Monday, July 28, 2014

"Dali Really Melted the Clock on this Country"

I was invited to submit a guest travel story to and it ran today:

...Spain runs on caffeine. It has to. Because everyone there walks fast, talks fast, drives fast, and takes high speed trains. Spaniards ignore the night and never eat dinner before 10 p.m. My son reported that clubbing goes on until at least 5 a.m. Because of its time warp, Spain is a great place for travel if you want to see five cities in eight days, and never feel rushed. We saw MadridToledoGranadaCordoba, and Seville and had time to enjoy them all...

Madrid from above

Read the rest:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rozita Made Me Do It

Rozita snares customer

Last weekend I did something I never do. I had a makeover at the Lancome counter.

I have been wearing my makeup the same way since my mother marched me into the Fosi Modeling and Talent Agency in Tucson, Arizona.. I don’t know how old I was—10, 11, 12? But I must have been pretty young because I didn't know what the word “features” meant. On first evaluation, Miss Fosi told my mother I had some nice features to work with. I had to ask my mother what she meant. Miss Fosi  had enough makeup on for both of us. She told me that the most fattening thing I could put in my mouth was a grape. By this she meant wine, and I am still not sure why she was saying this to a 10/11/12 year old.

So I learned the drill: a couple of layers of mascara, eyeliner, foundation, blush and lipstick. These were the basics and still are and I don’t leave home without them. No eye shadow because my mother said it the invention of Satan.
When I was able to climb up from the Ponds and Neutrogena level, I chose the Lancome line, sleek and black and French and glam. But in recent years they betrayed me twice. They discontinued my favorite mascara and foundation. So, acting out like a girl who had been dumped by her boyfriend, I took up with someone else immediately—Christian Dior got both the mascara and foundation business. I wouldn't even look at the Lancome ladies as I passed. I would show them. Dior had a Diorshow Mascara (“a big show mascara inspired by models behind the scenes runway trick.”)

Mascara is very important to me...
Lancome pulled me back in me with a rival to Diorshow, the introduction of a big fat stick of Hypnose Drama mascara.  And in truth I had been monogamous with Lancome for so long that it did seem silly to have to go to TWO counters just for some foundation. 

I like my mascara like my humor, dark and black
Then I met Rozita at the Lancome counter. I was charmed by Rosita and she convinced me I should book a makeover. To my surprise I said yes, giving up part of my precious Saturday because Rozita is someone you can’t say no to.

I got to sit in the high chair as I had seen so many women do over the years, but then again, they probably had not enjoyed the childhood benefit of Miss Flossie. It was a bit of a bait and switch because Rozita turned me over to the make-up pro of the day, Odetta from Lithuania.
Odetta: "Questions?"
When I told Odetta I was in the market for white skinny jeans and didn't have much time left, it being mid-July and all, we talked about the ridiculous convention of not wearing white until Memorial Day and after Labor Day. The Lithuanians are not burdened by this tradition. Odetta took about a half hour to make me over, I learned that I must exfoliate, put on the Energy before the base, use a pencil instead of a liquid liner and use eye cream morning and night. At the end Odetta stood back in a very business-like fashion, looked at me and said: “Questions?”

The stuff I am supposed to use
I had fun at the makeover, and it pumped me up to do more shopping...a couple of skinny jeans and a Christina Maldonado dress that I got to model for all of my new LancĂ´me BFFs.

Rozita took my phone number and I will undoubtedly respond to her siren’s call, the next promotion, the next deal. She indeed has me hypnosed.

Wearing my new jeggings at the Nats game. Don't want to get the white ones dirty.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Peabody Memphis has its Ducks in a Row

The Peabody Memphis built in 1925, originally in 1869

There is nothing like a stay at an old fashioned luxury hotel. We just experienced ours at the  Peabody Memphis Hotel. My son is going to Rhodes college in Memphis in the fall and as soon as I found out there was a Rhodes rate at the Peabody I booked it. The desk clerk asked if I would like to upgrade to a superior room. I immediately accepted, as I am wont to do. So we got a deluxe corner room on the 10th floor and could see the Mississippi River from our window.

            The beds felt like clouds with an excess of downy pillows; and the design of the room, well I am sure The Peabody won’t mind if I show you one of their photos.
Room at the Peabody

I just like elevators doors that look like this:

 I like hearing Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra in the breakfast room.  I like the exquisite service, with staff members greeting me every few yards and offering help. I like getting up in the morning, having the newspaper delivered in a special bag:
and heading to a deluxe health club. I like room service, especially when it rolls in on a cart between our beds.   
I am sure I could live quite happily in a hotel like this, become a modern day Eloise. I promise I would work out every day. There’s a spa where I could get my hair and nails done, there is food and drink and shopping and what in the world more do I need? The occasional trip to the rooftop to get some air and see the sunset over the Mississippi:
Sunset over the Mississippi

 I read that the Peabody's lobby is “the living room of the mid-south" which has been visited by “some of the most influential and famous people of the world.” A Southern historian called The Peabody “the Paris Ritz...the  London Savoy of this [Delta] region.” Well no wonder I loved it.

