Category Archives: Travel

On the Road Again

I’m driving back to Vermont today. This trip has not been as bad as I’d feared it could have been. The workshop was actually very interesting, and I met some very nice people. The hotel wasn’t great. For a Hilton, it was badly lacking with elevators that didn’t always work and terrible customer service. However, I did have a few good meals, and one truly awful one.

I’ll be glad to be back home with Isabella. I miss her when I’m gone, and I know she misses me. I’m not looking forward to this drive, but I’ve got some audiobooks to listen to, and if I time things just right, maybe the traffic won’t be too bad.

And I also want to wish my friend Susan a very happy birthday. 🎂

Traveling Monday

I have some work to do this morning and a few last-minute things to get done before I leave, but I’ll be heading down to Connecticut for work today. I am attending a workshop that’s part of a certification I have at work. I have to have a certain number of continuing education hours by the end of the year to renew my certification. So, I am off to Connecticut for a day and a half of workshops I am not particularly looking forward to attending. I’m also not looking forward to the over four-hour drive down there. I don’t mind driving, but when it’s over 2.5-3 hours, I’m not much of a fan. I can’t leave until noon because, per university policy, I have to rent a car to travel on museum business, and I can’t pick up the car until noon. While the drive is just over four hours, it will take longer since I cannot sit for four hours without getting up and walking around. I will make short stops about every hour or so. If I don’t, I’ll be too stiff to walk when I finally get there. I’ve been having some back pains, too, so it’s even more of an incentive to stop and move around along the way.

I’ll be glad when I am back home on Thursday. Isabella will be taken care of by a neighbor while I am gone. He will mostly just come down and check on her. He will feed her, but she’s so picky that she won’t eat her wet food unless it’s me feeding her as soon as I get up in the morning. I’m not sure why, but that’s the way she is. She’ll look at it and then walk away. She has her dry food, though, and plenty of water. If she wants to be finicky, then that’s on her. I try to make sure her routine isn’t interrupted too much. I wish I could just take her with me, but she makes a terrible traveling companion. The times I’ve had her in a car, she has meowed and cried the whole way. She’s not a loud cat most of the time but put her in a car, and you’d think I was murdering her.

I hope everyone has a good start to their week!

The Gondolier

The Gondolier
by Ruby Archer

Hark to the gondolier singing,
Dreamily, dreamily singing,
Ever guiding our languid gondola
Out on the fair lagoon.

Lo, how the pigeons are winging,
Airily, airily winging,
Blending coos in our idle revery
Out on the fair lagoon.

Now is the gondolier calling,
Warningly, warningly calling;
Hark—the answer—from turning shadowy,
Where the dark waters wind.

Now we emerge in a glory,
Radiant, radiant glory;
Campanile and dome rise magical
Out of the Grand Canal.

Every wall has a story,
Passionate, passionate story,—
O’er the song of the gondolier hovering,
Out on the Grand Canal.

Gardens above us are leaning,
Drowsily, drowsily leaning;
Never water and sky so heavenly,
Sung by a gondolier.

Ever and aye in our dreaming,
Far-away, far-away dreaming,
We’ll remember this golden Italy,
Sung by a gondolier.

About 15 years ago, I was doing research in Italy for my dissertation. I was able to spend a month traveling Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice), and it was a trip I will never forget for many reasons. It was the first time I had ever traveled on my own. I remember the beauty and food of Rome and the amazing Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. I wondered through the Cimitero Acattolico (Non-Catholic Cemetery) of Rome, often referred to as the Cimitero dei protestanti (Protestant Cemetery) looking at the famous graves of Americans who had traveled to Italy in the nineteenth century. 

In Florence, I remember the festive atmosphere of the Piazza della Repubblica, the gold merchants on the Ponte Vecchio, the splendor of the Duomo, and the wonders of the storied museums such as the Uffizi Gallery with Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera and The Birth of Venus and the Accademia with Michelangelo’s David. I walked the streets where American artists had walked more than a century before. I visited the English Cemetery and made friends with the strange but infinitely interesting custodian of the cemetery, the medieval scholar Julia Bolton Holloway, formerly a nun of the Anglican order Community of the Holy Family and scholar of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who is buried in the cemetery.

Then I went to Venice, which was cold and damp, and I caught a terrible cold. The city, however, is magical. The canals and the grand palazzos that line it are breathtaking. The gaudy but fascinating Basilica di San Marco and the pink and seemingly austere Doge’s Palace with the Scala d’Oro, the Golden Staircase, and the Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs. I remember taking a vaporetto to the Lido with a group of nuns sitting in front of me laughing and seeming to have the greatest time as they were sprayed by the waters of the Lagoon while we bounced over the waves.

These were all great memories, but what will always warm my heart is the thought of seeing the gondolieri in their blue or red striped tops, red neckerchiefs, wide-brimmed straw hats, and dark pants. In movies you often see an older man guiding the gondolas down the canal as lovers cuddle in the traditional, flat-bottomed rowing boat holding their rowing oar to guide the gondola down the canals. I did not see many old men as gondolieri, but mostly beautiful young men like those in the picture above or the one below who I became enamored with and had to take his picture.

About the Poet

Ruby Archer (Ruby Archer Doud or Ruby Archer Gray) was born in Kansas City, Missouri on January 28, 1873, and died in Los Angeles on January 23, 1961. She was an American poet, educated at Kansas City High School and by private tutors. She was married to Dr. Frank Newland Doud on March 27, 1910, and later to Benjamin Franklin Gray. She contributed poems, translations from French and German dramas and lyrics, and prose articles on art, architecture, music, Biblical literature, philosophy, etc. to papers and magazines.

Back at Home

I’m back at home with Isabella. I got back around 12:30 am, got settled in, spent a little time with Isabella, and went to bed.

