Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Practicing with Grade III last night. There were only 4 Grade IV's there, and Pete played with GrIII. Lee arrived at the Last Minute (8:30 pm, he had to work: Ash Wednesday).

We did MUCH better than last week, both with GrIII's and by ourselves. We must all have been practicing, not just me. My reed is still a bit hard, so my drones are not steady, but I 'splained this all to Sean when he tuned me, in 5 words or less, and he was understanding.

I barely escaped being tuned by "John Adams" (I don't know this guy's real name. You know how I am with names. He looks like the guy who plays John Adams in 1776, he just came back from a mission, so he's about 22 or so, excellent piper, possibly no sense of humor, and he thinks I am dirt under his feet because I made a joke once 2 years ago about something, I forget what.)

Last night I tried to act like I knew what I was doing (ha!), and I didn't make any jokes. "John Adams" was helping Jason and Sean tune everybody and had indicated he would tune Sande next and then me. I admitted I had only warmed up a minute or two, so I went backstage and was running through my 6/8 when Sean approached me and did the tuning. Then when "John Adams" approached me a few minutes after that to tune, I told him (amid the sound of 20 pipes tuning) that Sean had already tuned me. "Who?" he shouted. "Sean," I yelled back. So I escaped with as little ridicule as possible.

Speaking of names, and to help me cement these new names in my head for future, our new bass drummer is Matt, and the other rather stout piper who came back from a mission 6 months ago is Ben, currently playing with Grade IV.

It rained, and I can see the daffodils and tulips poking up through the grass! Spring is just around the corner. The older I get, the happier I am to see spring.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So much for good intentions . . .

Despite piping mindset, pipes at the ready, and tunes in my head, I did not practice. My schedule yesterday went something like this:

0200 get vertical, consciousness not required
0230 drive to work
0300 log in
0330-1400 work
1400-1530 drive home
1600-1800 scouts
1800-1900 dinner, clear up
1900-2030 Scottish dancing at the downtown library in honor of Mardi Gras (go figure)
2100-arrive home, make lunches, read to son
2130 go to sleep

19.5 hours, no piping window.

Today is not looking very good, either.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Practicing with Grade III

Because it is nearly our yearly concert, the Grade IV's are practicing with the Grade III's on Wednesday nights. I can say two things about this:

1) I'm glad I have gotten to know Jason during group lessons.

2) I'm glad the Grade IV are comfortingly there.

Last Wednesday we went over some tunes that the whole band will play, and I did pretty well, except for my reed being at death's door and causing strike-in and wavering and tuning problems. Nothing horrible.

Then the bands split and we Grade IV's went over the things we are going to do alone. At this point I seemed to fall apart and did horribly. Sean was sick and wasn't playing. We went over our medley. I have this to say about that:

1) I wasn't the only one messing up on the breaks and some other things that we had played with Blue Ribbon quality this summer!

2) Sean was unbelievably patient. Dennis or Jason would have been screaming. OK, yelling. We hardly deserved the patience.

In response, I obtained a new reed on Thursday at group lesson which is a little harder to play but sounds nicer and strikes in much better. I also practiced on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday. Saturday I . . . um . . . procrastinated.

The funny thing about practicing is that I don't sound, to myself, that I am improving from practice to practice, or from day to day. Somehow, however, when I get to Band Practice (in capital letters), I remember better how the tunes go. I expect to have little building-block improvements or something, and instead I get reinforced memory.


Friday 13 February 2009

We also stayed up late last night watching the news reports of a flight into Buffalo, NY that crashed that evening (not a JetBlue flight). Everybody on the flight, and one person on the ground, died. It was very scary.

We woke early and went downstairs to catch the shuttle to the airport, but it had left half an hour previously, so we went back upstairs and took showers and tried again a little later. It was touch and go whether we would actually get on the shuttle that arrived, since it was packed full of other travelers, but a secondary shuttle arrived and we got to JFK airport. We made it on the flight to Burbank, but only with Divine Intervention (probably in the form of the plane crash last night that frightened other travelers into cancelling their flight to Burbank this morning). We saw no point in wasting such drastic intervention, so we flew.

