shop just next door. Platform Converse! In we go as this gives Nana a very specific gift for Christmas for her girl. I would also love a pair, but my toe will strongly object to the trying on process. Another time for me. So white platform Converse and a pair of pretty Nike’s will be tucked away in the One More Room until Christmas.
Kayla sweetly buys her Nana a raspberry gelato. And oh, my, my!
Home again where our gang is spread out through the flat. Foot up while I catch up on what’s happening in the world on my tablet. It’s mostly not good, so maybe I’ll crush some candy instead.
And maybe I’ll just stretch out here while Kat and Kayla (with Griffin an enthusiastic audience) go through many Mario games on the Switch. It’s a happy way to pass a couple hours. To add to the gaming adventure, Griffin likes to climb on the arm or back of the sofa then leap down on it. With sound effects.
Danger is his business.
This gives Nana palpitations, so she stops watching.
Griffin requests toast. Then more toast. Danger is also a hungry business.
Before long, it’s after seven and time to go out and find a spot for dinner. Continuing the danger theme Kat swerves and jiggles the stroller to entertain Griffin while we walk a narrow, empty street toward a piazza.
Danger Guy isn’t happy when we all settle down at a table. What kind of adventure is this??? DG must be on the move! So his partner gives Jason her order, and off they go.
Salads and soups—minestrone—pesto pasta, spaghetti bolognese, chicken parm-and some grilled chicken for the adventuring boy.
A breeze comes up, becomes a light wind. And that’s lovely for a solid, relaxing meal.
Now a day of Danger and Adventure has tired DG out. Bedtime, he says, hopefully. As someone who raised toddlers I find it amazing he’s not only willing, but hopeful to call it a day.
His parents take him off to make this happen while the rest of us linger a bit longer.
By the time we get back, Daddy’s finished his part of the nighttime ritual, and Kat’s not far behind. Danger Guy is down and out.
Kat sits and knits. She’s making knitted—soft yarn—breast inserts for women who’ve had mastectomies. [Ed note: for more info go to Knitted Knockers.]
Kayla’s using her phone to research and help plan a weekend birthday trip for her younger brother—Lego Land (Lego World?) in NY. Colt will be 12, and as she says, he never asks for anything. She Face Times him to make sure this is something he wants, so we all get to say hi.
Between FT and texts back and forth with their mom—and to Kayla’s boyfriend who’ll join them—the trip’s planned. The girl is good.
And now it’s bedtime even for those of us who try to avoid danger.
Quiet this morning as Griffin hasn’t yet joined me. It may be that he woke somewhere in the middle of the night and tried to talk his parents into a party. It happens.
Since cardio’s still off the table, I may try some mat work, then that morning terrace time.
Don’t know what, if anything, on the agenda for today. We’ll take it as it comes.
Since we don’t head out until about noon, our plan is: Duomo, lunch, shopping. Kat and Griffin will catch up with us at lunch as navigating Duomo crowds with a stroller and toddler seems unwise.
We’ve got a bright, hot day, and a pleasant if seriously crowded walk. I hadn’t taken Saturday into the equation, figuring for tourists every day is Saturday. But when we arrive at the Duomo, we find this is clearly false as the line to get in stretches, stretches, wraps and goes on.
Though it’s moving reasonably well, we decide to try on a weekday. I imagine with Covid, they’ve limited the access—only so many inside at a time. So lunch after a little shop wandering sounds good.
The intrepid Kat and the much-more-rested Griffin find us, no problem.
After last night’s feast, I opt for a salad, and it’s just the thing. It’s a lively outdoor spot under a canvas roof with misters whirling to beat the heat. I’m fine with the heat, but the misters are lovely. When I order a glass of wine, the waiter asks if I’m over 18–and tells BW he’s a lucky man.
Guess who’s going to get a very nice tip!
More wandering—it really is a pretty day—then gelato!
It’s the girls and Griffin for shopping time. We have purchases to pick up at the leather shop, and Kat has somehow remembered a shoe shop I really liked on our last visit—nine years, but she remembers. And I score some pretty red sandals while Kat scores another gift.
I’ve been steadily crossing off names on my Christmas list and feel I’ve done a good shopping job in that area. We poke here, poke there, and I now have targets for the rest of my list.
