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Updated: Mar 6

I'm Way Behind, but I'll Try to Catch Up‼️

I suppose I should begin by confessing the reason I'm so far behind. It is that I'm an IT idiot, Ph.D. and all. The trouble started months before I could hardly bear it anymore. I'd try to insert photographs into my blog posts, and it would take hours and hours because my trackpad just was not

operating as it should. Liz told me that it might be my battery and that I should turn over my computer and check it out to make sure that it wasn't bulging. I did and it looked fine to me (what do I know?) so I continued to struggle until I was finally able to publish the Venice blog and get through December to the new year. But oh boy, it was hard. So many beautiful photographs to choose from, but dragging and dropping was a Herculean task. So after I published everything up to the end of the year, I decided I would find an IT person who could look at my MacBook Pro and diagnose the trouble. Lo and behold, he found that it was indeed the battery. He sent Ted and me down the street to catch a bite of lunch and said he would put in a new one immediately. When he called us to let us know everything was up and running, we returned from the café and he showed me the difference between my bloated, corroded, and decrepit battery – – I mean, really old. As old as my MacBook Pro, which is so old I'm ashamed to tell you. Then he showed me a brand new battery, still in the box, and even a blind man could've seen the difference. Then to impress upon me the importance of having the battery changed every couple of years, even though I keep my computer plugged in on my desk and don't carry it around, he took out his iPhone and showed me a little film of a laptop with an old battery in it.

As I watched it explode, throwing flames in all directions, I realized that I had been running the risk of setting our entire apartment on fire, because those flames would've hit the draperies and jumped from window to window, and wooden doorway to wooden doorway, and would have a hay-day with the Persian carpets, and the wooden furniture, all because I had been neglectful, and also utterly uninformed. I felt so ashamed and furious with myself as this cost me so much time and effort that was needless. If only I had paid attention to the fact that things weren't going well instead of trying to just march on like the trooper I like to think I am. So now, I believe I can show you everything and tell you everything because it's going to be such a whiz-bang going forward, and I hope you enjoy it all. So to begin the new year, we decided to

have dinner in a Moroccan restaurant (?) that came very well recommended by an expert in Moroccan cooking. Unfortunately, the best I can do is to show you a couple of photos of what is a lovely Moroccan-style interior. The food and the service were not so hot, and so now, the Restaurant Timbad has been permanently removed from our list. Frankly, I would rather have begun this post with the most

important event of the new year, which falls on the 7th of January

It's the birthday of my dear friend Caroline, who turned 75 on

the 7th of January this year. She is Parisienne, recently widowed, still active, and full of life. She's so gregarious and a marvel at making friends with total strangers that it's difficult to contain one's extreme admiration. She even throws herself a birthday party every year, no matter what day it falls on. All of her friends from near and far who could be in Paris at that time show up with good wishes and gifts of friendship and affection for this very special lady. There's always good food, music, and dancing. When the cake is rolled out, Caroline extinguishes the candles and gives her thanks to all, with a special address that always includes a timely subject. Then, from the moment they start playing 'Happy Birthday to You' by Stevie Wonder, everyone sings and dances, especially the birthday girl, who can go on until at least midnight without hardly stopping for a sip of wine.

And when Caroline begins to dance, almost all follow suit. It's quite clear that Caroline's liveliness is contagious. She is a force of nature and I feel so lucky to be able to call her my friend. For those of you who haven't followed my blog closely, you may not know that Caroline is a very, very talented actress, director, and acting and speech coach. She gets an enormous amount of pleasure from promoting young people, and I'm sure her generosity fuels that life force of hers.

