The Way It Is In The Big Apple

About a year ago our oldest son and his lovely bride moved to New York City. His move made the distance between my oldest two children into a sort of extended yoga pose with one long arm stretched from the Southeast United States to Pasadena, California, and the other lengthening just as hard to New York, New York. The third child lives about twenty minutes away from me , so I can just bend my knee behind me  as I balance  on one leg  to symbolize his distance. Try that pose for a minute. Don’t forget to breathe!

It may sound silly to think of contorting one’s body to demonstrate the whereabouts of one’s children, but being a parent  is nothing if not a contorting experience. As time goes by I adjust more to the idea that my children’s adult statuses are permanent, and no clever bargaining I  do will  ever change that. In the transition I have hopefully  been able to  form close adult relationships with them, and share in the joys and travails of their lives. I am enormously proud of all three of them, and of the new son and daughter I have acquired through marriage. And I’ve taken quite well to the empty nester experience.  So all is well except that I can’t see them whenever I want to. And I do want to.

Therefore when my husband  recently announced that he had a business trip to the Newark, New Jersey area, I immediately made plans to meet him  there at the end of his business  so that we could spend the weekend with our son and daughter in law in The Big Apple. We arranged to stay through the weekend so we could have all day Saturday and Sunday with the busy couple, and fly back Monday. I was thrilled to get to see my darlings, but also to see the city without having to make any of the plans. Past history has shown that when we visit our children they do all the leg work. It’s nice having them do some of the contorting. By the way, you can come out of that pose now.

We arrived Friday afternoon and checked into The MAve Hotel.  We couldn’t both fit into our children’s postage stamp sized  Manhattan digs,  so I  chose this hotel because of its   proximity to my son’s home. In case anyone cares, I expect to  stay there again. It is in a narrow building on Madison Avenue. The room size is reasonable by New York standards, the beds comfy, and the furnishings new and clean.  Another plus was the  good overhead  light and bed side reading light, which one does not often find in hotels. The employees were polite and attentive. There is a free grab and go breakfast, but we didn’t need it.

The MAve Hotel.

I liked the staircase in the building. I think we were on the eleventh floor.

After checking into the hotel  we went to a neighborhood craft beer establishment , The Rattle and Hum to wait for our companions to arrive after  work. We were happy to relax at the bar and sample new brews while reflecting that yes, once again we were the oldest people in the building. Then of course once our son arrived with his wife I had the chance to  embarrass them both with my effusive welcome.Once we greeted one another we capped off the evening with dinner at  Southern Spice  Chettinad  Indian restaurant.  I was tired by then and didn’t get pictures but just trust me; it was all delicious.

In the morning  our son took us to their new apartment, a four story walkup. While small in size it is large in character with  an exposed brick wall, a fireplace and lovely wooden ceiling beams. So what if there is not much closet space? They always have the roof of the building to stretch out in. It didn’t seem too much smaller than their previous apartment in Brooklyn, plus it is much closer to all the things they want to do.

At the doorway.

On the rooftop.

Our next stop was  to Kalustayan’s, an enormous Indian and ethnic grocery store on Lexington,  where I nosed around for as long a time as I thought my companions could wait for me.  This store really requires its own separate blog post.  Pictures and words simply cannot do it justice.   There  are rows and rows of spices, salts, teas, flours, cooking utensils and so many other goodies. Could I have stayed longer? Yes, but I also wanted to go to the The Tenement Museum.

I love all this stuff.

Fresh tumeric.

The deli on the top floor.

Newly made halvah.

We arrived at the Museum to learn that we would need to sign up for a tour which would not begin  for over an hour. So we amused ourselves watching the neighborhood sights, sometimes from inside this establishment, Top Hops. From a sweet window seat we munched on a cheese plate and tasted beers.

The Tenement Museum.

Refreshments before the Museum tour.

Top Hops.

Photography inside the Museum is prohibited, and they mean that. So I will just tell you that we took a tour called “Irish Outsiders”, which talked about the crowded and sordid living conditions of the area in the 1800s and the many trials the immigrants faced trying to succeed in their new land. We were able to see an unrestored and a restored tenement apartment, each containing 325 square feet.  Walking through the apartments, viewing the stripped back layers of paint, it was evident that many many stories remain to be told of those who once lived there.

