Friday, December 25, 2015

Lopez Island Birds I

After all the birds of Paris that I have posted it might seem as if I don’t think there are birds of consequence to be seen elsewhere.

But the would not be true

I see birds everywhere.

And they are all consequential.

At least to me.

And I usually take pictures of them as best as I am able given how close they will let me come to them and in what sort of jumble of nature they have chosen to be when I have encountered them.

And if I have a camera with me.

In general (meaning non bird specific) some years ago I adopted a basic rule: it’s a bad idea to be on the streets of Paris without a camera.

(OK, it’s not that general; but it can be generally applied.)

Its general application came from an incident in Hyde Park in London.

I love that place and have not been able to be in London nearly enough times to get my fill of it.

But on one of the occasions that I was there, I had just entered, having passed the area where the soapbox orators have famously over the years plied their trade, when I heard an unbelievable racket coming from the air over my head.

In retrospect I have realized that it was a lot like the racket made by the Paris Parrots (and the same ones I have seen in Florence) only louder.

Immediately upon hearing the racket I saw its source: there were two really large mostly brilliant green parrots acrobatically gamboling about in the air not far from the soap box orators’ area.

“How odd” I thought.

The next thought was: “why don’t I have a camera?”

In the intervening years the implications of that question have been significant: I have never had anyone believe me that I saw some huge jungle birds flitting about on a crystal blue winter day in Hyde Park.

So the general rule is it’s a bad idea to be anywhere, if you are me, without a camera.

Due to the fact that I generally follow that rule I can post pictures of some North American birds whose pictures I took yesterday.

Because I had my camera with me yesterday when I encountered them.

There are nine images, three each of three types we have up here.

It is probably easy for anyone to name them so I am not going to label any of them.

That means any birders who might stray to this post can have the fun of impressing themselves by identifying the three types.

And just for fun, I am posting a tenth picture with two birds in it.

One will quickly notice that one of the two birds in this picture is different from the birds in the other nine images.

So anyone viewing this post can have the fun of naming that fourth sort of bird.

lopez golden crowned sparrow 122415 00000lopez house finch 122415 00004lopez junco 122415 00002

lopez golden crowned sparrow 122415 00003lopez house finch 122415 00005lopez junco 122415 00003

lopez golden crowned sparrow 122415 00005lopez house finch 122415 00008lopez junco 122415 00004

lopez house finches 122415 00000

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Beauty On The River

When I was walking the river Seine a few days ago I passed spot that is favored for wedding photos.

The subjects of those photos almost always appear to a casual observer- and I am certainly casual - to be Chinese.

I have no idea what was the ethnicity of the young couple that I saw in that venue today, but their religion was clearly Muslin.

The young woman in a quais-sweeping length white satin gown - neck high of course - had on her head, exposing only her face, what I would call a Martha Washington hat.

Except that it was made of the same material as the gown, not homespun.

And it had several crenelated layers.

And it was really attractive.

God she was beautiful.

I almost asked to take her picture.

Who Is Telling The Truth–Turkey Or Russia?

Besides, I am an American and America is a member of NATO, and Turkey is a member of NATO.

Blogs, Facebook And other Stuff

I got on Facebook and Twitter because that is what was thought to one needed to to do to have any chance at promoting a book one had written.

They didn’t – promote anything – but I do have a bunch of people with whom Facebook provides a pleasant medium of keeping in contact.

Twitter is worthless.

As far as my lifestyle seems to say.

But I only need to be in contact with the rest of the human race every hour or so.

I have signed up for Instagram and I’ll be damned if I know what one is supposed to do with it, let alone how, or why.

Vine was a fun little app when I first got it, particularly because it was impossible not to know how to use it and impossible not to be charmed into doing so.

And the results were pretty charming.

They have fixed those beguiling and useful characteristics in subsequent releases.

The blog – this being a post to it -  was for book promotion.

As noted above, the promotion or the book or both were illusions.

Actually the book is real.

Any chance of a readership was the illusion.

But I keep at the blog because it presents me with the challenge of trying to figure out how to get anyone’s attention.

So far I haven’t – gotten anyone’s attention – but the challenge of keeping trying keeps me from staring at the wall and drooling.

I have a web site that hasn’t had any updates for years.

It was for book promotion.

Book promotion being a gone goose one would think that I would get rid of the web site.

But I keep it so I can click and get some recipes that I have included on the site.

When I forget how to make stuff to eat.

Which is fairly often.

I also have some fun little movies on my site:

Misty Day In Paris

The weather report says rain. 

