2014 top 15 actresses

Women are their most beautiful in the morning: no makeup, hair wild, in their natural state.

And with that positive note, here’s the annual, albeit late, list of the sexiest women on TV, most of them actresses but not necessarily. As always, the caveat is no cable, on shows everyone can watch.

15 Amy Acker–Person of Interest
Amy’s whacked-out psycho has quickly become the best part of this show, particularly after seeing her so timid on Dollhouse.

14 Maggie Lawson—Back in the Game
A not-very-famous actress I’ve enjoyed for years, probably since Cybill. Love her girl-next-door demeanor and looks.

13 Cobie Smulders–How I Met Your Mother
Nine years into this show, she’s still so gorgeous.

12 Jill Wagner–Wipeout
She returned and the show went right back to the awesomeness it had before she’d left.

11 Ming-Na Wen–Agents of Shield
Such a classically beautiful woman; even though I couldn’t stand her character on Stargate: Universe, and Melinda May acts a lot like her, this role has to be a lot more fun for her as well as the viewers.

10 Bellamy Young–Scandal
Her sweet role as Hotch’s girlfriend on Criminal Minds is likely a thing of the past, but even if her character here is too much, she’s still lovely to look at. . .

9 Mircea Monroe–Hart of Dixie
While not as gorgeous as she was in Drive—as a redhead—her amazing blue eyes are well worth a worshipful gaze or two.

8 Michelle Borth–Hawaii 5-0
Every year she’s on this list, and every year she’s on a different show; it’s the mark of a quality actress to be so in demand.

7 Molly Quinn–Castle
College-aged redhead whom I saw in a play a few months ago. Such a nice girl. . .

6 Missy Perygrym–Rookie Blue
Also met her this past year, and she and her show just get better every year. Also a sweet lady in person. . .

5 Kristin Kreuk–Beauty and the Beast
While the show is a sacrilege compared to the amazing original, I could watch her ethereal beauty forever. . .

4 Kaitlyn Black–Hart of Dixie
Once again the best thing about the show. Those eyes. . .

3 Darby Stanchfield–Scandal
Have yet to meet her—someday—but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s exactly like her character, all that sassiness with a pinch of Meredith from Castle. . .

2 Daniela Ruah–NCIS: Los Angeles
Holy crap, she’s not first this year! Even after I met her in person after a play. Sweetest person ever to be in Hollywood.

1 Chloe Barret —Agents of Shield
Daniela certainly didn’t lose anything, we just have a newcomer of exceptional beauty who can also do excellent comedy while showing plenty of intelligence. Joss Whedon sure know how to pick ‘em. . .

Extra credit

Rudabeh Shabazi and Bri Winkler
When Rudabeh is anchoring the channel 7 news on weekend mornings and Bri is doing the weather. . . let’s just say no one’s listening, just watching. . .


