Thursday, February 04, 2016


At age 57,
you will realize
you've passed through the midway point on the continuum
of youthful years spent yearning and reaching for what you desire,
and later years where one's focus
is on gracefully letting go of mounting losses.
Releasing ones grasp.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I'm baaaaaaaaaackkkk

... and aching to write again.

Or, is that ache actually the arthritis.

Right hand arthritis.  Bad for mornings.  You expect that your right hand will be your right hand and behave like your right hand, and serve you like your right hand has tended to do all your life. Then, one morning, you watch as your right hand reaches for your mug of coffee for that delicious, delightful first morning sip, but it delays.  The open motion and the grasping motion, are troubled. One might even stay that Right Hand has stumbled.  Bother that!

Bother the spilled coffee.  Bother the ache.

Wait, what's that?  Left ankle?  Now left ankle demands attention?  What have I ever done to deserve this from left ankle? Fine.  I am not going to be thoughtless.  I shall wrap left ankle in warm, cozy sock so that we can saunter off into the misty morning for daily saunter.

Sauntering, sauntering...  Gloomy day, but there's beauty in it too. Singing birds, skittering squirrels. Pretty, promising day.  Oh, here's that curb, no handicapped slope here.  Lovely, I feel like jumping off it, like a child -- naturally looking both ways first. Or sprinting, skipping even, loving the day. Hey!  Right knee.  Please tell me what that was all about?  You bout near dropped me to the pavement.  Don't do that again, or I shall be keeping you indoors much more often.

Huh.  How old am I?

Monday, October 29, 2012

I am all real estate, all the time.

As if a personal life is such a great thing...  I have my Hamish.  I phone my children, sisters and parents between appointments, open houses and escrow closings.  I have my herbal tea and New Yorker subscription to help me wind down before sleep.  It's all good...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A delightful way to search for real property in Southern California, don't you think?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Delayed Part III of our Ireland/UK Adventure

It's now April 28, 2012 and this trip is just going so fast.  And, we've just now found the most beautiful spot in the world!

When last I wrote, we were on a train to Tralee where we were to pick up our rental car, and then risk life and limb driving in Ireland where no credit card company would insure us, driving on the wrong side of the exceedingly narrow roads.  I do believe that our elder's prayers are what delayed us getting the car which was supposed to be ready at 3:15, but which we didn't take possession of until 6:30 p.m.  But, miracle of miracles we did manage to make the one hour drive into Dingle before sunset.  Cindy took the first shift driving on the wrong side of the road, and she did pretty well, only nicking the left front tire seriously once or twice.  The man at the rental car threw in a GPS for free to compensate us for the delay, and, oddly it started to shriek halfway to Dingle "Blimey,  woman, get into the center of the lane or you'll have us all killed!

The town,  as we came upon it, was a storybook vision of rolling hills, divided into a patchwork of grasses, sectioned off by trees and stone walls ensuring that sheep and cows and horses stayed where they were put.  The Bay of Dingle shimmering, the Ocean off in the distance.  Just perfect.  And, what was remarkable was how the many little homes looked exactly like the houses and hotels from a Monopoly game, except they were appropriately painted. 

Our hotel was wonderful, wonderful.  A civilized vision of an inn.  I don't know what we were supposed to take away from the fact that our in-room desk was laid with a copy of Louisa M. Alcott's "Good Wives"...

After settling in to the room, we ambled along the bay and up a hill to a restaurant that offered fresh local fare -- fish, fish, fish from the local working dock.  We were entertained throughout our meal by a group of four older, Irish women who were seemingly dignified when we arrived, but increasingly sauced as the meal continued.  One offering up a round of Irish Coffees, two vehemently declining...  Our meal was wonderful especially the flavourful warm breads and butter.  I had a duo John Dorry and Red Mullet and a smear of garlic potatoes which was scrumptuous. 

I don’t really remember much of the walk back to the inn, aside from jack frost nipping at my nose.  We tumbled into bed as soon as we arrived (well, truth be told, we did brush our teeth first, we’re not heathens, you know).