"The living room of the Mid South"

Just off the red carpet, vogueing
The Ducks
If you have ever heard of the Peabody, you have heard of the ducks. The expression “ducks in a row” may have started here in the 30’s. The duck procession occurs every morning at 11 where they come down the elevator and march in a row on a red carpet into the beautiful marble fountain topped by a flower arrangement the size of a washing machine.
Who gets this floral contract?

There is much pomp and circumstance leading up to the arrival of the ducks, there is a man in a red uniform who tells the legend and history of the ducks. Everyone must be seated in the lobby, no standing is politely enforced and then once the ducks splash in, it is photo opp time. The same ritual goes on at 5 p.m. when they return to their penthouse enclosure.

No Exit at the Gift Shop       
My son needed a sweatshirt so we popped into the gift shop. Let me back up by saying that my son has incredible blond curly hair that has drawn attention from strangers since he was a toddler,-stop-on-the-street attention. So much attention, in fact. that the tiresome question of “where did you get that curly blond hair” forced me to become a blonde. Here it is: 
The famous hair

But never has it attracted as much attention as it did by an employee in the Peabody gift shop who had her hands in my son’s hair in minutes, was raving about it and said it was so pretty she had to put a bow in it. She went behind the counter, cut a blue ribbon and and sat him down and fixed him up. Talk about your Southern hospitality.
Franky Bowed

I pledge my allegiance to the Peabody. I expect to be going to Memphis several times over the next four years and I will stay nowhere else. I will just pack, quack and go. I encourage you to do the same.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Are you Really in the Years? Sixteenth 4th in the Hood.

Accessorizing always important
When we reluctantly left the city to move to the suburbs, we thought we might as well go all out and get a Norman Rockwell kind of neighborhood. The kind that has The Great Pumpkin, Santa Claus on a fire truck, and our very own Fourth of July parade and picnic at the park.  We found it, Wood Acres, Bethesda, Maryland. We live on the very street the parade comes down, so just have to look outside to see if it's started and head down to watch. It isn't much of a parade, bicycle brigade, Boy Scouts, local  politicians, a decorated pick up truck loaded with kids throwing candy and our friend Margaret's husband dressed up as Uncle Sam reading the Declaration of Independence as he walks. Margaret always heads straight for us, takes a picture, and yesterday she turned over the archives:
2012, when children still joined us
2013 (note: different sunglasses)
This year, 2014, pretty laid back

Better than fireworks--a visit from Joe Rhodes, Traipsmobile* King

* See August 2012 blog "Visiting Dignitary"

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Seven Glamour Tips Before a Trip to Europe

Things to Know Before You Go

Seven tips without a chip


Everyone has been raving about the new gel polish that lasts up to two weeks. My plain manicure chips by the time I open the car door. I refused to believe it.  There’s just a little toxicity issue, the gel requires you to put your hands under a UV lamp and the removal requires acetone. But for a vacation—you don’t want to be spending time touching up your nails or getting a manicure. This is how my nails look after 10 days.  So please, pick your poison.


If you have long hair, for God’s sake, go to The Dry Bar the day before you leave and get a blow out and buy a dry shampoo, a spray. This way you won’t have to wash your hair for up to a week. Just like your  mothers and grandmothers used to do.  And you will be spared the misery of standing in a hotel bathroom with a blow dryer and a curling hot iron wasting up to 40 minutes of valuable vacation time.


These shoes are meant for walkin'

It goes without saying that you will have had a pedicure. But here’s the most important thing, you have to buy the most comfortable, durable, but, of course, glamourous, walking shoes. Why? Because on a European tour you will be walking miles every day. My favorite brand is Arche, a French company— buckskin leather on top, which feels like you are in bedroom slippers, and a latex sole that will never make it to heaven because it just won’t die. You gotta spend the dough ($299) if you want to save your toes.

The beautiful solution

Cute but not gonna work
When you announce that you are going to Spain the only thing previous travelers say is that you are going to be pick-pocketed. Gypsies, tramps and thieves everywhere. If you are a large-pursed woman who thinks you will magically turn into a small-pursed woman during the trip, forget it right now. I bought this smart little nylon bag and knew I could wear it across my chest and be safe. I was safe but boy was I miserable. I wanted all my stuff from my big bag. Since no glamourous woman would sport a backpack, the other solution seems to be the cinched bag string backpack. If you want to buy one before you leave that says Coach or Louis Vuitton, go ahead, if you can find it, but most likely you will be in a souvenir shop buying one of these, throwing the small purse in it and thinking it was the best purchase you ever made.


Okay, you love nothing more than a travel morning run. Go to the hotel desk, ask for a local running map and start your day exploring the neighborhood to get oriented and the adrenaline flowing. My husband told me to take money in case I got lost and needed a cab home. But I would show him. I did everything  wrong—I didn’t ask for the map, I had a wonderful run around downtown Madrid and while climbing the steep steps to get a closer look at the sculpture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, I gouged my shin. I became hopelessly disoriented and had to hail a cab to get back to the hotel. The moral of the story here is skip the morning run. You will walk so much that you will exceed your daily cardio workout. 

