Thursday, February 29, 2024

Chamonix ski week, Day 5: Sun and avalanches!

We decided to do something different this morning and headed to Brévent-Flégère, a pair of south-facing resorts high above the city of Chamonix. We have skied there in previous years, just in one small area of Flégère and never in Brévent. Because it is in full sun all day, we knew the snow would be soft.

The two resorts are connected by a gondola that goes across a valley. We headed up on the Flégère side, traversed over to Brévent via a very steep and slushy red run, and then skied all of the reds on the Brévent side. We skipped the blues since they would be too easy and too crowded. There was one big black run at Brévent that we also skipped, since the snow was so bad.

We headed back to the Flégère side, getting frustrated at the long wait times for the return gondola and the little chairlift that brough us back up to the base level. We did one last red run and then took the gondola back down to the valley. Lunch time...and time to head back to Les Grands Montets, where the snow is still amazing (higher elevation and north-facing = great snow).

We had a fantastic afternoon of skiing the upper runs. The most exciting thing of the day was seeing an avalanche happen in real-time just across one of the valleys. I heard a big booming, rumbling noise and saw the avalanche start pouring down. Now we've officially seen two avalanches in Chamonix: one of rocks (back in 2016 when we were hiking in the late spring) and one of snow.

My parents took a day trip up to the Aiguille du Midi, which they quite enjoyed. We tried to go a few years back--it was included in our ski pass--but the weather was so bad that it was never open the entire week!

We have a half day of skiing tomorrow and then we have to head home early. Eric is bringing the Wabash socccer team over to Nice during their spring break, and they arrive at 11 am on Saturday. Driving back to Nice at 4 am that day would be cutting it close, so we decided to head back on Friday afternoon instead.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ski week in Chamonix, Day 4: More clouds!

We thought we would have a mostly sunny day, but instead we had clouds most of the day. They moved a lot--sometimes lower, sometimes higher, but never entirely gone.

But it was a great ski day anyway. We had a few runs where we couldn't see anything.

In the afternoon, we traversed and then hiked waaaay high in order to find fresh powder with no ski tracks.

Eric thinks he may have cracked a rib 2 days ago. He was traversing on top of some big boulders along a very narrow path and his skis slipped off. He fell onto a big boulder, bounced off it, and then landed in the powder. It hurts a lot when he sneezes, does jumps, lies on it, etc.

Zari was feeling under the weather this morning, but she still came and ended up staying the whole day.

My parents went on a few hikes today. One of them ended up having too much snow--they would have needed snowshoes or crampons.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ski week in Chamonix, Day 3: Plan A & B

By yesterday evening, I was tired and sore and wondering how I could handle another day of skiing. And then I woke up somewhere around 3 or 4 am and never got back to sleep. I was Grumpy Rixa in the morning. But things improved. I had plenty of energy all day and even felt better than the day before. We started out by going to a different resort just up the valley (all part of the same ski pass). We usually ski there once every year. We went up the gondola to the base, took the main chairlift up, and promptly decided that we were Les Misérables. It was horribly windy and cold. The snow wasn't great, either, and there were still long lines. Ugh. So we headed straight back down after just one run. We drove back to our favorite resort because we knew the snow was good and it was protected from the wind. We ate an early lunch on the way so that we could ski the rest of the day without interruption. There was a heavy cloud cover starting at 2200m altitude, just above the middle area of the resort (where the first gondola ends and the next set of gondolas and chairlifts depart). We knew what that meant--skiing blind! We first stayed right under the cloud over, taking the smaller chairlift runs and doing fun jumps, etc. Then I convinced the kids to go all the way to the top via gondola and ski down. They reluctantly agreed, and once we entered the dense clouds, they wanted to back out. Nope, we were doing this! We broke out of the clouds just as the gondola reached the top. (Cue angelic singing--it was amazing to see). We traversed over to our favorite area, still largely unskied. We had a few glorious moments of deep powder skiing...and then we entered the Clouds of Doom. We could hardly see each other and not at all where we were going. Fortunately we had skiied off-trail enough in this area to know that eventually we'd find our way back to the run and that we were pretty unlikely to hit any cliffs or drop-offs. We still had to be careful about avoiding rocks and tricky spots. We were all relieved when we spotted the red poles marking the run. We still had to ski very slowly since we couldn't see anything at all! But we stuck together and, despite me having a weird moment of vertigo while skiing while essentially not being able to see anything, we made it down. We did the middle chairlift runs again until it was time to head home. We all had plenty of energy left so we skied the last long run all the way to the very bottom. It went from winter skiing at the beginning to slushy spring skiing at the end! We went in the hot tub, ate dinner, watched Doctor Who, and (poor Dio) did some homework. I handwashed laundry in the bathroom sink and I think we're set for the rest of the week except a pair of socks here or there.
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Monday, February 26, 2024

Ski week in Chamonix, Day 2

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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Ski week in Chamnoix, Day 1

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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Hello from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc!

