Well into 2019

A mish mash of observations and notes.  And other things that it pleases me to write.

First.  I went out naked last week.

Well. It felt like it.  I forgot the iPhone at home.  Shrug.  I figured big deal actually.  I knew where I was going.  Straight shot on metro.  And back.  Except after I got to the destination, I decided to go to the other C&A store on Rivoli.  Across town.  And I survived splendidly.  Even found buses.  Smile.

There is a naked restaurant in Paris.  But it is closing.  Apparently, there are not enough naked restaurant goers to make it a success.  It always seemed a strange idea to me – I can understand the naked beaches…  but restaurants?  Crumbs?  Are they allowed to wear lobster bibs?

On my journey I walked along the Seine and remembered when I was here while I was in college and that the bouquinistes were really second hand booksellers, not the hawkers of tourist crap from China.

On my journey I also got yelled at.  I mean, seriously yelled at.  I asked the nice (!) man in the bus office for a map of the metro and bus and Paris.  Simple enough request.  But what did I forget?  If you’ve read this blog for a while, or if you have traveled to France, you should know.  Yup.  I said excusez moi.  Not Bonjour.   He went off.  I tried to apologize and say Bonjour, but no, it was too late for that!  And he went off more.  Almost threw the map at me.  Sigh.  I really did feel badly.  But actually, I was more concerned for him.  What kind of day must he be having that a minor oversight of Bonjour would make him so angry?

On my journey I also walked through Chatelet metro.  Again, you may have read my previous blogs about how confusing this metro station is.  The signs make no sense!  You walk back and forth hunting for your metro ligne.  I avoid it at all costs.  This time, I had no choice.  And guess what?  Someone figured out how to make logical signs.  It was a snap.  Happy for RATP.

This past weekend my Dutch friend visited – mostly for a trip to Costco.  Yup.  Costco France.  They have many Costcos in the UK and I believe Germany or Spain.  With plans to expand.  She found her Krustez pancake mix and we had real Costco hot dogs for lunch!  Decadent!

She was also very helpful – she had driven her car.  And it’s time to get prepared for my move to the new apartment.  With her assistance, we moved several bags over to the new place.  When I come back, I’ll stay there but will have one or two trips for things that I am leaving here and a last clean up before turning in the keys.

Come back?  Did you catch that?   Turns out my business partner and I have a consulting job in California.  So I am flying back for two weeks.  I am really looking forward to this work!  It’s quite energizing.  And it gives me a chance to bring a lot of things home.   Mostly food, I am finding.  I bought far too many Alsace Christmas cookies for my family.  They sell Anise cookies – a staple of my grandmother’s.  And some towels and other souvenir-y things.  Coming back to Paris my suitcase will be empty – except for the two tour books on Norway that I stupidly left there.  Norway is on the calendar for the beginning of May.

Tomorrow I have a movie and dinner date with a French friend to see Edmund, a new French film about Edmund Rostand who wrote Cyrano de Bergerac.  It’s the first week.  That means they have subtitles in French.  Best time for me to see a French movie.  That’s after a tango lesson.

OH  TANGO SHOES!  My Dutch friend and I went to Chartres on Saturday afternoon and after the cathedral, we wandered through the town.  Passed a dance store.  Where they had MERLET shoes- the French brand I have.  And there in the window were dancing shoes in my size with the requisite high heels.  Of course I bought them.  And contrary to anyone’s fear, I am NOT addicted to shoes, even tango shoes.  Why pass up a good deal, that’s all I am saying.

So tango lesson, movie, hair cut, printer and other things to the new apartment and then the real packing when the suitcases actually get locked on Wednesday night.  And a car waiting for me to drive to CDG at six a.m. Thursday morning.

It will be strange to blog about California in the French Paris blog story…

A bientot.

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Happy New Year 2019

I don’t usually do NY resolutions.  Haven’t for years.  Seems like a big deal for not much return and is fraught with downfalls as resolutions fall by the wayside with lack of diligence or even prolonged interest.

When employed, December was the time of year to write the year end summaries for the annual performance evaluation.  I actually came to enjoy this process.  It gave me an opportunity to find a theme in the past year and focus on the theme for the coming year.

