It’s a carbohydrate week, I guess.  The choice today was to blog straight away while the thoughts are in mind or take a moment to savor a croissant.  I decided the croissant would still be fresh after typing.  But I did take a quick bite to confirm that the Sunday morning croissant fresh from the bakery is much better than the Saturday evening one the next day.

If you recall, I made this startling discovery – ok, perhaps a startling remembrance since I did once know this fact.  Last Sunday brought it to the foreground.

I am packing for Bordeaux for tomorrow.  Packing is quite easy these days as I have been doing so much of it and I have a great routine down pat.  A week after I return, I am off to the Netherlands.  And then Maroc and then, just confirmed, Thanksgiving in Portugal.

But back to the fresh croissant.  I dawdled.  Watching my dvrs of Chasseurs d’Appart.  But finally just after noon I set out.  To find my local boulangerie closed.  Really?  This year they have been open on Sundays.  Maybe til 12 and I missed it?  I didn’t see any hours posted.  Nor was there the infamous sign that says Fermeture Exceptionnelle.  So I walked up to the other bakery past the Marche.  Of course, the Marché is busy today.  Sundays are known to be quiet family days in France.  Although more and more large stores are going the way of London and the US.  Still, that’s a battle.  Except this morning, because I was walking a longer distance and down streets I don’t usually walk on Sundays, I noticed a number of stores open – the butcher, the cheese shop, all the candy and chocolate stores!  And of course the wine shop.  And even a few clothing boutiques.  But only til one.  It was a lively scene.  Clearly a neighborhood day on that street off the Marché.  Two streets away, the shops are closed tight.

The bakery was out of Tradition… the loaf made to specifications to stay traditional.  She said they would be ready and hot in 10 minutes.  But I passed and just got a baguette.  If I want the bread to last two days, I must buy the tradition.  But since I will be leaving for La Rochelle at 745 tomorrow morning, there was no need.  Just a baguette and the croissant that is waiting for me on the kitchen counter.  With Brittany butter (you can see the salt crystals) and Strawberry Camarosa Jam.  Made by the Bonne Maman people in the jar with the red and white striped lid.  You can purchase that brand in the States but I don‘t know about Camarosa.  I just discovered it and it’s the first jam I could (but don’t) eat by the spoonful.

Yesterday I stopped by a friend’s apartment in the 5th arrondissement.  A very touristy yet French neighborhood.  We had a nice dinner out and yes, more French was spoken than English.  And it seemed rather quiet for a Saturday night…

I like to see other apartments.  Next time I return, I don’t think I will return to my current apartment.  Finally time to be closer to the action, I think.  Her apartment was better equipped than mine – from an elevator to larger fridge, oven, built in microwave.  And dishwasher!  And the bathroom better appointed.  A real kitchen/dining room table.  And a large bedroom.  The living room, however, was a tiny corner, a third the size of mine.  The bedroom about the same size.  I have a hallway too, so overall my apartment feels (and is) larger.  And with distinct rooms.  While I like her newer Ikea furniture and accessories (aren’t all Paris apartments decorated by Ikea?  Now I understand why Ikea has all those displays of 300 sq ft!), for 9 months in one place, mine is better.  I would go stir crazy in a place as small as hers after 4 weeks.  (And my apartment has windows traverse… I have window on both sides, facing the street and the courtyard.  She has a window in each room but all looking out on the courtyard (and not a fancy tree enclosed space like some Paris apartments.  No, this was just a normal courtyard that allows for the apartments to have windows and space across from them.)

But it was interesting because she pointed out this tiny strange stairway like part of the building.  There were tiny windows on each floor.  She pointed this out in the building across the courtyard from hers.  Then she took me into her outside hallway and pointed to a small door – it was a toilet.  No longer in use, but when apartments had communal toilets, that’s how it was done.  Her building was old.  I am happy with my private WC, thank you very much.

It’s always nice to have your choices validated – if only by yourself.

Now the croissant calls.

As does the crossword puzzle that I will download and print from the Sac Bee – Sunday ritual!  (The NYTimes takes too long…)

Bread and Weather

As I was walking home, I saw a lady carrying a baguette from the bakery and, yes, she had bitten off the top.   I couldn’t decide whether to walk faster since they were clearly right out of the oven and tasty or walk slower so that by the time I got there it would be cool enough to carry in my hand. (Yes, I have had on more than one occasion to juggle a too hot baguette from hand to hand to keep from burning… ok, not burning, but it was uncomfortable!). It didn’t matter really, it was a baguette!  I got there and yes the big baguette was warm and yes I too bit the top off of it as I walked up my stairs.

