Biot, France: Pack lightly,’ Gwen said. Oops.

Anyone with an ounce of sophistication and a half-pound of sense knows how to pack for a week in Europe.

Gwen Porter, who has sense and sophistication by the pound, advised classic mixing and matching, relying on accessories to upgrade a look from casual to fancy. Because she is a flight attendant familiar with the size of overhead bins in most all aircraft, she recommended fitting whatever we needed to take into the smallest possible carry-on. And carry-on is a good way to be sure that your necessities arrive at the same time you do.

Then she blew all that advice.

On Delta, for whom she makes the skies safe and pleasant as a flight attendant, international travelers get one free checked bag, she told us. It can weigh up to 50 pounds.

It can contain the glassmaking tools that Museum of Glass artist Sarah Gilbert posted in a picture on That photo looks like an array of the most alarming items TSA has seized since its inception.

Or it can hold 49 pounds to the ounce of gifts from the people of Tacoma to some of the people the delegates will meet in Biot.

Because we are a community of gardeners, and because the people of Biot prize fine landscaping, Ed Hume chose 60 packets of seeds he thought would thrive in, beautify and feed a walled Medieval city: colorful carrots, classic kale, beets, nasturtiums, radishes.

Because we are a community that values volunteering, Associated Ministries sent T-shirts from Hunger Walk and Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful. They would like the people of Biot to know that we do good things for people in need, and we make it fun.

Because Biot is a walled city, Pat and Gail Ringrose at T-Town Apparel figured residents could use some help toting their groceries home from the farmers’ market, or perhaps the communal oven. How better to do that than in the finest tote bag this side of the Atlantic?

Because the Puyallup Tribe of Indians wrote the first chapters of Pierce County’s history, they, and The Tacoma Weekly, are sending 20 copies of that history in a book titled “Land of the Welcoming People – A History of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.”

Pack, zip, weigh and rely on the kindness of baggage handlers, and, voilà, a collection of cadeaux for the friends Tacomans will be making this week.


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