(F)All in: NY

If there was ever a time to visit New York City, this is it.


Not only is Fall the prettiest time of the year in NY but there is a Mayoral race going on, so the city will be on its toes and putting all the bells and whistles out for the spotlight that this race will enjoy. If you can, visit NY right now. Bloomberg will get everything shipshape for this key election.

There are other reasons.  Having lived there for 25 years, this is the best season, in my opinion.  First of all, it is usually sunny, dry and cool, not yet cold.  There is less precipitation in the Fall and the winds are not unusually brisk, though they can be just active enough to put a sparkle of energy in the air.


At some point, depending on the temperatures, the leaves will be turning.  Many people do not realize how many parks and how much landscaping the city has.  Everyone knows about Central Park, but there are so many others, like Battery Park, Union Square, Gramercy Park, just to name the most obvious ones.  If you do a little Googling, you will get a full list of the hidden pocket parks.  If you will be there for more than a few days, you may also want to head over to Brooklyn, which has gentrified considerably and rivals Manhattan in almost every significant way.  Another fabulous thing to do is take the Henry Hudson Parkway up along the river and go to Tarrytown and Hastings-on-Hudson, among many old Yankee villages and Washington Irving’s stomping grounds; all points north along the river are pure magic at this time of the year.

5182381381_12fe3c7af5 Henry Hudson Parkway

The most important decision you will make when coming to NYC is where to stay. My recommendation would be two hotels.  The first is my favorite and a secret that almost no one knows about.  This is the Hotel Wales at Madison and 92nd Street.  One of the prettiest, most convenient and safest, quietest neighborhoods in Manhattan is Carnegie Hill – the 90’s from Central Park to Lexington Avenue.  The Wales is right in the middle of it.  Built at the turn of the last century, when I stayed there it had elegant lobbies and rooms,  good restaurant and room service and not only was immaculate but enjoyed exceptional European-style service, including tea served on the roof terrace with a view of the park. Best of all, it is probably one of the most affordable hotels you will ever stay in (priced below some motels in the vicinity) and considering it is in Manhattan, in the best residential neighborhood, overlooking Central Park, the price is unbelievable.

Hotel Wales

My other recommendation, if you have a bit more in your budget would be the Waldorf Astoria.  I have stayed in almost all the top, established luxury hotels in NY (the Plaza, Pierre,Carlyle).  My favorite is the Plaza but I have to say, for visitors, the location and beauty as well as history of the Waldorf would be my top recommendation.  All of these hotels are expensive, but you can get a deal at the Waldorf and stay in the hotel choice of kings and queens.  It is gorgeous, elegant and the service cannot be topped anywhere on this planet.  In the East 50’s you can walk in every direction to many of the best attractions in midtown.

Waldorf Astoria

If you are flying in to the NY area, use Newark International Airport instead of JFK or La Guardia.  Newark is the newest of the three, it is actually closer to Manhattan than JFK, far safer, and much less hectic.  You will get to the city in less time than if you choose JFK.  In every way, Newark is a pleasure.  In fact, I like it so much and consider it to be so much safer than most airports that even when I am heading to Boston or Philadelphia, I fly into Newark and then take the train or rent a car and drive to those two cities. (Boston’s Logan Airport is a pure nightmare – avoid it at all costs: unsafe, bird strikes, terrible facilities, short runways – it is notorious for its inferiority as far as airports go, just take my word for it).


I do not need to give you all kinds of tourist destinations as there are thousands of places you can find these things.  Let me instead recommend a strategy for ‘tackling’ NYC.

When I was in college, I had a boyfriend who worked in South America.  He would invite me down to visit and see the sights and so I made some friends amongst the very educated, sophisticated people I met there.  When a few of them came to visit in the City, I was excited to take them around.  They had been all over the world, in many European cities like London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Zurich, etc.  These were wealthy world travelers.  But!  When they got to Manhattan they were totally overwhelmed. The longstanding joke thereafter was that I could not get them to go above 34th Street (Macys).

