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soft landing

Monday, December 17, 2018

Bird with fish


Fenton Robinson - Mississippi Steamboat - 1959

Up the down staircase

I have lived in my home for twenty nine years, have always thought that I would one day indeed die there, specifically by tumbling down the stairs, in my dotage mind you, I had not contemplated the event occurring for the foreseeable future. Thankfully I can tell you, that no, I am not dead, but I attempted a trial run on the whole death/gravity thing the other day that has left me a bit bruised and worse for wear.

My house was built with a downstairs toilet that is a prehistoric porcelain sidemount jobber that has not been manufactured since Teddy Roosevelt made his famous advance up San Juan Hill. It cracked and is no longer operational. A remediation would require jackhammering lots of concrete and me pulling a whole lot of cabbage out of my wallet, something that has been in short supply since the last time we earthlings saw the Kohoutek comet come around.

Not to divulge too much personal information but a three o'clock in the morning pee in my home requires that I mount and ascend thirteen or so steps and return back after the deed is done by the very same steep descent. Lots of work but I find that it is usually worth the time and trouble and it normally goes like chalk as they say. The general routine has been honed to precision with constant practice, I can say, with no small amount of pride.

In a confluence of events that most resembles quantum tunneling, I almost bought the farm the other night. The cat had planned it to a tee. He left a ball toy on the very last step, obscured in the darkness. He knows that I know the route perfectly, would never turn the light on or vary my steps. After all, I am a mere human, a creature of habit. I tend to follow the script. Smirking he took cover and waited for the events to unfold.

My right arch came down on top of said ball with perfect tangency and sent me pirouetting ass over teakettle, in a clumsy heap on the hard concrete of the bottom landing. Wrenching my hip, knee, ankle and foot, I took stock of my predicament while staring up at the spinning ceiling and realized that I had just hit some orthopedic superfecta. All lemons.

Slowly getting up, I tested each appendage and was received to find that I could still ambulate, sort of anyway, with a new hitch in my giddy-up that most resembles Festus or Chester, I always get them mixed up.

I am pounding ibuprofen, not daring to wonder what bodily function or part will be the next to revolt. As we speak my eyes are dilated, the ophthalmologist telling me not an hour ago that the film behind my right eye should be like clear saran wrap but instead more closely resembles wrinkly opaque wax paper and that the problem will require yet another surgery sometime next month. A very minor one. ZAP. But my protestations that I felt rather blurry in my right eye were indeed correct. he says that my macula is immaculate, at least in its present conception.

As if I wasn't broke enough, this illness jag is putting the final nails in the Sommers' coffin. It is December and the nurse at the hospital the other day said that I had a yearly accrual of a whole $13.20 towards to my annual deductible of $6500. As our wonderful Obamacare bills rise every year like Fleischmann's rapid rise yeast us poor schlubs on the bottom of the economic pyramid are forced to keep pushing the deductible higher and higher and we are left with policies that are basically now covering only the most catastrophic of health coverage.

I find myself often crossing swords with my physicians about what is truly required, applying a sort of personal triage so as not to go into the poorhouse.

I am going to the hospital tomorrow at 5:30 in the morning for a minor cardiac procedure with anesthesia. Nurse called, said to bring a check for $1350 bucks with me. Every time I see the cardiologist, which is often lately, it is a hundred buck co-pay. It is almost impossible to think about getting preventive or prophylactic treatments these days with the cost of medicine and the shitty state of health insurance.

I was just billed a similar sum from my ER visit, which was close to worthless. I had a strange black spot suddenly appear in my visual field and was worrying about a retinal tear. Doctor said to be very careful when I experienced arcane visual simulacrum. This was accompanied by a searing pain in my right abdomen with visions of dancing bursting appendixes circling around my head like sugarplums. But the cost of the blood panel, urine and ct scan broke my bank and I ixnayed the eye scan out of personal parsimony if not downright cheapness. My inner accountant is starting to ask me if it wouldn't be more cost effective to croak?

