Northern California & family visit

This one captivating picture drew our attention and instigated a two week adventure to Northern California. We left Tuesday, October 2, to discover some of the wilder parts of Northern California— but not without visiting our favorite Cork & Plough restaurant in King City along the way.

Arriving in Pleasanton and walking downtown to admire well preserved and beautiful old buildings around the town. Naturally we had our excellent dinner with wine

The next morning we noticed the chilled air but plenty of sun to keep us warm. Our next reservation was two days at  Lake Almanor. We drove down to the store- and surprise, surprise, the person who greeted us and  informed us that the restaurant and bar facility had just closed and would only be open on weekends—but, of course, the lodging was open.

Hardly any people around and having to drive ten miles to the nearest restaurant was about it for food options, and almost made us leave early- but the beautiful trees and scenery changed our minds. We ended up having a lovely dinner and enjoying some nice company.

Two days later we drove to Lassen Volcanic Nation Park; it’s actively steaming. And to find our way through and arrive at the summit we had to go around, and around, and around up to 8500 ft. altitude. Below we saw devastation–a forest that was wiped out over 150 years earlier by a volcanic eruption.

On the way to Mt. Shasta we drove through beautiful forests and made a stop at the dramatic Burney Falls.

Up next was Mt. Shasta resort for a two day stay. The cabin that we reserved was beautiful–overlooking the lake below. Only once did I see a skunk, lucky he scurried away. Our first dinner in their restaurant was excellent, but the views distracted us from eating our food!

We ate dinner there twice because of the dramatic views. (We needed many paper napkins…)

Down the hill from our cabin was the tip of the lake and on the second day we trekked along the hiking trail that encompasses the lake—okay, we didn’t walk the entire 7 miles.  We followed a few others to a handsome pedestrian bridge swatting a few non-biting insects along the way.

And on to Eureka, a lovely old town rehabbed beautifully–what a joy to see the older buildings painted and renovated.

This picture was taken by a friendly couple who emailed it to us when I told them that my camera was unusable. We all looked in awe at this beautiful “house”, formerly the Carson Mansion and now a private club.  We drooled but decided not to buy.

To the left and behind is Sky Lark Shores resort.

WWe were looking for a room for a three day stay and found a beauty in Lakeport.

First look at the picture and know that we had planned to stay for three days on Clear Lake. What a wonderful setting for two tired travelers. All the rooms faced the water with a bush on the left side of our room and with an overhang in case of rain. It was a two bedroom with a living room and kitchen but still beautiful. We walked down to the water, passed the picnic tables, to look out at the waves. Then the news. The gracious owner told us and everybody else that we had to check out the next morning because the electricity was going to be shut off at the time for the whole area; sad. Since we had planned to stay three days in Sacramento with our kids we let them know the change in plans and they rearranged their schedules to accommodate us. Sweet family and we had a lovely time with them. Even our hotel, Med Park, rearranged their schedule to accommodate us and we thank them profusely for that. Finally 3 days in one place!

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Footsteps of the Templars Part 3

8-5-12

Today was Limoux’s Farmers Market. We had to wander around before leaving, checking out the quality of the fruits and vegetables, and other wares and were much impressed. A small bag of fruit left with us. We headed for Andora via Montsegur, the last bastion of the Cathars. We drove around the foot of the mountain to a small car park, planning to hike up to the top, A narrow dirt trail led way, way up to the castle. We decided to take pictures.

Finally, standing in the middle of the trail, we looked up to the destroyed 12th century castle and gave homage to the Cathars. This final group of over 300 were burned alive for trying to establish their philosophy of life and make the world a better place. We remember you and bid adieu.

Back to the car and on to Foix for lunch. The drive through the Pyrenees was absolutely breath-taking . The first sight of Foix was the 13th century castle on a river just beyond and above the city.

In the center of town, we found the large, open-sided but covered Farmers Market with one half set up for lunch and the other filled with small stalls for shopping. There were cast iron columns with wrought iron filigreed decor on the tops supporting the roof. It is hard to get the food in your mouth when there’s so much to look at….and you use a lot of napkins.

On to Andorra….

It was a magnificent drive through; around and over the snow- capped Pyrenees. The countryside, lush with winding rivers and forests was faintly touched with Fall.

Our first view of the city was looking down from the top of the mountain to where Andorra nestled in a narrow valley. Driving through the  city was an experience. New buildings, hotels, condos all became taller and closer as the high valley narrowed.

Andorra promotes itself as a Winter Sports Resort, Right  in the center of town is an enormous chair lift… it was not operating at this time…but it could have been the ride or a lifetime.

In the 14 years since the city had become an autonomous country, it seemed to have become crowded, crass and controversial in its grasp for notoriety and money. Very interesting political background.

PARADOR LA SEU D’URGELL

On to La Seu d’Urgell and its lush parador of the same name. The Paradors were established by the Spanish government many years ago. The country was teeming with empty castles, monasteries, and nunneries.

The government bought many of them modernizing the structures to the level of 5 star hotels. You will see in the picture that they did a fantastic job. Notice the arches surrounding the courtyard of this 12th century convent. It was kept as the courtyard of the parador but incorporated with the addition of a glass ceiling dome into the main sitting room. The luxurious bedrooms were built on the far side.

I asked for a room with a terrace and spent the next hour sitting, drinking wine and watching the streams from the melting snow as it glimmered its way down to the valley. Need I say spectacular?

5-6-12

Breakfast was overwhelming and, delicious. Full stomachs, including a glass of bubbly(or two), necessitated a long walk and another night here.

We walked down to the 1992 Olympic site for water sports. A canoe practice for young people was underway with the necessary hooting; hollering and splashing. The older group following them were just as energetic but with less hooting. All the coaches and groups were well organized and the park was beautiful.

That evening we walked to dinner in the old town and found a family run restaurant, Cal Teo. Christina, daughter of the owner and our waitress, spoke good English. She had a vacation coming and wanted suggestions. Since France was only 8 miles away and she had never been there, we had many ideas. She would not charge us for the wine.

Back to wine on our patio and the fading light on the snow-capped Pyrenees. Less now than when we arrived.

8-7-12

On to Grand Hotel Rey Don Jaime in Castelldefels by the Barcelona Airport. Our concierge graciously called ahead and confirmed our reservation. It was a good 5 hour trip so we had to hustle a bit. Mike frequently moaned about the wineries being missed but I reminded him of the excellent wine list at the hotel’s restaurant.

It had been 5 years since we had made these same connections to the hotel and airport. Since then they had secretly rerouted the highway. We stopped in a small village…near, we thought, to the hotel, and using our limited Spanish, we were able to get explicit directions from the restaurant cook where we ate lunch. Bingo and a nice tip. It took about 15 minutes to arrive at the hotel.

Dinner, with an excellent wine, was eaten on the patio over-looking the lovely swimming pool and the 12th century fortress tower…all overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

The only excitement that night was looking out the room window and spotting a large boar on the ground below….with four little stripped boarlets tagging behind. Their home was probably on the hillside behind.

8-8-12

After breakfast we deposited our rental at the airport and, with the usual grace and ease, wended our way through the “priority” line for 1st class (obtained of course using miles for up-grades and calling Delta early).

Wine in the lounge and again in our hands as we sit on the plane. A good view of the mountains as the plane rises….I love those mountains.

Epilogue

In this case, some back-ground is necessary before the Journal can begin: a bit of history about the Templars or “Soldiers of Christ”. Most Americans are not familiar with these activists from the 11th century France.

Historically the Turks captured Jerusalem in 1071 which ignited retaliation from the Catholic Church. In 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade that would end with the recapture of Jerusalem and offer salvation and glory to those “Soldiers of Christ” (the Templars) who fought the Infidels. After the success of this Crusade, the bulk of the warriors left the city in the hands of a small troop of Templars for the defense and protection of the pilgrims.

In 1113 another pope approved the “Order of the Hospitallers of Saint John“ who would house and care for the “Walkers for God” pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. Then in 1119, Hugues de Payns formalized the brotherhood of the Templars as the “Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon”. Their job was to defend the Holy Land. Installed in the former site of Solomon’s Temple, they pledged themselves both as knights and monks and lived as such.

The Order of the Knights Templar was confirmed in 1139 by Pope Innocent II who placed them under his direct protection. They were a permanent militia charged with defending the Latin kingdoms. Also, in the West, they aided the Christian reconquest of the Iberian (Spanish) peninsula from the Muslims.

Meanwhile their commandaries (huge agricultural estates either given to them or that they took over) produced wheat, barley, oil, wine, wool and cattle, supplied the resources to support their military expenditures. And their teaching agriculture to area farmers benefitted everyone.

9/14/2012

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Footsteps of the Templars- Aveyron, France. Part 1

Footsteps of the Templars- Aveyron, France.

This is a location map for the sites visited.

8-1-12 Averyon, France

We left Montpellier, France on the A-75 highway to Paris. It was heavily packed with Sunday traffic and impacted with roadwork repairs. We exited for the first stop in tracking the Footsteps of the Knights Templar at the 11th century site of Covertairade.

