Fifty, the New Fifty!

Sorry for the long delay between posts. Each morning (afternoon?) when I wake up I have to ask myself, “Where am I?”

First of all, I have decided to withhold judgment about President Obama. Let’s face it, he inherited a mess, and it is going to take time and BI-PARTISAN cooperation to even begin to fix this mess we’re in. People outside the Beltway seem to be giving him some breathing room, which is a good thing. We didn’t get in this mess overnight. It isn’t going to go away overnight, either. I just wish there was some way to stop the bleeding. I made the mistake of opening my 401K statement (up until now I have avoided looking), and almost cried. The deflated value of real estate values coupled with the disaster, also know as our pensions, is enough to send me to drink. One amusing side note on the budget mess I’d like to share. In late January, I received a notice from the California Franchise Board (their version of the IRS) telling me I owed almost $5400 for 2005. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that the State just assumed I must have hidden income since I am making my mortgage payments on time! After I stopped laughing, I asked the gentleman if this was one of Arnold’s ideas to go along with IOU’s. Just go after anyone, and see who is dumb enough to pay. Hopefully, Clarence (my contact) will get this sorted before they try and take Peregrine. If the California legislature and local mayors are smart they’ll spend some of their energy collecting from real tax offenders.

OK, so what have we been up to? Our dear friend, Nancy McClellan, lost her 18 year old dog, Honey, so Jeffrey and Emma did what they could to distract her. Nancy was kind enough to watch them while Stewart and I flew to Palm Springs for my mother-in-law’s 75th birthday. My brother-in-law, Lenny, took most of the pictures, so I will have to wait until he sends them to add some here. I do have one, however of Stewart with his mom on his lap. The apple didn’t fall far from that tree! I wonder how much it is worth to her NOT to post this…. Ginger’s party was great fun, and it was wonderful spending time with my three remarkable sisters-in-law. Tavia, Tara and Tonia are as different from each other as my sisters and I are from one another, however, each brings light into any room they enter. I know just how blessed I am in the in-law department. Let’s face it, when you marry a man, you also marry his family. Unfortunately, his brother, Mark, was unable to make it.

While we were back in SoCal, we met up with my dear friend, Peter Wolff. He is presently in LA working on a project using music for pain management and other therapies. I cannot wait to see how it turns out. He promised to let Stewart and I be his guinea pigs. Since we were all the way in Palm Springs, Peter took a train to Claremont where we met for a nice chat and an early dinner so he could catch the last train back to LA. When the three of us get to sharing ideas, and wine is added into the mix (Pepsi for Stewart), there was little chance of Peter making his train. We ended up eating at this wonderful little place called La Piccoletta Ristorante. The cioppino was so delicious that had they not had bread to sop up the broth, I would have drunk it with a straw! After dinner, we kidnapped Peter back to the desert and had a slumber party. Of course, when we looked at the train schedule for the morning, we failed to notice it only runs twice a week, so we had a nice chat back down towards Claremont.

After returning to Dallas, we spent one more week seeing friends and getting in the rest of my favorite restaurants. S&D Oyster Bar and Highland Park Pharmacy were both squeezed into one day (sort of like me and my jeans!). I had told Stewart that the seafood gumbo, oysters on the half shell, and bread pudding with whiskey sauce are some of the best he’d ever have anywhere. I am proud to say I was three for three. Unfortunately, Celebration was closed when we went so the staff could watch the Super Bowl. Real Texans will always put football first.

I do feel it is important to mention the place we stayed in Dallas. When I first booked Staybridge Suites I thought it would be gross. It was way further north than I would normally go, and it was on the tollway. It couldn’t have been better. The people were so nice, free laundry, breakfast, fitness room, free faxes (!), I could go on and on. When we went to Palm Springs, they allowed us to leave Peregrine in the parking lot, and gave us the same upgraded suite across the hall when we got back. Five cornstalks to them.

My birthday was on 4 February, and I really wanted to spend it in New Orleans, so we drove down the day before, and just walked the French Quarter that night. It was my first trip back post-Katrina, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked very much the same, but the feel was very different. Not as many homeless in doorways, less celebrants in general. Bourbon St. was still dirty and filled with the over-served, but there was a forced feel to the place. Breakfast at Cafe du Monde did wonders for my general happiness, though. Is there another place on earth that can do so much with powdered sugar, batter (beignets) and coffee? They are is still delicious and just as messy.

