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Phoning in a Blog: Paris Flora

7 Dec

Happy Sunday.

I thought it might be fun (just cause) to see what happens when I write and post a blog using only my smart phone. I am sure in the not too distant future these phones will be capable of actually composing the blogs for me, but thank goodness that day has not yet arrived.

To keep things simple (for me) I am posting a photo blog. Fewer words means fewer wrestling matches with auto current correct.

Plus, I don’t always post blogs on Sundays, but when I do, I prefer to post Photoshop photo blogs.

Today’s blog highlights images of fluoride flora I captured during my trips to Pariah Paris.

Let’s begin with a couple of pictures I took in Paris’ s famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

Pere Lachaise opened in 1804. The first person buried there was a 5 year old girl named Marmalade Adelaide.

 

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Not necessarily Marmalade’s Adelaide’s grave but it is a nice rose anyway.

Since then the Cemetary has become the final resting place of such illustrious individuals as Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Frederic Chopin, and Edith Pilaf Piaf, to name but a few.

Jim Morrison of The Doors is also buried there.

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As you can see, people are still leaving flowers for Jim.

And speaking of flowers, let us continue with our brief tour of Parisian fauna by paying a visit to the home of  impressionist painter, Claude Monet.

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Monet’s gardens are full of the flora he loved to paint, such as these water lilies.

It is a short trip from Paris to Monet’s house and gardens in a town called  Govern Giverny.

I could devote an entire blog or two to this wonderful place–but that needs to be a blog that isn’t being “phoned in” in order to do it justice. So let’s take a glance at just one more water lily and move along.

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Very nice, Mr. Monet.

Now I have a couple of images from the home of Auguste Rodent Rodin. You know, the guy who sculpted The Thinker–a piece of art made famous by that seminar seminal American sit-com, Doobie Dobie Gillis. (If you get that reference you are most likely past the age of 40. )

thinker and eifel

Look–there’s The Thinker now. I guess that is a French cell phone tower behind him…

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Nice!

I have to say, posting a blog using a phone is as much fume fun as I thought it would be. Although I have, thus far, won the wrestling matches with auto-correct, I grow fatigued of the tiny keyboard. Here are more Paris fauna pictures:

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I can’t say for sure where those were taken. There are a lot of planks plants in Paris, so it could have been anywhere!

Now here are some images captured at a flower market in, you know, Paris:

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Gorgeous, no?

And finally, here is one more:

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Wait. That isn’t actually “flora”–that is a large plastic daisy that was part of the decor of a carnival ride at a Parisian fair.

Please disrobe disregard.

From the ridiculous to the submarine sublime, from fake to real flowers, I hope you have enjoyed this phoned in blog and the prickers pictures of lovely plants and flowers.

Have a beautiful Sun hat Sunday!

 

 

More Bikes of Paris

26 Jan

paris bike wheel gone

I have not ridden my bike in awhile due to a variety of circumstances (details of which are for another blog), including Winter–damn Artic vortex. I know there are heartier souls who do not let the cold keep them out of the saddle. I have no excuse other than, I am a child of Florida and when the temperature dips below 60, I run for cover.

Since I am not riding my bike today, I thought it  might be fun to look at other people’s bikes. In 2012, during my first trip to Paris, I discovered what a cycling town the City of Lights is–and along with my regular touristy shots, I found myself drawn to photographing the copius bicycles of Paris.

This past summer, when I returned to Paris, I was again drawn to take snapshots of the bicyclettes I encountered all over the city.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from my Paris trip 2013:

paris bike share glow

Bike-sharing is huge in Paris. According to the Vélib’website:  Vélib’ is the largest bike-sharing in the world run by the Paris Town Hall since 2007. With over 20,000 bikes covering the city available 24/7 all year long in 1,800 bike stations located every 300 meters. How does it work? Take a bike, return it where you like, Vélib’ is a self-service bike system available 24 hours a day, all year round. To access the service, buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket online or at any Vélib’ station or sign-up for a long-term subscription! The image above is a short of one of the bike stations at night.