Travel Thursday: Jerez of my Dreams, part 2

“Best horses in the entire world! You will never find–”
She had been reading a brochure that told her The horse fair was headlined by the renowned Arabian and Andalusian breeds–the best in Europe, in riding competitions, exhibitions, sales–when, as irony would have it, this first of no-doubt many pitchmen started his spiel on her. She almost told him I was the wallet of the operation, but since I was caught as well, it wouldn’t have helped anyway.
Finally she just took the brochure and smiled falsely, then walked away quickly, hand automatically going out to grab mine; she felt a rush of female endorphins course through her when she realized it, even more so when my hand instinctively clenched around hers.
{How do I know stuff like this? I read her diary, of course. . . and if you tell her I’ll haveta mess you up. . .}
We hadn’t spoken much since I’d told her to drive down Avenida de la Feria, to which she’d replied, “That’s convenient!” showing she’d been practicing her Spanish. Now taking the time to look around, she noticed two different sections to the park, one a small village that seemed to be lined with restaurants and pubs, and the other part full of tiny roller coasters and bumper cars and such, games for the kids that allowed grown-ups to let go a bit as well. . . without getting drunk! she laughed inside.
“This isn’t what I thought at all!” she wondered aloud. “The way you explained it, I thought it was a private horse sale. . . you know, just the rich people and the horse sellers! Yet anyone can come in!”
“Humans are natural showoffs, like peacocks,” I tried, just to see if she’d bite. . . and not bite me, since she was a natural showoff. “They want all the peasants to see their clothes, their horses, their women. But they don’t really want to have to talk to them.”
“Just like Hollywood!” she marveled, though she was acting it up something horrible.
Not quite in horsie mode yet, she carefully took in her surroundings while sucking on one of the many samples she’d been given as we’d walked by. Just the thought of all these little white tents made her ecstatic, hopeful they all had something to sell. That grassy spot she figured had to be a horse exhibition ground, so save the spot for later, and when she spotted railroad tracks she knew it was time to turn back.
“So this reminds me a lot of a country fair,” she grumbled, “though with more horses than usual.”
“No one’s making you get on the roller coaster and such. And enough with the sherry! Let’s just see the horsies.”
“Yeah, where are they?”
“Should be this way. . .”
As always trusting me, she kept quiet, still looking around, hoping for differences that would make her forget the county fair comparison. But finally we arrived at a place that looked like a driveway, albeit a pretty driveway, seemingly one long mosaic.
“Just in time for the horse parade,” I grinned. “Get your camera out, and try not to think of it as shopping.”
“Wouldn’t that be something?” she enthused. “I want to buy a ranch and have all kinds of horses on it! I’d like to see if those from different parts of the world like each other, or if they–”
“Here comes the first.”
Dutifully she brought her arms up to put her little camera in place, then looked down the long walkway, or horseway, and giggled.
To me time seemed to pass ever so slowly, for after a while I got bored looking at horse after horse after horse. The only saving grace was her running commentary, making me wonder when she was going to repeat herself, but so far she hadn’t.
At one point, when a woman in a bright orange flamenco dress passed on the rear seat of an Andalusian–with me maniacally shooting frame after frame–she mentioned how much she’d love to ride in a dress like that, but never sidesaddle.
“You cannot ride like that,” one nearby man grinned. “Riding astride ruins the dress.”
“Phooey on that!” she booed, to the delight of most. “Hey, they get Western horses here too!”
“From the west of Spain?”
“No, dummy, cowboy horsies! Isn’t that a pinto?”
“A paint is a breed; pinto is a color.”
“I see. So–hey, curly horses!”
“Glad to see you keep things. . . ah, never mind.”
Which of course she didn’t. When the parade was finally over, she went to work on what I would usually do, checking the photos on the tiny digital screen; well, I was shooting film, but you get the point. I waited patiently for a while before asking if she’d rather do that in the shade. Instantly she put on her “Oops, excuse me for being a dumb blonde” face and allowed herself to be led away.
Her other tack was changing the subject. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful horses at once,” she pretended to swoon.
“Typical girl.”
“Oh no, I love horses more than any typical girl. . . and don’t you go making something out of that statement, you dirty-minded swine! Contrary to Freudian belief. . .” and she had to stop right there because I was laughing so hard she was afraid I might hurt myself.
It took so long she got bored watching me and went to her favorite time-waster, reading the brochures and various propaganda she’d been handed on their walk. Most of it was in Spanish, of course, but there was enough to tide her over, especially the overdone folds of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, as they called the Riding School. As much as she loved the thought of catching the “dancing stallion” show, she wasn’t buying their claim that they were “comparable” to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which was on her list of things for me to take her to see.
“Oh, I needed that,” I finally sighed, startling her, then making her wonder how long that had taken. Next time she had a laughing jag, she promised, she’d let me make all the fun of her I wanted!
Looking around now, she saw the crush of people was a lot worse than before. So much for the sedate pace all the literature promised! . . . wait, they did add something about except for the festival. Okay, my bad. . .
But it didn’t change the original problem. “We’ll never get through this crush of bodies!” she whispered fiercely. “It’s impossible!”
“Not with that attitude you won’t. The person who claims something is impossible is always right, because she’ll never do it.”
“Not again,” she muttered, then grinned falsely.
“C’mon, I’ll fullback for ya.” I grabbed her arm and pulled her along; only a tiny squeal escaped her this time as she quickly followed to keep her arm attached. “Swifter than centaurs after rapine bent,” I exclaimed, managing to confuse her long enough to get her to follow on instinct without thinking.
