Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Korcula

We left Dubrovnik at 4 AM and sailed for 3 hours and landed in Korcula on the Dalmation Coast. What a great little walled village! Where Dubrovnik was big and crowded, Korcula (pronounced Korchula) is small and sleepy. My type of place. The Adriatic is a clear turquoise blue and the water is warm (about 75-80 degrees).

This morning I talked to a fisherman. He said he fished everyday and everyday he gives part of his catch to the local cats! There are a lot of cats here...makes you wonder how many fishermen leave little donations for the kitty population?

It is a walled village that was part of the Venetian Empire from the 13th century. Marco Polo was born here. Other than that, the village is not known for much other than beauty!

We have been to 3 ancient walled cities: Kotor, Dubrovnik and Korcula. The two "K" cities are definitely worth your time...Dubrovnik is too big and too crowded--and the other cities are just as historically interesting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Dubrovnik

Today we are in the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. It's a beautiful place with far too many tourists. Last night we walked the old city and had a great time as we were the only boat in town...this morning there are 2 big ships and 1 medium sized ship in it is very crowded. There's a walk along the city walls to take, but I don't think we will do that... Only 700+ steps on this one.

Yesterday we drove thru most of Montenegro and loved it. Very pretty...mountainous, green, type of place. We drove up a road that had 25 switchbacks! I believe it is the road in the Mazda commercial that has an M shaped curve...when we get back home I will need to pay attention to see if it really was filmed in Montenegro.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Montenegro

We sailed into Kotor, Montenegro this morning. What a lovely passage. Kotor is located at the far end of a 20 mile inlet...with tall mountains ringing the inlet, it is most impressive. As we sailed the inlet, we saw ancient churches, villas, forts, and homes, sprinkled along the waterfront and crawling up the mountains. Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so the buildings date from the 1200s or so. Lots of great old world masonry. I've had a grand time photographing doors and shutters and arches and towers and the like.

Once we docked we walked around the walls of the city to the main gate dating from 1550 into a quaint village that stepped out of the pages of Harry Potter. We both said we were on Diagonal Alley! There are little shops, churches, cathedrals, museums, and cafes along the cobblestone walkways. Evey so often there is a square where you can sit back and watch people or get a quick gelato! The tone is old, but the services are new...wifi is every where!

There's an optional walk this afternoon, that we do not plan to's a stroll along the town goes to the top of the mountain and includes 1350 steps! The view would be fantastic, but the effort would be too...and did I tell you, it's HOT! When I get picture ability, I will show you what the wall looks like from the street.

Yesterday we visited another UNESCO World Heritage site..that of Butrint in Albania. Very interesting set of ruins dating back to The Greeks over 3000 years ago. The site is an active archeological dig...and the kids at the dig were from Indiana University. The strangest thing about Albania were the modern bunkers. Seems like the last dictator was paranoid and instead of investing in roads and housing, he built 750,000 cement bunkers while the people did not enough money for food or housing! Talk about strange when you consider that no one has invaded Albania for centuries.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In Corfu

We are in Corfu, an Ionian island that belongs to Greece. What a pretty place. Sure wish I could pronounce the place names. After Corfu Town all bets are off. Another drawback is all the Greek writing -- some places have English signs but they are rare in the countryside. 
Today we toured the island enjoying views of the Ionian sea. Tomorrow we will be in Albania. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In Athens

We just arrived in Athens. It took some time to get here...SFO to Denver to Dulles to Munich to here. I guess I could figure out the total number of hours but if I do I'll be more tired. To that end, we were able to sleep on the plane, so we are not completely exhausted. Another trick is to fly business or first class.

In Denver we waited in the Red Carpet Lounge. I'm sorry to report it's still one of the worst RCLs in the world. I was hoping that United had cleaned it up, but alas, such is not the case. We did not have an opportunity to visit other RCLs as our connections were perfectly timed. We got off one plane, walked to the next plane and boarded and flew away. When we arrived in Munich we had 45 minutes between flights. Not only did we have to walk around most of the airport, we had to go through passport control and Germany's version of TSA security...and we still made it the next flight on time! The Germans do know a thing or two about being punctual!

Now that we are in Athens, it's next to impossible to read the signs...they are written in Greek, needless to say. But so is the interface for this blog...and if you go to GOOGLE maps you will see that the maps are in Greek too. We cannot understand the language AND we cannot read the language. When you travel here you get an idea what it feels like to be illiterate. At the airport and on the main streets In Athens, there are English signs, but that is not the case on the side streets or in the smaller villages. Athens is a huge city, with about 4 million folks. According to our driver (Bill from Long Island - and Greece) half the population of Greece lives in Athens!

One last note...for my friend Beeler...there ARE smoking rooms available in both the Munich and Athens airport.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Denver

We made it Denver where it is COLD! The sky is clouded over and we cannot see the Front Range from the airport! After a "Chamber of Commerce" perfect spring day in San Francisco, this is a bit of a come down. We had to take out our warm jackets! Thank goodness we had them. The weather for Athens is supposed to be in the 70s. I'm ready.

United came through with a "thank you" for canceling our flight. We are now the proud owners of 7000 more frequent flyer miles. We will definitely use them!

Next post will be from Greece...then I'll try to figure out how to post pictures using my iPad. It does not look easy to do at first glance. If you see pictures, I figured it out!

And so it begins

We are on the road again! That's always fun and frustrating at the same time. This morning I received a call from United saying "your flight has been cancelled. A new flight should be arranged. Have a nice day!" Somehow I did not think the last sentence went with the first sentence! I called United and after going through a multi-level phone tree I was connected to someone who barely spoke English, but after a few false starts we were booked on another flight. When she asked if there was anything else I wanted, I told her to send me a voucher for the Red Carpet Club. She said she would but I have not received it yet.