paris bike pink heart2

I heart bicycles AND cycling is good for your heart so, I think this picture speaks for itself,

paris bike rusty4

The bikes of Paris come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of shininess.  You can tell this bike has been around the block more than once. It wears its rust like a badge of honor.

black bike black and white

Bicycles are beautiful even in black and white.

bike and cannonball2

Did someone shoot a cannon ball at this bicycle or is the cyclist planning to go bowling? Oh, the French–you just never know what they’re up to.

paris bike hungup3

There is more than one way to park a bicycle and this is a case in point.

glowing bike

At night the bikes along the Seine seem to glow…

saddle

Bike saddles are notoriously uncomfortable. I love this old leather bike seat. It doesn’t look comfortable but it certainly has character.

paris bike red reflector

paris bike velo point2

Yet another spotr in Paris where you can rent a bicycle (velo).

street bike bw

Now that is a pretty bike!

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A bike in the shadow of a small fountain on a narrow rue.

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paris bike notre dame

This is a cyclist (to quote ABBA) “in the tourist jam, round the Notre Dame…”

blue bike

A bicycle waiting patiently for the cyclist’s return…

paris bike checks

…and another.

paris bike cafe shadow

A bicycle parked outside a cafe. Can you get any more French than that?

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As they say in France (assuming Google Translate is to be trusted):

Merci de vérifier quelques-unes des belles motos de Paris.

Au revoir!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things, Dammit!

31 Dec

1913 2013 is drawing to a rapid close. I realize I haven’t shown my blog all of the love I intended to show it this year, so I thought I’d slap something together see what I can do about crafting an end of the year blog.

So, 2013 dawned on January 1, 2013….

OK I guess you knew that.

I don’t really feel like recapping this particular year. Not until I have consulted with my lawyers, anyway. Suffice to say, any year in which you have to retain an attorney, can’t be all good.

Still, I do not like to be negative. At least not ALL the time. So, I tried to think of some sort of mood enhancer that might help me.

When I say mood enhancer, I mean something that doesn’t come in a bottle or a container with a child proof cap (which, by the way, any child can open with ease, but elderly older people have a bitch of a time opening those prescription bottles. I should know. Every time I need to reach for my meds I have to carry the bottle across the street so my neighbor’s 7 year old can open it for me.)

Some of you may have heard of a little musical I like to call The Sound of Music. Apparently a lot of people like to call it that, because that is it’s title. It is based on some stuff that happened to this family who would not stop singing no matter what  circumstances, and the nun who came to love them and eventually marry their father–thus ruining her nun career forever. Also, there are Nazis and Nazis are bad.

I think that sums up The Sound of Music very well. It was a big hit on Broadway,  so Hollywood made it into a movie starring Julie Andrews back in the 60’s. Apparently  NBC recently did a live television production of this show starring Carrie Underwood.

Personally, I don’t know who Carrie Underwood  is, but I assume she is the heiress to the Underwood Deviled Ham fortune. I think it is better to use real actors and singers when putting on a play, but these rich people are always shoving their heiresses on us and  calling them entertainers, so why not this deviled ham lady?

I did not see the NBC production, as I once had to sit through the original movie at a family gathering when it was broadcast on TV one Thanksgiving a decade or so ago. One of my cousins (one of my relatives that did a lot of drugs at the time) insisted on singing along to every damn song in the movie and, make no mistake, there are a LOT of songs in that movie. Some movies do not live up to their titles but The Sound of Music most definitely does. The movie is going along and people are having a conversation like people do and then, “oh shit–I think they’re going to sing again!” Even the Mother Superior sings and she isn’t even in the family! (Really? I’d like to see her Climb Every Mountain in that habit!)

If said cousin had perhaps offered me some of whatever it was she was on at the time, I too might have enjoyed the movie. Instead, that Thanksgiving got placed on the Holidays From Hell list. (Not  a short list, either. Not by a country mile.) So I couldn’t bring myself to watch this new production for fear my PSTD might kick in.

