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Tina_Black over there.  I lucked out -- saved the username and password so I actually managed to log on.

50 Years

So I flew to NJ for the 50th Reunion of the Class of 1966.  I went out on Wednesday, picked up a rental car, and went to my sister Pat's house.  She, her fellow John and I went to the big diner for dinner.  Their area has quite a few diners.  When we were kids we never went out to eat -- and I mean never.  The only place in NJ I had anything was at the Red Bank diner for dessert after a show, or an occasional ice cream stand, like the Carvel in Little Silver -- never anyplace else.

I was stunned that a bison burger was only a bit over 6.00 -- they are quite a bit more here.

John was so nice -- he made a Welcome Home sign for me and hung it over the entrance to the house, and he got me flowers to celebrate.  I had to leave the flowers with Pat, but they were beautiful and thoughtful.

The next day, John and I went out for breakfast while Pat went to work.  She decided to come home before we left for the Monmouth Museum, where there was a retrospective showing of abstracts our brother Lewis had done.  So we went there and met up with our sister Denise to look at the art.  All the work of getting the show ready had been done by Denise and her husband Bruce.  They did a really good job of setting it up. We went back home for awhile, then met Denise again for dinner at the Olive Garden.

The next day I had breakfast with John again, then he led the way to the Eatontown Sheraton, where the reunion was being held.  I connected with Brad Cameron and his friend Bill Blassingham, and we went to lunch with Patty Heenan and her husband Mike.  That was very interesting -- I had occasionally been reading about them on Facebook, and it was fun to have lunch with them.  Brad wanted to go to the art show, and Patty and her husband decided they would go as well, so the five of us did Lew's art show.  He was very talented.  People are stunned when they find out there are hundreds more paintings that are not in the exhibit.

We went back to the hotel for the Meet and Greet, where all the present classmates gathered in the bar area to say hello and talk.  It was great to see so many folks.  I don't think I'll list all of them here, but for the first reunion ever I spent quite a bit of time reconnecting with Lois Caruso.  She and I were friends at age 4, and stayed together doing everything until we got to 7th grade, at which time our social circles widened considerably. That evening I carefully refrained from drinking alcohol, because the gastric bypass surgery made me very prone to instant drunkeness -- so I don't do that.

Saturday the committee had called a beach day, but instead I went out to Monmouth Park race track with Marghi Markham and Laura Zeisel and their husbands.  It was fun to watch the horses, and my friends put down small bets which they handily won.  Back at the hotel I went and ordered a pizza, and I decided to try a drink.  Classic Irish Coffee, and it wiped me out immediately.  The pizza was perfect -- mushroom and bacon -- and I took the leftovers up with me.  I set my alarm clock and laid down, and when it went off it was time to dress for the dinner.  They did a lovely job.  Again I won't visit an entire roster of people who were there, though I posted lots of them on Facebook.  And I did get to meet Doug Haneline's girlfriend.  He said I was one of the few to meet both her and his late wife.  I came back with the fact that the breakfast we had in Lawrence he got to meet two of my husbands, and since he came to my original wedding, he had met all three.  Silliness.  I had a very good time.

I packed to go home and I knew I could not abandon the perfect pizza, so I took the plastic bag out of the closet and folded the pizza up to fit in my purse.  As I write this I am eating the last of it, reheated in a frying pan for three minutes so it's perfect once again.

The next day I left at 6 am to get to the airport, and a good thing.  The GPS tried to take me to PA, so I pulled into a strip mall and used the GPS in my phone to get to the airport.  That place is enormous, and I finally got a chair ride out to my gate, which was at the far end of the universe and downstairs.  Ah, how nice, the airplane seat belt fit without an extender, and I got back to KC where Paula Murray picked me up from the airport.

Needless to say, I am still tired -- it was lots of fun, and it felt like I never stopped.

Very Disconcerting

I have found lately that the rhythm of books and the rhythm of my reading have fallen out of step.  A few paragraphs and I fall asleep or put the book down.  I have 2 or 3 going at once, and it is happening to every one of them.

