Wednesday, November 24, 2010

There's No Place Like Home...Las Vegas!

"Florence! Flooooorence!" I hear my name yelled across McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, just past security.

It's my older sister, followed by my younger sister, baby niece, then mom, then dad...
Paris is absolutely wonderful, but there's no place like home...just in time for Thanksgiving!

"My family - Girl Power"

....until I return to Paris, I'll be, in Las Vegas surrounded by family.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Friends, Good Food, continues...

"Helloooo Florence, it's 10 AM, what are you doing still asleep?" my French friend Florence wants to know as I answer her call with a 'just rolled out of bed' voice.

"The Beaujolais Nouveau party was last night. Too much wine. I thought you were in the Caribbeans with your father?" I replied to her laughter on the other end of the phone.

"Nooooo, non, we don't leave until December, but you're leaving on Monday so we have to go out and celebrate!" she said with too much enthusiasm for a Friday morning hangover.

"Sure. What's going on?" I wanted to know....

Still in my pajamas at 10am, we made plans for a "Girls Night Out" in Montmartre where tonight until Sunday, the local artist association open their studios to the public.

Florence inside an Artist workshop.

Florence inside an Artist Workshop.
(Florence and the Artist in back)

Ceramics Artist workshop.

New and Interesting Art.

Private workshops open to the public for only 3 days.

Inside a Photographer's workshop.
La Mascotta Restaurant's Fresh seafood.
Eva, Florence and me.

another wonderful evening in Paris.

After meeting local artists, discovering new talents in hidden private workshops, and admiring unique pieces of art, we headed for one of Eva and Florence's favorite restaurants, La Mascotta. An authentic Parisian bar and a brasserie, that's been around for over 120 years.

Good friends, good food, fun and laughter.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beaujolais Nouveau with Nouveau Friends.

Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau with The Internationals at La Baraque is just another reason to love Paris!
"You have your Thanksgiving, and we have our Beaujolais!" a French man at the party said to me.

Beaujolais Nouveau (Bo-zho-LAY New-VOH) is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. Beaujolais is the most popular "vin de primeur", fermented for only a few weeks then officially released for sale, in a Celebration on the third Thursday of November.
We celebrated the new wine downstairs at La Baraque, an eclectic restaurant with a cozy design.

The First to arrive.

The New Wine!
Me and Benoit (the Host)
New wine and New Friends.
The Celebration.
A French man...and me.
La Baraque.
More Celebration.

More Nouveau Friends.
Benoit and me.
A wonderful way to start of the Holiday Season of Celebrations.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Song from my Sister.

"How can you be unhappy in Paris? Your life is fabulous!" my friend wants to know.
I agree, my life in Paris is Wonderful almost every single day, and I am truly happy, but I can't be happy all the time.

Sometimes, it's all I can do to "Just Live."

"It's normal to be unhappy sometimes.", my friend B assures me every time my emotions cascade.

Trying to establish a life in Paris, organize my own international business, pay rent, mortgages, car payments, taxes, cell phone bills, evict tenants long distance, manage property managers, renovate and repair homes in Florida, job interviews and finding love...sits heavy on my shoulders and causes me to fall sometimes. Love is supposed to pick me up, but he stands too far away to notice, preoccupied, not strong enough, weak, it makes me cry.

My friends tell me to get up with loving and supportive words, but for some reason, only my sisters can actually pick me up. (with a loving kick in the friends wouldn't dare.) My sisters pick me up through daily emails, family love, and support. I'm grateful for my sisters and my friends.

My younger sister sends me a song...

I'm standing now, walking, ready to run again, thanks to the support of my friends and my sisters. I'm standing now and running towards home. Running towards Las Vegas, to be with my family for the holidays.

When I return to Paris after Thanksgiving and Christmas, things will be different.
Beautiful flowers always bloom.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Golden Friendship - Last Night in Paris

"Ah, I remember this street in you blog!" my friend Marilena said as we walked through the Latin Quarters on the way to Patricia's Paris Soiree Dinner.
Now she's a page on my blog as I capture the moment of her last night in Paris (for now)
but I'm sure she'll be back.

