Monday, December 31, 2012


I love a freshly made bed. I love the cool underside of the pillow. I love the look in people's eyes when they are in love. I love the quiet of winter nights and I love the burst of bright green when the trees awake in the spring. I love when a song makes me close my eyes and drift into a memory made long ago. I love the way Cheyenne thumps her tail against the floor when she wakes up and sees me. I love greeting the sunrise. I love the buzz of Cicadas on a warm summer evening. I love the smell of Gain. I love laughing so hard that tears fall from my eyes.

I love familiarity and I love new beginnings.

Honesty is just too beautiful to put into words.

 ~ The best to you in 2013. I hope you get more of what you love.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On keeping promises

I'm dusting of this neglected site to tell you a little story.  On January 2nd of this year, I resolved that the year would be one of doing for others.  Each day, I decided, I would do something for someone. That simple. Large or small gesture, small or large effort. A favor, an exercise, a hand, a connection.

I did not meet my goal.

But I did try. And that made a big difference, to me. When I set out with the resolution in mind, the first few weeks were a bit electric for me because I was focused, looking out for an opportunity, charged with my mission. But January gives way to February and time moves deeper into the new year and resolutions and fresh starts can fade as the ever-present demands of the mundane creep into the day.  Still, I found that after my intense focus, I had developed a habit of sorts of seeing the opportunity, recognizing it, rather than searching for it. I've read that it takes 30 days to break or create a habit, and I think that, give or take a few days, this is true.

What I found is that holding a door open or retrieving something from a high shelf for an elderly grocery shopper, or waving someone ahead of me in traffic, are all tiny things, almost effortless really, but the feeling inside is not tiny. The feeling inside is one of warmth from being connected. I didn't expect that. I found that in giving of myself, I was opening up to the world around me, involving myself in its rhythm and feeling less alone and move alive through these tiny connections. I found that I smile more, have healthier thoughts and a bit of wonder back in me. What will it be that I can do today? What will I discover in my path?

I'd like to think that these little gestures add a bit of sparkle to the world, just the tiniest bit. They definitely add that to my world. So much so that I'm keeping the goal through the new year.  I like where it takes me. I like the smiles.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Across the street from me lives a somewhat elderly woman named Anne. She lives alone in an apartment above a two-car garage. The garage is behind the back yard of the main house, which faces the street that crosses mine.

Anne loves dogs and she makes a living house-sitting and caring for them. She does not have a dog of her own so she visits my girls daily.  With a pocketful of biscuits for them. When Cheyenne or Dixie see her, they are all tail wags and barks of excitement. Anne and I visit at the gate while the Chey and  Dix feast on their treats. Our conversations are not deep or overly personal, the weather, our plans for the day, goings on in the neighborhood.

Sometimes, Dixie is too energetic, loud and, I assume, annoying for Cheyenne, so Anne will wait for Dixie to get down the stairs to the gate, hand her a treat, and then toss a bone on the porch for Cheyenne.

Nice lady, Anne.

Two weeks ago, the house and its garage went up for sale. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to that house, there's roof and foundation damage. It's unlikely someone will buy it and pour the necessary money into the repairs; more likely, a builder will snatch it up and raze it. It's an uncomfortable waiting game for Anne. I look across at her apartment every day, hoping to see her and wondering what the future holds.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Look at this, first full week in August and I'm still on my birthday.

About Cozumel.  I'm going to let these photos be the thousand words of my trip but I will say one thing.  On my birthday, sometime in the full sun of the afternoon, I was sitting on the sandy cliff of a bar/restaurant on the less developed side of the island, beneath a green Dos XX umbrella, squeezing myself beneath the shade it provided, an ice cold Dos XX and a giant glass of ice water before me.  Today is my birthday, I thought.  And then... and then... from the place's sound system, Bob's Seger's Travelin' Man entered my ears.  Up with the sun, gone with the wind...  That moment?  That singular moment?  The best part of my special day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Was I surprised? Oh yes.

