Hodge Podge, Redux


A thunderstorm approaches on Rue de Couronnes, 11th arr. Paris, Monday 29 March, 2010, in the evening, on the way to yoga class

I’m trying to get better about posting once a week. I realized this morning [ahem — this was started last Thursday — today is Tuesday] that means today I am due another post! And how can it already be APRIL? Wow. Now that each day represents proportionally less and less of my overall years, it seems like they fly past at warp speed. I envision my life as the Starship Enterprise with time being the escaping Klingon warship and my brain and body are Scotty, telling an impatient Captain Kirk, “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!” but getting to warp speed is a trial and only just happens at the critical moment.

Yeah, that’s how I feel about this blog, too. It’s a bit MacGyvered in some posts, huh. Sometimes I envision posts are stuck together with chewing gum and duct tape, and pieced together like a crazy quilt (I think I even entitled a blog post that way, huh), then launched out for god/dess knows who to read (well, except those of you I know who do because you leave lovely comments to say so). This will probably be another one of those… Get a cup of coffee or something for yet another one of my cobbled together and lengthy posts. 😉

What’s the Difference?

First off, anyone who has been reading this blog for a while know I like to take photos out of our dining area window. Also, those same people will know I have taken photos of this view for a few months now, too. Recently, though, the view changed. Can anyone spot the difference?

Notice anything different? 01

There are more views here and here. Winner gets… uhhh, lots of love from me and acknowledgement on this blog. 🙂

[Note: the difference cannot be seen in those three pics. The difference can be found from past posts until this current one. There has been evolution in the square. EVolution, not revolution, lol. Another clue can be found in comments!]


I appreciate the positive responses to the previous Paris off-the-beaten-path post, An Adventure Along the Rue de Mouzaïa. It’s always difficult to follow up posts like that where I spend a lot of time and effort constructing them and weaving together what I hope are informative details about places in and around Paris.  I like those posts — I always learn so much in the process of writing them, too. They are the most “official” kinds of writing pieces over which the Academic in me about wets herself because she is so excited about deconstructing the whole experience and tying together the facts. Geek Girl at her most promising! Woot!

Then there is the mish-mash of all the things in my brain I hope and want to turn into posts like the Rue de Mouzaïa one, but for which time does not allow. It took me *three* months to finally get around to posting that one, after all, haha (ruefully)! I can’t procrastinate that much, though,  and have to just learn to write things faster. And more concisely, but let’s work on one thing at a time, eh? Did I learn nothing from the NaNoWriMo Experience? *sigh*

Anyway. Onward. Let’s see what we can do here.

In the past month, I gathered up a lot of photos and had some fun experiences. We’ll call this part of the post:

Things About Which I Would Have Liked to Write Full-Blown Individual Posts, But Did Not, Yet

(and ones which, therefore, would likely have been of reasonable length!)

Tour Eiffel


My friend, Tess, who has appeared in various posts here on AAP, most recently the one about meeting Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch In Paris, has been living (up until a couple of weeks ago when she moved closer to the Trocadéro) in the southern part of the chi-chi 16th arrondissement. The above is the view (looking to the north) from the (one) window of what used to be her studio apartment of approximately 15′ x 15′ (roughly 5 m x 5 m). I have wanted to write more about the visits I have with Tess and about how wonderful it is to have her friendship and the friendship of others in this city. [I also saw her and her new digs this past Saturday and hope to post about that soon. Heh! Guess we’ll see if that happens, eh? 😉 ]

Amber, one of my online friends at the blog Traveling Amber wrote a really fine blog post about friendship as an expat here in France: Know Your Role. She writes very insightfully about the kinds and nature of friendships she has had since living in France. I appreciated this post because it really made me think about the nature of my own friendships and how they have changed and evolved over the years. At the end of her post, Amber asks her readers:

What role do you fill in your circle of friends? What role do your expat and your home friends play for you? How much of a friendship should be give and how much should be take?

I have a budding e-pal (as differentiated from “pen-pal”) relationship with Bj of  The Armchair Parisian. We were exchanging thoughts on friendship in our 40s and how much less B.S. we are willing to put up with than in our 20s and 30s when it comes to friendship. Friendship to me, at this stage in the game, is much more about who we ARE with one another than what we can do for one another in a give/take relationship. I appreciate that friendship, indeed, like any relationship, is about exchange and involves some form of give and take, but at the same time, I just can’t take it anymore when people turn friendship into a set of rules and keeping score. While I don’t want to take advantage of people (nor be taken advantage of), at the same time, I don’t want to be in a situation where there is a constant weighing of who did what for whom and how often. I want there to be acceptance and natural flow and ease to the relationship.

I was thinking about the friendships from home that have stuck with me since moving to France. Because I abruptly left “home” for another life here, it really sorted out the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in terms of who chose to stick with me and who did not. Since coming here, I have been really fortunate to bump into people who seem to appreciate more of who I am than what I can do for them. I’ve found, in any case, whether here in Paris or there in the U.S., the true-blue friendships happen and continue because we really enjoy spending time with one another, and who does what for whom and how often matters less and less. What matters is that when we see one another, we enjoy being together, and when there are times that we cannot be together, it really does not matter for we can just pick back up where we left off.

