OMG Uber…

This morning I got up early to print my boarding pass for the flight tomorrow.  I use yahoo mail so during the process, I went to the yahoo France page to log into mail.  And now I have discovered the best place for news.  (I would go to Yahoo often in the US – but here, I do so much on my phone…)

There I found  all the information on the Uber activities yesterday.  And some of this activity was actually 2 blocks from my apartment.  But I was out and about in Paris itself so saw nothing.   Glad I saw nothing.

TOPSHOTS French CRS riot police arrive to intervene as demonstrators block Porte Maillot in Paris on June 25, 2015, as hundreds of taxi drivers converged on airports and other areas around the capital to demonstrate against UberPOP, a popular taxi app that is facing fierce opposition from traditional cabs. Access to three terminals at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and in a number of areas of Paris, especially Porte Maillot, were blocked. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD

French CRS riot police arrive to intervene as demonstrators block Porte Maillot in Paris on June 25, 2015, as hundreds of taxi drivers converged on airports and other areas around the capital to demonstrate against UberPOP, a popular taxi app that is facing fierce opposition from traditional cabs. Access to three terminals at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and in a number of areas of Paris, especially Porte Maillot, were blocked. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD

And trust me, if I saw this, I would have been walking the other way.

As I made my reservation for the Le Cars Air France bus to the airport, I also found this printed on their website – a special notice:

“Warning:  Thursday, June 25, 2015.  Due to taxis’ demonstration, strong disturbances are to be planned during the day.  Stops can not be served during the day.  We thank you for your understanding and kindly request you to excuse us for the caused embarrassment.  The Sales Department.”

Did you see that Courtney Love tweeted to Francois Hollande – about them attacking tourists!  You tell him, Courtney.

I do love France, but it is different.

I am safe.  Not expecting demonstrations over the weekend and hopefully by the time I return next Wednesday, there will be something else for the French to worry about.


i didn’t use Uber today. In fact, I have only used it twice.  Today I was on the metro and bus.  

But I thought I would do a quick post because I am hearing from many friends – beware Uber today.  And I had no idea!  I spent the day speaking French with friends.  Then I started to receive emails and texts from the States.  Although I have apps for Le Monde and Le Figaro they didn’t have much info.  I finally read that the taxi drivers forced the traffic into a single lane at the airports and then attacked the Uber cars.  Yes. The Uber cars are recognizable – black or grey, clean, shiny, and well dressed drivers.  I read that 7 police officers were injured.  Crazy. 

Saturday when I fly to Berlin I take the big airport bus.  The taxi drivers won’t take that on – it would squash them. But I will leave earlier. On the other hand, I can’t see them protesting on a weekend. 

But something else was going on near me.  My bus 73 stopped at Etoile as usual but the driver stood up and said something that sounded like he was not stopping at Neuilly but going to Porte de champaret.  Huh?  And indeed he turned on a different street.  So I hopped off to take the metro. And saw that the street the bus usually goes down was blocked off to traffic.  And when I got out of the metro in Neuilly there were police officers blocking the way going back there.  No clue why.  And down by Concorde there are bleachers set up like he Rose Parade is coming. 

I don’t know.  But don’t worry about me. All is well. No Uber in the near future. 

(And I am not the only one- I texted 3 French friends- they didn’t know either!)

A Multitude of Miscellany

Le Chat est disparu. Vraiment. Maybe you remember the photo I posted of the cat at the Café Le Ruc where I meet Albert? He was a nice well groomed fat cat who lounged on the seats at any table he choose. I haven’t seen him for the past two weeks so I inquired today of the waiter. I love this waiter. Old school French. Deliberate. A bit stoic but warms up. By now we are almost friends – I have been seeing him almost every week since April. So I asked in French and got an answer in French that the cat has simply disappeared. I knew we were friends when he asked me if I had taken him – with a little laughter in his eyes. Non, non, Pas Moi! So I miss the cat. I think they do too.

It was an exciting morning at that café. While waiting to pay the bill (Albert had left, it was my turn) I saw four guys running down the street. Fast. And then about 4 others more slowly. And I heard commotion and then I heard Stop Him but that was around the corner. So I have no idea of the outcome – but I am assuming I saw a voleur (thief) being chased by someone who discovered the pickpocket. I hope he got him. Unlike other times, there were no police in the area. This is one block from the Louvre. And during special state visits, there are often police in their fancy white shirts, ribboned, and capped, directing traffic. Not today.   Just tourists dodging traffic to get to the museum.

Which I did too. One of my best investments was the annual memberships to the Louvre and to the D’Orsay. These get me special entrances with no lines any time. So I can just drop in when the feeling hits me. And what is great is that I get to see only that which I want and don’t feel any guilt that I didn’t spend hours there – that I missed something.

2015-06-24 11.42.45Today I went to the Napoleon III apartments. This is from the 19th century. And it has never been a favorite of mine.2015-06-24 11.41.08
Except. I guess I have changed. I actually liked it. I actually could see myself sitting back in one of the chairs, relaxing, having an aperitif.

2015-06-24 12.29.44And after I wandered through the Moyen Age – the medieval section for some tapestries and china. Now this is the way to enjoy the Louvre.

But let’s skip back in time to my visit yesterday to the Immigration Museum.

After a delightful lunch -yes a big lunch- with three friends, I set out for the immigration museum.

2015-06-23 16.07.34I took Uber to get there quickly as it was across Paris.  Coming back I got to take a tram.  French trams are great – I rode them in Tours last year.  Now I have discovered they are putting them in a circle around Paris.  I think it is about 75% complete.  A nice alternative to bus and metro.

