Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bathrooms, Dogs, and the Language of Love
Yesterday I spent almost the whole day walking in Paris. It started out a gorgeous (albeit cold) sunny day, and after a fairly lengthy ride on the RER I decided to get off at the most familiar metro stop for me: Notre Dame/St Michel. One reason, of course, is that I can pop out at any of the sorties and find my way somewhere without having to bust out the map in front of all the purse-snatchers and pickpockets. The other reason was a little more practical: there's a fairly clean public restroom (for the low, low price of 30 centimes!) right in front of the cathedral. I emerged from the metro to the sound of the Notre Dame bells playing noontime music, followed by the steady bong-bong-bong announcing it was precisely 12:00.

What I didn't realize is that apparently, just like everything else in Europe, the restroom is closed for lunch from noon until 1:30. But my mama didn't raise no fool, so I did the old "hey, I'll go shopping in this lovely department store" and "hey, lingerie is on the 5eme etage, I'll go peruse lingerie" and "Oh, well, will you look at that? There's a ladies' room at the back of the lingerie department! How convenient!" and "Oh, well, I don't need any new lingerie. Time to go explore some more!"

Thanks, mom, for teaching me those important life lessons. You'll always be remembered for your restroom finesse.

After that I wanted lunch so I hit a brasserie across the street from L'Opera. Now, throughout this trip, I've done fairly well getting by with my ever-rustier French, but I wasn't quite so successful at lunch. The owner of the brasserie was seated at the table next to mine looking over his books with his good-ol' boy buddies, and at some point he accidentally dropped his cell phone. Actually, it was more like the cell phone grew a little jet pack and leaped from his hands, up into the air, and smashed to a million pieces on the ground. A bunch of the pieces landed under my table, so I picked up what I could find and gave it back to him, with a sympathetic look and expressed my broken-French wishes that it wasn't destroyed (it definitely was). His buddies were laughing at him like crazy, and one of them leaned to me and with a conspiratorial grin and said "Je crèçené quèdàza blà blà rébràmenne!!! Hahahaha! Eh? Eh? Hahaha!" Well, actually, I'm paraphrasing. Honestly, I have absolutely no earthly idea what the man said to me, but it was clear that I was supposed to laugh too. Maybe I was laughing because the cell phone jumped so high. Or because the owner of the restaurant was a jive turkey. Or because the cost of cafe au lait at this brasserie was too high. Or because their secret terrorist plot was just so darn brilliant. I joined in a non-commital laugh, since it's disconcerting to laugh at a joke that you don't get. It was probably not the right kind of laugh.

After I ate, as I was leaving, the Funny Man walked back into the brasserie with his dog. No, not a dog, more like a horse. Or Bevo. This guy had Bevo for a pet. I told him that he had a horse, not a dog, and he replied "Oui, mais elle ràçené releemére pour là et vrouvrée zha zha! Hahahaha! Eh? Haha!" Again, paraphrasing. Again with the noncommital laugh and a sideways nod and I told the dog that he was super-sweet. Which it was, One of those gently giant types of dog. I'm sure the guy thought I was conspiring with the dog somehow, but he was certainly jolly anyway. Then the dog jumped up and placed his front paws on the shoulders of the brasserie owner to kiss him on the face (The Dog stood 6'2", I swear!), and I'm pretty sure the owner told me that the dog was his girlfriend. I congratulated them all and took my leave as gracefully as possible.

Maybe I should re-start those French lessons when I get home.

Oh, speaking of dogs, I just found out that Peace and Fuzzy have acquired a new dog! SNG sent the pictures and OMG she is SOOOOOO CUTE she should be on CUTE OVERLOAD.COM. Her name is DOTtie because they found her at a DOT rest stop. Y'all, I can not wait to meet that dog!!! It's enough to make me want to come home from vacation! And that's saying something. Goofch will have a new playmate!!!!

Well, not much else to tell for now. After lunch yesterday I did a little more sightseeing, a lot more walking, a little more restroom swindling, and bought €50 worth of chocolate at the gourmet store in Galeries Lafayette. This morning I'm going to hit the La Poste on my way to the RER station to mail it home. That's the only way it'll last until I make it back to Raleigh. This evening I'll get to spend a couple more hours visiting with Val and Jerome (who need nicknames: they are now Isabelle and The Chef) and then head off to the Gare de L'est to catch another overnight train to Frankfurt. Then to naviguess the S-Bahn to the airport, where I'll find Fish and Jen and, a few hours later, SNG (YAY!!!!!!).

