Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anniversary guest blog by David

Okay, I wanted to write something mushy and sweet about David, but he's much better about expressing public love than I am. Besides, I re-read this this morning, and it made me cry. It was from our wedding blog, which we posted over at

by David, July 18, 2011

***Cheesy Love Alert***

Also, no good jokes.

As we head into the final few days before the big day, I feel like I’m learning stuff so fast that I can begin to teach some advanced classes.  There have been so many lessons in the last few days that I’m keeping them for the book we write.  So I’ll share the number one.  I’m pretty sure this will hold on as the most important thing planning a wedding can teach you.

Planning a wedding is like Navy SEAL training.  Leaving aside the sleep deprivation for now, I always understood things like Navy SEAL training as a series of ridiculous circumstances that you may never encounter that help prepare you for the ones you will.  Well, that is what wedding planning is.

When you plan your wedding you have to deal with the most ludicrous situations that you will ever see – you will make life and death decisions concerning your 3rd Aunt once removed on your mother’s side (who not only have you not met, you’ve never met anyone who’s met her), you will tackle and sit on a person who has yet to RSVP until they decide on steak or chicken, and you will deal with stress levels that would put The Duke in a pickle.

Some folks can hack it, some can’t – Survival of the Fittest!

What have I learned form all this self-imposed insanity you ask?  I’ve learned that this is the point.  This is a test.  If you can’t handle this easy stuff, there is no way you are ready to spend the rest of your life with this person.  We’re all worked up about a party for something that could have happened last week in the Judge’s living room for all anyone knows.  If we can’t get through this, how are we ever going to be able to not go bankrupt, handle bailing our kid out of jail, or not kill each other in the nursing home?

It’s also important how you handle it.  If we don’t treat each other will love and respect no matter how much we want to stick out or tongues at one another, how will we plan our future or have anything to talk about at that same nursing home?

The planning of your wedding is literally the final examination of whether or not you should spend the rest of your life with this person.

As I sit here jamming to Carole King, I remember the night last week when I learned this valuable lesson.  I was standing in our kitchen looking through the doorway at Brigid in our dining room.  We were at threat level Orange on the frustration level.  Things had gone quiet.  It was one of those moments where you know that the next thing to happen will be bad.

Right before she walked away, I saw in Brigid’s eyes (behind the bloodlust) that we had passed the test.  Suddenly, all that mattered was that overwhelming look of love.  All the anger, the irritation, the pressure, didn’t stack up to a hill of beans compared to how much she loved me.  And I knew it.  I felt it.  Once I thought about that, I realized that I felt exactly the same way.  Take that, test!  We rock!  Team married!

In that moment, I knew that without a doubt I was intended to spend the rest of my life with this person.  She is perfect.  She understands me in a way that allows her to know the exact moment to walk away, and I know her enough to come back at the perfect time with a kiss.  This is how we will work out problems for the rest of our lives – together.  I can’t wait.

I’m sure that I’ll have many more difficult moments than that, but my goal is to always use those moments as a reminder of our love – not a frustration.  I’m sure some of you marriage veterans out there are laughing at my naïveté, but I challenge you to think about it.  What has made it work this last 10, 25, or 50 years?  Isn’t it that, through it all, you always remembered that you loved one another more than anything else?

Like I said, Advanced Lessons.

In a few days, I get to promise that I will love her always.  I get to do it in front of tons of people who love and support us.  The test will finally be over.  Now we’ll get to navigate all the real parts of this life…together.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anniversary weekend already!

It probably wasn't the wisest idea to get married four days after my birthday, but that was the only day the band was available. Priorities, right? We'll be celebrating appropriately tomorrow with posh afternoon tea and yummy dinner (more eating!), but today I'm going to just reflect on how great it is to have David as a partner. Actually, I'll go write the mushy stuff in my journal and save you some nausea. Instead here are a few of my favorite pictures from our perfect wedding last summer.
by Barbara MacDonald
by Barbara MacDonald
by Eddie Dant.
by Eddie Dant.

My other favorites: Peter Searcy, Dan Canon, Steve Cooley. by Eddie Dant.
by Eddie Dant.
by Barbara MacDonald

Playing with Nervous Melvin and the Mistakes. by Eddie Dant.

by Barbara MacDonald

Friday, July 27, 2012

Birthday wrap-up. Eating my way around Edinburgh.

