Friday, July 31, 2009

A Woman After My Own Heart!

7/31/09 (Long Beach, CA) A police sergeant reported that one Sharon Tumich, 45, apparently stole a police car before dawn Thursday when an officer had left it unattended to conduct an investigation. Having "acquired" it, she drove it some 20 miles to a Boyle Heights gas station where she must have been apprehended.

Sadly, the account also labeled her as "a woman who may be mentally ill." C'mon! (elbow nudge) Who hasn't wanted to steal a cop's car -- or better still, a fire engine!

My sights have been set on a fire engine for quite some time. I do NOT want to have anything to do with a cop car -- they have GUNS in them!

I'm sure that a Freudian shrink would say of my desire to borrow an engine, "Oh, classic case of penis envy -- big, heavy, powerful, shooting streams..." That is SO not true. I have no desire whatsoever for that kind of "equipment" -- think about it - men have these bits and bobs hanging off of them; women are neatly and tidily constructed.

No, I'd just like to see the looks on the fire fighters faces. Having two cousins who are/were fire captains and by virtue of CERT classes (taught by firefighters) and various Open House days in stations, I feel that I know them and appreciate their wicked sense of humor among themselves. Naturally, any competitive person wants to top that!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tid Bits

Today, ladies' locker room, our gym: a wall-mounted soap dispenser that read "Dial Yogurt Aloe Vera Soap - for Thirsty Hands!" So ... Indians put it in their hair; we wash our hands with it?

A Good Read: "Faces" by Martina Cole Grand Central Publishing 502 pages $24.99
Cole has written 4 previous books and I'll be looking into them as well. The first that I read was called "Close" and it was a riveting account of an East End London crime family. "Faces" covers a similar family, but in a different time period. Cole's style is similar to the late Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes" and equally well limned.

Die, Fruit Fly!
Normally I am against killing any living thing, but in this season of fresh fruits on the kitchen counter and a husband who believes that closing a screen door blocks the breeze... I go against my nature and put out an old soup bowl filled with: 1 T liquid dishwashing soap, 2 T sugar and fill 'er up with water. I've mentioned this before, but it works! "Jack the Giant-Killer" has nothing on me. I gloat at the daily body count.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pity the Poor Beet

I feel sorry for beets, really I do. They rarely make an appearance on a dinner plate even at restaurants that serve "seasonal vegetables" which seem always to be roast potatoe, cauliflower and baked carrots. Salad bars do have them but I never see a plate going past that has any of them on it.

Saveur to the rescue! Here are two beet recipes from the August issue and both of them are crazier than betting a NASCAR race (if you asked me.)

2 T finely grated raw beets
]1/2 cup raw rolled oats
1/4 cup cooked and cooled rolled oats
1/4 cup peanuts, coarsely ground
1/4 cup walnuts ditto
2 T finely chopped onion
1 T each: seasame seeds, finely chopped fresh basil and finely chopped parsley
2 Tfinely chopped mint
3 T soy sauce
2 T dry mustard
pepper to taste

Combine these ingredients, form patties and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Prepare as usual and serve on a bun of your choice.

I'm told that Australians use pickled beet slices rather than pickle slices as we do here.

Add a little garlic powder and drushed red chilis to the hamburger meat, make patties and set aside.
Saute onion slices until browned and grill two slices of pineapple. Grill meat patties, adding slices of white cheddar to their tops as they finish cooking. Fry a pair of eggs and set aside.

Assembly: bottom bun holds lettuce, pickled beet slices, a slice of raw tomato, onions, pineapple ring. Add the meat patty, top it with a fried egg and the top bun. Cheers, mate!

Poor beets -- they have to travel Down Under just to get a little respect...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Dubious Venture

For the 5th time, Richie, "D" and Mouton are taking the train to San Diego to attend a baseball game this Sunday. The station is close enough to the stadium, that they walk to it.

Meanwhile, our friend "Raffish" moved to San Diego some time ago and has wondered aloud (and rather often) when we're going to come down and see 'his" San Diego. Figuring half of us is better than neither one of us, I'm going, too.

Naturally, I want to see anything that he cares to show me and I'm really looking forward to lunch at Peohe's, Coronado Island, with it's dynamite view of downtown San Diego across the water. We can even take water taxis to and from! How cool is that?

