Perspective

“Retired,” says the LinkedIn profile of a law school classmate . “Retired!” I immediately write in my message to this man I haven’t seen in 30 years. “Not fair! I want to be retired. I’m jealous … you won.”

I’ve been longing to retire for at least a decade by now, to replace billable hours with something more enjoyable. Jealous he’d achieved that status before me, I thought back to the competition we’d had against one another through all three years of law school, taking turns being Number One. His LinkedIn profile seemed like a taunt — telling me that he had the final win.

He wrote back today. Yes, he said, he had retired. Because an illness had nearly killed him, and made him to sick to hold his job.

Oh.

I wish I could take back what I’d said. Instead I craft a reply that apologizes for my thoughtlessness, knowing that no matter what I say it will not be quite enough to make things right.

Now I know how lucky I am not to be retired, when not working is forced upon me by my body giving out. I feel both stupid and lucky, embarrassed and grateful. Fortunate to have the ability to work, terrible to hear of his illness, relieved he’s on the mend, and reminded that the grass is not always greener on the other side.


Strolling Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs at daybreak

Our 6 a.m. walks are one of the best parts of my day these days. The weather is perfect, the sun just up, the breeze still with a hint of coolness from the last remnants of evening, few people out and about, so little need to wear the mask I carry at all times. We live 1/2 mile up the hill from the start of Sunset Cliffs. Ideal at sunset, obviously, but beautiful in the morning as well.

From Gentle Chirps to Loud Squawks

The Parrots of Point Loma
A Pigeon Enjoys the View

The wild parrots that frequent our area were out in force at dawn, squawking to bring in the new day. We passed several of them on our way down the hill, and two in particular flew close enough to touch, then perched on a tree branch to give me an opportunity to admire them before flying off in a search for food. The parrots are a colorful addition to the neighborhood, and noisy as heck at sunrise and sunset. No melodious tunes from their throats, but they are a joy to look at and it’s just cool to have them perch nearby, so unexpected among the softer grey and brown birds I typically see.

Music and Movement

When we made our way down the hill to the cliffs, there were only a few people about. One of them, which you can barely see in the photo below, had found a quiet spot just over the water and was playing his guitar. The tune didn’t carry far enough for me to hear, but it was magical nonetheless. A few steps further a woman had set up her yoga mat and was practicing by herself. I often say I’m going to bring my mat down, but am too embarrassed to do so knowing others will be watching. One day I’m going to be unselfconscious enough to enjoy the breeze and beauty of an ocean-side practice without worrying what other people think.

Guitar in hand
What better place to practice yoga than this?

My Partners in Crime

My Walking Buddies … and Much, Much More!

My husband, a huge Earth, Wind and Fire fan, patiently waited for me to walk down closer to the water, to breath in the ocean air, to be close enough to be feel the power and energy of the crashing waves, to fill me up for the day ahead. Our dog was not so patient for my picture-taking, but is the most wonderful dog in the world. A rescue from Tijuana, she is loving and kind and doesn’t let the big dogs bully her but never acts aggressive toward others (except, for some inexplicable reason, our postman).

Admiring My Neighbors’ Yards

An English Garden in San Diego
Succulents
More typical of San Diego, Bougainvillea
A shady resting place
Spotted down a dirt alley – my Georgia O’Keeffe moment of the morning

On the way back up the hill, I enjoyed capturing images of my neighbor’s yards. Some are filled with roses and picket fences and remind me of the English countryside. Others are wooded, with beautiful shade trees looking serene and stately at the same time. About half are more typical of southern California, with bougainvillea climbing the fence, and succulents displaying a water-wise landscaping encouraged in our climate. My favorite this morning was the cactus growing in the back of a house under construction down our dirt alley. Easily missed, but with a solitary beauty.

Signs Along the Way

I love that love conquers suspicion in this sign
most people ignore this message
Yes. 1,000 times Yes.
The virus has not gone away, and I’m so grateful to all those who risk their lives for us

Finally, I noted the signs along the way. From graffiti on a Neighborhood Watch sign to a generally ignored warning not to feed the birds. My favorite is the brightly colored Justice for All’s wisdoms, and the gratitude expressed in a thank-you for those risking their lives.

