Letters

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

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Dear Callie - or maybe Tiffany - I never can remember which,

I'm sorry to do this to you, because now it's going to be your job to fix it whenever I can afford to come in and see you, but I cut my own hair again today. It just had to be done. So now I no longer look like Shaggy. Instead I look like Dorothy Hamill. And I don't know what's worse: having a Dorothy Hamill haircut, or referencing Dorothy Hamill in the year 2011 and expecting people to know who you are talking about.

Don't answer that,

Rachel the Amateur Hairdresser

* * * * *

LA Fitness: To Whom It May Concern,

I cannot in good conscience call you "dear" anything. You're lucky I was raised properly or I would call you something much more colorful. Your business model sucks, and if you thought I was just going to bat my eyelashes and admire your biceps while you signed me up for a 2-year membership and just sort of hoped I never figured it out, you are even dumber than you look. If you weren't 2 miles from my house, with a convenient yoga class, and if the pleasant burning in my quads wasn't reminding me not to eat 2 more slices of pizza right now (for which I truly am grateful), you would never see me again. As it is, please stop checking to see if I am wearing a wedding ring, give me my 2 week free trial membership, and try not to insult me any further.

You're on thin ice,

Mrs. Dixon

* * * * *

To my good friends who are still in Kimball East Stake,

I moved my housewarming/birthday party a couple of weeks later in February and it turns out that Stake Conference is that weekend. Some of you are probably going to be conflicted about what to do. Let me make this real easy for you: I may not be a seasoned event planner, and my party is unlikely to feature an open bar, celebrity attendees, or wardrobe malfunctions, but I think I can say with some confidence that it will definitely be more fun than Stake Conference.

Righteously yours,

Rachel

* * * * *

Dear Bathrooms,

Seriously, haven't I walked you through it enough times? Clean yourselves please, put the supplies back under the sink when you're done, and we'll all just forget how utterly disgusting you look right now.

The Management

* * * * *

Facebook Pirate English Mode - avast, me hearty!

Just what I needed: a new, more entertaining way to waste time on your accursed website. My whole family thanks you, I'm sure.

Arrrrrrrrrrr,

Cap'n Flamehair

Frocking Friday, and more evidence that I am losing my mind

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 8:02 PM

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Boots: Born
Tights: Nordstrom
Dress: Boden
Sweater coat: Anthro
Scarf: handmade by KimK, who did not win my giveaway but can make cooler stuff than I could give her anyway


I was putting together my Frocking Friday ensemble this morning (by which I mean, 2 pm) and I thought, "this one is kind of boring. I've had this dress and this coat for a couple of years, everyone must be sick to death of these boots, and man I need a frickin' haircut."


Then I saw the photo, and it occurs to me that, let's see, purple and orange, ruffles, large scale polka dots, and a rainbow scarf. Yep, we're probably all good, actually. If that qualifies as boring then I think maybe I need to step it down a notch.

I do still need a haircut though, I look like Lassie.

(I started off the day wearing something much fancier, but it had a hole in it that I didn't see at first, and I may be a little disorganized but I do try not to go around with my unmentionables hanging out of holes in my dress. You've got to start somewhere.)

That dress was vintage, by the way, and I love it - but I never, ever feel right wearing vintage clothing. Is that just me? I love old things - everything really, buildings and books and furniture and art and people - but old clothes *always* feel like a costume. I feel conspicuous, uncomfortable, and like a big old phony.

And this is coming from someone who attends the Renaissance Festival every year, in full period regalia.

(Wait, did I just say that out loud?)

Maybe I *do* need to step it down a notch.

and the winner is...

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on at 5:51 PM

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Renee! David just drew your hand-written name out of an empty Huggies wipes box, while driving, which makes me crazy and you a winner. Congratulations (and this officially gives me an excuse to drive to your house and say hi in person!)

Thank you to everyone who entered. I appreciate your readership and your kind words. I wish I could have chosen more of you! I value each and every one of you, and if you stick around I might just hit the big time and be able to give away trips and camera lenses and $100 gift cards and whatnot.