On the way to Cafe du Monde, we came across a very cool little store on Chartres called Dashka Roth. She makes wonderful jewelry and Judaica. I got a very cool pair of earrings for my birthday. She has the cutest little Maltese who is very happy to help out. If you have a few minutes, read her Katrina story on her website.

Late that day, we ate at Desire Oyster Bar on Bourbon St. Stewart had had my version of a po’boy, but I felt it was only fair he taste the real thing. Of course, now he’ll never look at mine the same. He swears he will, but I know better. Just a little tip, order the combo po’boy, and don’t eat the bread. It is about the same amount as food as the platter, but a lot cheaper. When we left, a walk was definitely in order. Plus, we only had one full day as we were leaving for Miami the 5th. We found this really cool store, Road Kill. I saw these awesome boots in the window, and just had to have them. I bet I’m the only one with rubber cowboy boots like these. They should be a hit fishing.

We went to hear this very talented band, The Bridge that night at Blue Nile. We got there a little early, so we went around the corner to Igor’s Checkpoint Charlie to listen to some music and shoot some pool. We met a nice guy from Pennsylvania, Tom Klich, who went with us over to hear The Bridge. The Big Easy is that way. Go where the mood takes you.

After New Orleans, we headed to Miami. Going through Mississippi, it was clear that there had been damage from Katrina, but not nearly to the extent in New Orleans. No levies broke in MS. That first night, we spent the night in Ocala, FL, which was experiencing the coldest temperatures on record. It was 26 degrees when we checked into our hotel. V-v-v-very cold! Nevertheless, we made it through the night, and headed down to south Florida in time to pick up my sister, Nancy and her significant other, Russ from the airport.

When we got to the condos I had booked at 8200 Byron in Miami, there were some initial problems, but eventually things were fine. Adam is the owner, and obviously new at the entire vacation rental thing. No sheets, no toilet paper, no soap…. Adam did do his best to make things right, and I am sure with time and experience, he will be great at vacation rentals. I would stay there again. Here is a picture I took out of the living room window with my phone.

The four of us fit as much into a few days together as possible. Nancy loves, loves to shop. so we walked through the shops of South Beach. The first night, though, they took me out to celebrate my birthday to this really great place, called Sushi Siam. The sushi was fresh, and the ambiance was wonderful. The sake was awesome, too.

My cousin, Fran and her husband Ron Sevcik hosted a family gathering for my birthday, combined with a going away party for our cousin, Stacy Schwatz, who moved back to DC. Cousins Brad and Freddie Ross came down, along with Freddie’s love, Cecily. My Aunts Dell and Dottie are still rockin’ their 80’s, and Uncle Zay is still amazing. I wish I could see them more often. The next night, the four of us (at Ron’s urging) headed down to Joe’s Stone Crab. Very expensive, but VERY awesome. Great sweet potato fries to go with the stone crabs. Old fashioned waiters in tuxedos. Very cool.

After Nancy and Russ headed back to freezing St. Louis, Stewart and I spent some time with my cousin, Alysson (Fran and Ron’s daughter) before heading for the Keys. She is actually more like a niece. What a sweetheart. She took us to a very cool Cuban tapas bar, and a Jewish deli – not at the same time. While at the tapas bar, I received a phone call letting me know that once again, I am a grandma. Kellan Vessie Robinson was born 9 February. I hope to see him soon. Vessie, was Buck and his father’s real name.

We have been in the Keys now for over a week, and have no idea when we are leaving. Life here is easy. Get up, fish a little, take the dogs to the beach, read, hang out, read some more. Of course, eat! After how crazy our pace has been since closing on the Colorado house Halloween, we are really enjoying the slower pace. No plans yet where to go next. Stewart wants to head up the west coast of Florida next. I’m more for a trip up to Hilton Head first. I’ll let you know which way the wind blows.

