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The Journey

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on March 28, 2012 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)


THE JOURNEY
MARCH 2012
By CAROLE MEYER
 
               She looked ahead in the distance and thought the road, though dipping out of sight at times, looked straight. With the hot sun at her back, she thought it must be late in the day. From time to time, she would look back, as if wondering where it was she had been. The pavement was black and the asphalt, dark and gooey in places. Her feet felt the heat through her thin soled shoes so she tried walking on the side of the road where it sloped down toward the swale. Walking at a slant was somewhat better than walking on the hot asphalt. Neither choice was great, but this seemed somehow better.  Her back hurt.
               Of course she could go down into the swale where it was flatter, but she had an intense fear of snakes and an even more intense fear of spiders. The dry brush scraped her legs, and as she looked down she noticed, with a shock, her own hand. Bringing it to her face she was struck by how old it looked.   She examined the thin skin and the dark, bulging veins as if they belonged to an alien. She felt her own face and could not remember how it looked. She thought that perhaps she had never really seen it and could not believe it was old like her hands. She herself did not feel old inside. But her back did hurt and as much as she did not like to think about it....other things hurt too.
               She continued walking toward the rise in the road where the heat was making a greasy, wavy, shimmer several feet above the pavement. This had been a long journey from where she had been to where she was going. She saw no one else along the way...it was indeed a solitary journey and fear hovered over her with a light touch. She was not afraid ....just mindful that it is always best to keep an open eye for any danger that may be near. 
               She wished she could remember everything. Some things drifted like clouds in and out of her mind, but nothing seemed as real as the hot road and the vague fear. She held her hand out in front of her face once again and shook her head. She framed the road ahead with both hands like a movie director. What she saw was only the road, nothing beyond that except some dark gathering clouds. The wavy heat made seeing beyond difficult. As she approached the crest of the hill, she wondered how much longer this journey would take. It had been a long time, walking, thinking, making decisions, and wondering where this was taking her. As she topped the hill she turned and looked back. She stood gazing for a long time and then with her very old hands and her face that she was sure she had never seen before, she walked on down the other side. The road ended. 
 
 
 
 

Destination, London

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on March 24, 2012 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

We leave for Europe on Wednesday. On this trip, unlike the Paris trip, we are flying economy!  Yikes, I am not really looking forward to that 9 1/2 hours flight over the pole. My legs are too long, and my bones are too old.....but the price.....what can I say, it was cheap and, like child birth, I had forgotten how horrible a long flight in the ever shrinking space in economy class can be. My friend Ambien is going in my carry-on. My doctor gave me the prescription and told me to be sure to test it out here at home before just popping one on the flight.  After reading the list of horrible things one can do and not even remember when taking this drug....I did test it out.  As far as I know, I did not get up in the middle of the night and cook and eat, or go for a drive, or have sex. The label says you may do these things and not remember them at all...so as soon as Bill gets that crazed smile off his face, I am going to ask him. I think I will be fine.  

I plan on posting photos and comments on this trip as we go along. It gives me something to do when I am not eating my way through England, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. 

Over half our accomodations on this two month long trip have been covered with "house swaps." We have traded our second home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for a flat in the Soho district of London, a two week stay in the south of Spain, and a two week stay in a farmhouse in Umbria, Italy.  I will let you know how this turns out. Happy face.....Sad face....It could go either way. Carole

Driving Miss Daisy

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on November 10, 2011 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Miss Daisy is the name we ( my sister-in-law and myself)  call our mother-in-law.That is not her real name, of course.....we just call her Miss Daisy because of all the driving involved. "They" took her drivers license away, and she has always loved to drive. Her ride was a little black, super fancy, sexy convertible....A Cadillac!  I am sure she turned the heads of a few fellows young enough to be her grandson with that car.....so we can all understand how hard it was to give it up. Besides the ability to drive gives a person freedoms......go, go, go....no one to answer to. Freedom!

I want to make it clear right now that Miss Daisy is a woman we all love: she is elegant and educated, stylish and stubborn, well-dressed and now, sadly, diagnosed with dementia.  What was God thinking when he decided to have the body outlive the mind? This is not a good deal because even as the mind goes, the desire to keep going does not. This is where all the driving comes in. Doctors, dentists, dermatologists, the eye doctor, the primary doctor, the neurologist, the urologist....etc.....then there is the twice a week hair "doologist"....the ped and "manicureologist".......the book club, the association dinners, and, least I forget, the visit to her "old...as in long time and really elderly" friend who, poor thing, does not even know who Miss Daisy is any longer. 

Miss Daisy is 91 and now resides in an assisted living establishment. A very nice one, but then again there are, as she says, all those "old people" using those God awful walkers. She needs one too of course, but does not seem to think so. We try to "hint" to her that "those old people" are using those things because they do not want to fall and then end up in a nursing home....we say this as a hint that perhaps she should consider this since she walks a bit like she were on a percarious ledge and about to fall off. She does not see it that way. So?

