Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas at the White House

I don't care who is in the White House I love the Christmas decorations. It is all so beautiful, I look forward to the HGTV special each year that shows all the trees, decorations, wreaths and gingerbread house. This year in the gingerbread house, they decorated and electrified four little rooms. You can look thru the windows and see the rooms. Very cool.

Anyway here is a link http://www.whitehouse.gov/holidays check it out.


Friday, December 9, 2011

People Face/People Ear???

So, I have blogged before about how I have people face. Please look at me and tell me more about themselves than I really need to know.

Well, I guess that extends to ears as well.

Yesterday I made a service call to Verizon and I got a woman on the phone who asked me how my day was going. I answered that it really sucked and how was hers?

She had just finished a conversation with her mother-in-law. It seems that her husband had not spoken to his family in twenty-one years. Can you believe that? Twenty-one years. Last Christmas I told him that I did not care why he was not speaking to them, he needed to get back in touch with them. So he did and now they want them to move back to Long Island. The currently live in Seattle and there is no way she is moving there. It is so hot and wet in the summer she would just hate it. Seems she is the good daughter in law, the other one does not even speak to the mother-in-law and she thinks it might be because the woman is a little over bearing and pushy.

She really did go on for a while and I wondered how does she see my people face thru the phone????

Rick Perry is an asshole

I am not ashamed to be a Christian.

You don't have to sit in a pew every Sunday to know this country is in trouble.

Gays can serve openly in the but children can't celebrate Christmas in schools.

I will end Obama's war against religion.

I'm Rick Perry and I'm an asshole.

OK, so maybe I paraphrased a little bit.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Marriage

So today the 9th circuit held another hearing about Prop 8. Should the judge who ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional have recused himself because he was gay would benefit from the ruling. The no on 8 lawyers argued that if that was a basis for putting a case aside then a female judge could not hear a case involving women's rights or a black judge could never sit on a case about civil rights, because they could benefit from the results.

The 9th circuit seems to think that there was not proof that the judge wanted or wants to get married and if he did he could have done it during the time it was legal in California. They seem to be leaning towards having his ruling stand. That Prop 8 is unconstitutional, this will be a very big and important ruling. It is the last public hearing before they release a decision.

On the same news report was talk about the current bunch of republicans wanting to be President. Now they are attacking each others morals?

It made me think of all those people that use the sacredness of marriage as an argument against allowing us queers to marry.

I look at Mitt Romney - ok married to the same woman for 42 years. Room to talk, I guess.

Perry - same woman same marriage. Ok, ditto.

Then there is Newt Grigrich - on wife number three - not so much room to talk in my opinion.

Wife number one 1962 to 1981 when Newt cheated on her and reportedly discussed divorce terms with her while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer.

He then married wife number 2 (woman he cheated with)

In 1993 he began an affair with the current Mrs. G.

Reconciled briefly with Mrs. 2 before leaving for good to divorce Mrs. 2 and marry Mrs. 3.

Now I ask you - what is sacred about any of these marriages?

And he is leading in the Iowa polls?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hmm...

From the Associate Press:

Authorities have said several members of the group carried out the attacks in September and October by forcefully cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women.

Amish women have beards?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Overheard today

Overheard outside Lucky's in Alameda.

Two old women standing facing each other. One had her hand on the other one's shoulder and she had a very concerned look on her face.

"They listen to everything you say, so be careful. They know everything."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Question

Right now every night driving home from work it is dark and there is one bright spot that is standing out. Jupiter is visible, very visible. I look at it while I'm driving and wonder

Do the have traffic on Jupiter?


Overheard today

Overheard, again at Starbucks:

My pancreas just can't...

I really wanted to stop and listen to the rest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Overheard today

In Starbucks this morning:

My wife called from Mongolia this morning. She want's to come early in about a month and half. I said fine, I just don't want any drama.

So sad - it's over

Well gee it's over.

Kim Kardashian files for divorce after 72 long days of marriage.

That is 1728 hours

If they slept 8 hours a night, that is 576 hours, leaving 1152 hours

So a professional basketball team plays 82 games and a game is technically 48 minutes long, but usually lasts 190 minutes or 15,580 for all 82 games. 259 hours, leaving 893 hours of wedded bliss. Except there must have been some practice right? Couple of hours a day? About 144 hours leaving 749 hours to spend together.

Now Kim must have had some work going on. I am sure doing whatever she does takes some time, lets say 4 hours a day - 288 hours total - 461 hours left.

Now lets add in the time Kim thought about the state of her marriage, I have read that she took two days to come the decision - 48 hours - leaving 413 hours. I'm sure the interview with TMZ took a couple of hours - down to 411 hours

So if my math is correct (and I won't guarantee it) that leaves a little over 5 hours a day to spend awake together. Since they were newlyweds, I sure hope they spent that time boinking like bunnies cause those days seem to be over.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Privacy

"We are newlyweds and we want privacy"

Guess who said that?

Yeah, Kim Kardashian.
So??? You get that how?

By showing the start of your relationship on your TV show? Boyfriend meets family on family vacation in Bali?

Maybe you get paid to have your bachelorette party in Las Vegas?

Or maybe you pimp out the happiest day of your life, get everything paid for, sell the tv rights and show it all to People magazine.

Or maybe after the wedding you go to New York to start another TV show of your life including your newlywed private life.

Color me crazy but I think if I wanted privacy I might keep things private?




Friday, October 21, 2011

580 Ride

I have been leaving for work early, really early lately. It is staying dark longer, but it is really dark the past few rides to work.

What is really pissing me off these mornings?

Those trucks that sit on your rear bumper and have their brights on the entire time!

It is not like they can't pass me, they can, they just don't.

I don't get it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

iMourn

I knew Steve Jobs. Well, kind of. We have never met, but I know he had heard my name.

A long time ago in a land far away – ok the early 90's in San Francisco and I worked for a big law firm. One of our partners left the firm to go work for Mr. Jobs as in house council at Next. You remember Next, right? Yeah, didn't think so.

Anyway he was gone for about a year when he came back to the corporate fold for whatever reasons. He did bring with him a big black box that he wanted us to make work on our brand new windows network – yeah, didn't happen.

Anytime he (the lawyer) had a computer question, he would ask me and I would answer. A little time would go by and the next time I saw him (the lawyer) he would say something like – hey I ran your answer past Steve and he says....

Sometimes he agreed with me, sometimes he did not.

I finally got to the point where I said to him (the attorney) you know what, why don't you just call up Mr. Jobs first and ask you questions and leave me out of it since you don't seem to believe anything I tell you.

And that is my one degree of separation from the man, the myth the legend.

Rest in peace, Mr. Jobs.

THE STRENGTH OF SOUL

I am constantly amazed at the strength of some people, they seem to be able to take whatever is thrown their way and just deal with it.

I have written of cancer stricken friends before, women I have loved who been handed news that I truly think would cause me to fall down on my knees and weep with dispare, in fact in one case I did fall to my knees and it was not even about me.

I just got home from visiting a friend who got news about a month ago that she was ill, very ill. I wanted to stop by and visit, I had not seen her or her girlfriend in quite some time and I feel in a time of illness if the people in your life don't rally around you, it might just be a sad testament of your life and this is a life far from sad.

Linda is a character, really. She has lived a life that is full of surprises, I will never forget the time she told me about traveling in Nepal in probably the 60's dressed as a man. The stories were great and I loved the courage that must have taken.

