Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ride, Riders, Ride!

In honor of the start of the Tour de France today, Mannekin Pis is dressed in a yellow jersey.

Friday, June 29, 2012

When in Belgium, Eat Waffles!

After flight delays, painful contortions on the plane that resulted in no sleep, and being told that my hotel room in Brussels wouldn’t be ready for 3 more hours, I dropped my bags in the lobby and headed straight to the Grand Place where I knew I’d find the only solace I needed: a waffle.

Since this was my second trip to Brussels, I knew just where to get the best one: Dandoy’s.
It costs a little more than the other waffle stands you pass every few storefronts, but I liked Dandoy’s best. Not that any of them are bad, especially compared to what we get back in the U.S. The  Belgian waffles there bear no resemblance to real Belgian waffles or Liege waffles, which I much prefer.

Liege waffles are denser, sweeter, with the sugar mixed into the batter. You can get them sprinkled with powdered sugar on top, but there’s no need. They are perfect plain; warm and delectable with a little bit of caramelized sugar that makes them a darker brown than the rectangular shaped Belgian waffles we’re more familiar with back home.

You can get those at the same stands. They’re usually topped with chocolate or strawberries and whipped cream. Actually, there are all sorts of toppings you can get on either type of waffle, but I always skip right over them. I just want a nice, plain, warm waffle in my hand that I can pull apart as I stroll through the Grand Place marvelling that I’m in Brussels…again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dog Lessons

After a week last Christmas, they got this close.

I sometimes watch "Dog Whisperer" and now "Dogs in the City." Our dog Chipsy is fairly well-adjusted, but he does have one glaring obstacle that we've yet to overcome: he's scared to death of my son.

We've tried to figure out the cause. There may be many contributing factors:
  • We didn't get Chipsy until Mac had already left home, so when Mac comes home to visit, he's always a stranger suddenly staying in our house. BUT, Mac's friends come with him and Chipsy isn't afraid of them. It's not all men that he's afraid of. Just Mac.
  • Mac is a big guy: 210 lbs, 6'3" and he's usually wearing military boots.
  • Mac has a deep voice.
  • Mac probably smells like cats and ferrets, since those are his household pets.
But our two predominant theories are that:
1. Chipsy is protecting my husband Mike from Mac. Mac is bigger than Mike, and Mike is Chipsy's master.
2. My theory is that Chipsy subconsciously remembers that Mac is the one who carried him away from his mother when we adopted him. Mac set him in the grass for the first time ever, and then held him on his lap during that scary, scary car ride to our house. It seems like that could have made Chipsy love him, but maybe in some dog way he connects Mac with leaving his mother? (Only a mother could come up with this theory...)

Anyway, we watch these shows looking for clues on how to get Chipsy over his fear of Mac. We've done almost everything Cesar and Justin say to do in these cases, but nothing has worked. It's a shame because Mac always wanted a dog and is very good with animals, but when he comes home for a weekend or so, we spend at least one full day listening to Chipsy bark his head off and tremble every time Mac moves.  We haven't figured out the solution yet, but we'll keep trying.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Noticed, Alice

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.

                                                              Alice Walker

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


To elaborate on my Natural Bridge post, the skylift ride up to the arch was the smoothest, most relaxing skylift ride I've ever taken.

I can't resist skylifts, even though they generally scare me. I'm afraid of heights and that one little bar delicately placed above my lap isn't going to save me. As a kid, at Americana and Kings Island amusement parks, it terrified me to sway across the park, hanging from a cable that didn't seem all that impressive.

The worst part of any skylift/cable car ride? The bumpy seeming-reattachment at the intermittent poles. Just one little slip and down, down, down you'll go. (Not that I've ever heard of this actually happening.)

The ride at Natural Bridge was the smoothest and most relaxing. It was calm and quiet and the drop didn't seem as treacherous as other places I've been.

