Barbeyaki

Untapped Grilling and Other Addictions

Archive for the category “Commutation and Peregrination”

Shrinkage

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Shrinkage!

There are many, many different forms of shrinkage. Some are pleasant and others are not.

Here are just a few ways we are encountering shrinkage daily.

1. Loss of weight. According to the Surgeon general the picture above should be reversed. We are not shrinking ! We are expanding.

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2. The Economy: Yes this is for sure experiencing some dramatic shrinkage. This form of Shrinkage has definitely effected our Savings accounts

3. Organic Shrinkage (I think you guys get this one). Usually occurs when we run like Bo Derrick into the Pacific Ocean. This can be very exhilarating or very embarrassing depending on your style of suit.

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4. Hair Loss: It happens to most of it. We try to convince ourselves that it is not but it is. Our follicles are experiencing shrinkage and chocking our last few little hairs. But who cares. There is nothing more reflective than a beautifully shined scalp!

5.Home Size: This is what I have just experienced. Some serious shrinkage of my home. This was my previous home:

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Not bad huh? 748 lightbulbs, 7 Pool Pumps that went out monthly, 362 sprinkler heads,  12 shower or tub drains that got stopped up bi-weekly, 1/2 acre of flower beds where the flowers had to be replaced once every two months or the neighbors complained about the aesthetics of the yard. And we will not even get into the water and electric bill of this monster every month.

Now for the Shrinkage.………This is my new abode

Chateau de Shrinkage

Chateau de Shrinkage

And this is my master bathroom.

No Drain Issues here!

No Drain Issues here!

Now for those who know me, that was not my previous home…..not far off though. And this is not my new abode……..not far off either. But I have gone through some serious Shrinkage and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. The more we shrink physically the bigger our spiritual life expands. It is amazing when all the burden of materialistic stuff is lifted and the simplicity of life takes over. I have saved enough time each week from not changing light bulbs, fixin sprinklers, and calling handymen, to working 30 hours a week at the local Yogurt shop. And they pay me instead of me forking out.

Shrink and Simplify!!!!  Adds years to your life!

Cheers Y’all

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A British New Year

Happy New Year Everyone!

I have been out and about for the last 10 days or so in London England. What a grand, majestic place to spend New Years Eve and the first few days of 2013.

The Bond Ball

The Bond Ball

So what do you do if you are in London on New years Eve? You attend the James Bond Secret Agents Ball! 

The Driver London

The Driver London

Located at The Driver, a night club in central London, the evening was full of James Bond wannabes as well as a wide variety of Bond Girl wannabes. Now this made for an interesting evening. The night consisted of a wonderful dinner followed by five floors of every kind of dance music you could imagine. But by far and away it was the Bond and Bond Girl gazing that made the night so special.

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The night was full of crazy dancing and LOTS OF VESPER MARTINIS, Bonds drink of choice. Bond girls were decked out in glitter and Jewels and pistols stashed away in their garter belts. Fortunately for me, I was blessed to have my 20 year old daughter as my Bond Girl for the evening who reminded me of the ever famous Bond Girl, Jane Seymour who played “Solitaire“.

Solitaire

Solitaire

All in all it was a very interesting way to spend New Years in London. There just is something very special about James Bond and London!

Goodbye “M”

and

Keep Things “Skaken  not  Stirred” in 2013.

It’s Time To Paint Your Butt White and Run With The Antelopes!

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The Desert

Dead or Alive ?

A week or so ago I ventured out to the Central Western portion of Nevada. I spent some time in the High Desert. I have never liked the desert. The bareness, monochromatic coloration, extreme temperatures have always made me think twice about returning. But for some reason I do. Maybe it is because I know there is something beautiful there that I have not allowed myself to fully appreciate. Instead I focus on all of the bigger issues like sunburn,dryness,and the blah color brown.

This all changed for me on this trip.

The Desert Road to Nowhere

It all started with that proverbial road to nowhere. Just a few tire treads and alot of nothing. At first, all I saw was ugly, old, dry,and rusted “Stuff”.

What is This?

A Child’s Rusted Out Box Spring?

Then the wind picked up, and I began to see movement. Once I saw movement, I saw color. Once I saw color, I saw texture………………..

Just as my senses were starting to crank again, and I felt exhilarated my my new found openness to The Desert, I heard something. It was thrashing around just below the top of the bottle brush. I have to admit that another sensation started to come over me……..Stinkin’ Fear!!!!