As for the role-in-friendships part, that one requires a bit more thought. I think I would have to ask others what role they think I play. It probably depends on which friend I am talking to. Overall, though, I think I am pretty good at giving moral support (laughing to myself here as healthy doses of immoral support have also been shared in the past, haha). My meager means do not really make it possible to extend more than that, but if you need a listening ear and an empathetic and gracious point-of-view, I’m your girl. I’m not very good at tough love, though. Because I understand and know just how difficult life is, I tend to cut people a lot of (sometimes too much) slack. So if you want one of those honest friends who won’t mince words, I’m probably not your girl. I’m good for trying to be a cheerleader, though, and always like to look to the positive side of a situation.

What about you?


rue de Meaux, 19th arr Paris

A view of a greengrocer on my most favorite street in my neighborhood, the Rue de Meaux (19th arr.).

A similar dynamic plays out with my online friendships, too.

I view the blog world like kind of a high rise apartment building, a college dorm, or maybe, better yet, a big neighborhood. We each have our front porches and doors (our front pages) which invite people in to see a bit of our lives, our lives being like the inside of our homes. Some people only invite people into their kitchens (the food blogs), their formal sitting rooms (the specific blogs, like photo ones, where we get an artistic, but limited and maybe somewhat impersonal view). Other bloggers invite us into virtually (heh) every room in the house, except for maybe the bathroom (although, ahem, some of us even do that). Anyways, because I am now living in the neighborhood of Paris Blogs, I am getting to know a few of my neighbors, sometimes literally.

I run into new neighbors all the time. Many of them invite me in and we spend a lot of time together, having fun with a lot of comment exchange. Others, I come in and visit, sometimes not saying anything at all, but appreciating the information or creations therein. I like, though, that there is a natural flow to what happens, and as Catherine of The Five of Us wrote in a comment:

…please, do not apologize for not visiting my blog, Karin. What is a blog except a recreation, and commenting is not an obligation (according me! I know, I know….some see it differently). My life doesn’t depend on how many numbers of comments a day I get!

I replied to her:

I appreciate your gesture of not needing to apologize for not visiting your blog more. It’s true, blogging is just a recreation when it comes right down to it. I do tend to feel a bit like it is a neighborhood, though, and I feel a little rude if I do not at least offer up a “bonjour” now and again! I don’t live and breathe by the comments either, but I do appreciate them very much for what they are: people taking time out of their busy day to read and respond to things. So I will also say “merci beaucoup” to your doing the same for me.

I like to be a good neighbor and I really do enjoy meeting others in the neighborhood.

One thing I have been extraordinarily bad about is updating my blogroll. I hope I can reorganize it this coming week [Note to self: It *is* next week, chick. Hop on it.] and add several blogs to the list of those I have been reading.

You’ve already got a couple up there, but here are a couple more where I have been having some fun hanging out of late (in no particular order except where I had them open in tabs as I thought of them):

  • An American Mom in Paris – I’m enjoying MJs accounts of her life in Paris so very much. With a toddler and baby in tow, we learn about how MJ is (or is not)  learning French, negotiating sticky cross-cultural situations, and getting along with the oft-ornery place called “Paris,” where things like caramel beignets can and do make life a little sweeter. I am so glad to be in her neighborhood and be a part of her blog posse.
  • Je Ne Sais Quoi – Shannon is gloriously snarktastic, and I have been laughing so much at her posts! She’s loads of fun, as long as you enjoy irreverence and poking a bit of fun at the expat life. Shannon is the neighbor girl who is having an evening cocktail on her porch if you want to go over and hang out, gossip a little, and laugh.
  • A Twofer — Just Another American in Paris’ Anne has started a really, really helpful blog called Posted in Paris where posts focused on the practicalities of living in the City of Light shed light on things like when and how to go to the grocery store. I knowwww, sounds like something for retards (used in the colloquial sense — no offense to any actual developmentally disabled people, whom I love dearly for the view on the value of life they reveal to us). Thing is, stuff like this in a foreign land IS different, and one really does feel like a short bus kid sometimes. Just calling it like it is. So far, what has been posted I wish I had known about 22 months ago when I first arrived here. Check it out if you either live in Paris and are still at sea when it comes to the day-to-day, or if you just want to get some insight into what it is like living in the day-to-day of Paris. Anne’s blog (linked first up there) is also a good read with a lot of cultural information on Paris.

It is a goal of mine to update links I read both on my blogroll and on a page in this blog. We’ll see what I can do. For now, just go to A Taste of Garlic, which is a blog dedicated to reviews of expat blogs in France. [One reason this post has taken me so long is that I keep finding *MORE* to read, like this and this. I seriously wish I could find a paying job to do all of this blog reading! I rock at it!]


But first, this blog brought to you by Falco, 1982, Der Kommissar.

Right click the picture and open in a new tab to watch on YouTube

On this past Monday night [last week, not this week] while riding on the Métro to go to yoga, I heard two German girls chatting with one another in rapid-fire speech. Whenever I hear any German, I think of this song, or this one. The only German I know is the lines from the above song, “Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?” and whenever I hear German, this song sticks like an earworm in my brain. I was telling this story to my friend Karen once we got into our yoga class. Then, MJ in her blog post for the day on An American Mom In Paris mentioned she is traveling to the German speaking part of Switzerland and I was again reminded of this song. Blame the 1980s. Thing is, I don’t even know if Karen has heard of either song as she was born after they came out. Wheeee! Way to make a girlie feel old. 🙂 It’s not her fault. One day she will be in her 40s with rockin’ friends in their 20s, too, so it’s all good. She will tell their friends what it was like coming of age in the 1990s and 2000s, back when the young friends were born. It’s the way it goes. I know I am probably entering the “Crone” stage of the “Maiden, Mother, Crone” triad. Yeah, it’s weird sometimes, like Cronehood has snuck up on me and thrown a cloak over my shoulders, just when I was kind of getting used to the shift from Maiden to Mother. Cronehood? Already?! You gotta be kidding!  I’ll take all the wisdom that is implied, even if it comes at some other costs, like having flabby body parts and wrinkles. But still. So soon?!

