Category: Holidays


It’s been a wild and crazy week, full of highs and lows  . . . a typical Thanksgiving, right?

First of all, we got SNOW on Monday — about 6 inches fell and closed the city uptight. Tuesday dawned cold and clear and ICY, making the day difficult. We chose not to go into to work, but the turkey had to be picked up and a few more errands run. So John chose to go out into the cold and brave the driving. He was doing great, until the car in front of him put on its brake and so he had to, too . . . and hit a patch of ice. My understanding is that he did a 360* and the pickup (formerly behind him, now facing him) hit the front passenger side. No one was injured, but the car is a wreck.

So the SUV I had reserved for the large family to trundle around in became very important . . . and Enterprise couldn’t help me. Seems that no one turned in their vehicle on Monday, so there were no SUVs available on Tuesday. And even though I’m a Plus member, and made my reservation in SEPTEMBER, I was not first on the list to get a replacement. I was supposed to pick the vehicle up at noon, and found out at 7:30am that there were non available. At 10, I called and said ‘give me anything that will fit 5 adults.’ OK, they said, we’ve got that on the lot. ‘Will you come and get me?’ We’re having trouble with that, but the roads are getting better all the time, so give us an hour and we’ll see, they told me. Ok . . . and an hour later I called. Um, no, can’t come get you yet, the roads are still too bad.

Now I’d buy this normally . . . John *did* just get into an accident after all. But the construction guys in crappy cars made it here. So I know it’s not that awful. But we were stuck. Fortunately, our friend Steve — who lives all the way across the valley — agreed to come and get me. Steve was fantastic. It was only his SECOND time driving in snow and he was nervous as heck. But he got me to the rental place and I was able to pick up my family only 30 mins after they arrived.

After that, things went great. We all had a lot of fun hanging out and talking. (A major pastime in my family.) Connor was a joy and we all had a lot of fun playing in the snow. Connor and Sasha particularly enjoyed the weather. We even ended up having a snowman on our front lawn!

We didn’t make a big deal about it,  but I know that I am truly thankful for so many things:

A beautiful home.

A loving partner to share it with.

A sweet dog to keep me playful.

A great job that keeps me interested and engaged.

Fantastic friends who make me laugh.

A wonderful family that continues to get better with the years.

 

Lisa and I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day much; for reasons we won’t go into here, it just wasn’t a holiday that we glommed on to. In a way it was fine, since my flowers budget can go a lot further in March-January than it can around the middle of February. Still, I’d felt a small bit of frission every year as the 14th rolled around and my response to “so what are you two doing?” remained “meh, nothing.”

Last year, we happened to be in Mexico for Valentine’s Day with a contingent of her family. No one thing pushed me over, but I decided I actually wanted to mark the day, so we told everyone else there that we’d be unavailable that evening and instead we had dinner at a rooftop restaurant on the water. It wasn’t the most fabulous restaurant ever, but it was relatively quiet, and clean, and it had a wine list instead of a “what’s on top” category on the menu, and we had a good time. To top it off I’d bought (gasp!) jewelry – a silver pendant and quasi-matching earrings (which were broken, and that’s a story for another time). In any case, we had a nice time and didn’t over-do it.

So this year, Lisa was in charge; one of the many reasons I love her, she wanted her turn. ;) We stayed in, and she prepared the shmanciest meal anyone ever has for me. We had beef wellington(!) including the yummy duxselles that I’d never had before. I’m not usually a fan of pate, but this was good. She made a wonderful potato gratin and a spinach gratin that, honestly, is the first time I’ve more than just tolerated spinach as anything more than a garnish. As a capper, she swirled some of her pumpkin butter from the holidays into a chocolate bundt cake, resulting in a marbled little slice of dessert heaven.

I made a salad.

