And Now for Something Completely Different

Gee, I’m still not caught up with my blog.

Meanwhile, Liz over at Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness has come up with a fun exercise. It’s all about getting to know your favorite bloggers a little better. Hey, it doesn’t involve waiting for photos to upload? I’m so _in_!

1) Do you have any tattoos? If yes, what are they and why did you get them? If no tattoos, why not?

No, no tattoos. Largely because I used to donate blood regularly and I think I’d like to do it again in the future. That’s always one of the questions they ask. If I were going to have a tattoo, it would be my own drawing of a fountain pen, about an inch and a half long. It’s one I doodle often. Where I would want it would be on the heel of my left thumb, which I think would be just way too sensitive. No one gets real needle tats on the palms of their hands do they?

2) What’s the best hike you’ve ever been on?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to say the hike that really turned me onto hiking.

I was in Iceland about ten years ago with my mom (yeah, she was teaching there!) and my eldest brother. We stayed in a primitive hostel at the base of a glacier and went out to explore a big gorge that had been formed by runoff. We decided to split up for a couple of hours. Mom stayed along the riverbed. My brother started climbing the sides. I went up top and hiked across this broad undulating meadow.

All by myself, heading toward the glacier. Perfect combination of sun and cool breeze. I finally realized that the cool air was coming from the ice. I sat on the edge of a cliff and looked down at it for a while, and then headed back.

That an another hike, this time with my brother on the island of Heimay off the coast of Iceland, were really transformative. I’d grown up spending a lot of time outdoors, but not hiking because it was northern Indiana, and that’s just not hiking country.

3) What musical artist have you never seen in concert but you wish you had?

Like, someone I actually have had the opportunity to and didn’t? Or the fantasy concert?

The fantasy concert would be, so unimaginatively, the Beatles in a small venue. I don’t do a lot of concerts because I don’t like huge venues. (I go to McCabe’s a few times a year, though!) But anyway, I got into the Beatles because my other big brother’s ex-girlfriend scribbled her name across his Rubber Soul album and he gave it to me in disgust. I really connected with those songs.

Or, or no! I take that back. Jim Croce. I love the way he talked and joked between songs in the recordings I have. Yeah, Jim Croce.

The more realistic… 8 1/2 Souvenirs. I love their music. Jazzy, with a sense of humor. But sadly, they haven’t released a CD since 1999, so I guess they’re gone. Sniffle.

4) What’s your scariest memory from childhood?

Ah. That didn’t take too long to come into focus. First I thought about accidents I had (there were kind of a lot in the year or two after my dad admonished me to settle down and act like a little lady and I kind of became reckless in response to that b.s.), but this one was the gut level scariest. The time my big brother (of the fabulous hikes, who is such a wonderful guy) jokingly closed the basement door when I was down there and then turned off the lights.

I’d probably gone down to get milk out of the basement refrigerator, including much moaning about being the milkmaid around there. I must have been fairly little because that brother went to college when I was 8. The only light switch was just inside the door at the top of the steps. In order to get close enough to turn it on, I also had to get close enough to get knocked off the stairs–which didn’t have a railing and still doesn’t (have I mentioned my parents built their house themselves, by hand?) –when the bro opened the door. Which he did repeately, keeping me stuck between the nasty dark and a fall. Eek.

If you haven’t grown up with a basement, you have no idea the vast amount of terrors that can be imagined in them. Ours also had a creepy well pump in a dark recess that made noises like a monster picking it’s teeth. Being not only stuck in the damp dark, but having to plead to be let out was just horrifying.

I don’t think he realized until he let me go just how awful it was.

5) It’s 2017. Where are you living and what are you doing?

My house will be paid off next year (2018). If development hasn’t become too heinous, I may still be here. If I am, I am writing and doing photography for a living and traveling somewhere interesting or to visit friends and family at least 6 times a year.

I have a feeling, though, that 10 years from now is kind of unimaginable. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d be in Acton. I could be living in Owens Valley, writing and watching the mountains go through changes and being involved in local historical and conservation efforts. I could be living in France. I could have gone the other way and moved back toward the center of Los Angeles, if my friends are still around.

