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The Road to Hollywood Forever is a Lifetime

I walk, drawn to side streets by colors of street art. I have stopped often but as Bill Murray’s character would say “It just doesn’t matter!” I am in Hollywood.  p1480001

Continuing on the color theme (not for long, I promise) there’s a building that just can’t help but catch my attention. It’s pink and garish and pretentious to call itself Hollywood Dream Suites. I suspect that they are not. I later find out that it’s a hotel and from the reviews I read, I may have been right.

I pass Raleigh Studios where I once filmed an episode of Castle.

Across the street is Paramount Studios.

I wasn’t specifically meaning to go to where it all ends for some, but the end of the year was approaching and there was some poetry into visiting a cemetery.  I had visited before but it was at night and my attention was held by a projection of an old movie on one of its mausoleums. A bit heretical perhaps but in Hollywood there is little that seems inappropriate.

I am greeted by a creature that is very much alive and quite interested in the chips I’m chomping down on.

 

p1480004 Near the entrance here is a little section that seems straight out of Southeast Asia. Possibly Thailand. I reminisce and long to be back.

p1480005  The niches of some are still decorated for Christmas. Very much a Latino/Mexican culture tradition.

I walk into some mausoleums. It is peaceful but cold inside. They draw you to whisper rather than hear your voice bounce back to you in an loud echo.

It is in one of them, a smaller one, where Judy Garland rests.

I go outside and enjoy the day and the greenery and flowers which abound.

This cemetery, dare I say, amuses me. There are people with sense of humor recorded forever in the engravings they commission on their tombs.

A graphic artist has his tomb shaped as a rocket. I believed that it was his way to ensure a direct flight to heaven. But engraved is “The atlas, pioneer in space, symbolizes the lifetime activities of Carl Morgan Bigsby, a recognized leader in many phases of the graphic arts, he too was a pioneer.”  The atlas, an exact scale of the original missile The Pioneer Atlas.  His tomb reads Carl Morgan Bigsby 1898 – 1959… RETIRED BY GOD.  Sad that he would not be able to see the smiles generated from that line.

And of course, it’s Hollywood so a film camera portrayed in granite adorns the tomb of a foreign director. p1480016

And what is film without music? Johnny Ramone still plays on his grave next to the film director.

Hatie McDaniels has a surprisingly humble tombstone. She was the “mammy” figure in the film Gone with the Wind.  In 1940 she got an Academy Award for best supporting actress. She was the first African American to receive an Oscar. p1480020

The grave of Irene Guadagno “Mama Irene” caught my attention because she had my middle name -which I never liked so please forget I mentioned it- and because it was pretty cool to me the posture with raised arms with which she was immortalized. Since then I learned that was an Italian entrepreneur mother of Pasquale Rotella (who was married to Holly Madison of Playboy fame). p1480022

Anton Yelchin, an actor, who was killed at 27, in a freak accident when his car crushed him against a security fence is looking on to the cemetery lake. His grave is marked 3-11-89 – Forever. p1480025

And then there’s Toto, who is not buried here but has a granite statue of him in remembrance.

Mickey Rooney is here.

Entering another mausoleum before they close all at 5:00 pm. It almost feels like going into a European museum hall.

More smiles as I exit and encounter another tombstone of an English actor that only has the date of death and not of birth. So like an actor to never reveal his/her age.p1480039

Marzie Harris was a Loving Mother, Sister, Daughter… and occasional wife. I wonder if that engraving was her idea. p1480052

There’s a lake that has a small island with a huge mausoleum. It belongs to William Andrews Clark Jr. a philanthropist and a lawyer who founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The lake is tranquil and full of life.

On the peripheral of the cemetery there is more life. There’s a group of cats, all white and black, that consider this their home as well as some peacocks that make any visiting car wait for long minutes until they cross the path.

On the way out an angel makes me sad. p1480059

I leave and roam the streets some more, searching for color. I don’t walk long before encountering it.

Can’t resist the urge to end the day with a sweet treat. A YumYum Donut with fresh icing on it. Life continues. p1480072

 

 

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No Canals Today

I’m in Venice but it’s not Italy. It has canals but I won’t visit today.  It’s around 8:30 and I hurry to put my warm-ups on and head out to the beach before the Saturday crowds arrive. VeniceBeach  I like encountering people along the way that take it as a fact that only a local could be out and about early morn. A commonality, real or assumed, that brings out the most cordial in people. I get many good mornings along the way.

