Friday, August 15, 2008

Before I catch the plane

This has been a great visit! But before I start talking about the trip and the reunion, I should start with Anne's news. Anne has found an apartment and is waiting for the current owner to return from his vacation to sign the first set of papers! It's a one-bedroom ground-floor apartment in Paris near the Gare de Lyon, on a pedestrian passage with little foot traffic, in view of a square, and next to a "velib" stand (in case she decides to ride a bike). I've only seen pictures and am anxious to see it in person. She's put some pictures up on Picasa, but you'll have to get in touch with her if you want her to send you the link. As I arrived in the US, I had a text message announcing that she and the owner had agreed on a price, so that was a wonderful start to the trip.
As usual, it's always nice visiting Jon's family in Pittsburgh! It's almost like going home, now. I didn't get lost at all on the way in from the airport and didn't even have to look at the map. This time, everyone was home. Tobi and I set out the very next day to go shopping - a girls' day out with shopping, lunch and a manucure! And then on Friday, we went into Pittsburgh énd settled the estate matters and that is now done. That meant that the next days were really just relaxing and hanging out.
It's always strange to see national coverage of the Olympics. No matter what country you're in, the coverage is totally chauvinistic - all about "us", whoever "us" is. Well, I'm in the States, so "us" is "US". A bit much after a few days.
On Tuesday, I headed to the Catskills for our '68 Girls' High Band and Orchestra reunion. Joan, who could only stay for dinner on Tuesday, and Gail, who had returned to her Balkan camp for the morning, aren't in this photo, but Erica, Barbara and Bonnie are. And Bonnie's daughter, Sarah, was with us! Morty and Mike, Erica and Barbara's husbands were off finding birds to watch. After 40 years, we just seemed to pick up where we left off. Over the years, I have seen Erica, Gail and Barbara occasionally - Barbara, at the end of June in Paris, in fact - but still, I hadn't seen Bonnie or Joan. This was great! Our vocal chords got a gabfest workout. And I learned a new card game: "laugh-a-dora" or "la fedora"? Probably a childhood invention of Erica's cousin that never got spelled out. I'll go with the "laugh-a-dora" spelling because the result is uncontrolled laughter!
Then I had to return to Pittsburgh to catch my flight. I did call to see how much it would cost me to leave the car in Philly and and catch the international flight there, but changing the car contract was outrageously expensive, so I didn't even bother asking US Airways if I could skip the Pittsburgh to Philly segment. Actually, I enjoy these day-long drives admiring the scenery and listening to NPR. Last night, I wrote a note to Arnaud about the Binghamton area since he'll be moving there, soon, for a couple of years.
Funny thing about the hotel I stayed in - no cell phone access, but free internet, so I was able to use Skype to call Jon about something. I wonder if hotels are blocking cell phones to try to force you to use the land line. Can you imagine? A local call from wherever I was cost a minimum of $2.00! But if movie theaters can block cell phones (and I certainly appreciate that!) I bet hotels can do it, too!

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