Monthly Archives: July 2008

Games

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Jessica and I moved the rest of her things on Saturday.  We got a late start because John needed to finish fixing the brakes on her car.  He had to wait on parts that had been ordered ahead of time.  When we got to Athens, Jessica’s roommate and her boyfriend, and Jonathan helped carry her belongings into her place.  Chrissie and Ian are very nice people and I think Jessica and Chrissie will get along well.  Around midnight, Bubba’s friend, Andrew, came to visit.  He was on his way to the airport for a 6:00 a.m. flight, so he stayed until about 3:00 a.m.  Jessica taught us a new card game she learned in Italy called “Scopa”.  Jonathan brought a housewarming gift he’d picked up at Goodwill – Foot Chargers (made in 1987)!

Andrew with the "Foot Chargers"

Andrew with the "Foot Chargers"

We had a fun,

Bubba, with the foot chargers

Bubba, with the foot chargers' slippers

silly time

Jessica tried out the foot chargers

Jessica tried out the foot chargers

until Jessica and I could no longer stay awake!

On Sunday, Jessica and I went to church, then went to WalMart to buy some food and get a few things for the apartment, then we unpacked all of her things.  I planned to start for home so I could get through Pittsburgh before dark, but I left too late.  I think I’ve finally conquered my fear of driving through the tunnels and the fast lane changes with all the driving I’ve done in Pittsburgh this past week!

I spent most of today and this evening at Amy’s house.

Becca, Emily, Megan, and Abby

Becca, Emily, Megan, and Abby

The kids enjoyed the slip-n-slide,

Becca

Becca

hula hoops,

Abby

Abby

Emily

the swing set, helped cook, and played with Barbies in the house.

Employee Appreciation Day

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Yesterday was the annual employee appreciation day at Acme Machine so John, Jessica and I went.  They always have a nice lunch of hot sausage, hot dogs, and a lot more, with ice cream for dessert.  After we eat, we are allowed to walk through the plant and see where Jeremy works.  This was Jessica’s first visit to Acme, so she got the full tour.

Peyton, as always, brought a car with him.

Peyton likes to turn the wheel on the machine Daddy uses.

Here’s Jeremy at his machine.

When we left, we took Lois and Peyton home so Peyton could change his clothes to come to our house to spend some time with Jessica.  We got to see some of Peyton’s artwork in the bathroom!

John and Jessica were building a bookcase for her new apartment so Peyton decided he wanted to build a “Mentro” – his word for “Metro” – John’s car.  John ended up cutting out a Hummer instead, so I helped Peyton paint it red.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of it – I was too busy trying NOT to get paint all over me!

Trip to Athens

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On Tuesday, John, Jessica, and I took some of Jessica’s things (bed, couch, desk, clothes, etc) to her new apartment in Athens.  Since she didn’t have a key, and her roommate was in Johnstown, we decided to go there to get the key.  We left home early (6:30 – 7:00), and Jessica was going to call her roommate around 9:00 a.m.  No answer.  We drove on to Athens – after going HOURS out of the way hoping to get the key.  We then stopped in Parkersburg and picked up Jonathan so he could see Jessica for the first time in six months and so he could help with the moving.

We got to Jessica’s apartment after noon, and John unloaded his car, then he took off for Columbus.  The secretary to the landlord had left the apartment unlocked, so we were able to unload everything and put it in place.  Her place is very nice!

Jessica, in front of her new apartment

Jessica, in front of her new apartment

It’s a two bedroom townhouse with one bathroom and lots of closets and storage.  Jessica’s room has two closets – one with hanging space and the other is more for storage.

Jessica's room

Jessica's room

After unpacking, we shut all the windows and made sure the doors were locked, then we got into the van so we could go get something to eat.  Jessica suddenly realized she didn’t have her purse!  It was sitting on the counter in her new kitchen!

Notice the red purse on the counter!

Notice the red purse on the counter!

