Sorry for the lack of posting. I’m a bit distracted by the view from my window at the moment.
I am disgruntled. The number of cards and letters that I send by regular mail and which subsequently disappear into the ether without ever reaching their destination is dramatically increasing.
These days, when it is so much easier, quicker and, frankly, cheaper to send greetings by email or from a thousand and one online greeting card websites, there are still those of us who choose to spend our money to send mail by regular post. We treasure the experience of thoughtfully picking out or making a card, sitting down and writing snippets from our day or sending greetings across the miles. Once dropped in the postbox, we then imagine the face of our loved one when finding an unexpected envelope in their mailbox, their anticipation of opening it and then holding and reading the greetings which have journeyed to them from so far away.
I gave up sending checks or money as presents by regular mail long ago, as apparently it is just too much of a temptation for some, even if taking it is a felony offense. Now when illicitly opening my letters all they’ll find is “love and kisses.” Sadly, even they don’t reach their intended recipient any more. Explain to me then why I should throw out good money after bad to send my love and heartfelt congratulations, good luck wishes, condolences, prayers for speedy convalesce and festive holiday cheer by registered mail to ensure you hand-deliver them to the homes of my nearest and dearest when I have already purchased that service by buying a stamp and sticking it on the envelope and which, according to your declared service contract, you are then supposed to deliver.
As time goes by, and as fewer cards arrive at their intended destination, it is reasonable to assume that I will choose alternatives to sending cards by regular mail. In my view, that is a loss for both of us.
Currently on detox following a week’s worth of Dordogne and Quercy cuisine (foie gras, cheese, smoked duck/goose, (OMG the) bread, walnuts and wine). On the one occasion where I ordered a beef dish, I immediately regretted it and despite walking several kilometers per day (sometimes almost vertically), I came home with an unwelcome 2 kilo souvenir.
During the mostly sunny days, and being the last week of the French vacances, we were surrounded by families enjoying the remaining days of their summer holidays and it was odd not to encounter at least a few landsmen, as the school year in Israel had already started. We toured picturesque villages, towns, castles, chateaus, gardens and caves, all within a 100 km radius of where we were staying in Sarlat-La-Canéda and Tour-de-Faure. (See the map below.)
Thankfully we were able to visit LascauxII (tickets sold only in nearby Montignac) and Gouffre de Padirac (no cave paintings, but fantastic rock formations and an underground river) without a prior reservation since we arrived there even before the box office opened. The biggest criticism we encountered of LascauxII was that is a replica of the now closed Lascaux caves, which for us did not detract from its fascination and beauty for a minute. We did make reservations for Pech Merle (both cave paintings and rock formations), but again if you arrive early enough you may not need to. By the time we left each, between 50 minutes to 1.5 hours later, the entry lines were quite long. However, if you are thinking of visiting Grotte de Font-de-Gaume, the only cave with original prehistoric polychromatic paintings that still allows a very limited number of visitors per day (200 in high season), make a reservation well in advance. There are 50 non-reserved tickets available each day in high season and the line for those starts forming at least 2 hours before opening, according to the woman at the box office.
We also had an unexpected glimpse of early autumn, as in the higher places the nights were cool enough to start turning some trees gold and red.
Just to make sure that we knew that we were back home, our flight landed at the end of a baggage handler’s strike. There’s nothing like walking into the luggage area at the airport and having the passport control person wish you “good luck,” at which point I couldn’t help but notice literally hundreds of people sitting on ubiquitous white plastic chairs waiting for their luggage. Two hours later, we were on our way home, luggage safely in the trunk, and already talking about our next trip.
As you can see, I’m posting more frequently again following an extended absence off enjoying family events and travelling and the planning of both. Being away for mostly that entire period, I rediscovered how much I prefer off-line pursuits. Yes, the Internet is a wonderful, sometimes magical place, but learning how to balance online and offline activities has always been a challenge for me. I tend to dive into things and it takes me a while to come back to center; sometimes this process can take a long time and this latest and much-needed away time has been a terrific “reset” button. This isn’t to say that I ditched the Internet, just that outside of my working life I have greatly reduced my online activity.
In preparation for my vacation I turned down all the digital background noise to a minimum as much as possible. I unsubscribed or dropped to weekly digests a number of online newsletters I regularly follow (only two have made it back so far), stopped forwarding nonessential emails from my other email accounts to my phone and uninstalled phone apps that were diverting my attention. And that’s still pretty much the situation today. Less distraction and more focus.
But seriously, Facebook, you are teh devil.
(If you need a “reset” button, feel free to grab mine.)
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