I love the vibe and the creativity this town emanates. Apparent even on the sidewalk. I stop so often, my walk may be sabotaged by it.

A brief look up to be puzzled by people forming a line for an Adidas sale at a local store: 9

Then there are the murals which are everywhere and unavoidable. 

On empty lots: 10

On a house’s fence:   11

I found it of note that the wall chosen by a homeless was one devote of any: 12

Another with a burst of color: 13

As I walk by, a memory comes of a meal at a restaurant I like, The Butcher’s Daughter, where I said goodbye to a friend heading north. 14

Venice makes me smile, even with its requests: 15

Back to the murals. This one always makes me stop and ponder a bit. She looks so sad and introspective. 16

And very apropos, the next thing that catches my eye is this one of  TrustyScribe of a subject that is so misunderstood and so few of those affected (the one with it and those around them) know how to handle. 17

More murals, this one with French. 18

Oh, and if your breakfast wasn’t dope… here’s a food truck (their proliferation competing with the murals) who is “making breakfast dope again”. 🙂 19

Some murals are pretty intricate. 20

Art is everywhere. Some exulting your civic duty along with your emotional one. 21

I love the beach cottage/bungalow construction but I really like Victorian houses as well and this one stands out. 22

I’m getting hungry… yes, I’d love some but am on this Keto diet (a very low carb thing) and still have pounds to go. A confession… I’ve been off it so mayyyybe…

23

I pass the Ellison Suites  24 with its super cool murals. 24A It amuses me that they also had to write on it: “This is not a hotel.” probably from the myriad of inquiries they get. 25

I think this quote by Lana del Rey defines Los Angeles… “Singing in the old bars, swinging with the old stars, living for the fame…”

26

And then there’s Jim.

Instructing us to “Try to set the night on fire” 29

Murals with depth and little stencil animals abound.

I am now on the beach. A VW bus bursting in color and nostalgia… and merchandising. 32

The people in this town as colorful as the murals.

 

I LOVE hugging and what this mural means.    35

Mural competing with the architecture. 36

This time, it’s mosaic tiles: 37

Can’t walk my bike (I don’t have one and never learned to ride!). 

38

Did I mention it was Christmas?  

I think this mural confused even the birds. 40

This mannequin fits right in with the crowd. I think it had on too many. 41

I put my feet on the beach just in case you doubt that there any water and sand in my walk.  I take the obligatory shots. 

The sea is rough today attracting many surfers.

 

Who said you can’t stand on water?  

 

Californians can do it all because Cali is gold…  P1470796

I remind myself that I am still on a diet and manage to avoid two of my favorite things: funnel cakes and soft ice cream. 

It helps to remind myself that I am in Venice a town where most are a size 2 (though I’ll never be that again). And those that aren’t, are working at getting as buff and in shape as possible. The guy playing paddle had only one arm and was playing harder than the others. Gives me little excuse. Muscle Beach is deserted probably because it is a bit too early for them to show off. 

Not too early for a photo shoot.

P1470787

But I digress, so back to the murals where I am a voyeur as bunnies get some action. 🙂 P1470813

I have to detour because the alley I took was blocked off and I encounter so many more murals. Some advertising stores, food trucks, restaurants, some on private homes, some just as adornment. All pretty cool, coloring my path.

A bit of colorful history.: when Mr. Abbot Kinney built Venice of America, Main Street was a canal. Guess that technically means I can walk on water. 

P1470820

Nearing home I realize that I really am a Venice fan. 

P1470804

P1470812

Knock, knock… where will I go next? 

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A Very Strange Unillustrated Morning

As I make my way on the side streets towards the freeway, I have to avoid going over a tabby cat that must have been killed last night. (Yes, it was definitely dead when I saw him). Not a good start to the day.

I could of taken it as an omen. It is Friday the 13th after all, but I choose to see life’s fragility and nurture a determination to live every moment well.

As I crank up my music, I ease myself into the “fast” lane of the freeway, which is bumper to bumper. A Prius catches my attention, a dark electric blue I had wanted mine to be. And I smile because the driver shakes with laughter, covering her mouth with her arm raised in a “v”. I am almost side-by-side to her now. Though she is in fact shaking she’s not laughing, but crying. She brushes the tears forcefully from her eyes. I almost hit the car in front of me. She is oblivious of anything around her . Her signal light goes on. She can’t possibly do this safely in her condition so I slow down significantly, giving her space. She is now in front of me. Her signal light still on. So I help her maneuver lanes by opening some space changing lanes along with her. She’s getting off. Without knowing why, I follow as she exits.