She went over to the office, which was closed, to get the phone number for the secretary and had to leave a message.  Luckily, the lady called a few minutes later and said the maintenance man would let us in.  She also said that in the future, Jessica should know that if the she had to come into town for something like this, there would be a $20 fee!  After Jessica got her purse, we drove to the downtown area of Athens and ate at Chipotles, then we walked around and went into some nice shops and the college bookstore.  Next, we walked around on the campus a little until we found a map that showed us where the medical college is.  Since it was a few blocks away and the weather was very hot and humid, we drove to the medical campus and looked around there.

We took Bubba back to his apartment,

The back entrance to Bubba's apartment

The back entrance to Bubba's apartment

sat and talked with him and Nick,

Nick and Jessica, in the basement.  Notice Jonathan's motorcycle in the background.

Nick and Jessica, in the basement. Notice Jonathan's motorcycle in the background.

and played with Foster before we left for home.

Bubba and Foster

Bubba and Foster

Bubba’s place is bigger than Jessica’s and is nice, too.  It will be great for Jessica and Jonathan to be living only 45 minutes away from each other.  I hope they get to spend a lot of time together!

John’s trip to Columbus turned out well for him.  While he was riding his bicycle on GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) in June, he had a flat tire.  One of the vendors “fixed” the tire, and it blew out again and ruined the rim.  The vendor said he would take it back to his shop in Columbus and then would mail the rim to John.  John called him a couple times in the past month and was told the guy was “working on it last night and would get it sent out to him tomorrow”.  Since it had been a month, and we hadn’t received the wheel yet, John decided to show up at the shop and get the wheel – finished or not.  I would imagine the vendor was surprised/embarrassed to see John and told him he’d have the wheel finished in 1 1/2 hours.  John went to visit Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Weldon and had a great time!  When he went back to the bike shop, he was able to get his finished wheel and left for home.

Coming Home!

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This title can be taken two ways – I’m writing about the end of my Italian trip and about Jessica’s coming home.  She arrived home at around 12:15 a.m. this morning (Sunday) after being on three flights that were each delayed!  It was so good to see her, even though I saw her only a month ago.  She looks great, nicely tanned, and weighs 15 pounds less than when she went to Italy, thanks to all the walking she’s done and the good, healthy food.  She’s understandably very tired, having left Torino at about 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning (1:00 a.m. EDT) and not getting home to her bed until 3:00 a.m. (which would be 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning – Torino time).  She said she didn’t get much sleep for two days before her trip, and she hasn’t had much sleep yet.  Brian and I went to Pittsburgh to pick her up.

Back to my trip – Thursday, June 19th.  Jessica and I met Maurizio for coffee (water for me).  He’s a good friend of hers that she met the first night she was in Torino.  He is a photographer and a couch surfer – travelers can spend the night on his couch.  I just found out today that he owns a Fiat Spider (a 2-seater sports car).  I teased Jessica that I want to go back to Italy so I can drive it!

Jessica and Mauritzio

Jessica and Maurizio

After our visit, I went to work with Jessica and said goodbye to the boys.

Filippo, Jessica, and Franchy

Filippo, Jessica, and Franchy

Then I walked back to Jessica’s apartment to organize and pack my things.  Later, I got up enough nerve to leave the apartment by myself, took some pictures of her place,

The towel marks Jessica's apartment

The towel marks Jessica's apartment

walked a few blocks and did some shopping.

Friday, June 20th.  I was very nervous and afraid that Jessica and I would oversleep, but we didn’t.  We had to leave her place by about 4:20 a.m. so we could be on the 4:59 a.m. train to Milan.  We rode to the train station in a cab (the only car I rode in the entire time I was overseas) because it was too early for the buses to run.  We got to Milan on time and I got to my flight with no problems at all.  I was sad leaving Jessica, but I knew I’d see her in a month.  On my flight to Philadelphia, we flew over the Alps,