Anyways, I wanted to post that song as I a) can’t get it out of my head, and b) I wanted Karen to understand better exactly what it was I was talking about.

Speaking of Karen, she did something wonderful for Paul and me last weekend. She invited us over to her lovely home in Villejuif (yeah, it means “Jew Town” in French) for some allergen-free eating and conversation. It was such a wonderful time, I wanted to give her a shout-out here and show you all a little about what we ate.


Villejuif is a town just outside of the southern edge of Paris proper, which is ringed by the Périphérique motorway. I note on the Wikipedia site that the original Latin of the town was “Villa Judea” which may not have meant that it was an area of Jews, but instead could mean the

“estate of Juvius or Juveus”, a Gallo-Roman landowner.

The population is somewhere around 52,000 in just over 5 km sq, or two square miles. It’s not huge in terms of area, but contains a significant number of people for that area.

We got off at the stop Villejuif/Léo Lagrange, which is nearing the end of M° Line 7.

Here are some shots of the Métro station:


Not sure whattup with the croc and turtle on the walls — and those numbers measure minutes and seconds up there, not inches. I think it may have to do with how fast they can swim a hundred meters, based on some of the other things on the walls in the station.


Léo Lagrange was an Under-Secretary of State for sports and recreation/leisure during something called the Popular Front, a left-wing movement in France from 1936 to 1938. Why he is important to France and worthy of a Métro station being named after him I am guessing is this:

He participated in the organisation of the People’s Olympiad in Barcelona, organized to counter the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin which were used as a propaganda instrument of Nazism.

That and as it says in the plaque, he founded popular tourism. Hmmmm, not sure about how they figure that one, but it’s on the plaque, so there you go. I also discovered he was connected with André Malraux, a French author, adventurer, and statesman. He was killed at the beginning of WWII at Evergnicourt in northern France.

Here’s the apartment complex courtyard. I have noticed that housing in the suburbs is a lot newer and spacious, a little more like suburban apartment complexes in the States.

After entering the courtyards of Karen’s apartment complex, I noticed signs of spring had arrived.


We were warmly welcomed by Karen and her husband, Julien.

This is the view out their living room window. They have the coolest coffee table, too! It’s a wooden cable holder thing. It’s like a bobbin for thread, only for large cable. Anyone know what that’s called? Also, they *found* it. As in “for free.” It rocks!


And  here’s their kitchen window. You know me: I love the views out of people’s windows. 😉


Here are Karen and Julien, hard at work to make true Breton galettes de blé noir, which are buckwheat (also farine de sarassin in French) crêpes (except when they are made of buckwheat, they are called “galettes.” I don’t know why either, as a galette is a cake and these are not a cake. There is more on this on this discussion forum. Wow. They are pretty hardcore about the whole making and eating of galettes thing…).

The “true Breton” part means that the galettes are made of 100% buckwheat flour, with only water and salt added. Most recipes call for a mixture of wheat and buckwheat flours. Buckwheat, by the way, is gluten-free flour that comes from a plant in the rhubarb family and can successfully be eaten by me. Ahh, here is more enlightenment about the galette from Wikipedia:

Galette is a general term used in French to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes. One notable type is the galette des Rois (King cake) eaten on the day of Epiphany.


Karen in true-blue friendship form wanted to be sure that she prepared foods that could be ingested by all of us together. She is aware of all the food intolerances I experience and she wanted to be sure that we were all well-fed. This kindness of hers I appreciated so very much. It was wonderful to go to her place and be able to relax and eat confidently.

Here Julien and Karen are trying to refine the ratio of buckwheat-to-water. This was the first time for them to leave eggs out of the batter. Since eggs can be problematic for me, Karen wanted to leave them out.


The first attempts were not stellar. (Those are the failed galettes on the plate. They tasted pretty good, but weren’t so pretty.)


But eventually, Julien got the blend right and the pan hot enough, et voilà:


Une Galette.  There are some sautéed mushrooms, leeks, and some sliced magret de canard (duck breast) I made and brought with us to share inside the galette. People who can eat it usually put in grated ham and cheese and sometimes an egg, fried.

Here are Karen and Karin, happy in the kitchen.


It’s traditional to drink hard cider with galettes. Yeah, it contains fructose, and fermentables like yeasts, and I don’t do great with those, but the combo was AMAZING and worth the gas. 😉 Julien was a little distressed that I could not put a little salted Breton butter (heh heh — “breton butter,” get it? That’s funny, and I didn’t even mean to be!) on the galette, but eh, that’s the way it goes. I do miss butter these days… Still, the cider made up for it.


The sun has set in Villejuif. After spending the better part of the afternoon and evening at K & J’s place, it was time for Paul and I to return to Paris. (That’s an elementary school courtyard and school building pictured.)


I wanted to make sure to give Karen and her husband Julien a huge thank you for inviting Paul and I to their home, for providing a wonderful allergen-free meal, and for the lovely conversation. It was a wonderful afternoon and evening. I feel so grateful for their hospitality!

