Sunday, December 6, 2009

Comments on Comfort Inns and Cyns

I'm not sure when Nick and I  first started staying at the Comfort Inns - maybe when we went to Afroz's wedding which I think was near Chicago.   Or maybe the ever resourceful Nick found them some other way.

In any case, we like them.  Prices are reasonable, breakfast is included.  If you have time and don't mind the calories, you can even make a Belgium waffle!   My only complaint is the "cheerios" are the kind with sugar and the bran flakes have raisins in them.   But that's minor. 

In general, they have nice, comfortable, decent sized rooms.  They're part of one of the frequent programs.  Twice for Thanksgiving, we stayed there in Manhattan.  One year, we got a free night and Nick picked the day before Thanksgiving (cause it was the most expensive.)  But we came in the day before and stayed a few more days - we ended up with three reservations.  Didn't think much of it until we were locked out of the room on Wed morning.  Disconnect in the computer system.   Same thing happened the next day but we were expecting it.  

Tangent - that was a nice time!  We went for three years to see Dad, post stroke.  We walked out the front door and turned left, went half way up the block and watched the upper 1/3 of the Macy's parade go by.   Then we bopped down the block the other way and got a slice of Nick's pizza [not my Nick, the pizza place Nick] which tided us over until we got to Caren's.  She always has a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner but served ater than we'd like.  Walking from the Comfort Inn through Central Park to her place was wonderful.  The weather was gorgeous, people were friendly, fall foliage.  I have pictures - on this very computer.

Now, some of you know that real estate is tight in Manhattan.  Our first Comfort Inn room had the feature that you could get into the closet from the bed.  You couldn't have the bathroom and closet doors open at the same time but hey - close to Central Park, decent price [tangent to tangent - one year we stayed at the Hudson, a tony place near Columbus Circle - quite the adventure for us not kids.]

What's this all got to do with the current Southern Cal trip?  We stayed in the Comfort Suites in Stephenson Ranch, which we think is part of Santa Clarita.  I'm quite confused about the relationship among Stephenson, Santa Clarita and Valencia.   Our Comfort Inn was listed as on The Old Road which is sort of a frontage road for "the" 5 [as they say down here.]  Actually it was on Marriott Way, but I get why they wouldn't want to say so.   It's also near Pico Cyn Road.  We had three days of Something Cyn Road here and there.  Fortunately, Nick knew, it's shorthand for Canyon.  I, of course, love saying Agua Dulce sin road.   That's the exit for Vasquez Rocks County Park.

Back to the Comfort .  One goes up the elevator and comes out into a room of sorts that has the elevator, the ice machine and the vending machines.   It was bigger than that guest room in Manhattan!!!   Oh, and the vending machine had three different burritos, two types of ice cream bars and a pizza.  We had both a fridge and a microwave in our suite.  Gotta love So Cal!

Now we're in the Quality Inn & Suites, Anaheim.  We're on a free night tonight - love those points!  But two reservations again - see it all ties together.  You thought I was just randomly rambling.  Andre at the front desk assured us that we would not be locked out while at Disneyland.   He also said it was a 10-15 min walk to the Disneyland entrace.   Took us longer, even with all my stops.  Tomorrow, we head there directly, in the rain.

More to come, including Vasquez Rocks and Feline Conservation Center.  But park closes at 6pm so we have to get up and go early.  Later!

© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Friday, December 4, 2009

On the Road Again

Or, as they say, deja vu all over again.

This morning, after each of us took care of things that had to be done and the cats frolicked on the suitcase, Nick and I packed up the Prius (the red one this time) and headed on down Highway 101.   Unlike the October trip with Jacey, the weather was fabulous.  Nick and I didn't talk as much as Jacey and I did but I only see her once a year.  But his car has a six CD player and we listened to Heart, Creedence and Bob Seger.

Of course we stopped in Gilroy for the Jelly Belly factory but this time no Belly Flops were purchased.   I had remembered that I'd not packed a baseball cap, just in case there's sun.  Got a funky gold and black one at the Fox outlet store for $7.   I know nothing about them except they have a cool logo.  I'm calling it my glitzy trucker hat.  Photos will appear somewhere.

