Harbor day

Harbor church

We went to bed early last night, thoroughly pooped. My eyes were closed by 8pm after a longlonglong travel day. We slept and slept. We finally got up just before 11am. [Have I slept that long since I was an infant?] We were thoroughly rejuvenated (no surprise!), especially after the pot of coffee the Guru made…coffee and milk thoughtfully stocked in our apartment!

We set off to explore the harbor. Marseille’s harbor is a rectangular U with the opening to the west. We live in the old town, on the north side. There’s a fort on each side of the harbor opening. This photo is from the north fort toward the south fort. Also, the southern skyline is dominated by the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, high on a rocky outcrop. Although it looks older, it was built in the late mid-1800s. If you get closer or have a big lens, you can see the glinting, gilded statue of the Virgin atop the belltower.

Nets cart

Down at the harbor, you can see that what was once a working harbor used by fisherman, traders, and pirates navies, there’s still a bit of evidence of fishing, but mostly the harbor is full of moored pleasure boats, both sailing and motoring.

Work station

I was quite interested in these boat supports/jacks, for the endlessly necessary work on hull cleaning and maintenance.

Dock locks

The many docks radiating out from the wide apron around the water are all protected by gates; this one even had barbed wire. As near as we could tell, each dock was controlled by a different group, usually named a Society of Somethingorother.

Phone checking

Tourists did the usual lots of phone checking, pictures, music, whatever….

Tourists photoing

Oddly, I noticed no selfie-sticks. Wha? Bring a friend instead?

Reflective roof

The base of the U has an artistic high reflective…roof(?), creating probably highly appreciated shade in the summer heat. Today, not so much. Note winter coats.


We took the obligatory close-up shots. Here’s a fine one showing complex anchor engineering.

Mast reflections

We also took, uhem, I took many mast-reflection shots. Here’s only one, Lucky You.

N fort

We finally got around to the south end of the U, and looked back across the harbor mouth at the northern harbor-protecting fort.

Fishermans stew

Along the way, we stopped for a big seafood lunch. Big. Mine was a bowl of mixed species. I could not identify the flavors in the broth, quite tasty, but I’m pretty sure it was thickened with bread crumbs. It was served with a small bowl of grated hard cheese, and a small bowl of mustard with garlic and I don’t know what else. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so after I’d gotten some of the shells out of the way (mmmmm), I stirred them both in. The broth was good both before and after the additions.

The Guru had moules frites, which is mussels with a side of fries. The mussels had marsala (pretty sure) and garlic (definitely) in the steaming/boiling liquid/broth; also yummmmm.

Narrow streets

After our lovely, sun-drenched walking tour of the harbor (we missed the cross-harbor pedestrian ferry (1€ for two people), and so walked around the east end of the harbor, then cut north and west finally getting into the narrow streets of our neighborhood. There’s plenty of elevation change, and some sections are all steps.

We had such fun, and took hundreds of photos; I only include the merest sample, chosen to include the highlights—boats, buildings, sunlight. Also, see the moon!? Time to head to the bakery for some take-home quiche for tonight and pain au chocolat for breakfast. Our world is pretty darned fine.

Kitchen window barbie

Oops. I almost forgot to add that out our kitchen window I can see this headless Barbie on the tile roof across the street. Abandoned art, or art by abandonment?

Only four photos, so as not to bore

Morning sun beach

We spent the day on and (mostly) near the beach. We got out early to enjoy that low-angle light, and it’s a good thing—already almost HOT by 8:30 am!

Strange dune flowers

Circling in the car behind the dunes traveling from one place to another, we found these large bloom clusters; I have no idea what they are.

Bamboo shadows

Late in the day, we found this lovely juxtaposition of light and shadow, shapes and colors.


On a late-day beach wander, we found this sea-denizen, or its fading carcass. Such striking, amazing colors!

Covered some ground

Concrete tunnel

The title is apt for our day; we did cover some ground. We also kinda went underground through this tunnel. I could not even read the last line of the sign “No trucks except standard height…” because, irony of ironies, truck-roofs had so damaged it that the letters have been bashed to near-oblivion.

Tunnel of trees

We also went through tunnels of trees. The green is beginning to pop. (Apologies for the insect grease.)


Then we made it to the ocean! Yay, Atlantic! Substantial marine layer for after noon…. Thanks, K!

