Category Archives: Think

April 9-10 –Going home

Once at the CDG airport we were pretty tired. Our luggage had gone through to LAX so we only had our carry on’s and large purses, but that was plenty. Unwilling to search for the shuttle to the hotel we grabbed a cab. The travel agency said the Marriot was closest to the airport, but we passed several on the way, including a Sheraton which is actually attached to the airport. At least it was only a 20E ride and about 15 minutes. The Marriott was lovely with the softest beds and pillows, ever. When we checked in I realized my Visa card was gone, so I had Terry cancel it. I am pretty sure I left it in a machine at the Genoa Airport. We watched TV and caught the finale of Britain’s The Voice and then slept hard till morning.

We had coffee and caught the 8am bus for our 10:30 departure. The airport security was miles long and they decided my bag was too heavy. As Carolyn continued I had to go way back to turn in my bag. Good news, because it was a connecting flight there was no charge. Back at the first check point, they let me thru a shortcut and then I was on my way to find Carolyn. The lines were all moving so slow that I actually caught up to her. We boarded promptly and took off on time. Carolyn had bought some more gifts at the airport. On the plane, we were in the bulkhead with a man in the seat between us. Oh well, I am not sitting in the middle, so that’s the way it goes.

We had some ok food, chicken and cous cous and other stuff I ignored. I would really love a sweet right now, but have none.

My wonderful Bose ear buds ran out of charge and the noise on the plane seems so much more awful than normal, since I had a couple of hours of relative silence. I watched the Good Dinosaur, which I though was cute. It is a simple adventure story, no reason for the critics to be so harsh.

I ended up watching animated films all the way home. I did find ice cream bars when I walked around the planes kitchen. I got one each for me, Carolyn, and our seat partner. I also got coffee for all of us. Carolyn and I later spent some time in the kitchen stretching our legs and being entertained by a charming baby named Santiago.

Landing at LAX was quick but getting off the plane took a long time. Most people waited their turn, but some people shoved forward. We had to go thru customs, I was able to text Terry once before customs area blocked all cell use. The line was long but moved fairly quickly. It was interesting to see how the custom officers talked with some people a long time and just gave a quick nod to others. There was a large high school group on our plan and lots of overexcited parents waiting for them. The parents behaved as if the kids were being released from a kidnapping situation, lol. We finally got through and found all of our suitcases. Terry was waiting for us outside, he went to get the car while we waited curbside. The place was packed and it was frustrating for Terry to get to us. LAX is just too big and too messy.

We dropped Carolyn off and when we got home I managed to stay awake until 5:30, then I was out until morning.

All in all, a good trip, interesting sights cool souvenirs.

April 8 – ROME!!!!!!!!!

We woke up at 7:30, went to the buffet for breakfast and coffee. Then we went to our cabin for our stuff and met Linda and Larry at the bus meeting point. Our bus was C-12 and the trip was called Rome Total Freedom! The guide pointed put a few interesting sights on the way. Mostly it was farmland and lots of sheep.

As we entered Rome I was very excited, to see such old buildings, to know that people of myth and real life stood by these building so many years ago. Walking the same roads as Plato and Aristotle and Socrates. WOW!

Our bus dropped us off by the Theatro Marchano (sorry about spelling). Our guide also sold us each a “hop on hop off” bus ticket for the yellow bus. We went straight across the street to a café to use the restroom, and of course buy something for the privilege. I got a capichano and a tiny 2017 calendar with Rome pictures for 1E.

We walked a short distance, with my camera snapping frantically. Old buildings everywhere I looked, the history is so amazing, I can’t get over it. I feel like a character in a book, not as if I am really here.

We caught the bus and went to the coliseum. I cannot adequately describe the sensations I felt as I looked at this massive structure. Long before America, long before England, long before everything, this was built with hand tools and abilities that hardly existed anywhere on the planet. After staring hard and taking many pictures, we got on the bus again and headed for the Tivoli (?) Fountain.

