Friends, Cities and Family

The last week of April the better half and I celebrated 29 years together by treating ourselves to a east coast trip to both New York and Philadelphia. The kind lady that the check in desk of New York’s Marriott Marquis Time Square surprised us with a room upgrade. We found ourselves blessed with an unbelievable 35th floor view of Time Square eye to eye with the famous clock.

Time Square View April 2019

New York was wonderful. We made it to the Guggenheim, the Frick, MOMA, the Vessel, Bergdorf’s, the Fashion Institute, Mood, a Metz game, Rockefeller Center, Macy’s and of corse Tiffany. We saw To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Cher Show and Dear Evan Hansen. A whirlwind it was, a good one in fact.

Fearsome met a rather inspiring politician at Penn station awaiting his train to Philly.

Elijah E. Cummings

In Philly we were greeted by three wonderful friends and bloggers. Bloggers known as Mistress Maddie,  Arteejee  and none other than the famous Anne Marie in Philly. We had a great dinner with the three of them. Fun conversation and lots of laughter. Blogging really does have its benefits. The bloggers I’ve met in person over the years have all become treasured friends. I’ll be back to see these three!

Todd, Fearsome, Maddie and Anne Marie

The next day was spent with family as a Fearsome’s niece lives just outside of Philadelphia . We attended a Phillies game with the whole crew.

The better half is obviously celebrating the day, Cinco De Mayo.  …back row… Fearsome, Mom, Sister in law, brother, nephew in law, …next row… The Better Half, niece in law, great niece, great niece, great nephew and niece all taking in a Phillies game on May 5, 2019.

The highlight of our trip? Well there were many and you know what? The whole trip was a highlight. I’m blessed with a husband I love, friends I love and family I love.

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Notre Dame

It was late December as my birthday was approaching number of years ago in the late 1990s, I was starting to pack for a weekend away to Palm Springs to celebrate the passing of another year. While I was packing my Better Half walked into the room with an envelope. He handed it to me and said “I think you had better open this as it may help you pack.”

I opened the envelope to find a round trip ticket to my favorite city on earth, Paris. We would be leaving in 48 hours. Wow, what a surprise! A week in Paris, a week in Paris the first week of January. Yeah, I guess the bathing suits I was packing weren’t going to be useful for this trip.

I had only been to Paris once before but it had already secured that special place in my heart that it still holds today. My first trip there had only been probably some 18 months before. On that trip it was high tourist season. Getting even close to Notre Dame was almost impossible on that first trip. However I remember my first glimpse of that imposing structure that was also one of the most beautiful works of art I had even seen. Still to this day I can feel my breath leave my body as I turned the corner to look up and see it’s magnificence.

I was transported to another time. I knew this beauty. I knew this cathedral like I knew the back of my hand. I knew deep inside of me, having never even paid attention to photos much less studying anything about it, that I had been there before. Whether it was some dream or maybe a past life experience I’ll never know, but I had been here. I knew her grandiosity to the point of intimate comfort. I could not wait to get inside to re-visit the interior that I knew so well. However this story isn’t about that trip. That was the first trip there. The trip where I actually laid eyes on a familiar place for the first time. The first time at least in this lifetime.

This trip, this special trip that the man who would one day be my legal husband gave me as a birthday present, was in the dead of winter. Turns out tourists don’t go to Paris in the dead of winter, or at least not the first week of January. It was cold but it was magnificent. It was the two of us freezing Southern Californians and a city with its doors wide open and no one in our way.

We walked right up to the ticket counter at the Eiffel Tower, with not a soul in line to buy a ticket, and walked right up to step onto an elevator. An elevator all the way to the top with only two others aboard. We walked into The Louvre only to walk right up to the Mona Lisa, when before we couldn’t even get into the room where the Mona Lisa was. We walked right into the magnificent work of art that is Notre Dame and spent hours enveloped in the beauty, history and majesty that I adored. I adored not only from my previous trip but knew from some other time, some other experience that was still a mystery to me. We walked right over to the corner, where we previously may have had to wait outside in line all day to even hopefully possibly access,  only to take our first step into her infamous towers and walk right up to the top.

Seeing Paris from The Eiffel Tower is incredible. Seeing Paris from the towers of Notre Dame is life changing.

A young Fearsome Beard sets eyes on the most beautiful city in the world from the top of the world’s most magnificent work of art, Notre Dame. 

The Better Half with Fearsome, Thank you Better Half.

Two of the famous friends we made that day in Paris.

Where in the world is Fearsome now?

Fearsome and I left my brother’s house in Virginia and arrived in Ft. Lauderdale FL this afternoon.

We checked into one of our favorite resorts only to hear a friendly voice call over to us. We, or should I say Fearsome, had been recognized by a daily reader. He and his friend were most friendly and complimentary. He has quite a nice beard himself.

After a short conversation we found out that he apparently discovered Fearsome Beard shortly after we started blogging on June 1, 2014. We were honored and are humbled.

We snapped a quick photo and thus we have a spontaneous Beard of the day. I didn’t ask permission to use their names or home location so I’ll keep those mum, but their photo we will post.

