Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Weekend News

We attended the wedding of an OU ultimate alumni this past weekend. Keith Jackson married Sarah Breedlove. KJ captained the men's team and was a key player a few years ago. Congratulations Keith and Sarah!

On Sunday, we made a surprise visit to Cleveland to see the Butlers. Kent went down to the lake at sunset and took some photos. This is the light house in Fairport Harbor. Although I think it is the old one and is a museum now.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More photos from Polignano al mare

I saw these pics in our album and I thought they were worth sharing. I mentioned the boys jumping off the cliffs in the other post, well here are a few photos from that afternoon.

Walking down to the sea. I like the Vespa!

Street performers are everywhere in Italy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nello and Mara

Jeff has adopted two cats since he's been in Italy, Nello and Mara. Nello was there last year and had won over our hearts with his sweet disposition and crazy antics. Mara is a fraidy cat and could barely tolerate any kind of affection. Therefore, Nello remains our fav.

Nello (the cool one)

Here he is reading a book. Yeah, he's smart.

Mara (the devil cat)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Polignano al mare

One Saturday afternoon we took a drive up to Polignano al Mare. This is my new favorite Italian city. It is beautiful, on the sea, and has these amazing cliffs. The city is built right out over the sea on these cliffs. We walked onto one of the few that isn't built on and people were eating lunch, catching some sun, and a few adventuresome boys were jumping off into the sea 40 feet below.

Here is a view of the city from this point.

The beach.

Notice the caves below. I want to snorkel in those caves!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our trip to the mountains

Here are some more pictures from the trip we took to Basilicata with Jeff.

This is an old castle on the sea. We had lunch here.

Flowers and mountains...ahhhhh.....

Street scene in Terranova where we spent the night.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We're Back!

In the states that is.

Here we are, back in O-hio. The house is still standing and the garden looks good, thanks to the neighbors, Courtney and Tony.

We have spent more time in airports in the last 3 days than I care to spend in a year. Four flights in 3 days, one of which over the Atlantic.

Oh well, time to get back to the grind. We'll post more pictures and stories soon, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Beach: A love affair with people watching, Frisbee and Bocce

Time at the beach, a love affair with people watching, frisbee and Bocce - Part I (Observations by Kent).

Sunday, we slept in after our late night affair.

Our mission today, with out a doubt, was to indulge ourselves one last time at the beach. Penna Grossa Beach and Natural Park, is the beach of choice among Bridisians. The beach is a narrow strip of sand that is protected by large looming sand dunes that overlook the sea. The dunes are fenced oft to beach patrons. Thus, they are dotted and covered with native grasses, shrubs and plants.

Lori and Jeff spent some time snorkeling and discovering marine life. While they were snorkeling, I went for a run on a beach access road. I managed to run out to a look-out point that was home to an old tower along with some WW-II bunkers. I squeezed in some speed-work on the way back to the beach and worked up a good heart-pounding sweat. The promise of a cool, refreshing and revitalizing dip in the sea awaited me. When I returned to the beach, I stopped at the wooden cat-walk to remove my running shoes and reminisced about a scene that I had witnessed at that some spot, just a few short days before.

On a previous run at the beach, upon completion, I witnessed a typical normal yet painstaking vignette. Among all of the chaos of bodies at the beach where the families hang out and frolic, A young parental couple was enjoying their time at the beach. They were lounging, chatting, and stealing a brief, tender moment while their children idyllically played in the sand near-by them. It was at that moment when "a fun day at the beach" for this family turned sour.

