My Life as a Nancy Drew Mystery Novel

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La Fontaine Gaillon – Restaurant owned by Gérard Depardieu near the Opéra Garnier, July 2, 2010

Greetings, Readers. I hope you are all staying cool this summer. Or, if you are in the southern hemisphere, warm this winter. 🙂 Don’t want to forget my friends “down under” who are in the middle of the winter season.

Paris finally got HOT.

After a fairly cool and rainy 4th of July weekend, Paris has warmed up again to the pitch of about 35° C-ish through the rest of the week (and then some, as I am taking several days to write this post), which for those of you stuck in Fahrenheit mode is about 95°. Paris is a lot like the East Coast and Mid-West of the United States: muggy. Humid. There is no such thing as a “dry heat” in Paris. It’s sticky. They don’t use “heat indexes” here, so I have no idea how much warmer the humidity makes a city like Paris, but I do know this — Paris is not an air conditioned place. We don’t have it in our apartment, and it does not really exist in public or private buildings as a general rule. Grocery stores usually have it, I’m sure to keep the food from spoiling too fast. Movie theaters have it, most of the time. Sometimes it is not working as well as it could, and one sweats a little in the theaters.  I know that the Métro system *has* to have some kind of ventilation system, and occasionally one can feel a slight shift of air when transversing the tunnels, but mostly the Métro is a system of sweat and stink, and the subway cars are sweltering, oppressive buckets of stewing humanity that leave a person feeling like a limp, fusty washrag that’s been left in the corner of the tub too long.

Yeah, like that. (Thank you, Thesaurus.com.)

It is not pleasant.

As I sit in my attractive cloister, writing away like the femme écrivain that I am (heh *SNORT*), I have to say I am not too uncomfortable. I have a fan aimed at my back, I keep a supply of ice going in the freezer, and homemade iced tea quenches my thirst. I keep a gallon Ziploc bag in the freezer. It holds two trays of ice. I empty the trays into the bag each morning, use the ice through the day, then once the two trays have frozen again in by afternoon, I empty them out once more, use those two trays in the evening, and then re-do the whole process the next day. I use a lot of ice for when one makes iced tea from scratch, the tea has to be both diluted and cooled down and ice is perfect for this. While the post I linked in up there notes how someone can make iced tea in bulk, I sometimes just make it by the glass, steeping a concentrate (2 teabags per 10 ounces/300 ml) in a mug and then pouring it over a glassful of ice.

I like my ice. But even with these cooling measures, Paris life is still very warm.

For more about what I have been up to, keep reading. Have that glass of rosé on ice, or iced tea ready to go. You know me (although if this is your first time reading, you may not. My posts generally average a healthy 3,000 words. But there are lots of pretty pictures. Love it or leave it, is what I say! With a smile… :)).

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Opéra Garnier, 9èmè arrondissement, July 2, 2010

La Chasse aux Trésors

On a cloudy and wet Saturday morning, July 3, Paul, his daughter, and I ventured out of the apartment to participate in a Paris Treasure Hunt — La Chasse aux Trésors.

Paul has a short (!) and humorous account of our journey posted at his blog: Hidden Treasures — The Paris Treasure Hunt 2010, and Colleen of Colleen’s Paris posted “Before” and “After” blogs about the Treasure Hunt — the “After” post has a very helpful summary of what the game is actually like and how to play it.

My version?

It’s probably best shown rather than told.

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Snippets of text, drawn in vegetable-based ink were found by gardeners underneath the [sic] Paris’ eldest tree. These secret routes seem to lead to a true miracle of nature: the eternal roses!

(From the treasure hunt instructions)

The Paris Treasure Hunt is a story, a puzzle of words creating a scavenger-hunt-like tale solved by a discerning mind and observant eye.

The story we were given said that in 1910, during the great flood of Paris, several plants of the species selaginella lepidophylla, aka Roses of Jericho, were washed away by the rising waters of the Seine. Our task as gamers was to follow the clues of the secret texts to find the missing plants.

Your journey starts in front of the town hall of the 19th district of Paris. Your first appointment is with the journalist, Jean Macé. Pay special attention as he lends you an ear. Now, cross over behind him, and enter into the third largest park in Paris. Once inside, remember Mac’s ear, and head in that direction.

(From the treasure hunt instructions)

Pay special attention as he lends you an ear.

The directions continued as such, and we went from place to place in the 19th. Here is a rough guide of the places we walked:

The Treasure Map

1 ) From the Buttes Chaumont Park we went to

2 ) Avenue Mathurin Moreau,

3 ) and into the Butte Bergeyre neighborhood.

4 ) We exited at the Allé Louise Labé, turned on rue Rébeval, and continued down

5 ) rue Jules Romains to the rue de Belleville.

6 ) We went along the rue de Belleville and up rue Rampal,

7 ) until we came to rue du Général Lasalle, on which we continued to walk to rue Rébeval.

8 ) At rue Rébeval we walked until we came to rue Pradier, then along avenue Simon Bolivar

9 ) until we joined rue de Belleville once again.

10 ) From there it was to the Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Belleville (where Paul recounts a snafu in the game)

11 ) and down rue Fessart until we received our final clue

12 ) on the rue de la Villette.

We got a little turned around until my Plan de Paris and Paul helped us get oriented back towards the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and 13 ) our final rendezvous with the Rose of Jericho.

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At the double 3s you must look carefully for two little birds sitting on a branch… Avoid the sand dunes and continue on the end to this road… You will come across an eight with a flattened head. Or is it an upside-down fish? At the T-junction, you must look for a bit of an Irish atmosphere… Keep going until you pass the golden post box and meet up with the banker again.

(From the treasure hunt instructions)

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Here, keep a look out for the junk, a Chinese sailing vessel that will change the course of your voyage… It might be normal to see the French flag above your head… Go against the wind that is blowing this ship onwards. This should take you to a region in the Middle East… Look for the slow-moving purple creature who is heading towards a rose to take a bite out of its head… Stand in front of the church and look at the sculptures above the main entrance doors…  Continue as you pass the man dressed like a bee as you keep looking for this miracle of nature… Now, find a restaurant with a two-letter name.

