Monday, April 27, 2015

Romantic Loire Valley Wine Tour~

A special Wine Tour is slated for September 2-12 in the Loire Valley--limited to just eight with a host long devoted to preserving the culture of this Valley of Kings. France Today Magazine on the trip: (HERE). A short video on the Loire: (HERE). 

At artist Jonathan Robinson's 19th century Le Moulin Bregeon--which has been featured in the New York Times and in fine magazines--you'll be immersed in French culture.

Jonathan holds an M.F.A. in painting, having studied in the U.S. and throughout Europe, he also taught at The Art Institute of San Francisco, Parsons School of Design in Paris, The Free Art School of Bremen Vegesack, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. He brings that artistic sensibility to the boutique inn he has owned for nearly twenty years...

You’ll discover a wine culture that dates back to Roman times, explore vineyards from Saumur to Nantes, and taste vintages such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Vouvray, Chinon, Bourguiel, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet Franc...paired with regional delicacies.  

Included are: 9 nights accommodations (6 nights at the Moulin Bregeon, 2 nights at 4 star hotel in Nantes, 1 night at the Citizen M hotel, CDG airport). Ground transportation includes your 1st class train ride, private automobile and driver. English speaking guides. 9 French gourmet breakfasts. 9 lunches, 1 picnic lunch. Seven – 4 course gastronomic dinners with superb local wines. Visit to wineries and tastings (1-3 per day). Visit to chateaux (admission fees included). You’ll also partake in a mushroom hunt, visit the farmers’ market, flea market/antique shopping. Take a cooking class. Bike rentals and Boat ride are included. 

You'll be greeted at your arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Then after a refreshment will board the 1st class TGV for Angers. Jonathan will meet your group at the train station and drive you through the picturesque landscape to Le Moulin Bregeon, and it’s charming small village a short picturesque stroll away. In the evening, you’ll gather for welcome drinks and enjoy a luxurious 4-course gastronomic dinner lovingly prepared by private chef, Bernard.

After your daily gourmet French breakfast, Pascal, will chauffeur the small group to see houses from the 16th and 17th centuries, the city center where you can visit the Maison des Vins to taste regional wines, visit small family run and also long established wineries to discover the local culture that dates back to pre-Roman times. Enjoy intimate discussions with winemakers, walk through the vines, see the caves, and of course, taste the wines.  Each evening your private chef, Bernard will prepare an artisan meal at the Moulin Bregeon.

For more information, contact: Alecia Caine: Principle and Founder of Find Yourself In France: (HERE). 805-218-1277

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Hero Of Two Worlds~

'The Hermione'--Lafayette's sailed his ship from 
France to America in 1780 to help 
George Washington free America from British rule~

Washington's home Mount Vernon. Lafayette (L.)
Washington (R.) 
George Washington (L.) Lafayette (R.) Lafayette's father
died when he was an infant--Washington was a
near father figure.

Jackie Kennedy christening the 
SS Lafayette submarine in 1964~ 
Jackie and JFK watching the America's Cup races off Newport RI
where she grew up, and where Lafayette's ship 
Hermione will be
docked before it continues on to NYC for July 4th activities...
First Lady Jackie Kennedy saved Lafayette Square from the wrecking ball.
Here with architect, John Carl Warnecke, they assess the renovation model.
I met Warnecke at UCLA Campus Architects and Engineers...
JFK lived on the ardent sailor from childhood 

'Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country'
~Marquis De Lafayette
Lafayette believed in America’s revolution, believed that everything was possible, believed that, "In life you need a dream." The 19-year old, wealthy, educated French aristocrat was a military officer who was wounded fighting for the US in its Revolutionary War against Britain. Friend to George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette was later key to winning the French Revolution, too.

After sailing from France to join the Americans, he was made a major general. Injured during the Battle of Brandywine, he distinguished himself in the Battle of Rhode Island, and was cheered by throngs along routes. It's a measure of his standing that countless US buildings, squares, statutes, bridges, military ships, rivers, cities, and schools remain named for him centuries following his death.

Lafayette persuaded King Louis XVI to provide aid to General Washington--then departed France on March 21, 1780 at the helm of his 213 foot tall ship Hermione from Rochefort in southwest France, landing in Boston 38 days later.

He supported key battles critical to securing America’s freedom including protecting the coasts and rivers, and delivering supplies.

The Hermione was wrecked off the Brittany coast in 1793 and authentically reconstructed in a 17-year, $27-million effort begun two centuries later in 1992. The famed frigate is presently sailing 3,819 miles across the Atlantic to land in Yorktown on June 5th.

The ship building project was sited across from the small islands of Aix, Madame, and Ré along the French Atlantic coast--and brought together history buffs, sailing enthusiasts, and maritime experts at Rochefort’s royal shipyard on Charente River. Walkways were constructed to accommodate four million fans that arrived to watch the shipwrights work. If Rochefort sounds familiar--Catherine Deneuve filmed Les Demoiselles de Rochefort there in 1967: (HERE).    