As soon as we got to Burbank, we went to the Hertz counter and rented a car for a few hours to drive to Long Beach. We stopped for lunch, since we weren't going to have much of a chance later, drove like crazy through the rain, and made it to the Long Beach airport just after they had closed the flight to Las Vegas where our bag was waiting. So we rescheduled for flying directly to Salt Lake City about 5 hours later, and went to find a corner to wait. Of course it was full of historical memorabilia. I learned about Bette Murphy who was a riveter during and after WWII in the Long Beach area. I don't think she's any relation to me, but she seems to have been memorable in her work ethic.

At 4 hours before flight departure we moved through security (it was stiill raining) and ensconced ourselves in the gate area. We all had books to read or puzzles to do, so we did, for 4 hours.

What with one thing and another, 4 hours passed. We made it on the flight and got home to freezing Utah at midnight (without our checked bag). Cat picked us up and we collapsed in our beds.

It snowed the next morning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday 12 February 2009 - Our 32-hour Day

This day started very early, but not early enough, it seems. No sooner had we started on the road at 0430 than the rain turned to snow and began sticking to the roads. And it just got worse from then on.

We avoided Dijon by using the periphery route recommended by Mme Silvestre, but it kept on coming down and building up, til by the time we reached the Alps we could hardly see, couldn't change lanes, and traffic was moving about 40 kph. It took us 5.5 hours of white-knuckle driving to make the 3 hour trip.

Emerging from under the clouds in Geneve, we raced to find a filling station, then sat in traffic again trying to get back to the airport. We checked in at about 1123 for our noon flight. We had only 7 minutes to spare. Luckily, the flight was wide open and customs and passport control were free of people and we made it to our gate at about 11:30.

As we came in to the ticket counter area, there were 2 rather long lines (neither one, it turned out, were ours), and I heard one guy on his cell phone saying that a flight had been cancelled and that the airport was a madhouse. He obviously had never been at JFK when weather had caused JetBlue to cancel 85 flights!

Our flight was not cancelled.

Also, I tried to use my Irish passport, but since I was going to the US, they told me I had to have a visa--and not the credit card, either. The customs guy was a young guy, and could see my kids and husband had just gone through and were American citizens, and he looked very worried telling me I would have to go get a visa. But I swapped out passports and we both felt much better.

Even though it was not delayed by an hour and a half, the flight was heaven compared to the fingernail-crunching trip we had driving from Quermigny-sur-Seine to Geneve.

We were only be delayed arriving in JFK for 30 minutes, so we could still make our JFK-Salt Lake City flight--if it had availability.

* * * * * * *

It did not have availability, and here is where we met the meanest person of our whole trip: a JetBlue ticket agent at JFK airport. She was curt, rude, did not smile, gave a one-word answer and then ignored us. After all the nice Parisians and Frenchmen and Swiss (who are all reputed to be mean), it was a shock to our system.

I tried getting us to another city, say Las Vegas, and indeed our checked bag did go to Las Vegas but we didn't make it. So we re-booked for the next day to Burbank, California and Todd found a hotel using his iTouch and the JetBlue wifi at Terminal 5. We took a taxi because, as you see by the title of this day, we had been awake a long time. We fell into bed, took only long enough to change our status to super passes and set the alarm for 0430, and slept.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Today we had nothing much planned except cleaning. So we cleaned our little cottage. Mme Silvestre was so kind as to call a fromagerie that she knew of nearby: les Marronniers (21510 Origny-sur-Seine). They were kind enough to give us a tour of their cheese-making factory (that used to be a stable) and we got a litre of whole milk, 2 rhubarb yogurts, a tarte au fromage, 2 of their cheeses and a bottle of pure apple juice. That milk was so-o-o-o good! I've never had anything better than that bottle of milk!

