Friday, October 29, 2010

Off to Boston

I'm flying up to Boston for my fourth and last "swim parents' weekend." Swimmer boy is a college senior. (Happy dance--the end of tuition payments is in sight!) Mr. M can't get away from work, so I'll be flying solo.

I have to confess I never know quite what to expect when I arrive. Freshman year we found swimmer boy in the infirmary, freshly diagnosed with mono. Junior year he just had some dread respiratory infection. Sophomore year was relatively uneventful--Mr. M had to stay home that time, too, and it was also at Halloween, so maybe the planetary forces have aligned and I won't encounter any exotic germs this time. (Of course, bed bugs are now on my mind whenever I travel...always something.)

I'm hoping to catch up with my writer pal Caroline Linden while swimmer boy is at the football game. (I went to the University of Notre Dame--I've had my fill of college football, thank you, shivering on those backless bleacher seats.) I'm also hoping to have some time with swimmer boy--at least he's promised to let me take him to dinner Sunday. (Offering food usually is a pretty good way to catch a college son's company.) But I've learned to go with the flow and adjust at the last minute...well, at least to try to.

I'm bringing my computer--maybe I'll get some writing done.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I didn't know what NaNoWriMo was when I first saw it popping up in people's posts. It stands for National Novel Writing Month--there's a web site that will probably tell you all you want to know about it here.

I've never done NaNoWriMo. The concept seems a little weird to me frankly, but then I'm sort of a solitary beast. I don't work with a critique group or even a critique partner. The reason I'm mentioning it is that November is NaNoWriMo, so the activity starts in just a few days.

Some writers say they are always running into people who tell them they want to write a novel. I don't have that happen to me (maybe because I am a solitary beast?), but I think I've encountered two such folks in the last few weeks. I told them what I tell everyone--with apologies to Nike--"just do it." Just sit down and start the book and keep at it until it's done.

And then revise, revise, revise, of course, but we don't need to go there yet. The first step is to get something out there. Which I guess NaNoWriMo can help with, if the thing appeals to you.

The other myth that I like to dispel is that writing is fun. It may be for some folks, I suppose. I personally find writing hard work. Torture sometimes. Thinking about writing a book can be terrifying. I face doubt and despair each time I start a new project--which is where I am at the moment, except I do now have a first chapter, thank God.

Writing a novel is not a sprint, it's a marathon, long and grueling. And you'll probably hit many walls along the way. But, like running, it feels great to have done it--until you need to do it again, of course.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adventures in Election Land

When we were walking back from voting, we ran into Jim putting out political yard signs. (Mr. M wondered if yard signs--signs you stick in your yard advertising candidates--was a local phenomenon, since he didn't remember seeing them anywhere else.) Somehow or other, Jim managed to give us one of these signs to take home and put in our yard.

I met Jim many moons ago when our mutual friend, Bob, was running for city council. Bob had run our summer swim team and had helped me in many ways when I had that job. His campaign treasurer had had to back out at sort of the last minute, so he was in a bind and asked me to step in.

I'm not a political person. I'm registered with a political party, but I don't like talking politics. My dad was a Republican and my mom was a Democrat and they never--or never that I can remember--got into political debates. Also, growing up in the Washington, D.C., area and having worked for the federal government, I'd say I'm a little politically jaundiced. The elected folks come and they go, you know? But city council is a nonpartisan election and Bob was a good guy, so I said yes.

The best thing about Bob's campaign was I volunteered to have a car sign. That's a candidate's sign that attaches with magnets to the top of your car, so you're a mobile "yard" sign.

I noticed two things about this experience:

1. I tried very hard to drive nicely--not that I don't always try to be a considerate driver...well, okay, I want to try to be a considerate driver. But with Bob's name on the top of my vehicle, I had to think of him, too. If I cut someone off in traffic, they might take it out on Bob at the polls. And how embarrassing would it be to be pulled over for speeding in the Bob-mobile?

2. At least some of my kids were still in grade school, and with the sign atop, my car was instantly identifiable in carpool line. Also, it was a great, civic way to embarrass the boys, and we know moms live to embarrass their children.

