Sunday, May 31, 2009

Killing in the Cause of Christ

While he was at church this Sunday morning, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed by an unknown murderer. Dr. Tiller was gunned down in the presence of his wife and the church congregation, the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. The murderer sped away in his car.

Killing in the Cause of Christ is an idea I have never understood or agreed with. Jesus Christ certainly did not advance the idea that killing another human being is justified. No, Christ taught about forgiveness, compassion, and understanding. He taught of redemption and faith, of love for our fellow men and for peace on earth.

Murder is just that - murder. The killing of Dr. Tiller was the cold-blooded murder of another human being.

dining with anthony boudain in basque country

Check this out if you are an Anthony Bourdain fan like me. It is a show about dining in the Basque Country. Bourdain, like Batali, recommends Arzak in San Sebastian.

dining in basque country.

Mario Batali wrote a book with Gwyneth Paltrow on dining in Spain, approprtiately tiltled, Spain, A Culinary Road Trip. In the Basque country he mentions two cities, Vitoria, the capital, and SanSebastian, a seaport on the north coast.
SanSebastian is the first city a traveller comes to, driving from France. It is just 20 km from the French border. Mario and Gwyneth mark it as the best eating city in the Basque Country. And Mario recommends Juan Mari Arzak and his self-named restaurant as the best place to eat.
Going tapeo is how to eat in Spain. In Basque Country, it is called pintxo. There are an infinite variety of pintxos, as many as a creative chef can think up. Banderilla is just one, consisting of pickled pepper, anchovy, and olive skewered on a toothpick. Also, try the peppers from Guernica, Pimentos de Gernika.

Vitoria is inland, 40 km south of Bilbao.

A guide to the city can be found at The Catedral de Santa Maria is one of themany sites to see. As for restaurants, Mario recommends Asador Sagartoki. This is a pintxo bar where traditional Basque dishes are presented as haute-cuisine.

Near Vitiora, is the village of Idiazabal. The village is known for its nutty-tasting cheese made from the milk of Latxa sheep.

Speaking the local language always helps to make friends. To say thank you in Basque: Eskerrik asko. For more phrases, try out this helpful site.

spanish bullfighter, israel lancho, gets the point.

Now on traditionsHome blog, you can twitter. Spanish bullfighter, Israel Lanch, is on the receiving end of the bull's horn. Check it out on the Huffington Post. This is not for the faint of heart.

blogging using twitter

Technology is moving fast, too fast. Blogs, MySpace, Facebook, now, Twitter. There is a dizzying array of social networking sites out there. These sites allow the free expression of ideas and thoughts from anyone to anyone. Gone are the constraints of distance and cost. No wonder that newspapers are feeling the loss of readers and advertising revenue as online news from sources such as the Huffington Post pave the way into a new frontier of cyber-news.

The latest social networking tool is Twitter. Although limited in the amount of content, it nevertheless permits instantaneous responses to ongoing topics. The rave, as they say, is to incorporate twitter into a blog or website to allow reader comment as the story unfolds. Again, the Huffington Post demonstrates this use in action.

Here's how they do it: In the blog underneath the story, insert the twitter logo and then type a link to twitter. This link is to a story on bullfighting. The Post changes the link words to Follow HuffPost on Twitter. Now the reader can get other readers' reactions to the story.
If you are not squeemish, watch the video.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

palyin soccer with the italians

When i reach Italy mid way in my eupopean trip with my father, I hope to develop my futbol game to a new level, i want to play as the italians do with finese and purpose, something the American style of play lacks. I will be attending a futbol camp in florence and hope to lean new skillz but also meet new players my own age to learn what its like to live in Italy. Once ive obtained general knoledge and skill in the Italian style, I will head to england for another camp. In England i hope to obtain the englands physical playing style, and intense focus on operating as a whole, not individual players. Then when I return to Wichita Kansas iw ill Hopefully beable to train hard and reach my goal of making Starting varsity at my local high school.

Symphony Showhouse 2009

The Wichita Symphony is again hosting the Symphony Showhouse. The showing is at Parkstone Development at Douglas Avenue and Rutan Street and runs for three weeks beginning May 28, 2009.

Traditions Home is proud to contribute to the design of the Symphony Showhouse.

The design team consists of Marion Alley, Marilyn Rine, Dayna Rosencutter, Diane Fletcher, and Vicki Guernsey. The design is French in flavor. The colors are rich reds, yellow, and golds.

The design concept is to create a comfortable living environment. The flow of traffic is maximized by placing the sofa in the bay where it commands the view of the living area.

The chandelier provides a warm light and the use of Sid Dickens tiles are a bit of personal whimsey. The curtains were custom made, as well as the blinds.