It was only about 3,900 steps on my way to 10,752 so far, but with much to experience along the way. The more I remind myself to pay attention — to think about what sounds I hear, what sights I see, what smells I notice — the more aware I am of each step I take along the way in my one wild and precious life, the more I love and appreciate my day.

Wishing you many beautiful walks in your neighborhood!


Parlez-Vous Français?

The first time I tried to learn French was in high school. It was my favorite class, but not because of the subject matter or the teacher but because my best friends were in it with me. We delighted in entertaining ourselves and not in doing the hard work of learning a foreign language, no matter how much I dreamed of traveling to and living in France. Nonetheless I managed to learn enough in high school to coast through the semester of French in college. It was easy, and I got in the habit of not studying.

About half-way through the second semester, with the class now conducted entirely in French, I first realized that I had absolutely no idea what was being said. I could not answer a single one of the questions the teacher directed at me with anything other than “Je ne sais pas!” It was true. I did not know. I did not know anything. And at this point I was lost.

Rather than doubling-down, as I should have done, or hiring a tutor, which would have been another brilliant idea, I simply fumbled my way through the rest of the year, barely seeking out a passing grade, my standard answer for all questions in or about French remaining the same — je ne sais pas, I do not know.

But one thing I do know is that I love France. Walking the cobblestone streets of Paris, spending the day in the Cluny Museum and the next one in the Louvre. Exploring the Dordogne region, from ancient cave drawings to medieval castles to the gorgeous wines produced there. Soaking in the depiction of life in 1066 through inspecting the Bayeux Tapestry, or walking the beaches of D-Day in Normandy. I love it all.

So, after ignoring the golden opportunities of my high school and college classes, I decided in my 40s to try again, this time with Rosetta Stone. Then, in my 50s, with the podcast “Coffee Break French,” and, at 58, through my local university’s extension courses . Again, in frustration, I gave up. But I have re-started my efforts yet again. Now, at 60, I listen each day for 30 minutes to Pimsleur and I diligently add on teaching myself from “French: Learn in 4 Simple Steps” to get the grammar right as well. It is so hard! I am determined to finally get this right. To one day be smart enough to understand the question being asked of me in French, and brave enough to risk ridicule for mispronouncing the words to answer with something other than Je ne sais pas. I will know. I do know. Je sais…allons-Y!


Edinburgh Memories

Edinburgh
The Adventure Begins!

A year ago I drafted this post — the intent being to journal during my 10-day trip to Scotland and England, a trip made to attend TEDSummit Edinburgh.  I had intended to add more photos, and in the end I got so busy I never wrote another blog post after the first day, and never posted the one below. Even though it’s now a year old and I won’t be doing any traveling anytime soon, I thought I’d post it now. It’s nice in this time of self-quarantine to remember the lovely trips I have made over the years, and when my biggest travel worry was whether or not my flight would make it off before a rainstorm.

A gamble — re-route, or risk it?

An email from Delta arrived the night before our departure, advising that weather may play havoc with our flight and offering to waive fees if we wanted to re-route or cancel our flight to JFK.  It was the night before a long-planned trip to Scotland, when all airports on the Eastern seaboard were light up red, so re-routing didn’t seem like a promising option, and cancelling was not in the cards.  We risked it, our flight took off amid lightening just in front of the worst of the thunderstorm, and seven hours and one Ambien later we arrived in rain-soaked, historic Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Power of Facebook
Fancy Meeting You Here!

You Never Know Who You’ll Find!

Just before take-off, browsing Facebook one more time before I lost my connection, I saw that Kim, a woman I’d worked with two years ago and hadn’t seen since, was in Edinburgh as well. One text exchange later, we shook off our jet lag long enough to meet up with her family just a few blocks from our Airbnb. We hadn’t seen each other in San Diego for years, yet through the magic of Facebook posts we managed to reconnect while both of us were passing through Scotland, and I met her (wonderful) family for the first time.

Our Airbnb Entrance
Welcome Home!

A short walk along a cobblestone lane led to our Airbnb for the week, a one-bedroom unit in a Georgian townhome in New Town that is perfect. It’s quiet yet a 5-minute walk from a variety of restaurants, a grocery store, a pharmacy, pubs, whiskey bars, the Leith Walk, the Convention Center and more! Our living room is fit for a Queen, and it will be a shame if we leave before having some new-found friends over for a drink and conversation around the fireplace.