Then we have the walks she likes to take from time to time. She takes some cash (and oh, right, no, no identification....none). She just walks out and up the sidewalk, about 5 blocks, crosses the busy street, and goes into the lounge and pulls up a chair and orders a nice martini. I am sure it is lovely looking out on the golfers, sipping the martini.  So far, when she leaves the lounge, she turns in the correct direction to walk back to her new home and, with her increasingly unsteady gait, minus the walker,heads back down the sidewalk. Again, I am sure she draws looks from drivers, perhaps thinking she is in need of assistance or quite possibly lost. Miss Daisy does not understand why we are all a flutter about this....actually I am not entirely sure either....what do we need to really consider: her safety or her happiness?  I guess if it were me, I would go for happiness....but I would hope someone would write my name, address, and all contact information on my undies and inside my jacket.

I have always had great respect for my mother in law....she was really perfect in that role. She never let on as her Stanford/Harvard educated son married me, the uncollege educated divorcee with three young girls, all poised on the edge of high school and in need of college tuition (now, 28 years later I wonder myself, was he crazy??  What was he thinking?)  But Miss Daisy never let on....she has been sweet and dear and kind and wonderful to me and our girls.  I will drive her where ever she wants. I will drink wine at lunch with her. I will fill in the blanks in the sentences for her and try my best to think of the words she can no longer think of. 

AND....I am going to be as nice as I can to my own daughters and hope for the best!!! I too am high maintenence and may need a ride to my appointments some day...if I can remember when I have one.  Carole

Back Home to My Real Life...not all that bad!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on October 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I am feeling so lazy. I have no excuse, we arrived back home on Oct. 4th. It has just taken me two weeks to stay awake all day and not get up at 1:30 in the morning. I am back at my Pilates class, back to not eating bread, (or that fabulous pate I had every day for six weeks) no pastry, no sauces, no kidding!  Just memories of the wonderful experiences of the six weeks in Paris trip. I really do feel as if I lived there and did not just visit. That was my goal and I feel as if I did reach it. 

I am ready for a new adventure now. We will go to our second home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the winter, but have a trip to Spain and Italy planned for next April and May.  The plan is to stay in a couple of places for two or three weeks at a time. We will make side trips, but again the goal is to stop, look and listen to the beat of the place. I have done lots of travel where we moved from one place to the other....."seeing" everything......I now want to feel it, slow down and experience the life that is lived in a few selected spots. 

Having lived so many months each year in central Mexico has been a life experience I would not trade......another country, language, friends, culture.......I feel fortunate to have this experience.

My neighbor, a young family with one son, is planning a year long trip to Argentina..........I say go for it!  This takes guts and planning, it is not something most people would even try, but I applaude the backbone and sense of adventure this kind of trip represents. I would love to do this, but simply can NOT leave my grandchildren for this long. I am such a wimp.

So, as I said at the beginning....I am feeling kind of lazy.....I should be painting, working on some of the ideas I had in Paris, some of the photos I took of reflections in the river.........oh well, all in good time.....maybe I will give myself six weeks in Portland to get revved up again.  In the meantime, I am working off that five pounds of pate I brought home under my belt!  Carole

There's No Place Like Home!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on October 8, 2011 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

There is no place like home, that is for sure! This Paris adventure was wonderful on so many levels. The food, the architecture, art, bagettes, pastry, the history, the beautiful weather and the very nice French people who we met each day. (yes, they are nice!!) However, it is great to be home. It makes me wonder how so many people live far from their children and grandchildren. I guess it is what you get used to or what you find you must do. For me, there is no place on earth that is beautiful, interesting, warm or sunny enough to make up for not being close to my family.

  I must admit however, that part of the trip home was a little slice of hell. The first leg from Paris to Chicago was fantastic....first class flat bed heaven. Then the short layover in Chicago turned into a long layover when our airplane was delayed. (So now, when I board the plane, my biological clock thinks it is about 2 in the morning.)  This late hour combined with the fact that my next seat was in coach, made the next four hours in the air a less than comfy ride. First of all, I always have to stay awake for every second of a flight in case the pilot needs my assistance, and even if I was sure he/she would be fine flying the plane without my constant vigilance, the seats are so uncomfortable, sleep is impossible. In some strange way, I almost wish I had never had the experience of that flat bed first class seat....because now I know that air travel can actually be a nice, relaxing pampered experience and I am not going to forget that anytime soon. It only makes flying in the economy seats that much more agonizing.  Shall I bitch some more? I guess not, the important part is that we arrived at our home to find fresh food in the refrigerator, flowers in a vase and our beds turned down like in a 5 star hotel.  My darling daughter Kristin did all of these thoughtful things, and added that she almost went to the store for mints so she could lay them on our pillows. She has a great sense of humor that girl.....she knows that would have made me laugh.

I miss my fresh bagette each morning!!