Descending from the Great Wall

Among the most scary skylift rides I've taken were the cable car to the Great Wall in China. It wasn't just me; the two au pairs from Finland that I was riding with were scared, too. The car seemed ancient, and we'd witnessed for ourselves that if traffic standards were the norm, human life wasn't all that highly respected.

The other scary ride was at Estes Park, Colorado. This was a cable car as well, not a skylift. I think it might have been scary to me because the climb is so high and fast and the cable car sways. It's definitely great for panoramic views, but it almost qualifies as a thrill ride to me -- which is why I don't have pictures. I was holding on for dear life.

My top choice is Natural Bridge. I guess serene is more my speed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Reading Programs

Yay, yay, yay! Our local library has a Summer Reading Program for adults. For every book we read, we drop a slip of paper in a box for a chance to win an unspecified prize at the end of summer. I don't even care what the prize is; I just love library reading programs.

When I was a kid, my mom took us to the library every week. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. At one time, I thought I would methodically read every book on the shelves and started out with that intention by checking out about 10 books at a time. But I quickly discovered that not every book interested me and I was afraid I'd waste valuable reading time on books I didn't like and miss out on ones that might be further down in the shelves; books by authors with last names beginning in "W" or "Z". So I gave up that project.

I loved the summer reading programs. One summer I read 92 books and won the top prize. I would have read more if my mother hadn't forced me to play outside on nice days. (Yes, I'm still bitter, Mom...) I continued participating in summer reading programs for as long as I could.

Now it's my daughter's turn. She's finally excited about reading this summer after many heartbreaking years of not liking to read. And the grand prize in her summer reading program? A bookmobile visit at your house, just for you!

Oh, I would have loved that!!! I hope she wins just so that I can climb aboard a bookmobile in my very own driveway. It doesn't look hopeful. She's a kid who actually likes playing outside more than staying inside to read. She's going to be beat by other bookwormish children like I was. Oh well. It's fun to think about. And maybe I'll get surprised and discover that the prize for the adult reading program is a bookmobile visit, too. Probably not, but I'm holding out hope.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Yes, I have a million pictures of my daughter playing soccer. She'll start her 12th season this fall.

As preparation for my upcoming trip to Manchester, England and possible tour of Old Trafford, I watched the movie "The Damned United." It did give me some perspective on English football, but it was about the Leeds United, not Manchester United, so it may not have prepared me at all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet

Remember this singsong jingle?
America is ... baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?
Add lawsuits to the mix. Lawsuits about baseball, no less.

I swear, sometimes I hate being an American. I read a story in the newspaper this morning about a woman in New Jersey suing a baseball player because while warming up in the bullpen, his ball went out of control and hit her as she sat nearby. She's suing the catcher for $150,000 in medical bills and emotional pain and suffering. Her husband is suing the ball player, too, for lost wages and his own pain and suffering caused by the accident. (Dare I call it an accident??? They're claiming it was intentional.)

Oh, did I mention that the baseball player is 11-years-old and plays Little League?

It makes me sick, physically sick, to think that there are malicious people like these schemers in the world and that a lawyer is representing them and that this is actually going to court.

Not only is this boy facing court and fines; he's also received threatening letters.

I'm not going to go on with the rest of the details. I've thrown up my hands and groaned in disgust. I can't stand the world we live in today and these plaintiffs are the reason why. They've probably drafted their lawsuit against Sara Lee for baking apple pies that make them fat. And then they can join the class action suit against kosher hot dogs that aren't kosher.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Our weekend at Natural Bridge began and ended with snakes on the path. For those who know me, or have read my past posts, this should have been enough to turn me against nature forever. But I persevered, steeled up my courage, and practically ran up the side of the mountain/hill to the top of the natural bridge where I felt sure that any snakes would slither right off.

There are 10 different trails to take, though we stuck with two familiar trails from my last trip: The Original Trail (0.75 mile), the easiest trail to climb, and Balanced Rock (0.75 mile). The paths are wide and easy to navigate. The one exception to that point is just below the natural bridge itself. In order to climb up the few stairs to stand on the top, you must go through a narrow needle's eye between rocks that could be problematic for claustrophobes.