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Paris in Winter
I got to Paris yesterday morning after spending the morning passing the time in Tours. In one morning I saw all of the major tourist attractions of Tours (on foot), including the marchet de fleurs (big outdoor flower market, mom would have been in heaven/hell because she can't bring any of the plants home), the cathedral, the museum of fine arts, and the farmer's market; I checked my email, had lunch, had a Most Excellent Tarte aux Framboises, and chatted with the hotel owners for another 20 minutes; and I still had plenty of time to make my 2:45 train. Bottom line-- if you come to the Loire valley, get a car because you'll run out of things to do in Tours pretty quickly. It was s fun-filled, busy morning.

Val and Jerome picked me up at the station yesterday afternoon so I wouldn't have to navigate the Metros with all my stuff, and we had a tour of Paris traffic intersections (those big, crazy circles!), the highway system, and the streets of St Remy. I am very impressed with Jerome's driving and told him that if he can drive in Paris, then he'd be right at home in Boston. And that's saying something.

So it's really cool to stay at the home of a real Parisian chef de cuisine, and I was not disappointed when we had a delicious, feather-light quiche with zucchini (ahem: courgettes) and a simple salad with french baguette. You should be jealous. Tonight we are having crepes. Or maybe that's tomorrow. Anyway, you should be even more jealous because no matter where you are, my dinner will be better than yours. :-) I don't know how Val stays so teeny tiny living with such a gourmand!

This morning we woke up to a dusting of snow and seriously cold coldness, and decided it'd be good to visit Versailles where we can be indoors. I'd never been and I've always wanted to go. Apparently, all of Paris had the same idea because there was an hour-long line just to buy the tickets. So we froze our toes, but it was so worth it because the palace was really cool. I just loved it and can't wait to go back sometime in the summer when the gardens will be in bloom, and the fountains running. But I want to go on a Wednesday when the whole world isn't waiting to get in. Or if they are, then at least we're waiting in a line somewhere warm.

Val and Jerome are so much FUN! They're really welcoming and I just feel so completely at home. I slept better last night than I have since leaving Raleigh. And for breakfast, they have 3 DIFFERENT KINDS of homemade jam. OMG I could just eat it all with a spoon! And did I mention they're getting married in summer '07? That's one France trip I can't miss!

Tomorrow and Tuesday I'll jump the Metro while V&J are at work and see what Paris has to offer. No doubt you'll hear more about that before too long!

Mom is en route home from Spain now, so everyone think happy thoughts for a safe flight. I'm sure my dad will be the happiest guy in Texas in a few hours.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vive la France!
Yesterday was quite a travel day. Mom dropped me off at the Barcelona airport around 11:15, I caught a flight to Paris, then a shuttle bus to the train station, then a train to Tours, and here I am now. I spoke with the French lady on the plane next to me the whole way to get some practice, and it's been fairly smooth since. Except I still have to ask people to repeat themselves sometimes. It's like if I hear it twice it's easier to understand.

ANYWAY. My hotel here is quite a bit nicer than anywhere we stayed in Spain, although it should be since it costs about 15Euro a night more. I have a TV, a phone, a REAL shower (where the wandy-thingie can be hung on the wall like a normal shower head), and a mini-fridge. A mini fridge!! It's just like business travel! I better find some soymilk! And another business travel similarity: Last night at dinner, I learned that traveling alone in Tours is just like traveling alone anywhere else: you don't have to eat dinner alone...
The waiter at the restaurant seated me upstairs in a corner where they hide the lonely business travelers, and the other business traveler in the area came over and joined me at my table. And you know what??? He wasn't INSANE! At least, not that I could tell. Now, you know that I attract crazy people so it was a treat to have a dinner companion who didn't proceed to:
* get drunk and try to paw all over me
* follow me back to my hotel despite my protests
* tell me about his strict medication regimen
* go on a psychotic rant about how much he "hates this town!"
* buy me drink after drink after drink only to drink them himself and end up singing drinking songs for everyone in the restaurant.

