Josh and Tamara’s cabin March 2016

I pulled myself away from the warm cabin. Noah washing dishes, Wayne in the cushioned wicker chair reading, our bellies full of crepes with caramelized bananas. The dog watching us from the deck, his fluffy black face framed in the screen door window, his eyes pleading for me to walk him. Each time any of us move or lean he turns to the top of the stairs willing us to follow him on an adventure.
So off I plod always hard to pull myself away from the nest to explore another patch. But Charlie our big black poodle has no such troubles and his enthusiasm catches me up. He runs ahead and shows me which way he wants to go and when he sees I’m heading in the opposite direction forgives me and bounds ahead of me guessing the next path. We meander down to Andy’s beach down 99 stairs slick with slime. I hold on to both hand rails and take one slow step at a time, feeling overly cautious and old. At the bottom of all the stairs, which climb straight up and down, as if they are a ladder to the heavens, there is a smaller path which has been placed in the path of a wayward waterfall. The path was built during the summer no doubt, when the water was no where in sight and the path as dry as the Sahara. But after our long winter of rain, rain, rain and more rain forest rain the path is swimming and the logs steps are as slippery as a slip and slide. I slip off one step and miraculously catch myself in an awkward tripping waddle. I remember how precarious life is, how impermanent and how I almost ended up in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, with no one to help but this ball obsessed dog.
I yoga on the rocky shore looking out on the ocean, two small islands in the distance and the coast that snakes out of my sight to the right. The sky is blue and the clouds painted in it are white sun lite puffs that I imagine sleeping in. I used to sooth Litia when she was little by getting her to imagine she was laying in a billowy soft cloud and the warm wind was gently rocking her in her cloud hammock. These are those clouds.
Charlie has his orange ball digging it into the sand his tail swinging like a metronome on hyper speed. I watch him be so in the moment, so joyful, so bloody happy to be digging on the beach in the sand with this ball. He would be unable to wag his tail faster with out catching flight or without his tail becoming invisible from the speed of it. I can’t help but smile, I realize he is a great teacher, or really stupid but teacher is how I choose to see it. I add a voice to him because it seems appropriate and his voice is not wise or the voice I give to GOD but cartoonish. The dumb galumphing cartoon bafoonish bear kind of voice ” look at my ball, there’s my ball, I love my ball, I’m digging my ball into the sand, hu hu hu hu hu, I love you so much my ball, I love you, I love you, I’m digging, I love digging and on and on but what I translate this into is: be in the moment, be in the moment, be joyful, be present, life is good.
There is a path that follows the creek which turns into the waterfall, that ends at Andy’s beach and trickles into the ocean. It is hidden that someone lovingly added some stairs to. It is now covered in spots with fallen down trees from the winter storms. It is different from the rest of the island which I attribute to the life giving nourishment of the creek. It isn’t very long or wide, the creek bed is perhaps a yardstick wide and the path just big enough for a person to walk single file.
I’m not going to be able to explain how beautiful it is, how green and the exact shade of dark and bright all at the same time. The moss on the hundred snake like branches that come out of the cedar tree that was knocked over during a long ago storm is the colour of the brightest, most vibrant, young, fresh green. You know the colour of new growth, the flushing tips of new foliage. I wonder if Ireland is this green. The cedar lays itself over the creek and up the other side of the bank two or three train cars long. Part of the tree is still attached to the roots on my side of the bank and I wonder if it is still alive. Another cedar is as tall as a five storey apartment. It is perched on the other side of the creek bed, it’s top branches seeing over the rest of the island. The sound of the water running over rocks, through hollowed logs, down ledges of wood, rock and earth, sounds like a plane flying overhead. This tree has the bulk of itself on the other side of the creek but one of its roots had reached over the flowing creek bed and planted itself over on my side of the path. It is a leg thick root, sturdy and planted firm reaching over to the base of mother tree. How long did it take that root to grow over the creek bed? It must be 50 to 100 years. Ferns hang down from the banks — some green and alive, others brown and flaccid, drooping in the water. Has this creek been here… forever?
Up ahead where the path ends but the creek doesn’t, a tree the girth of a cement truck lays itself across the creek from west to east like a wooden bridge and under it a tunnel is made by it’s sheer mass. There are new plants emerging everywhere the new green of a skunk cabbage, the darker green of baby ferns being born. Charlie drops his ball in the fast moving stream and dunks it and squishes the water from it and dunks it and laps up the water to drink. ” I love my ball, I dunk my ball, my ball, my ball. hu hu hu hu, I’m so happy!”
I want to photograph each magical thing about this path but know I and my iphone camera wouldn’t do it justice. I want to write about it but also know I am not gifted enough of a writer to be able to bring it to life. I wonder how many years I would have to stay here to be able to describe it perfectly?
I climb over a fallen tree covering the path, walk over a big log which is now part of the creek bed, the water rushing through it’s core. I breathe in deep penetrating breaths and realize this place is magic.
I head back to Josh’s cabin, Charlie trying to entice me to walk further. Noah is lying on the couch reading, Wayne snoring softly in the bed upstairs and I finish drinking the remaining Bengal Spice tea from my thermos with Charlie at my feet by the fire.

