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As Seen in Britain

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Iconic British Phone Booths in Marylebone May, 2017
With cellphones prevailing many of these lovely totems of once up a time in Britain, always a popular photo opp, have been revamped as cell phone hot spots and wifi zones. Speaking of which, I shot this pair with my iPhone.
There is even talk of transforming the red phone boxes into mini-offices! Long may they reign!
Posted for British Isles Friday hosted by Joy Weese Moll.

Dreaming of France: Guarding the Louvre

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When we entered the grounds of the Louvre, this gentleman, standing as still as the statues within its walls, gave us our first glimpse of not only the dizzying financial value of the treasures housed within its walls, but the importance of the Louvre as France's most beloved cultural institution. 


Home to some of the most famous and valuable works of art in the entire world—the Mona Lisa alone was last valued in 1962 at $100 million, and is presumably worth many times that now—and the museum, as the most visited tourist site in Paris, is worth much more than that. 


Over 8 million people visit the Louvre every year and when we were there this past spring, I have to admit it felt as though most of them had come to see the Mona Lisa that same morning. For anyone who wanted to linger and really look at DaVinci's masterpiece—like moi—it was a frustrating experience. 

Liberty Leading the People / Eugene Delacroix
Still, there is so much to see at the Louvre, there is no time to linger…
It's been just over a month since 58 people were killed by a gunman in Las Vegas. There is still nothing being done. We need to keep fighting the NRA.

'Can't you hear the children scream?' — this man's spoken word poem about America's gun violence will move you to tears (via @inqlife) pic.twitter.com/4JaviUM9RY — NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 6, 2017

Dreaming of France: I'll meet you in the garden

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Today's post was inspired by Paulita Kincer, my fellow blogger currently in the midst of picking up her entire American life and moving to France with her husband. Today she shared a photo of herself relaxing, as Parisians do, at Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. 

It's a place where people take their dogs, and those who still smoke, may smoke. A place where one can sit and read the newspaper.
Have an afternoon nap
Or scratch each others backs.
A place where one day this past spring I put my feet up on the rim of the pond and watched the children sailing their boats before the guard very politely came over to say Madame, please, the chairs must remain in the back. 

A place where one day in the future I hope to return and possibly have a rendezvous with Paulita. She and I can sit and people-watch while our husbands fetch us coffee and sandwiches. What do you say Paulita? Meet you in the garden?

Posted for Paulita’s weekly Dreaming of France meme.

A tree is a tree is a tree: finding a passion

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I know I haven’t shared anything new here in ages, the truth is I’m working on a novel and with a book-in-progress on my mind, my creative spirit is otherwise engaged. 


There is one aspect of the writing process I’d like to share here, to see what you think, and that’s the interest that the main male character, Jacob, has in botany, trees in particular. Part of the pleasure of writing the novel has been following his passion, learning more about trees myself. Like my female protagonist, Alex, I also find myself noticing different kinds of trees everywhere I go. The stunning pink flowering tree pictured above with its hibiscus-like blooms is an example of the Silk Floss tree a South American relative of the Kapok tree. This one caught my eye as I was walking by the Pan Pacific park here in Los Angeles in early October. The tropical species does really well in Southern California’s generally warm and dry climate. While they’re clearly gorgeous, the Silk Floss tree is more than just a pre…

British Isles Friday: Little pink houses for you and for me.

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"Ain't that America, home of the free"? No John Mellencamp, it's not. This little pink house is in London, on Elgin Crescent in Nottinghill. A street known for it's pretty pastel-painted row houses.
When I think of the colorful—colourful?—houses of Nottinghill, I think of rows of shining happy facades, neat as a pin. My mind skims right over the places where they need a touch up, the chipped white painted iron work of the front gate, the dirt that comes with the drizzle of the rain tainting the cornice over the front porch.
My photos from the trip that took us to London last spring clear the misty haze from my romanticized image, revealing the truth. As pretty as this pink house is, it isn't perfect. Still, I love it. I'm a fan of pink houses, turquoise walls, green doors, houses painted in the colors that you see on homes in the tropics.
They're not everyone's cup of tea, many preferring houses that come in shades of white and grey. How about you? Wo…

A funny thing happened on the way to the laundry room

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I'm heading back to my apartment, carrying my plastic laundry basket, heavy with 2 loads of freshly washed whites. The basket itself is pale green only because I couldn't find turquoise. I am absolutely crazy about turquoise. So there I am, walking down the path, when I'm startled by a glimpse of turquoise at the top of a neighbor's stairs. 