I am not sure what I expected to see tonight, but was so happily surprised. I beat her home from work? She is working as much as she can and I thought geez, I want to stay home from work when my hair does not turn out right. But in she came from a job where she is spending the entire day outside – it fucking rained today – getting San Francisco ready for Fleet Week!

On the counter in the kitchen are two big pill containers, you know the kind with a slot for every day. Well these are bigger and badder – am and pm for everyday and then a whole other one with a slot for every day of the month – shit I forget to take my vitamins unless my beloved leaves them out for me – I can't imagine that regime of pill popping.

It all makes me wonder where do these people – Jolie, Martha, Mark, Linda and so many others – find the strength it must take to make it through another day. I am in awe of them, I hope I can be as strong as they are if it is ever required of me.

Linda and Susie Q, live long and prosper because I do, I do, I do believe.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

580 Ride

So, you all know how I feel about mattresses on the highway.

Well, today there was not just a mattress on the highway, it was joined by a dresser and a couple of drawers.

I just gotta say, how the fuck do you let a dresser fall off the back of your truck? Do you just think I'll just put it in the back of the truck, its heavy no need to tie it down.

Stupid moron! Now where will you put your clothes?


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oakland Taj

I am reading an article in Smithsonian about the Taj Mahal, you know big white building in India. It is a monument of love, a tomb for a woman who died giving birth to her 14th child. Yes, 14th child, she was 38 years old and her husband missed her so much that he spent the next 15 years building this big white building as a way to remember his favorite wife. Or so the romantic story is.

The pictures of the Taj that we see are of this beautiful white building, white marble inlaid with precious stones and built along side a river. Well, what we see is beautiful, but behind that white marble? Brick and other building material that is not so pretty. I have always wanted to see it, it is on my bucket list and I'll get there someday, but until then there is Oakland.

There is a building in Oakland, that I pass everyday on my way to work. It used to be The Gingerbread House, now I am referring to it as the Oakland Taj. I am not sure what it is going to eventually be, but I will try to document the progress for you.



So, this is what made me stop. Yes, those are marble sink tops. I am picturing portraits in those ovals, but I did wonder about the little holes. Will they be filled in?? Are they going to get little gems put in them?

Well, here is a portrait.
This is what they are doing with the little holes.

Closeup of the decoration going in the little holes.

So while it is bart that blasts by and not a river, it does have a little garden area and is going to be interesting to watch what it finally becomes, I'm hoping its not a tomb of any kind. But whatever it turns out to be, I'll let you know.







Monday, September 19, 2011

in honor o' me little sister


I will try t' keep me blog up t' date


Happy International Talk like a pirate day


We be seeing you soon, me bung hole (look it up, its not a bad thing)


Corner questions

Well got a message today from the baby sister that my blog is woefully out of date. Pot calling kettle black,, me thinks. So with that in mind there is one thing that has been making me wonder for a couple of weeks.

I travel the same route to work just about every single day. I come off the highway at the same exit and stop at the same lights over and over and over again.

At the last light before entering a tunnel there is a person with a sign asking for money. Most days it is the same guy he looks like he could use a hand and once in a while I hand him some cash.

But then there are other days when there is someone else standing on that corner.

What do I wonder about? How is it decided who gets to call that corner mine on any given day?

Is there a lottery somewhere? You put your name in a box and someone pulls it out with and pulls your location from another location? Is it just who gets there first? Are there first fights over corners? Where does the regular guy go when he is not on that corner?

Just wondering.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A is for Adele

Or A-dell as they call her in Alabama.

My beloved and I finally saw the fantastic Adele at the Greek last night. The show was originally scheduled for the Warfield (which was too small) then for the Greek in June, then Miss A got sick and cancelled. Well the wait was worth it. It was a beautiful night, warm with no fog rolling in, almost a full moon.

We made it to the Greek and stood right at the stage and while it hurt my neck after a while, the show was well worth it..


Her opening act was 73 year old Wanda Jackson, former paramour to Elvis (for a minute), former country western star and currently produced by Jack White of the White Stripes. This woman has been making music for longer than I have been alive and I've been around awhile - sad to say.

She was great in her little bollaro jacket with the pink fringe that moved as she shook her booty.

Show started right on time (give or take 5 minutes) Ms. Jackson sang a few songs, the road crew came out and broke down her set and put Adele's set together in less than 10 minutes and out she came. On time and looking, well like Adele.

This is what a concert should be, the performer, a couple of backup singers and a few musicians and nice stage and great music.

There were no dancers, no crazy sets to run around on and no phony overproduced lip syncing.

She was there to sing and did she ever. She was there to interact with the crowd and she really did, as my beloved said she was cheeky. She was there to entertain her fans and we were entertained.

My only complaint was that it ended too soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to you!

August 5th is a special day. My baby sister was born on this day, I will not say how many years ago it was. I will just say it was a good day.

Obviously, it was summer and it was a hot day that turned into a steamy humid night.

I remember my mother was really pregnant and it was a time when pregnant women dressed in maternity clothes. My mom wore lots of A frame sleeveless tops and shorts. I'm not sure if I am making this up but I recall a white top with green circles on it and she wore it with green shorts. I remember thinking she was beautiful.

My older brothers (19 & 18) were just mortified that our mother was knocked up.

My younger brother was mad because he was not going to be the baby anymore and we never let him forget that he is not the baby.

There was a Disney movie playing at the local movie house, I don't remember which one (I'm sure my older sister will remember) I got to see it one night and the current baby was supposed to go the next night, but the new baby decides she is going to come so current baby does not get to see the movie.

Mom and Dad go away and Dad comes back and I remember him making pancakes the next morning, they stuck to the ceiling when he flipped them.

A few days later they came home with a perfect little baby girl. And she was perfect, except for that little cord that was stuck to her belly button. That freaked me out - gotta admit it. Sorry.

We used to sit around and just look at her, all of us. She was a beautiful baby, she was a beautiful young child, she was a cute girl, then she hit her geeky stage, then she became a beautiful young woman.

Today she is a smart, beautiful, athletic, kind, loving woman that I am proud to call my baby sister.

Happy Birthday Suzy. I love you.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Take part of my liver, please

What does your liver do?

I kind of understand that it acts as a filter for your body. One thing I do know is that when it stops working things go terribly wrong and you are fucked.

My beloved's has a first cousin who has a 25 year old daughter whose liver has stopped working.

She is the mother of a 5 year old daughter that had her first day of school today. Rather than taking pictures of her daughter going off on her first big step into life, she is strapped to a hospital bed with a tube down her throat so she can breath.

Her doctor says he has never seen a liver this bad in a person this young. She is not a drug abuser or alcoholic so they are not sure what has caused this.

I have to ask whoever is in charge: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS??

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Old, Older, Oldest

Do we look at each other the same way we look at our selves?

I see pictures everyday of people that are basically the same age (give or take a year or two) as me and wonder do I look that old?

I don't see an old girl when I look in the mirror, I just see me. Older than I used to be, but not old. At least I don't see it.

What will I do when I do see it? I used to say that I would be jumping off the bridge when I turned 40, well that has certainly come and gone. Instead jumping I went to Paris for a few months, a much better idea actually.

I think of everything I would have missed and am grateful I came to my senses. However, I still wonder what will happen when I really do see that old lady looking back at me in the mirror.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Default?

I am so tired of what is happening in our government. Not just in Washington, but in our states as well.

In California we go thru the same thing every year when trying to get out a budget. They fight and refuse to compromise until the date to have a balanced budget passes and programs stop, checks stop, State workers stop being paid. Until this year the people in charge did get paid while this budget wrangeling went on. Well, not this year. We the voters passed a law last year that our legislators would not be paid if they did not turn in a balanced budget on time. Guess what? They passed a balanced budget on time. Hit them in their own pocketbook and look what happens.