I will have to do a cost benefit analysis and get back to me.

Emergency room doctor was alright but he had a little problem of not listening to his patient, lecturing me that the abdominal pain I was feeling was a dull general ache some eight by eight inches in width while I tried to tell him that I was actually experiencing a localized piercing sensation that could be defined to the centimeter. Obviously he knew better about what I felt than I did. When whatever I was feeling finally explodes or ruptures I want somebody to go back and tell him that the dead guy was right in the first place. Maybe make a small notation on the grave stone. I know, I know, I shouldn't be so petty.

My god nobody ever told me that getting old would be this much goddamn fun.

To the mattresses!

Pete Clemenza making meatballs
One of the talking heads on the radio today said that it was time that Trump got himself a war time consigliere. Sorry Tom, er Mick, but you're not a sicilian.

Trump had been talking derisively of late about rats, a mafia term for a snitch, or somebody who goes to the government and tells the truth. To the President that is a bad thing. Snitches get stitches. Omerta.

Is this a presidency or are we now involved in the making of  Godfather IV? Seems more like an organized crime family if you ask me. I hated Godfather III. There are only parts one and two in my house.

BTW: the FBI getting access to an office with a signed warrant from a judge is not a break in, it is business as usual, the way it works in our criminal justice system. No one should have had to tell Mike Flynn that it was a no-no to lie to an FBI agent.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Muleskinner



This is one of the most talented bluegrass bands ever assembled. I saw a later iteration play in 1974, the year after this show was recorded. Clarence White and Peter Rowan on guitar, David Grisman on mandolin, Bill Keith on banjo and Richard Greene on fiddle. Sadly Clarence was killed by a drunk driver a few months after this performance.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Swim with the Orcas


Shawn sent this incredible video over of a swimmer in New Zealand. Very cool.

The stilt

I don't talk a lot about sports on the blast. Not sure why. Believe it or not, I was a pretty good soccer and basketball player in my day. Played both sports in high school as well as baseball.

I saw my friend Jack Koppel the other day and he reminded me of some pickup basketball games we played over thirty years ago. He remembered and complimented my game. Jack has to be pushing eighty now. Basketball actually brought me to Fallbrook in the first place as a kid, pickup games at the Boys and Girls club with Tom Witt and the guy who worked at Marden Susco in San Marcos.

In my twenties we played the Fallbrook High squad that won CIF every day one summer. The Sandschulte team with Dominic Johnson and Brian Bush. Honed the team into shape.

I always thought basketball was the best game of them all, the most cerebral and artistic. So many decisions to be made in a split second. My dad and brother were also big fans of the games and we had the choicest seats for Rockets, Sails, Conquistadores and Clippers. I am of the age where I got to see some of the greatest players to have ever played the game.

I saw Cousy play the Knicks as a player coach, watched Russell with Havlicek and Jo Jo White, enjoyed the ballet artistry of Dr. J and beheld the fadeaway jumper of the bruising Wes Unseld. Watched the Knicks in their glory years, with Reed, Bradley, Lucas, Frazier and Debusschere. Oh and Monroe too. Most of my life I was a Laker fan, from Wilt and Hairston to Kareem, Silk and Magic.

I got to see Maravich and Elvin Hayes, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West. Walton, Rick Barry, Dominique, Barkley, Malone, Gervin. So many great players, too many to count.

I don't like the NBA game I see today. I think that it is a shoddy product. They don't play defense anymore and the three has turned into an abomination. I heard somebody say that LeBron James was the greatest basketball player of all time and had to laugh. I felt the same way when they called Jordan the best too. The best one on one player, maybe? But not basketball player, I personally liked Magic better, because he made everybody on his team better.

To me, there was no one as good as Wilt Chamberlain. I was not alive or watching hoops in the Petit, Mikan era but Wilt dominated the game I saw like no one before or since.

He averaged 30.1 points per game, 22.9 rebounds a game. Seven scoring titles, eleven rebounding. He was the only center to lead the league in assists, in 1967-8 with 702.