She parks, as do I behind her. I get out of my car and approach hers. I startle her. She lowers her window about an inch, an inquisitive look on her tear-streaked face. She’s a mix, as am I, I don’t much know of what. A thought that everyone should have their DNA test done to possibly eliminate discrimination pops into my head. Her hair, long and semi-straight is not combed. “Are you alright?” What a stupid question I pose. Of course she is not. Her already small eyes recede into her face, her mouth quivers and shapes itself into a grimace. She sobs. I wonder what I’m doing here. “I have a bottle of water in my car. Wait here.” I bring it back and hand it over as she brings the window down. Her naked left hand is placed on my wrist as she grabs the bottle with her right hand, which I notice has huge rings on every finger making her physically as unbalanced as she probably is emotionally. I don’t know what to say. She is looking ahead now, still crying. Stupidly I blurt: “Promise me you won’t drive until you are better”, knowing that it may take a long time and that, in fact, it may never be so. I hold the hand that had held my wrist. I pat it. I ask if she wants me to stay. She briefly and fastly shakes her head no. I go back to my car. I realize that she has not said a word.

I drive two blocks, take a turn and park on a side street. I take a deep breath. I think of how completely useless I have been. I haven’t comforted her, resolved any of her issues, angst, or even know what brought on her crying. I only know that she was in enough pain that she didn’t care that a total stranger saw her breakdown. And though clueless as to the whys of her wallowing in so much sorrow I believe she had a broken heart. Being young, she may not realize there are many more ahead. I drive on.

======================================================================

I have decided to end my blogs with a song or two. Sometimes related to the blog, sometimes not. For this one, two songs come to mind from an Irish singer, songwriter, musician who displays much empathy and understanding of life. Jamie Lawson was the first act signed to Ed Sheeran’s recording label, Gigerbread Man Records. He became well known by a song that related a lifelong love story: “Wasn’t Expecting That“.

I wish I could have shared “A Little Mercy” and “Sometimes It’s Hard” with the girl:

A Little Mercy

“…There’s no shame in sharing how you’re feeling
There’s no gain in keeping your pain inside

If your sorrows have been left unspoken
Like broken bells, they no longer chime
If you’re coming undone
You won’t be the only one
We all need a little mercy sometimes

Hold on, you’re only a heartbeat away
From turning your world around
Hold on, nothing’s ever over
No matter how far you fall down
All that once was lost can be found…”

Sometimes It’s Hard

“Sometimes it’s hard to get through your working day
And find the words to say
Everything’s okay
When you feel differently inside
You feel you’re gonna break…

“Rest assured this will not last,
Rain that falls it has to pass,
And the sun, it will shine again…”

 

 

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A Day Late of the Day of Thanks

P1400031 (1)I am grateful for, as Violeta Parra’s song “Gracias a La Vida” says: Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto. Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco. (Thanks to life, which has given me so much. It gave me two beams of light, that when opened, can perfectly distinguish black from white). P1090656

20171123_113241   I am grateful for my legs with which I have walked, gotten lost, discovered and have found my way again.

I am grateful to have led a life that has been enriched by many cultures.

I am fortunate to have traveled to many corners of our globe and been able to immerse myself in other people’s worlds.P1170385

So fortunate to have never lost that child in me that marvels at everything she encounters.   20170608_083434

P1000255To have the ability to link words to relay what I feel and see, has given me such joy, for it creates an avenue in which others can share in my experiences. I wish that with them I’ve been able to weave a shawl in which my readers can cocoon themselves, if only for a brief time, from anything that may ail them.

I am grateful that with the passage of time I have learned to accept myself with all flaws and that though I don’t always like them -seldom in fact- I have learned that if you wish me to be better or different, you should not accompany me in this journey called life. That if you cannot accept my dark days you then don’t deserve to share my good ones. Guess that means that I have learned to love myself and am extremely fortunate, that when I did not, I have had friends that have loved me more than I was capable of at the time.

I so very much treasure that hug, that call, that post, the shared coffee/drink/meal which has saved me in more ways than one. LoveHence I am grateful for your presence in my life, no matter how brief. It has left a mark and taught me much. No real way to thank those who lent me their hand, their ear, their warmth on a more permanent way.

I am grateful to have accepted and dealt with the storms along the way and to have been able to enjoy the clarity that inevitably follows.  P1260629 (2)

I am grateful that I am having a hard time condensing the list of that which I am grateful for and that they far outweigh the bad.