Homeward Bound 🤞

My flight out of Montgomery is supposed to leave around 2:30. If all goes well, I should land in Burlington by 11 pm, which means I probably won’t get home until well after midnight. I have no doubt that I will be exhausted by the time I get home, but I will ge glad to get to see Isabella in the flesh. I have a camera set up so I can check in on her, but she doesn’t know that. I don’t try to speak to her through the camera, even though I could. The last time I tried that, it upset her and me because I could hear her crying trying to find me.

I’m ready to be out of Alabama and back in Vermont. This trip, more than any before has cemented in me that Vermont is home. Alabama no longer is, and I am perfectly fine with that. I’m just ready to be home.


I made it down here. God help me! I’m trying not to let them drive me crazy. As soon as we got to my parents’ house, I went straight to bed, although apparently they don’t understand that somebody is trying to sleep. They were watching tv and talking away. However, I was just too tired to let it keep me awake.

The orthopedist’s office finally called about my hand, but not until I was somewhere in the air between Burlington and Washington, DC. I had about a two hour layover, so I was able to call them back. I ended up playing phone tag with them until I was finally able to talk to someone. I have an appointment on the day after I get back to Vermont.

Back in a Week

I’m flying down to Alabama today. I have limited internet access at my parents house, and my cellphone barely works, if it works at all. They live too far from civilization for my taste. However, that’s where I’ll be until next Thursday (12/29). I have scheduled “Pics of the Day” through Christmas, but as for daily posts, they may be a bit sporadic, if I can post at all. I will try to post some while I’m gone, but if I don’t, know that I’m okay. I may have to get on here just to rant bit or tell something funny that happened. Right now, I’m looking forward to one thing: eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant tonight.


Going Home Again

In about two weeks, I will be heading to Alabama for Christmas. I have not been back since before the pandemic. I knew too many people who had gotten COVID, even if vaccinated, because of the vast number of people who refused to get vaccinated. My sister’s family refused to get vaccinated until my brother-in-law’s employer mandated it, and there would have been no way to avoid them if I had come home for any of those other Christmases. I was safe in Vermont, and I planned to stay that way. My mother, though, insisted that I come home this year, and since she was paying for the plane ticket (though I wish I could have gotten her to spring for First Class instead of Coach—she didn’t realize that I opted for Main Cabin Plus or whatever they call it), I agreed. I could not have afforded to fly home this year by myself. The ticket was nearly $1000! I have flown to Europe cheaper. Anyway, I am getting off-topic.

I have very low expectations for going home. Yes, they will be glad to see me, but I know my father will be an argumentative asshole—he always is, and my mother will make snide nasty comments—she always does. My sister and brother-in-law will be their usual redneck, annoying selves. My niece and nephew will be excited to see me as well as some other family members. It’s what I expect. My mother will try to control everything I do and not want me to be out of her sight. Sadly, she will have some control over me because I will be staying with them, I can’t afford a hotel room for a week, nor can I afford a rental car for the whole time. So, anything I do will depend on borrowing her car.

However, I have already told her I will not be under her thumb the whole time. I have a good friend with whom I plan to have lunch while I am home, and if he can still make it, she’ll have to live with it. She’s not happy about it, but I’ve already told her that she lets me go for a few hours to have lunch with a friend, or I am just not going home. For now, she seems to have relented. If she brings this up again and tries to prevent me, I will flat out tell her, “You either let me do this or this is it—period. Once you take me to the airport, don’t call me, and don’t expect to see me again. We will be done for good!”

My parents controlled my life for too long. I let much of my life pass me by trying to get their love and acceptance. I DO NOT NEED IT ANYMORE! They can love me the way I am and accept me for who I am, or we don’t have to deal with each other anymore. I’ve had all I can take. My mental health has been much better in the three years since I’ve been away from Alabama, and I have no plans ever to go back to the way it was. I have only low expectations for going home. I know it will be awful and tiring and emotionally draining, but I will give them a chance to act like human beings for once. It’s the last chance I will give them. If there are arguments or hatefulness, then I don’t need it. I’ll get on that plan on December 29 and not look back.

Ready To Be Home

This has been a long week, and I am ready to go home. I want to see Isabella. I hate having to leave her. I’m hoping I’ll get home around 5 or 6 pm tonight. I’d like to be home earlier, and if I had come on my own, I would be. However, I have to stay with my colleagues for the final lunch which won’t be over until at least 2 pm. Luckily, the car should be packed and ready to go as soon as everything ends.

I usually like going to conferences, even though they are often boring, but usually, I get to do something fun in the city where the conference is held. This time though, I was not here with fun people, and I kept getting pulled in different directions and had little time on my own. The good thing was that I was able to run into a friend of mine that I haven’t seen since before the pandemic. I used to see her regularly at LGBTQ+ events in Burlington, but neither of us have been going to many of those events, not to mention that there haven’t been a whole lot of them to got to. She was mostly busy at the conference, so I only got to see her for a short time, but it was really nice to see her.

There won’t be a “Food Report #3” today, because I didn’t eat anything worth mentioning.

Long Day

Yesterday was a long, boring day. I went to bed early last night because I was just tired.

Food Report #2

For dinner last night, a coworker and I went to a Mediterranean restaurant called Nadim’s. It was actually pretty good. We started out with appetizers. I had stuffed grape leaves with tzatziki that were delicious, though my coworker didn’t like them; she got something on the menu called “Hummachos.” They were surprisingly delicious. It sounds odd, but they were hummus, ground meat, onions, jalapeños, tomatoes, and feta cheese served over homemade pita chips. For our entrees, I had chicken shish kebabs with rice pilaf, and she had lamb shish kebabs with mashed potatoes. I wouldn’t mind eating here again.