This post is going to be about our Sunday bike ride, but I have to admit that coffee hour is also a favorite after-church activity, especially on the Sundays when our friend K. is in charge of the food, for she always brings (among other goodies) her famous sausage rolls and infamous monkey bread.  Everyone knows to get over to the parish hall pronto after the service when it's K.'s Sunday, because those items disappear fast.  Not exactly a healthy breakfast, but a wonderful Sunday treat.

And we followed it by a 21-mile, two-hour calorie burning spree.  (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 13, 2007 at 2:04 pm | Edit
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I've given up my search for an organic farmers' market; around here I should be happy with a farmers' market of any kind. So today we decided to check out the Winter Park Farmers' Market.

It's worth returning; it's our own little Marktplatz, with food and flowers in addition to produce. We arrived not far from closing time, so much of the produce was gone, but we did pick up some delicious Georgia peaches. I also bought a pain au chocolat from a French pastry booth, because the vendors were actually speaking French and because the last time I had a pain au chocolat I was eating breakfast with a fairy princess at her château in France. It wasn't quite as good—a little less fresh, a lot less enchanting—but delicious nonetheless. Yes, I shared it with Porter. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Edit
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Biking after church could get to be a habit.  A good one.  Last Sunday we returned to the West Orange Trail, this time heading east.  (You may recall that the Sunday before we had gone westward.)  We made a late start, having become involved in a good conversation at church.  But it didn't matter—we'd already decided that a little sunscreen would be in order.

We biked nearly 20 miles, round trip, saving the remainder of that leg of the trail for another time.  In general this direction was not as pleasant as the previous week's trip—it took a while to get out of the industrial area and into the shade.  But all trails are interesting if they're new to you, so it was a great ride.  Along the way we discovered something else new:  the Clarcona Horseman's Park, and we stopped long enough to watch some young girls and their horses being judged in a show.  What was especially interesting to me was the names of the various gaits.  The riders were asked to walk, jog, and lope their horses.  Back when I was a horse-crazy young girl, I knew of four gaits;  walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  When did they change?

And something else  has changed.  At the risk of sex stereotyping here, it seems that the horse-craze is mostly a female phenomenon; the male equivalent, perhaps, is cars.  But what happened before automobiles?  I think it was the men and boys who were entranced by all things equine.  I wonder why the switch?  Perhaps men are just interested in going places, and like best whatever is the fastest means of transport they can reasonably expect to get their hands on.  End of gender-biased rambling.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 11, 2007 at 4:32 pm | Edit
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Now I must report on my first dissatisfaction with the Swiss transportation system.  The bus we rode from the airport could not take us back there, because it disappeared overnight!  Fortunately, observant Janet had noticed that the sign was conspicuously missing from the stop.  At first we assumed this was just another of the BaselWorld alterations to the city, but she did some investigating and discovered that that particular run was not popular/profitable enough, so off with its head!  This turned out not to be much of a problem, however, as we were able to take a tram to Basel SBB, the main train station, where we could catch another bus to the airport.

Janet generously accompanied us all the way to the airport, and even waited with us until it was time to catch the last bus that would take her to church on time.  Then we reluctantly said our goodbyes, with heartfelt gratitude.  I do believe being a tour guide takes more out of Janet than performing in front of an audience of a thousand, but she does a great job of it! (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 6, 2007 at 6:58 am | Edit
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A day of rest, recovery, last-minute shopping, and…packing.  None of us wanted to think about the next day's departure; we weren't ready to part; and yet each of us was looking forward to getting back to "normal."  It was a fantastic vacation, but life is not, should not be, and cannot be, all vacation.  The pleasures and projects of "ordinary life" are the attractions that make the end of such a lovely time bearable. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 5, 2007 at 8:32 am | Edit
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When we first began planning this trip, Porter's one goal in Switzerland (besides visiting Janet) was the Jungfraujoch experience, with its cog railway and ride through a glacier, because he remembered it with such pleasure from 40 years ago.  This week we gave up on that idea, deciding that it would be better done in colder weather.  Every day has been somewhat hazy, and if you're going to spend an unreasonable amount of money to climb a mountain, the view ought to be spectacular, not merely good.  If Janet ends up in grad school here, we may have another chance.

So we settled for "second best," a trip to Luzern (Lucerne) and a cog railway ride up Mt. Rigi.  That was a lot less expensive, and made for a very nice day trip from Basel. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 3, 2007 at 5:28 pm | Edit
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What to do, now that we are back in Switzerland?  Let's visit another museum!  This time it was the Skulpturehalle Basel, which probably would have been more interesting if we'd seen it before going to the Louvre.  It is an extensive collection of copies of famous sculptures, including the Parthenon frieze…and many we had seen as originals less than a week before.  Even those were of some interest, however, as we could get a lot closer to the copy of the Winged Victory of Samothrace than to the real thing.  But mostly this museum seemed to be designed for educational presentations, another great homeschooling field trip.  Do you sense a recurring theme here?