At the very least, you'll surely get a few laughs and a chance to feel better about yourself, right?
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An enigma wrapped in a mystery, or, Eve's 10 comandments of clothing

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 9:20 PM

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1. Thou shalt only wear dresses, excepting when thou dost not wear dresses.

2. Shorts are right out, as they allow thy legs to become "cold".

3. Dresses are fine. Skirts are also fine. Thy legs shall not become cold in these items, as a sign that I am the Lord.

4. Socks and tights are an abomination akin unto the very burning pit of hell.

5. Sweaters, coats, and all other manner of outerwear are highly undesirable unless they are literally required to prevent one from freezing to death, and then shall not have tight sleeves or itchy parts and shall be removed as soon as danger of freezing has passed.

6. Shoes are to be avoided if possible. If not possible, they may be changed 5-7 times per day as a compromise.

7. Pants are acceptable if there are no dresses, or if the occasion is most suited to a dress, such as church, or meeting the Queen. Upon such occasions the pants shall not have adjustable waistbands with elastic bits that hang down and scratch about, nor itchy tags, nor shall they be tight upon thy ankles, not shall they rise high upon thy belly and encumber thee, nor shall they ride up into the area of thy "front bum" and cause great vexation.

8. Accessories may be worn, but they shall be discarded in a resting place from whence they did not originate, and shall not be worn for a duration exceeding 15 minutes - nay, not the scarf, nor the hat, nor the beaded necklace, nor the large sunglasses, nor the ear-jewels, nor the magic wand, nor anything not strictly necessary for avoidance of an indecent exposure charge shall be worn longer than this.

9. Any ensemble, outfit, or otherwise combination suggested by thy parental units, yea, and especially thy mother, shall be shunned. Loudly.

10. And yea, thy ballet class attire shall be held in the highest esteem, above all others, and shall be worn whenever possible, yea, even to the grocery store if thy mother wilst allow it.

P.S. In that picture, I know she looks like she's playing so nicely with the animals, and putting them to bed in their little nests for the winter, but she is actually attacking a baby seal with those polar bears and they are literally, with appropriate vocalization, ravaging it to pieces and eating it in her hot little hands. Do not underestimate this girl.

P.P.S. The giveaway, remember it? Tomorrow is the last day, and I want everyone who remotely wants to participate to do so, even if you are my best friend, or my mom (wait, my mom already entered) or you don't know me, personally, from Adam. Hello, people, this is a BLOG, and not a private one, so I promise I will not be offended if you tell me you read my blog and want to enter my giveaway when I don't already know you. I *want* people who aren't in my immediate local circle to read my blog! That is all. I love you guys!

Well, there's one future father who will know what they're for

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:36 PM

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Me: Okay kiddos, I'm going to head out to my class. Daddy is going to feed you dinner tonight and put you to bed.

Iris: Yoga kwass?

Me: No, tonight I'm teaching mommies how to give their babies milky.

Devlin, very slowly and deliberately, eyes rolled: It's called BREASTFEEDING.

(Pssssst. Did you enter yet? I keep getting new ideas all the time for nice things to put in the winner's box...)

Closing this chapter

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 7:09 PM

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Maybe, just maybe, I might have put off blogging the last installment of my London trip because then it will really, truly be over. The trip is in the past, and when I finish this post (if indeed I ever do finish it) then even the recap will be over. A few more weeks will go by, and I will almost forget that I had the chance to do this.

(You won't let me forget, will you? Remind me, now and again, that I went to London, even as mom with three young children. I did it once, and I could do it again - and so can you!)

On New Year's Day, the day before we came home, my sister and her husband were "in charge", and they chose yet another walking tour - this time focusing on Beatles sites in London. We met at the Marylebone tube station (say it MAR-lee-bone, in case you were wondering - I sure did).



Some of the beginning scenes of the movie Hard Day's Night were filmed here. Apparently one of the Beatles runs away from some fans down this very side street, right next to the station:



Two of the Fab Four were married at this courthouse, but I can't remember which! Richard (our guide, not pictured - which is very much your loss. He was quite the looker...if you like a prominent snaggletooth, frizzy hair, and general asymmetry) would be so disappointed that I have forgotten so much!