The wall color is gold with a slight faux finish to give the area the look and feel of a French manor house.

The Parkstone Development will be the tallest condominium devopment in Wichita when completed.

Look for other exciting retail and office opportunities in the area.


Luke 12:48 “To whom much is given much is expected”.

Okay, so Will, my son who is 15 years old, gets to go to Europe. There we will tour France, Spain, Italy and England. It is an ambitious itinerary and I am sure that we will at times be traveling at break-neck speed to see it all. Even then, like at the dinner table, you have to push yourself away from the feast with your arms and say,"Enough!"

I ask a lot from my son, but I also ask that he enjoy life for it passes by all too quickly.

Will, I would like it if you would blog daily on your trip, so that you can learn the discipline and joy of writing. Hey, this is probably how Anthony Bourdain started out.

hotel booking

In the past BC (short-hand for before computers and the internet), hotels were booked through the use of Fodor's, Frommer's, or by asking at the front desk for a recommendation in the next town. Now AC (after computers make it all so easy), I can go on-line and choose from a number of booking agencies that list all the hotels in the area, google map the destinations, and then list all the amenities and reviews.

The computer prints out the confirmation.

For instance, Will and I are travelling from Paris to Bordeaux, a distance of five hours. lists hotels in the St.Emilion area, ranging in price from 40 euros to 400 euros. I was able to see pictures of the room, google map my destination, and check for parking and free internet connect. You can make the room reservation and incur no cancellation fee up to two days prior to the reservation. I got a room at
Logis Hostellerie Du Ch√Ęteau De Roques for 90 euros.

Let's see how it works.


A little over a year ago, we got a new dog. We had a dog, Lizzie, a Welsh Corgie, so, we didn't need a second dog, but it was a gift, and you gifts should always be received with a warm heart. We received Sam, our new German Shephard, with excitement. She was the gift of a dear friend of Robin's.

Puppies are always a bundle of joy. They are cute and cuddly. They are loving and in need of loving. They complete our lives.

Don't get me wrong. Children do the same thing. It's just that puppies don't talk back. Puppies love unconditionally. They do it without an attitude. Children, god bless them, at some point in their lives, become the anti-Christ. They don't finish their dinner, don't clean-up after themselves, and bark back at every request a parent makes.

Sam has been a great dog. She is much larger now. Like all German Shephard adults, she strikes fear into the hearts of most people. German Shephards are by nature and temperment agressive. We have worked hard with Sam to socialize her. It is hard work. Daily, we walk her by other people and other dogs. We have had her in two training sessions with experts.

The work and training have paid off (that's Abby Fletcher with Sam).

Launch Date

Will and I depart June 8, 2009, leaving Wichita, Kansas for Paris, France. Our trip will last until the end of July.

Getting ready for the trip is a never ending process of planning and revising routes, and packing and repacking what is necessary for a six week trip. The itinerary as of now puts us in Paris on the 9th. We stay in the Left Bank for three days and depart by car on the 12th for Bordeaux. The next day we cross in to Spain and make our way across the Catabrian Coast to Santabar.

At this point we decide whether to continue west to Santiago de Compostelo and then Protugal, or we travel south from Santabar to Madrid. The decision depends on time. Either way, we make for Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, and finally, Barcelona.

After Barcelona, we make a mad dash across southern France through Arles and into Italy along the northern coast and possibly into Genoa. The critical date is that on the 21st we will be outside Firenze at Villa Poggiolle. Here Will and I meet up with Robin, my wife, and Hannah, my daughter.

Coincidentally, Deana and Craig Robinson are travelling with a Kansas State tour group to Cortona, nearby. Carol And Chris Walker will also be in the area. Nick and Tara, newlyweds, will be in Firenze. What are the odds of this happening?

July the Fourth, Will and I head back through France to drop the car off on the coast. On the way, I hope to stop in Graffigny-Chemin, in Lorraine (Haut-Marne) to see the house my grandmother was born in. I have until the 12th to get Will to a soccer camp in Manchester. And, finally, I am on my own for a week.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Poiteau and Aquitaine

It is five hours from Paris to Bordeaux by car, three hours by train (TGV).

Thirty minutes east of Bordeaux is St.Emilion, an ancient village and appellation of a fine red wine and home to several villages. Famous chateaux in the region include Figeac, Cheval Blanc, Margaux, and Ausane. The travel route from Paris puts you on the A10, then a62, and, finally, A89. The official website for St.Emilion is helpful.

There are eight villages ranging in size from just 212 citizens, St. Hippolyte, to over 2000, St. Emilion.

There are quite a few restaurants listed by the official website.

Photo 2007 by Monk-san, as posted by Trip-Advisor.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

paris to bordeaux

Three days in Paris then two weeks to kill before Will and I have to be in Firenze, Italy on the 24th.

