Why this blog?

To understand why this blog was created and where it got its name, start here

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I wish I had some steamy details of a weekend consumed with pillow talk, but alas, I had only a couple of hours to spend in conversation with Andrea and I found myself more in a listener/counselor role rather than something else. . . .

Andrea lived in Paris for ten years before moving to Barcelona four years ago, and his short visit to my place was sandwiched between other previously scheduled meetings and obligations.

Disappointed? A little. The hours spent in blissful anticipation were vastly outnumbered by the meager hours spent together.

At this point in his life he is looking for the love of his life and the mother of his future children, and, obviously, I am at a much different place in my life's journey. Nevertheless, I've enjoyed the hours spent with him and it's nice to be reminded that I am still desirable and "luminous" as he calls me ;-)

He doesn't return to Barcelona until Tuesday. Maybe I'll see him again before he leaves? But I won't stay home anxiously awaiting the musical tone signaling an incoming text message from him.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Andrea is coming to Paris this weekend.

Will the tasting be as sweet as the waiting?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends and family!

Today is just another Thursday here. It's a regular working day and most French people don't even realize that it's a big holiday in the U.S.

I'm not doing much today. I've made a few new American friends here, but these friendships are very recent, and I don't know of anyone nearby who will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a big turkey dinner.

I've decided to have my own Thanksgiving dinner. I bought a roast chicken and intend to mash some potatoes. I was about to write how I've never seen cranberries or sweet potatoes here, when, lo and behold, my local vegetable market had some for sale - just for today. No pumpkin pie though.

I have many things to be thankful for. It has been a wonderful year of discovery for me, and even though I'm alone today and thinking of my friends and family home in Denver/Boulder, I am healthy and content.

Enjoy the day. And enjoy each other!

Love from Paris,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I was somewhat vague about leaving Paris to participate in a workshop in the south of France near Montpellier. The course description may sound a little weird to some of you, but I've participated in Robert Moss workshops before and always come away with fresh insights. Anyway, this blog is all about following your intuition (pif) - you never know who or what you'll find. Besides, my drum wanted to go. Moss uses shamanic drumming in his workshops and invited participants to bring along their drums. Mine was lonely hanging on my wall in Paris and wanted to join some friends.

In addition, I've been having some odd dreams lately and knew that I could count on getting some help with dream interpretation. A main tenet of Robert Moss's writing and teaching is about trusting dreams, coincidence, and imagination. There are signs all around us - if we are willing to pay attention.
I was not disappointed.

I woke up Sunday morning after a very vivid dream: I was on the back of a motorcycle with a young handsome fellow with latin features. He takes a drink from a water bottle that has fresh flowers in it and the offers me a drink of the water. I adjust my helmet and we take off.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I'm not likely to find myself on a motorcycle (or even a motor scooter). Too dangerous. And then . . . can you imagine my surprise upon arriving at the workshop and seeing someone across the table with the exact face of the person in my dream? He also instantly recognized something familiar in me. Neither of us could explain it, but we spent an amazing day (and night) together. His name is Andrea, and the front desk put us in the same room, thinking that "Andrea" was a woman's name. It isn't - at least not in Italy where he's from. He now lives in Barcelona, and speaks Italian, Spanish, French and English. I don't know how old he is, but he is younger than I am (but older than my sons!)

Anyway, maybe that is part of the reason I enjoyed the workshop? Even though we went our separate ways afterwards.
Will I hear from him again?

Oh, and the other messages from the workshop:
- live in the present - carpe diem
- pay attention to your dreams
- look for signs and synchronicities
- trust your intuition


It was raining hard when I arrived in Montpellier on Saturday. It's not much fun exploring a new town in a driving rain, so I decided to go to a movie in the afternoon. I left the movie theater shortly before 6 pm to find that the rain had stopped and the city had been transformed into a fairyland. I wandered the streets for the next two hours, taking in the the lights, the history, and the moonrise.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Le Hameau de l'Etoile

I'll be offline for a few days. I'll be attending a three day workshop in the south of France in St-Martin-de-Londres near Montpellier. I'm leaving my computer behind in Paris - radical! Check back on Wednesday and I'll tell you more.