Normally I've sailed through books with no pauses between threads, no hesitation  that makes me put it down, enough attention to zoom through it from start to finish.

Right now that is not even happening on a re-read.

I've already had a doctor tests me for a failing memory.  I scored so high the person giving the test was shocked.  But I wonder -- if your IQ is 160 and it drops to 140, what would this test say? I'll just bet it would show you as normal, and probably at full capacity.


One of the few things that I can freely eat is jello.  Raspberry orange is the best.

My cruise was an unmitigated disaster -- I caught a very persistent norovirus and spent 5 of the 7 days in quarantine.  Went nowhere, did nothing, watched bugs cartoons, cooking channel, the bow camera...and read books.  Otherwise, sleeping was the best thing.  Food was limited to chicken broth (after I called the hospital and begged them to put it on the menu!), rice, toast, jello, cranberry juice, and crackers. I could not face the chicken.  Too sick to think of chicken on toast.

I made it home and hit a recurrence.  The CDC says this is contagious for 2 weeks AFTER it is over, which will take me to 2/24.  Such fun.

I think I will have more jello.

Oh Yes, Oh Yes

I am finally getinng serious about organizing for my cruise.

Since forever, the bucket list has been led by "Spend the second week in February in the Bahamas."

I will do that exact thing in 2017 -- this year it will be the first week of February in the Western Caribbean."  I finally got serious about preparing, and printed out my airline ticket info, hotel reservation, ship luggage tags, and ship schedule.

I went on a major hunt and found the alternate bathing suit.  I  have the pants packed, the shirts lined up, a tree book in the suitcase (though I may move it) and have a short list still in mind to pack.  I will be done with that days before I leave, because there is no way I would do this stuff last minute. Besides, I have enough clean clothes to last all the time between. Waste not, etc.

The only things on my tour list are reef sightseeing in a glass bottom boat, and a visit to Aztec ruins.  I am sure there will be others I can hook up with if it suits me, but I like to limit tne number of formal tours I go on.  I did two in Alaska, and that was the right number ... we went out shopping with no guide, and it was ok.  I've been to places that have no English before -- I'll cope.  American Express cards are good in places that don't use dollars. Right now I don't particularly have any shopping objectives.  That may change.  We'll see.

Other Years

Even in the times when there was a huge spread, I used to limit my Thanksgiving dinner to a single plate --  and no seconds even if something was incredible. I have, in my life, spent a lot of times with too much weight.  The years of huge dinners, I was pretty average, but knowing how easy it was to let that go, I always did Thanksgiving Restraint.

Other years?  One paticular year Thanksgiving was the day I was released from the hospital after a hysterectomy and bladder repair, plus whatever else had to be done.  John Daniel Taylor, my perpetual hero, picked me up at the hospital and took me to get prescriptions -- which was at the far end of town because it was a holiday.  Then he took me to his house, sat me in a chair, and presented me with a tray of a complete Thanksgiving dinner.  He also declared that I did not look well enough to go home, so I was staying with him and Pati until I improved.

     Other years we did go out -- Nichols lunch used to have a pretty good fixed price Thanksgiving dinner. But I always kept my turkey tucked away. Nowadays I just go with a half of a fresh turkey breast -- this keeps me from getting delusions about how much I can eat. Today I probably had about a cup of food, and it was more than enough.

And it goes....

Today is the fall equinox -- and of course the season's change has been upon us already with darker mornings.

I retired from my Federal job about 3 weeks ago.  I spent a week at home, then went on an Alaska cruise.  Now I am spoiled forever -- about day 6 of the cruise I started wondering if I could afford to just stay on the ship.  It was wonderful. Mostly the motion was just fine, and the food was world class, even though I mostl often skipped dessert in favor of meat, veggies, eggs and fruit. Somehow, those things were just better than they ever have been.

I brought very few things back with me. One was an ulu knife -- which I promptly nicked a finger with.  It is very sharp, and mine has caribou antler for a handle and a stand.  Since the caribou shed their antlers, the resource is renewable.  Another was a necklace.  Mammoth tusks and bones wash up on Alaskan shores from animals that died 10,000 to 100,000 years ago.  The native people are allowed to collect this ivory and work it.  So I have a Mammoth Ivory whale tail  on a 14 ct gold chain,  It is very graceful, especially compared to the commercial efforts that were everywhere -- beautifully curved and very polished.

