Can a tree say “F*ck Off”?

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This is a public service announcement:

Someone near and dear to me (who shall not be named to protect her privacy) recently learned that she traded her end-of-summer jetlag for a Parisian version of Lyme’s disease. As unlikely as that sounds, her bloodwork clearly shows antibodies to multiple strains of Lyme’s bacteria present in Europe, with no exposure to the sole strain known in the US.

The only green space she frequented at the end of August was the Buttes Chaumont park near where she lives. She went there to lie on the grass, walk barefoot on the ground, and spend time with her palms on a beautiful, tall tree (which shall remain anonymous to avoid reprisals), thinking this city version of “Forest Bathing” would help reset her circadian rhythms.

A few days after her last visit to the park, she noticed what seemed to be a large and very itchy mosquito bite on her chest, which began to swell, burn, and spread over the next few days. None of the usual remedies helped. Since there have been reports of tiger mosquitoes carrying Dengue fever and Chikungunya in the Paris area recently, she thought it best to see her French doctor, who thought she was being a hypochondriac. “Can I get a blood test just in case, to be sure?” she insisted. “No, Madame, it won’t show anything,” he laughed. “What about Lyme’s disease?” she asked. “But there is no tick,” he shrugged.

About ten days later she got a splitting headache, but thought it was the rosé wine she drank at a party. Then she started having sharp pains from the middle of her back to her left wrist and thought she had pinched a nerve in a vertebra during her workout. She went to see a noted osteopath, who said the pain would subside over the next few days. It didn’t. When it moved down into her hips, she realized she had allowed herself to be bullied by her doctor.

Cutting to the chase, she managed to get a prescription for the appropriate blood work, tested positive for Lyme’s, and went on Doxyclycline for the next few weeks. The doctor apologized profusely and didn’t make her pay for the consultation.

Luckily, she knows several people in the US who have made a full recovery in similar circumstances. Still, she could have avoided a lot of pain and worry if she had prevailed upon the doctor in the first place. In his defence, no tick was ever found and the rash did not resemble a typical bull’s eye. She did not check herself carefully after being outside because she didn’t know there were ticks in the city.

In addition to her physical symptoms, there was a psychological shock. She says she feels like she’s been broken up with by a loved one. Her favorite green space gave her Lyme’s disease. Was it the lawns or did her favorite tree tell her to “F*ck Off”? In its defence, so many people are touching it now, its thick protective bark is wearing away at the base of its trunk. Is global warming spreading Lyme’s, or is this a long due declaration of independence aimed at obtrusive human beings? Or both?

Moral of the story: Alas, Lyme’s disease has come to this northern European capital. Be careful, check yourself and your kids after time in the park, maybe give the trees some space. It’s October, temperatures are falling, but not all ticks are dormant in winter. Better safe than sorry?

Need Some Zing for the Re-entry?

DSC04588I swore I would not let La Rentrée get to me this year, but here we are and here we go again. Almost none of the things I’m dealing with are life-threatening. I’m not in the path of a hurricane or a typhoon, not in a flood or a landslide. In a way it’s even more frustrating and demotivating being preoccupied by the unsolvable while trying to rev up for another long school year and hopefully, one’s own projects… Maybe that’s why I’m in a state of confused inertia, wanting to step on the gas with one foot on the brake? In no particular order: my sweet neighborhood that I couldn’t wait to get back to is all torn up for some mysterious underground repairs, to the point where it’s difficult to cross the street, scaffolding is being hammered noisily in place for the city’s building resurfacing program, there are activity schedules to set arrange and meetings to sit through, medical appointments, giant mosquito bites, re-adjusting to small shared urban spaces, drug dealers returning after many years when we all thought they were gone for good…apparently preying on the migrants (result: one death and several stabbings, danger late at night for us and our kids…)

Soooooo! I take joy where I find it:

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!

With a drizzle of top grade olive oil and salt… or a fancier mandala version with buffala mozzarella, arugula and fresh basil:DSC04564

Ratatouille:

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Using the leftovers for a ratatouille savory tarte:DSC04581

My recipe:

Leftover ratatouille
I Chavrou (Chavrie in the US)
I fresh goat cheese log, Sainte-Maure de Touraine if you can
Parmesan, grated, can go in filling or on top as you prefer, adds tangy “umami” 🙂 also thickens
3 Eggs
Herbes de provence, salt, pepper
Tbs flour optional
I pie crust, unsweetened
Blend Chavrou and eggs, add to slightly strained ratatouille in salad bowl, stir well (shouldn’t be too soupy). Depending on how firm you want it, you can use just yolks, whole eggs or both. I use whole ones. Some people put in flour to firm it up, too. Season. Grease bottom of deep pie plate, position pie crust, pinch edges for decor 🙂
Pour in ratatouille mixture, decorate with slices of goat log, making sure pieces are moistened with filling mixture so they don’t burn. Sprinkle with parmesan and paprika if desired.
Bake at 350-ish F (180° C) until cheese is golden brown and filling is firm, usually 45-50 minutes? Have to keep an eye on it to be sure. If the cheese looks done but the filling isn’t firm enough, cover lightly with aluminum foil and return to oven.
PS some people use gruyère or mozzarella for the topping 🙂
Enjoy!
More zings to come…
xxxxx Love Aliss

