Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Week in Provence

It has been a place I have wanted to visit for years, especially after reading Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, but for some reason, the timing was never right (those 6 years in Asia kinda got in the way, too).  Finally, we are here in this divine place.

And can I say for the record, that this is in fact, the first vacation place I have visited that I could actually retire to?  I already hear the groans in "The Hachie" as I admit to this in writing.  Honestly, I think any concerns are unfounded at this juncture but one can dream. 

So, what have our first few days of glorious French Provencal vacationing been like?  Well,  still a little too much discipline to the work emails and the marathon training,  but a marked improvement to this time last week, I am happy to report.  To quote Jim K., "more play, less work".  Amen, brother!

Pictures and stories of the charming places we visited will follow, but let me be your senses for just a moment a provide a sampling of the first few morning runs I have experienced in Provence:

*  the rustle of tree leaves in the wind on a cool spring morning
*  big puffy white clouds in a sky of baby blue, with the early morning rays of peaches and golden yellows peaking through the clouds
*  gurgling brooks that meander through farmlands...yes, brooks in fact do gurgle
*  the tinkle of bells around the necks of sheep being led by herders from one pasture to the next, and the occasional herding dogs barking their commands to wayward sheep
*  the smell of antique rose buses, wild wisteria, and acres and acres of blooming peonies...fragrant mornings beyond compare
*  and while we are on the subject of fragrant mornings beyond compare, the sweet little light brown donkeys (and their fragrant byproducts) who meander over to the fence as I run buy...those big brown eyes following me intently as I run up and down the farm road.  Somehow, I don't mind the smell....
*  the beautiful white Camarque horses that dot the landscape of every other farm, manes flowing in the wind
*  the mist on the the fields after a hard night's rain that rises gently skyward as the morning dawns  
* and my personal favorite....wild red poppies....bobbing their heads in the wind everywhere I turn, as if they know that red is my favorite color and they are personally greeting me to this corner of the world

I could go on and on but you'd just accuse me of making this up.  As I said in an earlier facebook post, I am living a Monet painting this week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dubai bound...

Work beckons...UAE calling.  Just as I was getting that seat assignment confirmed for the UAE flight, this came into my inbox:  UK man beaten in Dubai for swearing.

Not that I intend to be a troublemaker  (after all, "troublemaker" has never been my middle name), but if there was any doubt, I will just watch my "p's and q's".
Thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Day Without Shoes

Please join millions of global citizens who will be participating in One Day Without Shoes - an opportunity to raise the awareness of others that are less fortunate both here and abroad. Thank you Blake Mycoskie/Tom's Shoes for spearheading the event.


I am actually doing this in London....It is so HARD!

the first of two comments on UK inefficiency....

Effective yesterday, the cost of a first class stamp in the UK rose 5 pence to £0.46, the single largest price increase ever on record. For you yanks, that is the equivalent of $0.74 for a single first class US stamp. 

Rationale for the price hike according to a Royal Mail Spokesperson: " With the sharp declines in mail volume - a 20% fall in five years - our revenues are falling. That means if we don't generate more income, we will simply not be able to keep funding our six-days-a-week collection, sorting, transport and delivery operation to the UK's 28 million homes and businesses. Royal Mail lost £16.3 million on stamped mail in the last financial year. This is equivalent to a 6.4p loss on average on every stamped item, which the price hikes should go towards covering."

Now a comment from the peanut gallery:  I have painfully witnessed first hand the inner workings of the Royal Mail operation - too many free standing post offices, lack of technology modernization (who hand peels stamps off a sheet and gives to customers - why am I even "licking stamps"), bureaucracy in the pick-up of mail and parcels (akin to the Abbott and Costello gag, "Who's on First" - no one ever seems to want to own up as to where I can pick up a package). 

I could go on, but I won't.  Suffice to say, I only foresee mail volumes continuing to drop with the increase use of online ecards and other technology.  Sure, there will always be a need for "snail mail", but as volumes decrease (as they inevitable will), will price hikes be the best way to address that. Doubt it...shouldn't Royal Mail be getting to the root problem?

Sorry, this change consultant just can't help herself sometimes.