But that was in relation to work.  Paris has been the theme for my years since 2015.  And 2018,  when it started, had a theme of politics.  Then since July there has the unexpected gifts of a partnership, workshops, and, possibly a book.

So now starting 2019 in the French countryside – not Paris – everything has a different feel.  First, the countryside is so relaxing.  My friend’s house is a charming country stone home.  I am staying in a separate two story guest house across from the 1400 old mill.  This is somewhat a compound, with several building facing a courtyard.  It’s been remodeled – the barn was replaced by a three story building that houses an office and four flats.  As I took a walk through the French village, I noticed any number of similar compounds.  Just add another building to the first one and face a courtyard.  Communal living.  And then newer stand alone country homes.  And a wonderful old stone fence, covered with moss.  Looking so…  picturesque.  And old.  And there must be a chateau on the other side.

Nope.  Golf course.

But I was treated to a chateau yesterday as we drove about on errands.  It had been owned by a distant uncle of my host.  He had no children.  It was eventually sold.  Still.  Romantic.

The errands were to the butcher for the capon, the bird for dinner.  To another butcher for a starter for me for dinner – got a sausage in pastry.  Then the cheese shop where we bought cheese and the most incredible butter I have ever had (and I loved Brittany butter) made by a local farmer.  I bought the last two.  Hope to stop by for more to freeze and bring back to the US.  Yes, it’s legal to bring in butter.  We also went to two boulangeries – for bread and for the buche de noel.  And then to a basic simple modern market.  It was a busy afternoon.  And because the various destinations were in different locations – one in town, two in other villages and one in somewhere smaller than a village – I saw a lot of the countryside.

Friends of my friends joined us for New Years’ Eve and we have a marvelous time, much laughing, a lot of wine and champagne and more laughter.

This morning we all slept in.  The friends took off for Paris – just a quick trip.  And my friend and her husband and I had a leisurely day.  I did have the energy to take that 2.5 mile walk.

Now after an evening in front of their crackling fire, I am sitting at the dining table in the guest house typing this edition.  And suddenly I am hearing noises.  Really.  I texted my friend – does she have mice?  She came over quite quickly.  I was surprised – she said, if you who have hearing problems can hear it, it must be big!

So she sat with me for about 30 minutes and the noises eventually returned.  She thinks it to be a mouse and then explored under the counter cupboards whence the noises emanated.  No smells.  No droppings.  No bodies.

I will be brave and just close my bedroom door, trusting that the critter just wants warmth and is happy to stay in the cupboard.

But this means my meditation and journaling about the theme for 2019 will be cut short.  Instead, I live in the moment with the mice.

Happy 2019

Bacon, Tango, M/F

I went to bed late, energized by conversation that was early by Pacific Standard Time.  Shrug.  It happens.  As a result, I lounged in bed until 11.  This is a good thing because I then can indulge myself in a big breakfast that doubles as lunch.  Yum.  Or as we say in France, miam, miam.

I was particularly looking forward to this breakfast.  In a previous blog, I mentioned that I am here in Paris this stay in a different time frame.  Decembers have normally been the time to wrap up my trip; this is just the beginning.  Previous trips had a break of only 3 months.  I remembered things.  This time the 10 month gap has proved vexing.  Most recent example?  BACON.  Thinking of my impending trip to the country for New Year’s, I recalled that I was promised Irish bacon.  Sounded delish.  Yesterday I was in the grocery and suddenly the Irish bacon came to the front of my mind.  And then I remembered, I had bought bacon here in France before!

Straight to the meat section: I found it.

Today I was looking forward to the bacon with my scrambled eggs.   And to the escargot pastry.  So named because it is rolled and looks like a snail shell lying on its side.  Tasty devils.  The boulangerie gal picked the one with raisins.  That’s fine.  I’ve had those so I said oui.

Eggs, scrambled.  Bacon, cooked with eggs.  Escargot pastry heated up on top of the toaster.

Eggs – tasty.  Bacon – delicious.  Escargot – wait.  Wait what?  Those are NOT raisins.  This is not escargot pastry.  It is – quell horreur – pain au chocolate.  You know how hard it is to pick tiny (smaller than toll house) blobs of chocolate out of pastry?  Especially when they are warm and melty?  Tossed.

