Insomnia… and Livraison! Delivery!

I got over jet lag quite quickly this trip. And I started to have some good night sleeps. (Good night’s sleep?) But the past few days I have had so much trouble falling asleep. Either it’s that I didn’t sleep well so I lazed too much and subsequently wasn’t tired, or I go out for an activity and come home with excess energy. Like last night after a day with my good conversation with Claire and evening with Toastmasters.

Yes. I drink Trader Joe’s Sleepy Time decaf tea before bed. Yes, I have a sleep mask. Yes, I stop playing with electronics and only read my Kindle with its internal light off. Sigh.

Speaking of the bed. (Sleep. Bed.) One of the reasons I picked this apartment was that in a review a renter said that the bed was great and firm. My experience has been a bit different. Yes. Firm. But I can actually feel the springs. I fixed by putting a duvet cover under the fitted sheet. Did I tell you all this? Well, there’s a solution, so you get the back story again. When the landlady was here yesterday, I pointed this out to her. We investigated. She suggested flipping it. And voila. Someone had flipped it so that the top was on the bottom and I was sleeping on the bottom and yes those were springs. And when you sleep on the right side, there’s a lot more padding. I hadn’t noticed because there was a mattress pad/protector on it. Easy solution.   Maybe the bed was too comfortable? That’s why I couldn’t sleep?

Very windy last night too – I woke up several times because of noise.  What I finally discovered was that the  wind had actually unlatched my shutters so my shutters were moving about making noise.

Back to my insomnia, today I just gave in and got up at 8. It was going to be a big morning after all.

MONOPRIX Livraison (delivery!) They are coming between 11 and 2. And I hope it will be fine because the form I was supposed to get to give the delivery guys was eaten up by the printer which then refused to work. I pity the ladies behind me in line as they too will have no forms – yet they can speak French like natives because, well, they are natives!

I, however, will have to manage.

Yesterday Claire told me she lived in London for 6 months when she was 18. She was taking some classes but she said she didn’t speak English. I asked how she got by – apparently, she pointed a lot.

I am pleased to say that I have progressed beyond the pointing. I spoke at length to three people in Monoprix and we all ended up understanding each other. On the way home, I stopped in a BNP Parabais – the BofA partner bank here – hoping to change a 100 bill for 20s. I actually said all that in French. Mais, desole (Are you learning this word? I hear it frequently. And I use it more!) they don’t make change. However, she was helpful and told me I could get it changed at…. Where? Of course, at Monoprix.   That waits for a second trip.

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As I Was Saying…. Of French and Toastmasters

We are skipping Sunday. It was a drizzly and rainy day and I once again lazed. The entire day. Between sleeping and doing things, I kept busy in the midst of the laze. I WAS busy. But I don’t think I had anything to show for it – except a couple French books for a few minutes, listened to the news on SlowFrench.com, surfed. OH YES. Surfed for things on Amazon.fr.

Amazon.fr is NOT like Amazon.com. Well, ok, it is – but it is in French. And I swear not as customer-friendly. I was searching for three things: Epsom salts (you can’t buy them here!), printer cartridges for the new used printer (very expensive in stores) and magnesium pills (research suggests that my stiff muscles could be a magnesium deficiency.). All three things seem either impossible to find or very expensive in a French store. So I was so delighted to find all three on Amazon.fr.

But there’s more. Remember – 3 steps here for 1 in the US. So I could have it delivered to my house but there is all that door code stuff and they ask about the concierge, etc. Didn’t want to go there. BUT there is a nice system here whereby Amazon will drop the package off to a delivery station – these are post offices, businesses, stores. Whatever. I find 10 around me. Whoopie. Then I just go there and pick them up. Super.

I am learning I should not get prematurely excited. Once I put all the payment info in, Amazon.fr is “tres desole” But those three items cannot be delivered to that place. Huh? So I picked another place. OK. Non, Amazon.fr remains “desole.” And a third. “ Mais oui, tres tres desole.” I went to Amazon.com who was delighted to deliver the pills to my CA address for a friend to bring over. I gave up on the Epsom salts and I bought printer ink at the expensive store.