Back to the Museum.  I found it very interesting that they have a museum dedicated to immigrants. I believe it opened in 2007. I think the closest thing that we have to this is Ellis Island and it’s not the same thing at all.

There was the regular exhibit which followed immigrants starting in about 1900 when they first started keeping track and having identity cards. Until then apparently you could just move anywhere you wanted, buy or rent. Then they started the identity cards and from that point on it was possible to trace where the immigrants came from. In a way it’s a history of French colonization from Algeria to Cambodia and all other all other places in between. 2015-06-23 15.42.15And other countries in Europe – Italy, Austria, etc. The museum shows what those immigrants brought with them to France -from making and repairing accordions to a violins to clothing –many tailors – to even a poster from I think the 70s that said the immigrants clean up the dog shit and we need to be thankful for them otherwise Paris would be full of dog shit. Literally. And Seriously. An interesting approach but certainly blunt and it makes its point.

And the special Fashion exhibit is actually why I went now because it will be closed before I come back from Germany. I’ve discovered over the years that I really like these fashion retrospectives in museums from Balenciaga to Gauthier. But I was curious – why fashion on display at the museum of immigration? Obvious answer if you think about all the famous designers. 2015-06-23 15.24.34They design for Chanel. For Dior. For Givenchy. So many of the fashion icons starting in the early 1900s were immigrants who then were fully adopted and embraced by the Haute Couture. Alexander McQueen: not French, Balenciaga: not French; Tom Ford: not French, and there’s a lot of other names that I am missing but they designed for the major fashion houses. These immigrants were fully embraced. And what a great reminder as to the benefits of immigrants.

We are such a melting pot. This is a bit odd to us. A French friend shared that an American visitor asked her where she was from. She said – France. The American said, yes, but where were your ancestors from? Um. France. We are so used to that question in the US. Except for the Sioux, etc.. we all came from somewhere else. These people just lived here, in most cases.

Yes. Now immigration is a questionable area in France – with the terrorists etc. There were maps tracing the routes. One map showed a lot of people going to South and North America: Canada and the US. One little tiny dotted line coming back from the US was the only indication that was some traffic from the US back to France. But as I stared at the map, I realized – me and my ex pat friends – we truly are immigrants.

That’s too heavy a thought for now. Something to mull over. So, instead, back to today’s lunch:

After the Louvre I made my way to the Opera area for lunch with a French friend. The bistro she suggested was packed so we went to another close by that had an American theme. She picked it. It was fine. I was there for the conversation with her, not the meal. But it was funny. Reminded me of a Washington DC restaurant that served California pizza back in the 90s- it had broccoli and other strange things on it – like nothing I had ever seen in California. So this place served Caesar Salad. With chicken. Sounds great. Classic. But non. Mais non. It was Caesar with chicken. And ham. And tomatoes. And Texas Toast. That was on the menu. It showed up with all that PLUS pepper. And mushrooms. And guacamole.

I am discovering great places for conversation exchange. Tomorrow, back to the delightful café at the Tuileries Garden. Then about 5 (open late on Thursday) at the café at the Musee D’Orsay. How cool is that? Part of me wants to continue to discover new places. The other part enjoys the warm feeling of having a routine and a place that’s “mine” in Paris.

Health update – the cold that started at 6:15 on June 1 in the evening seems to have left at 6:03 am yesterday, June 23. Weird. When I opened my eyes, I just felt that the “bug” was out of my system. However, the congestion lingers. I bought congestion meds today. One last try before going back to the doctor.

And Travel Plans. Off to Berlin on Saturday morning. I finally spent several hours on Sunday going through my various Berlin books and I think I have my general plans. I am not taking the laptop or the tablet, so my blogs may have to wait. Or maybe I will be daring and post from the phone! Stay tuned!

German- I don’t speak German. I’ve been in Germany several times – the last time in 2010. Then my lack of German was not an issue – it was just a train ride with a friend so we spoke to each other. Now I am going to Berlin for four nights and as I research things to do in Berlin I suddenly realize that German seems like a foreign language to me (well duh). I mean a language for which I have no affinity whatsoever and particularly after having been in France now for four months – and I do think in French from time to time – and I realize that I’ve been coming to France since 2007 and I’ve never questioned my ability to communicate (how effective my communication is – well, that’s another question). But I’ve always had an affinity for French and now I realize going to Germany I’m going to be relying more on my English and then I won’t know automatically what words mean or have any clue how to pronounce them. Shrug.

Today Albert and I had an interesting conversation about how words can change our lives. Just by using the words, even before we may fully believe them. In my case, how I started to say : I am moving to Paris – before I knew how and when. Et voila! That led us to the concept of Impossible. As we talked about that, Albert told me there is a saying in France – “Impossible n’est pas francais.”   (Impossible isn’t French.) He said it. I just stared back. And finally burst out – but that’s not true! Everything is impossible in France. He did the classic Gaelic shrug and said oui. But it is a saying. Another French friend confirmed. And I told her – but but but, that’s a lie. And she said, yes.

  1. Weird.

I like my French friends. I am getting along well with French in general, but those French who seek out Americans – we are sympatico.

