A little nod to «Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulin» — in the Butte Bergeyre Community Garden, 75019 Paris
So, the last we all gathered here together was the post before my guest post for Misadventures with Andi in which I chronicled the story of how I got to Paris. It was May 19 and it was my 42nd birthday. About three weeks has passed since then and I have been itching to write about some of the things I have been doing. I decided the best way to go about this would be to create some photo collages and write about how it is that friendship in Paris is one of the things I love the best about Paris. Each person who has reached out in friendship to me has helped me fall a little more in love with the city. Helping myself “bloom where I am planted,” to use the very accurate if worn out expression, is exactly the purpose of this blog, and my friends have been helping me to do that. I want to share with you what has been going on to those ends here in P-Town the past three weeks.
What I have been doing besides writing
I have been reading blogs by my blog friends online. No big shocker there, but part of the reason I am lax in posting is I have been having trouble finding my writing mojo. It comes and goes, and mostly seems to go, especially as the weather is nicer and I am out and about more. Reading and pouring out words in comments has also been more comfortable than writing my own posts. I can organize my thoughts in a careful and caring blog comment in response to your writing. Working things out into a post of my own has been hard for me, though. I also really enjoy reading others’ blogs, maybe more than I enjoy writing for one. So there’s that. Plus, while I blog loooooong, you all blog A LOT. Oh my lord, keeping up with some of you, especially those of you who post in the neighborhood of three or more times a week — oy! I kind of know how you guys feel reading my loooooong blogs when I have to catch up on the posts you have written since the last time I visited! But you, my blog friends, especially the ones who write about Paris and/or France, help me to love Paris more, and reading is a labor of love. So, not so much a labor as a joy, is what I mean.
You may have noticed, too, that I changed themes once again on WordPress. The Theme Foundry came up with a free theme for WordPress called “Paperpunch” and I was really attracted to it. After setting up my new page using this theme, I decided that I did not want a huge blogroll on the sidebar, so I have created a new page called “Links“ where I list the blogs I like to read, by category. The links page is a shout-out to those people on the internet who keep me going, especially when I am not feeling well and staying in and reading and commenting on blogs is the most I seem to be able to manage.
So there you go. I have been reading. Doing dishes. Washing clothes. The usual. BUT, I am also pleased to say that with summer getting closer and the weather being (mostly) nice of late, I have been out DOING things with people! Yay me!
First there was David…
In my birthday blog, I mentioned that I needed to run off as I was meeting my friend and yoga buddy Karen to go to the book signing for David Lebovitz’s newest cookbook Ready for Dessert. I wrote that I hoped to meet bloggers Res I(p)sa and paris (im)perfect there at WH Smith, which happened.
More photos in this set on Flickr: David Lebovitz Book Signing
Hopefully you recognize Paris Blog High School Prom King, David in the photos up there. I’m wearing the madras scarf, Sion of paris (im)perfect is wearing the purple sweater, and Karen is the pretty young thing with the la Joconde smile in the photo above Sion holding a Kir Violette. Many thanks to Karen for snapping the pics of me with David and Sion. Isn’t everyone lovely? I realized posting this that I did not get a photo of Isa who writes Res I(p)sa, but I did learn that her blog name is a part of the expression in Latin, “Res Ipsa Loquitur” and means “the thing itself speaks.” Is that a cool name for a blog or what? Karen does not have a blog, but I hope that one of these days that might change. I love the things that Karen has to say when she speaks, and I think that her writing would be the same. In the meantime, you can find David here: David Lebovitz, and Sion and Isa at paris (im)perfect and Res I(p)sa, respectively.
As always, David was witty and kind as he spoke, with a hint of snark, but not so much so that you feel as if you have eaten something bitter. No, David is like a glass of homemade lemonade on a hot summer day: a little sweet, a little tart, and very refreshing. He stayed until every book was signed, and signed copies of his other books, too, which was a good thing as I did not have the cash to roll out for a copy of a dessert book where 99% of the recipes are not edible by me at the moment — too many grains, and too much gluten, sugar, and dairy in his recipes. I’m basically on something called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet right now, as I have been experiencing a lot of inflammation from eating even things like rice, potatoes, cane sugar, legumes (like chickpeas) and other grain-like foods such as buckwheat.
Example of Inflammation:
It used to be just gluten that would cause my belly to swell to a 4-6 months pregnant look, but lately rice, alternative flours like chestnut and buckwheat, sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes, and cane sugar have started to make my belly swell, too. I have not been able to fit in a lot of clothes, although my weight has not been increasing very much. I have just been getting bigger. This usually means I am retaining water. I did more research and realized that I have to go back to a reduced carbohydrate diet as Candida albicans is the likely culprit behind some of the swelling. That, and a histamine reaction to some of these foods, no doubt.