On the way, we stopped for a bite. Larry and Linda shared a pizza and Carolyn and I each had gelato. Mine was a HUGE sundae, for 14E. My sundae had chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip, lemon, whip cream, 4 cookies and bits of chocolate. Carolyn had a massive cone for 12E. Oh yeah, worth every penny!

With happy tummys we continued to the fountain. It has been recently refurbished and was sparkling white. I gently pushed through the crowd and got my picture taken as I tossed a coin over my shoulder. I would dearly love to return. From there we walked to the Spanish Steps. They are currently undergoing refurbishment, so they are fenced off, but with clear plastic panels, so you could see them. More pictures and I happily remembered the car bouncing down those steps in the great old movie “The Great Race”.

By now we had walked a lot and still had to get back to the bus by 4:45. With the help of a map and a few kind Italians we began the trek back. It was pretty far. We stopped for a restroom and more gelato. I had a coffee flavor, Carolyn passed and the others got gelato also. Carolyn and I began to lag far behind as we continued to the bus. Larry assured us he would not let us be left behind. As it turned out we got to the bus on time, as did everyone else.

I know I saw other wonderful sights, but I need to see my pictures for descriptions. I also bought two packets, for 1E each, of bookmarks fixed together like a calendar, very cool. I now have 24 bookmarks!

The drive back was about 90 minutes. Lots of passengers slept. When we got to port we had to park far from the ship, it was no fun to walk far again and security did not even check us. We went straight into dinner, all of us about 30 minutes late. We talked hard to each other, all agreed that meeting each other was a high point of the trip and we hope to continue our friendships. We took a group picture, with everyone’s cameras and after many hugs, said good night.

In the room, we finished packing and put our suitcases in the hall. We must be out of the room by 8 tomorrow and our transfer to the Genoa airport is at 10:15. Our flight leaves Genoa at 5:45pm and we arrive at CDG at 7:20pm. The travel agency made us a reservation at the CDG Airport Marriott. The cost is $125 and we expect our insurance to reimburse us for it. There is also a free hotel shuttle. Sunday morning we leave CDG at 10:30 am and arrive at LAX at 1pm  on Sunday – home sweet home.

I will add pictures to this and update some things once I have had a chance to hug my husband and pet my dog and get some sleep. I have so enjoyed having you all with me on this wonderful journey.

April 1 – Tangier, Morocco

We had called for a 7:30 wake up but what we got was a 6:15 wake up and we were rushing about before we realized the time. Our phones refuse to be on Morocco time so a wake up call seemed like a good idea. Oh well. We had time to get read and have a bite to eat and stroll over to Deck 5 to meet with the group. Unfortunately I left the tickets in the room so RAN back, went the wrong way and was gasping for air by the time I got back to Carolyn. She was chatting with Irene and Bobbi, sister-in laws who we enjoy talking to, when they are not bickering and sniping at each other. The four of us had our canes out as we walked a pretty long distance to board the bus.

On the bus we saw our dinner companions Linda and Larry. We sat behind them and enjoyed chatting now and then. Also on our tour was a very tall man, he had been the main reason we did not lose the tour in Barcelona, cause we could always see him, surrounded by his wife and kids. Also, Nicky, a Costa crew member was with us.

On the bus our guide began to talk, only in English, which was nice and he talked and talked. He used the word please as a punctuation mark, it was both funny and charming. He worked very hard at convincing us that Tangier is a very happy, diverse city where Jews and Arabs and Spaniards and everyone gets along. It was obviously important to him that we not be afraid and we go home to spread the word. He always pointed out the various religious buildings from synagogues, to churches to mosques. As I have always believed, when you look at these people, they are like us, with jobs and families and pets. Speaking of which, we saw at least 30 street cats. Unlike ours back home, they are not at all shy and lie in the sun and wander wherever they please. Most look sleek and well fed. I did see a dog on a leash but it was in dreadful condition and I quickly looked away. It was filthy and seemed very unhappy.

