[Click on photo above for a printable version]
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
[Click on photo above for a printable version]
[John Davies, Hannah Davies, Máire Davies, Marilynn Mullen]
For a variety of reasons, Sunday was an extremely hectic day for Marilynn and I. As a result, we didn’t even get out of the house until 5pm, the official start of Hannah's party. Five minutes into our journey – just as we were getting on the New Jersey Turnpike – I realized (to my horror ) that this was the end of the Christmas weekend and that millions of New Yorkers were probably trying to get back into the city! I snapped on WCBS 880AM for “traffic and weather together” and heard the unspeakable: there were 1½ hour backups at both the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and a 2 hour backup at the George Washington Bridge! We were already going to be one hour late – being three hours late was intolerable! What could we possibly do??? Luckily, I had the wisdom to marry an intelligent, resourceful woman. Marilynn suggested that we head to the closest train station in NJ and take a train into New York City. Brilliant!!! We headed to MetroPark in Woodbridge, NJ and arrived just in time to catch the 5:43pm train. Sure it was a slow NJ Transit train and, yes, it was a local, but we still got to Penn Station in NYC by 6:30pm. Having been warned by Hannah that there was no easy route to her apartment building by subway, we hurried to the nearest taxi stand only to find it mobbed. Rather than wait 20 minutes or more, we decided to view this as an exercise opportunity and walked the 2 miles to Hannah’s. And so it was that at 7:04pm Marilynn and I arrived fashionably late and mildly sweaty at Hannah's Christmas party.
Even though I was late, I was honored by being presented with the last “Christmas cracker”. For those of you on the left side of the Atlantic, Christmas crackers are a staple of Christmas festivities in the UK and Ireland. They consist of a cardboard tube (i.e., a toilet paper tube) wrapped to look like a big piece of candy. Two people pull on the ends of the cracker and it’s supposed to make a popping (or “cracking”) noise when it splits. Usually, the cracker is filled with candy or a small gift of some kind. Mine contained a prize (a small tailor’s measuring tape), a paper crown (which I wore during the party), a riddle (“What has a bed but does not sleep and a mouth but does not speak?”), and a piece of candy of some kind that flew underneath Hannah’s couch.
Despite the fact that most of the people at the party were connected with the U.N., the conversation was not dominated by politics and world events. To be sure, those topics did come up, but we also talked about sports, music, movies, books, exercise, travel, family, food, and basically everything under the sun. With so many different nationalities represented, there was never a dull moment. The food and drink was excellent and, before we knew it, it was after 10:45pm and Marilynn and I were out the door, saying goodbye to Raphael the elevator guy (who was retiring that evening!) and heading to Penn Station to catch the 11:15PM train back to MetroPark.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
- Totally blew me away; and
- Took up the rest of Christmas Day
Mary and Tom Kinslow jointly share the Most Persistant award. Their entry was emailed to the judges on December 22 with the modest title of "Victory is Ours!". They followed that up with a phone call the same day demanding to know exactly how well they had fared. When informed that they had, in fact, made a couple of unspecified errors, their Christmas cheer began to evaporate. But since it wasn't December 25 yet, the judges were forbidden to tell them the exact errors they had made. This escalated the tension and resulted in a final comment of "This puzzle is bulls**t!" followed by a click. But Mary and Tom weren't done yet. Mary followed up with a second puzzle entry on December 23 and yet one more email on December 24 entitled "We are waiting for recognition of our crossword 'mavenness'." Well, sad to say, Mary and Tom are not the Mullen Mavens. But they are damned persistant!!
The second award for Most Originality goes to Annie Mullen Patrick. Truthfully, I expected Annie to completely ignore this crossword puzzle competition. Though highly educated, Annie is not at all keen on games like crossword puzzles. As a matter of fact, her game-playing days pretty much plateaued with "Steal the Pile" back in the 60's. On top of that, Annie is unquestioningly the least technologically savvy of the entire Mullen Family, and that includes Chelsea. So there was no way I expected her to complete this puzzle, take a photo of it, and email me the photo. But Annie surprised me by coming up with a totally unexpected and original way to submit her entry. On Christmas Day -- right in the middle of the festivities -- she called me on the phone and proceeded to verbally relay every single one of her answers! I kid you not. And for the many clues for which she had no answer, Annie tried her best to wheedle and/or extort the answers out of me. After about 40 minutes of this browbeating, I finally convinced her to wish me a Merry Christmas and hang up the phone.
