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To begin with, as an America, once you’ve been to Europe it’s easy to want to go back. There’s a breeze blowing in the minds of Europeans that escapes most Americans.

Almost all visits to Europe will start off, go through or lead to Paris. There’s the Louvre, the ever present Eiffel Tower, the Seine, the food, the wine, women’s underwear-art nouveau, Notre Dame and more.

The light of Paris is The Tower, the fancy pants the Louvre and Notre Dame the ‘rock’.

Notre Dame: a world of History to browse.

 

We entered Notre Dame just when a singing mass began…that gal’s voice was shipped from heaven.*

My thoughts drifted back to this historical shrine many times during our visit to Paris while my eyes fell upon the Eiffel Tower as often. This massive structure is taller than you think.

Here’s a shot of construction.

 

(May, 1888.)

The Tower looms over the city’s skyline and by night it beams lights for five minutes upon the hour to demonstrate Parisian’s will to survive any test.

Thanks to my wife for catching this unforgettable moment.

Napoleon’s Tomb was a shocker; a golden dome repeats the sun outside and inside floors of intricately cut marble boggle the mind. Napoleon’s tomb is no less astonishing to see and informative as well.**

These columns, everything, is different colored marble or gold gilt.

 

The marble floors are seamlessly joined as if they were interwoven threads of a Peruvian rug.  

And the inside ceiling dome is no less enthralling.

Paris is art to the heart. A never-ending display of what might be done if only mankind would.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a doll house? Streets are lined with bigly baskets of floral arrangements as though a wedding was taking place on each one.

If your hustle causes you to miss a statue you’re sure to catch the ones on the next corner. And about those fountains…there are one million of them, all enhanced, again by more statues.

The Eiffel Tower looms over your wanderings as they take you to the Louvre.  (Hot tip: First-go to Paris in September; second-go to the Louvre when it’s closed so your completely bummed like us…then, be nearby on the next night when it’s open and go! No one is there to speak of, and you can walk right up to the Lady.) The Mona Lisa is more than you will expect. I promise.

 The entrance to the Louvre is a grand, striking glass pyramid that provides the correct ambiance and protection its holdings deserve.

We meandered around and past ancient Roman and Greek statues, even those that predate the periods,  ones we could walk up to as though a conversation might ensue. Soon, we came to a wide stairway blessed by The  Winged Victory of Samothrace masterpiece.

The absence of people contrasted the magnitude of people who flock to this same spot everyday of the summer. I don’t know how a marble statue can appear to have flight, but this one does. I longed to see the missing head and arms–sigh.

Steps by works I can’t describe with any astute justice frame the route to the room where the Mona Lisa waits. Truly, I’d expected the work to be small, and that only an inquisitive adherence of my attention would bang against this canvass. Oh, how wrong…

We entered a room almost void of tourists and took our place centered before the Mona Lisa only three rows deep. I’d cleared to the front of the line within minutes and stood but fifteen feet from the herald painting. I stared at this painting and within one minute it felt as though I was communicating with the portrait. The brow was different from so many others I’d seen in paintings just prior in our walk-a-bout, a bit shaded upon the upper right from my view, a touch that gave a cerebral hue to the work. The background to each side held a stream to the left and a montage of floating sky and movement to the right. The smile, as so well drummed, had an inescapable ambivalence that lay open to so many interpretations.

It seemed I could talk with the Mona Lisa.

It caught me that my lips were moving with my silent thoughts and in a glance I saw the guard, a women in her younger years who sat by the painting, was watching me with some concern, or was it interest. I retreated back though those who waited to be first in the line but then stopped. I eagerly returned to the crowd and ventured off to the left side of the painting, the guard aware of my every foot step. I once again stood in front of the line but far off to the left of the painting. Mona Lisa’s eyes were staring at me  with the exact intensity I’d experienced while standing in front of the portrait!

Mona Lisa’s eyes remained on me from all viewing angles and this sighting etched my head forever.

I ventured into a street shop selling wine: “I’ve no idea about wine, but I want a red that isn’t’ too expensive, and I’m only here for three nights.” The shop owner showed me a 5 dollar bottle of wine that turned out to be excellent, even by my world-traveled sister’s standards. So get a hunk of cheese, crackers, wine and grapes for breakfast while there-it’s great fun.

We stayed in an Airbnb centrally located within the city. The back featured a two level outside porch surrounded by plantings and fresh air, the perfect place for us to enjoy along with my sister, my wife’s cousin, Anne Claude, her husband Noah, and my brother-in-law and his wife.

Ahhh, Parie…..La Ville des lumieres…

Go to Paris; chomp on a baguette. See the Mona Lisa and, if you’re like me, Life may never exactly seem the same after you do. How odd, the force of art and love!

Franque23

*Thanks to my wife for most of the pictures.