I have so much to learn regarding photography.

We barely scratched the surface in our "Words and Images" class, although I got some very helpful feedback regarding both the story (poem) I chose to share along with its accompanying photograph. I intend to take additional classes with the instructor, Meredith Mullins. Even better, I've made some new friends and after class we went to a local cafe on the Ile St. Louis for lunch. After lunch, I tagged along with classmates who wanted to go to Sotheby's to check out the photographs which were slated for auction today.

Wow! I've never been to Sotheby's before and was surprised that just anyone could go in and browse - and take pictures! There were some wonderful photos and some were quite "affordable" - but far beyond my idea of affordable . . .

One of my favorites, a 1923 photo of Notre Dame by Eugène Atget ended up selling for 168,750 euros.

It was fun to look, though.

One of my classmates was interested in bidding on this Karsh portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe. I'm not sure if she got it or not.

Anyway, this is the "Month of the Photo" in Paris, and I hope to visit many more exhibits before the month is over.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jean Pierre - part II

Jean Pierre is history. Too many phone calls and too much whining about me not returning his calls immediately. OK, to be fair, maybe he is just nervous and/or insecure. After all, this dating business is complicated if you've been out of practice for awhile - for everyone. And perhaps men, or at least French men, feel a greater responsibility for taking the initiative? At any rate, my days lately have been filled with classes, museums, photography exhibits, lunches, films, and conversations with new (women) friends.

I don't like to feel pressured. And I don't like whining.
I think he got the message. And he apologized.
Too late.

I'm on my way to the Cabane a Huitres for my weekly oyster fix - alone. Maybe that good-looking Italian guy will be there again . . . ;-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creative writing

Internet dating sites can be quite entertaining. Almost every day offers up a smorgasbord of possibilities. Some sites, such as eHarmony and eDarling, offer earnest descriptions of individuals using real first names and making a best effort to describe what they are looking for: "tired of living alone, a few extra pounds, but a good heart and a good sense of humor".

Photos are a study in contrasts. Some, carefully selected, offer a glimpse of the adventurer, the romantic. Others, sadly, are dreadfully ill-chosen. The caption under Bob's photo in my inbox today was - "worst photo ever . . passport one". And it was awful! Why bother??

Other sites, notably Meetic, offer a selection of individuals using really dumb pseudonyms such as: "beaumek" = beau mec = "good looking guy", or "tatend" = je t'attends = "I'm waiting for you", or "foliqidure" = folie qui dure = "madness (craziness, passion) which lasts". Huh?

Others are simply descriptive: "Michelgolf" is someone who really loves golf and who is looking for a woman who enjoys golf as much as he does.

Some descriptions have me laughing out loud. Here's another one from today's mailbox:
"Je suis trop beau trop gentil trop mignon et trop romantique pour être seul.. je voudrais une femme qui saurait me seduire qui aimerait remplir mon coeur et ma vie" A translation goes something like this: "I'm too handsome, too nice, too cute, and too romantic to be alone .. I'd like a woman who would know how to seduce me, who would love to fill my heart and my life" Gag!

Who writes these things? They can't be serious??

That said, it is easy to laugh; much harder to accurately describe oneself and what one is looking for . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Michel has been out of town for a few days. He spent the long holiday weekend in Brittany at his country house.

Therefore, when Jean-Pierre called suggesting we meet on Saturday afternoon, I agreed. A first meeting is always coffee, this time at a cafe near my place. Hmmm, good conversation. Jean-Pierre is just emerging after the sudden death of his wife of 40 years just 14 months ago. He's not looking to replace her, just looking to come out of his shell a bit.

That's fine with me. I'm not interested in replacing a departed wife - either through death or divorce. I'm not interested in being a nurse, cook, or housekeeper for someone who finds himself alone.

However, dinner companion? Sure. Traveling companion? Eventually. Maybe.