Knowing our dinner plans, Nick had packed lunch..  Nick had been that way while I was at Nikon school and knew about the Pacheco State park.  We had our picnic there.  We even paid the self-serve parking fee because we know how much the park system is hurting.   It was lovely, the two of us and a lot of birds.  The latrines are actually quite decent and there was water to wash hands.

We're down here in Santa Clarita so Nick can enter the USOF Trail Orienteering Championships tomorrow.  Sunday is a regular meet.  Trail O is very cool.  It's more thinking and less physical.  That's because it's designed for those who cannot go off trail and there is a paralympic  class.  Able bodied orienteers love it because it tests their map reading skills.  I've always hoped that people with mobility issues would learn about it and get more excited.  When I was working with some groups with disabilities, I did try to publicize it.  But, as usual, I digress.  On Sunday there's a standard meet.   Then we move down to Anaheim for the obvious reason.  And that and what I hope to write about tomorrow are how Nick lured me into coming along.

Vegetarians, dieters and those who are not serious carnivoires should move along to the next paragraph.   One of the great things of traveling with Nick is he finds stuff.  So, he found the Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill and once we were settled in at the hotel, off we went.  Yummm.  We tried not to get too much food, explained to waitress Rachel that we wanted the beef ribs and the chicken and ended up splitting a combo meal.  Yumm.  The ribs were great, the chicken was almost as good, we ate too much and each had a glass of good wine.  Nick had Jacob's Creek Shiraz from Austrailia and, of course, I had Zinfandel, Opolo Vineyards, Paso Robles.

The plan now is to go to sleep early!!  Isn't that amazing?  Like 11:30 so we can pop up early and get breakfast and go to Vasquez Rocks.  I've got a new membory card for my camera, tested it out, battery charged and I know how to set the lighting for cloudy and how to over- or under-expose.  I'm ready!!


© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thoughts on ... Forty Years

I know some of you are saying, which forty years? Some of you are thinking, I’m not even forty years old, I can’t relate. But some of you are doing the math and, knowing me, realize this column’s clock is starting to tick with 1969.

This summer was full of events that reminded me of 1969. My husband and I attended back-to-back college fortieth reunions at the beginning of the summer. At the end we saw Ang Lee’s film Taking Woodstock. In between, the fortieth anniversary of NASA’s lunar landing took place, as well as the passing of two men I admired, Walter Cronkite and Ted Kennedy.

Indeed, I did graduate from Brandeis University, in mathematics, forty years ago. That summer, I worked for NASA at their Electronics Research Center (ERC) in Cambridge, MA, doing computer modeling of semi-conductor diodes. Not for the last time, I had a job where I didn’t quite know what I was doing, but I had a fabulous boss who did. It was a great summer. Of course, all the programming was in Fortran and on punch cards. In my programming class, I had to punch them myself - manually, no backspacing or cursors to fix errors - you redid the whole card if you made a mistake. At ERC, there was somebody, no doubt a lowly paid woman, who typed them for you overnight. And there were technicians, all male, who ran them through the big machine. That meant that every iteration of code took a day. Imagine my joy, when many years later, I programmed on an early personal computer (neither IBM nor Microsoft) in Basic and could type code and then just run it!

My then boyfriend, now husband, and I did a lot of fun things that summer - going to the zoo and movies and Red Sox games. But you know, we didn’t go to Woodstock. I don’t even remember hearing about it until many years later. After we watched the movie, we had a good long chat about would we have gone had we known? Would we have coped with the conditions? At this point in life, it holds no appeal. But for thirty of the forty years between, we did a lot of camping, some primitive, some backpacking, with our Girl Scout troop. I think the difference in my mind is being prepared.

At the end of that summer, we headed off to be graduate students, also in math, at Stanford. Picture this if you can, two twenty-one year olds at the airport, boarding their first coast-to-coast flight, no electronics to turn on or off! The image I carry to this day is of our mothers, standing together at the gate, waving goodbye with tears in their eyes. While I completely appreciate the security we have at airports today and tolerate the inconvenience, what I totally miss is the humanity of being able to see people on and off the planes.