** I’d no idea how important Napoleon had been to the development of almost every aspect of  the Paris we now know. The street lay outs, the government, the law, and so much more is attributed to the work of this man done over a span of a few short years. So, the magnificent tomb makes perfect sense.

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(Of course, click on the pic for a larger view.)

I’d be cutting zzz’s right now instead of writing this glob if hair-head Shadow paws hadn’t decided my two-hour nap as planned was too long. But no, one hour pushed hocker I’ve-been-eating-grass face over the edge and illegally onto my bed. This found me clutching three pillows to my face as four paws  clomped all over my body. This criminal activity happens every morning and once my eyes open I see this:

Ol’ tail-cut-like-a-knife butt-head doing the two socks are stuffed in my face shuffle.

Morning, afternoon, evening, heck anytime at all finds Shadow with one sock in his face( only my socks are allowed-he knows.) He holds it there to protect us from his happy snapping jaws. But two socks in those jaws means we’re about to have extra fun throwing the ball or, as in the case of the picture above, that he’s been secretly foraging for treats in the laundry room….

This is Shadow under his mother—he’s that little black smidgen of a puppy on the right. Surprise! He’s eating!!(Shadow as pup, some weeks after this shot, was found inside the dog food bag.)

Shadow’s an all around I’m-here-for-you-pet-me great dog; he knows all the rules by heart and only breaks them as necessary: “there’s a squirrel on the feeder so I gotta bark and stretch way up high on the window,” is one of Shadow’s favorite moments of freedom from the rules.

Shadow is watching his “TV”…and for a ‘hint’ of a squirrel.

Of course, there’s more. That neighbor in our doorway has no idea how many times we’ve said, “No jumping…” because Shadow is not technically jumping with his paws on the new victim, but only springing up three feet high in every direction as if he were on a Pogo stick.

“I wasn’t really jumping.”

“Consider that I can fly before passing judgement.”

“Really.”

It’s amazing that Shadow never begs, not technically. He has unearthly powers of knowing when we have finished eating and it’s time to come over to us; that’s nice. No, Shadow does remain away from us while we eat but for one glitch in his near perfect manners. We about need to mop the floor after we eat anything Shadow loves-“I’ll stay in place with my jaws droolin’ like a turned on faucet as you eat; no problem.”

“Promise.”

Dogs live in a contagious zone of happiness unless they are abused, sick or hurt. To be clear, dog abusers-whether they can play football of not- should be hung-up to dry for several weeks while random passer’s by get to whop the criminals with sticks. The only question is how long?

  “About twelve years.”

When you get down to it, dogs know right from wrong better than most people.

Toby toes knew not to open a present until he got the green light.

Sometimes dogs just can’t help themselves when it comes to smelly garbage cans, open refrigerators, a left cookie, a neat stuffed pillow to rip apart or other tantalizing components to life. Dogs will even try to steer their companion dog away from trouble, but often to no avail.

 

 

Right from the get-go they know right from wrong.

“Well, that might have been a bad idea…..”

“Okay, it was a bad idea….”

But who can say…

 

If shadow does make a mistake, chasing a squirrel that looks like our mailman’s truck,  he might try to ‘offset’ his slippin’ paws with humor…

and see if he can’t dig himself out…

Relentless Digging….puppy’s new American Native name.

In the end, it’s all about a dog’s tail.

You’re about to feed me, right?

The tail wagging give-away speaks volumes to those who care to listen. Seize  the day! It’s time to play! Thank goodness you’re up; it’s time to pee! How can you sit there on a day like this? These are the question that face dog owners everyday, question too hard to brush aside. If you try to ignore a dog’s truth then the ears get involved, the cocked head turns as an exclamation point and the, “I’ll sit and shake,” comes into play.

Dog is God spelled backward but in essence they are both about goodness. Go snuggle that here’s-my-tummy-to-rub  doggie face of yours…These are the great times.

A dog is Man’s best friend, and maybe teacher, too.

Franque23.

 

See ya…

 

 


London is where bustle got put into hustle.

Let’s start with the Crown Jewels( so easy to fancy) but, then again, don’t let the elevator doors hit you on the way to see them. Yes, it’s hard to imagine those jewels on anyone’s head but my own!( I claimed to be , Gerald the Great, as a kid, like two years ago.)

This is worth a few pounds that are  upgraded by 20% more in American dollars.

The crowns at Buckingham dazzle the eye. You pass a row of crowns thirty feet long as you stand on a conveyor belt. I went back three times.

Is it a perfect fit?

Trust me,,, you can’t imagine the size of this diamond and more. It is a minted life for sure.

The barney ace diamonds set between emeralds and ruby’s, crown after crown, but about those elevator doors.