We made it here with some delays and other (mis)adventures...first off, my mom got all the way to the rental car agency (a 30-40 minute drive) and realizing at the ticket counter that she could did not bring her passport and could not rent a car. Eric had to drive her back to our house, pick up the passport, and drive her back, then drive back home again. Then we had a number of traffic jams. But we got in just after 6 pm, in two cars and all in one piece.

The apartment we are renting is near our favorite resort. And the most fun thing--it has a balcony with a hot tub! Eric forgot his swimsuit, though. I have a pair of running capris that I offered to lend to him. I spent a long time in the tub with Ivy, Inga, and Dio.

On the down side, there is no washing machine. We'll be doing a lot of handwashing. I cannot understand why you'd have apartment with no washing machine! We can barely go a day without doing a load of laundry. We certainly did not have space to pack 7 days' worth of clothes, plus all of the coats, snow pants, boots, skis, poles, etc. And food for 8 people for a week. It was truly a huge load that we packed into the cars.
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Friday, February 23, 2024

We're mostly packed for ski week! The goal is to leave tomorrow morning around 9 am and we'll see how close we get to that goal...

I did a bit more hanging-out-the-window-on-a-harness this morning. Some meetings, some video editing, lots of errand running.

And a fun break mid-day to eat at a restaurant with my parents and someone who contacted us after reading the CNN article.
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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Just another morning, no big deal, I strapped myself into climbing equipment and stood on a window ledge a few floors up to do some repairs around the windows.

My dad was very concerned when he heard what I was going to do. "Don't worry, I am over-engineering everything!" I used 1-ton towing straps as my support and caribiners rated at several hundred kilos. "I will be fine."

Ivy had a fantastic time at the school Carnaval. Zari has been expressing a desire for a costume and finally she pulled everything out of our bin (not many choices here). Nothing was quite right. So she got creative and made herself a newspaper costume. Pictures tomorrow if I can remember!

I had several hours of breech meetings in the afternoon.

It rained all day, sometimes just a sprinkle (when I went running this morning) and other times a downpour. Poor Dio was a soccer practice and came home squelching.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ivy's school is celebrating Carnaval tomorrow. She and I went hunting for supplies to make a flower crown. We found the perfect flowers (artificial, sorry!). She helped me make the base out of twisted electrical wires, then she painted it with gold paint. Then she and my dad attached all of the flowers.

Eric got all the ski clothes out of the attic. Our living room is now overflowing with coats, snow pants, gloves, and hats.

The box hiding the water/electric is totally done! I put the last coat of poly on this evening. Now on to converting an antique dresser into a sink...
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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

I gave a Grand Rounds presentation for a hospital in Nelson, New Zealand (on the South Island) verrrry early this morning. I was so excited about it that I inadvertently work up at 3 am instead of 6 am and couldn't get back to sleep!

So yeah, I've been extra tired today.

In fact I'm so tired that I can't think of much else to say. I did rouse myself in the afternoon to help my dad build and install two door jambs.
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Monday, February 19, 2024

We have a box! And a papa!

Ugh, this box around the plumbing and electric looks so simple. But it was not! It took us so long to get everything fitting just right. Nothing is square or level or straight, of course. But it's finally put together. I filled the screw holes with wood putty. Tomorrow we'll sand and apply polyurethane.

Eric came home mid-afternoon, his 2nd trans-Atlantic trip in 2 weeks. He is exhausted.

I have a 7 am Grand Rounds (7 pm in New Zealand!) tomorrow morning. Better get to bed...
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Sunday, February 18, 2024

We had a different Sunday: watching Dio's team play a soccer game and then a potluck apéro with the players and families afterward. The 3 girls came along. I enjoyed time to sit in the sun and read and watch the kids play.

Zari was bored and worried that the potluck thing would take all afternoon. But it turned out to be more of just drinks and snacks and a few short speeches. After the coaches had their turn, they asked the team captian to speak. And then, unexpectedly, they had Dio speak as well! We were all quite surprised.