LA COUVERTOIRADE

This beautiful walled city is set in the middle of pastoral farmlands with distant rolling hills. The entrance to the village is through huge doors that were barred from the inside during attacks. Then crossing a tiny plaza in front of a museum, we continued walking past both ancient and some refurbished houses and shops. The streets were narrow and graveled. We came to a lovely 12th century church adjacent to the castle/armory built on top of a ridge. This height gave oversight of the stream and farmlands below…a very important factor when you live on a road that leads to the ports of the Mediterranean Sea. Although these local Templars were originally concerned with teaching farming techniques and improving the livestock of the farmers, but roving bands of attackers forced them to also become protectors. Since those mercenaries, whether attacking or not all needed water, the Templars devised means for accessibility without their entering the village. Just right of the entrance gates was a single, narrow passage up a rocky hill where only ONE person could climb and fill his container from a cistern.

Randomly scattered throughout the village were small stone barns for the animals that area farmers wanted to secure during attempted seizures. Other stone structures were used for sheep shearing and butchering cattle, pigs and chickens. Both the single and double floored buildings have deep basements for storing food and animals.

Some houses have already been rehabbed for cafes and artisan shops, and when we were there, one restaurant. The wares of a weaver were advertized on the flag above his shop and below were vibrant blankets, throws and scarves draped over tables and chairs. He said the government was selling these rustic structures cheaply and in particular wanted artisans, -restaurateurs, writers and the like to buy. There were two stipulations: the owner would remodel (plumbing, electricity et al) and would live there. The benefit being one could freely sell his or her wares. Since tourism was just beginning in this area, the weaver hoped it would become quite profitable. At a nearby jewelry and trinket shop, I bought a number of items for my granddaughter…who loved them!

Hot and overwhelmed by our surroundings, we stopped for a glass of wine. The bar was in the basement of a small house and the owner motioned for inside or out. Cooler inside but more entertaining people-watching out…and soaking up the atmosphere. The quality of the merchandise we saw (and drank) would definitely be a draw.

The walled village had the typically rough rock and loose stone passage ways—definitely for rubber soled shoes only. We ended our tour at the beginning, in the information booth just across from the entrance. The agent recommended the Hotel Midi-Papillon in Saint Jean-du-Brul AND SHE CALLED AHEAD for us. What a wonderful recommendation it was!

Forty-five minutes of driving through lush green hills brought us to an old mill town and farming community of Saint-Jean-du-Brul. The lovely old Hotel Midi-Papillon was built next to a deep gorge. High wooded hills surrounded the village with a rough 13th century bridge crossing the river and a 15th century church at the end.

The Hotel fronted a small patio beside the gorge where we could partake of drinks, cigarettes, and coffee—but not much conversation due to the roaring water. The 18 room hotel was full but the attached medieval building offered the “Marquis Suite” for slightly more money. Being antiquity loving Americans, we jumped on it. Our suite was on the second floor (no elevators in 14th century houses) and the original, broad curving stone stair steps were hollowed in the middle. We didn’t need to worry about damage from dragging the suitcases up—quite the reverse. The front rustic but classic bedroom had a small balcony over-looking the street and, to the left, the 15th century Church. The bathroom had been modernized and was exquisite!

8-2-12

After an excellent breakfast finished with coffee overlooking the misty gorge, we continued our Circuit du Larzac.

LA CAVALERIE

This site was developed in the middle of the ancient north-south route connecting with the Mediterranean ports. Established for the cavalry and, most importantly, shelter for the horses; It became a commercial center supplying both accommodations and safety for travelers.

Within the original fortified walls with its enormous gate, 15th through 17th century houses were added. The structure was established by the Templars and completed by the Hospitallers. The large parking lot behind the compound conveniently has the information booth attached and offered site maps. We walked around the structure and entered by a side gate. On the inside, and attached to the front wall of the fortress, were the original 12th century single room houses. Practical people building their homes above the stables: cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter…if you could survive the barnyard odors. A large double gate at the end of the stables permitted multiple horses to both enter or exit simultaneously. Small groups of workmen were leveling the rough sod of the central plaza; covering the ground with handsome pavers and setting guidelines for sidewalks. (The tourists were coming!)

Most buildings were 2 floors including the first lower level basement where animals and farm equipment had been stored. We saw a few nicely finished structures with attractive small porches and single flight staircases. Some ground level places were setting up as stores or shops and one as a cafe..so far. Several of the rooms above were already inhabited.

Walking toward a garden area we saw a tiny 12th century church at the end. The front doors were open and several candles lit the alter with the only other light coming from a small barred window just above. A narrow control aisle and maybe room for 20 persons on the skinny wooden side benches. The atmosphere in here was conducive to silent prayer. No one was around.

It was wonderful to visit these sites before they had been converted for mass tourism…now I would like to revisit in a few years to see their progression.

After visiting La Cavalerie, we drove to the nearby area where the “Commanders” lived, now a small farm village inside the walled old fortress. The large parking lot had only one car in it although just beyond we saw a small herd of grazing sheep being shepherded by a young boy.

9/13/2012

9/10/2017

Posted in France | 3 Comments

Woman Over Board

CCOPYRIGHT 1998

Introduction

    In 1989, the ACLU came charging to my defense as a district teacher elected to the

local school board.  Marqueta Sims, representing ACLU, held the reigns, winning 5

cases in the local San Luis Obispo court.

      I wrote this play shortly thereafter …..but had to wait for those involved to either

move away or die before I could release it.  Almost everything that happened was

real….  except for the dramatic license and comedy.

       Marqueta eventually led us to Sacramento and the Educational Sub-committee ….,

who defeated us by a very slim margin. 

      After those first 4 years on the board, I retired, and of course ran again for

eight more years.

SETTING:  THE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING ROOM. LEFT, TABLE, CHAIRS, WINDOW, DOOR. RIGHT, PODIUM, COFFEE TABLE WITH COFFEE POT, CUPS, ETC.

CAST:                                       

PATRICIA

SUPERINTENDENT EEL

BOARD PRESIDENT HYDE

CATHERINE BLOOM

MR. FETCH

MRS. ETTA PIM

MR. STEWS

MRS. BLAND

ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT LIVERS

MR. FORT

CURRICULUM DIRECTOR

AUDIENCE MEMBERS

STUDENTS

TELEVISION CAMERA CREW AND NEWS REPORTER WITH CAMERAS, MICROPHONE, ETC.

TIME: THE PRESENT

ACT 1:

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING ROOM. TWO WOMEN AT THE INFORMATION TABLE PICKING UP PACKETS FOR TONIGHT’S MEETING… END UP SITTING IN AUDIENCE.

CALLY

There’s nothing on this agenda about Catherine Bloom being seated on the school board tonight. I wonder what’s happening.

PATRICIA

There was a picture in Saturday’s paper showing her official “swearing in” at the Courthouse, so there is no way the superintendent can postpone her being seated again.

CALLY

Are you serious? Would you like to bet some money on that? Take a look at the board table.

PATRICIA

Oh I see there are only four places set for the board members… there is no seat for Catherine.

CALLY

Yeah. This should be the hottest entertainment in town tonight.

(THEY SIT. THE BOARD MEMBERS STRUT IN, CHATTING SOMEWHAT OBNOXIOUSLY WITH THE ADMINISTRATORS. DURING THE FOLLOWING SCENE, OTHER MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE ENTER AND TAKE SEATS.)

SUPERINTENDENT EEL

…Well, my wife said, “Dear, would you please think about taking the garbage out when you leave?” And of course I said yes.

(CATHERINE BLOOM HAS ENTERED QUIETLY DURING THIS AND STANDS TO THE SIDE)

BOARD PRESIDENT HYDE

And of course you did.

SUPT. EEL

No, I didn’t, but the point is that I said would think about it.

 (ALL LAUGH. AUDIENCE MEMBERS ALL LOOK AT EACHOTHER AND SHRUG.)

CALLY (MUTTERING TO PATRICIA)

What?

(ADMINISTRATORS AND MEMBERS TAKE SEATS; TALKING ESCALTES. CATHERINE MOVES FORWARD AND ALL FREEZE.FOR HER MONOLOGUE)

CATHERINE

Oh my God please give me the strength and courage so that I can survive this! Look at them… behaving like little children who have done a nasty trick by removing the fifth seat, MY seat. OK, now I am pissed. Their vindictive comments on TV, in the newspaper and at the last three board meetings I could have ignored, but this missing chair is a gross insult. This is war.

(SHE MOVES FORWARD AND ALL NOISE AND MOVEMENT ARE RESUMED.)

CATHERINE

Good evening, fellow board members, administrators and members of the public.

(SHE MOVES THE PACKET BELONGING TO THE CURRICULUM DIRECTOR—WHO IS GETTING A CUP OF COFFEE—AND SHE TAKES HIS SEAT. NO ONE GETS UP.)

Oh, gentlemen, please don’t get up. I need a microphone NOW, if you please, and a name plate by the next meeting.

(THE CURRICULUM DIRECTOR GETS HER A MIKE.)

SUPT. EEL (SPUTTERING)

I told you over the phone, Mrs. Bloom that I would call you when we were ready for you.

CATHERINE

Yes, you did. And I said I would think about it.

(SOME CHUCKLES FROM THE AUDIENCE.)

SUPT. EEL (COUGHS, CLEARS HIS THROAT)

Well, Mrs. Bloom, we are not sure that your election is legal, and until we confer with. our legal opinion, we cannot allow you to participate in the activities or the votes of this governing board.

(SOME MOANS AND BOOS FROM THE AUDIENCE.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mrs. Bloom, we have invited our Roastfield lawyer to address this issue tonight.