Her work with young actors, trying to learn the tricks of the trade and the art of acting is life-long. Besides the obvious reasons for enjoying these annual celebrations, both Ted and I find her guests to be very interesting and colorful, with many (in one way or another) connected to the world of art, whether it be film, writing, directing, producing, and generally creating beauty as their way of making a living. These occupations are so far from our own experiences as psychoanalysts, that it is a pure pleasure to be amongst the invitees to Caroline's soiree. One might wonder what could follow this first act of the new year. Well, a few days later, we had the pleasure to attend a very interesting play, which had been presented

previously and had won many positive reviews and a nomination for the coveted Molière! "Le Montespan" is the story of France's most famous cuckold, one who dared to defy Louis XIV. Jean Teulé's best-selling historical novel, settled down for its adaptation at Théâtre La Bruyère in Paris. It was in 1663 that Louis-Henri de Montespan, a young and quite penniless Marquis, married the sumptuous Françoise "Athénaïs" de Rochechouart. When she takes up the office of the queen's lady-in-waiting, her charms soon dazzle the monarch, King Louis XIV, whom no woman could resist. This is a love story about a cuckold (Louis Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, the Marquis de Montespan), who is humiliated by the King of France when his lewd favors fall upon Françoise-Athénaïs and changes the Marquis's life. He became the laughing-

stock of courtiers. From that point on, and until the end of his days, he would never cease to defy the authority of Louis XIV, constantly demanding that he return his wife to him. When he learns of his marital misfortune, the Marquis has his carriage repainted black and the roof of the vehicle decorated with huge deer branches. The provocation is a scandal but does not stop there. Since the king took his wife from him, he would seduce his own. However, as soon as he is, introduced into the queen's room, only the repulsive ugliness of her majesty causes the marquee to abandon his plans. With his repeated impertinence, the atypical,

facetious, and very much in love Marquis narrowly escapes an assassination attempt and is finally exiled from the court to his estate until his death. Having carried his indignation high, including with the Pope, the Marquis de Montespan became one of the first historical figures to dare to challenge the legitimacy of the absolute monarchy of divine right. He alone embodies the revolutionary spirit that will overthrow the Ancient Régime

a century later. This play seemed to brilliantly depict the Baroquy era restoring the time of precious ridicule and worldly salons. I felt Étienne Launay's direction to be rhythmic and effective. The beautiful scenography -- changing lights on painted panels and curtains -- transported us to another time. The costumes and hairpieces transform the actors into a host of colorful characters. The actors play a big part in the success of the show. The extraordinary Salomé Villiers, the very fair and intense Simon Larvaron, and the truculent Michael Hirsch lit up the stage. A good moment of theatre, even for me with my limited French.

After the play, a matinee, Ted, and I had a delightful conversation about this fascinating piece

of theater over dinner at the restaurant l'Evade, only a short walk away from the theatre. I must say that we were having quite a nice time and able to stay out late, even though we had been left on our own since Jeffrey, Michelle, and Genevieve had finally been able to fly back to the Philippines to visit their families for the Christmas holidays and Genevieve's fifth birthday. We had certainly been spoiled by having someone so reliable and trustworthy

as Jeffrey to do the heavy cleaning in the house and also the handiwork and anything that required standing on a ladder. One more week to go, and he would be back. Even Mickey noticed his absence.

Ted and I had to pick up the slack for six weeks. Mostly Ted! Additionally, we suspended our day trips to the countryside on Tuesdays and Fridays 😢🤨

Nevertheless, we still went out in the evenings, for dinners and concerts and theatre, and with friends. On January 16th we had the pleasure of attending a wonderful solo recital of a classical guitarist, Thibault Cauvin, playing at TheStudio des Champs Élysées. Following his full anniversary concert at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Thibault Cauvin took us for an intimate journey into Bach's works and chose the setting of the Studio des Champs-Elysées to invite the viewer into the heart of his guitar, where we might live these moments in an intimate setting. His performance was Incroyable ‼️

Afterward, we were wound up too much to go home to bed, so we had a light bite at our favorite Chez Francis with its beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. Then we walked home in the crisp of winter. The next evening it even began to snow on and off for a few days and remained on the ground in the parks and on the cars and especially around the edges of the city on the grass or soil. It started that night while we were watching television and I couldn't believe my eyes but the windows, nearly floor to ceiling, gave us a great view on either side of the television. It was heavier than I had ever recalled seeing since moving here and the wind was fast and furious putting on a great show. It was a month late for Christmas, but it was worth waiting for. The temperatures were in the twenties and thirties, but a great relief from the cool Paris drizzles.

