Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I really love my yard, especially at this time of the year. Today I took my camera outside and took some pictures so I thought I'd post them here. It is a glorious day. It's 72 degrees; the sun is shining; the sky is blue; and there's a refreshing breeze.

I love the tangle of branches of these pine trees.

This is what we see from the house, looking towards the road.

I found a lady slipper in the woods!

Here's the ground. I have no grass, just this mossy stuff, some lichen and some low flowers.

This is my meditation bench. I try to decorate it seasonally, but haven't bought any spring flowers yet. I call it the Henge.

I found this momma bird while I was taking pictures. She looks like she's trying to hold still so I don't see her. This is right outside the front door. It doesn't get used much.

Another lady slipper!

Soon I will have a beautiful peony. This is right under the bird's nest.

This is where I want to put the tree honoring my Dad. You can see it's sunny when I took the picture, but it won't be for long. I guess it only gets 2-3 hours of sun per day, because of all the trees that shade my whole yard.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It was a gorgeous weekend weather-wise. And the bonus is that there's one more day. I had a fair to middling bead day yesterday; today was better. We went to the garden center up the road to see about a flowering tree. I'm not sure a tree is our best option as where we want to put it gets only a little sun each day. Our yard is so shady and the ornamental trees need sun 6-8 hours per day. So I need to rethink my plan. We put out the hummingbird feeder but so far none have found it. Everything is so green because of the rain we've had. My lilies of the valley are in bloom and when you step out onto the porch, it's all you can smell. It's heavenly.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I took this picture at night - obviously - by balancing my camera on the wall and hoping that it was still enough to capture the image. I think I did OK. This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.
This is a clown taking a break and smoking a cigarette. I find him odd - kind of like a tough-guy clown who's had a hard life.
This is me and Robert in front of a very cool painting at the Pompidou.
And of course, the Eiffel Tower from the Bateau Mouche.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When I am Old...

When I am old, I will wear soft gray sweatshirts
and a bandana over my silver hair
and I will spend my social security checks on wine and my dogs.

I will sit in my house on my well-worn chair
and listen to my dogs' breathing.
I will sneak out in the middle of a warm summer night
and take my dogs for a run, if my old bones will allow...

When people come to call, I will smile
and nod as I show them my dogs and talk of them and about them
the ones so beloved of the past
and the ones so beloved of today
I will still work hard cleaning after them,
mopping and feeding them and whispering their names
in a soft loving way.

I will wear the gleaming sweat on my throat,
like a jewel and I will be an embarrassment to all
especially my family who have not yet found
the peace in being free to have dogs as your best friends

These friends who always wait, at any hour, for your footfall
and eagerly jump to their feet out of a sound sleep,
to greet you as if you are a God.
With warm eyes
full of adoring love and hope that you will always stay,
I'll hug their big strong necks
I'll kiss their dear sweet heads
and whisper in their very special company.

I look in the Mirror and see I am getting old
this is the kind of person I am and have always been.
Loving dogs is easy, they are part of me.
Please accept me for who I am.
My dogs appreciate my presence in their lives
they love my presence in their lives
When I am old this will be important to me
you will understand when you are old if you have dogs to love too.
~ Author Unknown ~

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's good to be home, but this weather sure is icky. I'm itching to make some beads and I think tomorrow is the day. Going to France was a good thing for me. It kind of allowed me to step away from my sorrow for a while. Somehow my Dad's being gone wasn't as in my face as it usually is when I'm home. It was kind of nice, but still every once in a while it would come rushing back and I'd just think to myself "I can't believe my Dad's dead". But those times were fewer inbetween there than they are here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We're home. We fell asleep last night around 9:00 pm and woke up around 5:00 am, all because of the time change. We went out to breakfast and I picked up the dogs and Gary, who are all very happy to be home. So today I'm just doing things like laundry, unpacking and all the non-fun part of coming home after traveling.

I found out that while I was gone, my mother was admitted to the hospital with a heartrate of 30. I hate the fact that people try to hide things like this from me while I'm gone. They did it to me when I was on my QM2 trip last year about Barney having a seizure. It really ticks me off that they don't tell me these things. I was completely accessible by email, so getting in touch was not a problem. I thought after the Barney incident, I had made my feelings known, but somehow they were overlooked. In any event, my mother is OK; she took the wrong pill or some such thing. She's out and is going to be fine.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Well, here it is, our last night in Paris. This morning we woke up a little on the late side, but that's OK. It's our vacation. We went to Hermes and did a little shopping there. Their scarves are so pretty. And the salespeople were extra-nice, I don't care what Oprah says. If she had been there on time, they would have let her in. It had nothing to do with her color. Anyway, after shopping, we went to Delizie d'Uggiano for lunch. We ate at that restaurant twice last time we were in Paris, so we had to go back for the tortellini aux truffes. Yum! I just love truffles. After lunch we came back to the hotel for a nap. We slept for a long time, during which time it rained. So that made us not want to wake up even more. After our nap, Robert went out to get some money and a macaron. He found "La Maison du Chocolat" and he brought back some goodies from there. He got a little lost coming back, but eventually found his way back to the hotel. About 8:15, we left the hotel to go find some dinner and wound up at "Royal Madeleine" a place that Sarah, Bob and I had eaten at last time in Paris, too. It's not unusual for parisians to return to the same restaurant(s) over and over, so we're just doing as the parisians do. We had wine, and foie gras and creme brulee and life is good.