Inexplicably, the actual winner of the coveted Mullen Maven award goes to Beth Anne Kafasis, a co-worker of Marilynn's at the Cranbury Library. Somehow, Beth Anne was able to figure out the answers to uniquely Mullen clues like "Dave's Employer" (CACI) and "Bad magazine to give Annie" (TVGUIDE). Ironically, the only answer that Beth Anne got wrong (indeed, everyone got this answer wrong), was to the clue "CO2 fighter". The answer was, of course PRIUS, the car I've been driving since 2006! Almost everyone guessed TREES which, of course, is wrong since the clue is singular ("fighter") not plural ("fighters"). The great irony lies in the fact that Beth Anne drives a Prius herself!
Great job Beth Anne! Thanks to all of you for playing, even if you just played at home and never emailed, texted, or telephoned your answers to me. Merry Christmas and have a great 2010!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
From left to right: John Latino ('77), Mike Kelley ('76), John O'Grady ('76), Tasos Papagiannopoulos (friend of John O'Grady), and Mike Nestor ('77). Rich Kokel ('77) was also at the game but, as usual, was running late and missed the photo-op.
As always, it was excellent getting together with the boys. Sadly, the Jets went down to a crushing last-second defeat at the hands of the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Tonight is not the night for hordes of Chaos, the rat-creatures of Skaven, the race of Elves, or the Empire of Bretonnia. No, tonight belongs to the Legions of the Undead: Nagash, his Skeleton Army, the Screaming Skull Catapult, and the Giant Spider spreading fear and terror. There's no way to beat them. The best you can hope to do is run away. Check it out:
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Elinore Davies and Rory Macqueen were in the States from London this week visiting with Eli's sister, Hannah. On Wednesday evening, though, they took a break from the glitter of New York City to check out the slightly quieter and much more bucolic setting of Cranbury, NJ. Marilynn and I decided to mark their visit by combining two quintessentially American holidays -- Halloween and Thanksgiving -- into one. While Marilynn prepared a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, I introduced Eli and Rory to the art of jack-o-lantern carving. The photo above shows them getting acquainted with the tools of the trade. The photo below shows our finished products.
Rory is convinced that his pumpkin carving job is the best of the three. To see if he's right, though, send me an email (email@example.com) with your vote as to which jack-o-lantern is the best: the skull, the cat, or the ghost. And a Happy Halloween to everyone!!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
- Have an MRI (damn! ... I'll really miss that terrifying claustrophobic feeling!)
- Play sports like football, hockey, boxing, judo, karate, rugby, Hurling, Australian Rules Football ... I think you get the idea.
- Use a gas-powered chain saw, though an electric one is fine.
- Walk through an airport security system. It won't bother me, but the pacemaker will definitely sound an alarm, so why waste anyone's time?
- Run a 4-minute mile (but I'll start with an 8-minute mile).
- Spinning. If you don't know what that is, click here I teach it at BMS, so it was a relief to know that I'd be able to continue.
- Basketball! Yes, I can continue to play basketball! Of course, my knees, calves, ankles and back may have to be consulted for a second opinion. Still, it's heartening to know that I can still give it a try again if I so desire (and I do!)
- Use microwaves, wireless phones, computers, appliances, electric blankets, power tools, lawn mowers, and (sad to say) vacuum cleaners.
- Have an X-ray, a CAT scan, or an ultrasound.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
John & Máire Davis (fourth cousin!) celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary on October 4th with a family gathering in London. In "Máire's words, "We had a lovely weekend - it was really perfect. We had been planning to go away somewhere exotic, and then we thought - why do that? Why not just go to our little place in London and see the family, so we did - also lots of theatre and music and walking about and a lovely meal in Dympna's son-in-law's family restaurant, the Poule au Pot, in Pimlico - much recommended."
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Here's a short iPhone video of WaterFire in Providence, RI, on September 19, 2009. The video is a little bit dark but, hey, it was at 10 o'clock at night! I expected a huge crowd (because my theory is that if I do something then most likely there are hundreds of thousands of people who want to do the same thing), but the crowd was manageable. Marilynn, Sara and I were actually able to find places to sit on the banks of the river. We strolled around for about an hour or so, had a beer (well, I had a beer), shared a DoughBoy (i.e., a funnel cake), and took in this award-winning environmental art sculpture. Lots of fun ...
