Little Monsters, Self Care, Work, Tango, and… Life

The ants have been gone for several days yet today several scouts are back.  Four on the counter and one in the silverware drawer.  Really?   So we are back in extermination mode.

A big MERCI to any of my readers who comment on my blog.  Word Press sends them on to my word press email.  Because I don’t use that email with most people, I don’t always respond.  Je suis navree.  I am sorry.  I do read them.  I do appreciate them.  Many times you make me laugh.  So thank you for letting me know you are reading.  That I don’t send these comments out into the ether to float away unread.  😊

I continue in my existentialist crisis.  Mini-crisis.  Semi-crisis.  About what my future holds.  A friend reminded me to be easy on myself at this time.  This morning I observed it is easier to eat a croissant or walk 5 miles than to be compassionate with oneself.   Hmmm.  Work needed there.

I’ve also ignored my consulting business a bit, what with existentialist mini crisis, traveling about France, and having a partner who is a fantastic writer.  So this morning I am determined to do some work on the business myself.  Need to pull my weight in this enterprise, instead of lollygagging about in France.

Yet…  that’s Paris outside my window.

(One more ant.  Just refilled my tea.)  Speaking of tea.  I purchased one of those tea timers.  Three tiny hourglasses that mark 2, 3, and 5 minutes of steeping time.  Very handy.  Except for one minor flaw.  You have to look at it.  Well, first, you have to remember to turn it over.  Then you have to look at it to see when your steeping time is done.  And did you know, quality tea bags tell you how hot the water should be and how long the tea should steep?  5 minutes is usually the most.  I think my tea bags generally steep for 6 minutes.

Tango update.  I have discovered a new teacher.  It’s a woman.  She is Russian, speaks multiple (maybe 7) languages, blogs on FB with excellent insights on Tango, and is available for private lessons.  She addresses the question of “leading” and “following” in a wonderful way.  I can’t wait.

Yes.  Steeping time this morning of 7 minutes.  Shrug.

If I am going to do something before walking up to the Champs Elysees this afternoon to see the Green Book, I must sign off.

Dream Big. Go Big. Tea. And Ants

One of my favorite stores here is actually a Dutch chain: C&A.  I found a sweatshirt there this week.  My acquired-in-the-past-four-years French style sensibility has pretty much removed sweatshirts from my wardrobe.  And God forbid a sweatshirt with a saying.  Although, I find in Paris there are a lot of shirts and sweats with “cool” words and phrases, but I tend to avoid them.

Not yesterday.  The phrase:  “Dream Big” in big print.  Under it “Travel Far.”  It’s a sentiment that appeals to me.  OK.  Duh.

I’m also a follower of Mike Dooley.  I may have mentioned him before.  I read his book Infinite Possibilities in 2014.  He didn’t say anything I didn’t already know or believe- he was just more articulate than me.  I subscribed to his Notes from the Universe.  Emails to me from the Universe, almost daily.  This was the one from today.  And I so believe it.

People believe what they want to believe, Marcie. And this, alone, explains what they have or don’t have. 

Does that make your entire flippin’ day, or what?! 

   The Universe

Believe what you want, Marcie. Give yourself permission, and don’t be afraid to go BIG.

© www.tut.com ®

So.  Dream BIG.  Just like the Universe says; Go Big.

Why is this important or meaningful today?  My attitude has not been at its best for the past few weeks. Yes, Chamonix did give me a break!  But back to Paris and back to the existentialist dilemma of what’s next in my life?  You’ve read the recent blogs on Owning Paris and France.  What’s to conquer?  I’m the kind of person who seems to always be looking for the next big thing.  And I don’t know what it is.  And waiting?  Waiting is not my favorite activity.

So then I find my sweatshirt:  Dream Big. Travel Far.  And The Universe through Mike Dooley reminds me of the same thing.

A dear friend suggested I travel, perhaps to Cassis.  I was hesitant as I spoke with him.  The last trip to Chamonix, no matter how much I enjoyed it, left me a bit rattled.  I don’t forget wallets.  I don’t lose things in cabs.  I am a master traveler.  These setbacks made me wonder if I was getting too old to travel by myself.

That thought lasted maybe half a day.

Today I went BIG.  Next week – and it is another sudden trip like Chamonix.  I checked the weather.  The window is great for the next week, not so great after.  Just Do It!  Instead of going to Cassis itself, a small but pretty village in the south of France (where it should be in the low 60s with sun!) (I will NOT lose my sunglasses this time – of course, now I have 3 pairs of good sunglasses.), instead of going there, I am going to Marseille.  Down on TGV (tres grand Vitesse – high speed train) on Wednesday and there by noon.  The going Big is the hotel.  I have splurged at the Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux Port by Sofitel.  A queen bed with view on the port itself.