I ask clients often – are they happy? And I asked that of myself today. And the answer continues to be a resounding yes. Yes. And yet, I have discovered a niggling thought at the back of my head. It’s wondering about my future – and what happens in the fall. I go to London in September in order to extend my legal time in France. But that will take me to December 20. Do I go to Ireland? Scotland? The Channel Islands? And push my time here to January? And what of my house? And the friend living there? And do I immediately apply for a one year visa? And do I sell my stuff? Or Goodwill it? And And And…

All things that really don’t matter right now. My focus is improving my French. (Ohh! You didn’t see that, but I first wrote ‘my focus is learning French” and I corrected myself, admitting I do know French and now I just improve it! Like that! Owning French!)

So. Not an issue. Not even a concern. Just something I have noticed. Recognized. Called out. And am moving it to the back room to wait. Time out for those thoughts. Live every day. In Paris.

Cooler words cannot be spoken.

Skeet shooting… with real pigeons

Forget that clay stuff. You will recall I purchased a small squirt gun yesterday for one euro at the   Paris version of Kmart? So I had a chance to use it three times this morning and I am improving my process in stages.   First, fill the squirt gun. Second, always prime it by shooting into the sink quietly. This also allows you to make sure the water hasn’t leaked out. (It was only a euro after all – I didn’t buy the big semi-automatic – although maybe I should pick up one – water!!!) One time I just pointed the gun and they were gone by the time the first stream shot out. Those birds are quick.

A2015-06-21 10.14.26nd you have to open the window quietly. By now if they hear the latch, they take off. If the window is already open, I don’t even look – just extend my hand with the finger on the trigger and start shooting once I am past the window frame. Ha! Sometimes, I shoot at empty space. I do hope the neighbors aren’t looking. But other times, success! And even as they fly past. Once this morning there was only one – that gave me hope! The partner was probably saying, you go, you try it out! I am too scared. But after I did get him, they both came back. I shall not give up, however!   I shall conquer the pigeons!

Do I hate birds? Not in general. However, I am not enamored of them right outside my window. I discovered this antipathy to fowl during – of all things- a massage. Relaxing away. Enjoying the soothing music. (You know they always play soothing music!) Then the song changed to one more of nature sounds. And some birds were chirping in the background. Suddenly, this change came over me.   The relaxed part of me casually observed this other Marcie awakening to this sound. And it wasn’t pretty. I found myself wanting to reach for a shotgun or rifle (but while I am a fairly good shot – summer camp – a shotgun would be more effective) and find those dang birds and keep them from singing! At which point the relaxed part of me became alarmed and took action to tell the therapist it would be a good idea to change the music immediately. She did. I now always explain we cannot have soothing bird sounds. It’s my Mister Hyde trigger. So now you see why a squirt gun is a mild response.

And sort of fun, actually. Who will win?

Enough of that.

I am off today to purchase tickets for the Force Majeur in September in Versailles (the city not the palace). It’s Eddie Izzard. I love Eddie Izzard. A British comedian.  Some of you many know him. I adore British humor – maybe it was living there at ages 9-11? eddieHe is smart and bizarre and fabulous. And this year – while I am in Paris, he decided to have a tour of the West Coast. Yes, he was actually in Sacramento! Horrors. I ignored every post on FB about his concert and mopped about in Paris. He did a tour here in France two years ago – yes, in French. He worked on it with his brother, I believe – someone fluent in French – and memorized it. So I got to France too late and left US too early.

But wait! It turns out – thanks to my niece who went to his show and heard him talk about this – he is returning to France this fall.   So today I am off to FNAC (French Best Buy) to purchase tickets. My niece will be visiting then – and I will have 3 more months of French – so what I don’t get she can tell me as she saw it in English. She isn’t fluent in French but wants to go anyway!

Observation time.

You know I have had a great number of conversation exchanges with French folk. I am so pleased with this. Not simply for the opportunity to speak French, but for the chance to just sit and talk about the world and life with someone else. Perhaps we have lost the art of conversation? We are always so busy for work or family or hobbies – so focused on getting something accomplished. globeWhen do we linger over a cup of coffee, tea, or even water? And of course, being in France, a glass of wine? Here I am doing it almost daily. With a variety of people with different interests. It’s a fabulous part of my day – of my time here. We talk about cultural differences. And we speak quite frankly. And we talk about whether we can talk about these things without insulting the other. And everyone is so open and eager to understand. From the education system, to cooking, to vacations, to terrorists and freedom of speech. Is this an intellectual side of myself that I didn’t realize I was lacking? Is it the type of person who is also interested in learning a culture that I didn’t meet in the US because we all share the culture? Or we think we do. Most people project onto others their own point of view, because, well, don’t we all think like us?

I thank the Universe for bringing me such great people for these conversations. As this continues to develop, I think I am actually making some long term friends. Elizabeth and I spend almost 4 hours last Friday. That’s not your normal you talk 30 min and I talk 30 minutes. And Chantelle is in the Clinique and wants me to visit her there – that’s not a normal conversation exchange. And my lawyer CE who is somewhat a coaching client at the same time – he told me last week that his self-confidence and self-understanding has increased since his time with me. Score. There aren’t better words for a coach to hear than that.

Again, thanks Universe. And thanks to me for manifesting such wonderful people – my friend Ned an expat contractor from SF has had some horror stories about CE.  I don’t.  (Smile!)

It is La Fete de la Musique. The Summer Solstice. Longest day of the year. And I am taking it easy today – coughed through my phone call with my niece. Would have stayed in all day playing pigeon skeet but now I have to venture out for Eddie Izzard. Maybe find at least one music venue on the way. Then home to plan Berlin. No French studying until I know what I am doing in Berlin. (Any suggestions, email me please).

