Maya: Illusion. Obscuring the spiritual reality of absolute being with an illusory appearance of the sense-world.
Blog: A place to talk about life rather than to live life.
Blogger: A person who talks about life rather than lives it.
(So why am I blogging instead of living life, you ask?....I did a lot of living, now I want to talk about it, so get off my case!)
"Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering - and it's all over much too soon."
I was lucky enough to spend almost two months with my mom earlier this year. We spent a lot of time watching her soaps, playing card games and just hanging out together. It was still too cold for her to go out and work in her garden or else that’s where I would surely have found my mother everyday. She loves her plants and flowers and they love her! Or else they’re afraid of her!!! LOL!
People bring their sick plants to my mom and as soon as they arrive, my mom tells them, “You better not die on me! I want you to get well and grow! And even if there’s almost no hope for that plant to recover, miracle of miracles, they begin to blossom and grow! It’s true!
My brother, Bob, and sister, Rose, are with my mum this Mother’s Day and I would have loved to have been there as well. Unfortunately I had to return to Paris, but I’m there with her in spirit!
Here’s wishing my 90 year young mom and all moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day!
Maya Muses: When you thank God for giving you the best mom in the world, you know you have a wonderful mother! Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom!!!
If you live in the States then surely you’ve heard about the Jodi Arias trial. For people who live outside of the US this is a murder case that happened in 2008, but is now being tried in a courtroom in Arizona with the death penalty on the line. It’s about a jealous woman stalking her ex-boyfriend and then slaughtering him because he decided to take his new girlfriend on a trip to Cancun, Mexico that he had promised to take her on! That’s the case in a nutshell!
This blog post isn’t about the evidence in this case. There’s plenty of information on the internet which gives a blow by blow account of the trial and what has taken place for the past 4 months. All I’m doing is reflecting on all the lead players in this courtroom drama.
For a woman who claims to be so intelligent, Ms. Arias has slowly but surely painted herself into a corner where she can’t get out! She’s a compulsive liar and manipulator and all her lies boil down to her killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Forensic evidence shows that there’s no way the killing was in self-defense as she claims. When you stab someone 29 times, slice his throat from ear to ear and then shoot him in the head when all she had to do was run out of the house to get away from him, this is much more than self-defense! According to her, he was coming after her, but her story has way too many holes which shows she’s not as smart as she thinks she is! And if Ms. Arias had used even half her brain, she would have done a better job of keeping her superiority complex in check! But, oh no!!! That was impossible for her to do! (Dumb, really, dumb!!!)
Judge Sherry Stephens
Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens has been nothing less than fair throughout the trial. In some cases we can see a judge leaning in favor of one side or the other. Not with Judge Stephens! You couldn’t have asked for a better impartial judge residing over this trial.
And what can I say about the prosecutor, Juan Martinez!? He’s a real pleasure to watch. He let’s nothing, and I mean nothing, slip past him! Ms. Arias has been outwitted by Mr. Martinez and it irks her to the point that she has resorted to name calling on Twitter! Not a very intellectual way of coping if you ask me!
As for the defense in this case, L. Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, there’s only one word that comes to mind - boring! Both lawyers have about as much personality as a dead fish! I’m afraid the jury has fallen asleep on more than one occasion when they were up to bat.
And speaking of bats….for some reason, Ms. LaViolette comes to mind! Poor Dr. Samuels was flustered beyond repair that I’m sure the defense team told Ms. LaViolette not to budge an inch and that’s exactly what she did. She didn’t budge an iota for Mr. Martinez and that’s what made her lose all credibility in her testimony! No side is ever 100% right and the other side 100% wrong! Do you hear me, Ms. LaViolette?!
The most important part of this drama is now the jury and that’s what worries me. Ms. Arias is convinced she will be acquitted and has said as much. I can only hope that they’ll see through her. Bottom line, she’s a lying, conniving, jealous killer who was scorned and who has no remorse for what she’s done, only regret in getting caught. We’ve seen stupid juries in the past that have let murderers get away with their heinous crimes. Hello! Does O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony come to mind??? What were those jurors thinking?
