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

 

The Heart of France

Reposted from August 201610333405_10152648423348899_8170936228487363108_o
A memory from August 15th, 2014: “Paris, City of the Goddess… This morning in our courtyard I could hear bells ringing everywhere for a long time, the way it must have been before cars, watches, and smart phones, when the streets echoed with human voices and bells tolled the time. The city is almost empty and today is Assumption Day. You don’t have to be Catholic or even Christian to feel the feminine energy here. Notre Dame stands in the very center, where geobiologists say Telluric Currents meet and people have been drawn to worship from time immemorial. Traditionally all distances in France were measured from Notre Dame. When you were out in the provinces, the old road signs used to read ‘Paris Notre Dame xxx km.’ There are shrines to Mary everywhere with ex-votoes at the entrances and on the walls saying, ‘Thank you, Mary’ or ‘Thank you, Mother’ and sometimes details about the events of her intercession. Whatever your beliefs, these places seem like portals to another dimension where you can release your fears and pain if you are willing to trust that somehow they can be transformed through grace beyond human understanding…I thought this was all superstition until I moved to Paris. The Goddess of La République, called ‘Marianne,’ seems to be replacing Mary in some contexts. Her statue stands on one of the major squares of the city and in all the Mairies, or town halls, presiding over civil ceremonies of all kinds. If she allows us to imagine a higher power of justice and gives birth to compassion and hope, then is she Mary’s secular sister… or daughter?”
 xxxxx 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

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

Happy Birthday Buttes Chaumont Park

Paris 19th…Now:DSC03606and then, before landscaping, Eiffel’s bridge, and the cliff-top temple:DSC03607My favorite park is celebrating a big birthday–150 years… I thought I knew it by heart, but new signs commemorating remarkable trees and the park’s transformation are full of cool factoids:DSC03611Did you know this tree is called “horse chestnut” because in ancient times its fruit was used as fodder? That this former quarry was a horse cemetery in the 19th century? That draft horses from Vincennes are still used here for logging? DSC03610.JPGPlanted in 1870, this sycamore is 25m tall. Tiny picnickers and miniature bench give an idea of scale…Another specimen:DSC03609Planted in 1865, this one is 20m tall. Symbiotic parasites thicken its bark while its survival strategy creates an “elephant foot” shape at the base. In Greek mythology  plane trees symbolized regeneration and it’s dark heavy wood was used to build the Trojan horse…It’s so huge I couldn’t fit it into one shot. People left of the trunk (center) add perspective.DSC03608And on the other side of the park:DSC03613An association called Kaloumba had set up awnings, tables, chairs and traditional games from all over the world, for all ages. One item from their beautiful collection:DSC03612

Kaloumba specializes in keeping these alive as cultural, social, educational and therapeutic tools, organizing workshops to make your own games from recycled materials, to then keep or sell for worthy causes. Check out their website: http://kaloumba.com

Happy Birthday Buttes Chaumont 🙂 xxxxx Aliss

It’s happening! (updated 17/07/17)

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Live Water Swimming, Bassin de la Villette, Paris Plages, Grand Opening Monday July 17th, 3pm 🙂

Paris has been working towards this for many years, well before the Summer Olympics bid, part of a long term environmental clean up and biodiversity project. What better way to raise awareness than to open a swimming area here? It’s a biofeedback loop for Parisians: water quality is monitored constantly and the pools will be closed whenever the water is unsafe. All around the enclosure displays show how this works, what sources of public and private pollution are being supervised, plant and animal species living in this water, how and why the waterway was constructed, how it has evolved… Maybe this will discourage deadbeats from throwing their refuse into the canal? Come swim and view the displays with your family, it’s a rich learning experience and a way to create a better future 🙂

http://www.thelocal.fr/20170530/take-the-plunge-paris-to-offer-free-canal-swimming-for-summer

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Smooth sailing! xxxxx Aliss

Happy Bastille Day!

DSC03623Firehouse in the Marais, soundcheck going on in the courtyard… Same thing happening all over France, flags and banners, firefighters setting up the annual Fireman’s Ball in honor of Bastille Day. In the olden days, it was about accordion music, live combos, tango, fox trots and slow dancing on cobblestones, checkered tablecloths, cheap champagne and flat beer in real glasses, women in skirts and dresses, men with their shirt sleeves rolled up, red faces from Renoir paintings… Now it’s huge PA systems, blaring pop and hip hop, fat cables duct taped on the cobblestones, cheap wine in plastic cups, bottled beer, clouds of marijuana smoke, a sea of faces of all colors, streetwear, tattoos and piercings… Fun of a different hue… Happy Bastille Day! xxxxx Aliss

Street Heart

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Unexpected mudra with flowers under a bridge along the canal, a non-verbal message that needs no explanation. Still I wanted to know more:

Mudra: A mudrā is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions. In yoga, mudras are used in conjunction with pranayama (yogic breathing exercises)… to stimulate different parts of the body involved with breathing and to affect the flow of prana in the body.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudra

Is this the Apana Mudra? (“The Apana mudra has a grounding force to help you connect with the earth’s energies whenever you are feeling off balance or flighty.”) https://www.thoughtco.com/mudra-photo-gallery-4051990

More intriguing: “The Apana mudra is good for mental or physical digestion and for eliminating waste material from the body. This gesture may also be a form of aiding in mental and emotional digestion when applied to “evil” outside of the body.”

http://www.chopra.com/articles/10-powerful-mudras-and-how-to-use-them#sm.0000lrfs189btdgwxcb1qqtc5ij7n

Interesting that the hand is emerging from a business suit, and how many of these hand positions are part of our everyday body language…

To be continued…xxxxxx Aliss

Today the water was laughing

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Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19, near the soon-to-open “Live Water” swimming area, canal so clear, I stopped in my tracks to admire fish of all sizes swimming among the plant life.

Two electric-blue dragonflies flitted in front of me, hovered and disappeared, too fast to photograph. (The fish, too, are camera-shy). When Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris many moons ago, he announced he’d swim in the Seine in the year 2000. It took longer than he thought, but decades of effort by local communities and the Paris city government, bio-diversity campaigns and sewage treatment, are paying off. What seemed like science fiction is actually happening.

For more information about wild flora and fauna in Paris,  “sustainable walk” apps, action steps:

http://www.paris.fr/biodiversite#balades-paris-durable_5

Beautiful posters to download:

http://www.paris.fr/biodiversite#affiches-sur-la-faune-et-la-flore-parisiennes_8

Reasons for optimism! Love xxxxx Aliss