Monday, May 23, 2011

Missing Venice

“Venice misses you already! crossing our fingers that we make the blog...”
Facebook wall post from Amy

Well, Amy, you are right. No Crowds should cover Venice, a district on the Westside of Los Angeles, California because it is super fun and surprisingly charming. Who knew? Tourists know about the circus-like Boardwalk and Muscle Beach. We go to see the freaks and the show. But most of us don’t know about the absolutely lovely Venice Canal Historic District (pictured above) or the delightful walk streets. We don't know that in this part of Los Angeles you can walk or bike almost anywhere.

Sadly, I haven’t a clue where you would stay in Venice because I stayed at Amy’s but I did eat a fantastic, albeit expensive, meal at the Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Drank a lot of good coffee there too. Mostly, I just walked around, enjoying the laid back vibe, peeking into peoples homes and gardens and imaging a different life.

And yes, Amy, I miss Venice too.

Photo credit: Wikipedia,_Los_Angeles,_2008_02.JPG 

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Meditation on Visiting Children

When my parents come to town, I can get a little whigged out. I love seeing them but I want them to be happy and comfortable and I know that when travelling, stuff happens that I can’t control. Like the last time my parents went through Heathrow and the airport was having one of its  ‘meltdown moments’. That’s not a safe place for anyone, much less an intrepid couple in their 80s. So when my parents come to town, I try to hyper-manage their visit and I worry – a lot.

Having just returned home after spending two weeks visiting my own children, I wonder; how was it for them? Do they get whigged-out when I roll in to town? Was I a good visiting parent?

Being a good visiting parent ain’t as easy as it looks. First , there is the whole role reversal thing. You are on holiday but they are working. You are in a strange place but they’re at home  - a new home, not their old home, sniff, sniff. Yup, there is nothing to bring home the fact that your chicks have flown the nest like visiting them in their new nests. And lets get down to the tough stuff. You are there to check up on them and they, in turn, know that you are there to check up on them.

All of this is true. But so is the fact that you can experience remarkable moments, like when you meet your children’s friends and you realize that they are surrounded by folks who care about them almost as much as you do. Even if you are unintentionally stressing them out during their work week, it’s great to get a glimpse of them in work mode.  Who knew they were so competent? How did they get their hands on such good housing without your involvement? And how did they learn to take care of their old Mum with such good grace.

So here’s my advice for being a good visiting parent. Come early and often. Travel light. Don’t stay with them. Offer to pay for everything but allow them to pay for somethings. Let them drive. Admire what they have built, on their own. Have fun. Your job is done.

Photo: Leland and I, after running Bay to Breakers together in San Francisco, a real highlight of my trip. Photo credit – thanks Erinn!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Osama and Our Response

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. 
-Martin Luther King, Jr in part*

Yes, No Crowds is a travel blog. No, this is not about travel, but I wanted to make a comment about how some of us have been responding to the demise of Osama bin Laden and when this quote arrived, this morning from my wise Uncle Brian in New York, I thought,
yes, that is what I want to say.

* Despite the whole hoo haw about whose quote this is, it remains what I want to say.