Why this blog?

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Philippe

Today is my son Philippe's 36th birthday. I'm sorry I won't be in Portland to celebrate with him and Rachel, but we'll be thinking of him and sending love.

Last year I featured some photos of him as a youngster.
Here's a more recent photo of Philippe:

Philippe and Rachel have a special connection with Paris - this is where they became engaged in 2007. Philippe and Rachel came back to Paris in May, 2011 and they returned to the site of his proposal - the Pont des Arts - to seal their love by attaching a padlock to the railing and throwing the key into the river below.

Patrice and I went back to the Pont des Arts last week to look for their padlock.

The bridge continues to attract lovers and padlocks.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Face to face

Patrice received a slide scanner for Christmas. He has thousands of slides taken by his father and himself over the years. One of the first slides that he scanned was this one of his much younger self:

We went to the Bois de Vincennes to take a more recent picture
and voilà - his doppelganger

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Louvre

A rare December blue sky led us to the Louvre for our most recent photo expedition.

Patrice enjoys playing with the camera controls and post-production special effects:

p.s. Oops, it's hard to see the birds in the tiny video window.
Here's an enlargement.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Sonia

Today is Sonia Martin's 79th birthday. We have been friends since 1961 - 50 years! I wrote about Sonia last year here.

In October, 1956, Sonia Stromback married William R. (Bill) Martin. Here they are on their wedding day.

Bill was older than Sonia, and yet they were married for almost 49 years when Bill passed away in July, 2005. Here they are in 1957.

Now, Sonia's live-in companion is Owen, a rambunctious* Airedale that Sonia rescued a few years ago. (Rambunctious = turbulent)

I'll be thinking of you, Sonia, and sending love from Paris.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

McDonald's in Paris

What? Elaine agrees to eat a BigMac?? I thought she preferred oysters, foie gras and champagne? Yes, she does prefer French food and NEVER goes to McDonald's - until yesterday. We were out on a photography expedition and after spending a couple of hours on bicycles and on foot, we were tired and hungry. And it was 4 in the afternoon - certainly not a proper time for a meal. I decided to put aside my prejudices for the sake of exploration.

Yep, a BigMac tastes about the same anywhere in the world.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Réveillon de Noël

The traditional French Christmas eve dinner (réveillon de noël) gathers friends and family around a table that often includes oysters, foie gras, champagne and other delicacies.

Patrice and I were invited to réveillon at the Cabane a Huitres. It was a private dinner with Francis, his wife Régine, son Frédéric and a couple of family friends. Dinner included champagne and plenty of oysters - of course!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday lights

Paris grands magasins (large department stores):
the Galeries Lafayette

with its five-story Christmas tree inside

and nearby rival - Le Printemps.

I'm missing my family this year, but looking forward to my first Christmas with Patrice.

Happy Holidays to all of my loyal readers. I hope you'll send me photos and letters and tell me how YOU are doing this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Patrice and I have been experimenting with our new cameras, taking them out to photograph the sights of Paris. Yesterday's excursion took us to Montmartre - a neighborhood situated high on a hill in the north of Paris with a rich history and now a favorite of tourists.

It's great exercise climbing the stairs to the top of the hill.

Or you can do what we did - take the funicular.

People come up here to check out the view of Paris

Or to ride the carousel

Or to visit the Basilica of Sacre Coeur

Or to have a drawing made in the Place du Tertre.

The performance artists are much appreciated by the crowds and the photographers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eight months

Patrice and I have been together for eight months now. Each month, on the 19th (the day we met), we celebrate by drinking a Kwak - the Belgian beer that we drank on our first meeting. We now have our own special glasses, so we had a toast with our Christmas tree in the background.

Eight months - and each month is better than the last.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Notre Dame de Paris

Just after sundown . . .

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Paris at night

It's a cliche, but I never tire of it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last week we were on our way to dinner when we drove by an unoccupied building not far from our apartment. Painters were hard at work on their art - but unfortunately we didn't have time to stop and catch them in action. We went back this week to capture the results.

A self-portrait of the artist?

No surface left untouched - walls, sidewalk, trees, lampposts, etc.

You can check it out yourself if you live in Paris - 18 rue des Pyrénées in the 20th arrondissement.

Elaine caught in the act . . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My local bookstore

Just across the street is a bookstore (and a bookseller) that I've been dying to photograph.

Where to start?

Don't even try to find a book. Just ask!

I went in this afternoon looking for a specific book with rules for conjugating English verbs. I described the book, the editor and the publisher. The bookseller listened intently and then disappeared around the corner. He reappeared a few moments later, book in hand.

I happily paid the 10 euros for the book and we talked for a few minutes about books, beards, and Santa Claus.

There's another career waiting for him if he ever tires of his books ;-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New camera

Wow, I am seriously intimidated by my new camera. It's like buying a new Porsche when my most common destination is the grocery store . .

I was a complete camera novice as of a year ago. I never owned more than a point-and-shoot, and typically relied on my traveling partner (thanks Margo!) to handle the photography duties. Then, when I came to France equipped with a newer point and shoot, I suddenly discovered the joy of photography. I took a couple of classes here in Paris (thanks Meredith) and the more I learned the more I realized there was to learn. However, Meredith gently reminded me that I would be frustrated with additional classes - the topics covered would be impossible for me to achieve with my limited equipment.

Sooooo, the new camera. And while it takes fabulous photos on the Automatic setting, it would be a real shame not to take advantage of its many capabilities. Besides, now I want to take more sophisticated photos. And so I am plunging into the world of ISO settings, Aperture and Shutter Priority, White Balance, Depth of Field, Bracketing, and Flash Modes - not to mention struggling with the latest version of Photoshop Elements . . .

Patrice keeps trying to teach me the basics and the physics of photography. Afterall, he had a darkroom when he was 15 years old, and these technical aspects are as natural as breathing for him. I keep looking for the angle or the color or the story behind the scene I'm trying to create, while he wants to teach me about focal length and ISO setting. Furthermore; he thinks, works, and explains in French, and his camera controls and documentation are in French, while my camera controls and documentation are in English - not to mention that it's hard enough for me to learn a new vocabulary such as "aperture priority" without trying to figure out how it's called in French . . . .

So please bear with me as I learn how to drive my new Porsche ;-)
In the meantime, here are a couple of recent photos . .

This is the Invalides dome behind the Assemblée Générale

as seen from the top of the Grande Roue (ferris wheel) in the place de la Concorde.