When in Rome

Last week’s post was about a friend I met in Rome, which immediately brought back memories of my trip to Italy. It reminded me of a restaurant that was so wonderful, a friend and I visited three times throughout our stay.

The first night in Rome, the hotel recommended the local restaurant i Clementini. Upon our arrival we were greeted by a friendly wait staff and escorted to a back room. We dined on delicious seafood, fresh baked bread, and bottles of wine. The staff spoke some English, and we ended up having a great time getting to know them. They were very attentive and laughed right along with us.

After an hour or so went by, we realized they put us in the same room as all the other English speaking people, actually, most of them were Americans. We had wonderful conversations with them as we all enjoyed our dining experience. Most in the room stayed for hours, enjoying the conversations, food and wine. We left having a memorable first night in Italy.

On our second visit to the restaurant we wondered if they would remember us, and thought probably not since they serve so many people. Well….we got out of the cab and they practically rolled out the red carpet. They greeted us as if we were their best customers, and life long friends. We were seated in a prime spot on the beautiful outdoor patio, and had another amazing night. The owner was very attentive as he flirted with us all night long. The wait staff was the same as our first visit, and we belly-laughed the night away. At one point one of the waiters was laughing so hard he uttered in his broken English “No possible work”, they loved talking with us; it was another spectacular evening in Rome. The owner hugged and kissed us as we parted ways.

Our last and final meal in Rome we knew had to be at i Clementini, after all we were their new favorite Americans……HA. Well, in our own minds we were. The cab pulls up and we exit, expecting another red carpet affair, but were greeted with just the opposite. Everyone acted as if they never laid eyes on us before, and treated us with little regard. We were taken back, as one of the same waiters sat us on the patio,  but this time far from the entrance.

He was cordial, but short with us as we ordered a bottle of wine. Throughout the evening the same three familiar waiters did their job, but didn’t go out of their way to give us the same level of hospitality as the two earlier visits, and took no time to laugh with us. We were so confused, especially when the owner stayed clear of our table…..HUH?

During the last half of the meal, we asked one of the waiters what was wrong. Looking around to see if anyone was watching, in his broken English explained their jobs were all on the line that evening, because of us. WHAT? Seriously? What we didn’t know was the owner and resident flirt was married, and is wife had been watching him during our previous trips. She forbid her husband to speak to us, and warned the staff as well. We were sad hearing the news, since we meant no harm, and had no idea the owner was married.

The three waiters ended up telling us more throughout the evening, but were afraid of losing their jobs. One man actually quietly teased about coming with us to America. My friend and I were sad to be the cause of their unhappiness and fear. We quietly left that evening letting those three waiters know how much fun we had under their care during our stay, and wished them well.

If ever in Rome again, I will go back to i Clementini for a delicious meal and beautiful Italian atmosphere. I’ll watch my Ps and Qs if the owner is flirtacious. As the saying goes….when in Rome….this time I’ll be on my best behavior. Ciao



My Frenchie

Do you have people in your life that you don’t see often, but when you do, pick up right from where you left off? I was able to spend time with one of those friends last week. Ge’ is my beautiful friend from France, and happened to be in my vicinity. She comes to the U.S. once a year on business, and we always try to connect. It worked out with our schedules, and as suspected, our friendship didn’t skip a beat.

We have so many fun memories, which often become part of our conversation. I met Ge’ several years ago in Rome, Italy. I knew the moment we were introduced, we would stay connected as friends. We met through a mutual friend, spent a few fun days together with a small group, and haven’t stopped laughing about the adventures since.

Ge’ is one of those friends that lifts your spirit, always has a smile on her face, and an adventure to share. Champagne and martinis always seem to be part of the equation, which appears to be a good idea at the time….HA! After all, we do have our friendship to celebrate, right?!

One of the best memories has to be the time in Rome, when after a long day of work, the group went to dinner to celebrate our accomplishments. We had a delicious meal on the patio of a beautiful restaurant, then decided to continue our evening by walking through the city; finding little hidden gems to enjoy a cocktail and listen to music.

Another fun memory was in Chicago, after a few martinis walked to the closest, and one of the famous pizza places in the city with our two French friends, to experience some of the culture. One of the girls actually fell asleep in her pizza before she was able to enjoy it, but will still deny it today. Ge’ and I laughed about that adventure until our sides hurt.

Treasure the friendships you have both near and far. I’ll continue to treasure this once a year, in-person friendship, and even though we are separated by thousands of miles, we are in each other’s heart. So, to my Frenchie, until we meet again…..a’ bientot mon ami.