Authentic 18th-century materials were used in the construction including 26 kilometers of hemp ropes, 19 linen hand-stitched sails, 200 oak trees selected from French forests according to the precise shape of their trunks, 26 cannons were recast by the original ship's weapons foundry.

Soaring 177 feet high, the Hermione was painted to replicate its predecessor and with a carved lion figurehead by sculptor Andrew Peters at the prow. From the stern, a massive French flag flaps in the breeze.  

Right Now Coming To America~

After two months of sea trials along the coast from Brittany to Bordeaux, Captain Yann Cariou was at the helm with a crew of 18 professionals and 54 volunteers when in April 2015 they set sail from the River Charente where Lafayette boarded in March 1780, for Yorktown Port, Virginia, which includes Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. 

On board are two barrels of Hennessy Cognac to be sold in the US as in 1794, when it was an early export to the New World.

After Yorktown, the museum ship will sail up America’s east coast for two months of sailor-guided tours, educational and cultural activities and pier-side events including historic shipbuilding demos, concerts, period foods and crafts exhibitions. Port stops include: Mount Vernon, Alexandria/W.D.C., Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Greenport (NY), Newport, Boston, Castine (Maine) and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Official Website: (HERE). 

A final 4th of July parade in NYC Harbor will symbolizes the spirit of freedom and independence shared by all democracies. Video: (HERE). 

Thank you for stopping by....Happy Weekend! Rod Stewart's I Am Sailing

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beautiful Native American Prayer For Earth Day~

Great Spirit of Light, come to me out of the East with the power of the rising sun. Let there be light in my words, let there be light on my path that I walk. Let me remember always that you give the gift of a new day. And never let me be burdened with sorrow by not starting over again.

Great Spirit of Love, come to me with the power of the North. Make me courageous when the cold wind falls upon me. Give me strength and endurance for everything that is harsh, everything that hurts, everything that makes me squint. Let me move through life ready to take what comes from the north.

Great Life-Giving Spirit, I face the West, the direction of sundown. Let me remember everyday that the moment will come when my sun will go down. Never let me forget that I must fade into you. Give me a beautiful color, give me a great sky for setting, so that when it is my time to meet you, I can come with glory.

Great Spirit of Creation, send me the warm and soothing winds from the South. Comfort me and caress me when I am tired and cold. Unfold me like the gentle breezes that unfold the leaves on the trees. As you give to all the earth your warm, moving wind, give to me, so that I may grow close to you in warmth. Man did not create the web of life, he is but a strand in it. Whatever man does to the web, he does to himself.

Peaceful Healing Illuminating Gregorian Chant: (HERE).

Switzerland's Mystical Setting For Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings~

Tolkien's own Painting~

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song 
above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. 
All we have to decide is what to do with the time 
that is given to us. I wish life was not so short.” 
~J. R. R. Tolkien

At age 19, J. R. R. Tolkien was dazzled by the Swiss Valley of 72 waterfalls. There, while on a summer holiday with 12 friends they hiked from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen--the village that would later inspire settings for his Lord of the Rings. Fifty years later, he could still recall reluctantly tearing himself away...

Born on January 3, 1892 in Dorset, England Tolkien would become a university professor, poet, illustrator, author of fantasy worlds and inventor of languages. He still numbers among the 50 greatest British writers today, and among the all time top-earning deceased celebrities.

He read by age of four and could write soon after. The Fairy Books of Andrew Lang influenced him. After his beloved mother died when he was 12, her close friend Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan became guardian. Tolkien graduated from Exeter College, Oxford in 1915 earning first-class honors in English Language and Literature.

At the age of 16 he met 19-year old Edith Mary Bratt and later married her as he was shipping off to the Great War. "Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then ... it was like a death."  He boarded a troop transport to Calais composing a poem entitled, The Lonely Isle, inspired by his feelings during the sea crossing.

Tolkien arrived at the Battle of Somme in early July 1916 where all but one of his closest friends died. His son John was conceived in “The starvation-year of 1917 and the great U-Boat campaign.” It was when his wife would sing and dance for him, “...her hair raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them.’

While a professor at Pembroke College he wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings. In the 1920s, Tolkien undertook a translation of Beowulf, which he finished in 1926. His lecture: "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" had a lasting influence on Beowulf research and among former students like W.H. Auden, “...hearing you recite Beowulf. The voice was the voice of Gandalf."

Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948. From his retirement in 1959 up to his death in 1973, sales of his books were so robust that he regretted not having retired earlier. He loved the simple life of the English countryside where he rode a bicycle around their seaside resort village of Bournemouth that they delighted in sharing with their children and grandchildren. 

He died on September 2, 1973, nearly two years after his wife, and was buried in the grave with her. His Lord of the Rings remains among the most popular works of the 20th century...

