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chatting away

There have been protests about my announcement that I’d cut these posts down. And you know, I love chatting away here. So I’ll try not to waste your time with boring stuff, but the deal is, if my chats bore you or waste your time, turn me off. So on we go. 

Every morning I check the website meteo-paris.com to get an idea of the day’s weather and plan the day accordingly. Today is cool with dark clouds, possible rain. I’ve made a list of the museum timetables, which are all different and very confusing – some are closed Monday, some Tuesday, some never; some open at 9, some 9.30, some 11, and some have late hours once or twice a week, which, after my success yesterday at Orsay, I am interested in trying again.  The Louvre, the mother of all museums, has late hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. So unless there’s a downpour, I’m going to try that this evening at 6. Like yesterday, it’s sure there will be swarms of Italian and Spanish schoolchildren, because they don’t eat dinner until 9. I try to imagine convincing my children to visit a museum at 6 p.m. and have dinner three hours later … without much success.

Speaking of my children, now that I realise how hard it was just to get my little self here, I cannot imagine how in 1994 I dragged two reluctant kids, Sam then 10 and Anna 13, for three weeks to France, on very little money. Their tickets came through their dad’s travel points, we stayed in Paris with my artist cousin Debbie, sleeping on her not-recently-swept floor, and spent most of our time here testing the patience of my dear friends the Blins in Provence, where my Canadian kids learned to sit at a table through a long meal and actually look at things in museums. When we came back to Paris at the end, they were two weathered travellers, very different from the punk skateboarders who landed there. We went to the Louvre and Orsay and climbed the Arc de Triomphe, but what they liked best was visiting Pere Lachaise Cemetery to see Jim Morrisson’s grave.  
In adulthood, I don’t know how or why, they have both turned into wonderful cooks with sophisticated palates, very interested in food.  And as payback for my feat of endurance in 1994, they both cook, sometimes, for me.

I did my “courses” this morning, walking to the supermarket down little streets where men and women stood or sat in cafes, drinking their tiny cup of morning brew. At the shop I bought, again, a big bag of endives for very little. Endives at home are a luxury item and here are a staple, so this time I knew what to do – I made braised endives for lunch. My vegetarian friend Patsy asked for the recipe when I mentioned them before, so here it is, courtesy of Lynn: 
Take 4 or 5 endives and cut them in half top to bottom, lengthwise. Cut out and discard the middle bit which is bitter, and brown in a skillet with olive oil.  When nicely browned, cover with water and parboil until tender. Drain, cover with grated swiss cheese and butter and put in the oven to bake until the cheese melts. I ate them with some chicken I’d bought at the market, and though I’d decided not to drink wine at midday because it kind of wipes me out – floating in mellowland – I couldn’t not have a glass with my first, pretty damn good attempt at braised endives. Santé.

There’s a “rubby” – I don’t know what to call him, because he’s obviously not homeless – who sits in front of the bakery right next door all day long. It’s like a job for him – he arrives when the bakery opens, carefully puts down his box to sit on and his begging cup, and sits there watching the world go by until the bakery closes, when he rises and goes away. He must take a lunch or bathroom break, but I haven’t witnessed that. He is there almost every time I go out, and I don’t quite know how to deal with him. He isn’t handicapped, at least in any visible way, has a friendly face, but there he sits waiting for coins, and I don’t feel like giving him any. At the same time, I don’t want to scurry past avoiding his eyes, so yesterday our eyes met and we both said Bonjour. He knows my timetable better than anyone except myself. It’s very odd. 

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I’ve been chuckling about “les flics,” but there’s a huge police presence here – in public places, young men in uniform with what might be Uzi’s. The other day there was a long line of police cars by the Petit Palais, and as I walked by they must have received a command, because suddenly all these taut young men were strapping on pale blue bullet proof vests and gun belts and other lethal equipment and leaping into the vans and charging away at high speed with sirens blaring. I wondered what the crisis was. The university is still on strike with more strikes threatened, and at the demonstration of the “sans papiers” the other day, again, a very large number of police were in the background, keeping an eye on things. I forget that European countries have experienced terrorism first hand and recently, and are more than anxious that it not happen again. Oh, the peace, so far, of being Canadian. 

And a word about a subject very dear to my heart: shoes. Shoes. When will I learn? I packed nice pairs for social events, a little pair of black slingbacks, some even higher for fancier things – and a pair of loafers for sightseeing. Madness! Shoes mean survival in the sightseeing world – the difference between enjoying the day and enduring it. I know this and forget it every time. After a day on your feet, there is nothing you care about less than style; all that matters is comfort. I wrote to Madame Blin in Provence about this, and she wrote back suggesting that I wear my running shoes and hope I didn’t meet anyone I knew. Because only tourists wear running shoes. 

At this point, I don’t care if I look like a tourist, I want to be able to walk. So tonight, if you run into me at the Louvre after 6, please don’t notice my feet.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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