Friday, May 8, 2015

Lunch With A Prince And Farewell To All Of That~

The details are not the details. They make the design ~ Charles Eames

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching ~ Swami Sivananda

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind ~ Albert Einstein

To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
~ ~ ~

Yesterday was my landlord’s birthday and I invited him to lunch at The Paris Cafe...over in Old Monterey...a lively place long owned by a French family. Next to us was a table of beautifully dressed people laughing and speaking in Russian.

My landlord is a tall, handsome, kind, generous and affirming man who hosts dinner parties for his countless friends. He’s traveled and read widely, has written two books, gives a good deal of his time to his church and feeding the hungry, and loves and admires his brother who lives in NYC. His eyes shine when he speaks of him. He has a charming Bavarian chalet and a beautiful lady love who just returned from a 3-month cruise where they conducted pirate drills on board! It’s a new world, folks...

Hans was born in Germany. When he was in elementary school he and his parents and brother left their homeland as Hitler rattled war sabers. For a time they lived in Albania on the Adriatic Coast...and where Hans’ father was surgeon to the King. They came to America landing in NYC and then motored along the California Coast...from Laguna Beach to Carmel-by-the-Sea where Hans eventually settled after obtaining his Harvard MBA.

I asked him about his mother, who was a doctor though she didn’t work after her two boys were born. The picture he painted conjured a woman whom I knew and greatly admired at Stanford. Also German and a doctor--quietly beautiful, precise, lean, with a cultivated voice and graceful mind that revealed itself in her every move. I could not convey in words how lovely Ursula was because she was as lithe as a breeze, or the sparkle on water.

Hans recalled that when he’d return home from school in the afternoon there would be a freshly peeled and carefully sectioned orange for him that his mother had also lightly sprinkled with sugar...

God is in the details...and that detail reveals a lot about his mother’s style of mothering. Hans also expresses that kind of life-affirmative attention in everything he does. When a person pays affirmative attention they are adding value, enhancing, enriching. Genuinely affirmative people have magic. Think Audrey Hepburn, also born in May, and one of the most life affirmative people who ever a result the world was enchanted.

The planet is jam-packed with things we do not need more of: bombs, apps, plastic, garish boxes of cancer-causing fake GMO food cluttering grocery shelves, trillion-dollar bombers, horrifying levels of materialism and greed...

What the world needs more of is life-affirmative people. My lunch with ‘the Prince of Albania’ reminded me...that being affirmative is a do-it-yourself project that enriches everything and everyone.


I started this blog 7-years ago approximately around July 23rd...the day my brother tragically died...and then our parents died soon after. It has been a source of healing...and I hope it's added some value. I didn't have a clue about how to design a site, nor a commercial plan for it, it's reflected what interests me...and there is so much I'd love to continue to share. 

But if my book is to be published on July 23rd...I need to be focused...and also concentrate on creating a new site that's about what I want to devote myself to for the rest of my life. If you'd like to stay in touch...please friend me on FB. 

Thank you so much for visiting here. I wish you and your loved ones abundant health and all the riches of life...

Happy Birthday Weekend to Hans. Happy Mother’s Day to all. God Speed and love from Carmel-by-the-Sea ;) (HERE).

JFK and Jackie Among Most Admired of the 20th Century~

In Paris for the 1962 dinner at Versailles~Jackie speaking
to a Paris reporter: (here). She charmed the French government--into 
allowing the Mona Lisa to leave France to visit America!
Kicking off Joe Q. Public's love affair with art: (here).

On their porch in Hyannis
JFK has been gone longer than the years he was alive, and it's been 21 years since Jackie was buried at his side. And yet, they remain the #3 and #12 on Gallup’s list of “The Most Respected 18-People of the 20th Century”. 

Once, on a business trip to Boston with a late afternoon free--I went out to the JFK Library. A sign on the glass door said the facility was closed for a private event.  

Disappointed and about to turn away, I spotted JFK’s longtime aide, Dave Powers, and gave a little wave. When he opened the door—I managed to get myself invited along on his “Friend’s of the Library” tour for my first visit. 

At a vitrine of early pictures, Powers spoke about how utterly crushed Jack had been over his sister Kick's death at age 28 in a plane crash in France. He said that Jackie reminded him of his favorite sister.

Powers mentioned that Jack studied the “Meditations” of the “good” Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. I read them soon after and saw similarities in style.

While in WDC we visited his grave, saw their official portraits in the White House, related exhibitions at the Smithsonian and then strolled around their Georgetown neighborhoods. On a trip to the Cape we saw their home at Hyannis. And in NYC stopped by Jackie’s apartment building at 1040 5th. Later, I met Caroline Kennedy in San Francisco. 