At 7:15 Saturday evening, my friend Kelly called.

I'm sorry but we're running a little late.  Stef isn't ready yet so I'm going to pick you up and we'll come back here and get her.

I worried if we'd make it to The Lion King on time because that is what I thought the surprise was.  Kelly and Stef has asked me months ago to reserve Saturday the 21st for them for my birthday but they would not tell me what we were going to be doing. The day after their request, I opened the newspaper to a full page ad for The Lion King coming to Houston in July, and knew, just knew, that was what was up their sleeve.

I was wrong.

As we were driving, Kelly told me about the changes Stef had recently made to the house.  She told me how much Stef had been doing lately, the new painting and new curtains, the DIY curtain rods from copper piping, some furniture rearranging.  I wanted to take a look but didn't dare ask, because, you know, tick tock tick tock, THE LION KING!  Kelly seemed to tap into my curiousity though not my tapping we are going to be late for opening curtain feet. She called Stef to ask her if it was okay that I come in and see.  Stef said it was fine, but to come in the front door because the kitchen was a mess.

The kitchen? Not a mess.

Kelly and I walked up the sidewalk, just chatting away.  She opened the front door for me and when I walked inside, I saw her Aunt Dorris sitting on the couch and her lovely mother sitting on a chair beside her. For a fleeting second, I thought Dorris and Lyndy are going to The Lion King with us!  Then I saw the wall of friends standing in the dining room yelling, SURPRISE! 

I looked at Stef, now standing lovely and smiles in front of me, and I looked back at Kelly who was in full face Cheshire Cat grin.  I put my hand over my mouth. No way.  NO WAY!  In that room and into the kitchen and down the hallway were the faces of many friends and loved ones I have known for years, friends like family, all smiling and happy and there because they had been invited by Kelly and Stef to celebrate my birthday.  I was definitely surprised, shocked even, and soon in the joyful embrace of so many hugs, so much love.  I couldn't believe that several friends drove in from Austin, I was so touched, so delighted and so pleased to see them.  The tears were pouring from my eyes at this point when I turned my head to see the one who by far travelled the farthest distance.  I saw him standing in the kitchen while I was hugging my friend, Beth.  I noticed him but it took a moment for my brain to register what my eyes were seeing. My Personal Hurricane was standing there in the kitchen, all smiles and happy, having flown in from London the night before. 

There were balloons of gold and white and black, and streamers throughout the house. There was an awesome spread of food in the dining room that could feed a kingdom, and there was a bar set up in the back yard on a table draped with a white tablecloth. There was even a bartender.  She kept the champagne chilled and well poured. There were candles hanging from the umbrella over the picnic table and bright flowers in small jars hung with wire from the covered pergola.  White beach balls floated lazily in the pool, illuminated by the pool light, looking like a handful of full moons in the water.  All of it beautiful, just beautiful, and no doubt the result of a lot of planning and work.

What a fantastic and generous suprise it was, I am still floating from the high and love and generosity.  The evening was filled with conversation, smiles, champagne, laughter, and me answering over and over again the question, Were you surprised?

I didn't open a single gift until the next morning when I hauled them upstairs and opened them in bed with a cup of coffee.  One of those gifts, fittingly and amusingly, was a pair of tickets to The Lion King.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Gah! Where do I begin? It was a surprise party.  And I was oh so very surprised.  And so very happy.  I still am. 
And now I'm off to Cozumel for the rest of the week. 

Happy birthday to me!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh look! 50 is on the horizon!

On Wednesday, July 25th, I turn the very even and enviable age of 50. I say enviable  because by the time you reach 50, you've lost friends who never will. I will not deny there is sadness with each birthday I have that those I have loved were not able to reach.  I carry them with me in a pocket in my heart and share my special day with them.

