Daily Life with Halloween Treats

We went to see Cirque du Soleil’s new show Totem last night. That was an extended bout of Present Moment Happiness! From shopping under the bigtop to holding my breath while the show was going on, it was awesome! I love Cirque, they bring PMH wherever they go. I’m not sure who had the bigger gasps, me or the 10 year old next to me.

Tonight is Halloween though, and I lovelovelove this night. I was something of a slacker with the decorations, but we did grow three beautiful pumpkins that are now on the porch.

This is the largest of the three, and today it’s more orange and dusky than when the pic was taken.  A year ago I’d seen a man at the farmer’s market cut into one of these. Deep orange flesh, and it smelled so very pumpkiny. I don’t know how else to describe it. So I set out to get a plant and grew them in the front yard. Musquee de Provence is the name of this beautiful fruit. Now we have three and I’m determined to make something wonderful from them.  I’m not big on the traditional pie. Might need some suggestions.

Gardening and the things one can grow- pmh for sure.

Things observed: We don’t get many kids for trick or treating, but man are they cute. Emily is fond of spraying them with Silly String. We will need many more cans next year. I love my new clown accessories. I’m glad we don’t have any chocolate left over. Perhaps we should grow more pumpkins next year.



This has been a tough few days home. I brought with me a headcold. Worst. Souvenir. Ever. And everything here is too loud. From the car radios to the barking dogs to the people talking at the bus stop. In English. I  miss the regard and respect for each others’ space that I saw in Paris. The civility. I love Oakland for all sorts of reasons, and I’m seeing more clearly how much work there is to do to be a place of calm and civility.

I’m not sure what to do with that. It’s just a major thing observed.

Pass me a tissue will you?

Joie de Vivre

I won’t lie, I miss Paris. I love Oakland and all, but I am wishing for the charming cafes and cobbled streets, the beautiful buildings and user-friendly transit system, the structural appreciation of time spent just sitting with a boisson and socializing or contemplating or reading, the overall joie de vivre of the place. You have to love a city where every metro station is decorated in a different way, and where the standard apology is “Je suis désoleé.” This means, literally, I am desolate at having failed to bring bread to your table right away, or about the fact that I can’t help you find the train station. Drama queens! But in a good way.

Still, it’s good to be home, as it always is after a trip. I did my usual Saturday morning walk around Lake Merritt/shop at the farmers’ market, and came home with yummy fresh food to cook, and the time to cook it. And the World Series to watch. That’s pmh.

About the blog: we purposely gave it a name that would support not just our trip to Paris, but any thoughts we might want to share about present moment happiness (in other words, about life) in the future (I know, that’s a little deep. Don’t think about it too much). So we might continue to post every now and then. Many thanks to everyone who read the thing–I never thought so many people would get so much enjoyment from it, and it was lovely to be in contact with you all, and to make a record of the trip that was shared along the way.

Finally, our trip home was pleasantly uneventful. At Charles de Gaulle airport, we found that we had forty euros and change left after the cab ride and breakfast–not a small sum. We could have changed it back into dollars, thereby paying for two exchanges….but we had a better idea. Duty-free shop! Here’s what we found for 39.90 €.

Yup, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with its own insulated carrying bag. We’ll save it for a special occasion….maybe a celebration when we book our next trip to Paris. Au revoir!

Last day in Paris or “I never can say goodbye”

It was our last day in Paris and dang it we were going to cram lots into it. It feels like we just got the rhythm of the city and the maps down and we have to come home. It will be nice, but gosh it’s incredible here. We have three lists started. One of thing we didn’t get to do (catacombs, Montmarte, the Arc de Triomphe) things we didn’t get enough time doing (Per Lechaise cemetary, exploring the Marais) and places we want to go back to (Aux Anysetiers du Roy, Reims.)

We started out early to head for the Eiffel Tower. It is full on October now. Brr.

One of my favorite bridges. As if I could really pick one.

Stalking the elusive Tower. By now Emily has started telling me what a small structure it actually is. Not that high at all.


I am rather excited though you couldn’t tell.

Up we go!

Wow. What a day!

Then I’m up to the summit. Em elected to stay at the second level. I have to admit that going up seeing the steel girders all around is a little unnerving. But once at the top…



Postcard shot. Not hard to snap in this city.

Yes we now have a lock on the bridge. I think it means we’re going steady. Or else we’re going to be exploring some new things. My French is not very good. Just kidding, it was a very romantic thing to do today.



Then we hightailed it to Per Lechaise cemetery where we only had about half an hour to tour and didn’t get to see any famous people crypts. It was quite remarkable though.

A very romantic dinner at Bistrot du Peintre.
Then it got even more fun. We had noticed that in a lot of places we were hearing American pop or r&b. This restaurant has quotes from Edith Piaf on it’s website and looked very traditional.
Silly me, I didn’t expect to enjoy or sing along to the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever!