Tangier is a very pretty city, many white houses on hills, like in pictures from Greece. He kept comparing Tangier to California; the weather, the beaches, the American cars, the fancy homes of the rich, it was all California. We Californians were pretty amused.

Our first stop was the Kasbah. Unlike an Aladdin movie, this place is simply where people live, mostly poor people. He showed us the public fountain because most people do not have running water or electricity. This was picturesque and interesting and the walking was reasonable. I enjoyed this first time with my cane, not for balance, I was going pretty slow, but it was nice for up hill. I need to get a strap for my cane to put on my wrist.

Next we went to the Medina, the SHOPPING!!! Here was the part I both looked forward to and was afraid of, where the peddlers are in your face. It was fun, sometimes you had to say NO! in a loud, angry voice but mostly a few regular no and no thank you’s would suffice. I wanted to make a purchase from a peddler so I bought a bracelet for 10E and $2. I also bought a surprise for my sister Candy, so I can’t tell here.

But I must talk about Yasene (this is how he said it, spelling? No idea). He was always at the back of the group and became a personal guide for Carolyn and I. He never let us get far behind and he carried things for us and he was a darling. Yes, we know he gets cuts from the stores, but so what? He was incredibly helpful and kind. He made the trip perfect!

One of the nicer homes we walked past had been owned by Barbara Hutton and was currently owned by Margaret Atwood. We also passed a book shop and the owner was kind enough to step out so we could take a picture. They do NOT want their pictures taken. Yasene laughed and said just take it quick and rush away, but Carolyn and I did not bother people.

We stopped at a spice shop and one of the items was REAL Moroccan argon oil, I bought some as well as some Orange Blossom oil and a spice to stop snoring. The spice shop man also showed us a spice that takes off 10 pounds in 20 days, but I don’t think anyone bought it. Carolyn also made some purchases, but they are a surprise.

We then walked through a food market, lots of olives and skinned animals hanging from the racks. I saw, for the second time that day, a tall pile of very large, round breads, about the size of a medium pizza. “I want that” I said to Yasene and he bought it for me, called it a present. It was delicious, I offered it to many on the tour and we tore of hunks and munched as we walked. I could live on that bread, mmmmmmmmm!

The next stop was a very large store that sold a wide variety of quality items and accepted credit cards. Upstairs I was tempted and splurged on the purchase of a lovely Moroccan carpet, Carolyn who is familiar with these carpets knew it was authentic and that the price was very low compared to what it would be in the states. They packaged it in the most amazing way, it is heavy but so small and a young man sewed the package closed with a big needle and string. That alone was fascinating.

By now we were pretty tired, we had walked a long way and were “attacked” by peddlers every step. Irene said NO in a way that really sent them scurrying. I began saying “I don’t like it” to everything I was shown, that made the peddlers sad.

The money thing was odd because the peddlers will take anything, dollars or Euros or whatever. We had no need of Moroccan money.

We finally got back to the bus, after almost 3 hours, but we were not done. We exchanged a fond goodbye with Yasene, and tipped him very well. He had been carrying all of our purchases and handed them off to the tour guide so we did not need to carry them to the bus. Such a great guy. He seemed to know everyone we saw and when I asked him, he said everyone knew him, he was like coca cola. He also said he is a friend of Rick Steves and is in his books. (Every time we briefly lost sight of Yasene, Carolyn was sure he was off selling our stuff, but of course he was not).

We went on a drive through the “Beverly Hills” of Tangier to admire the beautiful homes. We saw camels by the side of the road but they were only there for tourists and we did not stop. A lot of this drive was along a beautiful coast line, off the Atlantic. We could see the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance. We had a very brief stop at a high point for pictures but the ocean looks pretty much the same from everywhere. Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery, darn me for forgetting to charge it, and though Carolyn still had some battery life in her camera, it is not a fast shot. I missed some photo ops but it had worked most of the time.

Our next stop was a cave that Hercules built, or so they said. It was a steep downhill with a climb to come back so Carolyn stayed in a small side place and watched some drummers. The cave was especially interesting because it had the ocean water of different countries that had flowed into it. Depending on where you stood in the massive cavern, you were in a different country.

