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Monday, December 04, 2023
Monday, November 27, 2023
We left our Paris apartment at 5 am Monday morning and flew on Easy Jet to Belfast. The flight was very nice - only half full - about 90 minutes. We each had 3 seats to ourselves - and stretched out to sleep. The cab to and from the airport cost more than the ticket - $99 round trip.
We were in our Fitzwilliams Hotel by about 9 am - we did go back one time zone. They let us right into the room early. It is a very nice hotel - right downtown in all the action. We had a very hearty lunch at The Harlem - what they think an American pub would be like. It was old old - the food good - a little too hearty for me.
Temp is only in the 40s - what does one expect for Europe in November! Sky was clear - but a little blustery. City Hall has a big museum on the main floor - we spent over and hour touring that. No charge. Then we did the Christmas Village Shopping which is right around the city hall. We didn’t buy anything but that does not stop Nancy. We are back in our hotel resting up for a second run.
Tomorrow we are taking the train to Londonderry/Derry. It is on the other side of the country facing Ireland directly. This is where much of the Catholic/Protestant feud went on for 30 years. They are in a truce now called the Agreement for 20 years. Still Catholics and Protestants - do not mix a whole lot. Catholics are generally working class - Protestants were/are management - just like back home in the Coal Regions. Protestants go to public schools - 95% of Catholics still go to Sister Schools. They call it voluntary apartheid.
We will take a black cab tour of Derry (Catholics call it Derry - Protestants call it Londonderry) the Netflix series - Derry Girls was filmed here. It is about 5 kids going to sister school in Derry - during The Troubles. They would sneak out and date Protestant boys. It reminds me of the school in Tamaqua in the 50s and 60s. I went to the public school in town and across the street was Saint Jerome’s School. For those 6 years - I never went into the sister school - but I had a lot of friends that went there - and we played together after 3 pm - until the street lights came on. I was on Lehigh Street - next to us was Gay Street - that was full of kids that went to Saint Jerome’s school.
We will be here until Thursday - and all we brought is a backpack. That includes Nancy’s computer. She has classes Wednesday night from 6 to 10 - but it will be 11pm to 3 am here. She teaches on the computer - live! She has her work cut out for her.
Belfast’s where the Titanic was built - it was the biggest shipyard in the world then. The shipyard is there and there is a big Titanic Museum - we will attend - probably Wednesday or Thursday. 5 pm Thursday we fly back to Paris. Se have 3 days in Paris - then 5 days in London - then we fly home from there. Dec 7. I like that we fly home all during the day. I cannot sleep on day seats - I wear a CPAP machine to sleep - and I do not want to look like I am a lung cancer patient! So in daytime - I can stay up. I have lost a little weight - and it helps my boney butt form not getting sore.
The flight from Atlanta to Paris was full every seat. The seats were packed pretty tight. I envy those folks that travel in business class with beds. Our buddy Joan does that.
We have no other long trips scheduled until spring. But that can change quickly.
On Sunday I enjoyed the Paris Auto Auction. They auction off a beautiful 1990 Citroen 2CV - the car I covet. Lulu said I could bid - but I got cold feet. When I was young I wanted stuff so badly - but could not afford it. Not that I am 75 - I can afford it - but I do not need to own it. The only thing I have kept 52 years is Lulu. It is hard to find things in our home we have near that long. The car of my dreams was auctioned off for 18,500 euros. Some cars went for over $1 million. Many were in the $100,000 range. Some bike lots went for under $1000. It would have cost me $3000 for shipping and taxes to get it home. The car was 33 years old - one family owner - garage kept - only 17,000 miles - recent restore and paint. But you really must check - all bids finals - no refunds - there was a period when they would start it up for you. I visited the car 2 days earlier. It was just a short 2 euro bus ride from Keith’s apartment.
On Sunday - the Everhart 6 - took the TGV train to Strasbourg. They have the biggest xmas shopping village in Europe. Lulu loved it. It was cold for me. The kids functioned the day - 12 hours - walking - no strollers - no carrying. The train was 300 miles each way - 2 hours each way - very fast - very smooth. That is the way to go in Europe. Last year for xmas we came over - and spent a week in Malaga - south of Spain. It was much warmer than Belfast. :-)
We check our home a pool by camera every day. Everything looks good. We had rain today in Tallahassee. The pools full to the brim. The cover stays on - filter is on - heat is off. It looks good.
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
|The main reading room of the |
French National Library
Where is the library? I studied French for 2 years in high school. Then to get my teaching certificate - I tried again for 4 years at Kutztown State College. I was a horrible student. All I learned to say was - where is the library.
Yesterday Lulu and I visited BNF - Bibliotek National Francais. Think Library of Congress - but all the books are written in French. What a lovely building and contents. We even had lunch there. There is a separate museum upstairs for 10 euros - but I encourage everyone to just come to enjoy the library downstairs for free.
|Some ceilings in the library museum|
|The library catalogs more |
|Every seat was filled - |
many just using internet
|Outside we have palm trees -|
at 49 degrees north latitude.