It was the two deaths this summer that reminded me, again, of what else we as a culture are losing. Walter Cronkite was considered the most trusted man in America. When he delivered the news, everyone believed him. He was not worried about ratings or image on the screen. He was honest and he was real and he had the time to get the full story out. Today we have news everywhere, on television, in print and on the internet. Almost everything has a spin. You know I believe in multiple perspectives but I hate having to figure out someone’s agenda before I can evaluate what’s being said.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I always knew of the Kennedy family. By the time Ted came of age, the family was one of privilege and influence. He had some rocky starts and dealt with family tragedy. I don’t know if he could have chosen a different path within that family. What I do know is he trod that path well. He understood the need for finding middle ground, for avoiding polarization. Today, politics and thus government seems to be more about fighting not the good fight but the opposition; winning has taken over from finding win-win solutions.

Both men had strength of character and the courage of their convictions. They grew up in somewhat different time from when I did and an extremely different time from where we are now. But I believe they set examples from which we can still all learn. There are times when we have to do what’s best for ourselves but there are times when we really have to look at the big picture. This is what I’ve been trying to do for the past forty years. I hope that I’ve helped you do the same through these columns. Together we can make significant, positive change over the next forty years.
© 2009 Esther A. Heller
All rights reserved.
Contact the author prior to reproduction.

First published in Connections, Oct 2009
newsletter of the Santa Clara Valley Section of the Society of Women Engineers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rainy Road trip

(note: to my non-travel log friends, I'm now doing all my blogging, reporting, whatevering, here. This may or may not be your thing. eah)

Here I sit in the Westin Long Beach. I'm waiting for Sue, my partner-in-crime in things SWE Girl Scouts to come over so we can work on our possible Webinar. For those of my followers who don't know - a webinar is a seminar conducted by telephone and internet. Nowadays, everyone mutes their phones and so you can't see faces or now, hear chuckles at your possibly bad one-liners. It's worse than talking to yourself.

Yesterday, my friend Jacey and I drove the Prius 400 miles to Long Beach. We started out in rain which stayed with us the whole time on 101. California highways at the first rain are dreadful. The roads are slick from all the oil that's built up over the past several months. Everyone's forgotten how to drive in weather that's well, weather. The big ole trucks are kicking up lots of water. When we pulled off in Gilroy, I finally realized it wasn't pouring, it was all the kicked up water making me think that.

At Gilroy, we started cutting over to Hwy 5 which runs fast up and down the state. We stopped at the factory outlets because that's where the Jelly Belly outlet store is. Worth it because you can get any variety they make by the bag, $9/lb (much better than at, say, Diddams) AND you can buy Belly Flops. Those are the QA rejects. Taste the same, look terrible. It used to be you could buy one, get one for a nickel. Now, it's buy 3 get 2 free. Yes, we did. See, we're in Long Beach for the Society of Women Engineers conference and today, we have committee meetings. And due to cost cuttings, there's not food at meetings and sugar is always good for the sleep-deprived, right? [Hey, maybe I'll but that on my Estherisms, on my website.]

We started off an Hwy 152 and found ourselves close enough to Casa de Fruita to stop for lunch. I'm not sure what I thought it was like but it wasn't. The part we sat in was in decor more like Johnny Rocket than anything faintly spanish looking. But the Kobe beef burgers were great.

We made our way without much adventure to 5. 152 goes through some nice northern california hillsides dotted with oak trees. So it was quite pretty.

Hwy 5 started out ok - rain but reasonable, fewer truck, views of the Aquiduct. Do you know that there are only 2 or 3 things on earth visible from space? The great wall of China and the California aquiduct are two.

We drove buy a lot of signs saying "Congress created dust bowls" in areas where indeed everything was quite dried up. Not sure what produced this, need to google it some time.
My poor Prius had been getting about 44 mpg all summer, but on this trip, more like 34. So we had to fill up earlier. Part of it was the speed but more was the extra load. It's usually just me and some stuff. We had three suitcases, two carry ons, 6 lbs of Jelly Bellys/Flops and two huge boxes of supplies for Engineering Your Future, the GS Getaway.

Switched over drivers at that point. I got the rain, Jacey got the wind. There were tumbleweeds crossing the freeway. Now tell me, tumbleweeds in central California?? I've done this route before. I'm fairly certain that I've only ever seen tumbleweeds in either Texas or Wyoming. At some point we saw a small herd of donkeys. That was mildly exciting. I got some knitting done but mostly ate some of my Tutti Fruiti Jelly Bellys.

