Hampstead Heath, London

“Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less travelled by…”

Earlier in the week I spent the day at Hampstead Heath, one of London’s largest greenspaces. I smiled over this actual fork in the road as the memory of Robert Frost’s poem flooded back.

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Such a perfect metaphor for the chain of events that’s brought me to London at this particular point in time. 

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We all remember reciting and analyzing “The Road Not Taken” and hearing our English teachers’ cautionary tales of consequences from good vs. bad choices. I always thought the poem meant “mistakes will ruin your life”..maybe even land you behind bars.

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Walking through the Heath, I saw the poem from a different perspective. Actually, it hit me like a ton of bricks when I passed this fantastic property on its outskirts:

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Had my life gone smoothly–good marriage instead of bad, years not lost to drugs, and a house not lost to foreclosure–I might never have discovered the strength and resilence I see in myself today.  I doubt I’d be on this wonderful solo adventure.

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Until next time..
🙂 🙂 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Victoria & Albert Museum

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. I particularly enjoyed this sculpture:

rodiThe Prodigal Son, Auguste Rodin

Rodin used a variation of this figure in his marble Fugit Amor. Both works were created between 1885-87.

The V&A is well worth a visit: even the building is an architectural delight!
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Until next time..
🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale (Iceland)

For this week’s challenge I pulled the best shots from our trip to Reykjavik and the Ring Road. Nothing says scale better than Iceland’s sweeping vistas and urban contrasts.

Reykjavik from Perlan Viewing Deck

Reykjavik from Perlan Viewing Deck

Tjörnin Pond, Reykjavik City Centre

Tjörnin Pond, Reykjavik City Centre

Perlan Observation Deck, Reykjavik

Perlan Observation Deck, Reykjavik

A sign that could use a little English! ;)

A sign that could use a little English! 😉

Hydroponic Greenhouse, Hveragerði

Hydroponic Greenhouse, Hveragerði

Farmhouse, Skogar

Farmhouse, Skogar

Steps at Skogafoss  Waterfall

Steps at Skogafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss Runoff

Skogafoss Runoff

Rowan Tree with Berries, Reyjkavik Airbnb

Rowan Tree with Berries, Reyjkavik Airbnb

No real sun while we were there…and it was very cold and miserably wet! I can’t say we actually liked Iceland, but it was a memorable stop enroute to London!

Until next time…
🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself (Converge Part 2)

This week’s photo challenge is part 2 of my Moscow penpal saga.  If you’re new or missed part 1, read this first. The short version: I’ve been communicating with a Russian man for quite awhile now, and this week I received a package!

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Ayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! 🙂  Such crazy fun and what an interesting glimpse of a major cultural difference!  First the trinkets:

trinkets

…next, a perfectly themed Yuri Gagarin t-shirt!  Evgeny is an astrophysicist: one of our earliest conversations was about the Cold War Space Race.


Maggie arrived home while I was opening the final item and we nearly killed ourselves laughing. Gender roles are alive and kicking in Moscow…bigtime!

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I’ve been around a long time, and no man in his right mind has ever given me an apron!  Apparently this is high praise from a Russian male so I won’t smack him with a frying pan; couldn’t reach that high anyway!! 🙂

I’ve been enjoying this entire experience so much I began studying Russian two months ago.  Slow going, but I’m getting better at cadence and recognizing which cyrillc syllables are stressed when I see words in print.  However, to express yourself well, you REALLY need to understand complicated grammar rules…so I bought these:

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До следующего раза! (until next time!)

🙂 🙂 🙂

obamaputin

Related articles

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

This week’s challenge asks for photos of serenity, and nothing fits better than images of the Louvre from mid Septermber!

Louvre, September 2014

The sky was beautiful and blue, the temperature a balmy 73F, and the setting absolutely enchanting!

Louvre 2, September 2014

(Click to enlarge gallery photos)

We finished the day with a stroll aross the Seine.  Serenity to the max!

Seine, Paris, September 2014

Everything about our two days in Paris was tranquil and serene. 🙂 In contrast, the trip from Gard du Nord back to Brighton? Not so much! 😉

Gare du Nord, Paris, Eurostar

Opposite of serenity? Travelling back to Brighton!

I loved Paris…getting real excited to explore it again this spring!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Shipwreck “Houses of Refuge”

Vero Beach is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, an area well known for shipwrecks during the 18th-19th centuries.  As the region became more populous, Houses of Refuge sprang up to assist survivors. The first safe haven was founded at Bethel Creek (now Jaycee Beach) in 1876 and looked like this in 1914:

All Houses of Refuge were built alike and included a main house, cistern, and boathouse. They were placed within 15‐20 miles of each other, assuring those who washed ashore might find help within a day’s walk.

