Having completed 2/3 of my Christmas decorating, I admit to the fact that my most favorite décor is red and green (with touches of gold) – this is the standard with which I have grown up (with one diversion many, many moons ago when aluminum trees were the rage.) When I was purchasing decorations for my own home the first time, I managed to find some lovely traditional style seasonal cheer. I admit, these were purchased decades ago and they still have an allure for me. They were quality decorations; I have packed, repacked and moved them over a few decades. Yes, I adore the contemporary decorations….the ideas, the charm, the creativeness….all gorgeous. But, I would need a separate storage space for all those lovely decorations if I kept up with all that is offered. (Oh, not to mention winning the lottery would help.) In spite of this, I have come to the conclusion, that my decorations are vintage, yep, vintage. This fits, indeed, they fit into my vintage home décor. I live in a vintage house, built in the early 70’s. Yes, I do have several new pieces of furniture and/or accessories and have contemporary amenities, but most of my things are, yes, vintage. These, too, have followed me over eight moves. I like them, they are comfortable, and they are my connection to whatever heritage I have. And, of course, they are appropriate; because, after all I am vintage.
Yep, once again I feel the need to stop my thoughts from sashaying around my mind. Good grief, it is distracting. This is not a new topic for me, but I believe it bears repeating. I don’t know if this will do any good, but I am trying. Stop the hateful rhetoric; stop this toxic divide among our citizens that circulates the internet via various social media and other venues. This toxicity fosters violence. Political discourse is necessary; difference of opinion is certainly acceptable and needed. But please, please, I beg all who participate in that discourse; do so in a respectful manner. It does NOT matter which side one is on, opinions can be expressed with consideration. Stop throwing barbs, innuendos, fowl language and untruths; stop demeaning by making up labels that are cruel; stop threatening. Just because one person does it, does NOT make it acceptable. So, if one wishes to comment on a topic, do your best to find out the facts first, truth is a stronger tool. You can do this, we can do this….we can create an environment where we can amicably disagree, and do it with consideration. Be cautious of any negative add, Bot, meme, comment (yes, there are still “trolls” out there.) Think about it before posting any response. The more you know, the better you will be. Maybe adults need to start watching Sesame Street again – this program is now 48 years old, and of course, geared to teaching children. But it emphasizes many ways of handling diversity; it projects tolerance and acceptance of differences, and teaches conflict resolution. We need conflict resolution. I challenge you to be more respectful of others, I wish for our nation to heal – but, it will take all of us to accomplish this. Decency is not dead.
It isn’t my wish to offend anyone – never has been – yet I feel a need to express my opinion on a topic that has been in the news for several weeks. Yes, only this one topic, I suppose I could rant about many other things that have been in the news lately, but I’ll just tackle this one; that of kneeling during our National Anthem. I’ve drawn my conclusions and it may irritate some. I have read (not all articles, but many,) listened to and thought about many of the comments rendered during this debate. So, my opinion doesn’t come lightly. I fail to see how “kneeling” can be a disrespectful form of protest. After all, many kneel in prayer, and many have kneeled to honor a monarch – this was considered a form of respect. What I find disrespectful is the failure to honor our Constitution – which, in effect, shows a failure to have read it, much less understand it. This kneeling as a form of protest is a peaceful one, and is protected by our First Amendment. Forcing entities, even by suggestion (which is a form of bullying,) to comply with one’s wishes that go against this protected right is, in my opinion, disrespectful. Those in government leadership have taken an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution – I wonder if they understand this oath. In my mind, kneeling is a much better form of protest than marching with torches and weapons, and chanting obscenities…… this is disrespectful of humanity. As far as I know, there is no written rule that says citizens MUST stand for the Anthem. (There is a difference between “should” and “must”.) Thus, I fail to see kneeling as disrespectful. Does anyone remember when there were cases of Flag burning as a form of protest? Many of us certainly thought this was a violent act, but it was protected and our Supreme Court ruled such. Once upon a time, we all held our Flag in high regard. We treated it carefully, never letting it touch the ground when it was handled, never copying it onto clothing, or any other article; it wasn’t supposed to be used for advertising purposes. So, where has that form of respect gone? Why do we now see our Flag transferred onto nearly everything one can imagine? I think I can answer that and understand why those who are wearing this symbol aren’t arrested for disrespecting the Flag. My main question then: why is there such an issue with kneeling during our Anthem? Kneeling isn’t going the same route as Flag burning. Complaining about this kneeling doesn’t display patriotism; it is simply a way to deflect from other issues and make it seem as if one is patriotic – yep, my opinion.