Since visiting Karen and Julien, I’ve been experimenting with my own galettes au sarassin sans œuf ou lait (buckwheat galettes without egg or milk), and have been having some success. I’m not going to write up the recipe yet as it’s all been metric measurements that I have been using, and I want to get a little better at the whole enterprise before posting anything. I will say this much I have learned so far: the batter needs to be runny, it works best if it can sit for a minimum of two hours for the batter to ferment a little bit — overnight is great — and the pan needs to be super, super hot for it to work. I set mine to about 2/3 (temp mark 4 out of 6 on my stove — but I have gone as high as 5). A dab of dairy-free margarine in the hot crêpe pan helps keep the batter from sticking to the pan too much (and this is with a non-stick pan). Mine don’t totally have the lacy look of the real deal, but I am learning that fermentation of the batter and high heat are what create this lacy look. Mine are getting closer.


(a little late…)

I hope you all had a Happy Easter. On Saturday I spent a wonderful afternoon with Tess having lunch at her new apartment. On Sunday, we had a relaxing time with Paul and his two kids. We went to see “Alice in Wonderland” (this was for the second time for Paul and me, but I enjoyed it as much the second time as the first) and had Easter hamburgers and fries for lunch. Heh — remember, we’re ghetto.

On Easter Monday, which is a day off for most in France, Paul and I walked around the Jardin du Palais Royal and went on a walk through the shopping galaries and passages along Rue Vivienne. I’ve posted photos on Flickr here.

Here is a little taste of what we saw, though.


I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes I enjoyed from the movie.

The Mad Hatter, to Alice:

You used to be much more…”muchier.” You’ve lost your muchness.

Thankfully Alice gets her muchness back, a major theme to the story. Here’s to all of us keeping hold of our muchness, eh?

And then there’s this one:

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
[Alice checks Hatter’s temperature]
Alice Kingsley: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

There you go. Here’s to all the mad ones,

the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

(Thank you, Mr. Kerouac.)

Until next time, then, you all be well.

Over and out –

Karin, an alien parisienne

Categories: Cross-Cultural Living, Gluten-Free Recipes, Karin Brain Miscellany, Paris Blogging, Paris Friends, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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44 thoughts on “Hodge Podge, Redux

  1. Look at the 3 pics I can’t tell the difference – I suck at this game 😉

    I feel exactly the same as you about friendship, but I felt that way also in my 30’s and some of my 20’s which has always led me to having fewer friends. I just don’t want to deal with all the drama and work. I have one friend who I have been friends with for 20+ years and with her I can just be. I can just sit at a coffee shop and talk for hours or not talk at all. I can not see her for 6 months, or 4 years and it doesn’t matter, we are still friends.

    I love the apt complex analogy for the blogosphere, it is really great! It is definitely *interesting* to find the right neighbors, I don’t need to see every crack in the bathroom floor, but I appreciate a nice tour. I am an introvert and blogging has allowed me to be extroverted in a way I could never been in real life. But I have found that when I do meet bloggers that I have connected with in person, that it is just “easy” no work, we may be from different places (and different places politically, religiously, etc) but we still “get” each other – I love it!

    I love crepes, my husband makes them every once in awhile. It is only the two of us and he cooks for 20 so I gain 5 lbs in one sitting, so we have to space out our crepe making weekends…but we drink cidre all the time! Crepes or no crepes, that is good stuff!

    • Hi Andi!! Noooo, no dissing self that way on this blog! You do not suck at this game. The three photos are showing the same difference. I’ll give you a clue: you can find the difference in this post: Writers’ Altar, A Leafy Mess, and Dog Poo.

      I’m glad to know I am not alone in my feelings about friendship. 🙂 It’s true, I had friends like that in my 20s and 30s, but I think I also allowed quite a few high-maintenance friendships into the mix, too. Now my tolerance for any of those is slim, and anything superficial puts me off to no end. I’m with you: I want to focus on the ones that matter. I think we all need that one friend. I have mine, too.

      I like your points about how blogging brings out the extrovert in introverts. I find that writer people generally *are* introverts, but we can all come across as so open on the blog, eh? It is so true how easy some of the blog friendships can be when transferred to RL. I have found that, too.

      Ohhh, I think we should make an Ode to Cider! I just read your wonderful Haiku of a Busy Woman. I suggest the Ode to Cider next. I am sooo bad. Every time I think of cider I think of this. Just one of those awful jokes that sticks with you, ya know? LOL.

      You’re welcome for the blog suggestions!

      See you again soon! 🙂

  2. P.S. I forgot to say thanks for new blog suggestions, some of them I read – I have seen your comments there, but some I have not come across so excited to go check them out!

  3. Love that first picture! I’m totally a sucker for rainclouds.

    And am I the only one who noticed in that picture at the metro of the turtle and croc that Princess Leah is in the crowd of people behind them? No?

    And, unsurprisingly, Jenny and Aurora and I brought the kids to see Alice in Wonderland the day it came out. And ya, we dressed up for it. I love the muchness quote as well. Actually, there was a lot of stuff I loved in the movie. My favorite was also in the book… “Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” I’ve got a project in mind for using that one. Best get on that. But I’ve still got a lot of cleanup to do from Easter.

    Take care.

    • The rainclouds and storm reminded me of the ones in Denver in the summertime! 🙂 Come up out of nowhere, BOOM, and then before you know it, all gone. We also got hail on Easter! I forgot to write about it up there, but I uploaded the vid to Flicr (kinda by accident. I usually save those for YouTube). Let’s see if this works here: (nope the embed did not work. Here is the link.)

      And am I the only one who noticed in that picture at the metro of the turtle and croc that Princess Leah is in the crowd of people behind them? No?

