Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We're Home


We arrived home on Monday evening actually. After 24 hours of travel by foot, elevator, escalator, moving sidewalk, train, plane, and automobile. So you'll forgive me that I didn't get to the computer that night. I managed to stay up another few hours to make it officially bedtime in our returning timezone and then I was asleep.

My mom stayed an extra day so we could visit with her on our return, so yesterday I spent time with her and started the long process of uploading my photos so I could use/print them. Today I take my mom back to the airport and then it's back to life as usual. Well, life as unusual is more par for the course around here. So back to that then.

More details soon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flowers, flowers, flowers

Today went out of Paris to Giverny to visit Monet's Garden. I've been to the Butchardt Gardens on Vancouver Island, Canada, and they were huge and elegant and impressive. By that standard, Monet's garden is small and wild. But without a doubt, it wins my heart. It was so full of ........ color, flowers, color, beauty, birds, color, charm, color, and a sort of love of nature so that the garden tried to amplify the beauty that is already there instead of shaping it to something we think might be better.

And Monet's home - I've wanted to live in the Aunt's house from Practical Magic for many years. I might have to switch to wanting to live in Monet's beautiful color filled home.

Gonna run out of time here any second. Just thought I'd do a quick check in. One more day in Paris tomorrow - we are going to the flea market in the morning and then who knows, our last night in Paris. The next day we take the train back to London where we will have an evening there and flying home on Monday. It's been a long trip but wonderful. I'll have a bazillion stories and photos once I return home.

A bientot!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pardon, My Loyal Readers

Alas, I had forgotten about the French keyboard. Half the keys are the same as an American keyboard, half are different, which makes for slow and painful typing and colorful language. Too, it's been more difficult than I expected to find an internet cafe open when we need one. But despite my lack of promised communications, be assured we are having a marvelous time. It was a pretty exhausting pace with Sam and Kyla here. They left yesterday and we had a down day to run errands and do laundry and just undo some of the traveler's exhaustion that had caught up with us.
Today is good and we are off to the Musee D'Orsay.

About to run out of time here at the cafe.

Au Revoir!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

First Day

We made it here, after what seemed like two full days of traveling and losing an entire night on the way over. We added a day because we had to pick my mom up at the airport a day ahead of time and then stay in Reno to catch a wee a.m. flight. Didn't get much sleep on Saturday night. It's a long plane ride, made even longer by the fact that we had to go east on a puddle hopper to San Francisco first to pick up a long flight west straight to London. A three hour layover in San Francisco turned into a two hour flight delay in Reno instead and then just enough time to get to our boarding gate in "San Fran" as the flight attendant called it. The flight was uneventful - except for that first long delay - but oooooohhhh sooooo looooong. i thought of Deb's awful plane experience last month. Ugh. We got a couple hours of sleep. You just can't do much in those tiny upright seats.

We made it in to Heathrow early this morning - at what would be around 1 a.m. our regular time zone. Sam and Kyla were thrilled to see us and had already made London their new hometown. We had to stay up all day so we can sleep tonight and be on the right time zone schedule. We decided to do the one thing I most wanted to do first, go to the Moroccan restaurant. We couldn't find it, asked a zillion people and got almost a zillion answers, finally found not the original restaurant that William and I had eaten at, but a second restaurant run by the same people. Sam was really leery but when the food came and was delicious, we all declared the experience a huge success. The rest of the day we've been wandering around - St. Paul's Cathedral - we decided not to pay to go inside. Walked across the Thames on the pedestrian bridge to the Tate Modern, which Sam found "interesting" - he entertained us by naming the art exhibits silly names. We also went to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square and that went over better. Hubby and I were oohing and ahhing over all the paintings and Sam and Kyla weren't familiar with 99% of the artists. So, I guess hubby and I leave the museum visiting until after the kids fly home.

We just had a very nice Italian dinner and a quick stop at the internet cafe and FINALLY it's late enough to go get some sleep. I'm looking forward to being refreshed and relaxed tomorrow.