Food that came back -- flaky smoked salmon and maple fudge, both unopened so far. The kids from work kept telling me I had to have a party.  Maybe someday.  My cleanup has been terribly slow starting.

But I did apply for a job on my last day of work -- we'll see whether I get it.
Thought for the day: You do not have a god-given right to go through life without ever being offended. All this pseudo-sensitivity is out of hand. Someone whose mission is to control everyone so no one will be offended really needs to be put in a corner with a copy of Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron."

You realize that one of the arguments for discriminating against gays is that their behavior/existence offends a segment of the population.  People who think it is a choice bewail this "choice" of others -- even when it is inherent rather than something one can "choose". And all that offense gathers into bullying, violence, and attempts to control others.

If, in an audience, 25 people are having a good time and one person gets offended -- WHY should everyone else cater to a single person who is offended? -- especially when no one is the butt of racial, religious, or orientation "humor"? Why should little rule-freaks rain on the life of the majority when the sole issue is the hyper-sensitivity of being offended?

I am SO tired of all the whining.

Soup again

It has been a long time since I made soup.  Since I had a chicken carcass I put it in a crock pot overnight.  Today I fished out the chicken (put into the refrigerator for later separating) and dropped a load of vegetables into the pot -- half a bag of cabbage/carrot, a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, some chopped onion. and a can of pigeon peas.  The vegetables in the mix are all relatively low in carbohydrates.  The resulting soup was a bit bland, so I added a pinch of Garam Masala, some oregano, and some garlic salt.

I have to remember to get some Mrs Dash for the table.  I usually use it when making veggie soups, but I could not find it.  The above mix definitely made a tasty combination, and if I never get around to trying to make Lamb Saag, at least the Garam Masala will have a great use.


I think I've read enough

to have formed an opinion. My top choice is to leave the Hugo selection rules alone, because people who like to make trouble will eventually get tired of shelling out the poll tax.

There are, however, two proposals that are potentially on the table for modifying the nominees for a Hugo.

The first is a 4/6 ballot, one with six slots for which you can nominate 4 titles.  This would ensure that any slate would have to get its voters to split their choices to get ballot coverage.  I'm not sure I like it, because to me it would ensure 4 rabid slots and two of the usual sort, and the point of climbing all over specific, pre-selected things would become a norm -- not a pretty one, either.

I prefer the expanding ballot option.  This is where the ballot expands to match slate choices with an equal number of traditional picks.  Do it this way: let the slates do their worst.  When there are 5 choices with 150 ballots all alike (or 200, or whatever regrettable number), add the 5 titles after the blocked choices to expand the ballot.  No need to do something so crude as put an asterisk on the block choices -- they will have had to make plenty of noise to get that block of votes.

Somehow, I can't see a work obsessed with guns and ammunition sizes as being Hugo material.  Sorry guys.  I read that sort of stuff along with everything else I chomp down, but it will never be Hugo material, even if all five slate choices are so inclined. 
Today I learned tht all those pods hanging off the redbud trees in my yard contain EDIBLE seeds!  The blossoms are also edible, raw or cooked.  I am going to have to try some on a salad when the trees bloom.

Meanwhile I have expanded my future orchard.  I have a total of four apple trees, a peach, a cherry, and two pecans.  Next year I think I will be adding a pear and a plum to the mix.

Once Upon a Time

John Daniel and I went shopping the weekend before Thanksgiving.  John was adamant that we were all going to go out on Thanksgiving. Just as adamant, I bought a turkey breast, some potatoes, and the makings of a pecan pie, which is one delicious thing my family in NJ always had for the winter holidays.

I have this attitude that you have to have a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. That's just the way life is.  And so on Wednesday night I defrosted my turkey and whipped up my pie.  We woke Thanksgiving morning to at least a three-inch coating of snow -- and Pati's wheelchair would not go through snow.  So I called up John. "OK, the turkey is going in, and I have potatoes, dressing, and pie. What can you contribute?"