And then there was the dust. Guess the signs were right. It was bad. We missed the spot in Gorman (I'm fond of Gorman, cause my nephew's a Gorman, Hi J!) where we planned to switch off. So Jacey got to navigate the LA/Long Beach traffic while I navigated via the maps. We used the diamond (commuter, carpool) lane. We were on hwy 405 by that point. These are limited access lanes - marked by solid vs dashed lines. Much nicer than anyone can jump in or out at any point and well-marked as to upcoming exits.

After that, totally uneventful. Got settled in to our hotel and went off to register at the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference at Long Beach Convention center. Went off with Kimberly, for dinner at "Islands, fine burgers & drinks". I discovered that Mai Tais and Chinese Chicken salad work pretty well together. It was nice because I've been Jacey's mentor and Jacey's been Kimberly's mentor. Yes, that makes me Kimberley's grandmentor. Isn't that fun!

Today I've got meetings most of the day and it's raining. Will post when I can.


© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Interlude

I keep trying to find time to post. I'm heading out next week to Long Beach for the SWE annual conference. I'm driving down with my friend Jacey who's flying in from Europe the day before.

Today, I had my purple touched up by the one and only Cambria! While I was under the heater, I had a chat with the 9year old son of another stylist. He's got the best long range plan that I've ever heard. Are you ready for this?

First, he plans to go to Stanford to major in astronautics. Then he's putting in the over one thousand hours that he calculated it takes to complete astronaut training. Then he's going to law school and then he's going to join NASA. I asked why law school? "So I can become president!" Me, "why do you want to be president?" He, "That's a good question." I hope I see him again when he comes up with the answer. [And yes Alan, his mom did take him to NASA last night.]

He also wants to learn Russian - he speaks English (quite well!), Spanish, a bit of Chinese and a bit of something else (I've forgotten what, sorry.) He needs to know Russian because their putting up a new Mir space station.

He's "taught" himself to fly via simulators and having a pilot show him all the controls. I managed to impress him by a) knowing that Space Camp is in Huntsville, Alabama and b) having flown a small plane for 10 min, long ago. [Yes, it's true - I did left right, front/back, my friend, the pilot did up/down - fun and scary. He also practiced stalling/drops. yikes!]

After he does all of the above, he plans to design a cruise ship. He already "has" his own airline "Jet Blue Legal". We had some money discussion. He had workarounds for my concerns about expenses. I suggested get an MBA into the plan. We also discussed the feasibility of a space cruise ship. I decided not to talk to him about Doctor Who.

I think this boy mostly Latino but part Chinese - based on appearance and the languages.

He was so bright, articulate, thoughtful - there is most definitely hope for our collective future.


© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rosh Hashanah Drash

A drash is a commentary given during a Jewish service. It is usually a commentary on the Torah portion. In Keddem Congregation, the Erev Rosh Hashanah drash is given by the president. So it's a combination of address to the congregation and a commentary. Mine is now posted on the
Keddem website.

It's not precisely what I said because I have a tendency to amplify on the spot.

© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on ... the Firing of Volunteers

I've been fired three times in my life. Two were about 30 years ago, one was this week.

Way back when I was young and didn't know as much about diverse communication styles as I do now, Nick and I ran camporees (many troops go camping together, workshops are held) in our Girl Scout service unit. After one, a staff person, wise, very wise, called me to have lunch. She told me that she hated doing this but there had been complaints that I "yelled at the girls." Well, I did loudly make some of them stop running in camp [a well established rule -no running, too dangerous]. It was a clash of my direct, high interrupt communication style with a very different style.

So, the team didn't want me in charge any more. BUT she said, we want you to stay involved because you and Nick are the only ones who "cross the freeway." The freeway is highway 101 at the bottom of San Mateo county. Most of our service unit lives on the west, primarily affluent, white side. The others lived on the east, mixed ethnicities, lower socio-economic, side. And indeed, we did go over an help the leaders there and championed them on our side.

Digression(feel free to skip) because I just remembered it. Once Nick & I collectively convinced the entire team that if they wanted to really be inclusive, they should hold Panorama (everyone share activities they've been doing) Day at the then new school in East Palo Alto. The week of the event, the newspapers blasted an article about how EPA had the highest per capita murder rate. Panic on the east side. I give major kudos to the troops leaders and parents who didn't pull out. Nick arranged for the police to drive by periodically. Everyone who attended had a fabulous time. As my sister Caren points out - 2am is the major crime time; certainly not 9-noon on a Saturday. Digression over.

