Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer of 2017 and the Tour de France

My last post was written in May, then June went by and July is about over.  The clearing out of the Georgia house for the move to Tennessee has stalled as I had to get ready for my first knee operation.  I had a left knee replacement surgery in the middle of July.  Now is the time to take it easy and go through therapy - no driving.  I cannot stay seated at the computer for long as it starts hurting, so this post is taking several days.  But I know this shall pass (until the right knee operation!)  June 17, 2017 was our 50th wedding anniversary.  My husband did not know about it because of his progressing Alzheimer's disease, but I took him to a restaurant anyway.  We went to a newly opened Greek restaurant nearyby in Smyrna, GA.  There was music providing a fun ambiance.

The menu was large with colorful pictures of the dishes and of places in Greece.  Click on collage twice to enlarge and see better.

We ordered from the Chef's Special menu.  Jim had the Stuffed Cabbage, that was delicious, and I had the leg of lamb, not so delicious but a bit dry with too much meat.  The salad and bread were good.  The baklava bearing the number 50 was a nice touch.

Dancing lessons were given to anyone interested.  My photos are dark as I did not use a flash.

I have been looking at my pictures of the last two months to remember what we did to share here.  My husband kept busy watering weeds in the back yard, even right after the rain.  Once I did find a turtle he had placed, for some reason, inside an empty planter.  I looked at it for a while and she did not move.  I thought the poor turtle was dead but placed it on top of a plate of water, and soon enough her little eyes came out and looked at me.  It felt rewarding that I had found her in time.  (Turtle in French is "tortue" and is a feminine word.)

While clearing up I found a box with old bottle of wines.  One was from 1978.  I thought it would taste like vinegar, but no, it was still good.  I emailed the vineyard in California, still in business, and sent them a photo.  The manager emailed me back his thanks.  Under my daughter's bed I found an old bear.  Then, way back under her bed I found a big black box.  She messaged me that I could open it, that it contained a project she had meant to do for us as a 20th wedding anniversary present.  Inside were many photographs and movie films that I had thought were lost.  They had sat in this box, undisturbed, since 1987!  Just think, the first time I was seeing them in 30 years!  I did not have time to look at all of them but did find a picture of our daughter Celine with the old bear I had just found under her bed.  I also remembered the photo of our other daughter Jessica at her 2 year old birthday party.  It's going to be fun to have the old movie films made into DVDs and look at them - most are from San Francisco in the 1960s.

At the end of June we went to my primary care physician to get a quick release for my knee operation.  I remember taking a photo to show how nice and empty the waiting room was.  We were not in the office very long.  But just as we were on our way out the door, there was a tornado warning and patients were asked to assemble in an indoor hall - quite a few of them.  We were packed in there for close to 3 hours with doctors, nurses, patients, some with upset and unruly children and autistic teenagers who were going into hysterics - quite an afternoon! (I moved my cell phone camera on purpose to blur the faces of the people in the hall.)

The evening before my knee operation we went to a fine Mexican restaurant in Brentwood, Tennessee, Uncle Julio.  It was not too warm and we sat outside. They advertize authentic, made from scratch Mexican specialties.  It was difficult to decide what to eat as the menu listed so many interesting choices.  While deciding we ate a delicious roasted tomato salsa and queso dip with homemade tortillas.

Our four grandchildren were fascinated by the waiter making side table guacomole, which he explained to them as he went along.

I saw glimpses of the 14th of July (what Anglophones call Bastille's Day) celebrations in Paris on my Ipad and room TV while in the hospital.  To celebrate the 100th anniversary of US troops arriving in France to fight in World War 1, this year the 14 of July celebrations were placed under the Franco-American friendship.  US President Donald Trump had been invited by French President Emmanuel Macron as a guest of honor.  Top picture in the collage below is a Library of Congress photo of US General "Black Jack" John J. Pershing arriving in Boulogne, France on 13 June 1917, then a photo of him next to French General Peltier.  In center are the two presidents and wives having dinner on July 13, 2017, in the Alain Ducasse's upscale restaurant "Jules Verne" on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower.

The parade down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees started with 145 US troops marching ahead.  More than 3700 French military personnel followed them.  At the end of the parade the French inter-military orchestra played for 86 seconds, "Nissa la Bella" the city of Nice national hymn, in remembrance of the 86 victims of the terrorist attack there on 14 July 2016.  They ended by positioning the band to form the word "Nice."  President Macron later that day flew to Nice to pay tribute to the victims.