Bob was elected and served a number of two year terms, so every other year, the Bob-mobile rode again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


We voted--on Saturday, actually. This is the first year we've had the early option. It was particularly handy for the primary, as we were in London when the actual day to vote rolled around.

We read in the paper that at least one call bank connected to our political party will be downloading the list of those who have already voted and removing them from their call database. Hooray! That's one less annoying call I'll have to field. The recorded messages from candidates really get under my skin. Mr. M and I joked that we'd vote for whoever robo-called us the fewest times. (Of course we wouldn't really choose a public official on that basis...but it is tempting.) I did feel bad during the primaries when one candidate actually called in person, and I had to tell him we'd already voted. Again, not that I would have voted for him just because he called personally--I still don't like to get political calls--but he won points with me for the effort.

We also managed to bypass the folks littering the path to the polls--though I'm not sure, with the early voting, there were actually any folks electioneering--by going in a side door. I'm not a fan of running that gauntlet, unless I run into folks I know and can catch up on their lives and general neighborhood news. I guess political organizations must have some evidence that handing you literature as you're going into vote works, but I always arrive with my sample ballot filled out, knowing whom I'm going to choose.

There are fewer early voting centers, so we didn't go to our normal polling place. They seemed to have improved procedures since the primary--or we just had folks who were better with the details--because everything went smoothly and we were in and out in a timely fashion. Then we walked over to the farmers' market to pick up some produce before walking home.

So we got our exercise, voted, and bought some of the ingredients for Mr. M's next cooking adventure. All in all, not a bad morning's work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trusts and estates

Thinking about Knole leads to thinking about inheritance--there were fights within the family over who should inherit the place over the years. And issues of inheritance leads to wills...

I was trying to get all our papers in order before we flew off to London just in case the plane went down. Yes, I'm cheery that way, but I've been dealing with my father's estate these last few months and so am particularly sensitive to the need for survivors to be able to locate important documents. (Kudos to my dad, by the way, for doing a great job in that department.) Anyway, Mr. M happened to look over our wills. We'd done them mostly to name guardians for our kids, and now the baby is 21. Guess it's time for an update.

So when we got back to the States, we went to see a lawyer. As I say, I've been dealing with my dad's estate--and my mother's as well--over the last few years, so wills and estate planning have been on my mind more than in the past. But talking to the lawyer made me wonder...How much do I really want to control things after I'm dead?

There are ways to structure estates (assuming there's anything to pass on) so surviving children can't get the use of their inheritance until they are 25 or 35 or older. Of course setting up a trust and having a trustee administer the funds makes complete sense if you have a young child or a disabled child or one with serious issues that would compromise his ability to manage things wisely. But other than that...I dunno.

And then there is the issue of divorce. If a child marries and then the marriage dissolves, do you want the ex-spouse taking any inheritance off to a new marriage?

Hmm. You know, I guess I'd like to think my kids would be able to handle things--and if they can't, they've got bigger problems than the few bucks they might be getting from me. Again, I have to hand it to my parents. When we had to finally clean out Dad's apartment, there was no fighting over stuff. (Actually, my brothers wanted me to take everything--and dispose of it one way or another.)

I do want our family heirlooms to find a good home. They have meaning beyond any price tag. But money? Obviously nice to have, but eh, I'm not sure how much I really care what happens to that. (Assuming I haven't already spent it all myself!) I'll be dead, after all. And I don't have a house and lands like Knole to keep up.

Yes, it's probably a good thing I'm not a wills and estates lawyer.

And no, the picture above is not of one of my family's heirlooms. It's a tureen and cover from about 1752-56 that I saw in the British Museum. The fish is a plaice. I just looked that up in my trusty OED--it's a "well-known European flat fish." Gee, thanks for pointing out my fishy ignorance, OED.

Friday, October 22, 2010

More on Knole, part 3

A few more thoughts on Knole.

In some ways Knole was our favorite of the houses we visited. The Royal Pavilion was fantastic, but it was "modern" in comparison to Knole and it had never been truly a home. Leeds Castle was beautiful, but it had been changed so it no longer struck us as authentic. Even Mr. M found this annoying, but then I had to ask myself why shouldn't someone redo their house? We've certainly done a thing or two to improve the MacKenzie hut. However, when you live in a historic place...when is it just your house and when is it a national treasure? (I should point out that a good bit of Knole is not open to the public and is probably much more "comfortable" than the parts we saw.) Hmm. The "historic designation" discussion--or battle--is alive here in my neck of the woods as well.