Anyway, my dinner companion was a fellow named Julien who spoke 2 words of English ("spicy sauce") and works for SNCF as a management consultant. I know all sorts of interesting things about him, such as he has a girfriend in Paris named Christine, they've been dating for 5 years, currently live together, and he doesn't plan to get married because it's just "too soon." Where have I heard that story before?? (guilty party, you know who you are, yes I'm LOOKING AT YOU.) ;-)

After a good night's sleep and a carb-tastic-super-insulin-shock breakfast of croissant, crusty french bread and 3 little pots of jam (redcurrant, strawberry, and plum) and some tasty cafe au lait I hit the road in my rental car. J and SNG will be glad to know that I took about 150 more pictures of L'Abbaye de Fondevraud(sp?). Especially all those funny murals of New Testament scenes with the pious little nun praying in the foreground of the action. Awesome.

The food... can I bring it all home with me? Yes, I know, there's bird flu here, but I still had foie gras and guinea fowl for lunch. And I'd do it again. And again. Tonight I don't know what I'll have but I know it'll be tasty!

I heard news from Mom that she's safe and sound in Madrid and has found an internet cafe. On an unrelated note, remember that Tuesday is Mardi Gras!! Happy Mardi Gras! Everybody celebrate extra hard so you have something to repent for come Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It´s my last day in Barcelona before I head off to France and mom stays in Spain a little longer before flying home. What a fun trip so far!

Um, except for the little incident in La Plaza de George Orwell. Remember I felt a little seasick yesterday? Apparently I still don´t quite have my legs back under me yet because as we were doing a load of laundry in the washeteria, I had to run outside to a public trash can where I proceeded to TOSS MY COOKIES (and breakfast, and a fruit cup, and some water, and some air after all the stuff was gone) in front of a friendly local crowd. I simply explained that all the partying in Barcelona had simply gotten the better of me. They were very sympathetic.

Belly woes aside, we´re having a nice time. We hit a flea market today and I got some free fleas (it is Rebajas season, after all! or Rebaixas as they say in Catalunyan). It was a little like the scene in History of the World Part 1 where the vendor selling rats is right next to the vendor seeling "Nothing! I got absolutely nothing for sale!"

The NC flea market at least has some puppies. Although I bet you could get one "for pets or meat" if you knew whom to ask... (um, that was a reference to Roger and Me, if you didn´t know. I´m not actually sick minded enough to come up with that on my own).

I hope I can find an internet cafe in Tours with an Egnlish keyboard because the French ones are very different. I´ll update whenever I can!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Because It Wouldn´t Be A Trip to Europe If Mom Wasn´t Pickpocketed.
OK, I have to admit, that hasn´t actually happened yet on the trip, although we had a very close scare today. Mom has a system for foiling thieves that´s actually pretty clever. Her purse has 4 zipper compartments on the outside. She keeps her real wallet carefully hidden deep down in the depths of Hades, but there is another wallet (the Decoy) that stays out in an easily accessible pocket. After enough times finding a stranger´s hand in her handbag, she decided this approach would work. I still think a bunch of haunted kleenexes are a pretty just revenge, and she does keep a couple of those in there too. Anyway, so today she was certain that her Decoy had taken a walk on the Ramblas, but she did track it down later in the hotel.

So, where are we now? Where have we been? What have we seen? Have we been on the run from the law since the last time you heard from us? So much intrigue. I can see that you are at the edge of your seat and I will relieve your anticipation.

Yesterday was our last day in Granada, and it was cold and rainy most of the day. So, of course, we visited the Alhambra, a 14th century moorish palace known for its gardens and heavenly fusion of plants, water, and earth. Brrrrrrrr.

The Alhambra can only be described as tranquil. I bet it´s breathtaking in the summer. The fountains, pools, water staircases, streams and other water features create in interesting effect among the plants and the vistas overlooking Granada and the Sierra Navada mountains in the distance. The souvenir shops of Granada are also not to be missed. Most are run by Morrocan immigrants who import all kind of wonderful tchotchkes from northern Africa such as intricately inlaid wood, bone, and shell boxes, clothing, embroidered handbags, giant hookas, you name it. Cool stuff. And, as I´ve probably mentioned, the cafe con leche in southern Spain is
some of the best coffee I´ve ever had. Which is saying something. So, I had a brilliant idea that was sure to get me back on a much-sought-after federal watchlist. I was thinking, I should buy a big, shiny hookah and a bag of coffee and mail them home, wrapped up in other souvenir purchases. The postal import sniffy-dogs would spot the coffee as a sure mask for something more villainous, and then they´d see the hookah, and be sure they had hit paydirt. Sure, they´d probably break my hookah and confiscate my coffee, but what the heck would I do with a hookah anyway? I´m just after the watchlist status.

