US Open

I drove the wife down to Queens for the US Open. I’ve never been to a sporting event like it. It had the feel of a fancy county fair. Instead of going into a barn to look at a pig, instead of going to the bleachers to see a tractor pull, we went into intimate stadiums to watch world class athletes.

We walked around the grounds. We bought hats to keep the sun off, and I took a peek into court 17. There was Jalena Jankovik practicing. Then her coach said something about the Grand Stand, and she ran off with her staff.

Jelena Jankovic on Court 17

The original plan was to get to Louis Armstrong early, and camp there for a few matches.

Louis Armstrong Stadium

Louis Armstrong Stadium getting ready

Aga Radwanska

Aga serving

Aga Serving in the First Round

Andy Murray

Andy Murray serving in Louis Armstrong

It was hot. We left Louis Armstrong, got some smoothies, and cooled of in the shade. We then sauntered through the crowds to the smaller courts. I found Camila Giorgi on Court 5. She played a great first set, but the match didn’t end well for her.

Camila Giorgi

Camila Giorgi on Court 5

Still Hot

Back on Louis Armstrong Still Hot

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

Globe at Astoria Park

Thanks to Astoria Park

Beach In France

Let’s see, I think I remember. It was 1997, my first trip to Southern France. Actually, I even remember returning to work after that trip was over. At that time I was very fortunate to work at a State College that was located in my hometown. I was a lecturer. My title was “Visiting Professor.” Yeah, there were people who actually called me “professor.”

Shortly after my return to work, one of my mentor professors met up with me in the corridor near out department. I had known him for quite a while, and he was one of the people that recommended me for the position. The hallway was crowded with students. While we talked, he leaned in close and whispered, “did you see any topless young ladies while you were on the beaches of Southern France.”

“Of course!” I replied unabashed, “I also saw many topless old ladies on the beach.” He responded by doubling over in pain.

Pampelonne

At that time, my parents visited a village in Southern France called Gassin every August. They still go to Southern France to this day, and I’ve taken my family there with them a few times.

There was one day where my son, who was a young child at the time, was quite tired from the trip and adventuring. This same day, my wife was feeling under the weather. Mom and dad took me and my son to the beach, while my wife got some extra needed sleep. The beach was, I guess, Pampelonne Beach or at least a beach near there.

You see, as I understand it, Pampelonne is a long stretch of beach just south of St Tropez. I guess we visited somewhere from the middle to the southern end. I was lead to believe that as you go north on the beach toward St Tropez, the beach goers get more and more topless and nakeder.

Of course, my mother bought a bathing suit for me, just for this trip. Now, I was a slender guy at the time. I’m about 5 foot 8 inches, and I probably weighed about 160 or 170 pounds at the time. Now this bathing suit was a “medium.” However, when my mother buys clothes for me, I believe she goes to a big and tall store along with profession athletes who play football, basketball and sumo wrestling. I vision her elbowing her way up to the men’s bathing suit rack blurting out, “Out of my way, Tubby!” She finds the first suit with the key words on it: “Ralph Lauren” or “Polo.” Mom always gets me that Ralph Lauren stuff.

Now, imagine my mother, all five feet two of her, holding a pair of navy blue and olive green swim trunks by the waste band high above her head. Now, imagine the hem of the trunks brushing the floor as she stretches her arms up as high as she can. Now, imagine my mom saying to herself, “Yeah, well, I guess these will fit him.” Off she goes to pay $120.00 or more on enough fabric to set sail in a three mast square rig tall ship.

So, now, here I am on Pampelonne Beach on the Mediterranean coast of Southern France. Speedo land, and here I am wearing a circus tent around my hips. I just know there was a trapeze act going on between my knees, and clowns were piling out of a VW then pointing at my ankle and laughing. I couldn’t feel them, because there was a lot of room, but I just had a feeling they were there after the show with the dancing elephants’ was over.

Beignets

While I was sitting there on a beach, I witnessed a behavior that I felt was totally unexpected on a beach. A young, college aged man, wearing nothing but tight red speedos and a straw hat, is walking up and down the beach yelling, “Beignets!” at the top of his lungs. No no no, not “big nets.” It’s French. Some of the letters you say, and some other letters you don’t mention. The word sounds more like “ban yay.”

What is a beignet? It’s a doughnut. (That’s right. It’s spelled doughnut. Do not spell it donut). A beignet is a rather large, sticky, sugary doughnut filled with chocolate or cream filling or jelly. If that sounds good to you, that’s okay. On my more recent trips, I’ve seen beignet vendors selling … doughnuts … to very sexy, bikini clad girls and young women from special carts that can be pushed through the sand.