In France, I don't think anything about hopping onto a train. In fact, in its early days Richie and I took the TGV (Train de Grand Vitesse) from Paris to Marseilles. We were amazed to be hurtling along at nearly 200 mph.

It annoys all four of them that I habitually refer to it as "The Train of Sure and Certain Death." It's the seacoast liner and should be advertised as "The Most Scenic Train Ride You'll Ever Take! (straight to your death.)

Thus, instead of enjoying a relaxing, scenic trip down the coast, I must be ever alert and wary. My first duty is to make sure we are all seated in a middle car (less likely to derail) and not at a foursome with a table (massive internal injuries when the train crashes.) If at all possible, we need to ride in seats facing the caboose (to prevent neck/back injuries.)

Since my companions are all ardent train enthusiasts, they will roar with laughter at my caution and ridicule me with gusto, this is not going to be a whole lot of fun. I can only calm myself with visions of water taxis and plates of bounteous food at Peohe's and the beautiful scenery at either place. Just NOT from the train.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hey! An Old Friend!

Today I ran into CVS Pharmacy to pick up a prescription. It wasn't quite ready yet, so I browsed through the store -- bought a Revlon lipstick to add to my collection of the same color -- Revlon is very nice but they only keep a color so long so I've been stockpiling No. 700s.

In cosmetics I spotted the last jar of Udderly Smooth, the hand cream (created for cow's udders!) and originally discovered at Trader Joe's (who quietly discontinued selling it.)

And then! A candy counter with Russell Stover chocolates! I haven't seen that in ages and Russell Stover is a very famous Kansas City, Mo. product where I grew up and where I got them for festive occasions -- toe of my Christmas stocking, for Easter... so I bought a 12 oz. box of assorted for $8.99.

Safely home, I peeled of the cellophane and opened the box -- each chocolate is labeled inside the box lid! I love that! None of this pig in a poke stuff -- 2nd row in, middle chocolate is a Vermont Nut Cream. And, my dears, the candies are labelled in three languages! English, French and Spanish! How's that for chic?

Russell Stover actually began in KCMO in 1921 as chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars -- the original Eskimo Pies! But competition crept in and the couple who owned it sold it for $25,000 and moved (dispiritedly, one assumes) to Denver where they switched to making chocolates.

In 1969, they sold it to one Louis Ward, whose descendants own it today. There are 50 company-owned stores and 70,000 accounts in 20 plus countries. Russell Stover is the 3rd largest brand (behind Hershey's and Mars) selling 100 million pounds of candy per year.

Not bad for sleepy old Kansas City, eh?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Background: In 2000, I went to the State of California offices in Norwalk, CA, and purchased a DBA (Doing Business As.) I had to look through microfilms of other names to be sure that Murf Ink had not been taken. I paid the State $10 and a newspaper an additional $60 to publish this news for a certain period of time. Five years later, in 2005, I renewed it for, I believe, $10 (and no newspaper ads necessary.)

COMES NOW (I love this phrase from my legal secretary days) yesterday's mail and a notice from "Fictitious Business Name Renewal Center" of Sacramento telling me that my DBA is about to expire and to send them my personal check or money order in the amount of $100.00 before July 31, 2009.

The notice looked official (a form) but I knew renewal wasn't until next year and would only be for $10. So I googled the address -- sure enough, it existed, complete with map. But below that -- my eye was caught by a Scam Alert site which said it was a scam.

I ripped it in half, snorting "Hah! As if!" When I cooled down (my indignation knows no bounds when solicited for money I don't owe) I decided to take it to the Post Office and their Mail Fraud department. (So I had to tape it back together.)

I e'd our councilman as he takes a great interest in anything that might affect "his people." I notified the Better Business Bureau. I'm telling you in this blog. I'm not angry enough to fly to Sacramento and blow up their building. Besides, I hate sudden loud noises.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

As I Understand It ...

There is something I'm not hearing much about in the recent debates about Obama's proposed health insurance plans.