Because anyone who´s anyone is on SOME kind of federal watchlist.

Oh, you know, I forgot I was telling a story here. Anyway. So we´re done with Granada. Last night we caught a trenhotel (an overnight train with a private sleeper car) to Barcelona. I didn´t sleep very well, and all night the woobly-woobly-woobly of the train kept me on the edge of sick. Didn´t actually get sick, thank goodness, but once we got onto terra firma and sat still a few minutes, I about tossed my cookies. You know when you´ve been on a boat a really long time (like 12 hours) and you get off, you can still feel the sea? Like that. And wouldn´t you know, I have one more train hotel to ride on this trip, from Paris to Frankfurt. Maybe I´ll find some dramamine (or a French equivalent? Val, maybe you know of something?) that will prevent motion sickness.

We went straight from the train to our hotel (ahem, again, hostal) and what luck! They had our room ready for us at 10am. And more luck! Our own bathroom, in a fairly large room with a nice window overlooking the pedestrian street below. So far I like Barcelona better than anywhere else we´ve been in Spain. Maybe because it reminds me just a little more of France. And the shopping here looks like it will be top shelf. Not much shopping today except for chocolate, fruit and nuts at an outdoor market. But we did go visit the Sagrada Familia. It´s just amazing. Whether it´s your taste or not, there´s no arguing with the fact that it is an architectural masterpiece.

For our workout today we climbed one of the towers in La Sagrada Familia. There´s this 20-inch-wide spiral staircase that winds up, up, up to the top of a tower that was somewhere between 90 and 120 meters (I´m not sure which one we were in, so I can´t tell you) but it was a LONG WAY DOWN. I like that sort of thing, but I think mom was only there to be nice. She and SNG could vacation together and would never leave terra firma. Sorry, mom. Next time, you can pick the workout...

Tomorrow we shop. And then it´s our last day traveling together! Sad! She´s such a fabulous traveling companion. Always ready for fun. Or a quick nap. Or a coffee. And speaking of which, we´re headed out to dinner very soon. A place the travel guide recommends for their salads.

Please drop me a comment so I know someone is reading!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sevilla was fabulous. Dirty, but fabulous. I didn't think anyplace had more graffiti than some of the neighborhoods in the US, but I stand corrected.

While the cathedral in Sevilla is really amazing, the Alcazar was definitely the highlight of the whole visit. It's been cold and a bit rainy although we still enjoyed the gardens. We left on Saturday morning.

Saturday started too early at 7:15, when the drunk twenty-somethigs were just staggering their way home from the bars. Think St Jean Baptiste day in Quebec. Think Ash Wednesday in New Orleans.

We caught a cab to the train station to pick up our rental car. No problems there. Getting out of Sevilla-- piece of cake. Getting to El Torcal de Antequera national park- easy. It was raining the whole time, but we were determined to go hiking.

So, we found the park and took a narrow, windy mountain road up, complete with blind switchbacks, sheer cliffs, and two-way traffic (although the lane is 1.5 cars wide).When we got to the trailhead it was really really really cool looking. The mountains are made of this crazy bare limestone that has eroded to look like massive piles of pancakes stacked up. We hiked the medium-length trail, about 3K, and it took about 2 hours. Yes, you read that right. It was muddy, rocky, hand-over-foot going most of the trail. And places where you had to pass through rock caves about 1 foot wide. It was pretty neat. We got filthy.

So, OK, everything so far was great. Then we got to Granada. I've been to many places and had to find my way around, and ask anybody-- I'm pretty good at naviguessing in an unfamiliar city. But I've never been anywhere that was even close to the level of difficulty of navigating this Gorforsaken town. We looked for the hotel. For. Three. Hours. Driving. The. Whole. Time. I nearly got into a fistfight with a bum at one point (mom still can't understand why, even though he had (in my perception) OPENED THE CAR DOOR TO ACCOST HER while I went to ask for directions at the train station. She swears she opened the door herself, but my already-on-the-edge self was ready for battle). I had to break 3 traffic laws to finally arrive get us to our destination. And the lady who owns the hotel had The Nerve to go on & on about how she had to turn away SOOOOO MUUUUCH BUSINESSSS because we were late and she wasn't sure whether we were coming and she could have gotten twice the price for our room and we should be so grateful to her for not giving away our room whaa whaaa whaaa.