But this does make me think. I really should take more time and envision what I really want to make happen and how to get there. Thanks for asking. This was fun!

Okay, fellow bloggers. It’s your turn!

If you wish to do this meme:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions. (They probably won’t be the same ones you see above!)
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Recon Day – Friday 5/18/2007


The view from the big double windows. We decided not to go for any museums or sights on our first full day. Just figuring out the neighborhood and settling in.

Mom did one of those wonderful mother things… well, she’d do it for you, too, I’ll bet. She’s a really nice person. She offered to take our two-weeks worth of laundry down to the laundrette a couple of blocks away and I could stay in the apartment or go to a cafe between here and there, and write. Great offer! I snapped it up!


I did wash out a few things in the apartment. Here’s one of my camisoles drying. In Paris!


After a while I went down to the bistro below the apartment and sat at a table in an open door writing and taking photos of people across the street. Like these two boys waiting for their parents to decide about something.

Went to the Latin Quarter, got caught in a downpour, and ducked into a fondue restaurant. Probably the most touristy and overpriced place we ate, but it was dry. And the fondue was good but my god, that’s a lot of cheese.


Saw this amazing street performer on the walk home. There’s no way to capture how amazing it was to watch him dance with this glass ball. He made it look like a bubble.


Back at the apartment after strolling the streets, we decide to cheer up the day-old champagne with some of the kirsch-soaked cherries Laweeez gave Mom as we left her house. Wow. A person could get used to this.

Le Chat Est Sur Le Voiture – Thursday 5/17/2007

Yes, I took one last photo of our beloved Kangoo before we left it in the Europcar lot at Charles de Gaulle airport, but I’ll spare you that.

We took a taxi to our studio apartment at 18 rue Geunegaud in the 6th arrondissment, which you’ll see is pretty fabulously located if you look at the map I linked. Easy to find yourself on a city map in relationship to the Ile de la Cite. Very near the rue de Buci, which some of the guidebooks list as a more real version of Left Bank streetlife than the more touristy (but fun) Huchette area. Picked up the key from the barman at the bistro downstairs (Balto) and used the combination to get inside.

This painting was hanging in the apartment. It actually looks better in the photograph than it did on the wall.

There’s a lot more info on the apartment, if you’re interested, at this website. Click on “Our Apartments,” then click on the top left photograph for La Residence du Pont des Artes.


Our first meal at what would become our favorite restaurant in Paris, the Bistro des Augustins. We liked it for the warm and friendly service, for it’s location between our apartment and the cybercafe, and–oh yes–for the food. They were out of gratins today, so we opted for a tartine (toast with toppings, in this case cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes and anchovies) and an assiette de charceuterie. That glop in the foreground was some sort of cured meat suspended in butter or possibly duck fat. Flipping amazing.


Here’s that chat I was telling you about. The one sur le voiture. I saw a woman smiling at it from her seat at an outdoor cafe somewhere in the 5th arr., and I stopped to snap a few photos. I started a trend! As we walked away, 5 or 6 other people revealed cameras and started making this cat famous.


Back to Shakespeare & Company. I am not posting photos of every time I went there. This is a shot of the Paris Wall Newspaper, written by the late proprietor, George Whitman.

Right before this I ran into a couple I know from Songmakers, in Los Angeles. Ha! Knew they were going to be there, and just bumped into them. Showed them the apartment. They were impressed with the price.

Ah, how nice. Capped off our first day with a champagne toast from the bottle Vladimir left for us.

Sources of the Seine – Wednesday 5/16/2007

Some fields just beg to be frolicked in. Who am I to answer “no?”

We decided we’d be better off in Paris if it was going to be cold and damp, so I called the owner of the apartment we were going to rent and asked if we could arrive a day early (on Thursday rather than Friday). Yes! So we started our slow loop back toward Paris, catching part of the wine road of Burgundy.


