Wish I was there . .
My passport is ready and I can be packed in minutes.

31 July 2006

A large piece of humble pie, please . . .

Hexe to PH on Thursday after learning of his Grandmother's death (and after several hours without A/C):
"Just give me the computer. I'm quicker and more efficient in finding a flight."

Tonight, PH to Hexe on the phone from NY:
"I tried to check in on-line for my return flight tomorrow, but it appears that my return flight is for August 30, not August 3 . . . I've already called the airline and paid the fee to change the flight."

SHIT! Pass me a fork . . .

When PH leaves . . .

  1. We eat hot dogs, pizza, and scrambled eggs for dinner (not at the same time).
  2. Everyone takes an afternoon nap including me.
  3. Finger painting occurs daily.
  4. I allow Hew to run around with no pants on, thus forcing him to use the potty.
  5. I clean various bodily fluids and certain solids off the floor as a result of #5.
  6. Dora and Arthur are now a daily requirement (if you don't know Dora and Arthur, don't ask - you don't want to know).
  7. When PH calls, I spend much of the phone call giving the phone the finger as I listen to him talk about how he went to dinner in a restaurant with his brothers and they actually had a few drinks (yes, I know this was after his Grandma's funeral, but I'm still here and he is in NY by himself - yes, I'm being bitchy).
  8. I yell "Stop fighting!!!!!!!!!!" 1,368 times a day.
  9. Using the sprinkler outside counts as bathing.
  10. I wonder in amazement why more single parents are not institutionalized and I understand why certain animal species eat their young.

29 July 2006

Mother of the Year . . . NOT!

Number of hours PH will be gone: 36

Number of Hours it took for Hew to jump off stool, hit the corner of the coffee table, and have a swollen black eye: less than 6

Sigh . . . .

More Pictures on the Route de Vin

It's rather crazy here - PH is leaving for NY this afternoon for his Grandma's funeral and we just our A/C back working after twenty-four hours of a very hot house. Here are a few more pictures of our day on the Route de Vin.

Here's where we had a nice lunch . . .

and PH had a very large beer!

The narrow streets . . .

and pretty houses with the flower boxes.

During our post lunch walk, PH made a friend!

With PH leaving for NY, I don't think my next few days will be as relaxing as our day on the Route de Vin!

27 July 2006

Route de Vin

I have been trying all day to post our pics from the Route de Vin, but Blogger seems to have issues with the photos. Here are three of the photos and I'll try to get the others up later.

We were intending to go to Colmar (near the German border) from Gerardmer, but never made it all the way to Colmar. We kept stopping in all these little town on the Route de Vin. Most of the town were walled and outside of the walls were miles of vineyards heading up the hills. This first pic was taken from inside the wall town, looking out towards the vineyards.

These photos came from the towns of Kayserberg and Ribeauville. This is an area of France that I would love to revisit in the autumn. Many of the towns had portions of old stone castles or homes in the vineyards.

All of the house had these lovely flower boxes. We wandered from town to town looking at flowers, vineyards, and tasting wine. The area is known for Reisling and we found a couple bottles to bring back to my family as a thank you for taking care of KK and Hew. It was a beautiful way to spend the day :)

24 July 2006

Very Bad Day

WARNING: This post may contain whining, self-pity, and foul language.

I know Monday is often a difficult day but today is extra bad.

-Spent this morning at a funeral for the husband of one of PH’s childhood friends. I’d only met him once but it was a horribly sad affair. He was 39 with two children. He and his wife had recently moved west – a lifelong dream for them. Less than thirty days later he is killed by a drunk driver. Their teenage son read a poem at the funeral and I’m still crying.

-PH’s mother called from NY yesterday. PH’s Grandma (age 90) has cancer and things are not going well. It appears that PH will be traveling to NY soon for another funeral.

-The Tour de France is over and I have nothing to distract me.

I know after a month away I should be able to suck it up and put on a happy face for two more years but this place sucks. In no particular order, here are my complaints:

THE WEATHER – Yes, it is hot everywhere. But for most places, hot weather lasts a couple weeks. It has not been below 70 since May. It will not go below 70 until at least October. Last nights low was 78. Yes, I have air conditioning, but I hate being imprisoned in my house for five months. KK and Hew lived outside while we were up North. Hew lasted fifteen minutes yesterday before coming to me flushed and sweaty, begging to go inside. I need cold weather. I would like a seasonal change. I want SNOW!

