Rule on

A wonderful new photo by David Bailey, released to mark her birthday.

Happy 88th birthday to Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, formally known as Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, but more generally known as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

I wonder what kinds of gifts her husband, children, and grandchildren give her? What does one give a woman who has everything, including a kingdom?

And on a related note, only 1 year, 4 months, 2 weeks and 4 days (509 days) to go.

If you were invited to a birthday party for the Queen, what would you give her?


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Hippity hoppity

The Martha encourages us to marbleize our eggs. I encourage us to not.

I was rather surprised last week to realize that Easter is this weekend. Somehow, even though it’s pretty late in the month, the holiday managed to sneak up on me. Luckily, I took care of the shopping before we left for spring break, so I haven’t been scurrying around all week trying to find everything.

It also helps that there’s no pressure on me. Let’s face it, holidays with teenagers are far different from holidays with children a decade younger.

Little ones expect a certain level of magic. They believe so hard in the Easter Bunny and all the attendant traditions. They get more free rein with their candy consumption, which on its own is pretty darn special. All in all, it’s one of the biggest days of a child’s year.

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What’s the deal?

Have you ever seen one of these signs? I’ve noticed them for a few years, but only stopped to ponder them a few days ago.

The signs are always at intersections, where stopped drivers might notice them. They seem to always be specifically about queen-sized pillow top mattresses. They appear to always be written in black Sharpie on a white sign.

I’m sure this is some sort of scam. I’ve always assumed the mattresses were stolen, but it occurred to me that it could be something else entirely.

What do you think? Even better, what do you know?

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Expectations vs. reality

A narrow street in Venice.

I was talking about travel with a friend this weekend and we got onto the topic of places that were not what we were expecting. This could mean that a place utterly exceeded our expectations or, more often, failed to meet those expectations.

For me, Paris, while lovely, was not what I thought it would be. I had no idea it would be so loud. Like, New York loud.

Also, I find Paris to be architecturally dull. It’s beautiful, but Haussman’s massive renovation resulted in a sameness that causes most intersections to blend in with the others and makes it more challenging to navigate. (Even more so when you factor in all the six- and eight-point intersections and the way the streets change names every few blocks.)

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Spring Break 2014: Climb every mountain

Oh hey there. Sorry about the sudden absence from blogging. I’ll explain it at the end of this post. In the meantime, I’ll pick up where I left off.

On Monday, we spent the day at Hawaii Volcanoes N.P. Before I continue the story, I need to explain Big Island geography. The island was formed from five different volcanoes that ended up overlapping and joining to create the land mass. There’s really not a lot of flat land, as most of the island is just a whole lot of vertical.

My expectation before we went to the Big Island was that it would be easy to see each volcano — I assumed that they are like the mountains here in Virginia or the Alps, in that they are visible from afar and just part of the backdrop of everyday life.

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