Tomorrow our plane leaves at 1:30, so this is my last blog entry from France for now. I am so thankful and happy that I made the decision to come along with Robert on his trip. It has been wonderful and hasn't done anything to dissuade my opinion of France and her people. A bientot! Vive la France!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's midnight and we just got back to the hotel, so this is going to be short. This morning we went to breakfast to Angelina's on Caroline's recommendation. It was yummy, and we couldn't even finish. The hot chocolate was like drinking a liquid candy bar it was so rich. After breakfast, we headed to the Centre Pompidou to meet Laurel - a lampworker living in Paris who I know from online and meeting once at a bead show - and her French husband Cedric. We met up with them just as an enormous rainstorm blew up. The wind was whipping the rain sideways. It came up so quickly, too. Luckily we were right at the museum so we scooted inside. So we saw the modern art which was great. Then we went to a brasserie for a limonade and a diet coke. After that, we went on le Bateau Mouche - a cruise on the river Seine. Then we went to the St. Michel section of Paris for dinner. I had a yummy potato, ham and cheese casserole. Then we walked over L'ile de la cite and saw Notre Dame all lit up and took the Metro home. When we got out at La Concorde, the Tour Eiffel was all lit up and sparkling, which it does for 15 minutes every hour. It was so magical. I'm ready for bed. My dogs are barking.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my mother in law, my sister and all the other moms out there!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The mystery of the brains has been solved. It was not "noix de *riz* de veau" it was "noix de *ris* de veau and ris is calves' sweetbreads. Lesson learned and even better that it was someone else who paid the price.

We arrived in Paris around 2:15. The train was fine. We were able to communicate to the taxi driver where our hotel was so we made it here in short order. Our room is small but comfortable. After arriving, we went to the brasserie up the street for a sandwich because by then we were starving. Now it's 10:00 pm and we're not hungry, but that's OK. We called Robert's niece Caroline who is spending the year studying in Paris and took her out for une boisson. It was nice to see her. She's having a good time and is very busy with her job and with school.

Being the old fogies that we are, we're ready for bed and we're watching the Eurovision Song Contest and reading. We need to rest up for tomorrow's excursions.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I had a fairly lazy morning after breakfast. I sat in the lounge and read while the maid made up our room, then I took my shower and read some more. Around 1pm I set off for the afternoon. I was under strict orders from Robert to bring the camera and take pictures, so I did. I stopped at a boulangerie for a sandwich for lunch and headed to the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum doesn't open until 1, which is why I had such a late start. So I sat outside the Chateau and people-watched while I ate my sandwich. I walked to the Museum and bought a ticket. The woman behind the desk asked me where in France I came from - I think it's the equivalent of a store asking you your zip code - and when i said Etats-Unis, she said I speak French very well. I was pretty pleased. The museum was fairly boring - I prefer more modern art to the art that was shown there. But it was an hour or so well-spent. After the museum, I had a strawberry sorbet at the Museum cafe and read for a little bit. I was meeting Robert and Guido at the Chateau at 4:30, so I still had an hour to kill until they got there. I took some more pictures and put on my ipod and listened to French 80's pop that I like.

Robert and Guido showed up around 4:15, just as it started to rain. We went into the Chateau and I saw the tapestries again, and Robert and Guido saw them for the first time. This time I took pictures.

It was still raining when we finished, so we explored the rest of the Chateau. By the time we finished it was 6:00 and we agreed to go back to our hotels and meet at a little bar up the street at 7:00 to decide on where to go for dinner.

Sitting in the bar watching people was more fun than it sounds like it would be. I love people watching. We chatted and drank some wine until about 8:00 when we decided to go to a famous restaurant the lady at the hotel recommended for dinner. It was an amazing culinary experience. Robert started with foie gras terrine - that duck was already dead so no harm done. He shared and it was so creamy and delicious - like butter. Then for dinner, Robert and I both had filet mignon with Morel mushroom sauce and Guido had the veal, which looked like a veal brain, but he swore was delicious. The menu said "noix de riz de veau" so I just told him it was veal. I had no idea about the brain part. Luckily it was delicious so he's not blaming me.

This area is where they make Cointreau, so we each had a trilogy of Cointreau-based desserts: Cointreau fruit cocktail, Cointreau mousse and Cointreau ice cream. It was wonderful.

