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Monday, January 16, 2017
More from Aulos
So I was looking for something for a wee tot last night and spotted a bottle labeled "Absinthe." I commented on it, because I thought it to be illegal. And in fact the Pastis, Pernod, etc., that I enjoy occasionally (Italian/French anise liqueurs) are supposedly things developed to replace Absinthe.
Jean got animated and showed me how to prepare a glass of absinthe. A small amount is poured through a sugar cube on a special little spoon with holes. Then water is poured through the same cube. It's is very like the aforementioned Pastis, etc., but turns green instead of yellow and has an earthier flavor. I guessed that maybe it has fennel in it instead of anise. A close look at the ingredients revealed that my taste buds are still good! It was rumored to have hallucinogenic qualities and was outlawed in the early 20th century (Hemingway and the rest of the ex-pats in Paris loved the stuff). But, happy to report it's back. They say (on the Interweb) that the suspect component is in such small amounts that it's harmless.
Dinner that evening included "Raclette," which is strong cheese melted in little trays (my empty one is in the foreground) on a special devide, a sort of table-top broiler. It is poured over boiled new potatoes and is delicious. A sort of broiled fondue.
One reason I love France is that paté is everywhere, even in the tiny market in LeCabannes, where Sheryl and I walked yesterday before the snow started flying.
No runs, sadly.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Viva la France!
This is the "before" picture at the "King's Cake" fete in the village of Aulos, which also is the site of my cousin Sheryl's mountain home. This is somehow related to the Epiphany, and the custom is observed in other places as well. These nice cakes have in them (some of them) a little ceramic thing that, if your piece of cake contains it, entitles you to wear the king's crown. It's the gifts of the magi, or somesuch.
Anyway, this was at a community hall in Aulos and was attended by about 25 people. In addition to 10 cakes (or so), there were at least a dozen bottles of Champagne or the local champagne-style wine. Fun afternoon.
Here's the libation selection. The one at left is the local one.
This is the little figure that Sheryl "won" in her piece of cake. It resulted in her being among those "crowned" (see next picture).
That's "queen Sheryl" at left; at right is her companion, Jean, who unfortunately is battling bronchitis.
This may be Jean's first selfie. He's a great guy who, unfortunately for me, speaks virtually no English.
Here's how the table full of cakes and wine looked after a couple of hours.
I'm not sure why I think so, but the fellow in the center is the most Gallic-looking person I think I've ever seen outside a Disney cartoon. Turns out he's not well known in the community either, so he was kind of shy and just hanging around.
Sunday, January 08, 2017
Walking and writing
My hosts on a beautiful but chilly Friday. They're standing next to an unusual little gorge in the Pesa. I hadn't been by it before, but it turns out that my turnaround spot last time I ran (a couple of days earlier) was well over half of the stretch of trail from Cerbaia to Ponte Rotto, a bar/restaurant about 8km to the east.
Beautiful and exemplary row of cypress trees along the Val di Pesa trail. I realized late last week that I've been inadvertently misspelling cypress like the country, Cyprus. I actually knew better and spotted it myself. Ah well.
Finished a big block of my writing project today, and I'll be forging ahead later.
still 0; 4; 4; 4
Sunday, January 01, 2017
Happy New Year! Back on the trail
These stately (but leafless in winter) trees are engulfed in evergreen vines. Odd shapes along the Pesa river near Carlo's house.
I took more than a week off while we went to Belgium for Christmas. It was fun and beautiful, and I could post a bunch of photos here, but I think most of the people (all five of you) who look at this blog have already seen them, either on Fb or via email.
It was a beautiful morning, approaching 50 and sunny when I headed out, but the wind changed and it's colder now.
I went farther than I've gone yet on the trail, to this turnaround spot. This is looking north away from the river.
Italians in the countryside appear to have the same respect for restriction signs as Montanans. This was lying in the dirt along the trail.
A fresh start:
4; 4; 4; 4
Last year's total was 206, which is OK considering that I blew up my knee on April 6 and didn't get out again until some very slow shuffles in Virginia in November.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Skipped running again today, though it was gorgeous out, as this sunset over the Val di Pesa attests. Did sit in the sun for an hour or so.
This old beauty (14th century?) has been empty for some time. A Tuscany fixer-upper. Wonder what the Property Brothers would do with it? It's not far from Carlo's house.
This is lifelong chum of Carlo's Francesco's clever book, now in it second printing. It pairs famous athletes with their favorite recipes. Fun idea.
0; 13.5; 16.5; 206
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Skipped a couple
The social whirl — lunch with Algimiro and other holiday-ish engagements — kept me off the trail this weekend, but not away from food. This is a terrine of duck ... it had foie gras in the name, but was not paté. The little bowl is mango chutney. Caffé Desiderio.
We also did some shopping (well I tagged along), including at this place that sells Freitag gear, which is bags, packs, etc., made out of recycled pieces of the sides of semitrailers. Very trendy (I'm told) and spendy (I saw for myself). The little backpacks at the bottom (yellow and blue) exceeded 200€!
Fiorentina soccer tonight.
0; 13.5; 16.5; 206
Friday, December 16, 2016
Inching farther ...
Carlo assures me that this weather is nigh on unprecedented, but usual or not I'm not complaining. I've been running daily in shorts and a long-sleeved wicking T-shirt, and I've been relaxing afterward on a chaise next to the pool, catching a few rays on my noggin.
My route today was the same as it has been, but in the allotted time (25 minutes out) I'm getting farther and farther up the trail. I'm not pushing it, but I could sense that what I was doing today was more like running than my usual shuffling. This is my newest turnaround point; a few more days of similar expansion and I'll feel secure in calling this a four-mile run.
I finally figured out exactly where Carlo's house sits in relation to the trail, which starts a mile or so down the hill from his house, in the village of Cerbaia. I was aware that the route takes me well past the house, but I couldn't figure it out with much specificity. If you look carefully at the horizon just left of center, you can see a bell tower. It's next to a small, old church, which is next door to Carlo's house. Now if you follow along the horizon to the right from the bell tower, you'll see a matched pair of cyprus trees. They flank the gate to the house, which is just a little to the right of the trees from this perspective. Not visible from there, I think.
This may be the most prominent "landmark" on this route, a little ring of stones. No significance; doesn't even look as if anyone camps here. I've seen older gentlemen sitting on these or other, similar stones scattered along the route, just catching breath or resting.
3.5; 13.5; 16.5; 206