Mea Culpa

Have I utterly confused you?  I did a post that got posted too quickly.  And apparently I trashed it in Word Press but I didn’t realize it.  So, Now there is the Post to follow the post and the first post which is titled 10 Lost Days now thirteen….  And interestingly enough, Word Press restored it back in the right order… before the Second Part…   And I don’t know if it is going to notify you…

Enjoy.  My brain must still be clouded by my cold.

The Second Part of the Previous Post…

Hmmm.   Be away from Word Press for two weeks and forget how it works.  Yup.  Somehow – and unfortunately I cannot say through no fault of my own – that last blog got posted immediately instead of being in draft form.  And I wasn’t finished….

Dang.  No pictures… So I will add the interesting pictures here…

The Neuilly Grenier

2015-06-06 13.56.49  2015-06-06 14.01.17

The Art Nouveau Walk…

2015-06-07 11.27.05 2015-06-07 11.44.40 2015-06-07 11.38.53

Aardman – Claymation exhibit  2015-06-08 17.49.05

and the Tresors – the crystals again!2015-06-12 12.30.49 2015-06-12 12.04.55

Pere Lachaise cemetery     –    Abelard & Heloise.  And Jim Morrison…

2015-06-13 13.14.50 2015-06-13 13.26.14

Then Buttes Chaumont…  and of course Notre Dame..

.2015-06-13 12.13.542015-06-12 15.08.03

2015-06-13 21.02.10 2015-06-13 22.11.24

I dropped into the Louvre for an hour before a conversation – and discovered this special exhibit on Thrace…  can you imagine these gold beads for embroidery.  And the guard who was more tired than guarding!

2015-06-10 12.22.54  2015-06-10 12.39.37

And while I was at a café, the police were moving their barriers warning about another Manifestation.

2015-06-11 13.00.27-1

And who looks happy now???  Moi!  And Gea at the left.2015-06-14 11.45.37

The Monoprix delivery I snuck in late Thursday afternoon – he brings my stuff by bike!

2015-06-18 18.54.38 And on the Metro – the third dog I spotted this week…

2015-06-19 10.37.27

But back to the horses.  What was amazing is that just up from the Seine off of Boulevard Henri IV, there is a big building – 2015-06-19 12.25.16that looks like any other Hausmann building in Paris.  Except that behind it is a courtyard with an riding oval and then other buildings for stables and even a black smith. 2015-06-19 11.40.37 The tour was in French – I understood a lot but my two friends are fluent than me so they filled in what I missed.  However, we all lost the numbers.  So there are between 80 and 150 horses stabled there.  Beautiful horses.  All have to be a particular color (brown. roan?) and height (in meters not hands so I don’t know but big).  And the colonel of the regiment has the biggest horse – and it is huge!  He has to use a block to mount.

2015-06-19 12.03.14 2015-06-19 12.20.41  (yes – she photo-bombed my selfie!) 2015-06-19 12.34.32It’s similar to the K9 divisions for cops.  The horses are assigned to the soldier for life.  And at the end of service, the soldier has the opportunity to keep the horse.  They start training at 2 (the horses, not the soldiers), start to work at 3 or 5 and work will about age 15 -17.  It’s a boring existence though – most of the day is spent in the stable.  An hour of exercise and I guess other events for parades or maybe patrolling… but mostly stables.  (I suppose it’s better than their ancestors who actually galloped into battles.) They (again, the horses not the soldiers – I am sure they get a lot more time off – this is France after all) get a mini vacation (about a week) in the country – we weren’t sure if that translated to once a year or several times a year for the mini – but they also get about a month in the country annually. The officiers have the darker horses.  And the grey horses (white horses are called grey- gris en francais) carry the various flags.  There’s even a rank to that – the president flag gets the grey horse – the prime minister does not.)

Today Saturday June 20 I discovered the Paris version of KMart.  But smaller of course.  I wanted to buy a new set of sheets – cheap though because they are only for 6 months (oh I hate to write that!).  I was directed to Tati.   I picked up the sheets and several other small things for the kitchen.  And a plastic sheet for the rug.  Don’t call me whatever you call those people who put plastic on their furniture!  But my rug here picks up so much lint.  It’s black with a red and white design.  And the French lint irritates me.  I found a plastic tablecloth for 6 bucks.  It saves my back from vacuuming so often.  Yes, I am lazy.  AND I bought a squirt gun.  Two pigeons like to hang around.  First on my balcony on the street – I hung a plastic bag and that keeps them away.  Now they are hanging out in the back courtyard of my building and I can hear their cooing.  When I open the window and clap my hands they fly off.  But next time I shall hit them with the water gun as they fly by!  HA!

One of my CE folks went to Crete for vacation a few weeks ago.  She wrote me that they had a big storm and when she went out after, she slipped on a wet sidewalk and fell and broke her leg in two places.  Yikes. I was going to visit her today but between other visitors and my cold, she asked me to wait until Monday.  Actually, I like that because now I have no pressures for the rest of the day.  I was supposed to go to Chateau Rambouillet today but my friend Laurel suggested we wait til a weekday – Monday – but it’s supposed to rain.  Shrug.  Someday.

2015-06-16 16.54.21Food and conversation…  my newest conversation with the hotel person was at Prince de Galles hotel in their courtyard for  a gouter… a taste of France.  It was a pot of tea and these three tiny pastries.  For 32 dollars.  Each.  Probably comparable to the Beverly Hills Hotel, actually.  Very luxe.  .