Then we drove around looking at churches and castles and lavoirs (washhouses). Every little village seemed to have a church and at least one lavoir. The lavoirs were fascinating. The were built of stone, often carved and decorated, often with a roof, and near the river. (There was always a river.) They were built so that the river ran through one part of the washhouse, and the other half had a place for you to kneel and/or put your laundry. The dirt and suds were washed away out the other end of the lavoir.

At Etalante we found a spring that started the river Coquille (shell). Immediately. It wasn't a tiny trickle that grew, bit by bit, as other little streams were added in; it came out of the ground as a full-fledged, rushing river. Someone had even built a mill about 100 feet (not yards or meters; feet) from the spring. The mossy mill-wheel was all that remained. The Coquille flows into the Seine a little later. We went to Todd's favorite village, Baigneux-les-Juifs (which he calls John the Baptist. It actually translates as Bather of Jews. I guess it's the same thing when you get right down to it) . We meandered through Billy-les-Chanceaux and saw the first bridge over the Seine.

We didn't go far and we didn't actually see a lot other than the above mentioned and 3 blue herons, 2 hawks and an egret.

We went home, tidied up some more, and we are waiting for Mme to come inspect the house so we can go have dinner at a local restaurant.

* * * * * * *

She finally came about 1845, we settled our account, and I was told the secret key hiding place for the house key next morning. We drove to about 3 restaurants before we found one that was both a) open and b) cheap enough, on the rez-de-chaussee (ground flour) of a hotel. It ended up being in Chatillon-sur-Seine, just down the river from home.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday, 10 February 2009 - Verdun

The Paris airports were closed today due to high winds. And they were strong! It hovered around 1 C, but it was freezing outside!

We went to McDonald's thinking to have something familiar for breakfast. But even though the names were in French, all the pictures of the stuff was different, too! It wasn't even the same food. [sigh] We did our best with what was there.

At Verdun, we found the huge castle-like place built into a hill, with all the tunnels that the soldiers stayed in during WWI (or as it is known here, The Great War): where they kept their stores, ate, slept and had medical facilities. It was very poorly ventilated and lit. We got a little train tour through some of the tunnels, with a dramatization of what it was like to live there and anticipate fighting in the battle. They fought there for 8 months, the front lines hardly moving at all. A million people were injured; half a million people were killed IN THIS ONE BATTLE ALONE! It was a sad place.

We drove around to different parts of the battle along the front line. Nine villages were destroyed and never rebuilt. At one place, an exploding missile buried 15 or so guys in their trench. Their bayonets could still be seen sticking up through the dirt. A monument has been built over them, leaving their bayonets still sticking out of the dirt where you can see them under the cement roof and pillars. Very eerie. And very cold.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday 9 February 2009 - Paris

We woke late for this trip, at 0530, and set off without breakfast. Again I was navigator and translator, but it was easier since we were aiming for such a big target.

When we got closer in, it really started to be stressful (for me) as we looked for a place with a Metro Stop and Protected Parking both. It took a few tries. First we parked in a parking lot reserved only for the grocery store it was under. Since we were allowed 2 hours to park there, we wandered around the immediate neighborhood and located another parking area with plenty of space, drove there, parked, got Metro tickets (carnet of 10) from a tabacciniste. While we were debating which way the Metro stop was from us, 2 separate people (Parisians) asked if they could help us. The second told us very kindly where the Metro stop was. We found it (eventually) after taking a tour of the neighborhood park and collection of bicycles to rent, and rode into the stop nearest Notre Dame. We had arrived!

Bethe was thrilled! Lots of pictures were taken. We decided not to go up in the tower, since it was cloudy and threatening rain, but we did walk slowly through the cathedral. A choir was either practicing or performing, we couldn't tell which. We got a golden coin for Teancum with the image of Notre Dame on it, to add to his smashed penny collection.

