Break My Stride

Recently this song popped up on my 80s radio station channel:

Very early 80s look but upon closer examination the theme of the song really hit home. Last week I received a letter from my Home Owner’s Association that rattled me to my L4 and L5. I have a huge tree in my front yard which every so often needs pruning. But the letter had stated that I had to cut down the tree by a certain date. I responded to the letter with such a huge rant about how important my beloved tree was environmentally and aesthetically. I’m all for compliance to HOA rules but this demand had gone too far.

My response to the property manager was swift and succinct pleading with him to reconsider the board’s decision. In the end he rescinded the request and told me to prune and trim the tree in the front yard.

Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no
I got to keep on moving
Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride
I’m running and I won’t touch ground
Oh no, I got to keep on moving…

Songwriters: Matthew Wilder and Gregory Prestopino

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed dire but ended up a win?

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

A Neoteric Recharge

This past week my motor was sputtering for most of the week. Max’s health has been up and down the past few months. Like anybody we all have good days and terrible days when our bodies rebel on our minds. He hadn’t been sleeping at night which means I didn’t sleep. His cough didn’t get any better on the doxycycline. His energy levels have perked up this past weekend. Luckily on the work front things are quiet.

So last week I disengaged totally from just about everything. Some of my motive stemmed from sinus issues. Some of my detachment involved a lack of symbiosis of my mind and body to give a shit about everything. All of this tidal wave of passivity sparked this post today.

How do you recharge your creative batteries?

I did listen to a lot of music last week with a running theme:

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Karma Is My Boyfriend

What goes around comes around has become the motto these days politically, socially and even internationally. You reap what you sow meaning there is a cause and effect in every action and reaction. I certainly more and more believe in karma and not just retribution but more about rebirth and resilience in the face of adversity.

How we deal with adversity of course varies with each individual. Some bury their heads in the sand. Some look adversity straight in the eyes and survive. Some pawn adversity off on others to deal with. Some look to karma to save the day. It’s never a warm and fuzzy feeling to have trust stripped from you. For myself it’s happened a few times now. I’ve detached myself from much lately more out of necessity than neediness. Where once I found refuge online I now find some of what I read hard to swallow. How can someone who is indicted for fraud run again for President of the United States? When he is the front runner and elections are eighteen months away is this his karma back on the rest of us? I don’t think karma is a god but I wish higher powers would intervene here.

Have you witnessed instances of karma?

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

That Girl Could Sing

Writers bloc is stifling until inspiration hits my fingers. Music for me represents stimulation, elevation, exhalation, and invigoration. I heard Jackson Browne’s 1980 hit “ That Girl Could Sing” on the radio driving to work yesterday and a blog post was born. In the song Browne writes about a woman who inspired him who he revered perhaps even fell in love with but ultimately couldn’t hold on to. The song pushes a lot of emotional buttons in me because I had fallen for a guy when I turned thirty that I knew wasn’t right for me but he gave me wings in many ways. I later wrote about him in poetry.

I don’t know what happened to him. I lost touch with him ( on purpose) around 2004. At the time when I met him I was vastly insecure ( more so than now) and he sparked a flame in me although ephemeral still intoxicating. He moved to California for a spell then moved back in my neck of the woods but it never was the same. I was older wiser and on to him by then. He no longer plagued my thoughts every day. I wouldn’t let any man toy with my emotions the way he did. But at that time he made me feel desirable and that boy could sing.

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Sprachgefuhl Bitte

Half of my childhood my family lived in Germany. First in Munich when my sister and I were infants then in Wurzburg where my brother was born then finally in Frankfurt when I was a preteen. My mum’s parents retired in a resort called Bad Waldsee with swans 🦢 and boat rides and ice cream stands everywhere( soft serve in a chocolate coated cone). I studied German in high school until we moved to Texas half way through my junior year and in college. Since then I only got to practice ( loosely in simple sentences) my German eleven years ago when I visited Germany. But there are a wealth of German words that are popular today in English:

Pommes Frites: French fries

Angst: anxiety

Doppelgänger: someone who looks like you

Kitsch: poor taste

Kaput: broken or not fixable

Wunderkind: child prodigy

Uber: above, beyond or now mode of transportation

Zeitgeist: spirit of the time in history ie Woodstock

Blitzkrieg: lightning fast in military terms

Gesundheit: bless you after a sneeze

Schadenfreude: being happy about the suffering of someone else

Poltergeist: ghost rumbling also the movie

Wanderlust: love of traveling

Thank you Germany 🇩🇪 for so much of my childhood and my wanderlust now.