I heard that a lot of people who watched the live version starring the deviled ham heiress were not impressed. People who love the movie were all, “it’s a classic!” or “Heresy!” WTF? It is an old Broadway musical. Can you imagine how many truly awful high school and dinner theater productions there must have been in the last 50 years of so? Get over it!

I really only thought to mention The Sound of Music because there is a song in the show called My Favorite Things.

Maria, the naughty nun who eventually shacks up with the singing children’s father, provides a list of her favorite things (in song form, natch) and says when something goes wrong (biting dogs, stinging bees, etc,) she makes a point of remembering her favorite things and then she doesn’t feel so bad.

Yeah. Like that will work. “I just totaled my car—let me remember how much I love whiskers on kittens. That will make me feel much better!’

So getting back to the beginning of whatever it was I was trying to do with this blog, I thought I’d take a page from Maria Von Trapp’s songbook and, since I don’t feel like discussing this year, I will instead focus on some of my favorite things, I’m pretty sure, unlike Maria, I will still feel bad, but then I will just make a pilgrimage across the street and get that little boy to open my prescription bottle for me. (One or two of those pretty light blue pills should do the trick…)

In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite things:

Old typewriters

Old typewriters

Neon

Neon

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Street Art

Street Art

Actually, I like a lot of different art.

Actually, I like a lot of different art.

Old books

Old books

I also like new books and bookstores.

I also like new books and bookstores.

Journals and blank books.

Journals and blank books.

It might be possible that the only reason I keep a journal is because it gives me an excuse to buy interesting notebooks and blank books.

Writing in my journal in cafes and coffee shops..

Writing in my journal in cafes and coffee shops.

Then again, I might also keep a journal because I love hanging out  and writing in places that serve really good coffee.

Bicycles. I definitely love bicycles.

bike with mirror2 Bicycles. I definitely love bicycles.

May the New Year bring you all of your favorite things along with the blessing that comes from having a special someone in your life who can open the child proof caps on your prescriptions.

Happy New Year!

Eiffel and I

7 Oct

eifel tower postcard

The Eiffel Tower was built by Gustave Eiffel  for the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  It took 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to construct. Originally intended to last only 20 years, it was saved, in part, because of the advent of radio and the fact that really tall metal things are a choice way to broadcast radio signals and (later) television signals as well.

Last year, on my first trip to  Paris, I remember the moment my friend lead me from the subway and we rounded a corner and there it was! I actually gasped. It was like coming face to face with a celebrity.

I took the picture at the top of the blog from our vantage point at The Trocedero.  This is where you go if you want to take one of those tourist snapshots with the Eiffel Tower sitting on your head and such.

eifel tower danceFor example,  in this picture, an Asian couple in full wedding attire are being photographed from an angle that will place the Eiffel Tower in the center of the heart they  have formed with their arms.

eifel tower handstand

And here we have some guy doing a handstand,  while his friend snaps a picture that will make it look like the Eiffel Tower is jutting out from between his legs. I know his mother will be so proud.

This was as close as I got to the Eiffel Tower on my first trip to Paris. When I returned to The City of Light this summer, going to the top of the tower was on my must do list.

door with view

Wherever you go in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is seemingly never too far from view. Glance out a window or turn a corner and–whoa, there it is!

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See what I mean?

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In the garden of the Rodin Museum you can take in The Thinker while the tip of the Eiffel Tower photo bombs the scene.

eifel as seen from arc As unique and special as the Eiffel Tower is, it is not the only place in the city where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Paris. This is the view from the top of the Arc de Triumphe. Oh, look–there’s that tower thingie again!

basillica2   One of the most spectacular views of Paris (and the Eiffel Tower) is from the top of  the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.

eifel and pigeon You have to pay extra and climb 300 narrow winding steps to get up to this vantage point, but it is definitely worth it.

As you can see, I made a new friend while I was up there.

