Wednesday, June 27, 2012

File this under "Duh, George!"

This study comes out just in time as I'm beginning to realize how expensive a 12-year Scotch whiskey habit can be. Moderate wine consumption linked to happiness. Hmm. I must say, I like the 'two glasses of wine per day' (for women) formula much better than the 'one per' you typically read about it. In fact, when they say 'no more than 3 per day,' I like it even better. Keep in mind, they're not talking about health, but happiness. Yes, but aren't the two inextricably linked?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sabi: Helping your medicine cabinet look hip

I've always said that the companies who figure out how to make aging cool will win baby boomers' hearts in the end (or, better yet, a decade or two before the end.) The stakes are high. There are 78 million of us and gazillions of dollars to be made on our inevitable decline. Enter Sabi. With a mission "....to create products that are intuitively and beautifully designed in order to infuse life’s daily rituals with delight," Sabi boasts that their products "marry superb functionality, simplicity, and aesthetics to make the most mundane to-dos – from taking your daily vitamins to taking out the trash – more enjoyable." I received this bevy of review samples in the mail yesterday: pill folio (aka: 'pill organizer'), dispenser, chopper, crusher and holster. I have to admit, I like the look - sleek, simple and utilitarian....although two of my friends have said they'd need 3 pill folios to hold all their supplements. (Sigh.) Still, I give it two yet-to-be-arthritic thumbs up.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One more vacation story

Well, what else was I going to write my column about this week? It's not like anything else has happened lately. Here it is, the final final word.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quote for the day

Stolen from Facebook. Spot freaking on - even at our age, sometimes - don't you agree?

The night I drove old Dixie down

The adult daughter boomeranged back into the independent world this week. (See my reaction here.) So, what did we do? Replace her with this....
Meet Dixie Cup, a full-bred Clumber Spaniel rescue dog, whom I picked up last night at the kennel. It's a "trial" weekend to make sure she and Lucy, our dog in residence, will get along. We can always take her back. Yeah, like that's going to happen. She's the sweetest thing ever. (But, suffering saliva! You should see her drool.) Did I mention the hubs leaves today for his 40-year high school reunion? (No, I'm not going. When you've been married this long, you've earned the right to opt out of such torture.) So, it's just me, Lucy and Dixie this weekend. I think I'll treat the girls to a little Mad Men marathon. I have a finale to catch up on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Photos that made the cut

Portree, Scotland
I've got one of those digital photo frames that puts on a little slide show every time you switch it on. So, you see, there's been a method to my mad postings since returning home: sorting the good shots from the 'what was I thinking?' shots or, in many cases, blurry pictures of my feet. As my final post from the "Vacation That Seems to Have No End," here are a few - just a few - of my favorites:
A food server takes in the view after breakfast (anchored off the Isle of Skye, Scotland).
The Standing Stones of Stenness - Kirkwall, Scotland










It cracks me up that I would even think of doing this.
Molly Malone statue ("Alive, Alive-oh") with leprechaun. Because even the Irish are a wee bit Disney.
St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. Digging the arches.
Seriously good Scotch. Seriously.
St. Magnus Cathedral. This could be Magnus himself. Gotta love a saint who sleeps on the job.

St. Magnus Cathedral. Again, the arches. So cool.
Cruise friends: Anna and Steve from Munich
Thank God all bars aren't this pretty. I'd drink all the time.  
In Edinburgh. (Only because Johnston is my maiden name.) 


Ditto.  In Dublin.

The upside to all that rain

Returning home to hot, drought-like conditions makes me wistful for the lovely gardens I saw in the cool, drippy UK. Here are a few of my favorites:
Hotel George - London
Hotel George - London
Hotel George - London
Hotel George - London (at dusk)
The Palm House - Belfast
The Palm House - Belfast


St. Stephen's Square - Dublin

Men in pubs

While sorting through photos from the trip, it occurs to me how often I was outnumbered by members of the opposite sex in the (many) public houses we visited. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Our friends in Belfast who helped us slay the evil tour bus operators. More on that story later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The murals of Invergordon






The day we docked in Invergordon, we rented a car to explore the Scottish countryside (Inverness is nearby) and didn't spend much time in the town itself. I did, however, manage to click these shots of the town's famous murals before we turned in our ride. The project is called Off The Wall.

Scottish send-off

One of the coolest moments of the cruise was this bagpipe band that serenaded us as we sailed off from Invergordon. There was no announcement that this was happening. We just happened to be walking back from the spa that evening, across the top deck, when we heard the familiar strains. Sadly, the coolest part occurred after I stopped shooting. While the ship pulled away from the pier, every musician but one marched toward town, leaving a lone piper who kept playing until he was almost out of sight.

Highlights from Dublin

video
One of my favorite experiences in Ireland was the Musical Pub Crawl which was every bit as educational as it was fun. Two-and-a-half hours, three pubs and two talented musicians giving thirsty tourists a taste of traditional Irish session music. This, I believe, is a jig. Or, maybe a reel.

Back to Kansas and a normal diet!

Yes, you can even eat the labels. (That's branding, my friends. Or, a huge ego.)
The rolls you see above, from Jacques Pepin's lovely French restaurant on our cruise ship, are made from rice flour. This is the only "legal" bread I consumed on my 16-day vacation. I tried to stay off wheat, really I did, but the pastries and sandwiches were just too powerful to resist. Now that I'm back - after a grueling 24-hour day of travel and a 1:30 home arrival this morning - I am, again, officially wheat-free. And, full English breakfast -free. And, Scotch whiskey-free. And, definitely, dessert-free....
Actually, this may have been an appetizer, I can't remember.
 Wish me luck. (More vacation photos later....)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The sea, she was angry, my friends.




The last thing we wanted to do after the wildest night yet on the high seas - seriously disconcerting, at times; very little sleep - was visit the Titanic Experience, even though Cobh, Ireland, was the last port before the ship set out on her ill-fated journey to America 100 years ago. They picked up 120 passengers here. 44 survived. It's not that we don't want to honor those who perished. It's just that we'd rather do it our own way, especially until our own seafaring journey is over in two days. Cheers from Kelly's, seaside in Cobh. Wish you were here. But not last night.


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

James Joyce




In St. Stephens Square, Dublin.
Just so you know it's not all about the drink (although last might's musical pub crawl in Temple Bar may have been the highlight of the whole trip.)

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Stuck in Dublin

Storm warnings and rough seas ahead. Waterford port of call cancelled. Staying one more night in Dublin. What this means is more of this...



I didn't want to buy any crystal anyway.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pub crawling

I'm going to need a 12-step program after this.



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Guess where I am now




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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Belfast

The Botanical Gardens at The Queen's University


The famous Crown Bar..



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Monday, June 11, 2012

Orkney Islands - Kirkwall, Scotland

We hired Kye, a taxi driver with Paul Newman blue eyes and a two pack a day cigarette habit, to take us 'round some of the sights in this northernmost Scottish area. Seen below: the standing stones of Stenness. Yes, we are wearing fleece jackets.


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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Scottish Highlands

Two revelations: My favorite gardens are the least grand. My new favorite single malt whisky is Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or, 12 year.





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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The white cliffs of Dover

As seen from the balcony of Stateroom 9130. Ship ahoy.



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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

World Street Food Festival

This is my last day with free wifi (the cruise ship charges a queen's ransom), so my posts will be fewer and farther between. Here's a little photo album before we head for the cruise ship: Scenes from the fab street food fest at Southbank Centre yesterday. I only wish these images were 'scratch and sniff'. This was a real feast for the senses, every one of them.