This is one of my favorites! I just LOVE the design on it! The Light Within-Diane Robacy
Lighthouses On The Mag Mile
Chicago is a beautiful and diverse city. When we arrived this trip, I noticed a few decorated lighthouses on Michigan Avenue and looked up what the story was. I found out that the next day 51 Lighthouses would be debuted throughout the area.
This had a true feeling of movement under the sea. It was lovely. See View by Deborah Maris Lader
Many years ago Chicago was one of the first cities in the United States to participate in this type of art display when they had “Cows on Parade” in 1999- all handpainted and decorated by local artists. Other cities have followed suit in years since, with Dogs in Boonton, New Jersey, “Catfish out of Water” in Nashville, and numerous other similar community art projects. Last year Del Mar, CA had horses painted by local artists in honor of the Breeder’s Cup being hosted there. Every city that has participated in these community art projects has benefited by increased tourism and community solidarity.
I loved the way the poppies were 3 dimensional on this lighthouse. It was simple, but very striking! We Bloom by Vivian Visser
This summer, from June 19 to August 11 “Lighthouses on the Mag Mile” will be located throughout the city. The purpose of this display is to bring attention to improving the quality of life for those who are disabled or visually impaired.
My Layers Run Deep by Hillary Laff-Meyers
Each lighthouse is 6 feet tall, and 30 inches wide at the base, and they become the “canvas” for each of the artists vision of inclusion for all who deal with disabilities. Many of the artists chosen actually live with disabilities of their own, making their work even more poignant.
This one was REALLY different! The hands and eyes coming out of this lighthouse looked SO real! Make the World Felt by Yu-Hui Huang and Eduardo Arias
Check out how realistic those hands are! They even had imperfections in the fingernails like real hands have!
Be a Light, Oakton Community College Art and Design Students
Why a Lighthouse?
You may wonder why a lighthouse? The idea is of a lighthouse being a beacon to champion causes for people with disabilities. The whole project was created by the Chicago Lighthouse, which serves the blind, visually impaired, disabled and military veteran communities. Numerous area businesses and organizations have supported the project with financial backing.
I loved this one. A Twist of Nature by Didier Nolet
Being a practicing Realtor, I was proud to see one of the lighthouses sponsored by the National Association of Realtors.
This lighthouse – The Path to Ability– was sponsored by the National Assn. of Realtors- so I had to mention it! Created by William Douglas of Project Onward
You Can Own A Lighthouse!
This lighthouse was incredibly beautiful! it reminded me of Monet- which is interesting, because Monet was visually impaired his last few years, and this artist is also visually impaired! Sailing Chicago Harbor by Jeff Hanson
This is a close up of the work on this lighthouse. I just loved the three dimensional effect on the flowers.
Northern Lights by Lori and Fiona Murphy
Chicago Treasure by Rich Green
After the display ends on August 11th some of the sponsors will have an opportunity to keep the lighthouses. Other lighthouses will be auctioned off online.
Rising to Succeed by Ken Klopack
Dream by Mark Nelson of Gringolandia Studio
It’s amazing that using the same basic lighthouse, the artists could come up with such diverse interpretations!
Eye Wonder by Lisa Birmingham
If you can’t get to Chicago yourself to view these lovely works of art- please enjoy my photos of about half of the beautiful lighthouses which are on display. And please, be the “beacon of light” to those around you who may have disabilities.
Feeling the Beauty in Every Face is Not Blind by Peter Bucks
Lighting my Path by Jim Carrol, The Pet Impressionist – featuring local Patricia Ward and her guide dog Carson
Perhaps this project, and the lighthouses might inspire you to question how you could help to be a part of access and inclusion for those living with disabilities. If we all strive to make life a bit better for those who struggle, and help to focus on the “ability” in the word disability, we can all help to light our world and make it a bit brighter.
This little girl was fascinated with touching all of the different colored and patterned discs on this lighthouse. She spent quite a bit of time walking around and touching all of the different patterns on the discs, exploring the colors and looking at the detail.
This is a close up of the detail on this exhibit. This one had some of the most detail of any of the lighthouses! So interesting!
This one was very pretty. Boundless by Pooja Pittie, an artist with Muscular Dysptropy
Special Olympics 50th Anniversary By David Holt of Project Onward and Cassidy Winston
I loved the braille on this lighthouse. The tactile experience is really cool on this one! Touch and See by Kristi OMeara.
Blindfold Brushes by Erika Vazzana
Lift Us by Hamza Muhammad, an artist with anxiety disorder and ADHD
Rise up by Fernando Ramirez of Project Onward
SHINE Love & The Machine – Dan Capuli, Amy Loevy & Edwin Capuli
Close up of this lighthouse and its message.
Lava Lamp by Chris Silva
Colorful Cloud in a Dark Abyss by Brandin Hurley
For more information on the “Lighthouses of the Mag Mile” please visit their website: https://lighthousesonmagmile.com/
This link will tell you specifics about every lighthouse and the artist who created it: https://lighthousesonmagmile.com/gallery-artists
Information on the Chicago Lighthouse may be found at: Chicagolights.org
We went on a Silversea Silver Cloud cruise up the coast of West Africa recently. We went to 6 countries to be exact. There are basically 3 questions people ask you when they hear you have been to “Africa.” Question # 1- Did you go on a Safari (or did you see any “big game” animals- as both are basically asking the same thing.) Question #2- Why in the world did you choose to go there, of all places. Question # 3-Were you worried about Pirates.
No, we weren’t on a safari, nor did we see any big game animals. That takes place more in central or east Africa. What we saw most of were goats, pigs, chickens and cats, because all of those animals roamed freely- and abundantly – through every village and city we were in. We did see some good sized monkeys swinging through some trees one of the days while we were riding in the bus.
In Morocco we saw some camels at a Bedouin camp, and also just roaming around in the middle of the desert. In Marrakesh we saw few snakes, which were being “charmed” for the sake of tourist. The snake charmers were scarier than the snakes. You’ve got to watch out for those guys- they don’t want to let you go without getting the big bucks out of you!
This picture of animals in a Senegal Village shows about the biggest “game” that we saw on this trip. Camels, goats, cats, sheep, a few pigs and a boar were about the extent of our animal viewing!
Other than that little menagerie, no “big game” stuff. No lions, or tigers, elephants or giraffes. Wrong neighborhood for them.
Why we chose to go to West Africa is another story. My man had broken his foot last fall, right after we moved into our new house. (Great timing on his part, I have to say- thank you very much!) He was bored to death, and started looking into places he’d never traveled, and trips that would get him closer to his goal of 100 countries. A “luxury cruise” up the west coast of Africa came up in his search, and next thing I knew, we were going to West Africa. So, question number is now answered.
This Senegal Village was fairly typical of many of the villages. You’ll see a goat in the background. This village was one of the few that had any sort of “toilet” facilities. This outhouse had buckets in it to go on. Quite sophisticated compared to many!
Was West Africa on the top of my bucket list of travel? Heaven’s no! However, if you know me, you also know I’m always up for any adventure, and always up to try the unusual. So- when Don asked if I’d go on the trip, I gave a resounding yes…….
Captain Phillips, Here we Come!
As soon as we mentioned a boat, and Africa the question of safety and pirates came up constantly. After all, who hadn’t seen Captain Phillips, right? So, of course, we asked our cruise line, Silverseas, if pirates were a possibility or concern. The question was poo-pooed- and we were told that pirate activity is on the east side of Africa and we had nothing to worry about. WHEW!
Silly Americans! We don’t even know where the pirates hang out in Africa. Tsk, tsk, tsk…….
