Category Archives: Travel

Billboards, Posters, Dogs

The first thing I do each time I check into a hotel is to check out the view from the window. This is particularly interesting when I am in a city or airport hotel – as the variety is so great.  In Peru, the first of our hotels was literally just across four lanes of traffic from the Lima Airport so I was happy that my room actually faced the parking lot on the city side and not the actual airport.  (Although I have to admit that it didn’t really matter as I spent very little time in this room!)

One of the things that I’ve noticed about many cityscapes worldwide is that many countries have not yet abandoned the billboard the way that we have here in the states, although I don’t think I’ve EVER seen anything like the giant six-pack of Coke that was in my view. The other thing that is very common is posters plastered around business entrances.  In Peru, the zoning laws are spotty so you can have business and residences crowded together, making it likely that you’ll be looking at posters for all kinds of goods and services as you approach your home.

The other noticeable difference is the large numbers of stray dogs that roam around many of the cities in Peru (although not as much in Lima). Most of the dogs I saw seemed not only well-fed but well-behaved.  And very nonchalant about their lifestyle.  You could find dogs sleeping in all kinds of places where  you would think they would be skittish.  This dog decided to plop itself down to snooze among a group of Japanese tourists in the train station – as if he were just part of the luggage:

Tell me about the view from your window!

I Love a Parade

Last Thursday morning at 6:00,  Husband and I and four of our travelling companions  left our hotel on Times Square, walked down 49th St, crossed  Broadway, and made our way over to 6th Ave where we found a nice open space of sidewalk right across from Simon and Schuster Publishing  House to claim as ours for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Prime areas near the corner were cordoned off, reserved for widows and orphans of police and fire fighters.

The curbside was already claimed by some intrepid souls who got there at 5:00. It was cold, but we felt warm gusts of air from the subway through grates in the sidewalk.  The teenager in our group promptly laid down on the metal grates and went to sleep until the parade started.  I kept pretty warm in my lined jacket, but it really helped when a Netflix representative handed out Green Eggs and Ham earmuffs to everyone around us.

 Police patrolled on foot and bicycle, and were blocking off side streets with metal barriers. The people nearby us were from Arizona, Minnesota, and Connecticut as well as City residents.  We shared stories and took turns getting coffee and pastries as the sun rose.

The parade began many blocks north in Central Park, and got to us at about 9:30.  There had been much anxiety if the balloons would fly, as it was pretty windy, but fly they did, although closer to the ground than was typical. The were loads of clowns in charming costumes, dancers of all ages, lots of stilt walkers,  and lovely floats. Many of the participant were school aged children who looked  so happy and proud to be in the parade. I really liked the Christmas trees on stilts.

The marching bands were from all over the country.  Their chaperones and parents marched right along behind them. We had fun judging the straightness of their rows and columns.  (“Guide right!”) The biggest group was The Second Time Around Marching Band comprised of dozens of quite aged baton twirlers, pom pom wavers, and musicians in natty uniforms  who looked ecstatic to be marching again. The floats were elaborate and featured singers, TV personalities, and actors. I wasn’t very familiar with most of them, but our teenager assured me they were  quite famous

Astronaut Snoopy was the first balloon, with the Grinch and his dog, Max the last.

The parade ended for us at 11:30 with Santa on his float.  The side streets were still blocked to motor traffic, and it was fun to meander with hordes of New Yorkers  in the lanes normally full of honking cabs and cars and buses.  We all trooped back to the hotel and took naps. It had been a long, cold wait, but well worth it.

Tell some parade stories. What would you like to do in a parade?

New York Nice

We have been in New York City for  week, and all in our group are pleasantly surprised by how friendly and helpful people are here. One of our traveling companions is a former detective in our police department back home, who admitted that he was expecting violence and mayhem on every corner. His  Grade 12 daughter left her purse in a cab on their way to the symphony, and she managed to get it back the same evening  because the next passenger  turned it in. People in the long wait for the Macy’s parade saved one another’s spots for snack and bathroom breaks. People accommodated small, short children so they could better see the parade.  It has been refreshing.

What has restored your faith in people lately? 

The Cosmic Kitty

You probably never thought that you wake up to Verily Sherrilee recommending a car shop. Well, I guess recommend is a strong word.  Here’s the deal.

Last month my BFF and I went to a concert downtown (same night as *45s rally but luckily no consequences from that). As we were parking the car in the underground ramp, I saw this crazy decorated car.  It looked like one of those “art cars” that you see at the state fair.   I know I wouldn’t want to drive this around all the time (heck, I can’t even bring myself to put a bumper sticker on my car) but I thought it might be fun for a bit so I took a couple of quick pictures.

