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This was the first what I would call "normal" day... and I spent much of it dreading the next day and the Alta del Perdon, no matter how much I told myself "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I had two things I wanted to do, to see Pamplona Cathedral and to go to Mass in St. Fermin. The last I chickened out of, which is another regret from the Camino. If I were to go back, I'd chance going out at night. For one thing, it wasnt dark! That part of Spain is north of Sacramento, and so days were longer, at least till the equinox.

OK, it is tinnitis, the roaring in my ears. I wondered if it was my local traffic or something in the house making the noise, but I figured I'd learn that for sure in Spain.

Everything hurt when I woke at 0150, and I had a nosebleed. (I'm just glad it didn't happen on the planes!) I remembered that I'd packed Ibuprofen and took one, which helped me get back to sleep. There was thunder at 0520!  Breakfast wasn't until 8. Also, (still new to the system) I was surprised about having to pay for dinner last night.  I chatted with the host and told him how much I liked the place, had they refurbished it themselves? Yes, and it was a lot of work.  I found, along the Way, that I really liked the Casas Rurales like this. You can see the people had planned for years and had worked hard for their hostels, and they were very proud of them.

It was raining. I tried out my new rain system, with the poncho wrapped around the stuff in the backpack, and the raincoat pockets protecting sensitive stuff. I refined this a bit, but I had the main bits down. I started off and was busy tinkering with zippers and things and almost got lost, starting down the road when I heard a shout behind me.. "CAMINO!" This guy was pointing to the left. Oops.

I actually passed someone along the path, which hardly ever happened, especially at the start of the trip.  Then I stopped at a cafe in Zurain (still hadn't figured out the coffee, unfortunately). I noticed a charging cord left in an outlet. The guy I passed sat at my table and we chatted some. When he mentioned his CPAP I said "are you Rene?" (who I "knew" from the Facebook Camino page) and he was! (He had told me his name, but I didn't hear it properly.)

La Parada de Zuriain

Rene Gamache

I continued on after about 20 minutes, and passed the first of many memorials for a pilgrim who died along the way. Then I took a steep turn to Zabaldika (so much for the geocache, it was on the lower road.) I stopped at the church and forgot to leave a donation. Argh. A nice Sister of the Sacred Heart showed me the church and stamped my credential, and let me leave a post-it prayer at the crucifix.

Fin de Camino

Zabaldika

Iglesia de San Esteban, Zabaldika

Post-it Notes

Back to the main trail, and there was a guy in the woods selling stuff. I bought a banana and a bottle of water (which I can use for my wine at the wine fountain.)

It wasn't too far from there to the scenic turnoff along the river to Pamplona, but I wasn't sure that's where I was, so I crossed the Puente de Arre and continued along the main road. (If I had looked at the guidebook, I'd have known better.) This gets into a number of suburbs, cars, sidewalks. At one point I was walking along a straight sidewalk, and hadn't seen a camino sign for a couple of blocks. Panic! (There hadn't been a turnoff, but I needed my security blanket.) So I spied a woman and asked "¿Camino?" and she assured me I was OK. After awhile, the signs appeared again, and then I saw Pamplona Cathedral.

Yeah, missed my chance.

Bicigrino Crossing

Fountain

Camino Sign

Pamplona Cathedral

It was still a long way. I sat at the Puente de Magdalena, and ate my banana, and used one of my doggie bags for the trash till I found a garbage can.  Then over the bridge and through the pilgrim's gate (I don't know what the red paint was for, probably a protest of some sort) and to the Cathedral. The square in front of it reminded me of Rheims, for some reason. The gentlemen in suits are likely there for a wedding... I saw bits of at least four today. Fortunately, however, the Cathedral was open.

Puente de la Magdalena

Pilgrim"s Gate

Cathedral de Santa Maria de Real

I paid the fee (cheaper for pilgrims) and wandered around in the cathedral taking pictures of altars and statues and windows.  Carlos III and Leonara de Trastamara, monarchs of Navarre, are buried here in a very ornate tomb. The choir stairs are beautiful.  And I always love cloisters.

Carlos III and Leonara de Trastamara

Choir Stairs

Cloisters

When I left I took care to get on the proper street. It's a long, mostly straight street to the other side (west) of the old city where I was to turn to get to my hotel. I passed a pediluvium, a foot-washing store. I could have used it later in the walk, but never saw another. I passed City Hall. Down the street, a mime tried to stop me, but I walked around him.  Then, as I was opposite San Saturnino, the street was packed waiting for the newlyweds to emerge. And on I went to a right turn down a narrow street to the hotel.

Pediluvium

You Are Not in Spain or France

Pamplona Street

Casa Consistoriale

Wedding Car

I Wish them Well.

When I got to the hotel, there was a sour old woman behind the desk and she made me wait until her son(?) who spoke some English, was able to tell me where my room was. I came downstairs at one point to see if I'd left my pole in the lobby, and she couldn't help me. I found it in the room when I went back up.

After my shower I went exploring in the area. I'd have stopped in San Fermin except they  were having a wedding, and the Convento Recoletas, on the same side of the street as the hotel, about a block away, was also having a wedding.  Instead of throwing rice (or bubbles, or whatever) they set off firecrackers.  I wandered out on the overlook, and over the road, and into a big park.  Very nice.  Then back to the room, and when I looked out at the alley/street the hotel is on, I felt dubious about going out to Mass. As I said above, however, I could have... it was light until about 9 and also the street is well-lit.  I have a number of regrets about my trip, and this is one.

San Fermin Church.

Leftover from a Wedding
Bridge over the Road
View from my Room

I went to a small cafe and ordered a tortilla con jambon (ham) and this is where I discovered how special the tortilla two days ago was.  Back in my room (I didn't take a picture!) I discovered a blister on my bunion. Eek!

