Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thursdays Out . . . Back Down to Earth

Collage of my September Photos-A-Day

Slowly, slowly heading back to, well, normal. Normal is not necessarily good. Normally, I have an awful time finishing anything and I'm in that place now. Hard to get all the mail opened and appropriately dispatched. Hard to get the suitcase completely empty and stashed. Hard to get my mind around the changes I want to make to the preliminary drawing for the prospective room addition and draft them. I can trace this affliction back to childhood. If it doesn't have a deadline, I have such a hard time pushing myself through to completion. (Is there a Procrastinator's Anonymous?) Perhaps that's why I gravitated to blogging and away from writing a novel. With blogging I get the reward of finishing something on a short timeline, while a novel stretches on an on, ever mocking me.

My plan for blogging was to post daily, recording daily life as it happens. That part hasn't worked out so well as I run out of time and energy before it happens. That happened on the recent trip to France, so I have lots of photos and fun still to share, and even some that go back to earlier trips. I surely can't cop to lacking material, although it violates the "today" aspect of daily blogging.

My photo a day for "NEAR," deer babies hanging out near their mom.
Along with what's "not done," there are a few "dones." Got the new tooth implanted, as I mentioned last time. On that same day, I had an appointment with the spine doctor and will be having an MRI Monday to assess what's really going on. Lower back problems are chronic, but an apparent compression fracture, fairly recent, in the mid back is worrisome, to me at least (and hurts). I'm looking for possible risks and remedies. 

I got my purchases abroad unpacked. I had declared a big $130 in expenditures at customs. Two items were shirts I bought to wear because one shirt I thought I packed didn't make it into my suitcase, and and the second because it was colder a few days and I needed another long-sleeved one. I think once worn I don't have to include them in my purchases. I got a couple of packets of fabric somewhat like typical Alsatian fabrics, and a few pieces at the Beauvillé factory store. Don't Beauvillé's cats look familiar?

Beauvillé cats

Familiar cats

Speaking of cats, my feral menagerie has been sparse since my return. The old-timer, Black Kitty, has been spotted a couple of times, but other than that, it's only been Extra and the tiny kitten, the latter presumably one of Socks' babies. No sign of Socks or her other baby or Stripes or Bella, the original Momma cat.

Chloe is in utter misery with horrible mats. She doesn't let me touch her and the only ones I've gotten out of her have been by grabbing hold of one and hanging on while dodging teeth until she pulls away, leaving the mat with me.  She occasionally gets one out herself but ends up consuming it, turning it into a fur ball for later presentation. I made an appointment for her to get sedated and cleaned up and get some medical things taken care of at the same time. Poor girl.

I've spent two days plus, washing every couch and bed and window seat throw, towels and pillows and cat nests from the spots where the cats routinely sleep, that I haven't done for awhile. With all the nice clean cat fur I've thrown outdoors, I hope there are birds or animals nesting now that can use that soft stuff. I have one more load of washed and dried cat nests that need shaking out and I'll be done.

I'm back to Thursdays out and the ladies have been busy.

A new batch of hats and scarves, this time for civilian and baby use.

Correction: The orange sox are Barbara's which she is comparing to Rose's gray pair.
Rose has finished one pair of sox. and is part way through the next pair.
Note that Rose insists that her sox match each other; no random stripes.

I think these must be Judy's scarves.

Norma has been knitting potholders. Last week she taught the technique to Ursula.

Ursula has been busy applying the technique.

I'm going to a play today at Stage 3 in Sonora, "November," a politically incorrect comedy."

Here's a photo I grabbed out of a Power Point email on Animal Love, with the usual mommy/baby pictures. This one is sooo different, it just tickled me.

Turtle baby

See you soon (for what that's worth!).


