More Niceness and This Time in Nice

I just have to add another note about the kindness of the French people. Glen and I have decided to lighten our load and send home a couple boxes of clothes. I tried packing up a box we had in the apartment, but the tape was bad and the box was broken and it just wasn’t working out. I knew there was a small post office a couple blocks away so I walked on over. When I came in the woman behind the counter came around the counter and asked me something in French. Duh. I’m in France. I said, “Anglais?” She scrunched up her face and waved her hands about and laughed and said, “No!” and she pointed to the gentleman behind the other counter who also came around to talk with me. I tried a couple words in French and he tried a couple words in English and I got out Google translate and voilà! I had a box and some customs papers to take home.

But wait. It gets better. I packed up the box, filled out the paperwork and went back with a couple questions. As I walked in, the gentleman was in a conversation with another customer, but as soon as he was done, he came back out and started singing “Hotel California”! Then he danced around as he took my box and paperwork and finished the mailing process. As he came back to where I was waiting I showed him my Google translate with “Is everything filled out correctly?” and he said, “Madam, I would not complete this process if it were not correct.” Or at least I think that’s what he said, because he said most of it in French.

And for my final post office transaction for the day, I asked to purchase another box. He said something like…ANOTHER? DEUX? And then he laughed as he went to get me another box all the while singing and dancing this time to another Eagles tune.

As I left, I asked if he would be there in the morning and he replied, “I will be here with my eyes closed because the light is long, but the night is short”. Or was it the other way around?

Who says the French are not nice? Can’t wait to see my buddy with his eyes closed tomorrow!

Photos Are So Wonderful

These photos taken at different times (obviously) are so revealing. And the one of Joyce is one of my top 5 photos I have of my most wonderful wife. She usually hates these photos I love.

Some of you know, as we have communicated privately with you, that we have decided to curtail this adventure and head home. Others will just be learning. And it is with both great and deep sadness along with hopefully enough hope to fuel my journey home and forward. I’ve written previously on the reasons. Simply our number one objective is impossible with my current unwellness.

Jim Kelley, one of the many deep loves and joys in my life, always stated that “The Universe” has answers for us. We each just need to put in our effort (sometimes trying easier) and “listen”. Well, nearly 20 years ago when Jim first said this to me, I looked at him like he was an alien from another planet. Then, over 10 years ago, The Universe took Jim from us. This clearly set me back in my belief and understanding.

Over the last 14+ years since my cancer diagnosis I have been on a journey to create greater harmony in my life. By harmony, I mean that all parts of my life sing like the most beautiful choir ever. I don’t care if your style choice runs to the Mormon Choir or the greatest African American choir. One can’t help but be moved by the harmony created. It is this kind of power of harmony I have been, am and will be seeking until I pass.

Much like other extremely challenging periods in my life (I think I am fortunate to have had at least my share), the greatest struggle is finding the meaning. Finding the learning. Finding the answers. And this is the tremendous beauty of these experiences. The greater the struggle, the more powerful the good stuff when you come out the other side. I speak of my cancer as the greatest gift I was ever given. I believe this to the depths of my being. And a gift I’d prefer to receive only once. THANK YOU!

One of the many gifts during 2008 was forcibly learning the power of vulnerability. When your physical wellness is so compromised you can not do the minimal necessary things for yourself to survive, you have to ask for help. And magic happens in that space. It did for me. Well, over the course of the last several days, I have seen myself slipping back there. Not fun. I am so trying to be better this time. Not lashing out in anger, but communicating hurt and need. It is a process for me.

We are scheduled to arrive home the evening of the 24th. I have a general plan that involves major changes in my life. I hope nothing more for myself than to have the courage to change, to truly accept the help of others, to execute the plan and to LISTEN.


Sweet Paris

I have a few more words about Paris starting with the myth that the French are not friendly toward tourists, especially Americans.

First, we found everyone in Paris to be supremely helpful and kind. Our first exposure to kindness was the taxi drivers in the cities. In my last post (Paris) I mentioned our first taxi driver’s extra effort to find the exact location of our keys. Then when Blair left the apartment and headed to the airport on Monday, the traffic at the departure drop off was a zoo. Her taxi driver (not Uber!) actually parked his car in the garage, helped her with her bags and got her all the way to an agent who could help her check in! WOW!!! I know she knows how to tip well for incredible service!

I don’t have a single picture of a taxi, but who doesn’t love a patriotic deux chevaaux? I would love to have one of those.

This isn’t technically about Paris, but it’s about France…And when we arrived in Nice, we had to again go to one location to pick up keys where we also had four large boxes from Amazon to load in the taxi then go to our apartment. Our driver, an older gentleman, “parked” (a loose term in a city), helped me get the boxes into his already packed car and then unloaded them for me at the door of our apartment. So lovely to have such kindness on our travels, especially when we are tired and cranky after a full day of (luxury) travel.