David said he liked my birthday because, "All you like to do is have fun on your birthday." I'm easy that way. I don't want presents. I just want to frolic about and enjoy the day. Just as I predicted, we had gorgeous sunshine, and we soaked it up all over town. Sure it was a high of 66*, but that was roasting in Edinburgh.

Some things that make having fun in Edinburgh a bit easier:

1. An unlimited bus ticket. At £3.50 you can ride all the city buses all day long. You can take it one stop or fifty, and it's all the same. The sense of freedom that comes with a dayticket is most excellent.

2. A fun partner. But find your own; David is mine.

3. A box of cupcakes and a watermelon. We picked up a wee sugar baby watermelon at Earthy, and grabbed a wee selection of gourmet cupcakes from Cuckoo's Bakery. David carried them around with us all day long until we found the perfect picnic spot in Princes Street Gardens.

3. An appetite. This is key.

All I wanted for my birthday was to spend the entire day eating yummy foods from yummy restaurants. This is usually what I want, but it's somehow "okay" this year because I'm so very pregnant. The bad thing is that my stomach is all crunched up because of this wee Scot, so I'm not able to actually eat as much as I want to. That's where #2 on the list comes in -- share everything with your fun partner.

Our food stops?

9am Breakfast in bed. Half a bagel and some fruit. We needed energy to kickstart our appetites!

11am Elevensies at Earthy, where we shared a scone with butter and jam.

11:30am Cupcake shopping spree at Cuckoo's Bakery. We bought four (but I only ended up eating half of one). Save for afternoon sweet treat. I'll make this photo extra-large, so you can properly examine the cupcake treats.

3pm The Baked Potato Shop on the Royal Mile. My sentimental Edinburgh favorite. They've recently raised their prices, but it's still a great deal. David and I shared a baked potato with cheese and vegetarian haggis, eating it on a bench outside The Tron in the glorious sunshine.

4:30 pm Time for a sweet treat! We found another park bench in Princes Street Gardens and split one cupcake and part of a watermelon.


5:30pm Relax with a refreshing drink on a sidewalk cafe -- you know, like you do in Europe!

7pm TexMexII! I know, you think there's no good Mexican food in the UK, and, mostly, you are correct. But this place manages to do a fantastic job, and it's where we go for a taste of home.

8pm Drinks (well, orange juice for me) with super-good friends at our local pub. We laughed and stayed out past my bedtime talking about everything from Robert Louis Stevenson to Judy Garland.

I did one more fantastic thing on my birthday -- a surprise gift from David (though I told him not to!!) -- but that'll wait for another blog. It deserves its own day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PSA: That looks silly. Wear trousers. Or longer shorts.

I know this isn't a fashion blog, and I know I'm hardly a fashionista. Consider this diatribe, then, a Public Service Announcement. I've accepted that Hammer pants are back with a vengeance (if this is purely a European phenomenon, then give it a year for it to cross the Atlantic). I've even accepted mesh shirts over tank tops. This doesn't mean I support or wear them, but I accept it.

One particular fashion that I feel I need to take a public stance against is: black tights underneath above-the-butt cut-off jean shorts. This photo is hardly the worst offense I've seen, but believe me, they are out in full force.

Thankfully, most Americans likely cannot fathom wearing tights in July, so perhaps most of the country will be spared from sightings like the ones we've had.

Just beware.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Olympic Swimmer for sale!

You've probably never thought about me as an athlete. True, gravity and I are pretty close friends (and you thought my choice of cowboy boots over heels was aesthetic!), and I never played sports in high school. But confession: I was a competitive swimmer for years.

Circa 1982.
This morning I returned to my roots for a quick little 1k swim. There are only two lanes at my local pool: the "slow lane" and the "fast lane." The slow lane should be renamed the "floating around aimlessly lane," and the "fast lane" should require an audition. Anyway, I inadvertently made everyone flailing around in the fast lane feel bad about themselves, as they got lapped repeatedly by a woman in her eight month of pregnancy. And I wasn't even trying, folks! Half the time I was just on the kickboard trying to get this little fetus to move into the right position.

