Sunset

It’s getting darker earlier.  About time! (No pun intended).  Really this sunset at 10pm is Just too late.  On the 14th of July the fireworks couldn’t start til 11.  Tonight the sun set at 930 but still twilighy bright out at 10…

I have a better understanding of why the French it’s so late. I was surfing the Internet  (that’s a dated phrase -don’t we just say online nowadays?) and suddenly thought Gee I haven’t eaten yet and looked at the time. It was 9 o’clock.  It’s too light to think about dinner. 

The sunset in California these days is 815.  

Yes, I know, by November I will will be complaining that it’s a very very short day and there’s no light left. Yeah well, that’s life: c’est la vie. 

Construction

 

This year my street feels like Minnesota in the summer!  ROAD CONSTRUCTION.  Except, it isn’t really ROAD construction, but it is multiple building construction.  First, it was my own apartment building getting a new roof.  Or getting the roof fixed might be more accurate.  That took three and a half months!  Of course, it would if you just have two guys working on it.  And then there are rain days when nothing gets done…

And at one of the three office buildings across from me, the emergency exit circular stairs that were attached to the outside of the building apparently were old and unusable or maybe dangerous.  Whatever, they were coming down.  First a big crane closed the street and sections were lifted off.  Then they brought in scaffolding to go up the side of the building to repair where the stairs had been.  After that first day, that project was, thankfully, pretty quiet.

And a few weeks ago I noticed that there wasn’t much activity in one of the other buildings.  Usually I can see someone sitting at the desk – except of course during the faire le pont weeks.  After looking closer, I realized there was NO activity.  The building was empty.

That should have warned me.

They are remodeling.  Totally.  First, the city came and moved the motorcycle parking from in front of the building to down the block.  That was weird.  Then some guys showed up drilling in the street and putting down things that looked like pipe stands.  It was not quiet.  Then the next day, others showed up with the pipe and fencing.  OK major remodeling ahead.

Then there is a concrete truck.  No, sorry,  first they laid down blue plastic on the road way.  Then they pour concrete on top of it.  Apparently to make that stretch of street in front of the building level with the sidewalk.  I am thinking there will be a few days of quiet before it’s dry… But no.  Of course not.  At midnight a patrol guy shows up and moves the fencing to get to the entrance to make sure it is secure.  Ya, moving the fencing with no regard to noise as the concrete blocks scrape noisily.  That happens the next night too

Thinking it will be at least quiet in the morning til 8.

In your dreams.  Of course, with the noise at night I have no dreams…  because I have no sleep.

Now the other project is done and the scaffolding must come down from the emergency stairs building.  At 600 am.  Do you know how much noise scaffolding pipes make when dropped – yes, dropped – into a pile in the street?  Pretty much no sleep the rest of that day.  They did finish by 8:30 when those employees showed up for work.  And just in time for the other workmen to arrive for the remodel.  Those guys spent the day filling the dumpster.  So the truck came to take it away.  No, it’s not quiet either.  Several trips throughout the day.  And today they must have been taking out duct work as the sound was similar to scaffolding pipes dropped in the street – yet with the amplification of the dumpster.

Sigh.

Sometimes it is fun to complain when you have no control.  So I hope I have amused you some.  I hope that at least this project will be done soon as they seem to have enough workers – not like my two roof guys which ended up dragging out this project.

Back to Normality

 

And yes, there is such a thing.

I continue my conversations – but my people are being very French and leaving town for July and August – or parts thereof.  And I am planning an overnight myself – just can’t decide if it’s one night or two.  My destination is Dieppe, on the English Channel, or as the French say, La Manche.  That means sleeve.  I need to recharge at the sea.  And Dieppe is reachable via two trains in two hours.  And it is not the chi chi destination like Deauville.  When I wandered through Deauville last year, I felt like I was in Palm Springs – all the tres chic brands had shops there.  And Trouville, right next door, has a Casino.

On the other hand, my July has been filled with jaunts to Chateaux.  There will be a separate blog about them.  And museum visits for closing exhibits.

And a quick two night trip to Dijon.  No, I do NOT like mustard!  The smell of mustard makes me nauseous.  But Dijon has many wonderful medieval sites and wines and fabulous restaurants.  My traveling friend went off to Beaunne to see the hospital – Hotel Dieu.  I visited it last year and wrote about it then.  Great place but I wanted to wander in Dijon so we had time by ourselves.  We met up for a tasty dinner.  That’s actually too casual – it was a delicious meal.  I selected Bouef Charolais.  Sounded familiar to me – Charolais is a breed of cattle – I recall reading about it when visiting Avignon last year.  And wow.  Best tasting beef I have had in ages…. Maybe ever.