In Paris, Blair and I somehow found ourselves at the same gelato place every evening. The workers started recognizing us and after the initial phase of figuring out how to order, we were pros and they were friendly. One night there was a family in front of us who we thought were speaking French. They clearly didn’t understand the system and the worker behind the counter (with a obligatory French moustache) kept doing what we classically think of as the “French” thing…he kept rolling his eyes and saying in English, “I don’t understand you.” The dad, likely a tired vacationing dad with two small children kept repeating his order or questions (in French or some version of French) and turning to his wife pleading for help. They eventually got it all sorted out and the happy kids rolled off in their strollers with their gelatos. We popped next up with our “Deux classiques, si’l vous plaîs” like the professional French gelato eaters that we have become and we got a happy smile, a merci beaucoup, and an au revoir with our gelatos!

And it’s true, you do NOT enter any store without a “Bonjour” in that high, lilting voice and a “Merci beaucoup” as you leave. And don’t forget “Au, revoir” too! The French have been very welcoming and it’s a good thing because the Olympics are coming in 2024!

New topic – I don’t think I’ve mentioned the shopping or the stylish Parisian women and men. In the Marais and really throughout Paris, there are so many boutiques that really don’t have much inventory, but what they do have is beautiful and displayed so artistically. And there are so many cosmetic and “beauty” stores with such variety of brands and products. This was Blair’s area of expertise and I think she really enjoyed the bounty.

Of course, there is also the Galeries Lafayette. What an incredible building. When we first got there we were hungry so we found a lovely café on the bottom floor for a snack. Then we wandered throughout the store for a long time. Blair compared it to Nordstrom where it’s set up by designer, not by style or size or…There were two floors dedicated to cosmetics and we found out that they also have spa treatments available. We only know this because we were looking for the “toilette” and were told they were only for the spa customers, but the nice lady took pity on us and let us in with a key.

On one of the upper floors we found their “vintage” department. It was half of the entire floor and we spent a good amount of time digging through their very orderly displays. Blair was thrilled to find a couple great buys (501 cotton jeans?).

Of course we had to go upstairs to the rooftop for the view and as long as we were there why not get a bite to eat and have an Aperol Spritz? What a view and what a day! Loved it all. Except by the time we got home we were beat! We had walked there and then in the store for hours and then back to the apartment. I think it was a 10+ mile day.

And speaking of vintage…we found this little vintage store in our neighborhood that was packed with goods. Blair found more 501s and I found the CUTEST gingham dress! What fun to dig for treasure and be rewarded! Of course after that exhausting adventure we had to go to the café across the street for sustenance.

Note on the awning, “The King of Frip” which I’m assuming means “thrift”! Love it. This was our view from the café where we recovered from all that “fripping”.

We also found Les Halles one day…on accident. It’s a big underground mall that would be similar to one at home. We just kept getting lost so when we figured out how to get out, we did! It was right near the Pompidou Center which is a really fun building.

Of course, all that getting lost meant we needed a café and Paris never disappoints! There’s always one right where you need it!

And what would Paris be without a trip to the Champs Elysées? Of course, we walked first to the Tuileries via the Louvre, then past the Place de la Concorde and all the way down the Champs Elysées. We were very underwhelmed by the CE. It was full of tourists and really felt just like a big strip mall with a few high end stores with long lines. Very disappointing. By the time we got to the Arc de Triomphe…

…we were exhausted so skipped the walk up the stairs and hailed a taxi home. And I just have to say…those taxi drivers are amazing. With my poor French I told him the address, “8 rue saintonge” which he translated to real French and then he drove us there with skill – dodging in and out of lanes, finding just the right streets and he knew where the one way streets were in our small little neighborhood on this random little no-big-deal- street. He must have been driving in Paris for a VERY long time!

Phew. I’m exhausted just remembering all of those shopping days! And I probably missed a few highlights, but you get the gist! Walk. Shop. Eat. Drink. Shop. Walk. Eat. Drink. Drop. Go out for a gelato. Repeat.

Mostly, I just want to say how grateful I am to have had such a special nine days with Blair. What a gift to get to experience that great city together. I also want to give a huge thank you to Glen who was not able to join us on our adventures, but who fully embraced our time together and found joy in hearing about our days. What a gift he gave us. I’m a lucky girl or white-haired old woman. Pick your description!


I have a few comparisons between Paris and some of our other “dwellings”…

Birds. Canterbury had seagulls. Earlier this evening as Blair and I were walking back from our nightly gelato, I heard seagulls which I will forevermore connect with our time in Canterbury.


