Labor Day fun 2018

September 6, 2018

BF John and I left for Dandridge, Tennessee, early (like 3 a.m. Central early!) on Thursday night to spend a long weekend with my brother and family for Labor Day weekend. What fun! And … I managed to be productive and start two step stools that have been on order since the Art in the Garden show in June. (Yes. I’m slow when not given a deadline – something I know I need to work on.) I’ll post pictures of those in the near future. Meanwhile, check out the gorgeous Douglas Lake we enjoyed and a couple pictures of the silly and courageous John and Bill (brother – left)!

lake douglas TN LD 2018



I’m not sure I ever thought I would be able to say, “I have seen the Taj Mahal.” I’m pretty sure I hadn’t thought about it until I was presented with the opportunity to come to India for work. I have a funny memory of camping with my brother and his friends one year where someone put up a sign on their tent naming it the Taj Mahal. There have definitely been other references to it that have caused me to pause, but the thoughts of it were short-lived.

Well, now I can say it. Not a picture I would normally share (not good of either of us) but I am in front of the Taj and I have proof.

Taj Mahal 05032015

It was really amazing. Although our guide was getting on my nerves — he was WAY too cheesy — he did a great job of making the history interesting and encouraging us to really enjoy the details (insisting,actually). I am very thankful for that.

Taj collage

The Taj at Night

July 20, 2015

I forget where I first heard/read about seeing the Taj Mahal at night but it was something I was very excited about on the days leading up to my trip to India. Taj night viewings are only open two days before, the night of, and two days after a full moon. Timing was right for John and I to go on May 2.

It was not expensive to buy tickets to see the Taj at night so I have no complaints. We’re really glad we did it but we also kind of had to laugh about it. Literally, seeing the Taj at night is nothing more than being bused to the destination, herded like cattle through gates to the top of the stairs that lead down to the garden, the lights are turned off and there you have it. What it definitely did do is make the visit the next day that much more amazing. I would recommend the night view before going for a day visit with a guide if you get the chance.

The Taj at night 042015

Fatehpur Sikri

July 17, 2015

The last weekend that John was in India with me we headed to the Agra district. The first stop was at Fatehpur Sikri about 40 km away from Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Fatehpur Sikri is known as one of the best preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture in India.

My favorite memory from the guided tour was the description of the Pachisi Court. It was an area set up for a human board game of Parcheesi (Ludo) where people served as the playing pieces. The guide described the king overlooking the court, ordering his move, and then watching as beautiful women dressed in costume danced from space to space to complete his turn. Stop and think about that for a moment. I literally shook my head…

The description of the court and what took place in it was much more interesting than a picture would be so I don’t have one to include. Instead, the following is the Buland Darwaza entrance (“Gate of Magnificence”). We actually exited (rather than entered) here so I snapped this on our way out. (Better pictures in the previous link provided.)

Fatehpur Sikri Agra India 05022015

This is the last picture I snapped as we were leaving down a side street rather than wading back through the scads of homeless people just inside the Gate of Magnificence. They gather in that area because it is public and sheltered. The guide suggested the alternative route. He’s walking away in the crisp white suit on the right of the picture.

Donkeys carrying bricks outside Fatehpur Sikri 05022015

SO…I’m in India

April 21, 2015

Yep.  I’m in India.  Last Thursday Archie the cat left with his uncle Gizmo and my mom and dad for Missouri, and soon after John and I headed to O’Hare International to catch a flight to Delhi, India via Newark, NJ.

Why India? (Why not!) Actually I’m here on a work assignment for four months. (I’m a Communications Manager for Aon. Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that.) That said, my company flew us business class which turns out to be first class on United for these SUPER long flights (14.5 hours from NJ). I am now officially spoiled and am not certain that economy class will ever suffice again. Note: “No cow” is not recognized by the airline as an option for a dietary request–you have to go with vegetarian–BUT (mental head slap – duh!) flying to India…defaults to a no beef menu.

Uncle Gizmo

Uncle Gizmo

Archie chilling in MO 2015

Archie chilling in Missouri

I have so much to say it’s almost stifling. Fortunately the heat has not been as so far I’ve spent the majority of my time in a hotel, air-conditioned car or the office. (The 10 day forecast starting today reads: 102, 103, 104, 105, 104, 103, 104, 106, 104 and topping off at 107!) That will become very real when John and I explore around Bharatpur, Ranthambore and Jaipur for the next five days.

Ok…so backing up. The flight was easy.  I had some concerns that I would be extremely anxious to be in the air for that long but the combination of excellent service, meals, drinks, movies, a little reading and sleeping made the time pass remarkably quickly.

United first class to Delhi

Arrival at the airport and transport to the Hilton Garden Inn Gurgaon Baani Square went smoothly.  Passports and visas checked, customs, baggage claim, currency exchange…a random dog lying on the sidewalk on the way to the taxi…and then our India experience REALLY began!