Countdown to Paris – Tour Eiffel

Each week I will post my favorite photos of Paris and the rest of France until I am once again in the City of Lights at the end of July.

I begin with the Tour Eiffel in all its colors and moods and dining at the Jules Verne restaurant which I hope to do again this summer

Window table overlooking the Trocadero in the Jules Verne Restaurant October 2004

December and a solitary ride to the top

The view

I love Paris in the springtime

Shimmering in the evening

The next generation


Thoughts on a dream of a lifetime…

god-quoteQuote from a Twelve Step daily reader:

When I say to myself that I am going to turn all my problems over to God, this does not give me leave to shirk my responsibilities. I have been given certain tools with which to run my life, and the free will to use them. They include judgment, intelligence, good will and the power to reason. Perhaps much of my trouble stems from having misused these tools. Judgment may have been warped by resentment, my intelligence by failure to face issues honestly. Good will can be lost when we are unable to be tolerant of the faults of others. The power to reason can be dulled when we fail to detach ourselves from the emotional content of a problem.

When I am desperate enough to ask for help, I will not expect it to come in the form of easy solutions. I must play a part in solving my problems, but my HP will provide the guidance and strength to take the right action.

My thoughts on this passage, November, 2016:

I need to use the tools I’ve been given. Too often my judgment has been warped by resentment when I’ve envied others and by neediness when I’ve want MORE than has been my portion. My intelligence has been underused when I failed to face issues honestly and try to substitute fantasy for reality. My good will has been lost when I refused to tolerate the faults of others or forgive them as God has forgiven me. My power to reason disappeared every time I let my emotions override my good sense. And I certainly have expected easy solutions.

Getting past a lifetime “dream” does not come easily. The “dream” lingers but like thousands of diehard  Cubs fans who lived out their lives without achieving their dream of a World Series win, I may live out my life without my dream of finding a life partner coming true. But that doesn’t mean those fans didn’t go to the games, cheer on their team, live the rest of their lives to the best of their ability, even though that one big dream didn’t come true. So I can keep playing the game, leave myself open to another season of loss, and cheer myself on for the efforts I do make. I can work on becoming a better player—healthier, stronger, more sociable. I can choose not to be resentful when other teams win, some of them over and over. And in the meantime, I can stop making the game of finding a life partner my focus. I can live my life fully with work and family, with faith and friends. And maybe I will look down from heaven one day, as those many departed Cubs fans did,  and see my grandchildren or great grandchildren finding life partners and win that relationship World Series that I never won. And perhaps they will think of me in that moment, and I will watch with a grateful heart and tears of joy as they raise a toast to me at their weddings and thank me for being a Grandma that helped them be the people they were created to be, willing and able to make good choices for life partners. And then I’ll hoist a beer and  join those Cubs fans in heaven in a round of Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Five: Chateau de la La Ferté Saint Aubin

aerial-viewThe history of Chateau de la Ferté Saint Aubin goes back to the 17th century. We found it a delightful place to visit not only because of the gorgeous restoration but because of all the marvelous things to see and do. My favorite was the exquisite doll museum with dioramas of antique dolls and children’s toys. img_2351 img_2350 img_2349 img_2348 img_2354 img_2353 img_2352

My daughter enjoyed the goats and chickens in the farm. img_2370

And we both loved the cooking demonstration of madeleines in the chateau kitchen using techniques of past centuries.  

On the way back to our car we discovered how they trim those enormous hedges that surround many of the entrances to the chateaux.

A delightful place to bring children–although my granddaughters were at their Centre Loisir that day.

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Four: Chenonceau

Of all the beautiful chateaux along the Loire, Chenonceau, built in 1513, is the one I have visited and loved the most. Which is why I can always go back again to walk that grand gallery over the Cher river, delight in the exquisite floral arrangements in each room, and read about the rivalry of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers and visit their competing gardens.Their iron, but very feminine, fists in their velvet gloves always preserved Chenonceau in times of conflict and war.

This year with my six-year-old granddaughter as my tour guide, I visited places in the 70 hectares that I had never seen before–the Maze, the extensive greenhouses and gardens where the flowers for those beautiful displays are grown and arranged (did I think they call 1-800-FLOWERS ??), the stables, the XVI century farm, and the historic display of the chateau’s use as a military hospital during World War I.