Knole is full of stuff that makes a historical romance novelist's heart beat faster. Because it's so large, many rooms were only used occasionally, so much of the house, including the furniture, looks like it would have in the 18th century. I tried to absorb as many details as I could--and of course I bought the guidebook.

I knew servants in big houses would get perks; for example, the maid might get her mistress's casts off. I didn't realize that earls and dukes could get perks, too. Many of the furniture pieces at Knole are royal castoffs, given away when the king wanted to redecorate or thought the things were out of fashion or a little shabby.

I'd seen pictures of Knole's Cartoon Gallery, which always caused me to scratch my head. Er, cartoons? Where? LOL. My modern uneducated mind at work again. A cartoon is...well, I'm just going to quote my Oxford English Dictionary: "A drawing on stout paper, made as a design for a painting of the same size to be executed in fresco or oil, or for a work in tapestry, mosaic, stained glass, or the like." While we were there, one of the docents was showing the others that the best way to view the cartoons was in a mirror, since they are actually the mirror image of the final artwork.

Well, it was a great place to visit--and now I have the guidebook to peruse. Maybe I'll also read Virginia Wolf's Orlando, which is based heavily on Knole.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More on Knole, part 2

We couldn't take pictures inside the house, alas, so no photos here.

One thing I found fascinating about Knole is that it's been in the same family since 1603 and is still the family's home. That kind of history boggles my American mind. What would it be like to grow up in the house your father and his father and his father and his father etc, etc, grew up in?

I still live in the area where I was born, but I'm only a first generation Washingtonian. (Or should I say District of Columbian to distinguish us from the Washingtonians on the West Coast?) My folks are from the Midwest. I don't know my extended family well, and I'm more than a little fuzzy on my grandparents' and great grandparents' histories. One grandfather was born in Ireland; I think all my great grandparents were from Ireland or England, but I'm not sure. I've never been to Ireland.

When my dad died in February and I had to empty out his apartment, everything came to my house. Some of the things have since gone off to kids, charity, or the dump, but some qualify as heirlooms of a sort. I wish I remembered their significance. I'm sure my parents--or at least my mom--told me the stories--whom they belonged to, where they came from. I just can't remember.

I've already asked my mother-in-law to write everything down.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on Knole, part 1

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The picture above is not of a town—it’s of a single house: Knole in Sevenoaks, Kent.

Knole was our first destination outside London. We took the Tube to Charing Cross Station and caught a train for the roughly half hour ride to Sevenoaks. If there was signage in the train station pointing us toward Knole, we missed it, so we wandered around Sevenoaks until we finally found a visitor’s center (or centre, as it would be spelled there) and got directions to the main entrance. It wasn't until we were leaving that we found the footpath I’d been looking for when we arrived.

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Nice, yes? From here we would have gone up through the medieval deer park to the house.

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Fallow and Sika deer roam the grounds—I’m not sure which kind these are—or perhaps there are some of both.

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We arrived before the house was open to visitors, so we walked around the wall that encloses the grounds.

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Mr. M is 6’3” (when he stands up straight) so you can see the wall is formidable—and the doorways are sometimes short.

What wasn’t enclosed by the wall was protected by a beautiful fence.

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And here’s the entrance—note the blue speck (moi).

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Once inside the entrance, you’re in the Green Court.

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From the Green Court, you pass through the Inner Wicket (again, I’m a blue speck)

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to the Stone Court (this is the other side of the Inner Wicket taken from the Stone Court)

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and the entrance to the Great Hall.

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I hope I got that all correct—I’m working from my feeble memory and the map in the guide book I (thankfully) purchased.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homewood House

As we discussed our wonderful London adventures, Mr. M pointed out that there are plenty of historical properties far closer to home that we could explore. We do live just outside Washington, D.C., after all. We may not have medieval castles, but we have many buildings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Hmm. This made me remember that one of my favorite reference books, Steven Parissien's Regency Style mentions Homewood House numerous times. Homewood House is in Baltimore just a short (depending on traffic, of course) drive up I-95. Baltimore is also where two MacKenzie boys happen to reside at the moment. And when I actually looked at where Homewood House is in turns out it's within spitting distance (not that any of us would be so uncouth as to spit) of son#3's apartment.

