Paris Part Deux

Once we were in our hotel room, we barely had time to catch our breath before we had to run back out to see JM’s folks. I have to say I was a bit shocked when we did see them, as they had really aged badly in the past three years. My MIL had been forced to retire (she IS 75, but still, she didn’t want to ever stop working) and she took it all rather badly. To be fair, her boss had treated her extremely rudely, and she is a sensitive woman; she has never really recovered from the shock. My FIL just has aged; again, it was his 80th birthday while we were there, so I suppose it is understandable.

The worst thing was looking around their huge apartment and seeing the enormous amount of stuff that had to be dealt with in order for them to move. No wonder they are unable to cope with it at their age; JM and I barely felt able to cope with it at our age; not that we’re particularly young either.

Making it all worse is that they really seem unable to make decisions. That is not really anything new, mostly because I don’t think they actually know what it is that they truly want. And I believe that was the biggest benefit of our visit, to help get them on a more decided path.

JM did a great job taking things in hand, going through the books and taking the ones that we wanted to bring down here, putting aside the things that they should move with them to Toulon and helping them to sort through the stacks upon stacks of papers that are everywhere in their apartment. Part of the problem is that they started a charity a number of years ago and there are dozens of dossiers relating to that everywhere. Now that they are moving they have retired from that, but until it winds down at the end of the year the dossiers remain. Once those are gone the papers will disappear as well and life will be simplified for everyone.

When we weren’t busy with the ‘rents, we did find some time to go out and have lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Mirama, on the rue St. Jacques and shoot some video for those who don’t expect fine art.
Paris on YouTube.
I had forgotten how much one walks in Paris though. We walk about 90 minutes or more a day here in the Possum Kingdom, but it is not at all the same thing as walking in Paris! Our feet, legs and backs were killing us from pounding that pavement all the time. And, despite my finding a pair of great shoes at Au Vieux Campeur, I still have a healing blister on one of my toes that makes it painful to walk the dogs.

I also had a couple of those “epiphany” moments that get you every once in awhile. Both of them came while we were on public transportation. The first was in a bus, where I was sitting in one of the seats where you are supposed to get up if a person who is elderly or of reduced mobility gets in and needs a seat; I always get up. Then I realized I kind of qualify to sit there now! The second time was in the subway; a young man (maybe 20) got up to give the old lady his seat; that was ME. I’m now an old lady! Yikes!! When did that happen???? Just shoot me now.

Other things I realized while we were there were that I no longer have any particular burning desire to shop. Now that we’ve got the internet, I can get anything I want delivered to me at home so I really don’t need to go into a store in Paris to browse and buy. Yes, I did do one quick browse around the Galerie Lafayette, which is always a bit of a lark, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I once would have. Part of that is lack of money to really buy anything, but part of it is that I think I’ve reached a stage in my life where I don’t really want much of anything.

Mostly, I just wanted to come home.

We made one big mistake, and that was not leaving Paris on Friday afternoon and stopping at the halfway point to spend the night before finishing the drive on Saturday. I don’t think we’ll do that again. A hotel is a hotel and a hotel not in Paris would even have been less expensive and probably more enjoyable, all things considered. To top it off, we hit absolutely dire weather outside of Toulouse and the visibility was even worse than the fog we drove through in the Massif Central; I nearly had to stop the car because I couldn’t see a thing. I was pretty terrified to be honest.

I know we’re going to have to go back to help my in-laws again and the next time we’ll have a bit more time for advance planning. I am sure there are better ways to manage it all. I have to say I will not be sorry once they finally move and I don’t have to return to Paris again. I think my days of enjoying it are behind me.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Road Trip!

I didn’t want to write about this beforehand, for rather obvious reasons. We just went to Paris for four days and are back absolutely exhausted and thrilled to return to our little corner of paradise.

We actually haven’t seen JM’s parents since June of 2007! In fact, the last time we were in Paris was just when my stepfather was diagnosed with liver cancer and all of our lives changed forever. Since Mom has come here to live, it has been almost impossible for us to get away, and I’m afraid JM’s parents have taken a bit of a back seat.

They are really unable to travel down to see us, because JM’s dad had bladder cancer a number of years ago and was left with an external bladder. For a variety of reasons, this has not been entirely successful and he has a lot of problems with leaking, etc. They find even going out to dinner rather difficult and traumatic, so staying with other people just doesn’t work for them.

Now, though, they are confronted with moving from the apartment they have been renting for 40 years and retiring to their much smaller apartment in Toulon. My in-laws are not “copers” and this entire thing is rather overwhelming for them. Since their place in Toulon is already furnished, they have to sell everything that is in their place in Paris and they just can’t do it, so we went up to help get the show on the road.

Luckily they have a family friend who started the ball rolling, but you can’t ask outsiders to do everything and we needed to step in.

But getting away was complicated. We were blessed that our dear friend Noëlle kindly volunteered to check on Mom while we were gone so she wouldn’t feel totally isolated; I don’t see how we could have both gone otherwise. And since part of the reason for this trip was for us to bring back items that we wanted from their place, we needed to both go so we could drive and carry heavy suitcases.

