Friday, May 29, 2009

Bird's eye view

We flew to Seattle last night. Beautiful sunset in the clouds, over the Columbia river and low over Puget Sound for landing.

An amazing (and all too rare) sunny warm day greets us this morning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wedding Belle Blues

Today I am feeling very "unprotected" in my own home. If anything happens to either Lyle or me we have no recourse, no connection, no bond, no safety net according to the law of the land. Don't give me any bullshit about legal papers or contracts between individuals. Time and time the system has shown that there are people who will ignore those and you are left to fend for yourself.

Since I can't put all I have in my head down on paper, I will share these photos with you.

Lyle's parents wedding.

Jim's parents wedding.

My sisters wedding.

My brother's wedding.

Our wedding.

I started saying this last November, I define my life. I am married. I have a husband. You can legislate against me and deny me my rights, but I define my life and will continue to do so.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Well, Google me!

A long time ago, like in January, we were trying to get home from Las Vegas. Without warning the freeway from Las Vegas to Los Angeles was shut at the Nevada/California border. I'm going to skip over all that ensued and just go to the part where we take a remote side highway through Searchlight and towards Needles, after which we will rejoin the highway we should've been on all along.

So there we are basically NO WHERE and we see a really odd car ahead in the distance. What the hell is that? As we get closer and closer it really doesn't get much more obvious. Then when we are finally nearly on top of it I see the bumper sticker that says, Google.


I beg Lyle to slow down so I can get my camera out and snap this photo:That's the camera stuff all up top taking photos all around, all the time.

We drive by and wave and smile. The driver gives a wave and feeble smile. I'm guessing he gets waved at a lot. Hopefully all the waves are as nice as ours.

CLICK HERE to see me taking the photo!

Periodically I check in on the road in the middle of NO WHERE and see if they have the photos up. Today I hit pay dirt.

You probably can't tell, but that car is COMPLETELY full in the back.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Computer go boom?

Last night I attempted a system update to the computer. It did not
take. Nor did it want to work on the old system after.

There are a couple more tricks to try before hope is lost.

Luckily I still have this iPhone.

But this should explain why it's quiet on the blog.

Update: The computer will return! In fact, I'm using it to write this. However... there is quite a bit to do to make it work properly... which is why I am not writing much more. It does work. I will work properly after more attention. Whew!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Signs of travel

Some of my favorite signs or ads from Paris.Every little boy dreams of staging their own opera. Wait a minute Jean-Timmy, are those all of mommy's Bic lighters at the front of your stage? I told you not to play with fire again!

What a happy pig to be cooked in a pot!

This piggy is ROUND, with square edges.

This goose is proud to be your stuffed liver.

translation: it is stupid to have badly
Stoopid monkey.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Kylie Rules My World

On Wednesday, I was minding my own business, settling down to start work and read a few quick "news blogs" while I sip my coffee. Then I ran into the headline "KYLIE MINOGUE ANNOUNCES U.S. TOUR" and all hell broke loose inside my head.

First I followed the link, hyperventilating, worried that I may have missed something. What the hell? I belong to her personal Kylie website and even signed up for "send me emails" of news. Where was my email!!!??

Its a mini-tour that starts September 30 in Oakland:
Sep. 30 Oakland, CA Fox Theater
Oct. 3 Las Vegas, NV The Pearl
Oct. 4 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl
Oct. 7 Chicago, IL Congress Theater
Oct. 9 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre...
Oct. 11 NYC, NY Hammerstein Ballroom (sold out)
NYC, NY Hammerstein Ballroom

American Express pre-sale started Thursday at 10 am. That's when I lost it. I don't have an Amex. So I phoned Lyle. His boss has an Amex. I had a desperate need.

I called Lyle and I just kept repeating, "OHMYGOD
OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD" Faster and faster and faster....

He had to tell me he couldn't understand me and I started talking even faster trying to explain my panic, "KylieMinogueiscomingtoLAandIhavetohaveticketsandtheyareoffering

Lyle cut me off, "just send me an email. It's all gibebrish. I got Kylie. I got tickets. Email me."

Then I begged him to get his boss to utilize the power of his black Amex in getting me FRONT ROW tickets.

Then I called him back after I saw that she was playing at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Vegas, where Lyle knows might know somebody... I told Lyle to blame me for forcing him to call, to tell the guy that I was dieing if need be. But I must have those tickets! (And possibly a meet and greet would be special as well?")

Seriously, I kinda lost it.

This morning, I received my Kylie Fan Blast (yeah, I get a "Kylie Fan Blast") and I got my fan pre-sale code word. I waited for ten am and BAM! I was on that ticketmaster site at the stroke of 10. And by 10:10 I still didn't have any tickets.

I had an appointment, so I had to leave and then I was back at my desk at 12:10 and I was hammering that website for an hour and half trying to get tickets out of it. Meanwhile on facebook all my friends are boasting of how they already have their seats. NOOOOOO!!!!!

