Friday, August 28, 2015

Tying up loose ends.

They know. The cats know, almost before I take the suitcase out of the closet, that I'm going somewhere.

"This is just an overnighter, kitties."  They are unimpressed.

I usually travel with my rolling backpack, which includes my electronics and meds, towing it behind my suitcase. The suitcase holds everything else, including toiletries. I manage to stuff my "must haves" into the rolling back pack.  Nice, since I will also be hauling a sleeping bag and mat this time.

Jean-Luc blocks the exit from the bedroom.

When that ploy fails, he's back on the bed, with a Sad Cat face.
He refuses to look at me.

The meeting is at three. I always figure it will take four or five hours to get there. Four quilting friends are going to France in the Fall. We will be completing plans for joining a regional tour guide for part of our time for a tour of Cathar Country, then renting a house and car for another week in Provence, and finishing up with a few days in Paris. (Additional possibilities are in the wind, but I won't reveal them unless they firm up.)*

So, my departure target is ten a.m. I've told Google Maps on my phone where I want to go. The Google Lady tells me my fastest route will take 3 hours 37 minutes. Good. That gives me an hour+ to spare. As I'm about to leave, I get a message that one of our number who'd had an obligation earlier in the day has been liberated from it, so we can aim for two p.m.

I've made this trip to the coast many times. There are several routes I can take via freeways and main highways, but while riding with Daughter a few weeks earlier, she introduced me to the Google Maps lady who'd given us an warning about a pile-up ahead and rerouted us through all the little back roads.

Before that, I had no idea Maps is a GPS. I knew I could enter a city or airport, and, voilà, the place popped up on screen, not much different from a paper map. Daughter revealed it as an interactive medium, but I had to learn to tell it what to it do: "Drive to Fresno." "Drive home via Costco in Manteca."

Awesome. So I decide to let Google Lady warn me of hazards, should any occur, and guide me around them

I don't even make it to the first freeway before the re-routings begin. I learn of country roads I've never driven before. I know not where I am, so I must trust the Google Lady to get me out of this.

As I get nearer to the Coast (I think), I notice the same cars are behind and in front of me for quite awhile and surmise they are following Google lady's directions as well. Google Lady tells me to turn left on a road with the same name as the one I'm traveling. This is not the first time this road has made abrupt changes in direction. Two cars ahead of me turn left and I follow them, as do two cars behind me, onto Seriously Tiny Street. It's not the one we thought. The two cars ahead ahead of me make quick U turns to get back on the previous course. I start to do the same when Google Lady tells me to proceed on Seriously Tiny Street, then turn right at Also Tiny Crossover Street. I turn left on the proper road in the exact spot in the queue I'd been in before.

The complexity of software that knows about accidents all around us, calculates the quickest alternatives, and then gives me my personalized directions, dazzles me. And it must be doing this millions for millions of drivers. As I follow this sinuous course, my time cushion for arrival is increasing at every new detour. I finally arrive around 2:20, late for two o'clock target,  but not for the original three. Meanwhile, our fourth traveler is caught in unbelievable traffic on the freeway I would have been on without Google lady's interventions. She doesn't arrive until three.

Let the meeting begin.

At dinner time we walk to a nearby French restaurant (but of course, for these travelers to France) where we have dinner reservations.

Good menu. Several things I might like.

I choose crab cakes. Delish.

The cheesecake fits the cliché: to die for. Not to mention, gorgeous.

We take a leisurely stroll back to the house, past rows of Victorian houses.  One street's homes are decorated with flags and lanterns. Maybe an Asian holiday?

Lace curtains. I have a mini collection of lace curtain photos.

And from the inside. Different views of the same thing.

A wall hanging by the well-known quilt artist, Sue Benner, hanging against the silver and white wallpaper, looks almost transparent in the photo. I didn't get that sense in person.

Her signature and details of the quilting.