**This website hasn’t been updated since 2005; I include it for historical purposes: http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html
Over the last few months, ordinary challenges with house repairs, automobile issues, upgrades on equipment/appliances, and keeping up with regular chores have been enhanced. An annual doctor visit snowballed into several other interesting visits and experiences. Indeed, I acknowledge many folks endure more serious challenges; their strength is definitely to be commended and admired. But, of the several procedures over the years to which I’ve been privy, this recent one stands out as most interesting. This experience was definitely not on my bucket list – and, I’m pretty sure most folks don’t put medical procedures on theirs either. Actually, many people probably have had this procedure, because it certainly has been refined and it went very smoothly. I admit to a certain amount of trepidation when a doctor says a bone marrow biopsy needed to be scheduled. OY! She advised me not to look it up on the Internet – I didn’t. But, just her simple description and the thought of it left me apprehensive, to say the least. Although I didn’t look it up, I kind of knew a little about this type of procedure. Once the nurse scheduled it, though, she gave instructions: stop taking medications and some supplements several days in advance, no food or drink after midnight, you need a driver, there will be sedation – not uncommon with many procedures; and, she briefly described what would take place. Of course, I knew there is only one way to extract bone marrow….yep! Thank heaven for sedation.
Since my daughter had to be out of state for business reasons, I was fortunate to have a good friend drive me to the hospital early one Monday morning, keep me company, and then take me home. Without her, I would have been much more nervous; the procedure definitely seemed less scary. We arrived at the appropriate time for check-in, and then were taken to the area in which we awaited the procedure. I was given the ubiquitous hospital gown and traditional warm socks. (I was certainly delighted to be able to keep my underwear on!) The nurse assigned to me was wonderful, compassionate, communicative, and knowledgeable; she clearly conveyed what was happening and what she was going to be doing. Of course blood was drawn for testing, results were pretty quick. When blood was drawn, intravenous tubing was attached to my arm. I was to have “conscious sedation.” Pretty cool! Now the waiting began, my friend and I chatted. Finally, the time came for the procedure. My friend leaves for the waiting room and I was wheeled a short way down a hall to THE ROOM – I was doing my best royal wave past the other nurses.
THE ROOM was bustling with activity and I noticed a huge machine – yes, a CT scanning unit (I’ll call Bertha.) Wow! There were folks in a smaller darkened room behind glass; in the large area were my nurse, a technician to operate “Bertha”, a lab technician, and oh yes, the doctor performing the procedure (who, back in the waiting area, described what he was going to do quite clearly – he had a friendly manner, and I might add, was very nice on the eyes, too.) Then, I was helped to lie on my stomach on the table over which “Bertha” moves. With a pillow under my chest, I still watched the bustle. I was attached to all kinds of monitors to observe breathing and heart. At some point, the sedation began. My back was exposed for the scan, and I heard, but of course, did not see “Bertha” move. Only my lower half was scanned. The “site” was marked (it looked much like a hieroglyphic) and a cold solution was applied to my back (which I later observed had given that area a brown/yellowish tinge!) The doctor kindly explained what he was doing, and I felt a bit of a tug. That is all that I consciously remember - but, of course, the site was then bandaged, I was turned back over, placed on my bed and wheeled back into the “holding” area. After a short period of observation, my friend was called back (she had my clothes.) My nurse had a cute care package for me – it included a small bag of cheese crackers, a bottle of water and a snack size bag of cookies. I immediately consumed the water. In a short while, I was cleared to go home. I dressed while my friend went for the car, and I headed down the hall to the restroom. I think the nurses were a bit surprised when they saw me walking by since patients are supposed to use a wheeled device after procedures. Fortunately that excursion was uneventful, and I then followed protocol and was wheeled to the front of the hospital. After arriving about 8:30, I was “home again, home again” by 12:30. Not bad! My friend saw me safely home saying she would check on me later, then I decided lunch was my next goal. Since I hadn’t eaten for over 12 hours, a veggie frittata was prepared and consumed. Delish! I reviewed the post-procedure information : check for signs of infection at the site, do not drive for 24 hours, do not bathe for 24 hours (ugh), avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity, wait 48 hours before resuming intake of aspirin – these sounded more ominous than the procedure. But, doable. Since I was feeling okay, I thought I would rehearse (only by doing a walk through) dance steps for a class I teach. Well, that was funny, my lower half felt really sluggish, my feet didn’t cooperate – ah, dah, no real surprise there. So, I gave it up and decided it was okay to be lazy and read, relax. I did, though, decide not to attend a class the next morning since the sedation would still be in my system. As it turned out, I was more achy and just a wee bit sore the next day anyway. But, by Thursday I was rolling again and able to teach my class. All done! I am so very grateful for the knowledge, the expertise, and the compassion of each and every staff member at the hospital – such admirable professionalism; I am equally grateful for the help from my friend, which is priceless. This certainly was a memorable experience.