Beyond it being an even-numbered big birthday, as my mother called the preceding four, I've not given the number much thought. At least in my awake mind. For the past six to eight months though, I've had some strange time plays in my dreams.  For months and months now the age comparison of where my parents were at my age and where I was at their age. I've dreamed of memories and celebrations and my parents (and me) so young.  When those first happened, I was unsettled.  But after the familiarity, I calmed down and gained some awesome insight to my parents lives, and clues to this new age I'm about to reach. 

I may cringe sometimes at the rapidly passing time, but never the age.  I have been blessed on this journey.

Would you like evidence?  I have that.  My dear, dear friends texted me earlier this year (January? February?) and reserved the date of Saturday the 21st. They would not tell me anything beyond to save the date.  I wondered, I imagined.  I still do. 

This evening, I got this email:

Attire for Saturday: dressy casual. You know...get dressed up like you're going out for a great night on the town. You may see people you know, you may not. You might meet new people, you might not. You may be somewhere you've never been, or you might be somewhere familiar. Either way...LOOK GOOD!!! But not "formal" good ;o) and bring an extra pair of shoes in case you fall (just kidding) or in case you just need to get comfy.

Bathe. Shave. Brush your teeth. Floss. Put on make-up. Get your nails done...and your toenails.

Be ready to LEAVE YOUR HOUSE @ 7:15 p.m. SHARP!!!

Be prepared for might need an overnight bag, you might not. Okay ~ you don't need an overnight bag, but you do need to make sure dogs are cared for so that you do not need to be home at a certain time.

You might be at a new restaurant, or an old favorite. You might not be at a restaurant at all. You might be at our home, or you might be at your home, so they both should be presentable for guests. Or not. I'd say yes...everything should always be presentable for guests.


I can't wait ~ stef

See that?  Definitely blessed.  Who knows what's in store for me or what I'll be doing this Saturday, but I'm pretty darn sure I'll be among friends who I'm so happy to be sharing this journey with.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


These sandals, oh these lovely sandals, are destined for the trash bin today.  These sandals have been my go-to shoes for six summers. They came into my life in April 2006 and I wrote about them when I bought them. I didn't need them at the time but they were such a good deal. They were $60.00 (original price, $150.00), which turned out to be $10.00 per year of wear.  Fair enough.  Two years ago, I had new heels put on them.  Earlier this year, I had one of the straps fixed.  Alas, I've been caught walking in the rain and the strap has broken again. Time for them to go.

I will miss you, oh lovely pair of sandals. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Raise the flag

One of the appreciations my father passed on to me is that of flying the flag. That man respected the US flag and he flew it proudly from a flag post on the front of every house we called home.  He flew the Texas flag too.  He had Olympic flags, US Equestrian Team flags, nautical flags, and all sorts of colorful wind socks in his collection. 

If my mother would have let him, I think he would have flown every sort of flag and wind sock that caught his eye. On the Fourth of July holiday weekends spent at the family cabin, he would just go ahead and do that. Oh the sound of all those flags whirling and whipping in the wind or lazily flapping atop the breeze. I would stand on that porch, close my eyes and just drink that sound. Such a beautiful sound!

Happy 4th of July to all those proud flag flyers out there.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Almost every paragraph begins with an I

I tend to write more when I am troubled than I do when all is balanced in head and heart. This time is different. I've written twice about my troubles recently. But there's nothing for me to sort out through my words, no epiphany to unearth, nothing to discover, just release. I'm writing because in telling you, I'm not alone. 

I'm living in a story that I've lived in, in one form or another, since I was nine years old. I'm knocking at the door of 50 next month. Forty-one years is a hell of a long time and patience no longer comes naturally. Denial though, at least this time around, is all too eager to take over and run the show. My belief in him was so strong that I was completely oblivious to the screaming evidence so obvious to others.

Is this what my parents went through with my sister?  Is this what they felt like?  When all the episodes piled up, when the crippling knowledge shut down their hopes for her, when the years of work they did for her and money they invested in her, when all of it was for nothing at all, how did they get through it?  How did they survive the theft, the lies, looking at her and watching their beautiful girl become damaged, her skin lose its glow, her eyes darken, her cheeks sunken.  How do you look at that and reconcile what you see with the innocent child in your heart?  You do not.