SORRY>>>> There truly IS no place like home. Home is where your family is, where you are comfortable, warm, dry and not hungry and I must remember that much of the world does not have even the basics. I am ashamed to admit that I try to shove these thoughts out of my mind when they surface...it is too painful to think of how so many must live when others like myself get to bitch about having to fly home from 6 weeks in Paris in coach.  Carole

How I saved 1,500 Euros without even trying!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on October 3, 2011 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

What a deal!  I saved 1.500 Euros today and it was just so easy.  I know you want to know how I did that and I am going to tell you.  

It was just after having yet another fabulous three course lunch which included wine. I didn't save on my glass of wine, that is for sure. It was our last full day in Paris and I wanted not only a special lunch, but a special wine. I ordered myself a glass of very special Vire Clesse, 2004, Cuvee, E.J. Thevenet, Domaine de la Bongran!!  Let me say it was VERY good.  Lunch was also good and as hard as I tried, I could not stop my mouth from ordering dessert. Sometimes my mind is screaming NO, NO, don't do it ,and my mouth just pops open and orders dessert.  Anyway, this lunch was not where I saved all those Euros.

After lunch we were strolling along, with me frantically looking in every shop window for that special little something I just could not leave here in Paris. Finally one shop did call to me; it said, "Get in here you fool, don't you see the fabulous black leather jacket in the window!!"  I did indeed see it....black lustrous leather, large flowing collar, more silver zippers than I had ever seen on one garment in my life.( I have zipper lust.) There were zippers inside of zippers....zippers on the cuffs, up the back, three up the front and one more inside, like a zippered vest so that you could leave the jacket open and still look like you had more leather on inside with yet more zippers.  I was in love. I ask in my best French what the price might be. She answered in perfect English that the price might be $1,500 Euros...in fact it not only might be, it was for sure. I gulped and Bill said he had to leave to go check out yet another church where I am sure he fell to his knees and prayed I would come to my senses and just let it go, zippers and all. (Really, if I had a Euro for every church or cathedral he has been in during this six week stay, I could have bought two leather coats.) 

Oh yes, about how I saved all those Euros......I asked the nice lady, now using my best English, if she would have a larger size. She now switches to French and says, "Oui, plus grand?"  Oui, I say, s'il vous plait.  She proceeds to ask me to stay in the shop as she opens the door and locks me in, along with two other customers.  She returned in two minutes with the "plus grand" size. I remove my jacket and start to put the object of my lust on my body. Right away I can tell this may not be quite "plus grand" enough. Like a wet suit I force my arms into the sleeves, pull the jacket together in the front, where the zippers actually touch each other. The sales lady races forward to help me ZIP my obviously American size body into a very French size jacket. I looked at myself in the mirror and almost screamed.........one never looks as chubby as when one puts on a piece of clothing that is not only TOO SMALL, but too thick, too heavy and too over the top zippered. Bill walked in the door just at that moment, worried face, his knees hurting from being on them for so long in the church, praying.  Well, sometimes God listens, he gives you good judgment, he tells you right to that face of yours looking back at you from the mirror. He just says, "NO". .......and you listen. 

I came, I saw and I listened......and I saved 1,500 Euros.  Bill thinks I am brilliant!!     Carole

Snapshots .....

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on October 1, 2011 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (1)

People watching is a Paris passtime perfected in the outdoor cafe, drinking a glass of wine. I will admit I have not spent as much time sitting in cafes as perhaps I should have. But I have many snapshot impressions of people from these last few weeks. Below, let me try to discribe using my "words", as they say to small children, what it is that caught my eye.

THE YOUNG WOMAN WALKING AWAY

I never even saw her face....I'm not sure she needed one to get attention, she was so striking to me as she walked away across the boulevard. What I saw that  stood out was the way her long skirt moved like waves in rhythm with her long hair as she walked across the street. The skirt was a dark dusty pink and was long to her ankles. The design was of three layers with the fabric being perhaps a heavy silk. Her hair was dark brown and very shinny in the sun. The hair hung long down her back to below her waist. Without the syncronized movement of both the skirt and the hair she may have just blended into the crowd, but like a well-choreographed dance, the movement was perfect and mezmerizing. I never saw her face, but I will never forget her.  



THE LADY WITH THE SUITCASE

The Paris Metro is chock full of people who in one way or another would be considered memorable. Today on our way to meet our friend for lunch we hopped onto the Metro, grabbed two seats, and sat down for yet another ear-shattering ride. At the next stop, two middle aged women got on pulling suitcases. They looked Russian but spoke French. They were excited and animated as they sat down, one with her suitcase in front of her, the other with her suitcase thrust between her legs. I was interested in both of them as they tallked but was more intrigued by the one who was--from all appearences--giving birth to a very large, very red suitcase.  I wear my sunglasses on the Metro as a way of shielding or protecting myself as well as a means of concealing my visual curiosity. The "suitcase between the legs" lady sat with knees spread wide. Her feet, clad in pointy-toed shoes, faced left and right, toes lifted in tension.  I could not stop thinking of myself in such a position so many times in my life. The word gynecologist kept popping into my head....I had to work at not smiling.