Go Big.  It’s only money.

Two for one.   Marseille has been on my go to list for a long time.  And Cassis is pretty.  I called the Sofitel and talked to the concierge.  At first they were unwilling to transfer me to the concierge.  I had to have a booking number or date.  They don’t just talk to any old person calling!  Sniff.

I said I have the website open.  I am going to reserve your fanciest room (and costliest) but not until I know I can get a boat trip out of Marseille or Cassis.  Amazingly enough, I convinced him and he transferred my call. The concierge was wonderful.  He suggested a bus ride to Cassis and take the boat from that harbor.  So I immediately got my train ticket and made the reservation.  I upped for breakfast too.  I figure a four star hotel will have more than a croissant and runny eggs for a breakfast choice.

And by going to Marseille and not directly to Cassis, the train ticket was less.  That’s my justification for the fancy hotel.

Who am I kidding? I never need justification for a luxury hotel.

Which leads me to the next topic:  Tea.  You all know about my tea adventures at luxury hotels and tea salons.  This stay in Paris I have found that those outings have introduced me to new teas.  I am now buying this tasty stuff and drinking it at home.

tea stuff for blogI am hoping to insert a photo – my teas from Palais des Thes: Blue of London and Montagne Bleu, and from Mariage Feres: Milky Blue.   I now buy in tins for loose tea.  I have two tea thingies.  The thing that holds the loose tea… ?  And shall buy more.  And I have small tea spoons (not teaspoons) to mix in my cream.  And now I have found cute little pitchers for the cream.  Both from a flea market. I love the one that says Bonjour!

But tea leads me to ants.

Before going to Chamonix, I stopped by the boulangerie and bought this delicious … not tarte… pastry. To have with my afternoon tea.  Vanilla cream and icing.  Yum.  But I got busy packing and forgot to eat it.  I left it on the stove top.  I was in a rush.  Didn’t think about it.

Ants must have a tremendous sense of smell.  And vanilla pastry left for 3 days must emit a fragrance that is an aphrodisiac to those tiny creatures.  Or maybe it smells like heroin?

Ants all over the counter.  Don’t tell Norm, my friend on his cruise.

I used my own method of extermination.  Oh… that sounds cruel… well, it was the ants or me.

Over the years I have found hot water does the trick.  I pour boiling water on a sponge and sponge them up and then again wipe down the counter with the hot water.  Started that on Tuesday night on my return.  This morning, Friday, they are no longer visible.  And no chemicals.

Going big takes some time planning.  It’s now midafternoon.  I see the sun out my window.  It beckons.  But first I have to do some cleaning up.  Straightening.  The apartment’s cleaning lady is coming by tomorrow morning.  I need to put stuff away after my crazy jaunt to Chamonix so she can actually reach surfaces.

A friend said yesterday that my tiny apartment would make for slit wrists – feeling cramped and closeted in.  But no.  In fact, this is the largest apartment I have rented (or not, given I am house-sitting) in all my visits to Paris.  It’s very comfortable.  The one drawback is that he left his stuff here.  Oh, he cleaned out some closet space and two drawers…  but it’s not like the normal Air B&B with empty furniture.  So I have piles of stuff around.  That is what I shall tackle next with the incentive to finish in time to enjoy the sun.

Hope the weather is treating you well too.

Go Elves!

YES!  Thank you, Elves

I know some of you scoffed at my note to the House Elves.

HA

Found the second pair of sunglasses in my bathroom last night.  I guess I was going to clean them.  Still no sight of the gloves and the glasses & case.

Just now I received a note from Le Cab.  The driver found both the gloves and sunglasses in his car and they will let me know when I can pick them up.

Thank you, House Elves.  OK, I guess the House Elves can contact the Taxi Elves.  Strong communication lines.

I own France

I don’t just own Paris, I apparently own France.  Or a lot of it…  My French friend took it as a challenge to find somewhere I could go visit for a day trip out of Paris.

Not possible.  With every town, village, museum, or chateau she named, I said, been there, done that.  Except for one – which I knew of but had no interest in going.  For longer distances, I’ve been to Brittany several times, to the north, to the east, to the south, to the west…  and I just got back from the Alps.  I know my France.