Nissa la Bella was written on July 14, 1903.  It is the city of Nice hymn in the dialect of the town, Occitan dialect.  The lyrics say: Ô ma belle Nice, Reine des fleurs, Tes vieilles toitures Je chanterai toujours. Je chanterai les montagnes, Tes si riches décors, Tes vertes campagnes, Ton grand soleil d’or.    Translation:  O my beautiful Nice, Queen of flowers, Your old roofs, I'll always sing.  I will sing the mountains, Your rich scenery, Your green countryside, Your great golden sun.  I found it on youtube, written in the dialect and in French.


As is the tradition, the 14 of July festivities ended with fireworks by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, as well as in most other French cities and towns.

I was in hospital for four days - July 12 through 15th.  My doctor sent me a pretty red rose, and the CEO of the hospital a beautiful bouquet of unusual flowers.  I also watched the Tour de France on my little TV in my hospital room.

This year the 104th Tour de France started in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1st, 2017.  It ended on Sunday July 23, 2017 on the Paris Champs-Elysees.  It was made up of 21 stages and covered a total distance of 3,540 kilometres/2,143.73 miles.  It included 9 flat stages, 5 hilly stages, 5 mountain stages, 2 individual time-trial stages and 2 rest days.  It also included a total of 23 mountain climbs or hills.  The Tour visited three neighboring countries: Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg; 635 towns were visited among 34 counties of France.  Twenty two international teams made of 198 cyclists started the Tour.  More statistics:  2000 media personnel (TV, radio, newspaper and magazine reporters and photographers,) 23,000 police and security personnel along the route, 170 publicity caravans, 100,000 recyclable garbage bags, 2,800 special signposts installed on dangerous points along the Tour roads, 5,540,000 fans following the Tour on social media, 13 million plus fans watching by the side of the route, 1 billion TV viewers in 190 countries.

Starting with "What is the Tour de France?" on July 22, 2009, every year I write a post on the Tour - you can find the posts by looking under Tour de France on the side of my blog.  I did not mention before the caravans following the Tour, or more accurately ahead of the Tour - 170 publicity caravans (custom-built especially for the Tour) representing 43 organizations.  Their long procession arrives one hour ahead of the race.  Their personnel, usually students working on this special summer job, hand out 14 million gifts to the roadside spectators.  Children and adults alike love getting the caps, sweets, key rings, souvenirs thrown at them.  It gives the Tour this special noisy, crazy fun with blaring music and excitement.

From the millions of fans along the roadside, of all ages and types (animal included,) some wear outlandish outfits or makeup.

The helicopters following the Tour offer us some great overviews and glimpses of the surrounding landscape.  (Do not forget to click on the pictures in the collage twice to see them better.)

I like watching the cyclists who have been running in several previous races, such as Alberto Contador of Spain, Richie Porte and Mark Renshaw of Australia, Thomas Voeckler, Sylvain Chavanel, Thibaut Pinot and Alain Bardet of France, Tony Martin, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel of Germany and Nairo Quintana of Colombia.  Unfortunately, this year my two favorite sprinters, Mark Cavendish of the UK and Peter Sagan of Slovakia did not finish the Tour.  During the sprint at the end of stage four, Mark Cavendish crashed after hitting Peter Sagans' elbow.  Mark suffered a fractured shoulder blade and withdrew.  The Tour authority disqualified Peter Sagan saying that his dangerous elbow move provoked the accident.  (I think this was controversial and I did not agree.)  But this gave an opportunity for other sprinters to win like the rising star from Canberra, Australia, Michael Matthews.  Matthews won the green jersey for this year's Tour de France.

 Another rising star is Warren Barguil from Brittany, France.  He made the French fans happy by winning Stage 13 on July 14, Bastille Day, against Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador.  He is the first frenchman to win on the 14th of July since 2005.  President Macron personnaly congratulated him.  Barguil ended winning the polka dot king of the mountain jersey for the 2017 Tour.  Christopher Froome won the Tour de France, his fourth win in a row.  Below top left is Warren Barguil and then President Macron and Barguil.  The rest of the photos show the final Stage going through Paris and the winners.

Below are more pictures from the 2017 Tour de France.

Now I have to wait another year to watch the Tour again.  I was happy to just find out that my son-in-law has the book on the Official History of the Tour de France (pictured in the heading.)  It will be fun to have a look at it and learn more.  I end this post by saying "Vive le Tour!"