Squeeze through there, anyway, because the views from the top are outstanding.

We walked a flatter trail around the edge of the cliff to get to Lover's Leap where we could look back at the bridge arch. Beautiful, beautiful.

Then we took a different trail down; a steeper trail named Balanced Rock Trail which had so many stairs that our calves were burning by the time we reached the bottom. This trail, with its many-colored stones, a cave entrance, and balanced rock, is much more picturesque. Nature photographers often set up equipment on this trail. We snapped quite a few pictures, too.

But the next day, we skipped the trails altogether and took the skylift to the top. I love skylifts and take them whenever I have a chance. I have to tell you, this was the smoothest, quietest, most peaceful skylift ride I have ever taken. Our feet dangled above lush green ferns and soft pines. It was incredibly relaxing and much enjoyed.

The park also offers paddleboats, miniature golf, a pool, and a lodge. We camped, but I've stayed at the lodge as well. You can't go wrong with either experience. They all come back to the same thing anyway: that gorgeous piece of nature that is the name of the resort park itself: Natural Bridge.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Boy

Penguins have a distinct mating call for each other. They mate for life, and even when they’ve been separated by months and miles of freezing tundra, when they hear the call of their beloved, they recognize that song right away.
The same thing happened to me when I had my son.
Twenty-three years ago today, they handed my baby to me and I studied every fingernail and toe. He was absolutely beautiful; a perfect creation that I couldn't believe was mine. We bonded briefly, then they wheeled him away to clean him up and finished tending to me as well.
I was taken to my hospital room and got settled in. Then, down the hallway in the distance, I heard a baby's cry. My ears perked up. My heartbeat raced. My milk flowed. That was my baby. I just knew it. Somehow, though we'd only spent a few minutes together so far, I knew he was mine. I knew his cry.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hip to be Square

I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a Saturday night in the middle of Kentucky than at an old-fashioned square dance. We saw it on the schedule at the Natural Bridge Park Resort and headed down to Hoedown Island for a bit of knee-slappin', toe-tappin' fun.

We paid our $3 and gathered with about 100 other people who'd come to the outdoor patio in the middle of a lake. We sat on the bleachers circling the 'dance floor,' waiting and wondering what to expect. Out came the Hoedown Island Cloggers, a group of 10 dancers in Appalachian dance costume. They began tapping their way onto stage and showing us a step or two.

After they performed a few dances, they demonstrated the Virginia Reel and audience members moved to the stage to try it themselves. My husband and I sat out that dance, but it looked like so much fun that we grabbed a spot on the floor for the next rotation.

We paired off into groups of four: two couples facing each other, with all of the foursomes forming an inner and outer circle on the patio. We did Kentucky running sets in which we'd "swing our partner, then the other," and do a short dance before the inside couples moved down to their new couple to make a new foursome. Pretty soon the caller started telling us to “chase that rabbit, chase that squirrel, chase that pretty girl round the world," "“round one couple take a little peak," "right-hand across," and "chase that possum." 

I felt like a square dance flunkie. I could barely remember one move, let alone all these different moves in time to the music.

The dances were dizzying. I mean, really dizzying! I spun around in so many circles that I wasn't even sure where my partner was sometimes. But amazingly, everyone else there seemed to know just what to do. In fact, when I complimented them and thanked them for helping us figure out what to do next, they often remarked that they'd been doing it for years. So this must be a regular Saturday-night outing in those parts.

I can see why. It was a cheap night of fun; dancing in the fresh air, kicking up our heels. After the square dance, they did some country line dancing. My daughter took her turn on the dance floor then.

I guess what I learned is that when in Kentucky, do what the Appalachians have always done for fun: grab your partner and promenade.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vacationing with Chipsy was No Vacation

Well, it seemed like a good idea. We took our dog camping with us over the weekend, thinking it would be nice not to board him, and to let him hike along with us on the trails in Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

I did my homework, or so I thought. Pets were allowed, though dogs had to be on a leash at all times. That seemed doable, especially since we were camping in a trailer and could let him off his leash inside. But once we arrived at the campground, we learned that dogs were not allowed on any trails. So while we could bring him camping, he had to stay put. We weren't expecting that.

