Monday, December 2, 2019

Snow in the City

It's a beautiful morning in Budapest where I'm currently sitting in a cafe and looking out the window at the first snowfall of the year.  Winter has arrived!

I've made Budapest my second home for the last ten years, and am currently enjoying another extended stay here.  I arrived in August in the middle of a heat wave.  Now I've seen the entire change of seasons, though a glorious fall and into winter.

I'm living in the Seventh District, which is the historic Jewish quarter.  It's got a ton of character, all of which is highlighted by a coating of white.

This morning I walked around the neighborhood, snapping some pics of the streets and a few small parks.

This is a gritty, urban environment, but I have to admit, I do love the place.

And it's hard to beat settling in to a cozy cafe, with a warm latte, looking out the window as the fresh snowflakes drift down.  For me, it's the perfect writing weather.

And now, time to settle in and get a bit of work done!

Update: Ok, I couldn't resist a few more:

And that's all... :-)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

End of an Era in Budapest

I first came to Budapest in 2009 to spend a summer hanging out and working on a novel.  I made friends and grew comfortable with the place, and now it's become a second home.  Many of those friends I made are still with me.  Others have moved on around the world, but we're all still connected and share this bond over our time together here.  Through it all, one of the pubs we've spent the most time in is a ruin bar called Ellato Kert.

Last night I met up with a small group of them to say goodbye to the place.  After a good, long run, it's being torn down to make way for a new hotel/residence.

That's just sort of the way things go around here.  Change is the only constant.  This neighborhood, the 7th, is the historical Jewish quarter.  During WW II it was the Jewish Ghetto.  Seventy thousand people were crammed into this neighborhood before being murdered outright or sent away to the camps.  It's the most gruesome of possible histories, and afterwards, the neighborhood was basically abandoned by the communists and left to rot.

After the fall of communism, starting around 2004, some budding entrepreneurs decided to turn some of the abandoned buildings into pubs, throwing in a bunch of mix-matched, used furniture and some interesting art on the walls.  It breathed new life into the neighborhood, and slowly these ruin pubs took off.

In fact, they became so popular that the whole neighborhood became a booming nightlife scene, with all sorts of restaurants and cafes, galleries, shops and hostels opening up.  As happens, those establishments that started it all are becoming victim to their own success.  Many can't afford to stay anymore.

Ellato Kert was previously a sausage factory, way back when (thanks Adam for the info).  There were other ruin pubs in a former school (Iskola) and taxi garage (Kuplung), but they already closed down.

Now, another one bites the dust.  Such is life I guess.  All that is left of these places are the friends and the memories.  I will cherish both.

Me on the right with some good friends.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

View to another era...

When my parents recently decided to sell their home in Laguna Beach after 30 years, it was time for me to pack up whatever possessions I had there and either sell, store or toss them.  In so doing, I ended up going through a whole lot of old photographs, which took me back to various periods in my life.

That's me with my arms crossed, center left.  A motley crew, having fun in the wilds of baja.

We all have these distinct periods, such as our high school years, or maybe our first time living away from home, etc.  It's almost like we experience a whole lot of different lives, yet each one fades away in our memories over time as we move on to the next.

Time for a brewski.

One such period for me was when I lived in San Diego in my 20s.  It was a surfer lifestyle, and there was an extended group of us who were all young, and free, and living a life of adventure.

That meant taking off any chance we got for surf trips south of the border.  We'd pack up our trucks and head south with surfboards, sleeping bags and coolers for our food and beer.  These photos were from one such trip, though I'm not quite sure what year this was.  Maybe 1995?  Or earlier?  Either way, it was well before digital cameras.

Flat tire.

Looking back now, those certainly seem like halcyon days.  My friend Mitch later got married and went into finance, moving to Missouri to start a family.  Barry married, too, and moved to Idaho.  I'm now living in Budapest.  So much for the surf lifestyle, I guess.

Mitch and Barry, checking the surf after a good session.

But time marches on.  New adventures still await, yet who among us wouldn't be young and free forever?  Yes, those were certainly good days.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

So Long, Laguna Beach

Big life changes are afoot.  I was five years old when my family first came to Laguna Beach, California, originally buying a summer home and then later moving here full time.  Ever since, I've had that connection, and a bed to sleep in whenever I felt it was time to come home.

It made for an idyllic childhood and was a terrific place to have as a landing pad over the course of my itinerant writing career.  Alas, all good things must end, as they say.  With my parents packing up and selling their house, it is time to move on.  Back to Budapest I will go, my second home for the past ten years.  Only, this time I won't have a bed in beautiful Laguna Beach to come back to.  As I go through my closet here, I've come across lots of old photos from days gone by and I might post a few soon.  In the meantime, I'll try not to be too sentimental!  I've still got another week left.  Time for a few more dips in the sea.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Vendetta Girl on Sale!

Hi all!  Thanks for visiting.  I've recently released my newest Natalia Nicolaeva thriller, Vendetta Girl, and wanted to mention that this week only it is on sale for Kindle for just 99 cents as part of a Kindle Countdown Deal.

I'm still looking for my first few reviews on this one, so if you like it, consider leaving a few words on Amazon, if you're so inclined.  With only one review up so far, your opinion would have a big impact. Thanks a bunch and happy reading.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Back on the Mountain

Welcome to the endless winter of California.  I'm back up at Mammoth Mountain, where there is still so much snow that the ski resort is going to be open into August this year.

Summer officially starts on Friday, but you'd never know it from the looks of things around here.

Luckily for me, I have a season pass and a place to stay, so I can head out for a few hours on the slopes in the morning and then come home to get some work done in the afternoon.  By lunchtime, the snow is way too slushy to ski or snowboard anyway.  Mostly I'm just taking it easy and enjoying the California summer, Sierra Nevada style!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Moving ahead

It's been two weeks now since I had my prostate cancer treatment and everything went well.  I'll be honest, though, the recovery has been tougher than I expected.  Four hours under anesthesia really wipes you out.  I didn't realize ahead of time, and nobody mentioned it, but the effects take a few weeks to wear off.  Apparently, it takes a week for each hour you were under for the drugs to leave your system.  And then there are the other effects from the procedure that your body just needs time to heal from, but I'm starting to feel almost normal again at this point, finally.  It's definitely a relief to have the whole thing over and done with, and now I just have to cross my fingers and hope that it was successful.  I won't have my first indication until my three-month follow-up.  In the meantime, I'll be here in California, trying to get back into writing mode.  Going through all of this has definitely put me behind schedule on my latest novel, Spy Girl, but I'm looking forward to getting back into the flow of it.  I guess it's probably true of a lot of professions, but for a writer there is nothing quite like the feeling you get from a productive day of work.  It just seems to settle whatever angst you happen to be dealing with and calm the nerves, at least until the next day when you start all over.  There's something about losing yourself in the story that lets everything else fade away.  So, on that note, I'm off to join Natalia on her latest adventure!  Hopefully I can still have this one finished by the fall.