This guy in the red speedos, however, had a huge tray of beignets. These doughnuts were piled at least three layers deep. They were getting squashed. The hot sun beat down on them melting the sugar and frosting. They were exposed to the sea breezes full of grit, sand, and salt. The very sexy, bikini clad girls and young women bought them up like mad. Imagine your favorite ever February Sports Illustrated cover model, wearing a top optional bikini that barely holds itself in place, gnawing on a warm and squashed éclair the size of a large submarine sandwich from you favorite Italian deli. But, they eat whatever in France, and everybody stays skinny. Maybe the ingested sand gives them extra fiber.

The attempt a swim

After the beignet boy goes away, and after the German women go by (I was told that you can tell when there German, because they’re completely naked), I felt it safe enough to traverse the sand to take a dip in the sea. As I walked, my legs swung back and forth like clappers inside humongous church bells, that were the pant legs of my enormous bathing suit. I slalom my way around people in tiny skintight swimwear, half on and half off.

I enter the water. The azure water was warm and lovely. I slipped in about belly deep, and there I saw this woman. Yes, she was topless, and her small perky breasts were exposed for all to see. She was petite, slender and fit. She played and splashed in the water. Her hair was short and blonde. But, there was still something rather ugly about her.

following me

Der Mann mit dem großen Badeanzug verfolgt mich.

Well, this sounds mean, but I didn’t want her to catch me looking at her. Well, yes, I’m sure women say the same thing about me all the time. Anyway, I turn away from her. I hold my breath, dunk fully under the water, and swim away. I pop my head above water. I get my footing. I wipe my wet hair and water from my face, and there is the same woman in front of me continuing to splash and play. I immediately turn around, dunk and swim away. I pop up from the water, and there she is again. I immediately turn, dunk and swim away. I pop up from the water, and there she is again. Only this time she’s with a … paramour wearing black speedos. Nothing came of it, but they were look at me as if I was a prowling letch. Normally, I am a prowling letch, but hey, I got standards.

Oui!

I retreated back to the blanket and chaise next to my parents. I think it took the better part of the week for my swim shorts to dry.

Now I come to the most intriguing part of my recollection. I’m sitting in a chaise, surrounded by a crowd of European beach goers. Yet, over to my left, I can’t see them, but I know they’re there. Well, I did see them once or twice venturing back and forth from the cabana for cold drinks and snack. These were the cutest college aged partially bikini clad French girls on the beach. The exact kind of sweet, tender young things – douces jeunes filles – that a fellow would fantasize about when thinking of travels to the French Riviera. Of course!

Now, I can’t see them. The sounds of the beach – the talking, the sea birds, the breeze, the crash of the waves – are all quieting down to a low hum. I can hear them giggling away in French.

Then, they are visited by a man, un hom. Now, they were speaking in French, and my grasp of the language is limited. However, I’m certain that the conversation went as follows:

Three sexy filles:
Le Hom: Bon jour.
Three sexy filles:
Le Hom: Doo yoo lak mah classeek Mediterranean features?
One of the sexy filles: Oui!
Le Hom: Doo yoo lak mah curlee dark har?
One of the sexy filles: Oui!
Le Hom: Doo yoo lak mee?
One of the sexy filles: Non!

Then the poor fellow left all dejected. As soon as he left, the sexy French girls return to their giggling in French. That is, until the next fellow comes along.

Three sexy filles:
Le Hom: Bon jour.
Three sexy filles:
Le Hom: Doo yoo lak Leetel red speedoh?
One of the sexy filles: Oui!
Le Hom: Doo yoo lak mah beeg tray of beignets?
One of the sexy filles: Oui!
Le Hom: Doo yoo lak mee?
One of the sexy filles: Non!

Rock Pond Georgetown

Rock Pond

Rock Pond

How to Eat Yogurt

Step by step instructions on how to eat yogurt in the office:
(This is why I can’t get anything done)