Living Room in our Airbnb
Our Living Room for the Week

We quickly unpacked and settled into our comfy bed and settled in for a well-deserved sleep before the Pre-TED event hosted by Virgin Money scheduled for the next day.

Pre-TEDSummit Gathering, aka “Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You”

TEDSummit Pre-Gathering
TEDxsters

Richard organized us for a pre-TEDSummit gathering to get to know one another before the huge group arrives later in the week, and we spent the morning introducing ourselves and bonding and preparing for the week ahead. Thank you Virgin Money for sponsoring and Richard for organizing! I snuck out for a Book Lover’s Tour over lunch, and only after we started walking to our first stop did I realize that I’d done this very same tour four years earlier. Oh well! I know should be very well-versed in the locations associated with Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, and the cafe where J.K. Rowling sat to write. After the walk I toured the Writers’ Museum with its exhibits on the aforementioned Robert Louis Stevenson as well as Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Inspired, I made a pit stop at Waterstone’s Book Shop and then met my husband for dinner at Makar’s – The Gourmet Mash Bar Company. They have a full menu of mashed potatoes, a great selection of beers, and won UK TripAdvisor Best Everyday Restaurant 2018. Go in and check it out!


Park City Adventures

“Hey Graham, big problem,” my husband texts his Park City, Utah friend during last July’s visit to the mountains. “I need a good burger, but it has to have a gluten-free bun. It’s an emergency … please help!”

“Ha! Forget the gluten-free,” Graham’s replied. ” Go to Road Island Diner in Oakley.  Worth the drive and in addition to the best burger around, you get an awesome shake.”

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And We Are Off!

And with that we were off, on a 27-minute scenic drive from Park City to Oakley, Utah for dinner at the diner.  It was a gorgeous drive and at the end of it a gem of a restaurant.  Not only did we enjoy juicy diner burgers with hand-cut fries, but the gluten-free was not forgotten.  In fact, it was a gluten-free heaven, the menu filled with gluten-free options, from Mac & Cheese to meatloaf, and more.

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A Burger & Fries with a Side of History

You didn’t have to be avoiding wheat to enjoy the dinner, especially if you enjoy a side of nostalgia with your food.  Because the restaurant is the beautifully renovated diner #1107, which rolled off the assembly line of the leading diner manufacturer in 1939, complete with green Italian marble countertops, Tiffany glass clerestory windows and hand laid quarry tiled flooring.  It was so special, in fact, that the diner was showcased in the 1939 World’s Fair.

After serving diners in Fall River, Mass. for 14 years, the diner traveled to Middletown, R.I. and was rebranded as “Tommy’s Deluxe Diner.”  During that phase of its life the diner was featured on Charles Osgood’s CBS Sunday Morning show, along with many other appearances on TV.

Finally, in 2007, they transported the diner across the country to Oakley, Utah, and its new owners carefully renovated it back to its original condition with love and lots of money.  The only modern additions are flat TVs, air conditioning, and tabletop remote jukeboxes.  And who doesn’t like TV, A/C and table-side song selections?

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You can read all about the history, the menu and operating hours here: https://roadislanddiner.com. As an added bonus the people who work at the diner are  friendly and welcoming, and the food is delicious.  And my husband did not forget the milkshake — giving it a 5 star review.

healthy red lifestyle fruit
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

With the pandemic, it may be closed at the moment, so please call ahead.

Summer in the City … Park City

And do head for a visit… not only to the Road Island Diner but also to Park City, Utah.  Because the diner is only one of many treasures to enjoy in the area all year long.  For years we made the mistake of visiting only in the winter, spending our trip entirely on the mountain.  Skiing is a blast, don’t get me wrong, but coming only for ski season meant I was missing out on so much else.  I’ve met many people here who came to Park City to ski, but that it was a visit during the summer or fall that caused them to fall in love with the area and decide to make it their home.  It is definitely a four-season wonderland — so plan your next trip, for this fall!