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bulloch Hall 35 Quilt Show - attic ... and more

Days pass quickly by and I don't have time to come to the computer; I miss reading my blogging friends' posts.  My husband's dementia/Alzheimer is still progressing, and he needs constant attention.  Our 50th wedding anniversary is coming up on June 17, 2017.  I don't believe he knows he is married anymore, so am not sure what we should do?  Take him to a nice restaurant, maybe, to mark the occasion?  He watches some TV but he does not understand much.  Actually he likes the commercials better - they are loud, colorful and even though we see the same ones all the time, they are always new to him.  I have researched some of them, the most irritating ones.  For example, the Ancestry DNA TV ads, like these two below (picture courtesy

The woman on top, above, Livie, says in the commercial that she travels a lot and people ask her what her nationality is.  She answers "Hispanic."  Really?  I have never heard of a Hispanic nationality because your nationality is the country where you were born and reside in, where you have a passport.  There is no country called "Hispanic" and nationality has nothing to do with your ethnic background or race.  Silly commercial.  The other lady, an actress named Kim Trujillo, says that her Ancestry DNA test showed that she was 26% Native American, and she never knew it.  What?  How can that be, she means 25% maybe.  To be 25% Native American one of her parents had to be 1/2 and one set of grandparents full blooded Native Americans - and she had never heard of her grandparents?  Several years ago I sent for an Ancestry DNA test as I had a 60% off coupon.  The results told me that I was 1/2 Western European (no European country specified) and 1/2 from the Caucasus Mountains (the dividing line between Europe and Asia.)  That's all the test said.  Since my mother and her family were French and my father's family Armenian I already knew this - nothing new there.  This makes my daughters 25% French, 25% Armenian and they know it.  Below is a map of the Caucasus Mountains and pictures of Paris I took, close to where I grew up.

Other annoying TV ads are those from the insurance company Liberty Mutual.  At first I was quite offended that they would use the Statue of Liberty for commercials - it is a national symbol and should not be cheapened like this.  But then I also found that their ads are false.  I have been to New York City many times and have taken the Statue of Liberty's photos.  The view shown on the commercial is not possible, it is too close and facing the dock.  There is no direct view like the one in their picture - top left of collage below, unless you are in the middle of the New York Harbor or on a ferry.  From Battery Park the view of the Statue of Liberty is of the left side (as I show below in my pictures taken from several trips,) from Governors Island it is also a side view and from Liberty Park in NJ a view of the rear.  A misleading ad - and so is the message.  The ad advertizes "new car replacement" but to obtain it, one has to pay extra on a "rider" as it is not covered in their standard policy, and in tiny prints they also mention that one has to meet the "terms and conditions of Liberty Mutual's underwriting guidelines."  Checking independent value assessment services on the Net, it seems that the cost of this Liberty Mutual rider is more expensive than those from GEICO or Allstate insurances.

Then there are the temporary Republican attack ads on Georgia 6th District in suburban Atlanta (we are in the 11th district and can't vote in this election.)  The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican Super PAC aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan, has been spending a $6.5 million campaign against Georgia Democratic House candidate Jon Ossoff.  The TV ads are constant.  They are super negative, bigoted, Islamophobic, racist and divisive - they show Jon Ossoff's face in front of known terrorists (which I won't copy.)  Even though this is a Georgia election the Republican ads show pictures of San Francisco with people wearing Jon Ossoff tee-shirts, and a guy disguised as a hippie with braids at Fisherman's Wharf, a hipster with an ugly floppy hat in the Russian Hills, and more.  The ads keep repeating "Jon Ossoff is not one of us."  They did go too far by placing a photo of Jon Ossoff on a SF Powell-Hyde Street cable car.  The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency sent a "cease-and-desist" request to the PAC, saying this is unauthorized and a misrepresentation.  The PAC then moved the picture to the Golden Gate Bridge!  Could be the PAC knows their GA Republican constituency, thinking that they are ignorant (that they must believe there are still genuine hippies in San Francisco? - no, they left in 1967 when the wave of hippie wannabe arrived!) bigoted, afraid and uninformed - maybe they are right.  Many Republicans are more interested in "party" than what is best for the "country."  The runoff is June 20, 2017.  These estremist ads smearing the Democratic candidate will then stop, thankfully.  (Photos courtesy Atlanta Journal Constitution.)

