Washington DC: In Repose

“A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires that we are honorable, generous, tolerant, and respectful.” – Charles Pickering

I took this picture early last week, before the tragic insurgency that changed the way so many view our country. I wish we could turn back the clock.

In the beginning . . . .

Hands down my favorite images of this past year belong to our precious granddaughter – Baby J. We hit the ground running the first quarter of the year with our usual, busy, crazy schedule. We were with Baby J for her first birthday; I was off to a fun annual girlfriends trip on Sea Island; we met-up with my brother and his family in Naples for a special family dinner to celebrate my Mother’s 89th birthday (combined with a trip to the Shy Wolf Sanctuary); took my husband for an overnight at the Hard Rock’s new landmark hotel for a Jerry Seinfeld show, and flew back north to take care of Baby J while her parents took a short break. Before you knew it – it was March.

During our visit to Baby J in the DC area, the news was alarming. I was wary, sitting in the very crowded American Airlines waiting area at Reagan National Airport, nervously looking around, hearing people reflect on the big conference many fellow travelers had just attended. Seems impossible now, but no one wore masks back then. Very shortly after we returned, I began to hear about people from that DC conference who were exposed to the virus. That first March weekend a historic preservation group I volunteer with, held an extremely successful garden tour on a perfect spring day. About a week later and Miami-Dade (unlike the rest of Florida) shut down.

The new reality was staying at home, cooking a lot (started ordering Hello Fresh for variety), sharing the property grounds with peacocks (and crocs) for long walks around our community. Even the golf course was closed, so we, thankfully, had lots of room to roam. We were blessed. Horrified at the daily statistics, both relieved and feeling guilty that we no longer had to report to work like so many essential workers or needed to work like so many others who had lost jobs. We tried hard to support local businesses and give support where we could.

We reconnected with ourselves, reached out and caught-up with absent friends, and spent more time on our terrace than in all the prior years combined. We live in paradise and the warm weather was just another blessing as we watched what was happening in Europe and New York.

Keeping busy was no challenge. I finally found time to work on this blog (what to write in a travel blog when you are not traveling?) and enjoyed the virtual education trend that allowed me to participate in many interesting experiences, courses, and seminars. Oddly, I found it difficult to even read about travel and impossible to do any trip planning, better just to focus elsewhere. I do miss the adventure of experiencing new places and cultures but am just grateful to have been able to spend any day possible with Baby J.

Wishing You a Beautiful New Year!

Merry Xmas & to All a Good Night!

This is another treasure I found helping my Mom sort through papers and cards. If you are of Spanish descent (we are) and/or live somewhere like Miami (we do) then you at least will get a kick out of this cute Spanglish twist on an old favorite tradition. It makes me laugh and I hope it will you too.

It was the night before Christmas

   And all thru the casa

Not a creature is stirring

   Caramba! Qué pasa!

The Stockings are hanging

   Con mucho cuidado

In hopes that St. Nicholas

   Will feel obligado

To leave a few cosas

   Aquí and allí

For Chico and Chica

   (Y something para me).

Los niños are snuggled

   All safe in their camas

(Some in vestidos, and

   some in pajamas)

Their little cabezas

   Are full of good things

Qué esperan: qué cosas

   St. Nick will bring?

Santa is down

   At the corner saloon

Muy borracho

   Since mid-afternoon.

Mama is sitting beside the ventana

   When Santa en manera extraña

Lit up like fuego;

   Qué goma* mañana!

El va to bed

   As morning approaches

Feliz Pascuas to all

   And to all Buenos Noches.

(*in this colloquial use from Central America means hangover)

One More Day: Santa!

Good friends in Southern California! Mrs. Claus gets equal time.
In Strasbourg, looks like Santa as a youngster.
A stern look in Munich.
Cologne-Santa wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!

Ornaments made from empty tins of fish, a passed out Santa, and the iconic prune people of Nuremberg, are just a few of the unexpected sights that made this list.

Christmas Flora

The smell of Christmas greens is so comforting – I’d love to have it year-round. And who doesn’t love poinsettias, mistletoe, winter berries, and pinecones?

Assorted beauties from European Christmas Markets.

Rocky plans his next move.
Everybody has to have a helper (Pippi) decorate the tree.
“Come-on, I know there are cat-treats in this bag!” (Ziggy)
“I want more.” (Pippi)
“Get this damn hat off me!” (Ziggy)
“My work here is done” (Pippi)

Angels. The topper for many of our Christmas trees, angels are a big part of holiday traditions. I’m always drawn to them, and love the Nuremberg tradition of Christkind, the symbolic golden angel that is the gift-giver there and is a showstopper attraction when she visits the Children’s Christmas Market.

Beautiful and mystical, real or elusive – we can’t have enough angels in our lives right now.

This week, Leya is hosting Lens-Artists Challenge #128 – And Here Comes the Holiday Season. Another opportunity to share my 12-day run-up to Christmas Eve.

Darling angels at a Strasbourg Christmas Market.
Vintage angels that belonged to my Grandmother.
Watching over a square in Lucerne, Switzerland.
One of four angels watching over the Baroque-styled Christmas market in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
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