Amazon.fr wins. I lose.

Hmmm. For skipping Sunday, I said a lot. And of course the result of the lazing was that I couldn’t sleep. So I started in on The Moveable Feast by Hemingway. I must admit that I haven’t read much Hemingway. The verdict is still out – except that this one is, mais oui, about Paris.

Monday started a busy week. I met with Claire, the conversation exchange person who is in publishing. She says she is quite fluent in writing English but very uncomfortable speaking. I would say my French is better than her English. But that’s ok. I think we hit it off and have scheduled another meeting in two weeks (I will be in The Netherlands next week). Hitting it off is important. You have to trust the other person will be honest with you and correct you as needed. And you have to have things you can feel comfortable talking – just chatting – about. She can’t meet on weekends – they are typical Parisian – they have a house in the country and leave every weekend. Alain does too. Alain and I are meeting both Wednesday and Friday this week.

After Claire, I discovered Darty – the Best Buy of France. Except on a so much smaller scale. Everything is on a smaller scale. Although, I recall in Tours there was an Auchon (not sure of that name) outside the center of town that was more like a Walmart size… But not here in Paris. Next time I am in NY, I will have to check out the Targets in the city. Maybe it’s more city life than Paris life?

And home to meet the landlady for a variety of fixes… and installing the printer I bought from her. Of course, I may have ink but I don’t have paper. We used notepad paper to test it. It’s on the list for tomorrow.

And that is exciting! Big trip to Monoprix for a DELIVERY….

The night ended with Toastmasters. In college, I actually dropped out of any class that required an oral presentation. I started to feel comfortable presenting in my thirties. So I was never really drawn to Toastmasters until someone told me that it taught him how to write a speech. Now that is a useful skill. There are over 5 English speaking Toastmaster clubs here in Paris. There was so much more structure than I realized. And while I normally get bored with structure, this makes sense. And once again, I met wonderful people – a Belgium woman who worked in Munich but was here on business and visiting – extremely fluent. Several Irish, a couple American. A Brit who teaches English here and has lived in Paris for 20 years. I am so jealous of the British who can just move here and find a job without all the hassles we non-EU folks have.

And I got a fabulous text from a close friend to say she is getting married!!! Congrats! Nice way to end the day. Just hope I sleep tonight. I have to be up early at Monoprix!

Saturday Sunlight

As I said in the earlier post, I lazed this morning.  But finally the sunlight enticed me out.  Not for much, frankly, but to be in the sun and in a lightweight jacket not THE coat.

I stepped out and it took a moment before I was sure my choice of outerwear was correct.   I never noticed this in the US, but here, I first feel the cold in my shoulders.  And it was cold there as I went downstairs.  Once outside, the sun warmed me up.  I missed the marche again.  They are over by noon and I just am not an early riser here!  But I did notice as I strolled by the shops that they have changed the window displays again.  Tiny shops.  Multitude of displays.

I decided to check out the Neuilly Bookstore.  This involved a bus ride for a couple stops.  I probably could have walked there and back for the time it took for the bus to show up.  Yet this allowed me an “encounter” with a French woman.    She asked me how long I was waiting.  Some other pleasantries.  And I said in French – you understand me!  And that confused her.  I always jump into conversations in the middle and have to remember that the French like structure.  Greet them.  Tell that what you are going to tell them, tell them, and thank them good bye.  Yesterday Laura asked for coffee – un café, svp.  I added.  tea.  In French.  Good accent.  He looked confused.  Laura later explained that I must put an article in front of the noun.  Otherwise they don’t get it.  So I had to have said un tea.

Someday I will get it.