THE BEAUTIFUL, YOUNG, TALENTED ONE

Well, to be beautiful and young in Paris would be wonderful. If you added bright , educated, or talented to that description....well, does it get better?  I'm not sure, but it sounds good to me.

      As we walked across the Pont St. Louis after a very long day touring chateaux in the Loire vally, we were greeted by yet another jazz band, playing their hearts out to the delight of a gathering crowd. We have become accustomed to this free entertainment each night.  The bands are always good, and the music lifts you up and transports you further into your Paris dreams.

Last night, it took a turn for the "even better." As we got closer, we could tell that this band was a new one, different from the bands in the past. I believe they were all Americans and perhaps 60 plus years of age.  These guys had obviously been jazz musicians for more than a little while, and they were even better than the good bands we had been listening to.  Fine aged wine comes to mind.  We stopped as had scores of other people to listen to a piece written by the jazz great Bix Beiderbecke. It was teriffic.  

      However, as comanding as the musicians were, they could not hold the stage when she approached.  The music became the background as she stood by, leaning against the rail listening. You know, sometimes the sun, or in this case the moon casts special light on a person. She stood in the center of such a light. I don't think it came from outside, it came from inside her.

Beauty is beauty is beauty.....but there was something very special about this beauty.  Animated, she swayed to the music.

      She was not the only woman there who was comanding attention. Standing by the band was a lady who may have been 80 years old. She wore a beret, baggy sweater, and long skirt..... heavy socks and sandles.  She was dancing out in front of the band, stiff limbs moving to the beat. The young woman walked toward her and turned to be by her side and started dancing along with her. The older woman did not miss a beat.....the young woman glowed and moved to the music with what could only be the grace of a professional dancer .She began to scat along with the music as she danced. She was fantastic in her moves and voice and in the way she played along beside the older woman with respect, never trying to take the stage for herself, but sharing it with the other. All eyes were on the duo.....the young and the old. It created a picture in my mind of this being one and the same person, just for a moment in time, dancing side by side. 

Carole


Playing House in Paris

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 27, 2011 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have finally gotten to where I wanted to be. The point of spending six weeks in Paris was to have the experience of actually living here.

The city is so unblieveably beautiful that when you first arrive you can't help yourself, you are a tourist. Even on a third trip, I felt compelled to go and see the things that tourists go and see in Paris by the thousands every day.  So it has taken a while to stop looking in museums, at Opera houses, at Eiffel Towers and just relax enough to feel the heartbeat.....the rhythm of the place. Bill is still off making sure he has been inside every Cathedral and Museum he can find while I stay part of the day here in my wonderful little one bedroom apartment overlooking the Seine River and just soak it all up.  I understand this could sound boring...but for me it is getting to the place I wanted to be.....living, listening, watching.  Not the history of Paris, but the now of Paris.  I do some dishes, make my bed, open my shutters and fluff my pillows. I do laundry in a little Bosch washing machine. Without a clothes dryer, you learn to wash less. I now have no idea how I could do so many loads of laundry at home.....what in God's name am I washing?  Did you know you can just spot clean something and not wash the whole thing....I do now.

Cooking is fun here too.....I do it by stopping by whatever fabulous Boulangerie I pass by on my walks and picking up the most wonderful things to eat later in the apartment.  Preparing lunch, which is our big meal of the day, is even easier! We scope out some small little place that seats perhaps 10 to 20 people max and have two or three courses. This is food that is meant to be savoured and discussed.  What spice is in this soup? How did they do this?  This is so beautiful I hate to touch it.  Can I have a bite of yours? Can I trade you dishes....this is good, honestly, but yours is better and if you loved me as much as you say you do, you would trade right now!!  (My Pilates class awaits my return and will, with a little or a lot of effort on my part ,whip me back into shape!) You can only walk so much, and you must be sure that your walking is equal to your pastry intake.....Keep this in mind my friends!

The other thing that is so much fun is standing in line each morning to get the croissant and baguette  that we need for the day.  NEED, WANT, whatever, it is worth standing in line for!

I could go on about my bliss at making my Paris bed, or washing my Paris underwear in the sink, or cleaning my Paris toilette.....but NON......I think you get the idea.   Carole 

Seduced at last!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 21, 2011 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Oui.....it is true, I have fallen in love.  After a tempestous month long love hate relationship, I finally said , "I do love Paris, I really, really do!"

Sometimes it just takes a little time to see the best traits not only a person, but in a place.  At first there is the sparkle and glamour.....but this fades and is replaced by the hustle and bustle and noise and crowds of everyday life.  And for  me,  glamour is not enough.....I need to see the heart and soul of not only the person, but of the place.  This spark can be different for each one of us....but for me, I found my spark of  Paris in the Marais! 

I came here to see what it was really all about.....not just the fantastic Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Tuilleries, Giverny, Versailles, etc.........I have seen these places before and I loved seeing them again. But this was not the Paris I was looking for. I wanted to feel the heartbeat.