He averaged over fifty points a game in 1962. Never fouled out of a game. He was the only NBA player to score a hundred points in a game. He pulled down 55 rebounds in a single game, scored 65 or more points 15 times, 50 or more points 118 times. He was so dominant, people forget today.

He was simply, a man among boys, playing in a league with tremendous talent, less teams and less talent dilution. He was so good and dominated so thoroughly that the NBA had to widen the key. Not just big but athletic, the avid track and field athlete ran the 440 and the 880, high jumped, broad jumped and shot put. He won the Big Eight high jump title three straight years at Kansas.

Wilt was incredibly strong. He player coached the San Diego Conquistadores team one year and my father and I watched him pick up the 6'11" George McGinniss like a rag doll and deposit him on the other side of the court. Gently.

Wilt was in a class by himself. Yes, he got frequently beat by the Celtics but that was a product more of the quality of the surrounding players than getting bested by Bill Russell. He dominated then and he would dominate again today.

I heard Steph Curry say that his Warriors would beat the Shaq/Kobe Lakers teams. I find that very doubtful. But I don't think any of the Phil Jackson Laker teams could hold a candle to the Showtime Pat Riley Lakers either. The triangle was not a beautiful system, it was awkward. Worthy on the wing for a tomahawk dunk off a no look feed from Magic was simply beautiful.

I think that the greatest basketball I have seen in my six decades is the Lakers/ Celtics rivalry. Larry and Earvin was the penultimate battle.

Magic, Wilkes, Worthy, Kareem against Parish, McHale, the brilliant Bird, throw in Scott, Ainge, Dennis Johnson, McAdoo, Fish, Cowens, Archibald, the basketball was fierce and extremely well played.

There were dominating post players back then. People played defense, they just didn't sit out on the perimeter for long threes. What a bore. Today's game just can not compare. Some of us were lucky enough to see the game at its best.

Clark's Fork - cyanotype


Speed of the sound of loneliness

errant photos

Sunset, Le Lavandou

California bride
Light on aspens

Golden eagle SJWA
Nice, France

First light, Death Valley

Repug Nutz

Sore loser file:

Guess I shouldn't dance around the politics of the day. It is amazing to me that Scott Walker and Rick Snyder can so blatantly subvert the will of the people in their states.

Can you imagine the hue and cry if the shoe was on the other foot? How Scott Walker would act if the same thing was done to him, having his power diminished before he ever took office? The hypocrisy is staggering. If it was such a good idea he should have previously limited his own power.

Michigan voters passed ballot initiatives on minimum wage and sick pay. Outgoing governor Rick Snyder is taking it upon himself to water them down as his swan song. Seems incredibly sleazy, not to mention patronizing.

Of course, this pales compared to the hypocrisy that the GOP is showing on a national scale. Not one subpoena from the Trey Gowdy led House oversight committee on Russia collusion after a myriad of Benghazi investigations, 52 Democrat motions for subpoenas denied by his Republican led committee. Requests for important information, like who was the recipient behind the blocked phone number Donald Trump Jr. was talking to between the two Russian phone calls in the 2016 Trump Tower meeting? Anybody care to make a little wager?

Imagine a Republican congress putting up with a Democrat who lied like Donald Trump?  They give him a pass because he is delivering on their agenda. Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, suddenly they don't care so much about laws, ethics, morals or truth.

“I don’t care, all I can say is he’s doing a good job as President,” Mr. Hatch told CNN on Monday.
"I think most people would lie to protect their family." Lindsey Graham.
Can't wait for the shameless onset of sudden collective amnesia and moral superiority the next time the shoe is back on the other foot.

Hatch, who has since repented and apologized for his momentary flash of honesty, gave a little lecture last week on the death of comity and bipartisanship in the Senate. Who is the man most responsible for this dearth of bipartisanship and general toxicity? I think I can easily pin the moniker on one Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who lists his greatest achievement as icing Obama's judicial nominations and sandbagging Merrick Garland. Who stymied Obama out of the gate and never eased up, his stated goal being to make him a one term president? The junkyard dog, the knife fighter with the big bag of dirty tricks.

Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, Mitch. But please spare us the tears about Democrats going after Trump. You too Kevin McCarthy. Enough talk about working together and moving America forward. Every time you had the chance, we felt the boot on our throat now you want the dems to be patsies again and ease up on your boy, presumably for the good of the country.

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Suzanne Garment has an interesting article out. Comparing Trump to Nixon is an insult to Nixon.

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Michael Flynn, the ex head of the DIA, thinks he was jobbed because nobody ever told him that it was a crime to lie to the FBI. Flynn’s attorneys Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony earlier this week portrayed their client as a victim of the FBI agents who interviewed him. They wrote that the agents “did not provide General Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement” under federal law.  Amazing.

Friday, December 14, 2018

start me up

Spent the better part of the day in the E.R. Per my g.p. Not going to get into all the nuts and bolts but I've had some searing abdominal pain for about a week and we had to rule some things out. Cat scan, blood, the rest. Tests were negative and inconclusive. But the new medicine appears to be bringing my stratospheric heart rate down and that is a good thing.

Next week we get the jumper cables out and try to restart my feeble cardiac motor, will let you know how things progress.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hall of Shame

Janet Jackson is to Rock and Roll what pilonidal cysts are to lawn bowling. Def Leppard? Please. Sorry that Devo and Todd Rundgren got jobbed. Stevie Nicks was never half the singer that Christine McVie was. Congrats to Roxy Music, Very deserving.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

high flying bird

Diffuse canyon study


Kardiac Kapers

It is sad to see an able bodied young person seemingly make a career out of begging nine to five in front of the Bank of America in Fallbrook. Rural town with lots of opportunities for work. If he (or should I say they as there are now often two of them at opposite ends of the lot) would put a small percentage of this parasitic effort into trying to secure gainful employment, I am sure that they could find a better way to support themselves.

Not exactly sure how old they are but they seem pretty damn young to have already given up on the possibilities in this life. Ran into another street corner beggar down on the Old 395 this afternoon. If you can't give me any money I will just take a smile his sign read. He flipped it over and it said something like or give one.

Resisting the urge to rip the sign out of his hands and stomp on it, I gritted my teeth and stared straight ahead. You are not getting a fucking smile out of me, asshole. Or a dime. There are many people in legitimate need but when they start making a career out of it, pardon me for not wanting to buy in. No money, no smile. Too busy trying to keep my own goddamn head above water. You want to work in the grove for ten bucks an hour, we can talk, but frankly I don't think you could last a day. Your present panhandling job is just too cush.

I feel like shit. I have for some time. My heart isn't working quite right. Heart doctor said it was weak and working far too hard before I left for France. Beating about twice as fast as it should. Brought compression socks and crossed my fingers.

I'm apparently currently a stroke candidate. Gave me something to keep from keeling over on the plane. A blood thinner. Wanted to know how long I had been out of sinus rhythm. Who knows? You feel bad long enough it starts to feel like normal. But I am the prototypical wheezy fat guy if I have to walk fifty feet. Pretty sure it has been the better part of a year.

They told me a while back, after the murmur and mitral valve operation that the heart was a little larger than optimal and rather inefficient. Sure that that pesky little heart attack didn't help matters any either.

Doctor told me that I wanted to take care of this. Mentioned that he had several stroke patients mention that they would rather be dead.

Maybe it has something to do with the depression? Or should I say the depression has something to do with how shitty I feel.

auto de fe
How do you boil a frog? You increase the temperature one degree a day. They never feel it. You get used to the gradual. Anyhow getting ready for a nuclear stress test or two, a cardio inversion and some new meds. I got off the atrial fib medicine when I found out about the possible fatal interaction with the antibiotic.