Paris has pigeons. Lots of pigeons. Glen calls them rats with wings. They haven’t been bothersome, but they sure aren’t afraid of humans. They don’t mind your feet kicking in their direction, they just hop away and return as soon as you turn away – especially if you have left some good morsels at your feet.

Today we were in the Tuileries Garden and this little German girl was feeding the pigeons. Always a bad idea…Are you seeing the pigeons scene from Mary Poppins right now? Are you singing Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…But as this young girl was feeding the pigeons, this happened..

One of these things is not like the others…

Bugs. They are here; Blair is the evidence as she has the bug bites for proof. Glen and I don’t have any bites so they must prefer young blood.

What Paris really has is bees. And since we found our outdoor café “tartine” breakfast (a baguette with jam and butter), the bees have found us.

They dive bomb us for our jam and just sit in the jam cup or on our already jammed bread. Pay attention as you eat or you might get a mouthful of bee! Oh and they also dive INTO the tiny spout of the sugar container. They dive down to the bottom and eventually return…they must be drunk on sugar by then!

Trash – or in Paris – lack thereof…We are SO pleasantly surprised to find that Paris is incredibly clean!!!! You might remember that our last “dwelling” was definitely NOT clean, NOLA’s French Quarter was continually being cleaned and Brooklyn was surprisingly clean except for the twice weekly trash dumping on the sidewalks for pick up.

Paris makes great effort to keep its streets clean. There are two or three trash cans on every block. There are these cute little trucks that circle the city replacing the full bags from the street cans. There are regular pick ups from the buildings. There are walking street sweepers. There are walking trash picker-uppers. The parks are clean, the gutters are clean, the entire city just feels clean and not smelly! Is this cleanliness effort in preparation for the 2024 Olympics? There are already signs and billboards, etc. around the city advertising the events.

Do you remember how in Brooklyn I was constantly on the lookout for discarded chicken bones? They were a real issue for me because Dug could smell them a mile away and would pull me toward them. I saw this and was reminded of Brooklyn. And Dug.

Critters. Haven’t seen a rat or a cockroach. Just pigeons. Maybe it’s because the city is kept so clean? I was reading something earlier and it said that in the 1800s there was quite the rat problem so they brought in cats. Well, that solved one problem -rats – but created another problem – cats. So then cat became a delicacy in Paris. Ouch. I did not need to know that, but once you know it, it’s hard to unknow. So now you know it, too. You’re welcome. I just did some more reading and Paris still uses cats to reduce the rats in the city. But I have not seen it on a menu…unless they call it something other than chat.

Transportation. So many forms of wheeled methods of getting around – bikes, (two and three-wheeled), scooters, motorcycles (two wheels, three wheels and even four tiny wheels!), mopeds, tiny cars, skateboards, roller blades, taxis, buses, and yes, cars.

There seems to be lots of ways to “borrow” two wheeled vehicles of all sorts…locate it, check it out with your phone, ride it to your destination and then drop it off on a corner. Voilà!

And it all seems to work. Really well. There are bike lanes all over though they seem to be largely ignored. Taxis drive in the bus lane. The roundabouts seem to function effortlessly. Lanes seem to be a fluid concept. And yet, I never felt the craziness of cities like Hanoi or New York or London. All forms of transportation just seem to move as one. And everyone just “gets along” on the roadways. It’s really kind of amazing.

But really, Paris is a pedestrian town. People walk everywhere. It’s just the lifestyle and as I’m rereading French Women Don’t Get Fat, I’m reminded of the effect of a walking lifestyle and enjoying life without excess. It’s the small things that make our days so valuable. The pastis at lunchtime, the shared pastry, the Nutella crepe, and the company that goes with it.

Police. Brooklyn – My enduring memory is of the police in the Metro stations who were not wearing masks when they were required by the city. There were announcements every few minutes reminding us all to wear our mask. And yet…the rules were blatantly ignored by the very people who were supposed to be enforcing the laws/rules. At our “home” station I went up to a pair of officers and asked them why they weren’t wearing a mask. They literally just turned and walked away from me. So…not a good memory. I will add that when I walked the Brooklyn Bridge after RBG died, the police officers were very respectful of that movement. In Canterbury, the police wear “funny” uniforms. Well, funny to me. I never did get a picture. I didn’t see a lot of police around there and when I did, they were milling about chatting with each other. In NOLA there was a large police presence in the French Quarter, but outside that..I’m not sure I ever saw one in all of my long walks.

Here in Paris – lots of police. The first thing I noticed was the sound of the sirens. It’s just so European. Just think about a Jason Bourne or a James Bond movie. Yep. That’s the sound. Then we’ve seen police vans full of officers (I assume that’s who’s in there) dashing by and little mini police cars maneuvering in and out of traffic.

