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Saturday, December 31, 2016

No Resolutions! But . . . A long time dream coming true




As I mentioned yesterday, no resolutions for me this year other than my one word resolution that Laura Lippman prompts each year.



I chose the word "
Persist."



That word covers a lot of territory in my world these days.



But I'm not here to talk about New Year's resolutions.



I am here to tell you I have big plans for the upcoming year.






I am usually registered for Bouchercon by now and that's what you would hear me squealing about for the next several months.



But.



No Bouchercon for me this year and that does make me sad, because it means I'll go at least one whole year without seeing many dear friends.



But.



I can't afford two big trips,



and




You may have heard - - -



I'm going to Paris!




Paris!









My very first time.













Am I excited?!



Pfftttt!




What do you think?!



It's Paris!









I am over the moon excited!



And, those of you who know me, know that I like the planning of a trip every bit as much as I do the trip itself.


And part of my planning is to read.


To read all about where I'm going.


I like to know about a place's culture, its customs, its architecture, its history, what's fun to shop for, where to shop, what to see, what to do, what to eat - you know - everything!








And though I love a list of things I want to do, and places I want to go, I don't plan my days out too much.


I "might" say, okay, today I'm going to go to the such & such museum.


And I'll do that.


But the things I do on the way to the museum, and the things I do after the museum are probably going to be totally up in the air and left up to whimsy and serendipity.


And. If I miss the museum? Well, there's the next day. Right?





And where I end up often it depends of where my camera takes me. My camera and I are going to have such a great time!











My camera is itching to capture the Notre-Dame gargoyles









View Paris through the Musée d'Orsay clock window







To ride the carousels







I aim to keep my camera happy.







We're going to eat too many macarons










Sit in sidewalk cafes and drink coffee and hot chocolate








Buy too many souvenirs!

















And write about it all







I'm going to be traveling with two of my favorite women - my friends Lesa (I "think" you guys might know her?? 😉😉 Pretty sure you do.) and Vickie, who I've known since my Atlanta days and who you've heard me speak of.



And two more friends of Vickie's, Kathy and Lisa, who I have not formally met yet, but have heard Vickie talk about for years and years, so I do feel as though I know them.


We're staying in an apartment that Vickie has stayed in before, and it looks delightful!


I'm especially tickled about the neighborhood, Belleville. One that's not in a touristy section of the city.


Not that I'm not one to play tourist! You know better.



Honey! I am the most touristy tourist you've ever seen. And never try to pretend otherwise.








There's too much to see and if I hesitate in asking the locals where they might recommend I go for certain things, I'm likely to miss out on some pretty fabulous stuff.  Can't have that!



But the Belleville neighborhood just sounds like the kind of place I'm going to feel comfortable and I intend to do a good bit of exploring right outside our apartment door in addition to all the things one just does when one is in Paris. Droite?!




Belleville means "Beautiful Town." It was ignored during much of the Paris modernisation of the 60s and 70s, so retains much of its French originality and is home to many aspiring artists and art galleries.


It's home to two parks. The Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the smaller, less well-known Parc de Belleville which is situated between the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Parc de Belleville features the longest waterfall fountain in Paris and a stunning panoramic view of the city.





Parc des Buttes Chaumont







Parc de Belleville







Père Lachaise Cemetery



According to WikiPedia, "Parc de Belleville also prides itself on its display of annual flowers. The gardeners prepare the flower beds two years in advance, in tight collaboration with the horticultural center of Rungis. Their compositions have received prizes numerous times at the Concours des Décorations Florales Estivales (Summer Floral Decoration Competition), which takes place each year in September." It just so happens we'll be there in September.


Also from WikiPedia, "French singer Édith Piaf grew up in Belleville and, according to legend, was born under a lamppost on the steps of the Rue de Belleville. A commemorative plaque can be found at number 72."



In addition to reading about Paris in travel and reference books (even cookbooks), I love reading novels in which Paris is featured.







I recently finished reading Mark Pryor's mystery series set in Paris featuring protagonist Hugo Marston, which I loved reading and highly recommend.


Now I'm planning on taking a look at The Malaussene Saga, a series written by Daniel Pennac, which is set in Belleville.


