On a Beach Walk: No. 6

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I look out across the seemingly endless surface of water with no land in sight other than the sand in the visual periphery where I stand. No wonder the ancient people thought edges were at the end. Edges that sunrises and sunsets reinforce.

To think that this gulf is small compared to the seas – and the oh my of the seas being specks compared to the oceans. The amount of water on our planet is unimaginable – besides, most people don’t realize the bigness of one million – let alone millions, billions, trillions, and beyond.

All that sea water, plus the water of rivers, streams, lakes ponds, puddles, pools, glaciers, ice, and even underground – let alone in the clouds collecting as sponges before releasing the water as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

All that water that make our home blue – that refreshing blue from space – that pale blue dot in the greater cosmos that is an oasis in the vast desert of space. Yes, this is our home that I walk – a walk where I think as the water refreshes my feet.

On an Oh-My Meal

For a family gathering near the end of our trip to Italy this past October, my aunt wanted to take the entire family out to dinner. Well, actually a Sunday afternoon meal. Little did we know what to expect.

We drove about 45 minutes. Once we arrived I told my oldest cousin (in gist) that we passed 342 restaurants along the way, but they were closed – so this was the first one we could find that was open.

With the final part of the road being many twist and turns up a mountain, I knew that those who travel this road on this day must be going to the restaurant. In the image of the map, those familiar with Lucca (region of Tuscany) will see it toward the bottom. The restaurant is marked by the location icon.

The town is Fiano di Pescaglia, a small village with a population of less than 1,000 but a history that goes back to 847. On this day, the action centered on Ristorante da Valentino.

Note: I didn’t take any pictures of the meal, so you will have to rely on my descriptions. However, I want you to think about two important questions: How much did the meal cost (per person)? How long were we there?

RistoranteValentino

When entering the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the number of people throughout the numerous sections of this casual place. We entered one of the small rooms that had 3 other groups already seated. There was our table – actually several tables arranged end-to-end with 9 settings and a large bottle of red wine located at each end.

Each of us first received a small plate of appetizers: a slice of lunchmeat (Mortadella), fried polenta, 5-6 olives, and cheese.

Later, the server came by with a large bowl of mushroom risotto, and served a comfortable portion to each of us … returning after a reasonable time with a question: Would you like more? It was good, so both my wife and I accepted the offer.

Next, the server returned with a large bowl of tagliatelli in a wild boar sauce. Oh my, that was outstanding … and I can’t believe my wife ate it as she’s typically not accepting of dietary oddities. Surprisingly, I said no to the “Would you like more” question.

Later, the server returned with rolled lasagna that contained a filling of cheese and spinach with a different red sauce – yes, followed with “Would you like more” on which I passed.

Up next from the server with the big bowl was ravioli with a meat filling and a different red sauce that went into the same bowl that I’ve been using since the risotto. Of course, “Would you like more?” would follow later … I couldn’t pass on a second helping of this delight.

Attendants removed the well-used bowl, so the plate was now ready for the arrival of the next course: a platter of meat for each end of the table – small pieces of chicken, ribs, beef, lamb, and rabbit. The meats were especially tasty.

Before finishing the meat, the server made space at each end of the table for a platter of french fries and a platter with fried mushrooms and fried cauliflower.

Once it was obvious we were finished with this course, a small plate of salad appeared – an odd place as we Americans are used to eating salads early to prepare the way for the meal. But in this case, the salad was readying us for dessert!

The server delivered a platter of of variety of desserts for each end of the table. Pies, tarts, and cakes provided a delightful end to the meal.

Before describing the meal, I asked two questions: How long were we there? How much did it cost?

Sometime during this culinary extravaganza, I walked around the restaurant wondering about the number of people being served – and it was 165-190! Regarding the meal, my wife and I both agree that we were not stuffed until the desserts (we must have suddenly ran out of inner digestive space).

Finishing the 22 Euro ($24) meal 4 hours after starting, then we walked further uphill to the church … and the beautiful view of the valley.

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If you ever in this area of northwestern Tuscany near Lucca on a Sunday, I suggest you make a reservation at Ristorante da Valentino, then find your way to Fiano di Pescaglia.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 330

Last week I finished leading a short (2-week) Sunday school class titled The Crossroad between Science and Religion. Two sessions are only enough time to introduce the topic – or as I said during the first class, “This week is the introduction to the Preface.” Nonetheless, I think the sessions gave attendees something to ponder.

