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A Tennis Pro on Safari? A Bad Crash; Baking Bricks; Ruthie’s Dilemma; Geo-Quiz Part 3

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? 
My Lovely Bride’s Lovely Mom Ruthie had breakfast with us recently, and commented on the excellent strawberry preserves that I had canned myself… okay, I’m fibbing… they came from a shelf at the grocery, but I picked them out! Anyway, we got her a jar and dropped them off yesterday. Suzanne said, “Mom, you really don’t like your sugar-free preserves. Why not throw them out now that you have what you really like?” Like many people who grew up during the Depression, Ruthie has never thrown anything out that had the least bit of remaining use or value. You could see her struggling to drop the old, yucky-tasting preserves in the trash can, but yes, she finally did it. “Well done, Ruthie! we are proud of you.”
Yes, folks, it’s now what you’ve been looking forward to… Geo-Quiz Part 3. You have survived New Year’s in Rome, but want to get away from the madding crowds and pickpockets. You decide to escape to an island off the coast of Italy to a small (read “and hopefully not so expensive”) bed and breakfast run by a one-legged former Carabineri sergeant and his Romanian girlfriend. (Correct, you really had to search to find this place!) You take a main line train to a town about 55 miles southwest of Florence and about 37 miles south-southeast of Livorno. A. In what town (name has two words) did you debark? 
You take a bus to another town (the port of the ancient Etruscans) where you can catch a ferry to an island which had been part of Tuscany, then part of France, then was returned to Tuscany and finally became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Your B&B is in a town whose name means Blue Port in Italian, and whose coat of arms is shown here. What is the name of the town and the island on which it is located?
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!

1 Comment

  • Jennifer
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    What an amazing life Mike has had in the Safari. First a tennis player and then 20 years in
    Africa? I would love to see his photos. How intriguing.!


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