Riding a Jeep through Normandy

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did,
I swear I lived . . . I swear I lived.

How can we focus on living every second? One way is to pay tribute to those whose lives were cut short, who didn’t live to grow older, who died young along with others in their band of brothers.

A highlight of my travels is a tour of the Normandy D-Day area in a 1942 Jeep.

On this pastoral land, battles were fought for bridges, roads, tiny towns. The quiet country lanes belie the chaos and violence that took place here.

We sped down dirt lanes and clipped along thick hedgerows, clinging to the same vehicle ridden by soldiers during the intense fighting.

Many of the wartime buildings stand, though decay has overtaken some of them.

The words of a poem by Laurence Binyon come to mind:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

At the tour’s end, I climbed out of the Jeep with a heart of gratitude to the brave young people who died here — those who would not grow old. What a poignant reminder to own every second this world gives.

How about you? What’s reminded you to count your days with thankfulness?

Check out D-Day Battle Tours for more information about the tour. Here’s my husband Curt with our excellent guide Monica.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with 2 layers of Kim Klassen’s texture History. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “I Lived” by One Republic.

 

A Gift to Humanity — Les Invalides

In the heart of Paris, you will find Les Invalides. The cannon stand guard in front of the complex of buildings, hinting at the military history of this place.

But it’s easy for tourists to be confused about what Les Invalides is, exactly. That’s because it is many things at once. What started as a hospital for war wounded invalids, built in the late 1600s, is today a military museum. The landmark gold dome tops a church.

And underneath the dome is the most famous tomb in Paris — the final resting place of Napoleon I.

Les Invalides is more fascinating if you know a bit of its history. It is on the short list of Paris treasures that Hitler visited during his only trip to Paris, in 1940.

The church’s artistic domed ceiling may have merited an upward glance from the dictator. What he didn’t know was that the French Resistance met in the secret space between the ceiling bottom and the outside walls of curved gold.

Les Invalides, despite its beauty, was set with explosives later in WWII. The world came close to losing it. When the wartime mayor of Paris met with the German major general Choltitz one day, they stood on a balcony and looked out over the city. The mayor pleaded with Choltitz to spare Paris.

“Often it is given a general to destroy, rarely to preserve. Imagine that one day it may be given you to stand on this balcony again, as a tourist, to look once more on these monuments to our joys, to our sufferings, and be able to say, ‘One day I could have destroyed this, and I preserved it as a gift to humanity.’”

For more of the story of the occupation of Paris, I highly recommend the book Is Paris Burning? by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins.

Today, Les Invalides with its glittering dome survives. Choltitz never gave the orders to blow it up.

Cars and pedestrians pass Les Invalides every day. I wonder how many of them know about the layers of history and what happened here. And what almost happened here. And how thankful we can be that this gift to humanity sits safe and sound.

 

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo showing the dome is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Evolve2.

Seeing Clearly at Torrey Pines

I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day.

Blue skies, no obstacles . . . but wait. What about obstacles we can’t see under those skies of blue?

Hiking above the ocean on the cliffs of Torrey Pines on a bright December day, we enjoyed magnificent views.
This area is home to the rare Torrey Pine, a lovely and scraggly tree that prospers in the layers of sandstone.

Here’s the unseen problem at Torrey Pines beach. The top layer of earth is so fragile that it’s in danger of toppling.

This week, the beach below the cliffs is closed. Geologists expect a landslide any minute. I saw people sauntering on the sand a few weeks ago, but you won’t see that if you go there today.

You may not want to venture up and down the stairs on the cliffs, either.

All looks well above ground, but below the surface the unsettled sand causes problems. Isn’t that just like people? We may see smiles and hear “I’m fine” if we ask how someone is doing. But beneath the surface, inside, who knows what another person is battling? An ancient Greek named Philo gave us the famous quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

I just came from signing papers at a dealer, and the man who passed me document after document for my John Hancock really was downright mean. I had never met him before, and he had no reason to treat me, a stranger, as he did. When he repeatedly told me what would happen on February 29, I wanted to pounce and correct him on this nonexistent date out of spite. But I didn’t. As I left I thought about this man and obstacles and the cliffs of Torrey Pines. Who knows what this guy is dealing with? Better to smile and stay cheerful, and maybe brighten his day a little bit.

Meanwhile the cliffs hold on, the Torrey Pines bend and stand firm above the crashing waves . . .

. . . and another day of blue skies comes to a peaceful end.
How about you? Do you struggle like I do to remember to be kind to the grumpy?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Isobel. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff.

