Paris/COVID: January Dark, Light and Defrag

A quiet but cozy Christmas, a euphoric New Year, then January. This candle sums it up for me. Visceral need for a flame braving the night, like novenas and menorahs. Magnetized early am to late pm. Visual of soul, faith, focus, wholeness, hope.

Since January 16th, 6pm curfew. Rushing to reshuffle schedules and habits once again.

Virus variants coming in from the UK and South Africa. No idea when we’ll be vaccinated.

Cloth masks no longer adequate say French scientists, WHO disagrees. CDC says double masks.

New lockdown may be coming, to be announced today or tomorrow. What will the restrictions be this time?

My mom has been in and out of the hospital.

Violence at the US Capitol a few days after New Year’s. Stunned by the extent of rage and bitterness in the US. An impending mental health crisis? I think it’s already here and has been for a while. Echoes of the French Yellow Vests, some of whom vocally plotted to storm the presidential palace in 2018 and do away with Macron. Somewhat muted now due to confinement and curfew. Seems worse in the US because abetted by government officials high and low.

With family on all over the map, I try to see the big picture, compare the narratives, separate real from fake, and understand where it’s all coming from. Banned videos sent by relatives vie for my attention with NYT articles. Everyone has a non-negotiable point of view on something: Abortion, Immigration, LGBTQ issues, The Holocaust, Indigenous rights, Slavery, Human Trafficking, Antifa, Police Brutality, BLM, QAnon, Corruption, Sedition, Guns, Hacking, Foreign Interference, Global Warming, Hoaxes, Vaccines…

How to reconcile the irreconcilable?

Suddenly it smacks me in the face. This is the story of my life. Unbelievably, 100ish years after the Civil War, it was still being fought, through my parents, one from Industrial North one from Deep South, and through me, born on the divide, with an actual blood incompatibility, as if the Mason Dixon line ran though my cells. Defragmentation isn’t just for computers and hard drives. I struggle to defrag every day, mentally, psychologically and emotionally.

So, on January 6th, I chose the original cast film of Hamilton, Act I over the headlines. A bit late to the party of course, but cathartic timing for me. I surrendered to the spectacle of the main character’s survival, ambition, genius, human failings, and tragedy, lifted at last above fatalism by his wife’s generous heart. I was mesmerised by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wit, melody, rhythm, humor, and scholarship, how the Hamilton story personifies the conception of our country and its misconception due to racial inequities in the lives of our Founding Fathers and their striking sidelining of Founding Mothers. Hip Hop culture meeting American History meeting Broadway, mostly White historical figures played by mostly POC… Hamilton reconciles the seemingly irreconcilable.

The next week, amid photos of DC as a fortified ghost town, I watched it again and continued with Act II. Ordered the CD. Kept the Christmas tree up until the last minute, filled in blanks with Christmas music until January 20th, Inauguration Day. Harris and Biden taking oaths, Gaga belting the anthem, J-Lo doing justice to “This Land is Your Land,” shining Amanda Gorman referencing Hamilton in “The Hill We Climb,” concert, everyday heroes, grace and poise under pressure, flags and fireworks. No one was killed.

Now a second impeachment and an American version of what the French call dialogue de sourds, “deaf dialogue,” people who don’t, can’t, or won’t hear what others are saying.

But also, a beautiful healthy new baby in my family, bright snow, even if just for a few hours a couple of days a week apart, and an only-in-France moment of comic relief: the French Congress voted a bill to preserve the sensory heritage of rural areas. This is a response to a case that opposed country-home-buying-city-folk to a rooster named Maurice that woke them every morning at dawn with its cocorico crowing. Of course this was boiled down in the US press as:

“France passes a law protecting smells”

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/france-rural-noise-law-scli-intl/index.html

“Roosters bells and cicadas” are now guaranteed freedom of expression amidst potent country perfumes.

Vive poetry, music, friends, cooking, working out, walking, creative projects, the fruits of our labors and defragmentation…

xxxxx Aliss

New Year’s Video Postcards

(Editing champagne typos!) In case you missed it… my new favorite sport is hunting for amateur Christmas lights in Paris. The city and local busiesses illuminate facades and streets for the holidays, but individuals never used to decorate their balconies and terraces. Now it’s catching on, every year there are more displays. Having fun with iMovie and YouTube…

Christmas on my street (figuring out subtitles…)

Happy Holidays at Marché Secretan

Happy New Year from Paris 19 (why don’t subtitles show up when you watch on your phone?) :

Enjoy, comment, send questions…

Happy 2021!