Goodyear replaced wingfoot one

Southbound, we dodged some serious traffic, as the Day-tone-uh race (rrrrrrrr) was underway as we slipped south past it, keeping thousands of vehicles in actual parking lots and not out on the roads. Above we could see the Wingfoot One, but without the customary Goodyear name…and instead a hashtag advertising a Goodyear ad-video that will premier tomorrow.

Egret handicapped

Safely past the motor mecca, we headed for a place that advertised it’s fine view. Walking through the parking lot, we were glad we found a regular space, as apparently handicapped vehicles get special avian…attention…the kind that can damage the paint job.

Sunset diner view

Turns out the restaurant gave us seats to a terrific sunset show, and decent enough food. Won’t go back, but it was perfect for this evening.

Tired, we reached our destination. Yawn. G’night.

Gung Hei Fat Choi!

Church in Sun

Rural small towns in the Deep South: you will find churches, but not usually this large and fancy.

Wall artifacts

You will also find evidence that there used to be more buildings.

Spn moss ness

Go far enough south, and you will see Spanish moss (not a moss at all) festooning the trees, often oaks.

Pine plantation

Monocropping trends towards trees and…

Cotton bolls

…cotton (decorative sample). Also pecans and sometimes peanuts (neither pictured).

Horse hoofprints

The soils tend to be sandy, sometimes nearly white. You may see horse hoofprints.

Small town Fri night

And you know you’re in a small town when the restaurant puts the game to keep the kids occupied out in the street.

* (Chinese) Happy New Year!

Faint voices

Clouds on midtown

Now that we’ve plowed through “Peaky Blinders” (did not expect to enjoy it so much), we tried “Britannia” (nope; too…trite?), and now we’re sampling “Victoria.” Several times we’ve seen the notation “faint voices” in the subtitles…so poetic.

Window view reflection

Vague, indistinct, pale. Synonyms of faint.

Also, foggy, cloudy?

Beautiful, then mundane

Peacock garden ball

Today’s beautiful is decorated, glazed, pottery garden ball, decorated with stylized peacock-feather eyes. They mimic leaves and vegetation, no?

Utility pole maintenance

The mundane was walking two streets that workmen had been busy along—digging around every utility pole. Looks like they were digging below the ground surface to reveal and examine and maintain the bases of the poles. They are good-sized (to carry the lines along the street), and brownish, like they’re impregnated with tarry compounds. Yet, below ground, some were fine, others were shaved we assumed because the “wood” surface-layers were no longer undamaged, others had a rotten layer that the workers removed. We could not tell how the poles would be rehabilitated. Depending on the weather, maybe I’ll recheck tomorrow. BTW, I thought the brown paper was to protect the above-ground pole from being…tarred (or swabbed with whatever they’ll apply).

And that is today’s story.

Compose a story

Colorful companionable trio

To me, both of these photos could spur a great story. Several, yes? First, the companionable, colorful, unoccupied chair trio….

Roots struggling

And this one…. It’s hard to figure, no? At first glance, abstract shapes, but not regular. Turns out the grayish features are the surfacing, struggling roots of a good-sized tree trapped between a sidewalk and curb perhaps two feet apart—struggling to obtain water, nutrients, and whatever is “goodie” to a tree. Between the roots are moss and pockets of twigs and dried leaves…a forgotten, ignored mini-landscape.

BotGardenDaze Days


I’ve been feeling a bit more spry lately (yay!), and today we ventured to the BotGarden to check on the plants and have lunch out.

After eating, we checked out an area that’s been newly hardscaped. For years it had been very underused, to the point of seeming abandoned by the gardeners. As we approached the area, I could see that one of my favorite small beds of succulents and cacti was gone, replaced by a line of boring, identical shrubs.

Oh, no!

HOWEVER, when we got into the redesigned area, whew, the plants from That Very Bed had been planted in many new beds, with vastly expanded square footage.



With great happiness, we headed to the orchid conservatory to see what might be in bloom, as OrchidDaze has just begun. [I do not subscribe to their spelling distortion.]

Tiny hanging orchids

The orchid diversity is stunning. These are tiny and hang down from their vegetation, here perched on a branch.

Orchid branch

Compare to this huge branch of many blossoms, all open at once.