CATHERINE

I have an obligation to the public that elected me, to be here.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Your election is very controversial.  Mr. Fetch will try to clarify our situation.

(MR. FETCH COMES FROM THE AUDIENCE TO THE PODIUM)

MR. FETCH

Board members, administrators , ladies, and gentlemen of the audience. The situation we have here is a catastrophe.

(AUDIENCE STUNNED)

We have a high school teacher elected to HER OWN BOARD of education. ANY vote she casts would be a conflict of interest!

(MOANS FROM THE AUDIENCE)

In four months the board will be voting on teacher salaries…… certainly she can’t vote on her OWN salary.

(PAUSE)

Certainly she can’t vote on administrative raises, because, one: they are her bosses; and two, those raises would take away from teachers’ salaries. Naturally she would vote against new buses, additional supplies, building expansions or anything else, because these would take away from teacher salaries.

Until we can investigate the legality of Mrs. Bloom’s election as a board member, we request that she step down and not vote on any of the board issues. Thank you.

(HE SITS DOWN)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mrs. Bloom, we would like you to leave the board until we have looked at all the legal ramifications of your recent election.

(A QUIET FALLS OVER THE ROOM)

MRS. PIM (RISES AND COMES TO THE PODIUM)

Good evening. I am Mrs. Bloom’s American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, and I would like to speak to the board.

(ADMINISTRATORS AND BOARD MEMBERS MUTTER TO EACH OTHER. MRS. PIM WAITS UNTIL THEY ARE QUIET. MRS. PIM THEN CONTINUES.)

Last Thursday the Attorney General issued his “Opinion,” at the ACLU’s request, on the legality of Mrs. Bloom’s election. I believe you all received copies in your pre-meeting packets, yes?

(SHE WAITS UNTIL THERE ARE SOME MUMBLED “YEARS” FROM THE MEMBERS AND SEVERAL ADMINISTRATORS)

I have some extra copies here for the members of the public. The Attorney General clearly stated that Mrs. Bloom’s election was and is LEGAL because there is no law against it, and the public has the right to choose. There are NO areas on which she cannot vote. He does state that since teachers receive raises according to a specific and prearranged scale, she could also vote on these raises–but since there could be a “perceived” conflict here, he recommended that she abstain on this specific issue. Mrs. Bloom has already agreed to this abstention. She is free to vote on all other areas.

SUPT. EEL

Mrs. Pim, we have had word from some members of the public that they will sue the board if we allow this teacher to vote on any issues. Therefore we would like to have our lawyers clarify the situation before Mrs. Bloom is seated.

MRS. PIM

The letter from the Attorney General does just that, Mr. Eel.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

This is absolutely improper, Mrs. Pim! In two weeks we will be doing the yearly evaluation of the superintendent. Certainly a district teacher, working UNDER the superintendent, should NOT be allowed to evaluate her boss!

MRS. PIM

But who better, Mr. Hyde?

SUPT. EEL

That’s preposterous! She’s nothing but a teacher. How dare she be allowed to evaluate me!

MRS. PIM

But it seems that this is the wish of the public, Mr. Eel. And who better to evaluate your ability to lead this school district than the teachers?

MR. FETCH (SNEERINGLY)

Mrs. Pim, without maligning you or the ACLU, perhaps there are some problems that need to be worked out. May I suggest that Mrs. Bloom wait three or four months while we work out the legality of her involvement on this board.

MRS. PIM

No, Mr. Fetch. There nothing  illegal about her election. She’s broken no laws, and the “public will” is more important than the administration’s frustration.

(SHE TURNS TO CATHERINE)

Mrs. Bloom, welcome to the board of education!

(SHE CLAPS, AS DOES THE AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

Thank you, Mrs. Pim

(MR. FETCH STORMS OUT, AND ADMINISTRATORS MUTTER AMONG THEMSELVES)

CATHERINE (ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE)

And thank YOU.

SUPT. EEL

We’ll see about this.

(RISES AND GETS COFFEE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE (HITS THE GAVEL)

Well, uh, to business. Are there any changes or additions to the last board minutes?

MR. STEWS

I move we accept the minutes.

MRS. BLAND

I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Are there any nays or abstentions?

CATHERINE

I will abstain because I wasn’t officially seated at that meeting.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Uh, well, then the minutes are accepted. The first item on tonight’s agenda deals with the overcrowding of the elementary schools in Shoreline. This will be presented by Assistant Superintendent Livers.

(ALL LOOK AT THIS ITEM IN THE PACKET)

Mr. LIVERS

You can see that we propose to eliminate the elementary overcrowding in Shoreline by busing students both south twelve miles and north eight miles where there are empty seats available in our other elementary schools. This is the administrative recommendation for the Shoreline overcrowding.

MRS. BLAND

Thank you, Mr. Livers. I certainly support your recommendation. I hope we’re not going to spend any money buying new buses?

LIVERS

We haven’t looked into that yet, but we will have that information for the next meeting.

CATHERINE

Please excuse me, but I would like some background on this problem, Mr. Livers

SUPT. EEL (TERSELY)

(BACK TO HIS SEAT)

This is NOT the time for that, Mrs. Bloom. You should have gotten that information before the meeting.

(SITS)

CATHERINE

I am sorry, Mr. Eel, but I did call Mr. Livers on Friday–let me see—I noted the times down—at three o’clock, but he wasn’t  available. On Monday I called at nine AM but again he wasn’t around. I even called your office at eleven AM and asked for a return call. But I guess you are still thinking about it?

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Oh, see here, Mrs. Bloom, I see no reason to blame the superintendent for your lack of information.

MRS. BLAND

I agree, Mrs. Bloom. Since you are just a teacher, certainly you should have more respect for administration.

MR. STEWS

If you had a question, Mrs. Bloom, you should have gone to the superintendent’s office, as I do. Now you are just wasting our time and causing problems.

CATHERINE

Well, Mr. Hyde and Mr. Stews, maybe you can give me the answers?

(PAUSES)

One, and the most immediate question is, why are we being asked to approve the administrative recommendation with such limited information? Example: Mr. Livers just said that they haven’t looked into the transportation situation, but we are being asked to approve the recommendation without any research.

Two, we have no choices! What else might we consider to alleviate the overcrowded elementary schools in Shoreline?

(LIVERS JUMPS UP, KNOCKS OVER HIS CHAIR AND YELLS)

MR. LIVERS

This is incredible! She only attends one board meeting and she’s trying to take over my job! Is that it? Do you want my job, Mrs. Bloom? Do you think you could do it better?

CATHERINE

Anyone who offers more than ONE alternative could do a better job.

(LIVERS STORMS OUT)

SUPT. EEL (RISES)

Mrs. Bloom, you’ve been here less than thirty minutes and you have already caused a major problem.

CATHERINE

I didn’t cause the problem, sir, your staff did.

MRS. BLAND

Catherine, you should just spend a little time observing how nicely we work together before you jump to conclusions.

CATHERINE

But Mrs. Bland, I’m not the one doing the “jumping” here!

MR. STEWS

This is unbelievable! She has attacked the credibility of the administration within a half hour of joining the board. Now we have Board Member Bloom who knows more than we do.

CATHERINE (IGNORING HIM)

Mr. Stews and Mrs. Bland, what are your reactions to the Shoreline elementary situation?

STEWS

I’ll vote for whatever the superintendent recommends. We pay him to take charge of the district, and we should support him.

CATHERINE

Mrs. Bland?

MRS. BLAND

Well, I’m not sure. Short of building another elementary school in Shoreline, busing the kids elsewhere is the only alternative, as the administration has so wisely proposed.

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE WITH HER STATEMENT)

CATHERINE

You mentioned a new elementary school. What are the pros and cons of that?

MR. FORT

Being newly elected to the board myself, Mrs. Bloom, I would be interested in the growth projections in Shoreline and the cost of building a new school. Maybe we could get Mr. Livers to return, Mr. Eel?

SUPT. EEL

If Mrs. Bloom would refrain from insulting the staff, I’ll see if he’s calmed down.

(GOES AFTER HIM)

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Maybe we should take a ten-minute coffee break. (BANGS GAVEL)

(SOME PEOPLE MOVE TO THE COFFEE TABLE AND SOME LEAVE STAGE. AUDIENCE MEMBERS NO. 1 AND NO. 2 MOVE TO CATHERINE, AND ALL THREE MOVE TO FRONT)

CALLY

We wanted to welcome you to the board, Mrs. Bloom. My name is Cally and this is a Shoreline parent, Patricia.

PATRICIA

Oh, Mrs. Bloom, we parents in Shoreline have been trying to get a new school built for eight years now. There are only a few of us here tonight because we’ve been ignored and/or insulted by the administration and the principals at our two overcrowded schools, and we’ve lost faith in the system.

CALLY

If you could possibly get the new school back as a future agenda item we could get a bunch of parents to stand up and fight for it again. When we met with Superintendent Eel several years ago, he talked about a District Strategic Plan for the schools. We have asked repeatedly to see this plan, and we were ignored.

CATHERINE

I remember a newspaper article last year about Shoreline PTA requesting a new school–what happened?

CALLY

It was to be “taken under advisement” and it simply died. That’s the way this administration works. They keep tabling the item until everyone eventually just gets tired and goes home.

PATRICIA

Both of our elementary schools have been crammed for the last eight years. NOW Livers comes up with busing! Over two hundred kids will be bused daily to another site either eight or twelve miles away. They will spend two hours daily on the bus, not to mention being uprooted from their original, local school and friends. What kind of solution is that? Livers ignored the demographic plan we paid for—he said that the district hadn’t approved it.