The castle chef's at work

The castle chef’s at work

One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room

One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room

This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum

This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum


The photo display of WWI as a military hospital

The photo display of WWI as a military hospital

One of many garden areas

One of many garden areas


Enjoying the tour

Looking forward to my journey to France

I will be joining my family in Orléans France two weeks from today. Here are some photos of the neighborhood of our Airbnb accommodations at the Place du General de Gaulle in the center of the city. 25526067 Pl de Gaulle - 5.2009 Pl de Gaulle - 9.2013And here is our lovely apartment with a very un-French American style kitchen, a delightful room for the granddaughters with a play area, and a couch for me should I still be sleeping sitting up for my broken shoulder. It’s got to hurt less in France! And all at an extremely reasonable price. Weekend trips to Paris, the Loire, and other destinations are very easy. And Drivy is our source for car rental (the European Airbnb for cars!). A nice elderly woman is renting us her car for the entire stay.


My sleeping accommodation if I’m still sleeping sitting up


Master BR


BR for Grandmas and Grandkids

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My Achy-Breaky Revelations

#10 – That broken bones bleed…a lot!

#9 – That all that blood slides down inside your arm leaving behind a gruesome kaleidoscope of black and blue and green and yellow bruises.

#8 – That independent, competent, know-it-all women with PhD’s don’t fare well when they suddenly become completely incapacitated and helpless. They turn whiny and weepy.

#7 – That I’m glad I didn’t do in my son those first weeks of his life when he was so colicky and I was up all night because at 43 he is a Godsend who scraped me up off the floor of the gym with his firefighter friends, stood by me in the ED, kept me from getting kicked off a flight by the TSA (“Look at me, Mom, don’t say one more word.”), and helped me move from pillar to post.

#6 – That my daughter is a whiz at multi-tasking: keeping us all afloat, packing, parenting, teaching, and organizing our big move two weeks after my injury.

#5 – That my son and daughter both picked amazing mates that have been equally helpful and caring through all of this, going way above and beyond the call of duty.

#4 – That my grandchildren remained their remarkable selves through this entire ordeal, Ryan winning his second scholarship to WWDC, Sam getting his Brown Belt and starring in the Middle School musical (after which I had my fatal fall), Aveline rehearsing for her starring role in Rapunzel, and Estelle being her best three-year-old self.

#3 – That Facebook messages and prayers of support can mean everything along with phone calls and visits.

#2 – That the above advice on FB is probably more important than I thought it was.

#1 – That God is good and is enabling me to heal, to laugh more, to wince less, and to begin to love sleeping nearly upright on the couch.


Ka `Ohi Nani o Mana`olana presents Hawai’i Moku o Keawe

*NOTE* Videos may not play on your phone. Go to website.

A beautiful show produced by Ka `Ohi Nani o Mana`olana, a hui based in Concord, CA. My daughter Maggie and granddaughter Aveline participated again this year after many months of practice and the show was simply marvelous.The hui is dedicated to the promotion of Hawaiian and Tahitian dance and music.  This first video is of Aveline (the fair haole in the center of the front row) and the other Keiki (children) performing E Pele E Pele. Pele is searching for her home, her lava gushing and flowing. She finds a home at Kilauea on Hawai’i Island. The costumes in Aveline’s 3 dances and Maggie’s 5 dances were made by the other grandmother in our family–Donna Schoon.

Lava by the Keiki is from the Pixar-perfect love story about two volcanos, Uke and Lele, who fall in love and declare, “I lava you!” Aveline is in back row behind the little girl in center front.

Now it’s Mom’s turn. Maggie is third from right in back row (the blonde!) dancing Mauna Kea…the fragrance of hala entwined with the maile and Puna.

And here are some photos from backstage of my favorite hula dancers! Hundreds of hours to into this show and their dedication was remarkable. I just got to enjoy the show along with a jam packed auditorium of family and fans.

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You’re NEVER too old for Legos!

So I’m in Sacramento for a business meeting and I drop by the local mall to take an air-conditioned walk and what do I see but the Lego Store. A few days before I’d gotten an email about their Speed Champions set. Marked for ages 8 to 14, I figure at 72 I’d have it made. So back to the Hilton and I begin to build the Porsche 917 K.

A few days and 732 pieces later, it all comes together. I dare you to find the photos of the real cars? Love the detail right down to the wrenches on the wall and in the drawers, the video monitors, the hydraulic lift that goes up and down, fuel line, and air guns for tire changes, and all the itsy-bitsy decals (a little difficult for arthritic fingers!). And I watched this Sunday’s Indy race at Long Beach while I was putting it together. So I’m a happy camper, except that Helio Castroneves didn’t win and Simon Pagenaud got away with murder. Someone asked my if I’m going to share my new creation with my grandchildren…no way! However, my six-year-old granddaughter has already managed to break Mimi’s rule. Okay…I’ll share.

