Sanity Savers 4: Go out with the girls

Young mom having a citron pressé with a friend, early evening in a cafédsc03216

Do you know there are places in the world where women are told not to go out without men after 6pm?  Going out with your women friends, occupying public space, is not just good for the soul, it’s a political statement.  More about this in my next interview…

xxxxx Aliss


Stillness and Dancing…

Is it possible to keep an open mind and heart?DSC03113.JPG

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets

Thank you Marion Woodman for introducing me to these lines in your lecture, “Rolling Away the Stone.”

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris

Pavillon des Canaux, Paris 19…dsc03044

There is much to be thankful for:

Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day–
and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet
in our minds so be it.
Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
and fine root hairs: standing still through wind 
and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain
in our minds so be it.
Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze
in our minds so be it.
Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms and ways; who share with us their milk;
self- complete, brave, and aware
in our minds so be it.
Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
all bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it.
Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through 
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
in our minds so be it.
Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars–and goes yet beyond that–
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us–
Grandfather Space
The Mind is his Wife.
so be it.
(after a Mohawk prayer)
– by Gary Snyder

Paris Pulse (updated Sept 9)


August 25th: Olive tree and cedar, Pavillon du Lac café, Buttes Chaumont, looking down towards the lake, yesterday morning, Paris 19th…

Emerging from jet lag, picking up the pulse, listening to people, remembering questions from a US friend…How are we living with terrorist threats, what’s going on with the burkini thing?

August 27th: It’s taken longer than I expected to compose this in my thoughts, partly due to jet lag slomo, but also because of the emotional charge on these questions:

How are we reacting to the terrorist threats here? The consensus is that more incidents are coming and we’re doing our best to prevent what we can and prepare for what we can’t prevent. There are soldiers patrolling the streets. I don’t see them every time I go out, but when I do, I thank them. Never thought I’d see the day. But no, there are no soldiers in my 12 year-old son’s school, and still no metal detectors. He and I took a mass-emergency first aid class at our town hall this spring (see March posts). I hope I’ll never have to use what I learned. If I do, I hope I can stay focused enough to save lives, including ours. One million fewer people have visited France since January than usually come. This summer alone tourist expenditures are a billion euros less than in previous years. On the other hand, 89% of French households maintained their vacation plans and now that August is coming to an end, I feel the life force returning to Paris. There’s a lovely buzz of people in my neighborhood, walking, filling sidewalk cafés. Reality check: France is still 3 times safer than the US!

In fact, I had fears about going home this summer, based on headlines from the past year. Once there, I was fine. Front pages have to be kept in perspective. Which brings me to the second question, “What’s going on with this burkini thing?”

As I tried to explain stateside, the bans were local ordinances in seaside towns still traumatized by July 14th, and would be overturned by the judicial branch in due course. This is exactly what happened yesterday, faster than I expected, when the Conseil d’État (State Council, like an administrative supreme court) ruled the bans illegal. Around the globe, people were absolutely convinced the bans emanated from the French government because they read “French Burkini Ban…” in the media. I was blown away by the intensity of their moral outrage. As someone who goes to the beach in a shirt, hat, and sunglasses, I would never tell anyone else what they can or can’t wear. Have to say I did find burkini timing a bit odd, only weeks after the attack in Nice. Could it really be completely by coincidence, totally without an agenda?  I’m struck by the fact that the most virulent statements in the controversy seem to come from people who’ve never lived in France, don’t speak French, have no inkling of cultural history or daily reality here. There’s much more to say, about France as a “secular” country, pros and cons…

For a good summary:

Meanwhile, the words echoing in my head are “context,” “compassion,” and “humility.” Can we try to see that there are always multiple perspectives? Talking about all this has made me humble.  OK, so I speak a few languages and have traveled. What about all the countries I’ve never been to, all the languages I do not speak, the cultural histories and daily realities I’ve never experienced? So…I’m going to try to keep this in mind at all times in the onslaught of headlines, sound bites, and social media flare ups… Keep talking to as many real human beings from different areas of the globe as I can, to get their inside take on local and world events, think before I react….

To be continued….

xxxxx  Aliss


Lunch Anyone? (updated 16/07/17)

Le Cap Pont Marie,  restaurant on the Seine just across from the Île Saint Louis…DSC02720

Lunch break during the Paris Writers’ Retreat with Wendy Rohm… Even nicer now that traffic has been barred along the embankment.

Enjoy!  xxxxx Aliss


Coffee with Kisses

Due to a WordPress malfunction, some of the visuals display sideways on certain devices! Trying to correct…

DSC01577Hesitate to divulge the location of my favorite café, want to keep it all to myself… How do I love thee Pavillon des Canaux, let me count the ways: When you first opened last year (above)…

“My” big chair as I first saw it…DSC01602

Seen from across the water:      DSC02315 (1)

View from my table:    DSC02593

Ordering my latte:  DSC02659 And most of all:

Marion and Alexandra:DSC02366DSC02680

DSC02660DSC02661Simon and Lucas (Mr. Bean)…

Upstairs, downstairsDSC02145 DSC02066

Looking west along the canal: DSC02136This is how I dreamed Paris would be…

also on Facebook

xxxxx Aliss



Scene from a Café

DSC02480Recalling David Whyte’s poem, “Lost”…

“Stand still. 
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost. 
Wherever you are is called Here, 
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, 
Must ask permission to know it and be known. 
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, 
I have made this place around you, 
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven. 
No two branches are the same to Wren. 
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, 
You are surely lost. Stand still. 
The forest knows where you are. 
You must let it find you.”

There’s a presence in the streets, bridges, parks and waterways of Paris… Something that speaks to us, that we try to capture in words and pictures, watching the world go by from our windows.

To be continued…xxxx Aliss