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Conscious Uncoupling

This term conscious uncoupling was made famous by actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2014 when she split from her husband of ten years Coldplay singer Chris Martin. She got a lot of criticism for using this term to describe why she separated and eventually divorced Martin. The term was coined by marriage and family therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas to describe how couples develop a clean break from each other without holding on to rage or anger or resentment. In a nutshell emotional and spiritual freedom to move on is the ultimate goal of conscious uncoupling.

No where is this term more needed than in the Netflix series The Diplomat starring Keri Russell as Kate Wyler a seasoned career diplomat who is chosen to become the new US ambassador to the United Kingdom a job she doesn’t want nor is really suited for ( ie dressing up for cocktail parties). Her husband Hank is played by Rufus Sewell. Hank is also a career diplomat and a former ambassador who has his sites on becoming Secretary of State. He is relegated to being “the wife of the ambassador “ the role which Kate assumed when Hank was ambassador. What I really loved about this series revolves around the dynamics of their marriage how each is miserable with each other but can’t live without each other both emotionally and politically. One example of this interconnected rope they hold between each other is at breakfast when Hank makes himself a plate of eggs and bacon and toast and is asked by Kate’s deputy aide that Hank must be really hungry. Hank responds that the plate is for Kate because she would never eat unless he had food prepared ahead. She sits down and devours the plate as they argue about a British ship getting torpedoed by either Iran or Russia.

The Diplomat also explores the dynamics of diplomacy between two countries The United States and The United Kingdom. The series opens the curtains to the hierarchy of both the US diplomatic system as well as the United Kingdom’s. As the series unfolds we find out both governments don’t trust the other as the whodunnit is played out who hit the British ship. The foreign service has always fascinated me so The Diplomat was a real treat to watch. The inner workings of Kate’s staff and how they deal with her meddling husband blended humor and candor thanks to top notch writing and great direction. Kate’s a very no frills person who hates the limelight. Her husband Hank craves attention wants to feel important and now takes a backseat to Kate’s job promotion. The D word gets flicked back and forth between them like ping pong balls. But it works boy does it work. The series will get a second season from Netflix and I am elated! Conscious uncoupling be damned!

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

Catching Up

It’s been over a month since I’ve actively read blogs. In that time I went on holiday, battled insomnia again, and have worried about my middle dog Max’s heart condition. I blogged about the holiday but failed to mention that the whole time in London and Paris I was worried about Max. He has an enlarged heart which was diagnosed almost two years ago. He’s been on heart medication since then but recently he’s developed more profound symptoms of congestive heart failure. My battle with insomnia is partly because he has a difficult time falling asleep at night.

So each night after work and each weekend my intention is to catch up with the other blogs as well as reply to comments here. If you had asked me two years ago if I would ever fall behind in reading blogs I would have said no way! 😁But here I am now behind in everything. There’s a laundry list of items needing my attention at home too including replacing a musty shower curtain ( I’ve had the new shower curtain for months now), cleaning the utility room out, sorting and organizing my spare bedroom, and gardening in the backyard. I’m exhausted just reading this list!

What does lagging behind really signify? I think for me it’s a sign of stress. I’m clearly stressed about Max’s health. If I’m being completely honest I’m overwhelmed at home. I’m not one who asks for help. I’m territorial in my home so bringing in a professional organizer like a friend of mine did with her home is not an option for me. And I’m tired all the time now. I had planned to play tourist once a month in Washington DC. It’s now May 1 and I’ve gone out only once. I fight the urge each weekend to lay on my couch and binge watch stuff. Then Monday arrives and I kick myself for not accomplishing my list. And round and round it goes. Where it stops I just don’t know.