We decided that since we were going anyway we would try to make it a little bit fun and would visit the Millau viaduct on the way up. We had been wanting to do this since it opened and this was really the first opportunity we had. Going this way adds about 100 kilometers to the trip, but it really is one of those things that is worth the detour, as it is a truly spectacular thing to see. It’s the longest cable bridge in the world and is really beautiful.

Millau Viaduct

Unfortunately, the weather was horrible and stayed mostly horrible for the entire time we were away. That route takes you straight through the Massif Central mountain range and one point we were about 1200 meters up. Because of the bad weather we were actually driving in the clouds and had about 10 feet of visibility ahead of us. Since the speed limit on the autoroute is 130 kmh, that is kind of scary if everyone doesn’t slow down! I did and just prayed that everyone behind me was too.

We stopped for lunch in the Auvergne region, which is known for its food. We just stopped at a rest stop on the highway but had an excellent lunch. I know that sounds impossible, but in France it isn’t. Now, not all rest stops have decent restaurants, but I’ve noticed that there are restaurants that are run by chains (like the gas stations and the equivalent of a Howard Johnson’s) and there are restaurants that appear to be run by the company that runs the autoroutes. Those tend to have good food. The one where we stopped had free range, non-ogm fed roast chicken, aligot (mashed potatoes blended with local cheese), fresh, locally made pastry, etc. all for about 11 euros per person.

The other thing about French autoroute shops is that they sell really delicious local products. You can actually spend a fortune on things that you really want to eat when you get home if you’re not careful.

When we finally got back down out of altitude I hoped that the driving would be better, but the entire rest of the way into Paris we were buffeted by horrendous high winds that made it difficult to hold Beanie on the road. She’s a good little car but made for neither speed nor wind. I can tell you that it was a harrowing drive. We eventually rolled into Paris at 6:30; 11 hours after we’d left home. And, of course, we then had to make our way through traffic to our hotel! Luckily JM is a great navigator and got me there. I was a little worried about going around the Bastille, but I was surprised that at that hour traffic was much less bad than I had expected.

By the time we pulled into the underground parking at the Ibis Bastille, I was very happy to know that I wasn’t going to be driving for several days, however. I was tired. I just don’t drive like that anymore and I had forgotten how exhausting it was; of course I knew I was going to have to do it all again a few days later, but that would be going home and I hoped for better weather.

More to come later.

Ciao for now.

Randy

The Great Escape; Part 7000

So, on our lunchtime walk, Shmoo’s leash came loose and he took off yet again! It was funny, because he didn’t realize it at first and suddenly he was like the coyote looking down at the canyon under his feet! First he ran down to the river (thanks Bruce Springsteen!) then it was into the farthest field. Miz Peaches of course was in hot pursuit. There was no sense in following, because as soon as we approach, they just take off again because they (HE) do not want to have the fun stopped and come home. There is no answer to this; it is just Shmoo’s nature. He has no recall and will never have one. There is no food, nothing we can offer that is better than running in that field. He always comes back, but in his time on his terms.

Peaches has a great recall when she’s not with him. But when she’s with him it’s like the Warner Bros. cartoon with the little devil on one shoulder and the little angel on the other; the little devil ALWAYS wins. Now, what’s funny is that if we get close enough, they both have a great sit and Shmoo will immediately sit and then we can catch him. We always praise and give him a treat, all the time fighting back that natural urge to scream at him, which would be counter productive, of course.

So glad that they both have Scalibor collars as well as Promeris Duo now, so I think the tick issue is really, really minimized. And, luckily the field was mowed just a few days ago so the hay is bailed and not long like it was last time, so I think we’re safe from Piro this time.

Again, they are trying to kill us…

Ciao for now.

Randy

Still here

I realize that it has been ages since I last posted and I have no real excuse, other than that I suppose life has been quiet and relatively uninspiring. That’s not a bad thing; it just means that all is quiet here in the Possum Kingdom.

We’re in that time of year between the May holidays (most of the month of May) and summer vacation season, which really kicks in in July. The weather is still deciding what it wants to do; one day being hot and summery, the next stormy and cool, which I don’t really mind. I actually prefer not having long spells of one thing or the other, because it doesn’t give you a chance to get tired of it and start complaining!

We’ve been enjoying the cherries on the trees of Weasel’s Wort, the garden belonging to friends who won’t be here until mid-July when the cherries will be long gone. I’m feeling too lazy to make jam, so we just stop in while walking the dogs and snack on them straight from the trees. I think they taste best that way anyway; all fresh and warmed by the sun. My tomato plant experiment seems to be working and I already have half-a-dozen small tomatoes on the vines. The courgette doesn’t look as good though, so maybe it doesn’t like being in a container so much.

Right next to the garden is an area that used to be used as an official dump that would periodically be carted away by village employees. Last year a notice was sent around that it was no longer to be used for that purpose and the gardeners were to compost on their own properties and take non-compostable to the town dump for disposal. Well, you might as well tell the stars not to come out at night! The pile has  continued to grow unabated and there have been rather unsavory rustlings in it of late. Last weekend, it was clear that someone had had enough and the whole thing was mysteriously set ablaze! No one bothered to call the fire department, since it is on the bank of the river and there was no real threat to anything nearby. It burned for about two days, even during a rainstorm!

The pile is now a charred mass, and whatever was living in it is gone for now, but guess what? The garden folk are already starting to load it up with new detritus! They never learn.

Ciao for now.

Randy