The condition is called Torsade de Pointes. It has a beautiful medieval sound, like auto de fe. Will go back on the propafenone tonight, there is a slight chance that it will right my cardiac ship.

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Got a couple interesting paintings this week, a lovely Gustav Stickley library table. If I indeed am called by the heavenly trumpets I only ask that you not behave like a murder of crows cravenly pulling the sinews of my muscle away from the still warm bone as you plunder my effects, but exercise at least a modicum of respect for my widow and proceed in as mannerly a mode as you are capable.

You do not want to confront what just might be a very angry ghost.

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You know getting older is no fucking picnic. On the heels of losing my brother, I lost Garry Cohen to pancreatic cancer this year. I now feel a hole in my heart every time I drive through Del Dios. The world is on a slight tilt without my long time pal.

Plenty of others left the stage too, Jay, Lynette, people from work. And the getting stupider by the day world just keeps grinding forward like a brutal hamburger extruding machine, with barely a nod to the fallen comrades' particular contribution or even a perfunctory pause in the beat. Isn't getting old great, you get to watch all your friends and loved ones croak and then for a final act the attendant at the nursing home empties your bank account and plies away your gold teeth.

I have been a major screw up on a thousand levels but I think that when my clarion calls I will be able to say that I left nothing on the table. And if that ain't enough, sorry.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Blues On The Ceiling

Harrier near San Gorgonio


Bert Jansch

Cobbler's awls

I am not going to belabor this, I am sure that few of you have ever noticed, or could care less if they had.

But have you ever noticed how some english people will substitute the f sound for th? As in, I've been finking about this. If you have never heard it, this blogpost will sound like gibberish and I advise you to skip ahead.

Never could quite understand it. F is pretty far from th as fricative phonemes go.

I lived with a bunch of english football players overseas in my youth. Many of them came from poor neighborhoods. You have never seen a rougher bunch of scoundrels, nicking, nutting, fighting, licentious pervs, I frankly loved those guys.

I played a lot of football with them, a bit of rugby, threw darts, drank Whitbread, learned a bit of cockney rhyming, had a jolly good time.

When my friend and I were taking the shuttle at Gatwick last week, a car full of drunken returning football fans shared the tram with us, pardon my effete innate snobbery if I point out that they were an ill bred mob and that drunk or sober I couldn't understand how one of the fellows could operate out of such a microcephalic cranium.

I decided to get to the bottom of the phonetics question. The habit of sounding a f or v for th is called th - fronting. How and why did it happen is a good question? I turn to Wikipedia.
Th-fronting is a prominent feature of several dialects of English, notably Cockney, Essex dialect, Estuary English, some West Country and Yorkshire dialects, Newfoundland English, African American Vernacular English, and Liberian English, as well as in many non-native English speakers (e.g. Hong Kong English, though the details differ among those accents).
I have read several linguistic experts try to explain the phenomenon. Although not a definitive assessment, I believe that at least in England, the practice was a conscious effort by working class people to utilize a dialect that was not shared by the social elites.

The first literary notation of the practice goes back to 1787. In England it was mainly centered in London and Essex and in Bristol. Now the speech has moved to Hull in the north and Scotland. Interestingly, according to this blog, there is a real gender split to the practice with very few if any women partaking of the labiodental fricative.

This letter writer to that blog makes some interesting observations.


Could it be laziness or efficiency or is it merely a way to reinforce your working class street cred? What do you fink?

Puddle jumper


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Coming home to roost

Donald Trump has played at being President for about two years now, pretty much mucking up everything in his path.

Now with the Mueller probe starting to go into a higher gear, many of us are getting quite verklempt over the daily ups and downs of this thing.

If you have a tender constitution like I do, you are going to want to take lots of breaks. His eventual toppling will take some time, learn to savor every moment but don't get overheated. This will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Pace yourself.

