Friday, July 5, 2013

Farmer's market, Parc Montsouris, and poetry readings

Still working on catching up while staying current. I will fall terribly behind once I get to Scotland and Wales. The house in Wales has no internet and who knows about the little inns in Scotland.

Woman with gadulka

I have seen this woman in a few places. She is with her sweet cat and dog and she plays one note on her gadulka endlessly. I'm not sure it qualifies as music. I posted this photo on Facebook and hoped someone would tell me something about it - and Frederika came through for me with the name of the instrument and that it's originally from Bulgaria.

Lavender in a window

Frederika pointed out that the woman has pictures of "Our Mother" on her instrument, which I had noticed. It doesn't really show in this photo, but the woman has a real look of calm about her as well as determination. I made my comment about Reagan and the homeless fending for themselves in my last post, and of course it was a joke. But this woman has the air of someone who has taken charge of herself - the contradiction of needing and not needing. I would wish her a life of playing her gadulka for her own enjoyment, rather than for begging. And I don't presume to know what she'd think of my wish.

Bastille Farmer's Market

Yesterday was the Thursday farmer's market outside my window. It was a busy affair. There is also one on Sundays, which I imagine is even busier.


I've had a lot of olives since being here. The cafes often serve olives with your glass of wine. I think that a glass of rose and some olives is one of the great combinations.

Cheese - these are from Italy and Portugal

I haven't bought much cheese lately. I can't eat it quickly enough and the refrigerator ends up smelling to high heaven!

Pig's ears being sold next to socks

I've eaten pigs ears before - no thanks. I'm not fond of cartilage. Though I once had gizzards and they were truly awful, but I've had them here in a salad and they were fine. Still not going to give pig's ears a second chance. 

Yep, all sorts of organs

This farmer's market (it's big!) didn't have a single stall advertising organic - and I was looking. And there was only one with heirloom tomatoes - called ancien. 

Lace items for sale, as seen from my window

Grinding out Edith Piaf

This man was below my window grinding out Edith Piaf. I don't know if this is an old record player that is turned by hand or what. But it made for nice background music during the market.

Behind the scenes

This stall was across from my corner and there was a woman who seemed to be trying to bargain - I actually have no idea since she wasn't speaking French (though that might not have helped me) - and she clearly didn't get what she wanted. She walked away in quite a snit - empty-handed. I'm one of those bourgeois WASPs who can't stand the thought of bargaining.

Ingredients for ratatouille -
well, not the lavender and cherries

I made ratatouille last night, from my farmer's market purchases, to go with a roast chicken (not dried out!). The notebook that comes with this apartment recommended going up to the rue Oberkampf for roast chickens. So I walked up there - it's another of the trendy areas that means begging, drunks, garbage, US chain "restaurants" and Asian take-out. 

More farmer's market

I walked the length of the street and found no roasted chickens. Walking back, I realized that I had just been too early. If you eat dinner at 8:00, you're not going to find roasting chickens at 5:00. I'd stopped for a citron presse, so it was now later. So there were the chickens in little meat markets that had clearly been there for many decades with customers who were my age or older, who had probably been shopping there for decades as their neighborhood changed around them. 

Old windows

The chicken and the ratatouille were delicious and I have leftovers to go with an omelet (organic eggs from the little organic market around the corner).

Do I remember the name of this poet? No.

I've been to several poetry readings. It's a big city, so there are lots, even in English. The one pictured was supposed to take place in a separate room of a very large cafe/restaurant, but there was a mix-up and it ended up in a side room that opened on to the bar.

Again, no name.

There was a salsa dancing lesson going on in the bar and these poor poets - some who had traveled to perform - had to try to be heard above the din. They were very patient and good humored about it. It was certainly not the best poetry reading I've been to and I'll never complain again about the sound of an espresso machine in the background.

Outside a poetry reading -
Culture Rapide

It reads something like "It's necessary to be suspicious of words." This place holds a poetry reading every week and is next door to the organization that organizes poetry slams.

More graffiti at Culture Rapide

The reading is supposed to start at 8:00, but it really happens when the organizer gets his act together - which was after 9:00 when I was there. It's a mostly young crowd - mostly British with plenty of US and a few French thrown in. The reading goes for hours. The place is essentially theirs for the night and it can go until after midnight.

Heavy accent - Liverpool? -
I don't know

This poor young man had decided to strike up a conversation with a lovely young thing. I was within overhearing distance and he was very brash and trying to impress until..... I can't remember how they got on the subject, but she ended up explaining to him that "you know, sometimes we have to make sacrifices and, um like, kill civilians, just like at Hiroshima." That argument went on for some time - I think he wiped the floor with her - and by the time he got up to perform, he'd given up on her.

Claire Dyer

I really enjoyed the featured reader - she and her husband sat at my table. Her poetry is principally based in the details of everyday life. She had come over from England for one night to read. She is originally from Wales - on the coast near Cardiff - and she told me how much she misses being near the sea. She lives outside London and teaches (as do so many poets).