I didn’t know whether to run, hide, or scream. But I did none of the above. My curiosity got the best of me. I Peeked! And then, just like magic, a person appeared across the desert!

And just as I got enough “Weenie” courage to possibly expose myself and say “Hello”, She was gone!

That day I saw a lot. I saw things I had never noticed before. I saw all the things I did not like about The Desert, and I saw new things I had never dreamed of. Where did She go?

Probably she went to the other side…..the other side of the mountain…….only 15 minutes away from this barren land called The Desert.

Wet and Wonderful

Never Stop Exploring and Never Close Your Mind!

The Desert Is Pretty Enough To Make A Bunny Smooch A Hound Dog

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Chocolate,Beer,Waffles, and Lace

Chocolate!

Well, these Belgium folks have several things right in life. They are the best at Chocolate,Beer, Waffles, and Lace. Chocolate stores like the one above are all over the city. I mean every 25 feet there is another one. And it is outrageous. In between the chocolate stores are Beer Stoes. Over 200 brewed beers in this tiny country. And it will kick your booty.

De Bier Temple

Ok, right next to the beer stores are Belgium Waffle stands. Chocolate ones,Strawberry ones, Banana ones, Pineapple ones, you name it. I had a Chocolate with Banana one!

You Just Want To Stick Your Face In Them.

Lulu Makes ‘Em Fresh To The Order

Now for the Lace. Sorry Ladies, I didn’t take one picture of the Lace. There is just something very itchy about Lace to me. But it was beautiful.

But before I forget, and look like all I appreciate is alcohol and sweets(which is fairly true), I have to be honest and tell you that the architecture and landscape of the city of Brussels in breathtaking. You have to see and taste this place!

The Grand Palace

The Parc

Now I remember what I wanted to show you…… When they make hot chocolate, it’s out-of-this-world. Hot bubbly, foamy,milk in a glass, and a chuck of the world best chocolate on a stick for you to swirl in the hot milk until it has melted. Told you…they know what they re doing in Belgium.

Bravo

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Brussels Brochante

What is This?

I am not quite sure!

I am traveling with an Interior Decorator. She lives for the Brochante. I guess that means flea market in French. Well this is my third one. First one was in Paris. Very organized. Most vendors had nice little shops or tents with their very neatly labeled and displayed stuff. Next was Isle Sur Le Sorgue in Provence. Similar, but laid out nicely on table on the streets. The vendors knew their product and were very helpful. This Brochante is in Brussels, and it is a zoo. We arrived in the rain about 11:30 am. There was stuff everywhere….on the ground, piled in wet cardboard boxes, laid out on sheets, soaking wet. There were TVs, suit cases, underwear(dirty I think)new socks,old socks,wigs,you name it. But there was also a wealth of incredible old stuff. I mean very special,cool,antiques, that you could by for five cents on the dollar.

One of the More “Organized” Vendors. Check Out This Stuff!

What was wild was when the rain would pick up and suddenly these vendors would run like crazy and grab huge plastic tarps and cover everything. When the rain would subside for even 30 seconds they would pull it all off and the browsing would begin again. And for the most part the browsing was done by going through big cardboard boxes of junk to find that one Gem.

Old Wooden Truck…..about $6.00.

At first I was a little uncomfortable with all the craziness and disorder. For those of you who know me I love order,I love neatness and cleanliness. This was not that. But I did find myself something to buy A very old, old old, sterling silver corkscrew! Got it for $20.00. I know. Kinda expensive but it is very unique………I think???

My Big Find!

So it’s official. I am a certified Antique Dealer now! By the way, here is what I really wanted to buy for the new Grandchild that’s on the way. Just had no more room in the suitcase. Pooh!

Shucks! So Cute

Tot Ziens

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The Scottish Invade Belgium

My New Scottish Friends

This is Jack and Aide (nickname for Adam). They are two of tens of thousands of Scotts that invaded Brussels on my first day in the Belgium capital. I had no idea when we jumped on the train from Aix to Brussels that there was an International Soccer match going on while I was there. And we all know the Europeans love their soccer.

This is Edgar and Adair. They were in charge of the music activities. The Scots took over Brussels’ Grand Place Square. They were yelling and screaming, dancing and singing. These are some really loyal folks to their  soccer and their country. It was very nice to see.

