Tuesday, May 31, 2011


No big message.  I just love these geese.

(En route to Roc-Amadour)

See you tomorrow.


A Holiday Weekend

Have you ever gone to a luau and no one was there?

Sister, Brother-in-Law and I did when we went to the advertised location on Sunday.

"Unsettled" is what they were calling the weather, which means that when Sister and BIL picked me up on Sunday to go to the luau, half of my deck was wet from rain I hadn't even noticed, the other half dry. Since the luau was to be put on by the fire department for its benefit, we'd decided to press on, weather notwithstanding, as our contribution to the community.

Absence of cars in the stables parking area didn't register. It took another sign . . .

I got this photo off my friend Bob's Facebook page, so he and his lady must have gone to the stables, too.

Off we went, downtown to the firehouse. It was more festive there. Awnings were lined up in the end of the park, sheltering BBQs with a long row of roasting tri-tips. A palm tree sprouted in front of the firehouse.

There were tables under awnings (is that what you call those?) and inside the firehouse.  We looked around for ticket sales, were directed into the office where we were sold pretty tickets. We wound through a little maze and emerged into the area where the firetrucks live and promptly had to surrender our pretty tickets.  It's huge in there!

Where are the firetrucks?
Out back?  Or next door?

We were immediately in the food line.  BIL immediately began calculating the height of the doors, of the ceiling, comparing it to his proposed garage space.

Maybe you could open a branch firehouse in our end of town.

Good food . . . tri-tip, beans, rice, salad, rolls and desserts with little umbrellas.

The band was more country-western than Hawaiian.  "West Island," surmised BIL.

We were early, the crowd was small but picking up as we left. We went to look at the firetrucks -- next door, out back. No photos of the firetrucks ... my camera battery was waning. We hoped there'd be no fires during the luau. All the turnout gear was in nooks around the firehouse wall.

The relocation of the festivities was carried off beautifully. We wondered when Plan B had gone into effect, since everything looked like it was where it was always intended.

A little family vignette Sunday evening,  an "awww" moment.

Some kitty history for anyone new here. My resident indoor cats are Chloe (calico), Henley and Jean-Luc (Burmese hot-house flowers, the reason why I don't want close contact with the outsiders).

Black Kitty was apparently abandoned when his people moved several years ago. He got himself a regular food route in the neighborhood, including intermittent stops here. Early this year, Black Kitty occasionally brought a friend, a small fluffy gray-striped cat -- wild as can be -- to share the meal. (He'd even let her eat first.) I dubbed her Little Girl Kitty based on nothing more than a pretty face. After awhile, they became -- ahem -- more that "just friends." Soon Little Girl Kitty was sporting a big belly.

In March I was away for a week, but Black Kitty and Little Girl Kitty discovered when I got back, and appeared for a meal. The following day, no kitties, then the next day, a skinny Little Girl Kitty reappeared.

They continued to come around erratically, sometimes together, sometime not. I assumed Little Girl Kitty had somehow lost the pregnancy and/or kittens . . .

. . . until three little kittens appeared in my yard with her late in April. (Way down in Past Sell-By-Date ) Although my cat sitter saw all three kittens from time to time while I was in France, one was missing when I got home. There's a strange big hole in the tarp covering the woodpile they hide behind, which I vaguely thought they had caused, but the sickening realization just came to me that something much larger had to have made it.

I'd only seen Black Kitty once since I got home, on the front deck, eating some food I'd left there. He had an apparent wound on the side of his neck.

So at dusk Sunday evening, I looked out to see Little Girl Kitty -- let's rename her now to Mama Kitty -- move quickly on alert toward the edge of the deck. The kittens usually dive for cover at any Mama alert or noise I make opening the door.

Black Kitty strolled onto the deck and Mama Kitty walked up to nuzzle him, followed by bounding kittens doing the same, all nuzzling and licking each other like greeting the returning warrior, for the patch of missing hair on his neck was much larger. I didn't disturb this poignant moment to try to get photos or a closer look.

The little family relaxed together at the edge of the deck until it was too dark to see them any longer.

Obligatory kitten photo

On Memorial Day itself, Sister and BIL invited me to their hamburger BBQ, topped off with strawberry shortcake. They had spent most of the day working on yard clean up.  (Sister's new retirement occupation???)  I'm not sure what I did all day.  The day just dissolved into this interesting post-sunset view.

See you later.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Last Day in Saint-Jean-de-Luz

This finishes up our our last day in Saint-Jean-de-Luz with some of the non quilt textile exhibits that I didn't cover in "Quilt en Sud" and "Concours « Chocolat, chocolat »," capped with a group dinner and an unusual event.