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I Prague

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Charles Bridge at sunrise

Charles Bridge at sunrise

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We are in Prague staying for the first time in a Servas house. This is a service that we signed up for back home where people put their houses on a list, that says they are willing to have people stay at their homes for free and people can stay at our home for free. We hosted a German family last year. It was admittedly a bit strange having strangers show up on a moments notice to stay with us.
We arrived feeling a little apprehensive and shy. These were not the right feelings…… we should have been THINKING beware of all things that seem to good to be true, keep expectations low, you usually get what you pay for. We should have not been surprised because after the first contact on email with Petra which was extremely positive it went down hill fast. At first all our interests were surprisingly echoed back to us by Petra, she was a film maker, photographer, tour guide, a mother of a 14 year old son, she was personal friends with Jaromir Jagr the famous hockey player??. Wayne started to fantasize that he would meet him, they would go play hockey together and Jaromir would invite him to play professionally. The fact later learned was Jaromir’s trainer lived in the neighbourhood some time ago. Then the excitement ended as she was no longer answering our emails. This was a SIGN we chose to IGNORE because we LOVE the word FREE.
We were greeted with a half-dressed, half drunk Petra. Her dress was a too thin, too worn, too small, sheet that had a whole in the back and a slit that ran up to her armpit. At any point in the conversation I was afraid she would bend in such a way that the bits she was covering would fall out. That wouldn’t be a problem really because we already knew what she looked like naked. There were countless nude photos of her on the walls to take away any curiosity. The photos were of a younger, slimmer version, when nudity must have seemed like a good idea.
Noah said quietly ” I don’t know where to look”
The house was a disaster and that’s something coming from me. There was dog/cat fur so thick on the carpet it blurred the design. Dirty dishes and papers covered every bit of counter and table. The odour was cat urine and mould. The dog was a cute one but he peed on everything including the poor turtle, the chair leg, the clothes on the line. I tried to keep my face with a thank you so much you are so kind expression. Not the HELP! GROSS! YUCK! I need to get out of here face which I was hiding. Stay positive for the kids, don’t be so critical, your one to talk, as if you’re all neat and organized, after all the stories you have heard about crimes against humanity and you are distressed about a bit of dirt and smell. You are too posh and your life is too easy and you’re too bloody dramatic. How lucky are we that this is our biggest problem, I scolded myself.
I think my disgust and shame was made bigger because I saw myself in her. I was a case of beer away from letting things fall apart like this. Our family has a knack to turn each place we stay in into a mess within minutes of arriving. It was terrifying to me and I felt like I could only inhale partially.
Petra confessed to drinking beer in the morning so she wasn’t able to drive us anywhere. We really didn’t want her to drive us anywhere, I just wanted to turn around and run. It wasn’t like we were in the middle of a town! We were 45 minutes outside of town at the Nupaky Hotel stop. We had navigated the 7 hour bus trip, the subway ride from the train station and then on the bus that took us out to the suburb/country kind of Langley equivalent all pastures, houses and freeways. Near the bus stop and Petra’s house was the Nupaky Hotel we went there to ask for directions with all our packs looking like we wanted a room.
A worker outside said “not hotel” we smiled thinking he didn’t understand.
and Wayne said “we’re Canadian” so he directed us to the office.
I laughed later when we found out it wasn’t a hotel but an Alzheimer’s hospital. I imagine the guy who saw us coming must have thought oh gee these Canadians really have it mixed up. I was disappointed because it took away the possibility of us running away to stay there.
Petra showed us to the room where we would all stay together, three of us on one bed. Mirrors on the ceiling, and more nude photos on the walls that gave us all the willies.
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Noah on the floor with hair, dust, dirt and cat pee, bless his accommodating soul. Luckily we had our bed liners to cover the questionable sheets.
The bathroom had a cage with four budgies that had littered feathers and food on the floor to add to the dust and dirt. The toilet brush had not been used in the toilet for a long time, it laid on the floor covered in feathers, hair and dirt. We were given strict orders to shut the bathroom door or the cats would eat the birds. I felt an immediate responsibility to feed and water the birds. The water in the cage was curdled with debris and the food tray was empty. I felt like a thief quietly changing food and water. A pile of leftover teddy bears, Christmas decorations and Easter eggs were in a big pile on the floor covered with dust. There was no toilet paper the first day (don’t ask). No lock on the door and her son Sebastian had a private entrance to the same bathroom. Chloe wanted us to guard the door for her. Sebastian stayed in his room the whole time we were there which creeped us out a bit.
The second night the cat came up on our bed, and it proceeded to pee on our blankets. The new bed cover she offered us had been freshly peed on as well. There is nothing like the smell of cat pee to make you feel like freaking out.
Chloe said “if you find us another place I’ll sleep on the couch, anything, I’ll never complain again” The never complain again we may have made up.
We are now sitting in Starbucks feeling homeless for the first time on the trip. I wonder if they’ll let us sleep here?
I realize that this traveling adventure is not what I thought it would be. There have been lots of surprises and lots of ho-hum just like home. Today it is like a team building/family building exercise. We are facing our experiences like a team alright sometimes a bad fighting team but also a hand holding, giggling, talking, got your back team. I will feel nostalgic for our countless opportunities to hold hands with our kids. The conversations we have about books, love, friends, education. The experiences we are having to put in our belts to shoulder us when we are back at home. It doesn’t really matter that we are in Prague. One church is blending into another, one city could be the next and I just want to feel at home with my family. Location is not important the kids only want to feel connected, to feel respected and heard, to have fun. Which frankly we suck at a lot of the times. But we are having this amazing, crazy, challenge filled experience together and if we don’t kill each other I’m sure we’ll be stronger. Ok I’m not sure, but I really really hope so. On days like this one where we are feeling at home in Starbucks I am glad to be here with my family.

Wayne napping in Starbucks

Wayne napping in Starbucks

Wayne our tireless place finder, found us a new place to sleep for the next 4 days. We are going back to say goodbye to Petra tonight. It feels like we are breaking up with a bad boyfriend. Thank you Petra for letting us feel grateful for our own home, for bringing us together in our desire to leave your home, for having Chloe say “I’ll never let my house get like this.”
Back at home my mom and Wayne’s mom have both been in the hospital. Wayne’s mom fell and injured her already compromised leg. My mom got sick during her trip to London and had to be admitted into the hospital where they performed lots of tests. Both seem to be on the mend. But it is hard to be so far away when this happens. We are feeling very lucky that we have my brother Dave, and Wayne’s sister Lois to be there with our moms.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

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Wayne and I did have a lovely 4:30 am walk over the famous Charles Bridge to watch the sunrise. But Prague has left us all a bit underwhelmed. Probably because of the 33′ heat which we all wilted in. We’re Vancouverites for goodness sake turn down the heat already. On the last day Wayne and Noah paddled me up and down the shores of Prague in a paddle boat. It reminded us of wonderful and much missed Al with his paddle boat on his pond in Kingston. Chloe stayed in the apartment to “finish her homework” which is code for being able to do what I want without those old drags telling me what to do.
Noah said about Petra’s place ” I didn’t notice the dirt so much”
“Oh Dear” is all I have to say
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Parenting

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imageI cried the other day in front of Chloe. I didn’t want to and tried not to but I was unable to suck it back up. This parenting a teen can really hurt my feelings. I knew in my rational brain that Chloe wasn’t intentionally snubbing me, but I was hurt. I feel like I’m trying to date a guy I love and he’s just not into me.

Wayne and I are often fumbling from one plan to the next like moths bumping and crashing into a light, not getting anywhere, except for sore heads. Instead of instilling confidence and the strength in our family, I fear we have created more fear and self doubt. By taking the children away from their secure home, friends, school we have shaken up their compass and sense of self.
Plus we have failed repeatedly at showing our kids a good time. We often can’t agree on where to go, where to eat, when to eat, when to stop, what to see. I understand why they want to stay home.  What is the point of being so far away from home, if we can’t get them out of the apartment? Selfishly, Wayne and I love Paris! I look longingly at other families that are out together and think what are they doing right that we aren’t.