I watched my sister destroy her potential through years of drug and alcohol abuse. Years of that behavior partnered with years of abusive men. I watched my mother through two nervous breakdowns and years of depression because she simply was not equipped to handle this child of hers and she always wondered and sometimes voiced if perhaps, just perhaps, someone else would have adopted my sister instead of my parents, would that have meant a different life for my sister, was it something she had done? That's an impossible thing to wonder and incredible guilt to put on yourself, but my mother did.  And she could never get her answer because there is not an answer. 

I watched battle after battle between my parents because my father would not give up on my sister and my mother had to do so in order to survive.  Literally survive.  I overheard them argue often about the protection they worked so hard to provide me, the financial struggles it caused, the barrier they so desperately built to keep me from my sister's actions, her boyfriends, her drugs. But you can't hide everything. I watched the devastation when they would discover missing things, sterling platters, guns, jewelry, precious wedding gifts, that my sister had stolen and taken to pawn shops. I hid behind the door as I watched my sister pull a gun on my father.  I wiped plenty of tears and I tried my best to pick up so many broken pieces.

The first time he stole from me was over a year ago. The ring, the watch, the pearls, the diamond and pearl earrings my best friend's parents gave me at her wedding, and more, so much more. It's not the monetary value, it's the sentimental value combined with the shock of someone you love stealing from you. It took me months to crawl out of that sadness, that betrayal.  I lived it again a week ago with a missing camera. And the lies. Again. The denial. Again. The anger at me. Again.

His insistence that he is fine, just trying to live his life without the bullshit. Then the tearful phone call, I need help. Then my telling him the stipulations. And his responding, I'd rather live under a bridge.

His mother said that once. And she did it. She lived under a bridge in San Antonio for three years. By choice. A nearby florist contacted us when the man she lived with under that bridge started to abuse her.  That kind lady accepted my father's monthly checks to buy food and water for sister. Please take care of my daughter.

It slayed my father's heart.  My mother couldn't hear it at all.

And all the while, understand, with all those sad memories of my sister and the brutal truth of her son, I know that he needs help and, like my father, I'm desperate to give it, desperate to save him. How do you help someone who would destroy himself?  How do you help what destroys you?` How far does love really go?

I have dreams now where I'm fighting with my mother.  I've stolen from her and she knows I have and she is angry, very angry with me. She is looking through her room in our old house and she's finding more and more things missing. And I'm looking her in the eye and yelling at her that I did not do it.  She knows better and I know better and yet I still deny it over and over. And the strange thing is that I am angry with her in the dream.  It's horrible to wake from because my mother doesn't appear in my dreams very often but when she does, it's more of a reunion, I'm so happy to see her and she me. This dream is not those dreams.  

But switch the characters, her to me and me to him, and this is my life.

I never wanted to have this in common with my parents. My sister's son now doing to his life and to me what she did to hers and to them.  But here we are nonetheless.  I cannot let go but I cannot be pulled under either. The lies, the drugs, the regrets, the tears, the anger, the assistance over and over, the many chances, all gone nowhere. How do I get through to him?  How do I accept that I cannot?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Man overboard

Letting go.  It's so hard, so challenging, so right, so wrong, so confusing, so, so, so much torture.  I was right about the trouble brewing, right about the storm, right to hold on.  I wonder if I am right to withold the lifeboat even though an entire team put on the life vest.  Applicable metaphors, always aquatic.  Or maybe avian, pushing out of the nest, without a net. 

If I keep picking up the pieces, how will they assemble as lessons for him?  Or, what lessons are they teaching?  What are the lessons here anyway?

But oh the strength, the power of that pull on my heart. 

And the doubt.  Is this the right time?  What if it's too much, not enough?   

