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#10: Surfing Lessons [Memoir—Listen on iTunes and SoundCloud]

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Thinking of tiny Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria heads toward the island as a Category 5. Holding you in my thoughts P.R., home to some of my sweetest memories. The year we lived in San Juan with the beaches of the Condado and Isla Verde our playground, the beautiful blue cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, the soft smooth flavor of coconut ice cream and every surfer boy I fell head over heels for, memories I still hold dear today. It was 1968, the year the World Surfing Championships were held in Puerto Rico, the year I turned 15.

Originally posted on 6/17/2016



#10 Avenida Ponce de Leon, San Juan Puerto Rico

This is another story from my not quite year in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the 10th in the long line of places I've called home. We lived in a high rise above the city on Avenida Ponce de Leon, but my second home that summer was the beach. It was the year I turned fifteen.


Image via JorgeMachucaSurfer.com
Surfing Lessons
Chris lived in a low-slung house on the water’s edge out in Isla …

Home is where the heart is

Last week at this time I was with my husband at the emergency room at Cedars Sinai. I don’t know why they call it a room, it’s really a mammoth labyrinth of rooms and partitioned-off portions of hallways filled with doctors, nurses, volunteers, patients in beds, family members pacing. 

It was one of those days you don’t plan for, don’t expect. One of those days that proves ‘life really is what happens when you’re making other plans.’ 

My husband had been having chest pains the day before, nothing major, he said, just twinges. It wasn’t a sharp pain, it wasn’t a dull pain. More of a thrum. Of course he didn’t say anything to me about it until the end of the day because, men. They whine about their cold symptoms but, potential heart attack? Mums the word. 

Mark did finally come out with it, at the same time promising me he had none of the other symptoms that most men experience when having a heart attack. No nausea, no pain radiating out, no shortness of breath, no dizziness, no cold sweat…

Dreaming of France: Table for Two

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I was scrolling through our vacation pictures from this past spring when this shot of a cafe caught my eye. I wasn't sure what pulled me in. It's certainly not that it's a perfectly composed photo. It's a bit busy, the light fixture at the top left intrusive, the yellow building with the shutters and charming grey and white striped awnings cut off too soon.
But I love it. Why, I wondered. Because it takes me back to such a happy period? Of course that's part of it. On the left side, out of range of the photograph is the small market where my husband and I would buy bananas, yogurt and pain du chocolat in the morning. Learning how to use the machine at the grocery store to weigh the bananas, figuring out how to make ourselves understood to the clerks at the checkout line, part of the fun of being adrift in a city where you don't speak the language. When your Ou est? and Combien? are not quite enough. The view of this cafe across the street from our hotel is wha…

Dreaming of France: Tour de France hits the Louvre?

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Those don't look like official cycling shorts to me. Just a group of girls following their tour leader. Ah, oui! Time for a photo! If only they had French berets.

I can't decide which of these photos to put on my Instagram.
Any suggestions?
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Dreaming of France: Trompe l'oeil

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photo credit: moi
The trompe l'oeil technique used here works better on a sunny day when the real sky matches the painted blue sky on the building. On the day we visited this spot in the 10th arrondisment, the grey clouds visited the neighborhood too.
Literally, to deceive the eye, the official definition of the French phrase trompe l'oeil is
• visual illusion in art, especially as used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object.We spotted this one on the Rue du la Faubourg above a storefront near the Gare de l’est. But that’s all I know about it and so far, even my friend Google, has been of little help. I have no idea what he initials ELZA stand for, they don’t seem to be connected with the shop below, one that sells military accoutrements.


photo credit: www.paris-en-photos.fr
I did discover that Paris boasts an abundance of buildings done up in trompe l’oeil to fool the eye. The one above (not my photo) is of a wall next to a fire station. In…

There Goes the Sun

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By the time you read this, you will have already seen some spectacular photographs of the eclipse. Good. Because you won’t find them here although this shot of the totality taken by my husband Mark is pretty awesome. It’s what we saw but not all of what we saw. All in all though, the research we did about taking photos of the eclipse on our iPhones proved to be right. Unless you got incredibly lucky, had some special skill sets and filters, knew how to adjust the ISO and other techie doodads, your pictures would be grainy, the sun small and unimpressive. In other words, nothing like the eclipse we would be seeing with our own eyes. Relax and watch the eclipse, most of the articles advised. After all, maxxing out at about two minutes, the totality itself wasn’t going to last that long. And while there’s another eclipse coming to the eastern states in 2024, for most of us, this would be a once in a life time event.

For someone like me, a rank amateur who loves taking pictures with my iPh…

Eclipse 2017: Heading to the Path of Totality

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the things you see on a road trip to the totality
Are you in the Path of Totality? Excited to see the eclipse? No matter where you are in the country, you'll see some part of the eclipse on Monday. Mark and I headed north from Los Angeles, hoping to see the whole dang thing. Which is why I totally forgot to write my weekly British Isles Friday post! Sorry fellow followers of Joy Weese Moll's Friday meme.