2015-06-19 20.14.28The other photos are two delicious salads – one with warm chevre cheese and honey, the other lentils and chevre cheese. 2015-06-19 13.14.00 Tasty

Update on French ability.  Yikes!  Mon Dieu!  I have jumped a level… well, maybe a step – well, really more than one.  Studying grammar has paid off.  When reading my French novel, I am noticing construction that I didn’t get – and I didn’t get that I didn’t get it.  So that’s exciting.  But last night Elizabeth and I had dinner.  She’s one of the French as a second language profs.  She commented that I was doing things automatically, naturally.  For those of you who have some French, I used celui-ci and celui-la without even thinking about it.  But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I just had to stop and savor the moment.  C’est formidable!  I actually take notes now in a combination French English – I jotted down to tell you about the warm bread at the boulangerie (that it should be illegal for them to sell warm bread!  Too tempting.  How do you get it home in one piece?) and I used warm and pain.  Warm is shorter than Chaud and Pain is shorter than bread.  Interesting?

 We talked from 7 to 1030 and when I got out of the metro, I had the sight of the Eiffel Tower blinking at 11 and turned to walk home and had this view of the moon.  Beautiful.

2015-06-19 23.03.09 2015-06-19 23.03.20

Plans…  many more conversations this week. And more studying.  But Saturday I fly to Berlin for four nights.  Thus I really need to put time into the various tourist books I have – I know pretty much nothing about Berlin.

Thanks for reading.  And I have heard now from more than a few of you that you were wondering where my posts went.  Thanks for your concern!  J’aime bien.


10 lost days… now 13…

A preface to this blog.   Yes it has been a long time.  One of my dear readers emailed me last night to check up on me.  How sweet.  Love you!  (Oh dear – we Americans use that too much I have been told – j’aime bien, monsieur Reader.)    I came down with an awful cold that finally turned into a sinus infection – this will be covered later in this blog.  So please bear with this edition that will appear to be written in fits and starts.  And it was…  Truth in advertising…

June 6 -Garage Sale – French style

A very nice and cool stay at Hotel Movenpick in Neuilly. It’s a Swiss hotel chain. And I would recommend them. Nice business style hotel. They had several Globus Tours staying there. Got on the elevator with a couple- clearly American. I asked them if it was hot enough… Oh my! They said they had packed for cooler weather and were clearly surprised and hot! I reassured them that the next day would be back in the 70s.   As they left me on the elevator, I was appreciating the fact that I do have some cooler clothes in my wardrobe. To think I was wearing my heavy wool coat last month! But I skipped over my Uber experience. Very pleasant. It was more expensive than I expected originally. Should have been closer to 5 euros. It was 11. But I fell into “surge” pricing. That’s when there is high demand and low supply. So Uber says you pay more so we can entice more Uber cars out on the road. It was fine. It was hot. I didn’t want to hassle the bus. The car was spotless. The driver well dressed and polite. And I was given a bottle of water. Nice all around.

The hotel itself was not in an air conditioning mode. The public areas were hot. So I settled in my room to nap and read. And that’s all I did except for a meal break for room service. I had no desire to go sit in the warm restaurant. I know I am sick when I go to bed at nine. I wish I would get well. It is getting better, however.

Today I woke up somewhat better. And decided to take the bus home. Good old 82 was two blocks away and stopped a block from home. Except. Not to day.

Today was GARAGE SALE DAY in Neuilly. And the streets near me were all closed off so the bus just went on to the next stop. Uber was looking better at that point but Uber wasn’t worth two extra blocks. I slung the bag into backpack mode and got home not too sweaty.

Of course, I had to go explore. It was not a garage sale so to speak. The French term was Grenier Vendu – Attic Sale. And it was totally bizarre. About 7 blocks were closed off. And the marche space was also full. The shops – which are high end shops – had tables out front with their merchandise on sale like a side walk sale in the US. And then between and everywhere else were tables like you would see at a normal garage sale. Wonder how long people saved up stuff for this event. Clearly some were second hand stores or antique dealers. And some were associations – a parent association for a catholic school. My only purchase was a tradition from the bakery. Then home to study some French.

Oh. Did I say study? I guess I will have to go do that!

There endeth the last blog notes. That was June 6 and now it is June 16. Lots of that time in between was spent sleeping and feeling rotten. Trying to get the strength to do something and getting knocked back on my butt a day later. It was… it is… a simple cold. Just tough! Lots of coughing. The French cough syrup and nasal sprays are not effective.  So strange about the pharmacy.  The cough syrup is behind the counter.  He opened the box to show my the cup for measuring.  Yes, sure.  He points at a place – fill it this much.  Yes, sure.  Really, I have been taking Robitussin or Nyquil for years.  I can read.  Then I got home and read.  So the dose is 7.5 ml.  And the cup that comes with the syrup has lines for 5 ml and 10 ml.  No wonder he was pointing.  But really? wouldn’t you make a cup with the right dosage?

Thank god there was a delivery from the US that I picked up on Saturday. Flonase is now over the counter US and in two days I feel much better. I am going to revise my list of meds to bring over. Flonase. Zicam. And probably Robitussin.

During this time, I postponed some jaunts. But I did go on the Art Nouveau walk with Edith – saw some wonderful Hector Guimard buildings. And I made it to the Wallace and Grommit expo. I love the Claymation. But clearly this is not a medium for me. The precision. The detail. The time. Painstaking work. Fabulous animation.

Will try for a couple museums in the next week. My friend from the Netherlands arrived  last Thursday. She is twenty years younger than me. Frankly, I never noticed a difference – but there is when you are twenty years older, sick, and she wants to do things. And frankly, I want to do things too. She was understanding and I was stretching. We did do and see things, ate delicious meals, and sat in the sun.

