Tag Archives: Travels Far and Wide

Is Bend Beer Really Better?

Is BBB? Photo by mjb2014
Is BBB? Photo by mjb2014

Recently missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB did some retirement reconnaissance in beautiful Bend, Oregon. Each of them had (separately) heard some wonderful waxing eloquents (new word!) from friends who were also considering Bend as the place to be. So the junebugs decided to check it out for themselves.

Their base of operations was awesome: The Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend. missjunebug cannot say enough about how great this boutique hotel is! Fab view, comfy bedding,  luxurious bath, superb location, fine food at 10Below, and super nice staff. And did missjunebug mention the in-room eco friendly French Press coffee? Delightful way to start a day dedicated to hitting the Bend Ale Trail.

Which brings missjunebug to the burning question: Is Bend Beer Better as the bumper sticker purports? Hell to the yes, it is better! Even though missjunebug is a Stella girl, it was fun to try all those mini glasses of Bend beer taking flight at Deschutes Brewery, McMenamins Old St. Francis, Three Creeks Brewery (Sisters) RatHole Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project, Brew Works, and the Bend Brewing Company. Even more fun was keeping track of the flavors on the Bend Ale Trail Passport mjb and her trusty Mr.JB picked up at the awesome visitor center in downtown (just follow the bright blue and white INFO signs to get there).

This happy little brew-filled vacay has given missjunebug and Mr.JB a lot to think about as they plan their future retirement. Believe missjunebug when she says, Bend is a contender!

mjbTip: Fly into Redmond Municipal airport to get to Bend and avoid the North Bend airport mistake many first time travelers make. Unless you want to drive four and half hours from coastal North Bend to get to the intended Bend! And yes, missjunebug and Mr.JB took the long way through piney woods, along rivers, and across the Cascades. missjunebug’s bad!!! After a good laugh, they made the best of it! According to the Hertz rental car lady, this mistake happens all the time. And sometimes people are not quite so happy about it!

Getting the Passport Stamped is Half the Fun! Photo by mjb2014
Getting the Passport Stamped is Half the Fun! Photo by mjb2014
Riverbend Brewing Company Offerings! Photo by mjb2014
Riverbend Brewing Company Offerings! Photo by mjb2014
Nice quilt, Three Creeks! Photo by mjb2014
Nice quilt, Three Creeks! Photo by mjb2014
Tastes better than the name implies! Photo by mjb2014
Tastes better than the name implies! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug’s Latest Love: Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie has it going on. Photo by mjb2014
Bottega Louie has it going on. Photo by mjb2014

“Je t’aime, je t’aime toujours, Monsieur B. Louie!” says missjunebug.

All her ladies-who-lunch dreams came true recently at 700 South Grand Avenue where Bottega Louie holds court over downtown Los Angeles. The physical space is large and white; the atmosphere,  lively and inviting. For just a brief moment, missjunebug thought she had been transported to Paris, especially when she got a good look at the patisserie. Row after row of exquisitely decorated desserts and pastries, creamy, fruity, flaky, fabulous!

Just take a look:

A patisserie in Los Angeles worthy of Paris! Photo by mjb2014
A patisserie in Los Angeles worthy of Paris! Photo by mjb2014

Of course, Bottega Louie presents more than pastry. The café has salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches.  missjunebug delighted in the Caprese salad (tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, fleur de sel, cracked pepper & extra virgin olive oil) and the Asparagus and Poached Egg small plate. Believe missjunebug when she says the flavors were not small, nor the portions! missjunebug’s lovely companion (who introduced her to Bottega Louie on their recent field trip) enjoyed the savory Club sandwich. 

Happily, mjb and her dear friend saved room for dessert from the très jolie patisserie! Imagine whipped cream, flaky pastry, vanilla, caramel, and more! Fruit tarts! Eclairs! Beignets! Macarons!  Here’s what they enjoyed:

Oh. my. yes. De. Licious. Photo by mjb2014
Oh. my. yes. De. Licious. Photo by mjb2014

Note the prayerfully folded hands of mjb’s dear friend! Yes! They were thankful to God in heaven for these heavenly desserts!

Brave the 101 and the 110 and get yourself downtown. missjunebug promises you will be transported to another world in of all places downtown L.A. Things are looking up in the City of Angels!

mjbTip: check out Bottega Louie’s welcoming website for further details: www.bottegalouie.com

Anticipating Travel Yields Happiness

A male polar bear
A male polar bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug recently read about a study headed by Jeroen Nawijn, tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands that made a lot of sense to her. Returning from a relaxing vacation is no guarantee of a lasting happiness boost.

According to his research group in the Netherlands that took a look at the vacationing Dutch, after a return to typical life as they knew it, happiness leveled off in a couple of weeks.

While that’s not particularly good news, there was a bright side to this study: Happiness grew in anticipating and planning the trip. For up to eight weeks!

missjunebug and her Trusty Mr.JB agree that there’s nothing quite like having a trip to look forward to! Online research! Fares to compare! What to do, see, eat, wear when you get there! And thanks to the internet–maybe the best invention of the 20th century for knowledge access–trip planning is an art form all its own that can be as minutely nuanced or broad-stroked as you like.

Currently, missjunebug is tracking down books on polar bears, Churchill, Manitoba, and the Aurora Borealis for a fall trip to the Arctic hinterlands of Canada. The most interesting thing she’s found out so far is that troublesome polar bears who are under the mistaken impression that they are townies are put in Polar Bear Jail to break that bad habit! Confined for a time with only water, then moved back out to wilderness in a tranquilized state disabuses them of the notion that a roam through town is a fine idea.  All she’s found out so far about the AB is that it’s green. More research needed! Believe missjunebug when she says that reading about these Arctic features may be a lot more fun than freezing while she actually views them.

Which brings missjunebug back to the initial premise: Anticipating and planning travel is a no-fail path to happiness for a good amount of time. How to improve on that? Plan a couple of trips a year for twice the anticipatory fun.  Or think about multiple long-weekend trips that you can experience throughout the year! Once-a-month Fun x 12! Did missjunebug hear someone say, “Road Trip!”? Yes, another fun vacay to plan, anticipate, and then hit the road knowing it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Happiness maybe be elusive and vacations may be tricky , but missjunebug still likes the reward of looking forward to travel while enjoying the present moment planning !

Fogo Island? One Fine Cape Verde Locale

Wow! missjunebug has been away from her post for a while! Cruising! Chemo infusions! Recovering from chemo infusions! But now her bags are unpacked, her laundry is done, and her energy has returned in time for her to share a highlight from one last trip she and Mr.JB took to wrap up 2013: a transatlantic crossing from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Western Sahara with a day on Fogo Island and a whole lot of days at sea. What did they see? Not the total solar eclipse they hoped to see (deep sigh). The clouds gathered around their Barbados-bound vessel the Sea Dream One made sure of that.

Can you spot the tiny total solar eclipse? missjunebug can't either! Photo by mjb2013
See the tiny total solar eclipse? missjunebug can’t either! Photo by mjb2013

But the day on Fogo Island did not disappoint!

First things first: the people of Fogo make all their own wine which they consume themselves! What a smart local population! No exporting required here! Of course, tourists are encouraged to enjoy a wine tasting and take a bottle back to their ship which Mr.JB thought was a fine idea! The locals probably really need that wine to cope with the fact that they live on an island that is an active volcano too, last erupting in 1995. No wonder the Portuguese named this island Fogo or Fire Island!

The volcano takes the form of a 9-km wide caldera which has walls 1 km high. That is one deep “cooking pot”! But the coolest part is the large peak that rises in the center forming the highest point of the island, 100 meters higher than the caldera’s walls. missjunebug’s reaction? Stunning! And believe her when she says she’s seen some volcanos, but none as beautiful as this one! Take a look:

Volcano Beauty!
Volcano Beauty! Photo by mjb2013

The solidified ropey lava that  surrounds the outlying areas of the volcano is a a thing of beauty in itself but tricky to walk on. missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB did their shoe shot to highlight its tricky texture:

Lava flows: Crunchy Underfoot! Photo by mjb2013
Lava flows: Crunchy Underfoot! Photo by mjb2013
At the base of the cone, more beauty. Photo by mjb2013
At the base of the cone, more beauty. Photo by mjb2013

With all this volcanic activity, the island’s soil can support some serious plant growth. missjunebug delighted in the poinsettia plants that grow with abandon! Their beauty provides missjunebug with the perfect transition to her next blog post, yes, you guessed it: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Maybe. Maybe not.