CALLY

We have been checking the district budget for a long time. Spread among different accounts, we’ve found a surplus of seven million dollars. Mrs. Bland claims they need this money for emergency.

CATHERINE

It sure seems as though insuring good, local education is an emergency, doesn’t it? I don’t know if I can help.

(HYDE GAVELS FOR THE MEETING TO RESUME)

CATHERINE

But I will try.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Everybody, please sit down; the meeting will continue. Mr. Livers has consented to continue his interrupted presentation.

MR. LIVERS (SHUFFLING PAPERS)

We have room for extra shoreline students at three different sites, two here in town and one in the other direction. We’re looking into the transportation costs now.

SUPT. EEL

There are no other choices for Shoreline, so getting the board’s approval is merely a formality. Staff will continue to explore costs and the redistribution of buses.  We are working on a Strategic Plan as our vision for the future. This plan is a precursor to any definition of site-based management, and therefore we need to move carefully.

(ALL LOOK PUZZLED AT HIS STATEMENT)

CATHERINE

How will you determine which students and what grade levels will be bused? Move students from all levels? Move an entire grade? Could you tell us the specifics of your bus plan for Shoreline?

MR. LIVERS (SCRATCHING HIS PRIVATES)

We haven’t had time to determine the process. We’ll need to confer with the principals of the two Shoreline elementary schools and make our conclusions.

CATHERINE

Then I move we table this discussion and vote until the next meeting, when the staff will present more information. Do I have a second?

MR. FORT

I second.

CATHERINE

Since staff will be doing more research, I would like to see information on the cost and possible location of a new school in Shoreline.

SUPT. EEL

You are out of line! The staff does not work FOR YOU, Mrs. Bloom.

CATHERINE

I assume the staff works for the benefit of the students in our community? And the board was elected for this same purpose?

MR. LIVERS

Here she goes again telling us how to do our jobs. She will destroy this district!

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mrs. Bloom, we work together here in support of the administration—the people whom we hired to run this district.

MRS. BLAND

Oh, really, this is just too stressful. I can’t continue working with this conflict!

MR. S TEWS

You cannot keep attacking our superintendent and the staff! You are out of order…

(OTHERS INCLUDING THE AUDIENCE, BEGIN YELLING OUT COMMENTS, RISING IN VOLUME UNTIL BLACKOUT.)

(BLACKOUT)

[END OF ACT 1]

ACT 2 TWO WEEKS LATER

(CATHERINE ENTERS AND FINDS CALLY AND PATRICIA AT THE INFORMATION TABLE )

CALLY

What are you doing out of closed session so early?

CATHERINE

They said it had to do with “administrative personnel,” and that I could not be privy to the discussion. I’ll be talking about this with Etta Pim.

PATRICIA

Catherine, we wanted to thank you for getting a new school proposal for Shoreline on last week’s agenda.

CALLY

I am sorry it got tabled, again… are we surprised? But at least it pumped up the parents who were here. They are connecting with others and rallying individual administrators to find out when it will be “untabled.”

CATHERINE

Lovely. Public pressure is an enormous help.  Speaking of pressure, would you like to support me in court next week?

CALLY

Sure.

PATRICIA

What’s happening?

CATHERINE

The district is beginning their legal attack. They are petitioning the judge for my resignation as a teacher if I want to remain on the board. Mrs. Pim is not worried about the case, but she’s concerned about the viciousness of the attack.

CALLY

We’ll be there, Catherine, and we’ll bring others. Call me with the time and date.

(MRS. PIM ENTERS)

MRS. PIM

There are some weird people around here.

(HEADS TO ONE SIDE)

I just saw a man in the parking lot holding an umbrella and wiping the rain off his car with a handkerchief.

PATRICIA (LAUGHING)

That’s the superintendent fondling his new Mercedes. He requested a special parking place at the last meeting—so his new car wouldn’t get dinged. Catherine managed to get his request tabled.

(ALL LAUGH)

MRS. PIM (LOOKING OUT THE SIDE WINDOW)

What’s going on now?

PATRICIA

Oh, my God, would you look at that!

CALLY

I don’t believe it. Board members Stews and Hyde are putting sawhorses on either side of the superintendent’s car—with “No Parking” signs on them!

(ALL LAUGH)

(OTHER MEMBERS ENTER TALKING AND GIVE A COLD SHOULDER TO THE WOMEN.)

MRS. PIM  (MOVES CATHERINE DOWN FRONT)

I thought I’d stay for the meeting tonight and see if there’s been any attitude improvement.  Otherwise, I’ll see you in court next week. We’re going to win, so hang tough, Catherine. I have to add that these people you are working with…. are strange.

(SUPT. EEL, BOARD PRES. HYDE AND STEWS COME IN, SEAKING OFF RAIN.  EEL SETS HIS UMBRELLA AT SIDE)

CATHERINE

Thanks, Etta.

(BOARD PRES. HYDE HITS THE GAVEL TO START THE MEETING. ALL TAKE THEIR SEATS. CALLY, PATRICIA AND OTHERS SIT IN THE FRONT ROWS OF THE AUDIENCE )

BOARD PRES. HYDE

The meeting will come to order. You’ve all read the minutes in your packets. Are there any changes or additions?

CATHERINE

Yes, Mr. Hyde. On page four, section C, we voted to table the discussion on a new school at Shoreline.

(MUTTERS AMONG SOME BOARD MEMBERS AND ADMINISTRATORS)

I have had a number of phone calls, as I’m sure some of you did, from Shoreline parents who would like to attend that discussion. I wonder if Mr. Livers could set a specific date for his presentation.

SUPT. EEL

You are out of order, Mrs. Bloom! You can’t put pressure on staff to prepare the items you want. They have other duties too.

MR. STEWS

Are you trying to take over the meeting again Mrs. Bloom?

CATHERINE

Mr. Eel, I fully realize that we all work for the public. Although we board members are not paid, certainly you and the administration are well compensated. It would seem that our first priority is to deal with those items that deal with the students.

(MURMURS OF APPROVAL FROM THE AUDIENCE)

Would you not agree that a new school discussion takes precedence over your new “protected” parking space?

BOARD PRES. HYDE (HAMMERS HIS GAVEL)

There is no reason to get nasty, Mrs. Bloom. The most important person in this room is our superintendent, and you need to remember that.

MRS. BLAND

Catherine, you are not following established protocol! We simply listen to the administration’s presentations and then vote to support them. We need to keep these meeting dignified and unstressful.

MR. FORT

I would like to have a response to Catherine’s request for a date on the discussion. Mr. Livers?

MR. LIVERS

(SCRATCHING HIMSELF AND GOING THROUGH HIS PAPERS. AS HE DOES WHENEVER HE HAS A REQUEST)

Ah, well, uh, we are waiting for a response from one of our Shoreline principals. Who is attending a computer conference this week. Maybe at the next board meeting?

CATHERINE

Forgive me, Mr. Livers, but we need a definite date. These parents drive an hour round trip to attend a two- to three-hour meeting. I think we have a responsibility to them.

(MUCH APPROVAL FROM THE AUDIENCE)

SUPT. EEL

Oh, I see what you are doing here, Mrs. Bloom. You want to be popular with the audience and curry their favor.

CATHERINE

If that’s what being a board member entails, then  yes, you bet I am.

MR. STEWS (SPUTTERS)

Pulling all this crap! Where do you come off, lady?

CATHERINE (CHECKS ARMS, HEAD)

Nowhere, everything seems to be attached.

MR. STEWS (JUMPS UP, KNOCKS OVER HIS CHAIR)

I can’t take this irresponsibility this…this…undermining of the administration!

(STORMS OUT)

MR. FORT (COOLLY, LOOKING AT HIS CALENDAR)

 I am looking at our next meeting in two weeks Can you prepare for then, Mr. Livers? Or when?

MR. LIVERS (FLIPPING PAPERS, CONFERS WITH THE SUPERINTENDENT)

Well, yes, I guess we can shoot for that.

MR. FORT

All right. Let’s put that down as the first item on the agenda two weeks from now, and we can give that date to the Shoreline parents.

(APPROBATION FROM THE AUDIENCE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Now, can we have a motion and second for the last meeting’s minutes?

MRS. BLAND

 I move we accept the minutes of the last meeting.

MR. FORT

I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Any nays? Then the minutes are accepted. Our next  item on the agenda is the budget. Mr. Livers?

MR. LIVERS

The preliminary budget is number three in your packet. The final budget will be due in six weeks. Are there any questions?

CATHERINE

Yes, Mr. Livers. There are a couple of areas that I find confusing. We agreed on two new school buses at the last meeting, costing approximately 85,000 dollars each, or 170,000 dollars total. Why do we have almost a million dollars in that account?

MR. LIVERS (SHUFFLING PAPERS)

Well, we always keep a reserve for “Economic Uncertainty.” This is normal practice for most districts

CATHERINE

“Economic Uncertainty”?

MR. FORT

Could you please explain what that means?

SUPT. EEL

Yes, Mr. Fort, can explain that. The state recommends that we keep about five per cent of our overall budget for “backup” in case of any kind of emergency. Let’s say we lost one or two of our buses during some flooding this year. We’d have to be prepared to immediately replace them.