It's so fun to be back here in London, but also a bit surreal. It doesn't seem like it can really be true. And being back, it's interesting - some things I thought I remembered, all seem new to me again. Other things that enchanted me the first time - seem "ordinary" this time around as I already know about them. Still amusing, but not amazing. Well, gonna run out of time here. So, ta ta until next check in.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sunday, April 13, 2008


This trip isn't just all about me, although hopefully we'll spend a lot of time pretending it is. Hehe. But no, our son Sam and his girlfriend Kyla will be joining us for the first five days. And hubby of course. So, although I'm looking forward to food, museums, walks, photo opportunities, beautiful architecture, babbling my few dozen words of French....... if William on the last trip was any indication of how things will go, hubby and Sam will be over the moon about all the interesting cars of Europe. Here's a photo of two of hubby's most recent obsessions, a Mini and a Smart car.

Update on yesterday's post: It did take most of the day to pack. Amazingly, I managed to make everything fit without much trouble. My luggage is full, but not snug. The only glitch was I couldn't find my midsized backpack I planned on using as my one personal carry on item. I hunted everywhere for it and finally gave up and went to Walmart, my only option. They had such slim pickings. I settled on a computer shaped tote so that I could use it for carrying my laptop in the future.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Three. Two. One. Whatever. Ack!

Today is Day Three of my countdown and yes, we fly off three days from now. But, in a lot of ways, today is day two, because we leave home Sunday morning. We have to pick my mom up at the airport and then she's driving our car back but we're staying behind in Reno for the evening as we have an early morning Monday flight. The cost of the gas to drive back and forth and back again, plus having to get up at something like 3:30 am to get to the airport on time - easier and cheaper to just stay the night. So our vacation really starts tomorrow.

Or you could call today Day One as it's the LAST day I have to do anything and everything that has to be done before we leave. Miraculously, I'm actually on the place on my list where I wanted to be by now. Taxes are done - WHEW! Except for those little things that have to be done at the very last minute (make some computer mail changes, make the bed, grab a coffee) I'm down to cleaning the house and packing.

In a fantasy world my house would have been completely clean and vacationlike for my mom's arrival - spotless bathrooms, fresh flowers on the table, meals cooked and stacked in the fridge (actually my mom asked us to let her buy what she wants to eat), new magazines spread appealingly across the coffee table.... The reality of course is that we managed the basics - a clean kitchen floor, clean bathrooms (maybe), fresh sheets on the bed, vacumned rug in the living room, toss out the less than fresh vegetables from the refrigerator bins. Of course this won't come as a surprise to my mother. I'm actually somewhat surprised I managed to declutter a lot of things like the kitchen table, the kitchen counters, the top of the dryer, the living room end tables and coffee table - so she won't have to worry about finding a spot to set down her cup of tea at night, or worry about mysterious crashing sounds at night as the cats skid across a pile and knock it to the floor. So, cleaning, what more of it I'll attempt, is well in hand.

Packing is a completely different creature altogether. This task is a huge tropical storm I'm going to try to organize and suck into two small carry on pieces of luggage. I've got lists, hopefully complete ones. I've got piles started, but sitting all over the house. And the clothing itself is just piled about the bedroom in and atop dressers and hung or tossed in the closet. To pack, I need to ORGANIZE and SORT through virtually my entire wardrobe. I might have to try outfits on as well. Check and re-check weather outlooks. And ultimately, make hard decisions.

Hubby's packing is much less of an EVENT than mine. He tried on a few pairs of pants yesterday for me to yah/nay. I bought him a pack of new socks. A few minutes ago he pulled out his new backpack and with a bit of help from me in selecting t-shirts, he'd pretty much finished his packing in less than ten minutes.

I'll be lucky if I can finish packing by the end of the day. You know what they say - Men are from Mars, Women are from Macy's, Target, Mervyns, Chico's, Shoe Pavillion, Hot Topic, Old Navy, and Ross.


When William and I visited England, we spent many hours ahead of time wondering about the different English meals we'd sample. We'd heard a lot of names but we didn't know what they actually consisted of - well, except for Fish and Chips. One of the first pubs we ate in I spied Bangers and Mash on the menu and had to give it a try. Oh! Sausages and mashed potatoes (usually served with a side of peas - although that's not particularly special as it seems quite a few things arrived with a side of peas).