When the call comes in, that call of help, is it enough to just listen?  I hope so.  My arms are tied to action. This is a time of hard lessons.  For both of us.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Sometimes I wake into the middle of the night to all that darkness, quiet and mystery.  Sometimes, I reach for the covers and pull them just under my chin because even at my age the feeling of being tucked in is a safe one. 

Sometimes I sense it in my bones, what's next.  I don't breathe and I don't dare be so smitten with it all as to knock on wood. No, I know. Trouble is just around the corner.

She can be charming, that one, a crooked smile, a slow and direct wink. Trouble could be what I believe, or it could be my hopes, his explanations, her laugh, a missed heart beat. Trouble loves to be wrapped in words.  Doesn't matter what form it takes, trouble is coming. 

Trouble is that I saw it coming when I woke up.  I could smell it, through the windows. I sensed the way my hair felt flat and sticky on my neck. I sensed it in the air that someone else was breathing.

I can do nothing to stop it. Trouble is here. Maybe not for you, but for me. Trouble is flirting with my focus and tickling my wounds. She wants out, this one. She wants to play.

I sit here at my kitchen table and I wrap myself in my own arms.  Hold on, honey, looks like a storm is coming.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The silence ever after

I imagine she must have made the decision weeks ago. Probably, she'd had it in her mind for a long time. It must have swirled there, melting into sorrow, curling alongside desperation, connecting to a decision.  It swam through her mind as an option, an action.  It would take some planning, she apparently thought.  Confessions, phone calls, apologies. A certain amount of scheduling and mapping out.

She chose a location.

She left a note.

At some point after her parents left the ranch that day, she walked to the stock tank, gun in hand.  I don't know if she dipped her toe in and shivered at the cold, momentarily stalling her from her mission, or if she walked straight in, not bothering to register the temperature or the wild muck of the water saturating her clothes.  I do know that she kept going.  She wanted to disappear, she wanted to be sure. 

I imagine that when she put the gun beneath her chin and pulled the trigger, the sound cracked through the weeping sky. A blue heron was startled, leapt from a tree branch, perhaps screeched before taking high and broad wing. A flock of birds fluttered in confusion across the sky. Somewhere, someone wondered What was that? The cattle jolted to attention, surprised, perhaps turned their heads in the direction.  But the sound had sliced across the horizon by then. Seeing nothing, they returned to their grazing.  A warm breeze blew across the grass, a few low hanging leaves were lifted.  The sun reflected golden on the ripples circling outward across the water. Silence flooded the land again. The clouds moved, the earth sighed. 

The facts are these:  A woman took her life yesterday.  Her body was found today.  A family is broken, parents' lives shattered.  Depression is a dark place and suicide a desperate option.  I've heard it said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. For those left behind, suicide is a permanent heartache.  There is help, there is always help.  1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


The two birds built their nest in an empty breaker box on the exterior of the office building. The box's metal door was stuck open, creating a slanted roof that provided  protection from the rain and shade in the afternoon sun. They chose well. I first noticed the pair busily building their nest, flying from here to there with twigs, fibers, bits of grass.  One, the other, both... swooping beneath the metal door and weaving the home for her eggs.  Soon enough, only one bird flitted out, in, out. Sometimes a piece of straw or grass was in its beak, sometimes a wiggling worm.  I stood there for a few minutes each day, watching, smiling. 

Soon enough, the young ones arrived. I never saw them but I did hear them. I heard their hunger and I heard their appreciation. I learned to hear the difference between desperation and appreciation. The parents were attentive. He or she at times arriving at the breaker box at the same time, seeming arguing for space, one giving the food to another, beak to beak, and then flying off in search of more food. A few times, the late arriver would swoop in, see the other there, and fly to the roof just above and wait for the other to fly off and chance to drop down and feed the chicks. I could see the unfortunate worm wiggling in its beak.

Weeks of this, weeks of walking outside on my breaks to watch these two parents care for their family.