Marilena in the Latin Quarter.

Capturing the moment.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day Three, Drinks - Golden Friendship.

Eat, drink, laugh, and talk....

Marilena and Me.
Sitting under the Autumn Heat lamps at a Paris cafe.

She drinks hot tea, I drink a glass of wine...we've always been so different, but somehow the same.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dinner at Robert and Louise.

"I want a really good steak in a French atmosphere. Where can we go?" Marilena asked Adrian Leeds. as we sat during lunch.

"Robert and Louise., but you'll need reservations." Adrian replied confidently.

That evening, Marilena and I headed off to Robert & Louise (last minute with no reservations). Luckily, there were two places set at the bar, seemly waiting for us.

"This is by far, the BEST dinner I've have in Paris, during all my visits!" Marilena said after our absolutely fantastic steak dinner.

Outside Robert & Louise Restaurant.

Inside the cozy restaurant.

Florence and Marilena, Two seats at the bar.

Steaks are cooked perfectly over a wood fire in the back of the Restaurant.


Walking off a great dinner.

There's so much to love about Paris, a Perfect Steak dinner is just one of many.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Golden Friendship in Paris.

Paris is a special place, I say it again and again, but it's even more special when a childhood friend comes to visit for 4 days.

We met in Elementary School when our parents (we both have Air Force Fathers) were stationed in Athens, Greece. We've kept in touch ever since. It's a Golden Friendship sure to continue until we ourselves become "Golden Girls".

Marilena and Me.

She was always better at taking these "self photos" even when we were in our 20's.

Immediately after her arrival at Opera, on the Roissy Charles De Gaulle Airport shuttle, we found a little cafe. Inside a cozy corner of the typical Paris Brasserie, we laughed, talked, caught up on our lives and discussed future plans of having wonderful Transatlantic lives in Europe and the U.S.

Marilena's younger sister, Victoria is never far from our conversations, even if she is via cellphone.

Friends since 10years old. We haven't changed a bit!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

U.S. Government in a Nutshell.

"I don't fully understand your government structure..." my European friend confesses.
"Here's our government structure in a nutshell." I explain,

Back in the 1800's when our country broke away from the British rule and the king, we decided (well, actually the founding fathers decided, since my "people" were still slaves) anyway, they decided that after the "Declaration of Independence", they would create a government where "the people" of the country ruled so that NOT just one person would have ALL the power, like the king had before.

So they created 3 Branches of Government to rule the United States. The Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and The Judaical Branch, which is what we have today.

1. The Executive Branch - lives in the White House and consists of the President and his next door neighbor the Vice-President.

White House

Our President does not make his decisions solo, he always has a Cabinet, yes, like a "kitchen Cabinet" full of 15 members to help a brotha out in making decisions.

The President's Cabinet

The President basically makes sure everyone follows the Law made up by the Legislative Branch. Which brings us to the Legislative Branch where all the voting commotion took place last week.

2. The Legislative Branch - is the LAW MAKING MACHINE of the U.S.A. called CONGRESS. They branch live in the U.S. Capital Building (for a little while), you know that beautiful building with the big Dome on top?

The Capital Building Under Construction

Our Congress Lives Here - Senate and House of Reps.

Our CONGRESS is divided into 2 Sections, groups, houses or whatever called:
The House of Representative and the Senate. We "the people" just voted on who sits in both houses of congress.

The big news is that now the Republicans also called the Good ol' Boys...uh, I mean the "Grand ol' Party" (GOP) have the majority of people sitting in the House of Representatives. There are 435 Representatives in that home under the dome, and again, most (but not all) are Republicans. They are not the same party as our President who is Democrat. This should NOT be a big deal if everyone's ego and prejudices were put aside.

Why do we have 435 people representing only 50 States? It's based on how many districts are in each state.

When our government was formed, it was decided that each state in America would have a Representative in the House of Representatives. But since some states have a larger population than others, some states get to have more "homeboys" to represent in congress. My state, Nevada has only 3 representative. Texas has 30.

