September 29, 2014 |
This Valentine's Day, Jeff Ramspacher, my boyfriend of five years, wanted to give me a gift far better than jewelry or candy. Knowing that I've been an animal advocate my entire life and that elephants in particular have always had a special place in my heart, he surprised me with an adoption certificate for Lizzie, an ex-circus elephant now living at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The sanctuary is the nation's largest natural-habitat refuge for Asian and African elephants.
September 28, 2014 |
Matt Tobin wasn't invited to the NFL combine following his senior season at Iowa. He says now that he doesn't care, although he believes his professional career might have turned out differently had he been among the 2013 draft prospects to attend the Indianapolis workout. "It was fine. I heard it [stank] anyway," Tobin said earlier this week. "I feel if I went there, I probably would have gotten drafted. " The Eagles, though, signed Tobin as an undrafted rookie and he went on to make the 53-man roster last season.
September 28, 2014 |
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, is a big, small town. The type of town where everyone knows everyone - even more so among the small fraternity of hockey players from the prairie lucky enough to make it to the NHL. Journeyman forward Blair Jones is 3 years older than Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn, a bit older still than Brayden Schenn. Their paths never would have crossed in minor hockey circuits or junior hockey. But when Jones signed with the Flyers after the free-agency period opened on July 1, his phone lit up with text messages from the Saskatoon connection.
September 21, 2014 |
It all began in the early 1960s. I was in sixth grade at a junior high, President John F. Kennedy was in office, our TV was black-and-white, and there was a "party line" on our phone. The world was a big place and communication meant writing letters. I spied a teen magazine at our local drugstore and was quickly drawn to an advertisement that said "Write to us" and we will send you a "pen pal" from England. What a neat idea! So I wrote to them with my name and address and waited. A few weeks went by and I received my first letter, with a baby picture included, from an Angela Nicholson.
September 19, 2014 |
The old laundry paddle is retired, wedged beside the blackboard in our kitchen, a totem now. Its handle is sawed off to utensil-height, a hole drilled in it for hanging, its blade worn smooth as river stone. Fritz Blank, who once used it to stir his grand copper pots, bequeathed it to me - autographed, for good measure - as he was packing up his haute French classic Deux Cheminees at 12th and Locust, getting ready to decamp with his cat Bobo to Thailand. That was seven years ago. And it hasn't stirred since: It seemed unseemly to dunk the thing - so accustomed to the likes of truffled sauce Perigord - in our more prosaic chicken paprikash, fish stews, and Frog-Commissary vegetarian chili.
September 15, 2014 |
I recently spent a week in Louisville, Ky., with my sweetheart, who was there for a conference. His days were heavily scheduled and he had only one evening free, so the only time we saw each other most days was for lunch and dinner. Thanks to the Urban Bourbon Tour, we found a terrific way for both of us to enjoy our time together. We stopped at the Visitor's Center, where we got our passports for the tour and had our picture taken with the wax figure of Colonel Sanders. The passport book contains information about Louisville's bourbon-related history, and how to properly sample bourbon.
September 8, 2014 |
'We're also required to tell you that there was a bear attack at your campsite about six weeks ago. You said you're staying in Fish Creek, right?"
September 1, 2014 |
My wife and I went to Kruger National Park in June even though it was winter in South Africa. We chose that time to travel because it was the cool, dry season, with no bugs and no tall grass, which means the game viewing is better. Some people on safari do not see all of the so-called Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhino), but we saw all of them in a single day. We saw so many animals, including lions mating every 10 minutes, that we become blasé about the sight. Unfortunately, the day begins at 5:30 a.m.; after a snack of muffins, fruit, and coffee, you go on the game drive in your open Land Rover with your ranger (who has a rifle)
August 24, 2014 |
The echoes of deep history were lying in the ground in front of me. As an archaeologist digging at a 10,000-year-old settlement on the outskirts of Bylany, Czechoslovakia, I held evidence of a long-gone culture gently and lovingly in my hands. A clay pot held by some young girl, a bronze pin worn by an ancient babushka, a rusted sickle blade swung by a calloused hand eons ago, they all spoke clearly to me. I had the wonderfully fortunate and fascinating opportunity to be a time traveler and to walk with the ancients.
August 18, 2014 |
Knowing when to trust your intuition can be difficult, especially in a foreign land. It wasn't our guide who made me suspicious; it was the bystander, a short woman with a vibrant dress and bananas in her hand. Our guide had been confident during our "tour" of Arusha, Tanzania, not the least bit shady. "This way," he said. "Right through here," as he pointed to a shoddy door on the side of a nondescript building. The woman, however, was shifty, her eyes twitching, her too-still body poised, begging, "Don't go you fools, it's a trap.