And that's the fact that medical service providers (hospitals and diagnostic testing places) routinely seem to charge 2/3rds more than what the actual procedure should be. I have a case in point right in front of me:

Yesterday, our PPO sent me the following information:

6/2/09 Echocardiogram
The diagnostic center charged a flat $945 of which Medicare paid $250. The PPO was telling me that there is a balance of $694, indicating they would go along with Medicare's assessment of the cost. If the center doesn't accept that, then I get to pay the rest.

6/11/09 Nuclear Treadmill test - $2,515 of which Medicare paid $836

The PPO broke out this itemized bill as follows:

Diagnostic services $1,215 Medicare paid $405
Radiology services - $500 Medicare paid $166
Diagnostic (unspecified) $375 Medicare paid $125
Diagnostic (unspecified) $200 Medicare paid $66
Diagnostic (unspecified) $200 Medicare paid $66
Prescription drug (probably the isotopes) $25 of which Medicare paid $8.33
Using the 1/3 theory, Medicare paid that much; the PPO will pay another 1/3 and the service provider (usually) splits the last 1/3 and I pay half of it.

Even if it does end up costing me some $543, it is well worth it to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my heart. In fact, the cardiologist said, "You have the heart of a 29 year old marathon runner!" which surprised me greatly. When and where did this transplant take place and how come I didn't know about it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bar Food

Grazing at its best! Last night we had a bar food dinner for $20 -- two servings of Killer Shrimp (steamed on a baguette slice with a sauce of fire-roasted peppers, tomatoes and habanero cream,) Barrel House Shrimp Jackets (grilled on a skewer with a bit of onion and a chunk of pineapple) in a thick, hot sweet sauce for dipping, a bowl of thick Jambalaya (Richie) and "Crawfish Spears" -- I asked our server what they were and when she said, "Crawfish tails grilled on a skewer" I said, "Bring 'em on!" But when they arrived, they were crisp-shelled like an egg roll, cut on the bias. I look quizzical and she said, "They changed the way they do it..."

All of these dishes were $5 each! Dinner was $20 because, without saying a word, she'd not charged me for the crawfish which I had liked very much and had said so. Drinks were 2 for 1 - a pairf of Stellas? $7.

Along with the bill came a postcard advertising "Taco Tuesdays." Each of the following is $3 per taco (and by tweaking some of the sauces, you could make a couple at home...)

Killer Shrimp Tavcos - see above
Sexy Veggie Tacos (an oxymoron if I ever read one) of roasted corn, red and green peppers, black olives, carmelized onions, shitake mushrooms, diced avocado, Swiss cheese with a citris vinaigrette sauce.
Creole Carnitas Stack - hickory-smoked, pulled pork, carmelized onions, cucumber relish, tomatillo sauce
Cajon Chicken Tacos - oakwood-smoked, pulled chicken, iceberg lettuce, tomato-lime salsas, Swiss cheese, tomatillo sauce

For this one, I think you'll have to visit Boogaloo Cafe, 1238 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach 310-318-2324

And that would be: Alligator Tacos! Hickory-smoked alligator, southern slaw, cilantro glaze, aioli sauce.

You'll need their Bucket of Beer - five for $15; choice of Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors, Light, Corona, Pacifico, Heineken - to wash those babies down!

BEWARE: the HB city parking lot across the street charges a flat $6 rate Thurs., Fri., and Saturday nights.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do I Look Like a Rockefeller?

The Huntington High School class of '59 (Huntington, LI) will take place in mid-October. Richie is a proud graduate and promptly responded to the invitation. The other day, the info came in and I quote:

"In an effort to be both memorable for a once-in-our-lifetime event, as well as cost conscious, we have made the following plans."

Friday - Icebreaker from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Huntington Yacht Club - $35 per person. Appetizers will be served throughout the evening and there will be a cash bar.

Saturday - (presumably a dinner dance) from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Huntington Crescent Club -- $150 per person!

Sunday - Brunch (with a cash bar) from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Huntington Bay Club - $40 per person.

If Richie and I were to go to all of these events, it would cost us $450! By skipping the dance and just going to the Friday and Sunday events as we plan to do will only set us back $150.

Oh! And there is a reunion discount rate at the Huntington Country Inn where we usually stay anyhow. What shall we do with all the money we will save? Loan it to a Rockefeller for exhorbitant interest?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The French National Motto

"Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" Freedom, equality and brotherhood. Examples gleaned from a recent visit to France....