Then I wanted to come to the computer and start my blog to tell you all this delicious news but the baguette was more delicious than the news so I had a piece…  or two. Then I started my dinner. I made a salad but of course I had to have a small slice of bread to go with the salad. After I sat down and had a couple bites of salad I suddenly thought:  where is the baguette? Where did it go?  After looking around with no success I realized clearly I must’ve eaten it so then of course I had to have another.  I brought it out to watch TV as I was having my first course and somehow that disappeared too.  There must be gremlins!  Baguette gremlins!

I had enough self-control to not eat the entire thing!

And, btw, last Sunday I went to Heritage Days.  In between visits, my friend and I had
breakfast” in a little café.   Orange juice, croissant and tea.  I like croissants indeed.  But since I moved here, I don’t buy them very often.  And when I do, it’s in the evening so that I don’t have to go to the bakery in the morning.  So this croissant at the café was something I hadn’t done for years.

Wow.  The orange juice was fresh squeezed and sweet.  The tea was fine.  And the croissant was to die for.  So smooth and tasty and melting in the mouth.  It was 12 Euros – maybe 14 bucks as the exchange rate is not doing Americans any favors.  But worth every centime.  I believe I shall repeat this experience soon.

It has been a beautiful last few days.  When you dress in layers and always carry an umbrella.  I say it is like the Sierras… the saying there is just wait 10 minutes and the weather will change.  Seems the same here.  Bright sky,  puffy white clouds that make your soul happy and then suddenly overcast and dark threatening black clouds – that more often than not just float by without dropping rain.  There’s an American real estate agent who has lived here for years.  She is sometimes on House Hunter International.  She has a blog.  Yesterday I read that years ago she said to a friend who came to visit Paris – as they left the door grabbing their umbrellas:  “It’s Paris. You didn’t come for the weather.”  True.  Although for me, the rain is fine – it’s the hot hot hot weather that I dislike.  Anyway, I quote her now because she said that her friend quoted her in a blog and now the phrase is all over the net.  She said she is going to copyright it.  So I am telling you the story before there is any copyright infringement!

Right the sun is shining and it should reach 70.  Glorious.  September so far has seemed like winter – I actually turned on my electric wall heaters two days ago.  And had that wonderful aroma of burning dust for the first hour.  Still, I was warm.

The g(yes, small g)ods Are Watching


Was it the Greek or Roman gods who would become jealous of a man’s prosperity so that when something good happened the people would shout to the heavens how terrible things were. Just to keep the gods from coming down to see if they wanted to take for themselves the new prosperity or child or whatever.

I think they read my blog about silence. After posting and doing my train research, I decided to go to the SNCF Boutique to purchase my tickets – better chance of NOT getting stuck in a club four seating arrangement. And on the door to the entry is a notice. On Monday Sept 18 there will be construction in Building B to replace something on the elevator. I think it even said it would go on for 8 weeks.

What??? I don’t know what is worse – that there will be noise again or that building B (I am in building A) has an elevator while I must trudge up three flights of stairs.

At least I will be gone for five workdays on my trip to La Rochelle and Bordeaux. It’s on the west coast of France, an area I really haven’t visited yet, at least south of Brittany. Tickets purchased. Seating ok. Conversation in French went extremely well. I am looking for either a tour van from Bordeaux to St Emilion or maybe I will take the local bus or train. I will check out Rome2Rio later. (Have I told you about Rome2Rio? It’s a cool app and website that tells you how to get everywhere! Even when Google Maps gets stumped by an ocean, Rome2Rio tells you to fly over it!) And tomorrow I may call the office du tourisme and ask about tour companies. I have heard too much about St Emilion to miss it What I heard, I can’t recall. But it has been much discussed.

Maroc is shaping up too, but that’s not til November. Several blogs away.


So today I woke up about 8:40 and lounged in bed for a while considering silence: Because it is a Tuesday and it was quiet out.  The construction has finally turned a corner away from the banging of conduit and jack hammering and general loud clatter.  I am relieved for myself.  But even more for those poor people (who aren’t really financially poor because they live in a Haussmann style apartment) who share a wall with the site and have had to live with not simply the noise but also the vibration.  They must be overjoyed.

Now I understand why some prisons use loudspeakers to broadcast heavy metal rock.  Constant noise is debilitating.

And if you are a bit deaf, like me, then I feel even more for those with perfect hearing.

And that leads me to a probable rant.  Be warned.

My grandmother on my mom’s side of the family was very deaf.  The other grandmother also.  The grandfathers died too young to know what their hearing would have been at an advanced age.  My father had a hearing aid as did my mother.  My brother got one years ago and he was younger than me at the time he got it.  My sister seems to have not received the hearing loss gene.

Four years ago I worked for a rather paranoid firm – the executives often seemed to whisper in the executive meetings.  And I had the darnedest time hearing.  Off to Kaiser for a hearing test.  Mild loss they said.   Yes or no to an aide.  Given that I had section 125 money, tax free medical account, I bought one for the left ear.  Does it help? Yes and no.   I must say I am much more sympathetic to my grandmother and mother.  And I am a bit ashamed of the times I felt like yelling at them to turn their hearing aids up.  Because it doesn’t help to turn it up when it is at the max.