 

 

 

Walking a Narrow Path

Did you know that not all the streets of Venice are waterways? A few streets are built on the land. These are dedicated solely to people–no cars allowed.

Many of these paths will surprise you with their narrowness.

Residents figured out long ago how to cope with a city where land is at a premium and streets are rare and confined. Street signs, for example, don’t take up any space on the streets; they hang high on walls. Visitors get confused about which street below a sign may be referring to, but it’s fun to get lost in Venice, so that’s no problem.

The folks in Venice have figured out how to live and thrive in this unique place on the tiny bit of land available. They set up shops.

They grow their gardens out the window rather than in the ground.

Their pets watch the world from high above.

The city couldn’t sprawl as it grew because it’s surrounded by water. So it went up instead.

You won’t find backyards or clotheslines, but that’s no problem.

We all have times when the paths of our lives narrow. The going gets harder. For me, this has come in the form of illness, surgeries, money issues. In those times, we can think about the Venetians. They get creative, they build up if need be, they keep on with their laundry and their lives.

How about you? What kind of path are you traveling this week?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture History

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Santa Barbara and an Unsolved Mystery

They say you can’t go home again, but I found this isn’t always true. Recently we spent a few days in Santa Barbara, where I went to college. This town, with it’s palm-lined streets and backdrop of gentle foothills, hasn’t changed much at all in the many years since I lived here. The same wharf reaches into the water, and boats continue to crisscross the blue.

The trip down memory lane continued when we drove a few miles into the hills to my college, Westmont. The school was the vision of Ruth Kerr, of Kerr jars. In the 1930s, she opened her home to students and professors. Today, the elegant building is still the heart of the campus.

The surrounding gardens have grown even more beautiful than I remember.

For me, Westmont is the jewel in the crown of beautiful Santa Barbara. I dreamed of attending here, but it’s a private school with a price tag to match. My senior year of high school, I applied but didn’t hope to make it. Then one day a letter came telling me I had a scholarship waiting for me. And here’s the mystery: The money came from an anonymous donor. I’ve never been able to say thank you to that generous person.

My years at Westmont shaped me, taught me to think analytically, and were packed with so much fun. I’m still in contact with friends I made here.

Ambling down those same paths years later, I still feel deep gratitude to the mysterious donor who made it possible for me to call Santa Barbara my home for a few golden years. I do feel like I’ve come home again.

How about you? Do you have a place you return to that feels like home?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The photo of the lily pond is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_BB2.

Grow Your Blog [and a Give-Away]

Give-away update on February 15! The winner of the awesome travel bags is Tamar from Random-osity. Congratulatons, Tamar! Thanks for all the comment love, everyone. It’s great to “meet” new friends!

Hello, there!

The weekend of the Grow Your Blog party is here! Such fun. You can click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining the party. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends from all over. One of the great joys of blogging is meeting kind, inspiring people — like you!

If you’re new here, please look around. I hope you find some encouragement, slices of life in my corner of the world, and an image or thought that brings a smile to you today.

 Favorite Posts

Here are a few favorite posts, for your reading enjoyment . . .

Sending a Little Bit of Love to Paris
The Magnificent Eiffel Tower
What Makes a Cable Car Go?
Wedding Weather
It’s Not Easy Being Green
How to Be a Champion
When Life Is Confusing
Safety-Pinned People
The Old Lighthouse
Of Barns and Beauty

About Me

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. My hope is that something in these posts encourages you, especially if you’re struggling. And I hope the photos and little ramblings prompt you to notice the wonder that’s right in front of you. This is a challenge for me. I get so focused on the goal that I forget to enjoy the journey. When I carry my camera, I’m a lot more aware of beauty, oddities, charm, color. So exploring with camera in hand adds dimension and joy to my life, and I love sharing my discoveries with you!

I’m a word person. Reading, writing, and editing give me such pleasure. I’m thankful I get to work full-time as a consumer health information writer and editor. Another passion of mine is music. I’m teaching piano to a wonderful bunch of musicians — some in grade school and some retired. I love them all.

My Family

I live in sunny San Diego, California with my husband Curt. We have a daughter, Megan, who married her love Chris last year! They live in Kansas. We treasure visits with them.

We have a son, Matt, who married his love Bethany. Now we have four of the grandest grands ever. They live in Michigan. Last year Chris and Meg joined us when we visited from Michigan. We loved being all together!

Feel free to look around here, relax, soak up a bit of encouragement. I’m glad you’re here!

Give-Away!