Pretty in Pink Poinsettias
Pretty in Pink Poinsettias. Photo by mjb2013

 

Worth a close-up! Photo by mjb2013
Worth a close-up! Photo by mjb2013
mjbTip: Need an exotic travel destination? Consider Fogo Island for some fiery fun!
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Some Nature! Some Science! Some Museum!: Perot Museum of Nature and Science

What an ingenious architectural achievement this building is! Photo by mjb2013
What an ingenious architectural achievement this building is! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has been doing some fun traveling lately, yall! She headed to Big D little a double l a s and that spells D-A-L-L-A-S, her darlin’ darlin’ Dallas! What a fine city! What a gorgeous downtown! And what a cool new museum now resides there, conveniently located right next to missjunebug’s fave traditional Tex-Mex restaurant El Fenix! What more could a little bug ask for?

A big Texas-sized thanks goes to her awesome JBBro for thinking up this fab field trip! missjunebug’s little bug brain almost exploded from all the knowledge contained in the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and its 11 permanent Exhibit Halls, five of which missjunebug fell in love with. She took a tour through the Expanding Universe Hall which was big enough to hold a 3D animated journey all the way through the solar system. So cool. Lots of deep space Hubble Telescope pics to scope out and plenty of info about the major players in the space biz: Galileo, Newton, Hershel, and Hubble to name a few.

Back here on Earth in the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, missjunebug was terrified by tornado and hurricane videos and stood in awe of the Touch Tornado exhibit that simulates the airflows that create tornados. But perhaps the one exhibit that hit a little too close to home was the Earthquake Shake “immersive experience.” Can you say Magnitude 6.8?? Press the off button, please!

A kinder, gentler, sparklier Exhibit Hall was the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall. The colors, size, sparkle, and crystal formations of these earthly jewels was simply staggering. missjunebug fantasized briefly about the beaucoup bling that could be made out of each these gems and minerals! She did get to open up a five- foot geode with a turn wheel that revealed more amethyst within than she’d ever seen in her little bug life. Purple, sparkly awesomeness! If you enjoy jewelry or shiny things, spend some time in the Gems and Minerals Hall.

missjunebug’s final faves were The Rose Hall of Birds and the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall. You can’t go wrong with cool birds and some amazing fossils. missjunebug got to stretch her little bug wings and fly in the full-body fly-like-a-bird simulator. Life Then and Now is larger than life with dinosaur skeletons and replicas that rule!  Be sure to check out such fossil finds as the fierce predator Tyrannosaurus rex or the peaceful, plant-eating Alamosaurus. There’s even a mini-exhibit of the kind of colorful little plastic dinosaurs missjunebug used to play with when she was a baby bug!

Many more hands-on Exhibit Halls will captivate and educate. missjunebug recommends you see all the halls!!! Bring the grandkids and the kid in you! You’ll have a ball! Find the museum at 2201 N. Field Street Dallas, TX 75201-1704

For general information and questions email info@perotmuseum.org or call:214.428.5555

On your way out of the museum, don’t forget to stop by the super cool Museum Store. missjunebug found the best gift ever for TinyJB, but he will have to wait until Christmas to see it!

Radical Angles Enclose! Photo by mjb2013
Radical Angles Enclose! Photo by mjb2013

 

After perusing the Perot, play around with the green ones! Leap Frog has never been so literal! Photo by mjb2013
After perusing the Perot, play around with the green ones! Leap Frog has never been so literal! Photo by mjb2013

 

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missjunebug Recommends…

Bread perfected: The croissant! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has been busy lately traveling, returning home, regrouping, doing laundry, catching up with bill paying, etc., etc., the usual maintenance post travel, but she’s also been thinking about some recommendations she’d like to share with you.

So here goes:

Download (and pay for!) Justin Timberlake‘s new album 20/20. It is the best music to walk to missjunebug has come across in a long time (and dance to, too!). The songs are stellar and many great ones await you beyond “Suit and Tie.” which you’ve probably already heard about 100 times by now. (missjunebug still loves “S&T” no matter how many times she’s heard it.) And truth be told she has a big crush on J.T. She hearts him BIGTIME. Lucky Jessica Biel. Seriously.

Check out anything written by Tim Ferriss. This guy has got it going on with his Four Hour protocols. Currently missjunebug and members of her dear fam are reading The Four-Hour Chef, The Four-Hour Body, and plan to read The Four-Hour Work Week. missjunebug really doesn’t need The Four-Hour Work Week, since her work week is even less than that! Ha! Seriously, these books are so smart, so entertaining, and so helpful you will not be disappointed!. T.F. is a phenom.

Read anything written by Julian Barnes. Right now. Really. Go get one of his books. He is one smart Brit. missjunebug recommends The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life. Okay, missjunebug has actually only read The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life, but she plans to read all of his books a.s.a.p. because she’s sure the others are equally great!

Eat some croissants. They are so yummy: crunchy, buttery, layers of delicious bready air! How did the French ever come up with these? Beyond brilliant. missjunebug recommends that you eat these in Paris for the best croissant experience ever! And after you eat some croissants, make yourself some crepes. They are super easy to make using Krusteaz pancake mix and a great crepe pan. missjunebug recommends a made-in-France de Buyer which makes crepe making super fun. Of course, you can make crepe batter from scratch, but the Krusteaz is easy peasy and delicious. Just make sure if you are following the The Four-Hour Body  eating plan (which you will be after reading Tim Ferriss’s book) that you save these for your 7th day where you can eat whatever you want! Vive la France and vive Tim Ferriss!

Speaking of Paris, missjunebug recommends checking out travelingprofessor.com for excellent travel trips and guided tours in France, Italy, and South America. They are reasonably priced, informative, not too touristy, and fun, fun, fun. missjunebug and her Mr.JB just returned from a week in Paris and a few days in Normandy. It really pays to get to know a city by spending time in it as opposed to a quick cruise-port-of-call fly by in a tourist bus. missjunebug has done both and she’s likes the get-to-know-where-you-are-for-awhile walkabout much better!

Whew! That’s about it for recs for now!

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Paging Arizona! missjunebug’s Annular Eclipse Adventure in Page, AZ

mjb's fave pic taken at Meteor Crater! Photo by mjb2012

So missjunebug’s Mr.JB has been busy planning more eclipse adventures! This time he traced the route from LAX through Phoenix by way of Flagstaff, then onto Page, Arizona and the Lake Powell Resort in a four-wheel drive Jeep! The four-wheel drive came in really handy when Mr.JB staked out centerline viewing real estate atop a semi-remote bluff! By the time the eclipse rolled around, lots of eclipse chasers had joined the junebugs at their prime viewing location. The conditions could not have been better! And the Ring of Fire eclipse was deLIGHTful!!!

missjunebug won’t go into details about getting off that semi-remote bluff. Suffice it to say there were many unmarked paths and the junebugs did their share of choosing the wrong ones to get the heck out of there before darkness descended! Whew! Believe missjunebug when she says she felt some serious relief when they finally found the main road!!

missjunebug also won’t go into the accommodations at the Lake Powell Resort where she requested and paid for in advance a Room with a (Lake)View. Suffice it to say what the junebugs got was a gorgeous asphalt-filled parking lot view! Lucky them! When Mr.JB went back to the front desk to show the receptionist their ressie, he was assured the entire resort was booked with a capital B and they were S.O.L. To their credit the management of the L.P.R. provided vouchers for two dinners and two breakfast buffets which did a lot to assuage a painful situation. And guess what? The food was great!!! And it went a long way toward make that parking lot view look a whole lot better!!

Here are some pics that tell the tale of missjunebug’s Paging Arizona Adventure:

First Stop: Meteor Crater!!! Photo by mjb2012
Wow! 20 football fields could fit down there! Photo by mjb2012
Navajo Nation Roadside Retailers! Photo by mjb2012
Eponymous Horseshoe Bend! Photo by mjb2012
The Grand Canyon earns its name! Photo by mjb2012
Lake Powell Resort's Rainbow Room: Great Place to Eat and View the Beauty! Photo by mjb2012
missjunebug's Annular Eclipse Point and Shoot Shot Rocks!!! Photo by mjb2012
Cruise America Rvs: Great at Impeding the junebugs' Progress!! Photo by mjb2012

missjunebug’s Tip#1: Get out there and Cruise America! Just don’t do it in a Cruise America RV!!! Try a Jeep instead!!

missjunebug’s Tip#2: Get a Senior Pass at the National Park of your choice for 10 tiny bucks and you can get into any National Park for free forever! How to qualify? Be Mr.JB’s hair color and age: silver and 62!!! The junebugs used his card on the way back to Flagstaff, stopping in at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon using that pretty little card for no dollars!!! Now that’s a fine bene for being a senior.

