⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

December 30, 2009

Random debris.



One night before I left Paris I was walking down the street and I ran into a small catastrophe. I think the contents of an entire recycling truck had been jettisoned into the street. Quite a site.

December 28, 2009

Little girls.



Together again. Joyce says: "Margite" with total excitement and joy in her eyes. Marguerite says, "ma petite soeur" still wishing it were so. Guest photographers Xavier (above) and Rebekah (below).





December 24, 2009

Thriller.



Washington is a place of lichen, moss, fen and very large trees. Things that grow here grow quite large: have you seen the rhododendrons come May?



This little tree may look like it is only a bambino. Wrong. It is a very tall pine tree, with only its top seven branches sticking out from under the snow. Snowshoeing experience tells us this is so. See, when you are up snowshoeing in the Cascades with my dad things like this become suddenly clear when your leg disappears from underneath you and then you know you've stepped too close to the 'little' tree's hole.



No snow on the ground for Christmas near Seattle, but plenty of it in the mountains. We put some snow in our backpacks to freeze and then spread around on the porch Christmas morning.




This was Rebekah's idea.


Andrew liked it too.





As we snowshoed, the sun was going down behind the mountain and we were trying to get higher and higher. It was a race. As usual: my dad was winning, the rest of us were definitely losing. Remember how my dad had that problem with his heart this fall? Well, he gauges he is back to 80%. 80% means about 180% above a normal person's activity rate. I was asking my dad if I could have a look at his workout spreadsheets from the last 25 years - because yes, he has logged his exercise every day for 25 years. He does not think this is abnormal. Apparently, he knows plenty of people who do such things. Remember, this is the man who made us try out to go on vacations every summer.



One of the most entertaining aspects of being home so far is Andrew's newfound obsession with Michael Jackson's Thriller. As luck would have it, his entire middle school is learning Thriller in PE and will put on a Thriller extravaganza in the school gymnasium. Yesterday, we sat down to watch the Thriller video and Andrew narrated Michael Jackson's every move: "Swim, together, swim, jump - shuffle, back, hop hop forward, turn left, stare stare..." and so forth. Every move. I am impressed with his PE teacher (or the youtube video he has reputably been employing). As we were watching Michael's moves, one of his hip thrusts came up and my mom muttered, "uh oh." Then she asked, "Is it true that he was both a boy and a girl?" We laughed like crazy.



Fortunately, Andrew has decided to share his knowledge with the whole family. We have all been getting Thriller lessons. No, the picture above does not feature us in a Beyonce pose - no Single Ladies action there - we are in booty-bounce position, straight out of the Thriller dance.








John likes us even if the Johnson method of self-entertainment is rather strange. He comes from a big, strange family too though.


And may I say that my older sister Julie is the coolest pregnant lady I know: 7 months pregnant, booty-bouncing, snowshoeing and all - no sorry, I'm a handicapped pregnant gal for this one.



Fido I & II


(This is in fact Sam, my family's tail-wagging, ever-smiling black lab - whose downward facing dog makes me green-eyed and who only plays fetch when there are two tennis balls involved. He loves the security of keeping one ball in his mouth. I love Sam's newly sprouted mustache of white).


(This is a friend's great dane - not related to us, but oh how I wish he were part Johnson too).

December 18, 2009

Moving antics.

It is finished and done. We walked out of our empty apartment feeling a little jealous of the people who will live there while we are gone. The day of the move though, we managed to have fun. Voilà:

First, the packers were real jokesters. I decided to bundle up and ----> out into the snow:













The bench.

Xavier, the great, tickled us all pink. When other people say impossible, Xavier says no problem.

You see, this fall, Xavier and I bought an 8-foot long wooden bench. We didn't want to be bothered bringing it home knowing that we were going to be moving soon enough. We said we would be back for it, but we never were...until almost all of the things in our apartment were already in the truck and then we had an OH NO! WE FORGOT moment. So, Xavier zoomed off in the snow on his scooter (like an idiot) to retrieve the bench. How? you ask...

Like this:



I looked down from the balcony and saw his beaming face and his daffy act (he had come from the 19th arrondissement like this - he looked like an airplane looking for a landing strip).





In celebration we plunked the bench down right there in the middle of rue du Faubourg St. Martin and sat on it.

December 17, 2009

Aujourd'hui of all days...



Snow occurs about once every five years in Paris...the day of our move this reckoning. I love it still.

December 16, 2009

Ma petite version.



Rue St.Vincent, Yves Montand | Ta P'tite Flamme, Amélie Les Crayons

Suspended.