We wind our way back home for a lazy early evening, and decide to put our leftovers together for a dinner on our terrace. The always dependable Jason heads out to the market for a couple things, and Kat and I organize our smorgasbord. BW’s working on photos on the second floor, Kayla’s watching TicTok on her phone, and Griffin’s very entertained with videos on his IPad. As every toddler ever he can watch the same thing a dozen times with equal hilarity.
I enjoy he likes to share that hilarity and often join him so we can give each other amazed looks, echo each other’s WOWs! Or Oh Nos!
The whole gang joins in on getting plates, etc, and we lay out our spread. A little meat? You got it. Some pasta, no problem. Pizza’s right here. Plenty of salad and veg. There’s music playing somewhere, and that drifts up. Bells ring, dusk slides in.
A perfect little family meal.
Kat and Kayla deal with clean up, so I’ll have another glass of wine, enjoy some conversation with my guys, and amuse myself with Griffin.
Griffin decides to amuse himself with Kayla and challenges her to the evening race. Or it may be a chase tonight as Kat turns out to be his home base while the foyer stands as finish line. I join in for awhile. Then it’s back to the iPad for Griffin, Nana and Kayla where he clicks and swipes ten-twenty second previews with abandon.
His parents issue his One-More-Episode warning before bedtime. But he’s crafty and doesn’t settle on one, just click, swipe, laugh or Oh No! He does understand the rule, however, and when it’s bedtime, goes off without a fuss.
I’m not far behind him.
We’re heading out early (for us) today to explore the Pitti Palace and its amazing gardens. Fond memories here, and it’ll be nice to make new ones with Kayla and Griffin along.
After that, we’ll see what the day offers.
And now, a selection of photos that didn’t fit the narrative – Laura
And of course, some #randomkatness – which is more random? You decide.
Some of us pop awake, others stagger, but eventually we’re all up, and it’s time to roll out of here. Our first goal today is the Duomo. Lots of walking and window shopping along the way. I love the narrow streets, the cobblestones, the sun-washed colors of the buildings with their impressive doors.
Then those streets open up, and The Duomo dominates the world with its massive beauty. The white rise of it with its soft rose and green marble, the stunning detail work of carvings, the glorious red-roofed dome. And with the sky a perfect summer blue it’s just magic.
It’s closed to visitors today, but we walk around it, and we’ll go back. And for now we can just admire the glory of it, take in the spectacular gold doors of the Baptistry.
On we walk and admire the artists and their paintings lined up . Kayla chooses a beauty for a gift—a very good eye.
On we walk and walk—I’m having no luck so far in the gift department, but I’ll get there.
We want to head back to a place on another piazza where we had lunch on our last trip. We learn after this long walk they’ve erected a stadium—for traditional Italian soccer right beside it. This greatly hampers the view we remember—but the food doesn’t disappoint.
And, there’s gelato after. Strawberry for me today. Yum.
Kat takes Griffin back while the rest of the group walks—and walks—to the river and more glorious views. The water, the buildings, the rise of hills and the distant mountains. Kayla’s definitely getting a taste—in every way—of Florence.
Back we go for a little respite, and Kat sneaks out to pick up a gift—and spies a nearby restaurant for dinner—AND bless her, scores some Veuve for me! More Bellinis!
Kayla wants to tutor me on taking proper Instagram photos and has a vision. Down we go where she sits on the steps in front of our impressive door. But the light’s just wrong, and we both agree there, so we move down to the next impressive door.
I get an A plus from Kayla on my lesson! It helps my subject is so pretty.
A little terrace time, and it’s head out to dinner.
Kat also has a good eye, and the restaurant with its cheerful servers and outdoor seating under roof is perfect.
So is the food. And the wine. And the company.
It’s busy and lively and just fun.
Griffin and I both get spaghetti pomodoro, but I believe the boy out-ate me. He can pack in the pasta. Then there’s dolce—more mmmm. And complimentary lemoncello—BW and I are the only takers there.
We roll home, full to the gills.
But I work off a little of that lovely dinner racing with Griffin and Kayla.
And we all crash.
As I write this, Griffin runs down the hall from his room. A happy morning boy. BW’s been up to make coffee, and Kat’s up and dressed. I’d better gear up and get my workout on!
Not sure what the plan is for the day, but I’m determined to cross some names off my gift list.
And now I’m pleased to present everyone’s favorite feature: #randomkatness
Did she climb on a roof? Zoom in from afar? You decide. ~Laura
I love summer. I like the heat, the sun, the sudden wild storms, the bursting gardens. I love looking out my window and spotting a hummingbird at the feeder, or hovering over my flowers.
