Thursday, April 30, 2009

When in Rome

The mystery ladies, having made their way by train from Lucerne to Rome, immersed themselves in the local ancient tourist traps. We aren't very much different today, are we?

Their first stop seems to be Piazza di Spagna, or The Spanish Steps. In the seventeenth century, it was called Trinita dei Monti after the church sitting at the top.

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Piazza del Campidoglio where a statue of Marcus Aurelius stands. The website says that it is a replica and that the original stands in the Palazza Nuovo. I wonder if this is the orginal.

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The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built in 141 A.D. and was transformed into the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda in the Middle Ages. The ladies are having a look at the gardens.

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Next on the tour was The Coliseum whose real name is Flavius amphitheatre. They also viewed the Arch of Constantine.

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It is amazing to me that the ruins of these fabulous structures seem to be at the same stage of decay as they were a hundred years ago.

Tomorrow the ladies will continue their visit to Rome.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bon voyage, ladies

Sometime in the early 1900's, three women set off on a voyage to Western Europe. I don't know who these ladies are, nor where they called home. I bought this little photo album at an antiques store about ten years ago. I have been intrigued by it ever since and often gaze at the pictures, hoping to find a clue to their story. I'm guessing it went something like this.

They might be related. Maybe mother, daughter and grandmother or aunt. Or maybe they are two friends with a female chaperone. One of them looks quite a bit younger than the others, so I think it may be the former. They set off either from New York or London on an ocean steamer that was part of the North German Lloyd Line.

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The ladies most likely debarked in Germany as the NGL was headquartered in Bremen. This large estate or chateau was the first of their sightseeing photos. Perhaps they knew the owners.

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Their next stop was Lucerne, Switzerland, where they arrived by train.


The Castle of Chillon was the next stop.

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Then the Dying Lion of Lucerne which was built to honor the Swiss Guard who were hired by Louis XVI to defend his palace during the French Revolution.


There are a lot of pictures, so I'm making this a continuing series. Tomorrow the ladies will be traveling south to Rome.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bald eagles, Elvis sightings and the weatherman

DH and I planned a little weekend away to Ann Arbor. That is, I did all the strategic planning and DH just installed and programmed the new portable GPS system in the car and drove us to our destination. The reason for choosing Ann Arbor will be revealed at the end, but for now, just know that it was special and meaningful.

The weather couldn't have started out more perfectly with blue skies and temps in the 80's. It's what we've been craving for months as winter dragged on and on.

We took the leisurely route through the countryside for half the way and saw several interesting little villages and towns. Near Toledo I just happened to look out my side window and saw a bald eagle soaring across the highway!! It was so beautiful. It happened so fast that I wasn't able to get a picture. Then a few miles down the road we drove by a beautiful mosque which was the Islam Center of Greater Toledo.

I took this picture from their website.

We arrived at our hotel, Weber's Inn, which was very nice. Even had an LCD television, although we never did figure out how to get the program schedule on the screen.

As soon as we unpacked, we headed for downtown AA to check it out and to drive around University of Michigan's campus to have a look-see. Probably not a good idea on the first warm spring day, on a Friday afternoon at a BIG college campus known for it's partying. We quickly decided to park the car back in the downtown area and walk instead. That wasn't easy either, but we managed to shove our way through the crowds. We had dinner on the sidewalk at the Parthenon, a nice little Greek restaurant in the heart of the downtown area. The people watching was fun and the food was good, but their website needs a little tweaking. It's kinda, ahem, boring.

We had an early evening as David had just arrived home from a ten-day business trip to Europe the evening before and the jet lag was getting to him. The next morning we were both awake at 4:30. To him it felt like 11:30 and time to get up! For my part it was the usual insomnia and being in a strange room. We waited until a reasonable time (6:00) and headed to the only full-service restaurant we knew would be open at that ungodly hour, Bob Evans. It was the friendliest staff and patrons I have ever encountered north of the Mason-Dixon line. In fact, all the Michiganders we met were incredibly helpful and friendly.

We headed a few miles north to the Pinckney State Recreation Area for a little hiking. When we arrived we found a race about to commence with 500 registered runners!

We did our 3.3 mile hike on a different trail.

The trees and bushes were just barely leafing out due to the slow spring. The only flowers blooming were hepatica

and marsh marigold

It was pretty swampy in the park and the skunk cabbage was starting to unfurl its leaves.

There were lots of these peepers.

But millions of these little swarmers.

After our hike, we went over to the lakeside and a few minutes later the winning runner came through the finish line, a forty-year-old guy who had not an ounce of fat on his entire body.

These girls were cooling off in the very cold water after their race. They got fourth and fifth place finishes in their class.

On the drive back to AA, I spotted a house with a statue of Elvis displayed in the living room bay window! And attached to the inside of the storm door was a life-size cutout of the King of Rock & Roll! And I thought my sister had an Elvis fixation!

We had lunch at Zingerman's World Famous Delicatessen and I must say, its reputation is not exaggerated. I wish it hadn't been so crowded so I could have explored everything in there. Oy vey!