Blair also got her first glimpse of gendarmes in full “battle” gear with assault rifles strapped across their bodies. I don’t care who’s carrying one of those things, I don’t want to be anywhere near it.

We’ve also seen police officers on horses. Seems out of place and a bit cruel to have the horses on the cobblestone streets. I’ve had no engagement with any officers here, but there is a large presence.

Best for last…Dogs. First observation about dogs…boy dogs have their balls. If there are no balls, it’s a girl dog. At first we thought…”There are a lot of un-neutered male dogs here”. Then we were like…wait..are they all un-neutered? I did a little google search and it turns out that in most of Europe, it is considered cruel to neuter a dog. (Not sure if it’s only boys or boys and girls). It’s looked at in the same way as declawing a cat or cropping a dog’s ears. Well, that’s different!

I also noticed that a lot of dogs are walked off-leash even on the busy city streets. I never saw a dog stray from its walker. In fact, I have never heard a dog or tripped over a dog or..they are really well behaved. Dogs at cafés are quietly under their walker’s seat. They don’t lunge or growl or beg. Well, maybe I saw some begging at the table, but all in all they were really well-behaved.

There were big dogs and little dogs, purse dogs and the biggest, fattest basset I’ve ever seen. It was being dragged out of the apartment door by its walker. Hilarious scene! The walker didn’t look too thrilled about the walk either.

Parisian dogs seem to be a special breed. Which brings me to Dug. He’s a special breed, too. And I miss him. He’d be a good Parisian dog. Maybe he needs a beret. Would the other boy dogs make fun of him for not having any balls though? I hope he doesn’t think I’m cruel because he was neutered when he was a pup. I miss Dug.

Blair days this is the look he gives her as she’s getting ready to leave for work.

And here I am sitting in our apartment on Sunday morning with the huge windows thrown wide open and a fresh breeze cooling the air. I’m enjoying my espresso and writing this post as I’m listening to the neighbor upstairs also with his windows wide open playing the piano and occasionally singing along.

Life is good. So good.

And tomorrow, I’ll give Blair a big hug as she heads home and we head to Nice. Those good byes…

Could There Be a Better Place to Say Goodbye?

Goodbye to what? Well, the details of that are quite numerous and complicated. The conceptual answer is so much more simple.

First, I am so delighted this post follows Joyce’s glorious post of all of her and Blair’s adventures here in the City of Lights! I really take such great joy in hearing them talk when they return from a day out and recap in their unique way. And, to get photos and a narrative couldn’t be better. Paris, what a special place.

We are coming upon our halfway point in the planned European portion of our 2022 adventures. And it is becoming apparent to both Joyce and I, from our incredibly different yet wonderfully similar perspectives, that it is possible we may need further revisions. You’ve known from my earliest posts that these adventures, for me, are about us building back a life together. Simply put, US. I was committed, yet unconvinced of the outcome. And you know what, we have been incredibly successful. You’ll also recall Joyce’s thirst for adventure, in the traditional sense, has been more than mine from the outset. That was ok, as we found plenty of opportunity for US in Brooklyn! And, while NOLA became even less, it was still enough. Well, maybe it isn’t now.

Joyce and I are both incredibly stubborn. It is just true. And, we both quite reluctantly abandon plans. Particularly plans like we are in the middle of. During our Canterbury stay we set in motion a revision to Italy. It was to be Verona, Napoli and Roma – each for four to five days. It became abundantly clear making that happen logistically was a pipe dream. So, we consolidated it to all of our Italy stay being headquartered in Roma. Not bad at all.

Today is our 5th full day in Paris. Here is where my hard part starts, as it is going to sound so lame. But, as Jim Kelley taught me, all progress begins with the truth. Our setup here is in a four or five story building built around a courtyard. It is the anti- Brooklyn and the anti-Canterbury in that we get so little “traffic” that can be viewed from our -0.5 story apartment and its glorious windows. I have been outside the courtyard exactly five times. Two of the days, not a once. The adventuring trips (Tuesday at Picasso Museum; today at The Louvre) were early aborted adventures.

June 30, 2020 I redeemed my partnership interest in TYS, LLP. It was a dark period for me that was completely confounding. I’d been planning this for most of my professional career. Certainly the last five years were wonderfully executed. I came to realize I was grieving, as I had “lost” something incredibly important to me. And I am now coming to realize that much of my emotional darkness is due to a series of losses. In rapid succession – TYS, Eating, Golf, Hiking, Adventure, WELLNESS. In a nutshell, as I said to Joyce last night during one of our wonderfully vulnerable chats, it feels like parts of my life are passing before my eyes.