NY has a palpable energy that makes some people thrive and others collapse.  I have always said it is far easier to live (if you can afford it these days with one bedroom apartments starting at $600K) and work there than to visit.  So how you approach the visit can be critical.


Knowing what I know now, I would not start people off downtown as I had done with my Latin American friends.  If you are staying at the Wales, start with the upper east side of the Central Park district and work your way down, day by day until you hit Rockefeller Center.  If you are staying at the Waldorf in mid town on the east side, start there, go to Rockefeller Plaza and work your way up Fifth Avenue your first day or days. In this area are also Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue and a lot of UN-frequented exotic ethnic restaurants, many of them with excellent costumed performances and shows during dinner, at no extra cost (a way to be entertained without high priced theater tickets).

The upper and middle parts of Manhattan, on the East Side are the easiest to absorb and get acclimated.  They are beautiful, loaded with attractions including museums and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the best shopping and restaurants, etc. And of course they are incredibly safe, as is all Manhattan now, thanks to the last two Mayors (Bloomberg and Giuliani).

Toward the second half of the trip or at least after you are used to being in Manhattan, head to the 42nd Street area, stopping in at the New York Public Library, the Empire State Building, the Upper West Side (don’t forget to go to the Museum of Natural History), Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, down to Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial, South Street Seaport and if you can, take the Brooklyn Bridge by car, cab or train to Brooklyn and eat at the River Cafe, especially at sunset, for the most spectacular view of Manhattan anyone could want and fabulous food.


After that hit the Village (west side, Greenwich Village.  If you are adventuresome and like ethic food, go the the East Village or better yet, Queens, but the latter may be for the end of a trip, not the beginning!), Washington Square, Soho and Tribeca.  All of these areas are safe, loaded with personality and fabulous food and shops.  Usually though, they are not first on people’s lists.  I would avoid Chinatown and Little Italy unless you like Chinese food and getting down and basic.  You are likely to find better Italian food in other parts of the city, especially Brooklyn.  Think Moonstruck.  If you are looking for inexpensive theater tickets check to see what is playing at the Barrow Street Theater. (Unfortunately, the Sullivan Street Playhouse that was home to The Fantasticks for 42 years, closed in 2012.)

If you have time left over, go to Bloomingdales on Lexington, Chelsea Pier over on the West side at 23rd, Gramercy Park on the East side around 18th Street, and up to the Bronx Zoo, which is in my opinion, the best one on the East Coast and rivals the famed San Diego Zoo for its quality and scientifically designed attractions.


If it isn’t too cold, take the Circle Line, but be prepared for part of it to be a bit boring – I have taken it when showing guests around the city and I fall asleep as it heads up to West Point.  It is a three-hour trip, so take snacks because the last time I was there, the food on the boat was expensive junk.  If you do take the Circle Line, you will pass the big luxury liners, Chelsea Pier, Battery Park, a spectacular view of Wall Street, South Street Seaport and the Statue of Liberty, the UN, as well as the bridges on the East River abutting Queens.  You will see a lot that will help you determine whether or not you need to go to those individual attractions separately.


Do this and you will get a real flavor for the city. If you can, give yourself a week.  You can do much of what I listed in three full days (with travel days on either side). Take it from a native, even in two weeks, you won’t see it all but if you go now, I promise you, you will have a spectacular experience.

Images: holidayforce.com,theweblicist.com,flickriver.com,virtualtourist.com,panoramio.com,commons.wikimedia.org,virtualtourist.com,restaurantsinyc.com,viator.com,fodors.com


The right to bare arms

All this week I have been trying to figure out a way to discuss this topic without being overly political, offending anyone, or being harsh.  It is hard to approach it in a lighthearted manner, though.  The discussion is timely because once again we have had a senseless, infuriating, discouraging mass shooting of innocent people.  This is now what America has to contend with on a weekly basis. And it is increasing in frequency here.