the Alps

the Alps

the Mediterranean Sea, and Spain,

Spain

Spain

and I took lots more pictures!  When I got to Philadelphia, I was surprised at all the security and customs checks I had to endure.  I think I had to show my passport at least 4 times, and had to take off my shoes and go through a security checkpoint, even though I had just come from the plane from Milan!  I had to pick up my luggage before going through customs.  I guess it was in case they wanted to check my suitcases, but they barely looked over the paper I had filled out detailing what I had bought in Italy.  I did make one big mistake – on the flight, they had announced that all the US Airways Republic flights take off from gate F which was accessed by a shuttle or a 20 minute walk.  I decided to walk, because I wanted to stretch my legs, until I came to an area where the sign said I had to take the shuttle unless I wanted to go through security again.  I got on the shuttle, which was outside and didn’t look very secure because it was in a parking lot.  When I got to gate F, I finally looked at the departure board, and found out my flight was taking off from gate B!  I had to get back on the shuttle to go back where I had started!  I’m glad I had a 3 1/2 hour layover, because of all the running around I did.  I got back to Pittsburgh with no trouble, and was met by Jeremy, Lois, and Peyton.  Peyton had his bicycle in the back of their van and wanted to ride it around in the parking garage.

Peyton, on his bike, in the parking garage

Peyton, on his bike, in the parking garage

It was a great trip, but it was also great to get home!

Paris

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On Monday, June 16th, Jessica and I took a train from Torino to Paris.  After finding our hostel, carrying our bags up the 74 steps to our double bed room with the private bath (yeah!), we went exploring.  We walked around the outside of the Louvre, but didn’t go inside because it was too late in the day.  We crossed the Seine and walked around the area of Notre Dame, and took lots of pictures.

At the Louvre

At the Louvre

The next morning, we went to the Eiffel Tower and rode the elevator to the top.  The views of Paris were fantastic!

A view from the Eiffel Tower

A view from the Eiffel Tower

That afternoon, we took a 3 1/2 hour walking tour of Paris that was supposed to show us all the best sights.  I wondered how we were supposed to accomplish that, and found out we didn’t exactly go TO each sight.  Some of them were seen from a distance, but we learned a lot of good information from our guide, an American named Brock.  We were in a small group of only six people which made it possible to ask as many questions as we wanted, so it was enjoyable.  After the tour, we were close to the Arc de Triomphe,

Proof we were there!

Proof we were there!

so we walked along the Champs Elysees to the Arc.

the Arc

the Arc

We went into one very expensive store and looked around at luggage and bags, under the very watchful eye of the staff!  Then we took the Metro to Monte Mart to see Sacre Coeur, and more great views of Paris.  We stayed there until dark because Jessica said we had to see the city at night.

Wednesday morning, we went to D’Orsay, an art museum that our guide, Brock, said had nice art and much smaller crowds than the Louvre.  The 5th floor had a great display of the Impressionists.  I took pictures of the pictures – about 250 of them! 

When we left there, we went to the train station and checked the board for our gate.  We couldn’t find the listing for our train anywhere!  Jessica looked at our tickets and discovered we were at the WRONG train station!  Luckily, we had allowed plenty of time and we were able to get to the correct station on time.

A couple weeks ago, I overheard a woman telling her granddaughter about visiting foreign countries, so I just had to tell her I had recently been to Italy, Paris, and Switzerland.  The woman told me about her experience in Paris.  She said that after she got off the metro, she couldn’t find her way out to the street.  Someone finally told her to look for the signs that said “Sortie” – exit.  When I arrived in Italy, I had seen signs that said “Uscite” and somehow thought that meant people from US Airways were supposed to follow those signs.  It’s a misconception that EVERYONE in foreign countries speaks English – they don’t – and the signs don’t have English on them either!

More about my trip to Italy

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On Friday, June 13th, Jessica and I got up early and took the train to Florence (Firenze).  We did lots of shopping and got some souvenirs.  I got to visit a nice yarn shop and bought some yarn to make a shawl and a scarf for Jessica.

Jessica, in Florence

Jessica, in Florence

The next day, we attended an Italian wedding in a quaint little church in a village about an hour away from Torino.  On the way to the reception, the chartered bus we were traveling on developed a problem with the air brakes.  The bride and groom, who were riding in a Rolls Royce (with a George Clooney look-alike chauffeur), stopped to see what the problem was, and stayed with us until a replacement bus picked us up.  At the reception, we had a delicious meal that lasted for hours!

