Monday, May 29, 2006

Today, I finally dusted off my baking mitts and tried a new recipe. Thank you, Gail, for reminding me of the joy of cupcakes (and for leading me to chockylit's blog)! Ellie and I made mango-coconut cupcakes with ginger-lime cream cheese frosting (adapted from chockylit's recipe since the local shops don't have papaya). Hands down, they are the most unusual cupcakes I've ever made...but they are also REALLY GOOD!!! Yummy! They went exceptionally well with dinner: Thai shrimp in coconut curry. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

group shot with the Brancafortes and their friend Mrs. Carbone

one emblem at the Infiorata, made from flower petals and sand

fountain at Ortigia

Sicilian Baroque architecture of Noto

chapel in Ortigia

Here are some images of our recent trip to Noto, Sicily. Noto is a Baroque town in south-eastern Sicily, a UNESCO heritage site and Patrimony to Humanity. We had a wonderful time with our friends, the Brancafortes, who took us into their wonderful home, showed us the town and let us try the sumptiously fresh food of the area. Thanks for taking such good care of us, Benito and Charlotte.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The following image was scanned from the locally published Ocean Springs police reports. Try not to be alarmed about the extremes of criminal life in this town. I am particularly worried about the 8:23pm dispatch.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Testing one two three!
Can you view this video?
If so, you'll see a happy bathing baby!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Time for a little mommy effusiveness...
Ellie discovered splashing in the bath today! Her tub is the good ol' kitchen sink, and she pretty much drenched the entire kitchen tonight. In the past, she has had ZERO interest in splashing. She just chews her tub toys and goes about the business of getting clean...but tonight it was a different ball game. She splashed from the moment I put her in the water until the moment the last bit drained out. She was cracking us up! What a funny critter!
Ellie and I are back in Ocean Springs, freshly returned (and EXHAUSTED) from a week's visit to Sicily, where we met up with Markus to see our potential future home-away-from-home. For months now, we've been in the process of buying a house in Noto, thanks in full to the help and encouragement of our wonderful New Orleans friends/neighbors (technically LANDLORDS amazingly), the Brancafortes. They have a home there, and they have been telling us beautiful stories of the place for the years that we've known them. This December, a small house near theirs became available for sale, and we decided "what the hey?" We went along with it, because you never know when a great opportunity will simply place itself in your lap. The gears were set in motion, and many emails later, we all met up in Sicily last week to take a look and sign some papers. We will have to post some pictures soon, but I don't have them yet.
Noto is a beautiful old Baroque city (a UN World Heritage site, actually). The buildings are amazing. We were fortunate enough to be there for the Infiorata, which is a flower festival in which artists make images completely out of flower petals and other bio material (grain, sand, soil, etc.). We were located near the beach, and the waters around the island of Sicily are absolutely gorgeous and crystal clear! And the food...who could be sorry to spend a week eating Italian food and drinking locally produced wines? Despite all three of us having a terrible cold (thank you airplane air!), we were happy to finally have a week away from stress and trouble. Thank you again to the Brancafortes for your wonderful hospitality!
In the end, we decided not to buy the house. We did more to-ing and fro-ing than I've ever known Markus to tolerate (being a Libra, to-ing and fro-ing on decisions is my natural state), but our responsible sides won out. In Markus's words, there are just too many moving pieces right now for us to happily buy a house somewhere. Ellie and I still haven't finished our work in Ocean Springs sorting my dad's estate, and we really don't know how long that will take. We expect to be here for at least a few more weeks, and then his interment at Arlington is July 6th... Meanwhile, Markus is back in Doha without unhappy separation for our little family. He'll be plugging away at that silly job that he HATES, living in a world of beige HEAT (apparently, hot water heaters can be shut off entirely for the next several months and one can begin praying cold water will eventually come from the faucets). But that brings me to a point of good news...
During all that to-ing and fro-ing in Sicily, we came to a decision point about all those moving pieces we face. Given that we've lost BOTH of our fathers in the past few months, we've decided to prioritize a location closer to family, even if it means leaving the company to get out of Doha. Markus is going to set the wheels in motion the best he can. Although we don't expect anything to happen soon, we plan to make a change by the end of the calendar year. We're looking at Canada, the US, and Europe. Being in an isolated location far from family just doesn't make any sense at all. Markus's family still hasn't even seen Ellie, and she's almost nine months old now! It's time for that to end.
I'm a bit sad to see the Sicily house go. We'd been holding onto that for a few months as our thing to look forward to in all this madness...but I know we made the right choice. It really doesn't make sense for us right now. And, as the Brancafortes pointed out, there are always vacation rentals available and that might just be smarter in the end. Visitors, of course, will always be welcome!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

in loving memory
Barry Wayne Cullins
November 26, 1951 - May 2, 2006