Sunday, May 26, 2013

Well, I'm in a rather foul mood. Yesterday, my camera was stolen. It was in my backpack. There's no knowing what to do. They tell you not to wear it around your neck - you look like a tourist and are a target and they come along with knives to cut the strap. That pretty much leaves the backpack. Anyway, I felt them pull the zipper and turned around, but they were very fast. The camera was under my umbrella, so they stole that, too. These were not economically disadvantaged people; they were not immigrants. They were a well-dressed, attractive, young (probably) French couple - probably do this for the fun of it. Anyway, they grinned at me and I ran after them, but obviously they were much faster, and when I went around the corner after them, they were gone. It all had to be seen by others - there were lots of people around - but no one else batted an eyelid. And, of course, my travelers insurance doesn't cover theft. Anyway, I'm going to replace it. I can't be here and not take pictures.

Full moon over Paris

I had the camera with me because I was going down to the Seine to take pictures of the full moon. The last time I was in Paris in May, there was a full moon, but I didn't have a tripod and my pictures are blurry. I was going to remedy that this time. So the above picture was found on the internet by googling "pleine lune Paris." It even cleared up so we could see the moon! I didn't go down to the Seine, but stayed up here on the plaza in front of Sacre Coeur and watched a gorgeous orange moon rise over the city. You had to be there! Oh well.

Anti-Monsanto protest

The other thing I was going to photograph was the anti-Monsanto protest here. Again, here's a photograph from the internet. The protest was a disappointment. Maybe it's difficult to muster the enthusiasm when your country has already banned GMOs - though the EU courts have said they can't - but I think France is resisting that decision. This plaza is not that big and it wasn't full, even though there were all the tourists looking at the Eiffel Tower and an anti-abortion rally and another rally, the purpose of which I never figured out.

Graffiti near the apartment

There were the usual drummers and some chanting, but many fewer signs than at the protests I'm used to. I've seen plenty of signs in photographs of European protests (and lots in photos from yesterday in other European cities) - don't know what the deal was here.

Gustave Moreau Museum

Down the hill is this cool museum that Terri Carrion and Michael Rothenberg turned me on to. This place is floor-to-ceiling artwork - all done by Moreau. He painted all the usual religious themes you see in the Louvre, but with a cool late 19th-century take on them. Very fun to look at.

More Gustave Moreau

I don't care if I never step foot in the Louvre again. What's best in Paris for art are all the little museums they've created from the studios of the artists themselves or in the homes of collectors. I love them.

In front of a restaurant

One of the best things to do, of course, is just stroll the streets (always on the alert for thieves!). The streets are so curvy here that it's best to study the map first. You mean if I head in that direction I'll actually end up in the other direction? Who knew? Mostly, I see people wandering around using their apps on their phones.

Petals on the ground

Happily, there hasn't been as much rain as they predicted - though I do have to go out and find a new umbrella - mine was really nice and the ones they sell up on this hill are junk. There was that break in the clouds for the full moon last night.....

The side of a truck outside a patisserie

I haven't had any macarons yet. They are usually brighter than these - definitely not natural coloring. Except for the beignets, I haven't been impressed with the baking - I've actually never been impressed with French baking. I remember being unimpressed forty years ago - when I was definitely impressed with the other food - except for the fruit (which was exceptional), the pastry was pretty tasteless. Still is and you can only tolerate so much almond paste. I think northern California surpassed France - when it comes to food - quite a while ago.

Across the street

I finally found out what the octagonal building across the street once was - an art gallery now - the remains of the first water tower in the neighborhood. Yes, the sky was actually pink that night!

The current water tower for Montmartre

The other night I went out for poetry again. Dorianne Laux was reading, as well as her husband (can't remember his name), and Cecilia Woloch. There were women of all ages there - quite young to elderly.  The men were all over sixty and there were some real horse's asses there. I just loved the two guys arguing over which one had had the uglier divorce.  (Random photos inserted from now on.)

One of Montmartre's stairway streets

One of the guys had just gotten back from his college reunion. The other guy said, "Oh yes, Columbia or Cornell, was it?" The other guy said, "No, starts with a Y as in Yale." "Oh, of course." Gag me. Anyway, the women fawned over the men and it was ugly.

Lapin Agile

The reading wasn't as well attended as the monthly 100 Thousand Poets for Change, despite the famous poet. Too bad. I enjoyed her, but thought Cecilia Woloch was the best - she leads the Poets in Paris program at USC - this reading was part of that. Her book "Carpathia" is inspired by her attempts to recover her family's past in the Carpathian mountains. I recommend it.

Tamarisk - roadside "weed" tree in Sonoma County

I'm interested in her work as another example of looking back at family history. When I'm in Scotland and Wales, I'm going to be doing a little of that and I've started a little writing about it. I just received this invitation - though I obviously can't go.

Invitation to the 325th anniversary of
the founding of the Pennepack Baptist Church

My seventh great-grandparents (that's seven greats in front of grandparents), John and Joan Eaton, came from Wales and helped found this church. They were non-conformists, meaning they didn't belong to the Church of England. I'll be visiting the area they came from. But I've gotten back two additional generations to Chester, England and I'll be visiting Chester, as well. The records are sketchy, because non-conformists didn't keep a lot of records.

My street again, looking the other direction,
on that pink sky night

I got an emailed letter dictated by Andrew yesterday:

     Dear Grandma, I love you so much on top of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Couer. And I am
     in the Pantheon. And I am on the boats. And I am buying maps. And the chop off heads place.
     Love, Andrew

Then he asked his mother, "Does that say all the wonderful things?"

Canal St. Martin

He got two books for kids about Paris for his birthday and he has really learned a lot. Though he is a little worried about having his head chopped off and being buried in the Pantheon.

Tonight I head to Shakespeare and Company for another poetry reading - Carol Ann Duffy, former poet laureate (and first female one) of England. The only poetry of hers I've read is her book which takes fairy tales and tells them from the point of view of the women. Not always great poetry, but fun and feminist.

The crowds at Place du Tertre


  1. Hi Susan,

    It's been great reading your blog- thanks.
    We watched Amalie last night. I hadn't seen it in a long time and one thing I had forgotten was that it's set in Monte Marte. I loved watching it and thinking of you. there were some great carousels in the movie.
    love you,

    1. Never did see Amelie. I guess I'll have to do that when I get back.

  2. Ohhhh the pain of losing your camera in Paris! It doesn't take a lot of empathy to feel that. I remember the days, not all that long ago, when one could walk around Paris without much fear or worry. The austerity of the global economy certainly fixed that.

    Your photos are fantastic. I hope you'll think of putting a book together with some of the photos and blog entries when you get home.

    I feel like I'm walking with you.

  3. Horrible about the camera, Cuz. I suppose you lost some photo files, too. A shame you have to expend mental energy on protecting yourself. Well, youi seem to have th right attitude. Wish I was there!

    1. Would love to have you here! Didn't lose a single photograph because I religiously transfer them to the computer every day. And I don't take my computer out of the apartment!

  4. GAD! I hate this damned auto spell check!

    1. So do I. I think I finally have it turned off!