Monday, April 20, 2015


I'm grateful for beautiful, life enhancing places like
Carmel-by-the-Sea where I live and Martha's Vineyard above...
I'm grateful for beautiful people like Audrey Hepburn...who
survived the very worst of WWII and went on to enchant the world..
I'm grateful for animals, especially for my cat, Lilli....
For heroines like Jackie~    
I'm grateful for U.C.L.A.
                For mythic places like Mont Saint-Michel~
For Jerry Gervase's generous piece about my blog.....
For books and the arts...
For good friends and wine~
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
~ ~ ~
Health professionals say that gratitude will rid you of stress, make you healthier, happier, more spiritual, resilient, and relaxed, will boost self-esteem, improve your energy and sleep, and will make you more attractive. They report that grateful people exercise more, have better relationships, are more productive, optimistic, stronger, and more successful.

With all those benefits, why not jot down 20+ things you're most grateful for and add to your list for each of the final 10 days of this month. And then assess the difference it makes. My list:

1.  I'm always most grateful for my son...
2.  For nature and living on the California coast...
3.  For life enhancing books, music, films...
4.  For my heroes that include Saint Joan of Arc, Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, my high school art teacher Sister Cabrini...
5.  For loving fitness and exercise, years of jogging, power walks, skiing, hiking, sailing, tennis, golf, dancing 
6.  For my landlord, Hans, a true prince. If everyone were like him, the world would be an infinitely better place...
7.  For being a lifelong Francophile...
8.  For having attended and worked for UCLA, and for my UCLA friends...
9.  For having managed $1B+ in design/construction projects, for the thousands met, and the places visited...
10. I'm grateful to have held a stock broker's license, and to have worked for a Wall Street firm...
11. For my cat, Lilli, a treasure...
12. I'm grateful for those who hone a craft; singers, dancers, actors, builders, painters, gardeners, street artists, poets, makers...
14. For my parents, grandmother, aunt, brother, my son's father...all deceased, their memories are enriching...
15. For my professors and instructors in writing, film, and design classes...who made me wish I could be in a classroom forever...
16. For simplicity, cleanliness, order, ...
17. I'm grateful for diversity and uniqueness, which is a reason we love films, books, music, stories, art, architecture, and design as ways of seeing from another perspective, with new understanding...
18. I'm grateful for this beautiful complex planet and for all who value and protect it. 
19. For organic agriculture and those who create healthy food and wines...
20. For my blog and for YouThanks so much for stopping by: HERE 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The First Zillionaires Wine Club~

The house next to Gloria's Fairytale House Come True~
Here on the Monterey Coast~
Northern California Coastal Wines~

Carmel Valley Boutique Wines~

Monterey Coast's Exciting Foodie and Wine Culture: (HERE)
“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life.... if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.” 
~Roald Dahl

We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams...
~ ~ ~
What we most need in life is a sustaining, empowering belief that allows us to realize who we truly are.  

My best friend in life was Gloria. She was a Harvard MBA, a beautiful pianist, an artist with sparkling brown eyes. She spoke French before she spoke English. We met when we were in the Santa Barbara Symphony League together creating events that raised money for music vans in schools, and provided free tickets to performance at the Holidays for children who would otherwise miss out.

She lived adjacent to the Santa Barbara Mission, and would describe her spiritual need to have a home with French doors onto a Juliet balcony over the sea. It was as if she wanted to store up the sight of as many full moons and starry nights to take with her into eternity. As if it were an answer to an embedded memory connected with a love from another lifetime. This was her constant echo of belief. It was an imperative to find it.

Years later, she was up the coast and spied a house with a "For Sale" sign and went in. It was the materialization of what she’d envisioned for years. She did buy the home. It did change her life. She was where she belonged with her days revolved around the sea. She could sit for hours and just stare out. She found harmony and beauty, joy and peace. These overflowed her life and she shared them with others.

People in the small neighborhood called it The Fairytale House. We’d sit on the front patio with music playing, the seagulls soaring white and graceful against the blue sky, neighbors strolling to the beach would wave cheerily as they passed-by. Our eyes would return again and again to the Sun glittering gold and pink on the blue sea that stretched to infinity...  

We’d sip pre-dinner wine and we laughed all the time. And we decided we must have a secret name for our wine club of two. “The Zillionaires Wine Club.” 

Zillionaires is the TRUTH of who we all truly are...and we must remember that especially with The 1% driven to enslave and monetize everything and everyone... 

Our Universe has an estimated 100-300 billion Galaxies. Our own Milky Way Galaxy exceeds 300 billion stars. In the entire 4.5 billion year history of Earth only 107 billion people have lived--including the 7.2 billion people alive on the planet today. And when the likelihood of any of us being born exceeds all those 300 billions of stars in each of the 300 billion galaxies in our Cosmos.  

Wine arose in the ancient cradle of civilization--a sacred, healthful drink of friendship, celebration, and sacrament...

Empowering belief reminds each of us who we truly are, based on the miraculous chance of our birth in the immensity of eternity and for this brief time on earth...

You factually ARE a Zillionaire. And everyone else is, too. May that awareness seep into your DNA, your heart, your bones, to enrich and empower you. MJ's Earth Song...(HERE). Happy, Happy weekend...