This apartment was a residence of, at separate times, John, Ringo, and Jimi Hendrix. Apparently the neighbors had a problem with the noise level...imagine that! Some patient soul still lives there. I guess she just keeps the curtains drawn.



This is the doorstep of the home where Paul lived for awhile with his girlfriend's family. He was living in this building when he got a melody in his head and couldn't think where he'sd heard it. He drove his friends crazy humming it and asking everyone if they had heard it, and when no one ever recognized it he came to the conclusion that he had made it up.

It turned out to be a little tune called "Yesterday". Perhaps you've heard it?



This next building wasn't on the tour, we just walked by it on the way to Abbey Road - it was just another example of a site that would have been the coolest thing in all of Phoenix, but wasn't even a blip on the radar in London. The site of a former residence of Elizabeth Barrett Browning:



On the walk, I saw this "citizen's arrest" parking ticket and just had to take a picture. It's homemade, carefully protected in a baggie so the recipient won't miss out on the reprimand due to inclement weather. I can't quite read the very fine print anymore, but as I remember it was a rather disparaging remark about the likely ratio of the size of the car to the size of one of the owner's body parts.



Of course, no Beatles expedition would be complete without a pilgrimage to Abbey Road studios. This was so cool for me to see because a lot of my favorite (non-Beatles) albums were recorded here: most of Pink Floyd's music in the 60's and 70's and Radiohead's OK Computer, to name a few.


There is a wall in front of the studio where it is traditional to write a message for the band and/or the universe. It is painted over several times a year. I wrote a message for one special person. She knows who she is.





Well, that was fun! On to the next activity.

(Just kidding. You didn't think we'd get all the way to Abbey Road and not do the zebra crossing thing, did you?)



This pose was very carefully constructed to be as faithful as possible to the original cover: Emily is George, in blue, David is barefoot Paul, I took one for the team and portrayed Ringo, and Jacob in the white shirt stood in for John.

It was awesome.

David and I got up early that morning so we could sneak in some sights before the walk that were only relevant to me: Fleet Street. As in, Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of.

(Can I just take a moment and clarify that my adoration is for the Sondheim musical, not the more recent movie adaptation, which I consider to be a not-entirely-unfortunate blip on the radar. I love Johnny Depp, but my loyalty to Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury is eternal and undying!)

Historical basis for Sweeney Todd is murky at best, but IF he existed, it is believed that his barber shop was located at 186 Fleet Street. Nowadays all that is there is a shipping and mailing business, but it still made my heart skip a beat!



Next to the barber shop was St. Dunstan's Church, which still stands. It is now a Romanian Orthodox church and the bells were tolling for a service while we were taking these pictures:



Legend has it that there was a tunnel running under the church from Sweeney's barber shop to Mrs. Lovett's pie shop in Bell Yard - where there is, incidentally, still a pie shop. I *so* wanted to eat there.



Fleet Street signage, and the closest I got to Harrod's on this trip:



And an unrelated beautiful pub building across the street from the alleged demonic barber shop. It is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the area, which was heavily damaged in the great London fire of 1666. The wooden window frame was so thickly painted at the time of the fire that the paint burned away but the windows underneath were unharmed.



And now, I will round out the trip with a few random photos of things that made me smile.

One of the many views that inspired my sister and I to repeatedly sing Chim Chim Cheree ("on the rooftops of London - cor, what a sight!")



The darling iconic red phone booths. Surely no one uses them anymore, what with these newfangled gadgets they call "cellular telephones", but if they ever get rid of them I'm sure we would all raise holy hell.



Two mamas with babies on their backs at Heathrow on the way home. Can you spot them?:





And finally, the one and only time on the entire trip that I needed sunglasses.



Traveling isn't frivolous, it is GLORIOUS and life-changing and enriching, and I'm so very grateful to my parents for taking David and I on this trip, and to Granny and Gramps for taking such good care of my three sweet babies that I didn't worry about them for a single moment.

(P.S. Have you entered my giveaway yet? You really should. Just leave me a comment and I'll put your name in the proverbial hat!)