We watched more Doctor Who this afternoon and did homework and studying into the evening.

Eric comes back from his fundraiser trip tomorrow. Then we have one week here until it's school vacation and SKI WEEK!!!

Also a random picture on my phone from Inga, who carved away the chocolate background on her petit écolier.

Carnaval started yesterday and Nice is thronged with tourists. My mom got stopped and asked for directions twice today!
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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Most of my day was taken up with soccer, bringing Ivy and her teammate to their game in Villeneuve Loubet. Unfortunately, her team did not play well at all and they lost 2-6. But it was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the enforced relaxation.

Meanwhile Inga had a game at Cavigal that my parents attended. Her team won 4-1, with Inga scoring a beautiful header.

I left Zari and Dio with instructions to a) fold the laundry and b) go outside and get some exercise and fresh air.

Once were all back home in the late afteroon, we had fun watching lots of Doctor Who, eating dinner, and then playing games/talking. I made a chocolate tart for Dio's game and potluck, to which we are all invited. He won't be playing in it, even though his coach wants him to, because he's considered a "mid-year transfer" and they can only play one transfer at a time. The other transfer is their main goalie. But the whole team is invited, and families, for the game and picnic.

I thought this poster at Ivy's game was funny, and a bit sad. Evidently there's enough of a problem with the soccer dads that they had to make a poster!

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Friday, February 16, 2024

Showers and street concerts

We have a shower! I am just about to go try it out. The kids approve--a few have already used it.

We still have to install boards underneath to hide the all the other things in that room. But hey, one thing done!

There was a great street concert tonight at the art gallery across from us.

I got yelled at by a guy who I had double-parked behind (there are a few spots where it's common to double park; you leave your phone number on the dashboard and they call if they need to get out. Common practice here in Old Nice). But this guy was furious. I knew I was going to get a very French yelling as soon as he called.

I won't repeat all the things he said, but one of them was, "Next time you park behind me, I'm going to run my car into yours and I'm going to break your windows! Are you ok with that?" I said, "No, I'm not ok with that. That's not very nice."

He kept going but I just got in the car and told him again that it wasn't very nice to say he was going to smash my windows in and that I did not agree to it. Anyway that was definitely the most exciting part of my day.
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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Busy day. Eric was up suuuper early to travel to a big fancy fundraising event for the Masion Baldwin (nonprofit dedicated to honoring the legacy of James Baldwin). I drove Dio to soccer, did some renovations, worked on the breech book, etc. I need to find a better parking spot tomorrow morning. Bonne nuit!
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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

I promised myself that I wouldn't stay up too late. So here's my quick post for today.

I did just a little work in the shower area. My dad and I hung up the other glass sliding door. Then we cut a few pieces of the wood that will box in the utility lines. Lots of head-scraching, measuring, making templates, etc.

I was going to go running, but I had to wait for someone to come pick up ski boots. By time that happened, it was halfway through the morning so I just started my day without exercise. I know I should, and I like how I feel the rest of the day. But sometimes it's hard to give up the time because I have so much else that I need to be doing!

The girls all had soccer. I took a walk with Eric in the later afternoon. He needed to find some pants or jeans. It was so gorgeous out! Ack, why am I stuck indoors all day
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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Lots of work on the book, a little work on the shower door. We stopped when we had to silicone a threshhold piece. In theory, our shower faucet arrives tomorrow...we'll see if that actually happens.

Ivy has some funny boy drama at school. Someone in her grade asked her, via a note, if she would be "en couple" with him. The note said to check yes or no. She created a third option and wrote a long paragraph explaining that she's way too young to be having couple relationships and that's it's nothing personal--she would say that to anyone who asked. I was cracking up as she described what she wrote.

Also there was some stinky drama involving a kid in her class--half 5th graders and half 1st graders--who pooped in his pants and it smeared all down his leg and he was showing it to everyone and then throwing his pencil case and disrupting everything.

Zari is busy memorizing more things for her geopolitics class. I don't like how much rote memorization there is here. Now I know lots about the evoultion of suffrage in France, from antiquity to the mid-1960s. I have to follow along as she practices reciting these long passages.
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Monday, February 12, 2024

Paper submitted!

This afternoon I got our journal article (about 100 sets of twin births at home) submitted to the journal. Now we wait...But it was such a load off my chest to have this thing DONE.

The rest of the day I worked on the breech book. It's going to be so fantastic! I just wish I could copy+paste myself about, oh I don't know, 10 times because there's so much to be done.

