Newtown Tragedy

What courage and strength the people of Newtown Connecticut have shown after this senseless tragedy. This can never happen again. President Obama said it best: “…Access to mental health care should be at least as easy as access to a gun.”

Royal Baby’s Kensington Crib


The new Royal Baby will have plush digs to look forward to once he or she is born: a swanky flat in Kensington Palace, right in the heart of Kensington Gardens, one of my favorite spots in London. 

It’s also just a stone’s throw from the Orangery, a lovely spot to grab scones when you’re walking through the park.  You can even fit double strollers into the cafe.  I’ve brought many visiting tourists there, and have sat with several friends with strollers.  The wait staff didn’t seem to mind. 

I feel for the Duchess of Cambridge, though; morning sickness isn’t fun, especially if it’s “acute.”  I’ve never known anyone to be hospitalized with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, but at least she’s well looked after.

And once she’s over the sickness, she’ll be one well-dressed pregnant lady. I am looking forward to seeing her royal maternity ensembles.


Election 2012

I haven’t been in the US for a Presidential Election in more than eight years. That’s my excuse for failing to realize how busy our polling station would be today.

I brought my three kids along, thinking they would be enriched by the democratic process. Instead, I have probably convinced them that voting is an arduous process requiring an hour and a half of standing in line.

My daughter was a trooper. She played with my phone, she chatted, and she asked politely when it would be time for breakfast (I had promised a trip to Starbucks if she behaved). My two sons left with my husband after five minutes after they made clear they weren’t happy with the wait.

I made the breakfast bribe before I saw the line, snaked through the corridors of our local elementary school. In 2004 and 2008, I mailed my ballot in from London, along with other expat absentee voters.

It didn’t occur to me that voting today would take longer than 20 minutes.

The hour and a half wait was worthwhile, though; my six year old relished touching the screen and casting the electronic ballot. So once she forgets the length of the line, she’ll be a dedicated voter. Like her mom.

London’s Olympic Pride


What a fantastic atmosphere in London for the 2012 Olympics. I tried to watch the Games on Atlanta televisions, but found that the only cure for Olympic Fever was a trip to London.

During the second week of the Olympics, I flew over to find the city more chipper than I had ever seen it while living there. From the cheery volunteers eager to give directions, to the adoring tabloid headlines trumpeting the gold medal performance of “Team GB,” Londoners were prouder than I had ever seen them.

I spoke to friends who wished they had volunteered to give Olympic tourists directions. Others got last minute tickets to events, but wished they had tried harder to buy tickets when the lottery first began. Many Londoners expected far more disruption and chaos from the Games than there actually was.

Everything that was supposed to go wrong seemed to go right. I was so impressed by the efficiency of the transport. The tube ran smoothly, and the Olympic Javelin train took me from St. Pancras to the Olympic Village vicinity in about 10 minutes. And I didn’t even have to pay.

Getting a ticket to an event during the second week was the icing on the cake. I sat among flag-clad, loudly cheering fans in the mens volleyball semifinals. It was an amazing atmosphere, with even the fans who cheered for the losing team looking chipper.

I can’t wait for Rio 2016.

Shard London Bridge Summit at dusk | 360 Panorama | London Photographer

Shard London Bridge Summit at dusk | 360 Panorama | London Photographer.

Contagion on the Plane

I watched Contagion on a nine hour long flight from the UK, to the US. Even for someone who is not particularly germ phobic, it was not a wise choice.

I washed my hands many times on that flight.

A Dress Fit for a Duchess, But Made for Me

It appears that I am not the only one who loves this olive green Ralph Lauren sweater dress Kate Middleton wore to a charity visit in London this week.

I don’t usually buy clothes I see celebrities wear. I gave that up in the Madonna “Like a Virgin” era. But I had to make an exception when I saw that lovely shade of green, and that flattering fit (although when your waist is as tiny as the Duchess of Cambridge’s, anything can look flattering).

In my defense, Kate Middleton’s Centrepoint attire was not my only shopping inspiration. I already have a bright red Ralph Lauren sweater dress, which is cozy and comfortable. So the Duchess isn’t the first to break out the turtleneck dress for the winter. But you can’t beat olive green.

I looked on Ralph Lauren’s website to find the dress (on sale!) for $199, marked down from $400. I called to ask a very helpful sales associate whether the dress was available in the flagship shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. My plan was to dispatch my Dad to pick it up, after I put it on hold.

The sales rep said that there were four in stock, and she would gladly have the shop set one aside for me.

I waited on hold, thinking that I had beat the hoards of Middleton admirers who might also have their eyes on that dress. But in the next five minutes, the four dresses were gone. While I waited on the phone, apparently four other Royal watchers snatched up the remaining dresses. At least my Dad can breathe a sigh of relief, when he finds out that he dodged the shopping scrum.

I managed to buy one online, before they disappeared. But now I worry that I will be a part of an olive green copy-Kate army, appearing in the UK this Christmas.

Borders’ Going Out of Business Sale

Intrigued by the large sign at the corner of the Midtown Borders in Atlanta, I decided to pop in with the kids to scoop up some bargains from the chain’s going-out-of-business sale. After all, the sign said (up to) 40% off regular prices.

We were not the only ones with this plan. The shopping center was mobbed. After five laps around the parking lot, we finally procured a spot. We then dodged cars that were driving too fast for a parking lot (the prospect of a going-out-of-business sale induces people to speed, it seems) to make it into the store — where I saw the longest line I have ever witnessed in any bookstore — even at Barnes and Noble on Christmas Eve.

After a ten minute wait, we had to leave to store to accommodate my daughter’s bathroom request. Borders had closed its bathrooms to customers (once you’re going out of business, customer comforts are no longer priorities, I suppose), so we headed to Whole Foods.

Then we returned to the still massive line, waited — and waited. When we finally reached the front, we found that the books we planned to buy were only 10% off — not 40%, as the sign said.

Only magazines are 40% off, the cashier told the irate customer ahead of us. Of course, by the time we reached the register, we would have gladly paid double for the books, as long as we could leave the shop.

I do feel for Borders, and for the thousands of people who will lose their jobs when the store liquidates. But I wish I had earned a steeper discount after that chaotic shopping spree.

Cars 2 Collision of Words

I think I might in a small but distinguished minority — I liked Cars 2. One of the moms in my neighborhood said that she saw people walk out of the theatre in disgust. But what’s not to like about the animation, the cute cars and the catchy theme song?

And who doesn’t like Michael Caine?

We didn’t see the first one; maybe if we had, we would be disappointed by the second. But I am still awed by the intricate animation. I get a kick out of the celebrity voices. And of course, I love the British/American culture clash theme.

I even overlooked the frequent gunfire scenes. Maybe they were out of place in a kids’ movie, but at least no one died.

Free Speech, plus Starbucks

I’m glad to see that Kevin Spacey kept a coffee in hand while marching in London for journalists’ rights in Belarus…