I grew up in the Midwest where there were many northern European variations on this dish. Yum. I make my own version from time to time, usually with vegetarian sausages, although on occasion with a fancy sausage of some sort - apple and walnut turkey sausage, or something spicy. Even, although not for ages, my childhood favorite - bockwurst. I enjoyed the British variety - the sausage varied a bit from place to place, but they were all good. I'm looking forward to finding time to have another go at a plate of these during the couple of days we'll be in London.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I don't know where this image was taken, someplace in Paris. But it's a pretty typical street. I chose the photo because it shows a building about the same height as the building our rental apartment will be in. Our flat will be on the fourth floor and there is no lift. There were other apartments available with lifts or on lower floors, but this one was closer in to the center of Paris for a lower price - I'm guessing it was because of the lack of lift. But we decided it was a fair trade - a better location and price for a bit more physical exertion. William and I managed tall buildings on our trip on several occasions and were none the worse for it. (William might disagree - we were on the fourth floor (or was it the fifth?) when he injured his ankle in London).

A few of the more observant readers might be saying to themselves right about now - but wait, that building has FIVE floors, so you won't be on the top floor. Au contraire! If you're an American, you're counting five floors because you call the ground floor the first floor. If you're in the UK or France (don't know about other places, but I'm guessing most of Europe follows suit) then you know that the ground floor is called the ground floor but not the first floor and the second floor is the first floor and called the first floor not the second floor. Which means the third floor is really only the second and the fourth is only the third.... Confused? But honestly, once you get used to it, I think it actually makes a lot more sense.

It might even be considered an extra benefit to climb four flights of stairs several times a day (or perhaps more than four flights of stairs - some of those older buildings have two flights of stairs between each floor) since we'll be getting a free cardiovascular workout if we plan on leaving the building each day. And they don't even charge us for the built-in work out room... er, stairwell.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I'm planning on picking up a new scarf or two for my wardrobe while I'm Paris. I've discovered the best kind of mementos are the practical sort that touches a memory each and every time it's worn or handled. I've been checking the weather forecasts for both London and Paris and it looks like the temperatures are going to be lower in both cities than what's forecast for the same time up here in the mountains! So I might have to bring at least one scarf along to wear until I find myself a new one. But, we'll see. I'll wait until the last minute to decide - weather is nothing if not changeable.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Holiday Photos #32 - Paris

Last Holiday Photo post we were leaving England and here's where we ended up - recognize that metal structure peeking out behind William?

I've been impatient to share our Paris photos but was determined to work my way methodically and chronologically through each day of our trip, so I'm only now, on the brink of a return trip, getting to them. Never in a million years would I have anticipated this twist in things. I thought I would have time to finish up the rest of the photos from our (Willliam and mine's) trip but then I got sick and I jumped into the countdown series so, hmmmm, unlikely.
Perhaps I'll be a bit less thorough with how many photos I share (with the expectation of taking so many new photos soon!), but I'll just keep muddling through even if I don't finish up until after we get back from this next visit. After all, I'm one of those people who can never get enough of other people's travel trips. And although a few people probably think it's time to "move on", I know quite a few readers still look forward to my these holiday pictures in particular.

I took this photo from atop the Eiffel Tower of course. I took quite a few photos up there but I wanted to share this one because it showed a couple of things - it is a city of white. Coming from the UK, where the buildings, depending on which part of the island we were in, were red or yellow or deep charcoal grey, I was struck by the whiteness of the buildings of Paris. I didn't know this until I visited. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco. No wonder they are considered sister cities by so many people, including myself. Also, look at all the green as well. I just recently read that Paris has more trees within the city limits than any other city.

William and I wandered around and stumbled upon a lot of interesting or famous places without deliberately seeking them out - like this organic building. I've seen other photos of it online since I took these photos - but I still don't know the name or purpose of the building.

William's checking it out - yep, those are living plants.

You probably recognize that building in the background too. Notre Dame. I like this photo because it doesn't focus on just one thing but gives more the sense of being surrounded by the many things. It's the swirling of it all that creates the many energies and moods that is Paris. I particularly liked the two people sitting quietly on the empty walkway along the river. (If you click to enlarge, you'll see there are two birds keeping the two people company. And no, I didn't notice the people OR the birds when I took the photo. I only discovered that I had captured them after the fact.) Do you recognize that walkway from the movie An American in Paris? I saw that movie first as a young girl and it was one of the first scenes that I watched and thought "So romantic!"