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homecoming Sunday

I try to kid myself out of jet lag coming home by saying that we arrive back in San Francisco only 1½ hours after leaving Paris (left at 2:30 p.m, arrived at 4:00 p.m.). So if I go to bed by midnight on the day I get home, no big deal. By that time, my brain is too confused to do the calculations, but let's face it, midnight in San Francisco is 9 a.m. in Paris, and I've been up for 26½ hours. Not withstanding that, I wake up at 3:30 a.m., feeling like it's time to get up. I fiddle some, try to get back to sleep, but it's not really working. It's midday in Paris and my body still thinks so.

After eating breakfast (hungry . . . I forgot to eat dinner), I took the time to post all my handwritten notes from the flight before heading for home.

First stop, the drug store. I used the very very last iota of my make-up, which allegedly covers up dark circles and splotchiness, for the flight home so it needed to be replaced.

Next stop, gas station with car wash.


Stopped for lunch at fast food. I didn't have any hamburgers in France because they are all cheeseburgers -- the concept of ordering without cheese probably wouldn't go over well -- and they were HUGE, way too much for me to eat.

Here's the "with cheese" sandwich order "without cheese." It didn't taste as fabulous I'd expected; I think the patty had been waiting on a warmer for someone to order "no cheese."

Next was a stop at Costco. I had neglected to make a list before I left home, so a few guesstimates have resulted in duplications of stuff on hand, and I've thought of at least one thing I should have gotten. Of course, I never buy just what I thought I went in for.

Just because it looks small (except for a 10-lb. bag of oatmeal)
doesn't mean that I didn't run up a big bill!

It was a warm muggy day at Costco, but with gorgeous clouds in the sky.

I stopped Sister's Mountain House to pick up a vital item she'd forgotten when she and Brother-in-Law left on a Morgan outing, so I could mail it to her at her City House to be there on their return. And the new stairs leading down the the lower part of the backyard were completed. I've since learned that neither of them has seen the completed steps, so here they are, guys. I think they look great.

So here I am, home, with unpacking to do . . .

. . . and

 . . . a little clean-up to do, a slightly trickier chore than cleaning up a barfed-up fur ball from the carpet.


Poor Chloe.

On Monday, I got my new tooth, the implant. To tell the truth, I haven't even looked at it yet. I'm relearning how to chew with more than one pair of meeting molars, which is very strange.

See you soon.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dizzy* (Saturday)

*Dizzy. Describes how I felt all morning. Two full cups of good strong French coffee (usually forsworn before a day out touristing)? Or so many buttery croissants the arteries of my brain are clogged?

Stuff two oranges in the chute

Press the green button on the side and
the oranges are sliced and squeezed.
At the Hotel Muguet in Paris

The last breakfast in Paris

Saturday. At the airport: First let's say I witnessed a disaster of sorts that I sure hope I never have to handle.

I took a shared Parishuttle (not to be confused with Paris-Shuttle) from my Paris hotel to the Paris airport, the one that's Charles-de-Gaulle in contrast to the smaller Orly. (You would know that Le Grand Charles would have the big airport named for him.)

There was one couple aboard the shuttle when I got on, headed for Atlanta on Air France. We stopped next to pick up another couple taking American Airlines to Boston, who joined me in the rear seat. A mother and daughter, also en route to Atlanta got on, I believe, at that same stop. They took the front seats, then worried a briefcase had been left in the hotel lobby which the daughter went back to check on.  Not there, so they assumed it was on the van. (You can hear it coming now.)

The American Airlines people got off at Terminal 2A, while the rest of us headed for 2E. We unloaded and went to the back of the van for our bags.

Not only no briefcase, no bags at all for the mother/daughter team. They decided their bags must have been loaded on another shuttle. When I left, they were oh-my-godding. I'm sure I'd have been doing the same and I don't know the outcome of their dilemma.

It's a habit. I always watch the loading of my bags. I suspect they'd left that laborious job to the hotel staff. Teachable moment, as they call it.

Naturally, the shuttle drop-off point is at the far end of the terminal. I learned a few trips ago that you don't wander up to just any of the dozen or so rows of Air France counters. You must look on the big board for your flight's embarkment counter. Mine said #4, so I trekked almost to the opposite end of the terminal.