Here's the new itinerary: head west and south from Paris to Bordeaux. We have to decide if we will drive or take the train. The TGV is fast, it takes only three hours by train instead of the five hour drive. makes the reservations.

The problem is - if we pick up the car in Bordeaux, can we drop it in Paris or LeHarve without a huge fee?

After Bordeaux we will travel by car to Northern Spain, then Madrid, Cordoba, Toledo, and Barcelona, and shoot across France to Italy.

This is all done on the fly, so the itinerary is subject to change daily.

google maps

This was a frustrating morning.

I spent the morning trying to put a google map into my blog and couldn't get the coding right. For those who want to try click on the tutorial by Esa. You'll also need to get a google account (you already have one, if you have gmail), then go to the google map api address.

This feature is pretty neat. If I get it up and running before I head to Europe, you can keep track of our progess on the trip.

Check out the applications, which apply to both blogs and websites by going to googlemapsmania.

spam blogs

It hasn't been a week on the blog, and I have been identified as a potential spam blogger. I am not sure what I have done to deserve this, unless my links to helpful information can be considered "spamming."

I have requested a review so I guess I'll find out soon what the problem is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rouen, France

On the 12th of June, after three days in Paris, Will and I will drive north and west along the A13 (D65) to Rouen. The distance is 135 km, or an hour and a half in driving time.

On the way from Paris to Rouen, stop at Giverny (a distance of 75 km), where you will visit Monet's Garden.

The cathedral was painted by Monet.

Gone are the days when the traveler has to take bulky and cumbersome maps to find directions. ViaMichialen and MapQuest both give the traveler great online maps and directions from spot to spot. The ViaMichelin site has the advantage of noting on the map hotels, restaurants, and tourist locations. The Michelin map directions show the actual signs and post the toll costs.

In Rouen, the Frommer's Guide recommends staying at the Hotel Cardinal across from the cathedral. A second choice nearby is the Hotel de la Cathedral, opposite the Archbishops Palace where Joan d'Arc was tried. This latter hotel looks like the better find.

Photos by Anne Marie of Vienna Virgina.

Monday, May 25, 2009

itineray - after Paris traveling west

After three days in Paris, Will and I will be rested and ready to explore the rest of France. We are heading west towards Spain and we will have to make a choice.

Choice one is to head north to the city Rouen, then along the Normandy coast to Brittany. On the border of Normandy and Brittany is Mont-St-Michel. This route adds a day to our itinerary as the coast of Brittany is a two hundred mile circuit.

Choice two is to go directly west and then south to Orleans, Tours, and the Loire Valley. This route eliminates Normandy and Brittany and connects up with either Nantes or Poitiers. Eventually, we will reach the region of Bordeaux.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spain - the Cantabrian Coast and Old Castile

Somewhere around the 15th of June, Will and I will find ourselves leaving France and driving into Spain. The first town we will come to will be Hondarriba. (Called Fuentearrabia in Spanish, this is Basque country and the language is Basque.) For a google map of the area click here.

Now you have to make a decision - either drive south to Pamplona and on to the Palacio de Real Olite, a 15th century fortress, or head west past Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum to Santillana del Mar. It is called the most picturesque town in Spain, but allows no cars unless you are staying there. The Altamira Caves are close by. This begins the northern route on the pilgramage to Santiago de Compestelo. For more information, see

Check out the hotels on Expedia. I tried Comillas and found the hotel (with just 9 rooms) already booked for the 16th of June.

Have to go now. I will add more later.

Parisian Foodies

Will loves to cook. So, a visit to the best open air food markets is a must.

The Marche Buci, rue de Buci, 6e, a traditional French food market, is in the Latin Quarter and close to our hotel. Anytime but Monday.

Next, march over to Christian Constant, 37 rue d'Assas, 6e, for delicious chocolates.

Cheese shops (fromageries) are everywhere. A list of the best in central Paris is at DiscoverFrance. Since it's close by the Latin Quarter where Will and I are staying, check out Androuet sur le Pouce, 134 Rue Mouffetard, 5e (Pantheon, just south of the Latin Quarter) for a cheese bar, where you can have a selection of cheeses, starting at five and a price of eleven euros. If your hungry, have a larger plate. Remember they are closed from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., so plan accordingly.

For upscale gourmet products, visit Fauchon at 26 place de la Madeline, 8e. Then visit Hediard, at 21 place de la Madeline. They are close to the Champs d'Lycee so work it in with a visit to the department stores Au Printemps and Galeries Layfayette. A complete list of food markets can be found at DiscoverFrance.

The old Forum des Halles is not what it used to be, and not worth a visit.