Now, for the saga of Jeffrey and Emma. First, Emma got sick staying with Nancy. Nancy spoiled her with treats. Way too many treats. Unfortunately, Emma was allergic, so once again chewed the hair off her legs. They had so much fun with her, though. Nancy let them climb all over her and the furniture. She said she’s going to get two Wheatens and name them Emma and Jeffrey. Too funny.

Everywhere we go people are surprised that we are able to travel so simply with two mid-size (sounds like a car!) dogs. The worst part is when they get into sticker bushes, or one decides to get sick in the back seat of the car. It is really no different than traveling with kids, except we don’t have to get a sitter. Just zip them into their kennels. It is a bit of a problem, though, because Emma is a bit of an escape artist. She has figured out how to unzip the kennel door, so now she is in her kennel attached to a leash attached to Peregrine’s wheel. Jeffrey, always the perfect gentleman, is content to wait for an invitation to exit his kennel. Stewart groomed them both this week, and they are looking lovely. Now at least, Emma’s legs match the rest of her.

Oh, that reminds me, I found the Jeffrey (person) for whom, my Jeffrey is named. An old friend, Jeffrey Shapiro, is a drummer from LA, and when I was around town while he traveled, I watched his Wheaten, David. I fell so in love with David, that I swore if I ever got another dog, I would get a Wheaten and name him Jeffrey. Jeffrey, the person, is still drumming, and can be heard in various tribute bands. Check out his Myspace page if you get a chance. I don’t know if he still uses it, but back in the day I redid his drum face for a show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Let’s talk ethanol, E85. It is more difficult to find than I had anticipated in certain states. For example, the nearest station to New Orleans is Baton Rouge. Not exactly around the corner. Also, since the E85 pump is frequently leased by an independent at a national station, the price can be greatly inflated. It is still cheaper than regular gasoline, but the savings is reduced by the station middleman (or woman).

The mileage is not a real problem. There doesn’t seem to be too much difference between gas and ethanol with or without Peregrine. The new spark plugs are great. It has definitely narrowed the miles per gallon, but gas is still leading in mpg. Actually, half a tank of each seems to be the winning combination. Obviously, this is not so simple when there is a huge distance between E85 locations. I do wish we were more efficient when towing, though. At least we are trying to do our part to help the environment and get off foreign oil.

A suggestion: Someone should come up with a user-friendly iPhone application to find alternative fuels using the built-in GPS. There is one for regular stations, but no way to tell which carry E85. All the web-based applications for E85 require that you know the zipcode – not something you’re
likely to do in the middle of nowhere.

After having spent some time in campgrounds now, I feel just fine about what we are doing. It amazes me to see motorhomes towing SUV’s. These folks bring all the comforts of home with them on the road. At the end of the day, they don’t have much more than we do with a little imagination and effort. OK, so a toilet and shower would be nice, but we have a TV tuner with a built-in DVR on our laptop, WiFi, a comfortable queen bed, seating, a table to eat at, book shelves. What more does a person really need?!

It is now clear to me that I have waited entirely too long in between updates. Please forgive me if this is too boring. There were just too many things to cram into one post. I will not be waiting so long in the future! If you have any suggestions for where to go next, please let me know. One last thing, we put Peregrine’s awning up for the first time (top picture). Doesn’t it remind you of your grandmother’s table cloth?! Be well.

Best of Luck, President Obama!

Today is a momentous day for all Americans, and for the world. For the 44th time, after a contemptuous election season, the transfer of power from one administration to the other, occurred without incident. Granted, Cheney went screaming and kicking, and had to be confined to a wheelchair, but he still went. That is what makes this country stand out as a beacon for so many other nations of the world whose elections are not transparent, and whose rightfully elected officials are blocked from assuming their rightful offices. It’s you, Mugabe, I’m talking to! It is a wonderful thing to witness. Even when we don’t agree with the election results, our candidate doesn’t win, we have an expectation, as Americans, that January 21st we will wake up to a peaceful nation with a new leader. Right on! Now to the latest in our odyssey….

We are still in Dallas, TX. It has been so wonderful to see so many dear friends. My roots run deeper here than I realized. Only after having moved away from Big D, and returning for a visit, do I realize how much of me has always been here – even when I am not. Everyone who has met Stewart immediately opened their arms and hearts to him, making him an honorary Texan. He even got himself a pair of boots and a hat. Every night before bed, I have to assure him he can put them back on in the morning. As we say here, “Bless his heart.”

