littlereview: (get critical)
From 'The Princess' )

Except for a few minutes taking a walk in the amazingly gorgeous 70-degree weather to see bunnies and flowers before the rain of the morning returned abruptly while I was admiring my neighbor's daffodils, I spent the entire day working on my Shutterfly book with our France photos. It came in at 43 pages and I didn't even include my very best photo because I had a very similar one that had my kids in it, but I am very pleased with it and pleased that I got it done while my coupon was still good!

And my Google Music Manager is working again! Though I am not sure whether this is because I opened Port 80 and Port 443 or because either Google or Microsoft Firewall updated some setting. Either way, I am glad I can upload "Midnight Confessions" before it gets stuck in my head again. We watched two episodes of "Madam Secretary" which means that we are now halfway caught up, and I believe I am ready to review the penultimate episode of Deep Space Nine tomorrow before bracing myself for the finale.

Here are some photos of the Basilique Royale de Saint-Denis, the Gothic church from the 1100s where most French royals are buried (in whole or in part; some of the graves were ransacked during the Revolution, and monarchs who died during the conflict were buried elsewhere at first). In these photos are statues of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette plus their graves, Charles V and Jeanne de Bourbon, Clovis I and his son Childebert, Francis I and his queen Claude, and the heart of Louis XVII.

Saint-Denis )
littlereview: (photos)
If You Must Hide Yourself From Love )

I am very pleased to report that all our trip laundry has been washed, dried, and folded! That was no small accomplishment while I am trying to get all my best France photos edited and uploaded so I can use my free Shutterfly coupon to make a photo album before the end of the week. I am about halfway through creating the book and impressed with my photos of Paris in the haze, though less impressed with how my photos in the catacombs came out. I don't have all my clothes and scarves and the four decks of playing cards that are my major souvenirs put away yet, but I am working on it!

Tonight I have spent hours at war with both my computers, desktop and laptop, apparently because Windows changed some setting in their latest mandatory update that seems to have affected my firewall, because suddenly I can't FTP or log in to Google Music Manager (the programs allege that I am not connected to the internet when I am; according to several web forums, I am supposed to open Port 80 and Port 443 to fix this, but at this hour I am too tired to figure out how to do that, let alone how they got closed in the first place or whether that IS really why I can't upload music).

Here are some photos of the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, which is not only extraordinary beautiful inside and out -- the castle spans the River Cher, which has swans and herons along the banks, and has gorgeous restored rooms with fresh flowers in most of them, plus it has a hedge maze on the grounds -- but also served as a means of fleeing the Nazis because the long gallery let people escape from the occupied side of the river to the free zone on the other bank. Francis I and Henri II both slept here, as did Catherine de' Medici, who had to share it with her husband's lover.

Over the Cher )
littlereview: (Default)
The Labyrinth )

Tuesday was Paul's 50th birthday, which is crazy -- neither of us has any idea how we got so old, even though Daniel and Adam reassure us regularly that we are. He worked from home, so we had lunch together (don't get excited, it was just sandwiches and faux chicken soup, since he has had a cold since we were in France, though we had some chocolate that my friend from London had brought us). I still have laundry to fold, but the photos have been uploaded to Flickr and to Shutterfly so I can make a book with the coupon Laurie gave me before it expires this weekend!

In the late afternoon we went to College Park to get Paul a sweatshirt, which was one of the things he wanted for his birthday. Adam and Christine came to meet us at the bookstore, then we picked up Daniel and all went to the Silver Diner in Greenbelt, for which we also had a coupon. I had eggs benedict and a chocolate milkshake. We came home to watch Forever (and Agents of SHIELD, which seems to have jumped the shark while we were out of town -- Skye is now being compared to Captain America? It was bad enough when she was being compared to Asgardians).

Here are some photos of the Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres a.k.a. Chartres Cathedral, which had long been at the top of my must-see list in France because of the labyrinth and because it's been around since about 1200 (it was saved during World War II by Americans who refused to destroy it before confirming whether the Germans were using it for local headquarters, which the Germans were not). The coronation of Henri de Navarre, who became Henri IV of France, took place here, and the church has beautiful carvings and gorgeous stained glass that was cleaned and replaced last century.