-----
My FB post:
Pamplona: 10.3 miles in about 6 hours. I started the day with a nosebleed, then forgot to take the second Ibuprofen I'd put out to get me through the day. I nearly got lost first thing, but someone called me back. I actually passed someone, and found out later it was Rene Gamache, who has been posting on the Septmber Camino forum, and who has a friend (relative?) who knows Vince, Bernadette, and Karen. I took a detour to go to the church at Zabaldika which is lovely. I saw the option for the riverside walk into Pamplona, but wasn't sure that was what it was, so I went into the city of Burlada and the Calle Mayor. At one spot I had gone about a quarter mile without seeing any arrows, and asked a passing lady "Camino?" And I was OK, and shortly after that it was well marked. I had bought a banana and some water from a vendor in the hills. About 1:30 I realized I was starving so had the banana and a trail mix bar, outside the city walls of Pamplona.
I took another detour and toured the cathedral, then finally got here to the Hotel Eslava. The first picture is a view from my window, then down the street towards the church where I will probably go tonight, if I get up the courage to go out at night, and the third picture is along the city walls where the road goes through.
It rained most of the day, but this time I figured out how to protect everything and still live. The Gore-tex jacket has deep pockets for my GPS and my camera, and when I zip it up it can fit over my waist pack. I put the iPad and journal into a plastic bag and then covered it with the poncho instead of wearing the poncho. The one problem was my neck pouch, with my passport, pilgrim's passport, credit cards, medical cards, and most of my money...Thursday I had had it covered with the poncho but it got a bit wet and my first pilgrim stamp got a little blurred. So I thought I'd wear it under my shirt, but then realized I'd sweat it wet. However, it fits fine, and deep, in the zip up jacket pocket, and came out fine and dry.
Tomorrow should be dry, maybe, but it's over 15 miles and a high pass, so I'm a bit nervous about it.
This was the first what I would call "normal" day... and I spent much of it dreading the next day and the Alta del Perdon, no matter how much I told myself "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I had two things I wanted to do, to see Pamplona Cathedral and to go to Mass in St. Fermin. The last I chickened out of, which is another regret from the Camino. If I were to go back, I'd chance going out at night. For one thing, it wasnt dark! That part of Spain is north of Sacramento, and so days were longer, at least till the equinox.

OK, it is tinnitis, the roaring in my ears. I wondered if it was my local traffic or something in the house making the noise, but I figured I'd learn that for sure in Spain.

Everything hurt when I woke at 0150, and I had a nosebleed. (I'm just glad it didn't happen on the planes!) I remembered that I'd packed Ibuprofen and took one, which helped me get back to sleep. There was thunder at 0520!  Breakfast wasn't until 8. Also, (still new to the system) I was surprised about having to pay for dinner last night.  I chatted with the host and told him how much I liked the place, had they refurbished it themselves? Yes, and it was a lot of work.  I found, along the Way, that I really liked the Casas Rurales like this. You can see the people had planned for years and had worked hard for their hostels, and they were very proud of them.

It was raining. I tried out my new rain system, with the poncho wrapped around the stuff in the backpack, and the raincoat pockets protecting sensitive stuff. I refined this a bit, but I had the main bits down. I started off and was busy tinkering with zippers and things and almost got lost, starting down the road when I heard a shout behind me.. "CAMINO!" This guy was pointing to the left. Oops.

I actually passed someone along the path, which hardly ever happened, especially at the start of the trip.  Then I stopped at a cafe in Zurain (still hadn't figured out the coffee, unfortunately). I noticed a charging cord left in an outlet. The guy I passed sat at my table and we chatted some. When he mentioned his CPAP I said "are you Rene?" (who I "knew" from the Facebook Camino page) and he was! (He had told me his name, but I didn't hear it properly.)

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22529417515/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="La Parada de Zuriain"><img src="https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5810/22529417515_36e61270e7_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="La Parada de Zuriain"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22533188935/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Rene Gamache"><img src="https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5647/22533188935_72514157c9_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Rene Gamache"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I continued on after about 20 minutes, and passed the first of many memorials for a pilgrim who died along the way. Then I took a steep turn to Zabaldika (so much for the geocache, it was on the lower road.) I stopped at the church and forgot to leave a donation. Argh. A nice Sister of the Sacred Heart showed me the church and stamped my credential, and let me leave a post-it prayer at the crucifix.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22345139980/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Fin de Camino"><img src="https://c5.staticflickr.com/1/716/22345139980_782041803d_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Fin de Camino"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22345345348/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Zabaldika"><img src="https://c5.staticflickr.com/1/609/22345345348_ebe018129d_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Zabaldika"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22533046445/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Iglesia de San Esteban, Zabaldika"><img src="https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5767/22533046445_8e1f6826cb_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Iglesia de San Esteban, Zabaldika"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22345273638/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Post-it Notes"><img src="https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/771/22345273638_fd13623ed1_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Post-it Notes"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Back to the main trail, and there was a guy in the woods selling stuff. I bought a banana and a bottle of water (which I can use for my wine at the wine fountain.)

It wasn't too far from there to the scenic turnoff along the river to Pamplona, but I wasn't sure that's where I was, so I crossed the Puente de Arre and continued along the main road. (If I had looked at the guidebook, I'd have known better.) This gets into a number of suburbs, cars, sidewalks. At one point I was walking along a straight sidewalk, and hadn't seen a camino sign for a couple of blocks. Panic! (There hadn't been a turnoff, but I needed my security blanket.) So I spied a woman and asked "¿Camino?" and she assured me I was OK. After awhile, the signs appeared again, and then I saw Pamplona Cathedral.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22544009021/in/album-72157660394546022/" title="Yeah, missed my chance."><img src="https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5789/22544009021_41460fd3e9_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Yeah, missed my chance."></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21910053994/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Bicigrino Crossing"><img src="https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5673/21910053994_691d721e43_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Bicigrino Crossing"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21910012304/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Fountain"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5835/21910012304_68e9e504d5_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Fountain"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22519197602/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Camino Sign"><img src="https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5727/22519197602_863bed0207_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Camino Sign"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21909947354/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Pamplona Cathedral"><img src="https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5653/21909947354_bb5f1e1c84_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Pamplona Cathedral"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

It was still a long way. I sat at the Puente de Magdalena, and ate my banana, and used one of my doggie bags for the trash till I found a garbage can.  Then over the bridge and through the pilgrim's gate (I don't know what the red paint was for, probably a protest of some sort) and to the Cathedral. The square in front of it reminded me of Rheims, for some reason. The gentlemen in suits are likely there for a wedding... I saw bits of at least four today. Fortunately, however, the Cathedral was open.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21909925814/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Puente de la Magdalena"><img src="https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/580/21909925814_7a9d8b7d0d_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Puente de la Magdalena"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22506582136/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Pilgrim&#x27;s Gate"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5639/22506582136_9cd92001d2_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Pilgrim&#x27;s Gate"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22518990512/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Cathedral de Santa Maria de Real"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5648/22518990512_f6dfca2ce2_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Cathedral de Santa Maria de Real"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I paid the fee (cheaper for pilgrims) and wandered around in the cathedral taking pictures of altars and statues and windows.  Carlos III and Leonara de Trastamara, monarchs of Navarre, are buried here in a very ornate tomb. The choir stairs are beautiful.  And I always love cloisters.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22344670268/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Carlos III and Leonara de Trastamara"><img src="https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5651/22344670268_684af9c141_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Carlos III and Leonara de Trastamara"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22345312219/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Choir Stairs"><img src="https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5657/22345312219_85d864ca11_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Choir Stairs"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22344416198/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Cloisters"><img src="https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/679/22344416198_4265c1b268_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Cloisters"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