Our final stop was a beautiful hotel called ________. Out by the pool they had real Moroccan tea for us and cookies. The tea was warm and very sweet, I loved it. The cookies were ok but they were gobbled up. There were also very nice, western style bathrooms for us. We sat around a lovely pool and enjoyed the respite. If I were to stay in Tangier, which I doubt I ever will, this is the hotel for me. The big downside is the strong smoke smell, but they probably had smoke free rooms for westerners.

And then, back to the ship. The guards at the harbor gate actually looked under the bus with mirrors before they let us through. In spite of this the busses are not allowed too close to the ship so we had a long walk. My carpet is very heavy and I was glad to get to the room and drop it.

Carolyn and I went to the buffet, which they had kept open because the busses were late. I had a drumstick and a few potatoes and Carolyn had a salad and we both had a few bites of pizza (bleh). The ice cream machine is still broken and though we should be grateful to avoid the calories, we are not! Then goodness for ice cream for dessert and I brought jujubes which we both snack on.

Carolyn is in the room, on the balcony reading and enjoying the sunshine. I went to the internet café to send yesterdays blog. I am now sitting in a salon where there is usually dancing. While I type they are playing quiz games. The first was a geography one and then a cute on where they showed pictures of people in traditional costumes and the participants need to guess the country. Sitting near me are two men I waited in the long excursion line with. They speak no English and I no French but we became friendly anyway. They are playing the game and I guess along with them.

Tonight, after dinner, we are done! We need to rest up for Casablanca tomorrow and I need to download our photos.

A Tribute To My Friend Ted

40 years ago I met two remarkable men who changed my life. One, my husband Terry. The other, my hairstylist Theodore “Ted” Gonzalez.  Ted was a wild guy when I met him, working in a very “ladies who lunch” salon. My good friend Donna had recommended him when she heard me bemoaning my unruly curls. As I walked into the salon, I felt both hope and doubt. Ted was delighted to meet me, loved my hair, and snapping a pair of scissors in what seemed a most hap-hazzard manner gave me the best haircut of my life. When I looked in the mirror I felt, for the first time in my 20 years, pretty. I decided Ted was a genius and others shared that opinion, he won  first place at the World Hair Show  so many years in a row that they asked him to stop entering and become a judge. Ted was fixture in my life. I saw him every 6-10 weeks and always left knowing I looked my best. Ted styled my hair and Terry’s hair for our wedding. He got to meet my mom and they were a pair of silly, giggling kids when they got together.  When some grey appeared, Ted choose a color and to help me financially he taught me to color my own hair. In the entire 40 years I have known Ted I only had my hair cut by another person once, and that was when I was in Paris for 3 months. Ted was not just an expert with hair, he also collected period and designer clothing and in the last few years has spoken at colleges and design schools about the history of clothes. He has had some of his collection displayed at museums. He also collected jewelry, and was a flamboyant wearer of rings, necklaces and bracelets. For the last few months, a few other of Ted’s long term clients and I have been helping him with Dr. appointments and treatments when it was discovered he had terminal cancer. We had a surprise dinner for him for his birthday. In typical Ted fashion, he brought a gift for each of us. On Dr. visits, I loved seeing him and going to lunch after an appointment, but soon he began to suffer a great deal. All of us were in despair to see him so. The radiation and chemo had not worked and he faded before our eyes. About a week ago he went to stay with his niece and nephew’s mom. They arranged for home hospice care. This morning, June 4, 2015, Ted passed away. His suffering has ended, but his impact on my life has not. I will remember him and miss him. And always say, “I had the best hairstylist in the world”.                                                               IMG_1264

Montebello Junior High – 1969

Montebello Junior High – 1969

I was in the last class to attend school in the beautiful red brick building before it was torn down for earthquake concerns. Many of us fought and protested, but as usual, money concerns came first and so our beautiful building was demolished and the new “prison like”, windowless structure was built. I found these two tributes I had written for the school paper and a photo of our charming, old school.