In an attempt to slow this tumultuous tumbling of words in my head, I decided to put these thoughts to paper (in a manner of speaking.) Hopefully this will abate the flitting of my mind. Indeed, I am still in dismay, disappointment and yes, distress. The ugly nature of our communication within our country is rampant – still vitriolic and much of it untrue. One particular cable channel has labeled anything other than itself as MSM – “mainstream media” - implying, if I’m not mistaken, that the MSM produce fake news. Humph! In the broadcasting sector, MSM has been in business from 74 to 91 years. The youngest is ABC, the oldest is NBC. The particular station, to which I earlier referred, has only been in business 20 years. During my lifetime, I have watched news from all the major networks – I have always been impressed with their manner of speaking - I seldom heard any slanderous words. Yes, the media is often like a dog with a bone, but I can't recall newscasters being disrespectful or blatantly resort to name calling. (Please note, I am thinking only of the news programs.) And, yes, there have been mistakes in reporting. Recently, though, I watched a particular segment on this newer network, the anchor referred to CNN (the first cable news channel founded in 1980) as “Clinton News Network” and called an anchor on MSNBC a “crackpot.” Mild, but honestly, have you heard those on the MSM refer to folks in such a manner?
Unfortunately, this type of discourse has become common. There is a radio host out of Austin, who is quite adamant about his beliefs, and who regularly uses foul language, innuendos and general untruths. How is it we have resorted to this type of broadcasting? Where are the rules of broadcasting? Where is our common decency? Is it couched under the 1st Amendment? Even if you believe a particular person is wrong, why do you have to describe that someone, or an incident, in a foul manner? Why does one encourage harm on another? Why do people, like the person who threatened to shoot Hillary Clinton, get away with such threats? Where is our common decency? What ever happened to the rules we learned in Kindergarten? Or, did anyone else learn those rules? What we say on social media and in speeches impacts many. It is despicable for anyone of any persuasion or belief to threaten, especially threaten bodily harm, it is just wrong. Would your grandmother like to hear you say what you say, see what you do? With the development of the Internet, the Worldwide Web, we have introduced a culture in which participants think they can get away with anything and everything. SAD! Social media is both fun and scary….people don’t seem to care enough to think about what they write, what they post. They don’t fact check!!!!! I was taught to think before I spoke (granted, I don’t always do that, but I do really try to think before I write.) Not being careful about what one posts can be harmful, demeaning and not necessary. One can get the point across without demeaning the other. We have become a nation of people jumping to conclusions, and are now self- appointed judges and juries, trials unnecessary. Where’s the justice in this? Unfortunately, we do not have a leader who thinks before he tweets, thus, he does not seem to consider the impact of his words which are often demeaning and accusatory. There is too much name calling and untruths being bandied about. It’s time to pull back, to consider the feelings of those around us and be accurate in what we say and post. We need to bring our country back to a time where we can actually feel we are not alone on this planet sinking in a quagmire of indecency.
Preface: Yep, still trying to catch up - now, I think I'm about five trips behind....oh well, some day.