By the time we’d made it to the safety of the food and drink portion of the fair, she was out of breath, though that was due more to her laughter. Pressed to the point, she admitted she had no idea why she was giggling so much, but then tried, “I hope you make me call you ‘my little centaur’ the next time we do it!”
“If I don’t, you’ll get your money back.”
“What money?” she almost cried, but instead looked over as another white horse trotted by, carrying a man in the front and a polka-dot-dress-wearing sidesaddle lass behind him. “Tell me about the Andalusians.”
“The people or the horses?”
“The more interesting ones.”
“Ever hear of Medieval Times?”
“Sure! One of the knights gave me his rose.”
“I’ll try not to get jealous. Those white horses are Andalusians.”
“Like these? Awesome!”
“Andalusians love to dance.”
“The people or the horses?” she giggled.
“Both, but in this case I mean the horse. We’ll catch tonight’s show.”
“Really?” she squealed. “Will you then take me to Vienna to compare?”
“Not tomorrow. Hope you have a good memory.”
“I’ll remember,” she murmured in what she hoped was a mysterious tone. “Now I wanna play with horsies!”
“And I wanna watch you play with horsies.”
“That’s the spirit! Let’s go!”
Even though every woman in the place no doubt felt like she did, I knew I’d be able to work something out with a presenter. Usually just the thought of seeing their product with such a beautiful woman, especially if they figured they’d get a publicity-style photo out of it, should be enough. If not, there was always bribes.
Spotting a likely target, albeit not an Andalusian–I’d save that for a better idea, later–I hailed him heartily and began some rapid-fire Spanish negotiation as she smiled brightly and let the horse owner, or whoever he was, look her over.
Snapping out of her model trance as she heard her name being called, she trotted over. I immediately told her the horse was ours for half an hour, provided the guy got a photo of her with it.
“Sounds like a good deal,” she chirruped, wondering if I would give direction or just shoot as she played with the horsie, then figured she’d find out soon enough.
“We play this right, give him a photo he can show tomorrow, we might get to take a horsie on the beach.”
“This one?” she squealed.
“Probably not, he’s hoping to sell it, but we’ll see.”
“Oh, right. Okay, what first?”
Mistaking this request–I’d meant photographically–she giggled and ran over to the side of the enclosure, glad she’d worn sneakers. Not thinking there might be horse doo-doo on the ground until it was far too late, she ran back toward me and did a backflip; the place was probably too dark for me to catch it on film, but at least now I would know what she was capable of. . . outside of bed, for once, giggle.
Having landed adroitly on both feet, panting and laughing at my look of surprise, she turned and finally noticed the horse, which seemed to be looking at her strangely. Cooing, she patted him gently; when she saw that did the trick, she figured it was a male horsie.
And a blonde one, a natural blonde, she now noticed. Unable to resist, she wrapped her arms around his neck and snuggled, thinking how much she would love having an equine so docile it would be her teddy bear.
Quickly moving–or as quickly as I could without spooking the horse–I finally found an angle where I could shoot her hair melding with the horse’s, leading me to instinctively think, Wow, that would look so awesome nude. . .
For her part, she was already in model mode, at least her version of it; her mind had already gone, leaving only a little bit engaged in case I wanted another pose or such, but basically on automatic. Unbeknownst to her, so deep was her trance, a crowd had gathered, surrounding the enclosure as they watched the photo shoot. Anyone watching them instead of her would have noticed the pattern, that moment of startlement on first seeing her, then the losing of all mental power, the mesmerization caused simply by staring at her for about two seconds. Her beauty would not let go, there were so many focal points: high full breasts, slender waist, generous hips, long legs. And none of those curves were in the least hidden by her tight jeans and silk blouse, all of which fit her like a second skin. It made the more fashion-conscious wonder why anyone cared about fancy dresses or lingerie.
Finally–finally!–I told her to get on the horse. Only now did she realize in her conscious mind that it was already saddled, and had been since before she’d gotten close.
The next few minutes were spent with her riding the surprisingly nimble and well-mannered horse around the dark enclosure. When that didn’t work all the well, and having noticed how docile the white horsie was, I somehow got it to stand still, then told her to sit up proudly and pretend she was still riding. . . without bouncing, of course. This she was able to do so well it surprised even me.
Feeling pleased with herself and her costar, she leaned down to pat the horse and plant a kiss on its neck, and as her hair fell down the side of her face, it once again melded with the horse’s, to the point my camera couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began.
This time I said it aloud. “Damn, that would be so beautiful nude!”
She grinned at that, stuck to her tongue just on principle, but let me know she was thinking of that now too.
“I was gonna remind you of your promise to braid your hair for the shoot,” I grinned, “but that was well worth not remembering!”
Looking incredibly playful, she suddenly kicked out of the stirrups, jumped to her knees on the saddle, and yelled, “Let’s see how good your hands are. Catch!”
Without giving me a second to grasp what she meant to do, she leapt off, flinging herself at me. It took me entirely by surprise, and I was only just in time to catch her. As it was, she hit her forehead painfully against my cheekbone, barely missing breaking my nose, and had to save herself by throwing her arms around my neck. Kissing me quickly on both cheeks, she slid to the ground.
The only good thing I saw, besides her not breaking something of mine–including the camera–was the look of utter shock on the face of the horse guy.
“What did he say?” she chortled as we walked off, shoot done.
“Not sure it translates, but basically ‘Damn you and the horse you ran into!’”
It took her over an hour to stop laughing. . .