Just yesterday while I was deadheading roses, one of these little flying jewels hovered a foot away from me, watching—like: What’re you doing there? Then zipped over to the roses, fed on two or three before zipping up to a tree branch to rest a minute. Before doing it all again.
That’s a summer bright spot in so many ways to me.
I love being able to work all day, get my workout in, then pour myself a glass of wine and wander all around the gardens.
Too often on these happy journeys I rescue a plant Parker has inexplicably pulled out of a pot. And yes, I’ve tried everything. Hot sauce, cayenne, chili powder, dog repellent, etc, etc. He will not be deterred from this strange habit.
BW is building me benches so we can put the pots up higher on the back patio. I’ve already either done this, or tried to block off pots on the lower.
The deer got through all our efforts and munched on a good chunk of Black-Eyed Susans, but I can take it as I have multitudes—so many I plan to dig up twice as many next year as the massive amount I dug up and passed on or transferred this spring.
We’re also going to dig up a whole hell of a bunch of my yellow flags which have gone insane in the last couple of years. They’re crowding out one of my spirea, and blocking the water feature. I’ve got another place in mind for some, and am passing the rest to Jason and Kat who also have a place.
These babies like their feet wet, and since when I planted (a few!) of them a zillion years ago where we have an underground spring, they’ve grown to like it too much.
I’m also enjoying my new patio fountain. Several years ago we were given this great big white stone urn. It’s lovely, but we had no clue what to do with it. We’re just not great big white stone urn people. Then I discovered these solar powered disk things you can put in bird baths or other vessels.
So we did just that. Jason and BW hauled the big-ass (heavy!) urn out of the pool house and onto the lower patio. Filled it with water—and after we’d charged the solar thing, put it in.
We had our little gang up Friday night for pizza, and swimming after. It’s so great to be able to get together like this again, just spend an evening with family, watch the kids have fun.
Griffin also likes the gardens, and wandering (usually at warp speed) around. This weekend he discovered the bench under the huge Black Walnut tree, and spend a lot of time rolling the walnuts Kat would hand him off the bench. Then bouncing them off the end of the bench.
He makes his own fun.
I love spending time on Saturdays weeding my beds, talking to the flowers, deadheading faded blooms to encourage more. It’s not a chore for me, but a total Zen activity.
And I’m rewarded on those walks with wine most every evening.
I hope on this holiday weekend you’re able to—safely—gather with family and friends. And have something that offers you the easy joy my garden offers me.
I’m going to close with the ultimate in Random Katness. Those who followed the travelogue know BW found some buffalo fur in our yard (then Kat found more). Kat, in her Kat way devised a make-shift spinning wheel. (She actually has a real one at home.) She washed and dried the fur, spun it into yarn.
And she made this.
It now resides in our library, and will make me smile every time I see it.
Business day. We have a foundation meeting every quarter, and this one actually makes our spring session. Kat and Jason do the vast—I’m mean vast—bulk of the work. BW, Kayla and I vote on asks and discuss. Kayla also works on projects or finding them.
Griffin gives it up for a nap, and we get started. He’s up by the time we finish—these things take time—but we get it done. Now Jason and Kat will do the rest of the work.
Some packing and organizing. Two weeks is a long time for five adults and a toddler to spread out. There will be multiple Mom Checks of the entire house before we close the door.
But now it’s time to clean up for our last dinner.
We snag our usual pod, and Alaska John takes care of us. Horses graze in the field under sunny skies, and—for the moment—a warm breeze blows. Griffin takes off on an adventure with his parents switching off. He’s not much interested in dinner. Me either after some foundation meeting pizza. But it’s just lovely to sit out in the air, watch the boy, the horses, be with family.
It starts to cool, and we’ve still got gathering up and packing to do.
Back home, several of us are in or around the kitchen doing just that, and I happen to glance over as Griffin pulls open what was the cookie drawer. And pulls out—triumphantly, like Arthur pulling the sword from the stone—the 10-inch kitchen knife Kat sharpened. Housekeeping must have put it there during clean up.
I dive, grab the handle, surely shouted. Kat sees, dives, grabs. This boy is strong, and does his best to yank the knife back. I have an instant of terrible visions of blood and tragedy before we pry his fingers off—he’s even grabbed the blade.