The remainder of the week was taken up by our ongoing effort to change banks, which is not so easy in France. I'll understand if you have no interest in reading this part, griping about my trials and tribulations (white woman's problems?) feel free to skip over what I now experience as a folie for foreigners. We had our first meeting with the young woman who was to be our counselor at LCL and who spoke wonderful English. Her name is Laura Luft, a name that's hard for me to forget since it reminds me of Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's other daughter.

It always tickles me that these associations that make sense in the USA, ring no bells for anyone here in Europe. Laura was helpful and cooperative and the new bank seems to be much more user-friendly than the one we had originally been associated with since our immigration to France. That bank was HSBC, which is based in Hong Kong. We had no problem with them until they decided that they were no longer interested in abiding by the regulations set down in this country affecting the retail banking market in France. Thus, HSBC sold out to what amounted to a conglomerate of a dozen or more small French financial institutions, collectively known as CCF. We had some concerns about this new organization since the banks in France are not covered by regulations like they are in the United States, and so if the bank goes under, no insurance will restore your funds. After experiencing some early chaos with CCF, we consulted with our financial manager in the States who said that he didn't think that CCF was the best choice for us. Now, we know by this time that this type of expression coming from our manager is always something of a euphemism. He would never come right out and say 'this is not a good choice' or "Do not do this! Get out of there right now!" He also in a by-the-way fashion suggested three very old and respectable banks in France and recommended that we choose a

new bank closest to our home and make an appointment to meet with them. So, we started on our way towards becoming clients of LCL with the help of sweet Laura. But then there were the complications of extricating ourselves from CCF. First, there was the need to combine our savings surprisingly, these complications couldn't be resolved on the Internet or through our bank App, and we were required to appear at our branch, which was some distance away, but not too far to walk. The only problem was, since the change from HSBC to CCF, the entire place was inhabited by strangers, most of whom did not speak a word of English. The second complication comes with the territory of living in France. In France, you don't get a bill from your electric company or your gas company or your cable or Wi-Fi company, but are required when opening an account, to provide them with all of your banking details, and they automatically withdraw the charges due each month, or by-monthly, or sometimes by-annually from your bank account. Our immediate concern was that if we didn't leave some money in HSBC/aka/CCF to cover the automatic debits to our checking account or our credit card, (which isn't a credit card, but a debit card) things would be bouncing like mad. So we electronically transferred half of our joint checking account at CCF into our new bank, LCL, and left the remainder in the old checking account at CCF, until we could find a way to transfer everything over to LCL. Provided you're still with me at this point with all of these acronyms to keep in mind, or that you are still even interested in this crazy story of mine, I will go on to say that we found out that we were in luck because our President Emmanuel Macron had passed a law last year that required the new bank to handle the transfer of all that kind of data from

the old bank to our new account, which was something that had been left up to the customer to take care of in whatever way he or she could in the past. So lovely Laura put in an official request that all of those accounts be transferred to LCL to be debited in a timely way to our new account. At that time we had the naïve idea that if we waited a couple of weeks, we could then just simply transfer over the remainder of the funds from CCF to LCL and close the old HSBC-now-CCF account. Needless to say ( but I'm gonna say it anyway) it was not that simple. Two additional trips were made to CCF to handle the matter because they had refused the request from LCL. Here's the point where I wish I were a truly talented writer because my story is starting to sound like material for a Dr. Seuss story, not for children, but for adults. Especially adults, who have any idea of immigrating to a foreign country. This cautionary tale is simply meant to say that no matter how much homework you do and how careful you are at making lists and checking them off-- even if you get past the point of a long-term visa, living in your new country for eight years, and acquiring a 10-year residency, you still haven't figured out all the ins and outs of living in the country in which you've chosen to make your new home. Those of you who have been following my blog post these last 2 1/2 years know that I love this country, and have every reason to adore it. But there are these little warts, here, and there, bugs in the system, or kinks in the fabric of any country-not-your-own from birth. The conclusion of the story would not come until the middle of February, so you are now being spared by an intermission filled with some new tales that may be much more interesting than the end of this one. For example, we were thrilled to obtain tickets to hear Monteverde's Vespers in the glorious royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles. Click below to listen to this performance in The Palace of Versailles, Conducted by Sir Elliott Gardiner at an earlier date.

