littlereview: (green little review)
We spent nearly all of Thursday traveling, though I did get plenty of exercise racing through Munich's massive airport after we took off thirty minutes late from Toulouse due to some sort of medical emergency with someone on our plane and had to go running to make our connecting flight to Dulles. Fortunately the snack Lufthansa fed us on the flight to Munich was big enough to count for lunch, and they fed us dinner and breakfast on the flight to DC even though it wasn't an overnight flight! We are very tired now and have lots of laundry and unpacking to do. Our one sightseeing activity for the day after leaving our hotel breakfast and before returning the rental car was a visit to Toulouse's Roman amphitheater ruins, surrounded by a quiet neighborhood and big contemporary church:

Romans Were Here )
littlereview: (jewitch)
This is our last night in France, which makes me sad, though I also miss my cats and people at home so I will be glad to see them! Today I am exhausted not from staying up sightseeing but from hiking up to the Château de Montségur, where the Cathars made their last stand. It's a long, steep hike up at elevation, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, and completely worth it. Earlier in the day we visited another Cathar castle, the Château de Puivert, which has several restored rooms among its ruined towers including one that celebrates the troubadours from the region who gathered there. It's an easy walk up the hill from the parking lot to Puivert, though there's no running water anywhere in the area so the only bathroom is three trees to the left of the trail.

We brought cheese sandwiches for lunch from our hotel because we weren't sure we'd be able to find an open cafe in the remote areas in which we were traveling, so we had a picnic beneath Montségur, then continued on to Toulouse. After so many days in gorgeous, spiritually important small towns, I wasn't sure whether the city would be disappointing, but the historic areas are right next to the university here and it's like a big, happy college town with dozens of cafes and hundreds of people sitting by the Garonne River enjoying a spectacular sunset. We're going to try to see Toulouse's Roman amphitheatre before we head to the airport in the morning!

Castles and Churches )
littlereview: (photos)
We spent Tuesday in the land of the Cathars, beginning at the Cité de Carcassonne which was a center of the religion that was the target of the Albigensian Crusades. We toured the incredible restored walled city, which maintains some of the earliest Roman features in its largely medieval fortress, and visited the Museum of the Inquisition before having lunch in one of the cafés that now occupy the old stone buildings. Then we drove to Rennes-les-Bains, a town founded over the hot springs along the river Sals, which feeds into the Aude. This town and Rennes-le-Chateau are connected with legends concerning Mary Magdalene and the Templar treasure, and we visited the latter as well, though the Bérenger Saunière museum with its links to the Merovingians, the Cathars, the Priory of Sion, the Holy Grail, and Mary Magdalene was not open, though we got to see several Cathar ruins in the nearby mountains. Now we're in Campagne-sur-Aude so that in the morning we can visit Montsegur, where the Cathars made their last stand.

Languedoc )
littlereview: (green little review)
Monday was a nearly perfect though extremely tiring day, starting with breakfast in Arles and visits to the Van Gogh and Roman sites we hadn't seen the day before, then lunch and a visit to the church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, then a wonderful visit to the nearby Parc Ornithologique de Pont-de-Gau with its incredible waterfowl, and finally dinner in Carcassonne with a longtime online friend and her family who drove all the way from Barcelona to see us when we couldn't meet them in Perpignan! A few photos:

Across the South )
littlereview: (green little review)
Sunday was a day of antiques -- walled cities, ancient structures, castles, churches, art. We started after breakfast by parking within the walls of old Avignon, where we toured the papal palace, which is pretty amazing; parts are in major disrepair after the buildings were used as barracks during the early part of the last century, but the size of the place and the magnificence of the still-decorated and restored rooms is hard to miss. We left the French popes to visit Pont du Gard, site of part of an ancient Roman aqueduct and a museum on Roman ruins in the region. We had crepes for lunch there and walked across the river along the Nîmes aqueduct.

Then we drove to Tarascon to visit the Église Sainte-Marthe, named for another woman who knew Jesus personally, came to France after his death, and is famous for taming a local monster with holy water. We also saw the imposing Chateau de Tarascon with its moat and representation of the monster! We finished the day in Arles, where to our disappointment Van Gogh's Cafe de Nuit was closed since it's the off season for tourists, but we got to see some spots where Van Gogh painted as well as some of the Roman ruins, plus we found a little cafe that stayed open late to serve us wine plus excellent bread and cheese concoctions!