A couple of months ago, we thought it would be kind of awesome to get out to see the eclipse from somewhere along the Path of Totality. Idaho or Oregon, both about two long day's drives from L.A. It took about 60 seconds to learn most people had that idea months and even years ago. People are coming from all over the world to see the eclipse. Hotels, campsites have been booked for eons, what remains are prices jacked up to the clouds. 



We decided to leave early, drive through Oregon which is in the path, into Washington (which isn't) and go back into Oregon on Sunday or …

Dreaming of France: Love

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It's that time of the week when I usually share a French-themed post for Paulita's Dreaming of France meme. I didn't prepare a post in advance and the events in Charlottesville were so disturbing, I found it hard to do anything this weekend. 


In my opinion Robert E. Lee's statue could be allowed to stand BUT only if alongside the statue, there was a large granite monument detailing the racism and hatred it represents. I don't think we should be allowed to whitewash and forget our shameful history. That's more important than ever now that an American citizen has been killed by Nazis here on American soil. On that same granite memorial I'd propose a tribute to Heather Heyer who died standing up to hate. 

That being said, these two photos with the word love•• painted on the wall are two of my favorite shots from our recent trip. Both found in Paris, on brighter days. 

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Bridget Jones Diary. On location in London. #BriFri

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I just found British Isles Friday post which I shared over on Chapter1-Take1.com directly from London when my hubby and I visited in May. I'm not sure what happened, whether I lost my connection or just forgot to share it with my fellow Anglophiles following Joy Weese Moll's British Isles Friday meme. I'm making up for that now, adding some additional photos from Borough Market where Bridget Jones flat was actually above the Globe Tavern.



No matter how we felt about the sequels, we all fell in love with Bridget in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary. Most of us saw a bit of ourselves in her, whether it was the overeating, over-imbibing misfit or the plucky lost girl who refused to give up, her honesty about her own flaws and foibles helped us laugh at ourselves. Rene Zellweger with her brave British accent channeled Bridget’s flirty spirit.


Hidden under the arches of London Bridge at the Globe Tavern in Borough Market is the flat where Bridget lived. I'm not sure if thi…

Dreaming of France: Notre Dame

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When we were in Paris in early May—before the height of the season—my husband waited in the long line to see the inside of Notre Dame while I took pictures of a couple getting their wedding photos taken. 

It turned out the line looked longer than it was and after just a few minutes were able to go inside. It's no secret that Notre Dame is stunning and we both got our cameras out and started shooting before hunting down the passageway that led to the tower stairs. I'd climbed the tower stairs to the top on my last trip to Paris many many years earlier and while my husband isn't a huge fan of heights he agreed to do the climb with me. We went earlyish in the day so we weren't too wiped out from walking.

My recollection from the last time I'd been here—in 1989—was that there was a small arched entry near the back of the cathedral. We couldn't find it anywhere so we asked the woman manning the souvenir counter inside. What I didn't realize was that there was a wh…

Above Ground on the London Underground: Back to Piccadilly Circus

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One of the places I was most looking forward to seeing in London was Piccadilly Circus. I'd written about here for the Above Ground on the London Underground tour in 7 Things You Need to Know about Piccadilly Circus and touched on it in From the Ritz to Piccadilly Circus. I was excited to show the Circus to my husband, telling him we needed to save it for one of our nighttime activities. All those amazing advertising billboards had to be seen lit up at night.
Piccadilly Circus: The patchwork screens are being switched off and will be replaced with a mega screen in the Autu… https://t.co/NBdQZGvP2O — City A.M. (@CityAM) January 16, 2017





Little did I know that the lighted patchwork Piccadilly is famous for is undergoing a change. The existing patchwork was taken down this spring and will be replaced by one large screen. In the meantime, this temporary fix looked large but ordinary, paper adverts lit up from above, not from behind. 

Of course the Circus is still a major tourist attract…

Some Sunny Day

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Enid Maude Good (nee Hayden) 7/30/1925—4/22/2012
My parents both had birthdays this week. I suppose would have had is more grammatically correct. My mother would have been ninety if Alzheimer's hadn't taken its final toll in 2012. My dad might have made it to one hundred but for the liver disease that took him out over twenty years ago.

My mother was born in London; she was fourteen when World War II broke out. Accompanying her two younger brothers, she was one of the millions of British children the government sent to the English countryside to shield them from the blitz. Miserable, she returned home and went to work as a clippie on the iconic red double-decker buses. She loved running up and down those stairs, taking money, making change. Making it home before curfew, diving under the Morrison bed when the bomb sirens squealed. Dating Yank soldiers stationed in the UK. Later, working at a munitions factor, she had to wrap up her hair so it didn't get caught in the works…