After, we went to the Louvre. It wasn't far, just across le Pont de Neuf and down a block. We saw some bateaux mouches going under the bridge, as well as a barge. Bethe and Teancum got their first view of le Tour Eiffel and pointed it out to Todd, who pretended to be upset that he had seen it, never ever wanting to ever see it in his life.

Finding a public restroom turned out to be pretty difficult, in France in general, but not so much in Paris. There were public toilets on every other corner, that flushed and cleaned themselves after every use. How cool is that? Just don't linger after using it or you'll get wet feet. They also close for the night.

The Louvre was fantastic! Nineteen years ago when I was in Paris with baby Catriona, I saved my last day, a Tuesday, for doing the Louvre. Whaddya know? The Louvre is "ferme les mardis" (closed EVERY Tuesday). This time it was Monday, and it was open. Amazing and interesting things were around every corner. The best part was when I turned the corner and saw an old friend, Venus de Milo (Farewell Two Arms)!

We had i-touch-like boxes that could tell you all kinds of things about whatever you were looking at. They were very cheerful, sort of random things. Up another stair and around the landing and there was . . . The Winged Victory of Samothrace!! Wah! I also got to see a real Vermeer, the Lace Maker (it was about 6"x6") and the Mona Lisa (also much smaller than I imagined) and The Raft of the Medusa (much BIGGER than I imagined) and many, many other statues and paintings that I have seen pictures of and learned about but never seen in real life. Until now.

I think we spent 5 hours there. It rained the whole time.

Todd led us Metro-ly on a little tour of the underground until we emerged near le Tour Eiffel. Even though he had vowed never to see it. By now it was raining not quite so hard, but the top of the Tour was lost in clouds. Bethe was again enthralled and took many pictures. We caught the Metro back to our parking garage neighborhood, ate at a local cafe with a very nice proprietesse who saw how cold and wet we were and filled us full of chocolate chaude and French pastries.

To top it all, after we found the car again, Todd drove back into Paris and showed the kids l'Arc de Triomphe and le Tour Eiffel all lit up, and 'splained all the history involved. Did you know le Tour Eiffel was originally meant only to be temporary for the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris. But it paid for itself in the first month, so they thought they might as well leave it up. The Official Tour Eiffel Website is here:

We very nearly didn't find gas again. Some People like to wait 'til the last minute out of pure stubbornness!

Instead of going home, we decided it would cost the same in gas that it would cost for a hotel in Reims and then it would be a short drive to Verdun tomorrow.

It took 3 or 4 tries to find an inexpensive hotel in Reims. We told them we only had 1 child. We did finally find one. It had a double bed and a set of bunk beds in the room, so we were OK. We couldn't get the heater to work, and the very strong wind whistled through the window all night. No, noot the window; a hole built into the window. Whatever was that for, I wonder? It was a tiny, cute room, and very clean. The toilet and the shower were in the same tiny bathroom, American style. The toilet was not against the wall, and the shower had 2 doors that closed and met each other at the corner.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday 8 February 2009 - Beaune

We slept late (9:00), had crepes from breakfast and drove to Beaune, not getting lost even once--not even in Dijon! We arrived at noon, I easily (this never happens to me) directed us to Route de Savigny and #49 and there they were. Well, Muriel anyway. Patrick had run to the store to get cigarettes.  

Muriel is the same as I remember her, only with glasses now. Patrick has gone nearly white, but very personable and funny. He spoke English with a very strong French accent (of course) for the kids. We loved it.

I tried to keep the family in the conversation but I think I got too involved in the stories to stop and translate.  . Teancum did use his little bits of French and they praised him accordingly. Bethe said nothing. Todd's major achievement was to say, "Je parle francais comme une vache espagnol" (I speak French like a Spanish cow.) which Muriel and Patrick got a kick out of.