I am grateful to be. I hope that I have, even in the slightest of ways, graced your list of what you are thankful for.20171123_112505

What are you grateful for?

 

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About last night…

I get home and play with Viola and Falstaff, my fur-babies niece and nephew, for a while. I stop, make sure their cat flap is on lockdown, put on the alarm and head out. Nothing out of the ordinary. Going to get a bite to eat and come back.

I have a bloody mary and fries at Zinqué which satisfies my nostalgia for France since I think the owner is French and it is spoken all around me, but it leaves me feeling guilty for the calories I inhaled. So I walk for a bit.

I am walking away from the house towards the beach, where I walk every day, with no intention of actually reaching the beach. Ah, but I look up and the allure of a sky that predicts a truly glorious sunset cannot be ignored. 20170801_195348

So I go, already feeling the sand between my toes.

There is some hesitation in my step for I won’t be able to share this one with anyone. 20170801_194918All hesitation vanishes when I direct my sight to this sky with its fading light, and color show. 20170801_195601   20170801_195135_001Tonight the sky is all mine. And the embrace I receive is from life itself reassuring me that all will be alright. 20170801_195408

My mind and body slow down and I take it all in. Though I’ll never be a beach bum, a beach girl I am. Fitting, for it is Yemanyá, the goddess of the sea and moon, who is my mother orishá.

A reminder to write along the way.  20170801_200152  20170801_200139

 

 

And another that my gender rocks.

 

And another…. 20170801_200237 (1)

 

And I reach home content.

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A Face in a Pasadena Hop

I have learned to live with myself and my aloneness. I even like it. Yet, on this Sunday brunch day –my ears on sound overload with the cacophony of adult laughter and little kids’ high pitched voices infused with an enthusiasm only they can muster in whine and wonder– the word “alone” acquires a connotation I dislike.

I sense a weird stillness next to me. I turn my head as much as I can, trying to not be too conspicuous. Her head is bent slightly. Her short, jet-black hair pulled back with a slickness no gel could possibly achieve. A headband placed there for pure adornment, for no strand moves. She looks sprung out of one of those Japanese anime. Her food is lined up in front of her: brioche toast floating in a lake of maple syrup, followed by a plate of scrambled eggs, and a little further a bowl of fresh fruit, and coffee, on the far edge of the table, too far for her to reach. She picks up her fork and starts playing with her scrambled eggs. Not a bit of it reaching her mouth. She shakes her head slightly and turns it towards me. Though fascinated, I turn mine away.

From the corner of my eye I see her shove the brioche plate away from her, placing it to facilitate its removal by the waitress. She brings the scrambled eggs plate closer to her, still playing with it. She takes a bite.

My food arrives and I salt it, spilling some of it on the table. I gather the spillage in a little mound, take a pinch of it and, in a move I hope nobody notices, I flick it over my left shoulder. The myth is that if you spill salt it’s bad luck and if you throw it over your left shoulder, where the devil supposedly waits, you will blind him and thwart his evil ways. I’m not superstitious but just in case… I feel a stare and meet her eyes. My behavior probably as strange to her as hers is to mine. She is blazingly staring at me but there is no life in her eyes. I doubt she actually even sees me.

She returns to her eggs and moves it to where she had left her now gone brioche plate. Seems like it all is perfectly choreographed. She brings the fruit bowl closer. Lowering her head she lets it meet her hands and cups it for a moment. I’m not sure if she’s praying or mourning. Picking up her fork she puts piece by piece into her mouth in an almost frenzied pace. And then she stops. Breathes. Lifts herself up a bit from her chair, reaches for her probably now cold coffee and holding it in two hands she takes little sips until there is no more.

At this point I make no attempt to make believe I’m not staring. She doesn’t seem to mind, care or acknowledge me.

Our checks arrive at the same time. I asked for mine. Hers just seemed to magically appear. Our change came in unison as well and I become part of this dance she has choreographed. Fitting that the only two lone diners were placed side by side.

As I am mentally thanking her for entertaining me through my breakfast she looks up as we exit and gives me one of the most disconsolate smiles that I have ever seen. It seems that her alone is not as welcomed or accepted as mine. It saddens me.