Cheers to the benefits of blogging and Thank You to all of my dear readers!

They don’t only give cover to their pedofiles

The Catholic Church doesn’t only cover up and enable their pedofiles, they also apparently fly them first class.

Yes I did just say that.

I also did just board a flight from San Diego to Chicago.

I had noticed the Priest dressed in his ultra conservative garb in the waiting area. I wondered to myself how anyone could wear an outfit in public that is so closely relatable to pedofilia. It seems that every day on the news yet another cover up, another molestation, another victim, yet another crime, yet another child’s life pretty much corrupted and destroyed by men who hide behind religion to protect each other as they prey on innocent youth for their sexual pleasure.

Fucking criminal perverts.

So as I take my seat I look across the aisle only to see that the money the Catholic Church takes in to supposedly feed the poor is not only used up pay out lawsuits for the church’s cover up, but it’s also used to buy first class seats in order to fly the criminal perverts, or those who cover up for them, from one city to another.

Religion disgusts me.

Capital Treasures

As we sit boarding our stopover flight in Denver, memories of the past week of travels fill Fearsome’s brain. He asked that I post a few pics to document a few of his favorites.

Easter at the National Cathedral

Spring gardens at Dumbarton Oaks

Cezanne 

Pollack

Nickson

Warhol

Hopper

A Leader

An Inspiration

A Cause

May we never forget the cause. May we pick up the baton and continue forward.

Changing Horizons

Yesterday after having an incredible time at breakfast breaking bread with a dear blogger friend (or Penguin in this case), we walked the banks of the tidal basin to take in the texture of full Cherry Blossom.

Monumental Blossom

Only to arise early today that we might jet down the coast for a tasty lunch by the southern sea.

Casa Blanca Cafe Ft. Lauderdale Beach

“Live Love Laugh” were the words that Fearsome left behind in the temple of Burning Man. Wherever I am may I always remember to pause, be grateful and to Live Love Laugh.

Hey Fearsome! Why you so quiet these days?

Flu

or something like it.

Damn this cold/flu thing. I started to feel something coming on right before the new year. Then I felt ok. Then I felt something coming on. Then I felt ok. Then I really felt something coming on. Then I thought I beat it because I again felt ok. Then last week it hit. Hit hard. Got a little better.

I had this trip to Florida and I felt as if I was on the mend so I made the trip. I had a good day flying and the next day I wasn’t feeling so good. Three days later and I’m just plain sick.

I don’t write when I don’t feel well. So hang in there and enjoy the daily beard postings.

I sit in a hotel room pretty much almost 24 hours a Day right now. I’m grateful the room and bed are comfortable. I head home Saturday. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by then.

Family

We are blessed. We have two families. The one we were born into and the one we choose.

Our natal families folded into one larger family after we settled into our life together. I into The Better Half’s, he into mine and ours into each other. This made for one big family that blessed us even more.

Living away from our family for many years allowed us to choose a chosen family of good friends who care and love each other as if we had always been and will continue to be. This family is large and blesses our home with more than 30 holiday celebrants each and every Christmas Day. Our blessing overflows.

Our friends extend beyond or natal family and our chosen family into our work, interests, neighbors, bloggers, vacation acquaintances and just plain old good friends who live both near and far. Our bounty of blessings humble us.

Love, respect and sincerity are the basis of this blessing we call family.

This most recent trip filled our cup. I met with two blog buddies for a wonderful dinner. Unfortunately the third wasn’t able to join due to an illness but we sent our love to him in hopes that better days lie ahead. We, the better half & I, then set off via Amtrack to New York with part of my natal family for one of those experiences that money could never buy (but definitely helps with😉).

You see after the loss of my father I asked my mother, who had been caring for him, where had she always wanted to go. She said New York to see The Rockettes. That was her dream. Not Paris, not London, not even Hawaii. I promised her then that we would take her to New York. It took two years and she lost her oldest son before it happened, but it happened. We made a family trip out of it with Mom, me, The Better Half, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, her husband, two great grandchildren and a nephew.

Family

Nothing, no nothing will ever mean as much to me as my mother grabbing my hand after the curtain fell at the end of The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular as tears streamed down her face as she said “I have never seen anything so beautiful!” They exceeded her expectations and believe me she had high expectations.

For her to have her family with her on a trip she had only dreamed of all of her life, a dream she probably thought would never come to be, was truly a dream come true. I cannot express my gratitude for the blessing that that moment, my family and life truly is.

The moral of this post, at least for me, is that this is our one life, so live it, love it, share it, and give it. Give it to your natal family, or your chosen family, or both. Give it to someone you meet, you work with, you run into or even to someone you don’t know at all. Give a smile, share a laugh, respect, understand, forgive, serve and most of all love. Just love.

Entering Macy’s Herald Square entrance during the debut moment of holiday decorations.

The employees lined the side of the aisle and cheered us as we entered the store, Stunning

Lady Liberty

911 Memorial, -emotional-

Fearsome Photobombing in Time Square

Sightseeing under Lady Liberty

3rd row Center Stage at Radio City

Santa

The Rockettes

Up front and close enough to see their smiles!