You know that thing where you expect to hear traditional French music and have a quiet meal in an art deco place and instead sing along to 30 year old disco, get invited to do shots of something delicious and mysterious with the adorable gay waiters and dance with them while someone takes pictures with your camera on a cold October night in Paris the week of your birthday with your beautiful girlfriend?
I hope there’s never an app for that. Because that is amazing Present Moment Happiness.
Things Observed: there is never enough time to do everything, the Eiffel Tower summit helps you to conquer fear, Paris is so worth seeing from way up high, if you go to the east tower of the Eiffel Tower, the line is much shorter- or buy tickets in advance. Things that may bother a person at home don’t seem to in Paris, it’s not unusual to see female taxi drivers in Paris, the French live life from the details to the monumental, and enjoy the beauty in everything. I aspire to that. Merci!
Au revoir!

…and then the sun came out.

Ah Reims. Emily has already written about our excursion. It was lovely to say the least and I highly recommend it to my Champagne loving friends.
We took the high speed train and that was awesome. I kept thinking that LA is two hours away if the project gets done in our area.

Right away we found our seats and Em put her ticket down in a place where it promptly slipped down a crack and presumably into the trash. This picture was taken in case the conductor demanded her ticket. Here it is.

Just your average, everyday living wall. We had lunch, got some chocolates to snack on and the sun came out as we walked to Veuve Clicquot.

This was a wall we passed by. On one of those streets we mistakenly turned down. Big PMH there.

I had a brainstorming session with the widow Clicquot. She’s wise beyond words. Her motto apparently was “there is one standard, the finest.”

Can you say happy? Can you say Present Moment Happiness?

Emily enjoyed her glass very much. She was looking for seconds.

Watch for this flag to fly over our house. And maybe the store.

The train trip back to Paris was filled with beautiful scenery that we may not have seen if we hadn’t been delayed by four hours. Hey, time to read and paint!

And this is how I’ve felt all week!
Things observed: meals are less expensive and just as delicious outside Paris. There are more beautiful churches than even I can believe. High speed rail is amazingly fast. Unless it’s stopped. French people will go out of their way to help you if you need it. They will also stop walking right in front of you on the sidewalk. Tourist maps say it will take twice as long to walk somewhere than it really does. Some lovely souvenirs are made in China. Crepes are good. PMH abounds.

The Stew of Time

Today, we took a day trip to the city of Reims (rhymes with “rhymes”), in the Champagne region. We went by high-speed rail from Gare l’Est. When we got there, we visited a famous cathedral that is 800 years old, I kid you not.

The cathedral contained more than 2300 statues and some seriously cool stained glass, including this little number by Marc Chagall.

But our real reason for going to Reims was to visit the holy grail of champagne: Veuve-Clicquot. Luan was just a little bit excited as we waited for our tour. And here is why, per the infomercial on the wall: ” The effervescence is barely perceptible, but the emotion of drinking one of the oldest champagnes dominates the senses.”

We learned a lot of interesting things from Margaret, our guide, about The Great Lady, Madame Clicquot. And we got to go in the cellars. And you know that thing when you’re in the champagne caves and it’s all dark and stuff, and your guide wants to show you details of the tour but her little flashlight suddenly doesn’t work and she is upset in an understated French sort of way? Well, it turns out there’s an app for that….The flashlight app on my phone saved the day. And I am the hero of that story.


Above is Luan sitting by the stair showing that her birth year was worthy of a vintage (mine too btw).
All in all, a lovely day in Reims. We took a 5:15 high-speed train back to Paris, but the 45-minute ride turned into four hours after the train in front of us had an accident. We were quite comfortable, but it was a long while to be sitting in a non-moving train. I think we were actually sitting in this dish that I saw on a menu in Reims:

Here are a few more images, including Luan with her first crepe, and I am calling it a night. The weather is clear and cold and we are off to the Eiffel Tower tomorrow.




A rainy day in Paris is still in Paris

Well, no Eiffel Tower today. I want to have a view if I’m going up there and today would not have included one. Oh what to do? Shopping won the day as there are so many cool places right near the apartment that we would walk past and say we wanted to go back to. But being my birthday (did I mention that?) it started with…



…hot chocolate and a croissant! (new scarf #1)

This is the living room of the apartment. Just to the left is the kitchen island. What? The beret? Well, I have the most thoughtful brothers in law in Tom and John Doskow. They considered what I might most need on my trip and the beret topped the list. Imagine my delight! I’ll wear it when I paint, I’m sure. For now I’m keeping it safe in the apt.


Went to the museum of decorative arts. The furniture is Emily’s new lounging set. Again, keep dreaming babe.

Or her new office furniture. She’s pondering.

This is my new coat. That lovely woman is the saleslady who didn’t bat an eye when I said I wanted to try it on, she just made sure I knew it was a man’s coat and that was that.

Ho hum, just another spectacular top of a palace. The Petit Palais to be exact. Had lunch in the cafe of the museum there.