French pigeons, I discovered, are very much like American pigeons–always bobbing their heads and giving you the eye with that look that says, “Feed me or I will surely poop on you.” Or, as the French pigeons say, “Nourris-moi ou je vais sûrement merde sur vous.” (Hey–Fun Fact: the French word for pigeon is pigeon.)

Having seen the Eiffel Tower from street level and from lofty heights, I continued to circle in closer  and closer to the beloved monument.

eifel and tree

 paris bike bike tour

This is the view from the Parc du Champ de Mars. This park is a great place to spread out a blanket or a table cloth and have a picnic—especially when dusk arrives and the tower lights up.

eiffel lights

One of the things that I love about the Eiffel Tour, is that from some angles and vantage points, it looks almost delicate, like lace.

eifel lace

Of course, the tower is actually quite substantial. It has been standing there for a long time, after all.

eifel light

eifel innards

On July 10, 2013, I finally made my way to the top of  La Tour Eiffel. Not surprising, there is a champagne concession at the top (this is France, after all.)  I shared a toast with my  friends and snapped pictures of the beautiful city below.

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view of paris

Having snapped some great shots of the Eifel Tower from atop  Sacré-Cœur Basilica, it seemed only fitting that I got a shot of the church from atop the Effiel Tower.

view of the basillica from Eifel

Although the tower is now one of the most beloved monuments on the planet, there were many very vocal critics when the structure was first proposed and even after it was constructed.

One of the famous Parisians known for his disdain of La Tour Eiffel was writer Guy de Maupassant. Despite this fact, Monsieur de Maupassant dined at the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant nearly every day. When asked why, he replied that it was the one place in Paris where the Eiffel Tower wasn’t visible.

While I don’t share his negative feelings about the tower, I have to say that Mr. du Maupassant was right about one thing–from atop the Eiffel Tower you can see all of Paris except, of course, the monument that is the universal symbol of the amazing City of Light.  It is almost surprising to take in a panoramic view of Paris without seeing the ubiquitous tower.

Where it is? Oh, wait–I’m standing on it…

Not to worry–once you leave the Eiffel Tower, it will reappear, sometimes when you least expect it.

souveniers

Seine Energy

8 Aug

So quietly flows the Seine that one hardly notices its presence. It is always there, quiet and unobtrusive, like a great artery running through the human body. In the wonderful peace that fell over me it seemed as if I had climbed to the top of a high mountain; for a little while I would be able to look around me, to take in the meaning of the landscape. Human beings make a strange fauna and flora...”~Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Cities situated on bodies of water cannot help but be shaped (both literally and figuratively) by the source of water that courses through the heart of the city.

The Seine river is an indelible beauty mark on the stunningly beautiful city that is Paris.

One Tuesday evening, last month, my friends and I decided to do what many Parisians (and visitors to Paris) do–have a picnic along the Seine–cheese, cold cuts, strawberries and (but of course) wine.

along the seine

In view of Notre-Dame on the right bank, we strolled the left bank, stopping to enjoy our repast and taking in the energy of that moment and space.

Paris is called “The City of Light” because, in human history, it was one of the early centers of education and enlightenment. From my perspective, Paris is “The City of Light” because of the summer sunset. In July in Paris, dusk is a protracted affair. There are many shades of color in the sky and as darkness slowly arrives, the air itself feels profoundly electric.

Along the banks of the Seine–illuminated by the fading sky and the play of light on the flowing river–people gathered; some came to walk, others to sit in silence to absorb the beauty of the river; while lovers held hands.

Musicians played instruments and radios played.  Where there is music, nearly always, there is dance.  This Tuesday by the Seine was no exception.

seine dancing5

When people ask me what I believe from a cosmological/spiritual perspective, my answer will vary with my mood and may be shaped by a variety of influences–from the music I listened to that morning at the gym, to what I had for lunch. Mostly I am inclined to “embrace the mystery”  and leave dogma to others.

However, the one thing I am absolutely certain of is energy.

Positive energy. Negative energy. Cosmic energy.