Our tour guide seemed to want us to discuss tolerance and bigotry in today’s world, but our group was not forthcoming. Speaking ,though, of how public perceptions have changed  I did share that my grandmother used to sing, with no sense she was degrading anyone,  a song with the following lyrics: “I come from Hong Hong China, Me workie  for the Mellican (American) man, catch rats all day in the laundry, Me catch ’em just the best  me can.” So I feel I added to the canon of information on the subject.

Following our leaders from the Museum, we hopped in a cab and headed for the open rooftop bar atop The Pod  39 Hotel. I had read about this ultramodern hotel/hostel and here I was,  right on the cutting edge! Oh, if I could have stayed all night I would have! The patio bar gave no hint of the hipster haven below. Rather, the arched bricks, plantings and fountains evoked a scene from days gone by. I bobbed from one side of the patio to the other, madly taking pictures as the sun sunk lower in the sky. My companions eventually but  gently nudged me toward the elevator after several hours. Really. I would have stayed there all night!

The Pod 39 Hotel.

A lovely setting.

The view from the patio.

Empire State Building.

Night was falling but I still wanted to take more pictures.

It was getting cold up there so we had to leave.

Our young guides had decided upon a sushi place for dinner, for the wait was too long at their first choice, so we went to another spot across the street. Like the night before, I was tired. I don’t remember what all this was, but it was the chef’s specialty that night. And it was absolutely fabulous.

A lovely dinner.

Too soon it was Sunday. We met for brunch at Resto, a Belgian Restaurant. The place was hopping, with some soulful Al Green in the background. I had a frittata with ham, gruyere and avocado that filled me up for the REST of the day. So it was good that we did a lot of walking.

Our first stop after brunch was the Marianne Boesky Gallery  where there was an ongoing exhibit by Lucie Fontaine and her employees. But if I have my facts straight, Lucie Fontaine herself is a creation of  the three artists who work for her. During the exhibit, work by the “four” of them, plus other artists is on display in the space they have designed to be Lucie Fontaine’s home. The “employees” live there and play the parts of servants in the home.

When we arrived, no one answered the door for a long time. Just as we were about to leave, a young woman came to the door and said that the gallery was not really open, but that we could come in. Was this part of the original conceit?   We didn’t know. She allowed us to see the first floor, Lucie’s living room, and the second floor with her office, bedroom and bath. We looked and puzzled around until we had seen it all. On our way out, we thanked the young lady for letting us in. I asked her to please tell Lucie Fontaine we were sorry to have missed her. On the stoop we asked ourselves again if the place had really  been closed.  Had we participated  in a play within a play?  We didn’t know. And in my opinion, leaving an art exhibit in a state of not knowing fulfills the purpose of an exhibit.

Ms. Fontaine’s dining table.

The living room.

Fruit Pits.

In Ms. Fontaine’s bedroom.

In Ms. Fontaine’s office.

From there as it was a lovely day we went on to Central Park. My husband and I had only been to Central Park before in cold weather, so it was quite a treat to roam through parts of the park we hadn’t seen, with no particular destination in mind. There were lots of people in the park, but not so many that we felt crowded. It was after 5:00 by the time we emerged from the park. A confab on a concrete bench at the park’s gate resulted in the decision to eat that evening at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria,  one of Mario Batali’s restaurants.

A wedding in Central Park.

The whole park seemed romantic.

Once again we hopped a cab to whatever the right neighborhood was. On our way to the restaurant I saw what looked like a tiny little lady pushing a shopping cart. But a closer inspection revealed her to be a sculpture. And beside her, in the stoop of a building. was a grouping a magazines and other items which apparently was part of the exhibit. After I started taking pictures the artist, a homeless woman, came out from somewhere demanding that I give a donation. I gave her one, but she discombobulated me so much that I didn’t stick around for more photos. At dinner we had an interesting conversation about the ways of big city life, and whether I should have donated. But as my son said, her work was intriguing. . So I didn’t mind the donation.

And what to say about Otto? Homey and welcoming, it is  modeled after an Italian train station.  I can guarantee that once you eat there you will beg to return. The wine list is three pages long. My husband had to seek the services of the sommolier who kindly helped him choose an appropriate wine for the evening. Why can’t I eat there for every meal?  Do you see how I am already begging? I had a cucumber and watermelon salad with mint and shaved cheese that was so good it brought tears to me eyes.  And I think I did cry when I tried my arugula and prosciutto pizza. I don’t have any Mario Batali cookbooks but it is clear that I need one. I love the simple dishes with big big flavors. May I please go back?