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Two Website Finds…Divine!

English: Red Pinterest logo
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug has been having some fun on the internet! She’s been busy creating her own personal bulletin boards that reflect her tastes, aspirations, desires, and interests. Yes, you guessed it: Pinterest! This is almost as much fun as shopping on the internet, but there’s no credit card required!!

missjunebug’s boards include My Style which reflects fashion preferences, a couple on food (healthy recs “Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much” and a semi-healthy mega-delicious one entitled “Splurges, Indulgences, and Extravagances” with delicious pics of all those craved only-every-once–in-a-while treats missjunebug can’t live without. What else? Home Decor featuring wished for things for the Hacienda. Tangible Philosophies, a thought-provoking collection of smart things people have mused about and displayed in the most interesting of ways.

missjunebug is sure you get the idea behind Pinterest. Pin pics to  your heart’s content, explore the interests of others, and get altogether inspired by the great ideas out there being pinned and repinned. Cool x 10. Thanks to missjunebug’s friend Rox and her friend for recommending this website. Oh, and speaking of friends one of the coolest parts of Pinterest is following your friend’s interests! Double good fun fo sho.

Now just imagine a website pinning up Design Finds from all over the world that are for sale from $1 to $10,000 or more. Credit card required! If you get a little weary of living in the potential world of fun finds from pinning on Pinterest, move over to Fab.com to do some serious shopping in many interesting marketplaces including ones for fashionistas to foodies and everything in between. missjunebug just made her first purchase of a cool waterproof winter jacket for upcoming travel to the Stans! Yeah, those Stans: Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan! She will be warm and dry no matter the weather there! If you’re a fan of the bargain find on Amazon.com you’ll love the hunt for design finds on Fab.com.

missjunebug wishes you Happy Pinning on Pinterest and Divine Design Find Shopping on Fab.com!

 

 

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missjunebug Reflects on the Big 6-0

Most Beautiful Flowers Ever! Thanks, Margaret!!!! Photo by mjb2011

What was the first thing missjunebug did on her BIG 6-0 B-Day? Checked her Facebook page, natch. As much as she complains about the invasive nature of media, technology, i-this, and i-that devices (of which she owns all the them–thanks to Secular Prophet S.J. (may you R.I.P.), she couldn’t wait to see who offered up to her Birthday Greetings from around the country. She loved reading every last one of them! From elementary school friends she hasn’t seen in decades to church friends to close friends, to dear family flung far and wide, it was a thoroughly delightful way to start her 6-0 B-day. Whatever did she do before Facebook? Thanks, Zuck Dawg for this amazing, invasive, confounding, delightful tool of communication without which missjunebug’s life would be socially impoverished fo sho. And thanks to all my fbfriends for fond birthday greetings. And, hey, missjunebug even got some email greetings, text-mail, phone calls, and cards IN THE MAIL!!! with sweet wishes, too. Special thanks to those who took the time to write in cursive (dying art!) their greetings. Life is good. Life is good, indeed.

As for sixty? It sucks.

missjunebug kids.

As one of her dear fb/church friends said: “This year 6 wins, 0 losses.” missjunebug loves this idea so much so that she’s figured out what those future wins should be:

missjunebugWin#1: Continued Good Health with the C-word a distant memory.

missjunebugWin#2: Living in the Now, just like Eckhart said. No past. No future. Now. Now. Now.

missjunebugWin#3: Loving neighbor/other as self, just like J.C. said. He is missjunebug’s homeboy.

missjunebug’s Win#4: Cherish family and friends forever, just like Facebook says: Stay connected, but missjunebug suggests,”Do it in person!”

missjunebug’s Win#5: Cash in those airline miles and resort points and travel often and open-minded. missjunebug’s dear Mr.JB and she head for Central Asia and Australia in 2012. STANS, here they come for the Transit of Venus! And Aussies, fire up the barbie and the Total Solar Eclipse! Fun times to come in the big 6-0!

missjunebug’s Win #6: Continue to write her little bug heart out on missjunebug.com for fun, for learning, for legacy! She hopes you’ll continue to check in with her from time to time!

 

 

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Davis-Schrimpf Seep Field Stuns!

A moonscape? Planet X? No! It's the Schrimpf-Davis Seep Field near the Salton Sea. Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug has a secret obsession with the Salton Sea. And that was even before she saw the Val Kilmer film of the same name! She toured this salty, below sea-level inland sea with Mr.JB, ElderJB, and TinyJB many years ago and recently returned to do a solo drive around its entirety. She’ll save that experience for another post another day.

What she did find about half way around was really stunning: the Davis-Schrimpf Seep Field.

The Davis-Schrimpf seep field is located off Highway 111 near Calipatria, California off Davis Road, a glorified dirt road that cuts through local farm fields. As with all things Salton Sea, the Davis-Schrimpf seep field is well below sea level and super surreal. What missjunebug found was lots of mudpots bubbling up carbon dioxide gas from deep down below the surface of the earth. On the surface what you’ll see if you visit this cool seep is nifty nodules rising up. These gryphons as they’re called by geo students in the know are variously textured with mudflows and salty remains of the magma cook-off going on about a kilometer below. The smell reminds missjunebug of her family’s experience in Lassen National Volcanic Park many years ago. But the bubbling at Davis-Schrimpf isn’t hot like Bumpass Hell, just gurgly and blurpy, salty and muddy. And very, very cool if you enjoy all things geologic.

Walk carefully around the gryphons and watch your step. There are lots of pockets that are soft and several deep gurgling pits that are not feet friendly. Treat the area with respect and take plenty of pics. This is a rare geologic treat!

Next time you are within striking distance of the Salton Sea, set your GPS for the Davis Schrimpf seep field and prepare to be amazed. And if you don’t plan a road trip anytime soon, at least check out the Kilmer film Salton Sea. It’s equally surreal!

 

Otherworldly Seep Field! Photo by mjb2011

 

A Salty Jigsaw Puzzle! Photo by mjb2011
Mud Flow Gray and Gooey! Photo by mjb2011

 

A Last Look at the Seep Field. Photo by mjb2011

 

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The Palm Springs Art Museum Surprises!

missjunebug hearts the Palm Springs Art Museum! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug was prepared to be underwhelmed when she decided to finally visit the Palm Springs Art Museum. She’s been traveling to Palm Springs for many years and just never got around to checking out the local art museum, thinking it was probably too small to be interesting. But contrary to popular belief, size isn’t everything! Despite its compact three and half stories–yes, there is a half story!–the Palm Springs Art Museum packs a big punch!

When missjunebug visited a few weeks ago, she found the masters–Van Gogh and Picasso and Rothko to name a few in the Simply Masterful: Picasso and Artists of the Modern Era. But all good things must come to an end and that exhibition has closed. missjunebug apologizes for the head fake, but she mentions this exhibition to show the range of art exhibited at PSAM. Along with a few choice masters, she saw some amazing glasswork, fine Western and Indian art, and some rad geometric abstractions of the 60s and 70s. What fun! What a playful range of art work!

missjunebug encourages you to consider stopping by the Palm Springs Art Museum for an accessible art experience that inspires! The PSAM is located in downtown Palm Springs on Museum Drive at Tahquitz Canyon Way, just west of N. Palm Canyon Drive at 101 Museum Drive Palm Springs, CA 92262-5659. They’re closed on Mondays, but you can plan a visit Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost? A nominal $12.50 for adults, even less for seniors, and free for kids under 12.

The good news is that admission is FREE every Thursday from 4pm-8pm during the Palm Springs downtown Villagefest and there’s FREE admission the second Sunday of every month, too! How accommodating! So there’s simply no excuse not to tap into your inner art appreciator! Everyone has one! If you’re not convinced yet, take a look at missjunebug’s PSAM pics!

Lino Tagliapietra's "Stromboli." Photo by mjb2011

 

Ghostly glassy dress sculpture by Karen LaMonte captivates! Photo by mjb2011
"American Still Life" by James Urmstron is haunting and surreal. Photo by mjb2011
missjunebug has had days like this! "Apart X" by Antony Gormley. Photo by mjb2011
Beaded Bowls shine! Photo by mjb2011
Piero Dorazio's "Colorando" Plays with Color! Photo by mjb2011
Elegant arrangements of Abstract Geometrics Intrigue! Photo by mjb2011


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Some Like It Hot

The African Savanna? Nope. The Living Desert in Palm Desert!

missjunebug and her MrJB struck a deal recently: when he travels on business, she travels on pleasure. mjb suspects she has the better end of the agreement and she hopes Mr.JB doesn’t figure this out anytime soon. So when Mr.JB headed off to the exotic heat of Shanghai to wheel and deal, missjunebug headed to a more prosaic and decidedly closer heat (105°-119°) in the low desert of the twin palms: Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

missjunebug considers these two gorgeous desert cities her personal playground having traveled to them many times over the past few years. But this time she decided to play tourist.