Las Vegas, May 2014 – although this idea was met with a bit of trepidation and not much research, it turned into one of the most delightful ventures. When my daughter’s new job was to take her to various colleges around the United States, her first assignment was in Las Vegas. I had avoided this city like the plague because of my misguided feeling that it was full of superficial glitz and that it was ostentatious. Well, it is ostentatious, but once you satisfy your curiosity for the outlandish décor on the strip, and expensive shops, there is much more to do than gamble and sun by a pool. Yes, I did have some idea about a few things to do, I wanted to go back over to the Hoover Dam, I did want to visit some of the casinos, I wanted to go to Elton John’s champagne bar, and drive by the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. Turns out I did all of these things, plus. My daughter was left to think about filling in the holes of my poor planning, but we ended up having a very nice time. And so, I arrived fairly early – I had been in the LV airport before, but it had changed a bit and I ended up making a sharp left when I should have gone straight. I took the rail, and then ended up being chauffeured back in an airport bus to the baggage claim area. My ride was a’waitin’ patiently. It was a clear, pretty day – not at all hot for Nevada. The hotel wasn’t far from the airport. Because of my early arrival, my daughter suggested a brunch – she had discovered SkinnyFATS where breakfast was served all day. I enjoyed some really great pancakes. Then, we drove down the strip – my first encounter – after which I took my daughter to work. I relaxed in the hotel until she was finished. Then, we had some luscious food at Metro Pizza. The next stop was Caesar’s Palace and Fizz, the champagne lounge created by David Furnish in association with Sir Elton John, where we delighted in a Fizz Noir champagne concoction – luscious! We walked down the strip to the Bellagio – gawked at the Chihuly glass, then enjoyed the dancing fountains. My first night in LV. The next day featured a drive over to Red Rock Canyon. Was I impressed – the terrain magnificent – and just as one would expect, the escarpments featured many shades of rust red, orange and tan undulating in sharp sunlight. We returned to LV and I took my daughter to work. Since I had the car, I drove up the strip to see if I could find the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. I did, but decided not to stop, there was a line snaking around the building. (We did visit at another time when it wasn’t so crowded – not a big place.) Driving back down the strip to our hotel, I had a quick lunch. Still on my own, I ventured over to the Luxor Casino, wandered around there for a bit then decided on a respite with a glass of wine in the Aurora Lounge. Finally it was time to pick up my daughter and we decided to drive through an area known as Green Valley in Henderson, Nevada just southeast of LV. We were hungry and drove by a Mediterranean style place called Olive – sounded okay from the outside. We stopped. It was also a Hookah bar. Just after my chicken shawarma wrap, I smoked my first Hookah – a berry/mint flavor. I did not master the technique, but, it was an interesting experience. When Friday dawned, we headed out – first we stopped for some delicious coffee and a breakfast sandwich then drove to the Hoover Dam. This was my second visit, my daughter’s first. We drove over the dam, parked in one of the lots, walked back over the dam, stopped in the visitor building, and finally returned to the car. On our way back to LV, we found a different path and drove on an extremely high bridge over the dam. Boulder City was our next stop and we became enthralled with the lovely, quaint atmosphere. This is the town, began in 1931, in which many of the workers on the Hoover Dam stayed. Charming town with many small shops, some of which we visited. At a wine and cheese bar we treated ourselves to a yummy platter and some Chardonnay. Once back in LV, we did a little shopping before our dinner at the Bootlegger, a restaurant in business since 1949. This was a culinary delight. Once dinner was finished we headed back to the strip, the Venetian and a gondola ride. During my last day in Vegas, we started off at the Bellagio again thinking there was special Chihuly exhibit. Not so. We soothed ourselves with a snack and some bubbly (imbibing just a wee bit more than intended) enjoying our time in a patio dining area. Since we had tickets for a play that afternoon, we returned to our hotel, changed, snacked a bit, then headed to the Riveria – this was an older casino in the northern part of town. After the show, we found an interesting “mall” off the northern strip, called Container Park. Container like buildings stacked upon one another housed shops and offices and surrounded a large central area. We found a quaint wine bar and enjoyed another respite. So ended my Las Vegas experience. Indeed, there was a whole lot more to do than just gamble – yes, we did imbibe, but we also explored the various riches of the environs.