The two children, roughly ages 2 and 3 ½ were playing in the sand, making sand-castles and mud-pies. The female child, who appeared to be the younger of the two, did not like what her older brother was up too. She quickly became agitated. For at that moment, she chose to inform him that his presence, gracious acts of management, and feats of engineering were NO LONGER NEEDED or Wanted by her. She then proceeded to bite him in the arm, his closest appendage. She clamped down her jaw with force and tenacity. She locked on to her brother’s arm, with her menacing baby teeth. He writhed in agony, crying and paralyzed, unable to escape his baby sister’s terror chomp. This young boy sat there in utter pain, frozen in bewilderment and unable to move, until his parents, who were shocked out of their moment of tenderness, intervened. Finally, the 2 year old’s ‘gator chomp was released. The young boy grateful to be free glanced down to his arm to discover that YES, his baby sister broke the skin of his arm and "drew-first-blood". Again he was astonished, revisited with confusion and despair, as he looked up to his mother for solace and advice. The mother pointed to the sea and sent her son down to the magical healing waters of the Adriatic. He proceeded to follow her command, as he gingerly held his bleeding arm and limped down to the water. Meanwhile, their father reprimanded the innocent looking carnivorous blonde haired child. The young boy returned from his medicinal trip to sea, and gallantly resumed his place in the sand. He seemed to throw caution out the window, knowing that his parents were officiating, having thrown the "Red Card" at his baby sister. She, however, had her own agenda and was not going to be strayed....Yeah, she pouted a bit as she was reprimanded for tearing flesh out of her brother's arm...but in short-time she was playing in the sand with her little shovel....amicably with her brother.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Doors play Puglia Italy

Can an Italian cover band that plays The Doors actually sound legit? Interestingly enough, the answer is an emphatic, Yes.

This past weekend, Saturday night to be precise, Lori, Jeff and I accompanied Jeff’s posse of friends to an outdoor bar located in the countryside, near the coast. We got a late start and were up until 3AM....rocking-out to The Doors cover band. Upon our arrival the place seemed a little dead, but with our group of 20+ we managed to liven up the joint. The band definitely played up to us as we loudly sang along to the songs popularized by Classic Rock radio stations and throwback era movies which glamorized the 1960's. The band members played their roles well. The keyboardist was a skinny little guy with a head full of shaggy hair, denim jeans and Chuck-taylor Converse All-star shoes. He was animated and lively as he pounded away on the keyboard, seemingly content in his own little world. Conversely, the lead singer was machismo to the tilt, but not in an un-glamorous way. He was your typical tall, dark and handsome Italian type, who could croon with the best of them. He was sporting jeans, cowboy / rocker boots, and a white summer weight collared shirt with a big open chest V-neck to go along with his Jim Morrison wavy hair. His "stage presence" was eccentric but appropriate for the venue. Imagine a cross between a sober, sexually charged Jim Morrison and the swooning of Rat-Pack Era Dean Martin. The drummer and lead guitarist rounded out the group.

At first, Lori and I were speculative about whether or not these guys could pull it off. By the end of the night, they had won us over. The whole scene was bizarre. In between songs, the lead singer would speak to the crowd, all 35 of us, in Italian. Then return to singing and rocking-out in English. Additionally, there were some kids running around during the show and two teenager, hippy types (uncommon for teens around Brindisi who seem more geared towards soccer trends and ultra-current pop-culture-trends) who were sitting on a park bench perched directly in front of the speakers. The lead singer sounded exactly like Jim Morrison as he belted out "Light My Fire", "Roadhouse Blues" and others.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Da Beach

