Paris/COVID: What now my love?

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Take out survival strategies at local restaurants

Recently, this meme popped up on my FB feed:

“At this point I’m about 97.5% feral and won’t be able to be integrated back into society.”

Yep! Covidophobia or Covidophilia?

Many people I talk to are either refusing to deconfine or dreading the prospect. I admit, I have to force myself to go out even on a beautiful day and I hyperventilate when swarms start forming or people get too close, probably not a great idea right now even with a mask…

I’ve never been a crowd person. Arriving in Paris from US suburbs, with limited big city smarts, I avoided large groups from the get-go, especially on public transportation. Until the day a respectable-looking businessman wagged his limp member at me through his open trench coat when I was sitting at the deserted end of a Metro car, where no one else could see what he was doing. This was horrifying in itself but even worse because his organ resembled a bald, dead turkey neck and I was too young and scared to know what to do. Ever after I chose to surround myself with other humans whenever possible, betting on safety in numbers. I bit the bullet going to work at rush hour, squished between shoulder bags and backpacks. I baked in 2-hour lines 5 deep at Disneyland Paris without complaining  just to see the thrill on my kids’ faces once we got on the ride. Tried out the huge stadiums for concerts, but prefer more intimate venues. Jostled and prodded through countless grocery store check-out single files, I developed ingenious personal space strategies. You see, France is not traditionally a place with the same queuing etiquette as the US, not to mention hygiene (with excesses on both sides I grant you). So for me, social distancing is literally a breath of fresh air. Thank you COVID. Thus far I don’t miss mass transit, but I do miss air travel. How else will I return to the States to see my loved ones there? No way I’m getting on a boat.

Other things I don’t miss: the factory atmosphere of industrialized education, with kids in quadrants of 20-30 (and more), formatted by age, herded along as if on conveyor belts with productivity  quotas and evaluations administered by too few overwhelmed adults, and little one-to-one attention. As long as we’re starting over, how about getting rid of factory farms?

Things I’m glad to “get back” to: recycling and composting, street cleaning. Things I can’t wait to experience again: cafés and restaurants, museums, open parks and swimming facilities (but what will they be like?). For info, the Mayor of Paris is installing the fresh water swimming area on our canal (will it be mobbed?)

Will I miss the cheek-brushing French air smooch it took me so long to get used to? Will it come back?

Confinement has been a crucible for relationships, making them or breaking them.  Are some of us turning into plants?

Maybe not such a bad thing? Whatever the case may be, this video is gorgeous:

Can we learn symbiosis?

Forward into uncertainty!

xxxxxx Aliss

 

Total Van Gogh

Whatever else you plan in Paris this summer, put Imagine Van Gogh on your list:DSC03593

“The brain child of Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, technology in the service of art, plunging the spectator into the heart of each work to feel the artist’s creative emotions… Admire Starry Night, Irises, and Sunflowers…Vincent’s Room,” along with actual photographs of Auvers sur Oise, its wheat fields, people and places Van Gogh knew. Sound track by Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Delibes ou Satie.

http://www.imagine-vangogh.com

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DSC03592DSC03596Information in English:

http://www.sortiraparis.com/arts-culture/exposure/articles/143279-imagine-van-gogh-the-immersive-exhibition-at-the-grande-halle-de-la-villette/lang/en

The show’s designers previously staged an immersive art experience in magical Les Baux Provence, La Cathédrale des Images. If  you’re in that area make sure to see “Carrières Lumières” http://carrieres-lumieres.com

xxxxx love, Aliss

Dreaming on the Sky

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Looking up, projecting inner visions on the sky, our infinite screen, opens imagination.  What do we want to take with us into the New Year?  What do we want to leave behind?  What bridges do we want to cross?  What do we love so much that we can’t not do it?  When we put our hearts fully into a dream, it changes us and our “reality.” Most people hate the word commitment, but here’s another way to look at it:

“As long as we are not committed, doubt reigns, the ability to withdraw remains and inefficiency always prevails. Concerning all acts of initiative and creativity, there is an elementary truth,the ignorance of which has countless consequences and aborts splendid projects. At the moment we fully commit, Providence also goes into motion. To help us, all sorts of things take shape, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. An entire chain of events, of situations and decisions create in our favor all manner of unplanned incidents, meetings, and material support that we would never have dreamed of encountering on our path…Everything you can do or dream of doing, you can venture. Audacity contains genius, power, and magic.”  W.H. Murray, The Power of Commitment

Let’s throw our big dreams for ourselves and the world into the sky: health, happiness, creativity, abundance. No dream too big to come true.

Happy New Year! xxxx Aliss

 

Love Forever True

DSC02401I’m inspired by these two creatures living on the canal around the corner from my building. Year in year out I see them swimming together, cob and pen, raising their cygnets, feeding, flying over the water.

If there’s one thing I wish everyone for the New Year, it’s love.

xxxx Aliss

 

Yet In Thy Dark Street Shineth

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Joyeuses Fêtes=Merry Christmas and Happy New Year=Happy Holidays

The waters of life continue to flow in tears of sorrow and tears of joy. My friend Marilyn lost her young daughter this week and yet in darkness she was a source of light, giving thanks for the years they had together and allowing her child’s life to give life to others. Thank you to everyone in distant countries holding her in their thoughts. I believe the love we send out is never lost and maybe even saves the world. As we start another trip around our sun, our moon reflecting its light, I’m grateful for my family, friends, and home. Wishing you all radiance….