In light of my extreme success despite lack of effort, I am now considering offering my services to the Olympic Swim Team (country to be determined, or whatever, I'm for sale!). Surely some country is down a swimmer, right? And don't worry about my condition. It turns out there have been quite a few pregnant Olympic athletes, including a 2012 competitor from Malaysia who is also eight months along. Sure, she's a shooter, but that seems more dangerous than a few laps in a pool. I got this.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Birthday week in Scotland! Guess what I want?

Happy birthday week, everyone! I know the odds are that it is probably not your birthday week, but that's okay. You all have permission to eat an extra cupcake or day drink anyway.

I love birthdays and always have. It's not about presents (I told David multiple times not to get me anything but a card, and I mean it). Mostly, I just like to skip around town and obnoxiously tell everyone it's my birthday. Apparently most grownups stop bothering with birthdays when they turn thirty, but I think most grownups are silly.

Even though I don't want presents, I do want fun celebration times. This year, I've told David that I want to just eat all day long. So he's excused from dissertation work on Wednesday because he'll have to wheel me from brunch to cupcake shop to lunch to cupcake shop to dinner to ice cream shop. It's great to be pregnant on your birthday!

Friday, July 20, 2012

HebCelt Festival Recap and BBC radio today.

Last weekend we traveled to the remote Isle of Lewis where I was playing accordion/keys for a band at the Hebridean Celtic Festival. It's a bit of a misnomer, in that it seemed more like a roots music event sprinkled with Scottish bands of slightly celtic flavor. But I enjoyed that part of it, and the range of music made me wish I'd applied for my own artist slot as well, rather than just performing as a sideman. The big headliners were the Waterboys and The Proclaimers. David and I jumped up and down to "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which disturbed the baby only slightly. That song is still stuck in our heads.

A few folks came up to me after our shows and told me how rockin' it was that I was playing this music festival eight months pregnant (one of our shows didn't even start until 1am, and that was after 10+ hours of travel). That made me feel good.

Truthfully, I felt icky all weekend, and all I wanted to do was nap. During the shows was different; music endorphins work wonders for fatigue. But I'm pretty sure I slept more this weekend than I've ever done during a music festival -- shameful. The HebCelt staff took great care of me, though, making sure I had water and a chair. David made sure I didn't have to carry my heavy accordion very far. Thanks to everyone for making allowances for my "condition."

While we were there, we recorded a three-song set for BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal, which I think is a radio programme on BBC Scotland. Their website is all in Gaelic, so it's hard to say. Anyway, you should be able to listen over the interwebs. It airs today at 8:00pm GMT, which is 3:00pm Eastern. If you are able to listen, you'll hear me on accordion, piano, and backing vocals (I'm the girl singer). Look out for that little audio icon to guide you to listening:
If someone out there finds and easier way, let me know. My pregnancy brain isn't keen on focusing on anything right now, so I'm tired of staring at the website. (Actually, pretty much any text I stare at these days looks like Gaelic.) It was a great studio though, run by a kind staff who served us tea and cookies (biscuits) before we recorded the set. Gotta love the UK!

Also, you're welcome for this:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jacket Weather and Cinnamon Buns.

Today is that first day in late September when the temperature drops, but the sun is still shining. You get out your boots because you haven't been able to wear them in six months. You can even take the tags off the new jacket you couldn't resist buying during those dog days when you were daydreaming about Rosh Hashanah weather.

Except in reality it is July 19.

We haven't had much of a summer here in Scotland. Still, I feel invigorated for the first time in a while ... excited about what's to come and even cheerful.

This morning we stopped by the new Peter's Yard Cafe in Stockbridge. They've been threatening to open for months (David almost applied for the "Pizza Baker" position about ten times), and that day is finally here. We were a bit sad they didn't have decaf coffee [yet], but suffered through our pain with a cinnamon bun and vanilla bun. I'm mostly excited about the gelato bar, but that'll have to wait a few hours.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Advice for a new mom -- from you readers to me. Thanks.

I used to think the greatest thing about being far away from home during pregnancy is that I've been able to keep to myself and avoid unsolicited belly rubs, judgments, and advice. In truth, I've managed to avoid all of the above (except quiet judgments from the man at the cupcake shop). After yesterday's blog, I was inundated with advice, and ... it was fabbo (UK for fantastic). 

I'm terrible at asking for help. It's why I haven't made a Kickstarter or PledgeMusic campaign for a new album, though I've had one of those forms half-way filled out for four years. I'm a stubborn only child, and my favorite phrase is, "I can do it myself." That's not all that healthy of a mantra though, is it?