Her digs? The fab Club Intrawest at the corner of Cook and Country Club in Palm Desert located contiguously to the meticulously groomed Desert Willow Golf Course.

A Room With a View at Club Intrawest! Photo by mjb2011

Her first stop? The Living Desert and Botanical Garden in Palm Desert at 47900 Portola Ave (760) 346-5694. missjunebug really likes their motto: Desert Conservation Through Preservation, Education, and Appreciation.

missjunebug has lots and lots of appreciation for The Living Desert. Check out her pictures and then take note of the summer hours. Admission is super reasonable–less than 3 lattes–and there are so many interesting flora and fauna to see. When you are in striking distance of L.A. you are within range of the Living Desert so don’t miss it!

Summer Hours:

Open every day June 1 to September 30

8:00am to 1:30pm

Last admission at 1:00pm

The Lush Entrance! Photo by mjb2011
The African Savanna? Nope. The Living Desert in Palm Desert!
Zebra Chillin" under the Brella! Photo by mjb2011
Nifty Fennec Fox! Photo by mjb2011
Can you find the Fennec? Clue: Look for the Big Ears! Photo by mjb2011

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Good to Get Away…Good to Get Back

missjunebug knows what you are thinking: Enough with the Case Against Packing Light blog post. It’s been up forever! What a slacker that missjunebug is!

True dat.

missjunebug has been on Mediterranean time for the last few weeks and then she was jetlagged into going to sleep by 7pm for a few nights (and waking up at 3am!) after she returned. Now everything is all better and she is waking and sleeping at the appropriate times. Sooooo time for a new post!

missjunebug learned many, many things in her recent peripatetic wanderings in the Med. Here are few of her gems of wisdom:

1. Trip planning really pays off. missjunebug put a lot of effort in selecting flights, a cruise line, a particular cruise itinerary, excursions, hotels on the front and back end of the trip, drivers from port to hotel and hotel to airport, and yes, clothing choices! And believe her when she says all the hard work paid off! She even exchanged dollars for euros in advance which really came in handy when she and Mr.JB arrived in Rome. Her advice: Do your advance planning meticulously and you will be rewarded with smooth sailing.

Her favs:

British Airways Business Class (747-upper deck!!!) missjunebug ♥ her flatbed sleeping pod and endless movie choices and sparkling champagne!

Regent Seven Seas Hellenic Treasures Cruise where each shore excursion topped the previous one and the Horizon Suite view was even better than imagined!

Albergo del Senato Hotel in Rome (right next to the Pantheon…literally!)

RomeinLimo drivers-knowledgeable! friendly! semi-English speaking!

Royal Olympic Hotel in Athens where the garden terrace restaurant really did have a view of the Acropolis

Foreign Currency Express in Los Angeles on Figueroa at the World Trade Center which has the BEST exchange rate of all the local money changers.

2. The anticipation of and planning for the Big Vacay is as satisfying as the trip itself which, it turns out, is a lot of work! All that walking! All that eating! All that excursioning! All that meeting and greeting cruisemates! missjunebug is exhausted just thinking about it again! The planning is always done in the comfort of your own home, often in your p.j.s while the actual touring takes place in warm weather and uncomfortable shoes and no matter how comfortable you think those shoes are, after 4-5 hours of walking, they are less so. fo sho. So missjunebug’s words to the wise: enjoy the anticipation with as much present-moment awareness as you can. mjb guarantees it will contribute to your overall trip satisfaction.

3. No matter how well you plan your trip, scheisse happens!

Ex. 1: missjunebug’s hopes to see Positano and the Amalfi Coast were disappointed by high waves that tender boats could not safely navigate so it was off to Naples instead. missjunebug and Mr.JB made the best of the unexpected situation by seeking out the restaurant that originated–really! the Margherita pizza! Yum! Thanks, Pizzeria Brandi!

Ex. 2: And once again a cruise eclipse was crowded out by clouds. ElderJB got a better photograph in Rwanda than Mr. JB did on his Horizon Suite balcony in the middle of the Med.

Ex. 3: Thanks to the Athens Austerity Strike, the port of Piraeus was closed to cruise ships so they rerouted to Santorini to join missjunebug’s ship and several others! Over 10,000 visitors sardined their way through the narrow passageways of Santorini the day missjunebug and her Mr.JB were touring! Hmmm. Not exactly the idyllic refuge pictured in Mamma Mia and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films. missjunebug repeats: Scheisse happens! Be prepared to do some shoveling!

4. There is nothing like travel to open your heart, mind, and spirit to the amazing people, places, and things on the planet. So missjunebug says (like the commercial), Just get out there!!

5. And there is nothing like the coming home part, back to the delightful little routines of daily life. That’s about as sweet as it gets. missjunebug doesn’t need to remind you what Dorothy said. She knows that you know!

Here are a few random pictures from the well over 2,000 that missjunebug took. More musings and pictures to follow!

The real deal at Pizzeria Brandi! Photo by mjb2011
The real deal at Pizzeria Brandi! Photo by mjb2011
Oh. my. yes. missjunebug's mussels were delicioso! Photo by mjb2011
Oh. my. yes. missjunebug's mussels were delicioso! Photo by mjb2011
Mr.JB livin the dream in Sicily! Photo by mjb2011
Mr.JB livin the dream in Sicily! Photo by mjb2011
A little boat afloat in the bay of Malta. Photo by mjb2011
A little boat afloat in the bay of Malta. Photo by mjb2011
What a sense of humor those Maltese have! Photo by mjb2011
What a sense of humor those Maltese have! Photo by mjb2011
A Hilltop with a View in Santorini. Photo by mjb2011
A Hilltop with a View in Santorini. Photo by mjb2011
The classic Santorini shot. Photo by mjb2011
The classic Santorini shot. Photo by mjb2011
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The Case Against Packing Light

Suitcase
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug and her Mr.JB are heading out for a cruise adventure soon on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner. Destination: Mediterranean! She’s been busy as a bee (mixed simile since she’s a junebug!) selecting her wardrobe and thinking about the different philosophies out there regarding packing for trips.

One of her acquaintances explained how she packed for a recent trip two-week trip to Paris: twenty-two inches of carry-on only. What was her secret? Only two pairs of shoes-walking and dress, a few neutral pants and tops, one dress, and lots and lots of scarves to make each outfit look fresh and new.

Hmmm. In Paris with only two pairs of shoes? That is strictly against missjunebug’s fashionista principles. Part of the fun of the trip is the planning, anticipation, and pairing of shoes and accessories with outfits missjunebug feels good in! What’s the point of strolling down the Champs Elysees if you feel like a schlumpadink in infinitely recycled pants and tops and a few sad scarves! missjunebug appreciates the lightness of being a 22″ case affords the traveler, but give her the almost infinite capacity of her rolling duffle and Tumi wardrobe bag any day!

Another of her acquaintances created a brilliant system using Ziploc bags. One outfit per day including the underwear, bagged, zipped, ready to go. On her way to her morning shower, she grabs a Ziploc and voila! She is set! Fortunately for her, she’s svelte and her size 0-1 clothing is tiny to begin with so it easily fits into a Ziploc bag. missjunebug would need a trash size bag for her size 8/10’s! While she admires this packing system, her acquaintance occasionally finds she has underpacked since she only allows herself one Ziploc bag per day per trip. If something unusual comes up, she’s short clothes! This is tragic to missjunebug because her packing system relies on one very important one-word principle:

CHOICE!

Yes, missjunebug takes plenty of shoes, scarves, jewelry, shirts, pants, dresses, swimsuits, wraps, work-out togs, jackets, and p.j.s to pick and choose from! Why? Two reasons: She’s got a generous weight limit (50 lbs. per two bag limit)–why not use it? and she’s a bug of many moods–what she might feel like wearing one day will simply not necessarily work for another day. That’s a fact of human psychology and believe her when she says fashion and dress are filled with psychological pay-offs and pitfalls. Just watch one episode of Gossip Girl if you don’t believe her!

Soooo, missjunebug will be filling her bags to the brim and enjoying the infinite combinations her packing plan affords!

Bon Voyage!

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missjunebug Tries the Slow Love Diet

A pack of cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is nu...
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug has the good fortune to be cruising soon on a fine ship in a finer place: The Regent Seven Seas Mariner in the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Thanks, Mr.JB!

missjunebug and her Mr.JB have a hat trick of things to celebrate: 30th anniversary a few months back, turning 60 a few months from now, and a year out from cancer treatment with fingers tightly crossed! Woo double hoo!