No automatic door is going to retreat if you’re too slow shufflin’ in for the ride in London. There’s no safety bumper mechanics working in England; it’s either get in the elevator, stay out or get chopped in half by the closing door. Really, I saw my brother-in-law(a six-foot four guy) get body slammed by a closing elevator door so from then on it was run for your lives into the booth.  Tell ya, if you survive the weird wrong way traffic while crossing the streets as a pedestrian then the elevators are waiting to pounce.

About those elevator booths, they have phone booths too!

But this post isn’t only about London jewels, the everyday rain, the brown tones of London or the old tradition that stands so firm it has a grip on every angle of the city.

On the bright side of the rain, the daily washing brought rainbows.

No, I’m not even gonna blather on about staying in Chelsea,  a quaint part of London offering everything you could want via location, low, cute building structures, convenient nearby shopping in local markets, wine, cheese, bakeries and more. And why mention the Airbnb we stayed in with the naked woman crucified upon a cross that hung over the master bedroom, or the  avant-garde plaster naked torso of a woman hanging by the only flight(s) of stairs or the Queen’s hologram portrait with eyes that followed you as you passed by. It would be stupid, the eclectic array of art in this walk up flat worked in an imaginative why to keep your mind wandering as you ate breakfast to start the new day or sipped wine at  night to end it.

 

RANDOM PHOTO alert

Here’s John and Robert Kennedy flippin’ thru law books with Marilyn Monroe. What else did they end up having in common?!?!?

This whole mess with Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy’s may be a load of cobbler-not sure anyone knows and I suspect it will be a donkey’s ear before anyone does..

London is a peddle to the metal. Unless, of course, you’re buried at Westminster Abbey. Then things slow down.

West Minister Abby is waiting to amaze you.

I’ve got to say, the cast of humanity buried in Westminster Abbey is a ton to take in: you could spend more than a life time researching the history of those buried in West Minister Abby, some in magnificent tombs while others are beneath your feet as you walk.

The most splendid experience is to the see the ceiling, Mary, Queen of Scots, beholds from her resting place. You can’t imagine the beauty of this architecture.  The burial room for Mary seems to scream, Queen Elizabeth 1, how could you? (She was  imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth 1 for twenty odd years before being decapitated for plotting against the queens life.)*

Mary, Queen of Scots has a beautiful view.

The ceiling speaks volumes about her rank with the society. Take a closer look:

Even closer…..

But this sordid part of history isn’t the first or last we’d come upon during our London visit. Who  could forget the Shakespearean-type guide telling us how Anne Boleyn had her head cut off at the Tower of London-that was all the rage back then- and how she  kept praying with her lips moving as her executioner held her head in the air for all those gathered to see. There was no TV back then so public executions got excellent ratings, still it wouldn’t be my cuppa tea.

In the end, London has its place. Kensington Palace is a bit dark even with the special celebration of Princess Diana taking place while we visited; Buckingham palace was certainly more,’Royal’. Big Ben was silent for our visit but the under current of London’s history still rings a bell even without its chime.

You can’t help but notice you’re standing in London, England, the very seat of power that once ruled so much of the world-America, too. The pavement here feels like accomplishment under the soles of you feet. And even today, the city seems to hum, We Have to Hurry.

One more thing, I’m from just outside the Big Apple, New York- I had the subway down pat when I was in high school. I knew the rush of New York City streets like the back of my hand and I’m telling you: Londoner’s will make the train. On guard; on time.

Here’s to knees up then in London. Cheerio.

Franque23

 

*Not to throw a spanner in the works,, but Mary’s first husband died a few days after her marriage, the next was found either strangled or buried-not sure- after several years of unhappy marriage…Then Queen Elizabeth thought Mary, Queen of Scots, might be plotting against her?-go figure Mate.

 

 

 

 


The Crown Jewels stay in Buckingham Palace in England, but the Irish have the Emerald Isle. Forgotten by modern convenience, this diamond in the rough answers to no one’s price but stands apart as a land unto its truth. That truth grows from three million year old Cliffs of Moher to the west, a well seasoned Guinness to the east, the snows of the north and the continual blow of the south.  Within it all, Ireland remains on jealous guard of its secret, one you will come to know should you go.

3 million years old, the Cliffs of Moher are larger than you can imagine, but picturing the Grand Canyon, if you’ve seen that, helps.

Two views of part of the cliffs-one side wind swept clean for millions of years, the other grown over in moss.

There’s a stone tower on top of a high peak at the cliffs,,,,Dale and I got to go up.

Up to the top; wind or crowds of summer sometimes makes this impossible.

But we made it for this shot…. America lies 4 thousand miles away.

Ireland’s earth-bound honesty whispers as the morning dew drops sparkle upon the long bladed grass, races between the hedgerows and stony rock walls, up the hillsides and down into the valley of your heart. The truth cannot be denied: by taking on less, Ireland is so much more.