Truthfully, I've absolutely loved reading your comments, emails, suggestions, wisdom. I love that most of my friends are crazy greenies who don't laugh at the thought of cloth diapers or wipes. I love that the most common response to what "stuff" I need was: you don't need all that crap!

On that note, I thought I'd compile a list of some great advice I've gotten so far:

It's not only okay to ask for help, it's important for your sanity. I'm pretty sure this will be the most challenging for me, but I'm game to try.

Newborns don't need shoes. Baby shoes are adorable, but babies can't walk.

Rent or borrow if you can. I've actually come across a few women who "aren't into hand-me-downs," and I think they are insane. Most of the advice I've gotten suggested renting breast pumps and borrowing clothes or other accessories. I'm into anything that avoids a shopping mall or a landfill. These avoid both.

Boppy pillows may not actually be a waste of money, as I'd previously thought. I'm still hesitant on this one because, well, can't I just stack a couple of pillows up and stick the baby on that? But so many smart women have said they couldn't have survived without theirs, that I'm beginning to question it. A great friend loaned me hers, so we shall see.

Even if you get one of everything, your baby will probably never touch most of it. Who knew that babies are incredibly simple and easily amused? Some love the swings and some hate them. Some never once slept in their fancy cribs, favoring their carseats instead. So maybe it's best to start with nothing and work up from there.

Babies are portable. Throw them in a sling and go on a trip around the world. Okay, so this one didn't actually come in any sage emails, but it's a theory I'm working on. I'll keep you posted.

Sometimes "stuff" is okay, if it makes your life easier. As much as I hate to believe this, it's probably true. We haven't accumulated much in Scotland, but I imagine when we move back to the States, we'll start collecting things that make our lives easier. I guess if I can have a KitchenAid Mixer, my kid can have a few toys, right? I mean, sure the only things you need in the kitchen are a pot and a wooden spoon. But ...

Anyway, I promise not to write about babies forever ... if it becomes a problem, I'll just start a separate blog for all-things-baby. I do have a lot of thoughts on health care systems and a few other differences between Europe and the US that I'll share at some point. For now, though, thanks so much for sticking with me on this blog as it morphs from wild music tours to gardens to diapers.

And thanks for sharing your wisdom -- keep it coming. Only one request: no bad birth stories, please. I'm keeping it positive on that front.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Casseroles and Clothes: What do we actually need for this baby?

Did I mention I'm with child? Keeping up with this blog has been a bit of a challenge lately because, well, this blog is not about pregnancy. That's what's on my mind these days, however, so I've just been stuck for what to write about. Today, I give in. Forgive me.

By popular request ... my belly.
We're about seven weeks away, if you can believe it. This "nesting instinct" hasn't exactly kicked in yet, and I'm not sure it will. I'm actually a bit annoyed that I'm stuck in Edinburgh for the time being, while my passport sits in a drawer taunting me daily. And I'm glad I've got a good excuse for not hitting up Pottery Barn Kids, or whatever the local equivalent is. Shopping and decorating are probably the things I am worst at in life, and I don't think that's going to change just because I'm breeding.

Still, I'm starting to wonder what else we need to gather before this thing makes an appearance. Compared to how most Americans have babies, you'd be amazed by our lack of "stuff." I'm both impressed by our restraint and a bit worried. Really, this baby just needs a place to sleep, some clothes to wear, and diapers, right? Thanks to a few generous folks, we're set for the basics.

So is all that other stuff is just ... convenient? I hope so because, also shockingly, we live in a one-bedroom apartment and aren't planning on upgrading. What does a baby actually need? What do we actually need? Frozen casseroles and some swaddling clothes? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The rain in Scotland falls mainly ... well, gently and softly.

This weekend, for the first time since moving to Scotland almost a year ago, I got to wear wellies. Everyone (including the natives) thinks it rains all the time here, and, I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. (How many times do I have to tell you Americans that Louisville gets almost twice the annual rain that Edinburgh gets?)

What IS true, however, is that the sun has been hiding, and we've had more rainy days over the past few weeks than pretty much the entire time I've lived here. We've had so much rain that the little river by my house flooded and reeked havoc on quite a few homes in the neighborhood.