Here are a Small Few of Their Friends as They Began to Take Over the Square

There were  a few brave Belgium Groups in the square and fortunately it remained very civilized, but very exciting. They were hanging from the windows, walking around shirtless in frigid weather, showing off their family’s Tartan Plaid kelts.

Brave Belgium Fans

Fan of the Day! Notice the Scottish “X” Shaved on His Chest

Now Ths is One Loyal,But Stylish Dude.

Best “Murse” of the Day (Man Purse)

It was a great couple of days hanging out with Scottish people. I have to say that they may be the most friendly people on this earth. You could just stop them and ask them anything and they enjoyed sharing their culture and history with you.

Unfortunately the soccer match did not go as well as the pre game festivities did for the Scotts. After a scoreless first half the Belgium side scored two quick goals and that about did it. But I know one thing, these people enjoy life and know how to throw a party.

Best Pants of the Day!

Oh…Thanks For Taking Care of My Wife Too! Appreciate That.

Great Scott!

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Aix En Provence

After the exciting day at cooking school had concluded, we jumped in our car started our journey from Avignon to Aid de Provence. Aix is continually talked about as one of the prettiest cities in Provence.

Rude du Mirabeau…..Aix’s Champs Elysee’ at night

I guess if I was to be really honest, I prefer the small mountain top stone villages in the Luberon Valley. I thought Aix would be small based on the descriptions I had heard. But it is a fairly large city and very confusing to navigate by car. LOts of one-way streets.

But They do take the cake on Fountains.

This fountain is located at the end of Mirabeau and normally has thousands of cars,trucks,buses, all fighting for a space to drive around it.

Another Fountain At Night

Yes, there are markets here to. But certainly not on the scale or interest of Il Sur le Sorgue. Here there is great food and spice markets, lots of clothes and jewelry,linen, and soaps. On Sunday they have a beautiful fresh flower market.

Sunday Street Market

Fresh Flower Market

But if I were to be honest about what makes Aix de Provence famous, it’s the shopping. Located all behind the Rue du Mirabeau are so many small cobblestone streets and alleys that are loaded with Couture Fashion, elegant Chocolatiers, Outrageous Pastry shops, 5 Star Jewelry stores, and just about everything you can find in Paris except all together. It can be a bit of a zoo navigating all the tour groups who come form Japan, China, Eastern Europe…you name the country. They are all here spending their money on expensive stuff.

Fashion For Young and Old

But my favorite day in Aix was visiting Paul Cezanne’s studio and a wonderful Greek lunch. THe studio is about a thirty minute hike uphill form the Centre Ville. But it is worth it. Cezanne spent most of his life growing up and dying in Aix. He built this studio in the late 1800’s to provide him with a studio to paint his still life with many different arrays of light. Cezanne also wanted a studio large enough to paint very big canvases which he could not find already existing. The studio you will see below measures 50 square meters which is extremely large by the standards of the time for an artist. The surrounding gardens provided many backdrops for the artist work. It was these very gardens that ended up being his deathbed. Cezanne was completing a series of drawing of his gardener outside in the gardens. He caught a cold, followed by pneumonia painting and sketching in the cold winter rains of Aix. This is quite ironic given the fact that he purposely built this studio with a 50 square meter pane less window so he would not have to venture outside in the weather to work.

“Cezanne” Gold Medallion Line the Street On the Way to the Studio

Engraved Limestone Marking The Studio

One of The Many Actual Stills Cezanne Painted. The Studio Was Left Exactly As It Was The Day The Artist Died

A Rare Interior Shot of the Studio. Still Objects Line The Shelves. No Cameras. Oops! Sorry

Exterior Shot of the Studio

One of the Many Paths Winding Through Ceazanne’s Gardens

After a lot of walking up and down that hill, I was starving. But not for French food. I wanted Greek food and found just the spot at the bottom of the hill. THe food was terrific, inexpensive, and the Greek wine brought it all together.

Moussaka,Tabouleh, Hummus, Pita,

A Little Greek Libation

A very swell day in Aix En Provence.

C’était un grand temps

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Gordes France

Gorges France

This is the Mountain Top village of Gordes. These ancient buildings are built right smack into the mountain. The just teeter on the edge of cliffs.

The Valley Below Gordes

The only way I can describe this is 360 degree beauty! Just waking up every morning and being able to se this would be enough in life. The tiny little village is filled with very narrow cobblestone streets lined with markets of fresh produce and shops with French Soaps and Linen.

