Monday, April 30, 2007

April Showers (just in time for May!)

We had our first rain last night, after what felt like weeks and weeks of blue sky and sunshine. And it was a satisfying downpour, replete with thunder and lightning and power surges - reminding me of the summer storms of my youth, when the lights would go out and we would sit around eating popcorn and telling ghost stories.

But the lights stayed on last night, and so there were no ghost stories, and no popcorn. Instead, I watched the family across the street as they watched the rain from their 6th floor garret window: a mother and father and two small children squeezed into a tiny metal frame, like a family huddling together for a photograph. One of the children dropped a toy onto the gutter below and the father spent the next 10 minutes fishing for it with a broom handle. I couldn't help but get caught up in the suspense - would he manage to hook the toy and bring it back up to safety? The whole family leaned out and cheered him on. But then they saw me watching them, and I sank back into my apartment and closed the curtains - away from their world and back to my own.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Toi et Moi (et moi et moi et moi...)

Little did this clementine know how much attention would be lavished on him, when I selected him at the produce stand all those months ago! (Actually this one is a replacement - an understudy if you will - graciously furnished by a friend. Thanks Luz!)
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Green Leanings

No, I'm not on a diet (not really). But I do like to eat green things as much as possible. It just seems to make sense, doesn't it? Green = leaf = tree = forest = oxygen = life -- and so on.

What you don't see in the picture are the cookies, pasta, pizza, potato chips, bread, chocolate, red wine, beer, and other non-green items which are perhaps not 100 percent necessary to my survival, but which make life on this planet a whole heck of a lot more interesting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Late Arrival of the Finger Puppets

Yesterday morning I got a package from the States: six months' worth of junk mail and bank statements, some soap and funny stickers, and these finger puppets. What a great way to start the day! (Thanks Shannon!) Let me tell you, it's hard to stay grumpy when you're looking at a finger puppet. I'm seriously considering wearing them during my daily peregrinations around Paris...

Of course, the tarnish on the event was the fact that the package slip arrived almost a week ago - but the concierge (or gardienne) was on vacation and so our mail didn't get delivered (don't even ask - the building association doesn't want to pay for mailboxes to be installed, so we are the mercy of when the gardienne wants to climb the stairs and put the mail under our mat!). I really feel like yelling at someone about this state of affairs, but who? And what would the finger puppets say?

Good Day Sunshine!

The days have been so warm and lovely - the best April I've seen yet in Paris. People are soaking up the sun and good vibes wherever they can - like here on the steps of the Seine, near Notre Dame.

Clothing Statements

A couple of weeks ago, when it seemed that winter was really and truly over, I took the summer clothes down from above the wardrobe where they've been living (here in the Land of No Closets, a.k.a. Paris) and threw them all on the bed for a good sift-through. It was like seeing old friends again after a long hiatus. I'd forgotten I'd had some of these! And others I wondered why I'd ever had in the first place. An alarming amount of pink, fuschia, and turquoise - and can that really be two instances of tie-dye in the same pile? How on earth did I allow that to happen? Just when I think I really am living the life of a witty, urban sophisticate - my clothes remind me that in fact I am just another AGING HIPPIE ROCKER in desperate need of a makeover. It's enough to make me want to follow in Georgia O'Keefe's footsteps (and many others) and wear all black. But of course I did that already. It was called the 80s.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Election Night in France

Yesterday was the first round of presidential elections in France (if you don't live in a cave, you'll know who the winners were). It sounds like there was a record turn-out, something like 85 percent (?) of registered voters. Wow. I can't help but think that having the vote on a Sunday makes it easier for people to come out and vote.

At first I couldn't understand why there were riot police stationed everywhere around the Bastille, and in the metro. Then someone reminded me - oh yes - because of the elections. The mood was tense, but calm. People stood in the streets just watching the police, almost like they were on display - which I guess they were. (I snapped a photo quickly, wasn't sure if I was allowed to take photos at all and didn't want to get yelled at. Lucky me, that that's my biggest fear from the police.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Rainy March in March

This is another one from the "archives." Must be at least a few weeks ago, because we haven't had rain since then. I remember it was taken on a Saturday, from my living room window - me leaning out precariously, hoping the railing would hold...