Sinners and Saints, Ancient Romans, Artists )
littlereview: (jewitch)
After waking up to watch the sun rise over the Mediterranean Sea, eating a huge breakfast surrounded by men in town for the Delko Marseille-Provence bicycle race, and peeking at Sainte-Maxime's botanical gardens, we drove into the hills to the visitor center at the Hotellerie de la Sainte-Baume, from which we walked up a very steep couple of kilometers to the stunning Sainte-Baume grotto where Mary Magdalene reputedly lived and died after fleeing the Holy Land. We had a picnic in the park below the grotto before driving to the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, which claims Mary's bones. When we walked a bit around the town, we were surprised to find a New Age spiritual store with items devoted not only to the Catholic saints celebrated in the basilica but many other world religious traditions from Judaism to Buddhism, run by people who commiserated about the terrible US election and told us how worried they are about Marine Le Pen and the right-wing lunatics in France. From there, we drove to Cavaillon, which has a Jewish museum housed in the onetime synagogue that dates back centuries. Now we are in Avignon, where we have had excellent Italian-French food!

From the Sea to Avignon )
littlereview: (photos)
Another quickie because I can't keep my eyes open! We had a long, lovely day starting with breakfast in Marseille (excellent bread, cheese, chocolate croissants) followed by a visit to the Calanque de Sormiou, but the fog was so thick that we could barely see either the tops of the hills or the water below. So we headed toward Toulon, first visiting Fort Balaguier's naval museum, then Toulon's own maritime museum. We brought cheese and bread to make sandwiches which we ate in one of the squares. From there we headed to Le Cannet, where one of my personal heroines is buried. Now we're right next to Saint-Tropez enjoying the beach, though it's a bit chilly to swim, since lots of flowers are in bloom and there's a lemon tree covered with fruit right outside our window, plus lots of just-released Johto Pokemon!

Toulon, Le Cannet, Sainte Maxime )
littlereview: (jewitch)
...where Paul and I arrived mid-morning after and overnight flight and connection through Frankfurt (which was quite turbulent for a while and then we were flying with a perfectly clear view of the Irish coast, Cardiff, Bristol, London, and parts of Belgium and Germany, so we got almost no sleep). So this will be a short-on-comments picture post, whereas other days in Provence it may be hard to post photos so it will be all talky! In general we had stunning sunny weather, were well fed on both flights, and were able either to make ourselves understood in bad French or to find people who speak English, so it's all been great!

Vieux Port )
littlereview: (little review)
L'amour )

My Tuesday involved lots of chores, but it was a good day -- Paul got a job offer from his first interview! (Which is sucky timing as they want him to start instantly, but it's still a positive after a year of a massive amount of shit.) We had to drag Maddy shopping a bunch of places so we took her to lunch at California Tortilla, which has its Superfood Burrito Bowls back and free Nutella chips for Valentine's Day, plus we had Valentine candy from my parents and each other.

I spent the late afternoon doing exciting things like dyeing my hair, backing up my hard drive, and folding laundry, and we had a crazy busy evening with more chores, so we didn't eat dinner till after 8 p.m. in front of the television watching A Good Year, because it's Valentine's Day and it has Russell and Cheryl has it so we could watch together long distance. And we caught up on Victoria, where I missed Rufus. Here is Lego Batman from my Valentine this year:

littlereview: (green little review)
Poetic Justice (for Legos) )

On Monday Cheryl came over for lunch and movies! We went to Zoe's Kitchen to pick up hummus and baked feta, then watched The LEGO Movie (a vastly better movie than La La Land, though to be fair it's a better movie than 9/10 of movies ever made) in anticipation of the day's main event, The LEGO Batman Movie with Paul, who earlier had a job interview. Everything was, to borrow a phrase from the prequel, awesome -- tons of references to previous Batmans including a number of shout-outs to the '60s TV show and appropriate mocking of both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. I'm pretty sure it even squeaks a Bechdel Test pass. And the soundtrack is very enjoyable.

Since we'd spent the day watching animated films already, we decided to finish by tracking down Moana which is still in a few theaters. I love that movie too; I know some people don't like the way Polynesian people are visualized but the female characters are great, the songs are catchy, the water looks amazing, and there's a goddess in it. We ate so many snacks that we didn't need much dinner, and after Delta went home, Paul and I watched this week's The Young Pope, which was quite sad, and Timeless, which kind of needed a stronger historical story to counterbalance the ongoing conspiracy (Lucy gave up finding her sister for this?). From Green Spring Gardens last weekend:

Winter Spring Greens )
littlereview: (get critical)
The Supremes )

I lost all of Sunday morning to a migraine that I couldn't figure out (not MSG, not snow, not the time of month) until the storm that blew in an hour ago and I checked the air pressure over the course of the past 24 hours. I had to stay horizontal, so we didn't leave the house until afternoon, when we went to Kohl's and Target for some necessities. Then we took Maddy to work and went to College Park for more shopping with Adam, with whom we also had dinner at the Silver Diner since breakfast food was all my stomach could handle.

