Jun 22

Where were we next?

Happy Monday! This isn’t today. This was written for another Monday, specifically two weeks ago today. It is part of the effort to document and re-live our most recent, amazing adventure. So, if you’d be so kind as to cast your mind back two weeks …

We left Paris early in the morning. We were supposed to leave the evening before, but transportation troubles threw this leg of the trip out of whack, so we extended our hotel room, an additional night, and readjusted the plans on the backend. It caused some angst and probably cost a few more bucks in the long run, but it all worked out, as these things somehow have a way of doing.

Anyway, we arrived at our new place by train in due time. (Know where we are yet? Here’s another overexposed hint.)

From the train station we took a tram a few stops deeper into the city. After we checked into the hotel we wandered around for some lunch. Found a pub, ate a burger, and then walked down to this lake.

The lake was somehow farther than we anticipated, despite being two smart, educated and resourceful citizens of the 21st century with maps in our hands. By the time we got down here my feet were screaming at me. So I took off my shoes and dipped my feet in the water. I was thinking about the 15 minutes you’d put ice on something that aches, but my delicate little toes couldn’t stay in the cold lake nearly that long. Cooled me off and kept the soles of my feet cold for quite a while!

We took a little cruise, which is where these photos came from. We might have had the tickets wrong, but the ticket controller didn’t care too much. His shift was ending and he got off at the first stop anyway. No one else came around, and so we just had these great views.

So, do you know where we are yet?

And what is she looking at?

That’s where we were headed the next day, he said pointing somewhere vaguely up there.

Those are the Alps. This is Switzerland. We are in Zurich. The weather was great. The city is … well … a city. They speak four languages, officially here, and English isn’t one of them. But everyone is perfectly accommodating after suffering through our rudimentary French and German. The cost of living is expensive, because they import so much. Restaurants, even the casual dining places, are ridiculous. They have a bit of a tagging problem across the city.

Living on Lake Zurich looks like it would have its appeal, though. Some of the people on the afternoon cruise were commuting home. Work all day, catch the boat. An older gentleman came aboard, ordered a glass of wine and some peanuts, and had just enough time to down it all before his stop. Then he walked off the boat, up the hill and to whatever the rest of his evening was. Granted, I saw this part of his routine on a perfect May day, but it seemed pretty perfect.

Anyway, we weren’t staying in Zurich, but a base of operation. Switzerland is a small enough country, and there are trains to go everywhere and see what is a stunning countryside. We were in Zurich every night, b– not on the lake, but near enough to everything — and taking great trips each day.

And they were great day trips. Wait and see. We have four of them coming up, and that’ll see us through this week on the blog. It’ll be a grand time, so do come back to check out our time in the playground of Europe.

Jun 22

We’re back!

We are back from our many long travels and my two-week break from writing here. We’ll get to those wonderful adventures starting tomorrow. It’ll be a nice day-by-day symmetry as the site gets back to the daily stuff.

But first, I have to catch up on everything at work. It will take days to work through my email, for example. (And I was periodically checking in on it while I was gone!)

I use the ERRS process.

Simply Delete

Good system, poor acronym.

Some of the email should simply get a picture of this sign, which sits on my desk.

There’s usually not much on my desk, but that’s always front-and-center.

The cats stayed at the house while we were gone. They had a sitter and I think she did an excellent job because the cats didn’t hate us when we returned late Saturday night.

Yesterday, though, Phoebe didn’t let us out of her sight.

And her cuddles left little room for moving around. I was only just able to catch this bit of light in her eye.

Poseidon, for his part, stayed close by as well. Here he is waiting on us to finish breakfast so he could enjoy his Sunday morning routine.

His Sunday morning routine involves a big session of pets with a napkin. He loves napkins.

Because he’s a cat.

And here he is last night rushing the camera, as if he just remembered we still owed him extra pets from our two-week absence.

Today, he woke us up at 5 a.m. He’s cute, but he’s not that cute.

Anyway, tomorrow, we talk van Gogh and airplanes. Come back for that and a lot of cool visuals!