Of course, the matter is Ireland and there is so much to consider. But, diddly diddly this or diddleydee that, Ireland is waiting to collect your spirit, to open your heart so your eyes can see the beauty of Life once more. It’s up to you whether or not you answer the call, and it’s why I think those who can should visit Ireland while young enough to still have stars in their eyes, no matter how old.

Dublin is bubbling until late at night.

While traversing this Emerald we saw two hundred miles of land all dotted by small farms, no large factories, or conglomerate farming enterprises, no GMO fields and, btw, nary a stop light. In fact, the major crop of Ireland is grass-not the kind smoked- but green, flowing grass, field after field, and all raised to feed the sheep, cattle and pigs through the winter months. It’s a wonder to know that through Ireland, the country, the winter months dip about ten degrees below the summer temperatures which are mild.

Picture this: in most restaurants in Ireland the distance the food you order was grown, raised or harvested is listed next to the menu item. Imagine. Most often the food I ordered had come from less than fifty miles from my very seat! The greatest distance I remember food coming from the restaurant I was sitting in is one hundred and fifty miles. See? Ireland gives a whole new meaning to, ‘Fresh Market.’

Fresh food and space to dream

Yes, the men seem to drink a tad much very often but the women we spoke to mostly said, “I don’t drink at all.” It makes sense: someone in the household has to know what day it is right? Nah, really, there seemed no regret on either of the part of the Irish men or women when it came to drinking—the Isle is too beautiful for regrets. There’s too little space between the sunshine and the shadows of the hardworking people to waste time on fantasy.

One Barmaid, so kind to give me a free Guinness since she had the best in all of Ireland, told us, ” No, if you get drunk in our village there’s no taxi so a friend has to drive you home or I will. Oh, we have a taxi stand down the road, but good luck ever finding one there-it never happens.” Curious, my wife asked her what there was for us to see or do in the quaint little town. She thought in earnest and then answered with a broad smile, “Honest, I can’t think of a thing.”

If ever it’s been a struggle to live the salty life here you’d never know. The green fields, abundant sky and whipping wind weave together a different tune, the diddly diddly of Life. No wonder people have fought to preserve this land; it holds the touch that kisses back privately to any heart that will listen.

Go hear the music.

Franque23


Basically, keep it in mind when you sign-up for jet lag that Europe’s a spider’s web of death traps for Americans. Flat out simple, if you do survive being squashed alive in your seat or poisoned by the-this is not food- on your plane, London is waiting for you. There you’ll encounter a million cars ready to run you over as you step off the curb and look left for on-coming traffic as you might in America*…..Thing is, somehow, someway, the English still insist on driving on the wrong side of the road. It all makes sense if you accept that this wrong-side-of-the-road custom dates back to the 1700’s and therefore should be continued. It seems horsemen busy dueling for any reason they might conjure up were mostly right-handed so they needed to pass their foe with swords drawn and their enemies on the right side of their horse for better body piercing.  Today, the English continue to charge ahead the wrong way.

Another warm greeting awaiting you in London is the plethora of pelting rain drops that will anoint your sun-searching eyes should you look up from the puddled streets.

In truth, it doesn’t rain everyday in England once, but many, many times per day. But don’t worry if you leave your umbrella in that last cab you took-you’ll find someone else’s umbrella in about the exact same location on the back seat of the next cab you get.

Be forewarned: those four dollar umbrellas offered for sale in London last about as long as it takes to buy them…

Moving on, bypassing the flood gates of England, you may find yourself swilling in Ireland, Dublin, to be exact. This country has a completely different slant on how to undo the American. It’s called Guinness. You may have tried what you thought was Guinness here in the States and that would be all wrong. No, in Dublin where Guinness has submerged an entire country it’d be wrong to think of the drink as anything but a prelude to another and then ten more. Not that I had so many-I don’t think, maybe.

Typical roadside stop in Ireland**.

So, you missed Ireland completely but for unloading a bunch of money between random trips to the loo. Now it’s on to France with low expectations of seeing lots of underpants. The Follies were not showing during my visit and it was Fall so the sexy part of France was underwhelming- a minimalist’s expose’ of very little, a slip-up with regard to this undertaking. And if you’re hoping to make friends in any of these countries or amends for two hundred years of American warfare forget it. The fact is most people I almost saw as we passed one another along the street had their faces glued to whatever electronic device they held in hand. Those sparkling eyes of all those I’d hoped to meet in foreign countries had converted to bent down heads…

France, or what I imagined to be the land of lingerie, turns out to have its own angle on killing Americans that doesn’t involve deploying undergarments. Yep, it’s the French in Paris with the baguettes-mystery solved. You can’t imagine unless you’ve been, but there’s a quality to French pastries, breads, heck even hamburger buns that will drive even the most savvy American palate crazy. Figure on gaining weight and ordering a larger coffin as you decide what desert to devour next while in France.