As a thank you for stopping by, please enter to win this fun 3-piece cosmetic bag set from Adrienne Vittadini. I’m always looking for attractive and practical bags for everything from make-up to toiletries to jewelry. I’m finding it’s easier to organize with smaller bags instead of cramming too much in one. And matching bags, too? Love them! Just leave a comment to be entered. Winner will be announced February 15.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

2 Bags Full

Imagine — Thoughts at the Roman Forum

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
John Lennon

One place you can see the ruins of generations of civilization is the Forum in Rome. As governments toppled, so did the elaborate buildings.

Power struggles, debates, murders, the rise and fall of empires — so much happened here. Layers were built on layers when one group overtook another.

The fallen pillars, the pieces of doorposts, the crumbling brick walls all lie where they crashed to earth. It’s as if no one ever picked up anything.

From above, it looks like a child’s set of building blocks, with more demolished than left standing.

The Forum gives you a long view of history. You can’t help but think about how fleeting each era really was. And how much each had to give. Just look around at the intricate designs, chiseled by long-forgotten artists.

The chaos of all the little pieces of Roman achievements lying askew causes you to think about war and peace. What really matters? What will last? What will remain standing when time erodes great accomplishments?

Maybe what really matters is that we live with peace and love today. Time can’t touch peace. The Forum is a great place to think over these things.

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Little Things. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Friday Finds — An Oasis

Tucked into the brown desert hills of Palm Springs is this delightful surprise: an oasis of greenery. The line of palms winds along the rock walls.You know right away the trees sprung up and grew here for one reason: water.

The creek is meager, but it’s enough. The palms have flourished here for decades.

We spent an enjoyable morning hiking up and down the creek, in the shade of these tall desert trees.

We’ve visited Palm Springs many times, and still we were completely surprised and delighted to find this oasis.

How about you? When have you happened on a place that took you by surprise?

Linking up with Friday Finds.

Kim Klassen dot com

Sending a Little Bit of Love to Paris

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me,
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you.

The sad news out of Paris last week captured our hearts. We visited this magnificent city a few months ago and fell in love with its history and elegance and vitality. The city gave us days of wonder, and I fell more than a little bit in love with Paris. No surprise, right? We had walked and walked, taking in the ambiance, the views of the Eiffel Tower, the bridges decorated with gold. In particular, I noticed the beauty of some of the doorways  as we wandered the streets of the City of Light.

When you see a door that’s worn with life, don’t you want to know what’s inside? Don’t you want to open it and hear the stories of the people who’ve gone in and out?

At the same time as the news of the killings at Charlie Hebdo last week, I was casting around for a word to focus on in 2015. As I admired the spirit of resilience shown in Paris and around the world in the face of tragedy, I was also pondering the way I want to approach life this year. Paris and doors and courage swirled in my mind.

And so, a word for 2015 emerged clearly.

OPEN. This is the way I want to go through 2015. Beginnings and endings and adventures are bound to fill the year. Forging ahead with a mindset of OPEN will give me courage to tackle some new challenges. I’ll be more likely to make the effort to learn, explore, expand my interests. Be up for new experiences.

The coming year will bring some interesting doors, and I can choose to open them and walk through. If one of these doors happens to be the opportunity to plan another trip to Paris, I’ll be flinging that one wide open!

Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking of Paris, cheering on the unity and courage of the people there — sending my little bit of love.

How about you? Have you chosen a word to focus on this year?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Simplicity. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “Give a Little Bit of Your Love to Me” by Roger Hodgson.

 

Hope in the New Year

This is the New Year,
Another chance to turn it all around . . .

Want to hear a story of hope as this New Year dawns? Let me tell you about Living Free, an animal sanctuary in the mountains of southern California.

Dogs and cats here are free to live out their days with food and care in the buildings on these 150 acres. Workers comb the shelters all around and choose those whose time is almost up. These furry ones are truly saved just in time. If they are adopted, more good news — they go to their new homes and then space opens up for other rescues

In the vast cattery, sweet cats climb, play, and sun themselves.

They eat well, too.

The dogs enjoy large outside runs where the volunteers play ball with them. They are all walked every day. At night they are brought inside in kennels that circle a stove. Here’s the adoption board — and this has been filled with photos of adopted animals many times. Yay!

The volunteers glow when they tell you about the animals in their care. They cheer for each adoption. Many of the dogs were adopted over the holidays. A new bunch arrived. If you’re in the area, be sure to visit. If not, think about checking out your local shelter, about maybe volunteering.

This is the New Year,
And I would give the world to you . . .

How about you? Where are you seeing a place of hope in your world?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The photo of Living Free is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_2303. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “The New Year” by Great Big World.

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