Sunday, December 31, 2017

Closeup of Emily with Abbotts Lagoon in background.

Tight shot of the water in the lagoon.

Abbott’s Lagoon. Emily and I always endeavor to find a view to watch the last sunset of the year. The weather isn’t quite cooperating for us today, but the view remains spectcular.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Close up of two Manhattan cocktails clinking together.

The nice thing about the owning a company in its nascent stages, is that it only takes one restaurant booth to accomodate the annual Christmas party. Here’s to the end of year two.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A long table full of people looking at camera.

At a small Italian restaurant in San Francisco for dinner. It’s a new beginning for a friend. What better way to celebrate than a long table filled with love ones, and lots of wine. When we arrived, the restaurant was quiet and unassuming. By the time we finish our antipasto other diners are asking to be moved to a quieter location.

An group of 11 palying irish music in a corner of the pub.

Walking along Clement street after dinner, the sound of Irish music draws me into The Plough and the Stars pub. It’s mesmerizing. For about ten minutes I totally forget where I am.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Yellow diamond shaped traffic sign with a silhouette of a flying monkey.

I would have not been at all surprised to see this in Fairfax or Venice, California. But this fabulous sign, with no explanation whatsoever, sits on Main street in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Run into a father and daughter who are also admiring the sign. The daughter said she had spent hours online trying to find the backstory, but came up with nothing. It’s probably better that way. Somethings are better left a mystery.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A group of guests stands outside the hotel in the wee hours of the morning.

Awake at 3.30 a.m. in London to the piercing sound of the hotel’s fire alarm. Lack of the smell of anything burning, or the sound of any chaos outside our door keeps me skeptical for about seven minutes. The alarm continues relentlessly, so we grab passports, wallets, and phones and join fellow guests outside on the street. Most of them look significantly more bedraggled than Emily and I. Makes me wonder if we missed a party earlier.

The fire brigade rolls up, lights a flashing, turns off fire alarm, and bids everyone to go back to their room. I feel sorry for the hotel staff. Dealing with bitchy guests who feel that lifesaving protocols shouldn’t apply to them unless there’s an actual catastrophe is probably not why they signed up for the graveyard shift. Am thankful that the very small group of vociferous complaining solipsists are not American.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A black dog runs down a fog enshrouded dirt road lined with trees.

Versailles is shrouded in a thick fog when we arrive from Paris at the crack of dawn. After setting off in the direction indicated by a myriad of signs at the train station, the location of the fabled palace is not altogether obvious. Mostly because the fog occludes any visibility beyond a hundred yards.

A regal looking dog trots past with a confidence that convinces us to follow. After a half a mile Emily and see the gate. Wow.

Fog enshrouds the golden gate of the palace of Versailles.

The palace and the grounds are vast. It’s easy to become obsessed with reading every single informational plaque in an attempt to comprehend; how was this someone’s house? Yes, I understand it was the residence of kings, queens, princes, and princesses, but the opulence is truly overwhelming. Yet, it’s also inspiring and beautiful.

The palace of Versailles from the gardens.

Inside the palace looking out through floor to cieling french doors.

Around eleven Emily and I eat at what will become one of our favorite places in France, Restaurant Angelina. For those that would argue that there are Michelin starred restaurants in Paris that are probably better, and don’t cater to tourists, I say dining is part food and part experience. Outside the fog continues to drift aimlessly, inside, the legendary hot chocolate warms our souls. It’s a flawless moment.

We embark on what will become a seven mile trek around the Palace’s gardens. Each mile passes with good conversation and spectacular sites. The Petit Trianon is particularly wonderful.

The Petit Trianon with pond in foreground.

A little further, the Grande Trianon. I’m in disbelief that people woke up, had a coffee, and sauntered around these magical halls as if it was any other day. But I have it on good authority that they did. This inspires me to pursue sovereignty as new career.

Moody dark photo of the Grand Canal.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Emily lifting her nose up to a cone to smell the scent.

Although the history of scent extraction goes back to a female chemist in Mesopotamia in 1200 BC, modern perfume owes its origins to Queen Elizabeth of Hungary. She commissioned its creation in 1370 and introduced it to Europe.

Emily is a passionate perfume aficionado. So it is with great anticipation that we go to Le Grand Musée du Parfum in the Eighth. There are four floors of history and olfactory escapades. In an exhibit that looks like a scene from a pallid Alice in Wonderland garden, motion sensors activate spritzers of natural scents when you stick your schnoz in a cone. Another exhibit offers little gold balls that you hold to your nose, and then to your ear, to smell, and then listen about the base ingredients of all perfumes. Spend about four hours sniffing our way through the museum. Afterward we drop in on a café just outside in the courtyard. Over two large glasses of wine we discuss what Emily would name her own perfume line.

