Monday, October 29, 2007

Pigeon, Patterns, and Pre-Halloween Sky

First Fire of the Season

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autumn Colors in Champagne

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fin de Travaux

Forgot to blog about this...but I've been too happy to have my house back again! This was taken a few days before the painters finished their work, when I was literally chomping at the bit to be able to move the furniture back in place. It was hard not to keep asking, "C'est presque fini?" (Is it almost done?) Poor guys - talk about having someone breathing down your neck! As Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part (for impatient ungrown-up grown-ups like me!).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blue-tiful Day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shadows and Patterns in the Marais

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Everything Must Go!

Well, everything we don't want, that is. The clutter clearing process has begun in earnest, and what better way to celebrate than to have a good old fashioned yard sale? In French such a sale is called a vide grenier - meaning, literally, to empty the attic. Of course in our case we have neither yard nor attic, so we just arranged our various items on several tables and invited people over for tea and "unwanted object perusal." It was an intimate group (this kind of sale obviously can't get foot traffic - not on a 5th floor walk-up, anyway), yet there were some similarities to other yard sales I've had and been to in the States.

First, there was all the obligatory small stuff: playing cards with various "themes" (movie stars/George Bush in drag), Italian language tapes, obsolete electronics, tarnished jewelry, and of course tons of books and DVDs that seemed so important to own at the time of purchase and now only take up space (and will be resold for a fraction of their original price - when will I ever learn?). Then, there were the "big ticket" items - electric fans (just in time for winter!), a table, chairs, and - yes, the inevitable tennis rackets, which appear at every yard sale I've ever been to. (Have you ever noticed this? It's weird. If so many people are selling rackets, then who actually plays tennis? I think the ones we have were from another sale, in fact. We used them twice in 5 years).

And finally, there was the yard sale "bargain hunter" (there's one at every sale!) - who, even though I was practically giving everything away, still wanted to negotiate for lower prices. What's up with these people? Do they see this as their big chance to play wheeler and dealer - with a bunch of old housewares? I remember at one yard sale a woman wanted to buy a BRAND NEW pressure cooker from me. I had it listed for a dollar; she said "fifty cents." Fifty cents! Well, I really let her have it! (That is, I let her have the pressure cooker...but for a dollar. Even if I don't have any guns, I can still stick to them sometimes!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Sun Also Rises (Even Over Polluted Paris)

This was actually a little later than sunrise, but the buildings create a higher horizon line.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walking Along the Canal

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Morning Still Life

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Tree Shadow

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Why I Moved to Paris (or, Why, I Moved to Paris!)

The other day I took a stroll past my first "real" address in Paris: 58 rue Monceau in the 8th arrondissement. This is where I lived when I first came to Paris (in 2002) to live for an extended length of time, not just a month or two. A few months earlier (while traveling down the road in a van in France, but that's a different story), I had made a list of pros and cons about whether to live in Paris. Like so many of the most important decisions in my life, the cons outweighed the pros by 2 to 1 (pollution, dog crap, all the usual suspects), but I still decided to plunge in. Call it an itch that needed to be scratched, one of those things I felt I had to do, or I would always wonder "what if...?" Probably George Bush had something to do with it too.

My "apartment" - in reality a glorified maid's quarters - was up 7 flights of dusty narrow stairs, and measured less than 200 square feet, much of which was under the eaves (and I'm hardly what you would call diminuitive in stature). The kitchen consisted of two camp-style electric burners, a sink that was big enough to wash one dish at a time, and a miniature version of a hotel fridge. The bed was a saggy futon on a fold-out couch that took about 10 minutes to fold out. There were no closets; I hung my clothes on a rack like in a department store. For most of the first month the toilet didn't work at all (don't ask). Moreover, because I'd had only one day to find an apartment, I hadn't had any time to do research on the area (a necessity in Paris, which is really a cluster of villages). Thus I found out after I moved in that my "village" was in fact comprised mainly of offices and embassies, meaning that there was little to do at night - very few cafes or restaurants, very few services.

Oh, and did I mention that the toilet didn't work for most of the first month, and I was on a 7th floor walk-up?

And yet - all that being said - I loved that little apartment, or nest, or whatever it was. If I leaned my body against the eaves and looked out the window, I could see a tiny piece of green from Parc Monceau nearby (that was a redeeming feature of the neighborhood, and I went there almost every day to sketch). I could see the beautiful - glamourous! - architecture of the late 19th century, in all its glory, laid out before me in neverending rows. And I could see the sky - the sky at night in Paris, from late spring turning to summer, when the day didn't end until after 10 pm.

All the many "cons" of living in Paris were eclipsed by the one simple "pro" - the simple wonder - of just being here, of just being alive to witness this old, beautiful, loveable, changeable, hateable, rigid, enigmatic place that people have called home for centuries. Who needs a working toilet? Or so ran my thoughts at the time...

(Part 1 of a new series - to be continued at some point)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Something About Orange...

(The color, that is, not the township in New Jersey.)
I never wear this color but maybe I should? It imparts a feeling of calm. Is that why monks wear it?

Pumpkins, sweet potato, squash, carrots, oranges. Can you think of any other foods that are orange? (Why am I so full of questions today? I don't know, do you?)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Certain Slant of Light...

...that I associate with late September/early October. Maybe because the sun is getting lower in the sky, it seems all the more noticeable, all the more precious .

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Early Autumn Comes to Parc Monceau

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Pallor Shade of White

Here's the contrast between the new color (white) being painted on the walls, and what was there before. Wow - for two years I've been saying we have white walls, and in fact they are yellow! Just goes to show how our mind will convince us of something even when it's not really true. (I better not look at my teeth anytime soon!)

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Life in Letters

Remember the days before email? When people actually wrote their news and thoughts in longhand or on a typewriter, licked stamps, and carried their letters in person to the mailbox - to be picked up and handled by several others before finally arriving at their destination?

The whole idea of letter-writing seems almost quaint now, something from a bygone era. And yet there is something so personal, so original about letters, which email can never really duplicate. All emails look basically the same, and arrive in the same format - in a computer font, on a computer screen. In contrast, each letter has its own size and shape and bulk (depending on the prolificity of the letter-writer), its own idiosyncratic scrawl, its own life, just as any object that has been touched by human hands has life. An email cannot be touched by human hands, unless it's printed out, which is after the fact, or unless you are inside of a computer (which I really hope, for your sake, you are not).

I'm sure there have been many, many articles and essays written about this whole subject, so I will restrain myself from pontificating any further. But I did just want to say this - I love old letters. I don't know what I'm going to do with all the ones I have (about 4 shoeboxes' worth) but until I figure it out, I'm going to keep them.