Our Lady of Chartres )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Jetlag is kicking my butt this evening! I know I did stuff today besides washing laundry, putting away camera stuff, uploading photos, petting my cats, taking a walk to see bunnies, and trying to remember where I packed my deodorant, but I can't at the moment remember what those things were. Tomorrow is a big number birthday for my husband and on his last big number birthday, I completely overlooked it because we'd just flown to London and I had no idea what day it was, so I can't afford to be too sleepy and forget tomorrow!

So I'll go crash, and work on my trip report when I can see clearly, and leave you with some photos of Fontrevaud, where my favorite Plantagenet monarch was once buried (and may still be, though neither Eleanor of Aquitaine nor her son Richard the Lionheart are in their official tombs, which were looted during the French Revolution -- stories persist that they were reburied in secret on the property, but no one has found them if so). The abbey later became the prison where Jean Genet set his stories before it was restored.

Fontrevaud Abbey )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Mostly smooth flight with very good Indian curry for lunch after long wait in airport following delicious breakfast in hotel near airport, easy drive from Dulles, easy trip returning kids to College Park after quick dinner at California Tortilla. Too tired for details, proper trip report in a couple of days, here are the photos I couldn't post last night!

Around Paris IV )
littlereview: (little review)
Another pictureless quickie because we're at a hotel out by the airport whose wi-fi is refusing to let me upload photos. We had a really delightful unexpected extra day in Paris, starting at the Palais Garnier where in addition to the gorgeous ceilings, chandeliers, and sculpture we got to see the auditorium being lit for an upcoming performance. From there we went to the Roman arena and the Pantheon, where we visited the graves of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, and other celebrated French figures. We had lunch at a fantastic creperie in that neighborhood before visiting the Eiffel Tower (crowds too large to go up, though we were lucky in that the Metro was free all day in an effort to encourage people not to drive because pollution has been so bad in the city for the past couple of days). There was still heightened security there and at Napoleon's tomb at the Hotel des Invalides, but the weather was beautiful despite the haze! We had dinner while watching the France-England rugby match with a noisy crowd at Cafe de Luna in Montmartre before getting a cab to the hotel!
littlereview: (jewitch)
The good news is that, because of the Lufthansa strike, we are getting an extra day in Paris. The bad news is that we spent much of the morning running around trying to arrange for a return flight to the U.S. since ours was canceled, and we will need to switch hotels because ours is booked for next week! Paris is a little strained right now, with lots of security carrying visible guns after the attack in Tunisia, but the weather has been gorgeous and we have gotten to see nearly every place on our list.

The blister on my foot is better because we were sitting in a travel agent's office for an hour, though it meant not getting to see Gertrude Stein at Père Lachaise Cemetery, and we took a late afternoon cruise on the sunny Seine after an overcast early afternoon in the Marais, which was in a celebratory mood, lots of people sharing falafel and lots of music being played. We had omelets and crepes for lunch before visiting Victor Hugo's house and curry patties for a late dinner while packing and watching Les Mis!

Around Paris III )

Happy Spring!
littlereview: (jewitch)
Once again too tired for coherency (have blister on my foot from partially twisting my ankle and walking funny because of it yesterday, was in real pain today, but had a wonderful afternoon in which my friend Veronica from London came and met us at Notre Dame Cathedral and we walked all around the area and had tea at le Relais Odéon)! So another day in pictures:

Around Paris II )

Wi-fi is again refusing to upload photos so I shall quit while I am ahead. More tomorrow!
littlereview: (photos)
I am too tired to type so here is my day in pictures:

Around Paris )

More tomorrow if I am not too tired to sit up!
littlereview: (photos)
I am stealing internet time to post a couple of photos! On Tuesday we went to Versailles, which was a combination of sublime and insane -- the architecture and the gardens magnificent even in this early spring before the fountains are on or many flowers in bloom, the crowds and the ostentatious self-aggrandizing artwork a bit much. We spent more time walking to Le Petit Trianon and enjoying the outer buildings than we did in the very mobbed royal apartments and other rooms in the palace. Then we went to the Basilica of St-Denis, where nearly every French king and queen is buried, including the early Merovingian and Carolingian rulers, Francis I whose home we visited yesterday, and both the popular and decapitated Bourbons (the mummified heart of the never-crowned Louis XVII is particularly creepy, though I really loved getting to see the tomb of Clovis I). We had to return the car in the afternoon, so we dropped it off and did a bit of shopping for the wonderful bread, cheese, and soup we had for dinner. We did not partake in the St. Patrick's Day festivities going on at the two pubs nearest our hotel, though it looked like people were enjoying themselves! Two quick pics, more on Instagram!

