I have put more photos up in the March Picasa album. That'll be it for March! Claire also has an album; some of you have received an invitation to view it. She also included some of my photos, in case you think you're seeing double.
We came back from England with Claire and Aurelia as bonus passengers. We had gotten news on Saturday that Paul's mother had taken a downturn that week and we all went down to Toulon during the past week to visit with her and spend a nice time at Pierre and Gillette's. Louis, Gwen and Anne all came over on Sunday evening for a potluck dinner and to discuss who was going to Toulon and when. Cassandre, the student costume designer and seamtress who has spent the last month with us, had prepared dinner for the three of us, so when Anne showed up a little before we arrived, and announced there'd be more coming, they managed to add more spaghetti and feed us all. Cassandre made a really good bolognaise sauce and a pear and chocolate pie for dessert.
We spent Monday clearing appointments and such. Paul, Claire and Aurelia drove down to Toulon on Tuesday. Paul and I had tried contacting Emma and she finally picked up her messages and called Paul. It just so happened that she was on a short break in Nice, so instead of going to Italy with her friend, she came to Toulon, too, and visited her grandmaman before Paul and Claire arrived and they spent the night at Pierre and Gillette's. Louis, Anne and I took an early TGV on Wednesday morning. We met up with Emma at the station in Toulon before she headed back to Nice and Paul drove us to Pierre and Gillette's for lunch before we went to visit Marguerite. It looks like she has probably had a series of strokes, each one taking her a bit further down. It's such a shame. But she lit up a bit on seeing Aurelia and the rest of us. Louis and Anne took an evening train back to Paris. Paul, Claire, Aurelia and I stayed another night and left on Thursday after another visit in the morning.
We drove Claire and Aurelia to the Nice airport and continued on small, picturesque roads up to Sisteron, where we stopped for the night. The weather was not very nice, gray, and spring is not far-enough advanced for the scenery to be beautiful. We didn't stop on the way. We noticed that the artificial lake at St. André des Alpes seems to be very low, making us wonder if it had been drained! We couldn't find any information about that on the Internet, though. Friday, we continued on the mountain roads towards Valence and just as we came out of the last shoelace turn we were hit by a hailstorm. It's a good thing we were finished with the tight turns because the hail was thick on the road and made driving hellish. We almost went off a couple of times. For once we were really glad to reach the autoroute at Valence.
Cassandre is leaving us today. Her next internship is in Montpellier. Then she goes back to school for two more months.
I'm getting ready for the trip to DC. I've got a bit of homework to do before I make some calls to senators' offices tomorrow to try to set up appointments.
Andy, one of my AARO friends and the guy who made me want to participate in this doorknocking activity, found this article in today's NYT, with a mention and a picture of fellow AARO member, Grace. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/fashion/28hiddenparis.html I've been meaning to go to her place for quite some time, but there's always something else going on. Maybe with Spring here and daylight savings time, I'll be more adventuresome.
I've tried to do my US tax declaration but I'm pretty sure I've screwed up because I need a refresher course on how to fill in one of the forms concerning foreign taxes paid. Of course, since we don't do French taxes until May, and we haven't received all the paperwork, it always makes it confusing. You'd think that since most of the paperwork is produced by software and is, or can be, delivered via the internet, it would be made available sooner, but no. So, I'll probably have to file a rectification and get a little refund!