"Green beans?  But I don't have any toasted onions."

"I have onions.  We are set. I will be bringing dinner around 1."

The one thing I made sure to do was cut off the part for my Friday sandwich! -- because Miranda's thing was to lurk into the kitchen and pull meat off the turkey carcasss.

In light of this story you will not be surprised that I have half a fresh turkey breast, some potatoes, and the ingredients for pies -- yes, more than one pie because today I happen to want pumpkin.  :)


Last night I was kept from sleep for quite awhile. Charlie horses is both calves and cramps in both feet, and it just went on and on.  I took potassium.  I took calcium. I walked on cold floors, I soothed the poor calves with stillness on a heating pad. It still took way too long to ease up.

Usually potassium is enough to fix the problem.  Last night it took 3 or 4 times as long as usual.  I wonder if I am getting enough calcium. When I ended up with a lactose problem, I cut food calcium way down, but did not increase supplements.

Let me say that everything seems to fall apart at once.  First cataract surgery is Wedneday. I hope it will help quite a lot.

Trip part 7

A day all to myself! I went to the British Museum.

At the entrance, the video camera ran out of power, so all my pictures are stills.

Inside its entry was a huge space, and its roof was all glass -- as someone remarked, they probably don't get hail storms there. The entry was the only part of it that was not totally packed with people -- which only goes to emphasize its impressive size.

Cut to the part that struck me as odd. I was very strangely aware that they have human remains on display.  Call them mummies if you want to -- but it was very plain to me that these were dead bodies and the boxes that had contained them. I am starting to lose sympathy with the people who disturb graves.  Yeah, even ones with gold and jewels. It is like there is no line that some people won't cross for whatever motivation.

Marble statues. The Rosetta Stone. Too much stuff -- not even a week would be long enough.

Dinner that night was a repeat of scallops, plus veal medallions and mushrooms in wine sauce.  I miss the food.

Trip part 6

Although I had not originally planned it, on Sunday I went back to the convention for the last time to attend the business meeting where Kansas City was declared the site for the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention.  They ran a short video, and the meeting took a break, during which I departed for my Sunday plans -- shopping.

I studied my maps, and headed for the High Street, and especially for Harrods.  During the walk there from the underground, I saw the same cashmere store I'd seen during the bus tour, but I plowed onward.

Harrods was insanely packed.  Enterting the store, there is a man handing out store maps.  Funny enough, the only other place I'd ever had that happen was Powell's Books in Portlnd, OR.  The map was  convenient -- I went hunting for the things that friends had asked me to bring back. I spent quite a bit of time looking at tea.  They have over 200 kinds, way too many to really understand or compare.  I got some black teas to take back.  I went to the alcohol department, only  to find that they do not carry limited editions, so there was no Hennessey White to be had.  Back to the tea area again to visit chocolates, I finally decided on a box of Belgian chocolate to take back for my sister and her husband.  I think Belgium and Switzerland have the finest chocolates in the world, though I was fond enough of German chocolates when I lived there.

And then I walked around through the rooms full of bling -- jewelery so expensive that most of the price tags were in 5 figures or more.  Beautiful stuff, none of it possible.  I left Harrods and headed back to the underground, but the cashmere store grabbed me and I had a good time looking at the stuff they had.  I got a Pashima shawl for myself -- shades of pink, though I would have loved to have every color they had.

And on the way home, the disaster I dread.  I was climbing the stairs in the Picadilly-Central connection station when lost my balance and fell on a stair landing.  It wsn't a hard fall. In seconds I had two tube attendants ready to help me.  I told them if I had to fall it was a good place, because I twisted around and put my feet down a couple of steps and stood up.  They hung on to me, probably a good thing as the whole world swayed.  They escorted me upstairs most solicitously.  I went on my way, but had the damnedst time with the train destinations on the Circle line, and I swear I ended up going in the wrong direction twice.  Ended up getting off at a stationj where I could get a District train, which I knew would terminate at Tower Gateway where I could pick up the DLR at Tower Hill.  By this time the stop at the Tower was an old friend.