At the Federal level the "talks" going on about the country's debt ceiling and defaulting on our debt go on and on and on. Will those "representatives of the people" really suffer if the country defaults? Probably not as much as you and I.

I see little boys (cause not seeing too many women in on the talks) saying this is my ball and if you don't do what I say, I'm not playing.

I say "fuck all of you"! Make the decisions that are best for this country as a whole, not what is best for you or your rich friends. Those decisions might be difficult (like repeal those tax breaks on the rich, all I'm asking is that you pay the same percentage of taxes that I do) but you need to do it.

If you don't, I say we vote every single one of you out of office, even those not involved in the talks, because you should be screaming mad right now and putting as much pressure on the boys that you can. This includes all of those career politicians, those just elected and a President that I had hoped would do great things.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watermelons on 580

Sometimes you wonder about things. I do a lot of wondering while driving on 580 to and from work.

One of the things I wonder about is how can I take a picture while I am driving.

Why you may ask? Because of days like this.

I was driving west on 580 when I was passed by an SUV that was chock full of watermelons.

The cargo area, full.

The backseat, full.

The passenger front seat, full.

I mean they watermelons were piled up high. They touched the ceiling of the SUV.

I wondered what it must smell like inside the car.

So, this is why I need to find out how to snap a picture and drive at the same time.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

I went skydiving!!!

Today was a good day.

I have wanted to skydive for a very long time. After I broke both my ankles I was under
the impression that perhaps I might have to give up that dream, since you have to land at some point and would my ankles hold up to that kind of pressure? Well, the time has come to put that theory to the test.

My beloved's godson (Skyboy) has been skydiving for a while and has asked us to join
him a couple of times. Last weekend when we saw him, I agreed to go and we set today
as the day.

My beloved, Chief Matron Mare-son and I set out this morning for Lodi, lovely Lodi to fulfill
my little dream. We met Skyboy and Mom-of-Skyboy and boyfriend of Mom-of-Skyboy at the
parachute school.

You go in and sign a two sided form where you have to initial in about twenty places
under 20 paragraphs that basically say the same thing - I will not sue, my beloved will
not sue, I will not sue, my family will not sue, I will not sue, I will not sue, I
will not sue. You get the point.

Then you watch a video about what to expect and then you wait and wait.

My number was 98 and when your number is finally called you go into the gear up room where
you meet your tandom partner - the person who is now your new best friend - the person that
is going to keep you alive. The person that you are going to listen to every word they
say.

So Mom-of-Skyboy and I are standing there waiting to meet our lifeline and we hear one
guy ask his victim, um student, what he does for a living and we decide to say crazy stuff.
Mom-of-Skyboy is going to say I swim with sharks and I am going to be a circus clown. Ok we meet our lifeline. My new best friend is named Brad and he is a really tall Aussie with a mohawk.

First you step into a harness that your new best friend pulls up your legs and you put
you arms thru other openings and then he tightens it around your thighs between your
legs (yes, it feels weird) then attaches it in two places across your chest and pulls
everything really tight, in fact you can't really stand up straight. And then he asks
you a really awful question - how much do you weigh - what!!! what!!! So, I told him
and he did not blink an eye when he told me I was a light one - well compared to his
last jumper anyway.

Brad tells me what to do when we leave the plane - head back, arch your back, arms
across your chest and legs thrown back behind us, like you are trying to touch your bum
with your feet. OK I can do that.

We get on the plane and sit on a rail like cushion with one leg on each side of the cushion
one in front of the other with your instructor behind you, really close behind you and up we go.

I am strangely calm and it takes a long time to get up to 13,000 feet and during this
time Brad goes over the jumping instructions as he is clipping us together in a lot of
places and then says - put your right leg on mine, put your other leg on my other leg and
sit up on my lap. Well, ok seems a little weird, but he is in control of my life right
now and I'll do what he says. So up on his lap I go and he pull us even closer together.
We are attached like a tick on a puppy and I believe he is a little concerned that I am
not nervous.

So now I get getting to the door instructions -

The people on the other side of the plane will go first. When Brad tells me I will swing
my left leg over the cushion thing and Brad will do the same. Then we will kind of walk
to the door, I will bend over a little and he will be right behind me and will will fall
out - ok I am so ready.

So we are at the door and Brad leans over me and out we go. I put my head back, I arch my
back, I cross my arms across my chest and swing my legs up towards my bum.

Nobody mentioned that in the first ten seconds you can't fucking breath and the skin
on your face is moving like it my fly right off your face or the sound. They don't
mention how loud it is, it is really loud. Have you ever heard a flag blowing in a high
wind? Well multiply that by a thousand. Loud.

And then Brad taps me on the shoulder I open my arms and we fall for a few seconds and
he pulls the cord that launches the shoot. We get pulled up a little and as the shoot opens
you become aware of the change. It was gone from very loud the really quiet. Quiet and
beautiful- Lodi is full of vineyards and you could see the long straight rows of green. Roads
are little lines far below you and I wondered how long we could stay up here.

Brad says - hey do you like roller coasters? Yes. Do you get sick on them? No.
OK, lets have some fun. He pulls on one side of the shoot and we go around in circles.

Then we have time to have an entire conversation about his skydiving history and what
do to with my feet when we land. Lift my knees to my chest, put my hands under my
knees and whatever I do, don't let me legs go behind us. OK, I can do that.

The ground comes up really fast, Brad says "knees up", I get into position and we
land quite softly, good thing cause I landed my ass. I had wanted to land on my
feet, but that was not to be.

It was a fantastic ride.

My beloved was on the ground waiting for me and gave me a big hug. The perfect end
to a perfect moment.

Once on the ground I found out the Mom-of-Skyboy, who was behind me balked at the door.
She decided she had changed her mind and did not want to do it. Well, it was too late.
Her teacher pushed and out they went. They landed not too far behind me and she says
she will do it again.

My beloved says she will do it one day.

I know I will do it again.

Now maybe tomorrow morning I'll tell my mother.

I'm just saying...

So in today's paper is a story about gonorrhea and how this STD is becoming drug resistant. I suppose that is not surprising since most diseases become drug resistant eventually.

And I suppose it is not surprising that the drug resistant case of gonorrhea was found in a sex worker.

And in my mind it is not surprising that this drug resistant case of gonorrhea was discovered in Japan.

Recent nuclear problems, drug resistant gonorrhea...

I'm just saying....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

580 Ride

Today I was on my way to work, driving west on 580 when I realized that traffic going east was stopped.

Two women had pulled their cars over to the side of the road and stopped traffic to try and get a dog off the highway. Poor little thing just did not seem to understand that they were trying to help. It kept running away from them, other people were opening doors and trying to grab the dog.

I don't know what happened since my side was moving. I can only hope the dog made it out safe and sound.

It did make me think about would people stop if it was a person instead of a dog. I'm sure we would all stop for a child or an old person. But how about just some guy wandering in traffic. Hopefully I'll never have to find this out.

Jesus rides

We went to the Alameda County Fair this last weekend to bet on the horses. Now those of you that know me, know how I pick me horses. I pick them based on the color that the jockey is wearing. Well, when I saw the name of the jockey in one race, I had to bet that the horse would win, place or show.

I mean come on, Jesus was riding the horse. How could I miss?

Well, I missed. Jesus let me down. He and his horse came in dead last.