One fish, two fish

I love trying new things, do you? While recently vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, my three friends and I had stopped by the resort spa to check out treatments and available appointments. As we stepped into the entrance, there were two spa chairs facing each other with a glass tank in front of each, housing fish. The treatment included the client carefully placing their feet in the tank, along with a couple hundred tiny fish that sucked their feet (Ictiotheraphy).

We were completely intrigued. I piped up and asked, “Anyone want to try it with me?” One friend immediately answered, “I will.” No sooner did she get the words out of her mouth, another friend loudly declared, “Hell no, not me!” She wanted nothing to do with the treatment.

We read information on how the “doctor fish” treatment promotes blood circulation, healthier skin, removes dead skin, relaxes your body, and releases fatigue. The benefits sounded good to both of us, and we made the appointment for the same time, so we could experience the wacky-sounding treatment together.

A few days later we were back at the spa, facing each other, while gently placing our feet in the tank. The feeling was so hard to describe, and we both immediately broke out laughing as the tiny doctor fish clung to our feet. At one point we were laughing so hard, neither one of us was making any noise; and we couldn’t catch our breath.

The tiny fish would dart in-between our toes, underneath, above, and all around our feet, sucking away. It was so interesting and fun to watch. It tickled our feet as they tingled, as if they were falling asleep.

Since the chairs were located right at the entrance of the spa, we had several people stop, watch, and ask questions as our feet were being tended to. This one fish, two fish….a couple hundred or so fish-thing was a fun adventure, and an experience I won’t soon forget. What new things have you tried lately?



Heart of bronze, silver and gold

Last week my nephew Garrett participated in the X-games Snocross event, held in Aspen Colorado. For those that aren’t familiar with the competition, it’s said to be the greatest winter action sport athletes competing annually from around the world. To participate in the games is by invitation only, unless you were lucky enough to be on the podium the previous year.

This is the fourth time my nephew has entered as an athlete, even though he was invited the last five consectutive years. To begin his X-games journey, let me take you back five and half years. Garrett, along with my son Andrew, were at a motocross track outside of Madison, WI. Garrett races Snocross, but in the off-season kept in shape riding motocross. They were practicing before the race began, and video-recording each other with a helmet cam. Long story short, while Andrew was waiting at the bottom of a double jump he just landed, my nephew had an accident that would change his life forever.

When the call came in, my entire family dropped everything to make the two hour trek to the hospital he had been airlifted to. We were told the next several hours would be critical to his life; he had suffered a spinal cord injury. Post surgery we learned he had no feeling from the waste down, and after a few weeks in the ICU, then being transferred to R.I.C. in Chicago, IL. to his final stay at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD, his journey was far from over.

Extreme sports have always been a way of life for Garrett, and all of the men in my family. Racing was second nature and my brother/Garrett’s dad, owns a performance shop for snowmobiles. He was exposed at an early age, and developed a love for the sport. It was devastating for the family, as this was my brother and nephew’s life together.

What makes this story special is Garrett’s love for the sport hasn’t been spoiled by the accident, his determination and heart has kept him in the game. Amazingly enough, he got back on a sled less than nine months after the accident.

I can’t tell you it was met with high-fives and a celebration from the family. We were all concerned about further injury since he was still in the healing process, but it didn’t stop this young man from pursuing his passion. Because of his determination, we couldn’t help but support him. His first race back, which happened to be the last race of the season, he ended up winning bronze in the adaptive Snocross race. My family is well-known in the industry, and tears of joy were shed by many in the crowd that day.

With race number one under his belt and several months to prepare for the next season, he focused on getting better, continued developing a special seat to accommodate his needs, and when the X-games invitation came in, he was ready. His first year he placed bronze, the next year silver and the following year gold.

Riding snowmobiles had taken a toll on his health and the next year he spent it in and out of the E.R./hospital while going to college and living hours from home. The fourth X-games invitation came through, but because of recent health issues he had to pull out. He spent the next five months either in the hospital or rehab recovering.

When he announced he would race again in the 2016/2017 season I was apprehensive as well as fearful for his health, but this young man wasn’t going to let his life be lead by limitation or fear. He received the fifth consecutive invitation to the X-games and he prepared to compete with the top athletes in his class. After being out of the sport for year, came back and took silver.

Garrett has never let his injury define him, stop or limit him from pursuing his passions and dreams. He will earn his engineering degree this spring, and I believe will do great things. He is a champion in my eyes, and has a heart of bronze, silver and gold. The best is yet to come for this inspiring young man.

Love you G-man! #staystrong333