Harry and the Potters )
littlereview: (get critical)
...where I have no wi-fi even though that was the one thing I told my husband was my absolute requirement in a hotel, so it's going to be very short entries and no pics here for the rest of this trip. You can see my daily pics at my Instagram page. Apologies! Today we went to the beautiful Château de Chenonceau and the magnificent Château de Chambord, with stops to see the exteriors of the Châteaus of Chaumont, Blois, and Menars. We also went to a place I have wanted to visit for many years, the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres, to see the labyrinth, stained glass, and statues. On the way back to Paris we got to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe lit up for the night! I am very sorry that I will be a bad blogger till I get home but it can't be helped!
littlereview: (photos)
...where I am visiting my friend Helene and her family (she was one of my roommates my sophomore year of college, and I have not seen her or her husband for two decades) and had dinner at L'Embarcadere before a quick tour of the town and château! Earlier in the day we drove into the Loire Valley to Fontevraud Abbey, where Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their son Richard the Lionheart lie in effigy (their remains were likely destroyed during the 1500s), then the Château de Brézé, which has the deepest dry moat in Europe and spectacular subterranean rooms. I have lots to say and many photos of all this but I am too exhausted to type, so here is the Château de Blois, more tomorrow!

littlereview: (green little review)
Bonjour from Montmartre! We spent more than half the day traveling, since we had an eight-hour flight to Munich plus an hour and a half flight to Paris and we lost five hours on the clock, but we got to see Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, the monument and Métro station at the Place de Clichy, and the Montmartre Cemetery on the way to grab groceries so we could eat a quick dinner at our hotel (after having been fed three meals on two planes) and try to recover from our relative lack of sleep! We are getting up very early to drive to the Loire Valley to visit several castles, abbeys, and my college suitemate Hélène and her family, so I am going to post a couple of pictures and go collapse!

Because We Can )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Soon after I hit post on this, I will be on a plane bound for Paris by way of Munich so I am lying about what time it is. I spent the day getting ready to go, starting with posting a review of Deep Space Nine's "Extreme Measures". [profile] perkypaduan, who is staying with our cats while we are gone, came over and kept me company while I packed. Now we're at the airport celebrating with Starbucks because the Terrapins just beat Indiana in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Here are some photos of Great Falls last weekend in snow...something we are hoping will have given way to daffodils by the time we get back!

Wintery Falls )
littlereview: (green little review)
Poem for You )

By this time tomorrow night I will be on a plane headed to France! So my entire day was taken up with getting ready for that (no, I'm not packed yet, be serious). I did take a break to walk through the neighborhood since Paul, Angela, and I had seen some crocuses about to open on Wednesday, and because it was nearly 60 degrees, this happened!

Signs of Spring )

We had an early dinner so we could pick our kids up for spring break from College Park, which was mobbed and had lots of traffic, partly because other people were taking stuff home and partly because of whatever was going on at the Xfinity Center. We had to stop at CVS and the food store, then we came home for laundry, packing, and half-watching Elementary!
littlereview: (little review)
After Skate )

I am slightly crazed with packing and chores and work! But mostly crazed in a good way! I spent most of the day writing the review of Deep Space Nine's "Extreme Measures" that I need to post on Friday because I won't have time to work on it tomorrow. Then I dyed my hair and cleaned the toilet and folded towels and other very exciting chores! During all this we had not one but two Comcast techs visit...and our On Demand STILL is not working. Prepare for an update that we have switched to Verizon before the month ends.

Angela and Kevin came over for leftovers from my mother's birthday dinner. We took a brief walk, discussed which movie franchises are jumping the shark, and watched Cats -- the video of the 1998 London stage production with Elaine Paige and Ken Page -- since Kevin had never seen it despite being a self-declared cat person (our cats love him and rubbed all over him). They brought Cadbury mini eggs and I behaved and only ate about 15. Here are some photos from late last fall of Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood:

Federal Baltimore )
littlereview: (get critical)
Closed )

On Tuesday after a bunch of morning chores, I went out to mail a package at the post office -- where it took as long to find a parking space as it did to wait in line and pay for postage at the counter -- then to do what I thought would be a very easy, quick task at the mall, namely to find a pair of 100% cotton plain black leggings. Wrong! It is easy to find black jeggings, black tights, black spandex leggings, black lacy leggings, black stretch denim leggings with or without little glittery studs -- oh, and 100% cotton plain olive green leggings -- but neither Macy's nor Old Navy nor Sears nor any of a bunch of smaller clothing stores had what I wanted. (It is possible that Nordstrom did, but the online price for black cotton leggings at Nordstrom is $55 and I'd rather just wear pyjamas.)