Poetry Tuesday: Love is a Sickness

Love is a sickness full of woes,
All remedies refusing.
A plant that most with cunning grows,
Most barren with best using.
Why so?
More we enjoy it, more it dies;
If not enjoyed, it sighing cries

Love is a torment of the mind,
A tempest everlasting;
And Jove hath made it of a kind,
Not well, nor full, nor fasting.
Why so?
More we enjoy it, more it dies
If not enjoyed, it sighing cries


Assorted 2014 photos

Been out a lot more this month than usual, but very little of it was blog-worthy, so I just jammed them all into one.

Went to Disney Hall to see my fave violinist Hilary Hahn play the Neilsen concerto, after the Phil almost put me to sleep with the most boring composition ever. Here’s how the sky looked at intermission.

Disney Hall and clouds

Disney Hall and clouds


Those who know the indie music scene in El Lay will recognize the Coffee Gallery in Altadena, where my buddy Jimi Yamagashi has a showcase every third Wednesday, but also brings in a speaker every first Wednesday. This is Paul Zollo, a famous author of rock music tomes, whose interviews are legendary.

Paul Zollo

Paul Zollo


Let’s play two at UCLA’s Easton softball stadium, though I only got there in time to see three innings of the second game, just long enough to see a freshman named Spaulding–at Easton, get it?–hit her first collegiate home run to give the Bruins the 2-0 win. BTW, my favorite player of all time, Amanda Freed, went on twitter to announce the birth of her daughter, so fitting that I was in the place of her past glory when I got the news. . . and thank goodness the wifi reaches al the way out to the stadium!

at the ballgame

at the ballgame


The reason I had to leave the game so early–besides the fact softball had become as long-winded as baseball–was because there was a fundraiser for the Spirit Squad–cheerleaders, dance team, yell crew, and mascots–and I’ll already paid my $50 to attend. While waiting in line to go in I spotted a game on the intermural field that I finally figured had to be Quiddich, because they had brooms between their legs. Anyhoo, my main reason for going, though, was to see women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell, whom I’ve known since her playing days with the National Team, and the championship trophy, #110 in UCLA history but the first–finally!–for women’s soccer.

The championship bling

The championship bling


Coach, trophy, and logo

Coach, trophy, and logo

The cheerleaders and dance team look even better in person, of course, and since they got into UCLA they were smart enough for interesting conversations. One of them had a sister at my table who was even cuter, but I digress. I put in my free raffle ticket for the lifetime alumni reward, but lost out to some lady who instantly came over to my table to crow about it, damn her. On the other hand, I had no intention of participating in the silent auction. . . until I found myself winning a ridealong with the Redondo Beach PD! You can bet that’ll be a huge blog, when I get around to it. . .

So, twice in the past few weeks I’ve been in Denny’s and saw that my beloved country-fried steak was on sale, if it comes with a skillet, so let’s do it! I did not expect the damn skillet to be hissing at me when it came! Damn, that thing is hot! Of course the second time I knew better and asked for a separate plate so I could dump the steak, then the eggs, then the hash browns onto it and not burn myself or wait an hour for it to cool down.