In the “waiting room” of Otto.


Clam Pizza

Arugula and prosciutto pizza.

After dinner we took what was for me a sad taxi ride back to the hotel, where we would go our separate ways. My son and his wife were no doubt eager to return to their own apartment and prepare for their respective weeks ahead. After they left and while I packed my suitcase. I reflected on how not once did this young couple  seem resentful to be giving up their whole weekend for us. Never once did they show impatience at my endless picture taking and dropping of my lens cap on the busy sidewalks. Never once did they show embarrassment at our touristy ways. In my youth, would I have behaved with such grace and maturity? I can’t say.

In stages I realize that my children are adults. In stages I realize I am no longer in charge of things. That’s just how life is right now. I can remember back to days when I never could have dreamed that my grown children would delight me so,  or that they would be the most interesting people I know.  Well, I’ve earned it, and so have they. And I’m going to enjoy things just the way they are.

How The Mighty Have Fallen – For Ladies Only

I have to get going early in the morning, because I have a stealth errand to run before work. An emergency errand.  An errand which  which will not wait. An errand of the most serious kind. You ladies will understand: I must have new bras.

Needing a bra at 55 bears no resemblance to needing a bra at 12, or whenever I finally dragged my Mother to Shainberg’s Department Store to purchase my first training bra. What a magical moment that was to open a cardboard box adorned with a slim chestnut haired girl in HER training bra, and unfold my very own stretchy white rectangle with straps and a demure satin triangle in  the middle. All my hard work agitating for my cause, ceaselessly cajoling and reminding my Mother that I HAD TO HAVE A BRA had finally paid off.

IIn my opinion my Mother had been quite slow to see the wisdom  of  rushing  me to Shainberg’s some night right after she did the dishes. I was a thin girl, and in the fashions of the day my burgeoning breasts could no longer be disguised! Never mind that they burgeoned only to me. I wasn’t going to get caught among my peer group with out this requisite garment.  At school the girls  actually played a little “game” with one another, wherein we came up to a female class mate and patted her on the back in greeting. With our friends looking on, we nodded the verdict – yea if we felt a bra strap. nay if we didn’t. Woe unto the poor girl whose Mother had sent her to school in a little white uniform  blouse and no bra!

Anyway, at some point my Mother did give in and buy me the little trainer. There were no flowery speeches on her part, no sweet smiles to say she understood that I had celebrated a rite of passage. She wasn’t a demonstrative person in the first place, and also I think she knew what was coming.

As the years went by, I grew of course to actually need a bra. I was pleasantly if not fantastically endowed.  My breasts were my friends, and bras my loyal servants. Bra options were endless:   gauzy, lacy, front snapping, sexy, strapless. Later these gave way temporarily to pregnancy and nursing bras. But after a time I returned, somewhat altered, but still quite viable in the bustline department, to  whatever was most comfortable and flattering: Wonder bras, running bras, push- up bras,  underwire bras, cotton bras. I could rely on my trusty bras and my perky bustline to deliver just the look I wanted.

But you know where this is going. Somehow in the last decade  without my noticing it, my breasts began, in miniscule movements similar to those of the tectonic plates, to drift apart, each to its closest armpit, as though they had  decided to migrate right around to the back of my shoulder blades and hang there. Maybe they’re going to. At the same time some unseen mechanism began to stretch out the actual length of the breasts, so that they appear as reflected in a funhouse mirror. Or as two very sad eggplants looking away from each other.

Gone are the days of rifling through rack after rack  of  matching lacy confectionary  lingerie sets and actually CHOOSING what I want. Now I take what fits and gives me some semblance of a shape.  Now I have to go the specialty bra store in my town.

Lest I sound like a whiner,  let me say I am deeply grateful for the specialty bra store, which serves the needs of many women, including those  with prosthetic breasts. The ladies who work at the store are professional and kind and do much to improve the quality of life for their customers.  I never have to pick through the bras there, not that it would do any good if I did.

For a while I didn’t even understand what had happened to me. I was going to the specialty store because I knew I could get waited on. About a year or so ago I left with some bras that in order to give me some shape in the vast valley  between my breasts, were formed by some sort of foam into oddly shaped cups which pressed me in and widened me at the same time.   I felt like a football player who also happened to be an old lady.