So, onward and upward we went with our plans for our trip. We decided to tack on a trip to Amsterdam to see the tulips on our way to Akkra, Ghana. Thank God, because if we hadn’t I wouldn’t have found that great shop with the fantastic 1940’s style dance dresses…….. (Good thing I brought that extra duffel, because it was filled up on day 3 of the 23 day trip!)
This is one of the 40’s style dresses I got in Amsterdam! What a find THAT store was! (And BTW- this is my granddaughter Nell at her graduation from grade school a few weeks ago!)
My prior cruising experience has been on the uber-large cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland, Costa- and yes, I’ll even admit to Carnival- back in the day! Don has only done small “expedition” type of ships. This cruise, on the Silversea Silver Cloud was to have approximately 200 passengers.
The “luxury cruise” part of the trip had me from Hello. Unfortunately, the “luxury” provided didn’t add up to the cost of the cruise in ever-so-many ways………..
But I digress…….
This poster was on the wall going into the Ghana Port. You would not have BELIEVED the one asking them not to poop in the port! That one was really graphic- but unfortunately we weren’t able to pop a photo fast enough! Things run a little differently in Africa than some of us are used to!
As we pulled up to the port (after a rocky start and less than impressive trip to the ship), Don noticed that the back of the ship had large bars added across the back deck where the enormous water cannons were. Water cannons? Why would the ship need water cannons? We thought that perhaps the ship goes to other areas where pirates might be a concern……..
So, blithely we boarded the ship.
And, as with all cruises, muster is the first order of business on all ships. A lovely letter awaited us when we entered our suite, telling us when muster was to take place, and how focused Silversea was on making our voyage special, personalized, pampering, blah, blah, blah….
Our welcome letter upon arrival on the Silver Cloud
Off to muster we went. Then the ship left dock. After familiarizing ourselves with the ship, we went back to our suite, to find another letter………… informing us that we were in a “high risk area for piracy
If you are of my age group, you will remember Saturday Night Live, and church lady from years ago. Can’t you just hear Dana Carvey saying “How conveeeeenient!” ( Not to mention the following line- “Who made you do it, was it the Devil?”)
How conveeeeenient that the second letter was given to us JUST AFTER we left port! And worse- it stated that the “enhanced measures” were in effect from April 8-14. THREE DAYS BEFORE WE BOARDED THE SHIP!
These assholes knew for 3 days before we got on that Captain Kidd, Blackbeard and Henry Morgan were in the ‘hood, and didn’t bother to tell us? Holy shit. Are you kidding me?
Then the letter went on in explicit detail telling us how to handle the possible boarding and takeover by pirates. My favorite line was, “in the rare event that pirates succeed to board the vessel, do not panic, and do as they say.”
Roger that. I am going to stay as friggin’ as calm as a clam. Yessiree! Ahoy there mateys- nothing to worry about. I’ve seen Captain Phillips. These are reasonable people……….
Silversea- what in the name of all that is normal is wrong with you people?
Where is Johnny Depp When You Need Him?
The pirate with a parrot on the seashore
Not only are we dealing with totally unreasonable people with pirates in the African waters, none of them remotely begin to look like Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. There is just no upside to these pirates at all. Just sayin’.
For the next 4 evenings we were told we had to keep our curtains to our decks drawn and not to open the sliding doors. This was mighty convenient, as the AC was also not working on the ship, and we were in near 100 degree heat………..
If THIS doesn’t all spell out “luxury cruise”- I don’t know what does!
In the public areas of the ship, every curtain was buttoned up as tightly as a nun’s va-j-j. Where there weren’t draperies, the windows were covered with paper and duct tape. And the decks and outdoor restaurant were closed down. No “romantic strolls” around the deck were taking place here folks! I felt like I was in London during the second world war blitz attacks.
Again, I know I am repeating myself here, but if THIS doesn’t all spell out “luxury cruise”- I don’t know what does!
Another great tip pointed out in the letter was that if the pirates were to approach the ship, and/or board, we were to go to the common areas of the ship and get down with our hands over our heads. Fuck that shit- I’m hiding under my damned bed and hope they don’t check there for me. I figure that these pirates probably aren’t into doing a lot of work, or they’d have more upstanding jobs. Maybe they aren’t going to look under all 100+ beds, right? But go hide out in the open- with my hands over my head? Are you kidding me? I’m going to come out and line up for the machine gun rally? Come on, I’m smarter than I look! (I’d have to be, or they wouldn’t let me out alone….. But again, I digress.)
(Our Silversea “Pirate Warning Letter”- delivered immediately after the ship left port. At this point it was bit too far for a swim back to shore, I’m afraid!)
Every Day is an Adventure!
Now I realize that earlier I stated I am usually up for any adventure. I’ve jumped out of planes. I’ve zip-lined. I’ve snorkeled and dived. I’ve bungee jumped. I’ve married a variety of men. I’ve had children….. the list of adventures goes on and on.
However, in all those cases, these were experiences that I had preplanned for. The adrenaline spike is because of the thrill of a “controlled” thrill. One that most people live through. One that has safety parameters built into it.
Not friggin’ PIRATES! I never signed up for PIRATES!
So, for the first 4 evenings of our “luxury cruise”, while sweating like I was in an Indian Sweat lodge, with my drapes and balcony window buttoned up tightly, I wondered if I would live to see the good ol’ US of A!
There ain’t NOTHIN’ that spells luxury like that folks!
Captain Boczek’s last lines of his letter left me feeling calm, “special and highly personalized” (refer back to letter #1)… “Your safety is of paramount importance for us at Silversea…..”
Really? Really? My safety is of such utmost importance to Silversea that they didn’t tell me about my tryout for a role in Pirates of the Caribbean before the ship set sail? THAT’S how paramount my safety was to Silversea!
That all being said, I guess we can add a few jackasses to the list of animals previously noted. But they were all on board our ship, wearing nautical costumes!
As you can probably decipher from this post, we did make it out of Africa alive. No pirate boarding or takeovers.
The last tour day we had lunch at a hotel which was once a palace. This little room looked like where you’d go to smoke your hookah!
You might have also figured out that I am not going to be the head cheerleader for Silversea! Oh hell no! I wish the pirate fiasco and the lack of AC was our only issues on this “luxury liner”, but no…… those were just the tip of the larger-than-hit-the-Titanic iceberg. I’m not even going to mention the numerous small items, like Don finding a shard of glass in his lunch one day. We’ll overlook those “little annoyances.”
Silversea asked for feedback on the cruise, which I provided. Over 6 weeks ago. Then followed up 2 weeks later- to make sure they had received it. Then again 2 weeks ago again. No response in any way. Not even a form “we received your letter and someone will get back to you” canned response! The last time around we even spoke to Ricardo who booked our cruise, made him aware of our letters, and resent the correspondence to him directly. He promised he would “pass it on to his supervisors.” That was 2 weeks ago, with no follow up from anyone.
I’m sure I’m not being ignored. I think I’ve figured out the problem. PIRATES! The pirates probably boarded a Silversea ship which had a company meeting going on with all of the customer service personnel, the head honchos and the marketing people, and they are being held hostage RIGHT NOW!
Someone contact the authorities, and send out a search and rescue team!
Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my “non luxury” cruise lines, and I can get 12 -15 cruises for the money one Silversea cruise cost! (Not to mention, I’ll have AC in my cabin!)
_______________________________________________I had to add on a little “follow up” addendum to this story. While writing it, I sent a second email to our Silversea representative, Ricardo, telling him how disgusted I was with their company’s total lack of customer service. I will admit, this particular email was not full of unicorns, flowers and glitter. No, I wasn’t really my most nice on this round. I did mention in it that I now submitted a review on my experience to cruise critic and that I was now in the process of writing an article for my lifestyle blog regarding Silversea and their Silver Cloud ship.