In consolation for all this failure, I did get two pairs of corduroy stretch pants that were originally $44 each for $3.99 apiece at Macy's "get this winter stuff off our racks please so we can put out the summer stuff" sale, plus a $58 robe for $5.99. Paul made a belated birthday dinner for my mother, so we ate with my parents. Most of my TV shows were not on and we still haven't caught up on Sunday's shows because our Comcast TV is still not working -- allegedly Comcast is coming to do something about this tomorrow -- but we did manage to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where I must report that Skye is still the most special snowflake who ever flaked and we should all feel deeply sorry for her because of this! Here are some photos of the ice and snow at Great Falls last weekend:

Ice in the Water )
littlereview: (get critical)
Willow Poem )

I spent what was, for me, a lovely Monday with Cheryl, though due to an ongoing family emergency it was probably not as lovely a day for her, unfortunately! We went out and got Indian food to bring home, then ate it while -- because we wanted something happy and mindless -- we watched Amy Adams and Matthew Goode in Leap Year (in which they and Ireland are very attractive, and don't ask about the plot). After that, we watched the superbly acted and filmed, kind of oddly-scripted at times Mr. Turner (how did Bradley Cooper get a nomination and not Timothy Spall?). I wish the women in his life had been characterized in more detail, but it's worth watching anyway.

Then, despite our ambivalence based on many mixed reviews, we went to see Kingsman. To keep my blood pressure down, I purposefully avoided thinking about the racial and gender politics, and I watched the violence by pretending things like everyone in the church scene was a hologram. If you can shut your brain off to that degree, Colin Firth looks very fine in a suit and has lovely chemistry with both Mark Strong and Taron Egerton (what, you thought any of the women had a substantial enough part for a romance?). Comcast was down in the evening so we are still behind on Madam Secretary and OUAT. Ducks at the National Geographic Museum a couple of weeks ago:

Museum Quackery )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Pantoum )

The morning after Daylight Savings begins always requires sleeping late, whichever way the clocks are moving. After we eventually got up and ate lunch, we decided to go to Great Falls to see how high the canal and river were after all the snow last week. The towpath was a combination of ice, slush, and mud, so our shoes are not pretty, but the river was spectacular -- huge rapids at all three bridges to the island -- and there were vultures, seagulls, herons, and a pair of ducks around. And the temperature was gorgeous!

In the evening we picked up my parents and went out to dinner for my mother's birthday at the Busboys & Poets in Hyattsville, stopping in College Park -- home of the Big Ten Champion women's basketball team! -- to pick up Daniel, Adam, and Adam's girlfriend Christine. Suffice to say that although the food was good (and there were lots of veggie options), it was the worst service I have ever received at any restaurant and after two and a half hours we decided to skip dessert. At least the Night of Too Many Stars rerun is on!

Busboys No Poets )
littlereview: (Default)
Diary Of A Church Mouse )

We had a crazy number of chores to do on Saturday that required driving all around the county, which normally would not have been a big deal, but between the accidents and the road repairs in the wake of the snowstorm -- even though it was over 50 degrees and we had icicles crashing on the deck all morning -- the Beltway and various local roads were a mess! We started by meeting Ocean Orchestra bandleader Jennifer Cutting in Takoma Park because I wanted to buy her magnificent mermaid moccasins, then we went to Rockville for lunch at Noodles & Co. and a whole bunch of shopping, primarily AAA for maps, bike lock for son, and kitty litter, where we also saw this:

Warm Fuzzies )

Then we drove up to Gaithersburg because we also had a shopping list at Kohl's and Target, for which we also had coupons. We did not go see the geese on the melting lake because we needed to get home to feed our starving cats. We also had dinner ourselves, watched the Maryland women's basketball team win their Big 10 semifinal game, then watched an episode of Inspector Lewis (so much fun playing spot-the-British-actor on BBC shows -- this one had Kitty from Elementary and Lavinia from Downton Abbey). Now we're watching Chris Hemsworth on Saturday Night Live (somehow he looks shorter with short hair) trying to decide whether to stay up while the clocks go back!


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