I’ve been working on a slideshow that will accompany a handbell piece on Easter Sunday. The director loved it, so now it’s down to the fine tuning. I hope to find someone to take a video with the images and the music so we can post it on YouTube. If that happens, I’ll post it here.

March Madness continues as this weekend’s round will dwindle from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to the Final Four. One local team remains (Xavier), so good luck Muskies. On the downside, my Bearcats ran into an explosive UCLA team that is very good.

This week we got the news of the passing of TV personality and producer Chuck Barris at age 87. I thought The Gong Show was a hoot – especially The Unknown Comic and Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

Many readers enjoyed meeting Fiona. Big news this week as she reached 100 pounds (45 kg).

We were happy with the Season 23 debut of Dancing with the Stars. Looks like a strong crop of competitors this time.

My wife says “Thanks” for last week’s birthday wishes!

No Saturday post this weekend.

From what I saw during the confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch impressed me. Sure he made statements I with which I disagreed. Yes, he followed the tradition dancing around questions. Too bad these hearings focus on political theater with the partisans preferring a court favoring their view over a genuine court for all Americans. Nonetheless, I stand against nominees in the name of playing “Last Judge Standing.”

The American Health Care Act (the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act) will eventually pass Congress because of the self-imposed pressure on Republicans.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The FBI not finding wiretapping evidence
North Korea’s failed rocket launch
People thinking Viking helmets had horns
Some professional basketball players believing in a flat earth
Dysfunction among Republicans

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for home repairs. http://www.theonion.com/infographic/home-repair-tips-55167

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mugger Chooses Man Whistling ‘Come On Eileen’
Newly discovered journal entries reveal Sacagawea’s repeated attempts to ditch Lewis and Clark
Toddler looking for sensible mid-ranged tricycle
God seeking to crack down on souls smuggling drugs into heaven
Part of man wonders what it would be like to fall through floor into downstairs apartment
Styrofoam cup from Omaha excited to finally see Pacific Ocean

Interesting Reads
The mind and false beliefs
Myths about mammals and their swimming abilities
A brief guide to the French elections
Partisanship, ideology, and generation gaps
A biography of an early patriot: Patrick Henry
(Video) Kinky snail sex
(Photos) Architectural awards for future projects

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 1984 hit … and oh I had a crush on this lady. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Beach Walk: No. 5

 

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I am not a sheller, but they form a line as to say “Walk this way.” I am not a sheller but I give them the quick once-over as I walk. Even though I am not on a stroll or a hunt, sometimes one catches my eye – a design or a color – a fragment or a whole – small, medium, or large – so I stop to look as the water continues to refresh my feet.

I am not a sheller, but their colors begin to grab me as I pass. The colors of the rainbow they are not, but that spectrum occasionally shows itself on the inner surface if the light is right. Most of the outer colors are ranges of brown and gray. Sometimes the brown combine with red to provide orange – but sometimes the red appears. Some grays with so little white that they are black – yet a few with so little black they are white – let alone when they combine in different arrangements of colors in bands, streaks, or blotches.

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The colors tempt me to create my own spectrum with shells – yet I resist by keeping my steady pace – but over time, I cave in to my urge.

Colors that can signify a species or possibly an age – even a variation of colors within a species just as the colors of human hair differs from person to person.  But the more I walk, the more the colors and designs affect me. Oh the diversity of life!

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I am not a sheller, but as I walk its defined line on the sand, I notice the ridges and grooves. Some are quite pronounced, yet others are so slight that we think the surface is smooth – at least until our light touch moves across the surface. Pattern can be vertical, horizontal, or both – and even random – yet the frequency of these pronouncements of nature can be many or few.

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So many patterns that must signify different species within the a beautiful living world. Patterns and colors that are present for a reason that are part of the adaptations and variations in the intricate web of life.

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Wonder fills the nature around us in our slice of creation – even in the half-mooned shells of calcium carbonate found along the sand as one walks … but only if one takes the time to look as they walk and refresh the feet.

On a Special Local Kid

As I have noted on the last two mural posts, Resa (@ Graffiti Lux and Murals) is sponsoring her own Kid’s month. Although she has mainly featured murals, the idea just came to me that Cincinnati is home to a very special kid and has turned into a local celebrity during her short life.

She was born prematurely on January 24th and has required special care ever since. As a matter of fact, her care team is attempting to do something that has never been done.

Meet Fiona, the baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. She was born 6 weeks early at 25 pounds (11.4 kg) and 29 pounds (13.1 kg) underweight.