Miracles DO happen folks! Yessiree! Amazingly enough within a few days I actually received communication from Silversea’s Guest Relations department. They apologized for the lack of response, stating that my original emails were “caught in their spam system.” OK, hold on here Frank…….. may I call you Frank, Mr. Sansone? You are going to tell me that Silversea- a large corporation, has a customer service email system, which you ask passengers to send their feedback to (firstname.lastname@example.org) and when they do, it goes into your spam folder? Now THAT is a clever way to set things up! Very helpful to all involved……. Of course there was no explanation as to why my letter to Ricardo hadn’t been responded to for over 2 weeks at this point either…….. hmmmmmmm. Maybe their employees letters ALSO go to spam. Again, a clever and efficient way to run things.
So, that all being said, with his effusive apologies- well, kinda- sorta’- this following line of the letter threw me off a bit- “We appreciate your candor in evaluating your experience aboard Silver Cloud which we anticipate will stand out in a positive way in terms of service and product.” Perhaps something was lost in the translation of my letters when Frank read them, because I would think it apparent to all involved that Silversea, indeed did NOT stand out in a positive way in terms of service and product….. Oh my. Consistant. At least they are consistent…..
So, in the end, what Frank offered us was some credit on a future cruise, an amount which is basically equivalent to an upgrade from one class of cabin to the next level. SERIOUSLY Frank? Oh, and the other detail is that we must use that oh-so-generous credit for travel within the next two years. I’m pretty certain that we will be getting our calendars right out and check which of the Silversea cruises are going to fit in our travel schedule. Or………..maybe not.
And last, but certainly not least- the following video has nothing to do with the idiots at Silversea, or even me- but after my rant I thought you deserved a bit of fun- so watch this great video of a young man who has been to every country in the world (how does he do that at this young age?). He shares some cute little ditty about every one of the countries he’s been to- because…….. as I always say- Every Day is an Adventure!
I love this mural, found in Carlsbad, CA. On the side of Witch Creek Winery. I love the play between the black and white, and the color on the 2 tigers.
I don’t know if you have noticed it, but it seems that every time I turn around there are more and more buildings with murals painted on the sides of them. More often than not, the building where the mural pops up is a small, unassuming would-be-dull little building. You may have driven by 100 times, and never even noticed it. Then suddenly – WHAM! Someone puts a mural on the side of it, and the dull building jumps out and makes a statement!
Some of them are a bit unpolished. Others are amazing works of art- but in most every case, they do brighten up the area and I really enjoy them.
I thought I’d share a few of the buildings I have noticed in just the past few weeks, as I go about my day-to-day life. Most have been local to me, but a few have popped up in my trips to Sedona and other recent travels!
If you have photos of murals you have seen, send me a picture and I’ll add it to this post! It may be the “ever changing, ever growing” mural photo-album!
Pour House, Oceanside. CA. Coincidentally, this is one of the first places I ever performed comedy a number of years ago! It had a different name back then. The Beach- something-or-other………
Wander. Being a girl with Wanderlust, this mural on Coast Hwy. in Oceanside caught my eye!
This looks like an alien takeover to me! This one is on the side of The Whet Noodle Restaurant, Oceanside CA. There were 4 or 5 murals within less than a block in this area!
This mural of surfers at the beach is in Carlsbad, on the side of a liquor store at the corner of Carlsbad Village Drive an PCH.
OK- technically this isnt a mural. However, when photographing murals in Leucadia, this was outside a bar there, and it made me laugh- so you are getting it too!
This beautiful beach scene is perfect on the side of Pacific Coast Cycles, in Oceanside CA. I love how the bikes look parked in front of it!
This mural is in Carlsbad on the corner of State and Carlsbad Village Dr. Kind of weird, because the tenants at the restaurant put their planter right over part of the mural….. Go figure! They could have just moved it to the right a few feet.
The side of a building in Oceanside where “Matafied Salon”
The side of Revolution Roasters in Oceanside, CA. Sorry about the cars, but if I cropped them out, 1/2 of the mural would have been gone too!
The side of Angelo’s burgers in Oceanside. Typical So. CA. surfer scene!
A work in progress! My daughter Alyse and I went to the Vista, CA strawberry festival, and he was working on this mural. I’m not sure if this was a new mural he was painting, or if he was touching up an old one.
I’m not sure this really qualifies as a “mural”, but I liked it, so it makes the cut! After all, we all need a little motivational saying here and there! This is on the outside of Southwest Airlines at San Diego Airport.
Side of the Pop Pie Company, San Diego. This is such a cool little place! I just love the vibe, and when I’m down there, I pop in for a quick bite.
The side of a building in San Diego next to Pop Pie Co. Very esoteric! I feel like I could build a whole story around this little creature!
This mural is on the side of “Bar Leucadian”, which, you guessed it- is a bar in Leucadia. This place changes their outside paint job more than any building I have ever seen. It was pink for breast cancer awareness, then changed to- gray I think. Now the murals. Someone must have inherited a paint store. Or has a lot of spare change. Not sure WHAT is going on at this place. (I admit I still hold a slight grudge in my heart against them for stopping Country Western Mondays a few years back. It was my regular Monday dance hang out. Bastards to take away my good times with friends! Don’t they know who I am?)
This mural is on the side of “A Little Moore Cafe” in Leucadia, CA
This mural is kind of tucked away off PCH in Leucadia, CA I love the intricacy and detail on this one! I felt that the subdued coloring is really masterful too!
This lovely mural is located on one side of the Royal Liquor Store on PCH in Leucadia. The other side also has a mural on it!
This is the other mural on the side of the Royal Liquor Store on PCH in Leucadia.
This mural is also in Leucadia, off PCH. I’m not going to lie to you- I forget where exactly. (But when I remember I will change this info, so I look like I was well informed the whole time……)
This fun mural is also located on PCH in Leucadia, CA
This was outside the Sedona Healing Arts, where I found the “Angel Wings” from the “In Search of Angel’s Wings” post on my blog!
Sedona Healing Arts side of the building.
This is a great mural, located in Leucadia, CA. on Coast Hwy. I love the paintbrush which is painted on there!
So that’s it for now, but I think I will be adding more as I come across them.
As I said before, if you have some to send me, I’d love to put them up! Let me know where you took the picture, and I’ll recognize you too!
Meanwhile, take a few moments when driving around to notice and enjoy the many murals out there! They do tend to brighten up a day!
Stella, Susan DeVincent – KYXY Morning “DJ”, and Patti. I think this woman is too pretty to be a radio DJ- people need to see her!
Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun!
If you know me, you know I’m all about incorporating ANY and ALL possible fun into your life. Being open to the spontaneous, the unusual, the silly.
Last night we did something fun, and a bit different. One of the local radio stations has put on a women’s “slumber party” for a few years running. I’ve wanted to go in the past, but the only way to get tickets is to “call in and win”, and I seldom have much time for that type of contest, and when I did try, I didn’t win……. (poor, poor little me!)
Lucky for me, last Wednesday I attended a networking meeting, that I LITERALLY just decided to attend about 1 hour before it’s start time. (Then almost didn’t make it, because I went TOTALLY to the wrong place, wrong town…… blonde moment, another story for another day…..) But I digress……
Leona with my slumber buddy!
The Ticket to the Fun…
So, I went to the networking meeting, and a woman there asked if anyone would like tickets to the KYXY Slumber party. YES, YES, YES! I’m always up for fun. She gave me some tickets, and I was thrilled for the opportunity!
My first order of things to do was to ask my “bestie” Stella if she wanted to go. We then also asked our friend Leona, and plans were made.
What Do You Wear to a Public “Slumber Party?”
