This is Lisa. Im Tara's mom, and I'm filling in today to allow Tara and Tyler a bit of a break from their usual discipline of daily journaling. Their dedication to daily journaling is impressive. To them "daily" absolutely means daily, as in, "no matter what else is going on around us, we WILL write our journal entry today". And they do. So when they asked me if I'd be interested in writing a paragraph, or a whole day's entry to help out, I said yes. They seemed pretty happy about it.
I am in Italy visiting them with Mark, who is Tara's dad, and Lian, who is Tara's brother. A couple of days ago the three of us flew to Rome, rented a car, drove to Tuscany, and met up with Tara and Tyler at our home away from home for the week, a comfy apartment in a traditional Tuscan farm building on a working organic farm (agriturismo).
It was exciting to drive up to the farmhouse and see the green and the black heavily-loaded touring bicycles parked outside, knowing that if the bikes were here, that meant that Tara and Tyler must be inside. We havent seen each other for almost six months! I thought it might be awkward at first, like they would have changed or something, but actually after I got over being amazed at how bronzed Tara is and how fit they both are, it was just like old times to be together again. Then Tara told us that she had a pot of soup with rice, cannellini beans, chicken broth, and fresh rosemary simmering on the stove for us if we were hungry. Are you kidding? Of course we were hungry. The soup was amazing.
In our "flat" here we have a kitchen/living/dining room, bedrooms, a bathroom, and great views of olive groves, cypress trees, farms, and hills in every direction. The walls are almost a foot thick, so the window sills become very handy for storing things or arranging a bowl of fruit. The ceilings have hand-hewn beams and exposed rafters, and are made of ancient bricks in a dozen different soft hues that could all be called "terra cotta". There are big antique armoires in each bedroom, and the beds are black decorative iron. All the floors are terra cotta tiles. The hand towels are made of linen, and they have been ironed. The kitchen is well stocked with dishes and cookware, and we are making good use of everything.
When we arrived, Lidia, our charming agriturismo owner and hostess, gave us some of the products of this farm: some dark green olive oil, a bottle of red wine, a jar of apricot marmalade, and a container of her dads own homemade ricotta cheese, made from sheeps milk. She told us he makes cheese every Sunday, and if we want to this Sunday, we can come and watch.
We wanted this trip to be a balance between sightseeing and relaxing, with slightly more relaxing than sightseeing. Thus today is a planned day of hanging out at our place, cooking, telling stories, swimming, playing games, and more cooking. Cooking is the best part. At the moment everyone but me has taken off to town to pick up more food.
When they get back we are all going to sit around the kitchen table with its checkered oilcloth cover and make homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach, the fresh sheep's milk ricotta, and, like many of Tara and Tylers favorite dishes, lots of garlic. It promises to be a fairly labor-intensive project so we purposefully planned it for a day when we didnt have anything else we needed to do, except of course for that aforementioned daily journal entry.
Seriously, I had no idea when I was sitting at home in Illinois reading these daily posts just how much of a big deal it is to actually create them. Every day. Factoring in the time it takes them to take the photos, get out the right cords, upload them, make sure the battery is charged so the computer will work, update the GPS spot, cook, refrain from eating until they have photographed the food—sometimes using their head lamp to illuminate the food so it will photograph better—eat, clean up, store everything away in a totally organized fashion in their bicycle panniers, and finally sit down to write, I would think they might just dash off a couple of hasty lines and call it quits. But no, they write thoughtfully, and then apparently go through a lengthy editing process before they consider their daily post is done.
Tara already tipped me off that the post I am writing right now will be edited, too, and not to take it personally. I've only experienced how they have accomplished all of this while we've been living in this apartment with all the comforts of home. When I think what it must be like in the tent, under a bridge, after a full day of riding, and with almost no light, I'm humbled.