I think the difficult part of this parenting a teen can be the lack of connecting that takes place. Translate to they really don’t want much to do with us. As a way to entice, force, connection with our kids and try to get them off WIFI, smell air that is outside and move their limp, pasty white bodies. Wayne and I came up with a plan that we would date our children one on one. Gosh how swell (I imagine I am channeling Flanders from the Simpsons)! One parent would be with Noah while the other would be with Chloe then visa versa. We would take turns deciding what was on the agenda, the children could pick one date and we could pick one date.
Really both kids would rather stay in their rooms than go out and explore. Noah keeps protesting that he only wants to have FUN and our job is to keep searching till we find what is fun for him. Wrestling and sword fighting are fun for him. He’s getting stronger and taller and it’s too dangerous because I’M going to get hurt. Chloe complains she is tired and just wants to be alone. Going outside creates a barrage of insecurities and discomfort. Someone might speak French to them or gasp look at them. Can’t they see the beautiful, capable, children we see?
It is not all bad of course and I tend to be dramatic and sensitive some days. This just happened to be one of those days. Chloe is playing the guitar now, writing a book, reading profusely. Noah is helping Chloe write, thinking of his own books to write, studying FIFA history, plus reading a ton. But their life line seems to be not mom or dad or Paris or outdoors or anything but iPad. We just can’t compete, we’re not smart enough, entertaining enough, or friendly enough.
My vision of this trip was that we would walk together hand in hand experiencing new lands, being amazed by this building, that mountain. interested in that new person. We would be drinking up culture, history, new food, new friends, a whole new bond would be formed a lifetime of stories.
The reality feels more like Wayne and I forcing the children to have some cultural experiences with them dragging their feet trying to tell us they are not interested. We as parents keep dragging the children keep resisting. I imagine other families back home playing board games around the table laughing, friends coming and going and ours is like four dragons trying to bite each other’s heads off before retreating to our individual caves.
I don’t know the answers do we push, do we leave them alone? Do we remove the blasted cherished iPads. They are not doing anything wrong and next year I might pray for the time they were closeted in their rooms safe and sound. There is no smoking, drinking, partying, having sex, doing drugs, failing school all I am thankful for. I just thought there would be more enthusiasm, less fear, less boredom, less lethargy.
Perhaps the thing to do is pretend all is well and focus on the positive. That seems to be the trend on Facebook. Show the prettiest pictures of the family write about all the great things and leave out the pain. So I am left wondering WTF are we the only ones floundering.
I cried in front of Chloe because I wanted us to have a wonderful day together (in Paris). I had it all planned in my mind how it would be, how much fun we would have. First we would watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame then we would go see the real thing and then we would eat a French pastry. But Chloe didn’t want to go out in the hot, crowded Paris and have probably a boring time and she didn’t want to watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So I cried, then she felt guilty and came out with me. She was right, it was too hot, too crowded, the line up too long so we just had a drink and came home. I cried some more when we got home after hearing Wayne’s fantastic day with Noah, mourning the girl who really wanted to be with me and for the me that can’t figure out what to do about it.
I pray our children will look back on this trip one day and know it was a mission of love and not one of torture. Perhaps we missed the mark? But what we intended was to have quality family time. To experience great things with each other to make lasting memories. Like a cheesy Hallmark card I suppose.
I have to remember just because my children don’t want to do what I want them to do it doesn’t make them wrong or bad. But really who doesn’t like biking and fresh air and French people? I am trying to love my family as they are and not as I wish they would be. Goes for myself too. It’s a hard one for me. I once had a wise woman tell me when Litia was suffering from teenagitis. Imagine your child as a wave your job is to metaphorically let them come and go. When they are in enjoy the closeness then let them out again.  Well I seem to be the fool holding on to the wave as it goes out, sand in my bathing suit, water up my nose, looking clingy and insecure. I think the children have to be out exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, hair brushed, teeth flossed, nails clean and trimmed, enjoying our gripping company for life to be alright. When I stop trying to orchestrate perfect some ordinary beautiful moments happen.
Wow all of this angst I’m feeling, might be because I tried on a bikini yesterday with a well lit full length mirror in front of me. Pink polka dots don’t frame doughy white that well, just so you know. Or because I’m turning 50 in a few days. Or because my children are in Paris and don’t want to do anything but stay home!!!! Wayne had an insightful thought that might be true, our kids don’t have the same urgency to see things because they are invincible they have their whole lives in front of them. Wayne and I know this could be our last day on the planet, so we want to make the most of it.

P.S. Don’t worry this to shall pass and as I write these words it indeed has and returned and passed and returned. Just thought I would share the struggle as well as the delight so if one of you are struggling you know you’re not alone.
P.S.S. Any brilliant insights on teens and WIFI and monitoring iPads are all welcome.

Home Sweet Home

Friends wait at the airport for our return with signs and hugs and our children are beaming with happiness. We all go back to our house and eat Trilussa pizza.
“The best pizza in all the world” says Noah Even better than his favourite meal of the trip, a pizza in Barcelona. We drink in how great our Vancouver life is. We are happy to be home, what a fantastic place to call home. Litia is home!!!! Our much missed bed is like sleeping on a damn fine cloud, the open window at night with fresh air breezing in, the quiet outside, it’s paradise. The mountains are majestic, the sun shines for two weeks straight. The school is on strike so the kids get a mini summer holiday with their friends. We pack up right away and go to Keats with 5 kids. Noah and Brennan play from morning till night, badminton, ping pong, soccer, frisbee, cards. Play, play, play. Chloe, Fiona and Colleen stay in their room and make up dances and text various friends, boyfriends made while we were away. The first time kids and their phones have been at the cabin. I feel old and disapproving tsk tsking and shaking my head, but loving the energy and joy they emit. Wayne and I paddle to pebble beach and hike up to our favourite spot to have a picnic, not a soul in sight. I have a profound feeling of love for Wayne sitting on our perch the sun warming us one of those moments to remember. The view of the ocean, the small tree filled islands, the mountains imposing and colossal, is as beautiful as anything we have seen anywhere. How lucky are we?
I’m appreciating how easy it is to go into stores here and talk, I know what to expect, where to get what I want, I’m with my people. I get on my bike for the first time after using the Velib’s in Paris and it feels like there is a rocket launcher on the back of my seat, it is so light and fast.