Why would anyone ruin perfectly delicious pastry? And perfectly good chocolate? by mixing them together?  I cut a slice of bread to have toast and jam instead.

Minor disaster last night, fixed this morning.  When I finally got in bed, I took off one earring and put it on the night table.  Then reached for the other.  Not there.  Normally, this is a major disaster.  If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have gotten out of bed and searched the entire apartment (which, you may recall, is not big but it is like a black hole in terms of what can get lost inside it).  Why is this a disaster?  Just a silver hoop earring, you say.  I wish.  For some strange reason, my body has decided that anything but a gold post or hoop will make my ears ache after a day.  Surgical steel?  Hypoallergenic?  Nope.  And I choose to wear silver, not gold, as adornments.  So these “silver” earrings are really white gold.  Do you know the prices of gold these days?  Costly.  So I try not to lose these things.

Good news.  When I woke up, I noticed the solitary earring and remembered.  Sighed.  Turned on the flashlight in my iPhone to start my search and immediately spotted the mate on the mantel.  Apparently, I took the one out and then promptly went to bed… to wake up just enough to take the other out and not recall the one on the mantle.

Tango progresses.  Yesterday was a fabulous session.  I had worked on the moulinets all week and somehow it came together when he led that step…  I got dizzy!  Then we just danced all about the studio and I really had a better understanding of the improvisational style of the tango.  And how to NOT anticipate the next move.  That’s a very bad thing for the woman to do.  And actually, it takes great discipline and yes, power, to wait.  To breathe.  To stand, balanced, with your axis straight, your legs flexible.  And I am getting brave enough to watch those tango videos showing the women’s embellishments.  Woo Hoo.  And the music.  Every now and then, Patrick reminds me to listen to the music.  What a concept.  So I have been asking Echo to play tango music while hanging out at home. (Yes, I brought an Alexa to France with me.)  I think that’s why my foot started drawing circles with my toes while at the stove.   video on female steps

Soon I must finish my washing and start packing for my trip.  Dear friends live in the country about 25 minutes south west of Paris.  The closest town/village is Longvilliers.  They pick me up Sunday and will return me on Thursday.  So the gilet jaunes who are planning stuff today, Saturday, and NYE will not impact me at all.  Well, perhaps today as I have to go visit a friend in the 7th.  Some buses may be diverted.  I’ll figure that out.

My work continues.  My mind is turning over the concepts of male and female speech.  Communications.  I have been focused on Myers Briggs for so long.  And the Enneagram recently.  I read Deborah Tannen’s work back when it was on the best seller list.  Now thanks to my partner, I am revisiting it.   It’s like walking into a new house.  Or new addition to the house that was always there but I never went to that wing.   That’s a metaphor I heard in the 80s from Leland Kaiser, PhD, a visionary in healthcare.  I would go to any conference where he was a featured speaker and sit in the front row transfixed.   He said think of your brain as a house.  And you are usually sitting in the kitchen or the office or even bedroom, looking out at the backyard and the scenery is basically the same.  What if you went into the front room and looked out those windows for a change?  What new things will present themselves to you?

And what other things roll around in my head in this process?  From female communication to the larger concept of femininity.   And what better place to ponder femininity than in Paris?  I ask you.

Boxing Day – tango, traveling, flirting…

Happy Boxing Day.  So far I have decided it will be a lazy day.  I have things to do on the computer.  Ask for refunds for those pesky auto-renewals.  Finishing a photo book that should have been completed in August.  Some banking.  Try to avoid looking at my stocks…

That’s enough to depress the rest of the day.

NO!   It’s not.  I have survived other stock market tumbles.  Let’s hope the really rich smart people are getting fed up with the financial chaos and will do something…  LOL.  Wanting the nobility to start a revolution!

I had a very quiet and merry Christmas with an expat friend.  The one whose apartment I will be house-sitting in February, March and April.  I’m excited about this.  It’s a very chic neighborhood, just two blocks from the Champs de Mars which means Eiffel Tower!  And it’s a bigger apartment than this one.  I like this neighborhood too.  But on a day you want to stay in and get work done, there are limited places to move about in this place.  In California, I could be at the dining room table, even the small counter in the kitchen.  In the living room on the sofa or the recliner.  Upstairs in the cozy chair in the bedroom or in the office at the computer or sitting on the futon.