Here I am halfway across a bridge. I don't know which one, I think this one was just off of Notre Dame. This is one of my favorite photos from the entire trip. You can see I'd already realized I was illegal - walking around sans scarf, and I had purchased this long, green, cotton beauty. I wore scarves quite frequently before this but primarily the fuzzy knit or woven wool winter variety. I had a pretty large bandana scarf collection as well and wore them on my head almost constantly in my late teens and early twenties. In the years just prior to this trip I'd also discovered the ease and pleasure of the oversized sarong/shawl sized scarf. But I guess you could say this scarf was the beginning of my scarf collection as it was the scarf where I realized I actually collected them, that I had more scarves than your average woman (well, maybe average American woman). It was the link in styles that sealed my fate as a year round scarf wearer.

Of course, you know what happens when you finally figure out you are collecting something, right? Yep, you collect more! I'm not planning on bringing any scarves with me on our new visit (well, maybe ONE) - I'd rather have the fun of finding some new scarves while I'm traveling and then they'll be not only beautiful but also a beautiful memento.

One more photo of me hanging out with some tough looking chicks. I don't know but I assume these might be Amazons? If you click to open this photo you should be able to make out that my companions are barebreasted. It was a bit chilly for me to follow suit. Too, I thought the other people wandering about in front of the Musee D'Orsay might object to my more well worn pair.

Yawwwwn, time to take to my bed. It's late (early?) and very cold. Did you know it SNOWED here today!? Sheesh! But hey, better it snow here than what it's been doing in the last week, which is snowing over in Europe. I'm planning a SPRING vacation folks!

I'll try to get more photos up tomorrow.

Oh, I almost forgot! There's more. Over at Laume's Studio you'll find photos from inside the Louvre. Obviously, had to put the art photos up on my art blog - classy it up a bit.

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Six skulls out of six MILLION resting, hopefully peacefully, in the catacombs beneath the city of Paris. Sam and Kyla want to visit the catacombs, so I'll be returning for a second visit. I was glad William and I visited it on our last visit but I wouldn't call it an enjoyable experience so much as an interesting and intense one. There are many signs, all of them in French of course, throughout the visitor's path. Maybe this time I'll be able to pick out a few words here and there and understand them better. Or rather, understand them a bit. I didn't understand them AT ALL before.

What I'm more excited about this trip is visiting some of Paris' resting departed slightly closer to the surface, in the city's cemeteries. William and I stumbled into and wandered through one of the cemeteries last time. It took me quite a bit of research to finally figure out which one it was - Montparnasse. Perhaps we'll visit it again this time, and also the cemetery in Montmartre. I also hope to visit the most famous cemetery, Pere Lachaise. Jeff has put in a request to find Jim Morrison's grave there. I was never a raging Doors fan, so I don't particularly care one way or another, but there are a lot of other famous people buried in Pere Lachaise and of course bountiful photo ops.

I would have shared a photo of some of the above ground crypts but, alas, I couldn't find a photo to match one of the remaining numbers. Technically one isn't allowed to take photos in the cemeteries (which I did not know when I took photos last time), but apparently they look the other way in these three particular locations.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Countdown Confusion

I'm still not sleeping much at night because of the necessity to breath. Attempts at horizontalness starts up these coughing jags of King Kong proportions. So I lay down for five minutes, cough for ten minutes, go into the living room to try to salvage hubby's slumber, and then come back in resigned for more plumping of pillows and reading. I've also been doing computer work, light housekeeping, and listmaking in the wee hours - at least I'm doing something productive.

Yesterday I made an updated To Do list I have to complete before we leave. I felt better looking at it, things seem well in hand. Full of last minute frantic rushing around, but still, par for the course for me and unlike my holiday To Do lists, not insanely impossible. That is, I felt better until my mom pointed out that my countdown was off by several days. No, no, I assured her. I did the math on the calendar again just to be sure. Seven, six, five.... Yep. We arrive in London next Teusday.

And then I had a mental double take - but there was something...... oh dear. We might be arriving in London on Teusday, but we will be out the door here on Sunday. So, factoring in half of today is already gone....... only four and a half days left to get ready!