THE EDUCATION SYSTEM – Florida has the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation and consistently ranks in the bottom as far as education. Rather than just admitting this and looking for a solution, our esteemed Governor wants to argue with the numbers. Yet his administration refuses to admit that they screwed up by hiring a company to correct the essay portion of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) that did not have education requirements for the scorers. A passing score on the FCAT is required to be promoted and to graduate, yet the scorers of the exam did not even have to show that they had any education. A state that refuses to invest in children will continue to pay for years to come.

MY NEIGHBORS – I do have some lovely neighbors, but a majority of our neighborhood stopped associating with us after the last presidential election. We were the sole Kerry supporters in our entire neighborhood and had the audacity to put a sign in our yard. Never mind that there were fifty Bush signs. First, they signs were stolen, but we kept replacing them. Then, some women from the next street over showed up at dinner time and informed us that we must not be educated on the issues. After her “education” did not work, she told us that we were irresponsible and didn’t care about our children’s future. SERIOUSLY! I told her to get the hell out of my house. PH was nicer and explained to her that we both have graduate degrees that we paid for ourselves and that maybe our education just differed from hers in that ours taught us how to compute the national deficit after four years with Bush (never mind the fact that the US was on the way to becoming one of the most hated nations and destroying the Constitution upon which it had been founded). Crazy lady then reported to the other neighbors her failure to convert us. We then received religious flyers on our door and in our mailbox telling us we were going to hell (YES, STILL SERIOUS!).

NO TAXES – Generally, this would not be something to bitch about, but no taxes means no quality services (ie education). Additionally, it pisses me off that grumpy old people come here to make their residence to avoid taxes after they and their children have had the benefit of good school and community services elsewhere.

GRUMPY OLD PEOPLE – I love old people. I am thrilled that my children have a majority of their great grandparents alive, but some old people believe that age allows them to cut to the front of the line, hit me with their grocery cart rather than say excuse me, and drive down the middle lane in the road. Manners should not decrease with age.

I know that I am tired and grumpy and the world will look better tomorrow after a little sleep. Right now, I could use a little less heat and death.

21 July 2006

Morning at Hexe's House

At 6:45 AM Hew wandered into the bedroom looking for PH. I explained that PH had already left to swim this morning. Hew wanted breakfast and I wanted 15 more minutes of sleep - guess who won?

6:45-6:49 Hew plays with buttons on remote, turning the lights and fan on and off.

6:49 Hew moves on to the buttons on the clock radio, resulting in deafening version of Sheryl Crowe's "All I Want to Do Is Have Some Fun." I try in vain to find the right button to save my ear drums but instead drop clock on my foot. Finally, manage to pull electrical cord out of the wall but the battery back up kicks in and music continues. After several minutes, finally find a way to turn music down but not off.

6:57 Hew has gone into KK's room and woken her while I am fighting with the radio. They both demand breakfast.

6:58 When I tell Hew that he is going to use the potty before breakfast, Hew runs away and locks himself in his room! The lock sticks and I can not open the friggin' door. I then have to find a screwdriver and unscrew the door knob to open door.

And a good morning to you too!

20 July 2006

Tour update

After yesterday's dismal finish, Floyd Landis was considered finished. Yet today, he has come back, taken the lead, and may actually be back in contention for the yellow in Paris! Allez, allez Floyd!

A Lovely Day in Basel (or Bale)

There is no mistaking when you leave France and enter Switzerland. As PH and I walked into Basel, I stopped and pulled out a map to get my bearings. A kindly, older gentleman on crutches approached us and said "Where would you like to go?" Stunned at the use of English and the kindness (sorry, I could never use the word "kindness" to describe the French), PH and I failed to respond and stared open mouthed at the nice gentleman. The nice gentleman encouraged us to speak by stating that he spoke English and would give us directions. I finally managed to state that we were looking for the marktplatz. The nice man gave us directions and left before we could collect our thoughts and thank him. So, if you see a kind, elderly gentleman on crutches in Basel, Switzerland, please thank him for us and explain we are not rude Americans - we had just been in France for a week and were not prepared for someone to be nice to us :)

The kind gentleman set the tone for Basel. It is a lovely city, on the water. I wish that we had spent more than one day there. Basel is a place I would like to go back and see again. As we walked into the city, we were greeted by a market in front of this lovely red building, which is the Rathaus.

We spent much of the day wandering these lovely streets. As it was overcast, it was perfect to just walk. (Yes, that is Hexe walking down the street below.)