Yesterday afternoon Stella said she wasn’t sure what to wear. I had the same quandry….. Since around my house we sleep nakey, I didn’t think my sleeping attire would be appropriate for the KYXY event………
Stella and I are SO much alike in that we love to do any “theme” up to the max, and we don’t care WHAT anyone thinks……. So Stella came up with the idea of going in frumpy robes, curlers, etc……
I jumped at it.
Don was going out the door for something, so I asked if he could stop at Rite-Aid and pick up the craziest slippers they had. He came home with pink kitty “beanie baby” slippers. OK- they were a child’s size, as that’s all they had, but I squeezed into them. (They “made” the outfit. Always accessorize properly ladies- it’s one of the rules of dressing like a diva…..)
Leona wasn’t up for making a complete ass of herself in public, but she said she didn’t mind going with us that way.
We’re Bringing “Sexy” Back….Or Not!
So, we were off and running with the idea. Stella came up with some ridiculous hair rollers. I had some curly roller thingys I had bought a few months ago that didn’t work at all. I was going to do a video of me trying to use them, but of course THAT never happened. So, I incorporated those into my beautiful “do.” They worked perfectly for that!
Frumpy robes, face mask, rollers, slippers, and then, of COURSE some accessories- coffee cups and a teddy bear, and we were off!
Our arrival at Harrah’s Casino. If this look doesn’t attract some stares, nothing will! Get a load of our attractive footwear!
Let me tell you…….. it take a lot of nerve to walk through a casino on a Saturday night looking like we did! ESPECIALLY for two gals who don’t go out of the house without our makeup done, and a “real” outfit on- accessories to match.
But- there we went. If you could only see the looks we got as we marched through that casino. People were trying to figure out WTF they were seeing! Stella and I were definitely “bringing sexy back”……. in a WHOLE new way!
I have to say though- we were a HIT! Other women put on jammies. Some cute. A few silly. One or two a bit glamorous. But NO ONE went the frump route, with curlers and masks……. we were having our photos taken like we were Beyonce and Megan Trainor, or I-don’t-know-who! If we had charged for photos with us, we would have probably made more than most of the vendors there!
Stella, Susan DeVincent – KYXY Morning “DJ”, and Patti. She was so sweet, and has such GREAT hair!
We were hardly through the door when Susan DeVincent and the gals from KYXY stopped us for our photo, and we were up on the Instagram screen all evening, about every 60 seconds!
We wee up on the “big screen” about every 60 seconds or so- front and center in our ridiculous-ness! Dorothy from KYXY on the left, Susan DeVincent to my right. I apologize that I don’t know the names of the other KYXY ladies!
Sweating Like a Hooker in Church
The event was great fun. There were vendors, a bit of food, drinks and fun to keep us entertained all evening. One of my favorite things was the zumba dancing. Let me tell you though, doing Zumba in a big-ass frumpy terry cloth robe had me sweating like a hooker in church! Not an easy feat! I think I may have come up with a new workout medium! This is like a combination of hot-yoga and Zumba combined! I may need to copyright this!
Hard to make out, but here we are doing “Zumba”- sweating it out! Me in the front left of group, Leona directly behind me, Stella in the middle of the group. On the big-screen the whole evening!
The “Queens” of KYXY
Susan DeVincent, Dorothy and all of the young gals that worked for the station were darling! So friendly and fun! Anytime you asked them anything, they were nice and accommodating. They all looked fabulous in their cute little “jammy” ensembles!
Love this saying from one of the vendors at the event! Isn’t this what I’m always telling you ladies?
There were a lot of fabulous vendors- selling bling, nail accessories, clothing, CHOCOLATE, cake pops, t-shirts, jewelry and more. What woman doesn’t have fun looking at all the stuff we already have too much of?
Loved this picture in front of one of the vendors- Chic Treasure. After all- Chic DOES happen! Stella and I proved that one!
My only complaint was with the food. They had chips and guac, pizza and cookies. I don’t know when in my life I have had worse pizza. Even the pizza at Chucky Cheese back-in-the-day when the kids were small was 100% better than this stuff! Harrahs’ – you’ve gotta’ do better than this. The cookies were just about as bad. KYXY- get some food vendors to come in and feed these women! I know there would be a lot of businesses that would LOVE the exposure! Give them free booth space and have them feed the women free. A win-win for us all!
This was a t-shirt one of the vendors was selling. #ChicTreasure. If it was a different color, I would have bought it in a heartbeat! REALLY- can you think of anything more perfect for “The Queen?”
One of the escape rooms had a booth, and on our way out the door we solved their puzzle. It took us some help from the guy running the booth to help us solve it, but we had a great time getting me unlocked from handcuffs before the clock ran out!
Patti at the “Puzzlalarium” booth. I’m holding the giant “diamond” which was in the secret box we uncovered!
Ladies, this is great proof of the one rule of life that I SO believe in. Don’t worry so much about what everyone thinks! Don’t be embarrassed about being YOU! Go out there and live your BEST life, your authentic life, your fun life- and people will respond in a positive way to you! If you have confidence – you can pull ANY damned thing off! We had much more fun in our weird, attention catching get ups than we would have had if we “blended in!” Every time I caught a view of myself, I couldn’t believe I looked that ugly- but it was worth every “ugly” minute!
Worshiping “The Queen”
Us with the young guy who came up and started “worshiping” me! Turns out, his momma’s name is Stella!
There were even a few men attending the event, and one came up to me and got down on his knees worshiping me! There you go- they know the Queen of Damn Near Everything when they see her even if she is hidden behind a face mask and frump!
We thought this mother and daughter wearing matching jammies was so cute!
I’ve got next year’s outfits all figured out already- now I just need to figure out how to get an invite again!
Stella and Patti with a “birthday girl”- and she had a light-up Harrahs tiara!
Sugar Jones- and the Angel Wings that inspired the whole search!
A few months ago, I noticed a profile picture on one of my “Facebook friends.” You know those FB friends you kind of acquire through some distant connection, then see their posts, begin to comment to one another, and find you have a connection? That’s what this was. Sugar Jones and I have crossed paths here and there throughout the years. Never actually “personal friends.”
Just last week we met for coffee and Sugar passed on some wisdom and great suggestions for growing my blog and my followers. We had a great time getting to know each other better, and immediately planned to get together again soon.
A while back, Sugar had posted her profile picture with some fabulous white angel wings I had asked her where she had taken the picture and she had told me she’d taken it in Sedona. Within days of Sugar and I having coffee, Don and I were leaving for a trip which was including Sedona, so I messaged Sugar asking her where to find the wings. She gave me a description of about where the store was- but you know how those things go! A year later you can’t remember the name of the store, just the general location.
Sedona and Angel Wings- they kind of go hand in hand, right? One can’t be Queen all the time- every once in a while I need to be “heavenly!”
Had to “make do” by sitting on the floor to get the picture! At least I found my wings!
The Search Begins!
So there we were. Determined to find the fabulous angel wings, because- dammit- I wanted MY picture with them! They were just so striking- I couldn’t just let it go. Thank God I have a man who will go on a wild goose chase with me, and not even complain about it! (In fact, he was as into the challenge as I was!)
We started out near the area Sugar mentioned- the New Age Center. Into the New Age Center we go, and asked everyone who worked there if they recognized the Angel Wings in the picture. No one did. Bummer. (Feel free to picture me with a sad little face…..)
We asked a few others in the same center. Same answer…. (Continue to picture my sad little face….. getting even sadder now….)
Then we happened upon a cute little kitchen store called The Artists’ Kitchen Shop. I picked up a few things there, (because goodness knows, I NEEDED a martini shaped cookie cutter and another tea towel with a snarky little phrase on it…) and when checking out, Don told me I should show them the picture, maybe they would know. By this point I figured NO ONE would know. But, low and behold….. both women were familiar with the wings and told us they were about “two little strip centers” up the street!