In 2012, I unknowingly photographed the remains of Bethel Creek’s safe haven for use in Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry.   Last week I noticed a newly placed historical marker by the foundation blocks:

Bethel Creek House of Refuge remains, Vero Beach

John Houston was the first keeper of Bethel Creek but 18 more quickly followed before the refuge burned in 1917. Historical documents cite boredom and poor health as reasons for the rapid turnover but perhaps less than $400.00 per year compensation had an impact, too!  Interesting to note: during this era, the most memorable shipwrecks were the USS Panama (1887) whose hold full of textiles benefitted the rescuers, and the Breconshire (1894) whose boiler off Humiston Park is now a popular diving spot.

I’ve always been fascinated by history and was thrilled to stumble across this historical marker. In closing, here’s a closeup of the marker and a different angle on the remains.

Until next time…
🙂 🙂 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: January in Florida

“To see a world in a grain of sand…

Sandcastle, Jaycee Beach, 1/6/15

And a heaven in a wild flower…

Hibiscus, Vero Beach

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand…

TC, Jack, Me, Rita, Dave Disney Vero Beach Resort, 1/05/15

And eternity in an hour…

William Blake (1757–1827), British poet, painter, engraver. Auguries of Innocence, l. 1-4, Poems from the Pickering Manuscript (c. 1803), repr. In Complete Writings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (1957)

Happy New Year!!!

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Blog Friends!

I feel so fortunate to have my entire family here for the holidays (first time in 4 years!)  TC arrived a week ago from Los Angeles and Jack, two days ago from Boston! They’re both here for another two weeks and we’ve been laughing non-stop! Such a reminder of what life was like when they were kids!  mulhernchristmaseve

 

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From our family to yours, Merry, Merry Christmas!!  I hope you all have a fantastic day!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

This week’s challenge asks us to share images where lines and shapes converge in literal or abstract ways.  Because my pictures are part of a larger story with the same theme, I’ve written a photo essay tying the two together.

The Backstory:

Shortly before leaving Massachusetts I had cataracts removed so during the winter of 2010 I was primed to read a really meaty novel.  I came across an online review of a 2008 English translation of “Dead Souls”, written by Nikolai Gogol in 1842, widely considered the first of the great Russian novels and one of the indisputable masterpieces of world literature.

After reading a few chapters online, I decided the book was a keeper, ordered a copy and read nonstop for 3 weeks.  Such a fantastic novel I HAD to discuss it with someone! I found an online book discussion forum where I left the following post: “Anyone want to talk about Gogol’s Dead Souls? Email me!”

The Story

Three weeks passed before someone reached into my backyard from a street in Moscow:

After a spirited discussion of the book, we communicated randomly for a year about James Baxter’s science fiction. Somewhere in year 2 we began sharing occasional news stories about Obama and Putin and having intellectual debates about socialism vs capitalism and the “New Russia.”  Year 3:  “Have you studied Latin?”( “of course!”) which opened up new conversations about Ovid, The Metamorphoses, and Latin as the building block of our native tongues.  Great intellectual stuff and I began thinking “man, this guy has one helluva mind,” and on it went to year 4.

When I returned from England in September,  I saw he had messaged me (something new!!) so I turned on my smartphone notifications should it occur again.  A week later it pinged as I was heading to bed. I said I was just back from a trip and we had our first personal conversation about impressions of Europe, what we liked and didn’t like about it, etc.  5 hours later I finally said goodnight and went to bed as the sun was coming up!

The following weekend we began flipping photos back and forth…not of ourselves but of what we were doing at particular times to see how life differed. (Note: Hovering your mouse over all photos reveals captions)

The practice of showing each other where we were at given moments in time seemed a surprisingly close approximation of running into someone for a few seconds at the store or on a subway platform.  “What’s up?”  “Where you headed?” “How ’bout that weather?” “Talk later!”   A few days into this, the first actual phone call came from Moscow…and a few days later a Skype call.  For kids brought up on opposite sides of the Cold War, seeing inside each other’s homes via webcam has been a strange and exhilarating convergence!

One day he “brought me along on his commute” via a series of photos that work particularly well for this challenge. Before I close, one final gallery:

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Sunset, Vero Beach

We’ve had unsettled, grey, rainy weather this week, but it cleared right around sunset:

Vero Beach Sunset, 11/26/14

Vero Beach Sunset, 11/26/14

Such an extraordinary sight, expecially on the eve of Thanksgiving!

I feel such gratitude toward everyone who’s visited/followed my blog these past three years, Thank you for your comments and likes; I’ve learned so much from so many of you and I’m thrilled you’re along for the journey!

Love, peace and happiness as you celebrate tomorrow!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