How to make Christmas last forever (or at least until the end of January…)

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This is a post from last Christmas, just as relevant now ūüôā This year’s darkness hasn’t been due to the weather but many other things… “As a native of more southerly latitudes, I had to learn to ignore Parisian weather to survive. If I had known before I moved here that my birthplace near Washington, DC, is comparable to Madrid and Rome in terms of sunlight, whereas Paris is comparable to Montreal, that lack of sunshine depresses the immune system and dampens the spirits…¬†I may not have come. Then one day I was ranting about the gray skies to a French friend who said, “Il y a d’autres soleils √† Paris” (There are other suns in Paris) and that was a turning point. I¬†learned to love rain even when it falls every day for months as it has this winter, the darkest in 30 years:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/19/aint-no-sunshine-winter-darkest-europe?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Living in Paris has made me think that Christmas and Hanukkah lights are Northern Hemisphere responses to winter sun deprivation, and this year they are more vital than ever. So here are my strategies to make Christmas last forever, or at least until the end of January and the gradual approach of Spring…

  • Virtual fireplace on flat screen TV (DVD’s available and now streaming on Netflix!)
  • Epiphany galettes (King cakes) still on sale in the bakeries (collect prizes, wear crowns!)
  • New Year’s cards can be sent until at least the end of the month (and received!)
  • New Year’s resolutions boost energy and project us into the future, especially if updated and tracked ¬†http://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/resolution-ideas
  • Skype faraway friends and family to open presents they sent by mail
  • Sort pictures, print some to send with New Year’s greetings
  • Play with presents: make a list of who gave you what and what you will do with each one in the new year, include thank you’s in New Year’s cards
  • Keep a log of good times over the holidays, in your appointment calendar, and relive them by journaling: funny things people said, conversations, realisations, issues to clear up?
  • Food memories: recipes new and heirloom, to share in New Year’s messages
  • Food continued: bake cookies and send to older and younger loved ones
  • Keep the tree and decorations up even as the tree folds inward like a shriveled umbrella and begins to look like a biological equivalent of Miss Havisham’s wedding cake (in Great Expectations)
  • Make un-decorating part of the holiday, set aside lots of time, enjoy treasured ornaments, as mementos and promises of future holiday celebrations
  • Keep the music playing: all the oldies you didn’t listen to when it was really Christmas, laugh at Bob Dylan and Elvis holiday albums, discover Yuletide gems by Lynerd Skynerd, Louis Armstrong and the never-obsolete Frank Sinatra. If that’s too much, fall back on instrumental “Winter Solstice” and “Celtic Christmas” collections from Windham Hill and others…
  • Recycle your tree in any of Paris’s parks until January 28th (and beyond), knowing it will become fragrant mulch for gorgeous spring landscaping…
  • Hibernate without guilt, perhaps with the help of a carefully selected winter virus, just severe enough to keep you on the couch in front of the “fire” with herb teas and soups, ¬†but not requiring antibiotics or ER trips…
  • Continue your creative and professional work when the fog clears
  • Start thinking about Valentine’s day…”

Merry Christmas!

To be continued, love xxxxx Aliss

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris

A favorite shot of 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

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 ros√© 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?

More Zings

DSC04596How to boost energy as summer turns to fall?

Escape to the ocean or nearest beautiful body of water for a vivifying dose of horizon, air sand, and water. If you’re in Paris, the sea is only 2 or so hours away. This location is near Boulogne sur Mer, it’s called Equihen-Plage. There’s a glamping area with every type of housing you can image, plus swimming pool and wind carting on the beach.

http://www.camping-equihen-plage.fr/fr

Nice seafood restaurants including La Brise:

http://la-brise.lafourchette.rest/en_GB/

and Le Bouquet:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g2223826-d2221918-Reviews-Le_Bouquet-Equihen_Plage_Pas_de_Calais_Hauts_de_France.html

And if you can’t leave Paris, how about a massage?

Luxurious? Dulcenae:

http://www.dulcenae.fr

Or laid back?

Find the Yves Rocher Institut in your neighborhood and ask for a one hour “soin relaxant aux huiles essentielles” = relaxing treatment with essential oils, unbeatable price, 52‚ā¨ for one hour…

http://www.yves-rocher.fr/tout-sur-les-magasins/ile-de-france/paris/paris-gare-st-lazare-sncf/S-FRYROC784

To be continued! xxxxx Aliss

PS My son stayed at the camping ground mentioned above, my husband and I stayed at a BnB just next door, where there was no Wifi. I had almost 48 hours of digital detox! Can’t recommend it highly enough!

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 caf√©s 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

Saving Mount Greylock

DSC02872When I despair about news of the environment, I think of visiting Mount Greylock, in western Massachusetts, and seeing pictures of its transformation from industrial wasteland to green paradise, all the more amazing because this was launched by a group of businessmen:

“Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at 3,489 feet (1,063¬†m). Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams (near its border with Williamstown) in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting Berkshire Hills to the east. The mountain is known for its expansive views encompassing five states and the only taigaboreal forest in the state….

By the late 19th century, clearcutting logging practices had stripped much of the mountain for local industries that produced wood products, paper and charcoal. Along with this came devastating forest fires and landslides. Following a fire on the summit,[29] a group of local businessmen concerned about the mountain incorporated the Greylock Park Association (GPA) on July 20, 1885,[30][31] and purchased 400 acres (1.6¬†km2) on the summit. The GPA also undertook long-needed repairs to the Notch Road so that carriages could access the top. Aside from shares to fund its operation, the GPA charged a 25-cent toll for the carriage road and a 10-cent fee to ascend the iron observation tower (built 1889).[23] These fees are equivalent to $9.53 in present-day dollars.[32] …..

Additional support came from the Massachusetts Forestry Association’s initiative to advocate for the establishment of a state park system, and to make the case point, fight inappropriate development of the state’s highest peak, Mount Greylock. The principal argument for making the mountain a public reservation was to protect the Hoosic and Housatonic River watersheds from erosion due to recent trends of deforestation (particularly noted on the Adams side). Another concern was to preserve it for the public rather than private and exclusive enjoyment. On June 20, 1898 Mount Greylock State Reservation was created, with the stipulation that the state add to the original land (to ultimately total 10,000 acres (40¬†km2)). With this acquisition the first public land in Massachusetts for the purpose of forest preservation was created, later to become the state park system….”

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

Worth the pilgrimage, all the more because the location has now been immortalized in the writings of J.K. Rowling as the site of a North American wizardry school…

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 marini√®re,¬†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 caf√© and people watch and count stripes ūüôā

Happy Parisian Summer!

xxxxxx Aliss