At 2:15 I surrendered. I emailed and texted Lyle (I didn't want any excuses) that it was up to him and his connections now. I had to give up. I had to get to work. If he did get tickets, I would have to pay for them!

It's 3:15 and I am pleased to say, we have seats. WE HAVE SEATS!!!

Oh Lyle.... now about that meet & greet....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Paris, the finale.

On our final full day in Paris it was no obvious that Spring had arrived. The Place des Vosges behind out hotel had been all sticks on trees when we arrived and 9 days later was fluffed out in feathery leaves to welcome the sun. I was all ready to unfurl and enjoy myself as well but since this was out LAST DAY IN PARIS I was going to have to PANIC.

We all went out to breakfast together and then scattered across the city to accomplish our tasks. For Lyle and I we wanted to go to Au Bon Marche. (I had worked at The Bon Marche in Washington state and I highly doubted this store in Paris had even a remote connection. Once inside, I was proven correct.)

Le Bon Marché was the first department store ever created in Paris. Designed by Gustav Eiffel (of the Eiffel Tower) and opened in 1852. Today it is reknown for "La Grande Épicerie de Paris" a grocery department that offers you over 5000 different products, selected from around the world. From hard-to-find bottle of mineral water from Wales, jams made by a French artisan, or an exquisite tomato sauce from Naples! What you can't find anywhere else, you will find there. The spanish ham's corner has the best spanish ham in Paris. If you are a gourmet you should visit Le Bon Marché.

But oh, what a delight it was. We started in the food department. We also finished in the food department. In between we darted into the clothing, but really, the food, the food, the food!
Unending macaroons.
Check out the millefeuilles (Napoleons), they are on their sides!

And they tasted AMAZING...

This picture was taken just for Lewis Boscolo:
Look Lewis, Nutella BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD!

After an exhausting day of shopping, shopping, shopping (and buying very little) we met up with our friend from Los Angeles, who works now in Manhattan, but had come to Paris for the weekend because he had just finished a trade show in Switzerland. Anyway, we met up with Ricky.

Ricky had agreed to go on the grand hotels of Paris bar tour with Lyle and I. Since there were a few to conquer we had decided to start at 4 pm.
The Hotel Raphael is just off Etoile de Charles de Gaulle (the traffic circle that has the Arc du Triomphe in the center). Lyle's printed guide told us that this hotel is considered THE hotel to have an affair in. Romantic, grand style and off the beaten path.
The Raphael Hotel is quite extraordinary - even by Parisian standards. The high-profile glamour at the Raphael is transformed into a haven of discreet charm and singular luxury. The hotel's history (built in 1925) is rich with the devotion of the world's great figures in literature, cinema, music and politics - and has included such luminous personalities as Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn and Jack Kennedy. The Raphael's magnificent gallery-lobby is decorated with wooden wall panels and period paintings (including an original Turner). As for relaxation and dining, there is the club-like English Bar, offering deep sofas and red velvet, and roof-top dining (from May to October) at Jardins Plein Ciel, providing panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Sacre-Coeur.
We were hoping the rooftop bar would be open, but alas it was not.
We sat in The English Bar and had a a drink.

I was on a complete champagne kick.

We finished our cocktails and caught a cab. from the Raphael to our next destination to us right through Etoile de Charles de Gaulle. 12 roads feed into the giant traffic circle which can accommodate 10 cars abreast.
As horrified as I would be to drive through all this myself, I am always happy to let someone else (like a taxi driver) lead us through. As it happened, there was a ceremony taking place at the Arc.

We arrived at our next grand hotel, The Bristol.
This classic palace hotel opened its five-star doors in 1925. Guests entering the vast chandelier-filled lobby are here primarily to enjoy the sheer grandeur of the place. This is a world of white and pink marble, where gilded glass cabinets display expensive French perfumes and Cartier watches. Take the antique lift and admire the metal grillework designed by the Jewish architect Lerman who went into hiding here during the Second World War. The atmosphere is suitably formal: at the award-winning bar, dare to drape your coat over the arm of one of its plush sofas and one of the maids, dressed in classic black and white uniforms, is sure to disappear it into the cloakroom. The atmosphere is also suitably French: take afternoon tea in the bar on a Saturday and you can enjoy a fashion show with your tisane.

I don't even know what some of the words in that explanation mean. Tisane?* What I do know is the champagne here was fabulous! Not to mention complimentary snacks... which we probably paid for with the cost of that champagne.

(*tisane is an herbal infusion made from anything other than the leaves of the tea bush)

My new purple sweater! This color was in EVERY store window. It's the must have color for Paris for Spring. Go, get yours right now.

Two bars down (and the Mercier a few days earlier) and we were more than halfway through our tour. Time for dinner.
We met Christine and Richard at the Royal Madeleine near the Place Madeleine. It is described as "A typical Parisian Bistro, chic and warm, very close to the Madeleine plaza, honoring traditional French cuisine. The ambiance is very 1900’s."