Anyway, the French lady did eventually agree she understood me when she realized I was from California.  We got quite chatty after that.  She told me I should wear my purse over my shoulder and under my coat in the metro.  And she even said my scarf was “tres chic”  ooh la la.  But when she walked past me on the bus as she was getting off, I swear she repeated several times, wake up.  Since she didn’t speak English, I don’t think that was it but I have no clue.

I am coining the term “bustimate.”  That’s when you are sitting at the bus stop and trying to estimate how long it will be for the bus to show up and whether you should just get up an walk… but then you run the risk of missing the bus by 2 minutes and seeing it pass you as you are walking on.

28/3/2015

The Friday Of Speaking French

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The light in this city is amazing…  City of Light.  Many people make the mistake of making that plural.  And think it refers to the twinkling lights on Tour Eiffel and other monuments.  But really it refers to the spectacular effect of sunlight on the city.

Early day meeting Alain at 10 (yup – that’s early for me nowadays!). And speaking French. His English is definitely better than mine. But he was sweet and patient when it was my turn to speak French. And he’s interesting and smart and able to explain things like – high school. French courts. IMG_5166And whatever else I will ask. I guess I passed his test as he said he’d like to meet weekly – 45 min each French and English. I am up for it – but now I definitely need to study! So I am hitting the books this weekend.  We met in a nice Café near Palais Royale.  And I found this lovely cat sitting in a lobby area at the top of the stairs by the toilettes.

Then off to meet Laura (from Sausalito and returning in April in case your forgot the players…) for lunch and shopping – but she was taking the bus so I had some time to spare… IMG_5170so I just dropped into the Louvre for a few. I love this annual pass – never feel like I have to see all I can see when I am there. And I discovered something totally new to me – apparently in 1984 they ever excavating the courtyard Carree and found the foundations of the palace that had been there years – as in 1400 – ago. Soooooo cool.

Then back to Paris and the 6th Arrondissment for lunch. At a restaurant that was new to Laura (been coming to Paris for 30 years) but was delicious. Best chicken I have had in France. And the dessert of poached pear was also delish. The lunch took 3 hours and two glasses of wine. I really enjoy this style of lunch!   After we walked some – she was on her way to Bon Marche where I want to go to someday so I tagged along. And as we walked, we passed my favorite restaurant – the soufflé one – and I was delighted to see that it really is now open again. That is on the short list of things to do soon.

Laura helped me sign up for the carte de fidelite at Monprix.  Which means some discounts but more importantly, free delivery!  You can buy online.  Or you can fill up a cart at the store, take it to the delivery counter and they write it up and send you to the caisse (check out) and then I guess you run back home because they deliver within 3 hours.  You have to buy over 50 euros – but that’s easy if you are stocking up on the heavy and bulky stuff.  Hmmm.  More strategic planning needed here…

I came back home for a quick rest before setting off to another MeetUp.

This one – La Vie Parisienne – was about Hemingway and American writers. Edith is smart and shared interesting tidbits. But has a heavy accent. Still – good stuff and I have added to the list of what to read. I think the first one will be Moveable Feast. And met an Irish/American doctor.   She is Irish but was married to an American so is also a US citizen now.  In that wonderful position to hold both US and EU passports – so she can come and go to Europe whenever she wants – no need for a visa.  My dream.  She has arranged her life to work 6 months and take 6 months off. So she goes back in May. We exchanged numbers (oh I LOVE my French phone number!) and may plan a walk. This is her second extended stay in Paris so she has done many of the Meetup walks already. We shared stories of our own walks around the Rue St Denis and the many prostitutes we saw – over age 50 prostitutes!  We were both amazed as it seemed a “nice” neighborhood.

Friend Bill found an apartment so his Parisienne adventure is not cut short.

Note to travelers – a handy utensil is that weird thing you sue to help open jars.  I am having a friend bring it over.  It goes on my list for any future long term stay.  And speaking of long term stay – did you notice my comment yesterday that my ticket doesn’t expire until March 2016?  It’s been 3 weeks now and I am feeling more Long Term Stay just because of the kitchen – I actually am building up a pantry.