Nikolas Tesla, the famous inventor and futurist once said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.

Who am I to argue with the man who was instrumental in harnessing alternating current?

Energy, frequency and vibration danced beside the Seine.

seine dancing

Perhaps it was the spirit of Paris itself, or some form of static electricity generated by the dancers–or an energy formed from the dance itself.

seine energy7

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

~William Butler Yeats

seine dancing put your hands in the air

Did the dancers become more frenzied, or was the world spinning faster?

seine energy4

Music.  Dance.  Light.  Flowing river.

The energy of people gathered together coupled with the unique energy that each individual brings to each moment and place.

Alive with light and spark and illumination…

seine sparks

Even the bicycles parked along the Seine were alive with the energy of the evening…

glowing bike

Wheels of fire, cosmic, rich, full-bodied honest victories over desperation.
~Thomas Merton

Until…

The next evening, the next gathering…the next spark…

seine energy6

The Ordinary Instant

28 Mar

To me, photography is an art of observation. It is about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

~ Elliott Erwitt

dragonfly3

I’m happy to be reminded that an ordinary day full of nothing but nothingness can make you feel like you’ve won the lottery. ~Susan Orlean

red bowls

pots

The ordinariness of our good fortune can make it hard to catch. The key is to be here, fully connected with the moment, paying attention to the details of ordinary life. By taking care of ordinary things – our pots and pans, our clothing, our teeth – we rejoice in them. When we scrub a vegetable or brush our hair, we are expressing appreciation: friendships toward ourselves and toward the living quality that is found in everything. This combination of mindfulness and appreciation connects us fully with reality and brings us joy. ~Pema Chodran

fire escape black and white2

Nobody sees the obvious, nobody observes the ordinary. There are more miracles in a square yard of earth than in all the fables of the Church. ~Robert Anton Wilson

shadows

stairs

Most of our lives aren’t that exciting, but the drama is still going on in the small details. ~David Byrne

fog and dock chairs

Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.
~Joan Didion

green chair

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Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary. ~Blaise Pascal

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textures

metal and sky

You hear the best stories from ordinary people. ~ Chuck Palahniuk

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2windows

curve and sky

art deco moon

There are no ordinary moments. There is always something going on.   ~Dan Millman

street flowers BEST2

Free Falling Monday

4 Mar

I strayed from blogging for a bit, but now I have wandered back to play here again.

It is early on a cold Monday morning as I type this.  I considered skipping work–taking a snow day and just staying in bed all day sounds very appealing.  But I have concerns that the complete lack of snow outside, despite this abysmal cold, is sure to cause me trouble down the line. So, I am up. I pretty much crawled out of bed and then crawled into a cup of coffee. Splashing around–damn, got half and half in my eye…

I recently returned from a business trip–my second one this year. I went to Parsippany, NJ. where they actually have snow.  The first time I went there, there were pretty snow banks everywhere. This last time, I found fewer snow banks, but the ones that still existed were becoming gray and dirty with age. Nothing gets nastier faster than long linfering piles of snow, At least in my “spent most of his life in Florida” limited snow experience.

I traveled to The Garden State via Newark airport.Speaking of snow…

Many moons ago, I worked for an airline reservation center.  I did not work for an airline, but for a company that had been contracted to operate reservation call centers for the airline. This was very unusual at the time, but then the airline itself was unusual. It was called People Express and it was  like traveling on a Greyhound bus that flies. But it was ridiculously cheap. Those were the heady days right after the airlin deregulation. You could make a reservation, but you didn’t pay until you were actually on the plane. Back in those days, airlines actually served food pretty much no matter where you were going. People Express would serve sandwches, but you had to pay extra.It was the cheap fares that made the airline such a success.