(From the treasure hunt instructions)

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The answers to the clues were not the only fun things to notice. I was able to go on a photographic treasure hunt of my own, looking for things that were fun and unusual along the way. If you would like to see all of the photos, I’ve posted them, in chronological order of the walk, in a set on Flickr here: Chasse aux Trésors.

All-in-all, this activity was a treasure trove of fun. I really want to do this again next year.  Until that time, I have learned there is an entire book (in French) of these kinds of walks: Jeux de piste et énigmes à Paris — Les arrondissements. Might be a good way for me to learn some more French, eh?

Ethnic Diversity in the ‘Hood

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Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Saturday, July 3

One of the things I like about the arrondissement (district) in which I live is its ethnic diversity. Lots of West Africans populate this area, and they have the most beautiful, colorful, decorative clothing I have ever seen.  I’m not sure which ethnic origins this wedding party has, but they were gathered for photos in the park after our search for the Rose of Jericho.

French weddings are not the same as traditional weddings in the U.S. While not every wedding in the U.S. is a religious one, many of them are: Christian and Jewish weddings especially. In the States, pastors, rabbis, and other ordained persons are allowed to ratify the marriage certificates of marrying couples. Not so in France. In France, every couple getting married has to be wed by a government official in their local district’s town hall: the Mairie. Each district has one, and the town hall for the 19th is just across from the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Especially on summer Saturdays, couple after couple are wed at the town hall and then pass over into the park to take their wedding photos. This generally starts in May and goes through September, peak wedding season, just as it is in the U.S.

I loved seeing the clothing this wedding party was wearing.

Other examples of dress diversity abound, and the Karin Cam attempts to catch unique ethnic dress when she can.

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There’s a chica in the center of the photo wearing hot pink. If you take a look at the photo at its Flickr link, original size, then you can see a little better her groovilicious outfit.

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I tried zooming in on her dress with the camera, yielding a blurry but more unobstructed shot of this great skirt and top combo.

I love being able to see this stuff just outside my window.

The Homeless Hippie Couple

Speaking of the view out my window, do you remember the hippie couple from the previous post?

Well, there was more drama and mystery with the couple a few days ago.

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1. I noticed the couple on the plaza again, with their dog.

2. While I was taking photos of the couple, a young woman shook the homeless hippie chick awake.

3. Turns out the black puppy of the black and white puppy combo the homeless couple has with them got into the trash on the south-east corner of the plaza, and the young woman woke up the hippie chick to let her know what was happening.

4. Upset with the puppy, the homeless chick was, unfortunately, a little rough in disciplining him (5).

6. Strange thing was, she took the black puppy and walked him across the street, leaving homeless hippie dude alone with the white puppy.  I’m not sure why she walked the black puppy across the street — maybe to tie him up there? — but she walked there and then she returned without the black dog (7).

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8. Taking her place next to her homeless partner again, she was obviously yelling at him for something. Maybe for not keeping a closer eye on the dog? Bad thing about domestic arguments when you are homeless: there is no domestic depot in which to fight. It’s all out in the open, and can be noticed by old ladies who are passing by (9).

10 & 11. The older lady and the young, homeless hippie chick exchanged harsh words. I imagine it went something like this:

Old Lady: You need to get off the streets, and watch your pets more carefully, you trashy, homeless, hippie chick! And why are you creating such a ruckus with your boyfriend here? Get a home.

Hippie Chick: Shut up you f*cking bitch! You have no idea who I am and why I am here, so mind your own f*cking business, hag!

Or something like that. Based on the tone of voice and the odd word I could catch here and there from a distance and in another language, I don’t think I am that far off. Body language, pitch, rhythm, and tone of voice compensate a lot for not understanding the actual words that were said.

12-14. The couple lay on the plaza for a few moments longer, but then Homeless Hippie Dude decides to get up (15-16).

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17. He retrieved an empty, used plastic liter bottle from the trash. He took the bottle and walked in the same direction as the hippie chick had when she walked the black puppy across the street (18-20).

Where did he go? Did he take the plastic bottle to the puppy? Did he give it to the puppy as an impromptu chew toy? Did he fill the bottle with water to give to the puppy? It all remains a mystery.

When I checked back a little later, the couple had left.

There is a fountain near our house, though, and two days later, I saw the homeless hippie chick sleeping on the steps up to the fountain, with the white little puppy tucked up under her chin, also asleep. It was about 6 pm on what had been a very warm day.  She was wearing short denim shorts and a cropped top. She was visibly very dirty and very thin. Her blond hair was a little matted. She had a labret piercing — the one that is just under the lower lip — and, if I remember correctly, one in her nose, too. I passed by slowly enough to try to get a good look at her, but not slowly enough to be caught staring. She looked exhausted.

I still don’t know their situation. They don’t look like users, but then who knows. Maybe they are homeless because of horse. Maybe another DOC is involved. It makes me wonder at the top causes of homelessness in Paris, and why it is this couple chose our neighborhood as their non-house home.

More Neighborhood Mysteries

Right now, as I compose this post, I am using the title “Working Title” for the name of this post. Heh! As I am writing, though, I realize this is beginning to read like a Nancy Drew novel, what with the treasure hunt, and the mysterious couple in the plaza, and then this:

A Mystery Parade
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Look very closely. See the African colors there? I think this was an African heritage parade of some kind, but an hour of searching for information yielded no information. I know that it went on for over two hours, with lots of music — marching band style — and drumming. That’s Avenue Jean Jaurès, one of the main drags in our district, so to close it down is no small thing! If I had not been so pooped from the four hours of walking on the treasure hunt, I might have gone down to check it out. There was even a huge truck of people singing and making music. I mean like a semi-truck. The side of it was open and people were in it.

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The close-up version is here.

And what would this post be without more photo collages, eh?!?

Karin and Karen Have a Canal-Side Picnic

It had been a little while since by yoga buddy, Karen, and I had gotten together, so we met a little over a week ago to do something that hip and young Parisians do: have a canal-side picnic at the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement.

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We set up with a picnic cloth and some things to eat, and chatted while sipping some rose and lychee iced tea I had made and brought.

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I brought some dates, carrot sticks, and “quick pickles.” (These are also called “refrigerator pickles” by some.)

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Here’s the recipe for Quick Pickles, real quick:

This makes enough to almost fill a glass jar that used to have almond butter in it, and would be four very generous servings (or six smaller ones). The jar I use is about the same size as one that you might have from store-bought spaghetti sauce. More on the jar in a moment.