My favorite things - and one of yours

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 7:47 PM

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In honor of my friend Mahreen, I thought I too would start the week off right with a list of things that have made me happy this weekend, as well as a super-fun first for my little blog.

(Don't skip to the end, though, or you'll miss a lot of good stuff!)

- If you stalk Facebook in addition to my blog, you may remember that I mentioned I found a fabulous porch swing on Craigslist (it's a copy of this one that I have coveted for many a year). Well, we bought it, and it's better than I ever hoped for! David put it up on Saturday, and the kids might love it more than I do. Actually, that is impossible. But they do love it.



- I also mentioned a cocktail dress, I believe? David's annual company awards banquet was Saturday night, and I managed to find a cute, modest, affordable, not-black dress which, if I do say so, I rocked pretty hard. David had a purple paisley tie, and oh - that shiny thing in his hand?



- See it? Okay. It's the top award from his company, and in addition to the crystal doodad, we won a 7-day Carribean cruise. No, I am not kidding. I'm kind of in shock. I hear cruises feature a lot of formal dinners and dancing - which is lucky, because you see I have this smashing cocktail dress...

- Downton Abbey. If you're not watching it, you should be. Delicious!

- Hand-me-downs. I got a huge bag from a friend yesterday and we struck gold! Awesome, even if it did double the amount of laundry this week.

- Birthdays. Saturday afternoon found me celebrating first anniversary of the legendary arrival of one of my favorite small people, and anticipating the imminent arrival of another friend's fourth little boy. (He still has not graced us with his presence, but it can't be much longer!) My sister will be finding out the flavor of her little belly resident tomorrow, my "other sister" is patiently cooking #5, and David's wonderful cousin just announced she's expecting her first. It's all just so exciting!

- Iris is a full-time potty user! As in, I gave away the diapers, that's my final answer, DONE! Can I get an amen?

- Today, I bought a length of rope, learned how to tie a bowline knot (YouTube saves the day again!), and because of my genius invention, Devlin was able to climb up and down our huge backyard tree unassisted for the first time! Well, actually, about the first 7 times, and it's a miracle he didn't break his arm because my little rope ladder attempt was not exactly seaworthy. Still some kinks to iron out, but seeing his shining face through the branches was priceless. His #1 wish for the "new house" when we moved was a climbing tree. Mission (halfway) accomplished.

- My cell phone no longer looks like a looted storefront window. The screen is fixed, and I got a pretty new skin so now it's as colorful as everything else in my house. If I could take a picture of my phone WITH MY PHONE, which is all I have at the moment, I would show you. (Apple, I challenge you to make that a feature of the next iPhone. Gauntlet thrown.)

- Eve is officially registered for kindergarten. Can this really be happening?

- Our mailbox broke this weekend, and we were able to find a replacement that cost only one arm, and does not resemble a shih tzu, a little red schoolhouse, or a Cowboys helmet. There is not a lot of good design going on in the mailbox market, I'm sorry to say.

- I won a blog giveaway last week, and my winnings arrived his afternoon. Mahreen really outdid herself. I wish I had been able to take pictures, I'm having significant technical difficulties in that area at the moment and besides - I really couldn't top hers. I won a copy of her family's favorite children's book, but the icing on the cake was the beautiful drawing her daughters created depicting Devlin building a robot, Eve reading a book and eating raisins (wearing pigtails!), and Iris riding her scooter. I mean, really, how thoughtful can one family be? My kids were gobsmacked, and so was I.

I was so touched that I decided to pay it forward. So, I hereby announce my very first giveaway! I had so many competing ideas of what to offer, so I decided to just make a nice little box full of some of my favorite things (so, you can expect jewelry, something that smells nice, chocolate, lovely reading material, and who knows what else!) I love writing here, I love documenting my life, I love connecting with all of you, so let's celebrate!

Leave a comment here to enter, and please introduce yourself if you haven't yet! I will leave the contest open until Friday, January 28th at 5 pm Mountain Standard Time. That gives me a few days to collect lots of nice goodies to share with the lucky recipient.