After dinner--oh, we had Raclette, which is cold cuts and boiled new potatoes and toasted slices of cheese--Mere and Pere Rougon came. I gave Mme Rougon 2 bises (kisses) because the last time I saw her (19 years ago) I gave everybody else les bises but not her. I have been feeling bad about it ever since. Typically, she didn't recall that at all. Anyway, we had tarte au creme fraiche made by Muriel and Galette aux Rois made by Mere Rougon. I found out that Muriel's birthday is in January. In France they eat Gallette aux Rois for the feast of the Epiphany and for most other feasts, including birthdays.

After we said au revoir, we found rue de Lorraine and my old l'Ecole des Beaux-arts.     We walked from there to the centreville and took a tour through l'Hotel Dieuan old hospital from the Middle Ages. We heard the bells from the steeple chime several times. We started walking towards my apartement but people got tired, so we went back to the car and drove around the city walls a couple of times until we found rue du Faubourg Perpreuille, then down that to #49. My place looked pretty abandoned, the volets (shutters) were closed and grape vines were growing all over. But it was my place.

Then we drove home, counting either l'Hotel Dieu and/or the fortifications of Beaune as another castle for Teancum. He was happy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday 7 February 2009

We woke up very early, intending to drive to Verdun, almost in Germany, then to Belleau Wood (WWI battle sites). We headed north on 1/4 tank of gas.

We were trying to get to Troyes, a rather largish town north of us, but the distances to it on the signs kept changing. About the time the sun came up, we stopped at a medium-sized town and I tried to get euros out of a bank machine, then another one. We also tried using a credit card to get gas. All were refused. We were astonished.

I couldn't figure it out: I had transferred $800 from Todd's account the night before using Mme Silvestre's laptop computer (the only one in the village, I think) which was using dial-up and was v-e-r-y slow. But nothing worked.

The empty tank light was on but Todd kept going to the next tow, and the next. I just knew the farther he drove, the farther I'd have to walk when we ran out of gas. And it would be me walking, because he couldn't walk and he couldn't speak French.

Finally, we stopped about 10k from Troyes and waited outside the only bank until it opened at 9:00. While we were waiting, I tried calling our bank with my numbers, but even the toll-free-from-France number wouldn't work! Then it was my job to go in to the bank and ask for help. The lady was very kind, but could only suggest I try the Poste (post office). I duly went there and waited in a long line. I had 3 questions for the Poste person: Could I get euros from my credit card here? Could she change dollars to euros? Could she buy back the postcard stamps? She could do neither of the first 2, but she was ready to help me with the 3rd. Then I couldn't find them!! She suggested the Bureau de Tabac & Presse, but it was closed.

We drove on.

At Troyes, running on the grace of God alone, we got to a Carrefour (which translates to Crossroad, sort of a strip mall) and tried again to use a cc to buy gas. No dice. I tried at a bank inside, but was informed that if I was not a member, she would not help me. I went across the street to a (larger) Poste and the lady said she could exchange my dollars, she would just need help to do it. I could live with that.

I didn't dare hope this would work. I had Todd's $130 in 20's and a 10.

She and her supervisor went through a laborious series of steps, which resulted in them giving me, after a 5 euro fee, 91.87 euros.

We were saved!

I thanked them profusely, and we made tracks back across the street to the Carrefour and looked fora way to pay with cash. The lady in the box directed me to the last pump, which I was able to start without a credit card. We filled up. At the pay box, we noticed the lady ahead of us paying with a cc, so we tried with my Mastercard.

It worked! Seems you have to slide it through a different part of the machine if you don't have the microchip.

Now we had a full tank of gas and 91.87 euros as well.

Since it was so late, we decided we did not have time for Verdun, but might have time for Belleau Wood plus Paris. We we had our usual hard time finding the tiny town of Belleau, and then spent quite awhile there,            looking into shell holes and foxholes,      sighting along cannons, and looking for family names among the list of people who could not be found after the battle(4 Murphys and 1 Olsen, no Haddens, 2 Johnsons), that we didn't have time to see Paris either, so we wended our slow, winding, backroads-of-France way home.