Today, they were gone. I noticed the silence first, then I focused on the lack of movement. I had wondered how the parents would teach the chicks to fly.  How could they fly from breaker box to building roof? I wondered if the first flight would be tragic, would a chick fall to the heat of the parking lot below? Had they taken safe flights at night, perhaps to a nearby tree?

I suppose I will never know.  But I do know that they have moved somewhere.  I do know that even in the parking lot of an office building, nature figures her way.

I love that about her.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

If you build it, they will tag

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I weave my way through some messed up city construction.  Seems the powers that be want to work on a main road and the freeway that intersects it.  Fine, I know my way around closed entrance ramps and three-lane roads narrowed to two lanes during the busiest times of day. Part of the construction is very high along the feeder, or side roads, along the freeway.  Newly erected walls, wonderful beige blank surfaces on which to paint whatever it is you want to paint in order to make your mark. I have to wonder what the city was thinking by inviting it all.  It's been about a week since the walls were erected, still the frustrating road blocks are there because the road paving has not been completed, and yet those walls are already colored, tagged, designed, customized. I don't have a problem with street art, I actually like it.  But I do have a problem with gang marks and I have to wonder why a city as sophisticated and aware as Houston is would erect a canvas for what my taxes will surely pay, year after year, to be covered.  Along another freeway in this city, metal grids were erected and climbing ivy planted. Those walls?  Green with nature.  Seems that someone missed the lesson.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Being dragged kicking and screaming

Blogger has some new features, a whole lot of them on the back end.  I hate new features.  It's bad enough that the site I used to edit photos was purchased and shut down by Google, but coupled with Blogger, I'm feeling overwhelmed with the unfamiliar ground that change has me standing on.  I still have a Blackberry because I don't want to learn how to use an iPhone. Truth.  It has taken me several hours on Sunday and then a whole lot of hours tonight just to figure out how to change my template.  It's like learning the alphabet all over again.  I used to speak this language, but now? Not at all. That red font of the post title and comments? It's going to have to stay that way until I can figure out how to change the color.  The photo in the masthead? Over an hour to figure out how to crop it and add the text.  I'm not afraid of change, not at all, but I like my tools to work how I'm used to them working.  Darn progress is getting in my way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I guess I only thought that I had let you know I was taking April off, including the lack of a current masthead.  There's no reason beyond the pull of nature in the springtime.  See you in May.


Thursday, March 29, 2012


Versailles is a suburb of Paris.  That's the first thing I did not know.  The gardens and palace span just under a thousand acres.  I think I walked each and every one of those acres.  The pamphlet I had in my hand told me that walking from the palace to the end of the lake that divides the gardens would take one hour.  I didn't know that either before we set out that day but I was so happy that I wore comfortable shoes.  Those shoes may have shouted tourist but then again so too did my camera and my language.

The palace and gardens at Versailles are beyond opulent by any standards.  It's really no wonder why the people stormed the palace.  They couldn't even afford to buy bread.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I had definite plans for Saturday. After my morning coffee, I was going to put the dogs in the car and take them to the dog park for a long stretch of outdoor exploring and running around. I was going to do take Cheyenne to the vet to get her nails clipped, do some laundry and run some necessary errands. I was going to have dinner with a dear friend who I haven't seen in a while. 

But as soon as I walked downstairs and opened Dixie's crate, all those plans evaporated. She hobbled out of her crate on three legs, not letting her back left leg touch the ground. I gently rubbed my hands on her leg to see where the problem was and she flinched and whimpered.

I made a cup of coffee and dialed her vet. They said to bring her in as soon as possible.  I set the cup of coffee on the kitchen counter, changed out of my pajamas, brushed my teeth, collared Dixie and off we went.  Dixie was in such discomfort that she whimpered much of the drive.

When the vet examined her, she felt around her leg and toes, specifically looking for a broken bone, and Dix seemed uncomfortable but for the most part was okay.  But when the vet rubbed on her hips, Dixie yelped. When she pulled her right leg back, she yelped again. The vet looked at me and said, that's not even the leg that's hurting her. I need to take some xrays to see what is going on.