I think it has helped having moved to the Ile St. Louis into an apartment  with a balcony that looks out  on the river. I can see trees and water and look across the Seine to beautiful old buildings and part of Notre Dame. The leaves of the trees are starting to turn and the air is fresh and crisp. I feel at home here in this lovely old Parisian apartment. The squeeky parquet floors under my bare feet, coffee in hand as I sit on the balcony in the morning sun. I can not believe I was ready, only a few days ago, to go home and now I am taking of extending the 6 week stay for "just a little longer"  I have been seduced, yet again!!

What I love about the Marais.....let me count the ways!!

The lovely, creative small shops, the mix of people, the great falafel place where you can get a wonderful, filling, tasty falafel for 5 Euros ( L'As du Fallafel on 34 Rue des Rosiers).....the narrow streets, the beautiful Place des Vosges with the grand homes around the park (DSK lives here,a so watch your back sides ladies!!)....the art galleries, the SHOPPING, did I mention the shopping yet....the young girl playing the violin under the arches who made me turn away so she would not see a grown woman cry....the pace of the place......the Jewish bakeries with wonderful things I have never seen....the shopping.....the romantic way my husband took me into the Guerlain store and picked out a new beautiful perfume for me. (sorry Shalimar, after wearing you since I was 16....I have been unfaithful, such shame!) The beauty of the history of this area....I love everything about the Marais, plus the shopping.  OK Paris, you got me!   Carole

Making a Move..........

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 19, 2011 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Today is the last day at our apartment near the Luxembourg Gardens. After having lived here for one month,  tomorrow we move to yet another apartment on the Ile St-Louis. Our stay here has been great, I would highly recommend this rental agency and our apartment was well equipped, comfortable and pretty.  However, along with learning about this part of Paris, I think I have learned something about myself.

Like for instance, I really do not ever want to live in the middle of a big city, not even Paris!  We were lucky to be so near the beautiful Luxembourg garden, but even that was not enough.  Having grown up in and around Portland, Oregon I am used to my very own outdoor space. To live in a small space with no outdoor area of your own, with a view that is at times VERY interesting into your neighbors apartment.......well, even this was not enough to make apartment living worth while!  No, give me the wide open spaces of my own back yard. At the very least a balcony which looks out onto something green and living.  There was of course the time many years ago when from my living room window I happened to look down the hill and saw my neighbors doing "nude cooking"....now that was a treat given that they were well beyond the "beautiful body" stage of life.  It was memorable.  But on to this thing in Paris.   So I am ready to move because our next apartment is on the Ile St-Louis with windows facing the Seine river.  Yeah!!!  I get to look at trees and water and not at other apartments containing people.  Besides the island is like a little village right in the middle of Paris.   I will be able to go out of our apartment and walk around and not get lost....it is so small even I will be able to find my way around.  (Dear Bill must love me because he is really so nice and never says what I am sure he is thinking about my sense of direction or my memory!  Bless him, he has proven himself to be even better than I expected as a husband and best friend etc, etc, etc,) I think I amuse him in some strange way, like a puppy.

You see, Bill is the navigator of the two of us. At least when we are together that is how it is....he plots the route, figures out the metro connections and I follow by his side making sure every window has been looked into.  I know I could do this by myself because I have been to Paris in the past without him.  (I have no idea how I did this, it scares me to think of it!!) I can go to our second home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico by myself and find my way all over town. Of course we have lived part of each year there for the last 16 years so I guess that is nothing to brag about!  Anyway, I have a good feeling about our next apartment....I believe I will feel more at home and more in my own element with the trees and the water.  Paris is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world.....but it is a huge city and for sure not all of it is pretty or even safe. 

On several occasions we have talked to people who live here and though they agree it is beautiful they also always comment on how difficult it is to live here. Small apartments and no outdoor space....... particularly difficult with children.   So perhaps six weeks in Paris is enough!

Carole   P.S. Bill the navigator is planning a couple of trips outside of the city...I will report on those later.


The Lady with the white beret.

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 17, 2011 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

It was another glorious day in Paris. I think we have hit our stride. It takes a while to settle in, get yourself turned around from the sleep deprived state in which you arrive. I may write about our day later, but for now, my mind is still thinking about the lady in the white beret.

We were only two blocks from our apartment when around the corner she walked. I had looked at thousands of interesting people during this day, but she is the one that intrigued.  

The first thing I saw was the white beret perched on her head just so. The hair was pure Coco Chanel. You know, that bob with the bangs. I imagine that at one time she may have topped out at five foot two or so, but now, it was probably a push to get her up to four foot nine. She was dressed in black slacks that fit her to perfection, and a black tailored jacket. In her right hand was an ivory cigarette holder....holding a lit cigarette. She held it down to her side with the experience that only comes from a veteran smoker (so that the smoke does not get in your own eyes....) As she passed, my gaze followed her. She was a lady that was way beyond "a certain age"......she was perhaps 85 years old and gravity had pulled on her so that her back was quite stooped.  Never mind that, she carried herself with confidence and grace on her way to where, I do not know.  But it  was a destination that required her to look her most elegant, of that I am sure.  She walked in black high heels. Just the right height.....not too high as to look silly. Perfection.  In her step was not the lilt of a young woman or the steady stride of a woman of a certain age, but the careful and slow gate of a woman who had already been there. 