My impression was that while JFK and Jackie were beloved ambassadors of America around the world--passionately intent on making positive contributions--what they loved best was simply being with their family at their modest home on the sea. Dave Powers said that Jack loved to sing "September Song" around the piano every Thanksgiving in Hyannis: (here).

A Few Quotes From Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations"~

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love. Dwell on the beauty of life. Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.”

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and find strength. Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking. The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” 

“Live a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. Keep an untroubled spirit. Look things in the face and know them for what they are. The best revenge is not to be like your enemy. Worthy forbearance is good fortune.” 

“True good fortune is what you make for yourself"~

“Take full account of what excellencies you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not. Misfortune nobly born is good fortune, strength and honor.” 

“If you do the task before you always adhering to strict reason with zeal and energy and yet with humanity then the good life shall be yours. And from this course no man has the power to hold you back. Always reflect that soon you will be no one, and nowhere.” 

“Meditate upon what you ought to be in body and soul when death overtakes you; meditate on the brevity of life, and the measureless gulf of eternity behind it and before, and upon the frailty of everything material.” 

“Never forget that the universe is a single living organism possessed of one substance and one soul, holding all things suspended in a single consciousness and creating all things with a single purpose that they might work together spinning and weaving and knotting whatever comes to pass.” 

“Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig. Kindness is unconquerable…Do every act of your life as if it were your last. To live happily is an inward power of the soul.” 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Prosperity Sterling~

Yesterday was a blue-sky day here in Carmel-by-the-Sea...the forest vividly green and full of birdsong, the waves crashing on the cat outside where I can keep my eye on her from my upstairs desk...she knows not to leave the yard... 

I was researching a move to Switzerland and thinking about renaming my protagonist Prosperity Sterling, although she'd mostly go by her middle-name, Alexa. And was also weighing adding a sub-plot based on the international shenanigans surrounding precious metals...

Gold and silver prices are kept artificially low in order to maintain the relative high valuation of the USD against other currencies. In the meantime, China and Russia are amassing historic physical stores of the precious metals, as they concurrently bolster the BRICS. Many believe their intent is to orchestrate a wipe-out crash of the USD in a manner that minimizes blow-back in their economies--which is tricky due to the house of cards interlinking of $1.4 quadrillion derivatives. Many believe there are many multiples of this number reported by the International Bank of Clearings in Basel, Switzerland--which BTW has decoupled from the EU and reverted to its national currency. An ultimate FUBAR situation when the planet's total GWP is somewhat south of US$90 trillion.

The USD's status as the world's reserve currency with OPEC trading in dollars is what made, and kept, the US rich. Remove that reserve status and US could slip into a Greece/Venezuela scenario. If China, Russia, and the BRICS trade amongst themselves they can forgo using the USD. And if they stockpile gold then they somewhat protect their state currencies.

Why would Russia-China want to ditch the global reserve currency and thus crash the USD? Fact is that much of the world is fed-up with the US wars and strong-arming. A scenario like this is not beyond the realm of possibility, and in which case gold and silver prices would sky-rocket. To me silver has the most most potential upside-and thus storing physical silver should pay-off. It's currently $16.39 with a high of $49.99 in January 1980, and it's readily spendable in a USD emergency that renders the dollar virtually worthless, if it does indeed end as the reserve currency.

So I became lost in thinking about this. When I finally looked-up--no Lili. I leapt out on the deck and clapped which is Lili's signal to come in. No Lili. I searched all over the yard and out on the front deck. Then went around the neighbor clapping like a nut and calling for Lili. No white fur ball on the horizon. Panic set in as it was 5PM...cats outside at night disappear due to raccoons and the occasional bobcat...or become disoriented in the forest. Lili is lacking in survival skills. 

I was taking a bike down in the garage intending to ride around looking for her when I hear a guilty sounding 'mew' and look around to a filthy white cat. "LILI!" She high-tailed indoors where she got a bath and a scolding. In cat years, I realized, sweet Lili is a teen...   

Adorable father and four-year old sing, 'Tonight You Belong To Me'~ (HERE)  Happy Week...and thanks so much for stopping by....

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bonne Fête du Muguet~!

Bonne Fête du Muguet! Today in France everyone wears or gives sprays of Lily-of-the-Valley--and can also sell bouquets of the charming flowers on this special day without a business license. It's so cheery to waltz around seeing people festive, crowding the parks, dining out, and exchanging Jackie Kennedy's favorite blooms. She always kept a fresh vase on hand--perhaps having  discovered the holiday tradition instituted by French King Charles IX while she was studying for a year at the Sorbonne.

May the fairy flowers bring you luck as they are meant to do! A free version of Meg Ryan and Kevin Klein starring in “French Kiss”...(HERE). Happy Le Weekend! Thanks so much for stopping by...!

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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...