This was going to be a fun filled exciting blog about my great three day vacation.   It started out strangely.  Very abnormal for me.  I got in the cab.  About 10 minutes in, I suddenly checked, and I did not have my wallet.  I have NEVER forgotten a wallet.  Fortunately, this time, I had not timed the cab ride closely.  I had given myself a lot of extra time – that too is abnormal but good for me.  We were able to turn around and get back so I could run upstairs for my wallet and still make it with 5 minutes to spare at the train station.  Yet.  I then looked for my gloves and my Maui Jim sunglasses.  Neither of which I could find.  They were both on the desk by the front door.  So I bought some Oakley’s and cheap but warm gloves in Chamonix.  The sad thing is that, now back, I can’t find them in my house either.  And not only cannot I not find the Maui Jim’s that were in a case – I can’t find the other “spare” pair I had here.  I shall write a note to the house elves (and sometimes I include my mom) to ask them to find them for me.  It usually works – at which point I add a thank you to the note before shredding it.  (So there’s no proof I did that.)

I just sent a note to the Le Cab company to see if the guy found them in his car.  It just makes no sense.   Oh well.

Despite that unfortunate beginning, I had a fabulous time!  Chamonix was the absolute right choice.  There’s an expat FB page – I posted in it asking for suggestions for a place to go to in the French Alps.  Got many.  But I decided Chamonix had a little village so I wouldn’t have to worry about taxis or buses.  The train station was 8 minutes from my hotel.  (Or 4 in a rush which you will hear about later.)   The train ticket processing was different – no electronic tickets.  I had to go down to the SNCF store to get them printed.  My decision was sudden.  I was looking on Wednesday and had everything reserved by Thursday noon.  The weather, doncha know?  It looked to be fabulous.  Sunny.  Low 40’s.  Couldn’t beat that.  So I just upped and went.

I posted a Thank you on the expat FB page.   And when I got to Chamonix, I posted a confirmation that it was the best place for me to go.  And to date, and counting still, I have received 85 likes to that post.  I should start a blog!  Oh. Wait…

IMG_8059The cool thing about Chamonix is that it is the dream of a ski resort.  I have been to Colorado and California resorts.  But this.  It’s nestled between two mountain ranges.  And I mean nestled.  I walked from one lift on the north to the other lift on the south.  In maybe 20 minutes.  The cable cars took me to the top of Le Brevent.  And another little train took me to a glacier. (see photo to left)  A 20 minute ride that included deer sightings.  IMG_8195And then the whopper – up to the top of L’Aigulle de Midi.  About 12,600 feet.  From which you can see Mont Blanc.  It’s not quite as impressive – a dome shaped mound of snow.  Massive.  I needed those Oakleys, it was BRIGHT.  The second day I actually did the glacier, Mont Blanc and then the glacier again.  Pourquoi pas – I had a day pass.

A friend gave me many recommendations for restaurants, but several were too far away IMG_8169and the others were so good that they were fully booked with reservations through the end of the month.  So I discovered a great place – Josephine – and a not so great place Le Natural.    It’s rare to have a bad meal in France.  Josephine had such fabulous garlic bread – real bread with garlic etc.  Le Natural had garlic bread that turned out to be a way too large flat bread pizza kinda thing.  Disappointing.  Oh well.  I walked 5 miles at least both days.

Today was an adventure too.  I was scheduled to leave at 3:50 in the afternoon and arrive in Paris at 9:50.  That gave me the day to sleep late, pack and wander.  So I wake up slowly.  Check the phone.  FB.  Emails.  La de da…  But there is an email from SNCF (Societe National des Chemin de Fer) (railroad company) (Chemin de Fer – Road of Iron) telling me that my train has been cancelled.  Some electric issue.  Yikes.  I was out of bed and headed for the train station in 8 minutes and the train station walk itself only took 4 minutes.  No line.  I was wondering about all the other people who were going back to Paris today?  Maybe they were sleeping in much later.  The nice lady was able to get me on the 3:15 with no problem.  However, now I had to take three trains instead of two.  But it arrives in Paris before 9.  And amazingly enough, I conducted the entire conversation in French.  Without planning each sentence ahead.

OK, you’re tired of hearing me say how my French is progressing.  That’s ok.  I am still a bit amazed by it.  And comfortable too.  Oh, and I have now another conversation partner – the lady sitting across from me on the way down to Chamonix lives near where I am and wants to keep her English up.  She was interesting and clearly a good conversation partner.