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What I mean by the title of this post is that I want all of us who are against this insane gun violence to have the right to be un-armed.  I am sick of hearing about 2nd amendment rights that have been distorted by gun manufacturers, who are holding the government of the United States hostage, dictating our right to safety.  Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a higher right than that of gun owners. There are those who subscribe to and perpetuate unreasonable paranoia that some diabolical “government” is coming to collect all the guns, who are probably not dealing with the facts that I am.

I do not listen to fearful, angry, irrational people for my understanding about life. As a scientist, I believe there are knowable facts about everything, physical and otherwise in our universe and I like to go by those first, parking my emotions or ideology while I figure out what is truly going on.

As far as I can see, things have devolved to a point in this country where ordinary people like me are hesitant to go to any public place for fear that someone who is trigger happy and ‘packing’, will open fire and injure or kill us.  I long ago stopped going to certain places out of a sense of self-preservation.  I am not a hunter and don’t recklessly traipse around in those areas where hunters are likely to be firing at animals.  I don’t frequent neighborhoods where gangs might be shooting it out.  I don’t go to dangerous countries, dressed like a witless, clueless American tourist, inviting the wrong kind of attention and worse.  I am a careful, respectful, intelligent person who minds her own business and steers clear of overt risk and trampling on others.

SB two

But apparently that is not good enough.  Now we have to worry about going to the grocery store, the movie theater, school, a public park, in fact any place outside of our house — and while we are at it, we had better stay in the very back of our house, because there are people who like to drive by and shoot into private residences.

You likely know by now what I think of hunting.  If someone is not an Inuit, a Sami, or Ibiapaba, s/he doesn’t need to hunt to eat. Those who take pleasure in shooting animals, probably don’t have any common ground to discuss this.  I live in the Post-modern, not the Bronze Age.

SB three

Those who think the brilliant Founding Fathers meant that every person walking around in this country should carry a semi-automatic rifle and 70-round magazines, openly, or otherwise,  studied a very different history, civics and political science than I did. If they prefer to make Wayne La Pierre happy than their neighbors and fellow Americans, then we probably have no basis for friendship.

If we want to stop people with mental and emotional disorders from harming themselves and others, we need to vote for Federal funding.  If we would like to keep guns and other deadly weapons out of the hands of these people, we need to vote for Federal statutes and laws.  The reason is, it does no good to have programs and laws in individual states because these people will simply go to a state that doesn’t have them. If our fear and paranoia about the Federal government outweighs our willingness to protect innocent children, among other vulnerable citizens of this country, then I guess I will have to stay in my house and wait for people to either come to their senses, or no longer have influence on our legislators.

SB five

Yes, I want to be able to leave my house un-armed without worrying that I might be killed because someone who has not thought this thing through, has low information, is easily intimidated by lies, believes everything they read and hear, second, third, fourth-hand, has interfered with my right to move around this country safely, as a law-abiding, tax-paying US citizen.  I feel that people who have thwarted reasonable, common sense, tightened gun safety laws, like universal background checks, longer waiting periods before licensed dealers sell anyone a firearm, laws prohibiting a person from buying a gun and giving it to someone else, especially children/minors, closing the gun-show loophole and cracking down on trafficking are shackling me and my ability to live my life and deal with more important challenges and opportunities than having to second-guess and side-step a fanatic with a gun. I want laws in place that force people who own guns to lock them up. Just yesterday an 11 year old in Tennessee shot and killed his eight year old neighbor because she didn’t want him to touch her new puppy. Does this seem right?

May I point out, by the way, the situation in places like Syria right now, where the populace, the terrorists, Assad’s people and every manner of vigilante and soldier of fortune is armed to the teeth with all kinds of weapons. Have you watched those videos and newscasts? Are children being protected there by that frontier-town, all out, chaotic war environment? Is that what you suggest we have on the streets of this nation? That is the logical extension of this mentality. Suddenly, one small handgun is not enough, you need two, or maybe they should be bigger, or maybe you need three and a long-gun, then an assault rifle.  Why not more? Why not grenades? Bombs? Where will this end?

