Hat Maker Extraordinaire

In a brief departure from photographing blooms and families, I had the real pleasure of photographing a friend and extraordinary milliner. She makes the most amazing hats and kindly modeled them for me. Not only that, she made her dresses, too. A special woman with so many talents. If you need a one of kind hat – she is the person to call or email! (moniquexp10@hotmail.com)

When is a turtle more than a turtle?


The other day, I carried a turtle all around Paris.  I have become that person.  Years ago when we lived in Africa, a friend from the embassy told me the story of an American lady living in Africa who wanted to return to the US, but she also wanted to travel with a turtle in her pocket.  Because you can’t always have your cake and eat it too, the turtle was denied at the plane.  Hysterics ensued, the lady refused to give up said turtle, and embassy authorities were called in to mediate.  I don’t remember the end of the story, but I am picturing the two: lady and her turtle, sitting happily together somewhere in the middle of Africa watching a sunset and drinking a Tusker beer.  At that time, I didn’t really get it.  Now I am wiser. This was not lost on me the other day as I paraded from taxi, to metro, and finally on foot with a small turtle tucked into my backpack– all the while nursing a terrific hangover that under different circumstances would have kept me in bed most of the day.

Back to the beginning:  My son was given a turtle.  I told him I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.  Dad said he would handle the turtle during upcoming summer break and move to a new apartment.  Dad traveled, Dad forgot. Seventeen year old son in tears.  Mom caved.  Mom gets the turtle.  Those are the basics of how I ended up with Squirt in my backpack.At the time, perhaps because of hangover, I didn’t not really pause to think why my son was crying over a turtle that he had for about 6 months.  What I didn’t see at the time, was that the turtle was a gift from a friend, it was a tie to the previous school year and all that happened, including the death of a friend’s mom a week prior.  What I didn’t see was that 17 is still young and still boiling with emotions.  I didn’t see that giving up the turtle meant moving on.  I see that more clearly now.

After agreeing to figure out the turtle situation (nooo, I don’t mean flush him down the toilet) I helped my son empty the stinking (literally) tank, pack it up, and put Squirt safely in a plastic case for transport.  My first stop was to drop off some things for storage.  With no firm plan and only 24 hours left in Paris to figure out Squirtgate 2016, I dropped the very large and unwieldy aquarium on the side of the road as a free give away.  Travelling lighter now, I considered my options.

My first and favorite plan was to find a Chinese restaurant with a fish tank and quietly slip Squirt into the tank while I distracted the waiter with questions about vegan dim sum.  I was actually plotting out how to do this… I could actually, in my mind’s eye, envision myself with a large menu distracting the waiter, flipping pages, dropping something, then slipping Squirt to his new home.  I mean if you visualize something, it can happen, right.  At least that is what they say.

Option two: drop Squirt off at the lake in the park and let nature take its course.  A bit harsh, but then he may provide a swan or fish some extra protein.  Or he might live happily ever after, who am I to say?
At the time – I didn’t know there was an option three – give him to BFF in Paris and let her figure this out.  I love this plan and I didn’t even have to visualize it!  What I love even more, is that after 12 moves in 22 years – I can say I have a BFF in Paris!.  How did I ever get so lucky?  Being a nomad is emotionally exhausting.  (Is this what my son was feeling, too?)  I have been graced with amazing friendships over the years – people I can count on all over the world. People who I can leave a turtle with.

As I may have mentioned, I had a hangover and so did BFF.  Some friends and I had an impromptu reunion the night before and one glass of rosé led to another, one cigarette turned into another, one conversation turned into another, one Justin Beiber song turned into another, and around 2:30a.m., BFF and I were staggering home.  (She says I made her walk, I say we couldn’t find a taxi.)  So, by the time I got the turtle the next day, I decided I needed a five minute break before taking Squirt to his final resting place, err I mean home.  I stop into BFF’s house and proudly announce: “Guess what I have in my backpack?!  A TURTLE!!”

Right on cue, her son says: “I want a turtle!”  (Even though they are moving in a few weeks and they may be the crazy Americans with a turtle in their pocket on a plane.  I have to think that because of hangover, BFF’s reasoning powers were a little slow.)  Squirt had just received a call from the governor and had a few weeks of reprieve to safely swim in his tank!!

Oh, but … I had left his tank on the side of the road several blocks (which felt like miles) away.  Squirt safely with boy, I trudge down the block to see if the tank is still there.  Praise the lord – no one decided they needed an aquarium in the 30 minutes it was left there.  I carry the glass tank back to BFF’s house, and set ‘er up. Squirt has never looked so happy.  Actually, I couldn’t tell.  He’s a turtle.  But I sure felt relieved and so did my son.

Now, I am feeling deeply indebted to BFF – but then I remember a time months ago when I gave her my Teva sandals to wear while I strolled on the feces covered streets of Paris barefoot, carrying her Louboutins, because she couldn’t walk another step in heels .  The balance might not exactly be even, but who’s keeping track?  That is what friends are for, right?