Road trip!

So Sunday we had a lovely brunch with two sons and one fiancée, took a quick peek at some fascinating miniatures as well as some late 18th/early 19th century items at the Baltimore Museum of Art with one son, and then headed off for a tour of Homewood House.

The only way to see Homewood House is with a guided tour, and we totally lucked out--it was just Mr. M and I and the guide. I could ask a million questions, and our wonderful guide didn't seem to mind. (I did warn her beforehand that I was a writer.) She was delighted I recognized the Argand lamps--and I was delighted to see a water-closet that looked just like the one pictured in The Soanes at Home by Susan Palmer that I'd bought at the Sir John Soane's Museum in London.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Historical Day

I have to confess that I rarely attend my local RWA chapter--Washington Romance Writers--monthly meetings. Life just seems to get in the way. I was sorely tempted by WRW's Historical Day, but it was in Virginia...across the Potomac. Inertia had me in its grip until the lovely Michelle Willingham emailed me to see if I was attending. Turns out she was going to be on my side of the river and would give me a ride. Hooray.

Michelle picked me up at 8:30 am and we chatted about publishing, traveling, and kids as she followed her GPS's rather circuitous and puzzling directions to Alexandria. We arrived early, so had time to browse the local outdoor market. Michelle suggested we stop in the neighborhood Books-A-Million and I was thrilled to see they had two Naked Viscounts and a Naked Baron on the shelves. I signed the books--Michelle provided the "autographed copy" stickers--and we still had time to grab a cup of coffee before Historical Day began.

Our first speaker was a fencing expert who brought examples of historical and modern sabres, epees (rapiers), and foils (court swords or short swords). Third son was a fencer in college, so some of the information sounded vaguely familiar. After the presentation, many of us went next door to historic Gadsby's Tavern for lunch. I particularly enjoyed catching up with fellow Kensington author Christine Trent, who sat next to me.

After lunch we put on our dancing shoes and learned some English Country Dances. I've had the opportunity to do some of this dancing--which is a little like our square dancing--when I've been able to attend the Beau Monde soiree before the RWA national conference. It's lots of fun, but I can never remember the steps--even while I'm doing the dance--so there's usually a lot of laughing involved as well. If you'd like to learn a little about it--and see and hear the Duke of Kent waltz, one of the dances we stumbled through today--check out Beau Monde members Marissa Doyle's and Regina Scott's blog, NineteenTeen here.

After the dancing, a storyteller/Alexandria tour leader treated us to Alexandria ghost stories--he made a few of us jump at least once--and showed us how to flirt with a fan in the Colonial era.

By 4 pm the program was over and Michelle and I made our way back to Maryland by a much more direct route. We're still scratching our heads over why the GPS sent us hither and yon in the morning.

It was a great day with great folks. I'm so glad Michelle persuaded me to get out of my writer's cave for the day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dating disasters

I'll confess I wasn't ever a huge fan of dating. Maybe it was me; maybe it was the era I grew up in. I suppose going to an all girls' Catholic high school had something to do with it--and then going to an all male Catholic university the year it went coed. Dating just felt artificial, awkward, and uncomfortable.

Hmm. Should a romance writer admit that?

My favorite dating disaster story comes from my senior prom. A friend fixed me up with a boy from one of the area's all male high schools. He worked part time at a funeral home and wanted to be a priest.

Right. This is sounding real promising. But it gets better!

I had terminal cramps at the dinner before the prom. They were so bad, I had to go upstairs at my hostess's house to lie down. He came up to pat my hand and practice being sympathetic for when he was a priest, I guess. I sort of think the funeral home didn't let the high school guys anywhere near the bereaved.

When we got to the prom, some guy got sick in the bathroom and my date ditched me to tend to him.

Very memorable.

I did go to his prom a few weeks later. It must have been completely normal, since I can't recall a single detail.