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Letting Go and Feeling Naked Once Again…

Two years ago I wrote a blog, On Feeling Naked…, that revealed more of me than I really wanted to.   A lot has happened since.  This post, is a bit of a continuation on a tradition that I started back then.    It won’t deal with travel, Travel as most of you are used to from me, and neither will it have photos that may delight or appeal.  It won’t be long, or at least I don’t mean it for it to be so.  It’s a bit of a stream of consciousness so I perfectly understand if you – just about now – decide to leave.  Monks, kids, leaving

 

I twist it around my finger.  It is loose.  I slowly, very slowly start sliding it off.  My movement is fluid but comes to an abrupt halt as it reaches the nail bed.  Wedding Band, Gold Band I twist the band once again, close my eyes and, in one swift move, slide it into my right hand gripping it and surrounding it.  Three years ago my movements were reversed and I was sliding my mom’s wedding band on.  It took me almost two years  to be able to take it off.   I lost track of where it was after that and assumed I lost it.  In the first days of January of this year it surfaced unexpectedly.  I took it as a sign and decided that I would wear the simple gold band the first two months of the year as a tribute to the union that gave birth to me and made me who I am. Both my parents passed in 2010.  My mom in January and my father in February.  Today, the last day of February, it is time to take it off once again.

Pouting  I hate goodbyes. Goodbye Looking back a few years, it seems that I have been bidding farewell to so very much.  To places.  To life as I know it.  To sentimental bonds.  Every one of those separations, be they physical or emotional has brought me a greeting of some sort that has made me happy, Happy changed me and enriched me but I still am not fond of them.

The band is still ensconced in my hand.   I open my fist and am certain that I will not wear it again.  This time I must really let go.  The song from Disney’s Frozen, Let It Go, comes to mind and am grateful that it does,: for one line says: “Let it go, let it go and I’ll rise like the break of dawn…”

You will always be with me Mom and Dad MaandPa and I will forever be grateful for so much that you have given me.  You can let go of my hand now.  I need to take the rest of the journey alone.  I'll Be Fine

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Fog Guides Me Back to What I Love

It suddenly gets dark in my home office and as I glance out my window I see… nothing.  An afternoon fog has cloaked the beach and the pier and has made them invisible.  I’ve been yearning for a reason to stop doing what I should be doing and haven’t started doing so in a move I have not done in a long time, I reach for my camera, get my iPod and head out without a second thought.

fishermen, pier, Long Beach, Belmont Veterans Memorial PierAs I walk out to the pier the fog is still thick but it doesn’t stop the fishermen from going to their usual spot.

The lifeguards wouldn’t be able to see much if they were at their post.

Lifeguards, Long Beach, fog, beach

The Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in Long Beach is home to homeless, to fishermen, to seagulls, pelicans (and many other, unidentified by me, species), tourists, photographers and more.pier, Long Beach, fog

But I am interested in what happens below it so I take the path downwards.  Where the fog does not seem to interrupt daily activities.

 

pier, beach, Long Beach, fog    Long Beach, fog, pedestrian path, bike path

I don’t follow the path.  I go under the pier. pier, Long Beach, fog, beach, sand  pier, Long Beach, beach, fog

First I look across, fog, Long Beach, sand delaying what I am sure will delight my camera and myself.  And it indeed does  Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog   Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fogBelmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

Am I somewhere else?  I must look back and check.   Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

And once I’m sure I am not lost I once again enter trancelike state. Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fogBelmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog  Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach, pier, fog

But my beach is being invaded…  Long Beach, beach, fog

So I look the other way.  Long Beach, beach, fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

To a spot of the beach where birds can play (or fight).   Long Beach, beach, fog, birds

Stare…  Long Beach, beach, fog  Where love is present and blind.  Long Beach, beach, fog, love

Where a congregation is not unruly.Long Beach, beach, fog

Well, maybe just a tad…Long Beach, beach, fog, birds

Where people come to de-stress…Long Beach, beach, fog

Or ignore the waves and the beach altogether…Long Beach, beach, fog

Where unfortunately, man leaves his tracks…Long Beach, beach, fog

Where a father and son bond in daily exercise and share their path with seagulls…Long Beach, beach, fog, runners, father and son   Long Beach, beach, fog

Long Beach, beach, fog, pier I go back to the magnet that the pier has turned out to be for my camera.  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  On my way there these flowers on their last breath stop me in my tracks.  Is it an offering to Iemanjá, the Queen of the Ocean, in Brazilian culture?  Long Beach, beach, fog, flowers, offering  Long Beach, beach, fog   So much to photograph I don’t seem to be able to still my mind or my steps.  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  Long Beach, beach, fog  So I go up the pier to where I started.  Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

 

 

Where I am reminded that I really haven’t been traveling at all.  Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

 

 

Long Beach, beach, fog, pierLong Beach, beach, fog, pier

Long Beach, beach, fog, pier   Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

But somehow I do feel as if I have taken a short trip and as I leave the pier I feel recharged and ready to tackle what I had procrastinated in doing.  Pier  Long Beach, beach, fog, pier

Maybe…

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the Key, Need to Get Back to the Rugby Game

St. Malo (or maybe it was just the mussels) has induced me into a sense of complete restfulness.  The day has been jam-packed with visual stimulation, emotional contentment, exercise and it has made me a bit tired.  I am longing for quietness and time spent relaxing doing nothing.