After a delightful night's rest, we followed our noses downstairs just as breakfast was being served which included a buffet of so many lovely things -- cereals, fruits, and a warm, fresh-from-the-oven bread and butter pudding.  I was brave and when they took our kitchen order I chose kippers and scrambled eggs.  Kippers are a smoked fish.  Bully for me.  When it arrived, the kippers laid out with twisted lemon slices and a crown shaped offering of scrambled eggs, I carefully stuck in my fork, and by golly, I can see where many people might find these kippers to be quite good.  One taste was enough for me.

Note to all travelers, it would appear that in Scotland, the finer establishments warm the milk they serve you for your coffee.  Not so in Ireland. 

After a nice stroll through the delightful town of Dingle,...woolen shops, dock full of gorgeous fishing boats, linen shops, restaurants, local jewelry maker shops, we packed our bags, weeping silently to be leaving this darling hotel and this wonderful, magical town, to drive the Ring of Kerry.  I took the wheel this time, and Cindy struggled to navigate with a map laid out for us by the hotelier.  On the drive, we continually marveled at the scenery, the sheep, the cows, the horses, the green pastures, the blue, blue water.  No, Papa, we weren't fighting.  We never found our hiking destination, and abandoned that plan at a golf course where the local golf pro directed us to a path through the course, through the pastures and out to the soft sand beach facing the roiling blue ocean.  So, so, so beautiful.  I took many wonderful photos (which I was unable to upload to the iPad ...dang...I'll show you later...Cindy posted some shots on Instagram, so you can enjoy the substance there).

After we'd rung the Ring of Kerry entirely, we stopped in the town of Dingle one last time and I indulged in a wee cup of ice cream at world famous Murphy's Ice Cream -- I tried two flavours and settled on Carmelized Brown Bread.  Really yummy.  We filled the tank of the beast of a car -- 60 Euros!!!!  And traveled down to the town of Killarney where we found our last minute hotel find, the Killarney Park Hotel (& Spa).  They took one look at Cindy and my windblown faces and determined that, by golly, they should upgrade these ladies to a suite.  And they did!

We dined at the hotel restaurant, which was superb.   There was a woman playing the oddest songs on the piano, like a melodic, sophisticated versions of 'ladies night' and 'the farmer and the cowman should be friends'... the place was filled with mostly gabby Irish groups and the service was friendly and impeccable.  Loved it.  Cindy had a fish platter, I enjoyed the Kerry Lamb with aubergine risotto and black pudding.  The black pudding was served up in little cubes.  It was all fantastic.  Cindy had been eyeing the onion rings as they went by our tables, and at the end of the meal I asked our darling waitress if she would bring Cindy just one. 

Just one. 

She, instead brought us a whole serving gratis, which we nibbled at.  When we were done with our meal and were headed out, the sweetheart headed us off with a plate of chocolate truffles, urging us to take them to our room if we didn't wish to have them then.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

I don't know if I've pointed this out, but the sun doesn't set here to nearly 9 p.m., so though our days have been long and late, it doesn't feel that way because the sun is hiding for so few hours. 

Oh no!!!  it's now April 29 and our holiday is nearly over!  I don't want to go home.  We have absolutely found paradise here in Ireland, and I don't know why anyone would leave this beautiful, peaceful, cheerful place.

We pack up from here and head for Cork. 


Oh, the sadness, the terrible sadness of leaving the one you've grown to love.

I'm on my flight from London back to Los Angeles and am as bereaved as can be over leaving magical, beautiful Ireland and wonderful, lovely Great Britain. Before I land, here is the last of our trip.

After our night in Killarney we sadly left the grand hotel with the impeccable service and, with me at the wheel of our oversized rental vehicle, on the often narrow and winding Irish roads, traveled Eastward to Kinsale.  Yes, the scenery was again beautiful, mostly blue skies, fluffy clouds, scattered raindrops clearing to blue skies. The landscape changed from the patchwork quilt pastures with sheep, to rocky ledges and sheer drop offs, and then darker pastures with cows before leading us into the harbour town of Kinsale. 