Rediscovering Park City … in the Summer

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Those runs you careen down on your skis or snowboard during Park City and Deer Valley winters?  They are just as fun in the summer, whether on a mountain bike (a little fast for me) or on your own two feet.  We’re spending three weeks in July getting a taste of all the area has to offer in the summer, and having a blast.

In fact, biking and hiking are only two ways of getting down the trails at Park City — ziplines, an Alpine coaster and an Alpine slide are options as well.  Purchase tickets for single rides (which are pricey) or buy an all-day Alpine pass and take advantage of not only those but many other activities for families, including minature golf.  Purchase your all-day Alpine Pass online by 10 p.m. the night before for a 10% discount.  For shorter lines try going early, or midweek.

The ride to the top for the Alpine slide is leisurely  … but that leaves plenty of time to soak in the scenery.  And get your Go Pro ready to record the action as you prepare to zoom your way downhill.  Or clip your phone to your shirt and record a video to make sure your downhill slide is recorded to show off to your friends later.  Kids and adults alike love the ride, and one good and somewhat unique feature is that each cart is individually controlled by you, the rider.  So push the lever back to brake if you feel you’re going too fast, or forward to enjoy the full experience … you have complete control over the speed.  I recommend that you go for it — the  carts will stay on the track so let go and have a great trip down.

After you tire of the slide make your way a few yards over to the Alpine Coaster, also at the Park City base and included in the all-day pass or as a single-ticket ride.  We have to return to try the coaster, as despite clear blue skies the ride was halted for a 30-minute wait because of a lightning strike within 10 miles.  And then 29 minutes into our wait what occurred but a second lightning strike — thus re-setting the clock for another 30-minute wait.  Not wanting to spend any more of our afternoon in line, we headed downhill for dinner.  Fortunately, even though they didn’t have to, the resort refunded the cost of the all-day pass and charged us only for what we actually had been able to ride, and the restaurant gave us a discount as well, to ensure everyone left feeling good about the experience.  We did!  Below is a photo of some people who were able to enjoy the Alpine coaster, which we look forward to enjoying next week.

alpine coasterThe next day, as we headed out on another adventure we couldn’t help but notice a large Farmers Market in the Cabriolet parking lot.  Despite having a full refrigerator back at our townhouse, I couldn’t resist stopping by.  And I’m so glad we did.  We picked up onions too beautiful to resist, and corn that cooked on the grill that night per a Bobby Flay recipe (10 minute salt water soak) was the most delicious corn on the cob I have ever had.  We rounded out the veggies with some garlic scape pesto, grass-fed beef, beefsteak tomatoes and lemon pepper seasoning, all of which I can highly recommend.

The Park City Farmer’s Market takes place at Park City Resort Canyons (Off Highway 224) every Wednesday from 12-6 pm, starting the first Wednesday of June until the last Wednesday of October each year. Each week you’ll find a huge assortment of fresh local goods from Utah Farmers and vendors, usually organic.  It’s a don’t miss!

farmers market

Thursday we headed out for some easy hikes (or walks, which is more my speed).  Using our Alpine Pass a few days earlier we had riden the Gondola at Canyons Village up to a few trails, but this time we were looking for walks that did not require riding a lift (or a very long and steep climb uphill).  In the Bear Claw area we found Rob’s Trail, which was a great choice with moderate incline and plenty of shade.  We stopped after a mile but there are many options for longer hikes through a variety of connected trails, with good maps located at trailhead to point you in the right direction.

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Sunday morning was dedicated to “white water rafting” — although “white water” is somewhat of a misnomer — on the Weber River.  It’s Class II, mainly, so no wild rides, but very fun for everyone and a great way to spend a few hours in nature.  We went with All Seasons Adventures and they did a great job of ensuring everyone stayed safe while having a great time.  Sunday afternoon the Weber River fills with tubers, which makes maneuvering a raft quite the challenge, so we recommend the morning trip or going on another day.  The guides played Tuber Bingo, looking for the predictable “Rafter Walking Back” after someone tries to ride an inflated porpoise or swan down the Class II drop and ends up with mouths full of water (in addition to the porpoise and swan we saw a giant inflated duck that the man was somehow admirably managing to stay upright on).

all seasons rafting

Of course, our favorite way to start and end every Park City day is sitting on our deck, enjoying the sounds of the creek while we barbecue some fish or burgers (and Farmers Market corn!) and wind down with a glass of wine.   And then a stint in the jacuzzi on the deck, watching the squirrels and counting the stars and our blessings each night.