We have made a reservation at a farmhouse not far from St. Malo.  I am so craving the remoteness of it all, though I am a bit apprehensive as to how to get to it.  The owner has given us what seems to be an address.  FarmhouseOur GPS seems quite confused but we head in that direction and… do not find it.  We are on roads where only farmland sees us go and come and go and come back again.  GPS has given up on us and and we on her.  Farmland I text the owner in French on our French sim card/phone (so glad we have one) and he answers “My dear, not an address.  It’s the name of the farm.”  So on our way we see another farmhouse with people outside.  I get out and ask and they in turn ask me “Ah, you are the Australians that are going to stay at Dominque’s?” Yes… I mean no. Where is the farm? Don’t know how, but we reach it thanks to the actual Aussie at the wheel and guidance from above.

I am immediately in love.  Garden The farmhouse attached to the main house is rustic but just exactly where I want to be.  P1190798  The owner and an English-speaking friend are outside to greet us. P1190789A little fox terrier that can’t be dirtier and smellier if he tried is coming down the road.  Dominique introduces us to him. It’s the neighbor’s dog that comes to sleep with him to keep him company.  We are invited into Dominique’s home where he gives us a proud grand tour.  He has built it all by himself.  Even his Japanese garden is designed and planted by him.  P1190808The dog is trembling and I ask if he is cold.  No.  He has Parkinson.  A pang of remembrance of my mom and her disease hits me.  Is this a sign of some sort? My heart skips and I do not refuse the dog when he cuddles up to me, no matter how badly he smells.   We have tea.  We learn about my host.  I am charmed.  He has escaped the rat race after years with a company as their graphic artist.  He also suffered a devastating loss.  This is how he copes.  His visiting friend is building a cabin on the property and easing himself into farm life; he’s a commercial director.

His neighboring farm has cows.  We make their acquaintance.       P1190792  P1190793It’s almost 10 pm and it’s only now getting dark.  Magical hour is here…the sun is going down.

P1190795We settle in for the night.   The bedroom is on the second floor and quirky and fun.  To go up you open a “door” that is technically on the floor.  P1190805  And the bedroom has a lamp made by the owner (as most of the farmhouse).  P1190800  With a typewriter that reminds me that I write. P1190801 And a window P1190803 that looks out to the garden and the cows, and  the pasture and… I’m going to bed now.

P1190817We wake to fresh croissants, bread, a bottle of milk and tea at our doorstep.    I bring them into the kitchen.  P1190799  And go out, still in my pj’s. P1190836 How liberating is that? P1190810 P1190809

We are leaving today and I just want to enjoy every single moment of this peaceful feeling this farmhouse gives me.

I visit the cows and they are more curious about me than I of them.  I am thankful for the electric fence that separates us!

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 I’m enjoying the outdoors so very much.  But we must go back in. I look to the side and back and everything, just everything give me this ahhhh feeling. P1190842 (1)  P1190843 (1)  P1190864

I go to the room and pack. P1190838 As I go downstairs at the doorway are two sets of rubber boots!  P1190873 Dominique is outside and he tells me that the boots are just in case we want to take a stroll in the back.  The weeds are overgrown and it may be wet so he brought us boots.  Since I am not going to take him up on this offer he takes me around his garden.  P1190870 P1190878 I so want to stay but we are continuing on today to Cap Frehel and Fort La Latte.  We say our good-byes.

At the Cap we find two lighthouses.  One, built in 1950 you can climb.  P1190880 (1)

P1190881 (1)  We do that and are rewarded with beautiful views.  P1190890 (1)  P1190885 (1) P1190886 P1190887 (1)

P1190899 (1) From here we can also see the smaller one constructed in 1685.

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On the way down the 145 steps I wonder why I didn’t make use of this chair when I was going up!  P1190903 (1)

P1190906 (1) We walk the surrounding area.  P1190908 (1)

   It’s windy but I am thoroughly enjoying this walk.  P1190917 (1)  P1190918 (1)  P1190931 (1)

The water is crystal clear in places.