The heavy rain that had been forecast for our entire holiday did finally begin to catch us
here as we ducked into the fabulous restaurant Fishy Fishy, which offered delicious fish freshly caught in the waters just off the dock.   Cindy felt it was time to sample the Irish beer and ordered a Murphy's Irish stout -- pronounced "Mairphees" --  I had a taste of the  dark colored stuff which was covered with a substantial head and delivered a meaty taste -- in my humble opinion.  After lunch, we shopped the darling town as the wind began to really pick up.  By the time we arrived in Cork it was blowing like the bejeezus.  

You might even say that an ill wind had blown in as well.  The hotel staff at Cork wasn't properly welcoming, rushing us off to our room which was dreadfully dreary, so much so that we asked to be changed to a room that wasn't quite so dark.  With much bustle and stiff intensity, they moved us over to a room that, though brighter was as cold as a crypt.  At this point we rang them up again and explained that we were really unsatisfied with the way things were going at this hotel, after such a perfect many stays at hotels around Europe.  Again, much bustle and getting back to us, as wind and rain whipped outside and whistled into the room which would not be heated.  Finally, satisfaction, the manager came to our room with two glasses of champagne with some peculiar, red berries floating on top, goodie bags of high-end toiletries and offers of many apologies.  We took the champagne, and I asked drily if the berries were poisonous She responded that she was sure that they weren't, not getting my little joke at all!  Within an hour we were ensconced in a room that was more to our liking.  

After recuperating from such a dreadful introduction to Cork, a very big city, actually, and a college town wherein the beautiful countryside had been paved over and was chock-a-block with buildings instead of sheep or cows or bunnies, although I did see a pair of swans enduring the drizzle on the River Lee,.. what was I saying? Ah, yes, after recuperating, we determined it was high time that we gave our ears a treat and headed off to a pub known to feature traditional Irish music.  We walked through the town, over the river Lee and found a muggy, crowded bar with 14 musicians all jamming together.  It was delightful. I made friends with a girl who sometimes plays accordion there, and is a transplant from Ohio.  She had been in Ireland for only a couple of years, but she had already picked up quite the Irish accent.  She explained to me who a couple of the key players were, including a local legendary lyricist, and a guy who played this odd version of bagpipes -- instead of blowing into pipes, he squeezes a bellows under one arm --and another bloke who had some kind of hand-drum the size of a very large tambourine.   My new friend explained that this was called a 'trad session' and that musicians can just pop in and join the group, if they know the songs.  Pretty darn fabulous. 

Next morning we trekked back down the city streets of Cork looking for unique shopping opportunities, but only found rain and a band of Amnesty International solicitors who wouldn't leave us alone.  The local Market was boring, and half empty, so we gave up, freshened up and pulled out the keys to our beast of a rental and ventured out to Ballymaloe in the rain. 

Thank goodness, that brought us back to the Ireland we'd come to know and love, the countryside.  We had a most delightful lunch at Ballymaloe after a bit of shopping in the fantastic gift shop.  My umbrella was blown inside out as we made it back to the car to travel further up the road to view the Ballymaloe Cookery School and adjoining gardens.

This morning it was up at 4 a.m. to return the rental car, catch our Aer Lingus flight to London Heathrow, then board our separate flights back to California.  We were both fortunate in that we did not have to endure a long day at Heathrow awaiting afternoon flights because both of us were able to get onboard an earlier flight; I am on mine now in my sweet little Virgin Atlantic fully flat bed, having napped after watching The Artist. 

I shall be home soon and hope I'm prepared for the culture shock of fewer men being gentlemen, warmer weather and hair that doesn't curl up most unbecomingly each time I venture outdoors. 

I never did get a chance to go horseback riding, nor did we kiss the Blarney Stone, or even view the Blarney Castle.  I didn't see Mary King's Close in Edinburgh or go on any of the ghost tours.    I guess I will have to plan another visit to Europe in the near future.