That part is sad, but I'm still shocked that it took less than two inches of rain to take a photo like this one. I mean, it didn't even occur to me and D during the light sprinkling (albeit incessant sprinkling) that we might use an umbrella. So to wake up to text messages from friends wondering if we okay ... well, that made us laugh. Until we walked down the street. We were lucky and escaped with just a need to wear wellies. But I do miss the sun.

I love summer. I even love the 100 degree, sweat-before-you-leave-the-house days in Kentucky, when the air is thick with humidity, and ice water is the greatest invention in the world. I love it because the winter cold is so horrible there. Back home, whenever July is getting to me, I remember February, eat a chilled watermelon, and switch from bourbon to gin.

Yesterday, I wore a sweater to meet a friend for coffee. On July 11. It's 55 degrees right now, which is pretty much the temperature it has been since we moved here in September. You folks daydreaming about jacket and boot weather on Pinterest? Move to Scotland. But today ... the sun is peeking through the clouds, and I'm going to get me some vitamin D and put my wellies away for another year. (Or until we move back to Louisville.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Good times at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Tasting at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
I've had a blog-in-draft about the SMWS going at (the blog that was interrupted by my pregnancy, hmpf!) for months now. Since that blog's on haitus, I'll spend some Red Accordion space talking about whisky -- shocker, right?

We joined the private whisky-tasting club our first week here, about an hour after I gave up on getting any decent customer service at any mobile phone or internet store. Rather than give my money to those fools, I walked around the corner and joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Good use of student loan funds, right? Well, it's definitely provided us a much happier and relaxing experience than our monthly fights with Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile (they are AWFUL!!!), even though I've been off-the-booze since January, what with a great menu and enough non-alcoholic choices to keep me satiated.

Besides our mornings/afternoons/evenings at the club, we also enjoy their quarterly magazine: Unfiltered. This past weekend we were invited to a barbecue at their Leith location to celebrate/reveal the new Unfiltered iPad app (you don't have to be a SMWS member to purchase). I don't have an iPad myself, so pretty much anything looks cool to me on the shiny iDevices. But I thought the design and function of this app was fun, and I like the level of creativity that designers are forced to bring to the table when translating print media to apps. No, they aren't paying me to say nice things about them (though the chip butty I inhaled at the BBQ on Friday would have been a sufficient bribe -- I'm easy), but I do like the app, which is essentially an interactive version of the magazine.
Mint Julep made with simple syrup that's been infused
with jasmine tea ... and single malt whisky. Mmmm.

The best/most torturous part of the even was the whisky tasting, led by Olaf. Olaf is an enthusiastic connoisseur from Germany who kept even the sober people (pretty sure I was the only one, after the rounds of prosecco, mint juleps, and drams) giggling with stories and readings. Between Olaf and an Edinburgh folk singer, Robin Laing, we were thoroughly entertained with poetry and songs about whisky and Scotland.

One bonus to being pregnant is my new spidey-smell. Smell was never my best sense, but now I can smell burning toast from blocks away. The J. Peterman-like descriptions of whisky you find in the SMWS tasting notes? I could write them for you. My game, while everyone else imbibed, was to smell the whisky, both unreduced and dilluted, and take diligent notes to see just how my nose matched up to the panel of experts. To brag a little, I nailed it everytime -- down to the butterscotch, flowers, black tea, and iodine (yum!).

In honor of whisky (and whiskey), I thought I'd give away one of my most-requested songs, "Whisky in the Faucet." It's from my first album (which I know you all already have, right?), so if you've already got it, feel free to share the link with your friends:

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Friday, July 6, 2012

A Day at Versailles.

As you probably know, I collect castles. Versailles has been on my radar ever since the days of Count Duckula, who I'm pretty sure had something to do with the Hall of Mirrors. High school history class glossed over the palace, Marie Antoinette, bread vs. cake, and the guillotine, but it was the Hall of Mirrors in this baroque palace that stuck in my memory.

Anyway, we visited the Palace of Versailles last Tuesday, and, despite my aching feet and general fatigue, both David and I were pretty much blown away. Both of us had been to Paris before, but neither of us had made the daytrip to Versailles. It IS worth a full day of your time, even though the train ride is only about 30 minutes.