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A school group listens their teacher intensely.  I imagine none have vertigo since they are pretty close to the cliff. P1190986 (1)

We go towards where the car is parked to then drive to Fort La Latte.  P1190990 (1)  P1190992 (1)    P1200001 (1)

Forts of all kinds as well as walled cities fascinate me.  Something comforting about a place that protects itself from the outside world attracts me.  I choose to not think of the reason why a wall and such strong edifices are needed in the first place.  The approach to the fort is almost soothing.  You pass the caretaker’s home and continue down the path to the fort.  P1200002 (1)  P1200004 (1)  And here it is.  P1200010 (1)  We enter through a drawbridge.  And as soon as we do there are cannons and other instruments of war/protection.  P1200014 (1)  This is a bricoleP1200017 (1)  The water is crystal clear here too.  P1200031 (1)  The vegetation is so pretty.  P1200040 (1)  P1200038 (1)

And the view from one of the towers is exquisite.

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Once on the ground these daisies along the fence do a lot to keep a smile on my face.

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And I just loved this mailbox on a house on our way to the car. P1200088 (1)   We drive and encounter Brittany’s idea of rush hour!  P1200090 (1)

We have made a reservation at a hotel in Sene:  Chambres D’Hotes Villa Sahara.  When we arrive it looks more like a house than a hotel.  Parking lot empty.  Note on door:  “If you arrive please call this number and someone will be here soon.”  We had paid through a website already so I call the number.  Yes, her son will be there soon.  He arrives and hurriedly opens the door, tells us he needs to go back to the rugby game.  Shows us the room and gives us the key.  Oh, and we are the only guests so we can consider the place ours.  So we own a B&B for a night.  🙂 P1200098 (1)  P1200096 (1) P1200095 (1)  The key ring that he gave us even has an “L” on it.  P1200100 (1)  In the morning we wake up to people coming in to make us breakfast and promptly leaving just to return before we leave onto our next destination!

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An Archangel Burns a Hole in a Skull and Malo Isn’t really Bad at All

The morning was uneventful which is okay by me since the rest of the  day (and this post) is going to be jam-packed with visual delight.

We are renting (“hiring” in Aussie and Brit talk) a car and heading out to the coast.  Our first stop will be Mont Saint Michel.  I’m a bit nervous about the drive.  French drivers are really good but drive at lightning speeds.  Fortunately I won’t be driving.  Dean has bought a GPS for our journey so we won’t be getting lost either.  We don’t have much of a route set up. We are traveling, as always, waiting where the winds – in this case the wheels – will take us.  I like it that way though at times setting up good accommodations requires a bit of knowing our itinerary ahead of time.

I cross the street to buy some croissants and milk and coffee for the road. And we are off.

It’s a two-hour ride to Mont Saint Michel and it just flies by.  Before we know it we are approaching the very familiar site of Mont Saint Michel.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island As we get closer the little spots I see in the distance turn into munching cows that concentrate solely on eating and disregard the island behind them.  They create a perfect photo-op that I can’t let pass by.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island, cows  We park the Renault (which curiously enough has not been named by us) and take a shuttle bus Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, bienvenue, bienvenidos that takes us closer to the entrance and then walk to the island which is linked by a causeway, which makes it technically not an island any more.  A fact that does not deter from its beauty and impressiveness.Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  There’s a medieval town on the mount with its expected winds and turns and narrowness.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, medieval town  The hoards of tourists remind me that this has been, through the ages, one of the top pilgrimage sites for Christians.  The abundance of souvenir shops Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, souvenirs lining the quaint (and exercise inducing) steep streets may make you forget that this place has much history, dating from when years didn’t have four numbers.  It also has a peculiar history.  It is said that before the abbey that’s on it was built in the 8th century, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church. Seems that Aubert ignored the archangel so Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger.  The abbey was built afterwards.  First there is a little chapel we visit.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, chapel  And then onwards towards the abbey. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, souvenirs  The abbey is built on the islet’s top point so it’s a bit of a climb. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, church  It has a gothic feel to it.  The church Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island is more austere Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, church than any of the other churches we have visited but if it doesn’t quite match the beauty of the others it holds its own by just where it is situated.   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island   Before heading back in I am fascinated by how large the seagulls Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds are around here. Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, seagulls, birds  And how privileged they are to fly so high and have such an amazing place to land.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel  Once my eyes get unglued from the birds and the view, my imagination takes flight.  I can almost see the robed monks going from one side of the abbey to the other through this bridge.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, bridge  And going about their chores around water source which has the largest faucet I’ve ever seen.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, water, faucet  We go back inside to explore how the monks lived.  I like the simplicity and solidness of it all.   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island   Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island  As usual, I am distracted by a window with a soft view of the outside.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, window, stained glass  But I concentrate on my steps in the inside for it is dark and a gentleman going down the steps has fallen.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, hallway