Cheers! (thats how they say farewell here)


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is Nothing.
[I was going to insert a photo of a dog resisting a bone here, but Hamish doesn't have the self restraint that I do.]

Monday, June 04, 2012

My UK/Ireland Vacation, Part II

Here's what's been going on in Scotland, where the sheep are funny and turn up in many different colours.  I have no idea what day it is. I do know that I am back in my hotel room at the Howard Hotel. I must tell you that we chose this hotel based on the website which earnestly and extravagantly extolled the benefits of their superior concierge staff. According to the site, there was no chore too big, or too small to ask of them -- shirt ironing, suit pressing, shoe polishing, packing and unpacking, minor laundry repairs, restaurant recommendations and booking, onward journey planning including online check in for air travel, collection of shopping or gifts, hosting drinks receptions in your room or private events suite!  So I knew it would be no problem for them to find me a doctor to write me a prescription for my Epipen, which had expired.  I figured that since it will cost me $240 to refill it in the states, I can see a doctor here, and pay for the prescription for less than half of that. Therefore, before retiring for the night, I asked the concierge service to find a physician for me to visit.   At my request, the woman at the front desk looked at me with Bambi eyes and the stuttering of a would-be king and replied that my request taxed her mental abilities and that she would have to look into it further.   She called upon her partner concierge who was in a hustle and bustle to help another guest and showed little optimism for my needs to be satisfied. I gave them further information and asked them to attend to it.

Imagine my surprise when I approached the concierge at noon the next day and the 'concierge' simply stated that she didn't know: ‘But, Mary might know, but I don't see her right now…’ 

I, with bag in hand was ready to go out for the day, and asked her quite  kindly to get off her damn duff and go find this Mary and see what they'd come up with. I'm not here for the week, you know.

Twenty minutes passed while she attended to the matter, and before the sun had set, I had an appointment to see a doctor at 5:30 p.m. which would costs me 60 pounds. The Epipen, as quoted by the Boots Pharmacy, would cost another 7 pounds so, I'd be way ahead on prescription costs in the USA.

Cindy and I trudged South up the road and toured Edinburgh Castle, which was quite fun. We paid the extra fee for the headphones and recordings tour. It's funny, but what we enjoyed most about the tour was the military prison, and the general prison. At the end of the tour, I declined to put in an offer on the Castle because there was a definite lack of kitchen facilities on view. Sure, there was that stone, bread-baking oven, but, can one live on bread alone? From there we got ripped off at the local gift shops on the Royal Mile, then trudged over to the doctors office.

The 15-minute walk to the doctor’s office estimated by that fabulous concierge was really a 30 minute walk. Nevertheless, being the seasoned travelers that Cindy and I are, we arrived just in time. I filled out forms and we were then directed to the waiting area, wherein Cindy got increasingly agitated by the sick people in attendance. Pretty soon I was called into the doctor's office, and told him my request, showed him my expired Epipen and asked for a refill. He asked if I was healthy otherwise, I responded that I was so healthy it was just wrong.  He asked if I was on any other medication, I responded of course not (not, that he would ever know, that is), and he wrote out the prescription.

From there Cindy and I went to David Bann's restaurant where we enjoyed a nice vegetarian meal (please God, let me have some meat) and I embarrassed the cooks by photographing them through the little access window. Cindy and I also again made note of the proper way that people eat here in the UK. They don't just bolt down their food like people in the U.S. do, and they certainly don't eat while strolling or driving. The have their fork in their left hand, they use their knife in their right hand to gently push food onto the fork, then deftly move the fork to their mouth. So damned civilized.

Cindy even counted the number of scrapes with knife to fork before each bite from one adjacent diner. Four to six. We intend to try to eat like that from now on. Then it was a walk back to the hotel in the drizzle where I made note of the Harvey Nicks store as we passed, for future reference.

Look how I’m speeding right through this!!!