We have been going to the beach a lot lately. Enjoy these underwater pics from Jeff's camera.
Self portrait.
This is some kind of worm. Feather worm or something like that. If you know tell me.Octopus! Jeff has been dying to see an octopus and we chanced upon this one when the beach was empty last Monday. We almost didn't go out for a second snorkel adventure, but I thought, what the heck. Jeff didn't go out with me, so when I saw the octopus I had to swim back and tell him to get his camera. He found it the second time. He turns white when you agitate him but is naturally brown. This is sort of in between the two.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I have decided to make an entry about the amazing food we have been consuming. The few times we ate at restaurants have been good, but I have been venturesome in my own cooking.
Mom gave Jeff a cookbook by Jamie Oliver, who is known for his cooking show on the Travel Channel. Kent and I happened to see this guy’s program when we were down in Edisto Island with the Butlers and he was in Puglia (where we are now) cooking for the Italians. The show is quite good and I must recommend his books.
Some things that we tried:
Fried ricotta, very easy and yummy. It’s fried. It’s cheese. What more do you want. I can’t wait to make this back in the states.
Boiled greens. Not too exciting but yummy when dowsed in olive oil and a little salt. Plus it’s so frickin’ cheap and you’re getting your veggies.
Spaghetti with mussels. This was the real deal. After 4 years and 4 trips, I finally got the nerve to buy some mussels at the market and cook them up. (I fell in love with mussels the year I went to Glen Cove, NY for my great grandma's 100 birthday party. Mom, Nonna, Uncle Joe, Ruth and I went to an awesome Italian restaurant and order it up for the table. yummy.) It is super easy. And again super cheap (I bought 2 euros worth and it was enough to feed 5-6 people).
Kent's plate of spaghetti e cozze.

Francesco, the mussel man. He plays basketball too and may be coming to the United States to work at his uncle's Italian restaurant in Houston.More experimenting to come.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


We spent our fourth of July evening in the island town of Gallipoli. Although, it’s not technically an island anymore. Jeff said that over the years, they have filled in the sea between the mainland and the island to create a road and now it’s completely filled in. Nevertheless, you feel like you are on an island because the main road circles the old island and other road runs towards the middle.We arrived at sunset so Kent was in heaven, flashing his camera about and taking pictures. It was a nice stroll and the breeze was cool. Watching the sun set over the Ionian Sea was intense as the sun turned to red and sank into the water. We sauntered into town, are main search was a gelateria. This proved harder than one would think. Usually, they are on every street corner. After we successfully tackled that task, we walked on.
We came upon Frantoi Ipogei, a museum dedicated to the story of olive oil. This particular press was built into the basement of a building and was dated to the 1600's and was in operation for about 150 years. This particular oil that was made here, was used for lantern fuel more than cooking oil. Gallipoli was a huge exported of the oil until petroleum was discovered and made wide use. Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures because they would not allow it. But the entire space was carved out of the rock underground. It was most impressive.
Night photo of one of the many harbors.
Typical fishing boats.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Where should we go this weekend?

That was the question that we wrestled with as Lori, Jeff and I were making plans. Jeff informed us that he has had aspirations to visit the hill country of southern Italy. Lori and I had no objections and rather fancied the idea.

Geographically speaking, the region of Italy where we are visiting with Lori’s brother Jeff is mostly flat, on the sea, and agriculturally rich. The town of Brindisi, where Jeff lives and works, is interesting on many levels. Most notably, historically, is that Brindisi is the port town which the Roman empire utilized in their travels and conquests. The Via Appia, or the Appian Road known as the Mother of all Roads, led from Rome to Brindisi. The other day we were sitting at the historical columns atop a grande set of monumental steps, which denote and honor the Appian Road and overlook the bay leading to the sea, Jeff astutely noted, "just think, when the Romans sacked Greece, everything traveled through here, en-route to Rome". It is difficult to fathom...so much of western culture originates from Greece then Rome...and to speculate on the number of items ranging from art & sculpture, to wealth & the spoils of war, to philosophy and literature....all making their way from the boats coming into Brindisi, then by foot and cart Via Appia on to Rome.

The mountains of southern Italy along the "arch of the boot" in the region of Basilicata are unsuspecting and inspiring. We enjoyed our drive into the mountain region, in a haphazard way, winding around and stopping occasionally to enjoy the sights. Along the way, we stopped to look at a large man-made lake which we were informed is a water supply for Brindisi and Taranto. The lake was in a large valley, which was dammed and flooded. We walked along an old service road that had been washed out by excessive flooding. We could see the roofs of old stone buildings, nearly buried in her path, "bobbing" above the water line.