Since this was our final night, I went ahead and had my final foie gras.

Lyle had the white asparagus.

Carol Merrill showcases her pig foot.

And Lyle had... uh, something. Something he told me I didn't want a bite of. Something he told me I didn't want to know about. And so far, I have no idea what it is. If you do, please don't tell me.
He did day it was delicious.

Time for fussy coffee and small desserts and (heavy sigh) our last meal in Paris is over.

Richard and Christine were not up to out continued grand bar tour. So far they had managed to not go and see the Eiffel Tower up close, only from afar. I begged Richard and Christine to stop on their way home. They humored me and went near, but apparently not close. We all agreed it really was a good way to guarantee that you HAVE to return to Paris in the future. Leave one thing undone.

Lyle, Ricky and I forged ahead and went to The Ritz.
The Place Vendôme at night, in front of the Ritz.
The Hôtel Ritz is a hotel located at 15 Place Vendôme, in the heart of Paris, France. It is one of the most prestigious and luxurious hotels in the world and is one of the seven Parisian palaces recognized by The Leading Hotels of the World organization. Established in 1898, it is the oldest Ritz Hotel in the world. The hotel became a favorite of many of the world's wealthiest people, with luxurious suites named for some of its notable patrons from the past. These include Ernest Hemingway, for whom a bar in the hotel was named, and couturier Coco Chanel who made the Ritz her home for more than thirty years.

The hallway leading back to Bar Hemingway is long. About a block long. It goes from the front of the hotel to the back of the hotel which is the other side of the block. The hallway is lined with glass cases displaying all of the Paris finery you could ever want, and more.
That man in the picture is about halfway down the hall.

Ricky gets his horns on in the Hemingway Bar.

Papa Hemingway watches you from every picture on the walls.

We left by way of the back door this time, it was so close to the street! And voilá, there we were, at CHANEL. How convenient that must have been for dear Coco. It was about 30 steps from the Ritz door the Chanel door.

I think we look like two sexy stewardesses on a layover.

We walked down to Place de la Concorde and returned to our favorite grand hotel the Crillon.
The final views of the Eiffel Tower lit up the night. And the bar felt like a comfortable slipper to lull ourselves to sleep in. Basically I'm telling you that we arrived and it was packed full and after two or three champagnes, we closed the place, second to last people to leave.

We walked Ricky back towards his hotel and we walked by Madeleine.

When construction of the church started in 1764, the plans made by architect Pierre Constant d'Ivry called for a design similar to that of the Invalides church. When d'Ivry died in 1777 his designs were dismissed by his successor, Guillome-Martin Couture. He decided to raze the unfinished building and start with a new design, this time based on the Panthéon. Construction halted during the French Revolution until 1806 when Napoleon decided to build a temple in honor of his army. He appointed Pierre-Alexandre Vignon who razed the structure yet again and started with the construction of a temple based on the 'Maison Carrée', an ancient Roman temple in Nîmes. Finally in 1842 the building was consecrated as a church which it still is today.

This is another place we had seen from afar but never walked around. How on Earth did we ever get around this city without stumbling across this? and the most amazing thing is just sitting there (closed now as it is nighttime) Fauchon.
At place de la Madeleine stands one of the city's most popular sights -- not the church, but Fauchon, a hyper-upscale mega-delicatessen that thrives within a city famous for its finicky eaters. It's divided into three divisions that include an épicerie (for jams, crackers, pastas, and exotic canned goods); a pâtissier (for breads, pastries, and chocolates); and a traiteur (for cheeses, terrines, pâtés, caviar, and fruits). Prices are steep, but the inventories -- at least to serious foodies -- are fascinating.
And there we stood with out noses literally pressed up against the glass... wishing we had ONE MORE DAY.

We kept going around the square and came across the Baccarat showroom. Wow, their windows were stunning.

And then like all good dreams, it came to an end. We left Ricky and returned to our hotel to sleep. I had packed us all up the afternoon before and we had reserved our cab for early in the morning. Only one catch...
The Paris marathon was on that day. We were in the center of the course and the police weren't letting ANY cars in or out. We knew about the marathon, that's why we had reserved a cab the night before. We had also built in an extra half hour for extra traffic troubles. But as the hotel staff valiantly tried to find us ANY car that was inside our circle of doom the minutes ticked away. After 45 minutes of tense waiting, Lyle ran up the street to see if he could just hail a cab. There he found a cab the hotel had called trying to argue his way past the police blocking the end of our street. He ran back shouted at us all to MOVE and off we tore, wheeled luggage filled with precious champagne bottles, bouncing down the cobblestone sidewalk.

I'm pleased to say, we made it the airport with time to spare, we just had to shop duty-free a little quicker than I would have liked.
Flying home over the white cliffs of Dover, Great Britain.