After lunch we explored historic Kerrytown

We were both ready for a swim by now, so we went back to the hotel. We were by the pool when a man and his daughter came in to swim. I looked at him surreptiously several times, thinking I know this guy, when all of a sudden it hit me. He's our local weatherman at Columbus' WCMH-Channel 4 News, Jym Ganahl! Small world and nice to meetcha, Jym!

Now for the big reveal. The real reason for choosing Ann Arbor. To meet my blog friends, Ruth and Don. We had a lovely dinner at the Prickly Pear, some ice cream at Kilwin's and wonderful conversation while getting to know each other better. We already knew each other pretty well through our blogs, but seeing our friends face-to-face was the ultimate treat. Ruth and Don were just as I imagined they would be. Friendly, warm and inviting. Clever, funny and so easy to be with. This was the highlight of our trip and I hope it will be the first of many meetings between us. Thank you, Ruthie and Don, for giving us a reason to return to Michigan!

A little addendum: since I was such a dolt and forgot to take a photo of Ruth and Don, you can find one here at synch-ro-nizing. For my bloggy friends who haven't seen them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When you're down and out

Tangobaby is doing a good thing here. Please read Kelaya's story and if you can help, even a little, you will be doing a good thing, too. As Char has already said, "Follow your heart."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

They're through with love

I got this from California Girl, who got it the idea from another blog and who then lifted it from the ever-popular YouTube. Just had to share. As CG said. Wow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

He floored me

So, a couple of people (my sister Judy and my friend Ruth) have asked to see pictures of the new hardwood floor that my dear, long-suffering husband installed a couple of weeks ago. He was home for a week on an unpaid furlough from work (the first of two). He thought this would be the perfect time to do a project he's been putting off for a while.

When he called our local Ace Hardware rental counter to reserve a nailer (manual type), they told him he would be done in less than 24 hours, so not to worry about reserving it for day two. Well, apparently that is their little way of amusing themselves on an otherwise boring day, because not only did it take more than the proscribed 24 hours, it also took an additional 36 hours. Part of that was down time when he had to take it back to be fixed because of being jammed up. They didn't charge us for the extra six or so hours over the second day.

Now, I don't know about your husband or boyfriend or partner, but when my DH is doing home improvement projects, there's generally lots of cussing going on. Usually because his thumb is throbbing from a direct hammer hit, or he's bleeding profusely from some lethal blade contraption. For some reason, I always feel as if I should apologize every five minutes even though I had nothing to do with the injuries. A few choice curse words are reserved for things that go wrong. He's a perfectionist, what can I say, there are always things that go wrong in his eyes. Like the board that I picked out to go down next and it was an inch shy of the six inches of spacing recommended by the manufacturer. An inch. He didn't really yell or curse at me, but I could see it in his eyes, yes indeedy.

By the time he finished restaining the baseboard and putting it back on and I touched up a couple of dings in the new paint job that I did a few weeks prior, it took five days to complete. But we're happy with the results, we think. The first time we had the family over for dinner we realized why people who have hardwood floors always have rugs down. It's very loud and echo-y in there. I voiced out loud that maybe it would be a good idea to buy a rug to absorb some of the sound. Now the room is only 11 1/2 feet by 13 1/2 feet, so by the time you get a rug large enough to accommodate a table with two leaves and eight chairs, that doesn't leave a lot of wood showing. I got a resounding "No way!" from DH. No way was he going to cover up all that hard work. So I guess I'll have to get used to sounding like we're in a barrel.

He is having second thoughts about installing wood in our living room which is twice as large as the dining room. We're thinking a nice brownish (goes well with the kid droppings and the muddy dog paws) short shag that's popular these days.

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Today's lagniappe: (For those not familiar with Louisiana culture, lagniappe means a little something extra.)

You know the old saying "Look before you leap"? Well, sometimes you need to look before you pour. Especially early in the morning when it's your first cuppa.

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Yeah, that was after I drank the whole cup!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Five wonderful reasons...... be happy.

Snuggle puppy.


Big-time wrestling comes to town.


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Blowin' raspberries


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A miniature pirate invades the backyard. And, of course, there are always chickens and dogs around when there's grub.


About to walk the plank of ye olde 4X4 pirate ship.


Did you ever see a pirate fly?

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Matthew and Nathan messing up the clean door. My point-and-shoot doesn't have audio, sorry to say.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Joshua's second birthday.

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And his twenty-sixth.

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He was a writer, an artist, a musician, a philosopher and a dreamer of big things. There are times when I pick up the phone just to imagine hearing his deep voice saying, "Hey, Mom!". I can still hear the way it sounded in my head. I hope I never forget.

Sometimes I open the spare closet and unwrap the few pieces of clothing that I kept. I try to capture his essence, but it no longer clings to the fibers of his favorite shirts. At first, they still smelled like him and I would wrap one of them around me, hoping to feel his arms giving me a fierce hug. He was so thin, but so strong. I would tease him and say, "Are you trying to break me in two?". It was nothing compared to a broken heart.

How does one let go of a child forever?


My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light

~Edna St. Vincent Millay~

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The grief we exactly the weight of a sleeping child.
~Anne Michaels~

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Dear friends, as difficult as it has been to write this post, it has been even harder to pretend that our son never existed. I solicit only your understanding, so please, no comments.