We two long distance travelers are staying over night here. The chatting about trip plans continues into the evening. We'd taken care of renting a house in France several months ago. Today we rent a car and find train tickets, We discuss our wardrobe choices, they'll be more casual than the usual selected for large tours. We pencil in some possibilities as to where we'd like to go in Provence on our days with the house and car. We'll have days in Paris at the end, but make no concrete plans yet.

On Sunday as I leave, I ask the Google lady to take me by Costco on the way home. I have to make a return. Last time I went to Costco back after Son's wedding,  I bought printer cartridges for my new printer. New since Christmas, anyway, when the old one broke down part way into printing my Christmas cards. Only I bought the cartridges for my old model printer. Familiarity with the cartridge number, I guess. I want to return them, and, maybe, get the right ones.

There is no such thing as going to Costco and doing a simple replacement. I cram my basket load all into back seat, because my mat, blanket, and rolling backpack hog the trunk.

On the way I pass the San Luis Reservoir, with a capacity of something like 2 million acre feet. I can't find a turn out that gives a view of the true paucity of water in the reservoir. I think when full that it must come up close to the level of where I'm standing.  A ferocious wind is blowing.

The drive home goes well until I'm on the grade climbing up our mountain, when three errant RVers (two motor homes towing motor vehicles, one truck towing a trailer) turn up the shortcut. I settle back for an elongated trip up the hill. There's a sign forbidding them, a huge sign with half the vehicle code printed on it. Drivers traveling by GPS turn up the steep narrow road before they absorb the messages on the sign and then it's too late. I post this picture on my Facebook page and get well over 100 comments. A first, by far.

I had help getting the flat of Juice Squeeze into and out of my shopping cart at Costco. Too heavy. I finally manage to get it out of the car and into the garage without having to cut off the plastic and carry the 38 bottle two by two.

Kitties are happy to see me.


* In breaking news, a reunion of the Writing From the Heart workshop participants is on. "Essoyes," as we call it, provided the germination for Traveling Sardine Class. See this. The reunion will begin a couple of days after the Four Friends tour.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Gearing up for Fall

Just a short update . . . The ladies at NeedleCrafts have been knitting and crocheting up a storm all summer, in prep for Fall craft fairs in our little town. They've tried to set up a few fairs on not-the-regular dates, and coordinating the scheduling and venues got too complex. So I think I heard them say today that they'd be setting up on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. If I'm wrong, I'll tell you later. That is a ways off.

I think I've included some of their work in regular blog posts, but I'll just show a few of the things that came in today.

This first one is not for sale. Barbara has been making this shrug for herself and finished it up this week. You can sort of see the back in the mirror (and I left myself in the mirror, too). Click it to enlarge to note all the spiffy detail in the back. It creates a nicely defined waistline, although I don't think there's anything that would define my waistline. It will be a cozy winter warm-me-up. I won't be surprised to see several more under construction.

Barbara brought in this book on how to knit or crochet hats for your cats. Sorry for the fuzzy picture. It's reflection off the book cover that I didn't see until I opened the pic here.

The kitties in their hats are adorable.

          "What cat will let someone put a hat on it?  Mine wouldn't."

          "Mine neither. But when my grand kids were little, they had a kitty they dressed up all the time and she was very cool with it."

          "We can make some for the craft fair."

          "No cat will let anyone put a hat on it. Mine wouldn't."

          "Maybe kittens that grow up with little kids are more tolerant of being dressed up."

          "My cat would never let anybody put a hat on it."

          "Hey. Some of these would fit an 18" doll. We can make them for dolls."

          "We'll have to leave the ear holes off."

To your needles, ladies.

Was it Judy  It was Liz who brought in all these little hats for infants.? These little ones often get donated to the nurseries at the hospitals or at women's shelters.

More from Barbara. These little baby sweaters are as soft as baby bunnies. (I'm not sure I've ever patted a baby bunny, but it's how I imagine.) She has another one underway.

We had 12 needlecrafters here today, and a couple of ladies who dropped by to check us out. I got too absorbed in my project to wander around capturing what everyone was doing. There is an amazing variety. I'll try to remember next week.