So, no book called Ready for Dessert for me. It’s been more like recipes from the wonderful Elana’s Pantry if I want something besides salad, other veggies, and tuna, chicken, or fish. Elana uses almond and coconut flours and agave nectar in her recipes. Grain and cane sugar-free. I have to watch the almond flour, though. I’ve been experiencing asthma-like allergy attacks, and I was not having these before I started eating nuts again. *sigh* They may be to blame as nuts are a classic allergy-inducing food.
Enough of that for now… I want to thank Karen and Sion and David for making my 42nd birthday a very special time for me. We three girls (David was otherwise engaged, I guess 😉 ) wandered our way to the Carpe Diem Café near Châtelet, thought the name of the place was very appropriate, and the girls treated me to a drink there. I chose the Kir Violette, too, and while I have read that some don’t like it, I thought it was very fun and tasty. A Kir, for those not in the know, is a white wine with liqueur added to it, in this case crème de violette, violet liqueur. More on Kirs at this post at Bent @ the Elbow: The Kir, The Kir Royale, The French 75, & The Bijou.
May 22 and my friend Tess
Tess is one of my dear friends here, as many of you have read before. Originally from Arizona, Tess came to France about eight years ago and wound up getting a job and moving here. She moved first from Paris to the south of France about seven years or so ago, but moved back up to Paris in late 2008. I ran into her by complete chance (or was it?) on an online discussion group , and after a few email exchanges, we decided to meet, which we did in February 2009. She is my first friend in Paris with whom I made friends on my own (i.e., it was not someone Paul already knew or worked with). Since 2009, we have been having adventures in and around Paris, and I have to thank her for getting me out of my apartment on several occasions. Tess is a dear, and I am so very thankful for her friendship.
More photos in this set on Flickr: Parc André Citroën
On the beautiful 22 of May, Tess and I met up at Métro Eglise d’Auteuil on Line 10. We went to the authentic Japanese restaurant called Sushi Marché:
She bought us take-out lunch there and we headed over to the Parc André Citroën across the Seine on Pont Mirabeau to the Left Bank of the 16th arrondissement. The lunch was delicious (very authentic Japanese maki rolls, inari, soup, and nigiri. If you are not sure what that all is, check out this Wiki article on Sushi). The sky was blue with the sun shining gloriously all day long. This made for a fantastic afternoon in Parc André Citroën, which is a well-designed, modern botanical-style park and which has an area with water fountains where kids can play.
You’ll note in the photo collage that there was a woman of a mature age getting her sun on with her top off, too. Go granny! Gotta love France.
Thank you, once again, Tess, for making my life here in Paris a special one.
Paul and Nature Capitale
On Sunday and Monday, May 23-24, the Champs-Elysées was closed to all but pedestrians, plants, and animals. In essence, as the saying has been passed along the internet in articles and posts I’ve read, the Champs-Elysées (Elysian Fields) became a field, kind-of for riz raz. Along with two million other people, Paul and I left the apartment on the Monday Pentecost (Pentecôte) holiday and went to check out the Nature Capitale, something that is old news at this point, but I wanted to show off the photos I took of the event, too.
More photos in this set on Flickr: Nature Capitale
(There is a great photo and explanation here on Flickr, too: Nature Capitale). The plants, people, and animals withered in the hot sun, and things were way too crowded for my taste, but it was interesting herding along and conceiving of all the effort it took to close a several hundred meter stretch of the avenue — one of the busiest and most famous avenues in the world — so that it could become an event to promote biodiversity, agriculture, and forestry. I was impressed with the amount of work put into the event.
Thanks to my lover, partner, and friend Paul for getting out of the apartment together to check this event out. I was glad to say I was a part of one of the historic closures of the avenue, and it was an interesting way to spend a sunny day in Paris.
Wednesday, May 26
… was kind of an ordinary day, except for that I actually left the apartment before 9 am to go with Paul, his son, and his ex-wife to the American Embassy just off the Place de Concorde so that Paul’s son could get his passport renewed. Such a thing requires both parents to be physically present. Paul wanted to go straight to work after the appointment, if possible, but did not want to have to bring his work backpack into the Embassy (what with all the security checks and so on). I told him that I would go along with everyone and sit in the park across from the Embassy, mind his backpack, and read Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser while I waited.
First of all, I saw this:
Mounted Gendarmes making a circuit around the park (which is really Allée Marcel Proust off of Avenue Gabriel. If you look at the Google Maps street view here, I was sitting on one of those benches to the right of the path) . That was cool to see. The horses were gorgeously groomed and very fit-looking geldings.