1 English-style cucumber (fewer seeds than a standard US one, and they are the kind that are like this one. Or the “Sandra” one on this site. You can use regular US style cukes — like the “Jazzer” or “Pontia” varities, also on this site — which I have done in the past)

1/2 tsp sea salt (about 1/2 to 3/4 of a coffee spoon, a cuillère à café). Adjust if using table salt (which has a different flavor than sea salt. Some say it is less “salty.” I use enough salt to lightly cover the cucumbers and to get the liquid to release from the cukes)

1/4 to 1/3 cup rice vinegar (about 80 ml)

1 TBS honey (one soup spoon-ish, cuillére à soupe)

1. Very thinly slice the cucumber. I use the mandoline slicer on my cheap cheese grater. My cheese grater looks just like this cheese grater slide. The thing in the middle is the mandoline slicer. It works perfectly for this. If you don’t have a mandoline slicer, consider peeling the cucumber as the skins will be very thick and not as nice to eat if you have to slice with a knife.

2. Salt the cucumber and let stand for 5 or so minutes to allow the salt to bring the juices out of the cukes.

3. Mix the honey and vinegar.

4. Put the salted cukes into a glass jar, or another container of your choosing, but one you can safely shake without the lid coming off.

5. Pour the honey and vinegar over the cucumber slices.

6. Close the jar and shake to distribute the honey and vinegar all over the cukes. The cucumber slices should be pretty much swimming in the vinegar mix and their own juices. If not, add one tablespoon/soup spoon at a time of vinegar until the cukes are almost covered with liquid.

7. These get better if they have a little time to soak in the ‘fridge, but I have also eaten them fairly straight away. One batch lasts about 3-4 days, refrigerated. I eat these instead of pickles in a jar these days. They are very refreshing in the summertime, and make a nice picnic dish.

Options: You can also use apple cider or white vinegar for these, but you may have to adjust for taste. Rice vinegar is very mild. You can also use table/cane sugar to taste, but since I am intolerant to cane sugar, I use honey, with which I seem to do better.

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Karen brought some delicious grapes, some buckwheat crackers, some wonderful smoked fish, and some 100% pure cacao chocolate, no sugar added.

Wheeeee! That chocolate was POTENT. I love dark chocolate, but had never eaten 100% pure cacao chocolate before, and I imagine that it is better used for baking, just like baker’s chocolate. It’s some strong stuff! I felt like I had my daily allotment of antioxidants and then some from the two squares I tried (and with which I had to eat with some dates to add a little sweet). I’m glad I tried it. The texture and purity of the chocolate was really incredible, and really STRONG. Not recommended for the faint of heart. For sure.

One more photo for you about our time on the Canal. We were sitting just across from this space invader, which I later saw posted on the Unurth Street Art site here: Space Invader. I think it is a pretty new one in the city. Here’s my picture of it:

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The Mystery School

After our picnic, we went walking to find Métro Jacques Bonsergent to get home. We’d walked from Métro Jaurès near my place, but we were too weary to walk all the way back, and Karen needed to hop on Line 7 to get home, too. On our way we saw some interesting stuff.

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First was the art on this school building. I liked the door of the nursery school (“école maternelle”) and the sculpture/relief on the site of the building was interesting, too. Karen noted all the soccer balls trapped on the overhang above the school’s entrance. Amusing, no?

A little research later, and I learned this is the back side of the Collège Louise Michel. I can’t find evidence that it is still the nursery school, or maternelle, but around the corner at 11 rue Jean Poulmarch the internetz shows that the building is a part of the collège. But, I also found something called the “Foyer du Collège Louise Michel,” which is an after school club providing activities for children, at the same address. (By the way “collège” in French means “middle school.”) It is possible that this is no longer an operating school, but a center for extracurricular activities for the kids in this area.

The Mystery Bakery

Then we came upon this boulangerie with wonderful stuff in its windows — lovely tins, recipe books with interesting titles, like “Cuisine et Pâtisserie au Gaz” which basically means “Cooking With Gas” (heh heh. I know they mean gas ovens and stovetops, but the Beavis and Butthead part of my brain thinks it’s funny).

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I saw this on the window, though, and it was a big clue:

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The Gault & Millau award is very prestigious. But I laughed when I saw the following in the Wikipedia article, for it is a very “French” idea to have, even for schoolchildren, for whom a score of 15 out of 20 on a test is considered a very good, solid score (above average. It’s a “C” in the States, a 70%, considered a kind-of-squeaking-by score by most from that part of the world. But in French schools? It is a solid grade — more like a “B” with how people think about it):

Under its original authors and for many years after they left, Gault Millau never awarded a score of 20 points. They claimed that perfection was impossible to achieve. (Wikipedia)

Anyway, when I looked up the winner for the best baker in Paris in 2008, I came up with the very well-known (amongst those who know these kinds of things) Du Pain et Des Idées — Of Bread and Ideas.

Lots of Paris bloggy folks, including Prom King of Paris Blog High School, David Lebovitz, have posted about this bakery:

Gives you an idea of what is going on at Du Pain et Des Idées. You’ll have to read it there as this gluten-free/dairy-free/grain-free/sugar-free chica sure ain’t partaking of any pain there any time soon. As painful as that is, it would be a literal world of pain for me if I did.

I liked the pretty windows, though.

In Closing

I’m headed for a record post. I see I have over 3,800 words already. I have taken about a week to write this post — granted, there were breaks this past weekend while the kiddos were here, and we had Wednesday the 14th off for the Fête Nationale, aka “Bastille Day” as it is known in the U.S.  I have trouble concentrating on writing when there are a lot of people around and unless I have relative silence and a large chunk of time, I can’t really focus on writing. What this all adds up to is that it has taken me forever to write about the things I did during the first couple of weeks of July, and I still have things about which to write. It’s like a constant backlog. I got really discouraged while composing this post, thinking things like “the things I am writing about feel so unimportant” or “oh my god/dess, this post is going to be too long and no one is going to want to read it.” My self-esteem plummets yet again when I think about how unlike other blogs this one is, and how I break so many rules with it (namely that rule that seems to be in place for most blogs which is that one should post pieces of about 500 words or less three times a week).