I do love it here. Litia furnished her and Richards whole apartment from the Free Craigslist site and the kindness of friends. Having Litia and Richard and their new dog Maisy here has been awesome. I love that girl and Richard is such a fantastic young man. I’m trying not to wrap my mother tentacles around Litia remembering this is a temporary stay. Everything is a temporary stay. (Another profound thought)
We are moving in our well worn tracks, we could do it in our sleep, have we really been away? The pace is busy, hockey, school, moving Litia, cleaning, weeding, soccer, tap, art classes, yoga, unpacking.
We spew boxes out of the garage and into the house I am stressed to see all our STUFF. Too much STUFF! I have this dread about all the stuff in our lives. I talk to many friends who feel overwrought with stuff. After seeing so many people living with so little it seems impossible that we could spend a moment unhappy with all our wealth. Luckily we are not starving or homeless or oppressed we should be gloriously happy, instead we are drowning in STUFF. STUFF we must take care of, organize, clean, pay for, get rid of, move, store, trip over, take to the dump, recycle, feel guilt for having, not using and filling the landfill with. We have so much stuff we have to get bigger houses to hold it. We have rent places to keep it. We keep STUFF that for the most part is S___T! How bizarre that our wealth and privilege causes us so much anxiety. As I unload three more boxes of STUFF into Noah’s room last night I scream inside.
I am spending a lot of time imagining moving our home and all its contents to a family in India or Africa, Nepal perhaps. A place where they go to the shop to buy one sugar cube, one teabag, one halls cough candy at a time, they have no running water, bathroom or electricity. How would they feel? Like they won a lottery? I imagine they would invite everyone over and share all of the excess instead of hoarding it like we do. There would be shoes, t shirts and books for the whole village. They would be astounded and confused by the 6 bars of soap and 29 small bottles of shampoo and conditioner 30 rolls of TP, 4 brushes, 5 cans of shaving cream, plus more crammed under the sink, the 300 c.d.s in the cupboard not to mention the 100 felt pens, 25 pencils, 57 pencil crayons, 72 mostly broken crayons, 12 pastels, 39 pens, 10 erasers, 4 rulers, 100 bandages and 3 drawers of medicine, reams of paper, paint, felt, stickers, 5 glue sticks. A Costco nightmare. Don’t get me started on my horror of the toxic, hormone injected, caged, preservative filled, sugar laden, pesticide covered, sweat shop produced, over abundance of crap in our grocery stores.
People would come from near and far to gawk at this spectacle of a house. It would be best as a museum open to the public to show how most crazy North Americans live. “Mamma why do they have so many things is this a store? a small Nepalese girl would ask. How many families lived here? Why do they need so much? They must be very happy. They must be very rich!” the mamma wouldn’t know how to answer. Is it fear of not having enough that keeps us hoarding? There is a fine line, a balance of appreciating my comforts, my privilege, kissing the Canadian soil and all of my fortunes and seeing how misguided I am in this jam packed, plugged in, excessive, a mile a minute life I am leading.
Wayne and I ask do you miss traveling? Remember when? He sent me a letter with tickets from the Rodin museum and the Eiffel Tower, to remember…….so sweet. We decided to make a pact to travel when the kids have left home, grab the packs and jet.
Noah is so happy to be home on Canadian soil with his friends and all things familiar. He has decided not to talk about his trip with anyone. At school he is closed lipped about our adventure. He is working on a project called All About Me and he didn’t want a trace of our travels in it. Except Chloe yelled at him “It’s the most interesting thing that has happened to you, you have to include it!!
It’s nice to see Noah off playing with friends having FUN with people who know how to do it. He is bolting to teenagehood and independence. I am no longer carpooling. Everyday he sets off with Brennan to take the bus or bike. Another stage closed with no fanfare, no warning, no expiry date, just done. I marvel at these children and how they propel themselves towards leaving the minute they arrive in our lives and I mourn all the endings. Yesterday in the car on the way to soccer we listened to loud music and he held my hand. All of me was smiling as I poured all my love into those 4 fingers and 1 thumb.
Chloe is back with her friends, cat cuddles, baby sitting jobs trying to figure out how to make and save all of her money. Getting her to spend a cent is like trying to pry a salmon from a bear. Usually her goal is to get me to spend mine. I was impressed that she and her two best friends asked their employer for a 50% raise and got it!!!! Entrepreneurs are budding in our midst. Chloe regales us with her I hate school stories. The best ones are the worst French teacher in the world who snapped at our I just want to be good in school Chloe “don’t tell me your life story! and don’t say sorry, just go and get the paper!” Madame Mean yelled.
Or the PE teacher who is literally trying to kill her! The girl hates PE and likes to share how she sucks at it and is sure when she runs she will truly die. “Really I mean it!!!!” she whines she is so convincing sometimes I wonder would it really kill her? I think Chloe misses some of the traveling life mostly the free time to write, read and play guitar. Our busy schedule doesn’t have a lot of quiet time for such pleasures. A world trip is being planned for Chloe and her friends after graduation. Is this the girl we couldn’t drag out of the apartment wanting to go again?
I have a feeling she might even be missing me as I was requested to read a book to her. So we curled up in bed and are reading The Golden Compass (ok I love this). There seems to be this miracle that I’m afraid to say and perhaps it’s only a fleeting thing but Chloe and Noah seem to be missing each other?? They seek each other out to read together and do homework. Having Litia around to help with homework take them to movies or out shopping, is an added blessing.
To sum it up and bid adieu to this blog. “Thank God”” the kids will say that was so embarrassing and you made us look so bad while you shone like a saint”. I wish I could end with something profound and funny and amazingly brilliant. I’m not sure how profound this is but I had a realization about myself. I have been so busy trying to LIVE everyday, thinking I might die at any moment. Which is fine and good but it made me think about death and disease a lot. Instead of being anxious about what might take me out I could be excited about what is to come and what is here now. So I will end with an excited curiosity of what will happen next and an expectation that I will live to 110 vibrantly healthy, riding my bike, doing yoga and being fabulous. Thanks for reading.