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A Fond Farewell

This year is a sad one for many students, especially the 9th graders. We came to MJH young and eager to learn. The last 3 years seem to have flown by and all of us flew with them, growing from childhood to adolescence in a sometimes painful, sometimes sad, but always exciting way.

Now when we say goodbye, we are saying it not only to MJH as a school but as a good friend, for it will never be the same. Soon there will be a whole set of safe, modern, spacious buildings but in our hearts MJH will always be an old, but beautiful red brick building. Farewell MJH, you will not be forgotten.

April 23, 1969

Dear A Building,

This is one on the saddest letters I have ever written.

This letter is written to say goodbye. Yes, we the 9th graders are finally leaving and you, our good friend, are facing death. Oh we will not forget your beauty or your kindness. Or that welcome feeling you gave us when we first arrived at 7th graders.

Stand proud, dear school and when the blows begin to fall, feel no pain, for you cannot die, you will live forever in our hearts.

Love, the 9th graders

April 23, 1969

Showers or Flowers

California is in an awful drought. I think many people don’t realize how bad it is because water is so essential and we have “always” had enough.
My husband and I already use very little water, but we let our lawns die and will be moving to a drought tolerant landscape soon. Just not watering the lawns cut our bill by 50%.
I love green lawns and flowers and trees very much. I also love taking a shower, washing my clothes and flushing the toilet. If we can’t have both, then I vote for showers, we can buy flowers from another state.
California is a desert and people need to accept that and make some changes. And being grouchy at farmers is silly because we eat what they grow.
Whether or not you want to believe in climate change, the weather in California is different and we need to do different things.
I will post pictures of my drought tolerant yard when the landscaping is done.
Get out there and get those rebates and change those lawns to something beautiful that uses less water. It can be done.

 

No snowpack, low water and the last one is Shasta Lake!

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Hard or Easy? A Whining Blog

Some chores in regular adult life are fairly easy. Some are pretty difficult and time consuming. I have come to realize that I just want to avoid chore, difficulty does not seem to come into the question.

Taxes, blah! Paperwork on top of paperwork, only to end up sending the government more money. And the chore of checking out the bank statement and paying bills. Making a note on the bill to show when it was paid. Leaning over and putting the bill in the bill drawer. Yuck. I used to think, back when we were really poor, that once I could afford to pay my bills it would not be such a chore to do them. I was wrong.

 

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Since I am retired, many chores should be easy. Going to the market, getting gas, picking up a birthday card. I have the time and know it needs to be done, but I still procrastinate.

 

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I have worked since I was 14 and now, 40 plus years later, I have discovered the joy of sleeping late, putting things off till tomorrow and reading all day long. Sitting with my coffee, reading NPR news and taking my time is such a pleasure. My dog and my brain demand that I go for a walk, but the rest of me just sits.

I open every envelope that arrives, I throw the envelopes away and place the bills on my desk. Then I run away instead of taking that small next step of opening my computer and paying the bills. I get to them before they are late, but oh it is hard.

Supervising a web site for my friend, no problem. Doing work for my charitable organization is fun. Cleaning out a closet, or a box is a great use of time. But the real life things that are required, those I find hard to get to and when I do get to them it is with great reluctance.

So, is this just a bunch of whining? Sure, but it’s my blog so why not.

The Few Who Ruin Things For The Many

(Of course terrorists do this, but I am thinking about day to day life.)

The two teachers who came to school late every day, so the principal called a meeting and lectured all of us on the importance of being on time.

The lady who got angry and called the city to complain about something that in no way affected her and by doing this phone call, put a person completely out of business.

The man at the airport who waited until he was told to take off his belt, take out his lap top, remove the liquids; causing all of us to wait and wait.

The person who is missing their freeway exit so they cut wildly across lanes, maybe or maybe not causing an accident.

The people who pass bad checks to small businesses forcing them to accept cash only.

People who are so worried about their car that they take up two spaces. When I am worried about my car, I park in the far away empty spaces, but not these “the world owes me” types.

