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Here’s the deal—no fish is going to an Ivy League school. It doesn’t matter how many fins they have, their underbelly colors don’t count and the tail size has no Equal Opportunity standing.

But, do fish think?

oh my gosh–I’m on a stringer–now what?

Of course not! Fish swim around dropping eggs like flies and eat each other when possible. The don’t really go to school, and how many very tiny books has anyone every found on the bottom of the Ocean, or any lake? I have yet to read any book written by a fish (though I’ve wondered) and they’re all nudist no matter the water temperature which is a bit off.

Still, this odd worm of a thought keeps luring me into its weedy lair, and it’s so bad I hate to ask. Fishermen/women, secure the oars.

Here it is on a swivel hook: why, or better yet, how can lures that once worked so well in the past not work to catch fish worth a flip ten years later? No, listen, this is important. Let’s examine the flat fish lure , all the rage in the 1960’s and thru the 70’s. It was a great, effective lure for catching Northern’s trolling or flipping the shore line for bass.  Now? It’s as if every fish alive has been through the drill and knows to never eat a flatfish lure? Why? How can this Be?  Is it a matter of fashion? But then this would indicate fish have a sense fashion? “Oh my God! I’d never be caught dead biting that lure!” The fish said.

See? What’s the deal? Do fish have amber-alert type memos that last beyond lifetimes? Fish ten generations removed from the flatfish lure eating frenzy still know today not to strike those lures. Let’s face it, it’s been 50 years since Mankind knew cigarettes cause cancer and we still smoke them! Or, how about those hamburgers I still buy from time-to-time in fast-food places? Those are good for me, right?

Yep, whatever the reason, fish seem to communicate important life lessons through generations better than humans. That’s odd; this is what I’m saying.

Okay, forget all the writing, just answer me this: why do fishing lures become less effective over time?

In the meantime, check out this great link of many, many interesting facts…they’ll hook ya.

https://www.thoughtco.com/hilarious-historical-facts-4154997?utm_campaign=wilat&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_content=12721193&utm_term=

Cheers…. have fun this wkend

Franque23

I let the big ones go. So, is this how it happens? “Tellin’ ya, I was abducted by a weird bald guy and put on a string , then let go…I got caught on a white plastic worm: don’t go there.”

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About that Morgan-Franquemont conflict: The Royals verses the pirates.

It’s a miracle any Morgan Pirates survive, with Joe Morgan driving off of bridges as a kid, with ladies running a muck who need,’How to wear hat lessons,'(This photo blocked by the Who knows Who) and Dave Morgan, now gone, bless his soul, who once fell into the brink at age three without a care in the world or knowledge of how to float. Ripley’s Believe It or Not has maybe called me twice about this family,* but I’ve taken the high, Royal Road and decided to write this glob only.

To begin, it’s obvious the Noble Franquemont line is ready to take control.

It’s a Royal bunch…those who will lead us are pictured above and below.

We can rest assured of our humble Leadership.

And here is pictured the foundation of our Royal belief…our backyard entrance to our home’s Nobel courtyard in Germany-*(Thanks to my wife for this wonderful shot.)

Should you dare step inside the courtyard of our ancestral home, you would see this.

And here are some of our joined generation that solidified the Franquemont (okay, Morgamont) victory at Lake Bonaparte.

But, truthfully, most Morgan pirates need to be in jail. NO, really, I think I could sell them time shares in prison!

It’s not because of their politics, their thievery, their gluttonous drankin’ and absolute aversion for just about anything normal, no,,,these are their very best parts. The worst of the lot lie in the shadows of innocent looks, half bent smiles and spineless attacks when the Royal Franquemont Guard is sleeping, or talking , or eating, or just fartin’ around paying no attention to the Pirates.

Do you see how young the pirates begin to sneak their way into our unsuspecting hearts!

And Pirates the Morgan’s be, every lad and lass of them, the worst sort. Call the cops! No, wait, he’s one of them no good, double fistin’ potato chip eating lot.

The fellow on the right is by marriage one of them, and he’ll arrest anyone of us on the spot—the cop that he is. The middle man, Nick Morgan, be just that, a go between who claims the Morgan name but not the politics. And on the left, a Royal, Craig the Car-is locked,(Carlock) member who listens to all sides.