Saturday, September 19, 2009
What a great day for a bike!!! Sara, Marilynn and I went for a 42 mile bike ride today to celebrate Sara's "Birthday Month" (she turns the big "3-0" on September 27th!!). There was hardly a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the low to mid-70's. There was some kind of surfing seminar going on at Narragansett Bay so, as you can see by the photo, there were plenty of people at the shore today enjoying the water. After a shower and Happy Hour at Sara's, we're heading out to a Birthday Month dinner and then on to WaterFire. What, you've never heard of the world-famous Waterfire? Check it out here: http://www.waterfire.org/
I'll try to add a photo of the event later on tonight.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Mike and Sarah McGarvey’s wedding was held at Traditions at the Links in East Syracuse, NY, at 5:30pm on August 28, 2009. Most of the out-of-town guests stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in East Syracuse with complimentary limousine service between the two locations provided by Mike and Sarah. While an outdoor wedding overlooking a small pond had been planned, the threat of rain caused the wedding ceremony to be moved indoors. But that did not put a damper on the enthusiasm of the wedding party or any of the guests.
After the ceremony itself and the obligatory wedding photos, Kevin McGarvey, father of the groom and the Best Man, got things started off with a beautiful and heartfelt toast to the bride and groom. Click here to see a video of the toast.
Kevin’s daughter, Katie (McGarvey) Ferguson – and also the Matron of Honor – had the unenviable task of following Kevin with her toast to the bride and groom. Katie proved herself equal to the task, though, delivering a beautiful toast to Mike and Sarah. Click here to see a video of Katie’s toast.
All of the food and drink provided by the facility was excellent. The DJ kept the crowd on the dance floor with a good mix of music. The most memorable section of music, in this reporter’s opinion, was an extended medley of Irish music, highlighted by a song called “Golden Keyboard” by The Bofield Ceili Band, a group that played at the Mullen Family Reunion in Ballina, Ireland in 2008. While Mike and Sarah were unable to attend that reunion, playing this song at their wedding reception brought the two events together.
While the wedding reception formally ended at around 11pm, the party certainly did not. A large contingent headed over to the bar at the Hilton Garden Inn and picked up where they left off. The bar was packed! Mike and Sarah joined the party after an hour or so to a loud ovation. The party finally ended at approximately 2:30am with 5 people left standing: the Mullen Brothers (Paul, Kevin & Mike) and the bride and groom! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bride and groom close out a wedding party! Great job Sarah and Mike!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
One last set of relatives to visit with before we collapsed at our hotel for the night! On the way back from visiting Madge, Marilynn and I stopped at Liverpool Street and met up with Anne Lillis and her daughters Ashling and Cliona. I had a copy of the huge Family Tree with me, so we rolled it out onto the bar table and traced out our family relationship. After proving to Ashling that we were, indeed, 3rd cousins, I made her figure out for herself what her relationship was to Avril Gilmartin. She correctly determined that they were 2nd cousins!
I told Cliona that she almost certainly won the award for being the most pregnant woman at a London bar at 11pm. She looked about 8.99 months pregnant! The baby is officially due in 5 weeks, I think. I made her promise to send me an update to the Family Tree after the big event.
It's a pretty poor photo, but it's the best the iPhone could do with the dim light of the bar. Left to Right: me, Anne, Ashling, Cliona
A great shot of Madge discussing her early life in Ballina and her later career as a History teacher. Vascular dementia has robbed Madge of some of her mental capabilities, but she showed sparks of her brilliance today during our visit. I understand that she recorded an oral history of the Family a number of years ago. I'll do my best to get a copy and share it with the entire Family.
I finally got the opportunity to meet Madge Messenger in the flesh! That's her daughter, Sheila (Messenger) Dore holding her hand. As I told Madge today, it's because of her dedication to the family and her amazing genealogical work on the Family Tree that last year's Family Reunion in Ireland happened. Thank you for everything, Madge!!!
We ate breakfast at this place almost every single day that we were in London. The food was good, the prices were reasonable, it was 200 yards from our hotel and it had free Wi-Fi!! That's what I call a good dog deal!!!!
Unbelievably, we didn't go inside the Tower of London during our entire 9 day stay in England. In our defense, though, we did "The Tower" the first time we visited London back in 1986. Also, we were running massively short of time. Finally, (and I really believe this), walking around the outside of the Tower of London is more impressive than touring the rooms and structures within it.