Cobblestone Streets

Produce Stand

AS I was walking through the maze of cobblestone I came upon a tiny Bistro with 2 odd looking wooden frames with a live vine growing out of them. This was a pretty smart idea. They had stapled burlap to the back of the frame forming a bag and filled the bag with soil. Then the vine was inserted into the bag and was growing just like that!!

Very Clever Idea

On the way out of Gordes, we stopped by Hotel Bastide. It is a 5 Star Hotel just hanging off the side of the mountain. What a view. On the drive back to Menerbes the landscape was gorgeous. This is the pretties area I have travled.

View From the Patio at Hotel Bastide

Lavendar Fields Throughout Provence

Now I think you understand why I am so overwhelmed with the landscape.

Bon Soir

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Menerbes France

The City of Menerbes

Perched high on this hilltop in the Luberon Mountains is the quaint city of Menerbes. Well, I should have clarified….used to be quaint. Thanks to an author named Peter Mayle and a book he wrote called “OneYear In Provence”, it is not nearly as quiet as it was. Thousands and thousands of tourist form all over the world flock to Menerbes each year just to catch a glimpse at the wonderful, yet sometimes stressful life Mr. Mayle experienced building his own home in Menerbes and the wonderful relationships he built over the one year construction process. The area is surrounded by vineyards and olive orchards. I heard through the grapevine that Mr. Mayle packed up and sold his home shortly after his book was published as he had folks sitting outside his gate staring at him. Hope he made a few books on the book.

St. Hillaire

This is where I am staying while in Provence. It is a beautiful home secluded in the woods about 3 minutes form Menerbes.

This is my kitchen where I will attempt to duplicate the food of Provence

This is the swimming pool which I will never touch…a little too cold for me.

My prize possession…….The Barbecue

THe narrow cobblestone streets of Menerbes

View form Menerbes overlooking the Luberon Valley

A typical house front in Menerbes….very sleepy

I set out to find two things in Menerbes, truffles and wine. The wines of Luberon are different than the rest of France. No Burgundy, no Bordeaux. But lots of Syrah, Medoc, Muscat and Ventoux. Very good and very inexpensive! I found a restuarant in the city that specializes in truffles. They serve lunch everyday and each menu item has truffles in it. It doesn’t matter if it is beef or eggs, it has the magnificent flavor of fresh truffles, recently dug up from the earth after being sniffed out by a dog! I heard the dogs and their owners get paid up to $2000.00 to sniff them out. Maybe I should try.

Mai On De La Truffle and The Wine……..THe name of the Restaurant

Olive oil infused with Trufles and Truffle Pate

Just a glimmer of some of the great wines

This is a gorgeous are to visit. Make sure you stay for a while. So many more tiny little villages all within 15 minutes drives. Next stop, the City of Gordes where the entire city was built into the sides of the Mountain!

Ou Revoir

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Avignon France

Hotel La Mirande

THis is the Hotel La Mirande. It is one of the top hotels in all of the world. It sits directly across form the Palais de Pope in the walled city of Avignon. The Popes Palace was built in the 1300’s when the Papal leadership got into a tissy fit and split into two. One Pope in Rome and one Pope in Avignon. Go figure.

The Sleeping Parlors

Terrace Dining

THe Chefs Kitchen

This week we were fortunate enough to attend the Chefs Private dinner. Chef Jean-Pierre Novi allowed us to watch him prepare each dish and then served us with perfectly matched wine. Dinner started with a Pumpkin Puree soup, followed by a Roasted Duck in Burgundy reduction that was absolutely superb, especially given I hate duck!

Chateauneuf-du-Pape or The Pope’s Palace

The View From Atop The Place Of The Rhone River

The Cathedral Notre Dame Located Within The Palace Walls

Beautiful Ceilings Adorn The Palace

A Fifty Foot Statue of Christ In One Of The Parks High Above the Walled City

I think you get the picture now of Avignon. A very, very old city sitting along the Rhone River right in the middle of Provence. Incredible Ancient Architecture, very nice people, and for you ladies, every designer’s shop you could possibly want to see.

WARNING: Streets are about 4 1/2 ft. wide and your car can actually get stuck against the walls. Drive with caution. Limit alcohol intake.

Onto L’isle Sur La Sorgue

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