By that point, we had to get to our “Pink Jeep tour” of the ancient ruins, so we didn’t have much time to investigate. (Stay tuned for the story on Sedona! SO many interesting things to do and see!) We were driving right up that street, so I kept my eyes peeled- no Angel Wings to be seen.
We didn’t have any more time that day to search for the wings, but by this point searching for the wings had become a challenge. We put it on our agenda for the next morning.
The Search Continues…..
I was going to take a helicopter tour at about noon, so we had to find them before the tour. Off we went to the two centers that the “kitchen store” women thought they were in. No luck. We asked around at those centers. No, no, no, no……. until we hit another “new age” store (third one in that center). Luckily the cashier in that store had some news for us. Kind of “the good news, and the bad news.” He informed us that there had actually been two Sedona stores with angel wings out front. Theirs and another. Theirs had a wooden pair. They had gotten broken by the wind, and had been disposed of. The other store had the feather ones, but he didn’t think they had their either. He thought maybe they were being repaired due to damage. However, he did give us the exact store and location.
Here is the bench that Sugar was sitting in when she posed with the wings! I had to settle for posing with only my tiara! Poor little me!
Sure enough, we pulled up to the store, and there was the bench that Sugar had been sitting in in her “wing” picture. But, alas, no Angel Wings in sight!
Andy Phillips proved to be my “Wing Man” at Sedona Healing Arts!
We went in and inquired about the wings. It was confirmed that they had been taken down, awaiting repair. Don asked the gentleman who seemed to be the manager if there was ANY way we could see the wings. He told him why. Coincidentally, it turned out his name is Andy Phillips! What a warm and genuinely nice man! (Probably due to the name would be my guess……) Andy took us into the back room and let us see the beautiful wings. He then went out of his way to accommodate us taking a few pictures with the wings.
My photos aren’t as striking as Sugar’s – because the wings were just propped up on the floor in the back room of the store. But, at least I got to take some!
We had to make do with the Angel Wings! Perhaps on the next trip to Sedona I can “wear them” properly!
The Great “Angel Wing” Caper is Solved!
The great “Angel Wing” caper was solved! Perhaps you can’t understand the satisfaction I felt finding those wings- AND scoring a few photos with them. It is the little things sometimes, which I think lead to living a rich life. A fun life. A satisfied and delightful life.
Something that may seem silly to you, may be satisfying to me. Something that would delight you might leave me cold. Our differences are what make us individual. But I believe it is UNDERSTANDING what makes our life complete- and taking those little steps- that give us what I refer to as “A Royal Life.” I have determined to strive to make every day an a adventure. Seeking out the beautiful angel wings- JUST BECAUSE I wanted to was a bit of an adventure. Seeking them out, and finding were they were made a fun little memory for Don and me.
It just wouldn’t be right to tell you my story about the search for the Angel Wings, and not let you know where and how to find them, would it? After all, when you are in Sedona, I KNOW you are going to want to get a picture with the angel wings. There is even rumor that they may be SELLING angel wings soon! How cool would THAT be? (BTW- if they DO sell them, and you buy some, I get first dibs on coming over and getting my picture with them, because I let you know where to get them. Deal?)
Patti Outside Sedona Healing Arts. They have a beautiful mural on the side of the building.
To find the beautiful Angel Wings in the pictures here go to Sedona Healing Arts. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough that the wings will be back in front of the store when you stop in! 201 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336 Phone 928-282-3875 Website: https://sedonahealingarts.com
Don’t miss the cute little kitchen gadget shop we stumbled upon- The Artists’ Kitchen Shop- the ladies are REALLY nice there! 313 AZ-179 Ste C-14, Sedona, AZ 86336 928-862-4140
Check out Sugar Jones’ blog! You’ll love it! They don’t call her “Sugar” for nothin’! You’ll find her blog- Live the Sweet Life at http://www.livethesweetlife.com/
Sea Glass. I never really have given it much thought. I’ve seen some interesting jewelry made from it- typically at craft shows. Occasionally in a beach town tourist shop. I recently read a novel where the main character made jewelry with it as her trade. Basically, that’s about as much thought as I’d ever given to sea glass.
A few weeks ago we were floating around on a small cruise ship off the West Coast of Africa. On our last sea day there was a talk being given on sea glass jewelry. Choices being limited as to things to do at exactly that moment in time, I thought I’d attend the talk.
Sea Glass from Goree Island, thanks to Simon Cook
The talk was given by another passenger Jean Forman. She is a sea glass jewelry artist, and had a lot of interesting information to share.
I was amazed at how much there was to learn about something as seemingly “simple” as Sea Glass. Sea glass can often be up to 100 years old. It is becoming more valuable, as less and less glass bottles are being made. To find a piece of red or yellow sea glass is very rare, as virtually no bottles are made with those colors any longer.
Simon Cook’s photos of unusual “Sea Glass” treasures he has found over the years! Stoppers, marbles and other unusual pieces.
I was surprised to find out how valuable one of these rare pieces of glass could be! Jean stated that some pieces of the glass could sell for hundreds of dollars due to its rarity.
Jean shared that sea glass should have a “providence”- just like valuable artwork has a providence. Her jewelry all has a tag on it that tells where she found the particular piece of glass. In her talk, Jean stated that she has had great luck finding sea glass on beaches in Greece, Glass Beach at Fort Bragg and most recently, on our cruise stop in Goree Island in Dakar.
To find sea glass, you want to look on beaches where you see rocks. As the rocks come rolling in, so does the sea glass.
Glass found on Goree Island, in Dakar on our recent Silversea’s excursion through West Africa April 11-27 2018
One of the stops on this trip was at Goree Island. We actually had to take a ferry over from our ship. According to Jean and one of our expedition team, Goree Island proved to be a fabulous place for the sea glass collector! Both of them found a great bounty of sea glass to add to their collections!
As with anything valuable, or collectible, there are books that talk about the different colors of sea glass, and what type and age the bottles they come from may be. Obviously, some types and colors are more rare than others. In doing a bit of research on Sea Glass I found that some of the “extremely rare” colors of sea glass would be orange, red, black, teal and gray. Many of the more rare colors of sea glass were made from tableware. Most of us are more familiar with the soft greens, blues and white sea glass, which are the most common colors. That glass most often came from mass produced bottles, such as 7 up, Coca-Cola and other drinks.
Simon Cook’s creation of sea glass inside a glass tube lighted from within. Really lovely!
Simon Cook, of the expedition team on the Silversea Silver Cloud shared pictures of some of his sea glass. He had unusual stopper shaped glass, round marble shaped glass and other interesting pieces. He doesn’t make jewelry from his glass. He displays it in interesting glass bottles and vases. He shared one small bottle, which had been his father’s. In it are over 800 pieces of glass! You would never guess that to look at it.
Simon Cook’s bottle of Sea Glass
We’ve all heard about tumblers where you can make your own “sea glass.” You can also purchase it at stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby. This would be referred to as “cultured sea glass” and, obviously not as valuable. If a jewelry maker doesn’t give you the provenience of the piece of glass, it’s probably been made and/or purchased in this manner. It’s still lovely, but not as valuable as the true sea glass.
I’m not one to walk the beaches very often, but when I do, I’m always scouting for shells or other objects. Now I’ll have to take the time to look for a bit of beach glass, and see what story it has to share.
Sea Glass on the beach
To check out Jean Forman’s beautiful, hand crafted jewelry, go to https://www.custommade.com/by/luckyseaglassjewelry/
Thanks also to Simon Cook from the UK for use of his sea glass pictures for this article!