Paris building from a river boat.

Later, Emily suggests that we take a boat ride down the Seine river. “The big boats look too touristy to be fun,” I say. Emily says I should shut the fk up and buy some tickets. Which I dutifully do. The trip is incredible, and I learn to reign in my cynicism.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Emily in cafe sipping cappuccino.

I got a myriad of responses when I asked friends which arrondissement to stay in Paris. Only one said the fifteenth. It’s not fancy and it’s not trendy, but it is wholly Parisian. After surviving a few days of “you ain’t from around here” looks, we’ve slipped into a comfortable rapport with the all the food vendors and the people who run café around the corner. It feels good to be a part of community, if only briefly. We’re treated as visitors instead of as tourists. The distinction may seem subtle, but it there’s a significant difference.

Emily standing under subway tracks.

The location of the fifteenth is spectacular. Steps away from our flat is a minor hub of a metro station. The entirety of Paris, and indeed the train to Versailles is easily accessible. As we walk through many of the other arrondissements we compare them to our temporary home. Funny how you can get attached to an area so quickly once you have a relationship with the people who live and work there.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Looking at spire from roof of Notre Dame.

Not one for wanting to meander among throngs of tourists, my patience is biblically tested as inane jokes about “all these steps” echo off the stone walls of the narrow winding staircase of the Cathedrale de Notre Dame. The body odor of the crowd becomes more pungent the higher we ascend the 387 steps. Begin to wonder about the portly gentleman in front of me. His breathing is labored. If his heart ceases he’s gonna fall backward and roll over me like that big stone in the Indiana Jones movie.

Thankfully we make to the out-of-doors and a spectacular view of Paris. We seem to have arrived just in time to watch the gargoyle’s feed. They’re sexy looking, but their table manners are atrocious. “Put it on plate, you’ll enjoy it more,” I say. No one gets it. I realize I am now one of those annoying people I loathed on the way up.

Close up of stone gargoyle.

Bad humor stowed, I’m particularly impressed with Emily who has a profound fear of heights. Think twice about congratulating her, lest I break the spell and she suddenly realizes how high up she is. Instead I take a long look around in anticipation of giving this magical city a good run for the next two weeks.

Emily and Lou atop Notre Dame.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lou eating icecream sandwich on dock of pond.

Growing up in California in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, my concept of a pond has always been a decorative water feature with a bunch of oddly colored fish in it. Apparently, on the east coast, where the beach is called the shore, small dark green lakes are called ponds. And you swim in them.

Am at the Eastbury Pond in Connecticut enjoying a bit of recovery from my trip to Lake Shasta. If you’re confused, and think you’re reading that last sentence as; a vacation to recover from a previous vacation, you are correct.

The pond is serene, the weather is fabulous, and I’m salaciously gawking and my beautiful girlfriend in a bathing suit. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any better until I hear a piercing rendition of “It’s a Small World” over a loudspeaker. It’s the Good Humor Ice Cream truck. I always thought that Good Humor was a brand made up in the movies.

I feel a little conspicuous being the only person in line at the truck’s window that’s over twelve. Emily seems to be rushing around reassuring parents that I’m not a pervert, I’ve just never had Good Humor before. Have to say, it’s one of the best ice cream sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stairs down to dock at Bridge Bay.

It is best described as a floating bacchanal that has tempered over time. There’s a core group of about twenty of us who gather for the week around fourth of July to live on houseboat at Lake Shasta. Non-core Shastites, newbies, and occasional vistors, can swell the population up to forty-ish. Recent years have required two houseboats to accommodate everyone. The inaugural Shasta trip was thirty-three years ago, this year marks my thirty-first. Dam, I love Shasta.

Lake Shasta.

Top od Shasta Dam at sunset.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Looking at projection of backyard on the walls of darkened room.

I’m at the Eastman Museum in Rochester. What your looking at is the wall of a small room that’s been converted into a giant camera obscura. As people walk along the grounds outside the museum, you can see them sauntering upside down on the walls. The picture below reveals the window that was blacked out, save the critical hole. It’s just about the coolest thing I’ve seen this trip.

Dark board with a hole covers a window.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sting on stage at the Hollywood Palladium.

My favorite musical artist, Sting, at the Hollywood Palladium. I can’t tell you how much I love small venues. That’s not to say that an evening at the Hollywood bowl doesn’t have it’s merits, but getting close and really hearing the music, that’s livin’ man.