IMG_5184 (2)And I hate this coat.  Actually.  I love this coat but I am so tired of wearing it.  Where is the warm weather?  Oh – just as I wrote that, the sun has come out and my living room is bright and warmer.  It might get to 60 today.  Maybe a late afternoon chance to try the Velib’ again.  (It’s now attached to my Navigo Decouverte carte so renting should be easy.

I am typing this early Saturday afternoon.  I lazed and lazed this morning – after breakfast went back to bed to read and snooze.  I am slowly but surely getting over that manic drive to go out and experience Paris every waking minute.  A good thing or I will soon be sick and we are NOT getting sick in Paris.  Let me rephrase that -I am HEALTHY in Paris!  And France!  And Europe. And the UK. There, I think I got that covered.  I have a book to finish (I do not recommend the Portrait of the Lady in White at all but I only have 15 minutes left so I am sticking to it.)

The sunlight beckons.

(I also hate Windows 8.)

28/3/2016

Another resting day.. Thursday 3/27

I just have to get on a schedule. But I think it will take a while. Wednesday was a great day after the Tuesday rest. I had more energy and less body aches. I did remember that the gym guys do tell you to take a day off each week. Walking over 5 miles daily – and several 8 miles is a lot when you don’t walk that much regularly.

IMG_5152This photo is out my kitchen window – it’s the courtyard of the building next door.  Amazing how they park cars!  Did I post this already?

The Over 50 Meetup for Conversation was extremely popular this week. Almost 30 people. So many people to meet and contacts to make. Met a lady who had lived here for 35 years and says she has two clients for me. OK…

By chance – par hazard – I sat next to Edna who turns out to be a teacher of FSL (equivalent of ESL) and who wants to improve her English. So we spoke in French for about 40 minutes and my brain did NOT explode. Amazing. So we set a time to get together to practice. She understood my French! Whoo Hoo me!   She described it as “quiet” which we never really figured out – except to say I spoke slowly. And I signed up for Conversation Exchange and have three other French people I will be meeting with to speak English/French. One is a tax attorney, the other works in publishing and the last says he’s a pilot.

After getting all excited about this, the reality sunk in. French conversations – while I was in immersion class last fall – did make me feel like my brain was going to explode. It is very fatiguing to talk in another language. Even Pig Latin – which I could never do. So now I am being strategic about scheduling – only one a day and not on a day with other big events. And eat lots of carbs before!

Hmmm. Another strategic issue. Finding lots of them here, aren’t I?

So before the Meetup, I dropped by the train station and bought my tickets for the Netherlands and a visit to Gear and family, ending with a day in Amsterdam. Sad to say, my Senior Carte does not work on trains to other countries!   This will be the first week of April, just after Easter. I am looking forward to it!

And after the Meetup, I dropped by the SFR (telephone if you don’t recall) to figure out a message I received that said my service was completed. Finished. Used up. Even my French friend Sabine whom I roped in to help me translate at the Meetup couldn’t understand it. French communications leave something to be desired. Oh could my Maximizer strengths be put to good use here. It turns out that message referred to the first 5 euro internet package that came with the SIM card. The normal plan is all fine for another month. The good part about this – well, that it’s all fine, of course, – was that the guy in the store didn’t speak English. And yet, I understood. Each time this is a huge accomplishment for me! I want a band and streamers! And I look forward to the day that I don’t notice.

Then to BHV for that final cushion cover (I didn’t buy it because I thought it was too expensive. Then after looking online and finding nothing, I decided it was ok to spend 15 euros. LOL Selective memory. When I got there I discovered it was 35 euros, not 15. At that point, I no longer cared and just bought it.)