One discovery was the Butte Chaumont. It’s a park in the 19th arrondisement- so pretty much all the way across Paris from me. But well worth it. The site has a shady history – where people were hanged, bodies tossed, minerals quarried. But in the 1800s they cleaned it up and sculpted the grounds. I had this great idea to ride our bikes there. I mean, riding bikes in Bois de Boulogne is fab – why not another park.  It turned out to be a Comedy of Errors day. First the velib’ – we couldn’t find any stations close by with more than one bike. So we went to the first. Fortunately, while we fiddled with the computer to rent one, another one mysteriously appeared.  But then -to find out I couldn’t use my Navigo card to get a bike. Had a conversation and found out that I owed them 7 euros for the last bike. Huh? I bought a year pass?!? Turns out that the year pass is for the first 30 minutes. A Frenchman explained it to me later – the point is not to rent a bike for a day (ok?) but to keep the bikes moving. So ride for free for 30 minutes. Take a break. Do your errands. Take another bike. So the navigo pass makes it faster to rent a bike – just put the pass on the reader and the bike unlocks. Hmph.

Anyway, we got the bikes. She is, from the Netherlands, of course, used to riding in the busy streets. I now can say I rode a bike in Amsterdam and in Paris. On the street. So we get to the park. Looks gorgeous. And there is a sign that says – walk your bike. Hmph. We found a place to leave the bikes and proceeded on foot. I can understand why no bikes – it is a very hilly park. They sculpted well. It’s great to sit on the grass and lie back on the hill to relax. I shall be back here.

From there we stopped at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. I have been here several times. I am including photos of two famous spots – Jim Morrison’s grave. And that of Abelard and Heloise. My middle age history shows itself with the latter.

After I had several bus moments – waited for bus 69 for 15 minutes until I gave up and took the metro. Then waited for bus 24 for 10 minutes until a kind gentleman pointed out an electronic sign that said Pas de Service. Ya, No Service. There were two other people already waiting when I joined the line so I didn’t feel completely stupid.

While my friend was here, we also went back to the Tresors stone/mineral exhibit. Still marvelous and she loved it.

Edith had a crime walk that evening – just around Ile de la Cite and details about police. Always interesting. After we all went for a drink. All 16 of us from many places. Interesting people. I may have another conversation exchange partner from it – an IT guy.

After my friend left, I returned to the Tuileries for a late lunch and to study French. Camille, one of the CE people, we were supposed to meet at 5. But she didn’t show up. I think my email didn’t get to her before she left the office last Friday. I like her – but she does not have a cell phone. Not even an old unsmart phone. Nothing mobile. So if I am late, I can’t tell her. If she wants to change, she can’t tell me. Only email at work! Not even at home. I didn’t think people like that existed anymore.

This morning June 15, I am feeling much better. I am hesitant to declare myself well. But I slept over 8 hours and lounged in bed for a decadent period of time.

It’s a hard day ahead… I have to meet my Oakland friend (who brought my stuff over) for a meander through Paris and a meal at the soufflé restaurant.  Yup. Twice in a week. Hard life here in Paris.

There endth the second entry.  Today it is June 20.  After declaring myself almost well, I had a decline.  On Thursday I went to the doctor, official sinus infection diagnosis.  Antibiotics, steroids, and cough syrup.  He was 90 euros, the medicine $15.  Once again they gave me boxes of prepackaged pills…  so a bit more than prescribed.  Healing should be underway.

I have a new conversation exchange.  Two!  One is the gal I met at the Georges V hotel.  Very interesting – in her 40s.  Director of housekeeping at a nice upscale hotel but going to take a new job at a staffing agency.  Sharp.  She lives near Versailles – a 45 minute commute. Because she likes trees. And then there is the director of a section of the Ministry of Finances – retired.  Worked in the tax division.

My friend Laurel has returned from the Bay area and is back to looking for an apartment to purchase.  The romance in the states did not work out. So she is back and happy.  I am hoping she will let me tag alone.

Friday I joined two other friends on a tour of the Republican garde cavalry division.  Amazing.

We’re Having a Heat Wave…

We’re Having a Heat Wave… a Parisian Heat Wave…

The temperature IS rising. It’s supposed to be 91F today. And yes, no air conditioning.

And it is officially my 4th day of this #$*&@ cold. When I last blogged, I was premature in my confidence that I had beat the cold. Wednesday I went off for my conversation with Albert and after an hour of chatting away, I got the phone out and texted all the other meetings to cancel them. I just came back (via the grocery store where I bought chicken soup) and went to bed. And stayed in bed yesterday, Thursday. And today Friday I feel a bit better. But not at all 100% yet.

And the heat. I don’t do well in the heat. The only reason I enjoy Sacramento is that at night it cools off most of the time. (One summer in Visalia, I swear we had 4 weeks in a row where it didn’t get below 70 at night. Dreadful!) And yesterday Paris was in the low 80s and didn’t reach 70 until 11. So….

Did you know there is a cool app called Hotel Tonight? It works with hotels who have excess supply of rooms. The hotels are happy to take less than normal to fill their hotel so they offer specials for Tonight. You can tell where this is headed? I found a wonderful hotel near me for only 103 but less the 25 dollar coupon so $78 for tonight only. And yes, air conditioning. Whew.

I figure that calculates out to less than $5 per hour of a/c comfort.