On New Year’s Day, we were fortunate enough to be the guests of the Honorable John Creuzot as he was sworn in to office for his sixth term. In 1992, I was John’s first campaign manager, and can tell you if ever a man deserved to sit on the bench it is him. Congratulations, John. Of course, the fanciest clothes we have with us are dress flip flops, so off to the stores we went. Shopping at Northpark on New Years Eve was just like old times. Just the sizes were different, and my sister, Nancy wasn’t there to help me pick. With the help of my iPhone camera, she was still able to advise me on my ensemble. As I walked back to the car after the event, I used the power of positive thinking to place one foot in front of the other. I made it to the vehicle without having to remove my high-heel shoes. As the feeling returned to my feet, I could not help but feel at one with those who are tortured with a hammer. Now I remember why I don’t wear heels anymore. Stewart and I took turns watching out for passersby as we changed into our Levi’s and flats (of course, for Stewart it was boots) in the back seat of the car for lunch and a movie with Michael Allison and his partner, Andrew. Overall, a great way to start 2009.

The time has gone by far too quickly. We spent time with so many great friends. Bruce Horton (pictured), jewelry maker extraordinaire; Nancy McClellan, chiropractor and acupuncturist; Mark Perez, attorney at law; John Hitt, Professor of Government, Northlake College; just too many to name. Stewart picked up his 20 year chip, and was a relative newcomer in a room full of people who have been sober since we were in our early teens! We had lunch with my former professor and friend, Emile Sahliyeh, Dean of the International Studies department UNT in Denton. We discussed strategies for peace in the Middle East, and texting while driving. Apparently, Emile thinks texting while driving is unsafe. I explained to him that it is only unsafe for men. Women, on the other hand, are expert at multi-tasking.

Beth and Doug Brown invited us to spend a few days with them in Edom, TX. Beth and I met 20 years ago when we started a women’s group in Dallas. At the time, Beth was making leather goods. She has since moved on to become a very talented potter working with her husband to create remarkable pieces for their shop, Pottersbrown. As soon as we have a home that is bigger than 86 square feet, we will become collectors. They operate on the honor system. If you stop by the shop, and no one is there, just take what you like and leave the money on the counter. Squeaky may be there to greet you. Edom is a small town full of artisans and crotchety old men. If you find yourself in East Texas, it is definitely worth stopping.

For those of you who have been in our landlocked home, you have seen our beautiful artwork. The artist who created several of our pieces is Arie Van Selm. Arie is a Dutch painter and sculptor who is in galleries all over the world. I know him as my friend. He and his wife, Yutta, are having us over Wednesday night. Arie paints at his home, so it is always exciting to see what he is working on. I am looking forward to them meeting Stewart. Don’t be surprised if we end up expanding our collection. His Marilyn (smile) series through the 90’s, has been followed by a series entitled Tango-Birds. Very cool.

Ok, now to the highlight of all our blog entries, Jeffrey and Emma. Oh, for the life of Riley. The two hairiest members of our household are having a blast. Between trips to dog parks and runs through parking structures, they are getting the most out of their time in Dallas. We saw Marley & Me last Saturday, and rushed home to play with them. We took them to a neighborhood dog park where Jeffrey proceeded to herd all the dogs into a group in the center. One of the dogs, a black lab, decided that Jeffrey was pretty cute, and wanted to mate. The look on Jeffrey’s face was priceless!

Nancy McClellan’s loyal dog of 18 years, Honey, passed away Sunday morning, so Jeffrey and Emma decided that their reason for being was to shower Nancy (yes, shower with saliva) with love and affection. It is
difficult to stay sad in the company of these two canines. Of course, Nancy gave them doggie ice cream, and many, many treats. They are so easily bought.

We are off to Palm Springs, CA on Thursday for Stewart’s mom, Ginger’s 75th birthday. Nancy has generously offered to keep Jeffrey and Emma for us while we are gone. I can only imagine how spoiled they will be when we get back. I’ll keep you posted.

One More Thing…


We are hearing some really great music and seeing some really fantastic art along the way. Two in particular that we have been meaning to tell you about are NIAYH and Amy Rogers.