My eyes dial in and I see it's a girl, a girl with bright aqua-colored hair, the very same Katy Perry blue I yearn to dye my own hair. The girl, talking to her boyfriend (my assumption from how close to each other they stand) catches my eye, we smile.

"I love your hair," I call out as I pass. "Oh, to be young again, I'd love to have hair that color."

At which point she peels away from her boyfriend and heads down the stairs. "You should!" she says. "And I'm not that young, I'm thirty." 

"Ha! You're a baby!" 

But I'm glad I haven't called her a girl out loud. D…

Dreaming of France: Kicking back in the Sun at the Tuileries

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Le Jardins de Tuileries (from my instagram) I took this photograph last Spring on our trip to France.  I love how most everyone is simply relaxing in the sun, sleeping even, in the middle of the work week.

Every week for the last few years, I've tried to create a French themed blogpost like this one, here or at Chapter1-take1 to connect with my friend Paulita's Dreaming of France meme. I call her my friend but we've never met. You know how that weird internet thing can be, connecting you with strangers from around the globe in oddly intimate ways.

Now Paulita, who has been dreaming and fantasizing about living in France for years, sharing her photos, her memories from her trips, is actually doing it. After taking oodles of journeys to France, waiting for their kids to reach adulthood, scouting out locations, she and her husband put their house on the market. The house is in escrow and in the next couple of months, escrow will close and they'll be gone. Like F. Scott and Ze…

Dreaming of France: Washing our cares away

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What’s the most time you can spend on vacation before you have to do any laundry? A week? Ten days? A little longer if you can do your ‘fine washables’ in the hotel room sink? Or perhaps you’re well-heeled enough that you can leave your clothing with the cleaning staff to take care of ala Tom Ripley pretending to be Dickie in The Talented Mr. Ripley?

When the hubs Mark, and I went to Europe for a month this past spring we found we needed to do a load about every 10 days. We did laundry three times, in Paris where we were lucky to find a laverie just a block from our hotel on the Rue de Seine where in early May, the temperature still a fairly brisk 55º and we wore multiple layers and our raincoats everywhere to keep off the chill. We did a load in the beach resort town of Rimini in Italy where someone had left a box of detergent in the lavanderia. The temperature had risen to a balmy mid 70's by then and we left our raincoats in the back of the rental car. By the time we did our las…

British Isles Friday: Strange Days

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The Marble Arch St. Martin's (where we saw The Mousetrap) Sir John Soane's Museum
The weeks pass so quickly and are so full of strange happenings these days that Friday hits me in the face hard. How can it be British Isles Friday again? I feel as taken by surprise as if I looked up from my desk to find a whipped cream pie being thrown at my face. 

Hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquake, terror attacks. There’s so much going on, do you feel the same way I do? Overwhelmed by it all? A vulgar, mean-spirited, loose cannon ‘running the country.’ That stupid saying ‘The world is going to hell in a hand basket’ feels absurdly true.

We had an earthquake here in Los Angeles. A jolt, like an elevator settling, a ‘nothing burger’ as some might say. That was followed by the truly horrible Mexico quake where we watched four story buildings collapse before our eyes, watched first responders try to dig out victims, rubble by rubble with their hands. 

In the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria has devastate…

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

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Thinking of tiny Puerto Rico, 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. Sharing an old post about an old memory from that idyllic time.

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 …

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…