Monday, May 2, 2011


31 May, Tues: Queensferry, Scotland: Smooch Smooch is suffrind from a bahd cohd!  An early breakfast hour suddenly evaporated making us late for our 7:00 tour departure at Queensferry.  The previous tour had departed a good 20 minutes late, so we were unconcerned and Ron made a precautionary pit stop while smooch proceeded alone to the Explorers Lounge to check in for the tour.  Poor smooch was hustled off alone, sent ahead to board the launch to shore.  However she was turned back at the launch and instructed to return to check-in and find Ron.  Meanwhile Ron explained the situation at the check in station and was hurried to another craft headed to shore.  Upon return to check-in Smooch Smooch wailed, "Two weeks is too soon to lose a husband!"  She was ushered to another launch with a promise that Ron would be awaiting her on the pier.  Meanwhile, at the bus, Ron was perplexed that there was no smooch smooch on board, and the guide suggested that his new bride might be on the next launch to land.  Ron walked again the length of the pier wondering if he would ever see his beloved smooch again.  There she was, and the lovers enjoyed a breathless reunion as they "raced", wheezing, to the tour bus.  Guide, driver, and fellow passengers were graceful about the delay, and the driver made up the 1/2 hour by the time they reached the Abbey on the Scottish "Borders."  Good sights: ruins of a Cistercian monastic abbey dating to the 12th century, the grave of Sir Walter Scott, a castle belonging to the Duke of Roxburough (the most important man in Scotland), quaint Scottish towns, the names of Beattie and Little on a brochure about the Borders Rievers (raiders), homes of poets, authors, building where the first Harry Potter book was written.  A sick Smooch Smooch had a hot toddy in an old restaurant that once was home to a man who reputedly became the character of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Scotland is rightly proud of its many brilliant scientists, inventors, and literary giants.  Smooch Smooch went to the doctor on the ship with an elevated temp and hacking cough - not to mention unceasing high pitched whine and wailing.  She swigged down the cough med and antibiotics  with instructions to be in isolation for 24 hours.

30 May, Mon: (thanks to the ship navigator for cruise details)
Rise and Shine… well, not exactly.  Smooch Smooch bounced out of bed shrieking, “Its eight AM!”  rushing to breakfast to catch a tour of Invergordon departing at eight-thirty.  The dining area empty and no food lines looked mighty strange until the waiter said the dining room didn’t open until five-forty-five AM.  Telling time can be a challenge for a Smooch Smooch.  The spectacular sunrise was marvelous - beautiful blue skies over Scotland as we passed Helmsdale Point on the starboard side proceeding southwest through the Moray Firth.   Cynthia has inherited Ron’s cold and succumbed to the notion of spending the day in bed instead of cruising Loch Ness and climbing in the center of the Highlands.  Oh, well.  There is no Nessie after all: the Loch Ness Monster hoax was finally brought to light in 1994 when one of the hoaxters confessed to rigging the photo of a toy against a photo of the lake.

Sunday, May 29, 2011:  Sea Day meant we could sleep late and enjoy the view of the water out the windows but it is too cool to sit on the balcony with head colds.   We had a late lunch brunch before going to a Sommelier wine tasting where we lost all sense of time.   From the ship log we learned the ship crossed the Little Minch early in the day – and the beautiful islands of the Outer Hebrides ion the port side and the  Northwest Hebrides on the starboard side.  From there we entered the North Minch Channel with the Isle of Skye on the starboard side.  Ron enjoyed the fitness center before dinner with very delightful people: Annie and June from Texas and a couple from England.  It was the last formal night and someone looked like a gorgeous HUNK in his tuxedo after Samuel (the steward) buttoned his collar and fixed the bowtie.    Evening we passed in between the NE tip of Scotland and the Orkney Islands before heading into the North Sea.

Saturday, May 28, 2011: Greenock, also known as the Port of Glasgow was the stop for today.  Smooch Smooch forgot we had excursion tickets for a tour so we missed the planned tour.  Instead, Ron went to bed with a head full of cold stuffs.  She took the afternoon tour of the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the picturesque village of Luss located on the west shore of Loch Lomond.   In Gaelic, Luss means plant or herb and the village in spring is a riot of color from roses and wildflowers.  With Ron outta sight she could not resist tasting toffee and fudge Orkney ice cream now that she knows of her Orcadian ancestors from the iron age when it was a Norse province).  It was marvelous to see the stone cottages and walk out on the pier for a mouth dropping view of  Loch Lomond before driving onto the stunning Highland Glens, Be Thankful overlook, Loch Eck and Holy Lock  before boarding a ferry across the River Clyde.   Our dinner at Sebastini’s  was ok – but not as good as Michelangelo’s. 