We got home in time for the Grammys (I saw the annoying BAFTA results and decided I didn't need to watch; good for Viola and Dev and I don't mind Damien winning but UGH ENOUGH LA LA LAND). We missed Adele's start, which I understand was more impressive than her George Michael tribute, but we saw Beyonce's fantastic performance as a goddess and Adele's thank you to Beyonce was quite moving (and she's right, Lemonade should have won album of the year). Corden should get the Oscars next. Brookside Gardens this winter:

Flowers Inside and Out )
littlereview: (green little review)
The Passing of the Wild Geese )

I was craving flowers on Saturday, so after breakfast Paul and I went to Green Spring Gardens in Virginia, where they actually have daffodils blooming! They also have crocuses, snowdrops, witch hazel, heath, lenten roses, and jasmine, plus camellias that bloom through the fall and winter. The turtles are still hiding, but we saw some geese and ducks, and the house was set up for an afternoon tea.

Winter Flowers )

We came home to take Maddy to work, walked in Cabin John Park since it was nice out, then came back to watch the Maryland-Ohio State game, which had a satisfactory ending. And I caught a Porygon right across the street from my house! We spent the evening organizing our Kindles and watching some ninth season Bones, and now we're watching Saturday Night Live, the only thing in America improved by bad politics.
littlereview: (get critical)
The Flight of the Geese )

I had a lot of chores to do on Friday so this won't be an exciting entry. It was Paul's last day of work at the place he's been for the past twenty years -- well, technically the last day is on Sunday, but since the office is closed between now, the people taking over the work in India had better know how to fix any long distance crises by now -- so he went to drop off his laptop and blackberry. When we dropped Maddy off at work, we left the car to get one of the tires fixed, since it had lost pressure for the third time in two weeks. The puncture wasn't large but because of the location it had to be replaced.

We had dinner with my parents, who had Valentine presents for us but I forgot our Valentine presents for them. Then we came home and caught up on Blindspot, whose conspiracy this season is not making a lot of sense; I miss when it was family drama and clues from tattoos and less convoluted conspiracy centered on Weller. Now we're watching ninth season Bones, where I would be willing to forgive the increasingly gross corpses but the Pelant crap will not die and that's more annoying. Here are some photos from Great Falls last month when the vultures and geese were out in greater numbers than the tourists:

Winter Wildfowl )
littlereview: (trek)
Still Life )

Thursday was a day of bright blue skies interspersed with high winds and snow squalls -- nothing stuck, but a couple of times it was coming down so hard that it looked like heavy fog had surrounded us and was spitting out flakes. Maddy went with Alice to get manicures while I tested Kindle video apps, then I went to meet them at Starbucks for brunch while Paul had lunch with former colleagues. Later, we went to Giant and CVS together.

My neighborhood has had several Valentine Lickitungs and I need only five more Jigglypuffs to get my fairy gold medal. Maddy went to dinner and a movie with friends; I had a bunch of work to catch up on after dinner (leftover Indian), then we watched this week's Nashville, which was so meh I don't even remember what happened, and The 100, which was completely awesome in that Marcus and Abby went to bed together! From the Franklin Institute:

Ben and Science )
littlereview: (trek)
At A Lunar Eclipse )

Running late because I had Angela and her sister Katie here for pizza and The Nice Guys, which remains a bit too violent for my taste but really deserves a sequel in which Russell and Ryan are raising his daughter together and solving petty crimes. I hadn't seen Katie since her daughter was born eight months ago so that was a lot of fun!

Also running late because I got my new Kindle Fire delivered in the late morning -- they're $40 right now and I had $34 in Amazon credit, so you can see why I figured this was a good time to get one -- and it took me all afternoon to figure out how to get Google Music sideloaded on it. But now it appears to be working, maybe even Google Books too!