The Senate part of Congress (remember, the legislative Branch has 2 parts..and this is one of them) The Senate has 2 people from each state represented in congress. It is not like the House of Representatives. There are only 100 Senators in Congress.
And right now the majority of the senators are from the Democratic Party.

So our congress is now divided. House of Representatives ruled by majority Republicans and the Senate ruled by the majority Democrats. That's the way America Voted last week. Now, somehow this group of men and women have to agree on the making (or re-making) of laws for America. Some news reports that the Republicans in Congress want to focus on making sure President Obama is not successful in getting elected for a second term as President. They also want to get rid of the Health Care Program that President Obama succeeded in his uphill battle!

Either way, their laws will have to be passed to the President for approval. It will be interesting to see how all these boys and girls will get along.

Our Congress only meets together once a year, that's when we say, "Congress is in session." The meeting is from 3 January (my brothers birthday) until 31 July, but sometimes Congress meets longer...if they have "issues".

3. The Third branch is the Judicial Branch - This branch is made up of all our courts, the highest court in the U.S. is the Supreme Court which is where this branch lives with it's 9 Judges.

Supreme Court

The Judaical Branch of courts make the final decision when everyone else is unsure of a law or other stuff. ahh, the Supreme Court. That's where Anna Nicole Smith went to ask for money from her Billionaire deceased husband...remember?

Lastly, everyone meets in Washington D.C., the District of Colombia (D.C.)named after our 1st President George Washington and the Italian Spanish explorer named Christopher Columbus.

That's our government in nutshell...or blog post.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Philosophy Cafe in Paris

My apartment phone rings. It's an annoying European ring tone, that I've never really liked, so I don't give my apartment phone number to many people.

"Florence, lets go to the Philosophy Cafe tonight!", my French friend Florence calls to say.
Florence is Parisian and loves Paris with as much passion as me.
She's one of those people that exudes excitement over the smallest things in life.

"Sure! What time?" I reply with equal enthusiasm.

"It starts at 7PM, but lets meet early!" she says.
And that begins an evening of Philosophy at the Cafe de Flore in central Paris.

"The Paris Philosophy Cafe in English" is a meetup group that meets once a month in the Latin Quarter, at Cafe de Flore.

Florence and Florence
(I love writing that, since I've never had a friend with the same name!)
Beautiful Cafe de Flore on an Autumn night.
The host speaks.
We listen.

Tonight, the topic voted on to discuss was: "How do we measure progress?"

Discussions ranged from, If the Good ol' Days were the best of times, then are we really making progress at all? to debates about Hegel (German philosopher who revolutionized European philosophy) and The Absolute Mind.

Meanwhile, The President's Philosophy for Today was: "Let's Find Those Areas Where We Can Agree"

Are we making progress? Americans don't all agree, The Philosophers did not find a resoloution, and I wonder if the question can really be answered, "How do we measure progress?"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Rally to Restore Sanity" and "Keep Fear Alive" in Paris.

The actual "Rally to Restore Sanity" and "Keep Fear Alive" was hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (from the Daily Show, of Comedy Central), on Oct 30th from 12pm-3pm in Washington, DC on the Capital Mall grounds.

Those of us in Paris who could not be in D.C. were rallying at The Thistle Pub via live satellite on several large screen T.V.s. The rally was organized by a meet-up group and hosted happy hour prices all evening.

"Rally to Restore Sanity" and "Keep Fear Alive", Paris

"Rally to Restore Sanity" and "Keep Fear Alive", Paris

"Rally to Restore Sanity" and "Keep Fear Alive", Paris

The rally included a benediction by Father Guido Sarducci, where he asked God for a sign of the "Right" religion...a rainbow? flock of doves? etc.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Father Guido Sarducci - Rally Benediction
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

The rally was an energized and humorous event in Paris. As we were leaving, a woman was shouting at random Americans, "IF YOU DIDN'T VOTE, THEN SHUT UP!!"