Or, wait, maybe I can. I think we might have double dated with the friend who'd set me up with the guy in the first place. Her date--whom I think was in my class in grade school--held forth with some argument about ants having souls and being of the same "value" as people. My friend was scandalized by this, and ardent debater that she was, argued vehemently with him for the rest of the date.

Needless to say, this wasn't the beginning of a budding romance, though I think my friend actually dated the ant guy for quite a while.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dating issues

An article in Wednesday's Washington Post, "When to dump your date: Litmus tests in the age of Facebook," got me thinking. (Click here for the article.) My dating life was spotty and many, many years ago, but had I had superficial things that would make me dump a date--or not want to date someone at all?

Yes, I think I did.

I'm a bit height prejudiced. I couldn't get too romantically interested in a guy who was my height or shorter. And I wanted an older man--well, only a year or two older, but not my age and certainly not younger.

I once went out with a guy--again in high school--who wore those little shoe boots--I don't know if they even have them any more. They weren't real boots, but they weren't regular shoes either. Plus he'd installed a foot-shaped accelerator pedal in his car. Two strikes against him.

A guy got points in my book for driving stick shift. (I'm somewhat horrified to admit we no longer own a standard transmission car and none of my sons--except maybe the oldest whose wife is teaching him--can drive stick.) Driving a VW bug would be another plus.

I have to admit, I was a little concerned when I discovered Mr. M's family belonged to a country club.

Especially after writing yesterday's post, I was happy to see the women in the article gave guys points for cooking.

Of course, being the mother of four sons, I feel somewhat insulted that anyone might judge my boys on such superficial things.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


When I was newly married and still worked for the U.S. federal government, I had to go to California on business and leave Mr. M at home. The women I worked with on that trip wanted to know if I'd left the man a refrigerator full of prepared meals. I responded politely--no--but I was a bit insulted on Mr. M's behalf. Did they think him so helpless that he couldn't open a can of soup or make a sandwich?

Actually, I do "get" the concept of gender-specific jobs. I'm as prejudiced that way as--or more than--the next person. Car care and garbage toting are male jobs in my mind.

Er, I guess I'm a little less clear on female jobs. Maybe I'm just a touch lazy?

But cooking is different. When I was growing up, my mom did all the kitchen work--except the outdoor grilling. That was always dad's domain. But when dad retired, he took over the cooking duties. The same thing happened in Mr. M's family. And our oldest son, the aerospace engineer, is at the moment a professional triathlete, house husband, and the family chef. (My daughter-in-law blogs about their adventures in the kitchen--and elsewhere--here.)

Now that I think about it, Mr. M and I met in a kitchen. We were both first year law students, both living in the law dorm, and both learning how to cook in the dorm kitchen. Since our class "sections" never overlapped, we might not have had much interaction if Mr. M had followed his first inclination and purchased a meal plan. So I guess it's probably fair to say my whole life was changed by a kitchen.

I have to confess that Mr. M didn't immediately show signs of great culinary promise. Not that any of us law students were amazing chefs. Food was simple and quick, things like scrambled eggs and omelets. One memorable time, Mr. M tried to make pancakes. He cut all the ingredients in half, except the egg. How does one halve a single egg? The result was what we fondly refer to as "scrambled pancakes."

But he's progressed over the years. Now he watches cooking shows and collects recipes. He's the one who prepares all the holiday meals as well as our weekend feasts.

And what do I do? The dishes, of course!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Naked things

I've had a lot of fun with the Naked nobles, and one of the most amusing Naked activities is finding Naked products. We stumbled on this store, the Naked Tea & Coffee Company, in Brighton. If they have a web site, I couldn't find it.

I've seen Naked Juice trucks in my area. I was at a swim meet a few years ago with one of my Naked tote bags when a mom asked me if it had something to do with a local vineyard. Turns out there's the Naked Mountain Vineyard & Winery in nearby Virginia. (And there's also a Naked Winery in Oregon.)

Probably my favorite Naked establishment is the one we stumbled on when we were in Ocean City, Maryland a few years ago: The Naked Crab. Mr. M knows a gifting opportunity when he sees one--I got a Naked Crab t-shirt and hat for Christmas that year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Columbus Day!