That evening I had the scallops at the Italian restaurant.  Wonderful stuff.

Trip day 5

Ah yes, we get to the day that I wanted the most --

I did my table sitting, verifying that people coming up were members of the convention before they voted. Lots of jobs, and the only one I did not want was taking payments. At the end of the job I was on my way to Tower Hill.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the start of world War i. This is being commemorated in England with poppies -- 200,000 poppies are being placed around the Tower of London, one for each British soldier killed in the Great War.  The first was placed on the anniversary start, and the last will be placed on November 11, which is Armistice Day.


This is the one decent video I took of the tower moat and the tower skyline, nothing but city noise in the background.

In case you can't reach it, here are stills:

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I walked all the way around the Tower, and all the way through it.  The Crown Jewels are inside.  They ae mostly the crowns with the velvet inserts, along with golden maces, swords, and other regalia (yes, orb and sceptre, too). This is the day I put 8 miles on my pedometer, which gave the poor thing such a nervous breakdown that it did not record anything the next day.


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Throughout London there are convenient benches and men with fire engine green vests who answer questions from the millions of tourists.  Half the time my question was "What direction is the Underground?" though I was actually pretty good about navigating and not getting turned around.

At evening, I had dinner at my favored Italian restaurant.  One night, I had mushrooms stuffed with ricotta and spinach, plus prawns in garlic butter -- and tiramisu, oh yes. Another night I tried to have the spaghetti with pesto, but that was the night my appetite crashed, and I could hardly eat anything. Aware of my deficient water intake, I tried to have ice water at every opportunity, even if I was also drinking coffee. This place was right next to my hotel, so it was very convenient, especially since I tended to get there very late.

This particular day I went back to the convention, with the intention of counting site ballots.  Someone lurked in in front of me, so I went to the general committee meeting where the count was unofficially announced.  There was some "Where do we go from here?" talk, and plans for doing the membership table the next day. Unofficiaily, that night, it was known that Kansas City would be holding the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention.

Trip part 4

This was the day with the fewest things in it.  I had forced myself to operate immediately on local time when I got there, so today was the day that the afternoon was mostly a nap, and not the things I thought about visiting.

First, the wakeup call failed again, this time keeping me from having breakfast.  Since it failed more than half the time, I'll stop mentioning it -- but it would be the one factor that would make me pick another hotel if I ever went back.

"This train is for Bickton. The next stop is...Prince Regent," and so I learned how to get to Excel on the DLR.  Bickton, Tower Hill, and Tower Gateway were always my key destinations when getting on any transportation. I got to the table late, but spent my hours there, I snagged coffee and a muffin in the activity area -- which was a much more interesting setup than it sounded at first.


All parties were held from the tents in the evenings, and the big green carpeted area hosted a Quidditch game much of the time. Steps led upstairs to the art show and the dealer's room, which shared another large area.

When I finished doing site selection, I went into the building, which probably housed 100 food stalls, and grabbed a lamb samosa.  Even the Starbucks in England had various samosas, and I had veggie and chicken as well on different days.  I did my tour of the dealers room, grabbing the one book I intended to get (which was not out in paper in the US). I then went back downstairs and did my Iron Throne selfie.


About as I left, I discovered that my umbrella had disappeared.  Looked all over, and no joy. So of course when I got off the DLR at Canning Town it was raining.  Hard. I ended up ordering a pizza and taking it to my room.  I ate, read, and took a nap.  So much for touring that day.  I did not even go back to see the convention night life.

Trip part 3

I actually woke up on time the next morning, which was the first day of the convention.  I was determined to get there when registration opened.  My hotel had a free English breakfast every day, which was a daily expenditure of about $10 that did not hit me, so I ate, and then I actually took a cab to Excel instead of the DLR.  Why?  Because the Canning Town stop of the DLR had a sign that said "Excel Walking Route" and I had no desire to tackle a waling route that early.  Heck, it only cost what a full breakfast would have.  The cab let me off at EXCEL, but at the wrong end.  So I walked.  And walked.  And walked.