On the night Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, we went to Avogadro’s a campus staple in Fort Collins, and watched with a few hundred other people. After the speech, NIAYH (Now Is All You Have), a Portland Oregan band, performed and blew our socks off. They were amazing! We liked them so much, we invited them for dinner that weekend. You have never met a nicer, more talented group of young people. Give them a listen. Let’s hope they make it big.

Next, while we were in UK, we visited with our friends, Stephen and Leigh Rogers. Their daughter, Amy Rogers is an amazing artist. She creates all these wonderful images combining traditional artwork with computer enhanced imaging. I, of course, know nothing of what I am writing about, but her work is definitely worth seeing. Another young person we hope to see in galleries who we can say we knew when… Good luck to them all.

Here are links to our web albums. We will add more as we can. Also, we will add captions over time. Promise. Mara’s pics and Stewart’s pics

Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas!

It has been quite a crazy time for us since our last entry. We began our road trip in earnest, leaving Fort Collins behind until we return for our belongings.

Let’s start with Las Vegas, New Mexico. This will be quick, as there isn’t much there. We stayed there because it was the closest KOA to Santa Fe (the one in Santa Fe is closed after October), and looked pretty. I think the owners photographed the campgrounds under the only tree for miles around. It was so late when we arrived, we decided to spend the first night in a cabin. When we woke up, everything was covered in snow, so we stayed in the cabin for four nights. The dogs each had their own bunk, and had a blast. They ran around in the snow trying to bury things – Emma mostly her head. Remember, she’s blond. Jeffrey just rolls his eyes and keeps his distance from his crazy baby sis.

Santa Fe has really grown. Gone are the days of quaint galleries, restaurants and spas along dirt roads. Now, they even have Cold Stone right along side a GAP. It is still worth going for the beautiful jewelry and clothes. Also, the people watching is great. I would definitely recommend a trip there if nothing else for Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort. They pamper you like no where else I’ve ever been.

Our next stop was Carlsbad, New Mexico. This place made Las Vegas look like a forest. There were about 100 campers there, and we were the only ones in a teardrop. Some of those campers are bigger than homes. They have all the comforts of home – satellite dishes, microwaves, double ovens – you name it. I was a bit intimidated with our teardrop (Peregrine) and porto-potty. When the winds hit 85 mph, it was scary. The tent room was fighting becoming airborne, and Peregrine rocked violently. After it was all over, we had three broken poles, and a torn tent. Stewart was able to make new poles that are stronger than the old ones, but we still need to locate a tent maker to sew up the torn bits. We have an entirely new respect for the pioneers who settled the west. And they did it without a heater and refrigerator!

If you are wondering why Carlsbad, I’ll tell you. Carlsbad Caverns is awesome! I have wanted to go there all my life, and it did not disappoint. It takes over an hour to get to the bottom, and it is 56 F degrees all year. It is also pitch black, but there are lights strategically placed so you don’t fall 754 ft and kill yourself. There was hardly anyone there this time of year, so it was doubly magical having the place practically all to ourselves. You have to whisper because voices carry up to half a mile. That was especially difficult for Stewart who doesn’t hear quite as well as he used to. Too many rock concerts. These pictures don’t do the place justice. Go to the National Park Service website or better yet, go to Carlsbad yourself. We recommend Lucy’s Mexicali Restaurant & Entertainment. The green chili queso was delicious.

The next day, our last in New Mexico, we ventured north to Roswell, home of the most thoroughly documented (and covered up) sighting in the United States. The UFO Museum and Research Center is one of the cheesiest places we have ever been. It is worth going just for the laughs. For all intents and purposes, the museum is a bunch of photocopied sheets wrapped in Saran Wrap! There are plastic aliens, and aluminum foil space ships. No kidding! Oh, and the crowning glory is the alien autopsy (see picture). The folks who work there take it really seriously, so if you go, laugh behind your hand. The dogs were allowed in, which was nice, so they added to our enjoyment because they believed everything they saw. In fact, Jeffrey is still sleeping with his pet alien.