I feel like I FAIL at blog writing the way it is “supposed to be” and I get down about it. I get really frustrated with myself, and start to think “F*** It” and have thoughts about walking away from this altogether.

But here I am, finishing this post, mostly because I need to. It’s hanging over me, like some kind of piano out a window, ready to drop unless I get in there, pull the piano up, and get it moved into the apartment building. I still feel like my posts squish me sometimes, though.

But here. I did it, I wrote it. And I already have ideas for the next one, things I found out about, like why that damn tent was outside in our plaza a month or two ago. About how I finally made it to the Pont des Arts a week ago. About how I finally went to the Rosa Bonheur guingette in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. And about how Paul and I went to another Fireman’s Ball here in Paris on Wednesday night. I’m uploading the photos now. Maybe I will be better about focusing and just doing the writing, and not waiting two weeks before posting again. Maybe. I’ll keep trying, anyway. And I will also try not to get so discouraged about the things I am writing nor my behemoth posts, either.

Paul’s Mystery Post

From Paris Inspired -- Where Is It?

The last thing I want to say is that Paul has a cool thing going on in his blog at Paris Inspired — “Where is it Wednesday?“.

I left what I think is the coolest clue ever to solving the mystery of where and what this building is, so hop over to his blog post about it, read the clue, and see if you can come up with the solution! You, too, can experience a little of a Paris Treasure Hunt.

Okay, hasta la pasta, babies. Thank you for reading (or at least for looking at the nice pictures and skimming, lol) and see you back sooner than later, I hope.

I am Your —

alien parisienne

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Categories: Cross-Cultural Living, Gluten-Free Recipes, Life in Paris, Paris Adventures, Paris Monuments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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61 thoughts on “My Life as a Nancy Drew Mystery Novel

  1. ha ha…I wanna be first..but this time I haven’t read a single word yet….

    last day of work before 2 weeks off….

    this looks like a long blog karin…good thing I’m not really “working” too hard…

    Paris only 8 weeks away…..

    • FIRST!

      You won. 🙂

      Two weeks off?!? YAY!! And only 8 weeks until Paris? Holy cow. It’s soon! 🙂

  2. I wouldn’t worry about the blogging rules too much; however many words and how often you want to seem to be the right rules to follow.

    And, it can’t be unimportant if people read it, can it?

    So, I’d just carry on as usual.

    Perhaps the odd warning if it looks like going over the 500,000 word mark – just so we can order in supplies (and a spare pair of glasses.)

    Am I the first commenter again?

    • So, I’d just carry on as usual.

      Thank you for the support, Keith.

      I just know I sometimes get into these blog posts of mine, and they threaten to take me down with them, lol. I start seeing all these wonderful blogs around me (thanks to you on that, too ;-)) and get comparison anxiety, and then there’s just the purging that I seem to need that overtakes me when I start one of these. If I can’t get enough time to really sit and have an uninterrupted chunk of time in which to write, the thoughts of writing hound me, the self-imposed pressure to finish a post peaks, and then I get to the place where I just want to throw in the towel and say “screw it” to the whole endeavor. Persisting past this point is always the way to go, but I often get to the place where I want to give up.

      But I can’t – heh!

      So goes the angst-ridden thoughts of a frustrated writer, haha! Thank you for doing your part to calm me back down again. I do feel much better for having finished this post, though. It’s always a bit like taking a huge dump (*snicker* that’s Beavis and Butthead in my brain again).

    • Oh and on this:

      Perhaps the odd warning if it looks like going over the 500,000 word mark – just so we can order in supplies (and a spare pair of glasses.)

      Okay. I promise to give fair warning if the 500,000 word mark looms. 😉

  3. Damn, Debbie in Toronto beat me to it! Next week I’ll be waiting!

  4. In the years to come there is sure to be a WikiPedia article about Primcommania – the obsessive need to be the first commenter on other people’s blogs!

    No doubt the article will mention that this trend has spread across the internet like a virus.

    Maybe the article will even detail those cases when primocommanical rivalry has led to violence and even murder!

    It’s possible that the article will discuss the reaction of the medical profession (with examples of possible treatments.)

    But one thing is for sure…. the article is bound to explain that Primcommania started here – at An Alien Parisienne! I hope you’re proud of that, Karin!

    Blog Zero – it all started here!

    • I love people who carry Neologistic Dictionaries with them.

      I totally give Paul props on the term “neologistic dictionary” in case he reads this. 😉 He made it up.

      LMAO at the definitions/details on Pricommania! Actually, I have it on good authority that Primcommania started with a blogger named Eddo on the now-defunct Yahoo! 360°. Really. People circa 2006 were crazed to get to his posts first. He’s on my FB page if you need to confirm this with him. I’ll take the credit on WordPress blogs about Paris, though, heh.

      Just no violence. I won’t have it. Only HUGZ (spelled with a “z” like all good Tweeters, FBers and bloggers do, *snort*).

  5. okay so now I’ve read it…lots of fun and great pictures…love the picnic by the canal..

    don’t worry so much about the length of your blog you crazy nut…there are no rules in blogland…short , long, whatever …and you write about what you like…we’ll be the judges if it’s boring or not ..and truthfully it never is..because it’s happening to you in Paris and how can that be boring?…just write what’s in your heart…but seriously..the window pictures…the homeless couple..maybe you DO need to get out more…just saying

    • HUGZ Deb. 😉

      Thank you for reminding me there are no rules and that what’s in my heart is what is working. When I am in the middle of it all, especially as I read around the Bloghood, sometimes I lose sight that the point is that I *need* to do this. It’s not really a choice in some ways: I have to write about what’s happening or my head would explode.

      the window pictures…the homeless couple..maybe you DO need to get out more…just saying

      Hahahahahaha! Okay, yeah. Paul and I are working on this together more. 🙂 I just have to get to writing about those things. The stuff out the window is just so damn fascinating, though!

      Thank you for reading.

  6. HA HA KEITH…..THIS TIME I WAS READY TO POUNCE….

  7. Primcommania – *snork* I love it!

    I agree not to worry about length and topic too much. Write what’s in your heart, because we DO read.

    • Right? That’s hilarious, huh.

      Write what’s in your heart, because we DO read.