Maybe we should just give in. Do what California did. It authorized “open carry”, back in the Reagan years.  When the Black Panther’s took that as their green light to be armed in public, Reagan quickly rescinded that law. Make the entire country ‘open-carry’ territory and I think what will result will shock reasonable people everywhere into doing something intelligent at the national level.

SB four

Meanwhile, you may find this an interesting proposal. I would love your thoughts on this.

Images: Chez BeBe – Santa Barbara

Talkin’ on sunshine

It’s early Friday morning and so here I am like clockwork with another post. I hope everyone is OK with my  predictable blogging, appearing each week at this time.  If I were to do it more often or less, I think it would annoy everyone, so I have settled on this schedule. Thank you so much to all my old and new friends, for visiting, reading and commenting. This community has been growing steadily and I truly appreciate you all, every one of you.

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We have had a busy two weeks since we returned from our trip.  It was such a welcome break — about a week — and it had been too long since we had done it.  I am still unpacking.  Even though the place we went is just a couple of hours away and in a similar climate — sun almost night and day, it seemed, and more like July than September, I like to be prepared for everything. One thing I found out about myself is that I now need far more specific items to make me comfortable, than I had for a long time. When I first started traveling on my own (with friends) in high school, I hauled way too much along.  Then I went through a period of extensive travel with just a few black things, rolled up like sausages.  It was part of the fun of the trip to see how many outfits I could get out of how few items that way.

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Now I am back to taking too much.  Geoffrey had gotten me a beautiful set of Tumi suitcases (to replace the Vuitton luggage that was stolen on our first honeymoon), monogrammed with my initials. The largest of the three pieces is almost like a trunk.  It is so brilliantly constructed that it has every possible kind of pocket and organizing device. But, stark naked, it weighs 50 lbs.  It is now too big to take on a plane (and when I fly I no longer check a bag, anyway).  So I took that set with me on this trip.  I had each piece packed to the max, with all the outfits for day and night, plus the kind of nightwear I could use with the rest of the family, and then little comforts like all my devices, iPod, snacks, jewelry, reading materials, swimwear and gear, my own pillow and towels (just in case, LOL) and my coffee K-cups (I know, I know, forgive me but I cannot bear bad coffee — I took a box of Peets). Yep, it was overkill, as every possible thing I could have wanted was there in our corner of the estate, when we arrived.

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The town itself is a haven for the international rich and famous. Yet, it has an unprepossessing little village at its heart, that was charming, walkable and welcoming. It is loaded with shops and eateries and reminds me of Carmel, farther north on the coast. One thing I noticed right away, as we arrived late in the day from our journey northward, was that everyone brings their dog to breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Very European.  It is one of those places where people may be in shorts and a tank top, but sporting a blinding platinum and diamond bracelet that anywhere else would surely be fake. They are totally comfortable doing it and stepping from their Teslas or Bentleys.  No one seemed to notice our modest wheels, either — too well bred and heeled, and totally uninterested.

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You never really see the homes. They are all behind walls and sometimes even the gates are solid so the entries are obscured. Many of them, though, have ocean views. All one sees from the narrow, twisting ‘country’ roads are the tops of the trees and the sun that seems to be up earlier and down later than anywhere else. It was September but it was sweltering. We were all housed, the entire extended group, in a family villa, each of us with our own separate buildings, totally outfitted.  I have stayed in castles and luxury hotels in the past, but this extensive compound, completely hidden from the road, was a first. We had to go through three security gates to get there, and then once inside, all our doors were open for the duration. It was almost medieval in its sense of seclusion while being ultra modern and yet, somehow down-home and comfortable.

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All that really matters to me is that I have my own bedroom and bath, so this was unexpected sumptuoy.  These photos were taken within the two, twelve foot high concrete walls: one that surrounds all the estates on this part of the winding road, and one that encloses the individual estate where we were staying. So the low walls you see here separated each part of our group, from the others.  Talk about security!! And boundaries.  They say good fences make good neighbors. Apparently!