Everything You Need To Know About Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
One of the side streets in the Red Light District. You can see the red lights down the street.
As an American, I think it’s normal to be curious about the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a bit of a curiosity all the way around, with its legalization of drug use, prostitution and other carnal pleasures that aren’t legally allowed in the glorious US of A.
Amsterdam, seems to me the epitome of Liberalism, although I don’t believe that is what they call it. When you go to Amsterdam there are a number of sayings that you will hear the locals say. “As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, go ahead and do what you want.” “I see you through my fingers”, which means that they know what you are doing, but don’t really care.
The thing about this type of attitude, is that it seems to work. While the prisons and jails in America are burgeoning, in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands, it is just the opposite. They are nearly empty, and some have actually been closed down and turned into other uses, such as hotels.
A very typical Amsterdam Street. 4 story buildings, bikes and a canal down the middle!
All of Amsterdam, due to the water and canals, is mostly made up of buildings 4 stories tall. You will see an occasional 5 stories, but most of the 5th stories are made up of just one room. Narrow streets, divided down the middle by a canal. One narrow lane going one direction on one side of the canal, the other direction on the other side of the canal. The sidewalks are even narrower, so many of the pedestrians walk in the traffic lanes. Add to all of that THOUSANDS, literally THOUSANDS of bicycles, and it’s a bit of a clusterfuck! Then you have small “alley like” streets that run perpendicular to the main streets. These are equal to one narrow lane, and many don’t even have sidewalks.
Charming. That’s the way to describe Amsterdam. Completely charming. The architecture is beautiful. Most every building made of brick. Due to the quagmire it is built on, many buildings tip a little to the left, to the right or a bit front wards or backwards. Some may tip 2 or 3 of the direction that I mentioned. No one seems too worried, as they are 200, 300 or 400 years old and haven’t gone anywhere yet!
The amazing thing though? You don’t see aggravated drivers. You don’t see aggravated pedestrians. The bicyclists, for the most part are pretty calm weaving to and fro between it all….. Again, the Amsterdam attitude of you do your thing and I’ll do mine. Let’s all just get along.
A typical store throughout Amsterdam. You can buy various drugs, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms and much more!
The Red Light District
So, back to the Red Light District. What is it like? The streets look basically the same as other parts of Amsterdam, except there are a plethora of sex shops & erotic shops (which are just a sex shop with a different name!), sex “museums”, and a number of bars which have some sort of sex show or porn show. It kind of reminds me a bit of Bourbon Street in New Orleans- just missing the jazz music.
Keep in mind, little “coffee” is consumed at an Amsterdam coffee shop! The “coffee shops” are where you can go and puchase and smoke weed- all very legal. Just walking past most of them you can get a “contact high!”
The biggest difference that you see are the Red Lights, and the windows which accompany the Red Lights. Some blocks may have none, others may have 2, 4 or 12. So what does that all look like? Picture your typical front porch light. With a red bulb placed in it. Then, next to, or under the light will be a window, and the window usually has Red Velvet curtains in it. When the light is on, and the curtain is closed, that means the lady (the prostitute) is busy with a customer. When the light is not on, you will usually see the curtains closed. No one is working in that window, at that time.
Typical example of the windows the girls stand in.
An Open Curtain – Means Open for Business!
And then the thing that we Americans find SO fascinating……….. when the curtain is open, and there is a girl in the window. What do you see then? Most of the women you see are in their 20’s. They are wearing some type of lingerie. Most often a bra and panties with heels. It can vary of course. I was really surprised that I never saw any type of “bustier”, stockings and garters. I would assume that look would be prevalent. I also never saw any “nighties”. There were a few with the “school girl” look of a short pleated skirt. One had her nipples only covered with a couple of (ouch!) star-shaped stickers.
There are areas, evidently, where one can find some more “mature” women, larger women or even women-who-might-not-be-women. Those areas are a bit off on their own, not on the main drag.
The women are in their little “window” area. Many of the windows are groups, usually 3 together. Those windows are about the size of a typical front door. There were a few other windows, even smaller- typically set down about 2 feet below street level, and they were about 3 ft. by about 4 ft. then, there were other larger windows, about 6 or 7 feet wide. The wider windows actually showed you the whole room- bed and all. All of the beds were covered with a dark blue vinyl. Most of the rooms you could see were very clinical, not too “homey” and unattractive. We never saw a shower, and seldom a sink in any of them.
These are the “rare” windows, in that their curtains aren’t red velvet!
One of the larger “rooms” we saw in the main area had the usual vinyl covered bed, but also on display were numerous sex toys, wigs, whips and other BDSM equipment. The woman in this window was a bit older than the average girl we saw in other windows. (Darn it, I snuck a photo of her room, but can’t find it in my camera!)
The World’s “Oldest Profession”
So…….. How does it work you wonder? The women are behind their windows. Some are very actively interacting with the crowd, giving a cute wink or smile, a “come hither” look. Others look bored beyond belief. Some look plan ol’ scary and like you’d better not bother them. Some were on their cell phones. When someone has an interest, they motion to the lady, she opens her door, and negotiations are made as to the services offered or desired, and the price. We were told that the typical price is 50-75 Euros. That is for the “service” not for the time, and most sessions are considered about 15 minutes long. Evidently, if you want a specific time period, that is negotiated up front. Don’t ask me what happens to the poor gal who gets a guy who lasts forever and a day……….. I guess they have provisions for that!
Rules of the Red Light District
There are certain “rules” that everyone is supposed to abide by. Pictures of the women while behind their windows is strictly forbidden. There are a number of plain clothes police walking around, and they don’t take kindly to rule breakers! It is also said that the girls have been known to come out, grab your phone, and throw it in the nearest canal, or stomp on it and break it!
This is how people are expected to behave in the Red Light District. Sorry about the color, the nearby red lights were distorting the white background…..
There is actually a “10 Commandments” on how to behave toward the prostitutes which is expected. You can find it posted in the area.
They are as follows:
Do not take photographs or film
Do not tap or spit on the window
Be respectful toward the women
Do not peek through cracks in the curtains
Do not stand in front of the doors or windows
When visiting, pay in advance and discuss beforehand what is and is not permitted
Never have unprotected sex
Be Hygienic (clean and well groomed, not intoxicated)
When you suspect force or coercion, call the police on 09008844
Aggression is not tolerated.
There are a specific number of licenses given for the Red Light district. No new licenses have been issued for quite a number of years. One person can own more than one “window” which they rent out by shift. There are approximately 300 of the windows, or “prostitution rooms.” The ladies pay a specific amount per “shift” which is typically 10 hours. Most of the rentals are 150. Euros per shift, but some, depending on the location, day and time, could rent out for more – or less.
It is said that most of the ladies are “independent”- they work for themselves. But there is still some amount of “pimping” “managing” or as they call it ”lover boys”. Evidently, “pimping” used to be illegal, but in the past few years it was deemed to be legal. However, things are closely watched, to make sure that sex trafficking is not going on. In theory, in Amsterdam, everyone who is working as a prostitute does so of their own free will. Local authorities continuously investigate and inspect the working conditions of the prostitutes. It is also encouraged that if any customers suspect that someone is being forced into prostitution, they should report it, so the woman can be helped. There is an anonymous phone number that can be called to report issues, and that number is prominently displayed around the Red Light District. The safety of the prostitutes is taken very seriously in Amsterdam.
This is the suggested behavior for “on the job” success!
Taxes are filed by the women, in fact we went past a Tax Accountant’s office- and he advertised that his specialty was filing taxes for the Prostitutes. There are also required routine medical test to make sure they aren’t passing on any diseases.
In Amsterdam, there are also brothels and individual escorts. All must be licensed. The brothels are located all around, not just the red light district. It is the responsibility of the brothels and the owners of the “windows” to make sure that the women are properly checked out, and that none of them are being forced into work by anyone else.