Now I just have to live through this heat until check in at 3. If I wasn’t still feeling under the weather (haha – no pun intended but why not!), I would just go off to some a/c museum and find a café near the seine in the shade. But sick? I freely admit to being a wimp.

Earlier this morning I walked over to the Galleries Gourmande – closer than Monoprix – for more Kleenex. With the factory working overtime in my head, tissue is a necessity. I have gone through several boxes this week. Picked up some more chicken soup and Ricola cough drops. And staggered back through the heat.

Paris slows down in this type of heat. Everyone walks more slowly. The fashion police seem to have relaxed their code. I saw Frenchmen in shorts! What is this world coming to??? Paul the baker at the Palais de Congres shopping center did not have “tradition” bread so I came home and stopped at the closest boulangerie. Some of you may recall that I had dubbed them the snooty ones. I must admit they are getting nicer and recognize me. When I got to the head of the line, the young man immediately asked and reached for a tradition. I guess after 3 months, they can relax.

And there is a huge sidewalk sale going on today. I am not sure why. But all the shops have tables out front with merchandise. If I had felt better, I would have explored. I just wanted home.

Really, I just want air conditioning. 45 minutes to check in.

And I am going to take Uber! So this is a day with very new experiences all compliments of Apple and the Iphone.

Travel Tips…

Who doesn’t have a …. Hmmm. Horde, Host, Pile, Flock… A bunch of electronic items with them when they travel? I know I have too many but oh well. Laptop. Iphone (US). Iphone (France). Ipad. Tablet. Kindle. And yes, electronic toothbrush. OH and my FitBit Charge HR. (The latter so I know how many steps I have taken and how well I sleep. You’d think I could figure out the latter without the Fitbit…)

So charging is a challenge. Outlets are a challenge. At least part of the process has gotten easier. None of my devices actually need a “converter.” That thing that changes the 220v to 110v for our US devices. The companies have gotten smart and make the chargers that come with the devices the converter itself. But where to plug them in and when? It becomes a true balancing act when you see how few outlets there are in European apartments. Well, heck, in US hotels too. And my house in the states that was built in the 70s.

I find it used to be a daily challenge – what gets charged first. But this time I bought some French power strips and so I can plug in my device charger (with, of course, the European plug adaptor – different from a converter because it doesn’t convert the electrical charge, it simply allows you to plug the US plug into the adaptor and into the European plug.) To finish that earlier sentence – I can plug my device charger into the power strip and then just plug the USB cords in as needed. I don’t have to unplug over and over again. BUT wait there’s a better idea! From Ned. He brought a US power strip. Plugs in all the US devices to their own type of plug and just uses one adaptor to plug the power strip into the European wall outlet.

However, do beware. I was reading up on this on Amazon. You must have a power strip that takes 220v. Otherwise, it fries. Goes up in a whiff of smoke. I found one on Amazon – Monster – that a reviewer said will work. A friend coming over on the 16 is bringing me two. I got her one too as a thank you.

Of course, when I go to England, I do have to find an adaptor for the English plugs. Which are, of course, different from the French plugs. I have two people I will ask to find and bring.

The other tip: bring Zicam and Neosporin. They don’t sell Neosporin in Europe. One of those issues where they think we use too many antibiotics. I won’t argue with that in general. But I still bring a big tube. And now that I know about Aleve, I will bring that too.

The Zicam – I don’t know how many of you know about it. It’s zinc. And a wonder drug as far as I am concerned. Even pharmacist friends tell me to use it. At the first symptom of a cold – tickly nose or throat – take Zicam. You have to let it sit on your tongue and dissolve. You don’t eat it – the magical effect comes from the mixing with your saliva. All I know is it works. Last night I was supposed to go to Toastmasters. Just as I reached for the doorknob, I felt that tickle in my throat. I stayed home and immediately started the Zicam. It was one of the fastest growing colds I have had. My head turned into a regular bodily fluid factory. The kind of cold that would last weeks. At least days! Zicam every three hours and I feel pretty good this afternoon. It’s a full moon tonight and I was going to go down to Notre Dame for some photos – but I may just be sensible (Oh how boring!) and stay home and stay well.

Last tip – you can never have too many zip lock bags of varying sizes.

Do you have any tips to share? I would love to hear them.

Bus Meditation…

Well no, I don’t really meditate on the bus. Well, I guess this is a meditation on (about) the bus but I don’t meditate while riding the bus. Once or twice I have gotten distracted on the bus or metro and almost missed my stop but that wasn’t meditation, it was reading my Iphone or planning too far ahead and losing sight of the present.

However, now that I have been here for almost 3 months and have become a regular bus rider, I am noticing how long the transportation process takes. In Sacramento, I allow 10-15 minutes to get downtown. Maybe 20-30 for Roseville. 5 minutes for Safeway. Last night I met a friend for Grammar Studying and it took me 45 minutes. Today, to return something to the Galleries Lafayette store, it will take 40. Sure I could do it on the Metro in 30, but the bus is better.

So I was thinking about all this transportation time. And that maybe I could put it to better use (in my Coaching mode, I would realize this is because of my Strength of Maximizer who always wants to be efficient). I always envied those workers who commuted on the DC metro or NYC subway or even BART who always had a book open, reading some exciting thriller, horror story or lurid romance (did you know that bodice-ripping romances sales increased on Kindle and other e-readers – because you don’t have to be embarrassed by the cover!). I have always worked where I had to drive to work. And usually relatively short distances. Friends extoll the audio-books: they just put me to sleep. Or I get distracted and then have to rewind and it becomes both a pain and safety hazard.