I right away drove down to the pay phone in Quemigny-sur-Seine and called the bank (8pm France time, noon Utah time). The nice lady informed me that when you withdraw funds from overseas, it automatically takes it from your savings! Oh-ho! That was why I could only get 200 euros and Todd could only get 40 euros. She transferred our funds to our savings, so I hope that will be all right.

I also called Muriel (you see how well my phone numbers were working now!!) and found that she was feeling better and we could come visit her. Also, Pere and Mere Rougon (her parents: Pere Rougon was my drawing instructor when I lived in Beaune, 1979-1980) would be joining us for dessert tomorrow. Yeah!

When I drove back to our little cottage in Cosne, the news was on. It had rained on us, but it had snowed buckets on Paris, not a city used to quantities of snow!! We would have been stuck in a terrible traffic jam. So all those problems this morning were to protect us from a worser fate!

I'm having very little trouble with the language, and Teancum and Todd are picking up lots of vocabulary. Todd's pronounciation is still terrible, but what do you expect from somebody who speaks English and Spanish, and who still says "heli-cock-ter"?

Muriel & Patrick Seichon-Rougon
49, route de Savigny
Beaune, France 21200

M. & Mme. Silvestre
4, Chemin de Buisson
Quemigny-sur-Seine 21510

Pictures to be added later.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday 6 February 2009


I slept in til 9:00 am (Cosne time). Do you blame me? We had chocolate chaude and pain francaise for breakfast (and certain of us had chocolate cake . . . ) Mme. Silvestre came to do the paperwork.  We looked at our little cottage in the daylight.                

Then we set off with a much better map that she had given us, plus suggestions of things to see.

Our first stop was a chateau, since we hadn't had time to see the one near Geneve yesterday. We went to le Chateau de Bussy-Rabatin, but we got there just after noon, and lunch for them is 1200-1400, so we only got to take pictures of the outside. We were planning to come back.

Next we went to the ruins of an ancient Gallo-Roman town, then called Alesia, now called Alise-Sainte-Reine. The ruins date from 4000 B.C. when it was a townful of Gauls. Much later in its history, there was a battle between the Romans (led by one of the Cesars) and the Gauls (led by none other than Vercingetorix) in August and September of 52 B.C. Alesia was a forfitied town and was situated on top of the tallest hill in the area. Vercingetorix let his 80,000 Gauls to Alesia for refuge against the 60,000 Romans that were after them. We could have visited the different Roman camps, because they were all documented. I don't know if we know exactly what happened during this battle, but the end result was that despite the Gauls superior numbers and excellent positioning above the Romans and in a fortified city, the Romans won. Todd thinks it was because of their superior tactics and armor. Those nasty old Romans took Vercingetorix prisoner back to Rome and kept him in prison until Julius Cesar was made Emperor of Rome. On that same day, Julius Cesar had Vercingetorix killed. After this battle and execution, the Gauls went downhill steadily. It was a pretty sad story.

We procured lunch from a supermarche in Venarey-les-Laumes, and ate it near a statue of Vercingetorix himself, complete with moustaches.

After that we went north to the ancient (but not as ancient) Abbey de Fontenay-- from about the XIth century. It was in much better condition in a pretty valley with a goodly stream running through it. The original ceiling beams and supports of the church, made of maple, were still intact and doing their jobs. We also saw the dormitory, the chapter room (where they read a chapter every morning), a writing room, a heating room, the forge, and the gardens. Very quiet and beautiful.

On our way home, we went through Villaines-en-Duesmois and found the 4 towers of a castle built before 1005 A.D. Small Son was ecstatic. We climbed down into the bases of the towers, and up into the tops, peeked through the archer slits, traced the moat and discussed the defenses with arrows or crossbows. Gunpower hadn't been invented yet.

We took the truck route toward Dijon instead of the car route and disscovered it was a much shorter way home, as we nearly drove past our house.

A fun day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday 5 February 2009

Today dawned even earlier than yesterday (for people who were used to getting up 8 hours later than this) in Geneve, Switzerland. Going through passport control, I got to go through the EEC line (nobody was in it) while Todd and the kids went through the US line (long). When I started to show the guy my red European passport, he just said, "Oui. OK" and waved me through without even looking at my pic (and without stamping it, either, dang it!)