Last week I was on two crazy bus trips.  The regular bus here in Paris.  One driver was doing a stop and go ride – accelerating very differently from normal.  He was in a rush.  The other was a regular old driver who was coming to a corner with a crosswalk.  He clearly had the right of way, lights were green.  And an idiot at the curb pauses for a brief moment – at the same time the bus driver sounds his horn – the driver must have had a gut feeling.  But does the guy (idiot) stop?  No.  He steps out in front of the bus.  The driver slams on his breaks.  And I mean slams.  We all do the almost through the windshield ricochet except we are in the passenger seats.  Really.  We were all thrown forward.  He missed the guy by 2 inches.  Seriously.  The guy didn’t even break stride, didn’t look up, had no reaction.  Just kept walking.  The driver opened his window and yelled out the French version of Asshole.  And then we went on our way.

I have wound down after my big day.   Off to sleep in my own bed.

I Own Paris

I came to that realization this afternoon.  I am sitting in my new apartment, looking out my window to Hausmann buildings opposite me.  I’ve decided I need a set of small teaspoons.  Really.   Small spoons to stir my cream in my hot tea.  So not the regular teaspoons.   Since Café Richard down the street – a major purveyor of plates, cups and cutlery to Paris cafes – did not have what I want, I cast my mind to other sources.  Several came to mind, but I settled on BHV because I like that big department store.  And then I figured out what bus to take and return.

And then I sat back in my chair and realized, I own Paris.  I know this place.  I know locations.  I know where to shop.  I know museums even the Parisians don’t know.

Yes.  You are shaking your heads, dear readers, thinking. “It took you til now to know that?”  OK, sometimes I am a slower learner.  And in this case, probably not slow learning but my self-image as knowledgeable “resident” isn’t always clear.  It’s like when you wear a special blue that brings out your eyes and you just think you’re going about your daily stuff, and you pass by a mirror and you stop and think, damn, I look good!  Same thing.  Damn, I know Paris.

And this visit has put me into two new quartiers- and I came to know them quickly.

Paris is divided up into districts called arrondisements.  I lived next to the 17th when I lived in Neuilly.  This year I started in the 5th.  Now I am in the 7th.   The seventh is chichi.  Posh.  And this street is active.  Other places I was on side streets.  Not here.  Always people walking up and down – except after 9 and til 9 in the morning.  It’s relatively quiet even though I am on the first floor and look onto the street.  Of course, if it gets noisy, I can just turn down or take off my hearing aids.  Nice trick!

Within less than a block I have a grocery store, a boulangerie, tons of restaurants and even tourist stores.  Well, I am two blocks from the Eiffel Tower.  And maybe three blocks from the famous Rue Cler.  I have never been too impressed with rue Cler – but Rick Steves loves it.  Overrated now, I think.

The quick trip back for business was great, but now I recall why, since 2007, my trips to Europe have been at least 4 weeks.  Traveling through time zones gets harder in direct proportion to my age.  Or maybe exponentially harder…  Add to that a head cold – not a happy camper.

It’s been two weeks last Wednesday since the cold began.  Today I do feel somewhat better, however, I cancelled everything with the plan to stay in and finally get well.  Except.  My heating pad – the first purchase I made in 2015 upon arriving in Paris – has finally given up.  Well, it’s not dead yet.  It works intermittently.  But intermittent doesn’t work when you have a back ache.  Especially when the back ache is also intermittent.  But they are not on the same schedule.  I just consider it as the Norwegian Blue of Monty Python fame.  The pharmacy across the street had one.  Now I have it.  And an ice pack.  Both of which were together twenty euros more than if I had bought the same on Amazon.  However, Amazon wouldn’t have delivered until Tuesday.  So for 20 euros, I have three days of use.  6 euros a day – worth the price I think.  And decreased hassle.  This place has a gardien so my packages can be delivered here.  I have had packages delivered to Norm, my friend whose apartment this is, however, Norm went down to the gardien to pick them up.  I don’t know if the gardien will recognize me as Norm.  Shrug.  Spent more, guaranteed delivery.

Clop Clop Clop.  Huh?  I just jumped up to look out the window – 6 of the Garde Republicaine  (horses and riders with SWAT helmets on – on the riders not the horses) were trotting down the street.  That was a first for me in Paris.  Well.  Anywhere, actually.  And ok, they were not trotting, they were just walking.  But trotting is so much more horsey.

