First Friday

What a rollickin’ First Friday! Oh the joy of meeting up with old pals, meeting new pals, and sharing Squid with new readers!

RJ brought his awesome rice pudding… Mr. Riley brought some Laughing Cow… and Judy made her incredible Absinthe Cake. Deeee-lish.

It was a fun night of food and conversation… Pam from La Belle Epoche  (down on Main St.) dropped by as did Spencer and some of his pals. George & Mimi, Lisa & Maria (visiting from sunny Portland), Mr. Maybe (in a spanky hat), Jared (a brand new reader) found The Cartoonery… Mr. Riley and Liz, Dave & Olga, Natalie, Paula, Spider man RJ, silly girl Zee, Chris & John (so glad you’ve resurfaced!) … and Wally among others.

Up on Squid Row Mama’s Flicker: A few more photos of this First Friday… and a TON of Vespas snapshots, which has it’s very own set now… hee hee. Obsessions are fun.

Parisian signs

I found this at a snack stand in Luxembourg Park. It's Barbapapa! Cotton Candy!
This tree lives along the banks of the Seine.

This is a photograph of a mailbox... I dig the texture.
This sign was over by The Pantheon. Yay! Electric cars!
It's Pizza Chicken!

Home and yet…

Getting our luggage down the stairs was much easier than getting them up! It’s amazing that we schlepped all this stuff around Europe by cab, train, subway, plane, and car. What was in’em? Art supplies, gifts, books, bottles of Pastis, absinthe and various other alcohol, pamphlets and maps and stuff… oh, and some clothes.

Even though the plane has long since landed, and the jet lag is beginning to fade, I have so much left to share about this trip… pictures that aren’t up, funny things that made me laugh… observances I want to note… so I will continue to post about this travel adventure… because my head will still be in the clouds long after our initial return.

J’adore

A thunderstorm just swept through here. I watched as dark and gloomy clouds surrounded Sacre-Couer and streams of rain descended upon it. And just as quickly as it came in, it swept out again, dotting our apartment’s windows with just a little wet.

lemon tart from an awesome Jewish bakery in the Marais

It’s hard to believe that today is our last day in Paris. It feels likes like we just swept through, like a Parisian thunderstorm. I feel like I could do with another week or another month. Paris feels right. And as we sat in the Jardin de Luxumbourg, Judy and I discussed just what it is to BE Parisian. I see it as an attitude and a way of seeing life. Parisians LIVE with an artistry. Life is an art. The way you dress, what you eat, how you eat and who you eat with. Seeing and being seen is most important… and the beauty of a dessert and the beauty of a painting are very much the same.

I want to take “being Parisian” home with me. I want to see life differently… to look beyond the fast food restaurants, shopping malls and freeways… to see past the SUV’s, parking lots and Mega grocery stores. I want to embrace public art, public space, and gardens with statues. I want to create Paris in my heart and in my home.

man on the bridge
le pont of a thousand faces

French Wine and stuff

Okay… I have had a couple of glasses of French Wine (Cote du Rhone, 2008) … so if there are some errors in this blog post, you will excuse me…. (hiccup!) Also… I have a feeling that I am just going to ramble a bit. My apologies.

Wine is sooo cheap here! Geez… and it’s tastey! We have been enjoying many wines from the Rhone area. The other night we had a Clos Petite Bellane, 2005, which was very good and recommended and purchased from two fellas in the wine shop two doors down from our apartment.

The apartment here is so cute! It is small, but well laid out, well planned and well placed. There is a view of Notre Dame, and way off in the distance, Sacre-Coeur. Unfortunately, there is some scaffolding in between as a new building is going up just along the line of site. But I can hear the bells of Notre Dame in the morning and at night. Of course, like the last three places we’ve stayed, we’ve been on the top floor. Very top floor… 73 steps up to get to this apartment. BUT, the view has been nice. The rooftops of Paris are just amazing. There is actually a book out I’ve seen around here done up by an artist watercoloring the roofs of Paris.

rooftops
our Paris spot

And I have to tell you that the clouds here in Paris… hang for the artist’s eye. I have never seen clouds so wonderfully shaped, so exquisitely placed for the painter to capture, for the photographer to shoot. Nobody does clouds like Paris. I have failed to capture them properly in my sketchbook, so I have resorted to photography. All truth out, I prefer to take photographs, and then draw from the pics. It’s this stupid thing I do… I get overwhelmed a lot… I don’t do well to Plein aire painting, like Randie. I would rather take photos and then work from them. So I have taken 5 trillion photos on this trip… which is why getting them up on Flickr has been slow going.