I’d once heard the Eiffel tower was erected to reflect the state of most men while in Paris, and that it was fittingly a temporary construction to boot. Now, I don’t know.

History records that the Mongols invaded Paris and ate the baguettes which caused them to run to Ireland and jump off the Cliffs of Moher.*** Those Cliffs are renowned to this day for this reason-I heard this while in Ireland but only truly understood the history once I’d eaten various breads in Paris. I didn’t even care about the missing underwear after that.

Random idea:

The Cliffs of Moher have very little in common with the sunflower fields of Tuscany

Mind you, I loved Ireland so much there’s at least an entire glob coming on that country-and London and Paris and Germany as well.

It’s time to move on to Germany but first I have to end this glob….see you next time through a vat of beer and what about those Oktoberfest outfits!?!?!? New Orleans’s Mardi  Gras has nothing on German’s celebration– honest.

I found the size of the Oktoberfest beers distracting.

cheers

Franque23

  • Sadly, this has happened.
  • A cab driver explained that ten was the magic number of Guinness-just enough to make you forget the night before as you awake the next morning so you have to investigate Guinness all over again the following night. See? It’s the circle of life.
  • This matter is still debated in pubs.

This Town’s Walmart Was ABANDONED. What They Did Inside? Oh My Gosh!!!

(This article and the pictures written by another are from 2012. Maybe you’ve seen this, but if not I thought it too great to not pass along.)

This will be my last post for weeks, and it’s fitting that it’s about a huge Library of unusual circumstance. I’ve worked at our Library for the past 22 years and always have admired how we strive to keep the community informed through open access to information. This library in the story, like ours,  is a real  community effort, a great undertaking with surprising results. I hope you enjoy this feel good story.

 

“A lot of people, including myself, are fascinated with abandoned locations. We’ve been lucky enough to actually write about a few of them here at LittleThings: we’ve seen abandoned resorts, stadiums, psychiatric hospitals, and even train cars.

Many times, these buildings will just sit there untouched and slowly fall into ruin. They are often covered in graffiti, decked in spider webs, and they look like something out of a horror film.

McAllen is a town in the southern section of Texas that saw one of its Walmart locations go out of business and sit idle for many years. After the store shuttered, it eventually fell into the property of the city, and the decision was made to turn the building into a public library.

At the size of nearly two-and-a-half football fields, it is now the largest single location public library in the United States.

Learn more about the building by reading below, and please SHARE if you think libraries are a vital part of every city!

Photo Credit: ThinkStock/tupungato

The city had 124,500 empty square feet to utilize.

The firm of Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle, Ltd. of Minneapolis was brought in to design the interior. The redesign was a smashing success among designers. It won the 2012 Library Interior Design Competition held by the International Interior Design Association.

The remodel was also a success for the library’s business. Membership increased by 23 percent the year it opened. It has large children’s sections, and even has its own sound proof room for teenagers.

 

It also features 14 study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 computer labs for kids, two genealogy labs, and 15 public meetings spaces. It’s hard to imagine the library being one of the coolest buildings in town, but that’s what happened.

There’s even a cafe, art gallery, and used book store.

An auditorium hosts screenings, classes, and lectures on a variety of subjects.

I’ve always loved the iconic New York Public Library, but this one might be even more impressive.

How many libraries actually have people lining up to get in?

It also hosts an immensely popular farmer’s market on weekends. McAllen Farmers Market –     The library has become a major part of the community.

Don’t you wish more abandoned spaces could be turned into wonderful things for the community. We definitely need more libraries!

 

McAllen Public Library!!! 

 

Community efforts bring such great joy. See you next time-

Franque23.

And oh, please enjoy some of the other 570 posts I’ve written since 2009 while I go ‘Dark’ for a few weeks. Byeeeeee


September fourth ends the party of a huge, and odd, festival held in the US of A. It all happens on the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nevada. The Burning Man festival, one where this year a man was truly burned alive as he ran into the flames,  is now a long-standing tradition here in the States.  But, before we get into this, I have to reveal a secret.

About ten years ago I thought I’d heard of the most bizarre festival held anywhere world-wide when my daughter who lived in Japan at the time told me about Japan’s Penis Festival. I admit, I was a bit puffed-up to know of this weirdness personified event; I gleefully went around America secretly thinking, ” Oh yeah? I know something you don’t know.”

I mean really, once per year an entire town marches large Penises down the avenue, wearing penises for noses, or hats. arms, worse for their, well, member. And all of this happens while massive crowds watch from the curb sides and chant something akin to, “We love the penis….” It’s different from Woodstock-see? 

Reality goes a bit wonkie for the day * And, it all makes sense according to the link below **, but I don’t see these pops going mainstream in America. Some of it is hard to handle…

Anyway, yep, I figured I had the corner on the market when it came to knowing about the strangest festival going until today, like right now. I flipped through a feature of many photos from this year’s, Burning Man Festival, and now, well, I’m not sure what this is?