"Les raquettes s'amusent" were made by the children of St. Joseph's school and displayed on the beach. My dictionary translates "raquette" as a racket (for various sports), so here we have "The rackets have fun." My guess is that each little figure has a racket within.

Hmmm.  Did one of the raquettes go for a swim?

This is Ciboure, the city across the river from Saint-Jean-de-Luz.  I bought a quilt pattern with some portion of this view.  It's perhaps the least descriptive pattern I've ever seen, but I'll take a shot at it.

The Grand Hotel

 Lunch for two at the Grand
 Back after a stroll down the beach along the seawall to another venue for the quilt show. After I'd seen the Chocolat exhibit and the other artists showing in that big room, I turned in my chocolate vote and the ladies at the table waved me down a hall to see another room, with a few verbal instructions in French to go left, straight, left past the something. I followed the occasional arrow. Ah. A restroom. I could use one of those. Not. I think the sign on the door said "reserved for restaurant patrons, quilt show people go downstairs outside." A glimpse in the door of the restaurant ... a classy business venue. I continued on, through some open double doors. This hallway had a distinctively behind-the-scenes look to it. Yes, there's something kitchenish or perhaps dishwashing. On down a few little steps, up a few little steps. You know I'm being especially cautious on steps after the flying-to-flop episode.

Finally, a room with our (Quilt-en-Sud) name on it: "Broderies du Kutch (Inde)." I recognize "embroidery," or at least I think I do. In the room there are displays of various ethnic or tribal styles of embroidery.

I liked the patterns labeled "JAT," for example.

Cross-stitch by Marie-Therese Saint-Aubin

This is the finest count cloth I've ever seen cross-stitch on, except for the cross-stitched handkerchief someone bought on Rue Cler last year.



Cat in cross-stitch

My French beach towel. Very light weight, no bulk. Colors much like Guatemalan fabrics on the "outside," very fine terry cloth inside. It includes a Velcro-closed pocket and it can be worn as a wrap or sarong.

Group dinner at Auberge Kaïku

We're greeted by monsieur (T-shirt) and waiter.

Our tables await us.

Opener.  Cold cauliflower soup. Surprisingly wonderful.

Chicken breast, pasta stuffed with bleu cheese, yummy sauce whose ingredients I've forgotten


I suddenly recognized the restaurant as one of the town's old stone buildings, described by Iban, our Basque guide, with its tower from which a ship owner would watch the sea, a building that survived the frequent flooding of earlier eras.

The glow of sunset on buildings along the seawall


Our hotel, Hotel de la Plage, in the typical Basque architecture.

I think we'd finished the meal and were awaiting dessert when one of the men in our group abruptly excused himself to return to the hotel. His wife chose to go with him.

She returned a short while later asking Jeanne, our leader, to see whether the nurse in our group could stop by to see her husband when we got back to the hotel.

For the moment, that was that, until late that night I saw the wife outside walking quickly back and forth on the sidewalk, as if searching.

This is not intended as a suspense story, so I'll summarize what happened over the next couple of days.

We were all packing that evening, a Thursday, for our transfer to Paris, to have our one large bag out for a van ride to the train station at 6:30 a.m. Friday, while we would walk to the station with our carry on pieces at 6:45. The husband had scouted out the best foot route and planned to lead us, while Jeanne would wait at the train station guarding our van-delivered luggage.

The wife met us at our pre-trip breakfast with news that her husband was in the hospital, sedated, being given tests, but with a probable kidney stone, so clearly they would not be traveling with us. The wife and I figured out how she could call my purely French cell phone from her American cell phone which was set up to work in France.

I got a call from her Friday afternoon to tell us that they'd been moved by ambulance from Saint-Jean-de-Luz to a hospital in Bayonne for likely surgery. Most of us were scheduled to fly back to California on Tuesday. It was her hope that he'd be in a condition to get to a hotel at the airport in time to fly on schedule.

She tried to reach me Saturday afternoon but it ended up as missed call/missed message. That evening, when I returned to the hotel after a late dinner, I found out our patient and wife were now at our hotel!

His stone had been too large to break up for removal, so a bypass had been done. No surgical incisions so none of us could figure it out. Neither of the couple speaks a word of French. Follow up when he gets home would be necessary.

I tell this story at all because Sunday morning at breakfast they both began to enumerate things they wished they'd known that would have smoothed the experience, and it seemed like useful information for anyone who travels. She agreed to talk to me about those things so I could blog about them.

And I'll do that.

See you tomorrow.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

If Only I Would Finish Unpacking . . .