Have I mentioned how small the elevator is? We’re all that fit and not much else.

And finally, This was too cute not to snap.
Things observed: when Em says look at those shoes and I mumble assent and she yanks on my arm and says LOOK AT THOSE SHOES, I should pay attention. Every time we look out a window, Paris is right there. The best meals can come from the tiniest places. (Aux Anysetiers du Roy- onion soup, house Bordeaux, beouf bourguignon, creme brûlée. Tiny place on the Ile San Louis, great painted walls, two person operation and fabulous.) there are too many things to do and see still and too little time. PMH is abundant here.

Tragedy strikes!

About ten hours ago I turned 50! Oh, that’s not the tragedy, I’m psyched to join the club. Thank you to all who have showed me the way this year.
If you know me you know how much I love my Flip video camera. And if you’re reading this you know we’re in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Today somewhere between the Grand Mosque and The Paris Opera House I lost my Flip. You’ll have to trust that there was a lot of great video and thought “so&so will love this!”
I said earlier that I wanted a scarf and a scooter, and today I got the scarf. Okay it was after I realized that the Flip was gone, so I now have three scarves. Photos to come.
The day began with an almond pastry that was amazing. You can see that in my expression.

Next up the Jardin des Plantes. I pondered my options here. One thing the Parisians appreciate is their parks and open spaces.


Oh,and their big beautiful buildings.

Along with that bigger yard I want this for my toolshed. Oddly, all around the gardens were tools and other signs of activity but no workers.

I love all the sculpture that turns up everywhere. Yes that is a foot he seems to be finishing off. I think I’d rather make up a story for it than know the real one.

Again all things point to needing a bigger yard. I love the water inspired tile work on the floor.

Amazing tile work at the mosque.

My tajine for lunch.

Drama in front of the opera house.

This atop our house might be just the ticket. Set us apart from the neighbors.

Em’s new scarf. Pretty!
Things observed: the largest people here have cameras and maps, French schoolchildren, while cute and all, can ruin a lovely park moment (why do boys find it amusing to spit competitively?), I still need a bigger yard, the French appreciate and celebrate open common spaces, the assumption here from traffic to sidewalk etiquette appears to be that you’re not going to do anything stupid, sweet mint tea is delicious, there are no bad pastries in Paris, I haven’t seen an ereader yet- anywhere, but I’ve seen people reading books all over the city, on the Metro, in parks. I’ve also noticed that there are many many bookstores everywhere and not an even an ad for an ereader anywhere. Nearly every meal we’ve had comes to forty euros. Spooky.
And finally I’m observing that I couldn’t end my forties and begin my fifties in a more amazing and beautiful place or with a more wonderful partner. I am a fortunate woman.

It’s good to be king, or why we need a bigger yard

We spent the whole day at Versailles. I love palaces, old houses, historic gardens and the like. Good grief this place is massive.

I love that it’s situated so that the morning light hits one side, warming those rooms, and the afternoon sun hits the other side, making the grounds sunlit and spectacular. The palace itself was amazing.

Just a little chapel.

The hall of mirrors in case dancing company comes by.

The details are beautiful. This is a little doodad for holding the curtain sash.

Emily and her new bedroom furniture. Keep dreaming babe.

And of course a little art makes a house a home.
But the grounds were where we spent most of our time. It was a beautiful day and most of Paris was out enjoying it. Andre le Notre, landscape architect of the gardens has become my new hero.

The view from the palace terrace to the end of the Grand Canal. It’s a huge cross shaped pool that people picnic around, row boats on, and enjoy. To the right and left are “woods” with pathways that might have a fountain in the middle, or end with a grove of statues. There are interesting things everywhere.


And then finally got to sit and do a little painting.

Sitting by the Grand Canal at Versailles in Paris on a sunny day making a picture. Heaven.

Me and my girl. Another amazing day in Paris. And it’s not even my birthday yet!
(These are jut a few of the 125 picture taken today alone. Slideshow anyone?)

Modern is newfangled

Emily is right, modern art is something I don’t appreciate as much as others do. If it looks like it took about three minutes to create or you have to tell me what it’s trying to say, well, never mind.

These are Kandinsky’s paints though. He died in 1944 and his widow left his studio exactly as it was until her death in 1980.

This is the Arts et Metiers Metro station. Look what you can do with a little imagination. (I’m talking to you BART). From there we went to the Arts et Metiers museum.

It starts with very basic machines that have been in use for centuries and works up to modern computers and space travel. This is where we found most of the more enthusiastic male tourists.
Things observed: beer truck with the words Delerium Tremens painted above a pink elephant, people are very patient with those of us who speak very little French, both men and women dress with great flair, one must always have a map with one, always always always look up in any room or on any street for that matter, always look down for doggy hazards, and Americans should eat every three hours to stave off crankiness. I mean to stay energized.
Versailles tomorrow, Eiffel Tower Tuesday and Reims Wednesday! Why Reims? Champagne of course!