Griffin keeps his fingers—no damage, no blood—and we put the knife way out of reach. It takes awhile for my heart to reach a level beat.
The last Montana Daddy Dance helps.
Cool this morning, and rain coming in. I expect we’ll take off in it—not my favorite thing. All packed up, and about time for those Mom Checks.
It’s been a great two weeks in a beautiful part of a beautiful state. A fun and happy time with family—and that’s so precious. We’ve packed up memories as well as our things, and can pull them out again any time at all.
And a kiss from Griffin to close the travelogue. ~Laura
Just a gorgeous day for a ride. We head out—sans Kat and Griffin—right after breakfast. I think it’s been about three years since I’ve been on a horse, and I’m looking forward to some time in the saddle.
Jenna’s our guide, and the woman who gave Kayla and Jason their fundamentals instruction picks our mounts. BW—the tall guy—gets Rio—a big, handsome blond. Kayla’s gets Indy, a chestnut, the same horse she did her lesson with. Jason draws a sweet-looking black called Oops.
A stallion got into the mare pen one night. Result: Oops.
I have another pretty black called Rowdy.
Up we go, one at a time so Jenna can adjust cinches and stirrups. And we start off on a day sunny and bright, pure blue sky, and neither too warm or too cool.
Our guide has the lead, followed by Rio, Indy, Rowdy, then Oops. Rio’s ready to go, sets a nice pace. Indy, however, just isn’t much into it, and Kayla has to work to get him to keep going. Rowdy makes it clear there’s an invisible horse between him and Indy.
Give that invisible horse some room!
Oops, however, is very into it and tailgates Rowdy—nose firmly planted to butt. After awhile of this, since Jenna told me Rowdy doesn’t much like being passed on the trail, and Jason’s having no luck convincing Oops to back off, I pull over, pause, let Oops go by.
Rowdy’s content to more or less plod—no problem for me, but at one point I urge him into a little trot to catch up.
Oops now has his nose in Indy’s butt, so Kayla lets him go by. He did consider passing Rio, but the big guy just gave him a look like: Seriously, bro? And he fell into his place and kept a respectful distance.
It’s just beautiful, and there’s nothing like seeing the forest and mountains on the back of a good horse. All the trees, the spread of lupine, the hills and peaks and green fields, all under that blue sky.
It’s just a lovely hour, and I secretly rename Rowdy as Zen because that’s how our ride together felt. He turns when I ask, stops, starts, backs up, very cooperative, and never once tries to sneak in a snack. He doesn’t hurry even when he spots the paddock.
We send some time thanking our horses and Jenna—and BW spots the adorable pony, Cookie. She actually turns her head and poses for the camera.
Kat sends Jason a picture, showing Griffin discovering the cookie drawer. LOL. Cookies are now up out of reach on the counter.
Back home for a little work, a little hang out, and producing our annual family panorama. Griffin gets busy tidying the lawn.
Since I skipped a workout, I take a walk under that big blue bowl of sky before changing for dinner.
A happy meal in our pod—Alaskan halibut—yes, I believe I will.
And ice cream.
Back in Scotland I gave Griffin his first real taste of ice cream—and he pretty much pulled the whole cone to his mouth. I haven’t had any luck tempting him with a spoonful this trip, but try again.
Okay, fine, but gimme the spoon. Oooh, yeah, good. And he comes back for more. At one point he’s having trouble digging in and keeping it on the spoon, so I take my spare, try to help. Great! I’ll take both spoons! Then the fork I substituted as my own spoon.
Oops, some fell on the floor. Well, waste not, want not.
Germ-opposed Kayla is completely against this. The rest of us laugh like loons.
Happy fam returns home, and Griffin is full of joy—and maybe a little high on ice cream. But he finally succumbs to the magic of the Daddy Dance.
Early to bed for most of us after a long, happy day.
Today’s our last in Montana. We’ll do a foundation meeting during nap time. I’ll do some packing so I’m not rushed in the morning. Workout done, Griffin and his dad are playing outside. I’ll have to go check out the day before we get into meeting mode.
Tomorrow’s—final—blog will likely be late in the evening as I’ll probably write it on the plane and send it off after we land.
The intrepid Kat is making yarn out of buffalo fur by washing it, drying it, then winding it on a Sharpie!
I am absolutely joined to her hip when the alien zombies attack.