Eating & Golf. I’m grouping these two for a reason. I believe the sharing of these two loves was what built one particular relationship. At least in my earlier days and the parts that mostly remained good. That relationship? Dad. I haven’t ever really grieved Dad’s passing. And if I did most of the grief occurred while he was still alive. Golf and eating’s passing from my life over the last two years has been heightened by them being two things that gave my relationship with Dad anything special. I have a handful of vivid early memories involving golf and eating and Dad is the dominant figure in those memories. As a family, shortly after we moved to R&R (1964) Dad had searched out and found a wonderful Chinese restaurant and a terrific Mexican restaurant. I don’t recall the name of the Chinese restaurant. The Mexican was Casa Gonzalez. And my parents kept going to that restaurant and its descendants for nearly five decades. We always went on a Sunday evening, all six of us. Dad would order, we’d eat family style and enjoy that community we call family. Among us, Dad, Mom, Steve and I are the food appreciators. Mike and Sue, not so much. And while eating was very much shared, golf was mine and mine alone with Dad. My earliest memory of golfing on a golf course was at Lake Chabot on an early Easter Sunday I believe in 1965. Dad took all three of us boys. I would have been almost 7, Mike 9 1/2 and Steve almost 11. Yes, those were different times. But still. Thomas boys were and always will be passionate livers – hellions. I came later to understand this was the golf course Grandad (Lacy) introduced Dad to the game. It remains a very special place in my life. Over the nearly 50 years I played, I probably went back there 10ish times. I love that place. Dad deserves credit for taking us, all three never having played, and making it something other than a complete shit show. I now think I understand and appreciate some of Dad’s darkness at specific times. I love you Dad!

Hiking. In the middle of my cancer treatment, likely in early August, Mike Quillin showed up one evening at 111 Camrose Place. I’ve written some about the special feeling I have for those that did. Mike is special beyond special. Up to this time Mike and my relationship was mostly casual. Mostly superficial. (I hope, if you meet Mike, he’ll share a story on me and Multi-League. Mike is a wonderful story teller. I’m known for being great material, almost always in a shit for brains (me), or as Mike says “cud sack” way.) From this point forward, it became more. Mike, I think gets me better than anyone not named Joyce. He is my whisperer. And relationships only get that through deep commitment and effort by two people. Mike has always been a nature guy. It is one of his happiest places. During cancer treatment Mike just showed up. Nothing ever planned. Didn’t need to be. Where was I going? And as treatment ended and I was able to move around some, he introduced me to hiking. I still remember the first time in Walnut Creek Open Space. I think we walked all of 500 or 600 feet. It was a start. Mike has always called our hikes “walks”. Maybe this is partly why. Over the course of the next 10ish years we accomplished some amazing hikes, including a handful of backpacking adventures. Over much of Western US. Mike has gone on to be nearly 80% complete with the PCT. Amazing!! Mike gave me the gift of hiking. I never was much into being fit for 50 years of my life. Mike, through hiking, gave me fitness. We walked through some tumultuous times in our lives – my cancer, his hep C and hip replacement. It was the most glorious 10 years and I think the best relationship I have ever had with another man. I love you, my friend. I am still processing my sense of loss with hiking.

My purpose for this post is simple. It helps me express and emote. And I realize some of you who know me at least a little bit, often care. I learned during the adventures of GTPTOH (cancer journey blog) that if I keep this shit bottled up inside me, it poisons me. I really am not looking for pity, or even sympathy. Not at all. I am looking for something far greater, understanding.

So, if you see we’ve chosen to curtail our current adventures, please don’t take it for giving up. Regardless of when we get back to CA, I have promised Joyce and myself that I will work to accept the passing of those parts of my life and to instead focus on what opportunities await me. I will accept the feeding tube should that be the best path. I will work to get my chronic neck / back pain under control through whatever means available. I will work with my Stanford Neurologist (yes, a fucking Stanford brain surgeon on MY team!) to better manage my dizziness.

And regardless of whether this is a forever farewell to Europe, or simply a period to recover and recalibrate, I am committed to seeing this out.

Cheers, England and Bonjour, Paris!

It’s been a whirlwind! I’d forgotten how much I love this city. Glen and I have not returned since the few days we stayed here on our honeymoon in…1989!!! Guess what?! Paris hasn’t changed in any discernible ways…or not in any major ways. I’d say it’s actually cleaner and even more pleasant than I remember it.

We met up with Blair at our cool apartment. Sadly, she had to wait for us as our Eurostar train was an hour late. While getting keys proved to be a bit tricky, we had the best taxi driver who literally jumped out of the taxi and ran down the street to locate the City Locker where they were stored for me. When he started madly pointing at a building, I hopped out and ran down the street with my backpack on and managed the two locking systems to get the keys out of our box. Phew.