This is how many suitcases I'd like to bring with me on the trip. One suitcase just for shoes, another for assorted sweaters and jackets, one for toiletries, scarves, jewelry, umbrella and miscellaneous, a fourth for computer, phone, and camera equipment, the fifth for multiple outfits, the sixth to bring gifts to hand out randomly - maybe smuggle Rosie over with me, and the last giant suitcase empty so I could fill it up with goodies I want to bring back home.

Alas, I was skirting the edge of my ability to handle my own luggage on my last trip with one midsize rolling tote and a medium sized sling backpack. Whenever I find myself thinking - "maybe I should bring a third pair of shoes" or "I might need a dress" I think of the miserable moments trying to get my zipper to shut or when multiple staircases made it impossible to roll my tote and I come to my senses. No, not this time. My plan is to bring that medium sized sling backpack, this time just half full, and a rolling back pack only a third the size of the rolling tote I brought last time.

If I simply can't reduce down that much with the bare necessities, I bought a sturdy new tote just in case, as long as I don't use it just as an excuse to bring more stuff. (I stuffed my old tote so full I broke the main zipper on it.) It's a squeeze smaller than my first rolling tote so I bought it thinking it would qualify as carry on but when I got it home and measured, it's a half inch too wide. Sigh. Hmmmm, I just realized I could bring it with me to the airport when we pick up my mom (our gracious holder down of the fort person) and try it in the little metal test box - if it fits I could bring it, if it doesn't fit, I send it home with my mom. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to have to check it through at the airport, but I'd rather avoid it, for the obvious I'd-like-my-luggage-to-arrive-at-the-same-time-and-place-as-me reasons. Still, I'm considering it because it would be nice if my stuff was more loosely packed. I'd be willing to put up with a bit more bulk if it didn't mean more weight and then I'd have the option of filling it up with goodies and checking it back through on the way home.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could use a levitating spell like Harry Potter so my luggage could simply float along beside me? Or maybe I could have luggage with a capital L - Luggage - like The Tourist, and later Rincewind, that just followed along on it's multiple legs? (Plus, a ferocious luggage like that would come in handing for protecting my passport and monies!) Or perhaps I can find some place that sells carpet bags like Mary Poppins that appear to hold unlimited belongings without adding a speck of extra weight? Or better yet, just travel by Tardis - tiny blue box on the outside, unlimited storage room on the inside!

Sigh.... Unfortunately, I think I'll have to come up with a mundane, muggle solution to my luggage problems.

On my To Do List still before we go - do a dress (and socks and toothbrush and shirts and...) rehearsal packing.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Macarons! Not macaroons, the coconut filled American cookie, but French macarons. Apparently one thinks of macarons and Paris as "macarons and Paris", as a single thought, in the same way one thinks "English and tea", "San Francisco and Rice a Roni (although seriously folks, that's so not true - think "San Francisco and sourdough" or "San Francisco and cioppino" if you want to be taken seriously), "New York and bagels", "New Orleans and gumbo" - you get the idea.

I don't remember how or when I first heard about macarons - alas, not when I was actually in Paris. It was afterwards, blog hopping through Francophiles' blogs methinks. Regardless, from the moment I first laid eyes on a picture of them, I have been fascinated - no, make that OBSESSED with tasting one. Or, as you can see that they come in assorted colors, signifying assorted flavors, I'm obsessed with tasting three or four or ten of them.

When I was a little girl I had a story book about a girl and a magic pot of custard. I don't remember the title and I don't know what ever happened to it. I no longer have it. I don't even remember the story that well except that it followed along the general theme of The Sorcerer's Apprentice where a pot of custard would refill to keep a poor family fed but one day it is abused and overflows, refusing to stop until everyone was drowning in custard and the little girl comes and saves the day by saying the magic words and a morality lesson about the consequences of greed is learned by all. (Run on sentence - gasp! - take a deep breath) What I do remember vividly is that I was fascinated with the pictures, particularly the custard, which was a creamy yellow. As far as I knew, I had never in my life tasted custard, in fact I didn't know what custard was except that it appeared to be something like pudding. And yet I somehow knew from the illustrations that it was NOT pudding, nor would it taste or feel like pudding. I knew it wouldn't taste like anything I'd ever tasted and yet at the same time I knew exactly how it would taste and feel iin my mouth and I craved it, longed for it passionately.