Remember, Don Jr. hasn't even been indicted yet, nor has Kushner. Lets make sure that the kids are looking at big fat jail terms before we go after the big cheese. Don't even utter the "i" word, let such notions stay at the very tip of your tongue, the final thrust will come late in the third act, when the whole thing is tied up neatly into a bow. Might be a good time to invest in popcorn.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Buzzcocks - Harmony In My Head



Bye Bye Pete.

Ambassador Airhead

President Trump is nominating Heather Nauert to the post of United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Nauert is an ex Fox News anchor and as far as I can tell, right off their pretty blond barbie production line. This President of course has always liked eye candy.

I can't think of a better appointee to show the Trump administration's contempt for the United Nations.

This intellectual lightweight is famous for her once intoning that D-Day was the pinnacle of U.S. German relations, which reminds me of when Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino drew a blank on what happened during the Bay of Pigs invasion. But oh, that smile!

There is no crime in being young, or stupid for that matter but we should remember the intellectual strength of some of the previous people that have held that position. This has always been a post for the best and brightest. Not necessarily the hottest. From both parties.

People like:

Adlai Stevenson

Jeanne Kirkpatrick

Madeline Albright
Henry Cabot Lodge

Daniel Moynihan

George H.W. Bush
Giants all. There were many more competent Ambassadors of course, Andrew Young, John Danforth, Bill Richardson and Nicki Haley to name only a few. They all had the intellectual depth, government experience and resume required for the post.

Heather Nauert clearly does not.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Janis Joplin - Move Over [Take 6]

trois

Woke up to a lovely sunrise the last day in Le Lavandou. Said au revoir to our hosts at the hotel. Stopped at the little bakery and grabbed a fresh croissant for the ride. Drank a cup of the wonderful coffee. We headed back to Nice.

After a momentary slip up and course correction we found DHL and shipped off the stuff. Went easier than I thought. My job was finished. Definite week of work, interspersed as it was with some culinary high points. My friend suggested that we see the town, do some sightseeing. We took a cab in to the vielle ville, the old city.


Walked around, saw a few things. Like this man, caning a chair.



It was fun walking around but we were both getting hungry. Un battalian can not marché on an empty stomach, no?


We looked around for a place to eat. I said that lunch was on me. La petit maison is the most famous restaurant in town but a little out of my league price wise.


My buddy was frantically looking up trip advisor for suitable reviews but I was getting tired and hungry and sort of convinced him to go to what looked like a typical tourist clip joint in front of the flower stalls.

I figure even the worst restaurant in France probably has something on the best place in America.

A Tunisian hawked us in, said that they served traditional food from the area, nicoise style and I said why not? I ordered a braised lamb shank that came with a potato terrine. Frankly they were delicious. My friend ordered something he hated, onion pizza I think and wouldn't stop complaining for some time. Hated the meal. Made him sick.


My feeling about restaurants and travel in general is to keep my own counsel. I don't put a lot of stock in reviews, loathe some places others love and vice versa. Would rather take a shot at times and fail occasionally than to worry about too much.

Leslie and I did Spain without a map or single reservation or booking. Had a great time. You figure it out as you go. The great unexpected blessing always trumps the occasional fail. Discovery. That is what works for us. Tough to keep us on script.


Walked back over to old King Neptune and the synchronized fountain after our meal.




Walked to a hotel where we might score a taxi.


Took a cab back to our hotel, the Novatel Arenas.


Watched some women's handball, a pretty cool sport and a football game or two. Watched a great movie about a young violin player that made me cry.

Woke up from a nice sleep in a nice bed and a clean room, right before my 4:00 a.m. wake up call.

Reversed my airlines and somehow got back last night, my venture satisfactorily completed. Had a supposedly traditional english breakfast at Gatwick at a place called Wetherspoons.

I'm sitting there for ten minutes can't get anyone to wait on me. Finally I accost the guy at the bar, a Hungarian who says no, you have to download the app and order online. Took twenty minutes to get the app installed right with the accompanying credit card, a joke.

I said what if I need a napkin do I have to send you an email? Or a glass of water? Should I text you? He said this is the way the world is going and I said I will have my old world back, thank you, but I guess we never can.