What a zoo! The occasional self-check-in kiosk had been replaced by a roomful of them with people queued up everywhere. I'd printed my boarding pass yesterday at the hotel. I found a live person at what appeared to be an entry point.

"Oh, no, madame," she said, pointing to a tiny logo on my boarding pass, "you are Sky Priority. You must leave your bags at #6 or 7."

My overlooked perk

Okay. Glad I had preprinted my boarding pass, or I wouldn't have found this out. A little walk back to #6 and I find that Premium Voyageur (my Awards ticket class) is also accepted in the Business Class line. It's a serene embarkment area, with people pointing me through to an unbusy desk.

Then it's straight on through passport control and security.  "They," the European airlines, don't give you any little sitting area before going through security, where you might want to collect all your items that will set off alarms into something that will go through on the belt and get otherwise prepared.

So I set off the alarm something like four times while I shed my money belt (coins) and cell phone and my sandals and I still beep because of the decorative metal circles on the waistband of my favorite travel pants. I have at least five trays going through the scanner. I get another pat down. (Hey, airport security has provided my most intimate encounters in the past couple of years. It would be a lot more fun if they had some cute guys doing pat downs.)

Since they want you at the airport three hours before the flight, I'm sitting in a quiet Sky Priority waiting area at gate L48. I saw our aircraft arrive awhile ago. It discharged its passengers and is being cleaned and restocked.

Waiting area at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport

In a strange turn of events, the French have organized the boarding lines.

I experience being in the "good" line.

Our aircraft being serviced
*          *          *         *         *

Saturday. Aboard AF 0080.  Two-hours-twenty-two minutes left to go in a 10½ hour flight. We're cruising at 538 mph at 38,000 feet, zigging between Edmonton and Calgary. Minus 72 degrees outside. Fall, if not winter, has come to fields below. The air is a hazy brown below us and has been, whenever I've peeked, since somewhere this side of Iceland.

Getting aboard as Sky Priority was a pleasure. I told you I thought I was getting spoiled!    What shall do? Become Traveling Sardine Class: Upgraded? I was first to arrive in my section, with unimpeded access to the overhead. I've consumed the contents of most of my pill pouches, so my carry on bag weighs a lot less for hoisting it up there.

The flight is not completely full. Apparently some of those in my little section got offered upgrades at the airport.

We were delayed in leaving by some sort of something locked. Or that's what I gleaned from a rapid-fire spiel in French followed by a rapid-fire spiel in the same cadence in French-accented English that was indistinguishable from the former. A couple of announcements later, I believe I heard the word "gangway."

Here's my theory. The thing we walk through to get on the plane is locked to the plane so passengers won't be randomly dropped on the tarmac. The lock got stuck and was fixed by the guy who drove away in something golf cart-like and had a very engineerish appearance.

Next came that vertigo inducing feeling when the pavement appears to be slipping away in front of you.

It was wild out there on the runway and taxiways. Planes were racing for their places in line and taking off quickly.

The race to the starting gate

I think this was an Airbus A380 ahead of us. Awesome!

Passing over the White Cliffs of Dover

Passing over Iceland

We're in a Boeing 777-200. As far as I can tell, on this model the Premium Economy seats are located in a stretch section just forward of the wing, It's a smaller plane than the 747 Air France uses for many of its overseas flight. Sardine class is really sardine class, with really narrow aisles.

Not everything is peaches and cream here in our little Shangri-La. Sardine class has toilets in the rear of the plane. There are toilets on either side at the back of Business class and the purser has designated one of these as "ours." On the other side of the plane. Access is over the feet of people sitting at the bulkhead. There is nothing to hang on to to steady yourself as you attempt to cross over.

I can't say I blame the bulkhead passenger for being less than happy with this situation, but it was hours into the flight before I made my first foray on the heels of my seatmate so we wouldn't have to disturb them separately, yet I got such a giant eye-roll from the Dragon Lady La Gardienne in the first  seat that I'm pretty much intimidated out of peeing.