I was also hoping these people were marching to shut down the supermarket across the street: a low, low, low-end version of a low-end supermarket - the kind of place where every can on the shelf is dented, and the shelf itself is sagging and about to fall. The kind of place where you are the only one in the checkout line who isn't buying a tall can of beer with a handful of small change. The kind of place where fights break out.

But no, it was those darn Socialists again! Good god, they're everywhere.

Still Life with Champagne

I've wanted to post this for a while, but I was having trouble uploading photos from my Picasa account to Blogger (there is a long, boring, technical explanation - suffice to say that it kept me from blogging as much as I might have normally. Which maybe is a good thing).

Anyway, this photo reminds me of one of those 18th century (?) Spanish still lifes. Or something I've seen before, in a dark corner of a museum where even the guards don't bother going.

(By the way, is the plural of still life still lifes or still lives? Either way sounds wrong, but I prefer lifes. You would think I would know this by now, jeez! But what I don't know about art could fill several blogs...)
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Eat Your Art Out!

That's right, I'm still painting vegetables...and fruit...and orchids...lots and lots of leafy, pretty, colorful things that happen to look really good when translated to acrylic on canvas.

Hey - if you happen to be in Paris next month (and I know that some of you jet-setters might be), you can come see my veggies (and more!) hanging at a show from May 2 to June 2 near the Bastille. More details on that later.

Meanwhile, I've got a date with some broccoli and bok choy...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Free-Wheelin' and Fancy-Free

Last week, once my wheezing-accordion cough had subsided a bit, I borrowed a friend's bike and braved the streets and bike paths of Paris. Fun, exhilerating, terrifying (at certain moments - like when the buses come up behind you in what feels like a very narrow lane). A real change from my usual metro/walking/bus routine. So much faster! Such a better way to see the city! And hey, free exercise!

Of course this is old hat for many of my friends, who've had bikes here for years. I've held off on getting a bike mostly because I love the freedom of not owning any sort of vehicle (one of the main advantages of living in Paris, in my opinion). But come July 15th, the city is putting in place a massive bike rental program which could be the answer to my prayers -- bikes for use in stations all around the city, free for the first 30 minutes and incrementally charged thereafter (there is a membership fee of course).

I didn't think I would need another excuse to sing the praises of Paris' hip, eco-friendly mayor, Bernard Delanoƫ, but here it is. Thanks to good old Bernie, I might never again be forced to inhale the urine-soaked halls of the Chatelet metro station - surely this qualifies him for sainthood?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reflections on the Canal

Canal St. Martin that is, just a 5 minute walk from my home.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia! What a beautiful word. I love saying it, I love the way it rolls off the tongue (OK, it doesn't quite roll off, it rather stumbles and lisps - but still, what a joyous sound). When I was a kid growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this would be the first flower (or bush) to bloom, the very first taste of spring. It was like color had been put into the world again, after an endless winter of black and white.

(Bonus: If you are a fellow forsythia-lover, search for "forsythia" in Google images: you won't be disappointed!)

Give Us This Day Our Not-So-Daily Blog

Hello again! Sorry for the rather long silence. Even bloggers need to shut up now and then. And last week had a weird feel to it -- sunny and chilly in equal measure, provoking allergies and mood swings alike. The death throes of winter competing with the birth of spring, or something like that.

So Passover and Easter came and went and I didn't really celebrate either (welcome to my secular life). It's a strange thing, the way I feel about holidays and rituals: on one hand I don't really care - "just another day" - and on the other hand, I kind of regret not going to church or a seder or, at the very least, unwrapping some foil-wrapped chocolate eggs (even though I can't stand milk chocolate anymore - but I do like the unwrapping part).

Instead, I stayed home the last few days with a chest cold, reading - of all things - Tom Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem. (I just now realized the irony of that...)

(p.s. The photo has nothing to do with this post but I wanted to give you a sense of how sunny it's been, sunny with long shadows.)