Thursday, March 29, 2012


Versailles is a suburb of Paris.  That's the first thing I did not know.  The gardens and palace span just under a thousand acres.  I think I walked each and every one of those acres.  The pamphlet I had in my hand told me that walking from the palace to the end of the lake that divides the gardens would take one hour.  I didn't know that either before we set out that day but I was so happy that I wore comfortable shoes.  Those shoes may have shouted tourist but then again so too did my camera and my language.

The palace and gardens at Versailles are beyond opulent by any standards.  It's really no wonder why the people stormed the palace.  They couldn't even afford to buy bread.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I had definite plans for Saturday. After my morning coffee, I was going to put the dogs in the car and take them to the dog park for a long stretch of outdoor exploring and running around. I was going to do take Cheyenne to the vet to get her nails clipped, do some laundry and run some necessary errands. I was going to have dinner with a dear friend who I haven't seen in a while. 

But as soon as I walked downstairs and opened Dixie's crate, all those plans evaporated. She hobbled out of her crate on three legs, not letting her back left leg touch the ground. I gently rubbed my hands on her leg to see where the problem was and she flinched and whimpered.

I made a cup of coffee and dialed her vet. They said to bring her in as soon as possible.  I set the cup of coffee on the kitchen counter, changed out of my pajamas, brushed my teeth, collared Dixie and off we went.  Dixie was in such discomfort that she whimpered much of the drive.

When the vet examined her, she felt around her leg and toes, specifically looking for a broken bone, and Dix seemed uncomfortable but for the most part was okay.  But when the vet rubbed on her hips, Dixie yelped. When she pulled her right leg back, she yelped again. The vet looked at me and said, that's not even the leg that's hurting her. I need to take some xrays to see what is going on.

Poor Dixie was so uncomfortable and stressed. The vet said they were going to sedate her for the xrays and also get some pain medicine in her. They sent me on my way and told me to come back later that afternoon.

I didn't expect what the vet reported to me.  At ten and a half months old, Dixie has severe hip dysplasia. The vet said it was the worst case she's seen in ten years.  She had to pop Dixie's femoral head back into the socket but the socket is extremely degraded, as you can see in the xray image. That top socket should be shaped like a "C" and not an opening parentheses (. 

I have a referral to the Surgery and Orthopedics department at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, which is a wonderful veterinary medical center here in Houston. They worked their magic on Cheyenne's throat earlier this year and I cannot say enough good things about the veterinarians and surgeons there.  However, they are very expensive.  Where Cheyenne's laryngeal paralysis was covered by her insurance, the insurance company won't cover Dixie's diagnosis or treatement because the issue is hereditary. (Yes, I have written her breeders to let them know about the issue.)  There are several surgical options and I'm not sure which will be best for Dixie or how much that will cost.  I'll soon learn though.

Right now, Dixie is on anti-inflammatories and pain medicine. She is acting completely normal and it is difficult to keep her from running around as usual because with her femoral head popped back in place, and the pain pills, she feels no pain or physical impairment at all. 

Keep her in your thoughts, please.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Le Musee du Louvre

Last week, when we arrived in Paris, we checked in at the hotel, dumped our bags in the room and went straight to The Louvre. Have you ever known someone who was so beautiful inside and out that you were never quite sure where to put your focus? The Louvre is like that.  I didn't expect to be as in awe of the buildings as I was the paintings and sculptures. The largest museum in the world, its beginning was as a fortress built to defend the Seine against the Normans and English in the 13th century. It is humbling just to walk its floors, and it is tempting to get lost in the beauty of the curves and lines of the stone walls and elegant stairways and archways leading you from one room to another. But then, then you glance around at the paintings hanging there and the statues and you see how perfect it all is, how history embraces history and sometimes stands back to allow the grace and glory of the partnership.


Venus de Milo


Psyche and Cupid


Needs no introduction


A portion of The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I


The Winged Victory of Samothrace


We spent six hours there. Six hours that went by in a flash.  Not enough to make any real familiarity with the Louvre, but it was a darn good start.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

La Tour Eiffel

In the morning fog.


By the light of a full moon.


Champagne bar at the top.


View from the top.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

So close, and yet

Tonight is the last night of my vacation. To the word, it has been wonderful. And oftentimes amusing. Take, for instance, this photo.  After we walked out of the train station in Versailles, and across the street to purchase our tickets to tour the Palace and gardens, we sat down on a bench to view the map and decide on our starting point.  I glanced up and saw this restaurant. For a brief moment I had absolutely no idea where I was.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Down memory lane

I used to work in this building. Top floor, Marketing department. A lot of work took place there, and a whole lot of fun.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Heading north

Gaye and I packed up our stuff Monday morning and loaded it all into her car and headed north on the wrong side of the road with her in the driver's seat on the wrong side of the car.  I am never quite comfortable being driven around this country because normally in the seat I'm sitting, I have control.  Also? The road signs may be in a language I recognize but they make no sense at all to me.  For instance, I am used to signs that say, Yield, whereas here they say, Let by.  Okay, makes sense when you think about it but still, what's wrong with yield?  Also? Stoplights go from red to yellow to green. I would not last five minutes behind the wheel over here.

On the way, we decided to stop in Winchester to visit the Winchester Cathedral. Through my mind rolled the Crosby, Stills and Nash song, Cathedral... I'm flying in Winchester cathedral, Sunlight pouring through the break of day.


