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At Home and in Paris

Updated: Nov 18, 2022


 

The Queen is Dead; Long Live the King!



When I began to write this post, we had just received the news that Queen Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had passed away in her bed, surrounded by family in her favorite home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland. It struck me like a thunderbolt that I was so touched while reading the stories and viewing the films and news reports on the television. It felt poignant to realize that this storied woman, who became the queen when I was just four years old and when she was only twenty-five, is no longer in our lives.


I’ll never forget watching the golden fairytale carriage drawn by beautiful white horses that carried her through the crowds on her coronation day from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey on our small, round, greenish TV screen. Even back then, I couldn’t help but think that she looked like a teenager. She was relatively newlywed, a young mother, and now and throughout her long life the royale crown would weigh heavy on her pretty little head. She had, even more, to carry on her shoulders, besides

the ermine cape she wore as she walked up the aisle in the cathedral. Now her eldest, King Charles III, was to have his own coronation following his Mother’s. While completely tied up with castles and kings and queens in Great Britain, I got off my usual track of exploring my new homeland, seeing and learning about all the royal and noble historical figures and events here in France.

I owe each of my readers my sincere apologies for not having written anything since my August 10th post, although so much has happened since then. Throughout the month of August, we enjoyed long-awaited visits from many of our friends from the States, some we hadn't beinghadn’tn over two years.

Our friend Judith (from graduate school days) and her mate spent a lovely evening with us. After Champagne and apero at our apartment, we took a short walk past l'Eglis. Still, afterl’Egliseine and went to dinner at a long-time favorite, Chez Monsieur. The next evening, Ted and I spent one wonderful evening in the Hotel Meurice on the rue Rivoli near home, enjoying dinner at Le Dali restaurant.



Some afternoon later, we finally met Mark and Donna Greenside (predominantly residing in the USA) after they arrived in Paris from Brittany and their first stay in their home in Finistère since before the beginning of the Covid pandemic. Mark, as many know, is the author of some humorous memoirs about his struggles with being an American in Brittany.

I highly recommend reading all three of Mark's books for anyone wishing to know what it would be like to have a home or even a second home in France. When I read "I'll never be French ( no matter how hard I try)”" I was on the plane on the way here to spend the rest of our lives in Paris, and I laughed so hard until, within a few months of arriving in our new home in France, I realized that every word he had said was true, even though he has the capacity to make the truth, even the most awful truth, hilarious.

By the way, you may have missed it, but it was international cat day in August, and although wecouldn’tt bring Mickey along with us to enjoy the wonderful meal that we are sure he would've jumped right into, we did publish a picture of him in celebration of the day and spent the better part of it curled up on a chair in the kitchen, which

was filled with warm sunlight. He even seemed to enjoy receiving an Instagram comment in response, which spoke to how cats make life and art perfect.

Needless to say, he liked that. Besides having a wonderful cat in our life, something that can make an otherwise ordinary day extraordinary is a lovely dinner in a restaurant like DROUANT, founded by Alsace-born Charles Drouant.

It had been home to the deliberations of the jury of the Prix Goncourt since 1914, an artists’ haunt

famous for its

original and still majestic staircase, The Drouant does not just have a unique personality; it is said to have a soul. The Drouant was founded in 1880, which coincidentally was the year that our apartment house was built, the same year that our beautiful Library was made of Palisandra wood from Central America and shipped to Europe to be used by luthiers to make Violins and other string instruments, and the crafting of our buffet and china cabinet created in Provence, found it's way to Santa Monica, and returned with us to Paris.


Many days we took time out from special activities to spend a lazy day or two in our beautiful Jardin de Tuileries where we enjoyed many of the sculptures, both ancient and modern, and sitting beneath the chestnut trees on a bench just chatting it’sas two old married people do.



We also managed to catch the last day of a fabulous exhibition on Marcel Proust and his close relationship with his mother at the Museum of Art and History of Judaism located in the Maraisartists’. Wewould’ve were fascinated by this magnificently curated story, in words and pictures, of the influenceProust’ss maternal Jewish heritage had on his life and art.