Freedom - Recently all French hotels were legally declared totally non-smoking. This includes the room for which you have reserved and paid. You are not allowed to smoke in it.

Equality - There is no smoking aboard a French bus or train. The Air France bus pulled into the stop, the driver let everyone off, re-closed the door and lit and smoked a cigarette out the open driver's window. He then opened the doors and let everyone board.

Brotherhood - Buy traveler's checks at your bank stateside but get them in Euros, not dollars. Many banks refuse dollars, but the post office will accept them and do the swap.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yogurt - Health Food or Dessert?

I can't be the only person to wonder about this in the 4,500 years people have been eating yogurt...

It's made up of protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and B12. The lactic acid in it promotes good gum health.

A scientific experiment reported that patients who ate yogurt three times a day, lost 22% more weight and 81% more abdominal fat than the control group whch only counted calories. Attention: as this information was provided online as such it may well be very, very wrong. Do not begin to eat your own weight in yogurt every day!

Dannon brand yogurt began in 1919 when a man from Salonika started producing it in Barcelona. "Danone" (the original name) meant "little Daniel" and was named for his son. In 1933, adding cooked fruit was patented.

Yogurt is tremendously popular in India where it is traditionally served at the end of a meal as dessert. Indians also use it as a hair pomade! In Nepal, it is served as an appetizer or as dessert.

As a dessert, it's commonly presented as a smoothie or frozen gelato with or without berries or as a dip for fresh fruit.

You can easily make it at home! chirped the woman who put this recipe online. Commercial yogurt starter is available at Wal-Mart (!) as "Euro-Cuisine Yogurt Starter" and has five 50 mg packages for $20. (I buy the finished product for 79 cents a container...)

To make it: heat up a quart of milk with 2 T of yogurt starter and infinite patience. Heat the milk until it's steaming and then let it cool. Put it in a thermos, close the top and let it stand for four hours. Once it sets, drain it (cheesecloth in a strainer) for several hours. Add a flavor or fruit jam and enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Philosophical Discussion

One rainy afternoon, Michelle and I got into a discussion about how we plan to be buried. (No, I have no idea how this came up either.)

At any rate, I asked, "Buried or cremated?" and with a delicate shudder, she replied, "Buried! (warming to the topic) Some souls aren't ready to go -- they need more time here."

This was certainly a novel concept to me and "paganism" flickered briefly through my mind. Instead, I said, "Michelle -- medically speaking, at the nanosecond of death, you're gone! What was 'you' -- personality, self, soul! goes leaving only our bodies -- or shells -- behind to be disposed of."

Stubbornly, she said, "I decided this when my father-in-law died -- Boom! Cremation! Service! Gone. It wasn't time enough for me..."she said somewhat wistfully.

"I'm all for speed," I said, "People can party for the next 30 days if they want to! I never want to be defenceless in a box with everyone looking down on me and making unfavorable comments..."

We sat in silence for a moment. I was thinking very hard. Both of my in-laws had been buried and to this day, standing at their graves, I can look "down" and see them, lying in their best in the casket, exactly as they did at the viewing. Not a pleasant thought.. Still, Michelle is entitled to her own opinion and thoughts. I thought some more.

"I know what! If you go first, bring your soul to California to say "Goodbye" to me there. I'll never have time to make it to France from there... let alone full-price plane tickets. Yes (nodding to myself) I think that's best. It's not like it would cost you anything... astral travel..."

Michelle looked startled and then began to smile -- the idea was taking hold, I could see that. Quick to seal the deal, I added, "You could make it sort of a world tour -- I know you have friends in Thailand and Japan and..."

She was laughing hard now. "You are too funny!" she spluttered.

Still, she didn't reject the idea out of hand either...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Friend's Blog

A fellow Thurs. Writer -- er, member of the South Bay Writer's workshop has started writing a blog. Since Joyce is a talented writer I heartily recommend it. Her stories, generally, are two person-related with a kind of wholesome, old-fashioned flavor we seldom see in today's world (recent media circuses) and I tease her that she writes about "Joyceville."