But anyone from the Pacific Northwest of the United States knows this isn't rain. 

This is mist. 

In Portland and Seattle this is our normal condition. 

Our Lady certainly looks good draped in it. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

What's The Meaning Of This?

Portland State beat Washington State. 

Washington State beat Oregon.

Oregon beat both Stanford and USC 

North Dakota State beat Portland State. 

So who shot John?  

Lunch In Parc Montsourris

I have a favorite bench on the little lake in Parc Montsourris.

There are three of them and mine is the one in the middle.

If I get there after 1300 on a day that isn’t Saturday or Sunday I can usually get it.

That’s where I love to eat a sandwich poulet and drink a little bottle of wine.

I have been doing it for several years.

Today was a Monday that was supposed to be clear and blue skied all day; maybe it was going to be cold; that was good; I came hear expecting Paris’ typical November cold, not the 65 to 70 degree temperatures we have been having.

When I got there I got my bench.

paris lunch at parc montsourris 112315 00001

And after lunch, a walk around the Parc got me some parrot pictures.

paris montsourris parrot 112315 00009

And the rest of the walk yielded some pretty decent pictures also.

paris man in lake at parc montsourris 112315 00000

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Un Autre Jour Au Jardin Des Plantes

As I entered the Jardin and headed to the seed pod tree I saw a lot of small birds flitting around what turns out to be a whole row of the seed pod trees.

In my previous encounter with the seed pods I had been under one tree and had assumed that there was only one tree.

But that turned out to be wrong.

There are a lot of them.

And the little birds whose name I don’t know were having at the seed pods.

They are of a sort that I have been trying to get a decent picture for as long for as I have been pursuing the grail of the parrot.

My camera, of course, was in its case.

By the time I got it out and had it ready none of the little creatures were in evidence.

The had all flitted elsewhere.

So I stood there under the entry tree to the copse, looking stupid.

I’m really good at that standing looking stupid -  and my fellow Parisians acknowledged my skill by ignoring me as they passed.

After not too long one of the little white, black and yellow birds flitted back and I got a few shots.

One of them was pretty good.

paris unknown bird 112215 00004

While I was taking the batch of which this image was one my sentinel self noticed something.

There was a crunching sound a few trees down the path.

And when I awoke from my little yellow/black/white bird image taking I looked in the direction of the crunching.

Parrots again.

paris parrot 112215 00002

paris parrot 112215 00010

paris parrot 112215 00011

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What The Terns Told Me This Morning

A Facebook friend asked me today if I was still having a good time in Paris in spite of “the ruckus”.

Here is my response.

“I believe that (je crois que) you have read my post about being safe.

And that post was from 2010.

As I get ever closer to the grave, being safe bores me more and more shitless.

Having said that, I am having a great time.

Ruckus not noticed.

Tantrums are always best ignored.

And the muslim world is seemingly engulfed in one endless tantrum: they have lost in the battle of ideas (they don't have any other than nihilism) so they are indulging in the always present form of proto-human behavior that is left to those with nothing else: the tantrum.

The one thing I do think about is how easy it might be to highjack a FranPrix barge from down river, load it with Tim McVey type explosives and set it off under Pont Neuf.

That would not be pretty.

That would be a tantrum of some note.

The terns told me this morning they are tired of the whole thing.

paris terns on the seine 112115 00001

Cold Rainy And Wonderful

The weather today was that sort of Paris weather that I love for some reason: cold, intermittently rainy, intermittently sunny and just generally capricious.

I took off loaded with camera and umbrella initially.

The first capricious downpour - close enough to home to allow rethinking - caused me to do that.


I went back home and got rid of the camera.

And then I set out toward Pont Austerlitz.

My plan was to walk down there and then back to Pont St-Michel (the gate way to Le Départ St-Michel) so I could have some soup and wine and kill some time before I headed back to rue Legrange and on to the poulet cookerie so I could buy a poulet for dinner and for several follow on celebrations including a Monday sandwich poulet and wine picnic at Parc Montsourris.

These poulets go a long way.

The clock was the controlling factor.

I wanted to get to Le Départ about 1500.

That way I could do what I do there and then get down to la boucherie after what the weather channel said were going to be mid afternoon downpours.

Once at my table at LD the downpours commenced.

And they wouldn't de-commence no matter how many things additional to the initial soup and wine I orders.

Or how much time passed.

At 33 euros I cried uncle.