1. Go to little office fridge, and select a single serving yogurt container.
2. Bring the container to your desk.
3. Open drawer, find box of plastic spoons, and select one.
4. Peel off foil lid from yogurt container.
5. It will not come off in one piece like it does in advertisements; it never does.
6. Pick off remaining pieces of the lid.
7. Fruit flavors are layered at the bottom of the yogurt container. Use the spoon to stir and mix the contents.
8. As you stir, realize that this liquid is splashing out of the container onto your plastic desk blotter.
9. Calmly, place the container on the desk, and retrieve paper towels.
10. Wipe the surface of the ink blotter with the paper towels, and notice that the fluid is not immediately absorbed by the towels. Rather it just gets smeared around.
11. Get more towels, and repeat this process until the fluid appears to dissipate.
12. Throw the used and now messy paper towels in the trash. (If you are repeating steps 10, 11, & 12 by following instructions from step 24, you may now proceed to step 25.)
13. As you turn back towards your desk, notice the eerie gray film that is still left behind, which will surely get sticky and smelly later on in the day.
14. Grab the canister of wet naps.
15. Open the flip lid of the wet naps and notice that you’re the first person to use this canister.
16. You will have to open the main lid of the canister.
a. Find the roll of wet naps inside
b. Take the leading edge of the wet naps and feed it through the slot of the main lid of the canister.
17. At this point, if someone enters the office and asks you, “Hi, what are you up to?” Reply to them, “I’m just eating some yogurt. Isn’t it obvious?”
18. Re-assemble the canister of wet naps.
19. Pull the first wet nap out of the canister.
20. Close the flip lid and return it to shelf.
21. Wipe the eerie gray film, leaving a dewy mix of ammonia, water, alcohol, and lemon fresh scent behind.
22. Throw the wet nap away.
23. Return to paper towels.
24. Pick a paper towel, and repeat steps 10, 11, & 12.
25. Sit back down in office chair, and retrieve your yogurt cup.
26. Holding the yogurt cup in your left hand over a trash container, take the spoon , and finish stirring the contents of your yogurt.
27. Your yogurt is now ready to be consumed. Enjoy!!

2013 World Series

Again, I was lucky enough to go to a Game 1 at Fenway.

Introduction

http://spiralboundstudio.com/2013/20131024worldseries/wordlseries2013c.jpg

http://spiralboundstudio.com/2013/20131024worldseries/wordlseries2013c.jpg

Farrell, Ells, Shane, and Pedrioa

Featuring Koji, Middlebrooks, and Buck

Featuring Koji, Middlebrooks, and Buck

By the Sea

Tide Pool at Crane's Beach

Tide Pool at Crane's Beach

Brown's Island

Brown's Island at Doliber Cove. Not everyone calls it Brown's Island, but I do.

Juniper Cove in the Morning

Juniper Cove in the Morning

Looking at Baker's Island at Dawn

Looking at Baker's Island at Dawn

Plum Island on the Horizon

Plum Island on the Horizon

Yes, they still drive Citroens

Francy Citroen near the beach

Francy Citroen near the beach

Biege

Biege?

Red one at the Geant parkinglot

Red one at the Geant parkinglot

Maroon in Ramatuel 1

Maroon in Ramatuel 1

Maroon in Ramatuel 2

Maroon in Ramatuel 2

Paris

Let me make something perfectly clear. France is fantastic, but I can’t stand Paris.

Bienvenue à Paris!

Bienvenue à Paris!

I first visited Paris as a high school freshman, and I was 14-years old. It was a high school trip, my first trip abroad without my parents. Actually, that trip went fine. I liked it so much, I returned on a high school trip for my sophomore year. That’s where the animosities with Paris begin.

Bridge Locks

The new thing in big cities, you can buy a lock, latch it to a bridge, and leave it there.

French girls are Amercian

... and all the pretty French girls were American.

Nothing bad happened to me personally, but the trip was full of negative events. My chaperone (and good family friend) had his pocket picked on the metro. A trip friend had his pocket picked at Le Place de la Concorde. He actually ran down the culprit and got his stuff back. There was another student, who was swindled out of $500, while waiting in line to exchange money at a train station.

Notre Dame

A walk along the Seine is well worth it.

The Center of Paris

This marker is in front of Notre Dame, and it marks the center of Paris. All distance measurements are taken from this point.

Front Door

Pssst...He's standing on that little guy's back.

We saw two traffic accidents. One happened right in front my chaperone. A car ran a red light, and hit a taxi. I heard my friend as he rushed to help, “Ça va? Ça va? ” The drivers leg was bleeding a bit. A horn from one of the wrecked cars blared on and on. Soon enough, firemen arrived, and they did everything they could to get the horn turned off.

The Facade

The facade catching the light.

Garoyles

Garoyles

Back to more current time, my family and I made a 2-night side trip to Paris. I was reluctant to go, but it was the kids’ first chance to see it. We drove to Marseille and took a fast train to Paris. One of my current travel mates thought we were crazy to go, and I agreed with him actually. He warned me of the “Romanians.” I don’t think he really meant Romanians. Perhaps he was making a derogatory reference about Gypsies. In any case, he was referring to hooligans, French or non-French, in general who move to Paris to take advantage of full-pocketed tourists.

pretty statue

A statue outside of Le Ping Pong Nu Salle de la Renommée de la France

Our hotel was on Rue St. Germaine, only a few blocks from Notre Dame. It was August, so there were very few French people in Paris. I kept saying, “All the pretty French girls are American!” The city was full of Americans, Brits, Italians, and Asians. The only people that spoke French were the frustrated waiters. In La Louvre, the Mona Lisa was mobbed by Americans, and the statue of Cupid and Psyche was swooned over by Italian girls.

Boo!

Boo!