She is embedded in my mind's eye forever.  What can I learn from her?

What a lunch!!!!!!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 14, 2011 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Finally, a good lunch in Paris.  Sorry, it is not the fault of the food here, it's us........... we were looking for lunch for two that wold run less than $50 U.S.   I think unless you are really lucky in your choice of " bargain"  lunch spots you could begin to think that all the fuss about French food is simply not true. I was desparate!  The final straw came yesterday when we ate at a place recommended in a travel guide called the Cafe du Marche on Rue Cler.  I refer to it as "the two hair salad place"......oh yes, that is what I DO mean.  (do not bother with this place because the only thing good was the price and really that was way to much to pay for a salad with two human??? hairs in it!!)  

Today our luck changed. Perhaps it was because I decided that unless I could get my hands on what I consider a memorable lunch I was going to fly back to good old Portland, Oregon where we have some super fine places to eat!   Bill, my darling husband, suggested we try a place on Rue L'Eperon called L'Epigramme.    The " formule menu " of the day gave several choices....it was in the 24 to 28 Euro price range....but what the heck....why pay 15 or 18 Euros for something with two hairs that would not have been good even without hair.

The food was not only fantastic and unusual....the place was charming and the owners were wonderful and friendly.  We ordered two very nice glasses of red wine and had what was a memorable lunch.

We decided that paying $100 u.s. for a lunch that was this good was better than wasting money looking for a bargain.  My hope and good cheer has returned and I am looking forward to yet another fantastic lunch tomorrow!! 

I also tried my hand at photographing people on the street to show an example of what I am seeing the women and men wearing.  I'm not very good at this I find....I tried just hanging the camera around my neck and looking a different direction and just snapping a photo as they passed, but I have a very bad aim and kept getting just feet or just the top of their head. Finally I had to just man up and point the darn thing right at them with my eye plastered to the back and shoot away.  I'm still not very good at this.....but I will post my results from  today.. I photographed all ages and whatever I could get a clear shot at, or even a blurry shot at...... I may try some more tomorrow and hope I don't get yelled at.   Carole

L'Orangerie......Monet's Water Lilies.

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 12, 2011 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The rain was lovely as we stood in line under our umbrellas. Paris in the rain is quite wonderful, but then, I have always loved walking under an umbrella in the rain from as far back as I can remember. At three or four years old I would go out into the front yard and sit with my dog Laddy under an big umbrella, so this was even better......under an umbrella with my best friend and husband Bill......in Paris. The man with the golden ring had moved on and we still had all our belongings so were quite content to stand in the queue and listen to several languages being spoken.  

After paying for our tickets we walked into the first oval salon containing four of Monets water lily paintings. I was stunned, stopped in my tracks, breath held for an instant, eyes wet. (Do not cry Carole.....you will make a fool of yourself!!)  The canvases are huge and dramatic and beautiful. It was particularly wonderful to be able to walk so close to them.......my eyes only inches from the famous brush strokes. Many of the viewers were sitting on the leather benches in the center of this dramatic room, but I wanted to see up as close as possible the brush strokes....the layers of the paint, the texture.....what had been painted under the layer that was on top!!  Of course I sat down to view each piece from a proper distance.....but for me, a person who is trying to learn how to paint, to find my own way......the facination was in what I imagined the actual act of making these fantastic works of art was all about. An artist can learn so much from really studying the work of other artists.....how big the brush strokes are, or how small, fast, loose or almost haphazard looking.  Yet the whole can make the viewer cry.   

We continued downstairs to see works by Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, Utrillo, Soutine (was he crazy...?..... I was facinated by his work) Modigliani , Cezanne, Derain, and others. 

Soak it up Carole, study the style, colors, the brush strokes, take it all into the creative space in your mind and see what comes out later.  Carole

The man with the golden ring. Sept. 11th

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 12, 2011 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

We were on our way to L'Orangerie, walking through the west end of the Tuileries when a young man appeared to our left and, bending down, picked up a large gold ring. He spoke to us in French, saying something like, "Oh, you dropped your ring!"  He was so well dressed and so wholesome looking.......we replied that it was not our ring, but perhaps the ring of the young couple sitting on a bench taking photos about 20 feet away. He insisted NO, it must be ours.  We are a bit slow....but our instincts did kick in and we kept telling him " no"  while I started looking around for the other half of his team who may be about to pick our pockets. (hope they like  pocket  lint because everything of value was strapped to our bodies)  He finally said the ring was a "cadeau" or gift. He proceeded to show us the gold stamp inside and as I kept trying to hand it back to him..... he would not take it. He walked away!!  We watched as he then approached the couple on the bench and offered to take their photo together. (I am thinking their camera is going to get legs and run off....but maybe it was not worth the risk for him so he just took the photo and handed the camera back to the couple. We started to walk away when VOILA.....here he was again, this time asking for some money for a coke. OK, OK we get it, finally for sure he is a scam artist or pick pocket with great clothes!  We told him no....(a coke is about $6.00 U.S. or so and he was not going to use the money for a coke and he had irrited the heck out of me anyway!  I handed him the ring, back over my shoulder and he ripped it out of my hands and walked away.......speaking in French.....saying things that did not need to be translated. Carole

The Metro...........