My entertainment system is misbehaving as well. (It did very nicely on the way over.)  I got about 20 minutes into a French film, Adieu Berthe, which went in fits and starts before becoming "disponible" (not available).  Then I tried Sleepless in Seattle, with the same results. I tried Thermae Romae, the story of a Roman architect who has fallen out of favor as too old-fashioned to design the next Roman Baths. He is sucked through a drain in the current bath, into the future in a Japanese bath, where he discovers wondrous modern design. He is reawakened from "drowning" back in Rome and next thing you see is his being celebrated for building baths on the Japanese model.

At which point, what with the Romans speaking Japanese with English subtitles, I didn't care what happened next. I doubt I made it to the 20 minute mark.

Thank you, Captain Dave, for getting me through turbulence over Canada with nary a skipped heartbeat.

We were a little late landing, so I am told, which didn't matter to me. I took BART and a cab to Sister's House in the City for a fine greeting from cats, especially Bentley.

See you soon.


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Last Day . . . and Quilt photos #3


One of my regular blog readers just emailed me to tell me she is now officially worried about my absence from the blog rolls. I appreciate her concern and apologize to any others of you who might also have worried about this absence.

I have been having fun in France, and have walked until I dropped (or darn near). I don't know how many collections of photos I made about activities and how many I've started to write about, only to nod off over the computer until they lost their currency.

Last night I intended to make the effort because I did not have an early call today. In fact, I also intended to have an easy day of it photographing all the spectacular modern buildings and sculptures at La Défense. It's out where, if you look west from the Arch of Triumph, you see the Grand Arch of La Défense. Then I would spend the rest of the day blogging.

But last night, my mouse refused to recognize the computer. It may have happened when I accidentally turned off the Wifi function of the computer, which became fairly evident when the Internet went away, but I guess it also discombobulated the mouse. I have been swearing at the computer and/or mouse all day because I hate (that cannot be emphasized enough) using a touchpad. I've been immobilized. It has been all I could do to read a couple of blogs without wreaking havoc with some part of my system.

When the day started with thin clouds, I also abandoned my photography project, because much of the beauty of the proposed photos depends on beautiful skies -- all blue, or blue with spectacular clouds, to be reflected on the buildings. By the time I went out for lunch with Claire after her return from the morning's optional tour, it had started to sprinkle. We walked in the rain after lunch, and I fought with the mouse some more, and one of those button-pushes resulted in waking up the mouse. Truly, a joyful moment.

So this is Day 3 of the tour extension, or, in total, Day 16. I'm heading for home tomorrow. I've always heard you need to leave something to come back to in Paris, so I'll get my photos of La Défense next time.

There's been an interim event here. I stepped out to find Marie to check on dinner plans and went to her room on the 3rd (that's 4th in American) floor. While we were peacefully looking at a couple of new photos on her iPad, the fire alarm went off. Neither of us is much for spiralish staircases, but we set off downward, along with a hotel full of people. We finally stepped aside to let everyone pass, since we're too slow descending. A few people were trying to ascend, stating it was a false alarm, but most saying, "I'm going down anyway." It was an amiable crowd, absent the smell of smoke or sound or sight of flames. Most, however, remained in the lobby, refusing to go outside improperly attired for the rain.

Rumor in the lobby had it that someone had been  drying his socks. We just wonder what kind of heat source on wet or damp socks would set off the fire alarm. Everyone did very well in evacuating (well, minus the outside thing). There's a Rick Steve's tour that came in last night and today. What are Rick's hints for drying wet socks?

Enough of the chit chat. I've got more Carrefour Européen du Patchwork photos from September 13, this time most of them from Libby Lehman's "Watch Your Step" exhibit in Exposition #4, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines.  Remember, these are photos of a quilt show, not perfect photos of quilts.

Next time, I should be back on home soil.