      Ohhhh! I did not see that! Cool!! You are most observant, Jedi Master Wendy. 😉

      “Alice” was really good and now I want to re-read the book (actually, I have ever only just picked at the stories and not read it cover-to-cover. I want to now…). I am so glad you dressed up for the movie. You have much muchness, chica. 😉 Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. Aimee

    You know I loves me some you. The only thing you can give me is words, and it’s all I can return. Easy-peasy.

    • Oh so nice (horrid adjective, I know, but it is really NICE in the best of ways!), Aimee! I just said “Wheeee!” inside as that comment is so very special.

      Yeah, I did not even go into the loveliness that has been my online life with you and the others of my inner sanctum that is Multiply. 🙂 But it is there. Always.

      I love your words. Keep ’em coming. I want to read that novel of yours soon, chick. 🙂

      ❤ back atcha.

  5. notice several differences from clothes bin being gone to it actually being leaf-free (wasn’t there a bike rack or was that actually onthe sidewalk in front of your building)

    There is someone on my list who’s site I saw because we had a mutual friend and I had visited on the occations that he had posted something on which I had an opinion, but then, this is my style, I am quiet until I have something to say. He was impressed by my comments and added me to his list and shortly after that sent me a note complaining that I rarely commented. Instead of telling him that was my style, I simply told him I’d try harder and did look more carefully for things I could comment on (most of his posts are silly jokes, but there is the occational ironic news item that has a serious side to which I like to add my own view). I was simply struck by the implied demand for attention until it occured to me that I do the same thing. If I’ve not heard from a friend in a while, I check in to see if they are ok. Is that friendship and looking out for their welfare or the selfish “you haven’t been paying attention to me lately, why not?” These are the casual friendships and as those friendships deepen, so it seems does the expectations. The other side of that is along with those expectations comes trust and that is a gift (and sometimes a burden).You mention not being the “honest friend” (which is ok because a real friend would not put another outside of their comfort zone and tough love can often do that), but I’ve found that with those who I’ve built that level of trust, it is the fact that I will be honest that is valued, but with that (I hope) is the ability to be honest without being cruel. I’ve tried so hard to be things I wasn’t to please people who have since left my circle, what is the point? So I am me and if that attracts some, I am all the more complete because if that affirmation.

    In real life, I am that sort of friend who you don’t have to say “make yourself at home” because I always am where ever I am. I will raid your fridge and then wash your dishes and expect you to do the same when you visit me. I like to watch the reaction of strangers who I aproach with such openness because openness is not always part of their “comfort zone” (and those who pull away, I allow knowing this and I am usually not as offended as they). As I started social networking on the internets, I realised that there was an implied safety of annonimity, that safety zone of the unlikelyhood that one would ever really meet the person on the other side of the screen. I broke that barrier as soon as I was able. If you feel safe enough to share the most intimate details of your life, why should there not be the expectation of being able to sleep on your couch for a couple of days and see your life in person? Maybe this is why I make sure that my friends know how I really live, not to elisit sympathy, but that they wont be offended if I suggest a nice hostel or inn nearby if they visit.

    Oh Karin, you know I live in the 80’s sometimes. I bought a Falco CD only to find it was a collection of alternate takes on some of his best stuff. It makes for interesting listening to say the least. I may post the version of Der Kommissar from it on my blog sometime (and another song that was really interesting). I would be really amused if Villejuif played up the jewish stereotypes the way almost every Chinatown does chinese stereotypes with cheap “ethnic” trinkets, eateries and architecture. Leo Lagrange, a leftist sports minister? Typical student table, only they went to the trouble of staining it. The view from other peoples windows is sort of getting their outlook on life as we “see” from their “space” what their outlook is on the world (sort of).

    There are many from the beatnik era that I could picture as characters in wonderland and yes, Jack would make the perfect Hatter (maybe Ferlinghetti/ the march hare and Ginsberg/ the cheshire cat).

    • Yup Ken!

      Congratulations!! Much love and such from me for figuring out that the Le Relais clothes recycling bins are no more and there is a new planter in the space where they used to be!

      You bring up good points about the internet friendships that are based on whether or not one comments and how that is like the kind of person that I refer to up there as following those give and take rules really heavily. Yeah, I have had that happen, too. It’s hard when the internet friendships are new, and there is also not the subtext that comes with gestures and tone of voice and all those cues that come along with F2F interactions. It’s easy to get caught up in the comments as signs of love and affection. In general, I think I finally have a posse where that does not matter much!! I love what you had to say here:

      but with that (I hope) is the ability to be honest without being cruel. I’ve tried so hard to be things I wasn’t to please people who have since left my circle, what is the point? So I am me and if that attracts some, I am all the more complete because if that affirmation.

      I also like how you describe what kind of friend you are. I like you as a friend as you are careful to really read and comment on what’s going on, giving everything careful attention, and also that you are a very authentic and insightful person. You are very real about yourself and your life, and I appreciate that very much.

      Funny thing about Villejuif — I don’t know that it is one of Paris’ especially Jewish areas unlike the Marais in the 4th arr. and also here in our neck of the woods in the 19th. I will say this, Jewish culture in France is very different from Jewish culture in the States. The stereotypes in the States don’t really fit here. Maybe part of it is that more Jews in France are Sephardi in background instead of Ashkenazi or Mizrahi like in the States? Anyways, it’s not like some other places I have visited or lived where there is a lot of sense of a Jewish culture imbued in a neighborhood. Villejuif is in name, only, and ancient Latin at that.

