It's not yet 5:00 a.m and I've been awake for over four hours. At first I tried to trick myself to sleep, but then I read through missed-magazines by dim light, hoping not to wake Keith up, who has been working long hours, and who picked me up at the airport at 1:45 the night before.
The seven-hour time difference will be forgotten in a few more days, but I've always been a sometimes-four-hour, sometimes-nine kind of sleeper anyway, so the stability still won't look like eight hours at a regular time.
I'm nearly finished with the long summary below, and I see it's going to be way too boring for most people. I'm writing for my future self, but if you aren't busy and want to see a glimpse of my summer thusfar, here it is. And there are photos of quite a bit of it if you'd prefer photos. Some are in older blog posts here, and the links to collections are here: http://sandraeurope2012.blogspot.com/p/schedule.html. There aren't photos of the sad and bad parts near the end, which is probably best.
Many things have gone badly in the past two weeks, but more things went well, so there was a notable list of failure and mishap, but I was able to be hopeful and grateful through almost all of it, and when I failed I recovered fairly quickly.
In early June, I was hanging out with unschooling families and other home-ed folk in France (mostly at Claire's in Prévessin-Moëns and camping in Haute Savoie). I was in the eastern part of France near Switzerland and Italy. We could see Mont Blanc in the distance when the sky was clear, and we passed by several times the entrance to the CERN particle what's-it, so maybe part of the accelerator is under the home of my hostess, Claire Darbaud.
Claire took me to Lyon to meet her mom and sisters. Another day we went by ferry across the lake from Nyon to Yvoire. The border of Switzerland meanders and the road was sometimes in one and sometimes in another. I got to see two good medieval towns, too, and a cliffside fort, and lots of buildings in Lyon.
Even though it rained like crazy during the camping event, we had a covered area with tables and chairs for speaking in the afternoons and games at night. Because I took the little PA system I bought from DAK with me, and it has two microphones, and someone was willing to drive to town to buy batteries (we would have needed a transformer, not just an adapter, to plug it in and have it work), both Claire and I could be heard over the rain pounding on the tarp roof.
On the way back to England, I was detained by immigration for nearly four hours (having been told by one of the officers early on that they could legally keep me for four hours). I had given awkward responses to ambiguous questions, and it was later suggested I was probably good for their stats, too, as they were under criticism for only detaining people of color and non-English speakers. So I was older, female, the boring color, and spoke only English. Good for them. Poor Julie waited for me in the lobby all that time, though she did know after an hour or so that I was in detention, because they called and asked if she was expecting someone, and her answers sprung me, eventually.
I always like being with Julie, James and Adam. After some following Adam to his cool activities, and some touristing, and some resting and laundry, Julie and Adam and I flew to the Netherlands where we were met by Rippy Dusseldorp. I had met Rippy in 2009 in London and remembered her, and we have been in correspondence. She had planned a great one-day event. Julie and Adam stayed on a permanently-moored houseboat a medium walk away, and I stayed with the Dusseldorp family. Their stairs were very steep and small, and I had gone to the gym since January preparing for that and for walking around Leiden. I did okay. Better than if I hadn't been working on my leg being stronger and less flinchy and scared. Later, Rippy and I went up the tower of Westkirk, and I only felt winded after the second spiral climb. Then I realized I was excited about what I was seeing and was forgetting to breathe. :-) So on the (many, wooden) steep straight stairs, I did fine.
But back to when we got there, Julie and Adam were beloved by the whole family, and Adam and the two Dusseldorp children, Gianluca (sounds quite a bit like "Jean-Luc" [Picard], and not so accidentally) and Giselle all liked each other lots and played hard and long.
Julie and Adam went back to their house a few days before I did. That entry into the UK was smooth. I had documents and dates and phone numbers and was way ready to slip through without any stupid answers.
And that's where the story gets lumpier.
I got a message from Holly that she wanted to speak by Skype with no children around. A friend of hers had been hit by a pickup and killed, and she was in the position of informing some other friends. She wanted suggestions for how to do that tactfully and compassionately.
My computer was stolen by break-in robbers on Saturday and I got a new one on Sunday.
The week went pretty well, and the LiTTLe conference was successful, though Sunday morning Vanessa said she hadn't been able to get off the train at Ashford and had taken a taxi from Staines. I worried about our big brag that it was so close to the station, but soon another person came walking and I went out to meet her to see if she had come on the train and she had. So good!
The departure flight was delayed nearly two hours. I sent Keith an e-mail but he was so busy at work he didn't know until I called him from Philadelphia, where I had missed the connection and gotten new connecting flights (US Airways handled that part pretty efficiently, it seemed).
In Phoenix, I hurt my finger trying to throw my Burger King trash away with one hand. Instead of holding the swinging lid open with one hand and putting the trash in with the other, I put it in with one and tried to get my hand out before it closed. It skinned/cut my middle finger, and while trying to report that on Facebook, with a photo I took with Photobooth, my computer started a slowly cascading fail. I e-mailed a note to Always Learning that went through, but that's the last time I could get onto Safari.
At home I e-mailed Julie, and that's the last time I could get into e-mail. Thursday morning, it would get to the Apple, but no further.