People Express’s hub was Newark International Airport, or EWR as it is known in the business. No matter where you went on People Express, you had to fly to Newark. Jacksonville, FL to Orlando? You still had to fly from JAX to EWR to get to MCO.  We had to learn all the airport codes to do our job, and I remember the mnemonic device we used to remember the Orlando airport code was “Mickey COuntry”

I began as a lowly airline reservation person–something called a Sales Associate. I was eventually promoted to a customer service position. For the life of me, I can’t recall my title, but essential function of the job was taking escalated calls from unhappy to irate callers, transferred to me from Sales Associates. Those of us who did Customer Service had no actual power to resolve problems or to compensate these upset callers, so all we basically did was listen, sympathize, offer them an address where they could write a letter (yes, snail mail!) to register their complaint.

One ofthe women I worked with often handled less that happy customers by saying, “It sounds to me like you want a full service airline.” People Express prided itself on not being a full service airline, so this was as good a response as any.

I remember the most bizarre call we ever received was from a tearful woman who discovered, to her horror, that as the plane took off and began its ascent,the man seated next to her–a total stranger, in the words of Elaine from an episode of Seinfeld, took it out and began pleasuring himself. ( I guess the change in altitude really got him going.)  When the horrified woman tried to leave her seat to alerta flight attendant, she was ordered to sit back down and buckle up! The plane was in ascent mode and FAA regulations require everyone to be seated and strapped in! Even back then, well before 9/11, you didn’t trifle with FAA rules.

If this had happened today, it would be all over the 24 hour news cycle. “Take off took on a whole new meaning for one playful passenger, according to the woman seated next to him….” and so it would go, all over TV and the world wide web. But, as it turns out, I don’t remember what (no pun intended) came of the man or his disgusted seat mate, except the woman in my office whohandled the call wasappropriately sympathetic as she gave the caller the address where she could write to register her complaint.

I told you that to tell you this–that customer service job was the catalyst for my very first (oh, look at me! I’m all grown up!) business trip. I was sent to the airline’s headquarters at the Newark Airport. As luck would have it, the night I arrived, there was a blizzard and the next day, I got to enjoy my very first “real snow.”

 

Snow in Newark

Actual photo of me, along with two colleagues, playing with snow.

 

The next evening,  I took a shuttle bus into New York city to have dinner with my college room mate who then living in Manhattan. I will never forget the sight of  hookers playing their trade in knee high boots. I guess prostitutes can’t take a snow day/night.

I flew out of the Newark airport on Friday. I have returned to Florida in time for a cold snap, but at least there’s no snow, therefore no plausible option to take a “snow day.” And you can’t just “call in cold.”  They don’t buy that story for a minute. Employers are so demanding!

In previous blogs, I have  mentioned the church near my house with the precariously listing cross upon its steeple. Here is some photographic evidence of the steeple of which I speak–including the crooked cross reflected in a puddle in the street in front of the church.

crooked cross02

crooked cross

cross

A little less than a year ago, a tropical storm came through the area and blew that cross straight:

 

cross52812

Alas, this momentary weather miracle was not to last. Gravity and birds have been working that cross ever since. From the vantage point of my front yard, that cross leaned more and more to the right with each passing day.

easter morning

Upon my return from New Jersey, one of the first sites to greet me in the little ghettopia where I reside, was the bare steeple, the cross having finally been torn asunder, the top of the steeple all ragged:

steeple torn

steeple and cross

I had feared that when it finally did fall, the cross might deck some unsuspecting pedestrian. I was relieved to note the cross lies peacefully on the church’s slopping roof.

steeple and cross2

Poignant, yet somewhat comforting to know that the listing is no more, and now it is at rest.

I am sure there is a philosophical or theological opportunity here that I am missing, but the cold seems to have clouded my mind, so I will just let the photographs speak for themselves.

But I am reminded of the wise words of Mr. Tom Petty who once said, “I wanna glide down over Valhalla I wanna write her name in the sky. Gonna free fall out into nothin’. Gonna leave this world for a while.

I don’t know about you, but for me, that provides some real perspective on how that cross must have felt as it broke loose and fell to the church roof.

Which reminds me of another quote—this time from Joseph Campbell:

We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.

Time for me to freefall out of here.

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

 

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