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To say we literally ate, morning, noon, and night is an understatement.  I long ago learned to just order whatever I like and then take a few bites, bringing the rest home.  Otherwise, this would have been gluttony on top of sloth.  I took just the D610 with one lens on it and tried to be low-key using it.  After all, this is someone’s private estate and I didn’t want to over-expose it. But I do want you to see it.  It is typical California style vacation (second or third)-home extravagance: Spanish mission architecture and furnishings, open, sturdy, yet equipped with every modern convenience (Californians are used to having the world at their feet and fingers wherever they go), within walking distance of the village (but with no sidewalks or shoulders on the heavily forested roads — so you take your life in your hands walking, even in broad daylight as Maseratis come screaming around the corner with no warning), past wall after eerie wall.  We had no idea who was even on our private road. Only in town was there any sense that there are thousands of people living in the surrounding community.

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Another lovely thing was how dark the entire area is at night. There are no street lights of any kind and because everyone is behind high walls, very little ambient light. We would walk outside and sit under a literal planetarium, using our SkyMap Google app to identify the stars, constellations and planets overhead.  Human beings need more dark time, but it also made driving a nightmare! The flowers were photographed in the hothouse, by the way.

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We had a lot of time to interact with the InFirm and it was no different from other experiences, except I think everyone was trying to be as flexible, entertaining, and accommodating as possible.  Being in the villa with nothing serious to do put all of us in a relaxed, good mood. And having our own buildings enabled each nuclear group to do our own things without interfering with anyone else.  The planned events, taking place at other estates nearby, came off without a hitch. I did just about nothing but still lost two pounds, snagged some interesting shots that I will post on Flickr, and when we got back, we both felt as if we had been on vacation for a month!  Now we are busily renovating some of the rooms to make space for my family visitors who are coming for the holidays. (Didn’t it seem like I was just doing that, like a few months ago? Here they come again!). We are making over the Christmas room to be just a guest room and putting a smaller tree in the family room this year. Big change for us, as that Christmas room was in place for over a decade.

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Next up, my fave town on the Central California coast — where we have decided to retire. So, stay tuned.

Images: Chez BeBe, California golden shores; click to enlarge them


Holy waters

This was going to be a completely different post, concentrating on the event we attended this past week. But, instead, I was completely absorbed by the visit of Pope Francis and the canonization of Saint Junípero Serra. What struck me as remarkable was the coincidence of my ongoing blog posts and Flickr sets focusing on the beautiful towns along the Central California coast. Every one of them was founded as a Catholic Mission by then Father Serra, a Franciscan priest, monk, Friar and scholar from Spain.  The lovely waters of the coast are dotted with memorials and reminders of this pioneering Catholic. There are 21 Missions in California, 9 of them were the work of this single man.

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So, I have been thinking about Pope Francis and this Franciscan, Saint Serra. I listened carefully to the message that the Papa reiterated in his addresses since arriving in the Americas.  As I looked over the photographs I took up in the beautiful places we visited and stayed last weekend, some of the most valuable real estate on earth, each home, restaurant, and site perched high over a sparkling ocean, glowing blue and morphing to gold by nightfall, I was struck by the contrast. These tributes to the good life, to capitalism, the free market American way, juxtaposed with the Pope’s relentless call to put such things at the bottom of our lists.

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While we were there, celebrating — as so many of our citizens do — bathed in luxury and comfort, the Pope was honoring a man who left his safe and protective university post and traveled to the shores of a distant, wild and hostile land, hoping to bring a message of love, peace, and kindness to people he believed were heathens.  Obviously, that mission was flawed, perhaps, misled, ill-advised, ill-fated by 21st century standards. But why, if we can barely shed our xenophobia, bigotry and cultural biases today would we expect a European man of his time to understand the value of leaving intact a culture he viewed as primitive, violent and condemned to eternal damnation?

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When I see Pope Francis, I see a man of sincere kindness, goodness, and gentleness. If you didn’t hear his historic imprecations to Congress, read them here and let these words sink in, especially if you are partisan.  Who would admit to any disagreement with these sentiments? And they are core-deep in this man, too.