Perhaps I need a better way to pick a winner?

Friday, July 1, 2011

580 Ride

Normally I follow Jesus on 580, well the other day I followed the devil.

Devil Mountain Nursery

Big truck with this logo. I loved it and wondered how long it would be before someone launched a complaint about them. Kind of like those weirdos that keep wanting to change Mt. Diablo's name to Mt. Reagan.

Monday, June 20, 2011

580 chat

Driving to work this morning I once again followed Jesus.

I guess things must be hard in the carpentry business because it seems that Jesus has branched out to carpet and upholstery cleaning, or so it said on the truck that passed me by.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

580 bumper stickers

Today I was behind a car on 580 that had a bumper sticker that said:

Do you follow Jesus as close as you are following me?

I thought if Jesus drove as slow as you do, yes I would be.

Stupid on 580

Sometimes I cannot even believe how stupid people are.

Yesterday I was on the highway going to work. I was doing about 70 and talking to my sister on the phone.
No, I am not the stupid one.

A guy on a motorcycle passes me, remember I am going about 70.

These words come out of my mouth: "Holy Fucking god." Yes, I am going to hell.

My sister thinks I have rear ended a truck or something.

No, I have realized that there is a small child on the back of the motorcycle. The kids arms do not fit around the guy. It's little legs barely hang over the sides of the seat. There is no sissy bar for the kid to lean back against. The guy is holding on to the kid with his left hand which means no braking, I think.

But the kid does have on a helmet, so I guess it could be worse?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weiner, Weiner, Weiner

Tell me what is Anthony Weiner in treatment for?

Being fucking stupid?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Hmmm

Has this ever happened to you?

You are walking down the hallway at work and someone stops and looks at you and says:

"Gee, you look nice today."

Do you ever want to say:

"Gee, do I look like shit every other day?"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ring Ring Ring

Just read a "wanted" post in my local free cycle.

Wanted: Large bell to call in kids.

Reminded me of my childhood. Not that my mother had a bell. We knew we had to be at home at 6:00 for dinner or else.

However, my best friends mom had a bell. She lived two streets over from us and you could hear it when she stood on the back porch and rang that big bell. Heads would snap up and whatever we were doing would stop and feet would go running towards the door and she would fly home.

I am not sure we were every out of bell range. Miss Jinny would ring that bell and we all knew what it meant. Get home now!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rapturing for dollars

OK, so the rapture did not happen. Because if it had, you would not be reading this.

Anyway, needless to say Harold Camping, was flabbergasted that it did not happen and is looking into it. Where is he looking? Is there help desk he could call and ask why things didn't pan out the why he thought.

Followers were disappointed when they were still here Saturday night. Yeah, I'd be disappointed too if I had spent my life's savings ($140,000) advertising the end. Or if I had taken my family on a trip to the Grand Canyon (something you got to see before you are called up to the Lord) using my already maxed out credit cards and now had to wonder how to pay for it all.

I certainly would be making plans to put in my claim with Harold Campings church, since his PR guy says he hopes that Family Radio will reimburse the true believers that spent all their savings in anticipation of the Rapture.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Road crap

Well the road home is always full of surprises. Some good and some bad.

Today it was a bad surprise, a mattress, a brand new still in the plastic mattress right in the middle of the on ramp.

How the fuck do you miss your brand new mattress flying out from wherever onto the road and why don't you try to retrieve it.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Child Brides

Too Young to Wed - The Secret World of Child Brides by the talented Cynthia Gorney is worth a read. It will break your heart and make you wish you could change things.

Cynthia is married to a man I work with and I started hearing about this story quite a while ago and was surprised when I opened National Geographic this month and there it finally was.
There was the late night wedding of a 5 year old Indian girl and I wondered if Cynthia thought about grabbing the little girl and running. A paragraph or so later I found out she did want to grab her and run. But the fact is grabbing that one girl changes nothing, you have to change everyone and everything around her.

I look at young girls I know, the beautiful 4 1/2 year old across the street, my 11 year old niece, my other niece that turns 13 in a few days and I am thankful they will never be subjected to this kind of horror.

I hope that Cynthia's article can help change the world.

You can help by making a donation at ICRW's website.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

At lunch this afternoon a woman a little older than me sat down with her mother, who looked older than dirt.

The daughter said "Mom, I'm going to order our usual. OK"

So she orders a bento box with chicken teriyaki and something else.

The meal comes and the mother says: "What's that?"

The daughter said "It's rice, Mom. Here take some and some chicken."

The mom says: "What is it?"

The daughter says with a little bite in her voice: "It's chicken MOM, you like chicken. Eat it"

And she did.

The conversation made me think of how I would act if I was in the position of taking care of an aging mother that does not have all her marbles anymore. I am not sure I could do it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dead

Osama Bin-Laden is dead.

As my cousin said, this is bittersweet.

And as a friend said, bad karma to celebrate the death of any human being. This is just the end of an evil man, not the end of evil.

I have to ask, the man was living with his family and followers in basically plain sight in a mansion in a town in Pakistan.

Someone tell me, how did the people in charge in Pakistan not know where he was?

I heard that the mansion had been built in the last few years and had lead walls.

So... nobody noticed this being built?

What does our government do about our relationship with Pakistan now. To me it is obvious that Pakistan has been lying to us for years about the what they knew, now what?

I am sad today, not because of the death of this evil, but because it brings back all the feelings from 9/11. Helplessness, horror, fear.

I believe that the end of this evil man is just the beginning of more evil deeds.


Friday, April 29, 2011

OK, I will admit it. I got up in the middle of the night to watch the royal wedding. I don't care if anyone thinks it is stupid. Yes, I understand that there are so many more important things that deserve this type of coverage, but I enjoyed it. I loved the pomp and circumstance, I loved all the people out on the streets being happy and excited, I loved the hats!

The hats were fantastic. Hats are one of the reasons I watch the Kentucky Derby as well. There was one that just crossed the line from fantastic hat to fucking cartoon character. Beatrice, Beatrice, Beatrice - what were you thinking. Did your sister or your father that were right next to you say - yeah B that looks fantastic. Will you look back in a minute and think "what was I thinking?" Did you forget the royal wedding portrait that looks like it would fit right in the middle of it?

Another thing. Stop the comparisons to Diana. Let the women rest in peace. I am really sick of the people coming out of the wood work this past week or so with - pictures never seen before - the story you want to hear - etc. If you really had any type of relationship with the woman, respect her and keep your trap shut.

Catherine, Duchess of Cornwall is NOT Princess Diana, so just stop comparing them and let the couple have a life without that ghost following them every step of the way.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scotland/Ireland Last Day

Scotland/Ireland last day – April 23, 2011

So this morning we packed up the car – again – and headed for Stranerer to catch the ferry back to Ireland, where I took my second fall of the trip. Stepped out of the car and tripped and went down on my left knee. Had some really spectacular marks on my knee and the bruise is really starting to look good.

The ferry ride was a little be rougher this time and took a little less time. One thing I noticed was the babies. There were so many babies and little kids, it was fun. There was one little girl that was just barely walking who walked up to me and seemed to carry on a complete conversation with me.

We watched the Scotland coastline slip past, well some of us did, others spent the trip with their eyes closed and hoping to not throw up.

We arrived in Ireland and set course for our Holiday Inn Express near the airport, I wanted to be close the airport at a place that had lots of hot water and would be easy, so I took what I knew.