When I left I took care to get on the proper street. It's a long, mostly straight street to the other side (west) of the old city where I was to turn to get to my hotel. I passed a pediluvium, a foot-washing store. I could have used it later in the walk, but never saw another. I passed City Hall. Down the street, a mime tried to stop me, but I walked around him.  Then, as I was opposite San Saturnino, the street was packed waiting for the newlyweds to emerge. And on I went to a right turn down a narrow street to the hotel.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21909771914/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Pediluvium"><img src="https://c3.staticflickr.com/1/643/21909771914_bb37dee743_n.jpg" width="240" height="320" alt="Pediluvium"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22344040310/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="You Are Not in Spain or France"><img src="https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5755/22344040310_e010825202_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="You Are Not in Spain or France"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21910781153/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Pamplona Street"><img src="https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/606/21910781153_5e9a2763bc_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Pamplona Street"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/21909220504/in/album-72157670096045734/lightbox/" title="Casa Consistoriale"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/681/21909220504_f7b409527e_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Casa Consistoriale"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22531957495/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Wedding Car"><img src="https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/764/22531957495_0e1e19f8a7_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Wedding Car"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22543063421/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="I Wish them Well."><img src="https://c6.staticflickr.com/1/602/22543063421_15c2044840_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="I Wish them Well."></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

When I got to the hotel, there was a sour old woman behind the desk and she made me wait until her son(?) who spoke some English, was able to tell me where my room was. I came downstairs at one point to see if I'd left my pole in the lobby, and she couldn't help me. I found it in the room when I went back up.

After my shower I went exploring in the area. I'd have stopped in San Fermin except they  were having a wedding, and the Convento Recoletas, on the same side of the street as the hotel, about a block away, was also having a wedding.  Instead of throwing rice (or bubbles, or whatever) they set off firecrackers.  I wandered out on the overlook, and over the road, and into a big park.  Very nice.  Then back to the room, and when I looked out at the alley/street the hotel is on, I felt dubious about going out to Mass. As I said above, however, I could have... it was light until about 9 and also the street is well-lit.  I have a number of regrets about my trip, and this is one.

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22505868606/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="San Fermin Church."><img src="https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/765/22505868606_b0c851d081_n.jpg" width="240" height="320" alt="San Fermin Church."></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22344093088/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Leftover from a Wedding"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5777/22344093088_6a4e11a2ff_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Leftover from a Wedding"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22531767205/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="Bridge over the Road"><img src="https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5809/22531767205_cf7231eac6_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="Bridge over the Road"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true"  href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fossilfreak/22305388979/in/album-72157670096045734/" title="View from my Room"><img src="https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/777/22305388979_a6896cd08d_n.jpg" width="320" height="240" alt="View from my Room"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I went to a small cafe and ordered a tortilla con jambon (ham) and this is where I discovered how special the tortilla two days ago was.  Back in my room (I didn't take a picture!) I discovered a blister on my bunion. Eek!

-----
My FB post:
Pamplona: 10.3 miles in about 6 hours. I started the day with a nosebleed, then forgot to take the second Ibuprofen I'd put out to get me through the day. I nearly got lost first thing, but someone called me back. I actually passed someone, and found out later it was Rene Gamache, who has been posting on the Septmber Camino forum, and who has a friend (relative?) who knows Vince, Bernadette, and Karen. I took a detour to go to the church at Zabaldika which is lovely. I saw the option for the riverside walk into Pamplona, but wasn't sure that was what it was, so I went into the city of Burlada and the Calle Mayor. At one spot I had gone about a quarter mile without seeing any arrows, and asked a passing lady "Camino?" And I was OK, and shortly after that it was well marked. I had bought a banana and some water from a vendor in the hills. About 1:30 I realized I was starving so had the banana and a trail mix bar, outside the city walls of Pamplona.
I took another detour and toured the cathedral, then finally got here to the Hotel Eslava. The first picture is a view from my window, then down the street towards the church where I will probably go tonight, if I get up the courage to go out at night, and the third picture is along the city walls where the road goes through.
It rained most of the day, but this time I figured out how to protect everything and still live. The Gore-tex jacket has deep pockets for my GPS and my camera, and when I zip it up it can fit over my waist pack. I put the iPad and journal into a plastic bag and then covered it with the poncho instead of wearing the poncho. The one problem was my neck pouch, with my passport, pilgrim's passport, credit cards, medical cards, and most of my money...Thursday I had had it covered with the poncho but it got a bit wet and my first pilgrim stamp got a little blurred. So I thought I'd wear it under my shirt, but then realized I'd sweat it wet. However, it fits fine, and deep, in the zip up jacket pocket, and came out fine and dry.
Tomorrow should be dry, maybe, but it's over 15 miles and a high pass, so I'm a bit nervous about it.
September 11 was on my mind.

I went to bed at 10:30, then woke up at 12:30 because my feet hurt. I was glad I wasn't staying in an alburgue.  Then I turned over and fell asleep again, and overslept. I woke up at a couple of minutes to 8 and my bag had to be in place at 8, so I quickly threw stuff in (remembering my sandals, thank goodness) and dashed down in my bare feet to drop the bag off.

Bags Ready to Go.

Back in the room, I saw my toiletry box. (pills, toothbrush, etc.)I could take it if I had to, but I was able to stuff it into the bag. In point of fact, the bags were still there when I left to get on the bus. I had picked up two right foot toe socks (toe socks inside the wool socks, which is supposed to cut down on blisters. It came close to working) so I wore one inside out.

790 Kilometers

I had breakfast and went out to the bus stop. It was to come at 9. I saw it across the road, dropping people off, and then he came around to our side. He put my day pack into the storage, took my money, and then we were off. We went through a number of nice little villages.

I do think the 3€ I spent on the bus ride may have saved my Camino. Looking at the map, Zubiri is 13.6 miles on, with some bad climbs and worse downslopes, especially going in to Zubiri. I figured I could walk the 6 kilometers to Akaretta from Zubiri.

I stopped for a coffee (I never did figure out how to get a real coffee. "Cafe Americano" is espresso) at Ogi Berri cafe in Zubiri, which was close to the bus stop. I was surprised by the dollar bills on the wall. I figured to leave the cafe about 10:30 and get into Akaretta about 3. I was really happy on the bus not to be walking... both little toes were hurting.

Ogi Berri Cafe, Zubiri

I wrote in my journal here. That was my plan, which didn't really work out most of the way. I commented that I thought my main problem of the day before was Fear. Fear I'd fall, break something, and not be found until this day.

Puente de Rabida

I left and crossed the River Arga on the Puente de la Rabia, the rabies bridge. The legend is that any animal led around the central arch 3 times would be free of rabies. After I'd taken my picture and was trying to get the iPad back in the bag, I had a terrible hand cramp. I'd never had one before. I had to massage the hand with the other one to get it to move normally.

Calle de Camino de Santiago

Over the Creek

You get out of town on the Calle de Camino de Santiago. It looked like I was going up someone's driveway.