David waited well over an hour in the rain in a line that snaked around the massive cobblestone esplanade at least five times, while I sat, aching and pregnant, on a bench reading. Thankfully, we'd already purchased tickets through our Paris Museum Pass, so there was only one line between us and the Chateau itself.

To say the palace is grand is a severe understatement. Much of the exterior is lined with gold, and the estate is bigger than any castle I've ever seen. The inside walls are decorated with paintings, tapestries, chandeliers, statues, and even modern installation art hanging from the tall ceilings or taking up the center of a once-bedroom. Even the bits that are over-the-top-tacky are mind-blowing in their scale.

The Hall of Mirrors was nothing like I imagined, but, again, I had Count Duckula in my head. Rather than being dark and vampiric, it was on an upper floor, bright, wide, and filled with not only mirrors, but crystal chandeliers and golden statues. It was stunning in its gawdiness and grandeur.


If you aren't particularly attached to seeing the King's bed chambers or the Hall of Mirrors (I wouldn't leave without seeing them), then I'd suggest skipping the Chateau itself and heading straight for the gardens. At almost two thousand acres, they stretch far enough for you to imagine you are in a pastoral paradise, not even close to a city the size of Paris.

We were fortunate enough to visit in the summer, with flowers and trees in full bloom and grandiose fountains spouting water to baroque music piped through hidden speakers throughout the grounds (you pay extra when the fountains are on, but we really loved seeing it in full action). Had we been rich, we would have rented a golf cart to go exploring (30 euros an hour -- not bad, but we were traveling like students), as I was all walked-out for the day (again, skip the Chateau and you'll have plenty of energy for the gardens). We didn't even make it out to the summer houses or Madame de Pompadour's Petit Trianon yet were still thoroughly blown away by the size and perfect planning of the stunning gardens. I'd love to go back on a pretty summer day with a few bottles of wine and a cheese spread.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Babymoon" and special treatment while Pregnant in Paris.

There's a new word floating around in the lexicon -- the "babymoon." It's not my favorite neologism. I think it's silly, and it implies that you'll never again take a trip alone with your partner (laugh away, but that won't be us).

Paris probably isn't the best choice for a "babymoon" (barf!), unless you have boundless energy. It's a city that demands exploring, and exploring by foot is always best. I tried hard to keep up with my former energy levels (supplemented by many a crepe break and nap).

In one respect, Paris is great for a babymoon: I was surprised by how kind the French people were to a visibly pregnant woman.

I haven't really expected special treatment for my "condition." Though in the past I would have always given up my bus seat to a pregnant woman, that hasn't happened much in Scotland. In France, however, I never had to stand on the Metro. It was only in tourist places (populated mostly by Americans!) where I had to wait in absurdly long bathroom lines hoping not to get a UTI or pee in my maternity pants. The locals always offered me a seat or a jump-to-the-front-of-the-queue pass. And for someone who has a really hard time accepting the help of others, I was surprised at how thankful I was for the kindness. It was unexpected and a huge relief, making it all the more sweet.

At Notre Dame, the gate attendant allowed us to cut to the front of the line when he noticed my big belly. We were shocked, but recalling the Olympic Torch incident, when standing still for 30 minutes caused nausea and faintness, we accepted graciously.

Though we did not ask (nor expect) it, the same thing happened at Saint-Chapelle (possibly my favorite church ever -- photos on another blog). I knew I couldn't wait in the line, so I sat on a park bench with a book while David stood. Five minutes into my book, a guard walked over to me and sent us through the disabled access line with a smile.

We probably could have done the same thing at Versailles, as the queue was 1.5 hours on precarious cobblestone, but David stayed in the queue while I read on a faraway bench. I was stubborn and thought I could handle it. Once inside, however, after a long walk through the Palace, up and down many stairs, when I could not physically walk the half-mile and stairs down to the exit, a Versailles worker happily allowed me on the restricted elevator. There was even a special pregnant-woman line for tickets to the Gardens of Versailles. Unfortunately, I barely saw any of the stunning gardens (David was able to walk in farther and do some exploring for both of us), but I was able to enjoy the fountains and flowers with an Orangina, a book, and a marble bench.