We are now in Dallas, TX, my home town. No sooner did we get here than we left for Gordon, TX (no relation) to spend the weekend with my good friend, Steven Herzog and his partner, Shawn. They have a gorgeous 50 acre ranch where you can pet their longhorn cattle. No joke! They are so sweet. Of course, we stayed on the other side of the fence just in case. After introducing us to their neighbors, we were taken on a tour of this 6000 acre heaven. If you are looking for a little bit of heaven right outside the city, this is it. 7R Ranch is beautiful. It felt a bit like it was designed and built by Ralph Lauren. If we were thinking about settling back in Texas, this would be a great place to retire.

Sunday night, back in Big D, we all had dinner with Michael Allison and his partner, Andrew. It was so wonderful being back on my old familiar stomping grounds. We ate at Gloria’s over in Oakcliff, one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Don’t ask me why, but I just love it. Salvarorian food is delicious, plus there are many things that are not red meat for me to eat. Stewart didn’t speak, once again, because he was busy eating! Going by my old house where I grew up on Lavendale was a bit traumatic. In the place of my families beautiful white brick home with the ivy covered columns was this modern monstrosity. Of course, that is par for the course for Dallas. Anything over ten years old gets torn down! The bones of the neighborhood were the same, but everything was different. No more Lester Melnick or Wall’s Delicatessen (my first job). Instead, Borders Books and Music is where the old Safeway used to be, and White House/Black Market used to be a gas station. All in all, it is good to be home. We are going to a movie over at Northpark tonight – an old Christmas day tradition, and tomorrow I am getting my hair cut by Lawrence Bonano, who has cut my hair for over 20 years followed by lunch at Lucky’s with John Hitt, my old college buddy. We’re going to one of the judges whose campaign I ran back in 1992, John Creuzot’s re-swearing in New Year’s Day, and lunch at UNT with my old professor, Dr. Sahliyeh on the 5th…Who said you can’t go home?

We followed the Yellow Brick Road…


...and ended up in St. Louis, Missouri. Wow, what a beautiful place. We went up to the top of the Arch – all 630 ft! Do you know not a single person was killed during the building of the Arch, and there was no OSHA (i.e., no harnesses, no safety features at all)! My sister, Nancy, has lived in St. Louis for almost 17 years, and had never gone up. I guess she was embarrassed to wait at the bottom while we all rode the tram to the top, so she joined us. It was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and it sways 18″. Stewart, of course, kept trying to make it sway more.

For any of you who have not yet been to the “Show Me” state, Ted Drewes is a local tradition. During the summer months, the line wraps around the block with customers clambering for a concrete (custard mixed with yummy ingredients). Tonight, however, it was f-f-f-freezing, and the only ones in line besides us were those there to pick up their Christmas trees. The picture is Stewart with my brother-in-law, Russ.

Our Chrysler 300M is now running smoothly on E85. So far, this is what we can report about the conversion experience: It was a bear to install because of the location under the hood; the car runs like a rocket ship! Acceleration is even more powerful than it was before; finding E85 stations has its own set of challenges; and cold starts (below 18 degrees F) require some patients. It turns out there are certain little tricks that we still need to learn. If you are interested in converting your car or truck, David Virtue is your guy. You can reach him at davidv@change2E85.com. His website is www.change2e85.com.

We didn’t bring Peregrine (the T@B) to St. Louis since we had to return to Fort Collins. This also gave us the opportunity to clock the mileage difference. There doesn’t really seem to be any. If anything, the car seems to have more zip for less money. Sarah, my niece, went with me to find a station in her neighborhood. I must admit it felt very cool to be doing something that was so very granola-ish.

On the way back through the heartland, we stopped in Topeka, KS, and came across Ted Drewe’s competition. Freddy’s Frozen Custard. Stewart didn’t even speak the entire time he was eating, and said if he could fit his head in the glass, he would to lick it! Try the Signature Turtle. Stewart said it was in the top ten things he had eaten in his life. So much for my cooking! 5 cornstalks.

