Feelin’ lucky in Boston

So, wow.

It’s been quite an adventure these last weeks.

I’ve landed myself a new job, visited Boston to get a taste of that job, found an apartment, returned to Arkansas, had Cookiefest, threw myself a party that people actually came to, had Thanksgiving, had many a poignant goodbye, packed up half of my life with the help of my parents, sold the other half (also with the help of my parents) and drove over 1500 miles with my mom and dog to get myself to now, tonight, and the tasty memory of Indian food delivery on my tongue.

Most of you know that I’m living in Boston, MA, now, working for a non-profit called From The Top. Until my Jamaica Plain (JP) apartment is ready, I’m staying in a cute little 1 BR apartment at Taylor House, a famous B&B just a few blocks from said apartment. JP, for those who are wondering, is technically part of Boston, but it’s very different from the downtown, and according to those who know, the best place to live if one has a dog. More on that in a moment.

My mom and I completed our epic road trip last night, and then she, road warrior that she is, continued on to NH to visit her sister this morning. This, of course, came after we consumed yummy homemade scones for breakfast; have I mentioned I’m staying at an amazing little B&B? I can’t say enough about this place (pictured above). But anyway…

Today was my first day to find my way from Jamaica Plain to my job. Happily, the busses worked as they were supposed to and I got to work with no problems.

It was also Sadie’s first day on her own in Boston.

Now, I feel that I’ve been pretty stoic about this whole life change thing. Yes, there’s been the occasional moment of emotion, but on the whole, I’ve kept my chin up, pushed forward and tried to see this all as the marvelous adventure that it really is.

My move was planned down to the last moment, and despite the dubiousness of my parental units, went off without a hitch. But there was one thing I couldn’t control; how my dog would react. See, Sadie hates the car, so it broke my heart a little to think that I would subject her to 3 days of driving. She’s an Arkansas hound; how would she handle heading up to the cold north to be with those snooty Yankee dogs? And what would she do when left alone by herself in a strange new place?

She survived the car, it would seem. The jury is out on North-South canine relations, but as to the last question, get this. When this B&B was recommended to me, I learned that the owners lost their beloved dog this past summer. So I suspected that Sadie might find some new friends here. I made sure to introduce her to the guys (Dave and Daryl) yesterday – Daryl took her picture – and they idly mentioned they might take her for a walk. Today, I emailed that they were welcome to hang with her, and as I arrived home, here’s what happened.

I came down the stairs, fumbling my purse and gloves. I twisted and turned the keys, messing up the unfamiliar locks, and it wasn’t until a few minutes of this that I heard, through the door, the telltale sound of Sadie doing her post-nap shake. This tells me she was sound asleep on the bed; a good sign. Then, I opened the door, and there’s my girl, wagging and jumping about. I glanced quickly at the chair where I’d left the leash; it wasn’t there, which means she’d at least been taken out to pee. As I was sighing in delight at this small relief, I spotted a handwritten note on the bed, laid neatly atop her leash, telling me that Sadie spent the day in the kitchen with the guys AND they took her for a walk around the pond (1.5 miles). They even gave me an accounting of her bodily functions.

Y’all, I sat down on the bed, tried to give Sadie a hug as she wiggled about, and cried a little. I was laughing too, and trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me, until I realized the tears and laughter were a release of the final valve of tension about this move, the one I’ve carried the longest and with the most trepidation. Yes, this is a new place. Yes, I’m going to have to dig my car out of the snow on more than one occasion. No, I don’t have my peeps around to keep me in game nights and volleyball. No, they don’t have Hammontrees Grilled Cheese here.  I have to make new friends, do a crap-load of paperwork, and figure out the foibles of a new non-profit, but really, none of that matters. What matters is my dog has people looking out for her and I didn’t even have to ask.

It is just the most. awesome. thing. ever.  I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but I’ll take it.

So will Sadie, apparently. After wolfing down her dinner she promptly passed out again. I love the sight of a tired out pooch.

Sadie sleeping on chair

 

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Day 9 in France: Castles, castles everywhere

Ok, so this day was pretty fantastic.

We struck out from Paris in the morning, retrieving our rental car and getting back on the road.  Big news – it was sunny.  This, it turns out, is a rarity in France at this time of year, and would bode well for our picture-taking endeavours.  And on an entirely personal note, I started to feel slightly more human as my cold entered its decline.

We were bound for the Loire Valley.  Let me say that again.  The Loire Valley.  You know, that beautiful pair of words that conjures up castles and wine and romance.  I’ve always wanted to go there just to say I did.

A side note about driving in France; the road signs are fantastic.  Aside from the fact that they tell you that you get to go 130 on the highway (km, not miles, but it still feels fast) all of the various castles and attraction towns have these great big signs.  Seriously, they should be in a book somewhere.

Road signs

Our first stop was Chambourd. For those who don’t know what Chambourd is (other than a yummy raspberry liqueur), allow me to enlighten you.  Chambourd is an absolutely ridiculous castle in the Loire Valley.  It was the brainchild (and I use that term lightly) of King Francois I of France, who decided he needed a big castle for his mistress, and that he should divert the Loire to run alongside said castle.  Luckily, his retainers made him see the error of his ways about the river, but the castle is, to put it mildly, big.

The best way to describe it’s bigness is to narrate our drive up to the castle.  Sarah, in the back seat, had read to us about the history of the place, and we were just tooling along a back country road making idle chat.  Suddenly, Jenn looked to the left, gasped and exclaimed a couple of choice words that made us all laugh, and agree wholeheartedly.  This is almost exactly what she saw:

Chambourd from afar

And here it is from a little closer:

Chambord up close

Seriously.  What could Francois One have possibly wanted with 400 rooms and all those towers?  Inside was cool, literally; can you imagine trying to heat this thing?  But it was full of neat stuff, including a double-helix staircase that twists your mind – as one person goes up one side of the staircase, another can go up the other; you can see each other through windows, but will never meet on the stairs.  Confusing?  I know.  You had to be there.  And even if you were, it didn’t seem quite possible.  But it was.  Mind-bending, literally.  I loved it, even as I shook my head at the needless extravagance.

By contrast, the 2nd castle we visited was Chenonçeaux, also known as the Castle of the Six Women.

But before we get there, I have to share one of these photos.  Along the way to Chenonçeaux, we zipped by the city of Blois.  We didn’t have time to visit, but we did do a little photo stop.  Viola.5 months later, I discovered this error.  Ahem, I believe the term I was intending was “Voila.”  Sheesh.  Stupid American.

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Now, back to the Chateau of the Six Women.  Naturally, the Three Women on this trip resonated with Chenonçeaux a bit more than Chambord, mostly because it was lovely, elegant and not decorated in salamanders.   It certainly wasn’t because it was mostly designed by women.  Oh no, we would never be that gender-biased. 🙂  It’s set on the river Cher, literally; the river runs through it/under it.  The kitchens and serving quarters are actually nice places with windows and natural light, and after the gold-plated, cherub-adorned ballrooms I’ve been seeing in other palaces on this trip, the idea of a ball in this room just sounded refreshingly awesome.

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But really, the place is most magical from outside.  It’s surrounded by gardens, and the river, and when the sun sets, it looks like this:

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I know.  Disney magic, anyone?

As we left the two chateaus behind, we headed north to a little town called Becherel, where we would stay in ANOTHER chateau, this one a bit smaller and with a room available to rent for one night for a few euros.  More on that place in Day 10’s entry.  A bientot!