Have you read Rich Dad Poor Dad?  I haven’t.  But I know the concept.  Somehow I got invited to a 2 hour presentation for free.  So I went.  What a fascinating mélange of theatrics, information, sales job, and both encouraging coaching and intimidating threats.  So the 2 hours was to get you to sign up for the course.  The presenter was an American who lives in England and is successful at buying property – one of the cornerstones of the RDPD theory about making money.  He also said he had been an actor early in his career.  And he put those talents to good use.  For me, as a coach, I was fascinated at how he worked the crowd.  Most of the time he was supportive and helpful and just there to share the way to get rich (with some work) with everyone.  By the end, when people didn’t jump up to sign up, he was tough and disappointed and threatening all at the same time – discounting people – “well if you don’t want…. If you just want to be an employee (said in a most derogatory way).”

I didn’t sign up.  But I got a CD and made 2.5 euro so I was happy.

And I discovered a new medieval building!  Well, it’s only new to me.  College des Bernadins.  It’s located in an area I thought I knew well!  But no!  It was started in 1248.  Here’s the website – there’s a video showing the place if you are interested.  https://www.collegedesbernardins.fr/qui-sommes-nous/huit-siecles-dhistoire

I am going back – I was there midday and the tour is at 4.  And while there, I picked up a new book in the library – lists all the medieval sites in Paris.  I have been to most, but will complete the list before I return.

Return…

Makes me think of the political situation in the US.  I have always registered as an independent, neither Republican nor Democrat.  The rhetoric flying about amazes and concerns me greatly.  I have never thought any politician to be a saint.  And I am sure there are things Hillary has done that aren’t necessarily the best things.  But I cannot understand the people who follow Donald Trump.

This is supposed to be a blog about France, not politics – but rarely do I have a conversation with a French person without them asking me about Trump.  He scares them.  They equate him with Marine La Pen and the Front Nationale.  A far right, a far far right group here.  And I have no response to give my French friends– the disrespectful things Trump says about women, about minorities, about immigrants.  The violence that he encourages… And that he does have the backing of some Christian groups…

I am speechless.

And Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of NY city, with net worth of $46.7 billion – 6 richest person in the US who made his own money –  (Trump is listed at $4.5 billion and only in the top 400 and he started with an inheritance), Bloomberg calls Trump a con man.  But people continue to support him.

I don’t understand it.  Please.  Let me come home to a US with a president not named Trump.

And on that note, I would promise to not talk politics again.  But I am not sure I can keep that promise…  at least, not as much and not often.

There’s another blog waiting to be written about the traffic in Paris – I draft it every time I am on the bus or sitting at a bus stop and watching.  I have discovered there is a method.  More later.

A la prochaine

Terror

Another terrorist attack.  At the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray fifteenth century church in Normandy near Rouen.  Priest was killed.  Apparently, there were 5 others inside – one nun escaped and got help.  Another person was seriously wounded (and nothing else is said about that person).  And the remaining three were used as human shields, but the police were able to shoot and kill the two terrorists.   Newspapers say that town is a known jihadist center.

It bothers me.  Perhaps a bit too close to home.  If I was driving around the countryside, I would be very inclined to park and visit a 15th century church.

Yet, in the big picture. I still believe that the odds are in any individual’s favor.  And the states have enough shootings to make it an uncomfortable place also.

This killing has shocked the nation in a different way from the others.  Charlie Hebdo – there was a reason terrorists hated them.  The November 13th and the Nice attacks – these occurred where there were crowds.  But this one – a tiny church. 6 people.

Rest in Peace.

 

Museum Exhibits

I continue to be impressed by the exhibits available here in Paris.  The diversity amazes me.  From Barbie (yes the Mattel doll!) to James Bond besides the normal variety of art shows.

I went back to the Rousseau exhibit at the D’Orsay before it closed.

And Thank God for the ads in the Metro hallways – that’s how I am reminded about exhibits both coming up and those closing soon.

The curator mixed Rousseau’s painting with those by other artists to show how his work evolved and whom he was influenced by and whom he influenced.  This time I wandered slowly, reading all the information on each painting.  As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, I am fascinated by the process of curating an exhibit.  How do they pick the paintings, how do they arrange for the loan?  The timing?  Everything.