Sign

Shortly outside of Zubiri there's a huge quarry, with lots and lots of "no pedestrians" signs and the Camino very hard to find. A nice truck driver helped me at one point.

After the Quarry

Hooray!

From sheer ugliness, there was a half-mile or so of a lovely road.

Pretty Path Through the Woods

In Illaratz I saw a black cat. What was Spooky doing in Spain? Most of the Spanish cats I saw were small, the size of an adolescent cat, even though they were full grown.

Cat

Then I saw the Abbey. I'd been following its story on Facebook. Neill, from South Africa, and his partner have bought these ruins and fought the locals, in order to restore them one day. I see on this website that they are only open 2 hours a day. I was lucky. (I was also there past 10) He calls the quarry "Mordor."

The Abbey

The Abbey

A Candle for Rich

Neill showed me around. Since the nearby road was built, the foundations of the Abbey need shoring up. He'd been working on the pavement. Inside there's a painting on the wall, from behind where the altar used to be (it probably has pride of place in the mayor's house.) It resembles a door and is, obviously, about the Camino because of the cockle shells. What gives me chills is that in the grid, the little dots are fingerprints. I picture pilgrims dipping their finger in some paint and leaving their mark here as a prayer for a successful pilgrimage.

He let me go through the ruins to light a candle for Rich.  And yes, I got a stamp in my pilgrim's passport.

(addendum in 2016 from the Abbey Facebook page)
This past week we've made a wonderful discovery inside the church. We moved the green altar that stood in the alcove only to discover that it is made from nothing but hardboard and pine. Beneath it though we found what appears to be an old altar or tomb. The heavy stone slab on the top suggests the latter. The sides are decorated with the most amazing green, blue and brown patterns flecked with abstract wavy black lines and what appears to be clenched fists. A German art historian, Silke Petersen that was volunteering at the church dates the painting as circa c 14/15.

From there, I went to Larrasoaña and looked for lunch. Unfortunately, it was siesta time and the cafe had closed. I was asking a man at one end of town, who spoke no English, and nearly got hit by a truck. There were kids playing in the street, singing some popular American song from the 80s... unfortunately, I don't remember what it was.

Larrasoana

In Larrasoana

Light

Mural

As I was entering town, I saw some young people on the bridge who I'd last seen in Biarritz. I saw them a few times more in the first days, but but we lost each other after Puente de la Reina. "How's it for you?" they asked. I didn't tell the truth, that so faar it wasn't living up to the wondrous billing people give it. But talking to Neill was great.

I ignored the vending machines. And so, hungry, to Akaretta to a reconstructed Basque farmhouse.  This is featured in The Way, but I'd forgotten. The couple that own it spent a lot of time and effort fixing it up. I loved it.

I said I hadn't had lunch and the husband bought some bread and cheese for a nice lunch.

Door to the Hotel Akaretta

View From My Room

Lounge

The Rest of the Village

The Dining Room

Then in my room I washed out my shirt and socks. (*tsk*)I knew not to hang them out on the balcony (even before I read the rules) but did hang them on the window, in the sun. I realized I could have looked for a couple of geocaches in Zubiri or Larrasoaña. I also charged a camera battery and my iPad at the same time!

Down in the lounge, waiting for dinner, I found a book on the Camino in Spanish and read quite a bit of it.  It talked about bishops and kings and St. Francis, all on the pilgrimage. I was walking in the footsteps of giants!

Dinner was yummy. (Yes, I do talk about food a lot, why do you ask? My Facebook postings were mostly about food and the bedrooms.) Tim and Linda and (I think) Rose and Ken, also from England, too young to be the grandparents they claim to be, and who walk the Camino every year, were there. Salad, beef stew, mango ice cream and LOTS of wine.

----
On Facebook: 5 miles in under 3 hours, which included time for a nice chat with Neil at The Abbey. I even lit a candle for Rich there.
Because I overslept, I didn't have time to explore Roncevalles, which is too bad. I took the bus to Zubiri, which is where this first picture is. Not only do I look better, there are four US dollars on the wall of this cafe. I saw the puente rabida and started walking. There's one place where they have a quarry and all kinds of "no walkers" signs, but a nice camione driver pointed me in the right direction. Neil says he's just past Mordor.
The second picture is the Puente Rabida. Walk your livestock three times around the central post, which is now an alberge, and they won't get rabies. The third is the view from my window at the Hotel Akarreta, a converted farmhouse, then the chimney outside my door, and the dining room.
That 3Euro I spent on the bus ride likely saved my Camino. I looked at the terrain map for today and there are some significant hills. My feet are better but both little toes are bothered by the toenails pushing into my feet. Zubiri is 11 crow miles from Roncevalles, and I doubt I'd have made it. I'm only 9 miles from Pamplona now.
Oh, rats, I could have looked for a cache in Zubiri, or in Larrasoana, and I certainly had time today, but I forgot to check. Yesterday I was just so desperate to get off that mountain I skipped the one that was only 250 Ft. away. Well, there's a possibility for a Spanish cache tomorrow. And plenty more along the way.
I woke up at 3, and it was raining outside.

I was nervous. I figured I was  going to have a hard time with the poles, even though I'd practiced at Yosemite and Lassen. I kept moving the raincoat (which crushes into a tiny bag) and poncho, and later in the day I spent a lot of time getting these things on and off. I had no idea how to manage. A few days later I had figured it out. Then I just folded my poncho in the day pack over the iPad and journal, wearing the raincoat (in the rain, of course) and tying it around my waist if the rain stopped. I put my passport and pilgrim's passport into a doggie bag and into a raincoat pocket. The camera went into another doggie bag in a pocket. Ditto my GPS. My notebook in my waist pack, in a doggie bag. It was a pain to get at anything, but everything stayed dry. On this day, the 10th, not so much. I started off with the raincoat on, and then it was too HOT.

While I was getting ready, I found the TP and doggy bags. TSA moved a lot, apparently, in my bag. In the event, I never used the TP... most of the Way was too far out in the open, especially without having a companion to keep me covered, so I held on for real bathrooms.

Because of the rain, I decided to take the lower, the "easier",  route through Valcarlos. I read a little about it, but mostly I was winging it. Karlene and Leslie were also going this way, but would be starting later and as they were planning to spend the night there, they would be slower.

Breakfast was at 6:30, so I wouldn't be able to leave until 7:30 or so. All along, I left about that time, except twice when I went out before dawn. It got later as the sunrise was later, and as I got further west, as well, so that at the end I would be leaving between 8 and 8:30.  At breakfast I met Tim and Linda, also with MacsAdventure/TeeTravel.  Tim was concerned because some of the information in the packet indicated he had to attach a certain tag to his luggage and he couldn't see how. They did give us a luggage tag which was on, so I thought this other thing probably didn't matter (and in the end, it didn't.)

