Friday, July 12, 2013

Gardens and more gardens

I've been seeing quite a few gardens lately.

Claude Monet at Giverny

And I finally made it to Giverny. I almost didn't go because I was worried about crowds, but it wasn't bad at all, though it did take some doing to get photos without people in them.

Water lilies at Giverny

This place is so gorgeous! You know all the photos you've seen in books? It really looks like that!

Claude Monet's house

The rooms in Monet's house were beautiful, too. Nice life if you can get it! It is full of the Japanese prints that influenced his art. My mother would have loved it (I don't think she ever made it here - she was not a fan of gardens). There were so many Utamaro prints - her favorite. Unfortunately, they didn't allow photos inside, even without flash - of course, people with cell phones always cheat.

Lily pond

There was no way to take pictures of the bridges over the pond - as in the paintings. They were always covered with people. I would think people would want photos that replicate the paintings rather than views from the bridges. I guess other people aren't as logical as I am!

A break in the shade

The town itself is small and old and many of the houses have been converted to B&B's and such. It was a nice stroll and there weren't many people about, which is always a treat.

Giverny B&B

Flowers everywhere throughout the town - particularly hollyhocks, lilies, and roses. I enjoyed the train ride there - the usual mix of pretty and ugly. We spent a lot of time riding along the Seine.

Jardin des Plantes

And I went to the Jardin des Plantes, where it was lovely to walk and sit under the big shade trees - sometimes chestnuts and sometimes sycamores. What's with Californians and trees? Most of my landscaping clients don't want shade and they don't want their views blocked. Paris knows better.

Chestnut leaves

This garden is filled with lots of different kinds of gardens, including a wild garden, a Mediterranean garden, rose gardens, herb and vegetable gardens, etc.

Mediterranean garden - filled with plants
we plant in California

The whole place is watered with hoses and moveable sprinklers - almost 60 acres worth. And they were watering away because the rain has come to an abrupt halt. And I assume they don't use chemicals. There were birds and bees everywhere!

Pink greenhouse

I did some wandering around the vicinity and came upon this little store with Sinatra filling the street.

Paris Jazz Corner

I love the way just wandering around leads me to streets I've never seen before, quickly followed by ones I've been on often. Sometimes I'm surprised by how close one "attraction" is to another. And despite all the places I've seen and streets I've walked, there are whole areas I've missed. This little blue store is right across the street from the Roman ruins where gladiators and lions fought.

Now the scene of pick-up soccer matches and
spectators sit where gladiators and lions waited

Some places just require multiple visits - Luxemburg Gardens is one of them. The other day I decided to go and enjoy the different areas within the garden - again.

Medici Fountain reflections

It was that usual beautiful time - 6 to 8 - when everyone is just hanging out and relaxing. I'm definitely not the only one who brings a book. Reading, eating, drinking, talking, playing with children, kicking around a soccer ball, making music. As I overheard one guy say, "This is one of the great social events of the world." Yes!

Enjoying more of those wonderful trees

As usual, I got to overhear conversations. It's amazing how many people are in Paris together who haven't been in a relationship for very long - at least judging by how much they have to tell each other about themselves. It's fun to listen. My version of the NSA, except I don't know anyone's name.

He looks cool, but I saw his face plant when he
landed a few minutes before

One couple was sitting and eating crepes and he asked her what she thought of them. She replied, "Edible." He said, "Remember this moment when you are eating my German pancakes. I've never made them for you." (Aren't you glad I carry around my little notebook?) Later, she said, "Even if we only came to the Luxemburg Gardens, this trip would be perfect."

This looks kind of lascivious to me

As I was leaving the Gardens, I realized that it had probably been my last visit - ever. During my previous visits, I just assumed I would be back someday. And that was true. But this time, the odds of my returning are slim and, spoiled as I am, it's difficult to realize I won't be back.

Sunset from my window

And it has taken me a while, but I realize that I don't need to be doing something every minute. I'm not wasting my time in Paris, if I'm not out on the street. Sometimes I just hang out in my apartment and I'm very aware of being in Paris. It's so completely outside my windows. Hell, my windows are Paris!

My Parisian window - inside and out

But maybe someone can help me with this one. When I was in Santa Rosa, I was very sedentary - a habit that started with my arthritis. But here I walk a lot - aided by the temporary use of lots of aspirin. Most days I walk around four hours - that doesn't count sitting at cafes, riding the Metro, and such, it's the walking, though I should call it strolling since I'm not exactly striding out.

Hollyhocks are everywhere

I also climb a lot of stairs since I've come here - in Santa Rosa, rarely. There are a LOT of stairs in the Metro. And I was up one flight at my last apartment and at this one I'm up two flights. And despite how much I mention food, I actually eat less here than at home. So explain to me why I am not one bit stronger than when I left? Why do I have no more wind? None of it makes sense to me.

Old doors

And a word of warning, when I get back I'm going to be totally useless to anyone. Except for the walking, I have become so lazy. I've become so totally used to doing what I want, when I want - or not doing what I don't want to do - that's it's impossible to imagine going back to real life.

More of Monet's garden

Before I left, I wondered if I'd get bored with this. So far, the answer is a big "no!" So don't expect too much of me at first. Yep, I'll be worthless.


And life's on a completely different schedule. Right now, it's 2 am and they are partying out on the street - it's the beginning of Bastille Day weekend and people are gearing up. Singing, breaking bottles, etc. And whether I eat out or make dinner at the apartment, I'm rarely finished before about 10:30. And you can't just go to bed after dinner.


Often, after I've been out all afternoon and evening and I'm arriving back at my neighborhood and it's between 8 and 9 p.m., I watch everyone sitting at the cafes and walking around and I just don't want to go back to the apartment. I want to save money by cooking at home, but I watch everyone just enjoying themselves and I don't want to be the only one headed home - of course I'm not, but it feels like it.

Outdoor seafood display

The other night I made a very nice meal at home, but I just wanted to be at a table on the street. I don't care much about being alone (I see very few people dining alone), because in or out, I'm eating alone. It just feels so much more fun "out for the evening."


I'll never be able to come back to Paris because I spent all my money eating out! I'm glad I'm figuring out how to find better food. Wish I'd been able to do it while the family was here. Partially, I think it's that this neighborhood has better, more current restaurants.

Little Italian restaurant

At this restaurant, the waitress would go outside and take orders through the window for the table by the window. It was very noisy and the couple next to me was speaking French and I have a really hard time understanding the French when there's a lot of noise - I have enough trouble eavesdropping when there isn't noise! Anyway, I have no idea what the guy was talking about except I heard the words "militarisme," "journalisme," "Suez," and "General Petreus." Naturally, I wanted to interrupt, but I refrained.

This would be me modeling for Maillol,
but my waist's not that small

Anyway, the guy leaned over and took some bread out of my bread basket. Didn't even ask until after the fact. Anyway, I took it as my chance to talk to him. I told him why I was interested and either he really didn't speak English or I scared him off. All I could get out of him was that his dream is to visit San Francisco.


Oh, I thought the shouting had stopped, but it has started again. It's real late, so I'll go to bed anyway. I usually manage to fall asleep quickly despite it. Must be all that walking!


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