To be continued…

Paris/COVID: Thanks(giving) anyway?

My favorite co-working café a while back, will it survive?

A reminder I’m not my usual self: Christmas lights going up on our street courtesy of local merchants’ association, after all they’ve been through, made me cry, with gratitude.

Resetting holiday attitudes and expectations… I’m usually a grinch about the Beaujolais Nouveau event, third Thursday of November. It always seemed a fake marketing ploy dreamed up by the vintners’ lobby in 1985 to rake in cash with too-young, too-acidic beverages calling themselves wine. However…this year, I was treated to a memorable bottle with a weird name: Beaujo Beau from Domaine Anthony Charvet, AOC Chiroubles. https://www.vins-anthony-charvet.fr/vins-et-tarifs

Recommended by our favorite local restaurant owner Bertrand Disset:

https://www.instagram.com/labicyclettebistroparis/

Do check out La Bicyclette, his bistrot: real chef (Slavica Marmakovic), fresh ingredients, gorgeous creativity, charcuterie from l’Aveyron, natural wines, low prices, great press, offering take out during confinement, our family’s hooked.

Tasting this wine sparked my curiosity and I learned that Beaujolais Nouveau wasn’t invented in 1985, but is one of the surviving French wine festivals all over France, vestiges of traditional fêtes des vendanges, grape harvest festivals that used to be a thing. When I was a student here, all the French kids used to take off in the Fall to work in the vineyards and enjoy camaraderie and banquets prepared by the vintners’ families.

Live and learn! Vive le Beaujolais Nouveau! We need all the holidays we can get these days. This one is connected to a real terroir.

The other event I’ve always hated is Black Friday. How could anyone sully our miraculously non-commercial Thanksgiving with such a display of crass greed the next day? OK, I know Thanksgiving is an idealized version of Early American cooperation between indigenous people and colonists. When my kids were little I researched it so I could present it to them in good conscience. It seems that there was a historically-documented meal where “pilgrims” and native people celebrated abundant local produce and European survival in the New World (what happened next is less a reason to celebrate). Question: could our US Thanksgiving mythology be a template for future inclusivity and stewardship?

Meanwhile French businesses adopted Black Friday to my chagrin. But COVID has changed the context and when I see how small businesses are struggling, I have to welcome Black Friday for their sake. Reset.

And there are other things to celebrate this year.

No matter how you voted, a respite if not an end to election hangover.

If you’re reading this, congratulations for being alive.

If you’re a parent of teens in France: remote working means more adults are at home paying attention to the comings and goings of their teenagers, who have to communicate more about their outings: where, when, why, how long… to fill out the required dérogation. It’s become much easier to form alliances and keep them safe.

This helps us to find a balance between restrictions and permissiveness, keeping in mind current mental health challenges for young people: increased rates of depression, suicide and anorexia:

https://pro.orange.fr/actualites/covid-19-la-sante-mentale-d-adolescents-se-degrade-selon-une-pedopsychiatre-CNT000001v45pY.html

And… Thanksgiving is starting to appeal to a French audience! Monoprix features a special shopping section on their website:

https://courses.monoprix.fr/content/thanksgiving

….with a recipe for Pecan Pie that lists maple syrup instead of corn syrup (Gasp! my South Georgia ancestors are rolling in their graves!)

But upon closer investigation… maple syrup has 200 fewer calories per cup than corn syrup and contains actual nutrients contrary to its ultra-refined alternative! So perhaps a new era will dawn in that area as well?

Welcome news! Last night President Macron announced lighter confinement rules for the holidays, starting on Saturday November 28th when non-essential stores are allowed to reopen.

A final word: over the years I’ve figured out that I’m a pilgrim in France, grateful for all the support I’ve received from “the natives.” We expats watch Emily in Paris on Netflix and laugh at the cultural caricatures we recognize from our attempts to adapt to our French hosts, but in truth we all love France, we’re grateful to here.