Hopefully if you are American, you won't keep your mouth shut...Go out and Vote!

Money Bags October Luck For October 2010.

An interesting fact about October 2010:

This October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, all in one month!
It happens once in 823 years.
These are called money bags.
Pass them to 8 good people and money will appear in 4 days.

Based on Chinese Feng Shui.

Hope it brings luck!

.....actually, I just found out that "Money Bags" also happens in 2021, 2027, 2032, etc. It happens all the time not every 823 years.

Still wishing EVERYONE a Money Bags Month!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Customer Service with a French Man - Part 2 of 2.

"We want to know what happened when you went back to get your wood." my friend calls to remind me, a blog post was left hanging (from 13 October).
"Oh, yeah. I went back to get the wood and my shelf is now built."

There was silence from my friend.
"I built the shelf myself!" I added, somehow knowing my friend wanted to know more.

So here's the end of a long story of simply picking up some scrap wood, cut by an attractive French carpenter:

After having my wood pieces and measurement taken from my hands and refused customer service (promised only if I returned the next day), I left the store amazed at how smoothly the French carpenter convinced me to return to him the next day.

Walking home that evening, the fantasy of having the carpenter in my kitchen building a shelf and kitchen cabinets faded. I could clearly see his manipulation. Looking at the tools left near the sink with no wood project for the evening, I felt angry. "I could be building a shelf right now, but instead, it has to wait until tomorrow just because the carpenter would not cut the wood!"; "I'll show him. I won't return! I'll go to another store!" I fumed.

Not one to stay angry very long, the next afternoon, I headed back to the corner of the hardware store to pick up my wood pieces. Two new carpenters were standing behind the counter looking in my direction. Neither of them were the attractive carpenter from the night before.

Approaching the counter, I could see he was not there. The two men looked at me with friendly expressions, but not smiling. "Bonjour! Can I help you?" the one closest to the front asked me in French. I wondered how was I going to explain, in French, that a man who was there last night, cut some wood for me and I would like to pick it up?

So I began in broken French, "Bonjour, the man last night, here..." I said in French, "Uh..." my mind was blank as I tried to figure out how to perform impromptu charades.

"E has your vood from last night... and you vant to pick eat up." he finished my sentence in English!
They both looked at me and smiled as if they had just performed a flawless mind-reading trick.

"Yes!" I said shocked that he completed my sentence so precisely. How did he know? I wondered.

"His name is Sergio, he's upstairs." the man continued in English.

"I have to go upstairs?" I asked.

"Yes, you will find him upstairs." he replied.

As I walked up the stairs, I thought to myself, "Not only did the smooth carpenter get me to return, now he has me chasing him all over the store!"

There he was, upstairs, standing on a ladder explaining to an older man and an older woman the difference between a piece of equipment he was holding and another one on the top shelf. The man and woman were looking up at him, with their mouths open as if he were a God. I joined them as I looked first at his dirty shoes, wrinkled blue jeans, well defined thighs (my eyes almost stopped there), but I had to keep looking up further, to his bright red working jacket, then his arms, then his neck, his lips, nose and eyes. Eyes that were watching me.

"Sergio?" I asked, wanting him to know I knew his name.

He immediately came down the latter, finished his conversation quickly, almost shoving the small box into the older mans arms as the couple looked at me, smiled then quickly departed.

"Ah, You! Come with me." he said in English, as he folded the ladder, put it in a corner and walked downstairs.

Once again, I followed him.


French men flirt. Alot. He flirted, as he prepare to give me the wood pieces. He's friendly, but makes me uncomfortable, since I know I will return to the hardware store often. I don't want it to appear as if I am returning only to see Sergio rather than needing a mop head or screwdriver. (if I am returning just for a glimpse of Sergio, it will be my secret).

Cradling the wood in his arms, as if it were a newborn, he gently lays them in my arms, smiles and looks as if he wants to kiss me... right then and there. (or maybe it's just my imagination). I take the baby-uh, I mean wood pieces, look away quickly, and leave as I say Thank you!... in English.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Entrée to Black Paris™--Black History after WWII Tour and Bonus Books.