Nearly everyone in the campground had a dog. We anticipated lots of barking, but that never happened. All the dogs were well-behaved, chained as they were to their postage-stamp lots. On the outside, everything was fine. It was inside that our dog went ballistic.

I must mention that we have an energetic beagle mix who follows us everywhere we go. In fact, he can't stand to be in a different room than us, and that lead to major separation anxiety when we shut him in the trailer and went off hiking. If he saw us leave in the truck, he was fine. But if he thought we were nearby, he panicked and whined and cried and ending up destroying the blinds in my mom's trailer trying to spot us out the window. That was the worst of it.

But it was also not the carefree weekend we'd envisioned. Just like at home, we went off to hike, and square dance, and explore, but felt it necessary to get back to the trailer to check on the dog. And he never did get the nice, long walking hikes we'd hoped for.

So the vacation with the dog wasn't such a vacation. We've already got the dog sitter reserved for our next trip. I think we'll all have a better time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crayons to Computers

Work is keeping me busy. We're moving to a new office and have been spending days going through storage rooms filled with things we thought we just couldn't do without. We've filled dumpster after dumpster with outdated materials, but still had two pallets of books and office supplies that were perfectly fine, but won't be useful to us anymore.

Luckily, in Cincinnati there's a place called Crayons to Computers( It's a freestore for teachers, especially those who teach in inner-city schools. They base teacher shopping eligibility on the percentage of free or reduced lunch programs implemented in the schools. Teachers from eligible schools can go "shopping" every five weeks. Teachers from other schools can volunteer a few hours to earn shopping privileges. In fact, anyone can volunteer. After all, someone has to sort and stock all the donations that companies like mine donate.

I filled my car twice with everything from...well... crayons to computers! I was thrilled to drop it off not only because I hate seeing things go to waste, but also because I'm married to a teacher and know just how much teachers contribute personally to their students and their classrooms.

I don't know whether other communities have similar programs and non-profits to benefit the schools, but I'm glad we do. It's just another reason I'm Cincinnati hometown proud!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Weekend

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

We spent a nice Father's Day weekend camping in Kentucky. That's what my husband chose to do. We went hiking and exploring and even did a little square dancing. We cooked out over an open fire, and walked the dog around the campgrounds. It was a nice, relaxing weekend and was hopefully just what he had in mind.

I'd hoped to post some pictures, but somewhere on the way home from Kentucky, I seem to have lost my camera. Oh well. I'm sure it will turn up. I'll share pictures later.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Only in America

Only in America could we take something as beautiful as this:

And turn it into this:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Little Cereals

What is it about these small, individual cereal boxes that kids love so much? I remember thinking they were the coolest thing when I was a kid, even if we had regular boxes of the same cereal. My daughter thinks they're special, too. In fact, I don't know a kid who doesn't love them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

7 Things You Might Not Know About Hummingbirds

You can see the red-throated hummigbird to the left of the feeder.
1. Hummingbirds remember every flower they've been to and know how long it will take each flower to refill with nectar.

2. Hummingbirds hear better than humans.

3. Hummingbirds have little to no sense of smell.

4. Hummingbirds can barely walk; they prefer to fly.

5. Females lay a clutch of two eggs.

6. 30% of a hummingbird's weight is comprised of flight muscles.

7. A hummingbird's wings can rotate in a full circle.

*All facts gleaned from

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The man in this picture is named Jean-Claude. I met him in Haiti in 2008. He came to the mission with his son to get assistance with food. They took part in the children's nutrition program there.

I met many other Haitian people that day, but none stuck in my mind the way Jean-Claude did. We had a lengthy conversation about the jobless plight of people in Haiti, and I remember being struck by how unfair it all seemed. Here was an intelligent man, fluent in three languages and willing to work, but who could not find a job because there simply were none. I couldn't help but think that if he could just get to America, his language skills would land him a job. It just seemed so unfair.