Yay! The rabbit-cam is a go!


Apparently, if you were bad in France in the 13th century, you might end up like this. Which begs the question, is there a link between the words gargoyle and gargle?


Looking back at the village of Saint Seine l’Abbaye which sprung up around the abbey (home of the gargoyle above) whose bell tower sticks up at the right side of the photo. Wonderful church with a man in knickers and stockings playing the organ inside.


So glad we decided to cut across toward Dijon on small roads. We’d have missed the amazing little park at the Sources of the Seine. One of the Napoleons (forgive me my lax note-taking, I thought this would be easy to look up) built this grotto and installed this lovely lady to capture and pool the first waters of the Seine in a small valley in Burgundy.
Here’s the Seine, narrow enough to step across. It had rained that day, and you could feel the water seeping out of the surrounding landscape. The Seine played a big role in this trip, from our encounter with the end of it when we accidentally drove to the port at LeHavre, right through to the end when we stay in an apartment just yards from it in the heart of Paris. (We even take a ride on it our last day!)


All through our drives, we saw cows of various types scattered picturesquely across hillsides. Making the milk for the 265 varieties of cheese France is famed for. This one could have posed for the sign at the B&B!


These cherries fell into my camera bag as I got out of the car after parking it under a tree behind the Auberge le Rabelais in Malay-le-Petit (dinky town!) where we stayed in that night. Loved the big old room key. Nice place, with each room decorated differently and pleasantly.

I took a bunch of photos of the cherries, but I’m hording the best for other uses.

Overheard in the restaurant over an amazing meal of pork with a lardon (chunky bacon) creme sauce: that the bright yellow in stained glass windows at some church was achieved by a monk who ate nothing but pigeons for a month in order to get the bright color in his urine. Those monks. They’ll do anything for their art.

Route de Vin – Tuesday 5/15/2007


Drove through the mountains toward the Alsace-Lorraine in fairly heavy rain. It was beautiful but slow going. There are a lot of forests in France. I mean, I guess…of course. Everywhere has forests. But you forget or you don’t think about it. It’s like you know on some level that somebody makes everything you own, but you don’t really think about that person who works in the hand lotion factory.


You are now entering castle country. Watch for falling serfs.


The narrow streets of Riquewihr, an old walled city. (This link has some really great pix.) We parked outside and walked in through a person-sized door. Many of the buildings have dates carved above their doorways announcing their advanced age. Lots of them are older than the U.S. of A.

We looked at a room in a hotel that was built in the 16th century. The hostess, who was dressed in light dominatrix garb, led us up a winding stone staircase whose steps were worn down in the middle. The room was okay, but we weren’t all that taken with the village. Maybe we were getting a little quainted out? Maybe it was a little claustrophobic, as Mom suggested.

We traveled on, lunching in the back of the Kangoo because it was too cold and wet to sit outside. We had quiche and bread bought in a boulangerie in a little town called Shirmeck, and finished up the cheese from Dormans (which might have actually overwhelmed us with its ripe aroma if we hadn’t done it in on that day). There were also vanilla eclairs. And a nice view across the vineyards toward wooded hills. Mmmm.


One of the handiest phrases I learned in French was “carafe d’eau.” This is how you get a carafe of water with your meal. I remember struggling the last time I was here to get non-fizzy water that I didn’t have to pay for. It was about impossible, as I recall.

I realized a bit late that each of the bottles that was brought to us was really interesting. At one place, they used old Jack Daniels bottles. At this place in Colmar (where we stopped for the night at the Hotel Saint Martin in the old city center), they used old wine bottles. It’s really wonderful. You actually see the structure of old bottles for themselves without labels, and it’s practical, too.

Bricks under purple light in the centre ville of Colmar at night. This isn’t enhanced. They actually had purple lights shining. Nice touch. After dinner, where we met some people from Cincinnati, OH, we stopped to watch some traditional dancing in a courtyard like this.

We’re about 40 miles from the German border here. You can tell by the architecture and the names of the towns.