Well, at least the Morgan’s will have trouble posting bail….oh wait, one of them was or still is a fierce bail’s man guys?

The Morgan man at Dakota’s back was once a bailsmen. Ben the Morgan is now an insurance guy. Ha! He wants to insure your life.

The Crime as witnessed this past July on the 24ish upon the dock of Innocence….

It was a clear day, the waters calm, as I stood unsuspecting on our new dock, recovering from three cracked/bruised ribs, a torn right leg and fatigue it’d cost me to build it**.  Mike the Smile, Pirate Murphy, as he’s called, came kayaking up to me all, well, smiles. Aye, if I hadn’t been in such a pleasant ruling mood I might have notice his smile seemed a bit skewed. Sure enough , our pleasant conversation was soon followed by Nick the Wicked and his protege, Blake, known as Blinko the Pirate, who laid my smiles to waist. I always take the high, Royal road so I never suspected foul play as Blinko raced up the stairs while Mike the Smile Murphy and I shared conversation. Moments later, Nick and Blinko hauled ass off in their kayak with my beers and soda’s in hand!!! Yellin’ all the while! This will forever be known as the Slithering Smile theft of 2018.

I’ll have em’ walkin’ the steps to the lake when I catch up to them.

(Our half way dock steps.)

They took my very best beer—not to be replaced throughout the reunion—and some super soda I’d never miss. It was a horrible sight, and then Mike, the bad smilin’ Murphy, slid like a snake away in his kayak to follow the pirates.

This is typical stuff from the Morgan Pirates; I have to cheer, Nick Morgan, however, who is smart to realize in his own words, “Trump is a con, a cheat and lizard eating suck head with no brains…”***So there is hope for the genes. Anyway, with our Franquemont Royal empathy I will spare the Morgan lot this time.

For now, let them eat ice cream!

(BTW-this is one shot of the new dock.)

The decree has been decried? It reads like this: “I don’t know, something will happen in two years at our next reunion…dead fish in the frig…something.” This man in a new Franquemont helmet guarantees it!

Meanwhile, I’ll be checking passports when getting aboard from now on.

But there is one more thing. Through tough negotiations, tireless days and nights on scotch and beer, we have decided to claim the Morgamont dock, ( a half-way dock located between the bluff and lake as pictured four shots above), as a safe heaven from any intentional farting, photo bombing or fire burning, stuff like that. It’s sorta like during World War 11 when countries agreed to not bomb special places like France’s, Versailles, as they bombed and killed 60 million people else where.

We will, instead, follow this new helmet wearing man to the,’New,’ Marina and camp ground…

It’s all good.

Franque23

Calling me the absolute, forever King will do for now.

  • Not true….believe it or not.
  • **Our ancestral home in Germany.
  • ***See previous glob—Bonaparte Dockin’
  • ****This may not be an exact quote….

 

 

 

 

 


Thirteen years ago I built a dock with cousins. This year’s dock is my last, uno over, no mas, caputio, last forever to build. Promise—

building the dock 13 years ago.

The reunion of our families happened again this year, and in a big way. First, though, there was lots for me to get ready for the crowd. Me? I hoped to fish, fish, fish during the eight days lead time I had until the reunion start day plus some other stuff done—like covering our aging dock in plywood sheets to steal one more year out of the structure—

I arrived to an empty camp…

And thought about the picture I’d had taken of me while holding a shot of my dad sitting before a fireplace when he was in college some zillion, light-years ago.

I thought about the fishing I’d get done before the gang arrived…

This shot is from 2012. Not a bad night in Mud Lake.

2008

hmmm forget date,,thought it was on picture.

I’ve caught a number of good fish over time but the monsters usually come years apart. This year was different.

It took Thursday evening and most of Friday for me to ready camp before I could venture out across the Lake and ‘test’ the waters at about 6 P.M.

Boom, as pictured in the previous glob, the big ones hit.

I stepped off the boat and about promptly fell thru the dock to my hip/.

My right leg was bruised from calf to upper thigh, and those marks would take twenty days to almost vanish—It seemed after inspection that topping the dock for the reunion was a no go, and I’d have to replace the entire dock before 49 people including 21 children showed up in a week’s time.