Maybe, it’s a ladies clothing fashion show?

Maybe, the aliens have landed?

Maybe, it’s just super hot out there and people have gone a bit south of normal?

Who has time to build these monuments guided by, err, I guess their imagination?

Whatever this is, it’s fun to scan the photos in this link and glimpse what ‘other’ people than me do with their time. And, the 70 thousand who participated in this years’ showings seem to have had a heck of a time. It’s actually amazing to see…

Cheers-

It’s all a bit wacky in the best sorta way. The Burning Man photos of 2017:

https://designyoutrust.com/2017/08/burning-man-2017-stunning-photos-from-the-worlds-biggest-and-craziest-festival/

 

Franque23

*Extentions from the penis festival….. http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-ideas/weird-and-wacky/inside-the-festival-of-the-steel-phallus-in-kawasaki-japan/news-story/1e70c04df0268d3184c7baa68dc2c919

** For those who want an in-depth look and reach a better understanding of the cultural forces behind the Penis Festival, this is really good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HMwASzcdIU

 


(click on the pic for a larger view.)

So it’s not just about growing vegetables. I guess Dale and I grow about everything we can—the birds(we get to know generations of Cardinals), the flowers(this Old Man Beard’s tree is a wonder every spring)*, the grass-why-oh-why?, 17 citrus trees, several orange varieties, two types lemons, figs, and we’ve one pineapple ripening now and four more forming with 32 planted. Of course, our pears only yield as squirrel food.  Oh yes, we grow squirrels, like it or not.

Bunch of lemons last year.

Feeding the Gold Finch who fly through in the Spring.

Right now, late August-early September, it’s time here in Gainesville to plant the fall garden. I’ll be hoping for green beans, potatoes, squashes, lettuce, the yellow squash, dark green zucchinis and tomatoes to come in for Thanksgiving and to freeze to use during the winter months.

The crops of spring or fall vary from year to year. Two years ago I picked 32 pounds of green beans, but this year’s spring garden with the same planting produced about 5 pounds?!?! Ya just never know with gardening.

The Gardenia is wonderful, and huge—it’s near our front door—but another more unusual planting is directly next to the front door. This indigenous Jasmine is not the kind you so often see growing in clumps around mail boxes or on fence lines. No, this Jasmine grows more like bamboo and even sometimes 12 feet high while dying off to the ground after cold weather. Located in front of our living room  bay window, this plant provides cover from the summer’s sun while letting the winter daylight in. I often use the heavier stalks left leafless after a freeze for tomato stakes the next spring.

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The night blooms fill the yard with a splendid aroma.

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Oh, right, we’re helping grow Grandchildren as well…

There is nothing like a yard ripened Pineapple.

Let’s put two and two together and come with an answer that’s good ‘four’ all of us!

The start of a pineapple garden.(I got the tops from a grocer.)

Life on the planet is truly amazing.

The oldest known Baobab tree in Limpopo Province, South Africa, is thought to be 1700 years old. Catch this link if you have time **

 

And although there’s nothing like seeing works of man, like a magnificent Greek statue, some of them make me lose my appetite.

As with gardens, ya never know what might or might not pop up now-a-days.

Anyway—-back to appetites.

 

I’m hoping everything comes up roses this Fall for all of you who plant anything. There’s nothing like taking time out to work your butt off beneath the sound of the birds, the wind through the trees and with the sweet smells of Life tickling your nose.

Cheers.

Franque23

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The Old Man’s Beard tree is coming out again.

 

**https://www.bigbaobab.co.za/


Subtitled: Weird for Good Reason.)

It’s true, I’ve forgotten the one thing I’m certain of. Still, it’s time to run along.

So here it is, a real toy soldier that’s sold. It depicts a soldier of the Von Franquemont regiment, my ancient relatives.(1760ish)..The best I get it, five Von Franquemont sons of Karl Eugen, once ruler of most of Germany, were all the heads of fighting Regiments who fought throughout Indonesia, throughout Europe—most notably against Napoleon around Paris—Germany and as far away as Cape Town , South Africa.

We have a reproduction of the Regiment’s flag. What fun and, of course, the ruler had the largest castle in Stuttgart. The second largest in Germany today.

It’s a bit large…160 rooms, and kept up by Germany as a come look-see attraction.

Home sweet home.

Anyway, finally, my wife and I along with my sister will be going to the castle this September. I intend to claim the castle and grounds as mine as long as my sister promises to post bail.

It’s a small place with its own theater and library for the public to use…,

Thing is, this same  pauper of a guy built this castle in Stuttgart….

Every man needed a hunting camp-

And, sadly , there stands in another nearby location the rubble the Von Franquemont Castle, over run in 1660, but it turns out Karl Eugen is one of us.  All Franquemont’s today are the last lines of this man.