The first blog is more or less a test to see if it got up properly and it's If you're in the mood to go back to a more relaxed, gentle time, then Joyce is the woman for you....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Dread 'SSSS"

You don't want to see this printed across the right bottom edge of your boarding pass because it means you are about to be subjected to all of the delights of a full security search.

My bags were going through the x-ray machine at Charles DeGaulle and I had just stepped into the metal-detecvtor doorway holding my boarding pass and passport. A uniformed man stepped forward, took my passport and walked off with it -- not a word to me.

A uniformed lady then stepped forward and wanded me, but the French do not use a wand, they use their gloved hands. To say it is thorough is understatement. It is also in full view of all the other passengers. She passed my well-padded ribs and in a gesture of amiability I remarked, "Too much good French food!" but she was unreceptive. Not that I expected diet tips; it was just something to say.

She waved me through and directed me to the guy with my passport who was standing in front of a table. My bags appeared, another lady unzipped all of them and pawed through them (with gloved hands.)

Figuring that was that.. but I was wrong. Another woman approached holding a stick with a piece of wet paper towel (?) inserted into one end and she proceeded to swab the interior of both bags and the palms of both hands. She then motioned me to go on.

I started to step out (smartly, you may be sure) when I realized that Richie, behind me, was
also getting the full treatment. Not wanting to be associated with what might turn out to be a known criminal, I cruised on ahead and waited a prudent distance away.

I know! Loyalty is a fault with me. Happily he was as innocent as I and we proceeded to our gate.

Of Interest

Yesterday's newspaper listed birthdays on that day -- Phyllis Diller turned 92 and Art Linkletter was 97. Born in 1917 and 1912 respectively, can you imagine how much history they have seen? Additionally, Linkletter and his wife have been married for 74 years!

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Printer!

Purchased, installed and running today. You can expect (marginally) better columns, more tightly written for one thing. I compose, edit, print, edit and then go with it. I've been winging it (notes to column) since we got home and it sure as hell shows.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

French Style: Head to Toe

On previous visits to France while I loved to see the women clipping purposefully down the sidewalks, impeccable in tailored outfits, properly accessorized you may be sure, I always felt a little discomfitted at what a slob I looked in comparison. Did I change my ways? Of course not! But finally I was able to get over myself and enjoy the parade once again.

Today? The parade has marched off into obscurity, leaving nothing but a faint wash of perfume behind. I saw bedhead hair, not a neat chignon; the unfortunate "look" of a skinny-strapped tee (bra straps part of the ensemble;) ill-fitting pants that were either baggy in the wrong places or super tight with superflous buttons or zippers where the cuff should be.

And the shoes! Awful plastic, shiny things with unnecessary buckles and/or trim in unlikely places. They screamed "Two Euros per pair!" (If that.) Never have I seen so many cheap shoes - a veritable cornucopia of them.

The men hadn't fared much better. Dirty-looking jeans with cotton dress shirts worn over them, tails descending toward the ground. Motorcycle boots or clapped-out running shoes...

The one thing that hasn't changed is mens' hair cuts. Either short and neat or grown long, scraped off of the forehead and gathered into a pony tail, banded at the nape of the neck. I think it's the national "Intellectual Wanna-Be" look. Richie's great mop of hair got curious looks everywhere we went.

I mentioned all of the above to Michelle (who irons her t-shirts, to give you an idea) and she told me that the young people don't care because their parents didn't teach them any better. She frowned briefly, adjusted the brooch in her scarf and said, "Are we ready to go?"

Me? I missed the everyday elegance I used to see. After all, Michelle, impeccably dressed and groomed as she is, is only one person among 'way too many.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vegetable Abuse?

Reading an ad for the up-coming Orange County Fair, I noticed they were touting A New Food for the Fair! It was billed as a Zucchini Weenie and consisted of a hot dog inside a hollowed-out zucchini which was then battered and deep fried!

How ghastly is that?

I googled the phrase and came across a woman whose mother had eaten one and didn't like it. She now fixes them like this: cut a small zucchini in half, put a hot dog that's been sliced down the middle -- one-half hot dog per zucchini half- brush with olive oil and grill on the barbecue. If you have to eat traif like this, I guess it's not as bad (or caloric) as the original. other news, July is National Hot Dog month and the US consumed 150 million of them on the 4th of July alone. Most favored topping is mustard. The World Record for eating them is 53 1/2 Nathan's hot dogs with buns in 12 minutes. No comment!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"But What Did You Do?"