The weather here in Paris has been much more cool than in Aix. We’ve had a bit of rain, which wasn’t a hard rain, but a soft, just-enough-to-make-you-get-out-your-umbrella rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit wet, and so we will need to find an indoor activity to do… or maybe just saunter about the Latin Quarter. Each day here, we’ve had SOMEThING to do… some place to go… maybe tomorrow we’ll just hang out in a cafe… or find a dry spot and just draw. That’s what artists are supposed to do in Paris, right?

Paris…

... or I space invader paris

I love the way Parisians live. I love the city… I love the cafes… I love the scooters… I love the bicycles.

Did you know that you can rent a bicycle just about anywhere in the city? Velib. There are these bike kiosks all over the city and once you give the little machine your credit card info (buy a week of biking around… which equates to 5 euros) you are off and running…. or riding. Here’s how it works… you tell the machine your number (on the ticket it gives you at the onset), you tell the machine what bike number you want and then you pull it out of the slot. That bike is yours for free for the first half hour. If you return the bike to another kiosk within 30 minutes it’s free. If you don’t it is 1 euro per hour. So this is one way we are getting around the city. It’s faster than walking and cheaper than a cab.

harold and me getting ready to ride

I do have to say that it’s a bit scary riding on some of the high traffic and narrow streets. I don’t think I care much for the way the French drive. It’s rather aggressive and “honky”… but Paris has made efforts to improve bike-ability here… giving special lanes to bus and bike only (which the cab-drivers seem to ignore) and there are plenty of the bike kiosks around for your biking pleasure. There have only been once or twice that a bike “malfunctioned” on us. Judy’s chain broke on one… Nelson had a wobbly tire, one of my tires was a bit low… but we’ve gotten to checking them over pretty good before selecting a bike now.

at the Tour Eiffel

Another way to get around the city is by Batobus. It’s a boat that roams around the Seine picking up tourists and depositing them to various touristy type places. It goes from The Louvre all the way around to the Eiffel Tower. We bought a 5 day pass, but we’ve only been on the Batobus once. Our place is right on the edge of The Latin Quarter where it buts up against The Jardin des Plantes… which, by the way, is a lovely garden.

Harold on the Batobus

Les Amusantes

laughing mannikin

I look for the funny in everything… and on this trip I have found some things that have amused me… I have photo-documented some and written down others. I will share.

In the south of France, Pastis, the anise alcool that is made locally,  is practically a way of life. In the afternoon, when the sun is beating down on you causing you to sweat in an inhuman manner, you want something cold and refreshing. Pastis is just that something. As is customary, you have the straight alcohol served in a tall narrow glass with ice. Your server will also bring a jug of water and you dilute at your leisure. What’s amusing about this, you ask? There in Aix, Pastis is cheaper than coffee.

It is becoming a bit of a joke that whenever Judy and Nelson go to Europe, they bring a heat wave. This trip has been no exception. The London Leg of our trip was rather warm… we had prepared for rain and brought jackets and umbrellas… but London was experiencing unseasonable heat when we got there. Not surprising, the weather was warm in Aix… uncomfortably so… in Paris… we’ll see. Thanks Nelson and Judy.

oh so silly

Okay, it’s no mystery that I love Vespas… and France is full of them! You turn the corner and Boom! There’s a Vespa! this happy little number caught my peepers. My guess is that a rather cheerful person owns this one.

I was sitting one day in Aix people/scooter watching and wondering if there was a way to kill the “Vespa Cool.” You can’t help but look cool on a Vespa… but there is a way to kill the cool factor… Here’s some: toilet paper on your shoe, riding a Vespa. Old 300 lb lady with groceries, on a Vespa. Large balding man in undershirt and shorts with flip flops… on a Vespa (actually witnessed).

Love a duck!

Idon’t know why, but I just love ducks. I think it goes back to my childhood when my folks used to take me to the duck pond near where we lived, and I would feed the ducks. So when I see ducks, or anything duck-related, I feel a need to stop, smile, feed, or photograph said winged adorable creature.

I had a book as a child. It was about this family of odd shape-shifting creatures. Each one had a different color and a different personality (One was an artist! I liked that one!). They are Barbapapas. The book I had was about the humans (that’s us) polluting the Earth, killing all the animals and making a mess of things (shounds familiar) and so the Barbapapas do like a Noah’s Ark thing and gather up animals and some people and shoot off into space. It was wonderfully illustrated and I stared at the cartoons for hours.

So in Aix, I ran across a toy store that had these lovely stuffed Barbapapas in the window. Too bad the store was closed.

Barbarapapa

… expression is the conveyor belt of art… or is it the other way around?