Why this blog?

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

Friday, October 28, 2011


It was a sad day today. Paco, Patrice's English Cocker Spaniel, had been staying with Patrice's sister-in-law while we were traveling in the U.S. We returned to find that Paco's health had declined dramatically. A visit to the vet confirmed the seriousness of Paco's health and Patrice took the painful decision to euthanize his companion of 14 years.

Dogs can go everywhere in France - even in restaurants, and Paco traveled extensively with Patrice, his late wife Giselle, and his former companion, Chantal. Here is Paco in his younger years.

Paco also accompanied Patrice and me when we visited Moret sur Loing

Patrice and Paco taking a snooze.

My condolences to Patrice and Chantal.

My talented daughter-in-law

October 18th was a big day -- my mother's 80th birthday, AND my son's wedding anniversary. Philippe and Rachel have been married for three years now. They have recently moved to Portland, Oregon where Philippe is teaching contemporary French literature at Lewis and Clark. Rachel left a busy architectural practice in Denver and has just opened an online shop featuring architecture inspired hand painted silk scarves. Here she is below, modeling some of her creations. You can check out her artistry here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Six months

Patrice and I celebrated our six months anniversary on October 19th. We are surprisingly compatible and share similar views and interests in most areas. Nevertheless, there are a few areas where we are trying out new experiences in order to please the other. For example, Patrice riding a bicycle or climbing to the top of Angel's Landing have surprised some of his friends and family -- just as my family was surprised to see me attending Nascar races or riding on the back of a motor scooter.

Patrice's wish for our anniversary was to take my Toyota 4x4 and try out some of the dirt roads in the mountains of Colorado.

The weather was gorgeous despite some early season snow.

This trail was rated "easy" in the guidebook, but I still found myself holding my breath as we sloshed through half-frozen water holes

or wobbled through a rocky stretch.

The view from the top was spectacular.

I was quite relaxed as we headed back down the trail -- it wasn't that frightening after all. Now I suppose he'll want to try this trail next time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tribute to Marilyn

Today is my Mother's 80th birthday. She has spent 62 years mothering, grandmothering, and great-grandmothering. She has changed tens of thousands of diapers, cooked thousands and thousands of meals, kissed away innumberable tears, and said millions of prayers trying to keep her family safe.

She was married at 17, a mother at 18, a grandmother at 40, and a great-grandmother by the time she was 64. And in spite of life devoted to others - she says she would do it all over again.

Marilyn in high school

Mom holding me in 1950

With my dad in 1970

She came to Paris in 1975 for the birth of my son Philippe - her fifth grandchild.

Here she is today - at 80.

We love you, Mom, and wish you many more years of happiness.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Voting in France

Voting always takes place on Sundays in France and typically includes two rounds one week apart. The president is elected for a 5 year term with current president Nicholas Sarcozy up for reelection in 2012 .

Last Sunday was the first ever national primary election for the French Socialist party. Voters are choosing between six contenders prepared to take on Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential elections next October.

Patrice follows French politics extremely closely, and we spend a lot of time comparing and debating the differences between the French and American systems. Did you know that paid political advertising on TV is illegal here? And there are few, if any, references to one's private life - pleasantly different from the U.S.

I accompanied Patrice to the local elementary school to vote.

I wasn't the only person reporting on the event.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Biking in the Bois de Vincennes

The weather is turning colder so we wanted to take advantage of the fine weather earlier this week to take a bicycle ride.

We live near the Bois de Vincennes on the southeast edge of Paris. The Bois (woods) is huge - about three times the size of Central Park in NYC. It offers several miles of trails for walkers, runners, equestrians, and cyclists. It has four lakes, a zoo (currently closed), a botanical garden, and a chateau.

Patrice is the proud owner of a new second-hand bicycle - a surprise to friends and family who know him better as a motorized guy. He got his first motorized cycle - a Solex - at the age of 11.

So the fact that he is pedaling and then carrying both our bikes up and down the steep stairs to the cellar means he must really love me, right?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vacation photos

We've finally sorted through the 1500 photos that we took during our recent vacation in the western U.S. Here is a link that will take you to the Picasa album that Patrice put together - selecting just 244 photos to illustrate the highlights of the trip. Patrice has also added captions (in French, of course) that reveal the most interesting or unique aspects of the trip from his point of view.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Château de Guédelon

Patrice and I took advantage of the gorgeous weekend weather to take an excursion to visit the Chateau de Guédelon about 200 km south of Paris. But this isn't just another castle -- it's a 13th century castle currently under construction -- being built from the ground up using medieval building techniques.

Work began on the project in 1997 and will take some 25 years to complete. In the meantime, the public is invited to visit the construction site. All of the building materials are found nearby and the castle is being built using only hand tools which are also produced and maintained onsite.

Here is what the site looked like in 2005:

And here's what it looked like when we visited on Saturday:

The chateau will require about 60,000 tons of stones which must be split

And shaped

And lifted into place

Without using any modern machines.

Can you see the two guys in the "squirrel cages" who turn the wheels that lift the load?

The blacksmith keeps the tools in shape

Using a foot pedal to turn the sharpening wheel

And the rope maker creates all sizes of ropes from the hemp and linen that grow nearby

Guédelon is surrounded by an oak forest. The woodcutters use hand saws to fell the trees, then transfer the task to the carpenters who fashion everything from the timbers supporting the roof, down to the wooden tool boxes, interior doors, and cart wheels.

When finished, the château will look like this:

Here is the website so that you can plan your own visit.