Back to the regularly programmed blog…

There has been a fierce wind blowing through Paris these days.  My hair stands up, beyond the pretty image of wind tousled.  And I am chilled if I left without my scarf.  My trip to BHV was productive.  6 tiny teaspoons for tea.  And two pair of pants.  I am so liking French pants these days.  Bought conservative in color but very patterned pants at C&A in December, now I have bright blue and cool green for the summer.  Oh so Frenchy.

Point of Information:  French terms of endearment.  All these years I thought ma petite choue  (or maybe mon petit chou) was my little cabbage.  A term for one’s sweetheart.  I thought my French friend was going to bust a gut, as we say, laughing.  No.  Absolutely she is not calling her hubby a cabbage.  The term comes from chou a la crème – which means cream puff.    This corrected my understanding since 10th grade French 1 class.  Shrug.  Except.  I just called two other French friends for confirmation and both said cabbage on the first pass.  Then they agreed that cream puff was probably right.  One said, “Imagine, calling your sweetheart HONEY.    Mon petit miel.” It was absurd to her.  The joys of language.

So even if I own Paris, I am going to sublet it for the day to anyone, including tourists, who need it; instead, I shall curl up on the sofa and read or video binge.  Tomorrow, more well rested, I shall reclaim my territory.

A bientot.

International Woman of Intrigue

A friend called me that.  It’s my second favorite moniker – after An American Abroad, a name given to me by a Brit.  I think he called me that in reference to my recent flitting between two continents.

I have noticed lately that I am telling many people that I live in France.  Well.  I do.  Another friend told me I live in Paris and vacation in Sacramento, so….  But I notice I said it a lot when I was back in the US for the two weeks.  I think I am anticipating a change so I want to take advantage of being able to say that every chance I get.

I like this consulting work.  OK, really, I adore this consulting work.  I told our client that we are retired and so we get to pick and choose our clients and we only want to work with clients eager and brave enough to tackle “change” work.  She is.  And it’s true. Both that she is eager and brave and that we want clients with whom we can make a difference.  I’d do the work for free.

Well.  OK.  That’s going too far.  I believe we bring great value and a combined number of years’ experience and insight that would be too high a number for me to want to even type.  But you get the idea.

I used my miles to upgrade to business with the lie down flat option seats for my trip over to the US so that I would be more ready to start work and less jet lagged.  OMG.  I am spoiled for life.  I did this once maybe 10 years ago and thought it “nice” but my body was 10 years younger.  The current body found the experience extremely satisfying.  So much so that I contacted United and upgraded on the way back.

It’s day two.  I arrived yesterday.  Dreary day but sunshine in the afternoon.  I went straight to the new apartment.  Lovely.  So much room.  An entry area!  A small but two people fit comfortably separate kitchen. A living area.  A dining area.  From whose windows I can see the very very top of the Eiffel Tower.  And a separate bedroom.  And an American Bathroom with washing machine AND CLOTHES DRYER!  Heaven.

Two bags were waiting here for me – dropped off three weeks ago.  I emptied my suitcase and took Uber back to the other apartment.  I would have taken the bus but of course – a manifestation: Gilet Jaunes again (every Saturday) so there were “deviations.”  Uber there and Uber back.  Memory plays tricks on your brain.  Well, maybe not tricks as I think it is thinking it’s a gift.  Oh, you didn’t leave much over there.  Moving here will be a snap.

No.

More than I realized and so there will be a second trip today.  And I am taking two suitcases in case.  I don’t want to have to go back again.  And this second trip will also include the final cleaning.

Wondering why I am taking the time to blog so quickly upon my return?  Reread the last sentence up there.

I stayed up through the jet lag haze yesterday.  Finally went to bed at 11.  And woke up about 3.  That’s 6pm California time.  To end up texting with my client and with my business partner.  Both of whom flamed me in text with GO TO BED.  They meant, GO TO SLEEP, as I was in bed.  But jet lag tells your brain to WAKE UP and you do.  Fortunately about 2 hours later I fell asleep and eventually got over 8 hours total.  So I am feeling refreshed.

But not refreshed enough to want to go move and clean.  Sigh.  It’s now after noon so I will have to get moving.  I think I will make a goal of out the door at one.  Yes.  Then I can go lie down and read more of the Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden for half an hour.

These next 3 and a half months will be confusing.  Here’s my time in Europe.  Hurrah!  And what, the client is meeting with my partner and I am not there?  Heck.  Oh, they will do fine and both will keep me posted.  But it’s so much fun that I want to be there too.  And yet… I  look around this wonderful apartment and out my window to Hausmann buildings and sigh for Paris.