Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Porcupine's Dilemma by Elizabeth Mapstone

Elizabeth Mapstone's "The Porcupine's Dilemma," is one of THE best books I've read this year. 

One of the things I recall most vividly about my mother was a statement she made to me when I guess I was being overly "helpful." She looked me dead in the eye as no one else has ever been able to do and said, "Do NOT treat me like a child OR an idiot. I may be old, and I may not move as fast as I once did. It does not mean I've turned stupid. And remember this - I am the mom. I will ALWAYS be the mom." 

That "being the mom" thing? Yes. Being the mom brings with it a huge amount of due respect. I hope I honored her by remembering. I HOPE I never let her down and treated her as less than who she was. 

The woman protagonist in "The Porcupine's Dilemma" reminds me of my mother. And, it is hitting home personally for me a little more now that it did just a few years ago. 

I will be recommending this novel to everyone I know. Not just friends who are also "of a certain age," but younger friends as well. 

Irene is well aware of the fact that her body ain't what it once way. It lets her down more often than it once did. She, however, is going to, by God, call the shots with what she does with it. Well meaning friends and family be damned. 

I hope to be Irene. And, like her, I won't much appreciate those who stand in my way.

FTC Full Disclosure - I  requested and received the book through NetGalley.com with no obligation other than to review if I so wished.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Don't Go To Paris Without . . .

Reading this book . . . 

If you'd like a sample of what you'll find in this book, take a look at the author's blog - The Messy Nessy Cabinet of Chic Curiosities.

I discovered it when I was planning my trip to Paris and fell head over heels in love with Vanessa (who has the unfortunate nickname of Messy Nessy), and her sense of adventure.  

She is constantly seeking out the unusual, the lost and the over-looked.  

And from her blog grew the book.

It's not available just yet in the United States, but it is available in Europe, and can be ordered from either of these two places.

I have ordered from both and do not hesitate in recommending them:


  • Off-beat, eclectic guide to Paris from famed blogger Vanessa Grall - creator of MessyNessyChic.com
  • Nessy shows you how to walk Paris's streets like a local: find the most eccentric architecture, get cozy in hidden cafes, party in the catacombs, tour the city with a broken heart, and wander like a true bohemian
  • A lively, eccentric and esoteric guide to the hidden Paris of your dreams, from an outsider who's made it her home
Vanessa Grall is a London girl who moved to Paris and never looked back. Her blog Messy Nessy Chic is described as a 'chic cabinet of curiosities', and it records her bohemian adventures in the city. Her eye for style, both classic and kitsch, has won her a huge, dedicated following, with over 1.5 million unique visitors to her website per month, and 400,000 subscribers on social media.

In addition, Vanessa's charisma has seen her profiled in Porter, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller, and The Daily Mail.

Don't be a Tourist is Grall's off-beat guide to her adopted home, in which she looks past the cliches and tourist traps, and uncovers the true heart of Paris. Join her to walk in Hemingway's footsteps, to uncover catacomb parties, and to find the city's most authentic dishes. With tips for visiting on a shoestring, with your parents, or with a broken heart, Don't be a Tourist in Paris is a uniquely warm and insightful guide that affirms Audrey Hepburn's famous statement that 'Paris is always a good idea.' 

1. The Paris Runaways
2. Paris like it is in the Movies (and on Instagram)
3. Anywhere but the Louvre
4. Lonely Hearts Club
5. I hate to say I'm a hipster but...
6. I Know this Great Little Place
7. Parents are Coming to Town
8. Paris in Wonderland: Down the Deep, Dark Rabbit Hole
9. 10 Hour Layover
10. Forget Pinterest Paris

And, grab this handy little book to take with you.  

My copy is now full of notes I culled from other guide books, suggestions from friends, and my own personal experiences.  It'll fit in your purse, or in your pocket and I found it to be invaluable.  

Not as much fun as "Don't Be a Tourist in Paris," but certainly fun in its own way.  I don't think Vanessa Grall means for you to lug her "Don't Be a Tourist in Paris" all over Paris with you.

If you're heading off to Paris, think about me.

I'm already saving my pennies (and euros) for my next visit!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dear John Kelly by Leslé Honoré

Dear John Kelly

What surprised you more
That black people know
a black congresswoman
Intimately enough
To call her family
Or that a black congresswoman
Supports a black family enough
To be right by their side
To wipe tears
Hold hands
Or that a grieving black widow
Would put trump on speaker
Being a gold star family
Doesn’t erase Bigotry
Doesn’t erase Boston
Pre integration
From your DNA
We know where you come from
What molded you
There are thousands of men and women
Who died fighting for their country
Who would also call Congresswoman Wilson
A nigger in a heartbeat
You just called her an empty barrel
Called her everything but her name
And then questioned why a phone conversation
With an admitted sexual abuser
Wasn’t sacred

Frederica Wilson is far from empty
Do you understand the boldness it takes
To aspire to what you have never seen
To walk through life
Being told you are nothing
And still rise
From Teacher
To Principal
To Mentor
To Congresswoman

She is as bold as the hats on her head
The only thing bolder is
The hate in your soul

How dare we Black Women
Support each other
Stand in the gaps
How dare we have our own Elders
How dare we have comfort when we grieve

You said there was a time
when things were
When Women were sacred
When have Black Women
ever been
Sacred here ?