Here?  The kitchen table, the futon, the bed.   At the February place, a sofa, an easy chair, the dining room table, the kitchen table, or the bedroom.  Breathing room.  I have thought about taking the laptop down to a café and ordering a hot tea to type for a bit.  But the laptop’s heavy.  And I didn’t bring the keyboard I could use with the iPad.  (It’s on the list to return from the US).

Speaking of the US, I ordered new dance shoes today.  I like the ones I have so much that I want a second pair for backup.  They are comfy and good looking.  The only place I could find them was in the UK.  But free shipping to the US and cheaper than I spent for the originals in Sacramento.  They should be there upon my return.

Tango is turning out to be quite the investment.  Today I figured out that I have taken 32 lessons since September.  And I am only scratching the surface.  I keep telling myself there was a time I couldn’t speak French well and now I start up conversations with strangers and hold my own.  (in French!)  So there is hope for my dancing.

If you told me in 2015 that my newly started blog would include tango topics 4 years later, I would have laughed at you.

Tomorrow I am getting up relatively early to camp out at the Apple store.  The cool iPhone 6s gifted to me by a friend needs a new battery.  I was going to do that in the States, but discovered you needed an appointment and I couldn’t wait on the one day I had.  It wasn’t imperative.  But since being in France, it’s had two Peak Performance Capability issues and shut itself down.  Time for a new battery.  But, of course, no appointments are available at any of the Apple places in Paris for the next 10 days.  (It’s a 10 day window and has been the same for the last 7 days that I have checked.) So tomorrow I shall take a fully charged Kindle and the backed up iPhone 6s and just sit and wait.   Hopefully, the new battery will be working before 1pm (that would be three hours) so I can meet a friend at the Hotel Crillon, my favorite luxury tea place in Paris.  My objective is to visit all the 5 star hotels for tea.  And Crillon is a return visit – but they will still have the holiday decorations up and that is so sparkly fun, I can’t resist.

Speaking of holiday decorations, I think this is one of the reasons I have been a bit out of frame.  All my other trips – I left in January.  So this time of year was the rush to see all Marches, to see all lights, to do any last minute things before leaving.

This time, I am still at the beginning of my 6 months.  I have been here just 37 days! (No, I don’t hand count – I am not that OCD.  But I do have Countdowner Timer app.)  I’ve caught up with friends.  Visited old haunts.  Discovered my new neighborhood.  Had 11 tango lessons!  And taken in all the expositions that will close by January 6.  Pretty busy, I would say.

Yet I want to get out.  Get out of Paris.  And I look at the map…  I’ve been to a lot of places!  I think my first jaunt may be to Clermont Ferrand.  And maybe it’s time to go back to the Loire.  That’s where I had my immersion classes.  I still keep in touch with Anne-Sophie, my best and fav prof.  I want to get to Angers and Poiters.  Maybe I should push this off until March or April for warmer weather?  Maybe Grenoble?  To see the snow?  At one point I considered Lourdes – but it’s complicated to get there.  I could always go back to Nice.  It was nice.  HAHAHAHA

Well, it was nice.  And I think I could do it via the train.  Last time we rented a car.   But the temps are in the 50-60s right now.  I will wait until it warms up.

And a somewhat sad update on the shoe repair guy I mentioned a couple blogs ago…  As I said, he flirts outrageously. When I dropped the boots off,  he kept wondering how I could be retired. Now, and this is true, I look a lot younger than I am. Always have. In college they thought I was in high school.   So when I went back to get the boots, he picked up the same thread.  I looked so young!  I couldn’t possibly be retired.  Beautiful, etc…  All nice making-me-smile stuff.   Well, heck.  I decided to tell him my age.

Dammit. That turned out to be a stupid idea.  After being astonished, he stopped flirting and became respectful. What the heck????   Never doing that again!

Really?

They sell you hot bread at 12:30? How do they expect me to get it home in one piece?

Well, it’s one piece alright. Just a couple bites shorter than when I bought it.

Also picked up the buche de Noël for tomorrow

All that after a great tango class with Patrick. I twirled and pivoted so much I got dizzy! Scheduled 4 more!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Grumpiness abates… slowly

A good night’s sleep does wonders.  Well, demi-wonders today.  I haven’t shaken a lingering bit of grumpiness but am much better than yesterday.

