Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pride March, 6/29/13

The other day I was on the Metro near a couple with southern accents and about my age. They looked very disconsolate. She said, "Paris is a very big city, not like home." He said, "Yes, it's big." And they both sighed and looked as though they wanted to be anywhere but where they were.

The lefties were there

But I just love that I can wake up one morning (late one morning), look out my window and see people creating their floats for the Pride March! (Or last week's pro-livestock parade.) I have to be honest. In forty-three years in and near San Francisco, I've never been to the march in SF. No excuses this time.

Same sex marriage now legal in France

I imagine that the march is huge in SF (probably happening right now) because of the Supreme Court decision. Same sex marriage was legalized in France this year, so it was quite a hoopla here. It took almost two hours for the parade to go past my apartment - though I was down in the street by then.

Bride and groom?

I didn't see any trouble. There were police, but not as many as I expected, not because of the marchers, but because of the riot last month when same-sex marriage was legalized.

Pride March, Paris, 2013

Ellen, Halloween, SF, 1983
(I sew better than that guy)

I've read the book Sarah's Key since I've been in this apartment (didn't see the movie). There is a copy of it in the apartment and the narrator lives on this street - somewhere within a few blocks, but across the street. She complains about the noise (so many sirens) generated by the three hospitals in the neighborhood. She's certainly right! In the book she is moving to a quiet older neighborhood and she has mixed feelings.

Pride March, Paris, 2013

She is looking forward to the quiet, though. I have loved being in the middle of everything. The noise hasn't bothered me a bit. If it's warm enough, I throw open the windows to hear it better. It doesn't affect my sleep at all, which surprises me since Santa Rosa is so quiet at night. It used to bother me a lot when I was kid and would visit (Great) Aunt Helen on W. 18th in Manhattan. I was sure I'd never get to sleep on "the barge" (her combo guest bed/couch) - though the humidity was often as much to blame for that.

Aunt Helen (before I knew her)

I said it before, but I am so much happier down here than up on Montmartre. Ellen said she wished I'd still been up there when they came to visit. I'm really glad that an old area is preserved like that, but this feels like real life without feeling like the U.S. Yes, despite the Century 21 across the street and the McDonald's around the corner.

Always a good slogan

My next neighborhood - the Bastille - is also a noisy active area, but it feels less like everyday life and more like a party - a much higher concentration of young people. It will be interesting to see how I feel there. But no matter where I am, I'm never more than two blocks from a Starbuck's! Which I don't frequent.

Multi-issue march - of course!

The Pride March was headed to the Place de la Bastille - quite a walk. I imagine they are still celebrating. The sanitation department came in right on the tail of the march and cleaned up immediately, but they missed these balloons.

After the party

And I had lunch out and met this lovely little dog.

Aldo wants some Croque Monsieur

Late in the afternoon, I went back to Bourdelle Museum - just a couple of blocks away. Last time I went, Bourdelle's studio was closed for a lecture and I love that room.

Antoine Bourdelle's studio

I spent almost my whole time in that room taking pictures.

Antoine Bourdelle's studio

They've built a whole museum around Bourdelle's studio and living quarters and the guard seemed very concerned that I was going to miss it (it was close to closing time).

More studio

He didn't speak any English and I think he was expressing concern - I can't be sure. And then I tried to explain to him that I'd been to the museum several times and had already seen the other parts. I think he understood - maybe.

And more studio

I don't come to this museum for the art - much of it I don't like - mostly the later stuff that is in the new museum part. I go there for the atmosphere and spend my time in the studio and the gardens. There is sometimes a cat - I have pictures from 1986 - but kids scared it away this time.

Medusa and the garden

Then I just headed out for an early evening stroll, since it was such a nice day - finally. This building was down the street from the museum. It is made of glass panels that go from red to orange to yellow.

Glass building

Today I read a very poignant little book that I picked up at the Abbey Bookstore. The bookstore has been around for twenty years - owned by a Canadian - and it makes Treehorn look positively light and spacious. You can barely move in it and most of the books are impossible to see. And you get to the bathroom by moving the poetry bookshelf (which is heavy). The book is The Crofter& The Laird by John McPhee.

Pasteur Metro station

When I brought it to the counter (I'd found it hidden away in the basement down very steep steps with no railing), the owner said, "Oh I knew someone would want that some day!" John McPhee is in his 80's and I think still teaching journalism at Princeton. He is credited as one of the founders of "creative nonfiction." He is descended from Scots from the Isle of Colonsay. He went to live there for a while and tell the story of how things have changed and how people are barely hanging on (it was written in 1969, so I'm going to have to look up the island and see how it is faring). 

Rose in a hidden garden

He tells how the English cleared Scotland of people in the 18th and 19th centuries - how his ancestors came to the U.S. just a few years after mine - and how they moved to Ohio - just like mine. And then he tells the story of the few who stayed - their personal lives and the politics behind their situation. Chuck's grandparents were ones who stayed (his grandmother from Mull) an additional fifty years.