Keith told me on the way out of the airport that Holly had called to wake him up to remind him to get me from the airport. That was going to be her task, and she and Will were to have gotten me, but not only was her trip to Yellowstone rescheduled so she was in Montana, but Will was in the hospital. "Sick" was all she knew. She has been mostly out of phone range, and didn't take the computer with her. She woke Keith up two hours too early, not knowing about the schedule change, but they talked for an hour, which made me feel better because I had been afraid to ask anything, not having heard from Keith or Holly either one for nearly three days. But they were fine.
Because Holly is on her road trip, I can use her computer (my Mac-before-last which has my info as it was three years ago, and that's fine because I mostly need websites anyway).
Ashlee is friends with Will on facebook, and went to review his case. He had gastrointestinal bleeding, had been in the hospital since late Saturday July 17, which was the day Holly had left in the early morning. Ashlee said he has had a blood transfusion. I think she said he had an infection. His e-mail and his mom's are in my other computer.
The computer: I took it to the Apple store yesterday afternoon because it wouldn't go past the Apple. Even with their programmer resets and all, it wouldn't go past that. They took it back to open it up, to make sure there wasn't something obvious, and to see if there had been water damage or whatever other secret things they can know that way.
Their summary was
Issue: Computer will not power up past EFI. Customer bought computer on July 8. Attempted to run ASD, SMc reset, reset pram. Still will not power on past EFI. Customer bought computer in England (422772015204). Computer needs to be swapped out for new machine. It is DOA. Advised customer to call AppleCare to help her with this process because she purchased computer in England. There is no physical or liquid damage on machine.
So I came home and called Apple Care. They said only UK Apple Care (or European, anyway) could actually replace it. I suggested they send this back there and give me an American one. Nope, they said. I need to take it back to the Apple Store and get them to send it in for repair, or I could wait for them to send me the paper and labels to send it myself. So I called to see if I could bring it right back, but no... I needed to make another Genius Bar appointment.
I'm glad (VERY glad) that I live four miles from the store, and not in some distant corner of New Mexico. So after being pretty cranky about the whole thing, I reminded myself that
- it DID work really well for a week and a half,
- I got to the end of my airport time in Phoenix before it began its slow cascading shut-down
- I have exclusive use of Holly's computer until she gets home
- I have the van to myself too
- and that it will be in shipment before I would even have received the labels for mailing it.
Above all that, Keith's work and kindness made it possible for me to buy another one the day after it was stolen, knowing that it would be okay if Julie's insurance didn't cover it, and if our homeowner's insurance didn't cover it. Neither one did, as it turns out. Had it cost more than 1% of the insured value of our house, some would've been covered. Good news is our house is worth more than 100 MacBook Pros.
I unpacked the suitcases Julie packed for me so well. Only two losses. The frame of the grey suitcase I bought at a shady little shop in London in July 2009 (it was already failing, and Ollie and duct taped it for me), and the plastic popcorn bucket from Legoland. It protected its fragile contents, but the bucket and its lid are both broken. That's okay. I have too many plastic containers already, but none said Legoland Windsor. My packrattery is receding as I get older, which is good.
In unpacking I wasn't really surprised to see that I had a few things for Marty, a few more for Ashlee, two things for Jeff, LOTS for Holly, and none for Keith. Well... a UK bank coin bag and some Swiss coins. And I'll give him the three Malagasy bills Claire gave me, for his foreign money box.
If I could put a photo with this, it would be the one of my finger with the cool blue casing (kind of a condom for a wounded finger) that they gave me from Burger King's first-aid kit. That photo, though, will be gone forever when the computer is wiped. I bled on their stainless steel counter, but they were already closed. Two employees were in there cleaning up when I hurt myself. I had been sitting at a table reminding myself that I really, truly do NOT like Big Macs, but I didn't want to eat a fish sandwich just 24 hours after having really good fish'n'chips from Jack's in Ashford. I had chocolate milk and apple pie there, though, before I took skin off my finger. I would rather have had cherry pie and a glass of good, cold plain milk.
I went in the bathroom to clean my finger and put the bandages on, and I cried a little, out of frustration and pain and the grossness of pulling a piece of skin off me, and not having someone to help me. Then I went out to take a photo of the blue bandage to show you all, and then began the slow slide to writing this post.
I'm all better now.
I'm sorry Holly's friend who was hit by the truck will never be better.
I hope her boyfriend Will is recovering well.
I hope Holly gets home safely in a week and some when she's due.
I spent most of yesterday with Marty, and we went to a movie. I had agreed to go before asking what movie, and he had chosen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Very sweet. I got to see images of everyday England, some of India (though not the part I had seen), and have ideas about old folks figuring out what to do, and long-lost Indian boyfriends. Quite a good movie for him to choose for me.
When we went in, there were already fifteen or so people waiting, at 1:00, for the midnight showing. They were sitting in the hallway, having had their tickets, Marty figured, for many days, but now they were waiting for good seats for the midnight show.
In England, I had talked with Ollie about handguns in New Mexico, and said I had friends with handguns, and my dad always had several rifles.
Last night in northern Colorado, a kid younger than Kirby and older than Marty shot over dozens of people, killing 14 of them.
That, too, makes me glad to be home with a 23 year old son who knew which movie I would like and wanted to spend the day with me, and a daughter who called and left a message while we were gone saying she would be out of phone range again for 24 hours or so, but would try to call again Friday afternoon or evening. I might be off sending my computer for repair, and that is nothing to be sad about, in light of the wholeness of the week.