Fun fact: the wallet that I’ve been using for about twenty years now–it was originally a gift for my uncle, but we ended up not going to his Christmas party, so I appropriated it–finally broke down, so I went over to thinkgeek.com and got myself a wallet that looks just like a bunch of bacon strips! No one has noticed yet, or been too polite to say anything, but I eagerly await the day. BTW, I reached in to pay for some new shorts, thinking it was a $20 bill, and got back a helluva lot of change. . . and then remembered I had a $100 in there. . . right before I was going to give all that change back. . .

Speaking of cute girls earlier, who would have thought that the ladies at my pharmacy and the one who drew my blood at the doctor’s would end up being even cuter than the models I shoot? I really do fall in love at least four times a day. . .

So what did I miss? I was going to see Alicia Witt’s movie at the Pasadena Film Festival, but never got there. And I regretfully did not attend the Scots festival at the Queen Mary, oh well. . .

And to end this, here’s an iconic painting at downtown’s Union Station that I keep taking for granted, forgetting to look up. Not much of a shot with the little camera, but later on I’ll take a portrait of each character. . .




Travel Thursday: Jerez of my Dreams part 1

“So what are we going to see here in Jerez, Mr. Tour Guide?” came the familiar chirp.
“There’s the King of Andalucia’s zoo and botanical gardens, if you’re not sick of flowers yet.”
She looked down at her diary with a smile, but did not open it to gawk at the rose pedals she’d stuffed in it that morning, after a smitten groundskeeper had gifted it to her, against all posted rules.
“And I want to check out the Clock museum, or as they call it, the Palace of Time. Maybe the curator will give you one when he sees you.”
My smirk made her blush, again reminding her of the rose of the morning.
She’d read earlier that Jerez was famous worldwide for its sherry and brandy, which made her wonder why I wanted to come here, until she discovered the town’s other claims to fame were horses and, of course, flamenco.
Once in town we drove around a little, since most of the sights were lighted for the tourists. The Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress from the eleventh century, was nice, she thought, but pretty much an afterthought after days at the Alhambra.
“All the palm trees almost make me homesick,” she laughed.
“For Kansas?”
“No, silly!”
“Maybe we can visit a cattle ranch. Not quite Kansas, but the closest we’ll get.”
She shuddered, deciding against telling me whatever was on her mind,. “Maybe we can go to a horse ranch!”
“All the horsies will be at the shows. . . unless you want to see them breeding, and I recommend you don’t, for my sake.”
“So many places I could go with that,” she sighed, “but for the sake of the future, I shall refrain.”
“Wow. . . next time someone talks about your lack of fortitude, I will definitely have to defend you.”
“That’s all I ask.”
“Damn, you’re easy today.”
Powerfully hungry, she nevertheless couldn’t deny her instincts and stopped at a store that caught her attention while we were on our way to feed. Though it was closed, she forced me to translate all the girly stuff about silk-embroidered linen bedspreads with designs full of exotic flora and fauna, imbued with symbolic significance. “Two birds mean lovers, trees represent families, and so on. They were once woven for every rich girl’s bridal trousseau. . . it actually says it in French, because I have no idea what the hell that means.”
“That’s okay,” she grinned. “I know what it is, that’s what matters.”
“And now you want one.”
“Always did.”
The entire world was grateful the store was closed. . .
Dinner for her was a magnificent feast consisting of conch chowder, lobster, sole fillets simmered in white wine and cream while topped with shrimp, and pineapple spring rolls with rum crème anglaise for dessert; she managed to identify every single morsel for my non-interested gaze. She appeared to be in what passed for hog heaven for her, and I found myself enjoying the sight: watching her pig out, savoring each bite, squeezing out the juices with her cheeks and tongue before chewing and swallowing. She had the most sensual mouth I had ever kissed. . . though my lips wouldn’t be touching hers until after she washed said mouth.
“I didn’t check the name of the restaurant when we came in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was called the Stuffed Pig.”
She glanced an eye at me, but did not let it interrupt her savoring. In fact, she didn’t speak till it was over, and then it was only a sigh of deep satisfaction.
Until her usual after-dessert drink, which made her gag. “Gawd! If this is coffee, bring me some tea!” She looked down into the cup like something in it had bitten her. “On the other hand, if this is tea, bring me some coffee!”
“You are a true actress, stealing lines from Abraham Lincoln. . .”
She glared at me blankly, but the heavenly meal was over and she had to be content with coming back to earth. Blinking her eyes a few times while grinning, she managed to portray this fact to me. “This was the most excellent meal ever!” she sighed. “I’d love to meet the chef!”
So I stopped the waitress on her next pass and asked in Spanish if that was possible. Grinning, and not bothering to go back to ask, she waved us along, and as soon as the swinging door opened she started speaking Spanish so fast I couldn’t follow it.
Right behind the waitress, happy I was along to interpret, she allowed herself to be escorted through the impossibly cramped kitchen to where a bone-thin grandmother wielded a huge knife like an axe into a side of beef; She instantly gulped and tried to take a step back, but I was already occupying that space. Startled by this reaction, the old lady gasped and looked up at us, then realized what the problem was. Wizened and otherwise frail looking, she nevertheless had a smile that flooded us with kindness, and the eyes even flirted. A second later she smiled back, the world once again on its axis like it should be.
But before anyone could say a word, a man came around the corner behind the old woman, scowling as he wiped his hands on a towel. That scowl went away quickly as the waitress told him what was going on, and then he was glad he’d cleaned his hands, for he bent over hers and kissed it, making the actress blush.
The next few minutes consisted of Her heaping praise on the heaps of food she’d ingested and me struggling to come up with translations to words I’d never used much in English, let alone Spanish. When told the man’s son was the junior chef on the weekend, but was taking time off to care for his new baby, the actress looked shocked.
They could see the man preen as they walked away. “Good job,” I grinned. “There’s no place in the universe where it hurts to tell someone how young they look.”
She beamed just as much as the guy had. “In case we ever pass this way again, I want him to remember me.”
“Ha! You didn’t need the compliment for that. He was hooked even before he kissed your hand.”
Her head ducked down instinctively, but I could tell she was grinning.