Maybe, just maybe, the winner will choose to pass the love along to someone else - and I know I'm just a big old hippie at heart, but I sure do hope the circle keeps on going.

What a wonderful world!

Why I loved today

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7:24 PM

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- When we all woke up today, Eve was looking very pale and complaining of a tummy ache. So we got Devlin off to school and then all the girls put on a Backyardigans DVD and laid on the couch in our jammies for a couple of hours until she perked up.

- While we vegged, I napped while snuggling on the couch first with one daughter, then the other. It was heavenly after the pace of this week, and the pace of the day I know is coming tomorrow (work meeting, birthday party, cocktail dinner, oh my!)

- I cleaned the kitchen, top to bottom, back to front, side to side. I went through 2 Magic Erasers. (I did this because someone was coming over later tonight to give us a quote on refacing our cabinets. So my logic was: cabinets are old and ugly --->guy coming over is paid to say my cabinets are old and ugly--->I must spend 2 hours making sure they are old, ugly, and IMMACULATE.) But it was very satisfying!

- Eve spent the baby's entire naptime doing puzzles. This is fantastic because a) they are quiet b) the purpose of a puzzle is to put something together, not scatter it to kingdom come c) she can do them herself (while I, say, clean my grout with a toothbrush) and d) apparently she works better in the nude. Always entertaining.

- Orange tulips.

- Kitchen Remodeler Man came over, and the estimate he gave for refacing the cabinets was double our best guess. Eh. Who cares? We'll figure something out.

- I put up some beautiful decorative items in my kitchen, and in the process put three nails completely through one of my cabinets (remember them? they're old and ugly, as of this morning they are immaculate, and as of this afternoon they have three tiny holes and nails poking in dangerously close to my powdered sugar and garam masala). My wonderful husband just laughed and hugged me. I think he kind of likes it when I do stupid things.

- I'm not blogging the rest of London today, I'm doing this happy little post and then I'm going to hang out with my man and start planning our tenth anniversary trip this summer.

- I cheated out of Frocking Friday (actually, I was in my pajamas most of the day and by the time I finally changed out of them I sort of forgot what day it was) but I will make up for it tomorrow because I will be going to a very fancy dinner and I have a cocktail dress. It is purple. It is awesome. I will show you.

See you Monday!

London - the Penultimate Chapter

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 9:35 PM

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I just like that word. You could say "second to last", but why on earth would you do that when you've got "penultimate" at your disposal?

For David's "day", we took a quick train ride to Windsor Castle, which is the oldest continuously inhabited royal residence in the world. The oldest sections are nearly 1,000 years old.




I love old things.



We got the in the nick of time for the Changing of the Guard, which happens each day at 11 am. I don't know the significance exactly. Lots of marching and trombones, though:



I got my picture take with the most ferocious of the guards (actually, just the last one left after their big choreographed maneuver). I looked all over London for just the right furry hat, and then I show up here and this guy totally outdoes me:



My favorite part was St. George's Chapel, which was built in the 15th century and had just the most spectacular architecture. You're not supposed to take pictures inside most of these places, but I managed to get a couple of shots of the *amazing* ceiling:





This chapel is the ceremonial home of the Order of the Garter, which is the oldest British Order of Chivalry. Membership in this order is limited to 25 persons, including the Prince of Wales. It's a pretty swanky setup. The medallions on the ceiling are the crests of various noblemen who have played important roles in the history of the building. The chapel also is the final resting place of the bodies of Henry VIII, one of his wives, and Queen Elizabeth II's mother, father, and sister.

Apparently this is the Norman Gate. I don't remember why I took a picture, but it's pretty sweet anyway:



We were also able to tour the State Apartments, which is where the actual royal residents live and "work" when they are at Windsor. They were spectacular, although again we were not allowed to take pictures. There was a terrible fire at the Castle in the apartments almost 20 years ago, and a lot of the tour focused on how things were put right again after that event. In one room, there is a very elaborate inlaid wood floor that was damaged in the fire, and they were able to preserve the original material by removing each individual plank, flipping it over, and putting it right back down!