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The beginning of the plan

The year 2012 was a an emotional one. Four of our friends died, all of them were too young to go. All of them had many things left to live for, two left young kids without mothers to raise them. Deb and I arrived in Emergency on the same day I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, she with liver cancer. Mine was non cancerous, small and in a easily accessible part of the brain. I realized from the first moment in the hospital how lucky I was, where was Deb was fighting for her life. The second time this fit young woman in her early 30s had been struck with cancer the first time at 19. Life is not fair or just or predictable. Life is so mysterious as to be terrifying. It feels like a game of Russian Roulette and I had dodged the bullet and Deb’s gun was fully loaded. The gun did not discriminate. She had young children, she had a life worth living, she took care of herself, she really wanted to live.
So although I felt extreme gratitude for my escape from the loaded gun there was great sorrow for Deb who wasn’t so lucky. The vision of our random temporary condition of life did haunt me. Any day I could just drop dead. Al did after shopping at Costco he came home and died in Lois’s arms; a massive heart attack. He was 52 years old. Tanya was walking on the sidewalk and was pinned against a bagel store by a car parallel parking. Cathy felt sick in June and died in September the first day of school leaving Leo, Noah’s best friend and his sister.
Life is like walking over a mine field and some of us are going to make it today and some of us aren’t. All of the organic produce and bike riding won’t make a bit of difference. Then what I asked myself am I doing with this precious could end at any second life? Am I doing what I love, what brings me joy, meaning? I wasn’t, not really I was dissatisfied. If I was going to die at any moment was this the life I wanted to live on my possible last day on the planet. The answer was No.
So Wayne and I talked about many things to shake things up. Move somewhere else, live separately, get new jobs, travel around the world. BINGO that one we both loved. Wayne had travelled around the world 3 times in his twenties. He was exploring and falling in love with India and Europe while I was raising and falling in love with Litia.
When I was 18 my best friend Anna and I decided that we would travel around Europe together. So I set up a bank account with my PIN number ROMA to motivate me to save and not spend. I was a much better spender than saver so it might have taken me till 50 to really have saved enough to go. But at twenty when I found out I was Oh no not me I’m too smart to be pregnant. The world travel was put on hold. I instead got the privilege of raising Litia which was a fabulous trip one I wouldn’t change for all the trips around the world. The dream of travelling the world was still there dormant.
Now we would be travelling around the world with our two children Chloe 14 and Noah 12. Luckily a lot had changed since our first trip with them to Ontario where Noah threw his hotwheels around the cabin and could not sit still for a micro second making me think I would never travel with him again.
If you think we are independently wealthy or we won the lottery or we just have a bank account full of cash you would be wrong. We had RSP’s we cashed and a line of credit we were stupid or smart enough to use for emergencies. We would rent out our house and have someone take over our business so we had clients to come back to. We thought we needed $100,000 for the year. Then use the sale of our house for our new retirement plan if we lived that long. Then we would go to the edge of the cliff and jump and hope we would survive. But if life was a minefield better to die on an adventure than standing still.
Chloe was excited about the idea unlike the moving to the Sunshine Coast idea. Noah was a lot less enthusiastic. What about his friends he didn’t want to leave Brennan. Chloe with her big sister charm bewitched him, enough that he trepidatiously agreed. So we set our sights on Dec 2nd departure and worked our butts off getting things ready. I felt like it would of been easier to bulldoze our house down and start over rather than try and organize the mess inside. Wayne spent hours booking flights, researching places to go, places to stay, organizing money, all the details I wasn’t very good at. I unappreciatively of Wayne’s contribution and a classic martyr about all I was doing. I became a grumpy whirling dervish readying the house, friends came over to help and I was sheepishly delighted. If we both weren’t involved I’m not sure how we would of made it on the plane. I wouldn’t of had tickets and the house would of been a disaster. Our itinerary was formed with lots of wishes and talks, books from the library and the lucky meeting online of a family in progress of their own world tour. However that smart family took 5 years to plan and save for their trip where we took 6 months with a sort of plan. Wayne wanted to go to India, I had to go to Africa, Chloe to Venice and London, Noah to Greece and Barcelona. From there we just filled in the blanks and left a lot open to spontaneity.
Our bags were packed we had our travel shots. Wayne and I realized Noah really does have a phobia of needles. The screaming heard in the waiting room and the amount of strength required to pin him down was something we hope not to have to do again. Two weeks before departure the wonderful family we rented the house to backed out and we were left scrambling to find someone else. We had a crack addict in our rental suite that we couldn’t get out of it. We had to hire a The last second the house was rented and we were wearily starting our adventure.

Noah and I do Paris

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Noah and I went to the Louvre to see the Egyptian and Greek collection supposedly the best in the world. Shouldn’t the best be in Egypt? Noah and I packed a lunch and headed out. I allowed Noah to competently lead me to the Louvre on the Metro which he had figured out in seconds, he had me to our destination without a moments hesitation. We go to our favourite place on the Seine over the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor walking bridge. I would show you photos of our day but Noah requested no camera so he would have my undivided attention. I had camera withdrawal, like a smoker without a cigarette. Oh I want to photograph you here, that there, such a strange ritual to try and immortalize each moment, as if the moment itself isn’t enough. So instead I commented each time I wanted to take a photograph. Oh I wish I had my camera to take a photo of……. Noah grabbed my hand and pulled. Our first stop was to play ping pong a French past time. Most parks are set up with ping pong tables where the Parisians pack their paddles along and have games with their friends. At this table they have paddles available on request. Plus tables with board games. The wind was blowing so hard that a shot across the the table would be swept back almost to halfway rendering lots of lunging and missing. Noah won as he did Chinese checkers, each race we had up stairs, and every competition suggested, my long blonde haired companion whipped me. We played this fun game a cross between tether ball and tennis where you get to smack a tennis sized ball that is attached to a string, which is attached to a pole and the person on the other side gets to smack it back. Great tension release although we both had sore arms from so much enthusiasm.
Noah is such a great date, a wonderful conversationalist. Our conversations can be anywhere from the Egyptian afterlife, to favourite Disney character, to the meaning of life and religion. Noah hands out complements freely.
“I’m so glad we here together, this is fun, I love being with you” he’ll tell tell me while snuggling into my arm. I try and breath deep and really be present for all this. I want to slow down these moments to paste this on my memories all the sweeter perhaps knowing that it is fleeting.
I drag him away from the games and pull him towards the Louvre which he is now back pedalling away from. “na I’m ok I don’t need to go to that. It’s too busy, it’s too touristy lets just go to the fair.” he pleads
No must go to the Louvre, must instill art appreciation, must foster love of mythology. Like a caveman I plow forward
“I know a secret entrance that won’t be busy.” It’s just that I have to find the stupid thing. We wind around hordes of people, hawkers selling Eiffel Towers 5 for a Euro, Noah trying to tell me let’s just go I’m fine really. At last we come to an underground entrance Noah saying “it’s too long a line up I’m not waiting!” we wait only 20 minutes at most and we’re in.
This imposing fortress, come palace, come mansion of art that sees 9.7 million visitors a year is a sea of people. But we had only one destination in mind no Mona stupid Lisa for us. Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece that’s all we want. Percy Jackson books have started a mythology revolution in my boys mind. So Noah like an Olympic athlete in a race against death ran to the right floors, while I keeping up, tried to steal glances of other treasures. I could of meandered all day amongst the art but that would be a different day, a different date. We headed for, saw and conquered the two exhibits in record speed. Mummy, hieroglyphs, mummified cat, nude Apollo, nude Aphrodite, nude………. “mom why do the Greeks always have to make everything nude? It is a bit unusual that a warrior would be buck naked except his sword and shield but hey it must of been hot I guess. “I hate that about them, lets go”. and we’re out of the Louvre hair flying behind us.
Now onto the fairground of the Tuileries Gardens. The Gardens are stately, regal, small sections of grass with statues gracing the centre. The trees create long paths from the Louvre to the Place de Concord and are manicured in perfect rectangles boxes. Green bistro chairs litter the lanes, under the trees, around the fountain, people picnicking, reading, taking a nap but we were headed to the Fairground, a concourse of rides used to bribe children to visit museums. We strolled up and down the small fairground, Noah trying to entice me on the FUN of each ride. “It will be great, I promise you’ll love it, don’t worry it will be fun, if you throw up I’ll cut my hair.”
As tempting as all that was, I dragged and protested “I will not! cannot! go on those horrible twirling rides! and you can’t make me!”
So we agreed on the Flume Ride, twice, no sickness, not too wet and a great scream at the end.
We on another day went with rollerblades to skate along the Seine but there were so many people it was like avoiding land mines. My go gear works well but the stop one is sporadic. I feared crashing into some innocent passerby. Plus my pride was taking a toll because I have moments of looking like I’m having a seizure as I try to balance myself on the damn things.
Noah and I have been going to the Hotel De Ville back by our apartment rollerblading at night when it’s cool and secluded. In an attempt to injure me, Noah likes to suggest we race. I always lose because I’m terrified of crashing. My mantra being around Noah is “don’t hurt me” he’s like living with Kato from the Pink Panther waiting around corners to attack. It keeps my on my toes.
We discovered an underground parking lot which we skated from the top to the bowels -6 floors. “Ahhhh! Ohhhh! hehehehe this is AWESOME ahhhh! Don’t hurt me” I yell as Noah reaches for my hand.
The playful, competitive person that he is keeping me young or he’s trying to kill me? Where is his friend Brennan when I need him?