When I went to the Arc d'Triomphe only to see that the climb was almost 300 stairs, I got my book ready and was prepared to send David to the top alone. Then we discovered the elevator. By this point in the trip, I had no qualms about using it, as there's simply no way I could have taken the stairs. I think I could have climbed them, but walking DOWN the treacherous, ancient, spiral staircase when you can't actually see your feet is not particularly wise. (I learned that the first day at Notre Dame.)

Also interesting: every time we needed to pass through security (pretty much everywhere, which seemed to be the only reason for the insane queues at the tourist attractions), the attendants took one look at my belly and directed me around the X-ray machine saying "not good for baby." Try telling the airport attendants you would prefer a pat-down to the huge look-at-me-naked machines because you're trying not to subject your fetus to too many abnormal rays, and you get a lecture about your mobile phone being bad for your baby. But not in France -- they pretty much insisted I not go through the machine.

Several weeks ago, I would have likely scoffed at the idea of pregnant women getting special treatment, but lately I've just felt incapable of doing a lot of physical things. And while I in no way expected it, it was so nice to be in a country where people went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. Considering I haven't really been comfortable in months, that was a huge deal to me. Right now, I'm being thankful for a ground floor apartment, working from home, and free health care. (But I won't try jumping the queue here.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rant about Facebook limitations.

I've hit that watershed that many an artist hits -- the 5000 friend mark on my personal Facebook page. I'm not complaining, as it means that maybe people still remember me despite that I haven't put out a new full-length album in a shameful amount of time. Besides, I know an astonishing about of these people in person and would happily buy most of them a drink (maybe this is why I never have any money).

I do rather wish I'd had the foresight to set up a music "page" sooner, or at least hide my personal profile. A few years back, I gave up on the idea of being able to separate that personal/public space on Facebook though.

You probably don't believe me, but in truth, I have only actually requested to be friends with about ten people a year. But I'm not good enough at declining to be friends with the nice person I met at a Folk Club in Yorkshire or the cool person who posts great comments on my blog and suggesting that they "look for my business page instead." That's just mean. Well, maybe not mean, but it's not the sort of person I am.

Harumph. Anyway, I have many a friend-request sitting in my box, and I can't accept them. I'm sorry if you are one of them. In the mean time, I've got a critical eye for anyone who posts bigoted, myopic images or links in my newsfeed. Maybe I can delete a few meanies to make room for the nicies.

(And yes ... I'm aware I could convert my personal page into a business page and my "friends" into "likes." As Facebook stands right now, however, that means I'd pretty much disappear from most of your newsfeeds. I do use my business page for music-tour related posts, but I can see from the insights that it only reaches 1-10% of my "fans." That seems like a pretty dumb business move.)

In the mean time, if I haven't approved your friend request (I'm sorry!), you can always "like" me at . Even if you don't really like my music, you just like my blog. Maybe I should have set up a separate Blog page. Ugh. Too much to keep track of!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Photos of Paris -- none of them by me.

Occasionally, I'll accidentally take a great photo, and even more often, fancy iPhone filters can disguise my average photos. But truly, David can intentionally take a good photograph -- just another example of how he's good at everything.

I've got lots more to say about Paris (tips on itineraries, budget, dining, and traveling while pregnant), but today's blog features photos by David. Someday, we'll have these framed and hung around our house. In the mean time, feel free to print them out and frame them yourselves:

Tile mosaic in a garden in Paris. by David Caldwell

Fleur-de-lys in Saint-Chapelle - by David Caldwell.
Le Tour Eiffel, from the Seine River - by David Caldwell.

Musée D'Orsay - by David Caldwell.

Inside the Musée D'Orsay -- same clock tower! by David Caldwell
Paris at night. I mean, shouldn't the postcard companies be a-knockin?? Look at that! by David Caldwell

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Post-Paris Holiday.

We are back from Paris. I am exhausted. We probably should have gone somewhere less enticing, like a desert island or Yakutsk, but I loved our time there. Our budget and dietary restrictions didn't exactly allow for a luxurious week of Parisian meals and bottles of wine, but we did indulge on plenty of baguettes and croissants in public parks all over the city.

Forgive me for not blogging more; the wifi in our AirBnB stopped working after day one, so we were forced into a bizarre solitude.

I'll post pictures this week, but for now I'm lucky to get out of bed. Walking eight hours a day past ancient churches and stunning boulevards is normally my idea of a grand holiday. This wee one has decided that maybe I need a little rest now. Doing my best to sit still...