As an unexpected bonus, the Skupturehalle turned out to be very near Janet's church, so we were able to see at least the meeting place of the people who mean so much to her. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm | Edit
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After tearful goodbyes, we traveled with our host (who had business in Paris) on an early morning TGV back to Gare Montparnasse.  Porter managed to squeeze two small suitcases, a laptop bag, and a backpack (all our luggage except for my purse and Janet's small backpack) in one of the station's medium lockers, worth every cent of the seven euros because we were then free to explore more of Paris unencumbered.

We began by crossing the street to the Montparnasse Tower.  As I've mentioned before, if all you care about is the view, this is a much better choice than the Eiffel Tower.  Unfortunately, the day was a little hazy.  I was reminded of Japan, where warm weather was accompanied by haziness, and cold weather brought great views as compensation. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Edit
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Today was another beautiful day.  We've had so many since arriving in Europe.  The week before our arrival was so cold that we brought hats, gloves, and scarves with us, and decided to rely on layers rather than heavy coats only because we were trying to travel light.

(The lady who checked us in at the Orlando airport marveled at how little luggage we were taking to Europe.  Two suitcasesone small, one medium; a laptop bag; and a backpack doesn't quite seem like a small amount of luggage to me, but I guess it could have been worse.  We were blessed by having convenient laundry facilities on this trip.) (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 4:07 pm | Edit
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Awaking before the rest of the household, I slipped outside to explore the grounds in the peaceful early morning light.  Just me, God, and the neighbor's cows.  It was what I needed after eight days of intense tourism.  We spent the morning enjoying our friends and their home.  Easter Monday is a holiday in France, and most places are closed, which was fine with us! (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 1:33 pm | Edit
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When our friends asked what our Easter traditions were, my immediate reaction was, "total exhaustion, following a glorious church service for which we had a good deal of responsibility, and into which we had put an enormous amount of time in preparation.  That was the truth for many of our favorite Easters, and it left little time and less energy for other traditions.  We had some, such as decorating eggs, having an Easter egg hunt (though not, as had been in my childhood, with the decorated eggs, as in Florida the real, hard-boiled eggs spoil too quickly in the often hot Easter weather), Easter baskets full of candy (jelly beans for me, SweeTart eggs, chicks, and bunnies for the girls, and chocolate for everyone; I couldn't interest anyone in marshmallow chicks).  More often than not, we shared the day with friends, in not-too-energetic pursuits.  As far as meals go, my family's Easter tradition was ham, and Porter doesn't care for ham, so we never really settled on anything in particular.  "Easy" was a good criterion. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 9:47 pm | Edit
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Having slept off our Thanksgiving dinner-style museum orgy, and packed our suitcases for departure, we were ready to indulge in another museum, this time the Musée d'Orsay.  The Orsay begins where the Louvre leaves off, covering more recent (but not too recent) art.  You know, Rodin, van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Matisse, Homer, Renoir, and the like.  Being a converted train station, this museum is not as user-friendly as the Louvre; that is, it was much easier to get stuck in the middle of a hoard of other tourists.  I didn't mind so much waiting my turn to get in front of a painting, but when most of the people both ahead and behind me seemed impatiently intent only on snapping a photo with their cell phone cameras, it got rather annoying.  Besides, I'm not much better with crowds than I am with heights.

Still, it was a great visit (and free with our Museum Passes).  Even this much smaller museum has 'way too much to take in on one visit.  Paris would be a great place for a homeschool year abroad! (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 1:19 pm | Edit
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Ah, to wake up in Paris, and eat breakfast in the café next door!  So what if croissants/bread, orange juice, and tea/coffee/hot chocolate for three cost $40?  When you stay with friends rather than at a hotel, you can afford not to worry too much about the meals.  It was a lovely breakfast, and the orange juice was squeezed from real oranges seconds before being brought to the table.  The orange juice was part of the package, or I wouldn't have ordered it, since I'm a Florida snob who believes that the only real citrus juice is not only "not from concentrate," but hasn't been pasteurized, and that's impossible to get at a restaurantunless the juice truly is fresh-squeezed.  So this was a delightful surprise. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 10:30 am | Edit
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Transition!  We took the tram to the train station, where we bought drinks to go with the food we had bought yesterday to eat on our trip to Paris.  Janet knew exactly what to do and guided us to the train—it helped, too, that the signs were clear and the station logically organized.  "Did you notice the border control?" she asked, as we neared the train.  Well, no, we hadn't, unless you counted the big sign labelled "FRANCE," and that was her point.  Apparently we were technically in French territory at that point, but no one had asked for our passports, nor did they when we reached Paris.  Eventually the conductor did take our tickets, but that was all. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 30, 2007 at 2:46 pm | Edit
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I thought our Sunday was exciting, until I read about the Daleys'!

It was Sunny on Sunday here, too, at least for the morning.  Porter put our bikes on the back of the car and the skies were blue and clear as we headed out for 8:00 church.  The service was glorious, with lots of great hymns—we needed to double up on the hymn board!  The 8:00 service at Messiah rocks!  (Though not literally.)  Afterwards there's always a great breakfast, at which we fortified ourselves for our adventure. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 30, 2007 at 11:45 am | Edit
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