Undaunted, I returned to the specialty store. “These bras give me a terrible shape,” I complained to my little saleslady. “Don’t you have something a little more… attractive?” Not without some sort of molded shape, she told me, shaking her little Dutch boy bobbed head sadly. But she did look, and came back with a bra that had some shape but didn’t extend up to my neck. “I’ll take two !” I exclaimed, dreaming of how nice my sweaters were going to fit me now.

So I wore those new bras a while, and the weirdest thing happened. At a party, or at work, I would become aware of a feeling of pressure right about the midpoint of my breasts,  an unusually unfettered feeling below midline, and a crowded feeling up by my collarbones.  A quick look in the ladies’ room revealed that these new bras, while on the tightest setting were riding right up my breasts. All day long we would be in a tug of war. Tug down, ride up. Tug down, ride up.  I work in a mental health setting, where I sit directly across from clients all day. I couldn’t be listening to clients while yanking on my bra.. Yet I couldn’t have half of my breasts uncovered either.  I’d fidget, cross my arms, wear sweaters, but nothing made the situation more bearable.

So one day when I had a break in my schedule I decided I was going right over to that bra store and let them see my problem. I just let the bra ride up as far as it wanted to on the way over there; I had on a coat anyway. I marched into the store where three ladies stood behind the counter, “I have a  BIG problem,” I announced,  and threw open my coat for them to see this debacle. About thirty uncomfortable silent seconds passed, as the ladies surveyed me with wild looks in their eyes, “Can’t you see this bra is riding up?” I questioned. “Oh, ” they sighed. “We were afraid you’d had a terribly botched reconstruction surgery! We didn’t know what to say!”

That day several ladies crowded into the fitting room to assess the problem, cluck and make suggestions.  Lots of bras were brought in for me to try, and eventually I left with yet another set of contoured bras that seemed just right. These bras came closer to approximating a natural shape and they stayed put. No longer would I be humiliated in public, with people thinking I must have lice or a neurological disorder.

All was well for awhile. I washed these bras faithfully by hand. I knew they wouldn’t last forever but they’d been so stress free that I probably didn’t go back in for new ones as soon as I should have.  I knew I was overworking them. And who would  have blamed me  for procrastinating  after having had so much trouble finding bras in the first place?

That is why yesterday I endured  what must be the cruelest cut of all from a bra.  I was sitting with a client, wearing one of my old standby bras  which I had just rinsed out the night before. Suddenly I got this whiff of…. fermentation? Rotten cheese? In my  practiced sleight of hand way I discreetly sniffed my shirt, a sweater, the blanket draped over my chair.  Nothing. Weird, I thought, and returned to the matter at hand. But at the end of the hour I ran to the ladies room to discover that the smell was …  Oh no, how embarrassing !  How can I say it? It was my BRA!!!! It was ROTTEN!!!!

I didn’t exactly rip my hair out but I wanted to, as I cursed the cruel perfidy of these body changes, and my many failed efforts to have bras once again serve me  in the manner I saw fit. Truly, this was worse than being patted on the back by a sixth grade girl and having her shake her head nay. There is nothing for it but to return to the bra store and not leave until I find something. No pun intended, but oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Squatters’ Limbo

It is again Friday afternoon, and I’m preparing to meet my husband at our new condo. Thus far having the condo has been an adventure, in a good way. We’ve spent two nights there, on successive Fridays, and this weekend we will be there Friday night AND Saturday night.

Feeling comfortable there has been a process. We are in a kind of squatter’s limbo.  We don’t want to take much down there  because everything will have to be moved for renovation. Normally I  would scrub every surface of a dwelling I had purchased, but  we’re not going doing it here, because it will all be torn out. Yet it has to have a decent enough atmosphere  for me to stay there without  cringing and holding  my muscles in uncomfortable positions, the way one automatically does in a place where one does not want to put one’s purse on the floor. I was already a little disappointed when we went to the condo for the first time because my husband had not  yet changed the air conditioner filter, and I thought the place smelled like  like a dead foot.

With the afore mentioned dilemma in mind, we started out the first weekend with an air mattress, linens, and basic toiletries. The footies I remembered to bring so I could walk inside without shoes were an added plus. We weren’t there very long, because we had theater tickets. In the morning my companion went out and bought us coffee to drink on the balcony.

Our bed for the time being.

A sweet card from our daughter and son in law.