I still think of Jean-Claude and wonder what happened to him. If I ever go back to Haiti, I'll bring this picture with me and find out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


We spent a few hours down at the creek on Sunday. It reminded the adults of their childhoods, while the girls were living it. My mom searched for pretty rocks. My brother went exploring with the kids, and my aunt looked for minnows. My husband stayed with me on the rocky bank and chatted. I like sitting by the creek, but I don't want to be in it.

Trogs? Something between a frog and a tadpole.
The girls were thrilled that they they found some crawdads and trogs.

Did I want to touch them?


Monday, June 11, 2012

New Favorite Recipes

If you watch enough Food Network, you start to incorporate some of the celebrity chefs' dishes into your repertoire. We've culled a few new favorites from each chef, including our variation on the Goat Cheese/Chicken Pita Pizza pictured above from Paula Deen.

Goat Cheese/Chicken Pita Taco/Pizza (which isn't exactly what Paula made)

  • one or two chicken breasts
  • pita bread
  • goat cheese (she used fontina cheese)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • Kalamata olives
  • Greek or Caesar dressing

Spread the shredded fontina or bits of goat cheese on pita bread and toast in the oven at 300 degrees until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, shred the cooked chicken breasts and toss a salad with the vegetables and dressing.

When the pita comes out of the oven, cover the pita with shredded chicken, dish some salad on top and fold the pita in half, like a taco. It's a little messy to eat, but boy, it's good.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yes, We Have No Bananas

A 30-mile drive, a lactose intolerant daughter, and cholesterol/weight concerns did nothing to deter us from going to the Banana Split Festival in Wilmington, Ohio this weekend.

It sounded like so much fun: a Master Chef competition at 3:00, a banana split eating contest at 4:00, and a Make-Your-Own Banana Split booth. So we rushed to get there and made it just before 3:00, then headed toward the pavilion to watch the chefs create their masterpieces. We looked for a crowd, but didn't see one. Finally, we asked a volunteer attendant where the competition would be held and she regretfully informed us that only one chef had entered, so the competition was cancelled.

We were disappointed, but shrugged it off. After all, there was ice cream to be eaten. So we headed to the Make-Your-Own Banana Split booth and stood in line, trying to decide whether to get one dip, two, or three, and what toppings we wanted to goop on top. (We weren't really fooling ourselves. Banana splits have 3 scoops. Everybody knows that.)

We ate our ice cream and visited a few craft booths, then headed back to the pavilion to watch the banana split eating contest. But again, we couldn't find the right spot and didn't see a crowd. We finally asked another attendant where it was and learned we'd missed it! The contest had moved up to 3:15, so it was being held while we were standing in line for our banana splits.

There wasn't much else to do. A few children's games of skill and a classic car show. The only other thing to do there was eat, and we didn't want to do that. So we strolled past the show cars and headed home.

It was a long drive for three banana splits, but I have to say -- they were worth the trip.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

RV Tutorial

In preparation for our upcoming camping trip, my aunt gave us a tutorial on how to use my mom's RV/camper. First things first, we had to learn how to mount the hitch to the truck and then attach the RV to the hitch. My aunt couldn't help with that; we used the instruction book instead, AND a lot of patience.

We worked on the attachment in spurts. We'd get pieces in place only to discover that we were missing hooks or tools. Then we'd go in search of those and figure out the next step. In all, it probably took an hour of sweating in the sun, but we did it! The truck was attached. 

We got a quick lesson in how to do the pop-outs and the awning, and then we were off!

We took the RV on a test drive down country roads so we could get a feel for what it will be like to pull it. The ride was smooth and prompted us to start gushing about all the things
we want to see and do at Natural Bridge.
After my mom and my husband both took their turns on roads with no shoulders, we headed back to my mom's house and my husband impressed us with his parking skills. He backed up and parked the RV like he was born to it. We debated leaving it there, hooked up, until we leave in a week then decided we couldn't. We needed to gas up the truck and get an oil change. So we started to dismantle the hook-up and took everything apart, but couldn't get the ball cover off of the hitch.

