Monday, June 10, 2013

Andrew with his passport

Today is the day my kids arrive. Can't wait to see them!

Bruce Pardoll and his sister, Marty

But yesterday I got to spend the afternoon and evening with my good friend Bruce from Santa Rosa. He is on an exciting adventure, as well. Besides some time in France, he's going to Estonia, Prague, Amsterdam, and Russia, getting back just before I do. As a Trotskyist, he's excited about his first trip to Russia, even if that country hasn't exactly turned out as planned.

Flower market, where I wandered while
waiting to meet up with Bruce and Marty

We got to just wander around, eat, drink wine - it would have been a little better if it hadn't been gray and drizzly - but we had a good long chat. It was certainly a novelty to be connecting some place so far from home. And I really liked Marty - an organic caterer - who knows so much about the decline of French food (really obvious to anyone who was here decades ago). She made it almost difficult to sit in a restaurant and eat!

Pro-bee; anti-GMO

And, of course, the US government is shilling for Monsanto and trying to get France to accept GMOs. I had gone that morning to the all-organic farmers market. With Andrew coming, I needed strawberries, some good bread, organic milk. For me, I needed organic wine - from a winery with a ladybug logo. Some of you know my ladybug history going all the way back to the 60s.

Bird cages at the flower market,
which is also a bird market on Sundays

Marty and Bruce took me to the Jewish section in the Marais and showed me where to buy the best falafel sandwiches. Always a line. They looked incredible and I'll be back. We'd eaten lunch, so we didn't stop. They were also selling warm apple strudel on the street.

I can't believe I forgot to take Alix to the flower market 
- she'd have loved it

Oh, and a note for Terra! The farmers market sells cooked to order latkes - line for that, too. Next Sunday I'll have to remember not to eat breakfast before I go.

Eavan Boland reading at Marche de la Poesie

And for two afternoons and evenings I went to hear poetry and discussions of poetry at the Marche de la Poesie - in its 31st year. It is set up a lot like the literary festival in Courthouse Square except that it's just poetry. It is very crowded.

Marche de la Poesie

Almost everything is in French, except for some of the poetry by the featured poets from Ireland. The introductions were in French - and I understood them! Then the poets would read in English interspersed with their poems read in French by others (sometimes the same poem and sometimes not). It was fun to realize that I know some of Boland's poems so well that I immediately recognized them in French.

John Montague reading

John Montague was definitely doddering, but he was an audience favorite. I enjoyed listening to Paula Meehan talk about her poetry - it's feminist influences and, particularly now, the environmental. She talked about the perils of fracking in Ireland. It's happening everywhere.


After a few spring days, we actually had two summer days. It was nice to sit out with everyone in the Tuileries where they have a zillion wonderful chairs you can move around - and nobody steals them.

Eglise St. Germain des Pres

I stopped into Eglise St. Germain des Pres between poetry performances, but couldn't see much of it because there was a service and the place was packed. I will have to go back just because I loved the colors so much.

Eglise St. Germain des Pres again

Even though I just stayed around the edges, I was feeling a bit intrusive taking pictures. I'm assuming that worshipers at the world's famous places of worship must be use to it to a certain extent - or resent it like hell!

Eglise viewed through a Cotinus

The church has some small, but very nice little gardens around it - one with a playground. I spent some time just watching the kids play.

Valerian growing from a flying buttress

Nights are short here - not much more than six hours. After dinner (which means after 10:00), I took a stroll over to photograph the Eiffel Tower - finally with my tripod. Lots of people out because it was such a beautiful night.

You have to be quite far away
to get it all in the picture

I spend a lot of time looking up because the windows and rooftops are so beautiful and it's mostly stores at eye level. People manage to have incredible gardens in the sky - trees and all. Most of what is modern in Paris is ugly. I think the French feel they have a talent for modern and they don't! The buildings are just atrocious and, when I was looking for apartments on the internet, most apartments have modern decor - again, just terrible.

Old reflected in the new

Not that I'm exactly thrilled with the patriarchy represented by the old.

Parisian pigeon

Looking up the other day, I say two young people on a balcony vigorously waving the flag that represents resistance to same-sex marriage. I don't know who they were waving it for - they were way up there. I assume you all know about the young man who was killed here earlier this week - a leftist and pro-gay rights activist.

Clement Meric

The day he died, I was going through Place St. Michel and there were police everywhere and TV trucks, but no gathering of people - except tourists - and no signs. I hadn't heard about his death yet, but Place St. Michel is where they held a memorial gathering, but I missed it. What I did think was that I had certainly seen a huge police presence in Paris. And lots of guns.

View from my window

One night about 15 or 20 police vans went screaming down the street. A short time later they came screaming back in the other direction. Then they were joined by about 20 more. Then a few young men came running down the street shouting - I didn't understand what they were saying - and waving the French flag. Only occasionally am I in agreement with someone waving a flag. A little while later a bunch more police vans. Some of them stopped right up the street for a while. Then they turned around. I never did figure out what was happening.

Parisian Wood Dove

France is interesting in its contradictions. So many Catholics and Muslims, yet same-sex marriage is now legal. So many smokers, yet they've got a lot of anti-smoking laws. The cigarette smoke outside cafes is almost enough to drive one inside - almost, but not quite.

Cafe on the rue de Rennes

The other night I had one of those long leisurely French dinners (now complete with Sauce Bearnaise out of a jar for your frozen Frites) and I watched all the thin young women around me living on nothing but alcohol and cigarettes. Next to me were two young women who were there when I arrived and were there for two hours - until 10:30 pm - and all they had for dinner was a cocktail and half a dozen cigarettes each. At another table, the young man had dinner. The young woman with him had a Bloody Mary and cigarettes. Next table over, two young women with a salad, a bottle of wine and, yep, cigarettes.

It's difficult to imagine eating one of these
huge, artificially-colored meringues

It's actually difficult to imagine this city as being left of the U.S. I know I'm in the "nicer" parts of town and looks can be deceiving, but Parisians really don't look as though they could possibly care about anything beyond their looks. And I've never seen more stores dedicated to that. It's hard to imagine supporting all those stores if appearances weren't an obsession. Okay, enough of my rant on that.

Place des Vosges

And, of course, I realize it is possible for people to be conscious and care about appearances - after all, I love the Place des Vosges.

Herb garden at the Museum of the Middle Ages

Another place I have to go back to see - got there just as it was closing - the Museum of the Middle Ages. I love the art from that period infinitely more than that of the Renaissance. But the gardens were open and they have what, I assume, is a replica of a garden that might be in a cloister.

A tiny park

This tiny park, with wild plantings, was across from the museum. A lovely place to sit down and read for a while. At one point there was a little girl on the balcony with the open door. She was wearing a tutu and calling down to her mother on the street.

View from my bedroom window at night

I guess I've rambled on enough. They should be showing up soon!

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