Somewhere I have a video that tracks from this end, where the convention centered, back to the end where the cab let me off.  When I finally got to the right end, the line monitors pointed to the staircase and said registration started there.  Then they looked at me, and at my cane, and decided that perhaps sending me up and down a long staircase was a bad bet -- so they let me into line at the end of the ground floor part. It took until time to work the table for me to get through the line.  Absolutely the worst registration I have ever seen at a WorldCon -- I understand the line was actually 1.5 hours long and reached almost to the DLR station.

I went to the site selection tent and spent the next four hours cutting ballots into registration, voting and receipt pieces, and making people sign their registration forms and put their ballots into our spiffy cardboard box.  Took a break and grabbed a cheese and onion pasty from the in-hall vendors.  Edible but not fabulous.  At 2:00 I got out and, following DLR signs, found out that Excel where *I* wanted to be was actually the Prince Regent stop.  Hoarding information for tomorrow, I got on the DLR and headed for Victoria Station, where the open top bus tour began.

That was fun.  Of course, you would win the bet that this was the day that the skies would open up and pour, right? I got to see quite a lot of London before the weather did the inevitable. Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Parliament, Big Ben. High Street (where I took good look at Harrods, my Sunday destination).


I loved the huge numbers of row houses right in the city, with beautiful, ornate facades.  Wnd when the skies opened up, I spent qite awhile still sitting outdoors on top of the bus, crouched under my umbrella.  But eventually I went under cover. By the time we got to the Tower of London, it was still pouring, so my first pictures of the poppies were through a wet bus window. We approached over the tower bridge, as famous a landmark as any.


And finally, after repeating quite a lot of the areas it had already been, the bus came back to its starting point.  I hit the souvenir shop for tokens to give to people i work with.

This was also the first night that I ate at the Italian restaurant next to the hotel.  It was a wonderful place.  The first night I had the crab with artichoke hearts appetizer, which was more than enough food for my limited stomach, and just delicious.

Trip part 2

Got up at 5 AM on 8/12 so I could get on the 6 AM shuttle to Newark Airport. There was some question about what terminal the flight would depart from, but a nice uniformed airline employee lady used her phone and found that my departure was from Terminal C, not the alleged International Terminal B. When I arrived at C I found my flight listed, so I headed for the baggage check. That was not bad, although they wanted passports even that early in the boarding process. Fine -- I signed it and showed my printout, and they took the checked bag without even bothering to weigh it because it was relatively small. I then started toward the gates.  It took forever -- the airport is huge, much bigger than I remembered. There were lots of electric carts going back and forth, but I was on foot. After a long walk I came to the area of security check-in. At last! an airport whose TSA said "Keep your shoes and belt, drink your water, and pile your things up here." They came out of the inspection without comment -- then it was another insanely long walk to the gates.

Eventually we boarded. I was happy to find that my seat belt fit, and annoyed to find that the seats were so close together that if the tray would go all the way down, it would overlap the seat arm rests by five inches.  Ridiculous, and it did not go all the way down. Still, the trip was ok, the food was edible, and there was plenty of water to drink. At the far end, the baggage was easy enough to find and fast enough unloading.  I must have looked hammered, because one of the electric cart drivers offered me a ride.  I was madly glad I took it, because he drove MILES to get to the main part of Terminal 2 at Heathrow. I decided that electric carts were in my future for sure! From the front of the terminal, I loaded up a push cart and walked a few more miles to the terminus of the Heathrow Express that went to central London. A very nice Express employee let me look inside the locked driver's compartment that was used when the train went the opposite way -- quite a complicated control panel! -- and when we arrived at the end of the line, she hauled my bags to the Black Taxi stand, giving me London advice the whole way.

First cab ride, $70.00 -- and it was the same five days later when I did it in reverse.  Glad I got an Oyster card and was determined to learn the Underground and rail system!

I arrived at the Holiday Inn Royal Docks, left a wake-up call for 6:30 AM, and fell over.

