Monday, April 30, 2012

It finally occurs to me...

My wife and I headed over to the 15th to see what it was like, with an eye toward finding an area we could live in for a year or more.

Passy Path
The day was clear and spring-like warm.  Finally.  After weeks of overcast weather and cold rain, this was a welcome surprise.  Perhaps the Mistral is finally subsiding?

We walked a fine area in the 15th and had a chance to spend time talking with a shop owner in the quartier.  His family shop sold specialty items.  What brought us in were the honeys they had on offer.  Once we looked around, we realized there were several fun and interesting things to choose from.  The shop keeper was engaging and shared with us a few samples of his food and ideas on living in the 15th.

After making our purchases we headed across the street to a brasserie that the shop keeper recommended.

We sat in the sun out on the veranda and took in the scenery over lunch.  A recent MotoGP was on the tele and it looked there was some fine racing that day.  The company was great and the food wonderful.

It was then that I could feel the thing I needed to feel:  I now understand that I have something that the president of the company I was laid off from will never ever have.  Happiness.

Such an incredible feeling it is to be completely content and know that all is right with the world.

It's sad that certain corporate "leaders" are driven to try and destroy other people's lives as a way of assigning blame to the wrong things.  It's sad that these "leaders" push so hard to cover for their mistakes so that the CEO won't see what's really going on and fire them for their mis-deeds.  It's sad that so many fine employees are trampled under the foot of these bastards and that life is made as miserable as it can be.  It's sad that they tell you to sign a statement saying you will never speak ill of them nor the company, otherwise you will not receive severance as they lay you off.

But, on this day, at this time, none of that really mattered.  I wasn't there slaving away in a cube to try and keep a job and make a little money toward retirement.  No.  I was sitting in an Avergne run cafe on the left bank in Paris, drinking a bit of wine, eating a bit of food, talking a little with the locals, sitting in the sun, enjoying the hell out of the fact that I am quite simply alive!

After lunch my wife and I returned to the shop and picked up chocolate covered raisins and a small bottle of Thym Sauvage.  I wish I had the words to describe how good these things taste.  Really.  I do.

Thym Sauvage ~ Digestif

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Anterieur Futur...

My wife and I visited the "galerie du jour agnes b."  to see the show called "Anterieur Futur ~ retrofuturisme/steampunk/archeomodernisme".

If you follow my photographic adventures, you already know that some of my Steampunk work has been published internationally.

So it was with great interest that we went to visit the agnes b.

Galerie du jour agnes b.

One of the two finest Steampunk mask makers had four of his incredible creations on display.  There were movies and posters and animated creatures too.

Some of my favorite works of art were the several models artists made.  One was of the Jules Verne submarine (from the commonly available drawings that may have originated or were used by Disney in their 20 thousand leagues under the sea movie).  The other model that impressed me was a rather interesting torpedo shaped blimp.  Both were incredibly detailed and were a delight to see.
After spending time in the gallery, my wife and I spied an artisan beer shop across the street.  Of course we had to pay them a visit too.

In any event, I am hopeful that we'll be able to connect with Paris' creative arts communities so I can make a few more images before they plant me in the earth for the longest rest...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Liberalism and freedom from thought control...

We not been here three weeks yet, and I can already look back and see the effects of controlled access to information.  That is to say, in the US what we see and what is widely available comes nowhere near the full spectrum of intellectual thought, human feeling, or action.  It feels like everything, particularly information, is carefully dry-cleaned for your protection.

You can't feel the fullness of what it means to be a thinking breathing, critical, aware human without crossing someone's "politically correct" boundary.  The media prints only that which it feels is fit for your consumption.

Last night, my wife and I visited Shakespeare and Company down the river in the 5th.

Shakespeare and Company

What a contrast to our prior experiences of visiting book stores.  Even in the seemingly liberal city we came from, nothing compares with the broad range of political, philosophical, and poetic expression that can be found in this tiny, well visited, bookstore.

I nearly wept as I browsed the poetry section.  So many outstanding expressions of human creativity and feeling in word and prose.  If you have the time, you can even sit down and read a few passages and reflect at bit on what it means to feel or to think.  There is a chair in the poetry room.