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 9, 2011 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The metro is an efficient, fast way to travel around Paris.  Granted, if I had my way and more money I would be taking a private limo.......but I would then miss all the interesting people and the experience of riding the M.  So I should be glad I get to ride this loud, scary, system.....designed to transport the workers of Paris from place to place.

I am going to be REAL honest here....if you want to study humanity when it is tired, depressed, overworked, stressed, sad, wacky, worn out, broken hearted, pissed and just plain unhappy looking......the Paris metro is your petrie dish.

As I sat on the Metro #12 line last night, returning from a lovely day at Giverny I had lots of time to study the faces of my fellow passengers. One lady in particular stood out. She was, perhaps, 58 years old, and in my imagination had a mind numbing job in some gray office building several miles from her small, drab apartment. I actually have never observed a face that showed so much of the hardship life can bring. Her eyes would close from time to time, only to blink open, startled  to find that indeed she was still living. The light that went into those eyes seemed to be swallowed up by the emptyness within. She wore a permanent frown as if worry were her only emotion. Her mouth was turned down in a sad snear. I felt as if she had not had much to smile about for many, many years. I believe that at one time she was a beautiful, blonde girl who would turn heads.....but life had not  been kind to this little girl. She broke my heart and made me snap my own eyes open to how fortunate I have been in my life. I have had some hard times for sure, but I have been able to bounce back and move forward. I am grateful that the only forward movement in my life is not the grinding, loud sound of the #12 M arriving to take me home to my living hell.  May God bless her and give her hope.   Carole

Giverny....Sept. 8th, 2011

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 9, 2011 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Today we took the trip to Giverny. We took the metro to the Gare St. Lazare and bought tickets for the train.  i loved it as we glided out of the station on the super quiet electric train.  In contrast to the rather depressing, nerve wracking metro, the train was clean, sleek and quiet.  When we arrived at the town of Vernon we transfered to a bus and rode throught the countryside to Giverny.  


What a treat.....the gardens are so beautiful, the house is wonderful and unlike Versailles, a person can imagine what is would be like to live in this little village of Giverny and in the home of Monet.  The gardens are intensely planted with almost no open areas. The narrow paths are lined with flower beds that are narrow enough to be reached from either side. The garden was not at its  peak, but there were still so many things in bloom. The sunflowers were reaching for the sky and some leaves on the trees were showing their fall colors.  I love gardens at this time of year...a little more mellow....softer colors.

The ponds were also beautiful with the water lillies in bloom.....the two bridges were beautiful and though there were many people there, it was possible to take photos without tourists in the background.  It just took a little patience. We had lunch at the Impressionist Museum  in the village of Giverny which is as wonderful as Monet's home and gardens.  One of my favorite days so far......Carole

Blubbering to Bliss in Paris.

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 9, 2011 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Our daughter and son in law left today with three of our six grandkids.  It was a great two week stay with them. Even though we were all 7 in a 950 foot, two bedroom apartment, we got along very well. It was noisy and active, but fun. When they left I just cried like a big baby!  No, it was not for joy!  

I was so sad I had to clean the bathrooms and toilets....nothing like taking your mind off your troubles by scrubbing  two toilets. It takes lots of mental energy to look for those problem areas. After the bathrooms I went to work on the floors of the apartment and moved right on to moving all the furniture.  I guess I was nesting, making our little Paris apartment our own.  There is not much to work with because the owners do not live here. This is a rental apartment, and though it is very nice with a few nice pieces, it does not have the feel of a home.....it's a little stripped down feeling.  In short, other than rearranging the furniture, I brought the decorative pillows from the two bedrooms, put the bedroom side tables next to the two chairs and put the lamps from one bedroom on the mantle. I also moved a few of the decorative urns, and bought fresh flowers, fruit and a vanilla candle  for the coffee table.....voila!  My Paris apartment makeover.  I would love to go out and buy pillows and perhaps a new sofa and chairs, different table and chairs and paint a huge painting....but Bill thinks that is a bad idea and for the first time in many years, he may be right!