I started my Paris novel reading odyssey - electronic and print - almost immediately when we first started talking about this trip. If you're interested, here's a list of what I've read so far, in addition to all of Mark Pryor's novels:


The Dress Thief by Anita Hughes


From a Paris Balcony by Ella Carey


Hidden in Paris by Corine Gantz


I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable


The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown


The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George


A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable


The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell


The Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey


The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton


The Paris Effect by K.S.R. Burns


The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell


Paris, He Said by Christine Sneed


Mission to Paris by Alan Furst


The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin


and two books I have to mention - non-fiction treasures that weren't in my stacks when I took the above picture.


Shakespeare and Company by Sylvia Beach and the wonderful, OH so wonderful (I love this book) Shakespeare and Company: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart edited by Krista Halverson.








You just know we're going to be visiting Shakespeare and Company!



And this is pretty much where this story was going to end.



Except.



We went to Birmingham for Christmas with Donald's family.


While we were there I took a day to browse and shop in the wonderful 2nd and Charles Bookstore.





I love this place!


It's huge, but beautifully laid out so you're able to find what you're looking for, or you can just enjoy wandering, getting lost, sitting down to look through a treasure you came across, or just rest and enjoy every booklover's dream store.







I spent a glorious four hours and could have stayed a bit longer, truth be told.


And struck up a conversation with one of the delightful sales associates.


Don't you love it when you're able to tell that the person working in a bookstore is a true lover of books?


During our conversation, which started in the travel section, I discovered that my new friend was a traveler. So, of course, he had traveled in France and fallen in love with Paris. When I asked if he spoke French I wasn't the least bit surprised at how lovely it sounded.


Next thing I knew I had, in addition to a pile of books I had discovered on my own, another pile that he was bringing me.


All treasures!


All books I couldn't live without, but would never have discovered on my own.


I did sit myself down to exercise a little bit of good sense and cull some of the books.


But I still came home with these -






As you can see, they're not "all" books about Paris or set in Paris, but most are. The others, well, I couldn't bring myself to leave them behind.






While I'm busy helping you all add to your "to be read" lists, here's a few more to add to your "All Things French" list. Some of these titles are books I read a long time ago, forgot about but happily reminded of when I happened across them in 2nd & Charles. Some of titles I "may" try to re-read. And some are titles provided by friends, or by friends of friends, some of which I have read, some of which I have not read.


Victor Hugo's Les Miserales.


The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.


Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.


Peter Mayle's series about Provence. I loved the series, but especially the first, A Year in Provence.


Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.


Edward Rutherfurd's Paris: The Novel.


Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.


Cara Black's wonderful mystery series featuring Aimee LeDuc.


The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau.


Paris Spring by James Naughtie.


The Paris Secret by Karen Swann.


A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore.



And if any of you have books about France, actually, Paris in particular, please feel free to share. I may never get around to reading them, but I do love a list.



And, if any of you have favorite places you love to go when you're in Paris, I'd love to hear about them too. Shopping spots. Restaurants. Galleries. Museums. Monuments. Parks and Gardens. Favorite spots to walk and explore.



So.


This is my New Year's resolution, I guess:




"Have a ball in Paris!"











My Resolutions for 2017





I'm one of those who has made countless resolutions over the years. For 2017 I've decided to stick with one. One word (thanks, Laura Lippman!). Persist. That's it. Just keep on keeping on. Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst - I was not prepared for 2016.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Aunt Eve - You will always be in my heart





Aunt Eve.

One of my mom's sisters, one of her closest friends.

One of the many aunts that helped raise me.


A woman I deeply loved.  


Loved, respected, looked up to, trusted and enjoyed.



The older I get, the more I've come to appreciate the women who have graced my life.


Although I was an only child, my mom and dad both came from large families, so I was surrounded by aunties all my growing up years.


They taught me much.


Sadly, over the years, I've lost most of them.


My Aunt Eve left us yesterday morning, but she will live in my heart for the rest of my life.


We talked on the phone not long ago, and as we always did, we laughed a lot.


And then, as we always did, we cried a little.
.


We talked about my mom and we laughed some more.


Then we cried a little more.


And we made plans for Donald and I to come for a visit in the spring.


Spring will come and we won't be making that visit, but I will think of this beautiful woman and all the years I was lucky enough to have her in my life.


How wise she was.


How funny and smart and talented.


And while I will miss her, I can imagine her arriving at the pearly gates, getting her wings and then sitting down next to my mom, along with the other sisters,  sharing a little bit of family gossip, a secret or two and a belly laugh or three.