Don't worry, I didn't kill her. But she won't be using that arm for awhile. Dad, if you're reading, I'm just kidding. It was nothing like the old lady that Fuzzy and I ganged up on in Quebec. She obviously had it coming.

So we're here. It is actually a really awesome looking place. Our hotel is smack between the Alhambra and the Cathedral. We have our own bathroom. We have a balcony over the little street. We have a parking place in a garage (the value of which should not be underestimated). We were able to shower and wash all our muddy clothes and use up all of the grouchy old lady's hot water. So that kind of makes up for the misery of driving around for 3 hours looking for the street the damn hotel is on.

We went to dinner last night at a place that was SUPER smoky and now our jackets, sweaters, scarves, ... smell like smoke. The meal wasn't very good. I tell you, these people didn't learn much about cooking from their northern neighbors. Or, maybe they did, but they listened to the wrong northern neighbors. No offense, Dave. ;-) I can't wait to head north and have a real meal!!

But all joking aside, I really can't complain-- Spanish people are SO laid back, which is really nice. If you screw up at a restaurant and use the wrong utensil or something, nobody gives you a scolding and everything is cheap. Clothes, food, drinks, even local transportation. So while SNG and I may have to get a summer place in Paris, we're doing all our shopping in Spain.

We've seen more American college students in Granada and in Sevilla than just about anything else. Mom keeps trying to figure out how she can pass for a Spanish abuelita, but I'm trying to tell her there's no way. She's too thin, too stylish, she doesn't apply makeup with a trowel, and her hair doesn't look like a football helmet. She looks a little bit like a French grandmere, perhaps, but she will never look like la abuelita española.

I realize that this entry has sounded more like a rant than a travel log of goodness, so I really need to make it clear that we're having a FABULOUS time. It's just that it's kind of fun to rant about the crazy stuff, and probably not as interesting to read about "we visited xyz museum today, and saw the following beautiful churches: a, b, c..."

And Fuzzy, for the record, my hotel karma so far (knock wood) has held up. But there's still Barcelona to see about...

Tomorrow we will spend the entire day at the Alhambra, which is the one thing I've anticipated the most about visiting Spain. I'll take lots of pictures and tell you if it lives up to its reputation.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Two Posts In Two Days?!

Yeah, when I'm home, I'm lucky to write more than one a post a week. But since all of Spain closes from 2-5 pm every day, and since I miss SNG like crazy, it looks like I'll be at an internet cafe most days at least once. And Spanish keyboards are much closer to English ones than the French keyboards. And of course, I can always change the language and touch-type, which works out nicely.

Today we learned where the post office is, and we are here during the annual SALE season. It's funny how mom and I manage to COINCIDENTALLY travel to European countries during SALE season. It is different than in the US where stores put stuff on sale whenever they feel like it. Here, they can only put stuff on super-clearance a couple times a year, to clear space for the next 1/2 year's stuff. So anyway, I think tomorrow we will learn how to mail packages internationally.

And speaking of taking things to other countries, if you're wanting to go to Europe with illegal goods, I recommend you use Madrid as your port of entry. The customs agent asked no questions, and no one ever looked at my bags. Or anyone else's bags. Nada. Rien. Nothing. Quite a contrast from US customs where they are absolutely certain to find not only the illegal meat products you're smuggling in, but also the live animals, fruits and vegetables, and automatic weapons. And they just get so darn grouchy about it!

\:-) *smirk*

I slept 10 hours last night, ate a good breakfast, had some fantastic cafe con leche, and I think now is a good time to tell you about all the people in Spain who are lucky to be alive today, after crossing my jet-lagged-low-blood-sugared path yesterday:
* the man on metro #8 who whistled an annoying tune
* the old lady on metro train #10 who played a "beep-bip-beep-beep" video game on her phone
* the other old lady (Metro #1) who cooed and cooed AND COOED and DROOLED and SLOBBERED all over the baby sitting across from her
* the man on the train to Seville with the "HELLO-MOTO" phone who did not understand "inside voice" versus "outside voice." While I tried to sleep. He is perhaps the luckiest of all. SNG knows the wrath of waking me up from a sound sleep.
* the guy who grunted "eeeh!" "hssss!" "eeeeeeh!" "uuuuuuunh!" at us outside the Alcazar to get us to take a ride in his horse-drawn carriage. No, he didn't speak in real words of any of the 4 languages mom and/or I can understand. Just caveman noises. Like that is going to make us want to go on a ride in his carriage. Honestly. I looked him straight in the eye, and he saw his impending doom on my face because he turned tail and petitioned someone else to ride in his carriage.

