Monday, October 27, 2008

Everything’s coming up roses...

Yesterday my son and his friend reamed my cave. I guess that sounds worse than the deed itself. In layman's terms... take an over-piled storage area, ruthlessly start chucking stuff. Have your kid take the refuse out to the street. Con his best friend into reconstructing an Ikea armoire in the newly available space. Fill said space with crap you will be reaming the next time around. Rejoice. Rejoice again cuz it's worth rejoicing over the reclaimed space in the living quarters. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Rejoice.

I should be at the Casino de Paris listening to Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten right now. But I gave my ticket to the above mentioned best friend. When I handed him the ticket this afternoon, he kept saying, non... non... then he ran out of the apartment. Whatever. I had my weird moments as a teenager way back when.

He came back with the above white roses. Mon ange. I think we'll keep him! ;-)

Things look swell, things look great...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Put a little love in your heart...

It doesn't take much to make someone's day!

I am working on a project that involves a "virtual team". There are several of us in four countries putting our minds together. The other day was one team member's birthday and we had a virtual surprise birthday party (via web conferencing) complete with hats, a blower, cards and flowers. We each created a birthday wish Power Point page in Google docs and shared it with the birthday girl. It was nice for her and a great experience for the team to bond this way.

What blows me away is that we are able to do this! The only thing missing was being able to smell the roses and taste the cake! I'm sure there is a genius out there who is working on that now.

Speaking of geniuses, the senior lunch the other day was a lot of fun. There was a total of 61 women in attendance. We took a little election poll and I want to share those numbers with you as inspiration. All the women are American, 40 have received AND returned their absentee ballot, 6 were still waiting for their ballots, 3 were voting in the US and 3 were not voting for whatever reason. The rest abstained. Those are incredible numbers! (If you haven't gotten your ballot yet, go to These women are all over 60, some of them are in their 80s and THEY have time to vote! (You see it's getting late... oh please don't hesitate...)

I saw Al Green a few years ago at the Olympia. He was amazing, the crowd never sat down! Here he is with Annie Lennox.

And the world will be a better place...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To everything, turn, turn, turn...

I've been taking photos of the trees outside my kitchen balcony... I started on September 26 when the leaves just started turning. It is now October 19 and there are only a few die-hards still clinging to the branches.

Speaking of die-hards (and I mean that in the nicest way!), since I hit the big 5-0 this year, I am now officially a "junior Senior". I received my first invitation to attend the AAWE Senior luncheon this Tuesday with about 40 of my favorite senior women. (Earplugs optional!) As their saying goes, "once a senior, always a senior!"

These women have been an inspiration to me over the past 15 years. Their stories span decades and "eras", their experience goes beyond the average American woman of their generation, and they continue to reach out to the newbies in France to share their wisdom. I'm looking forward to seeing you all!

We are also getting down to the last days of the campaign. I have already sent in my absentee ballot... Have You??

If you have registered but not yet recieved your ballot in the mail, go to: to get a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot. The FWAB is an alternative ballot for overseas and uniformed services voters whose ballots are late. Every vote counts!

A time for peace, I swear its not too late...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Deep End....

I'm going to take the advice of Skype's opening message... "Take a deep breath."

I just had the plumbers here. The bathtub drain was clogged and not getting any better despite the weapons of mass chemical destruction over the past few weeks. I finally called the plumber today expecting that they would be able to get here on Monday. I got the number from one of those cards that gets shoved under the door... you know, Infos Quartier: Electricite, Serrurerie, Plomberie, etc... They said they could come by this afternoon. Hoo-ray!

I should give you a little history... I have long hair. My son has long hair. This is not the first time this has happened. But, in our defense, it always seems to happen after la rentree. Here's my theory: in August, people are gone for a month, the drains in the building get limited usage... not a lot of hot water passing through the pipes to keep things moving, the goo has a chance to 'solidify' and clog up the works. Everyone comes home at around the same time and all of a sudden, the pipes go into overload and stuff gets backed up. Add hair to this equation. Still with me? Nod your head and say yeah.