Building detail just down the street

I'll be spending ten days on the west coast of Scotland and a couple of islands, including Mull, in July. It's kind of a crazy trip - trying to see too many places - too much time spent on trains, buses, and ferries - quite a switch from my slow life here. I'll be seeing places that relate to my Scottish/Campbell heritage, but nothing related to direct ancestors - though I will be seeing my grandmother-in-law's island.

More building details

Just like the Bourdelle Museum, I'm going for the atmosphere. Don't know where it will lead.

James and Rachel (Hutchinson) Campbell came to the U.S. in the 1850s and I have a photo of my great-grandmother, Isabelle (their daughter - the one who became a suffragist), taken near the end of the Civil War. 

Isabelle Campbell

We think a couple of generations lived in Northern Ireland - sometimes a stepping stone after leaving Scotland and before coming to the U.S. After Ohio, they ended up in Iowa.

All of James and Rachel's children -
Isabelle upper left

If I could triple the time and slow the trip down, I'd be a lot happier, but I'm looking forward to it anyway and the book whetted my appetite.


Despite all the peeling paint, this hotel gets three stars. Must be because of all the angels.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's turning into ancient history, so let me get my birthday out of the way. I decided that, since the best thing I'd eaten since arriving in Paris was the sorbet de cassis (called a Cardinale with creme de cassis on top), I should have it for my birthday.

Don't I wish they'd all choose
la cigarette electronique!

The restaurant is up near the river, so I decided to walk and took a slightly different route, so I passed some store fronts I hadn't seen. Such as the one above - don't I wish! I'm tired of real urban smokers!

Probably once a butcher

There are many beautiful storefronts remaining - most of them having nothing to do with what's being sold now. I have to resist taking too many photos - just like the rooftops.

Court clothes

Since I passed by the courts, I passed by the stores that sell the appropriate clothes for judges and lawyers. Good thing we've given most of this up. Appearances and money intimidate - now we're just left with the money.

Birthday champagne

There's no place outside at the restaurant I was going to and I was too early anyway, so I stopped a couple of blocks south of Blvd. St. Germain, at a fancy looking place called Schmuck's, for a glass of birthday champagne. Those potato chips were homemade, by the way. There was lots of music coming from multiple directions in the area - I didn't yet know about the Fete de la Musique.

After the storm

Since the day had been rainy and the weather had finally improved, some people across the way had hung out their umbrellas to dry. I love this photo.

I made it over to the restaurant just as all the tourists were clearing out and the French were moving in. It was kind of fun to watch it happen so obviously. Though it's only an indoor restaurant and, therefore, no smoking, the front window was open and smoke was drifting from the place across the alley!

Vins et Terroirs

I ended up having quite a nice meal. I started with a terrine of avocado and raw salmon served with a beet sorbet. It was an odd combination, but the components were very good and the beet sorbet was delicious. Then I had lamb, cooked rare as requested, and a pile of green beans (always a great substitute for the omnipresent potato). And the fabulous dessert!

Fire dancer on the Seine

I left the restaurant to find the city in full celebration mode. Since 1982, Paris has celebrated World Music Day with a Fete de la Musique. This is a day when amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets and the performances must be free. They were playing all over the city.

Louvre at night

I had hoped to get a photo of the Pei pyramid lit up at night, but I guess they don't light it when the museum is closed. That means not much opportunity for a shot in the summer - even with night hours it closes before sunset. I was also hoping to see the almost full moon, but the clouds had returned.

Performing in front of the Louvre with flags waving

I enjoyed this band - they performed some form of African music in an African language (I assume, since I don't know any). But they were popular and the fans sang along. The French stuff they sang was boring and didn't light up the crowd in the same way, either.

Looking above the crowd on the rue de Rivoli

Then there was some awful music, like the (very popular) female singer of the genre that has her voice piped through electronic equipment so that she ends up sounding like every other female singer (now I sound like my mother, but she wouldn't have liked the African music either). Too bad that the trend is for too many young women singers to not only look, but sound, like carbon-copy Barbie dolls (she says while paying very little attention to popular music). I also got to hear very drunk in a zillion languages. Drunk - the universal language of stupidity.

When I got back to my street, it had plenty of music going on. In fact, it was still happening when I fell asleep at 3:30 a.m.! Imagine such a thing in need-a-permit-to-open-your-mouth Sonoma County! Okay! Birthday's done.

What it's like to go see the Mona Lisa

Back to the kids' visit. We went to the Louvre - yeah, I said I wouldn't go again, but I went - it was raining. Andrew wanted to see the Mona Lisa (I think he was underwhelmed) and Bennett truly wanted to go because he loves Renaissance art. Andrew did pretty well for a little kid, but it certainly wasn't his cup of tea. 