Yep, what I want is for our nation to survive. Yes, we’ve been through many trying times – but, this particular time is turning into a huge challenge. Indeed, what I want is for tolerance, understanding, compromise and general consideration for others to be brought back into our lives. What I want is for people to stop throwing virtual stones, chastising those they don’t even know. What I want is for folks to evaluate before they post. Check all the sources. For goodness sake, if you can post on the social media sites, you have the tools to double check. So many sites don’t have credibility, because they are only opinions – true, like mine. Yes, you could say this is a dream, but it is a dream I wish would come true. As a librarian, when asked a question, I needed to know the source before I answered that question – and, the sources which were available were those we had vetted. So many folks are blogging, posting only opinions without having done research. Research takes time and patience….I don’t think we have the patience for evaluation. This is sad. So, here’s a tip. Before you comment on something, check at least three sources – yeah, it takes time. But, golly gee, maybe we will have some understanding come out of all of this, maybe we will not be so eager to condemn. Maybe we can be a nation finally united..…I can dream. Thanks, that is all for now.
Preface: to continue telling you about that fabulous week in the UK, here is the final installment. So much to do in so little time:
Monday was the day for our trip to Cardiff – our train tickets were for 9:15 and we made it to Paddington Station in due time. Since we had to leave the B&B without breakfast, we managed a small bite to eat at the station while waiting for the train. It was a two hour ride, but quite enjoyable in spite of the rain. When we arrived in Cardiff, it took a few moments to acclimate and find our direction. Once we did, we had a nice stroll through Cardiff. What a wonderful, pedestrian friendly town; the main street led to the entrance of the town’s castle. The Old Keep was many centuries old as were parts of the fortification. On the grounds, a Victorian Gothic mansion replaced the Old Keep as living space – it was gorgeous. This was all fascinating to me, and I was in Wales! Before our return to London, we had a wee lunch at a marvelous pub called the Goat Tavern and enjoyed a local beer. The return train ride was comfortable and relaxing.
On Tuesday, we had an early call, thus no breakfast again. (In retrospect, we should have bought some food to take on the trip with us – we were starving by the time we could get a snack.) We had taken the tube to our meeting place, the Marle Arch, where the tour van picked us up. There were only eight of us on the tour. When everyone had gathered - we headed in a westerly direction toward Bath and the Cotswolds. Stopping in a town called Lacock, we bought a snack at a delicious quaint pastry shop. On the road again, we passed through so many charming towns with homes displaying thatched roofs. While on the highway, we drove past a chalk horse, the Cherrill White Horse, carved out of the hillside in 1780. And then, we were in Bath – our tour took us past some beautiful old town houses built in a half circle called the Royal Crescent – unique in age and design these were constructed between 1767 and 1774. Finally, though, we arrived at the Roman Baths where we spent the majority of our visit. One cannot adequately describe the spectacular experience – stepping way back in time feeling the existence of those long gone. We weren’t able to stop for a sit down meal, so we got a snack and motored on to Stonehenge. We arrived in just enough time to tour. Again, the marvelous sight defeated description. In spite of the wind and chill, the ancient structure was compellingly stupendous. Following this glorious experience, we faced a two hour return trip and were back in London, exhausted and sleepy.
Since we had no specific tours/tickets for Wednesday, we altered the itinerary and decided to visit the British Library near King’s Cross Station. The library is only about a block from the station. The newer building is lovely in its majestic contemporary design. It was busy, but not crowded. People moved in and out regularly and comfortably. We found the King’s Library was in the center of the building in a portion that was specifically built for conserving antique books. It is temperature and light controlled, yet glass enclosed, so visitors can see from the outside in. The only way to utilize the collections was to become a member – so, we applied for cards and were rewarded with Library ID’s. Coin operated lockers located on a lower floor were available to house personal items while patrons used the stacks; only a pencil and paper could be taken into the reading rooms. After visiting one of the reading rooms, we had lunch in the cafeteria on the premises. They served wine and I imbibed! I was sorry to leave the library, but we had decided to go back over to Westminster Abbey. When we had adequately toured the Abbey, we headed over for a ride on the London Eye – the result was a treat too spectacular for words. Following our ride, we returned to Gloucester Road and the Hereford Arms for a nice glass of wine; later, we then enjoyed dinner at a place called Ask in Kensington – excellent food.