For a couple who hadn’t shown much interest in Valentine’s Day before now, that’s two really nice ones in a row. Which, of course, yields the inevitable thought: “Oh God, now it’s my turn again.” :D

 

Business Class is _the_ way to fly to Europe, and Melatonin is your friend. We ate well, I had yummy wine (1st Class was essentially empty so the cabin attendant brought me back wine from that cabin to drink — and gave me a bottle “to taste” for the hotel room.) and we slept at least 3 hours. I say this with pleasure because our trip to London elicited catnaps and maybe an hours sleep — TOTAL. *shudder*. Business Class seats are much more comfortable (they recline nearly 180 degrees for one thing) than Economy Plus, and the food was very very good, and so is the wine. It was seriously empty, so we had lots of individual attention. Oh — and the ‘amenity bags’ are great! Eye mask, ear plugs, socks, toothbrush & toothpaste, and really nice moisturizer. All in a very handy bag.

You saw my previous post about CDG, I won’t repeat my impressions.

Dinner was at 8:30pm at Le Tastevin, a multi-hundred year old restaurant on the Ile de St. Louis, an island in the middle of the Seine River which is nearly as old as the birtplace of Paris. We walked from our hotel, and it took a little longer than we expected, so when we rounded the corner to the restaurant, we walked right in  . . . to a woman in a long gown and pointy-princess hat (you know — the fancy dunce cap with a piece of gauze on the tip) singing. She looked at us like we were carrying dog shit, so we quickly stepped back out and consulted. Yes, we were in the right place. Yes, it was exactly 8:30pm, the time of our reservation. Yes, the singing woman was right in front of the only entrance in to the restaurant. Ok, clearly this is surreal time.

 

I will now tell you three funny things and the not at all funny thing that came about as a result of their existence. Funny thing about a laptop — it needs power to operate for more than a few hours. Funny thing about France — they have a different power source/plug configuration. Funny thing about the power converter we bought (good for use in 150 countries!): it sisn’t designed for three prong plugs, only two.

So we got a converter at the airport on our way home. That’s why we’ve been silent since the first ‘we’re here!’ posts.

Read on for the deluge!

 

And even slept.

Our only delay was on the flight leaving SeaTac, which had to be de-iced. Denver and Washington were both a mild 50 degrees and we had no issues at all.  We both napped on the short legs, and got a solid 3 or so hours of sleep on the segment over the Atlantic. The Business/1st Class section was very empty, and we got a lot of personalized attention from our steward. He brought me wine from 1st class to drink “as a tasting”

CDG is a bizarre airport but not fiendishly difficult to navigate, just ignore the jetlag and double check your directions. Be warned: the pedestrian walkways (moving belts) UNDULATE. So don’t let go of your suitcase because it will slide down the hill and hit the people in back of you. (This did not happen to us, but I worried about it.) Customs was a check of the passport and waved through. (No paperwork????)

Finally, after moving up a walkway that spewed us out (eeriely reminiscent of the egg laying scene in Aliens, but without the goo.  Or the alien.) we emerged into the baggage claim area. There we waited until about 7:15am and picked up our bag (basically our bag was the first off the plane — this much good luck does not bode well for the return trip. *sigh*).

Following the signs, we made our way to the RER, line B, bought tickets, and got on the train. Then we had a scary moment as our train, which had about 20 stops before the one we wanted, just went through station after station without stopping. We got off briefly at Gare du Nord and then realized that our train was NOW going to stop at the rest of the stations. So we got back on. And — voila! — exited at Luxembourg. Total cost = 16.80e (approx. $20).

Then it was up and out (with a little delay as our tickets initially weren’t accepted — and you can NOT get out without them) and amoment of whcih direction is North? You see, I’d mapped out our walking directions (just a few blocks) but they were based on knowing which direction is North. And the sky was overcast (it was even dawn yet — but that can’t be right, can it?). So we attempted logic and started walking. Happiness is finding a local map and seeing that you hadn’t just walked three blocks out of your way. Up, and over, and here we are at the Grand Hotel St. Michel. Thsi place looks like an old-timey hotel, but the rooms are sleekly euro/modern complete with flat screen TV on the wall, WiF, a mini fridge, a HUGE tub, and real windows that overlook a sweet courtyard.

It was about 2 hours from landing to our arrival at the hotel.

We unpacked our clothes a bit (basically hung up what we’re wearing tonight) and fell into bed. It was incredibly hard for me to fall asleep. But about 9am  I put earplugs in and fell off the face of the earth until about noon. John’s having a shower and we’re getting ready to go for a walk around the neighborhood before returning to dress for dinner.