Friday, October 31, 2008


There was one thing I was shocked to learn about Europe: They have graffiti just like we do. NONE of it was on historic buildings, mind you. They respect themselves too much for that. These are some pics of European graffiti. I wonder what it says.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Lisbon, Portugal is a city marred by catastrophes. In one day, it was hit by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that lasted six minutes. If you live in L.A., you know that's more than twice as long as our worst earthquake. Since Lisbon is a city by the sea, 45 minutes after that earthquake, a tsunami hit. In the areas unaffected by the tsunami, fires broke out, and flames raged for five days. These events were studied, and led to the birth of seismology.

In effect, the City of Lisbon, Number 66 on my Bucket List, was destroyed in a single day. (Maybe it should have been number 666?) But that was back in 1755, and today it is all well and good. We toured it by tram and noticed the reconstructed buildings were now covered with ceramic tile, very beautiful, very sturdy. They are known for their tile-making, so I bought a couple tiles to use as trivets.

The first photo is a home in a residential district, the second one is me in front of a tiled building, the third is a pic of a monastery where I should have signed Sarge up for monkhood. The real catastrophe is that I didn't.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

THE SHACK (and I don't mean Shaquille O'Neal)

POP QUIZ: What if you got a note, purportedly from God, inviting you to a lunch meeting? Would you think it's a joke? Or would you step out on faith and go without question? Because what if it really was Him? Granted, written invitations to dine with The Lord don't come every day, but who are we to question Him? Maybe He gets hungry sometimes.

If He wanted to meet me at 3:47 on the third Wednesday of the seventh month in the middle of an ice floe off the shores of Finland, I'd make a beeline to get there, but that's because I love Him. Even if you aren't religious, though, wouldn't you want to ask God a few questions about the state of the world today, if given a chance?

Well, one of my almighty friends gave me this wondrous piece of fiction that posits that scenario. It's entitled The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (that's not her real name, but it is her personality), shoved the book in my hand and said, "Read this."

Fearful of her wrath, and knowing that it's her way or no way, I dutifully complied. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. I laughed and I cried. Don't you just love when that happens?
I guess it's just me then.

Anyway, the story is about a man who has tragically lost his youngest daughter. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness. Fast forward to four grief-stricken years later, he receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to the shack for a weekend. Against his bitter judgment, (typo intended) he arrives there on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. I promise you what he finds there will shock and amaze you.

While reading amazing books is not on my Bucket List, it is the ever present backdrop against which my life is set. So I thank She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed for giving me The Shack at such a timely moment, and I thank God for giving me a friend like her.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Every now and then, it's good to get away from the men (and children) in your life, let them miss you a bit, and enjoy yourself at the same time.

One weekend, the Diva and I decided to trek up to San Francisco and paint the town Diva Red, number 63 on my Bucket List.

Crustaceans is my favorite Beverly Hills restaurant, but the original one is in San Francisco, so we made a beeline to it after we dropped our luggage off at the hotel. Now, the Crustaceans back home is very chi-chi, and has a river-like koi pond that wafts through the restaurant beneath a plexiglass floor, and will surely throw you off balance if you try to look at it while walking to your table. The Crustaceans in S.F. is a small cramped room with not even a 5-gallon aquarium, and the food isn't as tasty, either.

Across the street, though, we spotted a thrift store that boasted an affiliation with Magic Johnson called Out of the Closet. (Now, now. Quiet in the peanut gallery.) I bought a hat, as it had been raining ever since we got there.

We did a lot of shopping that weekend, but we also partook of the nightlife, strictly for educational purposes, of course.

Armed with fabulosity that evening, the first club we went to was a no-go. No music after 11 p.m., so we had to go. We walked around the corner to a great little jazz club where they had a Billie Holiday tribute trio. Loved it! Next stop was a club at the top of the Hyatt that had a 360 degree view of the city . . . AWEsome.

We woke up the next day to sunshine. WooHooooooo. We went to Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, and found an antique shop where I spent way too much money, but the Diva spent more. That is always my saving grace. I tell Sarge, "But the Diva spent more than I did." Somehow, he has no trouble believing that.

We ended our escapade at the best seafood restaurant in Frisco called Farallon. The decor was underwater city of Atlantis theme, and the food was out of this world, as well.

A befitting end to our fabulous weekend, and I thank God for a good -- no, a GREAT friend to share those memories with.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


In the days of my youth, which now seem like another dimension of time, I saw Natalie Woods go skinny dipping in a movie called This Property is Condemned, also starring Robert Redford. I thought, ooh, that must be SO refreshing! And ever since then, I've wanted to go skinny dipping, Number 38 on my Bucket list. When I had the opportunity, I didn't have the nerve; when I had the nerve, I didn't have the opportunity. Now, the twain has met. The kids no longer live at home, so I have no excuse, except that the neighbors on EVERY side have a view of our pool.

So one night, we felt spontaneous, (and when I say "we" I mean Sarge), and we drove down to our home in Palm Springs. Even though we have neighbors on all sides there, too, we have the high drama of tall shrubbery to seclude the pool. Of course, I still had trouble gathering my nerves together, so while I undressed and put my robe on, Sarge turned off all the lights in the house as well as those in the yard and in the pool. He made it so dark I had to yell "Marco Polo" for him to find me.

I quickly disrobed and jumped in the pool naked as the day I was born, and Sarge splashed in behind me.

"Exhilarating, isn't it?" I said, giddy with delight.

"No," he corrected me, "energizing." He swam off with his famous butterfly stroke.

"Un-uhn . . . invigorating," I shot back as I shimmied the cold water off, and laid back and began doing the backstroke.

"No," said Sarge watching me pass by, "Stimulating."

And now, when my friends read this, they'll never want to swim in my pool again, because I've given them too much information.

The skinny-dipping occurs about six minutes into this video.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hola, chicas y hombres!!!!

My espanole is not very good because, well, I'm not Hispanic. Of the many ethnicities swimming around in my DNA, Spanish is not one of them.

However, in my travels, I realize that every foreign country we visit, the people there speak English as a second language. Americans are far behind in that respect, so I decided when in Rome, speak Romish . . . or Italian; whatever floats your gondola. Actually, I've chosen Spanish as my second language, #21 on my Bucket List, and it has nothing to do with California being 60% Hispanic. (I'm lying; it has a lot to do with it.)

You'd be surprised how many Spanish words you already know that you didn't know you knew because you didn't know they were Spanish words. Who knew?

Salsa = the dance AND the dip
Fiesta = party
Margarita = margarita (Hmmm.....I see a pattern developing)
Bicycletta = bicycle
La Economia esta fallando = ..........You guessed it! The Economy is failing.

And if that's not enough Spanish for you, check out Rosetta Stone software. It teaches you using the immersion method, so there are NO English translations to fall back on. You must learn the language.

Well, hasta la vista, Bambinos!
(Okay, I mixed Spanish with Italian, but you figured it out, didn't you?)