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Saturday, November 30, 2013

La Mulţi Ani, România!

The flags were flown at 5:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time; it was midnight in Romania.

The McDougalls at "Hotel New Hampshire" salute all our friends in Romania on the First of December, Ziua Naţională de România!

And both the Romanian tricolor and Old Glory were lit through the night.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Joys and Eyebrow Raisers of a Hospitable Septuagenarian

What a Thanksgiving week it has been, so far!
Roxana, Natalie, Titiana, Iulia, and Shirl.

Early in the week I went shopping for a big turkey and some goes-with-its, in anticipation of our annual Thanksgiving gathering.  This year we had invited back Alex Mican and Titiana Morariu, plus Titiana's Colombian roommate, Natalie, who shares an apartment in Revere, Massachusetts, just a bit north of Boston.

Hence, I straightened up the two guest rooms on the second floor (etaj unu) at Hotel New Hampshire, putting clean sheets on both their queen-sized beds, vacuuming, setting window shades, etc.  I can be quite the innkeeper for such occasions!  Shirl, my beloved wife, tolerates my congenital hospitality, but rarely sees it as her job to help with the physical preparations.  (Shirl does her part in the kitchen, by keeping us all laughing.)

On Wednesday, I drove to Revere and met the young ladies at their brand new apartment complex.  I was a bit early, and I had forgotten to bring my cell phone, but fortunately, I remembered their address and room number, so I was waiting in the hall for them to get home from their office in Boston (both work at the same company).  As I waited, I met six or seven dogs.  It seems that this building is known as "The Dog House," the only one in the complex that allows pets.  And at about 4:30 on the day before Thanksgiving, everyone was arriving home from work, and taking his or her dog out for a "walk."  Fortunately, I love dogs, so was not intimidated, and fortunately, none of the dogs saw this stranger as a threat to home and family, so none raised a ruckus over my being there.

After about a half-hour's wait, Titiana and Natty arrived, and shortly we were headed north, singing Christmas carols as we rode.  It turned out that Natty is the daughter of a choir director in Cartagena, and that she has a beautiful clear voice, perfect pitch, and knows many traditional carols in English!

On the way home, we stopped in Saugus at Kowloon Restaurant and ate, bringing home at about 7:30, some Chinese food for Shirl, Alex McD. and Dani Rusu.  As it turned out, Dani was the only one interested in it, though there ensued a party in the kitchen once Alex Mican, Septi and his friend Iulia arrived.  It was quite a raucous event, with decorum thrown to the winds, and bawdy stories told in two languages.  Dare I admit that a bit of beer flowed, as well?

Then, about 10:30, the young folks all took off for Waterville Valley, and the Silver Fox Inn, which Alex Mican helps to manage, and where we had planned to have our Thanksgiving Dinner.

The next morning, Dani dropped Titiana and Natty off, then headed out to go shopping.  The girls reported that they had not slept.  Somehow, they managed to stay up and keep me company and I made a bread stuffing, and prepared to roast our turkey for that evening's meal.  Then, we watched a movie and a half, as the wonderful aroma of roasting turkey slowly spread through all of HNH.  Natty, not surprisingly, fell asleep in from of the TV, and missed the second film.  But Titiana stuck it out.
Dani, Iulia, Alex McD., Alex Mican, Roxana (standing), Titiana and Natalie
Then, last night, we had our feast.  It was great!  Among the biggest hits was the mincemeat pie that Titiana had prepared that afternoon.

Of course, on the ride home from the valley, my Santa Fe carried only the three McDougalls.  The Romanians and the Colombiana all stayed to continue their party for a second night.

What do young people do at such parties?  Hmmm?

And, please remind me why I made beds for our guests?

One eyebrow rises as I ask myself that!
Aw, shucks!  Dani just came into the kitchen!  He tells me he brought two pretty, but tired young ladies home at about 1:00 A.M.  That changes the story!  (I am sure glad that I made those beds!)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

De ce nu te place curcan?