Orchid of purple

And this one is a knock-out for its color…and that it’s the size of a saucer.

Winter tour concludes

17 degrees

We loaded up and when The Guru fired up the beastie (complete with a full electrical charge (yay!)), it gave us this temp. Time to head south, we agreed. It even dropped another degree by the time we crossed the Potomac one last time east of Harpers Ferry. The water sparkled in the sun; we were southbound; life is good, we also agreed.

Rural fancy house

The landscape was mostly open and we saw a few “fancy” houses. I tried not to think about the ugly history of slavery in this former(?) tobacco-farming region. (We saw very few (surviving?) tobacco barns, unlike this latitude on our northbound leg.)

Tractor ahead

It was Sunday and perhaps that is partly why this was the only active farm vehicle we saw….

Horse blankets

All the horses I remember seeing on the many mini-farms had lovely jackets. I don’t think they’re anything like the old-fashioned “horse blankets.” I suspect these are high-tech and perhaps even Goretex.

Last rest area

I loved the low sun angle at this, our last rest area of the journey.

Gaffney peach

Proof that home is not far ahead…the Gaffney peach. And attendant power lines….

Such a great trip; such a diversity of experiences! We especially enjoyed last night’s socializing with our friends from Venezuela* (presently in northern Maryland). Still smiling!

* And, yes, the terrible things you have heard about people starving to death, lack/absence of medicines (including for malaria), and brutality by…well, you get the idea of what’s happening in Venezuela…yes, what you’ve heard: true, true, true. Soooo, so sad. We are glad they are safe. For now….

Two coppers, two branches

Potomac fog

From the train, we could see fog wafting up from the Potomac and that the ice floes were visibly reduced compared to yesterday. By day’s-end we carried our heavy coats in temps that almost reached 70°F, and on our return trip there was still fog and the floes had become chips (almost).

Temperance fountain

Leaving the subway station, we walked by this Temperance Fountain. Am I the only one to find it ironic that the city cut off the water quite some time ago, so that the water sponsor Henry D. Cogswell hoped would slake the thirst of potential liquor-drinkers was no longer supplied? And when the monument was relocated in 1987, it still wasn’t reconnected. Of course, the overflow was no longer needed for a horse trough, either!

GM blooper

At one of my first stops in the Newseum, I discovered blooper-tiles in the ladies with headlines you probably don’t remember.

Nixon resigns

This one, however, you may well remember.

First Declaration

I also learned that this thrice-weekly got the scoop over the weeklies when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This was still two days after the signing…. Only nineteen copies of this historic front-page survive.

Capitol on hill

After lunch the overcast had thinned and we climbed Capitol Hill. And it is a hill. The visitor center is on the other side; we looped to the left, climbed, then descended to the VC entrance.


We took the next tour, which focused on frescoes by Constantino Brumidi (he began them in 1855). During the tour, we got a chance to see the views to the west, down the mall toward the Washington Monument.

Senate hallways

We saw glorious Brumidi frescoes in Senate hallways, although his best-known work in the Capitol building is the ceiling of the rotunda. Brumidi was paid a substantial $10 per day, which covered his assistant and their supplies, with Brumidi taking about half. He augmented this salary by doing outside commissions. He did most of the ceilings, leaving the walls to his assistant, our guide said.

If you can tell the lower part of the left wall is darker, it is because restorers have left overpainting to show how the original work was obscured. The restoration was finished on this hallway about two years ago, and removed tobacco-smoke stains along with layers of added paint.

Supreme Court

Leaving the Capitol we crossed to our enjoy the façade of the Supreme Court, also looming over DC on Capitol Hill. To help your eye with the scale, I’d estimate that the “normal” door opening is about 1/5th the height of the doorway in the stone.

LOC Court of Neptune Fountain

On our way back to catch our return train, we passed in front of the Library of Congress, and saw more Classical-inspired artwork that was installed in 1898 beneath the monumental staircase leading to the main, formal building entrance. The central bronze is Neptune flanked by his two sons and accompanied by a large frog and coiling sea-snakes(?). This composition is in turn flanked by a pair of Naiads/Nereids—sea nymphs; only the south one shown here. You don’t have to look closely to observe that sculptor Roland Hinton Perry was inspired by the Trevi Fountain figures.

Another fantastic and fascinating DC day!