Happy Columbus Day to everyone in the U.S.--and happy Thanksgiving to you Canadians.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday, but Mr. M doesn't get it off, so things here are business as usual--probably a good thing as I get more writing done when Mr. M is at the office.

Mondays are a gym day, so I'm off to do some running/jogging. I'm hoping to see a pal I haven't seen since the school year began. My youngest was in grade school with her oldest; she's the one who got me to join the gym. We used to be workout buddies, but her teaching schedule changed in September, so our paths haven't crossed.

But school is out today! Maybe we'll be able to chat and catch up. Conversation seems to make the minutes on the treadmill go by faster.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Jewel Tower

Back to our London trip. The Jewel Tower was something else we probably wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t gotten the London Pass.

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You might think there would be jewels in the Jewel Tower, but you would be wrong. It did once hold Edward III’s treasures.

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It had some seriously low doorways, as Mr. M. demonstrates. Fortunately, he didn’t literally demonstrate by whacking his head. There was a helpful sign on the other side that said: “Low Doorway. Please mind the step.”

The stairs were like many we encountered in the historic buildings—these are probably better than most of the Tower’s stairs.

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I’m happy to report we managed NOT to fall down any of them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Personal training

Yes, I survived my first session with the trainer, but it wasn't pretty.

On one hand I'm in good shape. I swim. I run--or perhaps purists would call it jogging, but I work up a sweat. I spend an hour to an hour and a half pretty much every day doing some kind of vigorous exercise. (Let's ignore for the moment all the hours spent writing butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. Good for books; not so good for butt.)

I don't even need to lose weight.

BUT I am in serious need of strength training. My goal is to be able to manage a 50 pound suitcase with, if not ease, then at least not a hernia. When I roll up to the counter to check my bag, I'd like to be able to get the damn thing on the scale without engaging in a serious wrestling match. Is that too much to ask?

And my doctor has become a bit of a pain at my annual physical. I'm at that age where bone density is a frequent topic. He tells me I need to lift weights.

I like to swim. I like to run. I like to move. I do not like to lift weights. Truthfully, I don't really know what to do and how to do it to get stronger without hurting myself.

Ergo, the trainer.

Gee, maybe I'll even be able to do a real push up some day!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back in the pool

For the last few years, I've been swimming with a Masters group twice a week on a fairly regular basis. But with one thing and another--session break, my trip to Europe, getting sick--I've been out of the pool for about two months. Tonight (I writing this Tuesday night) was my first night back, and--lucky me!--it was a distance night. We did some warm up--I felt fine. Actually good. And then came the main set--three 500s and two 250s for a total of 2,000 meters. Groan. I did it, but it was not a pretty sight. I was very happy there were only three of us in my lane and no one was in a huge hurry.

When the coach brought out the kickboards, I decided it was time to warm down and call it a night. I'm not much of a kicker in the best of circumstances--and tonight was definitely not the best of circumstances.

I lasted most of the practice--about an hour and 15 minutes out of an hour and a half practice. And tomorrow (today when this posts) I have my first session with the personal trainer.

More about that...if I survive.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Monument

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I’ll confess we saw some sights we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t gotten the London Pass before we left home. The Monument was one of these. We stumbled upon it in our trek from the Tower to St. Paul’s. It was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire that decimated London in 1666, so it’s possible my characters could have visited it. It stood out from its surroundings more back then.

This is a sketch of the Monument in 1811 taken from the Monument web site here.

We climbed the 311 steps to the top, took some pictures, and climbed down—and got a certificate to mark our accomplishment.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Gherkin

(My daughter-in-law told me about Windows Live Writer—I’m testing it out to see if it makes managing the blog better…or not!)

Friday I talked about the London Eye and how it seemed to dominate the London skyline. The Eye isn’t the only usual structure in London, of course. Mr. M. brought one to my attention even before we even left the States—”The Gherkin” or, more formally, 30 St. Mary Axe.

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In my opinion, it’s not as jarring to the senses as the Eye because it blends in with its surroundings more.

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I had fun looking for it from my varied vantage points above London. I confess it reminded me a bit of searching for the pickle when I read the Richard Scarry books to the kids.

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