IMG_5157A friend from the walk Meetup and from Minnesota is having major apartment problems – the company that he worked with… the broker… went into bankruptcy. His landlady told him. And that she had not received the money he paid for rent. And he was supposed to move the next week to anther apartment and that landlady called him and said yup, she didn’t get paid either. So she had gone and found a new tenant and he would have to find somewhere else. Yikes. So he is scrambling to find something during the Easter break. After Easter, he’s got several possibilities. So we met for a drink that turned into dinner at Camille. I broke down and ordered a steak. I haven’t had red meat since 2001. Did I write earlier that I was rethinking this? Without beef, the French menus are so limited.IMG_5158 I snuck in some beef in ravioli last week and didn’t get sick. So I went full out and ordered filet mignon last night. With béchamel sauce. OMG. Tasty. Why did I give this up?  We have plans to go to Le Cigale Recamier if he doesn’t go back early to the US (which he doesn’t want to. I wouldn’t either!). Le Cigale Recamier is my favorite Paris restaurant – the soufflé place!! Mmmmmmmm. Looking forward to that.

But when I got up after the wonderfully leisurly dinner (love the French relaxed style) (the waiter tried to speak to me in English – I finally asked him to speak to me in French so I could practice and he was from that point on delightful.) Anyway, standing up was a bitch. Took 10 minutes walking to work out the kinks in my hip. So Thursday has become another resting day. Except for a quick trip for the heavy staples – took the chariot. LOL That’s the term for the shopping cart you pull behind you. Now I sit here typing and looking out from time to time at the drizzly day.

IMG_5156And here are photos of them cleaning the streets and sidewalks here in Neuilly-sur-Seine. A small water truck drives slowly down the street and two guys – on either side – hose down the sidewalk with a hose that extends out of the truck…IMG_5155

A bientot.

Oh My God

Got new information. I just found out from Delta – and in writing – that my ticket does not expire until March 2016… Infinite possibilities…

Resting, Reading, Racuuming (Chez Moi Tuesday)

Is A Routine setting in?

Still nesting. I have the apartment almost where I want it in terms of comfort and looks. I think I might have discovered everything at this point. (Did I say SALAD SPINNER?!)   Really, if I was just here for a few weeks, I would have been delighted. 9 months? Got some cushion covers for more color. My plates. Some things for the bathroom. Last trip out yesterday for the cushion cover and to stock my pantry for the Stay Chez Moi Tuesday.

And rearranged some furniture today. It’s hard to write facing the window which lets in so much light. Turned the table to the wall… now I just turn my head to the left for inspiration… although across from me is an office building. Still, in my heart I know it’s Paris out there! (OK fine, for you sticklers… Paris is a block and a half away – at least it’s France out there!)

Today I am resting and recuperating and reading and … dang, is there an R word for housecleaning?… while it is raining.

I dusted and Racuumed. (made up an R word). Admittedly, it doesn’t take long in a 400 sq foot place, but I am just opposed to cleaning… sigh.

Finished my book about Berlin. Have another to start. Need to do Internet Chores. And even study a bit of French. And just let my body rest – it does NOT need to climb one single stair today.

What I notice about European life when I clean is how small everything is. We Americans are so used to SPACE.   A British woman pointed this out to me in 2007. She said you just have land and you can spread out…. Like our ranch homes… and she noted how big the US was and how long it took them to get anywhere.  Here – compact. My apartment is a quarter the size of my townhouse in Sacramento. And the storage space is unique. And now I so understand Ikea! But it makes you realize, we don’t need all that STUFF. Now I sound like George Carlin! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x_QkGPCL18)

But really,  I am noticing the trash I create. My goodness, I am using the front and back and sides of every piece of paper for my lists and notes – in California, I just take a new sheet of paper. Of course, there I have a nice big garbage bin. Here I am noticing everything I am putting in the trash, the trash that has to be carried down the three flights of stairs and out to one of the two garbage bins that are shared with maybe 15 other households. I have figured out the trash day is Thursday – so empty the garbage on Tuesday while there is still room!  Strategizing!  Just like when to buy milk and water…

Now to sign up for things French on the internet: SFRhow to recharge my French phone.  How to recharge my Navigo (Metro electronic pass- like the Clipper card but stupid [they do it by month, not a set amount you charge as you use it… well I suppose if I travel A LOT, this makes more sense…]) and how to connect my Navigo to the Velib’ (the bikes you can rent around Paris which I plan to use frequently in the summer).  I seem to be able to navigate the French websites.  Let’s hope this streak continues!

