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Joie de Vivre

The Edward Gorey House

I love Edward Gorey. I’ve talked about him before today. I’m happy to report that we made the pilgrimage to his house, The Edward Gorey Museum. It was a thrill to stand in his former home, to marvel at his many drawings and works on view. We spent several hours there, and we even ate breakfast one day at Jack’s Outback, where Gorey frequently had both breakfast AND lunch.

New England is lovely this time of year. We explored Yarmouth, and Provincetown. Here is a partial account of the trip, in photos.

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Joie de Vivre

Day Trip to NYC

For Christmas, my darling bought me the experience (and shoes) of custom made sandals. COVID-19 was in full roar, so we had to postpone our trips to Jutta Neuman’s shop in NYC.

Jim and Beverly in Alphabet City, NYC

We went up for an initial consultation, and they traced my feet. We made a weekend of it, and had a wonderful time. We both found some great books and other treasure, and the food was delicious.

The second trip involved two visits to the shop. In the morning, they fitted the straps to my feet, and glued them in place.

We went out a delightful lunch that began with some fried anchovies, to give them time to assemble the sandals and allow the glue to set.

Beverly gazing uncertainly at fried anchovies

We we returned to the shop, I walked in the sandals, and they traced my feet in them to cut them down. After we left, they added a Birkenstock type tread and put them in the mail.

I love sandals, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make them. I tell a story about in 1993, I was in NYC for the CMJ festival, and happened upon a leather shop that made belts, bags and sandals. I was enthralled with the place, and while I never had the chance to have sandals made for myself, I did strike up a correspondence with the proprietor the resulted in the offer of an apprenticeship. I had just bought my first house in Baltimore, and couldn’t make it work. I figured someday I’ll do this. Meaning both learning to make sandals, and also have a bespoke pair for myself. I can happily cross one of this off my todo list.

These feel amazing – they fit perfectly, and I never want to take them off. I love them – what a wonderful experience and gift. So very thoughtful!

While we were in NYC, we visited the garment district, which was a lot of fun. I found some neon PVC which I’m going to make some repeated things with – more on that soon.

Happy Spring!

P.S. My nail polish is OPI Blue my mind. It matches the drums I use in Coastguard, and is my favorite color.

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Joie de Vivre

The Rascal Belt Bag

Inspired by my pal’s recent travel blog tips, I thought I’d share something here, too. I’ve rediscovered the fanny pack.

I love bags, luggage, backpacks, etc. How I stopped using a fanny pack in the mid-1990’s escapes me, but I’m making up for lost time. That’s right – the fanny pack is back!

I didn’t want to carry a backpack or messenger bag everywhere, and while I love those long shorts with all the extra storage pockets, I wanted to travel lighter.

I decided to get a Timbuk2 fanny pack. It’s not the cheapest, and maybe not the most feature rich, but I’m a Timbuk2 fan, and figured I’d start here. Also, it’s called “THE RASCAL BELT BAG” so I guessed that was a good sign. I was correct.

The bag has two compartments. The bigger compartment has an inside zipper pocket for credit cards/money. The smaller front compartment has a key fob, and a divider.
Here are the items I carried. My phone is missing, because I used it to take this photo. I also picked up an RFID blocking “front pocket” slip wallet, which worked perfectly on this trip, and easily fit inside the zippered money compartment.
I hung the pack from the beach umbrella to keep it from getting sandy and too sunny.
Sometimes, I wore it the front.
Sometimes, I wore it over my shoulder, which was very comfortable.
Sometimes, it was invisible, even though it was there.

Here is a true story.

On the last evening in Old San Juan, I decided to not bring the rascal belt bag. As a result of this, both my keys and glasses slipped out of my shorts pocket in the back of an Uber. I heard the keys and picked them up, but missed the glasses. After a very panicky 15 minutes in our room, we realized what happened and had to ask the driver to come back, which she did, thankfully.

Travel Bonus Tip: I recommend these Luna sandals. All day, water friendly comfort, and you can even run in them, if you like. I’ve had these for years, and I love them.

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Joie de Vivre

Deaverdura

My favorite restaurant in San Juan was a place called Deaverdura, and I think this place deserves its very own post.

We managed to get past the chain barring the door, and to a table. The hostess/waitress told us, quite rapidly, what we “would like to order,” so we ordered that. There were no prices on the menu, and to my surprise, this was the cheapest meal of the trip.

What arrived at our table was a sampler, and while I didn’t catch the names of everything on there, everything on there was delicious. I also ordered ceviche and crispy cheese balls that were delicious.

One of the best parts was when a pigeon flew in to eat some crumbs, and no one flipped out. The hostess gently encouraged the bird to leave, but let it be when it stayed inside. The pigeon finally left of its own accord, and I found the whole scene to be very sweet, if not a violation of heath codes.

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Joie de Vivre

The Old San Juan

Jim and Beverly in old San Juan

We spent 8 days on Puerto Rico, and it was wonderful. Here are a few key moments, aside from the big one. We rented an AirBNB in Condado, San Juan. It was a block from the ocean, and walking distance to a lot of restaurants, shops and other hotels.

I think Old San Juan was my favorite – we visited several times, and walked for miles through the city. It’s like a combination of New Orleans and San Fransisco, only much older than both. San Juan is the oldest city in the country, founded in 1521 (St. Augustine was founded in 1565). In particular, Castillo San Cristobal captured my piratey imagination.

We had a lot of outdoor fun. Aside from walking for many miles to forts, bookstores and various beaches, we went kayaking and hiked in a rain forest. While there was no rain is said forest, there was a pretty cool rope swing into a watering hole.

One day, we rented a car, and drove to the south of the island. I stuck a toe in the Caribbean sea, and we walked around Ponce. It seemed… slow, either because of COVID or maybe the last hurricane. There was a magnificent fountain in the center of the square, and I have a theory that it’s the actual “Fountain of Youth” that Ponce de Leon was searching for.

We left Ponce and headed for Arecibo.

Somehow, we got off 10 and ended up on 123, a nauseating winder of a road. Along the way, we found the most beautiful cemetery.

In Arecibo, we found a magical beach where waves hit the rocks and made huge plumes of white spray. It’s by the lighthouse.

The weather was wonderful, the ocean was warm, and the nights on our balcony were delightful.

I love ceviche and I love empanadas. I grew up eating both, and I had more of the former this trip, including some not in the photos below.

One thing I don’t want to forget – I was called “papi” by younger men several times on the trip. I thought they were calling me “old man.” And, well, this 18 year old was, but we googled it, and here’s what came up:

Papi is a colloquial term for “daddy” in Spanish, but in many Spanish-speaking cultures, particularly in the Caribbean, it is often used as a general term of affection for any man, whether it’s a relative, friend, or lover. The English “baby,” used as a term of endearment for spouses and children alike, is similar.

It was a wonderful trip, and I look forward to going back sometime.