Afterward, that same day, we strolled through the beautiful secret gardens dedicated to Anne Frank.


It had been an extremely long time since we had seen our dear friend Marie-Claire owing to her refusal to become vaccinated and the carelessness with which she protected herself and others from contagion. Ican’tt say that I blame her because, after all“I’ll,Mark’s she was then already in her mid-90s, but after she finally contracted and endured the disease, we convinced her to allow us to make up for

lost birthdays and to take her to a lovely garden restaurant to celebrate the publication for a book titled sculptures and sat“The Dawn of Being”. Unfortunately, it is currently only published in French, but it would be of great interest to any analyst who appreciates the significance of the beginnings of life, even in the womb, and their influence on emotional and mental development. It was such a joy to see our friend, now 98-years-old, and with a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eye as she proudly held up her book for the camera and blew out the candle on her surprise dessert.

The day after, we revisited two of our favorite day-tripping spots outside of town: The Château De Dampierre in Yvelines, so vast and varied in the styles and topography of its gardens that it must be accomplished with the assistance of an electric cart and

still takes hours to appreciate all flora and fauna, which among others, include Canadian geese, mules, and horses grazing in large pastures. The Chateau itself is still being renovated and promises to be a spectacular site for visiting and planning conferences. Still, the.


In contrast, the garden of the château des Maisons in Lafitte is not much to write about, but the château itself, which is relatively bare in terms of its original furniture with few exceptions, has the most unique moldings with enormous ]figures gracing the ceilings and sculptures in niches almost everywhere in the castle which makes it very special and nearly incomparable in its style.


Between the extraordinary outings, we also continued our stroll through the Élysée Park on both sides of the Champs Élysées and took note of one interesting bronze sculpture of Alphonse Daudet, considered to be one of the most iconic names in French literature.



Unlike many famous writers, Alphonsewasn’tt very well educated and wrote his first novel at the age of fourteen. Many of His works drew inspiration from instances of his life. His liaison with a model and the depressing times of his childhood were reflected in a few of his books. His works‘‘Trente ans de Paris,’’ (30 years of Paris) ) and ‘Souvenirs d’un Homme de lettres, (the memories of a man of letters) were more like autobiographies. His novel “The last class” is a poignant study of procrastination.

Although he passed away in the final decade of the 19th century in Paris, his name still continues to be popular amongst the citizens of France. Many educational institutions in France have been named after this famous author, who is considered by many lovers of literature to be one of a handful of writers who realistically portray human emotions.

We also noted a sign next to a huge Cedar tree and we were touched by its significance: It had been donated by a former Mayor of Paris in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel in 1996, just a year after his assassination.




A much-needed respite in our merry-go-round life at this time was a special evening spent with friends Monika and Terence having a delightful supper on the terrace ofMonika’ss high-rise building that overlooks the trees and the river at the edge of Paris in Levallois-Perret. Monika was born in Germany.


Terence was from New York City. According to his autobiography"Paris Par Hasard: From Bagels to Brioches” “" he was already inspired to build a life in Paris by 1973, when his grandparents told him it was“"the most civilized place in the world. When he finally immigrated to Paris in the 90s, his new enterprise Paris Through Expatriate Eyes, was born with newsletters to keep people up-to-date on cultural events each week in Paris, and tales of interesting films and books about/set in Paris. For the wannabe ex-pats who are always asking how they can move to Paris -- or any other romanticized location worldwide -- Gelenter offers some great advice.“There is no template to make it work." "Before the decision to be an ex-pat“make sure you're going TO something rather than running AWAY from something. Something that is burning inside you. Don’tyou’ret turn] away when you run into a problem” He adds that it shouldn't be a random choice from your bucket list. Gelenter trusts in the serendipity of life and the importance of recognizing situations to grab. Despite the stereotypes of how the French are with foreigners, he believes that there is a“greater generosity of spirit in Paris” and adds that human value is appreciated much more here in Paris. He believes one must come here to live a richer more nuanced life. And that he does in infinite ways including a breakfast club held each Sunday in a Left bank

restaurant and a nightclub act where he sings the American songbook in hotel lobbies accompanied by a talented pianist.

