Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spring Update

It's no surprise; I don't feel like writing much these days. Looking back, though, over the past 3 or 4 months, I haven't been sitting, watching the world go by.
We went to the UK at the end of February for a lovely visit with the family, there. No, we didn't do much -- just appreciated the family! That's enough for us. On my birthday, the very day, at the beginning of February, I found just the knitting machine I'd been on the lookout for -- a brother "bulky" machine with its ribber. It was my birthday. I figured it was meant for me, so I arranged to buy it from the very nice lady in Bedford -- not far from Northampton, really. I asked G. if he could pick it up for me, pay the lady in cash.... And he did. So, when we arrived at the end of the month, by car, it was waiting for me and all I had to do was pay G. back.
I managed to set the machine up just before leaving for the US in mid-March. I even managed to make a scarf for T. for his birthday! There were a few sloppy patches -- dropped stitches in the Fisherman's Rib -- that I had to repair by hand, but nothing catastrophic. I also made a scarf for my high school friend in Florida, T.
This leads to the trip to the US -- first a night in Philly with M. T. and her husband. Very enjoyable evening with these old, old family friends (our grandparents were close friends, already) and then into Philly in the morning for an agreeable meeting with the Commissioner for Elections at the Election Board to discuss some of the glitches in the absentee system -- between the Board of Elections and the pavoter site.
After the meeting, I took the train to the airport and caught my flight down to DC, where I got a new metro card and hopped onto the metro to go out to T. and B.'s. Friday evening was T' 90th birthday party! Earlier that day, I had a cup of coffee with K. and talked about what was happening as far as our overseas Americans issues were concerned. He's been working with the Republicans Overseas on their tax proposal, which promotes territorial taxation. He's also been involved with setting up a Congressional hearing on FATCA, to be held later this month. He's also very homesick for France. When I got back to the house, I saw my cousin T. and R. for a little while, before we all went off to get ready for the party. It was a wonderful family reunion. Cousins not seen for a long, long time. Family never met before. My brother, J., and T, of course, down from Pittsburgh. Lively conversation. A successful party!
Sunday, I moved out of their house to go to the airbnb room I had rented in DC. It was simply a room this time, not a whole apartment, as I had no one to share with. The apartment belongs to a charming young engineer. We didn't run into each other very much. The only complaint I could have was the spotty wifi connection. I could connect if I was in the living room sitting in front of the box, but as soon as I went back to my room, the connection was gone. It was not far from the U-street station and just a little farther to the Dupont Circle station.
On a map, nothing looks far. I got off the metro at Dupont Circle and walked down to the Staples at 19th and L to pick up the printing of our position papers that I had ordered on line. It was a bit longer walk than I had thought it would be, but since I stopped for lunch on the way, it was a nice walk. On the way to my room though, it was a much longer walk, even if I didn't go back up to Dupont Circle, and dragging my suitcase and the printing was not pleasant. The room was on 15th, between R and S.
Early in the evening, I walked over to Dupont Circle -- the others were staying close by. We met at the Cosmos Club, which is just behind the Phillips Collection. I arrived early enough to spend a little while at the Phillips. They had a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit on. My back gave out after only half an hour, so I wandered off to the Cosmos and ran into N. just as I entered the building. I distributed our position papers to the others.
We had some interesting meetings both on and off the Hill. I've written my reports and talked about it since coming back and do not want to dwell on it, here. For me, the week was over after the meeting at the State Department on Friday. I went back to my room to collect my suitcase and then took the metro to the airport.
There was a big P family gathering in Orlando to celebrate Roger. BIG. On Saturday, 18 of us went to the New Smyrna for a day at the beach. I fell asleep and the back of my legs got a bit burnt. In the evening, there was a big dinner party for family and then more people came as dessert time for the celebration of his life. G. has published a wonderful book of his musings, poetry, and artwork, which I was able to pick up before leaving. Sunday morning, we all gathered at the house for brunch. It was ever so pleasant to be with the clan. The day went on and we had scrumptious leftovers and not just leftovers. After the week in DC, I felt relaxed, at last.
Monday, I took off, on my own, to visit T and her husband on the west coast of Florida. First, I left the road to go to a yarn shop in Winter Haven, Four Purls. They couldn't have been nicer, but they did not have the kind of inexpensive cotton I was looking for. They had plenty of other beautiful yarns and if any Floridians who knit or crochet are reading this, I recommend the place. Then it was back roads through rural Florida -- horse farms, mostly -- to T's. And we gabbed and gabbed and gabbed and watched a movie (Lion) and gabbed and gabbed. I must compliment her husband on his patience with us. They treated me to a great buffet style restaurant -- nothing special, just plain good food.
I guess I wasn't as relaxed and back to my normal state as I thought I was. I managed to convince myself that my flight back was on Tuesday, so instead of spending the day and another night at T's, I ended up rushing back to Orlando, picked up the book from G., and rushed to the airport. There, I discovered I didn't have my passports and French wallet. I had left them in the safe at the hotel in Orlando on Monday morning! Panic. Calls to the hotel and finally the receptionist on the phone with me got into her car to bring them to me. Then, the realization that my ticket was for Wednesday, not Tuesday. I was so upset. I gave the receptionist a nice tip and thanked her but did not mention the date mixup! I couldn't. All this had taken quite some time. I would have missed my flight had it really been for Tuesday. I was still upset at having gotten all mixed up. I went to find an inexpensive hotel near the airport with shuttle service (I had turned in the car, of course.), ordered a pizza, and watched TV until I fell asleep. The next morning, I spent about an hour by the pool and took the shuttle back to the airport with lots and lots of time before my flight, so I managed to get off my thank you notes and have a nice lunch.
Back to France and departure almost immediately for four days in Valencia with our Pierwige friends. Not all of them. This time we were a group of 3 couples. Valencia is a beautiful city. The architecture is grandiose and each building is different. It's a change from the Haussmann uniformity of Paris. Different colors, different styles. This was a pleasant break. M. had done all the organizing, so kudos to her, and I just relaxed and got over my jetlag.
Upon return to France, this time, we had the AARO annual general meeting on March 31, which I had had the responsibility of organizing. It went off well. A. had gotten us our guest speaker, Jim Bittermann, who was exceptional. He spoke on the state of the media. It was a refreshing subject -- not American-centric, not Paris or French-centric. The following week, it was the Tax 202 seminar (Tax 101 was on March 6) and I had had the responsibility of that one, too. During that week, we also had a 5-year-old grandson staying with us. We had done some gardening in the gorgeous Spring weather and my back was killing me on Thursday. It still is, in fact.
The first week of Spring break, then, we had S. with us and this past week, he and sister and mother have been at her parents'. It was A's birthday, this week. We went to the Al Thani jewel exhibit at the Grand Palais.
I've done some knitting, but can't sit for long periods because of my back. Writing this has taken me to the limit, today.

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