Smog… And a trip to Caen

SMOG…

When last I  wrote on Friday… the smog was setting in. There was great debate here about who should do what. I am not fully fluent yet but from what I was reading on the internet, the mayor of Paris was demanding the restriction of cars into Paris but she didn’t have the authority and those in the district and the federal government were hesitant to take action. The RATP (rapid transit – bus and metro) responded by free journeys for everyone on Saturday and Sunday as incentive to not drive your car. IMG_4528Friday the air was bad. Saturday it got better over the day. In the afternoon I saw blue sky. IMG_4532But apparently the particulant count was still high? So I decided to get the heck out of Dodge and looked about for a nice train ride. Fortunately I found a map that showed the smog situation across France – I would have picked Reims – smoggy there too!

So instead I jaunted up to Caen. Interesting pronunciation, Caen. Just Ca… or Ka…   Heck, I never made it around the room in second grade with the phonetic cards – don’t trust my French. Leisurely trip. Took a train at 10, got there at noon and made my way to the Tourist Office. I had checked them out briefly the night before. Best place to start a visit.IMG_5111

Except in Caen. Except in March. Except on Sundays. Did they bother to update their website? Nope. But they had a nice typed note on their door saying they would not be open on Sundays in March.

IMG_5094 IMG_5101IMG_5104IMG_5105Note the modern stained glass? Original bombed out…

Instead, tasty lunch at the Tourist Café with the Chateau Caen in view. Not your Loire Valley Chateau – this really was a medieval castle. It was built in the 1000’s. Reminded me of Carcassonne. Except before Viollet-le-Duc refurbished it. (Interesting aside – he was an architect from the 1800’s who was responsible for restoring many medieval structures. They say he did much research and was true to the age… but I think he added his own touches from time to time.)

IMG_5118 IMG_5113IMG_5128 IMG_5144

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Donjon foundation in background

The castle had a donjon – it’s the name for the tallest tower in a castle – often surrounded by another moat. I have seen three now – Chateau Vincennes, Paris; Loches, and now Caen. Vincennes is still in good condition – floors and stairs. Loches is a hollow tower but with stairs and walking platforms of steel grillwork set into the walls, and here at Caen, simply the foundations visible.

Caen is a fairly “new” city as most of it was demolished during the D-Day preparations. Canadians flew bombing missions to prepare the way for the landing forces. Clearly, from all the plaques and monuments, the citizens were so happy to have the Allies show up and free them from the Germans, they were ok with the destruction.

Which leads me to an aside – Just finished In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – about William Dodd, the US ambassador to Germany in 1934… Now I am on a kick to read all I can about WW2 and the Resistance – so if you have any recommendations –fiction or non – please let me know.

Then the train back to Paris to a clear evening sky with the quarter moon (or some fraction) in plain sight. Where did the smog go?

But the free bus and metro continued through Monday – and if you had a car with an even license plate number, you couldn’t drive it in Paris on Monday (23). Today: rain. No restrictions.

.IMG_5149 IMG_5150 IMG_5152Rain – the view from my front window tot he left and right and from my kitchen window.  I am always amazed at how these people can park a car in the tiniest of spots!

Puttering..,

IMG_5059 (2) It’s an interesting phenomenon.  You feel busy but have accomplished little but you are tuckered out.  Last night I had several things to research on Google and I decided to just go to bed.  Oh.  Wait.  Well, I had two hours of client calls so I guess that does fill out time and I am getting paid.  Need to reframe this thought…

I puttered in the morning on Thursday and went to the Musee de l’Evolution in the afternoon.  I was supposed to join a MeetUp group of sketchers but I never saw the group.  IMG_0193The museum was quite full of teens and toddlers and college students sketching too.  So I just sat down and drew some on my IPad.  IMG_0197

Of course, I got bored after several pages and decided to check out the other places at Les Jardins des Plantes.  (Thank God my museum-crazy friends weren’t with me because I didn’t read every sign.  I didn’t even go to every floor!  Sacre Bleu!)