We thought since the concert was at 3 p.m. on a Sunday, that we might have lunch at our old favorite, the Restaurant Trois Marches. Now, for those who have already read my mémoire, some of my early posts, you may have some idea of some of the special experiences that I've had in that beautiful city, but I don't think I've spoken before about my first time in Versailles and our first visit to that quaint, two-story white house with French blue shutters and a beautiful slate roof, which we stumbled into like two drowned rats wearing jeans and sweatshirts in a terrible downpour, getting off a tour bus for lunch break before entering through the gates of the palace. My wise and wiley husband was not about to follow the herd to the appointed tourist trap café. Instead, he had been conversing in French with the English-speaking French tour guide in charge of our trip, and he asked where the French people in Versailles enjoy a good meal for lunch. Sure enough, she had directed him to go left at the corner left at the next corner to look for the little white house on the right with the three steps going up to the front door. She thought we might be able to get a table. We were looking forward to this special treat, but as the front door opened, all we could see was this stately gentleman in a tuxedo with tails, a sharply starched white shirt, and a bowtie. One look and Ted knew that we had walked up the right steps to the wrong place. This was a place for businessmen and women, dressed to impress, and not showing any impact of the pouring rain. This was a Michelin-star restaurant that had been in business for many a year. As Ted profusely apologized in his most eloquent French and started to back me up towards the door, the Maître du L'hôtel firmly coaxed us back into this place of the rich and famous. It was then that we noticed that an elderly couple, who looked for all the world as if they had been the models for American Gothic (without the pitchfork), had followed us

to the restaurant from the tour bus. They were neatly but dressed very plainly, she in a plaid skirt, blouse, and raincoat, and he in tweed slacks, a shirt, and trenchcoat. Neither one of them looked particularly disheveled or otherwise affected by the weather. I could swear the moment I saw them that they came from the Midwest. A young woman attendant led the way upstairs to an elegant powder room, where we could dry off and tidy up a bit ( clearly for our comfort). When we descended the maître ushered us to a lovely table in the center of the restaurant next to the aisle. Directly across from us, he had seated the 'Gothic' couple. Ted leaned towards them and whispered "I hope this is all right" to which they responded, "Absolutely! It's exactly what we wanted, at least once on this trip which we've planned all our lives until retirement". I felt as if I were dreaming,

almost as if we had magically wandered beyond the gates of the palace, into a small, intimate dining room, draped in French blue velvet with Louis the 14th furniture everywhere. Immediately we were given our menus. I attempted to read something that was not translated for English-speaking tourists. No problem, as Ted was able to tell me about every wonderful dish on the pages, and still ended up ordering our entrées, plats, and a fabulous bottle of wine with finesse. Having never been in a restaurant of this caliber before, I was surprised when they served not our first course, but an impressive array of fabulous delicacies and two flutes of champagne, my first Apero. Then came the fois gras with fig confit and perfectly toasted triangles of delicious bread. My main course was roasted duckling as I had never tasted it before. The trimmings were so artfully, arranged that this is what sticks in my mind even more than the flavors, which were many. The wine Ted had chosen was something I had never experienced in my life, and what surprised me is that I hadn't known him to drink very much wine, and yet he and I nearly finished the entire bottle during the meal,(we still have the bottle,

a 1976 Château Raspail, now covered with the drippings of candles we had placed in it during our first years of marriage). So I had assumed that the next offering would be the pastries, but I was surprised to see two men, one on each end of a three-story wooden cart. It was no less than 6 feet long. Each layer displayed an array of what must've been at least 150 different cheeses. I had never seen 150 different kinds of cheese in my life as a 'valley girl' brought up on Velveeta and sometimes Swiss, blue, or cheddar. I was so glad Ted knew what he was doing because I wouldn't have had the slightest idea of how this operation was meant to go. But Ted chose six different cheeses for each of us. Small portions, were ceremoniously placed on each of our plates and set before us, along with a new basket of hot baguette straight from the oven. It was then that Ted first told me the story of the famous quote by Charles de Gaulle. Today there are more than 1,000, varieties of cheese.