That morning, sipping our not so good coffee, we outlined what we thought were the next vital needs for the condo. Me: Lamp beside the air mattress. One cannot be expected to sleep in a room where one cannot read. Him: Balcony height chairs and a coffee maker. Me: Change the air conditioner filter! These improvements were unanimously approved.

The second weekend we arrived  armed with the coffee maker and coffee, and had the balcony furniture on order. I had scrounged up a lamp and a little table for the bedroom. My husband had stopped by earlier in the week to change the nasty air conditioner filter. And when we entered the condo, SURPRISE!!! the  balcony furniture had arrived! And the place smelled much better!

Our first new condo furniture!

Ambient lighting always helps.

That night had a more relaxed pace, because we did not have the theater deadline. After unloading our new supplies we headed down to Mud Island, where our youngest son works as a server in a casual grill. He ushered us to our reserved table where we were able to have a leisurely dinner, knowing we would be receiving stellar service!

It’s good to have friends in high places.

While we were waiting for our dinner I slipped out to get a few shots of the  Mississippi River and the bridge in the dusk. Standing there, with my camera poised to snap, I had the  lovely revelation that  we were making this condo a home. By staying there even when we didn’t walk to walk there barefoot, by enjoying a glass of wine on our too small chairs on the balcony, by coming down to Mud Island and recording the evening, we were making memories. And each small memory would now be attached in our minds to the condo. A new chapter had really begun.

After dinner my sweet husband and I  unpacked the furniture box. I was determined to do my share putting the furniture together. Naturally the directions had few words if any, and screws and things kept spilling out of those little plastic bags and rolling into oblivion.  My  husband was very patient with my “help,” stopping what he was doing to show me how to use those little wrenches and providing helpful information such as, “Screws generally go in clockwise.”  When we got the first chair put  together he kindly suggested I try out the chair and let him finish the job. Since it was so late I accepted his offer.

The new furniture.

Now we are the veterans of two nights at the condo. Events have lined up so that this weekend we plan to spend two nights there. Tonight we will go to the theater, tomorrow meet the plumber to discuss the renovation, go to a festival and to a party. My husband doesn’t know it but I am bring a second air mattress to slide in under the first one. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Don’t Say, Just Cool

One of travel’s most lasting gifts  is the permission it gives us  to depart from our accustomed  routines. In our daily lives we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of not  doing laundry or not driving the carpool or  not having the tires rotated.  And no matter how much we may love the people who benefit from our daily chores, these jobs take time and energy. Consistency and routine are important to the ordered life, but in my mind, order needs to be balanced out from time to time with a little adventure.

In my household my long suffering husband does the majority of the  quotidian chores: mowing the grass ( I’m allergic), paying the bills ( I may not remember), checking the swimming pool water ( I don’t like science), and taking care of the vehicles.( It wouldn’t occur to me, except to put in gas.) He keeps himself so busy that I have to go look for him if I want talk to him about something, and usually find him diligently performing some thankless task. And right after that he will have another very important task which must be done only by him.

Of course I  have my own designated  chores such as cooking, gardening, organizing, and supervising. Supervising takes lots of time. But by now we’ve worked out who is the most natural person say, to dust. Don’t ask my husband to do that unless we find out the President will arrive  at our home in thirty minutes, and even then he’ll try to convince  me that if he  were to strategically arrange our coffee table books, no one will notice the fur growing on top of the furniture.

With our various responsibilities we often spend the bulk of the weekend days completing our tasks alone, There never seems to be enough time set aside for the “we” of us, for the couple. That is why I so savor our vacations as well as  the memories of them. It’s nice to set aside the time for ourselves, and  even nicer to reflect on how we spent our time together after we’re back and again caught up in the demands of the real world.

I have shared some of our  June 2012 Vancouver pictures here in previous posts, and today we’ll see pictures of two more play days there. The first play day is the Sea to Sky train, and the second is bicycling Stanley Park.

Neither of us had been to Vancouver before, so whatever we did there was a first for us. When reading about activities we had to choose among the many “must do” recommendations to try to see what seemed the most important to us. We both agreed we could not miss the train ride from Vancouver to Whistler.

If you go to Vancouver, know that the railroad offers various trips, but we only had time for the up and back day trip.  The ticket price includes a bus ride to the terminal. We had read that the railroad workers were on strike, but the only sign of that was a group of picketers we passed on our way in. We  were welcomed cordially onto the train as a kilted man played the bagpipes in the railroad yard.