      The table there really is a cable holder thing. It is only about 2 feet/half a meter off the ground, and yes it was sanded and stained. I did not get the most representational photo of it. It looks a lot like this.

      Jack Kerouac as the Hatter. Cool! That was not where I was going, but I am glad you did! I like it!

      Be well, Ken and thank you for all your thoughts and comments here.

  6. tempestspell

    awww… the donation bins are gone! There goes your entertainment!


    • Kate –

      I knowwwwwww!! No more free clothes that people would leave outside of the bins! I am sure that’s why they were taken out — to much for the city to clean. They removed them sometime last fall. But only in the past couple of weeks did we get the planter. The other day there was also a chair, like they have in some parks here, but it is gone now.


      Honorable mention to you for noticing!

  7. Reading the comments and using the link, I believe that the differences are quite obvious … and have been found!

    Once more, such a complete post! If you want to reach a weekly rythm, I wonder how you will manage. 🙂

    I have a feeling that thanks to friends and the interest you are giving to all you are undertaking, you start to learn to like Paris more and more! I trust that you will end up really loving it … like me!

    • Hello Peter! Yes, the differences have been found, indeed.

      I know. Finding a weekly rhythm for me is not very likely. I swing back and forth with hopefulness and vigor at wanting to try, to despair and wondering why I try to blog at all! (I have to, that’s why, lol. I’m addicted.)

      Yes, very much thanks to friends and to giving things a good try, I have a feeling Paris and I will be getting on better and better. Just like you! 🙂

      Be well, and see you soon.

  8. Shel

    I sometimes hate when Ken posts a comment, because it’s like there is a giant bag of ideas and observations and he grabs all the good ones before I even get there! 🙂

    On the other hand, I love reading your adventures, even if they make me… what’s the reverse of homesick? Not restless, not travel-hungry…


    Yes, that will do.

    I’m crazy proud of the life you’ve created, and so happy to live it through my screen with you.

    • Hello my Shell, my belle! 😉

      I know, Ken likes to grab all the good stuff, but then there is a lot of stuff to go around and it is okay IMHO to make the same observation twice because you do express yourselves differently. What I mean to say is that you are both UNIQUE and I love what you each have to say, even if about the same things.

      Return-starved. Yes, that is a good word for it. Seriously, chick, I was talking about you to Paul on Monday when we went walking around and saying that whenever I go somewhere new, I think, “I want Michelle to see this!” It’s in part as I feel like I did not do your trip justice when you were here! There is so much more cool stuff that I did not even know about, and I want you to return to that I can feed you some more in terms of discoveries and seeing your face when you see how cool it is. I’m glad you get to live it on the screen, though, and yes, I do feel like I am a bit of a wee miracle in terms of just how paralyzed I was when you were here. I am blooming, slowly but surely.

      Just think, whenever you see something here on my blog, especially the interesting stuff, that I almost always think, “I wish Michelle could see this.” 🙂

  9. Jaime

    Gosh I love your blogs… (I know I said that already… but it’s worth repeating!) I love how much of your personality comes thru and how much you put into it. Soooo very awesome.

    I love seeing how day to day life is and how the random adventures build up in your world. Awesome!

    • Hi Jaime —

      Thank you so much, dear. I am glad that you feel my personality coming through. According to those who know me, it is fairly accurately my “voice,” too, so it is really good to know it comes across. “Random adventures” — love it! That is kind of what they are! And I hope to keep them coming. Thanks for reading, Jaime.

  10. Carole

    What about neighbors who don’t blog? (Why do I feel like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window?) Do bloggers mind comments from non-bloggers? I know it isn’t really fair that I come into your “home” and don’t extend the same courtesy. On the other hand I try to behave myself as a proper guest should. 😉

    Have been reading La Mom for awhile. Thanks for mentioning Shannon’s blog because I got caught up reading her (as well as some others) a few nights ago and could not remember how/where I found it nor the name!

    Isn’t it Maiden, Mother, MILF? LOL. And yes, I despise that expression, but thought it would make you laugh.

    • Isn’t it Maiden, Mother, MILF? LOL. And yes, I despise that expression, but thought it would make you laugh.

      COMPLETELY! I guffawed when I saw that, lol. 😉

      Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, hahaha! Let’s see, in my mind neighbors who don’t blog are still neighbors! I like to think of the non-blogger reader-commenters as people whose houses may be under construction, still, or that they live in other neighborhoods but are driving through and are sure to visit me as they come by. In some ways these neighbors are very special (in a good way, lol) because I know for certain they are reading for the sake of reading and not because they want me to visit their blog, too (and that is totally the pot calling the kettle black as I KNOW that is one of the reasons I have commented on ummmm, some more famous people’s — okay — PERSON’S blog, whose initials are DL. I really do comment on his blog because I love what he writes, but it does not hurt that people who visit him have visited me, too. I would not have met Karen otherwise!! I think it is forgivable, lol.)

      I think you behave like a great guest, Carole. In a way, your comments here kind of *are* your place in the ‘hood — the comments you make leave your words, your mark, in the ‘hood. I knowwww, you are a tagger!! Hahaha! No, that’s not nice. I really think you are actually the reason that blogs exist — as the reader, the person who is there, you support the entire endeavor. I think of you as the Welcome Wagon lady. Anyone else remember those??