After the cheese, it seemed impossible to be able to fit in both a little bit of the tour of the Palace of Versailles as well as dessert, so we just ordered coffee. But of course, the coffee didn't come by itself, but with a tray of miniature delicacies from the pastry chef, each of them, irresistible, and so beautiful that it called for photographs. I remember this now as if it had happened yesterday, even though we have had many such dinners and enjoyed wonderful wines for our new country of residence, as well as the fabulous cuisine and wines of and in many other countries. But this particular lunch will always stand out, perhaps because it was our first culinary spectacle, and we had very little money to spend in those days so $100 for lunch seemed like a lot in 1981. But we too felt, just like the Gothic couple, that we had wanted to have one meal like this on our first visit to Paris. We had been back to the Trois Marches at least three times since our first. The next was the following year, when my matron of honor, and her husband had met up with us in Paris for our honeymoon, and wanted to take us back there as a wedding gift. The third time was in December of 1987 when we had spent a month traveling and ended up spending New Year's Eve in Paris. This time we were dressed to the nines, even though it was raining cats and dogs, just like the first time we had been there. There was a train strike, and we had planned to take a train to Versailles from Paris. The strike made us late, but the restaurant was kind enough to send someone with a car to pick us up at the train station because taxis were few and far between on New Year's Eve. It was a magical evening, and a wonderful dining experience, however, it still couldn't come close to that first luncheon, when it was all about the food and nothing else. The fourth time, the restaurant had moved to a new home in the W hotel over the fence with a view of the gardens of Versailles. Sadly, when we entered the dining room, we were confronted with a startling change in the atmosphere of the restaurant. It was the pinnacle of French modern, just as elegant, but enormous with ceilings way too tall to preserve the intimate original, and although the view was beautiful, this glass and marble institution was not what we had in mind. However, the food and the service were precisely as they had been in previous times but the three steps were gone. Our friend JoAnn was with us that time and it was enjoyable to see her face light up as we introduced her to the food we had come to know well. The only improvement in the service was the appearance of miniature tapestry-upholstered stools on which to put our handbags, placed next to JoAnn and me. This little touch of formality made us giggle. so you can just imagine how Ted and I felt when we made a reservation for lunch at the present location of our favorite restaurant, once again moving, this time into the center of town. When we walked up the three steps and opened the door, we both gasped. It was a homey and casual little Bistro with a nice menu but unfortunately, an unimaginative version of old favorites, nicely plated, but a giant disappointment. It had all changed forever like so many things in life. The following week was relatively quiet with the dentist, my trainer, a manicure, and a nice lunch at a little bistro up the street, just me and Monika. There was an attempt to end our relationship with CCF that

failed miserably, but that Friday evening we were buoyed up by a marvelous production of "La Rêve de Drôle L'Homme" which was a play adapted from a short story by Dostoyevsky. The adaptation had been achieved by the two actors that starred in it, one of whom was a young friend of ours, an older male actor, and the Director. It was in the small theater of the Nesle, but even though there were only two actors, The production loomed large as one of the most interesting I've ever seen. Not surprisingly it was deeply

psychological, and even psychoanalytical in the sense that the two personalities were aspects of one person. The man of the title was vibrant in his long monologues. The infrequently used meaning of the word 'drole' in the title applies here. As a boy, he was not seen as funny, but strange and he was mocked by his peers. His alter ego, the young woman, was as graceful as a ballerina, as athletic as a gymnast, as beautiful as she was haunting until the final moments of integration, which was both psychic and physical. It's no surprise that this play has been performed many more times than had been anticipated (we've now seen it twice). It certainly deserved an encore!

Afterward, we had a drink with the young actress and her husband, and when they flew away into the rainy night, we sat and exchanged all of our impressions of this extraordinary piece of theater. The last week in January began with a memorial for our friend Howard Hesseman, Caroline's husband, who had passed out of our lives last year. Caroline had arranged a dinner at the Perit Broc restaurant on Boulevard Raspail.