Thursday, visiting St. Paul’s was on the agenda. Although we could have, we decided not to go up and out on the rotunda. Many, many steps! Once we had finished our tour having walked past many entombed Brits, we had a snack in the cafeteria, and then made a quick stop at The Globe. From there, we returned to the British Library. One hour, much walking and several train changes later, we made it back so we could get one of the old fashioned card boxes sold at the gift shop. More train changes and we ended up at Harrod’s – huge place! There were just too many people for my comfort, so I stayed on the 1st floor. Unfortunately, I lost contact with my friend for a bit, but we finally reconnected. My splurge from Harrod’s was some of their chocolates. Eventually, we made our way back to Bayswater, freshened up and went for dinner at the Hereford Arms. It was immensely crowded. We bought some drinks, looked for a table, put our name on the waiting list for dinner – a couple offered us space at their large table. We accepted, I chose a seat on an aisle – chatted for a long time, enjoyed our wine. Our name was called and as we got up to go to dinner, I discovered my purse was missing. It had been stolen, right off the back of my chair! Everything in it! (Passport, money, phone, camera, personal items….DL, cards….just everything.) If I ever felt stupid, that was the time; I had been careless. After dinner, which my friend bought, I spent the time canceling cards – the fortunate thing was that I had access to a computer. I could barely sleep.
Friday dawned and we headed for the Embassy so I could get a new passport. Fortunately I had copies of my cards and stolen passport, so when we arrived at the Embassy, I had something to present. We decided to dress for our “tea” since the Embassy appointment was for 11:00 and tea reservations were for early afternoon – it did take us a wee bit of time to find the Embassy. Of course, we had to go through another check point to gain entrance. It was not a difficult experience and a new passport was issued, but they had to take down my card information manually in order for me to pay the fee for the passport. Once all of this was settled, I did relax a bit. Then, we went to our Dorcester Tea – the final scheduled event. It was deliciously lovely, most enjoyable and incredibly relaxing. We then returned to Bayswater, changed, and went to find a police station so that I could officially report the theft. Now, that was an experience! The closest open station was in the heart of the shopping district – tons and tons of people. When we finally arrived at the station, we took a number waiting to be called. The police officer was charming, understanding and sympathetic (a female). There was some misunderstanding when I said what I had stolen was a “purse”, a purse in the UK is a small item, mine, then, was a “handbag.” Finally, we all understood one another. Returning to Bayswater, we had a snack at the Bayswater Arms, then went back to our B&B for our last night in London. We had learned from a friend that we could make limousine reservations online, so we did, and thus our transport back to the airport was handled.
Saturday morning dawned, we were ready to go. We had to be at Heathrow at 9:00. Mzia had packed us some breakfast sandwiches, and we departed. Since I had a temporary passport, the security personnel pulled me aside and questioned me for about 15 minutes – wanted to know if I had done an entrance card, if I had done a police report. Answers: yes and yes. They checked for the entrance card, but it had been eight days, so the record wasn’t available. They did let me through, finally. In spite of my stupidity, and the theft, I absolutely adored England. Now, it was all memory, the return home was eminent.
Preface: In a further attempt to restore my muse, I have finally finished this long piece about a marvelous trip - indulge me and enjoy! I love reminiscing, here is the first installment:
It had been a prominent desire of mine to visit England. True, there were earlier trips to Scotland and Ireland (only seeing a fraction of the marvelous places.) Yet, there was much of the British Isles that continually lured and intrigued me. Finally the dream came to fruition and it was the highlight of my year. Planning began early. I had hoped that my usual travel companion would be able to join me; however, that was not to be. Trip research continued, though, and it was suggested that I might invite a friend’s mom. I did so. But, this too, was not to be. At one of my wine tasting functions, I mentioned that I had lost my travel partners and about a week or so later, one of these buddies asked if she could join me. Yes, indeed! I switched back to looking for inexpensive, comfortable B&B rooms large enough for two. I had been looking at single rooms. Now, the date was set and planning began in earnest. After several months of this intense planning, of making appropriate reservations for our B&B, of buying tickets for a play, of getting train tickets to Wales, of purchasing a Stonehenge tour, and getting Tube passes, we set off for the United Kingdom on Thursday October 17th.