I would enjoy talking about all this with my husband as we used to, but because of his illness he cannot - he would not understand what I am talking about (he still does not understand who Donald Trump is.)  So, I thought about talking with y'all!
Just one last terrible ad to mention.  This one really upsets me because it is so deceitful.  Since the onset of my husband's dementia/Alzheimer I have been taking him to the best doctors in Georgia.  He is a patient of the Emory's Brain Health Center in Atlanta.  His doctor is the director, Allan Levey, MD, PhD., who is also the head of the Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (with 400 researchers and clinicians,) one of the top centers in the nation supported by the National Institute of Health.  After watching TV ads for the supplement "Prevagen" I asked them whether I should give it to my husband.  The answer was a resounding "no" because it was worthless.  Furthermore I was told that not a single doctor in the center recommended this supplement but told patients to avoid it.  So I researched it.  In 2012 the FDA investigated the company and found the supplement has serious side effects, including seizures and strokes and had no scientific backing.  They sent the company a warning, telling them that their claims for Prevagen were illegal; their clinical trials were also illegal because they lacked FDA approval and they failed to adequately report adverse reactions.  But the drug company kept saying that their supplement, from an element found in jellyfish, improves memory in 90 days and provides other cognitive benefits.  Their ads affirm that the product is "clinically shown" to support "clearer thinking."  Below is a picture of moon jellyfish, courtesy the Key West Aquarium.

In January 2017, the Federal Trade Commission charged the makers of Prevagen with making false and unsubstantiated claims - read the FTC claim here.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement "The marketing for Prevagen is a clear-cut fraud, from the label on the bottle to the ads airing across the country," "It is particularly unacceptable that this company has targeted vulnerable citizens like seniors in its advertising for a product that costs more than a week's groceries, but provides none of the health benefits that it claims."  Dr. Bob Speth, a scientist and professor at Nova Southeastern University school of pharmacy filed a complaint about Prevagen with the Federal Trade Commission in 2016.  He calls Prevagen "one of the most fallacious products I have seen come on the market."  He added that these supplement marketers are making millions of dollars by tapping into the deepest fears of seniors and aging boomers.  Court documents show that sales of Prevagen were topping $165 million in 2015.  All these ads are distressing because so many people believe what they see on television, but fortunately I have a "mute" button on my TV remote...  (Pictures of cannonball jellyfish and comb jellyfish.)

Another event that took some of my time was the election of the new President of France.  Being dual citizen (France and the USA) I received many emails and mailings on this election.  I took a picture of the last mailing I received and show it below.  Marine LePen (48,) the Far-right candidate from the Front National Party, faced independent centrist Emmanuel Macron (39) on May 7, 2017.  Marine LePen strongly admires Vladimir Putin and visited him in Moscow (and he endorsed her for President of France.)  President Donald Trump expressed support for LePen even though her party has a long history of racism, anti-Americanism, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.  As for Marine LePen she approved of and copied Donald Trump's campaign style.  But this did not serve her well as the latest polls showed that 71% of French people had an unfavorable view of Putin and most of them disliked Donald Trump even more, 82% of French people! The US elected their extreme right wing candidate, but on May 7th, the French rejected theirs and Emmanuel Macron was elected.  It looks to me as though D. Trump scared many countries in Europe as in other countries' elections where the Right wing parties were favored to win, they were also rejected, such as in Austria and the Netherlands.  That said, there is no extreme right propaganda machine like US television channel Fox News over there.

Emmanuel Macron was Economy Minister in a previous administration and also an investment banker.  He speaks fluent English (he was a Young Leader in the French-American Foundation.)  He is married to Brigitte Trogneux, who is 24 years his senior.  Some Trump supporters made jokes about the age difference between Macron and his wife - of course they never made jokes about Donald Trump and his wife, even though she is 24 years his junior!  Macron is the youngest French head of state since Napoleon.  He is very pro-Europe.  Macron's new government administration includes 11 men and 11 women, from right and left parties, in an effort to bridge the right-left divide (this would never happen here!) (Bottom picture is of E. Macron and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, at the G7 Meeting in Italy this week, courtesy Paris-Match magazine.)

Well I better get back to the Bulloch Hall quilt show.  In my previous posts I showed the quilts exhibited on the ground floor, look here,  and second floor, look here.  It is not because some quilts were in the attic that they were not as beautiful as the others, because they were.  Their bright colors lightened the attic.

We walked closer to each quilt to see their distinct designs.

Some were elaborate.

Others had very interesting shapes and colors.

Some quilts had flowery motifs that were lovely - each one unique.

I was drawn to the blue quilt - it was really exquisite.

We left the attic with our eyes still filled with glorious colors.  In my last post I showed a photo of Bulloch Hall that I had done with a special setting on my camera - here it is below again.