From 5 to 85, New York is fabulous, family makes it even better!

Live from New York

Fearsome and his family take on The Big Apple!

Fearsome and the Family

Wind blown with Mom on Top of The Rock

At St. Patrick’s

In Time Square with The Better Half

Enjoying Renoir

Eating real Chinese (except with a fork)

Experiencing Egyptian ruins

Travel day!

Today we fly to Philly to stop on our way to join Mom, Brother, sister-in-law, a niece, her husband, their two kids and a nephew for a train trip into the Big Apple. Mom has always dreamed of seeing The Rockettes, so we are all taking her to Radio City Music Hall for The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular!

Fearsome & I are headed out a day early so we can have dinner with Todd , Anne Marie and Mistress Maddie!

WooHoo! We is gonna have a blast!

The Iconic Boeing 747

First released in 1968, Boeing’s 747 was, and still is, an engineering marvel.

United is retiring their 747 fleet for more fuel efficient 777 & 787 aircraft and fuel efficiency is a definately valid reason. Other airlines will continue to fly them so the iconic look will still be seen in larger international ports. However their numbers may continue to dwindle as technology changes.

I’ve only flown the 747 six times in all of my travels on these routes:  Miami to Aruba, San Diego to London, Los Angeles to Sydney. Thus far it is my favorite airliner. The adjectives roomy and majestic come to mind. I even know the layout well enough that I have a favorite seat. I’ll miss this mighty bird for she gave me many wonderful memories.

Somewhere in the southern Caribbean

Many a moon ago aboard Dolphin Cruise Line’s SS Sea Breeze we found ourselves anchored just off the coast of Aruba. Fearsome was in remission at the time as I had developed a bad habit called shaving, but he was there in spirit as he always is. It was an early morning under the searing southern Caribbean sun and not a good morning for the hangover from last evenings heavy drinking dance floor adventures.

We found ourselves amongst  many other bleary eyed hungover gay men searching for that perfect spot on deck of this RSVP cruise from which to observe that days total solar eclipse. We were anchored just off the coast of Aruba for a reason, we were in the path of totality in a spot calculated to have the longest time in actual totality, about 3 minutes 40 seconds to my recollection. That sun was hot and all I wanted was a place to sit down, drink my coffee and nurse this hangover. A friend handed me a Bloody Mary. Life was suddenly better.

A passenger affectionately known as The Chicken Lady passed by pouring creme in anyone’s coffee who needed it. She was carrying her trademark chicken purse and the creme flowed on demand into awaiting coffee cups out of an artificial breast that she wore under her bikini top. The Chicken Lady wasn’t known to be reserved nor inhibited in any way imaginable.

The ship’s crew worked feverishly to make sure all 800 passengers were well taken care of and comfortable. They made sure we all had our beverages of choice as well as our solar eclipse viewers. Morning cocktial music played, we laughed, the scent of sunscreen permeated the air and we waited.

The searing heat of the tropical sun started to diminish. A quick check with the solar eclipse glasses confirms that the moon has begun it’s journey between us and our sun. It seemed as if someone had found both the dimmer and the thermostat as not only was the light becoming more appropriate for a party, but the heat had been turned down a notch. We continued our wait laughing with our friends, checking the moon’s progress through the viewers and ordering more cocktails.

Suddenly it all changed.

I had experienced partial eclipses before. No. Big. Deal.

This was different.

In the distance it appears as if a very dark storm had formed. It was black out there. It was moving. It was moving fast and it was headed toward us. However there were no clouds but just darkness. Not just darker but black. This shadow was moving and there was no escaping it. That shadow of black was coming for us and fast. We adorned the viewers and looked up to find just a tiny pierce of the sun left and then it was gone. Nothing left but a faint corona and then a voice from the crowd, all on their feet at this moment, screamed “It’s safe now, take off your glasses!”

Our photos from Aruba’s total eclipse

Nighttime. Nighttime with all the stars out yet a faint light of dawn 360 degrees around us just at the lip of horizon. The birds, the songs of the birds as if it were daybreak. The lights, all the streetlights and lighted signs on the tiny island of Aruba had lit up. It was nighttime but it wasn’t. The horizon was beautiful. The colors of sunrise 360 degrees around us with all the stars out and this black circle above us. Tiny black, very black circle with a moving light shimmering around it.

Surreal.

Ouch! The light! Someone screams”Glasses on!”

The moon had moved on and the first pierce of intense light had broken through. The sun was back, although just a tiny corner. We looked down to realize that we were no longer in the dark shadow as a faint light of sun had encompassed us. The shadow was moving again. The darkness had left us and it was moving again, moving away from us. Moving away fast. We could see it’s circular edge moving across the sea as the light replaced the darkness in the water. The great storm of darkness moved on and so fast that we couldn’t follow it.

We watched as the wonderment of that total eclipse moved on for others to experience that day.

Then we danced.

Today I sit in awe and gratitude for all the gifts I have been blessed with thus far in my wonderful life. Thus far!

Happy Eclipse!