I feel a bit like this firework after I get home from a trip, facing all the things I need or want to do.
Wake up with a burst of energy, all these tracks to follow, each ending up with little cinders drifting to earth.

Busy, busy. Where's my list?

•   Josie is here feeding cats and kittens when I arrive home on Wednesday. She's seen the three feral kittens from time to time, how cute they are.

I don't see them until Thursday, sleeping in a little huddle.  By Friday, I realize there are only two kittens. I hope someone, besides a dog or wild animal, has adopted the missing little black one.

•   Thursdays Out. I'm back with my NeedleCrafts ladies, eight of them this week, the full complement returned from parts . . . Ursula still rags on me when I bring the big bag of mail I collected from the post office to sort, instead of a sewing project. Tory gets a flex schedule at work, so can include some time with us on Thursdays.

Lots of excellent knitting going on but the paper shuffler doesn't stop to take photos.

•   Sister retired last week. Thursday evening she and Brother-in-Law arrive at their Mountain House to plunge into the process of moving up here and preparing their Bay Area house for sale. BIL is in pursuit of garage space for their numerous cars. (Read: Morgan enthusiasts)

We overfeed ourselves at the Mexican restaurant. (Why don't you order half a compuesta? It's only two dollars more for the whole compuesta. You shoulda had the half.)

•   I invite myself along, then have to cancel, on a trip to the city down the hill on Friday. I need kitty litter and a new watchband. (Hope I can find one for my ancient beloved Timex Indiglo. Does Spiedel still make twisty flexy watchbands?)

Oh, yes, and I 'd originally forgotten my nail appointment. Last one before my manicurist's baby break.

•   Donald Trump is not running for President. Check off one more thing not to have to worry about. I missed that announcement while in France.

This photo of Ray Suarez on the PBS news has nothing to do
with Donald Trump. The picture of serious Ray in his black suit
with a floppy pad in hand just gave me a giggle.

•   Sister and BIL arrive at my house Friday evening bearing kitty litter, after a series of text messages midday to establish the proper brand and quantity. They'd also been shopping for new appliances for the Mountain House.

•   Chloe The Calico Cat, who won't let anyone hold her, has horrible mats in her long fur. I'm covered in the fine, cobwebby hair as in approximate one-minute intervals, she lets me pull pieces gently apart from these masses. It's that, or drive her down the hill to be anesthetized and shaved at the vet's and that's so stressful for her.

•   "Followers" disappear from the right margin of my blog. Just a big blank space where their little pictures should appear.  Is it me or is it Blogger?  Incredible amounts of time and effort can be expended chasing these problems. You just can't anticipate whether effort helps or whether the stupid thing will get resolved without your help if you just wait and see.

I turn on four (count 'em) computers to test this situation. Followers return, but not to all computers at once. (Why?)

I think I only really care because I make PDF files of my blog entries as a way to preserve them, and I was working on that, and I didn't like the stupid blank space on these copies-for-posterity.

(Alas, I don't see them again. Do you?)

•  Blogs. I'm making lists of trip things I want to cover before I wrap that up, one with some serious advice for travelers.

•   Last night for the first night since I got Jean-Luc, I did not shut him and Henley up in the kitten room. JL's interactions with Chloe seem a little less hostile after their long forced togetherness during my trip. (Without me as their I-wanna-be-near magnet, I assume they separate themselves.) "The boys" cuddle up to me most of the night and Chloe is a bit grumpy this a.m. without her solo time with "Mom."  Things would be better if . . .

Henley and Jean-Luc

But I'll continue with the experiment.

•   I go to the Saturday Farmers' Market at Mountain Sage in beautiful downtown Groveland, California, mostly to get photos of Terri's seaweed creations that I didn't take on Thursday when she had them at NeedleCrafts.

Mountain Sage

See Terri shiver. Except when standing in the full sun,
it's very brisk out there. The possibility of showers has been mentioned.
Here are her seaweed creations. Click to enlarge and see detail.

I acquire a lifetime supply of tomatoes, and Mixed Nut Brittle.

The town is bustling with holiday traffic.

Firemen going grocery shopping, ready to answer any calls for service

Cars coming and going

The little gift shop in the market parking lot

•   One little kitten on the deck ventures out toward the driveway. It's mommy is not here. I stick my head out the door and ask sternly, "Where's your Mommy?" It skedaddles back to its kitten hideout.

•   As for unpacking, well, dirty laundry has gone through the washing machine; chargers for cell phone and camera are deployed; but much should be able to stay in the suitcase for the next trip, which will be here before . . . I finish all those things I've started.

See you tomorrow.