One of our blog entries would not be complete without an entry on the state of world affairs. Please skip over this if our views make you cringe. Here goes…. Are we loving Obama’s cabinet picks, or what!? Hillary as Secretary of State will allow for intelligent debate at the highest levels, send a message to the world that we are serious about working WITH them toward peace through diplomacy when possible, and force when necessary, and as an added bonus, situate Clinton for a successful run in 2016. Also, the choice of Gen. James L. Jones, coupled with keeping on Robert Gates for another year certainly shows excellent judgement. Hopefully, the confirmation process will be a smooth one. The tragedy in Mumbai reminds us all that life is so fragile, and anything that can be done to bring people together instead of tearing them apart at least gives us a chance to find solutions that suit everyone – not just the few. We are loving Bill Richardson for Commerce Secretary, as well as Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security. Susan Rice is a natural bridge-builder, and Tom Daschle for Health and Human Services may actually get us the coverage for ALL Americans we so dearly need.

Have you noticed Obama already has that haggard Presidential look about him? I have never been able to figure out why “43” looks so tired. He took more vacation time than any Prez in my lifetime. Maybe being the most unpopular President in history takes it out if ya’.

On a lighter note, Jeffrey and Emma are really enjoying themselves. We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Clayton, MO, and the dogs lived the vita loca. Look how Jeffrey has his paw around Emma. Too cute. Everywhere we go, people stop us to ask the questions on everyone’s mind: Can they see? Do they shed? Are they siblings? How hard are they to groom?

On the way to and from St. Louis we stayed at the Americinn in Russell, KS. The people there were so nice, and they loved our dogs! Also, the continental breakfast was huge. So, assuming they would all be great, we booked the Americinn back in Ft. Collins. What a difference. Definitely not consistent across locations. So, 5 cornstalks for Russell, and 2 cornstalks for Ft Collins.

Tomorrow, we leave Colorado for New Mexico. First stop, Santa Fe, followed by Carlsbad. We cannot wait to go to Roswell and see the UFO museum, here we come! Dallas comes next, unless the wind blows us elsewhere. We’ll keep you posted.For now, signing off, Mara and Stewart

Happy Birthday, Prince Charles!

After much rushing around, we finally made it to the UK. Just in time, it seems, for the Queen’s eldest son to celebrate his 60th birthday. There is much speculation here as to whether HRH will step aside for Charles, but I’m afraid our stay here will be long over before that decision is made public.

Our reception here has been wonderful. Everyone seems sincerely relieved that Obama was elected. Many of us forget that the Brits have men and women in harms way in Iraq as well. In fact, two Royal Marines were killed this week. There does seem to be a hopefulness that is spreading around the world – even as the economy appears to be imploding. Of course, for the first time in years, the dollar is up against the pound, so we have a bit more buying power than usual on our trip. In other words, we can afford to buy the occasional round!


We’ll be renting a car next week, and taking a few day trips. Friday, we go to London for the weekend before flying home to … oops! Not sure where home is! Let me rephrase that, we fly back to Denver to pick up Jeffrey and Emma, then head for St. Louis. Sadly, my brother-in-law, Russ’s family suffered a tragedy this week, so celebrating Thanksgiving will be more about being together than about food and football. Life is so unpredictable.

On a lighter note, my favorite judge, John Creuzot, was re-elected to his 5th term in office. Some of you will remember that I ran John’s campaign in 1992. I consider it one of my proudest career highlights. John has done incredible things with his position, and has helped countless individuals with substance abuse problems turn their lives around. His website, http://www.judgecreuzot.com/, shows video testimonials to his good works. Yay, John!!

Hope all of you are well and safe. We will be back in touch once we are back over the pond. I already miss Ann and Tony, and we having even left. Cheerio and all that stuff!

President Obama!!

Stewart and I came back down to civilization in order to contribute in our own small way to the democratic process. We walked precincts up in Wellington knocking on doors making sure that those who said they’d vote, did. It was so exciting to listen to people, proudly wearing their “I voted” stickers, tell us they had stood in line to vote for Obama. We were so exhausted at the end of the day so we celebrated back at Peregrine [OK, so I am calling T@B that until otherwise instructed]. What a sweet victory.

When we got back to Fort Collins on Tuesday, the weather was mild and the sun was shining. Yesterday, the wind picked up, and this morning I awoke from a dream at sea. Believe me, 40 mile per hour winds in a 1200 lb trailer is REALLY windy. Instead of oatmeal, I wanted Dramamine. Stewart was able to do his magic, and we are no longer rocking with each gust. so now, I am a happy camper!

