Thursday, April 24, 2014


     April is the month of the treasured annual Coronado Flower Show which has been held every year, with the exception of WW II, since 1922. It is the largest tented flower show in the nation, and it will be held April 26-27, 2014, at Spreckels Park in the center of Coronado ($5 admission fee). This year will be my first visit, and I am looking forward to the floral exhibits by our local talent. On-going live music from the central gazebo will make it even more enjoyable.
In conjunction with the flower show, the Coronado home front judging takes place 12 days before. The purpose of this contest is to inspire the community to beautify their gardens ahead of the flower show. From what I can see it works as intended and then some, because they are immaculately groomed year-round. Over 120 volunteers walk the entire city during the three day judging period evaluating every one of the 5,000 home fronts. Approximately 60-90 homes receive blue ribbons. From this group the final top awards are determined. It sounds complex; however, after 89 years of experience they seem to have the routine down.
The list of 2014 Home Front Winners has been published, and I'm on my way to take a look at some of the contestants and winners—perhaps a little too excited, because I managed to trip and fall along the way. I told my husband the good news: I was fine. He didn't appreciate the bad news: the camera broke. That means I'm in the market for another new camera, any suggestions? 
The flowers on Coronado are beautiful year round, but spring is the peak. Roses are at their blooming best and words are inadequate to describe them, which is why Gertrude Stein wrote “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” They have been on earth for about 40 million years and have been the subject of thousands of books. The French gardens of Monet and Renoir both contained beautiful rose collections and were the subjects of many of their famous paintings.

In addition to the roses, there are dozens of other flowers, shrubs and trees beautifying the home fronts. Among them are hibiscus, azalea, camellia, crimson bottlebrush and the Pride of Madeira. They surround the lovely homes, many of which date back to the early 1900s. Making all of this complete is the California gardeners' love of color—shades of red, pink, yellow, purple, blue, white, and orange are spread throughout.
One of my favorites is the Jacaranda tree. I must agree, however, with my childhood friend Jean, that nothing compares to the fragrance and beauty of Minnesota lilacs in the spring. For many years, after moving to California, Jean made an annual sojourn back to Minnesota in May just to see the lilacs in bloom.
It would be unfair to mention the beauty of the the flowers and trees in San Diego without giving some credit to Kate Sessions (1857-1940). She began her landscaping business in Coronado in the late 1880s. Famous for planting colorful gardens and landscapes for all to enjoy; she was one of the first to introduce bougainvillea and many other original and colorful plants and trees to the area. In 1892, she moved her nursery to Balboa Park, where she agreed to plant 100 trees a year and eventually became know as the “Mother of Balboa Park.” I love the pretty statue of her at the entrance of Balboa Park, it is usually adorned with fresh flowers in her memory. 
Her legacy of beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers continues in Coronado.


Monday, April 14, 2014



In previous years we have enjoyed our excursions up to Los Angeles for travel shows held at the downtown convention center. So when we heard about the 2014 San Diego Travel and Adventure Show, just a short drive away, we couldn't resist. We found it to be a pleasant change from the crowded and larger Los Angeles Travel Show. It offered over 100 exhibitors, four stages with speakers, entertainment and cooking demonstrations to choose from.

Listening to award winning travel authors, photographers and popular televisions hosts is my idea of a day well spent. We also perused the many exhibit booths which offer a great opportunity to visit with representatives from all over the world. There were contests to sign up for and lots of freebies like pens and candy. Ron could have won a contest for eating the most Jelly Bellys which were generously provided at the Fairfield, California, booth. Fairfield, located 36 miles from San Francisco, is the town where they are produced.

We spent most of the day concentrating on the speakers; here are the favorites:

--Jim Cline, Professional Photographer. JimCline Photo Tours

I very much enjoyed the dozens of professional photos that he presented on a large screen for viewing and his commentary on each one. Jim has the ability to bring scenes alive by including people and activities. He said, “A picture talks to me because of the people in the photo.” He shared personal stories as well as some valuable photography tips.

He has the patience to wait for the perfect lighting and action in order to get an awesome photograph. He said he likes to go slowly and often returns to the best locations. I could identify with this because I like to take my time and return to favorite places. He inspired me to try to improve my photo taking by concentrating on just one thing at a time—for me it will be adding people and other actions to make the scenery more interesting. After that I am going to figure out the F stop for depth of field—needless to say he uses it a lot.

--Samantha Brown, Host of Travel Channel's “The Trip 2014”

Samantha recently returned to the Travel Channel after a hiatus, which included giving birth to twins. She was as animated and exited about travel as ever. Her charm and sense of humor make for some great stories.

She tries to go for a walk when she arrives at a destination to get the experience of everyday life. She loves to visit strip malls in the US to find authentic food.

Some of her quotes: “It's never in the must see, its always in the mundane.” “Search for the comma, not the exclamation mark.” “Create a ritual; do one thing the same everyday.” “Don't spend all your time in the past; it's important to be relaxed and in the moment.”

To find out more about what she is up to visit her new website.

--Patricia Schultz, author of 10,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Patricia has the uncanny ability to make every place she talks about sound like you need to visit. One of the many spots she chose was Slovenia—Ron and I both agreed it would be a good place to go. It is a small country, about the size of New Jersey, with a population of only two million. It has the Alps, castles, lakes, parks, and the beautiful old and centrally located capital city of Ljubljana which is 160 miles east of Venice. I'd better get planning while he is still interested.

I have never considered visiting Ethiopia, however, Patricia described it as one of the most fascinating countries she has ever been to. It lies on the Horn of Africa. Another place she has visited multiple times and loves is Petra, Jordan. She typically doesn't make return visits—because there is still so much new to see.

--Don Wildman, Host of Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum

There are over 17,000 museums in the US, all with stories to tell. He visits them with the intention of learning the stories behind the artifacts he sees, never forgetting the resourcefulness of the museum staffs. He has found that they love to share information and will give you more time if you call ahead to make arrangements. Stories related to the mysteries surrounding artifacts that he has discovered in his travels are the theme of his popular travel show.

His thoughts on this subject reminded me of how I remember the stories behind the places I visit long after I have forgotten the facts. I still love the story our tour guide told about the small country church in Normandy that was converted into a hospital during WWII. We could still see blood stains on some of the benches. The physician, who ran the hospital, returned many years later to find it. From then on he returned for an annual event that the parishioners held in his honor.

I also enjoyed a story from our recent trip to Beijing about the “Seventy-Year-Old-Door” at the Temple of Heaven. The door was built back in the 1700s for an emperor who felt his health was failing him. The door would shorten his walk to the ceremony. He was afraid that too many people would use it, so he made a rule that you had to be 70 or older to enter through the door. Unfortunately, he was the only one to ever use the door, because in all of the successive dynasties no emperor ever again reached the age of 70.

After listening to all of these speakers it would be difficult to leave without a yearning to get “back on the road.” Samantha Brown said “There are only a few things that mark a fresh start in life, and travel is one of them.”


We left about four p.m. to head over to the Spaghetti Factory in the nearby Gaslamp area. This is our new favorite restaurant—great atmosphere, well priced meal and delicious food. I don't know of another place in San Diego where you can get a senior meal for under $10 , including salad, entrĂ©e, dessert and beverage. Add to that fond memories from a first visit to the San Diego Spaghetti Factory with my parents and our two young children back in the 1980s. I just wish I could find the old photo of our standing in front. I know it exists in one of the boxes stashed in my closet.