Saturday, May 4, 2013

we'll always have Paris- LOL

we had no wait at passport control so we were on the train to the St Michel interchange in a short time. the train ride seemed quite quick - because we had arrived on Monday morning around 10:30 we had a quiet ride-

We got to St Michel and changed to the C train on the RER so we could get off at the Orsay stop - our hotel is about a ten minute walk from there (even dragging luggage) - when we arrived at our hotel we were lucky enough to have to only wait a few minutes for our room (free breakfast and wi-fi included) at the K+K Cayre on the Boulevard Raspail at the Rue du Bac metro station (line12).

we have stayed here at least twice before and find the location quite good and the rooms a decent value (given Paris prices) and the breakfast worth getting up for! We got things organized and then went to sleep for a short nap- we skipped lunch and headed out for an early dinner to La Petit Chaise (reportedly among the oldest restaurants in Paris) we had dined there twice before and found them welcoming and the menu with good traditional selections but not too many that choosing is difficult. (I remembered the evening that Phil and TB and I landed in Auckland walking up to K- Road and being like zombies - no one could make a decision on where to eat so we ended up back at the hotel for a mediocre meal.) no such problem in Paris...

We split the escargot and foie gras starters. Then he had lamb and I had fish - a sizable portion that I couldn't finish. we finished with dessert but who remembers what...LOL- that is the way it is on day one- and the perfect reason to just go to the place a few blocks away and have a nice but not extravagant meal to enjoy even though you are not "all there"...LOL

so a stroll home - where we passed a practice session which we heard through an open door and then saw in a window at the sidewalk-

and saw one of those exquisite shop windows that they do so well in Paris-

and then noted that even after dinner we still had a little bit of sun on the buildings across the street from our hotel - and a blue sky! Such a nice change after such a bad couple of weeks at home...

then early to bed, after making plans on how to get to the Promenade Plantee the next day- this is also known as the Coulee Verte in case you can't find a reference to the other name. It runs 4.5km from the area behind the Opera Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. But more about that in the next post.....

first New York...

so off we went - again- having been home less than two weeks (in my case, less than three days) to NYC to see the kids and our friends and hopefully see/feel warmer weather...

we arrived on Friday late afternoon and after checking into our hotel in Chelsea we headed out to meet Lee for a drink and then the three of us met Angela for dinner.  we went to Lusardi's - an old favorite we hadn't visited for a while. Lee was leaving town the next morning so we were happy to see him before he went. we had plans with Angela for tea on Sunday at the Plaza.

we slept late on Saturday but made it to Hakkessan for their prix fixe lunch where we had an awesome meal that ended with incredibly fresh macarons!

walking home from the subway we go the full feel of the spring blossoms on nearly every tree.  NYC is at least two weeks ahead of our bloom (or in this case- lack thereof)

dinner was at Craft with Jeremy and Jenna- a very good meal and generally enjoyable evening.  we walked home from the restaurant in the "just warm enough" evening weather. 

Sunday found us back with Angela at tea- lots of little sandwiches and pastries and cakes etc... overall my review is - Lady Mendl's is a better experience of high tea than the plaza but having never had tea there it is worth doing once...

then we went to Madison Square Park and sat outside in the sunshine and talked to several tables of folks doing the exact same thing while enjoying their various lunches and afternoon snacks- many had things from Eataly and others from Shake Shack and still others from Pret a Manger.... something for everyone.  Everyone was in a good mood because it was sunny and warm - a perfect day to sit and enjoy the view of the iconic Flatiron Building across the intersection.

around 8PM we met Laure and Arno for dinner at the North End Grill (good short rib burgers!) - it was the only time our paths crossed during this weekend as they had just hours before returned from Paris and we were headed out Monday.

on Monday we had lunch at Gotham Bar & Grill in the village - so we knew we would have one good meal before we headed to airport-land and airplane food... it was an excellent meal and we met some folks from Colombia who were seated at the table next to us.  they were on their way to the High Line... we mentioned that we were headed to Paris and planned to do the Parisian version of the High Line (the promenade plantee) when we were there.  they asked me quite a bit about my trip to Colombia last year and were thrilled that I had good things to say about their native country (they all lived in various US cities now)

we headed to the airport for our flight- no upgrades came through and - in the incredible shrinking plane saga the US is now going through - so we ended up in coach on an international flight to Europe on a 757! - yes you read that one correctly - a 757.  I thought going smaller was impossible after they started taking the 777 out of service to CDG and went to the 767s but I was wrong - you simply cannot underestimate how passenger unfriendly the US legacy carriers can become- each time they will surprise you anew- the plane size obviously affected the number of upgrades available as well.

we soldiered on and the next morning we were on the train from CDG into the city of light! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

a day of sorrow

this morning we wept when we learned that a dear family friend had lost his very young son Luke.  Luke was an amazing little boy who was smart and funny and happy despite suffering horrendous medical problems from the age of two. I still recall the Thanksgiving Weekend years ago when we found out Luke had been diagnosed with brain cancer.  He was barely two.  He soldiered through chemo and various other treatments to become a cancer survivor by the ripe old age of four.

the chemotherapy has left him with a hearing loss but he learned to speak quite well with the use of hearing aids.  He was extremely articulate and shared his joy and sense of humor with us each time we saw him.  Because he was immuno-compromised he was not allowed to have tons of interaction with other kids (petri dishes that they are...) so he grew up in adult company. 

the last time we saw Luke he made beautiful drawings for us.  I posted his drawing for me on an earlier blog post last January.  here it is again-

you can see it is filled with love and joy (and dominoes!) and signed Love, Luke. 

Shortly after this drawing Luke became ill - not the cancer again - he was still cancer free when he passed away this morning.  He was suffering the loss of lung function, a side effect of the chemotherapy he underwent to save his life four years earlier.  His situation deteriorated and he was taken north to Philadelphia to the Children's Hospital for specialist treatment. About a week ago he was too ill to see anyone but his parents and was in ICU awaiting a lung transplant.  Just a day ago he was flown to Columbus where a donor was located but he never made it to surgery.

I cry as I type these words- the brave little soul passed into spirit this morning. He was such an amazing little kid and it is such a painful loss to everyone who knew him but especially to his parents Brian and Lisa. He was so treasured by his parents.  And in a bitter irony that life sometimes deals out- Brian trained and worked for many years as a respiratory therapist. 

you know- sometimes life sucks and when it does we have to hold on to those things we have that get us through- the love of our friends and family, faith, joy in small pleasures and treasured moments. My heart aches for all of those who loved Luke and feel the loss with his passing.

And I am reminded again that life is short- that everything on this physical plane can be gone in an instant. For any of us....  Do the things you love, spend time with those you love and who create more joy in your life.  Go NOW, do NOW, don't wait - don't wait... there is too little time not to focus on the loving, the joy, the happiness.

Today I am remembering Luke the day he created the drawing filled with love above.  And, I am crying....