I went running for the first time since my varicose vein removal. No issues at all and none the worse for wear after my hiatus.

I came along to the "coach Eric" soccer practice this evening so I could run to the big home improvement store. It's a good time to do so, since we already have the car out and it's kind of close to the freeway. I picked up lumber to build shelves in the basement and a few other things.

I was going to buy paint for the hallway, but I discovered that the paint mixer not only goes on 2-hour lunch breaks, it also goes on a permanent dinner break at 6 pm! Seriously, what is up?!? This is the largest home improvement center in the entire metropolitan area and they can't even mix paint at lunch time or after 6 pm? I was SO frustrated. They still have several employees at the paint counter but the mixer...well, it's done for the night.
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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Triplets! (not ours, don't worry)

Eric got home mid-day, a bit before we came back. I made the kids walk to/from church because there was no way I was driving now that I had a good parking spot!

I had a breech live session this evening that was very exciting--home birth of triplets. We were joined by the parents (just one week postpartum) and two of the midwives. A fun part of my job!

It was so nice to see the sun today after all that rain. Eric and I went on another walk in the afternoon.

I made chipotle black beans but didn't have time to finish before my live session started. However, the chipotles in adobo sauce and the garlic were in her apartment, so I emailed her instructions on what to add to finish the recipe. She didn't see the email so she just served it, thinking it was ready. I came out of the live session and realized what had happened! I am so sorry for bland black beans! The leftovers are now well-seasoned :)

Photo: Kristine Marie Lauria
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Saturday, February 10, 2024

Sweet treats

We had a lovely surprise this evening when I picked up two "panier surprise" (surprise bags) from a nearby bakery. They are always generous but tonight was exceptional. We came away with 1 large cheesecake, 2 loaves of bread, 1 loaf of brioche, 2 large sandwiches, 1 piece of pizza, 1 apricot tart, 2 jelly-filled donuts, 2 big pains au chocolat, 4 mini pains au chocolat, 2 croissants filled with creme patisserie, 2 madeleines, 4 mini donuts, 2 chocolate chip cookes, 2 canelés, and a sweet bun. All for under 8 Euros!

Eric is traveling back from his conference. He had an issue with his passport--it's still valid but is getting close to expiring. But he couldn't renew it before the conference because it would have taken too long to process (you have to mail in your old one when you apply, leaving you without any passport for 2 months or more.) They let him board but he's hoping he will be allowed to continue, since he's coming back to his place of residence.

It rained all day again. But laundry must be washed and dried. The one load already out, well, that one has gotten washed about 10 times now! But today's load is draped over chairs, doors, and any other available surfaces.

Inga had another sleepover last night and spent more of the day with her friend. They went to the mall (Nice Etoile) this afternoon and got matching sweatpants and sweatshirts as part of her friend's upcoming birthday present.

Zari has been working for several weeks on an oral presentation about the idea of "wilderness" for her geopolitics class. She gave it yesterday and got a 19/20! That is an amazing grade in France. Her teacher liked it so much that he requested a copy and put it up for the whole class to read. She had been stressing about it so much and at one point this week, was ready to throw it all in the trash. "It's no good at all!" I reassured her that it was very good.
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Thursday, February 08, 2024

New couch! (but no pictures...sorry...)

Our old couch and chair got picked up by the city street dept this morning and the new one came about an hour later. Dio helped me carry up the boxes and I assembled it. It's definitely different than our old set!

I'll try to take pictures tomorrow.

I had a very interesting afternoon--we had an orchestral group of 9 string instruments (1 bass, 2 cellos, 4 violins, and 2 violas) being filmed by 2 videographers in Le Chateau. We had to move the couch into the kitchen to make room for everyone. I wish I had some pictures or videos but alas, I do not! It was quite the adventure.

I'm not entirely clear why the filming, but it's part of a private dinner concert in April and I guess the person hiring the group wanted a promotional film of it as a sort of teaser? Anyway the violinist in April couldn't come today, so I subbed in.

I brought Dio to soccer this evening. He's not sick any more, although he has a lingering couch. He did ok, but I had to persuade him to go. He said that because he had to play slower because of his cough, it improved his technical performance. I'm now double-parked and I hope that I don't get called at 5 am to move the car!

Eric is giving his big presentation today, probably right now as I'm typing.

My parents and their friends took a day trip to Antibes. They had plans to visit the Picasso museum and then hike the sentier littoral.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2024

I was tired last night. I thought about writing my daily update, looked at my computer, shrugged, and went to bed.