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
|Pictured owned by Francis Otterbein|
This is what my Dad's hometown of Seek looks like today. He lived there from 1916 to 1941. His house is long gone - it burned down. It was where that sidewalk is on the right. There is a two car garage there now.
They were called patch towns. The mining company would built basic frame homes and rent them to the miners - taking the rent out of their pay. My grandmother Bertha Hontz lived there alone with 4 small kids. She made ends meet doing piece work at home. The kids would help. She later took a job with the Atlas Powder Company - making dynamite.
My Dad's Number 8 Mine was about 1 mile down the road. His high school was up on the hill. He eventually moved to Tamaqua - about 3 miles away - but he remained loyal to Coaldale High School. He had a high school class reunion every year - and never missed it. He died at 66 of black lung - miner's asthma. He almost made his 50th class reunion.
Wednesday, October 04, 2023
|Wybot pool robot vacuum|
My apologies for not being up to date on my web page. People asked if I am sick - I am not - just busy.
This robot has a battery - you plug it in for 2 hours - then it cleans the pool for 2 hours. It even climbs the side walls and cleans the border perimeter. It climbs steps too.
You can control it with your iPhone - it has wifi. It has a 2 year warranty - it was $500. It is sorta like a Roomba but for in the water.
Yes - we built a pool in the yard. A big story is coming when it is done.
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Friday, August 25, 2023
The space between the wall and the tent will be concrete pool deck.
Bill got about half of the wall done today - the rest will be done Monday.
Each step is closer to the pool being done.
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
|Pool site is a mess and OCD untidy.|
|Will weaving the rebar|
|Henry the hammer|
|Steel rebar for wall|
|The filter is in the garage far away|
|Clay soil is really messy|
|Steps in southeast corner|
|This is the west retaining wall|
|The retaining wall footer has steel in it|
|The tent keeps them cool here in Florida|
|Henry and Bill lay the tiles|
|Lulu chose these Tamaqua Blue tiles|
|The steps are poured concrete|
Saturday, August 05, 2023
|Rounding the bottom corners|
|This is where the steps will be|
|Lots of mixing mud|
The pool is moving along slowly but surely. We dodge weather problems and labor problems. It is hard to line up things depending on others.
Thursday - they scruff coated the walls. This will give the marcite finish something to grab onto.
Friday - they rounded off the corners between the walls and bottom. This will make it nice and smooth for the wireless vacuum to climb around. It also eliminates corners for dirt to gather.
Next - they will do a stucco coat on the floor - again giving the marcite some teeth to stick on.
Sunday - we are doing trenching and laying pipes from the pool to the garage. We are also trenching and putting a new 100 amp power line from the meter to the garage. This will provide plenty of power for the pool heat pump - pool water pump - the salter - and our electric car.
Next - we must dig and contour the land for the pool deck and drainage. The pool deck will slant away from the pool on all 4 sides. Rain water will run away from the pool - not into the swim water.
Finally - they will trowel on the marcite plaster. Along the perimeter will be blue tile - on top of the walls will be a travertine coping with round nose.
Tuesday, August 01, 2023
|Margot Robbie as Barbie|
We went to two movie openings in 24 hours. First there was Oppenheimer. Then came Barbie. I knew Lulu had the Barbie dolls as a kid. She let them behind when she eloped - never to see them again. I guess it is a lost innocence. So I asked her if she wanted to see the movie. Our rears were still sore from sitting thru Oppenheimer the night before. But Lulu is never a girl to pass up an opportunity - you Never know where it will lead.
We chose a theater that has the red leather recliners. We arrived at 3 PM for the opening - and we were the only ones there. In the next 15 minutes many more came - but not the sellout I expected.
Barbie is a dress up doll that started in the 50s. It is made by Mattel Toy Company. Disney owns the movie rights. It starts out as just one stacked blonde - but today they branched out to all races and professions - they even made a couple boy dolls.
Lulu seemed to enjoy it - she laughed at many things that went over my head. The famous Barbie house and cars were blended into the plot. I guess it is some sort of cult and I am on the outside looking in - but it was fun seeing the joy and remembrance that Lulu had from those days playing with her friends and cousins.
There was a ghost appearance of Ruth Handler - the inventor of Barbie. She died in 2002. Will Farrell was the president of Mattel. Barbie was played by Margot Robbie - the Australian that played Tonya Harding in the movie.
At the end - Barbie has a sorta "Sandra Dee" moment - that brought a big laugh. I will leave that to you to experience. This is a nice movie for all ages - mostly girls.
Monday, July 31, 2023
We have a beautiful blue sky Monday morning. After torrential rain yesterday - that delayed Lulu's trip to London - Bill is removing the wooden forms that shaped our pool.
There is a lot left to do - but this really looks like progress. The tent is designed to keep the workers out of the "global warming" sun. It also protected the pool from the rain.
The next steps -
- forming and pouring the pool deck
- installing the pumps and filter in the garage
- connecting the pool to the filter
- running the new power line to the garage
- running the gas line to the fire pit
- and finally plastering the entire inside of the pool with an inch of Marcite plaster
Lulu will be gone for 18 days - which means I am the boss. Bill just called me a "free range chicken."