Maya Muses: I pray this jury is smart enough to see through all of Ms. Arias’ bullshit and realize that the only reason why Travis Alexander is dead today is because she couldn’t take rejection! It was a slap to her pride. Well let the justice system slap her back and give her the death penalty which is what she deserves!
Mom and I having breakfast at Barnes & Noble. Green tea and cinnamon scones.
It was difficult saying goodbye to my mom after spending a month and a half with her. Call me lucky because that truly is what I am to have spent that time with her! Each morning I would wake up and go downstairs and see my little mother sitting at the kitchen table eating her fruit, cereal and nuts…..always her nuts, almonds and walnuts for fiber. I would prepare my breakfast: green tea, oatmeal and toast and take a handful of nuts for fiber. Who was I to argue with a 90 year old woman who doesn’t look her age. I would sit down beside her and we would watch the morning shows on tv.
“Change the channel if you want.” she would say.
“Thanks mom!” I would grab the remote and change it to CNN to see what was happening in the world and then switch to HLN for the Jodi Arias trial which, I hate to admit, I became addicted to! After eating, Mom would then go in the living room to watch her soap operas, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. Most of the time I would let her watch her soaps in peace, but sometimes I would watch with her and she would tell me who’s who. She really didn’t need to, I hadn’t watched an episode for 26 years, but it was as if I had just been out of the loop for a week or two! (Yep! I did watch The Bold and The Beautiful in Paris back in the 80’s.) The only difference was now everyone looked like they had gone to mummy heaven hell. Instead of aging gracefully, they now looked like plastic robots who could barely move their lips or blink their eyes. They looked horrible!
At the opera for Madame Butterfly. Bob, Dolores, Natasha, Deb, Mom, and Ari.
Afternoons were for cleaning, washing clothes, straightening up, taking out the garbage, watering the plants, etc. My mom is like the Energizer Bunny she just keeps on going, and going and never stops! We made Russian Tea Cakes and Walnut Tassies. “Let’s make tortillas.” my mom would say. “Okay.” It didn’t matter what we did as long as I spent time with her. We went to the opera to see Madame Butterfly with my aunt (thanks Aunt Dolores!) and cousins. We also went to the casino, one of mom’s favorite past times! Try prying her away from the one arm bandit when she’s on a roll!!!
Mom playing the slots!
My brother Bob would come home from work and after dinner in the evening, mom and I would play our card games on our tablets, sometimes together, sometimes each of us playing a different game: Spider, Forty Thieves, Freecell, or Congress while watching tv. When she got tired, we would say goodnight to Bob and go upstairs and turn on the tv in her room while she got ready for bed. It was always the same, watching Jimmy Kimmel Live because mom loves Guillermo and I got a kick out of him as well. Then Nightline would come on and I would look over at mom who usually had fallen asleep by then. I would kiss her goodnight and shut off the tv and tiptoe my way up to my room on the 3rd floor and read until I fell asleep.
Mom in her garden last summer. 90 years young!
I knew she was counting the days to when the weather would be warm enough for her to spend time in her garden. It’s what she loves best to do, but Punxsutawney Phil was way off the mark! So far off that there was a warrant out for his arrest. Some people wanted to give poor Punxsutawney Phil the death penalty they were so tired of winter dragging on! It may have been Spring when I left Pittsburgh, but you wouldn’t have known it by the weather! It was still cold and chilly. I had on my coat, scarf and gloves. As my mom and brother, Bob, took me to the airport, the trees still didn’t have any leaves on them just like when I had arrived.
Along the Seine.
Maya Muses: It was sad saying goodbye. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but I had to get home. I landed in Paris on a bright sunny day. The winter trees that I had left behind hours earlier were now in full bloom. Spring was definitely in the air and April in Paris was exactly like people imagine. The sidewalk cafés were filled with Parisians basking in the sunshine and the Seine sparkled as Bateaux Mouches moved along the water. I was home, but it was bittersweet.
Last night my mom and I sat and watched the black smoke billowing from the chimney of the Vatican. Then again this morning we waited for news on who would be the next pope along with over a billion people around the world, not to mention a seagull or two! Finally a little after 2 p.m. EDT white smoke appeared announcing that a new pope had been elected. We were glued to the tv, excited to see who would become the new pontiff and we waited and waited. It brought back memories of nearly 35 years earlier in 1978 when my mother and I just happened to be in Rome when Pope John Paul I was elected after the death of Pope Paul VI.