The next morning she made a hash out of looking around the place, then out the window. “Is the town always so. . . exuberant?”
“Probably for the horse festival.”
“Most likely. So nice of you to come out of your way just for me.”
Sensing she’d made a mistake somewhere, but not able to spot it, she went with the truth, at least one truth inside her head. “Bringing me here instead of wherever you were planning to go.”
I tried to hold back that “you’re being an idiot” smile I’d had to use far too often on this trip, but failed. “As you see, it’s a festival, the kind where every hotel room is sold out months in advance.”
“Not for someone like you!” she tried, knowing it was doomed to failure but liking the alternative even less. “So you had a reservation because you were already coming here?”
“Nothing better than shooting babes on horseback, as you will prove later today.”
If that’s my punishment, I’ll take it! I’m just glad they didn’t make a fuss about your reservation being for one this time!”
I sighed, more dramatically than her usual. “Everything mine is yours, dearest.”
“Mi cosa es su cosa, right?” she giggled.
“My thing is your thing too,” came my answering grin.
She looked downcast, but of course it wouldn’t last, mostly because her coffee arrived. As always experimental when it came to her favorite addiction, she’d ordered a café solo, and now found it to be. . .
“Espresso in a shot glass.” She looked and sounded disappointed, but I was too busy telling the waitress “Todavia no,” because we’d neglected to look at the menu yet. Rectifying that now, we picked them up and instantly saw the shipwreck design on the front of each other’s cardboard food list.
“Did people actually survive ships going down like that?”
“In a storm? Not likely. If they hit a rock or such, they should be close enough to shore to float there. Or, if they’re not eaten by a petulant whale, they might be found years hence, anywhere on the seven seas, a drifting skeleton, yet another mystery of the unfathomable briny deep. . .”
She shuddered and decided to save such questions for when she wasn’t eating. “Nice voiceover,” she couldn’t help but praise, though. Then she settled in to finding something to eat. . . which would have gone well, had she not almost spilled her coffee by placing it on the cutlery.

Now that the tone has been set, we’ll get to the horsies next week.


Poetry Tuesday: Echo

By Christina Rossetti

Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low
As long ago, my love, how long ago.