But in all that time I had had the chance to contemplate my breakfast and the picture I had posted on Facebook earlier in the day and had decided to use my Photoshop skills to bore the shit out of everybody.

So here is the product of that skill application.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Parrots Of Le Jardin Des Plantes

Yesterday was sometimes sunny sometimes cloudy but not rainy.

It was going to be a good day to start out in le Jardin des Plantes and then see where else I decided to go.

I was thinking that the somewhere else might turn out to be a long walk up Canal St Martin etc. with a right turn at rue de Crimée and on to Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

Walking on the river level to Pont Austerlitz was pleasant as always.

I only experienced three near misses from bicyclists.

And the newly returned cormorants that like the pilings around the police boat dock were in the mood to pose for the camera.

paris cormorant 111815 000006

So I was feeling pretty photographically fulfilled before the day’s walk had really even started.

Since le Jardin des Plantes is one of the places I know to have a population of parrots, I was hoping I might get a shot or two of them.

Paris parrots have been my prime photographic quest ever since the first day, five years ago almost to the November day, in Parc Montsourris that I first saw one.

I have never gotten a really, really good picture of one.

I have always forgotten to make some last minute adjustment to the camera, or I had the wrong camera with the wrong lens, or – something, always something.

Today, I believed, was different.

I had the best camera with the best lens and I had it set for the light conditions of the moment and the focus mode set to “parrot”.

As I entered the Jardin I started listening.

I always find parrots by hearing them before I ever see one.

Shortly into the Jardin I began hearing their shrieks and wandered in their direction, which was to a densely treed area on the zoo side of the Jardin.

I could hear them but not see them.

The trees still have enough leaves to make seeing a bird in them difficult; in any event the trees are so tall that even if I did see one it would be beyond optimum reach of my lens.

But I kept following their sounds.

For no reason that I can proffer, other than instinct, I glanced away from the direction of the shrieks, to the left across the Jardin’s center of plantings to a little thicket of a couple of evergreens with red berries.

There was a flash of green as a parrot landed on the outside of one of the dense little bush-like trees and settled for a moment.

It was the perfect sized tree with the perfect color of background.

And I got there in time.

And I got a picture that appeared to be going to be the one I have been questing after.

paris parrot 111815 00000

And that was it.

I only got the one shot.

And finally, after five years, I seemed to have everything set to take advantage of the fleeting opportunity.

I waited around for several minutes but the parrots – there had been two or three of them – once flown weren’t returning.

So I wandered back in the direction of the ones I had been looking for earlier and walked and listened and heard but did not see for the depth of the Jardin to its inner depths.

And then I went right and came back along the zoo.

I heard a lot of parrots, saw flits of a few but didn’t get any chances at shots.

I was completing the circumnavigation of that part of the Jardin and was nearly back to the main gate where I was planning to cross the river and walk up to La Bastille when something made me stop.

And I listened.

And I heard, not a shriek or cackle, but a continuous crunching.

I looked up and I was under a tree filled with parrots.

They were all feasting on some kind of seeds that they were getting out of the dried pods on the tree.

I got a lot of pretty good pictures.

paris parrot 111815 00002

paris parrot 111815 00008

paris parrot 111815 00012

paris parrots111815 00002

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Rethinking And An Apology

My knee jerk reaction to 13 November was to speak in anger.

Even in anger I attempted to leaven what I said with what I thought was a rational, trigger mechanism, if-then statement.

And I think  – in a perfect world – it would stand any test of reason or fairness.

Even allowing for the underlying anger.

But there is no perfect world, and I know that, at least as well as anybody.

Luckily my own countrymen have risen up in demagogic, and self serving fury, and they have called my bluff.

If indeed it had been a bluff.

Which I would have bet it hadn’t been.

But whatever it might have been, they have called it.

And I am sorry for saying something that has element of being opposed to something in which I deeply believe.

Which is that is that we all ought to be able to go and live and contribute where we can best realize whatever it is that it means to be human.

The various – 27 strong – governors of various United States states who are saying they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states are both charlatans (they can’t call that shot) and chicken shit assholes.

But then, as I understand it, all but one are republicans.

Let Them Eat Chocolate

I mentioned in a previous post that Mysti, when she doesn’t want to come to Paris and I do, assigns me quests.

The night gown quest is still in process.

But today I completed, avec panache, je pense, un autre.

She sent me this David Lebovitz post:

and told me to go get her a “treat”.

And to talk to the lady and tell her we wanted to support her.

So I did.

Since the place is just off rue Blanche, which is how I walk from Isle de la Cité to Montmartre, I knew more or less where it was.