We were traveling around Italy from Turin to Naples with stops in Milan, Florence, Pisa, Venice and Rome. We weren’t really following the news (no internet and no smart phones back then) so you can imagine our surprise when we came back to Rome from Brindisi and Pope John Paul I had mysteriously died and a new pope was being elected who turned out to be Pope John Paul II.
The Shroud of Turin
Our Italian trip was made up of serendipitous moments that just kept putting us in the right place at the right time. Before seeing two popes in the Vatican we had arrived in Italy from France. My mother and I spent a total of 6 months (yes six!) bumming around Europe and Scandinavia that year. I was in my twenties and my mom in her fifties and we didn’t have any itinerary. We just did what we felt like doing. So as our train headed toward Turin, more and more people kept getting on. So many people! The train was packed and then in Turin, it seemed like everyone was getting off, so we asked people what was happening in Turin. Where was everyone going?
Waiting in line to see the Shroud.
Lo and behold, the Shroud of Turin was on public display for the first time in 45 years! Of course my mother and I jumped off the train and followed the crowd. We were two of the more than 3½ million people who came from around the world to view the famous cloth.
Maya Muses: So many wonderful memories of our travels throughout Italy as we watched the scene unfolding at the Vatican! I could think of nothing better than walking down memory lane with my mother today as we waited and finally saw Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina become Pope Francis, the 266th pope. Viva il Papa!
When you hear about all the violence in schools nowadays, you wonder where this world is headed. At least, I do! You can’t turn on the news and not hear about teen gangs, or school shootings, or a suicide due to someone being bullied until a poor kid takes his/her own life.
Well this isn’t about one of those all too frequent episodes, instead this post is about hope for the future. Hope for this young generation! Two days ago in El Paso, Texas it was the final basketball game of the season for two rival high schools, the Coronado Thunderbirds and the Franklin Cougars and if anything is going to give you hope for the young people of today, this story will!
It was ‘Senior Night’ and Mitchell Marcus, a senior and a special needs student, has been part of management for the Coronado basketball team since he was a freshman. He’s the guy who gets the players water, picks up the balls, and does the odds and ends to help anyway he can so his beloved team can be the best they can, but he had never put on a uniform or played in a single game.
Not until two nights ago when coach Peter Morales told Mitchell to suit up. Mitchell was thrilled to be in uniform, but had no idea that his teammates were hoping to get enough of a lead in the game so that Mitchell could be put into the game and that’s exactly what the T-birds did.
There was still 90 seconds left in the game and they had a 10 point lead, but if you know basketball, it’s a fast paced game and anything is possible down to the final second. It was a risky decision for coach Morales to put Mitchell in the game, especially since a win would give the T-birds an undefeated (14-0) season, but the coach and the team wanted him in the final game!
His teammates told Mitchell to go wait down on their side of the court and so he went as the T-birds took hold of the ball and got it to him. Mitchell threw the ball, but the ball bounced off the rim on his first attempt. The Cougars retrieved the ball and ran down to their side of the court, but once again as seconds ticked off the clock the T-birds ran the ball to Mitchell. Again he missed and then one of his teammates stole the ball from the opposing team and again Mitchell had his chance to score, but didn’t. He then fumbled the ball out of bounds on his next try.
There was only 14 seconds left to the game and the gym was yelling his name, “Mitchell, Mitchell…..” and then, that’s when this game became more than just a game. It became a memorable evening and an example of hope in the game of life. Franklin High School player Jon Montanez didn’t throw the ball to one of his teammates waiting further down the court. No, he called to Mitchell and he threw his rival the ball. “Shoot it, it’s your time.” he said. And so with just seconds left in the game, Mitchell took several shots and missed, but now he had everyone in the auditorium rooting for him.
The Franklin team and the Coronado team watched as the ball refused to go through the hoop four more times, but with only a few seconds left on the clock, Mitchell’s ball finally landed right into the basket for two points. The entire gym went wild, everyone cheered and the kids ran down on the court to lift Mitchell in the air.