The trip wasn't remunerative, it wasn't intended to be. May turn out to be in the future, who knows.   I definitely gained some valuable and enjoyable experience points. Ate great food. Helped close friends who have been exceedingly good to me. Glad I went, glad I could be of service.

Into the mystic

France - Part deux

Neptune with yellow jacket

I'm tired but I'll try not to belabor this. Pardon me for brevity but also do remember how much I get paid for this particular writing gig.

So I am sitting there next to S----, the ex Swedish fashion model with the fifty room castle in England on her way to buy a getaway in Cannes that just dropped another quarter million, married to a sociopathic man described to me as having had as many affairs as I have had glasses of water, who had been viciously jettisoned from the Investment Banking company over some meaningless discrepancies with the expense account, and god the people you have been the best to turn out to be the most vicious, don't they?

And we all apologized for our previously abysmal behavior and had a great laugh at our own expense and talked about our crappy mothers  and how rotten people were and S---- mentioned that I was a funny combination of cruel and kind and I guess that is right. And no way do I look sixty one. And would it be possible for me to fall in love again like I fell in love with my wife?  I answered in the negative and shortly after still received her marriage proposal and pronouncement. Was sort of glad that I hadn't checked my luggage. We got our car and scrammed the hell out of there, hopefully leaving any potential suitors at the baggage claim.



Hotel was very nice. They lost our car in the morning but these sorts of things happen and it was eventually found so no harm done.

In the daylight I could hardly get over how much the plants looked like home. Same palms, agave, cactus, bougainvillea, Mimosa trees. Same exact climate.

The French Riviera is really quite homey. Sent Leslie a shot from my phone and she said that she was afraid to tell me it looked just like Fallbrook. More Catalina to me.

We drove to the A8 and started the two hour trek to our destination, Bormes Les Mimosas. My companion was a bit suspicious about my gps as it was asking us to travel on roads that he was not familiar with in his preparation. But it did take us where we needed to go in the short run, most expeditiously I might add.

Drove through Cannes, Vallauris, ended up stopped at a yellow jacket protest in Hyeres. Lots of beautiful unspoiled country in southern France, the alps a white counterpoint in the not too far distance.

The Yellow Jackets are a protest movement against higher gas prices and taxes that started in the rural areas and eventually spread to the big cities of Paris and Lyon.

To a person the French I met on this trip were supportive of the protest, clutching their throats to demonstrate how they were being choked by the government. French are very proud and supportive of their revolutionary roots, much different than most Americans, who also once had a revolution.

We eventually got through the stoppage and made our way to Bormes Les Mimosas. Situated on a hill, it is a very picturesque village, known as a one time summer residence of the last French President. One of the most verdant town, known far and wide for its flowers.

We stopped at a boulangerie/patisserie for croissant. Well I had croissant and raisin bread, my companion actually had pizza. Great coffee.

We met our agent, F--- afterwards, near the St. Francis chapel on the hill. Followed him to my friend's parents' home.

A lovely home and view, can see why they chose to live there for so long. Great light, an artist's dream.

We walked around and made an accounting of the place. Figured out a plan of attack. Got our tools out and started working if my memory serves me right.

In the afternoon we drove to Le Lavandou and found our small boutique hotel, le petit boheme.

The proprietor was there and wanted to know if we ever read our emails, she didn't open until five o clock. She had two small children that she had to take care of. After the minor dressing down, she showed us to our rooms, no showers after ten or before seven, did we want to pay for a small buffet breakfast?

I have no complaints about the room or the accommodations. The proprietor, who by the way was a lovely girl from Normandy, even softened up a bit. The view from my room was beautiful, typical glorious village on the Riviera I suppose.


We walked down to the edge of the village on the ocean. We were out of season, half the restaurants were closed, much was shut down.


We found a bar. I had a few vodka sunrises, my first alcohol in a month. Excellent citrus juice in France. Both the orange and the pampelmousse. My friend enjoyed the very strong beer. The place was full of very attractive locals, both men and women.Very well dressed, not nearly as inked as you would see here.