We checked in and the young woman behind the counter had just moved back to Ireland from San Francisco and was planning to go back to San Francisco in August. The queen behind the counter can't wait to visit her and figure out to stay in the USA. He did ask if I would marry him and I replied if the rock was big enough. My beloved did not think that was the correct answer, I think she was right. Sorry honey.

We had a terrible dinner that night and went to bed early so we could pack up the van one more time and head out.

We arrived at the airport where we complained to the car hire about the tire and were told that they get the story of bad tire a lot, it is a scam. Well, I don't think it was and we will be fighting with Hertz from home.

Our flight from Belfast to Newark was long but uneventful. Customs was no problem and then it was off for a four hour lay-over before our flight.

It was here that we parted ways from Chip and MOC, their gate was at the other end of the terminal from ours. We hugged and went our separate ways.

The trip to SFO was long. How come the last leg of any trip is the longest?

We were met by our driver and taken home.

Now I am sitting on the couch writing the last of these blog entries.


It was a great trip and now off to plan the next one.

Scotland Day 7

Scotland – Day 7 – April 22, 2011

Another early start to another long day, my beloved, CMMS, Chip, MOC and I decided that we would drive to Edinbourgh and spend the night there rather than try to drive all the way to the ferry on Saturday morning. So we were up at the crack of dawn to pack, shower and try and get our luggage into the car. It is kind of funny how our suitcases seem to have expanded during our time here. Things like t-shirts and books and other trinkets seem to keep jumping into them and taking up space.

Annski and Suzetteski are staying on one more day here in lovey Aigas cottages. So we let the owners know we were leaving early and Jessie came down to read the meters. Here in Scotland, they cottage was inexpensive, but we had to pay for our electricity usage and for our towels. Now I have been told that not all cottages in Scotland operate like this, so I think next time (yes, I think there will be a next time) I'll look for an all inclusive one.

So we got the car all packed up – who needs to look out the rear view mirrow anyway, and off we went.

We made it to Edinbourgh by early after noon and checked into our hotel. If you are ever in Scotland, take advantage of the Scotland Tourist offices in every city and most towns. You can find them by the i signs on the roads and within the cities and towns. We were able to book a hotel the day before in Aberdeen. We checked into the Apex Hotel on the Grass Market right in the city center.

Now, we wanted to see the Edinbourgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Holyrood Castle. S&A had been the day before and purchased passes as my beloved and me, they would have gotten us into Holyrood for free, if it had not been the Queen's birthday and her Scottish house was closed to the public.

But anyway, we check into our hotel and ask for directions to the castle. The girl at the desk says to go out the door and cross the street, go right and go up Victoria Street and turn left, go thru a round about to the left and up the Royal Mile to the castle.

OK, we step out the door and this guy that works in the hotel, comes up and says wait, excuse me but she just moved here and only knows how to get the castle one way, what you want to do is, go across the street to those steps and go up them and the castle is at the top.

Oh, ok we say. So we will see it at the top of the stairs? He looks at us like we are really stupid, cause he lifts his hand up a little (he had been pointing at the stairs) and there is the fecking castle! It is huge and I feel really stupid, because how could we have not seen it. I guess I need to look up more?

So up we go to the top of the stairs to tour one of the most stunning castles I have ever been in. It is so well preserved and is just steeped in so much history. We were able to see the Honor's of Scotland, the crown, the scepture and the sword. Long history, spirited away to save them from Cromwell, buried for years under a church, locked up for a century and finally on display in a weird room where you get to it in a Disneylandish line complete with manequins and fake hair.

I could picture people here, living their lives. Walking up the cobblestones, looking out over the land and performing the endless tasks that it took to keep them alive. The fog rolled in while we were at the castle and someplace someone was playing the bagpipes the sound floating around us on the fog. It added a dream like factor to the whole tour. Along with the fog came the cold, very cold wind. We decided it might be a good time to shop.

We then got lost in a bottemless pit of a store that had about four or five stories - all of them underground except the first. They had all kinds of stuff for sale, kilts, sweaters, jewelery, etc. There was only one way in or out. You followed the path in and then had to retrace your steps back thru the entire place to get out. We were stuck for what seemed like hours, but it was still daylight when we made our way out for a trip down the royal mile.

The Royal Mile... at one time a very important street. At one end was Edinbourgh Castle – the seat of Scotland and at the other Holyrood Palace, the home of the monarch. I am sure that living on this street at that time was a coup, now it is really just the Fisherman's Wharf of Edinbourgh. Shops full of cheap sweatshirts and woolens, perhaps from Scottish sheep, but I doubt if they were made in Scotland, which is sad.

As I have expressed in this blog, driving in the UK is an experience. Parallel parking is another interesting experience. There was a spot right in front of our hotel and I did not think I could get in it. CMMS stood in it for awhile before I told her my doubts. Then my beloved came out and helped me get into the space, it was tight but I got in. Try it sometime the wrong side of the road and backwards. Did not like it at all.

Endinbourgh was a place that I wished we had more time in, next time, next time, next time.





Scotland Day 6

Scotland – Day 6 – April 21, 2011

Day six started with a long drive to Aberdeen where we met Vera and Sheila, two sisters that share the same great, great grandmother as my beloved. They grew up and went to school here and took us for a tour around the city and they were able to show my beloved where the poor house had been where the said great grandmother died and took her to the cemetary where she was buried. It was quite an exciting day and Vera had put together a beautiful book of family history and a piece of the clan tartan.

Vera and Sheila were wonderful tour guides and we hope to keep in touch.



We walked thru Old Aberdeen where there has been a university for hundreds of years. Imagine that. We had lunch at the university and it is still a thriving hot bed of students and teaching.

Then we did the long drive back and stopped in Inverness for dinner and then back to the cottage.

It seems like we did not do much this day, but Aberdeen was a long way, how come nothing looks that far when you are looking on the map?


Scotland Day 5

Scotland – Day 5 – April 20, 2011

Today we headed back to Culloden, the battlefield this time. It was a cold and windy day and just a few days after the annivesary of the April 16, 1746 anniversary of the battle.

First you walk thru an interactive museum, which shows the Jacobite story on one side and George II's point of view on the other. They had diary entries from witnesses on both sides. Maps that showed troop movement, guns and other weapons. At the end was an eight minute movie in the round that showed what was in reality a slaughter.

The battlefield today is about half the size it was back then, but you do get the feeling of what went on. They have red flags for the where the government troops stood and blue for where the highlanders stood looking at each other, waiting for the people in charge to say go. I cannot even imagine what must have been going thru their heads.

The kings troops facing what was then the most feared army around.

The highlanders pumped up, but tired. They had been on a forced march the night before to try and surprise the enemy, perhaps the biggest mistake of Charles Stewarts campaign.

Both sides hoping to get this over with quick and they were both right.

In less than an hour over 1000 Scots were dead and during the next few hours the Kings troops made sure that all the wounded were bayonetted so they also died. In all about 1500 men died that day on the moor.

Someone told me a couple of days later that the most errie thing was the lack of birds. No sound from them at all out there.

I found the most disturbing thing to be the thought that all those men were buried under our feet. They did not make it back to the families or to their lands that were so important to them. They are forever buried under that cold and damp moor.

May they rest in peace.

It could be very easy for me to be flip at this point, because for the most part I am very shallow, but here on this battlefield I felt only sadness at what happened that day and at the fact that the worst was yet to come for Scotland.