Got her!!!
Let’s get in and unpacked! We have places to go, food to eat and adventure awaits!
We are I. The “news” of an old building.
Our patio and door
Home sweet home

The first thing we all did was head to a very cool department store, the BHV-Marais to buy a blender for Glen. They have an interesting system here. You go to the store and make the purchase and then you walk a block away to a different location and sit and wait for your item to be brought in from who knows where. Blair and I thought it was a scam for a bit because we waited so long, but it all worked out and the blender does the trick for Glen so it’s all good! After Blair and I dropped off the blender at the apartment (thank goodness she was along to heft that thing the one mile walk back), the two of us dove into the city by heading out to find some supplies for Glen. It’s actually a great way to get acquainted with the neighborhood – in our case, The Marais. I think it’s the 3rd arrondissement, maybe the 2nd..

For those of you who are wondering, Glen has a condition related to his cancer treatment from 14 years ago that makes swallowing difficult. He gets his nutrition by eating smoothies (thus the need for a good blender) so he needs some food supplies that are not as easy to locate away from home. (Imagine being in Paris and not being able to enjoy the food?!?) Anyway, Blair and I went from store to store gathering what we could and then Glen ran out in search of ice and we were good to go for the evening.

Blair was pretty tired (jet lag) so she and I went to an Italian restaurant around the corner. The chef was an Argentinian by way of Los Angeles. He brought us a special hors d’oeuvres dish to celebrate our LA connection. Not sure exactly what it was…but it started with “lamb tongue paté” and ended with “eat it whole and dip it in the chili oil”. I thought it was delicious! And I was feeling proud of myself for being so brave on my first night in Paris. Blair was technically even braver and ate an even larger piece. She didn’t enjoy it, but she’s SO polite, she didn’t want to disrespect the chef! After dinner it was time to head home and rest up to make the most of our first full day in Paris!

The restaurant we ate at our first night.

Our first day was Blair’s 30th birthday! What a place to celebrate!

I know you don’t want a play-by-play of our time in Paris, but I will say that I always appreciate starting off with the TOURISTY hop on-hop off bus trip. It really helps to give a sense of the geography and highlights of the city. We also did a Seine river cruise that was just so-so; the best part was actually people-watching the tourists on board!

It’s hard to comprehend the devastation and then you see all the scaffolding.

For dinner, we went to a sidewalk café we had spied in the morning and enjoyed some pizza in the warm evening surrounded by Parisians and a sprinkling of tourists from around the world (based on the languages we could hear).

They wouldn’t pose so this is what they are stuck with …

Since that first day, we’ve mostly spent our days and nights hopping from café to café, window shopping, people-watching, searching for the best cappuccino and gelato and just absorbing what it means to experience Paris. We did go to the Picasso museum today which is conveniently right around the corner. He certainly was a captivating man.

A few café photos…

Scenes from the neighborhood…

Picasso Museum…

Near the Picasso…

More neighborhood shots…

This dog was HUGE and did not want to move. Hilarious.
Zoom in and you can see a little sign that says, “HOME”.

Tomorrow – who knows! The world is our oyster! Or Paris is our oyster?

Oh My. Goodbye.

This is always tough. We come to be fond of the places we “dwell”. We experience their shortcomings, but so far, all of those have been overcome by of all of the “longcomings”. (Writers have a lot of leeway in their use of words…right?) And when it comes down to it, the places are nice, but the people make the memories.

We have been in Canterbury for a month. Glen will correct me because I think we are short a day or two, but that kind of accuracy just isn’t my thing ;-). I really didn’t have many expectations for Canterbury. It was never on my “must do” list and I didn’t do a lot of research in its selection or before our arrival. I find that sometimes this methodology allows for many pleasant surprises! (You may be thinking that it’s crackers that we would spend so much time and money in a place that we haven’t given a lot of thought to…but hey…you only live once!)

Who could argue that the scenery isn’t great here?

Here in Canterbury, our cozy (or cosy since we are in England) little house was just right. The steep stairs did give me pause as we entered for the first time. They are literally 2′ from the entry door that barely opens without banging into the bottom step. One person enters and has to step aside while the other enters and closes the door. It’s a bit of a dance. Once we got our technique for safely going up and down the carpeted (and slippery) stairs, they didn’t worry me…much. I’d say that neither of has ever fallen, but that might be tempting fate as we have a few more ups and downs before we leave tomorrow.

We figured out the European washing machine (the dryer was broken) and we loved hanging our clothes in the garden to dry. I didn’t blush to brightly when our neighbor Olivier cut through our garden with my knickers blowing in the wind.