Happy Thanksgiving from a pilgrim,

Aliss

Paris/COVID: The trip that almost wasn’t

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I’m writing this from upstate NY. Everyone I talk to asks, “Where are you?” “Why?” “They’re letting people fly in?” “Are you quarantined?” “Did you have to go through testing?” Here’s the story:

As an American living in France, married to a French guy, with most of my relatives in the US, I try to get back here once a year, end of July through August is the easiest time for us to get away and yes we take off 4 weeks as is the French custom (Vive la France). To get the smoothest deals, we start planning our annual migration for family time and US cultural immersion 6 months in advance, my ultra-organized male counterpart has it down to a science of frequent flyer miles, credit card points, membership rewards, the whole shebang, and this year was no exception. In early February, the virus was surging in Italy and Spain, but not yet in France and confinement seemed unthinkable (ha ha). Dealing with a lot of issues familiar to parents of teens, we needed to imagine ourselves and him in a less stressful environment. So we lined up flights, AirBnB dates, car rentals, and filled out day camp applications. Then the three of us got very sick with serious flu-like symptoms. A doctor on a house call asked if we’d been to China. When we said no, she told us to stay home, drink fluids and take paracetamol, which we did.  It was rough, but no hospitalisation, no test.

The rest is history: confinement, lockdown, borders closed, people dying. I gave up the idea of traveling. Managing day-to-day was the priority as you can see in my previous posts. When Hertz went bankrupt, that seemed a clear signal. We’d say goodbye to that fee. Other cancellation and reimbursement policies were unclear. Would we lose our airfare and AirBnB deposit? Camps were out of the question. Nevermind, the only thing that mattered was surviving.

Over the next few months, step by step, France flattened the curve.

One of my biggest fears was that I’d never see my mom again. Retirement homes were a disaster everywhere. Governor Cuomo switched the state of NY into high gear and my mom’s residence applied stringent precautions. They were 100% COVID-free for the next 4 months, but my mom was confined to her small apartment with no visitors all that time. She was amazingly resilient but very lonely. I called every day to check in, sometimes reading her funny articles or recipes, singing songs, telling her about our daily routines and how we were staying sane.

Gradually, France deconfined and NY state coped. Every day, I monitored statistics on the NYT

 

and French government websites:

http://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus/carte-et-donnees

In June, Governor Cuomo said outdoor day camps could open that month if they observed strict CDC health guidelines. Not only that, but my son’s Counselor In Training application was accepted and he could attend free of charge!

Then Air France cancelled our flight. Another sign? The email gave instructions to request a new reservation on their website, which of course had no information about this. All AF phone lines were saturated, with long waits just to be cut off. Not surprising since the whole industry was in jeopardy. On a hunch, I sent a message via FaceBook and unexpectedly received a new reservation within 24 hours. Doors seemed to be opening.

Activating my Franco-American info network to the max on social media and conversations on FaceTime, Zoom, and now occasionally in person, I threw out all my questions and concerns, harvesting ideas.

My son and I could still go to the states even though Trump banned travel from Europe, because we have US passports, but what about my French mari? US State Department website said yes. American women reporting on recent travel from France to US said they took their marriage certificates with them and all was well. OK!

But was there any point in going if we had to quarantine for 2 weeks? No recent info on State Dep’t site. Old info said yes, quarantine. CDC site said yes, quarantine coming from France. But is NY a special case? NY is quarantining people from states with outbreaks. What about France? Call Gov Cuomo’s press office. Press secretary gives me NY state virus hotline number: 1 888 364 3065. Nice woman gives me list of US states on quarantine list, but says no quarantine from France!

Another American expat friend sends me a link to Ann Swardson’s blog with pictures taken on July 21st of empty CDG, no lines for security, empty flights.

http://anneswardson.com/going-the-distance/

Could traveling be a possibility?

Suddenly receive news that a staff member at my mom’s retirement home has tested positive for COVID. Jeez, is this the beginning of an outbreak?  Even if I’m able to go, will I be able to see her? Via Zoom, the Residence director keeps us informed.  No new cases. No residents ill. Window visits are still possible and if they stay COVID-free, I might be able to have a real visit during our stay in the US. Dare I hope?

About this time is when news reports show seismic activity in Iceland and announce imminent volcanic eruptions! I get slightly hysterical. Then that dies down… But everyday there’s some kind of new uncertainty. A shock arrives from an unexpected quarter:

Exactly 1 week before departure, my husband says, “I have to talk to you. I’m not going. I can’t sleep, I’m having cold sweats. I’m afraid of getting or giving the virus, not being able to get through immigration, getting sick or stuck there, and I can’t wear a mask for the 12h trip door to door, and our usual health insurance doesn’t cover COVID expenses.”

Somehow I don’t freak out. Instead of emotional blackmail or manipulation, I ask him to wait a day or two before making a definite decision, so we can talk it over. “OK. I’m not going to try to convince you. I just want to show you all the information so you can make the best decision.” I realize what an exhausting year it’s been, we’re both nervous wrecks, we haven’t communicated about the trip at all. I remember what my friend Sylvia Sabes told me about the trauma expert who spoke to her husband’s co-workers: we’re all on a virus-induced PTSD timeline. It’s normal to be anxious and extra careful.