Maya Muses: It was Mitchell’s first, his last and his only game, but this was more than a game and it was more than an example of sportsmanship. As I said at the beginning of this post, it was an example of hope for this young generation that showed us these players understood that life is much more than just a basketball game. Bravo guys!!!
Maya Muses: I know it’s a day late to be wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day, but I wanted to share Louise’s interpretation (from the Voice) of La Vie en Rose. I posted this video on Patrick’s Facebook page yesterday and shared it with friends on FB, but I also wanted to share it with my blog readers. If you’ve never heard her wonderful rendition of this famous French song, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy and I hope everyone had a great V-day!
Patrick and I were heading home on the bus the other evening during rush hour and as everyone knows, during rush hour you get nowhere fast! Cars were bumper to bumper, a chorus of horns were honking just for the sake of making noise, but surprisingly our bus was not that crowded.
As we inched our way up the rue de Rivoli nearing the Louvre, an older gentleman got on the bus who looked like he had never been on a public bus before in his life. If anything, he looked like he was use to having his personal chauffeur drive him around the city. He was dressed in a cashmere overcoat and he wore a white silk scarf thrown around his neck like he was Snoopy the Red Baron. His shoes were as shiny as any well kept limo, but it was more than that. It was his presence, his aura that made him look out of place in his surroundings.
I even said to Patrick as he made his way to where we were seated near the back of the bus, “He looks like he should be getting out of a limo in front of the Crillon instead of on the bus.”
The gentleman sat down, but he was agitated as we slowly inched our way down the avenue. About ten minutes later, the guy gets up and he says loudly to the bus driver, “Si vous plaît!”
The bus driver looks at him from his rear view mirror and the guy says, “Could you drive faster, please. I’m in a hurry and I’m late for a rendez-vous!”
Everyone on the bus burst out laughing! A guy behind us said, “If he’s in a hurry, he should’ve taken a taxis not a bus.”
Another guy added, “It’s bumper to bumper, where does he want the driver to go?”
A lady seated next to us said, “What, he thinks the bus driver is his chauffeur?!”
People were snickering and Patrick got in on the conversation. “Come on bus driver, rev up your whirly blades and let’s hover over all this traffic!”
That gave everyone a good laugh.
The poor guy was really out of his element, but he made the day for everyone else on the bus. Laughter is contagious and this man had the whole bus laughing as we moved further along. It was funny not because his request was so outrageous, but because the guy was serious in asking for the bus driver to move it along! This man was use to getting what he wanted!
Not that night, however! About 20 minutes later we finally made it to the Place de la Concorde and sure enough the gentleman gets off the bus in front of the Hôtel de Crillon where a bunch of limos are parked and the beautiful jet set people are dressed in their finest for a gala evening.
The back door of the bus opens and this gentleman stands on the platform before he steps off the bus like he’s stepping off of his own private jet. He waves his arms at a group of people standing in front of the luxury hotel. “Voilà, I’m here!” he yells. The look on his friends faces seeing him come off of a public bus gave everyone on the bus another round of laughter!
Maya Muses: I’m sure he’ll be telling everyone he knows how he happened to take (God forbid) public transportation because his limo broke down, but I don’t think he realizes what fun he brought to all of us on the bus that evening that otherwise would have been just another ride home!
Patrick and I left the center of Paris at 10:05 a.m. on the Eurostar and we were in the heart of London by 11:05 a.m.!!! One hour from Paris to London! Okay, two hours really, but if you’re talking local time, then yes it is and you can’t beat that!
Our neighborhood in London
I was a bit apprehensive about going through the chunnel, especially after our boating accident where both Patrick and I almost drowned in the Atlantic Ocean, but that’s another story! I tried not to think about it as our train made it’s way down into the tunnel 640 ft. below sea level. Thank goodness the time underwater was around 20 minutes and I was able to occupy my mind by playing memory enhancing games on my phone and before you knew it, we were on the other side of the English Channel.
The France Show at Earl’s Court
Patrick was invited to London for the France Show 2013 to do several cooking demonstrations, while I invited myself to London to do a little shopping, pub hopping and museum stopping. It was snowing when we arrived in London and everything looked so pristine and beautiful.