I might have thought that the pub across the street and the pedestrian thoroughfare nature of Ivy Lane would have been a nuisance, but weirdly, unexpectedly, happily…I have loved the life that the “traffic” brought into our home. We’ve learned to ignore or just enjoy the noise of the neighbor’s comings and goings (including Olivier). We’ve also gotten used to being able to see directly into the second story windows of the houses across the lane. That’s been a bit weird for this suburbanite! Oh…that also means that we have to pay attention because if we can see in their windows…

The Two Sawyers had a weekly Trivia Night. (Did you know that a “sawyer” was someone who sawed trees? Me, neither.) Since it’s summer, we had our windows open at night and so did the pub. The MC uses a microphone so every Thursday we have had the pleasure of “participating” from home. I could hear some of the questions and quickly learned that there’s no way I could have competed because all the questions were Great Britain factoids and I’m no British expert! It was fun to hear the laughter throughout the night and they were always respectful of the neighbors and ended promptly at 10:00 pm. Also, a few times they had a band on the weekend. One night I enjoyed the music so much that I went over and tipped the band!

As we come to our last days here, I find myself feeling a bit blue. I always do wherever we are…even Walnut Creek. Rather than rushing around to do all of the things I missed, I return to the places that I especially enjoyed. They aren’t usually the tourist places, but the places I’ve found through my wanderings. These last few days have found me wandering along the River Stour path, sitting in the Westgate gardens, visiting the cemetery at St. Martin’s and then today I returned to the medieval streets of the town center. I looked around, listened to the sounds and just took in their joy of the space and let myself feel the sadness and gratitude of our impending departure.

My buddies
A couple weeks ago I met these two mates in Faversham down the train line. They were being harassed by a shop lady for playing too loudly. Seems they “shop” around for places to play. Nobody bugging them in busy Canterbury.

I have saved the best for last though. I had the good luck of getting to go for a walk with David and Judy again today. David and I headed over promptly at 10:15 and then the three of us headed off through the neighborhood again.

This time, Judy took us through a different footpath out to a field that had an oast. (See post from the other day, but these are buildings used to dry the hops for ale.) We had a lovely walk on the MOST gorgeous sunny day.

I’m pointing at the footpath signs, not giving you the finger!

I got to hear about a few of their mutual friends and some of their family member’s doings. They lamented the lack of any government in England right now without a prime minister. (They reported that Boris has been vacationing on their dime while he finishes his time.) They were keen to talk about recent events in the American legislature. They are fully aware of the recent “referendum” in Kansas and are quite hopeful for us. (David’s word.)

David told me a bit about a couple of our neighbors and the history of some of the inhabitants of his house built in 1631. There’s another house down the street that was built in the 1400s!

David’s blue house at the end

And YES!!! We cut through the hospital on the path again and this time… I took photos!

Three sets is doors!
This is where the attendant sat during COVID to make sure that people sanitized their hands and wore a mask.

We ended our walk with a glass (or two) of white wine in Judy’s garden. It’s such a civil way to end a week. And yes, I found myself feeling sad as I gave a final good bye hug (and European two cheek kiss-What COVID?!) to Judy.

Today David picked us up at 6:55 am to give us a ride to the train station. He insisted. What a lovely gentleman with a twinkle in his eye and an occasional snark in his voice. When we had him over for a glass of wine last week, he noticed that I checked my Apple watch a couple times because it buzzed my wrist. This newfangled watch is a mystery to him. The second time he caught me looking he said, “Is there somewhere you have to be?” Busted. Glen was quite amused. David is not afraid to speak his mind. He reminded me multiple times to give him our address so that he could send us a postcard. He keeps in touch with many of his former students from around the world so I have no doubt that we will hear from him. And I’m looking forward to it.

Our chauffeur
Good bye, Ivy and Love Lanes. it’s been lovely.
Good bye Maple Cottage and little gargoyle

AND despite my current blues, I’m so excited for our next stop! Saturday (today) we leave via the Eurostar and head to Paris to meet Blair!!! She’s already in the air on her flight! And don’t tell her, but she’s turning 30 on Sunday. How can that be?! Can’t wait to celebrate in the City of Light.

Cheese Tasters

Joyce’s posts in general inspire me. They make me say, darn, I wished I’d said that. This post is my homage to her post “Watching and/or Listening”. It is so amazing and revealing of our existence here. So, if anyone now asks me what we are doing, I will simply point to that post.

Deep toward the end of that post you’ll see me in the the garden enjoying my snack. You all know my lifelong struggle with weight. For 50 years to keep it off; for the last 14 to keep it on. I’ve come to realize it really doesn’t matter which, weight will always represent struggle for me. Perhaps the largest and certainly the most continuous struggle.