Then IIMG_5077 discovered a treasure next door!  Literally.  Les Tresors.  Gemstones.  Crystals!  I don’t think I have ever seen such large crystals – some were 5 foot high.  Now there I did hang out quite a long time and read a lot.

IMG_5085And I saw more security. The museums are across the street from a very large mosque.  Apparently there are police now at all mosques and synagogues.

I am still surprised  when I see the machine guns.  IMG_5087And I couldn’t quite figure out if I felt more secure because he was there – or if I felt that I was in a potentially dangerous area because he was there.  Didn’t matter much as my bus came by as I was pondering the question.

Yes. Client calls last night.  Always good to earn money.  But with the time difference, these went on until 9..

Friday morning was more rushed than usual – I had to get to the Ikea shuttle location by 11.  But I wasn’t quite sure where it was and I didn’t want to be late and miss the only one.  It’s located by France Television offices.  And yes, there is security there!  In typical French fashion, there is nothing to indicate this is the shuttle stop.   Fortunately, the security guards see it several times a week and so pointed me to the right place.  And there I chanced upon a Frenchman: Bernard.  Bear-nar…  We chatted.  The French are rather reserved so this was a nice surprise.  He is a  musician who worked in LA in the 80s and spoke excellent English.  We alternated so I did speak some French but I need more work.. At Ikea he went to buy a chair and I to buy household goodies.

I got several hand towels for the bath and kitchen (some of them here were more like rags). And my plates!  For a whooping 0,59 euros.  That’s about 65 cents each.  And they aren’t bad at all and light weight.  I splurged and bought 5 in case I drop one.  Two matching wine glasses.  Some utensils.  Some hooks.  Pillow cases.  A pillow for the living room and cover.  I would have bought two pillows but just before check out, I took everything out of my basket and tried to pack it in my shopping bags and backpack.  That second pillow would have been pushing it. Happy with my purchases I grabbed a sandwich for lunch and checked out the other shops.  There is a little mall there at Thiais.  Picked up some cheap but very nice scarves – well I am in France!  IMG_4527And then went back to the shuttle bus.  Even that was so French.  Or rather, so non American.  The shuttle dropped you off in the truck delivery lane.  No sign.   And you come back to the same place to leave – and again, no sign.  You walk out through a chain link fence.  Good thing I remembered where to go or I wouldn’t have had a clue where the bus was.    Bernard was there and we sat together on the return.  He had told me he liked chances to practice his English.  When we got to France Television, I gave him my card with my email and told him I would be happy to meet again over coffee and he could practice his English but I had to practice my French.  So I might have a tutor.  Then I grabbed the bus home and noticed the pollution.

Frankly, I thought it was just hazy the past couple days.  Apparently we are experiencing worse pollution than Beijing.  Bernard talked a  lot about it and by the time I walked home, I was smelling it and feeling queasy.  So I have stayed in and am breathing my apartment air.

Starting a book on Germany before Hitler – thanks for the suggestion, Teri.    And later tonight will get on Conversation-Exchange.  I simply must start speaking French more often and longer than the quick exchange with shop people.  And maybe buy some flowers to brighten the place up.

Once again I have exceeded my 10,000 Fitbit goal.   But something is wrong with it as it tells me I climbed 125 stairs yesterday and 58 today.  That’s supposed to be FLIGHTS not individual stairs.  oh well.

Not sure of the plans for the weekend – low key I think.  It’s supposed to be chilly and cold on Sunday – 48 degrees.  I am so looking forward to sitting in the parks some day.  Soon?

‘Allo ‘Allo!

I have a French phone number!

