Why this blog?

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Luxembourg gardens

Strolling through the Jardin de Luxembourg on a warm autumn afternoon.
Luxembourg Palace houses the French Senate

Paris schools are on vacation for two weeks, so there were lots of kids enjoying the nice weather. Quite a different sight from the park on a snowy day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mary Brand

It is with heavy heart that I remark the passing of my sister-in-law,  Mary Brand, who died yesterday after suffering a fall at her home.

Mary was 16 and I was 18 when I married Charlie and became part of the Brand family in 1968. We spent many hours gathered around the Brand family dining room table for dinners followed by rousing card games. One of my fondest memories of Mary is of a trip that we took to Hawaii - just the two of us. The ocean, colorful flowers, and warm temperatures were just what we needed during the Colorado winter.

I spoke to Mary by telephone during her last stay in the hospital but was unable to travel to Colorado to see her. During her final days she was surrounded by her life-long friend Vicki, her two brothers, and her six nephews and nieces.

She was loved and she will be missed.

Mary, Charlie, Philippe, Rachel, and me

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Patrice's knee

Patrice had arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Oct 9th. Following that, the doctor ordered daily nursing services to give him shots, change bandages, and take out the stitches. The nurses make house calls here!
Nurse removing stitches
He's doing better now.

Théo catches air (Théo s'envole)

We celebrated the birthdays of two of Patrice's grandsons last week. Théo turned 16 on the October 12th, and Mathis turned 12 on October 18th. After lunch at their house on Sunday afternoon, we were treated to a demonstration of Théo's expertise on the scooter (trottinette). Check out the video that Patrice recorded.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another day, another demonstration

Impatient drivers honking horns, then the distinctive sound of police whistles. What's going on? The windows of our apartment face away from the street so we couldn't see the source of all the noise. I went out to buy our daily baguette from the boulangerie in the Place de la Nation which is a frequent site of demonstrations.

There were a dozen police vans lined up in the street with officers directing traffic diverted by the closure of the circular avenue surrounding the central monument.

"Who is it this time?" I asked in French.

"Les etudiants (the students)" a policeman responded.

The crowd roared and cheered in response to an unseen leader. Waves of students rushed from the sidelines towards the monument where scores of their comrades were perched.

Hundreds of police in full riot gear displayed patience, monitoring the sidelines.
This is how they usually appear.

A little while later, when things had calmed down, I went out again and noticed that the police were a little more relaxed. I approached a small group. "Excuse me please," I said in English, "I am an American from Colorado. May I please take a picture of you?" They seemed totally disarmed. A picture? of us? All eyes turned towards their captain. "Of course!" he responded with a big smile. He then took the camera and motioned me over to stand with the men.

And voila!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my Mom's 82nd birthday. She was married at 17, a mother at 18, a grandmother at 40, and a great-grandmother by the time she was 64. She has spent the last 64 years changing diapers, cooking thousands of meals, kissing away innumerable tears, and saying millions of prayers to keep her family safe.
Marilyn in high school
Brother Phil, me, sister Jan, brother Joe, Mom and Dad
Now, at 82, she has 15 great-grandchildren with another on the way. Her world revolves around her family, and the family revolves around her. She still babysits and cooks birthday dinners for everyone.

I've sometimes questioned her endless devotion to others. She had plenty of talent and intelligence - didn't she miss going to college? Didn't she miss having a life of her own where she was free to follow her own whims? But no. She says she would do it all over again. 
Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I used to work out regularly when I lived in Boulder, but had a hard time finding an affordable solution in Paris. I finally found a satisfactory fitness club just a couple of blocks from our apartment and signed up after our return from the U.S. this summer. The club offers a wide selection of classes, machines, and weights.  I go to several classes per week, my favorite being Pilates. It's doing me a world of good.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday outing

Cool temperatures and clear skies called us outdoors for a drive in the country.  Direction - east. Not too far and not too much traffic. We followed the Marne river with its miles of parks and bike paths until we arrived in Champs-sur-Marne. (We were in the car, though, Patrice's knee is healing well but he's not yet ready for miles and miles of biking.)

We arrived at the Chateau du Champs-sur-Marne which was only recently reopened after several years of restoration. Built in the early 1700s, the chateau's former residents include Madame de Pompadour. It was given to the French government in 1935 and was used by President deGaulle to house important guests in the 1960s.

More than 80 movies have been filmed here, including Liaisons Dangereuses and Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

La Tour Paris 13

"La Tour Paris 13" is the name given to a massive street art project in Paris' 13th arrondissement.
The building above was destined for destruction when it was spotted by Mehdi Ben Cheikh, director of the Galerie Itinerrance which specializes in street art. He approached the Mayor of the 13th arrondissement, as well as the owners of the building, to get approval to transform the building inside and out into a canvas for 100 artists from 16 countries. The artists spent the last seven months painting 36 apartments in the building. It was opened to the public on October 1st and will be available for viewing only until the end of October. The building will be destroyed after that.

I tried to visit the building last week, but the lines were long and I didn't feel like waiting for several hours for the privilege. However, you can read more and take a virtual visit here or here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Out West at the Chateau de Monte-Cristo

This weekend we went to visit Alexandre Dumas' Chateau de Monte-Cristo west of Paris. We were expecting to visit the Dumas' residence built in 1846

and the separate building named the Chateau d'If which he used as a writing studio.

We weren't expecting to see cowboys and indians!  

There was a children's book fair going on with entertainment for all

Texas line dancing!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quai Branly

The Musée du Quai Branly houses one of the most important collections of African art in the world.  Isabelle and I started here . .

The museum is huge and we had explored only the section on African art before taking a break. We had a snack and enjoyed the view from the cafe in the middle of the gardens.
I'll go back another day to see the Asian, Oceanic, and Americas collections.
If you don't live in Paris you can always take a virtual tour here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


 My friend Isabelle was recently in town visiting from Denver. We decided to visit the Musée du Quai Branly which houses collections of indigenous art and cultural artifacts from Africa, Asia, Oceana, and the Americas.

While waiting for Isabelle to arrive, I revisited the outdoor photo exhibit sponsored by the museum which features photographs of people from all over the world. I happened to pass by as the director of the exhibit was filming an introduction to the concept.
"Twins" by Rongguo GAO of China
"At a tent near you" by Amit Madeshiya

I was particularly touched by The Car Poolers, a series of photographs by Alejando Cartagena capturing tired Mexican workers returning home from their jobs in the city.