This time I was amused – so many of the paintings of the other artists – Picasso, Degas, Delacroix – there was no difficulty getting them to this show because they were all owned by the Musee d’Orsay itself!  Imagine walking through the museum or the storage rooms and just saying, “Oh I’ll take that one, and that one, and oh yes, that one for sure!”

Terrorists… Parades And Fireworks

 

Hard to combat terrorism when it’s done by lone wolves.  IMG_4291Oh wait, giving wolves a bad name.  Lone crazy idiotic evil fools.

I heard the news about Nice when I got back to my apartment last night (very early this morning as the fireworks show was not over until 11:40pm).  Overnight (my night – your afternoon and evening) I got many Face Book and texts from friends.  Well-meaning and I do appreciate it!  But a bit geographically challenged for France – Nice is on the Mediterranean about 600 miles south of me.  It’s horrendous.  Callous.  Evil.  Death toll keeps rising as hospital patients don’t pull through.  Now it’s at 84.

Last year after the Nov 11 attacks, France declared a state of emergency.  It’s been renewed every 3 months since then.  And was just going to go away.  No surprise and actually a reassurance, it’s been renewed again.  That means continued bag and sometimes body checks and the continued presence of police and army on the streets.  Someone told me that their Kalashnikovs (or whatever their assault rifles are) are not loaded.  That doesn’t make sense to me.  And even though the officer may sometimes hold the gun a bit too high so it might point at my thigh not the ground, I would prefer to think they are loaded.  No one here complains about the body pat downs.  And yes, they have two lines – women officers and men.  Although last night getting into the Eiffel Tower area, the line was longer for the women and several of the women all decided that there were enough cute male police that they might change lines.  But no.  That would have caused a commotion and commotions are to be avoided in the security areas.IMG_4239

Same security at the Military Parade going from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde.  This year I watched it from home on TV except for a quick trip out to get photos of the aerial parade.

But no watching fireworks on TV!

2016-07-14 23.37.47The fireworks display was as fabulous as last year.  And I was in almost the same spot.  There was no security at all last year.  Just walked around and picked a spot.  This year we were 4 days after the final of the Euro 2016 football.  And for that entire competition, the Champs de Mars (green space between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militarie) was enclosed in fencing, with specific entry points and three levels of security screenings.  They left all the fences up and had two security screenings.  And in addition, the streets around the Champs de Mars were all closed to traffic.  (No trucks able to drive through like in Nice.) 2016-07-14 23.30.09Last year a friend went about 1 in the afternoon and staked out a spot in the middle of the lawn and had a great view.  This year the space was not opened until 4 pm.  So we wined and dined in her apartment (2 blocks away) and then went over at 9:45pm – fireworks start at 11pm.  We finally found our spot – over by the side again because the entire grassy (but now bark chippy) space was packed!  And then stood for an hour til the show began.

Awesome.  It’s so much fun to go see fireworks with people who love them as much as I do.  One friend had a 6 year old grin the entire show!

But there was a blip.  Well, a couple.  As we waited, some idiot had fire crackers which he would set off – just one big bang at a time but several of them!  And of course, we all flinched.  With all the police and army about, no security personnel were close enough to figure out who it was and stop him.

And then about 20 minutes in, the crowd in front of us suddenly turned and started to push back.  We were standing bunched together, with space on either side – not because there were established lines to stay within – no, it was dictated by the view.  10 feet to the right or left and the trees blocked the Eiffel Tower.  And there wasn’t a lot of space in-between anyone.  Suddenly the people in front were turning and trying to move in our direction.

Yikes.

My friends turned and jogged back.  I stepped on a back pack and picked it up – thinking it belonged to one of my friends.  Then I stepped back a few steps but by that point the push back had stopped.  Everyone stood for a moment, trying to figure out what happened and if there was any reason to leave.  The guy next to me told his girlfriend, Avance.  Go forward.  So I joined them and ended up with a little bit better view.  My friends had moved much farther back so I figured I was alone for the rest of the night.  Five minutes later, two of them joined me.  The other two stayed back.

2016-07-14 23.40.00No one knows what sparked the moment of panic.  Not sure why I stopped to get the pack – maybe for my friends but also to get it out of the way for people tripping on it.  And in an instant your brain has to say stay or run.  This time I chose correctly.  I don’t need any more practice in such decision-making.  Thank you very much, Universe.

I ended up dropping the bag – someone would be looking for it later.