Poor Dixie was so uncomfortable and stressed. The vet said they were going to sedate her for the xrays and also get some pain medicine in her. They sent me on my way and told me to come back later that afternoon.

I didn't expect what the vet reported to me.  At ten and a half months old, Dixie has severe hip dysplasia. The vet said it was the worst case she's seen in ten years.  She had to pop Dixie's femoral head back into the socket but the socket is extremely degraded, as you can see in the xray image. That top socket should be shaped like a "C" and not an opening parentheses (. 

I have a referral to the Surgery and Orthopedics department at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, which is a wonderful veterinary medical center here in Houston. They worked their magic on Cheyenne's throat earlier this year and I cannot say enough good things about the veterinarians and surgeons there.  However, they are very expensive.  Where Cheyenne's laryngeal paralysis was covered by her insurance, the insurance company won't cover Dixie's diagnosis or treatement because the issue is hereditary. (Yes, I have written her breeders to let them know about the issue.)  There are several surgical options and I'm not sure which will be best for Dixie or how much that will cost.  I'll soon learn though.

Right now, Dixie is on anti-inflammatories and pain medicine. She is acting completely normal and it is difficult to keep her from running around as usual because with her femoral head popped back in place, and the pain pills, she feels no pain or physical impairment at all. 

Keep her in your thoughts, please.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Le Musee du Louvre

Last week, when we arrived in Paris, we checked in at the hotel, dumped our bags in the room and went straight to The Louvre. Have you ever known someone who was so beautiful inside and out that you were never quite sure where to put your focus? The Louvre is like that.  I didn't expect to be as in awe of the buildings as I was the paintings and sculptures. The largest museum in the world, its beginning was as a fortress built to defend the Seine against the Normans and English in the 13th century. It is humbling just to walk its floors, and it is tempting to get lost in the beauty of the curves and lines of the stone walls and elegant stairways and archways leading you from one room to another. But then, then you glance around at the paintings hanging there and the statues and you see how perfect it all is, how history embraces history and sometimes stands back to allow the grace and glory of the partnership.


Venus de Milo


Psyche and Cupid


Needs no introduction


A portion of The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I


The Winged Victory of Samothrace


We spent six hours there. Six hours that went by in a flash.  Not enough to make any real familiarity with the Louvre, but it was a darn good start.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

La Tour Eiffel

In the morning fog.


By the light of a full moon.


Champagne bar at the top.


View from the top.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

So close, and yet

Tonight is the last night of my vacation. To the word, it has been wonderful. And oftentimes amusing. Take, for instance, this photo.  After we walked out of the train station in Versailles, and across the street to purchase our tickets to tour the Palace and gardens, we sat down on a bench to view the map and decide on our starting point.  I glanced up and saw this restaurant. For a brief moment I had absolutely no idea where I was.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Down memory lane

I used to work in this building. Top floor, Marketing department. A lot of work took place there, and a whole lot of fun.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Heading north

Gaye and I packed up our stuff Monday morning and loaded it all into her car and headed north on the wrong side of the road with her in the driver's seat on the wrong side of the car.  I am never quite comfortable being driven around this country because normally in the seat I'm sitting, I have control.  Also? The road signs may be in a language I recognize but they make no sense at all to me.  For instance, I am used to signs that say, Yield, whereas here they say, Let by.  Okay, makes sense when you think about it but still, what's wrong with yield?  Also? Stoplights go from red to yellow to green. I would not last five minutes behind the wheel over here.

On the way, we decided to stop in Winchester to visit the Winchester Cathedral. Through my mind rolled the Crosby, Stills and Nash song, Cathedral... I'm flying in Winchester cathedral, Sunlight pouring through the break of day.


It all began for the Cathedral in 635. I hate to sweep over so much history in so few words but a lot has happened since then. (Look at me with my broom!)