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, Archangel Michael, psychopomp, archangel   I encounter the Archangel Michael in the basement.  He is a plaster replica of the one that is on top of the spire and he is the one I mentioned earlier who burned a hole in the bishop’s skull.  I certainly would do as ordered!  He is also a psychopomp – which I wouldn’t mention except for the fact that the name made me giggle – though the responsibilities of one are quite serious.  He leads the dead and weighs souls (didn’t know souls had weight) on the day of judgment and is often presented with a balance in the scenes of the Last Judgment. I would definitely want this guy on my side!!

It isn’t a sunny day but it almost enhances the feeling of going back in time.  The view, with the tides low around the mount, is a bit surreal.

Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel  Another unique feature of Mont Saint Michel is that the bay around it has the highest tidal variations in all of Europe.  At low tide the Mont is surrounded by sand.  At high tide the water comes in at an astonishing speed, compared to a galloping horse.  In fact, Wikitravel has a warning that says that it is not unheard of for tourists to die after being cut-off by the tide if not crossing through the causeway.  It must be quite a sight but we didn’t stay for we were headed to Saint Malo.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, tides I, quite the contrarian, have to look up as we are going down.  A door caught my attention and reminded me that this place was also used as a prison.  What a history!  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, door  As we descend the many steps we pass The Mere Poulard which cooks its famous mega omelettes on an open fire.  I was sorry I wasn’t hungry enough to eat there.  They looked really good, served in a really great setting.  But I am glad I didn’t for the reviews on yelp were pretty bad and at 28 to 60 Euros an omelette it would have been quite disappointing to not have an extraordinary meal.  Normandy, France,  pilgrimage, abbey, island, tides, Mont Saint Michel, La Mere Poulard, omelettes, restaurant  One look back.Normandy, France, pilgrimage, abbey, island, causeway

And we leave.  Mont Saint Michel, car park, Normandy, France  The Renault is waiting for us.  Mont Saint Michel, car park, Normandy, France  We have already paid for our ticket so Saint Malo here we come!

Saint Malo was recommended by a travel group I belong to, The Travelzine.  They said the walled city was lively and a good base to explore the area. We are not staying there (more on that later) but I am fascinated by walled cities and we figured it would be a good place to have dinner before we on to the farm.  We enter the narrow streets of the walled town and are at a loss to where to park.  A delivery van is blocking the street in front of us so I get out and ask him where to park.  He tells me to follow him and takes us to a municipal parking lot (car park for my Aussie and Brit readers) right next to the water and marina.  We cross the street to the city itself entering it through the Saint Thomas Gate.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  We are rewarded with beautiful views as we climb the steps to walk the wall that surrounds the city.

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

I’ll just be quiet now, for the view captivates me and hopefully captivates you as well.

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Malo.  Malo in Spanish means “bad” or “mean”.  This “malo” is good!!!

Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled cityThere’s a lookout point that has a telescope which points into the direction of areas I have some connection with.  The Falklands (Malvinas to the Argentinians and from where a lot of my friends are).Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Rio de Janeiro, where I lived for 4 years. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city Quebec, where two children of a family I considered my own live, one of them who I taught to drive.

A pool on the side of the sea that reminds me of Australia, a country I have learned to love because of who I love.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  It’s not that warm outside but there are people enjoying it, diving from the board.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city The city was not only walled but well protected. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city  I loved the city but later Brittany locals (the region the town is located in) would tell me that they consider it a “sad” town mainly due to its history and the fact that it is walled in.

Hunger strikes me and Dean knows me well enough to get me into a restaurant fast before I get cranky. 🙂 So we dive into Le Lion D’Or.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, restaurant in Saint Malo, I’m glad we did cause it had great reviews on Tripadvisor and I would add mine to them.  I had a really great huge plate of mussels that was delicious though the mussels were small and could not compare in size to the Tasmanian mussels a friend and I had at the Sydney fish market, though they were matched in taste. Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, restaurant in Saint Malo, The city is on the coast after all so I was counting on good seafood.  Saint Thomas Gate, Brittany, France, port city, walled city, marina, boats

Once we retrieve the car we are on our way to another real adventure… which I will tell you all about tomorrow!

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