So coffee with Jean-Pierre went well. We decided to stay on for dinner. We stayed at the same cafe/bistrot and had oysters followed by tarte au citron. The oysters were pretty good, but of course it wasn't at all the same ambiance as chez Francis at the Cabane à Huitres. Maybe, if he's lucky, I'll take Jean-Pierre to the Cabane à Huitres next time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

La Tartiflette

I've invited Odette to come and see my new apartment and join me for Sunday lunch. I'd just finished my shopping when I walked past a cheese shop which featured a huge cooking dish outside. What's that?

"La Tartiflette," responded the fromager (cheese guy). I had seen Tartiflette on the menus of several restaurants while traveling in Switzerland and Annecy earlier this year, but had never ordered it. I had never even seen it. It's kind of like scalloped potatoes with the addition of ham or bacon (lardons) with Reblochon cheese on top. It's a perfect winter dish - as you might expect from a region in France - La Savoie - known for its mountains and ski areas and its cheeses.

Of course, I had to bring back a sample for lunch. Yumm!

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Words and images"

The course description caught my attention:
"Good storytelling is born when the right words are matched with powerful images. This two-session workshop will provide the basic writing tools for crafting a good article and the photojournalistic skills to capture great photos to accompany the story."

Just what I need to take my writing and photography skills to the next level . . .

The first day of class was Wednesday, November 10th. I have a project to work on for next week - and now I am intimidated after seeing the instructor's work.

No more clichés - either in words or in pictures. Each of us left the instructor's studio on the Ile St. Louis looking for unique photo opportunities. Maybe if I convert some photos to black and white it will look more like art??

Anyway, the late afternoon sunshine (after a day of rain) took my breath away. Cliché or not, I just had to capture the light on Notre Dame as I walked home on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My apartment

November can be cold and rainy in Paris and this month is no exception. Fortunately, my apartment offers an antidote to the depressing weather.

My first reaction to the goldenrod-colored closet doors, the burnt orange carpet, and the oranges, reds and yellows of the bed was less than positive. However, I have come to appreciate the warmth that they bring to a gray day.

The walls are still pretty bare, and I'm waiting to find just the right pictures to hang. In the meantime, I did bring back my drum (I found it in the Taos Drum Shop and I'm convinced it harbors some ancestral spirits.) I also bought a small armchair from a nearby shop. The guitar? Left behind by Nathalie, along with a funky orange lamp and hundreds of her books.

The balcony needed some color too. I'm told the cyclamen and heather will easily survive the winter outside. The colors cheer me up and I've even been favored by the visits of some small yellow and gray birds that seem to appreciate the birdseed that I've offered.

The apartment is quiet because I look down on some greenery rather than the noisy street.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


"How about a cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg? Would you be tempted?" The question from Michel came halfway through lunch on Sunday.

Would I be tempted? You bet! Sounds much better than renting a "camping car" (RV) and driving through Tuscany - which he mentioned last time we met.

The Russian river cruise wouldn't happen before next spring/summer, so there's plenty of time to think about it - and to decide if I'm interested . . .

Midterm elections

No, you haven't stumbled into a political blog by mistake.

I've been struck this week by how closely the French have been following the recent midterm elections. It started with my landlords and neighbors René and Sophie who invited me to dinner the other night to watch the election results on TV. French TV channels featured several prime-time programs tracking the U.S. political races. To be fair, René and Sophie spend several months a year in California, and although they aren't U.S. citizens and can't vote, they follow American politics very closely.

Later, on Friday afternoon, I joined a French/English conversation group which meets regularly nearby. There were around 50 people, in small circles of 6-8 people, with about 80% French and 20% English/American. The format includes 45 minutes of English and 45 minutes of French conversation. I joined a group which included a nucleus of French regulars who have been participating in the conversation groups for over 7 years. Again, I was surprised at the level of interest in the U.S. elections and our English conversation included an in-depth analysis of the results along with many comparisons of the Obama administration vs. the Bush administration. Needless to say, Obama is much better regarded here than his predecessor, and the French will be watching and hoping that Obama will be successful in implementing his agenda despite the recent setback.

Just another reminder of why I like living here. The people are engaged, interesting, and interested in the wider world.

Friday, November 5, 2010


The first meeting with Michel went a little bit better. I met him through eDarling which is remarkably similar to eHarmony in its time-consuming questionnaire that attempts to make better matches. In fact, the site is so similar that I thought it might be owned by eHarmony. No, said the customer service agent, but eHarmony is a major investor in the company.