Years later - many years later - we're talking two, three decades later, I was offered an unusual dessert for the first time at a Mexican Restaurant. Flan. Flan WAS the custard of my childhood fantasy! It tasted just right and it had the exactly perfect "mouth feel" that I expected it to have, entirely different from anything I'd ever tasted before. (Two days ago I had my very first creme caramel and it too tasted just right - creme caramel must be the French equivalent of flan.)

That's how I feel about French Macarons. I do not KNOW how they taste but I IMAGINE how they taste - more wonderful than mundane every day fare. They must, I believe, taste magical. Finding and biting into my first macaron is up there in the first things I want to do after arriving in Paris. Of course, part of me knows that the experience may not be anything close to my fantasy. I might be disappointed. There's even the (slim) possibility that I won't like them much at all. But then again, they might be a food from the Gods, just as I imagine. It's worth the risk to find out.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Don't forget (but then, how could you, possibly, with my frequent kindly reminders!) that we're not only going to be in Paris, we're also spending some time in London. And London means pubs. One of our London evenings is scheduled for some pub hopping, something I did not get to do when traveling with my fourteen year old son last trip, something I think Sam, the twenty two year old son who's traveling with us this time around, will enjoy immensely! As will his girlfriend Kyla. As will hubby! As will I!

Not that I plan to do a lot of drinking. I'm not a fan of over consumption. Hand me a glass of wine (or two), a magarita (just one please), a Kahlua and coffee, or other alcoholic beverage, and I can happily make it last all night. I'm also not a beer fan, which is unfortunate since the terms "pub" and "pint" (of ale) are sort of lonely without being used together. I might order myself a shandy, something my friend Kristen familiarized me with on my last trip. Those I rather like.

No, it's not the drinking that is the lure of pub hopping, it's the pubs themselves. We don't really have the equivalent here in the U.S. In our large cosmopolitan cities you have an occasional imported British or Irish pub but it's not the same out of context. That kind of pub doesn't function as a neighborhood hang out for anyone but the few nearby urban dwellers and incoming wannabes. In England, a pub is the hub (hah! I'm a poet, didn't know it!) of the village, town, street or neighborhood it is nestled in.

I can't remember the last time I even set foot in a bar here in America, but William and I had lunch in numerous pubs when we were in the UK. We even stayed in a room above one in Wales. No one takes a child into an American bar, but I felt completely comfortable with William at a pub. We usually saw a sign stating children were welcome until 8 or 9 pm, or had to be accompanied by an adult and had to be dining after those hours. Many pubs had gardens or dining room table areas as well as spots near the bar. Some looked like an older, nicer U.S. bar inside, but a lot more of them were so old and had been frequented for so many centuries that they had a sort of "no sharp edges" feel to them, like one was visiting a hobbit establishment in the heart of the Shire.

I suppose a TGIF or Applebee's Restaurant tries to provide the same combination of food, drink, and companionship opportunities, but they miss the boat somehow. They're too commercial for one, the energy is too high for another. Really the only thing that comes close to an English Pub to my mind, is the Midwestern taverns of my childhood. There was always one or two taverns in every town, no matter how small, and they all had their regular customers. And they weren't called bars, they were taverns. Maybe the East Coast has/had similar places, we don't have the equivalent out here in the West, at least not consistently. (Same thing for what we called "Supper Clubs" back east - not the same as just a "restaurant". Although, I've stumbled upon a few Italian owned places out west here that feel the same.) Hopefully Midwestern taverns still have this same sort of multi -purpose ambience, but maybe not. Maybe they were as much a part of a specific time as location.

In any case, a pub for lunch isn't quite the same experience as a pub with your mates and a few pints for the evening and that's the plan - no children allowed. (William thinks we're evil for a) counting him as a child and b) leaving him behind this time.)

Saturday, April 05, 2008


What in the world......?...... yes, ten tissues. I was kind. I didn't use a flash because, ugh, you don't really want to see details, correct? And what does this have to do with travel, you're wondering? Well, not much, except that I only have ten days to recover from the crud I finally managed to catch from - EVERYBODY. I do believe I'm the last person in town to catch what has been going around for months.

UGH. I feel so crappy. There's the stuffy nose, blow, blow, blow, blow - as evidenced in the photo above. Didn't take me too long to collect enough for the photo.