I love the large decorative doors.

We also did the tourist boat ride, which is a gondola of sorts connected to a wire that crosses the Rhine. You cross from the older historical section of Basel to the more modern section of the city. What is interesting about the ride is that the gondola uses the fast current to cross the river versus a motor. The pic below shows the gondola coming across and passengers waiting to board.

And this was the view, once we crossed the river . . .

Switzerland is certainly more expensive than France, but we were still able to find a very good plat du jour for two that included chicken in a yummy sauce, rice, salad, and a decent glass of wine for under 25.00CHF. I did notice that clothing and children's toys were definitely more expensive in Switzerland, but we happened to be in Basel during the "Sales" and PH found a nice shirt for less that $15 US. Overall, it was a wonderful day :)

19 July 2006

Le Tour

As a thank you to Jen for all her suggestions and advice, I'll start at the end of our trip and the Prologue of Le Tour de France. This was one of my favorite days from the vacation and I am now convinced that I could live in an RV with two small children for twenty-one days and follow this race around France.

My interest in cycling is purely as a spectator and began after Hew's birth. Home on maternity leave with a constantly nursing child and a slightly jealous two year old, I needed an escape badly. As Hew nursed, I started watching the Tour because of the scenery - the nice mountains, the pretty fields, the quaint towns. I eventually learned the team names and then the riders. Soon, I was hooked on the racing - the doping scandals, the French bitterness at an American winner, the peloton, the king of the mountain race . . . I could go on and on.

When we learned our trip to France would coincide with the opening day of the Tour, I knew we were headed to Strasbourg. This year's Prologue was an individual time trial through the streets of Strasbourg. We arrived hours before the beginning of the race to stake out a shady spot where we could see the riders beginning and ending the race. We had lunch supplies and water, but had sadly forgotten our creme de soliel. After a quick stop at a pharmacy where I was lectured in French about how I must apply the 30 SPF every two hours due to my pale skin, we were ready.

This pic is for Jen . . .

This is Team Discovery warming-up with George Hincapie in the middle.

This is a picture of the shirt vendors. It cracked me up because it was the only place I every seen just men shopping. Even PH thought he needed a team shirt and couldn't decide between a Phonak team shirt or CSC team shirt. He generally supports Team Discovery. When I questioned why not Discovery, I was told he didn't like "the colors." I had to turn away before laughing hysterically:)

This is one of the floats from the parade. The parade goes on before the race and each floats throws various objects (hats, bags, noise makers, bottle openers, pens, cardboard hands, etc) into the crowd. We came back with a bag full of junk thanks to a very tall German who was standing next to us and wanted to make we came home with souvenirs.

It took me awhile to figure out what this great big phallic symbol on top of the car was advertising. It's a pen - yeah, that wasn't my first guess:)

Finally, the race! This is Guiseppe Guerini from T-Mobile as he left out on to the course. We were standing right up against the fence and PH would lean out to get the photos of the riders. A couple times I thought he was about to be hit by a rider who was close to the fence. You could feel the whoosh as the rider went by. Needless to say, we have 50+ photos that look exactly like this.

Since coming home, I haven't been able to watch as much of the race as I would like. My early favorite was George Hincapie of Team Discovery, who is struggling. However, Floyd Landis of Phonak (an American) is riding well. I have admit to feeling a certain amount of delight in another American winning this race! Viva Le Tour!

18 July 2006

A Sad Welcome Home

I had this day planned out. I was finally home, back to high speed access and only two children, who could run wild while I blogged and posted vacation pictures. Unfortunately, the call came late last night. I expected the call but I thought it would be later in the week. My aunt had finally died of cancer.

She learned in April that she had a "recurrence." You look for answers - she wasn't a smoker or a drinker. She didn't lead a danger life with exposure to cancer causing materials. She was neither young nor old. She was just a recently retired school teacher who lived her life in the area where she'd grown up. She wasn't perfect - there were strained relationship and old hurts that even impending death could not heal.

What no one told her back in April was that death doesn't come easily. She suffered - a lot. She was conscious and aware most of the time. One day recently she confessed that she never thought dying would be such hard work. Cancer sucks.

So today, I am reminded to get off my ass and enjoy my life because there are no guarantees that tomorrow will be easier or better. In fact, there are no guarantees, you will have tomorrow.

09 July 2006

PH gets Germany!