Shopping in Paris

Shopping in Paris is one of the great free activities, that is unless you buy. Flea markets, fashion, books, artists, and more; a great outline of all the shopping you could possibly dream of, and more, can be found in the Frommer's Guide, either the Paris or France edition.

Another great website is Discover France, where you will find individual directories to booksellers (librairies), covered markets (march couvert), outdoor markets (marche en plein-air), and department stores (magasins), or specialty shops, including cheese shops (fromageries), chocolate (chocolatiers), and the famous Paris bakery (boulangeries).

Kaboodle shows Paris by District and Arrondiesment. It also gives some links to activities to do while in Paris.

The best way to figure out where to shop is to go to Frommer's Guide on Shopping. Then check out the map to find which arronidement the shopping is in.

Will and I are staying in the Latin Quarter, 6. On the Rue du Bac behind the wealthy residential area is shopping for the very rich. The Galerie Adrien Maeght with posters starting at 4.6 euros, is at 42 Rue du Bac. The left Bank is also famous for its booksellers. Choices include: Tea and Tattered Pages, 24 rue Mayer; The Village Voice, 6 rue Princesse; and, just over the line in arrondisement 5 is Shakespeare and Company, rue de l'Odeon (home to Sylvia Beach, "mother of the lost generation").

Much of the great shopping is located in and around the Avenue De Champs d'Lycee in arrondisement 8 (8e). Anna Lowe, 104 rue du Faubourg Ste Honore, for women's fashions. Slightly further away in 9e, along Boulevard Haussmann, Pigalle, are the large department stores of Au Printemps and Galeries Layfayette.

Antiques, check out Village St-Paul, 23-27 rue St-Paul in 4e. You are close to the Marche aux Fleurs, place Louis-Lepine on the Ile de la Cite.

The Paris Art Market is at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower in 14e.

The best flea market is Marche aux Puces de Clingancourt, avenue de la Porte de Cligancourt, in a suburb north of 18e. So, make it a day trip with a visit to the famous area of Montmarte where Toulouse Latrec wandered about.

There is so much more, but isn't this good enough for starters?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bob and Andy

I am learning how the blogger works and just wanted to see if I could upload a picture to the blog. Apparently, I can.

The picture of my father-in-law and brother-in-law, Bob and Andy, got me thinking that life in
Wichita is really pretty good. I know I complain about Wichita a lot. I didn't grow up here and can think of a lot more exciting and beautiful spots on this earth.

Still, "It's a great place to raise a family." That is what I always say when anyone asks why I live here. And I guess that is true. I have been here for over twenty years now and have raised two children, Hannah and Will, one in college at DePaul in Chicago, and the other in high school at East High in Wichita.

As you can see from the photograph, we are sitting on the back porch enjoying the beautiful weather. (It was at Andy's house.) There is a beer, glass of wine or scotch somewhere, but you don't see it in the photograph. The food is always great and the conversation between family members even better.

I have known friends who have left Wichita for Hawaii, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Not everyone stays and not everyone comes back, but the ones that do come back, and there have been many, always say, "It is my family that brings me back."

finding hotels and hostels

If you are like me, a hotel is just a place to sleep.

I would rather save my money that I would spend on an expensive hotel room ($200 per night) and spend it on a fine restaurant. So how do you find good, but inexpensive hotels and hostels. Try the lonelyplanet site. It always starts with an inexpensive hostel and then goes up in price from there. Priceline and Travelocity are other sources. The problem with Priceline is that there is a gamble on the location. I don't have any experience with Travelocity.

The back up methods are to carry Frommers and Foders with you and look for reviews.

Traveling west

After three days and nights in Paris, Will and I will rent a car and head west for Spain. Our route should take us through the provinces of Normandy, Brittany and Bourdeux.

For a map of France check out lonelyplanet. You can then link from the map to videos of the regions of France.

Don't get the iphone apps for language instruction, the reviews say the pronunciation is terrible. Instead, download free podcasts of language instruction.
After three days in Paris, Will and I will rent a car and head for Spain. Our plan is to follow a northly route through Normandy, Brittany and along the western coast of Bourdeaux.

Check out to get a map of France and watch videos of the the regions of France.

Don't buy the iphone apps for foreign languages. The reviews indicate that the sound quality is poor. Instead, get free downloads on itune of foreign languages. They are available in many languages and at different levels.

Letter to my daughter Hannah


This is my first blog post. Since Will and I are getting ready to travel to Europe for the summer, it seems like a great way to keep in touch.

We leave June 8, 2009 and arrive in Paris, France the following day. We will be staying for three days and nights at the Hotel Left Bank, barely two blocks from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. We will be close to the Boulevard St.Germain, Rue Mouffetard, and across the river Seine from the old city.