Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two April Fools

30 April, Fri- The Palazzo Cardinal Cesi Hotel’s egg white frittata left a little bit to be desired. Oh well. Hailing a cab was a Cardinal who ranked third highest to the pope according to our guide Giovanni who met us promptly at 8:30. We took a cab to Old City Rome for a walking tour of the Coliseum, the forum and several basilicas. St. Ignatius’ was awesome. The faux paintings on the ceiling created a dome perspective; it also provided burial sites for several popes. The piece de resistance of that basilica is Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses out of white cararra marble with a striking resemblance to Charlton Heston. It is fascinating to see four levels of civilization being excavated in archaeology digs. The four hour tour ended at the magnificent Pantheon . We found a Trattoria for lunch near Trevi Fountain – and continued walking back to the hotel for another three hours. After a nice and needed nap we dined at the same restaurant we ate at last night and over-tipped on the cash payment with Euros. OUCH! We ran out of Euros – not having enough to buy a light coca cola and almost panicked when the exchange store was closed for the evening.

We shoulda learning curves: 1. Taken a tour. 2. Brought a hand held translator because there is a dearth of English speaking (even rudimentary) staff in restaurants, hotels, etc 3. Brought more cash - most restaurants are asking for Euros or cash instead of credit cards unless it is a large hotel restaurant.

29 April, Thurs- Bon Giorno! We arrived in Rome at 7:45 AM greeted by Giovanni’s sign, Forde-Beatty, to take us to the charming Hotel Cardinali Cesi Palazzo. It is the former palace /home of Cardinal Cesi that belongs to the Vatican State. The staff was pretty accommodating but translation is challenging. We should have brought a hand translator. While charming… and accommodating… the hotel did not have good air conditioning: nights were uncomfortably warm.

The hotel is located one-half block from the Vatican. Giovanni… the tour guide… arrived promptly at one PM to take us on a three hour Vatican tour that proved fascinating. The wealth and power of the Vatican State is most evident as we walked through palace after palace filled with ancient artifacts, priceless paintings, sculptures, and vast collections of priceless tapestries lining the walls inviting one to reach out and touch. Security seemed absent. An oval bathtub carved from one piece of eggplant/deep purple colored marble was about 20 feet long. There is nothing like the Sistine Chapel ceiling nor the magnificent sculpture by Bernnini unless it is the Pieta. Michelangelo brought us face to face with Mary’s emotions captured in white cararra marble holding the dead weight of the body of her young son, her breasts full - longing to nurse him to life again.

Providing printed diet restrictions is proving helpful in restaurants. We hand the maitre’ d’ the little card and he expresses surprise that we cannot eat olive oil but decides whether or not they can meet our needs. Usually they can and we are seated. Tonight we had a lovely swordfish dinner at a delightful outdoor restaurant in the artists’ market. The waiter was excellent.

28 April, Wed- Feeling the absurdity of driving to Boston from Philadelphia (close to Newark) to catch a plane to fly to Newark, we boarded with nary another problem. The flight to Rome had one little glitch: the vegetarian meal had oil precluding eating the lovely dinner. We slept fine in business first seats that recline, but it was not nearly long enough given our working hours the past few weeks.

So how can any two people be so incredibly happy?

26 April, Mon - Life is GOOD! Together again! Breakfast at the Trolley Car earned a five dollar discount - and we are engrossed in archiving for the day. Tonight we load the car -drive to Boston tomorrow to be ready for the flight to Rome from Newark. IMAGINE! Continental would not let us board in Newark... just a hop, skip and train ride to Newark; instead Continental insists our ticket is a special rate only from Boston routed through Newark to Rome. OH well. The trip will be wonderful sightseeing Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terra, Portofino, Pompeii and Naples. IN OTHER WORDS WE WILL BE OFFLINE UNTIL LATE MAY. ARRIVIDERCI!

22 April, Thurs - OH are we weary. But we had a delicious dinner at the High NOON Restaurant in South Philly - close to Victor's - with the new Governor and her spouse, Ellen, Ray, Marge, John P. and Kim. The singing was good and so was the piano bar- but not good for conversation. Smooch Smooch leaves for TX today - woe is I - until Sunday.

19 April, Mon- The weary archivists completed cataloging 400 of the 70o volumes using the LDS website very late last night. The work today was catalog/indexing the unprocessed boxes shelved in the moving process from Washington, D.C. to the seminary. Many boxes of papers were not filed and hence took forever to file. Kudos to the Trolley Restaurant, the Olde Tavern and Grill across from the seminary, and the Bone fish Grill for dinner tonight. But our heads keep hitting the keyboard falling asleep and we cannot prop our eyelids open a minute longer: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

18 April, Sun - The temp is still cool. But we are making tremendous progress indexing the four hundred remaining books this morning. Cynthia completed her list late afternoon and the SCS boxes are now assigned call letters. It was time for a dinner break: Philadelphia has a Bonefish Grill. Good news! And the food is good, too. One more late night should suffice to have call numbers assigned to all of the books.

17 April, Sat - Did not go to sleep until two AM locating call numbers from the LDS website to add to the book list. Enjoyed a leisurely morning before going to the Trolley Restaurant for omelets and onto the seminary to continue last evening's work. Another long day tomorrow and we will be ready to tackle unpacking the books again to sort them by LDS call numbers on Monday. After dinner at Ruby Tuesday's we hiked the mall because it is chilly outside.