Be in Good Shape:

Oh that’s right; you already are because you are glamorous. But fair warning, you are going to be walking, hiking and climbing up 37-story bell towers just about all day every day.  Sometimes on medieval streets, cobblestones, dirt roads,and marble. You must be ready for this. Everyone in my family has XXlong legs so I would describe our pace as intense. We can’t help it. 

Facial care:
Neither fish nor foul
Wherever you stand on the carry-on versus checked luggage, we all agree the bag of liquids is a pain. There is no way you can get your large Lancome Milky Cleanser through security, so give it up. Use facial wipes. Any brand you like. These goofy little things are neither liquid nor solid, neither fish nor foul, so they don’t count in your liquids bag and they are remarkably effective and refreshing.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Margo and Peter in a horse carriage in Sevilla. Much more to come. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Year in Review (2013)

Okay, let’s do the year in review. I know it is a little early, but I am having dinner guests on New Year’s Eve, so I will be too busy for the next couple of days, getting a manicure, going to The Dry Bar, shopping and cooking.
Thanks to the old-school pocket calendar which I fill in throughout the year, I have been able to recreate the highlights of 2013.
 Movies: Anna Karenina, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Salmon Fishing on the Yemen, Zero Dark Thirty, To Rome with Love, The Master, The Queen of Versailles, Searching for Sugarman, Quartet, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Central Park Five, All the President’s Men, The New World, Frances Ha, Before Midnight, One Eyed Jack, Cloud Atlas, The Seekers, Lawrence of Arabia, The Usual Suspects, The Prestige, The Graduate, Adaptation, Bernie, The Science of Sleep, Blue Jasmine, Rush, Captain Phillips, Giant, Nashville, Notorious
Cultural Outings:  Three plays: Good People, the Book of Mormon, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I went to the Phillips Gallery twice, once with Peter and another time with Kathleen to see the preview of the Van Gogh show; I took Peter to the Holocaust Museum and I attended the National Book Festival to see Linda Ronstadt.
A Sound Reason to Visit Martha's Vineyard
Trips:  I went to Honolulu on business in February; spent spring break traipsing around the dreary NJ, CT, NY, PA area looking at colleges (only to learn that Franky wanted to go south); spent a week in Martha’s Vineyard, thanks to Peter’s best-ever summer job as a member of the Vineyard Sound a cappella group;  back to Cape Cod with Jane for a visit to Susan in East Falmouth, and then one more time to Martha’s Vineyard for Peter retrieval; and went to Saratoga Springs, NY for Parents’ Weekend at Skidmore. Conspicuous by their absence: New York City, Tucson, California and Maine. Gotta fix that next year.
Books: I now belong to two book clubs, so I am always reading for one or the other; sometimes they overlap so I have to skip one, but overall it has upped my reading and steered me toward books I would otherwise never pick up.  Here are a few we have covered in the two clubs: The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., Sandra Gulland (Part One of a Trilogy); The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout; War and Peace, Tolstoy (ongoing, four-part book club); American Pastoral (in progress)  and Operation Shylock by Phillip Roth; Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe; Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf; Age  of Innocence, Elizabeth Wharton; O Pioneers, Willa Cather; Madame Bovary, Flaubert; Therese Raquin, Zola; Excellent Women, Barbara Pym;  Cannery Row, Steinbeck; The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene; What’s Bred in the Bone, Robertson Davies; The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles; the Road from Coorain, Jill Ker Conway…okay I am going back more than one kill me. I didn’t do this exercise last year.

Who Can Forget the Nose Cast?
Accidents: I broke my toe; I broke my nose (tennis); and in an “unfortunate spinning accident” my foot came out of the pedal going at top speed into my shin and I required 11 stitches. First and last spinning class.
You Say Goodbye
And I Say Hello
Fitness and Glamour: I ran, played tennis and took yoga classes. I quit Equinox, an expensive health club, which I was under-utilizing at $140 a month; and became obsessed with The Dry Bar, and for $200 a month may never have to wash or dry my hair again. Ooops, $140 a month habit dropped, $200 a month habit taken up. Even I can do the math on that one.
Money/Miscellany/Mini: So as they used to say: “Mother is going to take in a little sewing.” I started freelance proofreading last summer and am very happily employed by HealthyLivinG, a monthly magazine based in Beverly Hills, which keeps me busy in my increasing spare time; and sends me checks which I am banking for our trip to Madrid to see Peter next spring; but after that, may apply to my new major purchase.
Who Says Mini Can't Buy Happiness?
College Bound...Somewhere
College bound and determined: Franky took over the search, found seven schools in the south and two in California; has been admitted to two early action, is waiting to hear from the rest.
 For a variety of reasons, I am much happier this year. Let’s hope the good times roll into 2014.