Our meanderings led us to the hill town of Terranova di Pollino, which sits at about 2, 750 feet above sea level. (Our travels from Brindisi began at sea level). We then happened or stumbled to the first B&B in town, the Picchio Nero Hotel, which was small and quaint. Our host was Giuseppe who preferred to be addressed as Pino. Pino was a short but medium framed man, about 5 feet 5 inches, mid-life in his late 40's or mid 50's with grey hair. He spoke English well and was quite hospitable. We settled in on Saturday afternoon / early evening, just in time to get our reservations in for dinner that night at the BB/Hotel. Pino noted that we needed to give him at least an hour notice because they need an hour to prepare and make the home-made pasta. YUMMMY! Our meal was delicious with many appetizers and the freshest ingredients.

The photo of me, Kent, was taken by Jeff at the summit of Mount Serra di Crispo, approximately 6,735 feet. We spent the afternoon hiking up and down the mountain. Upon the summit, we were rewarded with some amazing sights and a vista view of Mt. Pollino (7, 375 ft). Well worth the effort and time it took to ascend the mountain.

Monday, July 02, 2007

It was a cold and windy day...

So before went to Italy. Before we missed our flights and then trains, we were most happy in Ireland. Taking up some new sights in County Clare. Despite the cold, windy, rain, we enjoyed the Cliffs of Moher. This is truly an amazing piece of scenery. Intense cliffs to a raging sea. They no longer let you wander to the edge, as too many people were getting blown off. Now there is a wall and path you have to stay on. It’s probably better for human kind.
After seeing the Cliffs of Moher, we stopped at a roadside pub for a bowl of soup. Lori also fell to the pressure of tasting the best half pint of Guiness in Ireland (and the world for that matter). It’s all about the draft, you see (Pat O’Donohue, the proprietor says). A short line from the keg to the draft is most important. And the temperature, of course. It must be kept and served at the right temperature. The soup was excellent as well as the bread. Both were made that day by Pat’s grandmother. This was a true family business that went back 4 generations.
Next, we were off to the Burren. I could try to explain the sights but it’s best just to look at the pictures. The Burren is a national park now, however, the locals still use it for grazing as they have done for hundreds (maybe thousands of years). They know how to use the land but not destroy it. Something we could all learn from.
We settled for the night in Lisdoonvarna, a cute little town that has a match-making festival. So all you singles out there, plan a visit in September. You may find yourself with a nice Irish girl or boy.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Back in B-town

Our first morning in Brindisi was Friday, though it was not our first morning in Italy. On Thursday, we saw the sun rise in Bologna. My 300 euro mistake landed us there, no wait, my 300 euro mistake got us to Treviso near Venice and then we took a train to Bologna to catch another train to Brindisi. That midnight train was an hour and a half late, so we missed the transfer. That meant we had to wait until 9 am to catch the next train. The only consolation was that we now rode on the express train. It only stops every so often instead of in every town. The missed train, also meant we got to see Bologna come alive with the sun. We had breakfast at a coffee bar and admired some leaning towers. You may have thought that only Pisa had leaning towers, well, I am hear to tell you that Bologna is home to at least one as well. Jeff later informed us that the leading families of the time (15th century maybe?) would build towers and they would all try to out do each other making them bigger and bigger. Then they started to fall over and the practice was stopped. Good idea!

We met a nice gent on the train named Eugenio. He was a runner and recognized our physique as fellow runners. That and the Asics running shoes we had on. And so a 3 hour conversation began. He was a very genuine fellow and we had fun filling a piece of paper up with maps and drawings.

E. got off at Pescara and we quickly fell asleep. I would occasionally wake up and see familiar towns, Trani, Malfetta, Bari. Now I knew we were getting close. Once in Brindisi, we walked down to Jeff’s and he greeted us at the door. Good timing, as he just got home.