16 April, Friday - A celebration is in order! We have been buried alive in boxes -- but today all of the papers are out of binders and into archival files and boxes. We enjoyed another great dinner with John Peterson, Curator of the Archives.
15 April, Thurs. - We had a late morning pre-marital counseling session with the VERY Delightful Rev. Joy of Gloria Dei Church - church home of our common ancestor, Peter Gunnarson Rambo before dining on the ship Moshulu. Because the food was so fine we wanted to linger - but we hurried back to the archives to continue working on the Craig collection. It helps to drive past magnificent cherry blossoms in bloom.

Smooch has a ready tip for the cleaning woman who seems to be fond of the puckered up frog.

13 April, Wed- Working at Hardly Working... in the Brossman Center of the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia - archiving the vast colonial records of Dr. Peter Craig - a dear friend and remarkable historian who passed away last Thanksgiving.

12 April, Monday - American Swedish Museum in Philadelphia has Rambo Apple Trees planted with a lovely plaque explaining their origin. Worked at the archives in the Lutheran Seminary on Peter Craig's extensive Swedish records all day.

11 April, Sunday - Swedish Colonial Society Luncheon - Wilmington Country Club - Gov. Herb Rambo, Cynthia. Beautiful day, gorgeous flowers and landscaping. Tonight at the Chestnut Hill Hotel after meeting some wonderful folks like Alfred who gave a marvelous seminar on Swedish cabins of the 17th century.

10 April, Sat. Manchester, NH - Drew, B.D.
9 April, Friday: Richard G. and his lovely wife Cynthia in Cambridge, MA
8 April, Thurs - Doctor says to count blessings. The knee is in the last stages of arthritis - bone on bone without enough cartilage for a Synsvic injection. The only remaining solution is to have knee replacement which would still not allow sports competition. Therefore the BEST plan is to be thankful for hiking, walking and whatever still works on this aging body. After a hearty lunch at Whole Foods we toured Boston's historic north end and followed the Freedom Trail. We ate some mighty fine salmon at the Old Usher Oyster Bar, saw the USS Constitution, Central & Quincy Markets, walked across the bridge to MIT trying to locate Bonnie K. and took the subway back to the hotel. Wonderful dinner at Audubon with Squire! What a terrific guy.

7 April, Wed - drove to Boston to see the doctor re: knee. Arrived Commonwealth Hotel about 9 PM. Fantastic dinner outdoors at the Eastern Standard restaurant. We tried walking but the crowds from Fenway Park were too much. The Red Sox played the first game of the season - losing - but the fans were still cheerful.

6 April, Tues - Exercised, walked to Gloria Dei to meet with the most delightful Rev. Joy to begin pre-marital counseling. At one PM we met with Rev. Kim-Eric to begin archiving the vast Swedish Colonial records willed to the Swedish Colonial Society by Dr. Craig. It was so fun we did not want to quit working but did take that break for a great dinner with Kim and John.

5 April, Mon - Spent the day driving after exercise arriving in Philadelphia by noon. Lunch on the Moshulu (old tall ship at Penn's Landing) was fabulous. We are staying at the Society Hill Sheraton. Late afternoon we walked through the historic district of downtown Philadelphia.

4 April, Sun - Easter sunrise service was magnificent in the great cathedral. daffodils, mist rising from the lake amid music wafting from the skies: Thanks be to God!

We had a glorious day biking with Jim and Joanie (AWESOME JOB Joanie!) on the bikes traveling through parts of Virginia, crossing the AT about four times. Dinner in the evening with Jim's wonderful family on a picturesque Maryland farm and departed for Philadelphia - making it to Florence for the night.

3 April, Sat. Washington, D.C., Old Ebbitt Grill with niece Sarah, a navy JAG and new homeowner, nephew Benjamin, attorney, bro Dean and wife Janina, buddy Jim Sweet and sweetheart Joanie. What a terrific day. After lunch we walked through Independence Mall (try to find a satellite toilet! go figure!). Cherry blossoms lined the Potomac; Lincoln Memorial was nice across the river - but noisy crowds were too much - maybe fifty thousand people!

2 April, Friday - Surprise! We wondered if it was an April Fool's joke. The Willard (Inter-Continental Hotel) in D.C. automatically upgraded our room to the John F. Kennedy suite with all of the ambiance of the oval office. Thanks to Priority Club membership! Dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill was a treat, too, with Rambo and Bankston cousins who live in D.C. - talk was non-stop genealogy. Jill works at the National Archives and Carmen's husband, Larry, is a genealogist with the DAR. They came to see The Willard to see the room, too.

1 April, Thurs - After a fifteen hour sleep at a great Hampton Inn near Florence, SC, food and exercise (45 minutes on the elliptical machine and walking up five flights of stairs) we journeyed to Raleigh, NC and the State Archives for an hour and thirty minutes of research. Unfortunately we did not locate Grace Turner to treat her to dinner for finding the James Lea deposition of 1793-97. She does not volunteer in the Archives often now. Thank you, Grace!!!! LOVED the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. The salmon was awesome; so was the large portion house salad. Our friendly waiter, Barrett, suggested a great light draft beer: Red Oak. The sun glowed a lovely red behind us as we headed east from Raleigh. The new electric cooler (plugs into the cigarette lighter) worked nicely; it kept a half gallon of skim milk, non-fat cheese slices, two cartons of non-fat cottage cheese and blueberries cold until our arrival at Rocky Mount tonight. After another thirty minutes of exercise it is time for beddy bye.