Me - reading with my mouth closed

I read for the first - and only - time since coming here. I was far and away the oldest in the room - the poet's husband being next oldest and Claire, who is 50. They were all very nice to me, as the British are to old people.

Just some silliness sent to me
by my cousin, Barbara

I mentioned it before, but I really feel that I look a lot older since coming here. I thought relaxing was supposed to slow that process down! More grey hair! More wrinkles! My knees really do give me a lot of trouble. I live on aspirin because I don't want to stop walking the streets of Paris. 

A beautiful old door thats older than I am

I am a little apprehensive about hauling my suitcase on and off buses and trains in Scotland. I think I'd have narrowed myself down to two places in Scotland, rather than five, if I'd been planning less optimistically.

Parc Montsouris

While I was still in Montparnasse, I went to Parc Montsouris, which is on the southern border of the city. It is across from the Cite Universite, where Chuck and I stayed when we were here in 1973. I went to this park quite often then.

Black swan at Parc Montsouris

There was a lot about the park that I didn't remember - coming in from the "wrong" corner was part of the problem. At first I felt as though I'd never been there - though I definitely remember the swans. 

Coquelicots - poppies

There are buildings looming over the eastern edge of the park - which is where I used to go because of the pond - and I don't remember the city's feeling so present.

White swans at Parc Montsouris

And from these photos, you'd never know that the park was packed with people that day - a warm Sunday. I hardly remember anyone at the park, but I imagine nice Sundays must always have been busy.

I remember eating right here in 1973 -
Chateaubriand, good frites, and great Bearnaise sauce

The park had a restaurant we just loved - it's still there and quite expensive. The food we had is no longer on the menu. I really learned to love Bearnaise here - they would give you extra for the frites if you asked.

Marais restaurant on a little back street -
Le Temps des Cerises

"Le Temps des Cerises" is a song written in 1866 by Jean-Baptiste Clement. It is connected with the Paris Commune. It was made popular more recently by Yves Montand.

When we sing the time of the cherries,
And the merry nightingale, and the mocking blackbird
Will be celebrating !
The pretty girls will go wild
And the lovers will have sunshine in their hearts !
When we sing the time of the cherries,
The mocking blackbird will be singing much better !
When we sing the time of the cherries,
When we go picking in a dream*
Drop earrings...
Love cherries in similar colours,
Falling under the leaf like drops of blood...
But it is quite short, the time of cherries,
Coral pendants which we pick in a dream !
When the time of cherries has come,
If you fear unhappy love stories,
Avoid the pretty girls !
I, who do not fear the cruel sorrows
I shall not live without suffering one day...
When the time of cherries has come
You too will have unhappy love stories !
I shall always love the time of cherries,
It is from those times that I hold in my heart
An open wound !
And lady Fortune, albeit offered to me
Will never be able to soothe my pain...

I shall always love the time of cherries
And the memory I hold in my heart !

I found this restaurant while wandering around back streets and I liked that it didn't have the same old menu. When I went back for dinner, there were plenty of French people, but more US than I expected. Turns out it's recommended by Rick Steves.

Another shadow-painted building

I had a potato and sausage salad - the sausage made with pistachios and the vinaigrette with raspberries - and a rare duck breast with sauteed bananas and a sauce made with figs. Best meal I've had. My little table was touching the table of the father and daughter sitting next to me. They were US and were discussing her college plans - there was absolutely no way to keep from overhearing. From her descriptions of what she wanted, I kept wanting to lean over and ask if she had considered Brown. Then her father said, "Have you thought about Brown?" So, naturally, I had to interrupt and we ended up talking together for the rest of the meal. He teaches law in San Diego and Malta. She wants to be a writer or an artist or..... They were politically progressive and had enjoyed the Pride March. The daughter was Green. They were Jewish and we even got along on the issue of Palestine.

More graffiti

The father said that there is almost no crime in Malta - that such a small and confined community is a place where, not only does everyone know everyone else, but cares (operative word!) about everyone else. It was nice to have people to talk with during dinner. Most of the time I don't miss that - and try to make sure I have one dinner a week alone when I'm in Santa Rosa - but occasionally I feel the lack and this was a nice treat.

My purchases - with the market outside the window

And I apologize if I've repeated anything. I don't look back and I'm never sure.

Flowers by the canal

And here's a better shot of the cat and dog!


  1. Great photos again Susan. I love the shadow painted buildings. Did you really sit next to a father and daughter talking about Brown? That seems je'n sais quoi (?) Increible!

    You've mentioned the food quite a bit, bad at first but sounds like it's better recently. Eat on. Have you tried pig's ears? I think you should try them again.

    Sorry to hear about your knees. I hope you can manage in Scotland and Wales. Wow time is passing!

    I'm beginning to hike again, carefully. Picked a bunch of native blackberries at Pt. Reyes the past two weekends. Yum.
    Take care.

  2. Well, the blackberries are out a lot earlier than last year. Maybe I'll miss them. And, if you're getting stronger (yay!), why am I not? And, no, I will not try pigs ears!