May 22

Savor this Monday

Slow busy day. Or is it a busy slow day? And how, precisely, are they different? They are certainly different. I propose more slow days to give us ample time for study. But, before all of that …

We had a nice afternoon ride yesterday. Legs were burning, and at times we were moving very quickly, indeed. Here is the view on the back half of the ride.

I was taking a breath after a little experiment. We were cruising along on a false flat at 30 miles per hour and I decided to see what would happen if I sprinted out an attack. It only took a few hard pedal strokes, and it hurt for quite some time.

Well beyond that photo, I assure you.

Just after, I had enough time to catch my wind before the biggest climb of the day. We’d gone over some steady uphill rollers at 20-plus, and then down a big descent and by the lake and then out the other side, up the big hill. Which is where we find the newest installment in the irregular Barns by Bike series.

I’m sure that one has been featured before. It’s on a hill, so I’m certainly going slow enough to take a picture or three.

It is now time for the series even more popular than the bike riding and the barns to this site, checking in on the cats.

Poseidon is very interested in The Yankee’s breakfast. Or at least the banana.

I interrupted his nap here. He paid me back in kind the next night. And the next night. And probably one more after that.

Phoebe, undercover.

If the sun is out she will forsake the comforts of a fuzzy blanket to catch a few rays. Here she is dozing on the back of The Yankee’s desk.

As I say, she relaxes hard, with an intensity to her naps the likes of which you’ve never seen. We should all be so lucky.

And that’s the theme for the next little bit. It’s time for a summer sabbatical. I’ll catch back up with you here in a few days. Until then, stay hydrated, well-rested and enjoy!

May 22

Lafayette, I am here!

I’m leading with the cats, because they’re the big draw, but stick around for the books, which will come along in just a bit.

Phoebe felt like doing a bit of posing this week. Here she is, mid-belly rub.

And just sitting as pretty as you please in the hallway.

Poseidon is also doing well, but he has decided to play it coy. He’s in this photo, somewhere, I assure you. But he knows you can’t see him.

Sometimes being relaxed involves letting gravity take over and just sprawling wherever.

So they are both doing well and enjoying the beginning of their summer. Aren’t we all? I love the mental shift, and now I’m beginning to think that maybe the cats can sense it, too.

This must be the longest daffodil stem I’ve ever seen. It is in an almost perfect spot, removed from the lawn mower blades, reaching out for maximum sun. Just close enough to where we would walk to notice how it is showing off.

I wonder how much it will continue to grow before it gets the attention of a passing critter or bug.

We had a punchy little bike ride this evening. Good legs, good lungs, comfortable in the cockpit, and just a little droopy up one little roller. Everywhere else I could produce good power. Here, The Yankee had finally caught up to me and surged out a little ahead. She was pouring on the coals while I was fiddling with a jersey pocket. She pulled out a small gap, but I was able to shut it down. It was one of those days when most anything seemed possible.

It makes riding fun.

That makes you want to ride all the time. So tomorrow, maybe?

I finished Brilliant Beacons Saturday night. I bought this in April 2021.

I was not aware that our first lighthouses dated to colonial times. But, like many people who have visited any surviving lighthouses, I knew that automation and GPS and other technologies have improved a sailor’s circumstance such that most of the bright old lights are well beyond obsolete. This book covers much that took place between 1716 and the mid 20th century and does so in an easy, approachable manner. Not every lighthouse is dissected, but you’ll gain a terrific appreciation for some of the engineering involved at the most demanding locations. You’ll get a sense of the people that worked in the lighthouses, their steadfastness and their heroism and, sometimes, the crazed things that took place beneath the big, beaming lights. You’ll learn about the brilliant Fresnel lens (most of you have the same technology in your headlights) and you’ll come to know the different parts of the government that made lighthouses a practical fixture, long before they became a photographic fixation. Lighthouses are one of those things that, over the course of time, we got right. And if you’re at all interested in the subject matter, this book gets it right, too.

In addition to a massively overflowing bookshelf, I have too many books in my Kindle app. There were 52 books waiting there last night, all of them, of course, are of an interest to me. I bought them, after all. But which one to read next? I suppose there’s chronology. I’d probably be reading about Jamestown or the Holy See. But what about books that cover broad swaths of time? Or these other books about wood or food? So I could go with purchase date, then. No idea. Alphabetical? Reasonable enough. That’d probably create a little variation, which is desirable. But would that be alphabetical based on titles or the authors’ names?