My world is about the be disassembled. The books on our shelves are coming down one by one, the red ones, the black ones, the green ones. My red, white, pink, yellow and orange ranunculus perched on the stool will die an early death. Sunglasses, socks, shelves, chairs, pictures, clocks, vases, spoons, our bed. Everything will be taken tomorrow through our windows on a crane, down the 5 stories of the building, onto the street, into a truck, to a port where a big container awaits, across the ocean to the port in New York, onto another truck, to our apartment on 73rd Street in Manhattan (4-6 weeks later).



I am sad. I am sad because I really love France. It was not always so (you know if you've read me for a while now). There were days where I just wanted to be somewhere else. Those days make leaving even harder now.

Redemption for me lies in the fact that this is only round one. France is to be a permanent fixture in my life - which is a very lucky and lovely and difficult thing all at the same time.

I feel like this round in France was my brainstorming session. I mean, before I came to Paris I never took photos. Today, it is my favorite thing to do (this site is my witness).

Before I came to Paris, I thought blogs were inane, narcissistic distractions. (The narcissistic bit may hold true...and the distraction bit too, but cancel the first thing). Here I am with this site where people from 65 different countries and 1,000 people per week come to have a look. Even if I have not succeeded in inciting an ongoing conversation (apart from the post about my Afghan friends), I am connected to people who read this.

Most of all, my brainstorming session has resulted in me looking at the world in a different way. I swear, Paris has changed me in my regard for the things around me - in what I remark, respect, scan, scrutinize, see, spy, stare at, take into consideration - I am a girl with a new pair of eyeballs.

Now, let's see how New York looks with these babies.

December 15, 2009

Afghan Refugees Follow Up.

Thank you everyone who has posted here and to my email wanting to help. I went back yesterday to their camp with a bag of sweaters and hats and scarves because, as everyone in Paris knows, it is freezing at the moment. Many of you have asked how you can help and if you can bring things directly to these people. Absolutely.

Here is a screenshot of their camp location:



Here is the googlemaps link.


This is the view of the camp (under the bridge if you are walking from Canal St. Martin and Parc Villemin).

It is on quai de Valmy under the bridge. Walk along the canal all the way until just before the Bassin de la Villette. If you approach and smile and wave, they will be so happy to see you. They may be the same guys I've been spending time with, so if you would like, mention my name. I bought several phone cards - so that is a good idea - hot meals are always appreciated and warm things. To be specific I think they need: water, bread, milk, fruit, vegetables, sheets, warm blankets, sleeping bags, sweaters, coats, pants, socks, shoes, towels, tissues, shampoo, soap, toilet paper. You can show up any time.

A lot of people have offered to send me money (through pay-pal and otherwise) and I would say, fabulous idea, except that I am moving to New York this week and so that complicates help efforts on my part. If you live in Paris, you can always come to the 10th. I'd also like to organize something online as a way of getting people connected here in the city to help.

I am thinking of ideas - keep sending yours. This is not the end.

December 14, 2009

Plouc.



Yes, it is winter. Yes, it is very cold at the moment in Paris. The topic of conversation chez les Joly this weekend was, however, beach umbrellas. When I heard, "and he had the audacity to come down to the beach with a beach umbrella!" I sat down at the table grinning, knowing that I was going to get a good helping of French-ness in one conversation. I asked to recommencer - to start again, because I wanted to hear the whole thing.

Apparently, someone the Joly family is very close to appeared on the beach in St. Aygulf with an umbrella this summer. The horror. I sat in my chair smiling with amusement, straining to figure out what could be horrible about it. So, I flat out asked. "Ouh la la, Emilie!" they responded in surprise.

Didn't I see that: an umbrella at the beach is plouc? (middle-low class). Isn't it clear to me by now that the French are not practical people (they are aesthetic and philosophical people); therefore, the practical in France are the most plouc of all. (They slipped in that it is different in my country, because my people value pragmatism, which made me feel a great deal better).

They went on with their tale: and sometimes people will even bring a glacière (cooler) to the beach with them! This was said with eyebrows raised very high. (Again came my request to explain the problem with a cooler at the beach). "Il faut pas bouffer à la plage!" (You mustn't eat on the beach!) "On mange pas en public." (We do not eat in public). This one is a rule to take seriously in France. Eating in public spaces that are not designated for this activity = high doses of shame.

They brought up the subject of folding chairs on the beach. As you can imagine, also a no-no.

Xavier specified: This sort of person (the one who has an umbrella, a folding chair and a cooler at the beach) "veut reproduire sa maison partout. Le syndrome du campeur" (...wants to reproduce his house everywhere he goes. It is the camper syndrome).

The traditional, well-educated French person: "vient le matin, il nage et il s'en va. Et puis, il revient le soir" (comes to the beach in the morning, he swims and then he leaves. Then, he comes back again in the evening).

I am so plouc.
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