"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November Books and Movies

I cannot recall another month where I actually watched more movies than read books, but this month that is exactly what happened!   Well, we went to France and Belgium. I don't read much while traveling by plane, but I did watch three movies on the 9.5 hour flight from Brussels to Atlanta.  They were

The Help

Admission (chosen because it was about 90 minutes)

The Breakfast Club (chosen because it was only 90 minutes)

When I got home I had to catch up on blogs and articles I missed while gone. Plus I was falling asleep around 8 every night and sleeping like the dead until 4:30 in the morning due to jet lag.  And now it's Thanksgiving and I've been doing stuff with pictures since Walgreens has had some free offers lately.  All that to say, I didn't read many books this month.  I only finished two.

Where's the Duck in Peking: Glimpses of China
by Cliff Schimmels - The author went to China to teach for a year and shares experiences of his life there. I really enjoyed these aspects of Chinese life.  A few things I'd heard before, while others were new to me.  For instance he reports of a female student coming to class with nasty bruises on her neck.  He later found out that if the Chinese feel they are getting sick, they will often pinch their necks to help with healing.  He told other stories about names and the three or four different translations for "ma" depending on the tone you used while saying it. I loved the last chapter when he mentioned their leaving China and how 250 students lined up to watch them depart. 

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards -- I found this in a book exchange recently. Pretty interesting book. Fiction. I like that it takes place in an area of upstate New York that a friend of mine lives.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Visiting My Roots

In a souvenir shop

 We went on a short trip to see our friend (well, he's really family), Samer, for a few days.  He told us to meet him in Paris this time, so that's what we did.  The flight was supposed to leave Raleigh and connect in Atlanta, but a maintenance issue prompted me to call the Delta helpline and we got an earlier flight to Paris through Detroit. Nice. I'd never been to Michigan so it was good visiting another state even if it was just the airport.  The flight over took 6.5 hours. I guess we had a good tailwind because even the airline ladies seemed surprised that it was so short.  It wasn't the most comfortable trip for me, however. I desperately wanted to sleep because I knew once we got there at 7 AM local time (1 AM back home), we'd be out and about all day without resting.  Alas, the more I tried to sleep, the less I did.  I resigned myself to just being tired, and I was for the first bit.  I felt like I could crawl up beside Napoleon's grave and just sleep for hours.    Thankfully, once we got outside in the cool (but not cold) air and sunshine, I felt more alert and happy and started feeling more peppy. I was able to make it until around 10 or 11 that night and fell asleep pretty readily!

This photo is from the first day. See how upbeat I look despite not sleeping for hours?

 We had a great visit with Samer. To be honest, Andrew and I aren't big-city type people, and I probably would never choose to go to Paris because it's not a place I've ever dreamed of going.  I am content hiking in the mountains or walking along the beach. That said, I really do enjoy most everywhere I've ever been.  I try to see the good in each place, and enjoy what is there. And Paris had some great sights!  Samer had been there before so he acted as our guide.  Of course.

It was raining a bit when we got to Versailles Palace.
November 5, 2013

 One thing Andrew really wanted to do was go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Samer had not gone all the way to the top. I think it might have been closed last time he was there.  Since Andrew wanted to, we went back to the tower one night. Actually it was the night of our visit to Versailles, and the weather had cleared so the view was great!  We saw for miles and miles. Samer took some great photos (a few of which I shared on Facebook), but here is one of just the three of us that someone offered to take for us.

It was cool up there - especially the two sides where the wind was whipping!

We did other stuff in Paris, but I won't bother with that now.  (Oh, we found the American Hospital where my mom was born.) I knew Paris for 6 days would be (or could be) museum overload for at least one person in our group, so I told Samer we should probably look for another destination.  He chose Belgium. He had never been to this country so it was the first one we'd all visit for the first time together. And it was lovely!  We landed in Brussels, but took a couple day trips to Bruges and Ghent. 

The rain in Brussels added a pretty sheen to the streets.

Bruges had several quiet streets that we enjoyed.

We got home Sunday night (Brussels to Atlanta to RDU - 9.5 hours, but a much more pleasant flight), and I've been trying to get my body back on North Carolina time ever since. It's 9 PM and I am ready for sleep now. I got up around 5:15 so I am tired.