      Well-put from the woman who has been walking this journey seriously. Thank you. I know it is true, I know this is what I need to do, but sometimes I get caught up in the anxiety of getting the words to come out and in a timely fashion. You know me, lol.

      Thank you, Mamers. *high five & fist pound*

  8. Thanks Karen love the Treasurer hunt very nice the photos and there stories are cool i get a cents of your travel and even can smell the “steamy swampy subways in your words, lets hope they use deodorant down in the subways that smell never leaves LOL”
    As alway I enjoy you tails and travels keep up your good work Eric

    • Thank you for visiting again, Eric! It is good to see you here.

      Yeah — French deodorants don’t work as well as some in the US, lol. And ANY deodorant, even the best ones, would be hard pressed to be successful in a Paris subway, for sure. It makes for interesting travel.

      Thank you for your support, Eric. It means a lot. 🙂

  9. Wowza, reading you is a commitment! One that I thoroughly enjoy! I love the photo collages and I am completely hooked on the homeless couple story. I love observing people and then trying to make up stories about them. My hubby says I should have been a detective and that I should write books because of the stories I make-up!

    • I’m seeing it in my mind’s eye now: Nancy Andi Drew! You SHOULD write books because of the stories you make up! I will if you will. Wanna NaNoWriMo this November?

      I’m glad you are enjoying the homeless people story. I have not seen them around for a couple of days… I hope they show back up soon. In the meantime, there has been some other good stuff going on in the plaza, too. I’ll start working on that story really soon.

      Thank you, Andi, and I hope you have an excellent weekend. Now that I have written this, I am free to visit your blog, too! Which I shall do very soon…

  10. So many things have me laughing here in Toronto. Debbie and Keith’s race to be the first to comment. Primcommania? Imagine my big guffaw when I read that! Du Pain et Des Idées. Love it. It reminds me of a slogan D told me about. It came about in the 70s during the oil crisis: «on n’a pas de pétrole mais on a des idées». I wonder if they ever run out of bread at that bakery… Love the post and the pics are gorg as always!

    • Hi Tanya! It’s good to see you, and hey! So you *are* still in Toronto. You could look up Deb!! LOL.

      That slogan is funny, lol. Kind of like saying, “We have no food, but we have ideas.” LOL. I saw this movie once – oh I wish I could remember which one it was — where a kid was home alone, his dad had gone off to work during the Depression, and he pretended to eat pictures of food when he was hungry. Maybe Paul will remember that one — I think we watched it together. Or it’s like the Little Match Girl eating her imaginary buns. Oh how sad that story is! Yes, Du Pain et Des Idées looks like the bakery I imagined in the story “The Little Match Girl.” I am glad to know, sorta, that it is tasty stuff to be found there. I will stick with the Idea of the Pain, though. I bet they SO run out of bread… I wonder how long the lines are each day? I should get up early some morning just to go and check that part out.

      Thanks for visiting, Tanya!

  11. I loved your conversation between the old hag and the hippie chick! That one cracked me up.

    Beautiful pictures, as usual, but I agree with Debbie…you so need to get out a little more, babe!

    Mwah!

    • Thank you, my love. It was pretty amusing to watch the old lady and the hippie chick. I wish I could have heard better what was actually said (and understand it…).

      We both can get out more, eh? 🙂 Find some more stuff for our blogs. Kisses back atcha.

  12. Well wasn’t I excited when I checked on your blog and you had indeed updated this time! Again I look forward to your beautiful and exciting images that leave me wanting more. They make me feel as though I’m able to see snippets of beloved Paris. You didn’t dissapoint Karin!

    Oh, and thanks for not forgetting us “down under” 😛
    It’s funny to read about you drinking iced rosé whilst I’m wrapped up in blankets with heaters on. But I would swap and deal with the “heat” of Paris any day.

    • Thanks for checking in! Yeah, I am not the most frequent poster on this blog, but when I post, it’s a doozy. 🙂 I am so glad that you had fun looking at the pictures! I thought about all of you down under as I was sweating during the writing of this post over the past couple of weeks. I was thinking about the fact that it is winter somewhere! Funny thing is we have had some cooler weather, too — there have been nights so hot to have even a sheet on is unbearable, but we have also had torrential rains and some very cool evenings and nights where I am shivering under the summer weight blankets and putting on more clothing. The weather just cannot seem to decide which season to be in.

      I hope someday you can have your dream of being in Paris, no matter the weather. 🙂

  13. Ps. Love the look of your picnic, and I spy a tattoo…is there a story behind it?

    • There is a rather large tattoo there. In fact, here is my friend Tess and I in a recent photo where you can see the tat:
      DSCN5585
      It’s a half-sleeve. The woman is a special kind of northern Scottish mermaid called a “Selkie.” I got it done as my ancestry is from the Orkney Islands in Scotland, where the legend of the Selkie originates. The author Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who wrote Women Who Run With the Wolves, describes the mythology of the Selkie as symbolic of a woman who can be in two worlds: the waking, dry land world of day-to-day living, and the subconscious, spiritual world of the depths of the sea. There are also parallels between my own personal story and the story of the Selkie. You can read more about the story here: http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/

      • Oooh how interesting! I love stories of fantasy and mystical creatures, particularly when they are female characters. It makes me feel empowered and sexy for some reason? Except it’s kind of sad with what happens to female selkie’s if they get tricked.

      • Yeah, the tale of the Selkie is a bit of a bittersweet one, for sure. I do like it, though. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it!

  14. You make me want to visit (or live) in Paris. Everything seems so much more interesting 🙂

    • You know, I suppose when you cram over 2 million people into 60 km sq (about 23 square miles) life *is* going to be a little more interesting, lol. It’s like all the interestingness that exists in other places is more spread out, and therefore maybe not as apparent because it is diluted. But in a city like Paris, where there is not only a great population within a small geographical area, but also about 2,000 years of (more or less) of civilized (meaning: not prehistoric) history, there is the momentum that all that history brings. It’s got a kind of energy…

      Anyway, you made me realize something. If I am making everything seem so much more interesting, then maybe I am achieving my goal for this blog! I have hoped to find interest here, to find a home here, and it sounds like it’s working. That’s cool. Thank you, Kate. 🙂

  15. Amy

    So I read this whole long post and all my blank pregnancy brain can think is “tell her you accidentally read that one heading as ‘Carnal-Side Picnic'”. 😛

    I suddenly need to make some of that rose tea you gave me eons ago. I’ve been really stingy with it because I wanted it to last. I’m sooo thirsty. Sadly, our 2 ice trays end up with funny-tasting ice from our funny-tasting freezer.