I did the marketing.  To the local marche to search for panais (parsnips!) and finally found them in the last stall I looked at.  (obviously.)  Then I had to bring them back to the apartment because they are not light.  On to Picard for some frozen stuff including protein.  I am wondering if I am suffering from a lack of protein.  Last night’s meal was some goat cheese and a delicious vegetable soup.  The cavewoman is coming out in me.  Where’s the beef?  Oh wait.  That wasn’t the cavepeople – that was Wendy’s.

And a final stop with my back pack to fill it up with bottled water.  Yes.  Last year I went cold turkey off bottled water…   The water in this arrondisement is not as tasty as it was in Neuilly.  Especially in the tea.

On the street I had a confrontation with a pigeon!  Really!  He (Don’t know how to tell the sex of a pigeon walking down the street…  are the males more colorful?) was walking straight towards me.  We both stopped.  He did not fly away.  I took a step forward.  He held his ground.  Another step.  Again, he didn’t fly away, but he did turn to the left and walked around me.  Is the word out about my war on pigeons?  Was he the pigeon John Wayne?  Or was she the pigeon world’s Barbara Stanwyck?

I wore my short Rei puffy jacket.  If it’s over 50 degrees out, the new long coat from M&S is actually too warm.  I wore the jacket with my new pink turtle neck.  Well, it was pink.  Now, after an accidental washing with dark clothes, it is horrid grey pink.  Sigh.  At least it wasn’t expensive.  And it still keeps my neck warm.

Didn’t matter about looking chic today.  I haven’t even put in my contacts yet.  That in itself is a declaration that this will be a lazy day.

Or maybe later.  One of my insights from yesterday’s blog stuck with me.  I am cleaning, washing, and putting things away today.  I am hoping that will push the grumpiness out totally.

My appreciation to the readers who contacted me to see how I was doing or give me perspective about all the disruption I am facing.  I also realize that other stays I was here for 9 months.  I could put the hassles of packing back in a corner of my mind and not think about it for months.  If you are a long term reader, you will remember my packing anxiety surfacing every January as I prepared to return.  Triple that.

Hours later…

Bedroom is clean.  I can see the top of the mantle.  Bathroom clean.  Living room clean.  Dining table/workspace organized.  Just the kitchen counter left and I will do that as I cook my lunch of Charolais beef.  Started sacks for taking to Christmas dinner, to NYE stay in the country (for 4 nights), and even to take back to the States.  (Lots of Christmas cookies.  I may end up checking a bag just so I don’t have to lug around that weight.)    As much as I like to brainstorm and change plans on a dime, there are times I need to have organization.  Yesterday and today are obviously one of those times.

And my arms… another shirt that the sleeves are too short.  Really?  Is there a rack upon which elves put me at night to stretch my arms so no sleeves fit?  It was always my sister who had the strange long arms.  I know I am getting old and one starts to shrink.  But everywhere but my arm length?  Nah.

OK  On that strange note, I am off to eat protein!  Yum.  Miam Miam.

And tomorrow: to conquer the world, or at least Paris.  Today – time to watch A Christmas Story.  That will get me out of the doldrums for sure

Merry Merry

Weird day

I’m in Paris.  I have plans for Christmas Dinner.  I have plans for NYE.  I chatted with friends today, both in the US and in France.  I blogged – which is a happy experience.  I walked about in fairly nice weather.  I have consulting work I am going back for.

I should be happy.

Yet.  I’m in a weird, bothered, uneasy, hard to distinguish between slightly pissy or slightly grumpy state of being.

It happens.

I’ve just taken two Advil PM and drunk my Sleepy Time Trader Joe’s tea.  And I am yawning.  So I hope to have a good sleep and start tomorrow off on a better foot.

But it bothers me not to know why.  It could be that I am just tired.  I walked another 7 miles today.  And I haven’t had that day to just stay in bed and lollygag (like the pigeons).

Superficial things like the crummy transportation issues (sorry about the untitled blog – did that on the Metro… was irritated I hit publish before realizing the title was missing…) didn’t help.  But I think maybe the unease is because this year is the year of … unsettledness, moving, disruption?  One of those maybe.