Today we awoke in time to trudge back up the big hills and arrive just in time for the start of our bus tour of the Scottish Highlands and Lochs. I don't know if it was the lack of circulated air in the van (Mercedes) or what, but Cindy and I kept fighting to stay awake. We saw some marvelous castles and some beautiful lochs and I even managed to herd some sheep in an effort to photograph them near an abandoned castle. The rain was on and off all day. Our tour stopped for lunch at a lovely little fishing village and we chose a hotel restaurant for our midday meal.  They were quite busy and we had doubts that we’d be seated and supped in time to make it back to our bus at the appointed hour.  Learning of our dilemma the sweet hostess walked us through the building to the bar where we could order lunch from the same kitchen.  Fantastic.  I finally was able to enjoy some fish and chips and, my gosh, it was wonderful. The fish was so moist, the chips so crispy.   Plus, the entertainment!  The local old men draped over the bar were quite a hoot! You'd think these regulars actually owned the bar instead of just being patrons. They kept instructing the young female barkeep  on how to do things.  A hapless tourist mistakenly entered the back of the bar through a tiny door and they shouted at the poor woman to go away, then one of the regulars used his cane to reach through the bar and slam the door shut.  Loved it.

No big dinner tonight. Tomorrow, we plan to find a pharmacy that actually stocks Epipens, visit the Parliament Building and shop at Harvey Nicks. or is it Harvey Knicks? Does it matter? It's a department store that my hairdresser insists I visit.

Today’s our last day in Edinburgh, our last day in Scotland, so I decided that I'd better have some authentic Scottish food and some Scotch, or ‘Whiskey’ as they call it here. Unless someone lied to me.  

Cindy and I have worn out Edinburgh, definitely worn out the crap shops on the Royal Mile. The day started with a visit to Boots where I picked up two new Epipens. I come to find out that the prescription was more pricey than I'd been told, but still, even with the doctor visit, I obtained two Epipens for a total price of 143 pounds, (70 pounds for doctor visit, 73 pounds for two Epipens) that's $230 U.S. dollars. It would have cost me $480 for the two in the States. Ha!

After Boots we visited Harvey Nichols and enjoyed the lovely clothes, the ugly clothes, and the quite amusing food market and restaurants on the top floor. At the food counter, there was a little circling conveyor belt on which floated different deserts in front of the diners -- just like at one of those funny sushi bar.   On the other side of the floor, just past the fancy foods area, was a sushi bar, with sushi dishes drifting by. Funny.

Cindy looked for Celtic salt and I purchased a wee little gift for Ma. Next up, Cindy was hot to go to some baked potato take-away that she'd read about -- (so it must be great, right?) I foolishly purchased one with cheese which was filled with restaurant grade, non-melting cheese, and the whole mess cooled off immediately, so I nipped into some of the potato, then wrapped it up and shoved it into my bag. I should have stuck to my desire to visit an authentic pub for lunch...but, no....

We walked to the new Scottish Parliament building and enjoyed the beautiful architecture. We got tickets (free) to sit in on the afternoon session and it was pretty darn entertaining, I think. I enjoyed a debate on the state of women's correctional facilities and loved the way that Brits express their opinions during someone else's presentation by drumming on their desks. Funny. Human. The Scottish accent can be so very deep, but, when you get into the rhythm of it, you can do alright understanding it. The people I speak to here probably feel the same way about me and my speedy American expressions.

Afterwards we wandered some streets that we'd somehow managed to miss and wound up at a large dining hall with a great many rooms. The drill there is to go up to the 'till' at the bar, order your food and drink, take your drink, and tell them where you've planted yourself so that the server can find you and bring you your food. The place was pretty crowded -- especially for the early hour, 5 ish. I ordered a nice British Beef and Ale pie with mashed potatoes and ate most everything up. Yum. Meat! It was good for soaking up the wine and the wee bit of whiskey.

I ordered a shot of Glenfiddich, had a little sip, dramatically aired out my mouth and then settled back with a glass of Australian Chardonnay and realized that I'd had an epiphany.

