Saturday, April 30, 2011


The week before Easter we drove up to Bar Harbor, Maine.
It was exactly what we needed.
Over the next few days I’ll be posting photographs and a video.

Shore Path, looking over Frenchman Bay to Sheep Porcupine Island.

Chuck watching the waves crash at Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park

They Did It Up Brown!

There seemed to be two major camps in advance of the Royal Wedding. Either you were eagerly anticipating the event or you were seeking a complete media blackout until the couple was off on their honeymoon. I fell into the first camp. Unlike many here in the States, I did not set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. and have tea and scones at the ready as the festivities began. But the first thing I did upon awakening was find the best television coverage I could. I had hoped nothing untoward would mar the day. I had hoped that Kate’s dress would be stunning and completely unlike Will’s late mother’s gown. I had hoped that from start to finish the entire wedding and reception would have all the pageantry required, without tipping over into insensitive excess. Lastly, I had hoped that the vows would go smoothly, simply without the tangling of the order of names which had always stood out for me as such a troubling omen for Diana and Charles.

I was rewarded on every count. Most importantly, all the sincere romantic bits put me in mind of every other beautiful wedding I have ever attended - including when Chuck and I got married in our tiny living room almost twenty years ago! Will and Kate looked both happy and excited, while also seeming wonderfully settled and at ease with one another. I particularly loved all their quiet little exchanges. The dress was perfectly fabulous. The vows were lovely with nary a misstep. Their two kisses on the balcony at Buckingham Palace were certifiably adorable. The best surprise was Will and Kate driving off in that gorgeous Aston Martin Volante with Will at the wheel. The cherry on top? The fact that the Volante runs on E85 bioethanol, made from "English wine wastage"!

There are many anti-royalists in Great Britain and beyond. As an American, whose revered founding fathers threw off the crown, I have little right to speak. But it’s my blog so I shall! Without the Royal Family, without all of the trappings of the monarchy, Great Britain would be diminished. We give Great Britain all due credit for the seeds of our democracy and our jurisprudence system. But over the last century, Great Britain’s global influence has evolved and its “holdings” have decreased. If the British monarchy were abolished, Great Britain would eventually become just a unique political structure; England just another country. Despite all of the Royal Family’s occasional shenanigans and embarrassments, they continues to convey a valuable cachet outside of the realm. And I have to believe that cachet consistently translates into tourist cash.

That concludes the editorial portion of this post!

I am very happy that we were witness yesterday to such a delightful, charming and beautiful wedding. I wish the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Cambridge every happiness. When the day comes that William becomes King, I hope that they serve sensibly and consciously; with the same grace, good humor - and environmental friendliness they showed yesterday!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Our grandniece, Isabella Rose, was born on August 5, 2010 after just 26 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 pound, 6 ounces / .62 kilograms and a wee 12 inches long. Since then she has been loved fiercely and wonderfully by her parents. Al and Carrie have cared for her with tenderness, skill and grace. Nurses and doctors at the NICU brought every possible resource, coupled with decades of collective experience, to bear so that each medical challenge was overcome. Izzy went home from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving. Until just recently she was allowed to venture out only for visits to the pediatrician and other medical specialists. But as cold and flu season waned and her amazing growth and progress continued, Isabella was given the green light to go out in public.

First it was a stroller ride and walk in her parents’ arms down to the water’s edge on a warm and sunny day. Then an excursion to a store or two and a couple of visits to family homes. Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was her coming out party. A lucky thirteen of her “village” gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, Rhode Island for an Easter brunch and celebration of Isabella Rose. The star of the day now weighs 13 pounds / 5.9 kilograms and is 25 inches long! She was good as gold and wide eyed as she took in all the sights and sounds around her - including a rather large Easter Bunny!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gut Check

We all know we have one of four blood types. (Chuck’s is B positive - natch!) but did you know we have gut bacteria types? As reported in a tantalizing New York Times article, scientists say that our enterotype bacteria sorts us into three distinct types. Who knew? In the brief but fascinating article by Carl Zimmer, we learn that the investigators speculate that “the guts, or intestines, of infants are randomly colonized by different pioneering species of microbes”. Not only is this cool, but it could lead to much more specific treatments for illnesses or precise prescribing of medicines and supplements..