The itinerary included a few things my new travel companion hadn’t seen (she had been to England before, but loved it so much she wanted to return.) Although we didn’t get to Hampton court as hoped, we did do a few things she hadn’t done. The big advantage, for me, was her experience with the Tube and familiarity with the city. Although Tube signage was excellent, it certainly helped to know the differences between all the lines and directions of such.
We had an easy drive time to the airport on our departure date which allowed us to arrive at the Parking Spot unscathed. Making it through security with time to spare, we boarded as scheduled. It was as comfortable as any eight hour flight could be, landing at Heathrow an hour early, at 6:15 a.m. There wasn’t a long wait during the Immigration check – so we ended up ready to get into London. However, we were way too early to check in at the B&B, so we found a place to store our bags then found a place to have breakfast (a full English one) in the airport. After breakfast we found a Wi-Fi spot. Finally, around 9:15, we got a taxi and headed toward the B&B.
It took about an hour to get from Heathrow to Porchester Gardens, it was rush hour. We arrived at our B&B located in a little “close” – basically a strip of town houses with a drive in front of them and a wall separating the drive from another road or area. Every one of the townhouses had some lovely plantings in front – lush and green still in October. Our host was a bit surprised when we arrived, although I don’t know why since I had told her our flight would be early and we’d do our best not to infringe on the previous guests. Nevertheless, she showed us to the room which was at the top of the house – two flights of stairs up. After a bit of huffing and puffing we did get our luggage up those stairs. The rooms were definitely adequate, large bedroom area, and very large bathroom – this is where the built in closets were located and a small table with tea/coffee making accoutrements. I admit to a bit of dismay because the décor seemed a little worn and very 70’s. The main thing, it was clean, and our host was accommodating. Not only that, the location was close to two Tube stations.
While settling in, we got a surprise call from two friends of my travel mate. They were in London and suggested meeting over in Kensington. So, we took a tube ride (my first) to the area we thought we’d meet, walked a bit, called them , walked some more, called again and finally went in the correct direction to the meeting place outside a museum. So began our traverse around Kensington. We were looking for a phone store so my companion could buy a throw away; my first introduction to London, a nice walkabout in Kensington. By this time, though, we were definitely hungry. The Goat Tavern appeared on our path, a respite was enjoyed. After lunch, we decided to tour Kensington Palace. This was a fabulous idea; the place was spectacular – so much history beginning with Queen Victoria memorabilia to a display of gowns worn by royalty (including Diana). After Kensington Palace, we searched again for a phone store – finally found one. Hunger flared again, so snacking at a sandwich shop in a mall near Marks & Spencer transpired; then, my friend and I returned to Bayswater and our first night in London.
On the 19th, we had a late breakfast since there was a slight misunderstanding regarding our schedule. After breakfast we met the other couple at the Tower. The Tower of London is an astounding place! Built and renovated over several centuries, it encompasses the epitome of British history. It was most enjoyable, and there was so much to see. We did get to view the Crown Jewels – the way they are displayed is spectacular. We had lunch at a pub near the Tower called Liberty Bounds. Then, my friend and I headed back to our B&B to change for a show, The Mousetrap. Upon studying the tube map, a travel plan was devised and we decided to leave for the show at 6:30. Taking the Central Line to Tottenham, we found that the Northern Line was closed, but we took the Central to Holborn and finally the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Sq. It took us a bit of walking, reading street signs, asking folks and more reading of signs. We finally made it to the theater two minutes before curtain. I must admit to fatigue by that time and struggled to keep myself awake. I did enjoy the production – well done. And, I finally got to see the longest running play in the world! When we returned to Bayswater, we had a drink and snack at the Redban Pub.