A family outing………

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Oziris

Oziris

Now this is what I’m talking about, FUN! Yeah! We all got to go out together! It required some strong negotiations and pleading and begging to get Wayne to agree to be subjected to a Theme Park. “You can do that anywhere, we are in Paris and we should be doing Paris things, besides I hate theme parks and rides” Wayne insisted

We insisted more on insisting so we were all up on Monday morning 7 am to have a day of FUN? at Parc Asterix.

Usually getting Chloe up at 7 am would be equivalent to poking a tiger in the eye with a stick (she actually growls and hisses) but for roller coasters it was like rousing a kitten. Noah bounced and chattered excitedly, Wayne looked gloomy but it was hard not to be influenced by the kids enthusiasm even if he was being dragged against his better judgement.

Goudurix the worst roller coaster in the world

Goudurix the worst roller coaster in the world

The first ride we went on was Gouderix a roller coaster with 7 loop da loops, was I insane? was my brain going to spew out on the tracks? It was voted the worst steel roller coaster in the world! The line up was unfortunately short so we were sitting in the ride prepared for pain within moments. I know your thinking how stupid going on the worst roller coaster in the WORLD. It was just that the best wooden roller coaster in the park was blinkin well closed grrrr. We screamed from beginning till end our voices seriously compromised, but we were all smiling at the end. Although I would of been more content with just 3 loop da loops. I felt like I was drunk after the ride, not the good drunk, if there is one, but the dizzy, the ground is moving, kind. The next and favourite coaster was Oziris, HOLY COW! We waited in a long line up for this one and I was so thankful for that life prolonging line up, it could of been all day and I wouldn’t of complained. There was an exit gate just before the front of the line that I kept my eye on so I could easily escape if I gathered enough sense. But no I am lacking sense so we were buckling ourselves onto this coaster where our feet dangled and we went upside down through a tunnel, in water, up and down and all at 90 km an hour. Perhaps we need to scream in life because we have it all pent up inside of us with no lions chasing us. So scream we did, it was hold onto your face it is going to peel off kind of fun. Right after the ride we found a queue for single riders that had no wait so the three kamikazes went again while I regained my equilibrium. Noah went a total of 10 times the crazy fool.

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Thank God by 6 pm we were back on the bus on our way back to the apartment completely spent. Noah and Chloe both had sore throats the next day. We all stayed in bed, barely moving. Too much fun turning upside down. Wayne the guy we had to drag to said park has now written a song about the day. So I am chalking this one up to success.

“Hey Hey have you ever touched the ground? Hey hey is your planet upside down?         I search from coast to coast to ride your roller coaster and I’m never coming down. We’ll search from coast to coast to ride your roller coaster did we break the speed of sound? Hey Hey this charming little curse. Hey Hey sweeping cross the universe.
CHORUS
Our heads are spinning round and round. This world’s much better upside down, we’ll stand in line, you blow our minds, let’s do it all again.
CHORUS”
perhaps he’ll play it for you one day, it’s very catchy
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Dates in Paris

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A JOURNEY IS LIKE A MARRIAGE THE CERTAIN WAY TO BE WRONG IS TO THINK YOU CONTROL IT  John Steinbeck

My Parisian Date

My Parisian Date

imageMAY THESE DAYS LAST LIKE CENTURIES.
My Parisian boyfriend Guille (Wayne’s french monicker) and I romped around Paris giddy with all the sights. Paris is like a great sculpture, carved of stone by romantics. I remember being in Paris when I was 18 still wet and shiny. I was here with a girlfriend and we were lost. The people we met were rude, our highschool French useless. We were scared and young and couldn’t even order dinner properly. We couldn’t wait to get to Italy where we felt people were friendly and pizza was easy to order. This time in Paris has been completely charming. The people we have met have been tres gentile. Many people graciously speaking English to us. Most Europeans speak four or five languages while we hang our heads in  unilingual shame.