We set up a time to talk. I show him the blog pix of airports and planes, read him the thread on FB about Franco-US couples traveling CDG-JFK, evolving situation on French news platforms about getting back into France. There are fewer cases in upstate NY than in Paris. We should be OK returning as we all have French passports. We can research and purchase extra health coverage. I ask what will our son do if he can’t go to camp? I reassure that we can take off our masks on the plane to eat and drink, that will give us a break. I offer to treat him to a one-hour massage at our local Yves Rocher institute to help him relax, he accepts. There is hope.

Hertz stays in business, AirBnB doesn’t cancel. Camp says my son must quarantine for 2 weeks, then I send them NY virus hotline number, they get back to me and say son can come to camp after all.

Up until the last minute, uncertainty and stress. We pack, put on our masks and set off for the airport. Very few people, quick security checks, AF agents take our temps before boarding, we show them our French and US marriage certifs, fill out forms. Easy flight. 5 people in our cabin, AF staff very happy to see us. Meal and beverage service, inflight entertainment.  Disembark at JFK. Temps taken and long wait at immigration due to computer glitches and checking documents.

Drive upstate.

Friday July 31st, I was able to visit with my mom though an open window, wearing masks. We “touched” fingertips across a wire screen and both cried, tears of joy. It was enough just to be together again. If all goes well, we’ll be able to be in the same physical space before I have to go back to France.

So, a work in progress. We’re social distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, grocery store shopping. We had one restaurant meal seated outdoors 3-6 feet from our NY family. I wore a mask to an outdoor pool, no changing or showers, and swam socially-distanced laps. My son rode a yellow school bus to camp this morning, in an assigned seat, windows open, interior disinfected before departures, temps taken.

It’s a miracle to be here. Not easy but worth it.

To be continued

xxxxx

Aliss

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

 

Paris Lockdown: Today I sponsored a goat

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Day 18 (I think?)

In my last post I mentioned that a neighbor was hospitalized with COVID-19, on a ventilator and recovering. He passed away suddenly on Friday and all of us in the building are grieving. To respect the family’s privacy I won’t give details, but he wasn’t elderly, was the breadwinner and pillar of his family, devoted father, always smiling.

Of course we must stay positive and focused, on our gratitude for every day blessings and on dreams for the future.

So today, I sponsored a goat. Her name is Larmes de Joie (Tears of Joy) and she lives in La Drome Provençale, a department (state) of southern France halfway between Lyon and the Riviera. It’s in the valley of the Rhone river, foothills of the Alps. (Geography buffs please chime in?)

We’ve been supporting our local essential shop owners and workers as best we can, but feel helpless in the face of hardships endured by farmers and fishermen in France and everywhere, losing their markets, their helpers and workers… so many tragedies.

When I saw a post by Larmes de Joie’s owner on Facebook and all the pictures of her and her herd sisters on their website, it was love at first sight. Sponsorship is not cheap, but you get 2k (5 lbs!) of cheeses delivered to your door, some fresh to eat right away and some that can keep for a long time. Raw milk goat cheese is so essential to France’s lifestyle, culture and endangered microbiome that I decided to go for it. The goat farmer, Claudia, has given me permission to share her website:

https://les-fromages-de-chevre.mywizi.com

Her story is very inspiring:

https://les-fromages-de-chevre.mywizi.com/notre-histoire.html

More coming, translated in English…

xxxxx Aliss

 

Paris Lockdown: Grief and Grace

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This bouquet is still beautiful more than two weeks after I bought it at Fioretti 18 avenue Secretan, Paris 19, specialist in fresh, sustainable local flowers. I hope the shop survives confinement.