Windsor was also the site of my favorite souvenir acquisition: a gorgeous merino scarf which I was able to buy thanks to the kind heart of one of the guards, who let me sneak back in to the gift shop after the grounds were closed. He winked, made me promise "not to deviate", and every time I wear my scarf I think of him!

Scary picture, pretty scarf:



We developed quite a taste for English candy on this trip - our favorites were lemon bonbons (well, all bonbons really). We went in to get some candy "for the kids" and I have to confess we spent many hours and many of our hard earned pounds sterling in establishments very similar to this one!



That evening was New Year's Eve, and we decided we'd be adventurous for once and have the full experience! We met up with Chris and Daniel on the bank of the Thames to watch the annual fireworks display. It wasn't nearly as crowded or chaotic as I had feared, and I was so glad we went!

The crowd waiting for the show to start (with the huge ferris wheel, the London Eye, lit with blue lights in the background):



My sister and my mom (doesn't she look happy?) My dad is behind her, wearing his universally beloved "stegosaurus hat":



Me and David (and my scarf):



Chris and Daniel:



The fireworks!



Which this enterprising fellow decided to watch from a tree. Whatever, I'm just glad he was sober enough to keep his footing:



We came back to our flat and called our kids back home, for whom it was not yet 2011. Then we slept for approximately 4 hours and got up to do it all again the next day! Come back tomorrow for our Beatles walking tour and Sweeney Todd geekery. Yessssssssss.

Fecal matters

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:55 PM

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Dear 85213 (just to be safe),

I spent all afternoon working in my front garden. It was a lovely warm afternoon, the sun was shining, and all should have been well. But I kept smelling fertilizer. Rank, stinky, POOPY fertilizer.

I didn't use fertilizer.

It took me 2 hours, but I figured it out where that smell was coming from. This may seem like a double standard, since I've literally been cheering on my own daughter's bowel movements from close range all week long, but a big heap of steaming dog turd on the grass I have been working so hard to cultivate was not the cherry on top of my afternoon. It wasn't like it was on the perimeter of the property somewhere, either - it was less than 6 feet from my front door.

I used to want a dog. I love dogs. Before I had kids, I needed something to take care of. Now I have three small children, and to say that my caretaker urge is satisfied would be an understatement of Biblical proportions. So your dog pooping on my doorstep is NOT a welcome development. The sanctity of my home has been violated, and my dander is up.

I love my house, I love my street, my neighbors are great, and so far I've had no complaints.

But so help me dog - if I ever smell a turd out there again, there's gonna be a showdown.

Grrrrrrrrr,

Rachel

London Part 2 - the real Greenwich village

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, January 17, 2011 at 10:21 PM

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I began this day the way I began, well, pretty much every day. The small market just a couple of doors down from our flat had a very limited grocery selection, but they were well stocked where it counts! Good thing we walked about a thousand miles every day:



After the Jack the Ripper tour, we all came home and decided that guided walking tours were completely awesome and we needed to do lots more of them. My mom wanted to see some Jane Austen sights, but sadly there was very little of significance in London and since we were only there for 7 days we didn't get very far out of the city.

She decided her next choice would be to go to Greenwich, only a few minutes downriver from London, and see the Prime Meridian. I had been there when I studied in the UK for a summer 10 years ago (I use the word "study" very loosely, but we'll come back to that later. Or not. Actually, let's not.) I remembered it being very charming, so we met again at the Tower Hill tube stop to find our guide and cross the Thames.

You know that song, "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"? Well, here they are! Honestly, the song is a lot nicer than the actual chestnuts. They don't taste that great and they make a whole lot of stinky smoke. Behind the Chestnut Man is a remaining section of the Roman wall, built around the city in the 2nd century. Yes, that's almost TWO THOUSAND years ago:



Each Tube line has a color associated with it - Circle is yellow, District is green, Central is red, etc - and the train handhold bars are color coded accordingly. Except when they're not. We literally had a train, while we were riding it, begin as a Circle train and end as Hammersmith & City, without so much as a by your leave. We're lucky we didn't end up in Amsterdam.