Watched the locals play petanque at the pits in front of the bar.


I walked down to the kiddie ride and snapped a shot or two, triggering the suspicions of a mother wondering why a middle aged man was taking pictures of children.

I guess this is as good as place as any to mention that I don't speak French, nor did my friend. I have visited the country a few times but this is my first time outside of Paris basically.

But I am fortunately linguistically inclined and the three years of French I took in school forty five years ago somehow decided to make a surprise visit to my frontal lobe. I was shocked at the words that came to the fore. Give me a month.

And since I am musing, let me say that the French people I met were wonderful on this trip, kind, patient, understanding, friendly, not at all the clichéd behavior one hears about when generalizing about a people.

We found a place for dinner, Carpe Diem. Dinner does not start in the French Riviera until seven. Place was inexpensive and excellent. Started off with a muse bouche cleanser of carrot and coconut.

For an appetizer I had beef carpaccio. It was excellent. My companion says that his place in North Beach slices it thinner and that it needs to be served with lemon but I am not one to tell a French chef how to prepare his food.

I had a moist fish called rouget for my main course over a sort of half crunchy risotto.


Dessert was Panna Cotta with raspberry. The sparkler is courtesy of my pal's chocolat mousse.


The whole meal was under 22 euro a piece. All of our meals were similarly inexpensive and almost all supremely well prepared and delicious.

We walked back to the hotel. The day before I left I pulled a hamstring pushing large agaves around and now both hamstrings were hurting as well as my foot and knee. Walking came hard.

Woke up to a lovely sunrise the next morning.


Grabbed the light breakfast, a croissant, yogurt and cheese and cold cuts and we drove back to the flat. Worked all day without a break. Ended up with punctures, blisters, cuts and the like but got a lot done. Both of us did. I was originally going to do the trip by myself. While I would have completed the job on my own, eventually, his presence and contribution definitely made things easier.

After work we made our way back to the bar. A soccer game on television brought a lot of people out. Wasn't in the mood to drink that day but did make a new friend. I started petting this dog and it fell in love with me. Cried when the bar owners tried to take it away. The dog, not me.

The french love their dogs and god do I miss having mine. This big guy was great. Pet it for about forty five minutes.

That night we went to a place called La Parma. I had an excellent salad and veal osso bucco.

My friend, who had veal milanesa, cracked me up when he said that the French still knew how to torture a veal properly, something lacking in America. It was delicious. My friend may have a point.

Walked past the boulle courts and made our way home, thoroughly exhausted. My buddy says that I was snoring with my eyes open and I don't think he was kidding.

Third day much like the second and first. Wrapped up the tack and staple pulling, started flattening canvasses and wrapping and packing.

Got all the boxes ready to ship. Loaded them in the SUV. They fit.

Finished we decided to celebrate and have lunch. We took a wrong turn and I saw the sign that said we were headed for San Tropez. I would have loved to continue on. My friend did not have the same taste for exploration, at least on this trip. He turned around.

Not my rodeo, I was a hired hand and could not call the shots. Much different when I am traveling with my wife. We take a lot of chances, always want to discover something new. Everybody travels differently.

Lunch was duck for me. Forget the name of the place. Ate so much duck my jaw hurt. My friend had a pizza.

Went back to the hotel and rested that evening. My buddy found a new bar that played blues and had a loud and brassy barmaid. I wasn't interested in drinking but was cajoled into a shot of Jamisons. I am not a wine or beer man. If I drink it is usually spirits. Other stuff affects my respiratory system and I don't really favor the buzz.

We went back to Carpe Diem. Had seen the owner at the bar. He brought us lemoncello. I was going to order a risotto with shrimp and truffle but he suggested that I have his macaroni with five prized local mushrooms instead, since he could only serve it a few weeks a year.

Simple but delicious. I am glad that I listened!

(to be continued...)