    There are so many places these days without air conditioning that now need it. I wonder how many hot summer like this it will take before people convert. There are still people in humid Alabama I know that still only have fans and/or window units because it used to only ever hit over 100º maaaaybe once a year. Now it’s hitting 100º there in late May or early June. Same for the east coast like Baltimore, etc.

    • So I read this whole long post and all my blank pregnancy brain can think is “tell her you accidentally read that one heading as ‘Carnal-Side Picnic’”.

      Hahahahahahaha! That’s cute. 🙂

      Oh I loved that rose, tea, too. I ran out ages ago. The company that makes it still exists: Zhena’s Gypsy Tea — Gypsy Rose. There’s the link for you. I really should go to some of the tea places here and find some like that again.

      When I was pregnant in that hot Oklahoma summer, I could not drink enough Gatorade — the yucky original flavor stuff. I don’t know why I craved it so. Maybe the minerals and so on? I think I was low in potassium and magnesium.

      Wow. Alabama sounds like Paris. Ugh.

      Oh chica — you and Audrey stay as cool as you can. Thank you for taking the time to read! I need to return the favor and see what you have had going on over at LiveJournal. (I’m writing that here as a note to myself to be sure to do just that. 🙂 )

      • Amy

        I’m trying to remember these days to double post once on LJ and once at Multiply.

        I’ll probably not buy any more rose tea. I only want it every once in a great while. I think it would lose its wonder if I had it more often. These days, I’m drinking more water, chocolate malt flavored Ovaltine, and cappuccino slushies from QT than anything else. I’ve limited myself to child-sized cappuccino slushies, but that’s the icy goodness I CRAVE. You wouldn’t believe the transformations of some of the QTs these days. I like to call it 6-Flags Over QT. There are a bajillion types of iced teas, slushies, fountain drinks, etc. They even have a cappuccino bar inside with a wanna-be barrista. http://www.tulsafoodblog.com/fast-food/new-quiktrip-tulsa-ok Take a look at the picture slide show. It’s ridiculous.

      • Oh maaaaaan! Do I ever miss Quik Trip! It was amazing when I lived there over three years ago! I miss driving the little yellow Beetle in to get a 64 ounce Dr Pepper for 59 cents… Their slushies were good back then, too. ‘Course nowadays I would not be drinking that kind of stuff anyways, but I do have wonderful memories of the Quik Trip. *sigh*

  16. It looks like you covered a lot of ground on your treasure hunt – and in 95 degree heat! You are courageous.
    As for the marriages in France – you see we have the separation of church and state in France – real separation not like in the US. So that if you let a minister, priest, rabbi or anyone else be allowed to marry someone that would mean that the French government recognizes religion legally in their affairs of state, which they can’t. Every one if they want to be legally married has to go to the mairie, and then you can go to the religious place of your choice if you wish. Here in the US, they say they have separation of church and state but there is a lot of religion in affairs of state. Like swearing on the Bible in the US if you are part of a jury – that would not do in France – why not use a Koran then or a Wicca book? Also they don’t allow invocations at the beginning of their work like in the US Congress, etc. it is quite different because French people don’t want religion mixed with their government.

    As for “college” they must have changed since I went to school in France. Colleges and lycees were more or less the same. I went to the Lycée d’Enghien les Bains where you started in the 6ème and went all the way to the bac. It was not like here where if you passed all the courses you get your high school diploma. The bac was like a competition and many people did not pass it and would have to take it again, and again. The school curriculum in France is higher than in the States because when I wanted to enroll my daughters in France they told me that coming from the US they would have to do 2 years of remedial to be at the same level as the French undergraduates (it was only 1 year of remedial in the Province of Quebec in Canada then.)

    I always feel my posts are too long too, and think that “next time” I’ll write a shorter post, but the next time it is as long. So I feel if any one wishes to read it, good and I am happy, and if they don’t – well that is OK too and I had fun writing them. So, keep writing your posts just like you wish, they are a reflection of who you are and they are very interesting.

    • Hello Vagabonde!

      Funny thing — I guess I forgot to mention it, but the treasure hunt day was one of the rainy ones that seems to be alternating with the very hot ones. The weather here has reminded me of Oklahoma actually. Very hot, humid days followed by some rain, even severe thundershowers, some of which cool things down for a couple of days until the air warms and starts that cycle once again. That Saturday was a water-logged on, which also was kind of courageous as it was kind of yucky to traipse about like wet rats, lol.

      Thank you for the further explanation about marriages in France. I knew about this stuff, but I bet some other readers did not, so I really appreciate the further explanation. It really makes sense if there is going to be a separation of Church and State, they should be entirely *separate*.

      I think I read somewhere that education reform separating secondary school into collège and lycée happened in the 1970s, but I cannot find that information now, so I don’t know. There are two good articles from Wikipedia on education in France here, though:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_France
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_education_in_France

      The bac still exists. Paul’s son is taking the bac for French language at the end of next year, which is like his Junior year (première) of high school in the States. At the end of his Senior year (terminale), he will take the bac for his area of studies, although I am not sure which one he is going to sit. I think it is the BES, the one for economic and social sciences.

      I always feel my posts are too long too, and think that “next time” I’ll write a shorter post, but the next time it is as long. So I feel if any one wishes to read it, good and I am happy, and if they don’t – well that is OK too and I had fun writing them. So, keep writing your posts just like you wish, they are a reflection of who you are and they are very interesting.

      This is exactly how I feel! 🙂 I am glad I am not alone in having feelings like this. It’s good to know that it is not boring stuff. *whew* I don’t know why I go through cycles of feeling the way I do about blogging. It really is something I can’t comfortably live with, but also cannot live without doing. I seem to pendulum between the two extremes of loving it and loathing it. I will follow your advice. Thank you for helping me with my neurosis about this. 🙂

      Thanks for all the wonderful information, Vagabonde, and I hope things in your part of the world are staying cool and comfortable, and happy!