My husband decided that we'd have to pull the truck forward onto lower ground since we just couldn't raise the tongue anymore. It was as high as it would go. So we re-assembled the hitch and were congratulating ourselves on our new skills; we could now do the whole thing (okay -- by "we" I mean mostly my husband) in about a minute. We were like an Indy 500 pit crew!

So he pulled the truck forward about 6 inches and we started dismantling it all again. But we still couldn't get the hitch out from under the ball cover.

As luck would have it, a farmer who helps out at the farm stopped by. He walked over to say hello and flipped a safety release on the ball hitch, innocently thinking that we'd just forgotten to. Nope. We never even knew it was there. Then he asked us if we wanted him to put the cotter pin back in? Cotter pin? What was he talking about?

You know - the pin that locks the hitch and cover into place so that it can't come undone while you're driving. The pin that keeps the trailer attached to the truck. The pin we knew nothing about!

We confessed that we'd been driving all over those back country roads without one. Then we all shook our heads. Boy, had we gotten lucky! All I could picture was a cartoon where the trailer starts racing down the hill next to the truck it's supposed to be behind. Those cartoons never end well...
We might have been done with RV camping forever before we'd ever even taken our first trip.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Here's the postcard that started it all.

My favorite collection: postcards.

I've been collecting them since I was a little girl and my parents went to Hawaii. Over the years I've collected thousands of postcards, filling three shoeboxes so far. What I love most about this collection is that I can grab a handful of cards at random and read who wrote them, where they were, and where I was when they sent the postcards. It's a blast from the past and reminds me of friends and co-workers that I might have otherwise forgotten.

Lately, I've added postcards from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Other treasures include postcards I picked up in Nicaragua, China, and tucked-away spots that other people just might not visit -- like Hamilton, Ohio. :)

I've also collected cards from Finland, Spain, Brazil, Russia, Australia, Iceland, Cayman Islands, Belize, South Africa, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Italy, England, etc., etc., etc.

So, souvenir pennies and postcards. I'm pretty easy to please.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oh, My Head

This is why there's no post today.

If you want to know more about migraines (though I'm not sure why you would), go to

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Little Black Spot on the Sun

We went to the Cincinnati Observatory yesterday to look for a little black spot on the sun: Venus transiting. But, of course, it was cloudy and we couldn't see the sun at all.

The transit was due to start at 6:04pm EST. We got there early and did get a few glimpses of the sun through the observatory's telescope and others that amateur astronomers had set up on the grounds. We got a nice view of the sun with a few sun spots on one man's filtered telescope. But by 6:00 the sky was so dark it looked like it might rain.

We'll have another chance 122 years!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Braced for the Interview

Angie shut off the ignition and checked her reflection in the mirror. No lipstick on her teeth. Her hair was in place. She practiced a smile and watched her facial expressions as she introduced herself. The woman in the car mirror looked confident. She was ready for this. She was.

Angie unlatched her seat belt and let it zip back into place. She grabbed her laptop bag and purse and stepped out of the car. A flutter of nerves racked her stomach. Was the laptop bag too much? Would it seem like the prop that it was? Maybe she should leave it in the car. She reached for the handle and started to open the door, then decided against it. If nothing else, it gave her hand something to hold and might abate her sweating palms.

She smoothed her skirt and crossed the street, searching the buildings for the address she'd written down when she was called for an interview. 341 Main Street. The man on the phone said that she would mainly be a receptionist, but that there were some office managerial responsibilities, too, and some straightening up around the office. That all seemed fine to Angie. The main thing she wondered was whether there were benefits. She needed health insurance.

321 Main. 331. The next building must be it. Angie smoothed her skirt again and readjusted the laptop bag whose handle was getting moist in her hand. She took a deep breath and braced herself for the interview. Then she looked up.