We found our way to Chelsea where we were staying and the area was just gorgeous. We kept saying we definitely have to return to London when the weather is warm and we can take advantage of the beautiful parks. My favorite has always been St. James, but it was simply too cold to stroll around outside this time!
Girls doing the French Can-can warming up the crowd for Patrick!
Patrick setting up for his demonstration.
Anyway, the first day there I went to see Patrick perform and he did a great job! On the other days, I was busy doing my own thing, but I heard that he was even better the next day and by the last day, he was so into his demos that he had people come up from the audience to help in the preparations.
Constance and Patrick doing Financiers.
Constance, the other chef who was taking part in the demos made quite a good team with Patrick. They kept a good banter between them and the audiences really ate it up! Not just figuratively, but literally.
Mmm! Macarons to taste!
After their demonstrations in how to make macarons, which is all the rave everywhere, they also made financiers, my favorite! After each demonstration people lined up for the tasting!
View of Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery.
Unfinished painting by Michelangelo.
London is expensive and that’s surprising for someone who lives in Paris! Just about everything was more expensive in London. Everything except for museums! It’s wonderful that all the museums are free. You just waltz right into any museum or gallery and you can spend hours soaking in the culture. I was able to go to the National Gallery and the Science Museum, but there’s so many other great places to visit. I just didn’t have the time.
Tower of London in the snow.
I did take a tour of the Tower of London, but I absolutely do not recommend going when the weather is cold and humid. There were times when I was chilled to the bone and it wasn’t because of all the ghostly spirits that hover around there!
Tower Bridge lit up.
It did look pretty in the snow, however, and the Crown Jewels were well worth seeing. All those diamonds and gems just warmed my heart, or maybe it was because that was the only room that was heated!!! In any case, the jewels were spectacular to say the least and Tower Bridge was beautiful with the lights on.
Waiting for our frozen Margaritas to show up! (Tara, Eric, Yetunde, Me, Patrick, Constance and Alison)
Chilling at a Chinese Restaurant.
Each evening the group from Cook’n With Class and I went to dinner. One night it was Mexican, another night Chinese, and then Pakistani, etc. You don’t hang out with a bunch of (funny, but crazy) chefs and not go to some pretty amazing restaurants and London is noted for some of the best restaurants in the world. No fish & chips for us!
I did enjoy returning to Harrods, but the place was so crowded, it reminded me of the Bon Marché on New Year’s Eve! After an hour or so I had to leave to regain some sort of sanity. Mark & Spencer was better. Yes I know, you can’t compare the two, but when you’re looking to buy digestive biscuits, scones and tea, you really don’t need to go to Harrods for them - even Tesco will do.
Me with Wimpy 25 years ago!
Me and my blue nails 30 years ago on a double decker bus! Who says I wasn’t ahead of the styles?!
Anyway, it had been 25 years since I was last in London and now I’m wondering, why it took me so long to return?!!
For Patrick who once lived in London and worked for the Savoy Hotel, it was even longer, 35 years since he had last been there! We definitely will make plans to return once the weather is warmer.
Hanging out with the Cook’n With Class group.
At Picadilly Circus.
Maya Muses: Our trip was truly a lot of fun and I got to know some of Patrick’s colleagues better. They were a fun group to be with! (Thank you Eric, Yetunde, Tara, and Constance!!!)
Alison getting ready to do some drinking!
I, also, met Alison, a delightful English girl. Her and I went to a wine tasting where we sort of knew more about the wines being served than the actual hostess. What can I say? Alison and I are not teetotalers!!!
Desserts that are too pretty to eat, but I’ll try next time!
The only thing I didn’t have time to do was have cream tea! I did get my scones, but that’ll be on my list for the next time around!
2012 went out beautifully and 2013 came in just as lovely. Patrick and I declined invitations to ring in the new year among friends. Instead we opted to stay home and have a quiet dinner just the two of us.
To work up an appetite, we walked around le Bon Marché and admired the windows decorated for the holidays. We went inside the food emporium, it was packed with people everywhere waiting in lines to buy all sorts of delicacies. Believe me, we were happy Patrick had done all his shopping the day before! We left the store almost as soon as we entered, it was way too hectic for us.
