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Fun Facts

Some fun (or not so fun, as the case may be) facts about me: 

  • I’m obsessed with accents and drive my kids nuts by repeating sentences spoken in foreign-accented English that I hear while regularly listening to the BBC and NPR
  • I love to cook but sometimes regret what I’ve gotten myself into when meals take hours to prepare. I tell my family we’re dining Continental-style, but they just say that 9 pm is too late for dinner
  • I’m crazy about volcanoes and have had the great good fortune of hiking one that had erupted only a few months before we’d been there (in what was then called Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The hot volcanic sand near the caldera melted the soles of our hiking boots and the shards of volcanic rock ripped them up, yet our barefoot guide’s feet were fine. I’ve since seen in person, or hiked part of or biked down probably five other volcanoes
  • We happened upon the deadliest snake in all of the Americas while in Costa Rica, maybe eight feet in front of us. We waited a good ten minutes holding perfectly still until he was ready to slither on past us
  • I once put my finger in an indoor waterfall thinking it was an indoor waterfall, only to learn it was actually a men’s urinal, recycling water continuously.
  • I’m a spaghetti sauce freak, constantly refining my recipe
  • Ask me about my chicken stock, which ends up being like my spaghetti sauce in that it is perpetually refined. Secret ingredient? Chicken feet
  • I’m the world’s worst pasta estimator
  • We were charged by a silverback gorilla while on a gorilla trek in Zaire. I don’t think we took him seriously enough 
  • I shamelessly kissed the vice president of the United States at an Inaugural Ball in 1984. As in I tugged him toward me across the velvet rope and kissed him smack on the lips just as he was making his grand entrance. The Secret Service was not amused. Maybe I’d been standing around a little too long and had enjoyed one too many glasses of wine before that happened, and perhaps I left my impulse control at home that evening
  • I’ve professionally photographed Prince Charles (see picture below), Elizabeth Taylor, and the president of Uganda, amongst others
  • I’ve tried to tame my fear of heights by challenging it. This included riding in a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara in East Africa; participating in the trapeze classes at a Club Med (and being selected for the weekly trapeze show—I was all for it till they made me don bright blue spandex, which was a sorry sight for all to see); ziplining in Hawaii, which didn’t freak me out too much, although ziplining in Costa Rica, where we could see all the way into the next country we were so high up, well, that didn’t set so well with me. Finally I went skydiving, which somehow greatly helped to mitigate my fear of heights. Go figure!
  • I brake for farmer’s markets and am a huge advocate of the Buy Local movement
  • If given the chance to wash muddy dogs that have rolled in deer poop and plodded through swamp muck or clean my house, I’d choose the dog-washing. It’s over quicker
  • I’m incapable of going to the movies without ordering popcorn, even when I see them lugging in months-old stale popcorn by the garbage bagful to dump into the popcorn machine for appearances’ sake. 
  • When I was a cheerleader in high school, I flipped the finger to a standing-room only crowd after finishing a cheer at a pivotal basketball playoff game when the opposing fans booed us. Clearly my impulse control wasn’t firing on all cylinders that day
  • I could give a care about most sports but am always loyal to all Pittsburgh teams and Penn State, and now I add UVA to that list
  • I am forever itching to get back to Italy and regret not having a drop of Italian blood in me
  • By my rough calculations, I have cleaned up easily a half million parrot poops in the past 25 years
  • I wouldn’t exactly call myself a panda stalker, but if I had one living nearby I’m sure I would be one, and that bear would have to take out a restraining order on me (ditto for polar bears)
  • I love all things Italy

Meeting Prince Charles 

This is a picture I took of Prince Charles with his equerry staff at the stunning British Embassy in Washington, DC.