Friday, August 11, 2017

On the road

A window into the Hamptons, Sag Harbor. Photo: JH.
Friday, August 11, 2017. Another beautiful sunny summer day in New York yesterdays with temps in the low 80s and some humidity mid-day. By mid-afternoon in my neck of the woods there was a steady, cool breeze coming off the river. The kind that gently caresses your forehead as you're walking into it.

I have nothing much to report since the day was spent organizing things at my desk and around the house. I'm my own housekeeper now, after mine, of 20 years left me for richer territory in some lady's penthouse. She was getting 20 bucks an hour and wanted 30. She was not required to make or change bed, do my laundry, wash the dishes — just straighten up, vacuum, wash floors and presto! For three hours. It got so she was doing all that in an hour and a half. I figured out that she was actually getting $45 an hour. I didn't say anything. My bad. Nor did she. So when something better came along she quit. Good all around.
Another window onto the world.
I was disappointed because after such a long time I briefly had the feeling you'd have if a friend of longstanding dropped you. Confounding and slightly hurtful, sensitive boy that I am. Oh, also she spent a lot of time on the cell phone. I know everybody does it nowadays but isn't that like being in two places at one time (while nowhere at all)? So she left. Boohoo.

The first thing I did was clean the bathroom, wash and wax the floor in the main room and my workspace; wash the (tiny) kitchen floor, change my sheets and then go into my daily routine. My friend Barbara came and walked the dogs, freeing me up some time.
Meanwhile, back on the streets of Manhattan — a little taste of Paris.
On the road with a friend of NYSD. So at my desk, checking my e-mail before I plunged into my daily reading (which is getting to be like going into a haunted house), I received a photo from a reader, Nelson Hammel of Devonshire Palm Beach. He has become an acquaintance/friend via the NYSD, although we've never met. I've published a couple of his limericks (poems) on these pages before. They're always clever and sometimes funny.

Nelson, from what I've learned from his adventures, has a strong epicurean sensibility. By which I mean, when he doesn't have to be working, he travels. And he's one of those fellows who takes it all in. All over the world it seems. Last year he was in Bali, and before he departed I gave him the name of a friend, a woman I've known forty years but hadn't seen in more than twenty. Voila! I get an e-mail with him and her at a dinner party. He went back to Bali recently and they re-connected (at dinner of course).

After Bali, I later got another e-mail from someplace South of the Border. And then yesterday came this. I'm not kidding when I say he travels. Tangier. A room with a view in the Grand Hotel Villa de France where he has suite 35, which was Henri Matisse's favorite because of the view.
The Grand Hotel Villa de France, once the home/hotel to Edith Wharton, John Singer Sargent, Somerset Maugham, Tennessee Williams, Paul Bowles and even Matisse. It sits just above the Medina, and has views out to the Mediterranean and Spain beyond.
Vintage Road Rally plaques affixed to the front portico ... from the days when crossing the Straits of Gibraltar by ferry was a big deal.
Then a few minutes later came another e-mail with more photos (he's quite good, no?) for your viewing pleasure. I was thinking afterwards that Nelson's missing all the news over here. Lucky boy.
The Hotel Villa Josephine, Old Mountain, Tangier was once the home of Walter Harris, a British journalist and adventurer who was the inspiration for "Indiana Jones." Later it was the Summer home for the Pasha of Marrakech.
The front door to the Hotel Villa Josephine.
Camels on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, five kilometers south of Tangiers.

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