Being hard of hearing is a real disability.  I have had people say something to me, then, when I either don’t respond because I heard nothing or I ask for them to repeat it, they sometimes get irritated.  As I did too, frankly.  But really, if you have a paraplegic friend, do you get irritated that they can’t get up and walk to the kitchen themselves?  No.  I hope not.

Sometimes I catch all the words except one.  So I repeat the sentence back to the person using a “what” for the lost word.  “The afternoon picnic is going to be “what” because of the weather?”  All the person has to do is say “cancelled” or “perfect” or “well-attended.”  Instead, they repeat the entire sentence back in an irritated way and often louder.  So you can imagine if I still don’t catch that one word!  Even more irritated and shouting.  I wish they would listen to what I ask and just give me the one word I missed.

Or they talk to me when my back is turned to test my hearing.  “Oh you really can’t hear – I just said…..”  Well surprise.  I know I can’t hear all that well, that’s why I got a hearing aid.  And did you know that part of hearing is reading lips?  Strangely enough, before I switched to contact lenses years ago and before I had hearing issues, if I was in my office and had taken off my glasses, when someone came to my door and started talking, I had to ask them to wait til I put on my glasses.  I know I didn’t have hearing issues – I could hear all those conversations down the hall that I wasn’t supposed to hear!

If you are talking to a hearing impaired individual (see, using that term lends more significance than the term hard of hearing or deaf!), keep in mind that hearing varies with individuals.  I can hear certain frequencies just fine, thank you very much.  So that explains why I can hear certain people and not others,  I am not being selective with those I say I can’t hear well.  Try to lower the pitch of your voice.  Sometimes just that works and there is no need for increased volume.  I had to learn that with my mother and grandmother.  And if a hearing impaired individual tells you they heard all but one word, don’t shout the entire sentence back at them.  Fill in the missing word and go on with the conversation.

There’s not much more I can do but wear the hearing aid and go back and get it adjusted from time to time.  Fortunately for me, I do fine on the phone.  I have a relative who struggles with the phone so much so that everyone started emailing instead of having phone conversations.  Fortunately, either the phone was fixed or the hearing aid was for now phone calls work again.

The only time the hearing problems might be the fault of the impaired is when they just give up.  How many times can you ask for a word to be repeated or ask for the  pitch to lower?  At some point, the impaired person just has to give up and smile sweetly and ignore everything.  Now I get why my grandmother did that.  She was tired of asking me to take the time to speak in a way she could understand.

Oops.  It did turn into a rant.  And not much about Paris at that.  But I am off to figure out my four day trip to La Rochelle and Bordeaux.  That should take the rest of the day.

A Saturday

I had good intentions this morning to sit down at the laptop after breakfast and blog.  But life has a way of interfering…  First, I am sleeping better and longer than before.  So suddenly I have less time in the morning than before.  Second, I remember stuff to do.  Third, I also remember a RDV (rendez-vous) at 4 to speak English/French so that shortens the day. And fourth, I am planning a trip and immediately need tour books!!!

So that meant after breakfast, I headed out the door to first Darty to find vacuum cleaner bags.  That’s the stuff to do.  Not exciting, not sexy, but certainly helps keep the apartment clean.  However, they were sold only in bulk and I won’t use 18 in the next four months!  Hrumph.

Then walked across to Gibert Jeune, one of the best book stores and I find it fun to figure out where to go because, you see, Gibert Jeune is not in one building.  Nope, there are at least 6 or maybe 8 different stores all around the fountain of St Michel.  I like the way it spreads out.  The other big book store is Gibert Joseph.  Huh? You say.  Yup.  They were brothers – the papa had a bookstore and the two split to each have their own.

Got my books – two in French and one in English.  Destination?  Well, let’s just say that Bob, Bing and Dorothy went there too!  Morocco.  Maroc in French.  It was a French something or other – protectorate?  Anyway, I should be fine for the language. I am going to Marrakesh for my annual “leave the Schengen territory for one night and return as a tourist” as required by my 6 month visa.

I’ll write more about Morocco and my decision in a future blog.

I’ve had several conversation exchanges this week after two weeks of English with my visitors.  And yes, once again I find that the break seems to help my French.  I notice more and more that I am thinking in French.  But my accent needs help – I swear I said exactly what they said at least three times when suddenly they say it and oh my now they get it.  Hrumph.