Snacks! I use to dive into a bag of what we Americans generally call potato chips with uncontrolled reckless abandon. My early preference was pork rinds and Hires root beer. And if I wasn’t careful I’d eat the whole bag and two root beers in 15 minutes. The specific bag included in this photo is the same as the one in the photo taken by Joyce. It is also likely in a photo of our trip South and quite possibly even West. If you do the math on the calories (English labeling ain’t American labeling) the calories you get 1,302.5. These work for me now as they dissolve in my mouth and are easy for me to swallow. And it seems there’s an endless supply at the bottom of this darn bag.

Thank goodness I get protein, leafy green vegetables and my required daily nutrients from my twice daily smoothies!!

Privilege, A Different Take on the Trip South

Joyce and I are both quite proud card carrying liberal club members. As such we struggle with the whole concept of privilege and where we fit in. Make no mistake, we both individually and as a couple have used our many privileges to even be doing what we do. And it is an ongoing struggle for each of us.

Last week we rented a car from Enterprise for two days. First, Enterprise is never the cheapest, so if you are operating where price is your first, and perhaps only consideration, you should likely skip this post. However, one of my many privileges has allowed me / us to not make that the highest priority. I will always take value over price every time. We met a wonderful young man that became our “concierge” with Enterprise. It is part of their value differentiator. Jon, an American (the South) by birth, clearly has been in England for some time. He speaks like a local. I like to do things “in person”, so we had walked to Enterprise the week before our first rental. We sat with Jon, let him know what we wanted to do and we reserved a “compact” (yes, I fit) car, automatic (didn’t need that added variable) with in vehicle navigation (the marriage saver!). When we showed up the following Tuesday, Jon had upgraded (several classes) our car and we got a wonderful Lexus crossover (a model unavailable in the US). The whole experience was wonderful. Then, late last week, Joyce and I were in the garden and I suggested we had an open day on the following Tuesday and would she like to head South. She said sure. So, I emailed Jon late Friday afternoon. He made the same booking as previous. I realized this wouldn’t insure a similar class of vehicle, so I emailed Jon back and asked if he would upgrade to the class of the Lexus. Jon said sure AND that it was three times as expensive. Ahhhh, privilege. I said, book it Jon. We arrived yesterday morning to be greeted by a smiling Jon. And he had upgraded us again. This time a Mercedes. This made our drive covering 200 to 250 miles quite enjoyable. So, if you ever find yourself in Canterbury in need of a vehicle please look up Jon. He deserves the right to earn your business. Value over price every time for me!

I wish I had got a selfie with Joyce and Jon and me!

Going South

Well, we went north. We went east. We went west. We had to go south.

Today we headed to the south toward the coast through the villages and never hit a highway. I’ll tell the story of our day through the photos.

You’ll notice it was a dreary day, but the temperature stayed a balmy 70 degrees.

Our time in England is winding down…Enjoy one of our last days…

We stopped in the little town of Lydd to get some water and use the loo. This little church called me. Notice that England is also suffering from the drought.
The town “square” was a triangle and it was tiny. I love how they’ve converted the old phone booths to defibrillator storage facilities. They are all over England.
Heading out of town.

As we drove out to Dungeness, a tiny little beach town, we passed this church. I’m always in awe is how each tiny town has a church and you see if way before you see the town.

Made it to the coast.

Finally a sandy beach! No one out there on this blustery day. Further south we came upon a beach with lots of wind surfers.

We continued in to the “ancient” town of Rye. What a find! It was a very quaint (and busy) little town. Enjoy the photos.

Lots of cafès, galleries, and boutiques. Lots of people, too.
Tiny castle on the hill overlooking the sea.
Lots of timber or half-timber framed buildings.
The cobblestones were particularly challenging because they were rounded and not flat. I saw a woman in heels hanging on for dear life! Silly tourist.
Not much of a photo, but we went through Hastings which was a pretty big town. It reminded us of Deal because it’s obviously a summer getaway with a big wide beach and a long boardwalk, but this one is a little less cheesy.

As we continued through the countryside…

Finally got a picture and looked up what these buildings are as they are dotted all over Kent. They are called oasts and are used to dry out hops for ale.

Another church?

With a path like that…how could I not go in?!?
Ummm…open? Yes. A bit eerie.
I did love seeing the dog walkers in the cemetery followed by the family with young children and tricycles. I think I’ve mentioned that cemeteries may be the new parks in England.
And right next to the cemetery…two icons of England. No phone or defibrillator in this one.
And returning to Canterbury…
There’s always a church in the distance. Or a cathedral…