It was in the 60s again though we're supposed to get snow tomorrow night, so I took a walk and attempted to find a Porygon now that the Pokemon Go Valentine event has started; so far no luck, though we have lots of Jigglypuffs and Exeggcutes around. Since we have a full moon coming up, some more photos from Lakeforest's Lunar New Year celebration:

Lunar New Year )
littlereview: (little review)
The Eye )

I had to get my eyes dilated on Tuesday (it was supposed to be last week, but my eye doctor was out with the flu so I only had the flashing-lights test that day), which always leaves me with blurred vision and a bit of a headache. I got Paul to drop me off while he went to Safeway so I didn't have to deal with the bigger headache of driving home with my eyes crossed, but I got nothing done in the afternoon and I'm only now seeing clearly.

Temperatures were in the mid-60s, a record-setting, gorgeous day, so we took a walk in the woods in the late afternoon. After dinner we watched The Flash, which has got to let Iris save herself (or at least move to L.A., duh), then I couldn't face Agents of SHIELD so we caught up on the crazy brilliance of The Young Pope. Here are some photos from Longwood Gardens last summer during the Klip Collective's Nightscape light show:

Klip Colors )
littlereview: (jewitch)
To Bring the Horse Home )

Paul had Monday off, so we spent the day with his parents and Maddy in Hanover. Since we all like it, we went to Hibachi Buffet Grill, where I had teriyaki noodles and a couple of red bean paste sesame balls. Maddy and I walked to AC Moore while everyone else had buffet desserts, then we went back and drove to Hanover Shoe Farms, where several foals have been born since we were last there and Maddy snuggled the cat Adam played with last time:

Babies and Moms )

We helped Clair and Cinda set up their new computer before we came home, seeing a gorgeous sunset on the way. Since we were still pretty full from lunch, we nibbled sandwiches for dinner while catching up on Super Bowl night's Victoria, plus we watched this week's Supergirl which was too soapy for my taste and Timeless which was pretty enjoyable (historically flawed but it had Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker, so all is forgiven).
littlereview: (get critical)
Wide Receiver )

We're home after driving Adam to College Park and saying goodbye to Christine at home following the most ridiculous Super Bowl ending in history -- I was rooting for Atlanta, but even if I'd been a Brady apologist, excuse me, fan, I'd be pissed as hell that a coin toss predetermined the outcome. Overtime rules are some epic B.S. Before that obnoxious ending, it was, at least, reasonably interesting to watch, since it was a more defensive game than I expected and Atlanta had some great plays.

Earlier it was a pretty good day; we picked Adam up in College Park and saw Nocturnal Animals with him (yet another acclaimed movie I did not feel was All That, and to give La La Land and Manchester by the Sea a break, at least they aren't obsessed with misogynistic masculinity despite ostensibly following a woman's experiences). The Super Bowl party my friends throw, where my parents and Maddy joined us, is always a joy, so here are the annual shoe, pet, and high school reunion photos!

Super Bowl LI )
littlereview: (trek)
Chinese Dragon )

I had a busy but fun Saturday! Maddy had to be at work at 10 a.m., which is very early for her so we were all up and moving fast, and after that we went to Lakeforest Mall for the second weekend of their Lunar New Year festival, where we saw the lion dance and a bunch of martial arts demonstrations, plus stopped in the Himalayan store and had samosas at the new Curry King. Afterward Paul dropped me off at Karen's for a stitch'n'bitch (I didn't even bring stitching, just my laptop) and went to the library to work on job acquisition.

We had a bunch of chores that had to get done in the late afternoon, like going to Macy's while picking up Maddy to get some clothes on sale this week that may not be starting on Sunday. We went to Washingtonian to return things at Target, walked around the lake, and went to see Lion, which is wonderful -- upsetting and traumatic but ultimately also happy and hopeful (especially the very final images) and extremely well acted. Now we're watching SNL, on which Kristen Stewart just came out and Alec Baldwin would make a better president than Trump!

Year of the Rooster )
littlereview: (jewitch)
On Turning Ten )

Alice's son had no school on Friday, so she came up here with him and we went to lunch together with Paul at the mall (I had Cava, he had a cheesesteak, Alice had Chinese, her son had McDonald's). We stopped to visit Maddy at work, went into a few stores, and walked in Cabin John Park to see Porky the Litter Eater and catch Pokemon.

When Maddy got home from work, we had dinner with my parents, then we saw The Edge of Seventeen, in which Hailee Steinfeld gives a much better performance than the script deserves -- only barely passes the Bechdel Test because of her neurotic mother -- and Woody Harrelson does possibly the best job ever playing Woody Harrelson. Summer zoo:

At the Zoo )


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