Yesterday I shopped at Sephora.  I needed to replace a blush that dropped and the powder fell apart.  Worthless.  So a simple task.  I asked for someone who spoke English…  They set me down at the Dior counter with an Australian who has lived here for 10 years.  She was very nice.  And then Bernadette showed up.  She is the top top top Dior person who teaches everyone else.  And suddenly it is not about blush but it is about skin care and my very dehydrated skin.  Who knew?  I blush to say this (even without blusher!) but I am always complimented on my Swedish skin.  Yet I am at that age when a woman starts seriously thinking about her face.  Well, actually, I think I am older but my skin’s been ok so far.  I recall my mother buying very expensive Italian or French skin care products at the age of 50.  I am past that but cough cough you don’t need the details!

It’s my mom’s fault, you see.

I caved and come home with skin care this and that and eye cream this and that and yes, blush too.  And special bonus!  I had an email from Sephora for 25% off a product.  Well, there you go.  I had to buy it all!  What a deal!

I took a selfie of my eyes.  I am going to check back in three weeks.

And good news about the construction!  That hole in the ground floor looking into the garage?  They filled it over.  I still don’t know why…  The good news is windows!  They have finally started to install the windows on the side of the building that faces me.  Window installation is quite quiet compared to jack hammering.

Now I must get a hotel reservation in Marrakesh.

Oh and as for sleeping better, perhaps because this was day 3 of no cola.

Back to Normal

The visitors have flown back across the Atlantic.  It was a wonderful time – at least from my perspective.  I hope they enjoyed too.  My friend has been to Paris before and reads French quite well so she was not my usual visitor.  And there was a 7 year old included.  So I found more playgrounds in Paris than I knew before. AND I finally got to the Jardin d’Acclimatation.  A big name for a kids amusement park that is just three block away in the Bois de Boulougne.

That last one was a big hit.  And I must say I was also impressed.  Besides the amusement rides, we kept coming upon climbing ropes or obstacle courses.  And Poney rides.  And Donkey rides.  We missed the Camel ride.  Tant pis.  Credit to the French – they also had a farm with usual farm animals – sheep, goats, pigs… and camels.  Right next to the farm was the garden.  Fruit trees, vegetables, and a green house for potting.  Let’s always remember where that food comes from.

I skipped the aviary.  No a great fan of birds…  Well, just recall my pigeon stories.

In a trip within a trip we had an excursion to Guernsey and Jersey islands in the English Channel.  We stayed in Saint Malo – yes from All the Light You Cannot See  (I believe the convention to underline books has gone away, but old habits die hard)– and took the ferry to Guernsey and stopped at Jersey on the way back.  Planning this trip was a challenge.  The ferries are fewer these days.  The French company departs from a small town on the west of the point where Cherbourg is.  Very difficult to reach that town without a car.  The ferry company that does leave from St Malo  to serve the islands is easily reached via train.  But if you go to their site and click on English so you can more easily read the details, it appears that they do not sail from St Malo.  Only TO St. Malo.  Finally I changed to French and voila.  Trips out of Saint Malo appeared. Bizarre.  We did it in a day trip.  Left about noon, gained an hour as France is an hour ahead of UK.  They walked to the aquarium and I to Victor Hugo’s house.  The author of Les Miserables lived in Guernsey in exile for 15 years during his dispute with Napoleon III.  I had visited his house in Place des Voges and wanted to see this one.  It did not disappoint.  But seeing it was difficult. I  called and they said there was only one time left and it was 30 minutes before the ferry’s departure.  I decided to take a chance.  When I got there, they were adamant that the tours were full and it was impossible.  Except there was a tour leaving just then – in French.  Eh bien!  I speak French!  Et voila – I was on the tour.  OK. So I didn’t catch everything she said, but I got to see the insides and to see the magnificent view he had.  Worth it.

The trip to Jersey was about an hour, but we left late.  And the town of St. Helier Jersey is a bit further from the port than Saint Peter Port was in Guernsey.  And by the time we finally docked, we only had time to walk double time into the city and turn around to return.  Of course, when we got back to the port, we had to wait an additional hour for the boat.  If we had been daring, we would have gotten dinner in Jersey – unfortunately, I was the one who urged caution, not wanting to miss the last boat back to France.

By the way, the two islands are separate from each other and not an official part of the United Kingdom.  They are known as Bailiwicks, are crown dependencies, and are holdovers from William the Conqueror who owned them as part of his duchy of Normandy before moving to England.  Britain handles their defense and foreign relations.  However, it also has a special relationship with the EU, being treated as part of it.  Who knows what happens with Brexit?  The two Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey are called the Channel Islands.

The islands are remote.  Pretty.  From what I could see, sparsely forested.  Very definitely a flavor of the UK.  Guernsey seemed more inviting to me than Jersey.  Perhaps because the area around the St Helier port is full of new buildings.  Lacks the charm…  Although I didn’t see it as we missed downtown, I have read that Jersey is more the Palm Springs of the Channel Islands.  A big business with duty free stores and high end boutiques.

Glad I got there.