We have only been sacred to
Each other

That empty barrel is full of more ammunition
Than your wildest dream
You wear stars on your lapel
She wears stars on her hats
In her eyes
In the blood in her veins

What is more disgusting
The idiot who calls a widow
And offers no words of comfort
Or the coward who defends him

by Leslé Honoré

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Shakespeare & Co. - The Old and The New

I've had some people ask about my feelings expressed about Shakespeare & Co.

One of the top things on my list of "Things I Want To Do In Paris" was visit Shakespeare and Co., which I did, but which was disappointing.

I knew this was not the original Shakespeare and Co., but that didn't matter to me.

The "new" (opened in 1951) store is in a different location and how it came to be is, in its own right, every bit as interesting.

This article is a must read for those who love this iconic bookstore, those who have visited and those who are still hoping to visit.


Even though I was disappointed, I'll go back.

And now I know the best time to go is in the evenings after all the tourists, like me, have moved on.

My disappointment stemmed from the fact that the store was so crowded it was almost impossible to get in.  Once in, it was, truly, impossible to move around.  I found myself in one small spot and in that spot I stayed.  Luckily, it was the little nook containing books relating to Paris and I did leave with the perfect books to bring home - "Rooftops of Paris," paintings by Fabrice Moireau, text by Carl Norac.  It's gorgeous and I love it.  And, I bought a book of Brassai's Paris photographs.  And, a French version of "The Little Prince."

And there was this.  Signs posted all over the walls saying "NO PHOTOS."

You can imagine how I felt about that.

For those not familiar with the rich history of Shakespeare & Co., I've included a couple of excerpts from the article I mentioned above.

"Just in case you’re not up to speed, the original Shakespeare & Co opened in 1919 at 8 rue Dupuytren in Saint Germain before moving to a bigger location a few streets over to 12 rue de l’Odéon. This was the original bookstore that became a second home to the members of the “lost generation” including Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and so on.

The Shakespeare & Co we know today facing the Notre Dame along the river Seine was opened in 1951 by American ex-serviceman George Whitman, under the name Le Mistral. In the absence of Sylvia’s store, after which he modeled his, Whitman’s bookstore also became a focal point for literary culture in bohemian Paris, this time for the beat generation; nurturing the likes of Allen Ginsburg, Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin. George befriended Sylvia in her retirement and while dining together one night in 1958, she publicly announced that she was handing the name to him for his bookshop. It wasn’t until Sylvia Beach died in 1964 that Whitman renamed the shop Shakespeare and Company in her memory. He described the name as “a novel in three words”.

Original store with owner Sylvia Beach in the doorway

As it is today

Au revoir Paris, Jusqu'à la prochaine fois

Friday, October 20, 2017

It's impossible to get any sleep around here

Sometimes I get so irritated with my mom.

She's awfully attached to that camera of hers . . . 

If she thinks I look so cute when I'm sleeping, WHY does she wake me up?!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saving my Euros (and my pennies)

These are Euro coins I brought home with me.

They're going right back into my little Paris piggy bank for the next adventure,  

wherever it might be . . . 

Who knows.  It might be Paris.

I'm not quite finished with Paris just yet  . . .

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Man in the Wall

Vickie and Lesa and Lisa and I each had a list of things we wanted to do and see in Paris. Many of them were the same.

One of the things on my list was meeting The Man in the Wall.

I read about him in "Atlas Obscura," and was  immediately fascinated.  

If you're not familiar with the book, do look for it. There's also a webpage
Atlas Obscura - Curious and Wondrous Travel Destinations

The Man in the Wall statue is based on the story “Le Passe-Muraille” (“The Walker Through Walls) by the renowned French writer Marcel Ayme.

You can find several articles about him on the web, including this one - https://bonjourparis.com/monuments-and-sights/man-who-could-walk-through-walls-paris-nothing-wei/

The day we were walking around Montmartre we found him.

Truthfully? I doubt very seriously that I could have found him on my own. But Lisa Aiken Butler gets all kinds of gold stars and high fives for being one heck of an intrepid finder of places and reader of maps.

We were just walking along when I heard her say, "Well, here's your man in the wall, Kaye."
I could not believe it and I was over the moon happy.

Unbeknownst to me, Vickie took a very fun video of me "meeting" The Man in the Wall in Paris, which you can see if you click here.

And here's some photos.

I hope to see this guy again some day.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Food in Paris, and the Women who Loved it

When we arrived in Paris we went immediately to our apartment, dropped off our bags and went out to explore our neighborhood.

One of the things we discovered was a wealth of markets.  And restaurants.

We were happy women.

And we just got happier by the day.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time putting these photos in order, or talk about them, so just enjoy one of the best things about Paris - the food!  And the lovely little markets, restaurants, cafes and bistros that fed us well for the week we were there.

Au revoir Paris, Jusqu'à la prochaine fois