Her nerves turned to dread. She felt her skin crawl and resisted the urge to scratch herself. She wasn't sure  if she could bring herself to open the door. She didn't want to work here, but she couldn't turn away, either. She needed that health insurance.

Resigned, she pushed against the glass door and walked in.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Gilligan? 3-Hour Tour?

In Jason Sheehan's memoir Cooking Dirty, he makes reference to Thurston Howell and it dawned on me: my children don't even know who Thurston Howell is. I don't think either one of them has ever seen an episode of Gilligan's Island. Or The Brady Bunch, or Partridge Family, or Love Boat. Not that any of these shows are really worth watching. (Well, maybe Brady Bunch...) But it brought home the realization that there is a generation gap between us.

Now I know how my mom feels when she talks about shows she watched as a kid and I just stare at her blankly.

I've got news for my daughter: when she has kids, Hannah Montana will mean nothing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kayak Eyes

My husband and I laugh and laugh at the Kayak commercial where the vacation-planning husband dilates his eyes so that he can take in more travel information as he surfs the web for travel deals. We laugh because it's something I might do if I thought it would enhance my travel-planning experience in any way.

I LOVE planning vacations.

I should have been a travel agent, back when people needed such professionals to help them navigate the logistics of airlines, hotels, and sightseeing tours. Of course, the Internet changed much of that.

That's fine with me, since I never did become a travel agent, but can play one at my home computer. For me, planning the vacation is almost as fun as taking it. A friend of mine echoed that sentiment when she talked about her husband spending hours and hours at the computer, researching 'sights to see' and 'things to do' for their trips. He loves it. So do I. And luckily for both of us, we have loved ones willing to go along for whatever adventurous ride we take them on.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spotting Angelina

I would have walked right by her if it hadn't been for the paparazzi.

As promised a few months ago in my Welcome to the Rileys post, I'm finally sharing the story behind the picture I got of Angelina Jolie in New Orleans.

I'd taken a carriage tour earlier that morning that featured the sights of the French Quarter. The tour guide pointed out Nicholas Cage's house, as well as Angelina and Brad Pitt's home. Both were behind gated walls that lead to courtyards and entrances like many homes that line the narrow French Quarter streets.

As soon as the tour was over, a friend and I raced back over to the street where Brangelina live so that we could take a picture of the outside of their abode. As we rounded the corner, we were stopped by a policeman and men in suits who held us back and told us to stay on the side of the street we were on. We didn't understand what was happening until we noticed photographers with zoom lenses as long as my arm pointing their cameras down the street. Naturally, our line of vision followed theirs and then we saw her: Angelina Jolie, walking on the opposite side of the street with children in tow.

We whipped our cameras out, too, and snapped her picture. We were giddy with excitement and were about to take a second shot when the suited men said, "That's enough," and ushered us on. We were the only tourists on the street. It was just us and the paparazzi as my friend and I continued walking down the street, passing Angie and the kids as we tried to contain our excitement.

The same picture I took was soon featured in People, or some other magazine. (I can't remember which. This was in 2008.)  Later, I was ashamed of myself for not letting her walk down the street to their house in peace. But honestly, who could have resisted that opportunity! I justify my actions by saying that I didn't intrude on them personally. They were the only people allowed on their side of the street. Still, I could have let them be. But I was too starstruck to be respectful.

*Please do not copy this image without the express permission of the photographer.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Sounds of a Calming Sunset

Listen to this picture. What do you hear?

water lapping, the clink of metal chain hitting cement, the rush of waves hitting shore, the demanding caw of birds meeting with their group, the swish of water receding from the shore, the soft blub of water against rubber, the distant whine of a motorboat engine, the bass of a boat horn, the murmur of shellseekers on the beach, the flapping wings of birds circling prey, the splash of a dive, the wind slapping a sail, the ooh's and aah's as the sun sinks into the water, your own slowing heartbeat and breath