The official estimate to replace the dock was 7 thousand, so I bought 2 grand worth of lumber and rallied with friends, Randy, Brain and Tony to get her done. I spent two days ripping up old dock boards and hauling the wood laden with nails away for safe keeping to a burn pile. Then, Randy showed me a better way to remove the boards-rather than plying them up one by one, he cut the heck out of them first so the small boards could be sledge hammered up and off.

Three days later we had about 2/3 of the lumber in place for use to build the new dock and tools in hand.  Dock work is tough in and out of the water work, and dangerous. Tony took a broken piling steel cable into his leg, but he’d just gotten a tetanus shot so he carried on. My leg hurt but so does life. It was the third day as I walked on an old beam we’d all used as we moved docking boards when it gave out under me. I fell like a stone and hit a piling timber with my ribs. My guess was I’d fractured a rib or three….but what can you do with that? Nothing. I steadied to realize I could breathe, move with pain but not danger. The job went on, but from that moment on I couldn’t use my left side for strength, and resembled a snail on dry land while working, especially when hauling my butt in or out of the water.

The job took 135 man hours, (65 of mine)and some long days-Randy worked one 13 hour one day by my side. We  sorta finished—all but for one hundred top deck screws I did later—exactly one half day before my grand children arrived and one and 1/2 days before 49 relatives came.

We had the most glorious week for the reunion…and all the while I remained thankful the weather had held for us dock workers the previous week. Up there at Bonaparte, bad weather can stop everything for a day or two if it decides to.

It came time for everyone to leave and I dropped my grand kids and wife off at Utica for the train with another day and one half left to fish–at last…..Ha;hahahaha…. not.

For some reason I thought my dock injuries were done?!!? Yeah, so my last night there I hit Mud lake only to have the sky dump rain on my head as I raced back to the dock. Once there, I notice an umbrella had been turned over all the while of the reunion. If only I’d realized the one dock board with nails I hadn’t removed was secretly hidden beneath that umbrella’s fallen top. I lifted that umbrella top to right the stand, the board slipped off the upright and landed a 16 penny old, rusty nail into the top of my ankle.

Think Mash (tv show) when I pulled that nail out of my ankle…I ran up 48 steps to wash out the wound and get a towel to soak up the blood… ten minutes of pressure and a first aid kit later I raced to local medical center room but it was closed. I headed back to the lake and noticed the sky had cleared and hobbled down to go fish again…(clearly, I’m a fisherman with a huge problem, doctor.) In truth, the real pain didn’t set in for about two hours. Once I returned to camp, I realized I was in the worst pain I’d ever felt. A relative got me to Carthage hospital for x-rays, antibiotics, and pain killers.

I was resting in bed by four A.M. wondering what I might have caught this year if fate didn’t hate me.

So now,,,almost a week later, I’m home, working, recovering as the swelling and pain are subsiding. Dang it, if I’d only gotten to fish more.

Here’s to docks everywhere–they are a pain in the butt to build. Dock nails can go to hell and if you catch a big fish this year at Bonaparte that was the one I would’ve had if only…..Nah, actually, it’s all good. I loved building the dock with the guys; I’ll fish next year and not fall thru it!

Franque23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lake Bonaparte has a knack for drifting the sand while holding the heart.

This shot is of my first night out this year, just before my plans came crashing down along with my dock. But please, don’t ask me about the dock we HAD to re-build before this year’s reunion. Heck, the next glob is about that. For now, it’s all about my first night out fishin’ and me coming back all grins.

What you see here is a 5 pound bass, a 4.5 pounder, and two smaller varieties though one may be that huge sunfish I caught to kick off the night. I had the larger ones measured and weighed by a fellow who was also fishing in Mud Lake at the time with two lovely women. Some guys have the best luck! Thing is, it’s been near about ten years since I caught a monster bass, and these two came within 30 minutes of one another. All top lure, split Rapala’s.

I think they both went 18 inches, but the main thing is I’m as convinced now as I was then that this year is the year of the lunkers…Good luck fishing. One man in our reunion group caught about a four pounder off the dock, and another slightly smaller right in his boat house. But, perhaps the strangest catch was Dakota’s reel in of a good size bass that wasn’t connected to his line or lure at all, but to a line the fish had broken previously that got tangle in Dakota’s lure on the retrieve!!!!

I couldn’t wait to get out to fish again, but I about never did for the next of all the twenty day’s I had left to fish up there. There’s good reason—that’s the secret in the next glob.