Giuillio, Jill, and "George"

Giuilio, Jill, and "George"

On Sunday, Jessica and I took a train to Switzerland so I could see another European country.  The town we visited, Lugano, was on a very steep hillside.  We walked a long way downhill and mainly window-shopped since most of the stores were closed on Sunday.  We were able to ride back up the hill on a tram to get back to the train station.

Switzerland

Switzerland

Getting Started

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On June 10th, John and I got up early and left for the airport for my trip to Italy.  We got there about three hours early, which from what I’ve read, is the right time to arrive for a flight.  It gave us lots of time to sit and “people watch”.  John left about an hour before my flight when I went through security and went to the gate.  The first flight was a short one to Philadelphia where I was going to have a four and a half hour layover. My seatmate had two cell phones and was using both of them even after the announcement came to shut all cell phones off!  I still wonder what would have happened if she wouldn’t have eventually shut them off.

After an uneventful flight, I arrived in Philadelphia.  I was amazed at the number of shops and restaurants in the airport.  I ate lunch and sat there reading for quite a while before I decided to walk around and look in the shops.  I also figured I should get some exercise before I had to sit on the plane for eight hours!

My seat on the second plane was very cramped, especially when the boy ahead of me put his seat all the way back.  I read for a while, knitted, and slept some.  I wanted to get a lot of sleep because I knew I would get to Italy at 6:35 a.m. which for me would really be 12:35 a.m.

When I got to Milan, Italy, I got my luggage and went to get a ticket to go to the train station an hour away.  Jessica had told me exactly where the counter was and what color bus I should get on.  I found out the ticket counter wouldn’t be open for another hour and a half.  I couldn’t reach Jessica because I couldn’t figure out how to use the pay phone so I tried to ask people for help and couldn’t find anyone who could speak English!  I finally saw a sign for a different bus that would take me to the train station.  I got on that bus and we started out.  I very quickly decided I wouldn’t want to drive in Italy!  There are tiny cars, scooters, and small motorcycles everywhere!  Every time we’d stop, a scooter or two would weave its way through the traffic.  I saw women with stiletto heels and nice suits riding scooters.  All scooter and motorcycle riders were wearing helmets.

When I got off the bus at the train station, I was thrilled to finally see Jessica!  We immediately ran to get on our train so we wouldn’t have to wait another hour for the next train.  We arrived in Torino two hours later, took another bus and went to her apartment, which is tiny.

The elevator to Jessica's 5th floor apartment

The elevator to Jessica's 5th floor apartment

After a short time, we walked to the school where we would meet Filippo, Jessica’s 4 year old charge.  We walked to the family’s apartment, which is a very efficient space.  All along the hall to the bedrooms, there are floor to ceiling storage spaces.  The grandmother brought Franchy (age 6) home and he wouldn’t speak to me at all because he was shy.  By this time, jet lag hit me and I slept on the floor while Jessica played with the boys!  That evening, we went to a film museum (where the pictures below were taken), then we found a nice little restaurant and ate pizza before going back to Jessica’s apartment.

Jessica, the mad scientist!

Jessica, the mad scientist!

The next morning, Thursday, we went out to get fresh fruit and vegetables from the street market a few blocks from Jessica’s place.  We also did some sight-seeing and I started taking lots of pictures.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the names of the places we saw, but Jessica knows them.  That afternoon, since I was still suffering from jet lag, I stayed and slept in the apartment while Jessica went to work.  She had left me the keys to her place so I could go out and explore, but I was too tired.  She has three keys:  one to get into the courtyard, one to get into her building, and one for her apartment.

the hall outside her apartment

the hall outside her apartment

I did go outside to wait for her to come home.

This is an example of one of the trucks we saw.

This is an example of one of the trucks we saw.

My first posting

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This is a couple blocks from Jessica's apartment in Italy.

This is a couple blocks from Jessica's apartment in Italy.

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog about my trip to Italy, my upcoming trip out west, and about my knitting and other crafts.  This is a learning process, so please bear with me!