Our plans may require a quick trip back here after sharing Thanksgiving in Olivette, MO with my sister, Nancy and her family. We will know more about that in the coming days. Alas, I am not disappointed, because the point of this trip is to take things as they come. We’ll keep you posted. Besides, in the meantime, we are off to the UK on Sunday. We will be there for two weeks, so don’t be surprised if our posts have an accent!

We did it!

We did it! With a few hiccups, we still managed to hit the road, and get to Walden before the sunset. It was in question for a bit as our movers flaked. They came for a few hours, spent their time talking to each other between complaints, and checking their phones for texts. As soon as one came in for a Halloween party, they were gone. My beloved rabbi and our friend, Yerachmiel Gorelick, managed to find us one guy to help from 8-midnight. He was a lifesaver. I ended up going to the closing alone while Stewart stayed and slaved away on the final cleaning of the house.

The drive here was gorgeous. We skirted the Poudre River the entire way. First it was on our left, then our right. The snow on the mountain tops juxtaposed against the streaming water was magical. We picked up our fishing licenses, then headed for our site. Just as final darkness descended, we built a fire, made popcorn, and sat down to rest. There is a certain quality to the darkness when the nearest city or town is 90 miles away. It is like nothing a city dweller ever gets to see outside of a planetarium. [Commentary: That is why the new $3mm projector in Chicago is so important] The crackling fire, and the dogs wandering through the brush was the only sound for what seemed like forever. One other soul was here when we arrived. He left today to head home for work tomorrow. Poor guy!

Name Our T@B!!!!


Stewart and I have decided to name our little trailer. The problem is we can’t decide on a name. I like the name Peregrine, which means wanderer. Perry for short. My case for this name also invokes the image of Peregrine Took, or Pippin from Lord of the Rings, who was certainly a wanderer – and a faithful friend to Frodo Baggins. We certainly hope the T@B will be our friend (i.e. no flat tires, broken hitches, etc.). Stewart likes Tabatha, which means gazelle. Though it is cute – Tabatha, T@B – it is probably the name of a million other T@B’s. Gazelle is a lovely word, yet hardly expresses the spirit of our journey. In fairness to his choice, we would have a better chance of finding a key chain or coffee mug (or mini license plate) with Tabatha than Peregrine. OK, folks. It’s up to you. What would YOU name our T@B? We are taking suggestions, and will let you know the winning name soon.

Here is picture of Peregrine, I mean T@B, for inspiration.

Preparing for our Journey

Welcome to our blog. Over the coming months, we will update you all on where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. But first, we have to leave home. Our days are presently filled with chaos, clutter and excitement. OK, so maybe excitement is overstating it. Exhaustion is probably a better description. I don’t remember shopping, so where did all this stuff come from to pack? Gremlins have invaded our home and left all their stuff – especially stuff that is almost impossible to pack. Have you ever tried packing a cement mixer? I thought not.
Jeffrey and Emma, our two soft-coated wheaten terriers are so excited. Of course, they don’t understand exactly what is going on, but they sense something is up. we have a T@B trailer that we will be pulling, and we all slept a few nights in it just to check it out. We learned that dogs snore (especially Emma), and they will need regular baths.

We have ordered an E85 conversion kit for our Chrysler 300M that should arrive tomorrow. It is important to us that we are responsible citizens of the earth even while we indulge our adventurous spirits. There is a great website that shows you the closest station selling E85 by zip code. It is fairly inexpensive to convert a vehicle (under $500), and the fuel is cleaner AND cheaper. For any of you looking to buy a new car, but want to wait for the next generation technology, this might be a good interim way to go. We’ll let you know.
Anyway, we close on the house Friday afternoon. Saturday, our odyssey commences. First stop Walden, Colorado, population 658. If you are interested in learning more about it, here is a link http://www.colorado.com/Walden.aspx. Of course, we’ll be back in civilization for the election next Tuesday. We wouldn’t miss helping out at GOTV and the victory party for the world. Check back with us. We will update and include pictures as we go. Please send us your ideas for places to go, as well as things to see and do. Maybe we’ll stop in along the way. Promise to call first. Signing off from post one, Mara and Stewart