Back in Quiet August Paris

DSC04556Trying this to ease jetlag… Flat on my back in the grass, soles and palms facing down. The Buttes Chaumont park is calm but not empty: couples laughing on blankets, old people chatting on benches, moms feeding babies, dads and grandmas walking toddlers, someone playing the flute, classical music piping from a puppet theater hidden in the bushes, outdoor cafés shaded with bright parasols, a film shoot, people taking pictures at the waterfall…

How ironic to spend more time outdoors here in the city than on vacation in the back country of upstate New York…But then, the weather is less extreme here… bees, butterflies, birds…You can walk right out your front door and find green spaces to keep walking for hours, no need to drive somewhere for a hike…

To be continued xxxxx Aliss

Strut Your Stripes

DSC04420Even before Les Bleus won the World Cup soccer championship, sailor stripes were a thing here, but now they’re The Thing. This summer, if you want to feel French in every sense of the word, go with stripes. Sleek mini shift versions are taking the streets, blue and white  Place Saint Sulpice (above) or red and white waiting for the Bateau Mouche Square du Vert Galant:DSC04424 (1)

Long and short sleeved tees make a fresh statement on everyone— young or mature, female or male, slim or less so:DSC04400 (1)DSC04402 (1)DSC04426 (1)

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They’re available everywhere, but if you want the real deal, made in France with Fair Trade cotton by a company founded in the epicenter of the marinière, that sponsors music festivals and the beautiful replica of Lafayette’s ship, l’Hermione… go with Armor Lux.

Their Paris store 16, rue Vavin 75006 Paris (Phone 01 44 07 00 77) is slashing prices right now and until August 7th:DSC04421DSC04423DSC04422

Check out their website for prices on every possible item imaginable for the whole family and the home. You’ll also find info on the history of the brand and its commitment to sustainability.

http://www.armorlux.com/en/

For the backstory, pictures and folklore (originally worn by Breton “onion johnnies” peddling garlic and onions across the channel in England, it became part of the official French Navy uniform and then sexy androgyne high fashion thanks to Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Jean-Paul Gauthier, to name a few…) see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marinière

http://www.stylefrancais.com/2017/05/lhistoire-de-la-mariniere-chapitre-1/

Or if you’re not ready to take the plunge, Have a drink at a sidewalk café and people watch and count stripes 🙂

Happy Parisian Summer!

xxxxxx Aliss

Oh My Blog!

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(What we all want, right? To be welcome, to belong…This place makes me feel that…)

 Long time no post but I’m back!

Here’s the deal, all the blog energy got sucked out of my brain by unforeseen other stuff:

Finishing and publishing 4th interview for the Trump Antidote, child’s wisdom teeth removal surgery and complications, endless new administrative BS to renew son’s passport at foreign embassy that shall not be named for fear of bureaucratic reprisals, said son got his hair bleached (resulting in 2nd degree burns to the scalp), planning an author event for an esteemed writer friend who then cancelled… Mother’s Day prep (transatlantic flower order, sending card, calling), shopping for presents and dinner party for a dear friend’s birthday, overnight family escapade to the Picardy countryside, annual appointment with vet for cat vaccinations, organizing a camp out for Boy Scouts in June, managing my new Instagram account…

Lucky me! Got invited to the theater twice (El Cid, The Mercy Seat) plus 2 concerts (Lucy Dacus, Jazz Manouche ensemble) had coffees, tea, lunches and dinners with various friends I don’t see often enough who were suddenly available… Russian visitors, US visitors, planning trip to London to copyright a song co-written with English musician friends, reservations for marathon trip to NY this summer…

Thank God work schedule was light but time to make more appointments… Home-schooling (Yes, me! Who would have ever thought? But that’s another story all together…) Made annual doctor appointments, found new dentist

Rehearsed and sang briefly at a charity fundraiser for the Emmaüs homeless shelter in the 17th.

Trying to walk and do yoga regularly, meditate, keep up voice exercizes, put together a set of my songs, some covers, and accompany myself on the guitar... Learning some new stuff to sing with US musician friends at Fête de la Musique

Mainly… I made a commitment to myself on February 20th to finish revising my coming-of-age-memoir manuscript in 90 days, meaning by May 20. This was inspired by Marie Forleo’s webinar “How to get anything you want in 90 days” and the Oprah Deepak meditation experiences…

Went to my canal-side writing nook (pictured above) diligently at every opportunity…

Was off to a running start until all the above mayhem and Spring Break broke my stride, then May 1st, May 8th, May 17th and May 21st French holiday weekends made it hard to get back in the rhythm… Made amazing headway, but still have to go though it one more time, plus finishing touches and formatting. Let’s say I finished a new draft

I’ll have to ask  Marie F what she advises as a back up when you miss your deadline? Maybe I over-committed, set a too-ambitious goal?

I will keep you posted… so to speak… Meanwhile, highly recommend:

http://www.marieforleo.com

“LEARN HOW TO GET ANYTHING YOU WANT.

In this fantastic (and free) audio training you’ll learn three simple strategies that’ll give you the courage and confidence to create a business and life you love.”

To be continued!!!

xxxxxx Aliss

PS!!!! That’s not all! I just remembered I also replaced all my plants that got killed by frost during the winter and took a first-aid/CPR refresher!! Yikes!!!