I was then humbled by reading the last paragraph of a book, more a pamphlet really, by a WWII French soldier.  There were several copies of these small books on a shelf in the political section.  The books are devoted to talking about his participation in "la lutte" against any and all suppression of human liberties.

His final paragraph says that the forces of suppression have gathered again.  This time, freedom is at risk from an all pervading media that directs what and how we are consume.

I could immediately understand what he was saying.  Looking at the US, isn't the media is all about consumption?  Isn't it all about redirection away from ourselves and our freedoms and liberties?

Shakespeare and Company

The US media narrows the field of discussion by dictating discussion topics.  The US media narrows the fields of human expression by lionizing captains of industry and their role in "job creation", while ignoring the role of greed in culture and the way it drives nearly all behavior.  The US media narrows the range of human feelings to just those that stand out strongest, limiting feelings to hatred or titillating sex.

It was a moving experience to visit Shakespeare and Company.  It was incredible to sample a few passages from such a broad range of texts.  It was fascinating to know a human life can be so much more than what is bought and what is sold.  It was good to realize "la lutte" for liberty and freedom lives.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A nice way to spend time...

On our flight over from the States we learned of something called a cafe arose and I knew I had to try it.

Backing up a bit in time to last September, my wife and I visited the cemetery at Montparnasse.  We were just inside the gates and started working our way down the line of graves when I heard a group of nuns bustling their way between the grave stones, apparently intent getting somewhere quickly.  I heard the lead nun call out "suck it in, girls!"

I laughed and shouted over to her that that was the best thing I'd heard all week.  They all laughed and waved.

Montparnasse Cemetery

A little while later, the same group of nuns came down the wide path to where we were standing.  The conversation was great and we learned that the Addams family grave site wasn't 100 feet off.  That's where they'd been to place a photo from the original TV show.

We also learned that sœur Rosalie was their founding sister and that she was buried in the same cemetery.  She is known to help people if you left a note at her grave site.  So we did this, with our intention listed on the back of a business card I just happened to have.

Six months later, my wife and I now live in Paris.

We needed to thank sister Rosalie and so, today, we went to the Montparnasse cemetery.  We left another business card with our thanks written on the back.  It was a moving experience, no matter what a person "believes".  Our original request was still there.  So I placed our thank you on top of the old weathered card.

Cafe arose'

After a little photography around the cemetery, we headed over to a cafe to try our hand at an afternoon cuppa.  My wife had a decaf cafe allonge and I had a decaf cafe arose.  No, we can't handle the caffeine in the afternoon.  We can handle a wee-dram, however, but only if it's the right stuff.

We have discovered a rather proper mid-afternoon relief.  Coffee.  Calvados.  Mixed.  Yum.

I wonder if this is what the French mean when they say they're "killing the worm?"

I think I'm beginning to look forward to tomorrow's adventure.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not 24 hours has gone by, when...

My prior post extolling the foods of Europe over the cr*p found in the US was, perhaps, 24 hours premature.

The world is now aware of Mad Cow disease found in California.

If you know statistics and if you follow the sampling rates of USDA inspections in the US you will know the odds for tainted beef entering the food system.

If you're sleeping well at night and if you are eating beef that is not true grass fed cattle, you're not awake or don't care.

This is very frightening stuff, this.

Now, what was I saying about the US food system being broken?

Il est interdit!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The food. Oh, the food...

Talking to friends and family back in America, it's very difficult to explain to them just how good the food is here.

Mind you, I'm not talking about going to a Bistro or a Brasserie and ordering something off the menu, even though food in those places are typically good.  No.  What I'm talking about is the food we purchase from vendors and out of small markets.

Les choses nécessaire 
This sure beats the h*ll out of that cheap cr*p
communion wine those priests handed out every sunday!!!

My wife and I buy as much "organic" food as we can for our meals.  Here in France "organic" foods are labeled "bio" for biologique.  When we shop carefully, we can find biodynamicly grown or prepared foods.  The organic food production extends into beers and wines.

In fact, tonight we started in on a bottle of "El Vinyer d'en Parlou", vin de pays des cotes Catalanes.  The label says "produit issu de raisins de l'agriculture biologique."  It goes well with, um, everything!