Day 14 (I think)

The virus has struck closer to home. A neighbor across our courtyard is hospitalized and on a ventilator. From what we’ve heard, he’s recovering, but this means the virus is in our building. More seriously,  a new family friend has just lost his dad. I’m sad for our friend, even more so because I had planned to visit his dad at his retirement home and didn’t get there in time because of COVID-19 confinement. He was an elderly Russian gentleman I was looking forward to meeting for two reasons. First, I have a soft spot for elderly Russian emigrés because talking to them is how I learned their difficult, beautiful language. Second, my own mom is in a retirement home across the ocean and I wish more people could visit her. I’m always looking for ways to focus on the bright side, but this death crystalizes my grief about COVID-19 and other things from the past few months, too many to list. Everyone has their own. A meme from @_happyasamother on Instagram  :

Itsokaytogrieve

And thank you to Renée Vizzard Worthington, our friend who is Program Officer at the Meridian International Center, for sharing “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief,”  an article by Scott Berinato, colleague of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross:

“…we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

Perhaps acknowledging our sadness as it arises can open a path to grace? In my understanding, grace is akin to a miracle, something unexpectedly wonderful that defies normal logic.

In psychological terms, this can come as a shift in our relationships and health when we release mistaken beliefs about ourselves and unconscious projections on others we hold responsible for our problems. Grace can come in conversations with open-minded listeners, cathartic art, travel, retreats, rituals, vision quests, mantras, prayer, poetry and other experiences that change our perspective.

In the Judéo-Christian tradition, grace is the child of compassion and forgiveness, freeing us from Karma, the maze of outcomes determined by past events.

Here are two meditations to help make the leap from grief to grace.

The first is a gem from Sylvia Boorstein, self-described Jewish Buddhist, therapist and grandmother. It’s short but very sweet:

http://onbeing.org/blog/sylvia-boorstein-a-lovingkindness-meditation/

The second, a Service of Light and Breath, comes from Rev. Michelle Wahila, a young pastor here in Paris, whose inclusive wedding ministry, Ruffled by Grace, and body-positivity workshops have been put-on hold by the COVID-19 restrictions. It offers a way to hold grief and hope through deep breathing and Judeo-Christian ritual.

http://ruffledbygrace.com/a-service-of-light-breath/?fbclid=IwAR3_34wJ4noBJ_ZXQZ2FJIMZVsbuUF6DeYHzZ1C7Z3bV2gOLtIbERKX7I4s

Last but not least, a view of grief from the Islamic world, the poetry of Sufi mystic Rumi:

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.

God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flower bed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.

Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, “Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines.” Then the phantasm goes away.
You’re back in the room.
I don’t want to make any one fearful.
Hear what’s behind what I say.

Tatatumtum tatum tatadum.
There’s the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither. I’m only talking about them,

as a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night.

Translated by Coleman Barks

xxxxx Aliss

Paris Lockdown: Resilience

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My world has become both smaller and larger, close ups magnify: butterfly on wild strawberry and magnolia leaves in my courtyard

Day 6 (I think):

Fear keeps rearing its ugly head. Worst case scenarios like “What if I never see my loved ones across the Atlantic again?”

Making a list of end-of-the-world situations our first-world grandparents, parents and we have come through over the past century: WWI, “Spanish” flu, Great Depression, WWII, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Korean and Viet Nam wars, May 1968, Cuban Missile Crisis, Oil Crisis, Chernobyl, 9-11 Gulf Wars and Recession, Financial Crisis of 2008,…Pandemic?

Am I leaving anything out?

Fortunately French artist Catherine Jonville relayed this on her feed: *

(my translation)

From French radio station France Inter published on March 16 2020 at 6:57pm

“Boris Cyrulnik: After the coronavirus, there will be deep changes, that’s the way things work. 

 
The neuropsychiatrist was interviewed by Ali Rebeihi in the program Grand bien vous fasse, devoted to the epidemic. He explained how our society can survive this crisis and become resilient.

 

 
“We have to adapt to an invisible agressor. Humanity only evolves through crisis. After this crisis, the family and the couple will once again become havens of peace.
 

Crises are part of the human condition. There have been ice ages where we had to adapt by hunting more. And during the periods of global warming we had to farm more. We have already faced many epidemics which have triggered cultural revolutions, great adaptations.

 

 

Right now with quarantine and confinement we must focus on inner exploration. 

 

Along with reading, cooking will become more important whereas before we snacked on industrial food. We’ll listen more to the radio and music. We’ll adapt by retreating into ourselves, we’ll rediscover the values of our grandparents.

 

For those who worry about their jobs, their family, their children, I say we must worry about taking protective measures. If we follow them, uncertainty will decrease. If we adapt to confinement, there will be fewer reasons to worry.
 

When the epidemic is over, we will see that we have dusted off old values which will serve to develop a new way of living together. 

 
Every time there’s a natural catastrophe, there’s a cultural shift. After the trauma, we have to discover new rules, new ways of living together.
 