It all began for the Cathedral in 635. I hate to sweep over so much history in so few words but a lot has happened since then. (Look at me with my broom!)



There are many, many people buried in the Cathedral. As you walk through the nave you are literally walking over the gravestones and graves of Bishops and Patron Saints and others connected to the church in ways I do not know. The stones are etched with brief obituaries. One that moved me to tears was inscriped with these words:  Here lies the perishable remains of Anne Poulter, who after five years of intense suffering, during which she retained undiminished the fortitude, benevolance, the ardent affections so pre-eminently remarkable in her character, died on the second day of December 1821 to the unbearable grief of the person who placed this stone.


The most recognizable name, or only recognizable name actually, was Jane Austen who was buried beneath the floor of the Cathedral in 1817. How humbling to stand before her stone. The inscription on her gravestone records her personal virtues and stoicism, but oddly no mention is made of her writing. In 1870, her nephew Edward wrote a memorial to his aunt, and used the proceeds to erect a brass plaque on the wall next to her grave. The inscription begins: Jane Austen, known to many by her writings…


Her grave is just before the plaque.


After we left the Cathedral we visited the Winchester Castle's Great Hall which is apparently the finest of the 13th century halls of medieval England. In that hall hangs the mysterious round table of the Once and Future King, Arthur.  If ever a story entered my heart and moved in to stay, it is that of Camelot.


The table top is enormous, 18 feet in diameter and weighing 2,600 pounds.  I learned that the first written accounts of the Arthurian story appeared in 1130 in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, which maintains that Merlin had the 15-year-old Arthur crowned at nearby Silchester.

The first mention of the Round Table is Robert Wace's Roman de Brut (1155), which says that Arthur seated his knights at a round table so that all should be equal. In Thomas Malory's Morte D'Arthur, the table is a wedding gift to Arthur from Guinevere's father, Leodegrance.

So much history, so much legend and myth.  I thought I could smell Jane Austen's perfume, hear King Arthur's voice, feel the steps of those walking before me.  It was a pretty awesome and worthwhile stop over.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Take a walk with me

Each time I've flown over the UK, I've looked out the plane window down at the English countryside and admired the order of the wood and stone fences, the lush green fields and pastures, the dots of villages. Whenever I've been here before it's been driven by work, which kept me in London, with a few side trips but nothing of any real length, but this trip is pure vacation and that has given me the opportunity to be out of the city. The friend I am visiting was my boss for a while at my old job.  She was layed off shortly after I was.  Her new job is located off the coast of Southern England, in Poole, Dorset, and so she kept her house in London and rented here.  On Saturday, I got my first true hands-on taste of the English countryside and coast.



Corfe Castle is just beyod these grazing sheep. The castle was built over 1,000 years ago.  Though a mere dot in this photo, it is absolutely enormous. Crumbling but still stately. The wind seems lonely at the castle, full of secrets and sorrow.


We drove through the countryside to Worth Matravers, in Purbecks, parked the car and set out for what I thought would be a little stroll but soon realized was a lengthy hike.


Yes, I did walk across all that green.  It is part of the National Trust, which is preserved and open to the public.


We walked down hills, through pastures, around villages, up hills, across a retired quarry where the stones that built St. Paul's Cathedral are from, up more hills, down more hills and right up to the sheer cliffs on the edge of the country.  This area is known as the Jurassic Coast and is a Geologist's playground with rocks dating 65 million years. For me though it was simply breathless.  And not just because I had walked the bottoms of my feet off to get there.




Tread softly, breathe deeply.


Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Oh, hello

This was taken yesterday afternoon, after a fantastic lunch of roasted vegetables and a bit of champagne at the Jazz Cafe.  The cafe is right on the beach but there was too much fog to actually see the water.  Still, it was lovely and moody and perfect to sit in the cafe by a warm fire and watch the chilly fog blow past the windows.


This morning, however, the fog was gone and the sun was shining.  I was actually able to see where I was.  The picture below was taken from the balcony of my friend's flat.  A lovely view, don't you think? 


Friday, March 02, 2012

In a different place

When I was waiting to board my flight to London, I naturally stood where I was told to stand, or at least didn't shove myself into the completely unorganized  line that should never have been forming because there were 40 people ahead of us who expected to walk the red carpet red door mat to their first class highly overpaid seats. While I was taking my position in life line, I noticed something, something that has bugged me, really bugged me for, well, I'm jet lagged and have no idea in real time how long this has bugged me but trust me on this one, I'm bothered. What I noticed was that there were some seriously under dressed riff raff characters in the first class line.  Why don't people dress appropriately?  Seriously, I don't think that first class seats on long haul flights dictate black tie and tails but nor do I accept frayed beach shorts and sandals. I thought of what my mother would say, she of the generation who frowned upon women wearing diamonds before sundown, and I smiled because that woman, she taught me a lot and one of the thing she taught me was to dress appropriately when in public.  Period.

And then I thought, whatever, because I needed to let it go so I could fall asleep.

Anyway, here's a map of where I am.  Poole.  I can't figure out how to draw a circle around my specific location but if you stand at the top of the map, in the middle, and look south, your view is my own.  But, you know, mine is in real life and 3D and oh my gosh the fog, I can't see two feet in front of my face.