I always knew I was going to have to move from this apartment to the other at the end of January.  And maybe that’s part of it: this apartment.  It’s nice enough.  Has a dishwasher and oven.  But it doesn’t have the storage my other place had.  So it’s messy most of the time.  Ever visited my home in Sacramento?  Messiness is not a stranger to me.  But I have places for things.  Here, the futon is covered with stuff that has no where else to go… maybe that’s part of this too?

So anyway, back to discombobulation.    So I knew I would have to pack everything up and somehow get it to the new place.  I came with four bags–  checked a 25 in roller, a duffel that balances on the roller, and carried-on the 22 inch and my backpack.

Now I have to get that all put together to travel 2 miles across Paris.

That was bad enough.  Now with the job in the States, I will be leaving on the 17 of January and back on the 2nd of February.   So I have to have things sort of packed before I go to the states – and I have to pack for that trip!  Fortunately, a friend is visiting from the Netherlands the weekend before.  With her car.  To stock up on Costco items.  I know, sounds weird.  But she lived in Roseville for 4 years and loves many Costco products.  This will be heaven for her.  The fortunate part is that she can help me transport several things cross town.  That just means I will be living out of a suitcase here before going to the states and coming back for the last few things in early February and moving to the new apartment.

Oh, it’s all doable.  I know that.  It just wears me down a bit to think about it.  And it is not half as bad as putting in new carpeting and I have survived that three times in my life.  (Shudder)

But then, somewhat the same thing in May.  I will be leaving for Norway on April 28 and returning on May 12 to Paris for a few days, then coming back to California around May 15.  Whew.  Pack everything on April 27 except my bag for Norway.  Come back to my friend’s apartment and move directly to a nearby hotel, moving all the stored bags from his place to the hotel for a few days and then getting a cab to the airport.

Again.  All doable.  However, if I knew all that before coming over, I might have brought less.  Still, this trip back is a chance to return somethings to the states… but what?  I will still need my cold weather clothes.

Shrug.  It has been cathartic to write all this.  Journaling is useful that way.  Hope it didn’t bore you too much.

And besides, in the future, all these problems have been solved.

I’m in Paris.  And I have a tango lesson Monday.  The smile is returning.  As I slowly fall aslee…..   zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Ha!

I told you about bus 47 yesterday. Today it’s 27. And yeah 47 again. Got my route all mapped out. Going to take 27. Bad timing. The buses that had been 6 minutes apart are now 20 mins. Ok change plans to bus 47. One minute. I make it.

Two stops later it terminates. Next bus. 50 mins. So I rethink bus 27.

And my handy RATP app tells me the next two buses aren’t going the whole way. At least it’s nice to know that ahead.

So next option metro. Grab a train. Get off to transfer. Go the wrong direction. Get off. Now waiting for the train in the right direction and of course I just missed one.

PIGEONS

When I saw the pigeons sticks* on all the sills of all the windows looking down on the courtyard of these buildings, I was happy.  No pigeon problem here!  I was sure.  And I’ve been here now just over 4 weeks.  Not a pigeon in site.

*I’m sure that’s not the right word.  The vertical pointy sticks one affixes to a window sill or railing to make it impossible for a bird to land.

Pigeon sticks on Amazon

Are you a new reader?  You will have missed the pigeon wars described in earlier blogs.  Go to my blog page itself.  Search for pigeon.  You’ll find 8 posts detailing my war on pigeons.

So here I am in the new place.  No worries about pigeons.

Until.

I come home after my busy morning.  Time to open the roll up blinds.  It was too dark before to bother.  And what do I see sitting in the flower box that hangs on my balcony?

NOT ONE.  TWO.  PIGEONS.   SITTING.  LOLLYGAGGING ABOUT.

I pounded on the window and they flew off, probably scared to death.  Good.  Except then I saw them sitting in the flower box of another apartment across from me.   Were you here, you would have seen my eyes narrow in anger and disgust.

Why do I dislike pigeons so much?   Birds are dirty.  And pigeons are noisy.  Coo-coo-ing all the time.  Argh.

As I survey the buildings overlooking this courtyard, I count only two window boxes.  That one and mine.  Now I understand why.

I’ll be out of this place by early February.  No weather for open windows.  I don’t think I need find another squirt gun.