In a preemptive strike against the inevitable onboard calorie-o-rama with fab food and bev available 24-hours a day, missjunebug and her Mr.JB have adopted and adapted a new eating plan based on the now famous Dr. Pat’s V-8 Juice diet outlined in Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas & Found Happiness by Dominique Browning. Chapter 16 alone entitled “The Diet” is worth the price of the book because this simple and super restrictive eating plan works! In a nutshell: a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, a little V-8 juice for snack, a couple of hours later, a little container of fat-free cottage cheese, a little apple, a little cinnamon; a few hours after that, a little tuna or a little chicken, some greens and lots of water! By now it’s about 3:30 or so, so pull the tab on another little can of V-8! In a couple of hours, repeat the cottage cheese course, then it’s dinnertime with 4 oz. of protein, a cup of green veggies (broccoli, zuchs, summer squash, greenie beanies, or cucs.) Before bedtime, pop a little turkey and drink a little water! If you find yourself semi-famished between the two-hour intervals, have some–wait for it, wait for it–V-8 juice!!! (Please note the operative words in this diet description are “little” and “V-8”).

Ms. Browning had the good fortune to lose 15 pounds of her muffin weight (you’ve got to read the book) in a mere month. missjunebug will settle for five! So far, so good. She’s 3 pounds down and still has a couple of weeks to go before she cruises the high seas and the vast buffets!

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Carlsbad Flower Fields in Full Flower!

BFF: Best Flower Fields! Photo by mjb2011
BFF: Best Flower Fields! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug has been doing a little travel lately in and around the lovely Carlsbad! She highly recommends taking a tour of all the flowery fun the Carlsbad Flower Fields offer. The fields are located along Highway 5 in Carlsbad, California at 5704 Paseo Del Norte. If you are in the San Diego area, they are just a quick hop up the freeway. If you are further north, say Los Angeles and environs allow a couple of hours to make the trek. You don’t want to miss their colorful display!

A tractor-pulled wagon ride can tour you right around the fields or you can do what missjunebug did and walk the paths beside the colorful rows! She’s promises you it will be some of the most beautiful exercise you will ever get!

Pretty in Pink! Photo by mjb2011
Pretty in Pink! Photo by mjb2011
Flower Fields as Far as the Eye Can See! Photo by mjb2011
Flower Fields as Far as the Eye Can See! Photo by mjb2011
Ridiculously Beautiful: Ranunculus! Photo by mjb2011
Ridiculously Beautiful: Ranunculus! Photo by mjb2011
Poinsettias Get Their Own Venue! Photo by mjb2011
Poinsettias Get Their Own Venue! Photo by mjb2011
Key Lime Pie Flower!!! (jk) Photo by mjb2011
Key Lime Pie Flower!!! (jk) Photo by mjb2011
Carlsbad Ranch History in Brief! Photo by mjb2011
Carlsbad Ranch History in Brief! Photo by mjb2011
missjunebug agrees: Flowers Rock! Photo by mjb2011
missjunebug agrees: Flowers Rock! Photo by mjb2011
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Boomerang Children Surprise Boomers!

Saving a space just for you, TinyJB!! Photo by mjb2010
Saving a space just for you, TinyJB!! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug is sure this is not news to most of  you: There’s a high probability adult children will boomerang back home sometime during their twenties or thirties. Blame it on these uncertain economic times and the current job market. Blame it on the willingness of Boomer parents to continue to provide extended refuge from the real world for their children. Blame it on what ElderJB calls a generation “Slow to grow up.”

Or maybe there’s another way to look at it: Celebrate the second chance to bond with adult children who bring with them their indefatigable exuberance and outrageous opinions and recently lived life experience! That’s the way missjunebug plans to look at it!

Having just had both ElderJB and TinyJB home for a good chunk of time during the holidays, she has fresh appreciation for all they bring to her sometime circumscribed world. These bugboys are smart! insightful! cynical! hilarious! loving! and always surprising! Chances are pretty good ElderJB won’t be calling the Hacienda home again anytime soon since his semi-permanent digs are in Rwanda(!), but TinyJB may be joining the junebugs as he plans for his next steps. missjunebug admonished him to do all he could not to end up back home and he assured her he only ever wanted to be a guest here, not a resident, but missjunebug wants TinyJB to take comfort in the little mat outside the kitchen door that says “Welcome!”

missjunebug remembers her own fleeing from home and never looking back, but she lived in chaotic-question-authority-never-trust-anyone-over-thirty times! She’s pretty sure that things are different today and parents and adult children share iTunes playlists, facebook pages, twitter tweets, emails, Skype time, and Kindle recommendations! Maybe it’s technology that’s provided an even playing field and means of connection that missjunebug’s parents’ generation could not even begin to dream of. Or maybe economic realities necessitate pulling out Plan B: Move back in with the peeps!

The best of all possible worlds will provide a seamless transition from university graduation to interesting and challenging work for the Boomers’ adult children. But in case Real Life 101 requires some recalibration, know that despite what Mr. Wolfe said, you can go home again.

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missjunebug’s 2010: Put that one in the Rearview!

missjunebug's P.I.C. prepares last year's Rockin' New Year's Fun! Photo by mjb2009

missjunebug can’t get waited for 2010 to end (She thanks her JBDad-may he rest in peace-for that little expression!). O what a year it’s been!

Here’s her mixed bag of medical mishaps, mayhem, and monumental events:

Diagnosis: The Big C with the Big O! Hysterectomy followed! Then chemo, then pelvic radiation, then follow-up. And did she mention springing a leak in her poor little belly button post surgery! You cannot make this stuff up! Ree Diculous. missjunebug has officially entered her post-patient C-survivor status and would most definitely like to keep it that way.

An outrageous trip to Africa by way of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo was squeezed in between moments of medical mayhem! Now missjunebug understands firsthand why ElderJB loves it there!

JBDad’s passing filled with grief, regret, sadness, celebration, and so much more. Life for JBDad was circumscribed by a mind that no longer supplied the “I” of identity. But missjunebug and her JBbro remember the real JBDad with love and appreciation.

ElderJB makes an unexpected trip home to offer some TLC to his JBMom! What a nice break from thinking about yes, you guessed it: medical mayhem!

TinyJB graduates with pomp, circumstance, and a temporary job! Go Irish! Easily one of the best weekends of missjunebug’s life and she’s got the pictures to prove it. Now if the economy can just cooperate and cut her TinyJB some slack for securing his next gig!

Eclipse chasing never felt so good: Tahiti rocked! Hao Atoll rolled! And all the pictures Mr.JB took were prizeworthy. missjunebug and Mr.JB look forward to 2012 for the next total solar eclipse in Australia!

The last blast of Irish football occurred ND-Michigan weekend, where, alas, the Irish went down to defeat due to QB1 difficulties. But things still hopped all weekend long at the Backer, the tailgate parties, and the post-loss non-celebration dinner in downtown South Bend! Woo-hoo!

Onto Wisconsin Thanksgiving reunion where all Mr.JB clan minus ElderJB gathered in Whitefish Bay for freezing temperatures(!) and steaming hot Thanksgiving fare! What fun! What family! And the Lakeside Brewery Tour and Polka-Fest rounded out the holiday weekend perfectly!

All missjunebug’s Christmas dreams came true with the best tree ever and the most fun family gathering of the JBclan! The junebugs ate too much! partyied too much! spent too much! but wouldn’t change a thing!

O what a year it’s been! One more celebration beckons thanks to her dear p.i.c. (pictured above!) who will host this year’s (and last year’s! and the year before’s!!?) New Year’s Eve Rockin’ Blow-out in the Burbs! Mr.JB and missjunebug are off to BevMo to score some champagne and Godiva White Chocolate Liquer as their contribution to the fete!

Fun times ahead as they ring out this outta control 2010 and look forward to a better, heathier, happier 2011! May it be so with you and yours!

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missjunebug’s Big Adventure at Agape

Agape feast 01
Image via Wikipedia

This Sunday was unlike any other Sunday for missjunebug. She spent the morning with a dear friend visiting the Agape International Spiritual Center. You may have heard of Agape (Greek for unconditional love) and its founder and spiritual director Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith by way of The Secret and the Oprah show. He is the man with the braided hair, the million-dollar smile and the serene countenance who speaks eloquently about the paths to consciousness and true Self.