  17. La Fontaine Gaillon – baby with trident stabbing baby dolphin – let me guess, it’s a seafood place. dietary problems with seafood too?

    airconditioning – How about Barnes and Noble? I used to hang there until a breeze would blow up. I keep a two liter pitcher full of sweet tea in the fridge and an old soda bottle of water. No ice though, Ice maker broke long ago and too lazy to make it from scratch (sides, I need the room in the freezer for bread and meat).

    As I kid, I had written a similar hunt through some of my favorite california/bay area locations. I suppose, to make it most playable, things should be within walking distance (normal walking distance, not mine) of each clue, so I could actually
    do several of these. Although, if I limit it to the bay area, one that you have to drive around for could be fun for a weekend game. I do worry about my clues either being to obvious or waaay too escoteric (to compensate for the harder ones, I was going to two clues, one a riddle and the other a word puzzle)

    “Cuisine et Pâtisserie au Gaz”, “the Beavis and Butthead part of my brain thinks it’s funny” Picturing a line of men in bakers robes bending over and lighting their farts next to ovens of bread dough?

    Blog what is on your mind and express/share your expiriences. Do not worry about the readers too much as you can have little or no idea of their expectations or preferences. The truer your voice is, the more interesting the post will be, no matter the subject or length.

    • Hello, Ken!

      It’s actor Gérard Depardieu’s restaurant pictured there, and yup, they serve seafood. It’s too dear for my wallet, to be certain. I’m also not the biggest fan of seafood. Crab? Yes, like it. Fish? Fine. But other things from the sea? Meh. Although I love freshwater weird things like eel. Yum.

      B&N is awesome for air conditioning in the States. I used to hang out there in Tulsa and Dallas both, when I lived there. I had other places in Denver I liked, such as the mountains, for cooler air.

      How fun that you did a scavenger for the Bay Area! You should do some and see if you can get them published, dude!

      Picturing a line of men in bakers robes bending over and lighting their farts next to ovens of bread dough?

      Something like that, lol!

      And thanks again for the reassurance of this: “The truer your voice is, the more interesting the post will be, no matter the subject or length.” I know this, I know this deep down, but I get so frustrated with posting sometimes that I forget, I lose sight of this principle and fairly easily. Thank you for being a Samwise Gamgee and helping me with the task at hand, Ken.

  18. Sounds like we weren’t too far apart during the treasure hunt! I was exploring the 20th!

    • Hi Lindsey! I think we had some crossover with the 20th right up at the rue de Belleville… I would love to try the one in the 20th next year! I hope you all had fun, too. 🙂

  19. Salut, femme ecrivain! Don’t you dare stop writing. We’ll keep reading, regardless of the length. It gives me a great excuse to have another cup of coffee and put off running to the grocery store which I HATE and you KNOW IT. There are no rules in blogland. Some of my posts run forever and bore the hell out of people; some are super short and bore the hell out of people. So you keep doing your thing…

    That scavenger hunt sounds like immense fun. What a great idea, and what a wonderful way to notice many of the overlooked details of a neighborhood. Sometimes I feel like I’ve tuned out the details in my constant rushing. I could use a scavenger hunt to make me slow down and check things out a little more closely. Thanks for the reminder!

    I love the Canal St. Martin. It looks like you had a lovely afternoon with your friend and your quick pickles (which you betcha I’m going to make)

    Thanks, Karin. You’re a superstar.

    • Hola, chica!

      (Oh wait. Wrong language. I mean, “Bonjour, mademoiselle!”) 😉

      Okay, I think by today I have gotten over my quarterly angst about this blog. After I got it posted, I think I chilled out a little. The support here helped a lot, too. I wish this thing did not knot me up so, but it does. I’m doing better, and knowing that one of my favorite blog writers, ever, had a cup of coffee while enjoying helps a lot, too. Thank you.

      You’re right, the Paris Treasure Hunt was a fantastic way to slow down and observe. And isn’t Canal Saint Martin a great spot? As for the quick pickles, I just made more today with apple cider vinegar. They came out fine that way, too. I love the rice vinegar, but, like you, I hate having to do the grocery shopping, and I hate even worse having to go all over town for unique ingredients like rice vinegar, so I am going to have to forgo the rice vinegar until I happen to pass an Asian grocery store by accident one of these days, and have time, money, and a shopping bag to haul it home. It may be awhile, lol.

      Thank you, m’dear, for your encouragement. 🙂 Be over to your place really soon!

  20. Dear Karin,

    How did I enjoy reading your comment! Bien sûr, I had no idea you read on my blog. I’m honored! And so very glad you took the time to let me know.

    You seem to have some interesting things to write about. And a gift of words. Wow! Do be encouraged to keep on letting your talent shine through!

    Maybe we could, one day, meet up all three of us – you, Leesa and me. Leesa and I do do that regularly. Hang out at a quaint café and just chat… sweet gal time and life’s small wondrous passing moments!

    Have a lovely Paris day Karin… and ’til soon!

    • Hello, Susa! I am so glad you took the time to come over, read, and comment. I really appreciate it so much. Like I commented to you on your most recent post, maybe it was just time for us to coordinate, eh? 🙂 I’m glad it finally happened.

      I would love to meet with you and Leesa soon. I know she will be going on vacation very soon, too, so we should grab a chance to do this when we can. I would love to meet you in person. Let’s see what we can get together on this, all right?

      Take care, Susa, and thank you again for reading and encouraging me to keep writing. 🙂

  21. Hello Karin.. ONE word … Amazing ..!!

    Do not give up and do not let the feeling of lack of confidence get to you. I suffer that sometimes, and then want to give it all up… but then I think what I have gained from it, who I have met and where I have been. If you think it is sometimes to hard to do a longer post , do a shorter one now and again.

    How great that another friend of Leesa’s is in contact with you 🙂 .. Leesa goes on holiday tomorrow .. Munich and Austria ..

    Take care and I hope to meet up with you also one day.

    • Hi Anne! Thank you for stopping by and reading. 🙂

      I’m glad to know that you have gotten to points of frustration with blogging, too. It is weird how there is a combination of a lack of confidence and a sense of “WHY am I doing this?” that crops up every so often. Yeah, it is like having pre-menstrual tension, but for getting a blog post out, lol. Or maybe it is that I am going through Blogopause (lol). I don’t know, but I know the frustration can really get to me. I do need to try to do a shorter one now and again. Of course, I say that, but have trouble DOING it, ha!

