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Showing posts from December, 2015

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Dreaming of France: 29 Avenue Rapp

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Scrolling through my Instagram& finding this image, I’m surprised I haven’t shared this particular French door for Dreaming of France before. 29 Avenue Rapp boasts what might be the most famous door in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful.



Designed by Jules Lavirotte in 1901 it’s a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and features the very risque sculpted Adam and Eve above the door. I first saw the building in the movie Gigi as the building where Gigi's Aunt Alicia lives and where Gigi goes for her lessons in how to catch the right man. Preferably someone rich like Gaston.

Naturally when Mark and I visited Paris, we had to pay the building a visit. What struck us about 29 Avenue Rapp was how many people just walk on by, as if were nothing special, just another old stone edifice, the door, just another entry. I think even if I lived on the block, even if I saw the building and its door every single day, I would still have to pause and take it in. Not a whole …

Resolution [essay]

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#NoNewYearsResolutionsResolutions
It’s that time of year. Over on my book to movie site, Chapter1-Take1, I should be making a list of my favorite screen adaptations of 2015. Ideally it should be a top ten list but five will do. I should definitely be creating a post titled the Ten Most Eagerly Awaited Film Adapations Coming in 2016. Or something like that. That’s a bit clunky but you get the idea. 

Here at past tense, perfect/imperfect where I’m mostly into memoir but sometimes venture into what is actually happening—or not happening—in my own life, I should be sharing my list of New Year’s Resolutions. My plans to exercise more, stick to a regular writing schedule, cook more creatively, be kinder to the people I love. 

But after a lifetime of resolves that dissolve with the dwindling of the setting sun, when it comes to resolutions I’ve learned if you don’t make ‘em, you can’t break ‘em.

Instead, like Peggy Lee, “I’ll just keep dancing.” I’ll continue to indulge in what brings me joy and…

Dreaming of France: Is a trip in my future?

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I’m so used to looking back on this blog. Back on my own life. Back on my childhood, my adolescence, my multitude of careers. Back on old boyfriend’s and long-ago romances. Back on my mother’s life and her death, my own life as a mother. It seems I rarely look forward. Which, let’s be honest, can’t be an entirely good thing. It’s weird then that something from the past actually has me looking forward. 


Photo Source: freeinfosociety.com
Last Friday’s blog post about my recent discovery of my grandfather and my great-grandfather’s service in World War I has me actually planning for the future. Okay, planning is not quite right. But I am tooling around online, at least musing about a trip to both France and England. My British great-grandfather is buried in France, near to where he died at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, in September of 1916. My grandfather fought in the same historic battle. Doing the quick math makes this coming September the 100th year anniversary and while I don’t kn…

Above Ground on the London Underground Day 11: WWI Heroes in My Family History

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I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. This is Day 11.
I feel like one of those quasi-detective types in a old-fashioned book. On the cover there’s a group of three people—two men and a woman is the usual mix—all leaning over an oak table covered with historical documents. A lamp casts its glow on a map, a few old photos, identity papers. A mystery is afoot!

After getting that initial email from my cousin Sean last week—up to now, a virtual stranger—suddenly I’m diving into my family’s British history, pulling old photos and clippings out of worn manilla envelopes. Trying to piece the past together. Last week I learned that my grandfather, who I was vaguely aware had served in World War I, was wounded three times in the Great War. At Ypres, Flers and lastly at Gallipo…

Above Ground on the London Underground Day 10: Finding family

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Star & Garter Hospital, Richmond Hill, 1915
I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. This is Day Ten.

What was it John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans?” I’ve been here in an imaginary version of London, one where it never rains until after sundown and by 8am the morning fog has disappeared, taking a make believe walk ‘Above ground on the London Underground’ for awhile now. I started out at Heathrow, following the Picadilly Line route, but found myself taking a detour to Richmond, irresistibly drawn to the house where I was born. Now, despite my plan to get back on the Picadilly track, I find I can’t leave. Life stepped in with other plans. 

The real me, the one back in California, mapping out this pretend walking tour with the…

#ThrowbackThursday Of Brasso & Brownies [memoir]

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When I say Niagara Falls you probably think cheesy honeymoon destination, ‘slowly I turned’ and tourist trap. But Niagara Falls is where I grew up.
Coming of age in Canada

It’s daunting to move into a new house and make it yours. A never before lived in house seems more than new as it stands before you, untouched, immaculate, strangely virginal. The difference between new and brand new can be an almost empty hollow feeling. No ghosts live within those walls. No child’s smudged fingerprints have been wiped away.
I was ten years old when we moved into our new house in Niagara Falls. We moved in the spring of 1963, the season of change in what would turn out to be a decade of change. In a house without history it fell to us to write the first page.


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Above Ground on the London Underground: Day 9 Christmas at Kew Gardens ... Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

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I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. This is Day Nine

I’ve been off track from my imaginary walking tour of London, where I’m currently meant to be following the Picadilly line but I’m unwilling to leave Richmond with its fading green grass behind. Wasn’t it just summer? And now December’s come! One more stop before I leave; Kew Gardens with its’  famous glass Palm House, the Great Pagoda, the Ruined Arch folly and the flowers. All the flowers.


Image via TheOldMapMan.com
I’m here at the wrong season for flowers, of course. The earth has shifted since Virginia Woolf first wrote about Kew Gardens almost 100 years ago, her evocation of nature on a hot July day, flower stalks tipped with red, blue or yellow petals, stirring in the summer breeze, while three different set…

The San Bernardino Shooting: This one hit close to home

12.4.2015
And now it’s official, this is being investigated as an act of terror.

We usually start the day with the morning news on; half the time the sound is down, no one’s paying attention, it’s just background patter. 

I’m home alone and instead of taking my usual walk I decide to do a little writing; I mute the TV, I don’t know why I don’t turn it off completely. I’m on a roll and it’s sometime shortly after 11:30 before I finally look up from my desk and see a red banner splashed on the TV screen: Active Shooter Situation in San Bernardino, California. My heart hits the floor. That’s close to home. I find the remote, un-mute the TV set in time to hear that the shooter is at a building on the corner of Orange Show and Waterman. That’s my husband’s old stomping ground, most of his large family still live and work in the area. About an hour and half from our apartment in L.A., it’s just a few minutes from his parents’ home where we gather for family birthdays and holiday celebrations.