I don’t think much sleeping goes on in these rooms! This may have been a bordello, but no one would really give us an answer on that!
Museums, Museums…….. Everywhere!
Another interesting fact about Amsterdam is that it seems you can call just about anything a “museum” and charge people to enter. In the Red Light District there were The Sex Museum, The Eroticism Museum and The Museum of Prostitution, among others.
We visited The Museum of Prostitution. It was interesting, but I wouldn’t say we picked up any astonishing information, or learned any big fact about prostitution in the Red Light District that we hadn’t picked up by talking to someone we knew who lives in the area.
Patti in front of the Prostitution Museum
Obviously, we weren’t the only ones a bit curious about the famous “Red Light District.” It is estimated that over 6 million people visited the Red Light District of Amsterdam in 2017, and that over 60% of all tourist go to see it personally.
So, let’s see if we have this right. Prostitutes are licensed, taxes are paid, diseases are kept to a minimum, things are policed for everyone’s safety, the jails aren’t filled beyond capacity- and the rest of Amsterdam basically feels like “live and let live”- basically not caring if someone partakes or doesn’t partake.
Can someone explain to me why in the world our country is so antiquated and doesn’t do the same thing? If people want to participate in prostitution on either end of the spectrum, they are going to. Filling our jails with adults who have both consented to a sexual act doesn’t make sense to me. People involved in that act shouldn’t have to worry about their safety, whether it is the woman, or the man.
I’m all for the Amsterdam attitude of “live and let live” and “as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, go ahead and do what you want.”
I hope this little article answers some of your curiosity about the Red Light District!
EXCITING NEWS! I am putting together a fabulous event, and YOU can be a part of it if you’d like!
Just about everything you need to know about the fun!
A CRUISE for my fantastic gal-pals! Whether we are “old friends”, new acquaintances, or have never met- you are certain to have the time of your life! There will be more than just what the cruise-line offers!
If you have been to any of my events- you KNOW I go above and beyond to make sure you will leave with far more than your expectations met! After all, they don’t call me “The Queen” for nothing!
This 4 night cruise will take place in April 2019- (so you have PLENTY of time to work it in to your budget!)
We will leave San Diego April 29th 2019, cruise up to Victoria, then end up in Vancouver!
The cruise is on Holland America, the MS Eurodam!
Your 4 nights will include a group of fantastic women!
* Events to get to know each other better, a few light seminar/workshops while at sea.
* All your meals
*On board activites- both ship-sponsored and private to our group
*Workshop/seminars for our group (optional to you!)
*** After the cruise for those who would like to extend, we will be taking the train to Seattle for a 2 or 3 night stay there. After all- who DOESN’T want to see them throw fish around Pike’s Market????
Think you may be interested? Contact me, or my fabulous travel agent, Adele (her info is on the flyer attached!)
I will guarantee you, we will have an AMAZINGLY FUN adventure……….. or my name isn’t The Queen of Damn Near Everything!
I’ve been buried eyes deep in packing boxes, fresh from the “big move.” Racing to make the new house “home” so that we can get back to the pace of real life again. You’ll hear more about that adventure soon. Since I haven’t had much time to write, I thought I’d post my first “guest blogger” and share this lovely article, Ode to Summer, with you.
Enjoy! I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did when I read it.
Ode to Summer
Those lazy, crazy days of summer! Photo Credit Suzanne Scheve 2017
I’m sitting on a California beach watching my daughter jump the waves. This year we swapped our annual crazy road trip for a stay on the west coast, and at the end of an idyllic, albeit busy, ten day vacation with my family, I suddenly find myself staring at a new school year lurking just around the corner. While I’m excited to get my class list and finish organizing my room, I’m definitely not ready for summer’s last hurrah.
When I was my daughter’s age, I counted the days to our annual two-week beach trip by number of sleeps until the big day arrived. We didn’t own a car, so travel was by motor coach to the south coast of England, a 7-8 hour mostly tedious journey, endless motorways finally giving way to the first views of the twinkling blue waves at the bottom of the hill as we pulled into the bus station at our destination.
We always stayed at a B&B for our fortnight of sand, sea, and sun; usually chosen sight-unseen from a holiday book, sandwiched somewhere along a row of Victorian three-storey homes, mostly the same on the outside, but revealing the personal stamp of the owners on the inside. Creaky floorboards, uneven staircases, and old paisley carpets were de rigeur, however; along with the smells of morning bacon wafting up the stairs as we woke to the alarm call of the gulls wheeling in the impossibly-blue skies; the sound of stainless steel spoons in bowls of cereal, the scrape of knives and forks as you ate up every scrap of that full English breakfast which always tasted better on holiday.
Nell at the beach, Cardiff, CA. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017
Sand Castles and Salty-Sea-Lips
Most days were unplanned but usually had the same routine – heading down the Chine to the beach with a towel (sometimes splurging on a deck chair); digging sand castles with a new bucket and spade; salty-sea-lips, mixed in with the taste of suncream and lunchtime baps filled with tomatoes, cheese, the obligatory packet of crisps, and some form of lunchmeat. Most importantly, it was essential to time the return to the B&B perfectly so that we’d be first to stake a claim on the communal bathroom – otherwise we’d be relegated to a quick cold dip in the tub, or worse, a ‘lick and a promise’ with Quickies and cold water in our attic twin room. The bedroom sink did double duty as an underwear rinsing station too: M&S smalls hung to dry on a makeshift clothesline outside the window – and never a problem until one day a gust of wind blew a very sparkly pair of my purple knickers off the window sill and onto the No Vacancy sign in the parking area, where they remained until Mum rather sheepishly reclaimed them before dinner that night.
On the days when the tide was high and the beach area was reduced to a few feet, we’d take day trips to explore nearby towns and sights: a local safari park and forest, miniature recreations of British and worldwide monuments; we’d play mini-golf or time-waste in thAe penny arcade; or shop for souvenirs at Beale’s or W.H. Smith’s. In the evenings, we’d walk into town or hop on the open top bus and ride the cliff roads with views of the bay: the Aqua show, Pier Theatre, and the fairy lights in the Public Gardens were always at the top of our post-dinner to-do list.
Sometimes we would go to the pictures – I remember seeing the Sound of Music for the first time and crushing on Colonel Von Trapp; belly-laughing at the corny jokes of Airplane!; and the summer of the disaster movie – Earthquake with the simulated shaking in the theatre; Towering Inferno with a sweaty Paul Newman and George Kennedy; and Jaws of course, after which every innocuous black shape in the sea caused a mild panic on the beach.
Years later, I look back at old photographs and find great joy in those memories of childhood summer holidays. How lucky I was! And how lucky I am in my summers now, to be able to spend many days off with my own daughter. My Junes are filled with swim team and Vacation Bible School – quite possibly the best summer invention ever; my Julys and early Augusts calendared with trips by road or plane to visit family.
This summer, my goal was to get my house in order and focus (my one little word for 2017) on the myriad personal projects I never have time for during the school year. I’ve organized and reorganized my pantry, kitchen, and the bedrooms; prepped for my new classroom; purged, tossed, and shredded paper piles; donated, sold, and put away the contents of my closet; finally tackled my tangled up jewellery boxes; read more books for pleasure than for professional development; and most importantly, carved out serious quality time making new summer memories with my girl.
My grand daughter, Nell and “grand dog” Toro, a.k.a “Mush” Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017
Last week, on our connecting flight here, I found myself sitting next to a mother who had recently lost her Navy son to a tragic accident. She was on her way to give comfort to her daughter-in-law, who was drowning in despair, struggling to come up for air with a seven-month old son. We talked about loss; about hanging on to faith by your fingernails when everything seems overwhelming; how there is no timeline on grief; how anxiety and depression can overwhelm your soul in those early days of loss; and how the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can seem as unattainable as the summit of Everest when the pain of loss is but a few days old.