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Grandson garners featured article at Cult of Mac

A proud grandmother’s indulgence: Article which appeared online at Cult of Mac

Teen dev’s ambitious app isn’t your typical photo editor

By • 11:01 am, March 11, 2016


Ryan Stephen makes his WWDC debut. Photo: Ryan Stephen

If you’ve grown bored of Instagram’s filters, there’s a new option for giving your iPhone photos a little touch of magic.

New image-editing app Glaze is a one-stop-shop for photo tweakers that lets you jazz up still images, videos and — for iPhone 6s users — Live Photos, too.“When I was looking around for an app to create, I couldn’t find a single image app which was comprehensive across all content types,” says Glaze creator Ryan Stephen. “This was my response.”Perhaps most impressive of all? Stephen is a 16-year-old from Portland, Oregon, whose self-taught coding skills landed him a place at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference — on Apple’s dime.

A great new photo-editing app for iOS.
A great new photo-editing app for iOS.
Photo: Ryan Stephen

“There wasn’t a tool where people could sit down and edit whatever they wanted — whether that was a photo, a Live Photo, or a video — from inside one app,” Stephen says. “A lot of apps also required users to create an account to use them. If you just want to take advantage of one cool filter, you don’t necessarily want to go through the effort of signing up to a service you may not use again.”

Yes, apps really do start out as sketches on the back of an envelope.
Yes, apps really do start out as sketches on the back of an envelope.
Photo: Ryan Stephen

Glaze lets users apply a range of filters to their pictures, carry out Snapchat-style drawing on top of a photo or video, or add text bubbles and emojis — before sharing the result online, of course. With no sign-up required.

Stephen was inspired to launch the app after being one of 350 student developers invited to attend last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference as part of Apple’s “Scholarship” scheme. As Apple describes the opportunity: “WWDC Scholarships reward talented students and developers with the opportunity to attend [that] year’s conference.”

To be eligible, would-be devs have to be 13 years or older, and a full or part-time student. Stephen was a 15 when he applied to Apple, submitting a sample app to show off his coding ability. Within a month, he’d heard back from the company, which offered him a free one-week V.I.P. ticket to WWDC.

Hopping on a plane, he got to enjoy being part of the buzzy developer scene which descends on Cupertino for Apple’s annual developer conference — complete with the enviable opportunity to have his work critiqued by a full-time Apple designer.

Craig Federighi dropped in to offer some words of wisdom.
Craig Federighi dropped in to offer some words of wisdom.
Photo: Ryan Stephen

“It was just an amazing experience,” Stephen says. “At the time, I was working on a very basic photo editing app, one that was vastly simplified compared to Glaze. [Apple’s designer] talked with me about what I was doing, and pointed out some areas that I could improve on. That was when the idea of blending text and photos came from. Before that, I had been figuring everything out myself.”

Now that Glaze is finished, Ryan Stephen plans to keep developing it, adding more features where he can. But he learned a valuable lesson from Apple.

“One of the big things Apple’s designer taught me was about the importance of adding features to add usefulness, not just to add them for the sake of it. When you’re a young developer, that’s an incredibly useful pointer to be told. It’s something I’ve really tried to take on board.”

You can download Glaze from the App Store for $0.99 here.

Who knows? Perhaps in ten years you’ll be able to say you supported Ryan Stephen before it was cool.

P.S. FROM GRANDMA KAREN: I’ve supported Ryan since the day he was born along with the rest of his loving family. He’s come a long way since that first week of life he spent in the NICU at UC Davis. Who knew what lay ahead for him.

Happy 6th Birthday to my granddaughter


Ribbet! Ribbet! The frogs waited patiently for the Tiana birthday party to begin

 The Tiana castle cake has magically appeared on the buffet

The Tiana castle cake has magically appeared on the buffet

Princess and the Frog green cupcakes await the guests

Princess and the Frog green cupcakes await the guests

And who should arrive to color with the guest of honor but Princess Tiana herself!

And who should arrive to color with the guest of honor but Princess Tiana herself!

And then the big moment comes, and Princess Tiana tells her story to the delight of guests big and small.