I let Guille lead and I for the most part was happy to follow, each place was a delicious surprise. I didn’t at first concede to being led, it has taken most of the trip for me to realize this following can be a great thing. My new motto: just because I can do it, it doesn’t mean I have to do it. So why try to be in control, it’s just one more job? Instead I am trying to be thankful and enjoy the ride.
The biggest difficulty with this plan is there is no, I repeat, NO SHOPPING, or looking or browsing or glancing in the general direction of a store. It is shocking to me how little we’ve bought and how little anyone wants to buy. “You have no socks without holes in them, your shorts have one patch and now the bum is starting to wear thin. Hey we could buy some new ones” I offer enthusiastically. “Nah I’m trying to make it home with out buying another pair” he responds
I was trying to encourage Noah to buy something the other day in a gift shop I wanted to look in, and he said “no I don’t need a trinket, I’m not interested in having anything I won’t use.” This is exactly what I was trying to drum into his head before our trip but now it seems to have worked too well.
Whose child is this? Wayne’s obviously. What a mother…..trying to consumer him up.  8 months of seeing a smorgasbord of different eye catching exotic stuff (perhaps mostly unneccessary), that I only glimpsed from afar while being herded past. We have purchased one painting (I stamped my foot to get that one) and the rest could fit in one hand and on my two feet. I know, I don’t want a bunch of stuff either….. but???????  But no I’m with the anti Christ of shopping and his spawn. I’m having withdrawal, a kind of non buyers remorse. However many times I replay over and over in my mind, memories, not stuff I still end with the thought Yeah whatever! I want some STUFF.

My date, who would put bats on there families crypt doors? Spooky

My date and tour guide

So back to the non shopping dates. One day we went to Cimetière du Père Lachaise it was hauntingly beautiful we saw  Edith Piaf, Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison graves. Guille had ‘a moment’ at Jim Morrison’s grave standing for a long time, trying to channel his musical genius.
The cemetery is jammed with stunning somber looking sculptures and phone booth sized crypts with old ornate doors rusty and cobwebbed. 20140801-193327-70407700.jpg
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A peaceful, yet spooky place to spend an afternoon. I had the feeling at any moment a hand might reach out of a grave and grab my leg. We sat at a cafe after, I ate French Onion Soup we faced the street and watched the people passing. Spectacular.

Delicious picnic at the jardin du Luxembourg.

Delicious picnic at the jardin du Luxembourg.

The most delicious waffle of all time by the Moulin Rouge

The most delicious waffle of all time by the Moulin Rouge

Another day we biked as far an outer galaxy, pedalling through an ugly industrial part of Paris in the burning heat, to the Robert Doisneau Museum. We love Doisneau’s photography which is very evocative of Paris in the 1950’s. When we finally arrived panting, sweating and drained of energy there was none of Doisneau’s work?????? We saw another guys images which were OK but Wayne’s street images are way better. After the museum we had a picnic in a near by park, where we took off our shoes and laid on the grass.
Up to the top of the Eiffel Tower one day the Montparnese Tower for sunset another. The Montparnese is said to be the box the Eiffel Tower’s came in. it has the best view in the city but none of the charm, just an ugly black box.

Then there was the trip to the Rodin museum. The best museum in the city! We think without knowledge or experience.  We did go to the old train station, the Musee d Orsay which was impressive. Our favourite painting which took an entire wall was Georges Rochegrosse The Knight of the Flowers

Most mens fantasy

Most mens fantasy The Knight of Flowers

musee d' Orsay

musee d’ Orsay

Plus the Jeu de Paume, which was confusing and over our heads. One photographer had a screen up which showed a short film of hands with pink rubber gloves, moving very slowly????? We are nowhere bright enough to appreciate this art, it needs to be more obvious for the dimmer folks like us. Wayne and I crashed a puppet show in Luxembourg Gardens reminiscing when our children would of loved it.
Musée Rodin’s was perfect from beginning to end, beautiful gardens decorated with Rodins sculptures, and an exquisite building where he lived and worked. Sculptures to make you cry and sigh and clutch your heart. Rodin had an exhibit with one of his lovers and former students Camille Claudel and photographs by Maplethorpe. We loved Camille’s work so much Wayne came home to investigate her. We watched a tragic movie of her life. Talent does not equal happiness folks, she spent the last 30 years of her life in a mental assylum. Mapplethorpe’s photographs were mostly of naked dancers bodies, what’s not to like about that?

Rodin and Mapplethorpe

Rodin and Mapplethorpe

We loved it so much we went again.

I love that this guy has his shoes on and nothing else.

I love that this guy has his shoes on and nothing else.

We biked there from our apartment, sigh I’m in love. Wayne prefers the underground Metro and I like the aboveground bikes. I tell myself I like the air and light he likes the dark, smelly, and dank, but I may be wrong. I do see his fascination subways are a mash of captivating humanity, all colours, nationalities, ages, smells, a life story written on each. It’s really hard to avert my eyes and not stare at everyone as we sit face to face knees touching. I would like to vote to change this rule of etiquette from now on staring is not rude but mandatory. Little children are to subways what ice cream is to a cone. Maybe the analogy isn’t right but the best part is that, finally I am able to stare unapologetically at someone delightful.
From our noisy apartment we can quickly get to the Seine and bike along a path seeing the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It is thrilling every time to see that humongous tower. Guille sees it as a woman (dress, corset and long neck) and I see it as a man ( no need to describe).  Riding over patches of cobblestones that leaves our teeth clanking and all our arm flesh wobbling we make our way to the gallery.
The one flaw of our apartment is it is very noisy. We are on the third floor of a non discript 6 story building we overlook two roads. Below our window is the glass recycling bin which is used by all the neighbours of the surrounding apartments. Never thought I would hate recycling. The method is to find the hole on the upper side of the 5 foot x 5 foot box and drop, throw, or missile the glass to insure it will make as much noise as possible when it smashes into little pieces. It is more exciting to be recycling than to hear recycling. Some people seem to get the recycling urge at 12pm or 5 am. The garbage truck likes to come early as well and it seems to delight them to loudly idle and rev and rev and idle for a good 15 minutes longer than I can stand. It feels like our bed is down beside the traffic with the mufflers inserted into our eardrums. Oh and I forgot to mention the loud drunk people who laugh and yell after leaving a nightclub at 4 am. I have the urge to scream out the window at them but my scream French is limited. I worry they would yell back and I wouldn’t understand and I would resort to my most common French. bonjour, merci, accompanied with a dumbass smile. On August 12th our street is slated for jackhammering. Summer construction noises seem to follow us where ever we are.

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Inside the Rodin Museum

Inside the Rodin Museum

Mapplethorpe

Mapplethorpe

Biking home I yelled to Guille as he was pedalling in front of me. “you were the perfect person to see that exhibit with!” “what!”he yelled
“YOU WERE THE PERFECT PERSON FOR ME TO SEE THAT EXHIBIT WITH, THANK YOU!” I yelled louder feeling very happy and loving. I am so lucky after 17 years of marriage 21 years of being together, I can still feel like this.
as the Dutch say Leven is Goed…..Living is Good

Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir

Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir

Near the end of the Tour de France

Near the end of the Tour de France

 

At 50…. I’m too old to die young!

One of my favourite things to do.

One of my favourite things to do.