Breakfast at Itzalpea

So then I was off. It was so pretty, and I was so excited. I made the turn off the main route and headed to the right, past cows and sheep and pretty flowers.

Route 2.

Beautiful Scenery

Jakobusweg

Flowers

The Road Goes Ever On....

Spain!

There's a big shopping center at the Spanish border. I got a little lost for a second, but then found the signs again. I really was enjoying this. I'd forgotten how much. I was smiling, and sometimes singing. (Hymns, mostly.)

Arneguy

Arneguy

France on the left, Spain on the right. I went back and forth a little. (I'd forgotten these nice bits of the day, since the end of it was so terrible.)

Chestnut Hulls
land sea urchins?

Pumpkin

In Arneguy, there was a cute dog and I bent down to let it sniff my hand, but the owner said "NON!" sharply, so I didn't.

Valcarlos Fuente

Tortilla

Valcarlos is a lovely little town. I found a cafe. I had heard how wonderful the tortillas were, so I ordered one. The woman was confused, did I want a plata? Yes, I guess so. It was a lovely omelet made with butter. Delicious. So ever after that, I was disappointed with the cold fairly tasteless tortillas in the case.  I seem to have had the best luck with food when I hadn't a clue what I was doing.

Still having a good time. I saw some ponies with very short legs. (Rumor has it, they're only good for food. ) I saw the first yellow arrow of the Camino shortly before my pole broke and I turned off the road into the woods.

Camino Sign

Short-Legged Ponies

Yellow Arrow.

Heather

Black Slug

Abandon the Pole

The pole wouldn't stay long (I'd collapsed it for lunch, of course.) They cost enough, they shouldn't have broken. Actually, I could have used the Swiss Army Knife to tighten it, but I didn't realize that for a couple of days. So I abandoned it here with someone's shoes.

It was raining here, so I stopped taking pictures and was miserably trying to keep everything dry and keep from falling myself*, and walking up and up and up and up and up. Hell is walking through a rainstorm, up and up and up and up, and never ever getting to the Ibaneta Pass. Also, I started telling myself "I have trip insurance, I could cancel and get most of my money back..."

*My thought was that if I fell and broke my hip, I was so far behind everyone nobody would find me until the next day.

The pass was not as far as I thought, unless the maps are lying. Almost to the top I saw a guy waiting at a building, who wanted to know if I was OK. "Are you going to make it?" "What choice do I have?" He pointed out the trail was fairly close to the road here. I told him to send help back if I still hadn't gotten there by 6. He didn't.  He was sitting with Linda when I got to dinner.

Finally!

Once I finally finally got to the pass, it was too foggy to see the bird observatory. It was a fairly easy kilometer into Roncevalles (Orreaga.) Total for the day, 16.1 miles. If I were to do this again I would start in Roncevalles and climb back up to the Pass on the day I stayed. A very nice Hospitalero greeted me as I dragged in, and directed me to the hotel (which is the same building, an old monastery, as the albergue.)  There the receptionist was rather brusque, but I didn't care.

My room was far too big for me... I went down to dinner, but didn't have the energy to go to the Pilgrim's Mass, which I was sorry about. I planned to sightsee Roncevalles the next morning, and I also decided I'd never make the Camino unless I took a bus most of the way the next day. I got my sello (which was damp) stamped, got directions for the bus, including how much it costs, got change, and took a shower and went to bed. I did post a picture of exhausted me on Facebook.

Roncevalles

Roncevalles

Tired!

(My Facebook posting for the day)
Roncevalles/Roncevaux/Orreaga (its name in Spanish, French, and Basque) 16.1 miles in a little over 10 hours.
Because it threatened to rain, I decided to go the "easy" route. All was fine in the morning. I started at 7:30 wearing my rain jacket. By 8:45 I took it off, wetter on the inside than the outside, and sunscreened up. Walked and walked, had a few people pass me, and followed the arrows just fine till outside of Valcarlos, where I somehow got lost but found my way into town anyway, and a cafe where I had a cheese tortilla, which is really an omelet, and a beer. I took the first picture in Valcarlos, as I was applying sunscreen again.
See those clouds? About 15 minutes later, when I was a half mile down the road, about 1PM, they started dumping rain. I got the poncho out and the electronics were safe, but impossible to get to. It was a real gullywasher and went on and on. The last time I was that wet, I was swimming. Then, while I was on some nice slippery rocks with some nice jaggedy rocks next to them, one of my hiking poles failed. The lock didn't hold. I would talk to REI about it, but I've already thrown it away.
So, as the rain kept falling (and here's all the nice Pyrenees geology and I can't take pictures) and I'm carefully navigating rock slides, I began to think "I have tour insurance, I could cancel this tour and go home." Very tempting. Later, as I went up and up and up and up, and Ipaneta Pass refused to materialize, I decided I know what Hell is like, it's climbing the Pyrenees in the rain and the fog and never getting to the other side. I was stopping more than I do walking Pharaoh!
A guy from Bellingham had passed me but must have spent some time looking around because I saw him what he said was 1.3 km. from the pass. He looked alarmed... "Are you going to make it?" "I have to, I don't have a choice" "I saw a couple of taxis pass" "hmm" then he went on and I told him to send somebody to get me if I didn't make it in an hour and a half. That's about what it took me, too. Once I did finally stop walking up and up, I was smiling. I didn't get to see anything at the top, though, because of the fog.
Bernadette and Vince, remember the Yosemite Falls hike, add a constant waterfall ( oh it did finally stop) falling on me and remember I'm 28 years older, and you can begin to understand my misery.
It's a nice suite. (On the third floor, though, so I got to schlep my gear too). I'll have a Pilgrim's meal at 8 but I skipped the Mass. I've been to two in the last two days, so I don't feel too bad about it.
And, don't be disappointed in me, Thea, but I may bus most of the way tomorrow. I am in a lot of pain. I should have trained in the hills, but didn't have anyone to go with, and too many fires.

Tags:

"What Was I Thinking?" This was pretty much the theme of my Camino. I'd never heard of The Way until a classmate mentioned he was going in 2013. I looked it up, and thought he was maybe going to walk a couple of days on it. Then Renaissance had a presentation about it last spring, so I went to see what Terry had been talking about. The couple doing the slide show had gone in the spring of 2013, and the very first slide, about the first day, walking over the Pyrenees, featured a white-out of snow. I looked at that and thought "Wow, if I were going to walk 18 miles (it is actually 18 kilometers, but who's counting?) in that, I would turn around and go home, never mind, I'm through." So then I watched the rest of the slide show and suddenly, who knows why, wanted to go. I wrote Terry and learned more about his trip and he recommended "To the Field of Stars" by Father Kevin Codd.

I definitely had the Call. But, fortunately, I had my geriatric cat who I couldn't possibly leave for 6 weeks.  Who then up and died.