Max turns 11 today
Last Spring
He’s my inspiration

Stay safe stay strong ❤️❤️❤️

Not Obsessed With Obsession

My review is my take on the Netflix limited series Obsession starring Richard Armitage and Charlie Murphy. All reviews are subjective because it’s the interpretation of the viewer and we each have different reactions to what we see in a story.

In all candor I watched the 1992 movie Damage as a warm up to the limited series Netflix series Obsession. In Louis Malles movie the two main characters meet by happenstance and begin a torrid affair. She is a mysterious French woman who is dating his son. He is lost in a sense until he meets her and has a physical and kinetic connection to her mysterious aura. The damage created by their illicit affair is horrific as something fatal happens at the end of the movie. Now fast forward to 2023 when Netflix airs a modern version of the book Damage that Malles movie was based on. This time Richard Armitage plays the successful surgeon William who meets ( we later find out it was intentional) Anna his son’s girlfriend at a cocktail party. From a finger touch one minute to full blown wall sex the next minute William and Anna seem to f**k on cue for the next three and a half episodes. As a viewer I had had enough of the wall sex front and behind after the second episode. Anna was in complete control of the encounters instructing William when to show up and what to do. No where was she ever submissive to his emotions. Thats about the only aspect of this production that I liked.

So here’s my list of questions for the director, writer and Armitage and Murphy:

1 What was Williams motivation to begin screwing Anna?

2 Why start Episode 4 with the shocking effect when there was no real build up to that?

3 Why show full frontal if it wasn’t part of the sex scene with Anna?

4 Why did Ingrid( Indira Varma ) bang her head against the wall at the end?

5 How did William know where Anna’s diary was at the end?

6 How did Anna not notice a page was missing from her diary when she was writing her entries after showing it to William?

7 Where was the obsession element in the plot?

I’ve seen reviews on line. I’ve seen comments on other blogs about the series. Everyone has different opinions on this show. That’s fine. I read a review that praised the music used and I thought the music was totally inappropriate and inane. I’ve started watching The Armitage movies now more objectively for his style of acting and character interpretation. So I’m trying to figure out how he could not at least create some other facial expressions than one stare. Not once did he give William depth the way Jeremy Irons did. I certainly didn’t believe William cared for his family. In fact I thought William had cheated before the way the performance was so apathetic so cold toward Ingrid and his daughter Sally. The subject matter was infidelity. The sex was just a tool here. I got why Anna behaved the way she did. She wanted to be in control of everything. She was the liberator here. She never kissed William because he was a means to entertain herself. They were both narcissists but Anna never betrayed herself. William I don’t know because the performance was so one dimensional that I lost interest in his character after episode one.

Would I recommend this series? No. The production is banal. There is no originality in the plot. At least with Fatal Attraction the seductress met her karma. I am obsessed with finding a happy ending. 😁

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️🥰

The Getaway Final Day Giverny

I remember visiting Monet’s Giverny with my sister in 2007 through a bus tour as a magical montage of flowers and lily pads and bridges and tranquility. The house and gardens officially open on April 1 each year so Rachel and I booked the Sunday morning bus tour which left from the posh Pullman Hotel near the Eiffel Tower. We had decided to Uber over to the meeting point because it was early in the morning (7 am) and it seemed the most convenient option. We didn’t know that the Paris Marathon was starting at 8:15 and most of the main roads were closed off. But bless our Uber driver he maneuvered around and got us over to the Pullman hotel with twenty minutes to spare. Rachel and I had decided to tour Giverny on our own and just use the touring company as our mode of transportation.

The Sunday was overcast but no rain a bit chilly so we dressed warm. Giverny is Monet’s pride and joy a place of comfort and creativity and crafted in his vision of an artists dream. Even though it was the start of the season and the lily pads were not available yet the flower power did not disappoint. Monet also had a strong presence of Japanese art in his house which we toured leisurely and lackadaisically. One room in his house was filled with various artwork from fellow Impressionists a virtual who’s who gallery.