MR. FORT

I believe in being conservative, Superintendent Eel, but we pay heavy insurance for the kinds of accidents that most schools have.

MR. LIVERS (SCRATCHING AND RUMMAGING THROUGH PAPERS)

I think the state just wants to know where the districts are economically.

(MR. STEWS COMES BACK WITH COFFEE)

MRS. BLAND

Catherine, this is the way we have always done it. By spreading the money throughout the various funds, we not only conserve it, but keep the teachers from trying to take it for raises.

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

Well, I can understand the need for a small reserve…but, overall, I found six million in padding throughout the budget.

(GASPS FROM THE AUDIENCE AND MUTTERS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION)

With our annual budget of forty million, a five per cent reserve would be two million.

(PAUSE)

Perhaps we can find a better use for the remaining four million perhaps a new school in Shoreline.

(CHEERS FROM AUDIENCE)

SUPT. EEL AND LIVERS (TOGETHER)

 YOU ARE OUT OF LINE!

LIVERS

Now wait just a minute….

SUPT. EEL (INTERRUPTS HIM)

You are forgetting, Mrs. Bloom, that you are just a teacher—and one we will have off this board in one week!

(HE STANDS UP AND YELLS)

You have no right to come in here and disrupt our normal process! You don’t know what you are talking about.

BOARD PRES. HYDE (BOARD PRES. HYDE HITS THE GAVEL)

We will come to order, please! Superintendent Eel, please sit down and calm down. Mrs. Bloom, you will refrain from disrupting this board meeting and from insisting the administration.

CATHERINE

Forgive me, that was not my intent.

MRS. PIM (RISES FROM THE AUDIENCE)

Excuse me, Mr. President, I wonder if I might say a few words.

(MUTTERING AMONG THE ADMINISTRATORS)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

I, uh, well….

MRS. PIM (TO THE PUBLIC PODIUM)

It relates to something the superintendent said.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

OK. Please be brief.

MRS. PIM

Thank you.

(LOOKS AT THE AUDIENCE)

I am Etta Pim, Mrs Bloom’s ACLU lawyer Mr. Eel just mentioned that Mrs. Bloom would “be off the board in one week” and I felt that statement needed some clarification. The administration, and the board, have hired a top-flight San Francisco legal firm-and I might add, a very expensive one-to take Mrs. Bloom to court next Tuesday. They have asked the judge to force her to either resign her teaching in order to remain on the board, or to resign her position on the board.

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE)

I felt, since Mr. Eel mentioned it, that the public should know.  These plans were made in “closed session” from which they excluded Mrs. Bloom. Thank  you, Mr. President

(A HEAVY SILENCE ENSUES)

BOARD PRES. HYDE (BANGS THE GAVEL SEVERAL TIMES)

All right, this meeting will come to order. Let’s discuss the next item on the agenda.

MRS. BLAND

Oh, I just can’t take this anymore much stress. There’s too stress.

(SHE RISES)

I can’t handle stress or anxiety at all… my hands are shaking . Please  excuse me, I have to Leave. I have to resign this job…it’s just too stressful.

(SHE LEAVES)

LIVERS

You’ve done it again, Mrs. Bloom.

SUPT. EEL

This is all your fault.  You are now truly destroying this board by driving off the members.

(SUPPORTIVE REACTIONS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION, NEGATIVE FROM THE AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

That’s not what I understood at the election celebration, Mr. Eel. Mrs. Bland’s husband was very unhappy that she ran for the board again and he made no bones about it. He said that you and Mr. Livers put undue pressure on her to run again, saying that she was “vital” to this administration. Certainly you are as much a part of her stress as I am.

MR. STEWS

Oh, that’s a crock, Mrs. Bloom! You’re making that up to exonerate yourself from the problems your election has caused this school district.

MR. FORT

I overheard Mr. Bland’s comments, Mr. Stews.

 (A QUIET CHANTING BEGINS OUTSIDE AND GETS LOUDER DURING; THIS NEXT SCENE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

We are getting nowhere with tonight’s agenda, Could we please get back to item three, the Preliminary Budget?

MR. FORT

Yes, I would like to see this budget spread over a three-year period so that we can see how much money was spent, in each category, two years ago, last year, and this year. Since I am newly elected to this position, _it would be easier to get a handle on the expenses.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

We have talked about this before, Ms, Fort, and personally think that’s a good idea. Mr. Livers, is it possible for your staff to redo this budget for the next meeting?

Well, uh…

MR. LIVERS (SHUFFLES PAPERS)

I think the staff can do that.

(CHANTING GETS LOUDER)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mr. Fort, would you like to make this a proposal?

MR. FORT

Yes, I would.

CATHERINE

 I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Any nays? All right. We will have the new format for the next meeting.

SUPT. EEL (RISES AND GOES TO THE WINDOW)

What is all that noise outside?

(SOME PEOPLE GO OVER TO THE WINDOW. STEWS AND HYDE GO OUT THE DOOR.)

Look at those students, they’ve got picket signs and they’re brushing against my car! What treachery is this? Why are they doing that? Mrs. Bloom, this is all your fault.

(HE RUNS OUT. CATHERINE MOVES DOWNSTAGE TO PATRICIA AND CALLY, WHILE OTHERS WATCH OUT THE WINDOW AND THE DOOR)

CATHERINE

Do you know anything about this?

CALLY (LAUGHING)

Yes. There was a board meeting about three months ago—before you were elected, and I think you were out of town at the time—where the administration asked the members to expand the secondary school day.

PATRICIA

That’s right.Eel felt “more is better” so he requested the junior and senior high students attend seven periods of classes a day instead of six. There was no consultation with parents, teachers, or, God forbid, students. The students only learned of this last month.

CALLY

And I say good for them! These kids are standing up for their rights.

SUPT. EEL (COMES BACK IN VERY AGITATED)

I need everybody to get outside and send these students home! Threaten them with expulsion if they don’t immediately disperse­­- Oh, and get their posters and signs.

(LOOKS OUT THE WINDOW)

Oh, my, they are touching my car again!

(RUSHES OUT) (CALLY GOES TO GET COFFEE. SOME OTHERS GO TO WINDOW, THEN GO OUT.)

CATHERINE

 I don’t believe this.

(GOES TO THE WINDOW, LAUGHS)

Where’s a camera!

CALLY

 What’s happening?

PATRICIA

Eel is spread-eagled over the hood of his car and yelling at the students.

(CHANTING GETS LOUDER)

[END OF ACT 2]

[ACT 3 TWO WEEKS LATER]

(CATHERINE AND ETTA PIM ARE SITTING NEAR THE AUDIENCE, DRINKING COFFEE.)

CATHERINE

Oh my God, Etta, where did you find the courage to stand alone, a female, in front of those five  snarling lawyers representing the district?

MRS. PIM

(LAUGHS, RISES TO GET MORE COFFEE, AND ENDS UP SITTING ON EDGE OF BOARD TABLE)

You simply concentrate on what has to be done.

Everything they’re doing to you is wrong, and that’s what I keep presenting to the Judge Also, Catherine, when the Judge looks at me, one female surrounded by these five howling wolves, it reflects your situation with the “Good Ol’ Boy” club here.

CATHERINE

I will never forget the comment made by the lawyer representing the Commission for School Administrators.

(SHE MOVES UP NEAR ETTA AND PANTOMIMES)

Judge Frick lowered his glasses, looked at lawyer Smith, and said, “Since you support retired teachers being on the board, Mr. Smith, why oppose Mrs. Bloom just because she’ still teaching?”

MRS. PIM (SPUTTERS AND CHOKES ON HER COFFEE)

That comment should be cast in gold!

(RISES)

“Because everyone knows, your Honor, that within a year, a retired teacher becomes pro-administration.”

CATHERINE

Judge Frick looked at me, removed his glasses, and shook while he was cleaning them.

MRS. PIM

I knew then that we had won the case.

(CALLY AND PATRICIA ENTER AND ALTERNATE GETTING COFFEE)

CALLY

Congratulations, Mrs. Pim, You did a hell of a job in court.

MRS. PIM

Thanks to you all for being there to support Mrs. Bloom.

PATRICIA

I wouldn’t have missed it. Hey, I really liked those picketing students behind Catherine when the TV crew was interviewing her.

CALLY

I think it was their chanting, “We shall overcome”  that inspired the national news to run it at 11:00 o’clock and again for two days.

PATRICIA

What’ s the present situation on the “more is better” seven-period day? Some of the students interviewed on TV came off sounding a lot more articulate than either our superintendent or board president.

CATHERINE

Tonight the board is going to vote on a commission to meet with parents, teachers, and students, and reevaluate the seven-period-day decision. But that process may be moot with the tremendous media coverage these students are getting

MRS. PIM

The American Civil Liberties Union is ready to help the students. Personally, I’ve never seen better organized rallies and protests. They are pursuing their rights in a very controlled and non-aggressive manner, and the national news made this district administration look like fools!

CALLY

I thought the TV close-up of Eel spread-eagled on his car did that!

(ALL LAUGH)

MRS. PIM

Catherine, on the downside, I just got notice from my office that the district has filed another suit against you.

CATHERINE

Oh, no.

MRS. PIM

This one is a double-edged sword. They are going to stop your paychecks while they ask the court to define what you can and cannot vote on at the board meetings.

PATRICIA

But I thought the Attorney general’s opinion did just that. He said she could vote on everything, but it would look better not to vote on teacher salaries.

