The other night we had dinner with a very interesting couple, Sandy Jensen and Mike Appelbaum. Sandy is a retired teacher and tour ship activities director. The tour ship came first, but Sandy preferred life on shore to being at sea. (We didn’t ask Sandy if the partying got too hard to bear…) Sandy earned big points with Rudy and Gretchen when she brought them “indestructible” chew toys. It was a matter of minutes before our little dachshunds had the first disemboweled… Sandy, you are our puppies’ hero! Mike was a tennis pro in south Florida, but developed a passion for photography and Africa. He wound up becoming “Safari Mike”, leading photo safaris all over the Dark Continent for 20 years. He and his parties stayed in small hotels and tents in the bush. Don’t feel sorry for Mike; many of the “tent camps” were five-star rated. He told one story about being in the swimming pool at one camp when three large male elephants walked up and started drinking water from the pool. (“And you didn’t get out of the pool and shoo them away?”)
His portfolio and slide show were almost as fascinating as his stories, with lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, hippo, and rhino being his wildlife of choice. Some of his lion and leopard photos were taken from 10-15 feet away, like this male lion being very patient with a young cub. I can hear his client… “Let’s see, Mike, you want me to get out of this relatively safe Land Rover and walk over to that 500 lb male lion, saying ‘Nice, kitty, please roar and show your teeth for the camera.’?” That takes more than just a steady hand! His portraits of African tribal elders were remarkable, and underscored the trust and friendships he developed over decades in Africa.
Now, as to the crash, no, Corvette Chick didn’t get a dent in her car. Her PC hard drive crashed… and she had to restore her files and web sites from an off-site data storage facility using all the bandwidth in our home connection. Meanwhile, for three days I had to use Interim Plan B, using the Internet at our nearby Miona Recreation Center. It’s what we euphemistically call “A Truly Hateful Place”, decorated throughout with nautical memorabilia. Even the meeting rooms are named after America’s Cup yachts. It also has a great fireplace, seen here with Your Faithful Correspondent posting a blog while toasting his toes near the gas fire. “Life is Good.”
Okay, today was not a good day for baking. I decided to help out my always-busy-and-sometimes-overwhelmed-Lovely Bride and bake a loaf of bread in the bread maker. This can’t be that hard, I reasoned… so I read the recipe, followed the instructions to the letter, including the 2 1/4 tsps of active dry yeast, and started “The Infernal Machine”… I guess I should have also read the detailed instruction manual for it, because the “2” that I selected, thinking that it meant “2 lbs”, was actually Menu #2, for “Quick: for quick breads that do not use yeast and require only mixing and baking.” Now, you fancy-schmanzy bakers who have been doing this for 40 years know that recipes with yeast should rise nicely, doubling the size of the ball of dough that you started with. Mine didn’t exactly do that. In fact, it came out just the size of and as hard as a brick. Why are you laughing at me?
You are now settled in your room overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, and about to go down to the piazza for a glass of Azienda Cecilia. Salute!