Sunday dawned - our breakfast was ready at the agreed time. In order to get an idea of how long it would take us to get to Paddington (where the train for Cardiff departs), we made a recognizance trip. After that, we took the tube over to Westminster, de-trained and found the pier at which Thames River Boats leave. The Thames was choppy and high, many boats weren’t sailing. Since we were right near Parliament, we saw Big Ben, walked across the Westminster Bridge, walked past the London Eye (priced tickets), walked past street entertainers (Charlie Chaplin mime kissed my hand), took a ride on the Carousel, crossed the Jubilee Bridge and walked back down the embankment toward Cleopatra’s needle. We found St. Paul’s and a pub nearby, where we had lunch (London Pride’s fish & chips.) When we headed out again it had begun to rain pretty hard – we were able to find a tube station , rode over to Piccadilly Circus, then walked up to Fortnum and Mason. Taking advantage of the location, we enjoyed a spot of tea delighting in the warmth. Returning to Bayswater, we had a snack at Prince Albert’s pub.
Open Letter to President-elect Donald Trump Dear Sir: Yes, it certainly was an unusual election campaign (to put it mildly); yes, you won the Electoral College by a large margin; yes, I appreciated what you said in a public announcement shortly after the election indicating you want to be a President for “all the people.” I am trying to hold onto that hope. First, though, and with all due respect, may I remind you that there are over 325 million people in this United States. Of those, nearly 133 million voted – this represents only 55% of those who are of voting age.* Many of those who are voting age apparently didn’t voice their opinion for some reason or another. However, I digress a bit from the main points I wish to make.
As a President for “all the people”, I am of the opinion that you work for us, we are your constituents. You were “voted” into this office, you were not “hired.” We are not your employees, and you cannot fire us – this government you are now leading is not a corporation. Although some do feel it should run as such. Yes, we need business acumen, but there are differences. The cabinet members picked by you are also ultimately working for us – “all of the people.” We need your, and their, integrity. I am glad our Constitution has established checks and balances unlike most corporations. There are many lives at stake; those of us who have worked our entire lives to provide a decent home environment, either “blue” collar, rural or middle class – there are lots of us. Please don’t treat us, or this government, as if you are a “CEO” – the ultimate goal is not something for monetary profit. Yes, we do want a strong economy, and we were on the road to one. And yes, we can do better. The opinions you hold based on the party under which you campaigned, do not necessarily agree with all of those in this United States. Just because you have one belief, does not mean that it is good for all. Find a way to protect the good part of our government – understanding that there are many who respect the laws/regulations. The entitlement programs need to be revamped, but not scrapped – many of us have legitimately paid into the process and depend on that monthly income for survival.
Additionally, I would like to say that diplomacy and humility play a very important part in the way a President (or anyone who is an elected official) interacts with his constituents. Taking care to be considerate of thought and speech is paramount – words have a huge impact on interactions. You are now on a different platform – one that is held to a higher standard than that which you may have been accustomed. The display of ethics is incumbent upon you. With our social network sites, people have forgotten how to be considerate, much less diplomatic, and don’t seem to believe in ethics – comments have been irrevocably mean, and many untrue. As your constituent, I humbly request that you think carefully before you “tweet.” As a constituent, I prefer not to feel as if I am a pawn in the game of politics because your “tweets” incite action and fear. We are more than pawns, we are people with feelings – and, we deserve to be treated with respect. Please be more reserved with your social media reactions. How you react in private can be spoken in private, but all thoughts should probably not be broadcast. Trust needs to be established.
There is another word that is important, and that is compromise; and I’m continuing to speak in generalities. I feel that the “swamp” to which you have referred, was exacerbated by the lack of ability to compromise. This failure to compromise ignores the needs of many. Who knows, compromise just might serve you better than you expect. There are probably some issues, though, on which compromise won’t work. And, I cannot be privy, nor do I want to be, to everything that happens on The Hill – but, I do think that blaming the other party for one thing or the other just creates more divisiveness and hampers compromise. To get what one wants shouldn’t be by an act of bullying or demeaning others.
One last thing – please do trust the people that have worked in the various government departments for years on end. They are worthy of your trust, they are working for this United States, not just for you - many of them tirelessly keep its operation flowing, others also keep it safe. These are valuable people. Treat them as such, with respect.
Thank you for your indulgence and tolerance – may your tenure be fair and productive. Signed, A voter with over 45 years working experience, holder of two degrees (one achieved while working full time), single parent, middle class income – proud United States citizen – idealist.