It was a reunion year, and the Franquemont-Morgan gang had a freakin’ blast.

This is the cook-off contest and the five judges were clearly paid-off not to pick my stuffed mushrooms but some other foreign dish cooked by Nick with a name no one could pronounce.

But, before I sob in my gravy, someone asked me how big fish used to be in Lake Bonaparte, and although I’ve no idea , there’s this picture of a kid bringing in his catch to Priest’s so long ago. As a kid, I heard plenty of stories(all true no doubt:-0) of Northern’s pushing six feet long coming out of the lake. I’d give about anything to have those pictures that lined the eatery and penny candy store at Priest’s….One huge, gigantic fish after another,,,the types we don’t see at all anymore. (Thank you  Jesus since I skinny dip, or now, chunky-dunk)

This is an old photo of a typical catch long ago at Lake Bonaparte

We did a zillion things as a family this year, pirate hunt, pan fish, dance, bowl, Ice cream sundae day, games, dock-out, and rock out with painting them.

But, the Ice cream boat!!! Oh my…

We mobbed the boat every chance we got..the reasonable prices hit the mark and the selection drooled the mouths.

The two families slid in every direction and never met a face they didn’t love.

In fact, the Morgan—Franquemont families have decided to name our 1/2 way dock down to the Lake….Morgamont. Now, if you see the sign you’ll understand.

Of course, some couldn’t make it this year, and other’s never will as they’ve gone to the other side or maybe flipped the Venetian blind between us.

I’ll forever miss my cousin Rob Morgan

And so many others who did or didn’t know the lake.

The waters run swift in season in a State Park,  just east of Harrisville (Glenwood Falls)

But when the 21  children of our reunion handed me a petition to return our reunion to a two year cycle instead of the four we were on, I knew what had always been true:

Nothing runs as deep as the bonding waters of Lake Bonaparte—that’s the truth, and the soul knows.

Have a great August and Fall at The Lake….

Franque23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I clipped this off Face Book….thanks to whoever made this video (Shop Rite–ad) and shared it as well…..

Enjoy, Franque23

 


Last year at about this time it was exciting to recommended a day trip to all those up at the lake. The nearby huge rocks and flowing stream was a joy to climb and search throughout Greenwood State Park. (Just east of Harrisville off Rt 3.) * If you haven’t been, and especially if you have children nearby, like in your shadow, 🙂 take that journey.

The stream falls at a good clip…

The rocks are a blast to climb. And this park is free to visit. That’s right-no charge to slip on your rump!

Of course, you could stay at the lake and get in a boat and cruise past the lore of Beer Island—yes an entire Island that once was a bar:-)

or you might take a spin around the naked backside of Round Island,** now a place of camps,

For the longest time, neither Birch Island nor Round Island had any camps on them…Pictured below was the first for Round Island…

Or, you might scare the bejesus out of younger ones by idling down across Mud Lake to navigate a stumpy run on your way to Apline(a) dam. (Oh my gosh, as  kid I always thought we’d hit something in Mud Lake and sink!) And, though I digress, Birch Island got its name because, “Once upon a time, in a place called Bonaparte,” that spot had so many birch trees along it’s shoreline the Island appeared almost white!  This was the same time when High Rocks was only topped by a singular, small wooden cabin occupied by a man they called, Doc Holiday. This was the same time that bull rush bay teemed with bull rush and the hotel weed bed shore line was a muddy, grass laden flat without a home in sight. Still, even with the lake’s rich history and exciting present, there’s more to do than just hang at the lake when you’re lucky enough to visit its shores.

484030_4480707222459_273257840_n

It’s a lot of work just hanging at the lake…

I know it’s easy to stay stuck at the lake…it’s way hard to find a better place to be. The day-to-day  beauty of the place can drive a fisherman nuttier than they are already—we often simply drove to the big town of Natural Bridge for an ice cream or to shop lift from our cousin’s Morgan store.

Thanks, David….for the free stuff.

Sometimes, however, no matter how many stories there are to tell about the lake, a day trip from the lake is a venture worth taking.