This time I manipulated some pictures of Bulloch Hall.  I am not sure which one I like the best - which is your favorite?  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Since we are going to move from Georgia to our house in Nashville - eventually ... we may never go back to visit historic antebellum house Bulloch Hall again.  In my last photo, I placed an ardent sunset around the mansion to say good-bye, au revoir...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bulloch Hall 35th Quilt Show - second floor

This is a continuation of my post of last month on the Bulloch Hall 35th Quilt Show.  I was hoping to come back earlier to write this post but have barely been on the computer because of our future move.  We did move more furniture and boxes to Nashville but still have a long way to go to be finished - several months, at least.  But to get back to the quilt show - as we arrived upstairs in the Bulloch Hall mansion one quilt, no. 80, was exhibited in the hall and quite striking.  It is called "The Bride wore Red" by Kay Donges who says "I wanted to create a quilt using sparkly fabric in my favorite color (red.)  I envisioned an Indian bride.  Red is the color of life - a new life.  A wedding indicates a significant change in the life of a traditional Indian woman."

A Quilt Guild member was working in Irvine's Bedroom.  The bed was covered by quilt no. 83 "Family Stars" by Susan R. Morrison.  Next to the bed, on the wall, was quilt no. 85 "Downtown" by Susan Riser, which took her three years to complete.  Quilt no. 88 "Tuscany Rose" by Suzanne Gipaio has a flannel background.  Quilt no. 90 "Beach Fun" on the single bed was made by Pat Simone who says that she originally made napkins to use at the family vacation at the beach but since the family did not use them she repurposed them into a quilt.  (Click on any collage twice to enlarge.)

On the collage below, quilt on the left, on top, is no. 86 "Mississippi Delta Blues" by Ben Hollingsworth who says "I love music, especially the blues.  This is a tribute to the people from the Mississippi Delta, where the blues grew up."  Next to it, quilt no. 84 "Flight Plan" by Julie Bizzoso, is representing flying geese.

Quilt no. 87 below is "Graceland" by Alegra Bobette Robinson who says that she pieced this quilt on a trip with her two sisters to visit Elvis' home in Memphis, Tennessee.  Below it is quilt no. 89 "Kaleidoscope Luminosity" by Pam Reis - certainly a lovely glowing quilt, almost fluorescent.

We were greeted in the Sewing Room with quilt no. 106 "Hope" by Holly Anderson, quilted in honor of the Cure and Breast Cancer Awareness.  The bottom quilt on the right is "April Showers Bring May Flowers" by Karen Gornall with fun and colorful umbrellas.

Last year in my post about the 34th Quilt Show at Bulloch Hall, I showed a book, exhibited in Mittie's Bedroom, (click here) entitled "Mittie and Thee - An 1853 Roosevelt Romance."  Written by M. Huddleston and Gwendolyn I. Koehler, it is the romance between Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and Mittie Bulloch.  They became the parents of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the 26th President of the United States.  The courtship was shown through their letters.  This year, the second volume, written by the same authors, is entitled "Between the Wedding and the War: The Bulloch Roosevelt Letters - 1854-1860."  It is the continuing saga of the two families, the Roosevelts of New York, and the Bullochs of Georgia, during the Civil War.  It gives an historical view of the antebellum society from the south and the north of the United States at the time.  This year the book was exhibited on a table in the Sewing Room.  Unfortunately, we missed going into Mittie's Bedroom because we ran out of time.

Another fun quilt in the Sewing Room was "Cat Treats" by Helga Diggelmann.  I liked the green square with all the little frogs, but then the red square with the little birds was sweet, too.

Quilt no. 104 "Not my first Black and White" by Sandra Teepen was next to no. 105 "License Tags" by Meg Latimer - which I showed on top of this post.  Meg says that she collected these "license tags" fabrics from 46 different quilt shops while driving to Minnesota.

The Civil War Room had some patriotic quilts on display.  Quilt no. 114, upper right corner below, is "Reacher" by Ben Hollingsworth.  Next to it is quilt no. 115, "Patriotic Rail Fence" by Nancy French who says that it was made for a Nicaraguan friend who is now an American citizen.  Below is quilt no. 116 "Pinwheel Flags" by Katy King.

Returning to the Upstairs Hall I took the picture of two lovely table runners in blue shades.  I'd love to have one of them on my table in our Nashville house.  Our dining area has been painted a light blue tone; however, there is no table there yet ... Runner no. 78, "Victorian Star Table Runner" is by Emily West and table runner no. 79, "Blue  Table Runner" is by Pat Simone.

I really wish I could finish this post by showing the quilts in the Attic, but unfortunately there is no time.  As it is, I really should not blog anymore until our house in Georgia has been totally cleared out.  But I do miss blogging and I feel that posting once a month helps me stay optimistic and happy.  I'll try to finish our visit at Bulloch Hall as soon as I can - stay posted ... and thanks for coming.  While you wait, here is a photo I took of Bulloch Hall with a special setting on my Nikon camera - now I am not sure what setting that was (oops) but still think it looks charming, a bit like a colored pencil drawing.

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