Back to Paris. Maybe I can start to use the bus time to read also. Nope. I tried it once and after 2 minutes, I was compelled to look outside at Paris. Even on the same routes, I still want to see what is going on, discover some new nuance, a cool bistro, just be in the Paris bus moment.

Paris is a convivial city. My social calendar is very full and it’s fun.

Computer Battle Aside: So I have been fighting Windows 8.1 and Dell. Things just happen on my laptop. The mouse from the touchpad will disappear. The windows change. The sleep mode takes forever to wake up (does it take Ambien? I am lucky it doesn’t sleep walk out of the apartment!) Yesterday I devoted time to the control panel. And I think I have fixed some issues. Something called Palm Recognition (?) was on. OFF. Some others that I can’t recall now but at least I now know where to go. So why am I telling you this? Because there are still gremlins lurking in my laptop but maybe nice ones? For all of a sudden, a tiny white block appeared in the bottom right corner saying English keyboard – to switch input methods click here…. Hmmm. Maybe I can type in French after all.

Well sure I can type in French. Regardez-moi! There you go. But many words have accents, etc. And wouldn’t auto-correct in French be helpful? My next stage of French Study is to start writing. I thought I was going to have to do it by hand and scan it to my French friend… And I still might.  Sunday morning I spent three hours on French. And I wrote. Longhand. The world says that writing will make things stick. Ok, many of my teachers say that. In fact, I think there are multiple ways of learning but these profs might be correct about me. I wrote away in my exercise book but I also took my calligraphy pen and dipped and scribed. Some things are sticking, finally.

Saturday was a fine Bastille walk. Edith used a kids’ book to talk about the French Revolution. These French are complicated on their politics. I will spare you the details in this blog but maybe later…. We started to the east of the Marais and wound our way back to the Place de la Bastille. Ended up down a tiny walking street that I had just read about on my Paris ZigZag facebook page. I like it when I discover things by accident that I had planned on discovering.  She concluded her story of the Republic right in front of my hair salon! (I go visit Michel again on Tuesday).

Speaking of Republicans. Sarkozy – you remember him? His party was called the UMP. Union for the People’s Movement, basically. They just changed their name. To Republican. I shrugged. So we have the Republicans too. Good luck to you. But I found out this is quite controversial in France. Some people actually took this to court to try to stop him. They lost. But why? What is their argument? Well, it is the Republic of France. So to their thinking, EVERYONE who is French is a Republican. And they are quite upset about this…

Back to Saturday after that brief political interlude. After the walk, I went to a French event. They have a website:   That basically means, Let’s Go Out! And my friend Ronique had created an event – an aperitif at a classy hotel. She signed me up and two other random French folk (women) signed up to join us. We met at the George V hotel – a Four Seasons Hotel just off the Champs d’Elysees. Gorgeous, of course. You realize from the description that I am the only non French speaker? I realized it! The day had been in English with Edith. So switching to French, and FAST French at that, and FAST French in a crowded noisy bar… a challenge to say the least. But my ears became accustomed and I did start talking too.  One gal may become another Conversation Exchanger!  The other, nice but not so much.  Funny to have them tell me that Meetup started in France.  Not.

(Why does Windows 8.1 or Word or the Gremlins… whoever! Suddenly jump my cursor up three lines so I am typing in the middle of another word? Or change my view from edit document to two page view???? Suggestions are welcome. Apparently I didn’t fix everything.)

The 28 euro glass of Provence rose didn’t hurt. Well, only my pocket book! But with the complimentary olives and almonds and bottled water that came with it, it was well worth the two hours of amusement.

People were dressed to the nines. Or very casual. Like us. There were 3 or 4 men who were in black – not necessarily tuxes – but very formal who wore red ribbons and medals. It made me think of the Chevaliers de Tastenvin. Wikipedia it sometime.  I don’t recall seeing that particular medal or sash or ribbon at the Legion of Honor Museum. I restrained myself from going over and asking why they were so dressed up. J

Grammar. A friend texted me that he wanted to join me in my grammar goal.

Ned is someone I met at the Meetup for Expats. He’s from the Bay Area and came here by way of Africa where he was a Peace Corps volunteer for two years.  The people I meet here are so interesting!

Spontaneously we met Sunday afternoon. I lugged my two books, not quite sure how to study with a partner. I haven’t studied in general and specially with a partner for more years than I care to admit. Maybe you can get more studying done if you don’t drink a bottle of wine during the study session? We did conquer Depuis, Pendant, and Pour. All words you use for the concept of since or during. Now the question is will I retain that?

To celebrate, we went to dinner at a great Italian restaurant near his apartment. He lives in the 7th Arrondisement (district) very close to the Eiffel Tower. In fact, he can see the very top of the tower from his window (on the first – American second – floor). Wonderful area but summer may caste a different light as the TOURISTS descend. It’s his first year here so he doesn’t know what to expect. Dinner was an entrée (soup), the plat (main course – chateaubriand) and dessert (orange tart) all for only 22 euros (note, less than my glass of wine at the George V) and totally delicious. And for my wine friends, I shared another bottle, this time of red wine. My wine palette is coming along. More wine than I am accustomed to and perhaps it was dark enough or Ned and the waiters were polite enough not to laugh at my red cheeks. (They laughed at the George V – well, not the waiters, but the other ladies with me! I can’t help it if I haven’t built up my wine tolerance enough! I am working on it!) (Hmm, that’s easier than learning French….)

I take my lovely bus 8 back to my very quiet street and am content.