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Up Down & Out

When I watched the first episode of the new “Upstairs Downstairs” on PBS, my interest was piqued. It was no “Downton Abbey”, but it was engaging and enjoyable. Sunday night I tuned in for the second of the three episodes and was very disappointed. The first hour was a bit rushed but the second felt like a badly edited Cliff’s Notes. Was this a budget problem? Could they not afford another half hour’s worth of filming and some exposition? By the end of the second hour I felt as if the writers and producers had nearly as many hours worth of stories as the original 68 episodes in the 1970s, but they felt compelled to cram them into three hours. And of the storylines presented, all deserved more attention.

I’ll give Upstairs Downstairs the final hour next Sunday. But if they bring us another incarnation in 2012, I will be hard pressed to return to Eaton Place.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Silence Is Golden

I’ve written previously about our adventures with our new washer and dryer. I continue to adjust and almost, yes, almost like using the darned things. One problem we hadn’t anticipated was “water hammer”. The new high-efficiency, front loader washer calls for water repeatedly during the wash and rinse cycles. The old top loader just filled up the tub once for each cycle; sloshed about and spun down. The repeated sudden start-stop of the water led to a terrible slamming of the pipes which could be felt throughout this very old house. It didn’t happen every time, but often enough that it worried us.

Chuck did some research and headed off to our local hardware store. Coming up empty, he moved on to Home Depot. Sure enough they had what we needed. It’s called a “Mini-Rester Water Hammer Arrester” with a washing machine connection, manufactured by Sioux Chief. Chuck installed one on the cold water side and one on the hot water side. The first load of laundry I ran after Chuck had finished his work, I kept poking my head into the laundry room because I was convinced the washer had stopped running!

Add in the warmer weather we have been having which means I can get back to hanging laundry on the line and I am a significantly happier homemaker!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Three Weeks

It was three weeks ago today that I had Mohs surgery just above my right eyebrow. Chuck and I are astonished at how well the wound has been healing. If you look at it closely or in bright light from a raking angle, you can see the outline of the teardrop shaped incision. The first few days after I stopped wearing a bandage it looked like I might have fallen and scraped the area. But now it is just a little red; not screaming “Surgical Reconstruction Zone”!

While keeping it bandaged, I used Neosporin triple antibiotic ointment on it. Since it has been uncovered, whenever I am out and about in public I use a thin coating of Aquaphor to keep it moist. But when I am at home I apply Herbal AloeForce Skin Gel. The Aquaphor is a completely clear petrolatum product. The Herbal Aloe Force is non-greasy and dark brown in color. Both keep the area moist and protected, but the Herbal AloeForce dries out sufficiently on the surface so that I can sleep with it on and not have it rub off on my pillowcase.

What I went through those first few days was decidedly unattractive and uncomfortable. Back then I assumed I would need to make peace with a fairly prominent scar - not quite like a Heidelberg Dueling Scar, but noticeable natheless! Instead, I am already completely unselfconscious in public. And, unlike when I was wearing a bandage, I have seen nary a soul glance up at the evidence of my recent Mohs adventure.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Let’s Hear It For The Boys

My sister Gail asked me about some of the great male actors. She listed Cary Grant, Russell Crowe, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. There are terrific actors and there are heartthrobs. Occasionally you get both in one package. Cary Grant is an excellent example of the total package! But some actors draw you in, catch you up in their character; the story and and draw you into the film. Here’s my list of the guys from an earlier era whom I love to watch:

William Powell
Jimmy Stewart
Humphrey Bogart
Gregory Peck
William Holden
and yes,
Cary Grant