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. Victor Hugo

I’m too old to die young that’s what Kim just wrote to me. So I guess I can stop worrying about that. I will just spend more time worrying about my loss of eyesight, hearing, skin elasticity, hair colour, bladder control. Or should I think of a time, when I didn’t say things like when we were kids back in the old days……there wasn’t any computers, wifi, Ipads, cell phones, FaceTime, Facebook, email, google, Youtube, …..

Gratitude! Acceptance! Being present! that’s what I’m working on. See I do have a job. Those are not easy jobs either I’m needing to constantly remind myself. But my 50th birthday was full of gratitude, acceptance ( cause I got what I wanted and was treated like the boss) and being present to that isn’t a struggle.

I woke up feeling grateful, birds singing breeze blowing in the window. Ahhh what a life, a Disney movie really. I rolodexed through my memories of other fine mornings most revolving around birds, clouds and fresh air. But I have to say hearing Litia wake me with her baby chatter from her crib when she was a babe sleeping in my room, was a magical way to wake up. Or having Chloe and Noah in our bed when they were young snuggled up, the smell of their baby heads right under my nose. Oh that made this mother hen very warm and happy.
Today I got to eat chocolate croissants for breakfast! Birthday songs sung and cards given. The bag of croissants twisted and squished under the jar of pickles made them even more charming.

Wayne and I then went on a bike tour in the 30 degree, I think we’re going to die, heat. But once we got on the bikes, breeze in our hair, other people to impress, we stopped thinking of fainting on the spot of heat exhaustion and started to enjoy ourselves. We biked through a Paris protest an initiation of one more thing Parisian. First we saw about 20 police vans filled with fully decked out riot patrols. Twenty officers jumped out at the corner where we were waiting for the parade of police vehicles to pass. They were carrying batons, guns, and shields. They were wearing helmets, armoured chests and arms pieces looking like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wow a little unsettling as we heard the protest in the distance. Then we biked right into the loud and angry sounding mob, punctuated with loud car horns trying to get through the blockage. Our guide interpreted they were in support of the Palestinians. I prayed for the protest to remain peaceful. Then I prayed for the conflict in Palestine and Israel to resolve.

Our French waiter/chefs

Our French waiter/chefs

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Arriving home late, with dessert hunted for and found at a chocolatiers delicious, mouthwatering shop. We bought three tiny cupcake pops covered in chocolate and adorned with colourful petite pastilles on two and pieces of jewelled candy on the other. Plus an expensive package of macaroons the famous Parisian cookie with the beautiful pastel colours. The green pistachio flavour, the pink raspberry and our favourite the beige Nutella one. But that’s dessert. Dinner was even better!

Chloe and Noah had surprised us with creating a French restaurant complete with menu, small dainty serving sizes, French names and costumes, a moustache for Gabrielle a beauty mark for Areille. You could take me to the most expensive restaurant in all of Paris and I wouldn’t of enjoyed it as much as this one. Five courses, a petit salad, some baguette with balsamic and olive oil, a lemon crepe, heart shaped apple with cinnamon sugar and thinly sliced banana frozen just a little and beautifully presented. We were pampered and waited on by our personal French chef/waiters. TRES TRES TRES BON! MERCI!
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After dinner we waltzed in the living room. Noah having his first waltz lesson. Lucky me, lucky me, lucky me.
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imageOh and you want to know the gift I received???? A beautiful pair of French shoes oh la la. So now I am more French my dear.

My new beautiful shoes

My new beautiful shoes

More Paris

The red Tower is made of bistro chairs. Celebrating 125 years of the Grand Dame Bistro Chair.

The red Tower is made of bistro chairs. Celebrating 125 years of the Grand Dame Bistro Chair.

We are now in Boulange-Billiancourt about a 15 minute metro ride from the Eiffel Tower, where we will stay for a month or more. It is a newer area lacking some of the flavour of Paris. But it is close and safe with everything we need just out the front door. Since we left our nest in Milly la Foret we stayed a few days in a 6 floor walk up in the Montmartre area. The biggest charm of the place were the windows which looked out onto a row of old walk up apartments, with terra cotta chimney pots adorning the roofs. We could lay in bed with a clear view of the sky. The kitchen window my favourite to date, had a view that made washing dishes a pleasure, especially if I was watching the kids wash them. Old Parisian buildings laid out with cloud dappled sky right across the street. Those windows were worth the six flights of stairs we climbed to get up to them.

An open window a thing to behold.

An open window a thing to behold.

my foot in the light

my foot in the light

The kitchen sink. The tap would fold down into the sink to open the windows

The kitchen sink. The tap would fold down into the sink to open the windows

Chloe picked up the guitar and started to learn songs as easy as I make toast. She tried to teach me an easy song and it felt like a form of torture for me. My fingers felt arthritic and my brain sore from remembering where I had to place my fingers each time. How does she make it look so easy?
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Wayne and I gushed over countless photography books left in the hallway our favourite was Alain Laboile En entendant de Facteur. The book is a heavenly book of portraits Alain had taken of his 6 children growing up in the French countryside. There is such freedom and playfullness and life in the images I wanted to live my life over again to live in his world. Or have our kids raised in his world. My favourite book in a long time.image
On a rainy day, one of many, we decided to go and see the Eiffel Tower and leave the young ones at home. The good thing about the rain is it scares people away so the crowds were palatable. We walked up to the second story and took in the view. I prefer the view of the Eiffel Tower more than being in it but glad to have made the climb.

From the tower we strolled over the Pont Alexandre dripping in statues. We walked along the Seine gawking and smiling. “WOW it’s really beautiful,” I’d mutter then “I love Paris” When I’m in this mood everything in my path is charmed with a golden light, every person we see I love. We stumble upon a dance performance, free, by the Seine, in Paris, sunset approaching. The dancing is exquisite, classical music is playing. I’m feeling so happy, I have to stop myself from hugging and French kissing everyone I see. That’s the french kissing without the tongue by the way the two cheeked air kissing kind. Which is another amazing thing about Paris is the kissing. I LOVE IT! We are in the grocery store and the janitor French kisses the cashier, we are in the metro and the young guy French kisses each of his 5 friends before he departs, we are on the street, in the bakery, everywhere people are french kissing. I just need to know the rules do you French kiss when you first meet or is there an initiation time? imageimageimageimageimage
We spent three nights at a Servas house close to the George Pompidou. The place was in a derelict building, looking about ready to fall apart. Once in Katherine’s apartment it was cosy and held together. Noah didn’t like the dead animals she had on the walls or the skulls on the bookcase. We all grumbled about the harder than cement beds and lead pillows. Noah watched a Fifa game staring out the bedroom window across the street into someone’s living room. Germany 7 Brazil 1….. ouch.