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Santa Monica

I was waiting to get a shot that had a pure blue sky but unfortunately, things went in the opposite direction

It never rains in California. Except when I'm here.

Ahhhh, color

And texture

When I visit Deb, the same theme song plays involuntarily over and over in my head. It's been pretty consistent over the last 30 years. Turns out, Albert, it actually does rain in California, perhaps I should be summoned when the droughts come.

More palm trees, but these are the special palm trees I saw when I woke up in the car years back

There was the California desert trip, the time I used all my creativity, patience and energy to convince a certain family member that a school vacation week in the sun would be a good thing for us. It snowed and the wind howled And that wasn't the half of what made it an awkward week. As we were scheduled to arrive from Boston to LAX at 2am, I had made a reservation at the Airport Hilton. When we got there, we discovered that I had made it for the wrong night and because it was Chinese New Year, there were no rooms available. At the time, pre priceline, the only option was to convince the car rental people that we needed the car early, so off we went to Palm Springs, me driving as penance and Nat doing a yeoman's job keeping me awake, avoiding further inconvenience or injury to the family. But as there are with many of my mistakes, there was a gift, waking up in the hotel parking lot, with the sun coming up behind the palm trees, a picture and feeling I’m unlikely to forget. I creeped out of the car, careful not to wake my sleeping family, and went exploring with my camera.

I opted for public transport from LAX this time, allowing for more and different viewing. I got to the train and bus lot where there were many signs to read and decisions to be made. As I was starved, the fruit seller tempted me, but wanted to begin the over an hour long bus ride sooner rather than later, so proceeded to the fare/ticket dispenser and guessed at how much value I wanted to put on my card ($10, turns out it was only $1..20) and what type of pass I was to get. I was deliberating about whether or not it was a good idea to travel through Compton when I saw I could take the Big Blue Bus number 3 straight to Santa Monica. There was one driving by and I waved for them to stop, but the bus continued on. A kind woman told me not to worry, they come often.

My friend to whom I'm literally indebted

Finished, superior product, enjoyed in the bus parking lot

So I decided to tackle my hunger, marching over to the fruit vendor and opting for pineapple and orange with hand gestures and nods, oh it looked so good. I asked him if he took cash and he, not a big speaker of English, indicated no. I said card? He nodded. On he went with me looking behind my shoulder every 15 seconds to see if the next Big Blue was coming. It was a joy to take in his beautiful knife skills and the pride he showed for his creation. Like Rufus, the store clerk in Love Actually, he kept challenging my impatience with additional options: hot sauce, a beautiful flourish, salt, no, Tajin, yes, of course, and lime, which took a while to convey and for me to understand, well yes, of course. By this time, he was marginally irritated that I didn't speak Spanish, my bad, as you know if you've read my past writing. On he went with his work, he wanted to add more, and I made a hand gesture like, no, good, thanks, ready to run, which I could tell confused him. When I went to pay with my card, he indicated no, apple pay, no, cash only. I only had $5 for an $8 serving of deliciousness and am committed to looping back when I leave to make up the difference. OK, and perhaps get another order.

As I was leaving the fruit vendor with more things than I should have been carrying at the same time, there came around a Big Blue, and I again waved to the driver. She cheerily waved back and continued on. What world am I living in? So, I went to the stop and waited, eventually making it all happen.

Little Boomer, who is getting better every day

Deb and me at the beginning of our Hadrian's Wall adventure. We had to pay a quid to get this photo taken in front of the old man's handmade sign that happened to say Boston on it

I haven't seen Debbie since our memorable march along Hadrian's Wall, but as it is with old friends, we fell into our patterns in about 5 minutes Last night I went out to get us ice cream, because I love walking up and down Montana, so that we could lie on the couch and watch The Swimmers, which was beautiful but painful to watch, with her dog that is recovering from sepsis.

My well traveled notebook and a good start to the day

Debbie didn't used to drink caffeine, so I developed a morning ritual of, with my notebook and camera, going out early and finding a perch at Primo Passo, which, aside from having sublime coffee, has great outdoor tables and the best of people watching. After being there 10 minutes and listening to the exchanges, I was reminded that almost everyone in Santa Monica is a transplant, resulting in a warmth and appreciation vibe, as in we've found our way to the Pacific, flip flops and palm trees. Within that time, I heard what I'm guessing was an Indian dialect, Russian, Italian and a very strong midwestern accent within those few minutes.

I see a fish taco in my future. And maybe some pop tennis at Venice Beach.


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