After was the long walk home.  I learned last year that taking a metro near the Eiffel was not possible – closed or long lines.  So I walked across the river to the Champs Elysees metros.  So much trash all over!  Wine bottles, water bottles, beer bottles.  Amazingly, it was all cleaned up by the morning.   Cleaning crews must have started working by 2 am.  And I walked.  And walked.  And walked.  Down Ave. Montaigne with the tres chic stores – Chanel, Valentino, etc.  And still some idiot was setting off the explosive firecrackers with the BIG BANGs.  Everyone still flinched.

Then I got home and found texts from family and friends – was I ok?  I hate those texts.  That’s how I found out about the November 13 attacks.  Switched on the BBC news to hear all about Nice.  And I can’t help but think those folks were out to enjoy the fireworks just like I was.

IMG_4281Today as I was coming back home, I saw a French flag hanging out a window.  Unheard of 2 years ago.  It came out some after Charlie Hebdo, and it was everywhere after November 11.  I love the Bleu Blanc et Rouge but I’d rather see it for other reasons.

So why France?  Someone sent me an article about France being a breeding ground for terrorists.  I actually think that is Belgium.  They pick on France.  Do they see us as any easy target?  Easier than Germany?  I don’t know.  But I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon.

On the Eve of the 14th of July

Last year I posted this explanation of the 14th of July that I found on a French friend’s blog: “Today is the ‘Bastille day’ …but do you know that in fact it’s maybe not the Bastille Day, the 14 of July 1789 that we celebrate in France. Maybe it’s the ‘fête de la federation.’ ”

There was another event on the 14th of July 1790 celebrating the unity of the people. French law does not indicate which is being celebrated as far as I have been told. It’s formally called Le Quatorze juillet. No one here calls it Bastille Day. Mais c’est fantastique!

So twelve months later and  it’s still not Bastille Day.  French friends are amused to hear that we call it that in the US. Then they shrug their shoulders in the quintessential Gaelic shrug and say, But why not?

My plans have changed several times – all based on the weather.  And now, maybe influenced by security.  It was supposed to be a beautiful high of 71 day and evening.  Now the chance of rain has moved in, with the time of the rain sliding up and down the hours of the day.  At this moment, there should be no rain at 11pm, time of the show.

The show… doesn’t do it justice.  Just the most awesome fireworks show I have ever seen.  Here’s a link to a video of 90 seconds from 2015.  And realize this went on for 35 minutes!  BBC Paris Fireworks 2015

But it’s not all that simple this year.  An American friend invited several to join her on the Champs de Mars – the field in front of or behind (depends on your location) the Eiffel Tower. I loved the idea – she was willing to hang out from 3 pm to hold the spot for the rest of us.  And when I arrived last year about 7 or 8, there was no place left on the grass!  But if it rains, it won’t be pleasant sitting on the wet grass.  And maybe not even grass!  This is where Paris established a Fan Zone for the EURO 2016.  And they covered the grassy area with bark – perhaps more accurately, large wood chips!  The last game was Sunday night.  I wonder if they have removed the chips or decided to leave it for the fireworks.  And also, what about the security?  The Champs de Mars was totally fenced in for the Euro 2016.  It would be simpler to leave that up in order to check bags, etc.  But I don’t know.  I did see an article that listed where there would be security checkpoints. Not at all sure how this will play out.  Last July no one was thinking about checking bags – it was before the fateful Train Incident and the November 13 attacks.  Still, the government is finally going to let the state of emergency lapse. I wonder when the stores and shopping centers and museums will all stop checking bags.  If ever.

Another important aspect of the 14th of July – most things are closed (and I have been surprised that some stores are going to be open for part of the day!).  About 6:30 this evening I suddenly panicked – BREAD!  So I rushed downstairs to get to the corner bakery.  And laughed to see that almost everyone I passed in the street was carrying a loaf or two of bread!  I bought two – going to freeze one.  And it’s also coming up to that dreaded month of August when Paris closes.   No surprise – a note in the bakery: “Closed from July 30 until August 31.  Desole.”   No, they are not “desole” or sorry.  They are looking forward to vacation!

On a side note, the roof work is complete and they are finally taking down the scaffolding on the roof and the scaffolding in the courtyard that goes from the ground to the roof.  It will be nice not to see scaffolding or workers when I look out my kitchen window.

More about what did happen tomorrow when tomorrow becomes yesterday.

And on another note, look for a travel blog in the next few days – I have been out visiting chateaux!

Shoes…

It takes some fun out of the long term stay vacation and clearly differentiates it from the one or two weeks vacation  when you have to location when you have to actually shine your shoes. And, of course, to do that you have to go buy all the shoeshining equipment -from brush to polish.

The gravel throughout the gardens of the French châteaux can really mess up a good shoe shine