So, this afternoon the plumbers (Actif-Services) show up. They looked like Dumb and Dumber. Ugh. I won't even mention butt crack. (No offense to Joe the Plumber!) They immediately go into the good plumber, bad plumber routine. "It can be fixed." "It can't be fixed." They pulled out the POWER PLUNGER. Mind you, I know that a power plunger goes for about 30-40 euros retail. I almost bought one a few years ago and I still kick myself in the butt (pardon my potty humor!) for not having done so!

They made a grand show of said apparatus and power plunged a few times. Now, even I know, YOU HAVE TO PLUG THE OTHER DRAINS AND OVERFLOW HOLES TO GET SUCTION. EXCUSE ME! I politely mentioned this to them. Dumb says, there must be a flood. [what?] Dumber nods his head and they go into my son's room and pull the bed away to access the pipes. There's no flood. So, they "confer" and Dumb starts writing up a big list of everything that needs to be replaced. Pipes, drains, sockets, wiring... Dumber is nodding his head in agreement. They present me with a devis for 998 euros hors taxe. All I'm thinking now is how much do I owe these guys just for showing up? So I asked them. Dumber (or Dumb, I can't remember who was good plumber in this) pulls out his power plunger again and says "We can do this, allons-y!"

Plot spoiler coming up: Here's a trick I am going to pass along in the interest of humanity. After power plunging for a few more plunges, he took the shower hose, removed the showerhead, and shoved the "hose" into the bathtub drain. He blocked it off with a good guest towel (grr) and proceeded to open the hot water tap full steam ahead. He let the HOT water run for a good three minutes or so, then whipped out the power plunger and pumped that baby a few more times: water, air, water, air, water, air, water, air... Guess what?

Yes, the almighty drain orgasm. That orbiting spiral of water, the release of a gurgling sigh as the clog gave up its soul... If I still smoked, I would have been puffing a big one. Ahhhhh.

Segue into the living room. This is where it got hairy. (Again, pardon my pun.)

Dumb (or Dumber) reworks the devis to a mere 568 euros. "A promotion!" My face must have been a visual for "are you out of your fucking mind?" because Dumber (or Dumb) immediately got on the cell phone to his "patron" to discuss the price. I pulled out the receipt for the exact same work on the exact same pipes done almost exactly 2 years ago for a total of 118 euros and 60 centimes. I also pulled out my checkbook and wrote a check for 150 euros. I got a friend on the phone in case I needed back up and I told them to take it or leave it. Dumb wrote up a new devis, added "prix promo", took my check, packed up and they left. Good riddance.

Here's a shameless plug: Do not call anyone (except perhaps the pompiers) on those "under the door" cards. Holley Duran is a reputable plumber. I used them two years ago and I should have called them back. (I found their old receipt in my 2005 books.) Go with what you know.

And away go troubles down the drain...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wild thing...

Whenever people come to Paris, one of the things they want to do is experience the food. Some friends from the US are here this week, but not for the sights. They are here for the restaurants. They are "Serious Foodies".

Let me introduce you... I met Tobi through an AOL support board almost 10 years ago! We have stayed in touch and visited each other over the past few years... she's come to Paris, I've gone to NYC. Tobi is a member of several other forums and boards, the topics include Paris, travel and food. Peg is a member of the travel and food boards. She's also a professional caterer in Atlanta. Jo (a friend of Peg's) and her husband, Don, are from the San Francisco area and come to Paris for a month or so every year.

We all had lunch together on Sunday at Brasserie Balzar in the 5th and the topic turned (naturally) to which restaurants they had been to on this trip. Jo whipped a sheet of paper out of her purse that I HAD to see. She has compiled an impressive list of restaurants and cafes that is broken down by arrondissement and includes price ranges and comments by friends and critics. She very kindly gave me a copy of it. It's better than a Zagat guide!