      You’re welcome for the links, and you bet about mentioning Shannon’s blog. Isn’t she funny?? La Mom is yet another blogger different from those two ladies up there, though… Just in case you were mixing her up with Anne or MJ. She is another really fun read. 🙂

      Be well, and thank you, as always Carol for your kind words and humor.

      • Carole

        I’ll take tagger! Let’s just pretend I am one of the talented ones. lol.

        OMG, I don’t know why I thought you wrote La Mom when you didn’t! I read so many blogs the other night I got a bit confused. It is so easy to get lost in blogland and the world of the internet. I will try to pay more attention in the future and concentrate on only one blog at a time! 🙂

      • Tagger it is, then!! 🙂 I agree, one of the talented ones.

        Tell me about the getting confused about blogs part, lol! It is so very easy to get lost/confused. I do that even in my own blog, haha. 😉

  11. debbie in toronto

    wow …now that’s a backlog of blog….just skimming thru it a work which is how I keep up with all my blogworld…I love your comments on friends…my sister fills the role for me in my world..it’s harder as you get older to keep up with all the friends you made in life..people move, change jobs…

    but I’ve found in the blogworld it’s like a big garden of new people that you can get to know as much or as little as you like…and I know what you mean about keeping up with your own blog…I started mine just because I felt like I needed one since all us commentors seem to have one…I haven’t yet found my true voice on mine..just alot of rambling so far but I admire you and Anne and MJ…such writing talent and such interesting lives….would be neat to all meet for coffee one day ….here’s hoping…in the mean time keep writing..I’m out here at my desk reading

    • Hi Debbie! I’m so glad you commented! Is this by chance Your Blog? I’m going to bookmark you if it is. 🙂

      Yeah, backlog of blog for sure, lol. *sigh* This is my challenge, I feel: how to combine the desires of what I feel the need to write about with how mush (hahaha! whoops, I mean MUCH) people can and will handle in a post. It really is my bête noire of blogging. I have some really good blog friends from years past that can’t and don’t get through the whole thing. But yes, skimming (especially with posts as long as mine) is often obligatory.

      Re: friendship — it is true, as I have aged I find it is harder to keep up, too, and I think those friendships that have maybe served their purpose for being have definitely passed. That’s not to say I don’t love being in touch with some former friends with whom I have lost touch. I think it is one of the things I like best about places like Facebook.

      I LOVE your metaphor of blogland as garden! What a great idea! Almost like a huge park/garden with different kinds of plants and flowers growing in different sections I’m envisioning the Jardin des Plantes a bit here). I’m glad you have started a blog, and I hope you find your stride on it soon. I still feel like I am finding mine on here — I have constant ideas about things I might like to try, but so far it seems to be like this hodge podge, lol. Not for everyone, maybe, but I am so glad that there are someones like you who like to be here. I like your being here as well. 🙂 Thanks!

      • debbie in toronto

        my “blog” is debbie in toronto


        I would love you in my comment posse…..I’ll be reading your latest adventures and try to have some of my own….

        yours in the garden….DEB

      • Debbie — thank you for the link! That’s the one I found. 🙂 Now that I know, I will visit there, too. 🙂

  12. ” I know it isn’t really fair that I come into your “home” and don’t extend the same courtesy. On the other hand I try to behave myself as a proper guest should ”

    I dunno about you, but I have both friends and family that don’t really have a “home base”, but circulate from couch to couch belonging to friends and reletives.

    • I dunno about you, but I have both friends and family that don’t really have a “home base”, but circulate from couch to couch belonging to friends and reletives.

      Aren’t those called “moochers”? LOL!! 😀 Homeless? Hahahaha — there we go: readers and commenters as the homeless in the neighborhood (sans abri in French but there is another name for them, too, something like SDF — yeah just checked and that’s it: Sans Domicile Fixe = Without a Permanent Residence).

      That’s not very nice either… I wish we could come up with a better metaphor than taggers and homeless people!!

      I honestly don’t think that commenters and readers need to have blogs. Karen (the Karen in this post) does not, and I adore her! Sure, it is kind of fun to go and read commenters’ blogs if they have them, but I don’t think it should be a requirement at all.

      Can anyone else think of a cool metaphor for readers and commenters in the neighborhood who don’t have blogs?

  13. Good grief, girl – did it take you all day to write that? LOL If I had to face writing a post that long, I’d run for the hills too :-))

    I loved your comparison of a virtual community of blogs being like a hi rise apartment building.

    And the storm photo. We have some amazing storms here in Florida.

    Agreed ~ friendships should be about who you are with the other rather than the give/take. You should be able to not see each other for who knows how long and pick up right where you left off like it was yesterday.

    • If I had to face writing a post that long, I’d run for the hills too

      LOL!! I think it took me about five days to write it, haha! I started it on a Thursday and posted on a Tuesday; however, I did not write anything on it from Saturday to Monday or so. Yeah, I guess it was a couple of days to write. Thing is, once I started it, I wanted to see it through, but then it kept growing and growing, like I’d added yeast to it and it just completely took off!! Crazy blog, lol. I’m already getting a backlog of ideas now, too. AACK. I’m glad you connected with the things in this post — thank you for your contribution to the ideas on friendship in the post and in comments, too! 🙂 I appreciate your coming by and reading! Take care, Bj and see you again soon.

  14. Karin: Thanks for the shout out for both blogs. No comment on those who comment and those who don’t!

    • Anne — it is my pleasure to have linked up your blogs. I really do appreciate the work you put into them.

      No comment on your comment about those who comment and those who don’t, lol!!