So did the call wake me up? Sigh.  No way -- so I missed the first tour I was scheduled to take.  Oh well, Buckingham Palace only opens a dozen rooms and the gardens for tours in August. No palace for me. I gritted my teeth and took a cab ride down to Victoria Station to get to the Stonehenge tour on time. London is PACKED, far more crowded than New York, and the air perpetually smells like cigarette smoke. New York smells of exhaust fumes -- so the tobacco air was new to me -- and a bit disturbing.  I continued to get that scent for at least four days -- it took that long or longer to become an unnoticeable background.

It was sunny and windy at Stonehenge, and the parking was quite a distance from the site. Again, it was stunning how crowded it was. Many of my pictures include bits of the crowd. I managed to get what I call a selfie -- a beautiful picture of the monument in dark silhouette over my left shoulder -- as well as a lot of conventional daylight pictures and at least one closeup video.


I can see that writing about this trip is going to take more time than I thought. At least Stonehenge was the only activity I pursued the first day. I did several miles of walking from the bus down to the monument, and on paths around it. The bus driver was a nice guy, and we talked quite a bit on the trip out.  When I returned to the bus he assured me he would not have left without me, though some people had missed it in times past -- and the nearest village is several miles away. He said this was the first trip where all the passengers returned on time. When we got back to London I stopped at a souvenir stand and got a pocket map of London and the public transportation -- so I took my first rides on the Underground and the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) to get back to my hotel. My Oyster card became my best friend for the rest of the trip.

Trip part 1

There was too much to this trip to put in one post.

The first day I actually went to work in the morning.  I then went to the Murray's home to trade vehicles. I knew I had too much to bring back with me to use the jeep, so I arranged for the use of their lovely minivan.  It rides like a dream, and I am glad they allowed me to trade for the trip.

I took it to my house and loaded it up with all the things I was taking.  Since I was basically taking two trips, I had a suitcase for each one, plus breathing machine, cooler, underseat duffel, theft-resistant purse, CD case, a sewing machine, and a bin of fabric.  This was not enough to really fill the van, and the first time I braked hard, all of it slid forward, which gave me a much better clue of how to pack in the future! I got on the road and stopped someplace in Indiana for the first night.  The motel was very nice and cheap, and had some of the best towels I had ever met!

The next day I got back on the road and headed for PA, and my sister's house.  The scurvy GPS took me around in circles a couple of times on the PA Turnpike, and then screamed LOW BATTERY and died on me. I pulled into a gas station at close to midnight and called for Denise to lead me in.  All I had time for that night was to drag bags upstairs and crash.  Inevitably a day behind the wheel with inadequate rest stops leads to swollen ankles and a great need to sleep.

My sister is an excellent cook, and she did handsome meals with fresh fruit, salad, and corn on the cob, chicken and corn pie, English muffins -- her husband is absolutely determined to keep her because she is a jewel. She feels the same way about him, so they are well matched and heading for 40 years. The first day we pretty much just visited.  My youngest sister and her companion were also visiting, so we all talked at once, and sorted through old pictures. I hope I can get my son to scan the horde of pictures for future posting -- maybe someone out there knows who these people are.

Sunday I went with all of them to the Mega Church that my sister goes to. It was a new experience for me -- never went to one before.  Big screen TVs, lots of music (the tunes were ok, the words repetitive.  I'm more a fan of religious classics.) and a preacher who did a "healing" pitch.  In some ways it was very Fosterite, though the drinks have to stay in the lobby and are non-alcoholic.

And Sunday afternoon, all their kids and grandkids showed up.

L to R: Peter and Trish Ecenroad, me, Faith and Neave Wise, Jada Burt, Bruce and Denise Ecenroad, Joy and Jason Burt, and Pat Hayward.

We spent the day visiting.  The sewing machine and the bin of fabric went to Jada Burt, who is interested in creating anime costumes.  She will be going to her first convention later this year.  I told her I was probably her only relative who owned a copy of Naruto.

Monday, Denise, Pat and I went to the Mulberry Art Studio and took a private tour of my brother Lewis's retrospective art show.  Lew was an abstract artist, and this is the first showing of his work since the 1980s, when he showed his art in New York.  He became reclusive and stopped showing, but kept painting.