Next we went to Cardu distillary where they make whiskey!!! Where I finally learned the difference between single malt scotch whiskey, blended whiskey and just whiskey. Not that I tasted any, but it sure does smell good. We took the tour and saw how they make this nector of the gods. I was seduced by the large copper stills, they were so beautiful. Copper is one of my favorite metals. After the tour there was a taste testing where most decided they did not really like whiskey. I thought, it is a good thing I don't drink, because I really liked the smell of it all and I think I could develop a very unhealthy taste for it. I am happy to say that my orders for single malt whiskey were filled.

Then we picked up pizza and Domino's, yes they are everywhere, and headed back to our little cottage.

Scotland Day 4

Scotland – Day 4 – April 19, 2011

Today we were a small group, just CMMS, Chip, my beloved and myself. Annski & Suzetteski went off on their own adventure and MOC staying behind at the cottage to relax and make new friends.

We headed down into Beauly to walk around and see the shops. The had a great hardware store, I guess we would call it in the states. They call it an ironmonger. It was a great place full of everthing from hand blown glass perfum bottles (not local or one would be in my luggage right now) to potatoe seeds for planting. Chip and the ever kissing ass CMMS picked up a set of small teaspoons for MOC because she had been admiring them everywhere we went, so now she has her own.

Then we went into the local haberdashier, where they sold beautiful wool cloth for kilts, wraps and hats. They also had sweaters, gloves and scarfs. Unfortunately, I discovered that I actually have a limit on what I am willing to pay for something and 150 pounds (do the math) was a bit more than even I was willing to cough up for a wrap. What is wrong with me???

We took a tour of Beauly Priory. Spooky. We wondered around and while it was beautiful in the way of ruins, it was not very spiritual but we liked it anyway.



We had lunch at a little deli right on the main street in Beauly, we had ordered and were sitting having a lovely lunch and I was facing the street. The place had big windows and I could see everyone walking by. So, I was people watching and this woman stops right in front of me on the outside of the window because her skirt fell down, I mean really fell down. Slipped right off her body to the ground. I froze with my soup spoon halfway up to my mouth as she calmly put down her bags and pulled up her skirt. She pulled her jacket up and tucked the skirt under her belt, it did not seem to be zipped in anyway so I wondered if she did not spend her entire life picking her skirt up off the ground. She came into the deli and she was still pulling and picking at herself, she was one hot mess. She was quite attractive, but just a little off. Her cloths were not the most stylish, but they were good quality and she had big sun glasses on and her hair really needed a hairbrush. She dropped her bags into a basket full of chips and ordered something, she pulled out her cell and called someone and told them “to get down here and join her now” and sat at a table with her glass of wine. I noticed in her bag she had a bottle or two more of wine, so wine at mid day did not seem so out of character.

Then we went off in search of the Black Isle Brewery, which is down a little (what else) road where my travelling companions found a couple of beers that they liked enough to purchase. There was Heather Honey Beer which is recommended to drink with your porridge at breakfast. This has not happened so far, but there is still time. Although the Feckkin makes a daily appearance.

Then off to find the only winery in the area, Highlands Wineries at Moniack Castle, which turned out to be the current home the Fraser clan and has been since 1580. It was the final home of Lord Lovet, the grandfather of Jamie (if you have to ask...). The Fox was one of the last Highlanders to lose his head after the 1745 because he had changed sides a little too often and probably the crown realized they really could not trust him.

Then over to Wardlaw Mausoleum which is the final resting place of many of the Clan Fraser.


We came back to the cottage for a little rest and relaxation before heading out to dinner at Culloden House, yes THE Culloden House where Charles Stewart stayed for a few days before the Battle of Culloden which wiped out the highland life. The guy at Culloden House sounded a little bitter when talking about life after Culloden, it became illegal to wear the tartan or play the bagpipes or show any highland pride, your family could be raped or killed if you violated the laws. It has been a long time for such a young man to sound so bitter, after nearly 250 years (April 16, 1746) there still seems to be so much anomosity regarding this. The current Colloden House is not the house Charles Stewart stayed in, it has been rebuilt, but still exciting.

Dinner was fantastic. We were brought into a sitting room after being gracefully welcomed, we sat in the sitting room and a drink order was taken and we were given menus to order our dinner. We were brought into the dining room when our first course was ready to be served. It was one of those places where you sat down and already had three glasses, a bread plate and two forks and two knives at your plate. Then the little waitress comes by to give you your utensils for your first course, your second and third courses. I ended up with three forks, four knives and a spoon.

This moment was one of those times that I thanked my lucky stars that my sister in law had been to a class that told you the B & D secret and that she shared it with me. Always remember make a “b” with your left hand and a “d” with your right. Your bread plate is on the left and your drink glasses are on the right. You can thank me later.

We spent about two to three hours having a wonderful dinner with service that was sublime. A good time was had by all and I believe my beloved had a nice birthday celebration.

Scotland Day 3

Scotland – Day 3 – April 18 2011

Today dawned another lovely day in Scotland, blue skies and crisp clean air. I started my day about 6:30 am with a walk thru some of the woods that surround our little holiday cottages. I walked across the golf course and thru a gate into a forest path that lead me up and and up and up, finally to a dirt road which I followed for a while. I could not see much because of the trees, but the ground was covered in these black slugs, from little tiny ones to the largest one I saw which had to be about 4 inches long. They gave me the creeps. On my way back down I meet up with Annski and we walked back together.

We left for Fort George in search of dolphins. The guest book in the cottage had entries that mentioned seeing them in the Morey Firth there. So off we went. Fort George is a working army base that was built out in the wilds of Scotland in the 1700, it was about as remote as you could get, still is pretty remote. It has been an army base, a prison, a hosptial and now again the base for famous Black Guard. The museum showed the evolution of the Queens Highland Brigade and Camaron's. Lots of kilts and it was finally nice to see what an actual dirk looks like.



Then we went to Elgin Cathedral, which is a ruin that was orginally built in the 13th centrury. That is the 1200's, for peets sake. In 1390 the cathedral was burned down by Alexander Stewart, otherwise known as the Wolf Of Badenoch, in a dispute about his being excommunicated, this does not sound like a way to get back into the good graces of the church to me, not sure if it worked or not. Since the cathedral was not a parish church after the reformation it was not treated very kindly. It was abandoned by its bishops and left to be cannabalised for its lead roof and bells. In 1637 the remaining roof blew off the choir and then in 1640 the parish minister broke up the rood screen for firewood. The central tower collapsed in 1711 and it was nearly the end for Elgin. In the 1820's pressure mounted to save the cathedral or what was left of it.

What is left is not much. A couple of towers and parts of other walls and the graveyard. You can see were the columns were and I as amazed at how big this place must have been. Surely someone must have been sad when it was left to rot.



Then we drove to Duffus Castle. The original building was started in the 900's!!! The original was also made of wood which weighs a lot less than stone, too bad that the builder of the next building there did not keep that in mind. The original was built on a earthern man made hill and when they put the stone on it after a few years it started to move. This was an upscale castle it had not one but two latrines, one of which is now on the bottom of the hill at an odd angle. I'm assuming these people moved on to somewhere else after their bathrooms ended up on the floor below them.


Then we went to Burgerhead (the smallest streets in the fucking universe) and Hopeland in search of dolphins, only to be told that they had left and were on their way to …. Fort George.

Oh well, sometimes Mother Nature just has a mind of her own. So we headed for a distillery,which was closed by the time we got there. Well, there are many more.

We headed for home and I don't know about you, but I have not seen a whole lot of pheasants in my life. Well, this ride down a country road filled my lifetime quota of pheasant watching. They were everywhere, the colorful male birds and the plain females. There was also a little sign that said “please drive slowly – baby pheasants about - I did not see any of them, but the adults were everywhere. In trees, on the road, in the fields. Picture the most pheasants you can and then multiply it by 10 and you have a picture of Pheasantville.