What are your favorites / worst?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the book ALWAYS better?

I would say the book is always better than the movie if anyone asked me. But the truth is, I have seen some movies that I enjoyed more than the book.

 

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The animated film, “How To Train Your Dragon” was so enjoyable that I bought the book it was based on. I don’t really care for the book, it’s characters do not have the same charm or emotional pull that I found in the movies. The main dragon in the book is tiny and not very friendly, while Toothless, the main dragon in the movie is very charming and has a wicked sense of humor. All of the fun names in the movie are taken from the book, as is the premise, but in this case, I like the movie better.

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Another example is the play “Wicked”. I rushed out to buy the book the day after I saw the play. I really did not like the book. I thought was was written in a very pompous manner, was way too long and had a terrible ending. The play on the other hand is a hit for good reason. The characters are charming, the story is fun, funny and thought provoking; a hard mix. And the Play has a terrific ending. I disliked the book so much I refused to keep it in my house!

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I liked the movie Julia and Julia better than the book, I found the younger Julia to be very unkind in the book and I did not like her.

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Now, the Harry Potter books were also made into movies. Most of my Harry Potter book buddies enjoyed the movies very much. I have only seen two completely and bits and pieces of the others. I think the characters are all very well cast, though I thought Umbridge, Prof. Lupine and Mr. Weasly looked very different than I (with JK’s help) imagined. My problem with the movies was the stuff they changed and the parts they left out. I could list dozens of scenes and moments when I thought the book far superior and was angry at what was left out, but I will just mention one. In my mind the most horrifying change was when Dumbledore was killed. In the books, Dumbledore’s last act is to put a freezing spell on Harry to keep him safe. Because of this spell Harry was forced into helplessness when Dumbledore was killed. The Harry Potter in the books would NEVER have stood by, as Harry did in the movie, and let a friend be harmed.

 

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Books and movies all have their place and many movies, especially the older ones, have done an amazing job of bringing books to life. I believe that most of the time the book will be better, but now and then, perhaps the movie / play capture the story in a way that makes it more relatable and enjoyable.

 

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

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Yes, I thought the books were awful, repetitious, silly and cluttered. I have no interest in the movie. I agree with everyone who is criticizing the book and the movie and pointing out the damage it can do to impressionable young girls. (I read extremely fast so I read it all)

That said, stuff like this, good, bad, or disgusting, is erotica / porn. Erotica / Porn does not belong on best seller lists, does not belong in the display window of Barnes and Noble, and does not belong in our neighborhood theatre.

I have nothing against erotica /porn, I know some consider it anti feminist, but I admit to liking some, especially when it is well written. Anne Rice has written some fun stuff and her Sleeping Beauty series is not only sexy, it plays with both men and women and is obviously fantasy. Some of her other erotica is pretty good also. I like much of the modern “naughty” vampire genre, also fun and also fantasy.

We should not have to be worrying about what our kids will think when / if they read / see Fifty Shades, because Fifty Shades should not be casually popularized.

I think the popularity of the books speaks to how “hung up” many couples are in the bedroom. If they were more uninhibited and playful they would have seen the book for what it was, poor writing, limited vocabulary, weak plot, ridiculous side story line and horrible, repetitious sex scenes.

I taught Health and Sex Education to Jr high students for 25 years and I know that they are already exposed to far too much sexuality. They misinterpret much of what they see and hear. They believe things about sex that are just not realistic and they have very skewed ideas of bedroom behavior, sounds, smells and the human body. A movie like this just adds to that confusion.

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I grew up without brothers and I was always extremely curious what a penis looked like. There was no internet, cable TV or naked men in Playboy. As a young adult I got my first look in person. Today, kids can satisfy their curiosity with a quick Google search, but unfortunately they can too easily go way beyond into areas they are not equipped to understand.

I am not in favor of censoring or banning books that are sexually explicit, I am in favor of keeping it where it belongs, and that is not on best seller lists or neighborhood billboards.