Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On our fourth day at the Vatican, Toby told me that I was in for surprise. Do you mean the surprise where the line goes all the way back down around the circle and across the other side? Or the surprise where it starts to rain as soon as we've taken our place in the line? No silly, it's the surprise that I can act like a German tourist and queue-hop with the best of them to make full use of my time. The lines were so long and it was our last full day in Rome, we decided to throw caution to the wind and risk being struck by thunderbolts to get to the top of the Cupola. If you go back to the first Rome photo of St. Peter's in the gloaming and look for the very top of the dome, Toby and I stood there.

While nothing funny had happened on the way to the Forum earlier in the day, funny things did happen on the way up the Cupola. Like walking through the Papal tombs not once but twice because we couldn't find sufficient decoy tourists to distract the guards so we could join the Cupola line at its smallest point. I am, however, very glad to have seen the tombs, with the exception of Paul VI, who creeps me out even in death. Finally, on our third go around some lovely tourist asked the Queue Guard some very involved question, which distracted him long enough that we could hop into the last section of the line to the Cupola. Since the rest of the line was made up of French teenagers, pre-riot, there were no protests, objections, or flaming projectiles.

The thrill of acting like German tourists wore off after step 467. The vague sense that the walls were closing in came around step 1349, and sheer terror set in about 4 steps from the top when we had to grab on to a greasy rope in order to make it through the last twisty tunnel before . Yep, that's quite the vista point. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 07, 2005

For a couple of heathens Toby and I spent an awful lot of time in and around the Vatican. It was our first stop and our last stop...that sounds way too biblical. We went on the first day, but it was late, we went on the second day but the Pope was on the jumbotron and the whole place was shut down, but finally, on the third day, we Vaticaned-out. This photo is of a ceiling in the Vatican Museum on the way to the Sistene Chapel. The fact that every ceiling along the way (the way being about 1.5 kms) was gilded and painted was incredible...the fact that they also mosaiced the floors and did similarly ornate things to the window frames is more than a little impressive. I have no pictures of the Sistene Chapel since I love rules and obeyed both the no talking and no snapshot rule. I'm sort of glad I didn't attempt to take pictures since I doubt that all the French teenagers taking pictures on their mobile phones will be able to capture the majesty of a finger-pointing deity. Posted by Picasa
In the spirit of romance, Toby had attempted to surprise me with a trip to Rome. But modern customer service being what it is, the tickets turned up at home, and not at the office. Turns out that romance is not so much in the delivery of the tickets, but in the indulgences one is granted. And boy, was I romanced. Never before has a young man tolerated so many references to an Audrey Hepburn film in such a short week. But thanks to my devotion to Roman Holiday, and in particular the scene where she meets the hairdresser at St. Angelo to go dancing I took this pretty picture. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 09, 2005


Discovering on Labor Day that labor is no fun is kind of ironicalistic. That one little patch took about an hour to remove. We're calling in professional help.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


This weekend there was proof-positive that good things come from the study of politics. The American Political Science Association had its annual conference in DC, which brought old friends to town. My friend, Catherine, managed to squeak in a few days' holiday post-conference and experience the magic of the owl wallpaper first-hand. We had fun having breakfast until noon and then exploring bits of Virginia. Tuesday's outing was to Monticello, pictured here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


And here's George, safely tucked up in bed. He's also enjoying the life of a country gentleman. While Emily hunts with Toady, George contemplates the meaning of hunting in the modern context, one where steak is provided for dinner on a Villeroy and Boch plate.

I couldn't possibly not put up photos of George and Emily. So here's Emily revisiting her street-kitty roots. She has adjusted very well to being a Southern Belle. The toad is even her best hunting companion now, of course they are separated by glass.

Same room, 8 weeks later. I forgot to add that we still need to buy curtains and paint the entry hall and replace the giant orb that hangs in the entry way and put the face plates back on the electrical outlets.

Same deal, read in choronlogical order for this to make sense! This is the living room a couple of days of after we moved in. Emily is sitting on top of the 10ft wall from whence she eventually fell.

This is the fireplace living room afterwards. As much as we like to think that this room is done, we know we're kidding ourselves. We need to add crown molding and paint the ceiling, and add a non-gold patina to the surround and put up pictures and buy a coffee table, and...the list goes on. But I'm especially proud of Toby's chair railing efforts here, he cut the railing to fit perfectly around the fireplace.

So now for the masterpiece. This is the living room fireplace before. Hopefully you're reading in chronological order for this to make sense.

MOTHRA. A break from the hideous decor to show you our giant moth. It's one of 6 giant moth species in Virginia. Emily ran away in terror.

For those innocents out there, this is a fake log from the fireplace. It has a resin log front and ultra-crackle power technology, aka a red light bulb and a tin foil noisemaker in the back.

It was a tough choice about what to show you next. This very special living room feature has departed to the same heaven where harvest gold appliances go.

This gorgeous design motif - Hallo Kitty meets Hallo Kitsch is in the current master bathroom. In the 1960s people were obviously a lot smaller; the sink comes up to my mid-thigh, so you can all imagine how much Toby loves this room.

Isn't your life richer now? Thankfully, the seams are already beginning to pull, so it should be a doddle to get this room brought into the modern age.

This is fondly called the blue bathroom. Hideous design aberration is too much of a mouthful. I think I owe everyone a closer look at this delightful wallpaper.

Time to move inside the house. Don't you just love the kitchen wallpaper. It's so great because if we ever forget where we live on, we can just go to the kitchen...well, until it's demolished.

This is a view of the back of the house. The playsets conveyed. How fortunate for us. One night we took George and Emily out to see if they would use them. George did not appreciate going down the slide. Emily got dressed up in kitten-sparkles by pouncing on a firefly.

This is a view of the front garden from the house.

This photo was taken about 10 minutes after we arrived.

The front of the house in all its weedy glory. Aussie Weeders when are you coming?

Day 4, 5pm Home Sweet Home. A leisurely day by all standards, just 250 miles. Then the realization that you did just buy a house and move across the country. This is our street.

Day 3: Des Moines, IA to Pittsburgh, PA. Miles and miles of flat America. Corn fields. More corn fields...wait the remnants of a Formula 1 race in Indianapolis and GIANT grasshoppers. Toby would show you F1, I choose large bugs.

Day 2: Salt Lake City UT to Des Moines, IA. The highlight of the day came early, about 45 minutes into the drive. We had to stop for petrol after a wicked climb out of Salt Lake and decided that Park City was a fine choice. The Olympic ski jumps are in the background. The rest of the day was downhill, no pun intended. We pulled into Des Moines at about 3:30am after near misses with deer. The best part about those highway close encounters was the adrenaline they provided to get us through the rest of the drive.

Day 1: Sunnyvale, CA to Salt Lake City, UT.The wagon at Donner Pass. Admire the freshly fallen snow in late June.

Sunday, August 21, 2005