Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Puppies

On June 26th, Jodie had eight adorable Golden Retriever puppies! She is a great mother and the puppies are growing so fast. There were 3 males and 5 females and they will be ready to go to new homes around the first of October. There are lots of pictures of them from birth to last weekend on Flickr. The link is www.flickr.com/photos/dottieday/

More later.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Diane de Poitiers

I have become very interested in Diane de Poitiers, Henri II's mistress. Chateau Chenonceau was her home and we visited there when we were in France. I have since found some information by using Google, but I would like to find more, especially about her political savvy and her legal acumen.

If you have any information about Diane, please email me at dottieday@gmail.com.

Monday, June 18, 2007

June News

I am going to really make an effort to keep up this blog on a more frequent basis. Check out all the photos (and there are a lot!) of our Europe trip at www.flickr.com/photos/dottieday/

The other news is that Kathy's golden retriever pair, Buster and Jody, are expecting! We thought we had kept them apart for this heat cycle, not wanting puppies born in 115 degree heat in Arizona, but, lo and behold, the dogs are smarter than we are! So she is due around the first weekend in July. Nancy says the breeder they bought their puppy from said that large breeds often have very large litters - 10 to 13 puppies. O God, I hope not! At least this will give me something to blog about as she gets bigger and bigger.

Also, I made T-shirts from a photograph I took in Paris and have put them on eBay. Take a look. Search for "C'est la vie" under either women's or men's clothing. Buy one!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thoughts on Europe

We have just returned from a wonderful trip to Europe with our friends from Alexandria, Virginia. We flew to Amsterdam, spent two days there, then rented a car and drove along the coast, visiting the beaches at Normandy, south to Tours, through the Loire Valley and on to Paris. Spent three days in Paris and then drove straight back on the freeways to Amsterdam for our flight home. We traveled slowly and took the back roads (not worrying about getting lost because of our GPS which Bill thoughtfully provided), stayed in little out-of-the-way hotels and gave ourselves time to ponder on the differences between the European way of being and our own.

It took us a little while to get used to the idea that the Euro was worth more than the dollar. I can't remember going anywhere that the dollar was less than that country's currency. Now, here we were in a place where the Euro was worth about $1.35 Not only that, but we were shocked when a cup of coffee was about $3.00 and it was a small, almost espresso-sized cup! Breakfast in our hotel was about $17.00 each. The good thing about those breakfasts was that there was plenty of bread (baguettes) and lots of lunch meats and sliced cheeses, so we could make a sandwich for lunch and sneak it out of the dining room so that with some fruit and a pastry, we had lunch almost free. As we traveled, it became clear to us that if you wanted to sit at a table and have someone wait on you, you paid for it. If you wanted to go into a grocery, or bakery, or deli, you could purchase food and drink much, much cheaper. But you had to eat in the car, in the hotel room, or picnic. As we thought about it, this made a lot of sense. The high prices were charged in order to pay the staff a living wage (you do not tip in Europe) so being a waitress or waiter or cleaning person was not a job for unskilled, uneducated workers, but rather a job you could be proud of. It's a fair system, too, since customers pay for what they use. Real estate on the Champs Elysee is very expensive, so if you want to have a snack at one of those charming outdoor cafes, you'll pay $30.00 US for a cheeseburger. If you don't want to pay those rates, then wait and eat closer to your hotel.

We were struck by how neat and clean everything was. The streets, the subways, the sidewalks, the parks, the stores, the rooms, everything. We saw lots of workers sweeping the streets, cleaning the chairs in the subway, wiping down the public water fountains, doing anything that was needed to present an environment that was pleasant, colorful, full of art, and welcoming to people. Everyone seemed to respect their neighborhood, their home, their country.

The public transportation was to die for. Inexpensive, efficient, easy to understand. Americans would hate living in such small spaces as the Europeans do, with no yards, barely even a sidewalk or balcony to put a flower pot on. But, the upside is that neighbors and friends gather at the outdoor cafes and linger over a beer or coffee rather than inside their homes. The parks are filled with families picnicking or going to the art museums or just soaking up the sun. Everyone is surrounded by great art (with no graffitti!) which must give them an appreciation of beauty in the world.

One more thing and then I'll quit. In Amsterdam everyone rode a bicycle. There are bike lanes everywhere and if you insist on walking in a bike lane, prepare to be scared witless! They will run you over (almost). But, obesity is not a problem there, in spite of the fabulous food. We could take a lesson, huh? Photos to be posted soon to illustrate the points in the above paragraphs.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

As Time Goes By

Another new year is here, and I certainly hope it is better in some respects than the last one. I never want one of my children to have to suffer through a divorce like Steve did. I am having a lot of trouble waiting for the universe to punish that woman for destroying the family the way she did. I hope I live long enough to know that she regrets not getting the help she should have gotten.

However, there were good things, too. First of all, we were all healthy all year. I took ballet classes 4 days a week and found a friend there. She is 72 and has been dancing for years, does both tap and ballet, but plans to come back in her next life as a prima ballerina. She swears we'll be together then. It was a joy to see the grandchildren grow and change so much. Michael changed from the little boy who couldn't stop talking to a considerate, thoughtful, sensitive and kind young man of 10. Willie grew his hair down past his shoulders, added about 8 inches to his height, and became that most feared of all humans - a teenager. Alex learned to read and is rapidly getting his permanent teeth which always changes their faces from babyish to childish. The little girls are still angels, just bigger. Faye will start to school in July and Ella will have trouble adjusting to being without her sister. The very best part of Christmas was picking out gifts for each other from the catalog. For Ella, Faye ordered Walter, the Farting Dog. And, sure enough, it's Ella's favorite gift. And I got an iPod for my birthday!

After being in Arizona for 6 years, we were invited to a party on New Year's Eve at my ballet dancer friend's house. Cherie and Ken hosted a small get-together for about a dozen people and Ron said that it was much more enjoyable than he expected. I hope we'll see more of them.

Nancy and Mike treated us to two nights at a cabin in Overgaard for my birthday. It was beautiful and we all relaxed and enjoyed the mountains. The girls learned to "Watch for Elk" and how to shake snow off the trees. We got about 6-8 inches of snow the second night, so the girls got to make snow angels and have snowball fights. Got a few great shots which I'll post on my Yahoo photos.

The summer road trip was interrupted by the agonizing calls from Steve and his sisters about Stefani and what she was doing. I felt that I should catch a plane from Seattle and rush home, but what could I do besides cry and curse with them? And during that time, Jackie's son Elliot decided to try to commit suicide, so she was beside herself as well and calling at all hours (she couldn't possibly keep track of the time difference) of the day and night. Are cell phones really a step forward? Do we really want to be that accessible? What if they couldn't have talked to me? Life would certainly have gone on. But in spite of all that, we loved Mt. Rainier, the Oregon coast, and Santa Monica.

This year we're going to Florida in January to visit Bill and Verda and the sibs. Then in April we're going to Amsterdam for 10 days. We'll be spending part of July and August in Colorado, I hope instead of our usual road trip.

Wonder what else 2007 holds for us?