Then back to our little cottage for dinner and a few games of BannanaGrams where Chip kicked our asses.




Monday, April 25, 2011

Scotland Day 2

Scotland – April 17th – Day 2

Today started early, again. My eyes popped open at 6 ish and I stayed cozy under the sheets until about 6:30 when I got up. I was able to spend some time reading before the day started, of course with so many of us we did not get out on the road until noon, but somedays you just gotta roll with it.

Found out from Annski that there are all kinds of walks to take around the grounds here and I'll be doing that tomorrow morning.

Anyway, we went in search of Nessie the elusive monster of Loch Ness. We took a cruise down the Loch to Castle Urquhart which is a ruin, since the Grants burned it down in 1650, actually they filled the gatehouse with explosives and blew the thing up. Crazy what some people will do to keep others away from their toys.



It was an amazing place. You could imagine in being whole and how beautiful it must have been. I could also imagine how difficult life must have been then. And you just know I would have been a servant of something, not the lady of the keep as I like to think.


The day was crisp and clear and the water of the Loch was dark and looked very very cold. You really can imagine there is something there and you can't help but look for it with every wave.

After that trip it was back into Inverness for a look around and dinner. We ended up at a place called Mustard Seed on Fraser Street. It was discovered by my beleoved in a guide book and it was a fantastic meal, I highly recommend it if you are ever in Inverness.

Tomorrow Dolphins and whiskey. Stayed tuned.



Scotland Day 1

Scotland – April 16th – Day 1

This very long day started really early we were all up and about by 4:30 am, yes, even my beloved. We wanted to be out of the cottage in Ireland by 5:45 and in Belfast to catch a 7:30 am ferry to Scotland. We made it with plenty of time and drove the car onto a huge ferry, I mean really huge. It took not only people and cars, but big trucks and tour buses.

The upper decks of the ferry had many lounges for passengers. Tables and chairs, bars, internet access. That is where I was able to post all my Ireland blog entries. It was an almost 3 hour trip across the Irish Sea arriving in Stranraer in southern Scotland. From there we (and by that I mean me) drove north the the highlands of Scotland. I have to say the countryside is even more beautiful than Ireland. The rock walls? Not so much.

We drove thru the mountains where there was still snow on some of the peaks. I was amazed at the number of hikers, hiking is a really big thing here and Chip and I have decided to come back at some time to do a hiking tour. On our way thru these mountains we saw our first kilted man. He was standing on the side of the road playing the backpipes in full regalia. Standing next to him was a young boy also kilted up playing the bodrun. I believe they were selling cd's of their music but was really travelling too fast to stop.


Driving is becoming easier. When we were in Ireland a woman told me that the roads in Scotland were far narrower than the ones in Ireland. She is correct, the difference being that most of the roads do not have curbs! Hence nothing to bounce off of if you get too close to the left side. Well, except maybe for a rock wall, since the rocks on the hills come right down to the road. I am feeling more comfortable driving except when I have to share the road with a big fecking piece of farm equipment coming down the other side of the road at me. Don't tell anyone in the car with me, but I did close me eyes once when I met a big tractor on the road. SSShhhhhh....

We made it Beauly, actually a few miles outside of Beauly to the Aigas Holiday Cottages. It is really lovely here, the stone buildings we are staying in are beautiful, of course they are colder than a witches tit, but they are pretty.

We met up with Annski and Suzettski here and spent our first hour getting groceries and complaining about the towels. We drove into Inverness for dinner and I will admit to making a couple of wrong turns on the way home, but hey it was verrrry dark.

The word wee does not come out of a lot of folks mouths here in Scotland, or course we are not really sure of what is coming out of their mouths sometimes.

It was off to bed in a cold bedroom but we had a comforter that weighs about 10 pounds to pull up over us and all in all it was very cozy.

Until tomorrow.



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ireland - last day

Ireland – Day 7 – April 15th

Today is our last full day in Ireland. I guess I could say it is our last day, since we get on a ferry at 7:30 tomorrow morning to go over to Scotland. I am sitting in the kitchen of our little cottage looking out over the green fields, there is low fog and when I first looked out it was a little spooky. Now with the fog lifting it is just another day, the ghosts are gone for now.

Today we are heading into Belfast, where one of the places we will be seeing is the Titanic museum, I am sure there will be ghosts lurking there. I'll let you know.

So we dropped my beloved off at the records office and she was not able to get any information since it did not have much Catholic information. She was directed to another place where she was able to get a birth certificate for her grandmother. The trail might end here due to the fact that they only started keeping records in 1865 and lots of births were not recorded before that.

The rest of us went to the Titanic museum. The Titanic was actually the second in a group of three ships built by the White Star Company. The Olympic, Titanic and Britanic, otherwise known as the Beloved, the Bedamned and the Forgotten.

The Titanic was the largest, she was built about a mile from the pump house and dry dock where she was painted and her propellors installed. The dry dock was huge over 850 feet long and 140 wide, it was a marvel. They would flood the dry dock and float the ship into it and then empty the water out while the ship balanced on its keel and other little things (well not little) to help hold it upright.

It was interesting to learn that the ship was basically just a shell when she was put into the water at first, they loaded her up with engines, smokestacks (one of which was a dummy), furniture, etc once she was in the water.

The men (only men) worked on her for three years and when she was due to be put into the water, they had to take a half a day off without pay to watch it happen. They made about a pound a week, the more skilled workers made a little more and the captain made not even 30 pounds a week.

There were eleven men killed in the making of the Titanic, which is surprising because the working conditions were terrible. They worked from 5:30 in the morning until 5:30 at night all for less than a cup of tea costs today. They also got 7 minutes a day for bathroom breaks, I would be in so much trouble. Belfast became the worlds biggest and best shipyard in the world, that has changed. They now produce wind turbines that are sold around the world.

The ship workers in Belfast have this to say about the sinking of the Titanic.

“The ship was in fine shape when she left here. That's what happens when you give her to an English captain and Scottish navigator.”

Next we headed into Belfast for lunch at Garricks Pub, which was brilliant!

Then my beloved went off the the place where they keep the Catholic records where she found the above birth certificate.

The rest of us took a look at Belfast's City Hall. It reminded me of San Francisco City Hall a little bit. They had an exhibition about the bombing of Belfast during WWII. It took everyone by surprise I guess, everyone thought Belfast was just to far away to worry about being bombed. They were very wrong, over 700 people died in one night and half the city was destroyed.

Then over to St. Anne's Cathedral, which was unfortunately had just closed. Oh well.

Then over to Crown Bar. It was full of cool stained glass and wood, but was so crowed we ended up across the street for a pint before heading back to our little cottage.

Now we are sitting around the kitchen trying to eat up what we can since we hit the road in the early am to catch a ferry to Scotland.

Ireland - Day 6

Ireland – Day 6 – April 15th

We started our day down in the little town where our cottages are, Crawsfordsburn. It is a picture from a post card. Large white buildings with thatched roofs and very short doorways. They have very interesting doors here in Ireland, they have a full wooden door and then in front of it a half door that I have been told is to keep the children inside but still let air and light in. I think it is to keep sheep out.

We visited the only traditional crafts store we have been in so far and we all went a little crazy. I got a local hand woven coat, my beloved got a couple of sweaters and we got a bunch of other stuff for some people and the rest of them did not do too badly either.