Eric is off to a conference, where he will be talking about writing for video games and his new textbook called Story Mode. Dio was sick again, so I let him go back to bed. I finally woke him up at 11 am on my way to bring Ivy to soccer! He's feeling better than yesterday, so I think he'll be back in school tomorrow.

My parents have friends visiting for the next week. Ivy took them all out on a walking tour of Nice after she got home from soccer. I cooked a big pot of panang curry with pork, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, and cauliflower.

I did more work on the breech book, got a bit of mudding and sanding done in various spots.

One thing I'm looking forward to--going to bed when I am tired. For me that's 10:30-11 pm. But Eric is more of a night owl so most nights we go to bed close to midnight, which is still a bit early for him and too late for me. Since our bedroom windows overlook the living room, it's hard to have separate bedtimes.

We get our new couch tomorrow! Our old one is downstairs in the front hallway, awaiting pickup by the city street dept tomorrow morning. For now I'm sitting in a solitary chair.
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Monday, February 05, 2024

It seems like the more we get done with our bathroom renovation, the more work we still have left! I primed the mezzaine, which was a long, messy job. The Zinsser BIN paint (shellac-based) is amazing stuff but it's as runny as water and it drips everywhere.

We did more wall prep for where we'll be building the boxes to cover up the plumbing and electrical conduits.

I'm making progress with my book editing, but likewise it seems that every I chapter I start to work on ends up generating 5x more new things to do before it's finished.

I'm very thankful for a relaxing weekend as this week is going to be crazy. Eric has a conference so I am shuttling the kids to all of the soccer practices and finding parking (which I am terrible at, ugh).
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Sunday, February 04, 2024

Rock exposition

We met up with friends at the beach this afternoon. Ivy and Inga went off with the other girls and did rock painting. 

Then they started burying themselves in the pebbles.

It was so good to catch up with our friends. We don't run into each other as much as we used to--usually we'd see each other mornings and afternoons at school pickup.

Dio stayed home--he's still feeling a bit unwell and he had lots of homework. Zari came for about a half hour at the end, once she had finished the bulk of her homework. She just submitted the outline for an oral presentation she's doing about "le wilderness."

We made cookies afterwards and one of Ivy's friends stayed to help.
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Saturday, February 03, 2024

"My job, it's just beach"

That sums up the best part of today: going to the beach and just sitting, relaxing, or napping. Eric and Inga and my dad were gone at a soccer tournament and Dio was sick, so it was just half of us at the beach.

I had a nice nap and serious indentations on my face when I woke up. I let Ivy take a picture.

Inga's team won 3 and tied 1 game, so they advanced to the next round. Inga scored a lovely free kick at very end, from quite far away, that won one of the games.

Dio missed his game today. He had a fever and slept most of the morning. But at least it was a friendly match and nothing too serious.
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Friday, February 02, 2024

I miss the days when the oldest kids were in bed by 8-8:30 pm! Actually more like 7:30 pm for a while :) Zari and Dio are up chatting with us and I'm so tired that I'm begging THEM to go to bed so I can sleep!

Another busy day as usual. Renovation tasks included prepping the mezzanine/loft for painting (even more prep! it never ends)...setting up the new table saw...somehow managing to saw two 2.5 meter long and 60 cm wide boards in a little basement area, with just a few cm of clearance to pass the boards all the way through...fixing a broken step on the stairs leading to the loft...

Breech work included another InDesign tutorial meeting, creating photos/graphics for new store inventory, adding those items to the store, working on the book, answering emails...

My parents and I took a walk after dinner to my favorite local consignment store. There's a carpet I have my eye on but I'm not 100% sure about it. It was fun to just look at all the furniture. Some of it is just old, or beat up, but there are always gorgeous pieces in perfect condition mixed in with everything else. It's so amazing to see the craftsmanship here. It makes me want to buy ALL of the things. Maybe in another life I would be an antique furniture buyer and exporter. But not in this life.

Inga is at a sleepover and the house feels too quiet.

Ok, now I'm just going to put my PJs on and hope the kids go to bed some time.
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Thursday, February 01, 2024

Fundraiser perks

Look at what arrived! Some of our new fundraiser perks ( Dio claimed the hoodie and says it's very comfortable.

I got the grout haze cleaned off this morning and then my dad and I tackled yet more electrical problems left by a previous owner. We have them all fixed now. The other big task for today was prepping the loft/mezzanine for repainting. Everything is taped off now.
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