And I added the personal quest of buying some miel de bruyere; I added a first leg to a two legged quest: go to le Maison de Miel.

And that turned out well because I learned how to get to la Madeleine in the way a rational human would do it rather than the way I – a no sense of direction human – have always done it.

I got to Maison de Miel, found out that bruyere comes in at least three flavors, from three different places and bought one of each.

From le Maison de Miel I went on to Boulevard Haussmann and retail row.

The windows had gone Christmas.

paris au printemps vitrine 111715 00000

I went up the side of Galeries Lafayette to l’glis de Trinité and up the side of the church on rue Blanche and wiggled around a few streets and got to the quest de chocolate.


Fifty seven euros later I left feeling fulfilled.

In the store I had occasion to talk to a woman who was part of two kibitzers in the place.

She was nice.

As I waited for the never ending 57 euro gift box to be created she and I exchanged various pleasantries.

Among them, I told her how sorry I was for Paris and for France for 13 Novmbre.

She shrugged, and said “we must not want to be safe – we should eat chocolate”.

I guess we must have known each other in another life.

I have never seen the Tuileries this vacant:

paris tuilleries panorama 111715 00000

A Brief Pause?

One of the few things I don’t like about Paris is the frequent need to try to figure out how to walk through vast hoards.

In the last fifteen years I have lived in Paris for somewhere around and aggregate eighteen months.

The longest sojourn was for five months.

I have never seen the Tuileries like this.

paris tuilleries panorama 111715 00000

Monday, November 16, 2015

Not Much Today Except a Magpie

Yesterday turned out quite well from a picture point of view.

Not going through le Jardin de Luxembourg as I had planned caused me to just wander.

And the images that resulted were superior as a result.

Superior in subject matter at least.

I especially liked the kids with guns.

Just in case anybody wondered, the cooked underwear, gave up their baked in blue detergent when I did a wash cycle without dry.

Then I did a dry cycle.

It all turned out well, just like the rest of yesterday.

Luxembourg Gardens was closed again today.

The sign yesterday had said it was going to be closed only 14 and 15 Novembre.

But it was closed today anyway.

I decided to go to Parc Montsourris and see if it was closed again also.

The reason I just wandered off from Luxembourg yesterday was that I assumed that one parc closed, all parcs closed.

Today I decided to test that.

Montsourris was open.

I heard some parrots but I couldn’t get any pictures.

But I got a magpie.

paris magpie 111615 00000

And I got some persimmons, known here as kaki.

paris kaki tree 111615 00002

Not much, but not bad.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Really Beautiful Day In Paris: 111515

Have you ever wondered what happens if you put some laundry liquid directly on some clothes and the dry them in a dryer.

I hadn’t either.

Until today.

After turning on the “On” button of my European machine in my Paris apartment I realized that I had the “Mode” button set to “sechage”.

I hadn’t realized that immediately,however.

I had taken a shower, so some time had passed since I had pushed the “On” button.

Since this was the first time I had used this machine – since my last stay the previous machine that I knew how to use had been replaced – after the shower I took a look at what seemed to be going on in there.

What seemed to be going on in there was that the laundry was being baked.

I looked at the wheels and dials and realized my mistake.

But there was no turning back.

There is no “annulé” button.

And the door is locked once the thing gets going.

I wondered.

But the day was too beautiful to stay and watch my underwear being baked.

So I hit the street.

When I got to le Jardin de Luxembourg it was closed.

No problem: I walked around it until rue Vavin.

I walked down rue Vavin to Boulevard Raspais and to Boulevard St-Germain and left on St-Germain to rue St Dominique. 

That ultimately put me into Champs de Mars so I could cross under the tower and get to the river and walk back to the Island.

I took some pictures.

paris tour eiffel 111515 00000

paris soldiers att tour eiffel 111515 00000

paris sailing ship 111515 00000

paris fishermen 111515 00000

paris fishermen 111515 00001

paris fruit tree on les berges 111515 00000

paris pont alexandre III from invalides 111515 00000

paris poplars 111515 00000

paris shell game 111515 00000

paris soldiers att tour eiffel 111515 00000

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Muslims Can’t Keep Having It Both Ways

According to the BBC, yesterday's attacks were conducted by native born French muslims.

The truth of that, is, no doubt still undecided.

But if true, that points to something.

To me that seems to point to three previously obvious conclusions.

The second and third are entirely contingent upon the adjudication of the first.

1. Muslim populations in Western Europe and America better, damn fast, figure out how to ferret out and eliminate their "radical " brethren.