Travel Thursday: Ice Cream in the Snow

From the train station it was an easy train ride to the hotel, if such a simple word could describe it. I’d never stayed at the Baur au Lac before, mostly because I couldn’t afford it, but somehow I got shoehorned in, through no fault–or payment–of mine. I sincerely hoped room service would be included as I rode the tram toward the lake that shared a name with the city, Zurich.
It did not take long to get comfortably settled in this horribly expensive room; I took more time looking at all the fancy gadgets, although “goggled” might be a more apt verb.
I think Karina had never been to this place either, for she showed up quickly and then also goggled around the room as I looked for my heavy gear. . . clothing-wise, that is, being an El Lay boy. She mentioned something about clashing with her leather pants and jacket, and added it wasn’t freezing season yet, but one could tell it was coming and I‘d rather sweat than chill.
Far too early for dinner, we first went to the snack bar, where we shared a huge ice cream sundae, as was our tradition no matter the weather. The manager of the hotel passed by at that moment and told us it would be free, since anyone who could eat that in such cold weather deserved it. Karina almost told him this was how we met, but a slight kick to the shin shut her up; if he knew we did this all the time, he might rescind our freebie.
From the table we had a magnificent view of Lake Zurich, which stretched out far into the distance, full of working ships and pleasure boats. It certainly wasn’t about to freeze, but the breeze off the lake was hella chilly. Added to the ice cream, she decided it was time to get warm.
I was already heading back to the elevator when she informed me she meant a walk. I tried to look embarrassed, but I’m sure I was grinning to hard to pull it off.
Bahnhof Strasse, despite its pedestrian name, is world famous, running from the lake straight west, parallel to the Limmat River a few blocks north, until it ran through the entire town and ended in the west section. Most of the street was made up of small but expensive shops. The first one sold furs, but Karina knew me well enough not to stop. Most of the shops were clothing-oriented, which brought happiness to her but not to me. And it wasn’t just the simple male disdain of such things; I’ve always felt it was better to be discreet and low-key, no doubt from my “spy” days, whereas most of these shops sold goods that could easily be called flashy. Even the eyewear store conformed to this. And as we passed yet another clothing store and looked in the window, I had to say that cashmere was just not my thing. . .
Finally we came to a bookstore, which I was just about to enter when Karina pointed to the name. “It’s French.” So close, so damn close. . .
We crossed Kappelergasse and came to a hat store, which she thought would be at least okay with me, so she tugged me inside. The first thing I saw on entering was a pith helmet, which made Karina wrinkle her nose.
“You’ve never dug in a desert, have you?”
“Not too many deserts in Switzerland, darling.”
I let her have that point and went deeper into the store, looking at the fedoras, wondering if I had the guts to actually wear one in public, when she came back with a Russian fur thing. “Always wanted one of these,” she informed me with a giggle.
I waited until all the salespeople were out of earshot. “Go to GUM in Moscow. These were probably made in Taiwan.”
She pouted, so I quickly looked away, to protect my eyes from the sight. Her pouts were known to be deadly to male hearts. . . and wallets.
Two seconds later I was hit in the head by a giant furball. “See? It’s made in Malaysia, not Taiwan.”
I rubbed my head, even thought the giant tribble hadn’t hurt. “Lots of snow in Malaysia.”
She wanted to pout again, but couldn’t hold it, so she dropped it before I asked her where the nearest desert was.
Finally I found the closest thing to what Bogie wore in “The Maltese Falcon” and actually purchased it. While making the transaction, the clerk asked if we would like to see the new selection of hats with solar power-driven fans attached.
“No thanks,” I deadpanned. “Already have one.”
Karina punched my shoulder. “You do not.”
I returned the punch–much gentler of course, but in a location that made the clerk blush. “Yes, I do. I bought it in Beverly Hills.”
“Now I know you’re lying. You told me you never go into Beverly Hills unless you can avoid it.”
“I got it through the mail.”
She changed tactics. “Anything is better than that beat up old thing with the UCLA on it.”
My eyes narrowed into beams that burned her as we left the store. “I’ll let that go this time because you’re a forinner, but don’t say that the next time you’re in my town. Now be quiet while I think of a good insult for the local soccer or ski team.”
She laughed, not at all scared, and we walked on.