Here’s the place to go: https://www.wildcenter.org/

This Wildcenter will not disappoint. (And it will lighten your wallet, too!) Built to amaze both the young and old alike, the drive up through Tupper Lake to reach this wacky, eye’s wide open, vista park is well worth the time it takes. It’s well worth the price of admission.  There’s a lot to do in this park so plan to leave the lake by 8 or 9 A.M. and return with smiling, tired faces about seven P.M. for an evening swim.

I always want to go to the Blue Mountain Museum but that seems twice as far as this outstanding park. Once you go, you’ll be caught in the Wild Center’s web….

If you can wrangle out of this spin there’s a tree to march down through with a world of information waiting inside.

It can get tiring but no worries: your average run-of-the-mill chair carved out of a single piece of tree is waiting at the must-see museum half of the park.

It’s an interesting journey.

Hands on drawings/ paintings centers the building.

Who knew there was so much life in the water!?!?!

It’s an easy day spent making memories of a different sort. Nothing like watching my Catahoula Leopard clear 28 feet off our dock for a ball, but as much fin! (Whoops, must be thinking about fishing.) Err, fun!!! I mean.

Wait! Did someone mention fishing?

424281_10151140672799254_1284292637_n1

Maybe a big one might come along

Enjoy!

franque23

*https://franque23.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/lake-bonaparte-tips-1/

** Raise your hand if you never swam naked behind Round Island? Sorry, that boat has sailed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Listen up you fat gobbler. Sure, you had good intentions for 2017 but that all went zip when the stuff-your-face holidays arrived. Look at you; you’ve redefined the meaning of,’Extra wide load’. You’re a red eyed, stumbling person who went to the fridge to get broccoli and came out with two popped beers and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Heck, you needed the drinks to help wash down that box of chocolates you just couldn’t give away! No matter, rotten veggies work better in the compost then beer bottles.

Face it, if your butt sagged anymore you’d have to roll from the bed to the kitchen to slurp up breakfast before going to work.

And when you get to work what what do you see? It’s those eight blurry tiny reindeer that have oddly appeared throughout your days since Christmas plus several workmates who give you the look—the look that darts from your drippin’ jowls and turkey neck to your eyes and says, “God, how can you still walk?”

 

It’s so bad showers are scary.

You’d wash but how many bars of soap would that take? Besides, balloons don’t take showers.

Thing is, two towels clipped together with clothes pins easily wrap around your belly so what’s to hate? I’m certain that looking down after showers reveals nothing of toes, and nothing of anything else that might protrude either but why worry? It just one gigantic sloppy view of lumpy fat that makes you think about skiing, or how you’ve gone down that slippery slope of second helpings. Just deal with it, right?

It’s true, your dog doesn’t even know you. The tail wags as he runs behind a chair.

Hmmmm, okay, let’s get real…

Look, you obtuse slurping low life chomper-this is about more than the spiral ham you sucked up, the pulled pork barbecue you smeared on your belly or the steaks, roasts, lamb and turkey your diet slipped on. NO, this is more than just about the honey carrots—just add more sugar, dear— the smashed, buttered potatoes or sweet potatoes—pass the brown sugar—the twelve pies, apple, cranberry, key lime and pecan all topped with ice cream, the enormous amount of cheese melted on the cauliflower? or the bacon burgers served with anything that can be fried.

No, that’s just a thin slice of the reason people must wonder how your elongated ear lobes can hang on either side of your over stuffed skull.

This is what it’s about: I know you and your New Year’s Eve resolution to stop eating with both hands at the same time.

I promise!

Let’s be honest.  This is really about holiday peer pressure. It’s all too much. Basically, you’re innocent; just another consumer who never had a chance. I know you meant to be good this holiday season—think of the mosquitoes just waiting it feast on you— but things happen. I bet you blame the women around you who peddle sweets for a living or all those chocolate factory workers whose jobs depend upon your consumption of their nefarious means of earning a livin’. Oh, the guilt brought on when passing up all that hard work stacked to buy in the shopping isles!

See? I know you.

You’ll probably try to diet again in 2018. Ha! As if…

I also know if I keep talking to the mirror this morning I’m gonna be late for work!

Cheers….good luck.

Now where’s my toothbrush? Wait! It’s under that half eaten chocolate bar. Odd? Gosh, I hate to waste food, and this may be some of that no calorie or extra light chocolate I’ve never heard about?!?!

It’s a brand new year, baby!

Franque23


(Click the pic for a larger view.)

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.


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

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