As usual, an indescribably, healthy, delicious,

and creative dinner was prepared and served by Claudine, as our energetic debate raged on about everything from opera to politics until this wonderful evening had to come to an end to give Richard a little sleep before his long workday. We don't get to see them often enough, but when we do, it's sublime. The day after, the draperies were rehung, and we prepared the house for our young friends Antoine and Lexia, who had once again agreed to live in with Mickey while we went off for a few days. This time we went to a place called Cheverny.

Cheverny in the Val de Loire is only a little over two hours from Paris, and very close to three marvelous chateaux: Cheverny, Chambord, and Chenonceau. We stayed at a very unique resort, called Les Sources de Cheverny, Located in the countryside on an enormous stretch of land, dotted with various buildings, including a castle, and a solitary suite, perched on stilts in a small lake surrounded by water with pastoral views, beautiful even in the wintertime. Our suite was

called "Le Baron Perche" after a book by Italo Calvino. If you're interested, I'm told that the French is difficult and the story pecular! Les Sources also offered two restaurants: one gustatory delight gourmet rank Michelin Star and a cozy bistro-style restaurant where breakfast was served each morning and lunch and dinner were always popular and had to be reserved in advance. The suite was indescribable and nothing like the exterior. of the structure that housed it. The outside resembled a utilitarian outbuilding of some sort with a giant wooden vat that had been converted into a luxurious hot tub overlooking the lake. Inside, the modern decor was soft and gentle, spacious, yet cozy, and had a bathroom to die for. The closets were plentiful and well placed, and as we went around, exploring and unpacking, we both decided that a woman must've designed it since everything was incredibly functional yet aesthetically fashionable. We spent four nights being lazy and enjoying the Chef's delights. Our days were filled with visits to lovely old churches, a delightful village, and the impressive château Cheverny.

That is such a hidden gem that most of our French friends weren't familiar with it, and my AutoCorrect keeps changing it into a Chevrolet, so it seems relatively unknown. Whenever I run into these Spell-Check anomalies, I'm not quite as worried about the fate of the world in the hands of AI as are many these days. The week after we arrived home, we experienced a real theatrical treat. The French adaptation of a film that has always been a favorite of mine "The Dead Poets' Society". It was playing at the Theater Antoine, another of those gorgeous old

theaters in Paris. I had seen the film so many times I was unafraid of having to deal with the French language. and was curious about what the French did with this American masterpiece. When we entered the theater, we were surprised to find that there was a spontaneous pre-show going on including most of the cast, playing live music from the 50s, including a very talented electric guitar player on a vintage Fender, who did an Elvis impersonation, both dancing, playing the guitar, with gyrations galore as he sang. It was so much fun to see a lot of older people in the audience, some who climbed up the stairs to the stage and participated in the revelry, dancing up a storm, and even singing, while those in the audience were clapping and smiling from ear to ear. It was a reunion. And everyone was having a ball!

The play couldn't have been more outstanding. The young actors were fabulous, and both the actor who played the headmaster and more surprisingly the actor that had to fill Robin Williams' shoes as Professor Keating were flawless. The actors' abilities for projection and clear diction made it easier for me to understand every word, and both the joys and the pain of that new group of 'dead poets' were palpable, leaving few dry eyes in the audience as they played the soundtrack from the film during the final scene, when each of the students stood on their desks while crying out "Oh captain, my captain". It was a triumph and both Ted and I exited quite satisfied, indeed.

February ended with a production of the opera Boris Gudenhov, considered to be Mousoursky's masterpiece. The venue was the Theatre Champs Elysee, and the Mise en Scène was one of the most dazzling in memory. The orchestra and choir were outstanding, to say the least. The acting and the voices of the soloists were authentically Russian in style. But both Ted and I felt that the story was not as compelling to us as it might've been had we been up to date on our Russian history. All the same, the wonderful seat we were upgraded to at the last minute in the center of the orchestra, and the spectacular images made it well worthwhile and an interesting end to Februay, and a mostly grey and rainy winter.

Next Time I'll be mostly at home and In Paris, hanging out with Mickey❣️

And wishing you a good Spring coming up soon.

À bientôt‼️

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