November 30, 2013

Boston. May, 1996

I used to work here at WGBH, Boston’s public broadcasting station. And this is one of the anniversary photos of long-term employees back in the “golden days.” I put in 23 years by the time I left in 2001. And I look now at this photo. Few people here are still there. Some have voluntarily moved on. Some were fired. Some were ushered out via dishonest maneuvers. Some died. Just like any company, I guess, no matter how “community friendly” it pretends to be. In fact, the closer I look at the faces, I don’t think any of us are still there. Can you find me? Hint: plaid.

November 29, 2013

Boston. May, 2012

On a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts with my visiting Cousin Bobby, we came across Please by Jeppe Hein. Words to live by.

November 28, 2013

West Newton, MA. June, 2012

On Thanksgiving especially, lots of people find themselves in church. I often find myself in lots of church basements. And here’s one of my favorites. Unitarian, natch, with a Hebrew school occupying several of its rooms. I love it when I find artwork and philosophy by the kids who attend. Who couldn’t benefit from a Mensch Guide? And those Kitah Bet Rules...words to live by. “Only raise your hand when you have something to say.” I wish this had been a requirement at every corporate job I’ve ever had.

November 27, 2013

November 26, 2013

Giudecca, Venice, Italy. October, 2012

I love staying on the island of Giudecca whenever I visit Venice, two minutes away by vaporetto. So quiet, so reasonably priced, so free of tourists. On a lazy, misty Sunday morning stroll, this is about as crowded as it gets.

November 25, 2013

Venice, Italy. October, 2012

It may have been an early, foggy morning. And there may not yet have been any cafe-goers at the tables here outside on the Piazza San Marco. But the musicians were in place, filling the square with Mozart as we strolled by. Jay paused and stayed, getting weepy at the music, as I continued picture-taking around the piazza. A magical way to start the day in this most magical of cities. And, when one band takes a break, another starts up across the way. Three in all, dueling in styles and repertoire, each hoping to fill those tables as the day goes by.

November 24, 2013

Madrid. October, 2009

Dr. Blake and I return to the US of A today. And while we only change planes in Madrid, we are so tempted to race into the city proper and pay yet one more visit to El Brillante, home to the best fried calamari sandwiches in the city. Or so their signs claim. And their customers. The two of us included. Perhaps we should warn them in advance that we may be on our way and looking for some transatlantic takeout.

November 23, 2013

Jaimanitas, Habana, Cuba. February, 2012

The Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, are owned by Spain and are said to feel like they’re part of the Caribbean. Here, my friend Patti (the toast of Havana in her alter ego, Qué Lástima) pays homage to both Spain (Gaudí) and the Caribbean (those colors!) And I’ll let you know if Tenerife lives up to its reputation. Rumpole liked it.

November 22, 2013

Jaimanitas, Habana, Cuba. February, 2012

Neither Dr. B nor I has been to the Canary Islands before, and we’re both looking forward to a new adventure (in spite of Jay’s concern about the “false widow” spider who calls these islands home.) All I really know about them is what Almodóvar showed of Lanzarote in Broken Embraces. And that they are reputed to be “Caribbean in nature.” This photo from Cuba could be a mash-up of those two references, no?

November 21, 2013

Pinar del Río, Cuba. February, 2012

My only Caribbean trip was a winter excursion to Cuba, a magnificent and eye-opening adventure. Seen here, a smoochy musician whose group appeared out of the rainforest to entertain us (and all of the other tourist groups who arrived at this government-sanctioned site.) The Canary Islands, I’ve heard said, are Caribbean in nature. Especially the markets. We’ll see. 

November 20, 2013

Tangier. November, 2010

I’m fine in countries where people speak a Romance language. And in Turkey, knowing even a little bit of the language shows respect and opens up worlds of welcomes. Fortunately here in Morocco, French is the second language. Good thing, because my Arabic is non-existent. The best I can muster is “insha’Allah,” to mean “G_d willing.” And while I'm OK with Arabic numerals, the alphabet, alas, is another story.

November 19, 2013

Off Mykonos. October, 2011

Oh, look at how proud of himself Dr. Blake seems to be here at the wheel. The Wind Surf, the ship we’ve always sailed on, is small enough (300 passengers) that the captain allows some casual shenanigans. Like this. And when the ship is at sea, passengers are allowed into the bridge control room to see how the instruments work to get us from one port to the next. From, say, Casablanca to Agadir.

November 18, 2013

Tangier. November, 2010

I had a very suburban New Jersey childhood. In a house like many seen on TV shows at the time. So when I think about children growing up in, say, Manhattan or on a military base or, as here, within the medina of old Tangier, I wonder what it must have been like. Where’s the swingset, the playground? Where’s the park? The lake where we went rowing? The brook, the woods? (Today is Moroccan Independence Day.)

November 17, 2013

Off Bodrum, Turkey. October, 2011

Ah, another day at sea. We tend to travel in autumn. Schools are back in session so there are not a lot of families or  college kids. And the summer heat has generally lifted. The weather? Mostly good, sometimes iffy. When we sailed out of Istanbul on this 2011 trip, the skies and the seas were stormy. But all that lifted and the sun shone brightly when we approached Bodrum, the ancient city of Halicarnasus.

November 16, 2013

Lisbon. October, 2009

One of the revered café/pastry shops of Lisbon. I wondered which was the best, and so I tried them all. The winner? Still not sure. May have to repeat the exercise when I return to the beautiful city this November. I do remember that, true to its name, Suiça featured lots of chocolate items. (David Leavitt’s new novel, The Two Hotel Franckforts, opens at the Café Suiça and takes off from there. A twisty, engaging plot that hits all of my favorite spots in this favorite city.)