P.S.  I sent a sneak peak of this story to BFF to give her a morning giggle.  She promptly wrote back: “Not to go all dark on you, but can you read this at the after party at my wake.”  Please note she didn’t ask me to give the eulogy, but I guess after party will do.










Mrs. Misadventures – The next installment

Her shoes
My shoes

*Real shoes have been changed to protect the identity of the owner.  And beware, if you are my friend, and you do something I find funny, I may tell everyone about it!

Remember my friend with the Vera Bradley bag at the Dune de Pilat?  The very very large Vera Bradley bag I had to help her lug straight up the biggest and steepest sand dune in Europe??? Well, here is chapter two of the Mrs. Misadventures:
The other weekend we both attended a very fun farewell party in honor of a dear friend. A bit of wine consumed.  There was lots of dancing.  Most ladies liberated themselves of their high heels so there could be more dancing.  Me – ever the practical one – had worn my very favorite and very broken-in Keen sandals under a long skirt – because I had to rush from a dinner party to the farewell party.  Of course I walked the mile from my house to the dinner party and then another mile to the farewell party- who needs a taxi or metro when you have comfy shoes?
Well – lets just say by the end of the night my friend could not bear to put back on her gorgeous heels and started walking out of our friend’s apartment barefoot.  For heavens sake – my dog poops on these streets! I could not let her go barefoot – or heaven forbid call an UBER.  So, guess who ended up wearing the sandals?  And guess who ended up in the high heels?  We were quite a sight – me in her heels two sizes too big, and her in my sandals, two sizes too small.  I think the whole neighborhood heard us laughing and clicking and clacking down the road.
In anycase, we made it back safe and sound, ready for the next adventure.  And I am holding her heels hostage until she learns how to pack light for out next trip.

Chocolate cake cure-all


     It is Saturday as I write this and I just realized that on Tuesday I have book group and I have not even started the book.  We are reading Still Alice (about an accomplished professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s)- so on the bright side, I can say I read it, but can’t remember anything, and hopefully garner some sympathy.
     Speaking of forgetting – it is a very very good thing to sometimes have a bad (or selective) memory.  It can make life a bit easier.  It works great when you need to forget about the moped driver who almost ran you over or the diet you are supposed to be on – not so great when you have to go to the store to pick up the cocoa powder you forgot, twice.  Which brings me to chocolate cake, that also makes life easier.
     Today is baking therapy and everything seems right in the world if you have a homemade chocolate cake in front of you and some appreciative teenagers to share it with.  My recipe is from the “Add A Pinch’ website http://addapinch.com/cooking/the-best-chocolate-cake-recipe-ever/, and I have to agree, if it is not the best, it sure is up there.
     P.S.  I ate that whole piece of cake right after I took the picture.  What diet??  I don’t remember any diet?!

Bloopers vs. highlights – how do you see yourself?


Funny how things look different from another person’s perspective.  At any given time, I feel like a mess.  I have a million things constantly going through my mind. Some things are minor, like who is going to take out the trash.  And some are major:  what am I doing with my life; I put my foot in my mouth (again); why didn’t I do A instead of B and then everything would have been perfect; what am I going to do in the next 10 years to make my mark in this world; and are my kids going to be okay??  I usually have no answers, but I keep plodding ahead putting one foot in front of the other and hoping it will all come together.  At least the trash always gets taken out.  And yet, I think from the outside, I look relatively put together.  I was thinking about this today after someone complimented me and my first reaction was to dismiss the kind words, and secondly to beat myself up and say it wasn’t anything special.  Then it reminded me of something I heard while back  “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  I find it is so true for me, and perhaps for others too: judging ourselves too harshly and failing to give ourselves credit where due.   It seems so easy to be generous with others and look at their positives, and so easy to focus on our own negatives.  Anyway – just a thought for today if you find yourself turning down a compliment or looking harshly at one of your bloopers  – just remember – everyone else is looking at your highlight reel – and you should too!


Fashion on Parade – Paris Fashion Week – Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2015/2016

Red, white and black
Red, white and black
Red, white and black
Red, white and black

Fashion is a parade and this couldn’t be more evident than Paris Fashion Week.  This weekend, I have been hanging out on the the fringes of Paris Fashion Week, taking pictures of and participating in the circus of people posing, strutting, begging for attention.  I really love the street fashion, the energy, and the camaraderie of those out there enjoying fashion during these sunny March days.  Were people begging for attention? Yes.  Were some of the outfits unwearable? Yes, at least for me.  But I soaked up all the pageantry.  And, I may have used up my fifteen minutes of fame…dragging along my little Brando, who quickly became a subject of photographs himself.  The star moment was when a designer Natasha Zinko (http://www.natashazinko.com/) (top collage, right) asked if she could pose with B.  So fun!  I can see why the fashionistas dress up – the attention can be a bit intoxicating.   The girl in the cape (bottom collage bottom left) is taking a picture of B as I take a picture of her.  Here is a small collection of things that caught my eye over the weekend.  More to follow as I sift through and take more photographs over the coming week!