I still had the Call, and thought maybe it would be a good thing to go for what would have been our 50th anniversary. I tentatively signed up with a British company, because I thought I would like someone to have my back, to miss me if I didn't turn up where I was expected to. I wanted to have reservations instead of staying in an albergue (hostel) because I really like having a private bathroom and my sleeping has been terrible since Rich died.

But, fingers crossed, I told my doctor my plans halfway hoping she'd tell me "oh, no, you shouldn't go!" Instead she was very enthusiastic. Darn. I guessed I was stuck.

So I painted up a rock to take to leave at the Cruz de Ferro, got hiking poles and shoes, wool socks, toe sock liners, and started walking around the neighborhood, longer and longer walks. Pharaoh's limit was 6 miles, but I sometimes went twice that. I'd start before dawn sometimes. I saw places I hadn't known existed and found streets I'll never walk on again. All the time wondering "what was I thinking??" At the CSUS bookstore I found a small pack to carry my water, iPad, journal, and rain gear, and I practiced with it. (I'd arranged to have my gear carried from place to place.)

So, on September 7 Bernadette was picking me up at 0400 for a 0700 flight. I was equally panicked and excited. In fact, I woke at 0100 and since I was completely packed already, there wasn't much to do. She took me to the airport and as she was getting my big bag out of the car, she handed me a little packet... a rosary, made of amber and dinosaur bone beads, and she'd had it blessed. I did have a rosary with me, but moved it to my night bag while waiting at the airport. Such a sweet idea!  I was smiling the rest of the day.

Ready to Go

Rosary

I was pre-checked in Sacramento, which was nice!

On United, I had to pay for the breakfast, which really wasn't all that. In Chicago I stopped at Auntie Ann's Pretzels for a lunch (or second breakfast, maybe). They gave me a cute little pin, which I put on my day-pack (which also has the American Pilgrims on the Camino patch.) I had to take my luggage myself to the International terminal and check it in. No "checking it through", because Ryannair doesn't do that.

This time I had to go through security again, got patted down and had the bag looked at. ORD free wifi is worth every penny. I took my iPad so I could check in with Facebook as often as I could, so the family would know I was alive.  Getting over to Terminal 5 was tiring, and I didn't get to see the dinosaur. I did see the Sears/Willis tower from the train, though.

The flight left at 3:56  and arrived in Dublin at 5:04. The Aer Lingus dinner came with the ticket, and was much nicer. It was beef stroganoff with a capresi salad, roll and real butter and a Love&Quiches brownie. (And I bought a beer, too.)I saw in the airplane magazine that Pamplona has a Yamaguchi district! And we had a female captain. My seatmate slept through most of the trip. I watched The Age of Adeline, but every so often an announcement would come on and nearly break my eardrums. Breakfast was at 8 PM yesterday my time, with a ham& swiss croissant and a raspberry yogurt.

International Flight Meal

Tomorrow

Suddenly, it's the 8th.

Dublin Airport

In Dublin Airport I stepped on my scallop shell when I got up to pick up a piece of trash. Teach me to be a good citizen! I bought a big water bottle which was my main bottle throughout the trip.  The "interminable" (pun intended) walk to the Ryannair booth went past a lot of stores, including one with Nana traps, with ultra soft toy sheep. Somehow my straps on the big backpack (which was big enough to carry my hiking poles) had come undone and kept trying to trip me. On the outdoor part of this trek I had to stop and get out my sweater, which was packed on top.  I met a Donna who's a pilgrim at the airport, but then we got separated because I had business class.

Ryanair

"Business class" on Ryannair is anyone else's steerage. The advantage is you don't have to pay extra to check your bag, and you don't have to call in the day ahead (which could be problematic in Spain.) However, never again.  They insisted I stash my waist pack, which was fastened onto me. Very uncomfortable flight. I got it out about 40 minutes later and kind of covered it up, and discovered when we landed that I'd never re-fastened my seat belt.

Biarritz

In Biarritz the shuttle people stood me up (actually, I discovered later that they sent the shuttle back, so I stood them up, oops) and I was in a bit of a panic, but a nice honeymooning couple, Lisa and Pat from Canada, had me share their taxi, and then wouldn't let me pay my share, so I gave the driver a 10E tip (which is not expected or required) on the 100E fare.

We were dropped at the tourist office, go figure, and it took me a second to get oriented, but I used my GPS to help me understand and walked the two blocks to the hotel.  The very nice woman took me upstairs, carrying my heavy bag, and showed me the really nice room. There was a surprise there, a bag with all the hotel tickets, and maps, and booklets. It's heavy enough I'm really glad I'm not carrying my night luggage! There was a TV in every room I stayed in but one, but I only turned it on the night before I left Santiago.

Map of St. Jean Pied-de-Port

My Hotel

My Room

My Room

I sunscreened up and took my pills, had to leave the key at the desk.  The lady doesn't speak much English and my French is minimal and rusty. I went out to get my sello (pilgrim's passport) and a new shell, and postcards. I also found there would be a Basque concert at the church that night. There were many Nana traps here, as well.

Then I went out again and explored a bit. I had forgotten to bring the GPS and the postcards, so instead of going back for my key I decided to mail them tomorrow morning.  I had never felt so lonesome in my life! I stopped for wine, but no meals till 7, so I settled for the cafe next door to the hotel where "sandwiches" was a foreign tongue.

Then I dashed off to church, and found out it wasn't a Basque chant concert (that turned out to be after Mass and I missed it entirely) but a Pilgrim's Mass (in Basque and some French.) Afterwards Father asked where we were from... many people from California and the Phillipines, and then we got a Pilgrim blessing. I was very close to tears.

Political Sign
Many political signs along the Way.

City Walls
The City Walls are across the street.  The red umbrellas are the cafe, where I had "dinner" the first night.  I didn't yet know what I was doing.  By the end of the six weeks, I could handle cafes like a pro.

City Walls

Mailbox

On the 9th, I dashed out of the hotel, leaving breakfast, so I could mail some postcards in time. (And these didn't arrive until just before I got home, while some I mailed in Spain the next week came in two or three weeks. Hmm.) Breakfast was COFFEE! (I had a lot of trouble getting plain coffee while in Spain so I learned to like cafe con leche.) And salami because I didn't want the limp cold bacon, and fruit and quiche and toast and butter and marmalade!

I talked to Ruth and John from Toronto, she's walking starting today. Later, on the City walls, I talked to Judy who will be walking alone tomorrow. I ran into Donna again, who was having second thoughts and maybe some health problems. I never saw any of these people again.

I went geocaching, and found four around town. I walked on the City walls, and the length of town, and took the hard way up to the Castle grounds, and saw a fountain (they're all along the way and potable, so you don't have to live on bottled water. Another thing that impressed me during the trip was how clean most of the bathrooms were, even in the dumpiest of dives. The dirtiest washroom I saw was in Madrid airport.)