I can laugh about it today since I didn't have my automatic weapons with me.

But I know better for next time... /:-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We made it with minimal impediments. I slept about 3 hours off&on on the plane, and about 45 minutes on the train, so I'm a little tired but for the most part, doing OK. Mom watched both of the movies and hardly slept at all! You'd never know it, though, as it's only I who have tried to snap anyone's neck as we've been out and about in Spain. Darn jet lag.

Once we got our bags (no easy feat in Madrid, mind you), we found our way to the train station via 562 metro changes, boarded our high-speed train and relaxed as we watched the orange groves roll by. Oh my gosh it's so beautiful. When we arrived in Seville, there was a bit of a false start trying to walk to the hotel but again, we eventually found our way. It's just like on TV-- it's an old city with orange trees, filled with fruit, all over the place.

Our hotel is run by a very friendly couple (English, I think) and it's a funky Bohemian-feeling place. But really clean.

We cleaned up after we got checked in, had a little tapas for dinner, and came here to find some Correo Electronico. :-) OH!! And, we saw GENUINE soccer hooligans! Shaking a car and everything! They didn't flip it over, so eventually the people in the car just drove away.
Dinner was calamari and a salad of indeterminate origin. People here seem livelier than the French, although just as swarthy. If not moreso.

Anyway, we're having a wonderful time so far, and I can't wait to sleep for a long time tonight.

Monday, February 13, 2006

This past weekend was full of ups and downs. The down part was the funeral on Saturday of the husband of a coworker (who is also a friend). It was very well attended and the eulogies were beautiful. Still, I can't begin to imagine the sorrow of unexpectedly losing your spouse.

SNG has been informed that he is strictly forbidden to leave this world before I do.

And on to happier subjects. Tomorrow is Departure Date! After having Valentine's lunch with my best guy, I'll jump on a 2:33 flight to Miami, find mom at the gate, and we'll fly through the night to Madrid. Fish mentioned paella earlier in an email and now it's all I can think about.

In the meantime, it looks like SNG might get to spend the weekend with kiltman, who is coming to town on Thursday. I'm so bummed I'll have to miss him. If you don't know kiltman, this is one of our friends who went on the Quebec trip and was a biking buddy here in town until he moved to Pittsburgh last December. I also suspect that he is a long-lost distant cousin. Someday, if I have the time and resources for it, we're going to have to do some investigation into that. It would just explain so much.

I'm going to TRY (no promises!) to keep a travel blog going while on this trip. It depends on finding an internet cafe with a QWERTY keyboard every few days, and having the inclination to write something. But I find that logging what we do on a trip helps in remembering what all the pictures show later. It's also good for remembering those funny anecdotes, like that king Charles VIII or somebody (I can't keep numbered royalty straight very well) knocked his own block off by riding his horse through a low doorway in Amboise chateau, making a widow of Anne de Bretagne, who then married his cousin. I still think that is a funny story. "Ride a tall horse through a low doorway." It's kind of like "take a long walk on a short pier."

Anyway, maybe take a peek here every few days and leave me a note to say hello.

And if I don't get a chance to blog about before then, everybody send all your happy thoughts and warm wishes eastward on March 3, which is J&K's wedding day. Congratulations, you crazy lovebirds!

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Right now we've got Peavce, Fuzzy and Dianaverse over and we're watching the Puppy Bowl and the Bissell Kitty Half Time Show. Well, actually, there are 2 TVs in the living room for the occasion, and one of them is showing some football game. The guys are watching the football game. And at halftime they're playing Nintendo. Anyway, whoever thought of Puppy Bowl was a genius. Don't laugh-- I'm DVR'ing it so I can turn it on when things get too serious around here.

I don't actually have much new to say... 9 days until vacation...