We had lunch in the Crawsfordsburn Inn. It was a lovely place with lots of dark paneling and glass. It was a combination of old and new. Some of it worked, like the ladies room with the tempered glass stalls and super duper hand dryer. Some of it did not, like the weird 60's light fixture in the dining room we were in. The food was very good and there was a lot of it, which caused us to wonder if Ireland would be far behind the US in the obesity crisis.

Then we went off to meet some new friends, we are meeting them everywhere it seems. There was Harry, Patches, Figaro and Rosie. You might be thinking right about now that those are strange names for people we met in a pub, you would be correct. We met them at an equestian center where Chip and MOC went to ride. The place gave riding lessons and boarded horses and they boarded a lot of horses from what I could see. I was talking to a young girl that was taking care of her horse. The horse was eight years old and in its previous life she had been a race horse. Now she was being retrained to be a riding horse. The young girl had been riding since she was about eight, she was a tiny little thing and the horse was not. I think she told me it was 16.2 hands and it seemed so powerful. I watched another little girl get nipped by her horse and another bring organic oats for hers. I thought of my friend Bead Chick and her family and thought they would love to live here.

Chip and MOC took a ride thru the fields being led by two young girls and it was a dream come true for MOC and we were glad we could be part of it.

Then we went to explore downtown Bangor which has a lovely harbor and lots of pubs. We visited two of them the Rabbit Hole and Jenny Watts. The Rabbit Hole was an interesting place, there was a little girl dancing in the middle of the pub while her auntie snapped photos of her. I ran into a young girl that had hurt her leg running down the street. From what I don't know, but since she was from somewhere else I thought well, that is going to throw a damper on your holiday, not to mention the people with you that right now are ok with walking very slowly with you, but might not be in a couple of days. It had great sayings painted on all the surfaces, I enjoyed it very much.

Then we were off the Jenny Watts, poor Jenny caught up in the Orange uprising and went to hide in a cave near the ocean and was drowned by the incoming tide. The bar keep was fun, the only place she had ever been in the states was the birthplace of moi! Oh the people that travel to discover me.

We had dessert at this pub and I had something called Pavlova, which I think sounds like a virus, but was like a baked Alaska with strawberries. My beloved had something called Banafee, which is a bananna toffee pie like thing. Chip and MOC had apple crumble wih ice cream.

All in all a good day.

Ireland - Day 5

Ireland Day 5 – April 13th

Today a tour of the Mourne Coast. We were looking forward to seeing the Mourne Mountains, unfortunately the fog did not cooperate. It was a cold and rainy day (for most of it anyway) but onward we went.

Our first stop was Dundrum where the ruins of a Norman castle overlook the ocean. It was a place where I could imagine the lookouts watching the coast for raiders and invaders. Now it is a place of ghosts and history.

Then up into the mountains where we were amazed at the beauty of the rock wall. One might not think of a rock wall as beautiful, but these up the mountains were stunning. These rock walls are reminisent of the unmortered rock walls of New England that I am used to, except the rocks are different. The colors and shapes are beautiful and if it makes any sense, it was the space between the rocks that I found most amazing. The walls look delicate, but are far from it. MOC had a desire to be photographed in front of one of these spectacular art pieces and we obligied. Maybe I'll get a picture in at some point.

So we drove down a lot of little tiny roads, where thankfully I did not meet much traffic while driving thru the Silent Valley. We maintained our silence during this part of the trip in solidarity of the Valley. Yeah, that last all of about 10 minutes.

When I came to a stop sign and decided to go left I was asked by my beloved why was I going left? I took one had off the steering wheel, pointed in the distance and said “castle”. And off we went to Green Castle. This was also a lovely ruin, unfortunately we could not get very close to it since the gate was locked and we are trying to be polite American's.

I must say that everyone we have met so far has been wonderful, except for those people that don't pull to the right when we are passing on the road, but then again, we have not really met them,I have just been playing chicken with them.

We drove threw Newcastle now a resort town. I remember my mother having a saying of some sort about Newcastle. “Like bringing coal to Newcastle?” I'll have to remember to ask her.

Anyway, after a long day of driving we ended up back in Killyleagh at the Duffern Arms for another pint or maybe an entire bottle of Feckin whiskey where we ran into some of our new friends then back to Bangor for some different tasting Indian food and to learn that the heat had not been on in the cottage the entire time we had been there. It sure is much more comfortable in the mornings with the heat on. Go figure.

Ireland - Day 4

Ireland – April 12th – Day four

Day four dawned a little overcast and chilly, we decided to stay a little closer to home today and headed off to Grey Abbey to see Mount Stewart House. We drove into Grey Abbey not expecting an Abbey. But there it was, a ruin of an old abbey on the side of the road with a graveyard full of headstones at odd angles. As I walked thru it I kept saying “sorry” as I stepped on people.

There is something about ruins of spiritual places, I sometimes think I can feel the presence of the people that worshipped there. I do wonder what happened to them and the places. Do they just become too old to maintain? Did they fall out of favor and were just left to rot? As far as ruins go, this place was beautiful.

It did have a creep factor to it as well, due to the crows in the trees that made lots of noise.

There was also a litle church up on the hill above it that was lovely. Locked so we could not go inside, but lovely none the less. Across the road was a field full of what else? Sheep.

OK, we had been wondering why all the sheep had paint on the them. So being a person who strives to get answers to the unknown I asked our hostess Ann. It seems that they paint the rams chest with a certain color and them let them out into the fields with the girl sheep. Once the ram has done its deed the girl sheep he does it with gets marked on their backs from the paint on his front. The farmers then know what ram did what sheep and that lambs will probably result from the union.

Any way back on the road. It was lunch time and since we were already in a town we went to lunch there. First we went to a little tea shop, where in addition to there not being much on the menu that a vegetarian would eat the woman running the place had very dirty fingernails that freaked my beloved out, so we left to find another place. We went into a little coffee/tea/lunch place across the street and had a lovely lunch after CMMS was told that the first two things she selected we no longer available. There was as top at a phramacy where my beloved found a cute little pharmacist.

Then back on the road to our original destination, Mount Stewart House. The original house was built in the 1700's and parts of that house still exists. You can see it in the floors, the wood floors in the oldest part of the house were amazing. Along with the plaster work of the ceilings and the chair rails around some of the rooms. The family has a long history and one of their most lovely was Marie (pronounced Mary). She was the only child of her parents that was raised in the house so her parent's left this house to her. In addition to the house were gardens, beautiful gardens. Daffodils are a big thing here in Ireland, you see them everywhere and Mount Stewart House gardens were no exception. Rhodadendrons and camillias and azalias were everywhere and you could tell that someone put a lot of their own heart and soul into this garden. We did not get up to the lake (yes, they had their own lake) but I am sure it was lovely. Now even though the house is now part of the national trust, Lady Marie's daughter Lady Hope still has private apartments in the house and was in residence while we were there. She did stick her head out of a door and went right back in when she saw us in the hall way. She lives full time in Venice, how sad for her.

We went up and down a beautiful staircase that was designed by an architect in London that never came to the house. He designed the staircase and had it built by local craftsmen, who followed his design to the letter. Unfortunately when they were finished, it was off center from the door at the bottom of the stairs. Just a little reminder to always measure twice and cut once or maybe take the time to come the wilds of Ireland when you are working on a project here. You think????

Chip, CMMS and I were the only ones in our tour and our little tour guide was wonderful and we were very happy we took the time to come to Mount Stewart House.

Then back to our little home away from home for a nice pasta dinner and a wam bed.