Friday,  May 27, 2011: During the night we crossed the Irish Sea and made port in Belfast where we disembarked to walk to the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland once again.  The records are sparse prior to 1800.  Ron found the deed between James Ager(Edgar, Eger), James Ewing and John Forbis,  but the microfilm was very hard to read; perhaps when we reach Salt Lake City once again we may find the deed has been transcribed.   Now we know the parents of the immigrant ancestor, Benjamin Beatty who married Margaret Jeffrey Forbes whose Forbes, Ager and Ewing  ancestors are being researched.  
26 May: Shipboard for the day again.  Liverpool might have been fun to visit since we coulda woulda shoulda paid homage to the Beatles by visiting them in person.  Although the plugged head is better, another restful day seems advisable ... besides, who wants to pop outta bed at 6:30 am two days in a row ??  Breakfast was again pleasant although Ron was surprised that his fever has so successfully burned calories that he appears a bit thinner despite eating almost non-stop.  Who knew that this ill "wind" would blow that particular advantage.

25 May, Wed: Dublin and Glendalough by bus, our first day off the bus, first day out of the sickbed.  Tour buses have wonderful big, expansive windows, but I would still rather be on a motorcycle (no doubt driving on the wrong side of the road occasionally.)  The stops and countryside scenery were wonderful, especially the St. Patrick's Cathedral (with grave of Jonathan Swift - not at all swift now) and the ruins of St. Kevin's Monastery from the 4th century when the Irish were at the forefront of Christianity and education.  The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain, the rain in Ireland mainly stays.  It was fascinating to watch the vegetation fly by only inches from the bus windows - obviously pruned daily by bus & truck shears.  The roads were so narrow that opposing buses and trucks almost always slowed to a crawl to pass safely with inches to spare - or fractions of inches to spare.  The luncheon stop was late for most passengers, about 1pm, especially wearing since the bus loaded at 7:30.  The guide was neither bright nor informative and seemed clueless that his passengers were so slothful and quiet much of the morning.  Good God, is the man unaware of the dangers of coffee deprivation ??  Lunch was very nice since Ron guessed upon entry that this was going to be one meal fits all and asked for turkey plain and steamed vegetables as he was being seated.  The servers are all on auto-pilot, so beef and gravy magically appeared in front of us three times before our (undressed) turkey finally came.  Methinks that the turkey was more tasty.

24 May, Tues:  Fever abated - good sweats foul smell on sheets.  Smooch Smooch moved into the spa.  Woe is I, driven from bed and room by a sick & stinky mate.  We stayed onboard - with plans to disembark AM in Dublin,  Marvelous sunset.

23 May, Mon: Good night sleep but fever raging.  St. Peter's Port - monastery on island outside our lovely stateroom with balcony. Smooch Smooch went to spa for acupuncture on torn rotator cuff.  Tomorrow Cobh, Ireland. 

22 May, Sun: five thirty wake up call!  Hammie made the airport trip in time - flight went well - so did trip by bus to Southampton to the Crown Princess dock and even through another security check.  Smooch Smooch completed the health form that said we were both healthy.  Hah! We were until three PM  - high fever  - time to hit the bed.  Cruise started at five PM.

 21 May, Sat: Outline: County Down, Culloden Hotel, Londonderry Family Trust, Royal County Down Golf Course and Sleive ? Hotel lunch by the sea before return to Belfast.  Pack.  Library.  Dinner.  Departure 6:45 AM.  Thank you Hammie for another delightful day!

 20 May, Fri: Details will follow outline later:
 Mr. Hamilton (Hammie) Lowe is the most marvelous, congenial guide who drove us to County Antrim and the North Coast - stopping at the Giant's Causeway so we could hike to the causeway and waited patiently while we posed for SMOOCH photos in front of the magnificent view.  Onward to lunch next to some Texans with beautiful SMU collegiates; and Yo Ho again to the track of the North 200 ...where we drove on the motorcycle track (in a car bumper to bumper) watching hordes of people poured into the hamlet for the big race at ten tomorrow,  Following the N Coast line through small villages we found Irish lace for a granddaughter before heading back to the hotel for dinner.  OH.  we looked for a cottage to let for next summer but failed to locate the exact one.  BushMills Distillery - oldest in the world.  Lunch at BushMills Restaurant and Inn not to be forgotten.

19 May, Thurs: We arose before eight AM - surprising the chef  who quickly popped the fat free bread into the oven while super-sizing the egg white veggie omelets.  Smooch Smooch spent the morning in the first class fitness center; it sits high atop the hotel overlooking the city scape in all four directions.  The elliptical machine is not so compatible with the knee.  She enjoyed a sauna and steam room. Imagine sitting outdoors in a rooftop hot tub six floors high!  We walked a mile or so to the Presbyterian Historical Society located next to Union and Queens College for a most delightful conversation with the historian.  Not only was she very knowledgeable but also very charming. She was worth the trip.   The folks at PRONI do a fine job but lack historical knowledge. 
Today is our first week anniversary!  WE ARE MIGHTY HAPPY!  Thanks for the photo, Janina!
 18 May, Wed:  Beal Farst... is the Irish pronunciation of Belfast.  PRONI records do not have the needed records accessible yet.   It is not a wasted trip.  We will return - maybe not here - but at least to the countryside to explore this magic isle.

