San Antonio

April 16, 2018 (106/365) 

"Remember the Alamo!" ...and the Riverwalk, the ducks, the flowers, the margarita…


November 11, 2017 (315/365)

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” - President Harry S. Truman

Since 2005, the Honor Flight Network has flown America's veterans to Washington D.C. where they visit the memorials to the wars in which they served. Last weekend, Lisa's dad, a Marine in Vietnam, was on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. It was my privilege to write a letter thanking Paul for his brave service to our country. I have always wished that my dad, who served in the Navy during World War II, could have enjoyed this honor too. Thanks to Lisa’s dad and sister, who took my dad's dog tags along with them, that wish came true last Saturday. On this Veteran's Day, I am so grateful to Paul and Paula for sharing their special day with me and my family. And I humbly thank all of our veterans who have bravely served our country. 

Photos above taken by Paula Sockett or used via Creative Commons license. All photos edited by me.

French Friday: Le Pont Neuf

le vendredi 13 octobre 2017 (286/365)

« La vie est un pont, traverse-le, mais n'y fixe pas ta demeure. » - Sainte Catherine de Sienne 

Despite its name, Le Pont Neuf ("The New Bridge") is Paris' oldest bridge. It was named Pont Neuf to distinguish it from the older wooden bridges lined with houses that crossed the Seine in the 16th century. Henri III laid the first stone on May 31, 1578 and the bridge was inaugurated in 1607. The Pont Neuf spans the Seine in two sections, one of five arches joining the Left Bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the Right Bank.  Along the top of the structure, there are 381 stone mascarons, each representing forest and field divinities, satyrs, and sylvains from ancient mythology. I think they are appropriately spooky for today's vendredi treize post!

French Friday: Saint-Jean-de-Luz

August 25, 2017 (237/365)

« Un Basque n'est ni Français, ni Espagnol ; il est basque et c'est tout. » - Victor Hugo

Saint-Jean-de-Luz, on the Atlantic coast of France just a few kilometers from the Spanish border, is an enchanting town with a rich Basque culture and a history that includes whaling, pirates, and a royal wedding (King Louis XIV to María Teresa, the Infanta of Spain in 1600). 


July 11, 2017 (192/365)  

In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and entered into "the Great War" (WWI), the Virgin Mary appeared to the children at Fatima (The Miracle of the Sun), the Russian Revolution began and ended, and on July 11th, Bertine Larson Moore was born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

To put things in greater perspective:

  • The average US wage was 22¢ per hour and the average yearly income was $368.

  • Two out of every ten adults couldn't read or write.

  • Only 6% of all Americans graduated from high school.

  • The average US home cost $3200 and the average monthly rent was $25.

  • Sugar cost 4¢ per pound, eggs were 14¢ a dozen, and a quart of milk was 9¢.

  • Only 14% of American homes had a bathtub and only 8% had a telephone.

  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph and gasoline was sold in drug stores.

  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

  • The American flag had 45 stars.

  • The #1 song of the year was "Over There" and the top-grossing film was Cleopatra.

Also born in 1917: 

  • John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

  • Actors Ernest Borgnine, Jane Wyman (first wife of Ronald Reagan), Zsa Zsa Gabor, Phyllis Diller, Joan Fontaine, Robert Mitchum, and Mel Ferrer (first husband of Audrey Hepburn)

  • Unbroken's Louis Zamperini, WWII prisoner of war and 1936 Olympic distance athlete

  • Author Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange, artist Andrew Wyeth, and architect I. M. Pei

  • Musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Lena Horne, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Desi Arnaz (husband of Lucille Ball)

  • Man o' War, champion thoroughbred racehorse

Happy 100th Birthday, Aunt Bertine! We love you!

Les Bouquinistes

February 26, 2017 (057/365)

“The whole of Paris is a vast university of art, literature and music. It is worth anyone’s while to dally here...Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything.” - James Thurber, The New Yorker (1918)

Along more than three kilometres on either side of the Seine are 900 green boxes containing over 300,000 old books, journals, posters, and souvenirs. Present since the 15th Century, these boxes have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bouquinistes can rent up to four 6'x3' boxes for 100€ each per year. Only one of four may contain tourist trinkets, so if you really look, you can find some unique treasures.


February 8, 2017 (039/365)

"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." - Phyllis Theroux


December 26, 2014 (360/365): (#decemberphotochallenge Day 26: Gratitude)

“America’s fighting men and women sacrifice much to ensure that our great nation stays free. We owe a debt of gratitude to the soldiers that have paid the ultimate price for this cause, as well as for those who are blessed enough to return from the battlefield unscathed.” - Allen Boyd

I have been anticipating the release of the Unbroken film with conflicted emotions since I read riveting biography of Louis Zamperini -- juvenile delinquent, college track star, 1936 Olympian who shook hands with Hitler, WWII Air Force captain, survivor of a plane crash and forty-seven days drifting over 2000 miles on a raft in middle of the Pacific Ocean, tortured prisoner of war for two and a half years, recovered alcoholic and PTSD sufferer, inspirational speaker, coach, and philanthropist. As I turned the pages last year, I continually reminded myself that Zamperini was going to make it through all of these harrowing trials, knowing that, at 97 year old, he consulted with Angelina Jolie in the making of the Unbroken film. Sadly Louie Zamperini died last summer before yesterday's film release. I knew that this film would be hard for me, but I kept telling myself that if Louie could survive all that he went through, I should be strong enough to watch. Unfortunately, the movie focused more on the horrors of Louie's experiences and less on his remarkable character. Though to be fair, how could such an extraordinary life be depicted in just two hours? Despite my disappointment in the tone of the film, as real photos of Louis appeared on the screen in the closing sequence, I found myself in tears. I felt a rush of emotion for the brave men and women of The Greatest Generation whom I will always honor in humble gratitude.

French Friday: L'Armistice

On Tuesday, November 11th, while Americans honor Veterans Day, the French will observe l'Armistice, the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.  At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, French Marechal Ferdinand Foch and German Matthias Erzberger met in a railway carriage in the Compiègne Forest in Picardy  to sign the treaty to bring an end to the fighting that claimed nearly twenty million lives in four years. Since Armistice Day was approved as a federal holiday in several Allied nations  in 1922, it has become  customary for citizens to observe a moment of respectful silence at 11:00 a.m. local time. In France, the solemn day is commemorated with special church services and military parades to war memorials around the country, most notably the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where the tricolor French flag flies in honor of the fallen.

The body of an unidentified soldier from Verdun was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11, 1920. This fallen hero serves as a symbol of all those who died in World War I, and in more recent years, as a symbol for all French military personnel who have given their lives in service of their country. An eternal flame was lit on the tomb three years later and still burns today.