Fourth of July, Paris

Independence Day Garden Party at Ambassador’s Residence, Paris, France: Calder with Old Glory…DSC02767

My secret identity as Scout Mom opens doors:                       DSC02768This week BSA Troop 112 was invited to present a flag ceremony as part of the Ambassador’s 4th of July garden party for Embassy families…

DSC02782The palace and grounds belonged to the Dutchess of Pontalba in the 19th century. Later acquired by the Rothschild family, requisitioned by the Luftwaffe during the Occupation, the property was sold to the US government after the war.DSC02773Large salons furnished with magnificent carpets, chandeliers, antique mirrors and furniture overlook the gardens.

DSC02776Menu: hotdogs, hamburgers, pesto pasta salad, focaccia flag bread, watermelon, cupcakes, softdrinks, wine and beer… Music: After La Marseillaise and the Star Spangled Banner, the Dixie Wings from Ramstein AFB, play old faves by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash, Blues Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Louie Prima…       DSC02771 Bouguereau’s monumental Friendship triptych near cloakroom…

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Cy Twombley…

DSC02777Louise Bourgeois sculpture and

DSC02779watercolor series…

DSC02780 (1)Willem de Kooning with Sheila Hicks…

DSC02769Reception area near main entrance…

DSC02772Grand staircase and equestrian portrait of George Washington…

DSC02764Special thanks to  Ambassador Jane Hartley for your gracious hospitality and to Kristyn Hoy for making this possible. To be continued, Aliss

From Angst to Zen

Friday started off as a bad morning, rushing to an early appointment for passport renewal, mind churning an endless loop of rehashed conversations. “I’m a buratophobe,” phrase invented by my Irish muse, Ursula, flashing across my mental screen. Take metro, find Prefecture annex, head to reception area with my appointment info. “Take a ticket by the door, Madame!” Backtrack, sit down, wait, observe flood of fellow citizens from around the globe, babies crying, people on cell phones… My turn comes, I hand over paperwork and pictures, agent struggles with temperamental panasonic scanner and computer software. 45 minutes later, I’m out of there with a receipt, finally see the world around me: thriving Street market, Place des Fêtes, one of the highest hills in Paris, fresh air, sunshine…

Color!DSC02753Abundance!

DSC02752From the French heartland!

DSC02751Flowers!

DSC02748Pungent spices and condiments from around the world!

DSC02747Salted herring, wines, you name it!

DSC02746Catch of the day!

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My heart goes out to all the vendors and shoppers, thank you for keeping this alive, every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday morning! I resolve to take time to make this part of my life. And then, just down the hill on the way home, this:DSC02744

Divine essence, whatever you choose to be called, please help me see the beauty around me, and count my blessings. Amen  xxxxx Aliss

Infinitely Small, Infinitely Big

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As chaos fills the headlines here in France, in the US and around the world…I find myself killing time in the lobby of Louis Vuitton HQ near Pont Neuf.  On a large flat screen, a documentary about the firm’s Minute Repeater watch. Extreme close ups of a master craftsman fitting in miniscule cogs, springs, wheels and gems. On another wall, a display case:  around an emblematic leather bag, colorful orbs suggesting planets…

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Sirens wail in the streets and I can’t help thinking how we’re somewhere in between the infinitely tiny and the infinitely huge. Life is in the big picture, but also in the details. Cosmic choreography and minute clockwork, cycles, rhythms… Against a background of unspeakable tragedy, a smile, a flower…

To be continued…

Meanwhile in Normandy

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Feeling fortunate to be in Normandy: more and more in love with swans, a wish come true to see a female nestling with her tiny new born cygnet

Paris is having a hard time: floods, antigovernment demonstrations and strikes, vandals roaming the streets. Friends of friends invited us to this paradise, a “teaching farm” near Ouville l’Abbaye, in northern Normandy about 30 minutes from the English Channel. If you are nearby, contact the gracious owners, Antoine and Brigitte Vandecandelaere and plan a visit:

www.lafermeaufildessaisons.fr

IMG_0636The house…

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Linen museum and farm shop: delicious local eggs, cheeses, garden vegetables, apples, apple juice, cider, pâtés, bread, pastries, handmade flaxseed oil soaps, bread, potatoes…a feast at your fingertips, plus linen scarves and socks…

IMG_0634Traditional brick and flint buildings + chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, peacocks, pigs, rabbits, orchards, meadows…

IMG_0633donkeys to pat and ride…

IMG_0639“Unique,” a white percheron who loves to roll in the mud…IMG_0637Flax (linen) crop and grains…

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Cliffs at nearby Veules-les-Roses…

IMG_0629Delicious lunch, lovely service and a ray of sunshine at “Comme à la Maison”…

http://www.veules-les-roses.fr/adresse/adresse.php?val=58_comme+maison

Of course, this is not where you wanted to be 70 years ago. The regional capital, Yvetot, was completely razed by the Nazis and rebuilt after the war. You can measure the destruction by the difference in architectural style between the old and the new…

Blessings to all those who gave their lives on D-Day, before and after, soldiers and civilians…

Thank you everyone for checking in so often although I haven’t had time to post very much recently. it has been a very full month, lots to catch up on… To be continued xxxx Aliss