We hope you’ll make plans to visit the Park City area this summer or next.  And if you do, you’ll find either of our two townhouses comfortable, welcoming, and conveniently located to every place you want to go.


The best part of my hometown? Brick

There’s a lot I don’t like about Tyler.  For a little town so full of Evangelical churches, the odd thing it seemed most to be missing was soul.  Tyler may be the Rose Capital of the World, home to the Rose Festival and the Rose Gardens and the fancy dress-up Rose Festival, but it isn’t the roses, no matter how sweet the smell, that pretty-up the oh-so-conservative town where no out-of-state plaintiff ever wants to find itself (but that’s another story).  No.  What gives Tyler its character, what constitutes, in my mind, its saving grace, is one residential area near downtown where the streets are made of brick.  Worn, deep red bricks, slick after the rain, bumpy to drive along, beautiful.  Tyler named those 29 blocks of brick a historic district and is determined to protect them, which makes my heart smile.  There’s an article about the almost 14 miles of brick streets, here.

The small, tree-shaded neighborhoods blessed with the brick streets give another gift to the town’s character.  The homes in this neighborhood feature wide and deep lawns of St. Augustine grass that provide the perfect backdrop for explosions of pink and white and red azaleas that every March burst forth their blossoms in an effort to make their brick streets proud.  Teenage girls dressed in pastel antebellum skirts carry parasols and pose for photos during the Azalea Trail each year, but the Southern Belles are outdone by the beauty that nature plus those brick streets provide.

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A few blocks away the asphalt paving threatens to overtake, with its easier and cheaper maintenance beckoning tax-conscious Texans.  If you don’t know where to look, you could easily thing the whole town is that same, conventional, asphalt paved, suburban subdivision, soulless place.  But drive near downtown, feel the bumps of the bricks, and luxuriate in those few blocks where brick has created character that prove beauty can be found anywhere.


Flourish

A joyful word, flourish.

Brings up images of spreading joy, gardens blooming profusely, joyous children — barefoot, eyes closed, spinning until they crumple in a heap on the grass in laughter.

Just as easily it can be turned around.  Pair it with “evil” and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem as nice.

Anything can flourish.  Good, evil, joy, heartbreak, love, hate … it depends on what you pair it with. It depends on what you focus on.  It’s a glass-half full test — do you look at the naked word “flourish” standing alone and conceive that within it are the seeds of despair?  Or do you see good starting from one space and growing, spreading, expanding, touching the sad, the heartbroken, the lonely and bringing light to their lives?

I’m sticking with joy.  Mind over matter, directing my thoughts, focusing my energy on what’s good, so that the little sparks of life and laughter and freedom and love and joy will spread, will embrace, will flourish.

Even when I can think of nothing to say, I will blog.  I will respond to the Prompt of the Day, today and everyday, just as I brush my teeth and dress myself and eat (even when I sworn the night before I am only going to have juice tomorrow, or fast — I still eat), every day.  I will grow, create, expand, blog.  I will  …

flourish.

 

 


A Day In Baltimore

Baltimore Harbor

Baltimore Harbor

Jack & I spent the weekend in Baltimore for his niece’s wedding. The little non-wedding time we had we made the most of, exploring. We stayed in a very cute B&B, the INN at 2920, which comes complete with everything from breakfast to a beta fish. The hosts are thoughtful and there are many nice extra touches to make you feel at home. And it’s just a block from Canton’s Square with a variety of bars and restaurants close enough to easily walk to but far enough away not to create noise.

Below is a photo of the lobby, where there is a cooler filled with fruit and soft drinks.  Up a short flight of stairs is the dining area where they serve you a delicious breakfast in the morning, and a small library with some books you can borrow during your trip.  It was one more flight up to our room.

The lobby of our B&B just off Canton's Square in Baltimore

The lobby of our B&B just off Canton’s Square in Baltimore

We had lunch at Plug Ugly in Canton Square, and I highly recommend it.  I had some very hot and crispy fries that hit the spot, and I almost tried the house specialty cocktail because it sounded delicious but also highly dangerous (I counted at least five kinds of alcohol). Maybe next time!