I stopped at my room before lunch then went out again, found a lunch at a creperie, then walked along the River Nive to the Roman Bridge, then found a geocache at the Porte d'espagne, then exploring farther I found a pharmacy and got the antiseptic I planned to have with me. Back on the city walls, I found another cache I'd missed in the morning.

When I went back into the lobby, I met Karlene (who lives in my neighborhood in Sacramento...we'd been e-mailing) and her friend Leslie. We planned to go to the Pilgrim's Mass tonight, and later to dinner. There was an alpenhorn concert before Mass.  We ate at Cafe DeDe. This was my first Pilgrim's meal. The appetizer course is as big as many meals at home.

The Pilgrim's meal is a fixed price with three courses and usually a lot of wine. There are choices for each course.

I sort of caught up with my sleep... I planned to start the walk (look how scary the mountains are!) the next day.

Church Road

The Nave
Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Ponte, St. Jean Pied-de-Porte
note the cockle shell on the ambo.

City Gate, over the Bridge
Porte d'Espagne. The Way starts here.

Shells in the Street Rocks

Souvenir/Pilgrim Shop

The Nive
that bridge is the beginning of the Way, to the right (west)

Cinema

Camino Sign

On the City Wall
Yes, Virginia, those are the Pyranees in back.

View from the City Wall

My Hotel From the City Wall

Pilgrim&quot;s Store
this is where I got my replacement shell.

Albergue

Another Albergue

Medieval Street

Pilgrim Signs

Puff, Pant!!
The hard way up to the castle

Looking down on the town

Scary Prospect

Looking Down From the Citadelle

Roman Bridge
I was also geocaching.  Found 4 in town.

Back into Town

Alpenhorn Concert in Church

Tags:

OH.

So THAT is why when I tried to create an account here at LiveJournal last week, there was somebody else who was "fossilfreak." Rich's illness and death drove this site entirely out of my mind. OK, fossilfreakca.livejournal.com is up and running, and I'll go back to doing archives on this one.
December 24: Christmas Eve

A newsmonger reveals secrets: so have nothing to do with a babbler!---Proverbs 20:19.

Heh. Couldn't happen to a better company. NY TIMES: CLAUS OK'D ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE Tom Maguire comments:

The NY Times escalates its war on America with its latest revelations about the high-tech capability of the NSA to monitor and data-mine international communications.

...
Look - my inner geek is finding this to be very interesting. But is there any way in the world that the Times can be persuaded that this just might not be in America's best interest, even if it has some slight potential to embarrass Bush?

I only ask as a concerned citizen; as a vicious partisan, I think the NY Times, in combination with the Moore-Streisand wing of the party, is pushing the Dems off a cliff.

What is the Dem message here? "Oh my gosh, that evil Bush is spying on Al Qaeda and anyone who talks to them - as Democrats, we will never do that!"


Michelle
has more.

I'm 4 pounds up! ARGH! I was slowly going down all week till yesterday.

Last night we went out to look at lights again. Also, the young neighbor brought over a plate of cookies. She's so domestic! It's gotta be hard to be the only really young one on the block of old people. I should finish up the playroom and have her over with the little boys sometimes.

Since my present isn't arriving in time, it looks like the pets stepped in... why, gee, it looks a lot like Necco wafers and wasabi peas! (The big box is Rich's present.)

We went by Bernarob's to leave our car. Bernadette had a really cute singing polar bear for me. We loaded up, stopped at Panera (which they love) and were off to San Jose in their lovely new Ford Freestyle. There was a little fog, but it wasn't too bad, and in San Jose the sun was shining and it was downright hot, too hot for the sweatshirt I'd brought.

R.J. doesn't like to get up early, so Roni and family were running late, which bothered Monica. She was worried that we wouldn't have enough time to do everything, but in the event, though there was a bit of a rush at the end of the day, we got everything in. While we waited I got to admire their Channukah artwork (Jewish preschool, really good) and Genevieve's clever camera that she made all by herself. It even has the screen with a picture in back! Monica is a bit concerned that she shows no interest in reading, but it's apparent she's very gifted and creative.

The first order of business was to walk down to Christmas in the Park, this so Monica could get her annual churros and hot chocolate. 8 adults and 4 small children, watch out San Jose! Monica was pushing Charlotte in the stroller... for awhile, but then there was some time she had Genevieve and Alex in it, with Charlotte alternately swinging off the handle or walking along. She said it was strange to have twins... and I remembered when she and Roni were small, and people always thought they were twins. (Though that was a bit odd when she was a newborn!)

When we got downtown, Charlotte caught sight of the Ferris Wheel and her face just lit up: "I want to ride THAT, Mommy!" Then as we went along, it turned out she isn't quite big enough (needed thicker soles on her shoes) to ride the baby wheel, and she was so disappointed. They talked her into the seahorse at the carousel, and with her Daddy, so all was well, after all. Genevieve and Alex rode the teacups (and they are no kin of Rich's, obviously!) and the little wheel, and the carousel. Spoiled children. *I* only got to ride a carousel once a year, when the carnival came to town!! Off to the churros we went.

Monica hadn't warned Roni that she had promised Genevieve an inflatable reindeer (which G. was thrilled about, and told me about while we were still back at the house) so Roni was caught by surprise when Alex wanted one, and said "no." A. was really very good about the disappointment, but this looked like a job for SuperNana. I checked that it would be OK to spoil Alex a little, and so we bought her a reindeer, too. All three girls, then, played with the reindeer. Genevieve's finally sprung a leak and she was heartbroken, but as Charlotte had then grumped herself into a nap, she played with that. Monica was able to repair the original one, and so after a bit of an argument with G., everyone was back to their original deer. Genevieve is truly into Rudolph this year, and sang the whole song for me, in tune and with all the words. Anyway, I was quite chuffed that we were able to save the day for Alex and earn good grandparenting points.

We looked at all the displays, including their own fence (which they bought as part of the fundraiser) and went into the Fairmont and checked out the trains and the gingerbread houses, and then walked home. As I said, by this time Charlotte needed her nap. Mark and I discussed King Kong, Narnia (which he hasn't seen yet) and Harry Potter (he hasn't read all the books yet, so we couldn't talk about Snape!) Roni and R.J. will be going to M&M's cabin New Year's Week, and maybe they'll get snow.

Monica served us mulled wine and she and Roni got lunch/dinner on the table: good ham, a super salad from R.J. (spinach salad, I LOVE spinach salad) and lots of other good food. Then when Charlotte woke up, it was time for presents. I gave books to all, since the kids' big presents are actually subscriptions to appropriate magazines. Roni got Lileks' book on food and Monica his book on decorating. I'd sent Niki Mommy Knows Worst. Bernadette's book was a kid's book... sort of... Where's My Cow by Terry Pratchett. I just LOVE the illustrations.
The present that really got her, though, was from Mark, who knew she wanted Photoshop... he got her the whole Adobe suite. She will have a fabulous time. Mark's job has been outsourced so he has a few months to attempt to find another in the company. We got food and wine, always a winner. The new basket looks to me like an excellent base for a doll bed. Roni also gave me a lovely necklace.