My point above is, there are classy ways to remove a volunteer from a position. I was angry and hurt, but she kept me as an active volunteer.

I was laid off of my first engineering job, two weeks before I was planning to quit. That was actually quite sweet, so it doesn't count.

Now on to now. Back in 2000 I was recruited by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SWE and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). We knew that there were many places where SWE women were working with girls in Girl Scouting. But there was no formal relationship. In June 2001, the MoU was signed.

Then, I was tasked with making things happen. I found a great co-chair, Sue Anderson. She and I became close friends as we gathered other SWE members who were also Girl Scouts and were holding workshops and teaching girls about engineering.

The relationships built - within SWE and between the two organizations. We developed the Girl Scout Getaway, Engineering Your Future, held at SWE annual conferences. We've had over 60 girls attend through the years, learning about engineering and SWE, making friends, building self-esteem.

As time went on, I thought about successors and knew I couldn't do this forever. This week, I was asked to step aside. Well, so actually, a discussion happened. I thought I agreed to mentor new chair and co-chair with transition in about 6 months. Turns out I didn't get it, transition is happening now. When I realized this, I felt a lot of negative feelings. I felt I was misled but in retrospect, I think it was communication styles differences, that direct vs indirect styles. So then I felt stupid, because I know about these differences. But mostly, I felt hurt, angry and seriously fired. I wanted to walk away from the committee, even from SWE.

See, for me it's all about the relationships. And in Girl Scouting - where we're helping girls become leaders of courage, confidence and character, it's about relationships. But for many in SWE, it's more about being professional like in the workplace. Is it the engineering side? Is it the need to succeed in a still male-dominated field? I think that's a big part of it.

But, I'm in mourning - I've had my "baby" taken away. I built that committee on relationships, got things done on relationships. Heck, I'm now friends with the woman who makes our SWE Girl Scout event patch whom I've never met in person. True, I've been asked to stay in the group and mentor and advise. I won't share my first thoughts on that one but they weren't good. I've had a good long talk with my successor. We became friends through this committee years ago. I will make sure the transition is smooth for her sake as well as the sake of our common goal. As we say in Girl Scouting, it's about what's best for the girls.

When I was in college and things went wrong, I often said "chalk one up to experience." Four decades later, I analyze and plan and think. I draw from the experience. I learned long ago, there's a fine art to firing a volunteer.

One way step I've already used is find something else, better if possible, for the person to do. Second, do it in person; not over the phone and certainly not by email. Third, pay attention to timing. When a person is in the midst of her busiest time of year, that's not the time to insist on a hurried phone call. Finally, start and end with thanking the person for the work s/he has been doing. There's a lot to be said about saving face and acting with grace. I'll find ways to allow all involved to do the former and I'll definitely do the latter.

Shana Tova all!


© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Hi all,

I've had some fans asking when I'll be blogging again. I have actually started a post about my experiences at the National Association of Parliamentarians convention. I hope to find some time tomorrow to finish it - I've been saying that to myself all week.

I've also just had an experience of being "fired" as a volunteer. As soon as the official announcement of the change-over happens, I'll philosophize on that as well. I haven't been on this side of that situation in over 30 years. The worst part is my paranoid imagining of conversations the firers (is that a word?) are having. More to come.

Meanwhile, Shana Tova - may you have a good year!

© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'm under a deadline. I have a column due tomorrow, although I might have an extension until next Tuesday. The problem is two-fold. One, the extension is more of an excuse to futz around because I'm at a conference four of the five days. I have bunches of other things to do before the conference. Time is ticking.

The other half of the problem is I can't decide what to write on. I might revisit an old topic - there are many of them. For several years, I wrote 16 a year - that's insane and I did stop. But, what I really want to write about is things that have happened this year that are related to 40 years ago. 1969 was an amazing year.

My other problem is I don't feel like I should be putting writing energy into a blog while the column is hanging over my head along with all my presidential duties for High Holy Days. That and I'm undecided about how to use this space. On the one hand, someone I love a lot tells me that it should be a rambling of my day. On the other, I read some reviews on Amazon of the various books associated with Julie & Julia [which I continue to want to call Julia and Julie, you can see where my heart lies. Who was alive and interesting 40 years ago? huh, huh?]