But of it all, the trip, the stays and the transfers and planning for our European trip,  how to care for our doggie, Shadow, who’d be left home loomed most predominately…After thinking of neighbors, friends, maybe dog stay places we found a woman and daughter my wife has known for a while. They are perfect and love dogs. They met us and Shadow yesterday for hours and hours at our home but here’s the deal— it turns out the woman was born in Stuttgart!!?!?! Is that a kick?

There’s a lot to plan with a 22 day trip to London, Dublin—cliffs of Moher—then a stay at an inland castle at, RosCommon, where my sister-in-law’s relatives made their home. The castle is a modernized spa where we plan to rough it out on horseback and in spas…( I hope they don’t make me sit in a castle and gorge on delicious food). Then, we have time in Paris before the Germany stop.  That’s when I’ll  see the castle.

So yeah, maybe I could’ve been a king but I’m not, so I fish Lake Bonaparte instead. Sob…..

Bonaparte was rocking several years ago. Bass dying to get caught–err, sorry. Them’s large planks, honest.

I went out with relatives almost every night during this family reunion and we came back with keepers each time.

Keepers of what is the question…

We all gathered to fish—or drink stuff, anyway…. BTW.. the Morgan store in Natural Bridge ( owned by my relatives) had a stand up walk in cooler stuffed full of beer…I never tried any more than a thousand, but I heard it was very good super cold. I mean, really, you could walk around in this cooler, as I hear it.

We caught all of this one night in mud lake fishing, just before sundown….I know, it’s a bit odd—artificial worms were working best…*

Do you realize how hard it is to catch green peppers on plastic worms in Mud Lake? About as hard as getting Mexico to pay for the wall…anyway…..

we all fished that year–it was a sight to see, people diving off the boat to catch em’ bare handed.

In fact, the entire thing was a sight to report, you know, to the police..

There was a rogue ship launched,, and who could stop her?

Delirious people thought they’d might have the way with our Von Franquemont Kingdom….NOTish.

Never gonna happen…

But still, there was more, or something…

We gathered aboard the vessel and stood in line while out to sea,, not knowing what we’d catch…

We had the best line’s women and guard doggie,,,sounding the bottom as we neared the shore.

No, it’s not too shallow yet, mate.

Still, the fishing went on into the night…

Or maybe it was the next day, not sure….. but we bellied up.

Life was good once again in the Kingdom I never owned…and I could rest, relax, tomorrow was another day….

Maybe a big one would come along

Or not, and none of that mattered….we were at the Lake….Lake Bonaparte. Three cheers to Kingdoms of a kind; three cheers to the Lake.

Fun times as the summer ends.

Then again, for the times they are a-changin’.. to what? Gotta ask with our nutty political scene. Is it all ,’Fake news?’

Our doggie , Shadow, water skiing-he’s the best at it. Bigly, huge.

My brother and me in the Caribbean….We used lot’s of sun tan lotion

Actually, anything goes now…..get the drift…Cheers.

Franque23

melons for sale-somewhere.

*thinking this might be part of last year’s crop…..not sure. I think they’re keepers.

 


(Click the pic for a larger view…)

There’s nothing like untangling fishing line between twelve wrapped together poles. Snaggin’ a finger with treble hooks while organizing the tackle box or sitting on a lure as you get into the boat all make the top ten of fishin’ moments as well. Basically, these memorable times mean one thing: you’re going fishing so what’s not to like?! Maybe, that thunder in the distance isn’t perfect, but it could be Fort Drum?—anything’s possible.

Where, when, how and what to use to catch fish is the question few sane people ask on a daily basis. Me? Yeah, I think about this about non-stop while up at Lake Bonaparte, that and where is the bottle opener. Of course the wind, cloud cover, angle of the sun, water temp and where I put the bottle opener plays big in the exact answers, but that’s all too much for now.

Where to fish: I have to vibe it out.

Anyway, before you go skinny dipping thinking a Northern can bite your butt cause you didn’t catch one that day, it might be better to switch to bass when it comes to this retort. Thing is, kid you not, years ago a fellow* was actually bit on the leg by a bass so large that he had to go to the hospital!??!?! Where? The fishermen ask?…..near the Sherman’s dock in Porter’s bay…daylight hours with the lake temps good for swimming.( That’s the drop on that Bass attack.)

It’s August and maybe the dog days of fishing at Lake Bonaparte.

With nothin’ to do, it’s time to fish.

The water temps go high for bass so most big fish go low. BTW, when I was a kid a century ago, my Dad and Uncle Moe Morgan used to fish high Rocks with three colored lead line to troll deep for Walleye and Northern. I thought, back then, the line ran fifty feet per color but it must have been about 25 feet…Anyway, the color would help them know how much line was out and how deep they were running those ten inch long, wooden lures-much like an un-jointed Rapala.