Tomorrow we leave Angers and head to Paris. I really like this town and I'm a little sad to say goodbye. Or better yet, au revoir.
Thursday: Not a whole lot to report for me today. It was Day 2 of the conference, so I just read a lot in my room and took a little walk up the street. Robert gave his talk today and it went very very well. Many people asked interesting follow-up questions and were excited by his research. We're very proud. Tomorrow we're going back to the Chateau and I'm going to bring Robert on the sightseeing train. I'm looking forward to Paris when I'm not by myself for most of the day and we can do things together.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Today was the first day of Robert's conference, so I was on my own, but we did have breakfast together. I just love French breakfasts. I had a croissant with butter and jam, a brie sandwich on French bread and cafe au lait. There is nothing better than drinking coffee out of a bowl. After breakfast, Robert left for the conference and I went into the city to explore. I went to the Fortress Castle, built by the Plantagenets in the thirteenth century. One of the main attractions at the Castle is the Tapestry of the Apocalypse, a series of seventy-something tapestries illustrating the text of the Book of Revelations according to St. John. The tapestries were commissioned in 1374 and are amazingly well-preserved. After seeing the castle, I took a little 45-minute tram tour of the city to get my bearings. The spoken part of the tram tour was en francais and I followed along fairly well. After the tram tour I came back to the hotel to take a nap.

When Robert came back from the conference, we took a walk up to the castle so he could see it. Then we went to a reception at the Mairie given by the Mayor of Angers for the conference attendees. It was hot and boring, but the cookies were good and so was the champagne. We met up with Robert's friend Guido and Leo, a man from Vancouver, B.C. whom Robert and Guido met at lunch. We wandered around looking for a restaurant to eat dinner at and wound up at a creperie, much to Robert's extreme pleausure. I don't want to bore people with the minutae of our gastronomic tour of France, but I had a galette aux champignons and Robert had one with duck, apples and peppercorn sauce. For dessert, I had a flaming crepe with apples and calvados and Robert had a "crepe split" with bananas chocolate sauce, pastry cream and whipped cream. We chatted and before you knew it it was 10:00 and time to head back to the hotel.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

We're here in France. I am never going back to flying coach again. The flight was incredible. The seats were huge - more leg room than I've ever seen. Each seat had a pillow and blanket and a packet of toiletries and goodies to make our flight more comfortable. They brought us drinks, newspapers and then the menu. Our meal started with warm mixed nuts, followed by marinated cheeses and olives. The next course was an appetizer of shrimp and smoked salmon. A beautiful fresh salad accompanied by artisan breads followed. The main course was a choice of lamb, filet of beef, seafood risotto or lasagna. We both chose the lamb, which was wonderful. Ice cream sundaes with our choice of toppings was the dessert.

The flight crew passed out personal entertainment devices to the business class passengers. It had games, music, movies, TV shows, pretty much anything you'd want to do. The best part about the PEDs were the headphones. They passed out Bose Noise Cancelling headphones, and they are fantastic. I need to get a pair for when I fly. You put them on and it's like you're not on a plane. They fit my iPod, and listening to my relaxing music through them put me on a cloud. The seats had reclining backs and footrests that extended, so we were practically laying flat while we were dozing. I didn't really get much sleep on the plane, but I sure was comfortable. So thanks so much Mom, for upgrading us to business class. It was fun and I'm spoiled forever.

The flight itself was good, but it did get bumpy towards the end. I was pretty relaxed throughout because of the luxury I was in. It's hard to worry when you're in business class. We landed at Charles de Gaulle about 7:30 am Paris time; 1:30 am NH time. We found our way to the train station and took the TGV to Angers. It was about a 2 1/2 hour trip. We kept falling asleep on the train and Robert kept snoring. I'd kick him a little to wake him up so he wouldn't make a scene snoring all over the place. Our hotel is right across from the train station and our room is quite nice. We're on the fourth floor and we overlook the Place de la Gare. We checked in and rested a little bit. I'm trying to not take a nap today so I can adjust to the time quicker. Then we washed up, got dressed and took a walk around town. Most everything was closed because it was the break during the mid-day and it started to rain, so we came back to the hotel and stopped at the boulangerie next door for a Mille Feuille and a tarte aux fraises. Yum! So that's it so far. I'll do more updating tomorrow. I love you all and I miss you.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Yesterday was the bead show. I had a very good day, fun-wise as well as financial-wise. I got some spending money for France, so I think I'll buy myself another Hermes scarf. It was nice to see some of the bead people I haven't seen in so long after a long winter of hibernation. I need to get out more. After the show, we went to my Mom's where we had Chinese food for dinner. It was yummy and hit the spot after a long day.

This morning Martha and my Mother came to my house and we all went out to the corner coffee shop for breakfast. It was good, but it was even better because we were together. Then we stopped at Lull Farm to look at plants and flowers. I bought my mother a lovely basket of flowers and plants - one of those mixed ones. It was dainty and just very pretty. I gave it to her already because I'm not going to be here on Mother's Day.

I've just finished up my business bookkeeping from the bead show. I just need to pack for France, pack up the dogs' and cat's things for boarding and I'll be ready to be off. I'll be blogging while I'm in France, hopefully.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Today I finished making beads for the show on Saturday. There comes a time when you have to say "That's it. I'm done." Hopefully I'll have enough. I feel some pressure - from within myself - to meet or exceed the total I took in last year. But I think the real victory here is the fact that I buckled down and made beads when I didn't want to; and I also overcame the "show-jitters" that I had last fall after being stolen from. So things are good.