The dynamic duo, Monique Wells and her husband Tom Reeves decided to rechristen their Paris business Discover Paris! with the name “Entrée to Black Paris™”, and invited a few bloggers on a Thursday afternoon to experience Black Paris after World War II” – one of Discover Paris!’ most popular private, guided walking tours.
Additionally, Monique recently launched a blog: and Facebook page: called “Entrée to Black Paris™.” she says: “My goal in doing so is to increase awareness of Paris’ black heritage among all people – particularly those who already know and love Paris, and are seeking new avenues of exploration to enrich their cultural appreciation of the city.” I am one of those people.

So there we were, a few Paris bloggers (and one Rock Star) on a Thursday afternoon, following Monique as she led us through the streets of Paris, walking the same path and visiting the same Parisian cafes as writers Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Chester Himes did years before.

Entrée to Black Paris™--Black History after WWII Walking Tour

One of many interesting stops along the way...

Monique shared the facts, stories of the past with photos, and contemporary aspects of black life in Paris. Without imposing her own opinions to slant our views of controversial facts, she leaves us to contemplate Black Paris, post WW2. She watches our expressions as she smiles. She knows so much about Paris, it’s people, history, struggles, successes, it’s impossible to hear it all in 2 hours.

'If I told you everything, I’d have to shoot you.' is an expression used in my Military career.
If she told me everything she knew, I wonder all that I would know?
Her tour makes me more curious to know more, learn more, read more, ask questions, find facts...

Entrée to Black Paris™--Monique Shares Facts.

The tour concluded at Café Tournon where Monique shared more insights of African-Americans who frequented the café years ago. As Kim Bingham (aka my Rock Star friend “Mudgirl”) and I leave for coffee at the Tournon, Monique casually suggests, “Ask to see the photo of Duke Ellington and Beauford Delaney at the Café when you get there.”

Monique, me and "Mudgirl".

Sure enough when we arrived and asked to see the photo, the waiter gladly pulled it from the side of a curio cabinet, stored in a place we would have surely missed if it weren't for Monique's suggestion. The French waiter seemed as fascinated by the photo as we were.
Gazing at the old faded black and white photo, I yearned to know even more about Black Paris.

Books by Monique Wells and Tom Reeves :

"Food for the Soul."

Before the tour, Monique signed a copy of her cookbook that's more than just a cookbook: “Food for the Soul: A Texas Expatriate Nurtures Her Culinary Roots in Paris”-Monique Y. Wells. She has purposefully published recipes for expats (and even Parisians) longing the comforts of Soul Food in Paris. She even explains where some of the ingredients can be found in local Paris markets. I’ve already made my French grocery list to prepare Smothered Chicken (Monique’s simple recipe of only 6 ingredients!), Jambalaya, and Chili….each recipe is perfect for these cool Paris Autumn days!

Additionally, After the tour, Tom introduced me to his book: “Paris Insights-An Anthology”. – Tom Reeves. I have to confess I love the idea of a book named Paris Insights. Sounds interesting and peaks my curiosity, but “An Anthology”?! my first thought was “An Anthology"- definition: a collection of literary works (to me ='s boring)…Zzzz.

I was wrong. Once I got home and reviewed the book, I was amazed; NOT BORED!! Little did I know, that Tom placed in my hands a collection of fascinating, delicious, bite sized insightful (1 to 2 page) nuggets of facts and photos of all things interesting and fascinating about Paris. He writes about Americans in Paris,(some I didn’t know), fascinating facts about Paris Churches and Cathedrals, Wine Pairings…and (my favorite section of the anthology), Tasty Treats, which includes Hot Chocolate in Paris(and so much more).
The book holds answers to intriguing questions that would take me hours to research individually or online. To hold the book in your hands, visit:

Paris Insights-The book:

Entrée to Black Paris™ on Thursday afternoon was a wonderful Entrée to Black Paris.