Adventure #1
I collected the one bag; Todd rented the car, and our next job was to get Todd's AmX card. The old one had been compromised and they had a new one waiting for us in Geneve. The address he was given for the AmX office in Geneve was 15, rue de l'Aeroport. We drove around looking, and asked several hotel clerks around town, and some people on the street. They all directed us to the same general airport area. Finally, Todd set off on foot to find the address and told me to follow him. But he was walking very slowly, so I had to double around and I lost him. I learned from another hotel clerk that there was an AmX office IN the airport, so I parked the car back in the Avis rental place and walked into the office IN the airport, where I learned that Todd had already picked up his card. They paged him, and a few minutes later he walked in the front door. (He says he never heard the page.) It was a very stressful 2 hours for us both.      
Adventure #2
Our next job was to get to France. We started driving west, but instead of finding the autoroute, we ended up on a small national route through the Alps. It was pretty exciting! We saw some peaks that were very high and pointy, but couldn't get the pic because it was across the car and through the window, and the road was twisty and trees kept getting in the way.
Adventure #3
Finally we got to Dijon, France, determined to get some cash and some lunch. We found an IKEA and lined up for lunch, but when we tried to pay, none of our credit cards would work. Todd had to drive to a nearby establishment, get 20 euros, come back and pay. The kids and I sat there, embarrassed, waiting. I apologized to the clerk, and she apologized to me. Next we found a supermarket and got some euros, but mostly from my account. Todd could only get 20 euros. I got 200 euros, but we needed 216 for the house we were renting. Hmmm . . . .

Adventure #4
We needed to telephone our proprietaire, Claudine or Alain Silvestre, to let them know we were at Dijon. I was sure I could dial from any phone with the access numbers for France that I had, but Todd was sure I needed a phone card. So we tried at several places to buy a phone card, but could not find anybody who sold them. Between times of trying, we drove west from Dijon, realized we needed to go north, and turned off into rural roads. The map we had was not very detailed, we had no compass, and the town names all started to sound the same. Plus, it was now pitch black.

Finally we pulled into a small town called Source de la Seine that WAS on the map. It also had a pay phone. I convinced Todd to let me try calling from it with my numbers. It worked (good news) but the line was busy (bad news). I was trying for the third time when a young guy drove up in a camionette, parked, and prepared to enter the building we were next to. I asked him if he could tell us where the Route Nationale N71 was, we were lost, we were trying to find a town called Quemigny-sur-Seine. He invited me in and we talked to a young lady at a computer in a dark room. I explained the situation again to her, she pulled up a map program called Mappy, the guy explained turns and things, to get to N71. I thanked them profoundly. They told me their town was called Blessey up until Jan 2009. Now it is called Source de la Seine (probably for obvious reasons), and it is the smallest village in France. Which is saying something, having seen lots of teensy villages that night, and since.

They were very kind.

We found the town without much trouble after than. Next problem: how to find our lodgings. It was a teeny village (another one). One building on the route had a street light and a pay phone. I think it was city hall. I tried the Silvestre's phone again and . . . IT RANG!! Mme Silvestre came on the line, I introduced myself, and she was very happy to hear from us (2.5 hours after we were supposed to be there). I apologized several times and explained what had happened. She was very kind and very understanding, told me to wait right there and she would come over and lead us to our cottage.

She and her husband came and led us down the route a short ways (to the next little village called Cosne) where they opened the gates to a little cottage and told us to drive in. Then they opened the door of the tiny house and showed us around. It had a kitchen, a living room, 2 bedrooms, a shower room and a WC. She had made us a chocolate cake (no frosting) and apple juice (home made, I mean) and some orange wine. She wished us good night and said she'd come back tomorrow and we could do the paperwork. We got settled quickly and . . . . zzzzzz