Photo: Timisoara_Zoological_Garden_and_Szeged_ZOO
My beloved and respected colleague Roxana came up to me to remind me that, while she would be attending this year's Thanksgiving dinner, she would not be eating any turkey.  Practicing my (slowly improving) Romanian, I asked Prof. Dr. Roxana (Dima) Wright why she does not like turkey.  Hence, this post's title, which is how I asked her.  I have later learned that I inadvertently asked, "Why doesn't turley like you."  (Te should have been îţi.) The kind Roxana, after a one-second pause, replied, "I don't know, but I just don't like the taste."  

Curcan (kur-kaan') means turkey in Romanian.  

Chickens are everywhere in Romania.  One sees them in all villages, as many homeowners keep them for eggs and for meat, which in part explains why virtually all Romanian village yards are fenced.  But curcani are less common.  They are definitely not a regular part of Romanian cuisine.  One does not order a hot turkey sandwich at a diner there, as one might here in the States, and I doubt that the turkey club sandwich will be popular there until golf becomes so.

This year we are having Thanksgiving dinner at the Silver Fox Inn in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, hosted by MICAN Alexandru (din Bistrița), whom we have known (as an adopted nephew) for the past five years.  Alexandru is now working as a manager at that resort hotel, and has invited us to use its spacious dining room.  Many of our friends from last year's Thanksgiving celebration will be joining us there, including native Romanians Roxana (din Brașov), Titiana Morariu (din Sebeș),  and Daniel Rusu (din Cluj), along with Shirley, me, and our son Alex.  Tomorrow I will be driving down to Revere, Massachusetts, to pick up Titiana and her roommate Natalie Avilán (de Colombia).  We will be thinking also of our recent visitors from Romania, Monica and Alexandra, both of whom we will miss at this year's celebration.   

I am thankful to God for all of my friends and relatives, students and acquaintances, colleagues and fellow bikers.  I am thankful for my family, and for my health.  I am thankful for happiness.

To curcan-lovers and turkey-shunners everywhere, I wish you all a

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sorta For Sale

Click picture to see full view.
This is my 1990 Ducati 750 Sport. (It is sorta for sale.) European paint scheme, unique in America. (Magazine road test bike!) Under 18,000 original miles. With brand new Paso tires, not yet installed. Strong runner. Ducati handling. But, it does not fit me, as a slightly overweight 70 year old, and there isn't room in the living room for so large a sculpture. (So, $4400 takes it all, if you get here before I get emotional. Serious inquires only, please, to

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A True St. Louis Cardinals Story

The full-page ad above appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Thanks, Charles!) last weekend, after the Red Sox had beaten the Cardinals in Major League Baseball's 2013 World Series.  I loved this ad for its obvious good sportsmanship, and also because it reminded me of two other life experiences.

The first was in 1961, as we on the New Trier Swim Team were about to swim against Evanston, our arch-rivals.  Our coach, Dave Robertson, in his characteristic soft-spoken way, told us, "It is easy to be a good winner, but it's hard to be a good loser.  So, today, let's do the easy thing."  (We won the meet.)

The second was in 2005.  I was riding Rocinante west to California, to my brother Bob's house.  (Shirl would later fly to Burbank, then we'd ride together on a two-week motorcycle tour of California and western Nevada.)  As I headed across Missouri on I-70, I was following a maroon station wagon with a St. Louis Cardinals sticker on the rear window.  Both the car and I pulled off at a service area, and parked.  As I was following the woman and her two children into the restaurant, I called to her.

"Excuse me, Ma'am,  May I ask you a question about the Cardinals sticker on your car?"

"Sure," she said, "what do you want to know?"

"Well, I grew up in Chicago, and I was a Cubs fan, but I have always been curious," I asked, "how far across Missouri one must drive before he stops meeting Cardinals fans, and starts to meet Kansas City Royals fans?"

"Denver," she replied.