His spiritual center is most definitely keeping the dream alive in Culver City and beyond, welcoming newcomers warmly and focusing on a message that is transdenominational. All this and some awesome music, too! This particular Sunday Rev. Dr. Beckwith was fulfilling another dream in Ghana where he received the title of Chief conferred upon him by the leaders of a local village in charge of official ceremonies, one more title in a long list of titles awarded to this singular man! The participants in the service at Agape were delighted to see a picture of the Reverend decked out in Chieftain garb up on the big screen.

missjunebug soaked up the greetings, the affirmations, the singing and learned much from the guest speaker Mr. Matthew Fox who focused on the pressing problems the world faces using the metaphor of ying-yang to elucidate those problems. But probably the part missjunebug really appreciated the most was the half-hour of meditation that occurred before the service began. She can’t think of a better way to prepare for worship than to get centered and get quiet enough to hear the still, small voice and know that it is God.

Will missjunebug return to Agape? Maybe. But her summer hiatus is almost over and she’s ready to return to her own home congregation. The energy is a bit more subdued there, the songs not quite so lively, but heart, soul, and spirit dwell there. Blessings!

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Tahiti and a Total Solar Eclipse Make a Sweet Combination

Geometry of a Total Solar Eclipse
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug and her Mr.JB have recently returned from their little trip to French Polynesia. Fun times! Papeete provided great food in town and at the Sofitel, fun shopping at the awesome Marketplace and some nifty museums sprinkled around Tahiti as well. Moorea, just a half-hour ferry ride from Tahiti, was Snorkel Central for the junebugs. mjb squealed with delight watching her Mr.JB hand feed some very friendly stingrays. She even managed to pat a few on the their sleek and curious flappy bodies and was reminded of a gray cashmere sweater she wears in the fall and winter. Yes, seriously, that’s what they felt like! Who knew??? A few sharks cut through nearby waters, but missjunebug and her Mr.JB maintained a reasonable distance. A highlight of the trip for sure, only to be topped by the Total Solar Eclipse viewed by the junebugs on the Hao Atoll, a slim strip of land in the middle of Ocean Central! Lucky bugs to not get clouded out. Three minutes and change felt like 8 seconds (as all eclipse chasers know!) but they savored every single second of darkness, shimmering corona, and yelps of the Hao locals and the e-chasers livin’ the dream! Next? Queensland Australia 2012, birthplace of the Spoonbug. Too bad she can’t come along to eclipse chase, too.

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Abby Sunderland…What if? Wonders missjunebug

Sailboat in San Francisco Bay
Image via Wikipedia

As the devoted mother of ElderjB and TinyJB, missjunebug can’t help but wonder What if? when she thinks of Abby Sunderland, the intrepid 16-year old round-the-world-or-bust sailor. What if Abby hadn’t been rescued? What if she had died in that interminable stretch of ocean between Africa and Australia? What would her parents be saying to the media if such a tragedy had occurred? Call missjunebug a worrywart after the fact, but she can’t help but wonder.

Of course, missjunebug is as delighted as all the fans who support Team Abby must be that she was picked up without incident by the French fishing vessel (Viva La France!). Still. Was it worth the risk?

Without a moment’s hesitation, her father says they would do it all again if given the chance. Hmmm. missjunebug looks askance at that glib response. This coming from a man who by his own admission is “broke” and recently inked a television deal for Adventures in Sunderland (catchy name, Mr. S!) that will encourage kids to try new adventures. Really? Really? Now missjunebug thinks there’s adventure and then there’s foolhardiness. She’ll let you figure out which category she thinks Abby’s quest fits in.

missjunebug wishes Abby and the Sunderlands well with the multimedia blitz that will no doubt follow them where ever they go: Interviews! Televisions Shows! Book Deals!  This may be 15 minutes of fame x millions! Just in time, Sunderlands, with that baby on the way and that bank account so low!

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Notre Dame Commencement 2010: Part Deux

missjunebug has just a few more Commencement photos to share:

Joyce Center Transformed into Holy Place! Photo by mjb2010
Joyce Center Transformed into Holy Place! Photo by mjb2010
Holy People Process In! Photo by mjb2010
Holy People Process In! Photo by mjb2010
Lots of Holy People Preside Over the Commencement Mass! Photo by mjb2010
Lots of Holy People Preside Over the Commencement Mass! Photo by mjb2010
Commencement in the ND Stadium! A First in Many, Many Years! Photo by mjb2010
Commencement in the ND Stadium! A First in Many, Many Years! Photo by mjb2010
Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News Rocked the Commencement Address! Photo by mjb2010
Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News Rocked the Commencement Address! Photo by mjb2010
TinyJB Designed This Commencement Brochure! Go TinyJB! Photo by mjb2010
TinyJB Designed This Commencement Brochure! Go TinyJB! Photo by mjb2010
Congratulations, Indeed!!! Photo by mjb2010
Congratulations, Indeed!!! Photo by mjb2010

University of Notre Dame Commencement 2010: One of the Best Weekends of missjunebug’s Life!

The Glorious Dome! Photo by mjb2010
The Glorious Dome! Photo by mjb2010

TinyJB’s commencement at the University of Notre Dame this past weekend surpassed all missjunebug’s highest expectations! The entire junebug family celebrated with TinyJB his awesome achievement of graduating with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. The three days were action packed! The junebug family started with a celebratory dinner at Sorin’s in the Morris Inn. Delicious! missjunebug had the trout.

After dinner they strolled the campus and took a moment to soak up the holy atmosphere of the Grotto and you better believe missjunebug and her Mr.JB said a prayer of thanks after they lit a candle. The grotto blazed with glorious light and good intentions. The next day the junebugs attended the Commencement Mass at Joyce Center and celebrated at the dinner held in the Hogwart’s-like South Dining Hall. It was truly magical: Wonderful food! Sparkling champagne! And a wall of cakes! Unbelievable! The Glee Club performance at the Leighton Concert Hall rounded out the night with unparalleled acapella! Whew! What a day! Delightful x 10. But the best was yet to come.

The junebugs headed to the famed University of Notre Dame Stadium for the commencement. Number 165! And the first one held in the stadium since forever practically! The weather cooperated perfectly: Cool and clear with lots and lots of sun shining. The venue looked rock-concert worthy and Touchdown Jesus looked on with complete approval. The academic procession began with a flourish of  Pomp and Circumstance from the Notre Dame musicians and each school was introduced as they made their way under the Go Irish archway. missjunebug and Mr.JB looked on with pride and even the ever-chill ElderJB was impressed (G-Town 2004 Walsh School of Foreign Service!). Katie the Valedictorian made a speech to remember and Brian Williams kept the audience laughing until he took a serious turn into the challenges these smart kids would soon face. He concluded with a list of Great Things that were, well, great! No doubt missjunebug’s fans can check out BW’s address on youtube. Absolutely worth the time. The stadium audience howled their approval at the conclusion of the commencement ceremony and adjourned to box lunches and small get togethers with the individual schools with which the grads were affiliated.

One last event: The intimate ceremony of each individual school. What a personal and accessible way to hand out diplomas! The junebug clan cheered on their TinyJB as he shook hands with his awesome department chair and future work supervisor. TinyJB will be doing research (Paid!!) on campus starting in the summer. Sweet x 10.

As Brian Williams pointed out in his speech, the graduates have earned something that can never be taken away from them. They are proud graduates of the University of Notre Dame du Lac. Congratulations, TinyJB!

Here’s a little photo essay of the junebug’s Weekend of a Lifetime!

This Banner Says It All! Photo by mjb2010
This Banner Says It All! Photo by mjb2010
missjunebug Gives Her TinyJB a Big Hug! Photo by mjb2010
missjunebug Gives Her TinyJB a Big Hug! Photo by mjb2010
A Terrific Trio! Photo by mjb2010
A Terrific Trio! Photo by mjb2010
TinyJB's Entourage On the Way to the Basilica! Photo by mjb2010
TinyJB's Entourage On the Way to the Basilica! Photo by mjb2010

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African Animals Amaze missjunebug

Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug has been looking through her fab iPhoto collections recently and decided to put together a little photo essay of her Amazing Animal Finds in Africa! Mr.JB and missjunebug had the good fortune to travel to Uganda and Rwanda (with a day trip to to the lava flows of  the Democratic Republic of Congo) and view the zoo animals of their childhood on the animals’ home turf. What an experience!

Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
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Trip of a Lifetime

oneacrefund.org Rwanda  Photo by mjb2009
oneacrefund.org Rwanda Photo by mjb2010

Perhaps you’ve noticed that missjunebug flew away for a little while. Pretty far away actually. All the way to Africa to visit her ElderJB. Believe her blog title when she says it was the trip of a lifetime. This much she knows is true:

Her ElderJB and his spectacular (svelte, sublime, super-gorgeous) MG are making history in the hinterlands of Rwanda helping farmers TUBURA their harvests and improve their lives.