      Leesa is the Great Connector, for sure, and yup, I got a note from her that she left today for her trip. July 20 sneaked up on me. I think my brain is still somewhere back in June. 🙂

      I really hope we can meet, too, Anne. I know it is going to happen! One day, soon.

      Take care and thank you for the comment.

      • Hi Karin, I think mine is Blogopause too, actually not think , I know 🙂

        Maybe pick a day , just to do a photo post .. I do that sometimes.

  22. Carole

    The treasure hunt sounds like such fun! You sure have covered a lot of ground in the past few months. I like the glimpses of life outside your window. Are the hippie couple only staying for the summer? 😉

    • Hi Carole! It’s good to see you! 🙂 I want to do another one of those treasure hunts soon. They are very cool! I’m glad you like the window stories, too. I keep wondering if the hippies are from another country in the EU and that maybe they came here from, say, Bulgaria or someplace looking for jobs. But then why the dogs? I have not seen them in a couple of days, too, which makes me wonder where they are… Oh those mystery hippies.

      Hope you are staying cool!

  23. Pingback: A Taste of Garlic » That was the week…

  24. I’m enjoying the drama and intrigue of the homeless hippy couple. I have never understood why someone without a home (and, perhaps, the ability to fully care for oneself) would want to take on another being–a dog, namely–when it’s just another mouth to feed, and,clearly, another thing to up your life’s crazy factor.

    I used to marvel at the homeless kids on Haight Street in San Francisco, panhandling for change, when their own faces were full of very expensive sterling silver jewelry (those labret rings don’t come cheap!). My friend Anthony used to propose to any kid who’d hit him up for free money that he try selling his nose-rings. At least *look* the part of starving street urchin, he’d suggest. I never had the cajones to say such things!

    • Hi Aurelia! I am so glad that you made it here. Welcome to my place in the bloghood. 🙂

      I have heard a couple of theories about the homeless/dog thing. I guess part of it is for protection, especially with older, bigger dogs. But yeah, with these puppies I just don’t get it, either. How do they feed them?

      I like that life can have a Crazy Factor. I think on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the craziest, mine has got to be around a six or so. At least.

      Yeah, there is definitely a whole group of people that panhandle because of this weird entitlement thing. It’s like they are trying to be a social experiment in how many free handouts they can get without doing a darn thing. Cali has a lot of those types… I have a friend that lives near Santa Cruz and says there are a lot of that ilk there. I guess it is not so different from the hippies that were from 45 (!) years ago, but it is true that there is a kind of current hippie homeless chic that I am not sure the original hippies would have felt groovy about.

      I would totally like to find out what makes some of those kids tick…

      Hope you survived the hot library! Thanks for catching up on my post in those conditions, Aurelia. Hope we can connect really soon. 🙂

  25. iris

    I watch the stuff out my window as well, and while it’s not as exciting as yours (keep writing about it, I like it!), as I live on a cul-de-sac, sometimes things do happen. Like, for three years running, in the 80’s, on Friday night around 11:30 P.M., a car would drive around the length of the cul-de-sac and go on to the next one. What made this interesting was that one of the female passengers would be shrieking, and dangling her BRA out the window. For three years! Never had a clue what it was about.

    • Hello Iris! A woman, dangling her bra out a window, drives around a cul-de-sac (which means “ass sack” in French, in case you were ever wondering, lol) every Friday night for THREE YEARS.

      That was really me.

      Hahaha! Just kidding. Although I did stalk a boy I like in 1985 the summer after my Junior year in high school. He lived on a cul-de-sac. But I never waved my bra out of a window.

      Truth really is stranger than fiction, huh!

      Okay. More window stories. I shall try. 🙂 Thank you for your encouragement!

  26. Hi Karin!

    I’m not sure I could ever live in Paris after hearing your description of the heat. I DO NOT do well in warm climate…I inherited my father’s sweating genes…it’s not a pretty sight! The Paris Treasure hunt looked like a lot of fun!! I can’t wait to finally see Paris when it’s not freezing; loved your photos-makes me want to come right now!

    • Hello Lauren!

      Paris is truly wonderful in the spring and fall. Or it *can* be, when it is not cold and rainy. 🙂 The weather has just been very inconsistent this year so far — one minute it is sweltering and the next very cool and stormy. When it gets hot here, it gets really HOT though, like Midwest humid hot, like Southern heatwave hot. Not Las Vegas in summer hot, obviously, but for as beautiful as Paris can be as a city, its weather is not always ideal.

      Paris is better in sunny weather than cold, though, for sure. Come visit soon! 🙂

  27. I am, once again, dumbfounded by your thorough attention to detail. Wow. I am left feeling as if I am living some strange abridged version of life, simply because I cannot be bothered to remember the details.

    I will have a canal side picnic in Paris one of these days. I will also make sure my youngest grommet is wearing her water wings. She is accident prone.
    Thanks for the long, strange trip.

    • Hello there, Betsy! 🙂 Thank you for visiting.

      After reading your comment I remembered the expression, “God is in the details.” When I Googled that, the expression “The devil is in the details” came up, too. No matter if it is heaven or hell we’re focusing on, I guess the idea is that the details are important, but with the latter, there is also the idea that there is a mysterious hidden element or catch to be found in the details.

      I dunno, though. It’s not like I try to “go there.” It’s just that my life is so mundane, it seems that all my life is on small detail after another, with no big things even happening, really.

      I like the idea that you are speeding through and covering lots of territory, abridging things to cover ground! I feel like I am trapped in Proust and he is going on and on about that damn madeleine. Hahaha! Anyway, I know for sure that you capture memories in your blogs and you write some of the most poetic and touching things I have ever read. So details or no, it’s all working, methinks. *high fives you*

      A canal side picnic with a four-year-old would definitely call for water wings. OMG, I think I am actually having an anxiety attack thinking of a four year old and a picnic by a canal… Yeahhhhh, wait until she is older!!! Take her for a lovely picnic at the Buttes Chaumont and go have a Grown Up picnic by the canal. 🙂

      You are welcome for the long, strange trip. 🙂 Thank you for going on it!

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