Nudes entertain

But he did get into the nude bodies and some of the blood and gore and he was counting up crucifixion scenes. He said he was going to kill the people who killed Jesus! We didn't explain to him that there had been too much of that already - that's for when he's older. But it's difficult to go to the Louvre and not explain the crucifixion.

Keeping him engaged with the art

We also did the Egyptian wing - though you can do better at the Metropolitan - because Andrew has learned about mummies. They have lots of sarcophagi, but we only found one mummy.

Under the Pei pyramid

We had those among us who were really tired of ham, cheese, frites, etc. We went Japanese one night and also for lunch after the Louvre. Sometimes you have to change it up. One night Bennett made us pasta and we had take out salads from the Bon Marche Epicerie.

And in the middle of all this, I was pickpocketed again. Ellen says I have "(slow) American tourist" written all over me. We were getting on a crowded Metro train when a young woman (Roma, I and others believe) slammed into me. I shoved her back and then she shoved me again. I looked down and saw that she had thrown her jacket over my purse. I immediately grabbed her jacket, but was too late. Because of the different pockets that are inside my Baggalini bag, I assume pickpockets actually study how they work. Anyway, I also grabbed her bag and demanded my money back. She pulled up her shirt - supposedly to show me she didn't have it under her shirt. The train stopped and she stepped off and tried to grab her stuff back, but I wouldn't give it to her. She shrugged and walked away. I ended up with her winter jacket, her phone charger, and her tada! Che Guevara bag. But she came out ahead.

Not her bag, but I happen to have this on my computer

A woman on the Metro said the gangs of Roma girls are everywhere and the police can't do anything about them. I've encountered them in theft or attempted theft three times so far. It's one of those places where one's desire not to profile collides with one's understanding of the miserable place the Roma inhabit in European society. Unfortunately I now profile, because it's easier than picking out the young French couple that's going to steal ones camera! I don't carry a lot of cash, but now I divide it among pockets and I hold onto my purse more tightly - though I may look a little paranoid.

Andrew on the Eiffel Tower in the rain

A couple of times we split up. Andrew really wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower and Julia and I didn't. Unfortunately it was sunny when they headed out and raining by the time they got there. The top level was even closed because of weather - there was thunder and lightening - but I think he was happy enough with the second level.

Julia at Sainte Chapelle

While they waited in line in the rain to go up the Eiffel Tower, Julia and I waited in line in the rain to get into Sainte Chapelle. We had considered going to one of the concerts held there, but the tickets are really steep!

Sainte Chapelle

Reminding us that women are to blame for everything

Not about to let the beauty of a church seduce me! My mother taught me better than that.

Daddy's more fun than Mommy at a playground

On their last day, we split up again. Ellen, Bennett, and Andrew made a last trip to the Luxembourg Gardens, Notre Dame, and the Left Bank.

and an American-style doughnut

Julia and I went to the Musee d'Orsay (I'm sure Bennett wanted to be here, too).

Sacre Coeur from a Musee d'Orsay clock

In the afternoon, we all went to Cimitiere Pere Lachaise. It took us longer than expected to get there and then Andrew fell asleep, so we gave him a nap in a cafe, so we didn't get to see as much cemetery as we would have liked.

Andrew's nap

But we did make the important stops:

Julia had to see Colette's grave

Bennett had to see Jim Morrison's grave

The usual mourning

Then we headed over to Canal St. Martin. We had wanted to take the canal ride - which goes through the locks and through the tunnel to the Seine - but when we found out it takes 2-1/2 hours, we decided that was too long for Andrew.

Above the canal


We walked over to Julien, where we were having our Belated Father's Day/Early Birthday dinner. It was very muggy that day, so we arrived a bit sweaty.

Celebrating amid the Belle Epoque

Ellen had picked out the restaurant without knowing that it had been a favorite of my sister, Janet, and brother-in-law, Leon, when they lived in Paris in the early 80s. The first courses were delicious, the main courses were fine (though my  homemade Bearnaise is still better), and the desserts were great.

Early birthday dessert

Molten chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream and creme anglaise. Ellen shared her profiteroles with Andrew. They pour on the chocolate sauce until you tell them to stop. Good thing we were forewarned by Janet. I imagine it's possible to have too much chocolate sauce.

Melting profiteroles

Happy Father's Day!

Beautiful restaurant

And so we had our last dinner - happily it was good! - and they all headed off for Switzerland the next morning. Where it sounds as though they had a good time - a totally different good time from Paris - amid mountains and waterfalls with lots of train and funicular rides.

Last metro ride

And I was happy to fold up the sofabed, which we'd kept out the whole time because it was so difficult to assemble. I do hope the next one is easier than the last two!  So back to a quieter and slower pace of life.

Down at the corner

Why do they allow this on the tops of beautiful old buildings? For the matter, why do they allow it on the tops of ugly new buildings?