As to the real bliss....after my "makeover" of the apartment....we went for a walk over the the Ile St. Louis....strolled about and stopped at a outdoor cafe for a glass of wine. It was just lovely with a view of the river. We sat there talking over our great time with our family, how cute the kids were, how much fun it was to see their little faces as they saw the wonders of Paris....how quiet it is in our apartment is now, how peaceful, how neat, how we are going to have yet another 4 weeks of pure BLISS in PARIS!!  Carole

Finally, Fashion........

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 6, 2011 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The French have mostly returned from their vacations and they are dressing their newly bronzed skin in what I have been looking for.....great clothes!  Finally.....I had given up hope....for the last two weeks I have scanned the crowd for more than the ocassional well dressed woman. My guess is this....during the summer and when people are just back from vacation, they dress in a more casual fashion, even here in the middle of Paris.  I was seeing short pants, jeans, shirts and t shirts  (though worn in some cases with pearls) and lots of sandals. The pants were always skinny, even though I am seeing the fuller leg pants shown in the U.S.  I have not seen one pair here that were not very narrow.  The shoes are not meant for walking...they are meant for looking good and they do!  The scarf is such a big accessory  and hard to understand when the weather is 85 degrees with full sun and the wearer in in shorts and sandals.  Whatever.........

Today, however, was the first day I was seeing women dressed in a way that was head turning. My guess is that as fall in more in the air, the clothes on the street will get better and better. 

Our family is leaving tomorrow (that is if Stuart is able to get up from his sick bed....yup, you even get Montezumas revenge in Paris)  and my plan is to take a few days while sitting in a sidewalk cafe and take photos of what I see people wearing.  I am not sure how I will do this without them knowing, but I am sure I can figure a way.  I will post my results.

We are off now to the market to buy food and wine and pastry and tarts and cheese and maybe an egg.  Again, I want to say that we have had nothing but very polite and friendly help and service here in Paris. We not only love Paris, we love the French!

P.S.  Bill is now wearing a scarf knotted around his neck!  I am still trying to make my hair look good while looking like I do not give a merde....it isn't working for me, MERDE!!   Carole

The French are SO nice!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on September 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Everything I have read and everything I have heard prepared me to be treated like a leper in any and all shops I should dare to set foot in.

 This is my third visit to Paris but it has been many years and I actually have no memory of being mal treated in my past visits.  (oh, could it be that on my last visit I was newly in love and paid no attention to anything or anyone other than HIM!?)  I am happy to report that the Parisians are not only polite...they are very nice and very helpful.  Of course I am saying my 'good day' and 'thank you' and 'goodbyes' as I should...I am sure this helps.

For example, today when Kym, CC, Sydney and I were shopping, we got ourselves a little lost. As we stood on a street corner we were helped out by a family who ask if we were lost and needed help.  The girls in the shops seemed happy to see us and eager to help.  Our waiter yesterday at lunch went above and beyond his call of duty to make our lunch wonderful.  He moved us to a better area of outdoor seating, when Sydney knocked over her fathers beer....the waiter ran out to help clean it up and promptly brought Stuart another glass of beer...for free!  He spent time talking to Sydney in French as she is very happy to use her French as I sat and fed her words and phrases ....the waiter was charmed by this darling curly headed American 3 year old and we were all charmed by him.  

In general I would say either Sarkozy has laid down the law demanding that all French workers be nice to us poor Americans or in fact, if a traveler reads a little and understands what the French expect and consider normal polite behavior....we will be treated as guests in their country and their shops and greeted with what would be the French equivalent of a big, happy smile.   Carole


Trying to understand how they do it!!

Posted by allendecm@comcast.net on August 29, 2011 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

This is not all that easy....I think you have to have been born here. The look is not contrived at all......just threw this on...forgot my makeup and tossed my hair up....or messed it up.. or did nothing at all to it.......voila!!  I just look like hell if I do this.....what is their secret?  (It can not all be about being thin damn it!)

We went shopping today....or should I say, "leche vitrine"......window shopping to us....but licking the windows to the French!  Well, we did do a little more damage than just window licking.........but back to "the look"........

There were a few head turners out and about today. My favorite was a woman with very blonde hair, very tan and somewhat wrinkled skin (not many nips and tucks here)  ...wearing black...short skirt (her knees were not wrinkled!)  and short boots that were red and white stripe with black wing like things.  She looked great. But I am sure she had tried very hard.  Most of the women really do have a thrown together thing going.  My guess is this.....fewer but much better clothes, shoes and bags. Plus you just have to have been born here.

CC certainly turns heads here.....she has that "young all American" thing going and the French kids love that.

 Women really do check each other out....from top to bottom without trying to hide the fact that they are assessing you from head to toe. Kym noticed that the people sitting in the sidewalk cafes do not always face one another....they face out to the street as if watching a play or performance of some kind.

One last thing....besides shopping in the Bon Marche where I saw the MOST FANTASTIC CLOTHING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE ....we went to the grocery section. For those of us who live in Portland, Oregon....Whole Foods and New Seasons have a long way to go.....the bar has also been set very high here in the food shopping catigory!  Along with the prices!!  Carole


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