MRS. PIM

And the Attorney General’s opinion will be my “gold card” in this next trial. Catherine, can you live without a paycheck this month if the case isn’t settled by the first?

CATHERINE

Yes.

CALLY

I just don’t believe these guys. I head through a friend in another school district that Superintendent Eel promised the Commission of School Superintendents that he, and he alone, would “stomp out this infamy of a teacher daring to confront the administration.”

(ALL LOOK AT HER AND GROAN.)

CATHERINE

A brave statement by a man who cries over “dings” on his car.

(LAUGHTER)

PATRICIA

Catherine, what do you think is going to happen with Shoreline tonight? I understand that the parents plan to pack the audience—and some of them are looking for blood.

(NOISE OF PEOPLE ENTERING)

Whoops, here they come. See you all after the meeting.

(BOARD MEMBERS AND ADMINISTRATORS ENTER. SOME GO FOR COFFEE, SOME TALK, AND SOME SIT AT THEIR SEATS.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

If you all would sit down, we would like to begin the meeting.

(POUNDS THE GAVEL)

Thank you. Do we have anyone who wishes to make an “unscheduled public appearance”?

MRS. PIM

Yes, sir, I do.

(SHE GOES TO THE PUBLIC PODIUM.)

I am Mrs. Etta Pim, Mrs. Bloom’s ACLU lawyer. I would like to announce both to the board and to the public that, last Tuesday, Mrs. Bloom won the case that the district filed against her.

(CHEERS FROM THE PUBLIC AND MUTTERS FROM THE ADMINISTRATORS)

I would also like to announce that the District has filed another suit against Mrs. Bloom that will freeze her salary.

(ABSOLUTE QUIET)

This forth coming trial will be in Judge Frick’s courtroom, 10:00 AM next Tuesday, and you are all welcome to attend. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE FROM THE AUDIENCE AND NEGATIVE COMMENTS TOWARD THE DISTRICT)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Uh, well, if there are no other “unscheduled appearances,” I will entertain a motion to pass the minutes of the last meeting.

MR. FORT

I move we accept the minutes.

CATHERINE

I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Anyone opposed? All right, the minutes stand as written. Our first item on the agenda tonight is the overcrowded Shoreline situation, and it will be presented by Mr. Livers.

MR. LIVERS (SCRATCHING, AS USUAL)

Uh, if you will turn to page seven of the board book, you will see that staff did an excellent job of gathering all the information requested by various board members. You will see in A-1 that we could get by with transferring as few as 50 students. Our recommendation is to bus all the first grade students to two other district schools where they can be absorbed. Our only cost would be two new school buses.

MR. STEWS

Good recommendation,   Mr. Livers, and I applaud the administration for its effort in bringing this information to us so quickly.

(GROANS FROM AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

Since this is your recommendation for next year, Mr. Livers, what is the plan for the following year? If the population grows, as is predicted, will we then bus the first and second grades? And the year after, the first three grades?

MR. LIVERS (ANGRY)

Mrs. Bloom, you are micro-managing again. I do believe that my staff knows more than you.

(A GROWLING FROM THE AUDIENCE CAUSES MR. EEL HAS TO GRAB LIVER’S ARM AND PULL HIM DOWN.)

MR. FORT

A one-year plan is unacceptable. We this board of trustees, are concerned about a long-range plan, and one that can benefit-our students. A 160 thousand dollar expense for two school buses for a single year’s plan doesn’t make any sense.

(CHEERS FROM THE AUDIENCE)

SUPT. EEL (EYEING THE AUDIENCE)

Now, Mr. Fort, You know that we are working on a long-range plan that should be agreeable to most everyone,

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Uh, maybe this would be a good time to hear from members of the audience.

PATRICIA (GOES TO THE PODIUM)

I would like to speak to the Shoreline issue. As PTA President for one of Shoreline’s elementary schools, I represent a large number of the parents. If you remember, our PTA met with the board last year, and, for the seven years prior to that, we continually met with the administration, asking, then begging, for another elementary school. Three years ago, Superintendent Eel said, and I quote, “We are working on a Strategic Plan as a precursor to any definitive educational plans.” We have asked frequently to see that “plan” and were ignored. You rejected our demographic study because the district hadn’t pre-approved it. Therefore, your recommendation tonight is totally unacceptable.

(CHEERS)

We don’t want any of our students bused when you have the money available to build another school. Your job is not to save money for “economic uncertainty,” but to do what is best for the students of this district. And that is to build another school.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS FROM THE AUDIENCE; ADMINISTRATORS NERVOUSLY CONFER WITH EACH OTHER.)

(CALLY GOES TO THE PUBLIC PODIUM. SHE HAS THE BUDGET WITH HER AND USES IT AS NECESSARY. A BRIGHT LIGHT COMES ON HER AS A TV CREW BEGINS TO FILM HER)

CALLY

I would also like to speak to the Shoreline issue. After studying the most recent budget, we found over six million dollars tucked away in various accounts.

(REACTION FROM THE AUDIENCE)

 If any board member so desires, I can tell you the pages and item numbers of these accounts.

(ADMINISTRATORS NERVOUSLY CONFER TOGETHER WHILE BOARD MEMBERS, OTHER THAN CATHERINE AND FORT LOOK FRIGHTENED. MR. STEWS STANDS UP AND YELLS.)

MR. STEWS

This is totally unacceptable!

(UNTIL TV LIGHT SHINES ON HIM AND HE ABRUPTLY SITS.)

(BOARD PRESIDENT HYDE KEEPS LOOKING AT THE ADMINISTRATION BUT GETS NO SUPPORT FROM THEM.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Well, OK, if none of you requires that information, I’ll come to the point. Maybe we could take four and a half million dollars from these accounts, still leaving the district two per cent for “economic uncertainty,” and build a new school in Shoreline.

(PAUSES. HUSH FALLS OVER THE AUDIENCE.)

CATHERINE

I move that we take four and a half million dollars from the budget and build a new school in Shoreline.

MR. FORT

I second the motion.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Well, I, uh, Superintendent Eel?

SUPT. EEL (RISES, AND THE TV LIGHT SHINES ON HIM)

This, of course, was our long range plan, and provided for in our wonderful Strategic Plan. Under the circumstances, I don’t see why we can’t move it up.

CATHERINE

I call the question.

BOARD PRES. HYDE (TV LIGHTS ON HIM)

The question has been called. We will do a roll call vote on the motion to build a new school at Shoreline. I will call for the vote alphabetically. Mrs. Bloom?

CATHERINE

Yes.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mr. Fort?

MR. FORT

Yes.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

 I vote “yes,” and Mr. Stews?

MR. STEWS

Yeah.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

The motion passes.

(CHEERS AND DISTURBANCE FROM THE AUDIENCE, CALLY AND PATRICIA DANCING IN THE AISLE.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE (SHOUTS)

We will take a ten-minute break.

(SUPT EEL STARTS GLAD-HANDING THE AUDIENCE AS THOUGH THIS WERE HIS IDEA.)

MRS. PIM (COMES UP TO CATHERINE AND HUGS HER)

I can see why they so desperately want to get rid of you, Catherine!

CATHERINE

When people have had enough, they become very powerful.

(PATRICIA AND CALLY JOIN THEM)

Good job, you guys… and well done.

(A FEW HIGH-FIVES OR HANDSHAKES)

MRS. PIM

What’s next on the agenda tonight?

(A LOW CHANT OF “WE SHALL OVERCOME” BEGINS AND RAPIDLY ESCALATES)

Oh, no. The students are picketing this meeting?

CATHERINE

Absolutely.  What better time? If you really want to see something funny—watch Superintendent Eel.

SUPT. EEL (HEARS TRE CHANTING)

Oh, my God, they’re back, and they are going to “ding” my car! Stews, Hyde help me protect my car.

(AND THEY RUN OUT SIDE DOOR. ALL FREEZE.)

END

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The Transformation of Breslau, Germany, to Wroclaw, Poland

WroclawThis marvelous Town Hall dominates the main square (Rynet) in Wroclaw  and has for the last seven centuries. Originally only a single story after  the ruinous Tatar sacking in 1241, it now presents the late Gothic Style from the 15th century.

Our first meal in Wroclaw was lunch in a Greek restaurant directly across from the Town Hall.  An added dimension to our introduction to the city was 100+ cap and gowned university students “graduation” ceremonies right in front of us.  At the end, one of the thrown caps landed next to Mike…who, as an ex- softball player, sent it back. The owner applauded his throw!

After lunch, and looking for a hotel, we spotted St. Mary Magdalene’s Church.

The Cathedral

Because of the many tourists, we slipped down a side street….right to the Hotel Quebus. While I went in to check it out, Mike got the car and parked in front. A young, energetic hotel employee ran out, grabbed the luggage and started in when Mike yelled “Wait, I don’t know if my wife checked in yet!”  The guy answered “Doesn’t matter, I’ll bring it back out…it’s my job.”

The Qubus Hotel

“Come on” I said,” the clerk said if we like the room, it’s ours for 2 days.” And it was charming, more so because it had 2 nice armchairs. Best of all was a small balcony that overlooked one of St. Mary’s flying buttresses and a bit of the town.

Our top floor balconyWonderful location and free parking.

Early that that evening we continued our walk-about and found a Restaurant.  Noticed that pedestrians were not crossing the central area and wondered why.