TUBURA (oneacrefund.org in Rwanda) staff is dedicated, optimistic, hard-working, and forward-thinking, a powerful force for good in the Nyamasheke district.

The enthusiasm and energy and pure exuberance of the local Rwandan staff brought tears to missjunebug’s little bug eyes as they celebrated success and acknowledged the hard work of the field reps and the farmers in their care.

missjunebug was blown away by the sheer enormity of the undertaking her ElderJB has taken on in this most remote of places on the planet (at least to her!) and further blown away by the 2020 target: one meeeeellion farmers (to borrow a phrase!) Are you kidding, ElderJB? missjunebug knows how large you live when you are around the Hacienda but your plan to live large in the hinterlands of Rwanda is truly awesome.

missjunebug’s motherly advice to ElderJB and the superb MG? Go for it! If anybody can do it, you two and your incomparable staff of young, strong, savvy Americans and aspiring, inspiring Rwandans can do it!!

Here’s a little photo-essay missjunebug style:

It starts in the field. Photo by mjb2009
It starts in the field. Photo by mjb2010
It's in the bag: Seeds-to-be! Photo by mjb2010
It's in the bag: Seeds-to-be! Photo by mjb2010
It's a meeting of the minds. Photo by mjb2010
It's a meeting of the minds. Photo by mjb2010
It's all about leadership. Photo by mjb2010
It's all about leadership. Photo by mjb2010
It's a hand-up, not a hand-out. Photo by mjb2010
It's a hand-up, not a hand-out. Photo by mjb2010
It's a time to praise success. Photo by mjb2010
It's a time to praise success. Photo by mjb2010
It's a simple idea yielding preposterous results! Photo by mjb2010
It's a simple idea yielding preposterous results! Photo by mjb2010
It's oneacrefund.org Check it out for yourself online! Photo by mjb2010
It's oneacrefund.org Check it out for yourself online! Photo by mjb2010
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With This Ring

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug, Mr.JB, and TinyJB had the pleasure of attending a wedding this past weekend and it got missjunebug thinking about all things wedding-y. Here are some of her philosophical musings:

1.  Weddings are a hell of a lot more fun than funerals.

2. Contrary to Katherine Heigl‘s  experience in 27 dresses, some bridesmaids dresses are absolutely gorgeous.

3. The 3-part wedding weekend for out-of-town family and friends rocks! Rehearsal dinner Friday night, Wedding & Reception/Dinner/Dance Saturday, Good-bye Brunch Sunday morning provides enough celebrate and catch-up opportunity for everybody! It’s like a family reunion wrapped in a party inside a wedding ceremony!

4. Nothing beats little kids as part of the walk down the aisle: junior groomsmen, bell-ringers, ring-bearers, flower girls! missjunebug appreciates how hard it must be to wrangle these kidlets, but the results on wedding day are so worth the parental migraines during the rehearsals. Of course, missjunebug speaks blithely about this because these kidlets and migraines belong to someone else!!!

5. missjunebug firmly believes that the bride and groom can’t go wrong providing a spiritual context for the wedding ceremony. A little prayer and solemnity go a long way toward reflecting the true gravitas of the commitment. No doubt God appreciates this too!

6. That old saying All brides are beautiful is certainly true, but missjunebug will be the first to point out a là George Orwell, All brides are beautiful but some brides are more beautiful than others. Take missjunebug’s niece for example. She owns the more beautiful category outright and missjunebug has the pictures to prove it.

7. The dance floor is an equal-opportunity space for making fools of even the most reserved wedding guests. From the chicken dance to the YMCA refrain, even a tux or a formal gown is no guarantee the wearer won’t look at least a little foolish.

8. missjunebug will wrap up as pithily as she began with her final musing:
Nothing beats an open bar!

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Could You Live Here?

Countries with an autonomous region.
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug and her Mr.JB play a game when they are traveling out and about in the world. It’s the Could You Live Here? Game and it’s fun x 10. mjb and Mr.JB have done some traveling in the past few years that has made the game even more interesting and exotic.

Semi-Autonomous Region of Western China? No. Beijing? Yes. Prague? Absolutely! Nagasaki? Surprisingly, yes! St. Remy ? Hell, yeah. Closer to home they’ve ixnayed Dallas and South Bend but embraced Chicago and Austin. Even closer? A loft in downtown City of the Angels?

Why not! Prices are a real deal right about now. But, seriously, missjunebug and Mr.JB never talk the nuts and bolts of price. It’s all about the ambience, liveability, and access to culture, good food, and fun in this game of the imagination.

When Mr.JB gets tired of the game and returns to his fab gadgets, missjunebug turns on the HGTV network and watches her current fav show: House Hunters International (10/9 C). In this brilliant follow-up to the super-popular House Hunters, a peripatetic couple visit their intended international locale to view three possible second homes within their price range. It is so much fun to watch them ew and ah about what they see in these homes away from home. The kitchen area is usually the biggest issue, followed by the burning question Will our king bed fit in here? and the ubiquitous critique in every episode: There’s just not enough storage! Right, American buyers, there isn’t enough storage because you probably have way too much stuff!! But missjunebug digresses.

In the last few minutes of the show, the honey-voiced narrator highlights the pros and cons of the three properties with the soon-to-be second-homers. Will it be the converted monastery with a view of the vineyards? The roomy multi-level within the city walls? Or the country charmer with the wine cellar–wine included!?

And then the bedazzled couple make the big decision. Of course, the fun part for missjunebug is to try to guess which one they will choose. Sometimes she’s spot on but last week the Umbria lookey-lu’s chose the Italian home utterly lacking in charm. missjunebug couldn’t believe there was such a thing, but this couple managed to find it! She couldn’t believe the bone-head choice they made! But that is all part of the vicarious viewing experience for the little bug who loves the game Could You Live Here?

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mjb Adventure: Shanghai’d by Shanghai

mjb is standing on top of the world in the Shanghai Pearl Tower!  Photo by mjb2009
mjb is standing on top of the world in the Shanghai Pearl Tower! Photo by mjb2009
Shanghai's Pearl Tower: Totally Awesome! Photo by mjb2009
Shanghai's Pearl Tower: Totally Awesome! Photo by mjb2009

missjunebug suffered through the twelve hour flight on China Eastern Airlines and two helpings of in-flight Chicken Rice, a warm pork bun, many tiny cups of her last vice, Coca-Cola and 8 episodes of Gossip Girl Season One (that Chuck Bass…you gotta love him!) to arrive at the Shanghai airport 100% humidity then into a crazy taxi drive to her posh digs at the Langham Shanghai Boutique Hotel (mjb took the Wall Street Journal recommendation to heart and booked there!). She and Mr.JB luxuriated in the a.c. while they soaked up the ambience of their tastefully Art-Deco inspired room complete with robe, slippers, fresh fruit, hot tea, not to mention the flat screen tvs in the bedroom and the marble-tiled bathroom (above the full bathtub, natch!). It felt a little too good to be true, but, guess what? It wasn’t! This 96-room De-double-luxe hotel was on its best behavior during its “soft-opening.”

Soft, indeed. Especially that fab down comforted-bed and delicous hot-entree breakfast in the hotel’s lovely Ciao! restaurant, gratis! It all boded well for mjb and her Mr.JB.

And Shanghai did not disappoint. It is China on steroids and neon with some serious reconstructive surgery going on all over the city in preparation for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. The Bund was a bummer, impossible to access because of work being done there, but the Space Mountain-inspired Bund Sight Seeing Tunnel to Pudong and the Pearl Tower, a vertigo-afflicted tourist’s worst nightmare, were the wackiest kind of fun. Seriously, 350 meters up a tower, standing on plexiglass! looking straight down! mjb thought she was at Disneyland (as soon as she stopped shaking)!!

The next stop was the Shanghai Museum where cameras were okay throughout and the exhibits inspired. mjb learned that the Chinese civilization is thousands and thousands of years old and they’ve got the artifact chops to prove it. The United States is an embryo in comparison. One display she especially liked: jewelry dating back to 3200 B.C. that she’d be happy to wear today! Of course, there were the fabulous watercolors, the glazed statuary of heavenly guards, horses, and warriors, and just about the coolest birdbath she’d ever seen. mjb can’t begin to catalogue all that she and Mr.JB saw, but rest assured it was a crap-ton of very fine China!

What else? People’s Square. A Chinese Tea Ceremony with 3 Chinese students mjb and Mr.JB met outside the Shanghai Museum. The zippy Metro. The tree-lined French Concession. The frenetic, capitalistic (!) street scene on W. Nanjing Rd. All delicious, sweaty, crowded fun.