Then there's the Pressure Head, so that my eyes hurt and my ears hurt and my thoughts seem locked away in individual rooms with double insulation between them so that no individual thought can connect up or communicate with any other individual thought. Thinking beyond basic cause and affect (drip/blow, need oxygen/breath, dog bark/bang on wall) is difficult.

And of course the cosmetic side affects - if I don't get better soon, I'll look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Tourist.

Last and definitely least pleasant, coughing spells until I'm afraid I'm going to pass out - or cough up a lung.

No, maybe the pounding headaches, with a coating of migraine symptoms is least pleasant. Or maybe the worst was having to choose between breathing or sleeping, managing to do both simultaneously for only a couple of hours sometime AFTER the sun rose this morning.

I can't decide. It requires thinking, and juggling that much information at one time is too daunting a task at the moment. Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Apparently Paris is just as famous for it's chocolate as it is for it's bread. Who knew!? Well, I guess - EVERYBODY. 'Cept me, when I was there. So it never occurred to me to find and sample any during my first trip. I plan to correct this oversight this time 'round. In fact, I think I need to overcompensate for my lack of previous chocolate sampling. Calories don't count when you're on vacation - right?

Thursday, April 03, 2008


It's harder to find "number related" images than I thought. But fortunately, I happened to have twelve travel books sitting on my coffee table. Okay, so there's actually thirteen books on the table, but one is so teeny tiny that it wouldn't show up in the photo, so I didn't include it. A few of these are from our last trip, some were from the Bargain section of Barnes & Noble, more were local thrift store finds, and the last of them were a belated but perfect Christmas gift from my sister Laurie - it arrived this last week. She apologized profusely for taking three months plus to send something but she didn't need to bother - apologizing that is. It's a lot more fun to receive a box of goodies in the mail in the spring, when we didn't expected it.

Some of these I'm reading, some I'm just browsing or looking things up in, a few I won't get to crack open until I get back, but that's just fine, I'll probably enjoy them even more once I'm back and full of memories that need regular tending.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Thirteen loaves of bread. No one does bread like the French.

Some fantastic bread, a bit of sweet butter, a hot cup of tea or coffee - and that's a meal.

I like good bread. I used to get fresh breads almost daily when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. French Sourdough, Sonoma Bagel Company, Alverado Street Bakery loaves.... bread isn't meant to last a week in a bread box. It's tough here to find good bread. I tend to buy and freeze it so at least it's fresh frozen.

No one makes pastry like the French either, for that matter. I've never been much of a pastry lover..... until I went to Paris and discovered pastry worth the calories! Seriously. I would get all misty eyed when I first came back home, thinking of all those wonderful warm apple tarts, almond croissants, and chocolate brioche so far out of reach!

William and I stumbled upon a patisserie - boulangerie? - in Montparnasse. In the 14th arrondissement. Of course we didn't know that's where we were at the time, we only knew we were trying to find Les Catacombs. Turned out that we had gone on a day they were closed, so we noticed this bakery with a line of people out the door. We got in line, bought a bag full of "breakfast", and carried it a few doors down to a small park where we sat on a bench and shared the mouthwatering pastries with each other and a small flock of kick ass city sparrows that fought off the ever constant pigeons for the crumbs. It was so delicious that I was somewhat pleased that we'd have to return another day to visit the catacombes - another chance to frequent this bakery. Since it wasn't in a particularly touristy part of the city, and because of the aforementioned line out the door, and the lack of English speaking employees, I suspect we had discovered a local favorite. I just mapquested the streets and I think it was on Avenue Defert-Rochereau.

Perhaps we'll go back there with Sam and Kyla, as they want to to visit the catacombs on one of their two days in Paris. And then hubby and I will have to do a taste test of other establishments to see if all the pastry is just as delicious.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fourteen Days and Counting

In fourteen days I'll be headed to London and then eventually to Paris. EXCITED I am! Also, STRESSED! I have a lot to get done before I can take off guilt free for two weeks of chocolate, wine, museums, cafes, and all things Europe-y. I thought since I've slacked off recently on my annoying "reminding of my travel plans" and some of you might have somehow forgotten that I'm going to Paris, that I should start a countdown from this point onward. Here's something appropriately artsy and museum-y for fourteen days -

Fourteen Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh.