Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Southern Europe Memories

This week, I updated my Photo Gallery on Shutterfly at . It brought back great memories. We sailed from Galveston, TX to Rome, Italy. The trip afforded me the opportunity to see the Azores. I found the Roman Aqueducts interesting. Some of them were two stories high and most were ivy covered. The "green-ness" of the Island was beautiful and the rolling hills seemed to create a sense of peace.

Then, on to Lisbon, Portugal, as we travelled by bus to Fatima, where Our Blessed Lady appeared to three children on May 13, 1917. Visiting this Shrine was a truly moving experience for me.

Each mile and each port brought more exhilaration. Never, in my lifetime, would I expect to see the actual Rock of Gibraltar. Then, on to Barcelona, Spain. We took a bus tour of the city that would, in my estimation, warrant a return for a walking tour. Following this, we toured the "Gold Coast" near Cannes, France. I could have skipped that.

I found Pisa very interesting. Outside the gates of the "Doumo" (the Cathedral with the Leaning Tower), were many vendors. We were told that they were from North Africa. We had to wend our way through them to enter the Piazza dei Miracoli (the Cathedral square). As Mass was being said when we entered the Cathedral, we were limited to standing in the back to ensure reverence while the tour guide whispered some information.

What struck me was that the Bapistry, a separate building completed in the 14th Century, had a slight lean to it. I really enjoyed visiting Pisa.

We went on to Rome and stayed about three miles outside the City. This part of the tour had been arranged by the Cruise Line. If we had planned it, we would have stayed in the City. Our first taxi trip brought us to a more affluent shopping area. We were really looking for an opportunity to experience having coffee at an outdoor cafe. Before long, we did find one on a side street. There we met a couple from Pittsburgh, PA who had completed a walking tour (something I would love to do). They related that it was a hard walk, but they were pleased that they did it.

To round out our experience, a street singer came along and serenaded us. More about Rome later.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TSA Pat Downs of Children

Today, I saw a news item about a 6 year old girl being "pat down" by a TSA female agent. About a month ago, there was a similar article about a family traveling from Florida who were all "patted down" (children included) after they had already deboarded from a train. Apparently, there is a rule stipulating that children under 13 years of age be excluded from "pat downs." I guess the agents in the above two news accounts (and You Tube videos) didn't get the message from their supervisors. A few years ago, when I broke an ankle requiring the use of a wheelchair, I did receive a pat down, though not as invasive as performed today. I felt absolutely ridiculous as the agent felt my body while about 10 or 12 people watched. Frankly, what bothered me more, was being watched by those 10 or 12 people as the agent literally felt me all over. Today, what bothers me most, is knowing that my granddaughters, 8 and 14 years old, may be subjected to the more invasive "pat down" as they travel in the coming months.

What I have difficulty understanding is that, in a nation responsible for so many inventions to make life easier, we have not yet come up with a better way. When four people stand within four or five feet of each other in Grand Central Station, each person can talk on a different cell phone and have no electrical interference on their calls. Amazing!

I suspect that there is a much better way, invented by one of us, still sitting on some bureaucratic clerk's desk in Washington while our young children are embarrassed and, possibly, emotionally harmed by the TSA's invasive "pat down" techniques. Why aren't Americans demanding a solution to this? Years ago, one of my daughters was suffering from an illness with all the symptoms of Lymes Disease. We were completely adrift in the medical system until a New York State Senator's daughter came down with Lymes Disease. All of a sudden, money was allocated for speedier testing, which earlier had been performed just once a week because of a lack of funds. Why do the problems of the masses have to wait for our elected officials to be personally affected before we get a resolution?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hobby Evolves

For two years, my friends have been telling me that I should be selling my photos. This was a big leap for me. Well, I finally did it. I'm very excited to share that I created an online photo gallery through Shutterfly, who has provided me with great photos and great service since 2008.

I've included scenery from New York and Southern California as well as some wildlife photos. You can see them at .

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm Back in San Diego

This past winter has been quite eventful for me. I was a "Grandma/Nanny" for 10 weeks in New York City as my daughter settled on daycare for her baby. I watched my youngest granddaughter (3 months old) for four days a week, and then on Thursday nights (sometimes Friday morning) I became a commuter to Dutchess County on Metro North, returning to Queens on Sunday. I no sooner arrived in New York, when I found myself with a cold. Coupled with the nineteen (or so) winter storms, I think I bit off more than I could chew.

The baby, on the other hand, was an absolute joy. It was a privilege to watch her grow and emerge as a beautiful, alert little person. The weekends afforded me time with my other New York grandchildren also. Now that I'm back in San Diego, I do miss the New York family. They put up with me saying, "I'm not going outside." They raised their heat so I would be warm. They made sure that their sidewalks and driveways were properly salted so their grandma would not slip. Since all the children ski, it was most likely a stretch to understand their "hot-house" grandma.

As the weather improved toward Spring, I was able to see friends on the weekends. The ice and snow only served to remind me why I live in San Diego. It is my quest to be able to visit both coasts at will, just not New York in dead of the winter.