November 15, 2013

En route to Lisbon. November, 2010

A day entirely at sea relieves you of all your touring responsibilities. No must-see museums or sights. Instead, reading, napping, maybe using the ship’s (tiny) fitness center. Did I mention napping?

November 14, 2013

Málaga, Spain. November, 2010

I can still taste this pear, purchased at the central market in Málaga. We asked the vendor for fruit that could be eaten that same day, and he sold us two wonderful pieces. I remember sitting in a park not far from Picasso’s birthplace and eating this pear, so juicy that it dripped all over my hands and attracted every single bee within a ten-mile radius. I’m not complaining. 

November 13, 2013

Málaga, Spain. November, 2010

Once a thriving port and trading center, now a thriving tourist destination. Picasso was born here...and fled as soon as he was able. That has not stopped the city from establishing a Picasso museum, filled with paintings and sculpture mostly from his family. When we visited the museum three years ago, they made me check my pocket-sized camera AND offered me an unsolicited senior discount on admission. The nerve! No wonder Pablo P skipped town pronto. 

November 12, 2013

Almería, Spain. November, 2010

I’m told that signs like these appear in butcher shops throughout Spain the day after a bullfight. In case you see one, you can take advantage of the offer to come enjoy the bull’s tail meat for only three euros. (All best wishes to my pal Eileen who marries her pal David today. I know there will not be bull tail meat served at the wedding. Eileen doesn’t like meat. “It’s a texture thing,” she explains.)

November 11, 2013

Cartagena, Spain. November, 2010

Nope, it’s not the Sydney Opera House. Just a stack of cafe chairs we passed on our stroll through this Southern Spanish town. What a wonderfully odd mix of cultural opposites we found here. Bright, modern glass buildings right next to a toy store surprisingly named “The Virgin of Sorrows.”

November 10, 2013

Valencia, Spain. November, 2010

Of course we’d find paella here in the Spanish town that’s famous for it. On offer, three kinds (of many) to choose from. These were being sold in Valencia’s central market, a lovely collection of stalls and vendors housed in a beautiful, stained-glass structure. And not far away, a reputedly good flea market every Sunday.

November 9, 2013

Palma, Mallorca. November, 2010

We found ourselves with an extra day in Barcelona, so we took a day trip to Mallorca (20 minutes by plane) and found the hotel where Jay and his family lived when he was a little boy. Of course, the hotel has been renovated since that time (and so has Jay), but the location is the same.

November 8, 2013

Barcelona. November, 2010

I love the street life in Europe. In Barcelona, it’s especially wonderful. Especially for a tourist trying not to stay cooped up in a small hotel room. As the sun sets, the streets come alive. Kids kick soccer balls in alleyways or parks. People wander from one tapas bar to another. Or play guitars in plazas. Or window-shop. Or do nothing at all beside stroll. Nice.

November 7, 2013

Madrid. October, 2009

We were told that the Taberna Almendro 13 was a hopping place at night. That’s why we went there for lunch instead. Quiet, welcoming, a nice spot to have their signature dish of ham (naturally), thinly sliced fried potatoes and a barely cooked egg. Simple and fine.

November 6, 2013

Madrid. October, 2009

Where else but in Spain would a police car sport the name of a fabled national artist?

November 5, 2013

Madrid. October, 2009

Watch out, honey. There’s an angel checking you out. Among the many splendors of the Prado is its “free admission” policy each evening and all day Sunday. Makes it easy to stroll in, spend some time with two or three favorite paintings, stroll out again, perhaps to the nearby El Brillante for the best fried calamari sandwiches in town.

November 4, 2013

Istanbul. October, 2011

Mmmmmm. Kaymak. That wonderful “clotted cream” that Turks dollop on anything. Mostly desserts. So thick is this cream that it is often cut into rectangular sections and rolled up jelly-roll style, as seen here. A good Turkish word to know is “evet” or “yes,” so that when you are asked if you’d like kaymak on your dessert, you can always answer correctly. (The Turkish-Armenian bakery near my Massachusetts home now sells house-made kaymak and it could soon be my downfall.)

November 3, 2013

New York, NY. Winter, 1986

The Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Back when it really was a meatpacking district. Before Diane von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney and that whole crew opened stores here. Before chic restaurants with hard-to-snag reservations popped up. Back when this best little chicken house in NY and places like it could still afford the rents. And when unfashionable individuals could still walk these streets in red down jackets, brown corduroy pants and blue running shoes without getting dished.

November 2, 2013

Scotch Plains, NJ. Spring, 1973

Yipes! Stripes! I love the lines in this photo of the Union Catholic Boys High School soccer team. When I taught there so many years ago, one of my students sold me his old Mamiya Secor SLR camera...and my interest in photography flourished. Not sure if I took this photo or not. But oddly, I can still remember the names of each of the students in the photo. Except the guy in the visor. But then again, he’s not wearing stripes. Nice kids. Where are they now?

November 1, 2013

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson. March, 2011

When my Mexican friend Marco was in a bar in Stockholm recently, he met a young man from Turkey. Marco asked his name and the Turk said, “Ramadan.” So Marco told him his own name was “Semana Santa.” When he told us the story, and that he had renamed himself “Holy Week,” Marco decided to make up liturgical names for Nick (Noche Buena / Christmas Eve) and me (Sábado de Gloria / Holy Saturday.) Today is All Saints Day. Who wants to be Todos Santos?