So I did what anyone would do: I counted all the books and ran a random number generator until one number showed up a third time. And that number leads us to Last of the Doughboys, which I purchased in February last year.

Starting in 2003, reporter Richard Rubin started interviewing surviving members of the U.S. military and auxiliary services that took part in the Great War. Everyone here is more than 100 years old, because time marches on. I’ve read two chapters so far. The first was about his inspiration and the process to finding these centenarians. The second chapter was a summary of an all-but forgotten memoir of WW1, Over the Top, by Arthur Guy Empey. He wrote three other books, none as popular as the wildly successful first. He also penned a handful of popular songs, and a few silent films, acting in some of them, before the talkies drove him out. He had a bunch of magazine, pulp stories under his belt, as well.

In 1935, then in his early 50s, he helped organize a paramilitary organization in Hollywood.

It’s always been a weird place, basically.

None of this last part, the part about the rest of Empey’s life, has figured into Rubin’s Doughboys book. If you read about Empey, it’s clear he made a living on interest in the Great War right up until the public zeitgeist shifted in the mid 1930s. He had a good run of it, though, and himself lived into his 70s, dying in 1963. The rest of Rubin’s book, though, will see his peers having lived decades on.

Time and soldiers, they all know about marching. And in time we lose details. Did the right face happen here or there? Either way, we know we pivoted on this foot, because that’s the concept of the movement. The details might be forgotten, but the fundament is still there, we pivot on the ball of this foot. The non-historian remembers little of the Great War. The thoughtful person might be able to point to some of its many lasting, and continuing legacies. Most of us, at least, recall that it happened. It hardly seems enough to remember, considering the cost. But, then again, this was a century ago. Next month, it’s 105 years, in fact, since Gen. John Pershing arrived in France.

That’s history for you. Vital today, heroic tomorrow, then reunions the next week, and the mists of time after that. Before too long, the original media turns digital or dust.

This footage is the Wikipedia of newsreels, and there’s a heck of a downshift in the final quarter of the footage.

Pershing died in ’48. I bet his name gets mentioned a few times in this book, though. So far, it’s one you want to keep getting back to, eager to see who you’ll meet next.

I wonder how much of it I’ll read tonight.

May 22

A few weekend photos, and cats

I had the opportunity to watch the School of Nursing graduation on Saturday. Their ceremonies were in our building for space reasons, and it was neat to see all of those happy, bright young people getting ready to go do some hard work.

Nursing is a calling. All of the good ones are angels, and the rest are certainly working on it.

I noticed for the first time, on the way into the building, this blooming lilac (syringa oblata).

Just in time for summer!

We went for a bike ride this weekend, and I was sucking wind hard enough on the second half that I was able to take a photo to add to the irregular Barns By Bike collection.

And I marked Mother’s Day with a nice call and these classic photographs. I think this was my first snowfall.

We might have been overdressed. If I knew the date I’d look up the weather so we can laugh at the faux fur hooded parka my mom is wearing. But, instead, I just had a nice chat with her. She’s enjoying a weekend getaway vacation, and we enjoyed a nice long chat yesterday evening.

And now it’s time for you to enjoy the weekly check-in with the cats.

Here’s Phoebe doing one of the things she does best.

That cat relaxes so hard. I’m not saying she’s lazy. She has an intensity to her naps heretofore unseen by mortal man.

Poseidon was enjoying a little time in the window this morning.

Better than licking the blinds. He loves blinds. And every day I don’t have to take some broken blinds down and waste an hour buying and installing new ones is a victory.

That’s a three-blind window, and I have replaced each of them because of that cat.

Poseidon, like a cat does, also likes to get in all the places Poseidon isn’t supposed to be. These are strictly inside cats, so the evenings when we are cooking out Poseidon wants to go outside in a most desperate way. Someone has to hold him.

Enter the cardboard boxes they enjoy.

Phoebe was all too happy to play the role of the watchful warden. She stayed on the top of the second box the whole time he was in there. For most of that time he was purring happily away, too. And we didn’t have to worry about him while grilling.