Lunching at Plug Ugly's

As part of my wedding preparations I also had a manicure at a little salon just off Canton’s Square, which was lovely.

Friday morning we explored the harbor and the Aquarium which, even though I’m not a huge fan of aquariums general, was one of the nicest ones I’ve ever seen (similar to the great one in Monterey, California).  There was one area with at least 20 exhibits of different types of jellyfish, from tiny to some with tentacles that could reach as far as 200 feet.  And, whatever the size, gorgeous.


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I’m not keen on seeing them when I’m in the water WITH them, but when they are safely behind glass I find jellies fascinating.

There were plenty of other fish to see at the Aquarium, of course, including this really cool shrimp …

Shrimp

and a dolphin exhibit that reminded me of SeaWorld.

After our time with the fish we spent some time in another of my favorite activities … shopping! There were plenty of shops from which to choose, and J Crew was having a sale, so I would say the day was a definite success.

The next morning we made it out to Fort McHenry, and we felt fortunate to be there the week after the 200th anniversary celebration.  (Apparently there were huge crowds the week prior, for the actual anniversary celebration, which I wasn’t sad to have missed.)

Of course I’ve heard The Star Spangled Banner hundreds of times and have heard the story about the writing of the song as well, and in truth I put Fort McHenry on my “to do” list because I love history, but I wasn’t anticipating much.  It exceeded my expectations — you enter into a small room where they show a video retelling the story of the battle Francis Scott Key witnessed and, at the end, the screen disappears and you have a perfectly framed view of the huge American flag just as he saw it “at the dawn’s early light.”  It brought out the patriotic bones in my body and if you looked closely you might have seen a tear in my eyes.

The Star Spangled Banner

To be there and see the relationship between the river and the Fort makes you appreciate the story much more.  The tour of the Fort was worthwhile; I hadn’t had any idea that it once served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, as well as holding Southern sympathizers and political prisoners.  In the rooms of the Fort they have exhibits from the various time periods, including the beds from when prisoners were held here, rooms set up as they were for the officers, etc.  From 1917 until 1923 the U.S. Army hospital was housed here to serve WWI veterans, before it eventually became a National Park.

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Jack was a little tired of all the touring, so he enjoyed the benches the Fort so thoughtfully scatters around its site.

Resting at Fort McHenry

After that it was all wedding, all the time.  So while there are plenty of other sites of interest in Baltimore, we had to save them for a follow-up trip.  And our little taste of Baltimore definitely left us interested in exploring more.  Until next time!


Replacing Work with Joy … from Rollerblading

Life is Short

Life is Short

Rollerblading along the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach boardwalk was my favorite thing when I found myself at 37 divorced, supporting an ex-husband and two small children by putting in long hours at an international law firm, in search of love … the sense of freedom it gave me was the best thing in my life besides my amazing, beautiful children, and every weekend they spent with their Dad I spent rollerblading along the Bay.

Flying Down The Boardwalk

Flying Down The Boardwalk

But I haven’t put on my rollerblades for way too many years.   And as much as I value the spiritual over the material, the way I spend the time God gave me in this life suggests the opposite.  I say I value relationship and service and Things That Really Matter but I spend most of the hours of my day on the things that decidedly do not.

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Then a Facebook friend posted this video from the New York Times about Slomo.

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Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve been to the Boardwalk that I don’t recall ever having seen him there, and boy have I missed out.  Slomo has it right.  The freedom and joy of his spirit shines through, as does his bravery, his not caring that instead of the respect the world showed him as a successful doctor he now has people talking about him, wondering if he is a crazy homeless man or just crazy.  He doesn’t care, because he is simply enjoying filling each day he has left with wonder and joy, spending it doing what he loves.

Here I sit, 10 minutes from the Boardwalk with my rollerblades packed up who-knows-where with no excuse for not putting them on other than knowing that (i) my feet will ache at first, (ii) I’m very out-of-shape, and (iii) I don’t see where I’ll find the time.  What I’d forgotten was not just how much fun it was to rollerblade at the Beach, but also how much rollerblading along the Bay enriched my life.

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Thank you, Slomo, for the reminder.  I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.