2. The muslim populations of Europe and America seem to be like a bowl of jelly: large portions of them are subject to being and are likely to be "radicalized ".

3. Ten percent of the population of a piece of Western Civilization is too many muslims.

I'm tired of this shit.

I is "radicalized".

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Seventy Three In The Morning: A Ghost Jumps Out In Front of Me

Mysti likes to assign me “quests” when I am in Paris without her.

I don’t think that is why I enjoy being here so much more when she is here with me (no quests) but it might contribute to that ambience.

The current assigned quest is for nightgowns.

She bought some when we were here a year ago that she really likes and she would like me to buy some more of them.

And where I should make that purchase has been, “you know; on rue de Fleurus”.

I haven’t known, and I have been pretty sure that it wasn’t on rue de Fleurus.

Today I walked rue de Fleurus’ whole length and the shop wasn’t there.

But I got to see the plaque at Gertrude Stein’s old building, so I guess all wasn’t lost.

27 rue de Fleurus, if I’m not mistaken.

Gertrude’s old address.

On the plaque.

I have walked rue de Fleurus more times than I can count – it gives me a great excuse to circumnavigate le Jardin de Luxembourg - and I was absolutely sure that the place Mysti wanted me to go to, which I remembered, isn’t on rue de Fleurus.

So the fact that I walked it again was only an act of loyalty, not an act of fulfillment.

I also walked most of rue du Cherche Midi.

I gave serious thought to flailing my way down rue Bonaparte.

But it was after 1500 and Le Départ, in the distance, was calling.

So I went home to Le Départ.


After getting home to the apartment from Le Départ I had some olives from le marché de Maubert Mutalité, read some Patrick O’Brien and took a nap.

Awakening refreshed and dangerous I made some salad dressing with a secret recipe that I have concocted, but – I will divulge its most secret ingredient – includes miel de bruyere, and decided to turn on my ThinkPad.

I had texted Mysti from Le Départ advising what I have already posted here.

So I opened email with some hope of having more guidance on my quest.

That hope was, of course, given a negative  cant by the always present possibility that Comcast – worst company in the world – nobody is in second place – would have figured out how to not have service again.

But there was service.

I guess I should be grateful for Brian Roberts’ marginal service business model: there sometimes is service.

And it only costs twice or more as much as it would in the rest of the advanced world.

But one needs to remember that the American free enterprise system is vastly superior to all other alternatives – except when measured by results, and when measured against other advanced economies’ prices and results.

But we don’t do that in America.

We have learned that asserting things to be true with no blinking and no backing down makes them true.

In the minds of Americans.

Top of the email stack was Mysti’s answer to where is this place, or at least, what is its name.

Sure enough the shop is not on rue de Fleurus.

Sure enough, the quest would come to fruition on rue Vavin.

I never would have come up with that one.

Rue Vavin wasn’t even on the list.

So I responded with thanks to her with my return email.

And that ends up to be the whole reason I have written the rest of all of this boring prose.

I think what follows has – marginal – merit as history.

Here is what I said in that email:

“Thank you.

I did a Google search but I either missed it or - something.

I would never have thought of rue Vavin; I almost did a third trek down rue
Bonaparte and decided to head back to Le Départ instead.

You are about to be associated with a 73 year old man.


I hear it really does come.


As I walked out of Le Départ this afternoon - limped might be better said -
I stopped to yield way to an old man who would have bumped into me if I had
not yielded.

Seemed the christian thing to do.

As I fell in behind him and we both limped on down the quais - he slowly,
and I slowlier so I would stay behind (something made me not want to pass
him) I had an out of body revelation.

And I mean it was really a revelation, and I mean that it was really out of body.

He was me in some not too distant future.

And he was still trudging the quais here in Paris, and lurking near Le

What a pre-birthday gift.

At Le Depart St-Michel

I told myself before I commenced this sojourn that I would post to my blog Le Depart. 

So far I have not. 

So now I am. 

Posting from Le Depart. 

On my iPhone. 

I love this place. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

At The Aquarium

Not the expensive one down by Trocadéro.

The five euro one over by Bois Vincennes.

I love the place.

It is my haven when it’s too rainy to walk for extended parts of the day.

Yesterday it was a place I could go and test my new camera for ability to take fish pictures.

That gave me the chance to not walk so much for a day and see if the hip that has decided not to function properly would settle down a little.

Maybe it did.

But I got some good pictures.

paris aquarium tropicale fish 111115 00000

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