Photo by Cincinnati Zoo

Her special care has involved being on oxygen, receiving a special milk, and more. Besides, baby hippos nurse underwater. Keep in mind that the zoo is flying blind on this because raising a premature hippo hasn’t been done before.

Here are her first steps.

Not only is Fiona’s progress news here, she has a global following. Below is the latest article about her and a link to the Cincinnati Zoo blog to follow her progress.

Like any kid, Fiona loves to play in water.

On Toys for Kids

Can you name of these toy characters? Better yet did you have any of them or purchase any of these for kids?

I’m confident you identified the Star Wars characters as C-3PO, R2D2, Yoda, and the X-Wing fighter flown by the Rebel Alliance. Did you get Strawberry Shortcake holding the Spirograph wheel and the bear she made from Play-Doh? Cheer Bear (one of the original Care Bears)? Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (from Ghostbusters) on Batman’s back?

Surely you got Mr. Potato Head! But, did you recognize The Purple Pieman feeding a pie from the Easy Bake Oven to the T-Rex from Jurassic Park? The fury animal from the Littlest Pet Shop in the Ghostbusters’ vehicle? The character and car from M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand)?

This ArtWorks mural – Cincinnati’s Toy Heritage – located at 23 West Court Street in downtown Cincinnati – is a tribute to Kenner Toys – a Cincinnati-based company formed in 1947.

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ArtWorks is a unique non-profit organization that employs and trains local youth to create art in the community. To date, ArtWorks is responsible for over 100 murals throughout Cincinnati – which many are in the main part of the city.

This post is for Resa, Toronto’s lady of style who also captures street art in Toronto and Winnipeg as a hobby. Resa recently declared March as Kid’s Month on her blog.

ArtWorksSign

 

 

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 329

This past week has been cold in Cincinnati and across the eastern half of the country. At least that big snowstorm missed us.

Last weekend our handbell choir attended a regional festival with almost 400 ringers. The event starts late afternoon Friday and goes until late afternoon Saturday. Given so much time there, a time change, and our prepared song for church not quite ready, our director cancelled us playing on Sunday – which was a big relief to all of us. We will continue to work on the piece as we will try to work it into a service before we break for the summer.

Because we wanted to see it before it closes sometime in April, this week we visited the Vikings: Beyond the Legend travelling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Thumbs up – but I don’t know the exhibits future schedule. I didn’t know they spoke Vikinese, invented Vicodin, and knew to blame Obama. Here’s the link to the Cincinnati exhibit; plus, I hope to post about it in the future.

Have you considered banana pancakes for your weekend? Watch to see what I mean.

At the last weekend’s festival, a guest choir played a concert where I heard this beautiful piece of a popular song that you probably know. I invite you to listen.

My wife gets to celebrate her birthday on a holiday – and St. Patrick’s Day is here. Happy Birthday!

Some readers enjoyed the timeline link from The Atlantic. In honor of my wife’s birthday, here’s the link again.

Reminder: Sunday is Buzzard Day – the day the buzzards return to Hinckley.

I will have a Saturday post – which will be one for Resa’s month-long dedication to kids.

Not only do I want answers to the charges of wiretapping at Trump Tower, I want some heads to roll – whomever it may be.

Predictable statements from the White House and each political party followed the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The interpretations are different enough causing one to wonder if they read the same report. Then again, they love to make a nonpartisan report partisan. In their attempt to appease the partisans, I say “Happy cherry picking, jackasses.”

Readings about the health care bill

One would think that our elected officials could find some common group to solve a problem – but that would require listening, not walking with tugging sacred cows, thinking outside the box, and seeking for the common good of constituents. Yep – old colloquialism “fat chance” is very applicable.

Did anyone notice there is a new party-of-no in town?

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
A stretch of cold weather after a very mild winter
The Congressional Budget Office being nonpartisan
Fig tree problems in Italy
Behavior of TSA agents
My attitude toward our politicians

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a public service by providing tips to keep your personal information secure.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nation Leery Of Very Odd Little Boy
Area man thinks he’s better than uneducated wife beater
Police satisfied when local drunk man assures them there is no problem
Happily married, 100 percent heterosexual father of three had that doggone dream again
Scientists discover existence of Homo Sapien subspecies which enjoys and is influenced by Red Bull ads

Interesting Reads
Issues holding back driverless cars
FDR’s floating White House
Police chiefs, sanctuary cities, and decreasing crime
Brain activity and those who don’t like music
Debunking 9 myths about Hinduism
(Photo essay) Geometry and architecture
(Photos with brief descriptions) The beauty of Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains

This past Wednesday was the Ides of March, so this is the only way to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.