That's the frustration. The fun part is being on the road. For the first time I opted for a mobile boarding pass. It's pretty cool. Just open up the email where the pass is sent and click on the link to the webpage where a QR code (Quick Response) is displayed. Flash the code and everyone who has access to the QR reader sees all of your info. BTW it's the same info found on the barcode of a paper boarding pass. The key now is to NOT lose your cellphone.

In case you are wondering we are on our way to Greece and the Dalmatian Coast (Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia)...I wonder if we will see any of those spotted dogs along the way? We will board a small ship named Athena ...and along the way we will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary! Wow that's a long time!

Watch this space for pictures and the like.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


On Sunday I received a call from “the credit bureau” that told me in a robotic voice that my credit card had been invalidated and I needed to press 1 to re-validate it or press 2 to hang up. I did not even press 2, I hung up as soon as I could.

On Monday I called my credit card provider and told them what had happened. It appears that this same scam is happening a lot of places right now. I was told there is NO credit bureau. I was also told that I should never give anyone who calls ME credit card information. I already knew that! As an aside, if someone gives you a number to call back, that’s no guarantee they are on the up and up either!

If you should receive such a call, hang up immediately. Do NOT press 1. Do NOT give them your credit card number. Do NOT give them any more information than they already have. They have your phone number because the scammers are using a random dialer.

Just a warning! I hope you don’t get the opportunity to make use of it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not an Ordinary Day

I've been playing a waiting game this past week. To that end I've not wanted to talk to a lot of friends as I really did not know how to answer the question "How are you?" The best way to avoid answering a question is to not I've been relatively quiet.

You might ask, quiet about what? SO, before I go any farther the answer to the question is "I'm great! 100%! Never Better!"

It all began with a repeat mammogram that was scheduled for last Friday. A spot was revealed on that mammogram. Immediately, I was whisked to another room where an ultra-sound was done showing that the spot had a bit of definition. Before I could say anything I was scheduled for a biopsy. This is where the rub came in....they wanted to do the biopsy sometime in June and I said I was going to Greece on the 18th. After a bit of fiddling with the appointment books, I was told to come in at 7:30 the following Thursday, the 12th. Then another appointment was made with my doctor for 4 days later to find out the results of the biopsy. If you have ever lived with the threat of cancer, then you have an idea how this past week felt.

Thursday finally arrived and I was ready for the biopsy. What I did not know was "biopsy" was code for removal of the spot! After 3 hours, I was bandaged and released to go home and wait and wait and wait until Monday at 1:45 PM to find out what was discovered! The waiting continued.

Today, the other DrC had an appointment with another doctor, and as we were talking to him we mentioned the biopsy and that we would get results on Monday. Now, here's the fun part of the story! Our doctor takes his iPhone out of his pocket, calls the mammography clinic, and gets the results of the test just like that! Before he even said good-bye to them, he gives me a thumbs up! I do not have cancer! WOW!

I want to thank all of the folks I told for their prayers, wishes, kind thoughts, and more! They worked!

We are going to Greece and the Dalmatian Coast on the 18th. The trip celebrates our 40th anniversary...and the fact that I do NOT have cancer. All is good in this little cornet of the world!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

...of Poppies and Snakes

Today the Matilija Poppies are in bloom. Matilija poppies are great white crepe-papery blooms that hang on the end of weedy looking green stalks. Most of the year, we see the stalks and wonder "Why do we keep these ugly things in the garden?" Then, the stalks erupt into enormous white flowers and we know the answer.  The buds look primordial...I'm sure their DNA was included in the cosmic ooze.

Here's a bloom I called Marilyn Monroe. You remember her famous pose from "The Seven Year Itch?" Just squinch up your eyes, and you might see what I'm talking about.

Not only are the poppies blooming, but the snakes are coming out of hibernation.

As we were driving down our gravel road, this fellow was basking in the sun. I got out of the car to take this shot and discovered, it's only a common garter snake, not a rattler (no buttons).

(about 36 inches long)
Rattlers don't have long lives on the "ranch" but garter snakes can stay as long as they like.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The goal of any photographer is to catch hummingbirds. They are quick little buggers. The other day we were visiting a friend who has a flock of free-loading hummers and I tried to capture them. Here are my best efforts. 


This past weekend I went to the annual statewide convention for Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG). DKG is a international honor society for women teachers.  Over 500 people were in attendance at this state-side conference.  DKG started as a Civil Rights organization in the 1920s for women teachers when women teachers needed some Civil Rights. Fortunately, through the efforts of organizations like DKG, women teachers finally got some Civil Rights in the form of better pay, more satisfactory working conditions, and the like. DKG, like so many volunteer organizations, is now seeking a new cause. It’s not been easy, but it seems like DKG is trying to become active in state politics by influencing state legislatures to keep supporting quality education.

It is not easy for a volunteer organization to survive in these times, especially volunteer organizations where the main participants are overworked teachers. Like many volunteer organizations, we are an aging group with fewer and fewer members who still have their original hair color! Every year, a few local chapters are disbanded due to lack of participation/interest or death.

I do not know what volunteer organizations need to do to attract and keep members, but I’m sure it has something to do with the purpose of the organization. While camaraderie and friendship are noble, it’s not enough to make an organization like DKG work. What started out as a civil rights organization for women teachers need to re-form it’s purpose. Maybe, influencing legislators will be the new guiding light. A new purpose is needed, and until it has that new purpose completely synthesized into the structure of the society, it will flounder.

SO, we worked on what legislation we want to support in California. We went to sessions. I even gave a presentation. AND, we had a lot of fun.