When we did get there, we found Hilary to be, like Simon, very charming, and an absolute fountain of knowledge. This woman had so many historical facts and dates stored in her head I'm amazed she could remember her own name. (Yes, that is the Tower of London behind her. Just no big deal, you know, just in the background. This city is insane. You just walk by this stuff all the time and it doesn't even get a mention. They have castles like we have Walgreen's.)





This building is the old London Port Authority, now being renovated into a 6 star hotel. (Sounds like hotel stars are going the way of razor blades - 3! No, 4! Wait, but look, we have 5!!!)



This boat, in addition to transporting us all to Greenwich, also provided us with the hottest hot chocolate I've ever drunk. Three of us couldn't taste anything for days:



The first thing you see when you arrive in Greenwich is the site of the Cutty Sark, a rad old tea clipper that everyone in England is absolutely crazy about, and that I inexplicably did not photograph. She's being restored for the 2012 Olympics, which London is hosting. (The 2012 Olympics are like a much bigger version of my house party - everything that they've been putting off for years/decades/centuries suddenly needs to be done in time for everyone in the whole world to come scrutinize their fair city. I'm getting a doormat, they're getting their boat restored to the tune of 73 million dollars. It'll all work out.)

One of the main architectural attractions in Greenwich is the Queen's House, which was built, as you might have guessed, for Queen Anne in the early 17th century. It looks directly out onto the Thames, and when Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a Naval hospital in front of it, the Queen insisted he construct two buildings instead, one of either side of her river view, so it could remain unobstructed!





One of those Wren buildings is now a University of Greenwich campus, and the other is the Trinity College of Music. They stand very near the site of Greenwich Palace, which was the favorite residence of Henry VIII, birthplace of the queens Elizabeth I and Mary I, and the site of the arrest of Anne Boelyn, whose ghost can now presumably be found knocking on the blue doors of the Tower of London where she was beheaded.



Sir Christopher also, very presciently I think, included these niches in his design so that my fabulous rule-breaking brother-in-law Jacob could climb inside one and be a superhero for a few moments:



(He's also the one who took all the pictures in my posts that are framed in white. When in doubt: if it's a good picture, it's his).

We ate lunch at the Trafalgar Tavern. Two brave souls of our party, including myself, ordered the "whitebait dinner", which was recommended by Hilary (and sadly, the only area in which her guidance fell short of the mark). I'll just say that I cannot in good conscience recommend eating fish whole, including the bones and head, no matter what they are fried in or how many delicious pieces of brown bread and butter they might be served with.



The view was lovely though!



(We decided, for a number of reasons, not to dine at this illustrious establishment - although I hear the crabs are first rate.)



The highlight of the visit was the Royal Observatory and the attendant National Maritime Museum, at which we could have spent days and days all on their own. The ball at the top of the Observatory tower drops each day at precisely 1 pm (sorry Brits, 1300) and that used to be where everyone got their time. Greenwich Mean Time folks, thar she blows.





And yes, that hill is every bit as high and steep as it looks. I may have been the only one, but I found the walk very exhilarating! I loved the brisk air and all the exercise on this trip.

At the observatory at the top of the hill, lies the (entirely arbitrary) Prime Meridian of the World, at which, if you want, you can stand in line for a very long to time for the opportunity to have your picture taken with one foot in either hemisphere (and if you're my mom, you definitely want to do this).



Greenwich was one of our coldest days, for which I donned my Little Russian Immigrant Wife look. David mocks it mercilessly. I do not care. I like to be able to feel my ears.



We cut our Greenwich visit shorter than we would have liked because we had the singular delight of a visit with one of our former exchange students, Christiane, who is Brazilian but currently lives in London with her darling husband Daniel. She hooked us up with what she assures us is the best Indian food in the city at Punjab Restaurant. Here she is with my parents at dinner:



I have now officially run down my ENTIRE BATTERY putting this post together. Madness, I tell you, utter madness. If I hadn't been so productive the rest of the day I would feel bad about it.

As it is, if you're very nice I will allow you to join me tomorrow for Windsor Castle and New Year's Eve, London style!