A recent Papal analyst traveled to Argentina to see if in fact the people in the slums truly felt Francis had cared for them when he was their Bishop and Cardinal, and he found that people brought out pictures of Cardinal Bergoglio that had been taken with each of these miserables, as they are called there, no matter how humble. Tears of pride flowed down their faces. Francis did not just talk about mercy, he lived it.  How then could he support and canonize a man who was anything other, given the setting of the culture in which he worked in that day over two hundred years ago?

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And what is the ‘good life’ after all? A luxury home overlooking the Pacific surrounded by tony eateries and people with exquisitely adorned and attired pedigrees? Or is it being good, in that deep, true, heartfelt St. Francis – Papa Pancho sort of way. Working hard, leaving one’s comfort zone, opening, welcoming, gentling everyone we meet? I was listening to one of my favorite thinkers a few weeks ago, Naomi Wolf, and heard her say she believes in a peaceful, egalitarian world. I thought it was simple and profound. It sums up my philosophy so concisely.

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Pontiff means bridge. Pope Francis is a holy bridge over our troubled waters, i.e., our souls. And our divisive natures. He embodies goodness, kindness, charity, compassion, love, unity and inclusion.  I too want him to be my earthly role model.

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Next week, more of my Central California coast water-towns.

Images: Chez BeBe/LG Stylo with a bit of help from Lightroom and Topaz; click to enlarge them.

Color me Barbara

Whenever I visit or revisit a place, especially for the second or third time, I try develop a living persona for that spot.  Something I can consider three-dimensionally and five-sensorally too, alive and in high def.  So far, my photographic sojourns have been about rediscovering California, especially the southern half, and embracing it. Coming to love it, the way I love New York, San Francisco and Paris, let’s say.  It has taken a great deal of afterthought and effort, but I think I may be there.  I may have found, on the Central California Coast, the ideal place for us to retire to some day.

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This year, my third blogging, as you know, I am devoting my attention to ‘a beautiful life’ — not just for me, for everyone. I want to mull over this idea as a silken thread running through all my posts, somehow. At this point, I believe I have presented a pretty thorough overview of Los Angeles and its environs. But, there is another hub or sphere of influence that has less of the vibe of LA and more of Northern California.  So, for example, Santa Paula and San Luis Obispo have got that more complex, nuanced, and ‘life is good’ sensibility than even Valencia where we live right now.  Valencia is a planned community, affluent, manicured, staid, conservative and, well, hot, dry and boring.

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I have come to the conclusion that one of the things that matters most to me is weather.  I grew up with lots of it and four distinct seasons. I have nothing against blue skies and sunshine, but I don’t like having them all year long.  You will never see me pining for the island retirement location.  I have been to a lot of gorgeous tropical islands, like Jamaica, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Santorini, Capri, Ibiza and of course Hawaii. But give me Martha’s Vineyard, Prince Edward, or Vancouver islands any day, over all of those.  You are not going to find a more perfect place to live than Bermuda if you want white beaches, vivid blue, clean water, year round sun and warmth, and safety.  But that is the last place I would live and I don’t plan to visit again.  I get it. They are perfect for people who seek complete tranquility and no challenges or complexity whatsoever. You can get away with a one-season, minimalist wardrobe.  Your food choices are limited and that takes one more decision off the table, literally.

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Nope! I grew up in the City (The City) and a nearby four-season beach resort town.  That was a great combo for someone with an intricate mind like me and one Geoffrey and I could never afford.  Gone are the days when middle class people can live like that here or anywhere, as I have said elsewhere on this blog.

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So, I decided to make it a dual mission to look for the right combination: a beach town with a university with a rich cultural life, excitement, lots to do, rain and cold weather at least some of the year (occasional snow would be nice, but let’s not get greedy here).  California, north of Los Angeles, offers many choices.  The issue of course is: money.  The puniest house in California now costs around $500K.  Get it at the beach and you can triple that.