There are many, many people buried in the Cathedral. As you walk through the nave you are literally walking over the gravestones and graves of Bishops and Patron Saints and others connected to the church in ways I do not know. The stones are etched with brief obituaries. One that moved me to tears was inscriped with these words:  Here lies the perishable remains of Anne Poulter, who after five years of intense suffering, during which she retained undiminished the fortitude, benevolance, the ardent affections so pre-eminently remarkable in her character, died on the second day of December 1821 to the unbearable grief of the person who placed this stone.


The most recognizable name, or only recognizable name actually, was Jane Austen who was buried beneath the floor of the Cathedral in 1817. How humbling to stand before her stone. The inscription on her gravestone records her personal virtues and stoicism, but oddly no mention is made of her writing. In 1870, her nephew Edward wrote a memorial to his aunt, and used the proceeds to erect a brass plaque on the wall next to her grave. The inscription begins: Jane Austen, known to many by her writings…


Her grave is just before the plaque.


After we left the Cathedral we visited the Winchester Castle's Great Hall which is apparently the finest of the 13th century halls of medieval England. In that hall hangs the mysterious round table of the Once and Future King, Arthur.  If ever a story entered my heart and moved in to stay, it is that of Camelot.


The table top is enormous, 18 feet in diameter and weighing 2,600 pounds.  I learned that the first written accounts of the Arthurian story appeared in 1130 in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, which maintains that Merlin had the 15-year-old Arthur crowned at nearby Silchester.

The first mention of the Round Table is Robert Wace's Roman de Brut (1155), which says that Arthur seated his knights at a round table so that all should be equal. In Thomas Malory's Morte D'Arthur, the table is a wedding gift to Arthur from Guinevere's father, Leodegrance.

So much history, so much legend and myth.  I thought I could smell Jane Austen's perfume, hear King Arthur's voice, feel the steps of those walking before me.  It was a pretty awesome and worthwhile stop over.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Take a walk with me

Each time I've flown over the UK, I've looked out the plane window down at the English countryside and admired the order of the wood and stone fences, the lush green fields and pastures, the dots of villages. Whenever I've been here before it's been driven by work, which kept me in London, with a few side trips but nothing of any real length, but this trip is pure vacation and that has given me the opportunity to be out of the city. The friend I am visiting was my boss for a while at my old job.  She was layed off shortly after I was.  Her new job is located off the coast of Southern England, in Poole, Dorset, and so she kept her house in London and rented here.  On Saturday, I got my first true hands-on taste of the English countryside and coast.



Corfe Castle is just beyod these grazing sheep. The castle was built over 1,000 years ago.  Though a mere dot in this photo, it is absolutely enormous. Crumbling but still stately. The wind seems lonely at the castle, full of secrets and sorrow.


We drove through the countryside to Worth Matravers, in Purbecks, parked the car and set out for what I thought would be a little stroll but soon realized was a lengthy hike.


Yes, I did walk across all that green.  It is part of the National Trust, which is preserved and open to the public.


We walked down hills, through pastures, around villages, up hills, across a retired quarry where the stones that built St. Paul's Cathedral are from, up more hills, down more hills and right up to the sheer cliffs on the edge of the country.  This area is known as the Jurassic Coast and is a Geologist's playground with rocks dating 65 million years. For me though it was simply breathless.  And not just because I had walked the bottoms of my feet off to get there.




Tread softly, breathe deeply.


Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Oh, hello

This was taken yesterday afternoon, after a fantastic lunch of roasted vegetables and a bit of champagne at the Jazz Cafe.  The cafe is right on the beach but there was too much fog to actually see the water.  Still, it was lovely and moody and perfect to sit in the cafe by a warm fire and watch the chilly fog blow past the windows.


This morning, however, the fog was gone and the sun was shining.  I was actually able to see where I was.  The picture below was taken from the balcony of my friend's flat.  A lovely view, don't you think?