The price?  Just over 6 Euros.  Do the conversion to USD and you'll perhaps see what a steal that is.

Dinner ~ In Progress  
Be still, mon petit poulet... your flying days are done...

Food tastes like real food here.  Broccoli tastes like sweet corn.  Chickens taste like, well, vraiment chicken.  Pork and beef taste better than the grass feed and organically raised meats in the US.  Beer is good.  I found I like "blonde".  Organic, of course.  Sweet potatoes are very sweet.  The fish is fresh and wonderful... and so it goes... including buying a baguette traditionelle every day.

By comparison, we feel that the American food system is broken.  Completely and utterly broken.  How could it be anything but broken for the tons and tons of chemicals spread over the land and left to the wind as well as for the oceans of antibiotics injected into cows, pigs, and chickens?  How could the US food system not be broken for how people love fast food and no longer have the time (supposedly) to gather around the dinner table and share meals with a family?  How could it not be broken for the amount of corporate investment that is made into the US political system to ensure laws sway to the advantage of corporate farming?

Dinner ~ In Progress  
Oh be quiet! This won't hurt you as much as it hurts me...

Perhaps the biggest surprise to us is that the cost of food here in Paris is very comparable to what people pay for cr*p food in the US.  Yes.  It's true.  There's no getting around seeing just how badly people in the US are screwed.

I'm very happy that my wife has been such a good cook for all these years and that we can prepare our own meals.  Nearly every night we look at each other over a meal and marvel at how good food tastes here.

It's worth the effort to cook our own food.  You can't believe how good it is.

I have to leave this blog entry with one final thought;  DOM (Deus Optimus Maximus!!!) Benedictine (not that B&B cr*p) in the States costs $40.  My wife started us on a slow drip of this incredible elixir some time back.  So imagine my surprise when, in our very first visit to Monoprix, we found DOM Benedictine for $20.  The drip rate has been "upped" a bit since this discovery.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Being Here...

Looking out the apartment window this evening, something started to sink it; the enormity of what we've accomplished.  It was just a hint, mind you.

Passy Metro

When I was 28 years old and recently started a new job in aerospace, I took my very first vacation.  American Airlines brought me to a place I'd only read about.  Hemingway and Sartre had much to say about this city.  Their books lead me to believe that this was the most incredible place on earth.  During my first two week trip to this place of magic I started to discover a Paris of my own.

Many years later, I wondered if it might be possible to live there.  I'm not sure I ever fully believed it was possible.

Now that we're here, it's still hard for me to believe it was possible.  Strange how the mind works, isn't it?

Eiffel Morning

Yet, tonight, I as the sun sets and casts a warm glow on la tour Eiffel and as the birds chase one another around the sky and as we've just finished a simple but marvelous meal, I'm faced with having to believe that our seemingly impossible dreams has come true.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Settling in...

My wife and I have arrived in time for the 2012 French Presidential elections.

Marine ~ NF

It's fascinating to watch politics, safely removed from having any influence on the outcome. Yet, there are a few things we see and can't help commenting on.

For instance, we live in what I've read is one of the most conservative places in Paris, in the 16th. I've learned that it was in the 16th that the aristocracy first settled, perhaps along the road that lead to Versailles during the time the court was situated not in Paris. So it was with some surprise that political posters around the 16th were "re-worked", but only certain images. The images of Marine le Pen and Nicholas Sarkozy, while being the most conservative, appear to be dis-liked.

La France Morte

Over the past two nights we've watched the 8pm Paris news. Two nights ago we listened to Francois Holland explain his position on various topics. Then, last night, Nicholas Sarkozy had his turn. During the interview I was struck by the differences in body language of the interviewers between the two nights.

When questioning M. Holland, the interviewers appeared relaxed and nearly "conversational". When speaking with M. Sarkozy, the interviewers appeared to be "screwed down" tightly and seemed to be almost confrontational. We came away feeling that President "Bling" stands a snow-ball's chance in hades of winning on Sunday, if these two people from the French press are any indication of national sentimental trends.

Revealed by Rain

We've also heard from ex-pats who live in Europe that many people are hopeful that M. Holland will win and that folks have had enough of M. Sarkozy's "globalization" policies. M. Holland made it quite clear that there is no room for, what I interpreted as, Chinese and other "outsider" economic influence on France, and that the financial relationship with the rest of the EU needed to change.