So far, I prefer eDarling. It provides more background information on its members and less focus on purely physical description. It also offers "guided communication" much like eHarmony - meaning that you are given tools to learn more about the person before meeting, rather than presenting a completely random selection of age-appropriate members.

Michel's profile seemed interesting; active, well traveled, with many interests in common. He has a daughter and four grandchildren who live in Minneapolis, so he was particularly interested in meeting an American. We have been corresponding for several weeks and finally met after my return to Paris.

This time, a meeting for coffee was followed by a movie and a light dinner. He was much more of a gentleman and willing to take things at a pace more my speed. We'll see if he's a good listener. . . I've agreed to meet him for Sunday lunch and a concert afterwards.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


"Papi" is a French expression for "Grandpa". "Nou" reminded me of "nounours" = teddy bear. So when I saw the pseudonym "Papinou" I conjured up the image of "Grandpa teddy bear". The photo supported this image - blue eyes, nice smile, a certain gentleness. I discovered Papinou via Meetic, the largest French internet dating site. Or rather he discovered me. He "flashed" me. Huh? What does THAT mean? "Vous avez reçu un flash."
After some head scratching, I figured that "flash" was Meetic-speak for "wink" in eHarmony-speak. It's called sending a "smile" (sourire) in eDarling-speak. I'm learning a whole new language!

Meetic is big on pseudonyms and short on personality profiles. It also seems to focus on physical appearance - with specific questions regarding weight, silhouette, and style of dress. For "style" I had to choose between BCBG (huh?), branché (trendy), business, bohème, classique, ethnique, décontracté, rock, sportif, or other. Only in France! Another question: which of your body parts is the most attractive? And what are you looking for in him? Pecs? abdominals? hands? feet? butt? etc. To be fair, eyes and smile are also included in the list, as is "the most beautiful is not on the list".

Anyway, besides age, pleasant photos, a non-smoker who likes restaurant and cinema, plus "flash", I didn't have much else to go on when it came to Papinou's description. And after several emails back and forth, we finally met for coffee after my return to Paris.

He seemed surprised to see that I resembled the photo in my profile. Apparently, lots of people don't resemble their photos? He made lots of disparaging remarks about botox and liars. Lots of disparaging remarks about a lot of things. And he was too eager to hold hands and tutoie. Not my cup of tea! So much for my initiation into online dating . . .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kissing frogs

eHarmony? eDarling? or Meetic? or all three?

Do I really dare subscribe to an internet dating site?

I had a great visit with Teri and JD who told me how they met through eHarmony. They explained the process thoroughly. Hmmm.

Later, I met Catherine and Jean Pierre, each with three school-aged children, who met through the French site Meetic. They, too, swore that the system does work - even though it is extremely time consuming to go through dozens, sometimes hundreds, of profiles of eligible singles.

Eventually, after being assured that yes, nice girls (and older women) DO go online, and yes, there are plenty of older gentlemen out there - I decided to subscribe. Besides, I'm not desperate. I am perfectly happy living alone - although an occasional dinner companion might be nice. Furthermore, I decided that it could make a good story - maybe some journalistic research? Could I deduct the subscription costs from my taxes? Or maybe another study in social anthropology? Why not?

So which site to choose? And more importantly, how do I describe myself? And what AM I looking for, anyway??

I eventually signed on to all three sites.

I subscribed to eHarmony first, but in hindsight that didn't make much sense - their members are primarily located in the U.S. and I'm looking for a dinner date, not a penpal. The eHarmony site did offer some very interesting contrasts with the French sites which I'll go into in a later post.

I also subscribed to a European site called eDarling. Funny name, but very similar in format to eHarmony in that it involves an extensive questionnaire which supposedly enables a computer to provide good matches. I'd had a couple of "hits" on this site and started corresponding with a couple of people but had yet to actually meet anyone face to face. I was traveling in September, and then unexpectedly returned to the U.S. in October. Now that I'm back, maybe I can get back down to "business". And I have.

Oh, so now you want details? Stay tuned!