I've decided that in my next life, in whatever World is set before me, I will enquire after an instruction book straightaway so that, next time, things will go a bit more smoothly. No, there is no established religion that talks about such a concept, but, as I said, I had an epiphany, and in this vision I feel that, just before I'm sucked into the new world where I'll spend who knows how many years...perhaps they won't even measure it in will be all so different...but before being thrown into my next life, I'll call out to God, or one of this messengers and say: "Eh, Pal? Can you give me the instruction book on how to do things right this time? And, make it quite quick, if you don't mind, because I need to absorb the knowledge completely just before landing naked in the new place.” I'll remember to do that. Perhaps one of the readers here will remind me of this plan on my deathbed so I'll have a better shot at achieving this new goal.

After that, we stumbled into some other precious stores -- Camper, Cath Kidson and Anthropologie, then returned to our little room to make arrangements to fly to Ireland first thing the next morning.
After flying into Dublin tomorrow, we will board a train for nearly 4 hours. Fun, fun, fun. We disembark in Tralee, the get a rental car which we will expertly steer out to Dingle. What a great name, right???

Cindy and I were tallying up and reviewing the hotels we've stayed in thus far. None have looked anything like they were advertised on the web. Ah, the genius of creative photography. But they've all been safe, cozy, adequate, and so far the bathroom never disappointed. In hotels number two and number three, we had heated towel racks which are a wonderful thing. But, neither of them worked. Poo. Let's see what happens in Ireland.

Good morning, it is now Friday, April 27, 2012 and it's been a long day already. Cindy and I had to get up before the crack of dawn to make our Aer Lingus flight from Edinburgh to Dublin. After checking our bags, we strolled through a lovely cosmetic and doodad shopping area, then found a table in the oversized bar/restaurant. The place was perfectly busy with men in kilts and team shirts drinking beer -- at 7:30 a.m.!!! I went to the till to order our breakfasts and waited for some kind busboy to clear the previous diner's rubbish from our table. That never happened, I bused the table myself. Oh well. I did my best to eat my scrambled eggs on toast the European way -- knife in right hand, fork in left hand, upside down, scrape food onto back of fork and bring it delicately to your mouth. Tricky business that! How will I ever get plump doing that?

It was one of those flights where you drag your things out onto the tarmac, then climb the stairs into the train. The stewardess was very sweet, especially in her demonstration to naughty travelers who put their suitcases in the overhead bins, but clearly failed to notice that it was too jammed for the bin door to close. She had long dark hair, and freckles up and down her arms, but Cindy let it be known that she was actually a natural redhead. She was quite cheerful under all conditions. We napped a bit on the one-hour flight, and then got the sweetest cab driver at the Dublin airport who was originally from Dingle. Nice, nice man.

He told us we'll really enjoy it there once we get used to the language…says they pretty much ‘sing’ to you when they are speaking, they don't know they are, but that's the way it is. We talked of politics, and his impression of Obama when he visited their country recently, 'seemed a nice enough man', then chatted about the many Republican candidates, the Eurozone, austerity measures, Brussels, Greece. When the rain started coming down on the cab his said: "here comes the soft day" -- what a lovely way to say that the rain is falling!

Once deposited at the train station we got our tickets, queued up for the train and were pleased to see our names in lights over our table seats facing each other. I am traveling backwards and am enjoying the countryside. We were joined by a couple who are taking the train to Cork for her brother's 60th birthday. She MUST be the older sister. I'm sorry to say that we weren't as welcoming as we should have been to them joining us at our table, but we were then into a week of travel, joined at the hip, and just not as gleeful as before. Bad us. To make matters a little more difficult, I tumbled a little onto the little metal strip between the seats and bruised my tailbone. 

More to come...including: rental car debacle, Cindy drives in Ireland and we arrive in the most beautiful, magical countryside in all creation.

not your usual Catalina Island shot

not your usual Catalina Island shot

fun with spelling

fun with spelling
downtown l.a.