Sunny Afternoon in Paris

The Cathedral of Notre Dame (“our lady”). Two blocks from our rented apartment.

Nous sommes à Paris!

(We are in Paris!)

It is a gorgeous afternoon in Paris and, after a busy first several days, we are having a lazy few hours at the temporary headquarters of The Working Stiff.  The Mrs. is relaxing inside while I am sitting out on our little terrace above the busy Boulevard St. Germain.  It is a narrow terrace but has enough room for a little bistro table and two chairs.

Like London, Paris is a city that is divided by a major river running through it with an east-west orientation.  The river in London is The Thames (pronounced “tems” – don’t try to complicate it by saying the “H”, or people might think you’re from Rhode Island.  Just say “tems”), which flows from west to east.  In Paris, The Seine flows in the opposite direction – east to west.  That is the reason that the part of the city (imagine you are in a boat going downstream), to the south of the river is called “The Left Bank”.  The Right Bank is to the north of The Seine. read more

Sunny Morning in London

View looking east along the Thames. We are staying near the Shard skyscraper on the right.

Greetings again from London!  We have been zipping around the city for several days doing some touristy things and some not-so-touristy things.  I think at this point we are mostly adjusted to the time change but it is still a bit hard to get up early in the morning.  Mrs. Working Stiff has been very pleased at the very fall-like weather here.   One note to myself for future visits would be that it would be good to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt even in July or August.  Also, the need to bring that umbrella is no joke! Fortunately, we packed (and used) two of them. read more

Hello from Swinging London!

Border Control at 7:00 AM!

Well hello from SWINGING LONDON!

It is just after 8:00 AM (3:00 AM in Philadelphia) here on what will clearly be a beautiful day.  We got into the city yesterday by about this time after an on-time flight followed by a long wait in an enormous passport control room with a thousand or two other people.  Giant signs all around announcing that this was the “UK Border” and that if we had any intention of seeking asylum- this was the time and place to do it.

We briefly pondered that option, figuring that the British authorities would likely grant us asylum based simply on the results of last November’s election in the US, but ended up just telling the border agent we were on vacation. read more

A Tale of Two Cities

We are finally almost there! All the gods permitting we should be on a plane to London in less than 24 hours.  I have mentioned before in these pages that Mrs. Working Stiff calls me The Planner, and I suppose I come by that moniker naturally.  I do like to research and plan.  As a wise person should say sometime, one need not be a boy scout to appreciate being prepared.  Hhmmmm, maybe I’ll say that myself.

I have been planning and researching, and re-planning and re-researching for so long that I’m sure I deserve an advanced degree in something or other. (Mixology?) read more

Quotable Quotes

Crepe Myrtle Trees in Raleigh, NC

(Today’s picture has nothing to do with the bulk of this entry.)

I traveled to Raleigh a few weekends ago to hang out with my brother. Later this year he and his wife plan to relocate to the area of St. Augustine Beach, so I figured I’d better get in a last summertime visit.   The Crepe Myrtles were in glorious bloom all over town!  I took this picture during a walk around the neighborhood.  They were really quite something to see, especially when a whole bunch of them were lined up in a row. read more

Flags and a Major Award

Happy 5th of July everyone!  Hopefully no fingers were blown off yesterday.  Actually, at least a few times in my younger (and dumber) years, I have had firecrackers go off in my hand.  I can tell it to you straight that it hurts like a $#!@#@**&!, but, temporary pain aside, all ten of my fingers are still right where they’re supposed to be!

In keeping with an informal tradition of a handful of years, our neighbor joined us for a simple dinner at our favorite local spot, after which we retired to the deck of the Chateau Working Stiff for too much excellent California wine. We did light off a few packs of Black Cats and a small assortment of other spinning, whizzing, and spark-shooting things out in the street in front of the house.  Apart from that we retired without bothering to catch any of the major firework displays that must have been airing on all the networks.  One of the firecrackers must have somehow gotten inside my skull, because I remember having to get up at about 2:30 to take a Motrin.  Or maybe that was the wine. read more

Some Ambient Morning

Just a brief entry to report on a strange and interesting thing we encountered this morning.  It being a leisurely Sunday morning we were relaxing upstairs with our coffee and waking up gradually to our favorite Philadelphia radio station, WXPN 88.5.

I should mention that WXPN does a regular morning show on Sunday that they call Sleepy Hollow.  It’s all about quiet music to wake up to.  Earlier than that, like midnight to six A.M. or close to that, is a show called Echoes, which features all manner of new age and trance-like music.  (We rarely hear that show unless we are doing something unusual such as driving to the airport for a super-early flight.)  Generally, that stuff stops by about 6:00 and they start playing more mainstream music. read more

Anniversary in Princeton

We did a little celebratin’ last weekend to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Working Stiff! We made a reservation at the Westin Princeton Forestal Village (on Rt. 1 just outside of Princeton) for Saturday night and set off on our mini-adventure.

Our first stop was Grounds for Sculpture, also just off Rt. 1 east of Trenton.  The weather was not great but it was good enough and we had a very nice visit overall.  (I’ve written about Grounds for Sculpture before – please see entry from 11/22/2015.) read more

All Hands on Deck

I’ve been working on the rail-road!

Well not really, but I don’t know any songs about working on the deck! Plus, now you get to have the rail road song in your head all day!

Mrs. Working Stiff and I have been slaving away on a project to refinish our back deck. It has been almost exactly five years since the last time so I guess we can’t complain too much.  The phase of scraping off all the loose junk is complete.  Let me tell you, if you can avoid doing that – avoid it!  It is knuckle-scraping, back-aching, sweat-breaking, sun-baking work.  Not to mention time-taking.  Hopefully though, the result of all this hard work will be breath-taking. read more

Winter to Summer

Visiting the mall in the first week of spring

Never mind spring – welcome to summer! It was in the low 80s yesterday and I believe we are expecting around 85 on Sunday.  I guess all the Easter Eggs will be hard boiled!

Just a quick entry today because I wanted to share this picture I took just a few weeks ago in the last few days of winter. Here in the suburbs north of Philadelphia, Old Man Winter decided to give us one final smack in the face just days before the official start of spring.  Ironically, though we had been hit with “shovel-worthy” snow at least a few times throughout the winter, this storm, at the tail-end of March, was the only one for which I bothered to fire up the snow-thrower. read more