There’s so much to say about them days……sigh.

Dave Morgan with his parents; me with mine-only one left, now.

Okay, back to task. While it does matter if you’re fishing for numbers, size or with children who need to catch one when it comes to where and when to fish, I’ve a few basic tips to share some may not know.

I’ve fished the Lake for more than 60 years that I can remember.

The early morning is a sight to see; a miraculous glorious sun rise while mist rises above the water as a cloak of rainbows that usher forth the call of the loon.

We got close to beating the light.

It’s super quiet, but for your motor noise most are cursing as they turn in their sleep. A heavy mist veils the sky and might give one the opportunity of nailing a bass near shore—I’d be using a white Texas rigged worm through the grass in the shallow Hotel Weed bed or in the stumps in mud lake. But, tellin’ ya, once the mist lifts(which is always too soon) the deals about done til nine through noon that AM. The first light shoots the fish for cover as birds take flight over head.

This light won’t do you much good; time to go kayaking.

Wanna fish the early morning so you have bass for breakfast? Go the night before.

The night before.

There might be a way to have a good time…

There’s a curious thing about the lake that doesn’t entail the fact that you can drop a spinner bait in the middle of Bull Rush bay for a 14 to 17 inch Northern whenever you like.

You can skip dinner if steaks aren’t on the grill and head out. You might try elephant Island, Hammond’s point, the shoal off Beer Island or cast the bays west of Round Island if you need practice casting. But, catching fish at 6ish to 7:30 PM? Drag those lures through the stumps on the south side of Hotel Weed bed. And, I’m sorry about the big foot print fancy boats that ride high on the water with the convenient foot pedal troller–you might as well be marching a band into the area announcing your arrival.

They call it, “Old School.” But for now, something like this will catch the bigger fish. Cane pole in with your oar. Bring drinking water.

Nope, the noise, boat size and motor all matter. Can and will you catch fish using big boats? Absolutely…but, mostly, not the one you’re after; not on Lake Bonaparte.

not a bad night

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Caught em large

9-21-2009 Bonaparte and fish-1

Larger…..!

And small(that’s me on the right with Joe Morgan.)

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Me catching a first fish with big Joe Morgan

Give up the zillion dollar boats and get a flat-bottomed John Boat or V-hulled 10  to 14 footer, two sturdy oars and cut the engine at least twenty yards out. Use your oars to get closer and cane pole with one of them as you get inside the stumps. I usually stay seated unless one is on. If you make a wake you’re moving too fast. The key is watch the water, the drift, the pads and for the movement of fins. Good luck. Use a Texas rig for everything big that hits, they inhale the lure, but for plenty of action use a double hook, most like a Herring set-up, on your single worm.

This best pictures the idea-but I use a plastic worm not live bait. Pre-tie on several sets so if you get snagged you have another double-hook set to use.

This way you catch the tail nibblers, but unhooking small fish or snags can be a pain.

Used to be after 7:30 PM you could back out of the weed bed and head to Hammond’s shoal between Porter’s Bay and Bull Rush Bay to plug around the southeastern shoreline until night fall and catch the limit-not anymore.

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Hammond’s Point east side of Potter’s Bay

Thing is, David Morgan’s friend from the west shore line dumped years(like 20 of them) of bass off at these locations in a catch and release as a favor for David. Dave’s been dead for thirteen years now, and the fish drop off ended years ago. Small mouth still frequent the shoal, but mostly the large ones are gone.**

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“A friend’s been dropping fish off at the point for years.” Dave Morgan 2000.

Nope, if it’s near eight PM you might head out to Mud Lake and know you’ll have the best luck in the last rays of daylight, up tight by the shore.***  The split Rapala can’t rake the lily pads but you won’t miss seven out of ten hits, either. It’s a choice: action or a high percentage of catches per strike. I like the plastic worms unless I know their hitting and the light-of-day is about gone.

There’s more to write from experience and from the histories I’ve heard. Can’t wait to share that, and Lake Bonaparte Fishin’-3 is coming soon.  See ya on the water, at the counters while snagged by those lure sales or at the docs getting hooks removed!

Cheers

Franque23

*Ask Joey Heukrath about this…..or, Mary Sherman may know.

**If you slide around Hammond’s point and cast the shore on down to the huge rock by a camp, you might get action. Lately, I mostly caught the over-hanging cedars here. Paul Doherty and a friend got a big one off the point a few years back, but I swear it was the same fish I’d released from my dock a few months earlier.

***They say a dark worm in light and a light worm for the dark. Mostly, I don’t think so unless you’re fishin’ that nifty shoal off Birch Island.

OH, one more thing,,,, the newer heavy-headed plastic worms imitate the Carolina rigged plastic worms and work best over the open shoals…..

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