The conservative policies of Spain are driving that country down the same roads Greece is traveling. That is, cut social programs, put large numbers of people out of work, then cut more when the tax revenues drop like a rock. The end result will be the Spanish conservatives will be able to say "... see, we told you social policies helping the average citizen were not sustainable..."

Weathered Whispers

Perhaps we'll see how M. Holland's open policies of supporting French citizenry and increasing taxes on the top 1% will work. Such a set of policies would stand in stark contrast to the standard conservative "I have mine, and the rest of you can go to hell now" attitudes toward taxation and their role in driving nations into the poorhouse.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So... what's the view like again???

Being in our current apartment is quite entertaining. All we have to do is look out our front window and have some pretty interesting things to see. Life simply unfolds in the most amazing ways.

It was so great that I had to make a short video the very night we arrived. Being more than a little blurry-eyed was rather challenging. Yet, the little video worked out well.

Full HD link here.

On the second night I had to re-video la tour. I didn't realize that it "twizzled" on the hour when it was lit up. The word "twizzle" really works in this case. I feel it adequately explains the content of this work.

Full HD link here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


We made it. Landed and passed through customs and immigration in Iceland (true story) where we received our passport stamp valid for the OFII. Then, flew on into CDG.

We're more than a little screwed up from the jet lag. Still, we should be OK in a few days.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No turning back...

Well, we're part way to France, even as I type this. The first leg of the journey is behind us and we await the next.

It was strange leaving our old home in the US. A few tears, but no regrets. It's likely too early for that, what with all the excitement and anticipation of what we'll be doing to get through Charles de Gaul airport and on into our new apartment.

Then there are the concerns for how we will converse with our landlords. They speak no English and our French is only in it's second full year of learning.

Still, this is a tremendous time to be out and about.

Scenes from a Metro

The thing that strikes me most are the travelers. They are all our age or older. I guess I'd better get used to it. I'm one of them.

What an adventure this is! The entire experience has come down to this. There are few words for these kinds of emotions.

The next post will be from France.

Scenes from a Metro

Friday, April 6, 2012

... whee....

It has been just a few days over five months since I've been laid off from a computer high technology company that has the bright idea of shipping jobs and intellectual property(IP) to China. It doesn't matter that 60 years of IP development is being handed over to a developing nation capable of using this very same technology against the US. What matters is that the CEO and his "free cash flow" henchmen get very very rich in the process.

Poets Wanted - Dead or Alive

In these five months my wife and I have arranged our affairs, made connections into Europe, sold our home, sold or given away most of our belongings, and are about to board a one way aircraft into another life.

Our life now fits into 5 pieces of 29inch luggage.

It sometimes feels like a rather risky adventure.

We listened to speakers at the local Alliance Française who live in France. All of them maintain two or more homes. One home in the US and at least one home in Europe. It must be nice to be able to live wherever you want and still have access to memories and things where you grew up.

We have no such luxury.

Wall of Honor

We don't have those kinds of resources.

No, it's taken everything we have to get to this place. This is why our move feels much riskier than the moves folks at AF talk of and experience.

There is much to be running away from. The US is not the country of my youth nor of any consistent citizen supporting ideology. While I worked I could only dream of leaving this place, even if only temporarily on holiday.

Weight of the World

Now that I no longer work and after having carefully managed what few resources we have, I feel it's time to live One Last Dream before I'm planted in the ground for the Long Sleep.

Fortunately, it feels like there is a lot to be running to.

We very much look forward to exploring a new city, a new country, a new continent. There are deep histories, interesting peoples, and articulated ideals about life and living worth delving into.


This isn't about living the "Ooo La La" life. That's too bourgeois for us. Besides, we can't afford bourgeois-ness. No, it's about experiencing everything we can in a place where experiences, thoughts, and feelings are not issued pre-packaged for our protection. It's about breathing the air of philosophies and alternatives. It's about being. It's about awareness. It's about sharing. It's about art. It's about life. It's about living.

So long, America. Hello Paris!!!

We land in the 16th arrondisement on 11 April, 2012.

Bourse - Lady in Waiting