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So, when we were revisiting Santa Barbara this summer, we reminded ourselves of how beautiful life is there. For those who can afford it.  When I say Santa Barbara, I am talking about Santa Barbara County, which includes, famously, Goleta, Carpinteria, Summerland, and Montecito as well as the city of Santa Barbara.  All told, this makes for a major metropolitan area, one without blight and, I reluctantly admit, poverty. And that makes it the destination of choice for those well-heeled who want the ultimate in luxury living, a mild climate but one with moisture and cloud-dotted skies all year long, sun and sand, privacy (more about that) and proximity to a megalopolis (two and a half hours away, i.e., LA).

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The Central California coast is the ideal location for all of this.  Above Santa Barbara and we are a bit too far from Los Angeles for practical purposes.  The big drawback to living in Santa Barbara and its environs is there is only one real highway, the 101, which runs north and south, and in some places shrinks to four lanes.

If you know LA, you are familiar with its throat-choking traffic.  Rush hour is virtually around the clock in the Southland.  People are just used to crawling along, inhaling fumes from the sad sack in front of them and passing it to the one behind. Day after day after brain-numbing day.

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It is twice as bad sometimes getting past Santa Barbara in either direction. That is the beauty of it for the high-bank natives who call it home: they don’t have to do this very often, if ever. If you are, let’s say, Barbra Streisand, who has a home there, or Oprah. There are so many millionaires and billionaires in Santa Barbara County, that if you wanted to hem in the donor class, just stop up the 101 right there.  Of course, many of these people have private planes and helicopters, but, just saying… It keeps the riff-raffers like me away too, and I am sure that factored into their plans. No one can just casually pop in and out of Saint Barbie and make mischief, or clutter up the streets with aging Volvos, like ours.

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So, here is a start on the area. In fact, I am attending a wedding up there next week (and so will not be posting until the 25th, fyi) and plan to take a new round of pictures with my new D610.  There is so much to share from this small stretch of real estate, I could devote a half dozen installments to it.

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And so, while I drool every time I visit, Geoffrey and I recognize that we can’t do Santa Barbara. We must be content to visit.  However! We did identify the perfect place for us nearby. Drumroll.  It is another beach community, qualifies as Central Cali, is just as pretty, very old (for me older is better), loaded with ethnic culinary diversity (very important to me), affordable (yay!) and exciting.  More on that in an upcoming post. Lots of history, beauty and local color that typifies the entire central California littoral.  A vivid, vibrant, living atmosphere. That is what I have been looking for and finally found, I believe. Meanwhile, I will be in striking (eating, relaxing, sightseeing, museum-hopping, course-taking) distance of Santa Barbara, this gorgeous, elegant, glamorous beach resort /college town paradise, that some call the California Riviera.

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[A word on these photos.  These were reduced for pan-computer viewability here. The higher resolution versions and many more photographs taken in Santa Barbara will be on my Flickr Photostream for the rest of September.]

Images: Chez BeBe, of Santa Barbara, California

(F)All in: NY


Well, as I have said before, this is the time to visit my home town, New York City. Here is my post from last autumn. What is amazing is that, while the Mayoral race is over and my guy won (yay!), there is another reason to hurry to the City right this minute: Il Papa! Yep, he is coming to town on September 25 and you had better believe our Catholic Mayor is pulling out all the stops for His Holiness. So … everything I said here is still true. Hope you like it! :-D

Originally posted on Beth Byrnes:

If there was ever a time to visit New York City, this is it.


Not only is Fall the prettiest time of the year in NY but there is a Mayoral race going on, so the city will be on its toes and putting all the bells and whistles out for the spotlight that this race will enjoy. If you can, visit NY right now. Bloomberg will get everything shipshape for this key election.

There are other reasons.  Having lived there for 25 years, this is the best season, in my opinion.  First of all, it is usually sunny, dry and cool, not yet cold.  There is less precipitation in the Fall and the winds are not unusually brisk, though they can be just active enough to put a sparkle of energy in the air.


At some point, depending on the temperatures, the leaves will be turning.  Many people do not…

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