The conversation then segued into the variety of entrees, plats and desserts that have been tasted and sampled during the week. I was astounded when Peg said she had had cassoulet for dinner the night before and then ordered charcroute for lunch! (I could feel my arteries hardening by the second!) But, I totally understand the "I want to have all my favorites while I'm here" syndrome. I did the same thing in NY & Boston; Reubens, bagels with cream cheese, garlic pickles, lobsters... I won't even tell you what I go for in the South!

We met again for dinner last night at L'Epigramme in the 6th. I had the canard sauvage, the others had the cote de cochon basque. The duck was tasty and came with the added ingredient of buckshot. I have long ago learned never to take a solid bite into anything "sauvage".

I used to be quite a chef back when I had time to cook and someone appreciative of the efforts. In my old neighborhood of Suresnes, I had all my "guys"... the wine guy, the cheese guy, the fish guy... my favorite was my butcher. These are the people you really need to know if you live in France. I once got a gift of a dead pheasant. It arrived in a FNAC bag, its tail feathers sticking out the top. I had no idea what to do with it. So, I took it to my boucher and he did all the magic things that one does to make it cookable, charged me 25 francs and off I went. I called a friend whose husband is a chef and asked, "What do I do with it now?" Well, let me tell you... I barded that baby in bacon, browned it, then doused it with Calvados, threw in some onion and apple slices and let it simmer for a short time. I invited said friend and her cheffing hubby for dinner that night, et voila... I got the seal of approval! Kudos (and Calvados) all around!

We'll be meeting up for one more dinner on Sunday night before they all head back to the US. Not sure where we'll be dining, but it will be good, I'm counting on it!

You make everything, groovy!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Like a bridge over troubled water...

The last few weeks have been a journey through my past. Through conversations with old friends and "new", I am discovering not only who I am, but who my true friends really are. The memories being relived, back and forth, are revealing. Between what I remember and what a friend remembers, we stitch together pieces of our past that may have been forgotten, but which suddenly explain certain events and their outcomes.

This process is also revealing to me my choices in life and the different path I seem to have always taken given my parent's lifestyle and the choices they made. Moving around as a Navy brat, constantly entering and leaving neighborhoods/friendships/schools/states made for an abbreviated grasp on the meaning of long term relationships. I have lived in Paris longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. And I'm not French! It's not my culture, nor my country, background or language, and yet... here I am.

I am discovering (I think I have a little more learning to do on this subject!) that certain people who I thought I could count on are not at all who I thought they were. That is a huge disappointment to me. And others, relationships built slowly over time, have proved to be more than I ever thought they could be; I thank you for that. In your heart, you know who you are.

This has been a difficult journey. There have been tears, a lot of self-reflection and questioning of who I am on my part. I know this is a journey I can only make on my own. And I know that when the end of this particular path comes to its fork, I will have learned more about me and I will be ready to make my next move with strength and confidence.

I have a lot to go through in the next coming months. Life changes combined with today's climate of economic incertitude... I'll need to know who my friends really are.

Sail on silver girl...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Rainy day, dream away...

The heat has finally been turned on in my building, and brrr... just in the nick of time... it is COLD and rainy! My son came home for lunch today and left wearing a leather jacket and a scarf!

I've been watching the trees change in my "jardin" and taking a daily photo. It's amazing how quickly they are changing this year. A portent of a cold winter?

In the meantime, some friends arrived this morning from the US and we have tickets (row 8 center!) to see Stephen Stills on Sunday! Having just seen him with Crosby and Nash this summer, I am looking forward to seeing him on his own.

At the end of the month I have tickets for a show featuring Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten.... this is with my son, a friend of his and his friend's dad. If anyone can direct Dave Mason to Paris, let me know!

Short post, I have been digging on the cooler weather, slightly slower pace and satisfying work with good people.

Let the sun take a holiday...