Last year Hexe and I went on vacation to St. Wolfgang in Austria. Our flight connected through Munich, Germany. On the way to Austria we stopped at a German beer garden and had lunch. Neither of us pooped. It didn’t count. But this year, I was able to get Germany all to my own. Or, so I think I did. You will have to let me know your thoughts.

Hexe says that in order for us to earn a country, you must eat an actual meal and poop in the country to claim it as your own. Potato chips and airports don’t count. So far I have Canada, Norway, France, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark. Florida also counts. Last year neither of us pooped at the German beer garden, but this trip I was the one who pooped -- and Germany is all mine! Let me explain…

During this vacation Hexe and I were driving from France to Switzerland. On the way we had to stop and buy a vignette for the car. The vignette cost 25 euro even though we only planned to spend one day in Switzerland, but it was worth it. Since we had to stop at a rest area to purchase the vignette, I chose to stop at one located in Germany. If I could poop, then Germany would be mine. But, when I went in to claim it as my own, this is what I saw (sorry, for some reason I cannot upload my own photo).

What the hell kind of toilet is this? How do I use it? Apparently, there must have been a budget cut and they were unable to purchase the WHOLE toilet. I was eager not to lose Germany to Hexe so I did my best. The problem was where do I stand? Do I squat? I know that squatting is the oldest known mode of human elimination, but if I squat, then how far down do I go? What do I hold on to so that I don’t lose my balance? How do I avoid splatter? Do I leave my shoes on? God knows I didn’t want to slip and fall in the hole. I began to question if I really wanted Germany today.

Before claiming the fatherland I made sure of the location of the flushing mechanism. To my joy I was happy to see hand rails were attached to the walls. I held on (use your imagination here) and claimed Germany for my own. However, now I had a real problem. There was no toilet paper. Apparently, the budget cut was worse than I thought. After doing a little dance, I went looking for paper in the other stalls, but they were ALL OCCUPIED! Apparently, everyone wanted Germany today. Since I speak German worse than French, I chose to look for some paper towels.

Unfortunately, this bathroom still has those old wrap around cloth towel machines. These are the ones where you pull down on the nasty cloth for some “clean” cloth and then the old used nasty cloth disappears back up into the machine. (I firmly believe it never gets replaced. Instead the cloth just wraps around, magically cleans itself, and comes out again.) So, rather than attempt to use the mystery towel machine I went looking for Hexe.

As I came out she noticed my walk was a little different and asked me if I was okay. After explaining my “situation” Hexe was nice enough to gather a huge wad of toilet paper from the ladies room.

Hexe confirmed she didn’t poop, so Germany is now all mine. Although, I am not sure if it was worth it.

PS: Hexe is still up north and has no real internet access. She’ll be back soon. Until then you get me, PH.

06 July 2006

OMG - I have finally figured it out. Here's a pic from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. Must now edit the rest. Back later!

04 July 2006

We're Baaack . . .

I had every intention of posting from Gerardmer, but it appears that when the hotel advertised internet access, they didn't actually intend for a guest to use it. I probably could have sought out internet access elsewhere, but our Paris pace set by my brother in law (BIL) continued. We visited Basel, followed the route de vin, drove to Strasbourg and watched the Prologue for the Tour de France.

The stories of mutilation of the French language were endless. I have no doubt that the staff at the hotel are still laughing over PerfectHusband who asked for the flowers to be turned on in the pool instead of the lights. Or the poor waiter who tried not to smirk when I said I was a cafe when I meant to say I would like a coffee. Or there was the endless argument between myself and PH about whether a "serviette" was a towel or a feminine hygiene product (PH didn't wish to embarrass himself further by asking for a feminine hygiene product when he just wanted a towel for the pool).

In the end, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my father when I first moved to Boston many years ago. We were joking about my Dad getting old and having to leave our small New England town to live with me in Boston. My Father replied that he would rather wander the streets of our hometown senile and homeless than live in Boston. That is how I felt about Paris. Much to my BIL's disappointment, I can not imagine myself living there. It is busy, dirty, crowded, rushed, and stressful. I applaud BIL's love for his adopted home, but it's not for me. Thankfully PH agreed fully and at one point when we driving around lost, he commented that he would rather live next to my parents on a dirt road than live in Paris.

Here is where I have been trying to post a picture to show that yes, we did have a good time despite being French speaking challenged. However, PH has pointed out that I accidentally took most of my photos at a very high pixel rate so I need to save them back to the camera and reduce the rate in order to post them as the computer keeps rejecting them. I'll try again tomorrow . . .