Christmas Countdown

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This is our advent calendar, one of my favorite Christmas rituals 🙂
Every night from December 1st to 24th, I put a china figurine
(collected from years of Epiphany king cakes) into one of the little drawers with a tiny chocolate. I start out with toys and animals and gradually
switch to the Nativity theme so that a tiny baby Jesus in the manger is in
the last drawer. It’s pretty intense, like being the Tooth Fairy every night for three and a half weeks, but my son loves it, of course. Sometimes I forget to do it before I fall asleep and have to run frantically to my secret figurine and chocolate hiding places, and sneak them into the calendar before he sees me! When my daughter was at home, I was doing double
duty with her calendar, a big felt hanging Christmas tree
with numbered pockets. Traditionally, the treat is just a piece of chocolate, but one year in a commercial calendar I bought, there were little plastic
gumball machine toys in the windows as well. I could never find one of
those again but saved the toys and put them in the next year’s
calendar compartments with a chocolate. It was always really fun seeing
how the kids reacted to a tiny plastic hotdog, a roulette wheel, or a pair of
dice. Then I got the idea to use the king cake “fèves” (“beans”) 🙂
Trying to keep journaling, something I’ve done since childhood. Unstructured-blowing-off-steam-not-meant-for-prime-time, it helps me stay focused and make sense of non-stop barrages of information we all get every day. When I look back over the last month’s notes, I see changes, more fear, but also more love. If you have thoughts, please let me know.
Thank you everyone for checking in and liking or following my blog! It’s really carried me these past few weeks since November 13th. I love doing it and love your feedback!

Everybody’s Birthday

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In Montmartre today, Le Progrès caught my eye and matched my spirits.

7 rue des 3 Fréres, 75018 Paris, France (Montmartre) +33 1 42 64 07 37

In other news, we all got some pretty cool gifts over the weekend: COP21 agreement signed by almost 200 countries and a better consensus in the French regional elections.The Return of the Light feels like everybody’s birthday… Happy Birthday everybody!

Recipe for celebrations:

Deviled Quail Eggs with Red Caviar and Fresh Dill

Adapted from a pre-revolutionary Russian dish I tasted with Gleb Vladimirovich Tchijoff.

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You will need: a lot of time and patience, 18 quail eggs, dijon mustard, mayo,  a few drops of milk, red caviar (trout, salmon, lumpfish), and sprigs of fresh dill (plus water and vinegar for boiling, ice for cooling).

First off, quail eggs are the size of olives, so this is like making doll food. For best results, delicately place the quail eggs in a pan of warm water and bring to a boil, for 3-4 minutes depending on how you like your eggs, medium or very hard boiled. Lift them out of the pan into a dish of ice water. When cool, gently tap the eggs on a hard surface and then roll them in your palms to loosen the speckled shells. Try to slip your fingers under the membrane around the eggs to slide the shells off as smoothly as possible. If the eggs are too fresh the shells will stick and the whites will tear. This isn’t too serious because you’ll be able to shape them back together with the yolk mixture when it’s ready. Warning: this takes time!

When the shells are off, cut the eggs in half with a very sharp knife, scoop  the yolks into a bowl, and using a fork, mix with a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a teaspoon or so of mayo and just enough milk to get a creamy texture. With a tiny spoon, fill the whites with yolk mixture, sprinkle with grains of red caviar and tiny branches of dill. Chill and array on a pretty plate.

Your guests will be amazed 🙂

xxxx Love, Aliss

(PS In the original recipe, you just hard boil the eggs, cut in half and top with red caviar and dill. I like the deviled version even though it’s ridiculously work-intensive…)

 

All I Want for Christmas

Smiling reflections in La Géode, Parc de la Villette, Paris, a geodesic dome with Imax theater, inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Biosphere design for Montreal’s Expo ’67 World’s FairProfesseur NimbusThis morning my son and I attended a private screening of Space Explorers a Franco-Chinese series of animated shorts about creative initiates to preserve our environment, directed by Hélène Guétary and released in sync with COP21. Very inspiring! Coral nurseries, urban gardens, renewable energies, protected species, reforestation…all over the globe. Two shorts will be shown before all the big features at the Geode, one of my favorite destinations. Don’t miss it! Now that I’ve met Laurent Dondé, artistic director, I understand why it’s such an enlightened place. If you’re notin Paris, check them out on Youtube:

imageSunday is round two of the regional elections in France. I’m imagining a big turn out to  elect good people for our regional councils and governors, who in turn elect senators…Thank you Paris and Île de France, for not voting Front National. I continue to believe there has to be a way to protect our citizens and our humanitarian values.

Making deviled quail eggs with red caviar and fresh dill for a winter brunch tomorrow. When they’re done, will try to photograph and write out the recipe. Very work-intensive, but worth it!

Please send good vibes for the elections.

Love, xxx Aliss