What a city! What a country!. As Mr.JB. likes to quote one of his Asian business contacts as saying in regards to China and its future: “Slowly rising. Slowly rising.”

Watch out U.S.A. This civilization has about six thousand years on you. Slowly rising, indeed.

A delicious welcome at the Langham!  Photo by mjb2009
A delicious welcome at the Langham! Photo by mjb2009
Oh. My. Yes.  Photo by mjb2009
Oh. My. Yes. Photo by mjb2009

On to the Shanghai Museum:

Shanghai Museum Moves missjunebug!  Photo by mjb2009
Shanghai Museum Moves missjunebug! Photo by mjb2009
One of many fine statues! Photo by mjb2009
One of many fine statues! Hey! Is that the USA underfoot? Photo by mjb2009
One of many lovely watercolor paintings!  Photo by mjb2009
One of many lovely watercolor paintings! Photo by mjb2009
mjb's Favorite Museum Find, A Birdbath Complete With Little Critters!  Photo by mjb2009
mjb's Favorite Museum Find, A Birdbath Complete With Little Critters! Photo by mjb2009
Another One of mjb's Favorite Things: Jewelry Old-School Style! Photo by mjb2009
Another One of mjb's Favorite Things: Jewelry Old-School Style! Photo by mjb2009
Yeah, that's right. Plenty old!  Photo by mjb2009
Yeah, that's right. Plenty old! Photo by mjb2009
Don't Miss This Museum When in Shanghai!  Photo by mjb2009
Don't Miss This Museum When in Shanghai! Photo by mjb2009
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Eclipse of the Century: A Pox Upon Your House!

This is about as close as missjunebug got to seeing a solar eclipse!  Photo by mjb2009
This is about as close as missjunebug got to seeing a solar eclipse! Photo by mjb2009

So missjunebug and Mr.JB took the trip of a lifetime to sail the East China Sea to see the Eclipse of the Century! missjunebug loved the days in Shanghai and the fab suite she and Mr.JB had on their Costa Allegra Cruise Ship sailing to South Korea and Japan.

Fun times 10.

Except for the rain. Except for the clouds. Except for the thunder and lightning. These all occurred the day before the big day, but 24 hours was not enough to dissipate the gray overcast and those pesky clouds proved to be a serious impediment to eclipse viewing! But, no matter! The bar opened at 11 am and she and Mr.JB along with many, many others drowned their sorrows (briefly!) in libations.

missjunebug and Mr.JB knew their chances for seeing the total solar eclipse were only about 50/50 due to the prevailing weather conditions in the area this time of year, so they weren’t devastated. Just a little sad. They did think the 6 minutes of surreal darkness at sea was pretty cool! And they made a pact to try for totality again. Did someone say 2012??

Look very, very closely for mjb's single eclipse shot.  Photo by mjb2009
Look very, very closely for mjb's single eclipse shot. Photo by mjb2009

mjb Buzz: Inside the Beltway Shenanigans

Congress! Do we have your attention?  Photo bymjb2009
Congress! Do we have your attention? Photo bymjb2009

missjunebug recently took a little trip to see ElderJB in Washington, D.C. She was really looking forward to the Capitol Tour for which she’d secured reservations through the prompt ministrations of her Congressional representative. Thanks, Elton. mjb thinks you rule!

But missjunebug got more and less than she bargained for. She and ElderJB were first in line for the nifty12-minute film intro to the many legislative triumphs of the Congress in the past 100 years or so. They patted themselves on the back really well! She even teared up a few times! But the fun was far from over.

When the tour guide in the red coat led their group into the Capitol Rotunda, everyone in the gorgeous statue-filled round room got a big surprise. A few people from mjb and ElderJB’s group walked to the center of the room and peeled off their shirts to reveal nifty protests shirts, signs and even some plastic chains that they used to join them to all their other protest buddies in a moving circle that chanted really, really loudly CLEAN NEEDLES SAVE LIVES, CLEAN NEEDLES SAVE LIVES, CLEAN NEEDLES SAVE LIVES. All the while the touristas stood dumbfounded at this highly illegal show being performed for their benefit? No, not really. The intended audience was the camera guy’s camera that kept rolling (Film at 11!!!) and, no doubt, Congress who according to these folks wasn’t paying attention. Not that Congress has much on its plate these days.

missjunebug remarked to one of the many Capitol security guards who descended enmasse into the Rotunda when these shenanigans broke out, “Wow, this is democracy in action, don’t you think?”  The well-cut, yes, one might say ripped African American guard said as he pulled on his black let’s-get-this-confrontation-on-gloves, “You about to see some democracy in action, all right.”

Whoa! Then missjunebug, ElderJB, and the remaining members of her tour group and the others were quickly and efficiently ushered out of the Capitol Rotunda. And that was the end of missjunebug’s Capitol tour! But make no mistake: she wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything!

Note to Congress: Look into those clean needles asap!

Sneaky Protestors Pretend to Be Tourists Then...Not   Photo by mjb2009
Sneaky Protestors Pretend to Be Tourists Then...Not!! Photo by mjb2009
Do You Hear Me Now?  Photo by mjb2009
Do You Hear Me Now? Photo by mjb2009
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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Japanese map symbol "Home for the aged".
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug is on a mission, albeit a grim one. She’s checking out care homes for her poor little Alzheimer‘s plagued junebug-dad. Mostly mjb chooses to focus on cheerier topics in her cheery little blog, but as it turns out her investigations into possible care homes for her dad reveal a hopeful world for elders haunted by memory and function loss due to this heinous disease.

Of the three places she’s visited so far, she’d be happy to have her dad living in any of the three. There’s definitely a hierarchy of one to three, but each care home offers comfortable private living quarters, great food, plentiful activities, hands-on assistance as needed, access to secured outdoors (absolutely essential for junebug-dad), on-site nursing care, and some really kind people–staff and Alzheimer’s folks included.

Whew! You better believe she is really relieved about her unexpected findings. The one care facility she and her junebug-brother visited a couple of years ago after her junebug-dad couldn’t find his way home in his car from the local 7/11 and was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) was grim x 10. Sad little old people lined up in their wheelchairs, heads down, hands folded in laps, totally unengaged as the hospital-style facility was ” currently without an activities directors.” That’s not all that facility was “without.” Needless to say mjb and junebug-bro ran for the exit p.d.q.

Since then junebug-dad has had excellent 24/7 care in the little home he’s lived in for all mjb’s life and if anyone’s counting that’s well over half a century. mjb and her bro are not jumping into making any change for their dad this minute, they’re just lining up a Plan B in case their junebug dad needs more help than at-home care can provide and funds run too low to continue the outsized cost of the 24/7 pay by-the-hour protocol.

Yes, it’s a grim disease, but missjunebug is relieved to know there are places that value the individuals within, preserve their integrity, and tend to their complex physical needs as well. Things are looking up, deep in the heart of Texas!

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Sweet Homecoming

Map of Rwanda
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug’s son, EldestJB returns home today from Rwanda where he does good work for www.oneacrefund.org, an NGO helping local farmers increase crop yield. One Acre Fund can tell its own story best at its colorful and newly remodeled website which mjb encourages you to check out.

This tiny land-locked country in East Africa has had a dark and troubled history, but it is emerging into the light with strong leadership from President Paul Kagame. Kigali, the Rwandan capital, is booming, internet-connected, and filled with welcoming people.

EldestJB has expressed many times how gratified and humbled he is to be working with such dedicated staff and hard-working farmers. The combination of those two pivotal factors has contributed to One Acre Fund Rwanda’s enormous success in the past year. Of course, missjunebug suspects that EldestJB has much to do with the program’s success as well.

mjb wants to also thank EldestJB for introducing her to Café de Maraba Rwanda’s Finest Served Here Coffee. She’s savoring her morning cuppa right now! The small holder farmers who help create Café de Maraba hail from the District of Maraba in Butare Province. Their secret may be the volcanic soil in which the beans grow or maybe it’s the “special heirloom ‘bourbon’ Arabica variety” coffee beans. mjb says, “Whatever it is, the coffee tastes DeeDoubleLicious.”

Why not pour yourself a cup of coffee and peruse the www.oneacrefund.org website right now while missjunebug gets reacquainted with her son.

Rwanda: Land of a Thousand Hills  Photo by EJB2009
Rwanda: Land of a Thousand Hills Photo by EJB2009
Rwanda's Finest?  Oh. My. Yes.     Photo by mjb2009
Rwanda's Finest? Oh. My. Yes. Photo by mjb2009
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