17 May, Tues: Belfast, Ireland.  Dining and lodging are marvelous.  We plan to move here next year.  Well, for three months maybe?  Amazing, delightful people in this city.  We slept until nine-thirty  (well we ARE honeymooning), had one of the best egg white veggie omelets ever, walked to the City Hall, had lunch with a most delightful young woman and her auntie who plan to visit the US next September.  Smooch Smooch found Irish linens to send to Texas for gifts - shipping  was free because the linen shop gets the VAT tax returned.  From there we walked to the Titanic Dock and crossed the street to 2 Titanic Row for a visit to PRONI (the Public records of  Northern Ireland).  Ron disappeared in 33 miles of records with his eyes glazed over.  YDNA testing revealed a strong connection to the Little/Lytle line that lived near the Beatties in the mid-1600's.  Today we found Beatty records dating to 1100 AD and a Garrett Beatty.   Dinner at the Merchants Hotel was again splendid.

 16 May, Mon: Belfast, Ireland - Merchants Hotel in the DECADENT DINING ROOM.  Ya just gotta see this room to believe it.  The rooms in the hotel are either Art Deco (ours) or Victorian,.  Amazing amenities.  The Groom's tattoo, painfully applied by a sadistic cousin, retains its initial glory, shining forth:
SMOOCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

 12 May, Thurs: Hooray! Hooray for the Twelfth of May.  Now to change the blog title  - Where ARE R and C?  The day was incredible. Life is good. And we have pictures to prove it!

This is the link to the images posted on the web by our terrific photographer, Mark James of Philadelphia:

We are off to Ireland followed by a Princess Cruise of the British Isles departure 15 May.  Love to all - love love love!

 10 May, Tues: the Smooch Smooch is beautified and the vows are memorized (well almost but not quite) the friend are arriving from hither and yon! Life is Good!  Here we are... Here we stand.  or... horizontally inclined.  amazed at this love that encompasses us.  Awesome!
9 May, Mon:  Moving recyclables out of hotel room only took two days.  Not too bad for a six weeks sojourn.  After loading three cases of beer in the rear hatch it was challenging to find space to store the stash.  Fortunately Smooch Smooch did not have to stay behind.   Thanks, Walter,  for the photo labeled, "my motorcycling friend who grins from ear to ear,"   and the warning, "I hope he has better shoes and socks than the last time I saw him."  HA!  Does the King of Frugal change spots or socks?

 8 May, Sun:  Happy Mother's Day Moms!  Thank you Eric and Jean for a marvelous Mother's Day dinner at their club overlooking the golf course near Villanova: food we can eat and then some,  Eric treated us to some rare beer that has been discontinued and very pricey; it tastes a little like champagne,  Two bottles of the beer left and he owns them both,  And now there is one.  We can thank Eric the connoisseur of ale for three cases made in his brewery (he is one of the owners).  The beer will be a treat at the reception along with Aquavit and wine. 

Nina Farana, friend, artist and poet from Santa Fe wrote:

Unto her –
his eyes –
If water
was a flame –
lift and chase
the sparkle
in her veins –
Not a rock
is he –
Or a stone –
But a canyon
with a thousand
depths –
The red core’s
heart –
The lips
that taste
the marrow
in her bones.

09/25/09   Thank you, Nina!

 7May, Sat:  Good news:  organization of the SCS books and surname boxes are completed.  Bad News: it needs to be reorganized again.  A new and better plan was hatched which means that every book shelved will be re-shelved.  Does the search system work?  It does.  But it can be better.  The Rambo Family Group Sheets and church burial records are providing corrections to some of Beverly's work.   Email correspondence is caught up.  Packing begjns tomorrow.  Monday night we move to the Sheraton.  Guests begin arriving Tuesday through Thurs.  Walter promised a drunk lunch and extreme embarrassment.  Smooch Smooch is going to the spa and not come out for two years or maybe it was two days?

Thanks to Herb and Zofia for a marvelous evening at their home and dinner at BoneFish Grill.   Delightful couple!

 3 May, Tues: Instead of the usual dive into the archives at the seminary we took time for a neighborhood walk to meet Spring.

2 May, Monday:  Merry! Marry! Ten days.  The time-line is ready, guest count is totaled, dresses shipped.  We are READY!  Smooch Smooch!  I love you, too!