It’s a pre-paid program but it has a French number and 3GB of data per month – which puts my ATT international plan to shame.  That’s 120MB. For those of you who know me well, you know how hard it must be for me to limit my internet use on my phone.  I look up everything.  Wikipedia is my close friend.  And here especially, Google maps is indispensable.

They put in a new SIM card.  It worked.  But then I had to purchase the “recharge” at the Tabac.  Of course, not at the phone store.  Someone I met later told me the Rule of 3.  Whatever can be done in one step in the US takes 3 here.

And then once I had the coupon and the code, I had to call the number and of course I couldn’t understand.  But…

So the morning was taken up with – yup  you guessed it – shopping and getting the phone.  The afternoon was the Meetup for those over 50.  That’s where I found help and a wonderful French woman called and answered the questions correctly and now my phone works fully for the next month.

This is the most interesting Meetup yet.  The people are so varied – a guy whose wife works and he follows along (from Oakland…  near Broadway Terrace!), another guy who was in the Peace Corps and now lives in Paris (and is from San Francisco – wearing a Giants cap), a woman who is here looking for an apartment to buy (from Sausalito and yes, bought her business cards from Ram Print (my niece manages it))…  Then there were others from NY, Chicago, Tokoyo, London, and Paris.  A very multi-cultural group.  Some are bi-lingual but not all.  They do other things for fun – like jazz clubs and walks.  I would have jazzed tonight and tomorrow but I had Frangish and tomorrow I have clients.    But I am definitely going back to the Wednesday group!

Frangish was a one time experiment.  Good concept but I couldn’t hear anyone.  The bar was simply too noisy.  So I apologized and left yearly.  A guy from the Wed group warned me of this but suggested another site – conversation exchange where you can find someone to practice English/French one-on-one in a quieter place and for longer than 15 minutes.  At Frangish you do tend to have the same conversation over and over when you get a new partner.

And I came home to find my first mail addressed to me here in Paris!  Well, Neuilly-sur-Seine.  It was my membership card for the D’Orsay.  Whoopee.  I feel like a resident now.  Wait.  I am a resident!

Following up on comments:

And I tried to answer your questions, Joe – but not sure it took.  Joe asked if I saw more security around Paris these days.  Not really.  I was shocked in 2007 when I saw soldiers with machine guns at Heathrow.  And at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  And every year since.  On this trip I haven’t notice more – I have only been at Notre Dame and looked from across the Seine at ET.  But I did see more security on the train at the station at Troyes.  That seemed odd until I recalled that on the train to Milan in 2012 we saw security guards take someone off the train in handcuffs…   The guy from NY who worked for the UN said he does see much more security around Paris.

And Kate – thanks for the fabric softener idea – but I discovered the vinegar and baking soda together were more than a bottle of softener.  Let’s hope it works.

Bon soir

M

Tour de France!

OK so I wasn’t wearing the famous yellow jersey and I wasn’t cycling around the Arc de Triomphe- but I could see it! IMG_5028

I conquered the Velib’ today!Vélib' It’s the bike rental system of Paris.  Just when I finally get a credit card with a PIN so I can use the system, they change it so you can buy a code and just use that at the kiosk.  Oh well.

It doesn’t matter.  I got to ride a bike today!! Heaven!!

Actually, it was a lazy household and business morning – prepping a PowerPoint for a client – she cancelled but I did get it finished and now I am prepared and don’t have to do that again.  And I did laundry – see other post.  And a quick trip to the market…

IMG_5030I took advantage of the lovely weather to get a bike.  There is a stand at the end of my street- but if I rented one there, I would have to ride Paris/Neuilly-sur-Seine streets.  Big streets.  So instead I walked over to Bois du Boulogne and rented one there.IMG_5026

It was a bit confusing… but they have a phone number and advertise that they can help you in ENGLISH.  So I figured it was an emergency and I could afford the $1 per minute call.

So I see a lot of days ahead riding in the park.  Next up – continuing the research for a French phone and a monthly Metro pass…