I loved the multitude of flowers and trees on display. The grounds of Monet employ twelve full time gardeners year round. I’m glad we came at the beginning of the season because the crowds were minimal. Too many people sets my anxiety barometer off. I took a lot of photos in Giverny in lieu of writing a play by play of what we saw. When we got back to Paris we walked around the shopping district a bit La Gallerie ( way too pricey for me) then decided to eat our last meal again in Belleville at a French bistro. I like restaurants with a lot of people because an empty restaurant for me means I could just eat at home.

Thank you for reading my getaway. I did learn three valuable lessons:

1. Pack medicine for bathroom issues which was an ongoing problem from London to Paris. Without getting too intimate my plumbing system was totally out of wack the entire trip causing me a lot of pain.

2 Get in some semblance of physical shape prior to another trip anywhere. I found I was huffing and puffing a lot needing to stop and rest far more frequently than I will admit which was a red flag for me to get off the couch and start exercising.

3 Keep expectations at a minimum. Over planning and over thinking about planning lead to expecting too much. We kept our plans opened and optional depending on the weather and how we felt each day. I liked that we used trains, planes and automobiles on this trip.

4 Travel with a well prepared companion. Rachel was thoroughly prepared for everything and we found Google Maps a godsend.

5 Getting away is both reconnecting and rejuvenating.

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️

The Getaway Paris Day Four

Rachel suggested a day trip to Provins on Saturday since we booked Giverny by bus on Sunday. Provins is a hidden gem of a commune in north central France aka Ile-de-France region. It became a world UNESCO site in 2001. It has medieval architecture tucked away in the French countryside easily reached by train in 1 hour 23 min from Paris Gare de East. The ten minute or so walk from the train station to the center of the city in Provins allowed us to soak in the countryside and quaintness of the surrounding houses and shops. The tourist information center lies about twenty minutes by foot from the city centre where we purchased tickets to the main attractions.

My first impression of Provins was a mixture of Irish countryside and southern German village where my grandparents had retired. The thatched roof houses interspersed with medieval churches and a fortress felt like walking back in time. Rachel and I walked around the fortress aka Saint Jean’s Gate and the Ramparts where I took some video just to soak in the surrounding French countryside. We then made our way to the La Tour Cesar bell tower which climbing mostly to the top was a bit arduous on the knees but well worth the 360 view at the destination. Finally we took a guided tour of Le Souterrains de Provins which was an underground quarry used to extract a substance to degrease wool cloth which was high in demand back then. The underground quarry then was used as storage rooms and meeting places for free masons to gather. Graffiti on the walls marked when the gatherings took place. When I walked around down there just like the Catacombs in Paris this eerie feeling came over me not quite claustrophobia but close enough.

Rachel and I then made our way back to the train station and the trip back to Paris seemed to speed by. The round trip costs 10 Euros a piece which seemed a bargain since there was no time constraint which train we could take coming and going. I highly recommend this excursion for three main reasons:

1 It’s an inexpensive day trip for anyone including families although Cesar tower is very steep not stroller friendly

2 Provins is utterly charming and frozen in time so the historical significance hasn’t been wiped out by modernization

3 It’s a World UNESCO site but still not touristy like some other sites I’ve visited. We went in the late morning off festival season with low crowds on a Saturday!

Once we got back to Paris we decided to eat out in Belleville because we were tired 🥱. Probably my least favorite meal of the trip and I picked the restaurant an Asian infusion one. I picked pudthai which is pretty safe but I thought it was bland. We had one day left of our trip to go.

Type of train we took
Very comfy ride
A slice of the French countryside
First stop
Lot of cloud talking
Another commune along the way
Very lush
Commuter train
Our stop!
Ducks to greet us
Sample of architecture
Side street scene
Tour Cesar
Entrance of museum
View from the ramparts
Quite windy day
Fascinating fortress

Steep stairs
Model of Tour Cesar
View from the top of Tour Cesar

Underground galleries
Graffiti on the walls everywhere

Stay safe stay well ❤️❤️❤️