As we were heading back to the car after the concert, there was a woman unlocking it so I stopped to talk. I told her that I loved the car and hoped she didn’t mind if I had taken a couple of photos.  She said not a problem because it wasn’t her car.  It was a loaner car from the garage where her car was getting repaired.

Turbo Tim’s Anything Automotive was easy to find online and they are different than most other garages. They have photos of all their employees (mostly younger than you would expect) online, have a nice-looking garage cat, are involved in a lot of giving back to the community and then there are the art cars.  Looks like there are at least two: Cosmic Kitty and another sedan with oceanscape scenery.

They look intriguing to me so in the future, I might have to schlep farther north for car repair to see if I can get the Cosmic Kitty on loan!

Who do you trust to fix YOUR stuff?

Mind Games

Jacque mentioned yesterday that she thought Husband’s challenge for imaginary dinner guests was the result of filling time during Great Plains travel. She wasn’t far off.  Travel out here is tedious. People at the conference I attended were somewhat surprised to hear that we drove to Minneapolis, since it was “only” 500 miles from our home.

I listen to classical music on the radio, either streamed from MPR at home or at work, or else the Symphony Hall station on our car radio. I challenge myself to identify the composer and/or the name of the piece before the announcer says them.  I pretend I am in a competition. I listen to music whenever I can, so I do the challenge quite a lot. I have  a really good auditory memory, and I recognize pieces quite quickly. (I can always tell if it is the Concordia Choir on the MPR Choral Stream just by the sound.)  It is coming up with the name of the piece and the composer that is tricky. I find that the more pieces I recognize, the harder it is to sort out exactly what the name of the piece is. My brain is getting too full.  I am pretty good at recognizing pieces by Brahms or Schumann. They have distinctive patterns of harmonies and rhythms. Mendelssohn and Schubert can sometimes confuse me.  I always know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, but sometimes  late Prokofiev sounds like Shostakovitch

As I was in a wind band in college, I can identify Vaughan Williams and Holst and Grainger very easily, but distinguishing Molly on the Shore from Handel in the Strand is sometimes hard.   I am  somewhat embarrassed to say that I  can always identify the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper and also know the name of the composer. It is so distinctive.

I know that Baboons have various areas of interest. Mine is classical music. I hope that my classical habit helps keep my mind alert and healthy.

What are you doing that keeps your mind active and healthy. How are you at identifying the names of musical pieces and their composers?

Getting the Lard Out

I have become wary of telling Husband what I want, or if I like something, because he takes it on himself to make certain I get  it.  Sometimes  I just make an offhand comment about liking something, with no expectation of getting it, and Husband takes it to heart and feels responsible  for it.   I think it has something to do with his being an older brother of a younger sister and feeling responsible for her happiness. My father was the same way with me.  One can only be considered spoiled under these circumstances if one comes to expect such treatment.  I don’t expect it, so I am not spoiled!

Last week I took the last jar of home-rendered lard out of the freezer as I needed it for pie crusts. I told Husband that we would need to render more lard some time. I didn’t mean that I wanted to do it right away, but that was how Husband interpreted it, and he set to work finding some pork fat for me to render.  I came home for lunch to find a disgruntled man who had been unsuccessful in finding any pork fat from our usual sources. He even phoned butcher shops in Fargo, Brookings, and Canby, MN.   I assured him that it wasn’t a crisis, and that it was fine if we didn’t find any.  There are lots of good pie crust recipes that don’t call for lard. Husband was still  fretful. I just hoped he would forget about it and stop ruminating.

Yesterday while I was in my meetings, Husband chanced on a farmers market on Nicollet Avenue, and found a source for leaf lard and pork fat from a guy who raises hogs in New Richmond, WI.  He and Husband talked lard and, after several phone calls back to the farm to check on supplies, he and Husband arranged for us to pick up 10 pounds of leaf lard and other pork fat from him at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Saturday morning.   Lard crisis averted.  It remains to be seen what Husband will ruminate about next.

What have you gone to extremes to find or accomplish? What is your favorite pie crust?  What do you ruminate about?

Right or Wrong

Today marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing on an island near the Bahamas and believing he was in  Asia. My, was he wrong.  No one in my father’s family was ever wrong, so they thought.  They believed they were really French.  They just couldn’t reconcile themselves to be Dutch.  In reality, they are Frisian, but how do you explain what that means? I never expected Ronald Reagan to be elected president. My, was I wrong.

When have you been really, really, right? When have you been really, really, wrong?