Alas, Paris is still the Paris I recall from my highschool sophomore year. Our first morning there, we were crossing a bridge to Notre Dame where 2 “Romanians” apparently cased me for a mugging or more likely a pocket picking. I was out in front of my family, and these 2 guys approached from the other way. One specifically, stared me in the eyes as he walked at me. If I altered my step to the side, he matched me, and I knew he had a buddy. I knew he wanted bodily contact to rough me up while his buddy fished in my pockets. When we were almost nose-to-nose, I pulled a good ol’ fashioned spin move, which would make Bill Belichick proud. Looked over my shoulder, and the “Romanians” went on their way.

a fish

The French see to like these funky fish.

Of course Paris is not all bad. It is one of the loveliest cities in Europe. Cities in Europe ooze with art and sculpture out on the streets in a way that’s practically impossible in the States. We walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and back). The blend of Gothic, neo-Classical, and Art Nouveau laid before us was literally 850 years in the making.

Montmartre

Didn't make it to Montmartre. This is as close as we got.

I will say that my meager French served me well. I made honest attempts to speak French at every encounter, yes with varied success. But on every encounter, the person I spoke to appreciated the attempt. Often broken French was answered with broken English as we strived to get our concepts across.

Eiffel Tower

Why would anyone go up into a tower built by a guy named, "I Fell?"

Paris in August is like Disney World. No, no, no, it’s not like Disney World; it’s turned into Disney World. Yes, places like Paris are fill with the “Real Thing,” while Disney World is just a facade. The tourists turn the Paris into Disney World. The gift shop at Sainte Chappelle actually sells figurines of Disney characters, mostly from the Hunchback movie. But it’s the lines, the ques. People are willing to spend a morning or an afternoon to stand in a line. The line for the towers of Notre Dame stretched the length of the whole church. It was relatively short, but it was the slowest. Max and I wanted to go up, but we only had the one day in Paris.

Eiffel Tower again

Eiffel Tower again

We walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and back). The lines of people wanting to go up the Eiffel Tower swirled and spiraled their way from as far away as Portugal (I swear!). Those not waiting in line reclined on the grass mall along with the litter of paper, plastic bags and bottle caps.

More Red Sox

build a team

Pedroia: The man to build a team on

Ellsbury

Ellsbury

Ortiz

Ortiz

Bouillabaisse

Okay, let’s start with Bouillabasisse. You can get bouillabaisse in most restaurants in Southern France. It’s a lovely mix of sautéed vegetables then simmered in a tomato, brothy sauce. It’s often served as a side dish, yet not in a crepe or noodle.

Bouillabaisse Lane

Allee de la Bouillabaisse - AKA - Bouillabaisse Lane

But, I’m not really talking about Bouillabasisse the food. I’m talking about a place. First you have to get off the main coastal road, and go down a side road called, “Allee de la Bouillabasse.” That’s French for “Bouillabasses Lane.” That illustrates a key difference between French and English. French, by default, almost always uses more words to mention the same thing than in English.

Mimosas Lane

Not likely to get a glass of Mimosa here.

The other thing you have to remember when you translate from English to French or back again, is that English is a rough language. Always speak English with a rough grumbly tone, especially American English. When you speak French, be light and airy. Envision yourself as Audrey Hepburn when speaking French. In fact, I downloaded a French vocabulary app. I plugged it into my car sound system. The English word would be given in a very masculine tone “FISH,” while the speakers voice involuntarily turned feminine when giving the French translation, “Le Poisson.” Also, note that it takes one word to say “fish” in English, but two in French.” It’s just the way French is.

Sadly, you don’t go down Allee des Mimosas (3 words), which means Mimosas Lane (2 words). I was just very recently asked if they serve mimosas there at the Allee des Mimosas, and the answer is most likely not. A mimosa is, of course, orange juice with a champagne floater. When you see the sign, avoid the temptation, and look for a little dirt path on the left. That will bring you to Bouillabaisse Cove.

Bouillabaisse Cove

Bouillabaisse Cove

The cove is small. There may be beach goers there seeking and intimate, less crowded setting. I’m told there’s good snorkeling and plenty of fish.

Bouillabaisse Cove Mermaids

Complete with mermaids

There’s also a path that leads back to the big beach at the Baie de Cavalaire. Well, it’s not a complete path. You see that photo with the stairs way in the background? Well, somewhere from the vantage point of the photograph and those stairs, the path ends. You have to crawl over rocks and through some mild surf to get to those stairs where the trail resumes.

Steps

Get to the steps

Many of the following photo may remind you of the Caribbean. It’s not. It’s the Mediterranean, which is also difficult to spell. The water of both seas are not merely blue. Rather they are aqua marine, yet either tone of aqua marine is different.

Along the Path 1

Along the Path 2

Back to the beach at trail's end

Back to the beach at trail's end

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