Then something happened to me, by chance. In the Antonia Fraser book, I got to the part about the beheading of Marie Antoinette just as I was sitting across from the place where it happened. I took photos to document it (the page of the book I was reading and the Place de Concorde peeking through the trees across from me):
Once Paul and his son and ex-wife returned from a successful passport renewal experience, we headed over to the 17th arrondissement where Paul works. Expresso (the ex-wife) had to go back home, but Boy Child and Paul and I stopped for a coffee in a café. It was 11:10 am. Yeah, that young woman is having a glass of rosé at 11:10 am. Paul was saying that he overheard her speaking to the woman who eventually joined her that her computer had been stolen and she was having a really bad day. So she whined over her wine. Gotta love France, redux.
Something else strange happened in our neighborhood that same week, the last week of May. On Tuesday, what I determined later was a catering company of some kind set up a tent in the plaza in front of our apartment. On Wednesday, it appeared that they served lunch to people:
Then they took the tent partway down:
And they set it back up on Thursday and apparently did the same thing before disassembling the whole works and putting it all back into the trailer from which they had unpacked it later that afternoon.
Really, this is of no interest whatsoever! I just was fascinated with the whole thing from the traveling kitchen in the truck to wondering what everyone was doing. I’m still wondering, and it was a little frustrating to not be able to just go up to the dudes in the truck and ask, “Whattup? Whatchya doin’?” and find out. It was making me a little crazy watching this all go on and not knowing. I’m going to turn into a nosy old lady, aren’t I. One of the crazy Neighborhood Watch people.
It has been a theme on this blog to photograph what’s outside my window, though, so this was pretty good stuff for that. If you want to see all the photos, they are here. What do you think could have been going on?
Peter and Butte Bergeyre
Peter of Peter’s Paris and I met up on Thursday, May 27 to check out something that Sion had posted about, the Butte Bergeyre (Sion’s post is here at paris (im)perfect.)
Peter also just posted about the area on his blog: Butte Bergeyre.
Rather than bog you down with a repetition of the information they have already written about so well, I will just show you the photos I took via a couple of photo collages. The entire set of photos is here on Flickr.
Peter is in the center photo.
Flowers in the community garden on the Butte.
The view and the vineyard — also the entrance to the community garden in the center photo and behind the fence. The Sacré Coeur is in the distance.
Some of the homes in the area, which date from about 1925-1930.
If you are interested in walking to this area and want a partner, let me know. Here is the general area on Google Maps, too: link to Butte Bergeyre.
Peter has gone with me on three walks in Paris now. I have enjoyed his company very much, for he is an intelligent, inquisitive, and knowledgeable person. His blog posts are crafted exquisitely, from the wonderful photos he takes to the bounty of information he passes along to his readers. After 36 years of living in the city, Peter is even more in love with Paris, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Thank you, Peter, for helping me to love Paris more.
Karen and the Bois de Vincennes
On the last day of May, Monday the 31st, my yoga buddy and friend via this blog, Karen and I went to check out the Bois de Vincennes. Near the 12th arrondissement, Karen and I walked from the Port Dorée entrance near Métro Line 12. We walked all around the Lac Daumesnil and the two little islands in the middle, the Île de Reuilly and Île de Bercy, and we got chased by a mean goose:
He really ran after us and waggled his tongue at us, too. He made us scream and run, too!
Mean old goose.
We had a gorgeous and very serendipitous journey. Not only did we see a huge chunk of the park, but we also went to the Parc Floral de Paris, which is nearby the Bois de Vincennes and happened to be free on the day we went (there are several free days during the week, until the annual summer jazz festival begins there, it seems). We saw an art exhibit, talked to a photographer (in French!) about his photos, saw some poodles in a window (dog show? We weren’t sure), and walked through lots of beautiful greenhouses full of various kinds of plants. We saw a small butterfly pavilion, too!
It was such a magical afternoon of discoveries. They day happened to us in such a wonderful way. Karen called it a “miracle walk,” which she said is a reference from the artist S.A.R.K. (This post from writer Megan Hills on My Burnout Thing.com explains more about who S.A.R.K. is and what a miracle walk is, too.)
I am really very excited about a lot of the photos I took of this area, and of the Château de Vincennes, too, which we walked past. If there were one set of photos that you should check out, it would be the ones from the Bois de Vincennes.
Karen is such a joy to be around and I find her presence to be relaxing and calming. She has a good soul, and I am so glad that we have been able to spend time together. She definitely has helped me love Paris more.
I have decided at this point that I am going to create a second, Part Two to this piece and post it early next week. I will continue to write about how friendship and adventures has helped me love Paris more.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend! See you back here next week for the conclusion to The End of May.
Over and out.
(an alien parisienne)