Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm in the New York Times!

Aha! I thought that might grab your attention. And it's not a lie - they did publish a letter I wrote to the editor this weekend. Like most crazy/semi-retired people, I think of writing letters to the editor all the time, but only rarely find the energy to do it. I'm very proud to say that out of the 5 letters to the editor I've ever actually sent, this is the 4th one that's been published (the others were in San Francisco Magazine in 2002, and in the Int'l Herald Tribune in 2003 and 2005). Each letter has been about a completely different subject, from child poverty to the dating scene in San Francisco. The great thing about writing a letter to the editor is that you don't need to be an expert, just a fairly intelligent person with an opinion, and so you can write about anything you want. Without sounding too much like a government pamphlet, I do believe it's one of the few direct ways in which you can exercise your right of free speech as a citizen. Who knows if it changes anything, or helps anyone, but hearing other viewpoints (and spending time formulating your own) can't be a bad thing, can it?

Blame this tendency or philosophy on my intellectual/hippie upbringing in Cambridge, MA, when my teachers had us writing letters to Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, and a whole host of other people, about everything from Vietnam to legalizing marijuana (OK, I may be remembering incorrectly, but there were some pretty racy topics going on in the 1970s, even among us 11-year-olds). At the time of course, my politics pretty much derived entirely from Mother Jones and Mad Magazine, so you can imagine the kind of letters I was writing (fervently, on a little black manual typewriter one of my teachers had given me in 4th grade). I do remember getting a response back from Richard Nixon's White House, just months before he resigned; I think the topic was the energy crisis. The official letter thanked me for my letter and said that my comments would be taken under consideration. At first I thought it was Nixon himself and I felt quite honored to think that the President was writing to me personally. Then I noticed that the signature was a stamp, and it wasn't him at all. Suddenly the world felt a lot bigger and impersonal than I had been led to believe in my cozy Cambridge community of touchy-feely, impassioned people. Why, Nixon didn't care about me - he didn't even know about my existence, much less that I wrote to him. (Thus began my cold awakening to the basic insignificance of my own little life, a realization that to this day leaves me fairly stricken with horror - in between cooking and painting and writing letters to the editor of course...)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Big Sky in Paris

This week we had the rare treat of seeing not only blue sky but big, puffy, cumulus clouds - just like the ones in children's books. Fabulous! It felt like Paris had imported a bit of Montana for the afternoon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Man in the Tree

This is the top of a tall tree I saw Sunday in Parc de Vincennes, near Paris. Do you see a little headless man walking with a stick on that horizontal branch? Because I certainly do. I wonder where he's going...(click on image to make it bigger)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Stairway to Huffin' (and Puffin')

These are the stairs leading to my apartment, the stairs I take every day, up and down, at least once, sometimes two or three times (but not if I can help it). These are the stairs where I saw a mouse once, making me walk noisily ever since (figuring that if the mouse is around he'll know to vamoose). These are the stairs where a few days ago, after reaching the top (5th floor), I let my hat flutter, ever so gently, down, down, down, all the way to bottom, and had to go retrieve it even though I really didn't want to. These are the stairs that manage to keep me in reasonable shape in spite of myself. These are the stairs which one day, please pray, will have an elevator slicing right down the middle of them. I live in eager anticipation of that day.

Paris Gym, Part 2

Once upon a time I belonged to a real gym, where I paid membership dues and signed up for weight training classes, and listened in on conversations in the women's locker room -"Did she get that face lift?" "Oh no, she's doing chi gong instead", etc. (Obviously the gym was in California). But those days are over, for several reasons, not least the fact that I absolutely hate gyms and loathe going to them and would rather be out of shape forever than have to listen to someone who looks like a walking testosterone experiment tell me what to do.

I do, however, accept the premise that the human body needs to exert itself now and then, and so I appreciate the fact that Paris is a good place for what the experts call "built-in exercise." Witness these 10 or so kilos of food that I walked from the store and brought up the 5 flights to our apartment last week. The load was light enough to carry without help, but heavy enough that I had to keep shifting the bags and box along the way, giving my biceps, triceps, forceps and every other kind of "ceps" a very good little work-out. The best thing about this particular kind of workout is that when it's over you get to be in the comfort of your own home, ready to make a yummy lunch. It sure beats mopping sweat off some old piece of cracked leather equipment in a room full of people looking at themselves.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Breakfast of Pigeons

This is the kind of photo that seems to be screaming for a caption, doesn't it? At least in my mind...

"I don't know about you, Fred, but to me these whole wheat baguettes just ain't the real thing."

"Whose turn was it to bring the coffee?"

"Look at this, guys - even the breadcrumbs are super-sized these days!"

(And then of course this could lead to a whole conversation...)

"Why the heck aren't we speaking French, anyway? Aren't we in Paris?"

"Pigeons don't talk, dummy."

"So then shut the __ up"

etc etc etc

Feel free to come up with your own! First prize is a stale baguette!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another Sneak Preview!

Here is one of the completed apple paintings that I have yet to post on my website. I'm hoping that by putting it here I will stir such passionate interest and curiosity among my readers (circulation: 4) that the sheer momentum will propel me to finish the job of updating my website and getting on with my life. I am, after all, an extrovert, and often do need that proverbial kick in the pants to get things done. Thus I ask thee, dear gentle reader, please oh please will you kick me?

(Note: The original title for this blog posting was "Just For Kicks" which I thought was very cute and humourous until I got about 30 spammers' "comments" within 3 minutes - yikes, there's another one! So much for harmless punning!)

(5 minutes later: OK, i just changed the title AGAIN - I had it as "Apple Sneak Preview" and perhaps that looked too much like Apple computers, because I'm getting all this computer software spam...?? The internet is definitely a strange place. I should log off now and read a book. At least in books nothing can pop out at you -- I mean, unless you're reading a children's pop-up book...)