Since you ask, not a lot and slowly! A typical day started with slices of baguette, butter and honey -- first up made the coffee. Then showers and around 11 a.m. we'd set off in the car -- one day we went to the flea market in Pont l'Abbe (think: piles of"Crocs" and you've got it.) It was rainy on and off so we weren't sorry to leave.

Sunday, we went for a boat ride on the l'Odet River. To get there we kind of had to hurry our preparations .. Michelle and I were ready to go, but Richie was piddling around upstairs. Michelle looked at me and said, "You know, Nina, there are three women living here!" and yelled up the stairs at him again.

We made it just in time. Michelle had asked for one of the translators to do it in English and we had barely seated ourselves on the upper deck, when the nicest young woman approached us and asked if we were the ones. During most of the cruise, she stood near my shoulder and would give me previews of coming vistas. She worked from a script and showing it to me, asked me how to pronounce one of the words -- it was "hiden" for "hidden." She did a very good job.

When we docked, we went to lunch at Le Sans Souci, one of the many restaurants in that area with an expansive outdoor patio. The special was scallops and langoustine brochettes with an orange butter sauce (14 Euros) and we all ordered it. Very, very good...

Another day, we went to see Raz, a point of land high off of the water, a nature preserve complete with shops, restaurants and a welcome center. In the past, the Atlantic was so wild and the winds so strong that an entire village was inundated - the water was over the roofs! (And yet, much like the residents of Malibu, they're still there.)

They fish for bass there -- looking up at the cliffs for bird activity - when they hover and swoop, they maneuver their boats there. Bass like churning water and the boats are tossed like corks in it. To say it's dangerous is wildly understating it.

We went to take a look at Le Torche beach - a wide, wide expanse of sand with "perfect" surfing waves. International competitions are held there.

Very often, we'd hit the supermarket. The French love freshness! and if it means going on a near daily basis, they will. The fishing boats begin to come in around 4:30 -5 p.m. and they have a ton of customers waiting to see the day's catch. Fish markets there also sell bottled and refrigerated soups --Fish Soup, Lobster Bisque...

By late afternoon, we were all ready to laze at an outside table of various cafes, bars, for a relaxing drink and a view of the harbor. Then home and dinner.

It was very relaxing -- we only turned the TV on once a day to see the news (although I cheated and read the Drudge Report online.) It's a very, very quiet neighborhood - only the tweets and twitters of birds break the silence. Knowing the Atlantic is only 2 blocks away, one can almost hear the waves breaking.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I disconnected the old printer this morning and put it in the "hazardous waste" pile (next to the old monitor.)

I re-connected the other printer, only to discover it's out of ink. I hate this one anyhow because it continually buzzes and chirps (about nothing at all.) It cleans itself, seemingly when it feels like it even if I haven't used it for awhile. It's also a scanner and fax. Neither of which do I use on any kind of regular basis. I bought it because I thought it was "cool" to do those things. Which was before I discovered it isn't.

I can buy a new printer and turn this one off. But: I paid good money for it and want to get some use out of it! Nickel Nose, you recall? As in having a nose that finds every nickel loose.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Eating on the Fly

France has long been considered a gourmet's heaven. And when they "get it right" they really hit the mark.

However... saw a billboard for Tropicana's Cucumber and Mint Cold Soup (offered in the oj containers we're used to seeing here.) Michelle ordered and ate a "pizza Royale" which came to the table with a raw egg in the half-shell in the center of it. I have no idea whether she broke it up in the cup and slathered it on or not. Only the empty half-shell remained and it wasn't talking.

We flew Air France (coach) and I was interested to see what they offered.

From LAX to CDG at 6:45 p.m.
Mediterranean pasta salad with flaked (dark and salty) tuna

Roasted thigh (What? 1st got breast of chicken?) of chicken flavored with thyme, vegetables and herbed mashed potatoes
Poached salmon accompanied by bell pepper compote and saffron rice.

In order: Cheese... fresh fruit ... banana chocolate cake which was a brownie with dried banana chips on top.