After our tour, Pat and John took me to a hotel near Newark airport, where I would board a plane for London the next morning.


The next stage of the war on women: The Five Court Scumbags have done it now.  They have remanded the case discussed below to the lower court in light of Hobby Lobby.  The lower court had ruled that Eden Foods could not block all contraception.  The Catholic Five Judges (not Justices, not them) probably had that in mind all along.  Scum.


I've been privileged to a degree.  At least, I have spent a large part of my life outside the parameters of conventional beauty, so there have not been that many men who were a nuisance.  When I was younger it did happen sometimes, but the very first time I happened upon an answer to propositions that worked so well I used it every time.  When propositioned, I would stare at the perpetrator and then burst out "Are you out of your mind?"  Not one was ever able to answer the inquiry, nor to say another word.  It worked for me.

Only one male ever got in a strike by surprise -- one Dan Murray, may he be cursed into the hell where he belongs.  I think it opened his girlfriend's eyes, which could only have done her good.

I was physically combative from a young age, which probably made me a lot less afraid than I could have been.

In college I went to do laundry with a female friend, using her hubby's car.  As we were leaving the parking lot a man ran up and grabbed her door handle.  I peeled out of there and may have grazed him -- and if so, all the better.  Yeah, I tend to be hostile toward men who run up to the car and grab the door handle.

But like all women I have walked at night with my keys between my fingers.  I have driven like a demon when pursued in a vehicle. How not?  You just do what you have to do.  Drive like mad.  Push the beggar off onto the floor.  Whatever.

Yeah, even someone who has had a small amount of trouble has incidents within a lifetime.  I do believe that it happens to all women...and when we discuss this I do not give one little fart about the menz.


is actually the Ides of March.  Beware!

I wnt to work for a few hours because we have had so much dumped on us.  I may do a few hours on Monday as well If I get filled with energy.

Think good thoughts at Jim Murray, who is in the KU Cardiac ICU for tests after a mild heart attack.  They will be doing something to him after said tests.  Probably including a Denial of Bacon Order and a Red Meat Cease and Desist.

Home, home...

An hour or so into the snowpocalypse it's coming down steadily. Still light and fluffy, not what I'd call a heavy fall yet. But I was delighted to get messages from friends telling me that they closed the building today, and there would be no work. Wow. I actually didn't expect them to be so sensible. It keeps some 3,000 people off streets that need attention, so it's all good.

When I got the messages I put another couple of logs in the stove and set it to run all night. When I got up this morning there were enough coals to just pile more logs on for a continuing fire.

Last night I had a bowl of chicken soup for dinner, and for some reason I was completely full halfway through it, so I just had the other half for breakfast. OK, chicken soup is a weird breakfast -- but the way my nose is feeling it can only do good.

I recently went to the Baen web site and I looked over the book bundles. I found a John Brunner bundle, and I'd only read two of the six titles. This is kind of surprising because I own over 40 Brunner books. I bought the bundle because I don't have either of the two repeats as e-books, so now I have those on the computer. I probably have 700 books on my nook -- with backups on my pc. That is another bookshelf or two I haven't had to buy and load. I still get some tree books -- just not very many.

Ah yes, tis the season.

I found myself listening to Christian radio the last couple of days while driving, because they do Christmas music amazingly well.

It reminded me of being young and doing Christmas Eve at the Black's.  All the relatives of the Green side of the family would gather, and they did traditional things as a group.  One of the things they wanted to do was sing carols, but it was ...less than musical.  None of them knew the words to carols, and no one but me could go past the first verse of anything.  All those years in church choir made me a regular carol music box.  So I decided to do what I could to fix this.

I went to the Town Crier in Lawrence, and they had books of carols for fifty cents, so I bought at least 10 and took them to the next Christmas Eve.  When singing time came I passed out the books and decreed that this year they would actually sing the darned things!

Gods, but I was a pain in the butt.

Still, Carl's mother saved the books and brought them every year.  They really did need them.