      Just kidding, HA! I can *always* comment, lol. I was thinking about how there are those behind-the-scenes people who do the appreciated, quiet things in the neighborhood, like shovel snow secretly for the older lady that lives in the neighborhood, or who do something else similarly kind. I think that the people who read quietly and don’t comment are the backbone of a blog. Luckily with WordPress Stats, I can get a representation of all those who are reading. There are a lot more who don’t comment and are reading than who do. I’m grateful that they spend the time to do it.

      Be well, Anne, and thanks again for your contributions to the bloghood! 🙂

  15. Karin,

    Your posts are always so rich and detailed it’s always hard for me to know how to respond. Just wanted to stop by and show you some love – and not just because I want you to come read my blog!

    I feel like we *are* neighbors, and I love hearing your thoughts on my posts.

    And in actuality, we *were* neighbors. That green grocer on Rue de Meaux was my mine for my first 2 years in Paris!

    As Peter said, I think all of these friendships (online and off) and getting out there and exploring Paris as you are doing will help you like the city more.

    I know I had a *very* ambivalent relationship with Paris for awhile (and got sick of hearing people talk about how friggin’ awesome Paris was – I mean, yeah, it is, but it can also be HARD living abroad).

    But becoming more involved in the life here, just getting out of my apartment to explore is doing wonders. And my love of Paris actually increased tenfold once I started blogging. Incredible (Why did I wait so long?) 🙂

    Bon weekend.

    • “Your posts are always so rich and detailed it’s always hard for me to know how to respond.”

      Thank you. I also know it is because they are LONG and it is hard to digest everything, I think. I’ve got this on the brain as I have had some online and RL conversations about this of late. I would love to be able to capture the richness and not sacrifice any of the detail, but make shorter, more accessible posts. It’s something I’m really thinking about focusing on. And just so you know, you are one of those bloggers I would read all the time even if you never commented. 🙂 I appreciate what you are doing so very much, too. **LOVEFEST** (giggle).

      And there you go. That was your green grocer, eh? I love that part of this neighborhood!!

      And my love of Paris actually increased tenfold once I started blogging. Incredible (Why did I wait so long?)

      This is so encouraging to read. I think it is true, blogging leads to yet another level of interaction in LIFE. I have found this true for myself, too.

      Here’s to learning to love Paris more. *tchin tchin*

      You have a good weekend, too, Sion. 🙂

  16. Nooo, don’t shorten posts, make them looonger! Some of us are craving more information to digest and regurgitate.

    Blogging makes life richer because suddenly we are looking for those little deatails that would make a blog quirky and interestingto read, so we notice more of the details that would normally slip under our radar, we realise just how interesting our daily lives really are.

    • Okay. I hear you! There is still a wee bit of controversy in my head over this, but I really like what you had to write here, Ken. That’s a cool perspective. 🙂 Thank you for chiming in on this issue.

  17. Friendships in my teens were about numbers not so much quality.
    Friendship in my 20’s were defined by what we did for one another.
    And in my 30’s its right where it needs to be. Someone I can be myself around. I love helping my friends out and luckily they do too. But we also have a lot of fun together.
    I love the way you defined the blog friendships that’s great.
    The buckwheat crepes with mushrooms looks great. They do have a wonderful view from their kitchen.
    And what is up with the turtle and gator, that’s hysterical…cannot wait to come to Paris, so many interesting things to see. Have a fab weekend 🙂

    • I like how you you describe your friendships through the decades, Corine. It does seem to be true for a lot of people that by the time we reach our 30s a kind of stability enters with not only friends, but life, too.

      I’m glad you found so many things to enjoy in the blog and I hope you are having an excellent weekend in Colorful Colorado as well. 🙂

  18. Yo Karin,

    You know I loves me a long blog post. Keep at it, woman. And the fact you gave me a shout-out makes me feel very warm and fuzzy. I’m now going to add you to my blogroll, something I should have done much sooner because you’ve been a great support to me — cheerleader indeed!

    I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around the bloghood.


    • Hi MJ!

      Wow! You had a Magic Post, now a Magic Comment, too!! (hee hee!) I hope all is well and that your travels have either been accomplished peacefully and happily or that you are now safely home.

      I am totally happy to cheer you on — your blog is fab. Thank you for the blogroll addition and definitely I will see you around the bloghood. 🙂

      Take care!

  19. I just found your blog and enjoyed this post and the one about Elizabeth Bard at WH Smith — I’m another fan of Sassiland and both of Anne’s Paris blogs.

    Look forward to exploring your blog further.

    Cheers from Sydney (and sometimes Paris).

    • Hi Carolyn! I am so glad you found your way here. Welcome, and thank you for reading. 🙂 I’ve popped over to yours for a quick peek, too and I’m looking forward to reading more (going to add in Reader now…).

      Hope Sydney is well and good and hope to see you again soon. 🙂

  20. Stephanie

    A friend recommended I read your blog, but there is nothing I hate more than a blogger who starts off with an apology about how long it’s been since the last post or a discursive rambling of how you have been to busy to post. I read and subscribe to several blogs and I can assure you that I am always happy to hear from them but if some extra time elapses, I do not notice. Most readers have active lives and we do not sit around counting the days until we receive an email update. Please save the apologies, rambles for your grandmother and just give us something to read!!

    • *WHISTAH* (whip cracking noise)

      YES, MA’AM. 😉 I hear you loud and clear. I shall henceforth dispense with the apologies and just dooo eeet! ‘Cause, you know, you’re right. 😀 Thank you for the encouragement to just keep going, Stephanie!

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