Wines were: Vins de Pays d'Oc Chardonney 2007 Coleurs du Sud OR
Vin de Pays d'Oc Chardonney 2008 La Baume. (Very good)

Vin de Pays d'Oc Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 La Baume.

The aperitif champagne was Jacquart Brut Mosaique (which might mean a blend of grapes)

From CDG to LAX, departing at 10:40 a.m.
Eggplant and carrot crumble

Curried chicken and fettuccine pasta with vegetables OR Pollock with basil cream sauce, yellow rice, broccoli and carrots.

Followed by: Camembert Fresh pineapple and a slice of raspberry cake

Wines were the same as the flight to Paris.

I sincerely recommend a late afternoon/early evening flight TO Paris because it's dark and you can sleep. Coming home, it was daylight all the way - we landed at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

French Facilities 101

French toilets (and they're called that, not bathrooms or restrooms) generally speaking are unisex which means first come, first served. Cubicles are doored down to the floor and up to the ceiling. I mention this because some have a window (and thus light) and others are on a timer switch (apparently 30 seconds) so in the midst of a visit, you may suddenly be plunged into utter darkness. Be prudent and orient yourself before closing the door. You may want to carry a little penlight in your pocket. As well as Kleenex or paper napkins -- no one is going to give you change for a $10 in there.

The wash basins may -- or most likely may not -- have soap. The usual method of hand drying is a small blow dryer that you activate by putting your hands under it. Best to carry a bottle of Purell rather than depend on the generosity of the French.

Public pay toilets cost 1 Eu per visit ($1.37 American) and are highly efficient. You look at the light system next to the coin slot before making a deposit. Green means it's okay to go in; Amber means cleaning is being finished and Red means the door is locked and you can't get in because the paper dispensor has vanished into a wall and the toilet lid is closed. The interior of the entire room is being hosed down automatically. For this reason, don't try to beat the system and save a Euro by holding the door for your buddy and slipping out. BAD IDEA. They'll be drenched in an evil-smelling chemically-treated gout of water.

In all toilets, the water is kept at a low level; thus when you flush there is this tremendous spurt of water that geysers out. Be smart, close the lid first!

Incidentally, many public toilets have no seat and lid -- just the bare porcelain rim upon which to rest your behind. The French invite you to partake of their hospitality, not vacation there.

Now you're ready to "go" in France!

Friday, July 10, 2009


It's "various" because our ancient printer took the opportunity of our absence to quietly pass into cyberspace or wherever shot printers go. Thus I'm forced into translating short notes (rather than the full story.)

French inconveniences continued: The handicapped in France are not treated all that well. Most restaurants are in ancient buildings and toilets were evidently added as an after-thought since they are almost all up or down twisty, narrow stairs. Naturally the spaces are too small for an elevator. Further, ramps are not provided and many of the restos require a short flight of stairs to get in or out of them.

Some buses have a driver-controlled slide-out ramp, but trains and metro cars don't seem to have them.

But with wit, the French treat handicapped parking spaces like this: "If you take my parking place, take my handicap."

Supermarkets have a sign on the check out counter that says handicapped persons are allowed to cut in front of other customers. (Supermarkets only.) Michelle did what she was legally entitled to do, but the German couple behind her were visibly disgruntled. She told the clerk that perhaps her boss didn't tell her to announce this to other passengers in line. The clerk admitted that he hadn't said anything, but that she would in the future. Michelle is a regular customer there and knows all the cashiers.

Tomorrow we will explore French toilets, truly an experience of variedness.

Monday, July 6, 2009

French ...Inconveniences

Here is the one the French use as we use ours...


Tomorrow we start home...train from Quimper to Paris then Air France bus to Roissy and a night in an airport hotel then onto Flight 62 from Paris to LAX. Good to get back to my own keyboard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Got In

Safe, if long, trip. French keyboards are very different. CAPS LOCK instead of shifting;

More funny things = French stamps can be bought in chocolate scent: yes, the stamps smell like chocolate.

Hot water taps turn away from you toward the wall. Cold turns toward you.

Narrow streets so some French cars have a button you push that swings the side mirrors shut against the car.

French washers spin vertically not horizontally.

Sign for a bar restaurant: Au Puits d'amour [at the well of love]