Dinner the first night

We sat under the awning (with heaters)  and watched strolling people….and the central fountain spraying. (Apparently everyone knew except tourists!).  The water changed heights and colors and suddenly the front of the restaurant was packed……probably with locals hoping to see some wet and surprised tourists.

Center SquareWe had a marvelous waiter/university student and history major who spoke fluent English.

He talked about WWII (his thesis) and the bombing of Breslau.

Another picture of devestation

Behind (and beneath) this beautiful city, we now see a story of ruin and devastation. Originally Slav, then for centuries German as Breslau, then populated by Poles from the Soviet Ukraine city of L’viv, after the war.

And another

During WWII, The Nazis decided to turn the entire city of Breslau into a fortress but only managed to hold out for 4 months against the Red Army, capitulating on May 6th, 1945.

Injured and leavingThe fighting left 70% of the city in ruins and three quarters of the civilian population fled west.

Ironically St. Mary Magdalene’s 14th century church survived the war only to be partially destroyed 3 days after liberation when the Soviet’s munitions, stored inside, accidentally exploded. It was rebuilt in the 1970’s.

After the warThe survivors  are climbing up through the rubble to start over! The last person is only half way up.  These statues were built on a street corner as a reminder.

04/19/2015

8/9/2019

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Russia: an overview of a long trip.

First stop, Suzdal

This is the picture of our lodging at the Art Hotel Nikolaevsky, Posad. Looking closely on the left the building with three green roof tops is where we stayed in a lovely suite. The red roofed building with the blue roof was reception-dining-bars- and hotel rooms.

Never leaving the grounds, a guest would have swimming pools, three different restaurants, a church, and sports fields.

This dinning area is in one of the green roofed areas and doubles as a cock-tail lounge and for “star watching”. Unfortunately those two days during then night time it rained but there were splits in the clouds and you could see the stars above. Beautiful. Like it was doing right here, this was late afternoon and some of the clouds were moving in.

Suzdal served as a royal capital when Moscow was a cluster of cow sheds. The monastery was founded in the 14th century and grew mighty in the 1600th through the 1700th century. While Mike went to see the inside, I remained in the car, safe from the rain and the cold, and just read about it.

Rural Russia is quite beautiful and the towns are rich in history (Often quite a bit of sad history)

Next Stop: Moscow

Arrived around 1:00 PM and checked into our hotel Pushkin. And proudly shown into our split-level suite. She said welcome to our best room in the hotel and stopped. Looks at my cane. I look at her, and at the stairs, and at the cane and I said, “Do you have an elevator?”

And we were changed to a nice first floor room.

But there was an elevator anyway.

Our guide Natalia led us to the Kremlin and Red Square the next morning. Cold and drizzly but walking was good, but not for all of us.

This is the Kremlin. It was a fortress of old, and now is the present seat of government. It sunk 49 feet into the ground so as not to dwarf the other surround buildings, the State Kremlin Palace is the Kremlins only modern building.

Saint Basil Church. I had to go back and rest up to continue walking. (And maybe a glass of wine too.)

At the top is the State Historical Museum (Red building with two towers) to the left is the Grand Kremlin Palace and at the bottom is the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral.

And look at this picture, boy I am sorry I couldn’t make that walk.

On to: Saint Petersburg

Saturday October 7th, we took two trains to Saint Petersburg and arrived at 7 PM: A mob of train people- including, “Taxi hunters” hustling at exorbitant prices. If you were dragging luggage you were a victim. Mike kept saying, “Too much.” Until he got a reasonable price.

Our destination was the Helvetia Hotel, and what a very good choice.

The entrance always boasted two armed guard, (guns in holster and under jacket), who didn’t allow you to enter the hotel or even courtyard without reservations.

We vistsed the the Aurora Ship the next day which was used to counter attack the Bolsheviks in Saint Petersburg as they attacked the parliament while it was in session at the Winter Palace. This revolution was in October 1917.

The Aurora revolutionary ship. It fired its gun, one shot, to provoke the Revolutionaries to storm the Winter Palace. Here was the seat of the provisional government that the Bolsheviks planned to over throw- and did.

We did move on because it felt that the gun was aimed at us- along with the frosty air, and also it might be the fact that we are from California. The ship was preserved as a, “Historical Reminder”.

(This is not an evil spirit protecting… but a green bush after rainfall that looks alive.) Figured that with all the sideshow on the river boats and with the Aurora that you might be interested in seeing some of the elegance distributed by the wealthy. This one is Catherine’s Palace.

 

What can one say about such elegance and beauty? This was only one of the three Catherines’ Palaces.

The leaves are falling, time to go in.

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Masada

Masada

Masada! One of the oldest and most glorious places I have ever seen. We saw the classic, Roman buildings from the 1st century BC on the very top of this 6,ooo year old Chacolithic Period site. Today it is crammed with people from all over the world coming to see and visualize our past as a people. And perhaps to learn from it.

This archaeological site tops the rock mountain at 1,300 feet above the Dead Sea. The ancient Roman fortress, built by Herod the Great in 31BC , became the 20th century symbol of Jewish heroism. UNESCO World Heritage Status evolved in 2001.

Cable Cars

There are two ways to travel to the top: walking the Snake path (curvy, stony, and hot), or taking the Cable Car. Easy decision! You can see the top of the Snake beneath the cars. Obviously the structures were build around the mountain rim for protection. The center plateau was used for farming and cattle/sheep raising. For this water was essential but scarce.

Calidarium

Herod had water chambers dug around the bottom of the mountain with channels catching and carrying the rainfall into the cisterns. Then donkeys were used to haul the water to cisterns at the top. Now, with aquaducts and sufficient water, Herod created a bathhouse complex.

Masada3

The water was heated, passed through pipes into the saunas and eventually funneled into the swimming pool. Incredible.

This Hanging Palace, a 3-terraced structure, was Herod’s personal quarters. If you look closely there appear to be three giant steps down the mountain side. And there are. The top level holds the throne room that opened out to a courtyard. On the back wall behind the throne, we were able to see faded wall paintings. These were the original drawings and it was magic to stand there visualizing the artist working on them. The second terrace contained the meeting/conference quarters, while the third level was the family living area.

Synagogue

The incredible discovery that this synagogue, presumed to be the oldest in the world, has ties to the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The skeleton excavation so far sheds light on this ancient House of Worship. Standing at the edge of Harod’s courtyard, we could just see the Dead Sea beyond and the salt mounds that pepper it. Makes me hungry.

Dead Sea

Leaving Masada we prioritized our needs as air conditioning, food and wine. While driving along the Dead Sea, a surprise Las Vegas appears. A compound of large hotels and restaurants situated along the shore.

Dead Sea2

Shortly we sat in a lovely, cool restaurant, drinking wine and watching the beach activity. Mobs of people, young, old and families plunged in and out of the warm water and lounged under roofed cabanas. Apparently there are wonderful health benefits from swimming in this super-saturated salt water.

Ein Gedi Kubbutz3
Ein Geddi Kubbutz

We checked into Ein Gedi Kibbutz Hotel about mid-afternoon. This family styled hotel was located about a half mile up the mountain.

And this was the view we had from ourback patio.

Ein Gedi Kubbutz2

They closed our wonderful pool at 5:30 so everyone would make a timely arrival the family-style dinner buffet (which closed at 8).

While walking to the dining hall, the lowering sun began its slide toward the Dead Sea.

And tomorrow we have but an hour’s drive till we reach Jerusalem.

Jerusalem1

Tel Aviv: the new Face of Israel

Tel Aviv3

Arriving at 5pm in Tel Aviv, through Security and into a rental car, we dashed to our reserved Lusky Suites Hotel with the sun-lit Mediterranean Sea and the promenade viewed from our balcony.

Tel Aviv4

Tel Aviv was created in 1909, when the Jewish National Fund purchased land among the dunes north of the old Arab port of Jaffa and named it Tel Aviv “Hill of the Spring”.

While not a beautiful city in its self, its rebel but friendly attitude and vitality are most appealing. Dinner that evening, overlooking the Mediterranean shore, was alive with people of all ages and many cultures, walking, sitting but most of all, socializing, along the promenade.

With only 2 days here, we planned the first for a walkabout of the Bauhaus buildings which received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2004. This was a pre-Nazi German architectural style of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The over 4000 Bauhaus buildings have earned Tel Aviv the nickname “The White City”.

Building2

As an architectural form, the buildings are based on functionality rather than glamor but the elongated balconies and rounded corners vastly appealed to me. Some of them are sensually appealing and I wanted to run my hand over them.

Building4
Old Jaffa

THEN OFF TO JAFFA, one of the most beautiful ancient sea ports in the world! According to to the Bible, Jaffa was built after the great flood by Noah’s son Japheth.

Remains have been unearthed dating back to the 20th century BC ,  establishing this site as one of the world’s oldest ports. After a decline in 1948, it revived as a center for arts, crafts and dinning. We can vouch for the food, sea view,  salty breeze and the beautiful antiquity of this ancient site.

We found the Visitors Center on the main plaza just in time for the “English” tour of the “Underground” . Down one level was a museum with many relics: statues, working implements, part of a fishing boat and the like from hundreds/thousands of years ago, all excavated from from this site. Our guide told us who used them and when. Unbelievable.  How many cultures passed through and left their mark??

Old Jaffa2

Two stories down we found the on-going excavation of a Greek village. The stairs took us down-and-around  the walls and room of a typically ancient house opening to a section of the forum and a water well. The excavators were not the least bothered by our passage. The guide said they had many more levels planned for digging. (That’s probably why the workers were smiling!)