The Julie & Julia book reviews had comments on Julie's blog. One stuck with me - along the lines of the reader found most blogs boring recitals of boring people's days. Ouch! The exception was blogs with themes. In my ego, I think "well, I'm not a boring person, so...." But that's why I haven't posted the last couple of days. C'mon, do you all really want to hear me ramble about my exercise class, my housekeeper, going to the post office? I thought not. And theme? My column technically has a theme, diversity but the reality is, it's whatever points I might want to make through the diversity filter. Here, I want to be even more free-f0rm.

Back to the column deadline, I'm curious if any of you, especially those under forty, like the 1969, 40 years ago, idea. Subtopics likely to include reunion experiences, Facebook, Walter Cronkite (please don't say "who?") and Ted Kennedy. I'll work in something on lessons from the past. Yes, if you're forty or over (or even 50), I like to hear your opinions too. Meanwhile, I think I'll finally eat breakfast [oh shoot, it's 11am, see my lunch date canceled cause she's sick, so no hurry here.] And I leave you with the thought that both Nick and I have had while discussion this - as the clock ticks on and the cat flops on my desk, at least he's stopped blocking the screen]. Twenty years ago, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play......


ps, It is my intention to post my columns, after they are published in Connections, the newsletter for the Santa Clara Valley Section of the Society of Women Engineers

© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Welcome to my blog!

In 62 days (plus a week), I will be turning 62 years old!

I have been writing an op-ed column for two different newsletters of the Society of Women engineers for about 14 years. The column is called Thoughts on .... For example, Thoughts on ... Balance or Thoughts on ... Affirmative Action or Thoughts on ... Movies. Sometimes, I negotiate my topic with the editor if the newsletter has a theme. Sometimes, I just write about what I feel like. Always, I write through a diversity focus. Always, I tell my editor to lie to me about the deadline. Some people are prompt meeting deadlines, others are not. I consider it a diversity issue.

I have been writing a travel log for family for the past 4 years. It started when my late father had his stroke. He was in a hospital and then a nursing home for several years. I sent my messages to my sisters who could then take and read them to him. I started putting up photographs and more people got involved. Shout outs seemed quite popular.

Finally, I've been having a great time updating my status on Facebook. The format feels a bit small to me.

This week, I saw the movie Julie & Julia. I came away from it with the desire to eat good French food and the notion that I should have a blog.

All of these came together and I've started this blog, keeping the name of my column as the title. We'll see how it goes.

One of my two large cats, Denali, a medium-haired tuxedo who flops out, is now demanding some attention. His sister, Borealis, is a short thick-haired tabby. More about them and their antics another time. My husband Nick Corsano is now watching the Oakland A's game. More about baseball later as well.

For now, I'm going to take a look at the game and play with the cats. Have a good weekend!


© 2009 Esther A. Heller

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thoughts on ... Romance

On Sept 4, 1971, my husband Nick and I were married at Harvard Chapel. Tonight we went to celebrate our anniversary at Bella Vista restaurant on Skyline Blvd in Woodside, California. We had a corner table, meaning windows on two sides, facing east. We watched the light and shadows and fog changed as the sun went down.

I may come back and elaborate later but for now I wanted to share the karma.

The woman (thirties maybe) at the next table and I made eye contact and smiled from time to time. They had arrived before us and were slightly ahead of us in service. While Nick & I were eating our entrees, our waiter came by. I said "are you checking up on us?" He said, "no them, he's proposing." And indeed the man had gone down on one knee and opened up a box with a, easily seen from our table, diamond ring. She clearly said yes. Smattering of applause around the room.

A man, closer to our age, from another table came over to them. He and his wife were celebrating their 20th anniversary and he had also proposed in that restaurant.

I went over to the now engaged couple and told them it was our 38th and this was all good karma and wished they were as happy as we are.

I'll be writing my introductory entry sometime in the next few days but I wanted to share this while it was fresh in my memory. On our ride home, Nick and I talked about how we had and hadn't changed over the years. We agreed at the core of ourselves we were still the same people and that's why we're still madly in love. Now, I think I'll go kiss my husband.