Time Waits for No Man……. or Woman
In 9 days, I will be exactly the same age as my husband was when he left this earth – 52 years and 98 days old. 28 days after that will be the 6th anniversary of his passing. My daughter is a rising 5th grader who will turn 11 in October. She tells me she remembers his voice. I hear his laugh in hers, and see his kindness in her thoughtful ways. She is his legacy of love.
Stopping the clock to freeze our favourite moments in time; pushing the snooze button on summer; tweaking the past with a time-turner – these are not available options for us. In times of loss, it’s easy to clutch at the past, as a drowning man grabs for a lifebelt. Time passes, and the rawness of immediate grief gives way to what is often called a new normal (I hate that term by the way); we resolve to go forward; to try to live our best lives, appreciate what we have, while we have it. To be present in the moment and enjoy those simpler pleasures. Dust bunnies and laundry can wait til tomorrow. Our lives shouldn’t be measured by piles of stuff, but too often, those piles become our defining memories.
Simple Pleasure of Summer
So summer of 2017, here’s to you and your simple pleasures…..
….to lazy days of walking on the beach and jumping the waves….
…..to that can’t-put-down novel and languishing in luscious language……
…..to sunburned shoulders and freckled faces…..
…..,to diving in the deep end of a pool and blowing bubbles through noses….
…..to cold pizza and icecream for breakfast, juicy watermelon dripping down chins, and everything good to eat…..
…to sleeping in on weekday mornings, and napping on the wraparound porch as the hummingbirds dive bomb the hanging baskets like kamikaze pilots…..
Cheers to you, summer…..
Cardiff-by-the-Sea CA. Beach. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017
A bit about the author:
Suzanne Scheve is a single mom and a third grade teacher living in Houston, Texas, with her daughter, dog, and cat. She enjoys traveling, cooking, eating anything on a plate, and hanging with her extended family in California, St. Louis, and on the East Coast.
Suzanne is also my step-daughter, from a previous marriage (it’s complicated, and FAR too difficult to explain here! She is also the fabulous mother of my only Granddaughter, Nell. Suzanne is a talented writer and photographer, in addition to her other previously named skills. I will vouch for her love for travel, cooking and eating! I have witnessed her abilities in all 3 activities!
Just days after they were with us for our summer visit, and their return home to Houston, Hurricane Harvey hit. Luckily, their home wasn’t damaged, and they were not impacted as severely as many there were. We are blessed to have these two females as a vibrant and important part of our family.
By the way, If you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog, do it now! As soon as the boxes and clutter are cleared away, and I can get back to “real life” I’m going to be running some fabulous “subscriber only” contests! You don’t want to miss your chance at fabulous free stuff—- do you?SUBSCRIBE ALREADY!
One of the thousands of Rosebuds at the San Jose Rose Garden.
Don and I just had a quick little get away to the San Jose area. (If you are anywhere near my age, the song, “Do you know the way to San Jose” popped in your head the minute you read where we had been, didn’t it? Come on, admit it!) Typically, when I am up in that area, I’m a San Francisco girl. I can’t ever get enough of that city! But this trip, we didn’t even venture into the city. We stayed right around the San Jose area.
We had a fun and relaxing time, and got in a lot of sightseeing. The first evening in town, we had dinner at a fabulous restaurant in Palo Alto called St. Michael’s Alley. If you are in that area and have a chance, I’d highly recommend it! We were at a private dinner function in a back dining room, with limited menu choices. I got a scallop dish that was out of this world, and Don had lamb. Let me tell you, I’d go back for either one of those dishes! My seared sea scallops were served on a slice of Yukon potatoes, with a bit of bacon on top and an herb butter sauce. I’m not too proud to admit, it was all I could do not to pick up the plate and lick it! Don of then started his meal with a delicious Lobster bisque and I had a wonderful salad of a variety of tomatoes with burrata. Yummm! We even went all out and ordered dessert. The service was impeccable, the company was delightful and the setting was lovely. Try it out if you get to Palo Alto, or frankly, anywhere in the nearby area! It would be worth going a bit out of your way for.
Kind of A Dummy!
(I thought my new crush was kind of cute, but it turned out, he was kind of a “dummy” and not much of a conversationalist either!)
The next day, after a relaxing breakfast and a read of the paper, Don wanted to go to the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View. Now mind you, a girl who really isn’t all that techy wouldn’t put this “tourist attraction” at the top of her list, but since he accommodates my every whim, how could I possibly say no? This museum gives you info on “computers” all the way back to the abacus! I will admit, it was more interesting than I expected it to be!
Sitting by my new crush!
My favorite part of the museum was the crash test dummy. I just had to have my picture done with him! Turn out, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, as they say! Not much of a conversationalist either!
Don enjoyed himself, and that’s what matters most!
Don was checking out his photos after “geeking out!”
Then we were off to a delicious lunch. Don’t you just love how, nowadays, you just ask for the top restaurants near you, and WHAM- you can find a delicious place to eat, without taking much of a risk of getting a bad meal! Thanks to “Siri” and her help, we found The Voya Restaurant, in Mountain View. The restaurant was an unexpected delight! We had a charming server, and we went with his suggestion of a house specialty pork dish, Cochinita Pibil which we shared. It proved to be as delicious as he promised, and more than enough to fill us up! Once again, I’d suggest stopping by if you are in the area. It’s well worth the trip!
Enjoying a fabulous “get away” lunch at the Voya Restaurant, Mountain View, CA
The Winchester Mystery House
The back garden of the Winchester Mystery House
Then, on we went to a tourist attraction I’ve wanted to see for over 30 years- The Winchester Mystery House. We were there for HOURS, and even then, the tours we took only covered less than 100 of the 160 rooms in the house! This woman didn’t know the meaning of “enough is enough!” I won’t cover this attraction in too much detail, because I plan another blog about it soon. My suggestion is that when you go- wear comfortable shoes! Just on the main tour alone, you cover more than 1 mile, and I can’t even begin to imagine how many steps, up and down, down and up!
Our evening ended up with seeing the movie Dunkirk and my dinner was a HUGE ice cream cone at the theater. I guess I subscribe to the saying “Life is short, eat dessert first!” I figured I could use the “I’m on vacation” excuse for this one!
San Jose Rose Garden is a spectacular treat for the senses! Not to mention, it’s FREE!
He Never Promised Me a Rose Garden…….
Hundreds and hundreds of rose bushes make up this spectacular, world famous rose garden! The perimeter of the garden has beautiful, stately Redwood trees. What a beautiful combination!
Our last day, we went to see the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, which has been voted “the world’s best rose garden.” It is truly a beautiful sight to see, with literally hundreds of rose varieties, and they are surrounded by beautiful redwoods. Dead center in the middle of the roses is a beautiful fountain. At first glance, the fountain almost looks like it is made of crystal or clear glass. The whole park is a delight to see.
When you first see the fountain, it appears to be made of glass or crystal!
We were told by a volunteer who was cutting back some of the roses that just before Mother’s Day is the most spectacular time to see the roses here. We plan to return, Don with camera and tripod in hand to capture the beautiful sight!
Beautiful roses, every size, every color, and all with different scents!
No matter where we travel, we always seem to have a great adventure, and it’s always fun to share it with my friends!
My theory is that money spent on travel is the best money you will ever spend! DON’T WAIT until you have money and time to take the biggest trip possible! Fit in those little 2 or day adventures into your life! They are well worth it, and can be done on a budget, if that is what you need to do!