Certainly, if anybody's living their dream in Paris, Terence is. And a large part of that dream is his lovely Monika.



I met Terrence after reading his daily newsletters and I approached him about giving me a leg up by giving me some publicity for the two books I wrote in '20 and '21 when I was confined to my computer. He was generous and not only publicized the launching of both my memoir and my murder mystery, he also did an interview with me on his podcast for which I was very grateful.


Coincidentally, I was later contacted through social media by a lovely woman who had been devoting her time to developing a podcast dedicated to interviews with talented people who contribute to and express the beauty in this world and I was honored by her offer to interview me. Nina Kins, as she likes to call herself, is a talented journalist and hostess, and has produced an extremely well-done piece continuing with weekly podcasts with well-known figures in varied fields of interest to her many listeners.


Like Terence, I feel that I am in the right place and will take up many new challenges each year.

Lately, we've had the pleasure of attending some wonderful live theater in Paris, which I am proud to say that I can actually comprehend and appreciate.

First, we went to see a small but extraordinarily magical production of Molière's, kings,Molièr's "Critique of The School for Wives", staged in a delightful theatre located in a genuine cave, owed by a couple who not only have devoted many years their lives to the theater in Paris, but they have brought up their daughter Lexia within their theatrical society, and she herself is now quite an accomplished actress.


We also saw a wonderful French adaptation of American Playwrite Stephen Zweig's “LettersFrom an Unknown Woman"

which has been transformed into a stunning one-woman, one-hour-and-a-half soliloquy produced at a well-known theatre. Afterward, we had a lovely dinner at Chez Francis with

one of the best views of the Tour Eifel. Our waiter said that we were ‘so cute’ ( in French,

“trés mignon”) and he offered to take a snapshot of us. It was the perfect evening.


After that, we saw a play that made us laugh until it hurt. It was a hilarious madcap comedy titled“A Delicate Situation”, yet another French adaptation, this one of a play by the famous British

playwright, Alan Ayckbourn. Next, we indulged in the French play “The Secret of Sherlock Holmes”, which was well staged, stupendously acted and oh so witty, until the poignant end, when we realize that Sherlock's secret is his endless love for 'The Woman'.



And last but not least, we had wonderful seats for the French adaptation of the multiple award-winning American musical comedy by“ Mel Brooks, ”The Producers". In Paris this kind of theater is referred to as a

Spectacle, and it was indeed spectacular. Chapeau to Mel, a great intellect with a wild intelligence and a wacky sense of humor, whom we had the pleasure to meet on many an occasion.


Nightlife aside, in between we were joyfully reunited with friends from Texas and points East, Jane and Clair, whom we had not seen since Marie-Claire’suntil we had lunch at Marie-Claire's home, and then a few days later spent a glorious Sunday in The Tuileries and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in one of the Cafes in the Park.

At last, we were expecting the arrival of our darling and dear friend Lana, from Los Angeles. It had been three years since she had been here with us after so many years of meeting in Paris

from different directions. She even came to Paris the year before we arrived to reconnoiter the vicinity of our temporary apartment. She had been our first house guest in that temporary abode, and our first houseguest in our new and now forever flat near Place Madeleine. Not only were there the dangers of flying and far-off travel for Americans during those three years, but being self-employed in a service business left her without income for two years. After a long struggle to get back on her feet and to restore her savings, she could finally come and stay with us for three whole weeks. Her visit was so filled with joyful companionship, day trips, concerts, restaurants, and just plain old fun that I think I will stop here, for now, to give you some time with this post before I present the continuation. I hope this hasn't been too crowded with some of what's gone on since our last connection on August 10th. Perhaps some readers would be generous enough to comment on what they did and didn't like to hear about.


I will be certain to include your favorites and minimize the less interesting aspects of my life in the most beautiful place in the world in the following post.

A biento!









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