All aboard!

Once in transit, a festive atmosphere ensued as the passengers tried to eat the ice cold, brickbat  Indian bread called bannock which was included in the breakfast.  A German tour group was in our car, and though I don’t know the language,  facial expressions are the same in any language.   For  the next three and a  half hours  the train chugged  in a leisurely fashion  up the mountains to Whistler.  Guides let the passengers know when good photo opportunities were  approaching. We were free to then rush into the observation car, wrapped in blankets they provided, to crowd up to the edge of the  open car for a photo. Adults and energetic children made their way up and down the aisles to be on time for some beautiful view we were about to pass. Others followed, because they didn’t want to miss anything.

Something very beautiful is on the other side of this window.

Now. The route is gorgeous, offering stunning views of the Howe Sound, the Cheakamus River and the general environs.  The train is  clean and well appointed also, and in the United States we don’t get to ride on too many luxurious trains. Plus we love to ride trains. So for us it was a win all around, except that it was hard to get good pictures from the moving train. Now you will know why I took so many pictures of the side of the train!

We were dropped at our destination with instructions as to what time to be back for the return trip. Whistler is a ski town, but we weren’t planning to ski, and it was too cold to do the other fun outdoor activities they had to offer. After our boxed breakfast, lunch was our first priority. Then, fueled by a good lunch and draft beer, we tended to the second issue: I was freezing to death.

My husband had worn  a heavy sweater but I had only a thin shirt and thinner sweater. All morning in the observation car the wind had pierced through cracks in my blanket armor. I was not going to go back through three more hours of that. I have to have the right equipment when I travel. I just do. Luckily the Whistler ski shops had all manner of cold weather accoutrements available to wear in June. We fitted ourselves out proudly  with Whistler hoodies to erase all doubt as whether we were tourists. I can assure you I do not spend many afternoons with my spouse  inside retail stores, so this was a real treat.

The return three and a half hours was much more subdued. I didn’t see many people in the observation cars. Some folks were snoozing. I wanted to sleep too, but four older ladies behind me who each occupied  an entire seat of her own, carried on a loud, uninhibited conversation about new grandchildren. So we snuggled, bundled in our sweatshirts, full, warm, and grateful, and eavesdropped for all we were worth.

I loved this purple plant growing on the rocks.

See how much warmer I am in my hoodie?

The next day was the day for Stanley Park. For various reasons it had previously  never worked out for us to rent bikes and ride when we have traveled,  but this  day we scored! Stanley Park  was just a short but brisk walk from out hotel. Renting bikes was easy at one of the many bike rental stores that surround the park. After I finally mastered the art of getting on the bike, a skill only acquired after I jumped on it the wrong way and fell on my tailbone in front of a group of people, we rode all through the park – in the woods, up hills, down hills,  on the seawall, around the marinas. For long stretches we could ride as fast as we wanted, just as I remember doing as a child,  with  the sun and wind on our faces.

About halfway through the park, we found the Stanley Park Teahouse, where we ate the hearty lunch we deserved after all our exertions. We deserved a beer as well.  I would have loved to eat dinner there because the Teahouse location, an officer’s mess during World War II,  has been voted the best sunset in Vancouver. Maybe next time!

We got to the edge of the park and went down a street to see if there was anything else we had missed. And what did we find?  The Lawn Bowling Club! I saw a sign that said “Open to the Public” so we wheeled right on in. A game was in progress. I don’t know lawn bowling etiquette, but we thought total silence on our part was the most respectful stance. Doesn’t this look like fun?

Alas, no one asked us to play. Probably I didn’t have on the right shoes anyway. I didn’t want to call a lot of attention to myself, but I had to get a few pictures of this cuteness. Somehow the combination of the pristine British expat- seeming lawn, the adorable elderly bowlers, the lush gardens, and the ships in the harbor in the background just thrilled me to pieces. I might need to retire here and join the Club.

Can you see the ships in the harbor across the street?

I did a double take when I saw this bed; it looks almost exactly like my back flower bed at home.

After returning the bicycles, we trudged back up the hill we had merrily hopped down earlier that morning  on our way to the park. Tired but happy, we saw just the sign that expressed everything  we felt:

You said it, honey!

That’s right. Don’t say, just cool! Just have an adventure together!  Whether close to home or far from home, it matters not. At the end of the day you will have new memories and stories to enjoy forever.