The next store down was a men’s wear shop, and she insisted that I needed something new to go with my new hat. I groaned and cursed for falling into her trap, but in the end I let myself be forced inside. There was only one sales clerk on duty, and luckily the place was pretty crowded, so we would probably not be helped for about an hour, which was far too long to wait. But just as we were about to leave, the clerk came into view.
I actually froze in my tracks. The girl was spectacular! Despite whom I was standing next to, the most famous model in her country, I had not been hit this hard by such overwhelming beauty in a very long time. Tall, blonde, curvaceous, young, with a small amount of freckles around a delicate nose. I did not realize I was just standing there staring at her.
Karina sure did. Finding the object of my attention, she grinned knowingly. “Oh, oh. I should have taken you to bed when I still had the chance. Things are not looking up for me now.”
I came back to my senses. “What are you talking about? Seeing her just makes me want you even more.”
She did not even attempt to figure that out. “We’re a long time off from that. We won’t be able to get around to that until this evening.”
“If I’d known that, we wouldn’t be walking right now.”
“We’ll just have to see how good your control is.”
Substituting one primal urge for another, we stopped at the Savoy Grill and Bar, which I knew made the best hamburgers in the country. . . at least as far as I’d seen; I hadn’t tried every single place yet, but then, there can’t be that many to choose from around here, right? I didn’t particularly care what she was having, but I was thoroughly enjoying my first piece of moo meat in a while. When I looked up, she was wiping some red stuff off her cheek.
“Why did you ask about deserts in the hat shop?”
It took me a moment to remember what she was talking about. “Those pith helmets are probably the best things to wear when digging.”
“Who digs in deserts?”
I hiccupped. “Silly people named archaeologists.”
She had a good poker face, I have to admit, but her voice betrayed her embarrassment at forgetting such an obvious answer. “Aren’t those the guys who build arches on buildings?”
“Nope. They’re doctors who specialize in foot problems.” She grinned to acknowledge she was giving up the battle, but I showed no mercy. “When you’ve hurt your foot, the best treatment is to stick it in the hot sand, but the stuff at the beach is too thick. You need fine sand, the kind that can only be found in the desert. Hence the pith helmets.”
She stared at me as I took another bite of previously-cow, my eyes no doubt twinkling in a way that she had previously described as “quiet triumph,” which she’d also described as very infuriating.
The walk continued, where I quickly entered the local airline office to snag a timetable booklet. One female clerk was available and smiled at me, but it quickly died as she saw Karina. Women!
As we continued strolling we passed a few jewelers, a bank, and a few more clothing stores, all of which I refused to enter. A few blocks onward we came to a lingerie store, and this time I agreed to go in. This wouldn’t be so bad, I figured; all I had to do was sit, watch the fashion show she would put on, and dream.
The naughty nighties fashion show did nothing to cool the flames already begun in the clothing store, but she insisted we continue our walk. On the next block was an out-of-place sporting goods store, and she insisted she needed new skis, so she did that as I amused myself looking for any signs of a UCLA souvenir. I didn’t find any, but at least I didn’t have to carry her damn skis.
After she was done we crossed the street and found a toy store, of all things. Ordinarily I would have had some fun there, but I was in no mood to continue the walk. She told me there were a number of book stores on the next few blocks, but even that didn’t break through. She realized she’d strung me as far as I could go.
So she looked at her watch and suddenly remembered she had an appointment. “I’m terribly sorry, darling. I completely forgot I have to be at the studio in ten minutes!” Turning quickly, she caught the attention of a taxi and kissed me goodbye, saying she’d see me at the hotel that night. In five seconds she was gone.
I stood there in a daze, things happening too rapidly for me to keep up. I thought I could just jump aboard a tram and go back to the hotel, then realized there was something much better to do, something to get back at her.
I turned and walked back the way I’d come. There was a clothing store I needed to visit again, with a beautiful clerk who might have dreams of becoming a model. . .

{to be continued. . .}


Poetry Tuesday: Sonnet CXVI

Time to shake a spear. . . not Brittany.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Travel Theme: Yellow

This week on the Ailsa Travel Blogging Network, our fearless leader gets startled by that bright yellow ball in the sky, which is about as rare as a blue moon in Seattle. . . I mean the sun, not her being startled.

So, on to the most misunderstood of the primary colors. . .

don't look down

Not as yellow a sky as the original, I think

Not as yellow a sky as the original, I think


Kahili ginger

Kahili ginger

tiger like

Vixen is on fire!

Vixen is on fire!