Thursday, November 19, 2015

Magical Paris Hemingway Style

Paris is a magical city. That is just one of the reasons we all mourn this week. It is not just such a brutal tragedy against humanity and loss of life but it is also that Paris represents a city of light and love. More than anywhere else in the world it is a place where people can come together. There is a passion that is alive in Paris. And in a sense there is a part of Paris in us all.

Even though I have never been to Paris I have been in love with the idea of Paris for as long as I can remember.

It was no surprise to hear that the book Hemingway's Paris is flying off the shelves on

It is a beautiful book.

Hemingway was in Paris in the 1920's with other amazing writers, artists, and other assorted dreamers.

He captures the romance of the city in pictures and captions that illustrate why we all have a little bit of our heart in Paris especially this week.

When I do visit Paris I want to walk along the city sidewalks where Hemingway walked.

The book Walks in Hemingway's Paris is one of the best and most inspiring travel guides I have ever read. This book is not an ordinary travel guide with a mapped out walking tour of any old city. It takes the reader on a journey that can be enjoyed whether you ever to get to Paris or not. I recommend buying this book in hardback because you may just want to read it over and over again. (Like I have).

One of the things I love about Paris (even though I have never been there) is that it is something special for everyone who visits. It is special for a very personal and unique reason for each and every person I talk to.

When I ask Angela about Paris she will lovingly share memories of amazing chefs who have shared their passion for great food with her.

When I ask Marilyn about Paris she will lovingly share memories of great friendships and afternoons spent on balconies in the city sharing laughter and days touring the countryside.

When I ask Geoff he will lovingly share memories of the amazing architecture that constantly surprises and entertains.

When I ask Tom he will lovingly share memories of great art and talk about his plans for his next trip to Paris.

And on it goes.

One thing that all of these conversations have in common. Sharing. People sharing a passion for life.

Our thoughts are with the people of Paris. Whether you live there, travel there, or dream of Paris
Nous sommes tous les Parisiens

But you don't have to take my word for it. My friends at Travelingmom have been there. From historic Paris to Paris Disney they have great tips for your next trip. Check it out HERE.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Goodbye Gum Wall

It's an end of an era. The Gum Wall at Seattle's Pike Place Market is scheduled to get a steam cleaning. No more gum.

When I relayed this information to people there were very mixed responses. Some people said "Awww. That's too bad." Other people I talked to said, "Good! That is so gross".

For me "gross" can be found just up the steps from this alley way where the fishmongers are flinging fresh fish across the market and catching them with the style and grace of a Seattle Seahawks receiver. Check out this video of Miss Rodeo Washington 2015 catching a flying fish. (of course it helps that in her free time she likes to go fly fishing).

There is a Wikipedia page dedicated to the gum wall in Seattle explaining that this "attraction" started in approximately 1993. For nearly 20 years people have been visiting this little alley way on the south side of Pike Place Market and leaving a little souvenir and taking with them a silly memory.

The process of cleaning the wall is apparently essential because of the sugar in the gum that is eating away at the brick. It is not clear how long this process will take to restore the alleyway to it's pristine (yet still a little shady) state. 

But don't worry if you have missed this very gooey site. The city has assured fans that they will be allowed to begin leaving their masticated masses of confectionary blobs after the cleaning process is complete.

I have always enjoyed walking through this alley and looking at all the different colors of gum stuck on these beautiful old brick walls. With every wad of gum there is a story and a person that had walked through the alley before me. I wonder about their stories and their giggles as they placed their tribute to this urban artwork. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Veterans Day: Take Action! Don't just switch on a lightbulb

This week we celebrate Veteran's Day.

There are so many amazing men and women who have served our country to keep us safe and they deserve our respect and sincere displays of appreciation. They took Action when they were called and now it's our turn to show them our real, sincere appreciation.

Doing this can be done in very substantive ways that provide real assistance to our Vets.