At the end of the tour,  we were led to an enormous circular viewing screen. A marvelous 3-D video of the history of Jaffa was presented. I wanted to see it again but our guide said another group was entering and another language would be used. (Dam)

Hot and tired, we headed back to our hotel. Later we walked to an outside Kosher restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea  and sipped an excellent wine.

Tel Aviv

07/20/2013

Korazim Park

Caesarea, Isreal- second part of our trip:

This picture is the entrance-or exit  to Korazim National Park which includes  all of Caesarea.

We saved the Treasure of Caesarea for the last, and it was spectacular. A Saturday with good weather equals crowded. The area was so spread out that the crush  didn’t matter.

This next picture shows the original (excavated) port area. Herod the Great, in 29 to 22 BC, built this magnificent city on the site of an ancient Phoenician port and dedicated it to Augustus Caesar. The Crusaders, in the 12 th century, revitalized the city as a major port.   In the late  13th century, the Mamelukes destroyed all of it. Caesarea was then reclaimed by the sands   until the ruins were found in the 1940’s. It is now one of Israel’s major Archaeological Sites.

Caesarea

Looking more closely at this second picture, you get a good overview of the excavated sites. The original port…

This picture is the entrance-or exit  to Korazim National Park which includes  all of Caesarea.

We saved the Treasure of Caesarea for the last, and it was spectacular. A Saturday with good weather equals crowded. The area was so spread out that the crush  didn’t matter.

This next picture shows the original (excavated) port area. Herod the Great, in 29 to 22 BC, built this magnificent city on the site of an ancient Phoenician port and dedicated it to Augustus Caesar. The Crusaders, in the 12 th century, revitalized the city as a major port.   In the late  13th century, the Mamelukes destroyed all of it. Caesarea was then reclaimed by the sands   until the ruins were found in the 1940’s. It is now one of Israel’s major Archaeological Sites.

Looking more closely at this second picture, you get a good overview of the excavated sites. The original port is submerged.  If you look to the right, you can see the long, curving arm that protects the sunken port. There are choices to view this: swimming/scuba diving or seeing the films. We chose the movie which included the port foundations and parts of sunken ships. Excellent! Finally, looking straight ahead at the same picture, the Roman Amphitheater looks like a brown donut.

Amp2

This is a more defined view of the fantastic job the Romans did on the 2nd century amphitheater.  Now, fully restored, it accommodates over 4000 people  and hosts operas and concerts. Music…..with a view over the Mediterranean. What a magnificent site.

Next we approached Crusader City and the church.

Pamphlet3

The deep ditch in the foreground is the end of the 11 mile aqueduct that Herod the Great commissioned to carry water from a nearby mountain.  The aqueduct was built on arches that allowed for a constant influx of fresh water to the city. Magnificent feat! Above the aqueduct is the side view of the temple of Augustus and the Crusader Cathedral which is still being excavated.

Cathedral2

This beautiful, vaulted Cathedral, although smaller than present day standards, is exquisite. The building was dedicated to St. Paul and built on the site of an earlier Byzantine church.  Not crowded inside, only the waves were heard. And no one spoke. Caesarea, backed by the blue Mediterranean Sea, offers the world its staggering, ancient ruins. Successive  phases of occupation have left a treasure trove of archaeological  remains. And all this began in the 4th century BCE.

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The beginning of our Florida family visit- Wonderful!–But the ending was tragic.

All the tickets and reservation times seemed to gel together and our neighbor Jane, is driving us to out new airport terminal. Our flight to Miami, Florida was over four flights using some home miles to ease into first class seats- but not first class wines…

Mike questioned the stewardess about this (poor wines) and she said, “Good ones are only used on international flights.”  We arrives at 3 AM at our favorite hotel, The Grand Palms resort, where we’d be staying for the week.

Breakfast at 10:00 AM and was complimentary, Mike and I managed to arrive 5 minutes before the deadline. And they smiled at the tip and said, “Anytime!”

We decided to take a walk on the golf course right in front of us and we were really lucky only one ball came near us.

Need for more exercise so we headed for Hollywood Beach on the Atlantic Sea. We drove through the recent high rises and tried to figure our which one was out president hang-out, not to throw stones but maybe something…

After we bypassed the high rises we found parking lots galore, minimal of which charged $40 bucks! Mike having been there as a youth knew where some of the secret spots were and found us an empty and open space for free.

When we got out of the car and headed for the beach I was traumatized by the beauty of it.

We walked along until we saw a couple exit their table and we almost ran for it. No fights. The further you look out on the Atlantic the deeper the color becomes.

Later on the afternoon we went to visit Mike’s brother, Chuck and wife Marlene and daughter Toon. Chuck had reserved a Cuban restaurant for that evening.

Arriving on time, we were taken by the concierge to a small dark corner room. “Wait!” I said “There are several oval tables near the front that are vacant.” “Oh, those are reserved for parties of 4.” The concierge responded. And I turned around and counted, “We’re a party of four…” He looked stunned for a moment and looked us over and said, “Please follow me”. It was that best meal and best table I’ve had in a long time.

The next day we dined with Syl- Mike’s oldest sister. They frequently called and kept each other apprised of the information about the family members. It was a lovely meal but otherwise jammed packed with kids who loved to scream.

The following night was a meeting of available family members at, “The Big Fat Greek Restaurant.”

Left front row to right: Mike, Caroline, nephew Jeff with wife behind him Laura. Niece Beth and Beth’s husband Michael and Mike’s sister Sylda in between.

Good food- crowded- lots of families. And charming was the water way to the side of the building filled with screaming kids… along with their parents at the sight the sight of the Manatees.

To be continued…

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Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark

Freefall at the Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tivoli Freefall

We took a cab from the airport to our Copenhagen Plaza Hotel and checked in. Stepping out on our 4th floor balcony I was delighted to see the main train station on our right and directly across the street was the Tivioli, one of the most beautiful amusement parks in Europe. Timing was everything! Suddenly, what looked to be a giant umbrella arose from behind the park wall and opening gracefully began to climb. It slowly spiraled around swirling out the tethered chairs attached beneath. The sounds of scared laughter rose with it until the flying seats were parallel to the park ground 5 floors below. I was reentering our room when the shouting lessened and the  umbrella began to close, descending to earth.Copehagen train station

A train came noisily into the station and distracted me from this wild ride that both fascinated and terrified me.

The weather was bits and pieces of chill with a few drops of rain but we needed exercise after a very long flight from San Francisco. We headed out on the pedestrian zone to do a walkabout. Because the cobbled-stone streets can be slippery when wet, we crowded in with the others sharing the narrow sidewalks. We spotted a “Plank Steak House” serving spare ribs and caught a couple of seats next to the fireplace. Excellent meal. Back to the hotel and the balcony to watch the fascinating Freefall again.  The umbrella was rising and the vocal whoopla was beginning……but this time there was one voice that screamed in panic. As it crescendoed into piercing shrieks, the Freefall’s ascent  slowed and then stopped. Then it began to lower. When it reached the ground, it was quiet.

A few minutes later it rose again trailed by the normal yells of delight and fear.

Now I felt really comfortable with this wild and scary ride.

Tivoli Gardens

The next day we walked through the park entrance….and the area was so large that without the map we would have been lost. Rides, restaurants, gardens, shops, ponds…it was wonderful, and vital. We spent hours. This is a city and country that we plan to revisit.

Copehgane River

4/13/2013

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Andorra

The culmination of our parador trip ended (May, 20th 2017) in the principality of Andorra as we crossed the French Alps.

The population of this whole country is 80,000 although not seen in this picture. Then as we drove through this breath taking beauty we arrived at an entrance way to the City.

Shortly thereafter we stopped for an overview for as much of the country as we could see, what with the Alps all hanging around.

 

This country became independent in 1993 and had its first democratic elections. This country became independent in 1993 and had its first democratic elections. Before that time it was the autonomous state of both the French and the Spanish since 1278.

For many years now Andorra has been the tax free paradise for shoppers and changed from the Peseta to the Euro in 2002.

 

As fascinating as the country is- we were on our way to a wine tasting area near by- and what a trip that was.

This was the overview of our room, looking up, down, and around at the magnificent Pyrenees. With all the tree coverage and homes we wondered where the Devil the wine growing was going on???


Although this Patio is not overwhelming, it made up for it as night with the sound of the river cascading down the hill side behind it… and lulled us to sleep.

The next morning the hotel owner and vintner told us that we would be going up to his winery driven by his second in command.

It started off basically at ground level and transitioned immediately to steep curves, and suicide curves, every time we went around a corner I almost fell off the back of the truck. But the driver just kept laughing and said, “It gets better.” “Better than dying?!” I asked.

When we stopped at the top my legs had to quit jittering before I could get out of the truck. But the magic words, “Come, let’s taste this wine.” Looking around and down, and down, and down. God knows how they grew grapes on this magnificent mountain.


These giant distillers were shiney, modern, and clean— and loaded with wine. We drank, smiled and drank some more. I asked out driver how we would get down, would we be going down the same way as we went up? I’d rather walk… He laughed and said, No, we have an easier way down. And I asked why he didn’t do the easier way up? He responded, “More fun this way.” Mike chimmed in, “Yeah, but I need another drink before I get on any winding road again.”

9/26/2017

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