Genevieve was distressed because Alex got three gifts from them and she only got one. Monica had to explain to her that this wasn't Christmas, and that Alex's little gifts were equivalent to her big one. I thought Roni had found some really neat things for them, both in toy cat carriers... a vet set for G. and a pet grooming kit for C. The only one of Alex's presents that I noted was the Veggietales tape.

Then the Bay Area people started getting ready for Mass. Monica had invited us, and it really sounded like it was nice, but this year I really wanted to be back for our own Midnight Mass. Everyone looked really nice all dressed up. Bernadette drove us back to her apartment and we came home.

I can't believe I didn't really want to go! It was great!

And, seriously... I am SO LUCKY with children who want to see us, to spend time with us. I must never ever take that for granted. Thank you, Monica!

Mass was wonderful. I wore the dress I had for our 25th wedding anniversary, and the necklace Roni gave me, and Father said I looked good. I sat in back with Rich and loved the pre-Mass singing. Our neighbor and her son did "Oh, Holy Night" and one of the women did "Gesu Bambino" as a solo. I just drank it in, and loved every single minute of Mass.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve: 10 Years Ago

December 24: Christmas Eve

Awww, Victor Borge died. My Mom used to really crack up when he pronounced the punctuation.

After church, and after picking up a little more, I went to see "What Women Want". I was rolling in the aisles, it was so funny. It was easy to tell it was a woman director, with all the subtlies. You really have to pay attention. I was really impressed that Gibson was so comfortable playing such a dork.

We invited Casanunda for our traditional semi-Polish Christmas Eve dinner, which went well. (Mushroom-potato soup, which I actually served in the soup tureen, fish with egg-and-butter sauce, cabbage, and cheese ravioli instead of pierogi.) I even had a leftover piece of oplatek. It never gets stale, fortunately, since we hadn't a clue how old it was.

I'm looking forward to actually having people tomorrow. It's been a long time since I've fixed a big family meal. We started having our Christmas some other day when Roni couldn't get off work on the day, and now it's traditional. Maybe I've been too polite, which is why they're walking all over me. (Monica's mother-in-law got all the news about Monica from the doctor, and of course I don't get to be "mother-of-the-bride.")

Rich ushed for Midnight Mass, so I sat all alone and sometimes lonely. I couldn't begrudge the family that took up the offering, though. The mom looked so happy. She's only got one gone at this time, since the two boys are working at restaurants to finance stuff, but it's apparent she's been missing her girl. Another family, mother and son, sang "Oh, Holy Night." I missed my kids!


December 21 (2000): News From Afar

My niece was driving home to Seattle from Wichita for Chrismas when she slid off the road and then had a truck land on top of her. She got out the window with some help, but the firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to get her two birds (in dinged cages, but OK) and cat-in-carrier out. She got transported to the vet and the beasties are fine. My niece is bruised, but OK, very very lucky. Her French Horn is dinged up, too. My sister says she's now had her Christmas present.

I got a call from a high-school classmate who wondered about a cryptic note on my card. It turns out that HER niece just made the USA woman's soccer team!

Another friend who has suffered from an allergy-induced form of schizophrenia for years writes that she's discovered a form of acupressure which seems to be helping a lot.

My former fourth-grade teacher (whom we visited in September) now has a computer and is learning to e-mail. Neat!

It's good to have a season when old friends get in touch!




December 21: Winter Arrives with a Bang

WHAM!!!! at 3AM, a thunderclap right overhead. Sailor was in a right old tizzy, protecting us from the scary sky!

It was the Day in the Life of ... project on Flickr so I was taking very ordinary pictures all day. However, we did have a couple of interesting events with no camera work from me. First, we were visited by a Federal Gummint type asking about Nick for a security clearance. We dissed him good of course (hi, Nick!). One question has intrigued me since, though.... "anything he could be blackmailed for?" Now, in this day and age, what's blackmailable? Almost all bad behavior is something to brag about, and a lot of former blackmail material, like sexual orientation or babies out of wedlock is just ordinary in this time.

Pagan came by for lunch, and brought me a Christmas gift despite our agreement not to. (Good thing I had found him something "Just Because" earlier in the year.) It was a pack of 25 stereoslides. They vary from the Boer War to the San Francisco Earthquake, Florida swamps to the Taj Mahal. They are a lot of fun. We discovered an old check holder will fit these things. Then we went to lunch at a Japanese place which is really very nice. It was good to see him and enjoy him again.

Eavesdropping for me but not for thee. Why am I not surprised that Baghdad Jim is involved.

Cindy-the-Delusional.

The Anchoress has Vespers for the 4th Wednesday of Advent. My Papa, he's Stylin (looks like Santa!). LaShawn Barber is asked if she hates black people?

Kobayashi Maru:

What is different today versus 9-11 is a natural (if juvenile) human tendency: the desire not to confront painful realities. In this case those realities (for Democrats) are near-complete political castration/repudiation, terrorist atrocities that we’re unable to completely contain, the virtual inevitability of a domestic attack that will make 9-11 look like a dress rehearsal, and the likelihood that this will at some point entail personal sacrifice (as all wars eventually do).


Given the choice, it is characteristic of children - especially spoiled ones - that they will avoid or postpone any unpleasantness that’s within their power to avoid or postpone.



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Thanksgiving in 2000

(Well, I'm leaving off all the Presidential Bush v. Gore stuff.)

November 23: What I'm Thankful For

  • I'm thankful for Genevieve.
  • I'm thankful for a healthy family. Rich was scary last year.
  • I'm thankful Sailor is back. I didn't realize how much I loved the stupid blond mutt till he ran off.
  • I'm grateful to get a few minutes (out of four-plus days) with the other grandchildren. We rank somewhere behind the Grinch and had I realized that, I'd have done something with Sam. At least this year we're on the list. The grands are darling. The baby remembered the camera and looked at the pictures on it, but this time he didn't touch. The oldest took a picture with it. I'm thankful he's doing better after the surgery, and I'm glad the others are healthy.
  • I'm thankful for Roni, who was there when I needed to talk, and for friends, ditto.
  • Boy, am I thankful to be in California, for two reasons:
    That I'm not an election official south of Lake Okeechobee, so I can have a Thanksgiving.
    Then there's the climate. I looked at the pictures of Buffalo buried under a global-warming blanket of snow and thought "but it's only November!" Ah, how quickly they forget!
  • I like my nifty two computers and my digital camera, and all the stuff we can do with these things. (I finally found the scanner software. Of course, RICH had to install it, as it wouldn't work for me.)