Flower market on the rue de Buci.
Instead we strolled over to Saint-Germain-des-Près. The weather has been so warm this winter (48°F to 50°F) sidewalk cafés were doing a bustling business. The Christmas market in front of the church was also doing its share of business. We continued on to the rue de Buci, my old stomping grounds when I use to live on the rue des Canettes.
Patrick and I never miss an opportunity to stop somewhere for Happy Hour when we’re wandering the streets of Paris, but this being New Year’s Eve we preferred waiting before we began drinking (that would come later!) and besides our objective was to walk. So we continued onto the rue Saint-André-des-Arts. People were definitely in a festive mood as we arrived at the Place Saint-Michel and the quartier always brings back memories of my first New Year’s Eve there in 1971.
The CRS came marching down the street banging their large batons in step to disperse a very happy, young, and drunken crowd of well-wishers ringing in the new year! Someone threw a wine bottle at the CRS and all hell broke loose! They stormed the crowd and the guy I was with shoved me into a storefront to protect me as they began rounding everybody up! Bottles, fists and batons were flying everywhere! It was definitely an exciting and memorable first New Year’s Eve in Paris for me!
Well, fast forward 41 years later to a quieter 2012 - Patrick and I walked toward Notre-Dame and made our way over to the Hôtel de Ville to watch the ice skaters in the square and children on the carousel before heading home. Afterall, it was getting late and Patrick still needed to get into the kitchen and start dinner. As usual, he didn’t disappoint! It’s times like these that you thank your lucky stars that you just happen to live with a great chef!
Setting the table for dinner. (Butter knife still facing the wrong direction!)
I already gave Patrick one of my escargot and ended up giving him another. (Saving myself for dessert!)
Patrick made little puff pastries as an appetizer that we had with a Kir Royal. Then we had escargots for an entrée, 8 each in a garlic butter sauce, I gave Patrick two of mine. (I continued with a second Kir Royal, but Patrick opened up a bottle of Riesling for himself.) Our main dish was a tenderloin with a seared portion of foie gras on top covered in a truffle sauce and served with his potatoes au gratin. Mmm! (We had a very nice Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé to go with the main course.) Afterwards we continued with a second bottle of the same wine for our Cheese course. Four different cheeses: a Roquefort for Patrick, a goat cheese for me, a creamy Camembert, and a nice hard Beaufort cheese rounded out our platter.
Believe me, we took our time eating! It was now almost midnight and we opened a bottle of Champagne rosé and toasted in the New Year! We had a wonderful apple dessert from our local patisserie. After ringing in the new year, we moved the chairs and cranked up the music for a dance marathon!!! We danced the night away until almost 4 a.m.!
No photos of us dancing so here’s our Christmas tree instead.
Close ups of some of our ornaments.
We were exhausted by then and we were about to call it a night when what should come on our iPod? None other than Donna Summer singing Last Dance and of course it brought back memories for both of us when we use to dance the night away in discotheques when we were young (not together, we didn’t know each other then) but I’m sure many of you remember! We didn’t care how tired we were back then, when the song came on we all got up and danced that last dance! And that’s exactly what we did, we got up and danced and then Patrick conked out on me! LOL!!! He went to lie down for a second and he was out like a light!
Mom looking at her iPad talking to my aunt while I’m watching her!
Maya Muses: I stayed up cleaning and before you knew it, it was almost 6 a.m. I got on Skype and wished my mom a Happy New Year!!! She was skyping with my brothers and sisters as well as being on the phone, so it was crazy! I was not only able to talk to my mom, but to see my aunt with my sister in Ohio and see my brother and his family in Texas all the while I watched my mom talking to everyone from Pittsburgh as I sat here in Paris!!! What can I say, you have to love technology in moments like this.
What I looked and felt like after one year ended and a new one began!
I climbed into bed around 6:30 a.m. tired, but happy. It was a great way to welcome in a New Year!
Maya Muses: Merry Christmas everyone! I can’t believe another year has come and gone. Where does the time go? So much to write about and so little time to write. Here’s hoping that your Christmas is being spent with loved ones and your holidays are filled with joy and happiness!