I am saddened by the massive campaign going on this year by Wal-Mart that is just empty platitudes and in fact is actually detrimental to many vets. They have a massive campaign to change one light on your house. I strongly object to this campaign and called Wal-Mart directly with my objections to it. (not going in to my full objections here because that is not the point of this post. If anyone wants to discuss it with me directly just let me know. I'm happy to talk about it just not blog about it.). I have never felt more dismissed by anyone ever. My call was met with an OK by the person on the other end of the phone and that was it. No follow up email saying thank you for taking your time to call or anything(!!!) not even any explanation on the phone call about their policy on taking calls like mine. I might as well have been talking to the wall.

This year I am fully boycotting Wal-Mart for all purchases. I began with Halloween and drove by Wal-Mart to spend $100 on Halloween candy at the next available store.

I have been a loyal Wal-Mart shopper. I have even slept in a Wal-Mart parking lot! (Yes you can do that - Most, but not all, Wal-Marts welcome overnight parking of camper trailers and Semitrucks. You will often find a section of the parking lot where that is allowed).

In the past I have appreciated what Wal-Mart has done for our Vets but this new campaign of theirs is so all kinds of wrong.


Veterans do need our help and they do need to know that we care.

- Veterans like my Father-in-Law who proudly displays the helmet with a bullet hole in it that he wore in the Korean War.
- Veterans like my Father who served out his time in peace time and is too humble to accept any benefits because he doesn't think he deserves them.
- Veteran families like my friends who have gone through divorces because of the trauma brought about by what they have had to bring home with them. The scars are not always visible.
- And of course those Veterans whose scars are not only visible but deep.
- The Veterans who rely on a failing VA system.
- The Veterans who feel that suicide is the only way out.

A single light on our front porch doesn't do anything for these Vets - many of them won't even realize they are being honored by this terrible color choice.


  • Donate Directly

In every town across the US there is a VFW Hall or Veterans Memorial or some other Veterans group that would be happy to take the cost of one lightbulb and put it toward their very valuable programs that they provide to your local vets.

  • Veterans Memorials
If your town does have a Veterans Memorial take your family, some garden gloves, and some trash bags and help clean up the area. It doesn't have to be an organized city event although many cities do this very activity every Veterans Day to show they care.

  • Veterans Hospitals
Visit a Veterans Hospital and visit some of the Vets that are taking visitors. The Nurses there will be happy to tell you who needs visitors and which Vets need their privacy. Visiting a retirement home for Veterans is also a welcomed visit and does alot more for any Vet than a single lightbulb.

  • Help Your Local Vets
A group of people in my area got together and got a donation from a car dealership to be able to get a van and drive Veterans to their doctors appointments at the nearest, but very difficult to get to, VA. There are a number of ways we can help our local vets by helping with meals, appointments, or just rides to church or other events.

  • Charities
Give your money to a charity that actually does something for our Veterans. 

Not all charities are created equal and not all charities get the money to the people who really need it or to those who it is promised. If you want to check out if a charity is reputable check out Charity Navigator.

WOUNDED WARRIORS Follow them on Twitter @WWP

USO Follow them on Twitter @the_USO

DAV - Disabled American Veterans Follow them on Twitter @DAVHQ

WINGMAN PROJECT - Dedicated to Suicide Provention Follow them on Twitter @readyAirman

It's easy to donate your car to this organization. We did! I'd be happy to share my experience with anyone wanting to know more about this.

Follow the Military of the Purple Heart on Twitter @purpleheart1782

There are lots of other great charities that really provide wonderful, and direct, assistance to our Vets. 

If you just want to show your support without actually doing anything buy the Purple Heart stamps for your snail mail instead of changing a lightbulb on your front porch.


This Veterans day don't just buy in to a platitude that really doesn't do anything for our Vets. They stepped up to the line when they were needed. Now it's our turn. Take Action don't just switch on a lightbulb.

Please do not change the lightbulb on your front porch but instead find another way to let our Vets know we care. Please.

Placing an American Flag out on your front porch is a much better way to show our Vets you care.

For me, I will be boycotting Wal-Mart and honoring our Vets in ways that actually will help them.

How are you planning on celebrating Veterans Day. Tweet me @maryheston  on #VeteransDay with #ThankAVet