In the Middle Ages, people hadn’t understood that they had to quarantine. Infected people spread the bacillus everywhere. And in Europe, two years after the plague of 1348, half the population had disappeared. When the epidemic was over, social values had changed completely. People discovered the art of homemaking. Before that art was essentially religious. Suddenly there were stilllife paintings of game and fruit, carpets under the tables. 
 
Above all, the production relationships had completely changed. Before the epidemic, most people were considered as serfs and sold with the land. Afterwards, so many had died that the survivors who agreed to work were no longer serfs. They had to be paid for their work. Production relationships and the hierarchy of values had been completely transformed.”
Boris Cyrulnik is an psychiatrist, behavioural scientist and author, best known in France for developing the concept of resilience in psychology. He knows his subject from the inside, having survived as a Jewish child during the Nazi Occupation of France, as his parents perished in concentration camps.
For more about his life and works see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Cyrulnik
*For more about Catherine and her art, see:
https://www.catherinejonville.fr/?fbclid=IwAR0fGjI2Dbxz7MCFV_QanKQAwXsgB1balPggfSIMWlhOanfsAiuG8KgKoYs 

Focusing on gratitude, connecting, going outside, moving my body, cultivating beauty, and releasing expectations of “normal” (see previous post)

Wishing you  resilience!

xxxxx Aliss

 

Life Inside Paris Lockdown

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My world now, my Paris courtyard

Day 4: After the initial shutdown shocks, then euphoric determination to make the best of confinement for the common good…Ups and downs. Reality started setting in yesterday. Huge drop in energy, didn’t even leave the building for food. Did cross the courtyard, did water and deadhead plants in the sun, did get some writing and cooking done, did FaceTime with US loved ones and exchange on Internet, but all in slomo. Relief at news that we could go out for exercise with our signed form was replaced by damper of learning we have to stay within a certain perimeter and can be fined if it looks like we’re “just walking.”

Plan to go out to pharmacy and food stores later. This now qualifies as a “big walk.”

Thank you Kim Powell (photographer, activist, and head of Community Outreach for the American Cathedral in Paris) for this just now:

https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/wellness/video/quarantine-questions-healthy-daily-care-69675625?fbclid=IwAR23bV3j9i3tiZ1l7riov1iBDu4_LYD4H8cEXniOBpL2vNoasgLqrxC6k-Q

6 quarantine questions to ask ourselves every day:

  1. What am I grateful for today?
  2. Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
  3. What expectation of “normal” am I letting go of today?
  4. How am I getting outside today?
  5. How am I moving my body today?
  6. What beauty am I creating, cultivating or inviting in today?

Some of my answers…

Grateful for and connecting with–family:

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Letting go of all expectations of “normal”–time:

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How I’m getting outside today and moving my body–on my street (and with some indoor stretches):

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What beauty I’m cultivating today:

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To be continued, with some uplifting stuff from here and there…

Follow on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/aliss.terrell/

xxxxxx Aliss

How to make sunshine

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My Mama Ruth’s recipe for quiche lorraine to brighten up gray, chaotic Paris! (She just told me her mother, Roxie, brought this back from France!)

The crust

There are lots of great ready-made versions in French stores, haven’t found really good ones in the US (recommendations welcome). If you have time, make your own.

1⅓  cups + I Tbsp flour (about 250g)

Pinch of sea salt

I stick (125g) butter (best you can find, raw if possible)

1 Tbsp cream cheese (1 square Kiri à la crème)

Butter or oil to grease the baking dish

Stir flour and salt, cut butter and cream cheese into small pieces and blend with fork until mixture becomes crumbly. Work into a smooth ball. Set aside for 30 min to one hour (slight fermentation process will make it tastier and more digestible). Roll out and line a deep pie dish (I prefer glass).

Filling

8 thin slices of cooked ham, more if desired (can also use fried smoked bacon)

8 ounces Swiss cheese (medium slab gruyère or emmenthal, raw milk if possible) more if desired, cut into thin slices

½ cup (120 ml) milk or sour cream

4 eggs

½ Tsp salt

Dash of fresh nutmeg

Cover the bottom of the pastry crust in baking dish with slices of ham, follow with cheese, then alternate layers. Blend remaining ingredients with a fork, pour over ham and cheese. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for at least 40 minutes, if necessary add time until filling bubbles and browns, “sets”.

Delicious hot or room temperature, with green vegetable or salad and vinaigrette on the side. Pair with your favorite dry wine.

Ha ha! Who cares about the weather, demonstrations and stalled transportation!

xxxxx Aliss